Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Blog

It's finally happened. I've moved to a new blog. You can check out why here. :)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Many Small Children, pt. 2

In my last post, I was focused on the overwhelming, all-consuming, demanding parts of being a mom of small kids. Every word of that post is true, and I would say that most days I would love to have someone help me in one of the ways I listed. However, since posting that I have been struck by the many incredible gifts of this time with little ones underfoot. I am praying that I will focus more and more on these gifts and less and less on the interruptions, inconveniences, and frustrations.

Here are a few of the gifts that I know won't last forever:
A little guy who wants to dress in costume for days to do everything:

The sheer joy of being able to climb onto a stool

 When they share their snacks:

  The being able to sleep ANYWHERE:

Or thinking it's funny to sleep on the snow:

The imagination:
Here he's saying, "Dino, please don't eat my sunglasses!" and then, "Thanks, Dino!"

and here he's "going to school" (obviously!)

The fun of "peek-a-boo!"

and of course, the snuggles

Obviously, I could go on...there's the silly voices, the mispronounced words, naptimes, etc...but I think you get the point. I'm truly thankful for each of my four kiddos and the various stages that they're in right now. Each stage, like each child, has it's challenges, but overall, there is much to enjoy about each one. I'm praying that God will give me the eyes to see the gifts in the moments that aren't what I would plan or that interrupt my schedule. That He would give me the grace for each moment, and the love that each kid needs, that they might be drawn to Him more and more each day. 

*Disclaimer, lest anyone think I'm too idealistic, I recognize that there will be moments of cleaning up poop, crying over spilled milk (literally and figuratively), frustation when shoes can't be found and we're late AGAIN. I'm just trying to remind myself that there are frustrations in every phase of life, and try to remember the truly special things that are surrounding me each day.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Many Small Children

A friend was just saying to me that before their fourth child was added to their family, she kept hearing moms say that going from 3 to 4 kids was not a big deal. They would say things like, "what's one more?" She and I both shook our heads knowingly at each other. I think at that point I said something like, "One more is a big deal!" And she wholeheartedly agreed. I think any mama with a little one or two has their hands full.

I'm not looking for sympathy here. I realize that we decided to have these children, and we truly do see them as a blessing from the Lord. And I believe that He gives me the grace that I need each day to figure out how to balance it all the best I can. However, I am partially writing this to hold myself accountable later. I want to remember that moms of small children need HELP. That little four letter word help can mean a whole lot of different things. Here are some things that I think it could mean that might apply in this case:

A drink (alcoholic or Starbucks-depending on the mama and possibly the time of day) 
A hot meal (that's kid friendly if it's for the entire family, or not if it's a specific meal for the mom herself)
A visit (with no judgement to the state of her house or her appearance)
A night out (with her hubby or with the girls)
An hour of peace and quiet
A gift card for pizza
A note of encouragement
A phone call (with the understanding that she might be interrupted numerous times by the afforementioned kids)
An hour with a shrink (just kidding...well, mostly!) 

This list is definitely not all inclusive. Chime in with some of you suggestions. 

Three quick things before I sign off:
Another thing I want to remember is to volunteer in the nursery or as a Sunday school teacher when my kids are older. My hubs and I often talk about how the people with no small children that volunteer in the nursery at our church are such a blessing to those of us who really could use the break on Sunday morning, and we want to return the favor when our littles are not so little.

A friend shared the following verse with me: "Be strong and courageous, for the LORD you God will be with you wherever you go!" I love applying that verse to us mom, deep in the trenches of mothering little ones, instead of relegating it only to the old testament saints in battle.

And lastly if you're looking for a laugh about having four kids you must watch Jim Gaffigan's sketch with that title on YouTube.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Gifts and the Giver

This morning when my husband prayed with me before he left for work, he prayed something that has been lingering with me all day. He prayed that we might be thankful for all the gifts that God has given us-family, jobs, warm house, etc-but that we might be in love with the giver regardless of the gifts. This was on the heels of texting with someone whose baby is in the NICU and doesn't feel like her gift is fair. *She actually told me that she's done being a mom, it's too hard. Thinking of her and remembering back to my own baby in the NICU just over a year ago, I really wanted to think about loving the Giver and not just loving His "good" gifts.

What is "good"?
I think that our perspective is tainted. I believe that when sin entered the world back in the garden we all lost the ability to see things how God does. Now we see things through a self-focused lens and lose sight of the eternal so easily. I remember right after my brother, Joe, died thinking, "If this is you loving me perfectly, I'm not sure I want your perfect love." I believe that it's good to be honest about these questions. This world is painful and hard. What we do with that pain and heartache is the question and makes all the difference. The Bible says in Romans, "we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." If I keep this in mind, that all things are working together for good, then I can have confidence in the midst of the painful. We might not always see the good or feel very good, but we can always trust that He is good. He says so in His Word. He is unchanging, so even if our circumstances change, we can trust that He will not.

Loving the Giver of the Gifts
When my husband said that during our prayer time, I immediately thought about times when he has given me gifts that were less than what I had hoped for or expected. My husband is a pretty good gift giver, but occasionally he misses the mark a little. For my thirtieth birthday, I was kind of hoping for a surprise party or at least a big deal to be made, but he got me a new Bible and tickets to a concert. Not terrible gifts by any means, but he hadn't realized that I had recently bought myself a pocket-sized Bible. I definitely don't mean to speak poorly of my husband, but it illustrates my point well. Here's the thing, as much as my husband loves me, I know that God loves me more. When my husband gives me a gift, it is thought out in his finite mind and even when he gives me something that isn't my most favorite, I still love him just for thinking of me. How much more praise and thanks and gratitude then should I give to God, who in His infinite power, wisdom and resources, gives me things that don't seem "perfect" or "good" to my finite mind. He loves me perfectly and I can trust in Him.

So as Christmas gets packed back up, remember the One who gave the perfect gift of His Son. When you start to question how good some of the other gifts are in your life, remember that the lens you're looking through is stained with sin and ask Him to give you His eyes to see. Then thank Him for loving you perfectly.

One last disclaimer, this is not an area that I have mastered. Lest you think I walk around shouting praises and thanks in the midst of my four sick kids, I am praying as I type this, for the words to sink in deep to my heart. Praying that I would stop trying to do this life on my own, in my own strength because I think my good might just be better than His. Praying that I would hunger for His Word and His pleasure, not for acceptance and affirmation from those around me. Pleading with Him to be gentle with me as I see more of my own sin and let Him chip it away. And lastly, praying that these words might encourage someone else, that we all might remember that He is good and His love is perfect.

1 John 4:18, "There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear." 

*Before you get too concerned, she has loving family surrounding her, who are looking into postpartum depression and are, as I did, pointing her to her Heavenly Father. If you feel so led, please pray for my friend, that she might turn to the Lord and not from Him during this time. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Various Gross Family Maladies

In our Sunday school class this past week, as we shared prayer requests and concerns with each other before praying together, my friends laughed as I updated them on some of our family's various health issues. We typically list the requests on the board and then volunteer to pray for one another aloud. I love our class. There is a great combination of encouragement, challenging one another, and laughter. My title comes from our class. It was what was written on the board for our family. We all had a good laugh about it and decided it was good that he included the word family, otherwise it would have said "various gross maladies"-ha! 

It's that time of year. Yep, it's cold and flu season. You might have already suffered through it this winter, or maybe you're still living in fear, or perhaps you've gotten the vaccine and feel confident that you won't be hit this time around. Being an optimist, I usually begin each flu season hopeful that we'll avoid it this time. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's rewind a bit to the week before Christmas. But first a little disclaimer: I recognize that there are many out there with far worse health issues than my little crew and do not mean to make too much of our various sicknesses, I just figured it might give you all a good laugh. Currently, it makes me want to either laugh or cry, but I'm assuming in time I'll look back at this post and laugh.

The week before Christmas my oldest, Jon, comes to me with a sore thumb. Yes, this story begins with a sore thumb, but hang with me, it gets better. Jon is a nail-biter and often gets sore cuticles, so I told him to let me know if it got worse. The next day Sam, who is 6, comes to me and says his thumb is sore. See, two sore thumbs, I told you it would get better! His looked more red than Jon's, so we put a bandaid with some neosporin on it. The next day when checking Sam's thumb, I asked Jon to show me his again. Yikes. His thumb had gotten worse. He had what looked like a pocket of puss next to his thumb nail, so I sterilized a pin and popped the blister, then put a bandaid with some neosporin on it. The next day both boys thumbs were looking better. I was feeling pretty good about my nursing abilities. (my degree is in Elementary Education, but most teachers and all moms pick up a little medical training along the way, right?)

The timeline gets a little blurry at this point. We had family staying with us on and off for 8 days, but in that time Sam's thumb did the same thing as Jon's with the puss, so I performed the same procedure on his thumb. A day or two later, Jon's thumb is starting to look worse again, so I turn to my trusty friend, WebMD. Although WebMD often scares me into action, this time I read the tips about cleaning the infected fingernail area by soaking it in warm water for 10-20 minutes and decided to try that route.

While both boys were soaking their thumbs, their little brother, Will, was fussy and whiny and had not slept through the night in over a week. He would wake up crying and be inconsolable. Finally, on the Saturday after Christmas I finally get him to tell me that his ear hurts. I call the doctor on call, who thankfully was our doctor, and he trusted me enough to call in a prescription for amoxicillin. (Will had LOTS of ear infections when he was a baby and was very close to getting tubes and then didn't have one for a year!)

New Year's Eve arrives, and we were heading up to the Cleveland area to spend a few days with family and having our last Christmas celebration. That morning, Jon complains that his throat hurts, but we don't think too much of it. By that evening, he was super lethargic and wanted only to lay on the couch. He had a fever and didn't want to eat anything. By the next night, Maggie and Sam both had fevers as well. Maggie seemed to perk right back up the next day, but Sam was wiped out. We came home on Thursday and when both boys either slept or were passed out on the couch most of the day, it was decided that they needed to see the doctor.

This past Friday, as we waited for the doctor to see us, I snapped these shots. The boys were so pathetic. They just laid on the table half-asleep while we waited. When she came in, I told her my suspicion of strep throat and she nodded and proceeded to check them out. "Their throats aren't too bad, hmm..." Then she happened to see Sam's thumb, "What is going on with your thumb, buddy?" Then I told her to check out Jon's, his was worse. "Oh, my!" she said, "they both need to be on antibiotics for those thumbs, yikes!" She went on to tell me that the fevers and sore throats could be strep or a virus, but she wanted to get them on something for their thumbs quickly. Oops!

Maggie didn't want to be left out of this story. Sunday the boys were both doing much better, but Maggie had been coughing, so Pete kept her home from church. She was really fussy, but never had a fever again. At that brings us to yesterday.
(Notice her dark circles-although she never got as bad as her brothers, he wasn't quite right for sure)
Yesterday, I went to change Will's diaper--yes, he's three and still in diapers, I do plan to potty train him someday, but for now, in his words, "I like my diapers!"--and noticed that he had bumps all over his tummy and a few on his legs. I quickly called Pete and then my friend, and go-to-Pediatric-Nurse-Practioner, Bethanie, and asked her advice. Bethanie echoed what Pete had suggested, that he was probably having a reaction to his antibiotics. Apparently having an allergic reaction to a drug is not limited to the first time you have it or the first day or so of taking it. Today we visited the pediatrician again and found out that both ears are still infected and he is having an allergic reaction, probably to the amoxicillin, so he's been switched to Zithromax. 

And with that, we've had a random virus, two infected ears, two infected thumbs and an allergic reaction to amoxicillin in the past two weeks. At least we haven't missed much since everything is shut down due to the "polar vortex." Hope this finds you with less visits to the doctor for your family and more snuggling and keeping warm inspite of the cold!