Good Job Taking That Bite!

Good Job Taking That Bite!

I imagine there are two groups of people who use the word “bite” on a regular basis: 1) Vampires. 2) My family. 

We’re not vampires, if you’re wondering. (Or are we?) But bites are as essential to our daily lives as breathing these days. You might remember that Josh recently finished a feeding program at the Marcus Autism Center – the main purpose was to make him fatter, taller, and more inclined to eat food. We learned a ton about Josh and the way he chews, swallows, and smiles after misbehaving during this eight-week program at Marcus. 

But, as the youths say, the party didn’t stop there. After graduating the program, Josh could only continue to succeed and gain weight if we kept up the program at home. I think most people know that we do this. And since sharing is caring, I thought you might be interested to know what exactly that means for our daily lives. If you’re not interested, here’s a picture of a cat with a mustache: 

Cat

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The Day(s) My Marriage Ended

The Day(s) My Marriage Ended

I married my husband, Daniel, on a warm spring day in 2011. Actually, since we were married March 19th, it was still technically winter. But a Georgia winter, meaning it was 65 degrees and sunny.

It was a beautiful day. My father-in-law performed the ceremony, and that day still goes down as one of the most fun of my life. We danced to all the wedding cliches, had enough candy to feed a medium-sized village, and even broke out into a flash mob at one point. It was perfect.

And then real life began. Ours, like so many young couples’, began with a joy all newlyweds have: The joy of lying. Not big lies. Not like you forgot to tell them you’re wanted in five states. But little, easy lies, like, “This dinner is delicious!” or “I definitely like this painting.” I used to sneak out of bed in the morning and brush my teeth before Daniel woke up so he would think my morning breath was naturally minty-fresh. You’re welcome for that free tip, humanity. We wanted to make each other happy, so we were willing to overlook towels on the floor or accidentally-destroyed projects (I’m still really sorry, Daniel). We made the extra effort because it was worth it.

We had been married for a year-and-a-half when we found out we were expecting our first baby. We were thrilled! As you probably know, our firstborn arrived a bit less traditionally than the average bear.

And that’s when our marriage ended the first time.

Gone were the days where our biggest worries were over whether to order pizza or go out for dinner instead. I didn’t get enough sleep to even think about waking up early to brush my teeth and sneak back into bed. Towels on the floor became just one more nuisance on a never-ending list I kept tabs on in my head.

Joshua needed our constant attention. After four months in the NICU, he came home to therapies, specialists, oxygen tubes, apnea monitors, and more. As time went on, the needs changed, but the stress of having a special-needs child didn’t.

You want to know one of the truths about having a kid with special needs? It kills your marriage. Kills it. We were both still there, still married, but the marriage we had known was gone forever. In its place was something almost unrecognizable. And it was getting worse every day.

I’ve said before that having a child like Josh changed me. In so many ways, it changed me for the better. It made me more compassionate, and more understanding of the struggles of others, and opened my eyes to an entirely new world.

In some ways, though, the changes weren’t as great. These were the changes that were the hardest to resist. I was so angry at God for allowing Joshua to have so many issues. I was angry at myself for not realizing something was wrong sooner in my pregnancy. I was angry at everyone around me. And while throughout the day, I made an effort to at least smile at other people, by the time I got home from the hospital or new specialist or therapy session, I decided I had given all I could. I couldn’t possibly deal with one more thing. And I took it out on Daniel.

Every forgotten task, every misunderstood conversation, every dish I washed alone – I kept track of it all. I knew how many times I had done the laundry and how many times Daniel hadn’t. Sure, he was working all day, but I was busy with the baby. It wasn’t fair. That’s what I kept repeating to myself. It wasn’t fair. I was a stay-at-home mom, but not by choice. I had never asked for this. I wasn’t even sure I wanted it for a long time. But then it arrived and was so much harder than I expected. And I knew I wasn’t up to the challenge. And not being up to the challenge made me defensive. And being defensive made me resentful. And being resentful made me bitter. And all of that culminated in my marriage slowly dissolving into two bickering parents who didn’t know how to stop arguing.

No one is ever 100% innocent in these kinds of things. But I will be honest and tell you that a lot of this was on me. Daniel tried his best to help me, but I didn’t want his help. And then I got angry at him for not helping me. And then he tried to help me again, and obviously that meant he thought I wasn’t doing a good enough job, and then I was angry again. And then he didn’t help, and how dare he not help me? It was a vicious cycle.

We went on like this for a few years. We had our daughter, Jenna, just 15 months after Josh was born. Daniel worked full-time, and I worked part-time for a while, eventually moving to a full-time position where I worked from home. We had two kids under the age of two, hectic jobs, financial struggles, and so many appointments to go to. Life was busy. Too busy. Jenna was a fussy newborn. Josh didn’t walk until Jenna was almost a year old. There was no rest, no time for our marriage anymore. Even if we had wanted to work on it, there was simply no time.

Same people. Different marriage.

And then one day, Daniel and I had a big argument. (I’m not trying to air our dirty laundry or anything, and I asked Daniel if he was okay with me writing this. Just want to put full disclosure out there.) It was bad. I was so angry and so tired. Josh had started an intense feeding therapy program. Daniel was dealing with some (thankfully resolved!) health issues. It was stressful. And we argued, and then I shouted that I wanted a divorce.

It wasn’t true. I didn’t want a divorce. I was so tired, so angry and bitter, and I just decided to say it, to goad my husband into arguing with me. But he didn’t argue. Instead, we sat in silence for a while. I knew I should apologize. But I wouldn’t. I didn’t.

I thought that I was already so broken that nothing could touch me anymore. But I was wrong. The look on Daniel’s face when I said those words to him made me feel like I had shattered all over again, like the day Josh was born, and all the days after when we heard more bad news. And so I made a choice.

I decided to try to let the little things go.

It was hard at first, and is still a struggle for me, if I’m being perfectly honest. But my goal was to stop looking for ways to blame Daniel, and instead look at the ways he loved me and showed me his love every day. I decided to think about his intent – did he not take the garbage out just to make my day harder? Probably not. Probably he had just come home from a really hard day at work and it slipped his mind while he was helping me with the dishes or feeding the kids. Probably I could just remind him, or even do it myself. And then we wouldn’t have to fight. Things didn’t have to turn into an argument every time one of us made a little mistake.

My other goal was to get to back to reading my Bible every day. That isn’t meant to sound self-righteous; I just knew I needed to hear what God had to say instead of screaming my own words at Him. As we say in this house, it was no longer my turn.

So I started working on my goals. And I’ve messed up so many times. But it’s been getting easier and easier.

And that’s how my marriage ended the second time.

Same people. Different marriage.

Slowly but surely, the arguments grew to be less frequent. We sought ways to work together instead of ways to blame each other for the stresses in our life. Our other situations didn’t change. Josh still had a lot of needs and was a lot of work. We still had two very little kids and very little time for ourselves and our marriage. Those things wouldn’t change. But we could. We did.

When I first decided to write about this, I was hesitant. I didn’t want to paint Daniel in a bad light, because he is a wonderful, godly man, who married a slightly crazy, super short woman. I didn’t want people to judge us. I didn’t want to come across as having so many struggles.

But I don’t think we’re alone in these struggles. Even if you don’t have a kid with special needs, your marriage has likely hit a rough patch. If it hasn’t, please submit yourself for testing at the nearest health facility, because you might be a robot.

And if you do have a kid with special needs, and your marriage is struggling, and you’re not sure how you will possibly make it through one more day of therapy, and leg braces, and helmets, and practicing stairs, and giving choices, and being a constant cheerleader and advocate for your child so they never have to feel different – it’s going to be okay. Things might not change. But you can.

Same people. Three different marriages. And we would never change a day.

D and K

The Day I (Almost) Stole From Target

The Day I (Almost) Stole From Target

Hollaback if you love Target. I know you do. Don’t be ashamed. I love Target so much that my kids ask if we’re going there on a regular basis. Target and “Cheekin Feel A” are our two favorite ways to spend an afternoon in this family. Except for Daniel, who insists on going to work and providing for us. Whatever.

So last week, Jenna and I went on our daily weekly pilgrimage to Target. Since she is a “beeg guhl” now, she will no longer deign to ride inside the cart (You guys know how I feel about the Target carts anyway). Which is mostly…fine. I mean, I used to go through Target without running after a tiny giggling maniac while simultaneously dragging a loaded-down cart behind me, but I didn’t get nearly as many steps in, so it all works out.

My little helper wanted me to put everything in the bottom section of the cart, so she could add it by herself. I didn’t want to be a dream-crusher, so I said she could do that, and when she wasn’t looking, I put the items up in the main cart so I wouldn’t forget any.

If this was a musical, the soundtrack right now would be full of ominous tones.

I had to get an item from just about every section (except for the toy aisles, which I avoided like the flipping plague), and Jenna trotted faithfully behind me, occasionally playing a hilarious game where she hid from me and my heart stopped and then we all laughed and laughed. Finally, we were ready to check out.

I paid for my items, and Jenna asked to get into the cart, so we were all set to go out the door when a customer service person stopped me.

“Are there any other items I can help you purchase today?”

If you have ever worked retail, you know this line. You know it by heart. It’s the line drilled into you as the proper response if you see someone stealing from a store. There are a lot of rules about what you can and can’t say to a terrible merchandise stealer, even though they are a MERCHANDISE STEALER, and that is a standard party line. “Are there any other items I can help you purchase today?” actually means “I know that you know that I know you’re stealing, and you’re a jerk face for doing it, and I hope your stolen items all break.”

So when the customer service rep said this to me, I knew what she really wanted. She wanted me to ‘fess up about my thievery. But I had literally just paid for my items. What could the issue be?

The rep looked down at my cart. Past my bags, past my toddler, and down into – you guessed it – the lower part of the cart. On this section were the following items: Three (3) bottles of craft paint, one (1) pack of stickers, two (2) containers of peach-flavored yogurt, and one (1) boot. Yes, the one boot confused me the most, too.

Apparently I hadn’t been as diligent about watching my little shopper as I thought I had.

“Oh! I’m so sorry. My daughter was putting stuff in the cart and…” I trailed off as I realized I was blaming a two-year-old – who was currently sitting in the cart and therefore could not have possibly been grabbing things from the shelves – for what looked like outright theft.

Slowly, shamefully, I put each stolen item on the customer service shelf. I offered to put them all back, but the rep declined. Can’t say I blame her. Then Jenna waved goodbye to everyone, smiling and blowing kisses, earning more and more sympathy as she was carted away by her criminal mother.

We got into the car. I put her in the seat. “Jenna, we don’t take things from the shelves, okay? Mommy always has to pay for it at the front.”

Jenna smiled. “Okay, Mommy.” And then she laughed. And laughed. And laughed.

It’s now been four days since my last Target run. If you see me there with a fake mustache on, just keep walking. And stop Jenna before she gets to the parking lot.

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59 Thoughts Every Parent Has While Watching Thomas the Train

59 Thoughts Every Parent Has While Watching Thomas the Train

  1. This song is cute. Kind of catchy. Unless it gets stuck in my head; that would be terrible.
  2. This song is stuck in my head.
  3. So are the trains British? Or just sort of pretentious?
  4. They are British.
  5. No, that one is just pretentious.
  6. THAT one is British.
  7. Ugh, shut up, Percy.6-18733face
  8. So has anyone ever bothered to find out why these trains can talk? Can all trains talk in this world?
  9. Come to think of it, pretty much any transportation vehicle in these shows can talk.
  10. That’s sort of creepy.
  11. How big is the Island of Sodor? They keep finding new spots. Shouldn’t they have covered them all by now?
  12. Maybe they would know the island better if they actually worked their branch lines instead of sitting around chatting all day.
  13. Gordon is the worst.
  14. Seriously, why do they put up with him? Because he pulls the express? James could totally pull the express. Gordon must have dirt on Sir Toppem Hatt.
  15. Wait, are there drivers inside the trains?

    ThomasandtheBreakdownTrain8
    “Tell my family what happened.”
  16. Like a driver is inside each of these trains all day?
  17. What do they do when one of the trains decides to rescue someone from Misty Island or when they’re racing each other? Hold on and pray?
  18. They must get paid a ton of money to put up with this crap all day.
  19. I wonder how much money Thomas’ driver makes.
  20. But these trains crash every 12 minutes. They must go through dozens of drivers a week.
  21. Shut UP, Percy.
  22. Percy’s driver has it the worst.
  23. Isn’t Percy supposed to be pulling the mail cars? I bet no one on this island gets their bills on time.
  24. So the diesels can just light stuff on fire and then say sorry and everything is fine?
  25. Insight: The trains are holding the humans captive.
  26. That would explain why we rarely see the visitors that Gordon’s express supposedly pulls.
  27. Tidmouth Sheds just has like 7 places to sleep. Where do the other trains go?
  28. I guess if you’re not one of the OG trains no one cares about you.
  29. Except Victor. He’s good people.VictorCGIpromo
  30. Victor is the only train on this whole island with any sense.
  31. They should make Victor their king.
  32. There’s an Earl of Sodor?
  33. Wait, he’s British.
  34. So this whole time I guess no one noticed the giant castle that the Earl lives in.
  35. Probably because they don’t ever WORK.
  36. Did writers of the Brady Bunch theme write these songs, too?
  37. Say “wheel-turn by wheel-turn” ONE more time, narrator.
  38. PERCY WE TOLD YOU TO BE QUIET
  39. So on these adventures where Thomas goes rogue and finds a secret train that no one knew of and kept it a secret for weeks…his driver just didn’t say anything?
  40. Or maybe he COULDN’T.
  41. The trains killed their drivers and just prop up mannequins in their places now.
  42. Honestly, the drivers are probably better off.
  43. Who is this “real life” guy who works at the station? Why is he making a cake?
  44. Is he the only office staff member in Sodor?
  45. Now he’s mopping.
  46. Maybe he was a driver who escaped the massacre.
  47. Stop splashing people, Thomas. Sheesh, you’re obnoxious.
  48. But why do they leave things like flour and strawberries uncovered in the train cars? That can’t be sanitary.
  49. They’re two, they’re four, they’re six, they’re eight…
  50. So if some of the trains are identical twins, does that mean the trains have parents?
  51. I mean, they’re trains. Technically a lot of them are identical already.
  52. Like Henry and Gordon, except Henry is cool and Gordon is the worst.Picture 255
  53. He probably led the driver massacre.
  54. Why does Sir Toppem Hat employ the Troublesome Trucks? They are clearly not a good fit for this job.
  55. Really, about half of these guys should be fired.
  56. The girls do a great job, though. Mavis’ quarry work is on point.
  57. Whatever happened to Molly? Thomas embarrassed her and then she never returned.
  58. She probably got wise and escaped on the first talking steamboat out of there.
  59. PERCYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.

And I think that’s about it.

The Meaning of Easter

The Meaning of Easter

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As I scrolled through my newsfeed on Facebook this week (do you notice how many posts start with that sentence? I need an intervention), I saw lots of posts about what people are getting their kids for Easter.

That concept by itself sort of surprised me. I grew up celebrating Easter, but we stuck to egg hunts and chocolate bunnies and maybe a Backstreet Boys t-shirt (or was that Valentine’s Day?). We gathered as a family, enjoyed a meal together, and celebrated our risen Savior.

I’m not saying that to be arrogant – this is a testament to how my parents raised me, not the good choices I made. But as I see more and more posts about Easter baskets stuffed with presents and toys and more presents and more toys, I realize I do have a choice to make. Daniel and I have to decide what celebrating Easter means for our family.

I struggled with deciding how to go about this for a few days. I am what you would call a Stage Five Overthinker, and soon I was in a spiral of “NO PRESENTS AT ALL but but but other kids get presents and mine will be left out THEY MUST LEARN TO DO WITHOUT SUCH THINGS but but but a little stuffed bunny never hurt anybody NO ONLY JESUS-RELATED THINGS but but but what about an Easter basket with a cross on it??” and so on. You should see me try to decide what to order at a restaurant.

However, as I was walking through Target (all hail), huffy and alone in my principles, I saw a sign for Easter candy. The sign read “Make Easter a Little Sweeter.”

And it was there that I had a moment of clarity. I find that candy often brings me clarity.

There is no way to make Easter sweeter. It’s impossible. It’s impossible because the reason we celebrate Easter is that Jesus died for my sins and rose three days later and made it possible for us to spend eternity with God.

It just doesn’t get sweeter than that, y’all.

Easter is about remembering a time when God’s Son volunteered to come down to Earth, live among sin and sorrow, and then die a terrible death so that no one would ever have to die again. He chose to make my wrongdoings His wrongdoings and gave me the chance to walk with God every day. He did that because He loves us. He loves me, and you, and everyone.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not condemning presents on Easter. I am pro-egg hunts and may or may not be snacking on some Whopper Eggs while I type. My kids will dress up a little fancier for church tomorrow and we will have a fun day together.

But as we hunt for eggs and open our baskets and pass the rolls, let’s remember why we’re celebrating. Remember why you’re with your family this weekend. Remember why this is a holiday. Remember the real meaning of Easter, and teach it to your kids, and then break out the chocolate.

And then send me some, pls & thx.

Happy Easter, everyone!