Monday, April 30, 2012

On taking Emma to a playground

I did something hard on purpose today.

I took Emma to a playground.

I knew it would be a stretch for her.  It always is.  It's overwhelming to walk away from Mom into a place where you don't know where you are.  She's unsure of her footing, both physically and emotionally.  So I end up holding her hand and helping her play.  I help her put her hands on things that she can cruise around and then I walk to the other side of them and make her cruise to me.  Sometimes she gets interested in something fun along the way; sometimes not.  But I feel like challenging her is good for her.

Sometimes kids stare.  Sometimes they don't. 

Sometimes moms stare.  Sometimes they don't.

I'm always hyper-sensitive about the look on my face.  Do I look frustrated?  Nope, can't do that, because that makes it look like Emma is frustrating.  Do I look tired?  Can't do that, either.  So most of the time I sort of walk around with this indistinct smile on my face, trying my best to be encouraging toward Emma, both for her sake and for the sake of those staring at us.

It's hardest when there are grandmothers there.  Grandmothers are wonderful people, but the unfortunate combination of the wisdom to which they should be entitled and the lack of experience (which is not their fault) sometimes makes conversation hard.

Today's conversation was with a grandmother who was there with a two year old girl.  I could tell this child was small for her age, and Grandma was quick to share that the little girl was a micro-preemie who had defied all odds and was "doing great!"

"So how old is Emma?"

Deep breath.  My turn.  Quick calculations and decisions run through my head about what to share.  Because when I answer that she's 3, I know that she's going to ask some questions.

I shared that Emma had a long NICU stay also and that she had needed surgery and that she had something called Cornelia de Lange Syndrome "which means she's always have some struggles."

"But is she healthy now?  I mean, she seems to be doing really well.  Is she going to be okay?"

For some reason, that one was hard for me today.  Yes, Emma is healthy right now.  She's not sick.  But I don't think she's going to be your definition of Okay.  I think what you're asking is "Will she live a normal life?  Will she do what normal kids do?"  The answer to that question might not be yes.  Does that mean she's sick?  No.

How do I lovingly share that Emma is different and that it's okay?  How do I gracefully overcome the social problem that my life and my daughter's life do not meet your definition of Okay?  How do I end this conversation correctly, with the honesty that shines positive light into the special needs community and yet the discernment not to overwhelm this woman with information that will not be understood in the 5 minutes that we have together?  When does my instruction manual arrive in the mail????

Today, this was my answer:  Yes, she's doing great.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Things I Cannot Do

Much to Charlie's dismay, there are some things I cannot do.

I cannot play baseball with him and walk with Emma at the same time

I cannot for the life of me figure out how to do several of the Wii Vacation sports

And I cannot re-attach a lattice-thingy to the side of our deck

Charlie asked me to take a picture of this sweet moment where Emma followed him outside and wanted to sit at his picnic table with him (for about 30 seconds ... thank goodness for camera phones!)

But you'll notice that behind Charlie in the picture, there is a ... thing that I don't know the name for ... that has come off the side of our deck.  It's been down for awhile.

Now, Josh has been REALLY busy lately.  He's been working on several really really important things ... none of which is the lattice-thingy on the side of our deck.  And even if he did have a spare evening coming up, I wouldn't expect him to work on the whatchamacallit next to the patio.  I would much prefer he play the aforementioned game of baseball with our son.

So today I decided to be all I-am-Woman-hear-me-roar and re-attach the silly thing myself.  Charlie said he'd help me.

I failed


Currently there are 3 nails halfway-hammered-into the deck ... they started bending for some reason once I got them about 2 inches into the wood

There are also several holes weren't there this morning where I decided that maybe I should be using a drill and a ... is it called a screw if it has a pointy end?  Well, whatever it's called, it didn't work, either.  But I want credit for the fact that I got out a drill and the battery pack for it still works after I dropped it in the garage ...

Charlie tried to give me some tips for how I should be drilling

He may have been correct ... I'm pretty sure the failure of my endeavor is ENTIRELY user error.

The adventure ended with me lamely informing Charlie that it was naptime

All I'm saying is that I'm really really bad at handy-work around the house.  And my husband (who is hearing about the adventure for the first time as he's reading it on the blog ... Hi, Honey!) is a really handy guy. 

Seriously, I'd be up a creek without a paddle if I didn't have that man around.

One of the 10,000 reasons I love my husband.

Maybe someday I'll figure out why on earth he loves me.  In case you were wondering, it's not my prowess with a hammer

Friday, April 20, 2012

I am invincible!

Josh and I are putting together a set of documents right now.  We are calling them the Bus Documents, because they are information someone would need if he and I got hit by a bus tomorrow.

I know, that's morbid ... but I think it's normal to think about such things when you have an Emma.

One of the documents is called 'Team Emma.'  It's a list of her specialists, and it's long.  It made me realize something

The following is a list of things about my daughter that have been dubbed Not Put Together The Same As You and Me and Therefore We Should Keep An Eye on That:

Brain Function
Head Size
Eyes (Optic Nerve)
Swallowing Muscles
Urinary Track
Body Temperature
Growth Trajectory
Muscle Tone

And I feel like I'm forgetting one or two

The moral of the story?

I can't die

Thursday, April 19, 2012

More Five Year Old Theology

Tornado Siren Season has started here in the Midwest

(I say it's siren season because we are fortunate enough to live in an area that sees many more tornado WARNINGS than it does actual TORNADOES.  One could spend a lot of time reflecting on the psychology of this phenomenon, but I digress ...)

So Charlie has been asking lots of tornado-related questions this week.  Many of these questions stem, I'm sure, from the fact that he remembers pictures from the horrible Joplin, Missouri tornadoes from last year. 

Let me just say that I'm quite certain that I am not smart enough to parent this child ...

"Mom, why does God provide tornadoes?"


Ok, for starters, I don't really know the science behind why tornadoes happen.

"Well, buddy, you're right to ask that question ... God provides rain for the flowers and grass to grow ... but why tornadoes?  I don't really know ...."

(stalling for an idea to come to me ...)

Am I really going to have the "Why does God let bad things happen?" conversation with my son?  Ok, deep breath, let's see where this goes.  Is Charlie old enough to understand this mystery?

"Charlie, remember what your Bible says happened when sin came into the world?"

After Adam and Eve ate the fruit, it's like the whole world got broken.

"So there are some things in the world that are not the way God intended them to be.  Because the world was meant to be perfect, but people let sin in, there are some things in the world that are broken.  God didn't intend for death and destruction to be a part of His perfect world....

"But then again, sometimes things that seem bad actually serve a purpose, like when it rains and then you can't play basketball.  Rain helps flowers grow."

"Right," Charlie says.  He nods and looks at me.  I am blown away by the fact that this is actually the question is he was asking.  I didn't understand the question wrong.  I am actually having the conversation he wanted to have.

"So I don't know if tornadoes are one of those things that seem bad but that serve a purpose, or if tornadoes happen because the world got broken."

But then I start thinking about how many blessings come out of bad things ...

"And you know, Charlie, sometimes it's hard to tell between those two things.  Because God does such a good job of taking things that seem bad and working them for good, that sometimes we're not sure if he planned it that way or if he's just really good at fixing bad things."

"What do you mean, working them for good?"

"Well, when Emma was born, we didn't think it was a good thing that she was in the hospital, but think of all the good things that came out of that.  We got to meet some really amazing people, and people helped us and we realized how much our friends care about us and how much God loves us that He helped us through a hard time."

"Yeah, like when we gave water to the people in Missouri!  That was good!"

sort of ...

And then, once again, the moment was over....

I have NO idea if I answered that right

I'm so glad God's big enough to be able to handle my (probably flawed) theology.  I'm so glad that He is God and I am not, because He's clearly much smarter than I am. 

And I'm so blessed by my child's questions

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Best Mischief Ever!

So, this is one of those weird moments ...

Emma got into something she wasn't supposed to and then tried to cover it up!


I was in the bathroom and I heard

 I hurried out to see what she had gotten into.  She was banging the cookie sheets together in the cabinets in the kitchen.
 She hadn't noticed I was there yet, so I decided the most prudent thing to do would be to take pictures.
She had pulled down the towel off the oven and was pulling cookie sheets out of the cabinet. 

She didn't notice I was there until after I said her name ... I decided that her trying to crawl while carrying a metal cooling rack was going to end poorly ...
 As soon as I said her name, she immediately went from "Exploring mode" to "Quickly on a mission mode."  She put the cooling rack back in the cabinet and closed the door.
 And then, very quickly (you know, before I would notice that it was down), she grabbed the towel to hang back on the oven!

 Which is hard work when you are only 2 feet tall!
So, really, when that fails, it's best to just walk toward Mama and reach your arms up for a hug ... you've been caught. :)

Now, I know that this is a strange thing to brag about, but this is the most extended "task list" I've ever seen Emma undertake!  You know how, when they are cognitively very young, children will sort of willy-nilly explore from one thing to another without any real purpose and won't stick with one task or goal for very long?  Emma looked at Mommy, decided to "cover up" her transgressions, and set about her multi-step work to making it "right." 

I am one proud Mama!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A lovely afternoon

 After having one of those fabulous mornings wherein More Kids = Less Work, Emma went to preschool and Charlie and I went to the ballpark.
 An absolutely beautiful day, and we had a wonderful time
 When on earth did he get so big?
"Mom, take a picture of me throwing the ball!"

And how's the Bear, you ask?

She's doing very well, thank you!

My children will be waking up soon, but stay tuned ... I hope to publish the story of Emma's first ever Attempt-to-Cover-Up-Mischief-After-Getting-Caught soon ... and I got pictures, too :)

Monday, April 9, 2012


Josh and I are super blessed to live in the same state as our families. 

But occasionally, for the sake of everyone being together and married siblings spending holidays with their in-laws and other events coinciding, we end up landing on a holiday without any family plans.  For example, this year we celebrated Easter with Becky's family on Palm Sunday and we'll go up to visit Josh's family in a couple of weeks. 

That's great, too, because flexibility means that we get to see more of our extended families.  But sometimes, I'll be honest, the actual "on the day" holiday is weird.

And I guess, if I can say this without sounding too depressing, what makes it weird is that Emma, to be blunt, doesn't care that it's a holiday.

Tube feedings still have to happen.  She doesn't care about candy.  She wouldn't search for eggs.  We were still up at 1:00 am the night before worried about a cough.  So in the past, I have hesitated, fearful that I'm going to end up having high expectations for the holiday and have it feel like all we'll end up doing is putting on a show for the one of our kids who cares.

But this year, for Easter, I decided to be brave.  Vulnerable, even.

I decided to take the bull by the horns and plan to make the day different for just my little family of four.

I planned a formal meal, with cooked veggies and potatoes and crescent rolls and everything.

And I even decorated.

It was scary.  It was scary because, well, what if I put in effort and it was still just another day?  What if I end up feeling foolish because, despite my best efforts, there still weren't visitors around and so the day was still not special and now I've just put in a lot of work for nothing?

I shouldn't have worried. :)

After we got home from church, Josh and Charlie went outside, so I put Emma down for a nap and started my plan.  I found a table cloth and brought out the fancy wine glasses.  I started going through vases for centerpieces and candles and serving dishes.  We have all that stuff and we never use it!

Mid-way through my preparations, Charlie came in and saw the tablecloth on the table.

"WOW, Mom!"

He got it.


He helped me pick out the candles and arrange them on the table.  Then he helped me cut out very simple construction paper decorations to hang in the kitchen.

When Emma woke up, she noticed :)

She wanted to investigate

And she clap, clapped her approval. 

Josh questioned my wisdom, but I even let Charlie use a fancy wine glass for his milk. 

We've all heard the stories about nice china and formal stemware sitting in attics, never getting used because they might get broken.  I decided that never getting used was worse than broken. 

And then, Charlie helped me decorate a cake for Easter

I could not have been happier.

When we sat down to the meal, Charlie led us in prayer

Dear Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for our sins, and thank you that you rose again on Easter.  Thank you that we get to have this fancy dinner.  We love you, Jesus.  Amen.

He did not break his fancy wine glass and he even asked for second (and third!) helpings of cooked asparagus.

Josh told me the roast was delicious.

And I think Emma was so mesmerized by the candles lit on the table that she didn't really have time to require much attention, besides needing some potatoes to play with.

I could not have been more satisfied and thankful.  I am so blessed by my extended family, and I am so blessed to have a WONDERFUL husband, daughter, and son,

(we enjoyed each other so much that we didn't even stop to take a family picture ... oh, well.  trust me, we looked great!)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

that one game

You know that game you play in the middle of the street on beautiful spring day?

You know, the one that involves a tennis racket, softball and baseball glove ... and, if available, a hockey goal?

Oh, you're not familiar with that game?

Yeah, I wasn't either, but it's best played with a 5 year old boy.  They seem to have inherent knowledge of such things and tend to be very good teachers.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Peace on the earth

I love Easter time

Because remember when Jesus was born and we sang "peace on earth, good will toward men"?

This is what brings us peace.

Redemption and forgiveness through His death and resurrection

Peace with God.  Peace.  Reconcilliation and peace

My sin.  Forgiven.

He purchased my pardon and I am right with the Father.

And then, through his Spirit, I have the power of the resurrection at work in my life.

I get to participate in his Kingdom on earth.  More redemption, by his grace.

And peace

The peace of God which transcends all understanding guards my heart and mind.

It came at such a high cost. 

I am forever thankful.

I honestly don't know what I'd do without it