Snow day

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The weathermen in Raleigh had predicted 5 to 7 inches of snow (and my poor co-workers even spent the night in empty patients' rooms because it was going to be so bad out there), but we ended up with a measly half-inch. Still, we've had the sweetest family day with these two. The guys went out and did the manly work of chopping firewood while the girls stayed in and cooked soup. I'll take a few more days like these, please.

A dollhouse for Lane Eliette.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

As soon as I saw this dollhouse by Lia Griffith as I was scrolling through Pinterest one day, I knew I wanted to create something similar for Lanie for Christmas. I love that Lia's site has plans to build the dollhouse as well as recommendations for furniture and bunnies to inhabit it. I used my miter saw to cut the pieces (and Shawn and a friend cut the house shape for the backing with a circular saw), and I've listed most of my sources at the bottom in case you want to make something similar. I absolutely love the Hape dollhouse furniture as it's the perfect size to actually play with without risking breaking tiny parts, and it was easy to paint certain pieces. There are still some things I want to do like make more bedding and rugs, and I've ordered a little baby bunny to add to our family. :) But for now, it's the perfect little bunny cottage for Lanie Lou. I hope you enjoy, too!

The kids' room

The master bedroom

The bathroom

The kitchen

The living/dining room

Kids' room:
Vinyl wood flooring on top level from Lowe's (for under a dollar) - just cut, peel, and stick
Hape children's furniture from Amazon
White brick scrapbook paper from Michael's
Bunnies from Calico Critters rabbit family on Amazon
Free printables on Pinterest (shrunk down to bunny size), taped on with washi tape

Roof: 
Shingles from Hobby Lobby. One of my favorite parts of this whole project!

Master bedroom:
Flooring from Hobby Lobby dollhouse supplies, cut and glued on
Hape bedroom furniture on Amazon
Tiny planters from Hobby Lobby, filled with faux leaves
Bedding made with scrap fabric from my stash
Art was made with wood tiles from Hobby Lobby with scrapbook paper glued on

Bathroom:
Floor tile from Hobby Lobby dollhouse supplies, cut and glued on
Hexagon mirrors are scrapbooking stickers from Hobby Lobby
Hape family bathroom furniture
Botanical prints found on Pinterest

Kitchen:
Prints found on Pinterest
Tiny planter and flour sacks from Hobby Lobby dollhouse supplies
Wood flooring from Hobby Lobby dollhouse supplies, cut and glued on
Hape kitchen furniture and Hape dining room furniture

Living room:
Flooring from Hobby Lobby dollhouse supplies, cut and glued on
Hape dining room furniture and Hape media room furniture, painted
Tiny fur and pillow from my fabric stash
Prints found on Pinterest
Hexagon mirrors are scrapbooking stickers from Hobby Lobby

All floorboards and crown molding from Hobby Lobby dollhouse supplies
Annie Sloan chalk paint in Paris Grey used for the outside of the dollhouse

Broken for us.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

As I walked into our house after work last Saturday, I heard Liam whimpering upstairs in his room and Shawn came to tell me that he had just hurt his leg. Being a super active four-year-old, this isn't out of the norm. But when I got to him, I knew this was more than his typical boo-boo. Hot tears streaked down his snow-pale face as he trembled and pulled his knee to his chest. I asked him what hurt and he pointed to just below his left knee. I asked him to stretch his leg out or put weight on it, and he screeched, "No, Momma! It hurts!" and burst into another round of sobs. I'd never seen him in such agony and knew we needed to see a doctor.

Within the hour, we landed at an orthopedic urgent care clinic nearby. I carried Liam inside like a baby, wrapped in a blanket, as he shivered and cried. He had multiple x-rays done and then we waited for the doctor. At the very worst, I thought he might have sprained his knee.

As the doctor walked into the room with x-rays in hand, he asked, "Liam, can you point to where it's hurting?"

"Right here," he winced.

"I bet it's hurting right there, because you broke your leg," the doctor said calmly.

My heart must have skipped three beats. He broke his leg?

"Yes, so you can see here, he has a closed fracture of the proximal end of his left tibia" the doctor said as he turned to me. "We see these kinds of fractures in kids his age all the time. Weekly, even. Most of the time they're caused by jumping on a trampoline and not bending the knees. This isn't uncommon at all."

Within 10 minutes after that, still feeling the weight of the news, we were in the casting room and Liam was choosing a color for his toe-to-thigh cast that would stay on for 4 weeks. It's hard to explain what it feels like to watch your four-year-old's entire leg be wrapped up in a cast. I stroked his tiny leg one more time, knowing it would be covered in fiberglass for weeks. My mind wandered to the many activities he wouldn't be able to participate in for 4 to 8 weeks or more. I thought of the tiny baby growing inside me and the possible strain of carrying Liam around the house with this heavy cast.

Then I looked at Liam, who was perfectly calm. "Look at my Spiderman sticker, Momma. Isn't it awesome?"

After his cast dried, I brought Liam home to his waiting Daddy and Suzu (his grandma). Besides being in pain in the first couple days, he hasn't complained once about his new limitations. On the morning after the break, I lifted him into the dining room chair and gave him some markers as he exclaimed, "Since I can't walk now, I can draw lots and lots of pictures!" He now drives a tiny yellow wheelchair and he's become quite the expert at rounding corners.
Since last Saturday, our once chaotic Christmas season slowed to a screeching halt. We cancelled plans because of Liam's pain and limitations. We spent more time reading books together, lighting candles, admiring the Christmas tree. I get to hold him like my little baby again, his arms dangling around my neck, each time he has to use the bathroom or change locations in the house. I think this is going to be one of our very sweetest Christmases yet, even with our little guy looking like Tiny Tim.

Something special always hits me each Christmas, and it's exactly what I pray for. "Lord, give me eyes to see your glory in a fresh way. Dazzle me with the truth of your coming."

This year, as I saw that jagged grey line through Liam's tibia on the x-ray, it nearly broke my heart. A four-year-old with a broken leg just feels so unnatural, and my mama heart just breaks at the thought of him feeling pain. Then I thought about our God on the very first Christmas. The Father sent His perfect, holy Son into our dirtiest, darkest world and He knew that His Son would be broken. He'd be beaten and spit on and mocked and tortured and ultimately killed in the most humiliating way. And even knowing all of that, He sent Jesus and celebrated His arrival on the earth. He had joyfully foretold His birth for centuries before the time would come. And then the moment His Son was birthed into the world to walk among us, there was so much joy in God's heart that all of Heaven exploded in celebration. The Light had come to shatter the darkness, both now and forever. But how? And why? Because He loves us that much. You and me - sinners who deserve nothing but death. God came for us, and He didn't drag His feet about it. He lit up all of Heaven and the skies over Bethlehem that night like a proud Daddy just wanting to tell the world about His boy.

I see Liam's broken leg this Christmas and am reminded that Christ was broken for us, and willingly so. Whether you have a boy with a broken leg in your house as a reminder or not, I pray this Christmas is full of hope, knowing just how loved you are. Jesus came for you and God celebrated His coming because He knew that Jesus would bridge the gap to Himself. Let us never forget that.

Thank you, King Jesus, for gifts in such unexpected places.

Our tiny rainbow.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Just a quick note to say we are *thrilled* to be adding to our family in June 2017! (Liam is probably the most excited about the baby and will tell you it's a "baby bruhver," though we aren't finding out the gender this time around. Just wishful thinking!)

As you probably remember, we lost a baby in March (and another between Liam and Lanie), so I know the sting these announcements and inflict on those suffering through infertility or loss. Please know that I am praying today that our Redeemer God moves in your story as He has in ours.

To God be the glory, great and miraculous things He has done!

Thanksgiving this year.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

“The worst illness of our time is that so many people have to suffer from never being loved.” - Princess Diana

We spent Thanksgiving morning in our sunlit living room, watching our kids read and play and destroy the house. I'd mentioned to Shawn, "We don't really have any Thanksgiving traditions yet, do we?" He agreed, and we somewhat aimlessly headed to our favorite park to take a walk. On our way there, we stopped at the Starbucks drive thru and decided we could get Any Drink We Want. I ordered a decaf coconut milk chestnut praline latte, Shawn got a PSL, and the kids had apple juice boxes. As we pulled up to the window and waited for our grand total, the cashier said, "The gentleman in front of you just paid for your order. Happy Thanksgiving!" It made me want to cry. What a generous, random act of kindness from a complete stranger on a holiday that should be full of just that. We paid for the car behind us and our first Thanksgiving tradition was born. How kind of the Lord.

Later in the day, Liam and I took a special trip to the hospital where I work. Earlier in the week, I had cared for one patient on our floor for several days in a row who's been hospitalized for weeks. He's a pleasant man, and we spent the week talking about Thanksgiving traditions and favorite foods. He mentioned that his favorite dish was to carve out the inside of a sugar pumpkin, fill it with stuffing, then bake it. Personal-sized stuffing-filled sugar pumpkins for all! I also knew from conversations with him that he'd be alone on Thanksgiving. There would be no family and no friends to visit him this year. He seemed nonchalant about it all, but the thought just wouldn't leave me. To me, it doesn't matter if you're the cruelest curmudgeon that ever breathed air... no one should be alone on Thanksgiving.

So I told Liam about my friend at the hospital and we decided to make a visit. Liam made him a card and filled it with every sticker he could find. And I found a little sugar pumpkin.

As Liam walked into the patient's room - a tiny pumpkin in one arm, a handmade card dangling from the other - he looked up shyly and said, "Happy Fanksgiving, sir. I hope you have a great day."

The man was visibly moved. A smile enraptured his face as he held up the card with scraggly writing and said, "You know? I think this might be my favorite Thanksgiving ever."

My heart sang. I felt such a mixture of pride over this brave, beautiful little boy combined with deep sadness when I put myself in the patient's shoes. The one where a mostly bed-bound, mostly alone man orders a tray from a hospital kitchen on what's supposed to be a family- and food-stuffed holiday.

I don't share this story to boast about what we did. I share it because it humbles me. Because I can picture myself in that bed, sick and alone, and I hope that someone might take notice.

As Liam and I got in the car, he was quiet. I asked him, "Do you know why we care about people who are alone?"
"No, why?"
"Because those are the people Jesus calls the poor in spirit: those who are discouraged or sad or alone. And those are the people Jesus loves, and He asks us to love and help them, too."

I remember watching Princess Diana from afar as a little girl and noticing how, in so much of the charity work she invested in, she brought along her two little boys. They visited AIDS clinics and gave hugs. Held knobby hands of lepers. Cuddled children whose limbs had been ravaged by land mines. It would have been so much easier to stay home - in a palace, mind you - and remain untouched by such flagrant suffering. Instead, she chose to step out and has left such a legacy of kindness, for her children and for the world.

When Liam finally answered from the backseat, he only had a few words: "Can we go back tomorrow?"

I hope that your Thanksgiving was marked with a simple act of kindness, either given or received. And I hope this holiday season is marked by even more of the same.
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