What I’m Into (October/November 2017)

The first time we got the fire going this year (OK fine, by turning on a switch), it was like a long, deep breath exhaled.

My friend Tara and I had lunch the other week, and she told me how grateful she was for the approaching winter season. I hear so many complaints about the frigid temps of winter, so this was a refreshing perspective. “It feels like the year is making you slow down. It’s dark and cold, and you just get a chance, between the warmer seasons that have so many activities, to relax and sit with your family in front of the fire,” she said.

You may have noticed my blog has been a little quieter lately. Or maybe not; with the flurry of information on social media these days, I’m certain no one keeps very close tabs on this page anymore.

It doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about blogging or personal writing; I probably overthink it, actually. But with my kids both in school full-time, the last few months have given me a chance for more self-reflection than I’ve had the last 8 years, and I’ve been sitting in sort of a middle ground, wondering where I’m headed next.

So this past summer and fall, I’ve been living instead of writing about living. And with winter coming, I’m still in the in-between but feeling hopeful and grateful for the moments of living, big and small. Whatever is ahead, the year is exhaling, and for now, I’m going to cherish sitting with my family in front of the fire…

In front of the fire with a Stegosaurus and Curious George on October 31 🙂

Here’s a roundup of some things that have going on in this neck of the woods…

I hit the summer hard with an abundance of light reading – lots of fiction, plenty of YA novels. Which worked well for the warm season. When fall settled in, I drifted into deeper, slower reads, mostly nonfiction.

I just finished I Was Told to Come Alone, written by Souad Mekhennet, a Muslim journalist for the Washington Post. She shares an extremely unique perspective from interviews “behind the lines of the jihad,” and it helped me to understand better many of the world issues today. I also recently completed Evicted, which was a journalistic delve into poverty and eviction in Milwaukee.

Currently, I’m in the middle of Enrique’s Journey and The Longest Road, and next, I’d like to start Just Mercy, which comes highly recommended.

I’ve also been making it a bigger priority to read aloud with the kids. Sometimes during school days, it’s easy to let that slip, but it’s something that we all enjoy so much, and listening to the Read-Aloud Revival Podcast has been a catalyst for prioritizing this!

This story by my friend Ginger is just INCREDIBLE. She shared it with me when it first began and updated me over time, and I couldn’t wait for her to write about it. I know it will – and already has – change many lives.

“We find friendship with the heart; not the eyes. I have found that teaching acceptance, compassion and kindness must be intentional. As a parent, this can be done by not missing out on an opportunity to have your children interact with someone who is different. The more they are exposed to different, the less it becomes a big deal. Children can learn to see ‘different’, and look past the outside and see the heart.” This post by my friend Stacey is absolutely a must-read.

I had the pleasure of being featured on the podcast Orange Socks, which offers support and encouragement to special needs parents across the globe. I think it’s is so important for us to share our stories, to help our fellow parents find hope and not feel isolated, and after browsing the stories on Orange Socks, I felt so uplifted. You can listen to my interview here.

Someone was THRILLED to lose her first tooth!! She’s been dying to lose a tooth for years – thanks to her big brother’s prolific teeth turnover rate. She would ask me for apples and carrots when it got loose, to help the process along, and she finally wiggled it out while on a field trip!

Connor’s Cub Scout troop got to experience our local hospital’s air evacuation team and helicopter landing in our town. All the kids were able to try out the helicopter – and OK, some of the parents may have also jumped at the chance to sit in it too…

In October, for Neonatal Intensive Care Month, I was honored to have the opportunity to team up with my friend and fellow NICU mom Stacy and her nonprofit Triple Heart Foundation. I donated my children’s book That’s How You Know for care packages to the NICU families. It was a surreal feeling to be back on the NICU floor; I hope that we were able to provide a little light into the day of another NICU family with our delivery.

A certain someone in our family has a favorite song: John Deere Green by Joe Diffy. So when we got to ride on a John Deere combine during fall harvest, she was totally thrilled!

May these darker days of winter bring peace and relaxation – and lots of family time in front of the fire!

To My Daughter as She Begins Kindergarten: oh, the places you will go

It began with a painful and exhilarating walk into the hospital, five and a half years ago.

And left us walking out of that hospital 24 hours later, with no baby in the backseat.

Instead, our footsteps took us, every day, multiple times a day, into the nearby NICU, where we paced around worriedly next to your isolette.

After we were able to be discharged from the NICU, we carried you into our home to meet your big brother, and our trek was almost completely confined to those walls for many months as we learned to care for your skin.

Months turned to years, and finally, our steps became your steps. You let go and learned to walk on your own… cautiously, carefully, never too far.

We’ve spent the vast majority of the last 5.5 years by your side…pushing your swing at the park, shuffling into doctors offices, piggyback rides up to bed.

And tomorrow, you will walk into your classroom to start a new journey. And only you can determine where you will go from there.

My sweet child, on this day before you begin Kindergarten…

Oh, the the places you’ve been – and the places you will now go.

I know you will stand for big things, because of where you’ve treaded before. I know your pain has brought forth great concern and compassion for others. I know your fears have elicited deeper empathy and understanding. And I know the courage you’ve had to cling to has found a strength and capability that we are grateful for.

I have been asked, again and again, how I am feeling, if I will cry as I walk away from school tomorrow.

If there will be tears, they will fall because of pride for who you are and the impact I know you will make on those you walk beside. If there will be tears, they will come from the gratitude of this milestone, not from the grief of any kind of loss. Because there were more than a few times that we didn’t know if we’d see this day, if we’d get to experience the excitement of you starting school.

That kind of uncertainty changes a person, a mother. It molds your emotions for new changes into those blooming with celebratory appreciation rather than nostalgic back-pedaling.

When I say “I can’t believe it’s here,” I don’t mean that the last five years went quickly. I mean that I can’t believe you’re here, going to full-time school. From your arrival as a critically ill newborn who has already climbed some tough mountains in your short life, I am awed by the way you are thriving today. Loving deeply, living big and wide and loud.

Tomorrow, you will take your steps into your Kindergarten classroom. You will walk into new relationships, new feelings, new challenges.

And I pray with each step that you never forget who you are: an ambitious, compassionate person lovingly created by the Lord just as you are, with many gifts to offer the world and the opportunity to make a huge positive difference in many lives as you strive to live out your God-given purpose.

Happy First Day of School, beautiful girl.