Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Okay, so I know Halloween can be a gray area for Christians...lots of people on both sides of the fence and some who can't decide which side to be on so they ride in the middle. Personally, I love the holiday.  Love the origins?  Not so much.  But like many holidays, the origins have been convoluted and what we celebrate leaves barely a shadow of the original intentions visible.  So what I'm saying is...I love to dress up!  Actually, now that I have kids I love to dress them up.  Little, little kids are the best because they don't have an opinion on what they should be, so you can come up with a clever costume scheme and force them to be a part of it.  Hee, hee, hee. (You can't see me, but I'm rubbing my hands together sinisterly.)

So my clever costume scheme this year?  Well, you can't call it my clever scheme, because this year my idea (like most of my ideas lately) came from the wonderful world of Pinterest.  Despicable Me has been an all-time favorite at our house for the past few years, and with the second one coming out I thought minions would be the perfect costume for these boys.  After all, most of their antics are strangely similar to those of the little yellow dudes from the movie.  And don't worry...I wasn't going to leave Gregg out.  We needed a Gru.  I mean, c'mon...doesn't this look like my crew?

Please don't think me a horrible person when I confess this next part, but when I found out Halloween fell on a Wednesday I was a little bit bummed.  "Why?" you ask.  Wednesday is AWANA night.  Most churches offer some sort of trick-or-treating alternative on Halloween and our church is no different.  We planned on doing our AWANA Family Fun night on Halloween complete with carnival games and candy.  Sounds fun, yeah, I know.  But there was one catch...costume restrictions.  The deal was you had to come as either a Bible character or one of God's creatures (ie. an animal of some sort), so herein lies my minions for us this year.  Normally this wouldn't phase us too much...we'd just skip the church scene and go trick-or-treating.  (Seriously, I'm not a horrible person.)  But since G and I are in AWANA leadership this year, we didn't even see not going as on option.  So on to new costume ideas.

Cupcakes before the party?  Gosh, we're horrible parents.
We had a few old costumes lying around.  Will was a lion for Halloween a few years ago, so I figured that would work for Micah.  Easy.  Done.  But a Bible character for Will?  All I could think of was a former pastor who told us about their boys' take on Bible character costumes.  Over the years they had a few interesting ones...John the Baptist.  Not so weird, right?  Oh, wait...after he was beheaded.  And Jonah.  Again not so weird, unless it was after he was puked up by the whale.  Oh, I miss you guys (you know who you are)!  Gregg did have another idea. "Let's put a sandwich board on him with 'Repent! The End is Near!' on it."  Another John the Baptist idea.  Funny, but I didn't figure anyone else would appreciate it as much as we did.  So back to the drawing board...or Pinterest, I mean.  (I'm beginning to think I really do have a problem.)  Now I love Pinterest...obviously, but it failed me on the Bible character costume front.  I had to use regular Google.  Pssh, honestly...after how far we've come.  Either way, we found this cute costume that had a kid with a cardboard Ark attached to him.  Yay, Noah!  One problem...I was trying to come up with this idea on Halloween time to make an Ark.  Then another brilliant idea from the engineer.  "Why don't you just tie a bunch of stuffed animals to him and he can still be Noah?"  Hmm.  I knew I married you for a reason.

So, Noah it was!  Unfortunately getting Will to go along with it was a whole other issue.  All his buds at school were Captain America or Spiderman or something else really cool that I don't even know about.  Noah?  To a five year old...not so cool.  He whined the whole time he had it on.  "This isn't my favorite."  I once heard there was a study that concluded people found the sound of a child whining something like ten times more annoying than fingernails on a chalkboard.  I completely concur.  So after about ten minutes of that I asked him, "You wanna be the lion instead?"  YES!!!!!  Fine, costume swap.  Thankfully the lion was a little big on Micah and actually still fit Will really well.  And since most of the stuffed animals were Micah's, it wasn't too hard to convince him either.  So here's what we came up with.

Noah and a few of his animal friends

Will with his best scary lion face
Will got these vampire teeth from his school party which actually worked perfectly for lion teeth.  The bling? I have no clue where that idea came from...that's all him.  Noah didn't turn out half-bad, either.  Gregg actually said it was the cutest costume we've ever come up with.  (Pat on the back, Team Schmidt!)  Best part about it?  FREE!!!  Mom's scarf and sweater, Dad's old white tee, some flippy flops and you got yourself a pretty adorable Noah.  Huh, who knows...maybe we'll be Bible characters every year. 

And the most important part of the night...the boys had a blast and ate too much candy.  In fact Will is home sick today with an upset tummy.  Not sure if it's an actual stomach bug or sugar gut, but I'm not chancing sending him to school and puking in the middle of his classroom.  I've already been that mom this year and it's only the beginning of November.  We'll hunker down today and hope it passes. 

Our cute little Noah on his way to the party
The lion at the end of the night already looking pretty sick

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In the Throes of Chronic Disease

Disease?  I swear I'm not infectious...well...maybe I could pass this sniffle along to you, but that's not what I'm talking about here.  It's been just about a year now since I started down this road that is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and like it or not I've got to come to terms with this word.  Illness?  Syndrome?  Disorder?  None sound particularly appealing or something I want to be associated with, but I guess I have no choice, right? 

I've had a few people lately ask me how I'm doing (thank you!) and it made me realize I haven't really given an update lately.  Not that you all need one, but I sometimes just need to get this stuff out.  Maybe more to help me come to terms with some of these thoughts rolling around in my head.  Truth is, I don't know how to respond to the question, "How are you doing?" with a concise, honest answer.  Quick and easy (and maybe what some people are hoping to hear), "I'm fine."  And that's true most of the time.  Long answer and the one some people really don't have time for (and please believe when I say I'm not trying to be cynical here, but regrettably I have been that person before), "Some days I want to stay in bed because I know when my feet hit the floor it will feel like someone was whacking them all night with a baseball bat.  Some days I can barely work a computer mouse because of pain in my fingers, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Some days I'm so tired I could fall asleep in two seconds even if sitting straight up on a hard rock.  Some days I feel completely 100% normal.  So how are you?"  Smile. So how do I answer that question?  I find myself saying things that don't really mean anything like, "It is what it is."  Well, isn't it?

When I first got diagnosed with this...disease, my mind went straight to the long term 'what if's.'  What if I develop pulmonary fibrosis? Heart failure? Vascular insufficiency? And on and on and on.  I don't think I ever really thought about the day to day issues that come with a chronic illness like RA.  Honestly (and here's the cynic in me), whenever I heard other people talk about chronic conditions that dealt with subjective issues such as pain or fatigue (fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc) I just wanted to tell them to suck it up.  Get some more sleep, take an ibuprofen, and get over it.  We all have our issues.  These thoughts intensified after Eric died. (For those that don't know Eric is Gregg's brother that died a few years ago from cancer.)  It could be a lot worse, people...a lot worse.  And while I know that's true, I have to stop and apologize here to anyone I've ever had this thought toward (you probably didn't even know it).  These things, although not as scary, not as painful, not as tortuous as something like I perceive cancer to be...they are real.  And as I've come to realize from personal experience, the psychological warfare that goes along with these types of conditions can be pretty deep and dark and scary.

For some reason, as I was getting ready to go to bed a few nights ago, the thought hit me, "This is going to be your life for the rest of your life."  The thought of being on this roller coaster ride of pain and fatigue and not really knowing what's going to happen next for the rest of my life is seriously too much for me to take in.  It's too big.  Too overwhelming.  It's gotten to the point where when I'm on the top of a hill I can't even enjoy it because I'm just anticipating the next drop.  It seems like it's almost inevitable. 

The term 'new normal' is one that's become all too familiar since Eric's passing.  It's a reality that most of us have to deal is an ever dynamic entity that often does not go the way we planned or hoped it would.  This is my new normal that I have to get used to.  And taking it even further, there are going to be many more 'new normals' to come...and I will have to get used to each one of them.  I guess this is me saying to myself, "Self, suck it up!"  Because if I don't...if I just keep on with this "this is my life" crap, then I will quickly slip into the next battle of that psychological warfare I was talking about...maybe you're familiar with it...self pity?  If I don't suck it up, my focus turns inward and it becomes all about me and what I'm feeling and what I don't get to do anymore and the plans I had for my life that will probably never come to fruition.  Sound like a very healthy place to be?  I think not.

Now I'm not saying that if you suddenly find yourself in a similar situation to completely ignore these push them to the very backs of your minds with no intention of ever digging them back out again.  There is a fine line between going full on into battle (and trust me, self pity is a self-perpetuating, never-ending, hopeless battle) and crowning yourself the Queen of Denial with the "Problem? There's no problem here" mindset.  No, this stuff isn't to be ignored, either. 

So here's a lesson that I learned from my late brother-in-law.  It's one that he taught by example...through how he lived when he was sicker than sick.  He took his concerns, issues, and fears (and yes, he had them) to the only place that promises true rest.  He took them straight to the feet of Jesus and laid them down.  Even though he was going through what were most likely the most difficult moments of his life, Eric gave it back to God and kept James 1:2 close to his heart (and often recited it out loud in the throes of his battle). "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds..."  I personally never once heard Eric complain or bask in self pity...and if ever there was someone who you could called justified to do so, it was him...young wife, new baby, great career.  I'm sure those "Why me?" thoughts crossed his mind, but he seldom if ever let you know it.  In fact, in his last few months when he was too weak to get out and do much, he called other people...not to ask them to pray for him, but ask how he could pray for them.  Uh...that's not normal, folks.  That's pretty much completely contrary to our human nature.  That's evidence of the Holy Spirit that resided in him. 

So, yes these subjective issues that I used to roll my eyes at and that I now find myself in the thick of are entirely real, but they are not invitations to sit back and wallow in my own little world and worry about what's going to happen to me in the future.  But there is an invitation to lay these thoughts and fears down with my Savior.  And once they're there, then I can finally look outward and see there are other people that need their burdens lifted too.  Maybe then, instead of wallowing I can use the constant (and often more than annoying) presence of this disease to be a constant reminder to me to lift someone else and their need up in prayer.  Lord knows we all need it. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fishin' with Papa

A few weeks ago G and I packed up the boys and boarded a jet plane to make our way across the country to visit my grandparents in Virginia.  The only thing on the agenda (besides getting out there after nine long years) was to take the boys fishing.  Will discovered the patience-requiring, slimy past time this past summer and he loved it...when he was catching something, that is.  (Good thing we found a super secret spot that seems to be loaded with blue gills!)  And since fishing is something that's always been near and dear to my grandpa's (aka. Papa's) heart, I thought it would be just the thing to make out visit perfect. After waiting on the rain for two days, we finally got to go and of course I brought along the camera to capture our picture-perfect outing. :)  The pics I got were too sweet not to share. I'll apologize in advance for most of them being back shots but since I can't walk on water and I didn't trust the weather-worn boats at the dock, it was pretty unfeasible to get their faces!

First steps out on the dock to fish with Papa

Just two dudes on a dock waitin' for a fish
Fishing with of the best places to be
Trouble shooting
Preppin' the worm
 And my all-time favorite...

Just steals your heart, doesn't it?  Even though you can only see a fraction of this kid's gigantic head (seriously, I've had to pass on some of his shirts because they don't fit over his noggin), the way he's snuggled into my grandpa just makes me smile.  

Picture-perfect, right?  Ha!  Most of these were taken in the first fifteen minutes of the fishing adventure. Then we got a lot of this...

"I wanna hode da powe!  I wanna hode da powe!!!"  Yes, Micah, but if we give you the pole there's a good chance either you or the pole (or both) will end up in the pond and I don't want to go swimming today.

And then boredom set in..."you're supposed to catch fish on a fishing trip, right mom?"  So we got a lot of this...

Mucky pond grass is much more fun to fling around than an empty fishing line.  Oh, please don't let him fall in...not swimming today, remember?

But we finally did achieve success.  Even though it was only a little guy, it made for two happy fishermen. He even reeled him in himself...mostly. :)  Pretty proud five-year-old.

"Touch him, mom.  He's soft!"  No thanks, buddy. I'll pass.
So all-in-all a successful trip with some good memories.  I'll try to mostly remember the ones from the pictures and not the ones of Micah running and tripping over the water-warped boards of the dock and almost falling into the water on numerous occasions.  Ugh, that boy makes my stomach jump into my throat on a daily (sometimes the minute?) basis.  

Ahhh...there are their faces.  Good times.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gripped By Fear

I have flown all my life.  My dad was in the Air Force (yes, I'm a military brat and unfortunately I live up to the latter part of that title more often than I'd like to admit).  He did multiple tours overseas which means I am no rookie when it comes to checking my bags.  I don't remember ever being afraid to fly when I was a kid, or a teenager, or even when I was in college, but over the past few years I have developed the most intense, crazy, and unwarranted fear of those winged metal beasts.  I think it originated with the first plane ride I took without Will.  Being away from my baby was just too much for me to handle.  What if the landing gear fails? Or the cabin becomes depressurized? Or the tail breaks off? Or...or...what if we fly over some weird time warp, disappearing island thing and we go to this scary purgatory, limbo place where we're dead but we all think we're still alive and there's some smoke monster trying to get us?  What if?!?!?!?!?!?  Hold on...let me calm down.  I'm getting a little worked up here just thinking about it.  ***************Dramatic pause**************  Ah, there.

So I was saying, or had I gotten there yet?  Anyway, a few months ago my paternal grandpa died and when that sort of thing happens, it kind of makes you stop and reevaluate.  So Gregg and I decided it was time to make a trip out to see my mom's parents in Virginia since we hadn't been there since we first got married nine years ago and the boys had never been.  They so selflessly drive out to see us every year, but we hadn't made the effort to make the trip ourselves.  Yes, it was time.  None of us are getting any younger, right? 

So last week I asked Will if he was getting excited about our upcoming trip to see Nannie and Papa to which he answered with an uninhibited, "YES!!"  Then the real question I was wondering about...the one I needed to answer for myself..."Are you afraid to fly on the airplane?"  He looked at me like I was crazy, "No."  As in, "Duh, mom.  Why would I be afraid of that?"  And he wasn't kidding.  Does this look like the face of someone who's afraid to speed down the runway at 300 miles per hour then do what is completely unnatural for us two-legged, upright-walking folk and actually leave the ground thousands of feet behind?  Judge for yourselves.

He actually looks a little wild-haired and crazy-eyed here, but not afraid. No, not afraid.  Almost the whole time we were in the air he was talking about how cool it was to be up there above the clouds.  In fact, on one of our last flights (we rode a total of five planes...stupid small airports that don't fly anywhere useful) we had quite a bit of turbulence.  Gregg assured me it was normal but I knew he was just trying to console me before we plummeted to our horrible death.  As we're being tossed (I swear I'm not being dramatic...much) by the winds and air currents or whatever it is that causes the "unexpected rough air," I'm holding onto the arm rests with the grip of death just praying we would live through this.  All the while Will is sitting next to me, "Woah, woah! We're flying all crazy! This is fun...isn't this fun, mom?"  Me through gritted teeth, "Not so much, buddy.  Not so much."  When we finally landed, he asked, "Are we on the ground again?"  Yes, bud (do you feel the relief?).  "Awwww, maaaaan!!!"  Me on the other hand?  I said a little prayer of thanks.

Now here's a kid that speaks my heart language a little more closely than my first born.  His excitement toward the plane ride went only as far as the idea.  He didn't echo the fear that was seeping from my pores, but his nervousness shone through on our first take off.  As soon as we started speeding toward flight I could hear his little voice from behind me, "Oooo, I'm okay. I'm okaaaaay.  Too sca-wee.  I'm okay."  Yes, Micah.  Keep talking. Convince me too.  And he again spoke my mind today as we landed for the final time on this trip, "Yay! We made it!  It's not too sca-wee!"  Nope, not that we're on the ground now.

As silly as this may sound, this is something I've been struggling with for weeks.  I laid in bed at night struggling to sleep because I was thinking of how I was putting my babies at risk by putting them on an airplane.  I know they say you're safer in the air. Well, whoever "they" is, I sure don't feel safer....especially not when it comes to my boys.  It's the total lack of control.  I'm not driving.  I can't get out.  I have absolutely no way to influence the outcome of this plane ride.  No control.  And that, my friends is really the source of the fear.

I prayed long and hard about this because I know this fear is not of God.  He tells us over and over again in His Word not to fear, yet I couldn't let it go.  I kept justifying it with, "But it's my boys, Lord.  It's not me I'm worried's my boys."  Now without getting into a topic that I am completely unqualified to debate, I believe there is an age (or maybe point is a better word) of accountability.  In the later verses of John 9 Jesus speaks of spiritual blindness after he heals a man's physical blindness.  In verse 41 He says, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains."  Many have suggested that this implies there is a point up to which we will not be held accountable for the sin we are all guilty of.  It seems from this verse that He shows mercy to those that lack understanding with regards to right, wrong, sin, and the hopeless need for Jesus as Savior.  Be careful to use this as an excuse to sin...Jesus knows your heart and an insincere and dishonest "I didn't know" won't work for Him.  I believe children fall into this a certain extent.  Anyone who's been a momma for a while knows there is a point at which even a child knows and can no longer claim to be "blind."  

Anyway, my whole point in going off on this tangent is that I'm not sure how close Will is to this point and I am fearful of him, uh well, dying and being held accountable.  So all this...lack of control, uncertainty of Will's eternal security...all these thoughts clouded my mind and allowed fear to creep in and take over to the point where I felt almost paralyzed by it.  This type of fear, this paralyzing fear renders us completely ineffective to carry out the tasks God has set before us.  In my giving into fear for Will's salvation, I am useless in helping him toward it.  The Bible has given Gregg and I the command to bring Will and Micah up to know God's love, His commands, His know Him.  But me spending all my time worrying about it accomplishes absolutely nothing for Christ and His kingdom.  My worry takes the focus off of Him and His work.  Even Jesus points to the futility of worry of this kind when He said, "Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" (Matt 6:27)  In this same chapter of Matthew Jesus assures us He'll take care of us because of how much He loves us.  This doesn't ensure that we'll live through every plane ride, or car ride, or walk down the street, but it does say to us that He knows what He's doing.  He's got this and whatever happens it will be according to His will and we can trust that it will be what's best for us and more importantly His kingdom because He loves and cares for us.  

So my job is to be obedient to His command to bring my children up in a home that teaches of this love with parents that exemplify His character.  I can't do that gripped by fear so my prayer is for Him to take it away...completely. And while I admit I still let fear take over on bits of that plane ride (I'm sorry, turbulence will never be normal to me), there were multiple times I got the opportunity to talk with Will about the beauty of God's creation that we don't get to see every the sunrise above the clouds on a gloomy day.  It was breath-taking, so much so that even my five year old recognized God's glory in it.  He did that for us so we could in turn give Him the glory that only He deserves.  In the words of Micah Moo, "God made....da woyd." (That's "world," folks.)  Pretty awesome that God gives us these reminders about who He is.  I'm thankful for that today...and for living through the plane ride. :)

Just wanted to note that the idea of Age of Accountability is not something that's spelled out black and white in the Scriptures. There are differing views on this (I shared mine) and I encourage you to dig into the Word if it's something you're curious about.  It's important to point out though, that whichever side of this concept you fall on, it doesn't change the message of the gospel: that Christ died for our sins and we can have everlasting life with Him if we turn from our sin and recognize Him as the only way to salvation.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Super Heroes!

We had two super heroes move into our house today.  I feel so much safer with these two watch dogs under my roof!  

Truth is these capes have been a long time coming.  A friend made some capes for her kids a while back and when Will saw the pictures he freaked!  "I need one!"  He actually forgot about it for a long time then for some reason all of a sudden capes were all the rage again.  He didn't mention the super cool capes he had seen online, though...just started making a cape out of his blanket or jacket or anything else that remotely resembled one.  It was me who decided that I needed to make him one.  "Why not just buy him one?" you ask.  Psssh.  Why make things easy?

You may recall that I don't sew.  I've always wanted to...just never had the time or patience to learn.  Oh, and I didn't have the extra cash lying around to just go out and buy a machine.  Enter my mother-in-law.  It was either Gregg or I who mentioned to her in passing that I might want to learn at some point.  Well, this was apparently her cue.  Sewing...well, quilting really is something near and dear to her heart.  So long story short, within six months she had me set up with not only my own machine but also most of the tools I needed to begin my career as a seamstress.  (Totally not what I expected nor was this my ever my intent, but thanks, Rita!)

Of course that one small detail still remained unaddressed.  I didn't know the first thing about sewing...seriously...what's a bobbin?  She offered to give me a tutorial but we were in the middle of a move and it fell by the wayside.  Okay, this is only half true.  I wanted to actually learn a little about sewing before I sat down with her because I didn't want to look completely lost...or really completely stupid.  We're being honest here, right?  Kind of like giving yourself a mini-pedicure before going to the salon to get your full-blown, pamper yourself pedicure.  You don't want the lady giving you a foot massage and painting your toes to know how dry and neglected your feet really are...right? I'm not the only one, am I?

So I found this basic and pretty thorough tutorial guessed it...Pinterest!!!  It was supposed to be a four week tutorial but as soon as Will found out what I was doing the game changed a bit.  Now I don't know how well you know Will, but he can be pretty persistent.  I was constantly being asked when I'm going to learn to make his cape and it was always in this incredibly sweet and innocent sounding "what's so hard about it?" tone.  Okay, buddy...but only 'cuz I love ya!

So I sped up my lesson schedule and maybe even skipped a few (*cough*- half) of the lessons I thought might be irrelevant to my project.  And then to buy fabric.  Holy cow that's a whole different world!  I knew they had to be shiny because what self-respecting super hero has a felt cape, right?  No offense if you wear a felt cape...I'm sure you're totally legit.  Anyway, as I was shopping all these satiny materials were slipping out of my arms and I knew I was in waaaay over my head.  First sewing project AND satin.  Idiot.  But I'm stubborn, I mean, determined, so I pressed on.  And finally after a lot of hours of pressing and cutting (the material and my fingers...ouch!) and stitching (I can thread my own machine...yay!...and take it apart...long story) and well, (still being honest?) a few not so choice words (under my breath...I've got a couple of parrots in the house...super hero parrots, that is) the capes were born!!!

And they are a HUGE hit!  Well, not so much with Micah at first.  It took some coaxing to get him to put it on.  There was a lot of high pitched squealing and screeching (ugh, all too common lately), but I finally told him he could fly off the couch and that sold him.

And this is how we spent our night.  Super T-Bone (aka Will - he gave himself this name...what?) and The Incredible Crotch-Grabbing Nose Picker (aka Micah...scroll through the pics and you'll see what I'm talking about).  Jumping, oh sorry, flying off the couch over and over and over and overandoverandoverandover again.  This house hasn't been full of that many giggles in a long time, and giggles are pretty frequent around here.

So all this hard work was worth it.  Two crazy boys running around in capes is just reassurance to me that I'd do it all over again if they asked me...or maybe even it they don't.  So I'll sleep peacefully tonight knowing that in the other room there are two crime-fighting, bad-guy stopping, booger-flicking (sorry, I'll stop) supers ready to take on the world.  In the words of Will...I mean Super T-Bone, "Super heroes to the rescue!!!"

Monday, September 24, 2012

Memory Lane

Please tell me this isn't happening. How could this be happening?  He just turned two.  His independence just began to emerge.  He just learned how to walk...oh, wait.  That was like over a year ago.  How come I remember it like it was yesterday?  

But alas, it is happening.  After putting on more than one pair of 2T pants that barely skimmed the top of his shoes, I succumbed to the fact that it was time to pull out the 3T clothes for my littlest man.  Oh, Micah can this be?  Well, he is a hoss.  I'm always kind of puzzled at his well child check-ups when they tell me he's only in like the 75th percentile for weight...then why does my arm feel like it's on fire and about to fall off after holding him for 30 seconds?  Are you sure you're not looking at the four-year-old growth charts?  Okay, just checking....

So I expected a full morning of pulling totes out of storage (YAY!!!!), and sorting, and washing, and Micah unsorting.  What I didn't expect was the all-too-vivid stroll down Memory Lane that I got.  I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I'm not a super-sentimental person.  I don't save much from special events.  Sure there are a few things, like every card or letter Gregg's ever given me.  Go ahead...say it...."Awwwww!"  But I don't keep every single craft project the boys have ever done.  Will's baby book is half (maybe) done.  Micah's baby book?  MIA.  Wait...did I ever get one for him?  Oops.  Sorry, buddy!  And I definitely don't have any locks of hair from their first hair cuts.  Looks like I'll be out of luck if I ever need to clone them.  Too weird?  Sorry.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh, yes.  Memory Lane.  Strollin'.  I pulled out all these clothes that were attached to so many memories.  Some things I hadn't thought about in years.  When Will was wearing these clothes, we were just finding out about his developmental delays and flashbacks of his first evaluation came to my mind.  Kind of an emotional time...he was crying, ipso facto I was in front of perfect strangers.  Can I forget about this?  Please?  Going through these clothes made me grieve that "normal" life and "normal" child I had dreamed of and hoped for. 

And then I opened the second tote and there were some things in there that were apparently even too significant for my unsappy self to throw away.  Like baby shirts with the names of our alma maters reminding me that I was still in school when we had our first.  A plan that seemed to make perfect sense at the time, but...can I offer some advice here?  DON'T PLAN ON HAVING A KID IN PHARMACY SCHOOL!!!!  It's just not smart.  I can remember having our birth control lectures while I was pregnant and my professor saying, "Now you all know about birth control so there won't be any unplanned pregnancies next year, right?"  Although I wasn't the only one pregnant in my class, I felt like all eyes turned toward me.  I wanted to stand up and shout, "Hey! This was planned.  Maybe it's stupid, but it was planned!"  I decided to keep my mouth shut. :)

Oh, and how about this one?  I'm pretty sure I bought it before Micah was born.  I may have even bought it when I was pregnant before Micah...the time I miscarried.  That miscarriage put me on guard.  Helped me to put up a wall around my heart that I'm still working on tearing down.  It taught me never to buy for the new little one before they arrive, because you never know what's going to happen.  But eventually it did get worn and as you can see in the picture, it was well-loved.  Those spit up and blow-out stains prove it! 

Aren't those puppy dog eyes too much?
And then there was one of my maternity shirts that a friend gave me for Christmas when I was pregnant with Will.  Just a white t-shirt with the word "boy" in baby blue on the front.  When she gave me the shirt it made me laugh (and cry a little...stupid hormones) because we were in the midst of a bit of a sex mix-up.  One ultra-sound said for SURE boy...see the turtle?  The other?  99% positive it's a girl...there's the hamburger right there.  Don't worry, you "I don't have any kids yet"'ll know what I'm talking about when you have your 20 week ultrasound with your first.  When I pulled the shirt out this time it made me a little sad because it reminded me that I will never be pregnant again and will most likely never hold a baby of my own again.  With my RA and the drugs I'm taking, Gregg and I decided we won't be having any more kids...not bios anyway.  We're going to leave the option of adoption (nice ring, right?) open and pray that God gives us the wisdom to know if and when the time is right.

And then this one...

Sorry for the crooked pics.  My computer's freaking out on me and I don't have the time to figure out the problem.  Anyway, for those that don't want to strain their necks trying to read this it says, "Life is good when you've got an uncle like mine!"  This was one of Eric's first presents for Will.  He was crazy about that kid and it pains me that he won't get to do all the fun uncle stuff with Will and Micah as they grow up.  But this is only a fraction of the pain felt when I think that he won't get to do all the fun daddy stuff with Landon as he grows up. 

So many painful memories.  So many things I'd like to forget.  All these reminders that life happens and it almost never turns out how we thought it would.  But these clothes were attached to some pretty good memories, too.  

Like the wonderful team at Birth to Three that helped us learn more about Will and his delays and more importantly how we could start to work through them and possibly eventually overcome them.  It led to Will learning how to communicate with us and us being able to watch as he turned into a pretty cool, fun-loving kid. 

Like how much love we were shown from those around us as we started our family.  A lot of the clothes I pulled out today were hand-me-downs or gifts and I was humbled by how God has used our friends and families in our lives.  It also reminded me that those 2T clothes that I'm pulling out of Micah's closet should be given to a family that looks a lot like ours did five years ago.

Like how we have a bunch of great memories with Uncle Eric and pictures for the boys to remember him by.  And even though we may not ever be able to understand God's ways and why He took Eric when He did, we are confident and have seen evidence that Laura and Landon will be taken care of.  His plan is perfect even when we can't see it.

So many harsh memories and yet so many reminders that God is sufficient for us.  He alone is enough, despite all the crap (for lack of a better word) that seems to be going on around us.  This life will always be full of disappointments and heartaches, but He is with us through all of it.  He promises to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  That is, if you have put your trust Him.  If you have put your faith in Him.  If you have proclaimed Him as Lord of your life.  So have you?

Oh, yeah...I also found Micah's Halloween costume for this year.  Fitting because his M.O. lately has been walking around grabbing his - ahem - crotch and growling... "I a wion!!!"  Super cute!  Aside from the crotch-grabbing thing.  We'll work on that. 

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." 
 ~Matthew 11:28

Monday, September 10, 2012

The DIY Monster

DIY: the art of doing it yourself

I'm not an artsy, creative person.  Problem is I want to be.  My mom is long-standing cross-stitch extraordinaire and card maker.  My mother-in-law has crazy quilting skills.  I have friends that are stellar in the cake-making arena or those that can whip out a, well, picture-perfect scrapbook without even thinking about it.  Every once in a while I see something they've done and I think, "Hey...I can do that!"

And then I try.  And inevitably whatever it was I set out to do just doesn't turn out how it looked in my head.  And I crawl back into my not-so-crafty hole and I'm content for a while longer.  Until I found the catalyst.  This catalyst can in one instance turn me from the cool, calm, and collected "I don't care if I'm crafty or not" Dr. Bruce Banner into the ultra-aggressive, out of control "I can DIY this place to the ground" Incredible Hulk.  Now you may be asking yourself, "What's this catalyst you speak of?"  Oh, I'll tell you...

...Pinterest.  I first heard of this Pinterest about a year ago and after learning the premise I told myself, "Nope...not gonna do it."  I know myself too well and I knew that once I got started, it would be too hard to stop.  But I'm only human and I give in to peer pressure so easily (dang it!).  "It's awesome" they said.  "There are so many great ideas" they said.  Huh. Well, I caved and unfortunately they were right.

This whole new world of DIY was before me with the luring "You don't have to buy that. You can make it and it will be so much cheaper and you'll feel like you accomplished something and...."  HULK SMASH!!!  The DIY Monster was born.

Notice I don't say Queen.  Queen would imply I have some sort of rule over the DIY world.  No, this is more of an involuntary reaction to too much Pinterest.  I'm just browsing along, then all of a sudden I have to make a cape for my boys when I don't even know how to sew a hem, redecorate each and every one of my various living spaces, paint every piece of furniture in my house...or better yet make some furniture so I get exactly what I want.  Enter Gregg.

"You took shop class in high school, right? Why can't you make me an entertainment center that looks exactly like it does in my head?  What do you mean you need to research furniture making...the plans are right here on Joe Schmoe's blog?  What do you mean you need tools...we have a hacksaw, don't we?"  Slowly back away, Gregg...the green monster is about to make an appearance. 

But he's so sweet.  He appeases me and my want to be creative.  He has those encouraging phrases like, "Don't worry,'s not going to be perfect the first time you try it."  Oh, really?  (Here's where my stubbornness comes into the picture.)  Well, then...I'm just going to keep trying until it is perfect.  He sighs and goes right along with it...although he has mentioned the need for a Pinterest Intervention once or twice...

My latest project?  We need some end tables for the family room.  Our house has been monochromatic for so long that I thought something with a little color would be just what my home-decorating soul needed. So when I saw these bad boys at the local thrift store during Happy Hour (half off the entire store at Cornerstone Thrift Store every day from noon to one!), I thought, "Hey!  I can spiff these up with a fresh coat of paint and they'll be perfect!"

My thrift store gems
Gregg had a slightly different reaction when he saw 'em.  I don't remember the exact words, but it was somewhere along the lines of, "Hope you didn't pay too much for those ugly things."  Supportive, huh?  Can't a girl pick up some homely end tables for half price at the local thrift store without catching a bunch of flack for it?  Geesh!  Anyway, then I got this bright idea (from I don't know where) to do a stenciled design on them as well.  So I cut out some stencils on my Cricut and voila!

The original stencil job...actually a lot easier than I was picturing
Well, not quite "voila" yet...still quite a few steps to go from here.  Including a mishap.  Now one of the things that makes me a horrible DIYer is I'm impatient and sometimes lazy.  I like to cut corners even when I know the results can cost me more time (and sometimes money) in the end.  I learned the hard way that when you're painting some sort of design over another previously painted surface, it's best to lay your tape/stencil/whatever then paint a light coat of the base coat over it....kind of seals the deal sort of thing.  I painted some super cool stripes around the perimeter of Will's old bedroom and it ended up taking me two tries over three plus weeks because of this little omitted step.  But again...lazy.  I thought, "It'll be okay."  Was it?  Well...

And I botched it!
Now don't go thinking this blog is going to turn into one of those DIY tutorial blogs that are so popular these days (and frankly that I'm thankful for and my husband loathes).  No you won't find that here...far be it from me to steer fellow DIY monsters down the wrong path.  For all of you who thought I might be offering some advice, here's some: don't take any DIY advice I might think I have to offer.  It'll only cost you time and money and create frustration. 

Anyway, attempt #1 obviously didn't turn out as it should've.  Almost every individual design would've needed some touch up that I wasn't willing to execute.  But this does bring me to another Pinterest point...maybe I do have some advice to offer.  So you see the close up of the botched stencil job?  Here's a more bird's eye view.

Doesn't look so bad, does it?  It's a little harder to see all those imperfections from up here.  So here's that bit of advice for all of you that have been lured into a Pinterest project only to be disappointed in your sub-par performance: pictures can be deceiving.  That out-of focus, from far off documentation of their perfect project may not be so perfect.  That finish might not be as smooth, hem not as straight, upholstery not as tight as it appears to be...and then again it might be.

Anyway, my stubborn self and inability to wrangle the Hulk in me didn't let this be the end of way.  So I re-sanded, re-primed, re-based-coated, re-stenciled, seal coated (no "re" here since I skipped this step the first time around), and re-painted.  I liked the original stencil pattern better, but I had to get a little creative here since I didn't want to use anymore of my vinyl up on this project...that stuff's expensive!

Attempt #2

The previously omitted step

And surprisingly they didn't turn out half bad.  Not what I originally pictured, but then again it never is. Oh, well.  At this point I have too much time invested to throw 'em out now.  So they're going to stay, and they're going to matter how ugly Gregg might think they are...he hasn't seen the finished product yet...ha!  You can't see the rest of the family's not done yet.  Give me a few more project days, then we'll talk!

The final product
Still needs more color...I can feel another project coming on!

  Hulk smash!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hard Transitions

You may be wondering how Will's first day at school went...and you may not be, but I'm going to tell you anyway!  It went great!  Well, for the most part it went great, aside from him thinking the day was just too darn long and a bus/grandma pick-up mix up on the second day (sorry, mom!)...but nonetheless we all survived and he's actually still excited about going - yay!  But I can also tell there are going to be some tough transitions and routines that will need to be established to really get this school year off to a good homework.

Will had his first homework assignment tonight and it really wasn't a tough one.  Good thing because we promised him we could go fishing after dinner (mistake number one...ha!...rookie parents).  An easy assignment is just what we needed tonight so we could finish up before eating and not interfere with our after dinner plans.  He had to come up with some items for a "Me Bag."  Just some things he enjoys that he could share with his teacher and friends to help them learn a little more about him.  Easy, right?

Geesh, I should know by now that when I have everything planned out perfectly and to the minute for me and my five-year-old (and don't forget to throw in the Crazy Micah-Man) things absolutely won't go according to that all.  As soon as we got in the door it was, "Mom, can I watch TV?"  Me, without thinking, "Sure."  Five minutes later realizing what I'd done, "Uh, no, buddy...we have homework."

Now every time...every single time I've said this to him in the past the response has been an over enthusiastic, "Okay, mom!  What do we have to do?"  I didn't quite get that reaction this time.  Maybe it was the fact that he'd been at school all day and was in brain-overload or maybe that he had just turned on The Incredibles (an all-out fave in the Schmidt house) or maybe the stars were aligned just right to cause a meltdown.  I don't know, but the reaction I got was, "Nooooooooo!!!!!!" accompanied by hysteric crying.

Now I don't know if you're a planner, but I'm a planner, and as we've already discussed our tight schedule for the evening, you know this wasn't part of the plan.  Not in the slightest.  First reaction?  Get up here and do your homework!!!!!!  The right reaction?  Don't think so.  It just led to more hysterics and crying which usually pushes me closer to the edge.  Usually, but for some reason I actually stopped to think about this whole scenario that was playing out here (and again that which was totally not in accordance to the plan).  He's five.  He's never really had to do homework in his life.  Not on a regular basis and certainly not homework that there were consequences if he didn't do it.  He's never had to go somewhere where he's required to have an actively engaged brain for almost seven hours straight. He's probably tired.

Something in me decided to empathize with him, but then level with him.  "Buddy, we've got to do this homework.  If we want to do the things we planned to do, we have to do this first."  Did he sit down right away and do it?  Unfortunately no. But he did sit down and he did do it, but with quite a bit of coaxing and trying to get him actively engaged on my part.  I think I got my first little glimpse into what homeschooling him might be like, and honestly I'm still quite unsure I'm equipped to do that.  It took every bit of effort I had to try and keep him interested and (quite ridiculously) to try and keep myself from doing it for him.

Ugh, sometimes I'm such a perfectionist that it makes me sick...only when it comes to some things,  mind you.  Dusting my house? Well, that falls on the Stuff I Could Care Less About list...unless someone's coming over.  Know what I'm talkin' about?  But I digress....  Case in point:  Will wants to put something about bike riding in his bag because in the past few months since we've been at this house he's become somewhat of biking extraordinaire.  So I think, 'Hmmm...we don't have a little toy bike to put in there.  Why don't I make him a super-cute, super-perfect little bicycle with my handy-dandy Cricut and all the other kids at Kindergarten will be in awe of our homework completing skills.'  Or will they?  Okay, I didn't think this exactly, but I was going to do the Cricut thing.

Again for some odd reason, I stepped outside of myself and thought, 'Seriously, Martha. How does that help Will?'  Well, I could get everything set up and he could push the "cut" button.  Really, Martha?  Really?  This isn't about you.

"Hey Will, how 'bout we look through all our Hi Five mags to find a picture of a bicycle that you can cut out and put in your bag?"  He had so much fun searching the pages of those magazines to find the perfect picture to add to his bag and was then so excited to have the task of cutting the picture out.  He was concentrating so hard to cut ever-so-carefully to stay on that thin white line.  Result: super-captivated kindergartner and super-humbled momma who got a small break from narcissism and realized how cool it is to be an active part of my boy's learning experience.

I tried to get him to smile to tell everyone, "Hey, we're having fun here!"  Ha! His response?  "Mom, leave me alone." O-kaaay!
So we're all learning here.  Learning that it's best to get our homework out of the way first so we can go fishing.  Learning it's best not to do stuff like fishing on a school night when bedtime is still 8 o'clock.  Learning it's best to step aside and assist your child rahter than trying to be perfect for them (or through them) and have them miss out on a learning adventure.  (Still) learning that things almost never go exactly as planned...especially not with kids in the picture. Learning that if you keep writing insanely long posts on homework you'll lose half your readers (sorry, guys).  On that note...I'm out!  Catch you on the flip-side!