Am I allowed to say that?

Am I allowed to say that?

I don’t know where I stand. 

I don’t have a political passion. I don’t know what I think. I step back and take it all in. And I am not eager to jump in and scream alongside either group of nuts. Yes. That is how most of it looks to me–you’re all nuts. 

To be completely honest, I don’t see much difference between the extremely loud, self-appointed spokespeople on either side. But there are always a few quieter souls on each side, who speak wisdom and sense. And these are my people. 

Back in the early 90s when I was 12 years old, I listened to my 12 year old peers mouth loudly about “their” political views. I remember on one particular occasion, one friend said about a candidate, “He’s completely ignorant! He’s been quoted as doing a complete 180 on so many issues.”

Is that ignorance? To see both sides of issues? But isn’t ignorance…not knowing? The more information I gather, the more I understand both sides–the harder my decision becomes to choose where to stand. Which group of nuts? THAT is ignorance? Indecision?

And then my most respected, favorite teacher responded that she sees the wisdom in changing your mind. I always find myself somewhere very close to the middle, yet somehow always strategically positioned away from both sides. Yes, both. 

Every major decision/position becomes more difficult for me the more I read both sides of the actual issue, after filtering through piles and piles of fear propaganda, which inevitably floods both sides. Yes, both. 

I just want to back away slowly to some third location. No marching, no signs, no political memes, no snark, no anger, no gloating, no mocking, no blaming, no rudeness…just…over here. Looking for an actual action to engage in and not merely the appearance of positive action. 

I’ve read some and watched some and thought some about what life was like in the U.S. for the slaves and the brave few who risked their lives to help them. And also about the Jews in Nazi Germany and the brave souls who helped them. 

I would be one of those brave souls if I lived in those times, I’ve always told myself. Probably many of us thought this same thought. But…would I have been? Would you? Would we? 

And what about now. Are there opportunities to be brave and do something real? I don’t mean walking around with posters or laughing at memes or social media activist arguing or blog posts (tongue in cheek) or yelling that someone else is ignorant. 

Who is being brave? I don’t mean loud. I mean real action. Who is brave? Am I? Are you? Are we?

I’m not.

I had a complete stranger bark at me the other day that I should “just keep on making those babies” and just keep on “adding more people to an overcrowded world.” She loved to dictate what I should be doing with my life, and I certainly could’ve returned the favor. 

You know…it is overcrowded in my 1800-sq ft house when I have all of our 8 children here. My children are fed, loved, housed, clothed, but yeah it’s a little crowded. Should I stop feeding them to feed someone else? Could we find a space to take in more people? I considered it. 

And how about this stranger who wanted to ridicule me? Is this girl brave? Not married, no kids, screaming at me, a stranger to her, about our social obligations. How many people is she personally responsible for feeding and clothing and housing? If only herself…then is she at least signed up to host some of the Syrian refugees? Let’s hope so. 

She had already decided she would not have any kids out of social responsibility. This announcement was possibly meant to make me feel ashamed of my large, blended family. It did not. But it did make me wonder how many people she was feeding and housing between her selfie posts with perfectly applied makeup and styled hair and her angry, dictating  rants directed at strangers…who was she feeding…

So how many of my friends have signed up to host a refugee family? How many of you? Be proud of your decision. Let us know you are one of the brave ones.  Show others how they can sign up, and if not host…where do I meet you to volunteer for a worthwhile cause where people are doing something, not only complaining?

I filled out half of the “register to be a host” form, and then stopped. Will I go back and finish signing up? I might. You don’t know me. I just might. 

I probably won’t. Should I myself host…or should I pick out strangers that I think should host, and sign them up…

One link to get information about hosting refugees…

https://paih.typeform.com/to/dl4g60?

And now for myself… 

<Google search–birth control…what…is…that…>

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Worth: a melody is like a memory

Worth: a melody is like a memory

December 17, 2016…

“Go inside!” The sky shoots tiny knives of sleet at us. Keith runs to the back of my van to get my groceries out and carry them inside. 

“I can get some of these.” I start to reach for the bags. 

“No. I got it. Get the baby and get inside.” He’s not even wearing a coat. Will I go soft and forget how to take care of myself? I obey him. 

If you don’t know what it feels like to be an ordinary girl in sweatpants with your hair wadded on your head, and have a man fall over himself to treat you like you’re a celebrity beauty queen…I hope one day you get to know that feeling. 

Everyone deserves to feel that. Don’t settle for being treated like you are only ordinary…because someone will see your royalty.

________________________

January, February, March 2015 (right before I met keith, some of my old sad bastard Facebook statuses italicized)

Oh bills and laundry! You are so loyal and steadfast. You will never leave me. Always home waiting on me, no matter how much I neglect you and curse you. You are so true and dedicated to me. Forever.

__________________________

All vices are chains. And no person quite fits in the heart hole. So go ahead and trade one set of chains for another set, and choose to never see that. Stand still alone, breathe slowly, have the discipline to choose no excess, then every bullet will hit the force field and clink to the floor. It’s not a sad realization, it’s not angry, it’s not ignorance. I see it, and I do care. Always see, always hear, always care, probably too much. But no bullet can actually reach me or hurt me. Fill that hole with God, and that’s the only, only, only true freedom. Chains drop.

__________________________

Dear God…please help me keep my skin tough, heart soft, mind sharp, eyes open, spirit strong, and mouth shut.

____________________________

I’m having one of those days where you like…you think about the night before, and remember how you drank a huge bottle of wine and made some hilarious jokes that you don’t remember, and then you wake up and get to your step study Bible group at 8:30am. And you think about how many times you’ve drastically contradicted yourself in the past week, and then you feel the need to let the world know…yeah, I need to handle my shit. 


Don’t be hypocrites and act like you don’t all do this too. See you at church. See YOU at the club.

_____________________________

Dropping bombs in groundhog holes. I am the sun, no shadows for anyone. In good news–Full moon in Leo tonight. We run this. I can have fun in the cold.

______________________________

Cheers to you,Taylor Swift, lyrical genius, mind-reader, blaring you now. Push the clean laundry off the bed and onto the floor, eat Skittles for supper. I’m an adult. Buy cheap, one-ply toilet paper because I like it, put the silverware in the dishwasher handles up because I don’t want a fork to poke me, leave every light on, buy ungrated cheese because it tastes better, never lock doors, throw away every twist tie and every lid to everything because it makes life faster. My ways have always been better. 

#feelsawesome

____________________________

You are so lonely. Be honest. It’s eleven on a Saturday, and you’re scrolling through the newsfeed liking everything and smiling about every friend. You played a game where you had to post a picture of a baby animal. Who does that?

You looked up the setlist for Garth’s Tulsa concert and had your own little concert of one. But only played the gut-wrenching ones, no fast ones. You wiped snot on your jeans more than once. Admit it. 

Your toes are going numb. You should put socks on. But who cares? There is no one in this bed to be bothered by these cold feet.

You’re not the boss of God. And you can tell him exactly what he needs to make happen in your life, but he knows better than you what lessons you need. So accept them. Don’t wish today away. Embrace your now.

Or what? Trip over all the sad suitcases in your past? Hold hope for the future? If I just knew some of the keypoints, God, I could endure all this much better. How does it end up?

Someone needs you now. Most of them call you Mom. No, not you. Me.

I am lonely, but I’m not vulnerable. I hold a hand that no one sees. But you all do see. Take this paltry patchwork. It doesn’t have to make sense to you. It’s the scraps pieced together.

___________________________

“God doesn’t exist to help our lives turn out the way WE want. He exists to help US turn out the way HE wants.” (Celebrate Recovery last night) #WORKinPROGRESS #LIFEisMESSY #GODisGOOD

_____________________________

I need a man to take out the trash; I need a man who wants to talk to me all day long; I need a man who wants to wash my car; I need a man who makes me laugh; I need a man who mows my lawn; I need a man who is smart and keeps me on my toes; I need a man who is athletic with me. Annnnd it’s really probably best if all these guys don’t know about each other.

____________________________

If you’re married or in a serious relationship, be so proud of that. Hold onto her with all your might, only think of her good qualities and your faults; it’ll keep you thankful and humble. 

Post a profile pic of you two having a nice time; that means sooooo much to girls. Never private message another female; there’s rarely a reason a married or involved man ever needs one private word with a woman he’s not married or related to, be respectable.

 Never do or say one thing you wouldn’t if she was right with you, have integrity. Want to stand out as an awesome guy? Treat your woman like a queen, not many guys do. Praise publicly, pray privately for the changes you would love to see.

Be so, so careful with every thought and word and action. I’ve been on just about every road a person can be on. Adulterers are a dime a dozen. Loveless lust is cheap and common and nothing at all special. A man (or woman) with a pure heart and mind…that’s a rare treasure.

And single people, try your best not to behave as a stumbling block. When I trip up, which happens a lot, I have about 4-5 different friends who will text me and tell me that it looks like I’m seeking the wrong kind of attention. Sitcoms lie. Being single sucks. It’s boring and lonely. But it’s only right for all of us to behave respectably too.

And if someone saunters into your personal space, and you’re a taken man/woman…run away. You’re not special and she’s not either. Put your arms around your woman as tight as you can. 

It doesn’t matter how big your muscles are or how toned your legs are; if you wrap them around the wrong person, you aren’t special.

If you’re thinking or saying or doing something you know is wrong, just stop. That’s all. Just stop. 

I’m awfully bossy tonight. And every night. 

#beRARE #beingSINGLEisNOTglamorous #dontLOSEaDIAMONDchasingGLITTER #takeANhonestLOOKatYOURSELF #HUGyourSPOUSEforPUTTINGupWITHyou

__________________________

God sees your worth. 🙂

A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked. “Who would like this $20 bill?”
Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you – but first, let me do this.” 

He proceeded to crumple the 20 dollar note up. He then asked. “Who still wants it?” Still the hands were up in the air.

“Well,” he replied, “what if I do this?” He dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. “Now, who still wants it?”

Still the hands went into the air.
“My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.”

Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless; but no matter what happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. 

Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who love you. The worth of our lives comes, not in what we do or who we know, but by …WHO WE ARE.

You are special – don’t ever forget it. 😉
_________________________

Shovel the ice from my driveway, shovel the ice off my heart. Oh, hm…too much too soon for you? Go away then. I’m feeling…not enough, not soon enough.

I am not filling a void. I filled that heart hole with the only thing that fits and fills it the right way–love for my God. So anything I have to offer is all overflow now. I am a whole, complete person, and I take each step with a careful wisdom that I’ve never known til now.

I didn’t know what I wanted or needed. I knew what I didn’t want or need. It is possible to have an Inception-esque, exponential level of connection and possible to cover 8 years of conversation topics in 2 weeks. That’s possible. That is happening. 

Buckle up. Hold on.





Glorious Chub

Glorious Chub

When did I love you less? Never. 

How many times have I stretched a baby sock over a freshly lotioned, plump pink baby calf? With four older sisters, Rebekah, you know it was many, many, many times. 

I would circle my finger around inside your little sock. It gapped so drastically. Rubbing the tiny knob of your ankle, watching your soft skin roll and wrinkle as I easily slipped the sock back off, I would kiss your long thin toes as they curled onto and gripped my finger.  

A long, skinny 5lbs and 10oz, I usually dressed you in long-sleeved, footed outfits or in many layers, not because I was ever ashamed of you; please know that it was never that, but because I wanted to protect you from any raised eyebrows, from whispers of concern, from tight-lipped smiles, from critical eyes. People can be cruel. 

Your wide eyes were glazed with fatigue at times, not always, but even once a week was too much. You fought sleep  sometimes, even when we knew you were exhausted. 

You will never know how many hours your dad would patiently rock you, slowly massaging, warmly snuggling, securely pressing you into his safe chest. Hours and hours, leaving his hand in your crib with you because you would wake if he tried to sneak away. Your strong, delicate fingers wrapped tightly around his thick finger, but he cannot deny that he was the one who was wrapped. 

______________________

You slap my face with your chubby hands, throw your head back smiling, then head butt me as you pull my head toward you, slobbering all over my face as you cover  me with the messiest, sweetest kisses.

In two days, you will be 9 months old, and this morning while I watched you laugh as you splashed water onto your fat face in the bathtub, I decided I needed to weigh you again. 

Whoa…19.1 lbs of glorious chub, I was elated to see that. But just so we are clear–this scale has never weighed, and could never weigh, my love for you or your worth as a baby. 

You are so curious about Audrey’s kitten Carly, and she is curious to know you too.

​​


 Morning babies, playing hard.


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​​​​​​

YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY GIRL!!





Did you…

Did you…

Did you think you weren’t my favorite daughter? Because you were. You were, you were. 

Please don’t ever think that. 

_____________________

“I hate you!!!! I hate you, Mom!!” Her feet are close to the edge of the broken floor tile. Her face is red rage and tears. 

“You can’t act this way, and it’s my job to make sure you know that.” I pick her up and carry her to the dining room and place her firmly on a chair. She doesn’t know that I’m getting her foot away from the tile. She doesn’t know that I’m getting her 4-year-old eyes out of the kitchen. 

“Aaaaaaaaa!!!!” She swings and kicks her legs so much that the chair bounces around.

“You. Better. Quit.” I kneel down in front of her, place a hand on either side of the chair to steady it. My face is calm. My heart is racing. She looks away first. 

“I hate you!!” She screams to the back of my head as I walk into the kitchen. I put a new, clean trash bag into the trash can and bring it back to the dining room. 

“Take off your new dress and put it in here. You will not be allowed to scream at me and hit and kick me wearing this dress I just bought you.” I hold the trash can out toward her. 

“I don’t care! I don’t want it! It’s ugly!” She takes it off and throws it in the trash. The giant jewel on the top of the dress hits me in the knuckle; I clench my jaw. 

“You won’t need this baby doll with a matching dress either.” I pick up her doll off the table and drop it into the clean trash bag. 

“I don’t care.” She opens her mouth slightly again, then closes it. Crosses her arms. 

“What’s it going take? Because I can keep going.” I can’t keep going. I can’t, but I will. 

My methods are probably all wrong. I don’t know what I’m doing. We don’t usually say it, but most moms…we think it. We don’t know what we are doing, or if it’ll work. 

I pick up her new iPod touch, drop it loudly into the trash, never looking away from her eyes. She doesn’t care. I don’t know what else to throw away. I don’t know how to break her rebellious attitude. 

Freddie bounces his way into the dining room, unwittingly. Her sweet, fluffy gray kitten. He bats at a dust particles swimming around in the light from the bay window. I scoop him up. 

Her eyes look worried.

“I guess you won’t be needing your kitten either.” I place him gingerly onto her dress in the trash can. 

“NO!! Please NOT Freddie! I’m sorry.” Her sob changes, her voice softens. “I’m sorry, Mom. I’m sorry. I don’t hate you.”

She reaches for me. I can’t pick her up fast enough. I fold my arms under her baggy Dora panties. Her tiny butt rests on my forearm. 

We bend down together and pick up Freddie. He’s not worried. He wants down so he can attack the dust again. 

I collapse onto her chair and we hold on and rock each other. Paper mache streaks of snot-glazed hair.

Shh, shh…you are my baby forever. You are my favorite. 

I hold on. I rock. I think of all the things we never did do together, all the things I should’ve done better…

____________________

If you think a person can’t have five favorite daughters, then you obviously don’t have five daughters.

Two spoons: Congenital Hypothyroidism, video timeline

Two spoons: Congenital Hypothyroidism, video timeline

I keep an unorganized mental log. I have vivid memories, especially of the emotionally-charged moments.

I decided to share some more video clips and notes about my daughter, Rebekah Ruby Kate (currently 7 months old)

Born on February 15, 2016

Born at 39 weeks 6 days

Weighed 5lbs 10oz (my 5th daughter)

Rebekah had velamentous cord insertion (cord attached to amniotic sac instead of placenta). Because of her abnormal cord attachment, she had IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction), and she was also SGA (small for gestational age).

Tiny and perfect to me. She has had some health setbacks, but she faces them with the sweetest temperament. They don’t subtract one ounce from her perfection to me. 

Rebekah had abnormal thyroid levels (elevated TSH) at 1 week old, 4 weeks old, 13 weeks old, and 16 weeks old. But because her thyroxine was always in range, and because I had read extensively about the differences in the hormonal profiles of SGA babies…we waited. 

We chose not to start Levothyroxine until she was 16 weeks old. 

Before 25mcg Levothyroxine…

February 16 (one day old)…

March 19 (one month, 4 days, 6lbs 15oz)…

April 8 (almost 2 months, 6lbs, 6oz )…

Rebekah lost 9oz of weight between week 5 to week 8. My milk supply was low, and I had to fight hard to continue breastfeeding, something I never had to do with my other 4 daughters.

I tried fenugreek, pumping, coconut oil, lactation cookies with Brewer’s yeast, ground flax, tons of water, chia seeds, coconut water…you name it.

And when she was 10 weeks, and had gained her 9oz back on only breast milk, I finally started supplementing with goat milk. I would still pump daily as well. 

May 17 (3 months, 2 days, 8lbs 14.5oz )…

May 22 (3 months, 7 days, 9lbs 8oz)…


June 2 (3 months, 18 days, 10lbs)…

June 6 (3 months, 22 days, 10lbs 8oz)…


I did feel that she was doing well with all her milestones without starting Levothyroxine , but we agreed to start it when she was 16 weeks old.

I put all her thyroid level results on this paper, including the lab ranges which are different.



SHE STARTED 25mcg LEVOTHYROXINE ON JUNE 8, 2016 (16 weeks old)…

We crush her pill between two spoons, every morning. We mix it with about an ounce of apple juice or water. 

We read in the drug’s instructions to take it on an empty stomach. This is quite a feat with an infant. For the first 3 weeks, we would feed her at 9pm; she would wake herself around 12am to eat; then we were waking her at 3am to eat, then waking her again at 5am for her med, and then she would wake at 6am ready to eat again. 

Pretty much…we didn’t sleep. 

Then on June 30, when we met her endocrinologist for the first time, she told us she tells her parents they can just give it with a feeding. 

Well hallelujah. So then we would just let her wake us. 

Rebekah developed torticollis (her head leaning right) almost immediately after starting Levothyroxine. I looked up anything I could to find out if there was a connection.

I only found that muscle aches were sometimes a drug side effect. So we decided they weren’t connected.

June 11 (3 months, 27 days, 11lbs)…

On the med, she started to be incredibly lethargic, especially in the afternoons. There were several weeks that her overall health was much worse after starting Levothyroxine. (Though some things improved later.)

I kept a detailed log of several of her daily habits and figures. Just to see if anything changed…


On June 12, when Rebekah was about 16 weeks old, I started making a more complicated formula that I got from Dr. Axe’s website–goat kefir, coconut water, flax oil, nutritional yeast. 
June 15 (4 months, 11lbs 2.5oz)…


It seemed that her torticollis was worst when she was sleepy and/or had a full belly.

June 16 (4 months, 1 day, 11lbs 5oz)…

I stopped pumping breastmilk for her completely around July 1, 2016. My supply just dwindled and dwindled. It was a heartbreaking choice, and even today…2.5 months later, I hope to somehow go back to it. 😞

_____________________

Rebekah had what seemed like a panic attack on June 24. It was incredibly scary. She had a mild fever, shifty eyes, very quick breathing and a fast heart rate. I guess I deleted the videos from that night. I wish I could delete my memories of it.

She ended up falling asleep that night, but then her fever continued the next day. I called the on-call nurse at AR Children’s; they recommended I call poison control. The poison control guy recommended I not give her any more Levothyroxine until her thyroid levels were checked.

This was all on a Saturday, so that means I spent about an hour at a walkin (after calling to find out if they check thyroid levels, and verifying with AR Children’s that I could use them), only to have the walkin Dr check her vitals and  recommend that we go to the emergency room instead.

I spent about 5 hours in the ER with her–rectal temp 102.7, heart rate 185, 36 breaths a minute. This is my 5th child, so I realize these aren’t alarming vitals by themselves. But I was concerned about her behavior; the poison control guy wanted her checked out; the walkin Dr wanted her taken to ER, and her whole life has been so drastically different than my other girls.

They did a chest xray, a port in her foot (which ended up being unusable), drew blood, did a catheter, drew blood again. Everyone was incredibly kind, but the experience was sooo traumatic. But mostly…we waited and waited and waited.

Her thyroid levels came back in range. She was diagnosed with a UTI; they said her behavior was “normal” febrile seizures. She was prescribed Cephalexin…and we all went home exhausted.

________________________

Rebekah woke several times at night, and she would have a completely soaked diaper 3-4 times a night, so soaked that they would soak her outfit and sheets every time. 

If you’ve followed any of Rebekah’s story and you thought to yourself–that baby needs drugs! Well, I’m sure you were relieved when we started her on Levothyroxine, but if I’m completely honest, she has faced her biggest health challenges and scares right after she started and the entire time she was on 25mcg of Levothyroxine. 

I can’t say, and I’m not saying that the med CAUSED her torticollis, insomnia, panic attack, excessive urine, her UTI. But I am saying it’s been rough. Rough on her. Rough on us. 

July 3 (4 months, 18 days, 11lbs 12oz)…

Rebekah started seeing a chiropractor on June 22, and her torticollis was better almost immediately. 

July 10 (4 months, 25 days, 11lbs 12oz)…

Rebekah rolled over around 5 months, and in many ways she was adjusting her her dosage and doing okay. 

July 29 (5 months, 14 days, 12lbs 10oz)…


However, she still woke several times a night with soaking wet diapers, and she was not gaining much despite her large calorie intake. 


HALF DOSE 12.5mcg LEVOTHYROXINE (STARTED AUGUST 17)

On Wednesday August 17, I decided to start giving her only a half dose for a few days to see if it changed her naps and sleep quality overall, her excessive urine output…etc. 

I contacted the endocrinology nurses; they consulted her Endocrinologist, and she said we could leave it at a half tablet until September 12 when she had her levels checked again. And then we would go from there. 

.

August 17 (6 months, 2 days)…

Her sleep quality improved overnight; she only had to be changed once at night now (instead of 3-4 times); she has started keeping her weight on, and her energy levels improved as well. I hoped her levels would “agree” with her behaviors. 

Rebekah sat up on her own for the first time ever on August 19. She’s been more talkative and active, and also…more peaceful and restful at night and nap times. 

August 19 (6 months, 4 days) …

On September 12, Rebekah’s TSH was 4.32 (in range) and her fT4 was 1.28 (also in range). Her endocrinologist said she can stay at 12.5mcg until her level check on December 12. 

Depending on her levels in December, the endocrinologist said that we might talk about stopping the med entirely by Rebekah’s first birthday. 

God is good no matter what, and we are hopeful…

.

September 18 (7 months, 3 days)…

hamster wheel

hamster wheel

If you see a mom…

Early on a Sunday morning…

In an empty parking lot…

Leaning on a steering wheel…

Face down on her folded arms…

Shoulders shaking…

It’s nothing important.

Just don’t…

Honestly, you wouldn’t even…

It’s the hole the squirrels chewed into the soffit,

And this isn’t her first time,

And it’s all the condensation cup circles,

And don’t text,

And it’s the sliding minivan door that’s off-kilter,

And don’t attempt to understand,

And it’s the beeping smoke alarm,

And she doesn’t want to do this,

And it’s the pile of unread books,

And don’t make that face,

And it’s that mountain of Wal-mart donation bags full of clothes.

I know I am, but if I know it,

Then I’m not.

If this is my sanctuary, 

Then let it be that, please. 

I don’t have a walled garden of flowers. 

This is what I have, where I have. 

Don’t you think I know crazy when I feel it pulsing?

If you give a mouse a cookie…

I think I might have. 

You know how it will be. 

If you don’t get it,

Do you think I care?

If you don’t…

Look away. 

Stay away.