Sunday, March 10, 2013

You are Beautiful

Grief is so real.  So real, that I've been unable to put it to words for so long.  I threw something out there when we first lost Jeanette, but then the deep pain set in, and words were amiss.  


That wretched day when we had the frantic call in the morning saying, "Not sure what's going on, but find a way to get to the hospital right away!"

I think of my trustworthy friend who lived within a five minute drive.  I don't even know what she had planned for the day, but I know she showed up without hesitation, and didn't let on to my children the inevitable tearing they would experience later in the day.  

It wasn't like we didn't know it was a great possibility, but it all happened so fast.  There was never a chance for her to fight this cancer beast.  So we held out hope, that though she was on a respirator, she would still breathe again on  her own soon...she would hold her grandbabies in her arms again soon.  

Now, soon feels so relative.  In the scheme of eternity, soon still exists.  Soon she'll hold them again, but to us, it feels like eternity is a distant goal.  

I walk in to the still calm room, hear the dreaded respirator, and see my sweet husband cradling his mother's hand against his cheek.  Her eyes catch mine.  I choke back the tears.  Afraid to look weak in her greatest battle.  Wanting to beg her to fight.  As if she hadn't already.  

I loved her.  I can't relate to those dreaded in-laws tales.  She was never that.  She loved and supported me, never criticized, and loved my children with a tangible love.  She was my friend.  She loved me like her daughter. 

Christy comes in and whispers in her ear.  Jeanette tries to communicate that she can't be that close because she feels like she's drowning.  But, we all just want to whisper something, to make it OK, to stop time from moving.  To keep her with us.  Yet, I've never seen such suffering.  Her eyes swollen from her body trying to concede.  Our kind pastor decides to leave for a while, but she knows she won't see him again.  She raises her hand and waves, knowing it's a different kind of "see ya later" this time.  Yet, she did it with a smile of peace in her eyes, not a look of fear or dread.

In the days prior, once we realized she was coherent on her respirator, we hung out together.  I started reading her Psalms, then stopped to ask if that was what she wanted.  She nodded "yes."  The words are full of power, hope, healing, and praise.  In her dying moments, she knew with full confidence that she had a Savior who loved her.  He was looking out for her.  He was her Hope.  He was her Healing.  I cry every time I think of her quiet strength, even in dying.  It was her way always in life, and it's how she left this world...full of quiet strength.  She didn't stop hoping to knew in her eyes that she desperately wanted to spare us this pain, but she saw it her eyes, she knew Who held her.  

Death is like birth  for a Jesus follower.  It's this painful process, but on the other side of that last earthly breath and heart beat, she opens her eyes and sees Him face to face.  And, like a baby, begins to explore her new surroundings.  Like someone loved, she knows it was worth it to believe.  

The doctor wanted to see the family in the other room to explain where Nana was in her fight.  It felt like a swirling room, where all I heard was Reta (Jeanette's mom, the one who's already lost two other of her babies to this Cancer monster) crying, heaving, desperately searching for the doctor to say something other than what she did.  And "blah, blah, blah....heart compressed, spread too fast...blah, blah,...nothing we can do."  Trembling legs, we make that last walk back to her room, where her beloved husband stood by her side...hours upon hours, he waited, paced, encouraged, spoke dreams over her about their future together.  There he sat, saying, "I just want to scoop her up and hold her until it's over."  She...eyes still open...still searching the room for her children's eyes, her grandaughter's eyes, and even mine.  

Until the last few minutes, she was still communicating on her white board we had brought her.  Then, in an insensitive moment, when only myself and her son were in the room, a nurse came in and abruptly announced, "I'm turning off the blood pressure medicine now."  I searched her eyes.  She closed them, knowing it was coming soon.  I searched Joe's.  Pain.  Wretched, desperate pain.  I said, "Find your dad!"  Quickly, all family members were present, except for Reta, as they both knew they couldn't handle that together.  And the most beautiful moments existed, as each member told her they loved her.  Promising to see her soon.  Reminding her how good she was to us.  Allowing her to breathe new in her Father's arms.  Oh wretched pain! The beautiful release.  Such a juxtaposition.  

Today as I listened to a song we had used in her funeral, I was overcome with grief and hope of the future.  Such sorrow to lose such a gem, such beautiful hope to know what she experienced in that moment...well, as well as I could possibly know.

As it says in Phil Wickam's "You're Beautiful," 

I see You there hanging on a tree
You bled and then You died and then You rose again for me
Now You are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
You're beautiful, You're beautiful

When we arrive at eternity's shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We'll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we'll sing
You're beautiful

So thankful that we have hope.  

The other song that is similar in meaning, and messes with me every time is, "10,000 Reasons."  

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
10,000 years and then forever more

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I worship Your holy name
You saw it in her face while on that respirator, and asking for Scriptures.  She wasn't angry.  She wasn't afraid.  Still her soul sang, "Bless the Lord."  She always wanted to be a good singer.  Now she truly "sings like never before!"


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Beautiful Honor

Joe is amazing with words.  If he could figure out how to get out of business world, he would be a full-time writer.  He's gifted.  I get googly-eyed when he writes, or shares what God has told him.  

When his mom shifted to eternity, he knew he wanted to honor her with a eulogy.  So hard though.  This is his mama.  How do you write it without becoming downright depressed?  How do you say it to a crowd and still be understood?  He did a very nice eulogy for his granddad a few years ago.  But, Ed had lived to 92.  While we were sad to see him go, it wasn't as shocking, and at 92 you can accept that "he's lived a good, long life" sort of thing.  But, your mom who only lived to 61, and who you're so close that's hard.  

He managed to take a few quiet hours throughout the week before the funeral and get some thoughts down.  I heard it for the first time at the celebration service.  It was amazing.  I love that man. 

This tribute is something we all can hope to live up to.  Enjoy his words....

If Nana thought something was funny.  I guarantee you would laugh too.  Not because you necessarily thought the same thing funny, but because her laugh was like wildfire on a windy day.  Once it started in earnest, there was no stopping it.

My family laughs a lot.  In fact, many of you who have been near us during this journey know that humor is never really off limits to us.  It sometimes produces somewhat awkward moments.  We have always felt that laughter is as sacred as tears.  But Nana’s laugh was its own thing altogether.  It would shake her entire body so hard that everyone around her would either have to start laughing too or simply leave the room.  In fact, the rest of us usually forgot the original joke.  We just knew that Nana was laughing and that was funny enough.  That laughter is definitely one of the things that heaven holds for me now.

She had a certain hard working practicality, a mark of the oil patch that she was born on.  As a child, she heard her father complaining about how badly the road on the oil patch needed to be repaired.  So she wrote a letter to Boots Adams who was the CEO of Phillips Petroleum at the time without her father’s knowledge.  That road got fixed and Boots Adams himself came out to see that it was done properly.
Adversity was no stranger to her.  But when it came, she didn’t spend much time complaining, she just started fixing the road, even if it meant getting her hands dirty.

Nana lost her dad as a teenager.  She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as an adult, which is rare.  That means that it went untreated for quite some time.  It eventually ruined her kidneys and required dialysis, by the time I got married she was a post-transplant patient; a recipient of a new kidney and pancreas.  Subsequently she contracted several sicknesses and conditions as either a direct result of the transplant or as a result of the weakened immune system that she was forced to live with.  She had more than one life threatening hospital stay, lots of pain, lots of low energy, lack of appetite, and osteoporosis to the point of breaking a hip at the ripe old age of 52.  That is only a sampling of the challenges that presented themselves to Nana.

Sounds like a sickly person doesn’t it?  That’s the thing about Nana though.  She wasn’t sickly.  You would likely never know that she was sick.  However, she was very familiar with the valley of the shadow of death.  She knew the fellowship of Christ’s suffering.  Instead of being a cynic, instead of learning to expect the worst, she stood always in awe of the beauty of life.  Nana had the sensitivity of a prophet.  She had an artist’s soul, always confident that the world could inspire her again at the next turn.  She was keenly aware of the shortcomings of the world, but always resolute in her faith that the world was good at its core because the Creator of the world was good.

Maybe it was that oil patch again, but she could not abide pretense, and she could smell it from a mile away.  She had very little use for the religions of men due to their heavy reliance on said pretense.  She had deep abiding faith in her Creator and in His son Jesus.  She trusted her own soul and she knew the flavor of truth.  It was this restless insistence on finding truth that led my family on what started as a quest for a new church and ended in the living communion with the Creator that my entire family enjoys today.

This care for the sacred which was native to her soul meant that God entrusted her with many things.  Dreams, visions, stories, poems, flowed often from her, which many of you have never known about her.  A lot of people didn’t know a lot of things about Nana.  She spent virtually no time asserting the importance of who she was.  She was more concerned bestowing identity on those she loved.  She wanted to make sure we knew ourselves and our God more than wanting to make herself known.  She always understated her own impact.

That is why I MUST speak today.  I come to unveil a great mystery.  For 61 years, unbeknownst to many of us, we have walked with royalty.

Hers was a queen’s demeanor; always modest but never na├»ve, vigilant but unafraid, appalled at the violence of injustice but capable of a terrible vengeance should you threaten her keep.  If any of you were ever unlucky enough to criticize or threaten one of her children then you know this last part was true of Nana.

You could meet Nana on a Sunday afternoon sitting daintily at a baby shower eating tiny little finger cakes and having polite conversation and you would have no idea that earlier in the day she had been running a table saw, fixing a lawnmower, and helping put a transmission in a car.

Much of culture has taught us that a lady doesn’t fix cars.  A lady doesn’t mow lawns or run power saws.  That may be so, but then Nana wasn’t so much a lady as a real woman.

Nana taught me that a real woman doesn’t need the pretense of femininity.  She builds her life with her own strong hands on a bed rock of feminine strength that is there always; whether she is clad in dirty jeans or lace and satin.  That bedrock is a unique love that is at once gentle grace and ferocious intensity.  This is the mystery at the center of a real woman.  It is the deep magic.  It is God in her and it harkens back to Eden itself.  Some women search their whole lives for this deep mystery. They try careers, conferences, Oprah, whatever. Some women seem to extract it from the earth like oil as they go, like it comes naturally to them.  This was Nana.

She had an ancient sort of strength that came from the very center of her soul.  Her pride was not the sort that you wear on the outside or that needs constant affirming and preening.  It was the quiet sort that makes itself known gently over the years.  The kind of strength which needs no herald to cry it, no title to mark it, yet it whispers nobility with an insistence that will not be ignored.

To think that such greatness spent all of its strength on me and my sister and my father and many of you.  She gave and she gave and she gave.  It was her greatest honor to give to us.  What must that make us?

She listened while we talked.  She was at times a shelter in a storm ridden world.  She was at times a kick in the pants and a reminder to buck up and stop complaining.  Life may have come to her door full of all of its backhanded cruelty and vulgar inequality.  But you can all be sure that it left with a haircut and a set of manners.

In a world that has little use for ancient symbols or sacred rites, her life screams to me a lesson that she taught each time the flag waived, a soldier in uniform passed by, or the national anthem was sung: Honor the sacred.  I learned that from her.  To honor the sacred keeps innocence alive in your heart.

When my Grandma Reta, Nana’s mom, went into her hospital room after she had passed.  It was a terrible and holy moment.  Grandma held and kissed her hands and said, “your hands, such little hands.”

It occurred to me.  Nana’s hands will always be little hands to Grandma.  They will always be great big hands to me.  The hands that handed me life.  The hands that nurtured me and loved me first.  Great big hands.  Hands that loved many of you.
Hands that managed on her last night of life to sign one last time to my eight year old girl “I LOVE YOU”.

That was Nana.  She would give everything to make sure that you knew that she loved you.  That is the sacred secret that suffering had taught her.  Give everything you have and are to love those God has given you.  Her impact is unmistakable now.

So we rise, Nana and call you blessed.  The protector of innocence, the lover of life, perhaps the bravest person I have ever known.  You gave me a name, an identity, and a heritage for my children.  My roots grow strong out of the oil patch because of you.  Thank you. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Losing Nana

Much has changed since the last post.

Joe's mom, Jeanette, died on October 11th.  Her progression through cancer was so fast.  Unbelievably fast.  We were never given any predictions, and feared she was more sick than any doctor had realized, but never thought she could be gone so fast.

It's been a couple of weeks of shock, anger, sadness, denial, peace, joy, serenity, pain, loss, frustration, faith, togetherness, and acceptance.

Sophie had said a few weeks ago when Nana was put on a ventilator, "She's too young to die.  I'm too young to go through this.  I never thought I'd have to go through something like this."  As her parent, I tried to console and acknowledge that it's just hard.  But, in reality, I felt the same way.  I have kept this childlike faith that God somehow needs us on this earth still, and therefore his complete healing will come for all of us, no matter what we face.  I've always been glad that I've not had to face significant loss in my life, and naively believed it would stay that way for some time.  

Jeanette and I had similar dreams of beautiful houses in the country, watching the kids grow up, and loads of family together time.  In my perfect world, I envisioned owning property someday in the not-too-distant-future, where she and Pwa could build a house near ours, and maybe Christy too, if she wanted...and we'd make room for my parents if they wanted in on it.  And, I really felt good about that plan.  I felt God's pleasure in it.  And even in these last few months where she seemed to be struggling more and more, I looked forward to the times when she was post-treatment and I could lean on her again for help around the house, or to spend time with the kids, or even that I could call and chat about everything with her again soon.  Her cough had gotten so bad in the last couple of months, that I had stopped calling much because I didn't want her to go into a coughing fit again.  

When she got accepted into Cancer Treatment Center of America, we were thrilled.  Finally someone saw how weak and sick she was and just said, we need to hospitalize you to get you stronger so we can start treatment.  And she perked up for a couple of days.  They were trying to discharge her so she could start treatments.  But, a few nights into her stay, she started having really rough nights.  Joe's dad was with her non-stop.  On the last day she was in the normal hospital room, we took the kids up there to see her.  She was glad to see them, but was pretty out of it.  I was concerned, but we thought it must just be the Morphine she had just received making her seem that way.  She managed to smile at all the kids and kiss them each good-bye.  I went up to see her later by myself, and was pleased to see her much more alert.  She was laughing at the "funniest videos" show and enjoying herself.  I went home feeling better about her outlook, and frustrated that I allowed myself to be on this roller coaster based on how she was acting.

The next morning as we were loading in the car for church, Joe's dad called saying she'd had a really rough night and was in ICU, and they were putting her on a ventilator.  If he and Christy wanted to see her before she was sedated and unable to communicate, they better come quick.  

I can't explain the feeling of anxiety and dread in that moment.

While he was still on the phone, I knew something was wrong and told the girls in the car to pray.  It was an eternal moment.  One I'll never forget.  Jossie prayed with fervent passion, "God, show Nana how much you love her.  Give her peace and joy that makes her strong right now.  And just reach into her chest and grab that cancer and just flick it away!"  Norah and Sophie each prayed more solemnly that they wanted God to heal their Nana.  Then Sophie spoke up and said, "wait, I have one more prayer...God, it says in your Bible that you use the words of children and infants to stop the badness and bring healing, so we're asking that you please do that."  (That was from Psalm 8:2...I had taught it to her a while ago to help her see that God really cared about what she said, and that she had the ability to make a difference in her prayers...not realizing she'd remember it for this very purpose). Then they sang a worship song together (all on their own), "Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness.  Open my eyes, let me see.  Beauty that makes this heart adore you, hope of a life spent with thee. And here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that You're my God."  

By the time I got the kids dropped off with my amazing friends and made it back to the hospital, she was already on the vent.  She had some sweet moments with Joe and Joe and Christy, expressing her love, and acknowledging that her body was struggling.  I was so glad.  As the day wore on, she became more and more alert.  By that evening, she was using a white board to communicate her needs, or ask questions, like "Where's Jolly?" (A nickname for Joe's dad).  She never wanted him out of her sight, but was accepting when he was.  On Monday, they were talking about going ahead with chemo, to give her a chance to shrink the tumors and get off of the vent.  We took Sophie up to see her that night.  So glad we did.

She was AMAZING.  She struggles with people being sick sometimes, and struggles a lot with anxiety.  But, she and Nana had a very special relationship, and she was determined to see her.  She knew what to expect with the tubes, and her not being able to speak.  She marched right in there, hopped up on the chair next to Nana, kissed her hand and said cheerfully, "Hi Nana!"  Nana waved and smiled with her eyes.  Sophie and Joe and I sang a couple of songs over Nana: "Light of the world" and "Amazing Grace" with the last verse being our made up version of "sweet dreams, sleep tight, sweet Nana, good-night."  Not knowing, that this would be her last night.  As we were leaving and saying good-bye, Nana got Sophie's attention by waving, and then pointed to herself, then made an "L" with her hand, then pointed to Sophie.  

We all cried.

We feared she was saying good-bye with that "I love you."

The next morning came the call that her body was shutting down and nothing more could be done.  My amazing friends came over to the house and I rushed up there not sure what I'd find.  I felt terrible for this sweet lady in the elevator who asked if everything was OK.  I hesitated, not knowing if she was a patient or family member, but I guess everyone there knows this is a hard road.  I told her that we were about to lose someone.  She was quiet, but then gave me a hug.  Such a sweet place at that center, but it has to be so hard to see so many people die, when you're clinging to hope.  

That day went so fast.  I thought it might still be a day or two before she was gone, and maybe that's how long she could have miserably struggled while on full life-support.  She was so, so miserable.  And looked so much worse than the night before.  Just awful.  I never want to see someone struggling that much again.  Cancer is an evil that is beyond words.  

She was still alert.  She had been told by the doctors that there was nothing they could do, and she wrote on her board, "make me comfy".  She never looked afraid.  She looked ready.  She looked with love at her two children and her husband.  She gave me a knowing look as I came tear-streaked running into the room to hold her hand and say "I love you."  She waved a "see you later" wave to our sweet pastor as he left the room. We didn't realize that as soon as the doctor had the meeting with us explaining that there was nothing they could do, that they would come in and turn off her blood-pressure medicine.  They also gave her some Valium, and Pwa held her hand and explained that they were making her comfortable and we were going to tell her what we wanted her to hear before she couldn't hear us anymore.  And we did.  We told her how wonderful she was, and how much we would miss her, and how we knew our lives were bound to improve with her up there interceding for us all, and that we loved her so much.  And within about 10 minutes of the medicine stopping, her heart also stopped.  

You're just never prepared for a moment like that.  Or for the moments that follow, like funeral home arrangements, and picking out clothes for her body, and searching for jewelry, and bawling over her cute clothes, some still stained with whatever she ate last...and finding it all so precious...seeing the gifts your kids made for her, neatly stored in places of honor...needing to call her to ask her just one more question...needing to call her to laugh about how our husbands have been so goofy...needing to call to tell her about the latest illness or trip to the doctor with my kids, and hearing her sincere concern.  Just never prepared.  

I really, really loved her.  

I had this beautiful relationship with her, especially given that she was my mother-in-law, and those relationships by nature are not normally beautiful.  We were like best friends (next to her kids and husband of course).  We talked all the time.  She was there for me in so many ways.  The loss is huge.  

Jude still watches for her to come in when Pwa walks into the house.  He hugs him, and then stares at the door.  He adored her.  They all did.  She was at everything they did.   

To add to this immense pain, is the fact that her 91 year-old, healthy and strong mother has now lost 3 children to cancer.  3 of her four children.  There are no words for that.  It's not fair, and it's not OK, and it never will be.  And yet, though I know her heart is broken, she never questions God.  Never.  

And I ache for all of them. For my sweet husband, who is a good man, and didn't deserve to lose his mama that he adored.  For my father-in-law and sister-in-law.  The loss for them is unfair.  For my kids, and Christy's kids.  Will they all remember her?  At what point will the void be so real and obvious to them?  Oh, how I wish she would have been at each of their weddings. 

And I want to sum this all up with some rosy conclusion.  But, I don't have it yet.  I am at total peace that she is truly in heaven and is happy, and gets to love on the Father face-to-face.  I don't doubt that reality for a moment.  I'm not yet resolved as to why it happened so soon though.  Still wrestling that one out.  I want to keep the child-like faith...I really do.

The only silver lining to her suffering so immensely in the end, was the opportunity to tell her over and over how loved she was.  She didn't want to go.  She wanted to be in this life, and watch those grand-kids grow up.  On the last day as Joe pleaded with God, he felt the Lord tell him He wanted to heal her completely and show her how much He loved her.  Lucky Nana.

The kids have handled their grief in different ways.  Norah was scared and upset for a few minutes, and hasn't said much more.  Jossie very quickly moved to just being happy for Nana that she gets to see Jesus, and gets a beautiful home in Heaven.  And since she knows Nana's with Jesus, and Jesus lives in our hearts, she's pretty excited to think Nana lives there too now, and we can just take her everywhere we go.  Sophie is a quiet griever, much like her daddy and her Nana.  She shows it in behaviors sometimes, but if you can get a quiet moment with her to push her a little in understanding the grief, she reveals things like: "Nana was going to teach me a few notes on her guitar.  I was really looking forward to that...sometimes when I need a sad moment, I just think about the guitar and I cry."

Me too, sweetie..Me too.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Couple of Funnies

Two funny stories:

First, Sophia was watching Dr. Doolittle 2 today.  Told me during dinner that it maybe wasn't a good movie, because they said some bad words.  I said with a bit of concern and regret for not screening it better, "like what?"  

"Oh, it's bad," she said.  "They said butt and COWARD!!"  Jossie says, "What does coward mean?"  Sophie: "OH, you didn't even know what it meant?!  I knew I shouldn't have even said it out loud. Jossie, it's really bad."  

She felt really bad about that word.  I love sweet innocence.  

Second.  This one is a sad reflection on me, but funny nonetheless.

The other day during homeschool, the girls were being a bit loud, not listening, etc.  I had to call Joe for some reason and told them to be quiet so he didn't hear them being naughty in the background.  Well, Norah thinks she'll use the moment to get her sisters to laugh (always way more important than obedience in our house).  So, she stands under me in the doorway looking at her sisters while I'm on the phone.  She has a play phone, and starts snapping her fingers with the phone on her ear, pointing to her sisters and says, "Shush yo moufs gulls! You want Daddy to heaw you?" (No 'r's for her.  I'm waiting til 2nd grade to see if she gwows out of it, because it is just so cute.).  

Oh my.  I blame Joe.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Trying to Laugh

Sometimes I laugh at the title of the blog being 'Family Laughs" and it seems like I haven't posted anything funny in so long.  We do still laugh, I just seem to never have the time to post about it before it drifts from memory.

Then there are moments in life where you just feel kicked...

My precious mother-in-law just found out she's diagnosed with lung cancer.  No further information yet.  Very frustrating.  She's been coughing and sick for almost a year.  She's had 4 biopsies before it finally revealed what we'd suspected for quite some time.  Though suspecting for some time, it doesn't make you prepared.  We had a host of other ideas of what it could fungal infection, bacterial infection, etc.  You're never really prepared to hear the word Cancer.  

It's been a roller coaster of emotions since Friday.  Trying to tell the girls that Nana's fighting a bigger battle than we'd hoped, wasn't easy.  Sophie asked some hard questions.  Norah asked if it grew like a plant.  Even tonight when praying, asked for those things to stop growing in her Nana.  Sophie asked God to heal her, "because she needs to get back to cleaning our houses!!"  She knew she was being funny, but also knows that Nana hasn't had any energy for some time, and she used to love just jumping in and is one of Sophie's favorite things to join her in when they're together.  They are kindred spirits in many ways.  They're both organized, melancholy, love deeply, Type 1 diabetics, find coloring perfectly therapeutic...I could go on and on.  

Joe's stress and gigantic expectations from others at work hasn't diminished in the slightest.  Life doesn't wait for an easy time to bring crisis.  And then you add that this is his Mama, and he really loves her.  Not fun at all. 

I don't believe this is the end for her, but I know this is going to be a difficult journey.

It's hard not to look at life as "not fair" sometimes.  Reta, Joe's grandma, who is also Nana's mom, has lost 2 sons already to cancer.  She's 91 and fit and vibrant...we've always joked that she's going to take care of all of us someday, in fact she's taken care of old people as her job up until a few weeks ago when she fell and broke her hip!  It pains me to think of what she must be feeling right now knowing her daughter has this beast to battle.  

I worry about my kids ability to handle the stress of it all.  It will be a time of growth for them.  They really adore her.  

Moments like this put it all in perspective.  We don't know our days ahead.  We never know if we have tomorrow.  We have to take each day to show love, to show grace, to extend forgiveness.  Family isn't ever perfect, but they're each worth being valued, enjoyed, adored.

I was so inspired by Jeanette (Nana) when talking to her briefly about it last week.  She said, "I only have today to pray through.  If I have tomorrow, I'll pray to get through tomorrow.  I can't let my mind go down the path of what ifs."  

Our God is a good and merciful God.  My friend reminded me of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when getting ready to be thrown in the fire.  They proclaimed that they believed their God was good and would save them, and that even if He didn't, they would still proclaim His goodness to the end.

So this is how we laugh in the face of pain and suffering: we still proclaim His goodness to the end.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


This may sound cynical, oddly enough, but I just don't like cynicism.  It's like poison.  And in this age of quick one-liners, arguing without accountability or face-to-face's rampant.

Now, I have been known to be guilty-as-charged in this regard.  I've gotten all heated in debate, even nearly caused deep damage to one of my most significant relationships due to this type of careless barb-throwing. I've done some soul-searching where that's concerned, and found that keeping my mouth shut and valuing relationships over being right is a better place for me to be.

However, I'm talking more about this general cynical attitude that is everywhere right now.  Not so much the discussing or disagreeing on ideas.  I wish I fully understood it all.  It seems to have a lot to do with being able to read an abundance of brief, barely researched articles that give barely authentic opinions, and then us developing barely researched and hardly authentic opinions based on the ease of reading these things.  Am I making sense?  Like, we're so all knowing because we can so easily read a plethora of info on the internet.  Rarely questioning it's validity or tainted slant.

I'm not saying all cynical people are lacking in knowledge.  They may be very knowledgeable.  Maybe they lack in wisdom.  The wisdom to know that they don't have to prove how much they "know" to everyone.  

When I read someone's thoughts that categorize everyone who disagrees as "narrow-minded," "stupid," "naive," "evil," etc., I'm really turned off by what that person has to say.  I suddenly think that person is rather "narrow-minded" to assume their position is the best way to think about it.  

Sadly, this is a really popular way to be in the Christian culture right now.  Anything that Christians used to take a strong stand  on is now "uncool" or "unloving" and so we throw around these elitist comments, degrading our fellow-believers as stupid, narrow-minded, evil, etc.  We can't just see elitist academia as the root of this type of thinking or perverting the public opinion.  We are doing it too.  And where is the love in that?  It's lost on me.

I think debate can be healthy.  

I think discussion and not even agreeing on everything is part of life...if done in relationship and with some accountability for your statements.  But, when the church turns on itself and ridicules itself...we are not looking any different than the world around us.  We've lost our real purpose...our real sense of Love.  

I'd love to hear thoughts from others...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another Great Made-Up Recipe!

I have been a bit creative this summer.  For one thing, I don't have a million places to be, and so I think about food more, and I enjoy cooking...other than when it requires turning on the oven when it's 110 outside!  Wish I were kidding!!  I've also been trying to be a better steward of my already purchased foods, without running back to the grocery store so often.  So, much less has been wasted around here...we're even eating our leftovers!!  Shocking, because that's just not our thing.  

But, leftovers there were not, because we loved this included.  Jossie of course exclaimed, "This is the yummiest meal ever!!" and had 3 helpings.  One thing about Jossie, is when she's eating, she's eating a lot!  She might skip a few meals, but when it's something she loves...look out!  Joe had to fight her off of the last little bit so he could have seconds.

So the recipe (approximations since I made it on the fly):

Thai Lettuce Wraps with Fried Rice

1 cup dry jasmine rice (cook according to package directions)
Soy sauce (I used Kikkoman low-sodium)
Ground Turkey (93% lean)
3 cloves minced garlic (divided)
1 large carrot
1/2 onion diced
1/2 zucchini diced
1/4 c. Newman's Own sesame ginger dressing
1/2 c. chopped peanuts
Lettuce for wrapping (large leaf like Romaine, green leaf, etc.)
1 egg.
1/4 tsp ground ginger.
2 packets Truvia

Brown the meat, and break it up.  Add 2/3 of the garlic, 1/2 of the onion, all of the zucchini, and grate half of the carrot into the mixture.  Add plenty of soy sauce, the dressing, the ginger (fresh would be better, but I didn't have any), and the truvia.  Add extra dressing or soy sauce to taste.  Add chopped peanuts at the end to warm through.  To serve: put lettuce leaves on plate, and a pile of meat mixture and some fried rice.  Let everyone fill their own lettuce and enjoy!  You could top with sliced scallions and chopped cilantro for added Thai flavor.

For the fried rice:

Warm a generous amount of olive oil in the pan (After what my pan looks like, I'm thinking stainless steel is not the way to go for this dish).  Dice the remainder of the carrot, and add to warm pan with remainder of garlic and onion.  Cook until softened.  Add the rice and let it brown some, stirring often.  Add plenty of soy sauce for flavor.  Make a hole in the middle of the rice mixture.  Beat an egg and add to the pan in the middle.  Scramble and stir into the rice.  Serve!  Also would be good with sliced scallions.


Homemade is always better.  Doesn't leave you with that heavy, preservative-filled, grossed-out feeling.  

Feel free to give me some comment love.  You don't have to make this recipe to comment.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Yummy Dinner

I am so not a food-blogger.  I just love food.  But, I won't be taking any pictures of what I've eaten with steam rising and a beautiful bouquet in the background.  Regardless, I find food good for the soul.  I don't have time for many essentials in my life, but cooking well and healthy make me feel like I'm doing well for my family.  And, selfishly, I just like yummy food.

I've been trying to increase my ability to feed us more organically.  The real motivation, is that I can justify baking sinfully good brownies if I've made sure our veggies have made it in our bellies.  The girls are good at trying most things.  Some days, Jossie will look at what I've made and cry and say, "It's the worst day ever!!"  Then I always force her to take at least 3 bites with me watching before she can talk me into a back-up plan.  Most every time she exclaims, "Mmmm... This is soooo good!  It's the BEST DAY EVER!!!"  

She vacillates a lot.

Tonight I wasn't sure if it would be a winner.  We recently discovered that they all like stuffed peppers (you know, with beef, rice and tomato sauce).  So tonight, I thought I'd make some, then realized one of my peppers was bad and that left me a little short.  So, a back-up plan had to be found.  Here it is:

Title:  I don't know??  Italian beef and pepper bake (Just throwing out an idea, you can call it whatever you want).

1 lb. ground beef (lean)
1 onion diced
2 carrots diced
3 garlic cloves diced
1 large red, orange, or yellow pepper chopped
Fresh tomato chopped.
1/2 of large zucchini chopped
1 jar marinara sauce (my favorite is Archer Farms)
Fresh herbs from garden (basil and flat-leaf parsley)
3/4 cup dry brown rice
Goat cheese (optional)
Can chopped black olives (optional)
1/2 bag of shredded mozzarella


Cook brown rice as directed.  Brown beef, and break up into small bits.  If beef is lean and pan is not dripping in grease then add onion, carrots, garlic, tomato, and pepper and saute until soft.  (If greasy, drain first).  The last few minutes, add sauce, zucchini, herbs, goat cheese, olives and heat through.  I don't like mushy zucchini, so that's why.  Add your cooked rice.  Pour into large cooking-sprayed corning ware dish.  Top with shredded cheese, and heat through til melted and bubbly in 350 oven for 10 minutes. 

It really turned out delicious.  Like, I'm really looking forward to lunch tomorrow.  And nobody claimed it was the worst day ever.  In fact, it went down with many comments about its yumminess.


Let me know if you try it, and what you think!

Monday, July 11, 2011

One of Those Days

You know...where all 4 kids have something funky going on.

Well, to be fair, Jude is perfectly healthy, but he got in a weird sleep cycle Saturday night and Joe and I took turns walking with him until he fell asleep for me at about 3 am in the living room.  But, not before he had woken everyone in the house with his crying.  His very tiring crying cycle occurred right after Juice. A. Moose came in and screamed loudly, "My ears really hurt!!"  

Sophie's been battling high blood sugars since the last day of camp.  I'm sort of at a loss at this point.  They discovered a crack in her pump, so I was told to call Medtronic.  Medtronic promptly sent us a new one...and it was purple!!  These sorts of things excite us.  If it's got to be worn...why not a new color?  And the purple is so pretty!

Anyway, I've upped her rate, changed her site twice, given her shot corrections, upped her rates, upped her rates, corrected...I don't know what to think to be honest.  Still no ketones, so I'm thankful.  It wears on me night and day though.  I'm constantly trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong.  Is she sick?  Is she growing?  Is the new pump not working?  Ugh!!  

Then, Sunday morning Norah woke up with a tummy ache and saying, "I need to go to da doctor!"  Drama is not in short supply around here, so I have to weigh out all statements with what I can see.  So, I gave her infant gas medicine, encouraged her to poop, gave her kale, gave her chocolate coconut milk...somehow convinced that it must have to do with poop.  It's a time-tested theory: child with tummy ache...must have to poop!  She seemed to feel well enough to go to church, so off we went!  Pulled into the parking lot and she barfed all over the floor of the car.  So, home we went!  

A little rest and some mac-n-cheese, and she seemed to be back to normal.  Played with her sisters in the pool for a while.  Then came in doubled over in pain, starting to have a fever, fell asleep on the couch.  Now I'm starting to worry.  I go google it, and keep coming up with possible appendicitis.  I'm thinking I'm overreacting, and also thinking I have mommy instincts for a reason...and this one just doesn't feel right.  Called a friend who's a doctor.  He was so helpful to listen to my concerns.  Called our nurse-on-call through our doc office..she said, "she's been in pain for too many hours, struggling to walk, crying out in pain in her sleep...we want to have her seen."  So, off to the E.R. at midnight we go.  Thankfully, they were not crowded, and well-run.  

But, poor sweet Noni-bear...oh, I felt for her.  She has a serious poker face.  If you know her, you know what I mean.  If she doesn't know you really well, she will not speak to you, will not smile, will not acknowledge you are saying anything.  So, the doctor is pushing all over her very sore tummy, and she just lays there not saying a word, blinking back the tears.  He said he could tell she was in pain by the way her body was resisting.  She peed in a cup and it came back urinary tract infection.  Yay!  Simple problem, no surgery.  I was a happy momma.  She was so funny all night though...well, as long as you weren't a stranger poking on her belly.  She chatted and talked about EVERYTHING.  Such a girl.  We were amazed at how much she has to say when she's not competing for attention from sisters.  

Then, this morning Jossie's ear was still really hurting.  "Mommy, it hurts to smile."  Well, we can't have Miss Joyful hurting when she smiles.  So, since my sis-in-law had driven down to stay with kids while we went to the E.R. last night, and was still there with us, I used the great opportunity to run her to the doctor sans siblings.  Swimmer's ear.  Glad I went.  So sore.  

Poor babies.

I'm pooped.  I hope they all feel better tomorrow.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Overload

I read a lot of books...all at once.  I started thinking about how many open and un-finished books I have laying around.  They're all practical in some way.  I love fiction, but find I'm an irresponsible parent when I open one of those.  I get so obsessed with what happens next and how it ends, that I won't put it down or tend to basic needs of my kids.  So, practical books in short 10-minute stints it is for me.  

I've found most of these books are themed around simplifying, and controlling the chaos in my life.  Maybe God is working on my heart in this area???

Here are the ones I currently have open.  I'll do my best to give a brief synopsis, but will likely butcher it.  And let's face it, I haven't completed any of them, so these aren't critiques for the most part.

1) 1000 Gifts, by Ann Voskamp.  I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!  It is absolutely life-changing.  She has been through the trenches.  Not a person who has developed a hokey theology based on something fluffy.  She very vulnerably shares her life and tears apart the scriptures to show where God has changed her outlook to one of constant thanksgiving.  This book has begun to really mess with me on days I want to complain.  She has done an excellent job at showing how we can trust God's goodness in all of life, even the painful parts.  She is a very poetic writer, and some of her sentences are so rich that I will pause there for several days to try to chew on it for a while.  

2) Organized Simplicity:the clutter-free approach to intentional living, by Tsh Oxenreider.   I haven't made it very far in this, but I like it.  She has some practical applications for decluttering, but her overall goal isn't just to make you purge your belongings, but to develop a life-purpose for your family.  Wouldn't we all live more fully if we actually thought about what was meaningful in our lives and wrote out a purpose...something we wanted others to see without reading, just by the actions we take?  Yes.  I haven't written one yet, but it is inspiring.  Of course, one episode of Hoarders on TLC is enough to make me want to throw away any meaningless thing in my life.

3)  Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family, by Mary Ostyn.  What I wanted when reading this?  Step-by-step plan and detailed schedule of how she keeps everything clean, everyone fed, everyone loved and happy, so I can stop trying to figure it out on my own.  It's not that.  It's an easy read though.  It seems to normalize the feelings of a mom with a larger family.  The looks and comments you get in public are universal, apparently.  Not that 4 kids is a huge amount, but in public you'd think it was 13 by the comments I get.  She does have some practical ideas that are really common sense, just not a detailed schedule that will take all guesswork out for me.  It's probably better that way.  In reality, when I see some moms schedules written out where they rise at 5 am, keeping every single minute structured until they lay down at 10 and "keep their husband happy," I get a little nauseous.  

4)  Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach, by Howard Glasser and Jennifer Easley.  This book has been truly transforming.  I sort-of wish the title were different, because when said "difficult child" reads the title, it's a little painful.  I told her the truth: it's actually about transforming the parent so that the child feels more loved and her needs are better met.  But, if they titled it in a way that it's meant to change the parent, probably nobody would read it, because we want to believe it's all our kids' fault.  I love this book, because it's helped us change the way we do things.  It's natural for parents to just get in this cycle of "kid acts up, parent punishes."  This book encourages "upside down parenting," where you notice everything your child does...not praise it, just offer neutral comments, like "I see you're coloring with a green crayon..."  It feels so unnatural at first, but it's amazing how quickly your child perks up with this.  It has to go beyond neutral "good job!" comments...they know those are neutral and not really noticing them.  Then, when they trust you more because you notice them more, you can implement a points system, and simple corrections when needed.  There are so many details in this book.  I am doing it a serious injustice.  It's a book filled with much wisdom and no guilt.  I like it so much that I've bought it twice.  Why?  Because I returned my copy to the library and they never found it.  Darn it!

5) Family Feasts for $75 a Week, by Mary Ostyn.  This is nice.  She gets healthy eating, and goes beyond couponing (which I just cannot seem to do), and gives practical ways to feed a big family.  I struggle with keeping down my grocery budget.  It is expensive to eat non-processed food.  This has 200 recipes as well.  I've only tried a few, but I like it.  Many of them are cultured, as she has 6 adopted children from other countries and wants to feed them food that will remind them of their first home.  Lots of tips in this book...I pick it up a lot when we're watching tv at night and I want to think of a dinner recipe or plan, or want a few tips.

6) Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream, by David Platt.  I literally just opened this last night, so I definitely can't tell you much.  But, I am moved by the first chapter...seriously moved.  I try to be a person who doesn't just follow all of our cultural norms, but I am amazed by what is written how much I've truly allowed myself to be shaped by our culture.  I decided to get this book when a friend posted on facebook that she had read it, went out and bought a house on auction, and wants to pay off debts and adopt as many children as possible.  It messed with me, so I bought it.  So far, he lists several of the things Jesus actually says, and how that looks like "radical abandonment," and even says, "We're settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves."  Ouch.  He also says, "We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with.  A nice, middle-class, American Jesus.  A Jesus who doesn't mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have.   A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that he receives all our affection.  A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just the way we are.  A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether.  a Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream."   I probably didn't make you want to read this book, I'm guessing.  I do not find capitalism evil, and don't expect to by the end of this book (because I don't believe that's the goal).  If not for people who make money, we don't have any to make a difference in the world, but I do expect to have a changed heart in what matters most to me...because I do love Jesus enough to figure out how to love Him more than me.  So there!  

7) Stepping out of Denial and Into God's Grace, by John Baker.  This is the first book in the Celebrate Recovery participant guides.  If you haven't heard of Celebrate Recovery, you should Google it and find out.  It's an amazing program targeted at everyone.  Basic premise is that we all have "hurts, habits, and hang-ups" and we can use our relationship with Jesus to find healing.  I have this amazing group of women that I meet with weekly (when it isn't summer), and we decided we could do this step-study together.  I started it thinking I really didn't have much to discuss, but God's amazing grace would tell me otherwise...that I have plenty to change.  It's so good to be open to change.  

This concludes a glimpse into what I'm reading and doing.  Have a nice day!

B is for Botatoes and Balogna

"B" is for "Botatoes."  Why?  The other night Jossie says, "Everything we're eating for dinner tonight starts with 'b'!"  "Really?" We reply.  "Yes," she says, "Beef, broccoli, bread, and botatoes!"

Big smile on the inside.

Joe enlightened her, of course.  

Oh, but those are the moments.  The moments you want to write on your heart forever.  Like the times when they laugh, and throw their heads back, and bat their cute long eye-lashes at us.  The moments where they climb higher on the playground and wait for your joy at their accomplishments.  The moments where they snuggle, and grab your face and say, "I love you sooo much!"  The moments when it hurts to look at them because you love them sooo much more!  The moments when the clothes they pick out look so awful, but they are so confident and happy in them that you just don't say anything.  The moments when they sing songs of pure joy, and make-believe.  When they spontaneously sing about how much they love Jesus while nobody's listening in the back yard.  

Those moments bring a joy that is hard to put into words.  

Now, why "B" for "Bologna?"  

The other day Yahoo! had an article about how "they've" discovered that people with no children are actually happier.  And that's where I give a resounding "Bologna!"  (Cuz I surely wouldn't use a more uncivilized word that starts with B here!  I won't lie, I'd rather).

What has happened to our society that we actually study and believe such things?  We are like frogs in a pot.  We don't even know that it has hit a boiling point.  What are our priorities?  Sure, it's easier to accomplish, go out to eat, socialize, make money, and feel important.

No doubt.

Don't get me wrong, I get that there are people who want children and can't, or are single.  Or maybe even think they are too messed up for kids.  I'm not really addressing those issues, because that's not what this article was about.  It was a general statement that children are inconvenient, burdensome, and even that they are financially just a "bad idea."  

There isn't much glory for the world in chubby dirty little fingers, and wiping noses, and comforting injured little toddlers.  Or in breaking up fights over who had the favorite Barbie first, or sending kids to time-out.  Not much honor in dirty houses because relationships with your children come first.  Not much excitement when you stay home most days and your greatest accomplishment looks like a shower and you fed the kids, and maybe you read a couple of books to them, and encouraged some math lessons.  Nope.  

The article talked about how important "me time" is.  I guess it's lost on me.  I'm not saying I don't get over-touched, or that I don't love going to the grocery store alone.  But, I have to fight with every fiber to not believe that I'm missing out on something because I don't take personal vacations, or have the nicest clothes, or get manicures, or care about the latest star news.  No, I actually like my kids. And for that matter like being around them.

I want them to enjoy being a part of our family.  I want them to feel secure and to want to spend their time with us.  I want their souls to prosper, more than I want a beautiful home and a life that is successful in the world's eyes.  

How do you study and tell the Yahoo! peeps that children teach you about how great the love of God must be for us, if it resembles and exceeds how much we can love these sweet souls?  How do you put into words the level of love, and how parenting isn't always easy or clear-cut, but it's always worth it?  It far exceeds the financial drain.

The problem with our society is narcissism.  It's such a problem that we don't even recognize it when it's diagnosable.  It's all around.  We thrive on this sickness.  On me-ness.  We reward it.  We use and manipulate others to get to the top.  We whine about all the things we don't have if people around us do.  It's beyond "keeping up with the Jones'"  Our self-love and adoration is producing such false studies as this one.  It's evidence for years has been seen in the ultimate sacrifice of children's lives.  We're taught that if you don't use responsibility in the first place, and wind up carrying one of these financial kill-joy babies, then just eliminate it.  Because it's all about your choice, and what you want, and what's convenient.  Two-thirds of all viable pregnancies in New York city are ending in abortion.  Does anyone see a problem with that statistic besides me?  Does it seem to have anything to do with our self-importance?

It's true.  It's never convenient to have a baby.  It's never easy.

I wasn't trying to get political here, that's not what I want from this blog.  I didn't even have the topic of abortion in mind when starting this entry, but in realizing the nature of why this article emerged, I can't help but see the trends in our convenient society.  And to be honest, I don't hate women who make that choice.  I hurt for them.  They've been lied to that it's not a big deal.  I believe for most women, that eventually the reality of ending a beautiful and innocent life haunts them and tears apart their hearts.  There is forgiveness for them, but it doesn't change the fact that most will eventually be tormented by their decision.

OK, major rabbit trail there...

Back to people who are "happier" for not having kids.  Do they know what they're missing when a baby's breath slows and comforts to the sound of your voice singing?  When he wraps his chubby fingers around yours.  When she giggles at everything you do?

And, oh those hugs.  Only reserved for Mommy and Daddy.  The special, lingering, trusting, undeserved, dependent hugs.

Sometimes it's hard.  Really hard.  Sometimes you have a child with an illness that requires any chance of "me-time" you could have dreamed of having.  Sometimes that illness is debilitating for life, and you love them all the same.  Sometimes those kids grow up to make bad choices, and those parents ache for their child's peace in life.  Sometimes a parent loses a child and their heart feels like it's been ripped from their chest.

Ask any parent if they would trade in all of the "me-time" and financial success in the world for the chance of avoiding that pain.

I don't know any.

Because they love and are deeply loved.  And that is happiness.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ghetto Immune

Remember my decision to be "Ghetto Woman" instead of trying to compete with "Pioneer Woman?"  Who can compete anyway?  She's just awesome.

Well, the ghetto lives on, and we continue to reside within.  I might be exaggerating a bit, as it's not really the ghetto, but there are a few homes that make me nervous.  (Obvious drug deals, late night heavy traffic coming and going, frequent visits from police, etc.).

The other day I was out watering my front flowers, which sadly are dying due to the ridiculous heat in June we're experiencing.  Anyway, I could hear a police search helicopter nearby.  You always know it isn't life-flight, because it doesn't just head in one direction, it keeps circling.  We live close enough to some shopping centers, that it isn't totally uncommon for one to be circling at night in search for a thief.  This was the middle of the day.  

You know you're immune to it all though when you just keep watering your flowers and the neighbors pull up and wave.  

Then I got a call from Joe while I was still out there saying there was a police standoff with some guy less than a mile away, who had fired a bunch of shots and carjacked someone.  OK, that was enough for me to say, "Kids, let's go inside."  

They, unfortunately heard my conversation and then needed to know all about the "bad guy."  For Norah, she was quite disturbed to know that "bad guys" were actually real.  They enjoy reading books with their Daddy like, "The Hobbit," "Narnia," etc.  She can handle those "bad buys" because they're fictitious.  But, to have to reconcile that there are people who make evil decisions and put others in harms way, that was a whole other ball game.

She said, "Mommy, kids really don't like the real scary things like, bears...lions...and real bad guys."  

Later at dinner the kids needed resolution for this story.   How much do you tell them?  The reality was, he had kidnapped someone, was in a police chase, pulled into Wal-Mart and fired about 15 shots in the store (not harming anyone), and then walked out and tried to carjack some foreign-exchange student from China, who refused to give him his car.  "Bad Guy" then shot the man and killed him in his car.  At this point the police are closing in.  He carjacks another family...lets them get out at least, and then tries to drive off firing shots in the air, and was subsequently shot and killed in the car by the police.

Maybe a bit much for the kids??

Norah's getting increasingly anxious at the thought of a real bad-guy possibly wandering around, despite my assurance without details that "he's no longer a threat, Honey."  We're sitting at dinner discussing and she looks at Joe and says, "You should shoot him wif yo' guunn."  

We don't call her "No-Mercy-Noni" for nothing!

Disclaimer:  Joe doesn't go wielding any guns around for the children to see, nor talk about such things.

Needless to say, when Joe assured her the police had already done that, she dropped it and never talked about it again.  

Life in the Ghetto...

It's complicated at times.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Craziness Example

This is just a follow-up to the last post.

After 3 days of numbers that pretty much stayed above 300, I was frustrated.  She was acting increasingly goofy, as in, lacking in self-control.  She did not have ketones, which is miraculous in itself.  She was not having any obvious sickness symptoms, which is a given that she'll have high numbers and need a higher insulin rate for a few days.  During that time, I had changed her pump twice, thinking I must have given her a bad site that wasn't absorbing well.  I had changed insulin bottles, thinking her older one maybe had gone bad for some unknown reason.  I had given her a shot to correct, to see if that would show me if it was her pump, or just her body needing more insulin than what I was giving her.  I had increased her rates to 120%, then 135% when that wasn't working, then 150% a few hours later.  When that seemed to do nothing, I upped it to 165%, and finally at 9 pm last night, after a few hours at 185% she was at 156 blood sugar, then 121 at 10:00.  I proudly exclaimed, "Hallelujah!"  Then when Joe tested her at midnight she was low, and that was with me dropping the rate down to 170 for the night, because though 185% was finally working, it seemed too high for an entire night.  Ugh!!  I'm expecting her to be high again this morning, because he just cancelled that temporary basal rate in the night...we'll see.  She's still sleeping, which is fine, except when you're a diabetic mommy you can't help but have that thought in the back of your mind that she could be so low in her bed that she's now comatose.  


To add to the craziness are things like taking her to the Allergist for her regular appointment yesterday, and telling him that she might be fighting something because her blood sugar numbers were high.  He asks what I mean by "high," and I told him 200's and 300's (actually mostly 300's, but I felt better throwing in 200's as well).  He gives me his bug-eye shocked look, and says, "That's REALLY high!  What are you doing about that?!"  

Really?  I didn't realize THAT was high!  Wow!  I must really not have a clue about these things!  I apparently don't know the first thing about taking this disease seriously. 

OK, I feel better.  I know he probably wasn't implying that much of failure on me, but it's hard not to hear that in a "REALLY?!!!" sometimes.  I went on to explain in 1 sentence or less that it's part of the "every day is a guessing game routine, and I give her more and more insulin to try to bring her back in range" deal.  

To add to my "mother of the year" award comes moments when I make Sophie feel guilty for actually wanting "more carbs?!!"  As if she is personally responsible for making her blood sugars so high because she wants to eat like normal.  Such a good thing to imply to your daughter who can't help that she has this disease.  I, of course, didn't heap that much guilt on her, but it's hard to keep your feelings out of the way when you've tried everything you can think of and she won't come down.  In my mind the only logical solution at this point is to make her eat nothing but protein, until she gets back in range.  Not a popular idea with a growing 8-year-old.  

Well, she's awake now.  Not that I was really worried...

Off to see what today holds!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Diabetes...Mommy the Pancreas

It's been a while since I've discussed Sophia's darn disease. It's going ok, all things considered.  I took her to the doc today for her quarterly check-up.  Her A1C was 7.5%.  I was kind of bummed.  It's actually a good number for a growing child.  Her doctor is always kind and encouraging, and says "she's just perfect," like every time.  It was up .3% from last time, and I really expected it to have gone down.  Maybe it's just a mind game I play, or maybe it's comparison to other diabetic kids with better #'s, but I really felt like I had been on top of the numbers and she was going to be below 7 this time.  FYI...the ideal range is between 5-7%.  You and I are 5 or lower.  

It's a daily responsibility to guess appropriately everything she eats and make sure she gets the carbs put into her pump.   Then if her blood sugar numbers are normal (I don't worry much if they're below 150), then we rest easy and are thankful that she's getting the correct insulin that she needs.  But most days have a number that's over 200 at some point, and then if I'm not doing 20 other things and can wrap my brain around it, I need to check if her last carbs were even entered (in other words, did Sophie put the carbs in her pump, which then administered the right amount of insulin?).  If they were, then I need to think about if I guessed the carbs wrong. If I'm certain I didn't, then I watch for her next number to see if it's high.  If she's not coming down with corrections, then I need to see if her insulin is old.  If not, does she need a site change because the current one isn't correcting well?  If all those things are ruled out, then after a day or two of higher numbers I need to put her on a temporary increase, and that's a guess of adding 20% more all day to an extra 90% if she's sick.  

Then you add weird factors like this was birthday weekend for she and Jossie, and so there was added stress, and added sugar (yay for cake!!), and she was high all weekend.  Then factor in added exercise, which should be making her low and very often does during the summer.  So many things to analyze on a daily basis.  Never a day off for a mommy of a diabetic.  The most difficult decisions are definitely in the middle of the night.  Joe, bless his heart, hasn't slept decently since Jude was born.  He sacrifices his sleep almost nightly to get up and test her, correct her, take her to the bathroom, etc.  (If she's running high then her urine output is much higher, which can lead to wet beds).  Often he'll try to wake me and ask what he should do about a correction or not.  I am so foggy-headed...especially if I'm not the one who got up to test her.  I make bad decisions sometimes in those moments, because I just can't think about it.  She occasionally wakes up low in the mornings (below 70), but never at a scary number, so I'm thankful we've never truly put her in danger with too much insulin in the night.

To add to frustration sometimes, her behavior gets much worse by day 2 or three of higher numbers.  That would be today.  She just struggles to use a calm voice, or struggles to be reasonable.  It's very challenging, because we know why she's out of control, and yet we have to teach her to try to control her behavior and trust us to help her make good decisions.  I wish I could give that disclaimer when in public, but it is what it is. 

It sounds negative, which I'm not trying to be.  I'm thankful to be her Mommy...and her pancreas!  I'm in love with that girl.  She has an inner beauty that is hard to beat.  She has grown and matured so much in the last year.  She truly is a great helper with her baby brother, and he totally adores her.  She has overcome many fears, and has gotten very strong physically.  She has become a fantastic gymnast, and is learning to swim...even jumped off of the high dive last week in swim lessons.  Ok, she's a little bitter about that one.  

God is so good to us in it all.  I see His hand in so much of her life.  I see His strength in all of us never giving up on keeping her healthy.  I feel His grace to keep believing and in keeping an attitude of overcoming, not one of being victims.  

He didn't choose this for her, but He can make beauty from the ashes of our bodies and souls...and He does.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Scarwy Ol' Cow and Repressed Violence


A couple of weeks ago I took the girls to a dairy farm for some fresh raw milk.  We purposely went when they would be milking the cows so we could see them.  We bought our milk and then went over to the big building with the big windows to watch outside while the milk flowed freely into the big clear pipes to the big steel drum.  Norah expressed  a little concern, which I promptly ignored as the man opened the door and said we could view a little closer...not in the building, but at the door.

I was excited.  I turned to ask the girls what they thought and saw I was missing a Noni (AKA Norah).  I looked through the window to see her running back to the car.  She was quickly retrieved and still none too excited about the cows and well, downright scared.  

Later that night I asked her why she was so scared of the cows, and she replied in all seriousness, "because, they can jump over the moon!"

Her reasoning was sound.

Then, last week, she had a rough encounter with a stray dog.  It mostly scared her and was being playful, but jumped on her, sent her screaming, and sent many people out of downtown buildings to see what was all the commotion.  A security guard finally secured the dog and walked it away from us.  Later in the evening during bedtime the older two were talking about how they hoped nothing bad happened to that dog.  Norah paused from drinking her bottle, and said, "I hope he takes the dog to a lake with lots of alligators and the alligators eat him."  Back to drinking the bottle.

Yep.  Straight to the special death.  Don't all 3-year-olds think this way?  I promise we don't watch violent shows... that funny girl.