Goodnight Home

The windmill stained glass window caught your eye the moment you walked in the front door. Sure you may have stumbled over the uneven flooring of the front porch, but isuoyn2bqy677e0000000000inside…inside the house was stunning. Over a hundred years old with built-in bookshelves, dark hardwood floors, and a back “secret” staircase, the most important thing about the house was that it first held our boys (and a couple foster girls along the way as well….one dog…countless not very hardy goldfish and a beta named Lightning McQueen who had amazing stamina).

A house is a house. Bricks are bricks. Wood is wood. But when a baby enters, a special kind of mystery takes place and memories are laid down deep within your heart.  The location of the bassinet. The crack of the bathroom stained glass from a well-placed kick. The corners where the boys hid. The games of hide-and-seek and monster’s going to get you! The walls become a home. The ceilings, the skies of your dreams. The kitche, the center of life. The bedrooms, the source of peace.

is6abdz8in5vad0000000000And yet, when a baby enters a dwelling, the world shifts. The priorities change. The once “easy access” street becomes the dreaded high-speed danger trap. The easy to maintain stamp back yard quickly becomes too boring and inadequate. And the worry of school choice and the need for better options gradually stalks close enough to you that you suddenly you wake up to boxes and plastic bins and moving vans and men who don’t really know anything about safe moving except that they needed the job that day.

After years “on the market,” my sister and I closed on the old Victorian house today. The next rambunctious little boy entered tonight. He’ll pick his room. He’ll unpack his “loveys” and his little cars and scatter some Legos across the hardwood floor to help his mom feel right at home. He’ll probably fuss for a bit. He’ll probably need some lights on for the ceilings are high and the shadows are deep. But soon he’ll find the scratches on the doorframe. Soon he’ll hide in the front closet. Soon he’ll wait for the wild raspberries out back to ripen. Soon he’ll know that those walls are his home. Soon he’ll be laying down memories to cherish and share and laugh about with family.

Goodnight great big house.

Goodbye wonderful home.

Thanks for the incredible memories.

Thank you, dear sister

Our Family
A circle of strength and love
Founded on faith….
Joined by love
Kept by God
Together forever

 

To my sister,

Thank you for the Willow Tree figurines of my three boys this Christmas. More importantly, thank you for my three boys.

You started this journey eleven years ago during whichour-family we fell into adoption and flew into love. I still remember nervously standing around a bassinet of two-day old Super Tall Guy, waiting for the social worker to find some clothes for him to wear out of the hospital. We walked to the car swinging him in the car seat unable to talk other than whispered “Oh my goodness.” I stared into his eyes while you ran to the store for bottles and formula and diapers and baby wipes. What had we gotten in to? Leaping by faith to into a family.

I broke your heart once. Probably more times than that, but once in a big way. It was the day I was sitting in my office chair and looked up at you standing there innocent and announced that I needed clarity on being a mother. I couldn’t share mothering. I wanted Super Tall Guy to be mine despite having both of our names on the adoption certificate. I needed there to be just one mother. I was naïve. I was strong-willed. I pushed the limits of our love, but you held firm. You sacrificed and continued to love me. We learned to be independent yet together.

And I divorced you once in a house of five young boys. We sat on the hard wood floor of the second-floor bedroom and divided the children’s books into yours and mine piles. We clung to memories of books that mattered to our mother-hearts. We snapped softly at each other. We made lists of books we were determined to replace as they clearly meant so much to us. It’s been two years. I haven’t found my list. I haven’t replaced the books, because it wasn’t the books that mattered, it wasn’t the toys that mattered, it wasn’t the Christmas ornaments that mattered; it was the sadness of separating. It was the reality of beginning to parent on our own. It was the fear that dug deep within us. And yet, two years later, we hold together as a family. We rely on that bind. We trust that bind. We are still in it together.

boy-figurines2“The Caring Child” – Super Tall Guy – strong and huge with occasional explosions of rage, but deep within there is such a soft tenderness.

“The Inquisitive Child” – Mr. Ornery – always wondering how to push the limits and whether that line in the sand was really meant for him or for someone else.

“The Kind Child” – the Little Guy – overflowing with love and kindness, ready with a smile and a story, eager to meet the world and charm the skies with his eyes.

Each beautiful boy a gift of God. Each beautiful boy a gift to my life. Each beautiful boy so touched by the love that you share with them as well as with your own three boys. Each of us touched by being part of our larger family.

Thank you for my boys. Thank you for being my family. Thank you for being in this together forever. No matter what.

Love,

Your sister

Advent Week Three into Four: Fighting for Joy

 

adventChristmas is always my favorite time of year. I think I just like lights…on trees, on bushes, on houses, on boys’ bunkbeds. They seem to emanate a feeling of peace and comfort. But the end of this year has been pretty bumpy and it’s been hard to capture any peace.  It could be the endless roll of medical visits for my three boys (two fractures, bead in the ear, strep throat, medication checks, flu shots) or the endless saga of behavioral crises that my sister’s boys are wrestling with as the year comes to a close.

It could be the pervasive sense of sadness that settled in in early November when less than half of the voters still triumphed. It’s impossible to see any Joy in the one who is to be our new leader, yet who is so far from a Christian role model that I want to shield my sons from all news until this crisis is over.

It could be the deluge of photos showing the reality of hundreds of thousands of innocent people dying in Syria. It could be the feeling of powerlessness as a hurricane wipes out lives and livelihood for thousands in Haiti.

It could be the unpredictability of violence in the neighborhood, the financial drain of a house still sitting on the market, the uncertainty of funding at my current employment.

It could be a lot of little irritants throughout a day. It could be all-consuming disgust and annoyance. It could be boys who squabble, or whistle in the car, or throw remotes in frustration, or roll around on a kitchen floor to trip over when trying to make dinner. It could be the slow slow slow plodding march every….single….night to shift three little brains from alertness to dream state. It could be any of a hundred of weights in a single moment.

But it could also be moments of Peace. (Nah, that’s only when they’re asleep). It could be moments of Love in the notes Mr. Ornery writes to say he’s sorry. It could be elfmoments of Joy in watching Super Tall Guy in his first performance playing the saxophone. It could be moments of Hope in the excitement of The Little Guy waiting for Christmas (and expectantly looking for the elf that the babysitter likes to hide).

 

It could be all these moments if the focus is in the right place. For there is only One from whom Peace passes all understanding, Love surpasses knowledge, Hope yields eternal life, and Joy fills the soul. Only one.

May we all seek and find that Joy, Peace, Hope and Love this moment, this day, this year and into the next.

Merry Christmas to All!tree

 

 

Advent Week Two: Who is in control?

The Candle of Preparation

“Do you or do you not have a bead in your ear?” I asked the 7-year-old for the hundredth (almost literally) time. I couldn’t decide which side of dragging children to the Express bead-in-ear-wpCare again I wanted to lean on. The otoscope at school apparently wasn’t working when the school nurse called me Thursday to explain the situation. My 25+-year-old otoscope also wouldn’t charge up so I couldn’t confirm Mr. Ornery’s story and given his orneriness, I couldn’t read his face. Was it worth going out another evening this week to check the ear?

The problem was, the week was just not going the way I had hoped. My idea was that it would be my final week of “preparation” for my once-every-ten-years required pediatric recertification examination. Having taken the internal medicine exam in October, I had been studying almost every day of the week since summer when I sat with a thick book in my lap at the pool. Now I had just a few more days of cramming small details into my brain and I wasn’t feeling ready.

Does he look like he ever slows down?

Does he look like he ever slows down?

But Monday was consumed with the fact that copper pipes were stolen from the basement of the house we’re trying to sell, necessitating quite of bit of work that my sister coordinated. Tuesday was the Little Guy’s orthopedic appointment (“When the cast comes off after 4 weeks, he’ll need to lay low for another 4 weeks” Um, have you met my Little Guy?!?). This was followed by a grand-slam knock-down homework battle prior to heading to a friend’s for dinner. Wednesday evening was karate. Thursday was going to be our evening at home so Mommy could settle and prepare for her test…..or head to Children’s Hospital Express Care.

Friday morning, the day of the test, started with running late to the bus stop due to having to rescue the neighbor’s locked-outside dog, followed by cleaning dog do-do off Super Tall Guy’s shoes, and culminating in finding out there was a conflict with the babysitter’s schedule at the end of the day which needed some childcare juggling as I would still be in my test. Keep it coming.

As hurdle after hurdle rolled my way, I realized that the preparation I was supposed to be doing the second week of Advent was laying all those burdens before the Lord. God was reminding me that there are many things in this world that I have no control over (and most clearly not the 3 little ones who live under the same roof with me!) and yet, He remains in control. As the things of this world – the big and the little – whirl around us and push and pull us, there is one thing that remains true forever. God is in control.

Advent Week Two – Preparation for what God has in store.

 

 

Advent Candle of Hope

Sunday was the first day of Advent. My boys don’t really care about the “anticipation” and the “waiting” for Jesus. They care about the wreath on the dining table that has candles on it. Candles can only mean one thing – the chance to fight about who gets to light the candles and who gets to blow them out. That’s what Advent is to them. Though they did learn last year that Mommy means what she says – keep fighting, keep arguing, keep driving me nuts, and that wreath disappears!!

So we sit down to a fine dinner of spaghetti and meatballs Sunday evening and light the first candle – the candle of Hope. I ask each one what they are hopeful for – and no, that particular Christmas gift does not count.

A couple hours later, during a typical wrestling match, Mr. Ornery apparently delivered a well-executed sweep kick that crashed the five-year-old to the floor. I did not witness said move as I was in the kitchen, doing what all single moms do after a meal – hiding and praying for a moment of quiet. But no, the Little Guy is screams in pain, and his unempathetic mom gives him a kiss and an elbow rub and a “get over it” look and we’re ready for bed, guys! After all, it is bedtime and sleep heals all wounds.

And what I realize in that moment is that all I’m hoping for this Advent Season is a moment of peace….which is not to be.

So here’s this year’s list of Advent Hope.

  1. Hope for just a few evenings of quiet to sit on the couch and stare at the tree lights.
  2. Hope that the hurt elbow heals up by the morning. This Hope, however,sam-cast2wp was replaced with Monday evening at Express Care and Tuesday afternoon spent in the Emergency Room for a lovely HUGE cast! (Mind you, on the same day, Super Tall Guy finished his 3rd week of boot-wearing after 3 weeks of casting. One out of a cast and one into a cast! Delightful.)
  3. Hope that this fracture train will end and the third boy keeps his bones intact! (He seems to hold the opposite hope, as these casts apparently to draw pretty cool attention according to his logic!)
  4. Hope that the dog will never ever ever again bark from her crate in the morning and wake me up on my golden morning of sleeping in as she did last Sunday! Really, dog?!?
  5. Hope that the boys will develop a much better aim for bodily fluids because I’m in-toiletgetting pretty tired of being the janitor (or else their hands are going to be cramping with writing assignments! “It’s 50 this time but it’s going to be 200 next time!”)
  6. Hope that we get a few more nice evenings to enjoy my early Christmas gift of a fire pit on the front patio (and again, not struggle with “behaviors” related to messing with fire!).
  7. Hope that there will be more dull moments this season – when the to-do list isn’t rumbling around in the back of my skull and the hype isn’t stirring up the boys’ inability to control impulses – and that we actually enjoy the days and each other (I know, too much to hope for, but I’m going to try).
  8. Hope that I can instill some meaningful traditions into this season where the boys catch a glimpse of the true meaning of Christmas and think about others for a few seconds; I’m only asking for a couple seconds.
  9. Hope for the world and all its people to find some peace and know that Christ is the Light of the world that disperses darkness.
  10. Hope for continued love and support of family and friends, and for patience….lots of patience….I need lots of patience…..

Hanging out in the “Accident Zone”

I’m pretty sure Children’s Hospital Express Care should know our names by now. If you’re parenting three boys, you’re just going to be engaging the health care system…a lot!

Looking around the waiting room on a Friday night, it felt good to be getting out of the fever, cough, cold, respiratory stage of needing a doctor. But we seem to have moved into the “accident” stage of life. Last week, it was a 1 inch dog bite under The Little Guy’s eye from his aunt’s busy-with-my-bone dog. We spent the next ten days with some antibiotics.

Two weeks before that it was a painful swollen ankle of Super Tall Guy mat-xrayafter he twisted it jumping on a bounce-house type jump pad. Not wanting to deal with crutches and school the next morning, I finally convinced him to go with me to get it checked out. Expecting an ankle aircast for a “sprain,” we walked out with a boot and an appointment for orthopedics.

A couple days later when the orthopedist suggested a cast instead of the walking boot, I agreed whole-heartedly. I know boys. Anything removable will be removed. Clothes. Soiled diapers during nap time. Seat belts in the middle of a long highway journey. And velcro-fastened walking boots.foot-boot

I also know that there’s no stopping my boys. Two days after the cast was applied, my sister texted to ask if Super Tall Guy could jump on the trampoline with the cast. “Um, no.”  “That’s what I told him, but he said his mom said he could.” He still rides a bike and a scooter through the neighborhood. I’ve called him down off the roof of the tree-house. Other than maybe shortening the trick or treat time from 2 hours to one hour and forty-five minutes, I haven’t seen much change in this boy (except to ask for glasses of water and dinners to be brought to the couch!).

Injury only has two days of “coolness,” though. mat-castThe first day is an opportunity to show off the green-casted foot to all the kids in the neighborhood. Ohhh. Ahhh. The next day is the sympathy at school and the offer to be at the head of the lunch line.

But on day two, the anger sets in. The annoyance at the itch down deep inside (“you must go buy me a hair dryer now, Mom. She said to use a hair dryer.” It’s nine o’clock at night, buddy. We’re going to bed.). The frustrated tantrum of wanting it off and banging the cast against the wall in an effort to shatter the plaster.  I consider the $85 cost of replacing the waterproof liner if we have to redo this cast and the damage to the wall as I angrily respond; that is, until I pause and remember that it’s day two. Day Two is nightmare zone, whether it’s during vacation at the beach or the start of a long recovery process. Day Two is when the excitement comes to a screeching halt. Always be prepared for Day Two.

And yet, two days moved into two weeks and then three weeks and the cast came off. The nurse practitioner smiled and said, “Keep it in the walking boot for 3 weeks and then see how it is.” See how it is? The kid just took off the walking boot off 10 days later to “skate” at the indoor slide-skate park!! Remember, “removable” splints and bandaids and velcro boots and so much more are, in fact, removable!

I’m not sure who is more miserable when a kid breaks a bone, but I can assure you that we’d all like to get out of the “accident zone” of medical visits.

 

 

Why It Matters: I Choose Love

I’m not just going to get over it. It matters to me.

I didn’t sleep Tuesday night. I lay in bed checking the electoral count every 5 minutes. When the Associated Press called it, fireworks went off in my neighborhood. For the first time in a long time, I felt fear in my heart. Gunshots in the neighborhood a few weeks ago did not even compare to this fear. Fireworks to celebrate the election of a man who for over a year has publicly spewed words of hatred and anger, racism and sexism, disrespect and disregard for thousands upon thousands of people, this act of celebration pierced my heart.

In the morning, my eldest son woke up. Having followed the election from the periphery, he knew that Trump was unkind, but he certainly didn’t know the depth of it all. When his eyes opened, I said, “Son, Trump was chosen.” “Oh, okay,” he replied. I said, “No, son, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was just elected our president.”

“Oh, that’s bad. Very bad.”

This is not about taking “sides.” This is not about policies and politics. This is about choosing dignity and who will represent Americans to its own citizens and to the face of the world. #notmypresident is the cry that this man does not represent the feelings and passions of so many people. And I cannot tolerate disrespect and violence against my children, my family, my friends and my fellow humans.

I can not tolerate that my 7-year-old scribbled this note and tried to hide it in his room one night this week. When I asked him about it, he replied, “Because I am stupid.” And the pain touches me and I wonder where he is hearing these words that pierce his soul.nate-name

As I lay there into the early morning hours of Wednesday, the words below formed in my heart and I jotted them down. This morning (Sunday), I asked my ten-year-old to write the second half of the poem and handed him my computer.

Listen to his voice. This is why it matters to me.

When you walk in white skin
You stride through the world
Open doors and shake hands,
Look in people’s eyes with confidence.
When you walk in white skin
You feel safe, respected, untouchable
Assuming that you have the right to what you want.
When you walk in white skin
You say “I am not racist, I don’t even notice the color of skin,”
Because your eye has already seen the flesh upon your arms and it is content.

When you walk in white skin
You must force yourself to consider a walk in the shoes of another….

For….

When you walk in black skin…

Kids pick on me!
“Your black and I am white so you listen to me” they say.
Someone punched me in the stomach!
Sometimes it bothers me
Sometimes I feel bad inside
Sometimes it makes me get mad
Sometimes it makes me get annoyed
Sometimes it makes me get angry
Sometimes I am lonely.

THE END

 

It’s not that I don’t accept a “change.” It’s that I won’t accept mistreatment of human beings who were created by and loved by the Almighty God. I will not accept evil.

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

It Matters to me.

love-quotes-darkness-cannot-drive-out-darkness-only-light-can-do-that-hate-cannot-drive-out-hate-only-love-can-do-that

I Choose Love.
On behalf of my boys of brown skin, I choose love.
On behalf of my family and friends, I choose love.
On behalf of everyone who is scared and hurting, I choose love.
On behalf of the oppressed, I choose love.
On behalf of you, I choose love.

 

micah6-8