Sunday, June 28, 2009

The funny turns life takes

We just got back from church, a church we don't usually attend but the timing worked out better for us to go there. We have some friends who attend this church whom we hadn't seen in a while and thought they'd already moved from the area. But when we got to church, I saw the three younger kids walk in, which made me feel relieved that we hadn't missed seeing our friends again before they move. Then the priest dropped a bomb on us. He offered up the mass for the oldest daughter of this family, saying she'd had an accident and was in critical condition. I took Marie back to the cry room during the mass because she was being pretty loud, not crying just loud, and a relative of this family was in there with the youngest son (he's almost 3). I got the scoop during church (I know, I know, bad Meredith for not paying attention). The oldest daughter, who just finished her freshman year at OSU, was driving with a guy (I'm guessing her boyfriend) to Texarkana to go camping with some friends on Friday night. Right after getting off the phone with her mom and a friend, another car crossed the yellow line and hit them head on. The driver of the other car died on scene and his passenger was airlifted to another hospital. L's passenger had gotten out of the car and was walking around when the police arrived but collapsed later and was airlifted to Dallas with a head injury. He was released the next day. L had to be cut out of her car and was taken to the local hospital and then airlifted to OU Medical Center. At first they thought she didn't have any internal injuries but later found out her spleen was bleeding, which eventually stopped on its own, she had a punctured lung, four cracked ribs, both femurs are broken, her pelvis is broken in seven places, her hip is broken, and she has swelling in her brain. Luckily the brain swelling is already going down, but she has a tube to help relieve the pressure from her brain, a chest tube to relieve that pressure, and she's on a ventilator. According to the boyfriend, she saw the car coming and swerved, which probably saved both of their lives. They think the other driver might have been drunk but won't know until the toxicology results come back from the autopsy. All during the mass I was thinking about my poor friends sitting by their daughter's bedside watching her fight for her life. I had a hard time holding back the tears. I know God has a purpose in all of this, but it's hard to imagine what that might be. But it's not my job to understand. It's my job to have faith and trust that God knows what He's doing and that all this will be to His glory in some way. I pray that my friends will find some comfort as they sit watching their daughter. I pray that L will live and continue on with the very promising future she has. I pray for the other siblings, that they find comfort in these difficult times too. And I thank God for my healthy, whole family.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Oh sweet sleep

Last weekend, Trent and I decided we'd finally had enough and were going to make Marie sleep through the night. She's eight months old now, so she's the youngest one we've made do that, but I just couldn't take it anymore. She was up every hour and a half every night all night long, and she was in our room, which made it worse. So Friday night, Trent camped out in the backyard with Sara and Will in our tent. It rained half the night so he had to keep the rain fly on, which made it extremely hot in there so he got even less sleep than I did. I slept in Sara's room because it's partially connected to our room (her bed's on the other side of our bathroom wall) so I'd be able to hear Marie best in there. She woke up for the first time at 11:49 p.m. I'd already decided I was going to let her cry for 20 minutes before going in there so I just lay there counting the minutes. At one point she started screaming bloody murder, which I could tell was because she was standing up. She has this habit of standing up in the crib and then getting stuck because she doesn't know how to get back down. It was a little hard not to go in there but I knew this was going to be better for everyone. So she just kept crying and kept crying...12:07....12:10...12:13.... 12:19 was the 20-minute mark when I'd go in there. 12:17:30 is when she stopped crying and settled down. Woo hoo!! Success!! I did still go in there to check on her and make sure she was breathing and she was doing the whole hiccuping thing but she was fine. She woke up a few other times during the night and just kind of whined for a few minutes and then went back to sleep. There was only that one crying episode.

The next night I had planned to sleep in Sara's room again and let her sleep in Will's room. I knew Trent would be home late because he was going to a baseball game with some friends from college so I figured he could just sleep in his chair in the living room. Sara really didn't want to sleep in Will's room so I just slept on the couch. Marie did much better this night. No bouts of screaming, just some whining occasionally, except for one point when she was awake for about an hour just whining. It was really annoying, especially since I'd just gotten back to sleep after Trent got home at 2:30.

After that night, we decided she could probably move out of our room and wouldn't disturb the kids too much. The plan is to eventually put her in with Sara but we didn't want to do that just yet since she's not fully sleeping through the night. So we put her crib in the playroom (our 4th bedroom that has been designated as the playroom where all the toys go. Much better for our sanity to have them all in one spot and out of the way). The first night she was in there, I fell asleep around 10:20 and didn't wake up until 3:50. It was bliss. If she cried, I didn't hear her. The next night, same thing. I slept for a very long period of uninterrupted time, and if she cried I didn't hear her. The next night I did hear her whine twice, but she went right back to sleep. It's been heavenly to have a night of uninterrupted sleep. Now if only I could get her to sleep later than 6:00 a.m....

Monday, June 22, 2009


Our priest made a comment after church yesterday that got me thinking. He was getting ready to bless the fathers (since it was Father's Day after all - did you call your dad??) and made a comment about how many small children we have in our church. I guess we're all good Catholics lol. He talked about how great that is because it means our church is thriving and growing and will be around for a long time to come. When you see a church that has very few or no children, that's a church that will be closed in a few years' time. It struck me that the same is probably true for society in general. A society that has lots of children is one that is thriving and growing. A few weeks ago, another priest gave us some rather disturbing statistics about the numbers of children we have in society today. I don't remember the exact numbers but he did say that in the 50s, there were approximately 3 seniors for every 10 children, and the economy was thriving. These days the numbers have more than reversed. As I said, I don't remember the exact numbers, but it was something like 3 children for every 16 seniors. And we wonder why our economy is in shambles. When we don't have children to help our society grow, that means fewer workers for the workforce in the future, fewer taxpayers, fewer people to take care of that growing elderly population. And when those fewer future adults start having fewer children, then we're talking about a shrinking society instead of one that's growing as it should. Now, those who see the world as overpopulated will probably rejoice at this news. But those of us who see the ridiculousness of that realize that a shrinking society and shrinking workforce is not a good thing. Children are our future. They're the ones who will be making the money and the policies when we're growing older and retiring. They're the ones who will be taking over for us in our jobs when we retire. But if there aren't enough to replace us, that means more work has to be spread out over fewer people, meaning they'll have to work harder than we do just in order to maintain, not grow. Is that really what we want for our children? I'm not saying everyone should go out and have 10 children. I know I don't want to have 10 children. But we should all be open to children. And not just having a boy and a girl and being done because that's what society has deemed acceptable. But really being open to what God has in store for your family. Lately, every time we go to church, Trent and I start thinking about family and children and how nice it would be to have more kids. Then we have to pull over twice on the way home to spank one or both of the older kids and we start hitting ourselves over the head going, what were we thinking?? lol But it still doesn't change the fact that we enjoy growing our family and don't think we're done yet. We're willing to take on whatever children God sends our way and do our part to help our society continue to grow and thrive. It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it ;)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thanksgiving Thursday

This is something I've seen on a few other blogs so I thought I'd try it. Things I'm thankful for this week:

1. Marie officially saying "dada."

2. Marie's new tooth, but not her grinding it against her two others.

3. Sara's helpfulness this week.

4. Will's big grin when he's playing catch with his daddy.

5. That I got 3 1/2 straight hours of sleep last night - the longest in a while.

6. That I have a Mary Kay party tonight.

7. That I'm finally recovered from my deathly illness earlier this week.

8. That we're going to a pool party tomorrow.

9. That Father's Day is Sunday and we'll all be together for it.

10. My neighbors.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I never thought I'd say this...

...but Oklahoma is really growing on me. I was driving around this morning with the kids killing a little time while letting Marie nap in the car. We weren't even five minutes from our house but the area we were in was so open and beautiful. Everything's green and there are rolling hills everywhere so that occasionally you get a breathtaking view of the land. People who think the world is overcrowded need to come out here for a while. I've never been surrounded by so much open space in my life, and I love it. We've seriously entertained thoughts about buying a good bit of land out here and having a place where our kids can grow up with some space, surrounded by horses and cows and sheep and alpacas (we have quite a few of those around here too, on our street in fact). A place where they can run around and be kids and explore and still be on our own land. In some ways it's always been a dream of mine. The only thing holding me back is that we're pretty far away from family here. But this kind of land is hard to find back east where my family is, and definitely not for the prices you can find it for out here. Right around the corner from us, there are 98 acres up for auction that we've joked about buying. In fact, a few days before finding out it was for auction, we drove by, stopped and said, this is where we should build our house. It's on a bit of a rise and has a fantastic view of the surrounding land that's just gorgeous. *sigh* It's a dream...

What matters

Last night my kids and I watched "The Nativity Story," the story of Jesus' birth to a virgin named Mary. Mary was shunned by the people in Nazareth for becoming pregnant without a husband, people who had previously loved her. Yet Mary continued to persevere in the face of this treatment because she knew she was doing what God had called her to do, and she wanted to honor Him in everything. She didn't have to say yes to what God asked of her. She could have said no. Then she wouldn't have had to deal with the persecution and the accusing looks in the eyes of everyone she knew. But she realized something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. Those things don't matter. It doesn't matter what other people think of you or of what you're doing. What matters is that you're doing what God has called you to do in a way that is honoring Him. So many things that we place value on in this world are just not important in the big scheme of things. For example, my husband and I practice Natural Family Planning as a form of birth control, which involves keeping track of my cycles and abstaining when I'm in the fertile phase of my cycle in order to avoid pregnancy. So many people seem horrified when they hear this. You mean you have to stop making love for a week out of every month?! Perish the thought! Come on, people. Are you telling me you and your spouse have never gone a week without making love? Is it really that difficult to fathom? But that's not the point. What is the point is that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how often you get to make love to your spouse. That's something for this world, not the next. What matters is that you're doing what God has asked of you. We either try for or avoid pregnancy in a natural way rather than using pills or barrier methods that we believe go against God's teaching. Sometimes it can be frustrating, but we're reminded at times like that that the things God asks of us are not always easy. In fact, more often than not, they're difficult. This life is not the lasting one. It's simply a stepping stone into the next one that will last forever. That's the one that matters. That's the one that we should be focusing on when we're trying to decide if something is really important or not. The things we have in this life don't matter. Your house, your car, your clothes...those things are not what are important. Not that it's bad to have those things, even nice ones. It's how you touch other people's lives that's important. God puts people into our path for a reason. Sometimes it's so they can help us, sometimes so we can help them. It's up to us to figure out what He wants us to do for all the people in our lives, how we can help to enrich their lives in a way that is pleasing to God. Those are the things that matter.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


It's funny how something very basic can trigger memories. Last night we had steak for dinner along with mashed potatoes, green beans, and corn on the cob. My husband has this way of putting butter on his corn where he holds the corn holder thingies (whatever they're called - the things you stick in the ends of the cob so you can hold it without getting your hands messy) and rolls the corn on top of a stick of butter to get it covered without having to try and spread it with a knife. Quite ingenious if you ask me, and much less messy. This always brings me back to Matt. Two years ago while still at Camp Lejeune, NC, we had two of Trent's lieutenant friends, Matt and Dan, over for dinner. We had the same meal we had last night minus the green beans. Both guys commented on what a great family we had but it was one of those nights where things go crazy and both kids (we only had two at the time) were crying while we were trying to clean up dinner and it got a little hectic. So we scared them away from the prospect of fatherhood for a few years at least lol. But one of the things I always remember from that night was how impressed Matt was with Trent's corn rolling technique. He thought it was the coolest thing he'd ever seen and said we'd opened up new worlds to him. Okay not really, but he did think it was pretty cool.

A year later Matt was dead. 1st Lt Matthew Vandegrift was killed in action in Iraq in April 2008 while on patrol with his Marines. Remembering this always makes me think of the danger my husband is in whenever he deploys. It also makes me wonder why we stay in this profession that takes him away for months at a time and puts him in such dangerous situations. Matt is certainly not the first Marine we've known to be killed over there and I'm sure he won't be the last. That's the risk you take when you're in a profession where you're constantly going into a situation where you're surrounded by people who want to kill you and are willing to die in order to make that happen. I'm lucky. Trent's only been over there once and most likely won't be over there again for a few more years. When you think about that and the fact that he spends months at a time away from his kids, it's really tempting to run for the hills and get out of this while we still can, find a "normal" job and settle down somewhere. But then I think about all the good things that come along with it. The wonderful friends we've met, the camaraderie among Marines, the free housing lol. Not to mention free healthcare, a guaranteed paycheck, a pension plan, pay raises every year...I could go on too. Plus there's the fact that my husband loves his job and he's good at it. He's really good at it. He thrives among Marines. He often says he can't imagine being in a profession where he can't chew someone out for being late or laugh at them for saying something stupid (like the Army lieutenant he was teaching recently who thought his tool they were using was written in Arabic when in fact it was simply upside down). And really, I don't mind moving. It's been kinda hard being far away from my parents since we've been in Oklahoma, but since Trent's not deploying it makes it easier. I can't imagine him deploying and not being near family that I could run to when I needed someone to take the kids so I can keep my sanity. Trent and I waffle back and forth so much on whether we want to stay in or get out. Whenever he's deployed, we're both adamant about getting out. But then he comes home and we say it wasn't that bad and start thinking maybe we can stay in. I'm sure we'll change our minds a thousand more times before his time in the Marine Corps is over, whenever that is. It's not the easiest life to live, but I'm not sure it's one I'd want to live without.

P.S. If you haven't seen it, take the time to see the movie "Taking Chance." It's an HBO movie recently out on DVD starring Kevin Bacon based on a true story about bringing home the body of a Marine killed in Iraq. It's a powerfully moving story that shouldn't be watched with anything less than a full box of tissues but well worth it.