He’s Getting Married

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 1 Comments A+ a-

Technically he’s a brother-in-law, my husband’s brother, someone I acquired through marriage. But in reality, he’s more brother than an in-law.

He was 13 years old when Jon and I started dating, and made all the appropriate faces and sounds whenever Jon and I were affectionate or kissed. He’s the one that fought with Jon on the phone extension when he needed the phone and we’d extended our hour-long conversation by another 20 minutes. I went with the family to his junior high soccer games, sitting in the bleachers and cheering him on. We played football in the street during Super Bowl half-times and walked around in downtown Denver during one of Jon’s birthday celebrations. There was even a time or two when he got me in trouble during our, um, wilder days, and rightfully so, but trust me when I say I wanted to wring his little neck at the time.Devyn_and_Uncle_Brock

He brought Holly home to meet the family during Christmas of 2007. They walked through the door, he was as proud as could be with Holly on his arm. By the end of that visit, I looked at Jon and announced, “That’s her. She’s the one.” They were young and I wasn’t suggesting they jump into marriage that year or any time soon for that matter, but she brought out a tenderness and softness in Brock that I hadn’t seen in some time. It was quite obvious how much he adored her.IMG00165-20100828-2021

On Friday he and Holly are exchanging vows in the Colorado mountains, in the very town that they met and fell in love. I’m sure it’ll be a memorable day, and my prayer is that they’ll grow and change together in the years to come. That they’ll remain strong in their commitment to making their marriage work, that they’ll continue to be best friends.

Now if only I can wrap my head around the fact that the 13-year-old boy I first met is actually going to be a husband.

A Reason to Celebrate

Monday, August 30, 2010 7 Comments A+ a-

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Last Friday, my dad was the same age as his dad when his dad passed away. To the day. On Saturday Dad had officially lived a day longer than his own. Its a morbid thing to celebrate, right?

Let me back up. My dad lost his dad at the very young age of 22 years old, it affected him greatly. I know of many people who measure their lives in the before and after of such events. For instance, our family (not Jon and I, but my sisters and parents) measures our family history as Before Anorexia and After Anorexia. Life took on two very different views after my sister, Allison, beat that eating disorder.

And my dad happens to measure his own life in terms of his dad’s death. As each of us have passed that 22 year milestone (the age he lost his dad), he has taken each daughter out to celebrate. He celebrated that last milestone with my youngest sister, Courtney, last year. This left only one more milestone for my dad to achieve, to live longer than his own dad. And on Saturday night, when he achieved that “goal” our family went out to celebrate at his favorite restaurant.

Trust me, it seems morbid, even to us. But I also have to remember that my dad has lived without having father for most of his adult life. As Dad became first a husband, then a father, he had no one to turn to for advice or with his fears. He had no one to guide him through some of life’s trials, no grandpa to hand off his daughters to in the hospital once they were born, no one to take out for Father’s Day baseball games, no one to stop and tell him that they were proud of the man he’d become.

And because we knew how much this day meant to him, and how much we love having him here with us, we celebrated. We celebrated our father’s life and the fact that we still have our Daddy to go to for advice or with our fears or for affirmation. And we celebrate that our Dad has held more grandchildren in his arms than Grandpa Al ever got the opportunity to do so.

Happy Day After Dad!

Not For the Faint of Heart

Thursday, August 26, 2010 11 Comments A+ a-

I’m using this time to give ample warning to those of you with a weak stomach, or those who simply have no desire to see blood, muscles, or human tissue.  The following post entails both pictures and descriptions of all, so please feel free to skip past this post in its entirety.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Most Wednesdays will find us at my parents house, along with Christine and Elliana.  Its Mom’s usual day off, the cousins love to play together, and afternoons are usually spent making baked goods.  They’re low-key days spent talking and catching up, and corralling the kids while they play and fight like siblings.  Yesterday was no different, with the exception that Devyn was now in kindergarten and needed to be picked up from school in the middle of the day.  Mom and Christine offered to watch Reagan and Hudson for me while I picked her up.

Devyn and I were in mid-conversation about the best and worst parts of her day when my cell phone rang.  It was Christine, extremely agitated and panicky, demanding to know where we were.  As I tried telling her that we were less than a mile away from Mom and Dad’s, all I could get hear were the words “Emergency Room” “Call an ambulance” and “You won’t be here fast enough.”  My initial thought was that something had happened to one of the kids but Christine finally clarified to hurry home, that Neighbor Diane, would take Mom to the ER.  My heart raced as I drove the rest of the way home and pulled up, just as Diane and Mom took off for the hospital. 

I got Devyn out of the car and ran inside the house, but not without first noticing the broken shards of glass all over the front porch, along with a trail of blood leading to the inside.  Christine literally thrust the phone at me, telling me it was Dad, and that I had to get to the hospital.  Dad asked that I call him once I had more information and if it was serious enough that he had to get off work and meet us there.  I promised, and with an air kiss to the little ones, I was out the door.

I ran into Diane in the waiting room, thanked her profusely for getting Mom to the hospital, and was taken back to see her.  I had no idea what to expect, I still didn’t even have a complete story as to what happened, and was concerned at my initial sight of the wound but not too worried.  I stayed with her while they took her vitals, got the full story of what had happened, and waited for Mom’s instructions as to what she wanted me to do next.  It looked like a nasty flesh wound that would require a number of stitches, but apparently hadn’t seen the full extent of her injury yet.  When Mom sent me off to make some calls, she asked for her cell phone, which I denied seeing as how she was in no place to make calls or place texts.

I called Dad, told him to get to the hospital, and proceeded to share the story with my sisters, grandmas, and aunt.  Mom still has some residual side affects from the Guillian-Barre syndrome she had during the winter of 2008-2009, there have been times when she has gone to take a step and her leg hasn’t moved the way she wanted and she’s stumbled.  Until now, there hasn’t been any injuries due to her stumbling, just some bruised pride.  This time, however, she was holding a ceramic pitcher to water her flowers and when her leg didn’t move like she wanted it to, she fell on top of the pitcher.  While it broke her fall, it also put a huge gash in her arm.  All Christine remembers about the gash is the amount of blood, the sight of skin and muscles hanging off her arm, and fearing that Mom was going to pass out on her.  Poor Chris!

When I made my way back to Mom’s bedside, they were irrigating her wound, and I got my first glimpse of just how serious her injury was.  Muscles had been torn away, you could see tendons, and there was a gaping hole in her arm.  Needless to say, it was one of the most disgusting things I’ve seen in my entire life.  As they tried to get Mom to flex her fingers and hand, it soon became apparent that she’d done some damage to some tendons and the doctor called me over to show me where the tendons had been cut.  I was both too horrified and too awed to look away, and secretly pleased when they suggested we take pictures.

An x-ray was taken to make sure there was no more glass in the wound, the surgeon was called to make a decision about surgery, and when it was decided the cuts were too close to the muscles for surgery now, stitches were started.  All in all, there were 20-25 stitches, both on the inside to sew her muscles back in place, and to close the gaping wound.  Mom is on antibiotics and pain killers, and has an appointment with the surgeon this afternoon to see if she needs to have surgery on those tendons.  GashGallery

All in all, an eventful afternoon in our family.  And as everyone was joking with Mom, she never does anything halfway indeed!

Decisions, Decisions

Sunday, August 22, 2010 8 Comments A+ a-

How does one write a blog post about something you feel strongly and/or passionate about without alienating others who feel differently than you? And how do you take a stance on either side of an issue without creating a polarizing effect with those on the other side? If you've figured it out, I'd love to hear how you did it because I have yet to discover the answer.

There are so many issues on the table for parents to decide on, and there's so much to go into those decisions. There's the research, weighing the pros and cons, seeking advice from those you respect, and most importantly, laying it at the Father's feet and wait for some clear direction.

Then once a decision has been made, there's the added pressure from peers, friends, and families. There's always someone willing to give their two cents on the decision you made and feel is best for your children and family. Even strangers will chime in with well-intentioned advice, never mind if you weren't asking for it. Which can lead to one of two reactions, putting you on the defensive or making you second-guess yourself. Good times.

We've made plenty of decisions since becoming parents, from the kind of birth we wanted to feeding and diapering our children to the discipline we mete out to the homeschool vs. private school vs. public school discussion. Some decisions we'd make again in a heartbeat, others we'd revisit, and still others would not be made again. Regardless, at the time those decisions were made, we felt strongly that we'd done the appropriate research, we felt good about the decisions we were making, and believed it was the best decision for our family.

There are a number of things I'd love to discuss on my own blog about our decisions. I'd love to discuss our reasons behind choosing to public school our children, or why I so enjoy cosleeping with our new babies, or even my thoughts on being a newly-stay-at-home mom. But I fear to do so would create a polarization effect that in turn could either put someone on the defensive or make them feel like they were somehow wrong in their parenting decisions.

I haven't quite figured out the equation that allows me to share my reasonings and opinions behind some of our decisions. If I ever do figure out the perfect, choice selection of words, I'll be happy to share. But I guess until that time comes, I'll have to be content with one-on-one conversations and discussions. After all, differing opinions can only further enrich our knowledge and in turn, our own decisions in the future.
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A Bittersweet Milestone

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 13 Comments A+ a-

Last night I was roused out of a deep sleep by Devyn’s horrified cries of, “Mama!  Mama!  Mama!”  Its the worst way to be woken up, but I’ve gotten used to the rare night terrors that interrupt her sleep.  She rarely remembers waking up screaming, often never even wakes up at all, but they do a number on this mama’s heart rate.  As I rushed into her room last night, she fell out of bed, and as I tucked her back beneath the covers, I knew she never even woke in the first place.  I could have easily gone back into my own room, fallen back asleep, but I didn’t. 

I suddenly remembered what this day was bringing and lowered myself to her bed instead, wrapping my arms around my baby girl, and let the tears fall.  One even landed on her arm, and she brushed the wetness away in her sleep.  For the next 20 minutes, I soaked in Devyn.  I let the memories wash over me, it was like a slideshow as I watched her age from newborn to baby to toddler to preschooler.  I remembered the jolt of love that consumed me from the moment they laid her on my chest.  And I mourned the end of this phase of her life.  I wondered at the phrase, “Cherish each moment, it goes so fast” over and over.  The words so cliche, so quick to describe this phase of motherhood, and I couldn’t help but wonder at the truth of them.  It goes so fast.

I prayed.  I prayed fervently for her heart and for her protection.  I prayed that she’d be a light in the classroom, that she’d hang on to her independence with fierceness, and I prayed for her teacher and classmates, those she’d be spending every afternoon with for the next nine months.  I prayed with everything I could muster, and if prayer alone could sustain my Devyn, I made sure it would. 

After one last sweep of her brow, and a gentle kiss on her cheek, I made my way back to my own bed.  As I laid there, Ashlynn decided to wake up and make her presence known with some kicks and movements, and I rubbed the spot where she’d last kicked; tears running down my cheeks as I remembered that not too long ago, it was Devyn I cradled in my belly.  And again I was awed at God’s timing of blessing us with a newborn at the same time of sending our oldest off to school; there’s some bittersweet symbolism there.

As I predicted, Devyn woke far earlier than I wanted this morning.  When I opened my eyes, she stood at the side of my bed, already dressed in her outfit of choice for the big day.  She was none too pleased when I made her take it off for breakfast and play time.  The pancakes I made were no match for the excitement bubbling around inside of her and she left an almost full plate for Hudson to have as seconds.  I can’t tell you the number of times she asked if it was time to get dressed, or time to go, and she bounced her way through lunch.  There were moments of tears as I looked at my baby, now a little girl, but they were quickly dried by the sight of anticipation in her eyes.  Then finally… finally… it was time to go.

I left Devyn sitting next to her preschool friend, Shyann, in a circle, on the carpet, in a new classroom, with a new teacher and my heart ached.  She never looked more ready, or more independent, or more beautiful, and I knew it was time to say good-bye.  Hudson ran up to Devyn, through the middle of the circle, for one last hug, and we left our precious girl there.

I’m already counting down the minutes until we can pick her up.

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There is no order to this post.

Sunday, August 15, 2010 3 Comments A+ a-

We have a 30-40 minute drive to church. I've decided its a perfect time for blogging. But I'm warning you, there's no rhyme or reason to this post.

My mom took Devyn shopping yesterday. It was supposed to be for her 1st Day of School outfit. I'll let you guess how many outfits she came home with. And you can't forget the shoes. And the headbands. Basically Devyn is shiny and new from head to toe. Thanks Mom and Dad! Its a huge blessing!

We had our appointment with the school district on Friday and regretfully told them we wouldn't be needing their services this year. It was a good meeting, but essentially it was the all or nothing option, and neither of us is comfortable putting our 3-year-old in school for 4 days a week. The mom guilt set in as soon as we got in the car. I'm fairly certain that we did the right thing, but there's always the niggling doubt. We have some other ideas to help Hudson along with his speech. I'll be sure to keep you posted about how those pan out.

Last night, we celebrated my dad's birthday with a family bbq. As we started getting ready to go home, Hudson asked if he could have a sleepover at Nana and Papa's house. He whooped for joy when we said yes, and his excitement was even more obvious when he said, "Daddy, you leave now."

I had my 24-week check-up on Friday and literally almost gagged as the smell of the glucose drink brought deja vu. You'd think after the 4th time of doing this, I could pull on my big girl panties and just do it. But no. I literally had to hold my nose to chugg that nasty stuff. I highly doubt it'll come back positive for gestational diabetes since I've never had it with the other three. But I'm a huge believer in "better safe than sorry".

Along those lines, I gained five pounds in four weeks. Yippy skippy. So that puts me at a gain of 13 pounds based on my pre-pregnancy weight, which really isn't bad. But based on the fact that I was still at +5 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight with Reagan, I'm a little antsy about losing all this weight again. I have a slowing metabolism and age to battle this time around too. But, as I keep telling myself, it is all worth it. Grow, Miss Ashlynn, grow!

Reagan has developed a new bedtime routine. Gone are the days of simply laying down, pulling the blanket over her face, and drifting off to sleep. Now she's developed a game of throwing her pacifier over the side and screaming until Devyn gets out of her own bed and gives it back to her. She then repeats the game a few minutes later. Its all well and good until Devyn decides she's too tired to play anymore and falls asleep in spite of Reagan's screaming. At which point, Jon and I must go in there and hand her back the pacifier.

Devyn wore one of her new dresses to church this morning. As she twirled and preened in front of our mirror this morning, she told me, "I like the way this dress makes me feel." I want to know when she thought she had permission to grow up.

She starts kindergarten on Tuesday. I can't even think about it without getting teary. Pregnancy hormones and a milestone for our oldest do not make for a good combination. I can only imagine the blubbering, emotional mess I'm going to be on Tuesday. Prepare yourself for a wordy post that afternoon.

I am so looking forward to fall. The mornings are getting cooler and crisper. It brings visions of pumpkins, sweaters, boots, autumn colors, the smells of spice, nutmeg, and all things homey, of settling into a new routine with school, MOPS, and Awanas, of snuggling in our house as a family. I just love that we get all four seasons in Colorado.

There's more I'm forgetting, I'm sure of it. Pregnancy brain is in full force and I can't begin to tell you the number of things I've done recently. One of which involved using my car's key fob to attempt to lock my front door. (Yes, Jon still shakes his head at that one.) So until my blubbery, emotional post commemorating Devyn's big day...

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Heartache Redeemed

Thursday, August 12, 2010 4 Comments A+ a-

This was written last week, after news of good numbers.  Since I wrote this and have waited permission to post it, Christine received another set of great numbers and saw a beautiful heartbeat this afternoon.  You can see her announcement here…

I’d briefly mentioned that circumstances had forced Jon and I to take a second look at this unexpected surprise, and see it for the blessing that it is.  Unfortunately, it was a lesson learned at the expense of my sister’s heartache and we all mourned with her as Christine and Caleb experienced their second miscarriage in less than three years.  She and Caleb have been trying for about six months now to conceive a sibling for Elliana, another child for their family and we were ecstatic when they announced their pregnancy in June.  It was not meant to be and in watching Christine grapple with her loss, it forced us to drop to our knees in thanks for a healthy pregnancy and child.  No longer was this baby taken for granted, perhaps considered an inconvenience to our plans, but truly treasured and cherished.  I only wish it hadn’t been a loss on Christine’s behalf to discover it.

When it became apparent that Christine was miscarrying, the doctor was firm that Christine and Caleb take a month off from trying.  Both to let her body heal and to allow Christine and Caleb to process their loss, and focus on each other, not on the goal of getting pregnant.  And during this last month, that’s exactly what they did.

I’ve mentioned before that Christine has Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and this condition does not allow her body to ovulate on her own.  I can remember from high school on, she simply did not have any cycles without the help of birth control pills.  She even took a break from those pills during her early 20s to see if anything had changed; two years later and not one cycle to show for it, we finally convinced her to go back on the pill and get to the doctor.  It was at that time she was diagnosed with PCOS, she and Caleb were not yet engaged when she got that diagnosis.  They knew the road they’d face when it came time to conceive a child.  And oh, a road it has been, with more valleys than hills, more trials than jubilations, but they’ve traveled it together, steadfast and strong in their faith in God and in each other.

As the month of putting their journey on hold came to an end, Christine took prometrium, a hormone that pushes her into a cycle so they could start a new cycle and then the clomid that helps her ovulate.  The first day after she finished her last dose came and went with no cycle in sight.  The 2nd day passed, and then the 3rd day passed, still with no cycle in sight and a very frustrated woman wondering how else her body had failed her.  It was on that 3rd day that a friend wondered aloud if she could be pregnant already and Christine allowed the niggling thought to remain in the back of her mind.  On the 4th day, Christine took a test and was shocked as the dark, pink line appeared.  A line that was already darker, more pronounced, than any of the tests she’d taken the month before. 

And with fear in her voice, we all received the news early in the morning that without trying, without the help of clomid, she and Caleb had conceived for a fourth time.  It was shocking to us all, to say the least.  Christine does not ovulate on her own; it just doesn’t happen.  We all waited with bated breath for the first results of her blood test, a test measuring the hcg (a pregnancy hormone) in her blood, and a sigh of relief when it was already a higher number than last month’s initial test.  We have walked on egg shells and tip toes throughout the weekend, willing Monday to get here faster so Christine could take a second test, the more telling test of the viability of this pregnancy.  It was a nail-biting afternoon, wondering if the doctor had forgotten to call, if God would allow Christine and Caleb to keep this baby, wondering if it was good news or bad.  We whooped and cried when the test showed the numbers and the hcg doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.  Its looks as though Christine and Caleb will be welcoming another child into their home some time in the spring.

It has been an honor to walk this journey with them!  To see how God answers prayers in the most amazing way, to see God show His glory in ways unimaginable.  If this story doesn’t prove that God is bigger than medicine, that He is bigger than our plans and circumstances, I don’t know what does.  When Christine and Caleb least thought it possible, He stepped into the void and answered their prayers in a way they never imagined. 

Please join me in thanksgiving and giving glory to God, for He alone could have come up with a story like this.  And help me to cover Christine and Caleb in prayer in the weeks and months ahead, its a scary journey when they’ve experienced losses like theirs. We ask for your prayers for the health of Christine and Baby, for a safe and healthy pregnancy.  Its going to be an exciting journey, watching their heartache being redeemed!

24 Weeks and Feeling It

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 9 Comments A+ a-

Its been a little while since I’ve last posted.  There’s no reason in particular, especially since I have a number of posts constantly rolling around in my head.  And they’re so eloquently written at 2:00am too!  But finding the time to actually sit and put those thoughts down is hard right now.  Jon is actually grilling burgers at the moment and while I was thinking of it, I thought I’d update you all on pregnancy #4.

24Weeks.Ashlynn

How Far Along:

24 Weeks and 1 Day

Size of Baby:

11 – 12 inches long, approximately 1.3 lbs.

Total Weight Gain/Loss:

Surprisingly I have no idea.  We don’t own a scale and I don’t have an OB appointment until Friday.  But based on belly size, I’d say a lot since Miss Ashlynn seems to have hit a growth spurt.

Maternity Clothes:

Oh yes, definitely in maternity clothes and my belly is already starting to peek from underneath the bottom of some shirts. 

Gender:

Baby #4 equals Girl #3, Miss Ashlynn Rose.  I love being able to call her by name.

Movement:

The other night I woke Jon and grabbed his hand as Ashlynn was doing gymnastics in there.  Her movements were all over the place and keeping me awake.  I loved it!

What I Miss:

Having energy.  While its definitely picked up in the 2nd trimester, I still feel so limited by my lack of motivation and energy. And since nesting has kicked in, I have so much I want to do and am dealing with the frustration of not getting it done.

Sleep:

Ugh.  Remember those posts I mentioned I write in my head at 2:00am, its only because I’m waking a few times a night due to being hungry or having to go to the bathroom.

Symptoms:

Nausea seems to have taken a hike, only showing up once a week or so.  For that, I am so very grateful!  I am still hungry all the time and not getting good sleep.

Best Moment This Week:

Devyn looking at my belly and exclaiming in a loud voice, “Mama!  Your belly is getting huge!”

What I’m Looking Forward To:

I have some concerns I want to talk to the doctor about at my OB appointment on Friday, and I’m not looking forward to my glucose test.  But this is just further proof to me how fast this pregnancy is flying!

The Results

Wednesday, August 04, 2010 8 Comments A+ a-

The summary of Hudson’s assessment from the school district came today. It essentially said exactly what we thought it would say.

First, the highlights.

Hudson readily sat in a chair when asked and and willingly completed tasks presented to him. He was motivated to finish each of the tasks. (Paraphrasing here.) He was able to sort bears by colors, match pictures and shapes, identified big and little objects, identified colors, and recognized many numbers. (Quoting again.) Hudson demonstrated good focus and attention throughout the assessment and exhibited a cute sense of humor. When looking at a book, he was able to share what was happening on each page, using 3-4 word responses… answering a variety of “wh” questions (who, what, where).

Second, the lowlights.

His connected speech was intelligible 60% of the time with context and more without context. He relied on eye contact, smiles, and laughter to engage, especially when he was uncertain of the vocabulary. The Structured Photographic Assessment Test 11 was administered to evaluate sound production. He obtained a… score of 68. This placed him in the 5th percentile. Hudson demonstrated difficulty producing all consonant clusters (/s/ and /l/ blends). He omitted syllables from 3 syllable words.

Summary.

Hudson is an engaging and happy 41 month old boy who comes from a loving and supportive family. His early learning and social skills are within age expectations. His understanding and use of language is within developmental expectations. Hudson’s intelligibility of speech is significantly impacted by multiple sound errors.

Our thoughts.

We’re not surprised. We have no question that his learning skills, development skills, motor skills, and social skills are all on target, that was never a concern of ours. We never doubted that he understood what we were saying to him, nor did we question that he knew what he wanted to say. It was simply that we had a hard time understanding him. So, really there are no surprises here.

Our next appointment is next Friday with the Speech Language Pathologist and Special Education Teacher to discuss their suggestions how to best handle Hudson’s speech delays. I’m determined to go into the meeting with an open mind, and hopefully they’ll have more than one suggestion because if the only option is preschool, 4 days a week, 4 hours a day, then I’m afraid we’ll be declining that option. Our reasoning is that at 3 years old, Hudson does not need to be attending “school” an hour longer every week than his older sister. This is simply what’s best for our son, at this age; in our opinion, its just too much, too early.

On the other hand, coming in the 5th percentile for speech intelligibility does not sit well with me, and I’d love for any other options to start addressing it now. In my mind, an ideal solution would be at allow Hudson to attend the preschool two days a week, or work individually with a speech therapist once a week. However, if it comes down to the all vs. nothing option, then we’re perfectly content to wait until next spring to have Hudson assessed again at 4 years of age and if they still find his speech intelligibility lacking, then we’ll enroll him in the 4-day-a-week preschool at that time. We’re especially encouraged since Hudson’s speech has grown by leaps and bounds during these past 2 months; we can only imagine what it would be like a year from now.

But I am curious and I am asking for your thoughts and opinions on the subject. If you were in our shoes, how would you handle this situation? Would preschool be the option for you? Would you wait a year before having him assessed again? Or would you go another route all together? I truly would love to hear what you have to say about it. All I ask is that its kept civil and respectful, especially if you think we’re making a mistake. But please feel free to share.

As for next Friday’s meeting, prayers would be greatly appreciated and I’ll be more than happy to share our final decision.

A Public Service Announcement

Monday, August 02, 2010 8 Comments A+ a-

There are very few things in this world that I hate; I might be agitated or annoyed by many things but rarely do I attach the word “hate” to many of them. I wrote about one of the things I hate here. But I’m going to write about another thing I hate today.

I hate that we live in a world where I have to have these conversations with my 3- and 5-year-old. I hate that we live in a world that I even have to give my children the appropriate skills to deal with these type of situations. I hate that something so ugly and disgusting even happens to children and their innocence; children are to be protected, kept safe, and their innocence defended. Yet time and time again, children are harmed irreparably when adults, sometimes an adult they trust, take advantage of their innocence and take away their trust. And should anyone, and I mean ANYONE, touch one hair on my child, or even look at them with a sideways glance, that person should seek protection right away. My Mama Bear instincts will emerge and I fear for that person, I truly do. Let that be a warning.

We’ve had the swimsuit conversation with Devyn before, and have recently started having the same conversation with Hudson. Simply put, no one is allowed to touch the parts of their body that is covered by a swimsuit, with the exception of needing to be cleaned, or medicine applied, or being examined by a doctor. There hasn’t been just one conversation, but a continuous conversation as questions are asked, or scenarios laid forth for clarification. But they get the overall gist that its their body and no one gets to touch them, ever. Of course there’s the usual giggling during bath time and the testing of boundaries, but they get it.

Have I mentioned I hate there’s even a need to even have to talk to them about it?!

But my conversations with Devyn have taken a different route lately, a route that I knew I’d have to tackle someday and I’m sad that at 5 years old, she’s already dealing with these kinds of feelings. But again, I’m determined to give my children the skills they need and to empower them to say “no” when needed. I’ve noticed as of lately that Devyn has started pulling away from hugs, cuddles, or hair playing; its not all the time and not with every person but nonetheless, she has started feeling uncomfortable when some people touch her and Jon and I agreed that we needed to address it.

And yesterday I bit the bullet and started what I’m sure is the first of many conversations to come. As much as she could comprehend at 5 years old, she now knows that if she doesn’t like being touched, she has the absolute power, authority, and permission to tell that person to stop. We even practiced it a few times as she quietly said, “Please stop, I don’t like that.” We’ll practice a few more times, enough to where she’s comfortable and sure of herself should she ever have to actually use it in real life. So to family and friends, here’s your public service announcement for the day. Our children do have permission to set the boundaries they’re comfortable with, they do have our permission to not hug or kiss if they don’t feel comfortable with it. It was a little odd coming to this conclusion, seeing as we’re a very affectionate, touchy-feely family, but if we want our children to have the confidence we desire for their lives, then this was the right decision and conversation to have.

I pray for their protection every day, for insight should something be amiss, and the strength to continue to have candid conversations, even when they make me uncomfortable, with my children. Truth be told, there are times as an adult that I wish I had the confidence to set boundaries in certain situations. Who knows? Maybe I’ll learn a lesson or two from my children. In the mean time, I feel like I’m doing what I can to protect them and equip them at the same time. And I’m praying with fervor that their innocence is never taken.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming…