Wednesday, December 21, 2016

apparent, raw and ugly

My night after writing my previous blog entry "put to the test" my thoughts/plans/desires. 

Summary: I put kids to bed. I'm alone, as George is in Scottsdale taking care of some work deadlines. They are all asleep. I go to bed at 10:00, but Jevy and Kelty both have poops. Change poops. Go to bed. Kelty starts coughing so badly, it wakes him up and he starts crying. Can't go back to sleep. Jevy hot, wakes up, wanders around. Both go back to sleep. Paugie wakes up and wants milk. Cries when I say no. Wakes up Jevy again. Jevy stomps on floor for 20 minutes. Goes back to sleep. Kelty coughs so hard he throws up. Kelty crying again. Jevy coughs so hard he chokes and wakes back up. All go back to sleep. Kelty cold, wakes up. Back to sleep. Madigan coughs so hard he wakes up and starts talking. I shhhh him and he goes back to sleep. Jevy cold, wakes up, goes to see Christmas lights, then back to bed and finally asleep again. Coyotes start kill call in front yard. Sabina freaks, and won't stop barking. Kelty wakes up again from coughing and dog barking. Kelty back to sleep. It's now 5:00. I can't sleep. Jevy wakes up and vomits. This doesn't feel right... pretty sure this is something bigger. Stomach virus? All I can do is wonder what on earth I'm going to do about their coughs (the boys have had this cough since we left Nashville; they've had two rounds of antibiotic, but to no avail and the doctors really have no idea.), and how am I going to clean up the throw up on their bedding when I'm not supposed to use the washing machine (solar powered house in cloudy weather). Jevy throws up thirteen times throughout today. At 3:00 pm George returns bringing Gatorade. Jevy finally starts to re-hydrate... perhaps he's going to keep this down? Nope, just kidding. #14 vomit: check.

I stomped and screamed at God after the 11th vomit which poured down my shirt and pants and into my new house shoes. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING???????????? I'M TIRED! I'M DONE! I CAN'T FIND THE SUNSHINE! ANSWERS WOULD GO SO FAR AT THIS POINT!" Then, I apologized. 

I realize that I keep looking for light at the end of the tunnel. I get hopeful because I see it! Then, I realize that it's not light... It's water funneling toward me, filling the tunnel with what feels like the very real threat of drowning me. So, the door that I thought was leading us out really feels more like a trap. And I have to run again, in the darkness for all I'm worth, to keep from drowning, to keep my people okay. Searching for another opening, a light leading the way forward. 

My weakness is highly apparent at present and it's raw and ugly. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Weight of the Wait

I glanced at a piece of paper where I had written notes to myself last Christmas. The summary of challenges and hopes from 2015 listed the ongoing hope that we would know where George would have a job and where we would live and start our life. It was a frustratingly prolonged hope at Christmas, 2015. The frustration of that hope still deferred makes the steps forward feel heavier and the smaller daily challenges in life feel bigger than they ought.

So, as we battle the weight of this continued wait, I must decide each day where my hope comes from, where I will look for the sunshine that comes out each day, where I will find (and see) the overwhelming joy that is to be mine. I must, also, let the small, beautiful details permeate my perspective and remind me (almost constantly) that this struggle (that we call life) is to be lived fully no matter what mountain lies ahead. To the details of today:

  • The adventurers' first discovery of an iced-over creek and the joy of walking (and falling) on frozen water
  • The person I woke up next to this morning, greeting me with delight that I'm his
  • The tiny pancake lover, syrup dripping down his chin, asking for a fourth helping
  • The paw of a Crazy White Dog resting contentedly on my foot as I type
  • The Christmas lights warming up the cold room with their glow
  • The profound comfort of a soft blanket
  • The laughter roaring through this evening as the brothers chased one another about the house
  • The deep breathing that suggests bedtime has been a success 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The many faces of Schnauge

That morning, on our hike... 

That evening, when he stole my phone... :-) 

And then there's these...

Journey Forward

"Let not a good thing come to an end", you seem to say of all things to be enjoyed - (decaf)  bulletproof coffee in the morning, great hikes + gummy bear bribery (think of it as fuel to keep the forward momentum), Swiss dark chocolate, playground gallivanting with the bros, dump truck galloping, snuggle time with your all-time-favorite daddy. You are profoundly capable of expressing your disgust when the end of a good thing rears it's ugly head.  

"I shall hike no more forever" pose.

You, the personification of human complexity, who struggles so relentlessly to communicate, to be understood, whose world is so completely lost to words/language, can speak to my soul and comfort the deepest wrestling in my heart with a gentle pat of your hand and those blue eyes looking searchingly into my own.

Your endless discovery of new things, your unceasing observation of how the world rotates about you, and your delight in the antics of your brothers' activities as they canter around you pawing at you to join into their games - all these things give me so much hope in and excitement for your future, and the working out of the man you are to become. I see that man tucked deeply within this beautiful human, so separated from the world around you and I ache to free you, to yourself and to the rest of the world that awaits you.

So, as we approach tomorrow - the day when we hope to obtain the official Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnoses from the doctors, I am filled with a dull sickness in my gut (what mother WANTS to hear that her child has a diagnosis???), but I am simultaneously filled with anticipation for what lies ahead in helping you, my beloved blue-eyed beauty, find your way out of the isolated world you are sometimes trapped inside, and into this world of language, music, and communication in all it's tangled power. We are on the eve of the discovery of yet another new, and likely wonderful, thing. The journey forward!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Pretzeled together

There's a boy pile on the floor in the bedroom, all pretzeled together in blissful slumber. I try to decipher which limb belongs to which boy in my attempt to cover each of you with a warm blanket for the remainder of this chilly evening. Your breathing is deep and contented. You are growing up but you're still so small, so very much in need of each other, and so beautifully happy to just "be", even if it means sandwiched together in a jumbled heap of bodies and blankets upon the floor.

Sometimes, I fret about meeting your needs, helping you become all that you have the potential to become, guiding you to find (true) joy (and the foundation it is built upon), teaching you Truth that will guide you ever forward, building into you strength that will carry you through this gauntlet that is life. The responsibility, called parenting, is impossible, if we plan to do it perfectly. So, I must resign myself to do it as well as I can, trust in the provision of Him, and rejoice in the outstanding men that you are - each of you. My heart is perpetually swollen with love for you.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Charm Shield

I was considering the precocious youngest member of our family, when I glanced over to see him dunking my cell phone into a large cup of bulletproof coffee (coffee, coconut oil, butter and milk). As our eyes met, his sparkled with mischief and he was soon (unsuccessfully) aflight in another direction lest consequences ensnare him. 

I simply marvel that anyone can be so filled to the brim with charms which he successfully wields upon each of his (suspecting or unsuspecting) prey/family members. Simultaneously, he has to be consistently guided away from impish ideas/actions and encouraged to make wise decisions. He is a picture of life, happiness, determination, with the uncanny quality of giving delight to and arousing admiration in all of us. 

Perhaps a charm shield is needed to raise this young human wonder. Daddy seems to have been born with some innate charm shield already in place, but I am likely to have to grow/develop one, as I am very susceptible to his magic ways.  

So as I said goodbye to the advent chocolates which charm bucket raided in the quiet of his afternoon "nap", peeled Jevy's drowning sweater from his body after his baby bro had "helped" him get a hefty dousing from the water bottle, plucked my phone out of steaming coffee, and chased the small human into his bed for the 5th time tonight ("never mind consequences", says he to himself... "they're overrated"), I sigh. And smile. He eats my lunch, it's true, but don't judge unless you, my friend, have successfully navigated the gauntlet of charms.  

Thursday, December 08, 2016

The Magic of Ordinary Days

Hoofing it through Sedona - 3 miles! 

Conquering the rock, as a team. 

Trail blazers.

Favorite place on earth with favorite people on earth. Picture perfect.

Tarantula. Obviously it's not a close up, because that would have required me to get... well... CLOSE to it. 

Daddy: zip line creator/hero to us all!

Zip line genius #1

Zip line genius #2

Daddy's work attire - in the cabin - because it's just that cold. :-) 


The very long, seemingly unending season - of waiting, worrying, struggling to make ends meet, wrestling as hope is deferred time and again - has taken it's toll on each of us.  And yet, I feel our family finding restoration, renewed strength, hope for whatever may lie ahead, as each day we are surrounded by the simple, yet profound beauty of this place, of this Creation. 

Can you spot our blissful Crazy White Dog?

Off to find internet access - in the woods - and the snow. Hey, a girl's gotta blog! :-) 

Daddy, making a science out of sledding. He's happened upon some excellent results! 

Two peas in a pod - or sled. 

Profound joy, even as they lost their sled 8 feet later. 

I am grateful for this season - for the lessons learned, for the man I am finding out I'm married to (!!! he's insanely cool!), for the joy I see on the faces of my boys, for the countless hours of adventuring in the woods/through the snow, for the parts of ourselves that each of us is discovering (re-discovering). 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Call me Harrold

"It's too comfy, Mama. I can't sleep on it." Paugie's perspective is always unique and even if it doesn't make sense, it's always endearing.

As he agonized over writing his letters during school, Paugie pleaded with me: "Mama, when you explain it that way, it's conservationing me and I am incapable of doing what you're asking." Perhaps I'm confusing him.

The kindness and love in Paugie's heart is reflected through so many things he does, including his persistent use of the "I Love you" sign flashed at each of us throughout the day. He has a hug and smile ready for everyone he greets. When someone gives him something special, his first thought is always of his brothers and how he plans to share his newfound treasure with each of them. How can we bottle up that character and pass it generously to every living human?

"I love you more than anyone has ever loved you", he stated this morning as he leaned against me while we sat drinking our hot tea. How I melted into a worthless puddle on the floor...

I walked down the stairs to see Paugie sitting on the couch with his eyes closed, talking out loud. When he heard me, he looked up and said, "Mama, I prayed because I needed to and then I prayed again because I know He loves to hear my voice." So right you are, beautiful human.

As we looked at the globe (our latest treasure from the thrift store), Paugie jumped up and cantered upstairs to grab one of his books. He enthusiastically brought it to me and shouted, "Look! The boot of Italy!" In a minuscule map at the back of one of his books, he showed me the parallel to what he had seen on his globe. He has an incredible eye for small details and their importance.

After spending the day with Gumpai, Paugie came into the house and I said, "Hey Paugie." He corrected me and said, "No, call me Harrold". Hmmm... Gumpai?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Water upon the rocks

As my favorite (new) coffee mug shattered across the floor this morning, the meltdown was sadly immediate. I have always said I would not cry over a broken cup, but alas, the 20 minutes of sobbing that ensued clearly made me a liar to myself. After Daddy ushered me out the door and pointed me in the general direction of the nearest coffee shop, I felt my head clearing a little and some small insight amidst the fog of frustration and exasperation that so easily overcame me this morning.

The broken cup indeed contributed to my sadness, but was not the true catalyst to the wellspring of tears. The persistent build-up of hope deferred, expectations unmet, and seemingly impossible log jams barring so many paths I (we) try to navigate has consequentially left me with a full bucket of frustration, with unbelievably few healthy outlets by which to process and alleviate it. So, as we continue to wait (for so many things that seem imperative to us from where we stand), I must, daily, choose to be content, to find goodness in the many truly great things that surround me, to persevere when strength is gone, to look up when I keep stumbling on the rocks below.

There is so much going on in this picture. This is but a moment in a day full of moments - my life is FULL! 

Precious baby toes in ice cold Oak Creek water. Magical. 

It's so easy to find laughter when I'm surrounded by these humans. Lipstick face (pictured here) informed me yesterday: "Mama, Kelton and I are going to Forestry School when he turns eight." Geniuses. 

We discovered a spring in Oak Creek Canyon with delicious drinking water pouring out of it. Gold mine! 

Putting his whole heart into school work. Love it!

Surrounded by Super Heroes... you know you're jealous.

Adventuring in the great outdoors brings us endless joy and surprises.

 He provides even for the tiny creatures in the wild, giving them water upon the rocks. 

Monday, November 07, 2016

Out of the Ashes... [Flag]

As we drove up to the mountains again today after spending a few days in the desert, I caught a glimpse of the Peaks, and the tiniest human behind me said what my heart felt at the sight: "Home, Mama. Home!"  Even though our time in this season is no doubt of short duration, a part of ourselves easily belongs and finds rest, hope, joy and excitement in what we find in each day here. In the eloquence of the Tiger in our midst: "Mama, adventuring is good for my heart. It fills me with so much joy. I think the mountains are kind of magical." I didn't argue.

We hoped hopped onto the dirt road leading to the cabin, and the boys rolled down the windows and turned up the music. Paugie, smiled up at me with cold cheeks and showed me the "I love you" sign on his hand and Madigan shouted from the back, "Mama, this is the best, right?" Yup. I promise to post pictures of our adventuring in a couple of days when I have happy internet access again.

While adventuring through a remote forest road last week, we came across an old burn, where what remained of the forest trees were blackened snags and stumps all about. The boys quietly took it all in, and then slowly started pointing out the signs of new life springing up everywhere amidst the blackness. Yellow flowers happily swayed in the breeze and green grass covered the forest floor (particularly of note because if the trees had remained as they were, the grass wouldn't have had sufficient light to grow). Paugie said, "See Mama, out of the ashes, new life will begin." "And beauty will rise", I said to myself. Out of this darkness, new life will come.

The uncertainty of what lies ahead gnaws at me sometimes, so the uninhibited joy I see in the faces around me and the confidence they have that "all of this" - the beauty that surrounds us in the forests and meadows - is made for our pleasure... well, it gives me renewed perspective each day and so much hope.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Thank you for the fleas

I recently re-read a book called "A Prisoner, and yet", by Corrie Ten Boom (I highly recommend it). At one point in the story when she and her sister, Betsy, are imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, their barracks are overrun with fleas. Her sister reminds her to "thank God for the fleas" - a notion Corrie initially finds justifiably impossible to do. Be thankful for fleas? Some time later Corrie realizes the guards do not enter their barracks or disrupt their gatherings with the other women because the guards wish to avoid the fleas that Betsy had thanked God for. It was an inspirational discovery for Corrie and her account has left a lasting mark on my perspective in life. Throughout each day as I am plagued with trials both small and insurmountable, I am trying to remember to be "thankful for the fleas". It's having the eyes to see that everything that happens - both good and bad - has profound meaning. It is part of something larger that is leading me/us toward something better (Rom 8:28). As Viktor Frankl said, "In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning..."

After a grueling 2 hour trial-by-fire with all four of my very docile children in the doctor's office, I traipsed about the (rather large) north Scottsdale for an additional 2 hours trying to find a pharmacy that had the medication I really rather desperately needed to procure by this point. Four pharmacies later, Walmart offered me hope and I rallied the entire weary bunch for one more visit to one more pharmacy. As we exited the vehicle, wailing ensuing from 2 out of 4 of the smaller humans, #3 proceeded to grab my snap button shirt and pull it open - completely open. With the assistance of one large gust of wind, I was in seconds topless, mortified and humiliated before every human in the Walmart parking lot, which seemed to be quite a few in that moment. I quickly re-positioned and re-buttoned my shirt after safely depositing the howling culprit into the basket and tried to decide whether to curse, cry or do both. I was instantly reminded that I chose to give birth to these four miracles of creation because I wanted to be their mommy. I was reminded to be "thankful for the fleas" as I also bask in the joy and delight of the life I have been given. Being "Mommy" is tough sometimes - okay, insanely brutal - but it is even more full of wonder and the greatest gift I have been given.

Oh you do I enjoy!

I would say it's safe to suggest that a few things have fallen through the cracks recently, but one thing that did not escape my notice was that our beautiful Jevy Bug swaggered into his fourth year with his lovable smile and bright blue eyes.

In the morning light
I hear you sigh
Asleep with the confidence that all is right
And another day draws nigh

Worry is not yours to entertain
Fear you do not know
Hope you ever sustain
With endless anticipation you grow

Disappointment is true
And tantrums are real
When your plans turn blue
And sadness you feel

My creator of delight
I love you friend, my boy
To hold you makes everything right
Oh you do I enjoy! 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

We Moved

As the weeks flitter away, I keep waiting to see if this blog will write itself, but alas. Since this is so much a record for my boys to follow in years to come, I am frustrated about what will not be included in this and coming blogs (i.e. events, sweet nothings, magical moments that have been lived and passed us by in these past weeks). I must, however, resign myself to what I can and will here forward.

This season (these past many months) has been one of challenges and changes. We watched potential job offers fall through in bountiful numbers and in the strangest ways, we said goodbye to our Valiant puppi, we said goodbye to Mr. Darcy, we sold our house, packing up all our belongings into boxes to store in the Gregory's garage (they are saints!), we said goodbye to Nashville and all those we love there, we loaded the horse, the dog and 4 strapping young men and drove to Arizona to temporarily reside in Mom and Dad's Flagstaff cabin (thanks to the incredible generosity of my parents who are truly showing us that love knows no bounds). Upon arriving, it became quickly apparent that Devany was not built to be a solo horse, so I re-loaded my faithful equine and headed for Texas where I left Devany to spend the remainder of our "homelessness" at Krista's barn (the boundless love of a sister...). George has remained in Nashville for the remainder of his employment (until the end of October), so our family has been separated from Daddy for way too long - the days are eeeeeeeeking by as we await our family's reunion.

So, as a conclusion to this brief, albeit overwhelming, summary, I will be including *Flag in the title of each blog written during this season, just to help my readers and my boys (in the future, should they read this history for themselves) make sense out of what often appears to be chaos.

If you would like our new address, please let me know!

Sunday, August 07, 2016


Yesterday, I said goodbye to my Woodeech. I will love you forever.