Friday, May 30, 2014

Taking Addison to School

I took Addison to school by myself today.

This is a big deal because normally I have to wake up Carter, buckle a baby into a carseat who just wants to get down on the floor and wiggle, and drag a bleary-eyed toddler to his car seat who hasn't really eaten breakfast yet. Along with a cutely dressed Addison, bag on her arm, ready to go to school.

We then normally drive the short distance to school (feeling much tension because we are LATE…again). I call her classroom when we're a minute out, and her aide meets Addison up by the front while I stay with the boys.

But today a sitter came and sat with the boys at home. This meant Carter could sleep in and that I could take Addison ALL THE WAY IN to her classroom. I tried to get her excited to show me her space, but she kept waving "Bye bye bye!" and refusing to hold my hand.

Something strange happened as soon as we set foot in that school.

Addison became a rockstar.

"Oh HI Addison!" The school secretary gushed while looking strangely at me with a "who are you?" face.

"HI ADDISON!" A student said while bending down to Addison's level (pretty sure she is the shortest student at this school.)

"HI HI HI!" a group of striped legging, ruffled mini skirted girls beamed her way.

Another parent dropping their child off stopped to say hi and smile widely at her.

Addison paused and waved to all, handing out smiles liberally and a sweet and almost shy "hi" in return.

Everyone looked happy- scratch that- thrilled to see her, and she fit right in- albeit obviously enjoying the extra attention.

At school she was no longer the sister holding second candle to a loud and boisterous Carter. At school she fell into her role of just being herself- surrounded by peers and older peers who seem to accept her just for the little girl she is. Confident, happy, social, stubborn (she really didn't want me to go in with her.)

She stood up straighter, smiled more enthusiastically, and became noticeably more verbal.

I was in awe and extremely appreciative that she had such an environment in which to grow and learn.

She led me to her classroom where we met Addison's aide. Addison immediately took her bag and hung it up neatly on her hook (with no prompting). She then went quickly over to where her classmates where having story time- ignoring me completely by this point.

I was immensely pleased.

Walking back out to the car without her, I had a huge smile on my face.

My heart was soaring with happy thoughts of this crazy world accepting my Addison so graciously. I was mulling over the respect and obvious regard demonstrated to her by peers and teachers alike. I was hopeful and serene. Joyful and feeling so blessed.

Just as I reached the sidewalk in front of the school, a girl who I would guess was early to mid 20s appeared out of nowhere walking her dog. This dog was quite curious and wanted to rub against my leg in the worst way.

I smiled and said it was fine, but this girl got quite agitated. Then as I continued to my car, the dog tried to follow me.

"No you can't get in her car." She said sternly, pulling her dog back.

I just smiled in return.

She straightened him back in front of her and continued talking to the dog.
"No you can't go with her. Retard."

And just like that I came crashing down. She just called her dog a 'retard' because he wasn't obeying- wasn't demonstrating what she thought was a smart choice- wasn't doing the right thing. A 'retard'.

For a minute I let this steal my joy. I started thinking about how far acceptance has come and yet how far it still needs to go. I recalled my shock when I learned that my unborn child would be mentally retarded. I remembered the pain when I first heard someone casually use that same word to describe something stupid or idiotic. I felt my happy thoughts drain away and make room for fear and sadness. Would the world surrounding Addison consider her lesser? A second class citizen? Less worthy of life? Would a thousand tiny actions and thoughtless words add up to make her struggle in ways that I can't even imagine?

As I drove away almost to the point of tears, I realized what I was doing and forced myself to forget the dog walker. I erased the memory of that word. I boxed up the negativity and burned it- refusing to give it a place- even in storage to pull out later.

I know that I tend to be oversensitive about such things. I know this. And as I reasoned through my response, I realized how I let one tiny, tiny word steal a huge victory and joy.

An entire school is accepting Addison and setting up a successful schooling experience for her VERSUS one girl in front of the school who maybe doesn't even realize how that word came across to me.

I'm calling it….. "Time of Overreacting…8:45am" (okay…Addison might have been super late this morning)

I wish that girl hadn't felt the need to express herself in such a way, but truly- there was no way she could know how that word would affect me. Maybe if she had crossed our path ten minutes earlier when I had the cutest little girl with me- maybe she would have chosen a different word. Mostly likely she wasn't thinking of my daughter when she said it. Maybe she just thought she was using cool slang. I don't know.

But I'm not letting her define or even affect in the slightest my daughter's acceptance or place in this world.

Words are so powerful. One tiny little word had the power to take away something truly wonderful from me- until I realized what it was doing.

Addison is a rockstar at school. She is learning and growing- her peers accept and welcome her. That is what I am going to take away from this morning.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wedding Weekend

Well we did it. We packed up two toddlers and a baby and traveled twenty hours straight in the car to Greenville South Carolina. 

After all, we had a flower girl and ring bearer to deliver.

(Carter, Addison, Cousin Lauren)
It was a whirlwind trip, mostly because landscapers don't have the luxury of making long weekends into week-long trips during the busy season. We left Wednesday after work (around 8:30 pm), arrived on Thursday a little before 4pm. Friday was rehearsal stuff, Saturday the wedding, and then Sunday we headed back, arriving home at 5am Monday morning.

(Grandma made the dresses)
 Yes, it was exhausting, but yes it was worth. Seeing family was amazing, and being there to support my sister on her big day was a privilege I'm so thankful we got to do.

(sisters and their girls)
 How did the kids do in the car? Better than I thought. Eli and Addison traveled the best. Carter was so excited, he refused to fall asleep during our nighttime driving. The night we left, he finally fell into an exhausted slumber around 3am. His body was shaking with excitement as we loaded up. He was running around shouting "Trip! Trip!" since that thing we had been talking about all week was finally here.
 The clothing system in the ziploc bags worked beautifully. I honestly felt like my mind faded into unworkable territory halfway through the trip, and it was nice not to have one less thing I had to think about. I had only packed 2 backups for each child, and I did wish I had packed more of those. Thankfully, Grandma brought new clothes for all 3 kids so my backups were replenished just in time.
 How did Addison do as a flower girl? Not well. She doesn't handle change, heat, or big crowds well. I should have seen this coming. She looked super cute in the beautiful dress that Grandma Smith made her, but still she lay kicking and screaming at the front of the aisle, refusing to walk one little bit as requested of her. Carter marched forward with his sign that said "Uncle Andrew, here comes your girl!" He reached the front (somehow breaking the back of the sign on the way), threw it down on the ground, and stomped on it. 
 My photos don't have as much variety as I would like. I loved how many people jumped in to help with the kids during the reception, but I still found myself running around a bit crazily. My camera and phone had a hard time staying in my possession. I wanted shots of the kids in their outfits. That's pretty much all I got.
 My sister was gorgeous, and I had a hard time believing that the little girl that I shared a room with for so many years has grown into such a beautiful woman. Plus, I got another brother. It was a big weekend.
I am so happy for her and am glad we could all help her celebrate.
  On the way down, Eli popped through his 6th tooth, yesterday he turned 6 months old, and today he was in a different spot on the living room rug every time I checked on him. Apparently he took the chaos from the weekend as an opportunity to grow up without me noticing.
 I felt bad that I couldn't really be there to really coach Addison through this weekend. Carter stepped up to the new responsibilities that the weekend brought, but Addison did not. I was so disappointed that she refused to participate in the wedding, but I think I'll save those thoughts for another post.
 Today we worked on settling back into our normal routine. I caught the kids eating chocolate chip pancakes out of the trash this afternoon, so I think we're pretty much there. Now just to catch up on sleep!
 I'm so very thankful for God's protection for the many hours we traveled this weekend, for my family who I don't get to see enough, and for somehow managing to bring back the same number of children that we left with (Addison's glasses were not so lucky.)

(try not to be too jealous of my children's cooperation for this family photo)

It was a good weekend. One to be repeated soon? Big fat NO. Time to start a nice, boring summer. One that includes lazy afternoons, sleep, and family dinners on the deck. Perfection.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Twas The Night Before The Big Trip

Twas the night before the big trip, when all through the house
Mommy scuttled and scurried, just like a mouse
The luggage was packed with great tender care
In hopes to not forget important wedding wear
The children are thrashing all restless in their beds,
Preparing road trip mischief in their heads;
The whiner, the vomiter, the screamer all three;
Have plans to let their wild sides' free.
When out on the lawn there grew such long grass
'Cause there wasn't time for a lawn mowing pass.
Daddy was working, working round the clock;
To finish work by Wed tick tock tick tock.
Pit bull named Moon and security lights
Promise to keep the house locked up so tight
While we journey south for the big, big day
To watch Grandpa give Aunt Andrea away
Ringbearer, flowergirl, and Bridesmaid too
The marker-stained toddler will be the something blue
Happy to celebrate with sister dear;
Crossed fingers the kids travel better than I fear
Now "Addison!" Now "Carter!" Now "Eli!" I say
Go to the carseats of quiet time play!
Timeouts, room play, peace, and calm be all gone?
I don't know why you'd think we'd be all done.
Let's play games of quiet 18 hours straight
I promise, promise your prize will be great
Chocolate plus toys plus tickles on the bed
Great blessings will come down on your tiny head
So shhh, shhh sleep little ones. Sleep all night.
Everything, everyone will be all right.
Mommy, Daddy will wake you when we're there.
And you will be glad you rested I swear.
Checking our lists once more one, two, three, four
We'll pile our world on top of that car floor
Children oh be sweet. Children oh be good.
Children, Santa's cam is somewhere in the car hood.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Abandoning the Blog

It's been a week since I posted here last. A whole week.

And certainly I don't feel indebted to post here a certain amount of times per week, but the thing is- when I don't post here, I miss it. Like skipping out on a coffee date with a dear friend.

Yesterday, I felt extra lonely, and I couldn't pinpoint why until I realized- ummmm the blog?

Hello, I am still here. I promise.

So what made me abandon my "friend" this week to take my coffee solo, surrounded by masses of children and mountains of laundry?

A couple things.

The weather got nice. Imagine a long, drab winter with a little boy stuck in a small house- literally climbing the walls with so much energy he didn't know where to put it and then imagine the most beautiful weather in the world that just begs you to go outside and drink it up. This week, the weather has been gorgeous, and we have been outside every single minute possible. Carter is like a puppy that needs to be walked. (Yes, I just compared my child to a dog- get over it.) When he can get outside and play- a lot of his behavior problems tone waaaaay down. Because the way our yard is set up, I can't let my kids loose in our yard to play alone. So every minute they're outside? I'm outside. This has very much shifted the dynamic of our weekly schedule.

Aaron runs his own landscape business, and this is his busy season. There are always few weeks during spring start-up that for all purposes I am a single mom. He is gone before they wake up; he comes home long after they are in bed- every single day. A few perks to this mean he just planted (with a helper!) 5 beautiful apple trees for me as a Mother's Day gift and with our outside play, we have been really enjoying the beautiful new deck that he finished up for us last year. It's not all bad. But, as I have no help with the kids, my schedule shifts yet again as I concentrate on survival.
I have been enjoying constantly- chubby baby arms wrapping around my neck as plump legs dangle to my waist. A toothy grin appears more often than not (he just got his FIFTH tooth! ummmm) and an infectious giggle that bubbles up whenever I take advantage of his extremely ticklish, extremely large belly. He is sitting up like a champ, and is very close to crawling (he is in the "scooting" phase). It's amazing to me how much faster these milestones are going with my third.
After so many months with little to no progress, Addison is advancing quickly with her speech. Earlier this week she started to say some full sentences at school for the first time. She picks up new words faster, and she is obsessed with reading right now. We have done a lot of deck reading time this week. Someone asked me earlier this week for tips on how to keep glasses on a toddler, and I was all set to write an informative, slightly sarcastic post. Ever since, Addison has been on a mission to NOT wear her glasses, so I didn't write the post. Still working out the kinks here ourself. (-;
Carter is turning into a little man before my (very sleepy) eyes. Yes, he did lock me out of the house this week. And yes, he has had more timeouts than I can count. But he is doing great with the boundaries set on him for outside play time. And he is improving in his gentleness/kindness toward his siblings. And by "improving", I mean one step forward, ten flying leaps back. But I am still counting the step forward.
This week someone stopped by our house, took a look at the baby on my hip and the deck full of toddler toys, and asked if I was running a daycare. Ummmm sounds about right! Now why are all the payments so late????

In all my free time, I am preparing for us all (yes Aaron will come) to drive to South Carolina for my sister's wedding. Yes, you read that correctly. 16- (however many it takes) hours in the car with the three kids on a tight schedule  to deliver 1 ring bearer, 1 flower girl, and 1 (still sporting baby weight) bridesmaid. While normally I might be excited about an adventure (OK that was a lie…I am a total homebody)- I am resisting the urge to curl up in a ball in the corner and fake a serious illness that might make just sending a Congratulations Sister! card acceptable. Just kidding, Andrea. (sort of) We will be there. We will sacrifice those sanity points to help you celebrate.

So yeah…that has been our week. I totally can't figure out why I have abandoned my computer while fighting for balance out on this tightrope. (-; My excuses are invalid..I know.
Now if you will excuse me, I have 1 alligator baby to feed, 1 little girl to get dressed for school, and 1 little boy to get ready for our morning post-drop-off-sister walk.

It's going to be a good day. It's the weekend. We see Daddy tomorrow. (-;

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happy Mother's Day, even when she doesn't remember that she is one

I saw her for the first time in six years and in that time I became a stranger to her.

Her eyes- so familiar to me in my childhood- still held a sparkle, but it was a different kind of sparkle than the one from our Christmas visits. They seemed to look right through me to the light green wallpaper on the other side of the warm but sterile room.

She smiled, but it wasn't one of recognition. It was habit from a lifetime of unfailing politeness to smile when someone spoke to her- even if she had no idea who that person was.

Veined hands clutched a cup in her lap. Her body no longer restless with energy sat still in the wheelchair. Hair that she used to take great pride in putting into an elaborate up-do was now in one long, gray braid down her back.

"Grandma?" I heard my sister ask as she bent down to touch the still arm.

I stared, unable to speak, as I tried to process the scene in front of me.

My three siblings and I were gathered around the woman who used to make Christmas magical, a simple dinner an occasion, and a kind word a treasure. From Vermont, Wisconsin, and South Carolina, it wasn't often that we could visit the beautiful Kentucky nursing home. But here we all were, desperately clinging to the memories as Grandma sat statue-like in front of us. Because memories were all that were left.

As I stared, swamped with emotions I couldn't explain, I thought about my three small children back home. I thought about the chaos of life right now where there is never enough energy or time in the day to keep up with the tiny people constantly disrupting the universe around me. I thought about my guilt as I try to balance the dozens of daily requirements that I can never finish or even prioritize correctly. I thought about my complaints that I have to get up so frequently in the night to feed the baby, to comfort a little boy who had a nightmare, or to tuck back in a little girl who fell out of her bed. I thought about the meal planning, dishes, and laundry that never seems to end, and I suddenly realized- someday they will all end. Someday perhaps I too will be in a wheelchair, looking at my people without really seeing them, with no response available other than to sit there, blankly stare, and smile out of politeness.

I wondered what she would say to me about this all if she could. I wonder if she has moments where she remembers the craziness of life with small children- and misses the quickly passing phase.

I wondered what advice she would give to me. What secrets she would share as to how she managed to create such a warm, inviting home in spite of the constant demands of life. What promises she would give to me as to the hard work all being worth it.

But she couldn't do any of these things. She simply smiled blankly at us as we began to sing for her- gathered around her in an awkward sort of circle.

I was filled with an ache. An ache of a passed time that I couldn't get back. A childhood where I didn't get close to my grandparents because of distance, but didn't even realize at the time what I was missing. A fount of wisdom in front of me from which I didn't learn. A relationship that I didn't hold tightly to until it slipped silently out of my grasp without me even realizing it was gone.

Somberly leaving her after singing and saying goodbye, we shared breakfast at Cracker-barrel, talking and laughing with the familiarity that only siblings have. I determined to hold fast the relationships I have been given. To make an effort to be there- to show up- to give of myself in this time that I can never get back once it's gone.

To cherish each baby kiss and toddler hug. Fiercely. To find in the good and bad something to appreciate- even if it's only the fact that this day only happens once. To tirelessly give of myself to create a home that will leave strong, positive memories even past those of my children. To always remember that this time ends, and then? Maybe I will be the one in the wheelchair with only memories left to give. And when it's my turn to be there? I don't want to have this ache- sister to regret- cousin to sadness.

Will the frustrations of stubborn toddlers really be such a tragedy then? The lack of sleep be a big deal? The disappearance of a social life due to three cling ons? The difficulty grocery shopping? The lack of "me" time? Will I really care about these troubles when the end of the road greets me?

This weekend for mother's day, I remember my Grandma, who doesn't remember me. I remember my mother and mother-in-law and the other Grandmas in my life. I remember those who have gone before us- creating our lives and mothering without many of the modern conveniences of today. Mothering that is mostly in the past, but no less real- sacrificing their everything so that we could be what we are today. Mothering that showed us how it is to be done. Mothering that proves that these years can be survived- and missed when they are over.

Happy Mother's Day, Grandma. I hope that you know how much you are appreciated and loved. I hope the feeling of being loved is something that never leaves you.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mommy's Helper

On Monday something amazing happened.

I was in the kitchen preparing dinner, and the baby was crying in the other room. (That is not the amazing part, I promise.)

There was a toddler hanging onto one leg and another toddler hanging onto the other leg. I was trying to get the sweet potato wedges in the oven while sautéing the onions for the Italian sausages and husking the corn. This is an intricate balancing act between using sharp objects and moving them quickly, pulling bodies off the climb toward the counter, and trying to remember what my hands are supposed to be doing to advance the situation forward.

I was juggling this "make the dinner" chaos carefully, but the crying baby was really putting me over the edge.

He wasn't hungry; I had just fed him. He wasn't hurting; he was safely strapped into his bouncy seat. I couldn't leave the kitchen to go hold him because the toddlers would quickly take over dinner prep, and I knew that would end badly.

I looked down at my 4 year old little girl and wished she could step up and be Mommy's helper.

"Addison, go take care of the baby." I said while spinning around to rescue Carter from the pantry where he just discovered an opened bag of chocolate chips.

The words came out of my mouth, but I didn't believe them. What was she going to do? She wouldn't leave the counter climbing/hanging onto mom fun that is the hour before dinner each day. She is fully capable of obeying instructions, but she tends to carefully pick and choose which ones she listens to. There was no way for me to enforce this without Carter jumping up to head chef, and without enforcement she usually ignores my requests.

I soon forgot about Addison as I discovered Carter putting the corn into the boiling water when I turned my back for a second to throw the husks into the trash. (Seriously, this kid has the gift of being everywhere at once and in everything at once. An extra couple of arms would be extremely useful around here) Putting him back down to the floor, I was lecturing him on the dangers of the stove and "hot" things when I heard it.


The baby completely stopped crying.

At first the silence panicked me. Did something happen? Where did Addison go? Is she feeding popcorn to the baby again?

As I paused for a minute to assess the situation, I then heard laughter.

Tiny baby giggles bubbled up with Addison giggles, and I simply had to go see what was going on.

Ducking out of the kitchen and dragging Carter with me, we paused in the Dining Room to see a beautiful sight.

There was the baby buckled safely in his bouncy seat. Hovering over him was his big sister- taking care of her baby- just as I had requested.

Her face was right in his. He was staring at her as if his life depended on it. She laughed at him. He giggled in return. She grabbed his hand, and his other arm reached for her hair. She ducked away and said "Ewi. Baby. Ewi. Baby." She then started telling him a story I couldn't understand specifics, but her hand gestures, facial expressions, and rise and fall of her words made it clear- it was a doozy.

This moment was perhaps my favorite moment in a very long time.

Because in this moment she wasn't the big little sister. She was the BIG sister, taking care of HER baby. The baby was crying and needed her, so she left dinner prep entertainment and took care of the situation- all on her own. She soothed the baby by talking to him, and his crying stopped.

In this moment she wasn't 4 with the development of a 2 year old. She was every day of FOUR. She was little Mama. She was my helper. She was a little girl who loves babies.

I could only enjoy the sight for a brief moment before I got dragged back into the kitchen by Carter who was eager for his next set of chef duties. I couldn't even take a picture because my phone was another room away and it just wasn't safe to leave long enough to go find it.

But I tucked the memory away in my heart. I pull it out when I need to remember- she's getting it. She's growing up. This girl is full of surprises, and this one took my breath away.

I know I have written about Addison not being fully 4 and that making new baby transition more difficult. In that moment I ate those words. Because she entertained the baby the rest of dinner prep time, and I was able to get a fully prepared meal on the table without a screaming baby and with no kitchen injuries from Carter because of a distracted Mommy.

Mommy's helper.


Every time Mommy's helper passes by a loaded carseat, she takes it upon herself to close the flap. He now pulls himself forward and peers out as he waits to be carried out of the house. (-:
And if she passes by the carseat and it is not loaded with an occupant? She finds one for it.
Mommy's helper might be only a little bit bigger than her baby...but she makes it work.
Clearly, he is hurting from all the extra love. (-;
Mommy's helper- I love being proven wrong like this.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Difference Support Can Make

I am bad at saying "thank you".

Sometimes I feel like two tiny words is no match for the huge thing that I'm trying to express gratitude for. Sometimes I feel like the words alone are almost an insult because I feel so indebted to the gracious kindness shown to me and surely mere words can't express that.

So often I stay silent, hoping a brilliant way to say "thank you" that could somehow measure up and be worthy of the deed that strikes me. But today I really need to say something. So here is an attempt at a "thank you".

I have been very thankful this past year for the mentoring provided me by our new church.

Last winter I really felt like I was drowning in motherhood. It was a long winter, the two tots were driving me crazy, the housework was out of control, I just couldn't get a grip on organizing the life in front of me, and then I found out I was pregnant with #3. I was overwhelmed, and I felt completely alone.

In this time, we ended up changing churches. I won't go into all the details of this, but our marriage and family desperately needed this change, and I am so thankful that we had the courage to make it.

One of the things that I have so appreciated about this new church is their ministry to Preschool moms. Once a month, we gather for breakfast, fellowship, craft time (in which we learn a new craft to do with our kids later), discussion time, and a themed talk on some aspect of parenting young children.

This has been a life saver for me.

I remember going my first time last April (or March?). I was very silent, just soaking in the discussion and words of wisdom around me. Older moms shared wisdom from when their kids were little. They admitted that it was hard. They gave encouragement. They listed practical ideas. They inspired through stories. They promised looking back now that it was all worth it. They said things like "You can do this. You can be an amazing mom. You don't just have to survive. Look for more in these little years. Be intentional with your day-to-day mothering/teaching. These years are the investment years; drop character traits into the piggy bank that you want them to draw on later in life. They need you right now. You never get this time back." and so much more.

And even just the conversations with other moms over breakfast "You too? I thought I was the only one driven crazy by kids this week!" and "You dealt with this specific problem as well? What helped? What did you do to get through that phase?" and honest discussions- absolutely no judgement- with tips being given as far as what works for them and ideas they have come across for more effective teaching tools.

There is also a once a month Saturday night Young Couples get together. There is dinner, childcare, and then a themed talk from one of the older couples of the church- sharing insights and personal testimonies on different aspects of marriage and parenting.

The nuggets of wisdom that I have been getting from some of these older moms/parents seriously lit a fire under me like nothing before.

Before I felt like all older moms forgot how hard it was in these early years of parenting. That their kids were grown so they would just sit back and silently watch the younger moms struggle. But it turns out- they haven't forgotten. And with these ministries in place where sharing and mentoring can occur? Wow.

With these ministries an active part of my life this last year, I have felt supported, loved, and encouraged with this whole parenting thing.

It's just nice to hear things like "they won't always be preschool-aged" and confessions like "I didn't even like my son for his first 5 years because he was so challenging, but now he's such a delightful and awesome adult. I wish I had learned earlier how to accept him for exactly who he is- even if 'who he is' at times is challenging."

These last few weeks have been very challenging- especially with Carter Henry. Not to go into details (but imagine extremely stubborn little boy in the terrible twos with a flair for dramatic mess), and at times I have felt like we are not going to survive this stage. And is it a stage or will it last forever?

Last week we had a Young Couples night on parenting. That talk- pure gold for my depleted mothering  resources. I left with many ideas and ways to intentionally parent day-to-day in order to teach the gospel to my children.

And this morning we had another Preschool Moms breakfast (Cross Connections)- the last one of the year. And once again I left with my heart fueled with encouragement, my stomach happy from a yummy breakfast, and my energy-meter recharged while Carter ran out all his energy in nursery. I can do hard things. I can parent my two year old. I can teach him kindness and love. I can give him grace while teaching him boundaries. I can stay strong and patient. I don't have to do this on my own. I get daily parenting strength from someone much wiser and stronger than I. Even when Carter has destroyed his room, spilled and spread an entire bag of Costco rice in the kitchen, taken apart the heat vent in his room, played in the toilet,  behaviorally vomited, and tested every.single.thing I said to him that day- this is all part of the crazy but wonderful ride of being a mother. I can do this- one day at a time. And it will be worth it. All the teaching and working and loving- this is an investment I can't afford not to make.

I know I don't often put "churchy" things here on the blog. But today I just wanted to say "thank you" if any of you involved in this mentoring are reading this. Thank you for the support, love, and at times hand-holding through this rocky journey of motherhood. I  know that these ministries take a lot of work and planning, and I am so appreciative.

I don't know if the difference in attitude in my writing from last winter to now is noticeable, but I can feel the difference. I am living the difference. And most importantly- our family is living the difference.

Thank you.