Crying Over Spilled Oatmeal


Leah spilled her oatmeal as she carried her bowl from the dining room to the kitchen.

I heard the splat.

I sighed and grabbed a wet wash cloth.

“Hey, Mom! Look! It landed in the shape of a heart!” she said.

She took the washcloth out of my hand and cleaned it up by herself.

I hugged her and swallowed hard as my contacts started to blur. What if I had yelled at her when I heard the oatmeal fall? I might have missed out on this moment, and she may have been afraid to spill and make mistakes in the future — the opposite of what I want for her.

Yesterday, Aiden, who earlier in the day had adamantly insisted that his parents don’t love him, got a monster thorn in his foot. He limped home, crying.

I tweezed it out of his very dirty foot, and then washed and dried his feet.

He climbed into my lap (he doesn’t really fit anymore.. it was more like being sat upon, but I didn’t mind at all) and put his arms around my neck and said, “Thanks, Mom. I DO know you love me.” His words had really hurt me, and they were apparently still on his conscience. What if he hadn’t stepped on the thorn? Would he have had a chance to make things right? What if I had yelled at him and refused to help because of his negligence for not wearing shoes outside?

In my childbirth class last night, the last one of the 12 week series, there was discussion over how disgusting it will be to change diapers. “Yeah, but you’re not just changing diapers, you are showing your kids you love them,” I said. “You are showing them you’re there for them even when they stink the most.” I hope my students remember this at 3am when they are down to their last diaper in the pack and are washing crib sheets.

If we just go through motions without love, overly-sugared spilled oatmeal, up-the-back poopy diapers, and why-aren’t-you-wearing-shoes-while-you-play-outside?!?! foot thorns can be pretty annoying.

Be thankful for and make the most of every opportunity, and humble yourself enough to allow the spills, stink and stickers get to your heart.

I need to be reminded of this, too.

Nephew Update : Levi’s Awake!

Levi, my newest nephew, has finally come out of sedation — watch out, world! ;)

Born with spina bifida on Nov. 30th 2010, my sister’s baby has gone through two big surgeries: one to repair his spine and one to put in a shunt to drain fluid from his brain.

Since his first surgery occurred when he was just hours old, he’s been under sedation pretty much since birth and it’s so very cool to see pictures of him alert.

While there are still some concerns, he’s healing remarkably really well.

Bethany has even been able to nurse him!

She writes,

He is no longer on any air, he has no bandages at all on back or head! He got a bath, we can put clothes on him…he gained a pound….shunt looks like it is placed perfectly, his head went down 1 cm over night….and the big one is that I got to nurse him 3 times today and he did perfectly! i couldn’t believe how well he knew what to do! It was very special for me. I can pick him up whenever I want to now so I spent most of the day holding him, and he looked into my eyes allll day! It was great!

My sister and her husband Mike are doing an awesome job taking care of Levi. I’m so very proud of them!

You can just tell Levi’s a little fighter with a big personality, eh?

Please stop by Bethany and Mike’s Caring Bridge site and let them know they’re in your thoughts and prayers!

Shunt Surgery Update

My sister Grace, who is at the hospital, said,

“Levi is doing pretty well. He just had his shunt surgery and the doc said it was good. Still be praying for this boy, we want things to stay good! Thanks for all the support :) ”

I love this photo because Levi’s eyes are open.


Sister’s Baby : Out of Surgery & Doing Well!

Photos taken a few moments before Levi had to leave to be prepped for surgery. My sister’s sweet smile put tears in my eyes!

Levi is out of surgery!

I just chatted with Bethany! :) (Yay! How comforting it was to have a conversation with her!)

Mike is with Levi, now.

The operating room is apparently in a different building connected by about a half-mile of underground tunnels. As soon as he was done, the surgeon ran all they way over to give her an in-person update. How thoughtful?!

The surgeon said that Levi’s anatomy was not difficult to work with and that he was very hopeful about the outcome of the surgery.

Next, they will wait to see if the swelling around the brain goes down (even as I write this, Bethany just IM’d me and said Mike called from the NICU and said swelling looks like it is already going down!) and determine if a surgery to insert a drainage shunt is needed.

Bethany asked the surgeon when she may hold Levi and he said perhaps as early as tomorrow!

It’s definitely not the easiest way to come into the world, and Levi’s not even a day old yet, but so far, things are going in the best possible way for this situation.

We’re smiling through tears over here.

Thank you for your prayers!

If you wanted read more about Levi’s story and to send a note of encouragement to Bethany and Mike, please visit their page at CaringBridge :

Update : My Sister’s Baby

This morning, my sister Bethany gave birth to her first baby, a son, named Levi.

During a routine ultrasound a few months ago, it was discovered that Levi had spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

He had been scheduled to be born Thursday by Cesarean section, but due to contractions (labor trauma would have been dangerous for him) and Bethany’s slightly elevated blood pressure, it was decided to deliver today instead of risk waiting until Thursday.

We are very excited about Levi’s birth – my first nephew!

He is welcomed by parents who have a very strong faith in the Lord and are trusting in God every step of the way.

My parents and my sister Grace were able to go to the hospital in Indianapolis to support Bethany and Mike as much as possible. Mom said he has a beautiful face and seems to be strong, despite his many obstacles. She said that Mike is doing a great job being supportive of Bethany and handling decisions for Levi’s care very well.

Although it’s a tough situation, it does not seem that there were any surprises. Through ultrasound and other prenatal tests, doctors had a course of action in place long before Levi’s birth and did an excellent job preparing Bethany and Mike for what to expect.

Positive signs

  • Birth weight over 7lbs (healthy weight)
  • Has good color
  • Does have a breathing tube but is breathing “air” as opposed to oxygen
  • Right leg is moving
  • Items of concern

  • Hydrocephalus (I’m not sure extent of severity, but it was hoped that it would have resolved itself before birth. Because of the anomaly of the spine, fluid buildup in the brain is a common complication of spina bifida.)
  • The hole in his back is about 1″ diameter.
  • His left leg does not appear to be moving and is turned inward.
  • Bethany

  • Resting after c-section
  • Incision was larger/deeper than normal c-section so as to give more room to carefully birth Levi
  • On morphine drip
  • Beth did get to touch Levi’s fingers for a few moments, but was not able to hold him.

    My mom was able to get some photos through the incubator glass.

    Doctors are waiting until Levi is “stabilized”, and then he will be admitted for surgery to repair the hole in his back this afternoon. This was anticipated. It is possible that the spine repair will help to reduce the fluid buildup in the brain and that a shunt would not be needed. It is also possible that the surgery may help with the use of his left leg.

    UPDATE – 5:15pm

    Bethany just posted on Facebook that Levi went in for surgery around 4:30pm. She writes,

    “Well folks, the countdown got cut short! Levi Morris Bracht has arrived this morning!! I have been away from him all day so far so I don’t know toooo much ;( but he is 7lbs was born at 8:45am(ish). I am doing super, and he just went in to his first surgery! please keep praying, sorry this is short but momma doesn’t know everything just yet!! pictures will be here soon! Thanks everyone!”

    Thanks for your prayers!

    If you wanted read more about Levi’s story and to send a note of encouragement to Bethany and Mike, please visit their page at CaringBridge :

    Photo credit: Elijah Phenicie (my brother) /

    Takin’ Five and Thinking About Living in a Shipping Container House

    I have a lot on my mind at the moment and not enough time to write down my thoughts!

    Here are some random tidbits :

    As of the last day of May, 2010, I am no longer in my 20s.

    This week, I decided to color my hair not just for the sake of something new and wild (like pink highlights) but to color gray! I used an awesome organic haircolor called Organic Color Systems which I found through my friend Robyn at Shear Miracles.

    One of my conversations with fellow blogger Megan Dunham at HalfPintHouse was quoted at World Magazine online!

    Our time in Japan is just about up! I will miss the karate dojo where my children and I have been practicing Shotokan karate, the lush green plant life, our close proximity to the sea, and the peaceful lifestyle of not having to lock our doors. Details forthcoming as they solidify.

    Currently, I am…

    -Working on my full accreditation through the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth… over 100 essay questions!

    -Eagerly awaiting the arrival of our Veritas Press homeschooling curriculum for the 2010-2011 school year! Micah is officially starting school this year, although we’ve been working on his reading and math skills these past two years ;)

    -Preparing for our upcoming month-long home leave to the US, just a few weeks away!

    -Researching housing made out of storage containers (We are considering building our own house when we move back to the US!)

    Check out these links on storage container housing:

    The Cordell House – Numen Development (Model we like best so far!)

    Shipping Container Housing Guide

    Qwik House

    Intermodal Steel Building Units and Container Homes


    What do you think? Could you live in a house built of shipping containers? Why does or doesn’t it appeal to you? What features would you want included in your home?

    … and now, I will fall into my bed and hopefully sleep through the night without anyone tearfully sleep-walking into my room or mistaking my stack of cloth grocery bags in the foyer for a potty!