The education

My first post of 2015! I had such a blissfully relaxing Christmas break & birthday but now I’m in that early January bummed out stage. No better cure than jumping in and getting back to normal.
I never take my kids to doctors appointments. Honestly, I rarely even bring Jason with me! But, I had a checkup the day after Christmas & we’d already spent so many consecutive days together, it seemed natural the whole family would stay together. So we did! It felt like we had just sat down when I overheard a conversation between mother & daughter next to me. In fairness, they were talking before I sat down & I’m speculating about the specific details but here’s what I heard. The girl, who looked to be in her late 20’s seemed to be around 20 weeks pregnant & was sitting with what I assumed was her mother. They were going over a folder of information. It appeared that the folder contained some test results & the mother was explaining what the results meant. The mother was pretty animated & speaking a bit loudly so it was hard not to hear they were talking about Down syndrome. Of all the days for David to be with me! The snippets that I was picking up included, “Down syndrome, not for sure, amnio & results.” In fairness, none of those are negative words so I shouldn’t have been immediately on guard, but of course I was, especially with my precious son 10 feet from them. Jason & I kept exchanging looks and finally I said, “I’m going to say something to them.” I walked over and said, “Hi! I just wanted to let you know, we had a prenatal diagnosis in this office of Down syndrome with my son over there and I’m happy to talk with you about it if you have any questions.” The girl was very kind and said, “Thank you, this is all very overwhelming.” Her mother, was a little less kind. She immediately started preaching to me about the current research, how only an amnio is 100% but that it causes miscarriages and how blood work isn’t accurate. I was flustered because a) I wasn’t expecting that kind of reaction b) I’m not as educated as I want to be on prenatal genetic testing beyond my own experience and c) she wasn’t kindly asking me questions and trying to get first hand information. She was aggressive and her words had a negative tone. I felt like she was trying to educate me! I explained that we had received a positive diagnosis through my 12 week blood work – big mistake!! She was quick to remind me that there are no positive or negative results for the early genetic tests that are out there. She’s right; there are higher or lower probabilities. But, because these tests are under increasing fire and there’s been some new studies completely debunking their accuracy at all, it seemed she was using those as her touchstone. She kept telling me, “They’re only 40% accurate.” (Seriously, she said it 4 times) The only thing I could respond with was, “Well, it was 100% correct for us.” Again, the pregnant woman was kind & kept telling me how cute David was while her mother asked me if I’d had an amnio and additional follow up questions. I was kicking myself because I was trying to be calm and an advocate for my son and instead I was flustered and stumbling for words. I did have the presence of mind to tell both women that my OB’s office handled our diagnosis wonderfully. The mother almost tried to argue with me about that! She insinuated that the doctors were pressuring her daughter to get the amnio or terminate. I can’t speak for their experience or for every doctor in the practice, but ours was as positive an experience as we could’ve hoped for.
I’m no stranger to the shock and grief that comes with a prenatal diagnosis. And I’m an advocate that everyone should feel and react however they need to. But this experience in the office left me uncomfortable. I felt so bad for the pregnant woman who was being, it appeared, negatively impacted by emotional information. The ironic part is my OB’s office has my business cards in their lobby since I work with clients and their reproductive mental health. My business cards were literally within grabbing distance! Why didn’t I offer to have her contact me? Why didn’t I refer her to the Rocky Mountain Down syndrome Association? Why didn’t I tell her about the Down syndrome Diagnosis Network?
I want to be the calm, bold, knowledgeable mother that makes Down syndrome seems less scary. I want to be a quiet advocate for David. I want our experience to reassure people & not be reduced to stutters if I’m confronted.
Here’s to hoping all three of us women leaned something in the office that day.
Here are great sources of information & education:
http://www.rmdsa.org
http://www.dsdiagnosisnetwork.org

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Thankfulness: the surprise

Day twenty-nine: I know there are many people who don’t like surprises; I’m not one of them. I love surprises. Planning them, being surprised, surprise parties, even just general knowledge of surprises – I love them all. (Scratch that, I love good surprises) I think they’re fun and exciting. They’re usually celebratory and for a specific purpose. They often lead to amazing memories and stories to share for years.
2013 brought its share of surprises to our family. Most were “bad” so they weren’t my favorite kind. From our Down syndrome diagnosis to David’s arrival a month early, we were blindsided and knocked over by surprise. But, we’ve made it through and we’re stronger. I’ve said that a million times already but really, our “bad” surprises have turned out good. Our lives are unexpected and not at all what we expected and surprising. But that is exactly what we signed up for. We said for better or worse and truly, through the worse, it’s gotten better.
I’m so grateful for this season, our lives and the continual surprises that keep coming our way. Keep the good ones coming!

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Baby number three – April 2015

Thankfulness: the Need

Day twenty-three: This morning, after church, Jason asked me what I wanted for Christmas/my birthday this year.  My birthday is in between Christmas and New Year’s and I always feel badly for my loved ones who have to worry about Christmas gifts AND birthday gifts during an already stressful, gift buying season.

I don’t know if it was my month-long focus on Thankfulness or the sermon we had just heard about being thankful and appreciating what we do have, but truly, I was at a loss.  There is not one thing I Need for Christmas or my birthday.  Truthfully, most years, I don’t Need anything, but I can always manage to come up with a decent list of wants.  This year, I’m at a loss.  I am feeling truly blessed and don’t need one thing, or even have anything topping my want list.  I am so incredibly grateful to have food in my belly, a warm place to sleep, clothes to wear and a means to get more of all of those things.  I have a family that would never let anything bad happen to me and friends that make life fun.  I am rarely bored, I am about to take a week long vacation and I have still have books I haven’t read and crafts I haven’t completed.  If anything, I have too much!  Honestly, I feel so overwhelming blessed in this season in my life that I could get warm socks for Christmas and be blissfully happy.  Actually, I’ll put that on my list for Jason because warm socks would make me very happy #chronicicytoes

If I have any influence at all, I hope that everyone who reads will be grateful for even one thing today.  We are SO blessed!  I’m thankful for this season and for all I have been given.

Thankfulness: My better half

Day Five:  I made a list at the beginning of the month of all the things I have to be thankful for.  Not that I needed a reminder, but I wanted to have a “go-to” list to help me stay on track each day.  I wanted to spend my time writing not coming up with the topic.  Today’s topic was my husband.  Before I go into all the ways I am thankful for him, I think it’ll mean more if I give a little background on my day.

For the past few weeks, David has been “off”.  He’s been fussy, uncomfortable and crying a lot.  None of these things are typical for him.  He’s had a few sporadic fevers and a lot of trouble pooping (I’ll spare you the details).  We’ve been concerned given his very complicated GI history, so yesterday I took him to the ER at Children’s Hospital – they know us well.  Fortunately, after a series of exams, x-rays and an unsuccessful blood draw, we were informed he’s “fine” and sent home.  He woke up with a fever and truthfully, I think he has the flu (thanks a lot flu shot – super effective)  Anyway, I may be one of only a handful of parents who go to the ER when their kid has the flu, but we don’t take any chances with him.  Today, I was home-bound with my sick little buddy and it was a rough day.  He slept on and off throughout the day, but when he wasn’t sleeping, he was crying.  He wanted me to hold him, but didn’t want to be snuggled.  He coughed a lot, had a continuous runny rose and even gagged like he was throwing up a few times.  So, already not the best day I’ve ever had.  To top it off, he eats through a G-tube which uses a pump to feed him.  The pump has been acting up lately and beeps every 1-2 minutes with an error message that we then have to clear and continue to feed.  Then, it’ll beep again, we clear it, continue and so on and so forth.  The alarm sounds just like that, an alarm.  I hear it in my dreams.  Today, in a matter of 20 minutes, it beeped 16 times.  I hear phantom beeps even now.  But wait!  The day gets better!  Our city, not three weeks ago, paved our alley.  It was a labor intensive, nosy job that blocked our garage and started very early in the morning.  The result is great, but the process was more than just a little annoying.  Today, in between beeping pumps and crying babies, there was home shaking pounding coming from behind my house.  Seriously, it shook the ground, windows, house every single time.  Apparently, the city inspector wasn’t satisfied with the paving job and has decided the concrete needs to be jack-hammered apart and re done.  It’s 6:00pm and they are still working.

“Wow Jill, what a delightfully thankful post!” is what none of you are thinking.  Hang in there, it gets better.  Between crying, sick babies, active, attention seeking pre-schoolers, a blocked alley and a broken pump, my husband walks in the door at 4:45!  Anyone who is married to a teacher (at least a good one) knows what a miracle this is.  Grading, planning, answering parents emails, coaching, department meetings and student questions usually have him home around 6:30.  It was a true miracle, especially after the soul crushing decision Colorado voters made about schools yesterday, and it couldn’t have come on a better day.  I’m still in sweats with a hint of baby formula as an accessory and my make-up regime today consisted of brushing my teeth.  It couldn’t have been a more classic picture as my dashingly handsome husband strolled through the door and saved the day.  He got Ella working on letters and numbers at the kitchen table, bathed David and put him to bed, cleaned up toy and snack remnants from the day and even ran outside to talk to the workers about the upcoming pave job.  He was literally a breath of fresh air on this day with more to complain about than be thankful for.

I am so grateful for my husband.  I don’t say it nearly enough and truthfully, I don’t think I even know about all of the ways he makes my life a little easier.  I prayed for a long time for my spouse.  What a blessing that God picked this man for me!

Editor’s note: There is so much that can be said about my hubs that doesn’t deserve to be marred by my difficult day.  Be prepared for another post about this man.

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Thankfulness: Good friends

Day four: When I was younger, we moved around a lot. One of the most difficult parts of that was constantly making new friends. I often went to school with kids who had literally grown up together and knew each other’s lifelong history. I never had that and I was always envious of people who had years and years of history.
Things started to change in high school with a quality group of girlfriends. College introduced me to the lifelong friends and women I still consider family. My time in New York produced friends I hold dear to this day. And in Denver, after eight years, I am blessed to be surrounded by wonderful, compassionate friends.
Throughout the years & across the miles, these friends I mention have showered me with love & support. They have called & sent cards at just the right time, bought my family plane tickets for a much needed visit, cried with me & hugged me when I needed it, traveled to South Dakota (what?!) for my wedding, brought us meals, watched Ella overnight at a moments notice & prayed for me more than I’ll even know. We have laughed hard danced harder & traveled naively. I’m forever changed and forever grateful.
For a girl who never had deep roots as a child, my adult life & friendships have more than made up for it. My mom always says, “Good people find each other.” She is so right, only fortunately for me, even better people find me! Thank you friends. I’m so thankful for you!

The first day

Okay, okay this post is long overdue. The first day was technically last month, but as any mother of children starting school will tell you, getting anything done beyond packing lunches, picking out clothes and implementing early bedtimes is pretty much impossible.
David started his new therapy daycare the week before Ella started preschool. I was worried about him since he’s always been at a daycare facility with her and he’s pretty much obsessed with her. He adores her and is mesmerized with her so I knew a separation would be rough. The first day I dropped him off he actually cried for me. I’m going to go out on a limb and say sometimes mothers actually like when their children cry. Hear me out, trust me. I would never want either of my children to cry out in pain or fear, but David’s attachment to me was a big fear of mine when he was in the NICU. I remember crying after I would hang up the phone with the nurses at night. It’s unnatural for a mother to ask a relative stranger for updates on her own child.  I was afraid he would become so attached to the nurses that he would never truly bond with me.  As a therapist, thoughts of RAD and other attachment disorders flew through my head at lightning speed, and I was afraid of what the future held. So when the nurses and therapists at his new daycare told me he was a little sad when I left, it felt good, it felt right & it assuaged any fear I had last year.
Ella, on the other hand has been a different story. My social butterfly, my future class president has had a rough transition. She spent the first two weeks making excuses to make us late. She begged me not to leave, clung desperately to David and I and we left her in tears every day. It has been a battle to adjust for sure. No amount of cute clothes or special treats in her lunch was doing the trick. Finally, a solution! She was sick this week. Weird, right? But her boring day lead to a newfound appreciation for school. She practically ran in the door this morning!
Newness is upon us. They are both adjusting probably quicker than their parents. And the best news? They still adore each other!
Happy Fall!

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The speech

Happy Graduation Day!! That kind of enthusiasm might be a little much considering I don’t have a graduating senior yet or even know a graduating senior. But, I’m excited for a different reason. My amazingly talented husband has been asked to write & give the commencement speech at his high school this year. He’s allowed me to share it with you all. Have a wonderful weekend!

2014 PVHS Graduation: Keynote Speech
As the school’s AP Language & Composition teacher I dissect speeches with my students all year long. Together, we become archeologists of the written word – examining the strategies speakers use to engage with, to appeal to, and to subtly manipulate their audiences. We sift through the rubble of pages, paragraphs, and sentences, in search of patterns, purposes, and techniques.
I am telling you this as a disclaimer.
You see, I enjoy analyzing others’ work. I find pleasure in dissecting the words of famous orators in order to understand how they build their arguments. However, analysis is much different than creation and deconstruction is the opposite of invention.
Speech writing is an excruciating task for me. I agonize about sharing my thoughts with any group of people, but this is by far the largest audience I will ever face. As a result, this is the most physically ill I have been in my 11 year teaching career. It is also, without a doubt, the highest honor I have received as an educator. I possess an immense amount of gratitude in my heart for this group of students and I am truly honored to be here, with you, today. Thank you, class of 2014, for giving me this gut-wrenching gift.
Let me begin by telling you how disappointed I was, 6 years ago. I was a finalist for the keynote speaker at the first graduation ceremony, however I was not chosen to give the speech. Back then, I desperately wanted to earn the opportunity to speak at graduation, despite not knowing what it was I wanted to say. Looking back, I’m sure that my speech would have been filled with fluffy anecdotes and cheery metaphors that loosely related to the concept of graduation. I would not have given that group of graduates the presence at the podium that they deserved. In the past 6 years I have gained the gift of perspective. I know now, what I want to say. I own my words and I am confident in my message. I am the perfect speaker for this class, for this year, and speaking from this point in my life.
I have had two Davids make a substantial impact on my life. They have lived decades apart from one and other, but they have collectively shaped me more than any one person ever has. I met David Oulman, my father, when I was born (on May 1, 1980). I met David Oulman, my son, at his birth (on July 23, 2013). Between these two events is a 33 year span of my life. It has been a good life, overall. I have been blessed with quality friends. I have been lucky in love. I have been supported, at every turn, by my family. I have laughed far more often than I have cried.
My father was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He flew airplanes and helicopters, restored vintage pickups, and played board games with his kids every weekend. He also loved my mother unconditionally and unabashedly. He had a smile on his face every day of his life. He taught me how to swing a golf club, how to make others laugh, how to kick a soccer ball, how to build a campfire, how to aim a rifle, and how to remain positive in the toughest of situations. My father was my hero. He had the strength and speed of Superman, the honor and integrity of Batman, and the wild and unruly sideburns of Wolverine. He was too big, too strong to die. But, one spring morning my superhero father had a heart attack. He died at the age of 47. I was 11 then and the script that my life had been following was instantly altered.
I grew up. I got married, and when my wife and I decided to have children, the name at the top of our list for boys was etched in stone: David. To me, this was more than a name. It was my chance to honor my father by giving a boy I hoped to mold into a man the same name as the man who shaped me into who I was.
My son’s name is David. However, the decision to name him that was more difficult than I had ever imagined it would be. You see, before David’s birth we were informed that he had a condition termed Trisomy Twenty-One, also known as Down Syndrome. In the midst of processing this news, I realized someplace inside of myself I had begun to question whether or not he should be named David. I am ashamed to share this honest truth, but I had created impossibly high-hopes for the boy who inherited that name. I had a specific vision of what our life together would look like and all of the things I would teach him, just as my father had taught me. I didn’t know if this new reality of my son could be everything I had long hoped for. Simply put, he no longer fit into the script I had written for my life.
I had mistaken the sound of the name for the meaning of the name. It is a name that represents the love, spirit, and vitality that my father lived with. Thankfully, my son perfectly embodies those qualities and in doing so he has altered my perspective on life. David has encountered numerous health issues throughout his short lifespan. While living a significant portion of his days in the hospital, David has undergone countless procedures, surgeries, and exams. But his smile is as bold and beautiful as it was when he was born. He has yet to learn how to crawl, but he has taught me that any amount of disheartening statistics is no match for a sweet heart and loving attitude. I had always thought that I would mold and shape my son, but my 9 month old son is molding and shaping me into a better man.
Graduates, the point is this: there is a beauty within the alterations and adjustments that must be made to the script each life follows. Today is your day to celebrate the beginning of a new dimension to your script. But remember, you are all a work in progress. You are all going to have successes and failures scattered throughout your life. The path you have imagined for your life will be jostled and jagged at times. It is inevitable. You are all going to evolve into something substantially different than the people you are today. Our hope, as an institution and collection of professional educators, is that we have properly prepared you to deal with the relentless rigors and the ever-evolving script of life. The real world is an extremely tough test and there is no answer key or opportunity for extra credit.
I have collected a few simple Dos and Don’ts to help you navigate the rough waters of life:
• Do recognize that momentary hardships can create everlasting character.
• Don’t be afraid of adversity.
• Do allow yourself to accept help from others and be willing to offer to help others as often as you can.
• Don’t constantly nitpick and negotiate.
• Do think for yourself.
• Don’t forget to analyze the life you have been given to live.
• Do learn from your mistakes.
• Don’t get distracted by your defeats.
• Do meet, accept, and defeat challenges.
• Don’t become discouraged or disheartened by difficulties.
• Do take pride in the effort you give the things you have control of in life.
• Don’t be afraid to celebrate the flaws in your life.
• Do enjoy the ride.
• Don’t live your life by a predetermined script.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “good and bad are but names, very readily transferable to that or this.” What I believe he meant with this statement is that we all have control over labeling what you consider to be the “good” and the “bad” in your life. Try your best to concern yourselves with what you believe to be “good” and your life will be something that you can be proud of. Don’t worry about the opinions or critiques of those who do not know what you value in your heart.
The only opinion that matters is your own.
In conclusion, I sincerely wish each and every one of you luck on your journeys. Again, it is my distinct honor to share this stage with you today and I will forever remember this day, with you, the Prairie View High School graduating class of 2014!

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The guest

Lessons from My Granddaughter
Hi, David and The Giant readers. Let me introduce myself; as a guest writer today, I’m Steve, affectionately known as “Pops,” father of the David and The Giant blog author, and grandfather to the subjects of so much loving attention: Ella and David. I think I’ll title this intro editorial, “Lessons from My Granddaughter.”
About a year ago I decided to make a move to Colorado following nearly 30 years in Arizona: family raised; old chapters of life closing and new chapters being written, I thought it was the time in life to move a little closer to the next family generation. So, I located about 70 miles south of the kids in Denver, CO to reside in Colorado Springs. Home is where you hang your hat! You know, I didn’t want the young family thinking I would be in their driveway every afternoon, yet close enough to be available at that drop of the hat! I’ve got to say the hat drops often . . . and I love it!
In today’s personal communiqué I receive a text message, email or voicemail inquiring, “Hey Pops, would you be available to watch the kids [grandkids] this ???? day or night?”
Of course, as I always eagerly adjust my schedule to make the quick hour trip by the memorized highway mile markers, I realize I’ve become that traditional figure of the patriarch presence. Along the way there’s always been a my time: my time to be in college, my time to be a young father, my time to develop a career, my time to encourage the family – college, leaving home, dating and marriage and families of their own; and now, my time to be a grandfather! Life is such a joy!
This is also my time to memorialize this chapter in my/their life. I love it! So, even as David and The Giant have become a family focus, the deepening experiences with Ella have also become giant milestones. I really wanted to title this post, “This Doesn’t Belong To You,” as I learned lessons from Ella last month: catching and savoring the appreciation of its interpretation.
With baby David back in the Children’s Hospital frequently this winter and the young parent’s schedules demanding, I was invited again pick up Ella from Day Care, be the overseer of the household early in the evening, stay the night to help with schedules in the morning and visit David at Children’s Hospital the following day.
So, with some after school suggestions from mom [and Ella] I took my part as grandpa . . . doing a little cleaning around the kitchen, playing in the back yard, playing with [pushing] the back yard swing to “go higher Pops,” and planning the gourmet Mac N’ Cheese dinner – actually snooping to see what mom had planned cooking in the slow cooker – I decided to look in the freezer before dinner to see if there remained any of the small ice cream Dixie Cups [which I purchased for Ella on a previous trip] and make a treat suggestion following the Mac N’ Cheese main course. When I found a couple of them left in the freezer, I was faced with a bold and quick, “Those Don’t Belong To You Pops!” Laughing silently almost uncontrollably, I was reminded of those traditional possessive or [territorial] traits inherent in a 3 year old. I’m sure you can relate. Those things important would be listed as her room, her clothes, her friends, her toys, her mom and dad . . . and yes, her ice cream Dixie Cups! But, more personal to me – before the visit and trip was over the next day – “her Pops!”
Both mom and dad had early morning obligations, practically before the day broke, leaving Pops and Ella to follow some written instructions before making the trek back the Day Care in the morning. BUT, we decided to break from tradition [and instructions] and partake with a little spontaneity: an impulsive and memorable experience of dining out, or I should say dining in, for breakfast at McDonald’s! What a way to start the day: pancakes and syrup, sticky fingers and bare feet in the play area. WOW!
It must have been that several young families had the same idea that morning! The counter lobby at McDonalds was crowded . . . I mean “standing room only” with parents and kids about 7:30- 8:00AM. And, as we stood waiting patiently to order our breakfasts, pressed among strangers and personalities, Ella fidgeted at my feet – in sort of a determined sort of way – in that hugging my leg tightly, or firmly grabbing the denim seam in leg of my blue jeans, to pressing tightly against me in the sight of those crowded strangers! Was she wanting/needing protection and security or was she protecting me, I thought, as the exercise became fairly intense . . . but then of course Ella is generally intense – LOL! Soon I got my answer . . .
Looking up and staring me right in the face, there was a determined and affectionate, “Could You Hold Me Pops!” So, I picked her up and held her in my arms; we would be the next in line to order. It wasn’t the expected gesture of putting her little head on my shoulder and neck to hide from the quick study of the nervous lobby reality. NO! She chose rather to position herself with a half turn to the crowd, almost a power position, staring into the eyes of her would be saboteurs! NO! She had actually elevated her position . . . and I knew her defense: “He doesn’t belong to you! He’s my Pops!”
To “dine in,” . . . she chose McDonald’s pancakes and syrup, chocolate milk, parfait and miniature cinnamon sticky buns . . . Pops, got just an Egg McMuffin and a small cup of coffee!
As we sat at a quiet little table in the play area, I could see her side of the table covered with her assorted and abundant breakfast as she gazed, fixing her eyes, on at my lonely cup of coffee and Egg McMuffin. “Those don’t belong to you,” I said. LOL! Turnabout Is Fair Play! Her quick smile, smirking little grin and purposed little laugh let me know she knew she’d been caught in the cross fire . . . LOL!
In a few minutes and it was time to go. “Can I get some cookies for my friends at Day Care, Pops,” she asked? “Of course Ella,” I said, “cookies for friends belong to them.” What a fun trip! And just think, Pops is only 70 miles away!!
Today, I’d like to thank Ella for the lesson! When I put my arms around Ella and David, I’d like to say to all of the other unrelated grandparents out there, “They don’t belong to you!” Nope! They’re mine!
I know it’s just where I belong . . .

The teenager

Yes readers, you’re right, I am too young to be the parent of a teenager.  Well, really, I’m not too young but I am not the parent of a teenager.  A passer by my home last night may have thought differently.  The conversation went like this:

 

Jason: “Ella, if you’re going to watch a show, you need to sit, not jump on the couch.”

Ella (still jumping and unresponsive)

Jason: “Ella, you’re spilling your snack.  Sit down.”

Ella (sits on the coffee table, spilling snacks as she goes) “Ok daddy.”

Jason: “Ella, you know we don’t sit there.  Get down.”

Ella (ignoring him, eating snacks and trying to look around him at her show)

Jason: “Ok Ella, no show.  You need to go to your room and think about how you didn’t listen to Daddy.”

Ella runs to her room and slams the door.

I continue making dinner.

Ella comes out a few minutes later.

Ella: “Mama, can we talk?” (Proud mama/therapist moment; I’m always asking her to talk about her feelings.)

Me: “Sure, sweetie.  Do you want to talk about how you didn’t listen to Daddy?”

Ella: “Um, no.  I wanna talk about Daddy is crazy.”

Me: (Trying not to laugh) “Well, that’s not true . . .”

Ella: (interrupting me) “Ok, mama, I have my bag and I’m going to go find another family.”

She sets her princess treasure chest on the counter and starts showing me what she packed.

Ella: “Mama, I have my princess nightgown and my princesses and my lip bop (chapstick in Ella speak).  I am going to leave and find a new family.”

Jason: “Ella, Mommy & Daddy would be really sad if you left.”

Ella: “Ok, David can come and Mama can come.”

Me: “Ella, Daddy would miss us. ”

Ella: “Ok, Daddy can come too.”

Me: “Well, if we’re all going than maybe we should just stay here with our family.”

Ahh, the fickle ways of a teenager, I mean, a toddler. Or really, is there much difference between the two?
 

I truly thought I had a few years before she packed a bag and threatened to leave.  How in the world did my mother ever take me seriously those few times I tried the same thing?

The charge

Am I the worst blogger ever?  Or maybe just the best mama ever?  Really, neither of those are true, but my sweet boy has been home for 5 days and has spent many minutes and hours of those 5 days in my arms, so my blog and writing inevitably took a backseat.  I have lot of stories and words in my head, but they all seem to disappear with just one smile from this one:

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Or when this happens: (they really are hugging – promise)

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Or when Ella wants to hang out with me:

ImageSee why it’s hard to focusing on blogging?  Life happens.

So, today I’m purposeful, focused and hopefully back on track.  I’m taking a page from Shauna Niequist again (either imitation is the sincerest form of flattery or I’ll be issued a restraining order soon).  But seriously, this woman is good, really good.  Who can read her words and not be inspired?!  And it helps that being purposeful and charging forward falls right in line with All In,  the book by Mark Batterson our small group has been studying this year.  I love this book because Mark speaks to who both Jason and I are at our core.  I am a dreamer and impulsive and will charge headfirst into almost anything; reacting first, thinking later.  Thank the Lord for giving me level headed Jason.  He thinks first, is purposeful, and logical.  He makes me calmer and wiser and I like to think I shake him up just enough.  He didn’t plan to marry a tall, blonde (ish), lover of over-celebrating everything, and although he rolls his eyes, I know he’s secretly happy to be along for the ride.

So, what’s next?  It’s a little late in the year for resolutions.  And besides, this year I focused on my un-resolutions.  But, a quarter of the year is over and that’s as good a time as any to reevaluate where I’ve been and where I’m going.  So, thanks to Shauna, I’ll spend the next few months of 2014 focused on:

How can I use what God’s given me to make the world better, brighter, more beautiful in this season?

And thank you Mark Batterson for adding just enough of a challenge and an edge to make me leap forward:

We can all be tempted to give up on something we know God wants us to pursue.  His will can be hard, and we can simply wear down and throw in the towel.  Check mark ONE area of your life in which you believe God wants you to CHARGE forward and then write ONE practical step you can take to move ahead.
– Your marriage
– Your finances
– Your health- An addiction you deal with
– How you relate to one of your children
– A goal you need to set
– A kingdom cause you need to enter into
– Another area ____________________

We heard tonight that the toughest step is the first step, go charge it!

The weather is spring like, my children are both under one roof and school is over for Jason next month.  That seems like as good a reason as any to charge, dive, jump and skip onto the next adventure.  Stay tuned!