Sunday, December 14, 2014

God is Faithful

It's been a long time since I've posted...since August, just before our son came home from boarding school, as a matter of fact.  I'm sure there are a few people that are curious as to how our family is adjusting, especially in light of my relative silence, but I assure you there have been no major catastrophes that have kept me away from blogging. 

It's been an emotionally and physically draining few months.  Not in a bad way, to be sure, but in a way that reminds both my husband and myself that due to PTSD, we still have some healing to do ourselves.  We're also expecting our seventh child within the next two weeks, so needless to say, I'm a bit worn out.  But beyond that, I've been feeling like it's time to give my RAD kids a little more privacy as they're both working through what Reactive Attachment Disorder means for them in their day-to-day lives and in their futures.  They've made tremendous strides toward healing in the past couple of years, are participating in therapy and conversations with us about behavior and motives, and are both headed in the right direction.  I couldn't be prouder of them.

I may from time to time write about RAD and trauma-related adoption in general, but will probably not be sharing a whole lot of specifics.  I don't ever want my kids to be defined by their failures; I want them to be defined by their strength in being able to shoulder the burdens placed on them by their birth parents.  By their courage to pick up the pieces and keep going after they've lost their way for a short while.  I want my kids to be known as overcomers.

I do want to share one thing with you tonight, though.  It was two years ago this past week that my husband, my dad, and a couple of great friends picked up our hurt, angry and defiant thirteen-year-old son from Juvenile Detention and transported him to his therapeutic boarding school.  It was one of the darkest days in our family's history, especially when measured by the number of tears that fell from this broken-hearted Mama's eyes, but we knew that God was with us all, and we knew He would be faithful.

More of this Mama's tears were shed today, as I thought about what life was like two years ago.  This morning, you see, I sent my son away again, but this time with laughter and love and a hug and kiss as he and my husband left for a father/son trip to see the Lions play the Vikings at Ford Field.  My son...the very same son that was so wounded two years ago that he couldn't function at home or at school or at life.  My son...the one who is now getting good grades and is being respectful to his teachers, the one who is doing his chores with very little complaining and listening to his therapist and loves playing with his baby brothers.  The one who never passes up a chance to hug his Mama and lights up whenever he makes me laugh. 

Life is not perfect.  It never will be, for anyone. 
But life is good. 
And blessed. 
And full of second chances and hope for the future.

And we serve a God that is faithful to the end.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


We're going to pick up our son this week.

He's been gone for just short of two solid years.

And yes, there is definitely some anxiety going on behind the doors of this white farmhouse tucked between mile-high cornstalks.  Anxiety that, when left unchecked - unsurrendered - threatens to grow as thick and dense as those fields just bursting with the fruit of harvest.


How often in my life I have refused to surrender.  How frequently I have given in to pride and self-sufficiency and just plain-old stubbornness and walked the winding trail of my own choosing, believing it would lead me off into rollicking fields and a blissful orange sunset.  And how often I've instead emerged torn and bleeding, fallen into the snare of my own path.  What a disappointment I must be: a willful child that refuses to learn except by trial and error, refuses to believe that God's way is good and perfect and, while not always easy, indisputably in my own best interest.  If only I didn't need to learn the hard way.

When will I learn to surrender?

In sleepless hours, I lie and think about all the things that could go wrong.  All the things that did go wrong in the months before my son's departure.  They were hell, those months.  For me, for my husband, for our entire family.  Hell.

Sometimes I wonder about the wisdom in bringing him subjecting our little ones to the possibilities of his return.  Depending on the hour of thought and the darkness of that night, those possibilities can seem horrifying.  Too much for me to bear.

And then I think of that willful child, emerging from the wilderness torn and bleeding.  Humiliated, with no place left to go except into the awaiting arms of the Father.

He has never once turned me away.

Father God, I praise You for second chances.  For new beginnings.  For love that reaches into the very depths of infinity, and soothes my wounded spirit time and again like the kiss of summer sun on golden fields.  I praise You for Your faithfulness.

May we welcome home our wayward son with the same indescribable, unfailing love.


Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Box People

Are you a box-person?

Do you live in a world of rightness that you created yourself?

Are you a two car, two kid, one dog, house-in-the-suburbs, church-on-Sunday kind of person that never does anything uncomfortable or unexpected?  Never toes the line?  Never takes a first step, much less a second or third, from the imaginary safety of that perfect little cube you've built?

Have you ever even thought outside of your box?  You aren't alone if you haven't.

Maybe you're scared of what lies beyond the borders of your safe little world.  Maybe you're worried about what all the other box-people would think if you ever boldly stepped over the line of what's normal or acceptable.  Or maybe - just maybe - you're the arrogant one...the one that thinks your idea of a box is the only kind of box there should be, and you're the one shaking your head at the stepping-outside-the-box crowd.

We live in such a self-saturated culture that we grow up thinking that the world revolves around us and around what we want for our lives.  We're taught to do what makes us happy, to be true to ourselves, to follow our dreams, yet we also have parents to please and friends to fit in with and society to conform to and rivals to plague with jealousy.  We form opinions about things based on what sounds easy or fun or safe or exciting to us, or we simply do what's expected.  We make plans about everything, and we use our 'vast' intelligence to determine what steps we should take and what choices we should make.  In all of our all of our pride in thinking that somehow we know what's best for our lives, God and His designs get lost in the tangle of what we want for ourselves and in what seems to us to be responsible and fulfilling.

As a recovering box-person, I have a bit of news for you, box-world:

God does not think inside your box.

Comfortable box-people, have you ever inquired of God in all of your box-designing?  Have you ever given your thoughts and your ideas and your hopes and your dreams and your fears over to Him in prayer?  Have you asked again and again and again, repeatedly nailing your questions to the throne of God until you get an answer?  Have you given God the authority He deserves over your entire life?  What do you suppose could happen if you allowed Him to lead you?  Are you afraid?  Afraid of what the world will think if you do something out of the norm and all Jesus-y?  Afraid that God will break the parameters of your comfortable, predictable life and ask you to get dirty?  Afraid that He will lead you down paths that would open your eyes, break your heart, kill your selfishness, and force you to desperately cling to Him? 

Perhaps He would make your heart ache for the orphans of Haiti and plant in you the burning desire to make a home for a child that has little hope.

Perhaps He would ask you to trust Him, prompting you to leave behind a well-paying job and building your faith through unemployment, until He leads you to the next chapter in your career.

Perhaps He would ask you to move your family into a tiny apartment and to trust in His timing and in His perfect plan.

Perhaps He would ask you to trust Him with the number of children you will have, growing your faith in the same increments as He grows your family, leaving you to testify to God's unending goodness and provision.

Perhaps He would lead you to give up a huge chunk of your income to fund another family's adoption, or to assist them in finding help for their child.

Perhaps He would ask you to find a new job and rearrange your schedule, with less money and more sacrifices, allowing you to pull your daughter from daycare for a few extra days each week so you can have as much influence on her little life as possible.

Perhaps He would ask you to raise children with traumatic pasts, renewing you and teaching you to persevere beyond your human capabilities, even when the world says to give up.

Perhaps He would lead your family to sell your home and your possessions and move to Africa as missionaries.

Perhaps He would ask you to be a cheerful blessing to families in need, running their errands, fixing their houses or cars, giving up your time to serve them. 

Perhaps He would ask you to adopt a houseful of children with special needs and spend your life caring for them and showering them with the love of Jesus.

Perhaps He would call you to leave your home, learn a new language, and plant churches in a foreign country.

Perhaps He would ask you to homeschool your children, shattering your ideas of schooling and free time and hard work and daily stripping bare all your weaknesses.

Perhaps He would ask you to love as He has loved, forgive as He has forgiven, even when the pain in your heart threatens to consume you and you want to cling to your bitterness and pain.

And perhaps He would ask you to be a two car, two kid, one dog, house-in-the-suburbs, church-on-Sunday kind of person with an incredible heart for Him, just waiting for whatever He brings your way.

I have no idea of the ways God desires to use you.  He works differently in every Christian's life, and has a different plan and different work prepared for each of His children.  But if you truly belong to Him, He does have a plan for you, and it doesn't include your comfortable little box.

You may never know unless you give your box to Him.

Ask Him.  Lay your life at His feet.  Listen, grow, and wait for Him. 
And then hang on as He turns your box-world upside down.
You will never be the same.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Do Not Read if Naming your Body Parts makes you Blush

Scott and I just finished up a "Family Roadmap" class at church.  It was an awesome experience full of good information and Godly guidance for parents, like us, who are trying to raise up children in the way they should go.  The final class of the series was about talking to your kids about their sexuality.  Scary stuff, right?  And even after a whole bunch of good tips and facts presented graciously by none other than our pastor's wife, the whole subject still just kind of freaks me out. 

It's not that I'm all that worried about talking to my kids about sex, when the time comes.  There aren't a whole lot of subjects that I deem to be off-limits.  Honestly, I'm way more concerned with the words I might have to use in those discussions.  The problem is this: sometime in my childhood, it became solidified in my mind that the actual names of body parts (like penis) are horrifying. 

When I say words (like penis), I get this sort of tight feeling in my chest, and it gets really hard to swallow.

When I hear words (like penis), I involuntarily gasp, and then I get a bit giggly.

I actually *no lie* unintentionally drop my voice to a whisper anytime I have to say a word know.

So when I learned during this class that it was probably best to use actual words to teach our children their body parts, I got a little worried.  And then I giggled.

"What do you do," I asked our instructor, "when your toddler son LOVES to talk about his *whisper* penis?  You see, he's quite infatuated with it, and so I taught him weenie because I thought it would be better, especially in public, if he didn't say......that other word....all the time."

Turns out, there's a pretty general consensus that teaching the correct terminology is better.  Apparently, it teaches them early on that there's nothing about their bodies that they should be ashamed of, in light of the fact that God created them wonderfully.  Who knew?

For the record, my little son, at three, is hardly ashamed of his weenie.  It's one of his favorite topics.  But, being a conscientious mother, I decided to set him straight to give him the best chance of being able to utter the word penis (heehee)  later in life, if he so chooses.  I calmly (and privately) told him the correct word when he wanted to discuss his weenie during a diaper change yesterday.  It took a little convincing, but I think he finally believed me. 

Today, out of the third row in the van, and much to the shock of my other kids, came this sudden revelation:

"My weenie is actually a PENIS!"

Gasps.  Giggles.  Shortness of breath.  Reddening of cheeks.

"Weenies are PENISES!  Can we talk about our PENISES?"

"Well," I said, "Penises are really only things we talk about at home...and maybe at the doctor.  They're private." 

"PENISES are private.  I like privates!  Can I talk about my PENIS when we get home?"

"Uh......sure.  For now, let's talk about something else.  Like maybe..."



No shame.  I have the feeling that in a few weeks, I'll be pretty used to hearing the word penis. 


Disclaimer: If your child is in Sunday School with my toddler, and he shares with him or her this word that may or may not make you blush, I truly do apologize.  Just remember that the pastor's wife said it was okay.  :)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Super Powers

A few weeks ago, I had the unusual privilege of spending some time with my niece and nephew, who are ten and fifteen.  Their parents were attending a conference in our city, so for two days in a row, the kids came over and hung out with us.  They did a little school with us, learned how to make maple syrup, and occupied their littlest cousins while I helped the older ones with their schoolwork.  While they were here, I never once had to stop a lesson to praise a Duplo masterpiece, wipe a nose, or remove a toddler from the table.  It was a good couple of days.

We've been studying penguins, so on the second day, we brought them with us to observe the penguins at the zoo.  Because of my no-electronic-devices-in-the-car policy, I had the chance for some good conversation with my nephew, too, which was wonderful, although it made me miss my own teenage son more than ever.

Anyway, after the zoo, I found myself in a circular McDonald's booth, in a sea of chicken nuggets and burgers and fries, surrounded by seven chattering children.

"Hey, Aunt Lisa," my nephew asked, "if you could have any three super powers, what would they be?"

Good question, I thought, but a bit of a no-brainer for me. 

"I would want to be able to be Christ-like in every situation." 

The kids pondered my answer, agreed that it could be considered a super power, and then quickly moved on to choosing their own.  As the talking frenzy turned to invisibility and elasticity and the ability to shoot fire from fingertips or turn objects into gold, I sat quietly for a few minutes, thinking about what it would actually be like to be sinless.  To flawlessly live out "Jesus" in every situation. 


The true desire of my heart is to be like Jesus, and yet I fall incredibly short of His compassion, grace, mercy, patience, self-control, love and kindness.  I wish it were as easy as rubbing a lamp and choosing my three wishes.  I wish I could have my super-powers.  But I've learned that the path to Christ-likeness is long and winding, full of trials and mistakes and heartache and pain.  And then...a bit of ground gained.  A bit of progress along the way, and indescribable beauty because of the sacrifices that progress required of me.
I will never be Christ-like in every situation, but I'm more Christ-like than I used to be.  And each year, little by little and only by the grace of God, perhaps I'll gain a bit more ground.  Perhaps I'll become just a bit more like Him.

"Aunt Lisa, what's your second super power?" 

This one was tougher.  "I think I'd like to be able to fly."

"Then maybe we could be on time for church!" one of my kids piped in.

"Ha, ha...very funny." 

In all honesty, I doubt anything will ever make us on time for church, although I'm sure Jesus would be able to do it...and the ability to fly couldn't hurt.


In writing this, I'm realizing I got gypped out of my third super power!  Without a doubt, I want the power to be able to convert calories eaten into exercise.  Like eating a bowl of ice cream would count as running a mile, or something along those lines.  Yes.  That would be heavenly.  What would your super powers be?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Death by Wednesday

I think Wednesday may kill me.

I'm not exaggerating.
Okay, maybe a little...but not much.

I found out several years ago that sometimes the biggest struggle with homeschooling is actually, well, staying home.  Especially with a big family, there's always something that needs to be done, something that needs to be purchased somewhere, and someone who wants to be involved in something somewhere else.  And since we live in the middle of nowhere, every something that's somewhere else takes a whole lot of time.  Now try saying that five times fast.

Each week, we have one day that loses a big chunk to our therapist, who is one of those "somewhere elses" that is super far away.  About every other Friday, we have another day that we lose to our church homeschool group, either for a meeting or for a field trip.  Since we're already losing an average of a whole day each week, and with a million other things that we either need to accomplish in a week or want to be involved in, I had to come up with some sort of plan to prevent running around town incessantly, so we would actually be at home sometimes.  You know, to homeschool.

So, I came up with the Wednesday Plan. 

The Wednesday Plan is really quite simple in design. 
Simply ask yourself, "Can it be accomplished on Wednesday?" 

Is the answer yes?  Cool.  Let's do it. 
Is the answer no?  Bummer.  Not a chance.

Band on Wednesday morning?  You bet!
Gymnastics on Wednesday morning?  Sure!
Choir?  On Wednesday?  Certainly!
Ballet?  What?!  On Thursday?!  Sorry, girls!
How about color guard instead?  Wednesday afternoon!
Doctor appointments?  Dentist?  Portraits?  We can squeeze those in, too...somewhere between band, choir, gymnastics, color guard and church.  I've got a few hours off! 
Grocery shopping...every week!
Clothes shopping....definitely!
Visit Great Grandma?  Sure...we can throw that in sometimes, too.
Church fellowship dinner is a must.
Then children's choir.
And children's church.
Then a quick trip to the craft store, or a stop for gas on the way home.

Into the car seats, out of the car seats, into the car seats, out of the car seats *twitch*, into the car seats, out of the car seats *emergency diaper change*, into the car seats *twitch, twitch*, out of the car seats, into the car seats, out of the car seats...

Into the driveway.
Into the house.
Groceries into the house.
Groceries into the pantry.
Children into pajamas.
Children into bed.
Complain about Wednesday on blog.


Yes.  I think Wednesday may kill me.

Monday, March 24, 2014


You know that child your mother cursed you with when you were younger? 

You know the one I'm talking about; the one God, with shaking head and knowing smile, set aside for you in heaven on the day your finally-ran-out-of-patience mom first spouted the words: "Someday, I hope you have a child who does _________, just like you've done _________to me all these years!"

Yeah.  That child.  He just turned three.

Until I had this child, I thought the one before him was like me.  And he is.  Kinda.  That little boy has a big personality and has emotions (and an occasional temper) as deep and torrential as oceans, just like his Mama.  But this little boy is something else entirely. 

My three-year-old son is me in a small male body.

Decisive. Argumentative.
Creative. Musical. Entertaining.
Rarely afraid of conflict, self-assured.
Daring. Boundary-pushing. 
Happy, content.

We are strong personalities,
my little clone and I.

A few months ago, this little bundle of personality went through a rough patch with his behavior.  Unfortunately for him, after mothering RAD kids, there is virtually nothing he can do that will phase his Mama, even when he really, really wants to.  Believe me...he's tried, but I've pretty much seen it all and am alarmed by very few "normal" child behaviors.  Sometimes I feel bad for the poor little guy; he gives it his best, but when even the most impressive of toddler tantrums earns a cheerful "Let me know when you're done!" from the one person you're trying to get a rise out of, it puts an oppositional toddler in a tough spot.

So Mr. K started getting naughtier, and naughtier and naughtier.  

And I made a big mistake.  I started telling him he was naughty.

I may have said
                                 "Don't be naughty."    "You're being naughty."   
          "That's naughty!"  "Don't be a naughty boy!"

But he heard:
                 "I'm naughty."  "I'm naughty."   "I'm naughty."
                                "I'm naughty."   "I'm naughty."

It's been my experience that a child will meet your expectations.  They internalize the things you say about them, and then rise or fall to that standard.  I know this.  I've learned this in the past.  And yet, I still spent weeks unintentionally programming my little son to think of himself as "naughty."  And guess what?  He kept getting naughtier.

One day in January, I picked Mr. K up when he was misbehaving, and I said something like "Don't do that, you're a nice boy."  He looked me right in the eye and said, "No, I'm not!  I'm a naughty boy!"  He insisted he was naughty so many times in the following days that I couldn't overlook the fact that he was using my words to describe himself.  He was becoming who I told him he was!

I've made a few changes in how I discipline my son.  I don't allow his "naughtiness" to go unnoticed (or unpunished, when needed), but I've changed my words and softened them with hugs.  For example, when Mr. K grabs his toy out of the baby's hands, making him cry, I don't tell him he's being naughty.  Instead, I say something like "Oh! Poor baby, he wants to play with your toys, too!  What can you find to share with him?  You're a good sharer."  Admittedly, my obstinate toddler stared at me peculiarly when I first tried this, but he's starting to internalize that he's a "good sharer", and has started sharing on his own.  Now, when he tries to take something from the baby, I just remind him what a good sharer he is, and he usually gives it right back.  His behavior has changed by leaps and bounds, and while he's still a handful, it's obvious he feels better about himself because he's learning he's a "nice boy", a "sweet boy", and a "good sharer."  He's a different child than he was when he thought he was "naughty."

We have a tough job, us parents.  The words we choose are the words that our children will use to define themselves, and when I think of all the words I use with my own kids in an average day, it terrifies me.  Who do they believe they are, deep down?  Lazy?  Unmotivated?  Mean?  Messy?  Argumentative?  Irresponsible?  What do they hear me saying when I tell them they asked a silly question, or point out that they're being irrational?  When I tell them to act their age?

I don't want my thoughtless words to dictate who my children will be; I want my kids to believe that they are capable, fun, helpful, nice, intelligent, motivated, responsible, empowered children of God. 

I have some work to do.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.  James 3:9-10

Monday, February 10, 2014

Marcus Gunn

I have this little boy.  This rough-and-tumble, adventurous, brilliant, sensitive, kind-hearted, loyal-to-the-last, slightly stubborn and quick-tempered warrior of a frog-loving little boy.

And I have no words to describe how my heart overflows at the thought of him.

First Week of Homeschool
Fall 2013
Oh, he's the one that, a few years back, planned to marry me, alright.  Until Daddy said I was already married to him, and that he's not willing to share.  Then my little suitor settled on growing up and building his own house in the back yard, so he could just walk in through the back door anytime he wanted to see his Mama.

He's the one that somberly informed me that if there was ever a war nearby, he would fight right in front of me so no bad guys could get to me.  I have no doubt in my mind that he would, too; he comes running to my rescue whenever Daddy teases me, growling ferociously and facing even the most dreaded tickle hand in an effort to protect me, the one he loves more than any other.  

This is the same little boy that insists that he's never getting married.
"I never want to have to love another lady more than I love you, Mama."

Be still my heart.

I adore this boy.

This past week, he started asking questions...questions I knew he would ask someday soon.

Mr. C has a rare phenomenon called Marcus Gunn Jaw Winking Syndrome.  Never heard of it?  Not surprising.  Neither had we, until a few months after he was born.  It felt like a heavy blow when we first heard the diagnosis:

Marcus Gunn Jaw Winking Syndrome.
Miswired nerves connecting jaw movement to eyelid.
Prominent winking of affected eyelid, most noticeable while chewing/drinking.
Permanent condition.

Ptosis (droopy eyelid).
Possible need for corrective surgery.
Possible repeat surgeries needed every few years as child grows.
Potential for permanent damage of sight in affected eye if not addressed.

When you have a newborn baby - a tiny, helpless piece of your heart that lives and breathes on his own - and he's lying there newborn-limp up against your body, as if your mere presence could solve all the world's problems...when you're in a dark square room with light and chair and white coat and file folder, notes scribbled down...when your throat is dry and your head is spinning...when you're in that place...

...there are few feelings that could be worse than learning that there is something permanently "wrong" with your child.

Mr. C at age two
And then the shock wears off, and weeks and months go by, and you get a second opinion from a great pediatric ophthalmologist who reassures you and promises routine monitoring to catch when or if surgery is needed.  And things get a bit less scary.

In the meantime, you fall more head-over-heels in love with this little winking baby whose face lights up when you enter the room.  You soon forget that the world may see a flaw in his precious face.  His winking eyelid...the way it flutters when you nurse him or when he chews his first foods, the way he pops his eye open as wide as his smile when he sees you, and how he lets it fall closed in the bright sunlight.  The way you can always tell how tired he is by how much of his eye is opened, and oh, how that little wink melts your heart into a puddle on the floor!  You soon learn that there is, indeed, nothing "wrong" with your little son, and that he couldn't be more perfect. 

Marcus Gunn Ptosis is just a part of who he is.

Mr. C will be six in a few weeks, and we haven't talked with him much about his condition, although we haven't ignored it, either.  He sees his ophthalmologist every six months, and has worn glasses since he was two years old.  For my husband and I, for our other kids, and for our close friends and family, it's never been a big deal.  But I knew the day was coming that it would become a big deal to him.

Some time last week, Mr. C informed me that his eyelid moved up and down every time he took a drink.  Did I know that?  I said that I did.  He wanted to know why his did that, when no one else's did, so we talked about how he's wired a bit differently than most other people. I told him about Marcus Gunn Jaw Winking Syndrome.  We practiced saying it right then, and also a few days later when he brought it up again.  It's obviously been on his mind.

The truth is, I've been dreading the beginning of this time in his life: the time when he notices he's a little bit different, and the time when other kids are quick to point it out.  As the "chubby girl" and the "nerdy boy", my husband and I know that kids can be mean.  Ruthless, actually.  Our little guy has such an incredible heart, and I can't stand the thought of him being tormented.

Please, World, be gentle with my little boy.  I love him so.
Forget the notion that there is something "wrong" with him, and remember that the only thing that is wrong is the expectation that we should all be the same. 

Teach your children, World, that differences are interesting and not bad. 
That perfection is being the best you that you can be, and not being just like everybody else. 

And remember, World, that behind every "imperfection", there is a sweet, gentle (and perhaps frog-loving) spirit that simply wants to be accepted for the amazing person that they are.

Please, World, be kind to my son. 

Thanksgiving 2013

If you have a Marcus Gunn Jaw Wink, or are the parent of someone who does, please join me over at!  I'm trying to find others so my son knows he isn't the only one. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pinterest Perfection?

My littlest darling had his first birthday party on Saturday.  Yes, you read that correctly...Baby A is a whole year old already.  I suppose it would be clich├ęd to say that I can't believe how fast time has gone by and that it seems like he was just born a few days ago, but the truth of the matter is, I have no idea where this past year went.

We do first birthdays big in our family.  Not like invite-your-whole-neighborhood-or-church-directory-over kind of big, but grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins kind of big, which is still plenty big enough for me.  And, since I tend to be a bit of an artistic perfectionist, this also means that I spend quite a bit of time trying to pull together the "perfect" theme, menu, and decorations for the "perfect" first birthday party.

One-year-olds, after all, are very particular about their birthdays.

After nailing down a sweet alligator theme, I did what any 21st century mom trying to plan the "perfect" party would do: 

I went to Pinterest and scrounged up every last alligator, swamp, and bayou party pin that I could find.

And you know what I found? 

On every pin, every website, and every party blog I visited, I saw a whole lot of ideas, a whole lot of 'must-haves' and 'must-dos', and a whole lot of seemingly unattainable perfection. 

And yet, I had to try:

Now that you've seen the pictures, let me describe for you what the pictures don't show:

On the day of this party, I forgot to take a shower.  Seriously.  It was on my mental to-do list, and I just kind of got all frantic while I was running out of time, and it didn't cross my mind again until the first guests walked in the door. much-needed shower, no make-up, and no fresh change of clothes.  Whoops!

I forgot to get two of my kids up from their naps.  As the guests arrived, I was running upstairs to wake them, which is when I realized that my two-year-old was still in his pajamas and had a terribly stinky diaper.  Yes, the hostess was wiping poo off a heiny instead of welcoming guests.

Even though my hubby spent a few hours plowing snow beforehand, my sister's van got stuck at the bottom of the driveway, and there was a heap of commotion as men went flying to dig them out.  There was a repeat performance of this scene at the conclusion of the party.

I forgot to make my punch (or put anything out to drink at all) until about an hour into the party.
I forgot to buy cups.  I had to dig through my pantry to come up with a stack of *bright blue* plastic Solo cups, which did not in any way match my theme.  Perfectionist failure.

I baked a whole bunch of adorable alligator cookies a few days before the party, but stupidly saved the frosting of them for the day of the party.  Know how many actually got frosted?  Six.  That cute little plate of cookies in the top picture?  Yep, that was all of 'em.

I planned ahead and baked and decorated the cakes the day before, putting them down in the freezer for the night.  Good plan, right?  Except that I forgot all about them for an entire day, until mid-way through the party, when I freaked out and went running for those solid-as-a-rock edible alligators.  (If this ever happens to you, placing the cakes over a bowl of hot water eventually does the trick without melting your frosting). 
I couldn't find the charger to my camcorder, which I discovered was completely dead just as our baby started opening up his presents, so I couldn't add to his "baby's first year" tape like I've done with all his siblings.  So sad. 

See?  Pictures don't tell it all.  They certainly don't describe the quizzical look I got from my dad when he walked in on his greasy-haired, un-make-upped and frazzled daughter taking pictures of a table while everyone was gathered in the other room.  It is a bit ridiculous, I suppose, when you have a houseful of people, to be worried so much about pictures of food.  And yet, I couldn't help myself.

Perfection is an awful lot to live up to (and maybe even more so for a slightly OCD perfectionist), but I did give it my best shot, and I think I pulled together a really cute little alligator party for my baby alligator.  But there was no perfection here, I promise.

In fact, outside of Christ himself, there is no such thing as perfection.  Behind every "perfect" picture or "perfect" idea or "perfect" appearance or "perfect" job or "perfect" life or relationship, there are just regular people like you and me with mile-long lists of failures and hundreds of untold stories of imperfection.

There is no such thing as Pinterest Perfection.

This little guy, I have to say though, is about as perfect as it gets. 
Happy first birthday, little love.