Friday, July 28, 2006

The latest...

For my family who continues to check this blog...

1. We were at the ranch last weekend and had a great great that I left my camera in the little compartment on the front of the four- wheeler. Hence, still no pictures from the boys birthday...They are coming eventually (if my camera has not melted).

2. The boys and I just got back from downtown Ft. Worth where we went to see Andy and his office for the first time. His office is on the 8th floor overlooking Sundance square. Needless to say, I am impressed when someone's first job actually involves an office and a window. We are so very proud of him...Payton was a little disappointed...on they way home I was talking about how great it was and Payton said, "yes, but it does not have a pool or a train." Payton would of preferred Andy to get a job at 6-flags.

3. Sam graduated on Tuesday and is now officially back from his training and is once again with his family in the DC area. We are so proud of him as well. I believe his title is that of Special (something) for the Defense Department...He graduated at the top of his class. Way to go Sam! (and Emille, Bailey and Brylee!)

4. We continue to pray for the adoption process of precious Lael...Kelly and Randy will not be able to return to America until this happens. Please continue to lift this situation up in prayer...dealing with the government in Benin is difficult.

5. About a year ago Tony and I were feeling lost at our church. We loved it, just did not feel like we really fit anywhere. We had alot of great friends but were still feeling was one of those times in life when you start feeling restless in your spirit and realize the Lord is trying to do something new in your heart. We started praying about staying, praying about leaving, thinking of all the great places we could go and thinking about the great place we were...Completely orchestrated by the Lord we started meeting with a group of people we did not know well at all who had one common thread...we were all searching for the 3 C's...Community-Commitment-(above all) Christ.

This group has become more than a class to us (we started meeting as a class in Feb.), it has become a lifeline. We walk out of class each week talking about Great the Lord is...only He could bring a group of people from all different walks of life together and make it feel like family. It is a group of people eager to experience more of the Lord, ready to get out and share their faith, ready to love each other and ready to be Christ's hand extended to the world...I love being a part of the Body of Christ. His ability to bring unity from diversity is beautiful!

6. Payton asked the other day while I was putting him to bed for his nap if he needed to close his eyes this time. I told him Yes. He came out of his room about 5 minutes later and walked in and said, " I need you to understand something, when I close my eyes I can't see." I laughed and told him that was the point.

7. Benjamin is Eddie Haskell. He is a doll but he is up to something almost always. However, if he hears anyone coming or calling his name he quickly folds his hands behind his back and grins...if he is doing something he knows he should not be doing (like dumping syrup all over the floor) he will kick it up a notch and say, "wuv you mommy".

8. We are in a fun season of life. We love each other, our kids, and the Lord. I don't know if this makes sense but for awhile it felt as if we were constantly striving...for what, I am not really sure- it made for a hectic, fast-paced life where at the end of the day we would look around and feel as if we had accomplished nothing... there is now a deep peace in our home that we both feel and we recognize it for what it is- contentment with the Lord and the life He has given.

9. Today my car is in the shop...when we walked out into the garage today and the boys saw we were going in Tony's truck both of them started clapping. Benjamin saying, "Back tuck! Back tuck! (translated, Black truck! Black truck!) after I got them both buckled in Payton said, "Someday when I am big and you are little I will drive this truck and I will be cool, just like dad."

10. The book "Sacred Parenting" is one of the best books I have ever read. It is a life changer that talks of how the Lord seeks to mold you through your children. Tony and I were both challenged by this quote:

" What the majority of us spend the the bulk of our time worrying baout-our 9-5 job, what houses we live in, how we're going to spend the weekend, how physically fit we look, what vehicle we drive--ultimately amounts to nothing adn gets completley forgoteen. what we often ignore in our pursuit of the above--that is our children, and our families--are the only things we truly leave behind....

When I embrace my historical insignificance , I am set free to concentrate on very real--and eternal--relational significance. I matter to my wife. I am very important to my children. I have secure standing as an adopted child of the Most High God. (I matter to advancing His Kingdom) These are the relationships on which I want to focus my life. This is where I want to spend my energy."

If you actually made it to the end of this, I am impressed...I am figuring by now I am writing to an audience of mom, who has felt obligated to read every word I have written through out my entire existence...Thank you mom- I knew I could count on you!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Payton's Birth!

At the time of Payton's birth we were not skilled in birthing room pictures or our new digital camera...all we took have a little too much exposure for web viewing...The rest were taken with a non-digital camera...Feel free to drop by where you will be shown his creative memory scrapbook still beautiful in its box and then shoebox after shoebox of pictures taken in the first days of his life!

Payton was due on July 4th. With the exception of our wedding date, we have never anticipated a day so much in our life...(and actually we anticipated Payton's birth much longer than we anticipated our wedding, we met and married in 7 months, we waited for Payton for 9) When July 4th came and went I felt like a huge part of me deflated...except for the fact that I was still massive. We began every other day sonograms to make sure the placenta was viable and the amniotic fluid level was still good. The song that was very popular that summer was a song whose tune stuck in my head...I don't remember a word of the song except for the chorus..."You know I'd walk a thousand miles if I could just see you, if I could just hold you, tonight...." I remember singing that to Payton over and over again as I would drive down the road...and thinking I really would...we wanted nothing more than to see our boy. After 2 trips to labor and delivery because my dr. felt on the 1st one- Payton's heart was doing weird things and 2nd- he was not moving as much as he should...only to be sent home each time I was beside in seriously, I need to get a hold of myself- beside myself. My blood pressure was up so the Dr. asked me to quit excercising and take all salt out of my diet...I did and came back the next week...She told me her concerns about inducing...I listened and then begged for that option. (I look back now and think why was I so anxious...) She said not yet. Give it another week. I was dialated to nothing and was not at all effaced.

They decided to admit me to the hospital on Sunday night, July 14th at 5. Tony and I ate at Cracker Barrel on the way. The manager came by to ask how our dinner was and Tony said great, "this is where we wanted to eat on our last meal before we became parents, is there a special discount for that?" Uhhhh-no...

We got to the hospital, got my cervidil, Sam and Emille brought Subway- I was not supposed to eat again after 6 (hence my 2 huge meals within an hour of each other) and then we hung out. The hospital said there was a good chance my body would start its labor on its I waited...Tony went sound asleep on the couch bed and finally around 3 AM I went down to the lobby where my mom and Emille were waiting and told them to go on home, I bet nothing happened until tomorrow. They did and I literally sat in my bed watching the clock, praying, trying to sleep and wondering if I would ever have this baby. They checked me in the morning and the cervidel had done nothing.

My doctor said with my blood pressure up, projections on the size of Payton's head up and the fact that Tony had just explained if she sent us home we would just go wait in our car until I went into labor... she thought she would see if she could break my water. She did and they started pitosin at 7Am. I had decided, with Tony's support, to have Payton naturally. The thing I vividly remember was that I did not have any building block contractions....they were hard and fast immediately. By noon I was whipped from not having slept and not having eaten, by 2 I was exhausted...Tony, Emille and my mom where there being so encouraging the whole time...They had been checking me all morning with little result...I remember at 2:15 the nurse saying, "she is still not dialated to even a finger tip." I was crushed. The nurse explained that because my contactions were literally off the charts my body was having a hard time catching up, it was not able to relax and perhaps I needed a pain pill to take some of the edge off, my dr. came and said she highly recommended that...I said I was not sure, Tony said he was...and in the sweetest moment came over and said your exhausted, hungry and beat...let's do this and meet our son. I took the pill and went to sleep.

I was in and out of the deepest sleep the rest of the day. I remember waking up and seeing the clock read 6:45 PM and then feeling a contraction and realizing I still had not had my baby. At 8:45 they said I was ready to push. Tony later told me they had given me my epidural at 7:00 but I slept through it. I pushed on every contraction, or at least I thought I was pushing...obviously my epidural was a little strong...Tony said I was sleeping in between every contraction, (now that I have had Benjamin it is hard to imagine that is possible but I do remember him waking me up to push)...Finally after 5 minutes they decided to try to the vacuum...the first time the suction broke on Payton 's head and the dr. literally flew across the room...she then siad, we are trying this one more time, assemble the c-section team...My mom and Emille were waiting right outside the door when 5 more nurses pushed through...this time the vacuum held and out came the the most amazing baby. He screamed so loudly and then stopped suddenly and looked right at Tony and I. It was the most incredible moment. Payton James Brooks entered the world at 9PM, July 15th, 2002 weighing 7lbs, 9 ounces, 19" long.

During the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy with Payton my mom would often be the one that took me downtown for my sonograms. I remember one day in particular driving home with her and crying the whole way about how badly I wanted Pate to be born. My mom was agreeing with me and said, "I know you are ready but there is something so special about having your baby inside of you. It is wonderful when they are out, the absolute greatest joy...but there will be a part of you that misses and aches for them the rest of your life." I remember crying then, but I understand that on a different level now. There is a vulnerability to having your children exposed that brings about the greatest joy and the deepest of aches. I would not miss it for the world. The last 4 years Tony and I have laughed more, cried more, praised the Lord more, sought Him more and because He has brought us to place of realizing our children are ultimately His, we have trusted Him more. Today is a day we mark with great zeal because it is Payton's birthday, but we mark it for another reason as well. 4 years ago we became parents, when our hearts became exposed to the world in the form of our first child. What an incredible gift from the Lord!

Unofficial Birthday Post

Today is Payton's birthday...He could not goto sleep last night he was so excited...

This morning at 6AM he came in and put his hands on my face (I was sound asleep) and said, "Mom, am I really four?" I told him he was and the grin on his face was priceless. His next announcement was, "let's go tell Benjamin..." In an effort to give Benjamin a few more hours of sleep I told Payton I would take him to get a donut...Once in the car he asked if we could go to Starbucks instead. This was the first time he had been in one (We are drive thru fans).

He loved sitting on the couch to eat...(that does not happen at our house, the boys have to remind me of that often). As we were sitting there eating our Reduced fat chocolate Bannana cake (his favorite) he said, "Mom we have not talked to God today." I told him he was right. He said, "we need to tell him thanks for this Starbucks and especially for letting me be four. I think this is going to be the best day ever." I asked him to pray and he pretty much repeated everythig he had just said to the Lord. My heart was full.

I vividly remember bringing Payton home from the hospital and crying in the back seat, sitting next to his bucket, and wondering how in the world we were actually supposed to know how to raise a child. The responsibility seemed so huge and still does...In moments like the one we had this morning, my heart is filled with the purest joy and delight- I am so thankful to the Lord for placing Payton in our home, for giving us the awesome responsibility of raising him, and for letting him be four...I think this is going to be the best day ever!

***We are having the combined birthday at 10...lots of stories and pics to follow!***

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Benjamin's Birth!

Benjamin turned 2 on Monday. Our dog chose to celebrate by digging out and getting thrown in the pokie, so the time I usually would of spent writing about our sweet boy was spent negotiating her release...

On July 9, 2004 I woke up and called my mom and sister in Africa and told them I thought I was beginning labor...They were coming home the 15th (Payton's birthday and Benjamins due date) and both said they hoped I was not. I knew I wanted them there but I was also so excited to see who this baby was....we had not found out if this baby was a girl or boy and we were anxious.

Later on we took Payton to a friends house and headed to the hospital where they told me...I was not in labor. I was stunned...Tony was too- we did not have maternity coverage so before we left we had to write out a 500$ check...Ouch.

On the way to get Payton we stopped to get lunch at Cracker Barrel (you will soon notice this is a running theme in our birth stories) and I told Tony over lunch.."I am having some hard contractions..." I believe he said something really romantic like, " I will be able to see the head before we go back up there...." I continued to have hard contractions throughout the day but nothing regular so we swam with Payton and just enjoyed our day together. I went to bed early while Tony stayed up to watch a movie...around 11:30 I came in told Tony I knew I was in labor. We decided I would start timing the contractions and then we realized we had no idea how far apart they were supposed to be (I was induced with Payton.) Our computer was down so we called our friends Danny and Jody Allison-(Its midnight by now) apologized for waking them up -(Danny said , "No big deal, Jody just walked in from Wal-mart.") Jody googled contractions and we realized mine were coming regularly every 3 minutes...Jody drove over to keep Payton while we paced, breathed and tried to find my dad. (He had left his phone downstairs at the ranch and was sound asleep.) I called Sam and Emille and woke them bawling about how I could not find my dad...let's say that was pregnancy hormones. Sam was so encouraging and said he would take over calling my dad. Meanwhile we are on the way to the hospital...I am actually using my lamaze and cool as a cucumber Tony was actually starting to sweat.

On the way to the hospital Tony said, "We still do not have a boy name..." I said, " I know its a girl , we don't need one...if its a boy we will just see who he looks like." We both wanted another boy so badly knowing Payton would have a brother so close in age that we had decided not to find out on our sonogram...We knew we would be absolutly thrilled with a girl...we just thought we would do better finding out on the spot when she was actually in arms. We got to the hospital at 1:30 and I was dialated to a 7 and 1/2 ...The nurse said, "looks like you are going to have this one naturally." I said, "Actually I saw on TV the other day there are drugs to slow a labor down, I will have one of those and then get my epidural. (For all my natural friends that do not know, I had tried to have Payton naturally, the result was not pretty and I knew I coudl not do that again with a 2 year old at home.)

They were able to slow my labor down, I got an epidural and began pushing at 6:30. After about 15 minutes the Dr. said, "Ok- on your next push you will have your baby...ok GO" and Tony's cell phone rang and he answered it...The Dr. said, "Ok lets wait till dad is off the phone." I beleive my word were, "Babe, are you serious?" Too which he responded, "Its your dad, you have been crying all night wanting to talk to him..." We both burst out laughing then as I explained I was now focused on something else. (My dad had awoken to find he had 68 missed calls, had figured out what was going on, and was headed back to the Metroplex. ) I started pushing again, heard a cry and heard "ITS A BOY!" We were thrilled, beside ourselves, overwhelmed with love, shocked and speechless.

Tony cut the cord (this was a story that is vivid in my mind but must be told in person.) and then said, "what's his name? he does not look like anybody." We pondered names for awhile and then decided that Deuteronomy 33:12 was a verse we loved and wanted to claim at birth for our son.

" About Benjamin he said: " Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, For HE shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders."

I love it even more in The Message, "Benjamin is, God's beloved, God's permanent residence. He is encircled by God all day long, within him God is at home."

That continues to be our prayer for our precious son. He is Benjamin Jeffrey Brooks Born at 6:47 AM on July 10th, 2004, 20 inches long and 8lbs, 9 ounces. He is ours, He is the Lords.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

My Roommates

We had the absolute best weekend. There is nothing like being with friends who know you inside and out, who know what it is like to live with you on a daily basis, who know things you are proud of and things you would rather forget (and sometimes they even let you)...there really is no friend like a college roommate.

As I drove home on Sunday I thought of countless blessings that come from a weekend like the one I just had....

1. I called Tony on the way home...he and the boys had had an amazing weekend at the ranch. Tony, my dad, and my brother spent the weekend taking care of our boys. I knew Payton and Benjamin were truly experiencing life with the guys when I called on Friday night at 11:30 to see how things had gone and Tony said, "I am going to have to call you back, I am in the middle of making the boys dinner..." What?! They had the best time. My dad blessed me by saying "Tony is the absolute best dad, it brought me alot of joy to watch him parent the boys."

2.I called my mom and dad and once again thanked them for ACU... loved it while I was there, love the fruit of friendship that still grows as result of my time there.

3. I am so blessed to have friends with which we can be laughing over something so ridiculous and in the next minute someone has their Bible out sharing a truth they have just taken hold of.

4. I am realizing what a gift it is to have friends who don't just support me in my marriage, they love my husband. All through out the weekend I was reminded of each of us standing as bridesmaids at each every wedding we felt confident our friend was making the best choice but now, years later- to see that affirmed by stories told and actions seen makes me love the Lord that much more. As I reflected on the weekend I realized no one ever shared a negative story about their husband...So many were told of walking through tough times and seeing the strength of the men we married...We prayed together often for these men long before we even knew them...This weekend we rejoiced together that the Lord brought Tony, Richard, Mark, Mike and Koy as the answer to those prayers.

5. We spent many a night in college staying up talking and snacking on Rice Crispie cereal...we have definitely matured...we stayed up late on Friday with an actual "fountain of chocolate" dipping everything in it we could think of.

6. We have learned a weekend is too short to spend it acting like someone we are not. I love these weekends because I am always reminded of who I am without all the layers. We laugh together a lot...but there are always challenges of really? why do you feel that way? explain that? I love the realness that emerges.

7. It is great to realize that though life is changing us...the core of who you are and your God-given gifts remain the same...

I started trying to list off every roommate and all of their gifts, but I can share that with each of them rather than the world (or the 2 people that will actually read this). The point is this...I remember on a trip to Africa when I was a child I got lost at a marketplace. I was not gone long enough for anyone in my family to even know I was gone but being in a foreign land, with a foreign language being spoken and feeling seperated was terrifying. I remember the feeling of immediate peace when I saw my dad's head (He is 6'7) across the way. My dad was there I was safe.

My senior year in college my grandmother died...I was sad, exhausted, and altogether worn out from the day of visitation, funeral and everything that goes with it. I remember feeling lost in it all as I got out of the car for the burial. I vividly remember looking up and seeing my roommates - they had all driven to Weatherford to support me. The feeling of peace was immediate, the feeling of being secure in a friendship brought tears of thankfulness.

Each year when we come together each of us has experienced joys and pain, trials and victories...easy to get lost in it all...and yet the security of old friends brings a peace and a joy that is truly a gift from God. As I drove home on Sunday I wiped away those same tears of thankfulness. It was a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The latest on Payton

Just a few quick notes from the life of our Payton...I will not go into every last detail of his life as that is coming next week...Monday- Benjamin turns two...Saturday-Payton turns four. Hold onto your seats for the upcoming birthday posts.

We are practicing blowing out candles at every turn. I have become a master this week at sticking 4 candles in one chicken nugget. The boys want Happy Birthday sung at every meal "Just to practice"- NO problem- we are happy to do it!

Payton and Benjamin and I were eating at Chick-fil-a when Payton said, "Mom- you want to hear a secret...lean in close." I leaned in and he said, "You might just be the cutest thing in here." I laughed and said, "thank you" and he said, "Mom- I am serious."

Later as we were driving home they were playing with their new toys. Benjamin somehow managed (they are on opposite sides of the SUV) to get one of Payton's action figures and an argument broke out...Basically an argument consists of Payton asking Benjamin for something back and Benjamin screaming NO in a bloodcurdling scream over and over again. I told them that that was enough, we were nearly home and I would work things out, but until then, no talking until we get there...about 2 minutes later Payton said, "Excuse me Mom, Is it ok if I unbuckle myself and hit Benjamin?" at least he is polite even in violence...

Today Payton asked if he could watch Playhouse Disney- I told him No...he said, "Mom, trust me, its fun and educational."

Today Payton said he had a surprise for me in closet...I needed to walk into Benjamin's room and sit down. As I walked in he said, "Ladies and gentlemen, Boys and Girls...I present to you, Your president, (He opens the door and Benjamin walks out of the closet) President Orange Bush." We're still working on that.

I leave tomorrow for our 10th (is that possible?) annual college roommate weekend! So excited! This is the first one in 4 years that someone has not brought a baby. BJ is due with their second (a boy) at the first of November. Mike is keeping the Stegemoller 3...Koy is keeping Reese...Richard is keeping Josh and the twins and Tony is going to be having a guys weekend with our boys...Payton loves explaining to me that that means I cannot come.

I will post some pictures when I return on Sunday!