Thursday, November 21, 2013

Her youngest grandchild

I don't know how long my mom will live. Overnight, literally, June 29, everything changed. Doctors believed the seizures, vomiting, vision issues and one-sided paralysis was due to a stroke. A MRI revealed 3 brain tumors - Astrocytomas, stage 3. My dad died 11 years ago from Glioblastoma multiforme, stage 4 brain tumors. This is where my mom is heading.

Today, 5 months since diagnosis, she has completed 6 weeks of radiation/chemo treatment (she was not a candidate for surgery) and one week of a higher dose of chemo. So far, her treatments have stopped the growth of the tumors, but she is very weak.

I don't know if my 2 year old daughter will remember her Grams. Will she remember visiting her Grams today? Warming her hands to put lotion on her Grams' feet? Drinking milkshakes together?

"Watch me, Grams!" Dancing to Christmas music. As Grams aches and longs to dance with her granddaughter as she once did.

"Why are you lying in bed, Grams? You not feeling good? What is wrong?"  A 2 year old, trying to make sense of it all.

We all are.

Oh how your Grams loves you. May you remember.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Living Intentionally (this summer)

There's a wet blanket on my back these days, weighing me down. I am sad and overwhelmed and lonely. I'm just getting through my days rather than feeling contentment and yes, still the tiredness that comes from long days of motherhood, but also, always the gratitude. I am coming out of this now, the past couple days, and no longer feel so soggy.  Part of this is realizing that I have not been living my days as I want to...with purpose and intention... with patience and peace... with the completion of tasks.  I'm not filling my days and my weeks taking steps and making movements towards the things I want to change about myself and my life. 

Summer is fast approaching (my son has only 2 more weeks of his first year of school)! Summer is one of those seasons that is like a blank slate to me, much like New Years Day and the start of a new school year each fall. New beginnings. Time to reflect and make changes. I have decided to name this summer "my intentional summer". The other day I sat down and wrote up a (flexible) summer schedule/routine for the kids. This includes play dates and day trips and day camps and service projects as well as daily routines of chores, errands, outdoor play, naps/quiet times, meal prep, kindergarten prep, etc. I struggle so much with organization and time management. I am so poor at it but desire so much to become more organized and more wise with my time. 

I have set a couple goals for my kids for this summer: potty training and night-weaning for my daughter and learning how to tie shoes and ride bike w/o training wheels for my son. And I thought, what about goals for myself? My focus is so often on my kids that I get lost in my role as mother. I know myself well enough to know that unless I set goals (and then break down those goals into doable steps, etc,) there will be no change. I'm desperate for change: with my weight, with my current exercise (or I should say, lack thereof), with the clutter in my house, with how I spend my time. I don't want to be stuck anymore. Feeling stuck weighs me down.

So, here are my "living intentional" goals for summer 2013:

1. Study to take the National Counselor Exam in the fall (one of my final steps towards full Professional Counselor licensure. Right now I am Limited Licensed which means I work under a supervisor.)

2. Lose 10 pounds - that's one pound/week - feels very doable. I'm starting back on Medifast this week.

3. Run the Coast Guard 5K (July 27th) - I'd like to be able to run this rather than walk/run. This week I start a "couch to 5k" training program

4. Set up new work schedule for the fall (writing, seeing clients, etc.) - there's a lot that goes into this and I'll be sharing more about this in another post but my husband and I are making some exciting changes with our private practice. I'll be spending a little more time in the office starting this fall and I want to develop my blog more and work on some writing projects as well as other dreams I'm working towards. This summer I want to develop a clear picture of what I want this to look like for the fall.

Just writing down these goals lightens my mood and gives me hope. These past fews weeks have been emotionally painful but I am grateful for them to show me that I am not where I want to be in many aspects of my life. I am not meant to remain stuck in these bad habits. I am meant for more. I can get there with intentional living.

I like what Sharon Wegner says in her "What is Weighing You Down" article: "I am a work in progressalways seeking to find a better way of being a better me." 

I want to be a better me. 

I'm not living to my full potential these days. 

I'm not working towards being all I'm capable of being. 

I want more. 

I am the only one holding myself back from the ME I want to be.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Holy Sick Days

There's a nasty flu virus in our house that has laid my active children flat on their backs. Keagan caught it Wednesday at school and by Friday there was only 6 kids in his class! The remaining 13 kids were out sick. And Friday was class picture day...

I am grateful that my children are rarely sick - minor colds here and there but my 5 year old hasn't puked since he was 6 months old and my 2 year old has never puked... until now.  Makes me grateful to have such healthy kids.

Two sick kiddos can be exhausting. But this has also been a holy time. Obviously I don't enjoy cleaning up all the puke and poop that rarely actually makes it into the toilet when little ones have the flu. And there's the nonstop laundry and the sleepless nights. But there is holiness in the midst of this.

What is it that makes a time and space holy? Where there is reliance on God to get through these exhausting days and nights. When our hearts are expectant and dependent on what God will do next. How long, Lord? 
I can't do this anymore...

These sick days are set apart from our normal everyday. There's rest and peace and quiet in our house. There's lots of rocking and snuggling and cuddling and reading. We're hanging out in our pjs. My sister and brother drop off medicine and groceries. Keagan's listening to a Junie B Jones CD and playing legos on his bed. Skylar's nursing A LOT and falling asleep in my arms. Keagan's napping during the day and going to bed easy at night. (I could get used to this!) We're going through lots of popsicles...

Holy sick days slow us down. They draw us to our knees for sustenance, for requests of healing. They give us grateful hearts for the normal everyday health of noisy, active kids (and a thankfulness for a brief reprieve).

It can be so easy to miss the holiness in the everyday. These sick days remind me that we don't need to rush ahead to the days when Keagan will be back at school and Skylar will be back to her not-an-ounce-of-fear busy self. I'm in no rush.

Although I admit, I'm ready for the puking to be over.

Some photos in the midst of these sick days...

Mommy and Daddy's bed a favorite place to be

Popsicles help...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A drawing entitled "Tuesday"

After parent-teacher conferences, we decided to add a day to Keagan's three day/week school schedule and have him go Tuesdays as well. Turns out, his teacher has been sitting him out during playtime to do the work he misses the two days he's not there. Not cool. Free play at school is such an important time for 5 year olds, especially for our son as he's always been more comfortable with adults than his peers.

We decided we would give Tuesdays a try and see how it goes. Last week was our first week and it went fabulous. Tuesday was a 2 hour delay day so it was a perfect way to start a 4/day week. Also, his teacher was going to be back in the classroom after being absent for a week due to a medical issue. So Keagan was excited to go and sailed through the rest of the week (with Thursday at home).

This week has been a different story.

Monday night at bedtime, Keagan asked me, "Is it a school day tomorrow?"
"No it's not!"
"Yes, honey, you go on Tuesdays now."
"I don't want to go."
"Let's just sleep on it tonight and we'll talk about it in the morning."

10 minutes later he's out of bed with something to show me. A drawing...

Keagan is standing in front of his school with tears falling down to his toes. In the sky it's storming with thunder and lightening and he knows he's not supposed to be outside when it's thunder and lightening but he's crying so hard he doesn't hear the thunder.

And that's how he feels about going to school on a Tuesday.

You might remember, the entire first month of school, he cried at every drop off.

This week Tuesday, he did not go to school.

I still don't know the best thing to do for my child. Stick to the 3 days/week and see if he can bring home the work he misses so he doesn't have to do it during free play? Make him go Tuesdays even if he doesn't want to? Start with a half day on Tuesdays until he's more comfortable with the 4 day week schedule?

On the plus side, kuddos to my son for expressing himself amazingly in his drawing!! :)

Thursday, November 01, 2012

A flooded bathroom

You don't know the kind of parent you're going to be when your 5 year old floods the bathroom. That's not something you expect to happen on any given day and certainly not something you plan for.

It seems like so much of parenting these days with my 5 year old and 21 month old is the unexpected.

It's all fun and games til the bathroom is flooded...

Let's just say I was a bit caught off guard and since I had not done any reading about what to do when your son floods the bathroom, like I had about sleeping habits and eating habits and what to expect when expecting, etc, this I was not expecting. I find that in the unexpected, I react more than respond. This time I reacted poorly. I don't like the mother I became.

We had just finished dinner (picture spaghetti and peas all over the floor from my (almost) 2 year old's latest favorite dinner activity) and I am focused on what needs to be done to get these tired children to bed (and Momma a much needed break). Do they need a bath? They had a bath last night, right? My husband had to stay at the office late because he had a client in crisis so with only me doing bedtime duty, the next question is, who needs to get to bed first. My daughter had been fighting a cold the last few days so I wanted to get her to bed first. My son offered to fill the humidifier in his sister's room and I am getting sister in pjs and nursing her and reading her books. After several trips from the bathroom to the bedroom it occurred to me, that humidifier has got to be full by now. But no, he says, not yet. And then it occurred to me, why is there water running in the bathroom?

"Turn off the water," I call to my son.

And then, perhaps a bit too late, mother intuition kicks in. I run to the bathroom and there is water all over the floor - the very new floor that my husband just installed a month ago due to mold under the old floor. My son has this habit of pushing down the stopper in the sink and for some reason, who knows why, he was leaving the water running while taking all those trips to his sister's room... And now the bathroom is flooded, filling the drawers and cabinets below the sink and soaking the rug.

I had a pile of towels in the living room ready to bring down to the laundry room and grabbed the whole pile and began mopping up the water. I'd like to say I remained calm during this time and kept my mouth shut... I wish I had. Silence speaks so much louder and kinder and full of less regret in such moments.

It's oh so different looking back now. But in the moment, I've got a sick toddler that should have been in bed long ago and a boy who also just needs to be in bed. And remember the humidifier in my daughter's room? There's water all over her room, soaking her rug as well.

I don't like to physically pick up my son to get him to do what I want him to do (go straight to bed, do not get a snack, do not go pee, do not brush your teeth.) There is a parenting saying that I really believe in despite struggling at times to put it into practice. It says, start as you mean to go. Meaning, don't do something now that you don't want to (or can't do) years down the road. There will come a day (rather soon) where I will not be able to pick up my son. Nor do I want to be doing that to my 5 year old. He is not a baby who might need to be picked up and distracted when doing something he should not. He is 5 and the responsibility needs to rest on him to obey me.

But there is a flooded bathroom and a sick toddler and the boy just needs to be in bed. So I pick him up and plop him in bed, saying more things loudly that I will later regret. And did I just slam his door? I'm re-living my teenage years here and I'm supposed to be the parent! I don't allow him to slam his door and I just slammed his door. Sigh. I climb the stairs and at the top of the stairs is my 2 year old who, when she sees me, points her index finger at me and yells, (mimicking me) "Go to bed, Keagan!"

Definitely a cringe-worthy parenting moment.

"I'm sorry," I say to my daughter. I finish mopping up the water off her floor and put her to bed.

And as I'm cleaning the bathroom, (our kitty helps by lapping up some of the water), I have time to think and time to calm down. I never thought I'd be a yeller as a parent. I consider myself to be a patient and calm person. But I have my moments, certainly more moments now with two kiddos than when I just had my son. Oh what a different parent I am with two kids... not all bad, not all good. But I'm not okay with being a yeller. I don't want to be a yeller. I don't want to be someone who just reacts to a situation rather than responds to it. And I'm mopping up the mess my son made and less angry now, but now, the guilt is starting to settle in.

It's "All Hallows Eve" and my daughter is sick and my husband is working late and my son flooded the bathroom and I'm yelling and putting my kids to bed without brushing their teeth. And this year we won't be starting a new tradition of baking pumpkin pie and eating popcorn while watching, "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Maybe next year.

After I clean the bathroom, I go down to my son's room and sit with him on the bed. I begin by apologizing.

"You were so angry, Mom."

And I was. And it's ok that I got angry. The problem is that now, because of my poor reaction, it has now became less about what my son did and more about what I did. Sure he felt bad about what he did. But I'm the one awake at midnight, feeling guilty, trying to think of a way to make it up to him. And it's not until I decide we can build a haunted gingerbread house together after school, that I can fall asleep. How did it come to this? How quickly we got off track.

What do I want to teach my kids about anger? Because I'm certainly teaching them whether it's intentional or not. I want them to know that it is okay to be angry, but not to hurt people or things in our anger. I want them to have outlets for their anger other than yelling or slamming doors. I want to teach them to seek forgiveness and take responsibility for their anger. And to forgive. Forgive themselves and others. How about you? What do you want to teach your kids about anger?

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Sick Day

Both kiddos were a little under the weather today with coughs and stuffy noses. After a morning spent watching cartoons and reading books and blowing noses and nursing the baby, my son asked to go out for a walk. The sunshine and warm breeze was calling us through the open windows. I thought some fresh air sounded like a great idea. I put baby girl in her stroller and we headed out. Well, I gotta say, his heart was in it, but his little sick body was not. We got a little ways past our house and little man was ready to go back home. So we decided to play in the backyard. It was a colorful, warm and breezy day. Weatherman says a cold-front is on its way. All the more we enjoy a day like today where we can play in the warm sun, even if it's just in the backyard, on a blanket, reading books.

Hope you and yours are staying healthy this season. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fall Beach Photo Shoot

Sometimes the location is perfect but the model (my daughter) is not having it. It was a gorgeous fall afternoon. 70 degrees. Not too windy. Not a cloud in the sky.  After my daughter's 2 hour nap this morning, we had some lunch and then headed to Brucker Beach to take some pictures. A well rested and well fed child usually equals a happy child but not when she's getting four teeth in at once. But she loves playing outside and she loves the beach so I decided to go for it.

Brucker Beach is tucked away at the end of a dead end street in a residential neighborhood. It is never crowded like the state park beaches. And especially this time of year, we usually have the beach to ourselves. Today we only saw two people walking their dogs and the rest of the beach was ours.

It's a perfect location for taking pictures... secluded, lots of beach grass, deadwood makes wonderful places to sit or lean against and then of course, miles and miles of sandy beach along Lake Michigan.

My normally nonstop, running all over the beach, happy little girl was wanting to do nothing but sit on my lap and nurse. Every time I would pick up the camera, she would fuss.

So I stopped and looked around at the beauty all around us and this beauty in my arms. And I told myself, I need to let go of this photo shoot. Maybe I got a few good ones and I need to put the camera down and be in this moment with my daughter. I can't think of a better place to cuddle with my little one, who is normally a whirlwind of motion. With the tug of her hand and a plop down on the sand she was asking me, "be with me, Mommy." So we cuddled and nursed and took in the peace and the breaking waves and the seagulls and the warm sun and the cool breeze.  After awhile you said, "no more" and "bye bye" and I picked you up to walk back to the car. You sang and giggled in my arms, your one arm over my shoulder as you always like to do, patting my back, as we walked back to the car.

I'm sorry it took me so long to understand what you were needing, my girl.

 I loved our time together.