Candy Baby

I’m not a poet. I used to teach a creative writing unit when I was a high school English teacher, and I’m sure I enjoyed the literary analysis much more than my students. But I’m not a poet. Finn’s face, however, inspires creative thought and delicious metaphor for this infatuated momma.

Sugar cookie dough skin

And licorice lips;

Eyes like blueberries

And a watermelon tongue.

Gumdrop nose and

Marshmallow cheeks;

Belly full of honey,

A pair of soft, peach fuzzy ears

And wet strawberry kisses

Make you the sweetest,

Yummiest

Candy baby around.

Socialites

The diagonal pink and purple striped leotard made an appearance last night.

Scary, I know. Especially when you pair it with ill-fitting children’s purple sweat pants and a purple belt. I wore this to several 80’s parties in college, and last night I showed up to an Olympic Opening Ceremonies party wearing this travesty. I was Tatjana with a “j,” the Czech gymnast. Joey wore his tight OBU polyester track suit and Finn wore a Baylor basketball jersey.  I’m sorry I did not take a picture of the three of us…no, not really. (Was that not the weirdest opening ceremony ever?)

We’ve had a fun week with friends.

It was a much needed girl’s night out at Cheever’s on Thursday. I laughed…giggled like I haven’t in a very long time. It takes a lot to make me laugh aloud. I wish this weren’t the case–Joey’s family laughs so effortlessly–but it’s tough to get an honest, audible laugh out of me. I was tearing up with hilarity.

Finn loves to laugh too. On his first day of daycare, the ladies told us he has a great sense of humor. I love his expressiveness and his smiles bring us so much joy.

This morning I met my college roommates for brunch at a delicious new restaurant called Flint in Bricktown. We missed you, Janie. And tonight we met some close college friends for dinner on their way home to Houston.

We kind of expected life to end once we had a baby. It’s certainly stinkier, messier, more complicated and more exhausting…but much much fuller.

Keeping Tabs

Joey washed our cloth diapers tonight. This was sweet of him, as it involves fishing them out of our diaper pails and wet bags, face averted, mouth shut tight so as not to inhale any of their toxic fumes. Once the cycle ended, we opened the washing machine to separate diapers and inserts and we noticed all of its contents were a feminine shade of pink. Joey accidentally washed everything with four red (never-been-washed) shop towels from my car washing frenzy this weekend. Bummer.

the inserts are worse

This was the appropriate culmination of a tough day for our marriage. We do argue every now and then. I promise.

Joey’s been training for a triathlon in the wee hours of the morning. But Finn’s been waking up while he’s gone since he started daycare. So this means I get to do all the early morning feedings…for both Finn and Jersey. This also means Jersey hasn’t been getting her usual runs and she’s been extra naughty. I wake up stressed. I don’t eat a good breakfast. I get to work late. I pray to be less selfish but also want my way. Yuk.

It’s easy to keep tabs in marriage (or any relationship, really). Who does more? Who loves better? Who remembers? Who unloads the dishwasher 80% of the time? Who changes the most diapers? Then we use these mental records as ammunition during arguments. I more than Joey…see, I’m keeping tabs again. I don’t like this.

We think marriage is important. So much so that we’ve decided it’s the first, most important relationship (short of Christ) in our lives. Before church or ministry…because our marriage is a ministry. Before family…because we chose to “leave” our families and begin a new one. Before kids…because we believe our children will feel more loved if they know their parents love each other.

In light of the stressful morning and because our marriage comes first, we called off our lunch plans and met at Dara Marie’s to hash it out over yummy chicken salad sandwiches and strawberries and mixed greens. And we shared a brownie. We stated what we each “needed.” I need sleep and a weekly road ride. He needs to swim twice a week and run or bike once. We developed a schedule in the notes section of our iphones, and came to a compromise.

We laugh a lot…especially when times are tough. So tonight we danced silly for 90 seconds to the itunes preview of Call Me Maybe and decided Finn won’t care that his diapers are pink.

silly boy

Pizza

Missing Daddy

Something about pizza makes me happy.

In my family, Friday nights were movie and pizza nights. My parents say Chad and I would argue over the bigger pieces, measuring them out to be sure all was fair. I would watch him like a hawk to make sure he didn’t take more than his allotment. I’m still a pizza fanatic. I’d rather burn an extra 500 calories on the spin bike than give up a piece. I’m salivating just thinking about it. As a child, pizza meant family and sleepovers. In college, it meant late night studying with my roommates. These days it means we need to relax.

Joey was gone all week at a conference in Kansas City and I was sick when he returned (physically sick…not mad that he returned), so we’ve had a rough few days. I’m thinking we’ll try out the new Marco’s Pizza for dinner tonight. Our local favorite is Sandro’s, but you have to call them an hour ahead of time because they are ssssllloooowwww. Maybe the cheesy goodness will redeem our weekend.

Socks

Finn usually wears socks in public. He has silly feet. But today we left the house barefoot. It’s too hot for socks!

I entered Target with Finn strapped sock-less against my chest, and I became immediately conscious that people may stare at his feet swinging beside my hip. God was sweet to show me not one, but four handicapped children shopping with their parents in the short hour I was zooming around the store. I whispered, “Thank you, Lord,” in the peanut butter aisle. He reminded me that we’re not alone, and it gave me confidence to show off this incredible, beautiful child…feet, shunt and all. Finn was literally staring up at me smiling the entire time. I think he was reminding me to focus on him, not his Spina Bifida.

We met an intelligent, inspiring woman named Kendall last weekend who also has Spina Bifida. She and her sweet parents have done an incredible job embracing life and identity apart from this sometimes terrifying, unpredictable birth defect. It’s been a tough year for Kendall but she continues to live gratefully–giving love, inspiration and remarkable faith. And she also gave Finn this bear.

My friend, Taylor, has such a unique perspective on things: from the invention of the mattress to living out your faith. Her wisdom has challenged me for over ten years. She said (or texted, can’t remember) something so profound once: my perspective on Finn’s disability will become his perspective. If I think his feet are awesome (AND THEY ARE), then he might think they’re awesome. If I focus on what he can do, maybe he won’t focus too much on what he can’t. If we help him find identity apart from his disability, he may not identify with it quite so much. He just may go barefoot.

The Club

Joining a club of any sort makes me feel kind of cool. Like I’m exclusive, accepted; I made the cut. Starbuck’s Gold Card member, gym member, church member, Spina Bifida Kids online member, National Strength and Conditioning Association member, Coolgreens punch card member, etc. I think this is why job hunting or dating or being the new kid can be so difficult–you’re open to rejection. Eek.

Joey’s obsessed with (ok, that’s too strong a word…) really loves the author/priest/professor, Henri Nouwen. He’s reading his book, The Wounded Healer, with our friend, Brett, in Waco. One theme in this book is that we minister to each other best through our suffering. Jesus participated with people in their pain. He got down in it with them, ultimately resulting in the cross. Through the darkest suffering He created an opportunity for the brightest joy.

“…every Christian is constantly invited to overcome his neighbor’s fear by entering into it with him, and to find in the fellowship of suffering the way to freedom” (Nouwen, The Wounded Healer).

I think there are few things that unite a group of people more than pain. Love is certainly stronger, but shared pain and suffering can create a bond between people that is not easily broken. We’re all a part of one of these “clubs”: divorced parents, divorced ourselves, betrayal, loss of a spouse, loss of a child, loss of faith, abused, unable to have children, miscarriage, addiction, disabled/sick child, mental illness, cancer, loss of a parent, etc. There is an unspoken but powerful connection between those who have endured similar trials. No two stories are the same, but when I receive encouragement or advice from a parent of a sick or disabled child (particularly Spina Bifida), somehow I trust it more. They’ve been there. I’m sure you feel the same about your “club.”

Children’s Hospital has a Family Network program that hooks up families of children with similar issues in the OKC area. This week I mustered up the courage to call our network mom. She has a seven year old boy named Dalton with Spina Bifida (same level) and a VP shunt like Finn. I listened to her every word like it were God’s truth. I choked up at the end of the conversation, when she encouraged me to always follow my gut and that I’m the best mom for Finn. I can’t wait to introduce the boys someday soon. Other parents of Spina Bifida children have reached out to us too…even as far away as Canada! We are grateful for their participation in our pain (and our joy).

Regardless of your trials or life’s circumstances, we have much in common. We need each other. I need you. Maybe you need me.

“Making one’s own wounds a source of healing, therefore, does not call for a sharing of superficial personal pains but for a constant willingness to see one’s own pain and suffering as a rising from the depth of the human condition which all men share” (Nouwen).

Superday

It’s incredible what you can accomplish when you have the day off and wake up at the crack of dawn. Humor me while I bore you with the details of my day. My superday.

Heard Finn’s whistling, snorting, stuffed nose through the monitor around 5:30am. Up at 6:00, I fed Jersey while Joey fed Finn. Breastfeeding has officially ended. I had zero time at work to pump and eventually Finn preferred the ease of the bottle. Sad about this, but we made it almost four months!

Joey, Finn, Jersey (shock collar on) and I embarked on our 3 mile walk to Starbucks. I went with a grande passion tea instead of iced coffee. Decided to meet the nice older couple we always pass along the way. They have an eleven year old yellow lab and a son in Manhattan.

Sooner Start came for their first visit today. This is a state funded program that provides free therapy for babies with disabilities until age 3. Lots of paperwork today…not much therapy, but they didn’t leave without noticing Finn is a flirt just like his daddy. We’re thankful for this program and excited to learn new ways to help Finn be smart and strong.

Since our gifted Pampers ran out, we switched from disposable diapers to cloth today. Love this choice! Saving money and the earth one poopy prefold at a time.

Finn and I met our sweet friend, Stacy, for lunch at Fancy That, one of my top fav restaurants in Norman. Brunch pick: Mediterranean scramble. And their coffee is the best.

Put Finn down for his nap.

Here’s where I accomplished more in two hours than I normally do in one day…

Inspired by my mom’s work ethic, I cleaned the house. Like really cleaned. Scrubbed the tile, dry and wet swiffered, polished the stainless steel appliances, shook rugs, etc.

Reorganized Finn’s closet. If I could choose a chore, this would be it. So much fun. No sarcasm.

Quietly created a cloth diaper station at the changing table and folded the inserts. Ordered a cloth diaper sprayer online.

Finn woke up. Yes! I missed him.

Tummy time on the frog mat. Proud of my strong boy!

Off to Kohls to use a gift card on a diaper pail and some beach towels. Jersey shredded ours into tiny terry cloth bits when she was a puppy. Finn kept smiling up at me from the Ergo carrier and snotted all over my shirt. Super sweet.

Then over to Target for more green smoothie ingredients, a Johnny Jumper to help strengthen Finn’s legs and some other boring stuff.

Made an egg sandwich with gouda on Ezekiel bread for myself while Finn cat-napped in his car seat. Not the best dinner, I know, but when Joey’s not home I don’t cook and I eat less.

Scooped rice cereal into Finn’s mouth. Messy! Snuggled a little while “burping.”

Double folded two prefolds into Finn’s diaper to prepare for the night’s urine. His little butt was HUGE. Humidifier on. Light off. Sang our song and prayed for Jesus to heal and protect him.

Enjoyed a Horizon Organic chocolate milk with Jersey while watching Seinfeld.

Joey’s home.