Friday, September 26, 2014

Weary Angels

Do angels get tired? This is a question I think I'm going to ask God one day. Also, what kind of a "thank you" gift does one give to an angel?

You see, Roo has had quite a couple of weeks. He's given us a few scares. There was the regular kind of scare, like the night he was up with croup for hours, and I sat up with him and snuggled him and debated and debated whether or not to take him to the ER--since every time we go, he is a million percent better by the time we get there. We made it through right here at home, and he was breathing fine by late morning, but it is still not a fun experience.

And then there was the mysterious spot on his head that just APPEARED one day, a giant hickey on his bald noggin. I exchanged worried texts and phone calls with a wonderful aide in his class who is also a paramedic and is quickly becoming a lovely friend. She assured me that it was not petechiae (a potential sign of leukemia and something to watch for in kiddos with the extra chromosome), and after a few days it was gone--although we never found out what it was or what caused it.

And then there were the other kind of scares... Like the time we were all in the backyard and suddenly Roo wasn't with us anymore... and we found him in the garage. Or the time we were all in the backyard and suddenly Roo wasn't with us anymore... and we found him in the house, upstairs in his room. Or the time we were all in the backyard and suddenly Roo wasn't with us anymore... and we found him at the house across the street. Are you detecting a pattern here? Don't ever take your eyes off of Roo outside--even WITH the fenced-in backyard.

There's more I could share, but you get the idea. Roo simultaneously makes my heart stop and makes it pound harder than it ever has in my life. I know that sounds impossible, but I am not kidding you, it's true.

And this morning I was struck with the realization that I am not the one keeping him safe. Yes, it is my job to protect and love and nurture and care for him, and I take that very seriously. But ultimately, it is God who keeps him safe, who knows his every move and sees every sleepless night.

And then I thought, his angels must be exhausted!

Oh, this boy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Because hope is a beautiful thing

Hello, my dear, sweet, neglected blog. How have you been? I miss you, all of you. I have so much I want to tell you. Titles jotted down in margins. Notes scattered over my hard drive. Plans running through my mind. I want to share them all with you.

Right now, though, my hands are full. In a beautiful, exciting way. That's what I want to tell you about now.

About a year ago, I had an idea. A dream for a women's event that would reach women of all ages. I brought it to the director of women's ministry for my church, and I started small... just a little nibble of what I was really hoping for. And she said, "That sounds great." And I thought, "She agreed so readily! Maybe I should dream a little bigger." And I did. And she said, "Sure! Why not?" So I dreamed bigger. And she said, "I love it!" And... well, you get the picture.

And a year later, this is what we have put together...

www.the-chapel.org/women
 
And Life Comes Back: Hope for Every Woman. Those eight words say so very much. A young wife is suddenly a single mom, navigating grief and despair... and life comes back. A woman in the midst of depression in the middle of divorce... and life comes back. A young mom overwhelmed with this newborn that she thought she could manage... and life comes back. A woman who is empty nested, exploring a new kind of freedom, when suddenly she finds herself again in the role of caretaker, this time for her own mother... and life comes back.
 
No matter where you are, how old you are, what your circumstances are, no matter how hopeless you feel... there is life. Hope. That is what this day is all about. Hope for every woman. My goal is to have a woman come and bring her college-age daughter AND her mother. Her neighbor and her boss. Every woman needs hope.
 
Do I have your attention yet? Are you ready to grab your ticket? Let me tell you one more thing that I hope will sweeten the deal just a bit. In addition to Sara Groves (SARA GROVES! For real!) as our worship leader and Tricia Lott Williford, whose book And Life Comes Back was the inspiration for this event, we will have FIFTEEN different breakout sessions to meet women right where they are. Each woman will get to choose 2 of the 15 sessions. And guess what... one of those 15 will be presented by yours truly.
 
Yep, in addition to dreaming and coordinating this event, I will have the honor of sharing a little bit of my hope journey with you. Join me as I talk about letting go of the "supposed to be" approach to life. You know what I mean. The tendency we have to cry out, "But this isn't how it's supposed to be!" The feeling that we are being punished when something is hard. The confusion we experience when our life looks different than everyone else's. Learning to let that go and embrace our unique paths.
 
PLEASE don't miss this event. If you are anywhere close to Northeast Ohio, you are going to want to be at The Chapel in Akron on Saturday, October 18.
 
AND if you love Sara Groves as much as I do, we have more!!! She will also be in concert on Friday, October 17! The concert is open to EVERYONE--so bring your husband, your boyfriend, your kids, everyone!
 
So now you need to go get your tickets. No, really. RIGHT NOW. They are ONLY available at iTickets, so go place your order and come say hi!
 
If you want to keep up with the latest news & info, you can like us on Facebook at And Life Comes Back.
 
And if you would be willing to help us promote this event, head to the Facebook page now to find out how you could win a free ticket to either the concert or conference!
 
See you soon...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

First Day(s)!

Do you know what happened this week?

This happened...

 
And this...

 
And this...
 
 
And this...
 
And yes, if you're paying attention, Roo is wearing 2 different shirts in these pics. My big kids actually started school yesterday, but Roo's first day was today. I still wanted to get a pic of the three of them together, though, because it's just so darn cute with all three of them there.
 
And then, because they continue to be so cute, I have to share some more photos with you.

He loves his big sister!

One year we'll get one with ALL FIVE of us smiling at once. I refuse to believe otherwise.

Me: "Roo, say 'Cheese!'"
Roo:
He's a stinker.
 
 Singing "Old MacDonald" with Papa
 
Time for the bus...


 
And they're off!
 
 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Heart to heart

We had a serious talk this week as a family. I was sharing some parts of my story with my kiddos, trying to figure out how to explain without oversharing, wondering what they were ready to hear, wanting to make sure they had a clear picture without, well, trauma.

At the end, I took a deep breath and asked, "OK, guys. Do you have any questions?"

Pause.

Monkey looked up at me and said, "Well... Mommy?"

Half-glad and half-nervous, I said, "Yeah, Baby?"

"Can I take skateboarding lessons?"

Oh. I guess they're handling it OK.

Monday, August 11, 2014

And then there were sirens...

File this under "Strange but True":

On Thursday I took the kiddos to the grocery store. Just a quick pre-vacation trip to grab some snacks for the plane. In and out. No biggie.

About three-quarters of the way through, Roo got a little fussy. I asked him what was wrong. And he ANSWERED ME, "I stuck." I looked down, and he had shoved his heel between the bars of the cart and couldn't get it out.

Those of you who have a child with Down's may understand how amazing this little exchange was. Roo isn't great at understanding questions and knowing how to answer them. I also had no idea that he knew the word "stuck." While I felt bad that he was uncomfortable, I was ASTOUNDED that he had been able to communicate so effectively. And I was able to just pull his foot out of the bars easily, so all-in-all it was a pretty positive outcome.

Until we got to the parking lot.

The big kids hopped in the van while I threw our couple of bags into the back. Then I picked Roo up to get him out of the cart... and he didn't come. Sure enough, he had shoved his foot back between the bars again. Only this time, it wasn't coming out. I pulled and pushed and wiggled and massaged it, but it was stuck.

I called the big kids out of the van, and we walked back up to the sidewalk. I don't know why exactly, I guess just so that I wasn't standing in the middle of the parking lot while I worked on his foot. I was trying to be calm--he didn't seem to be hurting, and it's not like it was his head or anything--but honestly, it was a little scary.

A kind, sweet gentleman who regularly bags our groceries was outside, doing something with the carts. Let's call him Milton. He came over to try to help. Then a man going into the store with his elderly mother stopped to help. They tried to pull the bars apart enough to disengage the foot. No luck.

Then the man who had stopped with his mother said, "Oh there's a cop, maybe he can help." I looked up, and a sheriff's deputy, who just happens to be the husband of a friend of mine, was walking toward us. He just happened to be heading to the store. It was so nice to see a friendly face! He, too, tried to pull the bars apart before heading back to his truck to see if he had any tools that would help.

More customers stopped.

More employees came out.

Before I really knew what happened, we had attracted quite a crowd.

Roo, who normally loves attention, was not amused by this whole situation. I don't think having his foot stuck was especially bothering him. He just didn't like that everyone was tugging on it and messing with him.

Someone suggested putting butter or oil on it. Milton went in to get it. Someone else suggested calling the fire department.

Then Milton came back out... with maple syrup. Bless his heart. A lady said, "I think I'd put oil on that before I'd use syrup."

Poor, sweet, discombobulated Milton cried out, "I couldn't find any!"

He couldn't find any oil. In the grocery store. Bless. He was so panicked.

A cashier who had come out then went back in to call the fire department. A minute later, the store manager came out with a big ol' jug of vegetable oil, and right there at the front door to Giant Eagle, my son had his foot anointed.

There was pouring and rubbing and readjusting... and then it was OUT! There might have been applause. Maybe it was just me.

Instantly--and I mean INSTANTLY--Roo's fussing and crying stopped. He smiled, looked at his rescuer, and said, "Thank you. Bye-bye!" Stinker.

The crowd (OK, I'm using that term loosely, but there were probably around 10 people out there watching this all go down) dispersed, and my friend's husband told one of the employees to be sure they called the fire department back and told them not to come.

I got my children all loaded into the van, free of the confines of any grocery carts.

And then there were sirens.

I've never had the fire department called for my family before. They take it seriously.

A rescue ambulance came rolling into the parking lot of Giant Eagle as I blushed with embarrassment. The EMTs who had come out were very kind and understanding.

They asked that I fill out the paperwork anyway.

One of them asked if Roo (who was in the van by this time, so they couldn't see his almond eyes or his bald head or his overall I'm-rocking-an-extra-chromosome personality) had any other medical history. I replied, "Related to getting his foot stuck in a grocery store cart?"

He nodded. "Fair enough. Nevermind."

It is never a dull moment with Roo.

By the way, I totally thought about taking pictures while it was happening JUST SO THAT I COULD BLOG ABOUT IT... but I really thought the people helping us might vote me the worst mom ever for that. So I held back.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Five years ago

I turned 35 on Sunday. I've never had much of an issue with age. I've joked about it--approaching 30, turning 30, saying goodbye to 30--but it never actually bothered me. But 35. Oh, 35, you make me feel old.

But I digress.

It hit me today that it has been almost 5 years since I first knew about Roo. It was at my 30th birthday party--which was actually a few weeks after my birthday--that I whispered to my best friend, "Honestly? I haven't been feeling the best... and I'm wondering... if baby number 3 might be on the way." My hubby and I were not trying--in fact, we were actively preventing a pregnancy. But God had other plans.

These five years have been an unbelievable roller coaster, from the pregnancy right on through until now. If you had told me then that I would be loving life as a special needs mama--that I would dream of one day adopting a SECOND child with special needs--I wouldn't have believed you. I truly believed in my heart that God did not make me able to handle a child with special needs. Then again, I still believe that--He chose to equip me as we went, not prepare me ahead of time.

I don't feel like I bear a large resemblance to the me of 5 years ago. But I like the me of today. I love my life. And I absolutely love my Roo.

It's amazing the difference 5 years can make.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Just one boring summer day

I am a big believer in free time. I don't like to overschedule my kids (though I struggle with that in my own life). I'm all for church programs and sports teams and piano lessons, and even trips to the zoo and play dates and other activities to keep them well-rounded and create memories. But I also think there is tremendous value in just being home. No agenda. No plan. And sometimes, Mommy isn't available to drop everything and solve all the world's problems--sometimes they have to figure it out while Mommy folds laundry. I think this is good. Important, even.

Do I sound a little defensive? A little like I'm trying too hard? Because I really do believe that, but sometimes I have to remind myself. Sometimes I have to say, "Remember, my heart, we do not HAVE to leave the house every day. I am NOT a bad mom just because Monkey's eyes plead with me when he says, 'I just can't find anything to DO.'"

Yesterday I was reminding myself. We are leaving for vacation in a few days, the boys had both been sick, life had been busy. I needed to catch up, do laundry, wash dishes. Monkey and Lamb were bickering, snarking. I sat them down and read out loud to them for a while, then gave them required separate play time. "You can play anywhere in the house, but not together. You cannot pester each other or ask each other questions or even comment on what the other person is doing. Play by yourself for a while, and I will let you know when you can play together."

There was eye-rolling. Followed by a little bit of moping. Maybe even a door closed juuuuuuuuuuust shy of slamming. There was silence, broken only by a sigh here and there.

I decided to make myself scarce, closing myself in my room with a big pile of clean clothes. And I wondered. "Maybe we do need to be out every day. Maybe they need me to keep them busier. Maybe I need to make them a list of things they can play. But I don't want to squelch their creativity. Do they have creativity, or have I already squelched it by scheduling too many things for them, and now they are ruined for life?"

I emerged to find the start of something wonderful, although I didn't realize it at the time.

Monkey had begun a game of "stuffed animal bowling." My kiddos have a couple of stuffed animals that are basically plush balls with faces. He was using those to knock down other animals, and was quite delighted with himself.

I lifted the ban on playing together, then went back to work.

My friends, what happened next was absolutely amazing. My two kiddos (Roo was at camp) put together their own obstacle course of fun, complete with six different stations. They used stuffed animals, empty paper towel rolls (from the recycling! no piles of unused towels laying on my kitchen floor!), markers and crayons, paper plates--all kinds of things that were laying around the house. They made six different stations of activities and games. And then they went through all of the stations together, laughing and giggling through the whole thing. They kept score of sorts, but it was sort of like "Whose Line is it Anyway?"--the points didn't seem to matter.

They laughed more than they have all summer. They created something--a whole assortment of somethings--and they worked together to do it. They brainstormed together and helped each other.

And I. was. vindicated.

Just one boring summer day. Probably the best day of our summer so far.