...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Monday, June 27, 2016

Four years of battle (and counting)

Four years ago I began my serious battle with Crohn's Disease.

I was diagnosed in 2011, but in June of 2012 I started to fight...HARD.

That's when I began a regimen of nightly pills and bi-monthly injections that has been going on for four years now.

I cannot express how grateful I am for the meds I get to inject into my belly twice a month to keep my gut from rebelling too much.

Sure, we still have disagreements.  We don't get along some of the time.

Who would have thought I'd look forward to stabbing myself with a needle every other week.  That was not an adventure I saw coming.

But I feel very very thankful that there are drugs out there that help me have a mostly normal day to day life.  I feel so lucky to have incredible doctors who go out of their way to help my body function as best it can.  I feel blessed that despite being bosom buddies with an ugly disease, I get to have such an amazing life.

Yes, Crohn's likes to get in the way of my fun pretty regularly.  He tries to steal the show and he
wants all the attention for himself (arrogant drama queen that he is).  But I appreciate the challenge.  It reminds me that a good life is worth fighting for.  It reminds me that beautiful moments don't have to stem from perfect circumstances.

It forces me to CHOOSE whether to give in and cry or to grab hold of happiness and claim it for myself even when there is pain.

Yes, every day is a battle.  Yes, my sword comes in the form of injectable medication and inborn stubborn-ness.  Yes, there are moments that STINK and moments when I don't want to feel tired and sick and weak.

But also...

Yes, I am amazingly blessed.  And, yes, if this one hitch is what I have to face in order to live life with my family and see their smiles and laughs and tears every possible moment of every day...

...then I am thankful for the privilege.  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Lessons from my garden (specifically my fraternal twin peonies)

This is a peony bush in my back yard.

This is his twin brother.

You may be thinking that for twins they really don't look much alike, and you aren't wrong.  These two sweethearts came out of the same package of bulbs were planted on the same day, have received essentially identical watering and fertilizing, and the same amount of sun.  They sit about five feet from each other in neighboring gardens in our yard.

Year after year, the plant on the left excels while the plant on the right struggles.

But this year it occurred to me that my garden was trying to teach me a lesson (it does this fairly often, but sometimes is a little too quiet and I miss the point).  

I've seen this happen in the world around me and even (unfortunately) in my own life.  We, as people with loads of potential and opportunity, are plopped into circumstances and are left with the choice to either grow and thrive or sit back stunted and struggling.

While we are often given encouragement and care, sometimes we put forth more effort, or better focus, or takes a leap of faith and in the end we blossom beautifully.  But sometimes we sit back, we cower, we shy away from change, or we just plain don't feel like trying and the end result is much less impressive.

Honestly, the choice is up to us. 

The end result of our works can shine brightly or barely twinkle, it is our choice.  

Now, no one of us will be incredible every moment.  Not every project will be a masterpiece, not every presentation will be flawless, not every motherly moment will end in hugs and smiles.  That's just not the way life works.  That's not what I'm saying.  

But when we look back, if we have given it our best, pushed to the point of discomfort, and reached out just past what we THOUGHT was possible we will be amazed at the way we have bloomed.

And we will see just how beautiful we really are.

Because beauty isn't synonymous with perfection.  Beauty is woven into the lines of every effort, every goal met, every push to improve.  It is found in the roots and the stems that you don't even really see.  It is found in the strength to keep going and the encouragement we give to others as we move on, even when things are hard.

At least, that's what my peonies tell me.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Your Autograph Please -- Spring Dance for the DeMoux ladies

I told you before that my girls had a dance recital this past weekend.

Well, what kind of mother would I be if I didn't brag about them a little bit (or a lot bit) following an event like that?

The theme for the evening was "Your Autograph Please" with dances centered around Walt Disney, Helen Keller, Phil Collins, LeBron James, C.S. Lewis, and many more.  Aubrey's Dance focused on Michael Jackson and Ellie's on Keali'i Reichel.

My girls love dance to varying degrees.  Aubs is MUCH more enamored with the musical theater half and Ellie is COMPLETELY smitten with the dance half.  They both enjoy both parts, but they definitely have their own preferences (and I love that it is something they can do together).

I won't talk it up too much, but I cannot say enough about how incredible Margene is.  She runs an incredible company which functions almost like a family.  Older students are expected to watch out for younger ones, rudeness and disrespect are not tolerated.  Fun and laughter are required.  If you are looking for a great experience for your child, I STRONGLY suggest you check out Miss Margene's.  

Aubrey is not in love with her pictures, she tells me she looks like a turtle.  This dramatically improves my opinion of turtles.  I think she is lovely (my daughter, not a she-turtle).

Aubrey and Ellie's age groups on stage for finale (not the full company, but still oodles of kids).

After the performance, the girl's dad normally brings them flowers as a congratulations -- but this year he changed it up.  He made them each a candy bouquet (yes, HE made it, on his own with no help from anyone -- it was ALL his idea, for real).  The little ladies were thrilled!

Great work, girls!  You are both incredibly incredible.

Our camera battery decided to die right in the middle of Aubrey's dance -- thankfully we had a spare, but that means the performance is split into a couple of sections.  Still, it was a lot of fun.  They did great!

And our babiest baby girl.  

Saturday, June 4, 2016

A tale of female sadness and one smooooth teenage boy

This is the story of a young man who is going places.  Good places.  I just know it, and I don't even really know this kid much at all.  

Let me tell you about it.

The other night, my girls had dress rehearsal for their spring dance concert.  This is always a lengthy evening (like a whole bunch of hours long) as the groups run through their pieces, adjusting lighting and spacing and sound as they go.  Because Aubrey is 14 we had her care for her six year old sister for the evening while we waited at home instead of on the bleachers of the outdoor theater.  We packed a bag of snacks and coloring items etc and dropped the girls off.  

A little while later (much sooner than we expected) we got a call from Aubrey.

I could hear in her voice that she was upset, but she didn't want to talk to me about it (she was afraid she would cry and she didn't want to do that in front of so many people).  Turns out in all of the packing of stuff and working to be ready we had packed the girl's costumes for the finale, but we neglected to pack the costumes for their regular dances (yeah, great job on the ball mom).

When Aubrey's group got ready to practice she was the only one out of costume and one of her teachers was pretty upset about it.  She apparently scolded Aubs pretty good, and Aubrey felt very hurt and foolish and embarrassed and sad.  In this call she begged us to bring the costume to her because they were going to be practicing their piece once more at the end of the dress rehearsal and she didn't want to be in trouble again.

Ok, no problem (especially since this really was a lapse on my part). We grabbed the costume and zoomed to the theater (which is a fenced outdoor venue at Murray Park).  We got there before Aubs was supposed to go on again and we sat in the stands to wait for her to finish.

Enter the young man who changed this whole night.

You see, Aubrey is a teenager who wears her emotions on her sleeve (she takes after her mother in this for good or for ill -- it goes both ways).  That means that several people noticed that she was having a rough evening and was on the verge of a teary breakdown for a while.  

And one of these people was a teenage boy who is in her musical theater group (also part of dance, but not exactly the same).  Seeing that she was upset, this normally VERY shy (but apparently gallant) lad came over to check on her.  However, not wanting to embarrass her or to make her more upset he didn't ask why she was sad.  Instead he said, "You look like you are having a rough night.  My sister has an ice cream stand over there, can I buy you a cone?"

Then he gestured behind them to his six year old sister scuttling around behind a cardboard box where she was running a very successful (but imaginary) fast food joint.

Aubrey smiled and said she would like chocolate.

She and this boy sauntered over to the counter, placed their orders and devoured their cones -- smiling and chatting about nothing important the whole time.  The boy's sister even threw in a couple of hot dogs for them on the house.  He stayed to talk to her until he was called to go run through his own dance number.

I am so grateful for this boy who had enough vision to see that my daughter needed a friend and then enough courage (because I know him enough to know that this was hard for him) to actually do something about it.

And let's be honest, dude, that line was smoooooth!

Like I said, this kid is going places.

And so is my baby girl.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer Soccering

It was already the last day of school.

Verified, yes, here it was, last day of school.

Walking to school on the last day, notice their hands holding up a sign language "I love you."  That's our tradition.  We wave to each other until I can't see them anymore from the porch.  I kinda love it.

But it is not yet the last day of soccer.
Which means our Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are still full of sportsy excitement.


Lucky for me I love watching my boys play.
So I'll live through it.

GO TEAM(s)!!!

You may notice that this child has socks and shin guards which are significantly less his size than the other boys...I cannot explain this.  We have provided the children with adequate equipment for their respective activities, but sometimes they choose to go their own way.  That said, I do love that my kidlets think for themselves so OK, you want to wear pre-school sized shin guards and socks, I guess more power to you kiddo.  I love to see you tear up the field whatever your footwear (shinwear??). 

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