Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Maybe not JUST like me

Get ready to learn something new about me. Are you sitting down? Here it is...

In general, I think I'm a pretty typically affectionate person. I mean, I might not be what many consider a "hugger", but I don't shy away from an embrace, I'm happy to touch the hand of a friend who is struggling, and I love me a good massage. Touch is not an issue for me.

But when I am sick, For real. I don't want to be snuggled or stroked or rubbed or touched in any way. I barely want to be spoken to. I can remember even as a kid feeling my stomach turn when my cat would crawl on my lap when I was too sick for school. I just want to curl up in a ball with a hot cup of tea and a good movie--or even a not-so-good movie... or an old episode of "Friends"... or just Pinterest--and be left to suffer in silence.

For the past 10 days or so, a bug has been making its way through my house. In fact, there have been a few of them over the past few weeks, to the point where I can't even remember where or with whom this most recent one actually started! All I know is that I avoided it for a long time. Until Friday night. While my kiddos had a few school friends over for a belated Halloween celebration, I started to feel increasingly run-down. For the next few days, it was a minor annoyance. But today... ugh. I feel terrible.

I just want to sit and sulk in peace.

In the meantime, I'm not the only victim here. Like I said, a variety of bugs have been hitting my house, but yesterday I took Lamb to the doctor for what turned out to be a sinus infection and strep. She actually didn't feel too bad, but the strep had caused a nasty rash on her face that was itchy. Unfortunately, the amoxicillin is taking its toll on her tummy, though, so today... while I feel like death... while I just want to sit in peace and moan... Lamb was home with me.

And my little girl, my mini-me, my child who drives me crazy because she is just like me... apparently has at least one key difference from her mama. When she is sick, she wants to snuggle all.the.time. She wants to constantly be touching me and rubbing my arm and nuzzling her head into my neck. She wants me to be in the same room AT ALL COSTS. She wants to whine and commiserate.

This is not funny, Lord.

And here's the odd part: She hasn't always been like this! The first time I noticed it was just 3 weeks ago, when she had Hand, Foot, and Mouth. I blogged about it then, too. It was grating on my nerves then too--but I was healthy then. Today all I want is to put myself in a bubble, and she is trying to crawl back into my WOMB.

For as many times as I have prayed, "Lord, does she have to be like me in every way?", I had no idea He would chose this as the way to show so clearly that she is her own person.

I'm sure I'll laugh about this later. (OK, I'm laughing about it a little bit now, too...)

Friday, October 24, 2014


I have a rather humbling confession to make... compassion is not my strong suit.

Don't get me wrong. I feel strongly for the wronged in our world. The older I get, as a matter of fact, the more emotional I become about the state of our society. Children with Down syndrome around the world who are abandoned--or even aborted--tear my heart in two. Thoughts of the beautiful people I met in Mozambique three years ago flood me with passion to change the world. Even sentimental commercials make me teary--something that just did.not.happen 10 years ago.

But as a mom, my compassion can be lacking. When my kids mess up, sympathy is not my "go to" response--although I'm working on it. I never thought of myself as an angry person until I had a restless infant, a stubborn toddler, a sassy tween. Oy vey.

And when it comes to sickness, I'm not much better. Oh sure, when my kiddos cry, I think, "My poor baby." But after a while, my compassion is all used up. Sometimes I think the drama is bigger than the illness. But even worse is when I can TELL that it is genuine, and I have done everything I know to do and the tears persist and I think, "Why are you trying to make me feel bad? I have done everything I can for you! Just feel miserable in silence!" Like they are crying at me to make me feel like a bad mom--because, you know, it is obviously all about me. Their sickness and misery and tears couldn't possibly be about them and their own feelings.

Oh my word, I am the worst mom ever.

No, I get it. I recognize that I am not the worst mom EVER. But seriously, this area needs a LOT of work.

So on Monday I got a call from the school nurse that Lamb had a "rash of unidentified origin" on her hands and feet, and even though she felt fine and had no fever, she could not be at school because Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease has been making the rounds. (I took her to the pediatrician later that day, who confirmed that it is indeed Hand, Foot, and Mouth.) For the first two days, it was pretty fun--she felt fine, so we played games, watched movies, even did a little shopping. But sometime on Tuesday afternoon, she took a sharp turn for the worse.

By Thursday, all she wanted was for me to snuggle her. All day. I was loving it at first. A chance to snuggle my sassy and independent 9-year-old? Yes please! A chance to just hang out and chat and watch "Cupcake Wars"? Definitely! Knowing that my hugs and snuggles could calm her tears? Wahoo! But soon she had to be touching me at every moment, I couldn't even stand up without sending her into a fit of tears. If I managed to sit on the floor while she was on the couch, she could cling to my arm or shoulder. And even when I was right up next to her, she would cry out, "Mommy, I don't feel good! Mommy! MOMMY! I DON'T FEEL GOOD!!!!"

I hate that she doesn't feel good. I HATE that for her. But seriously, I am at the end of myself here.

And then yesterday I got a call from the school nurse. I saw the number and thought, "How nice that they are calling to check up on Lamb." Instead, I heard, "I have Monkey here in the office. I know that his sister is home with Hand, Foot, and Mouth, and he has just a few faint spots on his chin and hands."


Is there a compassion pill I can take somewhere? I'm gonna need an extra dose.

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...
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!'"
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?"


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.