Friday, August 29, 2008

Was that really two weeks?

Did'ja ever notice that when things are the busiest, life seems to take off out from underneath you and SPEED past at light speed? I remember distinctly telling Jon and Kelsey something to the effect that the last 45 days in Germany would pass quicker than they'd ever imagine, but I certainly do NOT remember anyone telling me how quickly life would fly by once we were here, settled in, and "calmed down".

Where did the last two weeks go?

In the space of just fourteen days, we've brought a newborn home from the hospital, brought a soldier "home" from basic training, said a tearful goodbye to a cat that we've had longer than four of our children, and spent a full six days trying to keep track of which of our family members were in the middle of Tropical Storm Fay's deluge on Florida....not to mention the countless friends who have been affected since she breached Florida's borders!

It's only now, though, that we're realizing how quickly everything happened over the last two weeks. Routines are being established with the new baby, Pete is going back to work next week, and I finally am finding space in my fridge between all the leftovers of meals that were provided to us by folks at church (and other friends here in town).

I read something today that I've seen before several times but it never really clicked in my mind till today: "Life is lived forward, but understood backward". How true that is! Sad that we spend so much time looking back at the brief moments that speed past us. However, I think it may be sadder still if we spend that time in regret, instead of learning from the trials, blessings, and yes, even the chaos.

One of the lessons I learned while I was in the hospital after Shelby's birth was the value of slowing down and just taking everything in. When Dani was born, a herd of elephants holding the front doors shut couldn't have kept me from leaving that hospital just 24 hours after she arrived. I had things to do...I was tired of being cooped up and "imprisoned" in the hospital, and I would have jumped out the window to get away because I wanted to get home and get on with life. I pretty much kept up that pace until Shelby was born, and it exhausted me to the bone. The night of Shelby's birth, my body (and mind) finally yielded to the pent-up exhaustion. I'd had a relatively pain-free (hey, epidurals are our FRIENDS, girls!) labor, an easy delivery, and (aside from my completely numb and lifeless right leg for the first four hours) seamless recovery. But WOW did I hit a wall that evening! My nurse encouraged me to take full advantage of the time Shelby had to be under observation in the transitional nursery (and to take advantage of the wonderful pain medication they offered me) and just REST. I did.

That rest was the best rest I've had in......well, years. I didn't sleep all that well, because let's face it, when you're getting your blood pressure monitored once an hour, having nurses come in and poke and prod in areas that you'd just rather they leave alone, and the lab tech Dracula comes in to invade your veins in the wee hours of the morning, sleep isn't something you can get much of. But just resting...sitting in a quiet, dark, peaceful room with no one but the Lord to keep you's amazingly restful. And very rejuvinating.

After that period of rest, I was no longer in a hurry. It didn't bother me one bit that the doctors wanted to keep both of us the full 48 hours; it didn't affect me at all that life beckoned on the outside and that Pete and the other kids had "places to go, people to see". I spent a great deal of time doing nothing, and it felt GREAT. I chit-chatted with nurses. I made small talk with consultants who came from every possible walk of life to offer me their services and a few minutes of their time. I took note of every detail of Shelby's little face. For the first time, I just drank in every minute of life.

It's a good thing, too, because those minutes disappeared quicker than I could keep track of. They're gone forever; but I've learned SO much from them! Oh, by the way, that "still, small voice"? It's there. And after thousands of years, that voice still says,

"Be still, and know that I am God."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It was only a matter of time

We've had such an amazing string of good fortune these last few months, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I'm just thankful it wasn't something "bigger", although this did break my heart.

I had to rush to the animal hospital yesterday with a barely-breathing 14-year-old cat clinging to my lap and gasping for air. It did not end well. My sweet kitty Cleo is gone, after a few hours of labored efforts at getting air into her fluid-logged lungs. The vet's short answer for what happened was extremely advanced heart disease.

It still hurts.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's about that time again

Soon visions of giggly little girls happily splashing in our teeny inflated backyard pool will be replaced with visions of giggly little girls sitting amongst piles and stacks of books, crayons, scissors, paste, and......chemistry sets.


Yep, this year marks a new oddity for our family. We will have both a kindergartener and an eleventh grader hitting the books as the new school year begins. It's time for refocusing. The move from Germany is now far behind us, we're [mostly] settled in (with the unfortunate exception of the six boxes left in the master bedroom that just refuse to unpack themselves, the blasted things!), and the first glimpses of Fall are starting to peek through all of the deep, dark green that surrounds us.

I was nowhere near ready to begin our new homeschool year when the public schools started back at the beginning of the month. It was just far too crazy still here in our house. But then again, we've always started school right after Labor Day, so why break the trend?

Where's my planbook? OOOOOOOOH!!! I need a flashy new pen! Check it out, I can go to Office Depot now! Oh, and Wal-Mart, Staples, Hobby Lobby.....

Monday, August 18, 2008

The circle of life!

I can almost hear Elton John singing in the background, can't you? Visions of Simba and Mufassa watching the sunset on the savannah...combined with the new sight of my hubby sitting on the couch patting our newborn while our son dons a uniform to go to

What an odd weekend that was! Last weekend, we had four children at home, but this past Saturday, we finally had all SIX, and it really was a bit surreal. Pete and I had never imagined in our wildest dreams that we'd have a family this size, but we are just so thankful that we've been blessed with each and every one of them. Even with all their "issues". Sleepless nights (up with the newborns AND worrying about the teens), potty training, temper tantrums, colic, picky eaters, nitro-powered ADHD flurries of motion and endless activity, more temper tantrums, sibling squabbles, snotty noses, lost hairbows and stepped-on Lego blocks; I'll take all of it a hundred times over. I wouldn't trade this life for anything.

As "easy" as it was to transition into life with a newborn again, we never really saw this new phase of life coming as quickly as it did. We fully expected to have Jon still at home when this baby came into the world, but he (and the recruiter) had other plans. The "kid" we picked up from the airport on Saturday was no child. Our oldest is now a man, and that is, to say the least, a bit WEIRD. He stands taller, walks with a purpose, and has no time for laziness anymore. He can hold his own in real, adult conversations. He spent several hours discussing online banking, cell phone plans, and car insurance with his dad. Gone is the talk of doing something reckless for the sake of adrenaline rushes. This is a young man who understands how to savor life--not to mention a really good Reuben sandwich! Much different from the boy we saw walk away from us at the airport in Frankfurt two and a half months ago.

Pete had one of "those" moments yesterday too, so it wasn't just me ruminating the oddities of our new life with an adult child. After taking Jon to the barracks to sign in and get set up here, on his own and apart from the "home" he's known for the last eighteen years, Pete walked back in the front door noting how life had finally come full circle for us. You see, eighteen years and one month ago, a gangly Private First Class arrived in Huntsville to begin training here on Redstone Arsenal. A month later, his wife and four-month-old son moved up from Florida to be with him. Now Pete is an instructor at that same school, and the four-month-old baby? Well...take a look:

Friday, August 15, 2008


Shelby Grace!
Born just two days after our computer decided to inconveniently crash and leave us without any means of sharing pictures, this little girl made her entrance into the world almost three weeks early, after what amounted to a seamless and amazingly uncomplicated induction.

We're all doing fine, and you wouldn't know that we just added a sixth child to our brood if you were to analyze the activity levels in our household--little Shelby slid right into family life without even the slightest speedbump! It's true, the more you have, the easier it gets. Truly. Although we do still laugh that we have to go through the step-by-step Newborn Care 101 quick-course every time we're discharged from the hospital. This time, it was a six-month-pregnant 23-year-old first-time-mom nurse giving the intro for us. Somehow that made it even funnier!

I'm sure that after tomorrow, I'll have, oh.......a dozen or two pictures to add with Shelby's oldest sibling in his crisp, shiny, new Army duds after Jon comes home from basic training, but for now, I'll just share what I do have--little snapshots into our life as it is, right now.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Itty bitty critters

It seems as if the first couple of months settling in here in Alabama have found our lives just chock full of little teeny creatures. I'll spare you the details of the SPIDERS (eww.....) that seem to inhabit every corner of everything. It's indeed been a while since we've had to deal with bugs. Oh, and just as an aside, contrary to what one may believe, Germany is not overrun with German roaches! Back on task....

One of the first things Pete and I noticed as we inspected our new house was that we have rather CLOSE neighbors. They actually live in our carport! What we first thought to be a wasp nest turned out to be a well-built swallow nest, and lo and behold, there were babies in it! They weren't really happy about their new neighbors, and on several occasions the mama and daddy birds summoned up a little swarm of their peers to let Pete know just how disgusted they were that he would have the audacity to park in their carport!

At any rate, though, we had about three weeks with our chattery little neighbors before the babies fledged. Now the neighborhood rooftops are patroled by a whole new shift of swallows!

The other teensy addition to our household is a more permanent resident. While Pete and I were getting all of our signing-in, lease-signing, and setting-up done up here in Huntsville in the middle of June, Kelsey and Morgan stayed with Grandma in Florida. They came across a stray kitten being attacked by another cat and true to her genes, Kelsey decided that we HAD to save him. She and Grandma took little "Booger" to the vet to be treated for an eye infection and to get a once-over plus his kitten shots, and when I brought all of our girls home a week later, a little black and white "baby" came home with us!

I was not thrilled with the name Kelsey had picked out for this little creature--something about the girls telling folks at church all about their "Booger" didn't sit right with me. We tried out several names, then finally after his brute personality surfaced along with a very obvious dorkiness, we settled on calling him Ty. Anyone who has ever seen video footage of the infamous Mike Tyson ear-biting and even a single episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition with Ty Pennington running amok all over the jobsite will "get it".

The Ty monster is fitting in pretty well--even with the two other critters in the house. Ginormous (compared to Ty, anyway) Jake isn't really all that thrilled about the miniscule little ball of fluff and claws that takes every opportunity to attack him, but we already knew that this 90-pound mutt was pretty much just an overgrown baby anyway. No, Jake hasn't taken a single nip at the kitten. All he does is howl like he's being dismembered when Ty goes after his ears/legs/tail. We couldn't ask for a better cat-dog!

Cleo, our 14-year-old queen of the roost, isn't a bit pleased to be sharing the planet with Ty, but she ALLOWS him to share the windowsill, the foot of the bed, and the water dish. He does have a nasty habit of trying to get a tad too close, though, and Cleo always responds with a good swat atop the head.

As for other itty bitty critters.....still no [human] baby, and it looks now as if I may not have to have as much medical intervention as I thought! All the not-so-fun health issues have mysteriously cleared up, and baby and I are completely healthy--albeit a tad miserable in this steamy Southern summer heat! I'll hit the 37-week-mark on Sunday, and since I've never actually made it to my due date (even when medical science didn't intervene), I'm sure we'll get to meet this nameless little girl fairly soon!

Friday, August 1, 2008

The name game, version 6

We've not really had an "easy" time naming any of our children, but when a name suddenly felt "right", we knew to stick with it. Well, suddenly now after how many weeks of being set on Stefani Kate, it just doesn't feel right. Especially since we got to see this fat little face a couple of weeks ago during the only 4D ultrasound I've ever had--she's just not looking like a Stefani! See?This little pudge (and this was at 33 weeks, mind you, she was already quite the chubster two weeks ago!) looks just like big sister Morgan, but with more 'fluff'. She's got the Harker brow, Morgan and Kelsey's pudgy little nose, and some seriously fat cheeks for a 33-weeker! When I had my doctor's appointment yesterday, the doctor did another ultrasound and even HE said she's a chunk!

Anyhoo, we're still set on using Pete's grandmother's name for her middle name, and that's Kathleen. Now it's just settling on a first name that has us stumped! I detest not "knowing" what a baby's name is, but this one may be a lot like Kelsey in that she gets her name the minute we look at her in person!

Guess what I found?????

MY CAMERA CABLE AND CHARGER!!!! And in, of all places, the front closet where Pete's keys "live" when they're not in his pocket. Right there, in plain sight, on the very top shelf. Funny. I was in there looking for a set of valances I've still not found! Is there a black hole sucking in stuff that I'm looking for?

WOWSERS there is a ton of blogging to be done with all of these pictures I've accumulated!! But first things first, let me show you how far we've come in the weeks.

From this (checking in at the Frankfurt International Airport on June 13th)
To this (trying desperately to keep the monstrous box mountain OUT of the house while awaiting pickup of the discarded cardboard)
To this (Ahh, sweet least for SOME of us!)
It's nice to have my camera capabilities back!
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