Monday, August 6, 2012

So, We Went School Supply Shopping

This past weekend was tax-free weekend, and a chance to get all the kids everything they'd need for school at a slightly lower price. We were going to be out of town all weekend, so I opted to get it done on Friday. I had two extra kiddos here, but they're easy. One is Aiden's friend, Ben, and the other was his older sister, Ellie. Ellie doesn't really count as an extra kid because she's super helpful and one of my best baby sitters.  As I loaded eight kids into the car to venture out to the land of the nutjobs, I thought to myself, "I have Ellie with me. What could possibly go wrong?".  The kids all excitedly piled in and buckled their seat belts with minimal crying out things like "She buckled faster than me. It's not faaaaaaair." or "Mom! Mom! Mom! Moooooom!  When we get there, can we get x,y, or z?".  Before we ever got out of the driveway, the whole event seemed completely civilized.

I had cleaned my kitchen from top to bottom that morning, which meant no one was allowed to eat in there.  Clean kitchens are meant for looking at, not eating in. Anyway, the WalMart has a subway shop in it, so I told the kids we'd go there first for lunch since they'd done so well with their chores.  My kids understand that there is an art to my method of ordering and remembering each kid's sandwich, drink, and snack.  I line them all up and then insist that they stay in line. That way, I can keep a running tally of who got what with what toppings on it when I go to check out. No one must step out of line or speak to me while I'm doing this.   Ben isn't really one of my kids (although we claim him as our's since he's here all the time), so he was unaware of this fact and made the life-altering error of asking me a question while I was trying to order.  Holy cow, dude!!!!  A question?!!?  Really?!?!?!  It's as if he'd altered the Force or something.  I took some time to breathe deeply into a brown paper bag and we were good to go again.  I finally got all the kids their food, got them seated at tables, and managed to enjoy lunch.  So far, so good.  No one was crying, bleeding, or being arrested, so I was thinking this was a pretty darn successful trip.

Then it happened. We cleaned up lunch and ventured over to the school supply department. They might as well just call it the black hole or something. Once you get within three aisles of it, you get sucked in never to be seen or heard from again.  There are pencils, notebooks, little purple glue sticks, binders, and washable markers all just waiting to get hold of you and drag you down to the depths of oblivion with them where they'll suck every penny out of your bank account before setting you free to cry in a corner alone and impoverished.  I'm pretty sure that's what happened to most of the people standing there because they all had blank faces as they stared at the notebooks with their shopping carts right in the middle of the aisle so no one could get by.  I could hear moms and dads arguing with their children as they tried to urge their kids to choose a notebook.  "But, mooooooom! I want a purple one!". "Fine, honey. Choose a purple one." "But I want a red one, too!"  "Well, the list says you just need one. Just choose one please." And then the kid proceeds to melt into a puddle of whine and tears on the floor.  I'm standing there trying to be patient waiting for them to move so I could have a chance to hem and haw over which one I wanted, too, and I'm thinking to myself,  "Dude! Let your kid get the whole freaking rainbow of notebooks. THEY'RE 17 CENTS!!!  Just get a dozen and get out of the way!!!! For that price, you can turn around and sell them on the school supply black market for 25 cents and make a killing! Free enterprise at its best, right??  Now, get your notebooks and MOVE!"

Finally we managed to move in, get our supplies, and then attempt to get out of the department. Let me tell you: those shopping carts can and will be used as weapons when one's life is in danger. My life was in danger, people! If I didn't arm myself with something (i.e. Shopping cart), I might still be in that black hole dodging notebooks, crayons, child-safe scissors, and post-it notes.  It was not a pretty sight, but I did manage to get myself and all of the children out alive.  Of course, they were slowly but surely coming apart at the seams and getting more and more impatient with each passing second.

Then came the socks and underwear.  Now, if you only have a couple of children to purchase socks and underwear for, this is really no big deal.  I have more than a couple of children to get socks and underwear for, so it might as well have been an act of Congress.  Mindy, Liam, and Drezden had plenty of underwear so they didn't need any. The same went for Rachel.  I explained to Rachel that she had so many panties in her drawer that the Victoria's Secret angels were jealous of her.  That didn't suffice. She wanted new panties right now. I wasn't budging. Do you know how much little girl panties are, especially when they just have to have Hello Kitty on them!?!?  Holy cow!!!  I told her I'd draw a cat all over the butt of all of her panties and say hello when she walked by, but that wasn't cutting it. She proceeded to fall apart in tears.  Luckily Ellie was there and was able to redirect her with socks. Gotta' love socks, right?  CJ chose his underwear with relative ease after thinking long and hard about the pros and cons of standard tighty whities vs. something with a little more flair to it. He decided that it's time to try boxer briefs, but not with pictures. Just cool colors would suffice. Whatever, dude. Good choice, let's move on.

Aiden's underwear decision was not so simple.  He really likes his boxers, so we had to spend some quality time looking at the boxers. Red plaid vs. blue plaid. What to choose?  I suggested that he go with boxer briefs because he likes to walk around in his underwear. Sometimes he sits on the couch and puts his legs up and, well, boxers just don't do the job when it comes to keeping his junk out of view from the rest of us. Plus, you could get three boxers for the same price as 8 boxer briefs.  He had almost made his choice for boxer briefs when Ben reminded him that boxers leave more wiggle room and look cooler.  I asked why it even matters how they looked and Aiden looked me straight in the eye and said, "Locker room, Mom."  Point taken.  So, we stood there another five looooooooong, painful minutes while he weighed the pros and cons of his underwear choices. Finally he selected boxer briefs because more come in the package, and we were on to socks.

I. Hate. Buying. Socks.  Over the ankle, below the ankle, too thick, too thin, too squishy, totally lame, super cool, WHATEVER. Just choose some socks!!! They come in a ten-pack and are all the same so you never have to worry about matching them.  THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE, KIDS!  For future reference (you know, like if I die and someone gets stuck taking these kids for socks on their own), here is what you need to know about my kids' sock preferences:
Aiden: Below the ankle. They're totally lame above the ankle. Not too thick.
CJ: Above the ankle. He doesn't care how thick, thin, or in between they are. For that matter, "Why can't I just wear dad's? They almost fit me!"
Rachel:"Mom! I totally don't wear white socks! I need these brightly colored socks that are sure to blind anyone that looks at them. Also, these are cool because I can mix and match and never have to wear two socks that are the same." Yeah. It's true. I'm not going into further detail on that. Just know that my head is hanging in shame for having agreed to it. In my defense, I was already beaten down just trying to survive the notebook aisle.
Liam and Drezden:  Ooooooh! Socks!
Mindy: Feet are too small for socks. Try again next year.

By some miracle, I made it out of the store alive. Because I'm a glutton for punishment (or stupid), I decided I needed to go to Target to take advantage of their BOGO sale and the tax free status. That's right, folks. I went from WalMart to Target with eight kids in tow on tax-free weekend. I know. I know. I'm practically a saint (or stupid).  Suffice it to say, next year I'm strapping broken down cardboard boxes to my kids' feet and calling them shoes. There is not enough medication on the planet to survive doing that again.

Rachel just had to have tie shoes, but they also had to light up and have Hello Kitty on them. Seriously, that stupid cat is haunting me every time I turn around. There were light up shoes that tied, but they didn't have Hello Kitty. Again, she wasn't satisfied with me just drawing a cat on the shoes and saying hello every time she came by.  There were velcro shoes that didn't light up, but had lots of sparkles and bedazzles all over them, but they didn't make her run super fast through the aisles.  There were Hello Kitty shoes that were tie shoes that had glitters, but they didn't meow when she stepped. Wait. That was just in my head. She didn't ask for meowing, but she may as well have. She asked for everything else.  We tried on cherry shoes that had velcro and lit up, we tried on pink and blue shoes that had ties but didn't light up, we tried on purple and green shoes that were just too purple and green.  I think we even tried on some blue high heels that looked vinyl or something. She LOVED those, but they weren't okay for P.E...or society for that matter.  Finally, she settled on the Hello Kitty sneakers that tied and had glittery spots on them, but don't light up.

Aiden only wanted exceptionally expensive shoes. I won't go into details, but it took us over an hour to decide that he'd just need to try another store.  Oh, and it was painful.

CJ just wanted velcro light up shoes, but didn't think it was fair that he was a size 3. What if he wanted to also be a size 5 or 71/2?  What if next year he's a different size and his size 3's feel bad? What if? What if? Why? How?  Do these look okay?  STOP THE QUESTIONS ALREADY AND JUST CHOOSE YOUR BLASTED SNEAKERS!! I must have been crazy (or stupid) to think this was going to end up any way other than BAD.

Liam really wanted monkey shoes. There were other shoes that fit him, but they weren't as cool as the monkey shoes. "Check out these cool light-up shoes, Liam". "No lights. Monkey".  "How about these cool sneakers?"  "No cool shoes. Monkey."  This went on for a while. I'd offer him something I liked and bait him with them and he'd stick his nose up at it and insist on the monkey. Frankly, I was just glad he was talking and I was so tired (and stupid) from trying to do all this with eight kids that I let him have the monkey shoes. They're cute.  And they're perfect for a person who throws poop.

Drezden?  Oh, Drezden! I think I'm just going to call him Captain Indecisive from now on. He'd find a shoe he liked and settle on it until Ben and Aiden would come along and show him some other completely hideous overpriced shoe and convince him he wanted those. Then I'd have to bring him back to earth and talk him into the more subtle, less expensive shoe.  In the end, we agreed on Cars shoes. Can't go wrong with that, right? Oh, and they light up. And they have velcro. But no kitties.

I rushed us out of Target before anyone decided to change their minds or wanted to ask me for something else, like a notebook or a pencil.  I got them into the van and came home to give myself some time to sit in the fetal position in the corner sucking my thumb while I rocked back and forth praying to never, ever have to go back to the store ever again.

I looked up at the clock and realized it was now dinner time. My kitchen was far too clean to eat in, so I called Byron and he agreed that we should go out to eat with Ellie and Ben's family and then he reminded me that there were some items (including school supplies) that he wanted to pick up from WalMart. Because I'm nuts (and clearly stupid), I agreed. So, we went school supply shopping...again.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Let The Back to School Countdown Begin!!!!

13 days until school starts!!! The bus arrives at 7:15 for Liam, 7:45 for Aiden, 8:09 for Rachel and CJ, and 8:45 for Drezden.  Not that I'm counting or anything, but that means THERE ARE LESS THAN TWO WEEKS UNTIL SCHOOL STARTS!!!!!  Wahoooooo!!!

It may sound like I'm one of "those moms" who is eager to ship her kids off to the local public school to take care of them while she goes to lunch with her husband, uses the bathroom alone and uninterrupted, goes Clearance shopping without a bunch of begging little monkeys in tow, spends hours on end cuddled up with a certain new baby, puts her feet up and watches trashy tv on the laptop, or cleans the house and enjoys it staying that way for a full hour or so. Really, I have much better motives than all that for sending them to school.  I mean, what sort of mother would I be if I admitted that I'm happy to send them to school so that I can get a break?  Nope.  I'll never admit that. At least not out loud anyway.

I'm trying to think of my darling little angels and their best interest. Three months out of school causes brains to turn to mush and boredom to set in. Do you know what happens when you put six bored children with mushy brains all in the same house for three months?  Let's just say some of what I've witnessed this summer could be used as tactics to get prisoners in the big house to confess to just about anything.  We wouldn't want these poor, sweet children to be too bored now would we?

And, really, think of their friends. It seems I'm going to have to sacrifice my time with the kids to send them to school so that they can grace their friends with their presence.  It just wouldn't be fair to the rest of the world if I kept my children all to myself and failed to share them with all of their adoring fans.

Let's not forget the teachers. In this economy, keeping a job is hard enough. If I kept my little brood here at home, those poor hard-working teachers would have nowhere to work and would find themselves homeless on the streets just wishing they could have had amazing children like mine to teach.  I can't let those teachers down. I know they wake up every morning and think, "Gosh! I just can't wait for those SuperMom kids to come to my class today!" By sending my kids to school, I'm putting food on the table of some underprivileged teacher who just wants nothing more than to spend eight hours a day five days a week with my angelic offspring.

And let's not forget the bus drivers. I know for a fact that they wake up at the butt-crack of dawn and excitedly throw on their clothes and rush out the door with only one desire in their hearts: they want to listen to my kids' voices non-stop all the way to and from school.  How could I deny those bus drivers such a privilege?  It seems like the least I can do really.

I know it could seem to some people that I am just thrilled to finally have a few moments of peace and quiet all to myself to just breathe in and out...and eat chocolate.  That is not the case, friends. This going back to school thing is a VERY serious business and a sacrifice, one that I make with a heavy heart.  Being the selfless, amazing person I am, I choose to allow my precious angels to go off into the world of school and spread a little sunshine.  So, it's with a heavy heart that I say LET THE BACK TO SCHOOL COUNTDOWN BEGIN!!!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Next Time I'll Just Get a Pizza

I got a ton of errands done yesterday. Drezden's DSi is in for repairs finally, the groceries are shopped, Aiden's supplies for camp are all organized and purchased, and the constant army of itty bitty ants in my kitchen by the window are all but eradicated.  These are all wonderful things, but they come at a cost. Time.  By the time I was done with it all, it was nearly 8:00 and I still hadn't gotten dinner started...or thought of for that matter.

I was still at the dreaded Wal-Mart, so I called Byron and told him I'd just get something there to bring home. We decided to settle on the dried up pieces of bony cardboard that WalMart likes to refer to as fried chicken.  I could also get some popcorn chicken there, which the kids love.

As I approached the deli area, the lady came out and I let her know I wanted fried chicken. I wanted two orders of 8 pieces. Those are $6.88 a piece.  She pointed to her deli case and said she was almost out, but I could go look on the warming rack by the registers.  I went to the warming rack and it was totally empty so I returned to the counter resigned to the idea that I'd just take what she had left.  I waited. And waited. And waited.  I tried getting her attention, but those little plastic hats they make them wear must have been blocking her hearing or something.  Finally, she spotted me doing virtual jumping jacks and flailing my arms around like crazy and came over to assist me.

I told her I'd just take what was left of her chicken. I knew Mindy was hungry and waiting for me at home and Liam, who was with me, was exhausted and starting to melt into a puddle of whine and tears.  Really, I just wanted to get what I needed and get out of there.

At a snail's pace, she made the first package of 8 pieces.  Then, she put the left over pieces into the next box and walked over to the little machine that makes price tags before handing me both boxes and starting on my order of popcorn chicken.  I looked at the tags and was a bit...surprised?  The first box said $6.88 for 8 pieces. That was correct.  On the second box, she charged me $3 for 3 drumsticks and $4 for 4 of whatever the last few pieces were. They were broken and not really identifiable.  I got her attention and asked, "Did you just charge me $7 for 7 pieces when I could get 8 for $6.88?"
 "Well, I had to count each piece and you don't have enough in that box to get 8 pieces. You only have 7."
"Okay, but it's only $6.88 for 8 pieces and you just charged me more to buy only 7.  Can't you just charge me for 8 pieces and make it cheaper?".
 "No, ma'am."
"Because you don't have 8 pieces. You have 7."
"Yes, I know that, but I did order 8. YOU just didn't have it."
"Okay, I'll just take this package that has 8 pieces and not the one that has 7".
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm very sure."

I'm glad I got the popcorn chicken.  No one would even eat the fried chicken. It was paper dry on the inside and horribly greasy on the outside.  Next time I'll just pick up a Little Caesar's pizza. They always have all 8 pieces in their pies and they're just five bucks.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Special Visit From Texas

This past weekend, we got a special treat that was a big surprise for the kids. Jim and Linda came from TX to spend a whirlwind weekend with our six little monkeys.  It was a much needed visit, especially or CJ who has a special little bond with Jim.  (They tell fart jokes, pick their noses, wear motorcycle shirts, and eat magic shell ice cream together any chance they get.)  We only get to see them once or twice a year, so I made sure I took all the pictures I could because the kids LOVE to look at them over and over and remember the fun they have with Jim and Linda.  

On the first night, the kids got to stay up late and swim at the pool almost until closing AND eat pizza there AND splash Jim.  As you can see from the pictures below, Jim didn't seem to mind much.  

The following day, we took the kids to the science museum where they attempted to pick Abe Lincoln's nose (leave it to Aiden), magnify the inside of their nasal cavities (yes, that's Aiden again), and desperately wanted to see a show at the "climax theater" as CJ calls it. (It's really the IMAX, though.)  We got a really good laugh at that last part because he described the climax theater by telling us it's got a really huge screen and it's all around you and it feels like you're right there.  I do love having a Deaf kiddo because of all the cute stuff he mishears now and then.  He keeps us laughing all the time.

After the museum, we went to Dollar Tree where Jim told each kid they could choose ONE thing from the store. I think he did that for his own pleasure and entertainment. Watching five kids try and choose one thing out of a huge store is like setting them free in the North Pole and telling them they're on the naughty list, but they can still choose any one stocking stuffer they want. They took forever and each found about ten things they just had to have before settling on their final purchases.  And, of course, after Dollar Tree we went to Dairy Queen for a less than nutritious, but completely delicious dinner.

Sunday morning, Jim and Linda had to leave. Mindy was being blessed that afternoon (pictures to come), but they needed to get on the road so they could be home before dark.  The kids always hate the part where Jim and Linda have to say goodbye. I hate that part, too.  Hopefully it wasn't so much of a goodbye as it was a "see you soon". 

A little quality time in the local swimming hole.

CJ built a molecule at the science museum

Aiden climbed into the blood drop and went hunting for the one white blood cell

Jim made Aiden's dreams come true by buying him a ride on the Segway.  The kid is STILL talking about it.

Pictures Sunday morning. Gosh, those kids love Jim and Linda. 

Best friends.

CJ fighting back tears saying goodbye.

CJ hamming it up for the camera

Drezden will love it when I show this picture to his future dates.

Even Mindy was sad to see them go.

This is Drezden's bike helmet. He was sure it was just Jim's size.

Nice tired kids at the end of a day at the science center...not tired enough, though

Liam was totally awe struck by the dinosaurs

Mindy got to spend most of the weekend in Linda's arms. They both liked that.

This giant penny greeted us at the museum. My kids had to immediately pick Abe's nose.

Another lovely photo for future girlfriends to enjoy

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wahooooo!!! Surviving Summer!!

Look! Here I am five weeks into summer vacation and I'm still alive and the children are still standing, too. Wahooo! That means I won't be going to prison for murder anytime soon.  Actually, I can honestly say that we're not just surviving summer but we're almost thriving.  I've even learned a few interesting things this summer.

1. Crayons left out on the deck will indeed melt leaving colorful puddles all over the deck that can only be scraped off...or you can just shrug and leave them there.
2. The ice cream man is of the devil. He plays music that sounds like a slowly dying musical toy, charges far too much, and induces vast amounts of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth in small humans as he drives by without stopping.
3. The lifeguards at the pool will NEVER fully understand that they can't yell "stop running!" to the little deaf kid that goes running by no matter how many times you explain it to them and show them how to simply sign it.
4. "It's not faaaaaaair" is the only acceptable response for a child when reminded that he needs to do his chores.
5. No amount of super fun daily activities will make up for the fact that this is the most boring summer ever. Oh, and can we go to the park again tomorrow??
6.Sandbox sand has amazing adhesive properties when naked little butts climb into the sandbox right before Mom is ready to take them somewhere.
7. Squirt guns are the best toy EVER unless they're aimed directly at you.
8. Babies in swimsuits are the cutest things on the planet.
9. WalMart with six kids doesn't always have to equate to a trip straight to hell. Sometimes it can sometimes even be fun. Usually it will feel a bit like hell, though.
10. No one can resist rocking out and dancing like no one's looking when Mom pumps a little music into the tv speakers during chores time.
11. Siblings will argue over every. single. thing. and then turn around and beg to play with each other two seconds later.
12. Sonic's happy hour half-price drinks and slushes will guarantee smiles all over.  Maybe a few spills in the new van, too, but who's counting?
13. At the end of the day, Daddy can't possibly get home soon enough for Mommy's sanity.
14. Kids will never tire of seeing wild bunnies, birds, worms, bugs, butterflies, or lizards running around. We must all stop and become totally awe-struck at such amazing wonders.
15. Rain is fun. Thunder and lightening is not.
16. Barbie dolls will meet their death if left out and the dog finds them. Don't worry, she'll only eat a couple of arms and half of the head. Barbie can still be played with.
17. Dinner tastes way better eaten outside.
18. Laundry multiplies about fifteen times in the summer compared to the winter.
19. Television is not necessary to make for a great day.
20. Nothing is more perfect than a summer spent with family. (Even if the kids all claim that it's "totally lame".)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mindy's Story

Dear Mindy Rayne:

This is the story of you.  I've probably forgotten details, but I hope that the most important parts are here for you.  Regardless of what I remember to detail for you, I hope you'll always know just how much your dad and I love you, not to mention just how much all of your siblings adore you.  You are truly the SuperMom Family Treasure.

Back in August 2011, I announced that CJ and Liam would be getting their cochlear implants and the way I announced it made it sound like we were announcing that I was having another baby.  Your grandma and grandpa were even a little upset because they heard that I was having a baby and hadn't told them.  The funny thing was that I wasn't at all pregnant...until one month later. That's when we found out you were coming. You were a complete surprise.  

Being pregnant with you was more challenging than all the other pregnancies I had with your siblings.  I think that's because I'm older.  34 doesn't feel very old, but I guess it is old when you're carrying a baby.  That, and I have Liam around. By the time you read this, your big brother Liam will be more mature and hopefully a little less exhausting. I'm hoping he doesn't teach you too many of his tricks.  But if he does, at least you'll be learning from the best.

It didn't take us long to choose a name for you.  We had a great boy name chosen and a great girl name chosen.  In my heart, I think I knew you were going to be a girl, but with four boys already I wanted to be prepared in case you were a boy.  I did love the name we had in mind for you. 

Your name comes from two very special people to us.  Mindy is a friend that I hope you get to meet someday.  Maybe you'll even inherit some of her traits, which would be amazing.  She and her husband, Henry, came into my life when I was 13 and set an example for me that would change me forever.  They taught me how families should be, how to love, how to work, and how to live the Gospel.  My own mom wasn't able to be a mom for me and your great-grandparents raised me from when I was eight.  Mindy and Henry picked up a lot of the slack for them.  They were even in the temple when your dad and I were married as witnesses.  Mindy is one of the most talented, kind, loving people I know and I named you after her because I hope that bearing her name will somehow entitle you to some of her phenomenal traits.  

Rayne comes from my friend, Vina.  Well, sort of. Vina and her husband, Monty, are good friends of your dad and me and they are funny and smart (except Monty isn't so great at playing Scrabble) and strong in spirit and in the Gospel.  Vina and I became fast friends and have a lasting bond. I've always wanted to name a baby after her, but her name is...well...a little different (then again, so is your brother Drezden's name).  It just never felt like it flowed right.  After we'd chosen your first name, we were trying to find a middle name that was equally as amazing. Your dad remembered that Vina has a daughter named Rain. Rain is smart and gorgeous and funny and athletic and talented in so many ways.  Daddy asked me what I thought of the name Mindy Rain, and I just knew it was perfect.  Just because I love to make things a little unique, I asked what he thought of spelling your middle name R-A-Y-N-E.  Daddy liked that as much as I did and it was decided from that moment forward.  And that's how you became Mindy Rayne.

The day after Christmas, I was getting ready to take your brothers and sister to the zoo and I slipped and fell on some water Liam left on the kitchen floor.  Let me just tell you that HURT.  I went to the doctor the next day because things weren't feeling right and we wanted to be sure you were safe. Your dad took me in and the doctor ordered an ultrasound.  That's when we learned that you were a girl.  I'm not going to lie. I was THRILLED to be having a girl even though I tried to play down my enthusiasm.

For the entire first trimester, I was tired and felt sick to my stomach.  The second trimester was better, but still challenging.  The third trimester?  Well, I thought you were trying to kill me.  Did you really have to plant yourself with one foot in my lung and one in my ribs?  No matter what I did, I just couldn't get comfortable.  Your dad and I promised up and down that we'd punish you harshly for all the discomfort you put me through.  Luckily you are so spectacular that we promptly forgot all of that the moment we met you.  

On Monday, May 7th, I noticed that my backache was a bit worse than usual. There was nothing I could do to get more comfortable.  I called your dad and complained about it, but it didn't occur to me that my aching back could be a hint of what was about to happen.  I also sat down on my bed for a few minutes that morning and woke up a full two hours later.  I didn't know it then, but my body was getting ready to help usher you into the world.  

That night, I went to bed around 11:30 after spending some time with your dad. I was just exhausted.  Your dad went to bed around midnight and I was sound asleep.  About 15 minutes after he went to bed, I woke up feeling like I really needed to use the restroom.  I tried that, and the cramping pains didn't go away.  That's when it occurred to me that the pains were coming about every two to three minutes.  I tried to wake up your dad, but he was too sleepy so I called my friend, Taffi.  We kept count of the pains and decided I should try a shower. That didn't stop the pains, either. I knew I was in labor and that the contractions were coming faster and closer than the doctor wanted me to let them be before going to the hospital. I decided it was time to really wake up your dad.

I woke him up and he started out a little groggy until I turned the lights on.  Once the lights were on, he took one look at me and he knew we needed to go right away.  The trouble was that it was too soon to allow you to be born.  You needed to cook longer.  I wasn't ready. The house wasn't ready. I didn't have a babysitter ready.  I started frantically throwing things into a bag while Daddy worked on finding someone to come stay with your brothers and sister. By this time, it was 1am on May 8th.  No one was answering their phones and we got worried. We even considered leaving Aiden in charge while we kept looking for someone to come stay at the house.  Finally, at the last minute, Tracey and Gerard were reachable and they came right over. Gerard helped your dad give me a blessing and we were off to the hospital.

I was in so much pain and the contractions were right on top of each other lasting long and hard.  Your dad drove as fast as he legally could (he's all about rules!) and kept me calm as I yelled and cried a little through the pain.  As he focused on driving, I called and talked to Taffi who helped me breathe through the contractions until we got to the hospital.

We had no idea where to go once we got to the hospital, so we went into the ER.  The ER people took one look at me and rushed me straight to labor and delivery.  They very quickly got me hooked up to monitors and informed me that my doctor was on the way to deliver you.  I remember asking if they meant you were coming right then. I needed your dad to explain it to me a few times because I think I was in a state of shock.

Before I knew it, the IV was in, the doctor was there, the spinal was in, and I was laying on the operating table with your dad holding my hand giving me the play by play as the doctor worked to bring you into the world.  At 4:05am on May 8, 2012, the world became a slightly more spectacular place as you came screaming into it.  You, Mindy Rayne, are perfect and you have been since the second you took your first breath.  And I am slightly more perfect just for being in your presence.  Just like each of your siblings, you make me a better person.

Because you came a bit too early, you had fluid in your lungs so you couldn't be with me for long before you were taken to the NICU where you could receive a higher level of care.  I hated having you away from me. It was miserable.  I didn't get to hold you until several hours later, but I made sure I pumped milk until you were ready to nurse. The minute you were ready to try eating, I was by your side all the time. Every 90 minutes, your dad would wheel me down to your room so I could try feeding you.  It was a miserable time having you in the NICU, but we were so blessed in that you only had to stay in the hospital a day or so longer than me.  

All of your siblings came to see you and tell you how excited they were to bring you home.  They just couldn't wait, and neither could Daddy or I.  I was so thrilled when they finally let us bring you home.

So, here you are. You have monitors that tell us about your heart and lungs and oxygen, but I don't mind that one bit.  You love to be held and snuggled and you hate to be put down. You are the snuggliest baby any mama could ever ask for. You are pure perfection.

We love you, Mindy Rayne. We love your cute little grunts. We love your long fingers and toes and your outie belly button.  We love how tiny you are and how big your cry is.  We love your soft skin and fuzzy little head. We love how you giggle in your sleep and stick your cute little legs and toes straight up when you cry. We love you.  

And that, my love, is your story.  Welcome to the world, Mindy Rayne.  May you follow your dreams and step into your majesty.  


 CJ came to visit you and wanted to bring you home right away.
 You had some trouble clearing fluid out of your lungs, so you were in the NICU in a CPAP machine for a few days.
 Just seconds after you were born, nurses started helping clear fluid out of your lungs. You were not impressed with that idea.
 Your big brother, Aiden, is so loving and gentle with you. I can always count on him to hold you and keep you safe for me.
 CJ and Drezden are so eager to take care of you.
 Drezden is probably most excited of all. He couldn't wait for your arrival!
 Garrett came to visit you a couple weeks after you came home.
 Miss Gracie is so loving and gentle with you. She helps Rachel and Drezden show you love
 Princess Rachel can't wait to teach you how to be a princess.
 Even Liam came to visit you in the NICU. Don't worry. I promise not to leave you alone with him.
 You started showing us your pretty eyes more often at around 2 weeks old.
 3 weeks old.  You must be drifting into a very happy dream.

 This was the first time I really got to meet you and hold you. I was so relieved to finally hold you in my arms. The wait just felt so long.
 2 weeks old. This was your first try of your fancy pink bouncy chair.
 You had to do a carseat test to prove you were big enough to come home. You passed!
 That yucky feeding tube in your nose made Mommy cry! We got it out as early as possible.
 Your daddy loves you so much. He was so thrilled to have another princess.
 Aiden came to meet you before anyone else.  He is such a great big brother to you.

 You looked oh so cool in your billi light bed. We called it your tanning bed.
 The very first time we met. It was brief, and I wanted to stay with you so much longer.  
CJ and Drezden meeting you for the first time. They wanted to bring you home right away!

Rachel loves reading to you!

Your big sister was so glad to meet you.