Monday, March 25, 2013

Free Fallin'

Sitting around a bonfire over ten years ago with 15 other students from our apartments at BYU, Brian taught me how to play a song on his guitar.  We were in that super fun does-he-like-me phase (fun if you suspect the answer is yes, that is) and I was all too aware of our shoulders softly touching and the way his fingers almost touched mine, but not quite, as he showed me where to place them on the strings.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, my roommates sat across the large bonfire and watched us.  "Oh, look!" one of them said to the other in a dreamy tone, "they're having a moment."  It was true.  We were. 

Something about seeing this handsome boy work his fingers raw to get that D cord just right pulled my heart back to that moment.  I hope he has a girl, someday (in the far, far future (but not too far)), that feels the same way about him as I feel about his Daddy.

He was quite proud of his D-Cord Skills and was all too eager to show them to his sweet friend, Kaileigh.  (KAY-lee)

 "You have to push down H A R D," Carson explains.

If you don't know the context, he looks like he's seriously jamming below.  But really?  He's just showing how hard he can push the strings down. 

Maybe he pushed down slightly too hard.  "Oooo, ouch," he said.  Kaileigh ignored him and tried it out for herself.

"See these prints on my fingers?  That's how you know you're doing it right."

I totally have a crush on my six-year-old.

And, speaking of moments, I just about walked straight into the middle of this one:

Thankfully I stopped in time to snag this picture before the moment was gone.  Keep practicing, guys.  Soon enough that D cord won't stand a chance against you.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

In Other News

*Life looks so much better after a shower, a writing purge, a nap and some peanut butter popcorn.

I think I'm going to get that one stitched onto a pillow.  Now you can see in the pictures above that I did stop crying on that sad day my poor newborn was enduring his 30 hour fast.  And he has mostly recovered from the trauma of it... though he certainly wants to nurse quite a bit more frequently after than he ever did before.  I'm not sure whether to chalk it up to post traumatic stress or growth spurt, but either way I'm happy to sit on the couch all day and let him... and then give him a bottle after that if he's still looking around for food (probably due to my own post traumatic stress). Try to reteach those little brain connections that food is not a scarcity for our blessed life and that he can have as much of it as he needs.   *Phew* Let's hope we never have to do that again.

*Awesome things have been happening outside the hospital lately, too.

Even though it kind of seems to me like my life has been swallowed up in hospital halls and noises, I have pictures to prove that life has been happening outside the hospital, too.  And then I stop to think, really only 15 days have been spent inside the hospital over the past two and a half months, so... it makes sense to have other memories, right?  What is it with those hospital days and their insistence on swelling up in their spotlight to the point of blocking out all the other days?  Space hogs, I tell you.  Well, in an attempt to inflate those poor, crowded 'other days', I'll start giving them some attention and let you acknowledge their presence over the next few posts.  'Cause they need some acknowledgement.

*Miles looked at Timothy

 So, that was progress. 

*The other kids can't get enough of the little guy

McKenzie generally doesn't mind being put on Timothy duty... even when he's feeling a bit needy.  She especially likes it when he needs her after dinner, because then she is excused from helping out with the after-dinner chores.  Carson has mastered the Disappear-Into-The-Bathroom-For-Half-An-Hour trick during this time, and Miles is still a little too unhelpful to be helpful, so it's usually just Brian and me against the clutter storms from the day.  Which is really neither here nor there other than to say how rewarding it is to spend some time scrubbing dishes and then turn the corner to find a sweet snuggle going on.

He really likes this music, she said. 

She is one great little mama.  Until she deems him hungry, at which point she panics a little and questions my priorities when it takes me a few minutes to get there.  Even in this, I suppose Timothy's lucky to have such a good advocate.

And Carson's heart just bleeds love for Timothy.  Carson is a little more... bouncy... than his older sister, so he requires a bit more supervision while snuggling.  But even when supervised, he transports into his own little world with that baby.

One of my favorite moments of all time: Carson swaying from side-to-side singing Rock-A-Bye-Baby.

Such a sweetheart.

*North Carolina Weather has been... North Carolina Weather

From ice... sun... snow...

...I will most definitely miss these crazy weather months when we move.  I love preparing for the coming snow storms in 70 degree weather; and I love watching sheets of ice melt into puddles with the sun.  We love it all... but the snowmen sure don't last long.

*Carson lost a tooth

It was hanging on by a thread for a while... he insisted that I send no apples for lunch during that week. I told him I could just pop it out for him (actually, I told him that Daddy could just pop it out for him) but that was terrifying, so it didn't happen.  What did happen was a loud exclamation made by McKenzie from the kitchen island where the three kids were eating their breakfast.  "CARSON LOST HIS TOOTH!  CARSON'S TOOTH IS GONE!"  She's kind of a trickster, that Kenzie, so I didn't believe her at first.  "NO, REALLY!  IT'S GONE!"  Then, Carson turned his face towards me and his shy little smile confirmed the tale.  "Your tooth came out, buddy?!" I asked.  He nodded and Kenzie continued in her exclamation voice, "I SAID IT'S GONE!  LIKE, GONE, GONE!  WE CAN'T FIND IT!"  Further investigation led to more confusion.  Apparently, Carson had just noticed that it was gone, but he wasn't sure if it was gone when he'd woken up that morning or not.  I assumed that it had come out sometime during the night and that he had swallowed it in his sleep, but he seemed set on the hope that it had just fallen into his bowl of cereal and milk.  "Well," I cautioned, "make sure to chew slowly, and don't swallow until you're sure you've chewed through everything.  And, don't be sad if you don't find it in there... I'm sure the Tooth Fairy will come if you just leave a note explaining what happened."  Minutes later his hope became reality and he came proudly to show us his accomplishment. 

Well done, buddy... well done.

*Miles thinks he lost a tooth

But he didn't.

*Oldest two at a friends house, Miles watching an afternoon movie, Timothy sleeping...

Sounds like nap time for me!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Guess Who's Out of the ICU

Everyone!  The answer is everyone!  Our whole family!  No one is in the ICU! Seems a little odd to feel triumphant about that, but at the rate we're going we need to celebrate the small victories here.  Too bad I'm not in this photo so you can see that I'm not quite as scary-looking as I was yesterday.  I showered - that helped.  I slept - that helped too.  I took a walk and ate some popcorn and put on my Topsail Island T-shirt (which always makes me happy) and when I came back to the hospital this morning, Timothy had been fed and was resting peacefully in his bed - that helped the most.  Hooray!  And then, this afternoon, we were moved out of the ICU onto the floor where I have my own bed (no more sleeping in hospital chairs!) and Timothy has a little bassinet.

The kids came to say hi tonight and it was awesome.  McKenzie wasted no time in gathering Timothy into her arms.

She has been so worried about him.  Even before we went into the hospital, she was the one suggesting that we go.  I don't think he's breathing very well mom.  Mom, he's not moving very much...  we should have listened to her much earlier.

The boys wasted no time getting familiar with the moving bed.

Good thing they had so much fun because those beds have eaten up all of our Disney money.  (Who am I kidding?  We may still be able to find some somewhere... we will be living in Florida, after all!)

I'm not sure why this one was so terribly hard for me... Of course, it was a hard situation to begin with, but I think that maybe I'm still so raw emotionally from the last two months of 
along with all the other things that make life life 
issues that have been going on that I was just plain empty.  I just couldn't handle another difficult situation with grace.  So I didn't.  And... I think that's okay sometimes, too.  Really, I think I'm ready for a year-long vacation to the beach.  How about Miami?

I may feel like I've been dragged through an ocean of mud, but I'm standing on land again and washing the last of the mud chunks out of my hair.  Hopefully there is no more mud for a while... but if there is we'll just have to swim through that, too.

Timothy is very close to breathing only room air now.  And he just gave me a smile so big it made me laugh out loud.  What a great way to end the day.  Maybe we'll be able to go home tomorrow...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I almost didn't recognize myself this afternoon when I glanced in the mirror.  I was so shocked, in fact, at how disheveled and ragged I looked that I reached for the camera (because don't we all want a picture of ourselves looking disheveled and ragged?). Not moving a single hair on my head, I snapped a quick picture through the mirror and turned the viewfinder around to make sure that my face had made it into the shot (a problem I have sometimes).  That picture shocked me more than my original reflection had and I thought to myself, Wow... She looks just about how I feel.  Something about seeing my face in that frame sent fresh tears loose, and I took one more picture right in the heart of my truest emotion.  Turning the camera around again to check the shot, I stared into those eyes and thought, But... She looks exactly how I feel.

I. Am. Broken.

I have not slept for two nights, and my baby is in the pediatric intensive care unit, working for each breath.  He has an IV in his arm, boarded up to try to keep him from bending his elbow, leads on his chest, monitors taped to his hands and feet, a blood pressure cuff wrapped around his leg and an oxygen tube pouring air into his nose at a rate of 6 liters per minute ('he probably feels like he's stuck his head out the window' the nurse said) to try to force the oxygen deeper into his lungs. 

Watching him struggle to breathe has been painful and scary at times.  But he is stable enough and I have no fears about the eventual outcome of this situation.  We just have to wait until the virus runs its course and give him the IV's and oxygen he needs in the meantime.  The worst part for me?  As long as he is on such forceful oxygen, he is not allowed to eat.  Here at 11:00pm he's going on 30 hours since his last meal and he is so, so hungry.  I spent a large part of last night and today coaxing the binkie back into his mouth, rubbing his little head and rocking his body back and forth to try to soothe the hunger out of him.  But if ever you've tried to console your own hungry newborn, you know...

... you know that hungry sound they make when they're trying to pull anything from their binkie.
... you know that the first few hours are hard.  And that the next few hours are harder.  And that the next few hours are unbearable.  And that the next...
... you know how their eyes open and lock with yours while they continue to pull, pull, pull, and you watch their eyebrows furrow when there is nothing to swallow.  Please feed me.  Confusion.  I'm hungry.  Frustration. know that their cries get weaker and painfully pitiful as the hours wear on and on.  And on.
... and you know how to fix it.  You know what will make those cries stop.  You know what will help them fall asleep.  And you have it in your power to give it to them.  You know that your biggest job as a new mother has been to feed this precious child, but you have to force yourself to remember through those heart-wrenching cries that breathing is more important than eating. 
... so you put the binkie back in and can't even try to hide your tears from the nurse.

They are giving Timothy sugar water through his IV, so he is not dehydrated.  But they are slightly concerned about his nutrition since he is such a little guy and so attempted to place a feeding tube down his throat, past his stomach, and into his intestines.  Twice they tried, and twice they failed as the tube kept getting coiled up in his stomach.  They briefly talked about giving him tiny bits of milk through the tube and letting it empty into his stomach, but the whole reason he can't eat in the first place is for fear of spitting up (which babies do so frequently).  If he spit up while the oxygen was flowing forcefully through his airways, the chance of forcing some of that milk down into his airways is great... and ultimately deemed too risky, even with tiny bits of milk.  The only other option they were comfortable with was to wait.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait until he could be weaned off of the oxygen.

Brian came to the hospital this afternoon and, after seeing my disheveled, ragged face, sent me home with a bag of chocolates and an order to sleep. 

He took my place at the bedside and offered to stay the night.  You can't feed him anyway, Linds, he said.  Go home and play with the other kids.  Take a walk; it's a beautiful day.  Take a shower.  Sleep in our bed.  And try not to worry about Timothy.

Thank you, Brian.   You were right... it was a beautiful day, and after two days cooped up in a dark, windowless, cheerless ICU room, the sun felt like medicine to my soul.

And I have a feeling that things will look brighter after a night of sleep...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Newborn News

Four Weeks Old

*Welcome to you due-date, Little One!
Okay, technically, your due date was yesterday.  I had big plans to get this post up on your actual due-date (not that it really matters, but I thought it would be possible because it happened to fall on a Sunday... and surely I could find time on a Sunday to get a post up, right?).  But you had other plans.  Big plans.  Unhappy plans.  Plans of getting sick and being rushed to the emergency room as a bluish-grey lifeless little sweetheart, struggling to breathe.  But now I have some time... now I have time as I sit by your bed in the pediatric ICU in a yellow gown.  I'll admit that I've pulled the face mask down so my nose is free... I can't stand the wet, warm air that circulates inside of it when it's worn correctly.  It's there to protect me from whatever virus you may have... but I figure you and I have been so close that we've probably already shared it.  The gloves, too, are not being worn.  I tried typing with them, but it was frustratingly frustrating.

Your life is no longer in real danger.  Your skin is pink again and the oxygen tubes in your nose are giving a little extra punch to each shallow breath you take.  You are sick; there is no question about that as I listen to your rattly breaths, hear your tight coughs, feel your warm head, and wipe the mucus out from under your nose.  I could invest time in worrying... but the last two months seem to have depleted my stores of worry juice.  I'm just... numb.  Yesterday after Brian called from the ED with the news that you were, indeed, going to be admitted, I parked the car in the Hospital parking garage with no more emotion than I would had I been parking at the grocery store.  I simply nodded my head as they told me you were going to the pediatric ICU and will need to stay for an indefinite amount of time (but no less than 48 hours).  And now, I shrug my shoulders as I sit in this one-way air flow isolation room next to you, dressed and feeling like one of the characters in Monsters Inc. who deal with the contamination from small children.  Well, I think, this seems to fit about right with the way my life has gone lately.  But... I don't feel like thinking about this now (who am I and what have I done with myself?).  So let's, instead, focus on this first month of your sweet life and process this new, uncomfortable development a little later.  Deal?

*Pre-term babies sleep.  A lot.

Twelve Days Old

How lucky we've been to be able to cuddle your sweet little babyness for the last four weeks!  You had the right to stay inside and grow bigger in there, but I'm so glad you chose to come and grow bigger in my arms instead.  And, you've been so sleepy!  Newborns are always sleepy... but this was sleepy to a new level.  I can hold you, snuggle you, change you, burp you, lay you down, and you sleep.  Sleep through it all and sleep through it always.

Ten Days Old

It's been a mild fight to wake you up enough to eat consistently.  But, as much as I love the sleepiness (just because you're so snuggly when you're sleeping), I adore those eyes when they open wide.  I have yet to get a beautiful picture of those eyes (though I have plenty of snapshots of them!) because they don't stay out long - but we'll get there.

*Happy babies are the best

Four Weeks Old

We don't even have to work for your smiles.  You give them freely and often, and oh how we love them!  You are a sweetheart... mild mannered, calm, happy and patient.  Content to just be.

*But, sometimes happy babies don't like everything

Eight Days Old

 As was the case with your first bath.  Upon further experiences, we've decided that you just do. not. like. to. be. naked.

*But that didn't stop me from making you be naked for these...

Four Weeks Old

...even though you were very grumpy about it.  (Is that the most adorable grumpy face you've ever seen?!)

Four Weeks Old

You eventually fell asleep, but grunted and groaned the whole time.

Four Weeks Old

I told you that you're just going to have to get used to it.  Posing for pictures is the price you pay for being my cute son.

*You have upgraded from your laundry basket

Twelve Days Old

We haven't yet upgraded to an official crib... that will come after we move.  But a pack 'n' play is serving you quite nicely.  A home nurse came for a visit last week and we laughed together that you had been sleeping in a laundry basket for the first week of your life.  "Yep," she said, "I can tell this isn't your first child!"  Being a mom to my first child was amazing, wonderful, new, exciting; and being a mom to my fourth child is just. plain. fun.  Experience has taught me a little better about what things to worry about (babies turning greyish-blue and lifeless like you were yesterday, poor thing), and what not to worry about (sleeping in laundry baskets).  I feel so much more relaxed and calm than I ever have to a newborn in the past.  And I love it.  You are so beautiful - and I don't feel bad for one second just sitting down to hold you when my other jobs are not complete.  I'm finally starting to understand that the chores will never (ever) be done but that you, Timothy, will grow up way, way too fast.

*Babies have magical healing powers

At least, Timothy, you do.  Life has not really been easy around our house lately.  We've had heavy workloads and broken hearts (figuratively and physically).  Sicknesses, sadness and pain.  Hospitals and healing.  But it felt like you created this beautiful shield of protection when you were carried through our doors.  A protection made from the fibers of love and sweetness and utter dependence.  The first minute you were home, Daddy set you out on a blanket in the family room and he and I stood staring at you.  I choked up a bit and thought about how perfectly you fit... right there in that blanket, on that rug, in our house, as the newest part of our family.  And the following weeks proved that fit was even more perfect than I thought.  How is it that we can add a whole entire human being into our family and feel like the only change is that we're happier?  Kinder?  More loving towards each other and better?  You joined our family on the Lord's timeline (left entirely up to me you would have arrived a couple years down the road) and I can't help but wonder if the Lord knew I would need you now.  That I would need a giant dose of sweetness and love to heal me from the raw emotions the past couple of months have left me with.  And that you were the only one who could bring enough of it.

Please get better quickly, my dear.  I love you and I need you back in my arms and in our home to do what you do best...


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

All in

There is a home video clip, somewhere in my box of home video tapes, that was recorded over nine years ago.  It shows my brand new baby girl, McKenzie, snuggled tightly in Brian's arms and rocking back and forth in an old, hand-me-down rocking chair that matched all of our other furniture only in the way that they, too, were old hand-me-downs.  In the video, Brian and I laugh at the little squeaks that come from sleeping McKenzie each time the rocking chair changes directions. Back, *squeak*, forth, *squeak*, back, *squeak*, forth, *squeak*.  Rather recently, my eight year old McKenzie and I laughed at the cuteness of that little baby on the television screen... and then, rather suddenly, the milk I was drinking came perilously close to being sprayed across the room in a bout of laughter as the following conversation occurred through the speakers:

"Why don't you turn the camera around on to yourself?" Brian said in a joking tone.
"No!" I replied.
"Come on, Linds!"
"No way!" Then, obviously feeling the need to explain myself to any future viewers, I continued. "I just got out of the shower a few minutes ago and haven't blow-dried my hair yet." And the milk-spitting sentence, "I can't even find time to blow dry my hair anymore."

This was surprising and funny to me on a variety of levels.  First, that I used to actually blow dry my hair (I seriously just contemplated packing up my blow dryer last week with all the other things in the I-probably-won't-need-this-in-the-next-few-months-before-we-move category).  Second, that I cared about being seen if said activity had not been completed (if that were the case these days, no one would know I existed save for phone calls and email).  But mostly because I felt that I had no time to do something for myself when my husband was home, holding our only child, who was sleeping. Sweetheart, I thought in a rather condescending tone, why don't you go ahead and blow dry your hair when you're done with the camera.  

But, soon after my initial reaction, I started finding it easy to cut my 21 year old, brand new mom self a little slack.  And then a lot of slack.  To the point where I actually understood why she said she could not find time to blow dry her hair.  It wasn't about time in the sense of minutes and hours... not really, because she still had quite a bit of that to herself.  It was more about the concept of time.

Up to that point, my time had been strictly governed by myself.  Though I had external responsibilities that needed to happen at specific times (class, work, church, etc.), there were few (if any) surprises along the way.  I could sit down at the beginning of the week and, planning around those external responsibilities, decide what hour I would eat lunch that coming Friday... and what hour I would go to bed on Wednesday.  I was in complete control about whether or not I was late to class, or early to work.  I was in complete control about when I wanted to shower and I could decide to blow dry my hair before even leaving the bathroom if I wanted.  But a baby changed that.  All of the sudden things, such as time, were unpredictable.  I could plan to take a shower at a given time, sure, but if the baby was awake and fussy during that time then I would have to reschedule.  I could plan to blow dry my hair right after said shower, sure, but if Brian called me in to the living room to listen to the funny squeaking noises my baby was making, and if I found it cute enough to warrant pulling out the video camera, the blow drying would have to be rescheduled.  Eating lunch could not be set in stone, and even an intense spit-up or a major blow out on the way to church took being on time out of my hands. 

This was an adjustment for me and, in this way, having a dependent child altered my own independence.  When McKenzie was born, it felt like her independence was handed to me to take care of along with a responsibility to teach her about it over the years and, piece by piece, let her take it over.  But as long as her independence rests in my care, it mixes with mine... diluting my own independence, yes, but making me part of something bigger.

And so much better.

With the addition of each child, my independence has diluted even further, and the time I'm able to take for myself, time in the sense of minutes and hours, is shaved some more (to the point where, now that I'm a mother of four, I feel I really don't have any for myself (which is not entirely true because, here I am blogging (though, I am doing it one handed while nursing my sweet baby (yes, it's taking forever)))) and this change has always been an adjustment.  I wouldn't be truthful if I didn't admit that sometimes I want my own undiluted independence back... sometimes I'd like to eat breakfast first, or go to bed before everyone else is ready.  Sometimes I'd like to watch a show in the middle of the day, or type away in my journal or blog all through the dinner hours (and use two hands to do it).  But those desires have been weakening through the years and something is happening to my heart through it.  Joy is settling in.  A deep joy... a lasting joy... the kind of joy that is untouchable by outside sources.  I'm starting to feel that the deepest joy, for me (other than feeling loved and bonded to my husband), comes from this sort of self sacrifice for my kids.  From letting go of somewhat selfish desires and throwing my whole heart into caring for these beautiful babies of mine. 

From being All In.

This idea of being an All In Mother is not new to me... I've tried to be her for most of my mothering days, but I've been discouraged because she seemed so unattainable.  My efforts to reach her took so much energy and it felt like they yielded only varying degrees of failure... sprinkled with success.  The frustrating truth is that it has always been hard for me to feel fulfilled when the end of a day comes and I have nothing tangible to show for it.  The kids may be clean, fed and happy, but all I can usually see is the massive heap of dishes in the sink and the five dried Cheerios stuck to the counter from breakfast.  I've been the Mostly In Mother... and that has brought me incredible happiness; however, something is shifting.  The years of prayers regarding this subject are being answered and my attitude is finally changing from one of I'll help you quickly, but I need to get back to the laundry or the dishes or the sweeping and the mopping to one of Of course I'll help you or hold you or read to you or watch you patiently while you show me how you can put your shoes on your feet in nine minutes flat, and if I have any extra time I might see to those dishes...  I have always wished that this mind set had come naturally to me when I became a mother, but it did not.  I was expecting it to - I thought it was part of the whole 'mother's intuition' phrase that is actually a bit meaningless because nothing has been quite intuitive for me.  I've had to learn.  Learn it all.  From how to diaper a newborn (I forgot how strong their legs are and how easily their foot can end up in poop) to willingly sacrificing my own desires for them and to find real, lasting joy in that sacrifice.

I'm thinking that the reason that lasting joy was so hard for me to feel was because I was still subconsciously trying to hold on to 'my time'.  'My space.'  'My needs'.  It's true that when I'm focused on myself, I feel burdened by a sweet request for a glass of water and I don't have enough patience to stop what I'm doing to watch (for the hundredth time) the awesome way my boys can slide across the floor in their socks.  But, as I mentioned, something started shifting in me last week.

My Wednesday started early... 3:30am early... with my newborn baby.  With his tiny head cradled in my hands and his feet gently kicking my belly, he calmly looked up at me and played for a while.  His blinks were slow, but always opened back widely in the dim light.  He experimented with the tiny muscles under his eyebrows and lips and I noticed that he seemed to be bringing me into focus much better than he had been and that his eyes had mostly stopped crossing.  I talked to him for a long while and felt a little pang at how fast he was changing.  He stretched his neck out, tilted his head and his squishy lips contracted into a tiny O.  I smiled because I love those tiny O's.  I love you. so. much I breathed...

...and I felt eager and ready to give the rest of myself to that precious boy and my other beautiful children in a brand new way.

Later that morning I found it easy to crawl into the backseat of the van and talk my three year old through his tears about going into preschool.  His whole world has turned upside down with Timothy entering his home (just yesterday he asked me, "Mom, when is Timothy going to get gone?") and, though he's always loved preschool, he did not want to go.  My to-do list at home was 50 items long with things like Spray Paint Stools and Re-Caulk the Master Shower and Clean Out Fireplace.  I had been looking forward to those three hours that morning when Miles would be entertained at preschool... but, amazingly, I didn't worry about my to-do list for the entire twenty-five minutes I sat back there with him.  And when Timothy spit-up enough to warrant a bath when we got home, I didn't stress about that either while I gently sponged the warm water across his tiny body.  I didn't get one thing crossed off of my to-do list that morning while Miles was gone, but when he came home I still felt warm with fulfillment.

And the feeling has stuck!  Somehow.  The only explanation I can see is that the Lord must think it's finally time to answer that prayer.  For a whole week we've had so many wonderful experiences.  The things I used to feel burdened by are not burdensome anymore and my love for my children has, unbelievably, increased.

Anyway, I haven't finished processing these thoughts completely, and I do realize that there must be a balance in all things (uh, I do have to keep a house on the market) and that I need to take care of myself, too.  And I do believe that my kids will benefit from seeing me take time for myself occasionally... I've just been surprised by the level of happiness I've felt by saying yes as often as possible, by taking the time to get the band-aid on that tiny scratch now, or by sitting and talking with my three year old for 25 minutes of time that had been allotted to work.  By letting the dishes stay in the sink so I can give a bath to the baby and by holding and feeding that precious newborn through the still hours when everyone else sleeps.  By not being so concerned about the things on my list that are not getting done and by remembering that the things that are getting done are eternally important. By not wishing for my undiluted independence...

  ...but by embracing that vibrant, colorful mixture of Independence I have coming from myself, McKenzie, Carson, Miles and Timothy.  By loving that this mixture swirls around in my heart, guides my decisions, leads my schedule, and fills my minutes and hours and days and years with purpose and meaning.

And with so much joy and love.