May 24, 2015

The Great Flood of 2015

May 24, 2015
We here in Oklahoma are accustomed to tornado season.  So much that the evening weather makes for riveting TV entertainment and the door to our bunker stays open 24/7. As usual spring hit hard with daily tornado warnings. But Mother Nature had no intentions of stopping there.  We have entered a new era known as the "500 Year Flood".  The rain has hit so hard and heavy that a local forecaster has coined the term, "turn around, don't drown".   He might be talking about our river land.

This was the road to our river land.  "No Swimming" either. 
You see, Oklahomans are great people but we still need the obvious pointed out to us.  The river land was a place we once played, rode ATV's, had birthday parties, Fourth of July parties, or just escaped to for country air and a change of scenery.  The scenery has certainly changed.  

This water way covers the road that lead to our spot.
We drove to high land to jump a fence so we could wade over to the flood and check the barn.

Big Dog couldn't keep himself from checking on the land and I couldn't let him go alone.  We have a barn down there that houses precious treasures (not really) and I needed to see for myself and assess the floating damage.
Nasty!  River or sewage?
If you look closely you can see the water line on the barn doors.  The water receded but it's back up as I type because the rain started up again and it's pouring cows and pigs.  Aside from it looking like a scene from Naked and Afraid, the barn was intact and my treasures were drying out.  With no way to empty the barn, we left it all there and continue to hope it won't wash away with the next down pour, and the next, and the one after that, and the one fore casted to slam us tomorrow and Tuesday.

Herny's boots filled with water so momma sloshed in to carry him out .
Most of our river land has floated south.  The more rain, the more flooding, the more land we will continue to lose.  Such fond memories, hard work and play all washed away.  Sniff, sniff.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Big Dog and firefighter friend, Shanon, bravely hung our official ranch sign in between torrential down pours.
Purty, ain't she!
Life goes on.  And that includes making our land legit with a sign that says it all.  I wasn't thinking about how we were going to hang the sign when I ordered it and I somehow couldn't agree to let Big Dog place an A-frame ladder on the bucket of our tractor to reach the top (you know you're from Oklahoma when...). The top was far from that accident waiting to happen anyway.  This is when being friends with a firefighter really pays off.  What do you get when you have one firefighter, Big Dog and a super duper high ladder?  A happy farm wife of course!  

Red inspects the water level and the potential harm the next rain can cause on her flock.
How are the animals?  High and dry for the most the moment anyway.  The chicken yard is just inches from becoming an underwater chicken coop dive site.  The horses?  Well, I sure thought they were smarter than this...

A lovely view of our infinity pool overlooking a pasture with floating manure. 
Why in the WORLD do horses refuse to hang out in the loafing shed (or stalls) when they actually should?  Rain, hail, snow, sleet, wind, and they steer clear of it.  A rare but beautiful Oklahoma day and they are under it competing for it's shelter.  Drives me absolutely bat manure crazy!

A dog's life. Just another day in the swamps.  
Our dogs are loving this monsoon weather.  They might be confused for three flooded pasture fairies.  Nothings better than them getting in the house and doing that shake that they do splattering anything and everything within 12 feet making it look like a coke bottle exploded.  I don't need a floor vacuum.  I need a house hose.

Here floats Fairy Land.
Around here, within our 40 acres I mean, I fear it's the fairies that have had it the worst.  Their land is nearly completely submerged leaving no safe place for the fairies to stay.  Thank goodness they can fly.  This has certainly got to be record flooding for them and we sure hope they return (OK, so maybe I need to get out a little and engage in reality).  

Anyone up for a swim? I didn't think so.
For now, we are dry inside but surrounded by tall grass and running water on the outside and there is more to come.  As for me, I am hanging on to God's promise that he will never again flood his people (Genesis 9:11).  "Are you there God?  It's me, Noah's great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grand-daughter."

May 14, 2015

Grief and Fulfillment: Part ONE

May 14, 2015
Image Map
I can still hear the lullaby that played over the hospital-wide speakers as we waited to hear the confirmation we dreaded but knew was coming.  The lullaby played throughout the hospital to announce the birth of someone else's baby as I waited to hear mine had died.  No movement, no heartbeat, only heart break.  We were devastated, blind sided, confused and scared.

Earlier that day I busied myself around the house waiting for our afternoon appointment to finally hear the heartbeat of our baby.  I paced the halls of my home, straightened picture frames, tidied the kitchen and waited.  I was overcome with excitement and couldn't wait to see the heart beat I had longed for on a  black and white screen. 

After an anxious wait in a waiting room full of expecting mothers it was our turn.  I quickly got ready and for the first time didn't mind hopping on "that table" and waited for the doctor to come in and perform the ultrasound.  It had been an emotional road full of hormones, tests, and surgeries under her care so she was as excited as I was.  Big Dog stood nervously by my side and watched the tiny screen come to life.  After a few silent seconds my doctor located the fetus, our baby.  But I could tell there was something wrong. I saw her smile drop and her face turn white.  I knew instantly that there wasn't a heart beat before she uttered a word.  Big Dog squeezed my hand tight and a loud silence filled the room like a heavy fog.  I don't remember much after that other than quickly being escorted through the back door to avoid walking by the expectant mothers in the waiting room.  

My body was robbed of every ounce of joy, every bit of excitement over what I wanted and desired with every fiber of my being.  We were taken to the hospital to have a more in depth ultrasound to officially determine that there was no heart beat.  The little life that was prayed for, prepared for, and longed for was no longer.  My life, along with the life of that tiny creation seemed over for good.  I couldn't imagine ever escaping the amount of grief and emptiness that consumed me.  
Everyone wants a rainbow.  No one wants pain.  But you can't have a rainbow without the rain. -Unknown
After scheduling surgery for the next day, we drove home in silence.  We were both too shocked and devastated to speak.  Once again, I asked God why.  Why would I finally become pregnant only to lose the one thing I desired more than anything?  Big Dog called our family and close friends and I sunk into the couch as to bury myself and never get up again.  I was angry and hurt.  My anger surged as someone tried to console me by saying it was just a fetus and at least it ended at eight weeks.  Those words forever scorched my heart.  It was a baby.  Our baby.  Our hopes and dreams and future.  And now I was left shattered in a million pieces of raw heartache.  I prayed it was just a nightmare but I woke the next day with the same craving for pancakes I'd had all that week only I no longer carried a life.  

Days turned into weeks and weeks into months.  We finally saw a specialist whom determined my fertility was challenged by the shape of my uterus.  I endured another surgery only to miscarry again.  I turned my pain into fierce plans to fulfill another dream of ours: adoption.  Research, phone calls, interviews and agency fees resulted in two separate potential adoptions that fell through as fast as we accepted the referrals.  My heart was once again broken.  But after meeting a family with Internationally adopted children we focused our intentions on out of country adoption.  

This with many other pictures were placed in an adoption binder hoping someone would pick us.
Weeks and months passed by ever so slowly and painfully.  Mounds of paperwork, home studies, and waiting finally paid off.  And then on September 18, 2004, the phone rang and my email popped up with a picture of the most precious sight I'd ever seen. My heart was brought back to life.  I was told I would be the mother of a baby boy that had just been born in Guatemala.  A sweet little bundle of answered prayers had been born and needed a family and I needed him.   A baby boy who grew in my heart was going to be mine and his name was Fernando. 

I could NOT wait to get my hands on that little bambino!
Remember, two adoptions fell through before we were finally matched.  God wasn't going to short change us.  Just one month later we were told that our baby boy had a brother.  Would we be willing to bring him home too?  I answered that rhetorical question before consulting with Big Dog.  Oops.  I said yes and then called Big Dog to say we would be bringing home not one but two babies! Big Dog went into "How in the world am I going to be a father of TWO?" (oh if he only knew) shock.  Fernando had a big brother just two and half years old and his name was Tereso.  

The instant I saw this picture, I knew he was destined to be ours.  Wanna know a secret?  Tereso actually had on a pink pull-over.  Big Dog insisted on changing it to blue using PhotoShop. 
My life was beating with purpose and I couldn't wait to hold my two babies.  When Fernando was just three months old he became very sick and needed blood transfusions.  The doctors in Guatemala told us it was leukemia and that we'd better be prepared to lose him.  They wondered what we would do if he didn't survive.  We had to sign papers that confirmed we would adopt him even though he was sick.  We had to consider a funeral before I had ever held him.  My joy was consumed with despair and panic.  My world was dark again.  Of course we wanted him.  He had my heart, my purpose, my everything.  

Dressed in a Pepsi t-shirt, Fernando receives the first of several hundred transfusions in a Guatemalan hospital.
With the help of our pediatrician and state Senator we were able to expedite the adoption process and bring Fernando and Tereso home in just five months.  Tereso was severely malnourished and Fernando was dying.  They needed medical attention.  I needed to smother them with love.  We all desperately wanted to be a family.

The first time I held my baby boy.  We met him at the hospital with his foster mom.  
Tereso had a nickname, "Chusito" which means Little Jesus.
We had to wean him from sugar and coffee and introduce him to chicken and tortillas instead.  
We spent eight long terrifying days in Guatemala.  I don't think we slept but maybe twenty minutes the entire time.  Fernando continued to need blood and platelet transfusions.  It was too risky to fly him home until he was more stabilized.  We were a young couple thrown into parenthood with a critically ill baby and a toddler craving attention, food, and love.  I thought those were the hardest eight days of my life.  I had no idea that it was actually going to be a long and treacherous road of eighteen months before I truly felt we were a healthy and safe family.  No one could have convinced me of what we were faced with.  No once could have prepared me.  But God.  God knew and God did.  

The start of our journey home to be a family.

May 5, 2015

The End is Near

May 5, 2015
The end is near.  Closer today than yesterday.  Closer today than the first day of school an eon ago.  Closer today than this morning's alarm clock.  The end is near my fellow mommas.  Thank the Lord baby Jesus it is near.  The glimmer of light that teases you and beckons you not to give up is there in the distance.  The last day of school is approaching.  {Insert the sound of a trumpet here}
This is the FIRST year that I have actually longed for the last day of school.  This year was a rough one.  I surrender.  I will take that last day of school and cheer along with my children.  I will open my arms wide and embrace summer and the sticky popsicle hot mess that it is.  I'll trade the daunting task of getting five kids out the door in time for the sun to rise for the two words I despise: "I'm bored".  

Wouldn't it be "genius" if Popsicle packaged their popsicles with Wet Wipes?!?!?
The cranky morning fights and sluggish whines that sing out like a dying cat chorus will take place later in the morning when we have all had a few minutes extra sleep.  Without backpacks to track down, agendas to sign, and homework to tape back together, our mornings will be blissful.  Maybe.  Probably not.  But a girl can dream.  I'll take my chances.  I will, for the FIRST time ever, be thankful school is out (even if my gratitude is for a few moments or so). 

It will be difficult at first.  Change is hard.  Me, like my brood, need structure and depend on routine.  It's the wide openness of summer that has always had me dreading the last day of school and upping my meds.  Hey, wanna know something? I'm a huge supporter of year round school and nixing Fall Break and Spring Break. I need a daily break from my children and they from me.  We work best when the heart grows fonder after being away from each other for seven very short hours.  

I mean who on this earth doesn't want 90 uninterrupted days with this cuteness?!?!
Wait.  Is it school that I'm feeling so jubilant about ending?  Ooooorrrrrr... is it SOCCER?  Aw soccer.  The sport that sucks any measly moment of free time from my already dry soul.  Soccer.  The bitter-sweet activity that teaches my children team work, coordination, and skill is the very activity that spreads me so thin I'm mentally translucent.  Now, don't think I'm some awful witch.  It's just that soccer takes me away from my captain duties of running a very tight ship.  I love watching my children hoot and holler and run and score and give body bumps and high fives to their team mates.  I marvel at my daughter's ability to move the ball down the field while pretending to be a unicorn frolicking with fairies. I DO NOT love the practices nearly every night of the week (four of five of my litter play soccer) and four plus games every weekend (don't get me started on tournaments) in the country's most inconsistent weather state, Oklahoma .  The wind come sweeping down the soccer fields at 30 mph and they play rain, sleet, sand, or shine unless of course there is lightning within four miles.  Absurd!  And then there's Soccer Summer Camp. "No bleepin' way," said the cranky 'ol woman. 

I see a soccer field.  She sees unicorns and fairies.  She's pretty magical! Photo Credit: Bethanie Lied
Whew! That felt good.  Right up there with soccer are Thursday Folders.  The folders that come home every Thursday exploding with enough paper that certainly killed a forest per child.  As if we don't have enough going on there are stacks of other activities to shell out cash for and take your kid to kicking and screaming (I'm usually the one kicking and screaming).  Thursday folders are so exhausting that I once had to have a diet Dr. Pepper before setting up camp next to a trash can to purge the endless fliers.  With four kids coming home with them I have to have something a bit stronger these days.  We call it a grown up drink around here.  Summer if anything, is so liberating because it means three months of NO Thursday folders.  

This is a handy exercise to engage in while sifting through Thursday Folders
Am I finished here?  I think so.  My rant is over.  I will raise my head and my glass to summer.  Hooray!  The time is coming when the agony of pick up lines and book reports will fade into the lemony sunshine of summer.  Cheers to fighting over swim goggles, wet towels on the floor, flies, humidity, Capri Suns, ants, and a nutritious 90 day diet of Pop Tarts and Lunchables.  All that said, come August I will be posting about my extreme life and death need for school to start again.  

Yep.  Pretty much #truth.