Thursday, May 14, 2015

St. George Island, FL

I told you we have fun(ish) times and it's true. Right before Abe's hospital stay, we got to enjoy a week long beach vacay with friends we met at church. We have kiddos the same age and we thought, "Wouldn't it be great to all live in a house together for a week? The kids will play and it will be fun!" At least that was our pep talk to each other when positivity was flowing. The other part of the time we were wondering what in the world we were all thinking. Brave, we are. We set off on a journey to St. George Island, FL and didn't look back. 
So glad we did it! We made some great memories and even though we were outnumbered by the kids, I think we had some fun, too.
Do you know how awesome it is to wake up and be able to exercise and study the bible with one of your best friends? Pretty awesome. She has great insight into the Word of God and is one of those people you can just talk to about anything. It was so nice to have so much girl time first thing in the a.m. As you can see, we are often wayyyyy outnumbered by little boys.
And the kids weren't too bad. Sure, they refused to sleep at times. They pitched two year old tantrums. They interrupted our beach layin', book reading, nap taking mornings, but who needs those? Chasing babies is nearly as fun. ;) They played and played and let the sun drain them.

We caught fish.
We dated.

Abel heard the ocean for the first time despite living there for a big chunk of his life.
It was great, really! Beats the heck out of the hospital any ole day.



Monday, May 11, 2015

9 Months


All throughout my pregnancy with Kinley and into his first full year of life, I wrote him monthly letters. In them I described what was new, how I felt about him, and all of those sweet little things you might find in a baby book. At the end of the year, I printed them in a book, each with a corresponding monthly picture of him with the numbered stickers that everyone does. I was on top of it! Abel made his way into the world about fifteen months after Kinley, but still I made a point to write during his first year and snap those photos, too. I think I only missed one month writing him, but I did have the photos! Enter Merit. The poor third baby. I think I have months 1-4 photos and maybe, I don't know, two letters. Whoops. I hope he'll forgive me.
This month marks nine with him attached to my hip instead of the umbilical cord. I can hardly believe it. It has been the hardest year I've ever had but it has nothing to do with him. He is the most delightful child. I put him down and he sleeps. I smile at him and he laughs. I switch up his routine? No problem. He rolls with the punches. Sweet, sweet baby. If they were all like him, I'd have a dozen more.
He doesn't crawl. He sits, leeeaaans, and reaches but hasn't braved the all fours position. I'm not surprised. All my boys have been late crawlers (according to Drs standards) and walkers. Typically, they only crawl for 3 weeks or so and then they're all about their big boy status with walking. I mourn in silence that I actually have to have shoes for them then. I already dread thinking about finding three sets of little boy shoes every single time I walk out the door. I'm pretty sure I spend 72% of my day putting shoes back on all those little feet. I digress. We were talking about Merit, weren't we? What else can I share?
His brothers are so good with him. They are quick to entertain him when he gets bored and starts to fuss. They'll search for pacis, do a little dance, or even share their toys just to see him smile again. It's that bright. You can't look at a smiling Merit and not feel happy. His attitude is infectious. When I walk into the room, his whole upper half starts shaking violently and his arms flail about as if he's having a conniption and must, must, MUST be in my arms. I love it. Truthfully, he'll do that with about anyone, but I'm the only one he actually reaches to so at least I have that.
Merit has said: mama, dada, and hi. That is for sure the earliest any of my kids have uttered words. I think he only said them so I would quit getting his hearing tested every 3.7 seconds. 
I love him so. He's my breath of fresh air every day and I'm so glad I'm not waddling around this May waiting to be able to hold him in my arms. I can just go scoop him up almost any time I want and I'm doing just that. I'm trying so hard to savor this time. His little life has flown by and my heart feels so strange when I see newborn photos of him now. It just doesn't seem possible since that was just yesterday, I'm sure of it!

More Rain

I hate that this blog has become my dumping place for all the lowly emotions. We have happy times. Lots of them. I'm just too busy savoring the good to make a point to write during them. There have been highs and lows since I last wrote. To catch you up (in case we're not facebook friends), Abel was discovered to have a bacteria growing inside his middle ear and around his cochlear implants. Oral antibiotics were not touching it so they admitted him to clean out his ear and put him on IV antibiotics for awhile in the hospital. The surgery was nearly five hours long, but the surgeon came out smiling saying he thought he got it all and was able to salvage the implant. We continued to get good news after we were released from the hospital early thanks to Infectious Disease (ID) who said the infection appeared to be gone. They cultured from every angle and nothing was growing on the results.

This morning I was planning to get the boys out and do something fun. They all deserve a little fun. My phone rang and my heart dropped as I saw the 615 area code. Always bad news from Nashville, it seems. On the other line, the surgeon told me an update. They found two bacteria growing now which means more medicine. I truly thought, prayed, and believed that this was behind us and it's not. It's so upsetting. I wish I could take it from him. I'd gladly take disgusting medicine several times a day, spend much of my life in the car or at some office, and have my head operated on more times than I have fingers if it meant that I could shield him from it. I just feel so helpless in all of this. I've followed medical advice. I've followed spiritual advice. I can't do anything to help him.
When it rains, it pours. The rain just keeps coming. It's soaking my boys, me, and my marriage. I am so tired. This brief period of a few days was an umbrella shielding us from the cold and wet of the storm, but that's gone now, too and I'm left standing alone in the rain again. I know God is with me, with us. But that doesn't change the fact that I just want all the rain to stop.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Keeping Up With Us

Did I really just google "blog topic ideas"? Are we back to that? Who remembers that I blogged DAILY on my previous blog site? The pull to write is there always, but mustering the creativity to form sentences and paragraphs and remember to properly punctuate is daunting now. I go, go, go all day long and the last thing I ever want to do is sit down in an old, hard chair and talk about my day to an over-sized screen that is blinding me in the darkness of the room. Just so you know, when I googled that earlier one of the warnings that popped up was "Whatever you do, don't whine and complain." Note taken. For now anyway.
Jordan has been gone a lot lately with his new job. Mostly, his hours are longer, but lately he has had business trips to take. When he is here, we've tried to make the most of it! With three young children, it's sometimes hard to make yourself get out there and take them places. Thinking of activities that are usually fun just seem like more work in your head. Still, if it makes enough sense to us- we'll do it! We did once go camping with two toddlers and a newborn! Anyway, we played putt-putt last weekend and I had my best game EVER. Pretty thrilling in my world, folks.
We are settling in in our new town. It's good to be home and it will be even better once we are in a home of our own again. Our marriage sure has been through a lot, hasn't it? In five years, we've had more than five houses, three kids, and hardships we never dreamed of. Moving is often listed as one of the major stressors and we average a move a year. We are so excited that one day that will stop. Hopefully, our next house will be our forever home. I'm still happy to be doing life with this man:
We have our flaws, for sure, but at the end of the day I want him right here beside me and I hate to have it any other way. He's my lobster.

I've talked a lot about Abel lately and have neglected the other two wild ones on this blog. Kinley is doing well. He has always been a challenging tot. On my last blog, he was lovingly referred to as Cray K. Not much has changed there. Being three is hard, apparently. BUT! I often get glimpses into his heart and he can be so sweet, encouraging, and joyful. Many times when I pick him up from places like the gym childcare, he says to me, "I'm so happy to see you, Mom." He no longer calls me "Money". My big boy is growing up. He still says some things all wrong and I'll probably never correct him. He calls his bicycle his "mo-bike" (Motor bike?) and our car has the long name of  the "bye bye car truck". I wonder what goes through his head. He can be so funny!

Merit is getting big, too. I can't believe my baby is already eight months. Everyone says that, don't they? But seriously. It breaks my heart. He is so happy! I want to keep him and hold him and not let him grow up. It seems like his little life is slipping by faster than the others. It seems like just yesterday I was pregnant with him. Now, he's a sitting, drooling, talking, smiling eight month old. I love him to pieces. He's a social butterfly, too.

We are making it, the five of us. It's just about getting up every day and doing what we have to do. Some days are so hard, but there are so many that are pretty great, too. We're trying to cling to our faith and family. That's what we've been up to. We're eager to see what else God has in store for us.

Thanks for checking in.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

HOW I AM

I once had a class as an undergrad. Sociology, I think. Anyway, in it, the professor challenged us with little tasks to do as extra credit. We simply had to have someone record us doing faux pas activities in public. For example, when someone asks you how your day is in line at Walmart, tell them-really tell them. If you asked me that, I might talk for hours if you'd let me because it's just nice to speak to someone who can carry on a conversation that doesn't include, "But why?" every thirty three seconds. Digressing, I'd tell you that I'm tired. My eyes are heavy from the lack of sleep I'm getting. Let's not forget about emotional tiredness, too. I'm that. I'm that always. I'm not sure if it's my personality that makes me ponder all the things or if it's because I'm a woman that I have an innate need to go through every possible scenario in my mind of what could happen. I'm talking about Abel right now. The kid gives me wrinkles. He's adorably sweet when he kisses both cheeks and reaches for me as if no one in the world will do. But raising a deaf child is really hard for me. Today, I went to look at a preschool in hopes of getting him enrolled in a summer program. That's what I'm told is going to be best for Abel and I think I agree. He loved going to "school" in our last town and I know he cared for his teachers very much. He thrived from being in a social situation with mostly hearing kids and it created more of a routine for him which I think he finds comfort in. It has been months since he has been and the clinging cries of a child who doesn't want to be away from the one person he can communicate verbally and non-verbally with have come back every time I'm going to leave his eye sight. I stepped into the director's office and he immediately started crying. I knew he didn't want me to leave. I tried explaining that I wasn't leaving, but it didn't matter. He was already in panic mode. The teensy bit of time I had in my schedule to fill out paperwork and talk was gone. The lady wouldn't talk to me even though I explained we should just take the tour so we can walk around, get him used to a new environment, and let him see that I'm not leaving him. I know my child like the back of my hand. I feel like I can't leave him with these people who don't. I don't want to leave him with people who don't love him, who might get frustrated with his circumstances. I see every single stare. I feel all your judgement when he's throwing a fit, ya know. And it's crappy. Sometimes I feel as if I don't give him enough slack. This child has been through the wringer in the last six months. He's still persevering. He has had a nearly constant ear infection in that time. He has been on meds and off them. He gained a sibling. He gave up his paci. He had surgeries. He had to move homes. He had to leave babysitters and teachers and therapists. His world is upside down. Recently I learned he has a pretty serious infection. One in which he needs a medicine that isn't FDA approved. This isn't the first time they've talked about having to take the implant out. I'm sick when I think about. Physically nauseous. Highly emotional. So, I'm exhausted. Every day. That's how I am.

Up to my chin in medical bills. Lonely. Overwhelmed. And scared.

And trying to trust God through all of this.

I know He'll provide. I know He will restore Abel's health. I also know I'm not truly alone in this. He hears my prayers. He sees every tear I shed. Lo, I am with you always (Matthew 28:20).


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Kids, man.

Kids, man. They'll kill ya. At least it feels like that tonight.

This morning I listened as my girlfriend told me, "You know, when you're pregnant, you wait for the day that the little person will call you 'Mommy' and then a few years later when you hear it yelled in the car, in the house, on the way into the store...you get to the point where you hate it." She laughed as she
said it, but I knew what she meant. It's so hard when you stay home with your children 24/7. There's no break.

The move has been hard, too. Each move we've done gets progressively more difficult, even though each time we've moved the distance gets smaller and smaller. We're finally home, but because we have three children now who were very much accustomed to their schedules in Cleveland, it has been difficult to find a groove here this week. We are staying at a home my parents own. It is a two bedroom. The oldest two are learning to share a room and that has been awful to put it nicely. I guess I didn't come here to complain, though. I have a glass of wine, three-ok four- Dove chocolates nearby, Big Daddy Weave in my headphones and my keyboard in a desperate attempt to not curl up in the fetal position and die tonight. I just had to start writing because as I was attempting to catch up on my emails, I had to stop. Abel's new speech therapist wrote to me and suggested some mother's day out programs and preschools that we could take him to so that he is around much more language than he encounters here between Kinley and me. I started researching the schools and I was overcome with the urge to cry because as much as I want to pull all my hair out during the day (and most of the night), I can't bear the thought of other people getting to see him (them!) the majority of the time. They tell me socialization and school is what is best for him as a cochlear implant recipient, but as his mama, I just want him with me. But then I think back to him opening the fridge eleventy billion times today after I asked him not to and it's a little easier. Not much, though. Look, I know my identity is wrapped up in these kids. I love them fiercely and the reason I get so upset when they're naughty is because I do care so much about them and the young men they grow up to be. I want to be the one who shows them Jesus. I want so desperately to be a good mom.

Truth is, I'm just as human as they are. I never struggled with anger until I had children. There are days when I raise my voice until I'm unrecognizable. There are more days than not I am mad, so mad, that Abel is deaf. I'm selfish. I say things I don't mean. I'm just a big child, a sinner. "For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do" (Romans 7:15). I am in a constant state of asking for forgiveness, for help, for guidance. And it makes me wonder- is this just how it is?

I can't help but believe it's not supposed to be like this, but then I hear Kinley having a pleasant, warm, intelligent conversation with someone and I know I must be doing something right. I watch as Abel, my deaf son, responds to situations with words- "Uh-oh!", he says as his younger brother drops a toy. "No!", he says, as his other brother does something to provoke him. I can't help but feel a little pride because I'm working so hard with him. I want him to talk and so I work with him, I take him to all his appointments, I try. And I think I must be doing something right. Then I look at Merit and kiss his sweet cheeks over and over and he giggles as his face breaks out into the most perfect grin and I know I'm doing something right. I think that one thing I might be doing right is that I'm desperately running, chasing after a relationship with my Heavenly Father. He is the only thing that is unchanging. He is the only one who can make me new. Through Him, I will keep pouring myself into my children even if it kills me. They're worth it. Every day.

"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her; "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands  have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." Proverbs 31: 26-31


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Race Recap

I signed up for the Scenic City Half Marathon thinking I'd have plenty of time to train. I've never trained for any of my races. I just wing it usually. The only other experiences I have with half marathons are from two I did while I was in college (and pretty out of shape) in Nashville, the Music City Half. Anyway, between the wintry weather, sick kids, a husband gone on business, trying to move houses, and another surgical procedure for Abel, the training did not happen. I barely got out there and ran. Those are my excuses anyway. Still, I didn't do too shabby. Although, if we were basing the race on the photos the folks at the race took, then you'd think I almost died. They're pretty hilarious and sad looking. This is the best one:

First off, it was cold. I wanted to quit before I started. Still, even with snow on the ground, I knew I'd be mad at myself if I backed out of the race. That's my step-mom beside me. She is a fitness machine. She actually enters races and wins (ha!). I was grateful to have her by my side, especially around miles 9 & 10 when I really would have stopped running and mostly walked the rest if she hadn't been there.

On the last mile, we had a bit of an uphill trail and I thought, "Really, people who designed the race. Really!" but we kept plugging away and sprinted the last little bit to make my official race time 2:21:36 and my pace 10:49. That is definitely a PR for me. The other two halfs (should I say halves? haha) I've done, I walked a lot. I don't recall my time but it was much closer to three hours. We were doing great for the first 6 miles or so, keeping a ten minute mile or under, but then the hills and additional miles slowed me down a lot. Julie could have kept going without me, but she ran alongside me instead. I loved having this time with her. This was our second race we've done together.



Now, I'm scheming when my next race will be and how I'll beat my own time. I think I'll take a break from halfs (again, awkward) for a few months, but maybe I'll sign up for a shorter one soon.


It sounds silly, but a couple times I was drawing strength from scripture written on race shirts I saw or that one guy I was behind for a time. His shirt said "Never give up." I'm going to rest my foot which I hurt while running and then get right back to it.

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