Archive for June, 2011

I was reading over at my friend Brooke’s fab cooking blog this morning as she talked about her father-in-law’s care for her and her family.  Of course, it made me want to share a little about mine, too.  I talk about my father-in-law a lot to other people.  Just yesterday I was telling a friend about what he did to help me through the challenge of Jason’s car accident.  He is a strategist.  He is an optimist.  Therefore, he believes that any problem can be worked through and overcome if you just have a good plan, a good attitude and are willing to work.

Cole and Papa

When Jason had his car accident, he was already a quadriplegic.  He was driving his handicap-accessible van when the front left tire blew, sending him across the freeway.  He spent 13 months in the hospital and the next 6 years in surgeries, therapy and more hospital time.  During those first dark days, it was clear that I needed some help to navigate our way through the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental stress of the situation.  Stephen set up a plan for me…what I could and could not do in terms of caring for Jason.  He encouraged me to take breaks, go on little vacations and spend only a certain number of hours at the hospital each day so that I could combat the longevity of the situation.  The family rallied around to help so that I didn’t have to do it all myself.

Mostly, he gave me permission to let go of the guilt that comes from being a caregiver – when you are wondering if you are caring enough.  Giving enough.  Doing enough.  There is always more that you CAN do but I learned that just because there is more to do doesn’t mean I’m supposed to do it.

I wish everyone could learn what I did that year.  I was 26 years old and I had the blessing of having one of the most empowering lessons of my life engrained into my very character.  Because of my father-in-law’s wisdom and nurturing nature, I learned that I didn’t have to do it all.  I did what I could and set aside the guilt that I wasn’t doing everything.  We women are good at guilt.  What we aren’t so good at is working hard and then saying that it is enough and feeling ok about it.

I wish everyone had a Stephen Hall in there lives to help them learn that.  To lean on and counsel with and go to Thanksgiving dinner with when everyone else in your family is miles away or in ICU.  My father-in-law is Jason’s hero and mentor and he’s become one of mine, too.  I am certain that I was given the gift of a great relationship with my parents-in-law because God knew that I would need to go arm-in-arm with them to navigate the challenges of caring for a quadriplegic.

I love my family – both sides of it.  I am lucky to be surrounded by brothers and dads who do all they can to fulfill their responsibilities of being great fathers.  This is just one of my thank yous to them.  And for you, Stephen, thanks for being the kind of father-in-law that is worth writing about.

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Kitchen Help.  Not Kitchen….Help!!!!  But help in the kitchen.  That is the stage that Cole has galloped his way into.  I rustle the bread bag or rattle the pans and I hear my little buddy rounding the corner to check out what is happening in the kitchen and see what chair he should push over to the counter.  I admit that the organizer and “clean-as-you-go” woman in me has to squelch my initial impulse to tell him to put the stool away or that there is nothing for him to help with.  But when I pause to think, I go through the list of cooking steps and find one that a two-year-old can do.

He’s a stirrer.  He excels at his job.  Usually.  He is finding out that some things are easier to stir than others.  I am finding that some bowls are easier to stir in and spoons easier to stir with than others.  He explores, experiments, practices using those motor skills and taste tests each concoction.  Flour, baking soda and baking powder don’t make a fabulous treat but he’s determined to be positive with a hesitant “Mmmm!” before discretely pushing that bowl aside in favor of the crumb topping mixture.

I have never really loved the kitchen but I am loving this.  I’m discovering that cooking and baking and kitchen discovery is so much better with a friend.  And these Blueberry Muffin Top Cookies were a yummy treat to create.  Normally, the five bowls the recipe required would have had me running the other direction but with my professional stirrer at my side, it was the perfect way to pass an afternoon.  These are good.  If you enjoy sugar cookies and blueberry muffins like we do, you’ll love this sugar cookie dough-based recipe.

The two-year-old is extra.  You’ll have to find your own.

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Cole at 28 Months

How are you supposed to describe the age of Cole right now?  I don’t know.  28 months old.  It seems like he’s beyond this “age by month” stage but he’s past two and not yet two-and-a-half.  Experienced moms out there – teach me.  Guide me.  I am a willing listener to your wisdom in this crucial matter.  OK, it’s not so crucial or even remotely important.  But I’m curious nonetheless.

While I wait for your instruction, this crazy, Cole-filled life is exactly that – full.  Of course our little man takes up our time and our energy.  But there is something more going on.  It’s like he fills the room.  Not so much in a loud way, although he is noisy enough as he swings his toddler golf clubs or becomes an expert wiggle-car driver or dunks the three feet required to score a point on his basketball hoop.  “Down – Set – Hike!” and “Cole’s turn!” are frequently yelled, often accompanied by the slap-slap, slap-slap of size 6 feet learning to run, gallop and jump.

No, the essence of Cole is more than his noise.  As he grows from being a baby to a little boy it is becoming more and more clear that he has inherited his father’s gift for making friends.  Whether he is hanging out my office window shouting a one-sided conversation to the wandering ducks or waving to the cars that pass by on our bike rides, his inherent desire to be friendly charms me and those around him.  There is a sense of self I see emerging that thrills me because, as we all know, the confidence that comes from making conversation and being interested in others is a quality that can lead to great happiness in life.  I want him to care about others and to find joy in building relationships.  And it doesn’t hurt that he has a winning smile to back up all that charm.

Love you, little one.


(not sure why you call me this but it’s your current favorite name for Mama)

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