Full of Boys

Finding the adventure in the blues, greens and grays of life!

Learning from Friends (part 5 of 5) May 13, 2011

Filed under: Friends,mom — fullofboys @ 8:17 am
Tags: ,

Today is a little different because I am going to talk about 4 women who have been an amazing blessing to me as a mother. These ladies are my closest friends & the girls I know will be in my life 20 years later.

I talked yesterday about Mom Paine & I could not write about women who inspire me as a mother & not include her daughter, Christy. When I met Christy we were 5. We played outside all the time. I never imagined this person to be someone who would walk all of life with me but she has. She was the first person I ever told that I thought I was going to marry Heath & she was there when I said those vows in front of everyone. We have laughed a lot & cried lots of tears too. She has shown me that miles do not make a difference. We live at least a day’s drive away from each other. Yet, we make time to catch up on the phone almost weekly. On those phone calls we have cried together. We have laughed. We have prayed. In those conversations, there are no miles separating us. Through it all, she constantly teaches me the value of friendship! She has taught me that it is important to keep things open & honest & that motherhood is a journey that can be shared no matter the distance.

As a new mom, I was pretty nervous. Then, when I was pregnant for the 2nd time, we moved. As I moved away from my comfort zone & friends I was again nervous. But then I met, Leslie. I think the first time I met her I was sitting on a couch in a mom’s bible study & Joel threw up from a bottle he had just had. I was embarrassed. She remembers it & thought I was so calm the way I handled it. I think she might have been sleep deprived. J Regardless, we became friends. She was there when my mom was diagnosed with cancer a second time. She kept my children without reservation & she has been there for me ever since. She has cooked for me, listened to me & cheered me on when I thought I had to give up. She taught me that sometimes as moms we are given tough loads to carry, but with friends the journey can be made more manageable.

Soon around this same time, I met a woman that could make me laugh out loud…which was quite a feat. The first time I met Carmen she was pushing a stroller with a new baby boy. I cannot pinpoint the exact moment we became friends but it just seems as though she has been in my life ever since then in some fashion. Recently we were in a bible study together & since then I feel like we haven’t drifted apart. What I love about her is her ability to be honest & funny…sometimes at the same time. She has taught me that while at times motherhood can be an exhausting journey it can also hold humor & excitement.

Then, a few years ago, we made a big decision. We decided to go help launch a new church closer to where we lived. I drug my feet the entire time. I did not want to leave the friends I had made at my other church (Leslie & Carmen included!). I was reluctant to open up to anyone & yet, I was dying inside. I knew I needed a friend out here…a true friend that would walk though the craziness of life with boys. I met Rebekah & I quickly dismissed her as a possible friend. She was beautiful (& still is), she was classy & I really felt like I would be out of her league. Yet, she was a mom of all boys & over time we started to connect. The first time I went to her house I knew we would be friends. What I did not know were the secrets & stories we would share, the hours investing in each other & the ability to call her one of my best friends. She listens as I hash out my feelings, understands when I tell her a story about the boys & offers wise counsel when I am overwhelmed with choices. She has taught me that as a mom it is ok to have questions or concerns & that friends can help you navigate the rough terrain called motherhood.

I am a firm believer that friends make me heart happy. I believe God has been wonderful to me to bless me with amazing friends (many who I do not have time or space to list!). However, I am incredibly humbled that he has brought these women into my life & allowed me the opportunity to call them my closest friends. I think the most incredible thing to me is that these women are all able to walk through motherhood with me. Thank you girls for taking time to listen, invest & encourage me. I am a better mom for all you offer to me. Love you all!


Learning from my mom (part 1 of 5) May 9, 2011

Filed under: Family,mom — fullofboys @ 7:39 am
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Yesterday was Mother’s Day. It was such a special time for me as I was able to host my first Mother’s Day Lunch at our house! I love to host events & parties but this seemed much more special. My mother, my mother in law & my grandmother were all here. Three women who mean a great deal to me! I wanted to take some time to write why these women, as well as a few others, are so special to me. So this week, I plan on writing a little every day…each day about a special woman in my life.

First up, my mom.

I often say that my mom has taught me more than she will ever know. What I have learned most from her is UNCONDITIONAL LOVE!

I suppose most children would say they have learned that from their parents because of the way their parents love them through trials. In some ways, I believe that is part of why I learned this but it actually goes much deeper for me.

As many of you know, when I was 12 I sat in a doctor’s office & heard not only the word ‘cancer’ but I heard the doctor explain that the cancer was ravaging my mother’s body, that the original cancer had morphed into a new cancer & that both resided inside of her. I heard him say there was a chance we would lose her. I heard him describe with great sensitivity the effects of chemo & how her body would change. What I remember most what hearing him say in some type of words that we were a team.

The next few months I saw the effects of chemo in ways I never could have imagined in my youth. I think I can almost pinpoint the moment I learned about love. She was sitting on her bed & with a voice full of emotion she called for me to come into her room. I walked in to see her cheeks stained with tears & a bucket full of hair. The chemo was doing it’s best to take her down & in that moment, I felt it could succeed. I walked over to her bed, sat down & began to brush her hair. I can’t tell you how long I brushed. For me, it seemed like a lifetime. It was probably merely minutes. But I brushed her hair as soft as a could, each time removing a new clump of hair from the brush. Every stroke brought a new tear to my eye. It was a painful experience for us both.  But we were a team. We would weather whatever effect chemo brought on together. As so I brushed until no more hair would come free.

From that experience, I learned through time that we could make it through each trial given. I learned that beauty was truly only skin deep sometimes & when that beauty is compromised it brings with it a depth of emotion that is difficult to navigate. I also learned that there was beauty in the acceptance of something that seemed unimaginable. I learned to love my mother in a new way…bald! As a family, we all did. More & more, her wig lay on the bathroom counter as she would put on a ball cap & go out.

Mostly, I learned through it all how to love a mom who isn’t perfect. Who will be dealt hard hands in life. I learned to appreciate the uncertainty of the moment & realize that when as a family you choose to be a team, you can learn to love regardless of how well life goes. I learned that love is something that will go beyond the pretty dresses or even the missed curfews but will go straight to the heart of someone.


Reflections February 21, 2011

Filed under: cancer,Faith,Family,mom — fullofboys @ 12:44 pm


It is supposed to be the month of LOVE. The month of roses and candy. The month of Cupids and Hearts and all things pink and red. To me, it is a month of change. A month of reflection.

To be honest, I am a pretty reflective person anyway. There is not a year that ends that I do not take stock of where God has brought me, who He has brought into my life and how He chose to weave it all together.

But February is different.

In February, 7 years ago now, my life changed dramatically. I found myself growing up fast, falling to my knees and screaming until I felt every beath had escaped my lungs. I found life being placed in my hands while death passed by far too close. I learned that faith was not an emotion I could hug but was a rock solid commitment to trust in God. I learned that in the most broken part of my heart, God could come in silently and begin to hear my silent screams and heal the fear.

In fairness, the changes took place from January to April…but in February it just seemed to be the peak of everything. January of 2004 came the news that my mother’s cancer had returned. Somehow, the sentence itself did not affect me at first. When I was 13 years old, my mother had first been diagnosed with Ovarian cancer. I was young but during that summer I learned to grow up quickly. I learned to take on the task of watching my younger brother and sister. I learned the art of keeping them distracted when my mother was sick from chemo. I found the ability to sit with my mother and brush her hair out as the effects of the drugs took over her body. I learned to trust myself in those months.

This time was different. I was a mom to an 18 month old little guy and I was about a month from delivering my second child. This time I could not be the protector for my siblings. I could not sit on her bed and hold her hand as she cried. For the first time, I was terrified because I could not trust myself to fix it.

Thus became the stage for the biggest faith moments of my life.

I sat in a small room with family as the doctor walked in that February day. I felt calm…as calm as an 8 month pregnant woman could be! I knew her doctor well. I flashed back to sitting on the couch in his office as a little girl. I asked the question ‘is my mom going to be alright’. I have no idea what his response was that day to this girl who desperately wanted things to be ok. In some ways, I felt like that little girl again, desperately wanting to ask if everything would be ok. But he wore the answer in his eyes before he ever opened his mouth. I found out in that little room that my mom was sick….very sick. I think I cried. I can’t remember. There was so many flashes from the past that pulsed through my head and heart that they both began to ache.

At first, I felt like we could plan our attack. Chemo worked last time so I felt sure it would work again. With a battle plan in my head, I felt sure we would see this through as just another bump in her physical history. I could not have been more wrong.

And yet, in all of this, God brought us Joel. This sweet little blonde haired, blue eyed boy who was innocent of all the fear and turmoil surrounding him.  A little boy who was depending on me to nurture and love him. As it turns out, Joel became a reason for my mom to make it through each day. She only saw him in pictures during the first few months because it was too risky to allow her to hold him.I have a beautiful picture of her holding Joel when he was 3 months old at his baby dedication. It was maybe only the second time she got to hold him. She is in red with a straw hat on covering her head that was bald. And yet, it is the most precious picture of the two of them to me.

And it would be beautiful if the story ended there. It doesn’t. It involved many more months of tears and set backs. It would involve septic blood and blood transfusions. It would involve her losing the ability to eat solid food for over a month. It would involve a moment when the doctor came into the same small waiting room where my Dad and I sat alone and we would be told the chemo is not working like we had hoped.

It would involve me crying out to God to give me strength to love my mom and dad. It would be understanding the idea that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and reminding myself that He never takes a vacation…even when I felt alone.

Mostly, it involved me finding out that what I had believed in all these years (myself) was as solid as shifting sand.

Amazingly, my mom is still with us. And as hard as the months were, I would never trade them. I know that without them, I would not be who I am today. Without that time, I would not have learned to seek God. It wasn’t about asking God to heal my mom. It wasn’t about asking him to make things right. It was about learning to lean on him in my weariness and trust that He had a plan…even when I could not see it.

I expect that every February for the rest of my life, I will find myself reflecting.



Defining Motherhood December 10, 2008

Filed under: mom — fullofboys @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

We recently wrapped up a series at church called ‘Dream Job’. God really worked on my heart during this series. There were several reasons. For some reason I do not think I fully embraced ‘being a mom’ as enough…I surely never saw it as my purpose. Yet, God is molding my heart to become more sure of His calling in my life as a mom. I have a lot to get to with this series. Over the next month or so I plan to share with you some of things that I feel God really taught me and revealed to me. I wanted to start with something that struck me fresh. And by fresh I mean left me in tears in the service as I began to repent for some of the ways I have treated my boys…some of the impossible standards I had set in motion in their lives.

It all started with Pete reading 1 Corinthians 13 from The Message. How horrible is it that I almost checked out at that point in the service. I had to take off my ‘I know that passage already’ hat and really dig in. At first it was the same things I knew, love is patient, kind, etc. I felt like I was hearing and old record played. But then, as it usually does with God, something happens. What it is I have no idea but something keeps me listening…something keeps me grasping. We read the rest of the passage and I felt tears well up in my eyes. They came on so sudden that there was no way to hold them back…I just let them flow freely. There were 5 things that stuck out in this passage…5 things that I circled that will forever change me (I hope!).

* Love doesn’t fly off the handle
* Love takes pleasure in the flowering of truth
* Love puts up with anything
* Love always looks for the best
* Love never looks back, but keeps going to the end

Maybe I was just ready to hear those words that day. Maybe I was looking for a definition of what it is to be a mom. Maybe I was just looking for Christ to reveal himself a little more intimately to me that day. I think it might have been all of those things.

Even now, I am fighting back tears. Those 5 things hit me hard as I struggle (almost daily) with those areas. Love is giving my children patience when I feel my quick temper button has been pressed so many times it is broken. Love is encouraging my children to be honest with everything and allowing them the freedom to share that honesty. Love is cleaning up sheets and bathroom covered in vomit and refereeing every battle of toys, food and friends. Love continues to encourage my boys to find their strengths and helping them to pursue their God given talents. Love is constantly aware of the end, the end of toddlers, adolescents and teen years and remembering that God has given me today to be Christ in their life.

For some reason, being a mom became relevant. It had a definition to me. It had a purpose. I had a map almost of what God would want me to instill in the lives of my boys. For the first time, I let being a mom define me…not using the mom as a classification. Here I am 6 years after my first child and I still struggle with this.

Would you add anything to the list what it is to be a mom?


Stiff and Sore May 14, 2008

Filed under: children,Family,kids,Me,mom — fullofboys @ 2:31 pm

Yesterday seemed like a normal day when I woke up. It was bright and sunny and the boys were well behaved! After taking Joel to school, Silas and I headed for the grocery store. It was the best he has behaved in a long time. I thought to myself, ‘finally, he gets the waiting in line thing’. When we got home, Silas ‘helped’ carry in the groceries. After we put them away, I fixed lunch. He was acting a little hyper but I knew that as soon as he got food, he would calm down. I made pizza for him. I had it cut on the plate and at the table when I realized his cup was still in the van. I dashed outside to get his cup only to return to a locked storm door. Yes, locked! Silas had managed to flip the lock but was unable to unlock it. After spending a few minutes trying to talk to and 21 month old through a glass storm door, I decided I had to do something. I had no keys, no phone and no neighbors home. I tried to remain calm…but I started to panic. Somehow, I thought to check on the side window. It was opened with the screen separating me from inside…well, that and 6 feet of siding (I had Heath measure it when he got home). I went to the shed and found a paint scraper. Then, I grabbed the boy’s small plastic table. The table is about 2 feet tall. Standing on the table, I was pretty level with the window. The entire time I hear Silas talking. Then, I hear him start to panic. I call through the screen that everything is ok, Mommy will be there in a minute. I don’t guess he was buying it because he started to panic more. All the while, I am trying to pop out the screen in the window. Finally, I realized he is panicking enough that he is going to make himself sick. I take the paint cutter and cut the screen off. And then it hits me, this window is still four feet from my feet. The only way in is to hoist myself up. Oh – and the window opening is 20 inches by 16 inches. Seriously, as I stood there, screen tore out, I thought, what the heck do I do now? And when did this window get so high? Somehow, I hoisted myself through the window. As I got a good portion of my chest through the window I realized, the window is several feet (3 to be exact) off the floor in the bathroom. When did it get so high? So now I am face with the possibility of tumbling head first into the bathroom! Somehow, I made it into the house, without breaking anything but the screen. However, my arms were beyond exhausted, swollen and bruised. Last night I could barely move my upper body. I think I contorted it into ways a body should not move. Thankfully, everything is fine…just sore.

You bet I will add this to the list of things I have learned since becoming a mom. I have learned that in a moment of need, I can hoist my body up 4 feet, through a 20 inch by 16 inch window and down three feet head first and still live to tell about it. Oh, it is comical now but I still can’t laugh…it just hurts too bad!


My Second Gift – Joel February 18, 2008

Filed under: Family,mom — fullofboys @ 1:43 pm

Four years ago today I was finally a mother of two. Joel arrived at 831pm on February 17th. Yesterday as we were eating a birthday breakfast, Heath and I started to recount the day he was born. I woke up that Tuesday morning pretty sleep deprived. I had slept on the couch that night and just felt sick. Around 9am I called my doctor. I told her I just didn’t feel good…maybe I had the flu. She said I should come on in for a visit just to make sure all was OK with Joel.I should stop right here and tell you that the last couple months of pregnancy with Joel were terrifying for me. Soon after learning we were pregnant with Joel, I quit my job. We moved about 45 minutes away and I knew no one. At first it was ok but as the pregnancy progressed, I felt more alone. Around month 6, I was having contractions. I was put on modified bed rest. I can still remember going out of state for Christmas and thinking he could come before we returned home.I spent many days on my couch in my new home alone and scared. I wondered how I would do this thing called motherhood with another child. I learned to lean on God in new ways those last few weeks of pregnancy. I found days when I was renewed with hope and strength. I learned how to pray more intimately than I knew possible. I honestly felt God’s arms wrap around me and give me peace when I felt alone in a new house and new area.February 17 felt like any other day to me. I called my mother in law and asked if I could bring Isaiah to her house while I went in for an appointment. The wise woman that she is would not let me drive to the office that day. She appointed my father in law my driver and informed me that I was not going by myself. Keep in mind the ONLY time I had someone with me was for an ultrasound or to hear the first heartbeat. However, I learned early on, don’t argue with the person providing free childcare!So off my father in law and I went to the doctor’s office. My nurse came in, put her hand on my stomach and asked me if I was feeling the cramp still. I nodded and simply said they are coming and going, blowing off her question. She proceeded to check me and informed me I was at 2cm. Again, thinking nothing of it, I figured I would head home. Then she told me that I was in labor.I am not kidding I thought she was joking. I mean, I had already had one child and surely I would know what labor was! She hooked me up to the machine that monitors contractions. Within the next hour I went from 2 to 4 while still in the doctor’s office. I walked over to the hospital (father in law still in tow) and checked in. All the while trying to get hold of Heath.After two doses of pitocin and several screams, Joel made his entrance. It was eerily quiet when he came out and then we heard his cries. Do you know how as a mom you know something is wrong? I felt it in my heart. They quickly whisked Joel away and took him behind a curtain. Heath followed to see them taking fluid out of his airway. Joel came so quickly that he did not expel all the fluid needed. I often think of how Heath must have felt torn in that moment, wondering whether to stay with his son or be with his wife. In the next few moments I would show a side of me that is less than polite as I pushed a nurse off me…twice. My uterus was not clamping down…basically, I was losing tons of blood. Now, what tons means I have no idea but that is the word the doctor used. The nurse I pushed off was trying to manually cause my uterus to shrink by pressing on my abdomen…and it hurt worse than labor! In the blur of the next few minutes I remember the doctor calling for a shot and feeling the need to pass out. At some point I became aware that I no longer knew what was going on with me or Joel. And yet, that peace I felt on the couch enveloped me. Today, as I watched him play with his brothers, I laughed. He is a tough little guy with no fear. He really believes he can do anything he puts his mind to. I have a friend who thinks he can be a lawyer because he is adamant when he believes something. I love how his smile lights up the room and how he says hello to anyone who will listen. I often say he gives me the most grief but it is he who makes me laugh until I think sweet tea will come out my nose!  To be honest, I think we were not really prepared for his arrival. We had the crib and clothes and such but really, I had no clue how to be a mom of two! I had no clue how I would love another little guy. And today, I can’t imagine not having him to love. Happy Birthday Joel! You are a light in my life and I thank God that He created you, that he formed you in my womb and that that he brought you to us, safe. You are a gift that we might not always openly express gratitude for but a gift that helps complete our family!   


Maybe I don’t think clear on a warmer day… January 4, 2008

Filed under: Family,goals,Me,mom — fullofboys @ 10:10 am

Do you remember how I listed my goals for this year just a few days ago? I wrote those goals when it was a nice temp for December outside…close to 50 degrees. The idea of being a self sufficient mom seemed easy at the time. Then it snowed. Now, we don’t normally get huge amounts of snow here. Actually a few flurries sends most people to the grocery store to stock up on milk and bread. It flurried at my house for two days in a row and then it just stayed cold. Yesterday, our thermometer never went above 33 F. But I needed groceries. I could have asked Hubs to come home watch the kids and go but I really hate doing that. I miss time as a family and I find it is a much more stressed filled evening trying to put away groceries and get the kids ready for bed. So I decided to brave the cold and take the kids to the grocery store. It was so cold. I bundled them all up and we went. A couple weeks ago I would have called a grandparent to come and take care of the kids. This day, I took them all by myself. It was a little stressful but I felt really rewarded afterwards. Next week, school is back in session and I will only have one of the kids to take to the store but for this week I am glad I tried it with three.