Sunday, February 21, 2016

long overdue

Every time that I have an urge to update my blog, I realize that I need 6 days of uninterrupted typing-- which I don't have-- so I post the monthly batch of pictures and then toss the idea and continue to let this thing dwindle away.

But there's been some things worth updating and so I am going to do my best to turn 6 months of life into a cliff note's version.

I think the last that I wrote, Maddox was wrapping up kindergarten and Beckham was wrapping up his last year completely at home, with me.  I was still working from home-- enjoying what was left of the best job that I have ever had...  but all of that was close to changing. 

Maddox rocked kindergarten and we thank God for giving us Mrs T, as it was such a wonderful experience for all of us.  Maddox's class was very close and full of sweet, helpful, kind kids.  On the last day of school, a dad of a little boy came over and bent down to shake Maddox's hand.  He told him that he appreciated the friendship and guidance that he showed his son that year.  We invited that little boy to Maddox's birthday and the family, again, wrote Maddox the kindest card.  I pray that Maddox always carries those traits with him and continues to be kind and helpful to everyone.

The summer was quick. We lost my Meme this summer and dealing with her death was a bit of an internal battle for me.  I felt more anger than grief for the most part as she battled addiction for the majority of my life.  I watched my mom carry the weight of so much stress, and anger, and pity, and hurt, and sorrow.  I remember crying to Lance saying that I felt robbed.  The ugliness that is called addiction, can twist your heart and mind and pull you in different directions as you feel so many emotions at any given time.  I wanted to be sad.  But my sadness was mostly spent in tears for my mom-- which almost spun me right into that battle of being pissed.  Like most things though, with time, I have traded the anger that I felt for other emotions.  I am thankful for the innocence of being children.  I cherish the weekends that I spent with her at her house as a kid-- the way she made my grilled cheeses with tomato soup in a way that no one else could.  I am thankful that she was the type of grandma that let us stay any time we wanted, for the entire weekend, and let me load up in her camper trailer with nothing but the clothes on my back when I asked to go.  I have a heart full of happiness, remembering my brother waking up early at her house, to cross the fence and hunt in the cold months, and I laugh that she somehow made me believe that dusting was fun!  Every morning that I share a cup of coffee with my Beckham, made just the way my Meme made it for me-- I smile.  I have to wonder if he too will not be able to pass the coffee in a grocery store without putting himself right back into that place with me-- just like it does to me, with her.

The summer was also full of swimming lessons, baseball, camping, church camp, carnival rides, drag races, kidney stones, birthday parties, a trip to San Antonio with our cousins and me with my nose in the books any chance that I got.

I took my lactation test in July and I can honestly say that I have never taken a more difficult test; nor have I ever walked away from something so unsure of the outcome.
I was more than happy to find out (3 months later) that I passed.
Becoming an IBCLC was the least of my hurdles, as months later, we are still trying to incorporate this into our practice in a way that is helpful to everyone.

Just as the boys started school, I started back in the office for the first time in 7 years, working 3 days a week.  Beckham started his first week of preschool, completely different than he did last year.  He woke excited to go and ready to fill me in as soon as I picked him up.  Quickly, that changed.  I can assure you that it is no less difficult the second year than it was the first, although this time, removing him from the program wasn't an option.  I went through a period of emotions, from "am I doing the right thing?" to being mad that my position changed and feeling like I was neglecting him, to being irritated with him that he can't get it together.  At times, I wished he would be a fit thrower-- so that there'd be something to discipline but what I get from him consists of quiet tears and hiding his face.  Initially, it was very hard on me.  Honestly, some mornings I still cry.  But the best thing for me was realizing that we were in great hands-- that they were not irritated by him (which is honestly what I worried about the most)-- and that this wasn't my story, it was Beckham's.  We don't give much talk to it, I just expect tears 3 mornings a week. He takes his (stuffed) dog, Snowflake and she gives him some comfort.  We do the best we can.  I didn't create this.  I can't fix it. But as I drive away each morning, I am 100% confident that Mrs Mindy is the best person for our B.  She is a literal God-send.  And together, we all pray that things will be better next year.

The fall was full of a weekend get away to the Elk Ranch, football, planning our house with our architect, and two little ninjas come Halloween.
The fall also brought an exciting surprise, wrapped up in the form of two pink lines.

I keep track of my periods with an app in my phone and I am like clock work; 27-28 days.  I had not paid much attention, but thought that I should probably be starting soon so I decided to open the thing up and much to my surprise, it said, "3 days late".  I had a 88cent pregnancy test under my cabinet from God-knows-when and decided to use it, when I got home.  It was negative.  I tossed it in the trash, with no intention of telling Lance that I had even taken it.  The next morning, I got up and my little test caught my eye-- there were two lines.  I know the rule; Anything outside the time permitted for the test is false, but I was now 4 days late and it was enough to convince me to spend $5 at the Dollar General for another one!  Although it too, was negative.  We left for basketball practice and when we came home, there again were two lines.  This time I told Lance.  He wasn't convinced.  They weren't bright enough for him, plus it took 2 hours to show up.  So finally I splurged on a $15 digital one that neither of us had to hold into the light, or know braille, to figure out.  Lance was at a basketball draft and he came through the door telling about which kids we had on our team-- who all was there-- what night we would have practices-- and I was just staring at him.  He finally stopped and asked why I was looking at him, and I handed him the test.  PREGNANT.  And he was thrilled.

We waited a few weeks to tell anyone.  Christmas would have gotten us out of our first trimester to share our news but my sister's boyfriend had bought her a ring, with plans to propose this Christmas.  So for that reason, Lance and I decided to spill the beans at Thanksgiving and not steal any of her thunder.  Plus, the moment the boys found out that another baby was on the way, keeping it "secret" was less than an easy task!

Winter brought basketball, which has been our favorite sport yet!  We played with 5 other boys that were all sweet and kind and together they were an awesome group.  Maddox averaged about 10 points each game and it has been the first sport that I was honestly sad to see ending.

Beckham is still in gymnastics.  He goes every Monday with his school.  It is a selling point for us on Sunday nights, and sometimes a reason for less tears on Monday mornings.
And sometimes its not.

We also lost an angel this winter in the form or Marianne Pike.
Many times though the years, she would write me after I wrote a blog and encourage me with her words or tell me how much my style of parenting reminded her of herself.  Since I put her on such a pedestal-- those words meant more to me than the way she could turn a "pizza party" into a spread from Better Homes and Gardens, the paintings that she had made for my walls, or the way she made all kids who entered her house feel magical... mine included.
She is greatly missed.

Lance and I, along with my brother and a group of a few other awesome women hosted a benefit for her and another loved woman of our community who is also battling cancer.  People came and loved and honored them through washers, food, beer, and prizes ...and though we had dreams of raising 10K to split between these families--  we more than doubled our goals.  It was definitely a testament to the impact these women have and had on the people here... and also something to be said about small towns and close-net communities.   

February 1, we went for our halfway sonogram.
I was pretty much convinced that it was another boy.
Lance couldn't give you a good gut feeling but could give you equal the number of reasons why he wanted a girl vs why he wanted a boy.
B knew it was a boy.  He had multiple dreams about a baby in a blue blanket and though he had a girl named picked out, just in case (Tic), he didn't need some sonographer to give him the word.  He already knew.
M, on the other hand, had his money on a girl.
As a family we decided, (mainly that we didn't want to read "dang. another boy?!" or "you'll just have to keep trying for that girl" or "team pink" or my favorite, "why are you even going to see... you know it'll be another boy") that it didn't matter to us.  We were not finding out.
Seconds into the sonogram, however, he showed us his glory!
She moved the gadget away quickly, but just as I said, "saw it", while Lance was saying the same.
We told her that it was fine to share the news and she spent an enormous time with the boys, looking over our little lamb, including them in the entire process.
I spent an hour that night crying to Candace.  Less because I didn't want another boy but more because I felt like I had failed in some way.   I don't know how she became that person for me.  But honestly, if my house were on fire and there was someone at the door, willing to come in and drag me out, it would be her.  Consistency, comfort, and non-judgmental love. That's always been her place for me.
Those tears lasted a week or longer after finding out that Beckham was a boy, so I had no idea how long it would take me to feel happy.
Oddly, (and maybe miraculously) it came quick-- and by the next morning, I was excited.
Daily, God shows me why I am suppose to raise boys.  And I honestly know my purpose here.
It doesn't feel like nudges-- but actual neon signs with flashing lights.  And I feel capable of fulfillment for his plan.  I am also honored to live in a house where I am so well loved and adored.  I am happy to keep that trend going.

The boys are ecstatic about our baby boy as well.  Especially Beckham.  He pauses commercials about babies for us to see... he kisses my belly a million times a day, and he can't wait to be the big bother that Maddox is to him.
Now that this little love-bucket is moving and kicking, the excitement has even gotten stronger. 
He has a name, but I want it in stone before I share it.
Or just ask my kids.  They hold no secrets back!

My little sister gets married next weekend in Galveston and we get to celebrate on a big boat for a week with our family.  We also have plans to go camping this spring break, just like the last.
The Zika virus is a big issue right now, with warnings for pregnant women in the areas.  We have spent over $100 with multiple different avenues of protection, just in case, but the more I research-- the less worried I am in that regard.  We are excited for March's festivities!

First grade is flying by and there is not a single thing I can do to slow down the clock.  Maddox is reading on a 4.9 level and acing every subject.  The best part about it, though, is Maddox has no idea he's so dang smart.  His teacher was saying that he finds things before she does and talks in ways that aren't typical for his age... but he tells us how many AR points so-and-so has, what math letter that so-and-so-else has made it to, and how smart the other kids are in his class.  He's such a cheerleader for his friends and I hope he stays that way too.  If I had to choose just one word to describe him, I'd choose JOY.  And over and over, I am told the same thing by people that meet him.

Beckham's teacher's claim that he is kindergarten ready too... although I have doubts.  The child is very bright.  I do not doubt that.  He can build and create things that Maddox could have never dreamt of doing at his age.  He knows his letters, colors, numbers, shapes and can sound out very basic words... but he can only write the letter B when he writes his name.  He has no intentions of impressing anyone-- nor will he push himself, if it isn't in his plan.  Today he might read you the entire Bob book and tomorrow he may say, "no thanks" when you ask him to do it again.  Socially, I pray that he has one of the 3 kids that he knows and has befriended in his class next year, or we might be dipped in kindergarten tears too.
Honestly there isn't just one word to describe B.  Lance said independent.  But seeing that the kid would happily crawl right back into my uterus if it were an option, I had to disagree.  Then he said stubborn, which is fair-- except it has the connotation of difficult, but he's the easiest kid of ever.  He is complex.  Easy.  Reserved.  Anxious.  Smart.   Observant.  Funny.  Loving.  I could keep going.    

One reason that writing this blog became difficult for me is because I knew people were reading.
I like to write the truth, and in the younger years of parenting, the truth often looks like unwashed hair and tears.  I also want to write my heart.  And my heart often spills out the things that only a momma can feel for her own. Love, excitement, praise, and so on.  The problem in that, lies the readers.  Too many hard days have people wondering if you can do it-- or reminding you that it could always be worse... and too much glitter leaves you open to critique.
I honestly feel like I have grown in many ways over the years, and I have let go of a lot of the stress that occurs when you let others row your boat.  One reason is because my kids are over that hump, and the days are typically easier than difficult.  Around the age of 4, I think, you kind of start to get each other.  They can follow simple tasks, like "put your plate in the sink" and "take your toys to the playroom".  They can bathe themselves, and clothe themselves, and even pack their own lunch (if you're willing to fill your fridge with pre- packaged crap like I am)
But also because you finally start getting back some of that, that you have put in.
Recently, Lance and I argued in front of the kids.  Somehow over the last few years, Lance and I stopped having fights. (probably another perk to sleeping more, and not feeling like you are everyone's everything, at every minute of the day)  Don't get me wrong, we bicker and will have disagreements but nothing lasts more than a few minutes.  This day (Valentine's Day) it lasted all day.  I had my feelings hurt, and bit at Lance all day before he finally said, "you're acting like a baby".
You would have thought that he beat me with a broom and cursed me like a dog, when it came to the boys.  Beckham bowed up, willing to fight.  "DO NOT EVER CALL MY MOMMY A BABY!  She is the best momma in the world and she is NOT a baby!"  (that's a trait that I adore about him, but makes him difficult to parent.  He will stand against the grain, accept his punishment, just to address his point.  As long as his moral compass is right, I have a hard time correcting it. Lance, on the other hand, sees it as as defiance and they often will butt heads.  He *might* have snatched that straight from my DNA, so who am I to say it is wrong.)  Maddox started to cry and flood me full of praises, telling me exactly why I am the greatest mom alive.
That night, when Lance and I were rehashing it all working it all out, he said, "it must feel good to know that you can be completely wrong and they both have your back.  They had no problem selling me out at all when it came to seeing you upset."
And that's the first time I confidently knew.
I will never have it all right.  Any of it.  Life itself is complex and full of curves and just as something seems easy, there's a boulder in the road to get around.
But I have put blood, sweat, tears and countless midnight hours of prayer into this job and I am finally able to see my reapings of that I (we) have sowed.
Yet we are starting over?!

So the tears restart.
Not because I am scared to have dirty hair, or not sleep, or fight with my husband again.
but because each time we became pregnant, I had an instant, yet different, love for my boys.

With Maddox, I was scared.
I cried almost daily throughout my pregnancy because I loved him so much and I was so afraid of losing him.
As soon as he was born, it became worse.
Now I was almost solely responsible to keeping him alive and yet there were a million factors that could stand in my way since he wasn't stored within my uterus anymore as guard.  I was winging each moment, at best.  Lance would beg me to sleep but I feared that closing my eyes would take his last breath, so I stared... into his bassinet... like I had a purpose.
That child slept like a lamb from day one, and met every milestone early, almost as if to reassure me that we were doing okay.
He still does that.
He is easy, and respectful, and loving and never struggles at anything.
He meets me with a smile every time we look at each other, and even though I know his daddy is his best friend, he would never admit that in fear of hurting my feelings.  His heart is so forgiving and understanding, and joyful-- which is how he has been since the moment he took his first breath.

Beckham was different.
I think I knew he was my middle child from the word go, so maybe that's our bond... but I have written before that his soul and mine knew each other long before our eyes met.  He didn't sleep but yet I didn't mind it.  I was far less anxious with him and he would stare into my eyes in such an intimate way when I talked to him as if he understood me.  He could find a comfort in my smell that no one else could bring him, and he has always needed me.  His laughter didn't fall from his mouth like Maddox's did, his words didn't come till later than other kids, he didn't care to bond with many people aside from us.  But he was easy.  Quiet, observant, and born with a magnet somewhere deep inside his soul, that keeps his close to mine, no matter where we are.  He is literally part of me.  And I don't know how to articulate that in any logical way. 

And now we have three!

Like I said previously, it didn't take me long to happily accept him into our crew.  Unlike my previous pregnancies, though, I have not had much anxiety or tears.  My body knows what it is doing and I certainly can't give it any further direction.  I feel like Maddox has been such an effective captain on the big-brother-ship and Beckham will fill the shoes just fine, that I only have excitement when thinking about THREE shirtless boys, covered in dirt, sliding down their zipline or shooting BB guns into the creek.  The kicks don't get old and and there's an even bigger joy in getting to share the movement with his brothers.  Lance is what he has always been: helpful, loving, patient and steadfast.
But my immediate feeling that I have had for baby is one of protection.
Which is almost hard to write.
Like a momma boar, I am quick to charge this pregnancy. It is not butterflies and rainbows like the last two, but shanks and arrows and little questions asked.
Not a tear I shed over him having a penis had to do with my feelings for him, but actually for the way that I felt like everyone else received the news of him being a him.
With balls flying, and toy helicopters constantly flying, and boys jumping, I feel like I am in constant "guard-mode" in regards to this little honey.
And oddly it translates over to the biggest issue on my heart, at the time being.

After our sonogram, 3 weeks ago, we loaded the crew back into a room so that Dr Deem could come in and discuss the films.  It was pleasant chaos, since the boys were excited and thrilled to be a part.
She flipped through each of the pictures pointing out that he feet were not clubbed and his skull was developing properly and his size was at 51% and he measured perfect for his dates...
She then casually asked, "did she talk to you about his heart?"  We said no and she said, "okay.  Well we are going to bring you back in a few more weeks when he is closer to a pound to get a better look at it."  She didn't display any worry and I guess I chose to mirror her response because, unlike my typical self, we left without any further questions.  The next day, however, I let it take me over.  Amanda encouraged me to call the office which is definitely a classic Holly-move, but I chose not to.  The honest truth is that I can not change it.  And three weeks is a long time to worry over something that you have no control over.  My friend Jenna sent me a note that said, "Your job is simply to be obedient to God,  God will handle everything else."  So we have.
Until 4:00am this morning when I shot out of bed in such a mess that took hours to get a handle of.
My unconscious prayers aren't even of "fix it" like one should expect, but more, help me accept it ...or understand it, or protect him or something similar... and yet I don't know if it is even anything at all.
My conscious mind (and husband) are reminding me that worry doesn't solve anything-- and everything will be alright.
So that's my fight.
I want to protect him.
I don't want to be coddled.
Amanda tells me that I am difficult to love sometimes because when things get hard, I want to retreat.  I don't want sweet words... I don't want sappy eyes... I want answers. Black and white.  And to be left alone.

And completely different, yet adding to my stress-- is my brother's job.
There are literally less than a handful of people I would take a bullet for.  And to be honest, the only ones on my list that didn't fall from my body, would take it for me, before I even tried to offer myself up.
Weeder is on that short list.
We carry our worries very similarly, and since Lance and I have gone through a layoff (twice) I know that this is the worst part.
The end result is that we all survive.
It is rough and it is rocky and sometimes lonely and feels endless... 
But blessings come from places that you never knew to look.
Bubba Richey didn't know my husband from the man in the moon, but he reached out his hand to Lance and gave him a lift when we needed it.  And now he is one of Lance's best friends.
And someone whom I will forever adore.
We learned to be frugal.
We learned to have fun without going places.
Honestly, life became simpler.
But just like I am sick waiting for Thursday, I know he won't sleep tonight waiting for tomorrow and I will worry about him until I hear news, one way or the other.
And he's not alone.
A lot of our friends are employed through his company and no one is safe.
Morning can't get here soon enough.
For many.

And Thursday can't get here soon enough,
for me.

However if everything falls beautifully, for all of us,
then there is a celebration to be had in the Caribbean next weekend!

Toss some prayers our way, if you've got them.

And sorry for the novel.
Although I am thrilled to be caught up!