Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Quit

I’m allowed to do that, right? :)

There are still 25 more days to the meme and man, I want to write it all out. There are some great things in there to write about and some things that I would honestly love to write about. This thing really has me thinking! Yesterday’s was titled “Your Day”. I took probably 300 pictures yesterday of my day. It was great!

The truth is that no one wants to see it though. Oh yeah, you might want to for this reason or the other reason, but it won’t be for the reasons that I write it. There is a lot going on with me right now. Much, if not all, of it is my own doing…and it’s not just 1 or just 2 things. I really am just a bit of a mess these days. Train wreck waiting to happen right in front of everyone’s eyes.

Well, no one wants to see it. OK, yeah, maybe you do want to see, but not for the right reasons. So…I mentioned on facebook a while back that things feel like the game shape shifter lately. They do. When it gets going really fast, sometimes you just throw the shapes away. I think that’s where I am in this game. Some of the 30 meme questions are delightful and fun, others are not. Some moments in my life are delightful and fun, others are not.

It’s not just the meme that I quit.

Occasionally, life gives you a do-over. More often than not, it gives you a move-forward.

Whichever one it gives you, start new.

I am.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Day 5 – Your Definition of Love

Bottom line: Love is giving.

It’s that simple.

OK, maybe that isn’t simple because it is a bit more than that. It’s not just give whatever you feel like giving. It is give what that person needs. Do you need a word of encouragement? If I give that, I’m loving you. Do you need some money? If I give that, I’m loving you. Do you need me to pick up your dry cleaning? If I give that, I’m loving you. If you need me to tell you how amazing you are, but I give you roses that is not love.

I suck at loving people sometimes, but I can say that I honestly try. It’s not just my family that I try to love, it’s others too. I really do try to be what people need. That’s not to say that I become someone different to meet people’s needs, but if I look out Kara’s window and see that the neighbor’s sunroof is open and it’s raining, I call her. I hang up the phone feeling like I’ve loved her. When someone is going through a difficult time and I go to them about how they are affecting me, I’m not loving them. I’ve done both of those things within the last week.

So, give. Today, tonight, tomorrow, look at those around you and imagine what they might need and give it. I am.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Day 4: What you ate today

OK, don’t judge me. Oh, who am I kidding? That is what we do, isn’t it?  :)

Today, I have eaten a bowl of Pop’s for breakfast. I had 2 or 3 bites of cake around lunchtime. Then for dinner I had cheeseburger bake casserole and 5 baby carrots.

The day isn’t over. I’m thinking of having a banana in a bit after the kids go to bed.

So yeah, go ahead, tell me that I don’t eat enough for a lactating mother. I know, I know. I’ll try to do better tomorrow, but there are no promises. :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Day 1 of the 30 Day Meme

Day One: Introduce Yourself

Hi! I’m Mandy!
me

I’m 33, almost 34, and live in semi-small town Kansas.

I was born in a smaller town in Southern Kansas. I was born the youngest of 3 children. I have an older brother and an older sister. I was raised in a nearby town along the Oklahoma border by my mom and step-dad, along with my brother, sister and oldest step-brother. I was the baby. I was the bright-eyed, promising future, dancing feet, baby sister.

I started dancing in 1st grade and took it all the way through Junior College and into the hearts of my children. I love dance.

In April 1997, I met Jesus one night. He changed my heart and He changed my life. I’ve never really recovered, and really, everything before that is kind of blur and doesn’t hold a lot of importance when I tell you about who I am. Bottom line: I met Jesus one night.

I met Him when I was in Junior College, where I also met great, lifelong friends and danced. That was some of the best times of my life.

college

From there, I became a vagabond. I moved to Missouri with my sister for the summer and stayed to go to Southwest Baptist University for a semester before I toured with GX Jam on a 3 month mission trip. On that trip, I learned even more about the awesomeness of Jesus. I gave my testimony, taught people about Jesus, led a few personally, danced and grew so much!

At the end of that tour, I ended up in Chicago. I got a job as a nanny in the suburbs for a year and attended a life-changing church in Uptown. Uptown became my heart’s desire and moved there after I got married. I poured myself out there. I loved that community. It was the most densely populated 2 square miles in the country and more languages were there than in any other 2 square miles in the country. People there were hurting and hungry and I was broken for them.

I met a self-proclaimed prophet from Nigeria. He said once that God told him that if he was going to get what he wanted, he had to do it himself. He found that in me. I was a brand new Christian. I hadn’t been saved much longer than a year and I was vulnerable. I absorbed what he taught…and thus became his cult member – hook, line and sinker.

I got two amazing, radical children out of it.

Migc just turned 10. I can talk to him. I can understand him. He knows my heart and stays close to it. He always has. His pregnancy was also the one to birth my love of pregnancy and childbirth. He was my first homebirth. Migc loves sports, guns and all things boy, including his Mama.
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Kristen will be 9 in a few weeks. Her and Migc are 1 year, 1 month and 1 day apart. Oh, I will leave those stories out, but life was certainly hard back then! Kristen is my polar opposite, except her sensitivity. Girl can cry at the drop of a hat just like her Mama. She’s all girl and we were told recently that she’s being submitted for testing to get into the gifted program. She likes to do make-up and hair and wear pink sparkly dresses. She also loves Jesus! She’s going to be my missionary midwife. She can watch birth shows all day long.
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When they were small, their dad and I divorced. I’ll leave that story alone too. :) It happened.

I stayed in Chicago and enjoyed it. I love Chicago. It’s beautiful and it’s heavenly. I have so many amazing memories of Chicago. I found myself there. I fell in love with who God made me to be and learned to accept some things about myself and about people in general. It was fantastic. I longed for home and for my family though.

Then I met Justin. Here is that story. He rocked my world! Those early days were intense and hard…life has never stopped for us. For a year, we went through court proceedings to get Migc and Kristen to Kansas. We won and moved home. Justin built us a life!j&i

We bought a house with a yard and a drive-way. The kids flourished and my belly grew! The weekend that we moved, we got pregnant and could not have been happier.

Jaden is my special child. He cried 6 hours straight the first night he came home and never really stopped crying. He had all day colic and was sick a lot, in spite of being 100% breastfed. Now, he is 2. He is sweet and so very, very smart. He loves his siblings and his daddy! Oh forgetaboutit, he loves his mommy, his papa (Justin’s dad) and his mema (my mom) too. He knows how to show his love! He can play like we played when we were young. Cars in the dirt and zooming around like an airplane keep in busy!
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About six months ago, we moved from a bigger city in Kansas to a smaller city in Kansas, but not as small as our hometown. I became a full-time military wife and delivered the 4th (and last) child.

Kara is … something else. Oh boy, that girls melts my heart. She is happy and cuddly; every mom’s greatest desire.
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So, I’m introducing myself but I talked about my kids. That’s because that is who I am. I’m a stay-at-home mom. My life is poured out into my children. I’m a hippy, breastfeeder, natural birther (to the core) and I try to be as earth friendly as I can. I love tattoos, 70s decor and folk music. Jesus is still the keeper of my heart, and Justin is the lover of my heart.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Transitions

I think I might have underestimated this move. I don’t know. On one hand, I’d say I didn’t, but really, yeah, I think I didn’t understand how much everything would change…and I mean everything.

I’m a big girl. I’ve made my share of life-changing moves. I’ve gone through more transitions that I think is probably normal and I handle them pretty well. I steer my children through them pretty well too. I’m usually not too bad at rebounding and I’m not unrealistic going into situations. I often know exactly what I’m getting myself into. I knew this time too. I’m just not sure that the knowing part has helped much and there have been things I did not expect – at all.

I moved to a new town, farther away from family and to a place where I didn’t know a single soul. It’s not the first time I’ve ever done that in my life. At least I brought my husband and kids with me this time. I know them. This town is different than any I’ve ever lived in though and I don’t think I expected that.

I like it here. In fact, I love this town. It’s a neat community. It’s just different than what I’m used to. I’ve always lived in lower income neighborhoods. Really, I’ve always chosen to live there sort of. I mean, yeah, I wasn’t rich so I couldn’t move to the best, but where I’ve always been, I’ve always been needed. The schools needed me because not many parents were involved. The neighbors were sometimes just more needy people – they needed friendship mostly and someone to talk to. I would do that…often. Now, I live in a high income neighborhood. The school could care less if I even exist because they have, literally, 100% turnout at the Meet the Teacher night. The neighbors are so very nice, really nice, but they don’t need me. They make me feel like they want me, but they certainly don’t need me. It’s just very different.

I added another child to this crazy mix. I’ve been told several times that after 3 you don’t notice a difference. I’m calling bogus on that one! Kara is amazing!!! She rocks my world, but I have 4 children that need me individually. Last night, I went into the backyard to play with all four of them. I was throwing the football with Migc. Kara was in the swing but would fuss from time-to-time to have me come over and push her a little more and talk to her for a minute. Jaden wanted me to draw hearts on the sidewalk. Kristen couldn’t do it right, he had to have Mommy do it. Kristen wanted to show me her batting skills and share stories about school. It is hard to give each of them their own attention. I’m an involved mom that values their differences and tries to meet each of them where they are. Sometimes, I love being pulled in those directions and finding that I’m competent. Other times, I want to run away.

The one thing that I did not expect and have had the hardest time adjusting to is the changes in my husband. He has a new job that he *loves*. Since we’ve been together he’s had jobs that he did but didn’t enjoy, so he came home and found his fulfillment at home. Now, he loves his job and, honestly, I feel kind of less important now. His loyalties are divided now and he has changed so much! The change was instant too and he has a hard time seeing it at all. Nearly daily, it slaps me in the face though and I’ve had a hard time navigating it. He still loves me and I love him. It’s like learning to love a new him though. He does different things, says different things and values different things. I’ve been all over the board on trying to figure out how to handle it and I definitely haven’t mastered it, but I’m still working on it.

The level of adjustments and transitions has been out of this world. Everything has changed. My home, my standard of living, the number of children, my husband, my church, my body, my friends, everything. Wading through all of those transitions at once has proven to be hard! At times, harder than I can stand up under, but I will make it through. I will press on, and we’ll be better for it in the long run, right?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Superwoman, oh Superwoman!

OK, I'm feeling it today. I'm extremely tired. My body is sore. My patience is thin.

Superwoman has left the building!

I'm ready for my husband to come home!!!! Naps don't cut it because I have so much stuff to do that I spend naptime doing it and for the last 3 days, I haven't gotten decent naps out of Kara so I don't even get much done. Yesterday, my house was clean. Today, it is trashed.
We ran around doing stuff last night and got behind on stuff at home, which made this morning crunch time for the kids and they were dragging their feet, which irritated me. When they left, Jaden screamed about everything while I was changing Kara's diaper and feeding her. Oh yeah, and she threw up, literally, threw up everywhere this morning. When she was nursing first thing, she got choked up. I think sometimes she has mucous in her throat and it chokes her a little. Well, it choked her enough to make her start gagging and gagging led to throwing up...a lot. I just held her forward and let her throw up all over the floor. There was no way I was making it to the bathroom or anything like that and it's great having hardwood that you can clean up. Boy, was it a lot, so a bit later, we had to nurse all over again because she threw up everything. She handles it like a champ though. After she was done throwing up, she looked at me and smiled. Man, I love that girl!

Anyway, Jaden was screaming. Now he's eating cereal and watching Sid the Science Kid. It's quiet. I like that. I can't do this all day though. I have to get the kitchen put back together (how does it get torn apart every single day???). I have to get MY laundry put away...and Kara's too. I really, really, really want to get Kara's walls finished washing so I can start painting so that I can put that room back together. It drives me crazy like it is! I cannot function in there! And, I have other projects that I need to move on to, but I refused to start another without finishing that one. And, I need to be Mommy. Superwoman, COME BACK!

I stayed up way too late last night. I cannot go to bed when he isn't here. I try and I just can't! Ugh!

OK, the boy is screaming again. I must go do Mommy Duty. Can I have the day off, PLEASE?!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Is the world upside down?

Jaden fell asleep in his chair, so Kristen carried him to bed. He’s never fallen asleep while doing anything other than riding in the car or laying in his bed. He’s been very mellow this morning. Strange…

Migc just up and took a trip to Missouri with the neighbor. We have an awesome neighbor! She has an 8 year old son. He and Migc have become best friends. They are inseparable. Migc just went over to see if he could play and found them in the car getting ready to drive to Missouri to look at a dog. He packed an overnight bag because they aren’t sure if they will be back tonight or tomorrow. They may even hit up Oceans of Fun.

Migc has come a long way in the last few months. I’m exceptionally happy that he’s found a great friend. It’s always hardest for him to find a great friend. I picture these boys as teenagers and even college friends. It’s great!

As for me, I’m feeling great! The antidepressants have helped stabilize my emotions, which is exactly what I needed. We’re wading through the issues, evaluating and making appropriate changes. All are signs of progress.

The world may seem a bit upside down today, but it feels good.

Love Like This

I have a friend that is watching the love of her life wilt away with cancer. My heart breaks 100 times a day for their family.

I met her online of sorts. I bought a Christian childbirth book off of ebay from her. When I got it in the mail, I realized that she lived close to my hometown and I emailed her. She was pregnant at the time. We became very good friends. I can remember pouring over emails to each other during some lonely times, and I would stop and see her whenever I traveled through her town.

Her and her husband have always, without fail, always been “that” couple. They adore each other and have always been a strong, stable unit. He loves her and she loves him. They click and they are amazing. They are the couple that you look to and say, “I want love like that.”

She has 5000 friends on facebook now and has gotten really into the hunting world and met lots of people, so we haven’t stayed quite as personal as we once were, but she’s still a great friend that I trust immensely. A little over a month ago, I got an email asking for prayer for her husband. At the time, they didn’t know what was wrong with him but that he was very sick.

Long story short, they learned that he has Stage IV cancer.

Within the last week, they went to Houston to seek medical help and after a shorter than expected visit, they are vacationing there now. They have not shared the news as to what happened, but I’m expecting the worst just based on what has and hasn’t been said.

Watching them handle this with such grace and pure love is amazing! I’ve put myself in both of their shoes. I cannot imagine being either one of them. How do watch the man that you’ve dedicated your life to and loved completely die a slow and painful death? How do, as the protector, provider, strong and stable father and husband, endure watching your wife and 3 beautiful daughters (all old enough to understand) stand by unable to make you better and knowing that one day you will not be those things to the ones that need you to be those things. And, on both sides, there is nothing you can do. What they are doing is right way. They are enjoying every single minute of their existence together. They are laughing, loving and thoroughly enjoying each other. I’m certain there are tears, but I’ve seen that they must be accompanied with celebration of life and love.

They got up early in Galveston this morning, went to the beach and watched the sun rise. He sometimes gets up before her and leaves her a message as a status on her facebook account, and it melts you. He loves her. He adores her. He pours himself over her. She remains upbeat and full of feistiness.

Their love is a testimony, but it still breaks my heart a 100 times a day!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Road to Recovery

Well, I did it. I took the leap. I went to the doctor and got put on a very low dose anti-depressant. I honestly cannot wait to not feel like crazy lady anymore. I’m ready to have me back!

Justin is worried. He feels like me being on an anti-depressant means that he isn’t good enough. That is so far from the truth. How must I feel? I refuse to feel that way though. Yeah, this proves that I’m not good enough, not strong enough, not stable enough, not a whole lot of enoughs, but I’m not going to make my family suffer because I’m not enough. I’m going to do what it takes to do right by them.

It feels like a new day. Today, I’m going to stop beating myself up, and I’m going to get right!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Livejournal Again?

Something happened yesterday.

If you keep up on my blog at all, you know that I’m going through some postpartum depression. It really sucks for everyone. Yesterday was a bad day. I managed to get upset over and over again. While I was showering, Justin came and sat down in the bathroom to talk to me. I really let it all out. Well, a lot of it out. I talked to him about what I feel the causes are, some of what doesn’t help and about how selfish I feel. I talked about what I felt like he was saying to me and about how I can’t fix any of it though I can identify it.

He had gone from not wanting me to go on an anti-depressant to saying “do whatever you need to do to get better NOW.”

After we talked, nothing was better. He went to do what he wanted to do, while I struggled to get things done that I had planned to get done. Finally, I lost it! I threw diapers everywhere, then threw clean clothes everywhere. I was just tired of doing everything and no one caring. I sat down with Kara and watched TV and chose to do nothing else. He came in from outside and kind of asked how I was doing and I told him that I wasn’t doing anything anymore. I quit. I didn’t care what anyone did, ate, where they went, anything. I was done caring. I put Kara to sleep and went to bed myself. Those are 2 things I rarely ever do, watch TV and take a nap.

While I was stubbornly napping, I shut out the world and determined to let go of my give-a-crap…and God did a work in Justin.

One of the hardest things about all of this is that I do have legitimate complaints and issues that need to be addressed. However, because I’m a mess most of the time, they get lost in all of that. I come across as a nagging, crazy lady.

Justin was doing some things around the house (because I quit) and was praying about what he needed to do. He went to unload a box outside & came across some of my old journals. I had them in a box for storage. There were 3 of them. 1. A journal that Nosa gave me before we married. It was mostly full of pre-marriage stuff and gooing over Nosa. I remembered today at Nosa’s request, I pulled all of the negative entries out of it. 2. A journal I started when I was pregnant with Migc and was intended for a pregnancy journal & quickly morphed in Migc/Kristen then on to other days. 3. A journal titled New Beginnings which documents a lot of the transformation away from the bondage of that marriage. All 3 overlapped some and there would be many months go by before there would be another entry. When he told me what he’d come across, I got scared. I thought he might be upset that I still had some of this.

Quite the opposite. God spoke to him through them. I’ve always been a writer. I don’t write fiction or self-help or anything book-worthy, but I write my life. It’s my therapy. It’s who I am. When Justin and I first started talking, I gave him access to my livejournal and told him that if he wanted to know me, he should read it. We’ve had that conversation many times. I get so much more of myself out when I write.

I stopped livejournal for a few reasons and one of them was because Justin didn’t like it that I would vent there. I can understand that, yet at the same time, it’s how I process things. I don’t talk things out. I write them out. All day, every day, I process things in my head with writing. My life is a journal entry – both for good and for bad.

Reading those reminded him of us in the beginning. There were entries about him. It reminded him of how we used to be. And, it finally sunk in that writing is my therapy. He asked me to start doing again. He asked me to livejournal again – to at least give it a try. He knows that I blog, but even he recognizes that it isn’t the same for me. I have to be careful of so many things and I still offend people regularly. I don’t do very well when I have to censor myself. I need to write. He also wants to set up a sewing/writing place for me to go.

I’m crying just typing this out. It was like he finally gets me…again. He used to get me, and I haven’t felt like that in a while.

So, I don’t know if I will, but I might be back.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Selfish!

Depression is such a selfish state of mind. It really is. I have friends that I’ve watched go through it, and I’ve thought about how selfish they are at the time. I’ve thought about it in my own life too.

What stinks though is that you are nearly incapable of changing it. I’ve watched friends so overcome by depression and their spouse so angry and resentful and completely unable to do anything right by them. I’ve felt terribly sorry for that spouse. The spouse feels responsible, yet unable to even help fix it. That goes for anyone near the depressed person.

I see it in my own life. I have moments where I completely lose it. It’s hard enough for me to navigate. It’s impossible for those near me. They can’t do anything right and they can’t help me either, in my view at the time. It’s an all-consuming feeling that leads to helplessness. Even though I can identify it and understand it, I haven’t figured out how to fix it. Even recognizing the selfishness at the time doesn’t help. It’s still too consuming.

I hate the selfishness. I hate it that I feel like things should be centered around me because they should not. That is not who I am, yet I become it. Depression sucks!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ahhhh PPD

I’m pretty sure I’m feeling some postpartum depression. (Speak out!)

It could be the birth, the life events or some situations, or it could be all of it together, which is what I think. Either way, it’s here and I’m a bit of a mess. OK, a lot of a mess.

At what point though, does anyone care? I know how helpless you can feel when those close to you are depressed. I’ve been there and I know, so I don’t say that condemningly. It’s just that you go to your 6 week doctor’s appointment and that’s one of the questions they ask. When they ask and you immediately start bawling, that’s a pretty good indication. However, that’s all they ask. Nothing more. At the end of the appointment, I have to say, “Oh wait. Hey, um, is there something I need to do about this?” And they say, “well, if you get suicidal seek help immediately or if you notice is getting worse.” OOOOK. How worse? Who do you seek help from because I thought by talking to you, I was? It’s confusing. Seems like a lot of work to find help. And, that was 5 weeks ago.

On top of that, people have no sympathy. I’m not saying lay down and worship me or be overly sympathetic, but a little non-insulting could go a long way when all I want to do it lock myself in the bathroom and cry for 3 days. I’m not talking my husband here. I’m thankful to have a husband that at the mention of depression goes on high alert. I’m eternally thankful for that! It helps soooo much.

He knows my history. I had severe ppd with Kristen. It lasted a full year and I was extremely suicidal. I had it planned and at times had letters written to my children. It was very bad. I’m not to that point now and I don’t think I will get there. Thankful!

This is much harder than I ever imagined it would be. Call me weak. Call me whatever name you want to call me, but make sure you call me real too. This stuff is hard! Yeah, I know I chose life as a military wife. I know that much of what I’m living right now is because of that choice. I’m proud of my soldier. I’m proud to be a military wife. I don’t regret that decision. I’m still convinced fully that we made the right move to come here and take this job. I’m convinced fully that Kara is a welcomed 4th gift from God. I’m fully convinced that God knows what He is doing. I will also stand by the fact that even though all of that is true, it’s still hard. I still have a hard time even floating sometimes. We will get through it…and alive. My prayer for myself right now is just to rise above the hurt and the pain (some self-inflicted, some not) and embrace life again. I have some personal things to wade through. I’ll do it though.

It just might take me some time though.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Achievement

Being a mom can be a thankless job and sometimes that is darn right depressing. There are times when I really need a pat on the back or a “you are amazing”. Justin even says that I fish for compliments. I do. I need it. I suppose it’s one of my love languages – words of affirmation.

There are times when I really need those compliments.

Then there are times when I do certain things and I just think, “man, I know I’m pretty darn good.” As a mother, you have those moments when you know you rock. We all do. As lame as my accomplishments may seem, they make me feel great!

I had one of those moments the other night. Justin went to hang out with the guys from work. Kristen had a softball game. I took Kristen (8), Migc (9), Jaden (2) and Kara (2 months) to the game. Kristen was playing and Migc does a pretty good job of helping me keep up with Jaden and as long as I’m holding Kara the right way, she’s golden. No biggie, right? Well, Jaden is newly potty trained, so when he told me that he needed to go pee, we took off for the bathroom. Getting him there really wasn’t a big deal – he needed to go. Getting him on the potty was another story all together. He couldn’t sit on it because he couldn’t get positioned right to direct his aim into the toilet because it was one of those where the seat splits in the front (don’t they think of little boys when they make those things??). He wanted to sit on it backwards like Daddy does for him, but I couldn’t hold Kara and get him undressed and able to do that at the same time. He couldn’t stand up because the toilet was too tall. So, I picked him up with my right arm wrapped around his stomach while I held Kara in my left arm. I balanced him over the toilet directing his aim into the toilet and it worked!

We made our back to the game and about 20 minutes later, he had to go again. Same scenario all over again.

On our way back to the game, I’m smiling at myself and feeling very proud of my achievement. I didn’t need a pat on the back. Hovering your child over the toilet while holding a baby and getting the aim into the toilet is an accomplishment that demands no compliment in my mind!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happenings Around the House

I’m pretty sure I should be packing. Next Friday, we close on our house. We’re moving in as soon as we possibly can. Justin will be out of town some soon, so we want to get it all done before he leaves. So, I should be packing…but I haven’t packed a single thing.

Well, ok, yes I have. Our entire garage is full of stuff that I packed before we moved here. It’s all stuff that we could go six months without because it won’t fit in this duplex. We cannot wait to get out of here. The new house is completely amazing! We cannot wait! I’m ready for Kara to have her own space. We’re ready to have more than one bathroom. We’re ready to have some room to breathe without each other. We all need that!

We’ve been potty training for the last 3 days. I think we’ve succeeded. He only had 2 accidents today…and about 50 successful trips to the potty. Mommy is worn the heck out! Whoo Wee! I wish I could slack off for a few days now, but I cannot. He’s such a big boy though! I’m quite proud of him! Here he is watching his little dvd player in his big boy underwear tonight. Two years and one month! Don’t let anyone tell you that boys are harder than girls!

017 Tomorrow, I think I’ll venture out with him. I’m a little scared! The older kids need out of the house though. I feel so bad for them. They’ve been locked at home all summer because it’s hard to get all of us out during the day. I think we’ll hit up the library tomorrow. They’ve been asking to do that. What a nothing summer this will be for them. :( They are getting a new house though, so that’s something!

The house in Wichita is a big fat mess! There are foundation issues which has caused flooding. The foundation issues were there long before us and cracking open the walls revealed it all. Most likely, we’ll end up in court with the previous owners because of it. None of it is a good deal though!

Kristen is playing softball. It’s her thing! She’s pretty good and she LOVES it! I was never a softball player growing up, but it is so exciting watching her play! She’s much more athletic than I’d ever imagined her being. I’m so proud of her! I don’t have any pictures yet, but I’m going to get some soon and I’ll be sure to share!

Migc is doing better. He’s had a very, very rough summer and he’s still not out of the woods, but he has improved. His summer has consisted of work, work and more work. He’s gotten pretty good at mopping, vacuuming and other things around the house. I know him and his sister will both be happy to have a dishwasher! :)

Kara is a chunk! That girl! She smiles and laughs and swings and plays in the bouncy chair. She’s an easy baby most of the time. She sleeps pretty well too. I’d be wise to take advantage of times like these and go to bed, but I’ve never claimed to be wise. I pulled up pictures of Jaden today and was astonished at how much they look alike, but when I compare pictures side-by-side, it doesn’t seem so much like they do. I don’t know. I’ll let you be the judge.

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Here she is getting her beauty sleep, which she totally does not need. :)

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Here she is saying, “Yup, I’m chubby! My mama has good milk though!” Ignore how I look…I’ve done nothing but potty train for 3 days!

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Jaden 25 months and Kara 2 months

Now let’s compare the two.

012They are the same age in these pictures.  I don’t know…I can see similarities, but I think they do look different. What do you think? I’m pretty sure she is chubbier than him though!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Loving Yourself

Ok so, one day, you are 19. You are on a college danceline. You are young, alive, driven and your body doesn’t need much help at all.

Then you wake up one day and you realize that that was 14 years ago and you most definitely are not her anymore.

Strangely, it’s a more sobering reality than you realized it would be.

Fourteen years and 4 kids later, you realize that you are no where near that. Just a few years ago, you could still keep up athletically, but not anymore. You are not young the way you were young then. In fact, as you are sitting in the WalMart dressing room, nursing your baby, you catch yourself in the mirror. It’s been a long time since you’ve really even looked at your face because frankly, you hardly have time to pee in the bathroom. Staring at your face isn’t an option. But here you are in the WalMart dressing room, looking at your face, and you realize that your smile has created permanent lines. That smile used to light up a room. Now, it’s the beginning of wrinkles, and you realize that you have most definitely aged. You no longer look like you are even in your twenties. You might even look older than your age. How did that happen to me? So, yeah, you’re not young in the sense that you were young before.

Alive. Yeah, I suppose when you sit on the floor in your children’s room and they sing along to a book with you, you feel alive. It’s a different alive though. You certainly don’t feel alive when you are in the back seat of the car singing the same 3 songs over and over and over to your 8 week old until she stops crying and goes to sleep, only to have her wake up 3 minutes later and do it all over again and again. You have your moments that feel alive, but they are few and far between and they are vastly different than they were 14 years ago.

Driven? hahahahaha I’m driven to have my 2 year old completely potty trained within the next 3 days. Does that count? Honestly, if driven were part of me right now, I don’t think I could possibly be the mother and wife that I should be. I no longer have a list of achievements that I can rattle off. I can’t tell you how high up the ladder I’m climbing. I can’t tell you what my sights are set on. I have no drive because I will neglect my family if I do.

And my body, are you kidding me? Remember, I have four kids and I’m 14 years older. My body forgot what it means to bounce back. I have back fat, for the first time in my life. That certainly has a more traumatizing effect on me than any of the others. And really, I’ve decided that I’m kind of mad that I have to work so hard to get it off this time.

On top of it all, you realize that those girls are there and though you’re in a completely different league because, let’s face it, you CANNOT compete, you are completely aware that they are there, at all times and that somehow, you are competition whether you know it or not. From here, it will only get worse. Instead of being the one that men show interest in because you are young, alive, drive and have a body, you are the one trying desperately to hold the attention of one.

…and these feelings makes you want to crawl in hole because you’ve forgotten how to love yourself.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Fix Me

I remember when I was in the 4th or 5th grade, my older sister and I were at my biological dad’s house for our weekend visitation. I remember that in the midst of an evening that had gotten out of control, I sat on the top bunk of our bed crying so hard and talking to my sister. She hugged me and said, “It’s going to be alright. I promise.”

It was the first time anyone had ever said that it would alright. I distinctly remember it and how important that moment was to me. I believed her too…and it was.

There have been many times along the way that I’ve wished someone would hug me and say that. At times, when I’ve deeply needed someone to tell me that it’s all going to be ok, I’ve had friends that have done that. They have no idea the impact that simple statement made.

Right now, I really need someone to hug me and promise me that it’s going to be alright. And, I really need to believe them.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Gibber Gabber

What a great day to be alive! The sun is still shining when I close my eyes! :)

It’s not quite 11:30am and I’ve completed a mostly full night of sleep, cooed with Kara, done a boatload of laundry, did a mini workout (YAY!) and have showered. Now that’s productivity, people!

Justin has been working out every morning during the week and I can tell quite a difference. (woo hoo) Me, on the otherhand, I’m still 20 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight. I knew this pregnancy was going to do me in. I know, I’m only 4 weeks postpartum, but I’ve never been this heavy at 4 weeks postpartum. This is not going to drop off of me like it has in the past. This will only come with prayer and fasting, kidding, hard work and determination. I’m not cutting into my diet because I need the calories for breastfeeding, so I have to attack this every other way.

Why does Jaden insist on standing on my feet???

Oh yeah, I got a quarter of Kristen’s hair braided this morning too.

Alright, I’m done telling you how fabulous I am because if you walked into my house right now, you’d know differently, considering there is stuff everywhere. I cannot figure out how so many toys get in the bathroom. I never find children playing there, but I picked up half a dozen a little bit ago and when I went back in, I discovered Jaden’s ball mitt was still there. Why? How? He doesn't even pee in there!

Something else that makes me happy today. I’m pretty sure I’ve made friends. It took me 2 1/2 years to make friends in Wichita. I take that back, I did have a couple, but none that I saw regularly or talked to regularly. It wasn’t until we found our last church that I really felt like I was making friends. We found a church here two weeks ago and I love the people! They have been bringing meals by all week, and it was nice because I got to actually meet and talk with a few couples. It feels like we’ve made friends! I’m excited about that! Couples that we can go to dinner with or to the park or to the zoo or enjoy church service together! That feels so good!

Now, to just get my 9-year-old not to roll his eyes at me again today…. Oh, he just told me that I was mean!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Simple Things

I love toddler scribbles.

That is all.

This Girl!

She’s my it. I love this girl! She is so amazing!

You always wonder if you will have enough love to give another one, and boy, I didn’t know I had that much love. It’s not just that she is a good baby, which she is. I think it’s a combination of everything.

Jaden was so hard! You never knew what was wrong with him. He just cried and cried and cried and I always felt inadequate. Kara is not only normal, but she just looks at me. She always wants to be staring at me. I tell her it’s stalkerish all of the time. She will even move her head around to the front of my face if I’m not looking at her. She is snuggly. She is BEAUTIFUL!

The shine on her hair. The dimples on her cheeks. The mark on her forehead. Her long toes. Her chubby arms. She’s just amazing!

She loves me well. And I love her more.

Birth Disappointments

I don’t want to include any of this in the original story because it was a joyful and amazing birth. I’ve had 4 amazing births, but really, I think this one topped them all, and I don’t want to take away from that. There were a couple of things that hurt though too.

When we left the hospital, we were eager to go home. They have hospital workers that are not nurses and are not privy to what is happening on any particular floor. These are the workers that come get you with a wheel chair and wheel you, grinning from ear-to-ear, with your new baby in your arms, down the hall and out the door. It is an experience to gloat as you are wheeled past on-lookers oh-ing over the new baby. I have tears in my eyes and a sickening stomach as I remember this moment with Kara.

The hospital worker came to get us and sent Justin down one way to get the car and pull it around, and she wheeled me another way to a back elevator. As she wheeled me down the hall, with my brand new baby girl in my arms, grinning, I notice a lot of people standing in the hallway just ahead of me. I instantly made eye contact with a few of the people and saw pain. It took me all of about 3 seconds to realize that something was wrong. As I passed through them in the hallway, standing outside a room in the maternity ward, watching me leave with my brand new baby girl, I heard a woman on the telephone say, “I don’t know if they are going to do a burial or a cremation.”

I instantly bawled and cried most of the way home. By the time I got to the car, I was falling apart and Justin was trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I just could not believe they would put that family through the torture of wheeling me passed them, going home with my baby. It didn’t seem fair. There wasn’t a lot of talking on the way home because neither of us could get our minds off of those parents. I felt guilty and wished that the worker had never taken me down that hallway.

The other disappointed was that we didn’t have visitors. My mom and Justin’s dad, stepmom and little brother were there immediately after the birth, and we were so grateful that they got to experience those moments with us. My mom kept the kids overnight, so she came up the next day too, but other than that, we didn’t have a single visitor. Except for Justin’s youngest brother, none of our brothers or sisters came. None of our friends came. It was disappointing for us. Even now, few have even attempted to meet her.

Missing Birth Details

There are details that I forgot to include in the original story. I haven’t had time to get back here to update it either. I will write them up here, then edit my original story to include the details.

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After I got out of the bath and sat on the bed chatting for a minute before I got to the real work of labor, soft rain started pitter pattering on the window of the hospital room. It was one of those slight rains that you know smells so good. I was reminded of Hawaii and how I learned while I was there that rain is a blessing. After learning that, I always wanted it to rain on really important days. This was the first.

Blessing.

Later, Justin told me that just as Kara was born, the clouds parted and the sun shone bright. He said it was amazing. Also, when Chantel left after the birth, she captured a photo of a rainbow right across the street from the hospital. She gave Kara the name “The Rainbow Baby”.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

Tuesday was Kara’s first official doctor’s appointment and it did not go down without excitement.

I was successfully able to get both Kara and Jaden down for a nap so that I could get a shower, and I even had time to put make-up on and blow dry (mostly) my hair.

I had planned to get Jaden up in time to have a quick lunch, get him and Kara ready and head out the door in plenty of time. About 30 seconds before I went to wake Jaden up, I heard him awake. “Perfect", I thought. I open his bedroom door and find him sitting on his bed, holding his nose, saying “Owwie Owwie Owwie”. He had been playing with 4 or 5 of Migc’s plastic BBs before he went to bed and I knew immediately what he had done. I push on his nose and pop one BB out. He is still holding his nose. I look and there is another one. With him screaming and pushing me away by this time, I push out another one. In spite of looking everywhere, I cannot find the others and assume they are even further up his nose, but he won’t let me near it. His nose was still bulging and I didn’t know what to do.

I called Justin and he said it would be fine until I got to Kara’s appointment to ask the doctor. He was still sneezing and his nose was still bulging and every time I asked him if there were more in there, he just hung his head and wouldn’t look at me.

I got Kara up, quickly nursed her enough to get by, rushed around and got us out the door. By this time we were late. Jaden hadn’t eaten lunch, so I grabbed some crackers and took off.

We got to the doctor’s office and only made it in the door after Jaden jumped in a water puddle. Remember how I’d gotten make-up on and my hair blown dry? Well, because I was carrying a carseat and holding a toddler’s hand, when I walked through the door, my hair was stuck to my lipstick and I’m sure I looked very well put together, but alas, we got checked in. We got seated to wait and I got Kara out and everything set just to pick up when they call us, then she started crying, so I began to nurse her again, only to have the nurse walk in and call us. I got myself together and begged Jaden to tear himself away from the fish tank and walk with me.

At our old doctor’s office, we would go into a room to undress the baby then take them to get weighed. Not this one! We have to undress them, keep all of our stuff together and out of passerby’s way and keep our other children near while standing in a hallway with a screaming, naked baby just to get a weight and length. *Whew*

Then they take us to a room, start to ask questions and Kara is screaming, so I sit to nurse her. The nurse needs a head circumference and asks if she can do it while I’m nursing. I respond, “Go ahead. This is #4, I don’t really care what you see.” In the meantime, I’ve told her about Jaden’s BBs and because they don’t have his records or anything yet, staff is coming in and out to fill out paperwork for him and consulting the doctor to see if he will even see him while we are there. Oh yeah, we’re still nursing and filling out paperwork and Jaden is climbing on chairs and attempting to climb on the counter. Then Kara poops. Wait, back up. When we were naked at the scale, I threw the wet diaper she was wearing back on and didn’t worry about it being tight enough or on right or anything like that. I just needed it on so that we could get to the room. So, she poops, right? She poops a lot. I keep nursing until she’s ok (not screaming anymore) then I get her up to change her.

She pooped out of everything. By the time we left the office, I found poop still on her butt after cleaning her and putting a new diaper on. I found poop on my sweatshirt. The nurse pointed out poop on my pants (this, after I saw the doctor), and while the doctor was looking in Jaden’s nose, I found poop on his forehead and his cheek. There was poop on the exam bed. Poop, poop, everywhere was yellow baby poop!

Oh yes, and spit up too. The nurse came in after I changed her and was saying, “oh, more spit up. She has more spit up coming out onto the bed.” Like spit up was my biggest concern at the moment.

The appointment itself went well. The doctor was nice. Kara is growing well. She’s up to 8 lbs 5 ozs and has grown to 19 1/2 inches. He also checked out Jaden who was completely BB-free.

The doctor left. I went to put Kara’s clothes back on her. Jaden was climbing up on the bed. I was trying to juggle him to make sure he didn’t step on Kara’s head and helping him get his footing, when he lost his footing and fell backwards. I caught him just as his head barely touched the wall, saving him from falling straight backwards onto the floor. Now, I have both babies crying…loudly. I’m saying, “Mommy fails. Mommy fails.” The nurse comes in to see if everyone is ok and I’m flabbergasted and I’m sure she is wondering how in the world I’ve raised 3 before this one.

We successfully get to the car. I look in the rearview mirror and I have a booger hanging from my nose. Great. I made a great impression, I’m sure of it!

I’d like to say that was the end of my day, but it wasn’t. It took 2 Sonic visits to get  a drink, then Jaden’s spilled his drink all over the back of the SUV, and I picked the kids up to find that Migc had broken his glasses.

I previously viewed myself as a pretty darn good parent. I’m not so sure about that anymore….

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Kara’s Birth Story

First, let me apologize for the lack of pictures to break this up, but since we hired a birth photographer (who was AMAZING – check it out here), we didn’t take any pictures and I haven’t gotten Chantel’s back yet.

I’ve been contemplating Kara’s birth story. My hang-up has not been with the details; it is the “where do I begin?” Do I begin the story with the days and days of braxton hicks contractions that were always 4 to 10 minutes apart, but never actually doing anything? Or I start on Earth Day, when all signs of imminent labor completely disappeared? Or do I start the next morning, when I awoke to signs of cervical change? Or wait, should I start when contractions started? Then again…I could go on and on here. The beginning of this story is the hard part.

Well, yes, I awoke Friday morning the 23rd to signs of cervical change, but no contractions. This morning was followed by 3 to 4 days of various labor signs that never culminated into anything, but left me worried that my uterus was getting over-worked even before labor started. I went for a couple of walks, did squatting, and awaited a contraction, come on, give me one. Around lunchtime, I did get a few contractions and more signs of cervical change, then it got confusing again. Wait, was that a contraction? Hm, not sure, maybe. Did it go all the way around? Maybe. Maybe not.

Around 3pm, I called Justin, who was on the range, and told him that I thought it would be a good idea if he came home, we got things loaded up and headed South to the hotel. In retrospect, I’m glad we did it that way because by the time we actually got to the hotel, it was 5 hours after that initial phone call. I was exhausted, stressed and praying that real labor would continue to hold off until I could get some rest. My phone was blowing up because I had announced that we were heading South and I was having contractions. How far apart? Are you still having them? Any idea when you’re going to the hospital? I announced to my best friend that I thought I might have stalled labor by 2 days! Everyone was excited and ready to get this moving and by this time, I just wanted bed and to stop feeling like I was the center of attention and everyone was waiting on me. Oh boy, did I make that even worse!

The kids stayed in a room next door with my mom and Justin and I crashed at between 9 and 10pm. I started waking up at about 1am with contractions. I would think, “I need to time that.” Then I’d fall back asleep. I woke up a little before 3am with regular contractions 3 minutes apart. I monitored them for about 20 minutes before I woke Justin up and told him that he should call his dad because it would take them more than an hour to get there and if I was having them every 3 minutes laying in my bed completely asleep, what would happen when I got up? I also called my birth photographer because I knew it would take her a while to get child care lined up and things in order.

We got up, showered, went to get breakfast and by 6am, they were still every 2-3 minutes and though they weren’t intense, I was having to stop walking and talking. We woke the kids up and realized pretty soon there after that the contractions were tapering off. Justin and I went for a walk and they continued to taper off, as we were walking, to about every 8 minutes and lacking in intensity. Justin’s dad, stepmom and little sister came to the hotel and by then, I wasn’t really even having contractions. I would have one here and there and could walk and talk through them. Talk about drawing attention to yourself…for nothing at all. The strangest thing though was that when I’d lay down, they’d get closer together and more intense.

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This shirt has been present for 4 labors and is now retired!

His dad and family decided to head back home and we went garage sale-ing. By 11:30am, the contractions were back and they weren’t lacking in intensity. We picked up lunch and headed back to the hotel. By this time, it was around 1pm. Mom and the kids went swimming, while Justin and I took a very short rest, trying to determine if this was really the real thing this time! About 15-20 minutes later, we decided to head to the hospital.

I knew I was getting there early, but I hadn’t registered yet and I didn’t want to be stuck in the birth admission room in active labor like last time. Contractions were 3 minutes apart or less and they were lasting a long time, but I knew that I wasn’t dilated to 5 yet. For me, 5 is transition and everyone needs to be in place because I’m delivering very soon. I know this about myself.

I don’t want to sound arrogant or prideful, but I’m extremely aware of my body and know well how my body births babies.

We got to the admission room at 2pm. We came in, they put the monitor on me to monitor contractions and I went 20 minutes without one sitting on the bed. As soon as I got up, they were back-to-back and intense. I was dilated to 3-4, 80% effaced and –2 station. Dilation, I expected that. Effaced, ok. The station was a surprise to me! While the nurse was monitoring me, I asked for some water and she told me that I could have ice chips but that if I was in active labor, they wouldn’t let me have anything. I laughed and said, “oh yes they will!” When she returned, she brought ice with water and said she snuck me some. ha! This nurse was very hot and cold. She was fine one minute and being weird another. She just knew I was going to be a problem.

The nurse went to call my doctor, who does not allow others to attend his births and who is 100% on board with my birth plan. She returned to tell me that my doctor was out of town and Dr. Kendil would be attending. Who is Dr. Kendil? Is she natural birth minded? The nurse didn’t know. I fretted for a minute, then let it go. This doctor said that she wanted me monitored for another hour before she made a decision about giving me a room. I didn’t see a problem with this as I knew I wasn’t in active labor yet and really, I wasn’t going to let myself get there until they gave me a room, but I’d do my best to show them signs of progress, so that they would give me a room.

She came back at about 3pm, saw that I was contracting more (only when standing, I might add) and called the doctor. She came back into the entry-way of the room with the phone to her ear and asked if I was planning to have an epidural. I told her no that I would not be having any interventions whatsoever. She relayed that to the doctor and told me that the doctor required a saline IV. I told her no. She handed me the phone. The doctor told me how she required that I have one in the same way that a seat belt is necessary because if I hemorrhage after birth, my veins will collapse and they won’t be able to get it in. I very nicely, very calmly explained to her that this was my 4th natural birth. I’ve had 100% complication-free pregnancies and births and am certain that my body can birth this baby naturally without interventions as well. She began to get a bit hostile and told me that she didn’t know who would attend my birth then. I told her that was fine, she could find someone else, or someone at the hospital could catch, I was ok with that, but I would not be getting an IV. I explained that Dr. Jensen was ok with that and she let me know that she was not Dr. Jensen. I stuck my ground without ever being rude or mean and she told me that I would have to sign a non-consent form and I agreed to do that.

At 4pm, I got a room! Turns out the hot and cold nurse was my nurse for the birth. I’m not so sure she was happy about that. She asked for my birth plan. I assured her that it wasn’t crazy; it basically said to just leave me alone. I joked and tried to make her more comfortable and told her that it was going to be easy and she didn’t need to worry. We went over a few things in the birth plan and she said that she was fine with all of that as long as I would allow her to monitor the baby every 30 minutes. I told her that was perfectly fine and she seemed to relax after that.

Sometimes those of us that are natural birthers come in so dead-set on our own ways that we alienate the doctors and nurses. That is not my intention. I know they feel better if they can monitor the baby. My midwife monitored the baby. As long as it isn’t tying me down to the bed and isn’t constant, I have no problem with that!

The nurses had paperwork for me and questions to ask and all of that. I sat in the bed, laughing, joking, answering questions and texting my sister. Finally, the questions seemed to die down and I asked if she was done. At 4:15, I told the nurse that I was going to get in the bath and when I got out, we were going to have a baby. Remember, I’m currently dilated to 3-4, 80% effaced and –2 station.

I went to the bath for about 45 minutes. I love the bath when I’m in labor! Not only does it make the contractions feel better, but it passes time without me having to do much and it gives me time to focus my mind in. I sat with Justin and talked about how I needed that time to get up the courage and determination to finish it. I really just wanted to sit in that bath and let it take all the time in the world and not face the hard part. I knew that I had to though and stepping out of that bath was the moment it all started. As long as I stalled in the bath, I wasn’t facing what was to come. I also determined while I was in there that that was my time. I knew my photographer was sitting out there and our families were waiting. That was my moment to let them all wait while I mustered all the courage I could find. Justin talked me through all of it and finally, I stood, dried off and put my robe on. My trusty robe.

As I left the bathroom, the nurse came in. She checked my dilation and I could have told her that I was at a 4-5. Transition was NEAR! She left and returned to tell me that she’d called the doctor and the doctor was on the way, so that she wouldn’t miss the birth. This was big to me! Never had they listened to me so well! I told them transition was at 5 and they listened!

I chatted for a minute then took to lowering the bed and getting on my knees. Things were heating up and I crossed over into active labor at around 5pm. The doctor was there within 10 minutes. She walked in during a contraction and saw me breathing, though not audibly, as I’m very quiet in birth. She came over and rubbed my back (ewwww) and said, “Oh poor girl” as if I were experiencing something that she found totally unnecessary. She continued to talk, loudly, about the soft hymns playing and yada yada yada. She pulled my chart and started asking about if the baby had flipped because it was footling breach. WHAT? I never heard that from anyone, if it were true, I certainly didn’t know it! The nurse told her that she felt fontanel. Of course, the doctor did not believe her. I was contracting and not able to talk much.

I will tell you that in the previous 3 births pushing came so quickly that no one ever had a chance to check to see if I was dilated to 10. The latest I’ve ever been checked was at a 7. The doctor said, “can I check to see where you are?” I was there and I knew it. She checked and sure thing, I was at a 10! I’ve always wondered if I pushed through a 9 or not quite there or whatever, so that was uncomfortable but kind of cool!

I’m not quite sure what she expected to happen from there, but she went back to her chair and I went back to the foot of the bed and at the end of the next contraction, I couldn’t not bear down and began to vocalize. Justin came in close as he knew what was happening, the photographer later said she knew I was pushing, but the doctor and the nurse apparently hadn’t a clue! As the contraction ended, I said something like, “It’s time.” I paid no attention to what the others were doing and when the next contraction hit, I pushed, felt the bag pop slightly, heard the doctor say “there’s the bag”, then heard the photographer say, “BABY’S HEAD”. Ha – all of which i knew. The doctor, with one boot cover on and no gloves dove half way across the room to catch my daughter as she slid easily into this world at 5:27pm, roughly about 15-20 minutes after the doctor’s arrival.

She was covered with thick vernix on her back and head and it took several attempts at clearing her throat to remove the mucous, which I’m certain actually took several days to clear. She nursed like a champ right away though!

Kara Lilliann weighed 7lbs 4.8ozs and measured 18 1/2 inches – my smallest baby!

Overall, I was impressed with the staff. They did not agree with my way of birthing, but they respected and honored my every wish. I handed out 1 birth plan and, by word of mouth, every person I encountered throughout our entire stay honored it. And, my nurse openly admitted that it was a very easy birth and expressed that shw wished all non-medicated moms birthed like that.

I requested limited postpartum visits and only necessary ones. Every 4 hours, my nurse would come in to handle everything she needed and the other necessary visitors followed directly behind her.

020 Migc, Kristen and Jaden adored her!

Twenty-four hours after her arrival, we left the hospital and drove a sleeping baby 1 1/2 hours home to join our family!

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Yes, this beautiful child has a lasting and beautiful mark on her forehead! They say it will disappear as she gets older, only to return as she gets angry or upset. I’m certain that she will love the fact that she’ll never be able to hide her emotions!

I am one blessed mama!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Oh Baby Girl

I’m supposed to be picking up a few things and finishing packing the last few things and showering, so that I can be ready to the hospital, but all I can think about it that I get to meet you very soon.

You are your own child. You’re always going to be my independent one, I suppose you get that from me. First doctor’s appointment, you wouldn’t give us a heartbeat, so we had to rush in for a sonogram. You were perfect. Twenty week sonogram, you wouldn’t show us if you were a boy or a girl, we had to schedule another one. You are a girl. We so desperately wanted an Earth Day baby, so we wake up the morning after with the main positive labor sign that we have been lacking all along.

You are my child!

I cannot wait to meet you face-to-face. I love you, Kara Lillian!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Are We There Yet?

39 weeks today.

I dreamed last night that we went to hospital because something felt weird to me and not because I was in active labor. They kept us and we (just Justin and I) were in the room sleeping. It was night time. I woke up and was wearing shorts, but I felt something odd. I took my shorts off and could feel a bulge, then without a contraction or anything, I pushed her out. Justin was still asleep. She came so quickly that I couldn’t catch her and she fell on the floor. I picked her up, the sac was still completely intact around her and I cut it open around her mouth. I remember how beautiful she was.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a dream about a hard, painful or complicated birth. I’ve had quite a few birth dreams over the years and they are always easy. This one took the cake for easy though!

We figure that if I go into labor anytime today, we will do our best to keep it at bay until midnight, just so we can have an Earth Day baby. I am crazy, aren’t I? Do you know how awesome it would be to have an Earth Day baby though. It would definitely be one of the most awesome things in my life.

Everything is ready to go though. I suppose it has been for a while. I’ve just been impatiently waiting. I have ONE babyleg done. If I get a chance at naptime today, I’m going to start the other one and hopefully, I’ll be more diligent about it and get it done quickly.

Daddy is beyond ready too! I hear about it 15 times a day. He’s always telling her that it’s time. We aren’t the most patient people in the world.

005

Friday, April 16, 2010

Nothing Exciting

Nothing new to report. Twelve days until my due date. We're all excited and ready to meet this little girl! Pretty much everything is in place. Things are coordinated as best they can be. I still have a few things here and there to do, but nothing serious, so if it doesn't get done, it's ok.

We have a house that we're interested in. Hopefully, we learn something today to help us decide if we really like it. :)

Oh, I've decided on Kara's life theme song. American Honey by Lady Antebellum. I want her to be there carefree, country girl that is raised in the simple life, knowing what true love is. I heard the song the other day and thought "that's it". No, I don't have theme songs for all of my kids.

Well, I suppose I should go do a few things...laundry, shower, some paperwork, have some coffee, nothing extreme. I'm in a really good, refreshed mood today. I had great sleep and feel on top of the world!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In The Beginning

Tomorrow is the 4th anniversary of our first date.

Just in case I go into labor before I can get this written up tomorrow, I’m doing it tonight.

On December 20, Justin’s picture appeared on the front page of our hometown newspaper. Because he didn’t want to be interviewed, his dad drove him to the newspaper office without him knowing where they were going. I was in Chicago and got the newspaper into my email. I saw the picture, read the article and knew I had to know him.

justin

One month later, on January 20, we spoke on the phone for the first time. From there, we spoke occasionally.

On April 14, 2006, we met at Towne West Mall in front of Dick’s Sporting Goods for the first time. I got there early and did a little shopping. He got there late, stinking. lol He had to work that day and worked disaster restoration at the time and wasn’t able to get off in time to go home and shower or change his clothes. I was so nervous! He walked out of Dick’s into the mall where I was waiting and hugged me.

From there, we had dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings, then walked along the river talking and finishing our first date in the Old Town square where we sat and talked and talked and talked. He made me feel so comfortable! There was nothing difficult about that first date. I’d venture to say that we both knew we would go somewhere long-term that first night.

My mom took this picture a few days later. I think it was the day that I left to go back to Chicago.

m&j 2006

Sara Groves, a Christian folk-style singer and songwriter, has always had a way of speaking directly to my heart. On my way back to Chicago after meeting Justin, I heard the song Every Minute on her newest CD at that time. It was the perfect song and described exactly how he made me feel!

Every Minute

By Sara Groves

I am long on staying • I am slow to leave • Especially when it comes to you my friend • You have taught me slow down • And to prop up my feet • It's the fine art of being who I am • • And I can't figure out • Why you want me around • I'm not the smartest person I have ever met • But somehow that doesn't matter • No it never really mattered to you at all • • And at the risk of wearing out my welcome • At the risk of self-discovery • I'll take every moment • And every minute that you'll give me • • And I can think of time when families all lived together • Four generations in one house • And the table was full of good food • And friends and neighbors • That's not how we like it now • • Cause if you sit at home you're a loser • Couldn't you find anything better to do • Well no I couldn't think of one thing • I would rather waste my time on than sitting here with you • • And at the risk of wearing out my welcome • At the risk of self-discovery • I'll take every moment • And every minute that you'll give me • • And I wish all the people I love the most • Could gather in one place • And know each other and love each other well • • And I wish we could all go camping • And lay beneath the stars • And have nothing to do and stories to tell • We'd sit around the campfire • And we'd make each other laugh remembering when • You're the first one I'm inviting • Always know that you're my friend • • And at the risk of wearing out my welcome • At the risk of self-discovery • I'll take every moment • And every minute that you'll give me • Every moment and every minute that you'll give me • Every moment and every minute that you'll give me • Every minute • •

Now, I think it was be fabulous to have a baby on that anniversary! :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pregnant Forever

This time last week, she felt so low and I felt so ready. I wasn’t sure I would make it through the week.

Right now, and really for the past several days, I feel like I’m about 32 weeks pregnant and could just keep going. It doesn’t feel near at all.

We are jokingly (kind of) shooting for Wednesday the 14th or Thursday the 22nd. The 14th is the anniversary of our first date and the 22nd is Earth Day. Either one would be cool. Of course, it has to be an even day. I’m weird about that. I like even birthdays. I think because mine is even. Migc’s is 100% even. Kristen’s is completely odd. Jaden’s is odd except for the year. Kara has the month and year even, so she needs to finish it out with an even numbered day too. I know, I’m weird.

We have decided to go back to the hospital that we had Jaden at instead of the birth center. I toured the birth center last week and really it looked like the birth room at the other place, just a little bigger, and it’s where you stay post partum too. We really liked the post partum rooms at the other place. They had queen-sized beds and entertainment center and there was no hospital looking stuff in there. Even the baby bed thing was off in the corner. At the birth center, Kara and I would be sleeping in the same bed that I delivered in and Justin would be sleeping on a couch. The attached “family room” was a tiny waiting room separated by a curtain. All of the hospital monitors and baby warmer and everything is still right there. That is not homey at all!

As for the actual birth, the last place was awesome and gave me no issues at all. I loved my nurse and am praying she’s there again! She had never seen a birth like mine but was 100% supportive.

As for what happens when labor starts, we have a couple of plans.

One is this: Early labor starts. Justin and Mandy gather things and children and drive to Wichita. We rent a room (or 2) at the a hotel. Mandy's mom will be there right away to help tend to Migc, Kristen and Jaden. Justin and Mandy will enjoy an easy, comfortable, nice time of early labor. Everyone is invited to come to the hotel at any time during this time. We hope to have some finger foods and hang out and maybe do a little swimming at the pool. When labor heats up, Justin, Mandy, Madison and Kristen will head to the hospital while the others continue to hang out at the hotel. Upon Kara's arrival, a call will be made to the hotel room and the rest of the family will come to join us in welcoming her. Mandy's mom will return to the hotel with Migc, Kristen and Jaden until we are released from the hospital.

The other is a little more interesting. My 4th grade teacher and friend emailed me a while back and asked if I’d thought about delivering here if there isn’t time to get to Wichita. At the time, I thought, eh, it’ll be fine because all 3 labors have been nearly identical and resemble the above a lot. She pointed out “what if my water broke”. Again, I thought, “no biggie”. Then I really thought about it and it started freaking me out! My first labor, my water broke and active labor started. He was born 2 1/2 hours later. For a first time natural labor, that is extremely quick. With my second, it broke while I was pushing and she was born with the next contraction. With the third, there was a sudden and uncontrollable urge to push and water and baby came together. it made me think that I certainly would not make it to gather the children and get to Wichita if my water were to spontaneously break. I probably would not even make it to the hospital here. So, I have shoe strings, scissors, towels and a bulb syringe. I will deliver here by myself (sounds crazy but I can do it! I know I can.) and will call paramedics immediately.

Honestly, neither scenario scares. I’d be perfectly fine if scenario 2 happened. It might actually be nicer than driving to Wichita. :)

Now, if I deliver in the car that will just suck! I’m not looking forward to that at all! Praying that scenario doesn’t happen!

OK, off to clean the boys’ room. I’m stalling.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Counting

Awwwww! I work with Jaden all the time on various things. He’s known ALL, and I mean all, of his animals sounds for a long time. He knows every body part on his little body. He knows a few colors. He knows the motions to Itsy Bitsy Spider, If You’re Happy and You Know It, and some of them to Wheels on the Bus.

I have been trying to get him to count “1, 2, 3” forever! I work with him almost daily. He just won’t do it. He will copy me, but will not do it himself at all.

Right now, he is sitting in his Spider Man chair watching Tom & Jerry (which he loves) with a book he’s flipping through. I just heard him, looking at the book, saying, “1 2 3”.

I’m so proud of him! I wonder if he does the ABCs while he’s in bed and I’m not around. He was the kid that would only roll over in his crib without anyone present for the longest time! He’s getting so big!

I have the car seat installed for Kara now and he is always pointing at it saying, “Baby. Baby.” Oh how is world is about to change! I’m going to miss being home with just him during the day. It’s always kind of scary adding another to mix. It feels like you’re taking away from the ones already here. I’m going to miss snuggling with just my lil man. *sigh*

007

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Gun Play

It’s interesting how when Migc was Jaden’s age, he wasn’t allowed to be anywhere near play guns. He didn’t have them as toys and wasn’t allowed to pretend them. My motto was “Guns hurt nice people.” In Chicago, in our lifestyle at the time, that was all he needed to know. Guns were spoken of in context of kids on the street getting shot.

Now, we’re in Kansas, where hunting is everywhere. Plus, I’m married to a military man that almost specializes in firing weapons. In fact, rarely in our house are they called guns, they are normally called weapons and in our house, the context that guns are used in is usually war.

Migc has a handful of nerf, cap and bb guns now but certainly never had them at Jaden’s age. Jaden walks around the house almost daily with one of the Migc’s gun saying, “p-que p-que”. The real kicker though is that I think it’s kinda cute.

Few Random Thoughts

I’ve discovered that rental duplex or not, I really like this place. No, I don’t want to live here forever, but for now, it’s simple. It’s easy, and I like it. We are all always on the same floor and share more family time. The kids play outside more and watch less tv. It’s easy to get the entire house picked up and kept clean daily. I’m enjoying the simple life. And,it’s very sunny. I’m going to enjoy that after Kara is born!

I’m feeling good today. It’s kind of been a rough week for me. I’ve felt very incredibly pregnant and moving seems to be a chore, but today, I don’t know, it’s not so bad. I got great sleep last night. The weather is a tad bit cooler today, which I think is helping. Yesterday felt miserably hot, but not hot enough to turn on the AC, so after house shopping, I was swollen and tired. Today is good day though.

36 weeks and counting! I’ve been putting together her clothes and blankets and getting stuff prepared. OK OK I’m digging the pink stuff. :) As long as there is no lace and it’s not frilly, I’m awwww-ing all over the place.

I think this will be our last. I’m really feeling like it’s time to focus on the ones we have. As much as I’ve enjoyed this pregnancy, I’m thinking I don’t really want to do this again. It really separates my time from those already here. I don’t feel on top of my mommy game, especially right now. I think I’m done dividing that time. I’m pretty sure 4 is enough for us.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Things Left to Do

This is my checklist of things I need to do within the next week. I am feeling the crunch – officially.

*Call Military One Source to find out where I’m delivering this child
*Put together a hospital bag
*Put together a list of things needed for everyone else for the couple of days away from the house
*Fill out the hospital admissions stuff and make a folder with it and several copies of the Birth Plan
*Put together an emergency delivery bag in case we don’t make it to Wichita
*Get the new purchases laundered
*Buy the bassinet & this very cute stuffed animal that I saw today
*Work on knitting baby legs
*Return Kate the doula's call

I bought some blankets and little stuff today and now I really feel like I’m having a girl. :) It’s funny because everything I bought is very pink and very girlie, but somehow it doesn’t feel too much for me. I don’t know. It’s cute!!! I’m excited to meet her! I’ll be checking off my list this week, so this entry will be edited!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Week 35

We had Kara’s sonogram last week to make sure the placenta cooperated and moved up and sure thing, we’re SAFE! And sure thing, she is definitely a she. Funny, none of the pictures were very good, except the one of girl parts and there is no denying!

I know I said in my last post that I felt like she was going to be late, but yeah, I’m not sure about that. Today actually felt like the day may be approaching within the next month. God knows! I just feel a little more pressure than I have been lately and I had a few intense braxton hicks this evening.

She has gotten really active lately too and is quite the mover and shaker. She also has a head full of hair according to the sono, and her size is right on track.

I’m pretty much ready for her. I have lots of newborn clothes – plenty really and I have girly diapers and socks. I need to pick up a few girlie blankets. I can’t stomach the ones at Wal-Mart. They are just too…pink for me. Pink is ok, if you mix in some brown or blue or anything other than purple. I’m hoping I find some better ones at Target. I also need to pick up a new bassinet, swing and diaper bag. I suppose I’ll do that next week or the week after. Craigslist here sucks! I looked at some diaper bags on etsy today that were pretty cool. I’m thinking I will probably need a real diaper bag just because I’m sure we’ll be making more trips with Kara than we did with Jaden. I also have some baby legs I’d like to finish knitting too, but I just don’t know if I’ll get those done.

There is lots of talk about what/who she will look like and what we are hoping for. Of course, she’ll be amazing no matter what, but Justin and I are hoping for either brown hair/blue eyes or blonde hair/brown eyes. I’m sure when she’s born, she’ll have dark hair though regardless of how it ends up. Jaden did and it turned blonde. It’s crazy that the more children I have, the more I realize the possibilities when it comes to physical features and personalities.

It’s all going to be exciting, that’s for sure!

The Condensed Version

I’ve started a few mother load updates, but cannot seem to get them finished. Too much happened too quickly, so here is an email that I sent to friend that felt left out of loop. Sadly, pretty much everyone was left out the loop because there was just no time. So, here is a condensed version of our last few weeks.

We are living a little over an hour north of Wichita. Justin got a full-time military job doing pre-mob training - right before troops deploy they go to their mob station for a short amount of time & right before that, they go through pre-mob training, which includes everything from learning the culture of where they are going, how to spot IEDs & what to do if your gunner truck rolls over, etc. Justin is 1 of, I think, about 10 guys that do the training in this region. He *loves* it! His hours are crazy. When they have troops on the ground, he is gone all day and pretty much night too. When they are between troops, he's home a lot. Right now, they are between troops so I get to see him quite a bit & they get lots of days off. The next group coming is supposed to be pretty big and he won't even be doing his training here, and it's supposed to last like 45 days...right through Kara's birth. So, I'm over 2 hours from our family and about to have my 4th child without my husband. Sounds fun, huh? He says he'll make it for the birth, but anything else is a crap shoot.


We've been here about a week & a half. Schools were on Spring Break last week, so the kids just started. They love it. It is a nice town. It has about 50k people and is a mini-Wichita. We really like it so far!

We found out on a Thursday that he got the job & had to report to on Monday morning. We rented our house in Wichita & found a duplex just a few blocks from where Justin works and were moved completely within 2 weeks. Justin had troops on the ground and didn't get back for any part of the move whatsoever. It was very, very stressful & I'm glad to have it behind me! The duplex is nice and nice sized. We signed a 6-month lease so that we would have time to learn the area & find a house that we really like. The pay for this job is great, so we have a little more to work with this time and we want to take our time. God has just opened one door after another & we couldn't deny it! It's been crazy but not a really hard transition for any of us. The moving & the 1st week were very hard for me, but now it's all fitting together & I'm doing a lot better!


And yes, I'm feeling very pregnant. This pregnancy has been soooooo easy & even during the moving stuff, I would have to remind myself not to do things because I was so pregnant. Other than the emotions, it didn't really seem to effect me much. Just think about being 32 and 33 weeks pregnant with 3 other kids, no help from your husband or family or friends & packing & coordinating the entire move of your household to another city within 2 weeks, including utilities, schools, etc. and preparing to have tenants in your home! Thankfully, we did have lots of amazing help for the actual move! Now though, I think God was saving the big pregnancy part for after the move. I'm 35 weeks and I feel huge & she feels big finally & I'm becoming more & more aware that I have a very short amount of time to get everything put together for her arrival! I've reached the huge part now, but she hasn't dropped at all! She is still very high and I feel like she's going to be late, but we'll see. :)

There we go. Now, maybe I can move on to more fun stuff that I think about posting here and there and don’t do because this part was left undone.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

At some point, I'll update with all the current happenings. (!) That will have to come at a point in time when I have more than 3 minutes and am thinking clearly though. For right now, it's random facebook updates and that's all I've got!

I did start an update several days ago, but it has not been completed nor do I remember what in the heck I wrote about!

New job. New home. New life.

...coming soon!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lessons in Fatherhood

Sometimes, I’m caught off guard by Justin’s openness to Migc and Kristen. I know, there are men that do it all the time, and women too, but he is exceptional to me. The depth of his love for them brings me to a stand-still sometimes.

Last night, in the ER, I had one of those moments. I handed over our medical insurance card and the woman asked if Justin was dad to Migc. I said, “yes, well stepdad.” She said, “He’s dad to me.” He is. Their father carries insurance on them, but he has always played games with it and I’ve never used it. Since it was court-ordered, I’ve never used it. In fact, I don’t even have an insurance card because he doesn’t provide one, though I know he carries insurance because the order was sent to his employer. Justin not only carries them on his insurance, he pays 100% of all medical bills not paid by insurance. Again, their dad is supposed to pay 50%, but he doesn’t. He refuses to. Since we’ve lived here, he’s never paid one. Justin doesn’t do it because he has to. He doesn’t do it because it’s court ordered or because I ask him to or for any reason other than because they are his children and that’s what you do for your children. He has never thought twice about whether difference in blood should determine what he does or doesn’t do.

I’ve talked also about him being put on 2nd shift at work. Immediately, when that happened he began seeking a new job. On 2nd shift, he still gets to see Jaden and I during the day. He will get to see Kara too. With the shift change, he gets one hour in the morning with Migc and Kristen and maybe weekends, if he’s not required to work. He cannot handle that. He can’t even handle the thought of it. He has to see them. It kills him that he can’t. He’s willing to change jobs and relocate his family for the major purpose of being able to spend the time he wants to spend with Migc and Kristen. Their father works average jobs in Chicago. He could work the exact same jobs here in Wichita. He has no family, no ties to Chicago whatsoever, yet is unwilling to relocate just himself in order to see them. Blood doesn’t mean a thing!

Then two nights ago, we were talking about this delivery and if the placenta is still too low-lying to have a vaginal birth. I told Justin that we would have an unassisted homebirth, where I would hemorrhage and die before I would have a c-section. I was kidding and he knew it, but still, he looked at me and said, “No you won’t because remember, if you die, I don’t just lose you. I lose Migc and Kristen too, and I can’t do that.” As strange as it may seem, that thought plagues Justin and I. It’s true. They would go to the dad that doesn’t care for them and love them the way Justin does, and he would never allow Justin to be a part of their life. That thought is an ever-present fear of Justin’s.

He had a good example in his own dad, but that doesn’t keep me from being stopped in my tracks sometimes and amazed that a man can be so capable of loving children not his own. There is no depth he wouldn’t go for them and no mountain he wouldn’t climb. That’s what being a dad is!

030

What a Day!

My body still hurts.

Yesterday, I volunteered at the kids’ school for picture day. This is the second time I’ve done it this year. The first one was hard work, but yesterday was even harder. Thirty weeks pregnant, walking with a purpose to a class, getting them lined up in height order, leading them down the hall, organizing their paperwork, dividing them into their given line, then heading to get the next class was much more tiring than it sounds like here. I did that for 24 classes and it took more than 5 hours. I had a ten minute break and never got a chance to eat.

I picked Jaden up from the neighbor, came home, sat on the couch and fell asleep for a few minutes until Jaden came to show me that he had written with a pen all over his hand. I could barely move my body hurt so bad. I don’t know how some women work on their on feet throughout their entire pregnancy.

Justin called with some awesome, life-changing news…that I’m not releasing yet. :)

I walked to pick up the kids from school, walked a neighbor girl home and sat outside to watch Jaden and a bunch of neighborhood kids play. That boy loves the mud!!! I sat at the neighbors how and chatted for a little bit until about 5:45pm when I decided to get the kids home to feed them. I walked outside and could hear Migc crying very loudly. I found him in a driveway across the street with a bloodied knee and lots of pain. I got him home, cleaned up and online with his dad at 6 (I forgot it was that day!). I gave him an ice pack and told him we’d see how it was when he got offline.

The kids all wanted to eat MREs. I know, it’s weird, but they like them. Justin brings them home sometimes and the kids like to pick their own meal and see what all other things are in the packages. I started getting all of that put together and hurting all the way. Jaden was into one thing after another and Justin was on his way home.

After Migc and Kristen got offline, I got them hooked up on their food, tried to defuse Jaden, started calling the doctor, then there were all of these really little things that just could not stay like they were, like peanuts that Jaden had thrown all over the living room and dining room that could not stay there, but my body hurt and there were 10 other similar things that needed done. I sucked it, and started on all of those little things.

Jaden normally bathes at 7. It was well after that before I got him in the bath. In the meantime, I’m paging the doctor every 15 minutes about Migc’s knee with no response. Justin gets home right as I’m getting Jaden out of the bath. I’ve managed to get a lot of things picked up but not everything. We were waaaaaay behind in the things that needed done. I was helping Kristen get her hair tied up so that it wouldn’t get wet while in the shower, while Jaden kept trying to grab a sleeve of crackers and fling it all over my room. Justin was trying to talk to me. I was keeping an ear open for the phone. Jaden did it once, I told him to wait. About 45 seconds later, he did again. I raised my voice at him. Justin got upset that I was raising my voice and took him from me and raised his voice at me and took off. I sat down and cried so hard for a good 15 minutes. I just couldn’t stop the tears.

Then I got up, still crying, and went back to work on all of the things that need done and continued to call the doctor. Justin played Wii with Jaden, then took him to read books before bed. I finally talked to the doctor and decided to take Migc in to the ER. Jaden went to bed and we left about 9pm. Two and a half hours later, he has a bruised knee and is fine.

I’m happy to have that day behind me. My body feels better but is still sore. Migc is still in bed. I need to finish this and go change the baby’s diaper.

Highlight of the story, very good, life-changing stuff is happening soon and my husband is really amazing for the sacrifices he makes, especially for children that are not even his own blood. He’s an amazing dad!!!!