Monday, August 22, 2016

Fail... Lesson learned.

Last spring I spent the day with my boys, Mom, sister, and her two girls.  I ended the day with a very sore back that lasted for months, three months to be exact before I finally talked with my doctor.  After an x-ray, MRI, many visits to the chiropractor, a visit to pain management, and the back surgeon, and I am now still going through weekly sessions of physical therapy it has been determined that I have multiple herniated disks.  Three maybe four disks, it all depends on which person is reading my MRI at the time.  Either way my back hurts.


With each appointment I walked in expecting to hear that my injury isn't really as bad as the last doctor said, but as I walked away I left realizing that actually it is worse then I thought.  I had the x-ray done thinking my doctor was just being cautious only to get a phone call that I needed an MRI.  I went into the MRI telling the technician that I didn't need any help taking my shoes off or getting on the MRI table only to leave with him insisting on helping me sit up and putting my shoes on for me.  I walked into pain management expecting to be told I just needed to wait it out only to find that not only were they ready to give me the steroid shot into my spine, but my insurance company had already agreed to pay for it.  I walked into the surgeons office to find that if I had met with a younger, newer surgeon they would probably suggest operating, but since he had been around for a while he realized that if he did operate because of where my back was injured I would be signing up for three more surgeries every other year for the next eight years ending with chronic pain for the rest of my life.  Instead he thought I better continue on with PT, informing me to expect up to two years before I was back to normal and thought I might have some on again off again arthritis.  The surgeon was the best news giver of them all and I still wasn't happy with the news he gave.


I spent most of July with ice packs, and heating pads strategically placed around my spin and hips as I dreaded my next PT or chiropractic visit.  I listened to my boys play outside and watched every season of every HGTV show available on Netflix. On the few days I felt normal enough to move I over did it by trying to catch up on all the things I was missing out on.  Even when I was trying to "take it easy" one wrong step would end in more intense pain lasting for days.  In the end no matter what I did I caused myself greater pain.  When I returned to the ice packs, and heating pads I found my spirit deflated.


For years I have talked about, almost obsessed over slowing and seeing the small things.  It seems that finding joy in the mundane goes along with parenthood.  To find joy in the small not just the mile stones of life, not simply the first word, the first steps, the very last diaper change, the first day of school, but to find it in the daily grind.  All those nights that my sweet baby boys screamed and all those days I passed through blurry eyed, a whole day of punishments because he insisted on eating the dish soap, covering himself in the baby powered or taking a bath with his clothes on, somewhere in all that there was joy.  But this summer...


This summer is different.  Now they sleep through the night.  Now they obey.  Now they know right from wrong.  Now they know what is safe and what isn't.  Now they are easy and fun.  This summer it is because of me that I search for the joy.


This summer I have hardly seen the joy.  I have gone to bed many nights frustrated reflecting on all the things we didn't do rather then all those small joys.  The way they took care of me.  Those times they offered to make me lunch.  The many times they got an ice pack for me.  The way they played together.  They way they did extra chores so I wouldn't have to.  The way they helped me cook dinner.  The way they snuggled.  All those joys I let slip by.


Next time, because it's a fact of life that my body will fail me guaranteeing there will be a next time,  I intend to see the joy in the mundane as it comes along.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Our 2016 Summer "To Do List":

Life is all about slowing and seeing.  For me slowing requires effort.  The best way for me to see is through the lens of a camera  This weekend we sat down and made a list of things we want to do over summer.  In the corner of my living room I sat up a small desk with some colored pencils, pens, glue, and paper for us to create a scrapbook of adventures as we try to complete our list in the next 11 weeks.

1. Hike 11 miles
2. Have a water balloon fight with all of our friends
3. Go to Peaks Kenny
4. Find a new swimming hole
5. Go to Wild River
6. Go fishing
7. Go to Uncle Cousins at least once
8. Catch fireflies
9. Star gaze
10. Go strawberry picking
11. Go see the fireworks
12. Go on a tree identification walk
13. Go on a flower identification walk
14. Make our own Popsicles
15. Go for a walk in the rain
16. Catch as many different critters as we can
17. Camp out in the back yard
18. Make a homemade slip-n-slide
19. Go on a boat ride
20. Go to the Celtic celebration in Belfast
21. Go to a farmers market
22. Find a four leaf clover
23. Make s'mores in a solar oven
24. Go mini golfing
25. Go on a surprise adventure
26. See a lighthouse
27. Go on a scavenger hunt
28. Make water balloon launchers
29. “Grow” a butterfly
30. Make waffle cone s’mores
31. Do some epic science experiments
32. Make a summer scrapbook
33. Have a bonfire with anybody that wants to join in the fun.
34. Find a random town to watch the 4th of July fireworks.

Monday, June 13, 2016

One family different people

Each of us has our own story.  No matter how alike our stories may be they will never be the same.  Our boys only 18 months apart who are best friends and just a few years into life have very different stories.

One boy took 29 hours to come into this world and then lived 8 months in pain because of an unknown allergy, he was tongue tied so spoke with his own personal pronunciation of any words that included the "Th" and "Sh" combinations well into late kindergarten.  He was able to ride a bike without training wheels when he was five and began rollerblading a month or two later.  He sees patterns in everything.  He remembers things in exacting detail.  He hates reading.  He is very literal.  He has a very black and white view of life.  He loves the outdoors and anything that goes along with it, and is very much looking forward to giving Boy Scouts a try this coming fall.

Boy number two took 8 hours total, but only 30 minutes at the hospital with only four pushes, and his milk allergy was expected so he never knew that same pain as his brother.  He is six in a half and still can't ride a bike without training wheels.  He just learned to roller blade.  Reading is easy for him.  He remembers the big idea, but doesn't seem to care about the details.  He is full of endless hugs and loves to hold my hand.  He is not even remotely interested in being a Boy Scout but really wants to learn to play the ukulele.

Brothers who share DNA, up until last night the same room and almost all of the same events each day throws at them.  Yet they walk through life with very different eyes.  Eyes that filter the experiences differently.  Sometimes it can make situations a bit uncomfortable and sometimes it can even cause conflict.

As there Mom it's fun to watch them experience life.  Not only am I able to experience our life from my perspective I get to watch it through eyes as well.  From the outside I'm able to see that often they both are correct in there interpretation of life.  The conflict comes from being unwilling to allow the other brother the freedom of being different.

This conflict of there's is what has been changing my perspective of relationships and what makes each of us who we are.  I've been learning not only to value of the perspective of somebody else, but to know that we both might be right.  In turn I'm okay with uncomfortable conversations and even a little bit of conflict.  Life experience and conflict form our convictions.  Conviction is what makes us tick.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Those small hands

Every year around this time I'm faced with the hard truth that time stops for no one.  This is my 9th year of motherhood.  No matter how deep my desire is for my two kidlets to stay young I am forced to watch them grow into men.  In fact I rarely ever call them kidlets, boysies, hoolies, or any pet name because they are now true boys, my sons, and almost men.  This week one more chapter in life came to a close while another one opened.


Here in our house summer vacation has officially started which means I will never be teaching a first grader again.  As the year closes my baby can read most anything he wants to even if he doesn't have a clue as to the word's meaning, he's pretty good at the whole school thing.  As for sweet Man of the woods, he is closer to his teenage years then he is his toddler years.


This year we have:
~ Explained words that I hoped they would never learn simply because they can read.
~ They also now know where babies come from.
~ I no longer require them to hold my hand in parking lots, but secretly hope they will every time we get out of the car.  When they do take my hand in theirs I savor the feel of that small hand in mine, because If I am completely truthful Man of the wood's hands and feet are almost as big as mine.
~ We watched Man of the woods beam as he was given his very own pocket knife for his birthday and has attentively paid attention as he learns to use it on fishing trips where he is now required to always have it with him.
~ We have begun to wonder how old is old enough to leave them at home while we run to the corner store.


Since I can't stop the future from coming I breathe deep all the firsts they experience and dream with them about what lays ahead.  After all while I want that small hand to always fit perfectly in mine, another girl will soon be dreaming of that manly hand fitting perfectly into hers.  It's my job to prepare them for her and all the future offers them.


Strong man and I, we need to teach them:
~ To slow and see.
~ To dream big.
~ When faced with good and better, to always choose better.
~ To love without conditions.


Summer is all about new beginnings, dreaming big, and slowing.  That's exactly what I plan to do with these small men.  Already we're dreaming about rivers to swim in, critters to catch, woods to be explored, and adventures not yet thought of.  These dreams seems small, but to them are big and grand.  So then for me too they are big and grand, requiring me to slow and see, to always choose better, and to dream wildly.  If I do this well then I can prepare them for all the future holds and those sweet girls that one day will dream of those manly hands.





Monday, May 23, 2016

To be whole again

December 28, 2015 changed the course of our life.  Really it started 10 days earlier when you got a call on an application you put out.  A thing that was completely unexpected.  A few interviews and a major snow storm later and you had yourself a whole new career if you wanted it...New Year's Eve I sat at table A1 with my boss across from me the crew beginning the prep for the sales to come.  I gave her the news.  I cried.


As you and I said our goodbyes to jobs we deeply cared for we also said hello to the unknown and adventure that laid ahead of us.  You and I, we don't do normal very well.  We have always been go big or go home.  Here we were knowing that you were about to leave for 11 weeks and there were chances that this job wouldn't work out.  In fact for some of your classmates it didn't.

Who needs a bowl for watermelon chunks...

February 4 the boys and I dropped you at the airport.  Sweet tender Man of the Woods sobbed...Looking back, I'm glad we did it.  I think it's safe to say that all four of us hold a higher value for each other then we did before this journey began.

...Cup holders work just as well.

Now that you are back together life has found it's balance.


We have time to simply be together, no longer rushing through life as we pass off the children to each other.


You and I have gone to bed together for the last 10 years, but now we fall into our bed at a normal hour.


We do chores together, and teach our boys to do them too.


We eat dinner together every single night.

My first fish of the year.

We walk the driveway together hand in hand just because.

After finding worms, dead or alive, in both big and small boy pockets when doing the wash I swore to myself I would never put worms in my pocket on a fishing trip no matter what.  This weekend I found myself eating my words.

We sit in the sun together watching our boys play.

Three generations hiking out of the woods.

Together we slow and see the joy around us.


It is good to be us.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Eight

I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that I threw up a thousand times while you were growing in my belly.  I was sick for eight in a half months, that's 255 long days.  I quickly learned where every public bathroom was in the entire city of Bangor.  I always had a gallon sized zip lock baggy in my purse next to a granola bar, and gum.  I have heard it said that Momma's forget all of the unpleasantness of pregnancy the moment they first hold there baby.  Well I disagree.  I was sick for 36 out of the first 38 weeks that your tiny heart beat and sweet boy I don't want to forget any of those moments.  Every time I knelt in front of the toilet I rested in all those moments we would have together in the future.

Baby you!


From the many brothers I had in my life I knew for certain that balls, bugs, Legos, fishing, rocks, nerf guns, and forts would be in my future.  I knew that noise, dirt, broken bones, and inexpiable smells would become apart of my daily life.  While it was reassuring to know what to expect from a boy, I had no idea what to expect from you.  So every time I rushed to the bathroom I whispered a sweet thank you Lord, and then I wondered about what you would be like.  It was our time together, a time I will always cherish.

One

Then after you were born it was as if my constant stomach upset was transferred to  you.  For eight months you cried and threw up.  For six months we had no idea why.  I was sure that it was more then colic.  While I'm sorry you spent so long in pain from the milk your little body couldn't digest, I wouldn't change our time together.  We rocked and sometimes cried together I breathed long prayers about you and for you.  I dreamed of who you would one day become, what kind of personality you would have.



Almost two

Your first word was ball.
When you were six you broke your arm.
To say that you enjoy playing with Lego's would be a huge understatement.
You have always loved to fish and hike.
You climb any tree you can no matter where you are.

Three (I think)

In so many ways you are exactly who I imagined, but that's just the big picture of you.  Si guy, you are so much more then I could have ever imagined.

Four

You notice the details of peoples hearts.  I had no idea that was even possible, but some how you can see into hearts.

Five (First day of kindergarten)

School is hard for you, but words are not.  You speak in such a way that people notice you.  You speak with confidence and respect.  Not only do you have a way with words, you use them to encourage others and articulate what you see to be honorable and true even if it makes situations more difficult for yourself.

Six

My prayer for you this year is this:  May God grow you and protect you from becoming dull to the hearts of those around you.  May you always use your words to build people up and to protect them.  Lastly I hope that you learn to show yourself grace, to accept that you don't have to be perfect, because dear Man of the woods thankfully we will never be asked to be perfect, but only to do the best we can.

Seven

I love that you birthed me into Motherhood, an event that happens every single day of your life.  I love you more then you will ever be able to imagine.

Eight

Here's an interview with your eight year old self:
What's your favorite color? Green
What's something that is very special to you? Mom
What's your favorite word or saying? Fair point....Dude....So awesome... Kinda cool.

What's your favorite thing to do? That's tough.  I think it's Nerf wars.  Actually no it's hanging out with my family.
Who is your favorite super hero? Why is there this question....hmm...I don't know...Oh! Super Dadda!...(Laughing to yourself)...I just made one up because Dad is super.
What is your favorite memory of this past year?  Talking with Opal.  We talked for two hours straight!
What do you want to be when you grow up? A marine biologist.

Happy birthday!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Rewind.

I woke first to the sound of ice rain hitting the roof.  As I rolled over my eyes flew open from the pain burning at the base of my neck. I must have slept wrong.  Again.  Now my eyes are wide awake staring at the ceiling listening to the recently more common sound of bickering brothers.  My mind is full of discontentment. I have no interest in starting the fire, feeding the chickens, or even making a cup of coffee, much less parenting, teaching or speaking at all.  Most of all I miss my husband.  It's mornings like these that he would drag me out of bed just to wrap his huge arms around me, giving me all the strength I need to conquer the day ahead of me.  Only seven weeks left to go before he's back home.


So with no desire to get out of bed, I began my morning ritual of making a daily plan:
Start the coffee pot.
Rekindle the fire.
Have the boys fill the wood box.
Remind them to eat breakfast.
Give the chicks fresh water.
Pour a cup of the freshly made coffee.
Close the wood stove door.
Tell the boys now is the time to get there energy out before school.
Sit with said cup of coffee while reading my Bible.
Start school.
Have lunch.
Finish school.
Let boys play wild and free in the basement.
Clean.
Make supper.
Tidy the kitchen.
Skype our Strong man.
Put the boys to bed.
Hope for 45 minutes of quite.
Talk with my Husband.
Go to bed.


To start, I will my sore body to move, staggering to the bathroom and then down stairs to live out this simple routine.  Only today, my fuse is short so when the boys begin the normal how much wood is enough wood conversation I speak a little to harshly.  I fight with the logs to burn, bringing the fire back to life three times before I finally convince it to heat the house.  I forget about the coffee sitting fresh in the pot and begin pricing out a new phone, something I've put off for far to long.  The boys bicker, one brother ate the wrong muffin.  I ignore it waiting to see if they will work it out themselves.  When I do remember my coffee it's stale, and time to start school.  Keeping school simple, surviving the day quickly becomes the goal.  We start off with me reading to them, a thing that on a normal day they both love, but today is not normal.  I quickly find one boys feet resting on my shoulder while the other boy has just walked out of the room and ignores me when I ask where he is going.  I ask three times where he is going on the third I yell his name.  This time he responds with sharp defensive tones in his voice completely unaware that it is him who has been disrespectful in his practice of ignoring his Mama.  I am tired as school comes to an end but somehow still isn't completed...And then we rewind.


A saving grace in this family.  A time when one of us has reacted poorly and is given the chance to rewind and start that phrase, that action, that entire moment over.  A habit we've learned not invented ourselves.  Because isn't that what Saving Grace is all about?
For the doer - A fresh start.  A new beginning.  A changing of ways.
For the receiver - Forgiving.  Letting go.  Allowing a rewind.


With the fire burning and the sky grey the boys play Lego's while I sit with a hot cup of tea and read my Bible with the sound of gentle music playing in the back ground.  This time there is no bickering.