An open letter to MY kids about summer

Several of my Facebook friends shared this post last week. The latest Mommy gripe to go viral. When I first started to read it I was totally on board, until the middle of paragraph two, when I realized she was being sarcastic.

I get that it’s humor. My kids do annoying things too. But I’m kind of sick of hearing moms complain about their kids instead of enjoying them, warts and all. My letter reads a bit differently.

Hey Kids,

Feel free to leave your stuff wherever you want this summer. Half-finished smoothies in the family room? No problem. I got it. Socks in the hall. I’m on it. Dishes in the sink? Keep ’em coming. Legos? Everywhere? Love it. Oh, and feel free to drag your blankets all over the house and abandon them the moment you no longer want them. I’ll fold them lovingly for you and return them to your rooms.

If you leave wet towels in the kitchen and bathing suits on the bathroom floor, I can handle that.

The cereal bowls left on the island with a half inch of milk in the bottom and hardened bits stuck to the sides? That’s nothing a hot water soak can’t fix.

So far we’ve had a steady stream of friends over to swim, which means a steady demand for snacks, an ongoing need to mop up the wet floors, and never ending loads of laundry. But don’t worry kids – seriously. I’m on it.

And let me know when you are hungry. Don’t be encumbered by normal meal times. And please don’t coordinate with each other. The kitchen is open 24/7, and I’m happy to whip up anything you need, whenever you need it.

And if something comes up with your friends? I’m in. I’ll drive you there or back — or, [heck], both. I mean, I have a car and a license. I should put it to good use. And please, no need to give me any advance notice. I can easily stop whatever I’m doing, even work, to take you. I know how valuable your time is. Need some money for the movies? You got it, kiddo.

Just a few last-minute housekeeping items: Showering? Optional. You know what’s best. I defer to you. Wearing a hat? No way. The more sun the better. Chores? Just tell me when it’s a good time for you. The weeds and messes aren’t going anywhere.

You see, I know what IS going somewhere, and that’s you. In a few short years, all of you will have flown this nest, and there will be no more messes. No crew to cook for, no kids to clean up after, no noise, no chaos. And when that day comes, I know as surely as I breathe, my heart will break. I will be lost without you.

When your dad and I started this kid journey 13.5 years ago, we had decisions to make. One of the biggest – Would I keep working? No. Not in the way most people view it, at least. My job is here, with you. This house, this family. You are what I do and I try to do it well, which in my book means more than just preparing you for adulthood, but also giving you a childhood. A few short years to be mostly carefree and responsibility-free (which is NOT the same as irresponsible).

I think it is working. Just today I was complimented on your good manners, which was so nice to hear. I’m glad you are making good choices, I appreciate that you help out around the house, I am thankful that you {mostly} do what is asked of you without complaint. And when you do complain, I remind myself what it was like to be a kid. When you leave the door open, I close it and watch you run down the sidewalk, through the yard, into the woods…I watch you and remember how great it feels to be 10. To not have to worry about bugs and electric bills. And I thank God for you.

The messy parts of summer are my favorite, truth be told. Sticky sidewalks from popsicles, smeared chalk drawings, grass stuck to the bottoms of wet feet. Those are signs of a childhood well lived.

Don’t take a single day for granted, kids. We’ve only got 18 summers together and I intend to make the most of them. The messes and the marshmallows and the memories – every. single. day. You work hard all year. You do your schoolwork, you do your chores, you practice violin, you go to your lessons and classes and camps. You are good kids. So take a break, please. Live it up. Real life will hit you soon enough, no need to rush it.

Well, call me crazy, but if you guys follow all of these guidelines, I think this summer is going to be a win for all of us.

Love you guys.

 

*Words in italics are taken directly from the author’s original piece, though intended with an entirely different tone.

The house that built me

It’s not much to look at – especially since the new owners RUINED IT – but this is the house that built me.

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mmkay, so actually it is a {dark} picture of a painting my sister did of the house. Trust me, it’s better than the current reality.

My parents purchased this house a few years before I was born, and did extensive renovations on it throughout my childhood. When you buy a massive, 100 year old home full of snakes, some tweaks are required.

I lived in this same house, in our small town of ~200 residents, until I was 16 years old. I’ve moved many, many times since then, and lived in many different towns and states. I’ve lived more years away from that house than I ever lived in it, and yet that is always where I think of when someone asks me where I’m from. The house that built me.

I love this song so much. It conjures up everything I love about my childhood and wraps around me like a warm hug.

Since we’ve been married, my husband and I have shared one apartment and owned four different houses. Good properties, all. But one year ago today we purchased The One. Our Forever Home that we have wanted to find for years.

A beautiful mid century home in immaculate condition, obviously beloved by the previous owners. The only owners, in fact – they literally did build this house. Coincidentally, they did so the year that I was born, thousands of miles away.

The pictures we saw online were lacking. Since it’s only a mile from our last house, we decided to drive by, and immediately fell in love with the neighborhood. A quiet street lined with huge trees, no two houses alike. Wide spacing so you have plenty of privacy. Even more delighted were we to find that this house was at the end of the street in the cul-de-sac, unlike our previous place at the front of the neighborhood. But my dear husband, not exactly the visionary, was immediately turned off by the outside appearance. ‘It’s dated,’ he said. ‘I wouldn’t buy that for $xxx,xxx.’ (I know housing prices vary, so just imagine an amount that would barely cover a starter home.) But houses for a family of 7 are hard to come by, and the house we thought we wanted had just sold to someone else, so I told him I was going to look anyway. I made the appointment during the day, since he had zero interest in joining me, and was excited and anxious to meet our realtor there the next day. I had a great feeling about this place. So great, in fact, that Chris decided that very morning to drive home (~45 minutes) to meet me there at lunch, so he could nip this thing in the bud right away.

He wasn’t there yet when I first went in. I’m glad for that. I walked in and took a very quick look around so I could have it all scoped out before he got there. I knew this was our place. When he arrived, his eyes first saw the back of the stone fireplace in the foyer, then drifted upward to the 11 foot ceilings. When he looked down at me, I saw the sparkle in his eyes and I knew he was with me. ‘Wow. This is really nice,’ he said, not even attempting to hide his surprise. My parents had come with me to help watch the babies while we looked, and mom got a real kick out of that.

We made an offer immediately.

While we waited to close, I learned that the couple who had built the house had died, and their four adult children were selling the property. We have mutual friends, in fact, who told me that they were a lovely family, and I believe it. I know this sounds strange, but I swear I can feel that here. It feels like love and childhood and family and memories, all wrapped up in a bundle of happiness. All The Good Feels.

We have made some changes to this home, and we have more planned, but really, they’re superficial. This is a great home, and we want to keep it that way. It’s a house with heart. I am so very thankful every time I drive down our gorgeous, tree lined street. Every time my children go out to play in the woods, or sled down the hills, or scout the perfect spot for the treehouse they’ve got planned. We have two and a half acres of pure, unadulterated vintage childhood right here, my friends. It’s everything I remember it to be from my own childhood (sans the 70’s polyester leisure suits), and I’m stupid grateful that we can give that to our own children. May they one day look back at this as the house that built them.

Do you have a house that built you? What makes a house a home for you? Don’t tell me the people you share it with – that’s cheating.

Is this thing on?

I am a terrible blogger. I tell you this not by way of confession, because of course this is obvious to you. I just want you to know that I know it too. Self awareness is a good thing.

I’m torn, always, between a desire to write and share, and a desire to write and hold close. Between being genuinely interested in the lives of bloggers I read, and thinking some of them are insanely self involved. I don’t want to become that narcissist, or even worse, become her and not even know it. So for those reasons, I vanish sometimes.

And also OhMyGosh the busy. These kids keep me hopping! Particularly the youngest two, who are coming along quite nicely.

Jackson and Cooper newborn

Twins

twins Christmas 2014

Much has changed for the Flawed Family. Not only have we added two bundles of joy (who have quickly grown into two bundles of energy), but we also sold our house, bought a forever home, and have been busily working on renovations for the past year.

Because I adore everything home renovation, decoration, and DIY pretty much anything, I plan to share A LOT about that process.

If you do not share that interest, I extend my apologies and another look at my beautiful kids.

christmas 2014

So if anyone is still out there with me, thanks. I love you for it.

On Miley

First let me say that I do not now, nor have I ever been a watcher of the VMAs. But anyone with eyes or ears or Facebook has surely heard the shock and outrage over Miley Cyrus’s recent performance, so like a few million other people I watched it on YouTube.

It’s bizarre on many levels. I mean, what’s with the Chuck E. Cheese teddy and the weird haircut and the creepy dancing bears and the tongue dangling from her seemingly broken jaw, right? And then it gets worse, and I’m sure you’ve all seen it so no need to beat a dead horse there. But a few things stick out to me, which don’t seem to be topping anyone else’s minds judging by all the Dear Miley letters and weepy blog posts circulating.

This is [sadly] only news because she is Miley Cyrus, former Disney star. I mean, have you seen anything that Lady Gaga has ever done? Ever? Or Katy Perry, or Britney, or Madonna…This is not really new and not particularly shocking in other contexts. I don’t understand why no one else sees this. I know lots of Gaga fans who were shocked and appalled at Miley’s performance and that is a huge load of crap if you ask me. Hypocrites.

Also it’s not really fair to her. I know its not popular to defend her right now, and I am not a fan of her, um, work? or whatever that was, but cut the girl a little slack. For starters, teeny bopper stars don’t have a great track record so what the heck were you expecting? [See also: Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes, Britney Spears, Tara Reid, Vanessa Hudgens, et al ad nauseum] Miley grew up, and sometimes people grow up to be idiots. They do stupid things, exhibit poor taste, and disappoint. That’s just life – people are messy. She’s not a permanent tween, no matter how small or adorable she was when you first saw her. It’s not great, but she’s not a full-on trainwreck just yet so let’s stop scorning and start praying, huh?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone it. I’m not a fan. But neither do I think she should be held to a standard different than that which we apply to other performers. Where’s the outrage over Robin Thicke’s hideous skin tight suit? Or the fact that he – a supposedly happily married man – was doing a lewd dance with a young not-his-wife girl? Why is no one questioning him as a role model for his young son? At least she’s single! At least she can blame being 20 and stupid for her bad decisions. He is nearly twice her age and -again- married. He should know better. And he should be held to a higher standard because of it.

And women, we are responsible for this. Call it slut shaming, call it jealousy, call it plain old cattiness, I don’t care. It all boils down to the same thing, which is casting scorn all over the female and expecting nothing different of the male. Shame on all of us for creating and perpetuating that culture, because it’s not the men doing it.

{Also, and far less to the point, the media has made much mention of the old folks among us Googling twerking after this performance, which I would like to offer as proof that I am still young. I didn’t have to Google that. I already knew it from Googling years ago when JT brought sexy back.}

If you thought her performance was weird or gross or stupid or in poor taste, I totally agree. But if you’re shocked, I contend that you’ve had your head in the sand for years. This is nothing new, its just a different face on the same old song and dance. Strip down and shake it and even the singing voice is optional, thanks to autotune. This must be what we want, America, because we keep watching. We keep talking. We keep paying for it.

Don’t blame Miley, folks. Take a look in the mirror, and consider tuning out.

Cooper

Two beautiful surprise packages joined our family last Monday, in the form of tiny little sons that I never thought I would have.

But God knew.

When we moved here six plus years ago, we were buying a different house. A house not quite perfect, but we were willing to overlook the too-small kids bedrooms in order to get the perfect public rooms we were looking for. Alas, the contingency offer fell through when our house didn’t sell in time, and my husband, especially, was disappointed.

God has a plan,’ I assured him, and he mumbled a halfhearted agreement.

So we found ourselves homeless at the holidays, while I was 9 months pregnant, and we had two toddlers to boot. With a limited housing market and even more limited time, we snagged a good enough house and vowed to trade up later. And just as trade up time rolled around, we learned that we were expecting. Twins. And we laughed together about God’s plan – that not only did He surprise us with these babies, but He knew six years ago that we would one day really need these oversized bedrooms way more than we would need a bigger living room.

My sister pinned this on Pinterest a few days ago and it made me smile. This is a lesson we have had so clearly illustrated to us in recent months. And we have that faith.

In all things.

Jackson was born first, and big sister Annabelle was able to assist the doctor. Boldly she pulled on the too-large gloves, confident and anxious to meet her brothers. The brothers she had prayed for and the Lord had answered her prayers. And confidently she delivered him – quickly and carefully suctioning, grinning ear to ear as she cut his cord.

And then came Cooper – slower, more complicated. A hand in the way, a vacuum extraction, and resuscitation required. I looked up at my terrified husband, nearly crying because he was so sure that this baby had not made it. Purple and lifeless he lay, until the doctor helped God, as Annie put it, and he drew his first breath. And then came tears of joy and relief and thanksgiving…and only then did my doctor – my beloved, trusted doctor – share with me that I should know before I see him that there was something. Amniotic Band Syndrome he called it, and I shook my head unknowingly. ‘It happened at conception,’ he assured me. ‘It’s nothing you did or didn’t do.’ He knows my heart.

And so, in the brief moment I was able to hold him before he was whisked off to the nursery, I was able to look at his arm. His left arm, which stops just below the elbow joint. And my honest to God first thought was that he has an adorable dimple on the end of his stump. And I kissed it. And as he left the room, I laughed at the sick sense of humor that runs in my family, which is exactly when Annabelle said that he would make an awesome Captain Hook for Halloween. And Dr. Buck suggested that we start him off with a spork before we go full hook.

These are my people.

We believe in owning it. We won’t be hiding it away or refusing to discuss. He’s gonna rock his stubby little arm, and know without a doubt that he was fearfully and wonderfully made, exactly as he is.

Now I won’t have to worry that my husband will mix the boys up.

I immediately thought of the exchange in Fried Green Tomatoes.

Ruth: I can understand having a funeral for an arm, I just don’t know WHY she insists on calling him Stump.

Sipsey: Miss Idgie says everybody else will be calling him that, we might as well be the first.

I can honestly tell you that we are not upset. Everyone seems to find that hard to believe, but it’s true. We do not want reassurance that he will be ok – we know that already. We don’t need to hear that it could be worse, because we know that too. He is exactly as he should be.

After all that we have been through, with every passing moment it becomes more evident that God has a plan for our lives that we aren’t privy to just yet. And we have faith that even if only in retrospect, we will understand it.

My friend Darcie recently wrote about growing her daughter and it touched me. She grew a perfect Cassidy.

Me, I grew a perfect Cooper. Stump and all.

Cooper newborn

Brave knows no gender

  • Not long ago Jen Hatmaker wrote a bog post entitled Brave Moms Raise Brave Kids, and my Facebook feed exploded with mothers saying that they wished they could do this with their sons. I like Jen. And usually I agree with Jen. And kind of I agree with her here, too – we are those laid back parents. My kids totally use sharp knives and build things with actual nails and hammers and power tools. They have (and use!) air rifles and I love it.But here’s the thing y’all – I have daughters. Three of ’em. And it is my daughters who live on this edge, doing stupid things like sliding down the stairs in a laundry basket.

    This is not a ‘boy’ thing.

    Why should it be? As Jen said, we are not precious people. I was never one to mind the place of a girl, with long silky hair and a pretty little dress, playing girly games. In the dirt I played, in the woods I hunted with my Dad, to the river I went with my Pap. I played in forts, collected broken glass, swam in muddy creeks and learned how to spit and hit and catch and run and do it all right along with the boys.

    Brave isn’t a boy thing, and I bristle and resent the implication that it is.

    Reading all of these friends’ thoughts about how boys should be raised made me bite my tongue. Hard.

    When I was pregnant with Lilly, I can’t tell you how many people asked if we were finally getting a boy. Or how my husband felt about having three girls. Was he supposed to be disappointed? Are girls not as valuable? All men want sons?

    As time passed, we came to resent the comments more and more. Each time we were asked if we would try again later for a boy, we grew more and more convicted that we didn’t want any stinking boys anyway, thankyouverymuch, our girls are pretty darn awesome. I once, in a very pregnant and hormonal state, snapped at a woman in Sam’s Club and asked how she dare to say such a thing in front of my young daughters, as if to tell them they are any less than a boy. She stared at me, dumbfounded, and finally spit out that men always want sons, whether they admit it or not.

    Jerk.

    I went to the car and sobbed.

    Because the truth is, I did want a boy. And probably so did my husband.

    Not instead of, mind you. Never once did we hope to have one gender or the other, and never once were we even a teeny tiny bit disappointed with what we saw on the ultrasound screen. Our girls are the greatest blessings of our lives, and we have never been anything but thankful for them.

    But we tend to want it all, don’t we? And I wanted a boy, too. I wanted a boy because I know boy. The emotional girl stuff I see coming with my middle daughter terrifies me. I don’t know how to deal with girl stuff. Boy stuff I know. So actual boys or tomboys, I can do. Girls – real girls – this is scary, y’all.

    We talked about adopting a boy. An older one of course – we aren’t baby people. We were selling our house in order to buy land and build a bigger house, and maybe then, after we were settled. Maybe in a few years. Maybe a toddler. But of course God laughed and so here we are, not selling, not building, not having a toddler but two baby boys.

    And many people have told me that I will find boys are different. And I’m sure they are. But so are all three of my girls.

    I hear things like ‘boys are physical – they climb and throw and dive off of things’ and I think of how Annabelle was walking at 7.5 months, climbing and sliding down poles in our basement when she was barely a year old, diving off the back of a recliner even younger than that. It’s easiest to smile and nod politely, I’ve found.

    Ultimately what I want for my children – for all five of my children – really isn’t that different. And how I will parent them all probably won’t look that much different either.

    I expect them all to be brave, boy and girl alike.

    Everyone gets dirty around here.

    I wish for them all to have broken bones and scars and stitches and various other non-life-threatening injuries sustained while doing something incredibly stupid and fun. I really, truly do. Because those dumb things I did when I was a kid, those scars I have to show for them – they are memories that I treasure. The busted knee playing baseball, the head cut open from a skateboarding accident, the multiple broken and sprained ankles playing basketball…I want my kids to have those, too.

    I will pray for them every day. I will cry with them when they are hurt or sad or wronged, and I will always be on their side, macro. But I will also call them out when they are wrong, micro. I will make them handle their own problems, and deal with the fallout from their bad decisions.

    I want them all to get caught when they inevitably do wrong. Getting caught leads to [sometimes painful] lessons learned. Getting away with it is where the real danger lies.

    I’m kind of a tiger mom, so they won’t always like me. I won’t let them quit the team when it isn’t fun anymore, because we honor our commitments. I will not pull them out of a class with a mean teacher, because God put them there for a reason. We grow from bad experiences more often than good ones. And I won’t sugar coat it when I explain this to them, either.

    I will be their mother and their best friend, and I know this is possible because I had it with my own parents. There was never any blurred line. I knew without a doubt that they were my parents, but I also knew even as a bratty teenager that no one would ever love me more than them, and I genuinely valued and respected them for that – not just as parents, but as friends. I knew I could go to them with anything and they would love me through it. Somehow, some way, I will do this for my children, too.

    And when the ‘parenting’ years are behind me, I look forward to just being a friend. I have three really cool daughters and I’m excited to meet the adults they become. I will love my daughters with all of my being for all of my life, and I hope that we will always be as close as we are now, in a different way. I will do my best to bite my tongue when I am tempted to advise them as adults, so that maybe I will remain a good friend instead of a resented mother.

    I do not want to have Momma’s boys. I will never, ever, EVER read to them ‘Love You Forever’, and I will never be the creepy freak climbing into my daughter-in-laws bedroom to rock her husband in the middle of the night. {Seriously people, do you ever really think about that book? It’s messed up.} I will love my sons with all of my being for all of my life, but if I do my job correctly, they will leave me. I want them to leave me. I want them to find a woman better than me, and love her more than me, and put her before me. And I will do my very best to butt the heck out of their lives so that maybe I will gain another daughter instead of a daughter-in-law.

    I don’t have a ‘parenting philosophy’, but I do have these goals in mind. So far, we have had one broken bone, two sprains, two arms in slings, countless ER visits, two hospitalizations, a very dirty house, and three Christ-following children to show for it. Not too shabby.

    Yes, brave mothers do raise brave kids – that we can agree on. But gender has nothing to do with it. I feel sorry for everyone who thinks that it does.

What Lies Beneath

There was once a movie of this name. I don’t remember what it was about or if I even saw it, but I’ve always loved the title.

What Lies Beneath.

It’s an interesting thought, isn’t it, what lies under the surface of everyone, everything? People and things are rarely what they seem.

At church our pastor has been doing a sermon series on family, and what that is supposed to look like. The roles of husbands, wives, children, parents. Discipling your children has been the past two weeks, and it’s been very convicting. Not because I learned anything new really – I know well the task assigned to me. It is perhaps the most important one I will ever have in my life, and I take that very seriously. But even when discussing something you already ‘know’, it’s important to take a fresh look. To step back and evaluate your job performance, so to speak.

And it’s humbling.

I mean, I have great kids. Really great. And while they are far from perfect – believe me, I know their flaws well – they are are at their core good and kind and decent human beings. They are good students, they know right from wrong, they love Jesus, and they are generally respectful to anyone that isn’t their sibling. And I am thankful for all of that. And so sometimes, it’s easy to let that be enough.

After the sermon we sang in response, and one of those songs was this:

It’s a favorite of mine, and I found it especially appropriate to meditate on from a parenting perspective.

A thousand times I’ve failed, still your mercy remains

Oh, how I have failed! Failed Him, failed them. I am woefully inept, shamefully not the mother that my children should have. They need so much more than me, so much better. They need Him. How often do I fail to give that to them? How often do I think of their good traits and let that be enough, without going deeper? Good isn’t good enough, after all.

Your will above all else, my purpose remains

The art of losing myself in bringing you praise

I’ve always loved that last line. Do you know how hard it is to lose yourself? To really get past all of your own thoughts and feelings and hangups and lose yourself?

From a parental perspective, I think of how my children need so much less of me, and so much more of Him. How I need to lose myself, and show them His perspective. What He wants, what He expects…not react out of how I feel or what I think. How my children need to know our own insignificance in order to gain a greater perspective. How I need to truly evaluate and purify What Lies Beneath my actions and motivations when it comes to raising these precious lives He has entrusted to me.

I don’t say any of this because I have the answers – for me or for you. I say it because it’s where my heart is right now, and I have a renewed conviction to do better in shepherding my little flock.

With a whole lot less of me involved.

nursery cribs

Nursery reveal

So this probably [definitely] isn’t as exciting for you as it is for me, but I have finally finished the babies’ nursery.

Finally.

Ok, I know some people take months to do this, but really, there’s no time to spare around here. So in just one month, it’s all been decided, ordered, made, purchased, gifted, painted, hung, and otherwise prepped. All that’s missing now is the boys – and a few thousand diapers.

The room was already painted lime green, and because A) I do love the color and B) time is of the essence, we stuck with it. My mom was kind enough to fill nail holes and do some touch up painting, and that was basically it.

I chose espresso brown furniture for the room, and I am really happy with the contrast. Because it’s a smallish space (12×12) with a lot that needs to go in, storage is of the essence – hence this changing table with baskets built in. The laundry hamper is what sold me – as I recall, there will be lots of little laundry to do soon. Times two.

Above the changing table is a diaper organizer which, although it’s early in the game, I totally love so far. Our previous changing table had a place for diapers and wipes built in at the end of the mattress, and I was disappointed to find that this style is no longer readily available, as it was crazy convenient. This is a nice alternative I think.

You will also note that I chose inexpensive [cheap] furniture. It’s a whole different ballgame with surprise kids 4 & 5. With your first, you might be planning ahead and saving money. You might splurge on beautiful Pottery Barn nursery sets, and set up the nursery for 7 months.

For 4 & 5, you decide that as long as it’s not painted in lead, it’s all good.

Moving on…cribs:

I’m a plain Jane kinda girl, so clean line basic furniture like this is right up my alley. They are technically convertible to full sized beds, but I doubt that will ever happen for us. The house we are building is just a 5 bedroom, so if you do the math that means that someone’s doubling up…and it’s likely going to be these two. I see the purchase of twin beds in our future.

Next up is a large dresser and La-Z-Boy recliner. I had picked out a much smaller traditional nursery glider, and the night before purchasing it dawned on me that it was nowhere near large enough to hold me and two babies. My parents happened to be at my house when I came to this realization, and they immediately hopped in their car, went to the furniture store, and bought us this beauty – more than big enough for three, and oh-so-incredibly comfortable.

I envision myself sleeping here many, many nights.

Between the cribs is a bookcase, for which I intend to buy some canvas storage bins and board books (since those were all given away years ago!)

Someone had given the girls American Girl craft kits a while back and they used them to make decorations for the boys:

When asked, I answered honestly that they were very cute, but perhaps a little girly for two little boys. Annie bemoaned the fact that everything they have is girly and was pleased with my reassurance that this would change soon. Poor kid. It had never occurred to me that she would enjoy less feminine crafts. {Though in retrospect, her sketch pad full of superheroes should have clued me in…}

The girls have also started adding presents to the shelves. Annie made a book for the babies – cut, sewed, and stuffed the soft panels all by herself. Catie is giving them her turtle music box (which Mommy desperately needs to polish!). And Lilly has given her brothers her outgrown toddler Bible.

I wanted more of a color scheme than an actual theme, so I opted to make most of the bedding. I did patchwork quilts (to be used, not hung):

I also made matching pillows (no, they won’t stay in the cribs once they are born – thank you for your concern):

The sheets and changing pad cover were a fortunate discovery that turned out to be a perfect match to the colors in the room. Carter’s Laguna is the name of the pattern, and I am very pleased with them. Pardon the wrinkles above – they haven’t been washed yet. I pulled them straight from the package so I could snap some pics.

I also made coordinating curtains

and bedskirts. Instead of a traditional, all-the-way-around style, I opted for two flat panels only on the visible sides of the cribs. This gives a simple, tailored look, and also allowed me to make them floor length, creating a great space to store bulk packs of diapers and wipes. I imagine we will have a lot of those.

I painted this funky tree for above the dresser – don’t judge too harshly, I’m no artist and I know it.

The scripture reference at the bottom is Psalm 1:1-3 – “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”

I also made this Pinterest-inspired paint chip mobile.

In all the ones I saw online an embroidery hoop had been used for the top, and I didn’t care for that. I found a ridiculously thin and small grapevine wreath at the Dollar Tree store. Lousy for a wreath, but perfect for this, I think. I especially love that this, unlike most mobiles, is visually appealing from underneath, too, so it really is good for baby.

I bought the vinyl wall decals for $15 each from a local vendor and I’m pleased with the simplicity.

Also above the cribs are paper lanterns, which I especially love. They were very inexpensive and add exactly the punch I was looking for.

I found that Asian Ideas had the best prices when I was shopping, but they are sold in many other stores as well.

That’s pretty much it! But just because you might be nosy like me, I will show you the unpictured corner of the room which houses a Diaper Genie. {We might be the only parents on the planet who still love this thing, but we do.}

Also pictured is a closet door, and a hallway filled with painting supplies. While I decorated the nursery, my husband repainted Annabelle’s bedroom. Bless his heart – he is in full nesting mode.

I have to admit that I am breathing much easier this week after checking this major item off of my to-do list. I’m nearly 30 weeks along right now and preparing for early arrival between 34-36 weeks, so there isn’t much time to spare!

*Amazon affiliate links were used in this post

Surprise packages

I saw this the other day:

And this:

And this one too:

Maybe it’s like a horoscope – vague enough that you can easily read it and think it fits your situation.

Maybe you only see what you want to see.

My friends on Facebook and Pinterest have been sharing lots of interesting tidbits recently. The IDSC posted a heartbreaking story about pregnancy screenings and mothers who choose to abort based on them. My friend Darcie posted about her daughter (who also happens to have Down syndrome), who thanked her mother for growing her. These things made me think back to when I was expecting Annabelle, and faced with the same decision – to screen or not to screen. I knew that she was my baby no matter what the test results, so my only question for my doctor was if the results could help in some way, the knowing in advance. He said that he and his wife never had the tests done themselves, and that was good enough for me. He’s a wonderful man and I trust him implicitly. His exact words were that they ‘vowed to love, feed, clothe, and take to church whomever God sent’, and no test would change that. {That, my friends, is a keeper}

Or maybe, as a friend suggested, they are all little signs that God was sending me, and I just didn’t know it at the time.

Signs to pave the way – prepare my heart, my mind, my attitude.

My family.

The girls have been, out of the blue, incessantly talking about babies. They’ve been looking at an old baby magazine my sister gave me when I was first expecting, fascinated by the pictures of the developing babies.

“It looks like an alien!”

“The heart beats when the baby is less than three weeks old!”

“Mom, this is SO cool!”

‘Yes dear it is,’ came my reply, and then silently in my head I added ‘and thank God that part of my life is over.’

I’m not a baby person, you see. I loved my own daughters when they were babies, of course. Babies of the World. And I even like other people’s babies, whom I can see and play with and then leave. But I don’t miss that stage even a tiny little bit. No more diapers, no more car seats, no more sleepless nights. Kids who can make their own breakfast and let me shower alone are where it’s at, and almost every day I think something along the lines of ‘I am *so* glad all that baby stuff is behind us.’

We have nothing baby left – not even anything toddler. I’ve cleaned house completely. No more maternity clothes, no more bulky plastic toys, no more strollers. And no pile of money available for any such cause, either. These days our ‘disposable’ income is all about medical bills, baby – Lilly’s eyes, Chris’s back.

Somewhere up there, God is having a hearty laugh at the plans we made. What we thought we knew.

Bwahahahaha!

I can almost hear Him. I imagine this to look something like my Pap, laughing ’til he’s red in the face, and then shaking his head at my foolishness. As if something like a semi-permanent 99.9% effective birth control method that is equally effective as having your tubes tied could change His plans for us.

As if it matters that I am old, or that we are unprepared.

That this is a very high risk situation, for both baby and momma, with lots of difficult decisions and scary possibilities to face.

Still, here we are, dazed and shocked and completely uncertain about everything…except that I am pregnant. Oh so very pregnant.

I saw this shirt and thought, ‘I need someone to buy this for me.’

{I can’t, obviously, because I have to buy the crib and the carseat and all that other stuff. Again.}

But in actuality it isn’t quite right, because I’m not really expecting baby #4. No, no – that would be too easy. Sometimes, when God wants to teach you something, instead of whispering, He chooses to smack you upside the head with it.

So I’m expecting babies #4 AND #5.

Not even kidding.

Well played, God. Well played.

An ugly truth

There are some subjects that am so passionate about that I can’t help but speak up and speak out.

Adoption.

The R-word.

The Pittsburgh Steelers.

{And in turn, the Ravens and Tom Brady, and, well, lots of other sports related stuff that really isn’t the point right now}

There are also things that I care so much about I can hardly dare to speak of them, because I know I can’t be trusted to keep my composure.

In our house we have a policy:

Think before you speak – Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

If it doesn’t meet these requirements, then it’s generally best left unsaid.

Sometimes I struggle with the kind and the necessary.

Subjective, aren’t they? And sometimes I find it necessary to forgo one when the others are needed so much more.

But finally I have decided that this is True and Necessary, and the kind, well…I won’t be killing anyone with kindness today.

And I am okay with that.

Because this?

This is big. Huge. About as big as it gets.

And pedophilia and child molestation are something I just can’t shut up about.

CNN reported that on the one year anniversary of his death Tuesday, Paterno supporters gathered around a mural depicting the former coach. A mural which used to have a halo above his head, but someone mustered a small shred of decency and had that painted over.

Sadly, he was not painted out entirely…or given horns instead of halo.

Did you know that there is a Facebook fan page called Support Joe Paterno? It’s a safe haven for over 22,000 Penn State football devotees to sing his praises and, apparently, point out who else is guilty and wait for an apology to the Paterno family.

I hope they die without it.

I saw this banner on ESPN last year and I cheered. Loudly.

My thoughts exactly.

And the day that very thing happened was a very good day.

Don’t tell me that he did his job.

The absurdity of that would be laughable if it weren’t so sick and sad.

His job.

As if, when it comes to the rape and sexual abuse of a child, the letter of the law is all that is required.

As if you wouldn’t feel differently if you were the one being forced against that shower wall.

As if you wouldn’t feel differently if it was your child who was crying in the shower as he was being raped.

Too graphic for you?

This is Truth.

An ugly truth.

And it is the truth that Joe Paterno chose to do – at best – the very least that he was legally required to do.

At worst? Well, in my book, he’s an accomplice.

Don’t bother telling me who else was involved. Believe me, I’ve done my research. There is a lot of blame to go around. A sickening number of guilty parties involved in the inaction/coverup of these heinous crimes. Paterno’s egregious breech of ethics and morals and basic human decency was not his and his alone, I am well aware.

But as I tell my children, pointing out someone else’s wrong doesn’t change your own behavior. The fact that Mike McQueary – and let me show his face here, because everyone should know what the ‘man’ who saw a pedophile in action, admittedly made eye contact with the young boy being attacked, and then walked away and did nothing to stop it…everyone should know what that kind of ‘man’ looks like. It should also be noted that ‘man’ in parenthesis is the kindest possible word I have to describe him. By a long shot. –

the fact that Mike McQueary saw a child being raped, made eye contact with him, and chose to walk away…

it’s unspeakable. Unfathomable.

How is that even possible?

I may very well have gotten myself beaten to a bloody pulp, but I would not walk away. Would not let him continue. Would not forgo 911. And I sure as heck wouldn’t go home to my family and act as though nothing had happened.

Presumably he will be cool with it if someone ever abandons his child in a similar situation.

I would find it hard not to worry about a karma boomerang if I were him.

But even being arguably the most guilty party lined up behind Sandusky – in a vomit-inducingly long line of guilty parties – he isn’t getting his fair share of media attention.

No, that honor goes to JoePa, the face of Penn State.

I’m not the media. I didn’t shine that spotlight. But I don’t feel bad that it’s hitting him. And I don’t for a fraction of a second believe it’s undeserved.

It’s part of the job he took on in 1966, being the head coach of a major football program.

When you are the face of an organization and the heart of a school, you accept a huge responsibility.

If that team loses games, you’re the one held accountable, not the grad students working for you.

Paterno was happy to take credit for 409 wins. He even owned his 19 losing seasons.

He owns a big piece of this as well.

Let us never forget that.

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