Thursday, October 28, 2010

Throw Up Your Deuce-Deuce

"Mommy... if Jesus is in our heart, can He get out?" - Lake
"No. If you have invited Him to live there, He is there forever." - Me
"Yes, He can. He comes out when you share." - Lake
"This is true. You are too smart!" - Me
(insert smiling 4 year old little boy here)
I swear, he was setting me up.

Man, he gets me every time. Just when I think I have this mommy thing figured out, Lake throws a curve ball and I realize he might be smarter than me. He really amazes me and challenges me in more ways than one. I don't mean the challenges that make you second guess your parenting tactics - those are a given. Challenges that make you look at your life and go "Man, I am doing this life thing all wrong." Good thing God gives us do overs. Nothing is in stone, just yet. So every night I lay down for bed, I ask for forgiveness and ask that if I am given tomorrow, may I please start over. So far so good.

I read this blog tonight, that stated the very thought I had driving home from the Buddy Walk the other day. Which was, "This whole extra chromosome thing, has it's perks. More than I expected for sure. But the one major thing that really rocks is that, I love kids. I love loving kids. And Lennon will be a "kid" at heart her whole life and I get to be right smack dab in the middle of that. I get to be a kid myself forever because of her and her youthful spirit. She is like my very own Fountain of Youth." Dang, I am one lucky chick.

I know what I want to get everyone for Christmas and yes I am going to tell you so if you are family, skip this paragraph and do not click on this link!!! It's the cutest calendar ever. Talk about brightening your day every day. A Down Syndrome calendar of kids by a photographer in Germany..... I will visit her one day and I will have her take pics of Lennon and Lennon will be in her calendar for all the world to see. It's just a matter of timing and money.

OK, here we go... the blog I have been wanting to post but get scared every time I try. Like, I don't want to say the wrong thing or the right thing in the wrong way. I just want to be real, like I always have. I don't always do the right thing and I never claim to be perfect... but this is really hard to talk about. I will just be honest.

The Buddy Walk.

I was scared, I won't lie. And I had every reason to be. I knew it would be hard and I knew it would be fun and I knew it would be weird and new and exciting and scary. But, I didn't know how scary. I have to first say that I was so impressed with the 10 year old girl with DS who spoke in front of all those people, on stage, with a microphone, as if she were born to do it. I cannot even speak in my office staff meeting without wanting to cry because of my insecurities. I literally have to work myself up to it and then fight back the tears when it is my turn to say anything. She inspired me is such a pathetic excuse for a compliment when referring to her. And when they called all the parents with DS kids to the front, to stand at the bottom of the stage, I nearly peed my pants. Out of fear. I do NOT like people staring at me. I do NOT like being the center of attention, you see. I do not like being in front of crowds to stand, I do NOT like it, Sam I Am. But I dealt with it. I put on my big girl panties, the comfy ones since I have yet to lose this baby weight, and I did it. I stood there. I did not cry. That is, until the mom read it. Now you might be wondering what the "it" is.....
It started with me making us t-shirts.... Lake, Charlie and Myself... T-shirts that look like this...

And this was written underneath her picture (taken by Heather of Two Suez)...

Psalm 139:13-14... For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows that very well.

And that is when I knew.
Because I remembered this vision that He gave me on June 6th 2010:
On the way home from getting the pizza, Charlie said, "I thought of Lennon today when Brother Tom gave a scripture in his message." I said, knowing I was about to cry because I am an emotional idiot when it comes to my kids, "Oh really? What scripture and what did it say?" He answered, already having it pulled up on his iPhone, "Psalm 139:13-14... For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows that very well." I sat with tears rolling down my face as we rolled on down the road. Charlie started laughing, "Are you crying?!" I said, laughing as well, because we both know how emotional I am, "Yes!" Then, Lake said, "Why are you crying?" I said, "Happy tears, booger. They are happy tears."

I was crying because, I was picturing Lennon, a teenager, in her bedroom, sprawled out on her turquoise painted iron bed... the bed I painted for her... fashion magazines laying around, some open and some not... her radio going and her foot bobbing to the music. She is reading her bible. She is reading this scripture to herself, as she questioned why she was the way she was. I didn't picture her sad, I pictured her smiling and reassured, with a peace in her heart. That made me so happy, thinking of her loving herself just the way she was, just as we love her, and just perfectly made the way God wanted her to be.

I knew this was for me. This day was to show me my new life and all that came with it. He knew I needed reassurance. And I am sure He knew I was going to cry right there in front of everyone. I held them back as hard as I could, fighting it.... widening my eyes, moving my eyes to and fro... not looking directly at anyone, trying to think of things that made me laugh or made me mad or made me think of anything except crying. But alas, I failed. Quite a few tears fell. But none like the ones that came once we were at home, once the kids were in bed for the night, once I went into my bedroom and shut the door and laid on the bed in my pajamas in the fetal position. It was a cry I haven't cried in a long time.

I am still unsure as to what I was crying about. I am sure it was the overwhelming snowball of everything - of the future, of the present, of my past, of still thinking this might be punishment, of not understanding the blessing in it's fullest, of fully understanding the blessing in it's fullest and not knowing what I did to deserve it, of knowing I did nothing to deserve it just knowing He loves me that much. Just everything. And dang you would know it, I am crying now. It was just hard. Hard hard hard. I know all those moms felt this at some point so I feel somewhat justified in my pathetic wailing. But part of me feels guilty for being such a baby- you know, "Suck it up, Toots!"

Then there was the sheer joy of it... the joy of seeing little dark headed Noah running as fast as he could with the biggest smile I have ever seen. The sheer joy of little Lilly Kay squealing and jumping in delight with her long blond curly locks slinging around her. The sheer joy of Lennon getting any and every bit of the deserved attention she craves and loves.... smiling so hard her face had to hurt. To know her is to love her and I know her very much. There was just nothing like it. Nothing could beat that. Nothing even compares.

And every time I am asked, "How was the walk." I fight the tears still. I don't know if it will get easier... but I think it will. I mean, I never thought I would stop crying about my daddy leaving this world so soon, but I eventually did. "This too shall pass... " - I just keep telling myself that.

Then it does.... no, the tears still come, and they aren't all sad tears, "Some people cry when they are happy, right mommy?" (-Lake) Yes they do. Like today, when I picked up Lennon from her little school and her teacher was ecstatic because Lennon ate so well all day, and ate so well for her specifically. That is when you just gotta give God the props, you know. Throw up your "deuce-deuce" to the man upstairs out of flippin' relief. I am starting to see it... The light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel is starting to get bigger and brighter. Lennon is getting stronger and smarter, and she is doing so many new baby things. To Him be the Glory.

Now if everything else in life would just get on board.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Anything and Everything

"My love isn't a weapon, it's a lifeline; reach out and take hold, and don't let go."
— Francine Rivers (Redeeming Love)

What a great book. I was reminded this week of who I am in God's eyes. That in itself can be a very scary thought, depending on how you view yourself... or how you could view yourself. I was thinking back on the days I spent in the hospital... when Lennon was born... when we found out. And still it's still like it was yesterday... when I sat and cried so hard I bled from my nose. I just knew God was finally dealing me the hand I deserved. I had no ace in the hole this time. I just knew He was getting me back for all the harm I had done. All my sins bound together in one bundle and served to me on a silver platter. I wish now I could take it all back... I wish now I had the chance to go back to that time and love on her with a sensible mind. With all I now know. But the past is the past. And in the past it shall remain.

But here in the present, I look in her almond-shaped sweet blue eyes and all I see is love. I not only see her love looking at my love, but I see His love looking at me. Looking deep into my heart of hearts. Showing me things I never thought possible. Things like, forgiveness and what's really important in life. He never ceases to surprise me.

"Nothing separates the generations more than music. By the time a child is eight or nine, he has developed a passion for his own music that is even stronger than his passions for procrastination and weird clothes." - Bill Cosby

Oh Bill, we miss a wholesome TV show. It's so funny sometimes, the things I do as a mom that probably sound so stupid and corny - but when I do them with Lake or Lennon, they make all the sense in the world. I love to sing to them... even after Lake says, "Mommy, you sing bad." I sing songs he knows, like Michael Jackson hits or King of Leon, and sometimes kid's church songs and he wonders how I could ever know that song. I sing in accents from around the world and he tries to mimic me - he does a really great Indian accent, by the way. I forever sang to him about wearing diapers: "Diaper Diaper Diaper Dan. Wearin' his diaper the best he can" or about waking up, "I woke up one morning, just about the break of day... Jesus came and He touched me and He washed all my sins away!" And now I sing to her, "You're my little bug drop short and stout, I love to kiss you on your spout. I don't wanna hear you cry or pout, I pick you up and love pours out." Or when I would stand them up in my lap, hold their hips and wiggle them singing Ricky Martin's "Shake your bon bon, shake your bon bon!" Parenthood definitely has it's perks.

"Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. " - Elizabeth Stone

Today she is but a few days from being 7 months old. As a parent you can't wait to "grow them up". When will they roll over? When will they cut teeth? When will they crawl, walk and run? And when they do it, you want to snatch them up and tell them "No no! You are growing up too fast." Because you know the times when your bedtime snuggles with your booger or bug have now been replaced with late nights, standing in the once-the-bedroom-of-your-booger-or-bug-who-is-no-longer-a-baby-but-a-newlywed are just around the corner. And you just want to hide them ... maybe those days will tarry a bit longer. They just grow up too fast.

I hate that I cannot be there every second of their day. I have never understood working moms. I don't understand not having the drive to be home and experience all the firsts together. To build things and craft things and glue things and paint things. To explore the backyard and have picnics under the sun with a cool breeze blowing and a short little giggly toot slurping on a box of apple juice sitting next to you. I have this fear Lennon will say mama to one of the therapists or her nursery worker before she says it to me. It will break my heart into a million pieces... because to be honest, they see her more than I do. She wakes at 6am - I leave for work at 7am. I am home by about 6pm - she is in bed by 7pm. Two hours a day. That is all I get. And for people to wonder why I don't return texts or calls or emails or heytells.... it's because by that point, reality of my busy life has set in and I look around at a filthy house and that is when I know, I do not have it all.

"Fear is just your feelings asking for a hug." - Danielle Sanchez-Witzel, (My Name is Earl)

"This human is going to look different than the other humans I draw," he said. He was telling me about the man with muscles he was going to draw. He is so funny with his choice of words... speaking as if he were a robot or alien. I was telling Charlie about how our booger had the lady in the Optometrist's office laughing today. Partly because of his crazy messy hair today and partly because, well, he is funny. On the way home, he asked if we could go to the Zoo on Saturday and I told him no because we have the Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome Awareness.

There it is again, the opportunity to tell him about his sister and how she is a bit different... the same, but different. But I don't do it. Why? Because I don't want him to look at her any different. But I do want him to be "aware". Oh the irony. Plus, how do you explain to a little brother that there is a whole walk - a whole day - dedicated to his sister, and people like her.

It's our first Buddy Walk and to say I am a bit nervous is putting it lightly. I don't know why, but it scares me a little. Like, this little bit of anxiety and breathlessness takes over me and I cannot breathe for just a second. I guess it's the reality of the new life we have and the seeing what lies down the road thrown out there in plain view... just slapping us right in the face. I am never around anyone with Down Syndrome. I don't know what to expect. And the not knowing is scary. I do know however, there will be tears... sweet happy tears, because I know I am going to meet some of the happiest people, the happiest children, I could ever imagine meeting. Thinking about that, just brought a smile to my face.

Smiling through tears. That is about how I live life these days. I am not sure why, but I cry all the time... it's not always sad tears. Everything makes me cry. It's like a gazillion tons over-emotional tears have been stored up in the clouds of my scattered brain and now those clouds are too full. If I am happy - tears. If I am scared - tears. If I laugh real hard - tears. If I am angry - tears. It's really weird, and I am not used to it. Frankly, I am sick of tears. I want to feel normal again. But then again, what is "normal". The Good Lord knows, I have never been that. So I put on my happy face and I put on my rain boots and I say to the world... bring on the rain.

I figure at this point I can handle just about anything..... and then anything happens.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Four Empty Hens' Nests

The weekend came and the weekend went... and it went out with a bang. Two bangs actually, two ear infections smack dab in the middle of my bug's ears. Boo. Boo, hiss. Though they are all that linger of the weekend, the memories we made will last for a lifetime. A much needed girls trip to celebrate two birthdays.... Mine and Nikki's.

Relaxation and laughter are all I need to have a good time. And a new pair of boots. Make that two pair. And the Tigers winning by the skin of their teeth, yet again.

After a long wait in Car Wash West, I got my oil changed and my ride cleaned because I wouldn't as much let a dog ride in it, much less my friends. Oh how my ride must loathe me every chance it gets. It is dubbed the MILK DUD for more reasons than necessary.

And after a good cup of Joe and a shot of 5 hour energy, we hit the open road... all but screaming with delight like little girls on Christmas morning. Nikki and I drove and talked and talked and drove and talked and laughed and laughed and talked all the way to Dallas... sharing life stories and giggling at such n such and singing Britney Spears simply because we can.

Once we arrived to the big D, we had lunch, and I introduced Nikki to a good friend, IKEA. I am pretty sure they hit it off just as I thought they would. And life long friends they will be. All the while, my toll tag was sported proudly in the window like bling bling, because I'm chill like that. Oh D, how I have missed thee and thee hath missed me.

The day came and slowly went, and the sun fell on D... bringing to life the lights and the skyline I love. We headed to the hotel, luggage in tow, ready to primp and shine and dine. Though my hotel bed was a bit on the dramatic side... doing everything it could to wound us, but we made it work and we didn't complain because we didn't have a complaining bone in our bodies at this point. Why? Because we were on vacation. When the flat iron was hot and my new eyeshadow was making it's way onto my face, and we were anticipating the arrival of the other half of our all girls getaway gang.... that's when we got the call.... Ashley called, and while I just knew she was going to tell me she was downstairs in the lobby... she surprised me with, "Taryn... it kills me to do this ... But, we are lost. We have been driving around and paid the same toll lady twice. Can you come get us?" And after much, and I do mean MUCH laughter... I drove all of 50 yards to where Ashley and Jennifer were parked and showed them the way to their home away from home.

The gang left dinner to be decided upon me... so I chose my favorite Mexican restaurant, Blue Mesa Grill... I ate all the sweet potato chips and smoky salsa my heart and belly could handle. Shortly after we arrived, a friend from back home met us there and the five of us shared much laughter and many wise cracks until the waiter came to announce the kitchen was closing. That was our cue. Time to go. So we left and said our good byes... until next time. Though the night was young, alas we were not. We drove and drove and drove and drove, looking for trouble but trouble must have aged with us... and after much adieu about nothing... we opted for stretchy pajamas, sans the over shoulder boulder holders, and late night chats during a risky game of Go Fish amidst our hotel sheets. It was just what the doctor ordered.

The morning greeted us with a Starbucks in our hotel lobby. I had my usual, Hazelnut Breve. Soon after, we hit the city on a mission.... our mission? Sam Moon... And to see if there was anything we couldn't live without. I nearly bought a hat, a hat that would turn out to be a mistake, as almost all hats are. (Insert "You've Got Mail" quote... Check!) After I nearly had a nervous breakdown in Sam Moon, not because of all the girlie whose-its and whats-its galore... but because the place is similar to a scene out of Animal Kingdom... lionesses on the prowl, looking for small slow gazelles to prey on. It's amazing how a good sale can take a nice old blue hair and turn her into Medusa, the snake haired witch. After our visit to Animal Kingdom was done, we shoe shopped til we dropped... and we landed at California Pizza Kitchen with a table full of appetizers and pizza. Then we shoe shopped some more until we plopped our tired kidless, and husbandless bodies in the AMC theater for a chick flick... a sappy romantic comedy with a little bit of eye candy. And after we shoe shopped, yet again, I finally found a pair of boots that would "do" until I could feel good about shoveling over $350 on the boots I really wanted ... the boots I know will make my heart sing. High Boots Davidson, strikes again. Twice.

Then it was off to the hotel for a freshen up and change of clothes... sportin that Purple and Gold. Our friend, Summer, met us for dinner.... and we lived it up like a bunch of bachelors with chicken wings, french fries, onion rings and football. And when I jumped up screamin and hoopin and hollerin for those Tigers, my chair flew backwards and fell over, nearly taking down a waiter carrying a tray of drinks.... still, I didn't care. My Tigers won!

The next day was filled with Pappadeaux's and more Starbucks.... and then the ride home... That is where we saw the biggest rack of antlers I have ever seen and the most unattractive man on a motorcycle with a his shirt poofed out like a balloon. Many more laughs... a four hour road trip full of HeyTell shout outs, old school rap and an entire round of Britney Spears' greatest hits.... home was looking better and better... because my booger and my bug were needing my hugs and I was needing theirs.

Then I got the call, she was running fever and crying... she NEVER cries. I knew something was wrong. I have heard her cry three times... once when she got her shots, once when she got her leg stuck in the crib slats, and once when she didn't want her momma to put her down after her momma had been in Cancun for a week. She wouldn't eat and I couldn't get there soon enough. I took her to the after hours clinic where "Doctor Aunt Robbie" checked her out and told me she had not one but two ear infections. My heart broke. I knew she was in pain... she moaned and moaned and whined... but when she would look at momma and smile through those swollen eyes... I would melt.

I am home with her today, still running a little fever, and shoveling meds down... I am getting all the snuggles I can from a sick and sleepy baby bug. Just reminiscing of the fun filled weekend I had and all the memories that were made....
I couldn't love my life and my friends more. It's absolute bliss when you have those you can be 100% yourself and they still love you. Even if Nikki thinks I need intervention for all my ADHD flaws ;)
Love you girls... and thanks for a wonderful birthday weekend! 21 and holding!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Heart of the Matter

So, I woke up this morning and my immediate thought was "No matter how bad a situation is, if your heart is in it, you will do whatever it takes to ride it out. No matter how good the situation is, if your heart is not in it, it doesn't matter because you are done." That is where I am at right now.... With a particular part of my life, anyways. But, I feel good about it. I think I have shed enough tears and cared too much about things I cannot control. And finally, I am ok with walking away and not caring what anyone else thinks.

On another and lighter note, the day before that, I woke up and thought, "My life is one big spoof." And I laugh still as I recollect the ideas I have concocted in my mind ... those movies that make up parts of my life I believe are "spoofs".... Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood meets The Devil Wears Prada meets City Slickers meets Office Space meets The Other Sister meets Couples Retreat.

Today, my handsome and darling husband took off for Death Valley to root for the Tigers tomorrow. I am here with the kiddos, soaking up as much of the lovin' as I can. The day started with adorable snuggles in Lady Lennon's crib - The Bug and her big "Bubba" (Bubba because I think every southern boy should have a redneck nick name).

Then it was off to the office to start the daily grind. At nearly the day's end, I get a call that Lennon's school has flooded and I needed to leave work and go get her. Since the hubs' and his parents were out of town, that left just me ... I left work early, knowing I will have tons to do on Monday.... and headed to the school. There, I found tons of water and a cleaning truck and mad chaos in the parking lot. I scooped the bug up and headed home. Not sad at all that I actually had an extra hour or more to spend with her today... because sleep is still her BFF. I do envy her on so many levels. So after lots of snuggling and chatting with Lake about his day at Pre-k 4 and a nice chat with his Miss Kaitlyn... Booger, Lennon Bug and I headed to Fox's Pizza (because, yes it is better than Johnny's) for a nice family dinner - just us three. Lake, to my dismay was disappointed that it was "just us" - he wanted so badly for MJ and Thomas Wade to come eat with us... But when they had other plans, I vowed to make it very fun! Then, worried if I had promised the moon.

We ordered my Booger's favorite... Pepperoni, just so he an pick the pepperonis off... not sure if he really likes the extra grease they provide or flavoring? And a Fox's Favorite with no onions for me. I told him if he could eat 3 pieces he could have the chocolate chip cookie he so badly wanted. He promised he could and he made good on his promise... so I sent him to the cash register with my debit card and told him to tell the lady what he wanted. He waited so patiently in line, like a big boy, constantly looking back at me, sitting at the table with the Sleeping Bug and a full belly.... he was giving me the absolute biggest smile he had... so excited to be "big".

Then the lady asked him, "What can I get you?" as she leaned over the counter to admire the handsome little man. With his sweet little country voice he responded, "I would like two chocolate chip cookies." Mommy was proud... and even more proud when the other worker bee came around from the counter to chat it up with him while telling the other worker bees in the kitchen what a doll he was. And even more proud when the little girl wearing the Drew Elementary t-shirt, sitting with her grandma, tried to get his attention and he blew her off and her grandma said "Does he go to your school?" and she said sadly, "No."

Half a cookie later:

Another half of a cookie later:

Then Lady Lennon decided to join us, not only in body but spirit.... and full of it she is. Six months and growing. She is hands down the cheeriest little toot toot I have ever encountered. God knew what he was doing, that is for sure. She has met more milestones... Allow me to brag, if you will.... Prop Sitting - and almost sitting up all on her own, no props! And, grabbing her feet... which she LOVES. Oh the joy she gets when she finally gets a hold of one. Her ab muscles are getting stronger and her smile is getting bigger and her giggles are getting louder. She gets so tickled at me sometimes she can barely get her breath and it makes me laugh so hard I cry every single time... whether it's from true joy or sheer delirium from all the extra hours I put in at work and getting up at the butt crack of dawn every morning after 2am feedings, I don't know.

Sitting there waiting on Lake to finish his cookies, he noticed we were sitting by a large TV. It was one of those "Nature Strikes Back" shows. Lake's questions of the day, "Mommy, what is a hurricane? Is it a little bit like a tornado? It has a lot of wind? Have you ever been in one?" I did my best to explain a hurricane and a flood and an avalanche and a landslide. This was a lot to take in for a 4 year old, but he was glued to the TV.

After we got home, got the bug to bed, changed into our pajamas, and picked up toys.... He asked me, "Mommy, I was figurin' we could watch one of those shows that is like Swamp People or River Monsters." I laughed and said, "Sure." I know most kids would prefer Phineas and Ferb and we usually watch that or iCarly, but tonight was different. After searching all channels we ended up on..... "Nature Strikes Back". Then we watched "Tornado Road". He had so many questions and when it showed a greenish grey cloud that was soon to be a tornado, I said, "Oh that is pretty. Those clouds are pretty." he Lake looked at me with the most offended look on his face... as if I had said a dirty word... "Mommy, do you want to be in a tornado?" I said sternly, "Well no." He continued, "Then you do not think those clouds are pretty... because those turn into tornadoes! And tornadoes are not pretty, they are bad!" Smart boy. Point taken and dually noted.

In the middle of Tornado Road, I had to go feed Lennon. I told Lake, as I paused the TV (Gotta love DVR and modern technology), "Wait here on the couch, I will be right back." After her bottle was down and I attempted to burp her for a long while, I returned to this:

So much for Tornado Road.

This day has brought me to one last and final deep thought....
There is truly no greater job than that of being a mother... the innocence of a young mind, the laughter of a darling baby girl, the never ending snuggles, sugars, and silliness.... Nothing can compare. I wish everyone had a chance to experience this. I know not everyone does and not everyone wants to, but to those who do have this divine and blessed opportunity... do not take it for granted. Do not let a moment go by in which you could have nurtured them, or taught them, or just had fun with them. I didn't have a lot of that growing up... don't just "be" there. Own the moment. Make it unique and make it memorable. The memories you share will be what carries them through life long after you are gone.

In Memory of Ted "Daddy" Dollar (he had no middle name so we gave him one)
January 24 1955 - September 29 1988
"God took him home. It was His will. But in our hearts, he liveth still."