Trauma Scars

Mike and I went to an intensive training workshop based on the book and behavior modification method: Beyond Consequences.  It was an 8-week course where we drove to Roseville for a 2-hour class each Tuesday night.

It was intense.  In that class, filled with other parents in our shoes, our eyes were opened wide to 1) our future and 2) the depths of patience we'd have to acquire to face what will most certainly be some rough years ahead.  For reference, there were parents in there that had placed their child in day/overnight and even long-term residential treatment care.  There were parents that had a toaster oven thrown into their regular oven leaving a gaping hole in the oven by their child.  There was even a mom that had suffered a broken jaw at the hands of her child. It was eye-opening and scary.

We learned a TON of tools these weeks and mostly we didn't feel so alone in our struggles.  It is often isolating to live with a child with such intense special needs.  People are really quick to brush behaviors off and say "Oh yes, little Jimmy acts like that too" or "that's normal, my Annie does the same thing."  I know from the outside it might actually seem like that.  But the level to which we experience things with him inside our home is massively elevated compared to what you might see at Target.  Geez how I'd love to "just have" a Target meltdown these days instead of the insanity that happens at my house.  

Back to the class.

Week after week we'd learn another little nugget to tuck into our bag of tricks. How to deal with certain things. How to have patience when an explosion occurs.  How to laugh at some of the crazy crap that happens. How to use voice control and choices as parent-led control.  How to stay focused and aware in order to maintain perspective...just to name a few.

At that time we were treating for something called RAD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, which is an attachment problem that happens with some {adopted kids.}  It often happens in an environment where they weren't nurtured properly, they suffered abuse, saw terrible abuse happen, etc. We believed that Luke might be RAD based on his inability to accept love from me without flinching as well as other highly combative & disruptive behaviors.   The RAD therapy, which was interactive parent play therapy to enhance and re-establish a bond, was very very effective for us.  

However, they say with trauma-induced brain abnormalities, there are some deep scars that write paths in their brains and hard-wire them with a stream of consciousness that says "I am bad; I'm not good enough, I'm not loveable; I'm a bad person" and other horrible self-talk.  I learned through this Beyond Consequences training that trauma can be physical, verbal or emotional abuse that occurred at some point in your brain development. These Trauma Scars can create patterns & cycles.  Perhaps there was a season that the trauma occurred, the wound is made and the scar left in its wake.  Each year, this scar seems to repoen and  it is called a "trigger" time. 

Every year for as long as I've known Luke, the spring has been particularly rough. Usually, from February to April (whoa! Spring Break? YIKES.) it's awful.  The worst of the worse behavior that typically escalates each year as he grows and becomes increasingly challenging and harder to deal with.  Every single year I find myself thinking "What in the heck is going on?" Every year I re-analyze things...Did we change meds? Is his eating different? WHAT CHANGED??? NOTHING!!  Then something clicks "AH HA.  It's this time of year...his Trauma Scar."

Now if you are anything like me you are asking yourself "What happened to him???"  And the truth is, I don't know for sure.  What I DO KNOW is that trauma scarring can happen in utero.  Those precious innocent babies we carry inside our womb are exposed to every single thing we are exposed to - alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, anxiety, depression, abuse (emotional/physical/sexual) can all impact this innocent wee babe.

Around the same time we finished up this intensive training, I reached out to birth mom and asked for her help.  I asked for her to share with me the truth. To be honest and I will not judge or condemn but rather beg to have the truth in order to help this child.  Thankfully, she did.  She was forthcoming and honest. It was hard to hear and sad to know...BUT, now I know.  And while I don't know specifics (dates, times, events) I do know that things happened that profoundly affected a tiny little baby.  A baby that is now a boy with deep dark scars that will never go away.  Those scars seem to break wide open year after year leaving us full of sadness, feeling powerless and causing an enormous amount of stress on our entire family.

I'd love to say that this is the only time of year this happens, but the truth is, it is not.  It seems to be a cycle like many other things in life.  The scars are plentiful. And as the quote goes "the scars you don't see are the hardest to heal."  Never have their been truer words.



It's that time of year again.

That time of year when I begin to ponder where I'm at, where I've been and where I am going in the new year.  I always enjoy the feeling of starting fresh and having a clean slate.  I love that each day is a fresh opportunity to be our best selves and I FULLY embrace that ... but the beginning of a new year is truly like turning a big page in the book of life.

This past year I felt a little scattered.  I don't feel like I had a solid focus and then life dealt us what seemed like challenge after challenge after challenge.  I'm pleased to say we rolled with those challenges but a significant part of my year was spent "behind the eight ball" and feeling never caught up, never prepared, always chasing something and feeling never enough. Not enough time, not enough money, not enough space ... all while struggling knowing that many of these are #firstworldproblems

One of my major goals this past year was to be a bigger part of the financial picture in my home, meaning contribute more financially.  While I love (ADORE) my photography business ... it is unreliable in terms of being able to PLAN for the income.  It is a beautiful job in that it is flexible, but it is also a luxury item for people as opposed to a necessity.  Although I typically have a very busy fall, I cannot PLAN on having a busy fall.  WHY? Because of free will and choice! Everyone has a CHOICE in the matter ... will they have pictures taken again?  Do they NEED pictures taken? Will they even CHOOSE me?  You can understand why, although I'm hoping each year, I cannot count on that income.

We all have choices to make and I've been so very blessed to stay home with the kids since they were born while still pursuing passion projects I love. I also have a SUPER supportive husband who encourages me to do what I love and that means the world to me.

But what ended up happening is that I spread myself too thin, taking on more jobs, then getting really busy in my photography busy season.  I found myself going in every direction and none of them the RIGHT direction.  Exhausted is what I was more than anything else.  Add in that I'm a classic overachiever and truly all I was giving to each thing was less than 100% ... because how can you give 10 things a full 100%?  That is 1000% and no one has 1000% to give.  

So I find myself in this familiar spot once again ... reflecting & goal setting.  I LOVE the act of setting goals. I love writing my ambitions down and even more so, I LOVE crossing them off. (overachieve much? ;) cough, cough)

I haven't landed on a plan yet.  I'm still in the reflecting mode for the most part. But one thing I do know for sure ... I miss writing.  I miss this space to share a part of myself and a part of my life.  Sharing here not only keeps a history for me but it provides a space for me to connect with others and find common ground. 

So, I'm considering this the soft re-launch of the blog.  I know, I know.  WHY are you taking more on? Why are you putting more on your plate?  Listen, some things are going to come off of my plate to make space for this, rest assured.  But this space offers me sanity, a creative outlet, a space to connect, a way to hone my creative writing, an outlet for a brain dump and a journal for our family.  Because someday ... SOMEDAY ... maybe they will want to know how hard I tried, how tirelessly I worked and how very much I loved them in my own words. #goals

True Mom Confession #151

Man. I feel like mom life is filled with a butt load of the word "NO!"  Can I get an AMEN?  It starts early, usually around 9 months. At that point your kiddo becomes mobile and starts to explore their little world.  And in their world, a lot of things are unsafe. It then becomes our job (a job which sometimes feels like an entire existence) to keep them safe.  And DAMN.  There are a lot of unsafe things that kids like to get into...

And it doesn't end.  It changes from sharp corners, edges and light sockets to climbing structures, television choices, friend relationships and scary internet safety.  I'm sure even more experienced parents would add things like driving, dating, navigating curfews and more.  I shudder to even think about those things as I'm buried in the myriad of TWEEN safety issues right now.

But I digress. A lot of our "NO's" come from requests ... "Can I skip my homework?" "Can I go around the block by myself?"  "Can I do/go/say what I want when I want where I want?" NOOO!!!!! 

So when an opportunity to say "Yes" presents itself, I always try to give in to the YES.  I tell Mike often, "Take the EASY yes" because those little YES moments become little parenting "WINS" in a big sea of always saying NO.  And by little Yes moments I mean saying YES to "Can I I have a Freezee?"  "Can I stay up five more minutes?"  "Can you play a game with me?"  "Can I choose the song/show/movie etc?"  YES.  An easy yes.

Today I was in a real I WANT TO SAY NO moment.  Because sometimes the "No" comes simply from me (i.e., YOU) not wanting to DEAL.  Know what I mean?  You know inside your head what an ordeal or process something might be, even though it is SEEMINGLY so easy.  So you WANT to say NO but you also know it is an easy YES moment.  But sometimes an easy "Yes" means MORE WORK FOR MOM.  Work in the form of guidance, clean up, monitoring, engagement, a mess, fighting, whining, not sharing, competition and did I mention CLEAN UP?  Yeah, that.

Today after school I internally battled for about 5 minutes and in fact told Luke twice "No."  Then I took a deep breath and tried to decide if I was up to the challenge.  Do I have enough patience for this to be a "Yes" moment?!?  And I did it.  I signed up for the YES MOMENT.

What did he do?  HE MADE SLIME.

From one mama to another, grasp those "Yes" moments because they really do add up in a giant sea of "NO."  Now, off to go (help) clean up the slime mess. ;) 


The response I got about sharing my surgery was overwhelming!  Do you know how many of my friends have had a full-blown hysterectomy?  A LOT OF THEM!  I really valued hearing your success stories, having your support and in general the prayers & well-wishes.  It is really be encouraged.

I'd say the biggest encouragement I received was simply to REST.  I'm quite sure I got that from everyone because of my overachiever nature.  Over & over I was told "take the time to rest!"  So, I set my schedule up as such that would afford me one solid week of rest.  Yes, I was supposed to get two full weeks of rest but my mom could only be here for ONE.  I figured if I "did a really good job" that week, perhaps it would set me up well for the following week back on my own.

The other thing I did was enlist the kids! I asked them to carry ALL things, lift heavy stuff and run and get things I normally would just do myself.  While this all seems pretty simple and exactly what they SHOULD be doing all of the time -- they were not.  Why?  Because I just did it myself.  BUT, not any more. ;) This little shift has been very welcomed in my home and something I'll continue to do -- ASK FOR THEIR ABLE BODIED HELP. Duh.

I also had amazing friends that really took care of us.  Meals were delivered and if it wasn't meals, it was gift cards.  It is really so kind to be loved in that way.  Even if I wasn't eating or hungry (which at first I wasn't), I knew my family was cared for in a meaningful way.  It was very appreciated and valued. Thank you sweet friends, my tribe of moms!

But what I'd say was the most important thing to happen during that week (and the following week) was that I TRULY rested.  And you know what?  I kinda liked it.  I very much enjoyed not rushing.  I absolutely loved crawling into my bed before the sun set and not making up excuses for why I needed the rest or feeling guilty.  I SO loved binge watching Netflix ALL DAY ONE DAY. I loved the extra hands on deck and not being responsible for an entire week.  When at first I felt guilty and strange for taking the REQUIRED rest, I soon settled in to the nice hum of listening to my body RELAX.

And you know what ... my body responded so well.  It was as though she said "what IS this you are doing to me and KEEP doing it."  I loved the mental break, the feeling of NOT rushing everywhere and NOT being busy.  It really made me take a GIANT step back and think about WHY am I rushing everywhere? WHY am I trying to bust my butt for demands that NO ONE is placing on me but that I am merely placing on myself?  And finally I thought ... "Perhaps if this rest thing is SO GOOD and my body is responding THIS WELL ... I should do it more often."

Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Rest.  I will incorporate more rest into my life (and our lives) because we will all be the better for it.  I felt recharged after my time of rest, despite having major organs removed from my body. 

I'd encourage you to not wait until a doctor tells you that you have to have a full set of organs removed before you find real, true, authentic rest.  You will be a better mom, wife, daughter, friend, employee and person for treating your body to the rest it deserves.  Trust me, I'm going to be taking my own advice as often as possible.

Blame it on the Rain.

The first time I had to have surgery was when I was 14 years old.  It started as debilitating lower abdomen pain that felt like knives stabbing me.  It was inconsistent but persistent over a few months.  I was a freshmen in High School so my mom at first thought it was nerves about school or feelings of anxiety.  As a parent myself now, i totally understand why she would think that. But after three Gyno visits it was confirmed that I had tumors on my ovaries and they'd need to be removed.  Kinda shocking given that I'd barely had a period for a year at this point. (Sorry guys reading. That will be the last time I talk about my period in this post. Maybe.)

Mostly what I remember from that surgery was recovering on the second level of our home in the guest bedroom my parents set up for me ... missing my first High School Homecoming & my dad joking about my IV pole being my date ... me getting mad at him for making me laugh because LAUGHING HURTS ... flowers, balloons, cards, visits from friends ... and Marc Brookings making me a cassette tape copy of his newest favorite band, Millie Vanilli. :)  I guess I should really blame it on the rain, yeah yeah?

I don't have much recollection of the recovery but obviously I did just fine and moved about my life just fine.  Then, the tumors (benign Dermoid tumors) returned when I was 25 and I had yet another surgery.  This time I fell into the hands of the sweetest and kindest D.O. on the planet.  He really took good care of me during this surgery and cleaned up some of the "mess" of the first surgery.  The Doctor for the first surgery at 14 was unkind and rough on my insides, not thinking about preserving my organs for the future.  The Doctor at 25 had a lot of repair work to do and took great care in "giving me a fighting chance."  He also looked my then boyfriend in the eye and said "Um, not sure what you are thinking but this girl needs to have babies FAST!"  Pregnancy is a "cure" for endometriosis which I had and we just weren't certain how child bearing would work with the "mess" in there.

My boyfriend soon became my husband and we entered into then YEARS of infertility which I talk about on my old blog deeply and openly.  Was the infertility a result of the first botched surgery? Perhaps but our plan is written long before us so I know that I was truly living God's calling for me.  During our infertility battles I had yet another surgery to remove a large polyp that had taken up my entire uterus. We had hoped that would free space for a baby to implant and grow but ultimately that led us to adopt Bella & Luke.  

So if you are counting, I'm up to THREE surgeries since I was 14 years old on the same are of my body.  Somehow, some way (Um, thank you Jesus!) I got pregnant.  Again, if you followed my blog I enjoyed every single minute of that gift of pregnancy.  It wasn't lost on me what an amazing profound gift that was to either of us and we are eternally grateful.

Ultimately, that pregnancy came with #noahpants being breech, making an early arrival and yeah ANOTHER abdominal surgery!  While on the table having a baby my doctor literally said "I do not know how you got pregnant, it's a mess in here."  GOD.  We believe in miracles, as we already had two such miracles before Noah - each in their own special miraculous way.

Four.  Fours surgeries over 20 years.  My insides quite possibly are a mess and quite honestly have continued to cause me problems - hormonal, cyclical and most recently pain.  The tumors have returned. SIGH.

I don't want to do this again.  I don't want the tumors to come back.  I don't want to worry about it one day being cancerous. (not that I can ever fully prevent that!).  I discussed options with my doctor and decided a full hysterectomy would be the right path for me right now.  When I asked her "do I have a case for my insurance to pay for this?" She laughed so hard!  "Have you READ your file??" ;) I guess my long history makes a case of its own.

While there is NO GOOD TIME to have a hysterectomy, tomorrow will be mine.  It is a "routine" surgery and I will spend one night in the hospital then take it easy at home for a couple of weeks. I have arranged for my family to come and generous friends have kindly helped in ways of food, childcare and more.  The stars have actually aligned for this timing to be quite right and I am grateful.

I won't turn away your prayers and I humbly accept them. However, if Marc Brookings doesn't burn me another Milli Vanilli cassette tape this time I'm going to be super pissed.  Girl, you know its true. ;) 


Perhaps one of my biggest struggles as a parent of a special needs child is that he doesn't APPEAR to be a special needs child.  Luke presents as a typical child who exhibits typical child behavior.  So often times you find yourself WANTING your child to be typical or for a minute you think they ARE typical ... when in fact, they are not.

Just like many other moms around the universe, in the late winter baseball info came out for spring sessions.  Luke had participated in baseball since Kindergarten with the best group of boys and coach.  He genuinely likes baseball. Not to the degree that some kids do - practicing nonstop, knowing stats, loving to watch it on TV, etc. He's more of a "I watched Sandlot kid and think baseball is fun." :) And that is ok with us - you don't need to set the world on fire you just need to have a desire to do it and a commitment to the team.

We discussed baseball between ourselves assessing where he's at currently and what we thought he was capable of. In general, Luke struggles with some things baseball requires like FOCUS, DETERMINATION & HUSTLE.  Another difficult area for him is the social engagement and appropriate social behavior.  However, we signed him up, asked for a specific coach and held our breath.

And in the beginning, it went pretty well.  His skills were improving and he was listening. He seemed to enjoy being there and there was minimal jacking around.  That thing is that as each practice/game went on his behavior worsened and his ability to concentrate weakened and his social interaction deteriorated.  Getting him to the game became harder & harder - God forbid it was hot outside (ya know, like 80).  The complaints were rising, the helmet that fit for the last 4 weeks suddenly no longer worked and caused a major meltdown and socially awkward became the norm.

One hard hot Saturday I barely got him to the field and it started. The complaints, the arguing & the list a mile long of all of the things that were my fault.  I set up my chair and watched as he proceeded to implode right before my eyes.  And I watched the others boys -- the boys were there for the love of the game - to PLAY BASEBALL!  My heart ached. So badly I just wanted to flip that switch for him - to make it all ok.

Luke wasn't focused on the good, the game, the fun, the other boys. No, he was fixated and there was no getting him off of the supposed poor fit of the helmet, the heat or the frustration.  I packed up my chair and said "Let's go."

As we walked away from the field, leaving his team and a sea of parents hot tears rolled down my face and I choked back sobs of sadness.  I walked ahead of Luke and he carried his stuff that quite frankly on a normal day he refuses to carry - but he knew I was upset.

Once we got to the car, I put my head on the steering wheel and wailed like a baby.  Uncontrollable sobbing. The kind that you cannot control. The kind where it feels like someone has hands on your heart & they are squeezing it. The kind that you can't catch your breath or see through your eyes.

Luke said "I'm sorry mom. I'll go back. I didn't know you'd be so sad.  I'll try again Mom."

But in that moment, I knew we were done.  I was done.  I'm done asking him to behave in a typical environment when he isn't capable of that.  I'm done fretting over every little thing from the side lines.  I'm done begging him to like something he doesn't like.  I'm done dragging him places he doesn't want to be - he just thinks he wants to be. I am done.

It wasn't so much a 'giving up on him' deal as much as it was a BIG SMACK OF REALIZATION.  He is different.  He cannot perform or manage typical 8 year old tasks.  I cannot keep expecting him to perform typically, when he isn't typical.  SO WHY DO I KEEP DOING IT?  For myself? To pretend he's high functioning, when he is not?  It's not fair. It's not fair to the kids & coaches that show up for the love of the game.  It's not fair to him to expect him to behave in a way he simply CANNOT.  It's not fair to me to try time and time again expecting different results. If I'm correct, that IS the definition of insanity. Yes?

So it was time to stop the insanity.  It felt simultaneously HORRIFIC and LIBERATING.

We came home and he wrote an apology letter to his coach (I've still got to get that into the mail!) and I wrote an email explaining the situation.  Our decision was met with kind support and understanding. I am grateful & humbled for that.

I guess if you are reading this there are a couple of things I hope you take away.

  1. Just because someone doesn't look disabled or special needs on the outside, doesn't mean they don't carry that on the inside.  So when you see that "bad kid" acting out at the grocery store or ball field - give the child (and that parent) GRACE.  You have NO IDEA what is causing that meltdown. Sensory overload? Heat?  Exhaustion? Mental deficit? Anxiety triggers?  WHO KNOWS.  There is no such thing as a bad kid. There are bad choices, bad circumstances and bad decisions - but not bad kids. Most often these kiddos didn't DO ANYTHING to warrant their brain make-up or deficiencies. 
  2. I realize there really is no "NORMAL" and that is a taboo word today.  I used "typical" throughout my post for a reason.  Typical means - the standard of expectation; the middle ground; showing characteristics expected ... in the future, I'll likely write more on my thoughts about "normal" & "typical" expectations.
  3. We aren't quitters.  We made this decision with a lot of care & thought and it was a very very hard choice.  However, we believe it is the right choice in our circumstances.  I'd ask that as a population, we be less judgmental about the choices other families have to make - for the SAKE of their family.  No one EVER wants to let others down, but I also NEVER want my family to suffer in a way I can prevent.

Baseball is awesome.  I loved watching the boys grow, develop & learn on the ball field.  I was excited to go and watch and see the boys each week.  I miss the moms that I got to connect with on a deeper level too.  I think there are a lot of lessons that can be learned on the ball field - and it looks like our family learned a lot from baseball too.

tides change.

Oh man.  It's that time of year again.

I find that many moms fall in one of these two camps:

  2. I might die with my kiddos home this summer!!

And guess what I'm here to tell you, even if you fall into number 2, like I do, YOU ARE STILL A GOOD MOM.  YOU STILL LOVE YOUR KIDS.  YOU STILL LOVE SUMMER.  You most likely just do not enjoy the change of the tides.

Each year I find myself mourning school being over.  Not because my kiddo is going into the next grade and becoming a little person more & more each year.  I'm mourning because of the challenges around the corner. The ones I cannot predict. I'm mourning for the loss of the schedule and structure that school provides because SOHELPMEGOD I try really hard to create structure every summer and still #fail every year.  I'm mourning because that bickering and poking and jabbing that my kids do for the 90 minutes each morning will now be x10 and I'm not sure how I'll ever connect a single stream of thoughts in my brain that make sense or GET CRAP DONE.

I actually am pretty jealous of the moms in the number 1 category.  I actually long to feel that bubbling excitement to GET TO be with them more and GET TO do special things and GET TO have a looser schedule. I really do.  Because I do WANT those things but our unique challenges in our home limits this enjoyment SEVERELY.

So I guess part of my mourning, is mourning NOT BEING NORMAL.

I'm smart enough to know and understand that there is NO NORMAL.  That everyone, even the Pollyanna's of the world, have frustrating days, meltdowns at the Strawberry Patch and mind numbing kid squabbles.  

So as we entered that last four days of school this week I feel that familiar feeling I like to call "hopeful dread."  I AM hopeful.  I've said it before, "I'm a sunny side up kind of person" so I never ever give up hope. But there is always that "realistic dread" I feel too.

Sadly, one of the kids said "You don't want us home for summer."  I said ... "Quite the opposite, I DO want you home & I DO want to have fun and I DO want to be with you...I just don't like what comes with it!  Boredom, complaining, pestering one another, fighting/yelling/jockeying for position."  I went on to say "I love each of you and WANT to have fun but all together, sometimes it's pretty miserable."

As the tide changes again I'm going to focus on a few of the fun moments we have ahead ... less lunches to pack (why is that such a chore?), a looser time schedule and no TRUE rush in the mornings, more relaxed evenings enjoying the warm weather, some fun travel plans/camps/adventures we have in store and family visits.

History tells me that every single year I dread it and every single year I survive.  And sometimes, I even like it. ;)

Tell me, are you a number ONE mom or a number TWO mom?  Perhaps all of us are just a little of BOTH! Leave a comment and let me know what kind of mom you are and your FAVORITE TIP for beating summer boredom!! GO!

why NOT you.

A few weeks ago I was in a really dark space.  That doesn't happen to me very often. I'm a pretty "sunny side up" kind of person so being in a dark place is very foreign to me and quite hard.

A series of things led me there, all of which seemed to spontaneously combust in the same week. It was one of those weeks where you say "it can't get any worse than this!" Then a BOMB drops.  Yeah, one of those.

I could whine about all of it and cry you a river, I really could. But I'm just going to focus on one part in particular.  

I've shared before that last summer, nearly one year ago, that Luke was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder. This has been a really hard hit to our family over the last year.  One because, its just a really sad PREVENTABLE diagnosis, but also one that is irreversible & not treatable. You CAN manage the symptoms, you CANNOT take away permanent brain damage.  We, over the coarse of the year, have learned how to cope & help.

This has been a very labor intensive process for me. Loads of paperwork, meetings, knocking on doors, referrals, more meetings, OH & money.  I have made great strides in the process but it is often one step forward, three steps back.

But I've persevered, for HIM.  I am his only advocate.  I find myself wearing thin and then I say to myself "he didn't ask for this life."  When I'm feeling weak & at the end of my rope I always go back to this.  AND the knowledge that God literally placed him in our lap.  God most certainly knows something I do not & I have trust in His judgement, even on days when I feel completely inept & unsuitable.  I know we were chosen.

But as I found myself in this dark place of despair, sadness and a feeling of hopelessness (Luke had run away, again! He has a strong "fight or flight" reflex and does both amazingly well leaving us scared for our/his safety) with no relief in sight ... I was crying myself to sleep that night.  So so so sad.  Worried for him, for us, for our family dynamics, for the challenges we face daily, for the fear in my heart, for his inability to follow simple directions, comply or rationalize.  I lay in by bed - pillow stained with mascara and wet with tears and for the first time ever I said ... "WHY ME."

And a clear as day a gentle warmth flooded me and a very loud voice whispered in my ear ... "WHY NOT YOU?"

Friends, I heard that answer to my "WHY ME" so clearly in that moment.  I smile came to my face and within seconds I fell asleep feeling comforted and able.  When I woke the next morning I felt sunny again, feeling hopeful and ready to tackle life again.

I'm not close to any life changing solutions or the cure for all that is challenging in our house by any means. But I am equipped by God to handle whatever this life brings.  He reminded me that night to lean in and listen.  When I am weak, He is strong.

Our family is still in the storm. In fact, our life might always be in somewhat of a storm status but I know who we are guided by and that brings me great comfort, even amid the chaos ... and I have PLENTY of that. 

Austin Jo Kitty Boy.

No way we said.  Never.  No, never will we have a pet of any kind.

You know the things you say to yourselves as a new couple completely surrounded in that new love ideal bliss! "We are SO perfect! Our kids will NEVER watch TV in the car; our kids won't get dirty/cause a mess/throw a fit in a store/be obnoxious/eat crap food" You fill in the blank - we've ALL said these things ... BEFORE CHILDREN.

And I sort of think it's a rite of passage.  

It is a rite to make bold statements and declarations.  Some will stick and others will not.  I've learned parenthood is a LOT about "eating crow" on the things you "thought" you'd do or not do before these little angels made their debut.

And a big one for us was NO PETS.  I grew up with pets - none really my own except for that kitty I brought home from Gladfest one year simply because I overheard my parents having a conversation about "needing a kitty to deal with the mice problem" with construction going on behind our development.  I thought I was doing them a favor. HA! That cat was named Snickers but more commonly referred to as "the devil kitty from hell." It wasn't very nice, hence the name.  And it was strange as cats go.

And that's the thing about cats - you never know what you are gonna get.  Snickers (DKFH), really taught me that some cats suck.  I never had a real fondness for dogs in general - a couple of bad childhood experiences along with most dogs affinity for jumping on me sealed the deal.

Mike grew up pet less with a mom scared of anxious about pets.

So when we met we were like "AH! Match made in heaven! No pets!"  And the deal was sealed.

THEN.  We had kids.  And you know what kids like? PETS.

Three years ago on Mother's Day (of all days) Mike took the kids out to "give me some time alone" and he came back with three Beta Fish.  Nothing says "Happy Mother's Day" like 3 tiny fish to be responsible for!  And essentially, that one step "broke the seal" into pets. I know, a fish isn't really a pet.  And they were easy to care for too. But the kids, especially Bella, grew in her love of animals.

For about 3 years she has been campaigning for a kitty cat.  Every birthday, every Christmas, every holiday she'd ask for a kitty cat.  And we stood firm.

Until we didn't anymore.  This past year has been a growing year for Bella and one that has also brought some anxiety.  As she started taking horseback riding lessons, it became more and more apparent just how deeply she loves animals and how very healing for her they can be.

BIG SIGH.  All of your "ideals" can get completely thrown out the window when your kid NEEDS something or truly would be better because of it.  I cannot tell you the number of compromises we've made "for the better of" our children.

On Mother's Day this year, Bella's Beta Fish Maria (the last of the three alive!), was found belly up.  Three years to the day we got her.  That same day, Bella and I made a trip to the Humane Society (after stalking the website for many days) where she fell in love with Austin.

Austin is a 7 week old short haired Tabby kitten with orange & white coloring.  To tell you it was love at first sight, is a gross understatement.  She IS the heart-eyed emoji all day & all night.

Meet Austin.  Austin Jo (she was asked his middle name and quickly picked Jo!).  

Austin Jo


Kitty Boy.

So, here we are, eating crow once again.  Somehow I don't think this is our last time. ;)