Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Collect Moments Not Things

They were seated at the table next to ours.  Two little chubby-faced kids stood happily waiting for their parents to help them into their chairs.  They each held a little gift sack.  Once they were seated and their drinks had been ordered the little boy eagerly held up his gift sack for the older woman to take.  A huge smile spread across his little face.

"Here, grandma! I made it all by myself!"  The little girl sitting across from him said, "Nuh, uh!" Her voice echoed through the restaurant and her mother shushed her with a smile. "Well," the boy said hesitantly, "Mom helped a little."

The grandmother opened each gift with a smile and said, "Oh, this is lovely."  Two little sets of brown eyes beamed up at her as they watched, so happy she liked what they had worked so hard to make for her.  "Thank you," she said to them.

She then turned to the children's mother and said, "Where are the rest of my gifts?"  The woman looked confused and said, "Those are your gifts, mom."  Her mother looked offended.

"I don't understand," She said.  "It's Mother's Day."

Her daughter forced a smile and said, "Yes, it IS Mother's Day and the kids worked hard to make you something special."

The grandmother smiled at her grandchildren who were still smiling up at her. She leaned closer to her daughter and said, "When I was your age I made sure to get my mother something good for Mother's Day.  I mean, I'm paying for all of your meals and all I get are some cheap crafts made by my grandchildren?"

A look of hurt spread across the daughter's face.  She looked her mother in the eye and said, "Mom, you know Ben isn't working right now and I'm only working part time.  I'm not even getting anything for Mother's Day. We're just thankful we can make ends meet for now.  I'm sorry you don't like your gifts. We did think of you.  The kids worked hard on these gifts."

She turned to her kids and said, "Come on, guys, let's go."  The children began to protest and she said, "Well, we can't afford it and we don't want to make grandma pay for our meals."  As she walked away she turned to her mother and said, "Happy Mother's Day," as tears filled her eyes.

Our society puts too much emphasis on material things.  We see it every day.  People say, "Well, it's easy for people to say they don't need money if they don't have it.  They don't know what they're missing."  Sure, it's great to have nice things, but those nice things shouldn't define our character.  They shouldn't overshadow who we are and we certainly shouldn't expect them. We should be happy that people think enough of us to do something nice, not get offended because we feel they didn't spend enough money on us.

I recently saw pictures from another country where people had very little.  Their children had one, maybe two toys, they were living in filth and yet, in the pictures, they were smiling.  Sure, money gets tight from time to time, but things could be so much worse. When money gets tight it seems more stressful just because, in our world, money is your measure of success.  It's sad, really.

We should all try to collect moments, not things.  How rich our lives would be!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

One Act of Kindness

A young woman with a screaming baby watched as the cashier rang up the baby formula. The cashier called out the total and the woman very quietly said, "Oh, I have a coupon for that."  She seemed nervous as she handed the coupon to the cashier.  She reached out and held a pacifier in her baby's mouth and said, "Shhhh," very softly. Her eyes stayed on the cashier as she scanned the coupon.  The cashier told her the price of the formula with the coupon.  The woman's voice shook as she said, "Oh, okay." She began clumsily digging in her purse to find the extra money she needed to cover the cost of the formula to feed her screaming baby.

Two young women stood in line behind her. They shifted their weight from leg to leg.  They sighed loudly in annoyance and one kept shaking her head and rolling her eyes.

The woman with the baby looked up at them, her tired eyes filled with tears and she said, "I'm so sorry."  The two women just glared at her.  One woman said, "Look at what she's wearing."  They both laughed.

She continued to frantically dig in her purse.  "I know I have some change in here, if I could just find it.  I'm sorry."  Her baby continued to scream.

Towards the back of the line was an older man.  He walked up to the woman with the baby and said, "Hi, I would love to help you out.  How much do you need?"  An expression of relief flooded the woman's face and she said, "Well, I only need $1.29 and I thought I had it but I can't find anything in this purse."  The man said, "Oh, is that all?  Don't worry about it."  The woman watched as he paid the remaining amount on the formula.  "There you go," he said.  He touched the baby's little foot and said, "He's all set."

"Thank you so much," She said.  She looked back at the two women in line behind her and said, "I'm so sorry it took so long."  One of them forced a smile and said, "It's okay."

There are so many people in this world whose selfishness really blows my mind at times.  I'm not perfect and I don't pretend to be perfect.  However, judging others by the amount of money they have, by the clothes they wear, by the cars they drive and the homes they reside in could cause you to miss out on knowing someone great . . . or even experiencing a wonderful moment of helping a stranger, or even just being nice to some one.  Shouldn't a person's character be what's important?

I have been in the position of that young mother.  It's not an easy position to be in, but having one person extend a little bit of kindness can be a really big bright spot in your life--or someone else's.  I have been told that I'm too nice to people, especially those who don't deserve it. Maybe that is true, but it's who I am. Perhaps those horrible people who don't deserve some one to be nice to them NEED some one to show them a little kindness.

Who knows, one act of kindness can go a long way!

Thursday, April 24, 2014


We live in a fast-paced world.  There are times when I just can't seem to stay caught up with all that needs to be done.  Every once in a while I wish I had a few more hours in the day because I just didn't get everything done that I wanted.  There are days that go perfectly.  You wake up and the sun is shining through your window.  You start singing like Snow White and birds gather on the window sill to sing with you.  Your children are happy and are listening and doing what is expected of them.  Things just seem to fall into place.

Let's be realistic for a minute. These "perfect" days are very rare.  Most mornings we stumble out of bed in an exhausted haze.  The house is a mess, the laundry is piled up, kids are fighting, and shoes are missing.  We discover that we're out of milk, the toddler doesn't want to leave your side and you find yourself tripping over her as she screams at your feet.  You go to pour more coffee into your mug only to discover the pot is empty (so sad).You pack lunches, tell your kids (for the third time) to brush their teeth.  "You can't find the shoe?  It didn't just walk away!  Look again! It HAS to be somewhere!"  It always turns up in the most random places.  "Hey, mom!  I found it!  It was in the shower."  Umm . . . okay.  We race out the door and get the kids where they need to be and feel a sense of accomplishment when they are dressed, fed and at school on time!

Every family is different.  We live on one income and budgeting is a must.  Money always seems to be tight, but we have what we need and are thankful for that.  It allows me to take the kids to specialists, to be home with them after surgeries or tests and to take Alex to and from therapies.   Our family consists of three children with a bone disease who require surgeries and specialists.  It also consists of a special needs child whose schedule of therapies and specialists keeps me busy.  Sometimes budgeting makes me want to pull out my hair.  Does any one else feel their stress level go up when they look at the shopping list?  Do you feel a panic attack coming on as you watch your husband add to the list?  Well, okay, maybe that is a little extreme, but (in my best little girl voice) budgeting is no fun!

Some moms have to come home after a long day at work and do laundry and get kids to practice or games.  You have to help with that school project and take a sick child to the doctor.  No matter your schedule or your family's routine, we ALL run ourselves ragged doing what needs to be done to make sure everything in our house--in our family--is running as smoothly as we can possibly make it run.

The sun doesn't peacefully shine through the window.  It blinds you, hurting your eyes and causing you to stumble around, stubbing your toe on the dresser and banging your elbow on the door frame.  The birds don't sit on the window sill and sing.  Instead they're outside pooping on your vehicle. "Dude, I bet you can't hit the door handle!" You run around like a crazy person making sure these little people who have been given to you are where they need to be and have everything they need in order to be healthy and happy.  Sometimes we forget about making ourselves healthy and happy.  Sometimes we have days where we wonder if what we're doing really even matters.  Let me just remind you that it does.

Look at your children.  They have everything they need.  Who makes sure they have everything they need?  YOU!  Look at their smiles!  They're healthy and happy.  You had something to do with that, you know.  You may not realize it but your kids DO notice all you do for them.  My two boys have started coming to me with hugs, telling me they love me and thanking me for doing things for them.  It is the greatest form of payment and the sweetest reminder that even though most days are chaotic and crazy, my family DOES notice all I do for them.  Not only that, but what I'm doing actually matters.

You ARE supermom!  Wear your cape proudly.  Just be careful in high winds--the capes tend to attack when the wind gets up.  It's not pretty.  (Edna in The Incredibles knew what she was talking about when she said, "No capes!"  It's not just for entertainment, you know . . . it's also about life lessons.)  You're doing a great job.  I think, sometimes, we all need to be reminded of this.  So, here's a friendly reminder.  You ARE doing a great job!  You ARE a supermom!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Find Your Bright Spots

One of my best friends always tells me to find the bright spots in life.  She told me that sometimes you have to look for them, but they are always there.  How right she is!  I have noticed that there are bright spots in every day--even the bad ones! Life is not a fairy tale. We do not live in a crystal palace.  We don't have servants who wait on us hand and foot and keep us relaxed. Things rarely fall into place.

Jacob and I took turns traveling over the weekend.  He took a gremlin to his parents while I stayed with a sick gremlin and then on Saturday we traded shifts.  Driving nearly 3 hours with a screaming toddler and a 7-year-old who gets car sick and is vomiting in the back of the van is no picnic. It didn't go according to "the plan," but we did it and we enjoyed ourselves.

Yesterday I woke up tired and cranky.  Nothing was going according to "the plan" and the kids were also tired and cranky.  Kaitlyn was into everything, tattooed herself with markers, and was climbing up the furniture like King Kong! The boys had gone momentarily deaf and couldn't hear me when I spoke to them. Miraculously, their hearing returned after I repeated myself (loudly) a third time.  It was one of those mornings where you say, "You need to put on your shoes," and your child just stands there with a confused look on his face.  "Shoes? What are those?"  We were running late for church so I didn't get to spend the usual amount of time on my hair and make up. There was one point where I had an urge to lock myself in the bedroom and just say, "Forget it.  We're staying home."  Nothing was going according to "the plan" so it was safer to just hide out for a while. (Right?) On the drive to church I realized that I also didn't eat breakfast. I turned and looked at my kids all dressed up for Easter, fed and happy and thought, "Well, that's what's really important."

We made it to church and Kaitlyn started fussing.  The boys started acting like crazy people . . . monkeys in a zoo, if you will. I don't pop my boys on the back of their heads and say, "Straighten up," but I won't lie, there are times I imagine it. We got Kaitlyn to the nursery and headed to the sanctuary to find a seat. Eventually one of my favorite people and sweetest friends sat down beside me and gave me the biggest hug.  It was a bright spot to my emotionally crazy morning and she totally made my day. The service was good, as usual, and Jacob and I hung around and talked to a few people afterward.

We all started walking to the door because Jacob and I needed to get Kaitlyn from the nursery and get the boys from Children's church.  Suddenly, I heard a familiar little voice shout, "Mama!"  I looked up and Kaitlyn was running down the hall with a giant smile on her face.  Her curls were flying and bouncing on her shoulders and her arms were out, ready to grab me.  I picked her up and she hugged me.  Another sweet person in our lives had not only brought the boys to us but had gone to the nursery and gotten Kaitlyn as well. (Another bright spot? Yeah, I think so!)

Life rarely goes according to plan.  It would be boring if things went exactly the way we wanted them to go. We get so focused on "the plan" that we forget about the bright spots.  It's good to have a plan, but it's nice to be reminded to stop and look for the bright spots.  Sometimes you have to look for them and other times they are so obvious--like a clown blowing a horn and dancing in your face! You just can't miss them!  Let's make our plans, but let's not get so caught up in them that we miss the clown, er, um . . . bright spots!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why Do You Think Your Children Are So Special?

"Why do you post so many pictures of your kids?"

"You talk about your kids too much!"

"Why are you posting so many pictures of yourself with your kids?"

Mothers want to brag about their children. Mothers want to share their children's accomplishments and talk about how proud their children make them.  Every mother wants to share funny stories about their children. Our children are such a huge part of our lives--it's difficult NOT to share them with friends and family.

On New Year's Eve Jacob had to take me to the ER.  After running some tests they discovered an issue with my appendix that could become cancerous and suggested I have it removed.  It was supposed to be a simple procedure--you know the drill, you go in that morning and are home by that evening.  Not a big deal. They ended up having to remove not only my appendix but also some of my colon and some of my small intestine.  I was in the hospital for 4 days and every day the doctor would come in and tell us that he still didn't have the results from the biopsy.  I was sent home and was told I couldn't get the results until my appointment because they wouldn't give that information over the phone. That week was one of the longest weeks of my life. We just wanted to know if it was benign or not.  It was simple.  "What does this have to do with pictures?"  I remember thinking about my children and how you really aren't promised tomorrow and you need to make EVERY second count. We were finally told that it was, in fact, benign. We breathed a sigh of relief and said a prayer of gratitude and felt a little less weight on our shoulders as we left the doctor's office.  I had been challenged to take more pictures of myself with my children--not for me, but for them.  Years from now when I'm gone they will have all these pictures of me with them; reminders of memories from their childhood. Some one once said that if you have memories you don't need to take a lot of pictures.  Look at the expression on an elderly person's face as they look at pictures from their childhood.  Memories are wonderful, but pictures are a pretty good thing to have, in my opinion.

I also post too many pictures of my children and talk about them too much because all three of them have a bone disease.  All three of them have had surgeries and all three of them have more surgeries in their future. I remember Alex, in the first grade, having both arms in casts after his surgery and never complaining.  None of them complained. They took it, they handled it, and they were tough!  I have learned so much from these three gremlins.  All three have gone through so much more than I ever did as a child, that is for sure! They are strong.  They are determined and they are positive.  How could I not be proud and want to share with everyone who loves them?

Not only this, but my sweet Alex is a special needs child.  He has learned to live with Apraxia and Ataxia.  We watch him struggle to do simple things that other children his age (and younger) take for granted.  Sometimes he gets discouraged but for the most part this boy is positive and he rarely lets things get to him.  He never gives up and he always tries his best.  People ask him why he talks funny, why he smiles funny, why he has a hard time tying his shoes or riding a bike, reading, writing. He shrugs his shoulders and says, "This is how I was born."  At the age of 9, he is one of the strongest people I know.  He always tries his best and then he just takes life as it comes, good or bad, with a positive attitude.  I couldn't be prouder of him.  We have watched him come so far over the past 9 years.

I have been asked why I post so many pictures. "Your children aren't anyone special." The truth is, every child is special.  I have been given these three beautiful gremlins who teach me so much about strength and the power of a positive attitude every single day.  May we all learn how to be better people from our children!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Our Home

I have had quite a few people ask me about how we decorate our home. I know not everyone likes it, but not everyone lives here. ;) What a completely boring world it would be if every house was decorated the same way! We like older stuff, a lot of color and items that you don't find in every home. We also want our home to be a fun and comfortable place for our kids to grow up in.  So, for those who have asked, this blog is for you.

                            My gremlins' hand prints on canvases above our bed.
 Jacob's mom gave this pillow to me with pictures of all of us.  It is one of my favorite things!

                                                   The main bathroom.

                                                       Dining room

                                                      Living room

The boys' favorite hangout spot complete with an arcade game (not pictured)!

Of course, we can't forget about these three gremlins who add so much spice and laughter to our world! Our home certainly wouldn't be complete without them!