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Part 3: Family

When Jennie was here, I took her and the boys to the mall for black friday. It was a zoo, as you might expect. As we were making our way through the parking lot (after parking in the back 40, after driving around for one solid millennium), we passed a very pregnant woman. She was stepping off a curb, and reached out for the arm of the man accompanying her, because she clearly had no idea where her feet were.

Jennie and I watched her pass in silence, then I leaned over and murmured to her, "Aren't you glad you're not pregnant?" She nodded, and we walked on.

For the first time since I was...probably SEVEN, I genuinely was happy not to be pregnant. Not just because it's a drag to be so unacquainted with your feet, but because since Sophia was born, I have felt content. I could hold babies without feeling the slightest stirrings of "ooooohhh, but just ONE MORE baby?" It was such a relief, because I was convinced that I was going to end up 95 years old, in a nursing home, still pining for just. one. more. baby.

But with Sophia's arrival, I could look at my unruly gang of offspring, and feel...content. It was like waking up from a long mental illness, I swear.

People have asked, occasionally, if we plan on having any more. Mostly they ask with a cringing sort of curiosity, like they're thinking, how crazy is this ride going to get? And I would laugh and assure them, No, we're good. Life is pretty full, after all.

La la la...can we see where this is going?

As it turns out, that day when I made that comment to Jennie, I already was pregnant. As in, I AM pregnant. Due - get this - in July, the week my firstborn turns 17! That never fails to crack me up. 17! And a newborn! This ride is getting VERY CRAZY, thanks!

I am sick as a dog, and three (count them, one, two, three) people have felt it necessary to remind me of Michelle Duggar's miscarriage (the thinking being, I suppose, something along the lines of "Oh, she is almost EXACTLY like Mrs. Duggar, old and with a ridiculous amount of children, so I am certain she will appreciate the heads up." So if I DO lose this baby, my first thought will be "OH THANK GOODNESS THEY WARNED ME!"). Everyone was GOING to have their own room in the new house, but now Sophia and the baby will share, and I keep having these moments where I realize I am going to have to navigate another task that I thought I was done with forever - like finding a diaper bag I don't hate. I am going to be 41 when this baby is born, God willing, and the whole thing is terribly messy and crazy.

And I am delighted. Clay is delighted. The boys are delighted - although hoping for either a boy or a girl with fewer words. Sophia is...puzzled.

Despite all the upending of our plans, and the sickness and my advanced maternal age, I find myself very happy and hopeful. I may not have yearned for this baby, but now that s/he's here, I'm grateful for every day we get together.

It turns out we did need just. one. more.

Part 2: Home

My house, my home. It's precious to me, and not just because you could fit it in a decent sized snow globe. It's my home, the home that Clay and I brought back to life and formed with our own hands (by which I mean Clay did all the actual work and decision making, while I watched him admiringly). (That's not ENTIRELY true, because I know I did wield a sawzall on our actual honeymoon, so I must have done something constructive at some point, but it's still....erm...85% true.)

When we moved in here, the three boys shared the only other room in the house, right across the hall from the "master" bedroom. All three of them, lined up like so many sardines, if sardines slept in sleeping bags and kept each other in hysterics with fart jokes. When Jennie came for the summer, Clay worked in overdrive to get one of the rooms in the basement done so she could have her own space. We all fit. It didn't even seem to be that tight of a fit, although that may partially be because we were so dazzled with us, being home, together.

But as Clay says, the house fits the kids just fine. It's the TEENAGERS we didn't bargain for. They are so large. And bouncy. And the come with many, many accessories. Plus we added a wee girl in there somewhere along the line. We are at full capacity. Maybe a bit beyond. But it's our HOUSE. Our HOME.

And besides, the housing market here? It's ugly. There have been so many foreclosures that the kids have gotten used to the sight of someone's belongings tossed on the front lawn. We would be lucky to sell this house for what we bought it for, never mind the 40K we put in it. *sigh* No way could we afford to move to a larger home. I might as well go ahead and adore my tiny precious home, because we are STUCK HERE.

A few months ago, we finally replaced the kitchen light fixture that has bothered Clay since the day he moved in. It was just a light/fan combo that didn't do all that great a job of lighting, and it was bad and wrong. After years of fussing about it, we finally went to the home improvement store and bought a new fixture. The one I wanted was on sale! And I loved it!

A few days later, Clay had it installed and the ceiling repaired (because nothing is simple). When I stood back to admire it, I thought, oh, it's perfect. Just perfect. And almost as if in response, I heard the thought in my head, we're going to move now.

Of course, that didn't make any sense, because housing market plus pay freeze at Clay's work plus my persistance in not making money plus not winning the lottery. No way.

There was one niggling thought, the idea we had tossed around with my parents about us buying a property together. But it would have to be just the right property, with separate housing for both our families. And affordable. And...*sigh*...apparently magic. Because there just isn't a property like that. We've looked.

And then, one day, Clay was driving along, and this may sound odd, but he was praying about the house. He's not one to complain, but I really think the crowded conditions here have started to wear on him. And basically he asked God if there was an answer, if there was a house for us. And he turned his head and saw a sign.

Not a shaft of light or a burning bush or anything, but a literal sign. A "For Sale" sign, to be exact. On a house newly in foreclosure. We dragged our Realtor out there, and I swear, when we crossed the threshold it felt like home.

Home that needs a lot of work, but still.

It's big, with room for everyone, and there is a separate and spacious mother-in-law apartment that will work for Mom and Dad, and it's on nearly three acres and it's...well, it's home.

We're closing on it (God willing) the end of this month. Still not sure how we're going to deal with this house, but for the first time in a long time, we feel like we have options, and aren't just pawns of the economy. Just thinking about it makes it easier to breathe.

Kira Knows Best. Not.

You know what I'm just not going to do? Win the lottery. Yeah, I'm just not interested in having any more money. Not my thing. Also not interested in? Effortless weight loss. And perfect health for everyone in my family? Naw. Don't need it.

Why? Well, it may sound a little like I'm trying to manipulate the universe, but I think it's worth a try, because recently, in three rather profound ways, I've been handed an opportunity to eat my words. Yum. I thought I'd share these experiences here. And so, starting today, I present to you:

Kira Eats Her Words: A Drama in Three Parts.

Part 1 - Church

I've mentioned my church home here before. It's where I met Clay! A loving little Anglican community that wrapped itself around Clay and I and our kids, it was just simply home for the longest time.

Except wasn't. I can't exactly describe it, but week after week I came away from church all tied up in knots about something that was said or done. Let me emphasize here that I have no animosity for the people there. But over the last five years, many of my dearest friends have converted to either the Orthodox or the Roman Catholic Church. And as I've listened to their new understanding of ancient knowledge, the answers that had sustained me all my life started to ring...hollow.

But there didn't seem to be any answer for us. The Orthodox church was too far a leap, culturally. And I was simply not going to be Catholic. I wasn't interested in having my first marriage annulled, and just the suggestion made be bristle a bit. Where do they get off, exactly, judging the trainwreck of my first marriage, anyhow? Did any of those priests in charge drag themselves from that wreckage? Besides, Clay grew up in the Catholic Church, and wasn't interested in returning.

Remember that part where I stated - emphatically - that I was not going to be Catholic.

So there we were. I was increasingly drawn to a more orthodox expression of the faith, but there didn't seem to be any place for us. We were very connected to the people at our church, and to cap it all off, Clay didn't see any need to go anywhere else. So picture this: week after week, we leave church. I am fussing about something that rubbed me wrong, or even worse, biting down hard not to say anything. Clay is gripping the steering wheel, wishing I would just let it go, already. The boys are squabbling, because that's what they do. It was lovely and sustaining, is what it was.

However many times we talked about it though, or fought about it, we always came back to the same conclusion: there was simply nowhere else to go. We were already Anglican, and weren't going to move further along the non-denominational end of the spectrum. There wasn't anywhere else to go.

I don't even want to think about how long this went on, but once I shared my frustration with a friend, who shook her head and said, "Oh, but that's divine dissatisfaction, and it's not going to let you go."

I wanted to believe that she was wrong, that I could some how discipline my will and just get over it, already. But I couldn't get over it, and I kept yearning for...I wasn't even sure what.

All along, the same dissatisfaction was building in Clay, although I didn't realize how much, because he is not a whiner (unlike my own whiny self). One day I prayed, all alone in my van, for God to show us where we were supposed to be. I gave up thinking I knew where that was (or at least where that wasn't), and just asked for an answer.

The next day Clay asked me to look into the Catholic Church. To speak to a priest and ask the questions I needed answers to, and to figure out once and for all if I could go there.

And so I did.

In September we started the process of joining the Catholic Church (or returning, for Clay). I think I've held off writing about it because I was waiting to find just the right words. Somehow I was going to tie it all up in a 600 word post that would perfectly explain our choice and fend off any more hurt feelings (we have not had universal acceptance amongst our Protestant friends, and that's just all I'm going to say about that). Whenever I try, though, I am immediately overwhelmed. How to explain a whole 2,000 year old church?

Once, during one of the RCIA classes I'm currently taking, a priest, Fr. Gregg, was telling us about the Mass. And every so often he would stop, grip the sides of his podium, and mutter, "It's just so big...and deep..."

It's hard to put into words.

I will just say this: The Catholic Church is bigger on the inside than the outside. And as it turns out, there was a place for us. Our family is home.

The Weekend of Cousins

This past weekend Sophia and I went to Phoenix. We were just going to be there one night, two days, so I thought it was stupid to check a bag. This is how I ended up trudging through the Denver airport with two bags slung over one shoulder, a car seat over the other, and a toddler princess in tow. I felt like a pioneer woman, forging her way across the prairie.

You know, if pioneer women were given to ill-concieved schemes like carrying everything in the world plus a car seat throught the airport.

But it was all worth it, because I got to spend the weekend with my brother, Josh, and his lovely wife, Terri, and their two boys, Julian and Isaac. Would you believe this is the first time I've met Isaac in person? One of the reasons I don't want to give up my rapidly deteriorating phone is that it has pictures of him on the day he was born, tiny and red and perfect.

Well, now he is a gorgeous, hearty near two-year-old, with a grin that promises mischievousness. And Julian is a tall, bright-eyed four-year-old with many ideas. I realized later that the last time I did this, I spent a whole weekend just hanging out with my brother's family, was back when Julian was a newborn.

It was high time for me to find my way back, and even better, for our little people to spend some time together. The boys go visit semi-regularly with my parents, but for Sophia to go play with her cousins is a different sort of thing.


They played so, so well together, and I was delighted to wallow in the presence of my brother's kids, and to enjoy all the cousinly bonding.


At one point Josh put his hand on my shoulder and said to Julian, "Do you know who this is? This is my baby sister."

It didn't mean that much to Julian, but it warmed me right through.


Because he is, and always will be, my big brother. And it's a privilege to watch that relationship grow along a whole new generation.