Faith, Kids, Life or Something Like It

I am NOT a Failure

I am NOT a Failure

I am NOT a Failure

Repeat after me:  I am NOT a Failure.  Those words still resonate in me after a late-night chat with one of my closest friends.  After a particularly hard evening, I texted my friend and said: “can you talk?”  She has as many kids as I do and her life is not easy.  My friend is raising these kids from hard places and trying to maintain a farm.  Inspiration.  She is my inspiration.

What’s Going On?

That was all she said. Not even a “hello” just a statement.  In fact, I don’t think we ever say “hello” when we call each other.  It is rare when we get a few minutes, within a month or so, to dedicate to chatting.  Yet, when it comes to me needing her or her needing me…we make time in the chaos.

Last night, she made time.  I am forever grateful to my friend.  She means the world to me.

Tears Flowed

I couldn’t even get words out…all I could do was sob.  There was a sentence I mustered about a life-altering decision that we have to make in regards to one of our children.  Instead of instantly telling me all the things I already know, she sat, silently, and let me cry.  Throwing in phrases, between the sobs, of “I love you.  You love your children.  He is not a failure because of his mental illness that I did not create.  I am not a failure because I did above and beyond what needed to be done in order for him to live a successful, safe life.

You are not a Failure

She said that over and over.  I repeated it and then I let it sink in.  He is not a failure.  I repeated that and it is sinking in.  We are not failures.  He just needs more help then maybe I can give him.  That doesn’t mean I’ve failed him.  It means I have loved him enough to get the help that he needs.  In having to do what we may have to do does not dictate my love for this child.  If I didn’t love him, I wouldn’t fight so hard for him to succeed in life.

Yet…who does what I’m doing?  Who does what he is doing on a constant basis?  Why can’t love just fix everything?  What about God…where are You in the chaos?  I know He is there.  Yet, I can’t hear Him through the storm.

My Support System

Is very small.  I mean, I have my husband.  The love of my children (whom I try to shield from all that swirls in my mind).  I know my mom loves me and supports me.  There is my sister who never waivers, never judges, never gives advice without me asking, faithfully prays for me…what would I do without her?  I simply don’t know.  Also, I have a couple of faithful friends that I can bear my soul with and never be betrayed or judged.


There is some serious trust issues that I have always had but have peaked the last few months.  I’m battling with anger (which is fear and/or sadness).  I can easily identify the fear that no one believes me, that I have no self-worth, no confidence, that love comes and goes like the ebbs and flows of the ocean.  Feeling like a failure because my dreams of raising kids is not what reality is.  Honestly, feeling like all the things wrong is my fault and that I can’t fix it.  Sadness because of the loss of what I thought I knew…I’m not sure it is even there.  Maybe it is there but buried deep inside and doesn’t want to appear because of fear.  Such sadness at the choices of a child.  Sadness for an uncertain future.

Emotionally Stagnant

That is what my counselor said that I was.  When we got off the phone, I told my husband and he AGREED.  Then, I called my sister and told her…guess what…she AGREED as well.  I have a hard time expressing my needs, feeling safe, accepting help, and just being vulnerable.

I am not emotionally stagnant.  The emotions are there, I just pick and choose who sees me have a moment.  Emotions, to me, instill weakness and if one is weak, one doesn’t think clearly and can be overtaken.

That’s how I perceived my father growing up.  He is not the emotional kind of guy (forever police officer).  I rarely remember him yielding to emotion. He did, I guess, just not where us kids could see him.

My mom, however, is free with her emotions, for the most part.  I just took more after Pop.

What People Don’t See

Is when I’m alone, in my room, crying my eyes out.  People don’t see me taking long drives down roads I don’t know…crying my eyes out.  Screaming.  The poison gets so intense, inside me, that I just scream.  So, I’m emotional, in a controlled environment.  If I were to say to the people who have hurt me, how badly I feel wounded…they will not respond well.  Many things can be said.  Also, those things that were said cannot be unsaid.  If I did say them, they would no longer love me.

Fear of not being loved or belonging…that’s a big one.


You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made…

My Thoughts

In the everyday chaos and uncertainty, He calls me to walk out on the waters, where it is completely unknown and my feet will fail in the deep ocean.  Yet, He says I will stand on my faith.  When I call upon His Name, He is faithful to keep my eyes above the waves.  He is calling me out on the waves to confront, in love, the people that I need to confront.  One of those people is me!!
I need to know that I don’t depend on anyone’s love but His.  My battles are not for me to fight according to Exodus 14:14.  “The Lord will fight my battle.  I just have to be silent.”
I won’t look around at all the things going on around me and the struggles that I am facing.  My job is to step out on the waves, in the deep ocean, where His grace abounds.  I am always loved, always believed, always worthy, in His eyes.

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Corraling The Chaos of a Large Family

Corraling The Chaos of a Large Family

I do believe I may have found my tiny ship of order….at least for the time being.

Corraling The Chaos of a Large Family.  I have kids. Lots of kids.  There are also my extra kids.  Kids are everywhere.
I don’t see myself as having a “mega” family because I don’t.  When I think of a “mega” family, I think of the Bates family or the Duggars.  I’m just a snowflake in a blizzard compared to those families.
I have 7 kids.  Also, I have 2 bonus girls who come around.  Oh wait, I also have a son in law. That’s it.
Just Big Daddy, me, Bug, Peach, Gigi, Boo, Catfish, Little Man, Zebra, Hannah, Morgie Loo, Eye Candy, and Black Bart.  I don’t feed them all, every day…on max, I feed about 9 people a day…again, this is a small family, to me.

I do not believe in giving a kid a cell phone until they are 16 and driving.

Yes, I’m the oddball out and yes my kids have received backlash for my decision, but seriously…what does a 10 yr old need with a phone.  Granted, some circumstances require a younger child to have a cellphone (divorced situation, latchkey kid, etc.), but we are a 2 parent family, and I’m always home.  My 11 yr old is not going to text me while he is in the bathroom needing toilet paper and I’m in the living room.  It is as simple as that.

All that being said

I have a daughter who is married…which yields me a son in law (gasp and sigh).  A son who works and a daughter who is old enough to have a phone, but lost that privilege (yes, if I’m paying for it a cell phone is a privilege, not a right)….then there is Big Daddy and me.  Our schedules are nuts, especially with a medically fragile child and another child in a traveling baseball league.  I never know where everyone is at.


I forget to tell the kids about important doctors appointments. Sadly, I always forget baseball (thankfully his coach sends a reminder text).  Also, I forget appointments that are not in the realm of my medically fragile son.  I’m getting older, so I just merely forget and the kids (and Big Daddy) are tired of telling me the same thing 500 times.  To the kids, however, the most important thing they want to know is what our menu for the week is and if they all want to come to eat here.


I have *finally* found my saving grace.  I LOVE it.  The kids tolerate it, and Big Daddy doesn’t pay attention…but it helps me, and that’s what’s important 🙂  It is a SHARED calender called (so sad I have to look at the name because I forgot it) TimeTree.  It is free, and it spans across iPhones and Android phones.  All you have to do the primary person (me) has to set up the account, and then I invite everyone else.  They accept the invite, download the app, and we are good to go.  I have titled our calendar as “Family Calendar” because you can have other ones on there as well.


In this calendar, we each have a color and our name (mine is Eagle Eye LOL).  We add to the calendar all our appointments, work schedules, and mainly my menu.  If the kids see something they like, they text me and say they are coming for dinner.  Once a week, I give a kid a night, and they choose the menu for me.  So, I’m guaranteed one night a week with all my kids.  They are thrilled, and I’m excited I don’t have to figure out what to cook once a week 🙂  We add birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and our upcoming “cake eating” preparations days.
In my opinion…I freaking love it!

My Bowels are Stirring

My Bowels are Stirring

My Bowels are Stirring

Well, My Bowels are Stirring at the thought of watching my daughter walk down the aisle to marry this boy.  Then there is the whole watching her daddy “give” her away.  I’m not sure I can handle the pressure of listening to them pour out their hearts by writing their own vows.  Oh, and the whole part of hearing them say “I do.”  Sigh.  We have 10 more days until I am a mother in law.  How did that happen?

We are going to surprise her during the ceremony.  She gets really tense when all eyes are on her.  So, one of her favorite movies is The Princess Bride.  Ironically, it is also one of our pastor’s favorite movies.  So, in honor of that, he is going to do the “Mawage” speech to get her giggling.  We are not telling anyone, so I’m not sure what the audience will think LOL.

I only have to do this 6 more times.  Let that resonate in your soul.  We clearly were not thinking when we decided to have all the kids.  Clearly not.  Seriously, My Bowels are Stirring.

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Planning a Wedding and Potty Training

Planning a Wedding and Potty Training.  I’m just telling you……my anxiety has been amped up, lately.   Who, in their right mind, would be trying to do those 2 things at once, plus all the stuff in the middle?  Geez.  I cannot describe how thankful I am for those people who are helping me out with the wedding planning part and the support from my kids who are helping with the potty training part.


I simply cannot believe my baby is getting married.  It’s not like I thought it would never happen, but I guess I just thought all my kids would live in my backyard and nothing would change.  Now….a certain young man…..has gone and changed things.  I do not like change….yet here I am…..allowing change.

Content is a Dirty Word

Every time I say I’m content, the Lord does something to upset my apple cart.  Every.  Single.  Time.  I will no longer say that I am content in anything LOL.  I have a sinking feeling I will be planning another wedding in the next year or so.  Good grief.  I plan on doing a post on planning a wedding on a TINY budget, because, let’s face it…..we are frugal people, Victoria is not over the top, and we don’t have a lot of extra money.  I’m, so thankful for those who have helped with their time and talent.

Potty Training 101

As for potty training, cause ya know, life isn’t fun enough….my kids were ALWAYS potty trained by 2.  I would put the potty in front of the tv and set the timer and set them on that potty every 15 minutes.  It’s like a badge of honor to be the first in your group of moms to have their kid potty trained.

Now, I have a 3 yr old (almost 4) and I’m at it again.  We did a little potty training before he got sick and he did really well.  I did the whole timer thing and he was pretty much trained, during the day.  Then OMS hit and everything else halted.  The last 7 mths have been nothing but survival mode with him and our family and I’m not stressed at all about potty training.  As my mama says, they will not go to college in diapers, so quit stressing yourself and them out.  I took her advice on kid #7.

Houston, He is Ready

Hunter began ASKING me to change him.  Whether he was wet or had pooped.  He would pee and then bring me up a pull-up and cry until I changed him. That right there was my cue.  He knew he did not like being wet…he really did not like it when he pooped, so I pulled out the superhero drawers and started strong.  He has done WONDERFUL.  I mean, it has been completely stress-free.

He was ready.  I didn’t pressure him.  He is potty trained.  Now, I still put a pull-up on him during nap and bedtime.  I still put one on him when we drive 3.5 hrs to the dr, but he usually does not pee in them.  He will tell me and then we stop and go pee.  It is glorious.  I thought it would be bad, but it hasn’t.  He still struggles with his OMS and that makes him fall over when he is trying to set on the potty, but I have a lot of kids and they will help him out and encourage him.

Change…… getting married…….one getting out of that baby stage.  Change can be good, I guess.



One Day I’ll Stop

One Day I'll Stop

This cracks me up.  One Day I’ll Stop swaddling my kids, maybe.  When D and G came to live with us (at 2.5 and 6 yrs old) we did swaddle them.  We were told that it would help with the bonding process.  Let’s just say we didn’t do that for long because it was not working and felt strange.  There are other ways to forge bonding without bruising each other, you know.  However, with Hunter, we did swaddle him.

He came to live with us at 21 mths of age and he needed that tightness to be able to relax.  We don’t swaddle him anymore because he is almost 5.  In a similar fashion, we tuck the snot out of him.  I mean the tighter, the better.  As a result, he sleeps pretty well, at night.  When we just drape the covers over him, he cannot relax.  We are thinking that he feels safe because safety was not in the first 21 mths of his life.  It was more like severe chaos.

Similarly, I like to have weight added to me or to be rolled into my blankets, as well.  I guess the apples do not fall far from the tree, in that manner.  It makes me feel snug and I can easily fall asleep.  In comparison, Big Daddy does not like being tightly bound at night, at all.  He feels like he is suffocating.


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He is 8

He is 8.  We fell in love with a picture of a three-year-old boy.

He is 8We flew half way across the world.

He is 8Then, we adopted that little boy.

He is 8We flew home….waiting to return.

And we waited.

Then waited.

And waited more.

While we waited, we fought.

We fought hard for 15 months.

Against all odds of ever seeing our baby.


God prevails.

We flew BACK across the world.

He is 8And I once again held my son.

We took him to his forever home.

He is 8

And we were reunited with our children.

He is 8

To his mother, I humbly thank you and pray for you, daily!He is 8From this mama’s heart to his birthmother’s heart….we love you and are SO proud that God brought you into our lives.

Happy Birthday to our precious son.


You know there is a problem when.

You know there is a problem when the boy who is interested in your daughter

shows up at your home

with an envelope in his hand

asks to speak to you

and says

“Ms. Brandi, I was dishonest with you, on Sunday.  You frightened me when you asked me if there was anything you needed to know.  However, now I want to tell you and show you my


Yes, people, he handed me his extensive arrest record.

I had friends at this dinner, who love my daughter like their own.  The look on my face was I’m sure priceless, but looking across the table at their faces was a sight to behold.

I believe at one point, as speechless (yes it does happen) as I was, that John John looked at this young man who had an interest in my daughter..he stared him down and said: “uhm, no….just no.”

We fed the young man.  Oddly, he asked for a photo op with Big Daddy and me.  We opted against that.  However, we were nice.  Oh, and we wished him well.  An executive decision is heck no techno you are NOT dating my daughter.

“I’m a Christian but I will punch you in the face” LOLOLOLOL

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Little Man

Yesterday, Little Man made a bad choice.  He chose to be a typical 7 yr old and tattle on his older brother.  His brother was in trouble for disobeying and was sent to take a nap. However, Little Man informed me that Catfish was not taking a nap.  Instead, he was in his room playing.  Catfish is asleep.

Me:  Did you tattle on Catfish to get him in trouble?

LM:  No.

Me:  Are you telling me the truth?

LM:  No.

Me:  Did you tattle on Catfish to get him in trouble?

LM:  Yes.

Me:  You need to go upstairs (to my bedroom) and wait to be disciplined for choosing to be dishonest with me.\

**Sadly, we both head upstairs**

LM:  Do you forgive me?

Me:  Yes.  But there are natural consequences to the choice of lying.

LM:  Does God still love me.

Me:  Yes

**I make him lay down and take a nap, as well**

After a 2 hour nap, he comes downstairs.

Me:  Did you sleep?

LM:  yes….uhm…mommy….your bed is SO soft.  Do you think, someday, I could get a bed that soft too? I like your bed.

Me:  Yes, son….someday.

Little Man


Boo and Me

Here is another conversation between Boo and Me.

Boo:  Where’d all the honey buns and oatmeal creme pies go to?

Me:  I have no idea, I haven’t touched them.

**Boo looks around and finds a box of fudge rounds.  His eyes grow large.  The smile he is sporting goes from ear to ear.**

B:  Where’d those fudge rounds come from?  I want to eat the whole box.

Me:  I don’t think so.

**He finds 2 lone oatmeal creme pies and he can’t contain himself**

B:  Imma gonna eat both of these.

Me:  I don’t think so, but you can have one.  I wonder what I can make with all this oatmeal.

**B shoving the oatmeal creme pie in his face**

B:  Gross, no…I don’t like oatmeal.

Me:  You are eating an oatmeal creme pie…it has oatmeal in it

B:  Oh.

I sure do love our little chats.  He wears the hair off of my head but it has been so fun raising him.  I’m so thankful for his innocence.  I pray that he always has that quality about him, yet is peppered with great wisdom.

Boo and Me

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Who Needs a Sled and Snow

Who Needs a Sled and Snow?  Welcome to the redneck way of sledding!  Beautiful blue skies, a sloped sidewalk, 2 dump trucks, and my boys!  Look at the fun they are having!  I love it and I love the fact that they do not sit in the house, playing the Wii, on computers, on those little thumb computer things, or whining!  Exploring, skateboarding, dump truck sledding…all things my kids love.  Also, they like to ride bikes, play in the dirt, and climb trees.  They also LOVE to read books and play with Legos.  Days like this makes me thankful that we do not have cable or any tv, other than movies.  I am blessed!


Who Needs a Sled and SnowWho Needs a Sled and SnowWho Needs a Sled and Snow