Monday, July 28, 2014

almost drowning

It’s one of the fondest memories of my life…the one where I almost died.

Triathlon Day!
Cough was "sprint" distances, before you become too impressed.

Maria and I had trained together that summer, which was one of the only slices of time in my whole adult life that I got to live close to a sister! So fun! 

The shirts we made ourselves were great, celebrating Mom and her sister who had both, at that point, beaten breast cancer. "They beat breast cancer, we can beat this!" our backs boasted. Little did we know that just a year later Mom would lose that fight. But on that day, her death was nowhere near my mind as her huge smile greeted us at the finish line--but mine was!!

I am not the greatest swimmer. I trained at the pool with my sister who effortlessly zipped through the water, while I huffed and puffed my way through every. slow. lap. So it's not like I jumped stupidly into a lake with no preparation involved. But the lake was very different than the pool, with it's neatly marked lanes...and of course I couldn't touch the bottom.

There are these people called "swim angels" who are out in the middle of the lake with floaty noodles to help anyone who needs a little break. I was comforted knowing these people would be out there, and I did know how to swim, and of course I had trained, and I thought I would be ok.

But very early on I realized I was not going to be ok. The splashing all around me was so chaotic--all the people--all the water I was breathing in as I was trying to break away from the crowd! I wondered if I was hyperventilating. I tried to calm myself down with self-talk. "You're going to be're going to be ok." I physically tried to catch my breath. I floated on my back, and each time another swimmer passed me, splashing more water into my mouth, I'd panic again, flipping over to breathe. I looked around to humbly accept a noodle from a swim angel...but no one was free--every single one was taken. What do you do when they're not available? Wait in line in the middle of the lake? I think you're supposed to wave your arms over your head to alert a lifeguard that you're drowning...I was too embarrassed to do that. But I needed help. Then in my panic I imagined myself dying and someone delivering my wedding ring to my husband of only one year, and I decided to quit being embarrassed and make sure I lived. I spotted a lifeguard way out of the way and began to swim over to her. I cared nothing about my time. I admit, I did care a little about my pride, but again--the living thing pushed me through the pride thing.

I rested there for a while, holding on to that dear lifeguard's buoy. I didn't even make eye contact with her. I'm not sure how long it was, but I rested until I knew I was ok to go on again. I made it to shore, where my sweet sister waited for me to continue on together, and we eventually made it to Mom's beaming face as she embraced her sweaty daughters at the finish line.

I'm reminded of this story because life has felt a little bit like I might drown lately. I'm using my regular go-to's...the self-talk trying to convince myself everything is ok. The lay-on-my-back for as long as I can in my bed tactic. Even the regular "angels" in my life that usually give me rest just don't seem to be working're just not available or working right now for that little fix I think I need, and I'm being forced to wave my arms in the air and humbly admit--I need a lifeguard.

God's so gently reminding me that I can choose to not drown. He's nudging me to swim to Him as my only source of rest and life. But how to really-really do that is such a mystery. Isn't it? If only there were just a formula to follow...things that have worked for me in the past.

This week, there was a day I clung to this buoy, these words that have so often held me up: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  (Romans 15:13) And the reminder of these words, this truth, mystical as it is...(because it is)...allowed me to catch my breath that day. 

I am certainly not ready to swim to shore yet. I have more resting to do. I might just let the Lifeguard carry me there, actually. Yeah. 

Yeah, I think that sounds good.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Holy Hiatus!

Well...after one and a half years of disappearing off the face of the blogosphere, I've decided to show my face again! :) I have to give a big shout-out to my brother and sisters who, for months bugged me about this thing, and probably after it seemed useless, finally gave up. Also a shout-out to my sister-in-law who, as far as I know, might STILL be checking this site every day for photos of her nephews.  You guys are the reasons I started this blog to begin with! As a way to virtually keep up with family while living so terribly far apart. 

A summary: last you heard, Oliver turned one. Now he's 2 and a half. :) One second he tells me I'm a princess and the next second he is the biggest little rascal you've ever seen.  Elliot started kindergarten and hit momentous milestones such as losing teeth and going on a sleep over! Isaiah now reads and asks deep questions about life and death but still loves Buzz Lightyear. I started VLI (Vineyard Leadership Institute) through church, and Insoo wrote a book. And that about sums up life over the past year (plus). 


My reasons for the hiatus were complicated and simple, unknown and known, intentional and unintentional. Life got crazier and the blog just never made it to the top of the priority list. I needed to actually spend more time living instead of writing...planning instead of reflecting...trying desperately to "get on top of things"...yeah, that didn't happen.

I stopped reading all other blogs (besides my sister's)...I tried a simpler way of documenting our life which lasted for a while, but now that has fallen to the wayside. I hardly post on facebook anymore and now I find myself with no method of "remembering"...and when you have a brain like mine that is NOT good. Seriously, I wonder where the line is between "mommy brain" and "dementia" because my brain just does not seem to work these days.

So I need to have a way to remember.

And this week I've started panicking a bit.  Isaiah's turning 5 in two days. And while yes, 5 seems SO old, it's even more than that. He's the first birthday of the year in our family. Our kids have been 2, 4, and 6...still pretty little in my mind. Now we're on the road to 3, 5, and 7 and that's just not little anymore! And while I'm SO excited about our kids growing up and our family growing up, it's always a challenge to not feel like you missed something.

I know I'm saying nothing new or brilliant, nothing that EVERY mom (and probably every dad) feels. It's a universal feeling, I know. But I personally need a way to combat it. And for me i think this is blog is the best method.

I have a's that most of us actually don't give ourselves enough credit for living life doing the best we can in the very moments of our individual lives.  That feeling we have when we look back with nostalgia and say, "Where did the time go?"...I think that feeling is connected to so much guilt for not having been who we wish we had been...not having been MORE...not remembering more...not having appreciated more...not having loved more...all these regrets we feel in the silence of the "now".  I think it's a way the accuser can really get at us.  (Is it just me?)  

I need to be able to remember these years--yes, to cherish my kids. Yes, to be able to show them things and recall moments and funny stories. But also to remember that I did the best I could with who I am right now. I want to have evidence that I was in the game, not sitting on the sidelines.  I want to look back not with guilt but with gratitude that I walked with God, and lived life with my family, and made mistakes, and learned, and grew and changed, and Loved.  

I want to remember my story. Our story. Because it's worth remembering.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Last "First"

Isn't it amazing that we have a God who knows exactly what we need? And He knows how to bless us far beyond what we can even ask for?

Oliver is very much the picture of God's very best for us. Even when we thought we'd "try for a girl" :) Even when I'm still struggling to figure out this "mommy of 3" stuff and I can't believe it's been a whole year and I still feel like such a newbie with this challenge.

Oliver is this amazing and perfect gift.
He is light and love and brilliant joy. He is hopes fulfilled and dreams come true.

And we got to celebrate his first year yesterday!

It was a simple and sweet little party. (I'm sorry, Oliver, that we didn't throw a big bash like we did for your brothers...please have grace for your mama who just couldn't pull it together amidst the craziness and chaos of life right now. It doesn't mean we love you any less!!)

The boys were excited to give him (and share) his new bath toys.

Oliver really enjoy hearing "Happy Birthday" sung to him by his cousins on the phone. He was even trying to sing along!

We shared some cupcakes.

There was a bit of a mishap with the birthday balloons:

And we discovered he wasn't the biggest fan of his smash cake! His first time eating cake was definitely not a hit.
However, the "funfetti" cupcake scored a little higher in his book.

He's talking up a storm now--it seems like he's learning a new word every day. So far his list includes: Mama, Dada (or Daddy), buhbuh (brother), bahyah (balloon), bah (ball), Papa, Ah-men, Ah-duh (all done), hi, Isaiah (very close!), and Ehhhhuuh...or some sort of attempt at Elliot's name.

He's walking all over the place, and keeping us all on our toes.
He's blowing kisses (so cute) and giving big hugs and open-mouthed kisses when asked...or not. He really loves to plant great big kisses on unsuspecting older brothers!!

He's really grown fond of Isaiah in the past month or so! Whereas Elliot and Oliver were more of an instant bond, this new friendship with Isaiah has really blossomed lately. It's so beautiful to see their relationships growing even at this age.

He got his first hair-trim by yours truly--the very day after he turned 1!

And he also joined his brothers in the BOYS bedroom! This is really huge, and I'm still HOPING it works out. Insoo and I have been out of our room for many months trying to get Oliver to sleep well, but it came time for us to have our bedroom back! So we gave it a shot the very night he turned 1, and so far it seems to be going well! We're still crossing our fingers, and I'm sleeping worse than I did on the couch because I'm so worried about the boys waking each other up and all that jazz...but I think the results will be worth it!! (The boys certainly think it's pretty awesome, too.)

Oliver Jude, you make my heart burst with love! You complete our family so perfectly. You bring your brothers great joy and your parents such gratitude. You are a masterpiece from heaven, and I am so blessed to be your mommy. Happy First Birthday, my baby...I love you so.

*Disclosure: Thanks to the creative and talented sister of mine, Andrea Hydeen, for all the matching cute birthday stuff you might see in these photos!!! :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ten Things I Love About You

1. I love that you always cut our boys' fingernails.
2. I love that you play hard!
3. I love your great smile, and your amazing laugh.
4. I love that you take time to teach.
5. I love that you show affection easily.

6. I love your worship, and your music making.
7. I love that for a date night at home you would: spread out a backyardigans blanket, set out a rose, pour some white zin, use chipotle napkins, and surprise me with cheese sticks. Perfect in every way.
8.I love that you keep smiling for pictures even when I've taken the family waaaaaaayyyy past the photo-taking-time-limit.
9. I love that you take the boys fishing.
10. And most of all I love that you're forever mine. Happy birthday to the one I love.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Papa and Grandma Judy Time

Well, it appears as though I have been on a sort of blogging hiatus.

It hasn't been intentional, I've just been a wee bit swamped and overwhelmed with life, and three little energetic boys. It's been been the kind of season where I feel like I will NEVER ever know the experience of "leisure" time again.

And meanwhile, life has been so rudely whizzing by me! Important events and special moments that I've really wanted to write about and hold on to have flown by, giving no thought to the fact that I have zero time right now to capture them!

So I'm deciding to get back in the game. There are some big things coming up this week that I want to share, as well as a few flashbacks of summer that I really need to document, for my own sake.

So I begin tonight. 1am.
I guess this is the "leisure" time I have, in lieu of sleeping. :)

* * * * *

This past weekend, Dad and Judy were here to help us celebrate Oliver's baby dedication.

It was especially meaningful to me, because for Elliot's baby dedication, Mom was alive, and flew to Chicago for the dedication with my dad only 2 months before she died. For Isaiah's baby dedication, Insoo's parents were here--even his dad was visiting from Vietnam! So it seemed perfect, for Oliver's dedication, to have their brand new "Grandma" here to celebrate with us, and for all grandparents to be accounted for in the dedications of our 3 sons.

So they flew in and blessed us with their presence.
The weekend was absolutely chock-full of all the fun things that grandparents bring. Namely: candy, attention, toys, donuts, love and affection, more candy, more attention, more toys, playing games, special treatment, and a few more pieces of candy. Needless to say, we had some happy little boys on our hands for the past few days.

It really warmed my heart to see the boys bond so beautifully with Dad and Judy. Our family is the only one that lives far I often feel like our kids miss out on almost everything. So to have this special time with them, this undivided attention, this great opportunity to share life, and to be known and to re-connect was absolutely priceless. I know they all felt SO loved and cared for this weekend.

This morning Elliot forgot that they had left and asked eagerly when Papa and Judy were going to wake up. And today both older boys have had a bit of an adjustment, not having someone listening to them and playing with them and entertaining them every moment of the day. They can't quite understand that Mommy wants to play but has to do some work too. And poor Oliver has missed having two people fighting for his hugs and cuddles all day long. So he busied himself by trying to walk some more, and making it about 6 or 7 steps one time today!What melted me most during this visit, though, was to hear Elliot call out, "Grandma Judy?" all weekend long.

Even though we knew early on that Dad and Judy were going to get married, we wanted to wait until that special day to call her "Grandma". So on June 24th of this year, they tied the knot, and our boys once again had a "Grandma". (Insoo's mom is "Halmonee", not "Grandma".)

I thought it would be hard to hear my boys calling someone else "grandma", because even after almost 5 years, the most painful part of losing mom is that deep and desperate longing for my children to know her, and for her to know them.

But I have felt such a sweetness and such a peace in hearing the boys call Judy "Grandma". It seems so right. Just hearing that word feels like such a good gift to us.

Because while there will forever be an ache in my heart in the absence of Mom in my boys' life, I believe this "Grandma" is a replacement sent from heaven. I think she would have been hand-picked by my mom to give her grandkids the love and affection that Mom would have given.

Judy is a tremendous gift to Dad, to our family, and especially to these kids who now have a grandma again.

So Thank you, Judy, for joining our family. And thank you for embracing our kids as your own grandchildren, and loving them so well.

We love you.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Birthday Boy Bliss

Elliot is sooooooooooo happy and proud to be 5 today. I had almost forgotten what a big deal it is for kids to turn another year older. It is huge for them! He's now in the "group" with his 5 year old buddies. He even knows which of his friends are five, and which ones are "five and a half".

Despite most of the family fighting some kind of sickness going around our house this week, we managed to have a great time celebrating Elliot today! And he got lots of phone calls from family--even one from Haraboji in Vietnam! When kids are really little, the phone calls are really for mom's sake...and then something happens when they...grow up...and it means something to them too. Today he said with a big smile, "I'm getting so many phone calls!"

Here are the highlights...forgive the blurry photos:

  • Cake for breakfast!

  • A package from Komo..."AWEsome! My OWN Legos!!" And his multiple creations through the day. First he followed the picture on the front of the box to make the numbers. Then he was so proud that he could make his own things that were not on the box! A big deal for this child who wants to do everything right. You may be interested to know that he made a "talking color factory" (pictured below) and some sort of zoo animal carrier vehicle. It was so fun to see his creativity as he worked hard with his own teeny tiny legos. (And this kid loves tiny things of all kinds!)

  • Out to eat at Max & Erma's, all for their ice cream bar!! (Make sure you don't smile for the waitress, kids.)
In their defense, there were tummy aches going on. I was so worried that Elliot's would end up as a catastrophe all over the floor before we left. Thankfully it didn't. But he couldn't even finish his birthday ice cream, poor kid.

  • And of course, presents from Mommy & Daddy and Isaiah & Oliver. He loved all of them, even though there were no CARS 2 cars in the mix (his guess for almost everything). I have a feeling he might still get a couple of those :)

Now that he's 5, he is asking to do everything on his pour juice. Hmmm...I'm probably a terrible mom for not allowing him to pour his own juice before 5 years old?!?

He announced that he's able to do a lot more, now that he's 5, because 5 is a really big number.

Oh, and since he's 5, all his shirts with a "4" in them are too small--he can barely fit them over his head. :) Ahhhh, the joys of being young and actually wanting to turn a year older.

I cannot relate. (sigh.)

* * * * *

Elliot, you are an absolute delight. You'll always be the one who changed our lives forever, when we became parents for the first time. And you'll always have a special place in our hearts as our "firstborn". My mom always said that to me...and now I finally get it. It's not that we love you more than the other kids...but that you've changed us the most. For good.

It is so fun watching you learn to read and spell words. I LOVE it when you spell on your own, especially when it's not quite right.

I love your creativity, like in this bug you drew. Even though it's quite a violent bug with three "piewers" on top, two gray "boppers" and one stinger pointing down, it makes me really happy.
I love your imitation of a Cheeze-It
I love learning with you, talking with you, and getting to know you.

I love your zest for life, and your incredible smile.

And I love it when you burst out in song, like today, "God LOVES us. He sent His Son to die for us...because of His great love."

May you know so much more of His great love this year.

I love you.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A "BIG" Day!

Today was a big day in our house...Elliot got his very first growth hormone shot (administered by yours truly) which he will now take every day* until he's 17 or 18 years old!
*Except for a weekly "skip-day".

You might remember this post from a while back. Since that time, we have had multiple tests done, talked to lots of doctors, spoken with many people, and offered up countless prayers of healing for Elliot and wisdom for us. It all culminated with the choice to move ahead with growth hormone treatment, and that began today!

Believe it or not, for the past 6 weeks Elliot has been excitedly asking, "When do my shots come?" He has been determined to be brave, not to cry, and he's really excited to grow. Oh, and he may have been ever so slightly looking forward to picking out his very first CARS 2 car. Best 4 bucks I've ever spent!!

Poor Isaiah though...I can see exactly what he's thinking in this moment..."I sure wish I could get a shot so I could pick out a new CARS toy too!"
You may or may not know that growth hormone is incredibly expensive. But I have been absolutely amazed at how God has provided for us in this situation that seemed waaaaay too big for us.

A few weeks ago I called the pharmacy and was told that our insurance would cover this, as the need for it is very obvious from all the test results. Then in the next sentence she said that our cost would be $1300 for the first month. Right there I put the whole thing on hold, and called our insurance company. I found out from them that we'd need to come up with over $5000 in the next few months, and when that was met the cost goes down to $30/month.

Thanks to an email and suggestion from my dear aunt Connie, I made a string of phone calls which resulted in talking to a financial assistance program through the drug company. After submitting our proof of income they confirmed that we're eligible for $4000 of aid for the cost of this drug!

I have been astonished ever since! And now I can't stop talking about it. I want to tell everyone I know, so that if you're ever faced with a huge medical situation like this, you can know that there might be help somewhere and it IS worth the stress and hard work of making numerous phone calls to try to find it!!

End of soap box.

So back to today.

Elliot was such a stud. The poor kid has been through the ringer in the past year or so with all of this, and then all kinds of teeth issues on top of it. He has been terrified of shots after all the prodding that he's endured, so even with the little bribe of a new CARS toy, I find it remarkable that he's chosen to be so courageous about the whole thing. There were definitely moments of extreme fear immediately before I stuck the needle in at our training today. And there were many more tears shed than any of us had hoped. But when it was done, he announced with a tear-stained face that it didn't even hurt. For the record, those tears don't diminish his bravery at all in my book.

Last night we put up new growth charts that I recently scored from the library, and measured all the boys. It was great fun, and it will be encouraging for him to see how quickly he shoots up. Unfortunately he thought that we should measure him again tonight, since he had a shot today...I guess it might not seem quite so quick to him.
So tonight I'm feeling really excited for Elliot.

And I'm also feeling a bit selfishly conflicted.

While I really believe we're doing the best thing for our son, I realize that part of his growing up--the literal part--has been sort of spared from me.

Long before I ever knew there was something "wrong", I made it a point to never say things to my kids like, "Don't ever grow up"...or make even playful comments that could come across like I would rather them be younger or smaller...but the truth is that I feel that way sometimes. And with Elliot, I've actually gotten to hold onto my small boy much longer than most people get to. His face has barely changed from the time he was a baby, and there's a part of me that will be really sad to see him change so quickly right before my eyes (as is anticipated, if all works as planned.)

Not to mention the clothes and shoes we'll go through in the coming year or two as these are projected to be the years that he does the most catching up. He might even grow 5-6 inches in the first year. I'm used to him wearing the same pair of shoes and clothing for a couple of years! I didn't have much to compare it to, so I didn't realize anything was terribly wrong. Of course knowing what we know now, it all becomes so clear. There's a pair of size 18-month shorts he was still wearing last summer that went straight to Oliver this summer. What's that about hind sight being 20/20?

Things will hopefully start to change very quickly for Elliot. I want that. And yet it will be a little bit hard. I want my child to grow and thrive, yet I don't want to "lose" my little boy. But really, isn't that the case for every parent? With or without a growth-hormone-deficient-child? Of course it is.

So, my dear Elliot, I'm so very proud of you. I'm astounded by your courage and bravery. I want the absolute best for your life, and your health. And I will embrace every day of this growing thing with you. I don't care one bit if you always remain the smallest in your class, but I want you to grow to your fullest potential in every way. I want you to soar. I want you to be confident in who you are, small or big.

And I want to not be so scared of you growing up. I don't want to hold you or your brothers back in any way whatsoever.

I guess I have some growing to do right along with you.