Monday, August 29, 2011

My Tom

If you remember a few weeks/months ago I wrote about how much Taylor, from her red hair to her red rimmed eyes reminded me of Anne.  Please be patient with my posts.  I rarely get more then a few minutes to write of late, so I don't get to go back to proof meaning this post will likely be riddled with errors.

One thing I have learned as the parent of 3 girls is that every child is so very entirely unique.  Now, that concept is not hard to come by, everyone knows that right?  But when you are the mother and you are so very aware that these kids all came from you and daddy, the same parents, the same dna and yet they are so entirely their own person it makes you stand a bit in awe. 

Taylor is my Anne, she is emotional and wants so very much to please, but tends to un-wittingly get caught up in whims that turn disastrous all too easily.  Ayla is not like Anne, she is not emotional, she could care less if she displeases you. After all, adventure is far more important to her then any parental approval. 

Taylor is like Anne.  Ayla? is like Tom Sawyer.

See? She even looks like him!

The girls and I have been reading Tom Sawyer together lately.  I never noticed before just how BAD he is! Funny how something can be just an endearing story, until you read it with your children and all of a sudden you notice all the little evils that you barely brushed past before.  Rather like watching a movie with a parent, you remember it as simply being a good movie, until you watch it again in their presence and realize it is riddled with sexual jokes and bad language that you had not even noticed the first time around.

Tom?  Well, as we know:  "He was not the Model Boy of the village. He knew the model boy very well though--and loathed him." And that about sums up Toms personality!  He lives on a whim, he will commit a crime and although punished, he will look on triumphantly through the lashings because he completed his crime, it was well worth it and no punishment can take that away!  I have no doubt he was constantly dirty and covered in bruises as is Ayla despite my best efforts. 

No tree or rock (or dresser or bookcase) left un-climbed. No dirt left un-touched, no noise left un-made.  Shoes? Who needs them! Mud? Pure heaven. Sticks can be anything you put your mind to and bugs can be the best friend you never knew you were missing. She can and will beat up her big sister, especially if she tattles (which she often does) and yet once cleaned up she has the face of an angle.  Who would suspect such a lovely creature of such mischief, it can't be.  She looks so sweet!


Last night Ayla and I had a battle of wills.  She came into the livingroom, her face covered in make-up. My make-up. There was no question, she got into my make-up and put it onto herself. But when asked, "what did you do Ayla?" Her answer was an innocent "nothing."

Why do parents always have to ask that question?  They KNOW the answer so they are just baiting. Daring the offender to add further offense to their crime.

But like most parents I wanted to hear the true confession from her and not just inform her of her offense and resulting consequences.  So I asked, "where did you get that make-up?"  She looked me square in the face and said "it is Matthew's (her imaginary friend) make-up and he let me use it." 

Now as the parent I am faced with a dilemma.  I have asked her a question, she has lied to my face.  What now? Do I punish the deed and the lie now? Or do I continue to pursue the truth? I chose to find the truth (and felt as I did the wonderful stubbornness God has graciously given me rising up in response to My Tom's challenge).  "No, that is not Matthew's make-up. Ayla is not telling me the truth. I want the truth NOW or you will receive a spanking."

Now, spankings are few and far between in this house. Usually reserved for the biggest offenses with the intent that they NEVER happen again. Usually the threat of one is enough.  Not this time. Ayla was insistent that it was Matthews make-up (to the point I started wondering if she could be telling the truth...) and received several spankings while bravely standing her ground. After going in circles for a while, I knew I had to change my tactics.  I WILL win this, but this method is not working. All I want is for her to tell me where she got the make-up from.  All I want is the truth that I already know.  But I want to hear her say it, I want a confession. 

At this point, it is no longer about the offense. That is long gone. Now it has become a pure battle of wills.  I want her to tell me the truth, she wants to get away with her lie no matter now outrageous it has become. 

Battles like this must really be comical to the on-looker.  Especially as I am trying to keep from laughing myself.  I do not want to spank my child again, in this case it is obviously not effective so I stand and look around the room; pausing to plan my next course of action. I am trying to find the correct currency as Ayla stands, hands on her hips in defiance. 

Let us try stuffed animals, "if you do not tell Mama the truth your big tiger (her "Nini") will go in time-out." she glares at me, "I want Nini to go in time out!" So away he goes. "Ayla, I need you to obey now and tell me the truth.  Where did you get the make-up?" "Matthew gave it to me!" she again insists. "That is not  the truth.  I do not like it when Ayla lies to me.  Lying is not acceptable." (looks around) if you do not tell me the truth ALL your stuffed animals will go in time-out." "I want them to go in time out!"

Alright, I need to change tactics again. Think....think....yes! "Ayla, I will count to three. And if you are not on your feet showing me where you got the make-up from, all your dresses will go away." (Howling) "BUT I NEED THOSE TO BE PRETTY!" Yes! Success, I made my child cry louder, I have found her currency!

How terrible is that? The louder she howls, the more successful I feel. I now feel terrible for feeling so good.  But I started this and I WILL end it victorious.

I take down all of the dresses and put them into a basket so she can see her empty closet.  "Ayla, do you want me to take these away or do you want me to put them back? All you have to do is obey and tell me the truth and they will go right back into the closet.  Are you ready to tell me the truth?" She stands, sniffs and nods. "I took your make-up mama."

Oh thank God, the ordeal is over. 

She takes my hand, walks me to my room where she points out her folly. She is completely calm now, just the occasional sniff. "I'm sorry for lying Mama." I forgive her, she gives me a hug, we talk about how we need to tell the truth.  We are both exhausted. The tiger and other stuffed animals will remain in time-out until tomorrow. Other then that I think we have both suffered punishment enough. Let us now celebrate telling the truth with hurrays and cheerfully return the dresses to their proper place!

I won. That is all that matters.

Lucky for Tom he didn't have me for a mother, or the stories would have been different!

I am glad I have my Ayla.  She certainly keeps me on my toes!  Life would just be boring without her right? And I have learned many lessons from her.  She is very much like me, and we learn some of the best lessons while looking into our child mirrors. I stubbornly hold onto my stories sometimes as God tries to teach me.  How foolish must some of my stories sound to him? About as foolish as obtaining make-up from an imaginary friend? And yet I stick to my guns no matter the consequences.

I have never been a huge fan of Anne. I cannot identify with that character.  Tom on the other hand? I laugh so hard while reading those books, because I understand!  I know the pain of sitting still, the pleasure of manipulation, the joy of being free to run around and get skinned knees and covered in dirt.  That was me as a kid.  Perhaps that is why I am hard on Ayla, I know she can take it.  Because I needed it myself at 3 years old, I got it, I survived and I am a better person for it. 

Ayla will be ok. She has lots of adventures ahead, some painfun and some exciting.  I am only glad I get the privilege of watching her grow. But for now? I have no doubt that the adventures and therefore, the stories will keep on going!

As the author wrote about Tom:

"When one writes a novel about grown people, he knows exactly where to stop--that is, with a marriage; but when he writes of juveniles, he must stop where he best can."
                                                                                               - Mark Twain

Monday, August 8, 2011

Kaylee Anne

Just going to warn you all now - this will be long and possibly put together in sections.

Three weeks old now - I figure it is time I shared her story!

Both big sisters came early.  So of course from the beginning my OB (as well as everyone else) told me to expect early again.  Which of course means I had this feeling she would be two weeks late.  Luckily I was wrong, and so was everyone else! EDD (Estimated Delivery Date) According to LMP was July 21st. EDD according to my OB (or the nurse that for some odd reason wrote it down wrong) was July 22nd.  EDD according to my calculations on when ovulation took place was July 18th.  But since Taylor was 3 weeks early I wanted everything ready by 36 weeks just in case.  The problem when everything is ready that mom is also ready early and baby may have other ideas.

We decided not to find out the sex of the baby this time.  Baby number 3, we have to do something different right? I discovered that I do NOT like not knowing.  Perhaps it is the control freak in me, but I so love being able to say "him/her" before baby is born.  Sure, it is fun to discover the sex on the big day, but no more fun then finding out a few months early. And some of these things are nice to stretch out...not that any of this is really that important to the story.

Anyhow - This was by far my easiest pregnancy.  I was in good physical shape to start (which I highly recommend.) and did not have any of the weird, rare conditions that we had the last two times (Amazing!) was just sick for 25 weeks.   But once July started, I was ready to have this baby!  The baby, however, had other ideas and decided it wanted to sit tight. 'July 4th would be fun' we all said...yeah no baby.  Everyone made their baby.  My guess was July 10...I was wrong.  NO BABY.

"Maybe the baby will be born today!" became the mantra of the house.  The girls got so tired of hearing it I think they believed mom would have a big belly forever..and I was starting to wonder myself.  I was walking 2-3 miles most days, and doing everything I could think of (within reason) to get things going. I started having regular contractions (not just B&H) at about 37.5 weeks so I kept feeling like it really could be anytime.  Some days they would be every 10 minutes for hours, then settle back down again.  I was ready to have the baby, but luckily not anxious at all.  I kept saying I thought it would be a while still because I was not so uncomfortable to be desperate yet. And you have to get to some level of desperation to be crazy enough to go through the pain of labor...on purpose!

I went to a doctors appointment on Wednesday the 14th of July and was already dilated to 3 and 70% effaced.  It was nice to see all these contractions were doing something. The nurse told me she thought it could be anytime.  "Make an appointment for next week." She told the receptionist. "But she wont be here, she wont make it through the weekend." Oh I hoped she was right!

The weekend of the 16th got here and I was feeling very done.  We had said all along that a baby born on Daddy's birthday (the 15th) would be fun. So when the day came and went with no baby I think I reached the end.  The morning of Saturday the 16th we needed something to pass the time, so we went to see Winnie the Pooh in the theater and had lunch with some good friends. Contractions were certainly regular at this point, but still didn't hurt too much.  I was in the same place I had been for 2 weeks.  It felt like it could be today...or next week. 

Saturday ended, still no baby.

I admit I felt kind of foolish.  Here my due date(s) was not even here yet. I wasn't comfortable, but certainly not constantly in pain (like the times before) and yet I was complaining about still being pregnant. I think the waiting was mostly what was driving me crazy.  I could make no plans, I couldn't focus on anything knowing it could be an any minute thing.  But when it is any minutes for 3 weeks...the minutes get longer!

Sunday morning I dreaded going to church.  The cheery "still no baby?" comments made me feel I could possibly commit murder. Ok, perhaps not that bad.  But we are talking about a hormonal pregnant woman here! I looked like I was carrying a basket ball around under my shirt.  A completely round belly all out to the front, getting so low I couldn't sit correctly - and walking looked comical to put it I knew from the various "waddling wife" songs my wonderful husband smugly composed whenever he possibly could.

By Sunday afternoon the contractions had been a very regular 10 minutes apart all day (no matter what I was doing) and I was ready to get this rolling.  I sat on the yoga ball a while that afternoon thinking it would help and they stopped entirely.  So I went on a walk (in 100 degree weather, that is how desperate I was feeling!) and they started up again right away.  We had a pot-luck at my pastors house that night and we figured since there was no real sign this was it for real we might as well go.  Everyone must have thought we were crazy as I kept yelling across the room "Ryan, what time is it?" every time I got a new contraction so he could time them for me. 

By about 6:30 I knew things were progressing.  I had started leaking water and contractions were starting to hurt, but I didn't want to go to the hospital unless I knew FOR SURE this was it. The very last thing I wanted was to be sent home. 7:30ish contractions hit a regular 6-7 minutes apart and were taking real focus at the peek, so we decided it was time to head for the hospital.  I called my mom so she could get on the road, we called my in-laws to meet us at our house to pick up the kids and excitedly got to tell the big sisters that "the new baby was finally coming!"

We got home and as Ryan was loading the car, I was singing the girls their goodnight songs when I got a real gush of water and knew that this was it 100%!

We got to the hospital about 8pm and checked in.  Things still felt like they were progressing pretty slow, contractions took focus but still were not too painful. We told the nurse we wanted to do things natural, that this was baby #3 and so we knew what we were doing, that my mom was a doula and was on her way from LA. They were amazing and let me be only monitored intermittently.  I had to have the IV (group B+) but still had the freedom to move as much as I needed too.  We went on a walk up and down the halls and things started to move foreword.  Once we got back into the room I wanted to sit on the ball and that turned out to be the very best position for me. I could sit and roll and move back and forth as much as needed with Ryan sitting on a chair in front of me so I could lean on him.  About 2 hours into it contractions were pretty painful, but still fully bearable so I felt I still had a ways to go.  I didn't have back labor this time which was soooo nice! I had it both times before and it had made things so much harder. About 2.5 hours in I got on the bed for a moment, I cant remember why and immediately felt a shift foreword in progress.  I started to make noise through the contractions and got sick and threw up.  I can remember thinking "I always get sick at transition, but there is no way I am already 7-8cm.  I have not been at this near long enough!" I got back on the ball and all of a sudden it felt like things were going at record speed.  I focused on keeping sounds low and I think that really helped.  At about 11:15 all of a sudden things changed again and I felt like I needed to bare down.  Again, I thought "there is no way I am already close to a 10! It has barely been 3 hours!" The moment I thought that my mom got there.  I was in the thick of it all at this point and the moment there was another contraction I needed to push again.  I can only describe it by saying that at the peek of a contraction it felt as if the pain was so strong I needed to get it out of me, and had no control over my body pushing it out!

I yelled for the nurse to check me and she said I was at a 9 with a lip.  I couldn't believe it, I was already so close to the end!  My mom said we needed to get me to the bed since I was squatting on the floor at that point and so I made my way over, but the moment I was on the bed it hurt worse so I turned to my side trying to move off again...only to feel a head start to come out! I yelled "The baby is coming!" and the nurse ran out the door to get the doctor...which she should not have done because if I say the baby is coming that means it is coming NOW.  I hear my mom say "Ryan get the head, I"ll check the cord" and so because there were no doctors or nurses in the room at the time, daddy got to catch his baby girl!  By the time the doctor and a team of nurses had made their way back in, the baby was in my arms! 

Kaylee Anne was 5lbs 5oz. and 19inchess and was born at 11:29 pm on Sunday July 17th - half hour before my estimated due date. She must have been in a balloon of water to make such a big round belly on mom for such a little baby! She came out bright pink and perfect.  They were able to do all tests with her on my chest and she nursed great right away.

We had to stay in the hospital a day longer because she had come so fast I did not get all the antibiotics I needed and so we had to have her blood drawn and tested.  Well, a bacteria somehow got into the sample and so they had to keep her to make sure it really was a lab contamination and not something in her. We got the all clear (just something from the lab) and got to go home Wednesday!  While frustrating, it was a small thing to make sure she was ok, especially since she was so tiny.

Here are some pictures taken by Aunty on day 1. Daddy said the hat looked silly because it is too big. I thought it was cute.

tired mom!
proud big sister
so sad
daddy is already being a pest
she is awake
even more tired daddy
See? the hat is cute
she loves her baby sister
so little!
a family of 5!

I promise I will take more pictures soon. She has already changed so much. (I admit i am waiting a bit for the baby acne to clear.)

Now Kaylee is 3 weeks old.  She gives us about 3 hour stretches of sleep at night (though most of it she still sleeps on mom). and a 2-3 hour nap every morning in her swing! She loves her sisters and her daddy and most of all her mom. She likes being outside and does not like her car seat, diaper changes or being cold. She is getting bigger everyday and is finally getting too big for her preemie clothes and just barely fits into her newborn ones.

I'm so happy you came to live with us Kaylee! And as tired as you make me, I can't wait to watch you learn and grow.  I love you so much and I am so very proud to be your mom!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


These crippled limbs may not be healed today
But God will use me in another way.
I am the empathy for those who come to pray
And through my pain they'll hear his call

I cannot walk or talk or run or play
But you respond to what I cannot say
God has a purpose for the way I am today
For as I stumble and I fall.

I teach compassion to us all

I had a vision of the cross today
I saw the Son of God and those who turned away
There was a tiny child who bowed her head to pray
Above the crowd her faith stood tall

You find compassion in us all

If I was born to perfection
Ever searching for direction
Would my life have touched so many hearts?

As you walk with compassion
As the storm of life is crashing
Then the light of love will guide you
Through the dark

So as you pray that I am healed today
His faith will move you in so many ways
If I'm the reason you get on your knees and pray

You will be cushioned as I fall

By the compassion in us all.

- Thaddis (Kuk) Harrell 'In the Arms of the Father'

Rachel with her 7 hour old son Gabriel.  So perfect and beautiful.

 A day and a half old.

"At 12:20AM today (Thursday, August 4th 2011) our dear grandson Gabriel quietly died in the arms of his parents Rachel and Zak. Val, Nancy and Mark (Zak's Parents) were with them as Gabriel passed from his parents arms to the arms of Jesus. In the 40 hours that Gabriel was with us we saw the incredible love between Zak, Rachel and their son Gabriel. They responded so wonderfully together. Zak and Rachel comforted Gabriel and helped him with such care. Gabriel responded to them well beyond what we expected was possible. We want you to know that prayers were answered and God's presence and grace were so evident. Thank you for your love and support."
  - Jerry and Val Reddix
I have always imagined heaven – the place where our children play before they are born, to be the 100 acre wood. Pooh is doubtless there, as are all the rest of them. They play Pooh Sticks and search for Eeyore's tail together. Perhaps that is simply true innocents in my eyes. Kaylee turned 2weeks on Sunday. There is not a bit of doubt in my mind that her and Gabriel were fast friends within that wood together. A regular Pooh and Piglet
I can remember my dad talking once about newborns. He would laugh as one would stare fascinated at a blank wall, transfixed it would seem, on nothing at all. “They are not long enough away from their heavenly home.” he said. “They still have the eyes to see the spectacular. Perhaps it is the Holy Spirit or an angel in that spot right now. Smiling and laughing at God's little one.”

For some reason this gives me comfort every time I see it. Angels all around, protecting us, protecting our babies. I always imagine the angels making silly faces, perhaps playing peek a boo or something equally as ludicrous and un-angelic.

So Gabriel, you are king of the woods now! You got to come visit us for a time and oh how we cherished that time! Know that Kaylee misses you. She told me so. And even if you two didn't get to meet in this life, you will get to play together again. I hear the secret of Pooh Sticks is to drop your stick in a twitchy sort of way – of course you are probably an expert at that! I, who am long from the woods has forgotten you see. So someday, when I see you there, you can show me how it is done. Gabriel, you are beloved more then you will ever know. Piglet actually says it very simply and beautifully to Pooh 
“If there ever comes a day when we can't be together keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever”

Of course within that wood, there is absolutely a Christopher Robin.  And I may get in trouble for writing this, but as the one that knows all and is the comforter to all - I see it as being Jesus.  After all, how often have we in our own lives heard the loving chastise of "silly ol' bear" with our own names fondly inserted. 
I have often seen AA Milne as having been divinely inspired.  Perhaps it is just me.  But I can't imagine God not having had a part in creating those pages.  And through my prayers for Gabriel and for his family (as well as myself, for I feel in myself a loss greater then words can describe) I have felt these words as a comfort from my own personal Christopher Robin. And these words - call it a prayer if you like - I will leave with you, just in case you may find some sense of comfort from them as well. 

"If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you."  - Christopher Robin