3.31.2015

The Unlikely Mom of FIVE

There are two bonafide ways to fry your brain cells.
1. Smoke a lot of pot in high school
2. Become a mother

I became a mother.  I have very few precious, struggling brain cells hanging by a thread.  I endure the classic routine of walking in a room with full intentions in my steps only to question why I came in that particular room.  I get Mondays mixed up with Fridays.  I show up at the pediatrician's office with the wrong kid on the wrong day.  I don't know my name or age when asked. I go to the grocery store with a well thought out list and leave with everything but what was on it.  I come home after an hour of school pick up lines only to frantically realize I'm missing a kid.  I will look for my phone and sunglasses only to hear my daughter say (insert eye roll), "Duh mom.  Your sunglasses are on your head and your phone is in your hand".  I pour orange juice in my coffee, buy sour cream instead of whipped cream, and wear my panties inside out.  I do all of these things and more. 

If you know me you know my story.  Or maybe you don't.  And if you don't know me then I hope you can find some enlightenment, some, "it's okay to feel that way", some, "you are not alone, we all do it", and a little bit of laughter in how I became The Unlikely Mom of FIVE.  

I want to preface this post by saying with my whole beating heart that I wouldn't change a darn thing.  That said, I do question.  I'm human.  And don't judge, because you are human too.  Unless a monkey or some other intelligent animal is reading this, we are all human and we all have emotions (I know, animals have emotions too).  Some raw and "dirty laundry" emotions.  We are all in it, the laundry and dishes thick of it, the cranky trenches of it.  It?  MOTHERHOOD!

I rip my hair out daily. Yeah, I know.  I gotta get my gray roots done.  
My mom once said, "you prayed for this so you can't complain about it".  Being my mom, she is right.  Always right.  I did pray for a family.  I prayed hard.  And long story short, God answered.  The clouds parted and five children plopped down from heaven.  Well, sort of.  Kind of.  It's complicated.  But that is how it felt.  My mom also said, "Better watch what you pray for".  Right again.  How does she do that?  

Big Dog and I went from just us to two kids faster than you can super-size a McDonald's meal.  Have you ever had a freezing cold bucket of water dumped on your head?  That's about what it was like.  That's actually what every morning is like.  We were young and naive and two little boys looked to us for unconditional love and care.  One of them needed a life saving transplant.   The other needed undivided attention and bonding.  It was HARD.  It was an emotional roller coaster with every up and down, turn, and jolt at fear reaching speeds with exhilarating twists.  I was scared and exhuasted.  I'm still exhausted. 

On a perfect day, outside of the hospital is one my most treasured memories.  Photo Credit: Shannon Ho Photography
Our "normal".  The beginning of an 18 month battle in the hospital.
Big Dog is scared as you know what and I'm a deer in headlights.


We were in isolation so these two brothers had to interact through a window while in  transplant.
Mason was doing well enough for up close and personal play with Parker.
You know those moms at the mall with their stellar strollers, perfect looking children and fresh, just out of the shower and hair and make-up appearance sitting ever so calm and casual at the play area?  Yeah, I wasn't one of them.  Not once.  Not ever.  I had dreams of play dates and outings at the park.  But with one in the hospital fighting for his fragile life, my reality was anything but.  It wasn't what I dreamt of.  It wasn't what I pictured happening as I opened gifts at my baby shower and obsessively decorated their wanna-be Pottery Barn nursery.  It wasn't what my friends and I had talked about.  And even though it wasn't anything what I thought or hoped it would be like, it was my reality with my new and long awaited for family. It's the reality that now, out of no where, creeps up in memories, and a huge lump in my throat nearly takes my breath away.  It's the reality that I find myself asking God, "Why didn't you give me a 'normal' family"?  I know, what is "normal" anyway?  I hear you.  Stay with me.  Stop judging.  I am eternally thankful.  I am just human with human emotions and I know you are, too.

So, here we go.  Let's continue on my path of The Unlikely.  To get three biolgical siblings through international adoption is highly unlikely.  But my baby boys had a sister, and she was up for adoption.  So, naturally, if she was their sister, she was to be my daughter.  Nothing had made more sense to me than the time I realized drinking water quenches thirst.  Once my youngest (at the time) was healthy and promised to survive, we pursued her adoption.  The process was nothing short of a mess of red tape at the mercy of a corrupt government.  Just weeks before adoption closed in Guatemala, we were able to bring home their sister, our daughter.  It was yet another answered prayer endorsed by God.  At this point, we had three children in under two years!  I was still trying to keep my head above water and master the trade of motherhood which I felt I was doing a spectacular job of failing at.  I would bury my head in my pillow and cry out, "God, what are you up to?  Yeah, yeah, I wanted kids but this is hard.  This is exhausting and emotional on a level I have never known.  Help a sister out!  These children are hurt, scared, traumatized and need things the human heart and soul can't provide".  I was overwhelmed with worry, fear, and discontent.  What happened to the fairy tale story of adopting a child and being a happy, magical, on the cover of Parenting Magazine kind of family at the mall in the play area? 

With Mason back at Camp Grandma, here we are on our trip to bring Lauren home.  
I know, right?  Deliciously cute!  I was going to get the coordinating Christmas PJ's picture if it killed me.
And then I got pregnant.  Finally!  Oh yeah, getting pregnant was another dream and fervent prayer request.  But no, no, I didn't just get pregnant.  No, it's not like those stories you hear of "well they couldn't have children so they adopted and poof, just like that, they were pregnant".  No.  After a long and painful road of being told it was unlikely I'd ever ever physically birth a child, God answered my prayer.  I was pregnant. Heck yeah. With twins.  TWINS.  Baby A and Baby B.  The announcement of this nearly made Big Dog faint.  That was the first and last time I saw him almost faint.  Well, except for the times he changed chemo baby diapers (those, my friends, are some horrific smelling diapers).  But he actually more like choked to death than fainted.  I digress.  So twins.  Yep.  A boy and a girl.  We were now a family of SEVEN! We were comin' in hot to the block with our growing family. 

Consider yourself lucky to see me in my gigantic-prego state.  I became much, much larger.
 "Scary large" as Big Dog says.
When I was a little girl I never thought I'd be a mom of five.  I never thought me and my knight in shining armor would have FIVE kids in THREE years.  I never thought God would go above and beyond in answering my prayers.  And as I type this, I smile.  I smile because I can hear God whisper, with a chuckle, "Never say never.  For I Am God".  

I think Mason's expression says it all.  "Oh dear!  What has mom done now? Now there's more of us".
  A family that squeezes together stays together.  We have since upgraded to a larger couch.  We are still together.
I can hardly make it through a day without sobbing and snotting all over the place.  I don't have an identity.  Well, actually I do.  I'm known as, "that lady with five kids" as if I have an ugly growth on my forehead. More often than not, I find myself tilting my head towards the sky asking the man upstairs, "Why?  Why me?".  I plead with Him that I am not cut out for this.  I wasn't meant to be a mom of five.  I'm worn slick.  My body hurts.  My hair smells.  My bladder is fatigued from never being able to pee when I want and need to.  I don't remember the last time I didn't dream about sleep.  I don't know how to heal kids from hard places despite the stacks of books, blogs, conferences, social workers and multitude of therapies I've put us all through.  I'm asked all the time, "how do you do it?".  I don't know.  I don't have a perfectly scripted and enlightening answer.  I truly don't know.  I do know, that by the grace of God, I am a mom.  A mom of FIVE, thank you very much.  I fail and I make mistakes  ALL THE TIME.  You moms are not alone.  There is help.  There is prozac (I'm sorry for all the things I said before I was on prozac) and vodka and prayer and other reality mom posts on The Huffington Post.  We can do this!  So Keep Calm and Mom On, with what brain cells you have left. 

"I do not feel like I have the courage for this journey - but I have Jesus"
{Kara Tippetts}

AMEN.


3.25.2015

Say Cheese!

I'm sharing the scenery and talented photographer, Brittany Stover, is sharing the LOVE!  All you have to do is answer this question:

What is the first thing on your bucket list?

Enter your answer AND email address in the comments and a lucky duck will be picked and announced Monday, March 30th at 9pm central time! 

*Be sure to read this part out loud and super fast to yourself* 
Location must be on our land.  Date and time will be determined by you and photographer, Brittany Stover.  Winner will be responsible for purchase and printing desired images captured and provided by Brittany Stover Photography.  Winner must abide by and adhere to terms and conditions as set by Brittany Stover Photography. Winner must have a great time and as always, smile for the camera. 

3.18.2015

Before & After: The Home Renovation

So many have asked, "What did this place look like before you moved here?"  Well, the answer is....it looked like a home that needed a designer with incredible vision and talent and a skilled contractor that would bring my Pinterest dreams to life.  After I secured those two must-haves, an unbelievable, never thought it was possible, "Before and After" began.  

I've been holding on to these pictures waiting for phase 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 to be completed.  But I'm only growing older and grayer.  Besides, I don't think we will truly ever be finished so I figure there is no time like the present to show you the "Before and After" thus far.  Welcome to our home, designed by Candice Clark with CC Designs and re-modeled by Dave Lowe Construction.  
Before
The front.  Landscape is still desperately needed in the After but we are getting there.
After
The best I could do on this dreary spring day.  But whoa!  What a difference!
No door is complete, nor a house a home, without a welcome sign.  Thanks Lindsi Niebur! 
Before
A little living area begs and pleads for a make-over.

After
No problemo!  Bright and cozy please and thank you.
Before
Candice and Dave compare notes to make this turn into....
 After
THIS!  
And this!
And this!
Before
The Monica (from Friends) in me needed a guest room.  So up went 2.5 walls to create...
 After
This lil slice of heaven lasted about a year before my twelve year old claimed it.

Before
This entry needed a new entry.  An "actual, real deal entry" as I liked to call it.
After
So a new entry it got. A cowhide was an obvious must. Obviously.

Before
Original master bedroom turned... 
After
Large room for the boys.

Before
The red carpet continues into the master bath

After
The monster porcelain tub was removed (among other things) and a double header shower was installed (on the other side of the knock off Pottery Barn Kids shark painting).
Before

This was the surprise design room I waited to see until the very end.

After
Ta-da!  I still swoon over that wallpaper.  Job well done, Candice. 
Before
The back of the house needed to be taken out eight feet to accommodate the kitchen and...

After
The breakfast area.  That thar chandelier is one of the first things we purchased before demo even began.
Before
This sweet little pantry needed to be quadrupled in size with a barn door to top it off

After
Thanks to Etsy and a talented painter we ended up with a brand new old barn door.
Before
This was destined to be a little girl's room

After
That thar light was just five buckaroos at Habitat for Humanity.  Spray paint and Hobby Lobby to the rescue.
Before
This laundry room needed paint and a large island for folding laundry.
I don't remember the last time my island wasn't covered in laundry, craft projects, seedlings, muddy boots and backpacks.
I love the stripes and baskets.  Don't be fooled.  Hardly ever does it look like this.
Before
This once workshop was destined to be a master bath.
Told you!
Complete with a "hotel shower" as my kids call it.
Pardon the yellow "filter" on this.  It really is bright white and oh so refreshing.

A tried and true collection of paint we used and love:
Please note that white on white (Greek Villa) is hard to show.
Greek Villa is a lovey and clean white shade and I highly recommend it
What do you ask, I wish I'd done differently?  For starters, I wish I had hired a professional photographer to take all the before and after pictures to truly capture the project.  I wish I had we had built on a garage then instead of waiting until now.  Stay tuned.  That project is underway and will have a guest/pool house attached to it.  I'll be in touch. 
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