Some amazing [and utterly surprising] news!

The last time I checked in on this lovely site, the Mighty Milners, we were flying high. We had the school system down, I was knocking out school projects, dinner was made mostly on time. Things were looking good for the family, with the four [count ’em, FOUR] Milners currently inhabiting Charleston.

And then … it all somewhat dramatically, came crashing down. Cue the famous two blue lines on the famous white pee stick. You could also cue a panic attack, the huge feelings of being overwhelmed, and utter, utter surprise. To be quite honest, it was not one of my finer moments. And I’m okay with that – to reiterate, a third bundle of joy was not on my radar.

For as shocking as all of it was, I told a whole lot of no one. And that includes Ryan, for about three days. I did tell finally tell him, over a dinner of tacos. We view seafood tacos as a balm for our soul. The spicy bam sauce did put us in better spirits, and we were able to grin, in spite of the unexpected news.

We held onto that little nugget of news, though, for over a month. In retrospect, I’m not sure HOW great we were at keeping it a secret, but we made no loud pronouncement to anyone. It was easy to hide from the family, within reason, because they didn’t see my ever expanding belly. As for the folks in town, well, I did what I could with stretchy leggings and sweatshirts. I essentially went into hiding. It was all I could do to get up on time to get Sophia to school, with homework done & a lunch in hand. Most of the time, I just rolled out of bed, wore a ponytail, and called it good.

After our visit with the new midwife I had to find rather quickly, the heartbeat was confirmed, the due date set, and it really became real [though, the morning sickness definitely was proving its own point]. Once I had a sonogram in hand, I felt comfortable telling immediate family. No one believed us, not right away. It took the proof in hand to really make the point to our family that this was not an elaborate October prank where we were teasing everyone.

We’re really having a baby.

In May.

The same month as our other two.

[You do the math.]

And, now, here we are – I’m almost 16 weeks along, with a May 2015 due date and only getting more and more excited for what having 5 Mighty Milners can mean for the world. It’s going to be amazing!

Grandma Betty: 1930 – 2013

“we cannot understand. the best is perhaps what we understand least.”

– c.s. lewis, “A Grief Observed”

Friday was a sad day for the Applewhite family. we were all notified in the middle of the day that Grandma wasn’t doing well; she had been in and out of the hospital for oxygen issues, and we thought it might be just another quick visit.

sadly, it was not. she passed away that evening, surrounded by her kids and kids-in-law. it was startlingly fast, and I know everyone was grateful they took note of the urgency in the medical staffs voice to be by her side. my parents made the trip down to Wichita with urgency, and her son and daughter in town where there for her, as well.

I had just received a letter from her, not two days before. she was sad – she had recently been moved from her retirement apartment to the skilled side of her community; she had to give up her kitty, and was sad about the adjustments. she had said she would be fine, and move on. my response was half-written, and not yet mailed – feeling sorrow for such a big move and sadness for losing her newest companion, cutely named Kitty.

personally, I’m incredibly grateful I made time to see her in July. while visiting family & friends in KC, my mom & I drove down to Wichita for an afternoon lunch and visit. she met li’l G for the first time, seeing him in all his crazy toddler wonder; she saw Sophia, growing into herself and producing incredible art; I got to see her for the first time in almost two years before I drove back out East. we spoiled ourselves and grabbed NuWay, with their horribly-delicious-but-so-awful-for-you burgers & fries. [worth it]

if you’re in Wichita this weekend, her service is on Saturday. if you’re not, I’d appreciate it if you’d keep my dad and family in your thoughts/prayers/good wishes. below is her obituary, and service information. feel free to send some love her way, to my family, and her friends.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/kansas/obituary.aspx?n=betty-j-applewhite&pid=167017192&fhid=11455#fbLoggedOut

“do not let your hearts be troubled. you believe in God; believe also in Me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

John 14:1-4

faithfulness

I’m free! well, for the moment anyway. thank the Lord for my beautiful husband who recognized the crazy look that was developing in my eye the last week or so. it was the look of a crazed, desperate woman who needed an escape, and quick.

he identified it, came in like Superman, told me that under no circumstances should I stay inside any longer, and made me leave the house.

awesome.

so, at this very moment, I’m in a cute, quirky coffee shop with a delicious mocha. I’ve got Andrew Bird in my ear bud, with the chance to catch my breath.

I’ve been sad since I got home. I loved, loved, loved being in KC for Christmas. we were surrounded by love like I hadn’t felt in a while. dear family, wonderful friends, and tons of laughs, memories, and celebrations for two weeks – it was water for a very thirsty soul. once we were back in Charleston, the withdraw symptoms were intense. everyone had daily living to rush back to, but it was not easy for me. I was a tired, sad mess.

we have wonderful friends here in Charleston, and we quickly met back up with them. that was nice, a little salve on an opened wound. and we all agreed – going back home is tough. you love it, but then the crash back is awful. unfortunately, this is coming from families who have lived here for five years or more. apparently, it doesn’t get easier as time goes on.

we decided to make church a priority this month, and really intentionally look for a church we could call home. we went to a local Episcopal church, not five minutes away from our apartment.

it. was. awesome.

I feel like some might read that, and wonder how “Episcopal” and “awesome” go together, but they did. it was like a light was lit in my soul; I felt at home. I haven’t felt at home in a church for a while – it was nice to feel that again. we really liked the mix of traditional practices, and contemporary worship and honest reflection on our walks with the Father. we met some wonderful people who run the nursery, and I immediately had an invite to the ladies Bible study. we get to take traditional communion, and make the sign of the cross. they have a lovely reverend, who seems like a nice Southern grandpa, with the love of the Father all over him.

we won’t make any official decisions quite yet, but we were both fans.

all of that was to say, the Father provides. He provided for me emotionally that morning, when I was still sad and hurting and feeling lonely. I’m still up and down, especially the kids are being particularly difficult. but, He’s given me an amazing husband who has made this transition as smooth as possible, and both have been faithful up til now. I can’t imagine either failing me anytime soon.

the [emotional] move

I’ve had a lot running through my thoughts recently. I realized that I’ve lived here in Charleston for a full two months now.

wow.

two months without the norms of my existence. my family, my friends, my church. even in the midst of the craziness that is moving, I find myself thinking about Kansas City a lot. “what highways are under construction? what is going on downtown, at UMKC, at the Plaza, at the Kansas City Boiler Room? is it cool enough to head to the park? if it is, I’d love to go with M & N … oh, wait, I don’t live there anymore. dang it.” this is what I was the most sad about – the little things that make your knowledge of a person or a location – the small, everyday occurrences that you keep track of daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, that constitutes your understanding of where you are and the relationships you are in.

I see now why moving is on the top of the stress list. I see now that it, especially in our circumstances, it creates bone-tired parents who are trying to get a career up in the air and keeping the children alive. and the tiredness compounds on itself, especially without family members to jump in, create that much-needed break, and allow for some breathing room. I see that, also, my awesome family is incredible resilient. R has jumped head first into his work and social life. he has made some great friends through work, and is doing swimmingly there professionally. he loves the town, his office, the parks, the walking, the local coffeehouses. S is doing awesome [which you’ve already read on]. G, though I love him greatly, is still a baby. he has no clue as to what is going on. as long as he’s fed, allowed to get a couple decent naps a day, and snuggled with throughout, he’s fabulous.

I was in survival mode when I arrived. my wonderful mother was here, and helped set the apartment to rights. thanks to her, I have a functioning kitchen and children who were eagerly taken cared of. and then she left. and unfortunately, left in the worst of circumstances that culminated in my grandma Dee passing away. we were in town not quite two weeks before we packed up, and saw family in Kentucky. and while it was [and is] heartbreaking the reason why, I was delighted to see everyone again so soon. well, I was a mess of emotions, but one of those emotions was elation that I was seeing my family.

and then I had to drive home. in tears, I pulled out of Grandpa’s driveway and started the long drive south. I feel like that was the true, real beginning of our living here in town. R began work in earnest, S was excited about school, and we were all prepping for the beginning of work/school/fall, & all that wonderfully brings. I, in the name of staying sane, turned to my beloved iCal. if you know nothing about me, you’ll soon learn that I love lists, I love to-dos, and I love creating them and deleting them once they’re accomplished.

on a side note, R thinks I’m crazy. what, you don’t have 9 separate sub-calanders with multiple instructions for how to get through your day? how do you survive, sir? I say again, how, sir?

so, I turned to organization and systems and to-dos and feeling satisfaction with crossing off those items once completed. not, and please note this, continuing to foster old relationships and attempting to create new ones. I have avoided church – not because I can’t make the time or the service. there’s definitely a 9 and an 11. it’s 10 minutes away from my place. they even had children’s church at the local children’s museum. it’s killer, and S certainly did not want to leave once we finally made it there.

But, in the first 8 weeks we’d been here, we didn’t go once. the church that, seemingly in His fantastic way, the Father had provided for us, in introducing us to a Charleston resident the last week we went to Boiler Room. [nudging much, Father?]  I hide behind excuses – R was out late, so he’s in no shape to go with me; oh, we’re running late now, so we won’t be on time – I don’t want to be late the first time I go; uhh, I don’t know where to park, so I’ll be late and bumble in, causing attention to be focused on me; um, we all have colds, so we don’t want to go and infect everyone; oh, G got me up again in the middle of the night, so I’m really tired.

but in the end, that’s all they are. excuses. there is absolutely NO reason for me to have not gone in the time that we’d been here. or, to many other things that we’ve/I’ve been invited to while in town. it all boils down to me and my fear of all things new. I am an intense creature of habit. I also hide behind the excuse of my children. ‘oh, R wants to go out more than I do, so I’ll stay home.’ ‘oh, I’m not ready to go out – we’ll just stay in, instead, and have a quiet night at home’

now, there are some legitimate excuses to not have gone out or go somewhere. we all WERE sick one weekend, with everyone but the baby curled up with kleenexes and DayQuil. and in terms of going out, things are a bit tight post-move, so cost is a consideration. the kids do have bedtimes, so staying out late requires a babysitter, which requires money.

so this is where I’m at – balancing and being fully honest with myself. am I staying in/not going somewhere because of my fear? because I think I’ll embarrass myself in some way? because I don’t think enough of myself to interact with these different individuals, some of whom I’m not meeting on my own terms?

of course, that opens up more questions, as these thoughts seem to do. why am I intimidated? why do I feel nervous to interact with these individuals? what about them do I think is so great, and about me, so little? it makes me question some of my life decisions, that have put me in the place I am now. I have two little kids, and daycare is abhorrently high. to have both of them in a center full-time would be more than what I could make anywhere, and that is not an exaggeration. but, at the same time, do I feel ashamed to say I’m a stay-at-home mom? I actually don’t think I am, inherently. I think I put upon myself what I perceive others to be thinking; I’m surrounded by women who 1.) have children AND Ph.Ds or 2.) have no children, work, and live footloose and fancy free. I don’t necessarily have someone that I can directly relate to, here in town anyway. but, I’m not giving others a chance to say one way or the other about what I do or how I live – I’ve already predetermined that they will think less of me for staying home. and that’s not fair, to me or to them.

in the end, this is what I have to remember:

1.) the Father clearly made a path for us in Charleston. this was R’s job offer, it’s an amazing city, and the perfect place for a family.

2.) I knew moving would be hard. difficult, even. I’m allowed a bit of time to adjust, as that’s my personality to process emotionally a little slower than I do on a logistic level. but, I cannot hide behind that forever. or, for even too much longer. we are made for relationships – not for eternally making to-do lists, or living in my private world of my li’l family [as adorable as they are].

3.) I have a choice. I have a choice to be depressed, sad, lonely. or, a choice to embrace my new life, make the absolute best of it. as difficult as that can be, I’m trying. because it’s worth remembering – this is not a temporary move. this is for a significant amount of time, I may never move back to the Midwest, and once I make that psychological shift, I’ll be fine. better than that, I’ll be thriving.

Grandma Dee – a life lived well

my Grandma Dee passed away this last Tuesday. to say that our family is sad and heartbroken would be an understatement. she was an amazing women, who loved the Father with all her being. even as she struggled with difficult diseases over the past eleven years, had migraines consistently, and desired to travel and be with family & friends more often – but couldn’t – she handled it with grace and dignity that I admire and respect.

R, myself, and the kids all went to Kentucky to be with my mom, Grandpa, and family. it was a long three days, heightened by heavy emotions. we made it into town Wednesday in time for a church memorial service. she had requested a praise & worship service over the traditional funeral service. it was wonderful. my grandpa spoke beautifully about her. he gave the Lord praise for restoring her emotionally & spiritually, making her into the person I knew for the last twenty-seven odd years. the women who thought the best of everyone, even as she acknowledged they were human and needed the Father in their lives. the women who introduced me to skiing, to sewing, to cooking, and to coffee [to that, can I get an amen? amen!]

she was a fabulous women. she was beloved by all who knew her. I had countless friends of hers come up to me at the visitation, consistently saying how often she talked of her family. she was so eager to talk about her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren. when I had walked into her home for the first time in a while, I was blown away at how many photos she had of all of us & our kids. she was in love with her family, making them the highest priority.

there’s really no other way to say it; she was wonderful. all of us grandkids eagerly looked forward to spending our weeks in the summer, going to Kings Island, to dollar movies with popcorn & candy we would sneak in, to her absolutely delicious food she’d prep when we were in town. the woman knew how to cook: chicken pot pie & oven burritos are among the first to mention. when we’d visit in Kentucky or go to Colorado to the cabin, we all knew we’d gain about 10 lbs. Christmas with her was fabulous.

nah, forget it – anytime with her was fabulous.

I will miss her greatly. she was a fountain of wisdom, had an excellent wit, and was a joy to be around. I do recognize, though, that she is truly in a better place. she is no longer in pain, and is loving it up with Jesus. I’m not so selfish as to deny her that. she endured this physical life for long enough with pain and trouble for three lifetimes; she deserves to be free of that discouragement and pain.

she was awesome. I will always love her, and look forward to passing on her recipes, her quilts, and her legacy to my own children. if I am half the woman she was, my life has been a success.

love you, Grandma Dee.

there’s no crying … well, actually there is

R’s beloved aunt loves to quote “there’s no crying in baseball”. fortunately, I do not play baseball. I’m a horrible athlete. but when it comes to moving across the country, I’m a pro. and there is definitely crying involved there.

R left town Saturday morning – my dad & my brother-in-law joined him in the 1100 mile trek eastward. because of how our flights worked out, I knew I’d miss seeing the two of them at the airport. my mother-in-law came over for her official good-bye to R. needless to say, it was sad good-byes all around.

then, I crashed at my parents house, waiting around for my mom to get back into town and gratefully using her spare bedrooms, given that R took all of the mattresses with him. I won’t lie – I enjoyed the quiet. we’ve been on the go for about a month now, saying good-bye to everyone, and it was nice to just stay inside, ignore the heat, and mindlessly watch some tv with the kiddos. mom drove into town sunday night. she joined in the mindless tv watching [given her life right now, I know it was a welcome break]. we got Mexican food, we did a little laundry, and then we prepped for the harrowing journey of flying with two kids the following day. I say that slightly sarcastically, given our technological and modern comforts. but, still. it’s a full day of a total of three flights with two kids under four [enough numbers for you?!?]

at the airport Tuesday, I was an emotional wreck. I’ve obviously flown before, but not by myself in a while. I had to have everything organized for myself and the kids, and then try to balance myself emotionally. my sister, M, drove us to the airport. I sat in the backseat with S, willing myself not to cry that early into the morning. [I was almost successful]. we got through check-in substantially faster than I thought we would, so we had more time to stand around and try to deflect our emotions for a little bit longer. given that we were wrangling all three kids [my nephew joined in the early morning party], that was relatively easy.

and then, I couldn’t put it off any longer, and had to get in line at security. my mother-in-law came with a couple of her good friends, and we said good-bye. let me just give props where props are due – this women willingly allowed us to stay with her [rent free, I might add] for over seven months, helped me chase S around when I was still pregnant [and after!], and has been nothing but supportive for R’s career and us emotionally. it was a rough good-bye.

and then came the biggie. my sister & best friend. I had no words. I just let myself cry, and didn’t try to say anything. we’ve been good friends our whole lives, and best friends as we’ve gotten older. she helped me birth my two kids; she has willingly watched them over the past four years [as I have her son]. there have been countless dinners at each others houses, tons of nights where we’ve watched movies while the husbands played video games, and many a shopping date. we just click on so many levels, and it sucks that we’re not as geographically close as we want to be. it sucks bad.

the trip itself wasn’t so bad; S really took to it. she colored many a coloring book, and chewed gum all day to pop her ears. it was adorable. G ate & slept, and clearly wasn’t bothered by the air pressure. he bounced between my mom and I, and was awesomely chill the whole time. Mom and I got where we needed to go, and were [as one would expect] just tired when the day was through.

it was AWESOME to see R when we disembarked! we’d been separated for four days, and it was great to be back together. we grabbed our bags, and headed to our new home. almost nothing was officially unpacked; we ordered take-out, let Mom crash on our air mattress, and started to get to work. in the end, it took almost four days to unpack, clear out the trash, and get things settled & decorated. even with Mom’s awesome help, it was a long four days.

we are not moving again for a long time.

this will be in a different post, but we headed to the beach. Mom & I found a fantastic Mexican restaurant not far from our place. and, all too soon, I had another good-bye.

Mom had rented a car to drive back to her parents place [that is a super long story – I may write that up later, but know that all is not well for my grandparents, physically and medically speaking, and my mom has been helping them survive for the past few months]. I dropped her off to get her car, and drove back to my apartment with tears streaming down my face. I have always lived within a 20 mile radius of my parents & family – 1100 miles is just crazy. I think reality hit me a bit, also, that we’re on our own for a bit. I have no doubt we’ll make friends and settle into an awesome church, or that R won’t hit it off with his fellow professors. but at this very moment, we don’t have that and it made me sad and scared and nervous and everything in between.

there are, of course, positive notes to talk about. Charleston, as we all know, is an amazing city. it is beautiful, quiet, and relatively compact – nothing is more than twenty minutes away, and when you’re coming from Kansas City, that’s amazing! we made time for the beach, and enjoyed the sea, sun, and seashells. there is amazing food here, specifically at Folly Beach Crab Shack [amazing crab cakes, fried pickles, & hushpuppies – yum!]. and let’s not forget the amazing Mexican restaurant – we’ll definitely be back! S is taking it all in stride; there haven’t been any huge emotional freak outs. she is, of course, tired from the travel day and not having a peaceful room to nap in, but that has mostly been taken care of after a couple good nights of sleep. G has been doing great – him in a room with four walls to take a nap in has been fabulous! R is excited; we’re mostly settled, and now he can get to work and enjoy this awesome city that his success has brought us to.

I’m excited, as well. we have our own place, which is 95% complete. we’re back in a rhythm and routine that is mostly familiar to us. we have the internet [i.e., we have FaceTime & Skype, which we will make the most of!] and like I told R before we moved, I’m grateful for his job, and just as grateful for airplanes.

on the road (eventually)

this isn’t a real post, so fair warning. we have been in the midst of the impending move, filling those final
boxes, scrambling to see friends for the last, official time while we live here, and trying to not cry, fall apart, or just cave to emotionalism as we do so. [some days are more successful than others].

R drives out Saturday; I fly out Tuesday with the kids.

wow.

tomorrow, we load the truck. I’m not kidding, I’m at the point of just trying to keep it together for S. I can’t cry for four days without her thinking something is wrong! right? right.

anyway, once we’re settled, I’ll update with photos [both old and new] and social info. in the meantime, I’m going to allow myself to pause in the midst of this craziness, allow the emotions to well over, and then buck up because this move is awesome! love all of you – be back soon!