Monday, November 21, 2011


I ripped the slider door off my minivan this morning coming out of the garage. Yup, ripped it right off, throwing the van door back into the garage where Jamie, Simon, and Clare were standing, shattering the back window, and showering Violet with glass. Our guardian angels were definitely watching out for us this morning because the huge, heavy door landed about a foot away from the kids, and Violet was scared, but unharmed. We were running late, I was fuming at the bickering kids who were all very unhelpful this morning in getting out of the house on time (Shawn being away on business), and I (obviously!) misjudged my clearance pulling out of the garage with the sliding door still open. It was not a pretty sight.

Almost four hours post-incident, I am still irked at myself that it happened at all. I am NOT that kind of person - distracted, irrational, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, making rash judgements. But I was that kind of person this morning, and now I have my mess to clean up for it. It really put my life at this moment in focus. We're in a crazy place right now with our life. (Wait, you have five kids - isn't it all crazy?) Actually, it's not always crazy. Like every family, we have our moments of chaos, meltdowns, temper tantrums, and toys everywhere. But we also have our structure, routine, priorities, and our focus on what's important. And that keeps us running smoothly. Usually.

We had a dishwasher leak eight weeks ago that led to a huge mold problem in our kitchen and basement. Since then, we've had remediation companies come in to clean the mold, our kitchen and half the basement playroom gutted, and now are on the tail end of everything being reconstructed. My kitchen is either packed away in boxes in the garage or in my dining room (which is where my stove, dishwasher, and fridge currently reside). We have nowhere to eat, I cannot access my mudroom or garage (which means dirty shoes in and out of the living room), and my house is filled with strangers making messes. When my house is in chaos, I am in chaos. I want things organized, in their place, and clean. And, right now, my house is anything but so I am anything but!

Add to that, I also feel as if we go through cycles when it comes to Clare and what's going on with her. Right now, there seems to be so much going on. We are dealing with issues with her kidneys, muscle pain in her legs and feet, exercises for her mouth because her tongue is weak, home stretching program, limiting certain items in her diet while adding increased fluids. And that doesn't even touch on what it takes to help her through her school assignments. In addition to the services she receives in school, she has three private therapies after school. So three days a week, I pick the kids up from school, and we all go to some sort of therapy and arrive home at dinnertime. Last year, Clare did her one private therapy in the early afternoon since she had morning kindergarten. I (naively) thought this year would be easier for so many reasons (two kids in full-day school, Simon in a preschool closer to home, two little ones that nap in the afternoon), but, in many ways, I feel as if we are on overload as a family. And I am at a loss what needs to be done about this. Clare needs her therapies. There are times when I wish we were doing more for her. As it is, there are so many different exercises, stretches, lessons I should be doing daily that sometimes don't get done. Where do we draw the line? I don't want to cut out things that she needs, but I have four other children and my sanity to think of. This morning's incident was a wake-up call that I am so much on overload most of the time, I am not making good decisions. I am not taking the time to process and think things through (such as let's pull out of the garage first with the sliding door open, then I will get Simon's car seat and put it in the car, then load up the kids). That didn't work out so well!

This morning's trauma also made me realize how blessed we are with such good friends. We do not live near any of our family, so I can't call my mom or sister to come help me out in a pinch. I have never been the type of person to have a wealth of friends (being slightly on the introverted side at times). There are limited amounts of people that I can ask for help. But, this morning, I saw that there is just enough. That God always provides. Simon, Clare, and Jamie each go to a different school, and three good friends were able to rearrange their schedules and put up with some inconvenience (like crying 2-year olds who didn't want to be in the car!) to pick up each of my children and bring them to and from school today. That made my day so much more manageable to deal with my mess with only the two little one who still nap.

As we approach Thanksgiving and enter the Advent season this weekend, my focus is on my family, preparing my heart for Jesus' birth, and the blessings in my life. I am going to try to let go of the craziness and busy-ness that has consumed me lately. Even though I do not have a kitchen, I do not have my car, and I have a lot on my mind when it comes to Clare, I want to focus on the three things that are truly important to our lives - faith, family, and friends. May this Advent season keep me in that spirit.

(So this is from Monday, but I couldn't get Blogger to publish until today!)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


A few weeks ago, the Wish Granters from Make-A-Wish came to our home to meet Clare and talk to her about making a wish.

Make-A-Wish is something I have thought about on and off for a couple years. I was unsure whether Clare even qualified for Make-A-Wish, but, if she did, I wondered whether that was something we should nominate her for. Part of me felt like this was not right for us because Clare does not have cancer (which is what I am sure most people associate Make-A-Wish with, as I did), she is currently stable heart-wise, and I just didn't want to "take advantage of the system." Then we heard about WS-friends of ours getting ready to have their wish fulfilled and others being nominated for Make-A-Wish. The little voice in my head would wonder again about it. Then her cardiologist told us that Clare needs another catheterization in the next few months. Then the nephrologist diagnosed her with calcifications in her kidneys and hypercalcemia, and we discussed other scary topics such as renal failure. And over the past several months, Clare has been suffering pain in her lower legs and feet. So we've been doing x-rays, visits with the orthopedic surgeon, private physical therapy, and fittings for foot orthotics. If any child deserves having a wish granted, I truly believe Clare is one of those children.

Clare was nominated, she met all the qualifications, and the Wish Granters paid us a visit. Clare was eager for their visit and knew immediately what her wish would be. Ahead of time, they informed us that they would need some back-up wishes in case they could not fulfill Clare's top wish, so we did talk to Clare about it.

Top three wishes:
1 - To meet a princess.
2 - To meet Jesus.
3 - To visit Planet Earth.

The Wish Granters assured us that they will be granting Wish #1! A trip to Disney for our entire family is now in the works. It was very important to Clare that she goes on her trip when she can go swimming, so we won't be going to Orlando until sometime next spring. But we're obviously all so excited. For a couple years now, Shawn and I have wanted to take Clare to Disney to see a "real" princess (and give that experience to all our children), but we just have not been able to do it financially. It is still surreal that we will actually be going and seeing our princess' wish fulfilled.