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National Dog Day

27 Aug

According to Timehop, I wrote the following on Twitter 3 years ago today:

It’s #NationalDogDay. We have no dog, just 5 kids. A dog would be much cleaner and quieter though. Much.

Despite my insisting that we needed no more mouths to feed in the Smith house, the kids have long wanted a dog and tried to bargain their way towards getting one.  You know what I mean–I promise I’ll feed it, walk it, clean up after it–but of course, Matt and I were smarter than believing that.  In fact, whenever the kids begged for a pet, I told them that to even consider it, they had to keep their rooms clean for 30 consecutive days before we would even discuss it.  They never made it past Day 5.

However (and of course you knew this was coming, else I wouldn’t have written this blog), several months ago Matt and I started discussing the possibility of getting a dog.  One of our big reasons for this was the twins.  Henry and Nolan absolutely have a stroke when a dog comes near them.  They have a distinct cry that we call the “dog cry” that they do only when a dog is in their eye sight.  But in the few times that the twins have actually been around a dog for more than 2 or 3 days at a time, the fear dissipates… until they aren’t around the dog for a while at which point we start back at square one.  So basically, we figure that the best way to get the twins over their fear of dogs is to expose them to one every day.

That said, there was a very particular list of qualities that were imperative for this dog.  For example, we wanted a house broken adult dog.  We are in the final days of potty training the twins, and there is NO part of me that wants to house break a dog.  Five kids can put a world of hurt on our house so a destructive puppy was not even worth attempting.  We wanted a “sturdy” dog–one that could withstand being outside for long stretches of time but wouldn’t jump the fence in our backyard.  I just didn’t want a full time inside dog.

For all of the times that Matt and I had talked over all of this, we kept dragging our feet on actually trying to find this dog.  We were not willing to pay more than a basic adoption fee, but the thought of going to a local shelter and trying to choose a dog was daunting.  We didn’t want to involve the kids until the last minute because I knew that they would get impatient if the right dog was hard to find.  And I didn’t want to walk into a room full of dogs and each child get their hopes up on a dog that might not be a good fit for us.  I just kept thinking that surely the perfect dog for us would appear somehow, fall into our figurative laps.

Nine days ago, I decided that I would put out feelers on Facebook.  I wrote a post listing out our qualification list just on the off chance that someone knew of a dog somewhere who was exactly what we were looking for.  As I expected, people had suggestions on breeds and local shelters.  But one friend’s reply was exactly what I was praying for.  A friend had contacted her earlier that day about help in finding a new home for a dog whose family was moving to an apartment and couldn’t take him along.

My friend added me to a FB group message with her friend who then added in the dog’s owner.  And after reading our picky list, he said Max was absolutely all of those things.  Within less than 2 hours from my post, I was texting with him to set up a time to meet Max.  Matt ended up being unable to go meet our new dog, so I took the 5 kids alone.  I was very vague about where we were going and why, but by the end of the visit, the 3 older kids were thrilled with the idea of Max possibly living with us.

The next day, we made it official.  We were getting a dog!  His family took him to the vet and got his vaccinations up to date and had a few days to say their goodbyes.  I felt badly for them in knowing how much they will miss their dog, but they assured us that they knew this would be a wonderful home for their beloved friend.

Max has been here for less than 2 full days, and thankfully, the twins are already much less fearful.  And to see how much the older kids love and dote on him has been so sweet.  I know that the newness will fade, and the responsibilities will frustrate them.  But I can already tell that we hit the jackpot with this big old boy.  Since he is an older adult dog, I don’t know how long we will end up having with Max, but we will love every minute of it, I am sure!



Stupid Eclipse…

22 Aug

Well, today was the day.  The highly anticipated solar eclipse finally happened, and because we live so close to the path of totality, the children’s school was cancelled because why not.  And, today was Matt’s first day back to work which worked out super conveniently for him.

We were out late last night so I had hoped that maybe the children would sleep in a little this morning.  But you know what they say about assuming.

6 o’clock this morning, Norah climbed into our bed.  10 minutes later, here came Aaron.  By 6:30, they were both getting dressed for the day.  And of course, Aaron had to turn a light on to find clothes and woke Isaac up.  So yay for that.  Isaac crawled into bed with me, and I was determined to stay in bed for as long as possible.

At some point close to 7, I became aware of the front door open a few times, and I heard discussions (loudly near the sleeping twins’ door) between Norah and Aaron debating about sitting on the front porch versus riding their bikes in the driveway.  As Matt finished getting ready, I knew that he would head down soon and be able to make sure they were on the straight and narrow.

7:10 a.m. and Matt informs me that he just found our two oldest kids AT THE NEIGHBOR’S FRONT DOOR.  The little boy that lives there and told them all summer not to wake him up until 9:15 got his doorbell rung just after 7.  Oh, Matt and I were livid.

We called the kids back to the house in horror.  One of them wasn’t wearing shoes, the other was parading up the road in a bathing suit, and they both had dewy grass plastered to their legs.  And the poor little neighbor boy was slowly and sleepily trudging up the hill towards our house just in time to hear us reminding our kids that they were supposed to have done some chores before playing with anyone anyway!  They woke that kid up for naught!

I kissed Matt goodbye and headed up to work on getting myself ready for the day.  And by getting ready, I mean I was going to brush my hair and put enough deodorant on to cover up any stink.  In the short amount of time it took me to do that, Aaron apparently felt like he had cleaned enough.  He was pretty disappointed when I pointed out that everything he had shoved under his bed actually needed to come out and be put away.

Tears, begging, bargaining.  “But Mom, no one will ever even see it under there!”

After convincing him that I would not budge, I walked out of his room to see the previously mentioned next door neighbor boy PLUS the little girl from across the street.  And I honestly don’t know how my children managed to do it, but they conned those kids into helping clean the boys’ room so that they could all go out and play together faster.

Good news, folks… this story has a happy ending because by 8 o’clock, the 3 older kids were all across the street playing at someone else’s house.  And they managed to stay there for 80% of the day.

Plus, most importantly… they go back to school tomorrow!

(Just in case anyone thinks I am totally cold and heartless which it comes to my kids, I did sob unmercifully tonight at a commercial about kids growing up and had a slight panic attack at the thought of them getting older and leaving the house!)

Summer nights

3 Jul
It’s a Sunday evening in July and the air is hot, sticky, humid.
A water balloon war is raging at the house across from ours where 3 of my children are in the proverbial trenches with 6 other kids and 2 really fun dads.
One son, as if Paul Revere, runs up the hill and yells out a warning of an impending invasion from just beyond the driveway.
I’m sitting to the side listening to the laughter and screaming and battle cries.
I watch the hiding, running, chasing, throwing.
A few mosquitoes swarm, and I wipe perspiration from my face.
And I smile with the prickling of tears in my eyes, tears of happiness, of gratitude, of bliss.
Today, in this minute, there is peace in my soul, a satisfaction from the Lord that I too frequently let pass me by in the hectic days of my life.
Tonight, they play with innocence, safe under the watchful eyes of Mom and Dad, happy to play and be carefree and have fun.
Tomorrow, they will grow older and taller and hopefully wiser and leave this street to make their mark on the world and start their own lives and families.
But hope builds in my heart that maybe, just maybe, those grown babes of mine will remember the water and the friends and the euphoria of the hot summer nights of their childhood.

Where I’m From

9 Mar

I recently read a blog post from Beth Woolsey in which her son wrote a “Where I’m From” poem for school and then feeling inspired, she wrote one.  As someone who loves to write, I was excited by the idea and decided to do it for myself.  When I thought back especially on my childhood, all I could think of were wonderful, joyful feelings.  How blessed to remember my life in that way!  (And as Beth did, I strayed a bit from the template.)

Where I’m From

I am from smiles and joy, from Sonic ice and eating out, Big Red and back rubs.

I am from warmth and laughter, from hospitality and manners, from the genuine.

I am from the pine trees and the lake, the small towns and curvy, winding roads, from mosquitoes big enough to carry you and storms that will scare you.

I am from so many stories and lots of loud talking, from McGraw and Myers and Rogers, from teachers and preachers who seem to know everyone.

I am from thoughtfulness and cards full of underlined words and handwritten letters, bending over backwards, from hosting and cooking and sharing.

From “Jesus Loves Me” and “You are loved” and prophetic words.

I am from church every Sunday, mission trips, and youth trips, from true salvation and never-ceasing prayers and walking among giants.

I’m from the south, first from the flat, wooded places and now the hills and mountains.  From both the neighborhoods and the country.

From the Billy letters, the peanut brittle, the barbecued meat, the man who cannot slow down, and the prayers of a righteous woman.

I am from feeling loved and valued, from hectic and loud but feeling total bliss in the chaos, from deep, overwhelming peace in the soul.

The unexpected and often unfair

17 Jan

I love that Facebook shows me memories every day of my posts from previous years.  There is such joy in seeing pictures or videos of my children when they were younger, and I get a laugh out of reading stories of the funny things that they said or did.  Even when the memory isn’t a pleasant one, I am thankful to realize that I survived that sad or disappointing time and that God has provided for me since in ways beyond my comprehension then.

This morning, I was reminded that I announced my pregnancy with Isaac to the Facebook world 5 years ago today, and then shared the news about the twins 3 years ago today too.  Both of those pregnancies were unplanned and quite unexpected.  Matt and I had a hard time adjusting to them in many ways.  But, all three of those boys were (and are!) wanted and loved and adored.  I wouldn’t want to live life without them, but they are reminders that I cannot control things.  Seeing the joy and enrichment they bring to my life, I am thankful that God had plans beyond my own.  Isaac, Henry, & Nolan are the best examples to me of the happiness that the unexpected can bring.

I was reminded this weekend though at how unfair life is and how the unexpected can be full of sorrow.  On Sunday morning at church, sweet friends were sharing their testimony of God’s grace, and part of that journey involved infertility and miscarriages.  They remarked that they were watching people get pregnant and give birth around them and grieved as they walked a different and heartbreaking road than others they loved.  Similarly, dear cousins of mine have spent years going through failed fertility treatments and devastating losses in attempts to expand their own family.  They have watched family and friends celebrate new life while being crushed by the pain of their own despair.

I cannot even tell you how gut wrenching it makes me feel to know that while people I love were mourning, Matt and I were having children at a ridiculous rate without even trying.  Sure, I had suffered from 2 previous miscarriages, but that didn’t help their grieving hearts in that moment.  To have added to their pain even without meaning to makes me nauseous, and I won’t even pretend to understand what that feels like because it truly is beyond my comprehension.

Life this side of heaven will never be fair, and I know in the cliche Bible belt “God is in control and working things to your good” way that there are reasons for everything that we cannot grasp.  But, it doesn’t make me any less disappointed to see precious people have their reality altered by it all.  And there is no point to all of this rambling except maybe to draw your attention to the world around you.  On your best or worst of days, there will be all manner of triumph or defeat, both near and far.  Find a way to lovingly embrace those around you regardless of your paths and laugh and weep together.

And to those who have suffered even a moment of grief from the circumstances of our family… I’m more sorry than you will ever know.

Here we go again, sort of

18 Jul

After last fall’s health scare, my doctors and I made the decision to have my yearly mammogram/ultrasound and my MRI staggered so that I could be imaged more often to potentially catch any malignancy very early.

Last week, I had my yearly MRI, and it took a few days before I heard the results. However, when I answered the phone and was speaking directly to the radiologist instead of to a nurse, I knew immediately that she had found something.  Just like in the past, the issues are in my left breast. There are two areas of abnormalities near the sight of my surgical biopsy last year, one to the left and one in front. So, I am scheduled for an MRI guided biopsy of those areas on July 28th.

In some sense, I feel right back where we were less than a year ago when this journey started, but in other ways, I feel more confident in where we are heading. I think there is a big possibility that this is the same LCIS from before that didn’t get removed during surgery and is spreading out. However, the only way to know is obviously to get it biopsied.

Please be praying for continual strength and rest for Matt and me as we wait for the biopsy and results. We believe in His sovereign goodness and rejoice in God our Savior!

Love always,


Stupid Smoothie

26 Jun

This afternoon, I almost had a panic attack while making a smoothie.

Some points to note before I go on:

  • I was in the kitchen attempting to be healthy and creative which is a reason for anyone who knows me well to get worried.
  • I was using a cheap-o blender. I am a cheapskate and wouldn’t dream of spending more than $20 on one.
  • Matt and the 2 older kids were at a neighbor’s house so I was at home with the Isaac and the twins.
  • The twins are 23.99 months old (as I type this, they turn 2 in a matter of minutes!) and are every bit the tantrum pitching toddlers you might imagine.

I made a terrible mistake in that I told Isaac before I started working on what I thought would be an awesome fun summer afternoon treat. He was excited. I was excited. Expectations ran high, my friends, expectations ran high.

I started running the blender. The twins ran towards me screaming at the top of their lungs. They did not go away from the loud noise. Nope, they clung to my legs right next to the blender while I tried to talk them off the figurative ledge. But, to their great relief, I had to turn the noisy thing off as something got clogged within the bowels of this blender that was literally the cheapest one on the shelf in Target the day I was shopping for it.

Isaac came in at this point to ask if his special treat was ready because he isn’t old enough to realize how poorly I function in culinary endeavors. I sent him out of the room as I used a large spoon to attempt to remedy whatever was happening in the blade area.

I ran the blender, stopped the blender and stirred, ran it some more, stopped and stirred some more.  It was a vicious cycle of me fighting with the blender, the twins screaming at my feet, Isaac looking expectantly at me. And I honestly don’t know how long it went on, but it was a while.

And then I smelled what I am going to assume is a blender a few moments before it begins to smoke and catches fire. Thankfully, God decided to spare me and the flames never erupted. And while I was attempting to squelch this potential disaster, the twins were still hanging on my legs screaming. (Did I mention that one of said children refused to nap today? Cause he did.)

Quickly, I started sweating profusely, there was a slight ringing in my ears, and above all else, my chest felt restricted as I breathed.  I just knew that if I didn’t get those boys to stop touching me, I was going to lose my mind.

So, I left the kitchen a big ole mess and led my tiny troops out onto the front porch without worrying about shoes or pants for the twins.  (Side note, what is the deal with them removing their clothes all the time? When their pants are off, they then take their diapers off, and I am tired of chasing them around in fear of pee on my floors!)

Long story short, Matt came home and watched the boys while I finished the smoothie that I didn’t even end up drinking because it tasted awful.

Stupid smoothie.