Monday, June 30, 2014

Answer me This: June 29

Hello all! Crazy evening, due to some good news to share later, but wanted to take some down time to write :) my iPad is having touch screen issues though, so my answers will be brief.

1. How often do you take public transportation?

Here? Zilch. Occasionally a "just for the heck of it" light rail ride when we travel. But when I lived in Pittsburgh I didn't have a car, so used all public transit for nearly five years.

2. How many cousins do you have?

None on my mom's side, she was an only child. On my dad's side, I'm the last of eleven: seven boys, four girls; a 22yr spread from my oldest cousin to me.

3. Have you ever fired a gun?

Many, many times. My dad was a private gun dealer for many years, was an antique firearms collector to his death, and there are multiple concealed carry permit holders in my family, including Papa Bear. In fact, he just got me a new gun this weekend, for personal protection when he travels. But as responsible gun owners we take gun safety very seriously. All guns and ammunition in our home are stored securely, and we are diligent in teaching the kids age appropriate gun safety rules. We don't hide their presence, lest there be a sense of mystery and curiosity; but we go to great lengths to instill the serious requirement for constant, vigilant safety measures.

4. Do you ride roller coasters?

Riding coasters with my dad is one of my favorite childhood memories. I used to love all types of coasters, but I have found that, post-SCI, I no longer feel comfortable riding coasters that go upside down but don't have an over-the-shoulder harness. I presume it's because I can't brace with my legs, but the last couple coasters like that I went on, I felt frighteningly unsecure. And there are few things which truly frighten me like that. But because of the coasters I grew up with, I generally prefer the old wooden coasters anyway.

5. What's your favorite flower?

Tulips. Any color, or esp. two-tone petals. Also white roses, which are the flower of my sorority.

6. Are you allergic to anything?

Nothing I've ever been tested for; just the usual seasonal sinus symptoms from pollen exposure.

Big news coming later in the week!

Friday, June 20, 2014


Hmm, just doesn't have quite the same ring to it. But as much as writing this blog has proven to be a valuable outlet for my thoughts, my family time has to come first, and this has been a week when they needed more of me.

Last Sunday we made the most of Father's Day despite Papa Bear having to work. He and Sunshine enjoyed their movie date, and my attempt at a dairy free casserole actually proved to be a success! By dinner time, however, Sunshine was definitely not acting like herself, and was found to be running a low grade fever. I hate for the kids to be sick any time, but this was particularly unfortunate timing as she was signed up for our parish's Vacation Bible School this week. At first it was nothing to warrant a trip to the doctor, just enough to make her feel bad and necessitate staying home from VBS, but Monday night into Tuesday she came in our bed with violent chills and a couple hours later she was still in the 100's even with ibuprofen. So Papa Bear took her to the nearby walk-in clinic where she was fouond to have an ear infection and upper respiratory infection.

After starting antibiotics she was finally well enough to attend on Thursday and Friday; disappointed that she missed so much, but she made the most of the time she had. She had lots of fun, and even talked me into letting her do her religious ed. in class at church this upcoming school year instead of at home like we did for first grade. Religion will still, of course, be a part of our homeschool day; and I was already considering letting her sign up for Children's Choir which she can do the same afternoon back to back, so getting her to and from class won't be any extra work. I'm glad we did it at home while she and I were both getting our homeshool legs under us, but after three years of preschool I think it will be good to get her back in a classroom setting part time to maintain the practice of how to work and behave in a class with a teacher other than me. And having belonged to this church parish literally my whole life, I know I can trust her teachers; some have been teaching since I was a kid, and many are people Papa Bear and I grew up with!

Fidget has had an -- umm, lets just say interesting -- week this week. Though I admit I was skeptical when his clinical supervisor suggested removing casein from his diet, a couple of absentminded exposures have proven that he really does better when I ensure he aviods it. His meltdowns are not only more frequent but also more severe after dairy exposure. His other negative behaviors increase as well, particularly the self-injurious and destructive sensory seeking behaviors. We use an enclosed bed tent to keep him safe at night, and a couple of days ago he managed to rip a hole in one of the mesh sides that was so big he could fit through it! So at 10:15 that night I was rearranging the kids' beds to block that side, and since we've been otherwise quite happy with this bed tent I'm trying to figure out the best plan for repairing & reinforcing it.

He is still only getting speech therapy (we are STILL waiting for our early inntervention OT to contact us), but I am amazed how much improvement he has seen with that one hour a week. Not only in expressive language but receptive as well. As expected he doesn't always respond or follow commands like a neurotypical child his age would, so it often catches me off guard when he does give an appropriate response. Usually it's a case of me making conversation as I always have, asking f he wants something or is ready to do something, go somewhere. I'm not sure that he's ever given a yes response; but often he'll tell me "no" without even stopping what he's doing, as if it is something he has always done. He is identifying pictures in books more often, and the fact that he will call someone's name to get their attention is HUGE. Before starting ST I probaby hadn't heard "mama" more than a couple times in about a year, and he was only saying his versions of "daddy" and his sister's name to acknowledge their presence or identify them in a photo, not to initiate an interaction.

He's also started asking to use the potty in the last couple weeks! He is still a long way from potty training: he doesn't have the requisite motor skills to handle the clothing aspects, and he does't understand yet to hold it when he needs to go or to fully empty when going, but if we're already in the bathroom brushing teeth or taking a bath, he will ask to sit on the potty and usually makes at least a little pee. Then of course he likes to close the lid and flush the toilet; truth be told I think his main motivation is that he enjoys flushing. Hopefully once we start ABA therapy we can work on the skills that will be necessary for potty training at some point in the future.

And speaking of ABA, we got word this week that insurance has approved our request for ABA coverage. I submitted the many pages of necessary informed consent forms, so now we're just waiting on the scheduling department to build his schedule. And here at home, when I haven't been busy taking care of the kids or doing other work, I'm trying to prepare the house for the constant influx of therapists we will soon have. Twice a day, six days a week will be quite an adjustment!

God willing, the next week or so should be a bit calmer around here. Sunshine needs to go to her pediatrician for a pre-camp physical, but otherwise should be able to just stay around the house and enjoy being with each other.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Answer Me This June 15

Welcome to this week's installment of 

Answer Me This from!

1. What’s something you intended to do today, but didn't?
Sleep? Fidget has been waking up so early lately! I could try to shift him later, but figured it would be better to shift myself earlier to meet him, in preparation for starting ABA therapy soon.

In all seriousness though, I had planned to catch up on folding laundry & putting it away, but at the last minute found out Papa Bear would be getting off work earlier than I expected, so I spent the morning putting together plans for his afternoon.

2. What's your favorite grilling recipe?

Whatever Papa Bear grills! He is by far the grill master in our house; it would be hard for me to lift the lid all the way from my seated position. One of my favorite meals in the summer is for him to grill some bratwurst and corn on the cob, and I make up a big pasta salad.

3. What movie did you see most recently? 
We watched Meet the Robinsons on tv last night, which in my opinion is one of the most underrated modern Disney films. I would love to see WDW redo the Astro Orbiter ride to be like Cornelius' time machines! 
I actually can't remember when I last went to the theater. Maybe last fall when we went all my family to see Wizard of Oz for my dad's birthday? I am really not sure.

4. Would you say your tendency is to over or under react to medical situations?
Under-react. Partly because Sunshine, God bless her, is a bit of a drama queen. Partly because with our collective medical knowledge, Papa Bear and I are usually pretty good at judging the seriousness of a situation.

5. Do you squeeze the toothpaste tube or roll it?
I'm a squeezer. But lemme tell ya, I make sure I get every smidge of toothpaste out of there! Because one of my meds causes severe dry mouth, I have a number of cavities along my root line. I'm now 
using special toothpaste I get from my dentist, which is crazy expensive. I try to tell myself though that if it helps it will be much cheaper than all the dental work!

6. What are you doing for Father's Day?
It has been a very bittersweet day for me this year, as it's my first Father's Day without my own father, and Papa Bear had to work today. But thankfully he went in early to be off early, so I found out at about 9:30 this morning he wanted me to plan the afternoon for him. After weighing my options, I sent him to the movies with Sunshine (she's been begging for some Daddy/Daughter time, plus Fidget needs his daily nap) while I'm cooking dinner. We slacked for a couple days on reducing Fidget's dairy intake, and we're able to see how big a difference the casein really makes, so now we are buckling down and trying to adjust. I'm taking a couple different recipes and adapting them into one, then adjusting for dairy free preparation, so hopefully I can post later that it was a success! If it turns out to be a flop, at least I know dessert should be a hit. More about that later!

Joy and Happiness Part 1: Happiness and health

I've written this post in my head many times, almost since I started this blog. It may seem like an odd time to be sharing my thoughts on this happiness given that I've written how crazy and stressful life in our house is right now, but it has come up too offer recently in my news feed for me to ignore. There are many thoughts I want to share, more than I could put into one cohesive post, so it will be written in multiple parts. Today I share my thoughts on how happiness can be affected by health, esp. the health of our children.


With each of our pregnancies, Papa Bear and I chose not learn the sex of our baby until delivery - no small feat to accomplish with monthly ultrasounds! But since I'm considered high risk by my OB, and little about my deliveries is left to chance, we wanted to leave this as an unexpected surprise to get us through the labor process. Ironically my gut instinct was right both times, but I do not at all regret our decision either time.

The only downside was two entire pregnancies of people asking "What do you want? What are you hoping for?" Bringing up that question on a message board or Facebook group can bring about quite divisive results. You'll have people who will say they have a preference for one gender or another, for a variety of reasons. You'll have those who chastise them with admonishments that every child is a special gift from God, and they'll be fine with whatever he sends them. There are those who have carried the cross of infertility and/or miscarriage who just want a baby to take home.  And there are those who don't have a preference either way. One common refrain, though, among all those who have no publicly stated preference is that they just want a baby who is healthy. I respect their point of view, esp those whose arms have been empty for far too long, but it's an answer that I find bothersome. Gender didn't matter to me in either pregnancy, but wanting a healthy child wasn't at the top of my list. Because from my point of view, healthy is overrated.


Lately I've seen a number of news reports going around about former Olympic swimmer Amy Van Dyken being in an ATV accident which caused a spinal cord injury. And every time I read one, I can't help but feel frustrated by the comments. Yes, I am sorry to hear it; it's not like I would wish a SCI on anyone. I know she will have a difficult and painful road ahead of her. However, it bothers me to hear people talking like it's the end of the world for her. People with SCI, esp a lower level injury like hers, are every day living active, happy lives. While I may stay home with my children, many are out in the workforce. We travel, we volunteer, we're athletes, we raise families. We form and sustain loving relationships. The adjustment period is not without challenges, and there will always be times of momentary frustration when struggling with a formerly simple task, but I've also seen many blessings come my way specifically because of my disability. Was this accident unfortunate? Absolutely; but that doesn't mean there isn't a bright future ahead of her.

I don't think of myself as someone who is "sick", but at the same time I know I don't meet most people's definition of healthy. I am in a wheelchair due to a non-traumatic spinal cord injury. Multiple autoimmune disorders affecting my metabolic functions, combined with my physical limitations has left me about 80 pounds overweight. I take multiple daily medications to keep my body functioning well, and have many more aches and pains than most people in their mid-30s. These issues may be part of my personal baseline normal, but I know they are far outside the parameters that most people place on health. And yet, I am quite content with my life as it is today. I often have people say they think I'm so amazing, such an inspiration, they could never do what I do on a daily basis. I appreciate the compliment but at the same time the whole conversation makes me uncomfortable. 

For starters, I'm not that amazing. I'm just a regular housewife, taking care of my home, husband, and children. Going to a doctor's office, shopping, or church are really not that inspirational activities. And if placed in my situation I do believe they could do what I do; because it's pretty much the only thing you can do. Wallowing in self-pity is only a viable option for so long. And once that time runs out, there's really nothing else to do. You can't hide from it, paralysis will follow you everywhere you go. I suppose you could push the people who care about you away, but this will do nothing to improve your overall situation, and in the long run make things more difficult. So the only thing you have left to do is pull yourself up by the bootstraps and figure out how to live within your own personal sense of "new normal". I'm nine years post-SCI, and there are a few things I'm still trying to figure out how to do more normally (trying to mop without leaving tire marks!) but all in all I'd say we've made a pretty good adjustment. Papa Bear and I have maintained a loving marriage, I've given birth to two wonderful children, I get to stay home with them each day and educate Sunshine while working on therapeutic activities with Fidget. We may not have as many luxuries as we would sometimes like, but all of our basic needs are met, and many of our wants, so what more do we really need? But even if I don't see my own life as remarkable, I'm glad that my willingness to embrace my disability and love my life can be a testimony to others, and bring them hope. 

I have seen firsthand the joy that a child with physical or developmental challenges can bring to those who love him or her. A friend's son who was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth. Another friend whose daughter has a mitochondrial disease. One whose daughter suffered a brain injury after a lack of oxygen due to choking on food. In my career before becoming disabled I helped care for children with cancer. And I've met many children even before Fidget was born who have autism or other cognitive impairments. I understand that the prospect of having a child with chronic, or even terminal health concerns is scary, and overwhelming. There is fear of the ability to physically and financially care for that child, and worry of how those burdens will affect the other members of the family. But I have never known fear to be a good influence in making decisions. Some may have trouble communicating their thoughts, but they all think, feel, and love. They are loved in return. And they can take their joy and laughter and spread it to others.  Does a disability or chronic illness mean that the individual no longer has anything to contribute to their family and society? Not at all.

After Fidget was diagnosed with autism, a friend jokingly said to me "I bet you wish you'd prayed for that healthy child instead of just a happy one." But they could not be more wrong. I know some people have an issue labeling children with developmental delays, because they are more than their condition. And yes, Fidget is more than just a child with autism, just as I am more than just a woman with a spinal cord injury. But at the same time it is part of who he is. I cannot separate him from his autism, and it is one of the things that determines how he experiences life. 

Last night after not being satisfied with what was on his dinner plate, Papa Bear went to get a container of blackberries from the fridge. Fidget stood up in his booster seat, bounced up and down with his hands in the air, cheering "bay-ees, woo-hoo!" When he is upset, things related to cars, trains, and fire trucks can almost always calm him down as they are the current subject of his fixations. He loves crunchy and strongly flavored foods, he loves to touch as much as he can, and he loves to move! The way he perceives all of his five senses is shaped by the way autism affects how his brain processes sensory input. So if it weren't for his autism, he wouldn't be who he is; he would be a totally different child. Could I love that child? Absolutely. But I don't need that version of him because I love the berry-loving, vehicle-obsessed one I already have. He is the best possible version of him, and I get the privilege of guiding him to become the best version of him possible. And in that he helps me grow and become a better version of myself. Being his mother has challenges, but is something I could never wish away.


Seeing the value of life when health may be affected, my ultimate wish during each pregnancy and for the rest of their lives is that my children be happy. As a Christian mother I of course pray they accept and live the love of Christ and receive eternal reward in heaven. As a Catholic I pray they follow the teachings of our faith rather than straying from it. I hope they achieve at least enough financial success that they don't have to struggle; money may not buy happiness but it can provide a sense of security. But most of all, I hope they find the things in life that make them happy, and enjoy them to the fullest.

I don't know if my body will be able to withstand future pregnancy, or if it would be in our financial cards to adopt and raise more children. If not, I'm content and happy with the children I have. If our family does grow, my wish for those children would be the same as any of my others; whether boy or girl, able-bodied/minded or disabled:

Love the Lord, find a means to provide for yourself and your future family, and be happy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Whirlwind Wednesday 6/11

Sometimes I feel like Dory in Finding Nemo:

We're still in the thick of it with Papa Bear working 7 days a week. I barely even know what day of the week it is any more, since there is so little variation in our daily routine right now. I just keep trying to remind myself to be thankful that my husband is busy working; esp. with so many health expenses for Fidget at the moment. And while it seems it's been going on for ages, I know it won't last forever. Just keep swimming....

Fidget is now fully recovered from his ear tube/adenoid surgery. We had our follow-up visit last Friday, and not only do his ears look good, he also passed his hearing test! Before surgery he was showing a 30% deficit in both ears, so this is a huge relief. We'll continue following up with his ENT every four months until the tubes are out. He's not a fan of his ear plugs, but hopefully will get used to them over time. I got an email from his ABA therapy provider today, asking for me to confirm his availability for sessions, so hopefully this means we will get that ball rolling soon. Unfortunately, I'm still waiting to hear from his new occupational therapist, so I put in a call to our case worker. There aren't very many OTs working for early intervention in this area, so hopefully we can finally get in touch with her and get things started; I'd hate to have to fire her before even meeting her, and I've heard that once she gets going she's really good for kids with sensory issues. We're also in the process of trying some diet modifications to see if they will help; I'm slowly removing dairy from his diet and it does seem like his bowels have improved, so hopefully we'll see some of his other physical issues improve as well.

And speaking of poop, someone used the potty for the first time this week! I'm not at all trying to potty train him yet, but he was in the tub and kept asking to sit on the potty. Once he was able to pee a little, and once had the smallest poop I've ever seen. I think he was mainly asking b/c he likes to flush the toilet, but at least is shows that he has some control over his elimination functions. Hopefully we can tackle this together with our ABA therapists; not only does he not have the ability right now to communicate a need to go, he also doesn't have the motor skills to get clothes off & on. And with is tendency to engage in fecal smearing, I worry that he'll go but then play in it. <sigh> But I can't get ahead of myself, no sense in worrying about those things until we're there. For now I suppose I need to either get a new little potty, or an insert to put over the toilet, so that we're ready to go when his therapists are.

Sunshine had fun pulling Fidget around the yard before dinner tonight. Right after I snapped this he chuckled and said "Car-car!"

Sunshine is still chipping away at first grade; she's either done or almost done with most of her primary curriculum, but she still needs about 30 more school days to meet the state's requirement, so I've brought in some fun, supplemental things. Lots of Rainbow Loom-ing going on for art, I recently restocked her with bands, got a storage box for all of them, and got her one of the new little Monster Looms. She definitely seems to have an easier time with that one than the full sized one, which she will get all the bands placed on but then pawn the looping part on to me. We've also got a new reading curriculum that has her reading actual books instead of readers; the books are a bit simple for her reading level, but it makes her think about comprehension more than she is used to, so overall it is a good balance. Our math book has been replaced by a book of logic puzzles (though we're still working on fact memorization on the side). and we're taking our time to go in-depth on her current science chapter about space.  Yesterday we started painting a wooden solar system mobile kit I got from Amazon, and she has a Magic School Bus chapter book on space for her free reading. We're definitely moving at a slower summer pace though so she has time to play with her neighborhood friends, and for formal summer activities. Tomorrow she finishes up two weeks of swim lessons, and next week she will attend Vacation Bible School. Then we'll have some (relatively) quiet weeks before she and a troopmate have a 3 day/2 night resident camp session. She's had sleepovers with family plenty of times, but this will be her first time sleeping at camp, and with no family accompanying her I know she's a bit nervous. It does help some that she went with her troop up to this camp for a service unit at the end of May, so she at least is a little familiar plus excited to see more. And I attended this same camp as a girl, and am confident that she'll settle in and make friends quickly, and will be too busy having fun to think about missing us. She's also excited about some of the new camping gear I'm getting her. I could have bought it more over time, and some things could probably wait, but I figure by buying it now she'll get more use for the money than if we waited a year or two.

I wish I could say I had something fun and exciting planned for Father's Day, but since we don't know yet if Papa Bear will be working I really can't plan anything. I'm also trying, though not succeeding, to avoid thinking about the fact that this is the first Father's Day since my dad passed away. But it seems like lots of things keep popping up to bring him to my mind. All happy memories, but the timing makes them bittersweet.

My Daddy holding little 3 day old me

Papa Bear has gotten a couple of his gifts early, because Sunshine is pretty much the worst secret keeper ever, and was busting at the seams to give it to him. A few days ago we gave him this gorgeous rosary from

Rubbermaid 5E28 Deluxe Tool Tower Rack with Casters, Holds 40 Tools
And today this came in for him from Amazon. Not really a gift, per se, but I know he needs the organizational space and will appreciate it over time. One thing that is sorely lacking in our house is storage for all of his tools and lawn equipment, so hopefully getting the big long stuff out of his main storage cabinet will make it easier for him to put some shelving in to organize the rest of it.

I do have one more gift up my sleeve for him, but that one I'm not even telling Aubrey about, and he'll really have to wait for this one.

None of the above links are affiliate links, I'm receiving no compensation for sharing them. Pictures are from the websites where the products are being sold.

As for me, aside from just holding down the fort I've been working on planning some home improvement projects, particularly redecorating the kids room now that Fidget is in a twin bed. They actually still had their "nursery" decor up, which we chose while pregnant with Sunshine, so I figure we got good money out of it, esp as nursery themes go. I'll have to wait on Papa Bear to carry out most of the execution, but I always have fun with the planning stages as much as the actual project. But for now there is a bed across the house calling my name. Many days lately I have stayed up late to work on domestic duties, but they'll have to all wait for another day.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Answer Me This: June 1

Yes, yes, yes; I know I just titled this post June 1 even though I'm writing it on the 2nd, but since I usually do my AMT on Sundays, I'd rather not throw off the rhythm. I'm a day late, but not a dollar short, so here we go! This week's Answer Me This, linking up at!

1. Do you have a smart phone?
Oh thank goodness yes; used to be I didn't see the need for it; now I can't imagine being without it. Papa Bear got me an iPhone for my birthday back in 2011, and a few months later I got him one for an early Christmas gift. It is so wonderful being able to FaceTime whenever he is traveling for work, it really helps the kids not miss him so much since they can actually SEE him. We're also big fans of the AnyList app, which lets us share grocery lists and other to-do lists and see each other's updates virtually instantly. It's a bit of a joke with me that if events don't go into my iPhone calendar that they don't happen. And I must say I've grown quite accustomed to being able to check the radar or look up directions, phone numbers, etc when out running errands. I've also got a few apps for each of the kids, which I try not to overuse, but there are certainly times they come in handy!

2. Which is your favorite meal of the day?
I don't know that there's any one meal that is consistently my favorite each day. Generally speaking, my favorite meals are probably early dinners; ones where we're not rushed in our preparations but can rather enjoy our time together in the kitchen, and then can take our time dining and sharing the company of family and/or friends. A meal that starts early and runs into the night. Bonus points if the weather is nice and we can eat outside without being assailed by oppressive heat or persistent bugs. A table full of good food which has been lovingly prepared, and a gathering of those who care about each other, with the air full of the sounds of conversation and laughter. Just the thought of it makes my heart happy.

3. Shower or bath?
A shower as a matter of routine, since I don't have the ability to transfer in and out of a tub independently. But about every 3-4 months Papa Bear will help me in and out of the tub, and oh how I savor it! Soaking in the warm, the peacefulness, the solitude. Pure bliss, which I never fully appreciated until it became a special treat. 

4. Think of a person you love. How many days have you been in love with that person? (Don't worry, this site will do the math for you. And, hey, now you can order this card!)
 Dec 2003, not long after getting engaged
3,948! that sounds so much bigger than 10, almost 11 years! Papa Bear and I had our first date on August 10, 2003, our second date the next day, our third date the day after that. And by the end of that third date on August 12, I knew he was "the one". I'd had a boyfriend in college who I dated for about four years. Spending so long with him, and having several guys who I'd been on just one or two dates with in between, I had a very firm idea of what I did/didn't want in a husband, what I could tolerate, and what was non-negotiable. The guys I dated in between were cut quickly because I could tell they didn't have everything I was looking for. After 72 hours, I knew Papa Bear had the complete package of everything I knew I wanted, and many things I didn't know I wanted until I met him. (After living in the north for many years, there was definitely something to be said for a chivalrous southern gentleman!) From our first date to the day we got engaged was only about 3 1/2 months! Anyone else I would have said they were crazy, but with him it was just...right. And still is.

5. What's the best church you've ever been inside?

Well, having traveled to France when I was 16, it's hard to compete with the Sacre Cour and Notre Dame. Stateside, though, I think I'd have to say St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh. 

When I was in college, living within walking distance of the Cathedral parish was definitely a treat. 

Many a prayer have I offered while gazing upon that altar.

And you've got to love a good pipe organ!

Note: all images from Google search, and I do not claim ownership of any of them!

6. Happy Feast of the Visitation! Has anyone ever come to help YOU?
More than I can count. We have been so blessed by people coming to our aid in various times of need. I think that's part of why Papa Bear and I both tend to be so service-minded. It's our way of giving thanks and repaying the generosity of all who have given help to us.

Mad Season

So are you gonna stand there?
Or are you gonna help me out?
We need to be together now
I need you now

Do you think you can cope? You figured me out?
That I'm lost and I'm hopeless
I'm bleeding and broken though I've never spoken
I come undone in this mad season

--lyrics to "Mad Season" by Matchbox 20

This is indeed a mad season of our life right now, as evidenced by the fact that I haven't posted in nearly two weeks. Plenty of posts were written in my head, as I dashed through the days which were both routine and filled with the unexpected, but not until now have I had time to put fingers to keys and actually write something down.

Poor Papa Bear is still working seven days a week. The last time he had a day off was the day of Fidget's surgery almost three weeks ago. And sadly there is no day off in sight. In this stretch of days he's had a three day work trip to Texas, and a 16.5 hour day in response to local flooding due to heavy rains. To say that it is taking a physical and mental toll on him would be a massive understatement.

And as happens in families, the toll is not restricted to him. The kids miss him, and in the evenings I have to try to keep their excitement from boiling over, and help them balance their need for Daddy Time with his need to relax and unwind. I'm doing as much extra as I can to help ease his domestic responsibilities, while at the same time being responsible for Sunshine's educational needs, Fidget's developmental needs, my usual domestic tasks, and sometimes nurturing my own sanity.

We've both been feeling a bit broken by life lately. If you go back to the beginning of the year, 2014 has brought more "reality" into our home than many so-called reality television shows. And admittedly there have been days when we have been short with each other, or not communicated ourselves properly leading to misunderstandings and tension between us. In many ways it has not been our finest hour, as our home is typically much more harmonious than it has been recently. 

But at the same time, these are the days that make me proud and thankful for the strength of our marriage. When the dust settles and we've both cleared our heads, we hash things out, explain our thoughts and feelings, apologize, forgive, repent, and move on. Never have I had to worry whether he would be there by my side, on my side, and ready to help out. Papa Bear has always been exceedingly generous with his time and energy. I sometimes worry that having myself spread thin prevents me from returning his generosity as fully as I would like, but I also know that he sees my love for him in how I care for his children and his home. They are his greatest gift to me, and my care for them is my gift to him. 

We will always endeavor, I think, to do more to nurture our marriage. There's no such thing as enough or too much when it comes to strengthening the marital bonds. But we made a conscious decision before we were married that "irreconcilable differences" were not an option for us. This is by no means a dig at anyone who has used those grounds for divorce, and I hope it is not taken as such; I would never pretend to know the feelings of another person's heart. I only know that despite a brief courtship before our engagement, we took our vows very seriously. On a sunny October afternoon, we stood before each other, God, and his church; and we both said:

I promise to be true to you 
in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. 
I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

Those vows were tested early, and they've been tested often. But never have I had any doubt that either of us intended to continue fulfilling them. This is indeed a mad season, but I know a much more prosperous season awaits us on the other side.