Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Happy Sixth Birthday, Eli


It's supposed to get better, this loss thing, and day to day life has. But honestly, March is really hard to get through every year. Reliving the weeks leading up to your birth and the day you were born and all the things I would do differently if I had the chance is pretty heavy.

You'd be six today. If you're anything like your brothers you'd be into silly jokes and jumping off furniture and superheroes...oh, the superhero obsession in this house is insane!

I miss you. I miss the baby you were and, even more, I miss the boy you'd be today. Would you have kept your curls? Your black hair? Would your feet still be huge? This past fall, you would have started kindergarten.

Your dad and I are so, so blessed. Your siblings are pretty amazing and there are many days that it hits me just how great our life is.

But we still miss you. And we still love you. That wont ever change. And I would give anything to see you and hold you again. Always.

Godspeed, little man.

I love you to the moon and back.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Here we Are - Thanksgiving

When I stopped writing regularly on this blog, of course I missed it. The post I sat down to write a year ago this week was a hard one to write. After the roller coaster my life had been on, I didn't know what kind of reaction I would get. Of course everyone surprised me, as usual....I have to say that I have been incredibly blessed by the majority of people that read what I write...they have always been wonderful, and I should have known you would continue to be wonderful! I was rereading the comments from that post this week and I was overwhelmed all over again by how everyone was just so genuinely happy for us even though we were embarking on a relatively unusual journey. Still, stepping back seemed best, so that we could focus on living our story instead of telling it.

And here we are, a year later. I didn't speak much about our reconciliation back then, because I was in the midst of it. I didn't want anyone to think I was giving advice or that I knew what I was doing, because we were both just figuring it out as we went along. While John and I never ever questioned our choice to reconcile, it's still been challenging at times! I think it was harder for John in the beginning, when his guilt was weighing him down the most. For me, the hardest part was realizing that I still had forgiving to do even when I thought I had done it, and that I have plenty of my own security and self-esteem issues that have come about due to our divorce that I still struggle with. But thanks to all the things we have learned about each other and about how to handle these challenges without letting them affect us as a couple and a family.

I can tell you now, over a year after our reconciliation, that our marriage is better and stronger than it ever was before. Sometimes it amazes me that it can be like this after everything we have been through, especially since, to be honest, it was never like this before our divorce. We loved each other, we loved our family, but we did not know how to be married, and that combined with all the stress we were under otherwise, our marriage was not anything to model. Now, we're older and definitely wiser, and it shows in every aspect of our marriage.

I used to think that it would be a relief to live somewhere where no one knew our story...where I wasn't that single mom people felt sorry for or where everyone didn't know that John and I were remarrying each other...we had some interesting conversations for sure when we went to get our marriage license or signed up wedding vendors...turns out that when you have the same last name, people tend to think you're related, which is always a little awkward.

But now we've moved a couple of hours away so that Seth can go to a school designed especially for children who are deaf but use spoken language, and no one knows us here. I go to MOPS, we found a new church, we have been here more than three months, and as far as anyone knows, we're just a typical family with five children. I thought it would be a relief, but in all honesty, I hate that our story is a secret because our story has turned into something that I am proud of!

Our life isn't easy. It never will be, honestly. We continue to be put in situations that stretch our faith and our tenacity. John currently commutes nearly two hours to work so that Seth can go to his new school. It's hard on him. Seth has to commute, himself, logging long days at school and on the bus home. I miss them both like crazy. In many ways, I'm still the sole caregiver most days, and it's hard! It's hard on me and it's hard on John because of how much he wants to be here. I'm still in school, which sometimes feels like it will never end!

But no matter how hard life can be, it's even more blessed. John has a great job where he is respected and liked, and in this economy, that's something that many people don't have. Yes, I'm on my own with the kids a lot, but having John's emotional support makes a bigger difference than you'd probably realize. I never feel alone. Seth is gone all day now, but in just two weeks at his new school, he has made truly incredibly progress. As a parent, you fight for what your child needs without thinking about how it will affect you. When I realized Seth would see his teacher more waking hours of the day than he would see me, I was really sad. So seeing such immediate progress for him was exactly what I needed to know that the sacrifices we are making so that he can go to this school are completely worth it. Our kids are getting older, and I am amazed every day at just how secure they are considering how crazy their lives have been for the past few years. I love the way that God has protected their hearts and allowed them to accept every new change with grace and, most of all, adjust to being a complete family again so well.

This Thanksgiving, I have a lot to be thankful for. My life is crazy, and beautiful, and blessed, and we're still choosing joy. One of the things that I am most thankful for is that I have been able to form so many relationships through this blog. I can't tell you how many emails I have received from women who are hurting, or families who are struggling through a stillbirth or dealing with the shock of a diagnosis of hearing loss. It is truly my privilege to be able to come alongside these families in a small way. There is nothing like that moment when all the hope drains out of you in the midst of a tragedy. I can't guarantee an outcome...I don't know what will happen. But I do know, without a doubt, that great good can come from great sorrow, and I have been blessed enough to see it happen over and over in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope that you all have something wonderful to be thankful for this year.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wedding Pictures!

My wedding was not the most traditional. We kept some old traditions, added new ones of our own, and threw others still out the window, and in the end we had a day that was completely ours. That day and the ones leading up to it were stressful and wonderful and frustrating and fun. I am thrilled that we had a wedding with all the trimmings this time around, but I can tell you right now; I never want to go through all of that again! I had an amazing week with my friends and family and now I have some beautiful pictures to show for it thanks to my close friend Amie Jones (I would link her blog but I don't think she blogs anymore. Get on that, Amie). Here are some picture from our day, picked out of many more. I was trying not to post too many, but it's hard! Thanks to all of you for being a part of our day, and I'm still so sorry the simulcast didn't work!





Monday, September 24, 2012

Still missing

A year ago two people I was very close to died. I still miss them and think about them literally every day.

Sara's laugh was infectious, her sense of humor both sweet and dry, and my friends and I will still mention one of our old jokes and laugh before it makes us feel like crying.

Sara was the best example for living a good life I have ever seen. Despite all she went through, all she suffered, she always, always chose joy. Every day I try to the same. I hope she'd be proud of me.

Jeramy was the most charismatic person I've ever spent time with. As a child, I would follow my older cousin around and beg him to hang out with me. He always did. He was always good for soul searching conversation and he was always interested in what everyone had to say be had a way of always making you feel special, important. Loved.

I miss them. I always will.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Third Time is a Charm

Seth just began his third year of preschool. While we are waiting on his placement at the school we moved here for, he is attending a local preschool here in town. Seth has always been a really shy kid. He's very attached to me in particular, and sending him off to school each year has been a big challenge. He's always been "that kid"...the one that is screaming outside the classroom while everyone else is trying to drop their kids off without letting Seth set their own kids off in a big bawling chain reaction. His first year in preschool he cried every. single. day. for the entire year. Last year he cried at drop off for the first half of the year.

As Seth's understanding and language improved, I was able to work more with him on planning ahead. And last year we did a whole lot of work at school at getting him into the classroom appropriately and greeting the teacher, finding his name on the chart and putting his things away. We ended the year on a really high note and Seth was finally excited about school. Seth is extremely stubborn; he does things when he does them. Would his third year in preschool be the charm?

After a summer off, I had no idea what to expect. Seth has really come out of his shell the past several months, so I had a feeling this year might be different, but I was still completely unprepared to pull up in car line, unbuckle his car seat, and stand there as my four year old grinned at me, yelled "Bye, Mom!" and ran off into the building without even a backward glance.

I texted John: "Seth just ran inside the building happily. He didn't even look back. This has never happened...I don't know how I feel about this!" He texted back: "You're crying, right?"

And now, back at home, my emotions are still all over the place. Seth has always been the child, out of all five, who has needed me the most. My other children are independent and social and have never felt even a qualm at heading off to school or church or wherever. I'm proud of that...proud that they feel secure leaving. I know that Seth gaining this confidence is a great thing and that it means we've done something right.

But of course, I still cried. Happy tears at how he is growing up, sad tears at how he is growing up. I'm a girl, I can have conflicting emotions, right?

Here's Seth on his first day of school at 2, 3, and 4 years old.

DSC_1013 DSC_1118 DSC_0090

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Not much for content, but there are pictures!


Well, we've moved. Throughout last year it became clear that the school system we were a part of did not have the resources or understanding to offer Seth appropriate interventions. We've learned that some areas of the company are very well versed with cochlear implants and what users of cochlear implants need to succeed in school, and some areas just haven't had enough exposure. In our school district, Seth was the first child with cochlear implants they had ever dealt with. After a lot of prayer and soul searching, John and I realized that we weren't comfortable spending Seth's pre-K year in the district we were in.

We're incredibly lucky to have a school that is designed just for kids like Seth who are deaf and use listening and spoken language to communicate just a couple of hours south of us. We visited the school and spoke with them at length, and at the end of the visit everyone involved was convinced that this was the perfect fit for Seth. The problem was that we would have to move and then qualiy Seth for an alternative placement through our local school district before he could officially be enrolled in the school.

We were so torn. But in the end John said it best. He said he would do whatever it took to make sure that Seth had all the tools to succeed, and that he was running out of time to close his language gap. (The language centers in the brain are the most flexible and adaptable in the first six or so years of life). And so we started house hunting. Of course it was a total God thing, the house we found. It's just about halfway between John's job and the school, and it was owned by a couple who bought it for their kids while they were college. It's in a college town, and they were pretty thrilled to rent it to a family instead of college students. It's an older home but it is so spacious and literally perfect for us. We met, we liked them and they liked us, and we had a great feeling about it all.

And then a month later we were moving. We've been here for a few weeks now and it wasn't until we were pulling into the garage the other day and Seth was singing out "We're HOME!" that I realized that we were. This house feels like home in a way that no other place has in a long time. Everything has fallen into place in a beautiful way.


Ava and Jace have begun school at a local charter school and they are loving it. I'm loving it. Selfishly I am loving the extra time I have with the little kids while the big kids are in school. I love homeschooling as well, don't get me wrong. But I know this was the right choice for Ava at this point in time. We've had our first case conference for Seth and we're going through the evaluation process to qualify him for the school that will be able to help him. AWANA starts this week and we're quickly learning that with a little extra space the house really does stay much more clean in general. We're down to just a few boxes that are still unpacked and for the first time since she was an infant Ava has a room to herself. Heck, for the first time since Seth was an infant John and I aren't sharing a room with a baby either!


Of course there are sacrifices as well. John has a long commute which makes for long drives for him and long days for me. I'm not burning through my own school work as quickly as I once did. Gas is crazy expensive. We're on the hunt for a new church right now and that's always hard. But overall, we know that for now, this is the place for us to be. And we know that we're incredibly blessed to have kids who make friends easily and who think of their siblings as friends. They've got friends wherever they go!

Evany is finally growing some hair! She's impossibly silly and makes us all laugh. Coen is FOURTEEN months old and is so cute that I kiss his fat cheeks entirely too many times every day. Ava is impossibly grown up for a just-barely-eight year old and Jace is an encyclopedia of random information. Seth thinks he is in charge of everyone else in the house and regularly checks with me throughout the day to make sure he knows where everyone is and when they'll be home. "Ava? Is she at school? Oh, okay." He'll nod soberly, like he's just making sure everyone is where they should be. One day I asked him if he heard the door open, and he rolled his eyes at me. "No, Mom. Dad's at WORK." He didn't say it, but there was an implied "Duh!" at the end of that sentence.


And now I've got five children in bed and a husband to hang out with before the week begins all over again. Pancake batter to make and uniforms to iron. There's always something to get done, right? I hope everyone's doing well!

Friday, July 20, 2012

I'm married!

Hey! I got married! That was pretty awesome.

It was a great day. A great week! We had friends arriving every day from Wednesday on and we had a blast with all of them. The kids loved having lots of grown ups around to hang out with, and since not many of our bridal party have kids, our kids were a pretty novel concept to lots of our visitors. John's groomsmen, especially, were pretty taken with the kids and really had fun playing with them and letting them tag along on their adventures. 

One of the biggest things that John and I wanted out of this wedding was to share it with our friends and family. The first time we got married, we eloped on the beach and while it was beautiful and fun we always regretted not having a "real" wedding. Luckily this time we were able to do everything we wanted to do.  My mom came in a couple weeks before the wedding to help out, which made everything better!

I had an amazing bridal party. My best friends from high school, my cousins, and of course my best bloggy friends were all there to stand up with me. And as a last minute great surprise, my best friends from Florida Mara and Laura were able to fly in at the last minute and be there, which was unexpected because Mara had a five week old at home. Her husband graciously offered to hold down the fort and take care of all five kids so that Mara and Laura could make a 24 hour appearance. 

After Sara died, a few of us started using a group messaging program together and literally communicate incessantly throughout the day. Not one day has gone by when I haven't talked to them. We were all friends of Sara's, and it meant so much to me that almost everyone made it to the wedding, even though they had to travel from Iowa, Texas, and Louisiana. Alece couldn't make it and we really missed her, but considering she's in Ethiopia on yet another missions trip, I think she gets a pass! And I even found a way to include Sara in the day, as well as members of my family who have passed away. It felt really special for me to have them all with me as I walked down the aisle. 

 (Picture of Sara on my bouquet. On the other sides are pictures of my grandfather, aunt, cousin, and Eli)
(Mandy, Candy, me, and Amie)

It was so great to finally all be in one place and hanging out in person! My bridesmaid Lindsey offered up her beautiful home to us, which was incredibly sweet of her, and gave us a great place to do last minute wedding craftiness, have the rehearsal dinner and to hang out and talk, watch movies, and sing karaoke until the wee hours of the morning. She's an amazing hostess and it was so great to see how well all of the girls in my bridal party got along even though some of them had never met. By the end of the weekend they were all friends on facebook and following one another on twitter. Hah!

(Clockwise from the top, Jordan, Kara, Logan, Lindsey, and Mandy)

Between everyone, they kept me from stressing myself to death with last minute details and we made it to the wedding day. I couldn't wait until it was time to put my dress on...I got married in jeans the first time and never understood the dress obsession until I found my dress, and now I get it. I kind of want to go put it on right now. It's not easy to feel like you look amazing after having six kids in six years but this dress definitely made me feel that way!


It went by so fast...and then all of a sudden I was standing there waiting to walk down the aisle, watching my kids go before me. Of course Seth ended up walking with me and my mom. No surprise there! And Ava ended up carrying Coen. We're flexible. It's all good. Somehow I made it to the end while my favorite song ever played and there was John and Jordan, my beloved cousin, who was officiating our ceremony and pulling double duty as a bridesmaid. It went by fast. Jordan said some really beautiful things and then we read aloud and signed our own personal copies of the Resolution from Courageous. At one point I was supposed to say something when John did and I missed it so I said "Ditto", which was incredibly classy. And then we were saying I do and Jordan was pronouncing us married all over again.

The reception was so much fun...I wasn't sure how it would go with five relatively small kids but they were all just great. During our first dance they all came out to join us and Ava and Jace danced together. And then they never stopped. All four of the older kids were on the dance floor for the rest of the night with short breaks to eat, have a drink, or sing some karaoke.  Coen fell asleep in the stroller and slept peacefully for the next three hours. Then he woke up in time to dance the last dance of the evening with me.

 (Evany doing the splits during a breakdance move)

After great food, some great singing and dancing and time with family and our friends, it was time for us to head for Chicago and catch a flight out to Orlando, where we took a cruise and visited with friends in Florida.

We missed the kids like crazy on our cruise but it was really nice to get away and get to sleep in and eat food that other people cooked! It was a great time together, and I'm so glad we went, but you'd better believe we were THRILLED to get home to the kids on Saturday! My mom had a blast with them, though, and I doubt they missed us as much as we missed them.

So now we're home again, gearing up to start school next month. We are looking at an amazing school for Seth and really hoping things will work out for him to go there when school starts. It'll take some juggling on our parts but I know it'll be worth it if we can make it happen! In other news, Coen is officially one and walking and Seth is four.  July is a big month in our house!


 This is the song I walked down the aisle to...I love every word.

I just want to thank you all for coming along on this journey with us. We appreciate it more than we could ever tell you.


(This should be a separate post but let's be honest; it's unlikely that I'll manage another post in a timely fashion)

Oh! I was just about to publish this when I found out that my friend Sarah's new book  31 Days to Lovely: A Journey to Forgiveness is available for FREE until midnight!  Sarah is a very close friend of mine who has one of the biggest hearts I've even seen. She has been such a blessing to me and her book is a lovely, convicting devotional about the importance of forgiveness in our lives. Oh, and I was very honored to be asked to write the foreword to her book. Hope I did it justice!

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