Category Archives: Jaden Story

Why I Have All Boys

I learned just why God gave me all boys on my first Cub Scout overnight.

A few weekends ago, Jaden and I drove up to Camp Rokilio for a two night stay with his Cub Scout pack. This wasn’t tent camping. We were staying in themed dorms. We were in the castle. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. I missed last year’s overnight because I was recovering from my broken foot. We arrived at camp when it was already dark out and took turns unloading all of our cars.

It certainly wasn’t a 4 star hotel … or a Motel 8 for that matter, but it would do. There were only three moms so we got our own wing and posted a “Mom Only” sign on our bathroom. I can’t remember the last time I slept in a sleeping bag!

We made popcorn and hot cocoa for the boys, let them watch a movie and then put them to bed. They were sleeping by 11 ish .. late, but not too terribly bad.

Then the dads busted out the cribbage board. I convinced Nicole to let the boys teach us how to play. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I think part of the fun was skunking them a few times ūüôā

Saturday the boys played outside all day long. I led a few crafts inside when they came inside to warm up a bit. The camp fire was burning all day long. Later in the afternoon/evening we took a walk down to the bog. I hung out in the back of the line laughing at all the funny things the boys were saying.

I remember looking around thinking, “This is what life is about. These are the moments that make it all worth it.” I just loved watching Jaden run by with a stick in his hand. Watching as his face got dirtier and dirtier as the day wore on.

I was oddly aware that I was a single, divorced woman hanging out with a bunch of dudes. Most of whom I haven’t met their wives. It was odd, but the guys were really nice and made fun of me all the same. I admit, making fun of me isn’t that hard to do. haha!

We ended the night with a bonfire and s’mores. I was right next to the boys, teaching them how to make the perfectly golden brown marshmallow. It’s all about the coals and not the flame. I loved watching the 1st grade¬†Tigers trying to keep up with the older boys and the dads showing their boys fire safety.

I whopped the boys in cribbage again that night and someone started a tally on the wall for how many times I snorted when laughing. I have to admit, I think I enjoyed myself so much because of the good company. The boys were all so well behaved and the dads were very welcoming to me.

On my drive home, exhausted and dreading having to unpack the van, I couldn’t help but feel like this weekend was the reason why I had boys. God knew how much fun I would have with them. That my heart would melt watching them play in the dirt. He knew that I don’t mind getting dirty when having fun and that sleeping on a squeaky bunkbed wasn’t all that bad. He knew that I’d love learning pocketknife safety with them and that I think archery¬†is cool.

Most importantly, I remembered why all the hard mommyhood stuff is worth it. It’s about vacations and sleepovers. It’s about the fun random times and not all about the work and chores. I came home that weekend physically exhausted and spiritually rejuvenated.

I go real tent camping in two weeks … we’ll see if I feel the same way after a weekend without flushing toilets.

Love, Mel

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Filed under Jaden Story, Mommyhood Meditations, Posted by Melissa

Bow and Arrow Practice

Jaden got a bow and arrow for Christmas. This has been the year of “boy toys” … BB gun, pocket knife and now a bow and arrow. Jaden and I went to Buck Rub last weekend where Jaden participated in a youth bow and arrow league. The league is run by¬†volunteer hunters who spend time giving kids pointers and keep score.

Jaden has been going thru a phase … or maybe he has reached the age where mom isn’t cool anymore. When we are home he is a total mama’s boy. He holds my hand when he falls asleep. ::insert sigh here:: However,¬†when it comes to things like Cub Scouts, or bow and arrow, mom is no longer qualified. He just wants a dad. I thought Cub Scouts would offer him some male role models … it seems that in some ways it has only magnified the fact that the other scouts have their dads at tent camping and he has only his mom.

Kids are smart. My family is incredible and my dad and brother do a ton with him and show him father figure love and role modeling. Again, kids are smart. He knows it’s not the same as having a dad. For whatever reason (I may never understand but need to acknowledge) he feels a hole. It tares¬†me up knowing that when I was pregnant with him, and his biological father walked out … this was my biggest fear. My one nightmare … that my precious, loved-beyond-words baby boy would feel the loss of a dad. I was determined to not let him feel this kind of pain. In fact, I have gone to great lengths of trying to compensate and ensure this didn’t happen. Yet, with regret, I know that his feeling of loss is also the product of my failed marriage and mistakes.

On Saturday morning, I sat at the table on the other side of the glass window and watched Jaden learn how to shoot bow. He looked up at these male volunteers with eyes that he doesn’t give me. His shoulders were held back and he was proud.

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I looked at these male volunteers and knew they had no clue the impact they were making on my son. These men were kind and instructive. They gave him a whole hour of their undivided attention – correcting him when he was loading his arrow pointing at the kid next time him. They offered him pointers on how to hold the bow steady. They walked out onto the range with him and helped him find the arrows that missed the target.

Thank you. Thank you for giving an hour or two of your weekend to mentor these young men. You may never know the boys who are looking at you with eyes like Jaden … you may never know the impact you made on a young boy’s heart. To you, it’s a simple few hours of shooting. To my nine year old boy, it’s filling a hole.

Love, Mel

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What Does a Fox Say?

A few weeks ago Jaden surprised me when he said he wanted to participate in the school talent show. When I asked him what he was going to do he said, “Break dance, like Uncle Jake.” Ok … to what song? “What does a fox say?” Well, well, well … this has the possibility of¬†at least being entertaining. I do have to admit that I was nervous his friends and classmates wouldn’t find it as entertaining as I did … I am his mother after all ūüôā I worry about my sweet Jaden – he’s kind of out there, like his mama and kids can be cruel.

The next day, he stayed after school to try out (everyone gets in the show, it’s more of a practice). He had trouble with his music, but handled it like a pro. My mom showed me a video of his dance since I had to work. I’ll be honest, I was still nervous about his classmates making fun of him. My mom said everyone was really supportive of him and gave him high fives and “nice jobs” after.

I made him run through his dance each night – it was part of the deal of signing up. Each night his dance was a little different. He was really getting excited.

Then, I asked him what he was going to wear. We came up with a cool hooded sweatshirt with little fox ears on the hood. I engineered the perfect orange pointed ears a few nights before his performance.

The big day came. He said he was a little nervous, but he’d be fine. Just when did my baby grow up? The entire family came – YaYa, Pa, TeeTee, Uncle Jake, Doug, Logan and Weston. We got there early to make sure we got a good seat.

My baby stole the show! I’m not entirely sure where his courage came from? He’s never been on stage before … but he did it. And his friends were so supporting of him. Cheering him on and giving him high fives. He still likes to wear the sweatshirt to school – reliving the magic I suppose.

Watching our babies grow up is something incredible, isn’t it?

Love, Mel

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April 13, 2014 · 10:15 pm

Jaden’s Family Portrait

I knew it would happen some day … I just didn’t think it would happen so soon. Jaden made a wonderful drawing of our family … Without Owen in it.

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Let me first point out that 1+4=5 ūüôā haha I wasn’t mad that Owen wasn’t on the drawing but it made me sad. I know Jaden, nor anyone else, has forgotten Owen. It’s normal, natural and healthy to move on. The painful truth is that we only have 5 people living in our house.

It was the first family portrait of only 5 … And I know it won’t be the last. And that’s ok. They just won’t ever look “right” to me. They will always look like they are hiding something. Even though the picture might now show it … We are always a family of 6 and I have 4 children.

Love, Mel

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Filed under Grief, Jaden Story, Owen's Gone, Posted by Melissa

A Bushel and a Peck

I’ve started singing the song “A Bushel and a Peck” around the house and to Jaden. ¬†In fact, Jaden and I looked up the song on YouTube to learn the words. ¬†I’m HORRIBLE with remembering lyrics and usually just make up my own. ¬†Tonight, When putting Jaden to bed, he started to sing to song to me. Of course when I tried to record it, he made me sing with him.

There isn’t anything cuter than a child’s voice singing “A Bushel and a Peck”!

Love, Mel

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Prospector Chips

I think I’ve written about this before … But Jaden has a TON of food allergies. So when we find “regular” food for him to eat, it’s a big deal!! A while ago, we found a tortilla chip that he can have called Xochitl. They are fantastic! I love them too!

One day Jaden asked me for “the prospector” chips. What the …??? I didn’t know what he was talking about until he pointed out the bag. I just started to laugh … This might be the greatest nickname ever!

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Get it!?!?

Love, Mel

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The Tooth Fairy DISASTER!

Jaden lost his second tooth just before Christmas and I almost blew the Tooth Fairy cover!!! ¬†The night he lost his tooth, he didn’t want to put it under his pillow because he wanted to bring it to school in hopes of getting a¬†coveted¬†“tooth necklace.” ¬†Apparently, if you lose a tooth at school you get this plastic necklace to put your tooth in and wear for the day. ¬†Well, I guess Jaden really wanted one. ¬†I explained to him that he had a good chance of losing his tooth if he brought it to school, but he assured me he would be careful. ¬†I figured if all else failed, it would be a learning experience.

The next day, after putting Jaden to bed, he wanted me to lay with him for a bit. ¬†I decided to stall a bit and clean out his backpack before Christmas break. ¬†I threw out old tissues, paper scraps and empty snack baggies. ¬†When I laid down with him, he remembered he needed to put his tooth under his pillow! ¬†It was at that moment I remembered I had put his tooth in a ziploc baggie — the same kind of “empty snack baggies” I had just thrown out. ¬†Crap – I threw his tooth out! ¬†I told Jaden I’d get his tooth for him. ¬†I quickly checked the kitchen garbage to see if it was laying on top. ¬†No such luck. ¬†The tooth had been¬†eaten¬†by nasty garbage and food scraps from dinner.

Thinking quick on my feet, I put a popcorn kernel in a new ziploc (just in case he reached his hand under his pillow to feel for the tooth).  Jaden fell fast asleep not knowing any different.

Here is where I really messed up …. I FORGOT TO PUT THE DOLLAR UNDER HIS PILLOW!!! ¬†I went to bed totally forgetting about the whole thing. ¬†In fact, I didn’t remember about it until I was at church the following morning and a friend’s daughter proudly showed me that she had lost tooth. ¬†Crap. ¬†Could I be lucky enough that Jaden forgot to check for the dollar too? ¬†Then I could swap the popcorn¬†kernel¬†for the green bill without him ever knowing a difference.

No such luck.  Again.  I secretly asked Doug if Jaden had noticed the missing dollar bill.

Doug told me that he had thought enough to move the Elf on the Shelf before Jaden noticed. ¬†He place him flying on Jaden’s bedroom ceiling fan. ¬†When Jaden found the popcorn¬†kernel¬†in a ziploc baggie, he was totally confused. ¬†BUT … thank goodness for a child’s imagination! … he blamed Snowball-Owen (our Elf on a Shelf) for swapping out his tooth for a¬†kernel. ¬†The naughty Elf stole his tooth … that was why the tooth fairy hadn’t come.

Phew did I get lucky or what?!?!

That night Jaden and I wrote the Tooth Fairy a note and placed it under his pillow.

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I was SURE to remember to swap out the note for the $1 that time and even wrote him a note back … in glittery ink too. ¬†I had to go all out … he can’t stop believing at 6! ¬†There is so much magic still left!

Jaden was pumped that he got a special note. ¬†He is even more convinced that Snowball-Owen is a¬†mischievous¬†Elf … all is right in the world again! ¬†Phew! ¬†If only that lazy Tooth Fairy would get her own teeth! ¬†Us parents wouldn’t have so much pressure of doing it ourselves ūüôā

Love, Mel

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Keeping the Spirit of Christmas Magic Alive

The holiday season is equally filled with the truth of Christ’s birth as well as the story of Santa. ¬†Some would actually argue that it’s more about Santa … I’ve often wondered about what the perfect balance is to keep the Christmas spirit alive … how much effort do you really need to put forth to keep Santa ‘real’ for our little ones?

We’ve adopted the Elf on the Shelf to our holiday traditions this year. ¬†We have had a lot of fun finding Snowball-Owen (Jaden named him) all over the house doing things like hanging from the ceiling fan, on top of the xmas tree, playing with Jaden’s toys and so on. ¬†It’s incredible how easily Jaden believed that this little plastic doll comes to life in the middle of the night to create a little mischief (and of course report to Santa on if he is being naughty or nice).

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If only our own faith is as¬†easy as a child makes it appear to be. ¬†One part of Jaden’s prayer with Isaac (see A Play Date for Jaden) keeps finding it’s way into my daily thoughts. ¬†“If he [Owen] is ok, will you send me a sign?”

When growing up my sister liked to test the concept of all those imaginary characters we tell children about (the Tooth Fairy, Santa, the Easter Bunny). ¬†She’d leave notes asking if they would leave her just a little something to let her know that they were real. ¬†Just a little sign to know that she could keep believing. ¬†My mom went to great lengths to keep her Christmas magic alive. ¬†She was up until the wee hours of the night painting golden eggs from the Easter Bunny and finding the perfect white fluff from Santa’s coat. ¬†If you ask my mom about it – she will groan and start to say what a pain Rachael was about these things. ¬†But if you get her talking enough – she’ll begin to tell you how she secretly loved it. ¬†She had fun and took delight in fueling the magic.

Here is where I get torn – Jaden is asking for a sign from God. ¬†My first reaction was to find something to leave out for Jaden to show him that God is real. ¬†I want to teach him that God listens to your prayers – He hears you when you reach out to Him. ¬†But isn’t this where faith is supposed to take over? ¬†Believing in¬†something¬†you can’t see? ¬†Wouldn’t I be starting something much larger that could potentially set him up for¬†disappointment¬†and doubt later? ¬†God doesn’t always answer your prayers … Garth Brooks song anyone? ¬†Or at least He doesn’t answer them the way we hope He will or in the timing we want Him to.

I just don’t want the magic to die for him. ¬†I love that he chose to pray when he missed his brother. ¬†It’s something I sometimes forget to do myself. ¬†My mother reminded me that rather than step in – I should sit back and pray about it myself. ¬†Lift Jaden up in prayer that he might receive the reassurance and comfort he needs. ¬†I should cultivate his relationship with God with prayer rather than control. ¬†Perhaps my thought to¬†intervene¬†is proof of my own doubt. ¬†Maybe God has a far better way to reassure him that Owen is in heaven. ¬†As much fun and delight I would have working hard at night, planning something orange for Jaden to wake up to – I’ll kneel instead. ¬†I’ll fold my hands and bow my head.

Dear God, Thank you for blessing me with such a wonderful and faithful boy Jaden. ¬†You know his heart far better than I ever will. ¬†I pray that you will offer him the comfort and reassurance he needs to know that his brother Owen is in heaven with you. ¬†May he feel your love even when he is uncertain. ¬†Let the answers to his questions lead back to you. ¬†Protect him and guide him in places I cannot. ¬†In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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A Play Date for Jaden!

Jaden had his first play date with a school friend today. ¬†We called his friend, Isaac, to see if he wanted to go to a gymnastic¬†academy’s¬†open gym. ¬†Jaden did a happy dance through the house when he said yes!

We played a short game of “I Spy” and talked about Christmas. ¬†Then I heard Jaden lean over to Isaac and say this:

I miss my brother Owen today. ¬†Would you like to pray with me? ¬†Dear God, today is a thankful day. ¬†A different day wasn’t so good. ¬†I miss my brother Owen. ¬†Everyday when you see him, will you make sure he is ok and let him know I love him? ¬†If he is ok, will you give me a sign? ¬†Thank you very much. ¬†Amen.

Where did this come from? ¬†What on earth did my son find the courage to ask his friend to pray with him? ¬†I was so so so proud of him and knew I must have done or shown him something right. ¬†I¬†choked¬†by the tears as I tried to find something else we could all talk about – I didn’t want my silence and awe to make Jaden feel like he had done something wrong – when what he did was so right.

Walking into the gymnastic’s academy, I thought I had everything under control. ¬†I had taken the triplets to open gym twice before so I had the whole thing scoped out … I knew what to do. ¬†When we got to the gym, I sort of¬†panicked¬†a little — it wasn’t like the open house’s I’ve taken the babies to during the week. ¬†Mind you, I expected the kids to be bigger, I didn’t expect there to be 10 times more of them and it to be MASS CHAOS! ¬†I watched from the parent’s room as the boys ran in two different directions and almost got trampled. ¬†They didn’t understand that kids were forming lines to take turns jumping and using the equipment. ¬†So off went my shoes and I headed to the sea of kids to help the two boys out.

We jumped on the trampolines. ¬†We jumped into the giant pit of foam blocks. ¬†At one point the boys were getting stuck in the foam blocks (I swear it’s like quick sand trying to get out of this thing) and Jaden leans over the edge and reaches out his hand. ¬†He yells, “Isaac, quick! Grab my hand! ¬†I’ll save you! ¬†You’re my bestest friend ever!” ¬†Super cute, right?

As the night went on, I could tell when the boys kicked into overtired mode. ¬†They started giggling and getting really silly. ¬†At one point Isaac just plopped over and laid flat on his back in the middle of the floor. ¬†I looked down over him and asked him if he was tired. ¬†He nodded … then jumped to his feet and ran off to the next thing. ¬†Pretty sure he just kept moving so he didn’t fall asleep standing up.

We finished up the night with getting a treat out of the vending machine. ¬†I handed each boy a dollar bill and helped them push the buttons. ¬†Of course both boys picked out candy – noooo they couldn’t have picked¬†something¬†like goldfish crackers or pretzels, could they? ¬†Ha!

Our first school friend play date was wonderful! ¬†The boys played well together and they both had a lot of fun! ¬†I really hope we can continue having these kinds of play dates ūüôā ¬†And to think I was so nervous about having the first play date!!

Love, Mel

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December 14, 2012 · 11:26 pm

An overdue update

I wish I felt more inspired to write these days. There are tons of thoughts, revelations and meditations all floating around in my head. They just don’t seem to want to flow to paper when I finally have time to blog. I usually feel inspired to write something profound after my morning shower (probably a little weird but true) or after I’ve read a chapter in a new book I’m reading, “Un-Glued”. Which I totally recommend to read … But more on that later.

I was thinking about how I was thankful that school would be starting up soon. I desperately miss the quiet two hours in the middle of my day while the babies napped and jaden was still at school. And then I thought about how much I would miss him after the first week or so. How with each year he gains more independence and he will be spending more and more time away from home. I reminded myself to find the strength to embrace these days, as crazy and stressful as they are, for one day they will be over. That doesn’t mean I don’t still look forward to the comfort of our old routine … I just need to take a few moments here and there over the next week to appreciate what I have.

Which reminds me … Jaden lost his first tooth the other night! I’d been begging him to just pull it for two weeks and it finally popped out when we were wiggling it in the mirror after we brushed teeth! He was so surprised that it didn’t hurt! His wide eyes when it all happened were priceless! He was even more excited when he found a dollar bill under his pillow the next morning from the Tooth Fairy!

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If only that still worked with adults! Just imagine if it only took someone hiding a dollar bill under your pillow for you to wake up with a smile on your face that would last all day. Imagine being so excited you had to tell everyone you came in contact with — Neighbors, Wal-Mart cashiers, bank tellers, barber, mailman, your boss … You name it! Well that’s what Jaden did at least …

Love, Mel

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