My guy.

My handsome Crumb.
Love him to pieces, even in drywall dust.

Let me tell you a little bit about this guy.

He is very particular about the positioning of seats in his vehicles. He is obsessed with a clean windshield. He loses and misplaces at least one thing everyday.. typically his phone, wallet, or keys. He is not a morning person. He needs a good 30 minutes to an hour to wake up.

People who don’t know him, think he’s an angry person, but as he would say “it’s just my face”. He is daily the hands and feet of Jesus, with humility and compassion that never fades.

He does laundry, washes dishes, offers to make dinner, gets down on the ground almost every night to wrestle the boys or play nerf wars. Micah involves the boys in everything, teaching them with patience, a whole lot of love, and that gentle smile.

He’s been remodeling our house. A man that can learn and apply just about anything he wants, leaving me inspired and jealous (and annoyed) at the same time.

He’s not once complained about any of the above.

He has checked on me everyday. Asking how I’m doing, holding my hand through the waves of emotions that come crashing without warning. Making me coffee, listening to my cyclical conversations without judgement, only grace and love.

He’s been my rock. In the weeks where I have felt washed away by the sadness and pain of loss, he has anchored me in peace.

I never thought I would have the marriage that I do. Having seen unhealthy relationships and marriages growing up, I wasn’t sure what I had signed up for when Micah and I got married.

Out marriage has been unlike any relationship or marriage I knew. I couldn’t be more grateful. It’s filled with mutual respect, admiration, kindness, sacrifice. It’s beautiful, joyful, challenging and faith filled.

I am doing life with my best friend, and even as difficult as life can be sometimes, when I’ve got this guy by my side, I know I’ll get through just fine.

I’m the lucky one.

Dad.

I hold his weakening hand. It’s day 18 since the stroke, day 10 since life support was turned off.

Dads breathing stops occasionally. He opens his eyes and moves his head, but cannot see, and cannot speak.

I get hand squeezes sometimes, when I’m reading to him, or just sitting silently with him. He’s there, I know he is, even when doctors tell me otherwise.

These 18 days have felt like months. My eyes and heart are heavy. My first best friend will be with Jesus soon.

The man that built snow-forts with me.

The man that got more into school projects than we did (if only I could find a picture of the volcano I watched him build for my third grade project… we weren’t fooling anyone).

The man that worked tirelessly to provide.

The man that encouraged me my hard work would pay off.

The man that walked me down the aisle.

The man that never tired of telling me how proud he was of Cody and I.

The man that loved on my boys.

The man that came over every other Sunday to have a cup of coffee and catch up.

The man that sat with me at church and renewed his faith.

The man that began playing pool and became part of a community (a hope Cody and I always had for him).

He has not been perfect. He would be the first to admit it, but he loved. He would give the shirt off his back, say “yes ma’am, no ma’am, thank you sir”. He had a goofy sense of humor- one that my brother and I have become proud of inheriting. He never liked or wanted for anything. He was talented, kind, funny and proud.

I’ve been praying for a miracle… to come up to his room and find him sitting up, drinking coffee, and telling his dad jokes.

Only problem is that the miracle I’m praying for, may not be the miracle God will provide.

Gods miracle may be taking my dad. Mentally, physically and emotionally, this life has not been easy for him. You would never hear dad complain of it though.

I am choosing to trust god in this. As hard as it is, and as much as I want to have my way, my control, my say… I can’t.

God has taught me over and over that his ways have always been for the better…

2 days before I planned on committing suicide in college, God intervened.

In the days I never thought I’d marry, I found my fella.

In the six years I prayed and cried over wanting children, god gave Calvin and Miles to us, in his time, not ours.

I want so badly for dad to be with us, but this is a time when I can only trust gods provision.

Calvin and Miles have been so loving, so kind, so nurturing to me through this. In the midst of wiping tears from my eyes, they remind me that “grandpa with the mustache” will be in JesusLand soon.

Anyone else picture a rollercoaster theme park when you hear JesusLand? Just me?

I love it, picturing Dad sitting side by side with Jesus, his nephew Luke, his sister Cindy, grandma and grandpa Cejda. All with big smiles and hands in the air.

Whether heaven is a theme park with rollercoasters or not, I know without doubt that my dad will have freedom, joy, and peace. No more suffering.

So I hold his hand while I can. I tell him every hour I love him. I say every thing I’ve been grateful for in him. I share texts and phone calls of people praying all over the country for him. I sit here journaling and realizing how thankful I am for this time with him, before he passes. Some people don’t get that opportunity. You can look at it as a blessing or a curse, I will always choose blessing.

My brother and I are grateful to god for the 34 and 36 years we have had this man as our earthly dad. We choose to give thanks, we choose to trust.

We choose Gods ultimate healing in our dad, and have joy for dads front row seat in JesusLand.

Late night tears.

I had no idea it’d be this hard. I didn’t know the emotions that would come with it.

Here I am sitting on the couch, just after tucking the boys to bed, with tears rolling down my eyes.

Tears of gratitude that I get to be their mom.

Tears of sadness that time seems to be slipping away. Calvin’s starting kindergarten. When did he get old enough for that?

Tears that Miles is speaking full sentences, his voice changing. He’s not so little anymore.

Just as I’m trying to talk myself out of crying, Miles jumps out of his bed and comes running over asking for a hug (we are still sharing a living and bedroom space in the basement, while the upstairs gets renovated).

“Sure buddy”.

He squeezes my neck and rubs his chubby cheeks against mine, with a whisper in my ear.

“Momma, you’re the best hugger ever”.

Damn it. Release the floodgates.

“Thanks buddy, but I think you’re the best hugger ever”.

Then Calvin gets out of bed, comes over and says “Love you Mom, can I have one more hug too?”

I am sure they are just killing time so bedtime gets pushed a later, but I’d rather think that they knew mommas heart needed it.

I know there are so many things to be excited about, as they grow, I’ve witnessed so many already. I truly am excited for what’s to come for them both.

Yet, it’s hard to say goodbye to these tender young moments. It’s hard to realize just how quick they grow. When you’re with them, deep in the trenches day in and day out, you don’t notice. Then one day passes, and your kid isn’t fitting in his clothes anymore and looks (and acts) years older after a haircut.

People say from the beginning “It goes quick”. I had no idea. The days felt long, nights even longer when they were babies. I would be excited for their next milestones. Now I just want to hit pause.

But life doesn’t work that way.

So I cry a little, I get hugs from my favorite little men, and I sit in all the feelings. I soak them in, and I smile with the realization that it’s only the beginning.

Guess I should stock up on the Kleenex. ❤️

I’m still on training wheels..

My son was learning to ride his bike without training wheels this week. After five minutes he had it, and was so proud.

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Fast forward a day, and he insisted on going to a park to ride. I kept saying things to him like “buddy, just keep your eyes forward”. Every time his eyes veered he fell. He looked for me, watched others, and fell off his bike. Every time.He grew upset with each tumble, and tried to quit halfway through. I wouldn’t let him.

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“We’re going to do the whole loop bud, you got this, stop worrying so much and just ride”.

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Metaphor for life? Sure felt like it to me at the time. We spend so much time worried about falling, watching others do well, or just watch others watching us, that we only grow more insecure and frustrated with each of our falls. We just want to quit so no one sees us stumble. I’m 35, and evidently still on training wheels myself. Not wanting others to see my imperfections.

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Yesterday I stumbled when I was doing my daily workout. My health hasn’t been stellar with joint pain and feet going numb when I’m physically active. It’s an ongoing issue that has been getting worse with age. It disappears for months and then rears it’s ugly head.

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Usually I may quit, or hide it and not share it with anyone. I chose to share. Easy? Nope. Embarrassed? A little. Truth? We all fall, we all struggle.

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What if we all took off the training wheels? Practice, fall, get back up? What if we learn to let go of our insecurities and realize that we are human. These same difficulties, can bring us to know, love, and encourage others who also stumble.

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In sharing your struggles you are stronger. Find peace with your imperfections, humor in the moment, and encouragement within community.

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#ichoosejoy #momstrong #innerstrength #tryingtofindmypeace #hiddenillness #loveyourtribe #teacheronbreak #alwayslearningalwaysgrowing #youcandohardthings #mommaofboys

Sh*ts, Fits, and Bathroom Exits…

The title should say it all, (sorry to those who don’t swear, but since becoming a parent, swearing is part of my vocabulary). Friday was a day that we will not soon forget.

We were heading back home after a quick couple of days visiting my grandparents. We had an amazing time that we crammed into those two days; fishing, shell searching, museum and butterfly exhibits, setting crab traps, flying drones, and playing with bubbles. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

We took our time waking up on Friday, thinking we would have a great drive back because the boys did awesome on the way down! We only stopped when we had to eat and go to the bathroom, so it was obviously going to go that way on the way back!

Mistake #1: Assuming Kids will behave as well as they did that “other time”.

Micah decided we would take a different route home, so that we could have a more scenic view than the 4 lanes of traffic he drove through on the way down. It would mean traveling near the hub of Atlanta, GA to get to the mountains in TN.

Mistake #2: If it’s not broke, DON’T fix it.

I also decided to be the person to find the hotel room for the night. We knew our destination, and I figured I could find a good deal.

Mistake #3: Don’t let the cheap/frugal person find the place to stay for the night….

So we load up in “The Beast”(Micah’s truck), and set off as the sun is coming up. Miles had been a little extra cranky the night before, and woke up quite a bear, but we figured he was just hangry and sad to be leaving. We filled his hands and lap with snack foods and promised we would be coming back again.

Hours later, as time for lunch drew near, the boys had been bickering back and forth so this tired mama ran interference as Dad drove and focused on the road. We stopped and ate, used the bathroom, got a little fresh air in our lungs and then climbed back into the beast. It was going to be a good day, we were determined.

20 minutes later, we’re sitting in 4 lanes of traffic, completely at a standstill with no way to get out, and Calvin starts to wine. He says he has to poop. Parents, you know that feeling of complete irritation after telling your kids, “Last chance for awhile, lets go while we can”? Micah and I were irritated. Don’t forget we were in 4 lanes of traffic, on the outskirts of Atlanta, in the farthest lane from the closest exit. As Micah and I read Calvin the riot act for not going while we were eating lunch, Micah inched his way over and sped around the ramp to get to the nearest gas station. We pull in, not paying attention to foul odors, or the Christmas lights that bordered the windows and the doors. Mission” Get our 5 year old to the nearest toilet” was on. Micah grabbed a very upset and embarrassed Calvin (who never has issues) to run him into the toilet. I get out and went to open Miles’ door to get him, and his treasure of shells falls onto the pavement. Miles freaks, as some of his shells shattered, and I try to pick them up and keep my cool. I get him out of the truck, and he insists there’s more shells. I tell him there’s not, but he was focused. He begins to pick up the dried up gum and cigarette butts to put in his basket of shells. I throw them down, carry him in to wash his hands, only to find Micah and Calvin standing frustrated that the only toilet in the men’s restroom is being used by someone that must have had taco bell for lunch. Micah had asked Calvin to go in the women’s restroom, and Calvin came out telling him he couldn’t. So, I get in, grab Calvin’s hand and lead him in, as Micah holds our three year old who is losing it over dried up gum and cigarette butts.

Calvin and I walk in. Toilet 1: filled to the brim, THE BRIM with toilet paper and feces. We both hold our breath, turn quickly, and go to toilet 2. Toilet 2 was worse. The four of us ran to the truck, jumped in, and so began a chase for the nearest bathroom. Curbs were jumped, yelling kids were buckled in the back, and Micah and I were not talking, simply focused on getting Calvin to the bathroom. We knew he would hold it, after all he hasn’t had an accident in over a year.

Nope. After all that jumping, dodging, and literally running into the bathroom, he couldn’t keep it in. Underwear was tossed, Calvin cleaned up, and Miles, on to yelling about something else.

“It’s ok, the worst is over” we both thought. Back in the truck, and more bumper to bumper traffic awaited us for another hour.

I continued to run interference, stuffing kids faces with popcorn, oranges, games, books, and crayons. They were needy. So needy. Never this bad. Micah drove. We made it to where Micah wanted to go: the Smokies. Why was the map showing that the next 45 miles would take over 2 hours? Because for the next two hours we would be going 20 mph through the mountains. Micah an I were tired at this point, but the boys excitement made it worth it. We got excited for each tunnel, each view of a mountain or waterfall. Calvin said at one point, “Mama, can we climb these together someday?”. My heart melted, “Of course buddy! Hiking is one of my favorite things to do!”.

We got out of the mountains and were minutes away from hotels in Knoxville TN. I had found a great deal with an indoor pool and it was going to be awesome!! Free breakfast and place for mom and dad to stretch and regroup! I had a headache and was ready to get out of the truck.

We passed all of the main hotels, and drove through some subdivisions and business districts before finding it. It didn’t look like the pictures I saw. “Oh well” I thought, no big deal! They used stock photos, it’ll be fine. I checked in, we pulled our suitcases out at 7:40pm, and walked to the hotel door. Our room was on the inside of the building, facing the indoor pool. Door opens, and instant odor is smelled. A desk chair is blocking the way to the bathroom, and stuck between the bed and the desk. So it smelled A little cigarette, a little animal, but the beds were comfy, we had tv with basic channels, and damn it the boys wanted to swim! That was our goal for the night. I sat Miles on to use the toilet before we went to the pool, he was screaming because it wasn’t “HIS” toilet seat, so he refused to do anything. I had debated on searching for another hotel, as we all felt a little grossed out, but was told that every hotel was booked for some technical competition at the college. Sure enough, no hotels had a room.

Micah and I are wiped, bags under both of our eyes, but Calvin and Miles were jumping up and down to get to the pool. Calvin and Micah get in, Miles is pacing. We know he needs to go. Micah sees my patience gone, and offers to take him. Calvin and I wade in the water, Micah and Miles come out from the room; nothing. Micah gets back in, Miles offers to sit on the step, still noticeably irritated. He glares at me, and I’m ready for the next meltdown. Micah behind him, says, “He’s going poop Autumn”. In the shallows of the pool, a floater comes out. I scoop it up with my hand and throw it out. No one was around…Thank goodness. More comes out on the cement surrounding the pool. We clean it up quickly and rush to the hotel room. Micah and Calvin stay and continue to swim, because damn it, this is why we’re here! I am silent as I pull down Miles pants in the hotel bathroom to see that it’s diarrhea. He had eaten some dairy, which he shouldn’t have… so I start the water to give him a bath. No plug in the tub, and hairs were found. I sigh, as Miles stares up at me, I clean the tub, stuff the hole with a washcloth, and have him sit down.

There are VERY few things that gross me out. Blood, vomit, cuts, open sores, whatever….I’ve seen a lot of these things with my classroom and my students who typically have medical conditions that need medical attention.

But poop in water. This mama gags. Can’t do it. So as quickly as possible, without saying a word, I scrub Miles up, I clean out the tub. Trying not to vomit. Mom win: I did it.

Calvin and Micah come in, it’s 8:30. No dinner yet. Micah offers to go get it, because nothing is nearby. He leaves, the boys and I watch March Madness while he’s gone, listening to the college kids jumping and screaming in the pool. Footsteps above us, clear as day conversations happening in the rooms to the left and right of us. Micah comes back, I scarf down my food, lay down, and roll over, passing out as quickly as my eyes will shut.

2:50am, I open my eyes to find Micah sitting up out of bed, wide awake. Staring at me.

“What do you think about getting a head start?”

We had a 10 hour drive ahead, and honestly I just wanted to be home. I joked with Micah that he was never going to let me book a hotel again. He laughed, but didn’t say no.

Boys still asleep, Micah loaded the truck up, and we carried each sleeping boy out and put them in their car seats. Young college men and women were out in the hallways, talking and laughing at 3am.

We used to do that. Now we are middle aged, with toddlers, exhausted and praying we find a good cup of coffee.

They slept for another 4 hours, Micah drove, and I tried to keep conversation, but I didn’t have it in me.I passed out.

Later, Micah and I began laughing about the previous 24 hours. Our boys were insane. We saw more poop than we wanted, lost a total of three pairs of underwear to a three year old who refused to poop on a different toilet, sat in traffic jams for hours to get a mountain view, and slept in a hotel that could have been in a horror movie. We were crazy.

I asked Micah if he ever slept, and he said a little. After I had passed out, the boys fell asleep and Micah had heard more conversations from what felt like roommates in our hotel room. He also decided to share that he thought there was a group of guys making meth in the back of a van in our hotel parking lot when he went to grab dinner. I laughed hysterically as I explained about the technical competition that the hotel clerk informed me of (I had forgot to mention that to Micah).

That was the worst travel day we’ve ever had with the boys. Miles is in this “Terrible Threes” that really is difficult. He challenges us all with his attitude, and refuses to be wrong. Calvin is the older brother that has to tease and pick on him. Micah and I felt like we were nonstop telling them to knock it off. Amidst all of the above things that also happened.

Micah told me after he tucked the boys in the bed, they were talking about some of their favorite things from the trip. You know what made the top three?

Mountains and Tunnels.

Perspective can be such a funny thing. Micah and I were so focused on all the crap (literal and figurative) of the travel that day, while Calvin and Miles were elated to be in the mountains. To have the eyes of a child…..

All we wanted was to create memories….mission accomplished!