Summer Sentiments

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Well it seems that I very nearly have abandoned this blog now haven’t I?  Yes yes its been quite a long time.  Of course there are many reasons for that.  The usual 5 kids, living in 2 states have something to do with it.  But there is oh so much more.

I left you hanging with my biological dad drama.  Well good news!  I took the plunge and made arrangements and my hubby and I trekked across the country to make this long overdue introduction happen.

Denis and Kandi

I was surprised at the lack of tears I had.  I thought it would be like the reunion shows that litter television.  But we found ourselves in a comfortable place fairly quickly.  We have yet to figure out what I should call him however…. Dad doesn’t seem appropriate, but his first name seems not quite right either.  But now that we are building this new found relationship, I guess we have the time to sort out those details out.

We are lucky.  Most reunion stories don’t happen like ours.  However, there is always the other side of the coin, so to speak.  While most of the people in my life have been beyond thrilled for me and this adventure, there are still a couple of people who are not quite so happy for me.  I’m speaking of course about my parents.  They were beyond hurt and mad about this new development.  They were very hurtful to me throughout this process.  I’ve always been extremely sensitive and this one certainly takes the cake in painful conversations.  And unfortunately I have let it cloud my whole summer.  Just an undercurrent if you will, but it seems to always be there.

Also, moving from place to place is jolting for sure.  The kids and the hubby seem to take this change the easiest.  Perhaps because the children haven’t laid down too many ties just yet, and my husbands strongest ties are already here, but I seem to feel like the world is a bit off balance when I am far from my friends and all that is familiar.  Last summer I really embraced the newness this small town, mid west state had to offer.  Friendships began to really flourish.  I began to see the wonderful things it had to offer and looked forward to cultivating those ties.  But like the seasons, there is a time for growth and a time for decline.  And currently my enthusiasm garden has some weeds.

Hubby and I have also caught what the doctor suspects as The Whooping Cough.  Also known as The 100 day cough.  I’m currently at the end of week 3.  Let me tell you, thank goodness my kids have the vaccination for it!!!  I’m not one to get up all in arms about vaccinations or anti-vax, but I’m am positively gleeful that my kids have been spared from this horrendous illness.  My adorable 9 month old child would be beyond miserable at best and it could be lethal at worst.

All this to say, my brain is foggy, my heart is heavy and I’m having a difficult time smiling these days.  Probably because I’m too busy coughing.  But all is not gloom and doom.

This little guys vocabulary has exploded!  Before this cutie hopped on a plane, he was only saying “hi”.  Now he is saying complete sentences!  Including “more ice cream please!”.

Ben with ice cream

This little lady turned 7!  Here she bravely caught a field mouse.  I love the juxtoposition of her sweet tutu and a mouse.  Farm girl for sure!

Bradyn with a mouse

This adorable guy is going to kindergarten with mommy this coming fall and is already excited about using workbooks and ‘doing school’ even during these summer months.  Can’t wait to homeschool this studious little fellow.

Blake with chick

This blonde-y is enjoying his days filled with tickles, reading stories, and playing with the water gun outside.

Brian laughing

And this cutie pie has learned several new skills including crawling (including the downward dog yoga pose), making an excellent elephant sound, and eating her brothers superhero LEGO’s.

Brooklyn eating a lego

Perhaps this is also why my brain is loopy.  It’s a tough job keeping up with all of these cuties!

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Leap Day (part 3)

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*If you need to catch up, please read here first and then here second*

When bio dad returns to the phone, he announces “I always thought that there would come a day when I would get a knock on my door from you”

“Hahaha!  I’m not knocking on some strangers door!  What if I was wrong?!  LOL”

“So how did you find me?”

“Well there is this thing called the world wide web….  And basically I found you in a day and for $1.  Guess you could call me a super sleuth” 

After that we both struggled with what to say next.  I kept telling him my super mature plan of hanging up on him and saying obnoxious things like “I don’t know what to say”.  Let’s just say sometimes I really wish I had a filter.

“Well what’s your last name?”

I told him and his wife without abandon began face-book stalking me while I was on the phone with them.  Understandable, but it was weird and left me feeling quite vulnerable.

“Oh My Goodness.  That’s [my mom’s name]” after he saw my profile picture.

“How many kids do you have?”

“5”

“Wow.  We have 3 boys and one of them is married with 2 kids”

And then I hear his wife cheering loudly in the background “I have 7 grandkids!”

This is the moment that took my breath away.  I never knew what would happen when I picked up the phone and made that call, but sky rocketing myself into his family was never on my mind.  It seemed too far fetched to seem real.  This was the moment that changed everything for me.  His wife, who I later learned knew about me from the very beginning, was just as joyous as bio dad to include me into the fold of their family.  It was then that I realized that this was the start of something special.

And then we began to start the process of speed dating our father/daughter/step mom relationship.  Small talk, answering difficult questions, background info that make us who we are…. all in a 30-60 minute conversation.  That call packed a punch.

We made a date for another phone call two days later and spent another 60-90 minute conversation that left me feeling hyped up on adrenaline and emotionally exhausted at the same time.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve recovered nearly two weeks later.

I gave it a week and reached out to my half brothers through social media and after they left me hanging for a couple of days, each of them responded very warmly and happy to invite me into the family.

I’m so incredibly touched and yet terrified because there is still one more thing to do.

Tell my mom.

 

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Leap Day (part 2)

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When the kids went to bed I began my search.  I started where any 21st century modern gal starts.  Google of course.

The mountain of finding a stranger seemed daunting with such a lack of information about him, but I was determined this time.  I knew his name and home state.  Face-book seemed like a good place as any.  Unfortunately my search came up with nothing.  It truly felt like finding a needle in a world wide web haystack.  I then went to various sites seeking out a person with his name.  I zeroed in on a particular person.  Something was drawing me to this particular residence and family.  I poked a little more but was hesitant to pay big money to investigate.  Apparently I’m a P.I. cheapskate.

After looking up various sources to obtain someone’s most private yet public information, I decided to bet my money on this family.  I wound up paying $1 for a 6 day trial.  I was able to obtain weird information and useful phone numbers.

I finally made my first phone call convinced this was it.

“ding ding ding…. I’m sorry, but the number you have reached has been disconnected”

My heart sank, but I wasn’t even deterred one bit.  Any reasonable person would have.  I had lost focus and became unreasonable.  Either that or simply determined.

Music Man came home to me obsessing and pouring over my computer.  He must have seen my laser beam concentration and made a wise move.  He didn’t ask questions.  He didn’t judge.  He didn’t lecture me on why I shouldn’t be doing this.  He simply asked what he could do to help.  He grabbed my birth certificate when I needed confirmation of his hometown.

I called the second number I had.

“EEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRR!!!”

The fax machine blasted my ear.  Again, my heart sank, this time just a little further.

The day was roaring on by.  I had one last number for this family.  Music Man went to quickly pick up the boys from the preschool.  I decided that this would be my last shot for the day to make the call.  My big girl plan was to listen to the answering machine and then hang up.  Super mature, I know.

“Riiiiiiing…..  Hello?” (A man answered?! What do I do now???)  “Hello??”

“Oh Hello.  Is [bio dad’s name] there?”

“Yes.”

“Is this him?”

“Yah”

(my heart began to pound)

(light hearted giggles) Oh…..(think Kandi think!!!)….. um, were you ever married to [mom’s maiden name]?”

(his voice drops to a near whisper) Yes”

(My heart pounds out of my chest and I begin to shake and I can barely say the next sentence)

“And did you ever have a kid?”

“(whispered) Yes”

He leans away from the phone and says quietly “[wife’s name] …. it’s my daughter”

*to be continued*

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Leap Day (part 1)

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*This story will be told in a three part series*

Just a short while ago I was driving the kids to preschool and announced to my oldest that it was Leap Day.  A very special day that only comes once every 4 years.  She seemed pretty perplexed by this idea naturally.  But it wasn’t until the end of that fateful day that I would understand the new and very real significance of Leap Day for myself.

Let me start at the beginning; the very story that I never tell.  You see I’ve never met my birth father.  My parents had met through the USO, a military organization that brings potential spouses together (ok they do more than that but for the purpose of my family, that is exactly what it has done. Twice).  These two very young and immature people got married and wound up pregnant.  Marine daddy got shipped off to a foreign country for deployment and didn’t take his new spouse for safety reasons.  She feels left behind and wants a divorce.  Along comes daddy #2 who is also found by means of the USO.  My mom and #1 divorce and mom and #2 quickly marry and I have been raised by that second couple my entire life.  Nobody knows the wiser.  Except for me.  I have known since I was very young that this was the case, but since #1 was told in no uncertain terms that he should be out of the parenting picture, he reluctantly agreed and signed papers for #2 to adopt me.

But he didn’t.

Oh they made a big show of it and made excuses of why they didn’t formally adopt me and proclamations of “your mine no matter what the courts say. I love you” which at the time seemed sad, but good enough.

I grew up in a nuclear family with a mom and a dad, even if that fabric has threatened to tear itself apart on several occasions, it has remarkably remained intact.  Therefore, I never had a desire to find out the truth of #1 because A) I had a dad, and he was worthy of my loyalty and love, B) what if #1 was worthy of banishment?, and C) what if he never told anyone about me and would reject me a second time in order to spare his current family the shame of his past; I would never want to expose someones secrets and cause them pain.

Its been only in the last 10 years that the itch of not knowing has threatened the need to get scratched.  #2’s mom has been instrumental in my life and in this case she was pivotal.  She has been encouraging me to find out the truth and nudging me to take that leap and be brave against the consequences of opening pandora’s box since I was the same age as my mom when she got married.  After pleading with her for years that I couldn’t do it, mostly because I felt loyal to her and never wanted a replacement grandma, I realized her wisdom in this proding.  She loved me so much she didn’t want me to spend my entire life not knowing my truth.  Missing the chance to see my biological father’s face or hear his voice had the potential to slowly destroy me from the inside out.

grandma, me, bea and elsie

*me and my grandma and two of her sisters having a crazy fun night of playing cards and talking smack*

So fast forward to the present time, recently Music Man went back to Minnesota to complete a few house projects without the major distractions that 5 pairs of feet underfoot create (6 if you’re including mommy).  During that week I was spouse-less, something stirred in me (and for the life of me I can’t remember what my trigger point was!) and I simply said to myself “I need to know”.

And so began the search…

 

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Valentine’s Day lessons

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Valentine’s Day.  A day usually filled with hearts, flowers, chocolate, wine and love.  We did all that (well except for the wine.  I’m still nursing).  My preschool kids filled their cute little friends baskets at school with Spiderman tattoos and brought back a bunch more crud V-day love.  My top 3 oldest went to a gymnastics night party where they played, ate pizza, decorated cookies and enjoyed some independence.  It was fun for all.

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And sometimes Valentine’s day is filled with the memory of love.  Or rather loved ones.  On friday my maternal grandmother passed away suddenly.  On Thursday I will say my final good-bye.  My grandmother and I have had a confusing but relatively pleasant relationship and therefore my feelings are complex and sometimes unsettling.  I’ve never really experienced death before.  It’s always been a human condition that has thus far only happened to other people.  For being as old as I am, some might call me lucky.

My brain understands that this is the unfortunate cycle of life, yet my heart is surprisingly heavy.  The sadness has a weight to it.  As soon as my mother shared the broken-hearted news, my chest took on an extra 25 pounds.  This phenomenon is real and is the stuff of sad love songs.

There are few moments in parent-dom that are harder then telling your kids that someone in their lives have died, but here we are in the thick of this lesson.  My kids are all young, but I was still surprised at how this news slid off their backs like water on a duck.  In some respect, it is a blessing that this information has not hurt them.  However, it might be a different story when we see family and the strong grown ups in their lives are sad and perhaps crying.  We shall see.

Death brings a great teaching tool to point them to the Father.  After discussing that their great-grandmother would be renewed and have a new body, Mini Man thought very practically and asked if she would no longer have any spots (she had many bruises due to the many years of dialysis treatments).  These thoughts made sense to him and he became visibly happier at the thought.

Now Valentine’s Day will be a lesson in love.  All love.  Past, Present and Future love.

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Breast feeding musings

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Life with a newborn is a crazy ride.  Now add in 4 more children and sometimes you want to jump out of the ride yelling “aaaahhhhh let me outta here!!!”

One of those things for me is breast feeding.  Many mothers talk about the closeness and bonding that happens with nursing their infant.  Sure.  That happens.  What also happens when you have a mini crowd trying to get a glimpse at the precious royal one?  You get overly eager tiny eyes all up in your breast feeding business.  For this modest momma, three’s a crowd, er make that five’s a crowd.  But it does make for some funny conversations about a totally natural thing (even if it makes me uncomfortable).  Here are a few conversation tid bits from the nursing couch.

“What is she doing?  NO.  Mommy, what is she doing??” said very emphatically.

“Can I see?”

*blink blink*  (Um, I really am not comfortable with this….)  “Uhhhh, what’s that over there???”

And here was a lovely bedtime conversation

Where is she sucking from?”

Why oh why does she have to be so persistent in the quest for knowledge?!

“From mommy’s body”

[contemplative pause]  “From your nibbles?”  (not a typo.  that’s how she says it.  I will actually be sad when she starts saying it correctly)

“Yes. (getting totally uneasy for me)  Remember the newborn puppies at the farm?  Remember the momma feeding her babies from her belly?  Its kind of like that.”

“But [our baby] doesn’t suck on your belly.  She sucks on your nibbles” (and then proceeds to point and touch each one)

And then she said this statement yelled quite madly I might add.

Why don’t you just squeeze yourself so I can feed her?

I pretty sure this was said out of love, but o.m.g.

I’ve been seeking out ways to nurse her out of their presence and explaining that she needs privacy.  Or perhaps momma does.

*** Yes I realize that this is a totally normal and natural life cycle and it is exactly the way God intended it, which is why I do it.  However, I’m an American who grew up a formula baby and my very own grandmother responded “Your t*ts are going to hell” when I mentioned that I would be breast feeding my babies.  So perhaps I’m a by product of overprotection/breast rejection/media induced vanity mentality.  Honestly it’s a wonder I do it at all.  But thank goodness I do, otherwise I’d miss out on all the glorious comedic responses.

 

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One month

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So its already been a month.  A full month with our newest cutie-pie.  Honestly its like she has been here forever, yet we just met her yesterday.  Basically its been a whirlwind.  So what’s a newborn’s life like?

Well your brothers and sister shower you with love.  Here is your older brother taking care of you (and helping mommy in the biggest way!).

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You get handmade gifts.  Big sister Class Prez made a book especially for little bits arrival.  Here she is getting read to by her personalized book.

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You learn to socialize.  The Freshman already loves to be talked to.  Girl takes after me already!

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Party all night sleep all day… with extra company like her aunt.

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Occasionally you get a run by kiss by your older brother (hence the blurriness of the picture)

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And lets not forget a girl has to venture out into the world.  Here she is at her first check up.  Diagnosis?  Perfection!

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Also, its important to showcase our awesomeness to the great big world, so here she is at her first newborn shoot.  She is so fabulous she got not just one great photographer but two!

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With all that is going on, The Freshman has to catch up on her beauty rest!

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Wish momma was getting as much beauty rest……

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Halloween Hot House

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Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year.  I’m not into the gory scary parts of the holiday.  I’m an actor at heart and I appreciate that you can dress up and become anything you want and get a prize over and over again for this!  Candy!  LOTS and lots of candy!  Plus, I love a good theme, so as a parent I enjoy trying to coerce my kids into theming their costumes.

Here are my munchkins as Batman, Robin, the Joker, Dorothy and little Toto (who has her head deleted from the photo because its impossible for 5 children to look good in one photo).

This is the Super Bowl for kiddos!  Does it get any better???

Brooklyn as Toto

Close up of Toto.  Best part about the costume?  It was free!  I had everything I needed already.  Sweet!

Brooklyn's 1st HalloweenIt’s my cross-eyed little lady rocking her 1st Halloween jammies.

The worst part about this holiday in California?  The HEAT.  It was 91 degrees on Halloween.  People, this is WAY TOO HOT for dressing up!  I had Batman and Robin commando under their crime fighting uniforms and even that was too hot.  The chocolate was literally melting in their bags in the short amount of time we were trick or treating in our church parking lot.  Unacceptable.

When do we get some fall weather??  Maybe by Christmas.  I hope.

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Tips and tricks for your best birth story

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Every mother has a birth story.  And for those of us who are blessed with more than one child, you get more than one kind of unique birthing story.  Mine is no different.  Therefore I thought I’d give you a few tips and tricks for new and veteran mothers out there to help your birth story go smoothly.

  1. Bring the things that bring you joy.  Many people talk about bringing an IPod with their favorite tunes, but for me this has always been my pillow.  I’ve been SO glad that I have always managed to remember to bring my pillow.  Its comforting and secure and a little piece of home.  Plus they are way more supportive than those silly hospital pillows!  This time I also brought a few essential oils to help calm my nerves.  Other times I have brought hard candy to suck on since you aren’t allowed to eat and those have been wonderful choices.    In fact I was wishing I had brought them this time too!  Oh well.  Maybe next time…. if there is a next time!
  2. It’s ok to cry.  Because my angel decided that she was comfy in her womb, my doctor and I decided that I she needed a bit of a push and I got induced (I was late after all!).  Overall my induced labors have my best experiences, but its still labor and still traumatic anyway you slice it.  When the nurses start to poke and prod you or simply forget to say hello when they enter a room, it can seem traumatizing.  My emotions get the better of me and I cried off and on throughout the process.  It had nothing to do with physical pain and way more to do with coping with my out of control feelings.
  3. Be flexible.  The first day I was really not feeling up to having any visitors.  Normally I can’t wait to see people, but this time I was really cherishing the precious time I was having with just my husband and brand new baby.  However, we got a text from my brother in law asking “You guys up for visitors?” with Music Man responding “Not really. How about tomorrow?” with an immediate “Oh well we are downstairs“.  That meant that my brother in law, his wife and his kids were there waiting in the lobby!  Not my ideal plan but I stayed positive and allowed them to come and meet their new cousin/niece, although to be honest I was really hoping to have my kids meet their new baby sister first.  I just kept saying to myself “I’m happy that they are excited and wanted to meet the baby.”
  4. Have a sense of humor.  As soon as this precious baby came out everybody turned and asked “What’s her name?“.  Well, we weren’t quite sure (I know, I know we were indecisive!) but blurted out what our top choice was.  It turns out that our eccentric doctor just happened to have a song with her name as the title on his phone that he wanted to share with the room.  Did I mention that the hard rock band was notorious for their explicit lyrics?  Instead of welcoming our precious princess with the sweet comforts of peace, we were all blasted with an insane heavy hitting song with unmentionable lyrics.  All we could do was laugh and cement that that was indeed her name.
  5. Bring snacks.  Unfortunately I didn’t, however my brother in law’s unexpected (and uninvited) visit had some wonderful perks.  They kindly brought an edible arrangement which became a fabulous midnight treat.  Fantastic for those midnight nursing sessions!
  6. Cherish the alone time.  I know I might not be in the majority in this, but I love being at the hospital for my births.  Why?  Because they have a fleet of nurses there to help you every step!  Plus, with child care taken care of (thank you so much in laws!!!) all my husband and I have to do is recover/heal and admire our precious bundle of joy.  I soak it all up because once we are home, we are back in the throws of chaos that only family can bring and we will never be able to recapture that time.  Often times Music Man also has to work while trying to take care of me and the new baby.  I was grateful that the Lord worked it out where his concentration was on his wife and brand new baby this time.  Cherish it ladies!
  7. Make sure to bring your camera.  There are all the ‘first’s’ to capture like the weighing, the first bath and the first time momma and daddy hold their sweet pea.  But my favorite moments to capture on camera is when the siblings get to meet for the very first time.  Oh my sweet momma heart just explodes!

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Do you have any tips or tricks?  How was your birth experience?

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New Family of 7

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You might have noticed my absence here.  There has been a lot going on.  I won’t go into details because frankly there is so much that it makes my brain fuzzy.  But the biggest best-est thing that has happened is the arrival of our sweet baby girl.

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Here I am getting ready for the big ordeal.  *Please excuse the swollen face and teary eyes.  I had already had a mini panic attack over what was about to happen.*  Baby girl was 4 days late and my doctor and I decided that it was best to get induced.  I was still hoping for a natural start, but since that didn’t happen, getting induced became the plan.

I have been through having my water break, to midnight contractions to ‘whoa this went down so fast that the doctor missed the birth’ to two inductions now, and I have to say the inductions have been by far my FAVORITE way to give birth.  Don’t get me wrong, its still scary and unpleasant, but its the least of these things when you have a wonderful doctor and staff of nurses and of course a steady hand of a husband all there to help you get through this special moment with the least amount of fear and drama as possible.  And we achieved our goal: healthy momma and healthy baby!  Couldn’t ask for anything better.

By the next day we were visited by some very special people.

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By far this is the day that I get the most teary-eyed and heart full.  My mommy love simply explodes seeing each of my babies greet one another for the first time.  As you can see they each seemed to be so proud to be the bigger brother/sister and have special one on one time with our littlest princess.  I had to laugh looking at pictures from that day because poor baby girl didn’t get one solo picture because her siblings were too excited and held her most of the time.

Although, once that excitement wore off, they mostly kept themselves entertained by playing with the buttons on mommy’s special hospital bed.

IMG_5064I can’t blame them.  I love hospital beds and wish I could bring one home with me!  I also love the peace that comes with having a hospital birth.  I know I know…. peace?  Hospital birth?  Whaaa?????  Here’s the thing…. In the hospitals they bring you hot meals that you don’t prepare.  They cater to your every need.  They make sure you, not just the baby, are ok and well taken care of.  For goodness sake, nurses take the baby during the night if you wish so you can get some very needed sleep!  For a mommy of now five, its a rare moment where I get taken care of.  Plus there are many moments of quiet.  Newborns sleep a lot and my husband and I actually got to watch movies.  That’s right.  MovieS.  Plural.  More than one!  Mostly, I enjoy the special time that Music Man and I can spend simply adoring our special blessing that the Lord has given us.  We will never have that special one on one time again and I cherish it.

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