Coach Lincoln

I recently realized that I forgot to blog a pretty important milestone in Lincoln’s life that happened back in November and December. My not-so-little-anymore little boy played his first organized sport. When Mike and I were first married, long before Lincoln was a part of our world, we used to talk about the day when our son would play baseball. Little League was a big part of Mike’s childhood, and I love hearing his stories about all the years he played. To see Lincoln out on that field after all the times I had daydreamed about that moment before he was even born and when he was a baby was a pretty sweet mom moment.

That tender moment only lasted a short while and then the reality of the situation set in. My three-year-old was going to need to listen and follow directions and stand still. Yikes. Most little boys are active and hyper, but I sometimes feel my kid got an extra dose of wild. The whole scene was pretty crazy with three and four-year-olds tackling each other in what became full contact T-ball. While most of the kids seemed to catch on as the season progressed, Lincoln really struggled with all the waiting involved in T-ball. Wait for your turn to bat, wait for a ball to come your way in the outfield. Waiting is not really his forte. At any given moment he could be seen playing dead in the outfield, running off the field to tell me something, clutching his glove in his teeth and shaking his head violently like a dog, or just having a crying meltdown. It was an adventure, and I was exhausted at the end of every game from attempting to keep him under control. At least he ended up being pretty good at batting when it was his turn. He gets his athleticism from his daddy for sure.

My favorite moment of the season is funny now but was embarrassing at the time. Lincoln suffers from first child syndrome, and is pretty bossy at times. He thinks he’s 13 instead of 3. Since he didn’t enjoy being treated like one of the kids being made to stand still and wait his turn, he decided he would be a coach and tell people what to do instead. He went up to the real coach and said very seriously, “I’m a coach too now. You can call me Coach Lincoln.” Clearly he gets his bossiness from Mike!

Everyone enjoyed our family’s first foray into organized sports, but it was a little overwhelming, and we think we’ll take some time off and let Lincoln get a little older before tackling something like that again. We should probably try soccer or something more fast paced that will exhaust Lincoln more than mom and dad next time!

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He loved the huddles.

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Racing his buddy and teammate, Parker, to second base instead of staying on first. Pretty sure that’s not how you do it, Linc.

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Isn’t that tongue hanging out concentration the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?

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Post-game snacks might have been his favorite part of the sport.

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His first trophy!

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Obligatory cheesy team pics. Pretty painful for this photographer momma.

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Deepest Waters

Forgive me if my little blog detours for a bit into foster parent talk. Our world has been turned upside down, and this is kind of the focus of our lives right now.

Even though it took us nearly six months from orientation to receiving a license to become foster parents and we attended hours of training, nothing could have prepared us for the intensity of those first few days. My phone rang in the middle of the night, and through my sleepiness I agreed to meet the investigator to pick up two babies. I’ll never forget baby girl’s little face as the investigator put her into the car seat. She seemed nervous, but not nervous enough for a little one who was being put into a stranger’s vehicle in the middle of the night. She stared at me intently the whole ride home, never making a sound. The emotions got the best of me and I began to cry thinking of these babies and the trauma they had experienced. There were no family members or family friends that could take them. The magnitude of that hit me hard as I imagined the fight that would ensue between all of our relatives over who would take Lincoln should we be unable to care for him. And these babies had nobody. It was entirely too much for my momma heart to handle.

At some point, without any prompting from me, baby girl started calling me mama. My heart swelled at the thought that she felt loved and safe and comfortable enough to refer to me that way. At the same time, an unexpected pang of grief struck me. As sweet as it was, it wasn’t what was meant to be. In a perfect world, this little one would be with the one who gave birth to her. As a mom, I felt heartbroken for her mother that this precious baby was here calling me mom instead of her. I know mom made her own choices that lead us to this place, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a sad situation for a child to be separated from his or her family.

Every day of this journey has been filled with beauty and with sadness. So much uncertainty surrounds the lives of these children. Every day has been a varying degree of crazy as we’ve adjusted to life with 3 young children. Every day, despite the strong urge I sometimes feel to curl up in the fetal position and cry because of the madness, these babies feel more and more like they belong here. The thing is that they probably don’t belong here. They’ll probably end up back with family at some point. The feelings I have for them have taken me by surprise. I didn’t give birth to them, but when you feed them, dress them, bathe them, cuddle them day in and day out, your brain says they’re not yours, but your heart doesn’t get the memo. I am reminded that choosing to love them is a choice to have my heart broken. I want so badly to be selfless enough to make that choice and to put the needs of these children above my own feelings. I guess in some ways it’s a testament to the beauty of love and family that we can feel this much for them in such a short time.

I think of the song we sing at church that says, “Your grace abounds in deepest waters,” and I pray that we find that to be true. That God’s grace will be enough in this situation. Because she calls me mama, and he reaches for me with a grin when I walk in his room every morning. And my heart doesn’t remember that they’re not mine. I find myself swimming in some really deep waters, praying for God’s grace, and praying for the absolute best outcome for these babies, whatever that might be.

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Risk Taking 101

Being in your late twenties is a funny thing. For me it’s been a time to reevaluate life with the benefit of a few years of experience as a guide. I’ve asked so many questions about things I would have just accepted as fact before. The combination of becoming a mom, walking through such a scary situation with Mike’s health, and just growing a bit wiser have changed me so much.

This time last year I read two books that would prove to change the path of our little family’s life. I squirmed as I turned the pages and realized that even though I thought I knew what it meant to be a good person and to be a Christian, I was guilty of watering down Christ’s message and somehow I had melded it into living the “American Dream.” These words jumped off the page for me:

“The careful study of the Word has a goal, which is not the careful study of the Word. The objective is to discover Jesus and allow Him to change our trajectory. Meaning, a genuine study of the Word results in believers who feed poor people and open up their guest rooms; they’re adopting and sharing, mentoring and intervening. Show me a Bible teacher off mission, and I’ll show you someone with no concept of the gospel he is studying.” (Jen Hatmaker from the book “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.”)

I didn’t see that active lifestyle of service in myself. I saw someone who went to church and gave money to good causes, but I didn’t see myself making real sacrifices for people around me. I realized that as I was growing older, I really truly wanted my life to mean something. Excessive stuff and wealth started to gross me out instead of entice me. As much as I had thought I was different, there I was creating an average, middle-class American life for myself. And it pretty much made me feel sick. So I kept asking questions and wondering how I could possibly shift my life to be less about me and more about others. Of course I had my excuses. I’m so busy. I’m a mom. I have a business to run. Maybe when Lincoln is older I can do something. But then these words cut through my list of justifications:

“Saying ‘I meant well’ is not going to cut it. Not with God screaming, begging, pleading, urging us to love mercy and justice, to feed the poor and the orphaned, to care for the last and the least in nearly every book of the Bible. It will not be enough one day to stand before Jesus and say, ‘Oh? Were you serious about all that?’” (Jen Hatmaker from the book “Interrupted”)

The thought of living that typical American life where we seek material things, pleasure & just looking out for ourselves kept nagging at me. It wasn’t for me. I wanted to be different. So we prayed. And we prayed some more for nearly a year. At some point I realized  it was time to stop talking about being different and actually do something to get me towards the life I was after. I saw this quote online. “We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” I knew it was time to take the first steps, although I’m pretty sure Mike thought I had lost my mind. He’s an inside-the-box thinker who appreciates simplicity and order, while I’m more outside-the-box who appreciates a healthy dose of adventure. We went to an orientation and we listened to the stories of the kids and the foster families. I sat there with tears streaming down my face knowing that this was the hard work God was asking us to do. Amazingly, Mike agreed. We came to realize that people who accomplish great things don’t choose the easy road. They don’t have neat, orderly lives. They take risks and they let their lives be messy. As much as there is a part of me that longs for the easy way out, I know that’s no way for me to live, and it’s certainly no way to have an impact on people around me or to answer God’s call to care for the least of these. And really, that’s what I want to be about. Not about just being happy or just seeking a life of wealth, ease or pleasure like society tells us to do. I want to live an adventure. Not the kind of adventure that only serves my own desires. I’m not talking about jumping out of airplanes or just adventure for the sake of adventure. I’m talking about letting my life get a bit less orderly and a bit more complicated and making myself step outside of my comfort zone for the sake of people.

So we made the commitment. Not just a commitment to become foster parents, but to make people and relationships the focus of our lives. To make sacrifices and to not choose the path of least resistance. Mike & Lincoln take precedence, but after their needs are met, I’ve started saying yes to people. Yes to making dinner when a friend needs a hand even though I’m busy. Yes to babysitting when someone’s in a bind even though I have my own child (and now 3 children) to care for. Yes to chatting with a neighbor who has had a bad day even though my to-do list is waiting. I say no to busyness for busyness’s sake, but yes to people and to loving the ones that cross my path and yes to building real relationships, because that’s really the only thing that matters when it’s all said and done. The past year has been one of the greatest, most liberating, most joyful ones of my life, and I know it’s due in part to our decision to look at life a little differently than we did before.

We said yes again in the middle of the night when the call came that two kids needed a temporary home. It’s been beautiful and heartbreaking and terrifying and it’s taken me so far from my comfort zone I can’t even see that thing anymore. I am downright exhausted, but I look at those little faces and I know that it’s worth it. My being inconvenienced seems so inconsequential in light of what the kids who come to foster care have experienced in their short lives.

For now, this is our path. This is the way we are choosing to use our lives to serve. I don’t know if we’ll do it for a year or for twenty years, but for the time, this is our calling. It’s certainly not an easy path, and it’s not for everyone, but I have asked God to help me be willing to do the hard things. So here we are. Taking big risks and praying for big rewards. Hoping that the simplicity of changing diapers, rocking babies, mitigating fights over toys, and giving dozens of hugs translates into something beautiful and something meaningful.

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“As we experience in marriage, love is a commitment. It isn’t always about what feels good or easy. It perseveres, hopes, and trusts even when times are hard. Especially when times are hard. That’s when the emotions run out and foster mom love looks like changing diapers and sleepless nights and going to meetings and dealing with unpredictable court decisions and teaching someone to eat their broccoli who has never seen a green vegetable before. It short, it looks like being the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting child, a family in crisis, a broken system.” -Maralee, foster mom

Songs of Defiance

It’s no news to anyone who has met my son that he is the definition of “strong willed.” I sometimes think his mission in life is to drive me crazy. I overhear him giving commands to Peanut, and I’m pretty sure it’s just so he can feel that he has exerted some form of authority over someone. First child syndrome much?

As parents to this assertive child, we are constantly trying to give him some options so he feels he’s in control of something but at the same time trying to make sure he realizes he has to listen to us. It’s not an easy task. The other day he told us that he is the boss. I calmly replied that he actually isn’t the boss, but mommy & daddy are the ones in charge. He got quiet for a second and then said, “Okay, you’re the big boss, but I’m the little boy boss.” Ummm, no. That’s not a thing, Lincoln.

Since he often gets in trouble for verbally defying us, he has recently turned to songwriting as a form of expression. I call these his “songs of defiance” or “odes of insubordination.” The other day I heard him singing in his bedroom, “I looove you, but I just can’t pick up my toyyyyys.” His song about not cleaning his room. This morning he was in the other room playing and singing, “Who’s the boss? I’m the boss. Lalalala.” I guess he assumes if he sings the things he wishes he could say in a happy tone he can’t get in that much trouble. Boy, do I have my hands full with this one. When I feel like I’m losing it, I usually start saying, “He’s intelligent. He’s strong. He’ll be a leader and not a follower when he grows up.” While his personality may be a benefit in the future, for now…..pray for me.

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Christmas 2013

Is it just me or did the second half of 2013 fly by at a ridiculous pace? I missed blogging so many things, including a wonderful trip to West Virginia, Thanksgiving, and NYC. To catch up or not to catch up….We shall see.

Back to Christmas. Each year is a little more fun with Lincoln as he gets older and can really get into the fun of all the festivities. He has loved saying, “Merry Christmas!” everywhere we go.

This boy melts my heart. Getting ready to visit family on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve at his grandparents’ house.

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He was given a fire truck that belonged to his daddy many years ago.

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Love these two.

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If I’m lucky enough to live to be an old lady, I imagine that the images of my baby in his flannel pajamas jumping up and down as he opens presents on Christmas morning will be among the sweetest memories I’ll have in life.

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Can you tell he gets basically no attention from my family? Opening his gift from Mimi & Papa.

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Playing with his Sonic from Uncle Tyler & almost Aunt Laura. Those two stayed with us this week, and Lincoln was beyond thrilled to spend so much time with them. Any time they left to visit other family & friends, he whined and moped around.

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My grandparents. Dad’s parents and mom’s mom. (Plus one of my grandma’s friends)

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Annual in-front-of-the-tree photo with the love of my life.

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Grandpa striking his goofy pose.

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My sweet grandma. I miss her a lot, and don’t get to see her often enough.

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We were lucky enough to have some friends join the family gathering. Love these guys.

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Salas men.

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A Few Days In The City By The Bay

Earlier this month we took a little trip across the country to California for a few days in the City By The Bay. It was Mike’s first time in California and only my second, although my first trip was to San Diego, which is quite different from San Francisco! My mom had a business trip there and asked if we wanted to come along with her & my dad. You don’t have to twist my arm to travel, so I said we would definitely come. I’m terrible at keeping secrets, but I managed to keep my mouth shut for months and made this a sort of anniversary surprise for Mike. Believe it or not, this is the first trip without Lincoln that Mike & I have made since he was born 3.5 years ago. It was long overdue. He’s had many sleepovers with his Mimi and his aunts, but we’ve never both been away from him for more than a night. This is where I give a little blog shout out to Lincoln’s amazing aunties for taking such good care of him and making this trip possible for us. Thanks, ya’ll!

Here’s a little peek at our trip.

View of the city from Alcatraz.

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Creepy Alcatraz hospital area for the inmates.

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Can’t go to San Francisco without riding the cable cars. Mike confessed that he has always wanted to hang off the back of a garbage truck while it went down the road. He said hanging off of the cable car was close enough. He was super excited.

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I have no idea what Mike is doing here, but it made me laugh, so I included it.

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On the way up to Muir Woods.

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Redwoods. So, so beautiful.

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Mike hiking up the mountain. Something most people think nothing of, but for me, I was in awe as I watched him climb with me. It was a pretty intense hike at times. He literally could not have done this before his transplant. Just another moment where I feel so thankful for where he is today.

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View from the top. The Pacific Ocean is way off in the distance.

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Sunset by the Golden Gate Bridge.

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The Mission District is known for their murals. It was fun to walk up and down the alleys checking them out. Also, the Mission District is known for having great Mexican food. We ate at a tiny hole-in-the-wall place with amazing homemade tortilla chips, fresh salsa….oh my. So good.

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We stopped by the Full House house just because, well why not? I spent many hours as a kid watching that show. You got it, dude.sf3

My absolute favorite thing was Land’s End. If you go to San Francisco, go there! It’s a looong ride on bus 38, but it’s so worth it. If I lived in San Francisco, you would find me at Land’s End on a regular basis. The rocks, the ocean, the view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Wow.

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Thanks to my mom & dad for inviting us along. It was fun to spend some time together with them and then also have some alone time with Mike while we each did our own thing. It’s really difficult to take no-kid trips, so Mike & I will cherish this one and hope it holds us over until the next getaway. Hopefully it’s not another 3.5 years away!

A Few San Francisco Recommendations:

Hotel Triton – I wanted to find some place fun to stay that would be close to the hotel my mom & dad were staying at for the conference. We loved this place. It’s just steps away from the gate at the entrance to China Town. The area was really convenient and had tons of restaurants and shopping nearby. Also, free wine reception in the lobby each night from 5:00-6:00. Sign me up.

Hops & Hominy – This restaurant was close to the hotel and was actually started by some people from Ocala! They did Southern food right. It was kind of funny to be eating Southern goodness on the West Coast. The homemade corn bread in the cast iron skillet and the buttermilk fried chicken with a hint of jalapeno….yes please.

Salito’s Crab House – Great little restaurant in Sausalito with yummy fresh bread and great views of the harbor.

El Farolito – Nothing fancy about this hole-in-the-wall local restaurant, but ya’ll, I don’t mess around about my Mexican food. This was authentic and downright delicious. Also the cheapest meal we ate all week!

R&G Lounge – I’m not a fan of Chinese food, but the rest of our crew is and they said this restaurant was great. I just get chicken fried rice at every Chinese restaurant, so you’ll have to take their word for it and not mine. Definitely a place for locals. I think we were the only tourists there.

Alcatraz – If you want to see Alcatraz, buy your tickets in advance. They sell out often.

Land’s End and Muir Woods – Just go there! So beautiful. You’ll need a car to get to Muir Woods, but it’s worth it. Land’s End can be accessed by the city buses (Bus 38). Some of the 38 buses drop you right out front of the park entrance, but we ended up on one that dropped us at the VA hospital. Luckily it was a quick walk from there. It’s quite a long bus ride, but oh the views.

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A few years into marriage, I stopped watching chick flicks. Occasionally I’ll indulge, but it’s rare. I remember being an emotional teenager and hanging on to every word of these romances where passionate kisses in a rainstorm was depicted as the picture of love. It’s not that I’m jaded now, it’s just that I’ve come to see these movies for what they really are, and that’s fiction. The story always ends immediately after the man and woman have put aside some difference and decided to become a couple, or it ends immediately after the wedding. Let’s be honest. That’s just the beginning of a love story, and that’s the easy part. It’s easy to fall in love. I’m not impressed by seeing people fall in love, but I am impressed by seeing real life people stay in love and build a life together. Call me an old lady, but after nine years of marriage,  shallow chick flicks just don’t do much for me.

What does something for me is watching Mike walk out the door 5 days a week, happily earning a living for his family. He kisses us goodbye and without a complaint he’s off to face another day. On the days he comes home and the house is a disaster and I’m frazzled and apologizing for the chaos he just walked into, he smiles and tells me my job is to take care of our son, not to keep a perfect house. He’ll ask me what we did together and when I tell him we went to story time or the park or made a craft together, he’ll gently remind me that these things are the reasons I chose to stay home as he starts picking up or vacuuming or putting away dishes. What moves me is seeing the relationship he’s so purposefully built with our little boy and watching the two of them hug and wrestle and play. To hear him say, “You’re beautiful,” and know that he really believes that on my worst days when I’m clearly not the definition of attractiveness, that gets me. These are the things the movies don’t show, but these are the things that really count.

What a sweet feeling to look down and see that the hand holding mine is still the same one it was nearly a decade ago when we said our vows. Our story is rarely one of roses and poems and the kind of traditional passion that society tells us makes a great love story. Instead, I find romance in being loved totally and unconditionally, in the acts of service that he offers daily, and in the simple fact that he’s still here. We are still here. He chooses to share the monotony of life with me. We walk through the boring and the difficult and the wonderful together. We are not the same starry eyed kids we once were, but we are better. Because anyone can feel butterflies for a season, but love that remains and that lasts through heartache and misunderstandings and sickness and loss and just the day-to-day menial tasks of life is rare. Love that continues when the novelty of marriage has worn off is a gift. Love that chooses you over and over, day after day, that’s what I now celebrate and what I esteem far above the two dimensional movie version of love.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

If this is the standard for love, then I’ve found it. And for that I am incredibly grateful.

Happy Anniversary, Mike. Thank you for sharing these years with me and for being my faithful friend through it all.

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A Very Hungry Halloween

A few months ago, I was looking at Halloween costumes online and having a mini pity party that Lincoln doesn’t have a sibling so that I can dress them in matching costumes & have the adorable photos to show them in the future. Then I thought, hey, he has the next best thing to a sibling, because he has a cousin. I asked Caimbrin if she was down with doing coordinating costumes, and she was. We found a few options and showed Lincoln to let him have some say in the whole ordeal. He flipped for The Very Hungry Caterpillar idea. He & Cora both love the book by Eric Carle. Sometimes when he asks for junk food and I tell him no, he says, “Because my belly will hurt just like the caterpillar?” Yep. Pretty much. We found a few tutorials for the costumes online and went from there.

First stop of the afternoon was Publix. They do trick or treating in the store. It’s nothing major, just walking around to a few departments, but for some reason the kids get a kick out of it. The people grocery shopping seem to enjoy watching the costume clad little ones, too.

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Next it was back home for a few photos. Bribery works really well at this age. You want some candy from your bucket? Smile at my camera!

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We had a few friends over for some dinner and playing outside before the main event.

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And finally, trick or treating. He loved it this year.

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We had the most beautiful sunset for our walk.

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Can’t believe my baby has had 4 Halloweens!

Baby Octopus – 5 months

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Airplane – 17 months

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Abe Lincoln – 2.5 years

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When the Internet Hurts

I’ve often wondered if we were actually ever meant to hear the stream of consciousness of hundreds of people on a daily basis. Is it really beneficial for us to know every opinion people around us have? I’ve found myself struggling to like people and view them in the same light after we became friends on Facebook. The Internet creates a barrier between us and those we are talking to, so for many, it seems that the barrier emboldens them and makes them say things they would never say while looking into someone’s eyes. Don’t get me wrong. Social media can be a beautiful thing that brings people together. I love seeing photos of my friends’ kids. I love seeing countless messages of encouragement sent to someone who is struggling or suffering a loss. Social media had a huge part in raising the money we needed to pay for Mike’s transplant, so it’s obvious I’m not against it, but if I’m being honest, there are days that the Internet hurts.

Lately the debate over health care has heated up yet again, and it seems that every day I see posts and comments and videos from my “friends” talking about the Affordable Care Act. I don’t mind a bit of debate, and I certainly don’t mind varying opinions on such a big topic, but what I struggle with is the lack of compassion and understanding that seems to permeate these conversations. It’s funny how the people who have only used our health care system to have babies and maybe for an occasional virus during flu season seem to be the ones who feel they are experts on the subject of health care in America, while those of us who have lived through the nightmare sit quietly. I can’t even count how many times I’ve read online that people with preexisting conditions, “sick people” as they’re often referred to in these debates, are a drain on the system and how “healthy” people don’t want to have to pay for them. That always strikes me as a funny way to word it since these people with preexisting conditions just want to be able to buy their own insurance instead of being rejected by insurance companies because they will actually cost them something. (Isn’t that what insurance is for? To help with paying for treatment?) I see an us versus them mentality and I definitely see a condescending attitude towards those who have been unfortunate enough to have struggles with their health. The best is when these people are called lazy, entitled leeches simply because there was a time in their lives they didn’t have insurance, and they were the unlucky ones who got sick during that time. I read these words and I wonder.

I wonder if they know how as young, self-employed newlyweds, health insurance was going to cost as much as our mortgage every month. We knew we’d be able to afford it once our businesses were a little more successful and established, but it felt out of our reach the first few years. I wonder if they know that once we tried to buy health insurance, we got a rejection letter saying that I had a preexisting condition, even though I was in perfect health and still in my early twenties. We were told to try applying again a year or two later. (We had no idea the things that would transpire in our lives while waiting for that year or two to be up.) I wonder if they know what it’s like to find out that your husband in his twenties is sick, and to no fault of his own. I wonder if they know what it’s like to struggle and to devote years of your life to fighting for his life. I wonder if they know that you can’t just walk into an ER like so many think you can if you don’t have health insurance and get treatment for cancer or kidney disease or any long-term illness. You can’t even apply for an organ transplant without insurance. I wonder if they know the relief I felt when new legislation meant Mike could get insurance through a Pre Existing Conditions Insurance Program sponsored by the government, and that meant he could start the process of getting his transplant. (Not for free. We paid a monthly premium just like everyone else.)

I wonder when they call people that have found themselves in these tough situations lazy if they have ever met my husband. I wonder if they know how people tried to talk him into collecting disability when he was sick and he flat out refused. I wonder if they know that everyone we met who had sickness like his slept most the day and didn’t work because of the extreme fatigue, but my husband literally dragged himself to work every single day of his ordeal. Every single day. I wonder if they know that he stopped to take breaks to throw up on his way to work and hid in backyards when the urge came again so that his clients wouldn’t know he was sick. I wonder if they know that he often had to pull off on the side of the road to take a 10 minute nap because the fatigue was so extreme he couldn’t keep his eyes open to drive. I wonder if they know that he was back to work barely a month after having an organ transplant because that’s just the kind of work ethic he has. I wonder if they’d look him in the eyes and tell him he’s lazy and that he doesn’t deserve to be able to purchase insurance because of his preexisting condition.

I wonder if they’d look into my eyes and into Lincoln’s eyes and tell us that Mike’s life isn’t worth the “drain” he is on the insurance and health care industry. It’s tough to feel the sting of judgement from people you thought were your friends. It’s tough to see them complain about legislation that helps my husband and millions like him. It’s tough to realize that many have the attitude that they have what they need and they’re currently healthy, so who cares about anyone else? Yes, these days the Internet definitely hurts.

Fake Camping

First before I write about our little weekend adventure, let me say that I was totally overwhelmed by the response to my last post. Isn’t it funny how we convince ourselves that we’re the only ones struggling with these feelings, but when you open up, you hear so many other mommas saying, “Yes. I get it.” I know that I addressed families that look like mine (because that’s what I know obviously), but there are so many different situations out there. I have friends who have one child because they adopted, and adding to the family isn’t as easy as planning a pregnancy. I have several friends whose marriages didn’t go as they imagined they would, and now they find themselves doing the extremely hard work of being a single mom. Then there are my friends who everything has seemingly gone exactly as they planned, but now they have to live out the daily grind of that dream of having 3 or 4 kids, and it’s just tough when you’re in the thick of it. So what I’m learning is that we all have good days and then we all are struggling. Because that’s the nature of life, and definitely the nature of life when you’re raising little ones. Some of us are being asked why our children don’t have siblings and some are being asked if they know what causes pregnancy. All of us are probably getting told how to parent however many kids we have when they meltdown in Publix. We’re all taking verbal hits from time to time, and there’s not much we can do to stop people from doing that. But what we can do is watch what we say to each other, realizing that words of encouragement can go a long way when spoken to a weary momma. That whole “think before you speak” lesson that our mothers tried to teach us comes to mind. Thank you ladies for the encouragement you’ve offered in person and through this blog and social media. I think motherhood is a journey best taken with friends instead of trying to navigate the ins and outs and all the feelings alone.

That was a longer detour than I intended. Back to the post at hand.

You know when things don’t go as planned? Pretty much daily if you’re a mom, right? Well we had been telling Lincoln for a few weeks that we were going camping with our church. He’s been before, but it’s been a while. When I first said that we were going, he said, “I GET MARSHMALLOWS?!?!” The way to a man’s heart and all. Thursday was supposed to be my day to grocery shop and pack, but instead I spent the day laid up in bed in total misery with a stomach bug. As I’m texting my mom to tell her that I don’t think I can go camping, the campground calls to say that they’re closed because of the government shutdown. So just like that, our weekend plans came to a screeching halt. Lincoln was less than thrilled to learn the news, so we improvised.

I asked Mike if he’d set up our tent in the backyard, and thankfully he was down for a little backyard camping. You know what? Lincoln was just as happy hanging out in our yard. Who knew? Now if only I could get the government to send me back the money I paid for our campsite…..Right. Wishful thinking.

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In the interest of full disclosure, we did not stay in the tent all night. It became apparent at some point that Lincoln was never going to calm down and sleep there. He was wound up. We played in the tent, read stories, laid down and looked at the sky, talked about the planets and stars…but we ended up in our own comfortable beds. Best camping ever.

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The next day, I was getting a little stir crazy after a few days of being isolated from the outside world due to my sickness, so we visited our favorite local farm. Seriously, the cutest place ever. You may remember Lincoln’s 2nd birthday party that we had here. It’s where we go every year to get pumpkins in October and our Christmas tree in December.

His first visit in 2011.

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Somewhere in that field behind him is our Christmas tree! We’re coming for you in a few weeks!

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Sometimes I look at this face and marvel that he’s really mine. Cutest kid ever. (Totally a mom thing to say, I know.)

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So much bigger than the first time we brought him to this farm.

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My little adventurer. He wanted to do the big zip line instead of the kid one. So brave in some situations and so uncertain in others.

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Just ignore the recently-had-the-worst-stomach-bug-ever and still-kind-of-dehydrated look I have going on. At least the boys are cute.

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We finished off our camp-at-home weekend with s’mores on the back patio.

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As disappointing as the weekend began, we were able to salvage it and turn it into a fun few days together. Since I was still recovering from being sick, spending the majority of the weekend lounging in the back yard and hanging around the house together was perfect. Cuddling in that tent and seeing Lincoln so excited for something as silly as a fake camping trip makes my momma heart happy. Such a reminder that kids don’t need big, elaborate events to have a good time. They really are just happy to be with their family and play outside. I didn’t even have to pack us up and sleep on the ground and be without electricity. Score.