/> Raising Angels: December 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I Need Some More of This Please

Family photos and game nights and playing in the SNOW and hanging with my brothers and singing karaoke and taking on trivia and opening gifts and watching glowing faces and eating and eating and eating.

Life is good. Christmas is fun. I need another month of this.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

‘Twas the month before Christmas,
Our house was a bustle
Nothing Christmas was done
It was now time to hustle.

The children were restless-
Playing football through the halls.
As they practiced their tackles,
I prayed for my walls.

Nelson spoke the word
And they fell into line.
I took a deep breath
As I poured out some wine.

When out on the lawn
There arose such a clatter.
We sprang from our places
To see what was the matter.

We spied those darn Auburn fans
Shouting a not-so-nice cheer,
But we held our heads high and said,
“We’ll see you next year.”

By then the kids had escaped;
We searched the backyard in vain.
So we whistled and shouted
And called them by name.

“Now Mackenzie, now Aiden, now…
Oh, what’s your name?
Right, you’re Dawson and Max.
No, this isn’t a game.”

First to come was Mackenzie,
The leader of all.
A seasoned fifth-grader
Who’s growing so tall.

Her pink cleats how they shone,
Slim piano fingers were moving,
As so often we see her,
She was singing and grooving.

Holding tight to her hand was
Maximilian who’s two.
He was running and jumping.
It’s a miracle! It’s true!

Next in line came Aiden,
Inquisitive and in the second grade.
He was quarterback this year -
Lots of completed passes were made.

And last but not least was Dawson
Who finally made it to school
Minus four baby teeth,
Which he thinks is quite cool.

Of course, without Aiden’s help
The two teeth on top would still be in place,
But with dimples, freckles AND no teeth,
Who can resist his sweet face?

I grabbed them and pointed them
Into the line
Which as a new fourth grade teacher,
I’m doing a lot of the time.

Leading us all was Nelson
Still in advertising year after year.
He’s put more irons in the fire -
The next big idea always so near.

We gazed at this family
These stair steps in our care.
We can’t help but to think
We are a super-blessed pair.

We love each other, our family
And we love our friends too,
And so at this point
There’s just one more thing to do:

May the Lord bless you with joy
And a life filled with peace.
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And may your happiness never cease.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Houston, We Have a Problem

On the books today was the yearly visit with Santa. I thought I might try to prime the pump a bit before we got there.

"So Aiden, what are you going to ask Santa for this year?"

"I'm asking him for something that's a secret from you," he said slyly.

"You know Santa always calls me for approval before he brings you stuff so you might as well tell me now," I let him know.

"Okay, I'm asking him for a pet...anything that is really alive," was his response.

"Bud, we've talked about this. You're not old enough to take care of a living thing and I'm sure not going to do it. I'm going to tell Santa not to bring one of those."

"Aww," he moaned. "Well then I'll just ask him for an Xbox."

"Um, that's going to be vetoed too," I told him. "We already have a Wii and certainly do not need two video gaming systems. What about if you just ask Santa to bring you some surprises?" He was a bit disappointed but finally relinquished.

When our turn came, the kids sat so nicely and smiled for us. They each took their turns giving a request to Santa. Try as I might, I couldn't hear a thing over the noise of the mall.

As we were walking away, I asked Aiden how he liked seeing Santa.

"It was good," he said.

"What did you ask him for?"

"I just asked for a Lego Star Wars game for the Wii..." I felt relieved that I had gotten my point across, "that and for you to be pregnant."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mission Accomplished

Today I noted that it was the first official day of vacation so I thought we should celebrate.

First I did some blitz cleaning and then met a friend for a brief run at the canal. Of course this meant I had to squeeze 3 bikes and a jogging stroller into the car that has the broken latch so that I can't open the back but only roll down it's window.

I ran with a single friend with no kids and prayed like crazy my kids would be the picture of perfection. Only they weren't. One complained and then cried most of the ride. One needed a snack every 10 minutes. Needless to say the 30 min run was closer to 50 minutes or so. I felt the need to apologize a million times...and I did.

On the way home however, I realized that this is my reality. Things don't always go as planned, nor are they perfect. So...it's okay if other people know this. (Well, it's okay if some friends know this, but I still love to give that impression of the perfect mom who has everything pulled together most of the time.)

Next was a welcome home dinner for my folks who have just returned from Nigeria. This was followed by a visit from Nelson's cousin and her friend. After this we hit a "Not So Silent Night" party filled with live music.

Suddenly my day was every bit as busy as before vacation and I'm thinking, “What have I done?” This is supposed to be a time of rest and relaxation. I have not rested or relaxed much.

And then it hit me. The holidays are a time to do the things you don't normally have time to do. It's time to visit with friends and family that you don't take the time to do. It's time to make memories and have a drink and celebrate life.

Today - mission accomplished.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I'm Good, but not that Good

"I'm really, really thirsty Mama," Max said. "Can I have some water?"

"How about finishing your milk first and then I'll get you some water okay?" I suggested.

"No. I don't like milk."

"What if I make it chocolate milk for you?" I bribed.

"But I don't like chocolate milk," he reminded me. "What about you make it water?"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Who Could Ask for Anything More?

I can't let today go by (even though it's really already tomorrow, but since I haven't gone to bed yet, I'm thinking it's still today...follow?) without saying something.

Today was the big day. Today we saw the neurologist. The last time we made this visit was hard. I’ve tried not to dwell on that visit, but it's stayed with me. It's been hiding out in the back of my mind waiting to jump out this month.

Between then and now it's showed up in conversations with Max's therapist, his service coordinator, our insurance company and with Nelson, of course. In fact, when I talked to Nelson that night about the appointment, I did it through tears of fear and sadness. Suddenly the thing we had talked ourselves into believing he would outgrow, had become this giant word called disease.

This word spiraled into a whole new universe of discussions of muscle biopsies, diagnoses and disability coverage. It was not the country I planned on visiting. It was not the planet I wanted to be on.

But that was then and every decision we needed to make we deferred until today. Because of the impact this visit and its decisions would have on our little guy, I had arranged to have my mother (and personal nurse) come with me just so I could have a second pair of ears listening and also so I could have someone to tell me everything will be okay as I scheduled the surgery I hoped he wouldn’t have to have.

With all of that in place, I put these thoughts on the backburner so I could get on with my life. I’ll think about that in December, I told myself. And today, quite suddenly, it was here.

I was really hopeful walking into the office this time. While my mom couldn’t make it, Nelson happened to have the day off and agreed to meet me there. Having him by my side always makes me feel like everything will be alright.

Also, Max has made tremendous progress in the past three months. His hobble has turned into what is pretty darn close to a run. He is attacking the stares now with no help at all. He can actually jump, even when he’s not on the trampoline. On the page, these accomplishments suddenly don’t feel very big; but, let me assure you that where Maximilian is concerned, they are nothing short of the kind of miracles that bring tears to your eyes.

The pediatric neurology department at the Children’s Medical Center in town is a mixed bag of emotions for me and Max. It still feels like a big deal to be taking my child to see a neurologist. On the other hand, seeing the other patients come in and out of the office always makes me grateful for the tiny, tiny cross I carry. Things could be so much worse. And Max, well, his normally happy, energetic self totally turns off the minute the doctor enters the room. He looks suspiciously at the doctor and is always reluctant to do anything for him. It’s almost as if Max understands the seriousness of this place as well.

Today the wait for the doctor seemed abnormally long. My prayer was that we have total clarity about what to do. I prayed that either way, the decision would be taken out of my hands. So when the doctor finally came in, I was ready to get it over with.

We talked and then he watched Max for awhile. He poked around on his muscles and then turned to face us. “Well your observations are right,” he told me. “Max definitely has low muscle tone, that hasn’t changed.” However, what followed blew me away. “I know we talked about a biopsy but there’s absolutely no need for that. We would go forward with that if we thought there was some kind of disease present but there doesn’t seem to be anything like that going on here.”

He went on to assure us that Max’s weaknesses were in no way connected to the ALS that runs in my mom’s family. He also noted, and I quote, “There’s every chance he might eventually catch up with the kids his age.” He was encouraged by the progress Max has made and in the end let us know that Max was okay. He can’t explain the weakness and low muscle tone but he was willing to watch and wait for 4 months this time around.

I think I made him repeat his statements two or three times before I let it rest. “Okay is great news,” I told him finally. “I’ll take that!” The doctor and Nelson laughed at my giddiness and Nelson let him know, “She’s probably going to cry all the way home.”

But I didn’t cry. In fact, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I feel like I just got Christmas 11 days early this year! I couldn’t get over how different I felt leaving that place this time. I joked with the nurse and the receptionist. We wished everyone a very Merry Christmas as we made our appointment for April.

How can this be? How can something turn around just like that? Can it be true? There are still so many unknowns. Maybe he’ll catch up and maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll grow out of this and maybe he won’t. Only God knows.

What I do know and will hold onto is that today I got my Christmas miracle, my early present. I know God did this and I thanked Him for it all the way home. I’m sure I did this because when I finally got quiet, I heard Max from the backseat saying, “Yay! I don’t have to have surgery!”

Really, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I was driving down the road today, in a rush to get Max to his neurologist - just one of the many things on my long to do list. I had the Christmas tunes on because I was trying to distract myself from the heaviness of this appointment.

It didn't take long until I was singing along with Max and the radio. While we were playing spot the Santa, it hit me suddenly that there are only 11 more days until Christmas.

When I was a kid, the month of December dragged on for what seemed an eternity. Remember that feeling? Now it seems as though it comes entirely too fast. There are never enough hours in the day to get it all done. My how things have changed.

My thoughts turned to God and how he probably feels like that about us. We spend a lot of our lives waiting for the next stage that doesn't seem to come fast enough. In the meantime, God is up there working like crazy to get us ready for that stage, hoping and praying we'll slow down enough to be able to handle it when it gets here.

I'm trying to approach this Advent much like I'm trying to deal with life these days - one day at a time. I'm striving to enjoy the season in spite of the business of it. I'm listening to Christmas music a lot. I'm recording Christmas movies to show the kids. I'm slowing down at the houses with all the lights. I'm praying that I stay focused on the real reason for this season. Beyond all the physical stuff that needs to get done, I'm trying to prepare my heart for the birth of my King.

When I succeed at doing this, I always remember why this is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

He Just Might Win...EVERY Time

Max has finally mastered the art of taking off his shoes and socks. Up until now I had not fully appreciated the total bliss I was in when I could dress him and he would stay that way until I undressed him.

This morning I dressed him before we took the big kids to school in order to allow me a few minutes to get some things done before it was his turn. When we got back home, I left him in the family room while I put some laundry away. When I came back, he had an exceptionally guilty face.

He grinned as he bragged, "I did not take off my socks Mama." Behind his back he held his shoes.

"Max," I moaned, "why did you take those off when you knew we were getting ready to go to school?"

"I don't know Mama," was his reply. Then he brought me his shoes and planted a big kiss on my cheek. He flashed his ‘I know I can get away with murder’ smile and sweetly said, "But, I love you!"

Seriously, the kid is good.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Work Christmas Parties Can Be Fun

It's a busy time of year but I always look forward to accompanying Nelson to his client Christmas party. I get to get all dressed up and go out with the love of my life for the cost of a sitter. I get to chat with adults who always say really nice things about my honey and me. And last night I also got to team up with one of Nelson's coworkers for next year's Ironman 70.3...if the body is still road worthy by then.

Every once in awhile you just have to leave it all behind and spend some quality time with your man - one of my very favorite parts of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

True Love

When you love someone - I mean really, REALLY love someone - you make sacrifices all the time. You make sacrifices that cost deeply. Sometimes they even hurt a little. Sometimes they hurt a lot. When you love someone, however, you don't count the cost or think about the pain. You just do it, because the love you feel doesn't allow you to do anything else.

And sometimes, you make a significant sacrifice and you don't even see it as one. Sometimes you get so giddy about making the sacrifice that you enjoy doing it. After all, it's not about you. When you love someone, you're happy when they're happy. If your love is strong, you actually look for opportunities to sacrifice just so you can try to prove in some tactile form the feeling that lives deep inside of you and is just waiting to explode and hit everyone in the vicinity.

Isn't love great! And being that it's Christmas time and all, well that just makes it all the better.

Monday, December 06, 2010


When I give my fourth grade students their spelling tests, I like to ditch the suggested sentences that the book provides (excuse me while I yawn). Instead I try to make them more relevant for them.

This week one of the words was butcher. So I said, "Butcher. When I'm in the mood for a really nice steak, I go to the butcher. Butcher."

Simultaneously, across the room, the students responded mid-test with, "Mmmmm...STEAK."

Ah, carnivores.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Entered into the Christmas Festival Bake-Off