A Letter to My Youngest

My precious little miracle,

Here we sit. It’s April 16th. I was supposed to work today, but you and I are both sick, and you need regular nebulizer treatments, so I stayed home with you. You definitely don’t feel good, but man, you’re so much healthier than this time a year ago. When I checked on you before coming to bed, your breathing was perfectly even. Your body is fighting this virus the same way you fight everything- stubborn, and head-on. You should be all better in just a couple more days. This has been hard on me, though. Harder than an outsider might fathom. But having you wheezing on April 16 just doesn’t set well with my heart.

Your wonderful Daddy and I have been through our share of rollercoaster life events in our marriage – moving, a career change for me, having a baby, medical issues for me with my gallbladder, losing his Mima, losing two babies early in pregnancy, having a second baby, losing my grandparents within four days of each other… we felt like we’d seen a lot. We weathered each rise and fall of the rollercoaster great because of our faith. We faced some positive and some negative surprises along the way, and of course the biggest (positive!!) surprise we ever had was having you! And what a wonderful, miraculous surprise you are!!! We felt we had faced it all, and then you got sick. Very sick. And you were just so very tiny still. Ten and a half weeks old. Our tiny, precious little miracle bug. Our little mermaid.

I relive those days over and over at random times. The days between April 9 and April 17 are all a blur. A blur that comes to a sudden, halting stop at 10:58 pm on April 17. The hours between then and the night of the 19th are a blur too, but a very different blur- where every minute seemed to last for hours. The hours stretched into seemingly days, and the days to weeks. Every time we almost lost you my heart would stop for long seconds, and I would die inside. Sometimes I wished the tears would come, and they wouldn’t. And other times, the floodgates would open and I couldn’t make them stop. I would hold your tiny fingers and crave the feeling of holding you close. I begged God to give me a chance to hold you again. And then the clock stopped again, and we were told we were at your last option. ECMO. I remember texting your Nurse Practioner, Katie, and begging her to come be with us. I am pretty sure I just said, “ECMO. It’s time. Please can you come.” And she of course came.

For eight and a half agonizingly long days, we had a family member always by your side. We moved into the Ronald McDonald House so we were able to be together as a whole family in the same building. And we settled into the hospital life. A life where everyone suddenly knew we were Elle’s family- from room 25. The days and nights of ECMO were stressful at first, but we settled into an amazing routine with the nursing team, and felt like we weren’t alone in this journey. And baby girl, we were never alone. God sent His very own angels right there into your room day and night to look over you. They never left you. They made it possible for us to sleep. I know they were angels because they never seemed to tire, and they brought such encouragement to us- directly from Heaven- to pull us through.

But through all of your victorious recovery after ECMO and everything, my brain can’t really move past the night of the 17th. And I’m not really sure how I’ll be tomorrow night when the clock is about to strike 11. I’m hoping I can go to bed somewhat early and sleep right through it. But I relive those moments of hearing the alarm go off, the nurse coming in, flipping on the lights, and you being so pale that you were blue. Her screaming down the hall for help. The rush of staff. And then more. And more. Calling your Daddy numerous times and finally calling your Pappy to go downstairs and wake him up to come to the hospital. Calling Granny and PawPaw. Asking for the Chaplain. The resident coming out to talk to us and update us on how you were doing. And I kept seeing his Batman light and knowing Jacob was watching over you, and surely God had sent us this resident as a sign that He was with us…

Your tiny fingers. Your little nose. I tried to memorize them all as we stood with some of our dearest friends around your bed and had you baptised.

It’s true that the whole 43 days at the hospital changed me, sure. But that night. The night of April 17. It’s a night that I will relive probably for the rest of my life. I pray that one year, the memory will be so very faded that I’ll strain my brain trying to remember the sequence of events. But I doubt that will ever happen. And that’s ok. Because it shaped who I am as a person, and who I am as a mother.

I treasure every little thing that any of the three of you does or says. I do my best to live in the moment in a way I had never done before. Because I know that a night like April 17, 2018, can sneak up any time and threaten to steal any one of you away from me, and I refuse to be left without a full catalog of priceless memories. So here’s to cataloguing memories, and if you are a mom when you finally read this, I pray you learn from what I learned the hard way. Don’t miss a moment. Treasure every tiny finger and every tiny toe on every single one of your babies, and notice as they get longer. Memorize every laugh. Trace every smile onto the stone of your mind. And live- really, truly LIVE with your kids.

I love you so very much, my precious girl. More than words could ever express, I am thankful for you and I love you. Always. Sleep good tonight, my ElleBug. Sweet dreams.

Love,

Mommy

Interested in reading Elle’s full story? Visit her CaringBridge site here.

Advent Books

Our Advent book box

This is going to be a fairly quick post- it’s 2:30am and I’m only awake because a certain sweet little guy woke up needing some snuggles and some cough meds. (Tis the season!)

But I wanted to answer some questions about our Advent books project! There are a couple of different ways to do this, and it’s all over Pinterest, I feel sure. But here’s what we do:

I sift through all of our Christmas themed books and pick out 24 favorites. Each year I make sure that each child has at least one (this year it’s two) brand new books in the stack. Christmas Eve always ends with Becca reading us “Twas The Night Before Christmas.” Some certain books get wrapped every year- like the tiny Little Golden Book about a Christmas snowman that was mine as a kid, and the book Too Many Tamales, which is just one of my absolute favorites of all time. We also have to Take A Mouse To The Movies, and we have a favorite version of The Twelve Days of Christmas. I wrap each child’s books in their own pattern of paper (this year, I ran out of Gray’s paper, so he has two different patterns.) I also label each package with a sharpie and write the date in a LARGE “font” so that if the books get dropped, they can easily get put back into order!

We also do several other things for Advent. We have a felt Advent calendar whose pockets hide pieces of the nativity scene, and we add a piece each night, telling and retelling the story of Christ’s birth each night. This year, I added the Jesus Calling advent book to this, and on Becca’s nights, she reads us the next page in the book. We also have the Lego City Advent calendar, and a bowl of mini candy canes.

So the way I do this, is I plan the order of the books, and we begin with night one on our felt calendar being started by Becca pulling out the palm tree in Bethlehem and reading Jesus Calling. Then she opens day one of the advent calendar and builds the tiny toy. Gray then gets a mini candy cane to eat and opens book number 1! I read the book to both of them while he eats the candy cane, and then it’s off to bed! This occurs on all the odd nights. On the even nights, it flips and Gray does the felt Advent and Lego, and Becca gets the book and candy cane. Sometimes the book they open has a special significance with the felt character for the Advent story, but usually they are just fun Christmas books!

Another way I have heard to do this is to have a brand new book of any theme to open each night, and it’s a big gift of lots of new books at the end. I prefer the more frugal way of wrapping favorite books and making it a big fun surprise all over again! Talk about reinforcing a love of language and of reading!!

Happy Advent and happy reading!!

Remembering Rahab


She stood and looked out of her window. And she prayed. To a God she had only just heard of. She didn’t know why, but the men she had hidden had something about them that made them different. Maybe it was because they trusted HER. Maybe it was because her past didn’t seem to matter to them. Maybe it was because their God really was her God, too, and in His providence He had brought them to her door. Surely that must be it! This God they served had to be real. Only time would tell. Her family thought she was crazy. How could a scarlet cord as red as her sins hanging from their window possibly save their lives?  
Perhaps she had cousins who denied and did their own thing. Perhaps even her own parents and some of her own children did not even believe. We will never know.
And yet, she prayed. Despite what everyone thought of her, she stopped and stared out of her window and waited. The Israelites were coming. She could see them marching. In the distance, they looked like a thousand ants swarming. The people in the city were talking. Everyone knew they were coming. And Rahab knew everyone would be destroyed. The few friends she had. The family who didn’t trust her. Everyone. But the men had promised her and all in her house salvation. Because she displayed her sin. The scarlet cord flapped in the hot breeze… an ever present reminder of every sin- her very own “Scarlet Letter,” ages before the book would ever be written. Those sins would soon be gone. Her past would be merely a memory. If the men had been right.

She prayed they were right. She trusted their God to save her. And because of her faith, she played a vital role in the lineage of Jesus Christ. She, a prostitute. She, who was not a Jew. She, with all of her flaws, shares a place in His history with the likes of Naomi and Mother Mary. She is a perfect example of being set free from our stains. We are all human. And no matter what we have done, with simple faith, He waits to take that cord from our window and cleanse it in the sweet bleach of His death and resurrection. All we must do is ask Him to take our mountain of dirty laundry, and He’s there, to clean every spot. His death, and even more, His resurrection, takes my Mount Laundry and makes it no more; takes my scarlet cord and washes it white as snow.

Easter is coming!

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

Being a Mom in 2017


This year holds a lot. My oldest baby will turn five this year. Five. She’ll start to kindergarten in the fall. Gray will cut more teeth, learn more words, and discover new physical abilities. But being a mom of two little ones in 2017 is so much more than the big milestones.

It’s waking up with a sinus headache at 3 am and finally conceeding to the need to get up, eat some crackers, put on some peppermint oil, and take some Advil. It’s walking in and turning on the Christmas tree that needs to be put away because its soft glow is so calming and simply peaceful.

It’s a tiny zebra left on the automan and an airplane on the couch. It’s homeschool papers spread on the bar next to travel agency work and Christmas gifts that still need to find a home. It’s looking past the chaos to feel the peace within about the parenting decisions we’re making.

It’s the memories. Oh the memories. From just a few hours ago – of cuddles with my sweet girl and her telling me I’m the best mommy in the whole world. Of my precious boy saying “I wuff you Mommy,” totally on his own as I laid him into his bed last night. And from ten (how could it have already been TEN?) days ago, when I woke early and anxiously awaited their waking and running down the stairs to see the gifts that Santa brought. Oh the peace that comes in those joyous memories.

But being a mom of two little ones also comes with lots of struggle. They both are working hard to discover who they are, and both of them have strong wills and are willing to fight hard for their independence. I know this will grow them into strong, responsible, world-changing adults. But it pulls at my heart when their wills conflict, and fighting insues. It tears at my insides when they go against my gentle requests and I have to get stern and yes, even submit punishment that sometimes in my frustration comes out quite a bit too harsh. In those moments I fight hard to find the peace I wish they were fighting for, and not against.

And it’s not just them I feel I battle on a daily basis. It’s the laundry and the dishes and the crumbs of food and playdoh and pieces of sensory bin activities that are just forever plaguing me with task after task. It’s the responsibilities that go hand in hand with working from home, homeschooling preschool (that isn’t really PREschool level anything), and the desire to do more of my own hobbies and just never. Finding. Enough. Time! And yet, I still find ways to carve out time for the things I want to do- the things that bring me peace.

In the past, I have selected a word of focus for the year, or purposefully not selected anything for various reasons. But this year in 2017, I am choosing to focus on peace. It’s something I pray for our world, for our nation, for our state and for our city. But most of all, it’s something I pray for our family and for my heart. I pray that in the midst of the struggle, in the midst of the clutter, in the midst of the wonderful, that I would always be able to stop and find peace. Contentment with what I have been given. Joy in the blessings- even the sorrow. And that I would be able to bring God’s peace into our family in a calm, gentle way that also displays His strength and His power, that my children and my husband might see in me just a tiny glimpse of Heaven’s peace.

Maybe this is why I’ve always had a negotiator personality. Maybe this is my time. Like the great queen of ancient Persia, Esther, this is the time God has called me to stand up and be that peaceful negotiator that He made me to be. For such a time as this.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Here’s To The Moms…


Here’s to the moms who get up every day and head off to work, and those who get up and stay home to work.

Here’s to the moms who drink coffee, and those who don’t.

Here’s to the moms who have one child, and those who have two, or three, or four, or more.

Here’s to the moms who have babies they have never held.

Here’s to the moms who breastfeed, and those who use formula.

Here’s to the moms who babywear, and those who don’t.

Here’s to the moms with piles of dishes and mountains of laundry, and to the ones who have someone to take care of the piles of dishes and mountains of laundry. (I admit I’m jealous!!)

Here’s to the moms who are Ms-Fix-It, and those who don’t know a Phillips from a flathead.

Here’s to the moms who drive mini vans, and the moms who drive Harleys.

Here’s to the single moms, and the moms who have a hubby at home for moral support.

Here’s to the moms who believe in corporal punishment, and the ones who don’t.

Here’s to the moms who homeschool, who charterschool, who publicschool, who privateschool, and who unschool.

Here’s to the moms who love the outdoors, and the ones who are couch potatoes.

Here’s to the moms who watch countless hours of kid tv, and those who don’t do technology.

Here’s to the moms who love glitter and crafts, and those who get scared just driving by Hobby Lobby.

Here’s to the moms who have cleaned up vomit, and to those who stood around the corner offering moral support because their stomach just can’t handle the sight.

Here’s to the moms of kids with special needs, and to the moms who can praise God for a “normal” child.

Here’s to the moms on anti-depressants just struggling to get thru the day, and to those who have never once felt the baby blues.

Here’s to the moms not yet sleeping through the night with their newborns… And to the ones remembering those nights as they listen to their children talk about their new baby.

Here’s to the moms who rock their children to sleep, and to the ones who believe in cry it out.

Here’s to the moms who cosleep, and to the moms who watch a monitor vigilantly and listen for sounds of distress.

Here’s to the mom who gets woken up by a child at her side in the night, and the one who locks her child in his room for his own good.

Here’s to the consignment sale moms who buy the best they can at the best price they can, and to the moms who have the funds to buy boutique on their own.

Here’s to the middle school moms whose children are being bullied, and to the moms who have just discovered their child IS the bully.

Here’s to the moms of girls going through puberty.  ‘Nough said.

Here’s to the moms whose child just started driving, and is headed out this weekend with friends.

Here’s to the moms who babies are graduating- from kindergarten, from high school, from college, from grad school.

Here’s to the moms whose kids live next door, and those who live far away.

Here’s to the moms, the aunts, the cousins, the grandmas- the Grannies, Gigis, Mamies, Mimis, Nanas, Nawnaws, Mimas, and Abuelitas.

Here’s to the women who have loved us like a mom and taught us priceless lessons, but whose wombs have never held life.

Here’s to you.  We all speak one language.  “Mom.”  Every one of our children is different, but we all know.  We all understand.  We are connected by a bond of sisterhood.  We are blessed.  We are mom.