Boys in Lights

>> Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One of my favorite things to do while decorating for Christmas, is to let the boys sit in the midst of the lit Christmas lights and watch the soft light reflect on their sweet faces.  I started this when Caden was a baby.  I hope to do it every year.  

Caden 2008 (3 1/2 months)

Lucas 2008 (2 1/2)
Hadley (4, 28 in dog years)

Lucas 2009 (3)

Caden 2009 (15months)

Caden 2010 (2)

Lucas 2010 (4)

Lucas 2011 (5)

Caden 2011 (3)

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Believing With Head and Heart

>> Thursday, December 8, 2011

 We recently joined a new small group at our new church.  After a couple years in a house church with people who knew us deeply and knew our story, the prospect of entering into a vulnerable relationship with new friends was both exciting and a bit frightening.  In the first couple weeks, this group dove right in, choosing a book to study together and taking turns telling the stories of our spiritual journeys.  The first couple to share astounded me with their openness about a topic I think I would have been too afraid to share with relative strangers.  The next week, another shared about a place of spiritual woundedness that was causing him to ask some pretty deep questions about God and His plan.
Then, it was our turn.  I always have to gear myself up a bit to be able to rewalk that journey.  It feels so complicated and raw and hard to fully put into words.  Plus, my body begins to physically feel again all the emotions of the years, all the anxiety and sadness and questioning.  I am always afraid that new listeners will not see the significance of the events or that I will be so afraid of them not thinking it is all significant that I will gloss over the story and walk away feeling I did not do it/him justice.
Well, it went fine.  And they did think it was/is significant.  And for the first time, they asked us some really great questions about the impact on our current life.  No one had ever really asked us those things before.  Maybe because the times we have told it before we always much closer and more fresh.  But 7years out, it felt good to examine things more from the broader picture.
"How has it changed how you pray?" "Do you question the goodness of God?"  "Can you say that God is trustworthy?"

All questions I have probably asked myself at one time or another.  But not ever had to answer out loud.  In front of people I just barely met.

How has it changed how I pray?

Do I question the goodness of God?

Can I say that God is trustworthy?

I could type here the answers that I gave to the group.  But in all honesty, I am not fully sure how to answer these questions.  Through the conversation though, I came to realize that I really don't trust the goodness of God to me.  I can say to a friend, without wavering, that God will be with them in a tough time.  And I mean it.  I fully trust that God will heal my dear friend in CA and bless her life of service to Him.  I expect God to lead my friends who are entering a season of drastic life-change, that He will provide for them and keep their family safe and whole.  I know that He will make His path known to my sister who has had a rough road the past few years but is, by His grace, coming into a season of joy.  But me...  I am not so sure about that.  I don't know if I trust God to be good to me.  So it is not at all a question of IS God good.  I know He is.  But I am not confident that He will choose to shower that goodness upon me.
I sit in the dark at the bedsides of my boys and pray God's protective hand upon them.  Lord, keep them safe and well.  Protect them from my faults and from the world that may try to harm or persuade them.  Guide their steps, shape their souls, infuse them with your love and peace.  Fix their eyes on you.    And I trust that He will do all these things.  I don't really have a choice to think otherwise.  But can I say that He is trustworthy?  Yes, I guess I can.  He is Holy and just and worthy of all praise and adoration. And trust.  I know this with my head.  I just have a hard time letting that infiltrate my heart. 

I am not so blind that I am unable to see the vastness of His blessings to me.  I have parents who are still married and adore each other and would move moon and stars to take care of me and my boys.  I have a husband who tries so hard to love me in the ways that I ask him to and is devoted to our family at a level that I cannot comprehend.  I have 3amazing boys who my life would be empty without.  I have a good job, a warm home, a car that works.  I get to go to Florida several times a year and soak in the restoration of the ocean.  I am a blessed girl.
But I have these hurdles.  Hurdles created by things on my journey that feel insurmountable. They keep my knowledge of God as good and trustworthy from moving from head to heart. I am certainly not proud of this.  It is a huge weakness and flaw.  And my extreme self-reliance makes it even harder for me to ask God to help me rely on Him and trust Him...  see how I am kinda stuck there?

It is only He who can heal me- heal my wounds and my Lupus and my fear of not being able to take care of my own self.  But am I letting Him do that?  How DO I let him do that?

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Halloween 2011

>> Friday, November 4, 2011

 As probably anticipated, both boys wanted to be superheros this year....again.  They were Batman and Robin last year, which I loved.  And they were super-cute again this year but it was the first year that they haven't worn coordinated costumes.  Sure, both superheros.  But not connected to each other... you know what I am sayin'?  They are past the stage of letting others choose for them. 

But, I loved it just the same.  Gotta love the "muscles"! 

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Overdo Update

>> Thursday, November 3, 2011

Updates on me/us:
The boys are getting bigger by the second... but that is nothing new.

Lucas is loving school and really thriving there.  He went from being able to read a handful of words to being able to pick up most of his books and work through them.  It has been phenomenal to watch.  I put it right up there with watching his first steps and hearing his first "Mama."  Hearing him sit and read a book aloud to his brother brings a permeating grin to my face and makes me burst with joy and pride.  Also, admittedly, it makes me feel like maybe I am not totally screwing up this whole motherhood thing.  At least he'll be able to read.  :)
He is becoming more thoughtful and responsible- slowly but surely.  I am very grateful for that.  I think it is part due to getting older and part thanks to his classical school.  Either way, it is nice to see this change starting in him. 
Oh, and he just lost his first tooth.  And he's half way to six...  Slow down, would ya!!

Caden loves preschool, although you wouldn't know it to see him get dropped off.  He does fine once I am out the door and is all smiles when I pick him up.  But cries hysterically during the actual separation.  He has some pretty significant separation anxiety, still.  Now that I think about it, he has kinda always been like this.  When he was a baby, he cried when the babysitter left once.  He just doesn't like anyone to leave him.  He always says he is sad when we drop Lucas at school, but then we have a great time together and he doesn't want to go back and get him later.  It is the leaving that he doesn't like.  Hmmm....  thoughts anyone? 
He is also in the midst of the terrible-threes.  Everything is "NO, I WON'T do that!  I will NEVER (fill-in-the-blank)!" But he is oh-so-cute and just makes my heart melt.  I know God designed it that way- cuteness level must equal stubborn level so we don't totally throw the towel in when they get like this.  He puts his arms around my neck and just pulls our heads together until our noses touch.  He is in the that half baby-half big boy stage and I am trying to cherish the baby as long as I can.

After a summer of stupid Lupus flare symptoms, I am finally getting my joint pain under control.  It took adding a new medication, Methotrexate (an oral chemo med).  I couldn't tolerate the Prednisone a second longer so I weaned myself off that in August.  Then in September, I started the Metho. The side effects are crappy but thankfully waning a bit.  I am not sure how long I will be on it.  I initially thought it would be only short term. But I am realizing that since it is working and the nausea/vomitting is getting better, I might not be so quick to come off it for fear that the symptoms would just come right back.  My only concern is this: one of the reasons we took this next step in treatment is that it became clear that the Lupus was no longer content to mess up my joints and had moved to my muscles (aka: severe muscle fatigue and stiffness and even breakdown).  I still seem to be having some of those symptoms and in fact, the stiffness is getting a bit worse.  SOOOO...  I am not sure.  Maybe this is the right drug for me, maybe this is the right diagnosis for me, maybe I am on the right track....  but maybe not.  It sucks to feel so unsure at this point so far down the Lupus road.  
I stopped running back in June after I did the 10K.  It was doing the 10K on like the hottest day of the entire summer that sent my body into full-flare-mode and I am still trying to get back to where I was last Spring when I felt my best.  I am slacking on the gluten-free thing but really want to get better at it 'cuz I think it really does make a difference and might help get some of this predinsone/haven't been running weight off.  

We started going to a new church, joined a new small group, and are planning to spend a week over Christmas at our favorite place to getaway.  So that's where we are these days... consider yourself up to date!  :)  Love to y'all!

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Like Brother, Like Brother

>> Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lucas age 3, 2009
Caden age 3, 2011
 This is just how much of a nerd I am... I dressed both my boys in the same outfit for their first days of preschool.  Yes, I know.  Nerdy motherhood at its finest.  But it gives me a perma grin that I am totally not ashamed of.  I do it because it is cute and I love matching clothes, but also just so I can do posts like this.  Putting these pics side by side brings a continuity to my life is some way.  I love that they are at the same preschool, playing with the same toys and being nurtured by the same teachers.  I love that Caden has Lucas to look up to and that Lucas loves to share his knowledge of this school and his teachers with his younger brother.  I love that sparkle in Caden's eye when he realizes that he is now getting to do all those things he watched with envy as Lucas got to do at school.  And it brings an unspeakable warmth to my soul to listen to Lucas ask Caden about his day and if he got a book from the library or played at the water table.  They are sharing life together and I absolutely love it!  They adore each other.  I mean, they fight.  But they truly are each other's best friend and I hope it stays that way forever. 
But really, I just love it when they match.  :)  I hope this makes you smile a little too. 
Lucas loved the farmhouse and all the animals.  It was an immediate favorite.
Caden playing with the same farm animals
Lucas getting his post-1st day treat
Caden and his cone- I HAD to keep up that tradition!


Sweet Mornings

>> Thursday, August 25, 2011

With Lucas starting school this week (more on that another time), Caden and I have had some really precious time together. We have taken walks and had breakfast together and sat and played Justice League. As emotional as the week has been for me, having these sweet times with Caden has been therapy for my soul. Here are some pics from our walk this morning:

Caden wanted to collect sticks. Our collection got so big, that he had to get out of the wagon and walk. hehe!!
A boy and his pup- they have a special fondness for each other.
After our walk, we sat on the sidewalk and played with superheros. It was too nice to stay inside but we had to get our Justice League time in. :)

Caden starts preschool in a few weeks and I will resume my normal work schedule. But even then, we will have one morning a week for us to spend just the two of us. And I can't wait. :)

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Caden Turns Three!!

>> Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's Caden's turn to be interviewed. I started with Lucas when he turned 3 and today is CADEN'S BIRTHDAY!!! Hooray! We have a fun day planned with the family today- lunch with daddy, Pirate's Cove amusement park and then dinner out somewhere. I love this little guy. He certainly tests my patience and pushes my buttons. But he is so sweet and snuggly and has sings the most angelic little songs. I think Caden might could have a career in music... or maybe football. Or both! :)
So here they are... the thoughts and likes of 3yr old Caden.. enjoy!


cereal- Fruit Loops (he says as he eats the Trix he picked out for his birthday cereal. Although to his defense, I am pretty sure he thinks all "yummy" cereals are Fruit Loops.)
vegetable- carrots
drink- juice
toy- Batman
TV Show- Batman Beyond (which he saw maybe once on demand... but they have a book about it and just read it this morning)
game- Candy World
movie- Rio (he just opened one of his birthday presents- the Rio DVD)
book- Kung Fu Panda
restaurant- Two Toots

If you could change your name, what would you choose? Thor, because I like him. Or a Kung Fu Panda name, like Tigress.

What do you love about each person in our family? Daddy- hugs, Lucas-great hugs, Hadley-I like when him scratches his back. Mommy- I like to play with Momma

Where would you like to go on vacation this year? Vacation Bible School

What are some of your wishes for this year? My wish, that I could go to the moon.

Is there anything are you excited about? Pirates Cove! And that we are staying together (then I got a really big hug!!!)

What can you do when you are 3 that you couldn't do when you were 2? I don't know... get presents? Or Flynn Rider or something... (we just saw Tangled)

What will it be like to be 3? I don't know yet. (fair enough!)

What do you think is the greatest thing about you? Playing. I'm good at eating. (that's debatable) And I am a good singer. (then breaks into song!)

And here are his 3yr. old thoughts on Mommy....

1. What is something mommy always says to you? "Get out of there"
2. What makes mom happy? Talking
3. What makes mom sad? when she gets mad
4. How does mom make you laugh? She does lots of funny things, like laughing.
5. What was your mom like as a child?I don't know...talked about babies (hmmm... interesting) (then he started singing 'Rock-a-bye baby)
6. How old is your mom? 2
7. How tall is your mom? Big
8. What is her favorite thing to do? Play superheros
9. What does your mom do when you're not around? Play drums (Just for the record, I have never played drums in my life. Not even once.)
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? Famous for her little boys
11. What is your mom really good at? Yoga
12. What is your mom not very good at? Hiking (HAHA!! Where did that come from? I couldn't make this stuff up, y'all!)
13. What does your mom do for a job? Go to Work
14.What is your mom's favorite food? Salad
15.What makes you proud of your mom? Awesome things
16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? Super Girl
17. What do you and your mom do together? Play superheros
18. How are you and your mom the same? Sleeping
19. How are you and your mom different?When we aren't sleeping together
20. How do you know your mom loves you? Play with me, and comfort me (aww!!!!)
21. What does your mom like most about your dad? Hugging
22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go? go to Pirate's Cove
Is there anything else you want to say that I can write here? Sorry
(HA!! I guess the way I phrased it was similar to when I am trying to remind him to apologize for something. I guess you can also tell that he has to do that a lot! )

It was funny to watch Lucas listen to Caden's answers. He even remembered some of the order of the questions, asking Caden the next one before I could get to it. He had a hard time not answering for Caden and I had to remind him several times that this was about hearing what Caden had to say. It was fun to look back and see what Lucas said when he was three.

Happy Birthday, sweet Caden. My snuggly, smart little boy. He does love to sing, loves to play superheros with Mommy and Brother and gives some of the best hugs in the whole, wide world. May you always greet the world with smiles and joy. I can't wait to see you grow and become all the you are made to be.

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A Perfect Day

>> Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On Caden's last day of being 2, we took advantage of one of the MOST PERFECT days you could ever hope for and went into the city. We took the train with our buds, walked down to Millenium Park and just had a fabulous time. Games and crafts and blocks in the FamilyFun Tent, lunch at the Bean, an impromptu performance of the CSO (ok , so they were practicing but it was still pretty cool!!), and then an extended amount of time to splash and play in the faces fountain (it probably has an official name that I just don't know). It was perfect! The weather was great, we were with out best buddies and it was a very fun day!!
Tomorrow is Caden's birthday.... gosh. I can't believe he is so big. He has told me twice this week that he really wants to be a "big guy." But I just want him to stay little a bit longer. he is probably my last "little" and am not ready for that stage to be done. Although, I must announce that he is 95% potty trained and I am pretty excited about that!!
Anyway, more on Caden's birthday and his first interview tomorrow but for tonight... some pics from our very fun and practically perfect day.

Align CenterBuilding houses with the blocks in the Family Fun Tent

Caden's serious, mature side as he sits and listens to the Chicago orchestra practice in Milennium Park

All sorts of splashing fun in the faces fountain

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Taking Gratefulness to New Heights

>> Sunday, August 7, 2011

I cross posted this from my DupageMamas blog today. I think it bears repeating...

My baby is about to turn 3 this week. People are always telling moms of young kids to enjoy these early years because the time goes fast. Too fast. I used to just smile and humor whoever was saying it this time. But these days, I breathe deep and nod my head because I am seeing how true that is. Too true. My hubby and I took our boys to a movie in the park last night. As we sat in the dusk light, waiting for the movie to start, my little guy was in my lap and my older son sitting between my Hubby and I. I felt a wave of something rush over. Looking at my boys, I just felt so, so grateful. Grateful for this fun summer moment, all sitting in the grass together eating candy and watching this movie. Grateful for our little family, for these boys and the Hubs. This gratefulness brought along with it it's cousin contentment and I sat there and just drank it all in.

Because of the movie, the boys went to bed late but yet they woke up at the exact same time as usual. This made for some general crankiness today. Last night's emotional rush was lingering still but was somewhat lessened by having to referee fights and squash the whining. I left Hubby to do lunch and naps and headed for the Flashes of Hope Peds in the Weeds picnic for families of chronically and terminally ill children. My good friend Carrie runs the FOH Chicago chapter and I offered to volunteer at the photo shoot they ran at today's event. (If you don't know about Flashes of Hope, check out the website. They provide free professional pics of kids and their families.)

Seeing these kids and their families today was more than inspiring. I have been hugging my sweet 3yr old tighter this week anyway for lots of reasons. But coming home today, I made sure to take both boys and squeeze them until they almost popped. Then came that rush of gratefulness all over.

I had a brief conversation today with a mom of a 2 and a half year old boy with some complex medical issues. She didn't get into it, I didn't ask. It didn't matter. He was one of the most delightful, precious little boys I have ever met. He radiated happiness and joy, and so did his 3sisters and 2brothers. It was quite evident that they are all so grateful for each other, no matter what life is bringing their way. It was truly inspiring to watch this family love each other and this little boy so much that is was palpable to a bystander like me.

Life throws a lot at all of us. Sometimes, it is easy to tell myself that I have had more than my fair share. But all I have to do is look around and get my eyes off me to realize that is so far from true. I have SO much to be grateful for. My boys are the biggest thing but not the only things by a long shot. I felt grateful for them last night. But being at this picnic today took my gratefulness to new heights.

Thank you Carrie and FOH for the joy you bring to these families. And thank you for letting me be a tiny part of it today. I walked away feeling more like myself than I have felt in awhile. Funny how that happens when I get my eyes off me.

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The Heart of This Boy

>> Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rather abruptly at lunch yesterday, Lucas announced that he really wants a sister. But not a baby sister "from my tummy." He wants us to adopt a sister that is closer to his age so he has someone to play with. He said he had been "really thinking about this." I could see it on his face. He was very serious and thoughtful. It was not a whim discussion. And although his comments caught me off guard, they did not catch me by surprise.

He has said before that he would like a sister, but has never been so specific about adoption and wanting an older girl to join our family. I know that part of this adoption idea being sparked in his head comes from asking about a book I just finished that tells the story of a family's adoption journey. But it wasn't like he was borrowing an idea. It was more that one had been uncovered and he now had words for it.

His words were both tender and funny. He has figured out where "our girl" would sleep and sit in the car and at our table. He has an idea of what her name should be but he's not ready to share that yet. The longer we talked about it, the more he wanted to say. It was as if he could picture it more and more and couldn't contain how much he would love if it all actually came to be. I kept asking why he thought he wanted a sister, specifically one his age. After saying "I just do" about a dozen times, he finally got quiet.

"Sometimes, I just feel like I don't want to be the oldest. Like if my brother were here, I would have someone to be with me." My heart stopped for a moment. There it is. The root of this is a longing that I totally get. I feel it with him, I just didn't know he felt it like this. He misses his brother.

When asked why missing Micah makes him want to have a sister and not an older brother, his reply brought some much needed tension release to the moment. Pointing at Caden he says, "Well, I have already seen how that goes and I think I want to try a sister this time." LOL! (disclaimer: These boys LOVE being together and LOVE playing together. Caden is just a bit intense for Lucas sometimes and a bit frustrating at this stage.)

I relayed this conversation to Hubby later in the afternoon, but more in a "hear the cute things our son said" kind of tone. When really, his words have touched a deep place in my soul. I don't know if we would ever adopt another child or not. Reading this book has certainly revived a desire I have had since high school to share our family's love with a child who may be in need of some. But parenting these boys is hard and makes me wonder if I have what it would take to parent through an adoption and be the right kind of mother to a girl of any age. But Lucas' words still ring in my ears. Is God using my 5yr old to water a seed?

I certainly don't know yet. I told Lucas that as a family we could talk more about this and pray about it. I told him he should ask God if this is right for our family and see what God says. But no matter what, if any, concrete action comes from this lunch conversation, I at the very least got a glimpse into the soul of my son and it was precious. So very precious. He has such a tender, little heart that longs for a brother he has never met. This visceral longing that has forever changed me resides also deep in this boy that, in many ways, rescued my soul from darkness. He also longs for a sister and I just can't dismiss that. I think I might long for that too. But the thought of bringing a little girl into our family, no matter the route, is daunting and a bit terrifying to me.
I am grateful for the heart of this little boy. I am touched by his words and thoughts and fully aware of God working in his soul. And mine.

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