Caleb

Of all things Mom

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Friday night I was at the laundromat (only 6 more laundromat trips, we are moving into a house July 1st!). As I stood there folding laundry, I was listening to music. I was also crying. Because on my playlist I have a song by Ed Sheeran called Supermarket Flowers. He wrote it for his mom after she died.

For so many years, I hated Mother’s Day. The pain of infertility would cause me to weep and ask God why and wonder if I’d ever be a mom.

I can’t say that I hate Mother’s Day now, in this different stage of my life, without my mom here. But it is hard. It makes me sad. It makes me long for one more day with her. And as Ed sang to me over and over Friday night, “A heart that is broken, is a heart that was loved.”

We were well loved.

Before God gave blessed us with our two little miracles – he gave me two step kids. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I won the lottery when it came to step kids.

Holly and Cody were 11 and 12 when Pat and I got married. It was about five years later when Angel joined our family. All the years of infertility and heartache – I’d do it all again to have her as my daughter. In the card she gave me today, she wrote, “I’m so glad God destined for you to be my mom.”

Oh my word, thank you Jesus.

My almost Irish twins. I remember the long nights and long days. The exhaustion and overwhelmtion. But so much joy and so many adventures.

Through it all I had my mom to encourage and support and help me. One of the hardest things about being a mom these past six 1/2 years has been not having my mom with me on the journey.

But there is still joy. And every day I’m learning how to see it better. I’m learning to lean into Jesus and the friends and family He has put into my life.

We stopped by Grama Barb’s today to give her hugs and tell her Happy Mother’s Day. Our life has been made so much richer with her a part of it.

Seven months ago, we were blessed with our first grand baby. In November we drove out to Detroit to meet Briar Eloise for the first time. We were about an hour away from Detroit and I just started weeping. I grabbed Pat’s hand and I said to him that I understand now how much my parent’s loved Angel and Caleb. It filled me sorrow. And it filled me with joy.

Oh this precious baby girl – we love her so much.

Infertility, step-mom, mom, motherless, grandma… so many journeys. I think being a mom life is about 99.9% finding the joy through those journeys. Many days I have failed at this. But thankfully each day is a new opportunity to find that joy.

Whatever journey you may find yourself on today, I pray you would find joy and embrace it and know that God walks with you through it.

Last day of school

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Another school year gone. Friday was the kids’ last day of school. We now have a 4th grader and a 5th grader. WOW!

Last night, after their first day home for the summer, I might have possibly thought to myself, when does school start?

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It was a good last day. Very bittersweet for two reasons.

First, Mrs Kuiken. She was Caleb’s 3rd grade teacher and was also Angel’s 3rd grade teacher. No more Quittems with Mrs Kuiken.

The second reason is Mr Woodward. He was Angel’s 4th grade teacher and he is moving to GA to be a children’s pastor. Very awesome for him, his family and all the kiddos he will minister to, but Eugene Field Elementary won’t be the same without him. I have seen both kids, but especially Angel, grow these past two years in so many ways and I know a lot of it has to do with the teachers they have had.

First, the first day of school picture.

The last day of school. Stop getting taller Angel!

Then I got a few pictures of the kids by themselves. Angel was easy peasy.

Caleb… well, I love him dearly, but it’s a challenge when it comes to taking pictures.

I guess this one is Pat’s fault. That’s him “hiding” behind the tree.

Every other Friday we go to Casey’s for breakfast. We hope this is a tradition the kids will remember and not just the precursor for them to get diabetes. Hey, it’s only every other week so that’s not too bad!

I was able to get off work early so I could be there to take end of day pictures. Here is Caleb with Mrs Kuiken. I wanted to get some pictures of Caleb and his friends but again, the whole picture thing is a struggle with this boy.

Angel with some of her friends.

These two kiddos are new to the school. They came only about a month ago or so. We had an event at school a few weeks back and I was standing in the hallway with Angel and these two friends. One of them said to me, “Angel is a good friend. We are new to this school and we can always count on Angel to be there for us.”

Wow. So proud of my girl and how she lets the love of Jesus shine through her!

And last but certainly not least… the man, the myth, the legend… Mr Woodward. To be honest, Angel was not excited about having Mr Woodward at the beginning of the year. I’m not sure why. But by the 2nd day she was very glad and to see the impact he has had in her life is so amazing. Caleb was so bummed that he wouldn’t be able to have Mr Woodward next year but thanks to social media we can hopefully stay in touch.

So there ya have it. Another year come and gone, the kids taller and smarter and sassier, but like I tell them almost every day, always my baby girl and baby boy.

Turns out my kids are just kids

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I love love love when I’m talking to a mom or grandma and she mentions that her child/grandchild did something similar to what one of my kids have done.  I breathe a sigh of relief and think to myself, “Oh thank you Jesus, my kid is just a kid.”

Here’s what my kids, who are just kids, have been up to lately.

The strong wills. It’s almost enough to make me eat two bowls of ice cream after they go to bed. Lately they question everything we say. And I do mean everything. I appreciate the fact that they have a strong opinion and are not afraid to express it. But I would also appreciate it if they believed at least a few things I say. I thought the “you don’t know anything Mom” attitude didn’t start until middle school!

The fighting. I know this goes hand in hand with their strong wills. And it’s probably made worse by the fact that I freak out every time there’s any sort of conflict. Why can’t we all just be happy and get along? Again, I have to remind myself that they are learning how to communicate and it’s our job to help them learn. Forbidding them to talk for the rest of their lives probably isn’t teaching them much, huh? Thankfully I don’t say that to them too often. I don’t think.

The messes. Oh my word. If I have to pick up another piece of anything off the floor, I’m going to go get a third bowl of ice cream. I’ve tried everything I can think of. Any good ideas out there? That don’t involve ice cream?

Well, I thought my list would be a lot longer. I think over time I’m learning that my kids are just kids. There’s no “normal.” There’s just these precious miracles that God created uniquely and beautifully. Different personalities. Different strengths. Different weaknesses. I want to spend less time worrying about if my kids are “normal” and more time loving on them and guiding them to Jesus.

The cool thing is that even though the strong wills, the fighting and the messes tend to send me into major overwhelmtion, those things are really only a small portion of our days. The larger portion of our days are spent enjoying time together, playing games, watching movies, reading, doing really messy art projects, and every once in a while, even cleaning the house together.

If you have been blessed with children, no matter what your days may or may not look like, I hope you’ll join me in remembering that you have been given a very special gift. Cherish those little buggers. On good days and bad days. And never forget that your kid is really just a kid, yet unique from all others. And that’s a good thing.

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A picture is worth a thousand words. And smiles.

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(Disclaimer – these pictures are only a very small representation of our life. I have chosen to omit the pictures of my dining room table filled with papers and books and Lego pieces and crumbs and half empty glasses of milk from two days ago, pictures of my bedroom with a bed that is nicely made covered in clothes, both dirty and clean, and a kitchen with dirty dishes in places where dirty dishes shouldn’t be.)

~This girl.

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Seriously, can she get any cuter? Two days and counting until we get to kiss those chubby cheeks!

~The other night I was walking down the hallway past Angel’s room and saw this:

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Hahaha. I don’t have many words for this one – just smiles. Love my girl!

~I’ve posted lots of notes around the house – God’s word and positive affirmations… “I am loved,” “In this moment I am ok,” “I will never leave you or forsake you.” The kids wanted to write their own cards and this is what they wrote:

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This one is Angel’s – I am never alone.

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And Caleb’s – God is loved with our heart.

~Every year we pick out an ornament for the kids, an ornament for Grama and Papa and an ornament for our family.

The year our family ornament was actually three – peace, joy and hope. Three things that we have renewed in our hearts this year.

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(Ooops. No yoj around here, just joy!)

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This is Caleb’s – he’s all about the turtles this year.

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Angel picked out one with two kitties – to represent Flower and Cheetah who now live with their aunt Nellie. When we got home we realized that she had picked out a kitty one last year too. Which is ok but she loves her kitties!

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~One of the best things about Thanksgiving weekend was vegging out with my kiddos.

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Good picture.

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Creepy picture.

~Please be in prayer for these two, especially on Saturday.

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Actually you should have been praying for them on the day this picture was taken. I think they were watching a Bears game. Hahaha, sorry Jim!

Jim and his baby girl are flying to South Dakota! I’m so proud of Jim. Granted Cleo is especially cute and a pretty good baby, but still as a new parent I would have been pretty stressed. And pray for Leana too as she sends them off. Thankfully Leana’s brother and sister-in-law are flying to Florida from South Africa on Saturday and so she will have a good week with them!

~This guy.

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The kids call him Elf on the Shelf, which is really what he is. But we call him Jesus’ helper. We’ve been trying to do things that will give us an opportunity to talk about God and Jesus and the reason we celebrate Christmas. However after three days of spiritual lessons, I think the kids were getting a little annoyed with the Elf on the Shelf. Last night I asked Pat to take care of the elf and he came up with this pose on the Kleenex box. Kinda creepy, right.

This morning when the kids saw him, Angel said, “What’s so special about the Kleenex box?” Hahaha. I guess what we’ve been talking about the past few days has been sinking in!

~I was so excited to come across this the other day:

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That’s right! It’s a color by number coloring book! Color by number is one of my most favorite things in the entire world. I’m not very good at figuring out what colors to use on a regular coloring sheet, but it’s hard to find color by number that is a little more difficult than what a 4-year old could do.

~One of my worksheets from treatment:

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Notice number 14 – I wish I could move to Florida! Some day, right Patrick!?

~Ok, if you must, here’s one more picture of Cleo baby:

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If that doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will!

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