Thursday, July 31, 2008

Y-L-U-J...Looking back at July

Yes, I know. It's a cheesy title. You should all know by now, though -- I'm nothing if not cheesy...

"Poopy in the potty! You wanna see?" Conner has become quite the reader. I love walking in and finding them reading together.
Just too funny. We played royal pez for about a week. The castle blocks were out, and the Pez dispensers took turns knocking one another off the towers. They had a ball.
"Look, Daddy! Josiah's wearing sunglasses!"
BatConner
This was at the family lunch following PeePaw's funeral. It's the cousins -- our three and Cousin Caleb's little Christian. They had so much fun running around together. Thank you, thank you, thank you Gammie for watching them during the funeral for us. We of course couldn't get them to all look at the camera and smile at the same time -- this is probably cuter anyway! I love this picture of Conner. Cute, cute.
Josiah has officially reached the "grabby baby" stage -- he tries to get his hands on everything. Thank goodness he's still working on the coordination and can't grab too quickly yet. God was so sweet to build in a little time for us this way to adjust... Here he's going for the camera.
This is how Joey gets most of his baths these days. Micah comes in and sees us, and decides he needs to help. How better than to climb onto my back?! Micah is praying. So sweet...
Quotes:

Conner to Bret, as they were driving in the van: "Dad, drive faster than the police!"
Bret: "I don't think I need to drive any faster. I don't want the police to catch me and put me in jail."
Conner: "It's okay. It will only be for a few days."

Micah, when someone tells him he is cute: "NO! I not cute. I silly!"

I was walking down the hall early one morning and heard voices in the big brothers' room. I opened the door. Micah: "We're just talkin'"
Conner: "Yeah, we're talking about important stuff."
Rachel: "Okay. I'll shut the door."
A few minutes later they came into the living room. Conner: "We were just having an important meeting."
Micah, close on his heels: "Yeah. We talkin' 'bout watermelons."

"Ah-di-der" --Micah saying "alligator"

Gammie and Poppy have DirecTV. Their remote control has the magic yellow button on it that pauses live TV. While we were visiting, Conner was standing there watching something, bouncing up and down, obviously needing to go to the bathroom. Gammie said, “Conner, do you want Gammie to pause it so that you can go to the potty?” She paused it, and Conner, in awe exclaimed, “Wow! I’ve got to get one of those yellow buttons at my house!”

Me: “Good morning, Micah. It’s Sunday-Church-Day. We’re going to our new church today.”
Micah: “Oh. It a red one church?”
Me: “No, not red.”
Micah: “It a white one church?”
Me: “No, not white.”
Micah: “It a gween one church?”
Me: “No, not green. Bret, what color is JJ Mocah’s (where Christ Journey meets)?”
Bret: “I don’t know…coffee?”
Me: “It’s a coffee one church.”
Micah, completely satisfied: “Oh. It a coffee one church. I want go to coffee one church.”

A commercial came on in between cartoons the other day. It was selling markers. “And you get all this for the low, low price of $19.95. Must be 18 or older to order.”
Conner, with the most melodramatic, disappointed, desperate, and upset face you can imagine: “Must be 18?! But I’m only 4 ½!!” Then he fell on the floor in a sobbing heap.
I said, “Conner, calm down Baby. Do you know what it means to order something?”
Conner: “No, what?”

Conner, to Bubba, after watching an episode of the Backyardigans in which the superheroes won. He was rooting for the supervillains and was very upset that they did not win: "I just don't think I can watch TV any more today or tomorrow or the next day, but I probably can the next. It might remind me of what happened.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Funeral and Some Memories

We buried my PeePaw yesterday. The funeral service was nice and well-attended. It's a little sad that it sometimes seems that it takes something like that to get a large family all together, but it's still so wonderful to see them all. We had a nice time crying, laughing, and sharing crazy Peepaw stories. Here's a picture of us, all but Chris. We missed him, and we know that he wanted to be with Lydia and the rest of us. We are so thankful, though, for their sweet, responsible, and sacrificial hearts. There's actually a spot there between the boys in the back where we could edit him in...

And...following is a post that I had scheduled to go up yesterday. I had forgotten about it and got up this morning to find that blogger had done what I asked it to a couple of weeks ago. I had a lot of trouble getting signed in to add something about PeePaw, but patience and persistence...here we are! I like it, so I thought I'd just stick it on the tail end of this one...

From the File of Yesteryears


I have so many pictures of these kids! Some people tell me that I'm crazy to take so many...I'll never even look at them again. Well, I do. Once a month or so, I look back a year or two just to remember. It's kind of fun to see what we were doing, what everyone was up to. (I guess I'm getting used to Conner's missing front teeth. It's getting to where it's kind of strange to look back on pictures of him with them!) Just thought I'd share:

2007:

This is when we discovered that we were pregnant with Joey!

2006:

Chicory came to live with us.


Jodi and Robert were living with us, too.

2005:

Jodi and Robert got married.This is also when the "direction of our lives" changed drastically.

2004:


No digital camera before that...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monday Money Day

First thing's first -- I have to share something funny before I get serious on you. When we get home from a trip, my stuff is nearly always unpacked and put away before I go to bed that night. Sometimes I'm brave enough to go into the boys' rooms and risk waking them up in order to put their things away, too...sometimes I just wait until the morning. Bret's stuff though...Bret's stuff usually sits in the suitcase for a little while. It kinda drives me crazy. He usually says, "Why bother unpacking it? I'll just have to pack it up again soon." Yeah, as in next month. Well, score one for the procrastinater this time. I put my stuff away Saturday night, and started putting the kids' stuff away, too. Nothing happened with it the next morning -- it was Sunday. Yeah, right. Then we got the phone call about PeePaw as we were finishing up lunch. For once, Bret was right. His stuff is already half-packed for this trip. Mine is not...

And on a side note, I was helping Conner with something on the computer and needed a good place to set Joey down for just a quick little minute -- a towel, a blanket, something within quick reach. Yup, Bret's suitcase was there, and it did the trick perfectly...
Now on to Monday Money Day. There are sooo many things to pray for with this church planting thing and upcoming move. I was feeling pretty overwhelmed trying to pray for all of it every day, so I've made a little schedule for myself. There are specific things I pray for each day of the week. I don't know, that may sound way too systematic, but it's working for me -- I'm actually praying about it more instead of just getting overwhelmed with all of it and doing nothing but crying...

I pray for money on Mondays. I'm not praying to get rich or anything, I'm just praying that we will be able to raise enough money to get moved, get started, and still be able to pay the bills - all before a new preacher starts here (but not too much before)... It seems to be going so slowly. We had a big fund raising event scheduled last week that had to be cancelled. We were so hopeful, and then so disappointed. I began praying then that the next Monday Money Day, yesterday, would be a positive one. Well, here's how it went:
  • About 11:30 Sunday night (I'm counting that as Monday), we got a phone call. My MeeMaw wants to know if she can request donations to Christ Journey (the church we will be joining to start planting new churches) to help us out, in lieu of flowers for PeePaw. We were speechless. Ummm...yes! What a special, special gift.
  • Bret gets a phone call and finds out that there is a church who might be interested in helping us out in some way. They're having a lunch meeting on Sunday...be praying for that!
  • Two more people committed to supporting us monthly, bringing our total amount raised to about 26%, and a total of 16 individuals and families who have partnered with us so far.
Monday was a long and weary day for my family who was busy going about making funeral arrangements. It was a long and weary day for me, too -- I'm physically and emotionally exhausted, Bret and the brothers are worn out, too (which means we're all a little extra cranky), and we're frantically planning to leave for a nearly 2 week trip tomorrow (just the boys and me -- Bret is only staying for two days), including the aftermath from the last trip - all the unpacking and sorting through mail and junk.

But, Monday Money Day was a positive day. Thank you, God, for answering a desperate prayer in such an unmistakeable way, undeniable even when the rest of the world seems to be crumbling around us at times. Tuesday prayers are specifically for good schools for the kiddos and a great house at a great price in a great location that will be good for lots of entertaining and home officing. (I'm not asking much, am I?!)

Tomorrow we're off to the airport around 4:30am to catch a 6:30am flight and 11:00am funeral...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

PeePaw

For just about as long as I can remember, nearly everytime I visited him, my PeePaw told me the same story -- about a time he remembers when I was about 2 or 3 years old, walking down the driveway with the dog following me, like he was my only friend in the world. "Oh, Ra-Ra," he would say, "I can still see you walking down the driveway with that ol' dog..."

My PeePaw passed away today. My family gathered together as families do, laughing and crying, eating and remembering. I thought a lot about that story he always told me. I've never felt quite this alone, quite this far away from my family, quite so much as I must have looked as I walked down the driveway with the dog years ago. Don't get me wrong -- I am so not alone. I've got four boys right here in the house with me, and not a one of them have anything better to do than to take care of me. (And Bret, bless his heart, has made sure that they're all doing just that!) But I cannot just hop in the car to be with the rest of my family. It is too far, gas is too expensive, I've got too many kids that are too young, we've just now been home for a whole day. You hear moms talking about how they are never allowed to be sick because the kids still need to be cared for, dishes washed, laundry folded, bills paid, etc... Well, moms (and dads -- he was Bret's PeePaw, too) don't really get to grieve when they feel like it, either. I'm not hiding my pain or my tears, I just know that I can't really let go until the day is done, the kids are down -- because when I do finally let go, I won't be very well able to change a diaper, read a book, search for softie, or make chocolate milk.

It's just makes me feel so lonely. It's not often that I ache like this for a hug from my Mom or Dad, grandmother, or sibling...to just be in the same room with them...to laugh with "The Cousins"...to be comforted by the familiar voices and laughter, even frustrations and disagreements amidst all of the final arrangements and decisions that must be made. So often I find myself thankful for cell phones, mobile-to-mobile minutes, free nights and weekends, rollover minutes, etc... My sister put me on speakerphone yesterday as my Dad led the family in a prayer, and I was able to be a part - without so much as even thinking about a long distance charge.

As I was talking to Conner about all of this, I asked him if he remembered PeePaw. "Yeah, I remember PeePaw." (I'm just glad he didn't include "duh" in that!) I asked him what he remembered about PeePaw, hoping that it wasn't the very recent visit in the hospital. What my sweet Conner said was like the hugs that I was needing and couldn't get. "He's really funny. He teases me a lot." You got it, kiddo. That was PeePaw -- one of the ways he let us all know he loved us was with teasing us relentlessly. One of the things Bret has said is that he will never forget how, when we first started dating, PeePaw took pride in calling him by all of my old boyfriends' names.

Oh my, how my heart hurts. PeePaw, I miss you so. It is in part because of you and your influence that I know I will find comfort and peace in Christ...and that goodbye is not forever...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

And We're Back

Just under 9 hours from when we left Gammie's and Poppy's house this morning, we pulled into our driveway. For better or worse, we're actually getting good at this trip. The boys are getting to be pretty good little travelers, and Bret and I are learning a few tricks to keep up our sleeves. A few stats from our day on the road:

0: minutes Conner and Micah slept
1 1/2: hours Joey cried before we finally got him to sleep tonight
1: new Backyardigans movie -- hallelujah, and thank you, Bret!
2: fast food restaurant playlands
3: swats given in the McDonald's bathroom for a baaaad attitude
1: attitude that was miraculously better the rest of the day
$3.65: cheapest gas we saw -- too bad we'd already filled up!
4: naps that Joey took -- he no doubt gets the prize for the best sleeper today!
5: square inches of the van not occupied by a Wells brother or his stuff
33: pounds of free home-grown ground beef (and several steaks) in the ice chest -- all still frozen solid when we got home (thanks Mom and Dad, and Gammie and Poppy for the layover in your freezer)
$111: dollars spent in gas today
8,325: number of crumbs on the seats and floor of the van

Didn't really take any pics today...except for this little face covered in oreos!On another note, I think the technical difficulties have been corrected, and we're up and running again. I did actually write a post every day, I just couldn't get the pictures loaded. If you care to look back I've posted them, too.

Good to be home! :)

Four P's and a Very Important G

Friday, July 25, 2008

The. Wells. Brothers. Are. So. Tired.

This is the fourth time we have made the 1000+ mile, 10 to 13 hour round trip from our house to grandparents since April. Joey is four months old, this is trip number four. They are getting to be great little travelers and we are greatly indebted to The Backyardigans, but they are tired all the same. Yesterday as we were driving in, Conner was pretty much begging to go to sleep, he just couldn’t do it. Micah was doing the I-can’t-stop-bugging-my-big-brother-or-stop-moving-or-making-noise-or-I-know-I’ll-go-to-sleep-and-I-certainly-don’t-want-to-do-that thing. Joey just couldn’t stay asleep for more than thirty or so minutes at a time. Awesome…

It was quite obvious that what everyone needed was some R&R today. There was lots of playing in the house, they watched Ratatouille and Chicken Little, but the two exciting event of the day were the four P’s and a G.

"G"ammie took the brothers out to swim in the "p"ool, have a "p"icnic, and eat "p"opsicles.

Then this evening, "P"oppy took them “down to the bottom” to look for animals. They usually see all kinds of stuff – deer, snakes, skunks, rabbits, donkeys, cows, horses, hogs, hawks, etc… Conner was hoping for 33 deer…the report when they came back was only a few cows. It was fun all the same, though!

It’s back in the van tomorrow. Hopefully the new Backyardigans movie Bret picked up today will do the trick…

Chickee Bunny, We Have Power

Thursday, July 24, 2008

We left Mom’s and Dad’s this morning. It was off to Granny and Grandad’s (Bret’s grandparents, Gammie’s parents) for a little visit. It doesn’t matter how often you get to see your grandparents, they always know just how to make your day. The boys got to pull everything out of the toy closet.

One of the treasures they found was a toy doctor kit -- with two play syringes. We got shots in the arms, legs, heads, noses, necks, you name it...

Joey was quite happy to lay on the floor sucking his toes while he received his shots.

Grandad dished up some ice cream for everyone, and then took us outside to see the surprise. Granny had some new pet bunnies. Pooh was the smart one that hid under the shed. This is Chickee (through the eyes of Photographer Conner).

Conner was so excited. “I can’t believe I’m actually petting a bunny rabbit!”

Then we were off to Gammie’s and Poppy’s. We got a call just before we got there – a storm had come through and knocked down a pole with a transformer. There was no power at Gammie’s and Poppy’s, and at their house, that means no water, either. Yeehaw. We prepared the boys for a flashlight party, and then got stuck behind the power company’s repair trucks. (There was no way we were gonna get by them on the little county road.) The boys were sooooo ready to get out of the van. It stunk that we had to sit there and wait for a little while, but the power was on when we pulled up to the house. A flashlight party would have been lots of fun, but given the choice, I would choose power and water nearly every time!

Unbirthdays and an Anniversary

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Conner’s birthday is not until August 24th. But we live hours and hours away from all the family. We are here now, don’t really know when we’ll be back again, and always looking for an excuse for a party (and more food)! What better than a birthday a month away? We did the party, presents, cake, Chuck E. Cheese, etc at Gammie’s. Booboo had the same idea to celebrate the birthday early, only in a much different way.

We had an anniversary/unbirthday party. All the family came in, with the exception of Ira (that pesky old bank thinks Wednesdays are work days!) and the addition of MeeMaw. We had hot dogs, sausages, chips, dips, fresh fruit grown in Dad’s garden…and unbirthday banana pudding. There was a “5” candle for Conner, “3” for Micah, and a “1” for Joey. (Good grief! I'm not ready for them to all be that old. I guess its a good thing they're not really yet!) After we sang to them and they blew out their candles, (Joey slept trough it all) we rearranged the candles into a 31 because today was (really) Mom’s and Dad’s 31st anniversary. Lots of fun, lots of family, and lots of balloons!

Yup, I’m sitting in a wheelchair, blowing up helium balloons. That’s my family for you – we just all jump right in there together. Meemaw even had a balloon or two tied to her “cart”. I’m a little sad I didn’t get a picture of that. It was too cute!

And we couldn't call it a day without a romp in the waterpark.

We are so blessed with our families. I love that both grandmothers wanted to celebrate, but did it completely differently -- and equally special.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Don't Touch That Remote!


Our apologies – we’re experiencing minor technical difficulties. Bret is working on getting stuff sorted out and the brother's mother must finally call it a day.

Please stay tuned, the Wellsbrothers and their caretakers are anxious to share wonderful tales of unbirthdays and chickie bunnies.

We are currently resting at Gammie and Poppy’s house and will continue our journey back to the land of swamp bridges, bumpy-slide playgrounds and fountains in a day or so.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Spiderman Sandwiches

We went to the park this morning. You know, there could be acres of playground equipment, costing thousands upon thousands of dollars, and my boys would still do nothing but sit and play with rocks! They pile them, they fill up cups and dump them, they pile them on the slide and then slide through them, they throw them at one another... So far neither one of them has been too bad about eating them. (That I know of, anyway!)

Micah has accomplished some major milestones in his independence on the playground this trip. He was so very proud of himself that he climbed the rock wall all by himself.
And, as always, Joey was quite content to just sit in Booboo's lap and watch... Then the squabbles started coming a little too often, and I decided I should try to get them to eat something. "Micah, do you want your big one peanut butter and jelly sandwich?"
"No. Want a Minee Man (Spiderman) Sandwich."
"Hmmm...a spiderman sandwich. I'll see what I can do." I borrowed Bret's pocket knife and carved a web (I tried, anyway) into the top.
"Micah, come look. Spiderman shot a web on your sandwich!" He came running -- this was quite possibly the best thing that could have happened to him this morning. It was gone in about three minutes!

It works so much better when I've got the energy and couple of minutes to be creative. I got Cool Mom points, and Micah ate his lunch without incident. I'm afraid it would not have been quite as happy of an ending if I had just said, "Sorry. No spiderman sandwiches. You'll just have to eat what we've got..." (That does happen a lot, too.)

And then we ended the day having dinner with some old friends. It was not quite what we thought we were going to be doing this Tuesday night, but it was really good all the same. Bret and I got to share our dreams a little, we got caught up, and we of course laughed a lot. It is so good to have old friends that you can pick up with where you left off!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Don't You Wish You Could Actually Feel the Embrace?

The other day Micah woke up upset. I don’t know if he had a bad dream, didn’t feel good, was just in a bad mood, or what – but he was not a happy camper. It didn’t take much to calm him, though. He cuddled with softie, sucked his thumb, curled up in a little ball on my lap, and I surrounded him in a big mommy hug/cuddle. He was instantly calm and content.

Today was a hard day. We’ve gotten some disconcerting news, had a disappointing turn of events and some plans rearranged and we are struggling to keep the discouragement from overcoming us. We are struggling with trying so hard to do what, with every ounce of our beings we feel that God has called and prepared us to do – yet the journey to accomplish that task is so hard, so long, with so many struggles and disappointments along the way.

Today I wished that there was still someone big enough that I could just crawl into their lap like that. I wished that someone would surround me in their arms, cuddle me in their lap and tell me it was all going to be okay. I got lots of hugs, lots of “it will be okay”s, lots of “I love you”s and “God will work it out”s…but I needed someone bigger than me, that I could trust beyond a shadow of a doubt, with the innocence and faith of a two-year-old in his mother’s lap to tell me those things.

I know the answer to that longing is God – God is big enough to do those things. But don’t you wish you could physically feel God like that? Don’t you wish you could actually feel the embrace, the pat on the back, the hand stroking your hair? Don’t you wish you could actually hear His voice assuring you…and not just think, “Maybe that was God’s way of saying…”

I know the answer to that is the way that God works through us. I believe that family and friends are one of the ways that God communicates with us, cries with us, comforts us, assures us. At one point I hung up the phone and walked over to my dad…I didn’t even have to say anything and his arm was around me. Tonight as I bounced and rocked Joey to sleep for about the seventeenth kajillion time, I just cried with him. God used even a four-month-old baby who was tired and not feeling so hot to comfort me. And then my sweet MeeMaw, who I hope is herself finding God’s comfort and peace through the company and arms of family, ended my day on a good note, with an amazing vote of confidence. Leave it to your grandmother to know just what you need and when you need it. A little later, after I finally found the stomach to eat dinner around 10pm and finished a big bowl of Bunny Tracks ice cream, I shared a tearful hug with my mother and am going to get some rest alongside my husband, who is worn out, too. It’s amazing how just sleeping next to someone can be comforting in itself. It was so good to be with family tonight, for good friends to be only a phone call away, and I am so thankful that God in His wisdom arranged things this way. Even the community I have found through this blog, those of you whom I know have said a quick little prayer for us as you have read this, are gifts from Him.

On a lighter note, today wasn’t all gloom and disappointment…by golly we’re at BooBoo and Yogi’s house, Aunt Jodi and Uncle Robert came for a little while to visit, and we’re having lots of fun, too! Here’s a few pictures of the kiddos:

Here's Conner with Camille, the miracle kitten. She randomly showed up the day that the boys came to visit about a month ago, a strangely tame and people-loving offspring of a barncat. Then she narrowly missed disaster when the dog got out a couple of days ago. She disappeared for a few days, was given up for gone, and then showed up just before we got here again!


Josiah and MeeMaw are becoming the best of friends.Conner spent a lot of the afternoon playing his new Wall-e Wii game and using MeeMaw's really cool magnifying glass to "find clues" in all his books.Micah got to ride with Yogi and Uncle Robert to take a calf to the packing plant. (Don't worry -- they just dropped it off, he has no idea what was going on! No pics, though...)

"Joey, look at Mommy!"

Joey is getting so hard to feed a bottle too -- so many things to look at. He's waaaay interested in what the big brothers are eating, too. Now we've just got to convince him that he's got to start off with the cereal instead of jumping right into the corn dogs...

After dinner, it was to the front yard to play in "the water park."

And every night at BooBoo and Yogi's there is ice cream before bed. What a way to end the day!