Happy Birthday, BiL!

For maybe as long as he’s been able to talk, BiL has been wanting snow on his birthday.

Today he turns 14, and he got his wish!

Not a bad thing, getting a snow day on your 14th Birthday, huh?!

Happy Birthday, kid. You make me proud.

Love, Mom.

Totally True!

Years ago, when my children were considerably younger, we were invited to attend a friend’s wedding.

William was about 6 years old, Jess about 11.

It was a little bit higher church wedding than we were accustomed to, and accordingly my Mom and I whispered instructions to the kids in the pre-ceremony hush on how to behave.

For the most part, they were angelic.

Finally, the ceremony began.

The groom stepped to his place at the front of the sanctuary, the priest – in his robes and hat, as well. Then, the processional began, and the attendants made their way to the front of the sanctuary. Finally, the bride – who was lovely in her wedding finery – made her way to stand beside her much loved groom.

I glanced at William and thought I saw a glimmer of recognition in his eye.

I thought – “What’s that kid thinking?!”

And before anyone knew what was happening, in a booming voice, William pronounced, “Mwarrige… Mwarrige is what bwings us twogwever twoday…”

Yes.

I admit it.

I have warped my children!

The glimmer of recognition?

Here you go:

Bride, groom, priest, candles, flowers!

What should come next?

Only one thing in his then 6-year-old mind…

“…and wuv, twoo wuv…”

Totally true!

Menu Planning

Have I whined about menu planning here lately? It’s a challenge in our household.

The parents would love to eat some more adventurous, exotic type foods. Keeping in mind that I’m allergic to chicken, egg whites, soy, many milk products, strawberries, etc., etc., etc…

The daughter is the easiest to please, but she has strong feelings about tacos (hates them), and anything that resembles camp food.

The middle kid – our basketball player – who ought to be strategizing his nutrition, is perhaps one of the pickiest eaters on the planet. He would be happiest if we had pizza for every meal. He hates vegetables, too. And anything that requires effort prior to eating it.

And our youngest is happy as long as it’s meat accompanied by a potato – so long as it’s not pork, ’cause he’s allergic to that, along with peanuts, and milk products. Oh – and he hates tomato based stuff – i.e., spaghetti (the daughter’s favorite food), enchiladas, lasagna, etc. AND, he hates anything that resembles a vegetable. And rice. I’m sure there’s more. But you get the picture.

Nah – it’s not tricky at all!

Bah!

This morning as I was thinking through the options, and remembering that we at least have tonight and tomorrow nights planned, I couldn’t help but wonder what we’d be doing for dinner Friday night – when John and Jonathan will be gone to the church’s men’s retreat. Jess and I would be happy with salads. Ugh! Decisions…

This morning I stumbled upon a little blast from the past, that reminded me of when days were simpler and one day in particular when our daughter thought to make breakfast for the family. I get a gold star for getting this on film. She was 5 at the time, by the way.


Look! She set the table and everything! She served herself and her baby brother cereal.

She knew her Dad liked bananas, so she made him a banana sandwich – yep – cheese and banana on whole wheat. There’s a nagging thought that she also put mayo on there, but there’s no photographic evidence, so I won’t swear on it.

And she knew that I loved avocados, so she made me an avocado sandwich – she even somehow figured out how to put some mayo under that cheese. Impressive for a 5 year old! I thought it touching that she knew I’d need a knife to deal with that avocado!

Wasn’t that precious?! (She’s going to kill me if she finds out I posted this! LOL!)

And – just to prove a point – we were talking about this recently, actually. The picture below is of William – he was about a 14 months old, I’m thinking…

SEE!

Tomato based food! And he liked it enough to get it everywhere!

I told you so! You did, too, used to like tomato based stuff!

I think it was enchiladas, but I’m not 100% sure. We’ll just suffice it to say he enjoyed it!

Back to pondering Friday’s dinner plan…

Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

When I was planning out the dinner menus a couple of weeks ago I was searching for things that seemed – you know – different, but not all that scary. Keeping in mind that I have two of the pickiest kids on the planet eating here – I must be very, very careful when testing the waters!

I found a couple of Crock Pot Sloppy Joe recipes and I thought, “Hmmm, those could be okay.” It got scheduled for Thursday evening of this week.

I should interject here that I don’t think we’ve EVER done Sloppy Joes as an actual meal. John likes them, buys the canned sauce, and when the urge hits (about once a quarter?!) he’ll make some up. I always think they smell good – but that’s about where it’s ended. My last experience with them is likely way back when – when I worked/lived at Sambica – and we had them fairly regularly. They weren’t awful, the kids always loved them. I figured – kid friendly food, right? We’re gonna give this a go!

So, I did a little web search, and came up with two contenders for the recipe we’d use. They were:

This one from www.myrecipes.com – a web site that I’ve recently rediscovered and find that I like quite a bit.

And…

This one from www.southernfood.about.com – which seemed a little simpler – and John thought we would like better than the other offering.

So, Thursday morning – before I got ready for my interview – I threw together the second recipe – only I modified it a bit for us – cause, well, I know us!

Ingredients:

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped, about 1 cup
1 cup chopped celery
1 (12-ounce) bottle prepared chili sauce
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Toasted hamburger buns

The original recipe calls for diced green peppers – I’m allergic to them, so they got omitted. The original recipe called for THREE pounds of ground beef. Good grief! That’s WAY too much. I wondered about the 2 pound quantity, but figured if the boys liked it – we’d be glad we had that much.

I actually had to run to the store to purchase a couple of groceries before starting this – and hit upon a bit of a moral dilemma. Here’s the thing – I’m completely unfamiliar with chili sauce. Do you know anything about it? Use it regularly? I mean I’ve never – in my life – purchased or tasted the stuff. Here I stand in the aisle at WinCo debating the choice between Heinz and the “Homemade Chili Sauce” – the latter, as you can see from the photo below – I ended up choosing. I ended up spending a little more – BUT – the real shoe in for this one is the fact that there was no HFCS in it. Gold star for the makers!

So pretty easy ingredients, right?

Oops – forgot to include the Worcestershire sauce in the picture! Here it is. And I choose this one – once again – because there is no evil HFCS in it.

I just used my handy chopper for the onions and celery:


I love this thing!

Then I browned the ground beef – which had virtually NO fat on it – so I skipped the draining step; and then I threw the beef and veggies into the Crock Pot.

And then I dumped in the chili sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper. Seriously – took maybe five minutes to do all of that. Just gave it a good stir – and voila!

At that point all that there was left to do was set the heat on the Crock Pot on low, throw on the lid, and move on with my schedule for a very, very busy day!

Went about my business – and later that afternoon after a lovely second interview with the very nice place I’d interviewed with previously – I walked into the house and smelled a wonderful smell – the Sloppy Joes!

“Hooray!” thought I. “They smell great – I’ll bet we love them!”

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I will say – for ease of preparation – total gold star. These are a cinch to throw together, and then to put them in the Crock Pot and not have to worry about it until time to serve – lovely. We served them on hamburger buns; William, of course, added cheese to his. Jonathan actually had to leave for basketball practice before dinner time – I offered him one before he left and he looked at me with this horrified look on his face and said, “I DO NOT eat Sloppy Joes. It looks like dog food!”

Have I ever mentioned that my boys are picky eaters?

I will point out – however, that they look NOTHING like the food our dog gets fed. I don’t know what the kid is thinking of!

ANYWAY, when John and I, Jessica and William sat down to eat – we had the following thoughts about this recipe:

John: It’s too sweet. WAY too sweet. If we were to make it again – totally eliminate the sugar. In fact, next time we make it – we ought to just use the canned sauce.

Me: It’s too sweet. It’s okay. But, well…. Not sure I’d want to serve this for a meal again in the future.

Jessica: Well, they’re okay – but, well, they’re camp food! (Remembering she worked at camp all summer long and didn’t especially love the food.)

William: I HATE Sloppy Joes. Cheese doesn’t even make them any better. YUCK!

So – consensus: we’re never making these again!

It was a good idea in theory – in practical reality, not so much!

Back to the drawing board!

Catching up…

What a couple of weeks it’s been!

First – my desktop computer – it croaked. No warning whatsoever. One minute it was working beautifully – the next, dead as a doornail. Thankfully I have a rocking warranty on it, and so I called the Dell folks, spent copious amounts of time on the phone with tech support, they had me try pretty much everything short of standing on my head and juggling oranges – and deduced they needed to send out replacement parts and a tech. They overnighted parts, the tech arrived with the parts – I held my breath in anticipation – would it work?!

NO.

So… the tech calls tech support, reports the outcomes, they decide to send MORE parts. But, of course, it’s the weekend before a major holiday, and so a WHOLE WEEK goes by before said tech calls again and reports he’s got the parts and wants to come by. I said, “By all means!” I mean HELLO! I’m addicted to my computer. May as well cut off my left foot without it! So he comes by, he replaces said parts – I held my breath in anticipation – would it work?

NO!

EGAD! So then they say – “Um… well… We’re basically gonna have to replace your computer!” Which, in theory, sounds great – right? New computer, 2 years into the rocking warranty. (Thank you Jesus that the hard drive is in good order!) Right?! But get this: 2 to 3 weeks to receive said replacement computer.

UGH!

So, I’m pretty much just limping along on the laptop. THANK YOU LORD JESUS for the laptop! Oh, and the wireless network! BUT – all of my files – everything – are on the hard drive of that desktop, and well, yeah – it’s been a little bit traumatic.

So forgive me for my absence – not having the desktop has sent me for more than one loop! (Okay – yeah, I get it! I’m an addict – a computer addict! I know! I just don’t see anything to do other than embrace it!)

THEN…

The laundry room sink – original to the house (aka VERY old) – you know, the old cement kind? Cracked. Big time. And then a bit of a flood ensued. And the landlord had to be called, and stuff had to be replaced. Praise the Lord for good landlords!

THEN….

The washing machine broke. Had to get that fixed. Praise the Lord that happened on a pay day – and while it hurt to pay the $163 to fix it – it got fixed. Cause, honestly, I’m about as addicted to my washing machine as I am my computer! Thank you Jesus!

THEN…

Brace yourself…


(John visiting me in the hospital this summer.)

Remember how I was pretty much sick all summer long? (Well, honestly, it was since April 24th, to be specific.) And how I was in and out of the hospital May to September? And how the last time I was discharged from the hospital they had me go NPO (nothing by mouth) and sent me home with IV antibiotic infusions five times a day and TPN (IV nutrition) for 16 hours each day?

Yeah, I remember, too.

Well, on the 18th of November (the day the computer crashed) I went for a follow-up Upper GI. Guess what we learned!!

ALL.

HEALED.

UP.

THANK YOU JESUS!!!

So, 9 weeks to the day from the time I went NPO (September 19th, 2009) I took my first sips.

It was soup broth – nothing earth shaking – unless, of course, you’ve just spent 9 weeks ingesting NOTHING! I spent that Friday through Tuesday doing liquids, and then on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the wonderful Dr. Zelko (my amazing surgeon here in town who takes such great care of me) called and gave me the go ahead to eat whatever the heck I wanted to! I like Dr. Zelko so much! J

Great timing, huh?

Needless to say, Thanksgiving was full of lots of reasons to give thanks!


(Great-Grandma’s Toffee Cookies – for Thanksgiving, of course! Famiily tradition lives on!)

We had a great get together with family early in the day, and had the great privilege of getting to have a second Thanksgiving celebration in the evening with our very dear friends.

I got off easy – I brought the dinner rolls! I will concede they were pretty darn yummy.

Oh! And my African violet – which I’ve never had success keeping alive in the past – did this:

THEN…

In the midst of all of this – life has continued to go on.

Like…

Jonathan (the goofy kid on the right)… drum roll, please…

MADE THE JV2 BASKETBALL TEAM!

Woo Hoo!

We are SO proud of him!

His first game was Tuesday night – they creamed the opposition – 68 to 30-something. Go team!

And like…

Our girl Jessica – who unbelievably enough is a Senior this year (How?! Where did the time go?!) has…

  1. Been accepted to one college.
  2. Gotten her applications, essays, scores, etc. submitted to all of the rest of the colleges she wanted to apply to.
  3. Concluded she will likely go nuts waiting to hear the outcomes of said applications!

I, on the other hand, will try not to freak out about the fact that my BABY is in our home for the last Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years’, etc. as a kid… She will soon be out on her own. Sniff… I miss her already.

And…

William continues to be William – or ahem – BiL, as his friends know and love him – and give us all great cause to smile – and laugh out loud – just being who he is – a really, really cool kid.

In the Hip Chick Chronicles part of life, the 2009 Chicks are growing up!

Our flock has settled right at 30 girls. We were averaging about 10 or 12 eggs a day until we kept them shut in the chicken yard for about a week and taught them WHERE they are supposed to lay their eggs. We had a 20 egg day the other day – amazing!

Crayon has recovered from her molt and is no longer naked! Good thing, too – it’s been downright cold, and is supposed to be bordering on frigid in the coming week!

Scarlet – at the grand old age of 8 months old – has decided she wants to be a Mommy. She’s been broody for nearly a week now. If it were summer I’d buy fertilized eggs and let her set them. But the dead of winter? I think not.

Scarlet, by the way, was once deemed our special needs chick. If I had my desktop here I could upload a photo that showed you how she got her name. As just a wee thing she somehow got the top part of her beak caught somewhere – and it pretty much ripped off – and when we found her – she was all bloody. One of the kids – a boy, I’d venture! – said we should name her Scarlet. Somehow it stuck. At first we worried quite a lot about her – she was underweight compared to the other girls her age. But she’s compensated JUST FINE, thank you very much. She’s actually quite sweet and I believe would be great Mommy material. I keep wondering if we should have her bottom beak trimmed, though – it seems so weird that her beak is so uneven!

She’s a Cuckoo Maran, by the way, who lays the most gorgeous deep chocolate brown eggs – when she’s not broody! The copper coloring along her head and neck is so pretty. There is such a thing as a Copper Cuckoo Maran – I’ve wondered if that’s what she is!

AND, maybe most potentially world-rocking of all…

It has become quite obvious that we need additional income.

We’ve scrimped.

We’ve eliminated perks.

We’ve given stuff up.

And it’s just not enough.

So I’m looking for a job.

I actually got called for an interview. We’ll see what – if anything – comes of it. It was for a wonderful place, with very nice people, doing a job that I believe I would be very good at. I could be quite content with said job!

So lots to thank the Lord for.

As always.

Gosh, it’s good to be His!

Home again!

One has only to spend 17 days in the hospital (two stays) over the course of a month (first admission 7/23/09 – second discharge 8/23/09) to really come to appreciate one simple fact:

Home is precious.

I’m so glad to be home.

I’m about a weak as a kitten, but I truly feel the beginnings of well. I haven’t been there for a while.

I have a lot of work ahead of me- remembering to eat (even though I don’t have much of an appetite), remembering to rest (probably the hardest thing), resigning myself to doing what I CAN, not what I feel I OUGHT to do. Can put a kink in a girl’s preconceived ideas of doing stuff!

And just in case you didn’t know.

I adore my husband.


(John holding William – Oregon Coast, 1997. William was just 6 months old.)

He’s so kind. Patient. Loving. Compassionate. Conscientious. You know – one of those guys who do the right thing – even when it’s not the easy thing to do. A guy who has the character of God deeply ingrained in his heart. His smile and laugh just make my heart glad. I’m just so thankful to God for the great honor of being John’s wife. Something I truly do not deserve. But God…

So – guess what I did when I got home from the hospital yesterday afternoon! (Okay, after I checked email.) I grabbed the camera, headed out to the yard, found a place to plant myself, and I took a few pictures.

Stuff happens when you’re away from home!

The babies stopped looking like babies and look more kinda like awkward teenagers now! At first we thought we had one Dominique and one Silver Laced Wyandotte. Now we don’t know. I’m hoping they are two different breeds – cause one of these might be a roo if not!

Note the differences:

Birdhouse gourds galore have grown!

And so exciting!

Someone has started to lay the cutest little white eggs!

They weigh in right at 1 ounce each.

Kinda piddly compared to BB’s 3 oz eggs!

Here’s my guess as to WHO the layer of said adorable eggs is:

One of the Blue Andalusians. Isn’t she pretty?

So – it’s good to be home.

Happy sigh.

I refuse to think about the fact that it’s only two short weeks before my kids head back to school again. I am SO not ready for that yet. Jessica comes home from camp tomorrow late afternoon – after a summer away. She will be a senior in High School this year. I want every moment with her possible.

Off I go to rest.

I love this time of year…


I was laying down on the couch-y piece of lawn furniture in the yard this afternoon and looked up and saw this pretty cloud formation. It was about 85° F, there was a bit of a breeze, and it was lovely.

Here’s Crayon checking out the new digs. She – along with the rest of the girls – are trying to figure out the new set up. John built new roosts – so that everyone is at the same height when they sleep. It’s really throwing them for a loop – you should hear them squawk when it’s bed time.

See? It’s cool, huh?

Of course, at the end down there – right before the fan, you take a left into the old part of the coop, where the nest boxes are. There will be additional nest boxes soon – John’s working on them. They’ll be to the right – between the door frame closest to us in the picture and the beginning of that roost.

Are those not the cutest little feet? Isn’t it the cutest little butt? And look! Wing feathers! The chicks are going to be 2 weeks old on Monday. There seriously is nothing more precious than watching these three little adoptees follow their Mama Shelly all through the yard each and every day. She clucks when she finds something yummy for them to eat. She’s teaching them that I am the queen of the world because I bring fun snacks. I love it that they are excited to see me! We are SO doing the letting the broody hen set on fertilized eggs again thing!

There have been lots of visiting kids here the past couple of weeks. My neice and nephew have been visiting off and on over the summer thus far – although they’re returning home on Tuesday. I’m going to miss them so! And my best friend – who lives in Mexico with her husband and children – spends the summers here with her parents, who live right down the street from us and go to the same church that we do. So Pepper has been on recipient of oodles of love overload all week long. I think she’s had more kids throwing balls for her to chase the past two weeks than she has in the entirety of her life. She’s really been sleeping well at night!

 

Here’s one of the Blue Andalusians. I think they’re just beautiful. They are great foragers – and so GREAT for a backyard flock that gets to free range. They’re quiet, polite, and are reputed to be excellent layers – of white eggs! Go figure!

Here’s one of the Delawares in the garden – eating weeds. I love it when they eat weeds – and remember to leave my cucumbers alone! Isn’t she pretty? She’s got black tips on her tail feathers, too. Interestingly enough, the Delawares lay brown eggs!

John and I were lamenting tonight about the sad state of affairs the garden is in this year. Well, I did have a major orthopedic surgery – so I’m almost no help. I can weed some – but as you can see here – not nearly enough! Here a couple of the Speckled Sussex are helping me with weeding. Those are lima and bush beans behind them.

But when it comes right down to it – we’re doing the best we can – and were just so thankful that we have a garden to grow things in!

Look – lots of cucumber flowers – woo hoo!

When this cucumber grows up – it’s going to be in my next batch of Creamy Cucumber Salad!

Here’s Caleb – without a nose. When I was out weeding in the garden tonight he HAD to get close – and as I was trying to take his picture he turned away! Stinker!

OH! And look what we have! I actually ate one tonight – and it was perfectly ripe, sweet, luscious, and perfect. It was the ONLY ONE that was ripe, though. That’s okay – I need the week that it will take them to ripen up to get some projects done before I jump in and start canning jams and jellies.

This is our first year to do corn in AGES. We just really hadn’t had success previously. But with the expanded garden plot we decided to try again. It’s actually about as tall as John – and has put tassels on. I love that! That means there will be corn!

The green beans are coming along nicely. Thus far – no deer have obliterated them. I’ve got a couple of tomato plants that have bites out of them – but so far, they’re leaving the green beans alone.

And if this isn’t cause for rejoicing, then I just don’t know what is!

 

I love these tomatoes – even with the couple of little chicken peck marks in them. They’re a green stripey tomato. I think they’re going to be similar to the ones I eat in Spain – I sure hope so. If so – then it’ll be tomato mush for me!

This really has been the weirdest tomato year we’ve had in a long time. Some of the plants are thriving. Some have set fruit literally at the GROUND – what’s with that? Others are just looking like late bloomers – big time. Virtually every plant has some fruit on it – but man, not the bounty we had last year. Of course, it’s still early…

One of the blogs I’ve read in the past – The Shibaguyz – have constructed potato condos. John decided to give the design a go this year. You build this frame, put the soil in the bottom, add your seed potatoes, and then when the potatoes have come up about a foot or so, you add the next row of boards all around, adding more soil. Again, you wait until more growth, and repeat the process. They say you can harvest 100 pounds of potatoes from one Condo. When it’s time to harvest, you unscrew the bottom row of boards, pull the soil out, and there will be your potatoes! Cool, huh?

Here’s a good peek at the expanded garden plot. See all of the blank space? Yep – it’s the stuff we just haven’t gotten around to planting this year. It’s so bizarre. But, oh well!

Here are my sunflowers (three different varieties, if memory serves), nasturtiums, and poppies that are coming up in the little bed along the street. Please ignore all of the weeds that are coming up along side of them. One day I’ll make it there – just not today, or likely this week.

William was so proud of himself – he caught one of the Delawares!

The hammock my sister sent from Mexico back with Jonathan last year has gotten a real workout the past couple of weeks. The kids swing each other about halfway up the pear tree that it’s tied to. I just don’t watch. They have a great time, though!

So – that’s pretty much what’s going on in the yard!

We’re loving summer – and the beautiful evenings that we can sit out and enjoy the cool breezes and the company of friends and family.

We are blessed.

He did it!

I’m kind of a confusing person, I think. I’m fiercely conservative. But I’m also strangely a major rebel at heart. Maybe those aren’t at such polar opposites any longer in our current culture! J

Maybe in part due to the fact that I’ve lived enough life now – and seen the outcomes of what pursuing self above all else brings in terms of fall out in the lives of some of my loved ones – I’ve formulated this baseline tenant in parenting. It is this:

If my kid is living their life in a manner that is indicative that their heart is right with God, their desire is to bring glory to God, and they have a level of honor and integrity in the choices they make, the way they live their lives, and the priorities that they make…. Well, then sure – if they want to get pierced, why not?! I honestly wouldn’t be hugely opposed to them getting tattooed, either – although I feel strongly that they must be adults before they pursue that sort of thing. If they want a wacky hair cut or color or that sort of thing – not a problem. If they desire a method of personal expression that might fall outside the “norm” of conservative culture – yet remain true to their First Love above all else – well, then, I’m not gonna be losing sleep, peeing my pants over it, or flipping out.

Because – face it – there are things that are so much more abhorrent, appalling, and all around destructive that they could be doing. Right? In the scope of the realm of things a kid could choose to do – bring personal harm to another, be chemically dependent, be sexually promiscuous, be self-destructive in any of about a bazillion possible ways – some things just really aren’t worth making a stink over, are they?

And I must also confess – as I have here previously – I’m not so opposed to expressing myself a little bit out of the norm, as well. I’ve had hair just about every color of the rainbow, in all sorts of crazy cuts over the years. I’ve had my nose pierced (in 1983 – way before it was the “in” thing to do), had multiple piercings in both ears, and have had some pretty wacky nails, too. (I think the fluorescent green finger and toe nails elicited the most response – and that wasn’t even the reason I chose that color – I just liked it!)

So – when William started talking about wanting a piercing months and months ago now, I was completely okay with it. You can see a little about that here. His sister, however, was appalled. She is – BY FAR – the most conservative of my kids. But she seemed to get over it and move on with her life. (Jonathan actually has one ear lobe pierced, and is contemplating having the other done, as well.)

Recently William started talking about MORE piercings. That he wanted his ear lobes pierced – and not just pierced – but gauged. (See picture of Pastor Ryan at Pioneer Woman Cooks here – he’s got his ears gauged.) That involves the initial piercing, and then a progression – months and months in the making, of moving up to the next largest earrings. Honestly – I think it’s pretty cool looking. I have seen some that make me kinda throw up in my mouth a little – it’s true. But clean, tastefully, appropriately done gauging – well, it’s cool. So, William did some research (I helped) and was able to determine that he wanted to do this in such a way that he didn’t end up looking like this – and would be able to remove his jewelry at some future point in time – should he so desire to – and have pretty normal ear lobes with the passage of some time.

So – after talking it over with both parents (one of whom is WAY more conservative on this issue – naming no names, of course! J) – and once William determined he did, indeed have enough cash saved up to pursue this course of action – a goal date was set. Thursday. This past Thursday.

And here you have it:

Cool, huh?!

Of course, the first thing his sister said was, “I just want you to know that I totally do NOT approve!” But I’m thinking she’ll get over it!

BiL

We have this kind of wacky story of how we ended up with kids…

When I met John he was a widower with a baby girl – his first wife, Joyce, was killed in a truly tragic car accident.  Jessica, the beautiful baby girl was 6 months old when her Mom died, and – well, I was in love with her from the moment I met her some time later.  Here we are so many years later – heck, she’s turning 17 this summer! – and I honestly forget that she’s not the child of my womb.

What is it about that?  The whole child of your womb thing?  What thing is it that God knits into our hearts that makes us women have this incredible need to produce a child?  That’s a topic for another day – but suffice it to say I experienced it.  You see, John and I got married a month before I turned 30.  The biological clock was definitely ticking.

So, some months after we married we found I was pregnant.  We rejoiced – however, that very pregnancy shortly ended in miscarriage.  My Mom had gone through multiple miscarriages, so I’d assumed I’d be a candidate for miscarriage as well.  Several months later we learned once again that I was pregnant.  This time I carried the baby – a girl that we named Elizabeth – for 23 weeks, at which time she would be born grossly prematurely, and would live for only 4 minutes.  She’d be 15 come this October if she’d lived.  Hard to imagine our lives with another teenager in the house – but oh, she’d fit right in, I know that for sure.

Jessica holding baby BiL
Time went by and we experienced five more miscarriages.  After some time I just didn’t get pregnant any longer – and after over a year of concerted effort – I underwent a procedure to determine if there were scar tissue or blockage.  They did find some blockage – the procedure broke it out.  That was on June 5th.  On June 9th I was pregnant.  At 18 weeks gestation – with what we were CONVINCED was a girl – I went into pre-term labor once again.  My perinatologist put me on bedrest and appropriate medications, and to bed I went.  Jessica was 4 at that point in time…  she was so adorable.  She’d climb up onto the bed next to me and “read” to the baby, sing to the baby, and try to feel the baby kick.  At 36 weeks gestation I went into full blown labor – and hours later, by emergency c-section – 9 pound 9 ounce, 21 inch long William James McBride was born.

Jessica was actually the first one to hold him.  See?  Aren’t they adorable?!

William was a determined little guy – even with some compromises due to his rough start at birth – he was so laid back and happy.  What a blessing!  At 10 months he took his first steps.  It wasn’t long before he was running.  He was known for his love to laugh and adorable smile.

William also had the most interesting trait – a steadfast and deep rooted dislike for God, Jesus, church, and the like.  When Jessica was a toddler you could hear her singing, “Trust and Obey” sweetly as she awakened from her nap.  If you tried to get William to sing “Jesus loves me” with you – he’d get a very determined look on his face and soundly refuse.  I won’t lie to you – it scared the living crap out of me!  I’d prayed from the first nanosecond that I knew I was pregnant with that kid that he would grow up to be a Godly man, with a heart that loved to worship God!

Ain't no way!

When he was 4 years old William came into my room, climbed onto my lap as I sat in the wing chair, with wide eyes and a very solemn spirit he said quietly.  “Mom.  I need to ask Jesus to forgive me.  I want to love Him.  I want Him to come into my heart.”  And so, that night – he did just that.  I know – he was only 4.  Gosh, I was 15 when I became a believer.  I thought, “Is this real?”  But let me tell you something – from that day forward something significant in William changed.  His heart.  There was a softness and sweetness of spirit that hadn’t been there before.  As great and laid back a kid he’d alwasy been before – from that day forward that onery determination against the things of God was gone.  All of a sudden he loved the things of God!  He loved church!  He loved choosing to obey God.

 
I am completely and 100% serious when I tell you that I wept tears of joy over that!

 
William - about age 4

William - about age 4

So, the kid’s been doing some growing up. He’s nearing that amazing age – he’ll be 12 1/2 in August. He’s so

….hilarious

…balanced

…thoughtful

…kind

…honoring

……self-directed, self-disciplined, longsuffering, an amazing friend, a delightful son. I am so proud to call him my child. His life is marked by the things that I hope to attain at some point in time!

But there are some things about William – er… BiL, I should explain.All the time he was growing up, when you asked him what his name was, he would say “William.” He didn’t want to be Will, Bill, Willy, Billy, or any derivitive thereof. We figured – whatever! We liked the name, if he wants to use it – fine!

 This year William moved to Middle School. Yep, he’s a 6th grader now – and juggles multiple classes, lockers (you know, the main one, the PE one), peer pressure, stress, etc – all pretty off-handedly. He’s got it covered. Somewhere fairly early on in the school year in one of his classes, a girl asked him what his name was. He said, “William.” To which she responded, “Oh, BiL.” And it stuck.

You should know you can only call William “BiL” if you spell it right. I.e., don’t call him Bill. Call him BiL. Got it? Apparently even his teachers get it!

Another thing you should know about William is that he wants to be his own person. He wants to be unique and individual. And he’s not afraid to try some different stuff toward that end.

Mohawk BiL

Mohawk BiL

Like – it wouldn’t be all that out of the ordinary for him to get a mohawk.

Or dye his hair blue…

or green…

or silver…

or yellow…

or…..  you get the idea.

This year he shaved his head – like yeah – with a shaver.  The case of razor burn he got was pretty profound.  I felt so bad for him!

And this year – just a couple of weeks ago, he decided to do this:
BiL's first piercing
BiL’s first piercing

…get his ear pierced!

Okay – so there’s something you need to know about me.  I’m into piercings.  At one point in my life – oh, gol, nearly 30 years ago – I had 7 earrings on each ear.  Three at the cartlidge at the top and four on the lobe on the left ear, and four at the cartlidge at the top, and three on the lobe on the right ear.  When I was 20 I had my nose pierced.  When I had babies – who thought it was great fun to pull on Mommy’s earrings I let them all close up.  It wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I started getting them back.

So – I know – some of the Moms out there aren’t gonna get this – but I gotta say:  I’m just so happy for him!  He was so BRAVE!  We go to The Black Hole for this sort of thing – and this ain’t no mall type piercing place.  They are as clean and sterile and manual as it gets – no ear piercing gun – they use a big old honking needle and pierce you.  (Seriously, the best piercings I’ve ever had!)  Not only did he want to get pierced, but he was serious enough about it to save up his own money for it and get it done.

I’m so proud!

Just so you know – I’d much rather my kids be pierced and tatooed and wholehearted followers of Jesus than not and out smoking, drinking, doing drugs, and being sexually promiscuous.  That’s just me!  I’m a little wierd, I admit it!

So back to BiL (who, by the way, goes by William at home – well, unless you’re talking about BiL’s Farm Fresh Eggs – his egg business).

This kid is SO BRAVE on so many fronts.

When we were in Denver in April for his evaluation and treatment at National Jewish Health – on the first whole day we were there, he turns to me and says, “We gotta find a church for Sunday.  I want to go to youth group.”

Okay – I don’t know about you – but when *I* was his age there was NO WAY I was gonna go waltzing into some foreign youth group – all alone – and make myself at home.  But that’s just what the kid did.  He’s so stinking brave!  Did I mention determined yet?

And – then – about a week and a half ago at youth group here at home an announcement was made that they’d be having a robot dress up contest for the following Wednesday night youth group meeting.  In the ensuing week William thought through, designed, and then built this:
Jonathan and BiL

Jonathan and BiL

An honest to goodness head to toe (Jonathan duct taped an old pair of tennis shoes for him) robot costume.

And yes, he wore it to youth group last Wednesday.

And yes, he won.

This kid has SPIRIT!

He’s been through so much.  He’s got health concerns that are big and daunting and have every right to be depressing.  But he chooses not to be.  He’s so positive and so proactive and so responsible.

I only dreamed of being half as responsible as he is at that age!

So…  I guess this is a brag on William post.  I can’t help it.  I just gotta.

Just in case you wondered, BiL has determined that he’s going to grow up and be a doctor.  I’d kinda hoped he’d grow up and be a farmer.  Honestly, he has all of the markings of a good engineer, too.  But being a kid whose been through surgeries and myriad doctor’s appointments – and experiencing REALLY great doctors – and some who were really not so much – he thinks he has something to offer to the medical field.  He told me last week that he may join the Navy to go to medical school.  I said, “Sure, okay.  Whatever.”  I didn’t tell him they’d make him take his earring out, though.