Monthly Archives: December 2012

Goodbye, Sweet Friend

Our beloved bulldog, Madison, died tonight.

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I took that picture on Christmas Day.
I knew then (in my heart-gut) that she was dying.
She’d been having some issues for a while, but our vet was confident that we could fix it.
I was hopeful, but still I knew.
A momma’s heart always knows.
But I hated that my last picture of her didn’t look like her.
She looked gaunt and sickly and sad.
I wanted my last picture of her to be one that would warm my heart and make me smile.
So when I asked Marshall to snap this shot, he didn’t even question me a bit.
And I’m glad he didn’t.
I’m glad this moment, full with hope and love and sadness and peace, is one I can see forever.

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When I realized that tonight was going to be her last, I curled up on the sofa and had Marshall put her on my legs.
As a puppy (back when the dogs were still allowed on the sofa), she would crawl up into my ‘knee pit’ and nestle in.
She was also the first one I ever ‘back cuddled’ with.
I’d lie on the sofa and she’d squeeze down behind me with her back on mine.
I still sleep that way with my children sometimes.

Her breathing slowed. Her eyes glassed over.
And I could hear the children still chattering in their room.
I sent Marshall in to get them and bring them out so that they could say their goodbyes.
We all cried a little, but we also told stories about her and we laughed and smiled and loved on her.
Oh, she was such a good dog.
And y’all?  My heart is breaking right now.
As I type, the ache pops right up my chest and leaks out of my eyes.
But I am grateful that it could happen this way – at home, being loved.

I wanted to share some pictures with you but my leaky eyes didn’t allow me to search too far.
This is my favorite one of the two pups back before we had children.
Mad wasn’t thrilled about being a ladybug, but she tolerated it.
You’ll notice that Maggie was having none of this dress-up-the-dog business.

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(Sorry for the poor quality.  iPhone picture of printed pictures never turn out well.)

I also found my scrapbook from the year we got her.
Look how leeeeeetle she was!

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(And how young I was!)

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She used to get up underneath Maggie and bite at her ankles.  Most adorable thing ever.

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My buddies. My first babies.
Our first Christmas with them both.
Hard to believe that was 10 years ago.

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We’ll all miss you, sweet girl.
You were indeed a damn good dawg.

A Letter to the Birthday Boy (a few days late)

We snuggled close at the end of the day, at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Having a birthday so close to Christmas means we’re almost always on the move for your big day. You don’t seem to mind, and I hope you never do. For now it seems like an adventure for you, I think.

You said prayers. And then said them again – not because you were afraid they didn’t stick, but because you weren’t ready to close your eyes and end the day.

After the last “Amen” I asked: So what was the best part of your birthday?

You paused briefly, then crinkled your nose and squinted one eye and cocked your head and smooshed up your little lips (as you do) and said: The playing.

I love that you liked your toys, but I love more that you liked sharing your toys with the others.

In big families, very few things are yours and yours alone. There’s always lots of sharing (or, some days, shouting over) toys. Last night we celebrated your birthday at home and then let you stay up after all the others had gone to bed just so you could play with your toys by yourself. You liked them, but you laughed and smiled more when the others were playing with you. Oh, the lessons I could learn from you, my little one. Joy is even more joyous when shared, or something like that.

Happy birthday, my laid-back lil adventurer.
I love you so.
Love, Mommy


I haven’t written here in a while. I’ve shied away from social media. And from you. Although I’m not sure why. Well, I do know why I’ve backed away from Facebook. They worry me with their Terms of Service. So many people just gloss over them and accept them at face value. Everybody’s on Facebook so it must be fine, right? Marshall tells me I worry about it too much. But the data doesn’t lie. It does, however, sell. The ‘free’ service is far from free, people. And now Instagram, too? Ugh. (And, yes, I am aware that I am beginning to sound like a crazy conspiracy theorist girl.) I like sharing my life with you. I like hearing your feedback – the good and the bad. I feel less alone and more connected when I get comments from friends and when I see you doing your thing – whether it’s travelling the world or raising children or helping people with AIDS or even just posting pictures of cats. (What? Lolcats make me happy.) But I can’t help but wonder what price I’m paying for this.  Could it really be this bad? I believe it could. Do I think that it will? I don’t know. But I know that it makes me a bit queasy when I think of it.

Totally unrelated, I love the new packaging for instant oatmeal. For years it’s told you to add 2/3 a cup of water. Now – right on the packet! – it says fill to this line with water. I’m a fan of one less step.  And only semi-related: why does the peaches-and-cream one need more water than the others?

My children are driving me a bit batty today. You’d think that we’d be used to being together all day every day since we are homeschooling, but when we are “out of school” we don’t have a schedule to our day and no schedule = chaos. And chaos = little patience. Add post-op issues and I’m whipped.

Post-op. *sigh* My surgery went well. (Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and kind words.) I had some post-anesthesia nausea (as I do), but once it dissipated, I felt better. I’ve been sore, but haven’t had any pain. (Warning: TMI ahead.) I wasn’t able to void on my own after surgery, so I came home with a catheter. Not really my preference, but not horrible either. I went back to have the catheter removed yesterday and still wasn’t able to void on my own. I had to learn to self cath. Ugh. Once again, not painful…just very frustrating. The surgery is 92% successful with no complications. Look at me hanging out with the lower 8%.  I have been able to void some, but not nearly enough. And I’m having to self cath regularly to ‘retrain’ my bladder. Fun fun. Please pray that this will all work itself out sooner rather than later!

For two weeks I’m not supposed to lift more than 10 pounds. Which isn’t often a problem…until Alden wants me to hold her.  I hate refusing her that. She’s got a cold and last night she was in bed coughing and wheezing and crying and I couldn’t take it. I made Marshall bring her to me in our bed and I just held her for a while. I rubbed her back and she rubbed my arm while we watched “Eat Pray Love” on TV. Oh, that child…she is certainly the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead. But I love her so. I love them all.  Even on days like this.

I can’t talk about my children without thinking of the children fo Newtown. I feel bad for my response, but when I first heard the news I thought, “Thank God we homeschool.” And then I flinched because this could just have easily happened anywhere – the grocery store, church, the post office, Zaxby’s – places we go all the time and think nothing of it. I am tempted to be frightened of the big, bad world but then I feel like I’m letting fear win and I’m too stubborn and head-strong for that. Of all the things I’ve read about Sandy Hook, this post rang true with me the most. There is much that I could say, even want to say about this horrific situation…but if ever words fail me, it’s now. I find myself praying for the families and my mind wanders to a chant of “Dear God, oh dear God…please keep my babies safe. Please. Please. Please.” Why do my prayers always come back to me me me? Is that something you outgrow? Is there some point of maturity – spiritual or otherwise – when you stop being so egocentric? I start out with thoughts of others, hopes for others, petitions for others…and then my mind gets so crowded and I circle ’round to what I know best: me.

And I write that and I think, “Do I really know me? Am I really that shallow? And self-centered? Are we all?”

When my mind gets crowded, my words get jumbled up and I can’t put them in the right order. I can’t make them say what I want them to say. And so I’ll stop for now and let the crowd die down. Maybe my words will come back when it’s not so loud.

Dry (I Hope)

After Carter was born, I had some serious complications necessitated emergency surgery.
I’ll spare you the details, but it wasn’t pretty.

From that point on, I’ve had problems with urine leakage, and it’s only gotten worse with each pregnancy.

Sometimes even nothing-pee.
It’s been a very frustrating journey.
One that you can’t have until you declare yourself done.

And though my heart could hold a hundred babies, my body and wallet cannot.

So today, I finally, after eight years, am getting this fixed!

I’ve actually seen the procedure done, back when I shadowed a doctor several years ago, so I know it’s a simple enough procedure.
I’ve been told that the recovery is quick and easy for most people, and the success rate is high.
(If you had problems with this procedure or know someone who did, don’t tell me. I’d rather not know at this point.)

I’m headed to the surgery center now, and they said no makeup or jewelry. They said nothing about nail decor, so I hope they’ll leave this:

If I have to have my lady bits all up in the air, I can at least have cute toenails, right?


Yes, I know I have weird toes, especially the little rolly-out one on the side,but toes are weird anyway.
Also? This is the second and probably final time my feet will ever be on the internet. You’re welcome.

Picture Perfect

Last week we tried to do Christmas pictures.
It ended like this:

I almost deleted every single one of the pictures I took that night and decided not to.
One day I’ll laugh at how crazy it all was.
(Heck, I already laugh about it.)

So I kept my eye out for a day when everyone was in good form (which is pretty rare around here).
Yesterday morning we were all laughing and giggling and having fun and I thought, “This is it! Go! NOW!”
I promised a picnic and ice cream if they’d take pictures.
(I am not above bribery.)
And so we did.
And they did great.

Oh, I also promised they would get to take pictures, too!
And although I love the pictures I got of all of them, my absolute favorites are these I snapped on the way back to the car.

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.   ~Robert Brault


A Prayer for Peace

Your heart calls out for Peace, but she is farther away than you’d like.
You call to her, but she can’t hear your tired, hoarse voice.

For you, friend, I pray:
That Peace will turn to you and illuminate your face, your heart, your life.
That the darkness will retreat, even if ever so slowly.
That the cold hardness begins to thaw in her glow.

Peace be with you, in you, and around you.
Forever and ever, my friend.