Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy Heart Anniversary Malkolm

It seems I'm on the quarterly update plan. I think I'm really on the fly by the seat of my pants update plan, if there is such a thing.

I'm actually starting a new blog here pretty soon -- so I don't know how much longer I will be posting here, if at all. Part of me wants to take all this down, but every time I go back to read it, I remember. And I think it is important to remember because time has a way of stealing details that are important and meaningful, and that need to stick around.

As far as Malkolm taking over the blog, I think I'm going to have to chalk that up to an idea who's time has passed -- because although he says he wants to, he really doesn't seem all that interested in taking it over anymore. But that's really okay by me.

I gotta say, it was a bit of a strain for him (and all of us), last year toward the end of our TV interviews and such. When the media started to be more concerned about how our story related to "health care" politics and not about a kid who with unwavering faith, was more concerned about helping others with helping himself.

Ahh, well. All that aside ... Today is the day. One year ago, my young 9-year-old son had open heart surgery. We were sitting in that room ... the room with the colors once so bright, now with a more muted palette and hazy edges as age takes it's toll on the clarity of my memory.

So much as happened since that day. So many life things, so many little miracles and big blessings ... so many amazing memories I want to etch in my heart forever -- I just can't even begin to describe my feelings about all of it (I know, that's a miracle in itself, eh?).

This now 10-year-old does battle his old habits of inactivity, and does struggle still at times, though not because of his heart, but moreso because of him not being in great shape. I keep reminding him that he is now going through stuff that many kids went through years earlier so it won't necessarily be an easy road ahead. Ironically, as he's learning how to participate in P.E. and other activity-types of things, he's realizing how he is unable to participate in P.E. and other activity-types of things just yet.

It's clear to me that he does need to stay hydrated, and he doesn't do a great job of drinking water all the time. It's clear to me that he really needs to exercise more and get into the habit of doing this at least 4-5 times per week, for the rest of his life, but he doesn't do as much exercise as he should. Right now, we're lucky to get two days per week in. Can't say that I set the best example in that regard.

However, things are definitely progressing in the right direction. And I'm okay with that.

Right now, Malkolm is actually sick -- he's not happy about having to miss school tomorrow, but it seems he's got pneumonia, so it won't just be tomorrow, it will probably be at least till next week. He's been working on a video project for his class, and he was supposed to present it on Friday, but I think he'll be missing that presentation. I don't know. We shall see I guess -- I was thinking there is a possibility I could take him to school to present and watch the other kids' presentations, but it just depends on how he's feeling. Going to play it by ear.

Once he's totally done with the video, I'll try to post it here, but I'm just not sure how big it is. I think it's about three minutes long.

For now, I just have to say that I'm just happy he's here. That all my kids are here. That my husband is here and that I get to benefit from all of that because I'm here too and we're together. And I mushy gushy love all of them. Thank you God for my family. Thank you for allowing me to feel this amazing unending waterfall of love and joy that you have provided through them to me. You ROCK.

What a year. What a year indeed.



Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Song of a Spoon and an Escalator

Wow -- has it really been since October since I posted? So much has happened -- most of which, I'm happy to say, has been general every-day life stuff. You know, us getting busy with the kids at school, me very busy finding more and more creative ways to miss dentist appointments, eye appointments and generally just lose my mind altogether.

Someone told me today that you give up a little part of your brain every time you have another child. Oh golly do I believe that!

I remember when I was young, my mom would do something like tell me to get a spoon. As I would make my way to the silverwear drawer, my mom would start to sing her command -- "a spooon a spoooon, get me a spooon dear, a spoooon and spooon, a pretty little silver spoooooon" and I remember thinking that was so funny. She would just sort of space out with her little song for a while until I arrived with the spoon and then she'd thank me and that was it. Song was over, unacknowledged. For a long time, even as a teen, that was one of my favorite stories to share about my mother ... not so much because I was a self-centered youth and thought my mother was off her rocker, but moreso because I just thought she was so funny and nice.

As much as I hate to admit this, I have definitely sung my fair share of spoon songs, and just recently, I heard Malkolm singing one of his own (sorry kiddo! LOL!!). Although, I gotta say it's pretty amazing how things look different from different angles and different places. Looking back at my mom's spoon songs now, I can see the genuine joy that she had when she was dealing with us. How she gave and gave and gave and never really asked for anything in return. I can see now that is sort of embodied the innocence of her singing; the contentment she had in caring for us. As a child, I was mostly blind to that, I just had this wonderful mom whom I loved and whom I knew loved me, even if we argued or even though I got spanked sometimes.

I know my siblings and I were not the most well-behaved children ever. When I think about some of the stuff we used to do and say when we were young and I just feel like I need to call my mother every day and apologize for being such an unruly child! But the one thing we always knew is that mom loved us and the joy she exhibited when talking about us or even singing her spoon songs was pure.

In that sense, I am looking back at Malkolm's surgery. I just read this blog tonight from start to finish. (I decided sleep is overrated anyway) And I just realized that is the first time since the surgery that I have read through this whole thing. In a way, I can see how writing all of this down helped me so much to understand the feelings I was dealing with at the time, but mostly, I'm happy to have it as a reminder of where we were and what we went through and more importantly the faith that Malkolm had and has, and how much I have personally grown in my own faith since then. Looking at it here, about nine months later, I can remember the emotions and fear and not sign for those packages, and I know things are just as they should be.

Malkolm is having some issues with arrhythmias - nothing dramatic, but there is a possibility he may have to go back on his meds to keep things at bay.

I begrudgingly admit that did have a "freak out" moment in December when Malkolm was having chest pains. The surgery was so successful and his recovery has been SO great, I just don't think I even thought that anything could go wrong at this point. To be honest, I didn't really think about it anymore. Sometimes I even forgot he had heart surgery except when I noticed his increased energy levels and of course those gigantonormous scars he's got on his chest.

Anyway, his school had called and said he was sent to the nurse's office with chest pains. When I got the call and she explained to me what was going on, the moment I hung up the phone, I 100% panicked. The baby had just pooped, I had to change her diaper before I could get out the door, I wasn't even dressed, needed to get dressed and call the doctor. I called Sia and he didn't answer and I completely lost it. I needed to call the doctor. Oh my word the doctor. What was his name again?! Oh where did I put that folder with all the contact information? What doctor do I call -- the rhythm specialist in Atlanta or the group of doctors that comes from Augusta -- oh my word what are their names? I don't even know their numbers!!! Breathe, breathe - oh my gosh has anyone seen the wet wipes?!!!!

I changed the baby, got dressed and started looking through the contacts on my phone, trying to see through the tears leaking out of the corners of my eyes -- Malkolm had to have had at least five different doctors, any of whom I could have called at that point but I could not remember a single name. Finally, I stumbled across a name that looked familiar and I called the number, explained what was going on -- trying not to think that my son might be having a heart attack at school while I am running around at home trying to figure out how to re-attach my head. The doctor was very calm and collected and boy did he do a good job of talking me down (Thank you for that, Dr. Lutin). After I got off the phone with him I felt a little more sane and capable of running a motor vehicle.

I called my older sister and we prayed together on the phone for Malkolm as I made my way to his school to pick him up and take him to the Emergency Room. I got off the phone with her and then called the school to let them know I was on my way and would be there in just a couple minutes.

Long story short, Malkolm is growing. His bones are growing and still healing from the surgery and his heart and chest is growing around this piece of metal safety net that records every thing that happens with his heart, every minute of every day. These things are not going to be comfortable and sometimes they will hurt. Just the nature of the beast. *sigh* I can handle that.

I just keep thinking how stupid I was not to have all the contact information handy, and I am completely floored at how I just totally flipped out; it was like I went back to square one with my faith. What in the world happened?! How could I get so far away from the peace that I had become so accustomed to?

Just like the metaphor goes, life is like an escalator. At the top is the Lord. The escalator is moving downward. When you're walking up toward God, you're actually staying in one place, not really making any progress. When you stand still, you are actually moving away from the Lord. In order to make headway up the escalator, you have to move faster. You have to run. It seems I had gotten comfortable and stopped running. I now look back at this blog here in the wee hours of Saturday morning and I remember what it feels like to run and I am running again. I'm tired, but I will keep running.

Thank you Lord for another day with my baby. I love being a mom, spoon songs and all.



Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fried Chicken and Waffles

This morning, Malkolm woke me up to ask me where the baking powder was. It was 6:00 a.m. and I just stared at him, trying to wrap my sleepy head around the idea of him asking for baking powder -- I thought for a moment, maybe I was dreaming. Looked at the clock, looked back at him. Was he really there? Malkolm nudged me again. "Momma, Momma -- I'm making waffles as a surprise for Malia, I need the baking powder, can you please tell me if we have any and where it is?"

I shook my sleep off a bit, and told him where it was and thought, how sweet, he's making waffles for his sister as I fell back off into slumber (I still had another 30 minutes to sleep, wasn't ready to give that up). Malia had missed several days of school because she's been battling strep and some kind of respiratory thing for the past week and today was her first day back. Malkolm wanted to make her first day back to school special and decided to make the waffles.

He had gotten up early to work on a story for class, so when he finished he went to, looked up a waffle recipe and printed it out. He followed it to the letter, and when I woke up, breakfast was almost ready ... with one small snafu.

I was looking at the batter, and everything appeared to be a-ok. I saw some flecks of something floating in the batter and about the same time, I noticed a savory smell coming from the bowl. At that point, I was wondering what the recipe called for that would create this smell, which, as the moments lengthened into minutes, really began to smell not quite right. I asked him what he put in, and he didn't mention anything out of the ordinary -- the recipe looked like a normal waffle recipe.

It was then I noticed the plastic bag on the counter. The plastic bag half-full of flour that was spiced and ready for "shake and bake" chicken. The bag that had about two more cups of spiced flour in it when I went to bed the night before. Ahhhh, my baby. He had used the flour with the garlic, pepper, salt, thyme and a myriad of other spices that were just right for chicken coating and gravy, but not so much for morning waffles.

When he realized what he had done, tears filled his eyes, and he started to cry, I was explaining how proud I was of him for doing this -- for not only trying to make these on his own but especially for taking the initiative to treat Malia so preciously. My condolences didn't really seem to hit home right away, but we watched the waffle on the waffle iron cook, almost as if we were mourning a goldfish passed. The smelly waffle came out perfectly shaped and formed ... albeit completely inedible.

I quickly popped a couple of Eggo waffles in the toaster for the kids and they ate them breakfast before heading off to school. In spite of the savory waffle incident, my heart was dancing. I knew he was hurt that his waffles weren't quite what he expected, but I loved him so much for trying!

This 10-year-old, never having made waffles before, dusting off the waffle maker and ignoring the Bisquick in the cabinet, rolling up his sleeves and make these waffles for his sister before the sun was up.

As a mother, you know, sometimes I wonder if I'm getting this mother thing right. I make a decision about some disciplinary action, or I say something out of anger that I have to apologize for -- or I don't set a good example with how I handle things. I feel like I am a horrible example in so many ways, I am usually questioning whether or not I've done the right thing -- was I too harsh? Was I too lenient? Am I being fair? Did I overreact? Did they just see me sneak that extra piece of cake?

And, for sure, we have the usual sibling fights ... the competition to see who can get to their toothbrush first ... the shoulder bumping as the try to position themselves to be the first one out the door ... the snarky button-pushing comments when they've had a bad day and aren't getting their way ... all of this happens on a regular basis between my eldest two, but when I see them doing something like this -- so unselfish and heartfelt -- I get a glimpse of how they will be when they are older; friends. Calling each other just to talk, or arranging visits. Leaning on each other for support when something difficult or emotional happens. Being there for one another as they grow up and find their own paths outside of our home; as they move into grown-up land and have their own families.

Sometimes when they are at each other's throats, I get so angry and I just want to ground them for life and take away every privilege known to man, but when stuff like this happens, I can see that we are making progress. We are moving in the right direction ... and that's a pretty good feeling.

Homemade waffles or not, it was a swell morning.



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Turning 10 and Other Things

Well, it's five days away from his 10th birthday. I look back on the past year and marvel how time can go by so fast. Remember when you were little, summer seemed like it lasted forever? At this point, I'm wondering if somehow the summer months were shortened.

Malkolm came home from school last week and told me about the fire drill they had. He said "You know Mom, I could really tell a difference when we were going out for the fire drill. It wasn't hard to keep up with everyone like it used to be!" AMAZING!!

Taking out a bit of muscle (about the size of a deck of cards) and installing that defibrillator has made all the difference in the world for his quality of life. He's completely off his heart meds, his energy levels are through the roof compared to what they used to be, and he's back to his happy self, seemingly with more confidence than ever.

I bought some scar patches to put on his scars to soften and lighten them, and he wasn't too thrilled about the idea. I asked him why and he said he wanted to remember what happened and that these scars reminded him and he was proud of getting through all that. Of course, then he added "and don't girls like scars?" Sure thing son. Sure thing.

I have to say ... God has been so so so good to our family. Bringing my son and our family through this experience, allowing us to see the blessings all the way through. Looking back, I can really see that all the energy and love and support we received through this experience made everything so much easier for us. It's like God knew exactly what we needed and put all the puzzle pieces in place for us to have that.

As we approach this date, I am thinking a lot about what we've been through. I can't believe Malkolm had open heart surgery less than six months ago, and here he is, running, jumping on the trampoline, just finally getting to be the kid that was always there wanting to participate but never really getting to. I look at my other two young ones and I can FEEL God's love for me flowing through them, and even if I lost all of this tomorrow, I've SEEN that love and I understand what it means to be His child and I know I have been blessed beyond anything that I could ever hope for ever deserve.

I recently had a miscarriage and the peace that I have about it, the kind of peace that can only come from God, didn't really make sense to my friends. They were telling me -- "Jennifer, really it's okay to be upset you shouldn't try to be strong all the time, it's okay to be sad." But I really am totally okay. And you know, it's not what I would have chosen, but I know things are as they should be. Everything has it's place.

I think going through Malkolm's surgery, seeing his complete faith about how God was in control ... it's affected me on so many levels, and has renewed my own faith, a faith that continues to grow stemming from the faith shown by my 9-year-old son. Whether or not I agree with anything that happens is really not the point. It's the understanding and awareness that God lives in the forever now. He sees everything from this moment to 500 years from now in an instant. How can we possibly even begin to fathom the scope of that?

On that note, I just want to PRAISE the Lord for the blessings that we have, for the life he's given us, for the trials he's brought us through that make us stronger and for the time, however brief or long, we have with our loved ones. God is good. God is in control. Thank you Lord for taking this weight of worry off my shoulders and I pray that you do the same for anyone who might be reading this.



Friday, April 30, 2010

Scratch, Scratch, Scratch!

It's April 30th and my scars are healing up quite nicely. I went to school this Monday, and it's been going great. I'm not allowed to carry my backpack for awhile (yippee!), not allowed to go to recess for awhile, and not allowed to go to P.E. (at least I get to play on the computer!).


There's a cool program on my computer that I downloaded called Scratch. It is a program where you can create games, art, music videos, videos, and more. You make them on the program and then you put them on the website. Recently, I've made a few games, some animation, and even a contest! If you want to see something I've made, click here. There's a lot of cool things on scratch, but also a lot of inappropriate things.


A few books I've been reading lately are in the Percy Jackson Series. It's about a boy who's the son of Poseidon (the water god in Greek mythology). He goes through many things that are very adventurous, and the trail of books leading up to the last book is so suspenseful. In the first book, he discovers he is a son of Poseidon and is accused of stealing Zeus's lightning bolt.

In the second book, he has to go into the Sea of Monsters (the Bermuda Triangle) to retrieve some magic fleece -- called the Golden Fleece -- to heal the tree that protects the camp that the demigods (son/daughter of a god/goddess) go to to be safe.

In the third book, they go to save Artemis (goddess of hunt) from Atlas, who found someone to replace him, and then Artemis took pity on that girl.

In the fourth book, they go in to the Labyrinth to find Daedalus, the maker of the Labyrinth, to get Adriane's string, which helps you through the Labyrinth.

I just want to let you know, but, I was just exploring the blog features, and i put some things on my blog page. I put a fish thing at the top, but my mom deleted it. There is a pin ball game on the side, and a pictures of puppies at the bottom. She told me the fish was an ad (oops).

I will give more updates later. Thank you for reading my blog!


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Getting Back to Normal Life

Well, we are still signing stories. We mailed all of them out, but some were unsealed, some were empty envelopes, some only had the note from Malkolm. *whew*

But it seems the bulk of them have been received without incident. We have extra stamps, and Malkolm is still signing stories to be ready for any we might need to send again.

Big thanks to Melissa, Shawn and family for your help in putting all those labels on and helping us get everything stamped. It was nice to be able to just stuff the envelopes as Malkolm finished signing ...

Malkolm went to a Boy Scouts meeting tonight for the first time since his surgery -- and he will be graduating this weekend. They boys all clapped and cheered when he came in. How cool was that?!! Well, he's missing the graduation which is at a campsite, but he will officially be a Webelo (not even sure how to spell it yet!) after this weekend! He's pretty excited about getting to wear the tan shirt.

Things are going to move fast -- we have a couple more follow-ups before the end of school and then it will be summer! I LOVE SUMMER! Just having the kids around all the time is one of the coolest things I can think of -- I love to hang out with them. They get along well most days, although we do have our moments where everything is a competition or argument. Who can eat their pudding faster? Who can take a shower the fastest? Who can get to the mailbox first? LOL! ahhhh, man, I love being a mom. Love it.

We're taking Malkolm to school every day now, no bus for a while. He likes being a car rider ok, but he says he misses hanging out with his friends on the bus.

Things are slowly getting back to normal. And I think normal is a good thing.



Saturday, April 24, 2010

If Only there Were Such a Brain Pill™

We licked the last envelope, pressed on the last stamp, wrote the last address ... finally got all the rest of the original orders for Malkolm's story out in the mail today. There are still about 20 who haven't paid, and about 50 transactions canceled because people decided they didn't want it for whatever reason. I expect payments to be trickling in, or notes from people letting me know we forgot to seal the envelope (!! thought at first there was a faulty box of envelopes, but after hearing the descriptions, I think we just forget to seal some before we sent them out -- only about 10 so far, hopefully that will be the bulk of it)

It's been an eventful week.

My 4-year-old smashed her hand in the door at the post office. Her finger actually. She panicked and pulled it out instead of pushing the door open, so in addition to the heavy bruising, there is also quite a large bit of skin damage, but she is doing better.

We finally figured out that if Malkolm only signed instead of signing and writing the numbers on, that things moved much quicker. So Malkolm signed, and I wrote the numbers and we finished! I never realized how annoying paper cuts on my tongue and lips could feel. If I never lick another envelope it will be too soon. I heard there were pre-sticky envelopes ... yesterday. Ok, well. That's cool. Maybe next time.

Malkolm finished his first week of school. Only half-days, but school nonetheless! Kind of exciting. He finished his project for the economics unit. I'm going to post it below.

We kept the house clean the entire week. Not all day, but by the time we went to bed, it was almost CBS worthy. Oh, and I realized that CBS posted Malkolm's story under Politics. Things make a lot more sense now.

I had a long talk with Malkolm's Discovery teacher and she told me all about her interview with CBS. She spoke of Malkolm's character and how he is, his work ethic and such -- and they only used ONE line of her interview. The one that talked about Malkolm being a natural problem solver. And now I know why they only used that line and why they used the clips they used and included the half-information they did.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, and maybe I am a little naive. Ok, well, I do have that tendency now and then, but I just didn't expect it to be lumped in with the health care politics. Here I am posting on a Politics story about why it shouldn't be a politics story. LOL! I've posted several times, basically reiterating what I said in the last post, but probably a shorter version. I think it's fair to say, in general, people seem to be mostly accepting when I post about what I think Malkolm's story is about (not Luna, but the whole selling the story on Ebay thing). It doesn't really bother me that much, but I felt it worth mentioning.

I started working on some of my creative firm work for the first time in more than a month. I am wondering at this point if I am going to be able to keep up with the volume of work. I know for sure we're not taking on any more clients, just taking care of the ones we've got. One thing that has come about through all this is my realization that I do not want to spend the bulk of my day in front of a computer, I want to spend as much time with the kids as possible.

Being here is not enough. I've been SO spoiled for the last few weeks, and now that I have a taste of it, I don't want to stop eating.

On that note, here is the writing portion of the economics project Malkolm did for school this week. He had fun working with InDesign to create the package and the ad that went with it. I was impressed with how much he retained from our discussions about entrepreneurship.

Without further a due:


My product is called Brain Pill™. The Brain Pill™ is a pill that, when taken properly, you will instantly know how to do a certain skill, like golfing, how to fly a plane, karate, etc. For example, your son expects you to go skateboarding with him, and he’s really looking forward to it. You are going to be busy all the time until the skateboarding, and you don’t know how to skateboard. All you would need to do is take the pill, and you would then know how to skateboard! This product would give the opportunity to people who have trouble finding time to learn. The Brain Pill™ would surely help a lot of people.


The resources I am going to need are capital, labor, and I will provide entrepreneurship, land and management. Just so you know how much capital I am going to need, the things used to make the pill is: Chopped plant (gingko viable), a powdered rock (unobtanium), and a secret formula that has two chemicals in it (cranium volatile and cerebrum concord). The cost of each bottle of pills will be $50 to $200 per bottle. The simpler the skill is, the less expensive it is. So the golfing pills will be worth $50 per bottle. It will take about $10 to make a bottle of pills (including creating the pill, packaging it and advertising it), so our profit margin (or net profit) will be $40 per bottle.


We are going to sell it at stores like Walgreens, Wal-Mart, etc. For the golf Brain Pill™ specifically, we will advertise it in two papers called USA Today and the New York Times. For different types of Brain Pills™, we will advertise in different areas. For example, a cooking Brain Pill™ would be advertised in a cooking magazine or a commercial on a cooking channel. The golf Brain Pill™ will be put in USA Today and the New York Times because a business person uses golfing as a way to calm down the mood as they explain things to clients, and business people read newspapers like USA Today and the New York Times.


We will soon expand to baby food so babies can easily learn their shapes, colors, letters, and phonics. As soon as the baby learns letters and phonics, she/he can soon learn reading! The pills are for ages 25 and older, while the baby food would be for babies and toddlers. For children and young adults in elementary school to high school/early college, we can possibly create drinks (chocolate milk, fruit punch, etc.) that can help them learn skills like karate or skate boarding.

Ahhh, if only there were such a thing.