Family


We all got back from our amazing whirlwind of a vacation, one week ago. Last Sunday, at 1130am, we pulled into the garage after Jase drove twenty+ hours straight through (minus time spent at dinner with Jase’s dad in Vegas). Needless to say, we all came inside and crashed. Until today, I haven’t ventured out with the kids since we decided to all take turns getting the flu for the last seven days.

Malakai got sick first. Initiating the family sickness by vomiting between our van and the gas pump at some gas station in Richfield, Utah at 3am. We drove away, impressed at the way the macaroni held it’s form and before anyone could write down our license plate number. We thought it was food poisoning from eating bad food at some bad casino in some bad city. A place Zoe mistakenly (although aptly) named “Lost” Vegas. However, after I got the fever, body aches, sinus and cough issues a few days later and then Cali got it after that and then Zoe… well, then we realized it was the flu. We all have lingering coughs and are still a little weak but the hard part is definitely over.

I’m very grateful that each of us (Jase must have been immune to what we were serving) got sick on different days. I never would have even thought to wish or pray for this but none of our fevers, chills or severe body aches overlapped onto anyone else’s days. Kai was sick for a couple of days, I was next, then Cali and then Zoe. I knew I was on the verge of shutting down and needing a nap on Wednesday afternoon and, thankfully, Jase was able to leave work early (and take off on Thursday) and take care of the kids (and me!) so I could allow my body to shut down, get sick and heal faster than if I tried to trudge through motherhood and sickness on my own. This past week was hard and frustrating, however, I’ve never felt more loved and appreciated as a mom than I did these last seven days.

That’s why I’m writing this.

It’s hard to be a mom. Children don’t really grasp showing gratitude and they’re great at wanting bigger and better things. They don’t understand that this job is looked down on by so many people and that moms lose so much of what they feel their identity is in quitting the jobs they got salaries and benefits (and respect!) with and trading that for harder work with no pay. The dishes never stay clean, the dirty laundry is never gone for more than a day and those dang toilets always get that nasty orange ring RIGHT after you feel you were just on your hands and knees (contorting your body in ways you never thought possible and trying to keep hair out of your face while keeping chemical-covered hands away from everything). On top of the housework, taking chef courses would be extremely beneficial as would taking any and every class/course available that would help aid in creativity with games, crafts, errands and tantrums with three cranky children that don’t think you have one intelligent piece of advice to give. This is a thankless and disparaging job. Or… that’s how it feels sometimes.

I was needed this week. I was reminded that this precious job I have been entrusted with is worth more than money could ever pay and is more valuable than all the accolades the world has to offer. This week, the flu caused my nine year old son to forget that he has a computer and cool transformers and lego sets and caused him to ask me (more than once!) to just sit near him or to lay by his side until he fell asleep. After Malakai got better, the flu caused me to rest and allow Jase to take care of me in ways that he’s been aching to help. Then two year old Cali got sick and was forced to be a *still* toddler and reach out for, and snuggle and relax with her mommy. Finally, Zoe got sick and the little girl that I need to remember to let be a fragile six year old instead of trying to toughen up, became fragile and weak and I relished that.

For the last seven days, meals were frequently eaten on a sheet on the living room floor and movies were a constant must. Malakai and Zoe were beyond ecstatic once they realized they each got their OWN bottles of gatorade AND their own popsicles! And the hugs, kisses and cuddles were passed around hundreds of times.

I felt loved this week. I felt appreciated. I felt taken care of and genuinely respected. I know the kids and Jase did too. Being in such a vulnerable state left all of us feeling so much more in love and grateful for what we have and what we’ve been blessed with. Each other.

Jase and I and the kids are leaving in three days to drive out to San Diego! I can’t even begin to describe the elation I feel with going back to the city of my roots (and Jase’s) and getting together with family and friends and long-lost (but not forgotten) taco shops. Especially given the fact that the timing is perfect with this trip being on the heels of what Jase and I have been dealing with lately.

I almost canceled my counseling session today. I didn’t want to start EMDR until we got back from San Diego and until I felt stronger in utilizing the tools, my counselor gave me, in dealing with the pain of my past. I also feel much stronger than I did two weeks ago and I don’t want to jinx that by delving into something so painful right before going on a long-awaited, restful vacation. We didn’t start EMDR last week because I had to process everything that had been going on in my life two weeks prior to last week’s session. My counselor had me try EMDR last Monday, by recalling a painful memory but making sure that memory had nothing to do with sexual abuse. Afterwards, I walked out of her office, extremely relieved that the EMDR wasn’t as scary as I was making it out to seem. I knew it would still be painful but I was grateful to have been eased into the process with a more “minor” pain from my past. Today, I was grateful that I kept my appointment. I learned a couple more things about myself in the way I handle fear with my kids and how that needs to change and I also learned another exercise that I’m really excited to start using, especially while on vacation.

So, at least until we get back from our amazing trip, I have hope in, and through, patience. 🙂

Jase and I and the kids have been getting out and exploring nature a lot more lately. I think it’s really begun to sink in, for us, that we’re home. Since 2003, I think we’ve been living with held breath. Waiting for the next big move or change for our family. In August, we’ll have lived here for two years and we don’t see ourselves moving soon, nor do we want to. We love our lives here. This city is amazing and being so close to Denver, Boulder and the mountains is so fulfilling.

Because we’re taking part in more activities together, there has been an increase in laughter in our family and a load that seems to have been removed from me and Jase.

On June 22nd, the kids and I went trailing through Boulder Canyon after my second counseling session. It was hot but something about the fast moving river paralleling our walk seemed to cool us down. This was the first time I decided to venture out and explore an unknown area with the kids. It was a freeing experience for me and, obviously, the kids loved it. So many people were out on this day, sitting beside the river and reading, or riding bikes or walking as well. It was so good for me to have come out of a somewhat heavy counseling session and go right into this precious time with my children and to be enveloped in God’s creativity. My counseling sessions are at 8am on Mondays. I used to dread Mondays. Now, I can’t wait until they get here. We get out of the house so early and then spend the day at the library and in the company of each other, enjoying this beauty.

Here a some shots from this walk. Along with seeing a snake, the kids were also extremely mesmerized by a dead grasshopper and how the ants considered it their lunch. 🙂

The last picture is of the five of us, at the end of a hike in El Dorado Springs on June 13th. We stopped hiking because the lightning was basically right above us and the rain started coming down. By the time we got back to the van, thirty minutes after this picture was taken, we were drenched from the heavy, hard, quick-falling rain, as well as covered in mud and the hail had just started to fall.

Good memory-making moments. 🙂

Loving siblings

Lunch for ants: grasshopper.

Beauty.

Dandelion with the kids in the background.

Troopers. :)

Pre-rain-soak

Jase and I thought we were done having children after Zoe was born in 2003. We had our boy and we had our girl and were very content with the joy they brought us. It’s extremely difficult to just put a finalization on having children. We have a lot of friends that have endured miscarriages and infertility so it’s hard to permanently end our chances of having more kids when others are fighting for just one chance at that opportunity. Shutting that option down seems unfair on our end.

In the Spring of 2006, Jase and I both felt we would like to try for another child. In the Fall, we were expecting again. Having given every single baby item away after Zoe was born, I felt a lot more unprepared for this baby. But we were hopeful and felt that everything was right with our decision. Since we found out Malakai’s gender with a sonogram but kept Zoe’s gender a surprise until delivery, I talked Jase into letting me find out the sex of this baby. In December, I was 3-4 months along and all of us met with my family in Tulsa, Oklahoma for Christmas. Since my uncle is an OB-GYN, we took a late night trip to the hospital he worked at and, according to the sonogram, he said he believed we were having a girl. Another sono, given by my doctor back in the Springs several weeks later, confirmed that we were having a girl. I was really just excited to have another baby again so I didn’t have a gender preference. The strange thing was Zoe really, really wanted a little sister and Malakai said he didn’t care whether this baby was a girl or boy. He was just excited for a new baby. 🙂

Once we found out we were having a girl, Jase and I tossed around the idea of Akira for her first name, which means intelligent, and Winter as her middle name. Jase and I considered the name Akira when I was pregnant with Zoe too but the name Zoe meant more to us. We have also always loved the name Aki and both Akira and Winter were different, mysterious and beautiful. But the more I thought about it, the more I really liked the name Spring as a middle name. I love what spring brings as a season. I love the dead coming to life. It’s my favorite season and I just love the beauty and color that spark when spring arrives. It’s also an uncommon name which we always have looked for with our children having Smith as a last name. For a few weeks, we contemplated our third child to be named Akira Spring Smith. Then, Jase realized the initials she would have for the rest of her life… Obviously those names wouldn’t work now so we decided which name we liked more and went with keeping Spring. Since she would be the only one in our family to be born outside of California, we had such a strong connection to California and I only knew one other little girl named Callie, I mentioned to Jase about naming her Cali. He liked it. He also REALLY liked that her initials would be CSS. 🙂

Since Malakai and Zoe were such big babies (Kai: 9lbs6oz at two days past due, Zoe: 8lbs5ozs at a week early) my doctor agreed to have me induced two and a half weeks early with Cali. Everything went well in my pregnancy with Cali and we even got all of the baby items we needed. My mom flew out from Alabama for the induction and to stay and help out after the delivery for a few days. A month and a couple of weeks later we moved up from Colorado Springs to the Denver area for a job that Jase got in Boulder. It was a chaotic time but a beautiful time for new beginnings for our family. We were so burnt out in the Springs and Cali’s birth has always been such a strong sign for us of a great new start with this little family of ours. She’s been an amazing child from day one and has joy and humor constantly overflowing from her.

For her birthday we went to church and then had a nice little family gathering with the five of us and my parents. Cali fell asleep on the way home from church and slept for about 45 minutes which worked out perfectly since I didn’t know where to squeeze in her nap on such a busy day. Pizza, cupcakes and presents on a rainy, stormy day made for a perfect party atmosphere. Then we left to hang out at the park with other youth leaders from church. Thankfully the rain left so we could play kickball, tug-of-war and water balloon toss while the kids had fun being in the middle of it all the playing on the playground. It was a great day to celebrate such a great little girl. Happy Birthday, Cali Spring, we love you! 🙂
Happy Cali sees lemon cupcakes with strawberry frosting :)

We thought by wearing the hats, she'd also want one. We were wrong. :)

Happy Girl.

Testing the frosting before shoving the whole thing in her mouth :)

Amusing herself while ringing the bell on Kristen's bike.

Happy Cali thinking she's so funny when drinking then spitting out her juice. Well, it WAS funny AND cute! :)

Mother’s Day was amazing. Jase and the kids did a fabulous job in showing me love and appreciation. I woke up to “The Mother’s Day Cafe.” Complete with it’s own decorated whiteboard sign and helpful, eager servers, ready to prepare whatever I desired. I also got about two hours to myself while getting my yearly manicure/pedicure. Getting my nails done probably only took about an hour but they let me sit in that orgasmic relaxing massage chair all by myself for another hour. No talking. No diapers. No snacks or meals or fights or demands or injuries or… point made? That alone would have been worth it but to have my husband and children showering me with extra love and hugs and kisses and then taking me out to California Pizza Kitchen made the day perfect. Really. Mother’s Day, this year, was absolutely perfect.

What is it about perfect days, though? It’s almost as if the negative knows the spotlight has been confiscated and fights back with a force to send, even the strongest, to a crumbled heap on the floor.

Immediately following my glorious Mother’s Day, I had one of the worst nights, followed by one of the worst Mondays, ever. The flashbacks were so severe I thought I’d never recover. I felt broken and mismatched and unable to be repaired. It was a very helpless and hopeless feeling. The most depressing part was not knowing where to go to fix it. The advice I was raised on, “Just pray about it. Read your bible. Have more faith.” wasn’t working in this case. Without mental health insurance or finding money just laying around to use on mental health issues, I didn’t necessarily have people knocking on my door and asking to help me overcome my past sexual abuse. Besides, I thought I was healed of all that anyway. Turns out I’m not. Turns out I’m not ok. It turns out that I have been given the “ok” to not be ok. The rug that everything has been brushed under is being pulled away and there’s a ton of dust to go through.

For the most part, I find the best in things. For the majority of the minute/hour/day/week/year, I find life easiest when focusing on positive and good things. What happens though when the trauma that went on in life, the lost innocence and stolen confidence and murdered morality and trampled goodness, isn’t mourned? Well, I think it gathers. I think the trauma, in those feelings that continually get pushed down, builds throughout the years until it comes up, gasping for air. I think that’s where I am right now. Like a wound needs oxygen to heal, my trauma needs to breathe. I need to bring life/oxygen back to that pain.

For the first time since I was a fifteen year old in rehab, I am seeking a mental health professional to help me learn how to overcome these flashbacks. It is so sad to me that I cringe, even now, in writing that out. I feel shame to admit that my praying hasn’t been enough and that I might not have read my bible enough and my faith isn’t strong enough. The warped religious babble built into the foundation of my life did damage that will also need to be undone. But I know that this is right and it’s healthy and that talking to someone will finally shed light on things that I’ve kept in the dark for far too long.

The light shines in the darkness. Always.

Cali started climbing out of her crib this week. Dear Lord. Malakai started when he was nine months old so, the fact that Cali waited until she’s twenty-three months old is quite a gift. She’s climbed out two times this week, in the morning, getting up for the day.

This afternoon is the first time she climbed out of her crib, AFTER I put her down for her nap. While listening to her pathetic attempts at opening the door and knocking through her tears, I tried to immerse myself deeper into the internet while trying to keep from panicking. Will she just fall asleep on the floor, by the door? After a few minutes, the tossing of my stomach won and I ran up the stairs and opened the door for her. I picked her up, trying to remind her that it’s nap time. Knowing she can’t climb back into her crib, I put her in Zoe’s twin bed and told her she could sleep there. I sang her sleep song and rubbed her forehead, coaxing dreamland to come soon. She seemed content for a minute until she realized I’d be leaving again. As I snuck out the door, she got up again, ran to the door and started crying. I thought I’d cry too. I decided I’d torture both of us for a total of ten minutes. If she’s still crying and up at that point, we’d skip the nap.

Silence for one minute. Five minutes. Ten! I grabbed the camera and snuck up the stairs in hopes of taking a cute pic of her sleeping in Zoe’s bed for the first time. I heard a noise! Omg. Is she playing? Did she choke herself on something or get electrocuted on Zoe’s computer paraphernalia? I sat at the top of the stairs for five minutes, in total silence (I didn’t even turn off my camera), for fear she’d hear me and decide to skip her nap for today. I decided I should wait downstairs, a while longer, until I was sure she was in her REM phase.

Several minutes later and sure she fell asleep, in Zoe’s bed, I snuck into her room and caught this shot. Thank God the flash and sound of the actual pic-capture didn’t wake her.

Big Girl Bed for Cali

She’s ready for the bunkbed, Honey! 😉

Zoe has always been very sweet and tender. She’s very gentle and when she gets hurt, whether it’s physical or emotional, she is visibly crushed. When she gets physically hurt, she will scream the most shrilly cry imaginable. It’s extremely piercing to the ears. Taking her to get her immunizations usually leaves me wondering where I can find a woman’s medium-sized straight jacket. Zoe will literally back herself into a corner of the exam room, screaming as if her life depended on it, kicking at anyone that dared compromise her personal space. The most “wonderful” time was when this happened when Cali was still a newborn. I was holding and trying to console an infant, that didn’t know what the screaming was all about, as well as trying to hold down and console a five year old who thought she was about to be murdered by a woman in scrubs who was approaching her with a 10 foot long needle filled with unknown chemicals. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

When Zoe was born, I was very accustomed to a rambunctious three year old boy who didn’t care how high he was when he jumped off the play set. The only thing Malakai really cried about was when he had to go to sleep. Other than that, he was ALWAYS going and never paid much attention to bumps or scrapes along the way.

Growing up with three brothers, I was prepared for Malakai. Growing up without sisters, I was not prepared for Zoe. It isn’t natural for me to feel sympathy when Zoe starts crying inconsolably after bumping her toe. I would like to say, “Get over it. You aren’t bleeding, nothing’s broken. I didn’t cry when I pushed your 8 lb. 4 oz. body from my womb, you can handle this.” but I don’t. I force myself to hug her and reassure her that she is ok. Then she’s fine and runs off to play again. Sometimes, depending on the injury, she may cry for several minutes and may even give up what she was doing when she got hurt. It’s just not my natural reaction to console her injuries. I want her to be mostly tough and sometimes fragile. Like me.

Zoe wanted to ride her scooter to school today. I am usually over-prepared whenever we go places. I’ve got snacks and changes of clothes and tons of extra diapers and wipes in case the vehicle breaks down on the side of the road. But I decided to leave everything behind, including my phone (?!), as I followed Zoe on her scooter, while pushing Cali in the stroller. Sure enough. As sure as Murphy’s Law loves to prove me wrong, Zoe fell. Hard. She ate it bad. She was screaming loud. I could tell her skinned knees were going to be the cause of torture for her for the next two weeks. She had scraped off a chunk of skin on BOTH knees. She’s wearing shorts, I don’t have band-aids, I don’t even have water and a napkin to wipe off the blood that is now rising to the surface. She wants me to hold her, she’s wearing a backpack, I’m pushing a stroller, a scooter is now laying in the street. I was confused. We were halfway to school. Should we go to the nurse’s office? She’s saying she can’t walk. Should we go back home? Should she stay home from school? Do I carry her on my back? Damn, I should have brought the van. I should have at least brought my bike, with Cali in the trailer, so I could ambulate Zoe back home in that. I don’t even know how to get the scooter onto the stroller without it hitting Cali in the head. Then Zoe says something that instantly made me stop moving, spin around and say, “What?”. She repeats, “I’ll just ride my scooter.” What?!? Wow! “Ok, home? You’ll ride it home?” “No.” she says, “I’ll ride it to school.” In shock I mumble, “Ok, well, we’ll just go to the nurse’s office then when we get to school. So we can clean that and get some bandaids on it.” “Three?” She says, as she wipes the tears from her face. “No, I think you’ll need four. Two on each knee.” I say. For the rest of the way to school, I can’t stop telling her how proud I am that she got back on her scooter and praising her about how brave she was to still head to school and even on her scooter. I was so proud of her.

We get to school and as she’s heading to her class, I ask her if she’d like to go to the Nurse’s office. She nods but then says, “Well Ms. Staff has some bandaids.” So I let her know that we need to wash her knees off and then put the bandaids on. Just like many other times before, I knew I’d be her nurse and take care of her injuries and make her feel better. However, Zoe walked straight into her class and nonchalantly shared with her teacher about the injuries she just received on the way to school. Then she hung up her backpack and took out her supplies to get settled into class. With both of us standing near the doorway, I ask if she still wanted me to take her to the Nurse’s office. She smiled and shook her head “no” and headed to where she needed to be seated. I didn’t know what to do. This was new terrain. My little girl being brave, especially in light of the “horrific” injuries to her knees (there was blood!), was not normal. Even the slightest scrape gets pampered and a bandaid or two. Noticing what was going on, another mom mentions that I looked like I was going to cry. Maybe!! My daughter just took a gigantic leap into something I wasn’t prepared for. Independence. She didn’t even need me to put a bandaid on her wound. Not just any wound. There were TWO and there was A LOT of blood coagulating on BOTH of her knees!

I walked the rest of the way home switching emotions from joy to sadness. I didn’t know if I wanted to shower Zoe with hugs and kisses and an award or just sit in a corner and cry for an hour.

I know this is a huge turning point for her and truthfully, I hope it lasts. At least, I hope it lasts for every immunization visit from now on.

I’m sorry, I just got overwhelmed. No one tells you how hard this is all gonna to be. Marriage, being a parent: it’s the hardest job in the world and nobody prepares you for that. Nobody tells you how much you have to give up. I feel like I gave up so much. I’ve given up so much of what made me who I am but I can’t say that because I’m a very bad person if I say that. But I feel it. I really do, I feel that sometimes. I did make a choice. I made a choice. Even if it’s harder than I thought, I don’t regret it. I’m very sure. I just think these things are gonna happen and we’re gonna get through them. We’ll get through them together.

That could have been written by me. I’m sure, in one way or another, I’ve said/thought this exactly. Numerous times. This was a scene from a movie that we watched last night but let me start from the beginning of the weekend.

The message at church this Easter weekend was amazing. I never thought it would be possible to actually enjoy a church more as the time spent there increased, but it sure is true for me, Jase and the kids regarding this new place we’ve found. I love that our church thinks so far out of the “box” from most churches, or every church that Jase and I have attended. For instance, on a weekend where everyone tries to look as perfect/shiny/new as possible, our church theme for the Easter weekend was geared around trash. As in, the trash company. The church screens that have announcements before the service, had animated flies buzzing around and the entire stage was designed as a junkyard, with tons of actual junkyard items strewn amongst the stage and musicians. It was an amazing and curious sight to see stacks of nasty tires, a rusty car’s axle, pieces of car parts, an old, rusty, broken, dilapidated fridge, a keg, and many other random pieces of junk in a place where so many religious freaks would claim was tainting “holy ground.” Our Pastor made an amazing reference in that, everything on that stage was, at the beginning of it’s existence, new. His message for the weekend was that most of us live our lives to better ourselves: strive for fame, a bigger house, fancier car, nicer body, better job, better spouse, more money. He pointed out that those things, in and of themselves, aren’t wrong but that most of us will spend our entire lives trying to fulfill these goals and at some point, we look back on our lives and wonder what went wrong or wonder what we’re missing. Most of us spend our lives living for things that we thought would bring happiness and all we’re left with is regret and a lack of joy. We end up resembling the junk on the stage: old, used up, rusty, broken and sad-looking. “You’ve spent money, time and energy that you can’t get back. Sometimes it’s no big deal; a few dollars here, a couple of hours there. But, what do you do when you realize you are wasting your life?”

The quote that I started this entry with is from “Marley and Me”. It’s very interesting that Jase and I decided to rent it as our family movie last night. I couldn’t believe the similarity of the overall theme of this movie and the message at church. I found myself crying a lot during “Marley and Me” and it didn’t even have to do with the dog. It was so much deeper than that. I related with that movie so much because I feel like the main character, Jen, reflected so much of who I am and on so many levels other than the name itself. 🙂

Jase and I decided to forego a college education. We started college but didn’t complete it. We got married young and were pregnant six months after we got married. We went into marriage and parenthood with virtually NO outline or counseling. Comparing us to most of our friends, you’d see that we did our life pretty much backwards. Almost every other couple we know began their twenties with schooling, then their career, then premarital counseling, marriage, got some animals and then started to have children. We’ve always been trailblazers, but reflecting on our life for the past eleven years has often brought me to thoughts of concern and regret. What will I do once the kids are all in full-time school? Will someone hire me after being home with the kids for so long? Is it too late to go back to school? What if I am just as horrible as a student now as I was in High School? Does anyone my age relate to me without me having a degree? Am I good at doing anything without a college degree? The questions go on and on. For some reason, I have no problem forgiving people around me and loving on people despite their faults but I have issues with letting myself off the hook, forgiving myself for mistakes and being happy and ok with who I am. I have severe issues with judging myself.

Last night, when putting the kids to bed, Zoe was reflecting on her day and complaining about all the things she wasn’t able to do over the course of the weekend. Instead of being grateful for what she had done and what she was able to have, she only saw what she lacked. Without even seeing that this was a setup that she unknowingly placed me in for instruction, I found myself sharing with Malakai and Zoe that the complaining they do in life has got to stop. When they have bad moments in their day, they don’t have to rule their entire day, “a bad day”. I shared with them that they have a choice to make. They can either live their lives focusing on what they don’t have and what they aren’t able to do, or they can focus on the positive things that make up so many moments of every single day. You can have good days with bad moments OR you can ignore the goodness and just have bad days all the time. I didn’t even realize I was also talking to myself until I came downstairs later.

I needed the message at church this weekend. I needed that movie for an added emphasis last night. I needed to teach my children an important value so I could hear my own voice speaking something that needed to go in my own ears. I need to be reminded that 1.) I’m not alone and 2.) I have a choice in life.

I can live in regret and guilt. I can give up. I can live in failure. I can live with unfufilled expectations.

OR

I can live in happiness. I can be effective. I can live in triumph. I can live with a focus on the future and making that future and the people in it, better.

What does all of this have to do with Easter? As the pastor put it, “It means everything”.  Without Jesus, there is no hope. If He simply died and then was buried, He would have been no different than any other man. But He rose from death. Without Jesus, the possessions we strive for in life, even our bodies, have no purpose. Without Jesus, we gather, consume, deteriorate and die.

Without Jesus, there is no hope. No purpose. No fulfilling reason to live. I choose to share that hope with myself. I choose to share that hope with my husband and children and with everyone around me.

What do you choose?

I first heard about Invisible Children (IC) in 2004. I was living in Alabama at the time and since this was a hometown (San Diego) organization, I thought that I could only help from afar, by word-of-mouth.

Living in Colorado, I first got involved with Invisible Children in April 2006. The event was called Global Night Communte (GNC). I had been wanting, so desperately, to actually do something that I jumped at the chance to spend the night, in some strange downtown Denver park, with only my six year old son, Malakai, and our sleeping bags. I don’t feel I’m making a legitimate change in this world unless I can bring my family, my own children, with me in the plight. My children have such an amazing road of change before them. They learn best when actually experiencing change.

Me and Malakai, making an effort for change: IC's GNC, April 2006. (Denver, Colorado)

Me and Malakai: IC’s GNC, April 2006. (Denver, Colorado)

Early morning rise in front of the State Capitol, IC's GNC, April 2006. (Denver, Colorado)

IC’s GNC, April 2006. (Denver, Colorado)

The second time I joined in an event with Invisible Children, it was for DisplaceMe in April 2007. This journey was a little more interesting, given the fact that I was now almost eight months pregnant with Cali and we would basically be hiking about a mile to our final location, while trying to balance water bottles and crackers, cardboard box “homes”, sleeping bags and my humongo belly. The numerous middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom to pee, a quarter of a mile away from our “home”, through a field of potholes, in the dark, was very humbling. This time my nephew, Clay, came along with me and Malakai.

Clay, Malakai and me (with Cali protruding from my belly).

Clay, Malakai and me (with Cali protruding from my belly): IC’s DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Just a small portion of those that attended our displaced camp. (Parker, Colorado)

Just a small portion of those that attended our displaced camp. IC’s DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Our rationed water, handed out when organizers saw fit.

Our rationed water, handed out when organizers saw fit. IC’s DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Our rationed "dinner", handed out when the organizers saw fit.

Our rationed “dinner”, handed out when the organizers saw fit. IC’s DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Our shelter for the night. IC's DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Our shelter for the night. IC’s DisplaceMe, April 2007. (Parker, Colorado)

Invisible Children is doing again. On April 25, 2009, thousands of people in 9 countries and 100 cities take part in abducting themselves and calling attention to over 300 children abducted to fight in a murderous rebellion army.

If you have a heart to change the world. I highly suggest you start by watching this video**. Jase and I don’t have money to help out every organization we attach our heart to.

However, we DO have time.

We have a voice.

We have limbs / a country /vehicles / freedom to actually take action with.

We have our own children and other youth, that look up to us to lead by example.

We have our own children, and other impressionable youth, that won’t ever have to fear being abducted by gun-toting rebels who pierce into camps and rape, pillage and kill in the middle of the night, or day.

I dare you to watch this video**. I dare you to take action. I dare you to spread the word as far as you can.

Let’s teach our children, the next generation of leaders, about those that have become Invisible. Let’s help those who have no voice / no country / no freedom of their own.

Put your apathy on the back burner.

**Disclaimer: The video is amazing and life-changing in and of itself, but it’s full of graphic imagery/audio/photos surrounding the effects of war. In regard to younger viewers, do with that as you will.

Nine years ago, I was in the hospital getting induced with Malakai. I was due on 2/26/2000 but since I went over the due date, had gained between 50 and 60 pounds, and my OB and I were close, she let us chose a delivery date. It was Leap Year so we thought Leap Day would be a cool, special day of birth. At around 7pm on 2/28/2000 I got an IV for the pitocin. Seriously, the IV was the worst part of labor for me, I almost passed out… At around 5am on 2/29/2000 they gave me the Cervidil and at around 10am, my doctor broke the bag of water. That’s when the pain really started to intesify! Around noon, I was needing an epidural like *now* but the anesthesiologist was busy at that moment. He wouldn’t make it to my room in another 30 to 40 minutes. I felt like I had a high tolerance for pain before I was in labor and with this being my first baby and my horrible history with drug use, I really wanted to stay away from every drug except for the epidural. But, WOW, contractions HURT! I didn’t feel like I could handle the pain for very much longer and was convinced by the nurses/doctor that a narcotic would be fine to take. They gave me Stadol which didn’t get rid of the pain, I could still feel the contractions, but they didn’t hurt. It was a strange sensation and I didn’t like it at all. When the drug wore off, I swore to never take it again. My epidural kicked in and it was BEAUTIFUL! No pain and no brain disruption. 🙂

Something I thought was really cool was the nurse that delivered me when I was born, Zeni, was also going to help deliver Malakai (and she also helped deliver Zoe). Zeni decided to check me around 2pm. She told me to push and then immediately said, “Ok, don’t push!” Malakai was closer than they thought! After about 20 minutes of pushing (which was strange since the epidural was working so well, I couldn’t feel a THING) Malakai was born. He was absolutely beautiful. My months of worry and stress that something with the pregnancy, labor or delivery would go wrong were now set to rest as I looked into his beautiful face. 🙂

The torture I put my body through as a teenager always cast a dark shadow over my future of ever being able to have children. The pregnancy and birth of Malakai was a story of redemption for me. His birth was a fufilled promise that God can and will forgive and restore. Malachi, in Hebrew, means Messenger of God. We loved that name and loved that it was so uncommon, especially with our common last name (we knew no one with the name, Malachi). We also knew the pronunciation of it would become a problem when he started school. Since we already loved the name Kai as a nickname and knew that it meant “the Sea” in Hawaiian, our first child, our son became: Malakai.

At his request, we ate at IHOP this morning, he “had” to go to taekwondo so he could be “spanked” (they spank the kids depending on how old they are, with a padded bat) and then after the 630pm service at church, we went to Applebee’s for dinner. His LEGO birthday party is tomorrow afternoon at 3pm and he has 11 boys coming for his “Boys Only” party. 🙂

**UPDATE** His birthday party was a hit! He and Jase threw an awesome party and spent a couple of hours building LEGO creations. All the boys went home with a little LEGO set. Jase did an amazing job planning and coordinating his first ever birthday party!

Happy Birthday Kai! Your family loves you very much!

Taekwondo Birthday Spanks!

LEGO Party!

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