Sunday, March 27, 2011

Welcome to the World, Charles Gabriel Francis

Last Wednesday my schedule (battle plan) looked something like this:
7:00 a.m.  Beg for grace (prayer)
7:30 a.m.  Start breakfast, set up lesson plans for the school day, watch the news, curse and cry
8:30 a.m.  Sound the school bell
12:30 p.m.  Lunch
1:30 p.m. Head to town for George's dental appointment and to shop for Benedict's birthday...

How does the saying go, "Life is what happens while you are busy making plans??"  Life indeed....

My plans were right on on track.  Everything was moving along smoothly until about 10:00 a.m.  During our language arts lesson mild contractions began to set in.  Reason told me to ignore the twinges - I was 11 days early, and all of my previous births had come well past due-date time.  So, spelling carried on.

Lunch time - still having contractions - still ignoring them.  I had prayed for God to be merciful and to surprise me with an early labor/delivery.  Just not today. There was too much to do.  No time for a baby today.  Saturday, might be nice.  Could we do Saturday, Lord?? 

Leaving for town, still having contractions, I call Steve just in case this is the real deal.  Being more efficient than normal getting everyone loaded up and out the door, we actually arrived in Garden City early allowing us a few minutes to stop at the bookstore before the dentist.  Perusing through Hardy Boys and easy readers, not only did the contractions begin to intensify, my water began to leak....ok, so this might be it.  Might.

Within minutes we were heading to the dentist's office, where I thought I would kick back with a magazine and contract away.  Nope.  Water had officially broken, contractions were two minutes apart. the "might" had turned to right, and to my sweet relief, my sister-in-law was in town and agreed to meet me in the Target parking lot to take Andrew and George so I could go to the hospital.  Phew!  

Swearing I could hear my husband peel out in his diesel pick-up on the dirt roads that flank the farm 20 miles from town, I knew he would soon be at the hospital to meet me.  The rising dust cloud on the horizon confirmed my intuition. (Please, Lord, let the lights be green and the police unseen.)  Not wanting my labor to slow, I calmly let Steve know that I would wait for him in the parking lot of the hospital.  I'll just recline back in the van, listen to Beethovan, and practice relaxed breathing, I told him. Nope, that plan was not going to work either.  Contractions are now 2 minutes apart and getting stronger.

Reluctantly I waddled in to the maternity ward and began the process of check in.  It was a good thing I decided not to exercise my Beethovan and breathing plan, because about an hour after checking in to the maternity ward at St. Catherine's Hospital, Charles Gabriel Francis Husband was born!
At 6 lb., 14 oz. and 19.5", he's the smallest of all of the boys at birth. But, perfectly healthy in every way.  Joy!
Thanks to the support and guidance of our wonderful M.D., Steve was able to deliver Charles.  It was a wonderful experience for both of us.  He was a champ!

After a short rest, we could not wait any longer for the boys to come and visit the little miracle that they too had been patiently waiting to meet these past 38.5 weeks.
The look of amazement and joy that overwhelmed their little faces the moment they looked upon their brother cannot be captured with words.  
Witnessing their little souls embrace life in its most fragile and precious form was supernatural.  Though Benedict shared few words, his gaze upon Charles could not be distracted.  His silence spoke clearly, "I am here, I am your brother, I will protect you, I love you."
Our second son, Andrew upon holding his new little brother, looked up to Steve and said, "Dad, this is such a treat!  He is a masterpiece, Dad, a masterpiece!"  (Tears, lots of tears here.)  
The scriptures say, that the pure of heart shall see God.  How very true these words felt in that moment.
George, giving the brightest of all smiles, and begging relentlessly to hold him, could only say his name over and over, "Charles, Charles, Charles."  He now calls him Saint Charles.
And then there's Henry.  As a pajama enthusiast, he was more interested in my new jammies than the baby.  And, pointing at my still puffy tummy, he asked when I was having the next baby.  Sigh. Then, he realized there was someone new in my arms.  And, the kiss-fest began!
Steve was absolutely wonderful.  Watching him with the boys, loving them, teaching them, forming them - giving life to them is a treasure to my heart.  To see all of his beauty and goodness in our five boys is glorious.  I am beyond blessed.  What a gift it is to get to love him, and to be loved by him each day.
We were surrounded those couple of days in the hospital with the love and support of family.  But, I missed my sister, who lives in Switzerland, terribly.  Hearing her voice was so encouraging.  Sharing sisterhood and motherhood with her is a great comfort to my heart.  She will be flying back to Kansas for the baptism.  I am counting down the days until she arrives.
 Our little "masterpiece."  Charles Gabriel Francis Husband.

Why be something to everyone when you can be everything to someone? - G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, March 20, 2011

10 Things We Love About George

This is a continuation from the last blog.  The second of a series of dedications to each one of our children - things we love about them, characteristics that make them unique, and the gifts they will share with their new little sibling.  Dearest Baby, here are....

 1.  Call it ornery or call it spunk, either way, you will probably never have to worry about being in more trouble than George.  His wild hair was probably an early indicator of what the future would hold!  You will never have a dull day with George in your life!

2.  At an early age, George took up the little hobby of word inventing.  He would run around the house calling out new words and names for things.  Some of them stuck.  Like "caduation" for instance.  This would be a cross between a catastrophe and an situation.  We will be sure to debrief you on any new terms when you start babbling.

 3.  Along with a personal dictionary of words, George also has an expression to match his every thought, feeling and motive.  We're kind of counting on him to entertain you during long trips in the car. Are you up for that???
4. George is an excellent crafter.  What a treat it is to have pictures drawn or painted for you almost every day.  His favorite mediums are Elmer's glue and pipe-cleaners.  I imagine that your swing, crib and car seat will be personally decorated by your big bro.

5.  While his older brothers may tease him for this one, it is a personal point of admiration for his mama: George loves veggies, particularly lettuce.  He can often be seen sneaking big leaves of Romaine out of the fridge, making himself a salad during a random time of day or asking me to be sure and add broccoli to the grocery list. A child after my own heart! Enjoy your months of milk, because I see a lot of green in your future diet, little one!
 6.  One of our nick names for George is "Mr. 110%"  Once he catches on to a sport, and truly enjoys it, watch out!  He's a little firecracker!
 There's no doubt in my mind that you won't have a personal coach...
a personal trainer...
or a personal motivator.
7.  Maybe it's just his age, but it seems like there is nothing George won't try.  He's always up for a challenge, and we love the enthusiasm he brings to family life whether it be every-day chores on the farm, school field trips or creative projects that require everyone's best effort.  If you're looking for a partner in crime - George will be your man!
8.  This year, George officially started school with our family as a Kindergardner.  He has a learning style all his own.  And, while at times this has posed an "occasional" challenge for the teacher, ahem, I have garnered a great deal from him about the learning process.  I'm convinced that his creative ways of thinking will someday save our family from a major "caduation."  Maybe we should re-name him McGyver!
9.  "Mom, can I help you??"  As musical as "please," "thank you," and "I love you" are these words, spoken daily from the mouth of George.  What can warm a mother's heart more than a son who desires to join an overwhelmed mama in her daily tasks?  It's the stuff that keeps my lenses colored that lovely shade of rose.  Do you think diaper duty will inspire the same proposal??
10.  Finally, baby, there is one gift of George's that tops all gifts and that is his ability to help us all take life a little (well, really a lot) less seriously.  Much time can be wasted in worry, anxiety and stress. His zest for life and delight in the simplest things is a reminder that life is oh-so-full if we can live it through the heart of a child.  Dearest one, we cannot wait for you to meet your big brother, George!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

10 Things We Love About Henry

If we laugh a lot, when we get older our wrinkles will all be in the right places.

We are all in deep anticipation around here of the newest Husband Family member's arrival. Washing and folding freshly washed miniature clothing, buying tiny diapers for tiny buns, and unpacking boxes of necessary baby goodies and gadgets has peaked the boys' questions and interest in baby business.

Last week, while the boys' ate lunch, I scurried around the kitchen organizing, sanitizing and sorting, indulging the ever-present nesting phase of pregnancy.  Occasionally I took pause to answer their questions about what will happen when I go to the hospital.  It was then that I realized just how special this seemingly ordinary moment was.  Studying each of their beautiful faces, I wondered what it would be like to have another sweet soul sitting at the table with them, with us.  I couldn't help but delight in daydreams of the future - the greatness ahead of us - the gifts we have, and those that the boys will share with their new sibling.

The next few blogs will be a dedication to each one of the boys, the things we love about them, the things that make them unique and special, the gifts they bring to our family and will so wonderfully share with their new brother/sister.  What treasures!

1.  Henry luuuuves chap-stick.  You will be covered with the softest kisses, sweet one.  When he puckers his pampered pout, you will not be able to resist the kiss!!
2.  In Henry's mind, most colors should be renamed with farm equipment references.  To translate: Red =  Case, Green = John Deere, Blue = New Holland, Yellow = Caterpillar.  The only exceptions are orange is orange, purple is K-State, and pink is all things girl.
John Deere frosted face - Yum!
3.  Forget the Baby Mozart cd, Henry is our musical machine.  He sings when he plays, eats, works and camps out in the library (a.k.a. bathroom).  We enjoy his after dinner concerts which usually include the favorites from his repitoir - the theme from Davy Crocket or the Hallelujah Chorus.

4.  Henry loves his cowboy boots and wears them with everything, I mean everything. He is holding on to his very first baby pair just for you. They are well protected and in a safe place for your big day.
5.  I will go ahead and apologize right now if we should happen to find gum stuck in your blanket, your hair, your diaper....(He is literally asking me for gum as I write this).  We are currently having gum issues with Henry.  Lots of sneaking, chewing and spitting out in random places. I promise we will do our best to fix the fetish before you come home!

6.  You will be eating a lot and often for the first few months, and you will be in good company.  Henry is a professional snacker. Yogurt is his favorite.  Together you will be the Dairy Dudes.

7.  As you get older, keep an eye on Henry's handy skills.  Just sitting in your swing and observing him will be like "on the job training."  Henry is always first on the scene if there is something to be fixed around the house or in the shop.
Henry being "extra" helpful - making a place for daddy to hang his hats.
8.  Consider this an advance apology if you get sat on or rolled upon in any way during your little life.  Henry is very affectionate and cannot resist hugging tightly, sitting on laps, tackling and laying on top of anyone who is close by.  I cannot guarantee that you won't get smooshed at some point in your infant career.
9.  In addition to loving chewing gum, cowboy boots, tractors and tools, Henry loves Andrew.  They are like twins, identical in so many ways.  Their brotherly bond is tight, but I'm sure they'll let you squeeze in!
10.  The wonderful gift we all love most about Henry is his JOY.  His cheerful, loving and affectionate temperament paired with heaps of ornery makes him one irresistible son and a brother you will love!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


"When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, "What are days of auld lang syne, Pa?"
"They are the days of a long time ago, Laura," Pa said. "Go to sleep, now." But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa's fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods,… She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago."  
— Laura Ingalls Wilder

For as long as I can remember, I have loved the sound of the violin.  Played in Bluegrass or Beethoven, it is beautiful.  It has a way of expressing a range of emotions unlike any other instrument.  Having wished to have learned to play as a youngster myself, I've long dreamed that someday my husband and I would be able to provide an opportunity for our kids to learn if they wished.

That time and opportunity is here, and I am soooo HAPPY!!!!  The boys have a great teacher and are beginning instruction in the Suzuki method (learning to play by ear).  The joy it gives me to hear them practice and to just watch them hold the instrument is indescribable!  I know from experience the power that music has to stir the soul and elevate our entire being toward truth, goodness and beauty.  To realize that the boys may be able to have that experience now and for the rest of their lives is such a treasure!
They are picking up the notes so quickly.  Unlike the piano, I cannot help them practice.  This is difficult for me, because I love to teach, but it's good for me to just step back, give encouragement and praise and watch them flourish on their own.
I was a little distracted during the "recital" by the hairs sticking up on Ben's crown. I'll be sure to paste those down with kisses later.
I love the way just a few notes of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" makes them sway and tap their toes.

George is an enthusiastic teacher.  It will be your turn soon, my little Herny! 
For the past few years we have gone to the Irish Fest in Kansas City.  It is heaps of fun for our whole family.  Steve's family may have a pinch of Irish in their blood, but I cannot claim any contributions.  Our family's love of Irish traditions and heritage is completely adopted.  This is Ben pretending to Irish dance to the music of one of our favorite bands, Scythian.  "Dance at the Crossroads" album is the boys' favorite.  
And, these are Ben's socks after the pretending. Oh how my floors shine!