Sunday, November 10, 2013

Movember Mulling

Each November there is a movement where men grow mustaches to raise awareness of men's cancers. (Prostate, testicular, etc.) There are fundraisers and contests to see how can grow the most impressive soup strainer in a month.

I have to wonder if it would be more effective to have women refuse to shave our pits and legs until our men get tested or sit down with their doctor and talk about their history. There would be lines wrapped around urologists' offices full of men ready for juggling.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


For years, I have struggled with fear. It's been given names like nightmares, anxiety and timidity. Sometimes it's easily managed. Sometimes I can take the highest dosage of medication and still have to breathe through panic attacks.

I'm 34. Logically, I know that there are no monsters under my bed. I know that the odds of a killer hiding in the dark room are slim to none. I know that this house is sound and that the second floor won't collapse while my children sleep.

I still fear these things.

My biggest struggle has been agoraphobia. When these fears begin to drown out my logic, the world takes on a different shape and color. Everything becomes too large. Sounds and colors are harsh. I feel like Alice after a bite of mushroom.

It's started to affect how I use social media. I don't get out much with my friends so I rely on Facebook, Twitter and texting to keep in touch with friends and relatives. When the fear gets out of hand then I shy away. I bring up the page and everything distorts. I feel as though everyone is reading what I'm typing and judging me right that second. I'm terrified to open a new page because it will just bring news of some disaster.

This last week has been buried in fear. There has been a lot of time on the couch with my head buried in books. I haven't spent nearly as much time as I should with my kids or cleaning the house. I haven't left the house since Sunday. I've rarely texted even my best friend or my mother.

Today, I took the kids for a walk. I texted my sister. I'm posting this blog post. I'm surfacing. I know that I'll go under again sometime but I'll still be OK. Fear will never win.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

That Moment When...

You're sitting on the couch feeding your outrageously cranky 7-month old baby and she's only squirming around a little and not actually trying to roll over in your arms because what is life unless you're rolling over, Mom and then you look up and your 2-year old is curiously looking at the poop on her fingers.

*deep breath*

The baby is only halfway through her bottle so you know screams are coming and urp is probable so you're resigned to that but if you lay her on the couch next to you then she will immediately flip off and conk her giant noggin on the wooden floor and that really can't happen again - yes, again - so you lay her down and hook your leg around her as she desperately starts clawing at you trying to hurl herself to the floor while you reach towards the child who is digging for another handful.

*meditative thoughts*

Stretch your arm out while channeling ElastiGirl and grasp the stinky 2-year old by the wrist just before she wipes it on her shirt and gently lead her to the couch where you lay her in front of you and contort yourself to grab a wipe to get all visible poo before standing on your head to wrench a diaper out of the end table - thank The Lord, you refilled it - and calmly change your daughter while holding the snarling baby back with your calf.

*calm blue ocean*

Kiss the stinker and release her to the toys while picking up the baby who has now urped on your leg - but at least it's not the couch - and plug her gaping maw with the bottle behind your head.

Realize that bathtub gin did not come about because of Prohibition but because of desperate mothers needing a bigger receptacle.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Struggles and Smiles

Dear Rory,

You're now 7 and a half months old and things are a little tough. You've got two gigantic teeth breaking through your too gums. It makes me wince just to look at your poor little mouth!

Then there's the bazillion diapers that comes along with teething and the inevitable diaper rash that follows. Mama is trying hard to keep up with your stinky rear. I know you love prunes but we're going to have to lay off of them for a while.

There's a school of thought that says whenever you reach a new developmental stage, you have a hard time sleeping. I think that's happening. You're trying so hard to crawl lately. You get up on your hands and knees without really thinking about it. Of course, you either scoot backwards or face-plant. 

Today, you began screaming in your crib. When I went to get you, it looked like you had tried to sit up but couldn't keep yourself upright. You were folded over with your head in your lap. You struggled to sit up, screamed at me and flopped back over. Mommy didn't laugh. Promise. (Kind of.) This can't be helping your already sleep deprived state. Let's try to hold off on the acrobatics until you're fully awake, OK?

I love you to bits and pieces, Starlight. I know things are tough right now but you are such a big brave girl. You keep smiling and laughing through everything. Mama is so proud of you.


Sunday, November 3, 2013


Daylight Savings Time gave us a baby awake early enough to hurt but too close to morning to go back to bed. Ben took her downstairs for a bottle. I stayed in bed for another hour nursing a headache. He ended up staying at home with Rory while I took the other three to church. He and Rory were exhausted and Sophie hates to miss church.

We go to Lake Pointe in Rockwall. It's a wonderful church. Steve Stroope is a man of The Lord who truly cares about this church. We have a good Life Group made up of people who are trying valiantly to populate the Earth all on their own. (Seriously. 9 babies are on their way.)

Lake Pointe also has the SOAR program. SOAR is a program for kids and adults with special needs. I'm exceedingly grateful for these amazing people that want to work with my children.

Especially since we just had to switch Milly from her regular preschool room to the SOAR program.

I'll be honest, this broke my heart. She's getting ECI therapy once a week and will start PPCD classes when she turns 3 in January. She has a speech delay. She doesn't focus well. She is still chewing a lot. None of the people who have evaluated her believe that this is autism. They think that the speech delay and having 2 autistic older siblings to emulate has pushed her behind. However, we're seeing a lot of progress and not any of the usual autism red flags.

It could still be autism. I have to be OK with that. Right now, I'm not. I'll keep teaching and learning Milly's needs. I'll thank God that she has a Sunday classroom where she can learn a little easier. I'll cry a little less each Sunday.

I will fight for my Sunshine.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Today begins NaNoWriMo. Writing every day in November? Let's give it another go.

Last night was Halloween. It was another Halloween that we didn't really celebrate. Not because we're fundamentalists ready to cry "witchcraft!" at every jack-o-lantern, but because it just didn't work for us this year.

We eat at 5:00. The kids play and then go to bed at 6:00. This is the routine.


I made costumes for Sophie and Gideon this year. They don't really tolerate anything complicated so I just put together simple outfits of Jake and Izzy from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. (Their new obsession.) I bought a Princess Leia dress for Milly and a monkey costume for Rory.

We took them to a Fall Festival at the beginning of the month. It was hosted by the SOAR program at Lake Pointe Church. Sophie and Gideon go to the SOAR class on Sundays. It's one of the only churches we know of with a special needs program and we're grateful for it. They ate hot dogs and bounced around for an hour. They had a good time. It was too hot for Rory's money costume so she just wore a Halloween onesie.

Last night, we considered going Trick-or-Treating at Firewheel Mall but it was going to start too late for us. Gideon and Rory went grocery shopping with me and were exhausted. Milly didn't nap that day. So, no trick-or-treating this year.

I get frustrated sometimes when we have to miss something again. I want my kids to have these experiences. I want them to look back at pictures of Halloween costumes and Crazy Hair Day at school. I have to remember that it's about them and not about me. If they don't feel comfortable with dressing up or breaking routine then I have to respect that. They don't even understand the concept of Halloween yet and that's OK. We'll go when they understand it more.

I'll just stock up on clearanced candy for now.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Breakfast Casseroles

Last night, I made an easy dinner. I thought about taking some time to relax but instead I took the time without children hanging from my person to prep some breakfast for the week. I glanced through the fridge and pantry and came up with some random ingredients to work with. I read a few recipes and then just did what sounded good. Here's what I came up with.

Casserole #1 - Sausage, Potato and Cheddar

The Stuff
6 Eggs
Half & Half
House Seasoning*
Little potatoes
Breakfast sausage
Shredded cheddar

*House Seasoning (I use this in everything.)
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder

The Process
Wash and peel your potatoes. I didn't peel them and Ben has requested that I peel them next time. Cube them up into about thumbnail size. Throw them onto a baking sheet with some house seasoning and olive oil. Roast at 400 until everything is crispy and brown. It should take about 25-30 minutes. I had some onion on the sheet too but I'll probably leave it out next time.

Blend the eggs and about a half of a cup of half & half together. I made both casseroles at the same time so it had 12 eggs and a little over a cup of half & half. I eyeballed the h&h. Put a big pinch of house seasoning into the eggs.

Brown the breakfast sausage in a big skillet. Leave the drippings in the pan if you're making the other casserole.

In a greased casserole dish - I forgot to grease it and that's a MISTAKE - throw in your sausage, potatoes and 1/2 a cup of cheddar. Mix it up and pour the egg mixture over everything. Shake the dish around to let the eggs settle. Top with a little more cheese.

Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes until bubbly and brown on top. It's going to puff up a bit and those puffs are awesome.

Casserole #2 - Spinach, feta, mushroom and bacon

The Stuff
6 Eggs
Half & half
House Seasoning
Sliced mushrooms
1 box of frozen spinach, thawed
6 slices of bacon

The Process
First, I laid the bacon on a ridged baking dish and baked it at 400 for 20 minutes. Mine was thick cut bacon so it took a while to cook. This is my go-to method for cooking bacon. It can cook while I do other stuff. I had it in the oven with the potatoes from the other casserole.

With the sausage drippings from the other casserole, I added 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet and let it melt. I dumped in a small container of sliced mushrooms and let them brown over medium heat. Once they had started to brown, I took the thawed spinach and tossed it in with them. Remember to squeeze all of the moisture from your spinach. I forgot that too and it makes a big difference. Add a big pinch of house seasoning and let that goodness cook.

In a greased casserole dish - GREASE IT UP - toss the mushroom and spinach mixture. Chop up the bacon and add a cup of feta cheese. Mix everything up. Pour the egg and h&h mixture over everything and shake it to let it settle. Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes.

This was DIVINE. It tastes decadent but I don't think it's too bad for you. Ben really liked his casserole. Cut them into squares and it can be refrigerated or even frozen for later. It's a quick and hearty breakfast.

Now, go forth and produce noms.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


For the mom wondering if her baby will ever sleep through the night...

For the mom wondering if her son will ever speak...

For the mom who just told her daughter to turn off the TV for the fifth time because she has homework...

For the mom laying awake wondering if the lights will still be on tomorrow...

For the mom yawning in the stands at another soccer game...

For the mom pouring a second glass of wine after chasing a 2-year old bent on destruction all day...

For the mom anxiously wondering if her daughter is eating right while she's at college...

For the mom in tears wondering why her son feels the need to escape into drugs when she's right there...

It doesn't matter what your problems look like when compared to others. They are yours and they are valid. You are allowed to be tired, frustrated, to cry and to want it to end.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wonder Baby


You are a chubby ball of amazing.

You're 4 months old now. (Well, you will be on the 28th.) I'm not sure how much you weigh but it's over 13 pounds.

You grab at toys and shove them in your mouth. Is this a preview to teething? I don't feel any bumps.

You babble and chat all day long. You started calling for "ma-ma" whenever you want to be picked up. That's MUCH earlier than we expected!

You like to lay and kick while cooing at the ceiling fan. We try to do this every time the older kids are down for quiet time so that no one tramples you.

I cannot imagine life without your smiles and conversations. I love feeling your chubby little body in my arms as you snuggle to sleep with your star blanket and your paci.

Mama loves you, RoBo.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Not Going Back

Sophie, Gideon and Milly have been going to a Mother's Day Out program twice a week this summer. Last week was a break between sessions.

Tonight I got a call asking us not to bring Milly back.

Milly has been chewing things since November of last year. It started when my mother noticed her licking the grout on their fireplace. Then we started noticing bite marks here and there on the corners of the walls. Milly has dug holes in the drywall large enough to fit a softball. In two weeks of moving into the new house she's marked nearly every single corner. She goes and hides to chew sometimes and sometimes it seems almost absent-minded. She always stops when we tell her but will go back to it minutes later as if it were a compulsion.

The wooden furniture is chewed. We have to buy only plastic toys with no stickers or paint. We can't paint the walls. I have to watch her like a hawk in public or at other people's houses.

We've spoken to her pediatrician who ordered blood tests. Her lead levels were normal and her iron was low. We've been giving her iron supplements daily. ECI was told and agreed that it was probably a habit now and might be related to anxiety. (There has been a lot of upheaval in the last 6 months.)

The selfish part of me is angry. This is humiliating. I've had so many people (MDO, Sunday church workers, other moms) ask me if I know that she's chewing things. They all try to say it so gently. This is after I've tried to tell them about it when I drop her off and show them the special blanket covered in tags that she chews on. This is not news to me. I am well aware of this issue.

I think that's what insults me the most. It's the feeling that people are looking at me and my child and wondering why I'm not putting a stop to this behavior. Don't I understand how destructive and potentially harmful this is?

Yes. I understand that eating paint is not recommended for children under 5.

I have noticed the behavior. I'm not sitting back with my fingers crossed hoping that it goes away. I'm working my butt off trying to change her behavior. Im researching methods and consulting therapists and doctors. Unfortunately, 2-year olds are not known for their cooperative attitudes.

So now, we'll just not take Milly to MDO. It's OK. I'll take that extra time with just her and we'll work even harder. Maybe even tackle the potty.

I refuse to give up on my kid.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Judgement Lapse

We had Gideon's birthday party on Saturday. My Little Prince is four now. It's both devastating and wonderful.

He was a trooper through all of the attention. My grandparents, my mother, my brother and sister-in-law and their three kiddos were all there to celebrate this blessed little boy. We ate pizza and cake and he opened his presents. We planned on going swimming that afternoon.

I left with Sophie first because I don't have a card to get into the pool and I hoped that a Good Samaritan would let us in and then I would tell Ben to go get the rest of the crew. My grandparents had gone home because of the heat. We got in and Ben went back for the rest. Sophie and I started swimming around.

About 15 minutes later, I saw my mother and Ben come in the gate. Ben was carrying Rory in her carseat and Mom had an armful if stuff. Patrick and Roxanne followed with Patrick leading his two boys and Roxanne carrying their little girl.

Notice anything missing?

Ben came to the side of the pool and our Rory down. I asked him where Milly was. He looked shocked. I thought he was kidding and looked closer at Mom.

Nope. Not kidding.

Ben sprinted back to my Mom and I saw him frantically talk to her. I stuck my head up and yelled "I HAVE FOUR NOW!!!" Ben ran to the car and sped down the street to retrieve our peacefully napping daughter who was none the wiser.

Before you think I'm picking on my husband, let me remind you that FOUR ADULTS left that house and turned this into a sitcom.

Mandatory head counts have been mandated before we go anywhere. No child left behind, indeed.

My girlfriend made this today and sent it to Ben. It's going to make a great story for her wedding.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Magic Switch

I feel as though all this blog has become is complaints about my broken kids. It's like everyone else has been ordering their kids from Mercedes and I just got three Pintos assembled by people who's only contact with cars were from watching Bullitt dubbed in Mandarin.

Milly eats odd things. She chews on the corners of the walls. She digs out drywall and eats it. She chews sidewalk chalk like it's a stick of candy. She eats dirt. We thought it was a phase but it began escalating. She knows that she's not supposed to chew. She startles and runs when we catch her. She hides to chew longer. It seems almost like a compulsion. Sunday school teachers, Mother's Day Out teachers, babysitters and others have commented on it. No one has any advice. We asked our pediatrician for help. She suggested an iron deficiency that is forcing her to go in search of the minerals she needs. We had her tested and she is anemic. We start iron supplements tomorrow.

Milly still rarely talks. We have been approved for ECI but we've never been able to schedule anything because of the new baby, bedrest and moving. Now that we're settled, ECI is reviewing her file and she'll start once-a-week sessions.

She's learned autistic behaviors from her older siblings. She's never been around her peers. She's not autistic. We've had her evaluated and I don't see the same things I see in Sophie and Gideon. Those behaviors must still be unlearned. She's in a day camp two days a week around other two year olds.

We address every concern. We pounce to fix anything physical and begin coaching the not-easily-fixed. It's a battle. I feel like so many look at me as though its my fault. Like they need to know the name of the prenatal vitamins I took so they can avoid broken kids, too.

People, I read to my kids in the womb. I stared them in their tiny infant faces and talked to them. I avoided baby talk just in case it was detrimental. I didn't eat hot dogs while I was pregnant and I only had sushi once. I did everything right! And still I battle. I look at Rory with so much fear. What's wrong with this one? It's hard to enjoy your baby when you're examining every response to see if it's "normal".

Ultimately, God gave me Sophie, Gideon, Milly and Rory. He will give me what I need to raise them. I must remember that.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Quiet Time

My quiet time with God is never at the same time. I don't sit down at the table with a journal, a cup of coffee and my Bible app ready to spend a quiet hour contemplating the scriptures. I have four kids under 5. My quiet time is usually one of the following:

  • I'm on the potty and they haven't found me yet.
  • In a hot bath trying to work the kink out of my back after picking up the playroom.
  • When I wake up an hour before my alarm because the baby started fussing and I'm trying to assess just how urgent her needs are.
  • In the car when I'm going back to Target because Milly threw a fit yesterday and I blanked out on half of my list while trying to keep her from exploding in the dairy aisle.
  • During the kids' quiet time when everyone is in their rooms and the baby is finally asleep in her swing.
When I do have these times with God, I usually just talk to Him like a friend. It always feels like a conversation. I pray about those that need something. I pray about the names He gives me but I don't know why. I pray about my kids. I pray that I won't fling my kids off of the roof. I pray over my husband. I pray that my husband won't fling the kids off of the roof.

Sometimes everything is serious:

"Lord, I want to go back to college so badly. I want to get a degree in Biblical Studies. I feel like You would like for me to do this. But that's ridiculous, right? I can't start until all of the kids are in school full-time and I wouldn't be done until I'm in my 40's. What would You do with a 43-year old mother of four who hasn't worked in 20 years?"

Sometimes I get curious:

"So, lettuce has no real nutritive value. Iceberg lettuce, I mean. I know that there are some dark, leafy greens that I'm supposed to be eating all of the time. But, lettuce? Are we doing it wrong? Did You actually make it for some other purpose and we just started eating it because it's crunchy and good with ranch? Are You looking down on us and chuckling at your adorable little children like I do when Milly wears her Easter basket like a hat?"

What this really boils down to is that I am constantly talking to God. I feel close to Him and that helps me when I need direction. He wants this, too. You don't need to make an appointment to talk to Him. You don't need to only come to Him with giant life-changing questions. You're His child. He just wants to talk to you.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Honey Mustard Chicken Casserole

It started with drooling over Pioneer Woman's Ranch Style Chicken. Then I found this honey mustard chicken dish from Six Sisters Stuff. (I LOVE THAT SITE.) So, I started brainstorming how to make this my own. Here's what I came up with. I served it with cheesy bacon potatoes from the same site. I also put peas and corn on the side because we're just healthy like that.

Honey Mustard Chicken Casserole

The Stuff:
2 chicken breasts, cubed
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup mustard (I used yellow but Dijon would be great.)
2 pinches of house seasoning*
1/2 tsp dried rosemary (Fresh would be wonderful.)
6 slices of bacon
1 TBSP butter
shredded cheddar cheese

*House seasoning is what I call my mix of kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. I use it in everything. Except cake.

The Process:
Throw the chicken cubes in a freezer bag and cover with the mustard, honey, house seasoning and rosemary. Squish it around to mix everything. Marinate or freeze for later.

When you're ready for dinner, preheat the oven to 375. Fry your bacon in a skillet until it's crisp. Remove to a plate to drain but keep the bacon fat in the skillet. Add the butter to the bacon fat.

I know. I'm not doing Weight Watchers yet.

Saute your marinated chicken in the bacon-butter mixture and laugh devilishly. Once it is browned, pour it into a casserole dish. Crumble the bacon on top of the chicken. Sprinkle a generous layer of cheese over the top. Bake this bad boy for about 12 minutes until it's brown and bubbly and amazing on top.

Serve this to your husband and listen to him groan with delight and demand that you make it every week.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

For Mama

My mother taught me...

  • to keep a closet full of classics and accessorize with the trendy.
  • to be kind to everyone, including those who mistreat you. You don't know their story.
  • to use your hands to pat out biscuit dough because a rolling pin will make them too flat.
  • that stay-at-home mothers need not feel like they're freeloading non-workers. There are many ways for us to save money at home.
  • to trust in God's timing and provision. But it's still OK to call your mom and tell her that you're scared.
  • that mascara, lipstick and a little blush can completely pull together your look.
  • to breathe deep whenever you feel overwhelmed.
  • that you don't have to try to go to sleep but you do need to close your eyes and be still.
  • to belly laugh at funny things.
  • to encourage my children to take new steps while reassuring them that I'm here if they fall.
My mother is my inspiration, my friend, my role model and my safe place. I know that I have always been loved and I can never do anything that will make my mother turn her back on me. Her arms will always be open and ready to embrace me.

Happy Mother's Day, Mama.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rory's Story

When last I left this blog, we were waiting. We didn't have to wait for long.

Aurora Hoshi Dyer - March 28, 2013
The day after I wrote my last post, I went to my doctor for a somewhat routine checkup. While she looked at the sonogram we talked about what had happened over the last few weeks. We talked about my blood pressure and heart rate spikes. We talked about the swelling in my hands and feet. Then we looked at Rory and my doctor got a funny look on her face.

"Let me measure this fluid level again."

Rory was surrounded by more fluid than should be there. This is another symptom of pre-eclampsia though I was still testing negative. My blood pressure was high again. Everything was just borderline or right over the line so as not to be an emergency but still concern us all. I was 37 weeks. Typically doctors don't like to induce without an emergency until 38-39 weeks. Ben was back there with us and the three of us talked about our options. Doctor Monti finally said that she wanted someone else to look at me. She was sending us right over to a high-risk doctor who would get a closer look at Rory and possibly back her up in the choice to induce.

At that doctor's office, we watched as the high-risk doctor looked all over Rory. She was measuring almost 9 pounds. She confirmed that there was a lot of fluid. She agreed that Rory needed to get here sooner rather than later. She also agreed that it wasn't safe for my water to break on it's own.

I went home confident that my doctors were taking great care of me and my baby but nervous. This was a problem we had never seen coming. I have scrawny little babies that demand to be released early. Rory was content to settle in and grow larger with every day. My body was just giving out and couldn't hold her much longer.

No one could pinpoint why there was so much fluid. The high-risk doctor said that some heart problems will be the cause so we went on Wednesday back to the office for a fetal echo. Her heart looked beautiful. There was still no answer to what was happening. All we knew is that a large amount of fluid made it dangerous for my heart and upped the possibility of stillbirth or cord compression. We scheduled the inducement for Thursday the 28th.

Here's the thing; all of my other labors started in the middle of the night. My water broke with Sophie at 12:15 AM. I began contractions with Gideon at 2 AM. Milly's water broke at 12:30 AM. This was the very first labor where I was able to eat a good dinner, go to bed early, sleep as soundly as possible and then eat a good breakfast.We were able to give the other kids to Grandma the day before so she didn't have to make a mad dash an hour away in the dead of night. We were able to plan! It was divine! We got the hospital and I was hooked up to Pitocin. I was already dilated to a 5. I was nice and hydrated. There was no possible way this wouldn't go quickly!


After hours of painful but barely productive contractions, my doctor came in to break my water. I had two nurses that day. One was a veteran and one had just graduated and was training. They were amazing. The three ladies surrounded me and my doctor said that she was just going to prick a tiny hole in my bag of waters and let it slowly trickle. Just to be safe.

3 seconds afterward, all three leaped away and for the stack of towels as the bed and floor were basically flooded. The look on my doctor's face was priceless.

OK! So I'm relaxed from the epidural, the Pitocin is still going and now my water is gone so she can start moving down and I'll dilate quickly and we'll get her here in no time!


Every thirty minutes, Doctor Monti would come in and stare at Rory's heartbeat on the monitor. Then she would check me again. Then stare again at the monitor and mutter. Rory wasn't going anywhere. Her heartbeat began to slow down with each contraction. I watched as my doctor got more and more worried. Finally I spoke up;

"I think you're going to have to go get her."

Let's back up to the Sunday before. We had been watching the Bible miniseries along with everyone else in the Bible Belt. We had just seen the episode with Jesus in Gethsemane. I watched as Jesus became aware that it was time for him to die. He went into the garden, begging his friends to just be near him, and he prayed that God would let him out of this. Did it really have to happen this way? It was too much. He sobbed and pleaded that he wouldn't have to do this thing. Then he wiped away his tears and said three times that he would do this if it was God's will.

I am not comparing myself to Jesus. This was just a baby. However, I've always been of the mindset that there was no way that God would put me through a c-section. It just wouldn't happen so there was no reason to even concern myself with the thought. Then I realized that God had his hand on my heart. He was telling me that He may ask me to do things that I never thought possible. He might ask me to do things that I hate or that would hurt. I had to be open to this possibility and follow Him no matter where He might lead. He would be there. I sat in the bath and cried. I read through the Gospels as Jesus begged the same way I was begging. Then I dried my tears and gave up. I put myself in God's hands and asked that He would carry me through whatever happened.

Sure enough, Dr Monti came in around 6:00 PM and said that they were going to go get her. I felt only relief. There was no fear. It was almost over. Rory was going to be safe. We would all be OK. He had promised.

There was a flurry of preparation as Ben was whisked away to get scrubs and my epidural was cranked up to 11. They wheeled me into the operating room and I waited and watched as everyone moved around with purpose. Ben came in and sat down by my head. They already had the drape up, thankfully. Poor guy was really nervous and he doesn't do well with medical stuff. Especially bloody medical stuff. We talked and waited as everyone got to work.

At 7:11 PM, we heard a little cry.

8 pounds 5 ounces of furious cute.
The little cry soon turned into screeches of anger so I knew it was our girl! I sent Ben over to monitor her progress and coo over her cheeks. Meanwhile, Dr Monti made sure that this was the last time I would use her OB services. That's right folks, we are officially a family of 6. All done. No more.

This time, though, we feel complete.

We're the Dyer family.

Ben, Kelly, Sophia, Gideon, Millicent and Aurora.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Last week got a little interesting. By interesting, I'm using Wash's definition.

Wash: "This landing is gonna get pretty interesting"
Mal: "Define 'interesting'."
Wash: [deadpan] "Oh God, oh God, we're all going to die?"

On Thursday, my nurse came out to give me my progesterone shot. It's the last one. Hooray! She got out the doppler and began searching for Rory's heartbeat. She couldn't find anything. I kept twisting and turning to see if we could get her to turn or move but I wasn't feeling anything. Finally, we found her and got her to kick. Her heartbeat started at a normal 145 BPM but then dropped down to 90. Alarmed, my nurse called my doctor and said that she thought I needed to come in and be monitored. Doctor agreed and Ben and I took off.

I was supposed to go to the doctor that day at 1:30 so it wasn't much of a difference to go to Labor and Delivery Triage instead. They hooked me up to the monitors and began some tests. My heart rate was too fast. Rory's heart rate was too fast. Blood was taken to check for diabetes or preeclampsia. I laid on the bed and tried hard not to let my mind run away. I wasn't having many contractions and they were still mild. Finally, everything came back normal. My heart rate had come down and so did Rory's. They did a quick sonogram and Rory looked great. Her fluid level was right on the borderline of normal/high but it wasn't enough to warrant any intervention. I'm dilated to a 2. I was sent home with orders to take it easy but that I was off of bedrest.

The next day was officially 37 weeks. This was the day I had Milly. There were already a lot of labor warning signs and I assumed that this would go much the same way. My mother had taken the kids the night before in anticipation of Rory's possible arrival. Ben took me to breakfast and we did a little shopping. I came home to rest and then went out with Mom and Milly. We shopped around and I realized that contractions were getting stronger and closer together. It's working! We're almost done! Look at the cute Easter headbands that make your daughters look like giant flowers!

Grandma left before the kiddos came home on the bus from school. We played a bit and made dinner. Suddenly those kind of contractions became double-over-and-nearly-scream contractions. They were 2 minutes apart and lasting for over a minute. I could barely breathe between them. We called my parents and they came back over. We loaded up and took off for the hospital assuming that we would be a family of 6 in no time.

We make it into Labor and Delivery and start getting hooked up. The doctor checks me and I'm dilated to a 3. That's it?!? After all of this? I feel like I'm being torn in half! They check me and realize that I'm pretty dehydrated. Rory still sounds fine but she's not turned down correctly. She's hitting my pelvic bone. My bag of waters is right there but Rory's not hitting it enough to break it. They hook me up to a saline IV and unhook the other monitors. They tell me that I'll go home after getting hydrated. So...we're not having a baby? I "get" to go labor at home? Well...alright. I get three bags of saline and the contractions all but disappear. The dehydration was making them seem 10 times worse than what they were. So we go home around midnight and try to sleep.

Ben takes me the next day to breakfast and then to get a pedicure. He goes and buys a birthing ball. The man is a flipping saint. We load up the car and go pick up the kids from the grandparents. Here we find out how hard Gideon is taking things. The night before he had started fussing when my Dad got there. Papa cuddled him and Gideon fell asleep on his shoulder. When Grandma and my sister came over, they got everyone loaded up to take them to dinner. Gideon began crying when he woke up and didn't stop. They passed him around at the restaurant trying to soothe him. My mother finally held him and covered him up with a jacket to block everything out. He fell asleep again. He cried when they left and passed out that night. We came to get him on Saturday afternoon. He was clingy and needed so much extra reassurance. For the last week his life has been upside down. Mama and Daddy keep disappearing for some reason. Sometimes Daddy picks him up from day care and sometimes it's Grandma. One night he'll sleep at home and the next he'll sleep at Grandma's. He just doesn't understand what's going on and it's making him upset.

We spent Saturday night out on a date. The kids went to a Parent's Night Out that we had registered for a week ago. Ben and I went to dinner and then came home to rest. I took a hot bath and stayed off my feet. We called his parents and filled them in on everything that's happened. Ben went and picked up the kids and we put them to bed. Then we tried to go to sleep. From 11:30 to 4 AM I could not sleep. My heart kept racing, I was having bad contractions and I could not lay down without intense pain. I sat up at 2 AM and drank 32 ounces of apple juice to see if hydrating would make the contractions stop. They stopped but I was still in a lot of pain. At 4, I woke Ben up crying. I just needed sleep and I couldn't sleep. He convinced me to take some sleeping pills and to not worry about the kids in the morning. I could sleep as long as I needed. I took the pills and finally drifted off. I got on-and-off sleep until noon on Sunday. I got to cuddle my oldest for an hour. I played with Milly and watched as Gideon stayed in a quiet room with his iPad for hours. My babies were OK. I cooked dinner that night. Sunday was a great day.

In the midst of all of this, we've been trying to buy a house. I'm not even kidding. We found one house that we really like and we're submitting a bid. We would move in May. It's exciting but it's adding a layer of HOLY MOLY to our lives.

Today is quiet. Milly is twirling while she watches Mickey. The kids are at daycare. I feel fine and haven't seen much labor signs so I think she's staying put. I'll see my doctor tomorrow.

Now we just wait.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


ECI just left after evaluating Milly for the second time. She can hear now and she's making good progress.

Kind of.

Milly has qualified for ECI services regarding speech and cognition. Milly has almost no attention span. Her motor skills look fine but she doesn't answer or even acknowledge people. She doesn't play or interact much. She threw a million tantrums in the hour they were here.

Yes, she's tired from the Daylight Savings Time change. She's on antibiotics for a red ear that's hurting. She's still working on those frakking molars. And she's two. Two year olds are temperamental.

Or are they? I don't know what the typical development of a two year old looks like. My kids don't work that way. She acts similar to how Sophie was at two. Does that mean it's autism? I don't think so. I think it's a combination of learned behavior from her siblings and no social interaction.

Milly needs to be with her peers on a regular basis. A play group, Mothers Day Out or preschool would do wonders. It's just not happening right now. We're in a holding pattern until the new baby gets here and I can actively participate again.

I think that's the hardest part right now. I feel that this is all my fault. I can't be the mother that my kids need. I have to tell them to wait. Am I neglectful? No. My kids are fed, clothed, clean and loved. I just can't go the extra that I know they need.

A battle is looming. I'm ready to fight but I'm waiting on my body.

Friday, March 8, 2013

What's My Line?

Gideon has moved into script-talking. There is a little spontaneous speech but the majority of what he says is a litany of preset scripts gleaned from normal situations or TV.

When Gideon asks for something he wants, he will say "Pweash?" and sign. A normal response is "Yes, you may!" followed by the item of desire handed to him. (iPad, cup of drink, food, toy, etc.)

Lately, he's been purposely dense if the response is anything other than a hearty agreement and handing over of the item.


[Gideon hands me an empty sippy cup.]

G: "Miyuk? Pweash?"
(Milk? Please?)

Me: "Not right now, buddy."

[Gideon furrows his brow. Leans in to me.]

G: "Yesh, you may!!"

The implication behind this:

"Mom, DON'T BE EMBARRASSED. You just forgot your line. It happens! Lets try that again."

Nice try, Dude.

Monday, March 4, 2013

To Care and Be Cared For

Since my children were born, I have been the one to care for nearly all of their medical needs. I tracked what the two oldest ate in their respective NICU stays. I'm always the one to take them to regular check-ups. I know their medical histories and can tell a doctor when they started barfing and how high the fevers got. I was the one to stay with Gideon in both of his hospital pneumonia stays. I've held each kiddo down for shots and wiped tears after. I know that when passing out stickers and suckers that Sophie and Milly like any kind of sucker but Gideon prefers orange and that Milly eats stickers.

Last week, I had to give up my usual position. On Monday, the girls went to the doctor for their 5-year and 2-year check-ups. My mother took them. She was the one to hold Sophie's hands while the doctor looked in her ears. (Sophie hates people touching her head.) She held Milly during her shots and cuddled her after.

On Thursday, we got a call from the school nurse saying that Gideon was listless and running a fever. Ben went to get him and laid him down for a nap. I can't drive and I'm not supposed to pick him up. I held him during breathing treatments that night and let him sleep on my chest. On Friday, he was worse and my mother took him to the doctor. His fever had spiked to almost 103. Both ears were infected and the strep test was positive. She brought him home and whisked the girls away for the weekend. I was able to give him medicine and cuddle but Mom was the one who held my feverish baby while the doctor swabbed his throat. How that must have scared him! Ben was the one who held him down for medicine he refused to take. Ben took him to the duck pond on Sunday when he was feeling better.

On Sunday, Sophie smashed her finger at Grandma's house. My mom and dad calmed her down, cleaned it and put ice packs on it while she curled up in her Minnie Mouse blanket. When she came home, I didn't like how much it was still bleeding and I called the after hours nurse who said to get her to the ER. Ben took her. He held her and told her how brave she was. He and two other nurses and a doctor wrestled her to get her bandage off. (Forget soccer. I'm putting her on a wrestling team.) He held her for an X-ray which showed a broken fingertip. Her first broken bone. He dried her tears, praised her bravery and carried her out.

Three times this week I was reminded that there are many other people that can care for my children. Ben told me that God was possibly doing this on purpose to release my sense of control. Perhaps God was asking me to take care of Rory since I'm the only one who can right now.

It truly does take a village!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Desperately Seeking my Son

The two older kids started morning day care about a week and a half ago. Since I'm supposed to be staying off of my feet it was getting harder to entertain them in the mornings before school. Those few hours have been a lifesaver. It's a great place. There are lots of kids to play with and the teachers are wonderful. It's very structured which is very important for spectrum kids. My kids need to be given a task and a time to stop. They need those boundaries. "Free play" is too abstract a concept for them.

Each day I look online at the webcams that are set up in their classrooms. Sophie runs around with the little girls. They giggle and wiggle as they go to the bathroom in groups. (Already?!?) She chases after boys on the playground. (ALREADY?!?) She sits quietly when they do table work or go to Circle Time. She's doing beautifully.

Then I pull up Gideon's classroom. The first few days, he cried when Ben dropped him off. I would see him holding the hand of his teacher and following her everywhere. He would sit in another teacher's lap or right beside her during Circle Time. After a few days, the tears stopped but he would still attach himself to a teacher for a while. Slowly he's been inching away. However, the inching away has been to just go play by himself with no interest in what the others are doing. Today I watched as 29 kids sat in a circle and a teacher handed out some paper. They all waited as patiently as 3-year old kids could but all stayed seated. Then I saw my little boy over by a bookshelf with a ball. He was turned completely around from the kids and teachers. He was fully absorbed with this bouncy ball. One teacher passed out papers and the other was laying out plates for lunch time.

I don't begrudge the teachers working like this. This is not a PPCD class. There are two teachers and 30 kids. I'm not expecting a personal aide for my child. It just stung to see my little boy so isolated. He seems to walk alone in his own little world.

Gideon's PPCD teacher sent home a picture taken in class. I've never seen one so perfectly capture my Little Prince. He's incredibly handsome - those eyes! - but also seems...just lost or trapped. Not in a bad way but unavailable to me. I wish I knew how to explain.

I get glimpses of my boy. Sometimes we can reach him. He looks Ben in the eye every morning to say "Hi!" and kiss him. He tickles me the same way I tickle him and giggles while fully engaging me. When he is tired or hurt, he comes looking for me and snuggles against my shoulder.

But they are short little looks. A few minutes later, he is intensely focused on something else. (iPad, toys, reciting a script from a show.) I feel like the door is closed again and I begin waiting for it to open again. We'll just keep working on it.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

In My Head

Do I love my kids? Yes.

Do I hate being a parent of kids with autism? You have no idea how much.

My kids were given to me for a reason. I know that. I also know that whatever challenges God gives me, He will also give the resources needed to meet them. He has never once said that it would be easy. In fact, He says that it's more than likely going to be hard.

A battle.
A struggle.
A trial.
A valley of darkness.

All leave me tired. Physically, mentally, emotionally.

I'm tired of people watching my 5-year old have a meltdown and then looking at me like I'm a permissive parent who spoils my bratty kid.

I'm tired of people asking me why my son covers his ears, doesn't make eye contact, flaps his hands and babbles.

I'm tired of people asking me if Milly is "normal" and then saying that she's two and ready to be potty trained.

I'm tired of people asking me if I'm worried about Rory being normal or ignored.

Most of all? I'm tired of people acting like I'm a saint for taking care of these poor unfortunate souls. They are my kids. They are the most amazing little beings I have ever seen. There is no other option. However, I'm still allowed to be tired, frustrated, and angry at this whatever-autism-is disorder that causes me to be cut off from my incredible kids.

I have a rock, a strength, a refuge in my God. For this, I am grateful. He knows the outcome and is already stretching out his arms to embrace me before I even know that I'm about to break again. He anticipates my needs. He lifts my burdens if I am willing to give them up.

For this, I am thankful.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bed Rest Conversations

Me: *contractions are hurting so I lie down on my right side*

Rory: "Don't like this side. Roll over."

Me: *sigh and turn to lay on my left*

Rory: "Don't like this side. Turn over."

Me: "Kid, I have no more available sides."

Rory: "Don't like that kidney."

Me: "Leave the kidney alone. It's not hurting you."

Rory: "It's touching me."

Me: "Deal."

Rory: "Don't like this side."

Me: "It's going to be a long 7 weeks."

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ways I've Been That Mom

10. I regularly let my daughter walk around without pants. It's just us here, we ain't fancy and I don't want to have a half hour talk/fit trying to convince her to put her pants back on.

9. I've wiped noses with my shirt. In public.

8. My kids know the opening to The Simpsons and my daughter says "D'oh!"

7. I take advantage of my kids' echolalia by getting them to say funny things. Then I hope that they don't repeat it at school.

6. When my daughter obsessively smooths every single wrinkle from the blanket she's laid out, I smile proudly at my little OCD nutcase.

5. I have held my sobbing daughter through a particularly hard poop.

4. I sing along to Sesame Street songs and try to get the kids involved. There's visible eye rolling.

3. I've licked my hand to smooth down the boy's hair.

2. Sometimes it's just easier to serve noodles 5 days in a row than argue.

1. I've already considered grounding the littlest for making me spend 2 months on bed rest.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I don't know any other ways to try.

  • Sticker chart.
  • Put her in panties.
  • Leave her bare butt.
  • Try to explain that she already goes tee-tee in the potty. Why not poop?
  • Leave her on the potty for over 30 minutes.
  • Go to the potty every 20 minutes.

People, I have NOTHING ELSE. She goes to the potty. She just flat out refuses to poop in the potty. If you leave her bare butt then she waits and holds it until nighttime when we put a pull-up on her for the night. If you try to talk to her about it then you either get a completely blank stare or she gets angry because you're taking her away from something that she wants to do.

I'm frustrated. I'm angry. I'm so freaking tired of autism. I hate it. I love my daughter fiercely. She is brilliant and there is so much locked away from me.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Focus on the Good

Philippians 4:8 tells us to focus on that which is good and pure and right.

I will focus on getting to hold my small boy. His hair is getting shaggy and he loves it when I scratch his head. Right now, he needs his Mama to help him get to sleep. There is nothing wrong with that. It makes me slow down and hold my son. It gives us quiet time to breathe together. I can put my hand on his back and feel him breathing that sleep-rhythm. I can say one last prayer over my baby before I put him down in his own bed.

I will know this. I will love this time I have with him.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Listen to Me

I'm pregnant with my fourth kid. You would think that by this point, I'm used to the Mom Things. This one was new and a little unsettling.

So, we're at a playground and the precious little minions are running around like goobers. The big one is going down the big slide and that's a BIG DEAL, MAMA. It's the BIG SLIDE. So I let her go nuts as long as she doesn't knock anyone out of the way and gets out of the way of the bottom as soon as she goes down. The Boy has decided that Papa's iPhone is much more interested than any of this play equipment that is surely disease-ridden and used for torture purposes. The baby is waddling around the 3-and-Under play area trying to put everything in her mouth. Luckily, everything is attached to the floor. Unluckily, that just means that I have the kid that keeps licking the McDonalds Toddler Play Area carpet.

Note to self: Get tetanus shot for the baby.

Suddenly, three big kids (8? 9?) come barreling into the toddler area. They race up the teensy little slide and surf down. Toddlers scatter like chickens. Without a thought, I look up and BELLOW at these boys.

"Nuh-uh! No big kids in the baby area! OUT! NOW!"

Those kids jumped a mile and ran like their butts were on fire.

Evidently, I now have the Mom Voice. AND IT WORKS.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Not a Morning Person

Me: "Do you want yogurt?"

Sophie: *dying buffalo grunts and fling body on the floor*

Me: "Sophie, you just say 'No, thank you!' if you don't want something."

Sophie: "N'TANKOO!"

Me: "OK. How about toast?"

Sophie: *flop and whine*

Me: *warning* "Sophie..."

Sophie: "N'TANKOO!"

Me: "OK. Would you like toys or a book?"

Sophie: *with defiant flop* "N'TANKOO!"

Me: "Would you just like to be a little fart for a while?"

Sophie: "N'TANKOO!"

Me: "Too late."