Take one

Let’s just say that fascination is definitely not the same as readiness. Shall we begin with a brief timeline of events from the last 72 hours?

Monday

8:30pm – set out cute jar of M&M’s, set up Elmo stool, book basket relocated next to the potty, and get to bed early – I gotta be rested up for the next AMAZING 3-day potty bootcamp. Want to get up early to get a jump start on setting the new standard and teaching my boy all the special things about going potty!

Tuesday

8am – Lincoln’s up! Here we go! Diaper comes off and we set him on the potty. He’s excited! Tinkles a bit and gets one M&M. (This is gonna be outstanding and so easy! Whoever said potty training boys was difficult clearly lied or just does not know ME).

8:15-12:15 – Timer goes off and he’s racing to the potty, just to sit there and stare at me while I read him books. All morning, he’s guzzling apple juice and eating popcorn. Still nothing. And we’ve decided he may or may not be too small for the normal potty seat. So Jay has to go to Lowe’s and figure out how to secure a brand new, state of the art, won’t slam down, needs special screws, and has two sizes to choose from seat. Picks up in between gun range trips. Such a manly thing to do I know.

12:15-1:30 – Newly named ‘Naked Lincoln’ is not interested in lunch or pottying. Keeps saying “Fie mo minutes, Mommy.” I find my first puddle in the playroom. No biggie, everyone said there would be accidents.

Naptime, with diaper of course. When he wakes up, his bed is SOAKED! Yay for bladder of steel all morning, but really?? I mean really. So diaper comes off and I make mistake number a thousand at this point: I don’t put him on the potty. Naked Lincoln went enough already don’t ya think? Well, he definitely pees. All over the leather couch. Stops himself, then finishes up in the playroom. Can’t get him to pee at all for the rest of the day.

Finally bedtime, after popsicles and more popcorn (yay for fiber!) and yogurt at dinner. Still not anything to write home about at this point.

Wednesday

Up and not excited about no diaper. I’m however, pumped to give it another shot! I’m rested again, fully caffeinated, and not reading any of his signals. He begins to resist the timer, can’t be bribed with M&Ms and here I am just being positive and consistent! Every 20-30 minutes, right?! I think at this point the only thing he enjoys about the process is getting off the potty, looking into the potty, and saying, “Nuhfing.” Wednesday continues on with very few successes, not including pooping into his hands and bringing it to me. Or wiping it on the floor of the kitchen. How special for me. Jay announces he is taking cranky Zoe to Toys R Us to spend some Christmas money, then tells me he’s leaving for two days to go hunting. Awesome. I don’t blame him. I want him to take me with him actually. Kids are bathed and in bed by 8:00, I pour myself two very generous glasses of cabernet, and crawl into bed to watch a movie.

Thursday

7:00am – OK he’s up early, and obviously not happy about it. Guess it’s time to start the day. He absolutely refuses to potty, looks at me like I’m the Devil incarnate, and I’m pretty sure he is trying to figure out a way to murder me in my sleep tonight. I think “OK let’s try underwear!” {Still staying ever so positive and kind.} Naked Lincoln wouldn’t let Grammy look at him in his underwear…the SAME KID WHO RUNS AROUND NAKED ALMOST ALWAYS now won’t let Grammy see him in underpants. Seriously????? 8:10 pees outside in his underwear. Freaks out and is now cold. Sits on potty. Nothing. Then, the day just gets better and better. Three play dates (for cranky Zoe, of course), gross unformed poop in his butt crack every 10 minutes, six underwears later, two loads of laundry, even a visit from his best friend Liam and Liam’s potty! Still wants to just pee in my kitchen and rub his nasty booty on my sweatpants. He was begging for a diaper before dinner. I just can’t. I’m callin’ it. It is finished.

I’m happy to say I’m wearing clean pants finally, he’s snuggling next to me proudly wearing his diaper, and all is calm again. We are gonna pretend the last three days never happened and try again when he’s three. Or four. OK, at least before he starts Kindergarten. If you’re in Murphy, please bring wine.

Perhaps, it’s a little confusing that his sister wears diapers and has to potty a certain way that’s very unusual and complicated. Maybe he is scared of change. Maybe he’s stubborn, or strong-willed, or just a jerk. Bottom line? He’s not ready. I want my little boy back. I want to enjoy the last four days of my winter vacation. No one lost. No one failed. And hopefully Lincoln’s got some really good amnesia.

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My Man – A Note of Thanksgiving

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I gotta give it to my husband – he is the best. Hands down. How did I get so lucky? Jay, you didn’t sign up for this life. I was not even suppose to be part of the life you planned. I was not included in your plans when you started adulting. In fact, you were suppose to end up with someone else, with a completely different family! You had no clue your life would virtually start over when you took a job in Dallas in 2003.

When we met in April of 2006, I knew instantly I wanted to know you. I wanted to be your friend. I was drawn to your sense of humor, your wit, your athleticism, and your carefree attitude. That quickly progressed into a desire to know you intimately and start a lifelong relationship. But I had no idea where those desires would take us. As we approach 10 years of marriage this March, I just feel compelled to tell you and the world (well, my small online community) all of the ways I am impressed with you.

You work harder than any man I know. You can switch gears faster than any person I’ve ever known – you go from standing up for conservative values and justifying your views on facebook to painting finger nails to facetime-ing with your parents to attending every child event possible all while working sometimes 80 hours a week. You change diapers joyfully, perform all of Zoe’s medical stuff as needed/requested with such care and gentleness, taxi children without complaining, take me out whenever I ask, and fold laundry. Like perfectly fold laundry. You prioritize taking your family to the State Fair every year. You’re always up for having a good beer. You give me time with my girls. You don’t ask questions when I “need” to go to Target. Alone. And above all, you consider Hamburger Helper as a meal.

You take your family to church with such pride. You selflessly love my mom as your own. You fiercely care for your inner circle of friends. You diligently work at your job in hopes that everything you do for your client helps them care for someone struggling with their cancer journey. You are affectionate. You are loving. You are funny. You are manly. You are mine.

I probably drive you crazy, but you never tell me. I probably worry way more than you. I am probably too serious, and it makes you nuts. Time and time again you remind me that you just don’t care about stuff that you use to. And you give me extra grace when I’m dealing with things that you gave up caring about a long time ago. I’m ‘squishier’ than I use to be. I’m more opinionted than I should be. And I’m certainly just as imperfect as I always have been. But I’m secure in you. I’m safe with you. And I’m happy to know this is still just the beginning of us.

Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for honoring God. Thank you for sticking with me. Thank you for sharing our obsession of zombies. Thank you for understanding my second and sometimes third glass of wine. Thank you for treating our children fairly and reasonably. Thank you for respecting me. Thank you for fixing all the things I break. Thank you for understanding my crazy.  Thank you for watching Grey’s Anatomy with me, even though I think you secretly like it. Thank you for trying to solve all my problems, especially when you solve them in your head instead of telling me how to fix them right away.

Thanks for all that and way more. You are truly my better half. Here’s to another Thanksgiving ~ another year of giving thanks for all you are for me. 

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Reality

Lincoln is two. Very two. While he struggles with many things like obedience, being understood, wearing clothes, table manners, general being a person skills, he completely and utterly melts into you when he needs comfort. Like instantly. He gets it. He finds the nearest parent, waits for a lap to sit in, and unloads his burdens. He receives love, turns his sadness into joy, and goes about his merry little way.

It seems as though almost everyone I have talked to this week is overwhelmingly and completely burdened and weary from just doing life. It’s the election. It’s he said she said. It’s sickness. It’s marriage turmoil. It’s job loss. It might be a bad doctor’s report. It might be a secret. It might be a conviction you’re wrestling with. Maybe a bad habit. Might just be discontentment. Or pain, physically or emotionally. Maybe it’s the mundane. Maybe you’re being squeezed and the pressure is just too much. Maybe it’s loneliness. Or rejection. Depression. Guilt. Resentment.

While I am sad for my sad people, it’s oddly comforting to know I am not the only one dealing with ‘stuff.’ Our sorrows are not necessarily because we fell during a game of chase, or slammed our finger in the door, or got fish sticks instead of chicken nuggets, but our reaction should be the same as sweet Lincoln’s. We should be readily available and willing to go to God and unload on Him, as He is always available and ready for us. Nothing is too big, too ugly, too difficult, too awful, or too unworthy for His hand to heal.

Can I comfort you with these words? Shall we look to scripture for a few special Bible verses for strength and encouragement? Let’s choose to take a moment to look past our circumstances and turn our hearts to Jesus. There is some real, raw turmoil occurring in several situations right now and it’s heart-breaking, but only if we forget who is in charge.

John 14:27 “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jeremiah 31:25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

Psalm 62:5 “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.”

Psalm 37:3-7 “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act, making your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like the noonday. Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him…”

 


Precious, Lord, may my friends and loved ones find refuge in your Word, comfort during trials, healing in their bodies. May we all turn to you and find shelter in the shadow of your wings. Cause your face to shine on us! Rise up and help us. Bless your burdened servants with a refreshment that comes only from you. Be near. Restore. Right that which has been wronged. May we become desparate for You. There is no request too challenging for You. Work miracles in my people and have Your way with us. Meet us right where we are and restore that which has been lost, stolen, wounded, and scarred. Move in this place. Make a way where there is none.

Be blessed, be comforted, be encouraged, and be in awe of our wonderful Savior.

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Seven Years

Seven years. I think it’s a little ironic that I am on this little ‘7’ journey right now, and this week marks seven years since we found out about Zoe having spina bifida. This morning as I reflect on the last seven years, I can’t exactly tell you it’s gone by so fast, or wonder in shock “where has the time gone?” I can’t say things like, “How did we get here? Seems like she was born yesterday!” 

Nope. It’s quite the opposite. The weeks may go by fast, but the days are just long, y’all. I look back to seven years ago and see a tiny baby bump emerging along with thousands of thoughts, worries, tears, emotions, and appointments. I think about our precious family who gave me and Jay the sweetest last-second baby shower the night we received some of the worst news. I think about our church community of Prestonwood friends and Lovejoy family who came together to support a new friend.

I see myself in a recovery room, alone, while Jay stays with our newborn and the countless nurses and doctors caring for her. I recall the joy of holding my 3-day-old for the first time. I think about billions of appointments, waiting rooms, joyful milestones, first words, and happy birthday celebrations. It’s been an incredibly long seven years, and I’m thankful for every moment of it. I don’t have many regrets. 

But if you find yourself in a situation similar to ours, or if you’re in a valley that just looks too long and dark to find a way out, just know there’s a hope you can cling to. His name is Jesus. He loves you. He wants your whole you in whatever shape that is. He isn’t going to give up on you, and He certainly will never leave you. I’m living proof. 

🎗Here’s to our seventh Spina Bifida Awareness Month 🎗

Zoe at 16 weeks, SMILING

I’m fine.

All is well. It’s been quiet. I made no official Facebook declaration of my social media fast, but it’s over now and let’s just say it was a slow month. I was not thrilled about this particular fast, but I knew it was necessary for me. Y’all, so many Facebook moments this month. Like so many. But I refrained. I listened to the call. I gave my time to my Lord. I served my kids. I worked. I worshiped. I slept. I slacked some too. And God did not fall off his throne.
 
I’ve missed you, social media. It didn’t help that I saw my Jay maybe an hour everyday for the last month. This 30-day fast was lovely the first couple of days to really just engage with my kids, work on some projects around here, and get some rest. It was liberating to not hear my messenger pinging me all day and interrupting my brain. It was lovely to just be. I felt no shame sitting down every evening and settling in to a good book, or an old favorite movie. I had an insane amount of productivity everyday without the constant interaction with my newsfeed!
 
Now that it’s over, I’ve decided I need a little junk food for my mind. I’ve acknowledged that God didn’t create us to live life alone. Social media allows me to connect with my people from all over. It gives this mama, who is up at 4:15 {almost} every morning working out, prepping sippy cups, and finalizing lesson plans, a chance to engage with her people throughout the day, pray over friends’ spoken and unspoken needs, “like” adorable baby videos, and reach out to an online community near and far.
I also feel like it’s appropriate to mention that I still have three more months left in this 7 journey. I feel zero pressure to start Month 5 at this time. It may be a 3-day break or a 3-month break, but I won’t be rushing off to the next fast tomorrow that’s for sure. So yes, I’m fine. I’m just figuring this whole working-full-time-trying-to-sleep-some-and-have-a-life-too thing out. I’ll get there. I just may be out of pocket for a little longer. And this is OK too.

Junk

To no ones surprise, we own too much crap. If we are honest with ourselves, there is a hoarder side to us all. We hold on to our clothes from 10 years ago, piles of papers with a child’s ‘first scribbles.’ Kitchen gadgets we’ve used once. Possibly, we still have unspoken feelings of regret and unforgiveness from 20 years ago. Sometimes it’s simply snow boots we bought in Colorado for a 3-hour hiking excursion. It’s probably a very healthy thing to get rid of our stuff and just purge out the old and insignificant.  

As a family we’ve given away well over 210 items this month, and a folding table is still set up in my dining room for sorting out donations. This will be an ongoing thing for our family, as we haven’t even touched the attic. Don’t even get Jay started on the attic. This could easily be the end of our marriage, he is so upset with me and the attic!

I have watched Zoe give away 3 of her favorite dolls from when she was a baby. I teared up when we loaded up our high chair we have used almost continuously for over 6 years and gave to one of the PE coaches at my school who is just starting his family. I have felt so many feelings this month as I’ve parted with many of my possessions. But instead of feeling sad now, I’m relieved. I am lighter. I am confused as to where all of this stuff comes from and how we have any money in the bank due to all of our consuming, but I’m just happy. Clearing out crap and making room for the Lord to fill us. Isn’t that where we should be every single day? We should empty our hearts and minds of clutter, confusion, worry, and ‘our will’ every morning when we wake up and just sit and receive direction and blessing from the Holy Spirit. 

Also, I’ve ‘fasted’ from most of my closet for 26 days, and I am done. I was going to try and make it two more days, but ‘it is finished.’ We are going out for Jay’s birthday this weekend and I bought some sassy jeans for the occasion, mostly since I have none now. None jeans. Even though he would not admit it, he’s tired of my same seven outfits. 

So my closet is emptier, my home is roomier, Allen Community Outreach is a little fuller, and my heart is a little softer after these past 4 weeks. Not sure what God is preparing me for, but I “know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

I’m here and listening, God. Do what you will. 

the beginning

the kitchen junk drawer

Happy New Year

House is clean(ish). Bags are packed. Sippy cups are filled. Lunches and dinners are prepped for the week. Lesson plans are started. Kids are excited. Yep, it’s August, and school is about to start. This mama is ready. And I mean that on so many levels. I’m not just ready for routine and bedtimes. I’m ready for new beginnings.

When I left my ‘perfect job’ four years ago, I was a completely different person in many, many ways. Zoe needed a full time parent at the time, and I was happy to be the one to do that. When I stepped down from Lovejoy High School, I had no idea what would really happen. Let’s just say I was expecting something much, much different. I had never experienced the loneliness that comes with a husband who is gone 12-15 hours a day combined with staring at a 2 1/2 year old child who doesn’t do a whole lot. I wasn’t really aware of how much of my identity was wrapped up in my title as “Associate Choir Director,” even though at the time I would’ve never admitted that. I didn’t know that my calling of “being at home” would be filled with ups and downs. Guys, my expectations might have been a little off initially, but I am so thankful for this gift of time. What a precious, wonderful, scary gift I was given. I will never know what could have been had I kept going the direction I was going. But I do know that I have no regrets. God did not fall of His throne when I resigned, and children kept singing in choirs all over the world when I left temporarily.

As a result of my stay-at-home/part-time gigs, Zoe and I have a stronger bond than ever before. Not only that, my family got bigger. {WELCOME, Lincoln.} Jay and I fought and made up many times. I tried and failed at so many new hobbies. Y’all, I attempted to learn to sew. Because that’s what all SAHMs do, right?! I even bought a sewing machine. I still own said sewing machine, and it collects dust. I ran a marathon. I held little Zoe’s hand through two major surgery preps and countless MRIs and appointments. I have taken lots of medicine back to the pharmacy to be redone to taste better. I know the Target pharmacists by name. I joined a gym. I quit the gym. My cooking has improved. My confidence in the kitchen has gone way up. I have learned that Jesus loves when I spend time with Him. I have learned what it feels like to be available to others. I’ve had lots of new hair cuts. And colors. I experienced tragic loss for the first time. Cancer has left a lasting impression on me, and I will forever be changed because of the time spent with those I love most. I treasure that gift of time. I experienced (and have admitted to) feeling down and needing help. We took an unplanned pay cut. I’ve had to learn what it actually means to give grace, not just to others but more importantly, myself. I’ve gained weight and lost some too. I’ve loved hard, fought hard, given my all, and had to start over many times. I’ve learned I’m human and I live with other humans. And NONE of us are perfect, so we all need grace.

A lot can happen when you surrender your life to our Creator. When you say, “Hey God, I might suck at many things, but I’m here to do Your will.” So while yes, I feel semi-sad and nostalgic tonight as this short, but life-changing chapter of my life is over, I know without a doubt a new and different chapter is on the horizon. Our Zoe is a big, bad first grader with a new, sassy hairdo. Sweet Lincoln is just loud and proud and loves naming colors and antagonizing his sister. Jay is ready for me to be out of the house so he can actually get some work done without me asking about zombies and olympians and calories and pool equipment and broken sprinkler heads. Or singing. Honey, this house is about to get a lot quieter, and I realize that it’s not just because the kids are leaving. There truly is a song for everything. 

So happy new year to us. Happy new year to all my friends starting or ending new chapters, no matter what they are. Future students, I am so ready to see you and make music with my young musicians. Fellow teachers, may you get some sleep this week. A little rest is better than none. May we remember our kids are just as nervous and excited as we are. May we learn names quickly and remain flexible as we get to know our students, adjust to building schedules, and tweak lesson plans. I pray over our marriages, our kids, our schools, our leadership, and our students. Fellow mommies, may your good-byes be short and sweet and your tears fall after you say good-bye. You are the best. May you enjoy that hot cup of coffee (or chilled mimosa) next Monday. Alone. Not watching Bubble Guppies.

And a special blessing for Ms. “Khaki,” as Lincoln and all his glory returns to you FULL TIME this year. You are a saint. And you, Mrs. Harper, welcome to Team Grall. I hope you are as excited for Zoe and her friends as they are for you. You have been prayed for, and you are loved already.

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

I am making a way.

In June, we found out that Zoe is a candidate for complete bladder reconstruction surgery. This is the whole kit and kaboodle that some doctors referenced a few years back. Fancy word is mitrofanoff apendivisicostomy. Yep, I added that to my vocabulary this summer. I can even say this word now! I know you’re so jealous of me.

This news was no shock, given she has not responded to any bladder medication for quite some time. All the testing at the beginning of the summer actually just confirmed what we had been thinking for awhile. There are lots of types of bladders with spina bifida, and to no one’s surprise, Zoe has the “worst” kind. Without going into any gory details, we have been told she would really benefit from this surgery, that it is a commitment for the whole family, and that the surgery is irreversible.

It’s really the first time we’ve been approached with an elective-type procedure, as all of the previous ones have been necessary for her comfort and survival. So this was very hard for me to process, which is quite possibly why I haven’t told many about it. I’m a delayed thinker. It takes me longer sometimes. And I’m OK with this.

Her urologist described this as, “You’re basically giving your child a Ferrari. You wouldn’t give your 16-year-old the keys to a Ferrari so this is a commitment for the whole family.” He gave us several months to think about this, ask all our questions, figure out if we need a bowel surgery at this time as well, and plan next summer accordingly. He does these surgeries in June so there is plenty of time to recover and find the new normal before school starts. It’s a six hour surgery, and that’s if we don’t do the additional procedure for her bowels. That’s a whole nother issue in and of itself. So, there’s that.

We went home, and I stayed quiet about this for awhile. Then, one day I got loud about it. With my Jesus. I was doing the dishes and in tired tears said, “God, just heal her. Just come down here and heal her. If you were here on earth, we could just touch the hem of your garment, and she could be made whole. Why her? Why does she have to go through all this? It’s not fair.” (I’m real holy when I’m honest with God.) It was instant. I heard in a very audible, still, small voice, “I am making a way.”

Immediately, I went to look up the scripture in Isaiah.

“Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I am making a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” ~Isaiah 43:19

Well, that was my answer. This is God’s way. This surgery is going to be a new thing, and it’s going to give her freedom she’s never experienced before. It’ll be like when she was 18 months old getting in her first wheelchair for the very first time. The thrill of moving by herself, without the help of Mom and Dad.

Later, in verse 21, the scripture says, “The people I formed for Myself will declare My praise.” Friends, this is His child. Not mine. She’s a gift from Him, and He has entrusted me and Jay with her, but she is not ours. She may look like us and she may act like us (in alllll the ways), but she is definitely on loan.

There’s of course cons to everything, but to me, nothing outweighs the fact that my Zoe will be able to take care of herself and her potty needs independently! She won’t wear a diaper in second grade, which is apparently the year all kids start caring about that. She will have freedom and confidence and not have to go to the nurse’s office 3-5 times a day! She will get to take ownership in her self care wherever we are. I won’t have to change diapers in the back of my hot suburban in a parking lot because the restroom changing table doesn’t hold a 45 pound child. Next summer cannot get here soon enough.

Recovery will be at least six weeks of ’round the clock care, she will come home with tubes and stuff, and we probably won’t be traveling much afterwards. There will pain to manage and lots of learning after recovery is over. I’m sure she will have all the support she wants, and we will be hosting a slew of visitors, but there will not be a shadow of a doubt that we made the right decision. God is making a way.

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So thankful for my sweet friend, Becky. She has a fabulous store on etsy, and I was able to snag this little beauty before anyone else could.

Summer Bucket List

Let me preface, I’m not the super crafty mom-type most of the time. The perfectionist in me can’t handle messing up, and I have very little confidence in myself or the directions to things I find on Pinterest. Having said that, I get really excited to share when I attempt something, and it ends up being way cooler than I thought.

On the last day of school, I decided to generate a list of activities our whole family could enjoy during the summer. I just wanted to swim all day everyday and take naps. Jay works “from the comfort of his own home” for sometimes up to seventy hours per week, and this is such a treat for all of us since he’s currently office-ing out of our bedroom. My mom, who lives with us by the way, has a pretty amazing social life, and if I need to run an errand or have her watch one of the littles, I like to at least give her fair warning. We have a six-year-old with limited abilities, a two-year-old who still naps (thank you, Jesus), and for part of the summer, a seventeen-year-old who likes to play on her iPad and generally doesn’t care what we do.

The list was created out of completely selfish reasons:

  • We don’t always agree on the term “fun.” I don’t enjoy watching Zoe just sit and play like she would have me do all day long. She just wants to lock her brother out of her room and have “girl time.”
  • Planning ahead. I’m a planner to some degree. And let’s face it, my people don’t move quickly when I say, “Let’s go!” I need to have a clue what is gonna happen that day so I at least know what kind of shoes I need to wear.
  • Protection. I need to know which appointments to move, post-pone, and flat out cancel in advance so I don’t make all of the people mad at me.
  • Entertainment. There was no family vacation planned this summer so the entertainment was going to be provided by yours truly. By the way, it’s not vacation when they are little. It’s called “travel” when they are in diapers and need 4 suitcases per child.
  • Self defense. I know my kids well and know what they will enjoy and what they won’t. So when they say, “Let’s go to Hawaiian Falls!” when it’s 100 degrees outside, I am able to say, “The bucket list says this other really fun thing!” I know for a fact they won’t enjoy being around me when I’ve had to push the wheelchair up and down the hills of the Garland location. Jay will not enjoy my company that evening either.
  • They are cute. Lastly, there are just some things I want to do with my kids while they are little and needy and adorable, and sending them to bed smelling like bug spray and chlorine is still completely acceptable.

Each day, we draw an item from our bucket. I painted these little craft sticks (all kids love craft sticks), and I wrote a bucket list item on them. The bucket lives on our kitchen table, and we pick one every night for the following day. Super easy, kids love it, and no one gets bored. Hahaha, yeah right. {Totally stole this idea from Pinterest by the way.}

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Our List

  1. Steel City Pops (great little popsicle shop nearby)
  2. Fly a kite
  3. Karaoke
  4. Celebration Park (a wheelchair accessible park about 15 minutes away; also has a splash park; also have to be there for at least 2 hours and bring millions of fruit snacks)
  5. Tea Party
  6. Make root beer floats
  7. Bake cookies
  8. Night bowling – never in my life has Lincoln been this excited to do anything. Glow sticks, empty water bottles, and a ball. Night made.
  9. Soap Boat Races – slip n slide and soap, we made little toothpick flags for each team because we were fancy that day. Bonus, Zoe got to practice writing everyone’s names so MOTY right there.
  10. Spray Sidewalk Chalk – This was a tragic mess and was awful.
  11. Masking tape race track
  12. Tree stump tic tac toe – just like it sounds. We used a (purple) sharpie to draw on a tree stump and checkers pieces to play the game. We had tournaments and everything.
  13. Visit the local fire station – We actually picked this one during Father’s Day Weekend so Zoe wanted to pick up a cookie cake for the guys. It was precious. We not only got to see all the trucks, but we got a tour of where they sleep, cook, and we saw the pole.
  14. Make homemade ice cream
  15. Art museum
  16. Unplug day – that’s right, no electronic devices for the day
  17. Tee pee
  18. Night swim
  19. Water balloon baseball and tennis
  20. Watch the sunset
  21. Watch the sunrise
  22. Ice cream sundaes
  23. Movie day – literally stayed in our pajamas all day and watched back-to-back movies. Ghost busters, Frozen, The Goonies, Star Wars, Inside Out, Home, Despicable Me, probably more that I just can’t remember.
  24. Star gaze
  25. Have a picnic. It was raining that day so I feel like it didn’t really count.
  26. Hope Park – another wheelchair accessible park on the other side of the world though
  27. Yogurtville
  28. Farmers Market
  29. Bake dog treats
  30. Visit the Dallas Arboretum

As you can see, that’s only 30 things, but we’ve had to refill the bucket. Also, we haven’t been faithful to the bucket list. Sometimes our behavior doesn’t warrant a bucket list day, and sometimes I’m just not feelin’ it. But man, has this been fun.

Missy, one of my sisters, is emptying her son’s bedroom in less than 10 days. Bradley is starting his sophomore year at Texas Tech this month and getting his own place and all the things. I was there when HE WAS BORN. It was yesterday I swear. Y’all, this is it. Zoe has eleven more summers at home before she’s gone. ELEVEN. And it won’t be too long before I’m competing with camps, friends, a social life, an attitude, driving, a job, and a boyfriend. What in the heck. Let’s remember to love hard. Let’s stay intentional with our precious time. Let’s focus on these precious gifts that came in the form of whining, sticky, snuggly, affectionate, and growing-up tiny human beings. We aren’t in this stage for long. Embrace the crazy. Celebrate when they finally get in bed. Complain when you need to. And recognize you are their everything. As exhausting as it is, what a privilege.

It’s not about lemonade. 

Once there was a little girl…And she loved a horse. And every summer the little girl would raise money for carrots and beg her mom to have a lemonade stand. While they were apart, she would count down the days for therapy to begin again. And the horse loved the little girl…very much. And the little girl was happy. 

I can’t even begin to tell you how hippo therapy has changed my child’s life. The moments of joy and victory have brought me to tears more times than I even want to admit. And likewise, the amount of tears she has cried while be challenged, physically and emotionally, has been ridiculous. 

The therapy that she looks forward to every week, the love of hard work, the blood, sweat, and tears, the relationships, the volunteers at Equest, I could go on and on. It’s all good. And the changes in this little girl are incredible…more confidence (I mean, was she ever really lacking in this area though?), incredible core strength, flexibility in her hip joints, plus there’s always the added bonus of experts (the gifted and educated therapists that I rely on for advice probably way more than I should). The benefits of this therapy keep going. And going. 

You know what sucks and makes me want to throw sharp objects? Insurance doesn’t cover it. It’s absurd. We’ve jumped through all the hoops and still, it’s unconventional and out of network. We are basically using a horse instead of a therapy ball. The horse’s gait is so similar to a human’s that when a rider is properly seated on the horse, her hips begin to move in step with the horse. But it’s not in a therapy gym so it’s not covered. SMH

Hippo is a game-changer. Y’all, I’ve had to leave sessions and go sit in the car before because I couldn’t handle her frustration level. But you know what? Zoe goes back every single week. She wouldn’t miss it for the world. Reminds me of piano lessons growing up. I was so determined to get it right the next time, no matter what. 

Let me end by saying that this is not the life we planned. This is the road God designed for us and the road He is making straight. He gets all the glory. It’s not about riding. It’s not about spina bifida. It’s not about two parents who are crazy in-love with their special needs daughter. It’s not about how freaking adorable she looks in her riding pants. It’s not about lemonade. It’s about living out God’s purpose in our family. This is about God’s faithfulness to a random family in Murphy, Texas.

We are looking forward to seeing you at the lemonade stand. Bring your appetite.