Wednesday, June 29, 2016

This Week: Getting to Know Rhodes

We have had such a good week. Clark has taken Joshua into Little Rock with his Therapeutic Recreation Summer Camp, which has freed me up to go over and help Holly with Rhodes.

I've spent most of each day over there with her. I try to do what I can to help out around her house...laundry, and stuff like that...but the main thing I do is hold the baby while she rests. Rhodie is up for several hours in the middle of the night, and so I try to hold him after he eats...and give her a little time to rest.

It's a hard job.

And, hey. I know how fortunate I am.

We've never lived near any family...mine, or Jim's. So when my kids were born, my Mom came and stayed one week with us, and then she went home. My mother-in-law would come as needed, and she was a great help over the years. BUT, it was mainly just me and the baby...and it was hard.

And then, as we had more kids, our friends would help out with carpool and meals and stuff...but it was still all day, every day...just me.

But, I got stronger every Holly is doing. There will come a time when she doesn't physically NEED me to be over there...and I'm okay with that.

What I am so excited about, and what I'm hoping for, is the chance for Jim and I...and our invest in Rhodie's little life as he grows get to teach him about God, and family; to teach him to make cookies, and paper airplanes, and mud-pies, and snow ice-cream; to teach him how to swim and fish and throw a ball; to read books and build towers out of blocks and make forts out of blankets in our living room; to share our home and our faith and our history with him.

Oh, I know that his parents will have the ultimate responsibility in his life. We are just hoping to reinforce what they teach him.

Today, as I write this, he is 12 days old.

Twelve days ago, he was nestled safe in Holly's tummy. He moved and kicked and hiccuped. SHE was getting to know him...but WE didn't know him. We didn't know when he would be born...or how. We didn't know what he would look like, or how big he would be, or if he would have hair. We didn't know if he would be okay, or be born with a medical condition. We didn't know if he would have special needs.

But now he is here, and he is beautiful. He is big, he is sweet, and he is squishy. He was delivered safely, by c-section. He looks a little like Holly, but mostly...he favors his Daddy. Which is good, because he's a BOY. He has a ton of hair.

In twelve days, Holly has learned to tell when he's mad, or hungry, or if he has a wet or dirty diaper...just by his cry.

She knows that he likes to be swaddled, but that he doesn't like his ARMS to be swaddled. She knows that he likes it when she carries him into his room to be changed...and she knows that he likes it when she washes his hair.

Twelve days.

We've learned so much about him, and we hopefully have a lifetime of learning to go. Yes, we hope to teach him...but he's also teaching us. The innocence of him...his newness...has brought energy and more life into our family. He is teaching us how to care for him, and how to love him.

Watching my boys, who are grown or nearly grown, gently holding him, quietly talking to him, kissing his little head...getting braver and braver, as they get to know him is about to make my heart burst.

We are so thankful for Rhodes Everett.

"Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." Proverbs 22:6

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Camp Barnbas 2016: Costumes and Cross-Carry

Camp Barnabas 2016 Updates: here, here, here, here, here, here.

Every night at Camp Barnabas, there's a party. And there's a "theme" for each party. An email announcing the themes is sent out well before arrival day, so that all the campers have time to gather the appropriate costumes for each party.

If they're interested.

For Joshua's first couple of years, we packed EVERYTHING he would need for each party...and then we realized something. Not only does JOSHUA NOT WEAR WRISTBANDS (here)...JOSHUA DOESN'T WEAR COSTUMES.

And that's how my life became 100% easier. And how we went from packing two large suitcases for camp...down to packing ONE suitcase for camp.

Because, here's the thing: IT'S JUNE. And it's HOT. And Joshua Garland is not about to dress up like a circus animal in the heat of summer. Not.happenin'.

But there are tons of kids who do.

And here's another thing I realized, after last year...people leave costumes there from year to year. HOLLA!

And, some of the helper-people will bring costumes for themselves AND their potential camper. SCORE!

The first party had an Olympic Games theme. The campers were told to dress for a sport they participated in...or a sport they liked...or to just dress patriotic. I had the great idea for Joshua to wear his Powerlifting competition suit...because he IS a powerlifter, and because it's red. Also, because it's a leotard-ish type of doesn't take up a lot of room.

Well, he acted like he liked that idea, but really? He did not. And, he did not pack it, and then told me he "forgot." Which, he did not. It was probably for the best. Holly reminded me that, because it is spandax-y and could be borderline inappropriate, if he didn't wear shorts over it. We make him wear shorts over it, but you never know how he will act when he's away from our eyes.

But, this ain't no peep show.

He told me that he ended up wearing a patriotic shirt that he had packed.

Side note: I typically let him pack for himself...and I just go down the list and ask him if he's put everything in there that he will need. This has been both successful...and a nightmare. Last year, he only brought two hankies...and he typically needs two a day, if he's at camp. Because ALLERGIES. One year, he only brought 4 pair of "undies." For 6 days.

I don't even wanna think about it.

That might have been the year he told me, while we were in the car on the way home from camp, that he had left me a "surprise" in the laundry.


This year, I happened to check his suitcase the night before we left, and he had 3 pair of socks. THREE. I had told him to pack 8.

AND, he ended up only bringing 3 pairs of shorts...instead of the 8 he told me he'd packed...and so he ended up having to wear jeans for 3 days. In the heat. So there's that.

I saw him wearing a white lab coat in one of the pictures on the camp website. It was "science night." He said that his helper-person brought the lab coat for him to wear. I thought that was sweet.

But, every night, along with the party...there is a dance. He said that his FRIEND Julia asked him to go with her to one of the dances...and he said, "okay." This just means that they met up there, and danced together a couple of times.

The next night, he asked Jenni, HIS GIRLFRIEND OF TWELVE YEARS, if she had a date to the dance that night, and she just looked at him. She said, "I've had a date to this dance for 12 years."

He said, "that's when I realized it was me."

The last night is always a "dress up" dance, where they will dress "fancy." But, you'll see everything from gym shorts and prom dresses. Joshua brought a black, long-sleeved, dress shirt...and his "Sunday" wear to the dance. He said he decided against the shoes, after 5 minutes of wearing them around the cabin. And that, after 5 minutes at the dance, he was regretting wearing a dark shirt...because the sun was still up, and it was HOT.

I don't know if you've ever heard of Kamp Kanakuk. It's a Christian sports camp located in Missouri. Our other 3 children went to this camp. Camp Barnabas is based on the same principles, only with the activities moderated to accommodate all different kinds of special needs.

So the campers are kept active and busy...swimming, walking, basketball, archery, jousting, canoeing, rifles, etc.

Campers can receive, snail mail...and they can also receive emails. They can write back, if you send envelopes and stamps...but they cannot email back. They can GET emails...they can't respond back to them.

I typically send emails, because it takes SO LONG to get a letter to him. This place is really in the boonies. But I can email him, and they will deliver it the next morning. Several of our family members and friends all got his email address, and they emailed him while he was gone. He LOVES to get mail...and he saves them all. He has saved all of the cards, letters, and emails he's received at camp...FOR THE PAST 12 YEARS.

The last night at camp is also the most moving night. They do a thing called "cross carry."

There's a large cross that sits at this place at camp called "Inspiration Point." On the cross, are little medal plates. Each plate is engraved with the names of former campers who didn't make it back the next year...because they have gone to Heaven. The campers pass this large cross from cabin to cabin. They are able to remember the ones who have passed away, pray for their families, and comfort each other.

It's somber...and sobering.

Joshua said that, after his cabin passed the cross to the next cabin, he walked to a quiet place to think. He said he looked up, and saw Jenni coming toward him, and she was in tears. He said, "I held her and told her everything was okay."

If there's one thing that characterizes most of the FRIENDS, it's how compassionate they are to each other (I mean, when they aren't socking one another in the eye! Ha!) They really are very sensitive to the needs and feelings of others.

But, there has to be a balance...because once one of the FRIENDS gets upset and starts've got about 4.3 seconds to get it under control, or you'll find yourself in the middle of a whole group of crying, wailing, inconsolable, special needs adults.

I speak truth.

"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." 2 Corinthians 1:4

Monday, June 27, 2016

"Labor" Day Antics

We...our family...try to keep a "running tab" of the funny things Joshua says on a daily basis...and then we share them with each other. We do have some completely "normal" days, but we also have those days when comedic material just presents thing after the other.

Holly's "Labor Day" was one of those "write that down" days. But it wasn't just Joshua saying the funny was all of the kids. And it helped to ease the nervousness of some parts of the day.

I remember when we walked into Holly's labor room. I wrote here about how she kept telling us "not to come right now," so by the time we finally were able to come to the hospital, she'd been in labor for at LEAST 8 hours. She'd had her epidural, so she was hooked up to that pump. She had a catheter, an IV, and was also hooked up to a monitor that watched her vitals, as well as the baby's vitals...and it kept track of her contractions.

When Jim, Joshua and I walked into her room, the first thing Joshua said to her was, "hey, Goup. Comfortable?"

Because: naturally.

(I wrote here about "Goup.")

He also asked Aaron-the-son-in-law if he thought the baby would have fur. Aaron said, "FUR?" Joshua said, "Yes. Or a tail." Aaron said, "Well, I HOPE not."

Joshua said, "I was just teasing...for the humorous."

Aaron and Joshua sat over on the little couch in Holly's room, and passed the time by talking about sports. At one point, Joshua told Aaron: "I'm leaving when the yelling starts."
Aaron: "Yelling? When will that start?"
Joshua: "Labor."
Holly: "Joshua, I've been in labor this whole time, and I haven't yelled or screamed ONCE."
Joshua, looking straight at her: "YOU WILL."

More fun started when Logan and Morgan arrived. They had planned on spending a rare moment off of school and a neighborhood pool. They had plans that night, and were looking forward to a quiet, relaxing day. And then I called to tell them about Holly...and they jumped up and grabbed all of their stuff. She said one of the people at the pool said, "where are y'all going? You just got here!" Morgan said, "BABY!" And they ran out.

Logan said that when they got home, they were changing clothes, and throwing clothes into a bag...trying to get ready to go. He said, "you make the coffee...and I'll make sandwiches!" And they took their food and ate in their car on the way. They are so cute.

This was after I had told them to not feel like they had to come...or that they didn't have to come RIGHT THEN.

But, hey...I get it. I'd been waiting at my house all morning for the "go-ahead."

But Logan and Morgan got there, and, true to Logan-form said, "there's a soccer game on...mind if we turn on the TV?"


Logan is the most curious person ever, and he is not one to sit still. He was walking around the room, looking at all of the equipment. He wanted to know what everything was for...what it did. They checked out the baby "giraffe" warming bed, where they would put Rhodes after his birth...and a bunch of other supplies and equipment in there. He walked over to the monitor by Holly's bed. He said, "does this thing get FACEBOOK?"

By this time, Clark had made it there from work. He and Logan one small room...with a ton of sensitive equipment...and a sister who was "incapacitated?" Well, it was the perfect storm. Plus, those two feed off of each other. At one point, Logan walked over to where the contractions were being printed out on a continuous roll of paper. He pulled out part of the paper to look at it, and goes, "Is this your receipt? GOOD LORD, what did you buy?"

And we all busted out laughing.

But the funniest thing was when Morgan asked Holly, "this might be a dumb question, but I've always wondered...when they check to see how far you're dilated, do they actually measure it...or do they just 'eye-ball" it?'"

I seriously almost lost it.

Because she was so innocent and sweet about it, and she didn't know. And how would you know, if you don't ask or read about it?

I tried not to fall on the floor laughing, because I didn't want her to feel bad...but it was seriously the best thing EVER.

And, of course, I can't forget about the Subway man. About 8 p.m., the baby STILL wasn't born...Jim and the kids decided to head down to the Subway that is located on the bottom floor of the hospital. They were going to bring the food up to the waiting room. They offered to get something for Aaron's parents, but they said they weren't hungry. Well, about 10 minutes went by, and they decided that they'd better Aaron's dad went down to the Subway, too.

Aaron's dad was wearing a plaid shirt. In his front shirt pocket, he had a a Ziploc bag. When he went down to the Subway to place his order, the Subway man asked, "you got weed in that bag?"


Aaron's Dad showed us what was in the bag. At the moment, I can't remember what it was...but I can most certainly tell you that it was NOT weed!

Gotta love people.

"A joyful heart is good medicine..." Proverbs 17:22

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Camp Barnabas 2016: Bad People Skills

So there was a boy in Joshua's cabin this year...and yes, they are not "boys." They are MEN. I know this.

So there was a boy in Joshua's cabin named Matt P.

Matt P. has been in Joshua's cabin before...and I've written about him before. Unfortunately, I can't find that exact post at the moment...but it's from several years ago. Matt P. likes to jump up from his seat, before every meal, run up to the stage...and lead everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance.

And then he follows that with a rousing rendition of "How Great Thou Art."


For the 12 years Joshua has been coming to this camp.

And, to quote Joshua: "I love Jesus, and my country...but I just want to eat."

Every camper at Camp Barnabas has a "helper." They used to be called, "Christ in Action," or "Christians in Action," I can't remember. "CIAs" for short. Now they are called "missionaries."

Each missionary is responsible for his/her camper for 23/24 hours a day. The missionaries typically get an hour to themselves each day, but the rest of the time? They are to eat, sleep, work, play, help, support, and encourage their camper.

In the 12 years Joshua has gone to Camp Barnabas, he's had really great helpers. Really great. They've all been younger than him...but all really awesome kids. Once or twice, he's had a female helper, and even that worked out okay. Female helpers are not allowed to sleep in the cabin with the guys, obviously, but Joshua is so low-maintenance, that is not even a big deal. Each cabin also has a "staffer" person in well as a Cabin Dad (or Mom, for the girls). Camp Barnabas provides lots of help and support for all of the campers.

But sometimes, I guess, like in can have a helper-camper team that doesn't work. Maybe the helper signed up with a church group because everyone else was doing it...or they had good intentions, but no clue what all was involved with special needs...or they had a boyfriend/girlfriend who was going, and signed up...or they were pressured by their parents to go and volunteer at the camp. I don't know. Those are just my thoughts. It could be that the camper assigned to them just rubs them all the wrong ways, AND VICE-VERSA...and neither one can get past it.

This is where maturity, on the part of the helper, is a must.

Because being a "missionary" at Camp Barnabas involves laying your life down for someone else...over and over and over again. For the duration of the camp.

Apparently Matt P. and his helper did not get along from the get-go. I don't know what the problem was...I just know there was a problem. And my only reference is from what Joshua said.

There's this old tree-house on the Camp property. Actually, I don't know if it's old or not. We saw it when we were in the long line of cars in the field...on the first day. Joshua said they went to the tree-house, and were "playing a game he didn't understand." But, as they were ready to head back, Matt P. said he wanted to go down the slide at the tree-house. Joshua said the slide was covered in moss and dirt...and Matt P's helper said, "no."

There could've been more reasons than the moss and dirt...I don't know. Could be that it was unsafe. Could be that Matt P. had been acting out or not following directions, and his helper saw the slide as a "reward," so he said, "no." I don't know.

But it flew all over Matt P.

And, Joshua said he didn't hear the words that were said by Matt P. OR his helper. All he knew was that, in a split second, Matt P. had hauled off and punched his helper...right in the eye.

And then, on the way to the nurse to get an ice-pack, there were more words...and, according to Joshua, Matt P. "clocked him again."

Listen, I know this isn't funny...but I could not stop laughing.

I tried to hold it in. I mean, I was driving and all. And, maybe I was just really tired. I had gotten up at 4:30 a.m., after a fitful night's sleep...but this whole story just hit me funny, and I started laughing. And I laughed and I laughed and I laughed. I had tears rolling down my face. I thought I was going to have to pull off the road for a minute.

Because, in my world, when someone has a child with Down Syndrome...or when people find out we of the most common things that is said, is: "oh, they're sooooooooo loving."

So the thought that this sweet and loving individual, who has Down Syndrome...hauled off and "clocked" the person that was supposed to be helping so completely opposite of what everyone, everywhere, would think.

Side note: I did not know Joshua knew the word, "clocked," or that he could use it correctly. So there's that.

I did recover myself, and told Joshua that it is never, EVER okay to solve problems with violence...and that if Matt P. had a problem with his helper, he should've gone to the Camp Dad. Joshua agreed.

Which, it's easy for me to say what should've been done, because I'm speaking with Joshua as my reference point...and I know that he's been taught to go to someone with his concerns or questions. Not saying he WOULD go to the proper person, just that he has the communication skills he needs, if he did.

From what Joshua said about the situation, Matt P's helper was just as much at fault...and Matt P was given a new helper. I don't ever remember this happening before, at least not in Joshua's cabin.

I asked Joshua what he thought about the whole situation. I said, "WHAT in the world happened with Matt make him hit his helper?"

Joshua's response? "Bad people skills."

"...Those who love God must also love their fellow believers." 1 John 4:21

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Rhodes: One Week (BEST DAY EVER)

So, on Friday, Aaron-the-son-in-law went back to work. He had been off work since last Friday, when Holly went into labor...the day Rhodes was born.

I don't think Holly was looking forward to him going back to work, and I don't blame her. But we live just around the corner, and I had planned on spending the day at her house.

In fact, I think my EXACT WORDS were that I would be watching from around the corner, and as soon as I saw his Jeep head down the street, I would be turning onto their road...and pulling up in their driveway. Ha!

But she called, and said that Aaron was going to drop her and Rhodie off at our house! And I may or may not have done the happy dance.

I was sad for Aaron, but I think he was anxious to get back to work. After we got settled, she told me I could hold Rhodie...and I told her to take a rest if she could. She slept for 2 hours, and it was glorious for me for her, because she needs the rest so badly.

My goal for the day was to do whatever I could that would help her rest. She's got all of those new mommy feelings. At night, when the room is dark, and she can't see his chest rise and fall, she worries. I don't blame her. I want to tell her to let it go...that we can't stay awake 24/7 for the rest of their lives...and that we can only do so much, and then we have to trust God.

I believe all of that, but I've been in her shoes, four different times. And I know how hard it is.

So we hung out here all day. All morning, I sent pictures to Jim, of me holding Rhodie on my chest. He texted, "I'll be there after lunch...I can't wait to see him." I texted back, "NO. ALL MINE." Because I'm mature like that.

True to his word, he was home right after lunch. I heard him coming in the door, and hid Rhodie under a blanket. Jim wasn't fooled. He said, "let me wash my hands...and then GIMMEE."

Next to arrive was Clark. He'd had a long, hard, hot day at the sun...with a bunch of kids with special needs. But his face LIT UP when he walked in the door and saw Rhodes.

We decided to order Chinese food for dinner. Aaron made it here, just as Rhodie was having his nightly fussy time. Holly is trying to nurse him every 3 hours, and so Aaron was trying to keep him occupied and distracted until it was "time." Rhodie was NOT HAVING IT. He was MAD...and he was hungry. Or, he thought he was.

At some point, I started singing, "You'll Be In My Heart," (the song from Lion King)...and Holly started crying. She said, "MOM. STAHHHHHP."

Meanwhile, Rhodie was still fussy.

Joshua said, "Aaron, I think he's mad that you went to work."
Aaron: "Well, I think he understands that I have to make a living."
Joshua: "I don't know."
Aaron: "I have to start saving for him to go to Kanakuk...he can go there when he's 5 or 6 years old."

**Holly started crying.**

Aaron: "And, not only that...but I have to start saving for his college fund...for him to go to OBU."

**And Holly started crying AGAIN.**

Joshua stared right at Aaron, and Downsy man-child said, "Don't blink, Aaron, or it might be like in that Kenny Chesney's song, where Rhodie is 25 years old, and marrying his high-school sweetheart..."

**And Holly started crying.

And I may or may not have gotten all up in my feels.


So, Rhodes is 1 week old today. His favorite things are: his mommy, his thumb, and making poopie diapers.

We already can't imagine our lives without him. He's what we have all been waiting for...and we didn't even know it! He was definitely worth the wait! Seeing Holly as a mother is amazing. I can't even put it into words. SIDE NOTE: She wrote a labor/delivery post over on her blog, 'Tis The Season (to be Holly), and I'm sure it's great and all...but I only made it through the first half before I decided that I just couldn't read all of that right now.

She's a great little Mommy. One week in, and she is getting to know what Rhodes he likes to sleep, how he likes to eat, how he likes to be swaddled. "They" say a baby changes everything, and it's true. I love how motherhood is changing her.

And seeing her brothers as uncles? It is so sweet. They are over the moon with him. 

We had the best day with Rhodie. :)

 "I will lie down and sleep peacefully, for You, Lord, make me safe and secure." Psalm 4:8

Friday, June 24, 2016

No A/C At Holly's House Means Baby Time For Me!

We had a great Wednesday. Joshua's Therapeutic Recreation Summer Camp group meets 3 days a week. Typically, he rides in, and rides home, with Clark. But today, I had lunch plans with my friend, Amy G., so I took Joshua into Little Rock, and then hung around town until he was done with his activities for the day.

Last night, Holly texted to say they thought their air-conditioner in their new house wasn't working. I told her to have Aaron-the-son-in-law call someone first thing in the morning. I told her that I would be gone most of the day, but that they were welcome here ANYtime...whether we are home or not.

I mean, they know that.

But they didn't want to be a bother...AND, they are slowly realizing what it means to "travel with a baby," even if that trip is only 2 blocks long.

I had a great lunch with my friend. We haven't gotten together in about a month, so it was great to visit and catch-up.

And laugh. Laughing is about my most favorite thing to do.

We ate at La Madeleine, which is new to the Little Rock area. The waitress told us "bon appetit" when she delivered our food, which made us feel all fancy and everything...even tho the restaurant is most definitely NOT fancy.

And then I got a text from Holly saying that they had been trying to tough it out at their house, but it was 84 degrees inside, and it was only they were coming over.

Aaron had called an a/c company first thing in the morning, and they said they could get to their house on Monday.


Ummm...NO. It's Wednesday.

Then, he called another company, and they said they could come on Friday. Aaron said, "Okay, thank you. I'll have to call someone else...I have a 5 day old baby here." They told him they would work them in on Wednesday they had hope things would be fixed sooner, rather than later.

Right after they got to our house, the a/c person called to say that they had time to run by RIGHT THEN. Aaron jumped in the car, and went back to their house. Fortunately, their unit was able to be repaired for a relatively small amount amount of money.

Which, "small amount of money" is relative...I get this. I'm just saying that our first summer in our house here...our air went out, and we ended up having to spend $9k for a new unit. So anything less than that amount is a WIN, in my opinion.

I picked up Joshua from TR, and all the way home, all I could think of was the fact that my baby baby Rhodes was AT MY HOUSE.

I just want to sit in the corner and hold him all that too much to ask?

I was so happy to get home. They ended up having dinner, and staying for a long time. When they finally went back to their home, she texted this: "house is 75 degrees, and it feels amazing."

I'm really sad their a/c went out. I'm sad that they had to pay a chunk of money to get it fixed. But I am NOT sad that they got to hang out here with us. It was AWESOME! We all got some much needed, much wanted, snuggle time with our little guy. Clark came in from work hot and tired...but LIT UP when he walked in the door and saw Rhodie.

And Jim has been out-of-town for the past 2 days, and he could not WAIT to get home. He walked in, washed his hands, and said, "gimme." And I said, "no, all mine."

We love baby Rhodie!

"Our children will also serve Him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord." Psalm 22:30

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Baby Rhodie: The First Great Diaper Blow-Out

Baby Rhodie is doing GREAT! Really, he is.

We haven't seen him a lot, and it is KILLING me...but Aaron-the-son-in-law is off this week, and I feel like it's important for them to figure some things out as a family. Aaron can run the dishwasher and the washing machine and the vacuum just as easily as I can...and he can run out and grab any kind of food they are craving. He would probably welcome the opportunity to leave the house for a minute.

I have taken meals over, and items from the grocery. AND, I have offered to come over at any or night or hold, rock, or entertain the baby.

So takers...RATS.

But we have seen him every day, even if just for 30 minutes. Joshua and Clark are as smitten as we are...and Logan and Morgan would be here every night if they could.

The other night, we went over to visit with them. Rhodie was in his little swing. Holly was a little concerned, because he had not made a "big" diaper in nearly 24 hours, even tho he was eating consistently. I assured her that if he was hungry, he would be screaming his guts out...and not lying peacefully in his swing.

All of a sudden, we heard it. You moms know what I'm talking about: the sound that will bring moms running from the other side of the house: the sound of a "disturbance in the force."

Holly said, "I'll wait a second, to make sure he's done." Which, usually that is a good plan.

This day? NOTSOMUCH.

Because, when she went to pick him up, it was a mess...the swing, his clothes...and the floor, where she was standing. And then she walked through the living room, down the hall, and into the nursery...and his diaper "dripped" the whole way.

Um. Did I mention that they have WHITE CARPET in their new house?


Well, they do

So, Holly started cleaning up the baby, and Aaron and Clark started cleaning up the carpet. Because Holly and Aaron have only been married 5 years, they don't have any old "rags" to use for cleaning, so Aaron was using carpet cleaner...and a roll of paper towels. And some napkins.


And Joshua was acting super dramatic about all of he thought baby poo was going to some how fly across the room, and land on him. I cleaned the swing, and then started washing the swing cover, and the clothes.

After everything was all cleaned up, Holly swaddled the baby, and put him in Joshua's arms. Rhodes laid there as still as a mouse. I'm sure he was thinking, "ahhhhh...I feel SO much better!"

Holly started writing a funny Facebook update about the whole thing, and she got so tickled. She started laughing, which made her stomach/incision hurt even more...and tears were running down her face. We looked over at Aaron, and he had his cell-phone out, looking up "places to get hardwood floors." And then, he got up, walked over to the far side of the room, and began pacing off the square-footage of the room.

I haven't laughed that hard in a while!

Baby poo on the floor...just one of many "first" parenting moments for this young family. At least this was at home...just wait until it's on aisle 4 at Kroger! Talk about embarrassing!

Don't ask me how I know!

(Also, don't ask my why I'm now avoiding Hershey's syrup and dijon mustard like the PLAGUE)

"He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy." Job 8:21

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The "Family" Cradle

When I was having our kids, we had a "family" cradle. All 4 of our children used it.

They also used this family bassinet thing, that I didn't really want to use...but my sweet mother-in-law forced it on me fixed it up so pretty, that I had to.

AND, she tried to give it to Holly and Aaron-the-son-in-law, and Holly said...AND I QUOTE..."it would take a TEAM of Joanna Gaines' to make that thing useable."

But my mother-in-law said, "it's about the sentiment."

Ummm...yeah. But it's also about there's that.

Anyway, there was an issue with the "family" cradle...but, like I told Holly...they are only in it for a short, short time...AND she has a pack'n'play that she can move around from room-to-room, if she needs to. AND, if I am anywhere around, the child will never leave my she won't need a cradle, bassinet, play-pen, bouncy seat, etc.



But, last month, at our friend dinner...

Wait. Let me back up about 3 years.

My father-in-law had a bunch of old walnut wood in his shop. He had gotten it from a sawmill over 50 years ago...and had just been saving it for "something."

In the course of conversation one day, Jim mentioned that our friend, Billy, was wanting to make a cradle for his first grandchild. Billy and Sherri have been our friends for nearly 35 years. Their daughter, Blair, and our daughter, Holly, are friends. They went to the same college, were roommates, and in each others' weddings.

So, Jim's dad said to Jim, "well, I have that walnut up in my shop, and it would make a pretty cradle," and he offered it to Billy.

Billy said, "I'll tell you what...we can SHARE it. Blair can use it for her baby...and when Holly needs it, she can use it for hers."

Jim's Dad said, "alright...sounds good."

Fast forward a couple of years, and Blair was expecting her 2nd child just two months before Holly was due with Rhodes.

Using the cradle never even crossed my mind...because, of course, Blair would want it for her new baby...and she would still be using it, when Rhodie was born.

Okay...back up to the beginning of June. I wrote here about when we met for dinner to celebrate our friend, Judy's, last day of chemo.

After dinner, Billy and Sherri said they had a gift for our baby...and for us to come out to their car and get it.

So, we all walked out there, and gathered around their vehicle. Billy put his hand on the lift of the hatch and turned around to speak. He said, "3 years ago, Jim's Dad gave me some old walnut to use for a cradle...and I made a cradle for Blair. Well, I had JUST ENOUGH LEFT OVER to make ONE MORE CRADLE..." and he lifted the back of the trunk.

And I started bawling.

And Jim's eyes got all watery.

And Billy lifted a cradle out of the back of their car, and sat it down in front of us.

Our new "family" cradle.

When Jim asked him, he said it took him over 30 hours to complete. That's 30 hours after working a full-time job. 30 hours after working on his 100 year old house. 30 hours after working in the garden, and the yard. 30 hours away from his own family, and his own grandchildren, and his own hobbies. 30 hours that could've been spent a lot of other ways.

Selfless. Giving. Friendship.

There are people in this world who make it their job to make other people's lives harder. And there are people in this world who make it their job to make other people's lives...better. Happier.

Hope I can be one who makes someone else's life better. :)

"So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up." Galatians 6:9

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Friends Who Show Up

We spent hours in the waiting room on Friday night...waiting on news of our grandson's birth.

Holly had texted to tell us she was about to start pushing. Two hours later, we still had no baby, and no update. When she texted again, she said, "please pray that he will come out."

And, finally, this text: "headed to c-section."

My heart sank. Was there a problem with the baby? With Holly?

Through the windows in the doors, we saw them pushing her bed down the hall to the OR. As a Mom...watching your child being rushed to surgery, and not knowing why...was nerve-wracking.

Just then, I heard talking and laughter. I looked up to see some sweet friends walking through the waiting room doors. My first thought was, "OF COURSE they are here."

My mind instantly went to all the other times these same friends have walked through doors to support our family: when I went into premature labor with Clark, when Clark was born, his stay in the NICU, the surgery to remove his cancerous tumor, the times he had in-patient chemo, when my Mom died, when I've been in the hospital.

God always sends them at just the right times. 

They stayed for a couple of hours, at least...visiting with us, and keeping us distracted. They brought their 24 year old son with them, who grew up with Logan. I felt bad, after I realized that their son had made other plans for the night. His Dad said, "we just want to stay until we know everything is okay...and then we'll go." Their son said, "it's big deal."

And, true to their word, when the doctor came out, and told us "mom and baby are fine," our friends got up, gave hugs all around...and left.

We had a lot of friends and family members praying for us on Friday, and I'm not discounting that at all. The prayers of others have sustained and encouraged us in our lives on many, many occasions. Many times, they are what God used to hold us up.

But there's just something about a friend who takes time out of their day or night...and makes the effort to come to you, wherever you are. No parade, no sharing of their intentions on social media, no posting pictures of them standing in front of the waiting room doors, so that everyone knows they were fanfare. They just show up.

It's not always feasible, I know this...but it's such a blessing.

I want to be one of those friends who invests in the lives of others...who prays for them, encourages them, and, when I can, shows up for them.

"Carry one another's burdens..." Galatians 6:2

Monday, June 20, 2016

Joshua: He Calls Him Rhodie

So, not too long after Holly and Aaron found out they were having a BOY...they called us all together to announce his name. Holly had already told me that they would not be using any "family" names. She was afraid that if they used a name from our side of the family...Aaron-the-son-in-law's family would get their feelings hurt. I told her they should name him whatever they want...and then, whatever name they chose would instantly become a "family" name.

They told us his name would be Rhodes Everett.

They wanted to know if we liked it. I told her we did! She said, "good, because we love it, and that's all that matters!"

Joshua never said a word. Holly said, "maybe he doesn't like it."

I said, "he probably didn't hear you."

So Holly sat by Joshua, and asked him, "did you hear the baby's name?"
Joshua said, "yes."
She asked, "what do you think about it?"
Joshua: "pretty nice."
Holly: "what did I say was his name?"
Joshua: "ROSE."

We all cracked up.

Holly said, "no,'s RHODES. Can you say RHODES?"
Joshua: "ROSE."

I said, "maybe if you write it down for him, and he can see how it's will make more sense to him," so she did. He looked at it for a long time, and then he said, " Rhode Island?"

We all yelled, "YES! LIKE RHODE ISLAND!"

Holly said, "Only instead of saying say, RHODES."


She said, "what's another name for a street?" He said, "uhh...ROAD?" She said, "Yes! Now what if there are TWO roads...what do you say?"

He said, "ROSE."

Thank you, Holly and Aaron. Of allllll the names in the world, you picked the ONE NAME Joshua can't pronounce.

Holly said, "Well, you can call him, Rhodie, if you want...Aaron sometimes calls him, Rhodie. Can you say that?"

Joshua grinned, and said: "RHODIE."

So...that's what Joshua is calling him, and I think it's precious.

Except that when he writes it on Facebook...he writes, "ROADIE." Which is still precious.

"I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and He has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” 1 Samuel 1: 27-28

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Rhodes Everett Is Here!

So, our baby was born on Friday night.

And by "our," I mean, our daughter and her husband's baby.

Toe-MAY-toe, toe-MAH-toe.

It was a long, long day...even for those of us who weren't trying to push a small human out of their body.

I texted Holly first thing in the morning, like I usually do, to ask how she was feeling. She said, ", not good."

I got up, and got ready. At 7:15, she texted, "DON'T FREAK OUT, but we are headed to the hospital to get checked out."

Freak out? MEEEEEEE?

She told us later, that she wasn't sure about the contractions she was having, so she decided to time them on this app she had on her phone. After a short time of monitoring her contractions, the advice of this app was, "call an ambulance," or "go to the hospital NOW."

Freak out? MEEEEEE?

One they got to the hospital, it seemed like a long time before we heard from her. Granted, the hospital is 40 minutes away...and there's parking...walking...getting assessed. BUT STILL. She finally texted that they had put her on a monitor, and were watching her contractions. She told me not to come up there right now, or call anyone, because she didn't know if they would be staying...or sent home.

They checked her, and she was dilated to 4 cm. They started an IV...I said, "so they are gonna keep you?" She said, "not sure." And she said something about anesthesia coming by to get her to sign consent forms...just in case. But for us to not come up there right now.

Mmmmm...mmmm...they aren't sending her home.

She texted to say they had started epidural...but not to come up there yet.

Is there a worse thing to be told?

Yes, yes there is. I've heard some of them: "Your child has a disability." "He has a heart condition." "Your mother went to be with Jesus." "Your child has cancer."

Yep...there are worse things. BUT I'M JUST SAYIN'.

We waited...and waited...and waited. Which, typing it all out NOW, I realize it was only about 4 hours, BUT STILL.

Finally, she told us we could come up there "if we wanted to." Jim said he thought he might mow the yard first. I thought we were gonna have to have a "come to Jesus" meeting, but he came out of our bedroom, showered and ready. We decided to grab lunch, and then head down to LR to the hospital. While we were sitting at Chick, Holly texted to say, "y'all can come now," which I took to mean..."it's getting might miss it...get down here NOW."

We got down there, and she was dilated to 8. In a couple of hours, she was at almost 9...and that's where she stayed. They decided to break her water, and we went out to the waiting room. And that's where we stayed for HOURS, with very little updates.

She texted to tell us she was starting to push. Two hours later, still no baby. I was getting worried.

And, I just want to lay this out there. I have 3 sons...and I love my son-in-law...but there is a difference when your DAUGHTER is the one having a baby. A 'UUUUUGE difference.

Because, here's the thing: barring some freak accident, or a sudden heart-attack in the labor/operating son-in-law was going to walk through those waiting-room doors, very much alive and well. I did not have the same assurance with my daughter, or her unborn baby.

So I didn't want to hear how nervous Aaron might or might not be...ya know?

I sat there, praying. Jim brought me a Subway sandwich for dinner...I couldn't eat. At one point, we looked up to see some long-time friends walking through the door. They knew we were there, and they just wanted to come sit with they had done so many times before. During my week-long labor with Clark...his birth...his cancer diagnosis...his surgery...even some of my subsequent surgeries...they were there.

Consistent. Faithful.

God sent them to us at just the exact right time. Holly finally sent a text that said, "going for c-section." It was about 8:45. We figured the baby would be born around 9. We knew we wouldn't get to see Holly right after, but we thought we might get to see Aaron...and hear an update...or maybe see the baby in the nursery.


We waited and waited and waited.

Joshua was beside himself with worry. He never cries, but he grabbed me and held onto me...and tears were rolling out of his eyes. He said, "I'm so worried about Goupie."

Side note: He has called Holly "Goup," or "Goupie" for as long as we can remember. We don't know where it came from, or what it means.

Finally, the doctor came out. She said all she could tell us was that Mom and baby were fine...that the baby was a "big, ol' boy," and that Holly and Aaron were tickled to death with him.

I could write forever and a day about his birth story, but maybe Holly will write it on her blog...and I can just link it here.

We finally got to see all 3 of them at 1 a.m. Holly looked great...Aaron looked excited and relieved...and the baby? Y'all, he is beautiful.

No, really.


I'm not just saying that. You can look on my Facebook and IG (martythemoose) and see for yourself.

He was born at 8:48 p.m. It was nearly 8:45, when we saw them rolling Holly down to the OR. Which means, that baby was OUT OF THERE in a matter of minutes. Single digits minutes.

When they pulled him out, the doctor and the nurses said there was NO WAY Holly could've delivered him on her own. His head was too big for the bone structure of her body.

I am so thankful for medical technology. Even tho Holly was adamant about NOT wanting a c-section, she had to have one. I am thankful for the option of surgery...for the wisdom and discernment of her doctor...for a swift and safe delivery...and that she and baby Rhodie were held in the mighty hands of God.

"You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." Psalm 139:16

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Our Baby Is Here!

Our [grand] baby is here!

He's real, and he's spec-TAC-ular.

"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." Psalm 126:3

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Camp: Hot OJ and Barbarians

Here's the post from yesterday.

My favorite thing about picking up Joshua from Camp Barnabas, besides picking Joshua up from Camp Barnabas, is hearing ALL THE STORIES on the way home.

Although, by the end of our trip, I was wishing there was a way I could've taken off my ears, and set them on the console for a minute. Ha!

Because Joshua's way of updating me...whether it's Camp, or Therapeutic Recreation, or the night he spent at Grandma's minute-by-minute. He starts his re-cap from the time he is dropped off, and DON'T YOU DARE INTERRUPT HIM BY ASKING FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS.

There are no follow-up questions until he is completely through with his "report."

It will not deter will only frustrate him...and, in turn, it will frustrate YOU.

So, once we got in the car, he started..."well, after you left, we hanged around the cabin..."

HANGED AROUND THE CABIN. hahahahahaha...

He pulled out his notebook...the one he journals in. The one he brought with him to write down all God would teach him during these days at Camp.

He started reading...and it was like he was reading a menu. Instead of writing down new insights or things God was showing him...he had written down all of his MEALS. I was cracking UP. He kept asking me, "what's so funny?" but I couldn't tell him. It just reminded me so much of my Grandma Ellen, who, during breakfast, would say..."I know we aren't ready for lunch, but let's talk about lunch."

He typically rates his week at camp by how good the food was. This past week would get 4 out of 5 stars.

Why not 5 stars, you ask?

Because of the "hot OJ."

He said that every morning, they only had 2 choices of drink: water...or milk. My big guy likes Orange Juice with his breakfast. They typically have orange juice at camp, because, if not? I would've heard ALL about it by now.

But on the last morning, he was so excited. He said, "they had OJ!"

His joy was short-lived, tho. He said it was HOT.

Now, I don't know if they were having some sort of problem with the a/c or the refrigeration, or if my child is just being dramatic (surely NOT!). Maybe, since the guys eat their meals after the girls, the OJ had just been sitting out for a couple of hours or so...and it was warm.


Or, as people tend to say around here: IR-regardless...

Joshua thought it was HOT...and he went ON AND ON about the "hot OJ."

He said, "they wanted me to drink HOT OJ? What do they think I am...a BARBARIAN?"

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Camp Barnabas 2016: JUST ONE

Over the next few days, I'm gonna try to post the updates from Joshua's week at Camp Barnabas. Just know that they may be interrupted at any time by BABY NEWS

Each camper at Camp Barnabas has a helper...a "counselor." This year, they are called, "missionaries." The missionaries spend 23/24 hours per day with their camper.

Joshua's helper's name was Jared. When we first got there and were visiting, I asked him where he was from and all of that. I asked, "have you ever been to Camp Barnabas before?" He said, "no, ma'am...this is my first time!"

I could almost hear the eye-roll from Joshua, but he (thankfully) didn't say anything.

Jared asked Joshua, "so...have you been to Camp Barnabas before?" Joshua said, "uhhh...YES." And then, "FOR TWELVE YEARS, YOU DUMMY."

No, he didn't really add that last part, but he was thinking it...I'm just sure of it! Because, in his mind, he thinks he could probably run the place.

Camp Updates from 2014: here, here, here, here, here.

Camp Updates from 2015: here.

But Joshua and Jared got along great! Joshua thought Jared looked like Obi-Wan Kenobi, from Star Wars, so he decided to call him Obi Wan all week.

Some campers, like Joshua, are relatively low-maintenance. Other campers are more involved. If there are health issues, they have to watch for those. They have to remember medications (they don't give them, tho)...and then watch for reactions to it. They might have to help with feeding. They might have to help with bathroom issues, or change adult diapers. They might have to help them walk. They might have to push a wheelchair. They might have to help with bathing, dressing, or even holding a paintbrush. They might have to help with emotional issues, like if their camper was paranoid or homesick or afraid. They might have to clean up barf.

God bless our volunteers.

This year, the first thing the helpers tried to do was put a medication wristband on all the campers.

Silly, silly, Camp Barnabas people.

They obviously haven't heard about Joshua and the "wristband debacle" of 2014 (and 2015 and 2016).

Reminiscent of Joey Tribbiani's (from FRIENDS) "JOEY DOESN'T SHARE FOOD," there's "JOSHUA DOESN'T WEAR WRISTBANDS."

But they wanted all of the campers to wear these wristbands, so they would know who needed what meds...who had diabetes, seizures...stuff like that.

WELL. Joshua doesn't take any meds, at this point, but he is still required to wear the wristband.
But Joshua figured out the times when they checked them were at meal-time...and at the little stinker kept his wristband in his pocket until those times.

This year's theme for Camp was "Just One," with the Scripture from Deuteronomy 6:4-5. I asked Joshua what "Just One" meant, and he got out his Bible and read:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." 

Which, he pronounces "Israel," as "is-a-real" and it makes me smile every.single.time.

He told me that God is the only One we should worship...the only One we should love. "Just One."

"For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus." 1 Timothy 2:5

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Baby Update: 40 WEEKS

I posted this on Sunday, along with a picture, on my Facebook. I wanted to share it here...for my memories. Holly is 40 weeks today.

She's a daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, friend, nurse, wife...and MOM.

This is what 9 months pregnant looks like. 

She says she looks tired...I say, "you're growing a small human."

She says she looks huge...I say, "you are beautiful."

I love her so much...and I love the life she is carrying.

And that guy she's married to? He's aiiiight, too.

"For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made..." Psalm 139: 13-14a

Monday, June 13, 2016


Until we can read a list of victims and not think: "gay," "trans," "straight..." and instead think: "son," "daughter," "brother," "sister," "friend..." there is this sobering truth:

"If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn't love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God's secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn't love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would have gained nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Sunday, June 12, 2016

That Time I Jumped in The Pool to Save My Dog

I was all by myself today, so I puttered around the house until around 10...when I left to go run errands.

First stop was the gas station. I am picking up JAH-SHA-WAHHHHH from Camp Barnabas in the morning, and I wanted to have that all taken care of, since I have to leave at the crack-of-dawn.

Then, I went and picked up new bedding for Clark's room. I have just been feeling like he needs a change in there. His room has basically been the exact same since he started jr. high...and he's a college sophomore. I think it's time...don't you?

Next, I stopped by Sherwin-Williams for paint, for his walls...and lastly, I went to the grocery.

I thought I had left my ladder at Holly and Aaron-the-son-in-law's house, so I texted her to see if she would turn off her alarm, and let me go in and try to find it. She did...and it wasn't there. But what WAS there, was her little, furry, halfadog...staring up at me. I texted Holly to ask if I could bring him home with me for the afternoon...and she said, "yes," and you have never seen anything jump into a car so fast!

After I ate lunch, I started painting up in his room. I didn't get finished, but I am about half-way done with the first coat.

I had really planned on doing this while he was on his trip to Asia...but then Holly and Aaron bought a new house, and in my spare time, I helped them pack up stuff and move...and so I put Clark's room on the back-burner.

Depending on when Holly's baby decides to arrive, I might be able to get it all done before that! Because, I mean, after the baby is born...I'm pretty much not going to care about anything else for a WHILE. :)

After dinner, Marley wanted to go outside...and he was barking his little turkey head off out there. Jim has a built-up garden area on one side...and the dogs have been going nuts out there. I went out there to see what in the world was going on. I didn't get too close, in case it was a sneaky-snake...but I quickly realized whatever it is is UNDER the box.

I had told Aaron I would bring Marley home, and I could not get him to leave the garden. FINALLY, I got Maggie, our geriatric Black Lab, to follow me...and Marley followed, because he doesn't want to be left out of anything. Both dogs were hot messes...tongues hanging out, and nasty-dirty. Both dogs headed to the pool.

They aren't allowed in the pool, but they DRINK out of the pool.

I know.

It's crazy.

Actually, sometimes Marley will get in the pool IF Holly is in there swimming...and he will swim to her. But that's about all he will typically do.

Well, all of a sudden, Marley bailed off into the pool, and started swimming around. I walked to the stairs, and called for him to come that way...and he did. But then I heard a THUNK, and looked over...Maggie had fallen into the pool.

Actually, she started doing this last summer. On really hot days, she would walk over to the pool to get a drink, and then she would kind of roll her body into the pool, and look at Jim like, "uh-oh...look what I ACCIDENTALLY did." BECAUSE SHE KNOWS SHE'S NOT ALLOWED IN THE POOL. But this year, she isn't doing that. Her hip dysplasia is really bad that she can barely bend over to drink out of the water. It's so pitiful...but I don't know if she is "suffering" just yet. When she sees us, she wags her tail and seems happy. Seems wrong to "put her down" if she can still be happy.

Plus, I don't know what in the WORLD we are going to do with Joshua when that happens...because unless she dies in her sleep sometime soon, it's a decision that Jim will have to make...soon.

Anyway, Maggie got a drink, and then rolled herself into the pool...and then? Then she couldn't get out.

She tried to climb up the stairs, multiple times...but being that her front two legs are the only thing hoisting her body was fruitless. She flopped back down into the pool each time. And then she kind of started floating away from the pool...her two front legs paddling for all they were worth...and the bottom half of her body just laying there.

Broke my heart.

I knew if she floated to the deep end, it was going to be really hard, even impossible, for me to get her out. So I did the only thing I knew to do...

I jumped in.

Clothes, shoes, and all.

And I dragged out that 90 lb wet dog...all by myself.

Fortunately, I had thrown my phone to the grass just before I jumped.

I stood Maggie up beside me, and she promptly shook off every bit of water she had on her body...onto ME. And then limped off to her mat.

I'm so happy I was there to fish her out...but it makes me wonder...what if? Because I'm home a lot, but I'm not home ALL THE TIME.

I hate the thought that we won't have her much longer. She is such a great dog. She really the

"Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Genesis 1:28

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Friend Dinner: Judy's Last Chemo!

Last night, we met with one of our "friend groups" for dinner, to celebrate our friend, Judy's, last day of chemo.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of last year. She has had 8 rounds of chemo, and today was her last one! Hopefully, forever!

Unfortunately, she will also need radiation, but we hope and PRAY it will be all she needs to completely clear all of the cancer out of her system.

She has had the BEST attitude through all of it. Oh, she shared that she's had some "moments," but those were kept private. Publicly, she has been a light and an encouragement for many.

After our "friend dinner" last month, I started thinking of what we could do to celebrate this last day of chemo. I was thinking of how we could decorate Ken and Judy's house or that when they came home from her last treatment, she would be surprised and encouraged.

Well, not everyone can just take off work to go hang balloons or whatever, so it was decided that we would plan our regular monthly dinner...and then Ken would make up some excuse as to why they had to leave extra early...and then we would show up at their house and quickly decorate after they had left, and then all meet at the restaurant.

Everyone was on board with this idea, but two of the other wives totally took the ball and ran with it. Group text messages...which I normally think are of the devil, unless I am the one sending them...were blowing up my phone. There were plans for plants in decorative planters on either side of her door. There was talk of making and painting something for her door. There was talk of weighted bags lining the walk to their front door, with tissue paper, and brightly colored balloons, coming out of them.

Then there was the one text that asked about painting the pots to match the door hanger...and then worries that only one of the plants by the front door was blooming.

If they only knew that, in my mind, when I first had this idea, I was thinking of a sign for their front door made out of, YA KNOW, poster board. And maybe a banner made out of, YA KNOW, card stock from Hobby Lobby. And maybe some of those tissue pom things hanging down from their porch.

Classy, I know...but it's all I could think of.

And those were the ideas I had when I was thinking of the fact that Ken is a pastor, and how we didn't need for whatever we did to be tacky.

Clearly, decorating is not anywhere in my wheelhouse.

I have good ideas...but then NO IDEA of how to bring it all together.

So thankful for friends who do...and for the way we can all use our different gifts to accomplish some really cool things.

"A friend loves at all times..." Proverbs 17:17

Friday, June 10, 2016

He Controls Our Days

Holly had her doctor's appointment yesterday. She has been going every week, and every week the baby is good...but her body is not showing any signs that delivery is coming soon.

But she was optimistic yesterday, because you can tell by looking that the baby has "dropped."  She's also been having lots of contractions.

I told her I would drive her into Little Rock for her appointment, if if it would help her out. I mean, Clark is at work, and Joshua is at camp...what else do I have to do, right? Hahahahaha!

So, I picked her up at her house, and off we went. We got to the doctor a few minutes early. I dropped her at the door. Aaron-the-son-in-law was going to meet her there. She said that he would not be able to go to lunch with her, so I decided to just park there at the hospital. and wait in my car for her to be done. Last week, when I drove her to her appointment, I ran an errand real quick, and she was done before I was...and I had to hurry back.

I got parked, and decided to check messages before diving into my new book.

What book, you ask?


It's Sophie Hudson's new book, "Giddy-Up, Eunice!" I am so excited to read it.

I went to my Lifeway store to pick up the book on Tuesday. I hadn't pre-ordered it, so Tuesday was the first day it was going to be released in the stores! I just had a minute to run in, before I had to be somewhere.

Now, I know my way around my Lifeway store. I was confident I could find the book, if it was there. So, even tho 3 different Lifeway employees asked if they could help me, I declined. I got this. I rushed in and headed to the proper section. The book wasn't there. I headed to another possible section...wasn't there. I looked under all the "H" authors in ALL of the book sections in the store...TWICE. It wasn't there.

At this point, I was running out of time, so I did the walk of shame up to the register. The nice man asked me again, "may I help you?" And I said, "yes." I told him that I was looking for a book by Sophie Hudson. At first, he couldn't find any books by her in the store...and I KNEW that couldn't be right. I had bought her other two books there back when they came out. Those two books are awesome, by the way. HIGHLY recommend reading sweet and honest and funny.

But then he confessed that he had spelled her name, S-O-F-I-E.


All of a sudden he goes, "OH! It's right here! It's a new release, right?" Yes, yes it is.

They had it set up in it's own little section, right up front. In my defense, it was set up more toward the Bible Study/VBS supplies section...and not the book section.

I bought 4 copies!

I never got to crack open the book, because Holly called to say she was done! Poor Aaron missed the appointment completely, because they had called her back early.

She said that everything was still looking good with the baby...which is what we want. But the doctor kind of got Holly's hopes up that she would have the baby by next week. Holly said her doctor asked, "well, how would you feel about having a baby next week...say Wednesday or Thursday?" Holly's heart started racing. She said, "sure!"

The doctor sat down at her computer, and studied Holly's records. She said, "hmmm...I see that your original due date was about a week later than what we are going by now. PLEASE DON'T KILL ME, but I think we need to wait a little longer, and try to let him come on his own."

Which is what we all want...and what we are hoping and PRAYING will happen.

But you know how you feel when you get really excited about something, and, in the next instant...your hopes and plans are dashed?


I texted Jim to let him know the update, and he said, "Oh, well...maybe lunch will help."


MEN. They don't know women at all.

But then lunch really did help! :)

We are thankful for medical care. We are thankful for the close attention of her doctor. We are thankful that the baby is growing, and that he is safe and cozy in Holly's tummy. We are thankful for the knowledge that GOD controls our days. He knows when we will be born, and when we will die.

We are thankful for a God who comforts, sustains, and strengthens us in our times of weakness and uncertainty.

Oh, baby boy...when will you be born?

Whenever that is, we know that God has planned for and prepared that day.

"You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." Psalm 139:16

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Joshua at Camp 2016: The Quiet House

Our home is so quiet without Joshua.

He's not loud, by any means...but he has certain sounds that are unique to him. And I'm not just talking about his "mouth noises." I can tell almost everything he's doing, based solely on the sounds coming from upstairs. With Clark at work all day, and Joshua at camp...the upstairs is quiet.

And, I've unloaded the dishwasher TWICE so far. That's one of Joshua's chores, and he takes great pride in doing it.

Dinner last night was very quiet, because it was just Clark and me.

Speaking of dinner, you know how my husband is all weird about his eating? How he said "people shouldn't eat white potatoes," and how I said, "they are what sustains me." Sheesh.

Well, with all of the potatoes I all of the potatoes I used to make mashed potatoes for Holly, in her early months of pregnancy...we had a lot of peelings. And we don't throw any peelings in the trash. OH NOOOO! We (and by "we," I mean JIM) take he the peelings out to the garden for "compost." I like to pretend I know what that is, but I really don' makes the soil in the garden better. ANYWAY, some of the potatoes had "eyes" on them, apparently, and they GREW MORE POTATOES! And, the other day, Jim brought in our first "crop" of potatoes that were grown from the "eyes" in the peelings.

Last night, I washed, cut-up, and roasted those bad boys, and Clark and I had them with our dinner. I was filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment like I had never known before. I mean, here I was, eating food that was grown in our very own garden.

This is what Caroline Ingalls felt like, I'm sure of it.

Not that I really had any part in growing the potatoes...except for providing the peelings.

Sure miss my Joshua-man. I hope and PRAY that he is having a good time at Camp. While I miss him terribly, I am enjoying the break, for sure. I've had time to allow my mind to relax a bit...which is something I rarely get to do.

Relax and renew.

"He refreshes and restores my soul..." Psalm 23:3

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Camp Barnabas 2016: The Drop-Off

So, about Sunday.

We left our home at 10 a.m., to take Joshua up to Camp Barnabas in Missouri. It's about a 4 hour drive from here...a little less...but it ended up being 5 hours on the way up, because we stopped twice. But, before we had even gotten out-of-town, I happened to glance over my shoulder, and Joshua's head was RIGHT THERE.

Granted, he's hard-of-hearing. And, granted, it's harder to hear in the backseat. But, good heavens...SIT BACK.

So, I asked him if he wanted to watch a movie, and he said, "uhhh...maybe," and began to rummage around in his stuff. He passed a disc up to Clark, put his headphones on...and was a happy camper until we stopped for lunch.

He watched a Power Rangers movie. I don't know if it was really long, or if Joshua kept stopping and rewinding it at certain parts...but it pretty much lasted the whole trip.

Once we got to camp, they routed us through this huge field...which is something they haven't done in a WHILE. I kept the windows closed and the air on, because the field was full of those tall grassy weeds or whatever they are...and because ALLERGIES.

I happened to look back at Joshua, and he was sitting up in his seat like a bird...and he had put on his jacket. His gray, sweatpant-y jacket. And it was 80 degrees outside. I said, "Joshua, why don't you take off your jacket, and put it in your backpack? That way you don't have to carry it. It's hot out today."

Joshua said, "I don't want the bees to attack me because of this yellow shirt."


He said, "the bees might see my shirt, and think it's a flower...and attack me." I said, "I think you'll be okay." As he took off his jacket, he mumbled, "I don't know if there ARE bees in Missouri, maybe not, but I don't want to get STANG."

While we were in line, before the gate opened, I was keeping my eyes out for Jenni. Jenni is Joshua's girlfriend of 11-12 years. She goes to Camp Barnabas the same time as Joshua. I finally saw them drive by...they were way, WAYYYY behind us. BUT, when we got into the big field...the way they were having us go was kind of in a big loop, so I started looking for them again.

I FOUND THEM! They were right across the field from us. I could see Jenni in the window. I unrolled Joshua's window. I said, "there's Jenni! Wave at her!" Joshua shot his hand up for a millisecond, and then rolled his window up himself. Or, as they say around her, HIS OWN SELF.

How ROO.

Joshua and Jenni have an interesting relationship. They don't act like other "typical" couples. They will go to a gathering where they both are present, like on their Therapeutic Recreation days...and they might not even talk the whole time. But then they will walk out together and be all sweet...and then talk for an hour on the phone, once they get home.


About that time, Jenni's mom texted me to see where we were. I replied, "look across the field...we've been waving!"

Well, Jenni goes nuts waving when she sees us, and Joshua gives her a super cool "hey" type of wave...and tries to roll his window up again. But this ain't momma's first rodeo...and Momma has the "window lock" button on her side...and that little maneuver kind of freaked him out.

THAAAAAAAAT's right. You are not in control around here, son.

And then Clark made the mistake of saying, "hey, look! Jenni is wearing the same color shirt as you!" And Joshua said, "I'm putting my jacket back on."


See what I mean?


We could hear him muttering in the seat behind us. And, as he dramatically stuffed his jacket into his backpack, he mumbled, "I'm gonna look like the HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME with this jacket in my backpack."

And Clark and I LOST IT.


Because you just never know what goes through Joshua's mind, or what is going to come out of his mouth.

I can't even remember the last time we watched that movie. Maybe 15 years ago?

And then, as our car was winding through the field, getting closer and closer to the gate, Joshua asked, "uhhh hey, Clark, how do you say GATE in Chinese? La-GATE-o?"

And with that mic drop...I'm out.

"Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." Colossians 4:6

Monday, June 6, 2016

Joshua and the Mouth Noises

Traveling with Joshua is...interesting.

It's not just have to be prepared.

We have been so fortunate. We have raised 4 great travelers. Even when they were little, our kids did great on trips.

Generally speaking.

Now that cars are so fancy, it's made things really nice for traveling. We have a Honda Pilot, and it has a dvd player in it. I don't know if all Pilots have that feature, or if you have to order it. We typically buy used cars. Jim just went to the dealership one day, and said, "this is what I want...this is how much I am willing to spend." And there ya go.

If it's just the 3 of us, or if Clark is here, Joshua will ride in one of the middle seats. But if we have 5...he will head to the "way-back." He likes it back there. He travels everywhere with a backpack full of the things he needs to make himself comfortable: phone, ipad, notebook, pen, Bible, books, extra hankies, breath spray, chapstick, bug spray, glasses cleaner, sunscreen...and a cap.

Not even kidding.

But, once he gets everything all set up the way he wants it, he is SET.

Last weekend, Logan and Morgan were home on his break from grad school. He really wanted to go see my Dad. My Dad has Parkinson's. So last Saturday, we piled in my, Jim, Joshua, Logan, and Morgan...and headed up to Tulsa. We left early, because we planned to stop for breakfast at a Chick-Fil-A 45 minutes up the Interstate.

Joshua's favorite thing about any trip, especially any EARLY MORNING trip, is stopping for breakfast at Chick.

He loves him some Chick.

So, we got our food in the drive-thru, and everyone got settled...and then we were on our way.

Joshua makes some interesting noises with his mouth. He can't help it...he just does. Big, hairy tongue...little, tiny mouth.

Actually, "they" told us early on that his tongue was NOT over-sized...his mouth is smaller. And, that individuals with Down Syndrome typically have super-low muscle tone, which is what contributes to the tongue protrusion and speech/swallow difficulties noticed in many of our FRIENDS who have DS.

Joshua makes some chewing noises during his meals that makes this no-TV-during-dinner Mom...want to turn on a battle scene from Star Wars. It can kinda make us nuts during a quiet meal.

Jim and I have a running joke that we say. We'll look at each other, and say something like, "chicken and dressing...another thing that doesn't need to be chewed." Sometimes, when Joshua eats, it doesn't look like he chews at ALL. And then other things have to man-handled by his teeth and tongue...and that makes things interesting.

The worst are the smooth, creamy things: mashed potatoes, eggs, pudding,'s like, "mealk, mealk, mealk...gulp."

Holly has diagnosed herself as having "misophonia," which is where negative emotions, thoughts, and physical reactions are triggered by specific sounds." Specifically for her...for all of's chewing sounds. Gum-smacking, crunching chips, breathing, slurping, etc. They say it's not a "real" disorder, but there are memes about it, so that makes it official, right?

Like, "the way you're chewing makes me want to throw up for the rest of my life."

Or, "every sound that comes out of your mouth makes me want to high-five your face with an ironing board."

You know...sweet things like that.

Holly is fixin' to have a baby, so...this problem will probably rectify itself.

AFTER Joshua eats, he will (unconsciously) run his tongue around his mouth, over his teeth, like most of us typically do. You know, when we are trying to make sure we don't have any food in our teeth. Well, with Joshua's lizard tongue, and all of that would make the Pope gag.

I'm dramatizing things...a LITTLE. It doesn't typically bother me very much, because THIS IS MY LIFE. But with Logan in the middle seat, and Joshua sitting directly behind was the perfect storm. And Logan didn't say anything to Joshua. Like I said, Joshua is completely unaware of this...and he can't help most of it. You can't help how your body is physically made. You can change some things, and learn techniques to cope and manage...but you can't change bone structure and things like that.

But Logan leaned up to our seats and said, "what kind of unholy HELL have we unleashed in the backseat?" And Jim and I DIED laughing.

I said, "ask him if he wants to watch a movie. It helps." Logan asked him what movies he brought. Joshua said, "uhhh...Power Rangers, Star Wars, Frozen, Harry Potter..." Logan said, "MORGAN likes Frozen...let's watch that!" Joshua's face lit up! He said, "okay! We'll watch Frozen!" He loves Morgan so much...he would watch anything she liked!

We only have 2 sets of head-phones...the kind that came with our vehicle. And no one else had any extra ear-buds. But, Joshua refused to use the head-phones. He said he wanted Logan and Morgan to use them, and that he would "just watch" from the backseat.

Joshua still made the "mouth noises," but with their head-phones on, Logan and Morgan couldn't hear him...and we all made it to our destination AND BACK without incident!

"A person’s wisdom makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense." Proverbs 19:11