Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Home sweet home

In 1995 Mike and I purchased our first home, a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom 900 square foot mobile home. I could not wait for something of my own. At the time we thought we would spend a few years in our mobile and then build on our property. We never wanted to live beyond our means. I fixed up my home and in 2002 prepared a beautiful nursery for my first baby. Lilli entered the world and I was forever changed. She became everything to me and I knew I would sacrifice anything just to be with her. Mike was making only $9.00 per hour and we watched every penny. I was very thankful we had a home and took pride in what we had.

Later that year I asked Mike how he would feel if I had a daycare inside of our home. I figured if we built a bigger home I could stay home with Lilli. I had become very good at stretching money, however I knew there would be no way for us to make payments on a construction loan and our current home. We rented the mobile and we put everything we owned in Mike’s mother’s home. Mike and I purchased a 5th wheel for the three of us to live in. The summer felt unbearable and for Christmas we decorated a tree outside. Lilli would look out the window and say “pretty”. Bless her heart! She had no idea that living in a 5th wheel was not fun! I kept pressing forward and reassuring myself that this would be a small sacrifice.

Living in that situation made me face just how dysfunctional my marriage had become. Mike worked with the tides which meant he worked graveyard. Those that know us know that Mike and I are complete opposites. Mike still loved to go out and socialize and I did not want to leave Lilli for even a minute. I came to terms with my husband’s addictions during this time. I started seeing my living situation as never-ending. One year later I was still in a 5th wheel with no building permit and a husband who had just checked into rehab.

At this time I saw everything slip away. Lilli and I stayed at my mom’s house in Oregon while Mike spent a month and half in rehab. I did not know if my marriage was going to make it. I grieved over my marriage and the loss of my dreams. I had pictured myself in a beautiful home with a husband and 2 or 3 kids and everything seemed to be falling apart. After Mike got out of rehab I refused to live another day in the 5th wheel. Once again we moved back into the mobile.

I felt defeated about our living situation but at the same time felt lucky that my husband was healthy. Mike and I started to laugh again. We went to church on Sundays. I felt the disappointment fade. Lilli was turning 3 and we wanted to give her a bother or sister. I could not wait to do it right this time. Mike would be healthy this go around and we would be doing everything together. Since I do not have a menstrual cycle I cannot get pregnant without medication. I made an appointment with the fertility specialist. We started looking into the daycare and the house situation all over again. In that same month we got a building permit. I was back on course. I got bids from companies and everything started taking shape.

And then yep you guess it – QUINTS? Well the house and the daycare would no longer work since I would have too many kids to even be legal!

We had just started attending New Life Church in Silverdale. Mike was still very new to church but I think he really felt accepted there. Word got around quickly about my pregnancy and the decision I had made to not reduce any of my babies. I really needed comfort and reassurance and the church gave that to me. I was approached by a group of people eager to help. Mike and I met at a friend’s house and our new friends prayed for our family. I felt unbelievably touched and accepted. A few weeks later I got a phone call for another meeting. We sat at the table and discussed what it would take to continue our house plans. The church then set up an account for donations. The church and channel 4 tried to raise awareness about our situation. As time went by Mike and I made plans for our home while I lay in my hospital bed awaiting the babies’ arrival. As my delivery day moved closer I become concerned that things were not moving as quickly as we had planned. When Mike pressed for information as to when the house would begin everyone involved concluded that we should prepare to rent. We were told to find a place to rent and that the rent would be taken care of. I was overjoyed with that decision. Our mobile was 10 years old and need a lot of work. The house we chose was in downtown Poulsbo. It was a darling blue two story and it would be available just in time for the kids to come home. I pictured my family walking strolling downtown. I measured for curtains and all the necessary home items. The babies were born and Mike and I spent lots of time traveling back and forth from Seattle. I had a tough time recovering. I had not even walked in five months and my energy level was next to nothing. Our insurance company paid to put us up in an apartment on First Hill in Seattle. The apartment was so dirty, I hated to even put my head on the pillow. I kept thinking that soon we would be in our home in Poulsbo and everything would be clean and fresh. I got a call that Aniston would be coming within a few days. I panicked since our house was not ready to move into for another two weeks.. We made arrangements to live with my mother-in-law. Belle came home next and then Cami. Mike and I were exhausted. Our pastor came to see the babies and after the conversation we had a tough decision to make. He explained the church had collected $20,000 from all the media attention. If we rented for a year it would deplete the money for our home. I was disappointed and hurt. Mike and I once again misunderstood the situation. Mike and I took matters into our own hands decided the mobile home would be the place to live. Preemies require a special environment and we prepared the mobile for them. Mike ripped out the carpet and put a fresh coat of paint on the walls. During this time we were all alone. I called my good friend Julie Holberg and she offered her husband’s help. Trevor Holberg and Mike worked day and night until the mobile was ready. By this time all the babies were home and the volunteers were trickling in. I cannot believe we fit all the volunteers and our family in that house for a year!

Our house was still not making headway. It seemed like there were so many people involved but no decisions were being made. People began to drop out of the project. Mike was at the end of his rope. The media attention had died and so did the house. Finally my pastor came to me and said it was more than what the church could do. My heart sunk. The pastor felt that there had never been an offer to build the house but only to “help” build us a home. Once more Mike and I had apparently misunderstood.

It seemed that whenever people met us our saw us out in public they would say “Oh, you are the couple that New Life built the house for!” Our entire community believed we were living in a new house! I felt that the church had done many good things for us and I did not want to appear ungrateful. I would respond with “It is still in the works but taking longer than we anticipated.” I was not sure how to clear up the misconception and I am still not sure.

There are many things about the situation that sadden me. The biggest thing is I feel Mike’s relationship with God was hurt. I think he sees the work of God in our family but he just does not have the same faith in churches. I continue to pray for him to reconnect with the Christian community.

At the end of the first year the kids began to crawl and a few times they got tripped. Now it seemed to be more of a safety concern rather than just a matter of close quarters. My dad offered to let us move in his house. Once more Mike and I made the decision to move. This time we had tons of volunteers helping us. Thanks to them the move went smooth and the kids adjusted well. Summer came and went and the hard thing about living at my Dad’s was there is absolutely no yard. The back butts right up to the property line. We made the best of it and often loaded up the kids and took them to parks. Our loyal volunteers went through all the stress of trying to get our house of the ground with us. They put their heads together and created a plan to help us build our house. After a lot hard work – mostly paperwork – the quintuplet foundation was established the house was back in action. I made calendars of the kids and sold them wherever I could. We had bake sales and an auction. The foundation called local businesses for discounts and donations. These are the wonderful individuals who deserve the credit for our home being built. They sat in the cold selling things and collecting diapers. They felt all our growing pains and frustrations with our living situation. With everything they did we managed to raise $120,000 in donations. That was labor, money and materials. I want to let everyone out there know how humbled I am by their generosity and kindness. Your kindness and caring made our home affordable for Mike and me. We now have a $400,000 loan which is a lot but we will make it work. The house has come at a very heavy price. I received nasty letters from some people. One awful letter even suggested we give our babies to Brad and Angelina as they were looking for more children. I was criticized and chastised for accepting donations with some letter suggesting that Mike and I did not work for what we had. We have lost friends in this process and we are sorry for all the miss communication that took place. I have learned a ton about people as well. Everything comes with a price. I am just happy the house is finished and we can finally put a close on that part of our lives. God made everything happen in his time. The gift of learning and sharing came out of this experience. I praise God for providing friends, family and much determination.

Thank you to all the people who helped make our home a reality! The woman leading the project was Mary Davidson. Mary, words cannot even say how much you mean to my family and me. From the first day I met you, you have stood at our family’s side. Thank you, thank you for making our home possible. You pushed Mike and me when we wanted to give up. Through all the tears and education we made it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

My kids are out of control!!!!!

Oh boy are the kids out of control. Will I survive the terrible two’s? I think I have a way of making things look rosy. Our beautiful home is almost done. I should be really really happy but my kids have lost their mind. Mike hasn’t been home in I don’t know how many months. I honestly cannot remember the last time he spent even a half a day with us. Lilli is looking for every bit of attention she can (good or bad). The kids are fighting all the time. Scarlett scratched Cami across the face and left a huge gash. Belle bit Scarlett in the face this morning and left bite marks and a bruise. Weston screamed from 2:00am until he went down for his nap. And Aniston has a huge bite on the top of her hand from Belle. I know there are mothers out there right now reading this and thinking “thank god it is not just my child acting this way” I am sorry for not sharing with you all the crazy days as well as the good days. My kids are beautiful, smart and adorable but at times I feel I am loosing my mind. I am still questioning myself if I want to post this truth. I am tired and feel beat down. I want so badly to do things on my own. Thursday night I fed the kids and started a bath. And yes it was just me home. Everything was a mess the house the kids not to mention me. I put them in the tub and washed them one by one. I dried 2 off and ran them down stairs. From the time I walked down stairs and walked up again Scarlett, Belle and Aniston managed to dump all the water out of the tub onto the floor. I wiped the water up as quickly as I could and brought the 3 monsters down stairs to join there screaming brother and sister. Just them I realized water was coming out of all the lights on the ceiling. ( Dad if you are reading this your house is fine trust me) I ran up stairs to clean up the rest of the water and ran back down stairs. My 5 darlings had there mouths open like little birds drinking this disgusting water. These incidence happen daily. Please don’t send me any hate mail for writing this. And yes I do get mail saying you knew what you were doing when you took fertility to get pregnant. And that is usually the kindest sentence in the letter. I hope all the moms out there struggling every day to keep it together see they are not the alone. The truth is I love my kids so much it hurts. I expect way to much out of myself out of fear someone will think I am not perfect. Where is that fine line? When do you let your house work build up around you and your kids walk around with a dirty face. A part of me see’s that has failing and the other part says go with the flow. People always ask How do you do it? And I smile and say day by day. Maybe I should start thinking minute to minute and allow myself to fail once in awhile.
For all that life sends my way I am thankful everyday to have healthy children. There are people that have struggles way worse then mine. Thanks for listening.