A year ago this morning...

I've been MIA lately because I'm working on something amazing and I am so excited to share it!  Lots of you have seen my store site: http://diapersolutions.org  I'm also working on a 13 week class curriculum to teach young girls about childbirth, nursing, baby wearing, cloth diapering and general parenting.  I'll bring details over here now and again, but it's taking just about every spare moment right now, so I don't have a whole lot of time for recreational writing.  I have something on my mind today, though.

A year ago this morning I got up before the kids, as usual.  It was a Sunday and Allan was already at church since he is the sound guy.  A small voice in my heart nudged me to take a pregnancy test, since it had been over a month since I stopped nursing our son and still no period. 

Allan had been scheduled for a vasectomy in May and even after days on the phone with all the necessary people and having all our ducks in a row, when we got to the clinic to have the procedure, they turned us away citing insurance problems.  The next available date was not until August.  We kinda knew then what was coming, but we prevented and *I* truly did not want anymore children.  I did not think it was possible for my heart to hold anymore children.

So I peed on that stick and, of course, saw a second line.  I am not ashamed to tell you that I was shaking and shed some tears.  I put my head in my hands and asked God WHAT WAS I GOING TO DO!?  The house is already chaos, I am not a good mother to the children I have...the littany of negativity was oppressive.  I heard Him say, "be still.  and know that I am God." 

I scrambled to my phone.  I needed Allan to be home RIGHT.NOW.  I was terrified of what he'd think.  Would he be angry, would he become depressed?  He hadn't even expected to have 1 more child after Rhiya, let alone FOUR.  He was being generous by allowing me 3 kids, but surely this would be too much.  I dialed his number and pressed call.  Then I heard a familiar ring downstairs.  Of course...Allan had left his phone at home.  He does every Sunday.

So I came downstairs with the pee stick in hand and sat at the chair in front of the computer and cried some more, wondering how I would get Allan home so we could talk before church.  The kids were all three upstairs, asleep.  I thanked God for that, since I was a wreck.  I really could not figure out how this was going to pan out.  Even though it shouldn't have, this caught me so off guard.

It dawned on me to call someone who would also be at church with him, so I mentally went through the list of band members and decided Beth would be the most respectful of my need and the most likely to not talk about the call after Allan left.  I called her phone and prayed that she would pick up.  She did and I tried so hard to sound brave, but my voice broke as soon as I started to talk.  I asked her to please tell Allan I needed him home now.  She asked if everything was okay and I told her "it will be.  I just need Allan."  She relayed the message and hung up and I waited for 5 minutes with baited breath.  I was sure he'd be angry and yell.  I can only attribute my apprehension to the devil playing mind games with me.  My husband has never, EVER been upset when I've announced a pregnancy, not even the first time when I pulled him away from a family reunion and changed all his plans.

He walked in the door and I was still sitting in my chair in the kitchen.  The stick was long dry and sitting on the keyboard table in front of me, with its two lines blazing pink back at me.  He was noticeably concerned, wondering if something had happened.  Was I hurt?  Were the kids okay?  yes...yes...everything is alright.  I handed him the stick and cringed, like he might throw it at me and he looked at it, seemed relieved and asked what was wrong.

I broke into sobs and blurted "WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO!?"  He seemed surprised by my outburst and I will never forget what he did next.

He smiled a broad smile, opened his arms to me and said, "I guess this means I have to be nice to you now."  And I laughed through my tears.  And my heart opened up.  And my life changed.  And now I wish I had that moment back and that baby and a half a dozen other babies.

I am so grateful for my loving husband, who breaks down all my barriers and surprises me daily.  I am so grateful for my loving God, who gives me good gifts I am not entitled to and even when I might not go on, reminds me that He is there to comfort me.  I am so grateful for each baby that has graced the inside of my womb...all 5 of them! even if only for a little while.  The doctors told me I would probably not even have one and knowing that I've carried FIVE is a huge testament to me of how big my God is.  I am so grateful for this place He has brought me to.  Right here.  Right now.



Today our sweet girl turned 7.  Where does the time go??  I didn't have a lot of time to plan a party this year, so we told her that we would just take her to Build-a-Bear and Justice to pick out an outfit and that would be her birthday party.  She was good with that, but didn't know we had a small surprise waiting.
First stop was the mall to Build-a-Bear.

Or in this case, a bunny.

Vi took one off the shelf already stuffed and we had to let her carry it around with her and pretend it was hers.  We didn't need any melt-downs until afterward.

Then we all kissed the heart and sang happy birthday to it.

Note the bears above Allan's head.  CUTE!

The girls washed and blow dried their animals.
Little man tried on the bears' duds...

...while big sister put her bunny's new duds on.

And she even got spoiled with the birthday cupcake especially for BAB.

And then we had the staff embarrass the crud out of her by gathering the whole store around and singing to her.  We had 2 other birthday kids in there while we were there, too.  June 15 is an awesome day to have a birthday!

While we were at Build-a-Bear, my battery light started blinking, so I had to choose the absolute best moments for a picture.  Here they are:
Since we told her she wasn't getting a party, we got a cookie at a bakery instead and shoved a candle in it and sang happy birthday again.  She loved her cookie and so did the little ones!

And then we went to Justice, where I thought she might be able to get a SHIRT with her $30 g/c, but everything she wanted was on sale, so she scored a shirt (complete with horse...as requested!) and pair of jammie pants, a cupcake pillow for birthday guests to sign, (unplanned, but worked out VERY well!) and a necklace with a couple of magnetic charms.  Since I got off scott free there (thank you Aunt Trish!) I got the kids a Jamba Juice to share. 

For dinner, "Chinese food" was requested.  I put that in quotation marks because her idea of Chinese is white rice, sweet & sour chicken without the sauce and little Chinese donuts.  HA!  But it made her very happy.  Then we had to get stealthy and head on over to church.

The kids went out to do their summer play-time thing and Livia and I got busy decorating for the horse party that was originally requested.  It was spur of the moment, but Livia made it look fantastic!  We have the neatest group of people at our church.  The kids usually have devotional after play-time, but tonight they came in and SURPRISED my girl.
She hid in that bucket when they first came in and everyone yelled SURPRISE! but she was so excited.
Everyone lined up around her and sang and it was great.  I couldn't have done any better if I had planned it in advance.

Can you see the cake?  I laughed when I went to order it because the horse is a Build-a-Bear horse.  I assure you, that irony did not escape the 7-year-old.
See the adorable table settings?  Livia has serious talent :)  She made it all up with stuff we had laying around the church, as usual.

And her balloon bouquet.  And that's all the pictures I got, but during the time everyone was eating cake and ice cream, my sweet girl ran up to me and gave me HUGE hugs about 5 times and kept saying "Thank you SO MUCH, Mommy!"  And she finally told me at the end of the night "This was the BEST birthday EVER!"  I've heard that every year she's been able to talk and I pray I keep hearing it every year from now on.

We love you, Gracie-Rayne.  You make our lives interesting and keep us laughing!  Thank you for your joy and your heart and your amazing ways of looking at life. <3


Dog Woes

Do you have pets?  What is your favorite kind of pet?  For me...ducks are my all-time favorite.  They're easy, they're hilariously entertaining, they don't need me to give them their sense of identity.  Second favorite is cats.  Cats are a step above ducks because they sit in your lap and purr and let you pet them, but they're a step down because they crap in a box I have to clean up. 

But lots of people are "dog people."  Hubbs included.  I never have been...not ever.  I see the benefits, I do!  They can be cute, they certainly offer a high level of companionship (I call it being up my arse, but whatev) they can be trained to keep watch of the house or to do awesome things like herd sheep or cattle or save little boys from the well.

Despite all the amazingness dogs can offer, I have done well to keep far, far away from the desire for one.  Sure, the *idea* of a family dog appealed to me from time to time, but I never let the idea lead to desire.  But even an icy heart like mine can be softened...enter a lost baby and an inability to "replace" that baby and when my eldest CRIED tears as we left the WalMart parking lot in Arkansas without a puppy, I choked up and I asked Hubbs to turn back for that sweet, calm white puppy.

Then there were the vet bills-which amounted to about as much as we spend on gas in a month because he was eaten up with fleas and worms and needed shots out the wazoo.

Then it was too cold outside for him (he was not allowed inside full-time until he was trained to stay out from under Hubbs prosthesis.  It is better for the dog this way, I promise) and we had to buy a dog house.

Then it thawed and his poop turned our oasis of a backyard into a mine field of funk.

Then the humping and the next ginormous vet bill of having him neutered.

Then the digging holes in the yard, which led to spankings, nose rubbings and a general dislike on Hubbs part.

Then the chewing of EVERYTHING.
Which led to me feeling bad and asking for 6 weeks, while I took the dog to training (another massive expense we really didn't need) to whip him into a Lassie.  But here we are...5 weeks later...
Why yes...that *is* the insulation they JUST blew in with the new gas pipes.  That's just the latest in Johnny's insulation eating career...he's also eaten the insulation to the water pipes in the guest house (which caused the pipes to freeze) and the insulation off of the a/c units outside.  And yes...he has MANY chew toys.  I've spent a small fortune on dog toys.

What is your breaking point?  At what point do you say, "it's over, dog.  You must find a new place to live."  Is it after he runs away 2x in one week?  Is it after he snaps at your husband or herds your children by nipping their ankles and wrists?  Is it when he eats your kids' toys?

Nah...I prayed through all of those things.  I've begged and pleaded with God to give me compassion and love for Johnny.  He has come through with flying colors (of course!).  He has heaped it on me and despite my serious irritation with Johnny over the last 9 months, I've always bounced back, determined to "make it work."  I've rationalized and conceded and spent way more money on that dog than I've even spent on myself.

But I can't rationalize this:

Note the giant hole and the mud streaks.
That one is completely unsalvageable because, near as I can tell, Johnny ATE the piece of fabric that belongs in that hole.  It's nowhere.  Not in the yard, not in his house, nowhere.
This one I stitched back, oh yes I did. 

See the stitching?  I used a brown thread because it's what I had and I needed to fix it so I could stop crying over it.

It would be different if it were the first time.  Or the second time.  It'd be different if we hadn't been specifically training him to NOT do this for the last 3 weeks.  It'd be different if he didn't destroy things I can't replace.

So here I am-left feeling guilty and awful because every dog-lover's criticism I've ever heard is playing in my head OVER and OVER.  Rhiya's plea that we "CAN'T get rid of THIS ONE."  Pat's considering him such a family member that she included him in her Christmas letter for GOODNESS SAKES!  Gracie-Rayne's tears when he ran away last week, Vi's smile when the dumb dog comes in the house.  And mostly...Little Man.  Johnny is the brother Little Man should have.  They wrestle and play and do things that boys do together.  And it breaks me.  And maybe that's what I'm *really* crying about. 

I feel like I'm losing another dream and it sucks.  Something inside me is begging, "just wait until he's a year old.  Just wait a few more weeks.  But I don't know if I can handle losing more to this dog.  He's eaten the straps out of Little Man's swing, he's chewed the mirrors off of the power wheel, he got into our garage and ate my stockpile.  He's run the grass down and killed my flowers.  ARGH!

This is getting an abrupt stop right now.  I'm not sure what else I can say. 


What a weekend!

What do you mean it's only just begun?  The last couple days have been SO busy my brain is just totally fried right now.  On the PRAISE GOD front, the plumbers finished up giving us all new gas pipes yesterday.  We were a week without hot water, but now we're back up and running.  All things considered, we didn't get very far behind.  Like I said before, we actually really enjoyed handwashing the dishes and the diapers with hot water from the coffee pot.  There is something very calming about doing what you have to do.  Of course, now that I've been able to use my dishwasher and my washing machine for the diapers, I've been extra sure to shoot up thanks over and over for how blessed our lives are.  Here's how the house looked for a few days:
Keepin' muh boy outta there?  Not fun.

We were really a little nervous about the bill, but he had given us a slight fore-warning and God pressed on someone's heart to help us (I would love to get into details, but I won't for our angels' sakes...if they give permission I will tell the story publicly) so we were mostly just praying that it wouldn't be more than the amount he quoted us.  We braced ourselves, though, because the workers were here an extra day and had to replace all the upstairs piping, too.  They didn't think they would have to.  So suffice it to say, as the supervisor came up my walk this morning, my spirit was a little oppressed.  But he handed me the bill and it was $50 less than what he had quoted me!  PRAISE GOD!

Everything was put together again just in the knick of time because this weekend is the annual historic district garage sale in our town.  We usually go all out (I used to coupon and would have tons of stockpile stuff to sell with my friend Amy) but this year we toned it down.  I set up today, but only with the leftover bows from our Haiti fundraiser and the cupcakes in a jar I'm making to sell at Farmer's Market tomorrow, too.  All the money raised will go to send the 3rd missionary to Haiti.  I updated the ticker above and will update it again after tomorrow.
These are the S'more flavor with marshmallows rolled in cinnamon, graham crackers and the cupcake crumbs.
I made S'more, Mocha-ccino and Lemonade Angel Cake this time.  If they sell well this weekend, I'll make other flavors later on. 
And then of course there's the usual busy-ness of Saturdays with taking the dog to training.  Gracie-Rayne is ever the lucky one and gets to go to Hawaiian Falls with the other kids from church because she volunteered to help with a banquet earlier in the year.  She is super stoked.  We also plan to drop off about 4 huge boxes of books to Hastings to see if we can sell them.  As usual we're on a mission to down-size even more.  Someday we'll have a house with nothing in it but beds. (and diapers...LOTS of diapers.  HA!)

I had a great laugh today when Vi and little man were running into the kitchen begging for bites of cold turkey.  Violet took a bite and said, "DUH-LISH-US!"  Most of the time when she speaks you have to be *really* listening to her to understand.  She is incredibly intelligent and understands everything you say, right down to inflection...she even uses phrases you'd never imagine would come out of a 3-year-old's mouth, but she mumbles a lot.  Lately, though, she's been popping up with words that sound more like they came out of the 6-year-old's mouth, and you can't help but smile when you turn around and realize who it was.  Anyway, she said it so much (I was getting her to say it so Hubbs could hear!) that little man started saying "ISH-USH"  (Cue: AWWWWW!)  It was so sweet!
They light up my life!

Unfortunately I don't have anything amazingly witty or insightful tonight.  Like my mom would say, "not everything has to be dramatic."  I do have a couple more pictures to share, though, because he's just about the most precious creature on planet earth.  (Just about...we have 3 others)
We might have problems with this kid one day...WOO-HEE!

For the record, the t-shirt slung around his shoulders was totally his own idea.  That's  his idea of fashion.

 See the eye shape??  That is ALL Maynard.  None of my kids have ANYTHING of mine (uhhh....except my witty charm) except Corbin who is 99.9% Daddy--BUT THAT EYE SHAPE!  Oh yeah!  I snuck something in there somewhere.  I bet when we get to heaven and meet those 2 babies we lost, they will look just like their Momma.  But if not, that's okay, cuz they come out pretty darned precious lookin' like Hubbs ;)


Wordless Wednesday

I've never participated in one of these before.  Here goes: