the rainbow connection

 

Sweet Lord, what have I done?

 

fourth kid

 

 

Oklahoma winters are really, really cold, you guys. That’s all I can say about that.

All around me, people are giving birth and taking down names. My best friend is fostering and adopting her head off. Babies are going to start pouring out the window of our church nursery. It’s like spring at a barnyard, except it’s not spring and it’s not a barnyard and nobody will eat Christmas goose.

Call it “The Great Big Fat Giant Baby Explosion of 2014″.

I’m glad to be a part of it, but there’s something that keeps me from fully enjoying pregnancy–and it’s not the heat, and it’s not my aching back, and it’s not the diabeetus. (Ok, well it is a little that.)

If you were ever hoping for a baby and didn’t have one, then you’ll understand what I mean: I ache for my lost babies. I ache for the people that I know who have miscarried. I ache for the people who have tried for years to get pregnant with no success. The pain involved in these situations can be devastating, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt how incredibly blessed we are to have a new baby on the way.

My plans never seem to work out as I expect them to. Cheyenne came to me when I was 15 with a soul and a purpose. I found out I was pregnant with Mia despite meticulous planning and numerous preventative strategies. Caleb and I tried for 3 entire years to have a baby before Merrick came along.

In 2010 we had an early miscarriage and it seemed like the absolute end of the world. In 2013, we miscarried at 13 weeks–after that risky first trimester and well into the 100% euphoric phase of what we thought was a healthy pregnancy. 2 babies that we will never see here in this world–both precious in God’s sight, and both making an incredible impact on our family and our faith. I don’t wonder what might have been–they are exactly where God means for them to be at this moment.

But I will never be the same.

In January we found out we had another baby on the way; another life that may or may not survive more than a month, or two, or nine. This time I was so scared. We had already been through what felt like so much, too much. Could I handle losing another one?

I’m sitting pretty at 32 weeks and I still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that by mid-September, I might be holding a beautiful baby girl. No thanks to doctors, no thanks to medicine, no thanks to a million $300 ultrasounds. No thanks to Caleb and his insistance on my doing nothing and going nowhere. No thanks to me and what I have done or haven’t done. This whole process is, and has always been, completely out of our hands.

I am profoundly thankful for the experience.

God keeps His promises. He never promised me four children, or even one. He never promised me a husband and a house and a loving family and a life of relative peace and happiness. These things are nice, for sure–but unexpected, undeserved, and temporary.

God does promise that He will remain with me through every up and down, and out and in and over and under. He will hold me up with His awesome right hand. I believe it with my whole heart.

 

“Behold, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.”–Genesis 28:15


hot, tired, and pregnant.

Here’s where I start whining about pregnancy.

Just kidding. I’ve been doing that since February.

It’s hot, yo. Like, 110 degrees in the shade hot. This is coming from someone who has endured many a humid-beyond-imagination Florida summer. Oklahoma heat is deceiving in that you might think you can handle triple-digit temps in the middle of the day–you might even actually attempt it–but you cannot. (Whereas in Florida you walk outside, and immediately no. Just, no.)

I ache from my toes right up to my eyeballs. I am active in short, concentrated bursts, and usually only between the hourse of 7:00 and 9:00 p.m.–after the air has cooled down to a tolerable 90 degrees, but before I’m too exhausted to keep my eyes open.

I haven’t even been outside today and I am literally sweating to death. I feel like my entire body is deflated of an essential life force energy. I guzzle ice water constantly during my waking hours, and I live in a perpetual state of having to pee so bad that I’m highly likely to murder anyone who stands between me and the potty.

The need for 3.1 million bathroom breaks per day is also sending my uterus into a raging hissy fit every 5 minutes. Braxton Hicks contractions might not be considered painful, but they’re enough to make me stop what I’m doing–which is usually half-sitting, half-lying on the couch in a pitiful pool of my own slobber–and focus on breathing techniques designed to get oneself through more epic labor pains.

Breathing is insanely difficult at this point. My unborn child is like a wild, ravenous beast and I’m taking hard hits to vital organs on an semi-hourly basis. I’m a breathless, belching hot mess who cries over every. little. thing. So don’t bring up movie moments like “Harry and the Hendersons”, where George screams at a confused Big Foot right before punching him in the face in an effort to save his life. It’s just so touching you guys.

Gestational diabetes has brought an additional level of hell to this pregnancy. I won’t even get into it, because there’s something way too unjust in my inability to seek comfort in a tub of ice cream during the only time in a woman’s life where it might be remotely acceptable to do such a thing.

My blood sugar is always funky low whenever I least need it to be, like when I’m teaching 3-year-olds or driving a car.

Please believe me when I say I have never felt this horrible during a pregnancy before in my life; I am usually so energized and breezy and light-hearted when I’m giant with child, true story no lie. I have every symptom in the book, plus fun bonuses like dizziness and tingling and random heart popping, and a fatigue unknown to mankind until this day.

Know what else? I’d kind of like to see both Planet of the Apes movies, for fun, plus eat an oreo cookie. Just one oreo cookie. There’s a ton of gray hair on my head and I’m too tired to do anything about it–anything meaning, making a phone call to book an appointment. Also? I’m rocking the 2-weeks-overdue waddle, and typing on a computer is a surprisingly draining activity.

Toni out, right after I insert random pictures from this past week.

Me with my visiting aunts Cathy and Connie. I hate it when my huge pregnant belly only looks plain huge from certain angles.

Me with my visiting aunts Cathy and Connie. I hate it when my huge pregnant belly only looks plain huge from certain angles.

The kids and my awesome aunts.

The kids and my awesome aunts in front of our farmhouse and the spooky old tree.

Caleb's brother Jason, siding a house during his vacation. At noon. In Oklahoma. In July.

Caleb’s brother Jason, siding a house during his vacation. At noon. In Oklahoma. In July.

 

OKC Redhawks time!

OKC Redhawks game!

Merrick, accurately depicting how I feel 90% of the time.

Merrick, accurately depicting how I feel 90% of the time.

Um, Mia and my nephew Joey.

Um, Mia and my nephew Joey.

That would be Caleb's birthday cake, for that time we remembered and celebrated the day of his birth.

That would be Caleb’s birthday cake, because we remembered and celebrated the day of his birth.

My kids are really into making crazy faces for the camera. It's a phase. Don't judge.

My kids are really into making crazy faces for the camera. It’s a phase. Don’t judge.


Progress.

This month has successfully kicked my butt. Thanks, July! You can stop now.

Ball season is over. Vacation Bible schools and summer camps are over. Swimming lessons? Were over before they were even over. The baby is getting huge and especially strong. And we had family come up, which was wonderful on so many levels.

Caleb’s brother, his wife, and their son spent almost an entire week with us. They left yesterday afternoon, but not before helping my gimp husband make some much-needed headway on the house. We now have siding, trim, and beautifully manicured grounds:

 

DSC01685

The backside of the house where Caleb feel and broke his head. Or dislocated his toe. Whatever.

The backside of the house where Caleb fell and broke his head. Or dislocated his toe. Whatever.

One of the many piles of leftover wood, currently housing a massive snake colony, I'm sure.

One of the many piles of leftover wood, currently housing a massive snake colony, I’m sure.

The dudes being extra productive.

The dudes being extra productive.

Caleb, who is now super-afraid of heights.

Caleb, who is now super-cautious at heights of 5 or more feet off the ground.

The old abandoned, old abandoned front porch area.

The old abandoned, old abandoned front porch area.

Sunset in the country.

Sunset in the country.

 

Of course I love spending time with family I haven’t seen in forever. Caleb’s brother Jason looks amazing with a beard. My nephew Joey somehow looks like a young man who’s almost ready for college. My sister-in-law Sam is still kicking ass and taking down names after her crazy epic bus-meets-motorcycle-on-the-highway accident from 2 years ago. We worked, we walked, we shopped, we ball-gamed, and we birthday-partied. It was a good week that went by way too fast.


in the face of temptation

So, that diabetes is bogus, am I right? Am I right. Last week I took a nutrition class specifically geared for pregnant, diabetic women, and all was fine and good until I realized that the teacher didn’t realize that I’m highly STARVING, even with all the “carbohydrates” and the “starches” and the natural “sugars” I’m allowed–and supposed–to eat. The baby is very much not interested in leafy greens.

I’m so pregnant. You don’t even know.

I know there are other factors at play when it comes to gestational diabetes, such as age (apparently 34 is old) and genetics (if I’m not dead in 10 years it’ll be a miracle)–but I gotta fess up and say that maybe–just maybe–my sucky eating habits had a part in my diagnosis. I never thought it would actually happen to me, because, well–so far so good with my other kids. But I started feeling dizzy, and nauseous, and just…weird. I wrote it all off as the crappiest pregnancy in the history of me, but in the back of my mind I totally knew that the amount of sugar I was consuming on the daily was enough to kill a man.

How I love sugar, oh how I love it. Every hour I love it.

And carbs. Carbs in general are pretty great.

So I ignored the symptoms and I ignored my husband and I ignored my paleo best friend, and I didn’t track my food and I didn’t worry about any of it. Until Cap’n Crunch came back and punched me in the throat.

We shall chalk this up to one of the times of my life where I knew what was coming long before it arrived.

The other times involved a crap ton of alcohol and the keys to my car; a season of bitchiness towards my husband followed by his month-long cold shoulder; a rash of stupidity and selfishness that led to almost-irreparable damage to the precious hearts of my children, strained relationships with people that I love, and a dark time of separation from God.

I am susceptible to all types of sin. I am above none of it. Still, in my moments of confidence, strength, and happiness, I get all kinds of complacent and forgetful.

Don’t I know what junk food does to a body? Don’t I know how hard it is to lose even a little bit of weight? Don’t I know that diabetes and heart disease runs in my family?

On a similar note, don’t I know that alcohol makes me crazy and I can never stop at just one drink? Don’t I know that my moodiness and irritability rubs off on Caleb, who is already working as hard as anyone possibly could to take care of me and our family? Don’t I know that I hurt my kids when I’m insane with anger? Don’t I know how easily I drift into these patterns without daily quiet time with God and constant prayer?

The problem: I do know. I know all of it, all too well. But sometimes motivation is hard to come by in the face of all these temptations.

You guys.

There is no such thing as a perfect Christian. I’m questioning if there is even such thing as a good Christian–good as in, always pure of heart and always strong in faith. It’s definitely the goal, but it’s a heck of a lot harder than most people have been led to believe. We get discouraged when we fail–and we do all fail. If we’re counting on our following a strict set of rules to get us into heaven, we will be more than disappointed when the time comes. (Not to mention we’ll screw up every two seconds before then, guaranteed.)


 

My dietician gave me a giant folder full of information about taking the best possible care of myself. It’s full of science-y terms like glucose and insulin and grams. Truthfully I don’t have the patience for it, and I hate that teacher for bringing me down, and I hate following the rules that totally jack with my fun.

But I’ll read it. I’ll take it in. I’ll do my darndest to keep my sugar levels in a normal range. I already know I’ll mess up once in a while. I will still try.

In the same sort of way, God gave us this book of instructions for the best possible life. It’s called the Bible. I don’t read it as often as I should, and I like to skim over the parts that pertain to me in the moment. It’s full of important backstories and lessons and truths, and yes–there are rules that jack with my so-called fun. I already know I’ll mess up.

But I will still try.

Junk food is everywhere. It always will be. Somedays it will look especially appetizing. Somedays you will open your door to a foxy blueberry bagel slathered in nutella. Some of us might have cells in our body that were made specifically to seek out cherry poptarts, and some of us will not be able to stop at just one coke.

But just because we are surrounded by junk, and just because we’re predisposed to want it, and just because it tastes delicious in our mouths and feels awesome in our stomachs, doesn’t mean we need it at that moment, or that it is in anyway, at anytime, good for us. Or that we should just give into it.

This world has so many things our bodies crave. It will not be easy to fight them, but we have to. There are other things that are so, so, so much better for us. Fight. Pray. Read God’s word. Love others more than you love yourself. Keep the faith.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and the perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12: 1-3


Reasons My Son is Awesome.

  1. The first suggestion on his list of things to do during Mom and Son Week 2014 was pedicures at the mall. I kid you not.
  2. He said this morning, and I quote: “I love your stretch marks, Mom. They are so cool. They look like tiger stripes. I wish I had some.”
  3. He asked if we could eat breakfast in bed because “that will give us more time to cuddle before we have to get up.”
  4. He is all about having cheese grits for dinner.
  5. He is kind of the best boy in the whole wide world.

We are surviving camp week–Caleb and Mia left yesterday and already, Merrick and I have crammed in toy shopping, pedicures (polish for me, foot rub for him), lunch, swimming lessons, plus cleaning and cooking and just generally going on with our bad selves. I am so enjoying this time with my son, after the hustle and bustle of the last few months, yet before the crazy back-to-school/moving/new baby rush that will start up in just a few short weeks. Time is going by too fast for me.

I love my son. I love my son. I just love him.

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My soon-to-be middle child. (Well, one of them anyway.)


prison hershel.

Dig, if you will, my new birthday present:

glucometer

Yeah, baby!

Don’t get excited. It’s plain black and not at all fabulous. Today I was shown how to prick my own finger–though I didn’t actually do it and I have my doubts as to whether or not I’ll be able to when the time comes (tomorrow morning). I’d rather set myself on fire. Thanks, kid #4!

Daughters: giving me grief since 1996.

Truth be told, I’m a terrific supplier of my own grief and I can’t blame my children at all for the fun things I’ve put myself through. With Cheyenne there was that whole teen pregnancy thing plus a good 18 years of stupidity in all aspects of life and parenting on my part.

And this is totally sort of off-subject, but I miss her so much that I’m literally sick, and I’m all hormonal and diabetic and I may or may not have just heated up a pop-tart and consumed the entire confection for dinner.

What?

 

Anyway, because nobody asked, here’s some awesome stuff about The Walking Dead‘s Hershel: He started out in season 2 as a cranky, micro-managing country Christian dad who followed all the rules and said all the right things–but didn’t seem to have the heart to go along with his alleged faith. He was sort of a prick. I kind of hated him.

Then Hershel got schooled hard by zombies, got his leg chopped off, and got humble. He grew a beard and started actually doing things that Christ would want him to do, though he wasn’t always sure of what that was. He didn’t always have a right answer and he wasn’t always ready with the perfect bible verse. He admitted when he wrong. He admitted when he was sinful. He admitted when he was scared. And sometimes, he was just quiet.

Hershel went from being a selfish and entitled boss of everything, to a humble and caring servant of everyone. He protected the weak, fed the hungry, and counseled the cray. My favorite episode ends with Hershel the bad ass, slumped on the floor after a hard day of nursing dying people and killing zombies, sobbing uncontrollably, with his hand on an open bible in his lap–emphasis on the “open” part.

Let me just say, I’ve never stabbed a dead person in the head before, but I’ve had those days. I think we all have–some more than others, of course. It really doesn’t take much to overwhelm me–not a personal quality I’m proud of. A couple of hyperactive children on a rainy day, a forgetful husband, a minor tiff with a family member…anything unexpected and/or unpleasant, and I crumble and break.

I want to be like prison Hershel but I’m admittedly more like farm Hershel. I like to be right. I like to be in charge. I like my days to be predictable. Routine is awesome. Hard work always pays off. Rewards are positive and immediate.

If I’m good, then life is supposed to be good, and everyone in it. Right?

I know that’s not right.

But no matter how frustrated and tired I get, I know there are those who are beyond beaten and worn. We cannot give up. Jesus died–DIED–was tortured, died, and was buried, people–and rose again–to give us an ultimate hope. How powerful a thing is hope!

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” --Hebrews 6:19

Hope keeps us going. I can’t even scratch the surface on this concept. But here’s a thing: I am wrong a lot, I am sinful a lot more than a lot, and I am scared way more than I am courageous–and for all these things, I am so, so, sorry. I don’t have all the answers and I can’t always reference the perfect bible verse, but I know that whatever happens, God is there to guide my path.

 


 

 

(…maybe even with orange mocha frappuccinos, for when we sort out the really important issues. Full sugar.)

orange mocha frap


how sweet.

Yesterday morning I woke up to a delightful breakfast of yogurt and apples, lovingly prepared at 6:00 a.m. by my darling children. For my birthday. Which was not yesterday.

Life: Vacation bible school, phone calls from doctors and clinics, and ball games, and team pictures, and roof repairs and window sealing, foot icing and headaches and crashing into bed before anything else can go wrong. Birthday cake? Might put me in a sugar coma, so I let Caleb off the hook for forgetting.

Curse you childhood, and your beautiful birthday cakes!

Curse you childhood, and your beautiful birthday cakes!

I still felt like Rasberry Tart, though, and if you can’t understand that reference, well…then you’re not as weird as I am. Congratulations. Go climb a tree and fall out.

Today birds are chirping, and jack rabbits the size of large dogs have made personal appearances in my yard. I can’t have cherry poptarts, like, at all today, but I’m going to be okay, because–yay–I also can’t have cherry coke.

Wait…

I had another ultrasound and doctor’s appointment during which everything looked awesome. Our daughter is in the 60th percentile as far as size for 28 weeks–so much for the freakishly huge behemoth baby they were worried about me growing and grooming for world domination. Everything about her thus far is perfectly normal.

I celebrated by having a small black coffee.

Honestly people, I’m having some serious sugar withdrawls. It’s an absolute drug and I am a full-blown addict. This is worse than that time I voluntarily got healthy–mainly because I’m under doctor’s orders and it’s taking everything I have not to shove my face in a jar of Nutella with a rebel yell. My best friend is encouraging, but she’s also paleo and junk, and I wonder sometimes if those type of people can really be trusted. What the heck can her motives possibly be? It’s almost like she wants me to feel my best and have a healthy baby or something.

And now I’m going to wrangle babies at VBS. It’s soothing and I probably won’t even think about the sugar balls and choco chums I’m not snacking on.

junk food

And if you don’t understand that reference, then we just cannot be friends.


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