Thursday, December 12, 2013

Alcohol is totally okay for babies.

I have this really great friend who was telling me about this book I should read. The book is all about getting creative, and letting our kids see us make space to be creative. I still haven't read this book, and I don't know the title of it, but I totally recommend it.

Anyway, in honor of the spirit of this book I haven't read, I've started trying to make space for creativity.

Yesterday I made this:

When I was in 7th grade I told everyone I wanted to be an impressionist painter.

Probably a good idea that I moved on. It is fun to paint, and it felt good to create. I do so adore  Mason jars. The bonus of this whole thing was that for once I was actually, and it's not too painful to say this, thankful for the lace curtains that hang (or used to) in this house.

What I really miss doing is writing. I do love to tell a good story. This past year, moving into our new house, and becoming the mama to three, I've learned a lot. I thought I'd start telling stories about these little lessons. I hope you enjoy them.

One day, after the craziness of RSV was over, I was having a good day. You know those days. I was totally rocking the mama thing:

  • I had taken a shower and even slapped on some makeup. 
  • All three girls were dressed in something other than pajamas. 
  • I organized and executed a craft for Brynne and Hadley all while I was nursing Ruby. 

Yeah. I had this, Being the Mama of Three, figured out. Nailed it. Totally not hard.

I had even made dinner. From scratch.

I left Ruby, contentedly playing on her play mat, while Brynne and Hadley were reading books nearby, so I could check on dinner, baking in the oven.

When I came back, I found Brynne and Hadley "giving Ruby her medicine" from the diaper caddy:

"Kills over 99.9% of harmful bacteria," and I was 99.9% positive it was going to kill Ruby too.

You remember these?

This is Mr. Yuk. He even has his own Facebook page!

I can remember one sticking to our rotary phone when I was growing up, but we are just not cool enough, or smart enough to have a rotary phone.
Note to self: Buy a rotary phone and promptly stick Mr. Yuk on the receiver!!
So, I had to waste 90 seconds of precious time finding the number online.

The nurse was great, she told me that I needed to nurse Ruby right away, and that a baby her size could drink up to two teaspoons of strait ethyl alcohol, before it's a problem. TWO TEASPOONS!

I was pretty sure that her little doctors couldn't have squirted two teaspoons into her mouth, especially since, like the cooperative patient that she is, Ruby had spit it out all over her face. The spit had an interesting powdery texture, so I, rationally, assumed she was also foaming at the mouth, and that there was still a 75% chance that Ruby was going to die.

To assure me, Brynne and Hadley explained that since Ruby was spitting up her "medicine" they were sopping it up with baby powder (also from the diaper caddy), which had pooled in white, sticky clumps in her ear, and around her neck.

The nurse said that as long as she didn't inhale it into her lungs, she would be fine, and I should just monitor her breathing to make sure.

After the excitement had died down, Ruby's life expectancy was dialed back to normal, and I could speak without shrieking, Brynne and Hadley and I had a talk.

For days afterwards, I would routinely hear their sweet little voices saying,
Ruby only eats Mama's nipples. 
Perfect. So. We all learned a lesson.

P.S. Before someone emails me about the dangers of baby powder, and how babies can inhale it and die...I know this. I have never used baby powder for anything other than throwing some on top of a stinky diaper in the trash. I do this, so I don't have to take out the trash. I have no idea why I had baby powder in the diaper caddy, and it isn't there any more.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Little 90s Flava For Your Wednesday

So. After writing my last post, I had Salt n Pepa's, Let's Talk About Sex, running through my head for days.

Any day with a little Salt n Pepa, is a good day, I always say.

When I set about to writing for this series, my intention was not to talk about sex, necessarily, but rather loving my husband intentionally.

Sometimes when I write things, the idea I have in my head is not at all what I end up with in the end. I was always really terrible at outlining those five paragraph essays in school.

Anyway, before I move on, a disclaimer:
Sex is an uncomfortable topic---for some. And peering into someone's bedroom, is even more uncomfortable (sorry Mom and Dad). You should know that Brad reads these posts before they're published, and he has full nix-the-whole-thing-right-before-it's-due power. Several people told me they didn't think their husbands would have been cool them putting it out there like this. Brad, rather than decoy, avoid, or make void the topic, was open to letting me talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be. We pray that this peek into our lives encourages mamas in the same weary season of life, or maybe prepares you if you're not a mama yet.
So. On intentionality.

I don't know that I have one love language.

I feel loved when people are intentional. We're all busy people, right? But, when someone takes a moment to
  • bring me a cup of coffee
  • give me a hug
  • spend time chatting with me
  • create the perfect gift that they know I'll appreciate
I feel loved. Because I is sacrifice, and people give to what they love.


To read more, and to learn how all this relates to zombies...

...yes, I'm serious. 

Please click here

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Excuse me? You want to do what right now???

As a mama of a six-month-old and two three year olds, I am in a season of life that leaves me just bone-tired.

I love the way Steve Weins describes this level of tired,
Ragged, how-am-I-going-to-make-it-to-the-end-of-the-day, eyes-burning exhausted.
Nailed it, right?

I don't know how you make it through days like this. I, pretty much function on coffee, prayer, and the hope that schedules will align, and just maybe (please, please, please-with-a-cherry-on-top, God?) all three girls will be down for a nap at the same time.

By eight, most nights, all three girls are in bed---we might come to the 8:00 bedtime limping and barely hanging on, but we get there. Then, Brad and I enjoy a bit of time together before we head to bed.

So. Here's the scene:

Teeth freshly brushed, face washed, comfy pajamas on, lights off, head nestled into my pillow, eyelids heavy, soon to be asleep---when it happens---my husband speaks into the quiet darkness of our room, asking for some "couple time".


Please jump over here to read the rest of this post, where my friend, Melissa, is hosting a blogging series called Construction School for Wives.

She's asked me to write about marriage---something I'm totally an expert in. I mean----if marriage were a college course, I would have an A+. My name is totally synonymous with being a rock-star wife.


Maybe I really struggle, and the only reason it works out at all is because of a  whole lotta prayer and endless grace.

Maybe you can relate?


Maybe you're the rock-star wife.

Either way----love to hear from you.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The one where I run a victory lap

Mama, I'm sorry for yelling at you. Please forgive me?
Came the sweet whisper from my daughter, quiet and repentant, as her arms wrapped around my middle searching for grace.

I exhale silent thanks, hugging her back. Restoring the relationship she feared broken.

Honestly, the defiant talk, the yelling, the arguing between my girls comes so frequently some days that I ignore it sometimes---head-in-the-sand, because you never can tell, there might be dandelions and baby smiles in the sand.


Conviction pierced my girl's tiny heart, and she sought forgiveness completely unprompted--this was huge, HUGE, I tell you!

In my head I'm all:
For the love, FINALLY! all the shepherding, teaching, redirecting, disciplining, torturous I-just-don't-know-what-to-do, tear-shedding moments have paid off---it's actually sinking in. Sweet, Jesus, thank you!  
And then, I can actually hear the Chariots of Fire theme song.
Duun dun dun dun duun duuuun. Dun dun dun dundun.....

They say pride goes before the fall.


I was that kid in yellow with a mouthful of grass and dirt. As the same repentant daughter slunk away as her sister, with disheveled hair and a tear-streaked face, accused,
Mama! She tired to bite off my ponytail. 
Whatever, you guys! Victory laps are totally overrated.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The one where all my babies took a nap at the same time, and I should have joined them, but instead I wrote a blog post.

All my babies are asleep right now. I almost don't know what to do with myself!

So, I've decided that I'll blog for a moment.

Here's life for us lately:

photography by Ryan Beard
Dandelions and baby smiles.

We're excited to print these pictures off, so that there will be photographic evidence in this house that Ruby exists. At the rate we're going, she's going to come to me in a puddle of hormonal tears when she's 13, convinced that she was really adopted, and we just haven't told her yet.


Ruby is almost five months old.

We've lived in our new house just slightly longer than that, but not long enough for Brynne and Hadley to stop referring to it as "The New House".

Every day I fight this battle with restlessness, because there are a million and five things on my list of things to do.

Here's one of my flower gardens:

Here's our house:

It's amazing. Built in 1867, it's all my Laura-Ingalls-Wilder-Anne-of-Green-Gables-The-Secret-Garden-Downton-Abbey dreams realized.

It's also a lot of work.

The garden is a weed-fest, and the floors of my house are currently covered in a layer of sawdust, because we are having air conditioning put in this week.

So, when I get to the Jessie-Spano-caffine-pill-freak-out moment of realizing I can't do it all...

...I have to remind myself that there will always be something to do in this house, and with our five-acre yard. 


My worth and value is not determined by how many weeds are in my garden, or how diligently I sweep up behind the air-conditioning-installer people. 

I am enough. We have enough. Weedy gardens and all. 

Then I go back to enjoying baby smiles and dandelions.

I hope you're finding dandelions and baby smiles in your day (sometimes they're hard to find when you have sawdusty floors). 

P.S. The series finale of Saved By The Bell was 20 years ago today. That makes me feel old. 


Back to dandelions and baby smiles. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

The one where I say yes.

There is only one man in all the world
and his name is All Men.
There is only one woman in all the world
and her name is All Women 
There is only one child in the world
and the child's name is All Children
~Carl Sandberg
In early February, despite lots of hand sanitizer, breastmilk and frequent reminders to, "Cough into your elbow, please," all three of my girls got RSV.

Upon getting the diagnosis, I covered my daughter's ears, so that I could utter desperate and cathartic prayers/curse words, and break down crying in front of my pediatrician.

And then this:

More desperate and cathartic swearing/praying as my sweet six-week-old, Ruby, landed herself in the hospital.
I'm pretty convinced that on the inside, we are all whiny, selfish three-year-olds.

I actually have two whiny, selfish three-year-olds, both inside and out. One thing I really love about one of them, my daughter, Brynne, is her honesty about what she needs. After a good ole RSV- coughing-fit, she would scream say things like:
I'm sick! I'm SO sick! Please hold me, Mama, I'm SO sick! 
I have no idea where her flair for drama comes from....


When Brynne asked to be held in her helpless, whiny, sick state---sometimes I would be filled with compassion, and hold her. And, sometimes my own inner-whiny-selfish-three-year-old won out, and I just could not muster up any grace for my daughter. I just can't be a rock-star parent all the time!


I think God sorta digs the whole whiny-selfish-three-year-old thing, in fact, I think that's why he said, Let the children come to me...:
I'm tired! I'm SO tired! Please hold me, Jesus, I'm SO tired!
Jesus is a rock-star parent all the time. He wants to hold me anytime my whiny three-year-old self needs him to. And he really wants to hold you too.  

So, through this whole RSV ordeal, I've learned a few things. Jesus really can hold you. I mean, really, physically hold you. You just need to do two things:
1. Do not, under any circumstances, use any variation of the phrase, "I'm fine."
That terrible "f" word. F-I-N-E

People love to give. We are all constantly fighting our inner whiny-selfish-three-year-old. It's hard some times. No one wants to be a jerk all of the time. One of the best ways to fight that inner jerk is to serve others. Please, please allow people to serve you! Think of it as doing your civic duty to keep jerks at bay.

We belong to each other. Mr. Carl Sandberg got it right---we are All Men, All Women, All Children. We were designed to be in community to serve one another to love one another---you should not walk through hard things alone. Embrace community---let community love you and serve you.

Nothing squelches community more than the "f" word. Swallow that word and pride and...
2. Say yes.
When people offered to bring me good coffee, non-hospital food, a shoulder to cry on, arms to hold Ruby, so I could take a shower or sleep---I said, "Yes!" I mean, really, who can say no to good coffee?!

This wasn't, and still isn't easy for me to admit that I can't do it all. That I'm not God.

But---that's a good place to be.

I'm actually thankful that I was in that place of desperation.

Not because my girls were sick, but because, when I said yes, I felt God's arms wrap around me tightly through each generous act of love. I felt others carry my burden.

Sleep-sacrificing, good-coffee-bringing, burden-carrying---this is what Jesus was talking about when he told us to love one another. That is community. 

And. When you let your community love you like that---that is what it feels like when God holds you. 

I want to challenge you. Be in community. Let yourself be known. Love. Be loved. And. Say yes! You'll feel God holding you too.

Linking with Jen.

Friday, January 25, 2013

When Satan Tempts Me To Despair

The morning of January third dawned early. I breakfasted and prepared to go welcome Ruby into the world.

It was a little overwhelming. With a push, life was going to change. Dramatically.

I found myself weepy, and despairing. My very unreliable, pregnancy-hormone-driven feelings were ruling my head and my heart. No matter what truth I told myself, I worried and feared and grieved.

Sometimes grieving the old is necessary in order to welcome the new. But it's not healthy to wallow in that place. Especially not on your kid's birthday.

As I was leaving all choked up, I told my friend, who was watching Brynne and Hadley for us, that I was struggling, and to pray for me. She told me she would pray, and would love to give me a hug, but she hadn't brushed her teeth yet. Ha! That's one of the many reasons I love her. So thankful for the levity she offered in that moment.  

This is one of her favorite verses:
The Lord will fight for you; you need only be silent. ~Exodus 14:14
 Easier to listen to God when you're silent.
Silence requires the discipline to recognize the urge to get up and go again as a temptation to look elsewhere for what is close at hand. It offers the freedom to stroll in your own inner yard, and to rake up the leaves there and clear the paths so you can easily find the way to your heart. Perhaps there will be much fear and uncertainty when you first come upon the "unfamiliar terrain", but slowly and surely you will discover an order and familiarity which deepens your longing to stay home...whenever you come upon this silence, it seems as though you have received a gift, one which is "promising" in the true sense of the word. It promises new life. It is the silence of peace and prayer, because it brings you back to the One who is leading you. ~Henri Nouwen
It was a gift, this silence. As I welcomed endured those blasted pitocin-induced contractions, my head and my heart were full of truth. Fear and worry melted away. I was thankful---especially once I had an epidural.

(And can I just say---if you labored and delivered naturally with pitocin, you are my hero. I just couldn't hang.)

In that place of quiet. I was able to see the gift of welcoming Ruby into the world. 

If you've had twins, you know how crazy the birth can be. If you haven't, here's a glipse at our experience: we delivered in the sterile, very cold operating room. There were at least 10 people (nurses, my doctor, pediatricians, respiratory therapists, and others) waiting to welcome our 35 weekers. The girls got whisked away right after they were born to regulate their temperatures and to help them breathe better. Then, EVERYONE wanted to meet our girls---it was a circus in my hospital room non-stop from morning till evening, and we had no time get to know our girls. They discovered that Brynne had a heart defect, and her beautiful lips kept turning a scary shade of blue. Then, Brynne was transferred to the NICU at another hospital. Brad went with her, and I stayed with Hadley. 

I don't know what I expected, but that was hard and overwhelming.

Ruby's birth was different. Peaceful. Beautiful.
  • We delivered in a normal delivery room. 
  • There were only three medical people in the room. 
  • They put Ruby on my chest the second she was born. (I had no idea they even did that!)
  • And, more. They didn't whisk her away anywhere. They let her stay and hang out for awhile before they cleaned her up. 
  • I got to breastfeed her right away. 
  • The heart defect she had in my belly was gone. I asked every.single.time a nurse or doctor checked out Ruby, just to make sure the last person hadn't missed anything. Her heart is perfect.  
  • Hardly anyone knew we were in labor, so there were no texts or facebook distractions. We were fully present to the miracle of Ruby's entrance into the world. 
  • We had no visitors (other than Brynne and Hadley). So we enjoyed lots of newborn snuggles.
The whole experience was so redeeming for me. Silence allowed the full weight of that to soak in.  To revel in joy and thanksgiving. To rest. To bond with sweet Ruby.

A slow stillness of the new. And a joy of this most precious gift. 

A friend from church, quite unexpectedly, took this picture of me and Ruby. Ruby was just a little over a week old, I'm quite sure I was sleep-deprived. I love this moment he captured! It's real. It's beautiful. I don't have on makeup, my hair isn't done, I forgot to put on earrings. But I got in the picture, and I'm really glad I did. There's a joy, a glow that he captured that is sacred and lovely. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Brynne and Hadley have an announcement...

...they are big sisters!

Ruby Edith 
03 January 2013
9 pounds
20 inches long

I've wanted to put something up here for days now. It's a challenge when I don't often have two free hands, so I'm going with short and sweet. 

There's the hope that I'll be able to write more soon---we'll see.

All is well. Our three little girls are adjusting better than I could have ever imagined, largely due to the overwhelming love and support we've received from our community here. We are blessed to do life with some amazingly generous people, who love us well---what a gift.

Our hearts (and our hands) are full of good things.