My Rocky Balboa…I hope it’s not insulting.

j m and n couples

Today is a GREAT day. It’s my sister’s Golden Birthday. November 16th. Except she did not just turn 16. She just turned…

Ah, what’s that expression?

I think it’s 40.

Over the hill.

Lordy, Lordy, Darby’s 40!

But she doesn’t look a day over 38. I would say 25, but I pretty much think all 25-year-olds look like kids at this stage of my life, so I will simply stick with the fact that she still looks like a lady in her 30s.

And who is this great 40-year-old lady with this wonderful name Darby?

Why, this woman is my Rocky Balboa. I really hope that’s not insulting.

Here. Let me explain.

My sister and I are 16 months apart in age.

If you have children, you understand. That’s close in age. So close, in fact, that at times you feel as if you have an extension of who you are.  Almost like a twin.

Except, I am not sure she feels the same way.  And this is why…

Before we returned to Poland, Darby and I were having a fabulous late-night chat.  You see, my husband left for Poland a month before we did, so I had the immense privilege of living with my sister and her wonderful husband and fabulous kids.  Which was also RIGHT next door to my amazing brother, his awesome wife and fantastic kids.

It truly was a dream month.

But back to my conversation…

My sister looked at me and said, “Do you remember all of those times you had to fight to wear makeup or high heels or pantyhose?”

“Do you remember all of those times you had to fight to go on a date or stay up late?”

“Do you remember all of those times you had to fight to drive a car or go to a movie with your friends?”

And I simply answered, “No.”

Because I don’t.

“Exactly.” She replied.

My sister.  She is the eldest in our family.  She was our Rocky Balboa.  She entered the ring first and fought all of those battles for us.

And for Darby, they were battles.

For my brother, Casey, and I, they were simply victories.

So, to my sister.  The one that turned 40 today, I just want to say…

I thank you.

I admire you.

And I love you.

Thank you for being the most amazing sister in the world.  An example as a wife.  A brilliant auntie.  A stupendous daughter.  And the most fabulous mother.

You are my Rocky.  And I thank you for being ahead of me.  Not just because you jumped in the ring for me, but because you have always been my steadfast fighter.

On your knees, before our awesome God, praying for me.  For my life—in health and uncertainty.  In my marriage.  And for my children.

I will never forget when you told me that God spoke to you in a dream and said, “Brooke, God told me you would have another baby.”

And then we had Max.  Miracle Max.

You, my sister, you are being celebrated a world away today because of a date that marks the birth of the start of your life here on earth.

But a world away, I will celebrate you.  Not because of your birth—but because of your life.

Thank you, my sister.

Forever I thank you.

And, to end it all, “Yo, Adrienne!”  Just because I couldn’t resist.

I love you, my Rocky.

Forever and always,

your B

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Just for fun.  In case you have never had the chance to read another rather emotionally charged battle we had.  Except this time we were both in the boxing ring.  The opponents?  The other sister 😉  Enjoy a throwback blog posting.  xo b

Knockdown Drag out Fight in Costco

Mom…

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mom…i didn’t understand you, until i became you.

and now i don’t just appreciate you, i admire you more.  love you more.  and can never seem to learn enough from you.

you taught me to love.

to forgive.

to say i’m sorry.

to accept others.

to give.

you helped us live through laughter.

through creativity.

through giving.

you put others first.

you never complain.

and you are always there when we need you.

mom, words will never be enough, and so i’ll leave you with a simple wish…

i wish you continued beauty and grace.

love and laughter.

cuddles and kisses.

i wish you every bright and shining memory of a gloriously-gifted life.

a healthy countenance.

and joy in your children and our children…

and one day their children.

mom, i wish you a day to be celebrated for being the greatest woman in history.  or, at least, my history!

i love you, mom.

happy birthday!

 

When your husband is wrong…again!

Ugh!  It makes me sooooo angry.

That’s right, folks!

My inner-wife monster comes out.

I knew it all along.

I should have done the cake mix 1 box at a time and NOT tried to double the recipe like my husband suggested to save time.

Now I have completely DRY…let me reemphasize that…D.R.Y. cupcakes.  All because of my husband.

THAT MAN!

Yes, I said it.  In cyberspace.  THAT MAN!

UGH!

What’s that, Richard?

Did I add the water?

The box didn’t say to add water.  I’ll prove it to you…(digging through disgusting trash to stick it to him)

See!

Uh…

Did I say, “When your husband is wrong…again?!”  I meant to say, “When your husband’s WIFE is wrong…again!”

Sigh.

Happy 8th birthday, Sweet Adelyne.  Hope you like your dry cupcakes.

Blame Mommy for that one.

Oops (Walk of Mommy shame—Daddy, of course, standing tall.  Proud as a peacock and smiling away while waiting for his.  You guessed it.  Apology!)

XO always to you, my Richard, for putting up with me 😉

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Eight is Great!

There is no comparison…

When my son stopped breathing and had to be rescued, and yet, once again, was left without any help…I sat next to him.  I had already spent all evening, from 9pm until 5am, shaking him every 10 seconds so that he would be reminded to breathe.  And, yes, I was in the hospital.

But then it happened.  He stopped.  Completely.  He had no more breath left in him.

And I had to run into the halls screaming, while his alarms were going off, because no one was coming.  I had to run into the halls and yell, “My son!  My son!  He is not breathing.”

Finally two nurses came and got him breathing again.  They did not call a doctor.  They never did.  They got him breathing and then left me alone, again, with my son.

And I saw his light begin to disappear.  He had already been fighting for three days.  And for three days, very minimal was done to keep him alive.  When we told the doctor the night before he wasn’t breathing, she looked at him, shook him, and said, “Oh, it’s sleep apnea.  It’s common in infants.”

And she left again.  For the entire night.  From 9pm until the moment I ran into the hall screaming, not a single medical professional came to check on my premature, listless, graying baby, who also hadn’t eaten in 3 days.

No one.

And so I knew.  I knew as I sat next to him that he had very little time left here on earth.  I called my husband to see if we could Air Vac him out of Poland, but they said that the medical doctors would have to declare that they were unable to care for him.  If you have ever met a Pole, there is no way one will declare that they are unable to do anything.  At all.  They are a country of great pride.  In many, many, many areas, they should be.  But not in the care of my son.

Then we debated going to the US Embassy in Warsaw and demanding help.  But that would take 3 hours one way.  And he didn’t have 3 hours left.

We were tired, dejected, and left without anyone fighting on our side.

I sat.  I sat next to my son and I watched as he began to slip away.  And I could only cry.  And cry.  And cry.

My mom and dad had gotten to meet him.  But the rest of our families had not.  And I knew now that they would not.

My heart was broken.  My sister called this baby, Maxwell, her baby-and she had never met him.  But she prayed for him from the moment of our announcement, she ran a Triathlon for him, she wept for him.  She was his biggest champion.  She loved him.  And yet she never had the chance to meet him.

And I knew that day.  I just knew she never would.

So not only did my heart break for my son that was lying next to me with mere moments left to fight for his life.  But my heart broke for the fact that my family would not get to meet our son.  Our beautiful and miraculous baby that we had to fight to even bring into the world.

And I did the only thing I had left in me to do.  I sat there touching my baby and weeping.

Then she entered.  A miracle.  An angel.  The new doctor on shift.  The nurses, they tried to explain away my baby, but she wouldn’t let them.  She didn’t even listen to them.  She took one look at Maxwell dying and said, “There is nothing I can do!”

An ambulance was called, and my son was escorted down 4 flights of stairs, into the waiting ambulance and brought to the nearest ICU.  I was kicked out and he was intubated.  He was put on 100% ventilation.  His body was put into a full coma.  And he was put on antibiotics to now fight the pneumonia that was also ravaging his body as well as congestive heart failure medicine, because the hole in his heart had doubled in size—the lack of oxygen caused his heart to work overtime, resulting in a heart that was also now at risk of failing.

He was given a blood transfusion.  And we were given the news.

It was bad.  There was no news if he would make it.  It was now a waiting game.  A waiting game for life.  A waiting game for death.

And my sister.  She again took charge.  An ocean away, and yet she was able to somehow help lead me through this time in my life.  We were only allowed to see our son from 11am-7pm.  Otherwise, we had to wait.  Every evening, we were allowed to call at 10pm and ask if there was a status change.  And every morning at 8am we were allowed to call and ask if he made it through the LONG hours of the night.  If he was still alive.

And my sister, God bless her soul, she would wait for our evening and morning calls, her phone bill, I am sure, ran into the 4 digits of expense, and we would give her the status update.  He was alive.  He was getting a blood transfusion.  His ventilator quit on him and they had to bag him for about 6-10 minutes.  He squeezed his daddy’s finger today, and so forth.

Every morning and every night she called so that she could share with the rest of the world if our baby was alive.  If there was progress.  If he was going to make it.  And, as she shared, the rest of the world prayed.

After all, she considered our baby her baby.

My sister…There is no comparison.

She is the woman I wish I was.  The woman that I would like to be.

Compassion never fails her.  Money never stops her.  And love never leaves her.  Even if an ocean separates her.

Today is her birthday, and I couldn’t wish a more deserving person 100 years, Sto Lat!  I couldn’t wish a more giving person a life of health, happiness, and love.  And I couldn’t ask God for a greater friend and supporter.

And so I’ll leave you with this…our son did fight with all that was within him. And he did conquer every demon that wanted to keep him from us here on earth.  And he did survive.

And because of it, he finally got to meet my sister.  His auntie.  And my best friend…

Happy birthday, Darby.

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Celebrating the Mad Scientist…

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(c. Dan Pan photography)

Actually, he’s my dad!  And today is his 71st birthday.  If you ask Adelyne, she’ll tell you that he’s turning 213.  Yes—we’ve encouraged her wild imagination.  Perhaps at times too much?!

My dad is a classic Mad Scientist—brilliant and an outstanding educator—yet there are so many other things that I have also learned from my dad.

Here’s a few gems:

Have fun…Life is short!

Play with your children…Life is short!

Go on adventures with your spouse…Life is short!

He also taught us:

Work hard…

Serve others…

Give generously…

Love endlessly…

Honor your spouse faithfully…

And love God wholly…

Today, as we celebrate his 213th birthday, I want to encourage you to be like my dad, Mr. J!

1.  Always invest in the education of children.

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2.  Don’t be afraid to jump off a mountain in Austria (even if you did just have your hip replaced and you are 65 years old).

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Image3.  Cheer wildly for the local football team in a foreign country, in a language you don’t even know, on the City Hall steps at midnight, with a bunch of intoxicated fans…and have a blast doing so!

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 4.  Dance freely in a 2,600-yr-old settlement in Poland with beautiful ladies.

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 5.  And support your children wholly…every step of the way…into a life of their own.

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(c. photo Bill Holmes)

Sto lat, Daddy.  We love you so!