Happy Halloween!            (2015)

We took advantage of several dress-up opportunities and made the best of Halloween this year. From a pink poodle to a ladybug, Hazel enjoyed holding all the candy she could at one single time, refusing to put any in an actual container. Turns out, the girl likes a good dum-dum sucker….or two.

Wesley wanted to be an Ewok this year, so I made his costume. It was a recycle from Daniel’s 1st grade Christmas play dog costume and I just added essential elements to give it the proper Star Wars feel. He wanted to wear it early and often, although a few tweens that chimed in with a “awwehhh, look at the cute teddy bear!” hurt his feelings a little. I told him they didn’t matter, cause anyone that didn’t know what Star Wars was needed to learn a lot more about the world. He seemed satisfied with that.

Daniel wanted to be Steve from Minecraft. We don’t own the game, so he doesn’t even get to play it often. His obsession is only gratified when we visit a few friends and he gets to play while there. Steve wears purple pants and blue shirt, so I scrounged up those items thanks to Goodwill and a local consignment sale. We borrowed a pixilated sword from a friend, and his costume was complete. We didn’t have all the pieces until late, so he opted to be a Star Wars Jedi and later Darth Vader at events we went to before Halloween Day. I forgot to really take a pic of him on his own as Steve though, so you can barely see the costume.

They got more than enough candy, not to mention a few apples, pencils, stickers, a box of crayons, and some pickles and pudding. I’m not gonna call out who gave them pickles and pudding, but it just may be a family member of mine. Have fun guessing. Shouldn’t take long to figure out.

Happy Halloween! 
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Pretty Little Ladybugs

Kids loaded into the car, I began to back out of the driveway and head to my physical therapy appointment. I hurt my knee 12 weeks ago, and I am still not 100%, so PT has been on the life schedule for about 2 weeks. Looking over to my left, I see three ladybugs inside the van. Rolling down the window, I flip them outside, roll up the window, and drive.

Turns out, one didn’t fully escape, so a few miles down the road at a stop sign, I repeat the process of removal. That pesky ladybug just wasn’t giving up easily, so a third time, at a stoplight right before the PT location, I prove successful and finally vacate the animal from my crumb ridden mini-van.

At PT, they did a reassessment of me, to see how I have progressed in the past few week. I’m asked those dreaded questions about the pain scale  and give the best number I can. As the therapist works, I begin to see his face turn. He then proceeds to do movements that hurt more pointedly than the previous ones, and it’s almost like he is “onto something” as he asks me to perform move after move that is troublesome.

“I don’t know how Blake missed this,” the therapist speaks aloud, although seemingly not to anyone in particular. I sit up from the exam table and support myself on my elbows.

“Miss what? What do you mean?”

Before answering, he asks me to recant my moment of injury, and at the close he says, “I think you tore your ACL.”

Dumbfounded, I seriously say, “What the what?!?!” to him while I scrunch up my eyebrows, like some tween that is completely astounded but too afraid curse in public.

As we talk more, I hold back tears. He confirms that PT is still a good plan, but I will need to see an orthopedist.  “I am gonna need a pity moment for a second,” I eek out, and the tears begin to fall.

“I’m not 100% sure. We’d have to have a scan first to know” he states, trying to assuage my sadness and frustration. It wasn’t successful.

Before we head home, I text Thomas and tell him to call me as soon as he is done with his sessions for the day. Loading back into the car, I fight back more tears.

Once home, it’s a rush for dinner before church. Wednesday nights are always a little hectic with the later bedtime and drop-off and pick-up of the kids to their classrooms. I no longer had an appetite, so as the kids chowed down and Thomas began his commute home, I began sweeping up the past week’s worth of crumbs from under the table. Crouched down to be certain to get all the food bits in the dustpan, I also knowingly coddle my injured knee, being sure not to bend too much or turn the wrong way and create too much sudden pain. I thought about the repercussions of a potentially torn ACL, the complications of a surgery, the down time to heal that I really don’t have, the time I’ve already spent in recovery attempts, how not having mom’s help with the kids if I do have surgery will be hard, and the list goes on and on and on….

“Look Wesley! Another ladybug” shouts Daniel in a cheerful tone. Mid-sweep, I pause. It hit me right then.

Mom always had a thing about ladybugs. She once gave me and my brothers each a little ornament to display, in way of letting us all know she was thinking of us. Ladybugs are supposedly good luck in some cultures, and she liked that concept. Her house, for some reason, was the random nesting ground for the little insects. They would pile up in certain outside corners of her house and just make an active lump of moving, flying insects during certain seasons. She would sometimes huff as she swept them all out of her house and off of her pouch. As she noted, them always being in such massive amounts at her house was just another reason that her little ladybug ornament would make us think of her. Once, when she was fighting cancer and the bugs were active, one traveled home with a friend that visited her. A vagabond, the tiny red dot went from inside mom’s to Bridget’s car, all the way to Bridget’s house. When the animal fluttered off 30 minutes away from “home,” Bridget texted my mom about the hitchhiker. It gave them both a good chuckle.

It was comforting to me, thinking about the ladybugs. Three earlier in the day that made no mental connection to me, all seen moments before I received some sad news, were there to precede the painful news (or potentially sad news–it very well might not be torn….positive thinking for the win, right?). When I got home, defeated, another bug showed to help me make the connection. It’s like God knew I would miss my mom even more on a day like this, and he sent a few of his creation to soften the blow.

Then I thought of how my friend gave Hazel a hand-me-down ladybug costume to wear for Halloween. Mom was always a blast this time of year, and I remember last year being surprisingly difficult for me celebrating Halloween without her. Funny how even in these random gifts from friends, the Lord is good to let me know he has not forgotten my sorrow. He sees and understands my pain, and he wants to give me little nuggets to help me in my grief journey.

Who doesn't sit her daughter on the washing machine to take a picture? It's not the best picture, but we were in a hurry to make an event, so I snapped it quickly.

Who doesn’t sit her daughter on the washing machine to take a picture? It’s not the best picture, but we were in a hurry to make an event, so I snapped it quickly.

Right now, I don’t know what will become of my knee. I am hopeful that I can continue on in therapy and recover all my mobility and strength. All I know, is that I am certainly feeling weak, in knee and in spirit.

And when I think that I’m tapping out, I get a text from a friend, the same that gifted the costume, that tells me her grandmother is entering her final days, but that her mother has been clinging to some words that I wrote  on my blog to give her comfort. I read it, and I cried. Cause all I know is that at times life hurts, and things are confusing, and it seems too much to bear. Your knees are weak and you just can’t take it anymore.

But then, when it seems too much, you’re reminded that you matter and that He hasn’t forgotten, cause a pretty little lady bug shows up in your car, sits on your washing machine, and flutters quietly onto your kitchen table.