Sunday, September 10, 2017


I just want next weekend to come and go.  I know the emotional toll it will take on my soul and the anticipation of that is crippling.  I suspect I am not the only one who feels this way - I bet it is the same with any traumatic anniversary.  "We now interrupt your perfectly unperfect life for this painful reminder of what you survived."  Thanks.

People ask me various questions about the accident, especially around this time of year, but the hardest one is: Do you forgive the people responsible?  Yes, generally.  But not on the Anniversary.  On the Anniversary, I have mini conversations with them.

I ask them why they couldn't have left wherever they were  one minute later ?

I ask them if they have nightmares.  And when they say yes, I am satisfied.  Ashamed, but satisfied.

Forgiveness is a daily thing.  We can make up our minds to forgive, and we choose to forgive each day.  But on the Saturday of Opening Weekend, I give myself permission not to forgive.  And it feels good.  I can't believe I am admitting to that, but once a year, I let the anger out of its cage and it brings me to my knees.

Here's what the anger sounds like:

My mind screams and my eyes overflow with hot tears. I wonder if they realize that magnitude of that night, or if they file it away deep in their brains because it hurts too much to think about how something they did has left an everlasting hardship.

I think about how my husband will never feel grass or sand beneath his feet.  I think about how every morning he works up a sweat just getting dressed.  I think about all of the missed family vacations and outings.  I think about how our youngest noticed that daddy has no feet.  He has no feet.  Imagine that.  Imagine how hard EVERYTHING would be?

And I wonder if those thoughts cross their minds - if they even let themselves go there. I get pissed in a protective way, which is the hardest way to be pissed off because it's not about you.  It's about someone you love.

And then it's Sunday.  And I think about how God loved us and continues to love us.  I think about where our lives were headed and where they are now.  I think about all of the talented people that saved his love and in turn, created life.  I think about how we didn't let the devil win.  About how God battled for our hearts.

And my anger turns to thankfulness.  Not thankful that it happened, but just thankful.  I feel sorrow for the people responsible because of course they have "gone there," and I have no idea how that must haunt them.

 On Sunday, I forgive.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Thank You Teachers

It's the eve of the First Day of School, and my 10 year old daughter couldn't be more excited. Yes, she's excited to see her friends and to play at recess.  She's excited to wear her new outfit and use her new supplies.  But mostly she is excited for what a new school year stands for: possibility. And I have you, her teachers to thank for that.

Nessa has learned that school can be hard - she will be challenged by her teachers and her peers to outgrow herself in every way imaginable. But, she knows that through the challenges, she will come out better.  More refined.  Smarter and more compassionate.  And I have you, her teachers to thank for that.

She started school at three years old, barely able to remember her last name.  Now she writes persuasive essays to the neighbors about homelessness and animal rights.  She had her ABCs memorized (the younger ones who follow will not - you've been warned), and now she is reading beautifully written historical fiction that teaches of struggle and triumph.  And I have you, her teachers to thank for that.

She is memorizing multiplication and division facts, and while there is something about math that give her hesitation, she powers through.  She sets goals.  She works hard.  And I have you, her teachers to thank for that.

Thursday, we will send Nessa's sister Lainey to 4K.  She will enter the school system for the first time.  With Nessa, I was nervous - hesitant to let her go outside of our safe little bubble.  But with Lainey, we are excited.  We know she will be loved.  And Lainey is excited, too, because thanks to her big sister, she knows no other way to think about school.  And I have you, her teachers to thank for that.

To Mrs. Mares and Mrs. Krueger - this years' teachers:

Thank for for what I know you are about to do.  All summer, you have been with your kids.  Three months of stay-at-home mom life balanced with a bunch of professional reading and training.  But, still, you have had three months where your own kids have been front and center.  And this week, you are about to make my kids yours.

You will think about my kid during Packers games.  You will pray for her at church.  You will make plans for her and design lessons that are engaging yet challenging.  You will tell yourself that you are "taking the weekend off," but you won't.  I know this because I know your hearts.  You will feel guilty for telling your own kids, "I'll be there in a minute" but it will really be more like 20 because you're answering my email question about the field trip form I never returned.

You will give so much of yourselves to my kids.  So much so that my kids will become your kids, just like all of the teachers who have come before you.

And for this, I thank you all.

Monday, October 26, 2015

I'm Sorry….

Dear Josie Mae,

I need to apologize to you for a few things:

* the fact that you are over 2 months old, and this is the first time I'm writing about you.
*forgetting to take your one month picture and posting it on Facebook (*GASP*)
*taking your 2 month picture when you were actually closer to 3 months.... Oh well.
*always feeding you while chasing your sister or with your bottle propped up in the car.
*failing to record your first smile in your baby book - I'm pretty sure you have a baby book somewhere...
*skipping a birth announcement - everyone on Facebook knows, so what's the point, right?

Okay - so basically all of the documentation I did for your sisters, I haven't been on top of with you.

But, here's what you're getting in return:

*a lot of dance parties while strapped to me in the Ergo.
*trips to the corn maze, apple picking, and the pumpkin patch.
*a big sister (Annessa) who reads to you all the time.
*another big sister (Elaina) who feeds you and alerts me anytime your eyes are open.  Oh, and she also pretends to be a monster to wake you up.
*jumps in leaf piles and walks through the neighborhood.
*midnight cuddles when no one else is awake.
*Lots and lots of noise - singing, talking, yelling, whispers and laughter.

So, there you have it.  Your baby book (where ever it is) may not be full to the brim, but you are so, so loved.

Until next time (hopefully before you turn one!) -

Friday, June 12, 2015

Princess, Monster, and the Karate Kid

I currently live with a princess (Annessa), a monster (Elaina) and the Karate Kid (unborn child # 3).  My oldest daughter is pretty jealous of Duchess Kate and Princess Charlotte.  I can relate, their lives do seem pretty fabulous from the outside looking in (although I've heard the little prince is quite the spit-fire, so that makes me think that maybe no matter how great it seems on the outside, on the inside, we all struggle with the same stuff).  Lainey, on the other hand, is obsessed with Sully from Monsters University and runs around the house roaring with her fingers clenched like claws.  Meanwhile, Baby Girl # 3 is karate chopping her days away in my uterus.  No gentle rolling felt here.  All rapid-fire kicks and jabs.

I'm amazed by how my girls are so different (I'm assuming # 3 will have her own little personality as well-and I have to say, the curiosity of what our 3rd would be like was a driving factor in the decision to forego birth control and "see what happens").  The older they get, the more we uncover about who they are.  Annessa is showing more sensitivity now than ever before, while Lainey is showing more spunk than we ever thought our mild-mannered baby would have.  Both girls are funny in their own little ways - Annessa with the way she is experimenting with her sense of humor, and Lainey with the way she crosses her arms and huffs when she doesn't get her way (dangerous to laugh at, we know).

They fight like I never knew sisters fought.  As a girl with brothers, I had only heard about how territorial sisters can be, but now I actually LIVE inside of this craziness.  Yet, as the end of the day, this happens:

And I remind myself that I am the lucky one that gets to watch these sister relationships grow.  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Middle Child

Dear Ruthie,

In a few months, you are about to go from the "baby" to the "middle child."  Being the baby of the family has certain perks, that's true, but being the middle child has its benefits, too.

You will have the best of both worlds: You'll always be a little sister to Annessa and now a big sister to ??.

So, as I hear your dad and sister waking up, I have to bring this (short) post to a close.  But, what i really wanted to say can be said in one sentence anyway: You are a middle child - precious and beautiful, but most of all, you are you.

Love you Ruthie,

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Annessa: My Prayer for You in the New Year

Dear Annessa,

I love you so much it hurts.  You have become a girl overnight (how did that happen??).  Gone is the toddler that used to climb on everything and dance in the yard wearing last year's halloween costume.  Any trace of baby, toddler, even preschooler is gone.  Now you do things that girls do.  You do wonderful, delightful things like teach your little sister animal sounds and write in your diary.  You laugh and sing and dream about meeting Katy Perry.

You roll your eyes.  You look at me like I am crazy.  You have even written me a note that, dare I admit it, says, "I hate you" - only to crumple it up minutes later and tell me you didn't mean it.  But still.  That's what I remember doing when I was a little girl.  I was so jealous of my cousin's relationship with La-La that I wrote little "I hate you" notes to my aunt and left them all over La-La's house (they were living with La-La at the time).  Of course I didn't really hate them, but when you are little, sometimes the gray area feelings that have nothing to do with anyone but how you feel about yourself are hard to describe.

Anyway…..This girl stuff scares me.  It's true what "they" say about parenting getting harder as your kids get older.  You are becoming your own person.  So wonderful.  So smart.  So individual.  And so mine.  I feel like Daddy and I are the guardians of your heart right now.  Our words have the power to build you up or tear you down.  In large part, your sense of self comes from how we are choosing to raise and parent you right now.  And to be honest, that scares the (shit) out of me.

So, my prayer for you in this new year actually has nothing (yet everything) to do with you. I pray that Daddy and I will "show up" for you every day.  That we will hear God when He tells us how to respond to your tears, your anger, your sadness and your joy.  He knows your heart the best. My prayer is that we build you up with our words and actions.  That we are worthy examples of how to live in a Godly way.

Being a girl is scary.  There are lots of people out there saying you need more of this, less of that, bigger this or smaller that.  But, if we can show up for you everyday,  then maybe you will discover that you are enough.

You always were enough and you always will be enough.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Bucket of Pain

Pain.  Does it ever really get better?  Or, do we just get better at covering it up?  On the anniversary of a tragedy (a life-changing injury or the death of someone in your inner circle, a divorce….the list could go on and on), well-meaning people tend to say something like, "I hope that the pain gets less and less with each passing year," or, "Time heals all pain."

But I kinda have a problem with that.  Those kinds of sentences (despite the person's good intentions) implies that pain is something that vanishes over time.

Like, your pain is in a bucket and with each passing year, you take a scoop of pain out.  If you follow that logic, then at some point, depending on how much pain there was to begin with, the bucket would be empty.  You would be pain-free.

But that's not how I see it.  Deep, dark pain - the kind of pain that changes every aspect of your life - never goes away.  It doesn't get easier with each passing year.  Not a day goes by that you are not reminded of what was lost.  Sure, in the beginning, you probably cried yourself to sleep.  Maybe even hated the world and the way everyone in it just went about their day as if nothing even happened while you were so overcome by tragedy that you could barely move. Or speak. Or think.

That's in the beginning.  After the beginning, when everyone assumes you have moved on and adjusted to the "new normal," that damn pain is still there.  It's always there.  You just make a Choice to move forward with life.

Sometimes the Choice to move on is the most painful thing of it all.

It makes it seem like it doesn't matter.  Like you're okay with the way things are.

But, we all know that is not true.  We're not okay with the way things are.  But, what Choice do we have?  Lay in bed all day and let our kids grow up without a mom or a dad?  Lose our jobs?  Drink?  Sure, those things might happen.  But then we wake up and realize that it's time to join the rest of the world.  The rest of the stupid world that is moving on with their days.

Except, what if the "rest of the world" is hiding pain too, just making it through the day?   What if everyone is making a Choice to put their bucket of pain on a shelf and rejoin society?  That's what I think.  Everyone has pain.  The pain doesn't go away.  Deep down, it's there, and all it takes is a song, a memory, and smell to bring it back to the surface.  As if all of the living you've been doing never happened and you're right back at the scene of the crime - when your life was split into two parts.

Before and After.

But then the phone rings, the kids call or the light turns green and we quickly push the bucket back on the shelf, and rejoin the After.

Because, after all, what Choice do we have?