Journeying the Tens

In college, fall of my sophomore year, I broke my leg in three places, resulting in a thigh down, no bending your knee, neon orange cast for 6 weeks and a walking book for 3 or so more.

The day it happened, our co-ed intramural soccer team was out on the field practicing. We had advanced to limited soccer skills, with me falling somewhere in the high middle of that skill set. Being it was just practice, some of us had shin guards on while others did not. You can guess which part of the pack I was in at the time. My shin-guardless shin met square on with my friend Eric’s shin-guarded shin and created an explosion of pain.

At the point of impact, I remember seeing stars and crumpling down on the field. After testing the waters of walking, we opted for someone to carry me back to our college ministry’s house. Little swelling or bruising existed, but lots of pain certainly did. A look-over from an off duty nurse gave the diagnosis of “just a sprain” and to “go gently” the next few days.

That night, my roommate later told me that I talked in my sleep, mostly indiscernible mumbles. The next morning, I couldn’t take it anymore; the pain was becoming simply unmanageable. After Thomas, my then sweet and new boyfriend, transported me to the ER, he went inside the to get me a wheelchair. I remember getting out of his truck with my broken leg having spasms, flopping uncontrollably from the knee down, while all three breaks in my bones rattled and I winced and fought back tears, completely unable to make it settle.

Once inside, I was asked to rate my pain. This was an activity I had never recalled doing before. The worker sat before me a laminated chart with faces to help me choose my level 1-10, with 10 being the greatest and deepest pain. One thing I knew for sure was that it hurt. The level of that hurt was the most I had ever encountered. After thinking briefly, I declared, “All I know this is the worst pain I’ve ever felt. But there has to be something in the world that hurts more………..so I am going to say a 9.”

All the people I encountered treated me like some whiny little college girl, for my leg still wasn’t overly swollen or bruised. The doctor that asked the initial questions and examined my leg before x-rays literally said, “This isn’t really a big deal here. If you will just sit still and let me look at your leg, it won’t hurt.” A few x-rays later, the doctor came back into the room and quickly spoke the words “I’m so very sorry. I really did not think your leg was broken at all. You actually have three separate breaks in your left leg.” Turns out I had a valid reason for the pain. The visit ended in a temporary cast and a pain shot in my butt, at which point I made my new and dear boyfriend turn his head and look the other way.

This event successfully stayed at the top of my pain scale experience until August last year. Breaking your face can rank pretty high as well apparently. I never remember anyone asking me at the scene, during the life-flight, or in the ER about my pain level. I guess when people can visibly see a break in your jaw, with your mandible split clear in half, along with a few open wounds on your chin, they don’t need to question too much about 1-10, cause they don’t want you to talk and the existence of pain is obvious. Later, however, when I would want some pain meds, the scale became a point of conversation. When my headaches were debilitating, while my jaw was wired and pressed so tight my teeth ached in every space, crevice, and place, when the site of the titanium plate insertion itched on the inside of my mouth, and within that closed mouth I vomited due to the pain, I wanted to say 10 but never could. I always, at least to my memory, said 9….cause something worse had to exist.

When mom was diagnosed and we began her frequent doctor appointments she was asked to choose her pain level each visit. I would sit next to her and try to spy on her pain scale choice each week. Mostly, mom would circle a 3. I wanted to often jerk the pen and clipboard from her and yell “that’s BS mom!” but I never did anything that dramatic. Some days though, the 3 actually was believable, thankfully. I never saw her circle lower and rarely saw her circle higher. One day, when she was not breathing well, aching, not eating much, and overall in a poor condition, I saw her circle a 7. That very day she was admitted to the hospital and stayed a full week. I think she might have told doctors and nurses a higher number when I wasn’t around, but 7 was the highest she ever admitted to in my presence, and 3 was her average. Eventually, I ended up telling her, “Mom, you can’t keep circling threes on the scale. It’s just not believable.” Her reply? “I know, but right at that very moment it doesn’t hurt too bad and I don’t want to be a trouble patient.”

A few months later, after Hazel’s arrival, months after mom’s diagnosis, I finally got around to reading a book, _The Fault in Our Stars_ by John Green, that my sister-in-law let me borrow when I was a on driving lock-down and still eating all my meals through a straw. I knew the premise “kids have cancer” but that was all. I ended up reading the book in 2 days, and that was not fast enough. Something about three kids to take care of made me put the book down here and there. Turns out, the main character’s name is Hazel, which is something I did not know of before naming my girl. Little did I know at the time that this book would prepare me for so much that was to come, such as mom’s “Last Good Day” and, ultimately, her passing. It was in this book that my choice of 9 finally became clear. If you haven’t read the book, you absolutely should. If you haven’t seen the movie, it is one you need to watch. But if you want to not be spoiled about it, just stop here…… cause in the book, there is a loss, and with that death, Hazel reflects upon the pain she experienced in the ER with her emptiness from losing Gus:

I called it [my ER pain] a nine because I was saving my ten. And here it was, the great and terrible ten, slamming me again and again as I lay still and alone in my bed staring at the ceiling, the waves tossing me against the rocks and then pulling me back out to sea so they could launch me again into the jagged face of the cliff, leaving me floating faceup on the water, undrowned.

The weeks since mom has died have been full tens at times, thrashings against rocky cliffs. Those moments that sneak up on me are the worse, such as Hazel beginning to crawl and me instinctively beginning to send mom the video. Some things you mentally know will be emotionally draining or sensitive, such as Daniel’s upcoming birthday, her birthday this month, Thanksgiving, etc., but those unexpected occurrences are the worse it seems, and this is a journey I’ve only begun.

It makes me figure, too, why mom kept shooting so low on the spectrum when choosing her numbers. I guess when you lose your husband suddenly, while you have 4, 6, and 12 year old children to care for, your pain scale is completely and irrevociably skewed.

I hate that the pain of losing mom is so great, even if we had some time to expect it and prepare some for it. 62 is still just too early to die, even if others have gone much sooner. And in the sadness, I get angry, cause 32 is just simply too young to not have any living parents, yet that is currently my lot.

I’ll never be able to forget her, feel nothing at the significance of my loss. There really isn’t a pain pill that takes away the pain of loss; the pangs in my stomach will always reside. Amidst the 10, however, I find peace knowing she can’t even fathom the concept of a pain scale now. I’m grateful for a faith that she shared with me that tells me this is true.

It is while journeying through the tens that I cling to scripture that can restore my soul, most recently John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

HE has overcome, and therefore I can claim the same. I will take heart, even on 10 days, and know that I can have a peace in troubled times.

Because It’s Been 9 Years

Today, I took Daniel to stay the night with his cousin and Wesley to stay the night with my mom, and when this guy gets home from work, I’m surprising him and telling him to get back in the car, for we’re going to have a night of celebration—because it’s been 9 years

9 years since I walked down the aisle towards my best friend
9 years since I boo-hooed some vows to my true love
9 years since I entered a lifelong covenant with the goofy man that seriously “had me at hello” (or the “Whoomp There It Is” shirt, to be more exact)

I love you Thomas, today, yesterday, and always.

Happy 9 Years!

To-Do List Reminder

Nap time is usually “attempt to get everything done time” for me. Recently, it is a guessing game if Daniel is actually going to nap or not, and even though he still has “rest time” it just does not work out to the same moment of opportunity as a true nap does.

Today, they both fell asleep, and I knew I could really get some things done. I was knocking out some things on my to-do list, which seemed to be way too far behind since VBS and Wesley’s birthday. To top it off, it was raining and storming outside, so staying indoors was all the easier and I felt even more productive.

Right in the midst of putting some laundry away, I heard Wesley awake from nap, crying. Crying when waking up from nap really just means he woke up too soon. I raced upstairs and scooped him out of his bed and sat with him in the rocking chair. He was crying, fighting me, wanting to get up.

Knowing he needed to keep resting, I told him to stay with mommy and then I began to sing to him. He settled down and began to play with my hair, which is something he does all the time as a comfort. Usually, if my hair is in a pony tail when I go to put him in bed, I have to let it down so he can get his hands on it. If not, he will rub at the hair at the base of my neck. He even plays with his own when he gets sleepy or upset.

Soon, his speed of running his fingers across my long strands of hair began to slow. Next thing I knew, he had stopped completely, his weight seemed to double, and he was back asleep. Success! I could suddenly get back to my to-do list.

But I couldn’t. I, instead, needed to just keep sitting with my “baby,” just like I got to do when I first welcomed him into the world (wasn’t that just yesterday??) Now, instead of being exclusively on my chest when sleeping, he needed my lap too, and his feet hang down past my knees. Now, I can’t breathe as simply when his full weight is at rest on me. Usually, he reaches for the bed before he completely falls asleep; holding him while he dreams is so rare.

So, we just sat there in the chair. I held him while I listened to the storms roll in, rain pound on the roof, the thunder rattle the windows, and the clothes in the dryer toss and turn in their cycle. I sat there and kissed his head while saying screw it to my to-do list.

Wesley is worth much more than another line through a daily chore.

Thank God for the reminder.

8 years and 1/2 a 14er

Thomas and I have officially been married 8 years!

To celebrate this fact, we took a trip out west. We  have journeyed west before but we have never enjoyed the mountains. Thomas took the liberties to plan the whole gig, and he found a magnificent cabin right outside of Colorado Springs. Here is the view from the hot tub (or the couch), along with a photo of our “home sweet home” for a few days:

Our cabin rested on over 100 acres of private land. The land even had the original homestead present.

I, of course, liked to imagine what it would have been like to have lived there, in that homestead, in the late 1800s. The owners kept a great historical account of the land and the family in a book available for guests to read. The acreage was originally purchased by a single lady Imoda (I think that was how you spelled it) in the late 1800s. She later married and soon after gave birth to a daughter. About a year after her first child was born, she gave birth to a son. Shortly after his birth, she died from complications. It was interesting to know so much about the land on which I was residing without it being a major historical marker. Two lives were brought into the world right there in that tiny house above and one life was lost right inside of it as well. It was just intriguing, and I enjoyed the solitude that the land provided, along with the rich history.

While in CO, we met with a college friend and his new fiance in the city of Denver at a comfort food restaurant that was also hip, called Steuben’s. I had an entree of mac-n-cheese. Yum!

Denver had some interesting sculptures throughout the town that were fun to see. There was also a cool art show happening in the middle of a pedestrian mall. While observing the art, I heard “Summer??!!” and I turned to find a girl that use to live down the hall from me in the dorms while I was in college. It was SO random. She is very talented, and it was funny that I was fascinated with her art before I realized I actually knew whose art it was! I also knew her husband, but we did not manage to see him, unfortunately.

While away, we were able to visit the Garden of the Gods. The location gets its name because the natives had once said it was so beautiful that the gods must have come down from the heavens to play. There was certainly a perfect and picturesque view every which way you turned. We hiked though the grounds many miles, completely in awe of our surroundings.

The day after Garden of the Gods, we got up before the sun and headed to Pike’s Peak, one of Colorado’s 14ers. We planned to hike Barr Trail about 13 miles to the summit and take the cog train, which takes passengers to the top for summit viewing, down, back to our vehicle.

As we started the morning hiking, it was cool and overcast. As we ascended the mountain, it was amazing to literally hike into the clouds. We stood in them as the swirled away to make room for the sun of the day. No picture can do it justice. It was just amazing.

Despite living in a town that the Internet tells me is less than 400 feet above sea level, we were able to handle the drastic elevation change quite well. It helped that our cabin was at 8,00 feet, so we had slept at a great height for two nights. It was a bit of a challenge when we first started, for it was almost like the effort that you were exerting was about half of what your body felt like it was giving. Fortunately, as we ascended higher and higher, we acclimated quite well considering we were beginning the hike at about 6,500 above sea level and aiming for over 14, 000 at the conclusion.

We knew that our anniversary trip was a little early in the season to attempt a summit, but we at least wanted to give it a shot. We had noticed, from our excellent cabin view, that the snow was less every day and it even dwindled quite nicely by late afternoon. That gave us a little bit of hope. The only catch would be our way down, the cog train. If it was not summitting, we had a problem because we knew we could not hike the 26 miles from top to bottom, with the lack of daylight being just one of the reasons. And even though there is a campsite about half-way, that was not our objective, so we did not have any gear. (Side note: they do in fact run a marathon up and back down this mountain. That truly does blow my mind. The record holder is a local who holds both the half and the whole best times. His winning speed? I forgot the whole but the half, 13 miles up a mountain, he did in 2 hours and 1 minute. Wow!)

After hiking about 5 1/2 miles, which is just under halfway, we realized that it was too windy for our train to summit. No train summiting, means no Summer and Thomas summiting (see sign photo above). Summit was recording 80mph winds, so the train was not risking it. We, therefore, turned around and began to head down, for we wanted to be able to catch our train and ride it up as far as it was offering.

The train provided us with a great history lesson and some humor along the ride. Thomas took some artsy photos, which made me happy.

Lounging in the hot tub, cooking a few meals, sipping on wine, reading books, and just enjoying each others company was basically what made up the rest of the trip. We appreciated not having Internet for a few days.

Going to the mountains was a great way to reflect on our 8 years in marriage. We, in fact, went to the mountains on our honeymoon, but the Smokies are much less dramatic than the Rockies. All in all though, it was the same purpose 8 years later: to enjoy being together and being in love.

Our trip came right after a sermon given by our pastor on how empty nesters now hold the new #1 divorce rate. Why? Because for around 20 years mommies pour their everything into their children, neglecting themselves and not prioritizing their marriage. Daddies just go with the flow and begin to pull away from their wives. One day, the kids are gone and you realize you do not know that person next to you. You do not even know yourself. As he said “You said ‘I do’ to your spouse, not your kids. It goes God, Spouse, and then kids!” So, it felt good to take a break from the day to day tasks, to let our children enjoy grandma for a few days, and to go and invest in our marriage.

I’m such a blessed gal! I love you Thomas! Here’s to 8 wonderful years down and many more years together.

This Much, Always

(<—-Side note: Check out those cuties in my new double running stroller. I traded a neighbor friend my single for her double. FYI: Running with two kiddos in tow=hard)

Man, my kids love me! And the great part about it is that they just do. Wesley can simply hear my voice and want to jump into my arms. He grins from ear to ear when he catches a glimpse of me from across the room. Daniel is constantly hugging me, telling me “I luv you momma,” completely unprompted. I am so very blessed, for they even love me when I do not deserve it. Recently, Daniel has begun to parrot the phrases he hears us say to him. He says them in such a genuine tone too, which is so sweet. For instance, he saw me addressing some cards in our bedroom. I had them spread all over our bed. Daniel comes in and says, “Oh momma! You are so, so smart. Good job!” Smart for addressing envelopes? Ok, I’ll take that. He also told me the other day, when I decided to wash the car by driving through a car wash that he was “So proud. You did good on the car, Momma.” Really? I mean, all I did was push a button to bring down then window, stick my hand out into the cold air, and then swipe my debit card. You’re proud of that? Awesome! I truly pray they love me this much, always……or even more one day!

I also take great comfort in the fact the Lord is as good and as kind. He just loves me. Even when a skeleton may be in my closet, God loves me for me, and he is proud, even in the simple. Unconditional love, even if I do not reciprocate. How amazing is that? And I know He will love me this much, always.

Brothers

When we found out baby #2 was going to be a boy, Thomas walked around for a few days saying the phrase “Daniel is going to have a brother.” I was like “Ummm. Yeah. That is what having 2 boys means.” But to Thomas, the thought of a brother for Daniel was much more, for he came from a family of 2 sisters. I too came from a family with 2 siblings of the opposite gender, and although we both love our siblings very much, there is  something special about the bond between a same sex sibling that neither of us had the privilege of experiencing. Daniel and Wesley, however, will know that special love, and the thought of those emotions was exactly what made Thomas in a sort of jealous awe of our boys–brothers–my boys!!my boys 2

and yes, I do know one day they will fight like brothers do, but let me enjoy these precious moments now, while they are still too young to throw punches ;O)

Welcome Wesley!

After watching a “due date” come and go and thinking our little man had taken up permanent residence, Wesley decided to enter the world without further delay. Upon driving through a monsoon, we arrived at the hospital just after midnight with contractions just under 3 minutes apart, broken water, and according to the doctor at my appointment that day, dilated to at least 4. We were mistaken for a scheduled midnight induction, so we were kindly asked to wait. While Thomas attempted to prevent his blood from boiling, I could do nothing more than laugh. When finally given attention from the staff, they asked me to sign some papers and finally realized I was in labor. Despite other random events……power outages/system checks that knocked out every light and each monitor in the delivery room, an on-call doctor that thought walking to another building to get paper work instead of coming to catch my baby was a good idea…….Wesley entered our family without complication, full of sweetness, and quite nourished at 8 pounds 10.5 ounces, 21 inches long! Welcome Wesley!

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daniel sees wesley

Daniel came the day of Wesley’s birth to visit at the hospital. He cautiously peered into the container that held his little brother. When we asked if he wanted to see the baby more closely, he excitedly said “yes!”

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We’re so happy to be a family of 4. Thanks for all your love and prayers; please let it continue as we grow into our new size.

6 Years!

wedding kissAs of today, Thomas and I have been married for 6 years! We can’t belive it has already been that long, and we are really excited to know we will one day celebrate 25 years……50 years……still saying the same words.

With Wesley’s arrival pending, we knew that this year would not entail anything too big in the way of celebration (like we did last year), for we really had no idea if he would be here in our arms on the 31st, making his way here, or still in the womb, as he is now.

We did celebrate, however. We began by playing hookie from church. My mother watched Daniel for us, and we went to a nearby town that we never visit, so it really did fell like we were on vacation. Everything was unfamiliar, complete with many new/different restaurants, shops, and such. First we visited a store and just relaxed and browsed the aisles, despite being asked about 100 times if we “needed help finding anything.”  Then, we beat the church lunch rush and enjoyed a nice meal. Thomas was asked by the hostess upon being seated, “Is the baby yours?” I had already journeyed to the restroom, so I missed this part. Before our meals arrived, we exchanged anniversary cards. Both of us chose funny ones this year, so we were each laughing in turn as we came to the humorous parts. Another great form of entertainment was our whispering waiter. Thomas had an extremely hard time hearing anything he asked or said, and we used him as fodder for a mock SNL skit that we played out in our minds. At least he was a good server. Next, we saw a movie, and we really enjoyed the spacious theater with stadium seats and very few movie-goers. The sound at the theater was superb, and we could feel our seats vibrate during some of the extremely intense scenes. Finally, we each got ourselves a treat before heading home. Thomas chose some Oreo ice cream and I got a Starbucks drink. Yummy!

All throughout the day we have been looking at the time, trying to remember what portion of the day was unfolding excatly 6 years ago. It is fun to remember the emotions of our wedding day, being so full of joy and the wonderful anticipation of embarking on our life together in matrimony. Oddly enough, those same feelings are present today, just slightly altered: joyful of our years of marriage already unveiled and wonderfully anticipating our second child! I wonder what the next 6 years have in store!

My Boys

my boys

Those two guys melt my heart! I can’t wait until I can add one more male face into the mix in the form of Wesley! What a blessed woman I am.

On a side note, we got some stickers randomly in the mail yesterday.  I just hope Daniel does not decide to put stickers on Wesley like he does to himself:sticker boy

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