Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Respond vs. React

Yesterday, just moments after Kate boarded her bus to school, I received a call from her superintendent informing me a threat had been made against the school. Steps were made to insure the school was safe and law enforcement was on the scene further assuring the safety of all students. We are a part of a large corporation and I know without question, if there was any concern whatsoever the threat was real, school would have been cancelled. The call was simply a courtesy. My initial knee-jerk reaction was to get in the car and follow the bus to school to get my kid. Fortunately, I have been hard at work these last two years on a life mantra called "respond not react". I am two years into the journey and have a long way to go but knew I needed to reign in my overly emotional reaction to life. I am by no stretch of the imagination to a place where I don't still have  reactionary thoughts first.

I no sooner hung up the phone from the automated call before I received a text from Kate on the bus. Other parents were calling their kids. They were following the bus and retrieving their children and Kate was scared. Of course she was. As gut wrenching as it was, I had to explain to her that day would be the safest day of the year for her because it would be flooded with law enforcement (and it was), all staff would be on high alert (and they were) and sadly, real threats aren't warned about ahead of time. It broke my heart to have that exchange via text message when she was pleading to be picked up.

As the day progressed, 500 of her classmates were picked up from school. Parents were understandably frightened. I was too because this event just affirmed what we already know. The world is not always a safe place and bad things do happen. Kate expressed the teachers weren't following lesson plans with such low attendance so she wasn't learning anything and again begged to go home. Her friends weren't there to help process all she was feeling so I suggested she sketch or talk with a teacher she is particularly close to about her thoughts. She was irritated but I firmly believe the lesson she was learning wasn't on any one's lesson plans that day. We will constantly face a life full of scary things. We have a decision to make. Will that fear prevent us from living fully or will we rise above? I have faith Kate came out of this situation stronger for it.

By lunch, the young woman responsible for the threat was arrested. Kate knew her well in third grade but wasn't surprised to learn who it was so in addition to unpacking all she learned that day, she then needed to process how a young girl could make such an error in judgment. She was pretty critical until I shared some of the things I have learned both from my own adolescent years and from wearing out the tread on my parenting of teens' shoes. Kids are kids. Their brains simply aren't yet capable of processing the impact their decisions have on others. As devastated as her parents are, she likely cannot see what pain she has caused. Nor does she understand the full impact her actions had on an entire community.

Kate and I talked through all the ways parents are ill prepared to keep up with all that threatens the safety and well being of their children and how we have to rely on our faith to keep us sane(ish) throughout this parenting season. She now understands a little more about how we like to point fingers and place blame in tragic moments because it somehow sends our hearts the message that a specific horrible thing can't happen to us. Here's the deal. It most certainly can. So I can take my kids' phones and read their messages and I can monitor their social media accounts but I cannot prevent them from having secret accounts nor can I prevent them from spending time with kids a little more bent on getting into trouble. What I can do is prioritize time spent listening to them, engaging in deeper conversations and allowing them to experience uncomfortable situations to later discuss how she felt in the moment and how it feels to be in a place of reflection.

I do not know the family of the child responsible but I am heartbroken for them. No parent thinks this could happen to them and 95% of us are just doing the best we know to do for our children so I pray our community will withhold judgment and condemnation. Because even minor infractions of our children that become public can make most of us feel like we have failed.

Monday, February 18, 2019

I am not brave

When I pray, I take the safe route. I ask God's will and for strength to endure. I am always braced for the worst, if I am being honest. And it has taken me years to discover about myself. I hear others boldly ask God for miracles and a voice in the back of my head rolls her eyes because babies die, people are hurt and life isn't fair. How audacious is it for me to ask anything different?

So when we discovered Kate had a tumor, I was afraid. When they promised it was benign, I exhaled but the entire time has been in her body I worried and as we anticipated final pathology, I was concerned once again.

Friday Kate had outpatient surgery to remove the tumor and I was afraid to pray. In my heart of hearts, I feared that on National Childhood Cancer Awareness Day, we would hear our world was crashing like so many other parents do. I left the praying to others and instead counted blessings and focused on anything but the heaviest part of my heart. This avoidance earning me a massive headache. Again. I suppose forty five might be the age I finally analyze why I process life the way I do.
Kate was pain free and happy immediately after surgery thanks to the numbing medication used at the surgical site. However, at bedtime that wore off and the carefree Kate who actually requested a trip to Target as soon as we were home from the hospital (request denied) had a rough night. But in typical Kate fashion, she woke no one and endured quietly. Just before five Saturday morning, I checked on her and spent the next few hours sitting in her bed with tea watching Friends and waiting on medicine to kick in.

She grew increasingly more antsy as she was eager to resume life as normal so she planned to return to school today. By the time she was ready to go, it was clear she actually wasn't so we took another day to recover. Running a few errands gave us a glimpse into how she would navigate middle school hallways and a full schedule. She seems like she might be prepared to return tomorrow since the surgery was much less invasive than originally anticipated. And today, we got the final call. Pathology confirmed the tumor was in fact benign. We are grateful.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Counting Blessings

Monday was not an easy day to be the mom in my house. As result, it wasn't much fun to be a kid around here either. Attitudes needed adjusted and for the first time in a long, long time mine wasn't top of the list. So in counting my blessings and giving thanks on the most trying of days, I praise Him for fresh starts; new beginnings. Apologies and lessons learned. The weight of my son's head on my lap during bedtime reading as he sought restoration and the running of my fingers through his hair as I calmed my spirit; the soothing of my soul after a frenzied day. God is good. Especially on the hard days.

We revisited spiritual gifts surveys at church this week and that on top of our class a few weeks ago has me suspicious God is up to something in our life. As I shared the direction I fear we are being called, Greg did not cower in a corner so we'll see where He leads us. Perhaps it won't involve kicking and screaming but time will tell.

The results of having all electronic devices banned until further notice has yielded only positive results. The decision to reintroduce his coveted favorites will not be easy as he is exploring new skills, creatively playing and reading more. A settled spirit being the most obvious change. I stand firm in my belief the impact of electronics on the developing brain is far more negative than we acknowledge. The battle is great as even the school insists he needs daily log-in.
On Saturday, our anxious Kate requested a day out together. Makenna and Noah joined us as we walked through the shops downtown and then enjoyed a sweet snack with tea at Panera, one of her favorites. I wish we'd taken the first available surgery date for her peace of mind but needed time to make arrangements for the remaining family.

Greg left this morning for Michigan and Kate had youth group after church so I stole away for a lunch date with my little man who has his eye on his dad's side of the bed tonight. He believes he is sweetening the deal with promises of a Lego movie on Netflix. Not only is he stealthily seeking electronic entertainment, but Lego movies aren't exactly my jam. But given the brutal case of insomnia that has had me awake since midnight, it won't take much for me cave.

Lauren had 14 inches cut off her hair this week and the results are so cute! Her little man turned 11 months old and that reality is shocking. Time flies when you are having fun they say and I cannot recall a season that has been more fun to observe. This baby literally has my heart.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

A springlike weekend

I woke early Saturday morning and enjoyed hot tea and a good book snuggled in a hand crocheted blanket recently thrifted. As soon as the house started to wake, the peace was quickly replaced with snuggles and tickles with Ty, as is tradition on weekends. He spoke endlessly about his plans to become a famous you tuber with his buddy and how he needs his assistant principal to create his "merch" because she makes shirts for the teachers and is nicer than his art teacher who could also supply his future fans. Greg inquired his business model and was met with resistance. Ty has no intention of sharing profits. However, being that he is not allowed to have a YouTube account or a web cam seems to be a minor obstacle he is choosing to ignore for the time being. He also has plans to teleport in the future, so there's that. He amuses us most when he has no idea.

Kate is growing more anxious about surgery, stating she feels light headed when talking about it. There was a therapy dog in the surgeon's office and at this point, my prayer is to have one visit in pre-op as I think she might need the furry kisses. To help diminish some anxiety today, I handed her my camera and encouraged her to photograph me and the kids out back. We started with the auto setting but have plans to move into aperture priority mode later this week. I think she will have the focus needed to learn and look forward to seeing what she produces.

Greg's brother brought his family to dinner Saturday after his niece competed in a cheer competition in Louisville. We enjoyed their company and they loved the cauliflower. This is a trend so for those interested, I toss cut cauliflower with coarse sea salt and olive oil. My secret ingredient is Mediterranean olive oil from a local store, The Olivet. I drizzle a little of it over the already well coated cauliflower and roast at 425 for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Trust me and all other dinner guests who later request my recipe, it's quite tasty.

Two boys joined us for outside play today and I am anticipating a great summer full of the same. Ty now has four neighborhood friends and three of them are outdoorsy. Amen. By the end of the day, the yard was littered with bikes, basketballs, shoes, bows and arrows. I held down the porch swing with a book, barely absorbed as I enjoyed life philosophies from the under ten crowd. I cannot recall the last time I remained so sedentary as I chose to inhale as much sunshine as possible while my windows remained open; the stench of winter temporarily banished.

Friday, February 1, 2019

January Finally Ended

We survived all 693 days of January. Amen. This week Makenna started a new job, Erin used three sick days, we had a snow day, a two hour delay (twice), record breaking low temperatures and met with Kate's surgeon. There was no resemblance of a schedule whatsoever and there were rumors of a few children not showering for days on end. The highlight had to be having Greg work from home so he could attend Kate's appointment where he announced he was just the chauffer and eye candy. Jesus take the wheel.

Makenna is going to enjoy being a kindergarten aid in a local title one school. She gets to leave that job location in time to arrive at another elementary school to be YMCA after school care site director. It's a lot to juggle but given it's just for the remainder of the school year, she's pretty confident she's got this. On the first day, she wasn't so sure but by the second day, she was already telling cute stories about her new little friends.

Kate is having surgery on the 15th. She is nervous and we don't love this solution but the number of days our otherwise active and high energy kiddo has spent in bed because she is too uncomfortable to do anything else has taken it's toll. We have full confidence in the surgeon, as she is the same one who took care of Makenna's ligament replacement. The tumor is going to be removed via outpatient surgery, with additional attention paid to the femur bone. By removing additional tissue, we are eliminating the risk of regrowth. A biopsy is normal protocol to confirm the benign diagnosis.

I spent a decent amount of time creating my business website. It's still very much a work in progress but if you are so inclined, check out sheschasinglight.com. My awesome IT guy has been a cheerleader of sorts and I would recommend him but I don't share well and his wife would like to have her evenings with him restored.  She has created the Logo I am using and made several adjustments to format it to a few different projects. My people are awesome.

In anticipation of an upcoming school dance I am photographing, I have created a business card and am taking an additional photography class. This is not a busy season for sessions so I am utilizing my time learning and growing the business side so I can better focus on the creative aspects when we thaw out this spring.

Greg had a class in Indy two days this week and is likely going to Michigan next week because the winter is a logical season to travel north?

Lauren had a snake in her kitchen Tuesday night and was ready to burn the house down as result. We Baughmans are reasonable in the face of snakes. So Texas may be warmer but the frozen state of Indiana is suddenly far more appealing. Taylor was able to get home to kill it but knowing it was a baby has left Lauren unsettled. Is there a nest? My skin is crawling fourteen hours away.