Tag Archives: family

Thankful Series: Donna from House of Lloyd

Thankful series

I’ve enjoyed getting to know Donna from House of Lloyd as my not-so-new-anymore cousin-in-law the past few years, mostly through her blog since we don’t live all that close together.

Donna has a really amazing story to share about learning to trust God’s timing and showing thankfulness even when he doesn’t answer our prayers right away. And if you are a person of faith who has experienced any sort of infertility or if you have been through the waiting process with adoption (or are currently in the midst of it), you won’t want to miss what she has to say. It’s such a sweet reminder that God has our good in mind, even when we’re not totally convinced that’s true.

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When Misty asked me to guest post on her blog about thankfulness I eagerly said yes and told her I would write up something about adoption since it is a topic near and dear to my heart. However, as I began to process the post and all I wanted to say, I decided I had much more to be thankful for than adoption.

Both David and I grew up in large families. When we married we knew we wanted kids, but we never agreed on a firm number. We just knew we wanted to be parents. When the time came for us to start our family we thought … this will be easy. However, month after month we found ourselves not expecting. After much medical testing we were told that we would have to go through fertility
treatments in order to have a child. Discouraged but not defeated (because there was hope) we began treatments. Several years later our hope was gone and we were defeated.

I gave up. I cried out to God. Truthfully I was angry at God. I felt like I was less of a woman because I could not do what every other woman on the planet could. I had students in my class getting pregnant, but I could not have a child, it was not fair. I prayed and sought God and finally turned my family over to him. Two weeks later I found out I was expecting.

I thought, “God, why did you do this to me. Why this path for our family? Why the torture, the pain, the hopelessness? Why did we have to work so hard and this and spend so much money to get to this point?”

I then realized that God had a lesson for me and that lesson was that it was in God’s time, not my time.

After having Caleb in 1996 we were told that due to PCOS and advanced endometriosis I would probably not be able to conceive again. So we began to talk about adoption. In 2006, we started the adoption process. I won’t bore you with all the details. I will say it was long and painful.

In July of 2008 our paperwork was set to expire, and we decided we were done. I wrote a blog post announcing to the world that we were done. We began to spend our adoption nest egg. Once again I was angry at God for not letting me have the family I always wanted and worked so hard to obtain. Once again life was not fair.

Then one night just 2 weeks before we would have to renew our paperwork my phone rang. It was the adoption agency. I ignored the call. David’s phone rang, and he ignored the call. The house phone rang, and we also ignored that call. I could not talk to them only to get my hopes up to have them dashed again. The calling cycle started again. This time David answered the call. A few minutes later he came to me and told me about the situation. We cried, we debated, we worried, and we had hope but did not want to be too hopeful. The next night at 11:45 after a nonstop day of travel and stress we had our baby girl placed in our arms. Once again God reminded me that it is always in his time not my time.

I am thankful for the lesson that God’s timing is always perfect. When life gets difficult I say to myself, “wait for God’s timing.” His timing brought me two beautiful children, Caleb and Madilyn. Because of this journey I am a different parent than I would have been if my children had come more easily. David and I have a stronger marriage because of this journey. Today and always I am thankful for the journey.

To read more, check out my blog, House of Lloyd, where I write about adoption, weight loss, family, religion and gardening.

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Missed a post in the Thankful Series? You can catch up on them here.

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Loss, PPD and the holidays

My sisters and me with our dad at Christmas in 2006. Hard to believe that was five years ago.

I’ve had this post rolling around in my head ever since I visited “home” for Thanksgiving. I don’t know why I haven’t written it yet except that it really is still hard to think about my dad sometimes.

Something that struck me about the time I spent with my sisters and our significant others over Thanksgiving was that we were able to share stories about our dad. Good memories, funny little things we remembered, even a few things we wish had turned out differently.

And I was able to reflect on my dad and who he was (and who he wasn’t, for that matter) without feeling like the walls were closing in on me.

Up to this point, the postpartum depression I’ve dealt in recent months was so much in control that I really couldn’t even think about my dad without facing a downward spiral of crappy emotions. And that really kept me from even being able to grieve for him because I basically just couldn’t even think about him. And when I did, those thoughts quickly turned to me — what I was doing wrong, how bad my life was, what was wrong with me.

This is not to say that I feel at fault for this or that I could have done anything about it at the time. But I am really glad that I now feel like I’m able to grieve for my father.

Christmas was one of his favorite times of the year. I will always remember (and this is so silly, but it’s a fun memory for me) him wrapping presents on random nights in December and then knocking on the bedroom door, indicating that he wanted me to come get them. I would race down the hallway to get the wrapped-up presents, hoping to catch a glimpse of something unwrapped on the other side of the door before he closed it. I never did catch that glimpse.

I think about being a kid and loading up in my dad’s truck, bundled up against the cold, to find a Christmas tree. We’d take a saw and drive out into the woods somewhere near our house, looking for the perfect tree. We’d decorate it with every Christmas ornament, string of lights, strand of garland and piece of tinsel we owned, and by Christmas, it would be almost hidden behind stacks of presents.

Today when I was trying to get Noah’s attention, I caught myself saying, “Psst!” That’s something my dad always used to do. He would say, “Psst!” and then when I would look at him, he’d wink. I have a feeling I’ll be teaching that to Noah.

One of the things that makes me saddest is that Noah and my dad never got to meet. Never got to go fishing together. Never rode down to the river or threw a baseball. Noah never got to see him play Santa Claus.

But one of the things that makes me happy now is that I can actually process this, and when the time comes, I know I’ll be ready to share my dad with Noah.

I think visiting family at Christmas will come with its own set of challenges, and I hope I’m ready to face them. It has always been such a special time for my family, even though it’s been different in recent years. And I want Noah to get a glimpse of what it used to be like.

I also don’t want PPD to take away from the joy of  my little boy’s first Christmas and our first Christmas as a family of three.  I’m going to do my best to focus on the good and to leave the worries behind in Tuscaloosa. I’m going to embrace the craziness of the holidays with my family and remind myself when I feel a little overwhelmed that everything is going to be OK. I will take some time for myself while allowing Noah’s grandparents to have a little extra time with him (AKA babysitting).

It’s going to be a different Christmas, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a good one. And I want to honor my dad and my little three-member family by celebrating.

The Noah update

A common occurrence: Noah is reaching for my phone.

I was trying to think of blog topics for this week and realized it’s actually been quite a while since I posted an update just about Noah.

Honestly, the kid is amazing. He’s closing in on 8 months old, and he is sweet, adorable and, most importantly, happy.

Developmentally, he seems to be right on track. He’s crawling (mostly an army crawl but occasionally on hands and knees) and pulling up on things. We’ve already had to lower his crib once and are about to have to lower it all the way. He makes lots of sounds, both consonants and vowels, and loves to jabber.

He has started recognizing his own name, and he plays little games. One of his favorite things to do is smack his lips. We smack ours back, and he smacks again. Sometimes Bobby or I can initiate this game. He also loves to do what I call the “Indian noise” (yes, I know that’s probably not a good thing to call it, but I can’t think of anything else); he makes a noise while one of us pats his mouth with our hand.

Art from Noah's day care

As far as size, he hasn’t been measured since his six-month well baby visit to Dr. B, but he’s definitely still growing. He’s started to slim down some since he started crawling more, but he also seems to be getting taller. We are going to need to buy a new car seat for him soon!

He’s getting more and more hair, and he now has two teeth. He really enjoys eating solids, and his favorites are probably still carrots and green beans. Lately I’ve tried making some purees for him, and they’ve gotten mixed reviews from Noah. The best seems to be the banana-yogurt mixture, but he hates pureed carrots that I make. I’ve tried adding a little butter and salt, and that seems to help.

We’ve also been giving Noah more table foods since he shows a lot of interest and LOVES sitting at the table with us while we eat. We had Thanksgiving dinner with friends on Sunday, and Noah got to try butternut squash soup, mashed potatoes, green beans and a few tiny bites of turkey. He ate it up. I’d say the mashed potatoes and turkey were his favorites.

Foot turkey!

Noah also really seems to be thriving in his day care. He loves being around all the other kids, and he (thankfully) hasn’t hit a clingy stage where he doesn’t want us to leave him there. I really hope we won’t have to deal with that at all! I think being around the other kids (and being one of the younger kids in his class) actually helps him developmentally, too.

So that’s sort of where Noah is right now. He’s really at a fun age and a lot of fun to be around. I won’t be surprised if he’s walking within the next two months. It’s so weird how fast time is going and how fast he’s growing, so Bobby and I are trying to soak it all in and enjoy every moment!

No, Noah, there’s not a Santa Claus

No Santa Claus

Image from YesIAmCheap.com

In the 1890s, a little girl named Virginia wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun, saying that her friends told her Santa Claus didn’t exist and seeking reassurance from the newspaper because her daddy told her that if it was in the Sun, then it was true. The editorial board famously responded with a letter titled, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

The response goes on to say that the world would be a dreary place and the light of childhood would be extinguished if Santa didn’t exist. But I don’t think this is true. I sure hope not since we plan on telling Noah from the beginning that Santa is not real.

I know this is probably not a popular way to go, but it’s what Bobby and I have decided. Here’s our reasoning:

  • We don’t want to lie to our kid. That’s putting it bluntly, of course, and I’m not accusing anyone of hurting their child by telling them Santa exists. For us, it has potential to create a trust issue when Noah finds out — because he will find out, just like every other kid does — Santa isn’t really real. If we are telling him in every other instance that he can trust us and that we won’t lie to him, why should this one be different?
  • We don’t want to run the risk that Christmas becomes all about the gifts. The Santa myth puts so much emphasis on presents, and while we still plan to give gifts at Christmas, it’s just not going to be the main event. Looking back, I know I missed the point as a kid, and I want to try to help Noah understand that spending quality time with family and helping others are much bigger parts of Christmas than the gifts.
  • I wouldn’t say religious reasons have much to do with the decision, but we are Christians and will share our beliefs with Noah as he grows up. We don’t ever want him to think God is like Santa: that he doesn’t exist, or if he does, he only gives you stuff when you are “good enough.”
  • Not all parents use “Santa” to manipulate their kids into behaving better, but many do. We don’t want to be tempted to do that, because manipulation is manipulation, no matter how good the intentions are.

We’ve definitely put some thought into this decision, and I feel certain it’s the right one for our family. I think we will absolutely tell Noah the story of Santa Claus, but we just won’t tell him Santa brings him presents, comes down the chimney, eats cookies that he leaves for him or that Santa is “watching him.”

I don’t think he’ll be missing out on much because we will begin our own traditions, and he will have happy Christmases built on the values that we’ve chosen for our family.

If your family has chosen not to “do” Santa Claus, how has it gone for you? I’d love to hear from some folks who have older kids!

Thankful Series: Bob the Writer

Thankful seriesAs I continue my recovery from postpartum depression, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways other than medication that I can cope and deal with the tough times that are part of everyday life. The idea for this series came partly from allowing my mind to wander through some ideas while I was driving one day and (admittedly) party from seeing other people doing the same thing on their blogs (like Momma Bird! Holla!).

One of the most draining, dark things about PPD was the feeling that there was nothing good in life — that all the things that might even be considered good were ultimately draining, or I didn’t deserve them so they would be taken away, or everyone else thought they were good but I just couldn’t see it from where I was mentally and emotionally. Getting into the habit of seeing the good things in my life and being thankful for them helps me recognize that there’s more than darkness and depression in my life. There’s hope.

So, especially coming into the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I want to be able to dwell on those things and not just the bad things or the hard things that have happened in the past year. And I’m asking other people to join me in that and to share their stories.

My husband, Bobby, is sharing today. He’s one of the things I am most thankful for. He has been a rock and an anchor for me in the past 16 months through pregnancy, childbirth, the death of my father, PPD, the tornado … I wouldn’t have made it through these things without him. Even at the moments when he was at a loss, he was there, and I’ll always be grateful for that.

Here’s his story.

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When Misty asked me to guest blog about an aspect of being thankful, I was happy to say yes. I had a ton of great ideas, and was excited to share them with her audience.

However, I’m a major procrastinator, so I never took advantage of those ideas. Now it’s November 3, and I’m doing NaNoWriMo. Oops.

So please bear with me while I talk about being thankful. I’m going to simply be honest, and lay a lot out there. I have more to be thankful than most. I’ve lived most of my life as somewhat of a cad, an untrustworthy, irascible lout who was looking out for no one but himself. I hadhusband, baby, nature, overalls very little conscience, zero faith and a dwindling core of — well, not friends, exactly — people I hadn’t betrayed or hurt yet.

It was no way to live.

In the past five years I’ve changed so much. Rediscovered my battered faith. Married the best woman I know, bought a house, had a kid. Well, Misty had the kid. But I helped! And not just in the beginning, either, thankyouverymuch. I became a master of back and foot rubs. I was there in the delivery room to be yelled and cussed at. (Although Misty didn’t cuss a ton. I think she called me an a-hole once.)

My old view was nihilistic. I didn’t mind using up things or people because — hey, we all get used up in the end, you know? But I was wrong. We don’t get used up unless we let it happen.

I’m thankful for so much. This past weekend is a great example. My wife and I went on a road trip to see family in southeast Alabama, about four hours away. Every time I see my dad hold my son, it brings tears to my eyes. This weekend he bent down and gave Noah a kiss on the top of the head. It’s rare for my Dad to show affection like that, and I just felt so fortunate to be a part of that moment.

Another moment: My mom tucked Noah into bed with her and let him nap beside her. We had the pack-n-play over at my mother-in-law’s house, and Noah decided he didn’t want to nap on the pallet my mom made for him. So he got to nap with Granny. Moments like that make my heart swell with happiness.

family, baby, nature, portraitThat’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed these days: I’m thankful to be here, to be experiencing the moments of everyday life with a good woman and a great kid. Every second that I’m a father to Noah is like holding a precious gem. Being his father, being Misty’s husband — being the man I am today — makes me thankful.

I’m also thankful that my lovely and talented wife let me guest-post on her blog. I hope you enjoyed what you read here, and that you’ll find some other worthwhile things at my own blog: http://bobthewriter.com.

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Thanks for keeping the peace in the Mathews household and writing what I asked you to, Bobby.

Seriously, I’m happy to have had Bobby guest post because I think it shows readers the other half (or third, as it may be) of our story. I also look up to his writing ability immensely and am proud to have him sharing a tidbit of his talent here.

You can check out future Thankful Series posts on Thursdays in November and December. I’ve got some great folks lined up for guest posts, so be sure to stop back by!

Thankful button

Wordy Wednesday: Fall road trip, and the importance of family

Noah, car seat, road trip, sucking thumbBobby, Noah and I loaded up in the Rendezvous (Her name’s Serenity.) and took off to South Alabama last weekend. My nephew Jerred’s birthday party was Saturday, and we’d missed our planned visit two weeks earlier because we were all sickly. It ended up being easily the best visit we’ve had since Noah was born.

I don’t know what it was that made this particular visit so special. Maybe that Noah’s gotten to an age where he’s really pleasant to be around, active, cheerful — and the fact that this is the first time Bobby and I have really felt like we knew what we were doing with a baby on the road. That tickle of anxiety I’d always felt on our previous long trips with Noah was nowhere to be found.

This is how good the trip was: Bobby and I actually talked about the idea of moving closer to family. It really wasn’t a serious conversation, but we agreed it was something we would have considered if I hadn’t gotten my current job.

Especially since my dad died, I think we are both aware of the need to spend time with our parents, with my Meemaw, who is 87 and still works outside in her garden every day, and with other family. We get so wrapped up in our everyday lives, the washer being broken, the dishes needing to be done, Noah’s ongoing cold — the list goes on — that we sometimes forget how important that is to us. Maybe that doesn’t make sense to anyone else, but that’s what happens.

Grandpa, cedar, toy boxSo I think that’s part of what was so special about this weekend. We left all the everyday stuff behind and were reminded of what’s important to us. Bobby’s dad (Grandpa, to Noah) sat with us on the porch and showed us the wood he had been working on to make a toy box for Noah for Christmas. Mr. Mathews was an upholsterer before he retired, and the cedar had been sitting in his workshop since Bobby was a child. He said he knew he would find a use for it someday.

Bobby said he’d rarely seen his dad be affectionate with anyone the way he is with Noah. Noah pulled on his mustache, and we all laughed. Mr. Mathews surreptitiously kissed him on the top of the head, and Bobby had to walk away to hide the tears in his eyes.

Granny, nap, babyMrs. Mavis (Bobby’s mom, and Granny to Noah) told us before Noah was born that she would lay in bed sometimes and imagine that she was holding him. When Noah refused to nap on a pallet at their house on Saturday, she asked if we would mind him sleeping in her bed. We didn’t, and those dreams of laying in bed with her grandson became reality. He rested quietly with Granny, sucking his thumb until he fell asleep cuddled against her side.

We stayed with my mom on our visit, and I took Noah next door to visit Meemaw and Uncle Tony. I was so thankful for technology that would allow me to take video of him with them. He cackled as Meemaw tickled him and cried when she took away the piece of mail he kept trying to cram in his mouth. I regret that Noah never met my dad, and I know that Meemaw may not be around to see Noah grow up. But he will at least be able to see how she loved him.

We loaded up Serenity on Sunday morning while my mom cooked lunch for us. She offered to send us home with some of everything she had prepared; she kept starting new conversations every time we’d head toward the door or asking if maybe we should double check that we hadn’t left something or other behind. It was hard leaving her knowing that she had spent the past 40+ years until April always having someone there with her, someone to take care of, and the past few months she’s felt the painful void caused by my dad’s death.

As we drove past the house for sale two doors down from hers, I joked with Bobby that we could always move in there, and he gave me a dubious look. I know that we will never move back to Clio or to Enterprise. We’ve built a life in Tuscaloosa, made friends who we now consider by-choice family.

Still, an occasional reminder of the importance of our by-blood family isn’t a bad thing, and hopefully one day we will find a balance in our lives that allows us not to need to be reminded.

 fall, trees, road trip, colors, autumn

Six months and my how time is flying

So hard to believe it’s been six months since this little bundle of terror joy came into our lives.

I joke now about him being a terror versus being a joy, but for the first six or eight weeks of his life, Bobby and I definitely did think maybe we’d gotten ourselves in over our heads. It seemed like he never stopped crying. We could never figure out what was wrong. He had gas. He was constipated. He wouldn’t stop pooping. It was always something, and just when we thought we had it figured out, it changed.

We have a long way to go with this parenting thing still, but we’ve definitely made progress in the past six months. We haven’t killed the kid, and Bobby and I haven’t strangled each other. We can now distinguish (usually) when he’s whiny because he’s tired, when he needs a diaper change or when he’s screaming because he’s hungry.

Noah has come a long way, too. He started out at 9 lbs. 5 oz., 21.25″, and he has grown, as of his six-month doctor visit, to 21 lbs. 5 oz. and 27″. So he’s grown almost an inch per month and gained exactly 2 lbs. per month.

He’s also doing all kinds of cool stuff these days. He’s getting to be a really good sitter and is trying to learn to crawl. He eats solid foods (pureed) nearly every day and really likes green beans, carrots and applesauce so far. He loves to interact with people and his surroundings and tries to get everything that’s remotely close to his reach … and put it in his mouth. He holds his own bottle now and loves to try to feed himself with the spoon, which usually ends up like that picture on the left.

Bobby and I agree we can’t imagine life without him. It’s so hard to believe he’s halfway to being a year old! Here’s a little photo review of this last six months (click to enlarge):