The Long & Short of It

If you just want the short version, scroll down.

The Long:
I’ve told the story a hundred times but it never gets old to me. Does it for any mother? The hours I pushed. How he seemed to be stuck. And then POP! (I actually felt a pop, unlike anything I’ve ever felt before or since). And then he tumbled into this world, and it was there but no one saw it. You can see it clearly when you look at the pictures. It’s funny how pictures capture things you never noticed in the moment. They cleaned him up and there were some whispers. The nurses noticed quickly and paged the on-call pediatric nurse practitioner. She swooped in, swaddled him, and brought him over to me. She held him near me, talked of abnormalities and what they knew and what they didn’t know. He is healthy, she said, but there’s this one thing. And she danced around the one thing for what seemed like ages. It may or may not be related to any other issues. We don’t know. It’s nothing I’ve personally ever seen before, she said. And, y’all, my honest thought was that he had an extra head growing out of his neck. It seems ridiculous now, but that’s what I thought. I’ve always had an (over)active imagination. She finally got around to telling me about this “abnormality” and I laughed. I laughed! And then she looked at me like I had an extra head growing out of my neck! She’s prepped it as some big, awful thing and I was just so grateful he didn’t have a neck-head that I laughed. So he was born with 10 tiny fingers and 8 tiny toes. Even then, I never worried. And I can usually compete in the national championship of worrying, but with this it just was. The pediatrician came in the next day and said that sometimes some syndromes can be connected with limb deformities but my heart-gut knew that he was syndrome-free. My very first baby, I (of course) thought he was perfect. I was (and am) proud of his special foot and I love that he embraces it as what makes him unique.

We saw a few specialists after he was born (thankfully we were living near an academic medical center that has great doctors and many resources) and it was decided that we would do nothing for now. Nothing can be done to add extra toes (and there’s no need, really). But eventually, when he was around 10, something would need to be done about the discrepancy between his leg lengths. When he started walking, they said, he may need a shoe lift. But he walked well without it and the difference in length wasn’t enough to harm his hips and so we just let it go. We’ve always had to buy two pairs of shoes to create one “Carter pair” but that’s manageable. Last year it was decided that the difference was enough to warrant a shoe lift - a pretty significant one at about 3/4in. And so we bought four pairs of shoes (to make two pairs) and took them to the orthopedic shoe place where they sent them off and had them custom-made. It wasn’t difficult, but it wasn’t cheap either. But you do what you have to do and move on with it, I suppose.

A few weeks ago I noticed that his gait had returned to a limp-step, much like he’d had right before we started with the lifts. So I called his orthopedic’s office and asked what I needed to do to get a new lift prescription. They told me I needed to bring him in and be measured again. So yesterday a friend (thank goodness she was able to go!) piled into the car with me and the kids and we drove to his office, which is about 2 hours away. I assumed we’d be in and out like normal. It didn’t happen quite like that. I won’t go into all the details of the visit because although it’s an adorable story, it’s not my story to tell. Maybe one day Carter will share with you but it’ll be up to him whether or not he shares that part. I will say this much. When the doctor first suggested that it was time to do the procedure, Carter wasn’t very thrilled with the idea. The doctor, resident, and I talked over the options and I made the choice on how and when to proceed. In retrospect, I should have included him then, but I didn’t. I’ll just blame that on the fact that I was a little surprised that we were here already. Last year we’d been told his bone age wasn’t anywhere close to where it needed to be for surgery. I knew he’d grown significantly in the past year, but I didn’t realize it was that much. So I called Marshall and was going over things with him when I noticed that Carter was sitting there, stunned. I  quickly hung up the phone and sent my friend out to the waiting room with the other children so that he and I can talk. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t included him in the conversation at all. I try to be cognizant about keeping my kids in the know about things that will affect them and I felt really awful that I’d just breezed through this without ever talking to him. I asked him what questions he had and he had some really great questions. Questions that I, honestly, probably should have asked before consenting to such a big procedure. So I asked if the doctor could come back in and answer some questions. The resident came in and was so very wonderful with him as he asked a handful of really thoughtful and specific questions. I told him later that I was proud of how logical he was about it all and how professional he sounded when he asked his questions. He didn’t shy away. He knew what he wanted to know and he asked.

The Short:
So here we are. After a lifetime of knowing that this was coming, it kinda slapped me in the face when it got here. I was expecting another prescription for a new shoe lift; I left with a surgery scheduled for a little more than two weeks away. The procedure is called an epiphysiodesis. The epiphysis is the big, rounded end of your leg bone. Between that big, rounded end and the long, straight part of the bone is an area called the epiphyseal plate, or (as most of us would call it) the growth plate. They will use an eight-plate, which is (as you may have guessed) a plate that’s shaped like an 8. And they’ll use this plate to essentially hold the big, round end of the bone and the long, straight part of the bone together so that the growth plate can’t grow. This will allow the shorter leg to catch up to the longer leg. It will mean that he’ll be shorter than he would have been otherwise, but that’s much better than having wonky hips and a lifetime of hip problems.

He’ll go in early on June 12 and they will do it as an outpatient procedure. After that we’ll come home with him on crutches for a few days, maybe a week. And he’ll have to take it easy for a little while. I’ve explained to him that it will hurt some but that the benefits far outweigh the risks and long-term effects of not doing the surgery. He is a little nervous (as is normal) but pretty excited about having unlimited electronics time. I, oddly, have been pretty calm about it all so far. We have been seeing the same doctor for almost his entire life and have developed a bit of a rapport with him. He is an excellent surgeon and I have complete confidence in him. I was a little taken aback initially that we were at this point already, but I’ve yet to be nervous. It’s one of those times when I hear Marley singing in my head, “every little thing…is gonna be alright.” And it is. It’s all gonna be alright.

 

Mornings aren’t what they used to be.

Things are changing around here. My kids are becoming more self-sufficient, and I can catch a few more minutes of sleep without having to worry that someone is going to break something (or break themselves). I wrote about it on The Simple Moms but still wanted to share it here. The contest I mention at the bottom of that post is over, but our story isn’t. Things will keep changing but I’ll still want to remember this.
#momishere

just.like.that.

2010 & 2014

We were there.
And now we’re here.
just.like.that.
And I wonder just how it happened.

“The days are long, but the years are short.”
I always come back to that.
Again and again.

On the longest of days, I find myself crying.
Crying out of irritation.
Crying out of frustration.
Crying out for bedtime.
I watch the clock, counting down the minutes until the chaos begins to fade.
Deep breaths, Mama. Deep breaths.

But when the reality of how short the years are really hits, I find myself crying too.
Crying because sometimes it’s all so beautiful and so perfect and so wonderful
that my heart BOOMS extra hard,
and it all just bubbles up out of my eyes and runs down my cheeks.
And my heart is so full and I want these moments -
these moments when I can fix all the things,
and kiss away all the pains,
and fill their every need
- to last forever.

The years are short.
And it feels like they’re getting shorter.
So I’ll do my best to stretch out each moment and fill it with as much
beauty
and love
and grace
as I can muster.
(And sometimes that might not be much)
(But I will try)
Because before I know it
now will be then
just.like.that.

It’s Okay to Make Magic

disney1

I recently saw a post from a mother saying that she is done trying to make her children’s childhood magical. Many of you posted links to it, moved by what the author was saying. As I read along, I found myself nodding along with you all. But then, in the back of my mind, I heard a little something. “But you like crafting with your children,” it said. “And you loved watching their faces light up at Disney World.” And I started feeling a little uncomfortable because I wanted to agree with her, I wanted to give it the virtual equivalent of a knowing nod of approval by linking to it…but it just didn’t sit well with me. I wrestled with my thoughts off and on all day. And, finally, I caught my thoughts long enough to take a look at them. Childhood is indeed happy and wonderful and even magical (for most kids) without the aid of any extra toys or games or crafts or events. But you know what isn’t always happy and wonderful and magical? Adulthood. And maybe it’s self-centered to admit this, but those fun crafts that we do and those “adventures” we go on? They aren’t always really just for the children. Sometimes they’re for me.

I do crafts with my children not to compete with the mom down the street. I do crafts with my children because I love to be there to watch their minds spin and whirl around the possibilities. I love to watch them try something new and see their eyes light up when what they’d dreamed up came true. I (sometimes) even love to watch them try things and fail. Maybe that’s awful of me. But I love to see how they respond when things don’t turn out like they thought they would. I love being there when they want to give up and I get to cheer them on. I love being there when they realize that they don’t actually need me, but that they can do it on their own. Those moments? Those moments are what I consider magical. And maybe they won’t remember it, but I will.

I take my children on adventures to musicals and plays and Disney World, not because I know they will remember it (though, honestly, I hope they will), but because I love to see them over the moon in the moment. I love the sparkle in their eyes and the grin on their faces when they meet their favorite character. I love the way her voice goes up an octave when she tells others about meeting Ariel or Sophia or Jake. And I love how all of his words try to come out at once when he tells about fighting Darth Maul. Maybe after a few years (or maybe even weeks) they won’t remember it, but I will. And I’ll be grateful that I had the opportunity to be a part of the magic.

I do a lot of “magical” things with my children and I put a lot of effort into keeping things lively around our house. But at the same time, I completely agree with so much of what the author said. Kids need unstructured, unsupervised time where they can explore and play and learn without adults (and adult biases) getting in the way. (One of my favorite scientists, Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson, talks about this a lot). I agree that we shouldn’t plan all of the minutes. I agree that sometimes we (the parents) get so wrapped up in providing ample opportunities for our kids to learn and play that we forget to pencil in down time. We forget to give them time to do nothing. We don’t allow them time to sit and get bored! We’ve bought into the idea that if they get bored, they’ll get in trouble. And while that can certainly be true in some cases, often times the “trouble” isn’t all that bad and the pay off for what they’ve learned is well worth it in the long run.

Ultimately what I’m saying is that I think the author is right…we often put too much pressure on ourselves to make life magical and perfect for our kids…and it’s not necessary. They don’t need any of it. But if creating these moments brings you and your children joy? Then, by all means, go ahead. Grandparents have been doing that for decades! :-)

Over.

I just need today to be over.
It’s one of those days where I feel bad for complaining because it’s really not so bad
but SERIOUSLY with all the little things just slamming me in the shin over and over again.
And I think, “I should be able to handle this.”
But instead of rolling off my back, it puddles up at my ankles and rises slowly
until my nose is just very barely above the waterline
and if I open my mouth, it will all rush in and I don’t have time to clean up that kind of mess.

And every little thing, every.single.little.thing.
crawls under my skin and burrows there
And I try to close my eyes and take a deep breath
but even that doesn’t work today.

I just need today to be over.
After all…tomorrow is another day.
(Isn’t that what all Southerners say)?
Preferably one with lots of sunshine.
(Literal sunshine).
I think that will help.

goodnight, my love…

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Heart-to-heart and skin-to-skin calms your soul (and mine).
I trace your face with my finger, pulling your eyelids down low.
Swoosh down the bridge of your nose and land on your tiny, plump lips.
You pull your head towards my chest ever-so-slightly and sigh.
Your arms intertwined with mine jump then loosen as you dive into your dreams.
Goodnight, my love.
Sweet dreams.

three.

My baby turned three today. Three, y’all. Oof. (She’s still “the baby” though).

birthday girl

A few years ago, my oldest daughter turned 5 and we were going to go to Build-a-Bear for her birthday and so I didn’t have a gift to hand her that morning but I still wanted to give her something. So I wrote down five things I love about her and hid them all over the house. Each one had a clue on how to find the next one. She smiled and laughed the whole time. She is a words of encouragement kinda girl. I’d honestly forgotten about that until we were at Disney and she mentioned it when we were talking about all the different ways we’ve celebrated birthdays.

jan birthdays

We celebrated most of “the baby’s” birthday two weeks ago when we did the big January birthday celebration. (We have 3 January birthdays in our family. I somehow managed to only get one dinky little picture of Marshall.) And we celebrated a little more at Disney World last week. But today we made pink cupcakes with pink icing and let her pick the meal (which she hardly touched). We saved out one toy from the celebration for her to have today. A Little People Cinderella with her coach to go with her favorite toy ever. I never dreamed I’d have such girly girls…

After we’d given her the gift we saved, her big sister proclaimed, “I have one more gift!” And she proudly led her around the house on a little scavenger hunt like I’d done for her.

birthday notes searchJust look at these sweet notes. Oh, my heart.

birthday notes

1. You are my favorite sister.
2. I love how you sing.
3. I love what you play.

My heart is so, so very full.

Word of the Year {2014}

I typically choose a word of the year when the school year begins but when August rolled around, I just didn’t feel done with my word. I still haven’t conquered ‘illuminate‘ as well as I’d like and it’s completely possible that I’ll come back to it in a few years. I really love all the meanings hidden in that bright word. But my heart is yearning for a change and I’m really trying to simplify all aspects of my life, including my word of the year. So this time I chose something I know I won’t be able to do or be at all times but something I want to be reminded to do or be at all times. It’s not a big word or a fancy word. It’s not even a very pretty word in my mind. (Yes, some words are prettier than others). It’s something that even the “baby” understands the basic idea. This simple word is: kindness.
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I don’t expect living up to this word will be easy. Especially that part about wanting and liking to do good. It can be easy to fake-it-til-you-make it with one of those but not both (at least not easily).

Four and a Half Pounds

As Thanksgiving drew near, I made a conscious decision to soak in all of the holidays. I promised myself that I’d leave my head and heart open to the things around me. I wouldn’t stress about all the things I “needed” to do. And one of the biggest decisions I made was to ignore my “rules” for eating. I haven’t always been the healthiest of eaters, but in the past year or two we’ve made a decent number of changes to how we eat in our house. We still eat out too often. There are still days when we eat cereal for dinner. And I still drink too much Diet Coke. But over all, we eat a lot of fresh, non-processed food that has been simply prepared. I lost a decent amount of weight since we started eating that way and I certainly love the way my body feels when I’m eating properly. But I decided that over the holidays I wouldn’t stress over what we were eating. And you know what? I gained 4.5 pounds. But, truthfully, I don’t even mind. That’s 4.5 pounds of happy memories. It’s from making snacks with my children for others and sampling as we went. It’s from enjoying goodies gifted to us from friends. It’s from (collective) hours around the tables of friends and family where we lingered a little too long…sometimes long enough for second dinner. It’s from drinks and chocolate and laughs and (good) tears. My pants may fit a little more snugly than they did before the holidays, but my heart is also full to the point of bursting wide open with the happy.

And the most interesting part to me is that now that the holidays are over? I’m not dreading a return to our regularly scheduled diet. I’m craving fruits and veggies and whole grains. Bring it, 2014. We’re ready! Starting with this:photo (7)

Bridget’s Bookshelf {13 Favorites of 2013}

bridget's bookshelf 2013a
A few months ago I mentioned on Facebook that I’d managed to read 20-something books before I got stuck in a reading rut. I do this periodically. I inhale books as if I think words are disappearing and then all of a sudden I just stop. Sometimes life gets in the way, but other times I just don’t feel like reading. I got over that reading rut and managed to scarf down something like 10 or 12 more books before the year’s end. Some of these books are really short e-books, some of them are silly and mindless, some of them are deep-thought inducing, and some of them aren’t. The books are listed in the order that I read them and I’ve added notes to any that I think have note-worthy points. The ones with links are the ones that I liked the most.

  1. Beginner’s Grace: Bringing Prayer to Life (Kate Braestrup) – I still reference this book quite often.
  2. Twelve Days of Christmas (Trisha Ashley)
  3. The Book of Tomorrow (Cecelia Ahern)
  4. From Notting Hill with Love…Actually (Ali McNamara) – This book references almost every one of my favorite ‘chick flick’ movies.
  5. A Year of Biblical Womanhood (Rachel Held Evans) – At the time of this post’s publication, the kindle version of this book is listed as only $2.99!
  6. The Next Big Thing (Jennifer Weiner)
  7. Then Came You (Jennifer Weiner) – I typically like Jennifer Weiner books but I could never really get into this one.
  8. Our Town (Thornton Wilder) – I read this book at least once a year. One of my all-time favorites.
  9. Fly Away Home (Jennifer Weiner)
  10. Quiet (Susan Cain) – A really great book about introverts that many of my friends really enjoyed. For me, a lot of it was redundant material from my social work classes in college.
  11. Start. – Jon Acuff
  12. Bossypants – Tina Fey
  13. The Cross in the Closet (Timothy Kurek) – Very interesting book about a conservative Christian young man who decided to come out as a gay man (even though he isn’t) to everyone in his life, and to see for himself how the label of gay would impact his life. At the time of this post’s publication, the kindle version of this book is listed as only $4.99!
  14. The Book of Business Awesome (Scott Stratten) – You know a book is well-written when you can hear the author screaming maniacally in your head while you read.
  15. KidVentures: 50 Outdoor Experiences of Wonder, Discovery, & Childhood Memories (Jennifer Murray) – You may know Jenn as QuatroMama. Even if you don’t know her, you’ll love this book! Tons of great ideas for kids and parents!
  16. Work Happily Ever-After (Jeff Jochum)
  17. To Kill a Mockingbird(Harper Lee) – Another of my annual must-reads.
  18. Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)
  19. Actually, Clams Are Miserable (Bryan Allain)
  20. Dad Is Fat (Jim Gaffigan) – Written by one of my favorite comedians, this book was laugh-out-loud funny in more than a few places
  21. Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers)
  22. Cold Tangerines (Shauna Niequist)
  23. Mother’s Letters (Seth & Amber Haines)
  24. The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) – I teared up in this one a few times. At the time of this post’s publication, the kindle version of this book is listed as only $3.99!
  25. Cold Sassy Tree (Olive Ann Burns) – This is a Very Southern Book. Non-Southerners might not ‘get’ it but she has the accent down pat!
  26. Firefly Lane (Kristin Hannah)
  27. Steal Like an Artist (Austin Kleon)
  28. The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew– Three Women Search for Understanding (Suzanne Oliver, Ranya Idliby, and Priscilla Warner) – It took me a while to read this one because I’d have to read and re-read some sections before I could really absorb all that they were trying to say.
  29. Chasing Rainbows (Kathleen Long)
  30. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban (Malala Yousafzai) – Wow! This young woman is simply amazing.
  31. The Guernsey Library and Potato Peel Pie Society (Shaffer & Barrows) – I have been eyeing this book for ages. I’m glad I finally read it, but it is not one of my top choices.
  32. Bread & Wine (Shauna Niequist)
  33. The Wilder Life: my Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie (Wendy McClure) – We are knee-deep in Little House on the Prairie around here with my older two children and it was interesting to read while we were going through the books. If you aren’t a LHotP fan, you can skip this one. But if you are, it’s a fascinating read.
  34. Don’t Trade the Baby for a Horse (Wendy McClure) – The book is what I would consider a short companion book to the one listed above.
  35. The Gifts of Imperfection (Brene Brown) – I’m not quite done with this one yet but it is full of insight. If you’re searching for something that you just can’t quite put your finger on, this book is for you!

Full Disclosure: The links in this list are Amazon affiliate links which means if you click on that link and purchase that book, a small – and I do mean very small – portion of your sale goes to me!