The Night Before Momentum Monday

It’s Sunday Night. I usually enjoy an evening of relaxation, a sermon and family time on Sundays while doing some Monday morning preparations. NOT today.
Tomorrow is Momentum Monday. It will start a week of surgeries, new appointment screenings, and add a new therapy to our weekly 5 on the schedule. The following week we will have two trips to hospitals an hour away. Perhaps the trauma of the past year has scarred me. Perhaps it has made me wiser. When I think of an all-day process at our local military medical facility, I sometimes picture what happened in
Not this week, September! No SIR!
This is my JOB, my TITLE, my MISSION. I’m the MOM.

My theory is if I can get enough momentum, eventually I can run down the brick wall that is Monday.
oh yeah

There is no time for worry, what-ifs or wondering when Murphy’s Law will derail the train!

Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance! Time to get focused! Get energized! WAR CRY!
keep calm and prep

Tomorrow’s Game Plan:
Pre-Op at 8:10, which is usually when I am dropping Firstborn at school.The Pre-Op should take 2-3 hours.

Obstacles: Scheduled RAIN. Traffic at the military gate. The need to leave the house 30 minutes earlier than usual to drop Firstborn off at school by 7:40 so I can be punctual.

Potential Ambush Points: 1) staff members 2) The child will miss a nap and enjoy poking, prodding, weighing, etc.

Preparations for Ambushes: 1) COOKIES 2) Bring the stroller and napping supplies, snacks and caffeine and comfortable footwear

What this really looks like:
Baking dozens of cookies for teachers and disgruntled employees whose caffeine has not set in, particularly when we enter ‘missed nap’ time.

Relieving stress by continuing family traditions like making homemade popcorn on Sunday nights. The Man-Child literally came in and fed me. Moms really do forget to eat. Add hugs and tickles.

Laying out multiple outfits, diapers, etc. so that changing can happen in one location within 4 minutes. Bag is packed completely, to include Pre-Op papers, military ID, an extra fuzzy planet for the stroller nap and extra food for all involved.

Feeding takes the longest in the morning, so all prep work is done and pieces are positioned so the pump feeding should take only 25 minutes. IMG_2615

I am sure this seems crazy. It’s a morning assembly line.
I am often told “I don’t know how you do it every day.” This is how. I too have a layered, comfortable and cute outfit ready for tomorrow…because if everything in my control is done, I can better handle the things that aren’t in my control. (Roughly 80 %)

My kid is going to be poked, prodded, knocked out with anesthesia (it doesn’t go well) and be off schedule for three days this week, minimum.Those are the ‘easy days’ before the heavy-duty tests start. As I tell the vampires who drain him of blood, “Only one of us get to cry and freak out. It’s his turn. I have to be a rock for him so he knows we have a Rock to lean on.” After over one hundred sticks in two years and regular hospital visits, my skin grew a bit thicker and I learned not to lean on my own strength.

I am one of the proud Momma-Warriors who spends too much time in hospitals with children. Several in my circle are preparing for surgeries, treatments, check-ups, etc. soon. While we may be tearful puddles from point to point, may our children look up and see this on their behalf:

Stay tuned for how it will all turn out.


Earning the Stripes

During morning physical therapy today we discussed the need to work on The Conqueror’s fine motor skills. At nearly two he should be working on pre-writing skills. Eek. Almost two. In many ways this birthday will feel like my son is turning one and turning two years old at the same time because of all that has happened this year. We have fought for his life or improved health every day. Two? Wow.

As I was in the mommy-reality-spiral, someone else was listening. Writing skills, you say? Challenge Accepted!
Several hours later as I was filling out my planner with multiple colored pens (when you have 6 therapy appointments MINIMUM each week, you need color coding to keep it straight!) I apparently didn’t grab one. My little scooter did the electric slide across the room and found a pen without a cap. I did not realize this because I was handling bathroom business with the 3 year old. On the way out the door to Speech I grabbed the little one and saw his first art work.

Someone felt like he had earned his stripes today. He just drew them on. It didn’t stop here; his body was covered. I quickly got the wipes and gave him an emergency clean-up…after taking some pictures. This is my SECOND son, after all.

I’m not mad. I’m actually impressed. Now that everyone is bathed and in bed, I am smiling rather fondly. This is a rite of passage. Kids find markers and create murals, wall-paintings and homemade tattoos. At least it wasn’t permanent this time and no one lost an eye.

I know many of you reading have great stories much like these. I’ve heard tales of drawn mustaches, tattoos, spelling names, etc. My sister once used green marker to connect her freckles on her arm to demonstrate that “The Big Dipper” was on her arm. Noted!

Today is the kind of day in the Mom-tribe when we can sit around and applaud each other for the rites of passage. My other son traced his fingers across my hip the other day where light silver lines now grace once-smooth skin from days before sons. Stripes come in many different ways but darn it, we’ve earned them. Share those stripes stories and glory in them, lest we all think we are the only ones.

Remembering Sep 11: What You Don’t Know Yet

Hello Past Self,

There you are, getting dressed for school on September 11, 2002. You just said aloud, “I’m not sure how to feel about today. It’s surreal. What will it be like to look back and remember September 2001 for the rest of my life?”

You asked a question into the future, so here I am. It’s September 11, 2014 and the truth is that today still feels surreal. There is so much you don’t know about remembering this day. Then again, it has only been a year since you watched the towers fall. You walked down the silent halls of the school with your honorary big-brother-Allen who came home and quietly said, “I’m of age to go to war.” At the end of the hall your mom answered the school telephones, assuring parents that the children were safe and being cared for as if they were the teachers’ own. Only one mother picked her child up. You sat in class and listened to the radio. Go ahead and put on your red, white, and blue for the Spirit Day. I’ll climb into Grandma’s hand-me-down Mercury Sable with you. Duct tape the cup-holder– it will break next week. Shhh…listen to President Bush’s address on the radio. You will remember these words a decade from now.

This day last year did change your entire life. If you could hear me as I walk with you, this is how I would answer your question:

Today your fellow classmates will consider joining the military after high school. Some will– and others will have mothers tell them it isn’t worth it. You don’t know that later this year you will be accepted into your favorite university. You don’t know that you will meet the man of your dreams who will spend 8 years fighting your nightmares. You will never again know a time when war isn’t on your mind.

You will live all over the world, showing your ID at checkpoints and learning to love all kinds of people you never would have met. You will send your man to war again and again. You will make amazing friends and learn a new lingo. You will watch Americans picket and protest each other and debate what is worth fighting for.

You will work in an amazing museum teaching children about the US Infantry. One day the 5th graders will say they don’t know about Saddam Husein. They won’t grasp the importance of his statue falling or how “bombs over Baghdad” looked. You will tell them about September 11 and they will tell you they were in diapers and don’t really know about it.
You won’t forget that. You will resolve to teach your children about it as you stand next to a Bradley at the top of the 100 Yards with the recorded sounds of boots marching ringing in your ears.
nim bradley
Oh, the things you will see. Saddam will be captured, tried, and killed. Osama Bin Laden will be killed as well. I know it seems like that won’t happen sometimes, but have hope. It will. You will help your husband pack for war with only 48 hours notice. You will receive calls that his buddies have been injured and killed. This will happen every week for months one year. You will cry as you iron the shirts he isn’t wearing and then the phone will ring. It will be HIS voice telling you he is safe. You will pray and thank God. That spring simply hearing the Star Spangled Banner and TAPS will make you cry. You will pray your soldier makes it back for the birth of his sons.
You will feel the greatest joy and love from the lifestyle that September 11, 2001 will usher in. I wish I could warn your or adequately prepare you, but it isn’t possible. Your heart will just have to grow.

Although you are nervous that you might not bear children, God will grant you sons, Sweet Girl. Yes, sons. They will grow up watching Daddy leave and come back over and over again.
do not open until dad comes home
Right now you watch presidential addresses and the news with rapt attention. There will come a day when you don’t even turn on the television because you are putting your kids to bed and saying prayers. You will wonder if this is worth the cost. Remembering how today feels will remind you that Freedom is always worth fighting for.

Try not to get too enraged when people wonder why we need to remember. Today is an anniversary. Just like you will sit and remember your wedding anniversaries and take notes of the victories, failings, milestones and memories of each year you must do that today. In thirteen years you will sit on your porch under an American flag and ponder September 11, 2001. You will mourn, you will rejoice and you will give God the glory and long for Jesus to restore all things. For the rest of your life, looking back will feel sacred and different each year. Take heart. The good news is that I still don’t know the half of it. You want to change the world. You want to make a difference. You will, just not in the way you think. Feel all of the feelings today but don’t be swept away by them. Stand on the Rock.

I love you, 2002 Self. I’ll be seeing you.

Everything IS AWESOME

This is my kid.
jonathan 3
He’s strong-willed and has pushed against me since before he was born. Something happened this week that ranks up there with the Red Sea Parting; my child suddenly went from a terror who always rated “below average” to suddenly above average. My son broke through to “awesome”.

Lots of moms told me this day would come. I didn’t believe them. They were right.
He wanted to go to school. My strong and silent non-talker spoke in sentences. He asked for milk, ate quietly, put his bowl into the sink and handed me his school shirt. He had his shoes at the door and said, “Let’s GO!” Despite a tearful drop-off because he can’t take toys to school, his behavior report went from last week’s “disruptive” to miraculous.

My son had an “awesome” day.
behavior 2

I was stunned. STUNNED. My ‘aggressive’ kid didn’t hit? My loner played nicely, hugged and obeyed? My kid with speech delays spoke clearly and politely, using please, thank you and you’re welcome? He waved and said, “Hello”?
I’m sorry, you must have the wrong child.
My kid was the one who had an awesome day.
The teachers excitedly spouted off the best moments of the day. I was stunned. My firstborn BEAMED. He waved and said, “Bye bye!” and out we went.
I did a happy dance and called his grandmothers. All the people who love my kid through his worst celebrated with us.

I braced myself for the next day. I picked him up and found another report of an awesome day. Then another!
behavior chart

He had the perfect week.
His teachers joyfully reported his obedience and speech. Today a teacher told him to go lie down on his cot for a nap. He said, “Okay!” and did. He was soon asleep.


He ran home and couldn’t wait to tell Daddy. He grabbed the family picture and rattled off, “Dad! I did it!” and a story about the day that I couldn’t understand.

This is not bragging, believe me. This is a moment of pure joy and laughter at something I thought would never happen. I still can’t imagine a world where he is totally potty trained. The fact is, the impossible IS happening. I couldn’t see the possibility of working through our family struggles. Faith without sight isn’t stupid; it is true faith that bears fruit.

For months I have put my son to bed saying, “I love you. I will NEVER give up on you.” Tonight he answered, “Okay, goodnight!”
In my heart, I’ve given up many times. I’ve regrouped and tried again. That is precisely what Christ does with our mess. We are disruptive, aggressive, mean, and non-fruit producing. Then one day, little by little, we start to show our ‘best self’ and our vine bears fruit. We are new creations. Those who knew us before, like Miss Dot in the 2 year old class, won’t believe the change in you. Love doesn’t give up.

The impossible things happen with persistent prayer. When they do, even if only for a moment, everything is awesome.

“Behold, I am making all things new.”

How the Sweet Potato Defeated The Dangly Red Earrings

A girl I adore recently asked the Facebook world for a reminder about the fashion laws concerning white pants after Labor Day. I quipped that they are not to be worn while a toddler is in the home.
Usually, I abide by this rule but today I decided to take the risk of wearing white shorts while my toddler is in school. Mind you, they were shorts but and it is 92 degrees outside the judges ruled in my favor.
After an hour working out I decided to shower and look like an actual human being with an identity outside of “Mom” today. I have to face the medical professional world and meet new people– the perfect reason to wear “big girl pants” that don’t have an elastic waist.

Here I sit, wearing a college t-shirt I’ve had since 2006 and black cheer-leading shorts that know any attempt to do a flying eagle would land me in the ER. What happened?
When I left the house I was wearing a clean, matching, trendy outfit. It had ACCESSORIES and dangly jewelry, despite the baby on my hip. I even got compliments on them from other ladies with great fashion sense, which affirms my sister-solidarity. Victory, people!

After an hour out we returned home. No longer performing for an audience of ladies, the littlest monster dropped his smile, turned his head and let out a screech. “FOOOOOD!” he loudly demanded. This should be easy, right? Grab baby food jars from the pantry and a spoon and handle it. Not in this house.
First, grab the pieces of his feeding tube, mix his feeding formula, prime the pump, hang the bag, flush with water and get pump up the jam. This four minute ordeal does not satisfy this kid’s need for food. The screams continued. Dashing to the refrigerator and locating a Tupperware container of food, I suddenly found my fingers were no match for the seal. Apparently the food was still too warm when it went into the refrigerator. Every person who has tried to open such a food container knows exactly where this is headed.
Finally getting the seal to break, the container did an Olympics-worthy gymnastic routine from my hands to the counter, spilling its contents…straight down into my shirt. Somehow, my white pants were not harmed. Miracles happen every day, I tell you. Still, I was in a frozen basketball point-guard position with jazz hands trying to cope with the cold, orange sweet potatoes that were now oozing into my undergarments. Cold sweet potato. It HAD to be sweet potato.
Sweet potatoes are the only vegetable I truly cannot stomach. Perhaps it is the texture, taste or both but as a child I discovered this food and I were NOT friends. The kindergarten lunch aide who instituted the 3-bites-before-dessert-rule also discovered this by bite two. Her shoe and my brownie were casualties. Worst day ever.

With that childhood memory flooding back with the sight and smell of orange disaster on my counter and down my front, I grabbed the last clean towel to begin damage assessment. Meanwhile, the screaming child was unsympathetic. Like all mothers, I quickly and carefully wiped up and took care of my child bearing the orange badge of motherhood.

After feeding him the remnants of my afternoon FEMA drill, I returned to my 7am state of work-out attire with my resilient red and gold dangly earrings proudly standing firm against a faded t-shirt. Ouch.
We will need to venture out again for medical paperwork and errands, at which point I will be brave and find a new shirt to go with my white (soon to be stained by a three year old, I’m sure) shorts. Why? Very rarely to medical professionals consider you a ‘mommy on the go’ who has in all together when they see you struggling with a double stroller, without make-up and in sweaty clothes. No, they see a mother who is barely surviving. This came straight from a world-famous doctor’s mouth after an appointment in which she said, “Despite all the medical issues, you seem to be doing great. I mean, your hair is done and your outfit looks great.” I turned and said with a truthful smile, “If I came in here in a pony tail and yoga pants, you’d think I couldn’t care for myself, let alone my children.The moms who say they are struggling but also look like a mess are more likely to lose their children than those that look pulled together.”
She paused and said, “You know, that is absolutely true.”

When I go out later today, I will cling to that hour when I looked cute today. The fact is, if another mom in yoga pants looks at me in disgust, it will be all I can do to not say, “I have sweet potato in my bra and don’t have on red dangly earrings.”

Moms, we can do this. Yoga pants or skirts, put on that armor and conquer the day. Avoid orange food and remember, I still think you look great. The beautiful struggle looks great on you and even the moms that look pulled together are probably smuggling Cheerios in their waistbands.