29 apr 2018

We finally hung swings around the house and it’s everything my daydreams are made of.

Also, thank you to you all that reached out to me after my last post. Reading through the Celebrate Recovery pamphlets and being honest about what I need to focus on (anger) has in of itself been therapeutic. And having a literal army….you….praying on my behalf is a gift many people don’t have. So, as they say in Arkansas, ‘preciatecha.

28 apr 2018

I went to my first Celebrate Recovery meeting last night. I really wanted to hole up in the back bedroom and rest, but forced myself to put on makeup and go. When I walked into my church’s auditorium, the first sign I saw said Welcome Home and of course I welled up.

But I didn’t sing. I didn’t clap along and whoop and holler either when lyrics about God freeing us from ourselves crossed the screen. I didn’t go up when many others did, to receive hugs from people actually designated as huggers at the front of the room, so I also didn’t receive applause from everyone rewarding my bravery.

I just stood there.

Me, it felt like, in the middle of so many joyfully broken people, whose arms were outstretched so far to the sides that their fingertips brushed my shoulders, who walked up to loud cheers as they received their tokens for overcoming themselves for a month, 6 months, a year. They high-fived and hugged each other and all I could do was stand there.

Afterwards we newcomers broke off to a room and sat in a circle, to prepare for when we attended the more seasoned groups next time. And as each person passed because they were uncomfortable sharing their “intro”, it became clear I’d have to be the first to go. When they all turned and looked at me, before covering my face with my hands and crying, I said one of the hardest things I’ve ever admitted out loud:

I am a grateful believer of Jesus Christ. I struggle with anger, bitterness, and pride. I’m here today because I cannot find the value my special needs daughter brings to my life besides stress and exhaustion. I am full of hatred. My name is Carolyn. 

If you could also pray for me too.

19 apr 2018

About a month ago we boxed up like 95% of their toys to see if they’d ask for them. They haven’t. Annie the other day asked if she could take my blush brush and deodorant in the other room. I was like, okay. After a few minutes I went in and saw my deodorant saving the blush brush from some sort of catastrophe. I guess dolls are needed around here either. 😂But nice weather keeps everyone happy and busy too. This photo made me laugh. 👇Ruthie was mad at me bc while climbing the tree she threw her head back to whine about what I was making for dinner and bonked it on the trunk. And because I didn’t run to her side immediately, she decided to not talk to me, instead running around hiding from me. Do you see her?At least an hour was spent making birthday cakes with stick candles. A girl at preschool told Annie today that she hated her. Annie said, “It broke my heart. But then I got brave and put my heart back together.” Something else Annie said the other day. She and Ruth were arguing in the car over whether there were lions near our town: Annie yes, Ruthie no. After a few more minutes of a gridlock debate, Annie asked me smugly, “Mom? Take us to the nearest lion’s den. I’m going to throw Ruthie in it.”

16 apr 2018

We were able to go out on a date Friday night. We love the special needs ministry at our church, babysitting all the siblings once a month so that parents of special needs’ kids can spend time together alone. It actually makes me wanna well up, thinking of all the billions of ways you can serve people. They are a gift to us.

After dinner we walked around Barnes and Noble, skimming books for an hour. I came around the corner, though, and found Ryan reading a book of poetry*.

It’s interesting how it’s taken the hardest time in our lives to finally see the beauty in each other. He’s funny, smart, kind, and deep. That’s pretty much what 16 year old Carrie wanted.

*photo not staged or recreated. 😂

15 Apr 2018

I sometimes jot down notes so I don’t forget the emotions I’m feeling in a particular moment and can write in more detail later. But after rereading these from last Friday morning, I don’t really want to.

Sheers in the windows. Blowing. Picture of AnnLisa’s painting. Quiet. Annie eating in the kitchen. Ruthie sleeping. Gertie on my stomach, going over the sounds animals make. Crying. Praying. Hoping. Patting my head. Touching my tears. Did she understand? Resigning again to this life. Accepting solitude. Cider with Rosie. The Browns and their crumbling home. Who would know their story if not for Laurie writing about them? Lump in my throat. Living quietly. Contently. What will that look like with Gertie.

10 apr 2018

Yesterday was a come-back day for mothering. Where your patience and productivity and pride is high. The weather helps I’m sure.

Gertie absolutely loves the trampoline. And it’s actually good for her to practice her reflexive moves (catching herself before she falls.) But really it’s just a giant play pen so I can wander through our trees “checking on them.”

We took turns “cracking the egg” and I fumbled with my camera to get this shot of Ruthie and Annie before they broke apart. They were making a plan of attack to get me to unhook my arms from around my legs. I make them answer all the time: “Who are your best friends?” “My sisters.” I know it’s inevitable, the future teenage fights, but there’s a part of me that hopes they all three will grow into besties during those turbulent years. And if that means it’s them vs me, at least they are banding together.

I follow a group called “Play at Home Mom” and they have the best ideas for creating a creative environment for your kids. In the back of my mind, I also know that you literally need nothing because kids will come up with their own games, but it’s also fun to have a few things to encourage it.

One mom suggested a fish cleaning table as their outdoor kitchen and so when I saw one on clearance, I scooped it up. It has been so fun so far. It creates a sort of mud pool at the end, we’re trying to figure out where to route the excess water, but mud is Annie’s love language, so I might as well leave it be for now.

One of my favorite things to say is “Go wash your feet off before coming in!” That brings me joy.

We were having breakfast for dinner and so we made biscuits to go along with it. They were proud as can be with how it came out.

While Gertie napped, I finished up a lot of things for our Amazing Race in a couple weeks. So by the time Ryan got home, I was beyond satisfied.

But Sunday? This is what I mean about it being a come back day. Because Sunday I was sorely disappointed in myself. It’s almost like the family dynamic builds and builds and builds, then explodes. Then we reset the next day. Sunday was that explosion.

So when I talk about how you don’t know what type of parent you’ll be until you become one, it always surprises, then saddens me that I am a yeller. A full-on, I will get in your face, ugly yeller. It doesn’t happen every day, it doesn’t happen every time they disobey me, but when it does, it takes the room by storm. And it breaks my heart.

Sunday night I hardly slept. I was overcome with shame and disappointment in what my expectations of myself were and what they’ve turned out to be.

Thing is, I don’t remember a lot of yelling growing up. A few big fights. But just like I told our small group during the marriage course we took in the fall, I don’t remember my parents arguing. Everyone was like, What? Wow!! That’s amazing!

And it is.

But then I realized that even though I didn’t hear them fight, I didn’t hear them make up either. I don’t remember ever apologizing to my siblings or them saying sorry to me.

So if there’s one gleam of light I can take from owning my shortcoming, it’s that I’ve had to model to them asking for forgiveness as well as forgiving. Over. And over. I’ve prayed for myself in front of them. Not like a “Lord help me not just spank this child!” dramatic line, but a true plea for help. We’ve held hands in a circle, repeating our love for each other, even though none of us want to. We’ve hugged even when we want to be alone. If they read this when they’re older, I hope they see that I am trying.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

8 apr 2018

Their aunt gave them an awesome pop up book of Alice in Wonderland and they beg Ryan to include it in their reading rounds each night. But he spaces it out to keep them eager. I tell them all the time how lucky they are that Ryan does character voices!

Yesterday Ruthie and I went to a birthday party. While we were there, Ryan and the other two did errands and went out to eat. A lady made a comment to him about the three of them. I don’t know if it’s just seeing a dad wrangling all the kids solo, but Ryan gets compliments every time. It’s like moths to a flame: “You’re so patient, you’re such a good dad, Etc etc.” Every once in a while I’ll catch a sub-compliment if I’m with them, but i know he’s what first catches their eye. I love it. You never really know what type of parent you married (or for that matter what type you are) but I think I won the jackpot.

5 apr 2018

Last night was the girls’ little recital where they show off what they learned. They asked a parent to come up and do a dance with them. Part of the dance includes tap and now I’m desperate to find a class for adults. But of course MY recital had to happen on the same day I texted a friend that I needed a personal shopper. So I was feeling a little…. masculine… amongst all these tutus.

Annie, not kidding, talked the whole time, making comments about everyone. I wanted to get her attention and give her the shhhh sign, but Ryan whispered that he liked how into it she was and if the teacher wanted her to stop she’s say something. Ruthie sat next to her, never making a peep, almost to the point of me wanting to get her attention too. They’re at both extremes.

But can you hear Annie in the video when the teacher says, “Point your toes!” Annie: “I am!!” 😂 let’s just say, we’ve been having our own power struggle in the house too. But that’s for another post… maybe once I survive.

4 apr 2018

I want to remember the roundness of her cheek and jaw before it goes away. Photo by Annie.

Poor little Whitey. She’s the first we’ve had to cull due to sickness and injury. While we were in Kansas City for Spring Break, our neighbor chased off a dog that had her in his mouth and she just could never recover. On top of that, nonstop rain brings about its own issues within a coop that we were fighting off for her too. Ryan asked if we were going to get more for little Fluffy left behind, and hello, yes. Ruthie’s been asking for chicks for months. Any breed suggestions? I do love our Buff Orpingtons.

2 Apr 2018 (part 2)

My babysitter didn’t last as long as I thought it would so we finished up Ruth’s homework. She feels cool drinking sparkling water. Annie is studying Ruth’s reader intently, popping up every few seconds to confirm a word. She’s gonna be a full-on reader soon and it’s all from watching Ruthie. Gertie is no where to be found now that she’s started exploring the house on her own. Most times we find her in her bedroom laying amongst her own pile of books.

1 Apr 2018

Happy Easter! We hid eggs in the girls’ beds and so when Ruthie woke up to use the bathroom, she found hers and ran into our room to wake us up. She skipped in to the living room and chattered about everything in her basket (yes, Disney bandaids were a hot commodity.) All that caused Gertie to wake up and Ryan carried her in shaking her own egg. Someone had to eventually wake Annie up.

Last year I started giving them each a little bunny.

But Ruthie was the first to eye a hidden egg. Ryan made me laugh with the spots he chose. He said he got six eggs in this one plant.

And then this.

But what’s funny is that all of these were the last to be found. We did hide one up high in honor of my dad who, when Ruthie was 1, hid an egg up on the mantel. You know, for her to find.

We went out for brunch after church, and it was the weirdest thing. Ryan was telling stories about his turtle race at school while the rest of us were snickering and piping in with comments and questions. I can’t explain it, but it felt like what it’d be in 20 years. All of us laughing at dear old dad. It was good.