January 12, 2016

Get it.

A million stories are percolating, and yet there is complete silence here in this space. 

Flakes are finally flying in Cleveland, and at last winter has arrived with gusto. I found the Craunlets in the snow building a miniature fort with the available fluffy stuff, and being the best of friends. I'm not sure any other thing does my heart this terrifically. 

The way they get to learn how to have relationship with one another. It's oddly heavy with importance, and yet so naturally easy for them at times. I hope they are friends into adulthood, and I hope their lifetime relationships are the richer for this foundation.

How she leans into him, and smiles wide. How they enjoy each other, exchanging ideas, working together, and sharing space. Love these two to the moon and back.

September 1, 2015

The Boy that Brings Laughter.

We attended a church carnival this past Sunday, and per usual, Nathaniel could not pass up the face painting booth. I was perusing the arts + craft table with Isabella, so I missed his selection until it was already painted on.

This kid. He completely slays me.

When we got home, and he asked if we could have a photo session. Of course I obliged, happy to have any welcome opportunity to record these fast and fleeting moments. Then he climbed into the studio chair, our favorite photo spot that is generally flooded with daytime light, and he was ready. Apparently he contemplated several poses on the ride home, or maybe they rolled out spur-of-the-moment, but he had me laughing hard starting with this look:

Next he got his arms involved:

It was maybe a flash of two minutes, but it was a most certain pick-me-up.

This kid definitely knows how to keep us all laughing.

August 24, 2015

On Changing Schools, and 6-word Memoirs.

Last November, I visited Campus International School, and fell head-over-heels in love. It was a gut thing, similar to the confident knowing that I had with our Elementary School. Isabella was just a baby, when I drove by that school in our new neighborhood, and knew with all of my heart that it was the place where she would go to school. When the time came, I visited, and was even more certain. Both Craunlets have only know that place as their school. Until this school year.

Last school year was full of changes. Some subtle, and some more abrupt and demanding of careful consideration. When looking into our Middle School concerns, it seemed impossible to not also look ahead into High School.

So I researched our many school options, and then I visited several. The NO's lined up quickly and neatly, and the YES stood out so clear to me among the others. So, knowing our chances were quite slim to get both kids in––Oh, lottery. How we absolutely love your fairness, until we find ourselves placed on that waiting list––we applied to Campus International in December. We learned in late March that both Craunlets were on the waiting list for a seat in their respective grades. Despite our odds, I was clinging to the hope that this was their next school. I just knew it in my core.

Within a few weeks, Nathaniel had a seat. And then we waited. I prayed, called, e-mailed, begged, and even cried in the office of our current [now former] principal, and then she called in a recommendation too. I tried not to worry. Days stretched into weeks, that rolled into months, that spilled into summer.

I lamented over how much I loved the International Baccalaureate curriculum, how much I loved my classroom visits, the staff I already knew and everyone that I was meeting. I loved the mission of the school, and I wanted the Craunlets in Cleveland, just down the street from where I print, where Dave's new office will be, and in the urban fabric. It also solved our high school conundrum, and would further set them in a path to opportunities for both challenge and partnership with Cleveland State University.

And then––because this is the Summer of moved mountains––we learned two days before the school year began, that Isabella had a seat in the 6th grade. The heaven's had parted again in her favor. Both Craunlets were enrolled at Campus International!

We are into week two this morning, and the Craunlets are adjusting so well.

Isabella had a tough first day, and after school that afternoon, she shed a few tears from the stress. We talked over all of the changes, her emotions, and what aspects especially made the day challenging. It boiled all the way down to: I hate being so short. Holding back a smile and a hearty laugh of relief, I encouraged her, I rubbed her shoulders and spoke life and truth into her worry.

Each day got successively better for both of the Craunlets. And then, to perfectly summarize the week (and the crazy sea of change that we are swimming in during this season) Isabella shared the 6-word memoir that she wrote in her Language Arts class:

Long new pencil now is short.

And in so many ways, I rejoice right now with this sentiment. Shorter in our concerns and sharper, we face a new and rich season together as a family, and I am so thankful.

August 17, 2015

They Said No, and They Meant it. So Mountains were Moved. Part III.

This is the third and final installment of the update regarding our most recent and epic chapter of the story of Isabella's journey with Scoliosis. You can read the first installment right here, and the second one right here.

*   *   *

We arrive for Isabella's casting appointment. It's early in the morning and it's raining. Despite the darkness, our spirits are bright. We've got Francie with us, and also a chocolate cake.

We navigate to the office where Nurse Compassion indicated that we should wait. It's a familiar place; we've been there hundreds of times before for routine x-rays and check-ups with her surgeon. It's never been this quiet. The fluorescent lights are humming as they warm up for the day. Isabella pulls up a chair at the coloring table. The reception desk is dark, and the office windows are closed.

We talk a little bit, about Care Bears, and what's the name of the one she picked to color? The one with the moon and the star on its belly. I think it's a turquoise one. We decide to ask Google. I love these simple problems. So easy to fix. Yep, turquoise. It's Goodnight Bear.

The door to the right of the reception desk creaks open, and Nurse Compassion peeks her head out––already smiling, and anticipating our arrival. She leads us back to the small room where we will do the casting. We meet a fabulous nurse who is first introduced by name, and then jestfully called the Plaster Master from this point forward. You can see instantly that these two women have a great working relationship. They both know Isabella, and together they begin to fire off how the process will be similar and different from what she is used to.

I'm overwhelmed to be in the room. I feel like an extra. I realize as the three ladies chatter on about their history, that I have never been in the casting room before. It's always the OR at the main hospital downtown. I remember the last casting, Isabella walked back through the double doors holding her surgeon's hand. It was the sweetest picture. He promised Isabella at a prior appointment that he would do this, and he did not forget. The nurse didn't roll her back on the bed per usual. He came, as he said he would, and he got her. I think again about how tender that act was. I remember that she always leaves us. We get coffee, and wait for our pager to beep, when everything is all done. I have no idea where to stand in this little room. I'm glad that we brought the cake; I hand it to Nurse Compassion. She sets it aside on the counter.

The Plaster Master and Nurse Compassion are moving together like a well-oiled machine. Talking, and laughing, and they are so gentle with Isabella. Everyone is happy. Everyone is working, looking through drawers and cabinets to find the few things that they need, and getting familiar with an unfamiliar workspace. Isabella is disrobing.

Carefully, the old cast is cut from Isabella. She's high up, perched on the padded table, and facing away from us. The buzzing of the plaster cutter goes quiet, and then the room goes completely silent. All of the happy chatter floats away. It is eerily still, and overcast with yellow from the fluorescent lighting. Nurse Compassion gently remarks that "there has been some change here," as we all look on at her thin and curvy frame from behind. This little seed she drops; not a trace of negativity or concern in her voice. Nurse Compassion has memorized this tiny body over these 8 years. I think about how intimate that is, and I'm trying not to cry. And also not to worry.

Isabella selects the color of her new cast. She carefully looks through all of the samples. She almost always picks white; and she does again today. I'll never forget her first cast. She asked for gray, just over two years old. I was so relieved that gray was not a choice. One time, she totally shocked us with grass green, and once it was hot pink. Those were the early years. She was less aware that she was carrying around this bulky thing under her clothes. Now Francie is the one that gets all the fun colors.

Next, Isabella is skewered onto a strange table that elevates her and allows access to all sides for the casting. She is unmoved, and completely comfortable. She is in Nurse Compassion's hands. Literally. She has climbed onto the table with Isabella, and is working gently to put the cast on, as she guides the sticky fiberglass strips, and sculpts the area around her hips, gently moving Isabella more straight. Plaster Master and Nurse Compassion work to smooth out every last detail, stapling and concealing all of the staples, then trimming out all of the edges, and cutting the belly hole to fit her body just right.

After the casting, Isabella goes in for an x-ray. I wait in the hallway. Nurse Compassion has opened the cake; she comes out to thank me with a big hug. We are teary, and both know silently that there is a bend ahead in the road that we will need to face next. But today we rest in this small victory, and we celebrate.

When she is finished with the x-ray, we move into a patient waiting room, and proceed to walk through a traditional appointment backwards. Front desk staff is still arriving, and as they do Isabella's weight is taken, and her height. She gained a little; she's grown an inch.

Francie is retrieved for her cast. Isabella has selected a deep purple for her.

It's every little detail. Every act carried out with such meticulous and constant care.

We wait alone in the patient room, and Isabella's scan is brought up on the computer screen by the radiologist. In that flash of light, I always close my eyes and wish this all away. Wish for it to suddenly be straight and not curved. Wish for this to all be over. Isabella continues to color, and I watch her silently. She is coloring Goodnight Bear, sitting on the doctor's swivel chair. Isabella glances sideways at the image beside her, and resumes coloring without a word. It's moments like these, that I want to crawl inside her head and be privy to her thoughts. She doesn't look at all worried. Her strength and courage, and her quiet resolve keeps me also unspeaking and in complete awe of who she is.

Behind her, the screen glows with her roller coaster spine. That she can be a little girl and a young woman all at the same time is so overwhelming. That this giant curve can stretch out inside of her tiny body is unfathomable. Please can this be a dream, I plea silently. Please can we wake up. Please can I see a straight line, or even a subtle curve like her beautiful reserved smile that arcs across her face and alights her eyes.

I hear Isabella's doctor arrive to the back of the office––he's late from surgery––and all of the nurses begin to swarm him with information and updates of his first appointments. He cheerfully breaks into their cacophony "I need to go talk to someone first." His buoyant voice is booming down the corridor of the hallway just ahead of his quick stride. We are waiting; the door to the room is open.

Her doctor moves into the room, and sits down in the chair right beside me. He's armed with his big smile and bright eyes. He always talks to Isabella first, and I love that. He asks her how she's doing. Does she have a boyfriend yet, he jokes? When does school start? The usual and easy chit-chat that helps to take the stress from the air.

He doesn't discuss the x-ray, blaring amazingly swayed on the screen just over her shoulder. We can all see that curve. He doesn't get out his pencil and measure the angles and degrees. He doesn't talk about the 5ยบ margin of error in every scan.

Instead, he is sitting down beside me. Just talking. It's the sweetest gesture. He has always given me a little bit more time. In fact, we faced this bend in the road a year ago now at The Appointment. We've scheduled and cancelled a surgery once before. In fact, we first met her current doctor as a second opinion, when we dodged the prospects of immediate surgery from our very first visit with Dr. Good, eight and a half years in the past now. Together, we've bought a ton of time, and have seen some major advancements in medical technology.

Gently, he reminds me that as she grows, so does her curve. He estimates today there is at least an inch and a half of her height consumed in that curve. He nods towards the image of her spine, "I'll call you in a week or so, or Nurse Compassion will. I want a little more time to look it over," he said encouragingly, and still smiling. He wishes Isabella good luck in her new school year, and remarks that he heard there was some chocolate cake to be had, if Nurse Compassion will share. I am sure that she will. He puts his arm around my shoulder, and closes "we'll be in touch soon."

So we leave in the victory of the day. We are cheerful, and still full of hope, in spite of what lies ahead. We know who our partners are in this journey, and together we will forge a way forward with Isabella's best interests in mind. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

August 13, 2015

They Said No, and They Meant it. So Mountains were Moved. Part II.

This is the second installment of the update regarding our most recent and epic chapter of the story of Isabella's journey with Scoliosis. You can read the first installment right here.

*   *   *

They said NO again.

To boil down the conclusions of roughly thirty sheets of paper, our Insurance said "fine, don't go to the Cleveland Clinic, then. Akron Children's also does this procedure [insert code number here]."

OK super. We are now nearly a month into this mess, just wanting to get her growing-tight-and-tighter torso cast replaced. Is it really so crazy to want continued care for Isabella?! We've built a relationship over these nearly eight years. They know her. The procedures and treatment plan that they craft for her stems from a genuine place of care for her as a person, and then a patient. I'm frustrated, and feeling cornered.

It's a sunny afternoon, and I am on the phone with Nurse Compassion learning the news in advance of the official insurance letter arriving. Isabella is listening, as she always is. She is lying down on the couch in the living room and crying. She just wants Nurse Compassion. She just wants things to stay the same. I end my call in disbelief that this is all really happening. I rub Isabella's shoulders. I remind her that we can fight for what we believe; that we can always have hope. Then I talk about how change is often a part of life. I feel like I am talking out of both sides of my mouth. I had just asked Nurse Compassion if we could do this casting at our home, or in a parking lot somewhere. She laughed, and discussed important things like the location privileges of our Surgeon, herself and the casting team, the facility that had the riser casting equipment, and also liability. Isabella's last cast took less than 45 minutes, with no anesthesia. Beyond how the circumstances looked, I was still sure that we could somehow arrive at a solution. Seeing my ten year old, her long legs stretched out on the small couch and crying, made me absolutely enraged. This little human that fights so hard, and endures so much. The mountains keep getting bigger.

I call Akron immediately. It is Thursday afternoon, July the 2nd, near the very end of the day. I'm well aware that Friday is the observed holiday for Independence Day, and I'd like to make some ground before the long weekend of continued waiting.

The nurses seem lovely. They inform me that they don't do the riser cast, per se, but they do the Mehta cast instead, but only on rare occasion. I pretty much want to scream at this point. Our Insurance is repeatedly declining our waiver based on a procedure number, not actual care provided by any of these facilities. My accumulated frustration makes me short with my words, and somewhat tired of having to repeat information as I am passed through the chain to who they feel is the best nurse to address my inquiries. I'm speaking now to the nurse of the one doctor that sometimes does this other type of casting. I sighed, and I apologized numerous times. I was feeling completely exasperated. I tried to articulate the urgency of our situation with kindness. With Independence Day observed tomorrow, the soonest she could talk to the doctor would be Monday. Again, I explained what we really longed for was continuity of care. The words seemed to float away into the abyss between our phones. She made a note, and told me that she would make every effort to have some answers by Monday morning.

I was amazed when my phone rang just before lunch on Monday. It was the Akron nurse, and she had spoken to the Doctor. He would need to see Isabella in person before deciding if he would do the casting procedure, and if it would be possible to do so without anesthesia. I inquired when his soonest available appointment was. It would be more than two weeks out. I can't believe what I am hearing, and how cool and casual all of the delivery is. I kindly asked if he had any emergency appointments, or a cancellation list that we could be placed on to get in sooner. Her answers were pleasant but felt like scripted responses from a customer service call center. "I understand your frustrations ma'am, the next available appointment is SOME TIME A REALLY A LONG TIME FROM NOW..." I reminded her that Isabella is currently in a cast that is overdue to be removed by more than a month at this point. I asked if I could send in her x-rays and records to expedite things. She reiterated the first available appointment, and told me that sending things in would not be necessary. The doctor absolutely needed to see her first, and could not accommodate any sooner appointment than the one she offered.

All this waiting. These minutes and hours of frustrating calls. All of these tossing-and-turning sleepless nights of praying, and I am completely discouraged. I fire off a text with lots of ALL CAPS words to Dave. I'm kind of amazed in looking back at the string that it is void of swear words. I'm pretty sure I was out of my mind with anger. I ended my update with SO ANNOYING.

Exasperated, and feeling completely out of control, I laid my head down on the dining room table. The Craunlets were on either side of me quietly nibbling on their lunches, and I sighed a frustrated "Lord you have to make a way prayer." I'm done. I'm definitely done. And this mountain is too big. I'm exhausted.

My phone is ringing. And then next, I am completely undone.

It's Nurse Compassion. And the very first thing she said when I answered was: "WE ARE GOING TO DO THIS." Tears are streaming down my tired cheeks as I listen to the power in her words and her buoyant hopeful voice. "I AM CALLING IN FAVORS..." she tells me, and rearranging staff on Isabella's behalf. I'm trying to process all of the details, and then she puts me on hold as she receives another call. I cry quietly while I wait, and I can hear bits of her conversation on another phone as she confirms the date and location for this special exception. She bursts back onto the line, "how about this Friday, at this location, in the morning before they open?" I confirm that I can make any day or time work. She tells me that she will confirm the exact details ASAP, and that she might even need my set of hands. I reiterate that I will do whatever she asks.

As if this were not enough, she adds: "And I expect to see Francie also." Isabella's first doll, Nurse Compassion knows her by name. Francie always comes to the hospital with Isabella. And she is recasted in every color way of bright colors right alongside Isabella.

I hang up, and I am sobbing at this point. Nathaniel asks me why I am crying. Isabella's quiet smile is wide; she has already added up the pieces of my conversation. She has hope written in her bright blue eyes.

Why am I crying? Because Nurse Compassion is the earthly hands that deliver the Lord's favor upon Isabella. She is Nurse Mountain Mover. And the Lord has made a way once again.

I fill in all of the details, I text David the updated and good news, and I begin to brainstorm how we can ever thank this saint. Isabella is already upstairs getting Francie, and combing her hair. It's time to get ready!

*   *   *

Stay tuned for part three, the casting, and the next bend in the road that we now find ourselves walking down.

August 11, 2015

They Said No, and They Meant it. So Mountains were Moved. Part I.

Isabella's doctor called me on Sunday night, in person, to talk about our next steps. I realized that I still hadn't updated this space with our most recent and epic chapter of the story of her journey with Scoliosis. So here it is. The beginning anyway, of the turns and trials that this Summer has presented us. The curve and the straight of it; likely in three installments. Those needing to jog their memory through previous posts can get started right here, and find many a links within the post for further reading.

*  *  *

June, the month. It has been several weeks of phone-tagging talking on and off with doctor's offices, and nurses and healthcare administrators. And in the midst all those lulls of waiting for returned calls and questions answered, tears fell, and frustrations climbed. Letters and appeals were sent back-and-forth to our Health Insurance, and the news arrived.

After more than 7 years of working with Isabella's pediatric orthopedic surgeon, and that many years of post-procedure granted waivers to out-of-network coverage penalties and their associated fees. Always it was a YES. This go around for Isabella's next cast, we tried to secure pre-approval. The news of the insurance's decision arrived the afternoon before her scheduled procedure. And for the first time, it was NO.

I begged the nurse to somehow change the verdict, to communicate with the independent nurse that made this decision on behalf of our insurance, and to plea with her. She did, and again the answer was repeated NO. The casting was cancelled. Disappointment fell hard, brought in on a huge gust of discouragement. The official letter arrived. Many pages of insurance speak, a small book with a large NO repeatedly offered, containing a thorough explanation of our coverage, the various implications of out-of-network fees we would face if we proceeded, and our rights to appeal their decision.

Our insurance company said that this procedure [insert code number here] could now be performed at the Cleveland Clinic. 

The most maddening thing is that it all boils down to one single location. Because this procedure is covered by our insurance, and our surgeon is in our network, as is his nurse, and all of the surgery team. Even the anesthesiologist who we no longer use, he was in our network too. All of the satellite locations where we go for our normal check ups, and X-rays, you guessed it––in our network. But the ONE location on the main campus of University Hospitals, the only one that does the torso casting––Out of Network. Because. 

So I worry, and I pray, and I call, and I speak with the nurse of the recommended Orthopedic Surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic who "sometimes" now does this procedure [insert code number here]. She'd have to talk to him.  He doesn't "normally" do casting, would probably want to do surgery, and would definitely want to see her first, she thought. I told her that we were primarily fact-finding, as we really desired continued care with our current provider, and we were hoping to appeal to our insurance for that continuation. She said she'd call me back. I hadn't even gotten to the anesthesia question yet.

Two days later another nurse from the Cleveland Clinic called me to schedule an appointment, which I had not requested. We'll call her Clinic Nurse No.2. She's upbeat and super chipper. Hi! I'm 'some friendly name,' the nurse of Dr. OHNOYOUDIDNOT. Instinctively, the mama bear rose up inside of me and I audibly, and too loudly responded: "OVER MY DEAD BODY!" I know it was too loud, because I was in the atrium of the Cleveland Institute of Art for a Summer Camp that I was teaching, and I heard my words bouncing off of the gorgeous slanted glass wall. And then the security guard looked up from her desk surprised, made eye contact with me, and then we both smiled. It was like a secret Mom Club nod.

I felt my throat closing. Memories of our first meeting this doctor––who ironically has the name Good in his last name, though our experiences were quite the opposite––more than 8 years ago. No way was I ever going to see who we'll now call Dr. Good ever again. Never, I said. My pulse raced as I recounted his bedside manner, and the threats he made over our two year old's life as we sat there in disbelief, and asked concerned questions. I told her that indeed I did hope that he had improved since then, and I wanted to believe that experience had made him kinder, gentler, and an all around better doctor, but I couldn't and wouldn't ever bring my daughter to see him again. I believe my words were actually: "I would sooner drive her to Mars," which now that I'm calm, I admit sounds quite insane. I truly would go as far as Mars, but driving is obviously not a feasible option.

I took a long and deep breath. I remember the stunned quiet on the other end of the line, not sure what to say. Then I kindly asked Clinic Nurse No.2 if she could relay all of this to Clinic Nurse No.1, the one that I originally had called, and to ask her to please call me back with the answers to the questions that still lay out there unanswered. She apologized, and reassured me that she would pass along the information, and note our conversation in Isabella's file. I wonder now what she wrote. Maybe she scrawled "this patient's mom is a crazy lady that said Dr. Good made death threats on her daughter" on a little yellow sticky note in a black felt tip pen? I don't know. I hope I never have to see that file. Ever.

In-between all of these calls, I am in touch with who I'll call Nurse Compassion. She's the nurse of Isabella's current surgeon. She is the breath of fresh air. The quiet and constant voice of reason.  She hears my concerns patiently. She explains logical next steps, and offers encouragement. We decide on our approach to appeal the NO. I can tell by her withheld words and pauses to think before speaking that she is shaking her head and trying to be as professional as possible about this other hospital system; specifically their practices regarding the treatment of early onset scoliosis. This nurse is a saint.

Clinic Nurse No.1 calls me back. She tells me that when they occasionally do this procedure, a third party Orthotics Company comes in to perform the casting. I ask her the anesthesia question. Because this procedure is usually done in the Operating Room [OR] it is pretty much only done under anesthesia. However, Isabella's Doctor has been doing it now without––because of many reasons. She seemed surprised, and not sure that the doctor at the Clinic would do this without anesthesia. Growing impatient, I asked her to please find out as soon as possible, as Isabella is waiting in a cast that is quickly becoming too tight as all the adults negotiate a plan.

I offer to have Isabella's images and records sent over for review. She tells me not to do this. Then she reiterated that she was pretty sure that the doctor would want to see her in person, and that he usually operates on patients of this age. I'm tired of the phone tag, and growing impatient with all of the repetition of unanswered questions. I remember breaking them down into numbered points at the conclusion of the call, as she seemed unable to figure out the next steps forward, and was audibly exasperated that I was asking so much of her.

These three questions: 1. Will he do this casting procedure? 2. Will he do this casting procedure without anesthesia? 3. If yes to questions 1 and 2, does he need to see her in person?

She called me back the following day. The third party Orthotics Team doesn't actually have the casting table needed for the procedure. I remember my spirits rising instantly, and I exclaimed: "Oh good, so you guys can't really do this then?!" That's when things got even nuttier. She said that they could make some other accommodation to still do the procedure. So I asked about the anesthesia. They have never done this process without anesthesia. Um, OK? So is this a yes or a no, as to whether or not they will in this case -- I'm not sure which column to put the check mark in on my crazy long list of unknowns.

This was growing maddening, and I still wasn't completely sure she was even talking directly with the doctor yet. Everything kept getting parlayed as tentative, something they don't really do, but nevertheless were willing to accommodate, probably. This is when I nearly lost it. I summarized to her points as I understood them: The Clinic doesn't usually do this procedure, it doesn't do it without anesthesia, and currently doesn't have the equipment to even perform this procedure. She hesitantly responded yes, when I asked her to confirm if my summation was indeed true. I told her that I planned to include these conclusions in our appeal to our Insurance Out of Network Waiver Denial. She inserted that she couldn't put this in writing, that I would have to. Of course, because you can't just come out and say: WE DON'T ACTUALLY DO THIS.

So we wrote our appeal, as did our Doctor, and we sent them in to our Insurance for a second and expedited review. We had seven years of experience in our back pockets. We had a proven track record that this method was working. We had a relationship, with a team of nurses and doctors all within our network who know specifically and care for Isabella. We had a solid treatment plan that poses entirely less risk, and is copious amounts less money for all parties. We also cited our record of granted out-of-network appeals as precedent. We were confident and hopeful.

It was a couple days later, a Thursday, the one just before Independence weekend. 

And then chaos mounted.

Again, the insurance responded with a NO.

June 25, 2015

Mornings, and Afternoons, and Minutes and Years.

I've been taking more photographs again; everyday ones with my phone camera. It's my go-to connecter to the moment. My reminder to take in all the little things,  my best hope of remembering any of it, and to just keep appreciating the minutes that we are afforded in each day. Again and again, and the wearing of the repeated days. The rhythms are so reliable they blur time as much as they provide stability and stave off chaos. 

Like this day pictured below, where her legs suddenly grew a mile, and her skirt was way too shirt, and her shoes were way too grown up, and she was smiling on the swing like any other time when she was still just a babe.

And holy moly, the girl child just grows up so fast right before me and I ache for it all to slow down, as I find myself twirling the hair that is looping down out of her still-a-kid pigtails. And then the very next day, it's all straight and long and she looks way too many years older than her age. 

But just the other evening, she still crawled all of her sprawling limbs into my lap to decompress and discuss her day. I know that I will not forever be this lucky to have such transparent access to the inner workings of her days and thoughts and feelings, yet I know she already keeps so much in her head and heart that I can never fully know. That mystery of person-hood. As much as we share.

She wakes up a little girl, and by afternoon she seems a teenager. Occasional moments I watch this fluctuation within minutes and hours. This babe. This grown girl. This babe. This girl becoming woman.

This good friend, and deep thinker. This silly girl so bent on being so serious and all grown up. And her smile that sneaks across her face on occasion, such unsuspected and overflowing joy. That look that reminds me she is still a child.

These tiny moments where she'll still play with her doll, but then at the same time she'll be tenaciously practicing her flute, mastering another song, holding her notes longer and taking fewer breaths. 

So fast and relentless is time, but slowed by day with waiting and so many little joys of dreams [even tiny ones like owning your very own copy of Anne of Green Gables] coming true and lessons being learned along the way of grace, and generosity, and service.

Lessons we all get to practice and learn together. Again and again and again in every minute we are afforded, all stacked up neatly into years on top of years.


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