The ‘A’-Word

Sitting in the doctor’s office for the third time this month with a coughing, wheezing child, again, yet another doctor uttered the dreaded ‘A’-word (don’t worry, you won’t find profanity here – this is a more difficult word for this mama to stomach).

Asthma.

With every mention, the likelihood of asthma becoming our reality increases.

We already deal with that other ‘A’-word (allergy) and all the paperwork, medications, food precautions and disappointments that come with it. Our son handles it well but I have been hoping and praying against another health issue requiring a medical action plan.

Each wheezing trip to the doctor yields increased medication and building concern over an escalating problem we do not yet have under control. A problem none of us fully comprehend.

The word ‘asthma’ initially triggered a knee-jerk parental response filled with worry, emotion, and denial. Why? Perhaps because naming it means acknowledging a real problem that may be here to stay. Or because I long for him to be healthy and care-free. We are already equipped with an Epi-Pen, Benadryl and managing safety of every single bite…isn’t that enough for one little person (and his mama) to handle?

I just don’t want him to have asthma. I want him to run, play and climb and do not want good activities and exercise to trigger wheezing.

I just don’t want him to need an inhaler or nebulizer. And I certainly abhor the thought of him ever having a full-blown asthma attack (on a side note – if your doctor mentions asthma, DO NOT immediately google ‘asthma attack’ YouTube videos. Trust me, you need to be prepared to watch that. Scary stuff).

Like allergies, asthma is simply out of my control. I can’t stop it. It can be managed, but it is hard to stomach that I can’t fix it. Doesn’t every mama want to just fix it? Sigh. I hate feeling so helpless!

But my helplessness forces me to drop to my knees in prayer for healing, answers and a solution. It reminds me that my God is faithful – but His ways do not always conform to my plans.

Asthma is not my plan. But weeks of prayer have revealed that asthma may be in God’s plan for our son. I don’t know why, but trust that God will walk with (or carry) us.

Like it or not, asthma is an answer. Treating asthma is a solution – just not the one I wanted.

I can already see good from ‘asthma’ on his medical chart. We already see a more streamlined response at the doctor. His oxygen levels are now assessed right away. As long as within acceptable values, we wait in line like everyone else. If in danger, I have no doubt he will be treated immediately. The doctors ask us pointed questions, address our questions thoroughly, and explain next steps. They gave a ‘tentative’ asthma action plan so we can be proactive until we see the specialist in June. With each appointment, I arrive defeated but leave better equipped and more informed. I am increasingly grateful for the team of professionals helping him be as healthy as possible.

I have proudly watched this brave, grateful child thrive as his character is strengthened even as he gasps for air.

As he sits, coughing excessively into the nebulizer mask, the resilience and hope in his eyes literally steals my breath. He doesn’t hear the word ‘asthma’ and shrink back. He listens, wanting to know more. I’m amazed at how much he understands!

DSC_0840 (2)

The word asthma means nothing to him, except that it potentially gives his coughing a name – a name that means a plan, treatment and a chance to feel better. Our little man is a trooper. He hopes and trusts without reservation and does not dwell in useless self-pity.

He rarely protests his two (now) three treatments of asthma maintenance medication even though he has to stop playing and sit still with an uncomfortable mask on his face for 30 minutes. He knows when he needs albuterol and asks for it before I can offer. His attitude teaches his mama that the mere word, ‘asthma’, isn’t all-powerful or all-condemning.

So wise at just four and a half.

I’ve given this word far too much credit. We are already dealing with the symptoms, no matter what we call it. We were helpless as he coughed so hard he vomited, only to continue without relief. Now, we use the nebulizer and gratefully pray over him as we he peacefully falls back asleep. We are increasingly educated to know when he needs more help.

I may not want him to need the nebulizer, but I am grateful for it. We are no longer fighting a nameless issue without proper tools. 

Even a troubling diagnosis is far better than being ill-equipped.

Waiting for the specialist, I am increasingly prepared for the outcome. Regardless of whether his chart says ‘asthma’ or not, we will continue to receive invaluable advice, instructions and tools so he can feel his best.

I still do not want him to have asthma, but I see how diagnosis ensures streamlined, proper care. I appreciate how an asthma plan can help us do what we can to prevent an asthma attack and treat symptoms. I recognize how this struggle is increasing my trust and dependence on God as I surrender, admitting it is out of my hands. I know my peace (or lack thereof) will teach our son more about what walking with God is really about than any Sunday School lesson. I will choose to focus on God instead of some medical term.

Most importantly, I see how God is lovingly building our son’s character with perseverance, hope, gratitude, and responsibility. I believe God will use this struggle for good (He already is).

I’m not ready to embrace it, but it might be time to quit treating a mere word as my enemy and call it what this probably is…

Asthma.

Here we (probably) go.

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A Multi-Purpose Solution: Quick DIY Two-Color Painted Storage Crate

A Multi-Purpose Solution: Quick DIY Two-Color Painted Storage Crate | thisgratefulmama.com

So I had these two problems that seemed unrelated…

Problem One:

We’ve been having a bit of a storage problem in our house. I bought this cloth basket with the intent of using it for either library books or blankets. I’ve tried using it for many things, and have stuffed many-a-library book into it.

Not Big Enough

Unfortunately, it is simply not big enough to really be functional – even though I wish it was.  So, it has been demoted to hold kids dress-up clothes until I find another functional use for it.

Back at square one, I am still in need of a storage solution to put under my living room end table for books or blankets.

Problem Two:

I like to use beverage dispensers when I host a large gathering – but I have no stands. I am always scrounging around before we host…for something, anything, that will raise the dispensers off of the counter.

Why not buy one? The sticker shock. Not only are they expensive,but they also serve no other purpose and take up space in my kitchen cabinets. They are not used often enough to justify it.

All that scrounging around for a solution always yields no results and I end up with the spigots hanging off the counter, with beverages dripping onto the floor.

Wet socks…sigh.

SO what do these two problems have in common? The solution.

Last week, while preparing to host a wedding shower, I stumbled upon this pin from The Better Half. Cleverly, they used a painted crate for a beverage station. Not only does the crate save me from floor puddles and lift the dispensers so they can be used, it also provides storage for the cups below – saving valuable counter space!

Genius.

On the same day (oh yes, this project was meant to be), the email title Easy DIY Library Book Crate from This Abundant Life caught my eye.

In a span of just a few minutes an inexpensive, multi-purpose problem solving solution was born – only I wanted mine to have two colors.

Lucky me, the unfinished wood crates were on sale and even less using a coupon at JoAnns. I bought the cheapest acrylic craft paint I could find ($0.69 per bottle) in two colors, and the project was funded and completed for under $10.

I used 2.5 bottles of white craft paint, and a half bottle of yellow. White paint was used as a primer below the yellow (becuase as I mentioned, I bought cheap paint and had no idea how well the yellow would cover).

A Multi-Purpose Solution: Quick DIY Two-Color Painted Storage Crate | thisgratefulmama.com

It took an hour to paint two coats, and then just a few minutes to seal it.

The painted crate was sealed with leftover indoor/outdoor Urethane sealer from the DIY Outdoor Vertical Stencil-Painted ‘Believe’ and ‘Grateful’ Sign I made this winter. Now the paint is protected from condensation on the dispensers, and won’t come off on the carpet.

I love a solution that solves more than one problem.

Beverage Station:

A Multi-Purpose Solution: Quick DIY Two-Color Painted Storage Crate | thisgratefulmama.com

Book Storage:

A Multi-Purpose Solution: Quick DIY Two-Color Painted Storage Crate | thisgratefulmama.comLibrary Book Storage

Blanket Storage:

A Multi-Purpose Solution: Quick DIY Two-Color Painted Storage Crate | thisgratefulmama.com

 

 

This post was shared on link parties at TheShabbyNest and ItsOverflowing. Check them out for many fun ideas worth exploring.

frugal fridayItsOverflowing-Button-150

My Heart May Burst

My heart is so full, it just might burst!

As I shared on Friday, I entered Mother’s Day weekend with low expectations. I just wanted a regular day with our family, even if it meant tears, diapers and interruptions.

I did get a weekend with my husband and kids. It was lovely. And real.

There were certainly some less-than-desirable interruptions – including a 2-year-old who pooped in the tub (while both kids and all their toys were in it and daddy was outside mowing the lawn. Oh, how I love bleach!), a bloody nose to rival all others, a few time outs and a whole lot of tears and boogers.

But, there were also amazing moments I would never trade, even for a spa day – rolling down a grassy hill with the kids, (yes, it made me dizzy but made them crack up so was worth it), giggles and joy at the Children’s Museum, fun playing a new game together, and silly kids playing dress up. We also enjoyed sweet gatherings with my mom and my husband’s mom.

My thoughtful husband and children topped-off the growler of iced coffee they left me on Friday with a gift card to a favorite shop and Monopoly Jr for our family to play together (We all know the brains behind that gift…Thank you, Seth).

I was already feeling very, very loved. 

In addition, our son made a few gifts for me. His sweet smile as he proudly told me what he made and how he made them is enough to make my heart puff up.

The hand-made gifts started with a cute picture made at preschool of a butterfly made from his hands. So sweet.

butterfly

The picture came attached to an interview of the preschool kids about their mamas. Below are our son’s answers but all of the kids answers were hysterical.

  • What does your mother do? “She cleans the floor, vacuums and does laundry and helps me clean my room” – PS my house is not that clean…
  • What is your favorite food she cooks for you? “Oatmeal” – yep. Every day.
  • What does your mom look like? ” She has long legs, long hair and not very long arms” – hehe…can you picture it?

Then he made a cup of paper flowers at Sunday School and presented them to me. This all seems like a showering of love, right? My heart was already plenty full. 

Then Sunday afternoon we went to my mom’s to celebrate Mother’s Day and I was surprised by yet another gift from our son. Intrigued, I opened it.

Priceless treasures.

He painted two pictures on canvas when he was at my mom’s house and kept it a secret for several weeks! Impressive for a 4 1/2 year old. Not only did he keep the secret, look at these…they are amazing!

The first he called “Volcano with flowers” – pronounced by him as “o-cano with flowers”.

You won’t believe how he did this! He mixed all the paint colors together and used a paint brush to make the volcano. Then, he stamped the flowers using the bottom of a plastic cup. He used a large Q-tip to make the center spots. He used a knife to draw the stems and leaves with green paint. Check it out:

Volcano and Flowers

Speechless.

His second painting is Birch Trees. He made the tree outlines using masking tape. My mom said she helped him tear the small pieces for the branches but he stuck everything on himself. He used a paper towel dipped in paint to make the grass and sky background. When dry, they removed the tape and used a large Q-tip to add the brown to the trees and a knife dipped in black paint to finish it off.

Birch Trees

My mom has assured me that she gave him instructions but he painted these himself. I think we can all agree she is an amazing teacher (and grandma). Thank you Aiden and Grandma Pam.

Not only did I have a great Mother’s Day, but a whole weekend. Topped off by hand-made and thoughtful gifts I will treasure always.

Thank you all.  My heart is as full as it can be. One more smile. One more kiss…it just might make it burst.

There’s only one way I can think of to end this…”Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”

What I Really Want For Mother’s Day – A Life Interrupted

This morning, like every morning, I came downstairs, with two frantic-for-breakfast kids in my wake. The view upon opening the fridge stopped me in my tracks.

There, on the middle shelf was a beautiful sight – a growler of dark roasted coffee, cold pressed for 24 hours. A full jug of coffee goodness. Even better, on it, a handwritten note from my husband proclaiming, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’.

grolwer

Yes, my friends, this man is a keeper.

Today, as you know as you read this, is Friday. It is not Mother’s Day.

Delighted and excited to try some, I first did what mothers do – I made the kids breakfast and made sure they had water and anything they might need from me before trying to pour myself a cup.

This coffee is every bit as wonderful as you might think it is. Dark. Strong. And, unlike my normal morning coffee with the kids, I don’t have to worry about it getting cold.

It is intentionally, delightfully cold. Delicious.

That man is my hero.

Last night, before bed, I read a ScaryMommy blog post, titled “What Moms REALLY Mean When They Say “I Don’t Want Anything for Mother’s Day” that made me crack up.

Out loud.

By myself.

Yes, I do that a lot since I am a heavy mom-blog consumer and some of you are incredible blogging comedians.

This morning, watching our kids and drinking fantastic coffee, I was struck by what I really want for Mother’s Day and how appropriate it is to wake up to a Mother’s Day gift during a standard week day.

What I really want is not what I originally thought. Last night, I agreed with ScaryMommy and thought I wanted an uninterrupted day.

But I don’t. I think if I have an uninterrupted Mother’s Day, I will miss what makes me love being a mom. Mother’s Day isn’t about being served, thanked, showered with gifts, or praised. Mother’s Day is about being a mom, and being a mom means a life of interruption, both good and bad.

Although I sometimes complain about the lack of sleep, cranky or tired kids, or how I want to go to the bathroom in peace, even those moments bring a fullness and joy to life I can’t do without. You see, un-interrupted sleep means missing a chance to snuggle and comfort a child who is too busy to snuggle during the day. An extra long shower means I might miss something they may never do again.

It is true that being a mom means I don’t have as much time for myself as I used to, but who needs all that self-reflection and pampering anyway? What I did before kids was waste a lot of time and hot water.

I may have quick showers, less sleep and have to answer the question ‘why?’ in one morning more than any person should in a lifetime, but I also have priceless, funny, sweet, and sometimes messy (or stressful) moments with two incredible little people.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to stay home with our kids. They change me for the better, every single day, whether I like it or not.

Truly, Mother’s Day is better spent on a day like today, without a big family gathering or special meal. I don’t really like to be the center of attention anyway – it makes me feel awkward and weird. On the actual day, I am often distracted by events and our kids are usually off playing with cousins so I don’t see much of them until they are over-tired, crying and ready for bed.

I remember last year sarcastically thinking “happy mother’s day to me” as they screamed their way through bedtime baths, books and prayers – who could blame them? We had so much fun celebrating and playing, they were just plumb worn out!

Don’t get me wrong, the celebrations of moms are wonderful and important. All mothers, and those who love our children but may not be biological mothers are worth honoring. Absolutely spend time pampering the moms in your life this Mother’s Day.

But today, a regular Friday, is what being a mom is all about. Sure, we have bruises, time-outs, messes, and tears, but we also have life lessons learned, sweet sibling snuggles, playtime, curiosity, and all-out-hysterical-belly laughing.

What I really want for Mother’s Day, is a regular day with our kids – a day that wouldn’t be complete without interruption, grass stains, time-outs and dirty diapers (OK, I admit I could do without the diapers). While uninterrupted moments might be nice, I love them so much, I don’t want to spend the day with only the perfectly behaved portion of their day – I want all of it. Messy or not.

At a minimum, I thought this known sleep worshipper would at least want to sleep in. But really, I won’t. I will hear the rabble-rousing downstairs and know that I was missing moments with my family. I want to be there when my husband and kids are wrestling and they are giggling and tackling each other. I don’t want to miss it. Instead, I’ll use the day to reflect and be grateful for all parts of being a mom.

I will not trade it for even one day.

Today, a coffee growler made me feel loved, celebrated, grateful and well-caffeinated – a perfect combination on a not-so-perfect day.  The fact that it was given on a day that isn’t Mother’s Day makes it twice as appropriate and special. Thank you, Seth (and kids) – you know me so well.

Remember, it doesn’t take much to make a mom’s day special. Let the moms spend the day with the sweet kids who make them moms in the first place. The kids are the best gift a mom ever asked for anyway.

Even if they come with interruption and boogers.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Birthday thisgratefulmama! (Top 15 Posts From Year One)

happy first birthday thisgratefulmama!

Somehow…it’s been a whole year.

And yet, I can’t believe it’s only been a year.

Admittedly, this began as a bit of an experiment. I wasn’t sure if I would have enough time to post regularly, nor was I sure if I’d have enough content. Ha! As it turns out, I have a lot to say. I realize that to those who have spent time here, the idea of me running out of things to say might be a little funny. Maybe even laughable.

Honestly, I just wasn’t sure about the whole thing. I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy blogging long-term. I didn’t know if anyone would want to read it, or if this site could be at all unique among the millions of other blogs out there.

I perseverated over starting a blog for at least a year before finally taking the plunge. I am so grateful for the outlet this blog provides for me to process and share thoughts and ideas. Blogging brings an unexpected sense of purpose and direction. This may have started as a necessary and self-serving outlet to flush out ideas, but it has become much more than I expected or dreamed it would be.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy writing. I realize now how much I missed it – and have been surprised by how much I need it.

Every time I click the ‘Publish’ button, I find myself feeling refreshed and energized. I’d call it more of a ‘release’ button.

The publishing of my first post left me anxious, hopeful, excited, and giddy. In the first few weeks I was a stats junky…an addict (which is funny because no one knew the site existed). I was excited when just one person found the blog per day (or initially, per week). Imagine my joy when people not only visited the site but subscribed. I love taking time to check out readers blogs – you are writing some amazing and inspiring stuff!

It has been humbling and fun to see increasing traffic – growth happens sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but so far, the site is consistently growing. In fact, the number of visitors and page views in the first quarter of 2015 surpassed the traffic from 2014. I’m excited to see what year 2 will bring. Thank you.

During the past year, many of you have blessed me with your feedback. Some of you have written or spoken encouragement and kind words that have brought me to tears. Repeatedly. Thank you to all who have cheered me on and to those who have given both invaluable advice and constructive feedback. Your insight and support have been both impactful and treasured. I’ve been both surprised and honored by each of you who visit the site, and furthermore by those who use their precious time to read, reblog, share and comment.

This blog is pure joy to me, only amplified by each of you.

I hope you’ll keep reading and giving feedback, because I have no intention to stop writing.

The closing words from the very first post are still true today:

The name www.thisgratefulmama.com was chosen because it describes who I am striving to be, regardless of my circumstances. I certainly don’t have it all together, so what you’ll find here is a discussion of honest successes and failures, and hopefully some fun ideas. I hope you enjoy this blog and share your feedback with me.

To commemorate this first birthday, I compiled a list of the top 15 posts you visited over the last 12 months, in descending order of page views.

I am grateful for each of you. Thank you.

Top 15 Posts from thisgratefulmama – Year 1:

  1. I am THAT Allergy Mama: Thank You For Answering My Food Allergy “20 Questions” Before We Get Together
  2. A Laid-back Open House Couples Shower – soon to overtake #1
  3. I am THAT Allergy Mama: Something Good HAS To Come From All Of This…6 Beneficial Life-Skills Our Kids CAN Develop As A Result Of Having A Food Allergy
  4. Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent – Our Search For An Answer To Our Baby’s Cries
  5. DIY Painted Console Table: How to Update Furniture with Spray Paint
  6. Thoughts on Christian Persecution in Iraq – Please Pray for the Persecuted
  7. DIY Outdoor Vertical Stencil-Painted ‘Believe’ and ‘Grateful’ Sign
  8. I Chose To Stay Home With My Children – Not To Throw Away My Career
  9. DIY Dinosaur Tails, Dinosaur Spike Party Hats and Favors
  10. 7 DO’s and DON’Ts after your Child’s Public Meltdown
  11. To the Busy Mom: 10 Reasons to Take Better Care of YOU in 2015
  12. Update Furniture You Already Own: DIY Spray Painted Bar Stools
  13. 6 Truths For A Mama-Attitude Adjustment When Our Work Feels Unnoticed
  14. A Salute to Working Moms
  15. Impatient for Patience