Tuesday, January 24, 2012

breaking the 10th commandment.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

where the magic happens.

our day was kind of lazy on monday, and at one point found all 5 of us laying on our bed.  it started with june, who had been playing with toys while i put away some laundry.  then ben found her, laid down, and started talking to her.  eventually our other two kids sauntered into the room, wondering where the rest of us had gone, and both requested to be lifted up.  that's when i couldn't help myself.  

we stayed there for a half an hour or more, talking and laughing.  goofing around and teasing each other.  

there's something sacred-feeling about our bed.  it eliminates unkindness between siblings, and stress from school or work.  we're free from insecurities and fears, or jealousy and competitiveness.  it becomes just us, our little family.  it's a place where we can just be. 

and gives us a moment to realize that we are really happy together, and have a whole lot of love for each other.


Monday, January 16, 2012

playing for keeps.

several times a day, i brace myself for a slobbery smooch.

because when june wants a kiss, she does not mess around.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

on broken jaws & facing fears

{these are my teeth close-up.  bet you never thought you'd get this view of me.....i have no upper lip when i smile.}

so there i was, sitting in the chair.

i had been extremely nervous up until the time i actually sat down, but for some reason as soon as i settled in, i became surprisingly calm.

sarah mclachlan's album "building a mystery" was on in the background.  they said i could listen to anything i wanted to, and i picked this album because she kind of whisper-sings and i thought it would be appropriate as i drifted off to sleep.

"you ready?"  he asked, but i could only see his eyes.  the rest of his face was masked.  he was holding up metal tools, one in each hand.

"um, sure," i said, my eyes darting back and forth between his masked face and the masked face of his assistant.  the nervousness had returned.

"okay, we want you to count backwards, starting at 10.  when you wake up, it will be all over with.  nothing to be worried about," his voice was reassuring.  he placed the plastic mask over my face and the air started blowing into my nose.

"ten....nine.......eiiiiiiighhhhht..........seeeeeeevvvvvv," i said groggily, as sarah's lilting voice carried me away to blackness.

suddenly, my eyes popped open.  something was wrong.

i could hear the music, and tried to focus on it to take me away again, but something was louder, drowning out everything else.  it sounded like darth vadar was right next to me, and he was running.  fast.  panting.  what was that noise?

i could feel pulling.  HARD pulling.  on my face.

darth vadar started running again.  then he made a strange sound, like a whimper.  since when did darth vadar whimper?  where am i?

then i heard,

"she's waking up.  give her more gas," from a male voice floating above me.

only then did i realize that darth vadar was me.  it was my labored breathing, i was panting.  i was whimpering.

i was awake, and something was wrong.  of course, i realized this just as the air in my nose became stronger and i floated back to nothingness.

when i woke again, i heard voices.  familiar ones, telling me to wake up and that everything went well.  i was helped up, helped into the car.  i couldn't move my mouth, and felt like i had swallowed 20 cotton balls.  my face was numb, but that numb feeling when you know it's going to hurt soon.  the pain was just around the corner, i could feel it.

i tried to remember what was going on when i had woken up in the middle of my wisdom tooth extraction, but the details were fuzzy.  did that really happen?  it felt real, but i was pretty out of it so i wasn't sure.

the next couple of days were a blur, except for a couple of things.

one being the time i threw up.  i knew it was coming, and tried to stop it because i was so scared of how much it was going to hurt.  i screamed as i vomited, because every time i opened my mouth more than 1/2 an inch wide, pain seared through my face and head.  as i threw up i had no control over how to not open my mouth further.  so i screamed and threw up through the pain.

i also remember that on day 3, i could not even fit my toothbrush in my mouth without crying and tears streaming down my cheeks.  that was when a phone call was made, with a decision to bring me back in for x-rays.

i returned to the chair after x-rays, only to hear him whispering on the phone in his office.  things about surgery, and liabilities.  i didn't understand, but soon would.

"your jaw is broken," he said, and explained that this is one of the risks you take when you sign that paperwork.  one of the teeth had been impacted, but he had made the decision to continue on with the extraction.  "you need to see an oral surgeon immediately, and he is going to wire your mouth shut in order to fix the broken bone."


i was confused, angry, scared.  and realized that as i had woken up mid-surgery it was most likely when they had broken my jaw, the whimpering and fast breathing because of feeling pain i couldn't express.

being 19 and in the middle of a semester at college, and a waitress at a restaurant where i talked to people all day wasn't the most ideal situation for having my mouth wired shut.  it was only supposed to be for 4 weeks, but then i somehow contracted an infection in the broken bone, so it turned into 6 weeks.  i had to drop out of school, request for my boss to hold my job for me, and tried to learn how to enjoy food through a blender.  {which never happened, even with my handy-dandy cookbook handed over by the oral surgeon on my way out the door after surgery.}  my friends who came to visit me couldn't help but laugh as i tried to talk through clenched teeth, which then made me laugh at myself, which made them laugh harder.  it was a pathetic and funny cycle.

i survived the experience, unfortunately gained back all of the weight i had lost on my liquid diet once i was able to consume pasta again, and tried to chalk it up to experience.  because what else can you do, right?

thanks to groupon, after over 9 long years of not going to the dentist, i sat back again in one of those chairs last friday.  i was surprised at how freaked out i felt, not necessarily thinking that my jaw would be broken again, but because i remembered the pain that can come by "routine procedures" and i knew full-well that i had a couple of cavities.  i could feel them, and was nervous that i would be told i have to go under again to have them taken care of.  i prepared myself for the worst news.  root canals, extractions.....would i walk out with a mouth full of dentures?

5.   five cavities, all in their beginning stages.  not awful, not great.  i'll tell you what though, the anxiety of getting them fixed is pretty high, even though rationally i know it will probably be fine.  i'll set up my appointment in probably....another 9 years??  okay, just as soon as i can talk myself into getting anesthetic again.

am i alone here?  anyone else have an awful experience with the dentist??

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


mad face.

sad face.

excited face.

happy face.

scared face.

serious face.

i love this face.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

the price of freedom, part 3 of 3

in my mind, i am still 20 years old.

i'm just past my teenage years, riding in the red cabriolet convertible i wrote about so long agothe windows down in my carseat-free car, hair blowing, music blasting, and i'm singing along as loudly as i can.  my face is wrinkle-free, without my tired under-eye circles, my hair isn't falling out due to the loss of hormones after having a baby.

i'm playing house in our 3 bedrooms 2 bathrooms, these lovely children are little people who i am supposed to return back to their real parents in just a hour or two.  i'm too young for them to belong to me.

i don't answer to anyone but myself, only worry about my own finances, and don't spend a minute of time thinking about my future.  i live only in today.

i can drive as long and far as i want to.  i'm not concerned about nap times, or dinner, or homework and piano practicing.  or waking at 6 a.m. to correct someone else's 25-page paper before a deadline.

i think about frivolous things: the cute shoes i want to buy, what i'm doing for the weekend, which concert is coming up that i want to go to, the phone call with the boy i'm dating, how i'm going to make next month's rent after buying those cute shoes.

i don't think about double ear infections and high fevers, or when to set a firmer consequence, or having to hear who just poked who in the back of the car, or figuring out how to teach empathy, compassion, and integrity in another human.  i don't work through ups and downs of a marriage.  a strong, good marriage... but a marriage nonetheless.

i am still 20.

and i am free.

then i happen to glance in my rear view mirror.

the rear-view mirror that reveals i am actually in a newly-purchased mini-van, surrounded by car seats.

my hair is not blowing in the wind, because the windows are all rolled up.  the soundtrack to "curious george" playing on the speakers.  i no longer sing loudly, i hum absentmindedly along to tunes that i have been listening to repeatedly for 4 years straight.  i know every word of every song, every instrumental change in every chorus.

i see my eyes, and they are tired. a result of too many sleepless nights with sick children in the past few years.  my skin is worn, with more wrinkles than i'd like to believe. {why did i ever tan my face? a very poor decision.} my hair is limp, sprouting the post-baby regrowth along my hairline.

in the mirror i see the 3 children behind me.  my children, with marks left behind from them on my body as reminders.  one is asleep, clutching her soft blankie for comfort, her plastic linky-rings dangling from the handle of her car seat.  another is crying, calling for me, telling me her ears are hurting.  my words of attempted reassurance last only seconds, until she cries out again.  and the last one is uncharacteristically quiet in the back, staring out the window, watching the cars pass by.  he is content.

our home has dishes piled, and clean laundry piled, and toys strewn about.  there are weeds that need to be picked in the front yard, cars that need to be washed, filters in a humidifier that need to be changed.  and dare i admit it....christmas that still needs to be taken down.  results of the week we have had, a week i title coping.

financially, i worry constantly.  i stay up too late working to bring in extra income, my husband is gone long hours after school is over to bring in extra income, i count the days until the student loan comes through, the taxes can be finished and the return on its way, the paycheck deposited.  

we consistently work to keep our marriage off of a back-burner and on a front-burner.  to prioritize each other, to spend time with each other that matters, connecting and re-connecting after many days apart. it is not always easy to do, and takes effort and planning.

i am going to be honest here.....there are moments that i long to be my 20-year old self again.  

to be free of anxiety that was spurred by seizures and spinal taps, hospital visits, IV's and tests and orthotic casts for tiny legs.  constantly feeling it resurface when illness hits our home.  to be free of real financial concerns, free of the nagging feeling that i am potentially messing up my children by whatever i have or have not done during the day.  to be free of the hours of 3 p.m.-10 p.m. where i am on my own so often, doing it all with little people who have so many needs that i can't answer at once, only to then begin all of my other responsibilities well into the night.  to be free from answering to someone almost all of the time.

there are moments when i itch for an escape, for the real parents to walk through the door, take the unfolded laundry out of my hands, wiping the toddler's messy face as they pass by, thanking me for a job well done, telling me they can take it from here, turning the role of supportive wife and constant caretaker over to someone more competent than i am.

as i hop into my car-seat-free car, roll down the windows, turn up the music, and drive away.

but, there is a price of freedom.

freedom from the difficult and tiring means i pay the price of so much good.  

freedom from the anxiety of illness in my children means i pay the price of learning what it truly means to surrender my will to God's, and the memory of when i first learned to want another's well-being over my own.  and the overwhelming gratitude that came when those scary days of colic and seizures became less and less frequent.

freedom from under-eye circles means never knowing what it feels like to hear a tiny, sweet voice cry out for my name in the middle of the night, and answering those cries with comfort just by my touch.  no longer being able to rock a baby back to sleep, or pray with a little one for God to take away the scary dreams.

freedom from financial hardship means losing the knowledge of what it means to sacrifice, to save, to feel true humility and appreciation for the help of others.  knowing the difference between needs and wants.  learning how to never pay full price for anything.

freedom from a currently messy home means losing the feeling of satisfaction after hard work.  a home where i have been given the opportunity of creating a colorful and creative space, one that is full of light and has a feeling of peace and love within its walls.

freedom of the hours from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. means losing some of the sweetest and best times of the day.  the smell of a fresh fuzzy baby head just after a bath, hearing the words of a toddler saying a family prayer, reading and being read to by a young boy who is growing up too quickly.  peeking in on them every night after they've gone to sleep, kissing their cheeks and whispering in their ears how good they are, and how much i love them.

freedom from a marriage means losing the feeling of unconditional love, safety, comfort, teamwork, stability, happiness, a place where i belong.  working together for a common purpose. knowing someone depends on me, counts on me, needs me and wants me, and that i return the same.  

so yes.

there is freedom in a car-seat-free car, with my 20-year-old self.  where the music is loud and the worries are minor.

but i prefer buckling my children into their car seats, climbing in my mini-van, rolling up the windows, humming along, answering their requests, looking forward to their dad coming home, and staring back into my tired, 31-year-old eyes in the rearview mirror with a satisfied smile on my face.

to give all of this up?  

no way.

because for me, the price of freedom is too great.

***can you believe i finally finished this series?  it has been so so long, and i'm sure anyone who read the first two parts probably thought i had long forgotten.  i never did, i always knew what i wanted to say....i just couldn't figure out how to say it.  and today, i did.  it's much less humorous than the first two parts, and i decided not to include anymore of our past car history like i had originally intended, but what can i do?  it's just the time of life i'm in, i guess.  less humorous, more thoughtful.  but there it is anyway.  let it be written, let it be known.  hope you liked it.

{the price of freedom, part 1}
{the price of freedom, part 2}

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


this sweet baby girl has been sick--like, legit sick.  {i guess sick is a relative thing.....by this time in caleb's 5 month life he had been in the hospital about half a dozen times already.}  you know, fever, vomiting, a cough that sounds like she swallowed a bag of Pop Rocks.

we came home from texas with 3 sick kids who have been pretty miserable.  caleb has had the least of it, but that's because he took care of his portion of illness on the ride home, holding a garbage bag to repeatedly vomit into while we drove.

june being sick has shown me just what a calm, happy personality she really does have.  it's one thing to be cheerful when you feel fabulous, it's another to throw up everything, having it come out of both nostrils, and then to have her look up at me with her sweet face and smile and coo.

her already-long eyelashes are darkening, just like my other kids at 5 months.

it's funny because with her being such a content baby, you'd think i would leave her alone more than my other two who seemed to need constant attention.  but it's turned out to be the opposite, where i can't get enough of holding her and kissing her cheeks and feeling her chubby hands on my face, even if there is slobber all over them.

i'm so grateful for my kids, even if they're tired and cranky {the oldest two anyway} and not feeling well.  it gives me a chance to comfort them, and serve them.

i've been reading several things that have made me put things back in perspective and look outside of my own quarantined home.

stories about real suffering, and loss, grief and heartache.

An Inch of Gray

Lloyd Family Love

Rockstar Ronan

reading words that bring me to tears, and help me to hug those i love closer, longer.  with more intention.  to know it could change in an instant.

ben and i listened to this talk yesterday {a favorite in the strader household},

be of good cheer

and i found peace again, listening to knowledge, and truth, and insight full of faith and love.

i'm going now, to do more laundry, wipe more snotty noses, give more hugs, smooch my husband when he comes home after the sun is down tonight, and sit in awe and gratitude as i witness more eyelashes darken.

Monday, January 2, 2012

happy 2012!!

last year's theme was acceptance.  and i must say, i'm not there 100%, but i sure am a lot farther along in that process than i was a year ago.  i have proof of it, and at some point i'll write about the proof.

i've been trying to find one word for 2012 to work on, and know generally what i'm looking for, but want to be more specific.  i feel like even though choosing one theme sounds more generic than a list of  detailed resolutions, i find that it actually causes me to work daily on changing who i am, and it's more effective for me.

anyway, when i find it i'll write about it {also helpful for me, to put it down to remember}.  but for now, a look back on 2011....

i went through my blog posts and couldn't believe just how much has changed for us.  an unexpected pregnancy, changing emotionally unhealthy pieces of me to mold who i aspire to be, an emergency move, caleb's broken arm with surgeries included, the birth of sweet baby june, the passing of my grandma, ben charging through the hardest semester of school so far, a lot of really great memories with family and friends, starting a new job, and more than anything,

continuing to find happiness.

2011 wasn't a breeze by any stretch of the imagination.  but what it did show me is that yet again, i can push myself to stretch in ways i haven't before.  i've been telling myself "i can do hard things" for 2 years now, and when i look back, i see that it's actually true.  not just do them, but go through them with an ability to believe of good things to come on the other side of them.  

i know that life is full of difficulties, and i may have not even cracked the surface of those to come in my life, but i do believe that this year was about laying a foundation for those times.  to let optimism override pessimism, to choose to rise above any situation, having faith that there is a God in heaven above who is mindful of me and my family.

i have felt that so many times this year.

so here's to more love, more faith, more courage to change, more gratitude, more humility, more honesty, more happiness.

here we come, 2012!  

now let's see if those mayans know what they're talking about.  :)