/> Raising Angels: January 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Growing Pains

Before you say it, I know how late it is and I understand fully, believe me, that I should be in bed right now. The problem is that there are not enough hours in the day for me at this point in my life. Some days I make the good decision to lay it all down and go to bed and some days, sleep has to be sacrificed to get the job done.

Tonight it's less about the work and more about wondering if I never go to sleep if somehow, maybe, I could freeze time. Don't worry, I'm not so sleep deprived that I think this really will work, but oh, how I wish...really, really wish, it would.

The babies are growing and I want it to stop.

In the last six months I think all four of them have grown a few inches. Actually, I don't think, I am painfully reminded of this truth each time they walk out the door with pants hovering at their ankles and sleeves that fall somewhere between three-quarters length and not so cool. Shoes are getting tight, jeans are difficult to snap and the socks are so small that the toes have escaped into the open. Under the circumstances, it's hard to ignore how much they’re growing.

Hard to believe, but it gets worse. Tucking Aiden in the other night I asked him why he balls up so tightly. "Why don't you stretch out a bit bud? You might find it more comfortable."

"I would but this is what happens when I do," was his honest reply.

And Dawson, well, he's not far behind.

My boys have actually outgrown their beds! Seriously, how did this happen? Aiden first slept in that bed when he was about 17 months old and Dawson needed his crib. Somehow I've attached all kinds of emotions to that little bed and its inhabitant.

Yes, I know that in those car beds are crib mattresses which gave me no issues when they left their cribs. Those things are bulky and huge and I was always happy to get them out of the room. Somehow, moving them out of the cars into actual beds seems so much more poignant.

Standing in the furniture store Nelson and I were having conversations about getting some quality stuff that might actually see them through until they go off to...deep breath...college. I firmly stand by the fact that I will never, ever be old enough to have kids in college. Never mind that big milestone birthday I have coming up in July.

Tug go the heartstrings.

Max is less than a month away from turning three - THREE. I have yet to have a child turn three when I didn't have a baby on my hip or wasn't pregnant with the next one. Three was huge back in those days. Every year meant a little more independence, a little less carrying and a teeny bit more time without them under foot. Three for Max, however, is a bit much. He's the baby after all, even though he reminds me that he is so NOT the baby every time I call him that.

When his therapist came this week, he told me that he was reviewing Max’s six month chart and couldn't believe the progress he's made. My pie in the sky, wondered if he would ever do it, goal was for Max to be able to walk up and down the stairs unassisted. That's kind of a big deal when you live in a two-story home and your permanent room is meant to be upstairs with the big kids. When he did that a month ago at the end of a therapy session, I burst into tears. God is so good. Honestly, there were many days when I thought that goal was out of his reach, and now I'm wondering what other kind of goals we can set for him. The baby is growing into a child whether I approve or not.

Heartstrings now in full extension.

What threw me for a loop was Wednesday’s Little Sisters’ skating party with Mackenzie. Until yesterday, this was just another event on the calendar. We do it every year and as fun as it is, it means the year is over half-way finished and the summer break is closer. It was a fun thing to be crossed off the never-ending "to-do" list, I'm ashamed to say.

It was, until I sat in the gym waiting for the girls to change and watched the little first graders gather together. They looked so tiny. Suddenly I was here, four years ago when Mackenzie's class was that age and the fifth graders looked gigantic to me.

Mackenzie is in the fifth grade now which meant that yesterday was her last Little Sisters’ skating party...ever.
Worse than that, it means that next year she will be in - I don't know if I can say it...gulp...middle school.

That is all I can really say about that now because the heartstrings have been stretched to their limit and let go. I'm thinking this is where that pain in my chest is coming from. Those strings hit so hard that they not only bruised my heart, they also pushed my stomach up into my throat.

Ordinarily I would be crying now. I felt like crying yesterday as I watched my little girl help the littlest girls skate. She is not gigantic like those fifth graders were four years ago...is she? Here's the thing though, with the three funerals in three weeks and another that hit so hard I can't even write about it yet, the tears are gone. I felt them well up but I couldn't squeeze any out. Of course in a skating rink filled with elementary school girls having the time of their lives, this is probably a good thing.

Unfortunately, when you have no tears, there isn't the catch your breath, rub your eyes and deep sleep from the exhaustion that follows the crying. Instead, my heart, it hurts. Yep, tears welling again, nothing falling.

Time is not on our sides. Time is a heartless thing that stomps, although some more melodic folks seem to think it marches, all over the place. It leaves its mark and moves forward no matter how hard you try to pull it back. This, I know is that way it's supposed to be. Change is a good thing. Growing is inevitable and necessary, unless I want some really odd-looking adults down the road. These are the moments I've waited for right? The hurry up and get this over with and move onto the next stage is happening right before my eyes.

Years and years ago, when I looked like thisI dreamed of being where I am today.

Funny, in the dreams I didn’t notice this pain.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

At Least I Made the Short List

"Max, what would you like to pray for today?"

"I would like to pway for Santa and Mama and Daddy."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Looking Forward to February

January has proven to be a tough beginning. I thought New Year's Day was going to make the rest of the year look easy, but Friday I attended my third funeral in as many weeks. I’ve had enough to do with death this month, thank you.

I currently sit here with two kids who spiked high fevers Sunday. They are doing better, but haven't been fever free for 24 hours yet. My mom has also been pretty sick, which means I have also been home yesterday and today too. I'm confirming a fact that I learned long ago - most of the time it's easier to do your life than to find someone else to fill in. Missing yesterday and today involved no less than seven phone calls to get rides, take care of all the carpools I do and get a sub for school.

Today Nelson is leaving town for a few days, I'm making food for two families as well as a baby shower for a friend. Oh yeah, and Nelson's cousin is moving in with us on Friday (this we're excited about because we love her and she loves our kids).

There are lots of feelings to process, tasks to do and people to care for (ever notice that when your husband leaves town he wants the ONE pair of pants that are dirty? Ya know I love ya hon!).

I'm still here (there and everywhere). I'm hoping February offers a few more moments to record more than my to do list.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


...Uncle Dick, who died January 7th after a long, hard battle with cancer. Actually, I'm thinking about this fact, but what I'm really remembering is his life and his generosity that allowed me to spend so much of it with him.

My Uncle Dick was a man with a heart as big the lake he lived on. Most of my summer vacations as a kid were spent in a little cabin he bought at the end of the slough of Lake Martin. We packed three families in that two bedroom, one bathroom cabin for a week. It must have been a nightmare for our parents, but for us, it was pretty close to heaven.

We spent those hot, sticky days living in our swimming suits. Our days were passed by diving off the wooden dock, floating on rafts in the middle of the lake, jumping off the top deck of their neighbor's dock as well as a very high cliff know as Chimney Rock. We explored the likes of Sand Island and the grounds around the cabin. We played bumper pool and a number of other games. We learned to ski and slalom. Of course we wiped out a number of times as well. Every once in awhile we caught a fish, or someone's eyelid, with a hook. We made smores by the fire (yes, in July) and watched fireworks from the tiny ski boat in the middle of the lake. We rode and wrecked the dirt bike more times than I can count. We attended mass at the Church in the Pines, which we got to ride to in the boat - so very cool. Most of all we spent time together - aunts, uncles and cousins. We were a family because Uncle Dick gave us his cabin out of the goodness of his heart and his love for his family.

Family was everything to my uncle. I don't remember a major event in our family that he didn't attend. He came to my high school and college graduations as well as those of my brothers. He attended our weddings and when Aaron was ordained in Rome...he was there.

And this summer, when we knew he was not doing well, we all returned the favor and had a big, happy family reunion at the lake he loved and called home.

The only time I ever felt like I got a chance to thank him for all that he had done for me was after I married Nelson. Suddenly I had access to tickets to the Masters that I was able to give to my uncle who lived and breathed golf. I thought he might die that day he actually got on the course, he was so happy.

I will always remember his enthusiastic greeting of, "Hi there Carrot Top!" This was always followed by a big kiss and a hug that nearly swept me off my feet. He was most often found with a PBR in his hand and a cigarette in his lips. He could be found feet up in front of the TV, swinging back and forth on his porch swing staring at the lake he loved, or with his hand on the wheel of his boat and the wind in his hair.

The day before he died, I called my mom, who has now had to use her hospice gift caring for four of her siblings who have died. She let me know that Uncle Dick was now unresponsive and it wouldn’t be long. “Would you like to say goodbye to him?” she asked me. “I don’t think I can do it. I’m crying and he won’t understand me,” was my wimpy response. I handed the phone to Mackenzie so I could compose myself.

In the end I got back on the phone and told my mom I was ready, not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. I could hear her tell her brother that it was Amy and I wanted to talk to him. And then I got a chance to do what a lot of people don’t. I said goodbye. But I didn't stop there; I thanked him for all he had done for me. I honored him for his generosity and I told him that I loved him. He died less than 24 hours later.

I’m sad that he’s gone; however, I know he’s in a better place. The morning I found out he died I had this vision of him getting up to heaven and walking into the arms of his parents and brothers and sister already waiting for him. My mom has always said that my grandma would do anything to get her family together.

I love you Uncle Dick and I will miss you dearly. I am so grateful that God put us together. I do have just one more favor to ask you though. Please tell Grandma that enough is enough. We need a few members of her family down here too. Thanks.

*Just for the record, this is not the way my uncle wore his hair, but a hat my mom gave to him this summer. He was a great sport:)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Letter to a Friend

I look at you my friend, my journal, my children’s baby books, my personal space to vent, celebrate, ruminate; I look at you and sigh at your blank pages. As of late, you have taunted me with empty days without entries. Suddenly the things bouncing around my mind are so deep I can't dig them out. They are so personal, I don't know if I want to share.

Sometimes life takes turns that make you think, and think, and think. These things that happen also take up time, which is not something I have a lot of these days. Thus, the entries are few and far between.

But in the midst of the all life goes on and it's worth recording because along the way I am growing and changing and so is my little family. I'm finding these days that the time I have to spend with them is so precious that I'm engulfed in the moment and forgetting about recording it. Not sure if this is a good thing or isn't.

Regardless of all of this, I'm not willing to abandon you. I'm just not that kind of friend. So, be patient with me.

Monday, January 10, 2011

An Icy Snow Day

Having Monday off can become habit forming. It started snowing around 9:30 last night and began collecting immediately. It did that for several hours. Today we awoke to happy squeals and immediate requests to go outside.
It took some serious layering and scrounging around since one son happened to leave his winter coat at school over the weekend, but we managed to get them all covered.

Playing was a bit of a challenge since it was mostly ice by the time we made it outside. We managed to have some fun anyway. The guys got in an ice war with the boys across the street.
I spent my time crafting an ice woman. This proved to be quite a task. I decided to keep it small since I had to make it from the snow and ice on the trampoline in the back and then carry the pieces to the front. She wasn't big, but boy does she have style. And Max thought she was just right.
I know it's not much, but remember I live in the South and we are not prepared for weather like this so it shuts the whole town down. Seriously, our pediatrician's office was closed, Nelson had the day off and currently they are closing down parts of the interstate and major roads. Of course, none of this bothers me because it adds up to another day off tomorrow!

We played, warmed up by the fire, drank hot chocolate, and then played some more. Nelson played poker with the boys and Mackenzie helped me style the snow woman. Max would play like crazy and then suddenly look up and say, "Brrr! I am COLD! I need to go inside!"

All you have to do though is to look at our faces in this last photo - pure joy. I am thankful for the day off and so excited to have another day to ourselves tomorrow. I am loving these short weeks! Bring on the snow.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Taken Literally

Me to Aiden as he is showing me the half empty cup of sweet tea he just downed at McDonald's: Don't you want any ice in your drink?

Aiden: Mom, it says "ICED tea" on the container!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

He's Got the Singing. The Spelling...Not So Much

"There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name-o! SSQEY, SSQEY, SSQEY and Bingo was his name-o!" sang Max.

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Perfect Gift

This morning I woke with a rather sick feeling in my stomach. I did not want to go back to real life. I had hoped that over the break I would get some needed rest and relaxation. I got a lot of fun and time with family but not relaxation. In fact, the week of Christmas I went several days averaging about 4 hours of sleep a night just trying to catch up with all of the holiday things that needed to be done that I couldn't get to while working.

So this morning I was tired, and like the kids, I did not want to go to school. Interestingly enough, I had jury duty. So, on top of everything else, I had to do all my lesson plans and line up childcare for the week. I arranged for subs for everyday just in case I end up on a jury and I got my kids covered all but one day with the help of my mother-in-law and cousin. It's a lot of work to change your life for a week.

I made it to the courthouse with time to spare and as I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed it was eerily vacant save for a few cars. I checked my summons to make sure I was in the correct place. Indeed I was so I got out of the car and followed another gentleman up to the doors which were...locked. "It's a holiday," said the man. "They're closed."

"But my summons says the 4th," I said in dismay.

"Right," he acknowledged, "except today is the 3rd."

I walked away a little put off by my own mistake. As I got back into the car I slowly began to realize what had just happened. I had the day to myself. I had asked Nelson's mom if she minded if I ran a few errands before coming home and she graciously gave me the go ahead. I called Nelson and told him what I had done and he encouraged me to take the day off and enjoy it.

As I drove away from the courthouse, tears streamed down my face. I was overwhelmed by God's generosity to me. I realized I had done nothing to deserve this gift, and yet, God had given it to me. He knew all the circumstances and had me make this mistake for my own good. He had brought my Christmas gift in an unexpected moment and caught me completely off guard. I felt as if I was being physically washed in His peace.

I spent the day leisurely making some exchanges. I met Nelson for lunch at a totally fun sushi place and sat and talked to him for an hour. I took the time to let people at the mall help me. I picked up groceries and made my meal for the neighbors and got it delivered so they'd have it tomorrow. And, at the end of the day, I felt like a new woman.

They always say that God never gives us anything we can't handle. There are moments, however, when it feels as if God thinks I'm a little stronger than I really am. Yet, just when I think I'm at my breaking point (and sometimes after I feel I've already snapped), He does something like He did for me today. He gives me exactly what I need just at the moment I need it the most and it's more than enough. It pushes me forward and gives me the strength to carry on.

And that, my friend, is why I love my God and I know that He loves me!

I Feel Your Pain

After breakfast this morning, Aiden walked into my bathroom and asked, "Now what do I do next? Do I brush my teeth or get dressed? I can't remember. It's been so long since I've done this."

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Off to a Great Start

I realized something strange yesterday afternoon as I finished up lunch with my brother and his girlfriend and waved goodbye to them with a bit of sadness in my heart. My mom had taken off earlier in the morning to care for her brother who is dying. My dad, Nelson and Aaron were on the road to Florida for the Alabama bowl game and Brian and Heather were in NC for a concert. It was me and the kids.

This is not scary because living where I live I am never really alone. But still, after a week and a half of all family all of the time, it was sad to see them go.

I love my family and if you have read this for any amount of time, you know that without a doubt. It's a crazy, fierce kind of love that hurts sometimes, but fills my heart to overflowing all of the time.

It's been a rough beginning to a new year. The uncle I am closest to and have spent the most time with over the years is dying and my mom has gone (with her hospice gifts and a sister's love) to do what she can for him. We are sad, like brings tears to our eyes to talk about it sad. We are also peaceful, because we have faith and so does my uncle.

This morning, as Aiden opened his dresser drawer, a wooden sign he had set up himself fell down and clocked him right in the face. He has a good sized slice across the bridge of his nose to prove it. When we finally got him together, he decided he'd go outside to play. On his way out, he slammed - and I mean SLAMMED - his finger in the door and ripped the fingernail totally out of the nail bed. Painful and also disgusting.This injury took a lot more time to recover from. I’ve always said I could deal with anything but vomit. Today when I took that dangling nail and put it back in place to protect the exposed nail bed, I think I proved my own point. We got him back together and he actually wanted to go outside to play.


I'm finishing this entry over 8 hours after I started it. I stopped writing when Aiden came back inside from playing and told me, "This is the worst day ever." Then he pulled up his shorts to show me that he had impaled himself on a tree.
With the help of a neighbor, we got the 1 inch long twig out. After numerous calls and a visit to a doctor friend next door, we headed off to the ER. Apparently puncture wounds are a pretty serious thing.

We were triaging with the nurse for the leg when I laughingly mentioned the finger. They were as worried about the finger as they were his leg. A few x-rays later we discovered that his finger was not broken and we had removed all the wood from his leg.

The doctor came back in to irrigate the wound. Two syringes full of saline later I was very proud of my son for hanging in there like a champ. He was much braver at the hospital than he was at home.

I'm sure that at the beginning of this post I had a moral to the story, a reason to record these thoughts but somewhere between that moment of peace and eight hours later I forgot what it was. All I know is that 2011 is off to a banner start.

It can only go up from here.