Showing posts with label kids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kids. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Banner Day!

Every now and then I get the itch to renovate.  It often strikes at very inopportune times and when it does - watch out!  My family knows that nothing is safe when I decide to start tossing things out or moving things around and they better get on board or get out of the way!

Next week I will show the before pics of my current decorating project and show you the progress along the way.

One of the easiest redos is replacing wall art.  For years I had a simple string on the wall in the kitchen with little clothespins attached.  It displayed a rotating collection of the children's artwork, snapshots, Valentines cards or whatever struck my fancy.  I took it down a while ago and replaced it with a large framed picture but I'm missing my little clothesline and I think I need to put it back again.

One of the latest trends in home decor is banners which is basically a redo of my little clothesline.  So, I have decided to show you a few cute items pulled from my shop that would make great banners and sweet additions to your home decor.  If you want to duplicate the banner look, I am happy to add a banner  kit, including vintage thumbtacks, twine and clothespins, to any purchase. 

So, take a peek and see if you can find something you like to spruce up your home sweet home!

I have always loved the look of vintage botanicals.  This is a collection of  Redoute botanical postcards.
 There are two different sets available, with eight in each set, perfect for a banner or for framing.  The best thing about these beautiful flowers is they never need watering!

I love typography and numbers (don't ask me why.)  These BINGO cards would look great marching across the border of a boys room.  These better sell fast (only $6, am I crazy?) or I will keep them myself!  There are other pieces of yellow ephemera plus some cute Raggedy Ann and Andy prints that would make cute banners in a child's room.  Think of the possibilities!

Banners are cute, but some things deserve a frame.  I recently discovered these adorable vintage children's prints.  This is one in a set of four.
They need a sweet frame to do them justice.  I know you have a Wal-Mart or Ikea in your neighborhood.  For less than $10 you can frame almost anything!  You can buy them individually, or buy the set.  They are from the 1960's and have a sweetness and innocence about them.

Whoa... this is bizarre!  I posted the picture above and thought, "why does that baby look so familiar?  Well, I was at a picnic on Friday and I took a photograph.  This was the photo that I took.

This is Maddison.  She is Cheryl and Josh's baby girl and, yes, she IS the cutest baby currently on the planet.  The resemblance to the baby in the picture from the 1960's is kind of spooky.  But Maddison is definitely cuter - and she is real - and she smells good - and has a very nice mommy and daddy.

She is mesmerizing me with her blue eyes and now I have nothing left to say.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What I Like Doing Best Is Nothing

"How do you do Nothing?" asked Pooh,  after he has wondered for a long time.
"Well, it's when people call out at you just as you're gong off to do it, What are you going to do, Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh, nothing, and then you go and do it."
"O, I see," said Pooh.
"This is a nothing sort of thing that we're doing now."
"Oh, I see," said Pooh again.
"It means just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."

I'm feeling nostalgic.

My two youngest are heading off to junior  high and high school next week.  The years of doing Nothing are behind us, even our summers are filled with doing Something, now.    It seems like yesterday that summers stretched out endlessly with lazy days spent doing...well, Nothing.

I'm not one to get caught up in sentimentality, but Winnie the Pooh was my son's favorite character from the time he was an infant and "The House At Pooh Corner" is, in my mind one of the sweetest pieces of literature ever written.  There is something about summer drawing to a close and school beginning that always reminds me of the tender words between Pooh and Christopher Robin at the end of this heartwarming book.

Christopher has spent his childhood deeply absorbed in the world of Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and his other friends in the Hundred Acre Wood.  Now the time has come for him to leave for school and enter the world of "Kings and Queens and something called Factors, and a place called Europe, and an island in the middle of the sea where no ships came, and how you make a Suction Pump (if you want to), and when Knights were Knighted, and what comes from Brazil."

Pooh Bear begins to feel left out, being a Bear of Very Little Brain, as he realizes that Christopher Robin will eventually leave him behind to enter this strange new world where he does not belong.

Every time I read this, my heart beats a little faster and I feel like shouting, "Don't go, Christopher Robin!  Stay.  Live in the Hundred Acre Wood forever."  But I know that he can't - and he shouldn't.    This is the tug and pull of growing up.

We have already been through this with our oldest child.  We survived and so did she, the growing pains of adolescence.  She is now an  adult and a beautiful young lady.  She is excited about the future looking to get married next year and start her own family.  If our children never left the Hundred Acre Wood, if they stayed with Tigger and Pooh forever, they would never grow to be mature, healthy adults.

Yet, there is something so sweet, so innocent about those days of childhood, that we long for our children to cling to them as long as they can, knowing that they will grow up soon enough.  Those early years of childhood have now passed for my precious three and oh, how I cherished every minute.  I glance back with a smile but look forward with great hope, knowing their future is bright as they place it in the Lord's hands.

The final paragraphs of Pooh and Christopher Robin's story expresses the tug of a child's heart but I think we hear more the heart of the parent/author A.A. Milne, as Christopher's childhood wanes and adolescence begins.

Then, suddenly again, Christopher Robin, who was still looking at the world, with his chin in his hands, called out "Pooh!"
"Yes?" said Pooh.
"When I'm-when--Pooh!"
"Yes, Christopher Robin?"
"I'm not going to do Nothing any  more."
"Never again?"
"Well, not so much.  They don't let you."
Pooh waited for him to go  on, but he was silent again.
"Yes, Christopher Robin?"said Pooh Helpfully.
"Pooh, when I'm-you know-when I'm not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?"
"Just Me?"
"Yes, Pooh."
"Will you be here too?"
"Yes, Pooh, I will be really. I promise I will be, Pooh."
"That's good," said Pooh.
"Pooh, promise you won't forget about me, ever.  Not even when I'm a hundred."
Pooh thought for a little.
"How old shall I be then?"
Pooh nodded.
"I promise," he said.
Still with his eyes on the world Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt for Pooh's paw.
"Pooh," said Christopher Robin earnestly, "if I-if I'm not quite--"he stopped and tried again-"Pooh, whatever happens, you will understand, won't you?"
"Understand what?"
"Oh, nothing."  He laughed and jumped to his feet.  "Come on!"
"Where?" said Pooh.
"Anywhere," said Christopher Robin.
So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way,  in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Major Crisis!

We had a crisis in our home this morning.  This was a crisis of major proportions.  Let me show you.

Don't let the label on the canister fool you.  There was no "Happiness" in our house this morning.  That lovely little canister is where the coffee is usually held, and this morning it was empty.  This was a particularly critical morning since I am suffering from a debilitating case of BH.  I'm sure you've all suffered from it before.  Some of you may be suffering from it now. and you have most likely suffered from it this summer - yes.  BH is also known as Beach Hangover. 

My girlfriends and I spent the day at Newport Beach yesterday with the kids and this morning I'm suffering from serious symptoms of BH.

-red skin from those spots where  I missed with the SPF 50.

-bloating from too much sodium (Chex Mix and Cheeseburger Flavored Doritos -really!)

-major sand rash

-sugar crash from the Sprinkles cupcakes on the way home (I know, we should have quit while we were ahead)

-parched, dry skin

-sluggishness from oversleeping this morning 'cause I just couldn't get my body to move

Okay, now I know you're not feeling sorry for me, you're just annoyed.  I'm kind of feeling the same way. It looks like I had a bit too much of a good thing in one day.  I'm not going to apologize for it.  A day filled with friends, kids, sand, sunshine, Doritos, cupcakes and fun does not come along every day and the sweet days of summer are quickly winding down.  So, this post is short.  My next chapter about My Story will have to wait. 

The back of my legs are burnt. 

I can't sit in this chair much longer. 

I'm going to get some aloe - and a cup of coffee.

Monday, August 9, 2010

LIFE Stinks

I don't like to lose.  Just ask my husband, or for that matter, just ask my son.  Okay, just take my word for it.

Yesterday we decided to play a mild-mannered friendly little board game - The Game of Life.  Remember that one?  Well, this is an updated electronic version, with Visa cards and everything.  You get your own personal credit card and every time your turn comes around, you place it in the electronic LIFEpod.  It automatically calculates your salary and LIFE points, based on spaces you land on and cards you pick.

Well, today, (and just about every other time we play) Sam ruled.  I was conservative, picked a decent career, got a degree, and sucked swamp water by the end of the game.  Seemed like every card I picked up was something about dancing.  Let's just say this...dancing and writing don't pay!

Sam picked a career in sports...yes, sports and ended up with a $2,000,000 annual salary and $9,196,000 cash.  He was laughing at, no...

...more like mocking his mother by the end.  Steve was somewhere in between.  What really killed Steve was his five babies. He was a baby-making machine!  Those babies cost him a lot of money and didn't give him enough LIFE  points to make up the difference.

I'm trying not to be a sore loser, but I've lived over 40 years (not saying how many years over,), have a lot of life experience and am relatively intelligent.  Sam, on the other hand, is twelve!  What is a twelve-year-old going to do with a three million dollar salary and a mansion?  It's just not fair.  LIFE stinks.

This was just a game, and I'm over it now getting over it now, but the fact of the matter is ...

sometimes real life stinks too.  This past week will not go down in the annals of history as "the best week ever" for me.  I was so overwhelmed that I didn't know what to write.  I was hurting, confused and struggling to make sense of it all.  I realize I'm not going to "Find a winning lottery ticket on the street +$100,000" or "Be chosen as the cover model for my favorite magazine +$500,000", but I would like to catch a break now and then.

Although the week had a lousy start, something happened on the weekend that changed my perspective.  No, it wasn't playing a game with my guys, or even the fun birthday party at the beach.  The thing that changed my perspective was this...God spoke to me.  Now, before you think, "she's really lost it - she's hearing voices!", hear me out.

I chose to worship with other believers on Sunday.  I really just wanted to stay at home, curl up with a book and a pot of coffee and hibernate.  It's hard to put on that fake plastic smile, shake hands and play the role of "good Christian", when I feel like I'm anything but "good" and I have no answers. 

Here is where that beautiful, mysterious thing called "faith" becomes real and tangible.  I cannot base my relationships (with family, friends, the church or God), upon how I am feeling or what it is that I want to do.  So, I chose community over isolation and found God there and heard His voice.

I heard it in the warm hellos from the friends that greeted me.  I heard it in the sweet words of encouragement from my dear friend Deborah.  I heard it in the beautiful worship music that spoke healing to my heart.  But most of all, I heard it in the message that my pastor gave...just for me.  I know there were a lot of other people in that room.  Some of them may have even had the mistaken notion that the message was for them.

When my pastor said the words, "He hears our heart cry, so go ahead and cry", he meant me.  When he read the words in Jeremiah 31:3, he was reading them for me.  "God told them, "I've never quit loving you and never will.  Expect love, love, and more love!"".  

Yes!  God loves me, cares about me and wants to spend time with me!  What an incredible, beautiful thought.  When I'm tired, cranky, mean, hurting, happy, loving...whatever state of mind I may be in.  I can choose to accept his love, or choose to reject it.  Today, I am choosing God's love for me,  and passing it along to you.  Accept it as the gift that it is and, in turn, share it with someone else!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

School Wars

I don't home school.

I have many friends who do.  I also have friends that have chosen unschooling, private schools, schools for the gifted, schools for the arts, religious schools and almost every other permutation imaginable.

Here's the thing that drives me up a wall!  Every single group feels that their way of schooling is IT! Any parent that chooses to educate their children differently is mislead at best and "out of God's will" at the worst.  They won't necessarily say it to your face, but when they get in the room with other like-minded parents, whoa mama!  You know it.  You have probably done it.  Heck, I've done it.  I have heard it all, the public school bashing, the home school dissing, the private school ranting.  Frankly, I'm tired of it.

I've heard all the negatives.  This is just a sampling.

- Home schooled and unschooled kids are socially awkward.  Yep!  I've met a few that are, but I've also met many more who are well-rounded, well-spoken and socially gifted.

- Public school kids will be exposed to foul language, ungodly teachers and drugs.  Yes! That may be true, but they will also learn (with their parent's guidance) to respect those they disagree with and stand up for what they believe.

- Private school kids are cliquish - Yeah, they certainly can be.  But, they can also be warm and expressive and benefit from the narrower focus of a private school or a Bible-based education.

Parenting is hard work and often just plain overwhelming.  What is best for you, may not be best for me and my kids.  I love the variety and the diversity of options available, but sometimes it's really hard to know if you are making the right decision for each child and their unique talents, abilities and disabilities.

A few year's back, we placed our son in a gifted program that turned out to be a terrible fit for him.  While he was there, I met other parents who struggled with the same problems and concerns.  We tried and tried to work with the teacher and the administration, but they were immovable, so...we returned our son back to his old school.  Other parents in the program, who voiced the same concerns we did, chose to leave their children in a situation that clearly didn't fit them, just so they could say their child was in a gifted program.

It is clear now, with his recent diagnosis of Asperger's, why that school didn't work, but we didn't have all the information then and made the best decision we could at that time. Upon his return to his original school, he was warmly welcomed and, with a lot of give and take between us, the teachers and the administrators, he received the help he needed.

In my 27 years of parenting, I've dealt with private Christian schools, public schools, and GATE (gifted) schools.  I have tried most of the schooling options out there.  So, where are my children now?  Our oldest graduated from a private Christian college after spending the majority of her years in public schools.  Presently, our two youngest are also in public school, one heading into junior high and the other entering high school next year.  This is what we feel is the best option for them at this time.  My kids have had amazing teachers and some, well, not-so-amazing teachers.  They have won awards and struggled in classes.  They have made friends and lost friends.  We have guided them through all the ups and downs of a public school education.

Like I said earlier, we have tried most of the options available, except for home schooling.  I have many friends that do, but it's just not a good fit for us.  There are several reasons why I choose to send my children 'into the fray' of the public school system.  You can judge me as a good mom, or a bad mom, I really don't care.  I didn't just fall off the back of the turnip truck.  I can handle critics.

Here are my top five reasons that I have not chosen to home school (please observe the tongue in my cheek!)
  1. I really don't like my kids enough to be with them all, really...I mean it...okay, just kidding.  But, I do have to admit, when I wave goodbye at the door or at the curb, I breathe a sweet sigh.
  2. I have paid my tax dollars and I don't want it to go to waste on somebody else's kids.
  3. I love my children, and I truly want the best for them and frankly, I'm not always the best for them.
  4. The cast of characters that they meet, is great fodder for their budding careers as playwrights and novelists. 
  5. I do not want my children to be smarter than I am.  "If publik skool was gud enuf for me, it's good enuf for them."
Okay, those may not be the real reasons we send our kids to public school.  The fact is, we have lived in school districts with some top-notch schools that our kids have been privileged to attend.  We have been blessed to have teachers and administrators that have loved, taught and cared for our children with incredible attention and integrity.  While I have battled illness, I have had adults rooting and advocating for my children.  For that, I thank God.

So, I am laying down the gauntlet. and issuing a challenge to all parents.  The next time you are tempted to criticize or scorn someone else and the choices they have made for their children, why not encourage them instead?  Find someone who is not like-minded and share the things you have learned or are learning from your own unique experience.  We will accomplish so much more with mutual encouragment and prayer than could ever be gained through criticism and disdain.

Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
James 3:16

Monday, July 26, 2010


We had a few overnight guests last Friday.  It has been a while since my kids were toddlers and it is amazing how much excitement three little people can bring to a home.

Our daughter offered to host a sleepover for her nieces and nephew-to-be so their mom could enjoy a night out and a peaceful night's sleep.

Lauren, Asia and Kahlil livened up our house with their questions, chatter, chasing the dog, chatter, endless energy and did I mention chatter?  It was a delight having them over.

We had plenty of toy options for them to play with but the three things that entertained them the most were (in order of importance)

1.  the dog

2.  a magnifying glass

3.  Ashley's Pilates ball

I forgot that there was a time  in my own children's lives when a cardboard box would create endless hours of amusement.

One of the funniest moments came when Lauren had something that her big sister Asia wanted.  Asia approached her and in a sing-song voice said, "Sweetie! That's dangerous.  Give it to me."  Lauren frowned and clutched it closer.  Undaunted, Asia grabbed her in a death-grip and repeated, sweeter than ever, "Sweetie!  It's dangerous.  Give it to me."  So cunning and charming at the same time.  I like this girl!

I wanted to get a group picture of everyone there.  Let's just say, it took a while.  Here are my attempts.

There's that darned Pilates ball!
I got one!
Not quite...
Keep smiling Steve.  We'll get there eventually!

It's been a while since I mentioned my personal heroes, so today I want to honor a group of people who are heroic in my eyes.  To Hosanna, the beautiful mother of these three children, and all the other tireless single parents out there.  You attempt the impossible every day.  May you find friends who support you, strength for the task and the grace to forgive yourself when you stumble (as all parents do)!

"Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out."
Ephesians 6:13-18

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Aspies and Wookiees

This is me with my boy.

He is my #1 fan (he wanted you to know this).   He is also funny and smart - voted Most Likely to Become President, say what!?

Did I mention, he is sweet, handsome and has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and ADHD?  Yes, if you are wondering, I did ask him if it was okay to share this with you.  He said, "Sure mom, thanks for asking!" (That's my boy!)

This is the definition of Asperger's, according to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.

Asperger's syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects a child's ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others. Children with Asperger's syndrome typically exhibit social awkwardness and an all-absorbing interest in specific topics. 

Doctors group Asperger's syndrome with other conditions that are called autistic spectrum disorders or pervasive developmental disorders. These disorders all involve problems with social skills and communication. Asperger's syndrome is generally thought to be at the milder end of this spectrum. 

Sam is definitely on the milder end of the spectrum.  He looks like every other 12-year-old boy (except he's cuter!)  But those who know him best, his teachers and family, are aware of his 'Aspies' tendencies that can often cause frustration, confusion and affect his relationships, as well as his performance in school.  This diagnosis will allow us to access all of the incredible resources and programs that are now available for kids just like him.

The 'all-absorbing interest in specific topics' for my boy at this time is Star Wars.  Here he is as the evil Darth Vader, with his friend Iron Man.

His hero is George Lucas.  He reads about Star Wars, talks about Star Wars, watches Star Wars and, I would guess, dreams about Wookiees and clone troopers. Thanks to Uncle Gary, he has an endless supply of Star Wars tshirts.

When he grows up, he wants to be a director, like George Lucas.  He also has another obsession - LEGO.  Star Wars + LEGO = perfection!  While these obsessions can, at times drive older sisters (and parents) crazy, it is this single-mindedness that can allow Aspies to become experts in their field of choice.  Now, we just have to figure out how to meet up with George Lucas!

Another common issue with Aspie's is extreme food selectivity.  Much of this is due to sensory issues.  This is certainly the case with our boy.  Because of this, we were referred to a nutritionist, to help us deal with his food sensitivity and broaden his food palate.

We just went this week and it was a very informative visit.  I know that many of you have children on the spectrum, dealing with these very same issues.  So, I thought I would pass along some of the advice the nutritionist gave us.

In a nutshell, these are the foods that research has shown, should be avoided
~ synthetic food additives ~ MSG, artifical sweeteners, flavors and coloring
~ pesticides (organic whenever possible)
~ refined sugar
~ trans fats
This is one that the nutritionist says is especially critical, something about EPA/DHA and brain synapse.  I'm still trying to understand it.

The following are critical for brain health
~ a well-rounded diet with sufficient protein, carbs and fat
~ proper nutritional supplements
~ water
~ Omega-3 fatty acid supplement

Amazing, isn't it, how fat has gotten such a bad rap.  It is vital, in the proper forms, for the maintenance of normal brain function.

The nutritionist also gave us some great mealtime strategies and steps to introduce new foods into his diet.  I won't share them here, but I would be happy to pass them along, if you are interested.  I feel a bit overwhelmed with all that I have learned and so I am taking a deep breath and focusing on one thing at a time.

Obviously, I am not a doctor, I don't even play one on tv.  If you have used some of these tips for yourself or your own child and can confirm or deny their effectiveness, I would love to hear from you.  Starting tomorrow, we will begin gradually implementing these strategies.  We'll let you know how well it works!  This is a new journey for us, the wonderful world of Asperger's - and I look forward to connecting with others that are on this journey.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Gift of Pain - Chapter 2

It is amazing to me that, as soon as I decide to share my story and the lessons I have learned, I find myself again battling pain.  The past three days have been low.  I have even debated whether or not I should continue telling my story.  There isn't a neat and tidy bow to tie at the end.  After a few days of soul-searching I have decided to continue - so, here it is.  I am a work in progress.

Years of uncertainty about my health led to a crisis and made me determined to get to the bottom of my health issues. After a terrifying incident behind the wheel of our car, I vowed to find the answers I needed. I told Steve that I would not drive again, until a doctor could tell me what was wrong. Little did I know, when I uttered those words, that it would be over four years before I would get back behind the wheel of a car.

The day after the frightening episode in the car, I showed up at the doctor’s office without an appointment, and insisted that I needed to see someone immediately. After some time I finally got in to see the doctor. I related to him how I was feeling and the specifics of my incident the day before. He asked me, “Do you ever space out and lose track of time?” “No!” I said, annoyed at him for asking me. “Yes, she does” Steve responded. I looked at him in disbelief. “I do not!”

Steve insisted that I did. I looked at the doctor, then back at Steve, hurt by what he was saying. “Why did you never mention this before?”  “I didn’t want to make you feel bad” was his response. I sat there, dumbfounded, as the doctor questioned Steve further. He asked him what my behavior was like when these incidents occurred, how often it happened and for how long. After speaking for a few more minutes, the doctor turned and looked at me. “Karen, I believe you are having seizures. You cannot drive anymore until you see a neurologist. I will make a referral right away.”

The impact of his words hit me like a punch to the face. I looked out the window and, watching the cars drive by, thought, “This can’t be happening to me. What is going on? What does this mean? How will I survive without driving?” The rest of his words were a blur. We walked out of his office and I wept the whole way home.

For the next several months, my life was an unending series of tests and doctor’s visits – EKGs, EEGs, CAT scans, SPECT scans and more. I was diagnosed with epilepsy and my license was suspended. They said I was experiencing partial complex seizures.  The neurons in my brain were misfiring.

The seizures increased in frequency and intensity. My health deteriorated rapidly and before long, I could no longer hold down a job, drive a car or care properly for my family. I was afraid to leave the house, for fear of having a seizure in public.

To the untrained eye, my seizures were not obvious. I could sense when they were coming as the left side of my face and body would grow numb and tingle. If I immediately lay down, the seizures were short and less intense, but the more stressed, hungry or tired I was, the more intense my seizures would become. I would lay my head down, or lean back in my chair and feel this sensation come over me. I could barely move, couldn’t speak and would wait for it to pass.

Shortly after my seizures began, I had another health scare.

One day, while visiting my sister, I was gripped so strongly with pain that I couldn’t stand and could hardly speak. I had suffered with this pain before but not with this intensity. My sister raced me to the emergency room. The ob/gyn doctor on call that day was one of the top doctors in his field. After examining me, he informed me that I needed a hysterectomy and I had to have it as soon as possible.

Because of my symptoms and the length of time I had them, he was concerned that the large tumor within me might be advanced ovarian cancer. Within 24 hours they had me scheduled for surgery. I lay there, prepped for surgery. A doctor I had never met before walked into the room and introduced himself to Steve and me. He smiled and said he was the oncologist and was on hand “just in case”.  Worst-case scenarios reeled through my mind.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.
Psalm 22:12 (MSG)

What a flood of relief, when I woke up in the recovery room and saw a huge smile on Steve’s face. “You’re fine. The tumor was benign,” he said. They had also performed an appendectomy as my appendix appeared as though it was about to rupture.

I wept with relief.

In the meantime, my seizures continued. They didn’t last long, but the impact was incredible. Following a seizure I would feel exhausted, like I had run a marathon, and often felt very emotional. Because I was unable to drive, I had to ask for rides to the doctors or the store. Family and friends became my taxi service. The helplessness of my situation overwhelmed me. Looking back on it now, I realize how selflessly these loved ones cared for me – driving me, helping with the kids, cooking meals, praying and just being there. I am humbled when I think of their generosity and love.

There is one particular incident that sent me plummeting into despair. I was lying on the sofa when I felt a seizure coming on. My son (only four years old at the time) came in the room as I lay there. He called my name repeatedly and tugged at me to respond. I could hear him, but could not speak. My six-year-old daughter came behind him.

“Mommy’s not answering me", Sam told her. A few seconds passed. Rachel called my name. When I didn’t respond, I heard her turn to her brother and say, “I think she’s dead”. They both climbed on top of me and sat silently. Slowly, I recovered and reached up, pulling them close to me. I lay there and wept - utterly helpless to comfort them. I couldn’t bear to see the fear in my children’s eyes and wondered if God had abandoned me in my despair.

It would take some time for me to discover the truth. God was holding my hand through this journey, but the journey wasn’t over yet.  I would need to grip his hand firmly.

In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
Psalm 18:6

Friday, June 25, 2010

Personal Heroes - Chapter 4

My hero today is an incredible young lady.  I know once you read her story you will fall in love with her as I have.  The first two things you notice about her are her height (tall, like me!) and her fabulous smile.  I met her when she was a teenager and have watched her grow and blossom into an incredible young woman with a deep compassion for the poor and the abandoned in the country of Romania.

These are the facts - in 2005

~ 4000 babies were abandoned at birth in maternity wards in Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine
~ another 5000 babies were abandoned in pediatric wards
(Unicef Romanias 2005 report)
~ in 2009 those living in poverty increased from 369,000 to 1.59 million.  351,000 of these are children.

These numbers are staggering and I find it hard to wrap my mind around what this truly means and how it must impact a whole society.  Most of us hear figures like this, see a picture that tugs at our hearts and feel a moment or two of heartache but then we move on.

When Raegan Glugosh was faced with the impact of this poverty and abandonment, she could not move on.  In 1996, Raegan, an RN licensed in California, went on a short term missions trip to Romania.  God stirred her heart to minister to the needs of the forgotten children and become his hands and feet extended to these hurting souls.

In 1998 she moved to Romania permanently, leaving behind the affluence and comfort of Orange County and trading it for the challenges of daily life in a developing country.  Out of this obedience was birthed the ministry Touched  Romania, continuing today in a children's cancer hospital and facilities for abandoned babies throughout the city of Bucharest.

In 2006, the ministry expanded to include Hagar Home maternal center for the prevention of baby abandonment.  This aspect of the ministry empowers and disciples women in all areas of their life.  As a result, they have seen a decrease in abandonment by dealing with the source of the problem, working with mothers and families.

God has placed it on the hearts of Raegan and the staff at Touched Romania to become a voice for young mothers.  These single mothers have no government assistance in a society that requires little accountability from the biological fathers.  By working in the areas of advocacy and lobbying within the Romanian government, their plan, with God's help, is to effect a change in Romanian society.  Wow!  What an incredible goal.

This is the challenge that is facing Raegan and her team.  Touched Romania has an individual in mind to fill the position of lobbyist/activist.  They need funding to assist paying this extra salary.  If your heart has been stirred by the plight of these women and children, please consider giving toward this worthy cause.

   'I was hungry and you fed me,
   I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
   I was homeless and you gave me a room,
   I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
   I was sick and you stopped to visit,
   I was in prison and you came to me.'

  "Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.' 
Matthew 25:35-40 (MSG)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Baby Talk

I was never a baby person.  You know the type.  They can smell a baby from the other room.  They make a beeline to any new mom or stroller that they see, begging to hold the little bundle of joy and generally making a fuss.  You know who you are (Amie, Jodi and Donna!) and I know you can't help it.  There is that strong maternal instinct that just goes out of control whenever an infant is near.

I was never like that.  In fact, as a young person I didn't babysit or hardly look at babies.  I would make the required complimentary remarks about people's progeny but you wouldn't ask me to teach or help in the nursery!  I began to wonder if I had that maternal instinct at all.

A single event changed all that over 27 years ago.  I had a baby.  All of a sudden, my world was turned upside down.  I was not prepared in any way.  I hadn't even changed a diaper and had to have the nurse teach me before I left the hospital.  I was overwhelmed, at first.  The lack of sleep, lack of training and constant neediness of my little girl left me exhausted and wondering, "what have I gotten myself into?".  But gradually, she slept through the night, sat up, crawled, walked, and continued to grow into a little person and I realized something one day.  I was smitten.

I never imagined the ways motherhood would change my life - for the better.  I wouldn't trade being a mom for anything.  But there were times, when I was younger that I would ponder, "Is this it?  Is this the only contribution I will make with my life?  Feeding kids, doing laundry, juggling work and school and sports and..."  Now, I realize there is no better contribution I can make to the world than having the opportunity to pour myself into the lives that have been entrusted in my care.

As the years wore on, I prayed for God to remove the desire from heart for more children, but it remained and, if anything, grew stronger as my friends had more babies and I was surrounded by a boatload of nieces and nephews (who I adore).  Thirteen years passed before we were blessed with another baby girl.  Two years after that, our son was born.  What joy!

As a mother of three, I have applauded loudly at their accomplishments, fallen to my knees through their struggles and been amazed every step of the way, to seem them grow, rise to the challenges and blossom into their own unique persons.  Our oldest is now an adult and next year will marry and start a family of her own, but she will always be my baby girl, the one that broke me in!

As I continue daily, to pray for my children, for their safety, their future, their many needs, I am confident that whether or not I do everything 'right' (and let me tell you, I certainly don't), that their Heavenly Father is watching out for them and cares for them more than I could possibly imagine.  What a comfort.

So, I'm a convert.  I am now a baby person.  I marvel every time I see a sweet little cherub with all their incredible potential, and thank God for the three he sent to our family.

   God's love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him, 
   Making everything right for them and their children as they follow his Covenant ways and remember to do whatever he said.
Psalm 103:17,18 (MSG)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I love the website The Bright Side Project.  They highlight beautiful finds from around the web as well as artists and bloggers.  The best part is they give away something free every day.  How fun is that?  In order to win, you have to ask a question posed by the highlighted contributor.  Lately, it seems as though the questions have all been about summer memories, "What is your best childhood summer memory?" or "What smells and sounds remind you of summer?"  It got me thinking and reminiscing about my earliest childhood summer memories.

I spent the first 14 years of my life in Canada, living in and around the Toronto area.  Anyone that has ever lived in a cold-weather climate knows that summer is anticipated and celebrated with great gusto.  Living in southern California, summer is appreciated but not the way it is in the northern climes.  We would count down the days to the end of school (what kid doesn't?) and look forward to shedding sweaters, jackets, boots and shoes in favor of barefeet or flip-flops and a bathing suit or a pair of shorts.

We were fortunate to have a cottage outside the city that we could escape to every year.  It was located on the lake shore in a church camp community near the town of Cobourg.  We could count on seeing the same familiar faces there year in and year out.  When Kid's camp wasn't on, our days were spent riding our bikes down the gravel roads, playing with our summer friends, throwing rocks in the lake, betting who could make theirs skip the furthest and hanging out at the beach.  The campground was self-contained with only one road in and mom wouldn't expect to see us all day, unless we were hungry or wanted some money to buy a bag of candy at the tuck shop.

I remember how much more relaxed my mother was in this environment.  With most of the dads coming to the cottage when they could escape work in the city for a few days here and there, it was primarily kids and moms whiling away the lazy days.  I loved seeing my beautiful tanned mom, relaxing and laughing with her friends in the sunshine.  We would wander up and down the beach between the clusters of kids and women, begging money for a popsicle, building sand castles, and splashing in the waves.  Hours were spent on the swings, pumping our legs as hard as we could, trying to touch the sky and jumping into the hot sand.

Back in those days, we still dressed up for church, so after a long day running down tar-covered roads and rolling in the sand, we would clean up (or at least wash off our feet), brush out our hair and dress up in our bright cotton dresses.  I had a friend or two that I would meet along the way and we would skip our way to the evening kid's service.

There were always contests (boys against the girls) with puppets, songs, games and more.  The converted barn was set up for the children's services and we would sit on the old wooden folding chairs with the fans whirring above us in the musty air.  Sometimes we spied a mouse crawling along one of the rafters and would squeal with horror.  We fidgeted and squirmed, carving our names into the arms of the chairs and passing notes to each other, whispering about the cute boy two rows up.  After the sun set, nice and late in the summer, we would catch fireflies and roast marshmallows over bonfires in the backyard.  If you wandered around long enough you were sure to find a backyard party at somebody's cottage.

When the strawberries were in season, mom would pull out her jars and the big jam pot and spend a day, cutting, mashing, cooking and canning the delicious strawberry jam.  Our favorite part was the pink, foamy bubbles that would boil to the surface.  We would argue over who got the first taste of this creamy treat on a piece of bread.

The other summertime treat we anticipated was the first sweet corn of the season.  Mom would banish us to the back steps with a bag and a bowl where we would shuck the corn.  There was a big slab of butter on the middle of the picnic table and plenty of napkins to go around.  We slathered the corn with the creamy yellow butter, salted generously and gobbled up the delicious corn while the butter dripped off our chins.

When dad was around, he would fire up the backyard barbecue and, as master of the grill, perfect the art of the ultimate burger.  Up and down the backyards, the smell of charcoal and lighter fluid permeated the air.

The only hitch in our summer activities were rainy days, which I'm sure every mother dreaded.  Those were Monopoly days.  We would have friends over or, if mom managed to scoot us out of the house, knock on someone else's door and set up the board for an epic game, sometimes lasting for hours.  But eventually, even with the rain, we would make our way outside, splashing in the puddles with our  rubber rain boots, twirling around with our umbrellas and floating homemade boats down the streams that ran down the roadsides.  After the rain would stop, the humidity level would be high and we could smell the damp grass and earthworms.

It was one of the saddest days of the year when we would pack up our summer things, pile them into the car, close up the cottage and wave goodbye to our summer friends to head back into the city.  But we knew that next year they would be back, a little taller and ready for more summer adventures.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

School's Out!

The last couple weeks have been an onslaught of parties, promotions, picnics and more!  We have packed more socializing into the last month than we do the rest of the year.

Today our sweet daughter was promoted out of junior high.  No more uniforms - hooray!  She is off to yet another party this evening.  Oh, the sweet days of youth!

I am SO glad that summer is here and with it a more relaxed schedule.  Why is it I hate making school lunches so much?  It is one of my least favorite chores and I 'm determined that by next fall, I will relinquish that task to my now-promoted children.

We are looking for cheap and easy ways to fill our summer days, the beach being #1 on our hit list.  Let's place bets on how long it will be til one of the kids says "I'm bored."  I'm betting it's before the weekend arrives.

I've also decided that this will be a good time to ignore child labor laws and put my kids to work on some things around the house.  I'll fill you in on how that goes!

Congrats Zack and Sam, moving on to junior high!  Congrats Rachel and Jacob, leaving junior high behind!  Congrats to Norb and Jonny, celebrating birthdays today!

Sorry this is short and sweet today, but I gotta go frost a cake - chocolate, yum!

I am working on a posting about another personal hero.  This young lady is amazing and you will want to hear her story.  Check back tomorrow to read it.

May our sons flourish in their youth like well-nurtured plants.  May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace.
Psalm 144:12 NLT

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Today is my last day as the mother of a child in elementary school.  Our son was promoted from the 6th grade so next year it's on to junior high.

As well, our youngest daughter is being promoted from the 8th grade and going on to high school tomorrow.

To top things off, our oldest is engaged, so in approximately a year, I will be the mother of a married woman!  I'm feeling very sentimental.

Where did the time go?  It makes my head spin.  I remember when I first became a mom, with all the sleepless nights trying to settle a crying baby thinking "will I ever sleep again?"  "When will she sleep through the night?"  Then it was "when will she walk on her own?"  "When will..."

Now we have three, all walking, talking (a lot) and sleeping (sometimes).  They are all  beautiful individuals with their own unique personalities and gifts.  What a privilege and blessing to be their mom.  To take part in the molding of their characters, with God's help and grace.

I have certainly not done everything right.  I make my fair share of mistakes (and someone else's share too), but I know that after we have done our best, we leave them in our heavenly Father's care.  What a relief.

So, come with me on a trip down memory lane, as we send our children into the next exciting phases of their lives.  I'm taking a tissue with me on this trip.  I'm gonna need it!

 Our beautiful firstborn and only child for 13 years- what a delight!

 Our miracle baby - another beautiful blue-eyed girl - so sweet!

 "I have fathered a man-child!" Dad's words upon hearing we were having a boy.

Time passes and they are no longer toddlers!

Growing more beautiful with every passing year

A radiant Halloween gypsy

May the Force be with you, young Skywalker.

Truly my joy and delight, but we're not done yet!

Our baby went and fell in love - now they have a ring and a date!

We are truly blessed!

For I will pour water on the thirsty ground
   and send streams coursing through the parched earth.
I will pour my Spirit into your descendants
   and my blessing on your children.
They shall sprout like grass on the prairie,
   like willows alongside creeks.
This one will say, 'I am God's,'
   and another will go by the name Jacob;
That one will write on his hand 'God's property'—
   and be proud to be called Israel." 

Isaiah 44:3 NLT