Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Had a pretty profound conversation with my kids about freedom yesterday. I was pointing out when you have a large citizenry focused on keeping the social contracts, you can have freedom. You can have access to everything because people agree not to abuse those things. People agree to handle the trouble makers in their communities. They get help for the mentally unstable, they report the dangerous, they watch each other's back, all for the sake of keeping their freedoms. The problem is, that explanation is too utilitarian. We aren't people who just do things because we want X. Children do that. Children comply for the sake of not getting grounded. We have to be more than that. We have to employ love, all the time. All the time. We have to have the "bigger picture" in focus. We have to be focused outwardly most of the time. We have to learn that being offended by something isn't the same as needing to squash that thing. We have to know what actually threatens freedom and what actually needs love and relationship to be corrected. And we have to be willing to be wrong sometimes. Even when we feel justified. Even when we feel right. 

These are hard things. Wisdom is probably won through realizing that pursuing truth is more important than being right. It seems we have this problem in our day and age. We each are so convinced we are right, that correcting one another becomes the most important thing. Perhaps growing up in a big family beat this out of me. Don't get me wrong, I'm as obnoxiously opinionated as most Americans. But I definitely care more about my relationships than I do about convincing everyone that I am correct. I've got friends who still slip up and say "retarded" about things. I let it go. I do! Not because I don't love Mariana, and not because it doesn't feel really bad to hear it. I let it go because what they are trying to communicate is more important to me than them using the right words. I let poor grammar go, misspellings (especially my own!), and slang that bothers me. Sometimes I revisit things with people I think would find my thoughts interesting or worth considering. Sometimes I move on. Why? Because there was a time when I thought the word "retarded" could be appropriately used, not as an insult, but as a purposeful way of describing something as being slowed down. However, through relationships in the disability community, I realized that as much as I love rich language, people are my favorite creatures. It wasn't worth hanging on to a word if it meant turning the people I love into people who must put up with my personal word crusade. And yes, I realize that this can turn in to a tyranny of sorts. Comedians feel it all the time when they try to use satire and the entire point they were mocking is lost because someone decides that the word "rape" is off limits even in context. I'm no fan of trigger warnings. But these are ideas best discussed by a fire pit with friends, or on a plane with an interested stranger. They aren't best posted as facts on Facebook, as some kind of invitation to a word duel. People are not moved best by swords, but by relationships. 

As I write this, I am grieving both personally and as a member of a community that watched another horror unfold on the news. I have too many emotions to figure out all the right answers and I praise God for the presence of mind to have at least that much awareness. I am sick of hearing about gun control because I believe that mental health is our biggest national crisis. I don't even like guns. I wonder if my opinion is even correct. I'm mad people are tweeting that prayers are meaningless. I'm frustrated that the fact that people are saying horrible things about other human beings as though the vitriol helps. Are we a nation of narcissists as it seems, or am I consuming too much social media so it appears that way? I also have children, who are, by nature, very self involved. I also find both major presidential candidates sickeningly self righteous. Of course, this is not new, but it sure feels more disgusting than ever. More than my questions, I find the answers are found in my relationships, my willingness to forgive, to apologize and to cherish those people who could very well be taken from my life in a single act of just living life, and in the hope that each day I get to choose how I treat the people who are in my life. No one can kill that choice, nor will I be terrorized out of making it. Not today.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Dating for Kids : It's not that hard

Misleading title alert! Heh. I have two adolescents now, so obviously I know everything about guiding my kids on the dating scene. Luckily, my two oldest are girls who are not boy crazy yet. One is shy about being vulnerable to her middle school classmates, which shows some semblance of good judgement. The other has a sweetheart in her class that she does not even *think* about contacting outside of school, which also shows proper developmental boundaries. Yay! They are not that screwed up yet! On the other hand, one loves tight clothes, high heals and heavy make up while the other finds basic grooming a serious obstruction to living her life freely. So, you know, fallen natures and all that.

One thing I notice catching my eye as my kids slide into this middleschool phase is lots and lots of blogs touting "What I Want My Son or Daughter To Know Before Dating" type entries. I love a good bandwagon, but I want to address the things I don't see, like what to do if someone comes on too strong, etc. So here is my feeble attempt to log into history my own hopes for my kids future dating lives....

1A: Date a lot. Or, rather, go on a lot of dates. Seriously, this boyfriend/girlfriend stuff is too serious. Just go out on dates with lots of people to learn what you like and what you don't. Date 4 people at a time. Don't lie or deceive, just let them all know that you like them, but exclusivity seems like a choice you want to make after a few weeks. 

1B: Mom and Dad don't know how to prepare you for every situation, so feel free to use your best judgement. Sometimes your judgement will be bad. Talk to a trusted adult and/or your parents. We might freak out, but that is mostly because we will feel like failures for not preparing you for whatever thing we didn't prepare you. 

2: Both parties have a very serious responsibility to the other. Girls shouldn't dress or act in a distractingly provocative way, boys shouldn't treat a girl like a sexual aspiration. Girls should remember that they are helping their dates learn how to treat women, boys should remember they are helping their dates learn what a gentleman is. Girls should remember that many young men have a drive for risk taking that can make them legally insane, boys should remember that girls need to be free to say no to things without being treated like a killjoy. Every so often the shoe is on the other foot, and the rules apply equally. We offer one another guidance through our relationships. Don't forget that.

3. Violence: NOT OKAY. The other day Molly kicked Paul in the chest. Why? He was smooching her arms to annoy her. My typical response to violence between brother and sister is to bring down the hammer of Thor for discipline. However, in this case I told Molly and Paul that Molly did the right thing. Why? Paul learns the hard way, and Molly is not typically a violent person. Both felt that the violence was wrong, which is the gear I want my kids to be in. Yet, when it comes to physical affection, I try really hard to instill mutual respect in my kids. Yes, they need to hug each other when one of them is feeling down, no they do not need to be hugged if they don't want to be. So, while I do not condone violence of any kind in a romantic setting, self protection is primary. It is a favor to the other immature person who is crossing the line and not receiving the message in any other way. In my mind, it's like slapping a hysterical person. Not fun, but sometimes what the doctor ordered. 

4A: Listen to your instincts unless they are clouded by hormones. So, if you have a twinge of caution, or an inkling of a romantic spark, cool. If you are high on a thrill of some kind, sexual or adrenaline, pump the brakes and drink 8 oz of water. Proceed to a crowded and well lit area. 

4B: DO NOT DRINK. Altering yourself during a date is both seriously unsafe and a good way to ruin a budding relationship. No matter how nervous you are, you can't listen your instincts if there is beer/marijuana/pills squishing them down. And your date is not getting to know you, but altered you, which is the same as being deceptive. Don't. 

5. Do not bury your feelings. Feel sad when things don't work out, feel disappointed, feel happy, joyful and jealous because those things matter. It is when we get stuck in a gear or hide from the negative feelings that we become manipulative and weird. So just be patient with your dates, yourself and your parents whom you are convinced do not understand anything. We are all just learning as we go.

These are my main hopes for my kids. I will not be giving them this list or lecturing them on these topics. Rather, I hope the conversations develop naturally and easily. I hope there are other adults that reinforce these ideas. I want the kids to understand themselves and their dates to a degree that encourages them to have integrity and also respect the trickiness of these years. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Teach The Children Well: Be the Adult You Want Them To Be

As Kate grows older and becomes more independent, I have noticed an interesting, and sometimes terrifying thing; she isn't listening to me as much. It isn't that she is defiant,  but rather she is evaluating my actions more and my words less. Though, my words are being evaluated as well, just the ones not directed at her, but rather the ones she picks up from my conversations with others. Thus we have had the misfortune and fortunate confluence of events that makes me want to write a letter to all the adults in the world. 

Last week, a couple of our kids had an interaction with an adult that was down right scary for them. A parent found some damage, and, after her children denied responsibility, she berated ours with cuss words and vehemence. She zeroed in on one of the kids as being the cause of all that is wrong with the world and screamed nastiness to our kids as well as their friend, who she thought might also have done the dastardly thing. Scott was nearby, so he confronted the woman, who turned to him and verbally assaulted him, telling him, "You better watch your youngest." Becket was in Scott's arms. Scott, being a good man, told the kids to go to safety and repeated that swearing at the kids was not going to be tolerated. She continued to rant, so Scott left the scene disgusted and angry.

The following days have been spent with examining the events. We told the kids that not all adults are safe. We explained what to do if they should find themselves in the same position. And then I took it further. I told our kids that when you do not try to discipline your emotions, you grow into an undisciplined adult. I tried to show them that what they consider "appropriate adult behavior" comes from growing up learning how to behave like an adult who can be admired and respected and trusted. I explained that you cannot hold yourself to unreasonable standards either, that there is a balance between taking responsibility and self-hatred because, sometimes, those who take it too far the other way begin to hate others because they hate themselves. All these things came from lots of little conversations that I hope were not too intimidating.

A few days later, Kate had a doctor appointment to evaluate whether she needed her tonsils out. The doctor is a brilliant surgeon, attractive and calm and incredibly intelligent -- all the things to which a 12 year old girl would respond well. He had to run a scope through her nose into her throat to check her adenoids. As he did so, he talked her through it calmly asking about her favorite things to do. Kate, who is the best child patient I have ever seen, cringed during the procedure. Afterward the doctor did something wonderful.

The doctor, who told us he did not recommend surgery, leaned forward to Kate and said, "Before I ran the scope you were afraid, weren't you?" Kate nodded. "But now, you know it was not as bad as you thought. You won't sign up for it, but if you need it, you can handle it more easily. 

"For the rest of your life you will have things that you want or need to do that will feel scary. Remember this, because you can do them, you will do them, and they won't be as bad as you thought. Fear lives in your head, not in the doing. Remember that, okay?"

This is the case of an adult understanding his impact, and offering something that cost him nothing, but will last forever. It is something neither Scott nor I could give to our kids because we are the constant, the usual, the mundane. When an adult steps out of their usual role to offer a kid something of substance, that kid becomes more prepared for life. It takes no time, and it costs nothing.

We can mess that up also. We can behave badly around children and, unless we make amends, we can become a cautionary tale. We can show kids that adults don't need to behave, don't have to behave and, as long as we stay inside the law, there isn't much anyone can do about it. While children who have proper guidance can use those moments as life's boundary lines, those without might be attracted to the flawed freedom of being unhinged. Some may see it as a hall pass to be a bully, or lazy, or lack insight.

Which is what I wish all adults would understand. We are all examples in the lives of the children around us. One day, those children will be in charge, long before we are dead. What kind of leaders are we raising? How will they treat us? More to the point, what do we deserve?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Blessed are We

We were walking through the airport and I knew he would see the reports of Paris. I had to discuss it with him before he saw it, he is a sensitive soul. I began telling him that something terrible happened the night before and that he may see the televisions at the airport reporting on the terrible thing. I reminded him that terrible things happen, but people always rise to the occasion, they rush into the problem to solve it. "Didn't people cause the problem?" he asked. Point taken. "Yes." I say, "But people can either be the problem or the solution. It's all about choices and habits. We have to face our problems with a helper's heart."

"Yeah," he says, much later, "we do have to have a helper's heart. Or the bad stuff will crush us. If we help, the bad stuff is the loser."

He is so simple in his words and thoughts, and profound. Bad stuff, is like weeds in a garden, relentless. But good people, fruitful people, work toward an abundant harvest.


Becket is 5.5 months. He has two teeth, he is technically mobile, though that has been the case for months. Oh golly, he's such an amazing human being. He belongs in this world by virtue of the fact that he loves being here and is interested in every single thing. His dimples make me believe in God. I mean, I already believe in God, but dimples are technically a deformity, yet give such pleasure to the viewer. Like an everyday Easter making sense of the crucifixion. Perhaps I make too much of them. I don't care. Life can be terribly taxing, so I will take the joy I find and squeeze every last ounce of it. 


She is angry at the evil that exists. The undeniable evil of those who kill, and the sneaky evil of those who would take advantage of the fears of the masses. She is afraid, and angry. "Why should we turn people away? Why can't we believe they are running too? What if they come here?" I know her fear and her frustrations. The what-ifs of the parent are different of those of a child, but I am not so far from childhood that I can't understand. 

"We just love the best we can, sweetie. And we pray for our leaders and our enemies. And we keep on feeding the hungry and clothing the naked."

"Mama, it's never been easy, has it?" I turn my watery eyes away and hold her closer. 

"Easy is a trap. When you have to use your heart and your mind, you are blessing the world." I say it to myself and to her, though neither of us understands it.

She is rebellious, a sign of intelligence. Who cares? She makes me love more. She makes me question my prejudice. She expects good from others. She loves large tattooed men and heavily made-up women.  She hugs everyone even when they are uncomfortable. "HUG!" she announces. "Patpatpat!" "I'm yo fren." she states to the high school boy. He warms up and asks her name, to which she replies, "Whass yo nem?" He says he's Brody and she's very sweet. She nods and says, "Yes. Yo my fren." as she walks to the next patient. Everyone waiting for the dentist feels warm and comfortable, fillings be damned.

"What if I am not so good? What if I'm not magic?" 

Facing her very real learning problems has made her doubt herself for the very first time. She is magic, but I can't tell her that now. She is confounding and beautiful, but she feels stupid. Arg, that word! I pull her in. I will hold her to account. I will expect her to be responsible. It will be so very hard. Because she is important to this world, she will have to face herself now. But she will not do it alone. Look at all the people who love her. Look at  us. I begin to list the names, and she adds to it. Oh yes, him too. Look at that. You are not alone. Her shoulders lower. I see her. She feels seen.

She is positive she is not great. I am a fool. I am just being nice. She is not as smart as we think and she is a fraud. Effing middle school. I thank her. 47 times a day, I thank her for the most minute things. "Thank you for showing Paul his signed sheet." "Thank you for bringing Mae to the bathroom." "Thank you for making me a mom." "Thanks for saying goodnight." "Thanks for being here with us." She treats it like a nicety, but it is not. I mean it. I'm glad she's here and I'm glad she's ours. I'm glad her siblings have her and I'm glad she still needs me to apply her antibiotic. I'm glad she's free to be pouty and I'm glad she has the sense to apologize. I'm glad I remember what middle school feels like. I'm glad it won't last forever.

Everyday there is a reason to despair. I am sad for victims, I'm angry at terrorists and opportunists. Day after day there are sad stories and bullshit artists expressing an opinion on what it all means. Meanwhile we have them. Day after day we are asked if we are done having kids, or what on earth would make us want so many. Are you kidding? Look around! The world needs hope. The world needs purpose. They offer it every moment of the day. They remind me that God exists. I didn't create their beauty, it surpasses my creative ability. My need to heap love upon them would last all my life, even if they died. This is hope. A love that lasts past expiration. 

They have taught me to be grateful for my compassion and my grief. My heart is well ordered to long to fix things for them, but to give them space to fix things themselves. My heart is well ordered to cry with them and for them. My heart is well ordered to allow our family to sacrifice to clothe the naked and feed the hungry and pray for those who would see us dead. They spur me to have a well ordered heart, and thus, be more fully human. The world is a blessed place because they exist.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


I have a gift in my office/nightmare-of-craft-supplies room. It is for Mrs. J, Mae's Developmental Specialist through Early Steps. I wasn't ready to say goodbye in March when Mae aged out, so I kept the gift tucked away and we hired her privately to help Mae transition to the 3 yo room at school. Before long we decided to keep her "as needed". Tuesday we had a meeting with Mae's teacher to address some behavioral issues stemming from Mae not feeling well. Shortly after the meeting began I felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room as it became abundantly clear that we no longer needed Mrs. J. Thankfully Becket loudly pooped and broke my train of thought.

In May she was discharged out of PT. Miss K is our adored therapist. We've gone through speech and OTs, people to whom we said goodbye, but the need to continue therapy left little room to worry about it. Moving out of therapy, that is a whole other thing, and I was unprepared for the sadness of it. As a parent, I am getting therapy too. I am receiving the peace that a professional is keeping tabs on Mae's development, informing me what is good and what needs work, and where we really need to focus and areas we can watch from a laid-back position. I become dependant on the person who seems to adore our girl and celebrate with us her firsts, good and bad. They are the people who rub my back as I tear up because she is sick again, and we can't travel for Christmas again, and my kids won't know their grandparents because we never get to leave this hell-hole place that has no seasons. These are the people who share in my glee that Mae hit a boy who was trying to help her, who understand what a gift it is that she wants to try things until she masters it, and doesn't cling to being helped.

Mae took her first steps in PT. Two, to be exact. I looked with shock at Miss K and said, "Did she just take a step? Miss K said, "TWO! Don't you short her." We both had tears. She was 17 months old. We talked of discharge in December, which seemed like a great plan, but when Mae broke her leg in January, we had a few more months tacked on. I knew it was coming. I knew it was time. I still haven't given Miss K a gift because we go to speech and OT and still see her, and I don't want to acknowledge that we don't need Miss K. Mae doesn't need her, I'm not sure about me.

Mrs. J is in one of our favorite videos. She is having Mariana put tokens into a formula can with a slit cut into it. Mae is throwing the tokens and Mrs. J is wagging her finger saying, "No, no, no. Put them IN." Shortly into the video Mae wags her finger at Mrs. J and says, "No, no, no!" She was 10 months old. Mrs. J tried to show Mae how to crawl properly, so when Mae did it for the first time after she was 2, yes she was walking already, Mrs. J teared up with pride. It was at a potty training seminar that had babysitting and Mae crawled through a tunnel. My first thought was of telling Mrs. J. Mrs. J is the one with whom I would share my fears when Mae was sick all the time. She was the one with whom I would tie myself in knots about school, therapy choices, potty training readiness. She was the one who came into our home and talked to the kids about games they could play. Now I have her gift wrapped and a card written, and it's time to face the truth; we are ready to move forward.

Of all the warnings about how hard it is to raise a child with special needs, not one person mentioned how hard it is to move on from therapy. When someone faces the challenges of life with you, guides you, and gives you confidence when there are so many choices, you become brothers-in-arms. When people can look at your child that most dismiss as all good or all bad, see her gifts and her short comings, and love her deeply, it makes them important and needed. Moving forward is necessary. Mae has to grow more independent. She doesn't need PT to learn to pedal a trike, or to learn to walk our stairs, she needs longer legs. She doesn't need a developmental therapist, she needs a preschool teacher. As a parent, I have to teach her how to move forward even when it's scary and hard, but for now she is teaching me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


One of those clear memories that I can call up at anytime is when I was lying with Kate at her naptime. She reached her fat little hand over to my cheek and said, "Yer perfeck." It is a phrase I use often, along with "I love you." and "You're  my favorite." I tell my children they are perfect. It's both hyperbole and the truth. They are not perfectly behaved, but they are perfectly suited for our family. These are the things I do not need to say because all I want is for my kids to hear how loved and valued they are regardless of the parent-child power struggle of the moment.

Today was a day where most things out of my control were yucky, but it was a great day. It was great because our kids were helpful. It was great because I managed to be patient. It was great because we all found ways to encourage one another. I awoke feeling the anxiety that only productivity can abate. I longed to rush about doing laundry, fixing myself up, and getting Mae ready. I knew it was the only way I would be able to take my coffee to a quiet corner and be still with the Lord. Of course, it wasn't God's plan for my morning, and lo, Scott felt yucky and Mae's rash looked scary, and Becket needed to cluster feed. 

By the grace of God I was able to meet needs and even express my anxiety calmly to Scott. Being heard was enough to get me through the early part of the morning. Molly awoke to the bad news that her sleeping in had led to the great responsibility of emptying the dishwasher. Normally, Molly would feed the dog and Charlotte would empty the dishwasher, but the dog was hungry and C was awake. Molly felt crumby and weepy, and I folded on the dishwasher chore, but when I went into the kitchen it was emptied by Molly, who explained she felt compelled to "do the right thing to help our family." 

Our doctor appointment was midday, and I found Charlotte to be eager to help at every turn. Whether she was chasing Mae or holding Becket, she was ready to serve without being asked. She was alert and engaged and never interrupted with selfish questions. We discovered Mae has a viral infection and a staph infection, so I had a lot of questions and concerns which were addressed with no interruptions thanks to Charlotte. On the way home she did not ask to get lunch at the drive through though she was hungry. What a gem!

Kate also awoke feeling crumby. That coupled with the adolescence that has poked its head into our lives, I did not know what the day would bring from her. What it brought was a request to do laundry so she could "relax". It brought the desire to make her own dinner. It brought a desire to care for Becket when he was squirmy from being full, but wanting to nurse for comfort. Never mind the hail outside, life was great indoors.

Today when I was asked if we planned more children, I found myself thinking, "Have you met these wonderful people?!" I'm 3 weeks from delivery and each of these beautiful kids have made life better in every imaginable way. Life can be hard, but my young children remind me daily that we can make it better for one another. Life can be overwhelming, but my young children show that we can bear the burdens of one another. Life can be exhausting, but my young children can be an example of how to persevere. I will never take credit for these beautiful souls, but I am grateful to be a witness. They are, indeed, perfect*.

*Paul is visiting family, and Mae napped well, thus contributing to this perfection, God love them.

Friday, June 12, 2015


It is 0517. I am writing on my iPad, where there is no spell check, so God help this. Becket woke up at 0356, I have no idea when he ate last. The last two nights I have gone to bed at 9 ish and Scott has fed B a pumped bottle. It has been glorious. I wish all new mothers this amount of sleep. I have not cried for a sillly reason in like 5 days. I think my hormones like sleep. After he ate and went back to bed, I pumped a full 3oz, which makes me feel like a nursing rock star and also makes me nervous that I am going to get mastiitis from over production. This is because I just had a baby and all good things are tempered with irrational worry. However, because he is number 6, I do not spend too much time on the worry and kinda laugh about it to myself because it is a bit tedious to be your own Debbie Downer.

I wrote Becket's birth story down, but decided not to publish it. No one but Becket and I care, let us be honest about that. I mean, I got it out of my system with my family and close friends, so that should be enough until my daughters and their friends start having babies. That is when I get to whip out 6 full birth stories like every other post-menopausal woman at a baby shower is compelled to do. I get to talk about head size and labor length and false labor and DRAMA. I am so looking forward to it! I am also glad I wrote all of them down. My future daughters-in-law are going to love me as I regale them with tales of woe. Except Becket has been a really beautiful newborn, and I wish his personality for all my kids' kids.

A strange calm has come with not being pregnant anymore. So far, since his birth, the life drama has been amped up. One kid has a broken toe, or rather, we think she does because we are now those parents who take their kid to the athletic trainer next door rather than the hospital and breath a sigh of relief when he says to splint it and give it a week before we worry. (So far so good, definitely not the foot that is broken.) Another kid was truly nearly run down at Target until I smacked the back of the car and screamed for the woman to stop. Luckily, she was a human being who was freaked out instead of angry and we hugged because neither one of us really cared who was at fault as long as no one was hurt or killed. That same kid has a wicked ear infection from our negligence after swimming. Oops. Even with all of that, the thing that bothered me the most this week was the dog getting out and pooping on a neighbor's yard. That was the worst because I like my neighbors, and though I like my dog, I am infuriated by her need to roam.

Part of my serenity is from nursing Becket. He is such a beautiful specimen to gaze upon while he eats. He has the perfect head, the perfect amount of fuzz on his head, perfectly shaped ears, and he has dimples that are visible while he eats. He also has that look of intesity that prompts everyone to call him an "old soul". He gazes right back with a look of Secret Knowledge and it just sucks the anxiety right out of the room. 

The big kids are amazing too. There really is nothing like having another baby to bring out how wonderful the siblings are. They love him, and they want to care for him. I have been asked to pump more so that they can feed him, and when I explain that it is good for him to nurse, they accept it well because they want what is best for him. They have made their own breakfast and lunch every day since Scott has gone back to work. Kate made the salad for dinner last night. They pick up their rooms after breakfast every single day without complaint, and even offer to put Mae on the potty when I am nursing and she has gotten up from her nap. I am bribing them, yes, but they are receptive to the bribes, and that isn't always the case.

I am also caught up on laundry. My mother-in-law made this happen while she was here, and I have kept it going. It is one of those things that takes a total of maybe 20 full minutes a day, but is so worth doing every. single. day. Now, I do have some help if we get backed up by a Mariana accident. She is potty training, and she is weird about poop now, so that can get messy. Kate, Charlotte and Molly will help fold clothes because they are good kids, and if they are not, I use folding clothes instead of time outs. Hey, if you are getting difficult you do not get a break, you get an assignment. 

So this is life with Becket so far. There will be ups and downs coming, I am sure. Getting Mae to an independent place with the bathroom is weighing on me a little thanks to the school deadline, but I need to place that in God's hands. I am practicing detachment on that front. Her speech has really taken off, and she understands that Becket is the baby that was in my belly, which is far more important than her ability to pull her pants up and down on her own. We have a lot scheduled this summer, which I am praying is a positive thing that keeps us moving through the tough days, rather than an overwhelming thing that makes me want to hunker down and eat ice cream. Then again, there are worse things than ice cream....