Friday, December 28, 2012

Mixtures, Exponents and Real Numbers, OH MY!

Maybe you haven't dealt with those topics since you were in high school or college. 

I haven't either.  Most of my math these days has been consumer math (well and elementary arithmetic.)  But you see... I need three more math credits (among other things) to complete my bachelor's degree.

So during almost every "free" (keep laughing) moment possible you can find me with a calculator, pencil and looooots of scrap paper working on another Algebra class.

It's real fun, y'all. 

Said no one ever.

Brandon rolls his eyes at me when I fuss at the computer because it tells me I am WRONG! *cough, cough* math nerd *cough, cough* while he is buried in a business book.

Yup.. we are officially nuts. 

Add it to the list of reasons why. 

~Stephanie

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Favorites

Knowing I have five children, maybe that title scared you.  LOL! 

Anyway, I could write a long whiny post on any number of things going on right now (the house hunt from hell, being jerked around by the school system, how half of our belongings are still boxed because I am as stupid optimist and we thought we'd be a house any.day.now...) but I won't.  Oh oops.. a little bitter spilled out there.

Anyway... I thought I would blog about my favorites.

My favorite moment in the last week:

Xander had a speech evaluation by the school system.. (blah blah blah..refraining from rehashing more nonsense here...)  ANYWAY.  They tested his articulation (poor but we knew that from our private testing too.  He drops letters in all positions of his words.) Then they tested his vocabulary. 

Brandon observed while texting me.  (I was home with the other four.)  He said that the test seemed very, very long. 

He asked the speech pathologist how the vocabulary test went once it was over.  She looked up from her papers and said, "I stopped testing him at the 2nd grade level but he truly didn't miss enough for me to stop.  I figured that would tell us enough."

Brandon sent me a text saying they stopped at 2nd grade.  Confused, I reminded him our oldest son is three.  I asked him if he meant the TWO YEAR old level.

No.. 2nd grade.  So his vocabulary level is at least 2nd grade.

I beamed for the rest of the day.  And not because of some crazy score.  When I had time to dig deeper I realized that it was a sense of feeling justified. 

You see, I go to these meetings where I hear the most ludicrous reasons why we are struggling with Xander and our parenting and school choices have come under fire on more than one occasion. 

"You homeschool your older children?  Well.. then you MUST lack structure.  By the way, Mrs. B, do you have a degree in elementary education?"  (NOTE: A degree is NOT required to homeschool in the state of Virginia.) 

The childish part of me wants to stick out my tongue and tell them that surely I must be doing something right.  The mature part of me tells me that what they think doesn't really matter in the long run.  Audience of One, Steph.. audience of One. 

*ahem* 

Xander has once again proven that God can do anything in our lives.  I was once "warned" that he may not ever talk. 

Puh. 

2nd grade...

My favorite picture from this week:


Checking each other out? 

Or a mischief plotting session?


My favorite thing a kiddo said: 

Julianne TOTALLY butchered the word "triscuits."  It sounded like "Bwi-sticks."  Finally I asked her to describe them.  Once I figured out what she was asking for, I marked her down as completing a "descriptive project" in Language Arts. 

What?  You never had an assignment to describe something while your partner had to guess the objects? 

~Stephanie



Friday, December 14, 2012

A Groundhog Day Life

I've had a lot of "headtime" around here.  "Headtime" is time lost in my thoughts in deep introspection.  I'm not sure I can explain it in a way that makes sense to all of my readers.  But I'm going to try! 

I'm stuck.  I'm in a rut.  My everyday is currently like that movie, Groundhog Day.  Everyday is the exact same with just a few minor changes.  Part of that is just the season I'm in with young children.  Part of it is because we have chosen to homeschool our children. 

And part of it is coping with Xander, who cannot handle lots of changes, right now.  The tiniest change in our day creates absolute CHAOS. 

I've lost me, somewhere along the way.  Maybe that sounds like an exaggeration.  Or maybe it sounds selfish.  Trust me, I've battled those same thoughts on my own. 

But there are many days that I do nothing for myself other than a simple shower. 

I'm sure some of my readers are all, "Suck it up, Cupcake!  You chose this."  And my answer to this is: Yes.  I chose to be a mother to five beautiful amazing people.  I chose to become a wife.  I chose to become a stay at home mom and a homeschooler.  Absolutely.  But I think that there can be a balance in there somewhere. 

It's the balance that I'm seeking. 

So I've started to think about things that I can do for myself to differentiate each day.

I've realized that part of my struggle is because I feel like things don't "stay done."  What I mean by that is that most of my tasks each day are never ending. 

Fed everyone breakfast?  Great.  Now do it again for lunch.. And dinner... and tomorrow start all over again. 

Laundry?  Never ending.

Cleaning?  Never ending.

Homeschooling is a little different.  The completion is so minute some days.  I do feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the year but in the very same moment, my mind switches to the thought that I have X number of years left to homeschool this one child.. and then I go to the thought that I haven't even begun to start homeschooling the boys.  The big picture seems daunting.  I have approximately 18 more years of homeschooling ahead of me if we continue to homeschool through high school for all of our children, and that is if Isaiah is our last child.  *gulp*  See how easy it is to lose sight of the small accomplishments? 

I'm trying to figure out what I'd like to accomplish.  What would be helpful and not add additional stress to my family and myself?  I don't know.  But I know something has to change. 

~Stephanie

PS:  We are going to look at FOUR more houses tomorrow.  We did three last Saturday (one was absolutely ick-tastic!!!!) and one on Wednesday, bringing us to a total of EIGHT in 7 days.  Please pray we find THE house soon!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Annual Christmas Breakfast

This past Saturday was AMAZING. 

It was our regularly scheduled respite weekend but this time they had their annual Christmas Breakfast.

We arrived around 9:30 and enjoyed french toast sticks, egg and sausage bake, sausage, fruit salad and applesauce. 

Around 10am (when the program normally starts) Santa came!  But y'all!  This wasn't just "a" Santa.  This was a very special one.

First, because we were all among families that have children with special needs, no one batted an eye when my Xander had a mini meltdown when we were trying to wait our turn!  We didn't have to stand confined in a line because they would call just a couple families at a time. 

When we got to see Santa, he had a present for each of the children. Yup, all five.  I may or may not have forwarded some lists. 

DeLainey was gifted a Boxcar Children Book that she hadn't read and a Barnes and Noble giftcard.
Julianne got a Baby Alive that comes with hairstyling clips and pretend scissors (that do not cut.) 
Xander received two wooden puzzles (dinosaurs and safari.) 
Solomon received stacking/nesting cups that also had a shape sorter. 
Isaiah received some teething toys/rattles. 

And each of the children had time to open their present in front of Santa and thank him.  And they did that as a photographer snapped pictures. 

This was very, very different than say, taking your kiddos to the mall to see Santa and spending 2 seconds, them snapping *a* picture and herding you along while charging you $40 for your one picture.

After the Santa visit, Brandon and I took Solomon and Isaiah to do some Christmas shopping.  They are safe to shop in front of still. 

It was a great day.  But can I tell you my very favorite part?  When we were eating breakfast, we were joined by Xander's "buddy."  Because he does not do well with his routines being changed and has difficulty transitioning, they try to keep him paired with the same buddy each month.  Christa is a young, married adult but has no children.  And she is fabulous with my boy!  He really responds well to her and she is patient, gentle and kind!  I really treasured her taking an interest in not only serving our family every month this way, but she really wanted to get to know us better too. 

This whole program has really blessed us.  We come back after our few hours away refreshed, renewed and re-connected. 

Lord, bless this program.  Bless each of the volunteers that sacrifice part of their Saturday to help families like mine.  Thank you for giving us such an amazing opportunity in this.  And bless the three buddies that are paired with Xander, Julianne and DeLainey.  I am humbled by each buddy pouring out into each of the children in the program and their attempting to understand each circumstance along with personalities and likes and dislikes. 

~Stephanie

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wacky Wednesday: A Mish Mash Mini Update

Today the children and I enjoyed a very mismatched lunch trying to finish up the last of some leftovers. 

So I'll continue the theme. 

Here are some mini-updates so I can tie up some loose ends. 

1.  Our bid was countered with a completely ludicrous price.  I mean, we offered full listing.  What was lost in communication was that the bank doing the short sale hadn't approved the list price.  Would have been nice to know that ohh.. 30 days ago.

Our buyer's agent agreement expired and we changed realtors.  We've gotten quite aggressive with our hunting and scheduling house showing.  Two more this Saturday but from the outside I have a favorite!

2.  Xander is sleeping again.  Most of his sleep is in our bed.. but whatever.  I'll share my king sized bed and let him snuggle.  I'm happy to be catching up on my sleep. 

3.  We are not putting up our huge tree with breakable ornaments this year.  Three, three and under and one that can scale a gate in ohhh 2 seconds flat?  Uh uh.  I have a trick up my sleeve. 

4.  I went shopping for myself ALONE for the first time in years.  I mean, I was on the couch but I shopped without input and not buy just looking at clearance and sorting the price to show lowest first.  I read a fashion book and made a little list and have been slowly choosing things for my wardrobe.  Why has it been so long?  I've been unhappy with my weight then pregnant/nursing. Being unhappy with my weight has created a ridiculous cycle of not wanting to dress better... back to not being happy with my weight. 

It's time.

5.  I am looking forward to the respite program this Saturday and the next.  I've already marked my calendar with all the Saturdays that are respite Saturdays.  I'll try my best not to cry as we pull away this time.  *halfsmile*

6.  A sweet friend of mine has officially announced that they are adopting!

7.   I am a HUGE Carly Rose Sonenclar fan.  She gave me chills in last night's performance!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

One Word Wednesday: Upright

 
Sniff, sniff...
 
~Stephanie

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Peaking...

It's been almost a month and we still don't have a ratified contract for the house we bid on. 

We are guaranteed to miss our projected closing date now.  *sigh*

I think I'm starting to go loopy, because last night I looked up how much a cruise for our whole family would cost and contemplated asking Bran to use our downpayment/closing money on that instead.

Naughty and irresponsible, huh? 

Yeah, I figured. 

In the meantime, our landlord is still avoiding making repairs.  So we are paying his mortgage and he isn't even keeping up the place! 

Frustration is peaking. 

~Stephanie

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SLEEP! Glorious SLEEP!

(Last time I posted about our struggles with Xander, I got a few anonymous nastygrams about how no one ever needs medication.  If that is your stance, please don't waste the time to send me a nastygram.  Instead, feel free to visit another blog.  Brandon and I walk a very fine line between medication and natural remedies and as with every other decision we make for our children, family and marriage, we have weighed options at length and prayed until our knees are raw.) 

Brandon and I have lived on less than a handful of hours of sleep a night for over 3 months now. 

Nope, Isaiah was not the culprit.

Nope, not the next babiest either.  (Solomon.) 

It was Xander Jeremiah.  Our three year old.  My child that slept through the night beautifully until this year.

Yet, nothing in his routine had changed other than adding a little brother but we struggled before Isaiah arrived. 

None of our medical professionals could believe how little sleep he was receiving each night.  Every one said that his lack of sleep was just exacerbating his behavior issues.  We trudged on. 

We knew we had to fix it somehow.  We tried all the usual advice.  Dietary changes, less TV (truthfully my children get very little tv compared to most of their peers), a solid bedtime routine, bathing before bed, more physical activity during the day. 

Nothing helped.  In fact, everything seemed to get worse.

But here is the thing: sleep affects growth. And what is our biggest issue with Xander?

Growth.

We hesitated to use medication to help him sleep and then his growth stopped again, despite his stomach issues being much better than before.

So after a heap of prayer, we started a low dose med.  And it didn't work. 

We kept trudging on.

We changed to another and we saw some improvement. 

Trudge, trudge. 

Today his dosage was changed. 

And we saw this...



Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! 

Pray it works for the night! 

~Stephanie, who is shutting down the computer and running to bed!  *yawn*

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Much Needed Respite

This past Saturday, relief came in the form of an amazing respite program. 

They provide 3 hours of FREE respite a month for parents with children that have special needs and their siblings that are 3 and older and potty trained!  They each have one on one buddies and there is a HUGE variety of activities for the different skill levels and abilities. 

There are two locations in the Richmond area and they are scheduled on different weekends each month.  So we could do it two Saturdays for a total of 6 hours a month. FREE!

I'm so blessed that this program was shared with me.  We struggle with not being able to find consistent childcare.  Date nights are rare.  Our beloved babysitter is very busy and not babysitting much anymore.

And I haven't been able to replace her. 

SO... more than half of my crew got to attend the program.  DeLainey, Julianne and Xander went.  I cried a little as we pulled out of the church parking lot (but I can still blame that on nursing/postpartum hormones right?) but I really did enjoy myself. 

Brandon, Solomon, Isaiah and I went to a locally owned independent toy store to knock out some Christmas shopping and Solomon saw Santa!  I love this little toy store because they carry high quality educational toys not piles of plastic junk and I left with my packages neatly wrapped and ready to be placed under the tree.  Now THAT is service!

Then we went to lunch and used $20 in gift certificates-- as a family of four and Brandon and I were able to hear each other!  We were able to chat about things without "big ears" listening in (and possibly repeating!) 

When we arrived back at the church refreshed, I was nervous.  Did the children enjoy themselves?  I figured it must have not been too awful if our cell phones hadn't rung.  The three oldest Bee children came out of the church doors with a smile.  Xander was jabbering all about his "friends." And Lainey and Julianne each had a great time too. 

They did arts and crafts, jumped in a bounce house, played with a train set, played air hockey and Foosball.  They ate their packed lunches and made friends! 

I've already made a reservation for December.  Thank you, Jesus, for this blessing!

~Stephanie

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What is going right...

Sometimes I feel like my blog is one big whine.  And sometimes it really is.  I use my writing to process my thoughts sometimes and usually things not going right is what requires processing.

SO, instead I'm going to reflect on what is going right.

1.  Breastfeeding Isaiah has been amazing.  We had some trouble when he was first born getting him awake to latch and trying to keep him from falling asleep mid-feeding and then something clicked.  And he has been pretty much like clockwork.  Then as he got bigger he started spacing his feedings at night and was going about 5 hours in between.  Now, he spaces about 7-8 hours.  Best sleeper yet! 

His latch has been great.  The only thing we had an issue with is thrush.  And then I got ductal thrush (which totally sucks let me tell you.)  But I curled my toes under and kept going and now all is well. 

He is growing fast and I don't have the feeding concerns that taunted me during my nursing relationship with Solomon. 

2.   We found another house.  The house that we were under contract with this summer was bought by someone else.  But since we changed our financing, we no longer have to be in a rural area.  So we looked around TinyTown and found a larger home that is in town.  We can even keep cable internet!  We put our bid in yesterday evening and today we got the call that the seller accepted it.  Now, we are waiting for the bank to get back to us since it is a short sale. 

3.  Homeschooling is going smoother.  Notice I didn't say smoothly.  I finally broke down and bought a computerized math program for Lainey and she is excelling in her math work.  I really think she thought I marked things wrong on purpose because she told me one day, "The computer tells me I am wrong, but who can get mad at a computer?"  Well then, moving right along!

4.  Julianne is coming right along with her reading.  I find she is more interested in spelling/writing things than what Lainey was.  She sounds things out and asks how to spell things.  Lainey was opposite, she wanted to know what things she saw said.  Either way, they each have had the motivation to get to the point they could do it themselves. 

5.  Xander's speech has come so far.  I remember when he would stop talking with his stomach issues.  Not the case anymore!  And now that his medication has been changed he is actually sleeping! He even naps again. 

6.  Solomon has embraced being a big brother without skipping a beat.  I was a little worried about how he would take having a little baby in the house.  Solomon has always been closer to me than Brandon.  But he has recently branched out with his relationships.  Instead of insisting that only Mommy can help him, he will ask someone else sometimes.  I still make a huge effort to snuggle with him and encourage him to help me though.  He still feels he must always sit by Mommy at the dining room table, however. His most recent love is to take things to the trash can and to bring me the diapers and wipes.  He is very particular about where things go and he loves order. 

7.  Brandon's new job has been amazing for him.  He comes home satisfied and encouraged.  The regular schedule has been great for him and he is getting really positive feedback from his boss. 

So see?  Not all Gloom and Doom in the Simplebees World. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

A New Possibility...

So, yesterday we had a big appointment and Brandon and I were rather shocked at what we heard.

Our records had not made it from the previous neuropsychologist so we had to start from scratch and as we hit the highlights of his medical history, the new doctor said she isn't sure that she agrees with the PDD-NOS diagnosis. 

She does agree with the ADHD. 

Instead she says it is a possibility that Xander suffers from severe anxiety and possibly PTSD (from his food struggles and the two hospitalizations.)  This is a possibility that we had never thought of and that had not been brought to our attention previously.  (Really, who just comes up with PTSD for a three year old, without someone else mentioning it first.)

She said she will have to look through his testing records and visit with him a bit more, but she really thinks that this is a possibility.

She did change his medicine to try and help him sleep more and better.  So far, we have seen a drastic improvement there. 

We see her again in 2 weeks.  We are praying for wisdom and guidance, would you join us?

~Stephanie

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pictures and Prayers

We've been having a blast shifting everything back to a more "normal" schedule. 

Brandon and I have always despised the typical 8-5 grind.  When we were engaged, we chose to work a "weekend wrap" which meant that we worked Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.  (Yes, we worked for the same company.  We've worked for 3 different companies together!) 

This schedule gave us the chill environment of the office on the weekends, better pay (known as shift diff or differential), and we got THREE days of casual clothing standards.  On Monday everything changed back to the straight and narrow. 

We also chose to work 2nd shifts.  Neither of us have ever been morning people and again, it paid more.

We kept some semblance of that schedule for the last 9 years. When we became homeschoolers it became even easier to live in our alternate universe. 

And then Isaiah came. 

zzzzzzzzzzrppppppppppppppppp!   *record stops* 

No really, it wasn't just him. 

*coos* It's not you baby, it's me...

and Daddy...

and your brothers...

and sisters! 

A few things changed and suddenly 1st shifts were looking mighty fine.  Brandon trained on 1st shift for his new job and we found our groove.  Then he moved to second shift and we were all a little bummed.

So when he was offered firsts back, we jumped. 

And we love it! 

Another plus of his new job is that he has off on weekends.  He works a Saturday every 5-6 weeks.  Score!

All that to explain that we got to attend an event this past Saturday. 

Here are some pictures:

First: We ate!  Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, chips, soda and desserts! (Julianne was pleased that there was a cafeteria set up.  She thinks those are so fun! )



We played games:
 
 


We picked Pumpkins!
 
Xander, Solomon and DeLainey played in various bounce houses.  (Julianne is terrified!)
 

 
 
Some of us just looked around and looked cute doing it! 
 



We have a big, BIG appointment on Thursday... would you pray that our concerns are heard?  We appreciate every prayer that goes up on our behalf!

~Stephanie

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Just not enough...

Some days, my all just isn't enough.  These days my to do list is never ending.  Yesterday I spent hours on the phone calling from place to place trying to figure out the next steps for Xander, while overseeing the girls do their school work, being the sole food source for Isaiah, and trying to keep two brothers about 13 months apart in age from having a brawl over each and every toy that we have. 

What can I say?  My life is glamorous!  *snort*

I found out that the school district has taken advantage of my ignorance and we are no closer to help there than when we started. 

I've read special education law until my eyes can't focus anymore.

I found out that I can't get straight answers from quite a few places.  I can't get some people to even return my call or email. 

And yet, I have to keep going.  I'm knocking on all the doors I can.  I've left message after message (and as a result I'm REALLY close to memorizing my new cell number now!) 

During several of my calls, (hello 25 minute wait when calling the Social Security office) Xander was very loud in the background.  There was even a meltdown between a certain two boys *ahem* over a beloved yellow matchbox car during one of my calls. 

Last night, Brandon got off work late and by the time he got home I was spiraling into a glob of self pity and doing a fabulous job holding down the couch.  I whispered to myself that there is just not enough of me.  It seems like I could clone myself and still not have enough of me. 

Conviction came in the early hours of this morning as I was watching Isaiah nurse contentedly.  I've decided that I don't really need more me. ;)  I think the world can only handle so much of this Mama. 

If I could do it all on my own, would I have room for God in my life?   

What I needed to do was stop and read my Bible.  I needed to find a verse to cling to.  HE is enough.  God is enough for me. 

And He hasn't left.  He may be really hard to hear when you are speaking to a governmental worker giving robotic answers that don't quite answer what you are asking, but He is STILL THERE!

So today, I get up, I dust myself off and we try again. 

One of our homeschool lessons will be about perseverance. ;) 

I'm not done here yet!

~Stephanie

Monday, October 15, 2012

As if...

(Due to the sensitive nature of the topic, I ask you to be kind with your responses.)

Anyway, as if Xander hasn't had enough to deal with in his life (a whole three years) we now have another hurdle.

Well.. actually that isn't true.  We've had the hurdles but now we have some names for them.

Xander has always been quirky.  Honestly, sometimes we forget how quirky because he is just our Xander.  But as he has gotten older, it became apparent that his quirks are interrupting other parts of his life and causing issues.

For instance, his issues changing activities is greatly affecting other parts of his life.  Changing his routine is devastating to him. 

Other quirks have worked in his favor.  For instance, Xander has the most incredible ability to memorize things set to music.  Anything.  He has picked up states and capitals just from hearing a song we use for the girls.  So if I want to teach him anything, setting it to music is the way to go.

I've always noticed differences between him and his siblings, but I've been brushed off for a long time.

"That is just a boy for ya!"
 
"That is boy energy..."
 
"Girls are just different... "
 
"That is just his personality, not anything physical
 
"Have you tried ___________ method of discipline?"

And still my mommy gut nagged at me during the quiet moments in the night. 

I thought maybe *I* was the one that had the issue.  Maybe I wasn't cut out to be a boy mama.  Maybe I just lack patience.  Maybe I am too uptight... sigh.

So when my typically laid back family practitioner mentioned that we may want to have some tests run on Xander, we took notice.  Our doctor has 6 children and majority of them are boys.  Maybe this just wasn't "boy-ness." 

Off we went to a pediatric neuro-psychologist and she watched him meltdown in the waiting room. She noticed how he flitted around the room with no focus.  She noticed how darn short his attention span is. 

After the initial intake appointment, we went ahead with testing.   We ended up starting medication shortly after testing with our family practitioner since the appointment with the psychiatrist was months away.  We have seen some improvement.   

I'm wasn't surprised with the results at all.  Our three year old has been diagnosed with ADHD and PDD-NOS.  The neuropsych is sending us to an autism spectrum specialist because she is hesitant to diagnose him with autism or Asperger's Syndrome at his age since that is not her specialty.   He does have a high amount of behavioral markers though. 

PDD-NOS is on the autism spectrum though.  Xander's attention span is about 15-20 seconds-- if you can catch his attention at all. 

So where do we go from here?

Well, now we go back to the Early Intervention meeting with the school system with a diagnosis and a formal testing results.  

We go to the pediatric psychiatrist to have his medications tweaked a bit.  Because stimulant use is not approved for children under 4, there are not as many options available for him.  Besides, stimulants can affect appetite and after all the work we have done to get him back on the growth chart, we are very cautious about this particular side effect. 

We have tried diet changes (avoiding red dye 40, gluten, etc) and we have not seen any further improvements. 

How can you help?

This is going to be a long road and we covet your prayers for us.  Pray that we don't lose sight of our little boy in this.  He is still the same little boy that he was before we had a diagnosis.  Pray for those we encounter as we walk this road.  Pray for us as we try to piece together a medical team for Xander.  Pray for our family as we complete these appointments.  Appointments obviously change our routine and cause a ripple effect throughout our day.  Pray for mercy and grace for each member of our family.  Pray for our insurance company to be cooperative and helpful and if they aren't, pray I don't have a flesh flash.  ;) 

~Stephanie

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Carbon Copies...

 
 
 


This little boy.  Where do I start?  First, he is the carbon copy of my husband-- seriously, all the way down to their big toes.  When he was born, I struggled to find anything, anything that was "me" as I studied my newest little man. 
 
I found nothing. 
 
Nothing. 
 
And then he started getting older.
 
I finally found something that was "ME!" 
 
 

This little gem was floating around Facebook and it made me laugh until my sides ached.  I was reminded that I *could* find myself in Solomon... 

Newest example:

Tonight, we were watching Amazing Race and I made a comment about his big toe being "just like Daddy's!"  (We are three for three for the children having "Daddy's toe.")  Apparently, Solomon sensed my lack of ability to see myself in him, so he promptly rolled off of the loveseat-- on top of the infant carseat.  Ker-plunk!

Oh, but our gracefulness doesn't stop there! 

He climbed back on the loveseat and less than 5 seconds later, he rolled off of the loveseat again.  You guessed it.. right onto the infant carseat.

Brandon said, "There you are, Steph!"  We laughed and laughed.  Solomon did too. 

Nothing like some well timed humor!

~Steph






Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Coming up for air...

I'm sorry I've been disappearing quite often here lately.  We have a lot going on which has left me feeling vulnerable and I've retreated into my own mind quite a bit recently. 
 
Forgive me for the brief summary here.. but naptime is very short these days. 

Isaiah-- 7 weeks old hanging out with mama during Choir  

1.  Isaiah is doing GREAT!  He is my best nurser and best sleeper to date.  He was born bigger than my other babies and so I guess it has to do with that.  He is a quiet baby who seems to get lost in his own daydreams and thoughts.  The only time he cries is when he is hungry, needs a diaper or is fighting sleep.  He has never cried during a bath.  Several people have commented that he appears to have an "old soul."  Not sure how to reconcile that as a Christian, but I find it interesting that several other people have said that. 
 
He has been amazingly healing to my broken heart and made Annalise's anniversary that much easier to get through.  I was sad but busy.  Sometimes staying busy is the best place for me to be. 
 
2.  I left a somewhat cryptic message about Xander the last time I blogged.  We are struggling to say the least.  Xander suddenly stopped sleeping and really amped up the acting out.  His impulse control is very poor right now.  We have had serious outbursts on his part.  He has started repetitively doing things and has serious meltdowns if we stop him.  (For example, he will stand at the light switch and flip it hundreds of times.  If we stop him, he does everything in his power to get back to the switch.)  We are in the process of getting down to the bottom of what has caused this, but would you keep praying?  We are exhausted and frustrated and yet very sensitive to our little guy and all he has been through. 
 
3.  We have decided to pull out of our house purchase.  There was a financing snag and it pushed our closing date way out again.  Well, it gave us an out that allowed us to get our escrow money back with no penalty.  After prayer, we took it.  Not sure what the Lord is doing here, but we are trying our best to trust that it is His plan.  Interestingly, the house is listed for much less than the price we offered.  Part of me wonders if this is our house, but just not right now.
 
Another possibility is that the door to this house has been shut because God is keeping us closer to our support system (church, friends etc.) and the school system is better in this county than the other. 
 
4.  Brandon started a new job with a new company.  He actually did his final interview the day that Isaiah was born. And he rocked out that interview on no sleep.  (Isaiah was born at 2:30ish in the morning, we hadn't been to sleep when I went into labor, it took time to get us settled and Brandon had the interview across town that morning.)  He loves his new company.  The hours are much better, he is back in an office environment, etc.  I love the regular hours and benefits.  And the pay is a plus too. (By the way, this was not the financing snag..)
 
 
5.  DeLainey and Julianne have started school again and choir has started up again too.  DeLainey auditioned for a part and got one of the two parts she hoped for.  *proud mama* 
 
Julianne had her Bible Presentation this past Sunday.  Our church gives each 1st grader their very own Bible.  Then when they use their Bible in Sunday School everyone has the same version and the page numbers and such line up.  With new readers this makes things easier. 

Julianne showing off her new Bible
 
 
DeLainey loves Teaching Textbooks!  Finally math isn't a struggle for the two of us!


6.  Solomon is growing by leaps and bounds.  His speech is REALLY growing and we are almost ready to start potty training.  (That roar of excitement you just heard was from the mama that has three in diapers!)
 
I hope to start blogging more regularly! 
 
~Stephanie

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dearest Xander...


Xander,
 
I'm not quite sure why the Lord has blessed *us* with you. We are so undeserving.  But He has and I thank Him every single day for you.
 
You are amazing, my oldest son and my music loving little man.  I love the way you look at your babiest brother and tell me that his name is 'Saiah like I am meeting him for the first time.  I love the way you are SO concerned when he spits up. 
 
You want to fix things and you are fiercely protective.
 
I am too.  And maybe that is why He gave you to me.  We have a lot of things to figure out for you so that you can succeed in the Lord's plans for you.  I believe that He has incredible plans for you.  Plans that I can't even begin to imagine.  Hopefully, these new changes and appointments help us figure things out a bit.
 
But even if we never get things figured out... I want you to know that I love you, always forever and no matter what.  That was the promise I made to you and your birthmom about 3.5 years ago and I stand firm in that.  You've stretched me as a mama and sometimes growth is uncomfortable.  But it is all worth it, when I look into your chocolatey brown eyes and run my hand across your curls.  You are worth it.  No matter what. 
 
I promise to continue to be your voice, your advocate and your biggest cheerleader... until my very last breath. 
 
~Momma
 
(I've intentionally been vague in this posting as we continue to process and make a strategy for Xander and our family.  Would your pray for us in a very real, powerful and intentional way over the next week or so?  We sure would appreciate it.) 
 
 

Friday, September 14, 2012

We Made It...

In addition to having days full of nursings, diapers, and learning to divide my time five ways keeping me away from the blog, other things were as well.

This week was the one year anniversary of us realizing that Annalise was not going to be joining our family. 

I wanted to hide under the covers and sob.

But we made it.  I had asked for prayers from some amazing prayer warrior friends of ours and they literally held us together with their prayers. 

I know God has a plan.  I know He intended our path to cross with hers.  I know He knew from the beginning of time that she was not coming home to us. 

I still just wish *I* knew why.  Maybe I'll know while I'm on earth but maybe I won't know until I get to Heaven.

So we just keep swimming. 

~Stephanie

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Another dietary restriction...

Yesterday we started a 3 week trial of no gluten for Xander.  He had become increasingly more aggitated and after giving him 4 weeks to adjust to life with a little brother, we decided we had to look deeper.

Our chiropractor suggested we try gluten.

So we are. 

So far, things seem to be simmering down.  Our chiropractor did let us know that we needed to do at least 3 weeks to see results.

We also discovered that he cannot tolerate Red Dye 40.  We've seen a great improvement after stopping that.  (We cut out Red Dye before gluten.. have to stay somewhat scientific in our trial. LOL!)

~Stephanie

Monday, September 3, 2012

Some pictures to tide you over...


5 days old
 
Isaiah and Lainey.  She squealed with delight the entire time she held him.

3 weeks old and wide awake


3.5 weeks old. Two words: Milk coma. 



Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lots of Drama... But He is Here!

Sunday, July 29th we went to church as usual but I was really not feeling like myself.  When we got home we ate lunch and all laid down for our usual Sunday nap.  But there was no sleep.  I was contracting regularly and in a really abnormal amount of pain.  So we headed into L and D.

My doctor was on call and came to see me.  I hadn't made any progress so he told me to walk the halls for 2 hours and we'd check again.  Still no progress although they could see the contractions on the screen and he noted I seemed to be in an abnormal amount of pain.  I had an appointment scheduled with him the next morning and fully expected I wouldn't go much longer.

Monday, July 30th, I wore my sunglasses into the doctor's office to hide my bloodshot eyes.  I had no sleep the night before despite ambien and my usual benadryl (for hives.)  The office lady put me in the computer late and my doctor didn't see I had checked in, so he left for surgery.  We left and came back after lunch and saw his partner. 

Dr. E was very concerned about the monitoring strip with my regular contractions but still making no progress.  He was also concerned about Isaiah and asked me to go across the street to the hospital for more monitoring.  He wanted to push fluids as well even though I was well hydrated (not an easy task for me...) 

We arrived at the hospital and things moved really fast.  Fluids were run and monitoring was done.  It looked concerning for a long time.  Then they decided that maybe some pain meds would relax me enough to space things back out.  Isaiah perked up, but I was still in a lot of pain and still not able to sleep.  The on call doctor, Dr. M, asked if I'd be okay with an amnio and we consented.  Results would come the next morning.  I was admitted to the hospital.

July 31st, we were shocked to find out that the amnio indicated that his lungs were not mature.  A repeat csection was scheduled for August 10th but we'd be watching everything very closely.

The days were exhausting and the nights were without much sleep.  Brandon was still working, my aunt was holding down the fort at home and I was doing everything I could to will my body to hold him in.  I really, really didn't want to be separated from him at birth and have him sent to the NICU.  So we prayed and waited.  It never failed right before Bran would have to leave for work, something would go wonky with monitoring.  I went from twice a day monitoring to three times a day.  20 minute strips turned into 2 hours. 

Contractions were still coming and yet nothing was happening. 

My pain was still unable to be managed and my body was quickly giving out.  I waffled between begging God to please just let him come and begging God to keep him in just long enough for us to be able to stay together.  

Sunday, August 5th, the homesickness became too much.  I begged Brandon to please bring me the children although I didn't want them to see me in pain, I needed to see their faces.  He promised he'd bring them after work on Monday. 

Monday, August 6th, I woke up and things just weren't quite right.  I couldn't put my finger on it but told every nurse that asked that something was off.  Brandon brought the children for about an hour and it really helped my spirits.  It took so much energy to try to "fake it" for my girls.  I think they knew things weren't quite right but they didn't say much.  Julianne was most concerned that I had an IV in my arm with several ports.  My 2nd IV of my stay.  I lost that IV shortly after their visit.  

That night Brandon decided we needed something other than hospital food.  He helped me shower and get in fresh pajamas and we enjoyed a quiet dinner just the two of us.  Shortly after, the contractions picked up. 

My third monitoring of that day was obviously different than the first two.  Brandon and I prayed and watched the Olympics.  I had the same nurse for the third night in a row and she kept trying to pinpoint my "not quite feeling right" description, but I couldn't narrow much down.  Soon after I was holding onto the hospital rail, begging Brandon to come stand right next to me. 

The nurse decided to give me my night medications and give it an hour.  Shortly after my nurse assignment changed and we were calling for my nurse.  I had been given ambien, pain medication and my nightly benadryl and was still awake and in pain. 

They connected me back to monitors and it was obvious that things had picked up even more.  She phoned the doctor on call and we started fluids again but first had to do some work on my 4th IV of my stay.  Then they ran a relaxant and the contractions got stronger.  Still no change and Isaiah was not presenting correctly.  There was some murmuring as multiple nurses watched the monitoring strips.  I was afraid to probe too much... this being my 4th delivery, I knew something wasn't right...

It was announced that I'd be having Isaiah that day but we were going to need a repeat csection. 

Things went really fast and then he was born.  He was watched in the nursery for about 40 minutes and then we were put back together.  He didn't need the NICU!  Praise God! 

We were discharged together on 8/9.   We took the early discharge... but that is a story for another day.

We are over the moon excited that he is here and all is well.  I'm still having severe back pain.  Even through the pain medication for my csection.  Prayers are appreciated for that issue. 

Every second of the rollercoaster ride was worth it.  He is WORTH IT.  I start crying when I think about all the prayers that have gone up for my sweet baby boy.  We had no idea how this was going to end when I woke up months ago in that puddle of blood but God HAS worked it all for good. 

I feel so blessed.  Blessed beyond measure. 


Isaiah Samuel:  7 lbs 12.7 oz (my biggest!), 20.5 inches long (my longest!)
Born August 7, 2012


The first picture of the Fantastic Five.  It was love at first sight.

Father, I am so very thankful that You have chosen to bless me with five children.  Thank you for sending Isaiah to us safely.  Thank you for the preparation that my VBAC was not meant to be.  Everyone seemed shocked that I was calm but I had such peace.  Your will for my life continues to leave me breathless.  It hasn't been an easy path, but You've blessed us in our obedience.  I'm blessed beyond measure by You.  Love You and praise You.  

~Stephanie

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Quiet but Still Here...

Today I am 35 weeks 6 days... I've gotten quiet on the blog because there isn't much to say.  I spend my days nesting like a crazy woman and chasing toddlers who have suddenly decided that they are going to push every button with a frazzled nerve underneath.  My aunt is here and I feel like part of it is showing off. 

I've packed almost everything that we will not need in the next few weeks, tied up some loose strings from our homeschooling year and spent way too much money on Magic Erasers.  LOL!

I am contracting but irregularly and nothing is happening on the baby arrival front.  At 35 weeks I'm not far along enough to help yet I'm far enough along that no extreme measures will be taken to stop me.  So I'm living in baby limbo land for now. 

Isaiah is NOT in a good position for labor or delivery (though he is head down) and that is part of what is causing me serious pain.  I secretly feel like my VBAC odds are closing in on me and this will be a repeat csection. :/  Not thrilled in the least about that, since there are NO doctors here that will allow a patient to VBAC after 2 csections.  But I digress. 

The rest of the pain I feel is from a fall I took on Tuesday.  Brandon and I came in from the rain and I was wearing flip flops (the only shoes that fit these days.)  When I got to the kitchen tile, one leg went one way and the other went the other way and all 35 weeks pregnant of me nearly did a split.  I snatched my back and grabbed the counter but walking and even sitting upright has been painful since. 

This afternoon I am headed back to the chiropractor.  I usually go on Mondays, but fear if I don't get in soon I'll REALLY not be able to walk this weekend. 

The house closing seemed to be going smoothly, but now we seem to have hit a small snag.  I'm growing weary about that because we have already turned in our notice of intent to vacate for our rental.  Anyway, prayers are appreciated for that but I can't get into specifics openly on our blog. 

Anyway, more of the same, pretty much. 

~Stephanie

Monday, July 16, 2012

34 Weeks and Chugging Along...

Last week, I had a big ultrasound because my records had not been sent over from OB #2... sigh... and so Dr. S wanted his ultrasound tech to do a looksie. 

Everything looks good.  No previa, baby head down (but laying in a capital L all on my right side), placenta looks good etc.  They estimated his weight at 6 lbs (which can be +/- 1 lb.) 

Last night, friends from church threw an amazing baby shower for us.  I didn't take any pictures but one of the girls that threw it did so I'll post pictures when I get them.  I was so touched and blessed that even baby #5 was celebrated.  I held back tears most of the night. 

Today, I went in for my week #34 appt and Isaiah is still laying in his L.  I was a bit dehydrated but promised to drink up and Dr. S let me go instead of getting fluids.  Gotta love that he trusts me at least that much. 

We talked some birth plan stuff and officially decided which hospital we are going to deliver at.  (Dr. S delivers at three.. so I had my pick.)  We are delivering at the one closest to us, our friends and our church.  Today we drove to the hospital (that we have never been inside) asked some questions about which way to enter during business hours and night time.  (I've had two night-time admission babies and so that is a very important thing for me to ask!)  And I pre-registered so hopefully everything will go smoothly.  *fingers crossed*

Looks like ol' Webster worked out for me as far as getting Isaiah head down!  I've had zinging back spasms going up my spinal cord for the last few days, so I'm eager to get to the chiropractor this afternoon.  I believe something is pinched and being adjusted always makes me feel better. 

Just a few more things on my nesting list.  Between the Craigslisting for the move, packing things that we don't need out right now for the move and the extreme cleaning, the Bunch is getting a little nervous.  I like to keep them on their toes. ;) 

~Stephanie

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Webster Adventures with Isaiah...

So I've been to my chiropractor twice.  Both times I felt much better when I left.

The first try was on Friday.  I was very out of alignment and could barely walk.  The insides of my legs had the worst searing pain.  At the end of being adjusted that had already disappeared.  While Brandon and Xander were being adjusted, my belly completely changed shape and the movement I was feeling was right in the middle.  Su-weet!  But it felt too easy... 

I arranged to go back on Monday.  I thought Isaiah was still in the middle but could feel a catch in my hip so Dr. H did alot of hipwork for me and again I was walking better when I left.

BUT, last night as things quieted down and I started paying more attention, I realized that the movement was mostly on my right again.  And this morning it is further to my right.  My belly shape has changed back. 

*sigh* 

I have an ultrasound tomorrow and we will see what is going on.  There could be a reason he prefers this position.  Then Monday, I have an OB appt and then back to the chiropractor. 

Seeing the chiropractor surely can't hurt even if Isaiah won't stay head down. 

Now.. to work on my iron which doesn't surprise me a bit.  I've not been crazy about meat, especially red meat in this heat, so it's not a shocker. Usually red meat is how I manipulate my iron which is usually borderline at best due to my blood disorder. 

I see a steak in my future. :)

~Stephanie

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wrong way, Isaiah...

So for quite some time I've been very uncomfortable this pregnancy.  I attributed it to being super busy and stressed and chasing two little boys aged 3 and 2. 

And then one night when it was quiet, I noticed that the movement was not in the usual spot.  I mentioned this to my OB and he agreed with me.  Isaiah is laying wrong. 

Instead of head down, which is how all my babies have been well before now,  Isaiah is laying across (transverse.)  My doctor has said that this could be keeping me from having to deal with as much preterm labor as I'm used to because baby is not engaged. 



So while that is good, it also poses it's own issues.  Unless Isaiah moves, I'm looking at a repeat csection.  This is kind of sad to me, because I've worked so hard to keep my options for a VBAC open.  But I've had this sinking feeling the whole pregnancy...  but pushed through. 

Most of the issue is that I don't go the full 40 weeks, so he doesn't really have too much time to move based on my history. 

I have some tricks up my sleeve that I'm going to try... but we'll see!

I, of course, know that no matter how he arrives, it will all be worth it.  I just don't like being pigeon-holed.  And of course, no one looks forward to major abdominal surgery recovery.. especially not with our sized crew and Brandon having only 1 week of vacation time. 

So we pray and we wait.  (This is the theme of 2013.)  Will you join me in prayer?  

I go for another ultrasound on July 12th at 5:30pm... we are hoping he is engaged by then.  C'mon, 'Saiah (what Xander calls him) be nice to mama!

~Stephanie

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Tour-- Picture Heavy

Yesterday, I went out in 108* heat and humidity to hear the report from the inspector.  (I am from Georgia and temps like that are normal there, but it is still sweltering and miserable, and now my ankles are SO paying the price.) 

There are a few minor things on the list.  A few will need addressed after closing (like the kitchen faucet that has very little water pressure.)  Most of the others are things *I* probably wouldn't have noticed.  For example: The bedroom doors for the children's rooms don't latch when you close them.  We close doors so rarely, it may have taken me months/years to figure that one out.  They can be adjusted but really, right now it is the least of my worries.  (Now the swelling in my ankles? THAT worries me! I can't see my ankle bone!)

A tiny little drama-ish story.  Solomon has already fallen down the stairs in this house.  He did it yesterday and there was blood freakin' everywhere.  He tore his upper frenulum.  So I've already cleaned the vinyl on my hands and knees once and we haven't even closed.  HA.  Solomon is okay and my heartrate has returned to normal.  Life with boys, what can I say?

Looking back through my pictures there are obviously places I didn't bother to take pictures, but I did take enough for you to get the general idea.  The house is a very clean canvas right now, but we are okay with that... for now.  (We already have a list of things for "Someday.") 


Right when you walk in the homeschool room is to your right.  I took this from the OTHER entrance to the room.  This is technically a diningroom, but A.  It is carpeted and B. There is another eating area.  We aren't fancy people.  ;) 

In this picture, I'm standing in the doorway from the homeschool room to the kitchen.


Not really our style, but we have plans... eventually.  This is a much better layout than our current rental.  (Ya know, where my dishwasher is ACROSS from my sink. HA)  A fridge is on the To Buy List. 

On the other side of that half wall, there is the "breakfast" area that we will use as our dining room.  Remember.. not fancy people. :)


This is the first picture we ever saw of it, and I thought, NO WAY jose!  That isn't big enough.  Turns out, it is a bad angle and doesn't photograph it well. 

So I tried again, yesterday and got this. 


And:


The ceiling makes it feel MUCH larger than that first picture. :) 

Through the doorway on the left of that picture is the living room. 




We truly LIVE in our livingroom.  So this space will be welcomed and used often. 

Oh and I live in the laundry room.  That shelf will come down, so we can stack a washing machine and dryer and still fit a freezer in the room. :)




Downstairs there is also a pantry, half bath and a coat closet.  But I'll spare you those details. LOL

Upstairs:


Master Bedroom to the right:


Master Bathroom:

Master Closet (and Vanna Soli) 



And two very similar bedrooms (one boys, one girls): 


Kids Bathroom:


Kids bathroom from another angle. 


There is also a linen closet upstairs. 

I still feel like I should pinch myself and I may be holding my breath til closing.  There is an appraisal, septic inspection and termite inspection left to go.  *slow deep breaths*. 

~Stephanie

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Hand +1

Julianne's sixth birthday was earlier this month and completed our kiddo birthday season for this year. ) 

That morning, she just KNEW it was her birthday and wasn't about to let anyone accidentally forget.  She granted us permission to look at houses on her birthday and our realtor brought Julianne a Happy Birthday balloon and she beamed from ear to ear during the showings.

All Julianne could talk about was her Auntie Karon coming for her birthday and eating Sweet Frog (frozen yogurt.)  Unfortunately Auntie Karon had an infection in her leg and her doctor wouldn't clear her for the drive from Georgia to Virginia. 

So Sweet Frog would have to do.  I prayed really hard that Julianne wouldn't spend her birthday day  sad about Auntie Karon not getting clearance to come but she seemed to take it in stride.  "Your doctor is silly, Annie Karon..." is an exact quote from their phone conversation.   *giggle... * 

But God had already worked it out for Julianne.

We looked at houses and then went to Sweet Frog.  Yes, I let my hair down and we had dessert before dinner. 




As we were sitting and eating our yogurt, we looked up and realized that a large group of firefighters/paramedics were also making their yogurt.  Hmmm.. I thought. 

We finished and walked outside and guess who was parked behind us?  TWO firetrucks and a pile of firefighters/paramedics. 

Xander (not being the least bit shy) started shouting "Fi-yah twuck!" and jumping up and down.  This display of complete and total excitement got a firefighter's attention and opened conversation.  Then Lainey volunteered that it was Julianne's SIXTH birthday.  Oh the firemen were just super excited about the opportunity to make it special for our little Bunch.

So they each got to get in the front and look at ALL the buttons.  They turned on lights.  And they sat in the back.  I was trying to snap pictures to capture it all (with my phone, boo!) 


Xander was a little shy once he got into the firetruck. 



When we got back in the van Julianne declared it the "most special birthday ever!"

I'll take it!

~Stephanie

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Under Contract...



Under Contract.  First inspection tomorrow. :)  Please pray!

Friday, June 22, 2012

31 weeks: Medical Drama and More Houses...

Last Friday, we managed to get into a house last minute and take a looksie around.  It made me dance in the kitchen. ;)  It is not exactly what we imagined or hoped for, but I think it will work out nicely for the way that we use our space. 

(I do find it rather sad that when we spoke to the neighbor across the street she stressed that the home would be too small for us, because she felt her home that was a little bigger was too tight with three children.  It's the American way, huh?  More, more, more.) 

And then we saw a house where we'd never be able to get up the driveway in the snow or rain.  We barely got to it during the summer and it needs massive amounts of work. 

The price range we are in is so funny.  You see all kinds of things apparently. 

The weekend was pretty low key.  Saturday Brandon worked, Sunday we went to church and celebrated Father's Day and then Monday we went to Lowes. 

Apparently, I cannot walk Lowes without stirring up a bunch of contractions.  It happened the last time I went but I drank a ton of water and was able to ward them off.  This time, it just didn't work.

After about an hour of contractions every 3-5 minutes like clockwork, I got in a warm bath and after that a shower.  But it didn't help.  Bran called my OB's number and another doctor was on call.  He was very short with me and said, "Well, I guess you need to come in." And then hung up!  He hung up before I could tell him it may take awhile since we live 45 minutes away (on a good day with little traffic.) 

We made arrangements for the children and headed in.  The hospital was ridiculous.  No one bothered to see if I had a UTI causing my contractions, no one ran labs and no one even checked to see what was going on.  In fact, a doctor never saw me, only two poorly informed residents...

The next morning they decided I had made progress but the resident told me it didn't matter because I had had three babies.  And then they discharged  me.  Never saw a real doc or even an OBGYN resident. 

Brandon was furious and I was exhausted.  We figured out that I slept about 11 minutes broken into 2 minute segments between the monitors being adjusted, having to go to the restroom and contractions.

Later that morning we found a new to us OBGYN.  One that would see me within an hour if I could get to his office in that time.  I also found out that I had been misled and I CAN deliver at the closest hospital here.  (Before I was told that they could not care for a preterm baby and we'd be separated.  This is true until 28/29 weeks, but I am past that.) 

Things have settled down since then, but the dilation won't go backwards, so I'm literally on pins and needles waiting to see what happens.  I'm resting in knowing that God knows Isaiah's birthday and that he is big enough that he would most likely do well and just need some assistance.  It still hurts to think about things in terms of "odds" and the thought of leaving Isaiah in a hospital to come home sends me into sobbing fits. 

Little Isaiah sure likes to keep us on our toes.  But we still love him, to the moon and back times infinity.

~Stephanie

Thursday, June 14, 2012

More House Chronicles

Brandon and I bid on a SECOND house this week. No dice. This is getting old.

I mean, really.. You want the price from 2007 (note: still near the top of the bubble)but you did not maintain your home. You have not decluttered. There is no walkway from the driveway to the front door. You have TERRIBLE mismatched appliances that you are being "generous" and leaving behind. Your kitchen layout stinks. You ONLY CLEAN ON FRIDAY. The first time we came to your house we walked through a FOOT of weeds and I nearly went into labor when my husband pointed out the STUFFED bobcat in your extra room.. which I have noted cannot be advertised as a bedroom because it.has.no.closet.

How nice of you to agree to have your house power washed. It is super sad that we even had to put that INTO the offer. I'd be ashamed to try to sell my house with green slime on the side of my house. Apparently you are not.

And you STILL don't want to actually pick a close date. You were LATE responding to us and then you STILL want 14 MORE days to pick a closing date? And you are "offended" that we asked to have where you claim a small limb crashed into your roof, leaving a dent in the roof line fixed? And somehow I am supposed to trust you that it is PURELY cosmetic even though it happened FIVE YEARS AGO and YOU bought the house like that? And this is somehow supposed to make me feel better about your home maintenance because you are a maintenance man at a nursing home but your roof has been like that for five years?!?!?

Price didn't budge, and yet you REFUSE to correct the roof. I believe the words were, "I will not budge on this issue."

NOPE. We don't really want your house that bad anyway.

Two words: Buyer's.Market.

And then I find it mighty funny that less than 12 hours after you "lay it all out on the line" with your ridiculous demands, suddenly because we are no longer interested in negotiating with you, you are NOW willing to fix the roof. You know, the same one that you just said that you weren't willing to budge on at all.

Too bad, so sad, too little, too late.

In your case, sir, "Motivated seller" means "I want my cake and to eat it too. I want the best price of 2007 but I don't want to keep up my home for you to be able to justify it." I'm thinking you may want to rethink the whole "motivated seller" thing.

Signed,

An Educated Buyer


Friday, June 8, 2012

House Chronicles 4: I almost went into labor...

Julianne was sweet enough to say that she didn't mind if we went to go look at a few houses on her birthday yesterday (birthday post to follow) so we planned to go to 3 more houses before we went to our favorite frozen yogurt place and had dessert before our dinner. ;)

I think the fact that we pack a lot of snacks and let the kids control the radio on these trips swayed her a bit. My motto for certain situations: "Whatever it takes to git 'er done!"

Anyway, when we met with the agent she said another house in the same neighborhood as the one we bid on had just dropped it's price. She wanted to know if we wanted to look and said sure. So it turned out we saw four.

House #9, we loved from the outside. When we went in, it was impeccable. Like think Jeffery Lewis clean. ;) It's all good, I get along with OCD people fabulously, especially when I am buying their USED items that look brand new. Tee hee. It had an amazing eat in kitchen with lots of cabinets and counters. The view from the front steps (no porch)was beautiful. Like, I'd actually get up and drink my coffee there instead of having my coffee brought to my bedside.

Take a peek:



The one downside is that there is only a living room and kitchen for common space. We live in our common space, not holed away in our respective bedrooms. I think it might be a little small for us long term-- especially as we continue to feel called to adopt again. (No shocker there right?)

The upside is that it is a beautiful drive and the house is spotless and nice! I seriously walked through and after room 2 I was like, "Sooooooooooooooo... where is the catch?" Couldn't find one other than the common space. And it was a VERY reasonable price.

This one stays on the list.

House #10 was at the top of our price range and I immediately smelled smoke when I walked in. Dear America, air freshener does NOT hide smoke smell. Bran and our agent blamed the fireplace but later after walking in another door, they smelled it too. I'm telling you, I should be a professional smeller. All the bedrooms were upstairs and the master bathroom only had a shower. It was in a neighborhood but the lot felt private because of all the trees.

The backyard had chickens, which I later found out Julianne thinks we should eat on the first night we move in. I had to explain that the chickens generally go with the previous owners and that they were chickens used for eggs. Remind me not to leave a pet I love near her for too long.

These owners had fabulous landscaping skills (or ability to pay for landscaping) and I spotted Erika's favorite flowers ever in the front yard and had to snap a picture for her.



House #11, was a cape (I think? I'm still learning my house shapes/styles) in more of a neighborhood. Still large lots but neighbors were all easily visable because there were no trees. I think we've gotten a little spoiled by living in a more private location. It felt a little fishbowl-ish. But I think a fence and landscaping would help that.

The complete deal breaker is that there is no dedicated master bath and the kitchen was in need of major renovating. We also found some areas that are in need of repair.

House #12... I almost went into labor. First, the seller's agent had warned us that the owners only clean on Friday and they only mow that day too. so we walked through a foot of weeds to get to the front door. The owners were there but leaving which was awkward.

Right when you walked in the house you could go up 2-3 stairs to the majority of the house or down a short stairway to get to the garage, extra room and storage. Strange to me, but we went down since the owners were upstairs.

We peeked at the garage, the storage and then Bran headed into the extra room. I noticed from the hallway that they had deer heads on the wall and seemed to be into hunting. Hey, I'm from Georgia, I get it. My brother had his first buck mounted too. But I noticed the deer (yes multiple) were almost all wearing sunglasses. Ohhhh----kay.

I'm standing there looking at the deer and the room, and I realize it has no closet so it technically is not a bedroom so I start thinking about how we would use it. I'm deep in though when Bran tells me to look down.

I can't see my feet these days (29 weeks today!) and so I have to do this manuver to see over the belly. I looked down and was standing right.next.to this:



And Brandon said I looked like a cartoon. My legs were just a-goin' and yet I was going nowhere, until he looked down to wipe his eyes and when he looked back up, I was halfway up the stairs.

Now, remember we didn't know if the owners were still in the house, so we had to temper our response. But holy moly, I nearly went into labor.

Bran showed our agent and she jumped a country mile too even though she was standing further away from the dead thing in the tank than I was, thankyouverymuch. That room is now known as The Dead Room.

This house had more space but the kitchen leaves me puzzled. I think it was the angled sink, lack of cabinets and lack of counter space that makes it feel wrong. And there was a breakfast room that was small that I'm not sure what we could use it for, so it feels like wasted space... I know people redo kitchens, but they get expensive and it is inconvenient, especially when you have a child with severe, multiple food allergies. And the landscaping was a hot mess. Actually, I don't even think you could call that landscaping. Their jungle was untamed. There, that is more precise.

Maybe y'all have a better imagination than me. Have a look:



~Stephanie