Sugar and Spice

Here’s a funny story: When my husband and I first started dating, we were 17 years old. Being a starry-eyed teenage girl, I often dreamed about my future family and would share those dreams with my OMG-why-is-she-talking-about-weddings-and-children?!-run-run-RUUUUUN!! teenage boyfriend. One day, I dared to say I wanted at least one daughter. Now, my husband is one of three boys. He wanted no parts of having any girls and told me, in no specific terms, that since gender was decided by the male’s “contribution” that if we were to get married one day, all our children would be boys. (All four of our children, I might add. Ha. Hahaha.)

Fast-forward to summer 2005. I was pregnant with our first child. At the end of July, we headed to the doctor for the 20 week anatomy scan. I’m planner so I wanted to know if I should be painting pink or blue and buying baseball mitts and footballs or baby dolls and strollers. My pompous spouse claimed there was no reason for the scan – he knew the baby was boy and recalled his proclamation from 10 years before. And, well, if you read my first-ever LoveLaughterLunacy article, you’ll recall that I did, in fact, have a little boy. A little boy that I love to pieces.

As much as I adored my son, I still hoped to have a daughter one day. You see, my mom and I are built-in best friends much the same way my mom and her mom were. I remember how difficult it was for my mom after my grandmother’s death and it made me feel good knowing that she could still have a relationship like that with me – albeit with her role switched – and I wanted that for myself one day.

Fast-forward once again to spring 2008. I was once again pregnant and utterly convinced that the child I was carrying was another little boy. Not that I would have been unhappy with another boy but I was truly ecstatic when the tech pointed out girly bits. A built-in BFF! Pink! Lace! Sparkles and glitter! In October that year, our little baby girl was born and OH.MY.GOD., did she take the world by storm with her blond hair and massively huge blue eyes. And boy oh boy, does she take being a girl seriously.

When I found out in August 2010 that we were to be blessed with another baby, I didn’t have a preference either way. I didn’t care if I had two boys and one girl or two girls and one boy but I knew from the beginning that this one was a little girl so when the tech confirmed it, I just shook my head at my “I’m-only-ever-having-boys” husband. This little girl was born in spring 2011 with a head full of dark hair and big brown eyes.

Daddy and the two girls he swore he'd never have.

Daddy and the two girls he swore he’d never have.

Watching my husband with our new baby and our precocious toddler, I knew we were in for it and I was right. Oh, how I was right.

Our first daughter will turn 6 in less than a month and she is too smart for her own good and beautiful and stubborn and severely independent and more complex than a kid should be. Miss Drama Queen will gladly do what you want her to do – on her own terms, in her own time. Let me tell you, parenting her is a challenge. It’s a fine line between allowing her to explore that fierce independence and making her follow the rules of the house and it’s something that we honestly work on every day. We do not want to break her spirit because oh, is she spirited but OMG, kid – listen to your parents!! At least I’ll never need to worry about anyone walking all over her because this kid would never allow that to happen.

Which brings us to our third and final child, our little Pooh Bear Butt. Within minutes of her birth nearly three and a half years ago, she had her father completely and totally smitten. Oh my God, you guys. It’s bad. He’ll watch her eat and smile. He thinks the way she chews is cute. This little girl is definitely more docile than her older sister but don’t let that make you think she’s a pushover. No no no, Pooh is quite the force. Her superpower isn’t fearless independence like her big sister. You know what her superpower is? I’ll let you in on the secret: she lures you into thinking that she is a sweet little angel and then BAM! She narrows those eyes and takes a massive chomp out of her sister’s arm. Or wings a Matchbox car at her brother’s head (which may or not have been something I used to do with my brother). She may be tiny but she is fierce and she isn’t about to let the fact that she’s the baby of the family mean that she gets shortchanged.

It goes without saying that even though I dreamed about my family years before they ever came into the world, I never imagined I’d have three kids with such crazy, fun personalities – and yet, as numerous people have commented – still be so totally different. I can honestly say that watching their personalities come out has been my absolute favorite thing about having children. And I can’t help but laugh at my out-numbered husband every time his girls bat their big eyes at him. Dude has NO idea what awaits us in 5-6 more years when puberty hits. It’s all sugar and spice and everything nice when they’re little but that doesn’t last forever.

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Sweet Sorrow

Confession: I stink at goodbyes. Like, really really badly. Unfortunately next week I have to say farewell to a woman who has come to mean a lot to me and the idea of it honestly fills me with dread.

A little back story is in order. When my husband and I moved to our current home, it was way more of a whirlwind decision than buying a house and moving out of state should be. And for awhile after we moved here in November ’06, we weren’t happy. We loved our house but we disliked everything about this town. We were only an hour away from family and most friends but it felt so much further.

Autumn ’09, in particular, was a pretty bad time for me. Don’t get me wrong – things with my husband and kids were fine but I was miserable. We had been operating with just one car for over a year at that point so when my husband drove to work each day, I was literally STUCK at home with a little kid and an infant all day. Every day. I couldn’t even run to the grocery store if we ran out of milk. It took its toll on me and I remember sobbing to my husband that something had to change. I needed this huge void that had taken over to be filled.

Growing up, I attended church religiously (hahaha, see what I did there?) and I realized I really, really missed that. We tried getting involved in the Catholic church down the street but it just didn’t click. It wasn’t welcoming, there was no literature on how to get involved in stuff, nothing. After that experiment was a dud, I I told my born-and-raised Catholic husband that I wanted to try a Lutheran church. The very next Sunday, off we went.

Walking through the doors of that church in November ’09 turned out to be a life changing moment. From the second I walked in, we were welcomed warmly by everyone. The first time I heard the organ, I got chills up and down my spine. (Turns out it’s the 8th largest organ in the world.) The ushers assured us all through the service that our children were not, in fact, behaving like heathens. We went back again the following Sunday. Five days after that, I joined the choir.

Now, not many people who know me now know that for years, I had planned on majoring in music. For the longest time, music was my life. The stupidest decision I ever made was giving it all up after some drama with various band people my senior year. I regret that every day, even over *cough* 18 *cough* years later but joining choir was like… well, it was like being let out of a prison and into the sunlight for the first time in decades but what made it an even sweeter deal for me were the people who ran the choir.

I absolutely fell in love with them both.

The Minister of Music is a force. He is so ridiculously talented and funny and smart and he makes you want to be the best version of you that you can possibly manage to be. He is amazing with everyone, from 3 year olds to 103 year olds. He is one of the most amazing disciples of Christ I have ever known. And then there’s the Associate Minister of Music. She is quiet and unassuming even though she is not only the Associate Minister of Music but also an Associate in Ministry, a composer (and one of the most internationally respected hand bell composers ever), an organist, a pianist, a harpist… She has every right to be a pompous jerk about it but she is exactly the opposite of that. Put these two awesome people together and it’s just magic. It really is. They go together like chocolate and peanut butter.

It was she who first asked me to play the flute for a church service. Everything in me was screaming no because I hadn’t played in eons but I said yes. With her gentle guidance, she gave me the confidence to do it again. And again. And again. I’ve played for 25 people at the Saturday evening service and I’ve played for hundreds of people in the community singers concert. Me. I played with her for the last time just this past Saturday and I don’t know if she could tell but I could barely see the notes on the page through all the tears in my eyes. To be honest, I feel a little silly being so emotional over this – after all, I met her not even 5 years ago! I don’t really know how to explain it but in so many ways, this woman touched my soul and changed my life. She awakened the lost musician in me and gave me the confidence to perform again – not only instrumentally, but vocally too. She changed my life and I, very very very selfishly, am ridiculously sad I only got to be in her presence for 5 years.

So. KLB. If you ever read this, this is the goodbye I could never give you in person because I’d be a blubbering mess. (Like I am right now, but you can’t see me. Ha.) I cannot possibly even begin to thank you for everything you’ve done for me and brought back into my life. You are an amazing woman, a ridiculously talented musician, and I will miss you (and your eyes that literally twinkle when you laugh) more than I can ever say. Godspeed to you and happy retirement. May you receive the blessings that you’ve given to others tenfold.

About A Boy

aboutaboy-2Not just any boy though. My boy.

In so many ways, my son is just like yours. He’s 8 years old so burps and farts are, like, the funniest things ever. He is obsessed with cars and is the proud owner of hundreds (I’m serious – hundreds) of Matchbox and Hot Wheels die casts. He enjoys tormenting his little sisters. He is teetering on the precipice of knowing it all and realizing his parents know nothing.

My son, who will be 9 later this year, was born with several different visual impairments.

So my son is not like yours.

When he was first diagnosed, the outlook was grim. The pediatric ophthalmologist said our boy might never see. In the blink of an eye, the hopes and dreams I’d spent months (years, if I’m being completely honest) imagining for my child were in jeopardy. I mourned, I did. It might sound silly but I mourned big things, like the death of the plan I’d had all set for my new little family, and I mourned smaller things, like my husband not being able to play catch with his boy. While every parent is apprehensive over the battles that their children will all face one day, I agonized knowing that my son would face those in addition to the ones his impairments would bring him. I was angry. I was sad. I cursed that life wasn’t fair and that my sweet baby boy didn’t deserve all this.

I still feel that way.

But despite the grim prognosis, my boy has flourished. With every expectation he exceeds, my anguish and anxiety dulls little by little. His vision may not be like yours or mine but he sees.

Some people see him and they only see his disability. If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard “poor kid,” I’d be a rich, rich woman. What they don’t realize is what my son’s visual impairments give him. Because of his low vision, my son has the ability to judge someone based solely on one thing – the way they treat him. He doesn’t care if you’re overweight, what color your skin is, what you do for a living or what kind of clothes you wear. If you’re nice to him, you’re allright in his book. His low vision has helped shape my little boy into the person he is – sweet, loving, and able to relate to the most common – and also the most beautiful – core of humanity – the soul.

My son has unknowingly worked his entire life to never let his disabilities define who he is. He’s done so well, in fact, that upon talking to my 5 year old daughter a few weeks ago about how everyone is different, she was floored to learn that her big brother had an actual visible visual issue – never mind the internal ones. She’d never noticed it because she just sees her brother. This epiphany brought me to tears – both in pride for my girl and in shame for myself.

Raising a special needs child is difficult, it really is. You worry for their present and their future. You worry how to provide for your other children. You wonder how you’re going to give them all the care they require. You wonder how this will affect your own future and the future of your family, even your bank account. The doctors’ appointments, the therapist reports, there are a lot and they take up a lot of time. They’re tiring. They’re not always uplifting.

But watching my boy defy the odds every day of his life is a blessing. Watching him connect with a person’s soul is astoundingly beautiful. Seeing him bring a smile to the faces of so many people he meets is amazing. Learning from his sweet soul has inspired me to live more like him.

Judge less, accept more. Imagine if everyone lived like that. The world could do with more people like my son.

Mission Statement

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.

Benjamin Franklin

Welcome to love laughter lunacy! That Ben Franklin quote? That’s gonna be my mantra. I wear many hats in this crazy life I lead – wife and mom being among the most important ones. I’ve been married (to my high school sweetheart – go ahead and gag) for 10 years. I am also a stay-at-home mom to 3 (mostly) awesome kids. My oldest is an 8 year old boy and the two younger ones are both girls, ages 5 (going on 15, complete with eye rolls) and 3. They keep me on my toes and provide me with lots of material which I cannot wait to share with you.

Additionally, I’d like to share with you my other interests which range from photography to movies to cooking to travel to trying out Pinterest pins and trying not to embarass myself too much. Oh, and reading. With all three kids finally (mercifully) in school, I am really looking forward to getting back into reading.

So if I do my job correctly, we’ll have lots of laughs together and maybe even learn a thing or two from each other. Thanks for checking out love laughter lunacy!