A Far Green Country

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“End?  No, the journey doesn’t end here.  Death is just another path, one that we all must take.  The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it… White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.” 

Tolkien

-MbM-

Going Before

Her face literally glowed with her peaceful smile as she looked up at me.  It was the first week in the radiation center in the late Fall of 2012 and I’d fallen into treatment routine, into exhaustion, and honestly, into a sense of self-pity that Chase’s diagnosis was one of the worst I’d heard of at that time.

And then I met this woman.  She was petite, energetic, had the biggest smile, and was waiting for her son.  She sat folded into a kid’s chair in the play room while her older daughter danced across the room doing math facts on the white board and checking in to make sure she got it right.  As the blond girl and the math facts moved around us, this woman with the peaceful smile would tell me that her son had a cancer with no cure.  They knew it from the beginning: every treatment was but a buyer of time.  And as I worked to accept the words that came from her mouth, she spoke of knowing True Peace and making the most of what they were given.  In her own words, describing the same moment by moment refrain that I was coming to know.  She’d gone before me, into harder places, and her wisdom held me up in those first weeks and new treatments.

Within a month, I’d stand in the radiation center and cheer on her darling son as he graduated.  Bald and emaciated with his “radiation tan”, he got his coin and his certificate and he was done.  As I watched him stand there, I was so encouraged that Chase would soon be done.  Rusty had gone before us that way and seemed to say “Hey, this can be done.

And then the good news came as Chase finished radiation the following month.  A reprieve had been granted and Rusty’s health was strong.

Our families saw each other rarely even as we shared some doctors and hospital floors.  But this is the strange bonding of cancer.  People may be different as night and day or live in far away places and yet, in unusual ways, we become brothers, sisters and neighbors because of the halls of a children’s oncology ward.  One time, while Chase lay too weak to rise and the central line bled out (again), Rusty was being prepared for hearing assistance and he made a special trip upstairs with a picture he’d colored just to cheer Chase up.  He stood by Chase’s bed and as he had done at radiation, he seemed to go before and say “Hey, this can be done”.  His hair was back and his color was good and I hoped Chase would look like that some day soon.

Time passed as Chase would scan and clinic and then Rusty would scan and clinic and over and over again, the hope and faith of this family rushed over us in encouragement like water on parched ground.  They went before us and proved God faithful in so many ways.

Then the summer came and with it, news.  The cancer was back for Rusty.  We were all together at a hospital function and it was beautiful.  But at times like that, there are no words.

Then the holidays came and the news of hospice came and we held our breath – not now, please not now at this season – as if praying this would make any other time less awful.  Yet Rusty pushed back and lived greater and bigger still.  He walked when they said no more and he ran and he played and his joy and strength – the whole family’s joy and strength – was larger than life.  And one frozen winter Sunday, we watched our computer screens in awe, tears streaming down our faces as the video showed his father gently lifting him into the water and laying him in under the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit”.  He publicly identified with The One who has always gone before.

And now, we’ve read that the time is near.  We’ve read that his body grows weary, but we’ve also heard that he’s ready.  And soon, he’ll go before us yet again…

Please pray for this family.

“Man, I cannot wait to see the baseball field. I bet I can hit a home run on heaven’s field.” Rusty, age 7

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39

-MbM-

Because who wouldn't be encouraged by the Chicago Blackhawks? - Rusty and Chase in May, 2013

Because who wouldn’t be encouraged by the Chicago Blackhawks? – Rusty and Chase in May, 2013

The Story of Three Guys

Once upon a summer time in a city of two towers, three guys named Tim, John, and Enda did well for themselves and decided to give back.  But how?

They decided to shave their heads for donations to fund research for kids with cancer and the next annual St. Patrick’s Day party was the perfect time to do it.

March 17, 2000.  17 heads.  $17,000.  This was the plan and the goal.

They proceeded and instead of reaching their goal, they’d exceed it significantly!  Instead of the 17 and 17,000, they’d end up with 19 shaved heads and $104,000.

The party was so successful that they did it again the following year and raised $140,000.

And then the Fall came and the two towers fell in their city and lives and friends were lost in that city, yet the men moved on unshaken in their goal for children.

The next year had 37 events…not 37 heads, but events, and they reached their first $1 million.  

Many who shaved were the first responders… the men and women who ran to rescue at the two towers, who run to rescue every day, the men and women who answer the panicked parent calls for the bald cancer children, the men and women who faithfully serve the country… They shaved their heads and stood for kids with cancer on military bases.  This is heart and soul worked out with a razor.  This takes the hard and sad markings of a disease and turns it from a sign of “other” to one of greatest courage and cause.

These men with this March idea would go on to become an independent foundation and begin funding Fellows – researchers who worked to better treatments and change the future for kids with disease.  More fellows and researchers every year.  More ideas. 

The shaving events continued to grow into the hundreds and the dollars into the tens of millions and the most respected in the nation gathered for a research summit to discuss priorities and goals and quality of life for the littles and in 2012, as the ambulance rushed us in and we heard “There’s a large mass…” and our lives changed forever, this now national foundation, named for the marriage of the worlds “bald” and “St. Patrick’s”, this huge thing born of an idea to give back, it reached $100 million.  

And then it gave back as it did every year…this time, the fellows included a young doctor in Chicago who was about to meet Chase and fight for his life.  And it became personal.

Chase with Dr. Lulla while in treatment

Chase with Dr. Lulla while in treatment

Each year, the foundation chooses 5 children to be their face and story.  Four living and one forever in our hearts – to represent the current truth of the fight that 1 in 5 will not survive.  Some of them shave, and some of them can’t…because they have no hair to share.  But they all step forward, look the cameras and the papers and the people right in the eyes and say “This is me.  This is who I am because of research and the need of it.”  Sometimes, the picture painted isn’t pretty, but the children are always beautiful in their struggle and their open hearts.

And so, when your social media blows up in March with donation requests, invitations, and people in bars and on stages, covered in green aprons and crying and shaving and holding loved one’s pictures and hands… This is why.  Because almost two decades ago, three guys had an idea. 

Around the world, a child is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes.  This is our March, our year, and on some level… our life.  We invite you to come with us.

I want to help, but I don’t want to shave my head.

I want to shave my head.

I want to learn more about St. Baldrick’s advocacy in Washington.

Why do they focus on pediatric cancer?

[All St. Baldrick’s history courtesy of the St. Baldrick’s website.  To read more, click here.]

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Both Baldy

The shave was less than a week away when he committed and said “one hundred“.  

The goal was met within minutes and when I asked him what came next, he smiled big and said “one thousand”.  He asked and you gave him over three thousand.  

His eyes got huge with the big numbers he’s still learning in school and when I asked him what was next, this oldest boy of mine, he looked at his bald brother and they smiled huge and said “FIVE thousand!”  

And you know what you did?  You gave him almost exactly DOUBLE that!  

In under a week, you read and reacted and said this is the price of brotherly love on this, a six-year-old head…nearly TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.  

So, today, as he sat like a man and was covered in the green apron, they pulled up a bar stool for Chase and they took the clippers to his head because this is how he shows LOVE.  

And his cancer brother went around the house all day today clapping and cheering sing-song that “Now we’ll both be baldy boys!”

“This is what I want to do… Help get medicines to help the doctors so kids like Chase don’t die.”  - Aidan

THANK YOU.

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*At the time the clippers were taken to his head, Aidan’s fundraising page read $9,510.00*

“…Now I Am A Little Like Chase.”

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12 months and 5 days...  That’s all the time between them; my first boy and his surprise brother.

Through the years they’ve been mortal enemies and best friends and sometimes both within a matter of seconds.  They played cars together and sword-fought across the whole house and back and they used to splash in the rain on the tiny condo porch and squeal in delight.

About 2 months before Chase was diagnosed

About 2 months before Chase was diagnosed

And one morning, while he lay in his bed, Aidan watched us surround his brother and carry him out.  He lay in the dark of the room as emergency lights reflected through the closed blinds – flashing red on the walls and ceiling – and he looked out into the dim hall and saw shadowy figures in navy and heard the click of a metal gurney carried across the threshold.  He watched his mother cradle his best friend brother with eyes closed and a mask over his face and he heard the words:“You need to stay in your bed, Grammie is here, I love you so much and we will see you soon, okay?”  ..and with that, the life of my first-born boy changed forever.

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Helping with blood draws in clinic

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Making Chase smile on hospital days

The sword-fighting and cars never stopped, but now it was only occasionally around the times his brother was out of the hospital.  And while he could go outside and run or swim with his sister; his brother, whose head was now ugly and puckered with stitches couldn’t be out in the sun or water with him.  And their play had to gentle around IV bags, careful as his ever energetic brother tired in minutes, and metered around blood draws and medicines…for which he’d stand by the couch and hold out his hand and say words like “Chase, it’s okay.  I’m here if you need me.  Here’s my hand… you can hold it if it makes you feel better.”

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Helping Chase move with the IV bag

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Cheering Chase on during radiation days

And when he had his own tonsil surgery the week after they opened his brother’s brain, he sat contentedly in recovery and made no sound at the needles or cords because “…Now I am a little like Chase.”

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This boy has grown up on the sound of his brother’s screams and the sight of his brother’s scars and blood.  And in some ways he’s 6 and in other ways he’s 60 because he knows more of the world and suffering than you should know when you’re little.

Learning to play around an IV bag

Learning to play around an IV bag

So, this week he told me that he’s growing out his hair to shave it for his brother.  He wants to be bald for a minute with his brother.  And when he had to write on the St. Baldrick’s website and say why he was going to shave his head, these were his words: “I’m shaving my head for my brother Chase because he’s my brother and I like him and because he’s my best friend and because he’s a very kind boy.”  And if I know my Aidan, he’ll sit in the chair, totally bald and calm because “…now I am a little like Chase.”

12 months and 5 days and sometimes there are no other words.

Moment by moment.

To go to Aidan’s St. Baldrick’s page, click here.

 

 

“BEFORE I die…” Documentary

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08 December 2014…

Today, I watched Chun, the camera man (because yes, we have a camera crew here with us now – so much more on that some day soon) peer around the corner of the machine and flash me the “thumbs up” – Chase was okay and he was done.

Chase learns about the camera from Chun...

Chase learns about the camera from Chun…

25 February 2015…

I received the link to the first trailer this morning and it’s finally time to tell you a little bit more about this.  Chun, the camera man who so graciously let me know Chase was okay during his December MRI, was here with Richard Bakewell, the producer and visionary behind an upcoming documentary: “BEFORE I die…”.

Richard documenting Chase's first try behind the camera...

Richard documenting Chase’s first try behind the camera…

This piece is an incredible view into the world of pediatric cancer as children look to their legacy by putting together a “bucket list” and seek to give back in some way.

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To watch may be gut-wrenching, to say the least, but these children are beyond precious and their moments are being captured forever, and that’s priceless.

Richard and Chun will be joining us a few more times this year and we look forward to sharing with you as this unfolds.  Stay tuned…

-MbM-

“BEFORE I die…” teaser trailer:

For more on Richard Bakewell’s projects and “BEFORE I die…”, you can click here. 

It’s Only A Side Effect

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The pieces lie in our hands…

We’ve talked about this.  We are the lucky ones…the ones still breathing.

The pieces are broken and jagged, like a shattered vase, but…he lives.

Many are the times we’ve cried out for wisdom and wandered the farthest regions of our motives in search of the right and wrong in saving treatments that cause great damage.  And we’ve steeled our hearts that if our hope comes true – if, by some means, some day, better cures are found – they will have passed too late for Chase.  The seeds of damage were sewn when we opted to save his life.  We ask ourselves almost every day… are we ready for this?  …whatever this looks like?  …the fruit of our decisions?

Absolutely not.  By grace alone, we stand.

Would we go back?

 Absolutely not.  Ready or not; no regrets.  The pieces are jagged and some are ugly and sad, but we’ve steeled our hearts and have set to fixing the vessel and it never ceases to amaze us how much beauty there can be around the broken.

On Wednesday, we heard our very good news, but that was not the only appointment we had.  We also sat with another doctor.  One who monitors things like growth, organs and hormones.  Chase lay flat and still while she measured and he held his arms out like a bird while she measured more and he stayed patient as she checked everything and we talked family history back into the generations.

Even though his weight is in keeping with other children his age, it’s starting to show already: Chase’s height is having trouble keeping up.  His tiny black dot was still on the growth charts before our eyes, but just barely…like someone clinging to a precipice by their fingertips.  How much longer until it falls off completely?  Nobody knows.

The consultation came down to blood for now.  Tests and blood.  More decisions will come in the next year or two.  Decisions that bring with them risk of secondary cancer.  This is the cost of trying to grow up when your spine was radiated.

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Our hearts are heavy with these things some days, still, even in the heaviest of moments; no regrets.  We set to mending the pieces because it’s only a side effect and some day, Chase will be better than better.  He will be perfect.  In the meantime, we’ll use the pieces to reflect the light.

Moment by moment.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.  1 Corinthians 13:12
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Revelation 21:5a
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Good

In pre-op with Mrs. Schneider

In pre-op with Mrs. Schneider

The doctor turned his head back to the computer screen on the desk and read out the official words from the final radiology report: “The MRI shows no evidence of new or progressive tumor.”

Let it sink in…  Good news.  The very best we could have hoped for!  These little growths, these that have so threatened for months now, these have showed themselves to almost surely be treatment effects.  What a strange cancer world we live in that where success is measured in not dying today and side effects can provoke a sigh of relief.  Oh, but what relief

In pre-op preparing for the scan: when the medicine works, it works quickly...one minute, up and playing, the next like this...

In pre-op preparing for the scan: when the medicine works, it works quickly…one minute, up and playing, the next like this…

And Chase?  He’s so funny… his hardest part was done yesterday when he woke up in post-op.  The needle was removed and he could eat and that was it.  And today, when we told him the news, he put his hands in his pockets, shrugged, and said “Oh. Good.” …as if he’d known all along.  This boy, he takes it as it comes.  And so will we.  Oh, and tonight, it comes good and great with no fresh cancer news, answered prayer, and an MRI that can wait for three whole months instead of six weeks.

Good news…  The very best we could have hoped for…

Moment by moment.

“This is the Lord‘s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.  This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:23-24

Chase with Nurse Jo in post-op after his scan

Chase with Nurse Jo in post-op after his scan

Chase On His MRI [VIDEO]

The sun is only hinting pink when I feel another presence on the edge of the living room.  This is what he does, my early-rising boy… He wakes before it’s light, tip-toes out to wherever a parent can be found, and stands quietly, thumb in mouth, waiting for someone to see him and call him into the light.

Still rumpled and rosy from sleep, mismatched in his Lightning McQueen bottoms and a shirt that announces “I fight cancer. What’s your superpower?”, he jumps onto the couch and snuggles close.  His talk turns to the subject that has been plaguing him for about a week now: the upcoming MRI.

The questions come as they do every day; several times a day: …When is my MRI? Will there be ‘beeping’? Will I have a needle? Can I eat? Who will go with me? Will you come back to me?…  They come with heartbreaking regularity and the answers are always the same.  In a life that’s anything but predictable, he can at least rely on the same answers to these small questions that are so very big to him.

In a day, he’ll wait in pre-op for almost two hours after having gone nearly half a day without food or drink.  They’ll lull him and then hold a mask over his face while he lays on the threshold of the machine with no parents in sight to say “It’s okay, sweet boy.” And while he sleeps, they’ll put a needle in his arm to keep him hydrated and inject dyes and he’ll be in the machine for nearly two hours – the only blessing: he’ll be mercifully unconscious.

You hear from me on this subject early and often, and in the last part of the last year, it was often-er than not.  My words hardly change…we can’t, we must, we wonder, we shouldn’t, God is good.  Always.

So today, hear Chase.  He’s about 24 hours away from a big MRI and he’s scared.  He also wasn’t sold on the idea of a video until I promised him that he could hold his father’s tape measure.  This is what the early morning and late nights look like…the twisting mouth, the working to remember words, the thinking about mosquito bite scars on top of his skin rather than the potential of cancer growing under it.  He’s part boy, part wise far beyond his years, part broken by his treatment and tumor…and he’s all Chase.

Moment by moment.

*Note: His last words are “I want Mrs. Schneider to pray for me.”  That is the name of a dear friend who -because Bob needs to work tomorrow- will be accompanying us to the hospital so that I don’t have to be alone on MRI day.  Chase knows that while we can’t be with him, Janet and I will be praying for him in the waiting room while he’s in the MRI. 

Of Ending The Year With Our Foreheads On…

The year 2014 has less than a dozen hours left in it.  This year has seen us through many, many things and all along the way we’ve prayed for the strength to choose joy.  To that end -the joy part, or in this case, the hysterical laugh-until-you-cry part- I’ve compiled a series of actual status updates from my personal Facebook page; all of which were posted in 2014.  I chronicle these things (and have done so for some years) because life is too short and childhood is even shorter and there are too many parenting moments when you’re faced with the choice of either laughing or melting into a puddle of tears — so, as much as possible, we choose to laugh.  Many of the scenarios include personal hashtags: from the most common – #lifewithboys, to the most funny [playing off of our secret parenting fear that our children won’t get college scholarships] #notscholarshipmaterial, to a mini-series from our first family vacation for a wedding less than 48 hours before the October MRI#turningupinTulsa.  We’ve asked you to walk many hard things with us, so, for a brief moment, as we close 2014, enjoy our “normal“…

Note: due to the household including the addition of three boys in approximately three years, an abnormally large amount of the quotes have to do with bodily functions or bathrooms.  Consider yourself warned.

1.  “Don’t walk on the couch with a box over your head, Karsten.”  I just said this.

2.  My child just pledged allegiance ending in “...with liberty and crustless for all!”  We might be in trouble. #‎nationalismfail

3.  There wasn’t enough snow for snowmen, so the kids made snow heads. Can’t decide if the yard looks like Easter Island or a horror film.

4.  Someday I will understand the mysteries of the universe and be able to explain why there is a football in the shower.  Today isn’t that day.

5.  “Well I didn’t throw the toy at him…Uh, I dropped it and his head was just in the way!” #lifewithboys

6.  “Look, I don’t care if it IS the Death Star. You need to stop messing around and eat your orange.”

7.  “Uh, Mom? Uh, today…today, I’m going to uh, not spill my water three times at the table.” #‎aidangoals

8.  “Mom, I’m keeping this family picture so that when you die, I’ll remember you because you’re old and you’re probably going to die soon.”

9.  “I just came down from Kookie’s room to tell you I peed really, really big on the floor.”  The official moment you regret telling a child to come here if they want to talk to you.

10.  “Now we are engaged TO a great civil war…”: Aidan’s rendition of Gettysburg in which history lives, but prepositions take a hit.

11.  “Well, uh, Mom, I didn’t throw a Duplo at his head.  I threw the Duplo into the Duplo box and his head was in there because he was messing around.”

12.  “Mom, I didn’t trip him.  I was just standing there with my leg out and he, uh…fell over it.”

13.  “Graham crackers are for eating…not picking your nose!”  I need a raise.

14.  This is what Aidan does on his day off school.  Because when you jump off the toilet lid, you go big or go home… 

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15.  Bob: “Karsten, you need a shirt.“, Karsten: “Can I eat it?”

16.  As Karsten watches the Olympics, he yells “Come on, Bears!”…because that’s what you yell at a TV during a sporting event, right?

17.  Darcy: “Mom, Karsten’s being a disastrophe.” Grammar takes a backseat to conflict resolution.

18.  Early morning questions: “Hey Mooooom?! When I’m 60 or 29, can I pleeease watch ‘The Battle of Helm’s Deep’?” #‎lifewithaidan

19.  Mom Log, 7:09am: Boy enters with teeth marks in forehead and another boy close behind, screaming “It was an ‘askident’!”  This should be good.

20.  “Yes, he shouldn’t have licked your books, but you should never sit in somebody’s face!”  This is how “reading time” goes down.  Real talk.

21.  “I’m sorry, Aidan, but ‘Hey, look! There’s a giant hamburger falling from the sky!’ is not a viable conclusion to your class presentation on the history of Legos.”

22.  Chase and Karsten are arguing about whether “Alligator” starts with “B” or “C“.  This should go well.  And by “this“, I mean the next twenty years.

23.  “If you ever get the kitchen stool and climb onto the counter and drop the watermelon to the ground again…”  Well, that was a first.

24.  “Mom! I learned how to sort all the laundry and now I know from everything into which thing it should be sorted into.”  Next lesson?  Grammar.

25.  “Mom, if you let me have a cell phone when I’m in college, I’ll totally text you, but first, you’ll have to tell me how to spell ‘good’ so that I can tell you that I am good.” #‎lifewithaidan #‎notscholarahipmaterial

26.  “Bapa, you never played hockey, but Grammie can still put you in the penalty box, right?” #‎lifewithaidan

27.  And then the training sesh ended with the lesson: “…and that’s why you never run with an anesthesia mask over your face.”

28.  Me: Do you know who the president was during World War 2?Aidan: Abraham Lincoln?, Darcy: Who is the guy with the horse in the picture in the hallway? (George Washington), Me: I’ll give you a *major* hint…it was a Roosevelt. Which Roosevelt?, Aidan: “Oh, oh!! It was John! John Roosevelt!!”  #‎historyfail #‎notscholarshipmaterial

29.  Somebody found the medical supply cabinet… #‎trouble

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30.  “Well, Mom, *this* is why you had a daughter…because I’m always right.”

31.  “Kookie, you be Dark Vader and I’ll be Fran Cello, okay?”  May the force (and the knowledge of actual Star Wars characters) be with you, my boys.

32.  This morning, Aidan informed me that he could sneeze in Spanish.  So glad we can check that off the list of needed life skills…

33.  That time Aidan walked into a dining room chair and split his eyelid open…again.

34.  That moment you’ve been in hold forever with the US Postal Service and they finally ask you to say a command and all the phone computer picks up in the silence is the sound of the 2 year old standing next to you saying: “I have poop, Mom.”

35.  Darcy is reviewing family members’ names with Chase: “Uncle Dave , Aunt Meg , Captain America…”  Say what??

36.  “But you NEVER said I COULDN’T throw a chair!”  Helloooooo, Monday…

37.  Family pictures at the horse farm…, Grandma: “Aidan, did you tell your mom about your experience in the barn?”, Aidan: “I touched a horse!”, Grandma: “…and what else did you touch?”, Aidan [hanging his head]: “Oh yeah… I toucheded the electric fence too.” #lifewithboys

38.  “Do not drop your dinner plate on the floor for the sole purpose of doing an air guitar with your leg!” — parenting with Bob Ewoldt

39.  “Um…Mom? How old will I be when I’m 25?” -Aidan #‎notscholarshipmaterial

40.  “Hey, Mom? When Auntie Meg has her baby, can I burp ‘Rock-a-bye Baby’ to it? I promise to burp in English!” -Aidan

41.  Let me be clear about something…just because I never specifically said “Hey, don’t take the cap off the milk carton, put your mouth around it, and blow into the opening.” does NOT mean it’s an acceptable breakfast table activity. #‎lifewithboys

42.  That oddly poetic moment when the coffee you’re about to make becomes that much more necessary to your day… 

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43.  “Aidan, tonight is your first night in Sparks, and you should be happy about that, and I know that you’re a lot shorter than most of the other kids, but you should try to have fun, and it’s okay, and you’ll grow up some day.”  Older sister pep talks are the best.

44.  I just walked into a flooded bathroom and two guilty little boys who informed me that it had happened because one was “President Business” and the other was “The Piece of Resistance”.  Everything is awesome.  So awesome.

45.  One of my children really knows the meaning of the phrase “Go big or go home”.  In other, totally unrelated news, anybody have a failsafe recipe for getting black Sharpie permanent marker out of anything and everything…hypothetically speaking??

46.  As we discussed today’s [Columbus Day] historical significance…, Aidan: “Mom what language do they speak in Spain?”, Me: “Spanish. Why?”, Aidan: “No, I’m pretty sure that’s not right. There’s a Spain language.”, Me: “Yes, it’s called Spanish.”, Aidan: “No, it’s a [emphasis] Spain language…” #notscholarshipmaterial

47.  “Mom! Come quick! The boys put toys in the toilet and Chase is telling Kookie to flush them!!”  Thanks for the sucker punch, Thursday. #‎lifewithboys

48.  6:49AM – Chase gets mad at Aunt Carrie for possibly not sharing her wedding cake with him…in two days. Aidan asks when we are going to cross the Mississippi Ocean. #turningupinTulsa

49.  12:20PM – stopped for lunch in a food joint crowded with service people in uniform and while Karsten pointed and called them “Heroes” and we had a patriotic moment, Chase took a swig of the pepper shaker. #‎turningupinTulsa

50.  1:39PM – pulled out the brand new, educationally promising coloring books detailing things like “Explorers of North America”.  Gave myself a pat on the back for thoughtful parenting.  Listened to weeping and gnashing of teeth because Magellan isn’t Spider-Man. #turningupinTulsa

51.  3:47PM – left Mo for “The Sooner State” and discovered pieces of blue crayon all around Karsten’s chair.  I was informed it had been eaten because it was blue.  Having been on the road for 12 hours, I deemed this an acceptable explanation. #‎turningupinTulsa

52.  8:00PM – Aidan starts doing handstands off the hotel wall.  Discussion of appropriate hotel behavior ensues, the finer points of which may include parents lack of knowledge on the nearest ER. #‎turningupinTulsa

53.  6:42AM – After she let us know she woke up early to “relax on vacation”; we had a lengthy discussion with Darcy on “the wedding party” being a group of people rather then an event.  It went something like the famed “Who’s On First?” sketch. #‎turningupinTulsa

54.  9:05PM – Chase vows to grow up and marry Aunt Carrie.  Aidan vows to grow up and marry Darcy.  Time for the first “Why you can’t marry your sister” conversation…also the “Why you can’t marry your already-married aunt” conversation.  Good talk, good talk.

55.  1:18PM – Tried the educational coloring books again.  Got asked if I had a butter churn when I was little.  Education is not my friend this weekend. #‎turningupinTulsa

56.  Some are born great, some achieve greatness, some have greatness thrust upon them, and still others chuck the whole battle for a peanut butter sandwich. #‎lifewithboys

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57.  “Mom! I got super frustrated and totally freaked out and flushed my clothes down the toilet! …but then I took them out again and they’re on the bathroom floor. Is that okay?”

58.  [later the same day as the clothes flushing]  In this house, to have one gross, bathroom-related Facebook status per day is pretty standard. To have TWO gross bathroom-related updates in a single day is pretty amazing…even for the Ewoldt boys. Karsten, for filling the sink with water and “painting” the bathroom with the toilet brush… This one’s for you.

59.  Just because I never *explicitly* said “Hey, don’t take graham crackers and crush them with a hammer on the living room table.” doesn’t mean it wasn’t implied.

60.  Bob: “So children, what did you learn in Sunday School today?“, Aidan: “Hey! Do you guys know how to do arm farts?” #lifewithboys

61.  I shook the freshly delivered Amazon box [full of Legos] to give the December boys a birthday present hint today.  Aidan’s guess?  A box of sweaters.

62.  So, apparently, when you hear “Hey Mom! Come quick! Chasey’s all tied up with tape!”, it could literally mean that Chasey is indeed all tied up with tape.  In other news, the 6-year-old just had his taping privileges revoked for life.

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63.  “It’s okay, Mom… I only carry dishes while walking backwards with my eyes open and I’m very careful.”

64.  “Mom, we’re really sorry for breaking your ironing board, but now that it isn’t flat anymore, it’s makes a really good slide. Is that okay?” #lifewithboys

65.  Bob: “…and that’s the story of the gospel and our advent reading for tonight…any questions?”Aidan: “Yes! Why don’t we do piñatas for birthdays??” #‎stayontarget

66.  Grief counseling for small boys in traumatic circumstances: “Son, if you insist on bench-pressing a full bottle of ketchup over your head, things like this are likely to happen…”

67.  Without a doubt, the best bedtime excuse I’ve heard in a long time… “But Mom, I can’t go to sleep without my forehead on.”

Goodnight and goodbye, dear old 2014…

Moment by moment.

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.  Psalm 16:6