Sunday, May 27, 2018

Finding God in McDonald's

Today I found myself driving to a church far from home and pondering God's location. "Where is God?" I mean, I know and believe in God. For me, that is not a question. But where He is...that I'm not always so sure of. There have been times in my life when I've known, without a shadow of a doubt, that God is there and with me and working in my life or the lives of those around me. There are also times when it has not been so clear as to where He is. I expect to find him in the "appropriate" places, church, my children, hugs, midnight snuggles, an answered prayer, but what to do when you don't feel Him at church, or you have a hard day with the kids or the midnight snuggles are replaced with a little one with a stomach bug, the unanswered prayer?

Today, of all places, I found myself recognizing God in the weathered looking man at McDonald's. On the two and a half hour trek to my parents old church one of my two oldest children needed to go to the bathroom so I began to look for the nearest McDonald' doubt they were also hungry and there I could kill two birds with one stone. Once found, as we parked and exited the car my son expressed concern that he didn't want to go in. "Why?" I asked. "Because we are all dressed up and I don't want anyone to feel bad if they aren't going to church." (Those of you that know my kids know my son said that:) I brushed his fears off and said it would be fine. So after going to the bathroom I was trying to get them to make a decision about what they wanted to eat and as I got impatient with their indecisiveness...biscuit or McGriddle..."Which one has cheese?" "They both do." What's a McGriddle mom?", "I have no idea...?!?" This weathered man comes up to me that I'd noticed sitting at one of the tables near the bathroom. (You know I scope the entire place out every time we go into any place and the kids need to go to the bathroom. I assess every person going in and out of the bathroom. Do they look like a murderer or rapist? Do I hear any commotion from the bathroom? Does that person look suspicious? I almost literally hold my breath and count the seconds till my son emerges unharmed. Do all mom's do this???) Anyway, I assumed this tired, leather tanned skin man was going to ask me for money and as my judgment and guard went up and as I tried to remember if I even had any cash left in my wallet he said,

Man: "Hi. I'm homeless and I don't get out much but I can see that you all are going to church right?"
Me: "Yes, we are." (now surprised and curious, also realizing my son is probably glaring at me thinking, "mom, I told you so!")
Man: "Well, I wanted to give you this money to put in the offering. I don't get to go to church these days, but it would mean a lot if you could take it to your church for me"
Me: "Of course. We'll be happy to do that." (jaw dropping in mind, my heart warmed, dumbfounded)

As I finally purchased their meals and we all walked out yet another man, probably my dad's age, much less weathered and also dressed for church, escorted us to the car saying he would help me back out because he'd seen a lot of accidents in their narrow parking lot and didn't want that to happen to us. I thanked him and as we safely exited the parking lot and returned to the highway I thought. Here I am, here I've been, expecting, almost demanding, that God be where I expect Him to be, where I want Him to be, and there He is, at McDonald's. This sweet man, who I judged in a split second, was giving me money, and not just one dollar but a few, to take to our church and give to God.

They say in Orthodoxy that the church IS the body of Christ...the people that make up the church, your friends, family (if you are lucky), but, in McDonald's, God reminded me that He is not just at church. He is all around. In the most unlikely of places. In the people I stereotype in my fallen way. He is where we need Him to be, not necessarily where we want Him to be or demand Him to be. Today God showed Himself to me in the small quiet deed of this man. I have no idea of this mans past, his life, his religious beliefs, political beliefs, if he's a parent or not, but for that moment he taught me a lesson that I had forgotten. God is all around, quite literally, and when I am caught up in life, even if I am not looking for Him in the "expected" place, He can stop me and remind me that He is all around.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


So one (and by "one" I mean everyone)  may wonder how I came to be a coffin makers wife. I don't think about it very often, at least not until I have to answer the question of, "So, what does your husband do?".  I have, over time, gotten more skilled about answering this question, as has my husband, but we know it's not the general answer people are expecting.  

When we met at college some 19 years ago, if someone would have told us that not only would we end up married 10 years later but also go on to have five children, lose one, and that my mother-in-law would pass away and my husband would build her coffin, and then others, for a living, I am sure we would have run for the hills! 

Some 10, no 11 years ago for Dan's birthday newly dating...totally innocent and happy! 

As I live more, I am more convinced that I am terribly happy no one has/had a crystal ball and I did not know what the future held. God spared us from knowledge that we had no control over and allowed us to grow to love each other and that love has prepared us, over time, to handle and endure all those things above. I would say, without a shadow of a doubt, that our love has grown leaps and bounds as we have struggled through these tragic events.  I can't imagine doing this with another man and partner.  I wish Jacob were here. I wish my mother-in-law was here. 

My mother-in-law with Allie five days after she was born.  She passed away only six days latter.  Dan started building her coffin three days after this picture was taken. 

And although I still struggle when people comment on how "strong" I am, we are, because I feel so much the opposite on any given day, when I sit and take it all in, I guess I feel humbly strong, if that's even a feeling?  I do feel God gave me strength to make it through each difficult event and when I was not strong, Dan was.  I think that is such a beautiful part of marriage.  There are many marriages that fall apart after the loss of a child. In fact, the statistic is 80%.  Yes, so that gave The Coffin Maker and I a whopping 20% chance of surviving Jacob's death and keeping our family intact. Scary. But, with God, and the hope that He provides, that single thread held us together like nothing else because we relied on it and let it help to heal us.  To me, for us, I'd say that 80% of the time after Jacob died was crazy hard and 20% was just normal life crazy hardness.  

At Jacob's burial service, me holding Adam, Jacob in the the coffin Dan made.

But all this to say, the link below is to an article that the Greensboro paper ran on The Coffin Maker last year.  Jeri Rowe did a great job of telling his story and so I share it with you now. Some of you, if not many of you, may have seen it last year when I posted it to Facebook, but if you are like me and miss a lot that goes on Facebook, here it is.  Jeri Rowe: Ministry of Coffins

Photo courtesy of Scott Hoffmann

As for October, it's been hectic as usual.  This month is Infant Loss and Awareness Month.   This month is the month Heartstrings holds their annual Walk for Remembrance and Hope and although I did not get to be part of the walk committee this year, I was able to participate and volunteer the day of.  Next year I hope that we will be able to go as a family, but there is a beauty in that it was just me that was able to go.  I give all I have to my family every day, sometimes (usually) less than I'd hope, but on the rare moments where I am all alone, on my own, I can have a day like the annual walk day, where I get to just focus on Jacob's memory and how his brief life opened my eyes to a struggle that so many families face.  I hope I've turned up some good things out of this very hard pill to swallow. I'm doing the best I can and so I remember Jacob by loving on other mamas that too have lost.  It's not the group I ever wanted to associate myself with, who does, but the group is not one of broken people like I thought I was joining that dreadful night over three years ago. These women are some of the kindest I know and dare I say, strongest:)  

As families walk together Heartstrings places signs along the walk with their baby's names and many families stop to take pictures next to their signs.  Some of these signs are full of babies from just one family.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Huffman Photography

And because it's Halloween and I could not help myself, being frugal as I usually am, with all the Star Wars hype and that we have small children that I can still decide the costumes for I share this picture. We have Dark Vader (as he's usually called here), Princess Leah, an Ewock and baby Yoda...oh yeah and the handsome fella is the one and only Coffin Maker:)   Jacob would have been Luke for sure! 

Sweet baby Yoda (newly 8 mo.old)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

LETTERS TO MY DAUGHTERS....Realistic and Humbling, but Honest

So, I changed the title of this post....I thought about it and thought this is exactly the type of stuff I want to remember years from now when my girls are grown (and hopefully for a future daughter-in-law).  When my girls reach this stage of life, when they are married and, God willing, having babies of their own, I hope they can refer back to this and see what life was really like for me, as a mom and wife.  I hope to write lots of posts like this one.  Posts that offer a glimpse into the reality of what it was like when they were little, what the house looked like, the hardest of days, what the daily struggles were that are not really post worthy and "pretty" but honest. Stuff  I know I'm bound to forget.  So, here is the first of many letter's to my daughters:)


So, yeah, this has been a rough week. Well a rough few weeks.  What does one's house look like after a rough few weeks?  Well, in case you are curious, I took pictures!  I hope one day I'll post pictures of what my house looks like clean, oh how I love it when it's clean (or as clean as I can realistically get it), but for now these are the real pictures.  The ones that I want to look back at years from now when these sleepless nights are a distant memory and I romanticize everything.  I want to remember and I want to share for any of you out there that might be reading, read other blogs like me, look at Facebook pictures and feel bad about your reality.  Your non edited perfect "like" worthy pictures.  Well, I guess I'm hoping my reality is not so unlike others reality.  Sometimes there just simply is NO TIME and keeping children fed and alive is the only real goal and the only accomplishment for the day.  I keep telling myself that those days are okay, but honestly I beat myself up about them all the time.  I know it's okay and I'm growing a little/big family but there is something hard as a mom about looking all around you and seeing nothing but work, hearing crying in the background and smelling something funny you can't necessarily find, sigh.  So here is the reality of our life, the humbling reality and I just hope the coffin maker doesn't kill me for sharing these pictures:)  (Sorry honey!)

The cool Joovy my friend let me borrow that I'm using as a clothing organization  apparatus...I did put Ella in there once hoping she'd have a safe place to play without be attacked but in a few minutes Elena jumped the side and so now it's the above!  (Vanessa, I promise all the clothes are clean and I'm keeping it damage free!)

Could be worse, I've seen it worse, but the bottom middle is a pile of clean clothes that din't make it out of the room in time...I'll probably throw them back in the below baskets and just wash them again, lol

The three full baskets I thought were all the laundry...then Adam brought down the below:( 


Cool office that I've not seen clean in longer than I'll admit...also why I am writing this on my couch and not in that mess of a space...this the the "adult" room where we are supposed to go to escape the kids.  Well, maybe one day right!  We can hope.
My sweet Elena, depicting exactly how I feel about 25 minutes into each day!  (She had her first lunch bunch today....was tuckered out:)  Too cute...wish I could pass out like that!) 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


I don't even know what happened?  We have dear friends that just found out their daughters cancer is back.  She's not even three.  I just had dinner with her mom who had just gotten back a clean report for Alice.  It was just a headache the following week that lead to this. They thought they were in the clear.  They already endured two years of treatment for her.  It just breaks my heart.  And sadly when it's your friends living it, there is so little you can do when it comes to little ones with cancer.  An isolating situation becomes even more isolating for the family.  I do not know what living that nightmare is like. As I've gotten farther from losing Jacob, I've come to appreciate more and more the blessing that he never suffered and we never had to watch him suffer.  That was indeed a blessing and I know so many parents that have endured so much more than we did when Jacob died.  I truly can't make sense of children with cancer.  There just are no words.  Please please pray for Alice and her family. Tell everyone you know to pray.  Add her to every church prayer list you know of. It always seems so small to me in thought, to just pray, but I know that it works because otherwise I wouldn't have survived burying a child.  It's the only explanation I have.  People prayed us through it. I felt it and know God's immeasurable grace and love is what gave us the strength to keep living after he was gone.  

As we've been trying to adjust to our unexpected homeschooling endeavor, I have found it very hard to find time to actually write, much less sit anywhere long enough to write, but I've had oodles of time to ponder things. One thing in particular kept nagging at me.  It was something that was said at the dinner I recently had with Alice's mom and some of our other girl friends.  I've known these girls since the coffin maker and I began dating.  One of my friends said to Alice's mom and I, "I don't know how you all do it. You are so strong."  It stumped me.  Literally, I didn't have a response.  This statement always stumps me.  What is the correct response?  "Yes, I am strong", that doesn't seem right. "Thank you?" no, that doesn't seem right either and on the other hand I can't deny it.  I mean yes, I did find strength in time and that I guess explains why I am still here.  

I'm almost certain the comment "You're so strong." it's one of those comments that all parents hear after surviving a child's death.  I'd also venture to guess it's a common comment most parents get that stand by their children as they endure painful and lengthy cancer treatments. But think about it....I mean really think about it. Strength is an option in so many other aspects of life.  You want to be strong, you go to the gym.  You tell your kids when they lift a chair or some small object, "Wow! You are so strong!"  Those are things that we ourselves control.  We choose to workout and get strong to do "strong things".  We choose to train for a marathon so we can be strong enough to run that marathon (I'm not speaking from experience of course...the last time I tried to run I thought my uterus might actually fall out). Strength, in normal life, is usually an option and something we choose and work towards so that when we are faced with said challenge we are strong and ready.  But when it's something you are forced into, like surviving your child's death, strength is not mysteriously imparted upon you.  You are forced to endure a nightmare without preparation, without adequate strength, without warning.  What I felt was the complete opposite of strength.  And to this day, strength is not the word that I would use personally. I think I understand the sentiment, but it still stumps me none the less.   It is indeed one of the most, if not the most, devastating "event" I think a parent can endure, burying a child, but in no way was I "strong" enough to endure it when it happened.  I survived it.  I continued on in weakness.  In a humbled personal understanding of the preciousness of time and of life.  Most days are still a challenge for me, mainly because I have four kids under the age of six and a half and it's loud and there is usually someone always asking for something, crying, upset, hurt, requesting yet another snack, or looking for a missing shoe or pacifier.  The heaviest of days were in the year following Jacob's death and they were by far the hardest of my life and my weakest days.  Truly, sometimes my only goal was to make it to the next minute, and the one after that and so on.  And like another loss mom I know said recently, no mother ever wants to hear that it was "God's plan" that her child die.  It is unnatural and devastating to put it mildly to be separated from your child by death.  I still am not sure that God's "plan" justifies Jacob dying or makes it any less painful...I just cringe inside every time someone says that.  This does not mean that I don't believe in God or have faith.  To the contrary.  I don't know how I would be surviving still without my faith in God's ultimate plan that one day we will be reunited when He returns or I die whichever comes first. But, I truly believe it was the prayers of so many of you that I know and ones I've never met that heard what happened and prayed for us that gave us/me the strength to get through each painful minute.  I truly could feel those prayers and in a way we can't understand or see, I know those prayers worked.  I still feel the residual effects of those prayers and believe they continue to get me through life after Jacob's death and all the naturally hard days that come with motherhood in general.

There are days that bring me to my knees regardless of having lost a child.  And I don't put down any mother that has a day like that who has never lost a child.  I think all moms have truly humbling, weak days where it seems the next day may never come and the tantrum may never end and you may have just used up all your patience just surviving whatever your little one has chosen to dish out at any given moment and in any given location (grocery store anyone??!).  But, having lost our Jacob and now knowing sweet Alice will again begin to endure another long road of treatment, isolated from all of us, I am reminded in my humbling mom moments, that I am blessed to have the humbling, bring me to my knees moments.  These kids God gives us do not come with any guarantee, or warranty.  This is a broken and fragile world and I thank Jacob and our Godson Silas who also passed away about a year ago, and now for Alice as she begins this arduous road, for reminding me to stop and be thankful for the chance I have to be frustrated at my kids who are playing outside by cleaning our dirty car with their hands and clothes, because, you know what, they can be outside.   Alice can't.  Amidst the crazy tantrum Elena had earlier this week where I truly wondered if indeed she was possessed and waited with slight concern that I may actually see a demon depart from her (this started because we asked her to stand up before Dan picked her up and that was NOT what she wanted to hear), amidst the tantrum, I was reminded and immensely grateful for the simple fact that she was able to have her tantrum at home, on her bedroom floor, in her pajamas, without any IV's inside her.  She was not stuck in a sterile hospital room and neither were we.  She would calm down and crawl into her bed with her sister and get to go to sleep (maybe an hour later after the crying stopped) but we would also leave (eventually) and go to our own beds.  These hard days are blessings if we can remember to be grateful for the mundane hardness of just being a family. It's one of the biggest gifts and even I take it for granted still sometimes.  

Sometimes it takes our own experiences to put things into perspective, and sometimes we see things more clearly through witnessing others endure their own experiences.  I know losing Jacob gave me perspective on life in a very meaningful way.  I am reminded now, by Alice, that time is so precious and to be cherished.  

So to sum up, pray for Alice and her parents and family.  If you are already praying thank you so much!  As for our personal life, in the last few weeks I have found struggles in homeschooling but true blessings too.  I feel tremendously blessed to have been given this time with Adam and I cherish it regardless of my increased lack of time to write and do "me" things.  To see him learn and to help him learn are things I would not have experienced had he stayed in school.  I didn't think I could do it, but you know, God did and He's helping us each day and Adam is really happy too and despite my disbelief he's actually learning!  We joined a homeschooling group and he is learning, among many things, Latin declensions??  I don't even know what a declension is!   I don't know what the future holds and quite frankly I don't want to, but for now, I'm very grateful for my time with my family and Alice has all my prayers and Jacob's from above too.   Go hug your kiddos!

From these past few weeks...

Just fun times in the kitchen:) 

Allie got a big girl bike from a neighbor and is very excited! 

My sweet Ella, almost seven and a half months:)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


And just like that, we are almost completely "out of the box" people.  Yes, so my mama radar from the first days of school continued on after the seemingly reassuring smiles from his teacher and the teachers assistant.  My boy, who has always loved school, never had separation anxiety, never had a discipline problem was turning the corner each afternoon at pick-up more and more dazed, sad, sullen, disappointed in himself.  He was not running to me.  All I can describe is that each day I saw more and more of the light that exudes from him naturally, the light that I love and makes him who he is, fade away.  When your son's body language changes and he is quiet and telling you that he is not allowed to drink water for more than three seconds after being outside in the heat.  When you send a note requesting that he be allowed his thermos after recess because he overheats outside and it goes ignored. When you hear of another boy being called a name, in front of the class, BY A TEACHER and that story over the course of two weeks is confirmed by other students in the class knowing nothing of us mothers have to listen.  You can think we are overprotective, or feeding his weaknesses, that he needs to toughen up, or it's "normal" adjustment to the long days of kindergarten.  Or you can think we are very aware, trust our son, trust others children telling the same stories.  These kids that have no skin in the game, and have no idea the consequences of telling what they saw, were all saying the exact same thing "the teachers are mean" "we can't drink water"  "they called that boy a name when he was crying".  Does it not make your heart hurt?  Well it made ours.  And for us it was unacceptable and unnecessary for Adam to "man up to" at the ripe old age of six. 

So as reluctant as I've been personally to homeschool our children, out of sheer fear of failure, fear of my lack of adequate knowledge, selfishly (or maybe just naturally) wanting a tiny bit of mental quiet time, time to write, here we are.  Yes, we met with the teachers.  Yes, we spoke to the principle.  We asked if he could move classes. I researched private schools that are in no way in our family budget even with financial aid, at least not now.  The answers all lead to only one option.  So here I sit after two weeks of intense soul searching.  However, as a new friend has said, "He works all things for his Glory" and so as we trudged through the last two weeks not wanting to believe what we were facing, and what Adam was facing, I overcame my unfounded fear of talking to others and shared with his preschool teachers the situations he was experiencing.  These wonderful teachers who I've always been grateful for, have an even more special place in my heart now.  His teacher from last year even got choked up hearing how Adam was being treated and the other boy was being treated, that the teachers lied to that mama about what they called her son, that they did not see the potential in Adam or understand that he just needs to know the rules and has a desire to make his letters perfect and finish his work and "do the right thing".  All it takes is a teacher that is willing to sit with him and reassure him that he's doing a good job and that he won't get in trouble for not erasing something completely or having sticky glue hands.  His preschool teachers did this. They'd been helping him all along.  They just love kids and know how to meet them where they are.  Now knowing what they were saying I was learning more about Adam and how he learns best.  That he is a perfectionist just like his dad and loves details but that does not make him a bad kid, just one that cares about doing a good job in his eyes and that of his teachers.  But even when we confronted his teacher's assistant with this knowledge all my husband and I got was defensiveness.  The assistant was not listening at all.  She was not understanding that in the 96 hours or so Adam had been in her class, all he was understanding was that when he raised his hand for water, the answer was "no".  When he erased his letter but it was still visible, she was "frustrated with me"  when he had sticky glue hands, "She was frustrated with me mom, but it was not my fault, it was the GLUE'S fault!".  This is KINDERGARTEN for goodness sake!  Why weren't Adam and his classmates getting the message that this was a safe place, a place encouraging of learning, a place that allows sticky hands and thirst?  Sad to say, this was our experience. I speak for none of the other classes there and believe that this was/is God's path for us, at least for this year.  I have no judgement for others that go to public school, private school, homeschool or unschool.  I just know this is what we need to do this year.  I can't, in good conscience, send him back to a classroom where the assistant does not care to "get him" and meet him where he is. He's smart, he's filled with wonder, but it was fading fast under her watch.  I won't even go into the amount of assessments that are required now.  The second week and the teacher has to spend a majority of her day assessing kids individually while the assistants teach the classes.  I couldn't do their job.  20-24 five and six year olds to manage, my hat is off to the amazing teachers out there that do it and do it well.  I have more respect for you know than I ever have.  I wish it had gone differently.  And as much  as Adam loved the kids he did not want to go back and I can't blame him.  I realize also that this is not an option for many moms that work outside the home which I also understand.  I think we are all just doing our best to provide what our families need and the list is endless really.  There are a million ways to go about providing for one's family and I'm grateful that this is an option for us. 

Selfishly and maybe naively I"m looking forward to some one-on-one time with him.  He's been such a trooper as he's lived through me being pregnant four times in the last five years.  Maybe this is God's gift to us, time.  Time with each other. Time before he really grows up.  Time that we are never guaranteed.  Time I didn't get to have with his brother. So, if I can manage to navigate life after losing a child, nothing is impossible right?!  We will figure this out.  I'll be honest about  how it goes.  There will undoubtedly be bad days but my gut is that the good days and good moments and memory's will far outweigh the hard of it all. 

I didn't want to post this until it was for sure.  As of today Adam is enrolled, by law, in our very own St. Jacob's Academy.  Maybe Jacob will even intercede for me as I attempt to travel down another unexpected road.  If I've learned anything it's that just when you think things are going one way, they can switch and go another.  And you know what, it's okay!  

So to sum up, I am married to a coffin maker, we have four living children, one child in Heaven, we birth at home and homeschool...have I left anything out?? (well, I'm not gardening yet and we don't have chickens, but realistically it's probably just a matter of time). 

Have a great week!

P.S. I promise I'll have someone else teach him grammar and spelling!

Pictures from the last two weeks

Finally a swing set...this is almost trumps the homeschooling news! 

One benefit to homeschooling, special time reading with Ella in the middle of the day.

Soccer started for Adam! He's the one in the far left, white stripe on his shorts:) 

A rare picture with my sweet Ella...I'm always behind the camera these days. Thanks Vasso:) 

Monday, August 31, 2015


Well, so, Adam, I mean I survived the first week of REAL school, Kindergarten.  It was not pretty.  There was a lot of cooking and some wine, more cooking than wine (should have combined the two) but still it's been a while since I needed to do things to pass the time.  First, an apology. I need to apologize to all the moms I mocked in my head, for posting all their sadness over their children going off to kindergarten.  I pooh-poohed you all and thought I was better than you.  Adam was excited, so I was excited. He's already been to preschool so, honestly what is the big deal?  Well,  as is so often the case, I realized that I am not above any one of you.  In fact, I'm maybe worse because I thought I was better than you, stronger, sooooo much less emotional and sappy.  But low and behold I got choked up walking him down the hall and it hit me how much of a step this is for him and me.  Leaving him somewhere for a span of seven hours with people that I, at most, had spent about two minutes with.  Who are these people? Are they nice? Will they be kind to him? What about the kids?  Are they nice?  Will he make friends? What if he gets lost? Who will he ask for help in a sea of strangers, in a building he's barely been in?  What if someone makes fun of him?  Will he cry? If he cries who will comfort him? Will anyone comfort him? What if he gets hurt? Who will call me?  Will they know he's hurt?   What is he learning? Does the teacher like kids? Does she like Adam?  Do past students like her?  Are we doing the right thing? Should we be homeschooling?  Should we send him to private school even though we can't afford it?  Honestly, how many questions can run through one's mind?

Now I will admit that since we lost Jacob I tend to work very hard NOT to physically cry and get emotional and for the most part I have got that down now.  The months especially after losing him, the emotional and physical toll of a breakdown were incredibly high.  One good, hard but needed cry could take days or weeks to recover from.  The roller coaster of emotions was not a friend of mine and I quite hated the roller coaster because it was so far from what had been my normal state, pre-child loss.  But still you press on because you have a life that existed before your baby died and that life still exists after, and so I just think I've become very good at managing my least outwardly.  What I manage to suppress in outward emotions however seeps out into an inner anxiety that probably surpasses what many experience daily.  I think I've learned to manage covering that up pretty well though.  

So, long story short, last week was hard.  Adam fell the first day of school and was minorly hurt but enough to garner a story, which I must say is a HARD thing to get out of a kindergartner!  One question about what happened that day might as well have been the hundredth question I'd asked, "Mom, I don't know! I can't remember."  But what he did say is "Mom, she's not like my preschool teacher.  She didn't ask if I was okay.  She just said "get up."  So, then my heart broke more.  Who is this woman!? It is my fervent prayer that one day this will be something I am laughing about and despite a long week of unknown days and I'm pretty sure one morning he was lost and only made it to class by the kind help of a 3rd grade neighbor, that his teacher and I will be friends and I can share this with her and we will have a laugh together.  I want him to love kindergarten and that is all. I want him to love it because he learns and has adults around him, other than his parents and family, that care and help him and adults he can trust as well.  I think that is nice and important and sweet.  

So after a long week, dissecting every moment I've met his teacher, every nugget of information Adam has unwillingly given me, researching private schools, agonizing over the possibility of giving up my small bit of free time to homeschooling our brood, God calmed my anxiety and, I think, answered my prayer this morning.   We were running late, sort of.  If Adam had not changed his mind and we had gone through the drop off line he would have been on time, but he changed his mind last minute that he wanted me to walk him inside so I dogged traffic and small sweet pedestrians to find the nearest spot to park and power walked him into the empty halls of the school knowing the bell had already rung.  It has been a VERY long time since I felt tardy:)  But as we walked to his hall we passed the assistant teacher for his room, a woman I've not really seen smile, and she gave us a huge smile, an unmistakable smile.  A smile to calm a mama's heart and to top it off, as I watched him walk to his chair in his class, I caught his teacher's eye from the door and she too gave me a smile.  Sigh.  Relief.  Hope.  That is all I need.  I am not sure if the rest of the week will be so reassuring but I'm basking in the hope that I had this morning as long as I can:)  

So about the cooking...we successfully cooked six lasagnas, six turkey tetrazinnis and six loaves of banana nut bread.  We threw in some chocolate chips for good measure:) What I've learned ~ I've learned that six is too many, my bowls are not that big and I ended up having to do everything twice and dirtied twice as many bowls which was obviously not the intention, but lessons learned and I have a lot of food to show for it!   Disclaimer: There were children crying while these meals were being prepared, some helping, me yelling "don't touch that!" a lot, and my kitchen is just now recovering to the normal state of messiness it usually is. I've included a picture below of what my kitchen looks like post cooking so that you all don't think I'm some crazy fool who keeps a neat house while doing all this.   

I said to Allie just now as we cut into our first loaf of freshly baked banana bread (which she helped me make, start to finish), "This is the best part of cooking!"  Allie said, "No, this is the best part of eating!"  That's right honey! 

Here is to another week of excitement! Hope your week goes well too.  

My sous chef at work! (notice the opened bag of Pirates Booty to the left...what I eat while cooking lasagna, lol)

Talk about attention to detail (she gets this precision from her daddy, mostly)...also explains the four hours it seemed to take to make the lasagnas!

These turned out pretty darn good! 

All those dishes to wash (the only  real reason I hate cooking but if I moan then sometimes the coffin maker does them for me...he's a keeper)

Very proud of my freezer meals...grab and heat, which is about all I can accomplish most days!

And last but not least, our lil Elena!  I'm not sure of what this pose is but she did pose for the picture so it's classic Elena:) 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Chicken Stock and Kindergarten

Well, you would not think chicken stock and Kindergarten would have anything in common but, seeing as in the last week they are both firsts in this household, they do:)  Are you laughing?  Well, it's the truth:) Confession: I have not made chicken stock in my entire eight year marriage.  Not successfully, although I never tried.  It's quite easy and given I finally purchased a knock off stock pot, which I love, I thought the prefect way to christen it would be to be purposeful with our leftovers for a change (leftover roast chicken; not a first but also VERY rare for me).  The alternative usually happens where I leave the leftover gnarled bits of chicken carcass in the refrigerator until it a.) turns moldy and must be removed by husband, or b.) I need the pot the leftover moldy chicken is in for another dish and so am forced to confront the remnants.  All in all, I was quite proud of myself and hope to alternate our easy Sunday dinner's of Papa Murphy's pizza with a roasted chicken followed by productive chicken broth.  One of these days I'll figure out how to make Matzo Balls and then the comfort food will be complete, for a while. Something also tells me with Adam's first year of kindergarten there may come a day or two this fall where a good stock is necessary.  

(Not sure if I'm more excited about the pot or the stock?) 

And so the more exciting, sad, nervous, proud, concerned, happy news is that Adam started kindergarten today.  I have heard the quote, "the days are long but the years short" or something like that, and indeed it is true.  I am writing this post partially to pass the time till I get to go and pick him up.  A long day.  He was happy and I held back tears walking him down the hall because little boys don't understand "happy mama tears" and I didn't want him to get nervous and then rethink his excitement or feel the need to comfort me. I'll be honest, I thought I'd hold it together, but I did get choked up.  After a goodbye hug, I stood longingly just outside the door and made sure to watch till he found his seat.  A part of me selfishly hoped he would look back my way once more, maybe for reassurance, more for me than him I suppose.  But, he did not.  He didn't need to search the room for me.  He was ready and so I let him go on to his day.  I hope the day unfolded in the same manner and am excited and nervous and anxious to hear, as soon as he steps foot in our car, all I missed and he experienced.   Stay tuned:)   In conclusion, I reserve the right to change my mind and home school him and may do so one day, but today, today Adam was excited and proud and I let him do something he's been looking forward to for years.  

Onto other news from the week.  I caught this picture with Ella (who also had her six month birthday this past week)  and Grand dad on Saturday...if that's not a great smile I don't know what is:)  

And I'll leave you all with this.  Below, a picture of Elena at church yesterday.  I think my friend said it best, she is "the most adorable hot mess, ever!!!!!"  Indeed, she is.  (I mean if someone looked at you like this at church, while holding a collection basket, would you not immediately find your wallet and give??:) 

P.S.  I intend to post less and less of normal family life stuff on Facebook so if you want to keep in touch or know what's going on around these parts, you can subscribe to new posts up above and to the right, I think, this is all new to me:) I think it will send it to your email?? Have a great week!