How to Survive Your Heart Exploding

True to my last post, we’ve been trying to do more NOTHING. And for the record, we still fail most of the time and still stay crazy busy. But I’m finding more moments to rest, and am taking those moments to just enjoy and focus on our family, and to also think through what my real goals and dreams are- and which of those can be worked towards now, and which of those God may be saying “wait” on. That’s why I’ve been here less.

Sunday we did nothing. Both boys have been coughing like crazy, I’d had a pretty awful week, and Michael was feeling some effects from lots of new medicine. So we did nothing. And as the day wound down, I purposefully took a few more minutes with the boys, first laying in bed with Ben and then going to Drew’s room. He’s old enough that he rarely asks me to lay with him now, so I jumped at the chance when he asked me.

The conversation that ensued both broke my heart and reinforced my plans to spend more days like this.

As I laid by him and held him, I simply asked him how things were going with him. I usually just get one or two words to any question, and have to pry. But tonight I quickly got more.

We made a deal earlier in the day that exchanged some gift cards of his for an iPod (he hasn’t had one for quite a while after sending it through the wash, and I wanted to teach him the value by offering him one, but at a price) and he was upset about it. But not about not being able to spend the money. He didn’t want to lose something that someone he loved had given him. He was worried that if they went missing one day like his Uncle Austin did, that he would wish he’d saved everything they’d ever given him.

I couldn’t breathe for a moment. I thought my heart would explode.

Drew was just two days past his 4th birthday when Austin disappeared. A month younger than Ben is now. He remembers so little of him, but that seems to make it worse in ways, because he wishes he knew him more. He wishes he had more of him saved away.

Losing my brother is hard. But it’s nothing like the pain of watching my son lose him and not be able to give him answers.

I wish there was more than, “we just don’t know.” He deserves more. We all deserve more.

But while I couldn’t offer answers, I did remind him of a box in his closet. One that he never looks at, but I stash things away in. Cards from family, special things from school, and beside the box sits a big green dinosaur. That was the last gift Austin gave him, for his 4th birthday. And we’ll add these gift cards to the box. Not so much as a reminder of who gave him the cards, but of the night I was reminded how deeply he feels and loves, and how important it is to help save memories.

I can’t take it all away, but I can teach him that we never lose our memories or our love. And we don’t need stuff to keep that alive.

But I still won’t be throwing those gift cards away.

giftcards

 

 

 

Caution: Expect Delays

Several days ago a sign popped up on the road out of our neighborhood that advised us of delays this week.  This road just happens to be the only way in and out of the area, the only way to our school, and just happened to be the first week of school for the county on the other half of the road, with their school one block off it.  But even with the sign, I thought that the planners would surely minimize disruption under those circumstances.

I was wrong.

Monday morning as I rode my bike with Drew, about an hour before we leave for work and school, I realized that it may have been a bigger endeavor than I thought.  The dozens of people gathered at the end of the road waiting were a bad sign.  But still, there was nothing blocked, no equipment that looked like it would tear a road up, all was clear.

An hour later, I pulled out and realized that they weren’t kidding.  One lane of the two lane road was blocked, half of that lane was torn up, and the backup coming my direction (towards the school) was so bad, that I had to wait 10 minutes until they let us out.

I was not nice.  No one heard me, but I did more than grumble.

It wasn’t until later that I laughed a little bit.  I laughed because they had warned me.  I laughed because I hadn’t heeded the warning.  But mostly, I laughed because “Expect Delays” is a common theme of my life right now, and yet I still haven’t adjusted.  As a matter of fact, the grumbling gets louder and nastier, with each delay I face.  The delays are usually expected, always a pain, but also usually worse than they warned or I thought.

But no matter what I do, I’m not going to get there any faster.  Sometimes, delays just happen.

How do you cope when you see a sign somewhere in your life, on a road, at work or in a dream you’re working towards that says

Caution:  Expect Delays

Maybe you have some tips for me.  {seriously, tips anyone?!}

I should have believed them

I should have believed them

 

I’m Not Ready!

School starts this week for the big and the little.

We have the supplies, we’ve met the teachers, and even been shopping for food to make lunch boxes.

But we had hopes of more beach trips, more time with family, more some craft projects, more bike rides, more popsicles.  We were going to get organized (you know, for the first time ever) and have our home office area a space we would want to work in and keep things well organized in.  We were going to finish some painting, finish some floors, and finally design our bedroom retreat.

Now we jump into mornings of hurry, nights of homework and bedtimes, worse traffic, calendars and papers galore, and juggling more than ever.  I’d like to put a hold on time.

I’m not ready!

Since I can’t, my backup technique is reminding myself of all the good things.  So here is my list of the top things I’m looking forward to in the next few months, and why I’m almost celebrating back to school.

1.  Sports.  We’re just weeks away from the start of College Football- here in the South, NFL is fun, but mostly for when there is no College game on.  Go Gators!  Along with that is the start of another baseball season.  We don’t take many breaks with Drew, but he’s had a longer than expected break this summer, and we’re all ready to get going.  PLUS!  Ben starts t-ball!  For all this alone, it’s almost worth the end of summer.

2.  Cooler Weather.  HA!  Summer is only actually halfway over, and we have plenty of near 100 degree weather left here in Florida.  But we like to think that it’s around the corner, and start to believe that we’ll have relief one day.

3.  Learning & Independence.  Drew likes to learn, and even Ben has been pretending to do homework recently.  They soak up knowledge and the chance to expand their thinking.  I love seeing that happen, and as many good things as we’ve had about the summer, lots of learning was not one of them.  It’s also time where they can be outside of our wings, but still in a protected place, growing and finding out who they are.

4Time with Friends.  It’s so much fun to hear the stories back from school of the friends being reconnected with, and new friendships being made.  And for us, we reconnect with some baseball families that we’re all friends with, connect with new families, and start to build upon the amazing network we already have.

5.  New Possibilities.  At the start of a new year, there are so many possibilities.  We can’t know everything that will unfold, and that’s pretty exciting.  What doors will God open?  What opportunities present themselves?  What closes?  While sometimes nerve wracking to think about, it also is faith building.  To know that God is in control, and tomorrow may not look like today.  Tomorrow may be even better.

We start back before a lot of other areas do, so some of you may just be starting to think of Back to School.  Are you ready, are your kids ready?  What are you looking forward to?

 

Leading the Way

Leading the Way

BigDog Life is Here!

A few weeks ago, Drew came to me with an idea to start doing videos on YouTube, like he had been watching for years with his Dad.  He loves funny ones, and instructional ones about things like Wiffle Ball.  So we filmed his first few, and decided to start a blog where he could post them and share them.

I am so proud of this kid’s creativity, drive, and desire to make things happen when he wants something.  We set it all up, and he’s looking forward to sharing a lot more about ‘BigDog Life’- want to know where that name came from?  Check out his site to find out!

BigDog Life

BigDog Life:  Meet Drew

BigDog Life:  His Intro Video

Drew & Mom 2013

Independence Day

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[Read more…]

The Baseball Mom Rules

Our baseball season just wrapped up, much differently than we expected or hoped.  Drew watched the last game from the dugout, with an injured knee, but cheering his team on and still a big part of it.  He’s played through illness and injury, with a bruised and taped hand, with a busted lip, a busted nose, a tweaked ankle, with ibuprofen and with many puffs of his inhaler.  The only games he’d ever missed in 6 years of baseball were when his breathing was so bad he was either in the hospital or about to go in.  So it took a lot to hold him back.  Parenting an athlete is much like parenting in general, with a lot of lessons to share.  So as we wrap up the year and look forward to next season, whatever that may bring,

I thought I’d share my observations, on how to be a good baseball mom.  For those of you just entering this fun season of life, or for those who can relate:

1.  Cheer them on.   Seems simple and obvious.  But so many moms, including myself sometimes often, want to correct them and coach them, and point out what they did wrong.  Let the coaches do that.  You only cheer.  (And hey, if you want to cheer so loudly that no one else can hear and it’s positive?  Great!  Just don’t be offended when I sit on the other side!)

greatestplayer

2.  Be prepared.  From the time they’re little, there are seemingly 1,000 things to bring to the park.  Snacks, water bottles, sunscreen, cooling rags, chairs, umbrellas, entertainment for siblings, cameras, and of course the cleats, bats, balls, gloves, batting gloves, helmets, hat, and on and on and on.  A list will make your life easier.  Especially when you’re leaving the house at 5:45am.  Yep, 5:45am.  (And yep, I’ve been that mom who shows up missing things- including his entire bat bag in the days before that was his responsibility)

2010 Season

2010 Season

3.  Leave the game at the field.  Some great advice I’ve heard from one of our favorite coaches, is to leave the game at the field when you get in the car.  When they’re young, they should just be having fun and not rehashing what happened.  As they get older, they already know what they did right and wrong.  Let them move on.  (I may have been known to break this one and threaten my kid because he didn’t swing the bat in a game.)

2011 SandGnats

2011 SandGnats

4.  Surround yourselves with good people.  The most important thing your kid will learn on the field has nothing to do with baseball.  Find coaches who you want them to grow to be like.  Unless your kid is one of the very tiny % of players who will go on to college or the pros, learning baseball skills is less important than life skills.  And even then, they should be hand in hand.  (We have the best around us.  And sometimes the worst!)

2013 Spring Season

2013 Spring Season

5.  Remind yourself that “It’s a Small World After All.”  Be nice.  Unless you’re in the world of travel baseball, it’s hard to imagine how many people become ugly and personal and hurtful.  But it’s a very small world unless you move far away, and you’ll see each other often.  Heck, there’s a good chance your kids will play together again one day.  (Though please God don’t let some of them end up with us again!)

2011 All Stars

2011 All Stars

6.  Toughen’ up.  Mom, I’m talking about you.  We’ve seen a lot of injuries on the field, a lot of blood, and a lot of tears.  Some of it from our son, and some from kids we love.  Let the coaches handle it until they ask you to come help.  This is a tough one.  But your kid will probably bounce back a lot quicker without you running onto the field.  (I’ve never broken this one- mostly because I’m scared of seeing how bad it is, but whatever it takes.)

last game of Spring '13 season

last game of Spring ’13 season

7.  Let them lose.  Some of the best lessons are in a loss.  Even a losing season.  Our kids are going to face tough times in life, they’re not always going to win.  Let them learn to not give up, to trust their teammates, and to give it their all and still come up short.  They’ll grow.  (I HATE losing!  Apparently I haven’t grown enough.)

8.  Push till it’s time.  Drew loves baseball more than just about anything.  He wants to play at as high a level he can.  He can’t imagine life without it.  But sometimes, he’s not giving it his all or wanting the extra workouts, or to miss something because of practice.  If and when he decides he no longer wants to play one day, I’ll support that.  But until that time, I’ll push him to give his all and be his best.  (“That knee doesn’t hurt that bad!  Come on!”  may have been yelled before I realized the current injury was real.)

9.  Enjoy it.  I love our hours at a ball field.  We’re all together, and my kid is doing what he loves best.  Six years ago we started this journey, with a tiny little four year old who couldn’t tell you which base was which.  Watching him grow into the ballplayer his is today has been a great joy.  Not because of baseball, but because of how it’s helped him grow.

Our immediate plans are to rehab Drew’s knee for a few weeks (hopefully that’s all it takes!) and get him back on the field.  We’ll enjoy a bit of summer downtime too.  But before long, we’ll all be ready to get back to what we love.

And guess what’s next?

Ben starts t-ball in the Fall!  More hours at a field, but back to where it’s all fun and cute.  I can’t wait.

Ben_NLA

Play Ball!

 

 

Not in the Happy Ending

I read something somewhere this week about the story of someone’s life not being in the happy ending, and it resonated with me strongly.  I try not to focus on the happy ending.  I really do.  But I always feel the need to have something I’m working towards, something to gauge my progress, or a milestone or event that should bring me ever closer to things being ‘easier’- whatever that means.

I once continued to date a guy way past when it was clear that he was not the one for me, simply because I thought I’d invested way too much into the relationship to not believe there would be a happy ending.  I’ve spent a few years at a job (several times) really enjoying it, but always thinking of how it would help me toward long term goals.  I’ve maintained a positive attitude about the search for Austin, because I knew there will come and end one day.

Newsflash Anita!  There may not be a happy ending for every situation.  Or the happy ending may not be what I hoped for or expected.  And even when there is, that isn’t where the story is.  They story is in the daily details, the ups and down, the good and bad, the joy and the pain.  And when we focus our own lives on the happy ending we expect, we miss out on our real story happening. Or at least I do.

Chill as he waits for surgery

This week, like most, we’re going through the not so fun trials of normal life for us.  Last weekend, Michael was sick and home in bed for much of it.  Tuesday, Drew had minor surgery and spent most of the week recuperating.  Austin’s birthday was Wednesday.  Today, Drew is doing another not so fun medically necessary activity.  I could have so easily been stressed out this week, because between all of that and working and hosting a party this weekend and preparing for travel next week, it’s just a lot.  But I kept taking deep breaths and remembering these things.

Michael was able to enjoy some of the weekend and is doing well now.  Drew’s surgery means that he should have relief from the constant sinus problems, asthma and headaches.  Austin’s birthday is a day we can celebrate his life.  Drew’s day today will go a long way towards solving some other issues he has going on.  A party to plan means we have friends to love.  My busy work schedule means I have a good job to provide for us.  These are good things!  Sometimes it takes looking at the flip side, to see the good through the junk.

There is one thing going on that I just can’t see the good side of this week.  32 years ago Wednesday, God gave me a brother.  28 years ago, God gave me more brothers, though not by blood or marriage.  One of them is in the hospital after a stroke, at just 37 years old.  It’s not his first stroke.  His kidneys are also not doing their job well enough, and different specialists are all involved to help him.  There’s nothing good about this happening.  But I do know there is this to be thankful for in his story:  He has been blessed with a wife that takes care of him with such strength, and is such a good partner.  He has four kids that love him and need him.  He has family who feel the same.  He has good doctors who will figure this out.  He has good therapists helping him work towards recovery.  For all that I am thankful.  For not knowing how to help more, for that I am lost….

I still hope for happy endings for us all.   But they may not come as we want them, or as quickly as we want them.  So for now I’ll keep looking into our stories, seeing all the good there is.  And praying for strength for the times it’s too hard to even see that.

Because our story is not in the happy ending.  It’s in the life in between.

~Anita