Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dennis the Menace

Yesterday was just one of those days.

The kids were all in rare form - argumentative, crabby, needy. The list goes on. After lunch we found Brooklyn and Simeon playing in some cans of paint we'd left out to dry. It was pretty easy to clean up but Brooklyn was devastated that she had ruined one of her dresses. Mike got a huge bucket of soapy water for them to clean off with, which he later found them giving it to the dog. To escape the craziness we made the decision to head to Target for a few things we needed where every single one of our children was out of control. Running up and down the aisles, throwing temper tantrums on the floor, pulling things off shelves...it left me thinking that somone really ought to parent my children. (Oh...wait...)

On our way home we stopped by my folks to pick up a blender (since I had broken ours the day before) and while walking back to the car Mike and I noticed that the kids had not only painted themselves...they'd also painted the passenger door and hood of our car. (Insert ridiculously heavy sigh here.)

After arriving home I made the kids play outside. Brooklyn insisted she needed to nap (thank God someone in our house was thinking clearly) so she put herself to bed. Mike continued his work in our garden and attempted to clean the paint off the car while I started on dinner. While deciding which herb to use in my pasta (Basil or oregano? Basil or oregano?...decisions decisions!) I heard Simeon crying outside and, as usual, prepared to give him kisses.

When he walked in the door and came over to me I was a little surprised by the fact that he didn't want me to put him down after his kiss. Usually one kiss and hug does the trick and he's back to being his normal crazy two year old self. When I asked him what happened he said Lincoln hurt him. This is not unusual - his older brothers like to treat him like he is as big and as coordinated as they are. He didn't want me to put him down so I took him to the living room where I noticed he was holding his arm. He still continued to cry and every time I moved him he cried more. I felt that something might be off so I went to the back yard to ask the older boys what had happened.

The conversation went something like this...

Me: Boys...I need to know what happened to your brother.
Lincoln and Judah (laughing): Oh mom...it was soooooo cool!
Me: What was?
Lincoln: We pulled this branch down, right here (points to a tree branch a good two feet over his head) and we pulled it back, and Simeon was standing right there (points to an area of the yard below the tree) and we let it go! It hit him in the chest and he went flying! It was awesome!
Me: (kind of getting nervous) How did he land?
Lincoln demonstrates how Simeon fell...on his arm.

So I went to find Mike.

"I think something is wrong with Sim's arm. He's not using it, he won't stop crying, the boys said he landed on it weird...I think it may be dislocated or broken."

Mike glares at the boys. "I just told them ten minutes ago to stop pulling those branches back."

He came into the house where Simeon was getting more and more agitated by the minute. He moved his arm and fingers around a bit and then said, "I think he's fine."

I, in usual form, began to cry and stated, "No, he's not. I'm taking him in."

After a little back and forth about where I should take him Mike put him in the car while I looked up wait times for the walk-in clinic down the road. Before I walked out the door Lincoln said, with tears in his eyes, "I didn't mean to break him mom." I think any irritation I had toward him dissipated in that moment. A quick hug to comfort him and I was off. Simeon screamed the entire way. When we got into the waiting room of the clinic he was screaming so much I could hardly hear the receptionist. It took all of three minutes before she said, "You know, they are going to triage him right away and get you to x-rays."

The x-rays were a painful experience for him but they determined he had indeed fractured his elbow. (Insert my brief moment of pride at the fact that my Mother's Instinct had been correct!) The fracture was in such a location that the doctor decided we should head south to Seattle Children's Hospital to see their orthopedic team. Then he said we were going right away - he wanted us to be admitted through the ER. Great.

At the ER they told us they needed to do another x-ray to determine the grade of the fracture. Once that was done they told us they reccomended surgery to fix the elbow. The location of the fracture in conjuction with the fact that there isn't much growth in that area led them to believe that if they didn't fix it it would heal in an improper position leading him to have wonky arms as he grew older. (Please note...no doctor actually used the term wonky but I'm pretty sure they wanted to.)

It was difficult for Mike and me to say yes to the surgery. Although we knew they felt we should do it, the thought of putting him under anesthesia was scary, and subjecting him to pain is never something we want to do. While they said his arm could heal incorrectly if left alone, they also said there was a small chance it could heal fine. We were put at ease a little knowing that there would be no blood loss and that the risk of them having to cut his arm open was miniscule. After prayer and discussion we decided we would go ahead with the surgery.

Around midnight Simeon was sent in for surgery. Although it wasn't an emergency situation they felt that it would be better to do the surgery right away instead of waiting a couple of days. Simeon hadn't eaten since lunch and for me, the thought of putting him through that again was heartbreaking.

So, here I am, nine hours after surgery, totally exhausted watching my sweet baby sleep with a giant cast and sling on his arm and a Looney Tunes hospital gown on.

He came out of surgery well. The nurses said the first thing he said was "Owie" and then "Momma". Love my baby boy! He has two pins in his arm that will be removed in three weeks and a totally awesome cast that I'm pretty sure will make him the most popular two year old in Sunday School.

I am so thankful for everyone's prayers yesterday - although I was anxious at times I never felt too overwhelmed and Mike and I both were able to remain calm. I am thankful for the Lord's protection over Simeon as that branch could have hit him in the face and I can only imagine the kind of damage it would have done there. He is a brave little trooper and I cannot wait to get out of this hospital and take him home! Thank  you to everyone who prayed for us and texted me during the evening and night - you all blessed me more than you know.

Car painting and a broken elbow all in one afternoon. This kid sure is doing a good job of living up to the nickname bestowed upon him by his uncle...Dennis the Menace.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Today marks a very big milestone in my life. One I am exceptionally proud of and one that has taken me many many years to attain.

Today is the two week anniversary of me making my bed every day.

Not my bed. Not even close. I wish my bed were this nice. And my room were this clean. And I'm a little jealous of all the pillows. Anyway...moving on...

Before you close this page and stop reading, bear with me! That may seem like something really dumb to be proud of. I mean, everyone makes their bed, don't they? At least, that is what my mother would have you think. My grandmother ingrained that into her. Make your bed every. single. day. My mother, being the good daughter that she was, always did. And my mom taught me to make my bed every single day. Except...I didn't. Unless I was threatened with being grounded or having something taken away, I rarely made my bed. When I was in college and lived with my grandparents, and I didn't make my bed, my grandma would just make it for me. She also picked up my room, did my laundry, cleaned my bathroom and made me lunch everyday...but that's a story for another time. (PS...I loved living with my grandparents.)

My point is, I've never really made my bed. I don't know why. Perhaps it was my inner rebel (more likely my inner slob) but I just never grew out of not making my bed.

When Mike and I got married he would just make the bed. I felt a little guilty, but not guilty enough to make the bed. The only time I made the bed was when I changed the sheets. And then I was an animal. I wanted everything straight and lined up and the corners to be perfect. I would place the pillows just so and arrange the comforter exactly perfect ... because once a week I liked having a nicely made bed and crisp sheets to climb into. Mike hated it when I changed the sheets because I would get so anal about how the bed was made.

He called me The Sheet Nazi.

Once a week, I cared. And I hated it when he helped me put sheets on the bed because I'd just have to redo his side. We've been married over ten years now and this has been my song and dance for the entire time.

Never make the bed unless I'm putting clean sheets on. Then, and only then, be a royal terror about how the bed looks and the blankets are organized.

So, basically, my bed-making habits are a big fat joke.

15 days ago, when I attended my homeschool support meeting, we had a wonderful woman named Pam speak to us about children and chores. Trust me, I was there with a notepad and paper ready to take notes. I could not wait to get the answers on how to get my kids to help out around the house. I figured if anyone was going to help me, it was going to be the mother of eleven, yes...11...children.
Pam will have the answers!!!

So, with pen and paper ready to jot down every word that came out of her moth, I listened intently to what she had to share. And she had a lot to say.

To me. About me. She offered me hope and helped me to see that chores...

Begin with me.

I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't see that before. Teaching my children how to do things requires that I teach them by example.

And Pam very gently and sweetly encouraged me to start small.

"Start," she said, "by making your bed every day. Once you have that mastered, move onto something else. Picking up your room. Once that is mastered, add something else. Baby steps. Teach your children by being the example."

Baby Steps. That resonates with me. Baby steps got us out of debt. Baby steps are helping us change our eating habits. Baby steps are going to help me become a better home maker - the kind of home maker who has a clean house every once in awhile. Baby steps are going to help me be an example of how to do chores - and help me teach my children how to do chores.

So, I began making my bed. And 14 days later, I think it's become a habit. Maybe? This morning I didn't want to make the bed. You know...taking the 45 seconds out of my morning and applying my sheet nazi skills is apparently difficult to do? Maybe it's not a habit until I don't even notice I'm doing it. Maybe not. Maybe it will never be something I want to do.

But, I hate to admit this...it's nice to crawl into a made bed every night. When company comes over I'm not embarrassed to keep our bedroom door open. I don't have to rush to throw things together if someone has to use the bathroom in my room. And the made bed kind of makes the other messes look more messy, so by default I've been picking those up to.

So, today I celebrate two weeks of having a made bed. Something small that represents something so big.

To celebrate, I might just finish folding the load of laundry that has been sitting on top the the dryer for four days.

I know, I know ... I'm an overachiever.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Now Let's Never Mention That Again

The other day while we were at the park, my four year old daughter looked up at me and, very seriously, asked me, "Mom...why aren't people staring at me and telling me that I am a beautiful princess?"

I'm pretty sure my jaw hit the floor.

Then I remembered she'd spent the last three days in the dress she wore in my brother's wedding in October, the dress she wore in my other brother's wedding a few weeks ago, and her Christmas dress. She has been covered in more tulle, sparkles and satin than is normal and had been receiving comments everywhere we went about being a Princess.

By golly, that day she was only wearing a plain ol' little brown sun dress.

And people had the audacity to not stare and comment.

In that moment I saw every insecurity I have as a woman in my sweet little daughter. I know how desperate I am for approval, how much I want to be noticed. It seems so silly that after 31 years of life and 10 years of marriage I still need affirmations from those around me.

"See? I've lost five pounds!"
"Did you notice my new jeans?"
"I got a new hair cut!"
"Well...yeah, I've been working out a little."

The thing is, I get approval all the time. My husband never ceases to let a day go by without telling me a) how beautiful I am to him b) what a good mother I am c) what a good cook I am and d) how much he loves me. My children are a little less obvious with their affections but still, they affirm me. I get the morning snuggles, they need me to kiss their owies to make them better, they come to me when something is wrong...and I get unsolicited "I love you's" from them. I am affirmed by them every single day.

More than that...I know how much I am valued by God. There are countless Bible verses telling me how much He cares for me and beyond those, I have seen Him answer my prayers, felt Him touch me and heard Him speak to my heart. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am loved, cherished and wanted by Him.

Still and yet ... I look to others to affirm me.

I think this is a constant struggle, not just for me, but for women everywhere. And I hate, passionately, that this struggle is already beginning to manifest itself in my daughter.

What to do?

First, I reminded Brooklyn how much her Daddy and I love her. I reminded her that Daddy says she is pretty and the most beautiful little girl he knows. Remember?
"Yes. Daddy says I'm his favorite little girl."
Then I reminded her how much God loves her.
"Yes. Jesus loves me."
Isn't that enough?
She looked at me and smiled and said, "Yes. It is enough."

And you know what? It was enough for her! She didn't sit by me and say, "Are you sure? Are you sure you think I'm a beautiful princess? Are you sure God thinks I'm a beautiful princess? I don't know...my hair is kind of messy today. I still have peanut butter smeared across my cheek from lunch. I did smash some food on the front of my dress. Are you sure I look ok, Mom?"

She never mentioned it again.

I want to be like that.

I want to be like my daughter. When insecurity rears up and makes me question myself, my ability or my worth, I want to be able to say to God, and my husband, "You are enough."

And never mention it again.