Soon…a Wedding.

I hear her singing in the kitchen as I finish up my quiet time. Praise songs…worshipping as she makes her breakfast. My happy child. My Girl. Singing has always been her morning go-to. Waking up alone in her crib she would call out, “Momma?” I don’t answer right away because I know. The singing would begin. She didn’t snuggle into sleep with lovies or blankies or toys. Music was her comfort. 
Still.
That child…My Girl…turned twenty-four last week. The child I first went into labor with at 24 weeks. The news I wept over while holding her 3 month old brother became a blessing I begged would not be lost. We rarely know the treasure we hold until it is nearly snatched from our grasp. The blessing that is now twenty-four years long.
My Girl…became engaged last week. At the impossibly childlike age of 24. It does not matter that I was two years into a rocky, pain filled marriage at that age. she is too young! she is not ready! She can’t be leaving me already…the painful truth right there…leaving me.
She assures me she won’t leave. Emphatically stating she…no…they…will follow us wherever we go. We. Suddenly a much smaller sounding word. The Big Boy having moved out days before The Wild Boy returns home from his first year of college. Here only a few short months before back to Southwest Virginia…into an apartment for year two. We…will soon mean just The Man and I…not We Five.
I linger there this morning…We Five and our adventures the first half of our lives together. Next year we become We Six. I love even numbers…had lobbied for child number four to make us a rounded out, complete, even number Six. Soon we will be complete. For a time.
My just shy of six pounds, chicken legged, surprise blessing…to marry. Today I have finally accepted… embraced…praised. The planning has begun. So has the stress, according to this soon to be son number 3 of mine. He knows My Girl so well. He is calm to her storm. How like me, she is. How he is learned, these four years, to accept her and love her as her father has her mother. The calm to my storm, her father has always been.
He has jumped headlong into our wedding planning for his little girl. The first full day of diamond ring wearing wrought from him a wedding breakdown structure. My Logistician husband…pushing aside giving away his Goose to another man, by immersing in what he knows.
So a new adventure begun. I will cling to My little Girl these next twelve months or so as she continues her bloom to wife hood. And I will cherish the mornings filled with her song.

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The One Where My Baby Turns 18.

My first words to him were, “There are two before you. But you are the Prince. For one year. Then you are on your own.”
He interpreted that as, “I rule. All bow down to my wishes.”
He was right

.

He didn’t sleep for the first three years he was on this Earth. Just as we were ready to turn him back in for a new model, My Man headed off to the War College, The Wild Boy and I came to an understanding. Sleep returned to our household and he was content to sleep back in his own bed when dad came home for visits.
He wanted to play football and bugged me until I relented because I was convinced that he would get hit once and never want to play football again.
Hitting was his favorite part of the game and he complained until the last day of his Senior year of football that he should have been a defensive player so he could block instead of a wide receiver.
He is a true Wheeler/Smith in that he loves animals; has a wicked, sarcastic streak; when he loves, he loves big. And when he is hurt, he is hurt big.
He was putting words into sentences at age 1.
He was running around the house at age 1.
His mother was one exhausted 30-something.
He was the funniest kid. I hear rumors that he he still is, but for the last 4 years or so, his interaction with his father and I has been pretty much grunts and stares from his side.
He was born on January 30. 
His mother was born on January 31.
He was the best birthday present I have ever had.

A List. For Tuesday. And for Diane S-S.

1. I was checking out my blog stats the other day and was absolutely blown away by y’all. Thank you so much! So, only 6 of you are commenting regularly…what is up with you 75-100 other regular folks? Please pop in with a comment, just to say Hey. I have to have “traffic” on my blog before I can go all commercial on you.

2. Maybe once I get more serious about my writing…the “traffic” will come?

3. It is 10:40pm. I’m waiting for the 100 or so pics I just edited to upload to Flickr. Senior Football Banquet pics. It was a fun night. We had a blast setting up. Good people. Thankful for them in my life.

4. One day, in the future, I will share with y’all about the last two football years. Maybe in that book I’m going to write someday. I will just drop a teaser on you. It is amazing the impact a life-changing event has on the little bits and pieces of life…that we don’t even realize or think about until we look back.

5. This morning, after finally snatching a solid two hour sleep after a week of pretty much cat-napping, I got some church work done and then tackled the kitchen. From top to bottom. I spent the entire day on it. God help the pitiful fool who dares to eat, cook or otherwise touch anything in that kitchen. From now on.

6. Tomorrow I tackle the dining room and living room, which won’t take as long. Getting the house ready for The Holiday Season! I love it. I can’t wait for the boys to pull the 38 boxes out of the attic so I can start rediscovering all the treasures. Did I share with y’all that a couple years ago our neighbor, Flo, was over helping us decorate the tree. The previous year, I had finally sorted all of the kids homemade ornaments and made each of them their own bag o’ treasures. I must have been baking or doing laundry or something, but when I came back into the living room I noticed a bunch of the kids’ homemade ornaments on the tree. I looked around and there was Flo sitting in the middle of all of the kids’ ornaments which she had dumped, bag by bag, into one big happy pile on the floor. I took that to mean it wasn’t time to save those treasures for later and every year since they are back on the tree. This is our first Christmas without Flo. Since it was her favorite time of year, and she passed away a couple weeks before Christmas, she will especially be on my heart.

7. As I was editing the photos from the Senior Football Banquet, I ran across a few of me with my family. My family looks awesome. I just look fat. Just calling it like it is. I’ve never, ever, been this…voluptuous. I realized today, thanks to the dreaded “S” word *scale* that I have gained 40 pounds in the last 2.5 years. FORTY POUNDS. I won’t bore you with the whining. I’m taking it up with myself first thing in the morning.

8. Have y’all heard about this new “game”…the Knockout Game? I was dumbfounded when I saw it on the news. Have people completely lost their minds? Like I said…dumbfounded. I don’t even know where to start.

9. So be honest. Do you get a tad melancholy during Thanksgiving and Christmas? I don’t. But when that consistently frigid air moves in around mid-January, the only thing that picks up my mood is lots and lots of presents. The Wild Boy’s birthday is January 30 and mine is January 31. He will be…oh-my-Lord-no Eighteen on his next birthday. I will be turning a lovely little number that no one really needs to know. My Man already purchased the standard boy-turns-18 birthday gift that may, or may not, include a bunch of manly tools. What does The Wild Boy really want for his 18th birthday? Firearms. And ammo. True story. I’m still not sure how I ended up with these redneck, firearm-packing children.

10. Finally, number 10. Have I ever mentioned that I despise odd numbers? Did you notice I have three children…an odd number? At the first mention of rounding out our number to a lovely four children…My Man ran for the nearest phone and made a few calls and before I knew it, we were sitting in the doc’s office. No number four child for us. This birthday coming up is an odd numbered birthday for me. So I am ignoring it. That does not mean, however, that I don’t want presents. Because I do. Just to be clear.

Love you guys.

Just a short, rambling post.

I forgot to mention that yesterday was My Man’s 54th birthday! Yes, he is considerably older than I am. Yes, I was a child bride. No, I am not in denial. Well, maybe just a little. Happy Belated Birthday to My Husband. He truly is an incredible father to our children and I couldn’t be more blessed.

Today, finally, marks the end of The Wild Boy’s football career. Senior Football Banquet. I can’t wait for the night to be over so I we can finally move on, although it is going to be an awesome banquet. My Man, thankfully, took over the planning and dictating of the banquet and it truly is going to be the baseline for future Senior Football Banquets. The banquet team will be hard at work all day setting up and decorating, etc. The festivities begin at 5:30 tonight. I’m sure I will be posting some pics at some point.

I can’t go another day without mentioning something on my heart this week. Dear friends of ours lost their son last week. He took his own life, while away at college. We have too many friends who have lost a child this way. Knowing just one family who has lost their child to suicide is one too many. Both Russell and I spoke to each of our children this week to assure them that nothing…nothing…is too great for us to deal with and taking their own life would never be the better option.

Hug your child; talk to your children. They may blow you off, as mine did. They may roll their eyes and sigh heavily with disgust and exasperation, but do it anyway. And pray, pray, pray for them. Pray over every aspect of their life.

I have to end with that today. Please, if you think of it, toss up a prayer for our sweet friends, Debbie and Perry.

Love you guys.

Eight-Freaking-Teen


Dear Shawn.

Today you are 18 (wow…the sob that just erupted out of me was major…the tears such a shock. I was doing so well!)

In the eyes of the law, you are no longer a child. But you will always be MY child. The child we longed for and agonized over for years. Knowing we wanted you so badly, yet wondering how far we were to go down the modern medicine path in order to conceive you. Thankfully, God took the issue out of our control.

I loved being pregnant with you. I lost weight. Yes, I needed to. And not because I didn’t feel well. Because I felt awesome. I craved healthy fruits and veggies. And watermelon. So much watermelon. In the middle of January. Eighteen years ago when fresh fruits and veggies out of season were Really. Hard. To. Come. By. Ask your dad…he knows. He searched all over Northern Virginia and parts of Maryland to find me the most God-awful pale watermelon that tasted like nectar to this hormonal, craving, mom-to-be.

For one of only three times in my life, I didn’t fret. I didn’t worry. I didn’t fear. God and I seemed to be so connected that I knew whatever His plan for you was…it would be Good.

Dr. Levigne was on call June 5, 1990. He was my least favorite doc in the practice. No bed-side manner. Short. Abrupt. Old. He doubted I was really in labor, being a first time mom, but told me to come in anyway, since he was ‘already at the hospital’. I’m positive I told your dad that I was sure we could wait another day when another doctor would be on call. But your dad had no plans to deliver you himself. At home. He passes out when he sees blood on tv.

After walking the halls a bit, but indeed in labor, Dr. Levigne was anxious to have you delivered so that he could “get home, get packed and head to Florida for vacation”. Didn’t exactly bring calm to me. But I was anxious for you to be born, too, even though your due date was June 19.

Did I mention that we already had your name picked out? Yes…Sarah. You see…you were, we were told, 80% likely a girl. Nana was thrilled since Andy was already here. I was thrilled because I didn’t know anything about birthin’ and raisin’ no boys. Having only Aunt Jenny for a sibling.

We did, of course, call Nana and Grandpa sometime around 6am to tell them we were in the hospital. The travelling Nana already had her bag packed and she hit the road around 9am to head to Northern Virginia. You were not born yet, while she was traveling 81 and 66 to head straight to the hospital.

Oh, did we ever tell you that around 9:30, my ‘brother’ Mike tried to bully his way through the nurses station and come to my room? Your dad intercepted him. I believe they even wandered down to the car to have a celebratory drink in the parking lot. Probably a shot of Jack. You weren’t even born yet! The Fairbanks were great friend’s of ours and we so appreciated Mike’s excitement for us.

It must have been a full moon that night…I never did remember to check…because the hospital was PACKED with women delivering babies. Most of the time, it was your dad and I alone in the room going thru labor together. Including pushing. The nurse would give instructions and tell dad what to do and then would leave the room.

Did I mention that he passes out? He didn’t dare…not after I screamed at him, “DON’T YOU DARE PASS OUT ON ME AND LEAVE ME ALONE TO DO THIS!!!!!!” There may have been a couple of expletives in there, too.

To his credit, because the man does fear love me, he didn’t pass out. He wasn’t happy, but he was strong. Well, until we were in the delivery room. As you were being born, I heard Dr. Levigne say, “Russell, sit down before you fall down.” And he did sit down. Until Dr. L announced, “it’s a boy!”. Nothing brings a man faster to his feet than hearing his first child is a boy! I was stunned. Your dad laughed and laughed. He truly had been saying all along that he knew you were a boy.

Did we ever tell you that babies are usually born face up? You were face down. And because your head and face are so ‘soft’ to be able to withstand the pressures of delivery, your chin was sort of pushed in a bit. So after ooing and ahing over you for a moment or two, you were whisked away to the NICU for a thorough look over. Of course you were pronounced perfect and your face, as we know, quickly regained it’s handsome shape.

The look on Nana’s face when she came in! The joy radiated from her.

But she did have one question, “why is my Sarah wearing a blue hat?” The discovery by Nana that she had TWO grandsons now did not deplete her joy whatsoever. And the huge pink, girly bag of frilly pink clothes and toys she brought with her? She just nudged that behind a chair with her foot and it was never mentioned again.

So. Now you are 18. A man, really. A man that can’t wait to dash home and hit the pool with his buddies. A man that laughs and cuts up at the top of his lungs. A man that loves to play video games, go bowling, and swears he can be both an elementary school teacher AND professional fisherman. A man that recognizes the struggles boys have in elementary school and middle school where male teachers are a rarity.

I am so in awe at the God-fearing young man you have become. I take little credit for it. God had a plan from the very beginning for you. For a change, your dad and I saw it, recognized it and trusted it and Him.

While I am emotional during this period of your life…turning 18, flexing your independent muscles, picking your own college classes, heading off to college…it is a good emotion. Not sadness. Joy. Excitement. Thankfulness. Praise.

I am so proud of the young man you have become. My first born. I love you. Mom.

P.S. Oh, and don’t tell your siblings…but you’re my favorite.

…and a Happy Birthday was had by all!

I really need a tee-shirt that reads, “I survived my daughter’s 16th birthday!”

Most of the day at the mall was spent with me saying, “no…you can NOT buy that because…”

…”it’s cut too short”

…”it’s cut too low”

…”it’s cut too high”

…”I know you don’t have much up top, but what you DO have…is definitely hanging out”

…”your father will never allow you to wear it”

and my all-time personal favorite…

…”a mother shouldn’t have to look at that”

We had a good day. But all of that was completely forgotten when this was heard:

I HAVE NO FRIENDS. NO ONE CAN COME WITH ME TO DINNER TONIGHT!!!

Except for one friend. We reminded her that one friend is a good thing…

We picked up said one friend and went to Olive Garden. Yummy. We had a blast. The girls had (virgin) margaritas. I had (real) shiraz. Following dinner, we picked up the three friends who couldn’t come to dinner and brought them to our house for Carvel ice cream cake and presents.

Here is a pic of the girls…My Girl is second from right.

In about five years, our youngest child will fully appreciate the joy that should have been his during the taking of THIS photo:

Although I think I detect a twinkle in his eye…