Friday, January 13, 2017

Half Life

We have been married for half of our lives. Half. Of our lives. Twenty-one years.

First off, we were twenty-one when we were married. Just twenty-one, as in, two weeks or less after our twenty-first birthdays (we were born three days apart). We were incredibly young and emphatically certain that this was forever.

I can't say the past twenty-one years have been all hand-holding and loving adoration. We had some rocky months ... years. One thing never failed through it all - love. No matter how angry, frustrated, or just plain done we were with each other, we loved each other. I think it was because we love each other so deeply that we feel so hurt by the other or so badly for hurting the other.

Half of our lives. Twenty-one years. 

Our first twenty-one years of life conspired to put each of us just where we needed to be, when we needed to be there, in order to meet and fall in love with each other.

The second twenty-one years of our lives saw us through the loss of our first baby, the birth of five healthy babies, and the loss of twins. They gifted us many good memories filled with love, laughter, chaos, and myriad blessings. They challenged us with financial difficulties, job changes, and multiple diagnoses for children and myself that shape our daily lives. They brought us to today.

Today, I love my husband exponentially more than the day I married him. He is now not merely my best friend, lover, and life partner, but he is the father of our children. 
He is the man who went along with all of my out-of-the-box parenting decisions from co-sleeping and triandem nursing to homebirthing and homeschooling, and did so trusting that I was making the best decisions for our family. 

He continues to love me no matter how disabled I am, how much I weigh, or how much I struggle to get through each day. He still makes me laugh every day.

Tonight, our child-free celebration begins. And, as it would happen, will end within twenty-four hours due to impending snow. We're hoping for at least one hour for each year of marriage. 

Here's to the next twenty-one years!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Strange Man

My home phone rang just as I was about to start making dinner. Not wanting to deal with the possibility of a telemarketer, I let it go to the answering machine. The message left was not at all what I was expected. It was from an officer from the Suffield Police Department wanting my husband to call him back. 

I immediately called my husband at work. He immediately called the police department.

Apparently a call came into the Suffield Police Department. A concerned citizen reported a strange man walking around the neighborhood. That concerned citizen took down a license plate number and called the police. 

It was definitely my husband's license plate number. And the suspicious man was, in fact my husband. My husband had to explain to the police officer that he was merely playing Pokemon Go during his break at work.

We totally blame this on Coren and Alia, after all, he's catching Pokemon for them. Who'd have thought a cell phone app could cause such a thing?!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Last night at Tuesday Night Sunday School our theme was Pilgrimage. We talked about the magi who went on a pilgrimage, following a star in search of a king. 

Yesterday afternoon, a young family arrived in Connecticut after a long pilgrimage from Istanbul, where they first sought refuge after fleeing their home in Syria. They were understandably exhausted. 

We talked about how the magi went to the house where Jesus was (not the stable) after speaking with Herod. It was mentioned that, after speaking with the magi, Herod ordered the killing of any child under age two - the slaughter of the holy innocents. This means Jesus could have been a toddler at the time of the magi's visit.

Perhaps the same age as the refugee child who, along with her family, was welcomed with open arms by members of New Start Ministry, Escorted to their new home they were delighted to see all the necessities, a toy basket for not-yet-two Elin, smiling faces, and a halal dinner that awaited them when they arrived. They didn't speak our language, nor we theirs, but the joy on their faces when they saw their new home and all their new belongings spoke volumes more than what could ever have been conveyed by the interpreter. 

But they didn't get to rest for long.

Joseph had a dream after the magi left telling him of the danger that was to come, and the family started out on yet another pilgrimage - one to Egypt, to safety. Who knows how long it took them to get there and the obstacles they faced while settling in to life in a new country. 

After hopefully a good night's sleep our family had visits from New Start team members to follow up with them after their journey and prepare them for what is to come. Almost-daily ESL and cultural adjustment meetings begin tomorrow. Next week brings visits to Social Security and DSS, as well as employment assessments on top of ESL and other meetings. 

As we journey through this new year, let us not forget the myriad pilgrimages of the past that have brought us to where we are today and made us who we are today. And may we hold in our hearts and our prayers those who are now on their own pilgrimages.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Focusing on 2017

Every new year, I choose a word that is my focus for the year. This time around, I've been struggling to decide on what word to pick. This is mostly because my mind has been all over the place lately and I can't seem to focus on any one thing.


Perhaps that's what I need.

I need to focus on my children and be in the moment with them.
I need to focus on my marriage and nurture a closer relationship with my husband.
I need to focus on friendships and help them grow.
I need to focus on my health and what I need to do every day to be as healthy as I can be.
I need to focus on our finances and figure out a way back to the level of frugality we need to attain to get by.
I need to focus on our household and getting it decluttered and organized.
I need to focus on my many commitments and let go of those that don't serve me, or that I don't serve, well. 

2017 is a year to FOCUS.

Saturday, December 31, 2016



This is not how I envisioned our New Year's Eve. 

We don't know where they came from, but they have changed our entire New Year's Eve experience. 

Instead of Zack going to Leila's to watch LOTR and the rest of us going to Gramma and Papa's house to watch tv, play on computers, and generally relax, we are all staying home, stripping beds, doing a ton of laundry, and using way too many towels. 

Instead of me picking Zack up and returning to Gramma and Papa's house for dinner, games, and counting down the new year via cable, we are picking through children's hair with a nit comb and vacuuming furniture before dinner, games, and counting down the new year via the internet. 

We don't know where these invaders came from, but they are definitely messing up our plans. 

However, we will make the most of it. Our house will end up much cleaner at the start of the new year than it would have been had things gone according to plan. I'll be able to perhaps keep myself from getting even more sick (I'm having an allergy attack on top of having a cold) without all the driving and running around I would have been doing. 

I am so thankful for my husband, who is doing the majority of the work today, as whenever I move, I either have a coughing fit or sneezing fit. I am grateful that, all things considered, this is far from the worst that could happen today. I feel blessed to be able to spend this New Year's Eve, whatever form it takes, with my husband and five children, despite the mess that has become of this day. 

What a fitting last day of a challenging year. We'll keep on doing what we strive to do every day - make the most of whatever the day throws at us and enjoy this blessed mess!

Friday, December 30, 2016

15340 and a Half

The Sixth Day of Christmas also happens to be my 15341st-ish day on this earth (including leap years). 

On this day, I will spend quality time with a young man who I try to talk to multiple times a day, and who doesn't respond ... because he's at work. Or sometimes because he is playing on the computer and has his headphones on. But mostly I do this on the three days a week he's at work. I miss him. So he said he'd take his mother out for her birthday. 

Our tattoo plans fell through (oh, darn, we'll just have to spend another day together sometime), but we will be going out for amazing Asian food and to see a movie. In recliners. With popcorn. I really want to bring a blanket and pillow, but I might get too comfortable and do what I do at home and fall asleep during the movie!

As a family, we will also be packing for New Year's Eve at Gramma and Papa's house. They're on a cruise, so they won't mind. Food, computers, DSs, Kindles, clothing, pillows, blankets, and our memory jar. We may as well be moving in!

For now, I'm going to curl up in my bed and contemplate the fact that I should be doing something useful. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Fourth, the Fifth

...days of Christmas, that is.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, I had a horrendous migraine. 

Before the migraine got too bad, I had the opportunity to deliver some useful things to the apartment the New Start Ministry is setting up for our refugee family...and to help out a bit there as well. It will be a cozy home for the three of them, close to a wonderful and helpful family who were refugees just a few years ago. What a wonderful way to start my day!

Then I went to the restaurant where Zack lost his wallet to retrieve it - they had found it while cleaning the night before. I treated myself to avocado maki and then headed home. By the time I arrived home, my migraine had amped itself up to unbearable levels, so I put myself to bed with ice packs encircling my head, where I spent a good portion of the rest of the day.

Today is the Fifth Day of Christmas. 
The migraine is still here. However, so far I've communicated via text and email with a dozen people to coordinate New Start appointments and donations, for church stuff, to sort out homeschool co-op info, and other things. I've made up schedules and payment information for all the homeschool co-op students, and emailed them. I've done dishes, made lunch, and made dinner. 

What I haven't done is change out of my pajamas. 

So now I'm going to take a shower, try to eat some food, take some medication, and pray for sleep... and for my migraine to be gone by tomorrow. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Third Day of Christmas

On the third day of Christmas
I did much driving...

One teen to lunch with his girlfriend.
(I also had lunch with my friend.)
Two children to Target.
Then back to the restaurant...
(To look for a lost wallet.)
A quick trip to Kohl's
(To use a $10 coupon.)
One child from her friend's house.
One trip to the grocery store.
And back home again!

My children love the week after Christmas. Their friends who go to school are off for the week, so they can get together for a playdate or a lunch date. The added bonus is that I usually get to chat with a friend or two as well. 

Today didn't exactly go as planned ... and no, we didn't find the wallet ... but that's life sometimes. Zachary learned how to report a bank card as lost...and to be more careful with his wallet. I got two new pairs of wool socks for $1.12 and had a wonderful conversation with a friend. The two Target shoppers waited patiently in the van while I looked for the wallet, ran into two stores, and picked Alia up from her friend's house, instead of being dropped off at home after our shopping trip. Having their DSs with them and brand new games to play on them helped a lot.

The rest of this month promises to be just as unpredictable as today. We shall see what the fourth day of Christmas brings...

Monday, December 26, 2016

On the Second Day of Christmas

For those of you who love Christmas as much as I do - don't worry! It's not over yet! The Christmas season lasts until Epiphany - January 6th. Today is only the second day of the twelve days of Christmas!

On the second day of Christmas...

I am thankful my migraine is at a dull roar today. It was so bad at one point yesterday (Christmas Day) that I didn't notice I'd received the same gift from two people. Easily remedied, it's not a big deal, but that it didn't register in my brain at the time I find a mixture of amusing and concerning. When the festivities were over, I retreated home and passed out for a couple hours, my head encased in ice packs. I'm feeling much better today. 

I am thankful for the time we got to spend with family, for good food, and good conversation. And for Christmas worship, filled with joyful Christmas hymns, friendly people, and hugs. 

I am also thankful for the wonderful gifts my family received - and gave each other - this Christmas. When I ask my children what their favorite gifts were, Christmas Angel gifts top the charts. This year...

Alex gave Alia a pink chihuahua.
(Standing in for Alex is his puppet, as Alex does not like having his picture taken.)

Alia gave Zachary Santa footie pajamas.

Zachary gave Daddy Magic the Gathering cards

Daddy gave Mama a tandem nursing mama carving (didn't get a good photo, sorry!).

Mama surprised Coren with a 2DS (thanks to Grandpa!!!), a case, and screen protectors.

Coren gave Haley an owl in a Santa hat.

Haley gave Alex a Five Nights at Freddies Fazbear

These Christmas Angel gifts, made or purchased for $5 or less, are gifts from the heart.

My favorite gift of the year was made by my husband...

During these twelve days of Christmas, so many things are happening in our little world. In twelve short days, we will help set up household for and welcome our New Start refugee family and begin to get them settled into life in the United States.We will celebrate my birthday, usher in the new year, and celebrate Jim's birthday as well.  And we will begin our Winter Session of Epoch Arts Homeschool Co-op.  

Saturday, December 24, 2016


After a horrible night's sleep, I dragged myself from the warmth and comfort of my bed and made pancakes for my children. My husband made bacon, the result of which was our most difficult to tear from his bed teen bounding out of bed at record speed. Upon finishing cooking breakfast, I immediately retreated to my bed, my body in near agony from the effects of rainy Christmas Eve weather combined with doing too much yesterday on my arthritis-damaged body. 

I sit here on Christmas Eve morning, feeling blessed.

Even though Coren can't find the pantookas (apparently Dr. Seuss expects us to hang these from our ceiling). Even though I've managed to burn both hands over the past two days. Even though I'm still suffering the effects of a major allergy attack yesterday. Even though vicodin will barely take the edge off the pain I'm experiencing.

I am blessed. 

I am blessed because I have five wonderful children who have wonderful senses of humor and of play. And who don't think it's odd at all when we ask them if they've found the pantookas yet. Because I have a loving husband who understands my need to retreat to bed after being up for less than two hours. God has blessed me with another day of life. The much needed rain is nourishing the earth. Bacon. Warm bed. Christmas music. Love come down. So many blessings. 

Hang pantookas on the ceilings .  Pile panpoonas on the floor.  Trim every blessed needle on the blessed Christmas tree. Christmas comes tomorrow! Trim you, trim me!