My birthday happened last week. I am a combined total of 36 years old now… even though I thought I was 36 all last year. I just may be 36 for many years to come. I was spoiled for my birthday year by so many! My friends and family are amazing. It’s great to have people show you love isn’t it?! But what happens when totally unexpected-surprise-blessing type things happen?
You I ugly cry at the dinner table- in a nice restaurant- that’s what happens. Stick with me. This is a longer, more unbelievable one.
The week leading up to my birthday was a doozie (which also DEFINTELY had something to do with the ugly cry a week later). We’ve had tooooooo many doozie weeks lately. I’ve been tired. Not the “I want to go to bed kind of tired,” but the “I can’t get out of bed to accomplish anything because I can’t even anymore,” kind of tired. The firery darts have left some burn marks for sure.
<— This kind of tired, have you watched this short, adorable video yet? Click the photo. You’ll love it.
Last Friday, we were holding tightly to one of our oldest boys after he rolled his car going 50mph into a ditch. That’s a phone call from my son that I will never forget. After an ambulance ride, x-rays, CAT scans, more than one IV, and an overnight stay at the hospital, he was released without a scratch! We are beyond amazed, thankful and praising God he’s still here with us. The inventor of the seatbelt as well as General Motors for the durability of their Impalas get our deepest and most sincere gratitude.
Sunday afternoon we had another run-in with the County Sheriff. Yet again, the person who must have it out for us in one way or another, continues to call the Sheriff on my kids. They can’t ride scooters on the road. They can’t play football in the yard and they certainly can’t be off of our front porch. What happened to the days when it was a good thing to play OUTSIDE?! And furthermore, what happened to the time when people could stop in and talk to the parents of said children if they had an issue while driving past our house-yet again?! So frustrating! I was ready to sell and move. The poor Sheriff got the brunt of my frustration with the passerby’s choices.
Sunday night, sometime around 9pm. Adam and I headed to town to tow our other oldest’s car to the local auto shop. We arrived shortly after the Defiance City Police officer and the Defiance Fire Department left the scene of what looked like a car fire. Luckily, a heater core hose just made an extra large mess, scared a couple of teenagers and a very helpful neighbor near their location. We just keep making deposits into our mechanic’s college fund for his kiddos with all the vehicle issues we’ve had in the last year. Ha!
So in three days, our names were on the radar of:
- the Ohio State Highway Patrol
- the Richland Township Fire Dept
- Defiance Regional Medical Center
- Defiance County Sheriff Dept
- Defiance City Police
- Defiance City Fire Department
That has to be some sort of record right?! I can’t make this stuff up.
Tuesday morning the #caboose took off her poopy diaper and sat down in the little boys’ bedroom- AGAIN. It’s not the first time. Ugh. After I got her showered and cleaned up, I had an inch or two of toilet water (and other yucky items) all over our bathroom floor. Something was defintely stuck in the toilet. Double sigh. Wait, triple sigh. That was before I took the three boys to school.
I then made it to work and the THOUSAND pound (exaggeration because I’m feeling dramatic) stove outside of our office was stolen. Poof, gone! I legit couldn’t stop laughing. New address: the looney bin.
Wednesday, I began totally not feeling well while also trying to keep the #caboose healthy for her upcoming PET scan is a chore with all the sickness going around right now. By that afternoon, Adam and I were finally able to see what caused the toilet probs. Let’s just say an EXTRA LARGE spool of thread in a two year old’s hands can be mighty dangerous when a toilet is involved. Bonus for Wednesday, we got a new toilet ring too. Seesh.
Thursday was HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me day. I was spoiled by friends and family. It feels good to be loved. Everyone loves to be loved. I took the day off. Off from everything: pressure, thinking, cleaning, cooking, everything. I took the day off of thinking/worrying/praying about Elyse’s next trip to Cleveland Clinic this coming Tuesday for her PET scan. I took a break. I was so spoiled for the next three days. By Friday evening, Ellie was asking, “Is it still your Birthday mom?!”
Now to Saturday where my point to all of this craziness comes in. Our oldest boys had an indoor soccer game in Rossford so for the first time in a VERY long time, all ten of us piled in the van and headed that way. We had a plan to eat out together as a family afterwards… for my birthday! Turning 36 is pretty awesome.
Does anyone else out there take their entire family of 10 to watch kids play a football game? Soccer maybe? Wrestling match possibly? I didn’t think we were even going to make it out of the driveway in one piece. Man, it’s HARD. We do not do it very often, unfortunately. Adam and I split up sooo much to make things around here work. Saturday went pretty well all things considered. Elyse ran onto another soccer field during the game but all she accomplished was smiling at the fans cheering on their little girls. No goals scored for her, yet anyway. (Lord help me and please refer to the Looney Bin address above!)
The soccer game ended just before 5pm so I thought I’d make a call and put our name in on the call ahead seating list. Plans go better in my mind more times than I can count. Surely it would take a while to load all of the kids back in the van and drive to the restaurant, so I thought we’d have good timing on this one! WRONG. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I tried calling four different restaurants in Toledo that offer call ahead seating. Each one of them was either rude, booked until 8:30p or transferred me to a manager because our party was so large… and when speaking to them would have to wait until 8:30p or 9p to eat just like all the others. Cue tears. Insert the words, “I quit” and “let’s just go home” came to mind. One last call to Carrabba’s Italian Grill. (Are we seriously thinking about taking all EIGHT of our kids there?!) This restaurant said their current regular wait time was 10-30 mins if we wanted to come in, bring the kids and wait to see what happens. That was the most promising option so we headed that direction. Adam checked us in and we strolled slowly to wait in line inside.
As time ticked on, we checked out the bathroom more times than I can count. We had cell phones going with games and distractions. Finally, after about an hour of waiting, Elyse (#caboose aka the baby girl) was D-O-N-E. Honestly, we all were because we were so hungry. The sweet waitresses and hostesses brought out some bread and a cup of milk with a straw (her FAVORITE) as she was over trying her suippy cup. Tick tock. Tick tock. Our “I spy” game had lost its pizazz, the basketball game kept some of our party’s attention but it was now nearly over and I was holding on by a thread from both being hungry and knowing just what my kids (and their parents) can handle. That’s when I noticed an older gentleman walk past to exit the establishment and give me one of the most unapproving looks I’ve seen in a VERY long time. Crushed. My thread was broken in that instant. Thoughts and feelings came rushing in and momma bear wants to come out. Sometimes the smallest of things can “break the camels back.” The crazy part about this man, I wonder if he was oblivious to the look on his face?
That broke me. Tears began to fall slowly as I stared at my amazing group of kids who did PHENOMENAL in my opinion, standing in line for what would end up being one hour and twenty minutes. We honestly couldn’t have done it without such helpful staff. My eyes caught Adam’s and I said “let’s just go” and Noah AND Adam both responded with “No, we’re staying here.”
“You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged, oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
The darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small.”
I took off for the bathroom to take a breath and sit Elyse down on the baby chancing station. She might be little, but after standing and holding her for that long, she gets heavy!
The kids were coloring with crayons and books when I came out and about 3 minutes later we were seated. How awesome are the workers there?!
Dinner was fantastic! I ordered my favorite dish. The kids were off the charts amazing in my opinion. They played with pizza dough, ate bread and drank pop/milk. Hey, we were celebrating! When the food came, it was like peace had fallen. Our waitress was the sweetest thing…
“Show me a smile then
Don’t be unhappy
Can’t remember when
I last saw you laughing
This world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
Just, call me up
‘Cause I will always be there”
… and one of the managers made another stop by our table to check on us. Every single person we came in contact with went out of their way to make sure we were having a great time. This time he handed me an envelope and told me to “read it when I got the chance” and “Happy Birthday” and “dessert was coming too.”
Get ready to cue the ugly crying! With my family intently staring at me, I read through what at first I thought was a standard printed Carrabba’s “Happy Birthday” letter, but as I continued to read… each sentence came to be the farthest thing from cookie cutter.
This gentleman, a manager, on a BUSY Saturday night, had taken the time to write this amazing heartfelt letter… I sure do hope it’s okay to share this, but I can’t help but boast about such an amazing place because of it’s people. I was FLOORED. Not many things happen like this for us. I can’t even begin to thank them enough. Our kids each wanted their turn at reading what made momma cry. I can guarantee they were moved by such a gift.
A letter that would end my entire week with feeling like everything is going to be okay. Like someone knew how hard life had been lately… even though I know it could definitely be worse than this culmination of crazy (somewhat laughable) events. Somehow, one tiny little word made it in this letter from an absolute stranger— poise… which transfers to the word grace in my mind. #grace2017
Grace is the word God had given me for this year. We are working on giving each other more grace. I am working on giving myself more grace. I was astounded to be described as acting in such a way. What an amazing blessing from a phenomenal staff at an extremely delicious restaurant… but also what a grace-filled reminder from my Father who loves me. #mydarling He reminds me that He sees me so much differently than I see myself— I’m a work in progress in that department too.
I hope and pray I don’t keep wanting to give up and go home at the hardest points. I want to push through to experience the view at the top of each mountain! It sure is beautiful up there. I pray that each step of the way I learn to extend grace to myself and others.
I sooooo want one of my “True Colors” to be GRACE in every season… no matter what situations come our way. The repeated hugs and grateful handshake do not say “thank you” enough. This gesture will be remembered for years to come.
If you haven’t watched this movie, check out this clip with one of my new favorite songs. My girls and I LOVE this cheesy movie.
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
I see your true colors
Shining through (true colors)
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow
Ooh ooh ooh like a rainbow