Mom moved in just after our ninth anniversary and we were all getting settled and setting boundaries and trying not to have too many expectations. But not having any expectations of how a situation will look before it happens is tough and over the years we've had our ups and downs when it comes to living together. And I'm sure there will be more ups and downs in the years to come but we have definitely been more on the up-side than on the down-side. (I hope Mom would agree.)
Every now and then someone will ask me if I recommend them moving a parent in with them or vice versa. I have to say that I'm very careful about recommending it. The relationship between my mom and I is very unique. I won't say that we've always had crystal clear communication or that we haven't had our share of arguments but I believe we genuinely have each other's best interests at heart and we are always working toward understanding one another and try to communicate respectfully with each other. So, for us, it works.
Remember, I was pregnant too so, when you add in the fact that I had super-charged emotions, it really is quite a miracle that we didn't kill each other that first year! ; ) Several times people asked me if I was ready to have a fourth baby (I think they all thought we were crazy). This was my reply, "I feel like I'm in the front seat of a roller coaster and we're headed up that steep climb to the top of the first big drop off. I have my hands in the air in anticipation BUT I'm NOT buckled in! We'll just see if I fall out!" I was excited but you just never know what it will be like until you go through a particular experience for yourself. Going from 2 to 3 kids had been a breeze but that didn't mean it would go so smoothly this time.
Landon was born in February, just before Mom's birthday! Now we had three sons and one daughter and we felt truly complete. Brian and I felt like everyone in our family had arrived now. Done. Fini. Suddenly it felt like A LOT of people were in this house! And there were! We had gone from a family of 5 to a family of 7 in less than 6 months.
Landon was my happy baby. Cameron had been kind of a serious baby. Parker had been a sad baby. Anna was a funny baby. But Landon was happy. And so were we.
We went on two small family vacations this year. In the summer we went to Lake Hartwell and stayed in a flea-bitten cabin for a few days.
In the fall we went with our friends, the Banks family, to his parents' house on the swamp. And I passed a kidney stone. I've given birth to 3 out of 4 of my children with no drugs and no epidural and none of those experiences made me think I was going to die. The kidney stone made me think I was dying. Fun. Thanks, Bill and Juli, for taking care of my babies while Brian rushed me to the hospital.
We were approaching our tenth anniversary and I was sure to "warn" Brian that we had better do something big to celebrate or I was going to be sorely disappointed! Dinner and no gift was not going to cut it this year!
We decided we were definitely going on a kid-free vacation this year. Just the two of us. I was still working part-time at the church and started saving every single penny toward our trip and Brian was matching my contribution. Brian narrowed it down to three possible destinations and we settled on The Florida Keys as the perfect getaway.
Next to taking care of four kids and the house, that trip was all I thought about for a year!!!
And BOY was it ever the perfect vacation!!! We very cheaply (via Spirit Air) flew into Fort Lauderdale, rented a convertible and drove from Miami to Key West over the course of 5 days. We stayed one night in the Pelican Cove Resort & Marina (I think) on Islamorada, Tranquility Bay Beachfront Hotel and Resort on Marathon and and two nights in Parmer's Resort on Big Pine Key. We spent lazy days on the gorgeous, nearly vacant beach at Bahia Honda State Park and marveled at star saturated skies at night. We were introduced to lobster reuben sandwiches and chocolate covered, frozen key lime pie on a stick!
So, with smiles on our faces and lobster and key lime pie in our bellies we celebrated our TENTH anniversary!
What did we learn during our tenth year?
- Personal Boundaries are Healthy - everyone needs space and you need to communicate what your needs are with one another to keep the peace. Mutual respect - it's a beautiful thing!
- We Had a Limit - We had always wanted four children and I believe God had made that the desire of our hearts and then He fulfilled it. I think He gives some people a limit and to some He doesn't and we definitely reached our limit with four.
- Paying Cash for a Vacation is so Freeing! - We had saved up enough money to do exactly what we wanted and we stayed within our budget and had nothing to pay for once we got home!
- Time Alone as a Couple is Vital - Being together as a family is great but if you don't take time for just the two of you then you're really missing out. Our pastor recommends this formula: Dialog Daily, Date Weekly, Depart Quarterly. We don't get to take a date every week and we don't get to get away quarterly but we try to get in a date at least twice a month and at least one departure each year (even if it's just overnight).