coffee for all

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This morning, the kids and I headed to the pediatrician’s office for Leah’s four-month well check. Leah is perfectly healthy, and it seems at the rate she is growing she will quickly surpass her brothers. Maybe that will provide an incentive for the boys to actually eat, but let’s not hold our breath on that one.

Since we were headed to the hospital, I decided what better place to continue our Random Acts of Kindness for the day? No one really wants to spend their time in a doctor’s office for any kind of appointment (No offense, Dad!), so we decided to leave a little “pick me up” in two of the elevators. I know any day that I have to haul all three kids to an appointment, a significant amount of caffeine is essential. Of course, a glass of wine at the end of the day is, too, but I thought a gift card for coffee might be easier to attach to the wall than a bottle of wine.

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When I presented the plan to Austin, he loved the idea of being sneaky and leaving a surprise in the elevator. Everett, on the other hand, couldn’t care less. He was preoccupied with that darn call button.

“Yes, Mr. Security Guard, it’s us again. I know we talk almost every week, and I apologize for the thousandth time that I still have not managed to successfully block my two-year-old’s evasive maneuvers. And, no, this is probably not the last time we’ll be chatting. Have a great day.”

Every time we leave an appointment, I feel wiped because no doubt there is always whining, crying, or just sheer ridiculousness from trying to wrangle the boys. So, after every appointment, I usually treat myself to a little caffeine. I’m hoping today someone enjoyed their own little “pick me up” on us.

“Donut” the toys

Our home is overrun with toys. My children have commandeered most rooms in our house with their ridiculous number of trucks, cars, LEGOs, clothes and more. Even our bedroom has become a casualty.

There are the obnoxiously loud toys, the puzzles that lose pieces within minutes, and, an entire fleet of ride-on toys, indoor and out. It overwhelms me. There is too much. But, slopping through it all is a feat in itself.

Up until this point, toys have only been cleaned out in the secrecy of night, and then subtly donated while the boys were at school. The few times I actually tried to pick through toys in their presence, they immediately latched on to anything that landed in the box. You know that block sorter that hasn’t been touched in two years? Yeah. They can’t live without it. And, that police car that only has two wheels, one door and a sickly-sounding siren? How could I even consider dumping that in the trash?

So, when I decided to make our Act of Kindness today about giving to others AND doing it with a happy heart, my expectations were a bit low. “Mine” is a popular word around these parts, and “Share” usually only applies to germs. To start off small, I asked the boys to each pick one toy that we could send to a child that didn’t have as much as them (and, a single Matchbox car did not count). After talking about what it meant to donate (No, Everett. Not donuts.) and being grateful, I was shocked how eagerly Austin began picking toys to give. For fear that he didn’t fully comprehend the idea here, I reiterated that we were giving them to another child and we would no longer have them in our home. Still cheerful, he selected a spaceship, while Everett chose a stuffed animal from his mass pile. I applauded their selections and dropped them in with the rest of our donation lot.

As I began loading boxes into the car, I noticed Austin eyeing the spaceship. He looked at me, and I knew he had changed his mind.

“Um, Momma. I think I want to play with my spaceship,” he said.

I asked him if he was sure, and he was. Very sure. But, he would have to choose another toy to give away. Without hesitation, he replaced it with a tractor and a dump truck. Two for one. I guess he really did want that spaceship.

Before any other substitutions could be made, we drove to the local family services center. Along the way, I fielded more questions from the kids about what it means to donate. Of course, all Everett heard was “donut” so I listened to him chanting that on repeat for the duration of the drive. But, Austin seemed genuinely interested.

I’m not going to lie. This is about the time I was congratulating myself on a job well done teaching my children a valuable life lesson, and, at least one of them seemed to embrace the concept. Success. I was ready to pat myself on the back. As we drove away, Austin’s little voice traveled through the car. “Are we going to buy new toys now?” **Smack my head**

Maybe we don’t quite understand what just happened. But, hey, it’s a start. Let’s try this again.

Day Two: Just Smile

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Today’s act was all Austin. Without any prompting, he came up with the idea to draw smiley faces on the sidewalks around our neighborhood. I love it.

We drew dozens of smiley faces and placed a few cheerful messages along our path. And, of course, let’s not forget a little original artwork that strayed from the initial plan.

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We planned to hit some of the major sidewalks through the neighborhood, but, ultimately, only made it down our street. Unfortunately, Everett was having a rough day, and it didn’t take long before he gave up on our walk. I carried him while he rested on my shoulder, and I pushed Leah in the stroller for a bit farther while Austin sprinkled the sidewalk with smiles. But, carrying 27 pounds of dead weight in 90 degrees gets old fast. So, we had to abandon our mission.

At least, we were able to spread a little cheer on our street. Perhaps, tomorrow, it’s time to leave the neighborhood.

Day One: Happy Mail

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We kicked off our Acts of Kindness close to home with a letter and pictures for our mailman. We decided to write a “thank you” note, as well as leave something special for him. I asked the boys what we should leave with the note. I wholly expected overwhelming responses of cookies and candy because that’s the answer to everything in my children’s world. But, the first response? “I have a good idea,” Austin said. “Let’s get him a puppy.” Hmm… Who wouldn’t want a puppy in a mailbox? Maybe not so much.

When I gave the veto, Austin took a more realistic turn and volunteered making pictures for him. Everett chimed in with “PAINT! PAINT!”

So, that’s what we did:

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Each boy painted a special picture just for the mailman. We tied them up with our “thank you” note and left it in the mailbox.

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For the next three hours, the boys pinged back and forth every five minutes to see if the mailman had arrived.

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Amazingly, Austin caught that split moment when he pulled in front of our house, and I have never seen a bigger grin on that child’s face. It thrilled him to know the mailman received our little surprise. He is already asking what we are going to do tomorrow. Day One. Success.

finding joy

Joy

We are about a month from Everett’s heart surgery. Despite my best efforts, it inevitably creeps into my mind each day. My stomach stays in knots, and rarely do I end a day without a pounding headache. I’m not ready for this again.

I look at my precious child with his big brown eyes, his mess of hair and that mischievous grin he wears all too frequently. It’s impossible to believe this is where we are again. But, it’s hard to ignore.

We escaped reality for a week at the beach, and we arrived home this weekend. As I began unpacking our clothes, I haphazardly knocked my jewelry box and a small necklace toppled to the floor. I knelt to retrieve it and stayed there. This necklace. This special little necklace. “Find Joy in the Journey” is all it reads. A sweet friend gifted this to me during Everett’s surgeries last year. And, it immediately made me recall this verse.

“Consider it pure JOY my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2

Pure Joy. Instead of allowing the dread of this month to consume us, we are going to persevere and focus on Joy, one preschool-sized act at a time.

Our mission over the next month will be a “Random Act of Kindness” each day, spearheaded by the four- and two-year-old (and, maybe a little help from Mom.) Obviously, this isn’t an original idea, and it won’t be anything earth shattering, but it is something that could potentially invoke a smile in someone that just might need it. And, that is good enough for me right now.

It’s too easy to dwell on the pain and heartache in this life. Instead of focusing on ours, we intend to sprinkle a little love here and there, and maybe in the midst of it all, we’ll find our JOY in this journey.

let’s try this again

Oh, my dear blog. How I have purposely neglected you for so long. I have found it difficult to leap back in without addressing the last year. Several failed attempts and still nothing. There are too many ugly things that I didn’t want to face. I’ve been waiting for an ample amount of time to pass to where I would no longer feel so vulnerable and could continue writing as if nothing occurred. But, here, a year later, I find ourselves smack back in the midst of it all. I realize I can’t truly avoid the realities of life.

I find myself contentedly writing about both the good and the bad, but, the ugly… well, I can’t seem to face those words on paper. And, Everett’s heart surgeries, well, those make up the majority of my ugly. I don’t like to talk about it. I don’t like to write about it. Because, frankly, it turns me into a blubbering mess. But, here I am, and I guess I’m going to face it… another day.

To get back into the swing of things, in a nutshell…. a very tiny nutshell…. here’s our last year:

Surgeries for Everett, new baby girl, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Colorado, a ridiculous number of absurdities (that may be revisited in another post), crammed schedules, plenty of smiles, lots of laughs, too many tantrums, and a lot of love.

take it for a spin

I want a pretty laundry room. Pinterest told me I should… and could. Colorful walls, a delicate chandelier, granite counter, coordinating baskets and custom artwork. Pinterest has brainwashed me to believe I should be shoveling mounds of clothing in and out of machines in a state of luxury.

And, frankly, I like that idea. I mean, I am averaging 1,000 loads of laundry each year. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to liven up a daily drudgery. So, when Philip presented the idea of removing the bulky stands beneath our machines and replacing the tops with a beautiful countertop, I was intrigued.

My laundry room could look like this…

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Or, this…

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Or, even this…

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I could do laundry in pretty. {Oh, how my wish list has changed.}

But, then, I snapped back to reality. I realized that without the stands, little hands could reach all those irresistible buttons and easily crawl into open machines. This could only end in disaster. Horrifying thoughts of Austin shoving little brother into the washing machine flashed through my mind. Oh, no. No. No. No. This would not work. Knowing our boys, this would absolutely happen.

As time has passed, the thought of ditching the stands occasionally creeps back into my head. Usually, it’s when I’m waist deep in stinky little boy clothing. But, as of last week, that thought is squelched for good.

A few mornings ago, Austin “slept in.” And, when I say “slept in,” I mean he came into our bed at 6 a.m. and continued to sleep soundly with his arm in my face until 8 a.m. He even slept through Everett’s wailing grand entry into the mix slightly before 7 a.m. This is considered sleeping in at our house.

Anyway, because extra sleep rarely never happens here, this threw off our entire schedule of getting out the door on time for Mother’s Day Out. So, we scrambled and hurried, and I did my best to make sure everyone was presentable.

Austin was moving extra slow that morning, so I helped him along. I spent two minutes getting him ready. TWO minutes. When I finished, I scurried off to find Everett who had quickly and quietly left the scene. This is where I found him…

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TWO MINUTES! Two minutes, and my one-year-old has sprinted across the house and climbed halfway into the washing machine. I mean, really? Are you kidding me?

He was a shove away from being sent through a wash cycle by Austin. Sheesh. Never getting rid of the stands. In fact, we may need to investigate double stands. Do they make those? Of course, knowing our children, they’ll probably still scale it like a rock climber.

On belay.

splat went that


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We spent Saturday morning at the arboretum with the kids and Philip’s parents, who were in from out of town. The day was beautiful. The sun was shining, a slight breeze kept the heat at bay, and the colors of the flowers were vibrant. We followed the trails in and out of perfectly manicured landscapes and fantasized about our own yards looking the same.

Not far ahead on our route, two older couples had stalled in the walkway. They appeared to be studying something in their path as one of the women lectured. It was a caterpillar – black, fuzzy, and long. Apparently, it was notable in its nature. The woman had dubbed herself guardian of this fragile creature and marked her post. She was determined to see this caterpillar safely across the trail.

Cue Austin. Austin and I brought up the rear of our own little group. I worked on corralling him along the path as he skipped, zig zagged, and took every opportunity to hang over the barrier separating us from the creek. We reached the convoy surrounding the caterpillar, and Austin quickly maneuvered around them and decided to make a swift side step back in.

“Watch out for the…” SPLAT.

Silence filled the air, followed by horrified expressions and subtle giggles. Austin glances at the little group as if to say, “You’re welcome,” and, then, marches along his way. The sweet innocence of a child.

I looked down at the splat, smiled sheepishly, avoided eye contact, and unsuccessfully attempted to stifle my laughter. Oops.

I half expect to see a “Caterpillar X-ing” and, perhaps, a few “Save the Caterpillars” signs next time we visit the arboretum in honor of the one stuck to the bottom of my child’s shoe.

But, the truth is, I’m kind of impressed with how effortlessly he smashed a bug almost as long as his own foot. It looks like this Momma will never have to squish an insect ever again. Win.