Thursday, December 26, 2013

because wine

I had planned to take the week off from chores. It's Christmas, after all. Or it was. Like I care: anything to NOT do chores, amiright?!

I scanned the floor with Blake earlier today, searching for the ball bearings to a small maze he'd inadvertently opened and spilled, and I saw much more than I bargained for, but I reminded myself: Christmas. Be strong. Wear slippers.

Vesper finished lunch before me, so I let her out of the high chair, opened a magazine, and tucked into my own meal. About twenty minutes later, I looked down at her, leaning her head contentedly on my leg, and saw a sizable puddle around her. And numerous dots and puddles elsewhere. Her idea of fun these days is taking a mouthful from her sippy cup and slowly dribbling it out over her chin and clothes. Most of the time, we let her suffer in her damp clothing because while we'd prefer she NOT do this, it's not a big deal with water. The juice I had given her after a meal of bananas and cheese is an entirely different story. Why juice? Well, bananas and cheese. I wanted her to poop sometime in the next three days. Why bananas and cheese? Well, she vigorously defied anything else. Why defiance? If you have to even ask that, you've clearly not spent enough time with an 18-month-old.

And why can I observe all of this with a benevolent - dare I say indulgent? - smile upon my face? Check the post title again. It will make sense now.
A previously unshared photo from 2008. You're welcome.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Last year was ten, and I didn't feel like saying anything about it online. This year is eleven and I'm more emotional, probably because grief is weird. And because I'm feeling heavily for those in fresh grief around me. And because each year that passes makes little Blake ever more an echo of his father.

I have a harder time imagining what things would be like if big Blake were alive and an easier time just missing him as a person. I still find myself occasionally surprised by someone who looks like him in passing, or caught by a memory, long buried, that bubbles up and brings a wave of sweet tenderness with barely any sting.

Then I go to an elementary Christmas program, and every year, it makes me cry. Every year, I sit and stream tears with a sincere smile on my face, my heart aching for what big Blake is missing. I don't know what he knows, and I don't presume that a life of brokenness here on earth is more compelling to gaze upon than the very presence of God in heaven... and it doesn't really matter. He's missing out. He's missing nothing. Both are true.

I have the privilege of speaking to a Bible study in a few months, on the topic of "A Heart Restored." Perhaps that is lending to my feelings this December 22, as what I will say and how I will say it have been on my heart and mind. Something has changed in the last year, and it's subtle, but important: Rather than telling my story and including God, I can talk about God by telling others my story. His sovereignty comforts me more and more, rather than being an unknown terror. My understanding of His ways is not really greater, but my trust in them has grown by leaps and bounds.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Snow is coming down in buckets here in Billings, and we're taking our family photo today in the hopes that I'll get to send Valentines now that the opportunity for Christmas cards is largely past. Vesper is raiding my purse for mints while Blake read Psalm 23 aloud in order to earn another 30 minutes on the iPad. Rob is helping Dad work wood for our dining room table. Mom and I will probably play some mahjong at some point.

Happy anniversary to me, married just before Christmas eleven years ago, still carrying a torch for the love I lost, still madly in love with the husband I have. Life is beautiful, and I'm grateful for all of it.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

this is my tribe

From a time in August when nearly all of my immediate family was together in Coeur d'Alene. I found it written on a slip of paper in a forgotten book. Because of the sheer number of people (both small and tall) involved, I've listed names and kids' ages for more context.

Lane: No more calling "poopface" at the table.
Maddox (4): OK! I understand that!

Grammie: Hey, Sawyer! How's it going?!

Sawyer (3): (indignantly) Maddox won't play with me! I only just called him an idiot last night!

Reese: Maddox is outside with the hose.
Lane: Uh, NO, he's NOT.
Mason, Smith, Addie, & Blake: Uh...
Lane: I mean, I know that he IS, but he should NOT BE.

Lane: I got this steak just for you. I even massaged it, Mom. Just for you.
Bing: Well, there's a word picture. My wife, the meat massager.

Monday, November 25, 2013


Blake has gotten shy and requested that I not post photos or videos of him before he's approved them. He's also gotten very difficult to get photos or videos of in the first place. Thankfully, I have someone who is not so opinionated to make up for it, and I don't have nearly as many snaps or vids of her at this age as I do of him at this age... just so that you know I am not playing favorites.

Besides, if I were playing favorites, don't you think I'd choose the offspring that wipes their own ass?

 Our little wood sprite, sporting new duds from Grammie (who also gets the photo credit).

 Rob's Tennessee orange hat that is now too small (due to washing, I think, not his head swelling). Vesper loves it and tries to put it on herself, and will wear it willingly for up to a full minute or two.

Some of the Halloween crew. We loaded up on chili and cornbread with our neighbors, then hit the streets. Those boys aren't excited at all.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I keep meaning to write something here, because goodness knows I'm talking about it ALL THE TIME, but I don't feel like writing something here, because I'm talking about it ALL THE TIME.

In short, our hearts are well following last week's miscarriage. I had suspected the pregnancy's viability for a few weeks, so getting confirmation was hard and disappointing, but not devastating or even shocking. Tuesday was very difficult, as was Wednesday morning, but then... something changed. I don't know if I was simply tired of crying (that doesn't mean I'm DONE crying, just tired of it), if I was ready to move forward with conviction and knowledge, or if God was doing a work in my heart. Probably all three, and more I'm not even aware of. We met with the doctor Wednesday, he wrote us a few prescriptions, and we went home.

So, here's the thing with miscarriage: they are all different. Still upsettingly common, but my experience seems unusual to other women who have shared with me their own losses. I've now had two miscarriages, have had to take drugs both times to force my body to finish what it started, and I have very little pain. Some cramping, yes, but compared to the women who went to the emergency room for the agony that felt like a hot knife in the gut? No. Not me.

Dr. B: Have you ever taken oxycodone?
A: Um... yes? Is that Vicodin?
Dr. B: No, that is HYDROcodone.
A: OH! No. I've never done oxy.

(long pause)

A: That sounded terrible. I have never taken oxycodone.

Turns out I do not NEED to take oxycodone, a fact I learned about twenty minutes too late, as I sat on the couch feeling the worst kind of drunk, with my head in my hands and a bowl next to me. I had to text Rob (who was upstairs at the moment) to come get Vesper after her nap, because not only could I not go pick her up and feel safe to do so, I couldn't even rise to a standing position. The rest of Wednesday was unpleasant, but not as uncomfortable (I took half doses of the oxy after that, and probably could have stuck with ibuprofen). Rob took two days off to help out and treat me gently, and the kids were not even a little bit aware or respectful about what was going on.

We had friends over for dinner all three nights this past weekend, and I wouldn't have done it any other way. It was good for my soul to serve others, and this past week and a half has been a testimony of God's strength in my weakness, because I NEVER have that much company, EVER. On purpose! I'm too lazy! Rob's been working the late shift for the past two nights and eating at the office, so Blake and I have the easiest kinds of dinners that require almost no cooking because we can! But cooking for a bunch of guests? Yes. Sign me up. Taking meals to others in need? Yep, I can do that, too.

I've still been surprised by tears, and I deliberately asked for prayer from our entire church family. I knew that if my fears of miscarriage were confirmed, I would need to talk about it, openly. Not often. Not lots of gory details. But enough so that folks knew what to pray for, why I might need gentleness, and to give others courage to speak up about this otherwise very private suffering. Rob and I had hesitated to go public with our pregnancy, and we did keep it from the internet. But I told damn near everyone face to face, because I was SO EXCITED! I wanted the news from us to be pregnancy and joy FIRST, and if we had other news later, so be it. We weren't going to lead with grief or keep the grief tucked away. I don't operate like that, and if others do, God bless them.

And if God can bless others because I'm an open book about joy AND suffering, then I will let them read. The pain of my past doesn't give me a "get out of suffering free" card, even if I wanted it to (ok, I kind of want it to). The pain of my present isn't all there is. We are hopeful and expectant, anticipating good news and positive pregnancy tests (I LOVE THOSE THINGS and I take more than one because they are FUN!). Our baby Maui and baby October will always be in our hearts, and one day, I'll hold them in my arms.

Until then, I have some pretty amazing people to wrap my arms around today.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

it is well with my soul

Though we had hoped to make a joyful announcement of another Bedford joining our family, unfortunately, we've received confirmation that we've lost this wee-est of babies. And the reason I'm telling you all like this is because miscarriage is shockingly common and shockingly quiet... but I have never been quiet about anything. God is ushering us through a season of disappointment, tears, and pain, and we are praying expectantly for hope-filled tomorrows. He has been replacing my "what ifs?" with "even ifs" - "What if this pregnancy isn't viable?" into "Even if this pregnancy isn't viable, God is still good and we trust Him with our lives." Each child is a miraculous gift from God, and we now have two in the arms of Jesus. I am excited to meet them. And once the narcotics wear off, I will be having a glass of wine in their honor. Love to all, and we're so grateful for all the love being lavished upon us.

Friday, November 1, 2013

the not so fertile road, part 3

(Read Part 1)
(Read Part 2)

On the day after Christmas, I was saying goodbye to my folks as they headed back to Billings when I got a text. I opened it to see the picture of a stick on which a friend had peed. It was a positive pregnancy test.

The text was from Hannah.

I screamed. I cried. We had an immediate conference call with the three of us. It was a miracle. Just mind-blowing. The statistics that I haven't shared (to protect Hannah's privacy) made this such a miraculous gift from God. This wasn't one of those "relax, stop trying so hard, and you'll have a baby!" moments. God had moved. Hannah was pregnant.

The emails continued in a flurry, because even though the miraculous had happened, Hannah was experiencing the following in full force:
I'm worrying a lot... remember this email from Addie a long time ago? "Just know that the fear and worry do not stop when you get a positive stick. They actually increase, to the point where you might be fearful of sharing with others because that jinxes your pregnancy and you'll lose it (wrestled with that one). Then you're fearful if you don't feel movement as often as you should." I vacillate between panicking every time I feel a sharp twinge when I cough or sneeze (1 of 14 indicators of an ectopic pregnancy; I have no other symptoms of ectopic, but sharp twinge when I cough) or panicking because I don't feel sick or in pain, which of course means that the embryo has died and that I'm going to miscarry. There's no winning with me!
Hannah had the unenviable task of sharing her happy news with other infertile friends, and her wisdom and compassion for both sides of that aisle grew in admirable ways. She knew how her younger sister had felt, sharing her own pregnancy with a still-trying Hannah.

Missy and I demanded a belly shot.
On September 6, a mere two months ago, Charis Alene entered the world. Charis is a Greek word, meaning "grace," because after three years of infertility, God gracious gave my friends a daughter. She is ridiculously cute.

Just borned.
Ridiculously cute.
And while this "not so fertile road" ends in the most unlikely of results, I know that for many, it's still a painful, lonely road. Perhaps by talking more openly about such things will help it be less isolating, will help keep the fertile from smug answers, will help us grieve and love and walk TOGETHER, because we'll have discovered the enormous truth that we're all on the same road, after all.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

the not so fertile road, part 2

(Read Part 1)

After my miscarriage, Hannah brought in Missy, and we proceeded to email-as-therapy through the infertility indignities that Hannah and her husband were now enduring. We wrote wildly inappropriate haiku about endometriosis, surgeries, and how I thought Missy was "as sweet as a rash." We assured one another of being safe to say the wrong thing, because each of us had suffered our own tragedies, and we had a vague idea of what "the wrong thing" was. Believe me when I say that these emails were and are balm to my soul. In the last two years, we have covered more topics than I can count, in more emails than Gmail likes to deal with, and I have yet to even meet Missy face to face. I trust them with intimate details of my life, because they have privileged me with the same.

Because the first pregnancy had ended sadly, Hannah was a cheerleader for us when we started to try again. When the pregnancy test was positive, I called her. We talked about loving the infertile from a fertile perspective (just as I discovered pregnancy, she and her husband were beginning to explore their options). We emailed about idolatry - hers was a pregnancy the way she wanted, mine was to control the outcome of this pregnancy the way I wanted - and through it all, my heart was intent on protecting her heart. I probably slathered things on more thickly than usual in an effort to soften the blow of being pregnant and talking to a friend discovering increasingly bad things about her prospects for the same. If I complained about morning sickness, it was with lots of wry sarcasm and faux "woe is me" sentimentality so that she could laugh and sympathize rather than bitterly think, "I wish I could complain about morning sickness."

Another thing I found myself praying against was judging her and her husband for so doggedly pursuing a baby that was biologically "them." The obstacles they faced were excruciating and daunting, and she shared them freely with Missy and I... and I privately wondered if I would do the same. My email to her read:
There is a part of me that wonders if I'd go straight to adoption if instant baby wasn't in my future, and part of me that warns the other part not to go there. I don't know how I would respond. Once you get the emotions involved, there's a great deal that's out the window when it comes to purely rational decision-making. It's how God made us... and if we FEEL broken, even if how we feel isn't what's real, it STILL FEELS REAL. I can imagine it's a hard thing all around, and I don't envy you the process, dear friend.
Because I was walking that infertile road vicariously, I permitted myself to think things without saying them, to pray for their efforts, and to try to lighten her load however she needed. And when it was clear they were moving forward with the fertility options they had, I was behind them 100%. We continued to email and learn more about one another. Hannah, like others I know who have suffered, endeavored to write a primer on walking with others through similar trials. I think she did so beautifully, and it helps that she has degrees in things like counseling and therapy and crap. I know the important stuff - I don't care about her pedigree or diplomas or whatever.

And after over a year of throwing themselves into fertility treatments that included at least one surgery, big drugs, and procedures that aren't all warm and fuzzy when you think of "let's make a baby!", Hannah and her husband got the very unfortunate news that the door was rapidly closing on their options. Things in Hannah's body had so deteriorated in one year that even IVF (in vitro fertilization) success was significantly reduced, if cost and ethical considerations hadn't already prohibited it. Her doctor advised them to keep trying, but that conception was moving from the realm of "medical" to the realm of "miracle."

The emails stopped for a month. We all grieved. Celebrated Thanksgiving. In very early December, we traded missives that each dealt with our impressive tempers and how we controlled them. Or not.
I didn't go through all of it. Instead I walked through most of it and then I turned around. I started staring each of them down. They started shutting up. And of my German Grandfather's ire and temper came out. Glaring. Yes. I slammed the door on my way out. It's funny. I think I'm more scary when I don't say anything.
Today was better in that I didn't almost adopt a cat out of guilt or receive any more news about my family. I did, however, completely lose my shit while doing Christmas shopping. The highlight though is that Andy now has a collection of one-liners that I managed to produce in the middle of my tirade... one-liners which, in retrospect, send us both into fits of laughter. Highlights include, "as if I enjoy having sensory issues only found in autistic children"; "why does your mother insist on buying me itchy sweaters from that God-forsaken store?"; and, my personal favorite: "those fuckers at J. Crew". Because my husband is a saint, he immediately took me to the food court, bought me a pretzel and a soda, and then forgave me and validated everything I said. Then he dubbed it the Airing of Grievances and we toasted to the early beginning of Festivus.
(I can't post my temper excerpt. It might be about you and then you'd be embarrassed and I would have to apologize for something that I wasn't sorry about.)
 The Not So Fertile Road, Part 3: Now What?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

the not so fertile road, part 1

I'm borrowing the title of this post from a friend, Jody, who struggled with infertility and spoke up about it, in a way that ministered to me and blessed me and blesses me still. Infertility is still a largely private suffering. You don't really want to tell people about your sex life, you don't really want to talk about a monthly disappointment that arrives in the form of a period, and you don't really want to hear other people's input on why you're not conceiving, what you should be doing differently, and how that one friend they know just relaxed, adopted, and blammo! Pregnant.

The topic of reproduction is replete with pitfalls, land mines, and wholly unsuspecting and well-meaning people wade right in with questions or comments that seem totally harmless, just conversation starters:
  • When are you guys going to have a baby?
  • My, there's a big age gap between your kids!
  • Are you pregnant? or How old is your baby?
Of course, these can be answered with innocuous, easy replies:
  • We're 13 weeks along, so glad you asked!
  • We were done until God opened our hearts to adoption! or Just like we planned it!
  • Yes! or I just delivered last week!
But there are other answers, too. And the other answers have made me MUCH more careful in how I talk about pregnancy and children with strangers or acquaintances:
  • We've been trying for over a year. Fertility treatments haven't worked, and the doctor says I'm infertile.
  • My first husband died while I was pregnant, and it took time to remarry and be ready for another baby.
  • No, I very recently miscarried at 20 weeks and my body hasn't recovered. or Five years old.
I know at least one woman who has experienced each of these. Shoot, I AM the woman in one of them. And in light of two friendships that have stretched, grown, and unfurled in beautiful ways in the last two years, I'm writing a little series on infertility. As in, loving the infertile from a fertile perspective. My perspective.


In late 2010, my friend Hannah shared with me that she and her husband were trying to conceive. She was really excited to enter a new phase of their life and marriage. They had been trying for a while, and she was beginning to get a bit anxious, as well. She contacted me and another friend, Missy, to request counsel, prayer, friendship, support. We eventually created a sort of "sisterhood of suffering," because each of us had specific and unique story that included it, and each were still walking in faith in Christ. We are also all sarcastic, free with profanity, and fiercely defensive of Jesus and each other.

After Hannah had shared with me some of their trouble conceiving, but before we had created the sisterhood, I found out that Rob and I were expecting. Accidentally - as in, earlier than I had planned. Now I had to tell my friend, the one who actively grieved each monthly period because it was evidence of "failure," of non-life, of prayers answered by a quiet, painful, "No." I was scared of hurting her, even though I know that joy is not a zero sum game (more for me = less for you). I wanted to say all the right things and none of the wrong things, because though she had asked for my support, I did not know the struggle with infertility firsthand.

So I emailed her. My reasoning was that it was better than calling, because it gave her freedom to read and process and reply in her own time. I told her every thought I'd been having about this being a new avenue of grief for me, how I thought we'd need to try for longer, how much I wanted this for her too, and how concerned I was that many people I knew would see this as reason to be happy for me, sad for them. Just like I felt when friends/family announced pregnancies after I was widowed. I was so happy for them! I was so sad for me.

And she was gracious. She rejoiced for the happy news and sympathized with my fears and anxiety about being due during the same season as big Blake died. I was at ease.

One month later, we suffered a miscarriage.

And she was gracious. She heard my thoughts on the mercies of the miscarriage and my sorrow that I hadn't fully rejoiced in this too-short life. It brought us closer, for which I am grateful. Because of the transparency she'd already had with me, I was able to say things to her that were too blunt, too hard, or simply too inappropriate for almost anyone else. You're surprised: I have limits. Be grateful for what I DON'T put on this blog!

The Not So Fertile Road, Part 2: Pregnant again.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

looky what I found!

 This handsome lad started third grade. I still can't believe it.

 The girlies.

 Sharing Kix, Gunner and Audrey.

 Gunner and V, learning how to share. 

 Found these, from Vesper's first birthday. She's changed a ton in the few months since.

 Her hair is longer, and her nose less orange.

She's still a fun little punkin.

Monday, October 7, 2013

so long, summer. we barely knew ye (updated)

So, this time my quiet hasn't been due to melancholy! Hurray! I've just had many, many, MANY pressing things to do other than compose myself and my thoughts and maybe a photo or two and bang it out here. And honestly, when I do get a chance to say something, I usually put it on Facebook, because short and sweet makes me choose my words carefully, keep my words relevant (NO ONE wants to know what you ate today. Really.), and can be tucked into the tiny amount of time it takes for Vesper to fill my purse with Honeycomb cereal.

Blake has started ending lists with "and all such." I can't think of any examples right now, but it's funny, I don't know where he got it (neither Rob nor I say it), and I hope you get to hear it sometime and all such. He and Vesper are still each others' favorite person, although he sometimes gets a bit carried away and, as a result, has dropped her more than once, and not always right side up. We have some new guidelines about when and how he may carry her.

Vesper is sporting five teeth and clearly working hard on about two hundred more. There's a lot of drool, finger-chewing, and erratic mood swings. She's finally learned how to sign 'please' and can identify the sound of the cookie jar being opened. After a hilariously slow chase of Blake around the kitchen and dining room (he had a popsicle he'd let her sample and she wanted more), Rob unscrewed the lid and we all watched her abruptly veer off toward that other dude in the house, signing 'please,' and opening her mouth like a baby bird. She's in the awkward phase of starting to understand instructions - "Where's your lovey?" or "Find your juice, please!" - but not being quite up to speed on what's deemed obedience and disobedience. As a result, she's often pretty disobedient, but gleefully ignorant about it. She loves to put things in things (see above: Honeycomb), which makes her surprisingly helpful about cleaning up. She loves to take things out of things, which means she gets to then be helpful somewhat regularly. Club Mini crackers are her absolute favorite, and she often has jammed so many in her mouth that the ends are all poking out. Just a dainty little lady over here!

Rob and I still like each other. A lot. Financial pressure will likely ease a bit in the coming months, for which we are VERY grateful, and meant I bought a pair of jeans. I'm now up to two pair, because I've lost 15 pounds and only had one of the smaller size left in my closet. Whee! We're hoping for another baby, but so far God seems to be telling us to get our fiscal act together first. UGH. FINE! We'll be responsible adults!

For now.

 I've been watching Gunner occasionally, and seeing him and V figure each other out, share, not share, defend, and make up has been sweet. My take away? V is a bit of a drama queen, G is a bit of a bruiser, but he's sweet-natured about hugging it out and giving kisses, which V is suspicious and emotional about.

Dear God. I have a girl.

 Um... July? Picking Blake up from his week at church camp.

 Um... August? We all (minus poor, hard-working Rob and Matt) met up in Coeur d'Alene for a weekend with 15 people under one roof. There wasn't a LOT of sleeping, but as Reese noted, we all still love each other. That's one in the win column!

Though we had hoped to take advantage of an outdoor water park and be outside, it rained the ENTIRE time we were there. LAME. So we went to a bounce house, an indoor water park, drank wine, played hand and foot, and generally destroyed Lane & Bing's lovely home.

 Taking a break from all that jumping.

 Sawyer was pretty intense about beating the crap out of that yellow column thingy.

 Oh yeah. This one climbs stairs. She cannot get back down, other than face first (a scrape with the one concrete step out our front door proved that one), and I have a sweet video that I shot sideways of this very first stair climb at the end of the post.

Super bubbles with a neighbor. See this beautiful, bluebird day? These nutsos wanted to play the XBox, Wii, or iPad. I'm thisclose to selling all three devices, but instead, Rob disconnected the ones attached to the TV "for the summer," and I whipped together a batch of bubbles. Next year, I might have to invest in a hard-sided kiddie pool, bigger batches, and hula hoops. For the kids, you know.

UPDATE: I let Blake watch the video above before he left for school today. His takeaway: "I'd fight that thing like a man." I'm not really sure what he thinks that means, as I haven't seen men wrestle large inflatable tubes, but I told him he'd could absolutely do that when we visit again.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

that's what we said

A: (via text) Is Blake down there? He didn't have permission to invite himself in.
H: (my neighbor, 3 boys of her own) I'm not home right now, but he might have gone to the park with G and T.
A: Which he also didn't have permission to do. GRR.
(to Rob) Well, we're eating without him. Dinner is ready, and his can get cold until he comes home or I go find him.
B: Hi, Mom!
A: (via text to neighbor) Never mind. He was in his room. This is me, winning at life.

L: I want babies until they do something baby-like, such as scream for no reason. Right now, Vesper makes me want a baby.
A: Give it time.

(not five minutes later)

A: Here, that should do it (showing L the poop smear on my shirt and frantically searching for a plastic bag in which to put a tiny pair of very fouled pants).
L: Aaaand I'm good!

E: Wait. What is "laying pipe?"
A: (with a knowing glance) It's a euphemism.
(muffled, through a facepalm) For sex.
M: Please don't draw a picture.

M: Do you always stick your face in food to smell it?
A: Not really. You have to kind of lick it. Just a little bit.

A: Urban Dictionary, but be careful.
S: Haha! "DICK...tionary?!"

R: Wow! You look really good!
A: Could you try to sound slightly less surprised when you say that?

A: I feel like a dirty old bird.
E: You're not old.

Friday, September 13, 2013

that's what he said

Blake is at the new school, which is about 4 blocks from our house. It's wonderful - he's biked to school every day, and if he can't bike, he can still walk and it will be FASTER than if we drove. Amazing. One of the conversations last week:

A: It's chilly. Do you need a sweatshirt?
B: Nope!
A: Really?
B: This is what living's all about, Mom: no sweatshirt whenever it's cold.

R: What did you guys learn about in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) tonight?
B: Genies. Something about genies.
R: The genealogy of Jesus?
B: That's it!

B: I don't think zombies are real. I think they are just huh-nipotized into thinking they want brains.
B: You know, when zombies want to eat your brains? I think someone huh-nipotized them.

When I correct this pronunciation of "hypnotized," he simply declares that he thinks you can say it both ways, and he likes his better. Straight outta Psych, and I am SO PROUD: "I've heard it both ways."

A: Can you take your cup over to the sink?
B: What? Oh! You mean my glass. Cups are plastic.
A: They are?
B: Yep. "Cups." Plastic. Glasses are glass. There you are, corrected by Einstein.

Friday, August 30, 2013

nothing is safe, especially my potted plants and tupperware cabinet

The new refrain now heard regularly round here: "WHERE IS SHE NOW?!"

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

safe harbor

Thanks to the generosity of a friend, we got to see a movie with Blake last week. The only one all three of us cared anything about was Despicable Me 2, and I have to say, it was not nearly as good as the first. There were charming moments, and there were upsetting moments. A major part of the story is the kidnapping of minions and injecting them with something that turns them indestructible, violent, and purple. As Blake said, repeatedly, "That was creepy. Why would they put that in a movie for kids?"

While Rob and I were getting into bed that night, Blake showed up at our bedroom door, arms full of blankets and his pillow. When he has a nightmare, he has permission to set up a pallet of blankets at the foot of our bed for the rest of the night (he used to wake me up to tell me about his nightmare and ask if he could stay in our room, and then I was often unable to get back to sleep... due to insomnia, not my own fear of the nightmare!). As Blake got situated, Rob quietly voiced his frustration with our son's over-active imagination, and that if purple minions kept him from sleeping in his own bed, then he shouldn't be permitted to watch Star Wars any more either, because Darth Vader was what used to give ROB nightmares! I sometimes agree: Blake will take any excuse to sleep in our room. He loves him a little slumber party!

But that night, God gave me a different perspective. If being near us eases our son's heart, I'll take it. I know that the time when he considers us his shelter is short and quickly coming to an end. A day is coming when he will look elsewhere for comfort or protection. A day is coming when his parents may be the last people he wants to share his fears with. A day is coming when he wouldn't be caught dead sleeping on the floor of our room. A day is coming when he won't believe that we can conquer anything. And as I whispered that to Rob, plus the fact that he's so big already, and he's only getting bigger and braver and moving further from total dependence upon us (as he should), Rob visibly softened, because he is actually a big teddy bear at heart. We held hands, and I thought about my children and my own childhood, of the nights I slept by MY parents' bed after a scary dream, and a tow-headed little boy snuggled into his nest of warmth just a few feet away, content in the knowledge that we were closer than any indestructible purple monster.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

and just like that...

So, this post by Jai was lovely to my heart today, especially with all the dancing she links to. The reminder that her kids are too full of life and joy and happiness to live in sad, cancer-world all the time was a good one. I'd be more respectful by remembering that more often and enjoying this day that's set before me!

And I just had to share the following conversation between Rob and I. We're in the midst of some pretty hard financial times, and our budget is so tight that it squeaks. So tight that it has an ugly muffin top, and I'm like "BUDGET, have some respect, no one wants to see that!"

It sucks. BUT, we're on the same team, and we're approaching this money puzzle with that in mind, and our relationship is thriving, which is wonderful.

R: Our marriage is as strong as ever, and when we're angry at each other...
A: When was the last time we were angry? I can't even remember!
R: Uh... yesterday.
A: What? When- OH. Right. (sheepish pause) But I'm not angry now, and that is what counts.
R: Wow.
A: What?! You are a lucky, lucky man.

And finally, some evidence of other children's joyful exuberance. This is over the Fourth of July, if I remember correctly.

Mason and Sawyer, stacking blocks in a very compact, precise way.

Little faces looking up, full of wonder like a cup...

... until someone set off some Black Cats, at which point they all pretended to get shot.

Ah, boys. (The spare fellow on the end is B's best friend, Gunnar.) This is what summer days are made of.

Capping off the day with a movie. Some are more interested than others.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

all quiet on the western front

I'm sorry for the radio silence - I know it's not my norm. Believe it or not, it's in an effort to be respectful. There is SO MUCH on my heart and in my mind, but getting it out in anything other than face-to-face interactions is really difficult right now. My little friend Allistaire and her mom (my slightly bigger friend) and dad and sister are on the roller-coaster ride of having the specter of cancer breathing down their necks, clutching at their wrists. A young woman I used to babysit recently lost her husband of two months in a tragic accident. Grief is all around me.

Allistaire's bone marrow transplant was successful, in that it's engrafting in her body and appearing to set up shop. They are still in cancer's grip, because there's always the possibility that it's begun to grow again, despite the transplant. Each test is an opportunity to rejoice or mourn, because each test holds the gift of life just for TODAY or the potential for the world to come crashing down... but even good results today are no guarantee of good results tomorrow.

And when my friend is facing the possibility of watching her daughter die, how can I natter on about the minutiae of what I ate, what I cleaned, whether I exercised (answer: no), or what I'm doing today on Facebook?

I'm sure I'll natter about all those things again. But right now, I just can't. Right now, I simply gaze at the highlight reel of my friends' lives and am thankful for the comparative smallness of my own problems, which still keep me up at night and twist my stomach with pangs of concern (not QUITE as sinful as worry, right?). When Blake behaves atrociously at church and makes me want to knock him into next week, I sigh, rebuke him, and hold him close to tell him how much I love him, thinking about my friend who would cut off her right arm for the promise of scolding an eight-year-old Allistaire. I think of the child I used to cuddle who is now alone in an empty marriage bed, wondering what promise her life holds. Now what, Lord?

What a God we serve, big enough to weave painful things into the glory of His plan. I've seen it in my own life. I'm now breathlessly waiting, ever prayerful, watching to see how He is working His wonders into the lives of my friends. What a blessing to have my own life bear witness to His severe mercy, to comfort others with the very comfort I've been given. What an honor to stand in the throng of believers, holding up hope that there is goodness on the other side of grief, there is joy beyond the sorrow. There is life. Abundant life, no matter what today may hold. There is Christ. Thanks be to God, there is always Christ.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

so, this happened

I left town for about five minutes and left my kids with folks (well, with my mom, really). Mom sent a few pics and videos while I was away and missing the small ones, and this came through the magic of the interwebs: (Updated for you, Marcia!)

Naturally, I requested that Mom also potty-train her before we got back.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

a little summer fun

At our start of summer at home (after skipping the last week of school to be out of the country), I made Blake clean his room. Thoroughly. His typical "clean up" routine consists of carefully arranging his LEGO creations along his sills and his dresser, as well as neatly covering every square inch of that black table you see (it's our former coffee table, but made a great flat surface for him to build on). He stacks (neatly, mind) everything else along the walls, under that black table, and along the side of his bed. Nothing is "put away" so much as it is "tidied within an inch of its life." 

I forbade that method this time, brought in plastic tubs and drawers from the garage to go into his closet, and helped him discard, group, and find places for all his little treasures. At first, he cried. 
"Summer vacation is supposed to be relaxing, and so far it's just work, work, work!"

To my credit, I held a straight face as I gently encouraged him. "Let's start on a clean slate, good footing. It's like spring cleaning, but it's summer cleaning! And think of how nice your room will be afterward. You're not in this alone, I promise. I'll help, and I'll help WITHOUT threatening to throw everything away." 

When we were done, I had him vacuum all the nooks and crannies that were suddenly in the light of day, while I dusted. He was so stinking proud of himself that he wanted me to take a picture. For you. Dead serious: "Will you take a picture of my room to put on your blog?"

You betcha.

There is a Cheerio in this picture. 

Can you find it?

Hint: Vesper actually has an innie.

This is what happens when you try to keep an infant's bedtime while in a single hotel room. It was actually MUCH darker than it looks over on her side of the room, and I was trying to stay out of her line of sight as much as possible. She was trying to keep me IN her line of sight as much as possible.

"Hey, there! What... Whatcha doin' down there? Are you SURE you don't want to play?"

We spent a weekend in Great Falls with some of big Blake's family, honoring his Aunt Judy's life. She was a woman of beauty, grace, faith, and fun, and she's sorely missed. This is Margie, Erin, and Vinnie (Judy's son, big Blake's cousin).

These two pretty much like to luxuriate in each other whenever they get to be together. It's pretty sweet.

The rest of the pics are from the hotel hallway, of course. Rob got a bunch of shots of the memorial service, but I don't have those yet. I didn't pull my camera out until we were saying goodbye. In the hotel hallway. So, you know, at least the lighting was terrible.

Grant, Judy's grandson, has been a bit of a hero for Blake from the very beginning. This trip further reinforced the admiration, because that young man is a model of kindness, patience, inclusion, and mischievous fun that Blake can get on board with.

As I was saying...

Grant & Reagan with Dan & Erin, who found out that their Calgary condo was flooding while we were together. They are still cleaning up... such a bummer.

And now... a goofy shot!

And now... photobombing! That's Grant & Reagan's mom, April, in the background. She's pretty.

Vesper was there, too! Blake's still in goofy mode!

Me and Reagan, whom you may remember from this post. This is the first time I've gotten to spend time with her, and I LOVE HER. She has a dear, rumbly low voice, and she would grab my arm just to tell me "I really like your baby." Vesper liked her right back. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

a final bunny tossing extravaganza

Poor, rejected bunny. This is the last time I will subject him to Vesper or Vesper to him. He deserves more care and affection.

"Oh, THIS again?"

"Mother, WHY?"

"I will not stand for this!"

"The bunny is technically still in this picture, but he is swiftly on his way out. I think I'm winning, MOM."

"Gimme that, I can do a better job myself."

"Bitch, please." 

"I'M THIS BIG NOW! Can we please be done?"

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

happy birthday, sweet v!

And now, the party! Grammie and Papaw came up and helped me decorate, I'd thrown some barbeque in the slow cooker and bought a cupcake for the youngest birthday girl, and Reese brought strawberry shortcake to celebrate Mom's birthday. It was loud, it was chaotic, it was perfect. We're so tickled by this sweet girl. Blake wants her to stop growing up because he's loving each stage so very much, and Rob and I couldn't agree more. What a delightful addition to our family and home and hearts!

Fun with balloons!

Grammie and Papaw gave V the suit, the hat, the pool, and we've gotten pretty good use out of all three so far. She's still not sure about sitting in the water, but our backs can't take all the assisted walking walking walking!

It's like a bath, but not. I'm outside. I'm not nekkid. WHAT IS GOING ON?!

Splashing. Ok, THIS I know.

Serious faces (Mason, Blake, B's friend Silas, Smith, Sawyer).

Silly faces.

Silly faces.

She was totally uninterested, which Blake did not understand, so he showed her how much icing there was and how tasty it could be when IN her mouth.

I've mostly destroyed this, Papaw. What is it that YOU have?

Getting the hang of it, frosting by the fistful.

And, I'm spent.

Blue-eyed beauties.