Extending Grace

Extending Grace

It’s taken me a while to gather the right words for this post. But I think I’ve found them.

Yesterday we drove up to Kansas City for Nellie’s ophthalmology appointment. While we were waiting she was sitting in a little area watching Mickey Mouse with another little boy. At this point, it’s relevant to know that this little boy clearly had special needs. While in that space, which we could clearly see into, this little boy threw his bag of snacks at Nellie’s face and then slapped her hard enough for the whole room to hear.

Immediately, the boy’s mom was mad and going to get him. And Bryan picked up Nellie. The mom was repeatedly telling him “we don’t hit” and the like. Nellie was crying and her cheeks were red enough for us to be concerned. And then he said, to his mom “are you happy? I slapped her!” She was not happy. And, to be honest, neither was I. What or who could have possibly prompted him to say something like that? But I didn’t say anything. And I didn’t look in their direction because I knew my face would say what my mouth wasn’t.

Overall, I’m pretty proud of myself for how I handled the whole situation. I didn’t get overly upset. I didn’t say anything to the mom other than “she’ll be okay” while she profusely apologized. And believe me, that is NOT what I wanted to do. I wanted to be angry at this mother. But I wasn’t.

The part of my reaction that I would hope others would also have is that I extended grace to this mom. What if it was my child doing the hitting? How would I want to be seen by another parent? Especially if I was apologizing for my child’s behavior.

We can only control so much of what our children do. We can teach them over and over again that hitting isn’t kind, but they might still do it. I mentioned earlier that this little boy has special needs and I’m sure there was some level of not understanding. I can only go by what I know. And what I knew was that this little boy has special needs and that may cause him to not understand appropriate social interactions. I knew that his mother was upset with him and felt bad for what he had done.

Nellie wasn’t severely hurt. And it’s not even the worst thing to happen to her. The very kind office staff gave her some coloring pages and crayons and she stopped crying pretty quickly.

I’m writing all of this is to say that there are some things that are out of our control. And how other children act around our own is one of those. We can only do so much. We were close to her, we could see her and we were quick to pick her up when it happened. But there was absolutely no way we could have anticipated that incident. So, instead of being visibly upset with a mother who was also upset, I reminded her that these things happen and my daughter was going to be okay.

And, honestly, it made me feel better knowing I wasn’t stewing in anger all day. I’ll definitely be more aware now, but I also have to remember how I want to be treated if Nellie is ever the kid dishing out the punches – or slaps.

Here’s a sweet photo of Nellie & daddy drawing with chalk after we got home.

A Little Tighter

A Little Tighter

I don’t normally nap with Nellie. Once she’s asleep I put her in her bed and I try to get things done around the house or get some work done. But two days in a row I haven’t put her in bed. I held her until she woke up. Because I couldn’t let her go.

The other day I read an article in which the headline read Louisiana Grandmother Kills 4-Year-Old After Forcing Her To Drink Bottle of Whiskey. I held my sweet, little 2-year-old while I read this and I cried. So, I decided not to put her in her bed that day. I slept with her and it was everything my heart needed.

Today, I sat on the couch with Nellie, and as she drifted off to sleep I tapped my way through Instagram stories. I came across one that featured a photo of a newborn baby girl. And the text added to the story read “Weeping for my friends. What a sweet, sweet child”. I clicked on it so I could read the caption on the original post. It turns out the photo was posted asking for prayers because their beautiful 3-day-old baby girl had passed away. Three. Days. Old.

I looked down at Nellie and, again, I cried. I cried because I was suddenly swept back in time to when Nellie was just a week old and they were telling me that they would need to intubate her because her lungs didn’t look well due to pneumonia and E. Coli. You can read about that day here. Again, I decided to hold her rather than put her in bed.

My heart is absolutely broken for these families. It doesn’t matter that one had four years and the other had three days. The thought that their babies were ripped away from them is unfathomable to me.

I held my babe a little tighter and a little longer the last few days. I’m trying to soak in every single second I can because we are not immune to anything. We take each day as it comes, a blessing from God. And we thank him each night for the time we’ve had together.

Suddenly, her screams and whines aren’t as annoying. The fact that she throws toys everywhere isn’t driving me nuts. And when she wants me to sit and color with her instead of work, that’s what I’ll do. Nothing is more important than Nellie. God didn’t choose me to be her mom so that she could play by herself and watch TV. I was chosen to color with her, dance around the house with her, chase her, tickle her, love her, pray with her and for her, and teach her who she is in Christ.

Hug your littles (and bigs) a little longer today and thank God that you still have them. And if God forbid, you don’t have them with you any longer please know that I am praying for you. Those that have lost their children, at whatever age, have a special place in my heart. You were chosen and you were perfect for them. I hope you know that you were chosen just for them.

Please, if you need prayer, reach out. I am always here.

ICYMI

ICYMI

Apparently, #momlife looks different these days. I got on here to write a post and saw that it’s been almost 6 months since I posted. So, here’s a quick update on things happening since October.

October: Halloween. Nellie was Mary Sanderson for Halloween. Her cousins were Winifred & Sarah Sanderson and Binx (all from Hocus Pocus, in case you didn’t know).

November: Thanksgiving. This was Nellie’s second Thanksgiving. But this time around she was walking. We weren’t watching her at one point and she got to the dessert table. The last one ended up being our Christmas card photo.

December: Nellie got her first Advent Calendar (Disney books). She met Santa. She might be traumatized, but we enjoyed it. And she enjoyed Christmas morning.

January: We started 2022 off celebrating Nellie’s 2nd birthday with friends and family. It was also very cold and snowy. We took a trip to California to visit Bryan’s family and she went to Disneyland to meet Mickey & Minnie.

February/March: Not much happening. But lots of photos nonetheless.

April: the weather is finally warming up a bit, so we’re getting ready for Spring/Summer. Nellie was moved to the next level in swim lessons. And she enjoyed her Easter egg hunt! Nellie also had an EEG done on 4/8. We had a few things happen that caused us to want to check for epilepsy (it runs on both sides of the family).

That’s where we are. Nellie is getting so big, so fast! She never stops moving and never stops talking. She knows some of her colors, she can count to 10 (with a little help) and she’s started potty training.

I Still Think About Her

I Still Think About Her

You think about her, too. Maybe less often as time goes on, but every once in a while she’ll pop into your thoughts. And sometimes you’ll miss her. Sometimes you won’t. She never takes over your life again, but there’s always a little part of her around. You may already know who I’m talking about. The person you were before you were a mama.

I often find myself thinking that I’ve lost myself in motherhood. I mean, I love being a mom. Especially to Nellie. She’s amazing and most days she makes it so easy. But there’s this little part of me that wonders where I went. I don’t need or want to be exactly who I was before. That person wasn’t mama to an amazing little girl. But I do miss her a little. I miss little parts of who I was.

It’s such a hard feeling to explain. The more I try to do that the more I find myself defending my words. It’s almost like I’m trying to convince myself that I don’t sound like a horrible mom for saying that I miss who I was before Nell. And I know that I’m not. See what I did there? Defended myself, like you all don’t know exactly what I’m talking about. I know that there are other moms out there that know this feeling and know how difficult it can be to describe.

It’s so funny because I find myself missing time to myself and then when I get it I find myself wondering when she’ll be back. How can that even be? Missing my time, but not really wanting it. There are times, much like tonight, where I’d like to send her back because she has pulled my tablecloth off, pulled her clothes out of her dresser, dumped out every single lego she owns, pulled out every single wipe and left them on the floor, hits me and Lucy, and won’t stop screaming for anything.

For those that might take that seriously or take offense, I am, of course, joking. I know I can’t send her back, I’d have to sell her. HAHA. Okay, I’m making this worse. I’ll be done.

Even after all the stuff I trip over and have to clean up, I still can’t imagine what life would be like without her. And I sure can’t remember what it used to be like. So, why do I miss me so much? Why do I still get those feelings of wanting time to myself? Is anyone else relating to this at all? I can’t possibly be alone in this.

MOMS League

MOMS League

The only thing I miss about California is the people. I miss my family and my friends. I miss feeling like I have people all around me all the time. The struggle has been very real. And it’s been hard. I’m a social person. I like to be around others. Don’t get me wrong, I like my ‘me time’, but not all the time. And then you throw in staying home with a toddler and not having any other adults to talk to. I found myself waiting to see what happened on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

We were very blessed to move in next to a really nice family. The Johnsons – Marcus, Katrina and their son Jonas. Pretty quickly I told myself that I was going to be friends with them. They didn’t know me and probably thought I was weird for wanting to talk to them over the fence in our yard. But I was determined. I was going to make friends and they would be the first. So…sorry Marcus and Katrina if you thought I was weird. Now you know me and you’re stuck. We’re friends.

I opened up to Katrina about how I was feeling about not really having friends around. Especially friends that had kids Nell’s age. She told me that a few years back she joined a groups called MOMS League. Fun fact: I recently learned that MOMS stands for Moms of Many Stages. She convinced me to join in the Fall when they opened up the registration. And she convinced my mom to become a mentor mom.

So, here we are three meetings later and I have never felt so blessed by a group a women. I don’t even know how many of us there are. And I don’t always get a chance to talk to all of them. I have my table of 9 or 10 women and every other week we get to talk to each other and lift each other up. We have planned playdates where we can take our kids out together. And we have mom’s night so the mamas can get out without the kids.

I have met so many women that make me feel like a better mom simply because I realize that they aren’t better than I am. And I am so grateful. I’m grateful for women like Katrina who felt she could step out and invite me to a group like this. Grateful that she listened and understood what I was going through.

I’m hoping that this group of women turns into a group of friends. Friends that I can call and have coffee with – with or without our kids. Friends that I can call and we’ll go to the park or Itty Bitty City. Friends that I can vent to and pray with. Just….friends. Good friends. Great friends.

Mom Guilt

Mom Guilt

Nell and I had a rough morning. We woke up a little late. I had to finish preparing a fruit dish for my moms league (I joined a moms group!!). I had to get dressed, but had literally (yea, literally) nothing because I had thrown everything in the washer last night, but forgot to change it over. And the rest of my closet is not accessible at the moment. Nell kept running from me and kicking when I tried getting her dressed. She squirmed when I did her hair. She didn’t want to walk to the car. We were late. I was short with her. And definitely owed her an apology because she was just being a toddler.

Mmhm. We had that kind of morning. If you know, you know. Parents know. Mamas know.

Today, during our moms league meeting (I’ll talk more about this in the next post), one of the moms shared about her mom guilt. She noticed that she and her husband had been short and snippy with one another. And when she had taken a minute to really think about what was happening she realized that it’s not really him, but her.

Let me tell you about this mom. I don’t know her well and have only spoken to her a handful of times. So, this is just my first impression. She’s friendly and so kind. She’s got a great smile. She always dresses so cute. She’s such a great mom. She’s probably a perfect mom. I feel like her kids probably eat their veggies and are great listeners all the time. I’ll bet she doesn’t yell at them.

Well, little did I know. She and I are the same kind of mama.

She’s home with her kids all day. She wonders if she’s done chicken and french fries too many times that week. She yelled…again. Have they had too much tv time? Should she play with them more? And a million other things. And because she’s holding on to that she’s getting frustrated with her husband.

The guilt piles on because it’s what moms do. We pile on that guilt and self-shame; even though God has not asked us to do that to ourselves.

I spoke with her after our meeting and I cried. I cried because I needed to hear that from a mom that felt was superior to me. I needed to hear that she definitely yells at her kids (and apologizes later, which I have learned to do with Nell). I needed to know that she doesn’t always have a super balanced meal ready three times a day. And most importantly, she also has her tv on for her kids. I needed to know that she’s just like me.

I constantly compare myself to other moms. Am I doing as good of a job as I think they’re doing? Did you catch that? As I think.

It doesn’t matter what I think. Or what I see. What matters is that God chose me. And He chose me because He knows that I will be the one to make the right choices. I know I have said this same thing a million times. But there is a lot to be said for hearing it from someone you think is better at it than you.

And as for the guilt, why do I hold on to it? Guilt sees failure. God sees me. Hold on, I’m going to say that again.

Guilt sees failure. God sees me.

Guilt sees failure. God sees ME.

To that mama, thank you. Thank you for being transparent with us. I hope you know how much you helped turn my day around.

My impression of this mom had changed, but not in the way you’d think. I don’t less of her than before, but more. Being vulnerable in that way isn’t easy. Especially face-to-face.

Here’s a reminder before you go.

Mamas, we are seen. We are so much more than that guilt we so unnecessarily carry. And maybe you knew that already, but it’s such a great reminder that He isn’t there to tell us what we’re doing wrong, but rather how much He loves us and cares for us. His words are encouraging.

Mother Knows Best

Mother Knows Best

Nell loves the song Mother Knows Best from the Disney movie Tangled. The more I listen to it the more I wonder, do I know best?

So often I hear, “YOU are her mom, YOU know what’s best for her!” And just as often I wonder, “Do I really?” Sometimes I feel inadequate.

Don’t get me wrong, yes I DO know what’s best for her. Bryan and I both do. If we didn’t we wouldn’t have been hand picked by God to be her parents. But in all honesty I find myself wondering if I really know what I should be doing. Am I making the right decisions? Am I choosing the right parenting techniques? Am I making choices that will guide her to being a kind person?

There are so many things, just in one day, that constantly have me questioning if I’ve done the right thing. Am I giving her good, balanced meals? Is she getting enough learning, hands-on time with her toys? Do I let her watch too much TV? Did I yell or was I just being firm? Should I have told her “no” or just let her [insert behavior/act here]? Literally…ALL DAY LONG.

Two days ago Bryan and I noticed a small bug bite on Nell’s foot. My first reaction was, “poor baby, that probably doesn’t feel good”, but it wasn’t her first so I didn’t think too much about it. Then yesterday I noticed the bite had become very swollen, red, and firm to the touch. She had never had a bite do this before. Of course, I called my mom. I’m very blessed to have someone I can call to help when I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. She, and my brother both, said that I shouldn’t worry too much since her behavior hadn’t changed and she didn’t have a fever. I gave her some children’s ibuprofen and put some hydrocortisone on her foot. I figured that would help and it would be better by morning. Nope.

Her bite just looks worse. Her shoes rub up against it and have caused irritation. I called to get her in to see her doctor, because no one has time to sit for hours in urgent care with a toddler. We won’t be able to see him until tomorrow and now I’m wondering if I should have just taken her to urgent care.

You guys, this is just one of many times I’ve felt this. A few months ago she developed a really high fever – 103. It was 2am and I honestly couldn’t decide if we needed to get in the car and just go to the ER. So, I woke up my mom. Thankfully, at this point, she had already retired – I felt less bad. She came in and felt Nell’s forehead and suggested just calling the after hours nurse line. I told the nurse the things I had already done – given her children’s Tylenol and attempted a cold bath. The, very sweet, nurse said that there wouldn’t be much doctors would or could do for her until she hit 104 degrees. And she reassured me that I had already done everything they would have suggested. She giggled a little and said, “Mama, you’re doing great. Stop worrying, keep an eye on her, and know that you have done everything right”. That may have made me cry a little. That reassurance is something every mama needs whether they’ve got one or six kids.

There will probably never be a day where I don’t question myself. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think it can be humbling to question yourself a little. Really, Nellie is doing great. She’s healthy, growing, and happy. She’s a normal toddler (my little toddler terrorist) and that’s really what’s best for her. So, if I were making the wrong choices would the previous statements remain true? No, they wouldn’t.

I am what’s best for her. The choices I make and the things I do are best for her. Bryan and I were picked just for Nell. And as long as we love her and guide her to living a life with Christ at the center, we’re doing it right.

I Guess I’ll Stay

I Guess I’ll Stay

This post was almost my last.

The other day I mentioned to my cousin that I was in the process of writing my last blog post. She wasn’t really having any of that.

When she asked why I was doing that I said that I wasn’t sure there was anything left to say. Sometimes I feel like I talk about Nell being a preemie too much, even though it’s a huge part of our story. I’m probably overthinking it, though, right?

September is NICU awareness month. You’ve all read about my 70 days. That felt like forever. You didn’t read about Jordyn’s 165 days. That’s 5 1/2 months! That doesn’t include the 35 days she spent in a hospital room praying that her sweet baby would stay in just a bit longer. She spent 6 months in that hospital. But it all amounts to such an amazing story.

It took me a long time to see the blessing it our story. I truly believe that God brought Nell early because he knew I couldn’t handle giving birth without Bryan while wearing a mask. He knew she would need some time, but that she would come home perfectly healthy. I know that isn’t always the case. So, why were babies like Ellis born early and with more health issues than Nellie?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Especially with Ellis having been admitted into the NICU again recently. And it hit me. **Side note: Ellis is doing well. He was there for about a week, but his mama fought for him and got him out.**

Jordyn’s story is SO unique. Her doctors told her that her best option was to terminate her pregnancy. That wasn’t an option for her. And because she fought against everything her doctors said she now has her sweet baby boy at home. The day Ellis was discharged a doctor came in to talk to Jordyn and said the Ellis’ case was talked about every single morning before rounds. He said they had never seen anything like it before.

But now…now those same doctors will (hopefully) never tell another mama, in a similar situation, the same thing. They’ll never again say that the best option is termination. Now they’ve seen it. And because of Jordyn another mama has been saved from hearing those horrible words.

I don’t feel like I ask myself “why?” anymore. I don’t need to. And now I hope Jordyn won’t either. Our stories exist so that other mamas have someone to turn to when they need someone who understands.

I don’t feel the same as I did when I told Jordyn that I was no longer going to write. To be honest, if no one ever reads my blog again that’s okay. But I know that isn’t true. In fact, recently a friend told me they wanted to share it with someone that may need it. Parents in the same situation as myself and Jordyn need hope and they tend to find it in other success stories. They find hope in other mamas that have been there.

So, here I am. Share away.

Ellis: 9 months actual / 6 months adjusted – – Nellie-Anne: 20 months actual / 17 months adjusted

Welcome.

Welcome.

If you’ve been following along with us the last few months, you know they have been nothing short of frustrating.

We moved to Missouri last September. We, very quickly, signed a contract on a lot in a new development in Ozark. Right at the end we ran into a slew of issues.

It started with our builder wanting to raise the price of the house. Then there was how much we would need to pay to have a fence put in. Then, we wouldn’t make closing because of weather and the delays happening with subcontractors. THEN! We had to reschedule closing AGAIN!

All of that to say…WE MADE IT! As of 12pm today we are officially homeowners again. We have keys and garage door openers and most importantly, our home.

And if there wasn’t enough to be excited about here’s one more thing. When we bought our first home we wanted to have dinner there the night we got the keys. But the only place close enough was McDonald’s. So, we had McDonald’s on the floor of what would be our dining room. Every year on that day we would move the dining table aside and have McDonald’s on the floor.

Tonight we got to do that same thing. Except this time Nell was with us. And it was just as fun and exciting as the first time we did it. I love that she’ll get to continue this tradition with us every July 8th.

We want to say thank you to those of you that prayed with and for us. To those of you that continued to encourage us through what turned out to be a really stressful time. To those of you that made sure we were okay and then celebrated with us when we finally made it to the end.

It goes without saying, but I will anyway, that we had an amazing realtor. Not only do I get to call her my realtor, but I also get to call her my aunt. She absolutely crushed it! Thank you, Aunt Cathy!

We are so excited to start this next chapter.

And. Here. We. Go.

And. Here. We. Go.

This week our Wall of Jericho got a little taller.

I recently let you all know that we had run into some issues with our builder. He wasn’t able to finish the house within the contracted timeframe. We signed an extension for another week and a half. Unfortunately, before we reached the new contracted closing day we got bad news.

On June 3rd we got news that he would most likely not be done with the yard by June 8th. The issue with that is that our interest rate lock expired on June 9th. In order to keep our interest rate for another 30 days to sign a new extension, we would need to pay another $700. We didn’t want to do that.

The builder’s realtor offered to pay for it so we could extend. So, we signed another extension. This time for 30 days. This put our new closing date at July 8th. We had accepted that it would be a little while longer before we could move.

Are you ready for the next part? The builder didn’t sign the extension. And we weren’t told until our rate lock expired, the day after the second contracted closing day. And to be honest, we should have been told before then. But we weren’t.

We’re left the only one option. Legal action.

I have a meeting with an attorney on Monday morning. This is the beginning of what feels like another long road.

Please pray for us.

We know that our lives are now wrapped up in this house. It’s just wood and drywall. We know that our victory is in the Lord. And He has already won this battle. He knows what’s going to happen. It’s our job to have faith in Him and lay it at the foot of the cross.