My variegated camellia

I know it’s been a while, and that’s to be expected since we’ve been busy since Beatrice was born.  I do have a couple blog posts half-written (one being her birth story) but for now I wanted to share something shorter.

Wait, what am I kidding; I don’t do short.

With what I’m about to share I don’t intend to portray myself as especially godly.  In fact, I feel the opposite;  I am in a season of spiritual dryness.  I remember experiencing this after Imogen was born, too.  I feel tapped out mentally and emotionally.  I’m barely doing my daily BSF homework and my prayers feel like they are words spoken distantly and with little intention.

When the end of the day comes I just want to sit down on the couch and watch Parks & Rec on Netflix.  In the moments where I have some quiet while breastfeeding I sit and watch clips of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  I tell myself I need light and superficial, that I can’t handle much more.

Despite this desert, there is a little sprout.

We have a big picture window in front of our kitchen sink.  On the other side of the glass sits a camellia bush (more like a tree in our case).  We moved in July so we didn’t see it bloom last spring. Actually it was only recently that I even looked closely enough to recognize that it was a camellia.

And then, this last week, right in the center of the window, this happened.

A lone bloom.  And a pretty spectacular one at that.

I was very pleasantly surprised.  I have never seen a camellia bloom with stripes before.  I posted a photo on Facebook and was told it’s called a variegated camellia.

I have been walking by this window or standing in front of it doing dishes and thinking. Not too deep, mind you, but at least it’s a start.

It’s a little gift to me.

My mom gave me a devotional for Christmas called God Calling.  If you’ve read any of the Jesus Calling devotionals, it is similar in style but a bit more obtuse and written in more complex, older English (which I like).  In fact, it is the book that inspired Sarah Young to write her books.  If you’re not familiar with these devotionals, they are written in the first person, as if Jesus were talking directly to the reader.

This last week I was flipping back through a few day’s worth of devotionals that I’d missed and I came across March 11th, entitled “Seek Beauty.”  This stuck out at me:

“I am with you. When I wanted to express a beautiful thought, I made a lovely flower.

When I want to express to man what I am–what my Father is–I strive to make a very beautiful character.”

There you have it; that’s what my variegated camellia bloom is–a beautiful thought from God.

I gave up Facebook for Lent.  Well, I sort of did.  I’ve been back on a few times but it’s been quick and usually to post a picture.  I have not been trolling it like I ashamedly have spent a lot of my spare time doing in the last few months (years?).

It was–it does–pretty much eat away at my soul.  I’ve tricked myself into feeling, with every “like” I get on my status update, that things are better, that I’m better, that life is better, heck, even that I’m better than others.

I hoped that during this time of Lent I could empty that part of my mental and emotional space and fill it with whatever the Lord wanted to put there.

Emptying hasn’t actually been that hard, but filling back up with the worthwhile has proven much more difficult.  Yes, I troll more on Pinterest now.  And I’ve been obsessing about how my sweet little baby girl is overtired and won’t nap.  I’ve been looking in the mirror at my soft, lumpy body, discouraged. I’ve been imagining how I’m going to organize my laundry room.  Everything will be neat and organized and in control–it will all be wonderful!

I am encouraged that somehow, in the midst of all my chaos (let’s just call it what it is–idolatry) something of the goodness and purpose of Lent has gotten through, all because of that variegated camellia.

I look at it, again and again, by the mere fact that my daily routines center around that window.  It takes me away from Facebook and Pinterest, away from the way things should be, according to me or to the world, to actual reality, where God resides (which is much better).

He makes beautiful things and He’s making me beautiful.  The former is evident, the latter I ask for faith to remember and believe in.

_____

Also, along similar lines, I have appreciated what Amy Lepine has been writing about Lent and also her post entitled “The Long, Hard Winter, Right?” at Making All Things New.

And here’s some photos from February and March.

Beatrice Olive

On January 17th at 2:42 am we welcomed Beatrice Olive Haggard into our family.  She is a healthy little one, weighing 6 lbs 15 oz (the smallest of our three), and so darn cute.

Beatrice is an English name (keeping with the theme among our kiddo names) which means “bringer of joy.”

Olive was my grandmother’s name (Mother Teresa’s mom), who passed away about ten years ago.  The name is associated biblically with the olive branch, which is a sign of peace.

If you know any of our journey you’ll agree that the significance of these names is, well, significant for us.  And already through this pregnancy and Beatrice’s first week of life she has brought much joy and peace with her.

Beatrice and I are spending a lot of time nursing and snuggling and resting for now.  At night she is with Daddy, either sleeping next to him in the co-sleeper or tucked under his arm.

Ian and Imogen LOVE Beatrice.  Whenever they come back home from somewhere they run in the house to find her, wherever she is.  Ian keeps saying over and over “She’s sooo cute!”  They are adapting so well and I’m so glad they have each other through this time.

We have had wonderful help from Sarah and an outpouring of meals and offers for more help from friends from church and BSF.  I can’t say how much of a blessing these are to us as we adjust and move forward.

And of course, a birth story to come later.

Ian through his fifth year

I will have to say this year has been one of my favorite with Ian.  The last few years have been difficult for us all, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how I much I really enjoy my son.  He is blossoming in so many ways and it’s so fun to be a part of his life.

This year Ian:

  1. learned to ride his two-wheeler
  2. was baptized (which he did NOT like)
  3. went from Spiderman to Batman
  4. started going to preschool mid-year (and did so very well)
  5. got a terrible stomach flu while in New York visiting Jordan & Elysia (which he still talks about to this day)
  6. picked me A LOT of dandelions throughout the summer
  7. got the bunk bed he’s dreamed of
  8. has been able to truly play with his sister, now that she’s old enough to chase and be chased
  9. confirmed to me that his love language is quality time
  10. has been so empathetic when he sees me hurting (just this last week when I had the stomach flu he brought me my Juice Plus, a glass of club soda, and my bible because he says that’s what you need when you feel bad)
  11. found out he was having another sibling and was VERY excited upon finding out (and still is)
  12. developed a few new dance moves
  13. remained the best person in the house to find anything that’s lost
  14. had a several-month visit with Grandpa Bill & Grandma Becky and a month-long stay at Grandma T’s during the summer
  15. transitioned to his new house and new preschool very well
  16. started being more consistently and firmly disciplined (results following)
  17. went from more sullen and angry to a lot more cheerful and helpful
  18. adjusted well to having our new helper, Sarah, around to care for he and Imogen
  19. became more snuggly (yay!)
  20. blossomed into quite the artist and letter-writer
  21. continued his mad Lego-engineering skills
  22. made some new friends (though he swore he didn’t need them, he said liked his old ones just fine)
  23. had a two-night hospital visit for a nasty case of croup (he’s so stinkin’ cute and sweet when he’s sick)
  24. became very interested in space and animals, which he will tell you about at length, and in detail
  25. made his first fire in our fireplace
  26. remained incredibly photogenic (beware: you will be inundated below)

Fourth birthday party

First day of preschool in Seattle

Riding his two-wheeler

Spiderman phase

Zip-lining in the backyard

Mother’s Day Party at preschool

Riding the trailgator with Dad

End of first year of preschool (Feb-May)

4th of July Parade

First day of Pre-K in Shoreline (which wasn’t as bad as the picture implies)

Feeling crummy during his hospital stay

Batman at Halloween

Enjoying his birthday with us and Batman

Pre-K school photo

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Sadly Ian came down with a stomach bug the night before his birthday party this year, but still enjoyed himself by celebrating with Grandpa Brad and Nana Linda–and a few birthday presents, too.

Thanks to everyone who has loved him so well this year, he has so many special people in his life, and for that we are thankful.

Ian is a great kid! We love him so much.  And I look forward to seeing more of God’s ways in his life in the coming year.

I am thankful

. . . that I was able to take my kids to the pumpkin patch yesterday.  I had the energy to do it on my own and we had such a sweet, enjoyable time together.

Don’t they look so grown up?

I am thankful that my midwife’s office called today and told me all my labs were very normal (and my iron was even exceptionally good).  The numbers on paper just further confirm how I feel physically on most days.

I am thankful to be so excited to meet this new baby.  I see little ones and I feel like I can’t wait to hold mine! When I found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t have imagined feeling this way at six months. I am also excited to give birth again.

I am thankful and so very, very pleased at how Ian is growing up.  I am glad God has given me more energy, courage, direction, and conviction to be consistent with him, and how that is helping him to blossom.  This is truly answered prayer, as so many times I feel insecure about my ability to parent. Yesterday Ian told me I was the best mom ever, and I told him I was so glad I get to be his mom.

I am thankful for the Tarters.

I am thankful that Jason & I planned a trip to Monterey for this coming weekend and this won’t be one of those times (they have been frequent in the last few years), where I have to cancel because I just don’t have it in me to travel.

I am thankful that with help from Sarah (who gives me time to sleep), I am able to handle our regular load of preschool, BSF, parish group, church, and other special activities that come up.  Right now I am even able to volunteer to help sometimes.

I am thankful for sleep!  Yes, it is still assisted by certain pharmaceuticals, but I am amazed at how much my health and mood has improved with more rest.  I am also better able to discern when I need to slow down and rest more, and then actually do it without guilt (but not always without some grumpiness and a few tears).

I am thankful that even though I am feeling better, God is still putting me in positions where I have to ask for help, which makes me very uncomfortable.  I can’t say I am seizing all the opportunities that come to me, but I am thankful for the chances.

I am thankful that Seattle Children’s Hospital is so generously covering the cost of Ian’s very expensive hospital visit. Actually, I am in awe and humbled by it.

I am thankful for Lizzie, who waits patiently every afternoon to take a nap with me.  But I hate that she almost always wants to sleep right on my belly, but not before obsessively kneading it with her paws.

I am thankful for my mom and how I see God working in her life.

I am thankful for how handy Jason is and all the home improvement projects he’s completed, and the ones he has in the works.

Jason is thankful that I cook dinner, clean up the kitchen afterward, and make his lunch.  He used to do that most every night.

He’s also thankful his wife is less crazy.   He will tell you that is much more exhausting to deal with than dirty dishes.

Life is not perfect — I don’t mean to portray it that way.  I do wonder what the future holds and how we’ll fare as my pregnancy progresses and the baby comes.

But I am thankful for these things.

Big news for the Haggards

Since I last blogged in May, a lot has happened.  I may as well just dive right in with it.

1) We bought a house

and . . .

2) We’re pregnant.

Yes, I know.  When it rains, it pours.  And even if what’s falling out of the sky are good things, I’m going to be honest and say I still feel at many times that I need to run and duck for cover.

And I mean, didn’t you expect this from the Haggards (even if we don’t even expect it from ourselves)?  Have we ever failed to shock or entertain you?  (Dear God, may we please fail you someday, for my own personal sanity and my husband’s well-being.)

Many of you know either by direct conversation or in some roundabout way about either one or both of these things.  If you didn’t, well I suppose now you do because it’s on the internet.

As far as the home-buying is concerned, some of you will find it ironic that Jason got himself into the real estate market.  That is because you’ve heard him go on and on about how buying a house in Seattle is ludicrous because the market is so overpriced and yada yada yada.  I have liked renting for its security; if anything unfortunate were to happen financially we could be out of our house immediately.

But, at the beginning of May we started thinking about a house.  This was propagated by the fact that Jason’s parents were in Seattle and we were discussing the possibility of finding a home with a MIL unit that they could live in while they were helping us.  In future seasons we could use the unit to host friends and family and for our family as it grows.

We weren’t thinking all that seriously.  In fact we told our new realtor, “You know, we just want to warn you – this could be a year or two from now . . . or maybe never.” Ha.   She was probably smirking on the inside.

But despite our hesitations, some big things needed to get resolved for us in the month of May, and where we would live was one of them.  The other two were as follows:

1) Will my in-laws stay in Seattle or move on?  They weren’t having much luck finding permanent housing and figured they should make a decision by June.

2) Am I pregnant?  Yes, a little off topic.  But I knew there was a slim possibility.  Because it was so slim, I was not thinking much about it, but because God designed nature as it is, I would eventually (as in a month) find out if I was or wasn’t.

I remember very distinctly my prayers about these things.  I prayed with hopeful expectancy, which is very unlike me.

The first answer we received was that I was in fact pregnant.  I must have, deep in my subconscious, dismissed this as a real possibility because I was completely shocked.  And sort of freaked out.  I am a crazy lady and now I’m a crazy lady having another baby What, people, could possibly be next for the Haggards?!

[I will interject to say that I am pro-having babies and I am pro-having this baby.  But I was shocked nonetheless.]

Jason was also surprised but of course supportive, and he’s a flexible person to begin with. He jokes that he got what he wanted with the time frame moved up, which is fine by him.  If we found out we were having twins he would consider it an absolutely perfect situation.  Maybe, that is, until the twins actually came out of the womb and I handed them over to him.

Now that we had to factor into our living situation another human being, we knew we were going to have to move in the next nine months – whether Jason’s parents stayed or not.  Hmmm.

We had looked at one house at the beginning of May (minus a few at-home Redfin stalkings I did on my own). Amazingly it had fit all of our requirements.  It already had a MIL unit, the layout was great, it was in a pleasant neighborhood, had a backyard, was close to friends, there was easy access to the freeway, and it was not a complete dump.  If you live in Seattle, you know this is a gem.

But we both decided it was just okay.  We didn’t get any major impressions when we walked in or afterward when we talked it over.  We dismissed it because at that point we thought we only had two children.  And we moved on for another week or so, waiting for answers.

But now that I was pregnant that house was looking better and better to me.  And not even in a desperate sort of way.  I started to be excited about its possibilities and the space it did afford.  I started to feel like I could see us living there.

In a totally random sort of way we put an offer in on the house.  It had sat on the market another week and our realtor thought we could offer what we wanted to, which was significantly less than the asking price.

And that began a journey that only included a few brief conversations between Jason and I on the couch and the conclusion that we’d take one step forward, and then another, and we’d see what would happen.

And now we live in this house.  And it has been truly, truly a blessing.

In the end, our in-laws decided to move back east.  This was really hard for us. But, it has brought about a great God story.  As of a few weeks ago we have a couple living in our MIL unit, JT and Sarah, and their 10-month-old son, Josiah.  In exchange for the living space, Sarah takes care of Ian and Imogen during the weekdays so I can rest.

I cannot tell you how truly great this has been, in numerous ways.  It is helping me get better and it is a comfort to know there will be extra help when the baby comes.  And we really like JT and Sarah, and we are glad our families can mutually bless each other.  They moved out here from Michigan and were looking for housing when they saw a post I put on the Mars Hill’s website.  And now they are here with us.

[This is where I was going to post a picture of our new friends, but I figured I didn't want to totally creep them out if they ended up reading this.]

JT is looking into church-planting and Sarah has plans to finish a nursing degree and become a midwife.  How perfect to have a future midwife in our house!  Sarah and I have had some good conversations on the subject.

Jason and I took possession of the house at the beginning of July and for that month Jason worked away, getting some things remodeled, re-plumbed, etc.  Thank you to friends and family who also helped, you are very much appreciated.  You worked so that I didn’t have to.

The kids and I came back from Mother T’s at the beginning of August and JT
& Sarah moved in shortly after that. And now we are that couple who works on the house after the kids go to bed.  We’ve spent more money at The Home Depot than I care to think about.  I’m hanging pictures on the walls, Jason’s out gabbing with the neighbors, and the kids are scratching the newly refinished hardwood floors.  I guess that means we’re making it home.

Not many have actually seen the house, so I will give a few glimpses.  I preface this with the fact that you will be disappointed with these photos – they are few and not all that exciting.

Here’s the white trash side of our house.  Note the appliances and furniture in the driveway, and I left the garage door open for the full effect.  I would personally apologize to the neighbors, but I’m too much of an introvert at the moment to do so.

This is the other side of the front.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, but it’s beautifully landscaped (not by us).

Ian requested I take a picture of him, of course.

Here’s the first room we finished.  Yes, it is light pistachio, and no, Jason does not like it.  But, he loves his wife so that’s the way it is.

These are photos of the MIL unit. Technically this was the first area we finished, as we wanted it ready for JT & Sarah.  We mainly painted, cleaned the carpets, replaced some appliances and did some plumbing. (“We” means Jason).

I promise to take more photos.  I really wish I had taken some befores, but that didn’t happen.  But, here’s more general photos from July and August.

So, in the end, I still ask myself “How did we get here?!  What is going on?  Am I still having this baby and do we really live in Shoreline?”

I know I’ve fully explained it, but I still wonder sometimes. Jason and I are amazed at God’s impeccable timing and His provision.  And how simply it came together.  I mean, as simple as buying a home and being pregnant can be.

The last time I posted was over two months ago.  I was, of course, thinking about all the what-ifs, and I did imply that some in my writing.  But I was also stuck on this: “Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him” (1 Cor 7:17).

How fitting that was when I found out I was pregnant – it was assigned.  And so was the house.  And our new tenants.  And even my struggles with depression and anxiety, as I work to overcome them.

There is peace in knowing that God’s will happens.  It is happening for us Haggards.

It goes both ways

Some good things, in no particular order.

  1. Though sleep has been difficult the last two weeks, it didn’t slow me down today; I played hide and seek with my kids in the woods.  And trust me, two hours a night is a lot worse than the status quo.
  2. I didn’t yell at my husband when he wandered off in Costco yesterday.  Now I did yell at him when we were trying to order photos, but I still consider this an accomplishment.
  3. My wonderful, dear children.
  4. My in-laws, who I really like and who have been an immense help to me and good company many days as Jason works long hours.
  5. A restful Mother’s Day. Jason served us an amazing meal which he mostly prepared the day before so he wasn’t hermiting in the kitchen all afternoon (this was upon my request).
  6. I’m making jewelry, which I haven’t done since childhood.  I like giving it away and I have really enjoyed Jessica and I’s evening jewelry-making sessions.  My mom, Becky, and Linda have given me lots of old jewelry to work with but of course that doesn’t keep me from building my own collection of material to work with.
  7. I’m taking more photos and enjoying my camera, which was a wonderful gift from my dad a few years ago.
  8. Hanging out with other ladies at Jane’s clothing swap and finding some great things to take home.
  9. Finding a Vietnam-era military locker at Value Village.  Becky says her kids used Bill’s dad’s locker as a toy box when they were young. I like having meaningful things around my home, things with stories attached to them.
  10. Having some other creative projects I’m inspired to do.  In fact, being inspired is something I’ve needed for a long time and it’s coming back to me.
  11. Meeka’s post.
  12. The mornings are sometimes hard, but things usually get better as the day goes on.
  13. My psychiatric NP said I’m doing a lot better and when I actually thought about it, I agreed with her.
  14. I’m celebrating six years of writing on this blog.  For me, doing anything for six years is pretty amazing.
  15. Goodwill Hunting and Silver Lining Playbook.
  16. Reading a book on Bonhoeffer and how it has given me insight into my family’s German Lutheran heritage.  I want to learn more.
  17. The trail gator we just got for Ian.  More family bike rides are in our future.
  18. Ian’s preschool Mother’s Day party and how he showed me his classroom and told me I’m the best mom.
  19. The bags of girls clothes Adelle sent home with me and the box with filled with goodies from my Mom.  It felt like Christmas!
  20. Ecclesiastes.

Some hard things.

  1. The sleep thing.  I laid awake for two hours last night, filled with anxiety. When will this end?  What will it take?
  2. There’s a good chance Bill & Becky will leave in June.  Their renters in Georgia fell through and we don’t have a place for them to live here long-term.  Like I said, I really like them.  Even if I didn’t have the struggles I have at the moment, I would still be sad to see them go.
  3. Struggling with the idea of living elsewhere (in the Seattle area, not out-of-state).  I am intrigued by this and yet the uncertainty, the cost and the stress of moving makes me anxious.  I keep coming back to the fact that I love living where we are and that is a blessing.  And Jason and I are working pretty well together as we talk through this topic (maybe he would disagree on that?).
  4. I think you’re sensing a theme here — anxiety.
  5. A day last week when I felt discouraged and didn’t want to get out of bed.  The dark cloud was hanging, but I just had to sit up and put my feet on the floor.
  6. I’m having trouble eating regularly and being interested in eating in general.  Food is a passion for me so it’s hard, but I did get two enjoyable meals in with Dad & Linda at Ballard Pizza Co. and The Whale Wins.  If you go to Ballard Pizza Co., which you should, get The Big Moses.
  7. My children are watching way too much TV and I’m not really monitoring the content they are absorbing.  Don’t worry, it’s all of the kid persuasion, but still.
  8. The temptation to lean on other things, which is strong. But, God brings me back when I wander.
  9. I felt convicted the other day that I frequently call myself a depressed person.  But, I’m not depressed a lot of the time.  Besides, that is not who I am.
  10. I’m sad BSF is ending.  I really enjoyed my small group and I will miss our stimulating conversations.  This has been one of the most impressionable years of BSF for me.
  11. The fights I pick with Jason.
  12. My efforts to try impress people; I want them to notice me (how does this work, since I’m an introvert?). It’s tiring, and really a person struggling with mental illness doesn’t need the pressure.
  13. Jason’s working and he can’t help but keep his mind on that a lot.  But, at least he has a job.

I feel like ending with my hard things obliges me to say I’m not hanging off a cliff here and I’m not trying to be hard on myself. I just can’t help being an honest person.  I think that’s a good thing.

In fact, I am glad God uses me to say things others can’t or won’t.  I know some can relate in some way.

“Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him” (1 Cor 7:17).

Somebody else’s poop

The last few weeks have been a bit out of routine for the Haggard family.  Rebecca, my mother-in-law, had plans to visit her mom and sister in California mid-March and since I still need a babysitter for both myself and my children I decided to take the kids to my mom’s.  Jason would stay at home and decompress and then we would return and he and Ian would head off to New York to see the Franci.

I was on an upward swing mood and energy-wise, and so I felt pretty confident I could handle the day’s drive to my mom’s alone with the kids and the preparation it would take to pull it off.  Rebecca would be around to help me and watch the kids so I could pack the day before.

And really, once you’ve got the car packed and the children restrained, they can’t do much damage.  I can deal with intermittent crying.  And, as my friend endearingly calls all minivans “rolling studio apartments,” I would be driving in relative ease, with cruise control.

For merely my own entertainment, I would like to go off on a rabbit trail to explain how I view “drives.” There is the leisurely Sunday afternoon scenic type.  There’s the epic road trip, the usual high school “I’m bored, let’s just go drive around” and the unfortunate ambulatory type.  There’s the classic “let’s just keep driving until we resolve this fight and then we’ll go to our scheduled social function” kind.  I understand that all these kinds of “drives” can be necessary for both sound mind and/or body.

But, if you’re driving across the state of Washington, you just want to get there.  Let me rephrase that–I just want to get there.  That’s the “drive” you’re taking (with me). I’m with children, people.  This could take all day (and in my mind it should not).  We must NOT stop unless absolutely necessary.

Yes, I have strong opinions about this.  Ask my mom, who drove back to Seattle with me and made the mistake of having both a coffee and a Coke which caused her to have to pee more frequently that I thought a human being ought to.

(Note: Nursing or potty training children also throws this expectation all off for me.  I know they have to eat and pee, but in my opinion you might as well just not leave your house at all, which is what I, and some other moms tend to do.  Heck, if people love you enough they’ll come visit you.)

Anyway, back to the start of our trip.  Packing went very smoothly the day before.  I got to bed early, and loading the van in the morning by myself was a cinch (I prefer to do this alone anyway, because I am very particular about how it’s done–I think you see the theme that’s developing here).  We were out of our driveway at 9am (that’s a PR for me) and heading out toward 1-90.

We breezed past the outlet mall in North Bend (stopping there is one hypocritical exception I will make, but I figured we’d go there on our way back to Seattle).  We then reached Ellensburg, and then the halfway mark at the Gorge.  This was major progress!

Somewhere past George I started talking to Elysia. Our conversation lasted about an hour and as we got to the end of it, I was hearing Imogen moaning in the back.  We were close to Moses Lake and I had promised Ian we would stop there for lunch.  We pulled up to a Subway/gas station combo and I said goodbye to Elysia.

Feeling extremely good about how things were going and that it was only around noon, I opened up the van doors to free my children.  Unfortunately, what I found was Imogen covered in wet, runny poo.  It had soaked through her clothes and down into the car seat.

This incident only slightly threw me off.  Moms, we’ve been here before; it’s known territory.  You just go with the “flow” so to speak and pun intended.  I got Imogen out, wiped her and her seat down with a million wipes, did my best to contain the poo in all the places it had ended up while keeping her from wiggling out of the van, put fresh clothes on her, and put the changing pad in the car seat to cover the wet areas.

This was, I might add, witnessed by everyone walking in and out of the store since I had parked right in front of the door (for our convenience, of course).

I was hand-sanitized and with children, onto the next potty stop for Ian and myself.  I decided to take with me only what was absolutely necessary, which was my keys and the little wallet that is attached to my key chain which contains my credit cards and driver’s license.

The gas station bathroom was very tolerable and included a handicap stall, which is a must for not only the handicapped, but also those of us with munchkins.

When we entered the stall, it was hard not to notice there were quite large skid marks in the toilet (I warned you with my title this post was going to contain foreign poop, so don’t blame me now for your own imagination).  The term skid marks almost seems to understate the amount of poop that was actually in the toilet, but that is indeed what was in there.

I flushed the toilet, but it was to no avail. We would deal with it–I was not giving up the space this handicap stall afforded me.

Now I will say I also get kinda OCD about public restrooms.  My basic motto with my kids is “Put your hands in your pockets and DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING!!!”  I have developed a system with Ian where he can pee and still obey this rule.

With Imogen, I’m just going to have to discuss this with my counselor.  I don’t know how I will emotionally manage seeing her bottom and hands on a public toilet seat.  Shall we move on, please?

Ian had peed, Imogen was remaining mainly in one location and keeping her hands to herself, and so I took a very quick moment to go pee myself.

I completed my deed, thankful the children were not moving from their locations.  But as I pulled my pants up I heard a dreaded “Ker plunk!”

I knew what it was before I turned around–my keys and key chain wallet were in the toilet–WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S POOP.  I had stuck them in my back pocket since I didn’t have my coat on.

In moments like this you do not think; instead you act (I reached in and grabbed my keys)–and, admittedly, you say a cuss word or two.  At least this is what I do.

But once that’s over, and this is really only a matter of seconds, you start thinking–there’s a small pause–you say another cuss word just to set in stone how you’re feeling in the moment, and then you assess.  You wonder what you should do with the keys dangling from your finger and dripping onto the floor and the poop you can see on the side of your wallet.

And what about the children?!  My solution was to just start yelling “Nobody move! NOBODY MOVE!”

And I still hadn’t pulled my pants up all the way.  Agghh.

With a bit more yelling and frantic toilet paper grabbing I managed to set the keys down on a wad of TP (why I thought I needed to keep them “clean” from the floor germs I do not know).  I tried not to think about how much my nasty hands were touching my undies and pants as I pulled them up.  Any time the kids moved anywhere near the toilet I yelled “DON’T GO OVER THERE! STAY WHERE YOU ARE!”

Did I mention there was someone in the stall next to us?  I bet if she had a button in her purse that said “Mom of the Year” she would have handed it over the stall wall and I would’ve proudly pinned it to the front of my shirt.  But how I would have done this with poop germs on my hands I do not know.

We got ourselves out of the stall and I started frantically dousing the keys, wallet and everything in my wallet with water and soap, while trying to keep one eye on my children, particularly the smaller one who would want to wander back into a stall. My other child was just giving me the evil eye for yelling at him and all kinds of back talk was flying back and forth between he and I.

At a certain point I realized that dousing my key fab in water was probably not a good idea so I stopped that.  And then the lady in the stall came out and I sheepishly looked at her and said “Why don’t you go ahead, we’re going to be a while.”

She turned out to be really nice and told me this long story about how she dropped her iPhone in the toilet once and how she was able to save it.  She didn’t mention any poop was involved.  And then she left.  Sadly, no button, but also no condemnation.

At that point I decided we just needed to get out of Dodge.  We were in a serious danger zone of germs and at least I could take the nasty germs I had with me, leave the rest in there, go out to the van, put a haz mat suit on, and get down to business.

“NO, we will not be stopping for a sandwich at this moment, Ian,” I said as we walked by a wide array of tempting Subway toppings.  The response: more evil eye.

I put the kids in the back of the van and went to work.  No, I didn’t really have a haz mat suit, but now I’m seriously considering getting one.  What I did have were lots of baby wipes, Clorox disinfecting wipes and antibacterial hand stuff, all within hand’s reach.  These are the kind of moments when having OCD tendencies comes quite in handy.

All my cards and wallet (still trying not to think about that wallet) ended up Cloroxed.  My keys were scrubbed down as well and I doused myself and the kids with antibacterial rub.

And now we were going to go back in the store and eat?  Yuck. But, I had promised Ian Subway, which is his all-time favorite.  Plus, it is kinda negligent to not feed your children if they are hungry and if you have the ability to do so.  So, we went inside and got our food to go.  We were getting out of Dodge, remember?

As we got down the road Ian happily sat in the back and ate an entire 6-inch.  I forced myself to eat because I figured part of my emotional state was because I was hangry in the first place.  Imogen was just happy to not be sitting in her own poop.

It took me about ten miles or so down the road to stop being angry.  And then I felt relieved it was over and all I could do was laugh at how disgusting it all was. I figured it was a milestone for me; there would’ve been times in the past where I would’ve stayed mad a lot longer and in the moment of drama acted a lot worse to my children or those around me.

I will say, I was glad Jason was not there.  I don’t think I’m mature enough at this point to not have thrown my wrath on him, for no unexplainable reason or fault of his own.

I will confess that the first thing I did when I got to my mom’s house was to gruffly say to her “I don’t want to talk about it right now,” wipe down the car with more Clorox wipes, put my children in the bath, wash my clothes, and take a shower.

I threw the wallet away.  No amount of soaking it in bleach would erase the memory of seeing someone else’s poop on it.  And it was a nice wallet, too, and kind of sentimental to me.  But now I use my cheap Fred Meyer one because why have nice things if they’re just going to end up in the toilet?  (I acknowledge the irony and/or hypocrisy of this statement since I had left my new iPhone in the van before entering this traumatic scene).

There’s really no good way to end this story except to say that though awful, I’m growing up a bit.  Even in the craziness that is my current emotional troubles, on a good day, we did okay with something unexpected.  I did not curl up into a ball, burst into tears and let my children wander aimlessly through a gas station convenience store (or play in a public toilet).  In fact, everything else about the drive was enjoyable both before and after the incident–and we made record time, too!

This just proves in a small way that God gives you what you need exactly when you need it. For me right now this isn’t a picture perfect response in a troubling situation.  I’m just asking for a sound mind–and that’s what He gave me.