Thursday, June 27, 2013

Basden's Beauty

I had just sat down in the living room last Saturday afternoon, feet up on the ottoman, laptop in hand. I glanced out to where Corbin rested on the pool float, reading the newspaper in the sun, and thought, “Here summer begins.”

After an amazing, full week of CCBC Kids Kamp, along with an incredible few days with our “roomie cousins” the Hills, we’d gotten Bran off to his beach trip early that morning, cheered on Hud’s District team in the mid-cities, and then back home with a more-than-exhausted little ball player and his sisters.

The first real wave of a relaxed summer schedule settled over me. I sighed with the anticipation of no camps, no packing lunches, no early mornings, and a relaxed routine in the weeks ahead with very little on the calendar.

I don’t think I’d even lifted open the screen of my computer when screams and shrieks pierced the quiet room from the front yard. I knew immediately who they belonged to, and that they weren’t of the good variety. I jumped from my chair and ran to the front door, but by the time I got there Basden had run into the dining room. I met Esther in the foyer, and she stood there with her little hands in fists at her side, pale and paralyzed, just looking at me screaming with big tears running down her face. I looked all over to see how she was hurt, but she couldn’t answer through her screams. I suppose it was just a couple of seconds later that Basden ran back to me and I felt my stomach drop. Her lower face covered in blood, it looked like the skin from her nose to her upper lip had been shredded. I’m going to spare the details here, but I’m not typically real queasy at the site of blood, and at that moment I felt a little faint.

Basden was terrified, and unfortunately I don’t think my expression upon seeing her helped. She hadn’t even looked in a mirror - had no idea what I was seeing. But she told me later that my eyes told her it was bad. I turned to Hudson and said, “Tell Daddy I need him now.” So moments later Corbin and I huddled over Basden by the kitchen sink, trying to calm her and assess the situation, while calling our good friend who works as an ER doc at Cook Childrens. At one point in the kitchen Corbin sort of rolled his eyes and I couldn’t read his expression - surely he wasn’t irritated? (as understandable as that would have been - I think that was his 2nd time in the pool this summer, and that he had been on that float for about eight minutes. And nevermind that Branson had just gotten stitches removed from his face a few days prior from being spiked with a metal cleat in a game). But when I asked Corbin about it later, and he said he just felt overwhelmed seeing her skin so damaged, and he thought the cut had gone all the way through her lip into her gums.

Within minutes we were in the car and headed to the Emergency Room, and as always, every person who works in that hospital treated us with the utmost care and concern. After a couple of hours of admitting Basden, numbing the area around the wound, and stitching her up with 20+ sutures, we headed home to rest and recover - pain meds and Neosporin in hand. 

All of this from a fall in the street in front of our home. Basden and Esther had been invited to go get ice cream with a neighbor, and in running home to grab something before they left, Basden tripped over the soccer slides she wore and fell face-first in the gravelly concrete. Her little hands don’t have a scrape on them - perfectly fine - she completely caught herself with her face. It must have been so fast and so hard, I really couldn’t believe “just a fall” could do that much damage.

Later that evening, while giving her a bath and washing her hair, Basden sobbed and sobbed with me. She cried because she just looked so ugly, and she knew this wound would leave scars. Her face looked so banged up, and we both decided it best for her to not spend much time in front of mirrors for a few days. I tried to encourage her that while it looked bad now, God created our bodies to heal more quickly than we imagine. We talked about a sweet mom on our baseball team with facial scars from a recent surgery, and how she is all the more beautiful for her bravery in continuing to attend games and support her boys with a smile even with with fresh scars.

It was more than a little painful to watch my daughther crumble under the weight of feeling ugly. I had already been thinking throughout the day of Lauren Scrugg’s parents, and their story in Still Lolo, and how unimaginable to find their daughter so traumatically and horribly injured. My goodness, Basden’s was one tiny wound - and one that will likely heal without much scarring - and it had me turned inside out. I felt such compassion for the Scruggs and how they must still feel at the memory of going through that pain with Lauren, and what tremendous suffering they endured.

Interestingly, after her bath and in fresh pajamas, and with a lighter heart, Basden walked into the kitchen with Still Lolo in her hands. We had not talked about Lauren at all. But Basden must have known exactly where her book was in our bookshelves, and she turned to the pictures of Lauren with her scars. She then said to me, “Mom, she is still so beautiful, even with her scars.”

In my review of Still Lolo, I mentioned that the reason I bought this book instead of checking it out from the library was to give our family another hero. To put a survivor in front of them, one who persevered in hope and in God’s strength through an incredibly difficult time. And here Basden stood, at our kitchen counter, her pretty face covered in bandages and stitches, looking at a hero in the pages of this book. What precious encouragement.

Esther spent the afternoon and evening bursting into spontaneous tears, with fresh memories of watching her sister get hurt. She kept telling me through her cries, “Mom, I just remember. I just see her falling! I can’t stop thinking about it.” And again, our accident is so small-scale, but I was reminded of our good friends, the Lawrences, as they endured Mike’s accident several years ago. One of the most traumatic dynamics of Mike’s fall is that both parents and brothers saw it happen, saw him lying on the ground three stories below, and dealt with the stress of those emotions even long after Mike’s physical healing.

I do not want my children to get hurt. I don't want to see them injured, even though the logical part of me knows that suffering - physical and otherwise - is inevitable. I'm encouraged that God is near them, that He is their Protector and Provider and Jehova Rapha- the God who heals. It helps me to remember that these sufferings, these scars, however minor or major, are worth it in the end to build the character and perseverance Scripture promises, that suffering builds our faith, which is far greater than gold. It's why Lauren Scruggs isn't just still beautiful with her scars, she is even more beautiful (as are her parents). And Jeff and Nan Lawrence the same. They are a different family, better-and-more-beautiful-different, after Mike's accident. These and others whom God has chosen to endure deep suffering encourage the rest of us in our day to day lives. 

In all of this, our family has so much to be grateful for:

- Shaun right here to care for the other kids when we left for the hospital

- Basden’s teeth were unhurt, perfectly fine

- Great docs and nurses who know what they’re doing, incredible

- A beautiful, clean hospital that our insurance covers

- Corbin and I taking her together - so thankful I wasn’t home alone (afterall, I was quite faint)

- The sun deck on our pool - and that it’s mostly shaded all day - that Basden can still spend many hours this week in the pool without getting her face wet

- Sweet friends to cheer us up ~ the Smithermans' gift of balloons and goodies even before we returned from the hospital, Julia’s texts about beauty, Andersons at the door with the gift of a new (darling) shirt, Daboo’s lotion and perfume, Mama’s gift of a pedi from afar, Ken's Joshua 1:9 text, and many emails and calls to check on our girl. The support, even in something this “small” is tremendous. 

Praising God for my sweet girl, her near-perfect health, her beauty. Which is deepening with each passing day.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Framing Hudson's Elementary Years

Dear Hudson,

Sitting in the folding auditorium chairs at Tanglewood last Fri morning, I got a little choked up watching the 5th grade parents file into the room. We gathered for the awards ceremony, one of the “lasts” of your elementary school events. And now today, this afternoon, was the last day I’ll ever pick you up at 3:00 from Tanglewood. Tomorrow morning, you will walk across the stage at “big McLean” and give a short speech at your 5th grade promotion. How in the world are we here? Truly, the memory books and slide shows that point back to your first day of kindergarten and the Peacemaker Play remind me that we were just there.

I’m proud of you and your accomplishments, Hud. Proud of you for so many academic and athletic awards. At last week’s awards ceremony you received honors for grades and academic successes, as well as a spattering of field day awards, just a tiny glimpse of your athletic ability. Lots of God-given talent, and lots of hard work.

But aside from field day ribbons and honor roll certificates, there are a few other things I want to remember from these elementary years.

- In kindergarten, when you came home the first week of school and asked me not to pack you any more PB&J sandwiches - your favorite -  for lunch. You’d met a new friend, Thomas, who was allergic to peanut butter, so highly allergic that he wasn’t able to sit next to anyone eating it. You decided early on that Thomas was not going to sit alone. So for a full year, you insisted on no pb&j’s.

- In 4th grade, hunched over the pool house desk, away from our noisy kitchen and den, you worked diligently for a couple of hours on Wordly Wise and other homework. You were totally, completely overwhelmed with the amount of work due the next day. When I asked you to join us at the park for a few minutes for some fresh air, you vehemently declined, and then continued to “spiral down” as I urged you to take a break. I tried all my strategies to console you. None worked. Finally, I pulled you to me and held you close for a few minutes, the only thing that calmed you as a baby, and then left you in tears with your work. I ran in to grab the puppies and other kiddos, and as we walked past the sun room glass door, there you stood, big grin and a bright wave. I took a second glance, slowly pulled the door open, and asked what was going on.
“Mom, I just remembered. If God gives me a big task, He will give me the strength to finish it. We just learned about that in Bible study last night. I just forgot. But God just reminded me - even if I can’t do it, He can!”
And that was that. Big grin, relaxed shoulders, and you sat back down to finish up all that homework. And then half an hour later found you running around the playground with the rest of us, and I watched you with joy knowing you had personally, intimately tasted the Lord’s kindness.

- Last fall, when a young mom approached me about how helpful my son was. She didn't know you, but she knew we went together. She'd been loading boxes into the PTA closet during your recess time, and you stopped playing basketball and ran over to help her load the heavy boxes. Even without knowing her, you stopped to help.

- Even with your diligence, you are shedding those perfectionist tendencies. They have diminished so much, and you are way more relaxed at eleven than I imagined you’d be! Praise the Lord.

- Finding you, time and time again, interested in what one of us is doing: coloring on the floor with Esther; helping Basden build a fort for her dolls; chopping vegetables while I’m cooking; reading Esther’s spelling words to her; carefully teaching Basden how to write her name in cursive.

Hud, I love you. I love the things you're made of - compassion, diligence, kindness, interest in others, intelligence, humor. I love your steadfast, confident, big-hearted spirit. I see such tremendous growth in you, that even while saying good-bye to a section of these these "boyhood" years, Daddy and I both anticipate the years to come with joy and gratitude.

A few more snapshots of memories...

Kindergarten zoo field trip
Kinder - on the playground
Buddies - lots of memories ahead
Kindergarten Valentines Rollerland party
Kinder Valentines party - you and Chas were in class together every year but one
Kinder Peacemaker Play
Kinder - Flat Stanley
Kinder Field Day
1st grade tie-dye party
Cute boys!
1st grade Carnival
1st grade Christmas party
1st grade Texas play
First Grade with Mrs. Feldman
1st grade Field Day

3rd grade field day
3rd grade Storybook parade with your kinder pal. A treat to be paired with your kinder teacher, Mrs. Tucker

4th grade Storybook Parade - Josh Hamilton

4th grade Thursday Boys - Black caps!

4th grade Boosterthon
4th grade zoo field trip
4th grade lunch buddies
4th grade Christmas party
4th grade Artapalooza - duct tape creations
4th grade field day

Hosting the 5th grade back to school party
5th grade Storybook parade - Uncle Trey's clown costume (with hot pink boxers!)
5th grade Boosterthon
5th grade History Fair
5th grade I Sing America play

5th grade Valentines Rollerskating party
Mrs. Patterson's class - a great group!
As I tell you every night, Hudson, I am so, so thankful to be your Mom.
Love you, Sunshine.

Practicing Gratitude 6.5.13

- Basden competing in UIL storytellin

- Corbin always making the celebration special

- Little Laura Ingalls Wilder

This dress - a treasure - made for Daboo by my Grandma Esther
 - May projects ~ never-ending ~ this one on responsibilities at home

- Basden's "Squake" (snake / squirrel)

- Esther's 1st grade field day

- Basden Joy - holding the anchor in field day (trying, at least!)

- Hud's 5th grade (final) field day

- Basden's field day awards

- Hud and his field day awards

- Papa’s back surgery in Tyler, we think a success. Slow healing, but helpful.

- Mama’s sweet text that he’s enduring this for his grandkids - that Papa has too much he still wants to do with them!

- Watching Hud (11) grow into a young man. Almost as tall as me. Pretty much looking him straight in the eye now. He seems to be changing by the week. 

- Hair rollers for little beauties

- Bran at the lake - when I asked him to open the gate, this is what popped up in my rearview monitor (don't try this at home....)

- Lotsa, lotsa baseball... but this Mom loves it.

- Mother's day tourney - and after games from 8am to 11 pm, the 9ers WON


- Bran receiving a special athletic award - even more special that he got it along with Coulter

Mama and Papa couldn't be at the ceremony (Cap & Daboo represented them well), but they came by after in a typhoon to celebrate
- Coach Goebel. His driving nature the first few months of school in football and basketball almost did Bran in, until Branson realized he was being pushed to his potential. 
It took a few months, but Branson admires him like crazy now
- Mr. Deal. Bran's favorite teacher in 7th grade. According to Branson, Mr. Deal is why he went to school everyday.
Grateful time and again for these McLean teachers
- Planting pumpkins for fall
Since they're not getting a green thumb from me, so glad they've got Daboo's genes
- That he still runs around in a cape

- Each little moment with him

- Swimming season officially here!

- Thursday Boys fun

 - Precious Davenports in CO - make me smile. 

- Chris and Crystal's Memorial Day in Bozeman - a little different than ours!

- Big game back yard hunter

- Finishing the year with Moms in Prayer
These pages represent hundreds and hundreds of prayers for Tanglewood staff, students and families
- Gift from Esther

- Finally!

 Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles...   1 Chronicles 16:11-12