Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Birthday Blues

We had a birthday party for Brayden and 5 of this little buddies last Saturday at the local campground that has a mini-golf course. He turned six on Monday and we wanted to celebrate a few days early.

It was a great party! Even though it was incredibly windy outside, we were able to golf a few rounds, play on some play equipment and then spent a good deal of time indoors playing fooseball and basketball, enjoying pizza and the blue cake that I tried (but failed) to decorate very well as a soccer ball. It actually ended up the color of the green pot scrubber thing by my sink instead of the smurf blue that I had envisioned. But Brayden still said it tasted good (thank you!) And, just as an FYI to all of you that may want to try making a soccer ball cake of your own, I have since discovered that the white areas on a soccer ball are hexagons and the colored areas are pentagons--not all hexagons or pentagons ... who knew. I will do my homework next birthday!)

It was a great party ... until the last 5 minutes when the kids went outside for one last round of golf before their parents showed up to get them. Oh yes, it's exactly what you're thinking ... that's when one of the boys swung a putter like a baseball bat ... and got Brayden in the head!

The visual of him coming through the door, blood covering his entire face, streaming down his new soccer shirt from his grandma that he was so proud to get just the day before and him screaming so loudly in a tone that is nothing normal remains stuck in my head as a permanent nightmare that plays over and over. I have never before seen so much blood out of a little body. And definitely not out of MY little boy! It was scary ... very scary ... and I was hoping to never have to have my children have head wounds ... but this makes 3 already this year. Although this even outdoes the trip over snow-pants that Brayden had in the hallway that almost deadened his front tooth and split open his lip in Jan.

Thankfully Jeff was there and he has been blessed with a calm head in crisis situations. He was a rock through it all and I ... well, I tried my best to look calm while we both were praying BIG time on the inside. A couple of mothers helped out with Nolan and Easton was an angel and stayed out of the way but close at hand while we tried to apply direct pressure to the wounds that were also so bruised and instantly swollen that he wouldn't let us touch them (yes, try doing that First Aid combination) all the while assessing what needed to be done and clean up the party stuff. After we were able to get the bleeding pretty much stopped to a slower drip and calmed him to a lesser hysterical state we did end up going to the Pediatrics office to have him examined. Because he said he was sleepy and he was glassy-eyed and of course not himself (but who would be?) I was adamant that we go even if it proved to be unnecessary. The idea that my husband had fallen out of a tree 30 years ago and had been alright didn't do much to calm even an iota of fear or worry. And as we drove the 20 minutes to the doctor's from the golf course and I was trying to keep him awake in the back of the van I was trying not to show that I was scared ... or maybe how scared I was, I'm sure he knew I was scared. All the what-ifs ran through my head and the thought that we had planned this birthday party for him in the first place! He did make it clear that "this was his worst day!" in-between the tears and painful screams. In another part of my head I reminisced about 6 years ago how I had gone into labor on that very same day and how Brayden even then had drama around his birthday as he refused to be born ... In fact it was only after 36 hours of HARD labor and some pitocin that he finally was ushered into the world willing or not. Would it all come to an end today? That beautiful life that I too often assume will be there every day?! I couldn't even bare to think on that ... I know that seems a bit overkill now, but at the time my mind was racing. I thought about the skier last month who had died of a blow to the head--What about concussion or blood clots, hematomas ack!

He did need 4 stitches (3 in his forehead, one under his nose) to bring the flaps of skin back together. The idea of stitches TOTALLY freaked him out ... keep in mind that he doesn't even do well with his finger being poked or with Band-Aids in general ... well, this obviously was much bigger than that. It took the doctor, nurse, Jeff and me to hold him down for the stitches ... I think he thought we were surely going to kill him and he is a STRONG boy! BUT here is the silver lining to the story ...

... Brayden was really scared and really fighting us when finally Jeff just started praying out loud ... I mean if you can imagine the chaos with him trying with everything in him to squirm away from us and the table and him with a head-wound badly needing stitches, the doctor not wanting to poke him and have him tear it out of his hands making things even worse ... The amazing thing was, the more Jeff prayed the more he settled down, and by the time they got the FIRST stitch in he was like a limp rag doll, not just calm or trusting ... but limp! The doctor said, "Wow, I've not been one for the power of prayer before ... but this is absolutely amazing!" (And as an added plus our regular pediatric doctor was the one on call for the weekend shift and he is also a friend of Jeff's from his hockey league.) So amazing how God can use the bad for good and bring glory to His name. I hope the incident made a lasting impact on us all ... for the good.

The experience was not how I had envisioned his sixth birthday party ... I don't think I've really released the fear yet, I'm waiting for the crash any moment and it will probably be a little thing that sets it off like running out of TP or something. **Luckily** (and I say this in jest) the day after Brayden's birthday both he and Easton came down with an awful, awful flu bug that has kept us too busy to dwell on things. Oh yes, and Nolan has about 7 dots of Chicken Pox that surfaced yesterday as well (someone brought that to the church nursery 2 Sundays ago and thought 5 days was long enough to stay away from people ... apparently it's more like 7.) Long week in the Mom department.

The doctor wasn't worried about head trauma beyond the wound which was reassuring ... we of course continue to watch Brayden ... and thank God for His protection over him. Let us know if you'd like us to throw a birthday party for your child. ;-)

Here's a photo of Brayden on the drive home. They did a great job sewing it together and making it so much smaller! Amazing. Thank you God!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chop Stick Success Part 2

I need to write a retraction ... well, actually an update--about the Chop Sticks post (see below.) This weekend for the second week in a row we had the opportunity to eat a Chinese meal. (This in itself deserves a post ... my goodness we live in the middle of the midwest where there is not a lot of diversity opportunities just red flagging themselves for people to take advantage of.) However this time we did not have to order in a restaurant from a menu but were treated to an incredible authentic Chinese meal from our good friend Ming who is from Shanghai, China! It was so wonderful--from the 1000 year old eggs to the pork dumplings, the marinated pork, steamed chicken, fried rice, spicy green-beans (I'm sure they have a name which I apologize for not knowing) and a cold cucumber dish (which I don't have the name of either), and some tofu ... it was fantastic! (And we also had some wonderful Strawberry Shortcake to finish things off ... I think that was not so Chinese, but it was just as wonderful!)The kids loved the dumplings so much too. It was really fantastic.

But in addition to this wonderful opportunity to taste authentic Chinese cuisine, Jeff also asked to try it with chopsticks which were readily supplied to him in a heartbeat. I think he read my post and was a little hurt by my comment on the chop sticks, which I am so sorry for. He is a man that never fails to amaze me with his ability to take on about any challenge and to work on it until he has tackled it and succeeded. And just like in so many things, it did not take him very long and he not only had it down but he "out sticks" me in his chop-stick-finness-ness! Which probably isn't saying much ... so let me say, he is like Edward Scissorhands with bamboo fingers. Watch out China ... put away the Western silverware. He ain't be needin' it no longer. :-)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

He is Mighty

I was reminded of this quote from a post when I was struggling with God's "fairness" yesterday. We do not know why He does certain things ... but we can be certain that He has great plans and that He is in control. We just need to have faith and to trust.

"His hands are the mightiest of all. They move mysteriously and miraculously. They hold hope and healing. They restore. They repair. They rebuild. They redeem. They bring rescue and new life. They are gentle enough to cradle us in our most vulnerable moments and strong enough to move the most imposing mountains in our paths."

Thanks Carrie for the awesome words of encouragement!(I think it was from this post anyway ... it's a good post regardless--someone is crying so I gotta go.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Chop Stick Success

This week I've had a bad cold ... the kind where my skin and hair hurt--yeah, that kind. Luckily it was not Swine Flu ... but it still was not pretty. And of course, it wasn't just me who was sick, but 2 of the kids as well. Actually, on a normal week this probably wouldn't have been too bad--hey, we all get sick and mothers always rally to their call, right? But this week was especially long. Our youngest son had not been feeling the best for 5-6 days prior to this and was waking up 4 times a night which is very unusual and left me very tired! I thought it might be teeth coming in or just a brief sore throat ... nope ... it was double ear infections! And our middle son got a cold too ... and every time he started running around (because for some odd reason when kids get sick they don't mope around like us adults) he'd start a coughing fit and end up coughing so hard he'd throw up! Ug! But the kicker was that it not only was Mother's Day this weekend, but also our anniversary on Wednesday. And of course the cold hit the morning of our anniversary and lasted right through Mother's Day (although it's clearing up amazingly quickly considering I didn't know if I'd make it through Thursday alive.)

But I'm not writing for pity ... I'm just glad to say that I'm feeling better, the kids are on the upswing and the biggest news is that we even got to go out to eat this weekend for our anniversary. Yes, the two of us ... sans kids! Love our kids, don't get me wrong ... but it is a rare moment that I enjoy a meal where I don't put down my silverware 100 times to get something for someone else, feed someone while feeding myself or get to the end of the meal and wonder if I had what was in the casserole dish or the babyfood dish.

It was an evening that I was looking forward to ALL day. I must admit I was a little disappointed when my husband seemed a bit more excited about his plans for putting in the new screen door on the back porch and spraying for weeds instead of thinking about supper plans all day. And then the babysitter was about 45 minutes late due to a long soccer tournament and forgetting that it was Saturday night and where she was supposed to be ... but ... it ended up being a blessing as we were able to get our little guy his meal and medicine and settled in before leaving. And we actually tried a new restaurant that is usually packed. But since we were a little behind the supper crowd our wait wasn't unreasonable.

Now, I am not against trying new things ... but, we tend to default to Olive Garden all the time--their salad is just so good and we go out so rarely we hate to be disappointed. Saturday night though my husband decided to insist we try something new even though I was a bit more than hesitant ... boy I'm sure glad he insisted. It was SO good! The restaurant is named "Jiamen," and it is a new restuarant in town and it's claim to fame is "Innovative Asian Cuisine"--(it's probably a chain but please don't tell me because I want to believe this is something unique and special.)

Now what scared me was the word "Innovative"--it's not a word I associate with food very often. But after being greeted by life size stone warriors out front and taking in the calming Asian atmosphere and then being seated right in front of the Hockey playoff games in the bar area while we waited for a seat for dinner how could we complain! Unfortunately my sense of smell has yet to return but Jeff said the food smelled so wonderful and our meal was nothing short of wonderful! But the biggest thing I have to mention is the fact that for the first time in my life I was able to use chop sticks! I actually just picked them up to humor myself only to find that somehow I was suddenly able to move the ends of them to actually function the way I wanted them to! I was stunned. I had to pause and just flat out say to my husband how bizarre this was and how I was going to have to put my mid-Western humbleness away and just be proud of myself for the evening! In fact, I decided I was going to try to eat my whole meal with them ... the only thing was I was afraid to set them down for fear I'd never figure out how to pick them up again and that it was sincerely a fluke thing. I did finally put them down so I could get a drink of water and it wasn't a fluke thing--I was able to get them to work again. I just cannot tell you how weird this is because I have sincerely tried in the past and it just has not clicked. I'm thinking that maybe my mind has been working on it without me knowing or something. Or maybe it was because I was so enthralled with the neat little white bench that they had to rest them on next to my plate. (I think it would also work great for resting my watercolor paint brushes.) In any event it made my day. Jeff tried but said he didn't think it was his thing and he hoped that if he travels soon to China for work that it will not reflect poorly on him if he uses Western silverware (maybe I should pack him some just in case they aren't available!)

Anyway, about a month and a half ago I made an Asian inspired meal for my family (remember this would be a 3.5 year old and a 6 year old along with my husband so it was NOT all that ethnic)--but just for fun I set the table JUST with chop sticks. Oh the funny look on their faces when they sat down to eat after saying grace and found sticks! Easton decided to give them a try and here is a photo of his way of using them :-) Maybe it was his perserverence to figure them out that inspired me?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


On Wednesday of last week my Kdg. son did not come home on the school bus.

Now, if you're a mom ... or dad ... or even know a kid, this is the kind of thing that should be reserved for nightmares and not reality ... and I'm sure my hair is now a few years closer to gray because of it. In retrospect, I'm amazed that I didn't instantly freak out. And as it turned out I was actually pretty calm (not my natural state in crisis situations.) After praying, I called the school (no answer), the bus barn (no answer), (continued to pray) and then called my husband to let him know the situation.

I remember a second of feeling paralyzed not knowing where in the world to start looking--the idea of the entire countryside was overwhelming! But then it came to me to call my son's best friend from his class who rides a different bus home to see where he last saw him. (And as it turned out he was wonderful help!He knew that he was in the "in town" line for in-town kids.) My husband in the meantime had called the sheriff to report him missing. (which may seem like a bit of overkill until you consider by the time I expected him home on the school bus AN HOUR had passed since he was released from school!)

I was reassured by the fact that we had gone over a plan for him to follow just in case something like this ever happened. And as it turned out, there had been a bit of miscommunication and my son thought I would be picking him up after school. And with this information I drove like a very careful madman to town and found him playing with the other kids at the school waiting so patiently. (I was so glad to see that there was an adult monitor on the playground for the kids who wait even longer for their parents to return from work.) When I got there I gave him a big hug, relieved that he was safe and alright and back in my arms ... and seeing his brave little smile made me feel so relieved ... and then he almost instantly melted into tears knowing now that he could let down his guard and be a kdg. again. He was being SO strong but I know he was SO worried on the inside on what he was going to do.

And after, we called the sheriff to let him know he was found and we all regrouped as a family being thankful that this story had a happy ending and so very thankful that God had his eyes over the entire picture. Thankful ... oh so very thankful!

The family

The family