BAM Family

BAM Family

Thursday, December 19, 2013

FREE Stocking Stuffers Your Kids Will Love

For some reason, when thinking of stocking stuffers for my kids, all my brain was saying was "Uhhhh….?"

Then I started thinking about things my kids really like to do. Two of their favorites "special treats" are playing Angry Birds on my iPad and watching shows on Netflix. They only get to do these activities on special occasions so I thought…

"What about a coupon book?" 
 Coupons are easy and FREE and I know my boys will LOVE coupons for Angry Birds...
…and Netflix. I made 3 coupons for each activity with a check box to mark when the coupon has been redeemed. I'm sure these coupons will get good use over Christmas break!

I cut out some printable tags, wrote the coupon info, cut some wrapping paper to size, and stapled. BAM!
What do your kids love to do? Make some coupon books and stuff those stockings!
Your kids will love you! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My kids are now the "Public School Kids" I used to judge

I sat on a blanket in my friend's yard watching my 6 year old twins run and climb with ten other children on an unseasonably warm fall day.

The other moms and I sipped coffee and started chatting.

"So, where do your older ones go to school?" I asked.

"We homeschool," she smiled.

"We do too," another mom stated, with more of a look of resignation on her tired face. It was 4pm on a Wednesday, after all.

We talked and laughed and commiserated together. A few minutes later, I realized that out of the 4-5 women present, I was the only public school mom at our play date.  I listened to their discussions about curriculum and homeschool groups and contributed to the conversation where I could.

But I felt an emotional twinge, like I was an outsider.

I inwardly laughed: Me, feeling like an outsider for being a public school mom after I spent my entire childhood and adolescence feeling like an outsider because I was home schooled.

It really was funny…and so, so ironic.

I watched my kids climb into the treehouse and play good guys and bad guys, wielding sticks and plastic swords with their friends.

Then, my smile faded as a realization struck me.

My kids are the "public school kids." 

My kids are now the kids that, as a homeschooler, I used to judge...
…the kids I thought weren't smart enough, good enough, or Christian enough.

My friends and I even whispered about "wayward" home schoolers, saying "Look at her! She's acting so...public schooled!"

It was the worst insult we could slap on a person.

Although I have long come to the realization that my prejudices as a child and teen were unwarranted and flat out wrong, it wasn't until this moment that I felt the tragedy of my own hateful judgement toward others.

What if these sweet home schooled children think my boys are "less than" because they go to public school? 

What if they think that my twins aren't smart because they aren't home schooled?

What if they shake their heads in pity, thinking my boys can't possibly learn to love Jesus because, don't you know? God isn't allowed in public school. 

As I watched the children play, I saw no discrimination, no judging thoughts, no distinction whatsoever. Only play and fun and equality. 

It was only my own mind that was tortured by the demons of my past.

Wave after wave of guilt and shame hammered my soul as I watched the kids play so freely and so free of judgment and I thought:

Why did I think this way?! My parents never taught me to think I was better than other people. They taught us to love and serve others.  

But somehow this attitude crept in. Maybe it was that first generation homeschoolers felt like they had something to prove.
Homeschooling was new and uncharted waters, after all.
Society questioned, doubted.
So we homeschool students were taught to prove our worth, defend our education:
Our education was just as good as a public school education.
No, it could be it was even better!

Or maybe it was because I heard about the "evils" of public school at homeschool conferences in or in overheard discussions from parents.
While I was growing up, comics like the one above scared me yet also created a smug sense of security and self-importance. Those pieced, spiked, belly-showing, long-haired "creatures" could not be my friends. Oh, I should love them, but from afar, at arms length, as people that should be witnessed to because if they went to public school, they obviously did not know Jesus. But I had to be careful because their bad influence might rub off on me.

I even treated the kids I interacted with at church like this. We were the only homeschooling family in our large church and, to be honest, I was really weird. I mean, I wore a pinafore with 4 inch lace frills (that I sewed myself!) to church…when I was in 8th grade.

I was low on the social totem pole.

But there were sweet, kind girls that invited me to their birthday parties and for sleepovers.

I went but I never reciprocated. I judged them in my heart because they wore knee length skirts, gushed over Justin Timberlake, and talked about (gasp) hickies! I was horrified and I judged those good Christian girls like the bow-wearing, pink-clad homeschool girl judges her public school peers in the comic above.
My attitude toward public schooled students was like the comic above. I was the happy fish, swimming freely, while public schooled students were "locked up" in "government" classrooms, being "taught to be robots," and were basically brain-dead by the time they graduated, like poor sardines in a can, begging for help!

But it was me that was locked up in a world of prejudice and judgement, shunning people who could have been my friends and who could have opened my eyes to new thoughts and ideas. (Thank God for this awesome public-schooled boy I met in college named Aaron…)

I know that the "us vs. them" attitude of homeschooelers is not dead. I wish it was. Everything I put in quotes in the paragraph under the comic are things I have heard from people I grew up with or from current blogs I have read (usually in the comments section under a controversial homeschooling article).

But when I became a public school mom (an agonizing decision you can read about here), I learned a few amazing things.

My kids are not locked in their classrooms or shackled to their desks (imagine that).
They are not robots, nor are they being taught to be robots (I have a son who constantly reminds me that he has a mind-of-his-own on a daily basis)
They love school and are taught by wonderful teachers who love them.
And, most importantly…

People are people. Not public school kids. Not homeschool kids. Heck, not even private school kids!

No more stereotypes and judgment.

People are people who deserve to be loved and respected for who they are, not judged or discriminated against for the school they attend.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why I can't raise my children to be Christians

"But why, mommy?" My five year old cried, his head on my shoulder. "Why did Jesus die on the cross?"
"Well, honey, he died so that we can have a relationships with God." I smoothed the hair back from his forehead, thinking back to the crucifixion scene we let our twins stay up to watch on The Bible mini-series.
I had been hesitant. Are they ready for this? I wondered. Maybe. Maybe this is going to be the moment!
I took a deep breath and moved forward.
"We are all sinners; this means we do bad things and our sin keeps us from God. But Jesus took the punishment for our sin when he died on the cross." 

I paused, looking into my son's tear filled eyes, amazed at the tenderness of his heart in this moment. "Do you want to thank Jesus for dying for your sins? Do you want to tell him that you want a relationship with God?" 
My son shook his head. "No."


In the past few weeks,  a blog post has been floating around the internet and has been reposted on my Facebook wall several times over. The article, How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home, resonated with many of my friends, and with me as well. The message of the blog post was this: 
"If we teach morality without the transforming power of the gospel and the necessity of a life fully surrendered to God's will, then we are raising moral pagans."
While this post did resonate with me, it left me unsettled as well. Because I do teach my kids to be moral. I teach them that when you hurt someone, you say you are sorry. When you take something that's not yours, that's called stealing; you take it back, you apologize, and you don't do it again. I have said, "The Bible says we don't steal. We should not lie. That is unloving. This is not the way God wants us to live."

I say these things and I know I am teaching them to be…well, according to the wording of the linked blog post, "moral pagans." 

Because this is all I can do. 

I cannot teach my children to be Christians. 

I wish I could. I wish I could make them be followers of Christ simply by teaching them the ways of Christ, by making them "pray the prayer," by teaching them to be moral. 

I wish I could say, "In our family, WE believe THIS!" 

I probably have said this. But it is not 100% true. My husband and I believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. We humbly accept Christ's righteousness in place of our sin. We choose to walk in His ways. 

But I shared the story at the beginning of this post to demonstrate the difficult truth that I can teach my children about Jesus, all about his atoning sacrifice on the cross, his miraculous resurrection, his forgiveness, his life and teaching, and the amazing new vision of life that he gives those who say, "Yes, Lord! I trust in you."  

I can teach them all of this. And I do teach them these things and will continue to do so. 

But I cannot raise my children to be Christians. A child does not become a Christian because he matriculated through a "Christian" home, because he has listened to his mother reading the Bible, because he heard his father pray, because he was in Sunday school every week, because he memorized scripture, because he prayed a prayer at Bible School, or because Mommy and Daddy are Christians. 

I can teach and demonstrate all these things but none of them will make my child a Christian. 

Because to be a Christian, my child must choose Christ for himself. 

My children are sinners. Without a transformed heart, every scriptural mandate I teach them is a moral code, a law. 

But it is my hope and deepest prayer that Galatians 3:23-25 will be manifested in their lives: 

But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 

So, all I can do is teach my children to be "moral pagans." My efforts fall far short of their salvation. 

But where my efforts stop, God's grace begins. Christ died for my children the same as he died for me. I can only trust that his Spirit is at work in their lives, as he is in mine, and pray that when Jesus whispers to their souls, Come follow me! at the right time, they will say YES. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to (accidentally) exercise everyday

I hate to exercise.

I know some women love it. It's like an escape to them…from their kids, house, stress, life. I admire these women; they inspire and baffle me.

Personally if I want to escape, it's in a good book or netflix series curled under a squishy afghan with a glass of milk and a slice of chocolate cake.

That, my friends, is my definition of "escape."

But, back to by hatred of exercise.

The only thing stronger than my hatred of exercise is my guilt of NOT exercising. Because I know I'm supposed to. I want to be healthy. I want to be a good example for my kids. I want to be a "hot mom" (wait...did I just say that?)

But I am also a really busy person. I have three kids. I have a house to take care of. I have meals to prepare. I have a mountain range of laundry to cross every week. Oh, and I also work 30+ hours a week from home as an online professor and freelance editor.

I have 6-8 exercise DVDs that I attempt to do every 9.5 months. Usually by the time I get half way through, one of my children is crying or pooping somewhere inappropriate.

So, what's a busy mom to do? I decided that instead of trying to squeeze exercise in, I should take a backwards approach. I decided to look back at my day or week and see where I have accidentally exercised.

The Accidental Exercise Plan is simple. All you need is some creativity and a good memory (though once you add more than two children to your life, the later is hard to come by. Hang in there, mama!)

The only equipment required for the Accidental Exercise Plan is a house and children.

And the exercises are simple--you are probably doing them all every day! You just need to recognize them so you can give yourself a pat on the back at the end of every day for exercising.

Tell me more, you say? Well, let's begin! I've broken the Accidental Exercise Program down into Legs, Arms, Abs, and Cardio.


The Basement Laundry Room
Do you have a basement laundry room? Lucky you! Don't curse the cold concrete floors, the swinging lightbulb, and the spiders that freak the living daylights out of you! Thank your lucky stars that you get to "do stairs" every day!

Yes, every time you run up, run down, lug up, lug down, you are exercising, my dear. So do your laundry with PRIDE! Your thighs are thanking you.

The Two Year Old
Do you have a two year old? Then you also have a personal trainer! The two year old will help you run every day. To take advantage of your two year old's expertise, take him to a grocery store, Target, or any department store. Turn around for 1.2 seconds then turn back around. Your child will be 100 yards away and will be urging you to begin your Accidental Exercising for the day. Run, mama, run!
Is your child super speedy? Lucky you!

Dinnertime Bicep Burn
It's 6:00 at your house. That means dinner time prep. It also means Accidental Exercising! Don't distract your clinging, crying baby with toys, wooden spoons, pot lids, goldfish, and a kitten! Hold that baby on your hip while you stir that pot!

Do you feel that burn? Ahh…your biceps are thanking you.

BONUS Workout: Have twins. Then you can do this:
Yes, these are my workout clothes. 

Midnight Maneuver
This Accidental Exercise technique takes some skill but most moms are already completing this move with dexterity.
First, pass out from exhaustion in your bed while your baby is curled up beside you.
Next, wake up. Realize that it is only 8:45pm and you are an adult who promised herself that she would have an grown-up conversation with her husband that night.
Next, hoist your baby over your stomach, cradling her body with your arms. Do not wake your baby!
Carefully sit up without using your arms or elbows to help you. Flail your legs if necessary--no one is watching.
Place your baby carefully in bed.
Pat yourself on the back for getting your baby to sleep AND doing a crazy-hard sit-up.
Repeat as necessary throughout the night.

The Squishy Belly Laugh
Did you know that laughing burns 1.3 calories per minute? To take advantage of the Squishy Belly Laugh Accidental Exercise, pull up your shirt so your belly is exposed. Let your baby squish all that postpartum goodness while you blow raspberries. Your baby will laugh. You will too...WHILE YOU BURN CALORIES!! WIN WIN!


They say the point of cardio is to elevate the heart rate to strengthen the heart muscles. Here are a few ways to integrate an elevated heart rate into your Accidental Exercise regimen.

The Crash
Go about your day as normal. Hum. Sing. Be happy and joyful and unassuming. CRASH!!! In the moments after The Crash (usually from your child's bedroom), your heartbeat will elevate. If you hear the "bad cry," RUN (bonus exercise!!!) to your child's room. Your heart rate will continue to elevate until the crash and the "bad cry" are resolved.

"Cardio" accomplished.

The Daredevil
Is your child a daredevil? Lucky you! You get to experience Accidental Exercise cardio more than most!  To take advantage of your daredevil, look for ways to be scared out of our pants: jungle gyms, parking lots, bunk beds, knives in your dishwasher, etc.

Caution: a side effect of The Daredevil is gray hair.

Of course, you could always accidentally exercise by doing this too...
I call it "The Lift and Kiss"

So fellow mamas, if you are like me, let go of your guilt. Let the dust collect on those Jillian Michael's DVDs. Plan some quality "escape" time in your day, because you know what? 

You already (accidentally) exercised today. 

Do you Accidentally Exercise??? Share your tips below!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Meng Menu

Sunday: KFC (aka...mommy is exhausted) 
Monday: Hamburgers, baked fries, carrots and broccoli
Tuesday: Chicken and rice soup, homemade bread
Wednesday: London broil, smashed potatoes with cheese and green onions, green beans
Thursday: Chicken fajita casserole
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: Egg rolls (from freezer section), fried rice, crab rangoon

I was under budget this week at $144! 

I am excited to make the crab rangoon this week! I have had several recipes for crab rangoon pinned to my Snacks Pintrest board for a long time now and I finally bought all the ingredients to try it out! They can also be baked so maybe I'll have to try out both fried and baked. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Bacon, Pumpkins and three loud boys: Our Romanic Evening

When I was a teenager and even a young married wife, I craved romance. I wanted spontaneous flowers, surprise dates to romanic locations, diamond rings and necklaces (all thoughtfully picked out to suit my taste and style), and grand gestures of devotion.

I was constantly disappointed, mostly because the rosy image of romance in my head didn't match with the every day-ness of my life as a wife and mother of three. 

I gradually loosened my clenched fingers from my "romantic ideal," and not just because my husband thinks, "Flowers are stupid. They just die. Why would I spend money on something that is going to die?!"

My romantic ideal was simply not reality. I finally learned to accept it. 

And then slowly, quietly, the reality of my everyday life became romantic. Not every day, not even every week (we don't have a "date night"), but when I began to redefine romance as intentional thoughtfulness that tells the beloved, "I'm thinking of you." 

Our Tuesday evening was going to be special because Aaron was going to carve Halloween pumpkins with our twins. They were ecstatic! 

As they gathered knives, bowls, and super-cool Angry Bird templates from the printer, I decided to start  dinner, a thrown together "breakfast for dinner" concoction. 
Aaron tuned in to his current favorite Pandora station on his laptop. 
Bacon sizzled and popped in the skillet. 
My older boys "Ewww'ed!" and "Nasty'ed!" as they pulled out the pumpkin guts. 
My baby babbled and banged a tube of lotion on his high chair tray. 
And then my husband said, "Hey, I want you to listen to this song."

It was difficult. The microwave was whirring and dinging. The "GROSS!" enthusiasm was getting more enthusiastic. But I listened as I flipped the bacon, wiping popped grease from the back of my hands. 

In the middle of all that distraction, I managed to catch the last verse of this Lee Brice song: 

She knows what a mess I'd be if I didn't have her here
But to be sure, I whispered in her ear
"You know I get sick deep-sea fishin'
And you make the best fried chicken
I got a hopeless golf game
I love the sound of your name
I might miss that old green 'Nova
But I love watchin' you do yoga
I'd take a gold band on my hand
Over being a single man
Cause honestly I don't know what I'd do
If I'd never met a woman like you."

Full Song Lyrics

I caught my husband's eye as the song played and he smiled at me, a sharpie in his hand as he drew faces on our children's pumpkins. 

I stared at this man, the father of my children, my partner and friend, while the aroma of bacon joined the earthy pumpkin smell filling our small kitchen.

Tears pricked my eyes. 

Pulp and seed were all over my floor. My baby was calling, "Ma-ma-ma-ma!" and wanting to be held. My twins started to fuss about "being done with picking out the seeds."
But I wanted to capture this moment, take a mental snapshot and store it in my memory under the caption, "Perfect Evening." 

Because it was. It was perfect, spontaneous, thoughtful. 

It was pure romance.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Happy First Birthday, Silas!

Silas, you are ONE today!!! Where has the year gone? This has literally been the fastest year of my life!

Brand new baby boy
And the happiest as well.

And you, my little babe, have been a big part of that happiness.

You bring such joy to our family, Silas. We all adore you. You are a happy, curious, sweet, and funny little boy.

You have learned to do so many things in the past year! Here is what I wrote about you at
Three Months
Six Months
Nine Months

You cruise like a champ on the couch. And you are almost walking. You can stand up without any support and have even taken up to 3 steps before sitting down. It won't be long now! You are still a lot faster when you crawl and you do crawl ALL OVER THE HOUSE!

You are so curious! You are into EVERYTHING! You love to pull all the cooking utensils out of the drawers. And plastic lids. And cookie cutters. And all the pantry items. Today I picked the peanut butter jar, honey bear, gingerbread cookie cutters, large plastic spoon, and two pot lids off the floor. Before breakfast. You also love to "help" mommy empty and load the dishwasher.

Whew! You keep us busy little man!

Your love for music is growing each day. You love to sing and dance. Whenever you hear music you sway your body or head back and forth. You step side to side. Sometimes you do an awesome booty-poppin' dance! We love it! You even dance to rhythmic noises, like the blender, the kruig coffee maker, or the vacuum cleaner.

Today when your brothers sang "Happy Birthday" to you, you danced, laughed, and clapped your hands.

You got a little too excited
when you were watching
M & B in the shower
Your relationship with Micah and Benji has grown so much in the past year. They are truly your Big brothers and you are their littler brother. They look out for you and take care of you. They are so gentle with you and (almost!) always share their toys willingly. You love to watch them take a bath or shower. You think this is hilarious.

You are not so much a fan of the bath yourself. Mommy is not sure what happened since you used to love baths. You hate getting your hair washed.

Speaking of hair, you really, really need a hair cut. We call you "Mullet man." Your long hair is a big surprise to us since your brothers were bald when they turned one.

You can also say several words and have your own special words for things too:
Mama (or MA MA MA MA MA!)
Ah-da! (Daddy)
All done (this is your favorite phrase and sign. You say/sign it all the time: when you are done eating, when you are done nursing, when you want to get up from your nap, when you want to be picked up. It's your multi-purpose phrase)
Ni-Ni (you say this when you are tired)
Mmm! Mmm! (More. You also sign "more" sometimes)

I think you have said "Micah" but I am not sure. Your reaction when you see your brothers is usually a high pitched squeal.

Another thing that makes you squeal is being surprised or scared. You like it when mommy or your brothers jump out and scare you or play peek-a-boo. You think this is so funny and you love being surprised!

Your teeth have finally started coming in! You currently have two teeth that are through (one on the top and one on the bottom!) and two that are coming in (ditto). Teething has not been fun. You frequently run low fevers and wake up a LOT at night.
I am making a weird face but SEE my tooth? (and long hair?)
Well, you wake up a lot at night anyways. You are not the best sleeper. You still wake up frequently. You just want Mommy-snuggles. That's ok. I know that soon, this too shall pass.

You continue to take a great nap in the mornings from about 9-noon (sometimes 11:30). An afternoon nap is hit or miss lately (Mommy is sad about this). You are a happy boy when you are awake though! When you are tired, you want your blankie. You adore your blanket. It is your favorite thing (we should probably nickname you "Linus").

I cannot believe how fast you have grown up, Silas. This time last year, you came into the world and we saw you for the first time. Now, we can't imagine life without you.
You make us laugh every day! This is your
"stink face"! 
You are tangible joy.

You have helped me become a better mother, a mommy who is more gentle, patient, playful, and nurturing to your brothers. Sometimes I would forget that Micah and Benji are my "babies" too. But you helped remind me.
How is this tiny baby ONE today? 
We love you more than you could ever know, Sweet Silas. We thank God that you are part of our family!

Happy Birthday, Silas Edward!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I gave Super-Mom the boot this Halloween

I had these grand plans to sew my kids' Halloween costumes this year.

Benji wanted to be Turbo. Micah wanted to be Jake the Pirate. Cute, right?

So, I spent some quality time brainstorming how I was going to make these adorable costumes. Jake was going to be pretty easy: boots! Red scarf! Felt vest! And we already had a sword. Check, check, and check! 

Turbo was the one that was giving my creative juices a big, fat squeeze. But I was prepared. I mentally fashioned this whole felt get-up that was stuffed with plastic bags. I was then going to make this headband thingy for the eyes. 

They would love their costumes and I would be super-mom. 

But...then some things happened. 

Like, 6 year old fickleness.  

And reality.

First, the boys CHANGED THEIR MINDS about what they want to be. (HOW DARE THEY? Don't they know how much TIME I have dedicated to THINKING about these costumes?!)

Micah said: I wanna be that green guy with muscles (The Hulk)
Benji said: I wanna be a PURPLE ANGRY BIRD!

I said, Ok. Why not?

The truth is, with teaching online and on campus, editing manuscripts, working on writing projects,  and taking care of my baby (oops, don't want to forget him!),  I really don't have time to make their costumes. :( 

That sucks. But it's reality. ::Sigh:: 

So, Super-mom got the boot. But I replaced her with mental sanity this Halloween. 

And I am really looking forward to taking "that green guy with muscles" and "PURPLE ANGRY BIRD" trick-or-treating next week.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Happy Sixth Birthday, Micah and Benji!

How are my twins SIX already? It seriously feels like they JUST turned five. This year has gone by so fast!

This has been a big year for Micah and Benji. They became big brothers AND they started Kindergarten. 

 I am so proud of them. 

Look how they've grown!
 Newborns in the NICU
 First birthday (we survived!!!)
 Two year old twins!
 Terrific twos (though sometimes terrible twos...)
 Three year old twins!
 Arr! We're three!
 Guess who's FOUR?? Micah and Benji!
 Four years old and off to school!
Five years old! 
Today we are SIX! 

Oh my goodness, boys! You are growing up so fast! 
Raising twins has been (very!) hard at times but I can honestly say that this past year has been the most delightful year I have had as a parent. Looking forward to many more wonderful years with my little men. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Surgery and Sacrifice: A reflection on motherhood and doubt

My baby was crying. Actually, he was screaming. I rocked and bounced, hushed and shhh'ed. Nothing worked. Benji kept wailing.

I had been a mother for 5 weeks and for two of those weeks, my twins had been in the NICU. Just when I was starting to feel the faintest glimmer of motherly confidence (ha!), I once again felt completely helpless.

"Sometimes babies just cry," said my mother, who was visiting from Kansas. She took Benji from me, walking and shhh'ing and patting his bottom.

My mom and Benji (5 weeks)
"It's true," said our friend Cathy, a college friend of my mom's who was visiting for the day. "Why don't you get out of the house for a bit? We'll take care of him."

So I went for a drive. I swam around in my post-partum hormonal soup, crying at every song on the radio. I came back to the house more high-strung than when I left.

Benji was still screaming. Something was not right. I knew it.

"Really, sometimes babies do this,"they reassured me. And of course, being mothers for 30+ years, they were right.

But something, something felt wrong to me. That day I experienced my baptism of "mother's intuition" by fire. While the older women visited in my living room, I took my baby, hid in my bedroom and quietly called the pediatrician.

"Yes, I think you should bring him in," the nurse told me. "Especially since he is so young and has been crying so long."

So my husband and I bundled Benji up and took him to the doctor on the November day, leaving Micah, his brother, at home with the grandparents.

The doctor confirmed what my intuition told me: something was not right. Benji had an inguinal hernia (testicular hernia) and needed immediate surgery. The doctor told us to go to UVA medical center an hour away. He called ahead to let the ER know we were coming.

Being parents for 5 weeks, we went into panic mode. We raced home, bundled up Micah, grabbed the pack n' play (did we need 2? who knows?) the breast pump and a walmart bag full of clean bottles, and bid a hasty goodbye to my parents.

Benji blessedly slept the whole way there (a miracle!) but I didn't fully appreciate that hour of peace had I known what was to transpire in the next 36 hours.

UVA is a teaching hospital so once we got to the ER, we were met with a parade of med students, interns, and residents. They all tried to "reduce" Benji's hernia. That's a fancy term for "push it back in."

Oh, my baby screamed and screamed and screamed!

It didn't work. Finally, when I had tears streaming down my face, the pediatric surgeon came in and was able to "reduce" it. That scream from my barely-five-pound baby reached a fevered pitch. All the med students, interns, and residents kept looking at me with worried glances.

"Are you ok?" they asked.

How old is this girl? I bet they were all wondering. Seventeen? Eighteen? I tried to muster up all the maturity I had earned in my 23 years on earth and pulled it together emotionally.

Benji needed surgery to repair the hernia but the OR was completely booked. We would have to wait until morning. They wanted to admit us to a room but there were no rooms available. We had to spend the night in the ER behind a curtain.

Looking back at all the long-nights I have experienced as a mother, that night in the ER was one of the longest.

The worst part was that Benji wasn't allowed eat. He had an IV to keep him hydrated but his poor little baby tummy just craved milk. He cried and cried and cried.

"Please, can I feed him?" I begged the ER attendants.

"No, I'm sorry," they said, giving me pitying looks.

Mentally, I understood why but my body was screaming to feed him. Every 2 hours I forgot that they said no and begged, "Please, please, can I feed him? Just help me! What can I do?"

Finally they gave me a sugar-water pacifier that I could dip into his mouth. I think it helped me more than it helped my baby.

Morning finally came. The surgery time was set. We waited. I really needed to pump again. Finally, I couldn't wait any more and I threw my nursing cover over myself.

"We are going to take him back now," the nurse said, five minutes later. "You can give him a little kiss if you'd like."

But I was attached to the breast pump and I couldn't move without untangling myself from the machine. I kissed him with all my heart and watched as they wheeled my preemie away.

The surgery went well but and I could finally feed him when he came out. But they wanted to keep him over night for observation.

"Will you be staying over night with him?" the nurse asked, clipboard in hand.

By this time we had been awake for almost 36 hours. I was so exhausted I was dizzy. Micah had been an angel of a five-week-old but he was still a premature infant who, I knew, was at risk of infection the longer he was in the hospital.
5 weeks of twin motherhood. See those dark circles?
So I made a hard, and probably questionable, mothering decision. I decided not to stay. We left Benji at the hospital to go stay with some friends nearby.

Years later, I still wonder if I made the right decision: should I have stayed? How could I leave my baby alone in the hospital by himself? Was I one of "those parents"?

I only knew that I did the best thing I knew to do at the time. I had to make a sacrifice: for Benji, for my other child who also needed me...and for myself.


It has been almost 6 years since Benji's hernia surgery. And wouldn't you know, being twins, Micah "decided" that he didn't want to be left out.

Yep. Same hernia. (same side, even!). Same surgery. Same doctor! (yes, he remembered us and Benji's surgery!). No emergency this time, though! Thank God!

Today Micah is at UVA...and I am not with him. I had to make another hard mothering decision.

Our boys have had 7 surgeries in the past 5 years so we are old pros by now. We know it can take a long time, even with an out-patient surgery like Micah is having today (no over-night stay for him!).

But now we have another little boy, a crawling, curious, into-everything-11 month old. Since I am still nursing him, I knew that if I went to Micah's surgery, I would have to take Silas with me. And my attention would be painfully divided--I would want to comfort Micah, hold his hand while he drinks the "sleeping medicine" (or goofy medicine!), rock his little body and "shhh" him into comfort when he comes out from anesthesia, crying and disoriented, and help distract him when they remove the "evil IV" from his arm.

But my baby would need me too. And, like Micah so many years ago, Silas would be at risk of infection if he crawled around the hospital--he would be unhappy confined all day to the stroller or sling.

So, I had to make a decision, caught between two children who need me.

I decided to stay home with Silas.

Micah is with his Daddy, who is more than capable of providing nurturing, soothing comfort to our son.

But Mommy isn't there. And that's hard.

The funny thing is, I think it is harder for me than it is for him, at least at the moment. Micah was doing fine this morning emotionally. Last night, before he went to bed, I drew a heart on his hand in pen and drew a matching heart on my hand.

"Whenever you miss mommy, you can look at your heart and know I am thinking of you!" I told him.
Me and my Micah-Man
This morning, while they were waiting in the Surgery Center, I texted a picture of myself signing "I love you!" to my husband and 30 seconds later I got a text with an identical picture from my brave almost-six-year-old.

"Micah is playing Angry Birds and is fine." My husband texted. "Distracted and fine."

And so I wait. The surgery is at 10:45am. Then more waiting. Then recovery for who knows how long. Then the drive home.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

I can control so many outcomes for my child's life--good food, good schools, affection, attention, love--but so many of the hardest parts of motherhood are out of my control. I struggle, waiting, wondering--again--if I made the right decisions this time.

It is in these moments that I have to remember my Heavenly Father, the divine parent, who holds all my life--my worry, my doubt, my day, my child--in his hands.

He is there in the waiting. His hand are big enough to carry my worries, strong enough to shoulder my "am-I-a-good-mother" doubts. And he loves my son so much more than I ever could.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Meng Menu

Sunday: Chili, cornbread, apple pie
Monday: Grilled Asian chicken thighs, rice, broccoli
Tuesday: Frozen Pizza, salad
Wednesday: Pot luck for life group
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: Cheddar Ranch Chicken, roasted red potatoes, green beans

Excited to try two new recipes this week (the ones linked above!). What are you making for dinner this week? 

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