It’s the little moments

So far, we have had a surprisingly low-key week.  After our weekend with 8 boys in our house, we have all been trying to catch up on our rest.  There have been a few fun moments that I have been able to take note of, and sometimes I can catch a picture.

As a mom, there are things that I just don’t ever imagining myself saying.

“Let’s go pay your traffic ticket(s),  and then buy strings for your ukulele.”

“Put your sword away – you CANNOT swing that at your brother.”

(*Note, this un-sharpened sword was a gift at his right of passage.  It’s heavy and pointy, but won’t cut any appendages off.  I chose to hang it on his wall as a decoration.  That may not have been the best choice)

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Sometimes, the things they say…

“If you’re going to make fun of me, or something, just do it and then leave…”

He was right.  I was going to make fun of him… His statement made me laugh, so I forgot what I was going to say. He ruined all my fun.

They are all about their hair…

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“Why are you wearing my headband?”

“…because I found it.”

“Take if off before you break it…”

A few minutes later… “Look mom, my dream hair!”

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This is one of the only times that he is vulnerable enough that I can do this.  He doesn’t want to upset his grandpa or mess up his haircut.  He can only give me mean looks. So, I take full advantage of that.

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Then sometimes, they are clever…

While Derek was on the phone with the NTTA updating our license plates for our toll tags, they had great ideas about phone communication…

Derek, who rattles off and records numbers and letters over the phone all day, is really good to be clear when communicating.  He makes the letters clear by giving examples such a  “K as in Kieth, F as in Frank…” Then, “G… as in…”

“Gnome, ‘G’ as in gnome, dad!” – They also think that “P, as in Pterodactyl'” and “K, as in know” would be great examples as well.  If anyone reading this ever has to be on the customer service end of a phone call with my children – I apologize in advance…

Sometimes they’re “punny”

With 3 frozen, personal size pizzas on a cookie sheet ready to bake, I observed, “Wow, you are eating a lot of pizzas”.  “Mom, if you’re going to feed me mini pizzas, I’m going to eat many pizzas,” he said… ba-dum Tshh (roll my eyes)

Sometimes, they’re just unaware…

Jono came home from school, and asked if I had washed his P.E. shirt, because it was fitting tighter than before.  He pulled that shirt out of his bag.

First of all, if I had washed it, I did a really bad job, because it smelled to high heaven.

Secondly, that medium is either a child size medium, or my dryer went into overdrive.

This was the smallest shirt I had seen in a very long time.IMG_3075

Just for fun, Jono said, “Let me show you!”

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The poor kid had actually worn that in P.E. the day before.

We’ve concluded, obviously, that he picked up someone else’s gym clothes on accident.

We’re ordering a new gym shirt…

Those weeks, when there is nothing spectacular to talk about, I enjoy remembering those little moments and taking note of them.  I know, in the busyness of this life. Those are the moments we will forget first.

The Adventures of a One-thumbed Hairstylist

Seven years ago today, I had surgery to remove a pin from my thumb. That pin had been placed there a little over 5 months earlier. I know most of you know the story, but I’m not sure I’ve ever really written down what led up to that injury and the time that followed. It’s a strange story, but a fun one to tell.

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We began a landscaping project in July that year. We were replacing an ugly, bulging, wooden retaining wall near our front yard. Derek and I always enjoyed doing yard work together and we were excited to begin this one. He took a week off of work, thinking we would have the project finished when he returned to work.

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It was probably the hottest week of the year that week. The heat index was 110 degrees, and extremely humid. We began by knocking down the fence on the upper level, and trying to take down the wooden slats along the front and side. Apparently, whoever built that sucker 40 years earlier, was anticipating earthquakes or mudslides in Central Illinois.

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When we finished that part, we began to dig, and dig, and dig… That was, by far, some of the most difficult work I have ever done. We had to dig out the dirt that would be going away, and we had to dig deeper into the ground to set the foundation for the stone we were going to lay. We started realizing what a big task this was really going to be. My dad had been helping us where he could, and a good friend of ours came over and helped us dig for a while. When our friend left one day, he said, “Good luck. I don’t think you will get this finished this week, though!” He was right.

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Over the next few weeks, we would dig, set foundations, reset foundations, backfill with rock, and move to the second layer. We would have to get a stump grinder to get through enormous tree roots. We dug out the path for a stairway. We framed the stairs and filled them with concrete. When we finally laid the foundation for the second level of blocks, we felt like we were getting close to finishing our project.

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I’ll never forget that evening. School had started by that time. I had gotten home from work, and the boys from school. We decided that we needed to order some pizza for all of our hard work that evening. I sat on a stair with the phone book in my lap looking for the number. As I did that, I supported myself with my other hand as I leaned on the landscaping block next to me. Derek was busily working, building the wall on the second level. He walked around me while coming up the steps. He had on leather gloves, which allowed a block to slip out of his hand. The sharp edge of that block landed on my right thumb between the two lower knuckles, as the landscaping block that I was leaning on, kept my thumb from moving underneath.

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I immediately knew that it was bad. We laugh now, because after he picked up the block, I told Derek that it was not good. He said, “Take off your glove, it may not be that bad.”

As soon as I took of my glove, and we looked at it, he said, “Yeah, we need to go to the hospital.”

We went to the hospital that evening.

You know, our trips to the emergency room are always interesting. I almost dread having to tell them how our injuries happen, because it is usually a strange scenario, like a Nerf sword fight or something. This time, I kept saying, “WE dropped a concrete block on my thumb.” I couldn’t tell them Derek did it, because he already felt so bad. So, I tried to make it look like a joint effort.

They x-rayed my hand, placed my hand in a splint, medicated me, and rehydrated me. They sent me home and told me to call the hand surgeon the next morning.

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They next morning, we dropped the boys off at school, and I called the doctor’s office. I remember the nurse telling me that she needed to check and see if they had received my pictures yet. Then, after she had obviously looked at the awful picture, she said, “Oh, yeah, you just need to come on in!”

We made our way to the office. We met with the doctor first, and he explained the extent of my injury. He started off by saying, “I hope you don’t play the piano”, (as if that would have been funny if I did). “I don’t, but I do cut hair”, I said. He raised his eyebrows, looked away, and said, “We will see…”

My thumb was crushed – shattered. We found out later that my tendon had been severed, as well. A couple of months later the doctor told me, that if I had not been wearing a glove, that block probably would have cut my thumb off!

That morning was such a miserable morning. I had never had surgery or anesthetic before, but I was very anxious to be put to sleep, just to escape the pain.

The surgery was an hour and a half long. The doctor said it was like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. He inserted a pin, and literally tied it all up, because there was not enough solid bone to attach screws or hardware to.

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I wore a cast for five weeks, and then I wore a splint. I returned every two weeks for x-rays, hoping that would be the week my pin would be removed.

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It was a long recovery. It took almost 5 months. My thumb finally healed enough to take that pin out. He left the material that bound up my bone, and it is still there today.

Oddly enough, I am grateful for the experience. It was painful, it was difficult, it was frustrating. God seemed to keep telling me, though, that it could have been worse. Of course it could have been worse, and I’m so thankful that it wasn’t. I did learn a lot about myself through the process. I learned that we are all way more capable than we think we are.

I kept going to work after surgery. My mom and others were filling in for me, so, I would go and help out with instructions, and such. Then, eventually, I would figure out how to accomplish these tasks while wearing a cast or splint.

I started with color little by little. My mom would want me to show her a technique or help her out, and then she would say, “I think you can do it, if I help you.”

So, eventually, I started doing my own color, but I had others cut hair for me. Then, one brave client said, “I think you can cut my hair. Try it. I trust you”. That was one of the longest haircuts in the history of the world, but I did it. From that day on, I did all of my own work, except for rolling hair on rollers or perm rods.

I learned that we are all more resilient than we think we are. The first day after surgery, I called my clients, telling them that I would be back in 6 to 8 weeks. By the end of those 8 weeks, I was working on my own. There is no way I thought that I could do that.

Besides my work as a stylist, I had lots of other things that needed to be done, but seemed unlikely with my injury. With a busy family and a business to run, I usually found a way to accomplish my goals.

I think about that often and remind myself  that I am capable, when I think I am not. This last year, we had to sell our house, my parent’s house, and a business. We had to get both houses packed up and moved. My husband lived 750 miles away, and my parent’s capabilities were limited.

There were days that I didn’t think that I could do it, but I would remind myself to just try it. I would start small and work on 1 thing at a time until I finished that particular task. I would pray…

Looking back, I wonder what would have happened if I had not tried?  What if my co-workers had not helped me, and then encouraged me to try?  What if my clients had not trusted me and allowed me to work on their hair, while obviously in a compromised state?  ** Sidenote: they should have been scared of a one-thumbed hairstylist!!  I’m just sayin’!

Would I have kept working?  Would I have learned my capabilities? I just wonder how things would be different.  I know that had the accident not happened, I would not have met God in that place for those months.

My last visit to the hand surgeon, I stood up to leave, and as I did, I picked up my big heavy purse with my hand, and flung it over my shoulder. As I placed it on my shoulder, my purse rested in the curve of my thumb alone, and no other part of my hand.   That 15 pound purse was supported by just that broken, shattered thumb that was now repaired, healed and whole. The doctor looked at me and said, “I didn’t think you would ever be able to do that”…

I don’t tell this story to boast about what I did, but what God did for me.  In any area of our life that is broken and shattered, God is that mighty healer who will repair, heal, and restore.  Usually, through that process, He teaches us more about ourselves, but most importantly more about HIM!

My thumb still hurts on rainy days like today.  There is a scar, and it just doesn’t look the same as my other thumb. Actually, it looks a little strange. My once broken thumb, though, feels more solid and stronger than my thumb that has never been broken…

Can we say the same for ourselves after being broken?

I have to admit, the story is fun to tell.  It’s sort of legendary.  I found out recently that my surgeon still tells that story in his office to other patients.  He has changed the story a little, telling that the wife dropped a block on her husband’s hand.  HIPPA, I suppose.

I saw him in the grocery store before we moved from IL.  I greeted him and said, “I’m not sure if you remember me?”  “CINDER BLOCK!”, he said!

It’s always nice to be remembered…

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Ready for the weekend?

So, I’m sitting in the lobby at Md Anderson Cancer Hospital in Houston, Texas!

Side note: this place is just amazing. Words cannot describe the doctors, the nurses, the care, and the facility. Unbelievable!

Anyway, I tried to donate blood or platelets or something, but I’m too anemic. Oddly enough, my dad (the cancer patient) and I had the same hemoglobin count. For him, that’s exciting, and nearly a miracle. For me, it’s disappointing and means I need to eat well, like a normal human being.

So, as soon as my parents return from the last appointment for the day, we will load up and head back to Dallas, and I believe, a house full of boys!

I have stocked up my freezer and fixed a few of our favorite treats in hopes of convincing these young men that I am cool. At the very least, I’m just trying to prevent them from making fun of me when they leave…

This is our first youth church retreat in our new church. I’m looking forward to getting to know some new people and take in all the chaos!

A Few Words About My Hubby…

Since we celebrated my husband and son’s birthdays this week, it made me think about the kind of father my husband is. I would love to give this glimpse into our family. So, I’m going to share part of my Facebook post from last spring when we were celebrating Russ’s 14th Birthday.

“Derek is such a unique and thoughtful dad. For years, he has been trying to prepare these boys to be the men God intends for them to be. As they turn 14, each boy is initiated into manhood with a right of passage ceremony. Derek invites men who have had an influence in his life, our son’s life, or the life of our family. He invites them to attend, to write a letter, or in some other symbolic way – encourage our sons as they enter this stage of life. Obviously, we are not telling our sons that they are now “MEN”. They are learning that manhood begins now. They are learning that the decisions they make will be a foundation for the men, husbands, and fathers they will be down the road. They realize that their decisions are their responsibility. We are here to pray, guide, and counsel, but the decisions – the ones that only they can make, that are made when no one is looking, that are made when everyone is looking, that are made between God and themselves, are ultimately theirs! Honestly, I always feel a little awkward when this process begins and we start inviting and asking. Sometimes, I think people will think we are strange. That our son will think it’s strange and feel uncomfortable. Both times, though. I am so excited when the day arrives. I see men so willing to share their heart with my son. To be vulnerable enough to give advice or share their own story, to be real and to be honest, to simply go out of their way to be a part of this day for our son.”

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Those days have been such special times in the life of our boys. It is something they talk about frequently and will remember forever.  They had many special symbolic gifts, and even more letters that encouraged him and gave him some advice for the future.

I’m so thankful that Derek has a heart for these boys and actively attempts to shape them in to good men.

In this house, we give Derek a really hard time.  Let me assure you, though, he GIVES. IT. RIGHT. BACK.  So, this is my disclaimer in future blogs.  No matter what my stories may sound like, Derek can hold his own, and we all love him to the moon and back.

My timehop laugh for the day…

So this showed up on Timehop today. I love that app, because it always reminds me of some of my favorite memories.

Here you see, “Jonster the Monster”

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The caption on this picture was:

“So, Jono wanted Isaac’s attention. To distract him, Isaac told him to try to lick his elbow, and when he could, he would talk to him! We found a new talent…”

It took a little bit of time, and stretching, I guess, but obviously, he accomplished his goal.

What Isaac didn’t take into consideration…

  • Jono really wanted to talk to him
  • Jono is very determined
  • Jono is double jointed

 

**I wonder how many people tried to lick their elbow after they saw this post…

The Grocery Store – the best of times, the worst of times…

When my boys were much younger (and smaller), taking them shopping with me was kind of like playing the lottery.  It could be a wonderful, beautiful time with my little guys, or it could be a nightmare!

Here’s how my nightmare trips usually went. When they were really little, like infants, the shopping trip would start out good, and then they would wake up! They cried, and then continued to cry, until I was walking to the check out lane and we were both crying.

Then they got a little bigger, and sitting in the shopping cart worked for about 5 minutes, then they figured out how to get out of that useless safety belt. So by the end of the trip, I ended up doing all the things that the shopping cart warnings told us not to do!
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Someone probably cried.

I clearly remember those days.  I remember looking at moms with “big” kids.  Their kids were independent. There were no diaper bags or strollers. Their kids were walking, not riding. I thought about how much easier it would be when my kids got to that age.

When I hear babies crying in the store, my mind goes right back to those days. My heart truly goes out to those moms.

As I stand in the store, sympathizing with those moms, I suddenly come out of that daydream – startled –  because I have accidentally been shoved by one of my boys.

My “big kids”, you know, the ones that I thought would be so easy to take to the store, are shoving, pushing and fighting with each other right in the middle of Target.  While two of them are fighting, the other one has hijacked the cart and he is running around filling it up with the junk food that he knows I will object to.

Then, I pull out my mom voice, my mom look, and whatever believable threats I have. Sooner or later, we pull ourselves together and act like normal human beings for a few minutes.

Then we make our way through the home organization department, and my 6 foot 3 inch, 18-year-old son, begins pulling out the very top drawers of all the plastic shelving units. The ones on the top shelf. You know, about 9 feet in the air, where normal-sized people have to get a ladder out to put them back.
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Then, they all find random merchandise that they can put on their heads, make inappropriate jokes about, or take a selfie with.
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After I have stopped them from causing more trouble for the Target employees, I focus on making sure everything is put back in its place. I turn around, and now, I have lost my children.  They’re gone… Isaac is pushing the cart, with Russ standing on the front of it. Russ is pretending to be Siri narrating the navigation route.  I can hear him saying “Recalculating, recalculating…”.

Jonothan is walking by my side with his arm around me, trying to calm the anxiety he sees in my eyes.

We catch up to the bigger boys and try to rein them in once again.  I cannot think clearly any longer.  So, we head to the check out line!

So, after negotiations at the check out lane are finished and we have agreed upon what we are actually buying and what we are putting back, we head the parking lot. Russ “drives” the cart to the parking lot. Usually, he is perched upon the cart with one leg on the metal bar and one leg pointed in the air behind him. Honestly, it would be impressive and somewhat beautiful, if I were not worried about a collision with a car, or the cart flipping over on top of him.

Anyway , when we finally get to the car, my sweet boys open my trunk and fill it with the groceries from the cart. They tell me to get in the driver’s seat, they will take care of it all.   They do!

After they close the trunk, Russ runs the cart to the farthest cart return in the parking lot, and then gets back in the car, ready to go!
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I ask them, “Remind me. Why is it, that I bring you all with me?” They show me their puppy dog eyes, and answer in a sweet voice, “Because you love us”.  I usually roll my eyes and respond with a long, drawn out, “UUUUUUUUUUUUGH”!

Right before they sync their phones to my car, and take over my car stereo system with their Spotify, they say, “Mom, you know you had fun”.

Don’t tell them, but they’re right…

***The names in this story have not been changed. The events in this story, though, may not have happened exactly as portrayed. This is a compilation of many different trips to many different venues.  Theses trips include but are not limited to Target, Kroger, Wal-Mart, The Dallas Zoo, The Cowboy’s stadium, The Grassy Knoll, Walnut Ridge Baptist Church, or simply walking down the street…

Straight from the 18 year old’s mouth

My oldest son, Isaac, came home from work yesterday at about 7:30am. He walked in, and loudly said hello to Derek, Jono and I, called us a few mean names (it’s his sign of affection for us), and then he burped really loud. (It’s a blog about boys, you have to expect these stories). After that, he asked us to rate the bodily function that I just spoke of. So, someone rated it, I’m sure (I don’t remember the score – usually it’s a 7). As he hung his work jacket on the banister and sat on the bottom step to take off his boots, he made this profound statement, “You know, that’s all I really need in life – someone to rate my burps!”. Then he said, “Hey, you can quote me in your blog!”

Then he came home from work this morning, and he asked me why I had not quoted him. I realized he was really serious. I told him that it was gross, and I didn’t want to write about that on my blog. How could I possibly expound on that quote? Then he explained to me, “Well, it’s true. Think about it. I would have to be pretty comfortable to burp in front of that person. Also, they would have to know me well enough, and have been around me often enough to decide if it was good compared to all of my other burps”. He implied that he really just needs someone who loves him for who he is, no matter what!

He’s right, though! That’s something I have learned through this move to Texas. We moved here knowing 2 people. Derek and I, the boys, and my parents have really had to learn to lean on each other. It has brought us much closer as a family. We can have all the stuff, but it can’t compare to the feeling of coming home to people who know us, love us, and accept us for who we are. If we don’t have someone to rate our burps, then what do we have?