Kids do STUFF! As in non-couch required activities that include playing chess, catching geckos, reading FOR FUN, exploring the great outdoors, and making up new games to play.
No, I am not putting them through some weird experiment, it just kind of happened that we didn’t move with a TV. Not that I’m never getting one again, but I’m really liking this new form of creative recreation! And not hearing them fight over what to watch is an added bonus 😉
A little over three weeks ago, I promised my 12 year old son something I was sure I never would. A pet tarantula. A few years back, I blogged about this very subject: a promise I made to his dad before we got married – no matter how many boys we have NO SNAKES OR SPIDERS EVER. Ummm, we have 5 boys.
My son was obviously very excited about the possibility. I thought surely I’ve lost what was left of my mind and sane decision making.
This week we ordered a Mexican Red Knee from an online store. The next day we went anxiously to the Fedex store to pick it up. I announced to the lady behind the counter that we were there to pick up a tarantula. She got very excited, as the employees had all been curious about the box labeled “Live Harmless Reptile.” So much so that she asked if we could open it right there so she could take a peek. I agreed because I was guaranteed live delivery and should probably ensure it was still alive! Within a moment, there were a few other eager onlookers. So we opened the box, removed the Styrofoam lid, then the few pieces of newspaper and then… a small plastic container.
“Did we get scammed?!” I asked. No way was a giant, furry creature in that small container (the container also had a few squares of toilet paper). We carefully poked around until we saw a tiny spider, no bigger than a child’s thumbnail. I was not expecting a baby, but I was secretly glad I was now going to grow with the spider, so to speak, instead of diving head first into eight, huge legs.
We took it back to my parents’ where we were staying for the night… and also where it promptly escaped. We found it by some miracle and put it back into its habitat. We wrapped that up for extra precaution, but again he escaped. I looked for HOURS. Needless to say, my son was very sad the next morning when I had to tell him.
But then something happened. He found a small garter snake and was very happy with it, as were the other kids. Each took turns washing their hands before and after holding it. Crazier still, I let him bring it home in the container that was supposed to be for the spider.They made him a little habitat, collected some bugs and fed it. This morning they decided to release it.
After church today, we went to an exotic pet shop. I had spoke with the owner for quite awhile the night before about which spider was best, and he told us that babies are very difficult to care for. So today we saw their collection of rose hair tarantulas, and my son picked one out.
I admit that while we were in the store, I was having some SERIOUS second thoughts about this all. And again questioning my sanity. But we got the spider and she is now adjusting (I think) to her new home.
Yep. I must have lost my mind… but hey, the kids are happy!
I’m not sure how it happened, but it did. I won’t say I co-sleep, but I guess, unofficially, I do. I don’t care if other parents do or don’t. I don’t judge. After 7 of my own kids, sometimes complete exhaustion takes over. Those are “cookie dough for dinner” and “I don’t care where you sleep JUST SLEEP!” nights.
Usually at least one falls asleep with me. But somehow I wake up with that one plus two more. Sometimes three. And after awhile, I noticed these extra bodies have taken over.
But something crazy happened tonight: four wanted to sleep together… not with me. I have an entire queen size bed to myself.
One might think I’d relish in my new found, or rather reclaimed space. But no… I’m scrunched to the very edge, in the fetal position, unsure about life and how to fall asleep. What if my back doesn’t hurt in the morning? What if I want to get used to this?? I think I better grab a baby in case I get any more crazy ideas.
My cursor blinks rhythmically on the screen, waiting… I sit in front of it, compelled to write something about how I am feeling after watching the most disturbing and depressing movie I have perhaps ever seen. After watching it last night, I cried as I looked deeper into the issue of assisted suicide, or as it has been deceivingly called: Death with Dignity.
I thought about diving into the issue of suicide, whether “assisted” or not, of depression, loss, etc. I thought of how to weave my empathy for those suffering from debilitating mental illnesses, chronic pain, terminal illnesses or life-changing accidents, into the very divided issues of death, dying and our “right to choose.” And while I pour over the sadness and pain these people no doubtingly feel, there are also those who never get such a “chance:” children who would choose life but never will be able; children who have never known anything but death, destruction and disability, like 5-year old Omran from Syria.
So as my cursor blinks and my heart aches with my racing mind… how does one address such an issue? For certain, it is not one issue, but a multi-faceted topic that touches each human being on this Earth. We have all known death. Pain. Loss of some form. Known or experienced first hand mental illness. We have all been faced with choices that have altered our lives forever. And depending on how we have experienced these, coupled with our beliefs, we as a people have wide views on such hard topics. Some may argue that because of these different beliefs and experiences, are we all correct in our thinking? If you can make a fair argument for why this man should be allowed to take his life, are you right? If I can make a fair argument in opposition, am I not also right? We use words such as “choice,” “this is my body,” “my life.” As a fellow blogger put it: we live in the era of ME.
But I do not want to discuss choices or right and wrong. I think my position is probably clear that I am for life. I do not say pro-life because I am not limiting my statement to abortion. I am for all life. Every life is worth living. And so, in opposition to the movie (yet so appropriately titled), Me Before You, I would like to celebrate examples of lives that could have been seen as lost, but instead were turned into something extraordinary.
I first read the book about Joni Eareckson Tada before the age of 12, at the recommendation of my mother. An incredible athlete from a young age, Mrs. Tada became a quadriplegic after breaking her neck in a diving accident. Like the character in the film, she experienced the depression and helplessness of her new disability. Yet with beautiful dignity, she did not choose death. Instead, she became a famous artist using her tongue to create unbelievable artwork for the whole world to admire.
Another example and similar story is that of Marcus C. Thomas. He was a triathlete who also became a quadriplegic after a horrible accident. He learned to paint using only his tongue. Like Tada, he has given the world not only inspiration and perseverance, but also true beauty through his story and artwork.
A woman named Celestine Tate Harrington did not suffer a tragic accident, but instead, was born with a congenital joint condition that eventually left her without the use of her arms and legs. But she lived her life happily, and was known for her cheerful, bubbly personality. In addition to her contagious disposition, she was an accomplished street musician. More astonishingly than that, she gave birth to a little girl and fought for custody in the most remarkable way: After seeking public assistance for her child, she instead found herself before a judge and courtroom ready to deem her unfit because of her disability. To the complete surprise of them and the world, she dressed and undressed her baby girl in the courtroom using only her teeth! She won custody of her daughter, and a year later, moved her and her daughter to their own home. She supported them both by the money she earned playing music using only her mouth! She died at the age of 42 from complications of her condition.
Another remarkable story is that of Talia Joy Castellano. She battled childhood cancer bravely for over six years until her death at the age of 13. She used her living years to create YouTube makeup videos, showing the world both her struggle and beauty. She was also a Covergirl model with a YouTube channel that amassed a huge, supportive following.
There have been many other stories of children who battled and died of cancer who, instead of choosing death, used their lives to do amazing things for the world. Trevor Sims died of cancer at the age of 11, but not before using his illness and struggle to raise money and food donations for the Baton Rouge Food Bank.
These are just a few of the countless people who have lived their lives to the fullest. I have no doubt that they faced fear over their conditions, depression and maybe even wished they could end their suffering early. But they saw the beauty in their lives and embraced it, in turn, leaving our world that much brighter because of their struggle.
They saw the truth: Every life is worth living.