Tuesday, November 23, 2010


The holidays are upon us, ready or not. The little cowboys and I hightailed it out of the Big D and are spending the week in Houston with my parents. All we're missing is Hubby. He's working, but will join us for Thanksgiving later in the week.
To be honest, I've dreaded the thought of the holidays. The shopping, the cooking, the traveling, the decorating, the entertaining--it all seems so overwhelming. That is why this trip feels like an escape. There is no agenda except to enjoy just being.
Yesterday I spent the day with my boys. I was purposeful about being with them, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. I really wanted to listen to what they had to say and be part of their experience--not just an observer. We played at the park, where we fed some ducks and rescued a turtle. I let them choose where we ate lunch (Burger King--ack!), and then we did some shopping at the dollar store. We walked the mall and had some ice cream in the food court. We rode the escalators just for the fun of it, and enjoyed the massage chairs in Macy's. We finished the day by playing in the playscape at Nana's church. We were hot and tired, but oh, so happy.
It's been a long time since I had a day like that with all three of my sons. There were no distractions, no places to be, no obligations. Just us. I am glad to be away. And I am so glad I got the reminder that there is so much to be thankful for this week: I am doing exactly what I want to do, and there could not be three more wonderful people for me to do it with.
P.S. I took great pictures yesterday. They would look super filling up this space. Unfortunately, Little Middle dropped my camera on the tile floor last night and now all I have is a flashing message that says "Lens Error: 211." Hubby, do you think you can fix it? Please?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Dear Baby,
You are five today! Although I am excited for you, this birthday has been bittersweet for me. Turning five is a big deal, because now you are really a big boy. Any traces of that beautiful baby with the perfectly round head have been replaced by a high-energy, fun-loving, super-funny boy.
Eight days ago, you lost your first tooth. You had made no mention of it being loose, so I sure was surprised when I picked you up from your class at church and your teachers handed me a tiny package containing what I'm certain is The World's Smallest Tooth! You were pretty proud of yourself, and you were thrilled with the dollar bill the Tooth Fairy left under your pillow. You won't know until you read this letter someday that as she flew by my bedroom on her way to yours, the Tooth Fairy probably heard me crying over that tiny tooth.
You also won't know that I cried very early this morning while I was making monkey bread for your birthday breakfast. (You broke the family birthday muffin tradition this year. Someday you'll need to tell Nana that you're sorry.) I cried tears of sorrow, because the more you grow up, the more independent you are...and the less you need me. I cried tears of joy, simply because that's what you bring to my life and to our family.
Without a doubt, this year has been the hardest one of my life. Cancer reared its ugly head again, and I have spent the last nine months undergoing treatments. It has been horrible for all of us. How I pray you don't remember it when you grow up! God has given me amazing friends, but there have been days when no words from them could cheer or encourage me. On those days, there was you. You might rush in for a quick kiss and be gone, or you might climb in bed and snuggle for a while. Either way, no words were needed. I have found tremendous comfort and peace just by being with you.
You never seem to be upset at being left while I go to the doctor, nor do you ask too many questions. You are just content to be, and you act as if whatever I say is perfectly fine with you, thank you very much. I will never, ever forget the day I told you and your brother that I would lose my hair during chemotherapy. He was worried and tearful, but you simply put your hand on your little hip and said, "Little Middle, it is going to be OK, because God will take care of Mommy." Such wisdom for such a little guy!
Of course, it isn't all gloom and doom around here. No, not while you're around! Case in point: After church last week, I was explaining to Little Middle something from his Sunday School lesson. I ended my explanation by telling him, "Everything we have comes from God." You piped up from the backseat, "And Santa!"
One morning I asked you to get yourself dressed. You said, "Mommy, I have to wear pants, right?"
And one of my favorite Baby quotes: "I have three words to say! Can you get me some Cocoa Krispies with no milk?"
Gosh, you're funny.
I guess it's because you're my youngest that I feel the passage of time so acutely. I am torn; part of me can't wait to see what you're going to do and become, part of me wants to slow time way down so I can soak in every second of this season of your life, knowing that I will never experience it again. I want to remember how you love to drink with a crazy straw, but rarely want milk in your cereal...how you concentrate so hard when you play Angry Birds on Daddy's iPhone, and how you can beat levels he can't even get to...how your feelings get hurt when Goliath and Little Middle leave you out, but how it's easy to see how much you love them (and they love you). I never want to forget how adorable you look in your Wranglers and boots, how you laugh so hard you snort when I tickle you, and how you smile first thing when I wake you up in the mornings. I want to freeze the images I have in my head of you being the cutest ring bearer EVER in your aunt's and uncle's weddings this year, and how you barely managed to tolerate that little flower girl. I want to remember you building Legos with your brothers, playing Star Wars with your friends, demanding macaroni and cheese every Tuesday, the goofy faces you make every time you get your picture taken, and the way you say "I love you."
Baby, I know that every life is precious, but God sure had a special plan when He thought of you. He knew that I would need you just as much--or maybe more?--than you would need me. I am so thankful that I got to be your mommy! In five short years, you've given Daddy and me so much joy, and without even knowing it, you remind us that God is always in control of all things.
Yes, you're a big boy, well on your way to big things. But make no mistake: you'll always be my baby.
Happy Birthday, darling boy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Plan B

It's been a ho-hum sort of week--and it's only Tuesday. Some of my blah-ness comes from the fact that my eyelashes are falling out again. I've been watching them with suspicion for several days, but yesterday morning when I was putting on makeup I realized there weren't even enough there to justify mascara. I called my mom at 6:30 a.m. crying.

Now, I know that in the grand scheme of things, eyelashes don't matter. Hair won't get me to heaven. My husband won't judge the temperature of our relationship on whether or not I can flutter my eyelashes at him. The boys won't remember that Mommy's makeup looked different from other mommies. But to me, in the here and now, it matters. It suddenly seemed to matter even more after I questioned my chemo nurse about it, and she told me that there is a very real possibility that I could re-lose the hair on my head as well.

I recently read Plan B by Pete Wilson. A friend gave it to me and wrote inside the book that it was "a good read, probably one you could've written." BD, I'm sure you didn't mean for this book to tear me apart, but that's pretty much what happened. It's been a long time since a book has affected me to the degree that this one did. And I think it got to me because the premise of the whole book is this: What do you do when God doesn't show up for you in the way you thought He would? That question is one I've wrestled with for quite a while now.
I had lots of dreams and plans once upon a time. Those plans might have looked mundane and boring to some people, but for the most part, I've always known what I wanted from life. It was simple: I wanted to fall in love, get married, raise a family, and live happily ever after. Yes, I went to college, and yes, there are days that I think wistfully of that framed diploma gathering dust in a box in our garage. Some days I think I would rather run an office than a carpool, or I would like to make money instead of cookies. But my four guys remind me that I'm living my dream, and even on the hard days, I know I wouldn't trade it for anything.
In the summer of 2007, though, my little world came to a screeching halt with a cancer diagnosis. It had never occurred to me that I could become Wife and Mommy and then get sick. Since then, and especially this year, I have had to abandon my perfect Plan A for my life and accept Plan B. Plan B means that instead of giving my family homecooked meals every night, I am ordering more than my fair share of pizza. It means that some other kid's parent gets to share a new experience with my son because I can't go on his field trip. Plan B means that my Goliath frets like a little old man when he is away from me because he is fearful that something will happen and I won't come back. Under Plan B, my husband digs through a basket of wrinkled laundry to find clean clothes. I hate Plan B.
If I didn't feel like the cloud of cancer was hovering over me so closely, I might find it humorous that God allowed this to happen to me. Really, God? Me, of all people? The girl who despises change and upset in the order of things?
"Your dreams may not be happening, and things aren't turning out the way you expected, but that doesn't mean your life is spinning out of control. It just means you're not in control." (Wilson) Ouch. No doubt about it: I am definitely not in control here. I have spent much of the last 9 months asking God for a way out, begging Him for relief. I couldn't count the number of times I have said, "I just want my life back."
Ironic, huh? I have walked with Christ for most of my life, but when we came to this, THE thing, I misstepped. I allowed fear and anger and uncertainty to creep in too close, and I begged God to give me what wasn't mine to begin with. I gave my life to Him a long time ago. I promised my husband on our wedding day that I would do my best to love him in sickness and in health--why would I do less for my God?
This season of maintenance chemotherapy is hard. I fully expected that it would be much easier, both physically and emotionally, because--hey! I survived chemotherapy! The reality is far removed from my expectations. It still feels like chemo: I am tired, I'm taking LOTS of meds, I'm losing hair. The difference is that before, life was spinning around me, and now it is trying to sweep me along with it. A lot of days I feel like such a fake! On the outside, everything appears to be fine, but on the inside, I'm barely holding it together. What I know in my head doesn't match up with what I feel in my heart.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Andy Stanley: "Every day we have this choice to make. Am I going to define God by interpreting my circumstances or am I going to simply trust that God is who he says he is?"
My Plan B isn't at all what I expected, and certainly not what I wanted. But I think maybe I'm making it harder than it has to be by over-thinking. I might not ever know why God allowed this suffering. I'm not sure why it seems that He is silent at times when I need Him the most. Maybe it's time, though, for me to pull it together. "We're called to be faithful to God even when it seems he hasn't been faithful to us. We're called to love him even when we feel abandoned. We're called to look for him even in the midst of the darkness. We're called to worship him even though our tears." (Wilson)
When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenent, His blood, support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.
I choose to continue to look deeper and love more, trusting Him through my Plan B.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkins, Pajamas, Hunting, and Haunting

We wrapped up October in typical H family style: slightly chaotic and lots of fun!

The obligatory pumpkin patch picture.

The three cowboys were much happier standing in line for the hay ride with their friends.

I was blessed by some sweet friends with a surprise front porch makeover, complete with pumpkins and hand-painted sign. How I love those girls!
Every year, our preschool has Pajama Day at the end of October. In my humble, comfortable opinion, it is the best day of the year!

Mommy and Baby at Pajama Day.
Baby and Joe the Bear had matching Batman pjs!

Shannon (aka World's Greatest Co-Teacher) and me in our matching jammies.

Our monkey socks were super cute, don't you think?

The Strawberry teachers and our across-the-hall neighbors, Ms. Gloria and Ms. Renee.

Baby and Bransyn with their Frog teachers, Ms. Maureen and Ms. Michelle (plus Kendall).
Goliath got to participate in Youth Hunting weekend this year. He went out to the lease with his Papa, completely confident that he would be able to get a great buck within 2 days. I needn't have worried, because it took him less than 4 hours.

I'm not a hunter, but I sure am proud of him!
Goliath made it home from his hunting trip in just enough time to get dressed up for Halloween!

Little Middle/Iron Man and Baby/Darth Vader

Baby/Darth Vader, Goliath/Super Mario, and Little Middle/Iron Man on the way to trick-or-treat. I'm sure they really were smiling under those masks and mustache!

Trick-or-treating is more fun with friends!

My Baby isn't scared of anything.
Right after he grabbed a handful of candy, the real live person in the casket tried to grab him!

The loot, after careful negotiations and re-distribution.