Thursday, July 29, 2010


I did it, I created our monthly menu for August.  Nothing new there, huh?  Another month, more meals to plan for, shop for, prepare for.  Screeeeeeeeech, what is that date that's lurking at the end of the month, that date I normally like because it's payday?  You can't really be serious that August 25 is one month away and Nathan will pack a backpack with a very long list of items from his supply sheet and a cool lunchbox and head to Kindergarten for the first time.  I have had mini-breakdowns every day for the past week.  And there's still a month to go.

As I was shopping today for our dinner menu and tossing in some lunch fun, the thought came to me, will Nathan want to take this for lunch?  Will this be cool enough for him?  Will he have enough time to eat?  I know he can open a fruit cup at home, but what if he makes a mess and gets some juice on his pants and everyone calls him pee-pee pants when it's just fruit juice?  The boy loves some Ramen so we've got to experiment with Ramen in a thermos.  And doesn't he eat wicked early?  He'll be ravenous when I pick him up.  All that brain energy being used requires food.  Let's not even discuss his lunch box choice dilemma.  I have looked at so many I'm close to brown bagging it.

You would think I've never been in a classroom, that I've never been a student, much less a teacher.  I am trying so very hard to allow him to be himself and not get anxious over having the right folder, eraser, pencil, glue stick, hand gel for class.  I want the teacher (oh, who will she be????) to know he's the most amazing kid she'll ever have while at the same time I know he's human and we all have faults.  I want to hope that he'll be a good influence on others and not be overly affected by the things he is exposed to at this age.  I want to hope that he'll make some really good friends.   I want to hope that no one will think twice about some wicked cool braces he has on his legs or that he sometimes falls or that he isn't as fast as others.  I want to hope that I won't miss him so very much, but I already know I will.  I have a month to go on lunch dates with him, play in the pool, shop at Target and leave a popcorn trail.  I have a month to go to the library with him, to visit friends with him, to run off to somewhere for an overnight if we desire.  I'm running out of time to be home with my most amazing Nathan.  

Let me be clear, I have Brady at home and will treasure having some one-on-one time with my little baby because we don't have much of that.  But for five and a half years, Nathan has been  here for me all the time.  Perhaps I have held on to him too tight, but I wasn't about to let him go.  I didn't and don't want to miss a moment with either of them.  And now he's going to be in an ugly old concrete building all day with a strange lady (I'm sure she'll be fine and we'll all love her, but right now she's a stranger) and other strange children and I'm not going to know what all he's doing the whole time.  He loves Brady and playing with him, teaching him, loving on him.  I am not ready for the two of them to be apart for long periods of time.  I believe there's a hidden umbilical cord the two of them share.  He's such an incredible little helper at home and I so enjoy watching him learn.  He soaks up knowledge better than my any sponge I know.  I don't think there's anything he can't do and I'm so very proud of him.  I'm just not ready and I've got less than a month to be ready to drop him off in a classroom with a smile on my face.  Once I walk out Brady and I can fill up at the local bakery and drown our sorrows in some sugary confection.  

Dear God, please, please slow down your clock so I may enjoy these last days of summer with my boys.  Help us to make the most of these days and not be grumpy or grouchy with each other.  It would mean a great deal to me if you could extend summer just a wee bit more, thank you.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

True Gifts

I named this blog Gifts From God, Loved by Mom because my boys are gifts from God.  That's actually the meaning of Nathan's name.  I wanted to leave the blog title to that, but someone else has it.  I added loved by mom-do I really need to explain that?  I also think we all know by now that I am not the most creative marker in the box either so thinking of one of those really catchy names wasn't happening and I thought that naming it after myself was a bit much.  Besides, we all know what I talk about ALL the time.  Tonight I got another glimpse of why I conisder my children to be such perfect gifts from God.  Please don't mistake that for me thinking my children are perfect, they are perfect gifts-like diamonds from Tiffany.

Before I tell you about that let me preface it a just a bit with the week I've had.  The boys and I went to Emerald Isle Tuesday with my parents and Candi's family came down for a bit, too.  Jim left for camp with our middle schoolers Wednesday at 3 am in Kentucky.  I did not get my helpmate, I mean, husband back until last night (Monday) at 1:00am.  Yes, that's a full seven days my boys went without their dad.  Do you have any idea what that means to them?  I am sure this sounds very whiney here, but we are such a family family.  Not a typo, we actually like each other, most of the time, and enjoy our time together.  Not to mention that I so very much rely on Jim to balance out our boys.  They are gifts from God, but this week I think they were a special delivery from somewhere else.  They argued, wrestled, fought, talked back, bickered, didn't eat well, didn't sleep well, and rarely said nice things to each other for seven days.  Maybe I'm exaggerating things a wee bit, but to an overly tired mom who needed a break in there somewhere and now needs a vacation from her "vacation," it's well deserved!  Jim allowed me to sleep in, in Brady's room, this morning!  I know he was exhausted, too, but I think he picked up on the "they are yours today" vibe before they even woke up.  Actually, he was beside himself to be with them again!  We had a pretty good family day, Jim spent most of it rehashing EVERY moment from camp, EVERY moment.  By the end of the night, the boys were back to being the misfits.  What on earth?  I thought having Daddy home would solve that.  Oh, poo.

Jim did take over the nightly routine which is wonderful because brushing teeth and getting ready for bed is just as enjoyable as going to the gyno.  We had a wonderful family devotional time, Brady paid enough attention to be able to answer a question that wasn't God or Jesus (his usual responses and when those two don't work he throws in Moses for good measure).  As I was having my Nathan and me time tonight he gave me a big hug and said, "I've got you chained in, you can't escape."  

I freed myself (almost lost an earring and I'm pretty sure my neck is permanently twisted) and said, "Baby, don't you know my chains are gone, I've been set free."  

He gave his infamous Nathan grin and said, "Mommy, let's sing that version of Amazing Grace together."  He belted it out and asked for more.  I told him we could sing more tomorrow, it was getting late.  

He said, "I'll just sing to myself, how's that?"  

"Sure, buddy, good night, I love you."  And then I did as all good parents do, I listened at the door.  With ginormous tears pouring down my face as he sang and God "rang-sunged" him. He wrapped it up and said outloud to himself, "Oh, yeah, right, MY prayers."  Listening to your five year old son pray independently for you, your husband and your other son and telling God how much he loves Him is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.  I honestly don't know what Jim and I are doing as parents, other than fully trusting in God that He is moving through Nathan and Brady without us.  If He's not then we're bound to seriously mess up, we might anyway, but I hope that God is so firmly rooted in them that our screw-ups can be managed with Him.

So very thankful for the gift of a husband returned and two angels here on earth.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Some things I wish I didn't know

In life there are some things you wish you didn't know or really, who needs to know THAT?  Such as  the age old question of how many licks it takes to finish off a Tootsie Roll Pop or that my dad takes out his front tooth at night. Yep, you're wishing you didn't know that now, too!  Good thing he knows nothing about this blog or what a blog even is!

But there is something I know too much about or maybe not enough, I'm not quite sure.  In the 2386 days, 3 hours, 1 minute and 44 seconds since Wednesday, January 14, 2004 when our lives changed forever, I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about death, grieving, love, grace, redemption and hope.  I have asked countless questions to go along with that knowledge, some that never have answers.  I like to tell myself that having an angel waiting for me has to have some definite earthly reasons.  In the past year, I've found some.  On those occasions, people have come to me regarding infant loss.  They want to KNOW what to do.  It takes everything in me not to laugh.  I know that sounds terribly cruel.  And this comes from the biggest "doer or want-to-be doer" or them all.  I want to be able to do something to fix things.  Well, in these cases nothing can be fixed.  It's just the beginning of an endless journey to mending a hole that has no chance of being repaired.  Once I get beyond that idiot moment, I feel the utmost pain and sorrow for that family and return to that night.  Every image that has been burned into my brain comes flashing back and I try to remember what was most helpful and what would we have liked better. There's an incredible organization out there called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep where they send photographers to the hospital to take pictures of the baby and the family.  These are some beautiful and most treasured items a family can have.  We have some photographs of Harris that a nurse took, but none with us and not nearly to the degree of these.  I always suggest giving them a call so that someone can be sent out soon.  I also suggest encouraging the mom and dad to hold their baby as much as possible.  At first I didn't want to hold Harris.  I was so upset with everything and couldn't handle holding a baby who wasn't living.  How badly I wish I could have those moments back, they were the only moments I had to hold my angel until we meet again in Heaven.  The hospital did a great job with keeping some hair for us and doing footprints and handprints.  My nurse was an angel herself and handled so many of these details for us.  

Here's where it gets tricky about advice.  One of the things Jim and I remember most is having a friend come in and give us both tender hugs and then she left.  There weren't any words, just gentle and tender love from a friend.  So often words that are meant to be hopeful or encouraging can be so damaging. I'd advise not saying anything, simply listening, holding and allowing those grieving to tell their story (over and over and over again).  

My sister, Candi, has had to call me twice in less than a year for two of her friends.  One friend's sweet son, Ayden, earned his wings on August 25 last year.  Both mom and dad are teachers, first day of school and saddest day of their lives. Another friend is more recent.  Candi reached out to me because she knew that I KNEW what loss was like.  My loss is much different that Lindsay and Jeremy's, but we share the grief of having angel babies.  Having my sister call me for her friends taught me two things, Harris lived and died so that I could in a very small way help someone else and so that my sister would be able to help them as well.  Does that make it any easier?  Not on your life.  I don't think I realized the complete magnitude of pain his death caused my family until Ayden died and Candi reached out to Lindsay.  I saw and will never forget the raw pain in their eyes at the hospital when they first entered the room, but I think they all tried to shield me from seeing that afterwards.  Candi went to action immediately and did more behind the scenes work than a stunt double.  VeeCee, in her sweet gentleness, cared for me so very tenderly and I'm sure took orders from Candi. All while they were both in pain.   Who was taking care of them?  Something to know to do, while the parents are suffering, there are other relatives suffering, too.  Take care of them please.

There's so much more to know and do and be and see and all that.  And I really wish I was still ignorant of it all.  However, I am certain, without a doubt, that God's perfect plan is at work in this.  And I am holding on to that with everything in me.  

While this came from another blog, I agree with it whole-heartedly.  And I hope you never have to use it, ever.  But it can't hurt to look it over because every time I get to talk about Harris or his story he lives a little more.

A Bereaved Parent’s Wish List

I wish my child hadn’t died. I wish I had him back.

I wish you wouldn’t be afraid to speak my child’s name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that he was important to you as well.

If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child, I wish you knew that it isn’t because you have hurt me. My child’s death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child, and you have allowed me to share my grief. I thank you for both.

I wish you wouldn’t “kill” my child again by removing his pictures, artwork, or other remembrances from your home.

Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn’t shy away from me. I need you more than ever.

I need diversions, so I do want to hear about you; but I also want you to hear about me. I might be sad and I might cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child, my favorite topic of the day.

I know that you think of and pray for me often. I also know that my child’s death pains you, too. I wish you would let me know things through a phone call, a card or a note, or a real big hug.

I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over in six months. These first months are traumatic for me, but I wish you could understand that my grief will never be over. I will suffer the death of my child until the day I die.

I am working very hard in my recovery, but I wish you could understand that I will never fully recover. I will always miss my child, and I will always grieve that he is dead.

I wish you wouldn’t expect me “not to think about it” or to “be happy”. Neither will happen for a very long time so don’t frustrate yourself.

I don’t want to have a “pity party,” but I do wish you would let me grieve. I must hurt before I can heal.

I wish you understood how my life has shattered. I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I’m feeling miserable. Please be as patient with me as I am with you.

When I say, “I’m doing okay,” I wish you could understand that I don’t feel okay and that I struggle daily.

I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions I’m having are very normal. Depression, anger, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when I’m quiet and withdrawn or irritable and cranky.

Your advice to “take one day at a time” is excellent. I wish you could understand that I’m doing good to handle it all at an hour at a time.

I wish you understood that grief changes people. When my child died, a big part of me died with him. I am not the same person I was before my child died, and I will never be that person again.

I wish very much that you could understand – understand my loss and my grief, my silence and my tears, my void and my pain. But I pray daily that you will never understand.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

New Things

I tried running for the first time this week.  Nothing was chasing me.  My children were not running into the road and no one was after them.  In fact, I thought they were asleep.

Jim and I have been working out at least three times a week since June 1st.  It's been beyond amazing to have a partner in this.  There are many days that I just don't feel like doing anything but reading a book at night.  Jim will come downstairs all suited up and ready forcing my guilt complex into overdrive.  I then must work out with him.  I think I've let myself down twice by not working out with him.  So on Tuesday night when he was out building a boat for camp and I'd had a terribly emotionally draining day, I could have, maybe even should have skipped working out. But I thought, hmph, I'll show him I can do this.  And I even tried something new.  I did my regular stuff with weights and I've worked up to 150 crunches a night.  But then I turned on a podcast for Couch to 5K.  WHAT?  5K, like if I finish this I'll get $5,000, right?  I wish.  I'm going to trust God on that answer and see what happens.  No, really, it's a training technique that prepares your body for running distances.  I've got the Magnificent MILE (yeah, that's my cutie on the slideshow!) coming up in September.  Notice, MILE.  Yep, I need to work myself up for it.  See, I've been working out at home using Leslie Sansone's Walk at Home videos and a Biggest Loser video.  Both are great tools.  Both can be done in the comfort and safety and air conditioning of my home.  No one is watching me for entertainment purposes, it's all great.  So I thought I could swing the Couch to 5K inside, too.  I kinda had to, because I can't just leave my angels in bed while I go off attempting to run.

I took my puffs from my inhaler (recently been confirmed I have asthma, gee, I could have told them that a long time ago), tied my shoes, grabbed some water and pressed play.  It starts out very nicely-listen to some worship songs while you walk.  Hey, anyone can walk for 5 minutes, right?  Then the guy says, "Well, now you're warmed up and ready to RUN, go!"  I went-around in circles, through the kitchen and back around again for 900000000 seconds. Okay, I think it's only 60 second intervals.  During my last run back, I am greeted by Nathan saying, "I really like that song, can you play it again?"  Excuse me, aren't you supposed to be in bed and no, I'm not replaying it because then I'd have to run again!!  I finished up my run/walk and tended to him.  He needs lots of night time stretching lately.

Can I just say how exhilarated I felt after that first night of running?  I wanted to run outside and jump in the puddles from the big storm.  I proclaimed I enjoyed running as my facebook status.  I was envisioning running for fun every night.  I was already thinking of when I would need to replace my shoes and would Bob ever allow me to join his running group.  Then reality set in.  Fortunately I wasn't so out of shape that my body couldn't handle it so I woke up feeling fine and you're supposed to take a day off. Jim and I did another kind of workout the following night.  Then last night (the night I was supposed to run again) I suffered an incredible (not great incredible, but the true meaning of the word-not believable) migraine.  Jim sent me to bed suggesting working out was not in the cards for me.  That brings me to tonight.  Tonight's run was prefaced by a very yummy hamburger and some (NOT about to count) homemade cookies I just had to make for stress relief.  I'm blaming the cookies.  Jim was home so I took the opportunity to venture out with the mp3 player and do my thing.  Oh my...

Poor neighbors who had to watch that spectacle.  They've never seen me out sweating or moving fast.  I'm sure many of them turned on the news looking for end of world happenings.  I passed many of them and held up my player for explanation that I was intent on my workout.  The first five minutes are walking.  LOVE those minutes.  Matt and Nikki were just coming up behind me and I waved with the player to indicate I was on a mission.  Then I had to break out into a 90 second RUN in front of the Juengel house.  Really hoping they weren't home.  It turned out that every time I had to run I was heading uphill.  I need to work on my route!  It was pretty pathetic, but I finished and I can say tonight that I do not enjoy running-outside in high humidity temperatures, or cold temperatures or rainy days or sunny days or perfect days when God is smiling down on me.  He was actually blowing me kisses at every uphill run with a breeze on my face.  Not quite as nice as air conditioning, but there's yet to be air conditioning at the Mag Mile so I better suck it up now!

I am still not in love with running, my shins will let me know tomorrow if I really dislike it and I know I need more girly support.  But I really don't want to give up on this and would like to see how the endurance aspect works.  Wouldn't it be nice to be breathing like a person instead of a Kentucky Derby winner at the end of the Mag MILE?

Monday, July 12, 2010

12 Times to Say I'm Sorry

I received this in my inbox today.

12 Times to Say "I'm Sorry"

Say "I'm Sorry" (and really mean it) whenever you...

• Are wrong.
• Are rude.
• Are defensive.
• Are impatient.
• Are negative.
• Are hurtful.
• Are insensitive.
• Are forgetful.
• Are confused or confusing.
• Have neglected, ignored, or overlooked something important to the one you love.
• Have damaged, misused, or impaired something that is not yours (even if it was an accident).
• Have not said "I'm Sorry" as sincerely and quickly as the situation warranted.

I immediately forwarded it to my husband, even though we share an email account because he wouldn't read it otherwise, with these words:

"I think I probably owe you an I'm Sorry for the rest of our lives based on this.  Wow!

I love you so much and appreciate how much you put up with me!"

Looking at that list completely overwhelms me as a wife, a mother, sister, daughter, friend, coworker, bystander at Walmart, human.  If I take apart the list and examine my daily life, then chances are I need to be saying sorry to someone throughout the day.  I'm not exactly sure I like what this is saying about me.  

  • ARE WRONG-who, me?  Really, there are times when we all make mistakes.  Some are big, some are small, and some really don't make a difference in the big scheme of things.  BUT, taking ownership and responsibility for your actions is the bigger key here to me than the actual mistake. 
  • ARE RUDE-oh yeah!  You better because your mama raised you better.  Is this rude as in you stay in your car with the door open blocking two parking spots when others would love to have your spot because you just need to sit in your car with the door open for a minute and think of your big Aldi purchases?  Or is this rude as in I'm sorry, are you in the room and I'm not even going to bother talking to you rude?   Or is this rude as in you ran over your mom's foot with the heavy shopping cart while she was wearing flip flops after you stomped her foot with your size four shoe?  Say you're sorry and move on.  I'm sure the victim already has...
  • ARE DEFENSIVE-or maybe they haven't.  So you kinda knew that your hubs was on edge about something yet you continued to push because you were on edge.  Well, eventually someone's got to fall off that edge.
  • ARE IMPATIENT-wait, there's more?  With life's circumstances, with day-to-day why does it take you so long to do THAT?, with that same rude person at Aldi?  Hmmm, I cannot imagine being impatient.  But I'd rather apologize for it than pray for it's opposite!
  • NEGATIVE-as in not positive?  I have to be sorry for that, too?!  Well, yes, think of all the positive things in your life, do they not outweigh those pesky little negative ones?  Especially when you're talking about PEOPLE and not things.  Positive thoughts, positive thoughts, positive thoughts...all facebook statuses must now be positive.  Let's see how long that lasts (Whoa, there, is that negativity or just sarcasm?)
  • HURTFUL-ouch, do I need a bandaid?  Again, so many meanings.  Intentional and unintentional.  I could spend every waking hour debating whether or not the things I've said or done throughout the day are hurtful to others or not. Then the responsibility character flaw I have would totally freak out wanting to not allow any words to come out for fear of being hurtful.  I don't think I'm ever intentionally hurtful, but you NEVER know how others will take what you say (or write)-we're humans after all.  I am always asking Jim, "Do you think that what I said, did, didn't say or do, upset him/her?"  It's a never ending battle of sarcasm and my attempts to be funny along with my just not being that smart sometimes.
  • INSENSITIVE-did you feel that?  Some people have this problem of saying things without realizing that others have a heart.  Some of us with that heart tend to have been born with a more fragile heart than others.  We're just a bit sensitive when you say, "Uh, are you going to wear that?"  Consider your wording and how you would feel if you weren't born with a shatterproof heart.
  • FORGETFUL-what did you say again?  I'm sorry.  I'll go ahead and tell you that now. Nathan will tell you that I am THE most forgetful person he knows.  I must tell people to remind me of things several times.  I write notes to myself to remember, I email myself, text myself, set alarms, cover my world in post-its; yet I forget things.  I've been borrowing Nathan's brain for the past few years.  "Nathan, remind me to run by the office.  Then we need to return the library books, then drop off the recycling."  He reminds me to turn left just as I'm about to zoom through the light instead of dropping off the recycling that is sitting right NEXT to me in the car!  What was that you said???
  • ARE CONFUSING or CONFUSED-huh?  Again, I'm sorry, I don't get this one.  Does this mean I've confused you about what I'm trying to explain (that's why I say, "Does that make sense to you?")  Or am I apologizing for being confused?  Then we're in a heap of trouble because we may both end up on a continuous cycle of apology.  That would be U-G-L-Y.  There was a not nice U-G-L-Y cheer when I was growing up, now that's something worthy of an apology.
  • HAVE NEGLECTED, IGNORED, OR OVERLOOKED SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO THE ONE YOU LOVE-about that...Well, I meant to, but I got confused and forgot.  I got the note from the dog that we're supposed to feed him, every day because he can't do it himself.  You mean you didn't notice I bought this wicked hot dress and heels-I've made an appointment at the optometrist for you.  Nope, I haven't spent the last three weeks working on that project, nope, nothing to pick up on there. 
  • HAVE DAMAGED, MISUSED, OR IMPAIRED SOMETHING THAT IS NOT YOURS (EVEN IF IT WAS AN ACCIDENT)-you have insurance, right?  Thanks for letting me borrow your _________, no, it's in mint condition just like when you loaned it to me.  What, the car is totaled? the table is scratched? the rack is broken??  Oh, that's right, I loaned them to you JUST LIKE THAT.  Seriously, I know your mama raised you better than that.  And just for the record, I'm sure I apologized and am still apologizing for totaling my sister's car sixteen years ago.
  • HAVE NOT SAID "I'M SORRY" AS SINCERELY AND QUICKLY AS THE SITUATION WARRANTED-yes, you have to apologize to him and mean it.  We're not toddlers and preschoolers anymore.  We have to stand behind our words and actions. I tell the boys to not even bother saying it if they don't mean it.  But don't wait until someone (me) has forgotten about it to say sorry.  Some people get off so easy on that technicality with me.  They know I'm forgetful!
While I don't think I'm an evil person I do see where I need to let go of some things in my life so that I don't have so many potential opportunities to say I'm sorry.  I think they could have included this one:
  • NOT SAYING THANK YOU SOON ENOUGH-because low and behold I'm terribly guilty of it.  And the person I'm thanking (with a note) has most likely forgotten their good deed. It's not that I don't write them, I enjoy writing them, I just never get them to the post office or get a stamp on them.  Shame, shame, shame on me.  And I'm sorry and thank you.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Lord is like a shepherd to me. A shepherd takes care of his sheep. The Lord takes care of me. He gives me everything I need. He gives me nice places to rest and good water to drink. He helps me to be strong. He helps me do the right things. Even when something sad happens, I am not afraid. I know the Lord will be with me. The Lord makes me strong when I face my enemies. He honors me. He gives me more than I need. I know God will love me all my life. And I will live with Him forever.

There's your easy button, folks. This came from The International Children's Story Bible by Word Publishing. The boys have gotten quite a collection of Bibles going and love to hand me a different one each day to pull from. Each scripture has an illustration from a child from somewhere on the globe. It's adorable. I opened this version today and my hands went to this page. Exactly what I needed to hear and in these simple words. No green pastures or still waters, but a nice place to rest & water to drink. That's about all this spent mind and heart can accept so my God knows exactly what to offer. How grateful am I to have Him and to have two children to hand me exactly what I need when I need it?!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Little Boys Smell(s)

As I was writing the title I couldn't decide if it should be Little Boys Smell or Little Boys Smells.  I'm thinking about both here so either fit.  Nathan and Brady met a new friend today.  His name is Nathan and he has CP.  He has the same physical therapist my Nathan has and she suggested me to the mom for someone to talk to.  Someone who encourages and challenges her children (who walk differently, not sure I'll use that D word or that H word, ever) to do whatever their bodies allow, whatever their hearts beg them to do, however they can get it done.  Of course we arranged this meeting two weeks ago unaware that it would be in the high 90s this week.  We planned an early morning playground meeting, but after an hour we took it inside.  My boys were sweating enough to fill our pool.  The great thing about little boy sweat is that is smells like little boy.  It doesn't smell like middle school camp or my sister's old CRV.  It has the harmonious blend of dirt, frogs, and puppy dog tails!  Actually, for my boys, that's not too far off.  Just add in some Nathanness and Bradyness and you've got the most perfect arrangement for your nasal factory.  While it's not something you'd find on the shelves of your local department store for purchase-I know, without a doubt that in twenty years I will be wishing I had bottled some of that up.  A friend saw the boys during this sweaty time and she hugged both boys tight.  I could tell by the look in her eye when she mentioned their smell that she was thinking of her sons at that age (they are now my age).  As I held my sweet Nathan tonight during our devotional I tucked my nose into his fluffy brown hair and deeply breathed in.  I couldn't get enough of him-sweaty, freshly bathed-he's been created so perfectly.  I'm trying to capture and savor that smell.  He'll be one of my Crossings middle schoolers before long and well, we know what they smell like!  And I'm not even going to write about the other many ways my boys like to make things smell in our house...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Amazing Grace

We all have them, those moments where we're simply in the car, heading from A to B hoping we get there in one piece a bit less frazzled than before and on time.  I'm terrible about running late, I always think I have time but it never works out-another story.  I'll confess that when I'm driving I have a few different states of mind:

1. I'm driving, I don't hear you back there.  I'm thinking about this and that.
2. I'm praying or at least talking in my head to God, not an announced, "Hey God, it's me" prayer, but a "This is what all is going on, what do You think about it?"
3. Ahh, it's quiet back there.
4. Wow, they are getting along nicely, aww, man, jinxed that.
5. Hey boys, what do you think about..., how about..., do you remember the time?, well, I'm not sure why God gave boys man boobies.

Oh, I'm supposed to focus on the road?  Yes, I see the black top, white stripes in front of me and the cars all around.  But my mind is so often somewhere else, I have God to thank every time we make it home each day.  Today I was having movie scene visions of other cars crashing into us while we were laughing along.  The other night I dreamed about Jim driving off a walkway/pier into the ocean while high school friends watched and I desperately tried to get the boys unbuckled.

Anyway, today I don't know exactly where I landed in those states.  I'm pretty sure it was close to number four without the jinx happening.  We were just about to turn onto University Drive by Girl Lowes when Nathan asked me to turn the radio up.  I couldn't hear anything so I was surprised when he said, "I really like this song."  It was Chris Tomlin's Amazing Grace-My Chains Are Gone.  Nathan has loved Amazing Grace for as long as I can remember.  He went months having me sing it to him (the original) every night before bed, all the stanzas.  He so beautifully sang it at my Grandmother's funeral. So today he begins singing.  I don't think anyone in our family will ever be on American Idol or even in the choir at St. Mark's, but to hear the words of that song come out of his mouth has got to be what Heaven is like.  I looked back and saw Brady mouthing along with him.  I need to help him learn the lyrics, too.  Nathan then asked me to sing along.  I didn't want to, I love that song, too.  But I so badly wanted to just listen to my angels singing.  It was one of those moments in the car where passersby would think I just either just heard terrible news or was leaving a funeral there were so many tears just pouring down my face.  But if they had met me at a stop light, I am pretty sure they would have seen the radiance of God shining through me (and all of us) as I got to fully experience Him through my children.  And I'm not sure that my attempt to put it into words has been justified.  It's been one of those days where being a mom has been easy, joyful, and something to tuck into my noggin and heart for days that aren't quite like it.  I'd find myself smiling at random times today just thinking about my boys.  Such a blessing and I am so incredibly thankful.

It's been way too long and I don't even know where to begin.  But I'm thinking that the last month of sleepless nights can be cured with writing.  We've had THE busiest summer to date and to think my children are only three and five wears me out.  I can only imagine how much busier they'll be when they are older.  Nathan was concerned about missing his friends when preschool ended, but he hasn't had time yet. 

We finished school, then had swim lessons so we could confirm Nathan is a fish.  Then both boys were gifted a week at Kopper Top Camp.  It's an amazing camp in Liberty where the boys were on a farm all morning long and worked with horses, rode them and interacted with all sorts of farm animals.  Every day they came home sweaty, dirty, tired and deliriously happy.  We are forever grateful for this gift knowing we could not repay the price of this experience for them. 

During that time I was gifted SOME alone time.  Much of those days I had plans, but on Wednesday of that week, I spent the entire day at a friend's pool.  Not my pool, with lots of others and the rowdy neighborhood teenagers, but a pool all to myself.  I read a book, swam some laps, listened to music of my choosing and thought about never coming off that floaty chair.  It was the first completely guilt free moment I've had in almost six years.  I say guilt free because when we have date night or when I have a time for myself, I always feel guilty about leaving the boys.  Or I feel like I "owe" Jim some alone time later so it's not really free.  This may not make sense to others, but it's how my bizarre brain works.  So, for this one day, my husband was at work, my children were so very happy at camp until whenever I wanted to pick them up (could have been 5-6pm if I wanted) and I was on my own.  I debated for the longest time about going to stores, you know getting in and out of the car ALONE, but what fun is that?  I would end up talking to myself because they weren't with me to talk to.  And I didn't want to tempt myself with wanting to buy things.  I essentially "wasted" a day by doing nothing.  However, that wasted day was extremely beneficial to my well-being.  It would have been better if I made sure to put Jim down for the emergency contact that day.  Every time my phone rang I jumped out of the pool to make sure it wasn't camp.  Wouldn't you know that would be the day that I got about fifteen calls?  Seriously, my phone never rings except on this day and I didn't answer it.  That's why they made voicemail!  I picked up my children earlier than necessary because of some thunderstorms, but when I did pick them up I was a relaxed mommy who didn't mind that they were wet, cranky and had eaten three packages of fruit chew thingies.  If this ever happens to me again, I'll also be wise enough to have dinner already made so my day-of-do-nothing can continue!  The biggest problem with do nothing days-they have a habit of running over.  By the end of the week I had five loads of laundry to wash and put away.  Oh well.  God calls us to rest on the Sabbath.  I know Biblical time frames are different from ours.  So I'm thinking that my once in 6 years day of rest is equal to one Biblical day of rest, right?