Tag Archives: family

#thankful

Today is Thanksgiving.  A day to remember what and, more importantly, who we’re thankful for.  A day to watch Santa welcome in Christmas alongside giant balloons and Broadway dancers in New York city. A day to gorge ourselves into a turkey-induced sleep coma.  All of which I will take part in.

One thing I love about Thanksgiving is how my kids have started to make their own memories. Audrey loves to wake up early and watch the parade with me.  She never eats breakfast because she wants to have that much more room in her belly for turkey and mashed potatoes.  Austen will sleep in, but will be 100% focused on family and potatoes once he is awake.  Autumn has already placed her hot chocolate order so she can sip along with me on the couch before everyone else is up.

My kids have great relationships and friendships with each other.  Of course they have their moments where they fight, disagree, argue.  In fact, sometimes it feels like that’s the norm.  It’s not, but when they’re all at each other, because they out number us parents 2 to 1, it’s a lot.  But at the end of the day they love each other and know how to show it.  In fact, they have started telling each other “I love you.”

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, I NEVER said that to my siblings.  Of course I loved them.  I still do.  But the fighting between me and my younger sister was more present than it wasn’t.  I remember my mom sometimes crying over us because we fought so much.  I never would’ve imagined how my relationship with my sister would turn out as it has.

Michelle, my two-year younger sister, is now one of my best friends.  She loves my kids the way I love my kids.  She supports me, loves me, and is always available if I need her.  Michelle has a lot going on in her own life.  She is a single mom of two kids and works in the legal department for one of the countries largest companies.  She is strong, courageous, brave, and someone I would put on a pedestal.  Yes, my sister IS better than your sister.

Me, my mom, and my sister during our annual trip to Leavenworth in 2006

Me, my mom, and my sister during our annual trip to Leavenworth in 2006

But what I love most about my sister is that she is my sister.  We will always have each other and for that I am thankful.  We’ve gone through a lot together in the last few years, but we have a stronger relationship, friendship, than I could have ever dreamed.  Michelle, I want you to know just how much I love you and how much I cherish our friendship.  This year at Thanksgiving I am thankful for you!

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You can always depend on the kindness of strangers.

We’ve all heard this expression over and over. But is it really true? Can strangers be more kind than expected? And what makes people want to help each other? I’ve had many first-hand experiences witnessing this very statement. I’ve had people pull off on the side of the freeway to help me change a flat tire. I’ve had people let me cut in line at the grocery store. I even had someone give me a diaper from one of their kids because I was out and didn’t have any to change my own child. Of course, that one benefited them, too. But I have the ultimate story of strangers going out of their way to help me when I needed it most.

Last October, all 6 of us Montagues and our friends with a family of 4, ventured on a road trip together to Disneyland. This is not a rarity in our family, but having more kids than most people, we do draw a bit more attention and are a lot rowdier than most. Especially as they grow older and bigger, we are even more of a spectacle than we used to be. Our younger kids think they are as old as our older kids, and our older kids think they are as old as us, so many discussions and differences come into play when we are in an environment where opinions run rampant. Which brings me to my point.

My youngest son and child, August, decided that he’d had enough of waiting around for us to figure out what we as a group were going to do next and ventured out on his own. Now, since he is the baby of the family, he does get overlooked sometimes. OK, a lot of the time. But being the independent 3-year-old that he is, he took matters into his own hands and wandered off by himself to pursue his own fun. And being that he is the overlooked baby of the family, it took us a while before we finally realized that he wasn’t with us. About 5 minutes, to be exact, until we noticed that he was gone. My baby had disappeared.

So many thoughts ran through my mind. I was certain that someone had picked him up and walked off with him. I just wanted to yell for everyone to stop what they were doing and find my baby. I had visions of being a Monday night movie of the week where one minute your child is playing and your whole world is bliss then goes crumbling to pieces the next. Everything felt like it was moving in slow-motion and my voice felt silent.

My husband ran around frantically, looking in lines, in restrooms (including the women’s, but that’s a different story), in restaurants and my Gus was no where. After about 5 minutes of my world coming to an end, I got the brilliant idea to ask security for help. Looking back, I’m not sure why that wasn’t my first reaction, but until this moment, even though I had come close many times, I had never actually lost a child.

The security guard asked a series of questions. What color is his hair? Blonde. Eyes? Glasses. How old is he? 3. What’s he wearing? A shirt that says “My Mom Rocks.” Yeah, sure I do. But as much as security helped, and they definitely helped more than I can put into words, I was more than surprised at the many people who came up to me in my panic and asked how they could help.

People I had never seen in my life. A woman in a wheel chair. A mom with her kids. I experienced true kindness like I never had before. And I’m not sure that I ever will again. Even as we were being ushered by security to where August had been found, people along the way were pointing to where he was. Encouraging us. Even applauding as I scooped him up and held on to him for dear life. True and real kindness. Kindness that I will probably never again experience in my life.

The Happiest Place on Earth remained, that day, the happiest. I wish I could personally thank each person that helped to locate my son. Because I’m so thankful. Kindness of strangers does exist. In all capacities. In all locations.

On a side note, after we found August and asked why he wandered away, his response was “I didn’t. I was going on the ride.” He knew exactly where he was the whole time. If that’s not the attitude of a fourth child, I don’t know what is.

Proscratination is not in my vocabulary.

OK, that’s not entirely true. Maybe I am a bit of a procrastinator.  I still wait until the last-minute to get most things done. But I’m way better than I used to be.  I’ve found that working outside my home gives me more of a desire to get things done around my home when I am home.

The definition of procrastination is putting off or delaying or deferring an action to a later time.

Having 4 kids and a very busy husband, often I would feel so overwhelmed with things that I needed to get done, that I would either wait until it was necessary or not do it at all.  Now that I have a job, I don’t have the luxury of waiting.  If I have the time, I do it.

It’s amazing to me how much “stuff” I can get done when I’m at home now.  My days “off” are more limited.  I have a certain amount of hours in the week and I have to cram as much into those hours as I can.  But the best part is, I don’t feel like I’m cramming anything.  I’m simply making the best use of my time.

Here’s a perfect example:  Today is my one day this week where I don’t have anything scheduled.  So I made the most of it. I actually made breakfast for my kids. Did a load of laundry before they left for school.  Husked and canned 6 stalks (now cans) of corn.  Baked and bagged 2 dozen cookies for school lunches.  Blogged.  And it’s not even noon yet.  I have the whole day ahead of me to clean, work out, prep for dinner, do more laundry, or just veg with a cup of coffee while Gus is napping.  Oops,  that’s the procrastinator in me.

What I’m trying to say is, how much can you get done in a short amount of time?  For procrastinators like me, it’s probably more than you think.  So go ahead, set the timer, and go.  Let’s leave the procrastinating to later tonight when we can relax with a glass of wine knowing we filled our day with good stuff for ourselves and our family!

A Battle for Life.

My baby boy turns 3 years old today.  After having 3 older siblings, you’d think the 4th would be a no-brainer, easy breezy.  But our little August, who we lovingly refer to as Gus, had a difficult time entering this world.  My husband wrote this blog post two days after Gus’ arrival.  It still brings me to tears.  I hope you enjoy it, maybe cry with me, and realize the huge love I have for my little Gussy!

A Battle for Life.

By Duane Montague

It has been a whirlwind weekend. What was supposed to be an easy delivery turned into a night of fear and worry and a battle between life and death. Sounds melodramatic, but it’s not, because life is what we are always fighting for against the Evil One. He hates life and will do anything he can to snuff it out.

Some may call it just a delivery with complications, but I will truly forever remember the birth of my son August as a day when God confirmed for me that my children are a gift of life, precious beyond words, and each to be cherished and protected against the powers of the enemy.

We went in at 1:00 pm on Thursday, September 11, to be induced. The doctor was worried that August was going to be too big. That Robyn would have a difficult time delivering him if he went all the way to term.

We made arrangements for the older kids. Got to the hospital and were placed in a room with a great view of the outside–lush green trees and beautifully, unseasonably blue, Seattle skies. The process began, and within hours, the contractions were strong and things looked good.

But an alarming pattern started as well–with every strong contraction, August’s heart rate dropped. At first, it only dropped a few degrees, from a baseline of 145 to 120. But as the evening wore on, and the contractions got stronger, the more his heart rate fell. 90. 80. It would always go back up after, but the consistency was beginning to worry our doctor and nurse.

They decided to slow down the process. Austen had a drop in heart rate during birth, but it had rectified itself. Perhaps the umbilical cord was in the wrong place, being squeezed too tightly? I went out to the family members who had been waiting and gave them an update. It wasn’t going to happen tonight. Go home, we’ll call you.

We said goodnight. It was around 10 pm.

Our doctor came to the room and would not leave. She stayed as Robyn received her epidural, holding her hand through the process. Now the pain was less–but the contractions, and August’s reactions–were getting worse. We signed a consent for a Cesarean, just in case.

Moving from past to present tense:

At 12:23 am, August’s heart rate drops to 60, fights its way back, and drops again. In an instant, what was routine becomes a battle for the life of my son.

Robyn is moved to a gurney. There is a rush of activity, nurses coming from nowhere, the rushed conversation of “there’s someone else scheduled–no, I’ve called it–we’re going first.” Robyn is being readied to leave the delivery room and head to the OR. I have time for three thoughts, all of them involve prayer.

I call my mother, who is watching Audrey and Austen. I quickly tell her that Robyn is on the way to the OR–please pray. I call my mother-in-law and tell her the same–and to come quickly, Robyn wants her there. I quickly compose a text message and send it to a random selection of friends and family. I ask them again to pray.

By 12:34 we are in the OR, I am putting on scrubs, a mask. I am terrified. Thoughts of loss and death overwhelm me. I am going to lose either my child or my wife. Life will lose tonight.

I enter the room and see my wife on a table. She is being covered, prepped. There are three doctors, several nurses, and the team from the Infant Intensive Care Unit awaits in case they need to revive my boy. I cannot hold back the tears. I weep.

Robyn sees me. “Don’t cry. I need you to be strong.” I tell her I am not crying and I manage to stop the tears–but I am still terrified. I can’t see straight–tubes, scrubs, machines, a sterile clang of instruments. The doctors begin working in hushed tones–I focus on Robyn and try to distract her from what is going on. She is awake, only slightly uncomfortable, and getting very tired.

The noises stop. The doctors do not move.

Robyn and I fear the worst. Then suddenly, a cry. I see my boy. He is screaming, angry, scared. But alive.

He is quickly wiped off and taken to the nurses who examine him and determine that whatever happened in the womb did not hurt him. He is beautiful, loud, and pink. A little dried blood is on his nose, but he stops crying when they hand him to me. I take him to Robyn and we both cry. Life has won.

Turns out that the umbilical cord was wrapped around one shoulder, through his legs, and over the other shoulder–almost like a harness. There was no way he was going to come out the natural way. But he is here, alive, and sleeping loudly in the room next door.

Life wins. The prayers of the faithful are answered, and a little boy whose name means “Revered and Exalted,” helps me do both to the very giver of Life. I revere Him for His power, His glory, and the fact that He reveals Himself to me. I exalt Him for His life, for His nature, and for His providence.

This is August just hours after he was born. Super cute then, but his personality now is amazing!

Sleep well, August. The battle for your life has just begun.

Recipe: Potato Salad

I made this yesterday for our family’s Memorial Day celebrations. It’s so yummy and I was thrilled to have leftovers for this week. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!

1. In a large bowl combine 2 lbs. of red potatoes, 1 head of garlic, 1/8 cup of olive oil, and salt and pepper.
2. Pour the potatoes into a foil pouch and grill for 45 minutes on medium heat.
3. Remove from grill and let potatoes cool, about 10 minutes.
4. Cut potatoes in half, putting them back into the large bowl.
5. Using a large metal spoon, lightly smash potatoes, leaving large chunks.
6. Add 2 tablespoons of fresh dill or 2 teaspoons of dried dill, 1 cup of sour cream, and 1/2 teaspoon of red-wine vinegar.
7. Season with salt and pepper and, if desired, a few garlic cloves. Stir until just combined
8. Add an additional 1/2 cup of sour cream just before serving, serve chilled or at room temperature.

You could also mix in some of your favorite ingredients like scallions, dill pickles, bacon, or hard-cooked egg. Try using only one or two additional ingredients.