today

May 1, 2016

it is SUCH a beautiful day!

i’m tucked on our back patio, fresh wind is blowing, it’s mid-70’s spring perfection. the boys are gone with their grandma so i’m breathing in deeply the air of calm and quiet. my heart is smiling.

such grace, as i walk this crazy road. so many times i’m struck by how disconnected i feel from “normal” – everyone i see, rushing along through their everyday lives, and i feel the contrast, the juxtaposition.

today, right now, it is wonderfully non-depressing. i don’t feel that weight of dark heaviness that can be a close companion.

i feel GRATEFUL – to be on day #3 post-chemo and to be feeling relatively OK! glory! and to have just one chemo treatment left!

i feel a deep sense of  being present and living *right now*; being alive, breathing deeply, being surrounded by such love.

one of the many great gifts of this journey has been the extraordinary books i’ve been able to read … learning and opening doors to healing in so many ways.  i know for sure that this healing journey for me encompasses more than just physical action steps. there is this deeper current, of rest and meditation and grace and forgiveness … that is linked to healing and ultimately to the vision i see of myself stronger and healthier and standing more firmly in the vision of the life GOD has for me. for my people.

it is energizing, the possibilities and the hope that exist … even in this dark tunnel, i sense this extraordinary coalescing, of a million pieces that overwhelm me at times yet i see and feel the change happening … the newness and a beauty around the bend. the way that i’ll know this was a catalyst for something bigger and better.

i realize as i write these words that the dark ache of physical side effects isn’t crippling my vision, today. the last round of side effects (after treatment number 4) were so difficult. and it felt like it would never get better. isn’t it so like that, when we are hurting? yet, it lifted. i felt better and better … and dreaded going in to chemo day #5 last week so much as i felt i couldn’t bear walking through that again.

during my routine visit with my sweet oncologist the day before chemo, we strategized about nausea prevention. i’m so hopeful that our ideas and my implementation will keep it at bay. her physical exam during my appointment revealed that there is literally no evidence of any lymph node tumor in my left armpit, and my breast looks completely unremarkable and normal- no mass, no redness, no initial symptoms. yay! my labs remain good.  we talked ahead to next steps which felt good, again seeing light at the end of this chemo tunnel. i will have a breast MRI 2 weeks post-chemo and will take those results to consult with the extraordinary surgeon at UCSF. her consultation will advise the advice of my local surgeon and we’ll come up with a plan.

 

“O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.

O LORD, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit.

… weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.

O LORD my God, i will give you thanks forever.”

psalm 30

 

 

 

 

i’ve been thinking tonight about the months leading up to my diagnosis and the ways that my body was speaking to me; the different ways that i knew i wasn’t well and that something was amiss.

one piece that surfaced repeatedly was a queasy, sour stomach. i remember on my 40th birthday (june 12), the entire morning just not feeling super good, and not even wanting my coffee. i remember memorial day weekend when family was in town, and i was driving to meet them at a winery and was fighting overwhelming nausea. it didn’t make sense.

over those same months – spring and summer – i was gaining weight inexplicably. i was exercising as normal, and me and 2 other girlfriends were texting daily for exercise and eating accountability.  yet my scale continued to move up. it didn’t make sense.

i tried a couple cleansing eating strategies that i’ve tried in the past – one in late february – and it budged the scale a bit but not significantly. i ordered books on juice cleansing and reached out to a local friend about it. i shared with my hubby that if i had a few extra hundred dollars, i’d buy a fancy cleansing kit.

i knew i needed to do something. i just didn’t know why.

i even went to the doctor in early july. ironically, it was the same doctor i saw a few months later who completely missed my breast cancer. in july and in response to my symptoms, she prescribed an antacid or antinausea of some kind.

((the picture of medical practice that i deplore: prescribe a medication based on a symptom and *totally ignore seeking to understand what is causing the symptom*)).

also, for quite some time i had what i thought were pains related to a hiatal hernia …always in my upper chest, usually after running.

what i know now is that these are pieces of a puzzle in which my body was speaking to me and i just didn’t hear what it was saying.

the role of insulin, and blood sugar, and elevated and frequently erratic blood sugar levels … those can be huge pieces of disease progression. my body was likely in a very inflamed state, and my pancreas was working very hard.

interestingly, when i saw diane taudvin last december, her diagnostic tools registered that the area of concern was my pancreas. it didn’t make sense at the time. but now, months in to the most intensive research of my life, i am seeing a connection … and seeing clearly the tools to implement as i heal.

my extraordinary integrated oncologist has maintained the deep importance of monitoring blood sugar, managing the insulin/glucose piece and notably, daily and regular fasting. she advises fasting daily for 13 hours: ie, stop eating at 7pm and do not eat again until 8am (she notes the correlation between this practice and breast cancer recurrence).

further, she advises weekly fasting called intermittent fasting. there is a wealth of resources available about this. upon completion of all my conventional treatment, i will fast weekly … after eating dinner, the following day i will skip breakfast and lunch.

for healing and health – totally doable. not a big deal.

i’m having a little flashback as i type this: in 2009, i went through a healing crisis that felt very dark. in my desperation to be well, i implemented radical changes in my lifestyle and notably in my eating. i did not care about losing weight, i wanted to be well. yet, the weight came off.

last spring, i told my closest girlfriends this: that when my goal is healing and not “weight loss”, my body loses weight.

it’s the byproduct of health and healing for me, not the goal.

and as i sit here now, i am struck: that’s my story again. the weight has been coming off in spades, yet my eyes are on the big picture. my priorities have shifted dramatically from last spring, when i wanted to cleanse or do something to stop the weight from climbing up yet not knowing the deeper underlying piece to guide my healing.

today, i choose to feed and fuel and supplement and equip my body to be the strongest, healthiest that it has ever been!

 

 

a little vent

April 8, 2016

so, the interesting part about walking through cancer and chemo and pretty intense lifestyle changes and *healing* while having little children is that rest and space and solitude and quiet are pretty elusive. many days, i battle my internal dialogue which can lean toward complaining as i face the overwhelm of just *normal daily living with 2 small boys and a daughter in high school. life continues quickly moves on. laundry piles up, meals must be served, errands and bills and learning and playing all continue.

and my boys being boys, their energy is without limits, and they need constant line of sight supervision as happy play can turn violent in .2 seconds. there are screams and eruptions and hollers for “mama!” constantly. and parenting a teen is a challenge and gift and takes heart and mind and focus and so much more.

and truly, it’s all good. these children are GIFTS; answers to much prayer and the givers of the sweetest love and happiness to my heart, a million times a day. so i wouldn’t trade any of this.

but the real deal is that the days can be hard. today is the day after chemo. my body feels toxic and stuck and achy and my head feels foggy. i want to curl in a ball. but more than that, i want to feel well and heal and so there are a number of steps i am taking in that direction. steps i must take no matter all that swirls around me.

so today, my girl is in bed with bad allergies, hubby is working round-the-clock preparing for a national event in 2 weeks, and i am “on” with my boys. and wishing for quiet, for solitude, for space … trying not to look ahead over the next week when i typically am hit hardest with side effects and the energy and stamina i’ll need.

i am learning to let some things go; to be ok with more TV time, to allow messes to not totally stress me out, to just lower my expectations for myself in areas that aren’t essential. it is hard. and another upside: the boys’ social calendar has increased tremendously since entering this season! ha ha. but really, we are so blessed with amazing friends, and the boys’ great grandparents, that have them come over for a few hours at a time … and it is such a huge gift.

one day at a time.:)

after writing the first part of this story, my mind has been *there:  in those dark heavy weeks. this morning, i opened my journal to see what i’d written then, and i find words and scripture and praise and desperation.

december 24, 2015

counting the blessings in the wait … as the wait feels suffocating at times and the worry overwhelming.

“she is clothed with strength and dignity; she laughs without fear of the future.”

remembering this verse and seeing it on the wall, beautifully written by my maddie.

LAUGHS WITHOUT FEAR

oh, that this was me! joyful, expectant, alive and healthy.

known and loved.

sipping my tulsi tea … watching my boys run and build …

*looking forward to an evening of joy, laughter, love & wine at grandma’s — christmas eve tradition. gift exchange & h’ors doerves – yes!

*hearing coughs from caleb and sneeze and sniffles from josiah, feeling a scratchy throat myself, and believing against sickies

*thankful for the texts of abundant encouragement from angie, speaking right to my fears

*the love & depth & encouragement & prayers from so many amazing women in my life

*remembering that as a mama, i can’t draw from that which i haven’t cultivated and invested in me; i can’t encourage with God’s truth, wisdom from scripture, insight & truth – unless i’ve read and studied and walked. out of the heart comes our words & actions … grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Immanuel: God with us.

He sees us.

He sees me.

December 30, 2015

Over 2 weeks in the dark unknown … i wake queasy & tearful, holding and snuggling close to my babies, breathing them in as my heart squeaks my first desperate prayer for the day: LORD, give me length of days with my loves. please.

like the woman who reached in desperation for Jesus’ robe … believing He would heal … I reach.

i grab.

i believe.

 

the whole story part 1

March 24, 2016

((the words haven’t come as they normally do, yet i am determined to press ahead and grab for the words because i think the telling of this is needful and it’s time …))

it was last fall … early november, perhaps, and i noticed firm swollen lumps in my left armpit. we’d battled a little bug around that time so i assumed it was related to that, some lingering of an infection. a few weeks passed and the hard firm mass wasn’t budging, so i texted a dear girlfriend who is a local md. we texted about related symptoms and surmised it was likely a function of years of nursing – perhaps mastitis or something similar. i remember the day we shared these texts – it was a sunny fall day, sunday of thanksgiving weekend, and the boys and i met my mom at hawthorne park to play. my friend and i agreed it made sense to see a doctor to check it out.

i don’t have a regular local doctor that i see other than my ob/gyn for having babies:) but i have been to a local clinic rarely for an infection or some urgent illness. i made an appt to see a female general practitioner on friday, dec 4. she did a very thorough exam of both breasts, noting that my right breast seemed more dense than the left. there was nothing unusual or concerning in the appearance of either breast. she said she doubted the lumps i felt in my left breast were even lymph nodes, more likely a milk duct. she gave me the option of having an ultrasound of the lumps “if it would make you feel better” or just coming back in 6 weeks.

i opted for the ultrasound.

december 15th came with the excitement of my hubby’s arrival home from a quick trip to portland. we took maddie to school and came home, excitedly getting dressed and ready to go to the airport to get daddy. the boys love this adventure, and so do i:) his flight arrived around 10:30 and there were big hugs! as we drove out of the aiport, i told hubby that we first needed to head to my ulrasound appointment – likely a quick detour before moving onto something fun like lunch out together.

My guys dropped me off and i waited and was quickly called back for the ultrasound. the technician was tall, with curly blond hair and a warm, professional manner. i lay back and followed her direction to lift my left arm.there was small talk and quiet, and then the details become blurry for me. i know that she left and returned to say that the radiologist wanted me to get a mammogram.these are offered on site, but i’d never had one before – been waiting to be completely finished nursing, and had just turned 40. i agreed to have one that day.

i was sent to another room and then in to the mammography room, with a very friendly gal who made it far less stressful than it could have been.

my next memory of this horrific day is of sitting in one of the tiny cubicles, waiting, alone.

being told that the radiologist wanted another ultrasound.

and then another mammogram.

i sent panicked texts to my hubby and 2 girlfriends. all offered to come join me so i wouldn’t be alone. i felt like i was going to be sick; the panic was intensifying with each passing minute and each added test. my world was spinning.

finally, the ultrasound tech said that the radiologist wanted to talk with me. she walked me back to an office – a big room – with computer screens open and his words, “your case is a complicated one.”

i remember answering, “i don’t want to be complicated.”

i didn’t want this nightmare that was unfolding before me. i wanted to rewind time, to join my guys, to go out to lunch, to have NORMAL.

i asked to record what he was going to say and listened as he pointed out and narrated  what he was seeing on the images … skin thickening … abnormal lymph nodes … mass … lymphoma or just inflammation … “something isn’t right.”

my mind was spinning and i wanted to be clear  about what to do next. who should i follow up with? what was my next step? he’d be writing up report and referring to local surgeon for consult to advise next step to do multiple concerns – what to biopsy first, for instance.

i walked out to my boys waiting in the parking lot and dissolved in sobs. i looked up and saw my friend tina walking past our car and our eyes met.

thus began the Long Wait. I was referred to a local surgeon (recommended by dear medical friend). his soonest appointment was december 31. for a *consult about next steps.

i have no formula or way to describe the living out of those long dark days. they were dark. i fought overwhelming suffocating fear. i researched endlessly. mostly that would trigger anxiety that threatened to take my breath away. i shared with many of my dear kindred friends and was lifted by their encouragement, their perspectives, their HOPE. my hubby was a ROCK, repeatedly assuring me that i was going to be fine. that we were in this together.

and each morning, i called the surgeon, hoping for a cancelation. one never came.

the holiday season descended, gatherings happened.

i should note that the week of my ultrasound, that week my left breast began to look and feel noticeably different. a puckering was happening on the underside; redness and a heaviness that was noticeably different from my right breast. there wasn’t ever a solid typical lump but it was clearly heavy and firm across a large section. the swollen lump(s) in my left armpit held steady. i did find that hot showers and massage seemed to help them shrink somewhat.

during the wait, i knew i had to take the steps i could take and be proactive in ways that resonated as valuable. i wrote this on an index card i looked at daily: “TOOLS: Daily Run/Arm Yoga;  No sugar/No gluten; Daily Hot Shower; Heat Compress; Supplements.” these were healing steps that felt empowering during those dark days.

i had to (mostly) decide to not consult dr. google. because that always brought me to a dark place.

my dear friend, shawnna, had returned in november from a move out west. when i learned of her arrival, and their family’s plan to return back out west late spring, my intuition was clear: GOD knew i would need her close for a rough season … but then i would heal, and she would fly again. i *knew it. she has been an angel of real healing and life and insight and mentoring and a deep sharing of the darkest hard, and here she was … just in time. i knew.

during this waiting space, i remembered a practioner of an alternative medicine that, through her “strange tools” had managed years before to completely accurately assess maddie’s food allergies. i decided to make an appointment with her, to see if she could uncover any piece of the current picture in my body.

i went to her office the week before christmas, sat in her chair and held instruments and she did her tests and assessments. her initial tests for cancer in the breast area came up negative and i could feel myself exhale. she continued on for some time, all the while making suggestions that in retrospect, didn’t make sense. at the end, we were discussing a summary of her findings and then i heard her say, “there was something.” HUH? my stomach dropped. yes, she said … she initially didn’t see anything but then, something registered in the area of the pancreas. there was an indication that “something is going on, could be a malignancy, could be a virus …” She reiterated that she didn’t see the picture of someone out of wack but rather, that something is going on and that it is going to a rough few months but i am strong and well and will be fine.

i knew her words to be true. something was wrong. and i would be fine.

on my drive to her appointment that day, i had stopped to get a notepad to take notes. when i got home, i titled the notebook, “Healing 2016.” even from 2015, i knew that the next year would be my year to heal.

during those dark waiting days, i had a very clear message in my spirit that i knew to be true and real and believe the Father gave me,”You are well.”  i wrote that that and received it.

finally, december 31 arrived and i was sick nervous. hubby and i went to the surgeon’s office. the waiting room was bathed in sunlight and really warm; hubby fought off dozing. i ran in to a friend whose young daughter had battled cancer. amazing, the gift of these run in’s that encourage me even in the chaos.

the appointment was a pretty basic consultation. he did an exam and got some background. i was hoping of course for some information – something! – but there was none really to offer. he said that there are calcifications in the right breast that are clumped – could be fine or pre-cancerous. in the left, 2 (?) lumps … he said the first step would be to biopsy to see what is – it’s the only way to know for sure.

my biopsy’s were set for the following wednesday at 9:45.

more waiting.

truthfully, i dread even walking through the memories of biopsy day because it was so painful and difficult. it still feels raw.

alas … we dropped the boys off at lori’s and went to the same place i’d been december 15, for the ultrasounds/mammograms. i checked in and went first for my stereotactic biopsy of my right breast. it was awkward physically and painful but definitely manageable, and the nurse/tech was SO kind and tender i felt such comfort.

next was the left, ultrasound-guided biopsy. i lay on my back, lifting my left arm, and the horror began. in retrospect, and even after it was done that day, we realized that the incredible inflammation of my left breast was likely the reason for the excruciating pain and bleeding during the biopsy. i remember one moment where both the dr and tech were looking at images on the screen of my left breast and the dr commented that the masses “look more cystic today” so he said he was going to attempt to drain them. i felt hopeful – cysts! however, he was after much pressing and prodding and poking, unable to drain. i was bleeding heavily by then. he still needed to get biopsy samples from my left nodes. the pain mounted as i tried to remain still in an uncomfortable position and my breast bled. finally, it was over. i felt the urge to throw up and the sweet tech had me sit and sip some water. she then said i needed to have another mammogram of the very breast they had just battered. i was able to do one and then said i simply could not and would not do more. i was crying.

i left there after many hours, drained, hurting and spent. thankfully, my guy brought me home and tucked me in bed.

i’d been told i would likely hear from  the surgeon within 2-3 days. the biopsy’s were wednesday and i felt i’d get the call friday.

i took the boys to the park friday late-morning … the sun was out, the fresh air felt great it felt great to move and breathe. and pray.

at 4:41 pm a call came from an unknown caller. i knew. i took my phone in my room, closed the door, and answered.

it was dr. faught. i remember hearing him say that the right breast was fine, all benign. then i heard “tumor”, “same tumor in left breast and lymph nodes.” i don’t remember anything else. he offered to have us come in monday morning to meet in person and talk through this. he said he was sorry.

there was pounding at my bedroom door. maddie was calling out that we were late, we needed to leave right now for an overnight youth retreat she was attending.

i motioned hubby in. my look told him. we hugged so tight. i felt dizzy. and i had to put my game face on, because it was time to load the family in the van and take maddie. i would say nothing yet, would not burden her with this … yet.

 

neighborly

November 14, 2015

my heart is swelling with gratitude as i sit down to write on this saturday afternoon. our neighbors, aka the professional neighbors, just stopped by. they are moving in a few weeks (he is in the military, getting transferred) and they stopped by to give us an early holiday gift – gift card to a local grocery store and a homemade ornament.

i really just can’t even put in words the way my jaw is dropping at their incredible kindness.

(and how GOD blesses us in so many ways large and small!)

this couple is in their mid-30s, no kids, and the complete embodiment of neighborly. almost every night (unless it’s snowing), they can be found on their front patio, drink in hand. they eagerly engage anyone that walks by and always welcome a visitor. they’ve stopped by many a time and i get (sometimes slowly and begrudgingly unfortunately) drawn in to a conversation and shift gears to just visiting.

we joke that they are “professional neighbors” because they always bring a gift or token of holiday cheer, before i’ve even given thought to perhaps baking a loaf of something sweet to share. and we laughed last year as i finally, proudly, prepared a tray of treats to bring them over the holidays and literally right before i did it, the hubby showed up with this *ginormous* platter of goodness. lol. they just can’t be beat.

they love to party hard and have profused thankfulness that we’ve “put up” with their noise, which makes me laugh because THEY have put up with all kids of noise emanating from the walls of this home … surely more than the occasional loud music during a weekend gathering that may come from their home.

it’s all good.

and i am feeling challenged today as i think about that picture of hospitality and welcome that they embody and that i often lose in the hustle of keeping up with my daily grind. they remind me to stop and welcome the conversation. to linger on the front porch and really get to know our neighbors.

i am really going to miss them.

(i keep procrastinating on writing this – i know i *need to and will be so glad to have this written record, but it feels so daunting. today, as the boys rest, i am determined to capture what i can … before another month passes)

our precious “baby caleb” turned 3 september 24 – how is that even possible?? he was so excited for his “birthday party” which literally included our  immediatefamily and my mom who stopped by after work … singing to him, blowing out candles on his cake and opening a few gifts. he was THRILLED! (oh the relief of letting go of insane pressure for some effortful party).  he was just HAPPY. he was glad to tell anyone that it was his birthday and he was 3 years old!

he wanted a PINK cake with a number 3 candle :0

he wanted a PINK cake with a number 3 candle :0

opening lego duplos from my mom :)

opening lego duplos from my mom:)

he had to put this on immediately ;)

he had to put this on immediately😉

great grandma stopped by late afternoon and brought some classic dr. seuss books for caleb ... i love her expression as she watches hubby read one of the books

great grandma stopped by late afternoon and brought some classic dr. seuss books for caleb … i love her expression as she watches hubby read one of the books

caleb adores drawing and writing and many times a day will sit with a pen and paper and draw … people, shapes, or “letters”. (josiah has never initiated drawing or writing like this and when we do a painting project, josiah races to see who can fill up their entire page first … while caleb slowly paints something specific). caleb has great precision and fine motor skills … detailed, small, precise. he loves worksheet projects that involve circling matching objects, tracing, counting.

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OH, counting how we love you! these boys are nonstop counters. everything is counted. so wonderful. ( i love that all of life is really truly learning! joyfully, fully, my heart soars as days are spent really learning with these incredible curious little loves).

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our josiah is 4 1/2 exactly, and is an amazing reader! amazing. he’s been reading familiar books and showing some basic understanding for many months but we are now working steadily through a phonics book and he is impatient, pressing to speed ahead, eager to read the bigger longer words and stories. he now sounds out and can read new books that have unfamiliar words and story lines. he sounds out signs on the road as we drive; he often asks to help me read stories and follows the words or asks where a particular word is. he can completely read a basic story with uncomplicated sounds – like a champ! he LOVES it.

caleb loves to follow in big brother’s steps and is always imitating and especially with reading, caleb always wants to do just as josiah does. so, we take the extra time *wink* and remind josiah how to help and lead even as he protests caleb copying. however, if caleb misses a word or doesn’t point out the right word as he reads, josiah cannot tolerate it – must be done correctly. so, we correct. and caleb wants to do it right and will ask, ‘was that right, mama?’

the boys are very competitive but josiah *must be first: up the stairs (every trip), to open the front door (every return home), to count the cars/trees/numbers etc; to finish or start something; to get dressed or undressed, to be served his food. etc.:)

in the past couple weeks, they’ve started praying spontaneously and my heart is so blessed. the other night, josiah asked if he could “pray to GOD” and led our family in a prayer of such precious thanks.  his cadence and words are so precious literally like a little pastor, “oh dear LORD! we thank you,” he will say mid-prayer. we talk a lot about prayer as they are so interested – in the miracle that *GOD hears us* (!), that He loves us, that we get to thank Him for the blessings showering us in this life. the other night after he prayed, josiah asked hubby to pray … just precious, pure faith.

a huge milestone and joyful relief has been their transition to “bible study preschool.” finally the timing is right for me to join a morning  mama’s study and this one offers a preschool-like morning program for the boys – it’s incredible. it’s not babysitting but is a structured program with projects and pledge of allegiance and snack and craft and lesson etc etc. the first couple of weeks were *rough. that’s really an understatement: both boys sobbed hysterically when i finally left them the first week and i crouched on the floor of the ladies’ room down the long hall, sweating and anxious, unsure if i could really leave them. the staff were amazing and assured me that if needed, they’d find me. and they didn’t. the boys survived. week 2 was hard – almost as hard … but subsequent weeks have just gotten completely better. josiah is now SUPER EXCITED and counts down the days til thursday (both boys finally memorized days of the week in order this week!) and extols how much he LOVES bible study preschool! caleb is getting on board and is slower to jump in to it but no longer gets tearful and is clearly motivated by following brave big brother’s example. HOORAY x a thousand!

they loved this lining up, holding the rope, going outside process :)

they loved this lining up, holding the rope, going outside process:)

life is now pretty much all about super heroes and legos! they are obsessed and drawn to all the super heroes and the highest motivating statement is to tell them they will be my superhero if they achieve XYZ task. their favorite clothing picks are always the superman, spiderman, batman shirts & shoes.

they have knock down, drag out fights about *imagined and non real* scenarios. minutes before writing these words, we were driving and the boys began to escalate. when i asked what was happening, josiah told me that caleb “took my super power and he won’t give it back!” yelling and gnashing of teeth. caleb then says he will give the super power back “if josiah will say sorry for saying mean words.” and on and on.

and on. lol.

and, legos. wow. it’s like we’ve entered an entire world that was totally foreign to me. they have a big container of lego duplos and literally play with that more than any other thing every day and have for weeks (months?). they delight in building the biggest coolest creation. the challenge is always the process of having to dissassemble somebody’s cool creation in order to build something else *wink*. josiah has some lego juniors and those have started to be almost more interesting to both boys, so i can see expanding that collection soon.

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when we drive, the boys always ‘claim’ passing vehicles – well, trucks, that is. always trucks and construction vehicles. it became so intense that we created a rule that whoever’s side the vehicle is on, gets that one … and often, they will agree to allow their brother to ride with them. (josiah will quickly and automatically always say the very exact same words: ‘i want that dump truck and drive it only’ in a low voice after loudly claiming said truck:) )

they’ve had their big boy beds for a few months and are firmly established with them, except that they both still wake during the night and get in our bed. (!). naptimes are getting trickier only because of 2 things: 1 – i *NEED* that pocket of silence and no little people in my space for a tiny bit of time each day and 2 – josiah no longer naps. lol. so, for now … we go upstairs around 1 pm (lunch then 1 cartoon then “cuddle rest”) read 1 book, then i rock cuddle caleb while josiah lays on his bed. we have some books on tape that are LIFESAVERS! (called, “tell me a story” they are these brilliantly told classics …  challenging words and the storyteller is masterful). they are one hour long so josiah’s job is always to push play on the story, lay in his bed …then once i’ve laid a sleeping caleb in his bed, the rule is: josiah must remain quietly in his bed until the stories end. then he may have the holy grail: coming downstairs, lol. here’s the funny thing: we repeat this rule and process every nap time as i leave their room and yet and still, when the stories end he always calls out loudly, “the story is over!!’ and WAITS until i come to base of the stairs and say, “you can come down now!” to come down. my boy. rules rules rules.:)

they love riding bikes and we are so blessed with our large covered front “porch area” that allows me to sit at our little outdoor table and watch them ride in circles. caleb is still on a trike and yet prefers riding josiah’s big boy bike so it’s about time to get caleb a bike, too.

caleb loves all things balls … throwing still all the balls … running super fast … drawing …

josiah loves him some “samsung” time and has amassed a large and ever-changing assortment of games – preferring racing cars and trucks, tanks that shoot fire rockets (he still doesn’t know the word ‘gun’ and says ‘fire sprooter’), lego games and anything that has a blasting rocket. he also loves watching donald duck cartoons on the samsung. he could and does at times get lost in this device and it has been helpful to ease a moment of intense itching or distress, for instance. caleb is not that interested and loses interest much more quickly in any hand held device.

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both boys loves cartoons (jake and the neverland pirates is current fave; also, wallykazam, paw patrol, olivia, blaze and the monster machines). if cartoons are on, both boys (especially josiah) is glued to watching (which can be fabulous, let’s be honest). josiah actually can’t tolerate *not watching if it’s on and has asked that cartoons be turned *off if he wants to do something else. we usually watch a show first thing in the morning, after lunch and maybe later as needed:)

we have continued our daily jobs and i am so thankful for this rhythm that the boys know to be a part of every day (clean room, get dressed, brush teeth, clean bathroom, take cod liver oil).

on monday, we often go to library story time … thursday is bible study preschool … friday has become science project day … and every day is learning! i am so thankful for a cabinet full of incredible resources, books, projects, and learning tools. most days, we spend a chunk of time at the table diving in to something mid-morning. we often do an outing a couple days a week (kidtime, errands, a park, time with friends). i am finding that happy place between a very tight schedule and none at all. i’ve swung in both directions and am learning grace for the needed flexibility (ie, josiah’s morning wake time varies so having  a set breakfast time with expectations around that was not working or needed). i am also truly embracing being HOME so much more … truly diving in to the tasks i am blessed with as a manager of this home, finding ways to deep clean in a blitz, including boys on much, keeping rhythms that keep order (ie, always tidying up before we leave the house – so much better to come home to order!). none of these things are necessarily natural for me as i tend toward spontaneity, flexibility, the next wonderful thing (wink) but i am experiencing the gratitude of self discipline as pursue goals of consistency of train my kids toward that as well. oh, how parenting refines!

library story time craft

library story time craft

“mama, i wish i could go on an airplane!” (caleb). josiah’s response, “me too! i want to fly to the york and see taylor. she’s my favorite girl.” (that is, new york! and taylor swift. lol)

they are really totally actually playing together … at times, for pockets of even 10 minutes without screaming and fighting. their most common activity these days is playing mama and baby – caleb is always the mama and josiah is the baby. and the way that caleb mothers him is SO stinking precious! i will overhear him saying, in this precious little voice, “it’s ok, baby! mama’s right here. i love you so much, baby.” and josiah plays the baby part brilliantly.

i would be remiss to not mention that most every day (some days, a few times) the boys jubilantly strip to completely naked and run through the house, squealing with exhilaration. we are re-learning and reinforcing the rules about our private parts and contact and all that and also, let’s be honest … i’m new to this boy thing and they are pretty much obsessed with their boy parts. some days it wanes but it’s always fascinating. oy.

every child is a gift and so precious and unique; that being said, and i can say this  and those that know josiah will know just what i mean: there is something special about this boy. there is a sensitivity, an intensity, at times a rigidity about his nature that is unlike many children.

he has my heart - he IS my heart

he has my heart – he IS my heart

i love the way that GOD knit our little family together, giving josiah a brother who will multiple countless times each day, give him the chance to grow his capacity to manage frustration and tolerate interruption and upending and derailment and often, violence. so many opportunities to grow! *wink* and in the meantime, so many opportunities for screaming in our home. our josiah struggles with loud screaming as an immediate reaction to frustration.

this dispositional picture is just the very opposite for caleb, who is a more “typical child” (although i cringe at that generalization) – he manages frustration (albeit with swift strokes of violence at times, lol), can pretty  much go with the flow, adapt to changing environs, eat and carry on with relative little angst.

there is, however, a tenderness shared and evidence in both boys that is breath-taking. a desire to reach out with spontaneous gestures of precious love and affection; a noticing of when mama may be losing her cool (yup, it happens and it is particularly distressing to josiah who will notice even a slight inflection in my voice and immediately hug me and say, “i love you so much, mama” or, “please don’t use mean words mama”. heart breaker).

speaking of tenderness, caleb and i have a little tradition: after every bath (he loves baths; for josiah, they are more challenging with his skin so less frequent) i wrap him the very same way in a towel, hold him in my arms like a little baby, and he stares up in my eyes …  we share this love-fest that we both remember and our eyes smile and he beams as i eat him up with kisses and love.

i carry this deep sense of wonder and gratitude at the GIFT of spending my days with these boys … so many mundane moments making up our days that are quickly becoming months and years.

there is no place i’d rather be.

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they *always chase hubby on this lawn at the bank (they love going to the bank, ha!)

they *always chase hubby on this lawn at the bank (they love going to the bank, ha!)

it was time to really finally cut some of caleb's amazing growing curls. SO bittersweet.

it was time to really finally cut some of caleb’s amazing growing curls. SO bittersweet.

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haircut after

caught this spontaneous kiss :)

caught this spontaneous kiss:)

that smile!

that smile!

my little gladiator ... this smile and expression is SO him!

my little gladiator … this smile and expression is SO him!

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