Turning the big 4-0

Terribly sorry that I have been out of pocket for several months. I don’t really have an excuse, wish I did. Life just happened! During the time of my absence, I turned 40!! I am a child of the 70s…barely, but I am still a 70s baby!

I realize that many people see 40 as a dreadful age and get very grim about it. I, however, am choosing to make my forties my best decade yet! I don’t really know why anyone would want to go back. Each decade has brought about its own unique benefits and challenges. My twenties were unsure. Being an adult, but still really knowing very little about life. In my twenties, I got married, finished college, worked three teaching jobs, we bought our first house, and I had my first two babies!! It was exciting, challenging, and full of changes. The twenties were a time a making my own way and figuring out what “our” way was and wading through the advice of all the “well-meaning” people. Along came my 30’s and I remember thinking: “I am now an adult!” I didn’t care what other people thought. I had two more babies, but we’d done this before. My husband and I decided to homeschool our children, I quit my job, we bought our first minivan, remodeled our home, we took guardianship of our fifth child, and my husband went back to school. I became more confident in my choices, who I was, and how we were doing things. I didn’t think about what other people thought about our choices. I got used to people looking at us funny and wondering why we had so many kids and why they weren’t in school. In looking back, so much growth took place in two decades!

My FORTIES!!! I turned 40 in Daytona Beach, Florida while on vacation with my parents, brother and his family, and my family of 7. It was AMAZING!!! We had a fantastic vacation! Peaceful, relaxing, exciting, fun….all the things that I want my 40s to be! Age is just a number! But the wisdom and life experience that come with it are priceless!! I am excited to see what the 40s decade brings my way! In the next 10 years, I will have 5 teenage boys living in my house. Who knows if we will adopt more kids? There’s no telling if we will move or add on to our house….there is so much waiting just around the corner. Life isn’t simply a journey….it’s an adventure! We should look forward to it with excitement and expectation. No matter where you are in life or what’s going on, change is coming just around the corner!

When asked if she felt a year older, my grandmother would always say, “Just one day!!”

Eula Mae Black

My Dream Car

For the past several years I have been researching cars that hold more than 7 people. Some women dream of BMWs, convertibles, and Jettas. I dream of shuttle buses! I can remember the moment that I saw my dream car; we were at a gas station in town and this large vehicle drives up.

All I could think was, “I could put 9 car seats in that car!”…..I was IN LOVE!!!

They opened the large, sliding side door and revealed several rows of 3 captains chairs. Curiosity got the best of me and I approached the owner to find out about this dream on wheels. The man said that it was a Mercedes Sprinter 3500. It carried 15, all of the seats had headrests, and it was 6 feet across….I was IN LOVE!!! At the time, all of our kids were in car seats and all I could think was, “I could put 9 car seats in that car!!” I began researching as soon as I got home. They don’t make the sprinter anymore, but I found the Ford Transit. I knew that someday I would own one!!

We have 5 boys. My three oldest boys are all very tall for their age and they will only get taller. My two five year olds are in 5 point harnesses still. Our minivan is TIGHT! There is NO wiggle room! The three oldest are on top of each other in the back and the two littles are both strapped into the captains chairs. Needless to say the fighting, whining, and complaining is horrible. They’ve done ok with the arrangement, but we knew that we were going to have to upgrade. After January, I started contacting dealers to have them look for a Ford Transit in our price range. There weren’t too many that seemed to try, so we took the search to the internet. We finally found a Ford Transit that we can afford and that had everything that we want. We will have to drive to Tennessee to get it, but we found it!!

Two weeks ago, we placed our 2008 Grand Caravan with 220,000 miles on it for sale. It sold Tuesday! We are headed to get our (read MY) 2016 Ford Transit on Saturday! I cannot tell you how excited I am!!! We will finally be able to take the kids’ friends with us to do activities! There will be be 5 extra seats!!! I am so excited!!! I know many people think that we are crazy! Of course, they thought we were crazy when we had four boys, AND when we took in another 5 year old, AND when we want to drive a bus…..maybe we are crazy!!! It’s a crazy that God’s called us to and He has provided the means to get my dream car! I never thought that I would see the day that we would actually buy it, but it is just days away!!

Picture of the car we are picking up on Saturday.

Now, not only will we have plenty of room for our kids, but we now have the car space just in case God wants to expand our family again. I know….we’re CRAZY!!

I am ProLife

It has been a week since I posted. Between jury duty and sickness, I simply neglected my blog. That’s life! Then I had time to write, but needed time to think. Social media has been blowing up this week over the newly passed law in New York allowing abortion to term. I have seen angry posts, excited posts, grieved posts….and it has taken me a while to process and formulate my response. Here it is.

I am ProLife. I need to say that upfront. I am a huge adoption advocate. When I heard about the new law, I waited for the anger to come….but it never did. I have watched the videos and read others’ responses, I expected the anger to come, but it didn’t. When I watched the video of the jubilant signing, all I felt at first, honestly, was numbness. I just felt numb. I felt numb all week.

In this country alone, we have approximately 500,000 children in foster care. In the world, there are 153 million orphans!

The more I processed, the sadder I felt. I grieved for the babies that would never know love or a gentle embrace. The ones who would never find their purpose or experience life. I grieved for the moms, who will experience emotions and consequences that they probably aren’t prepared for. I grieved for the judgement they most likely will experience from family and community. I grieved for those who signed this law, because they don’t even realize what they are doing. Then I got angry.

I became angry. You see, I am ProLife, and I believe that as a Christian, Christians should be ProLife. ProLife means that I am Pro life in the womb, I am Pro adoption, I am Pro elderly, I am Pro mentally and physically disabled people, I am Pro taking care of the orphans, I am Pro helping the homeless. I am angry because I know so many Christians who will rage in anger at abortion. My question is: What are you doing about it? In this country alone, we have approximately 500,000 children in foster care. In the world, there are 153 million orphans! What are the self proclaimed ProLife doing about this?? Are we taking in the abandoned, are we adopting the orphans? Are we mentoring the fatherless? Showing love to the unlovable? That is what we are commanded to do! We, as the CHURCH, are commanded to stand in the gap for those who have no one just as Christ stands in the gap for us!

Love requires us to inconvenience ourselves, to make ourselves vulnerable to hurt and ridicule.

LOVE is a VERB!! It is a word that calls for action! It is a choice, not a feeling. Love requires us to inconvenience ourselves, to make ourselves vulnerable to hurt and ridicule. It requires us to reach out to those we don’t want to reach out to. It requires us to love those we would rather despise. Some of my ProLife friends have expressed anger and hope for judgement on those who passed this law, I don’t think that should be our response. We cannot expect those without wisdom and understanding to act with wisdom and understanding. Instead, we should feel grieved for them. I hope that their eyes are opened to the truth. We should be fostering, adopting, mentoring those children in hopeless situations. But we become too consumed and focused on having a comfortable life, on life being easy, on giving our birth children everything that we think they should have. This is NOT what we are commanded to do! We are not promised easy, comfortable, and prosperity. We are commanded to LOVE, to rescue, to offer hope, to lift up knowing that we will be rejected, ridiculed, abused…then we LOVE again!! My question is: Are we doing this? Are we doing all we can?

We WILL NOT end abortion through the government and the repealing of laws. This will never happen. Our hope isn’t in the government and laws. Our hope is in CHRIST!!! Only showing people, the people who our flesh wants to despise, LOVE and pointing them to CHRIST through LOVE not judgement, will we be able to end this great sorrow in our nation.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. –1 Peter 4:8

Tidying Up

There are a few goals that are almost always on most people’s New Year’s Resolutions: one is to lose weight or to get in shape and the other is to get organized. It seems that many of us try to accomplish these every year and see the start of a new year as a good time to start. Netflix seems to agree with us and so they introduced a new show, Tidying up with Marie Kondo.  It is all the rage! People can’t seem to get enough of it. My Facebook feed has been full of people who have been inspired to clean out, straighten, and organize their spaces to “spark joy” in their lives. What choice did I have, but to join the masses and watch the new show? Which is exactly what I did.

Right away I was terribly disappointed. You see, I like to watch TV as an escape. I am usually multitasking while watching. I could be working on my blog, like I am right now, or checking Facebook, or playing a game, the point is that I like to multitask. Well, Marie Kondo is Asian and English is not her first language, so when she speaks it is usually subcaptioned. Of course, this meant that I had to do nothing else, but watch the show. I had to really pay attention, which was a little frustrating.

Now I am going commando and letting the girls fly free for the rest of my life all because my undergarments don’t “spark joy” for me.

I will say that Marie Kondo seems like a lovely person and she does have some truly good advice on organizing. However, when she asked the people she was helping to take a moment and talk to the house, thanking it for being such a good protector, well, she lost me a bit. It seemed a little like she was praying to the house; eyes closed, kneeling, silently thanking the house. Sorry I don’t mean to be critical, but that sounds and looks like praying to an inanimate object, which just does NOT coincide with my own personal belief system. It was just a brief moment though, so I decided to overlook it.

This is when we come to the moment where Marie decides to help the woman go through her clothing. She tells the lady to pile everything she owns on the bed. Then she is to take each and every piece of clothing and hold it and ask herself, “Does this spark joy?” For those of you wondering, “spark joy” means, does it give you the same feeling as seeing a puppy. Just going to be honest here, but at this point all of my underwear and bras are now in the give away pile, because they have never made me feel like I am looking at a puppy. Now I am going commando and letting the girls fly free for the rest of my life all because my undergarments don’t “spark joy” for me. You know what else doesn’t “spark joy” for me? Anything that doesn’t make me feel like I am wearing my pajamas! Let’s talk about the other things in my home that don’t “spark joy” for me: dirty clothes, trashcans, bills, sometimes my kids and husband! I guess I am getting rid of everything!! Well, maybe not my bed or my actual puppy…..and, of course, I will keep my kids and husband. The point is that everything in your life can’t “spark joy”.

You might be asking, “What happens to the items that don’t ‘spark joy’?” Well, you donate them, of course! But not before thanking the item. So thank you bra for always holding up the girls, but you do not make me feel like I do when I see a puppy, so off to Good Will you go! Frankly, I am not partial to thanking inanimate objects. I guess it is fine, if that’s your thing, as long as they don’t start talking back to you!

As my grandmother used to say, “I watched that show twice, my first and last time!” I really wasn’t impressed or inspired to follow any of her organizing methods. The only one I have agreed to try, is her folding method. If this will help keep my children’s dresser drawers straight, then I will adopt it. If not, I won’t be wasting the extra time it takes to fold things the MarieKon way!

Exactness and neatness in moderation is a virtue, but carried to extremes narrows the mind. –Fancois Fenelon

Is the Cup Half Full?

*Disclaimer* If you are a male reader, proceed with caution. Highly female topic ahead!

Sitting around with some of my female friends, we started talking about men. One of my friends was telling us that she had a friend whose teenage son would do some of the grocery shopping and would even pick up feminine hygiene products for her and his sisters. This is super mature of her son, especially considering that many of the husbands wouldn’t buy them. My friend in fact was saying that in the more than two decades she has been married, her husband still won’t buy them for her. It was at this point that one of my girlfriends said, “That’s why you should just use the cup. Then you don’t have to buy tampons at all.” She, of course, means the menstrual cup.

At this point, we aren’t talking about a slight, embarrassing leak, but instead a front row seat to a MURDER SCENE!!!

Now this isn’t the first time I have heard about the cup, but frankly, the idea of using one is so far out of what I can possibly imagine that I just can’t entertain the idea. Yes, I know that there are many health benefits, but hear me out.

  • First, the level of comfort that you have to have with your own body is a level of comfort that I do NOT have. I understand that there is nothing dirty or wrong with my body so hold your comments, but still. I. Don’t. Have. It.
  • Second, there has to be a learning curve. Just like with all the other feminine products, there has to be a time period where you just don’t do it correctly. We all have that, “When I first used a tampon” story where we did it entirely wrong. Whether it was you didn’t get it in far enough or you left the plastic applicator in, we all have that story. I do not have the time to stay home and learn to use a menstrual cup. Life is just too busy.
  • Third, getting down to the true nightmare, we have all had those times when whatever we are using leaks. Although embarrassing, it is usually only slight. Everyone has that nightmare story of when you were in jr. high, high school, on a date and you stood up in your khaki shorts only to have everyone or your special someone see that there was a little blood on your pants. Now, imagine that it is a cup; a cup that somehow manages to spill…inside of you. At this point, we aren’t talking about a slight, embarrassing leak, but instead a front row seat to a MURDER SCENE!!! Can you imagine the horribleness of that amount of blood and liquid suddenly being unleashed in your nether regions?!?!?! My two friends, who evidently use these cups, assure me that there is no way that this cup can suddenly spill. Do I really want to take their word for it?? No! What if you have a violent sneezing attack or ride a roller coaster that goes upside down or feel the need to break out in cart wheels and the splits??? Instant murder scene. Can you promise me that this thing will NEVER, EVER spill?? Not buying it!
  • Fourth, imagine having to deal with this thing in a public restroom! You walk into the stall to take care of things and emerge looking like you just finished a surgery! Perhaps as long as you are alone, this wouldn’t be an issue. What if you have children that have to accompany you? Or if the bathroom is simply crowded. I can only imagine the looks you’d receive. GROSS!!! GROSS!! GROSS!! This is so far out of my comfort level, we aren’t even in the same hemisphere.
  • Fifth and finally, this was one that my friend brought up and I had not thought of myself, how do you know when the thing is full? Granted, I know that this fits into a learning curve, but truly, do you have to shake your hips back and forth and listen for the sloshing??? I. JUST. CAN’T.

These are the thoughts that go through my head when I have considered, ever so briefly, using the menstrual cup. My girlfriend, who says this thing will totally change your life, claims that I can’t write a post about this if I am not going to try it. I say, “My blog, my rules!!” But who knows, perhaps I will get a wild hare and try it. It would make for excellent blogging material I am sure, although I wouldn’t look for that post anytime soon.

A woman’s period is like once a month her body accidentally hits caps lock on her emotions. –Aparna Nancherla

A Life Measured in Dogs

This is our dog, well one of our dogs. Her name is Josie, actually Lady Josephine of Barkingham Palace and she is currently helping me write my blog post. The great T. S. Eliot wrote the line, “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons,” in his poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I LOVE Eliot, but I, personally, measure my life in dogs! If you are a dog person, then you probably understand what I am talking about.

The great T. S. Eliot wrote the line, “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons,” in his poem The Love Song of  J. Alfred Prufrock. I LOVE Eliot, but I, personally, measure my life in dogs!

When I look back and think about my childhood, I remember by beloved beagle/basset hound mix named Nipper (don’t judge! I was 2 when I named him and my parents let me name him on my own.) Nipper was my faithful companion for 16 years. That’s right! That blessed mutt lived for 16 years! When we finally had to put him down, I was an adult. Nipper had been the pet that had been with me when I played on my swing set, when I got a new baby brother, when friends were mean, when I went through dreaded puberty, when I started dating, and even when I met and started dating my husband! As I watched my sweet puppy Nipper take his last haggard breath, it wasn’t just my childhood playmate that died, but also my childhood. Nipper was the pet that marked that chapter of my life. He is ingrained in most of my childhood memories!

After my husband and I married and moved into the first home we rented, it was only a few years until we adopted a sweet little beagle/rat terrier mix. My husband, who had never had his own dog, named her Posey. Posey was our first “child”. Posey was adorable! She slept in our bed and went everywhere we did! We took her to our parents’ houses, to hotels, on day trips. Posey was with us when we moved into the first house that we owned! She snuggled with me when I was pregnant with our first son. When our oldest was born, she LOVED him. He would feed her from his high chair and they were the best of friends…that is until he became mobile. She didn’t love him very much after that. In fact, Posey in her senior years didn’t love any of our kids. She preferred to hang out in the basement until they went to bed, then she would come up and hang out with us. We lost Posey this fall. My husband and I both wept like babies. It was sincerely a hard loss. She had been through so much of life with us. And another chapter closed.

Nessie the big brown dog that we had when I lived at home and Posey our adorable little puppy.

Before Posey died, about three years ago, we adopted a perfect dog named Jack-Jack. We adopted Jack for our boys. I thought that they needed a dog that was young enough to romp and play with them. Jack-Jack is a big dog! He is part Shepherd and part lab, a perfect mix if you ask me! Jack is as close to perfect a dog as I have ever met! We adopted him at 6 months old and he came potty trained. He LOVED our boys right away! He will fetch a ball as many times as you will throw it! Jack is often found curled up with someone in the recliner or couch. He thinks he is a giant lap dog.

Jack loves to take walks and is gentle enough that my youngest has been able to hold his leash since he was three. Jack never pulled him down! Jack is a great watch dog and lets us know right away if anything sounds out of place in the house or if someone happens to drive into the driveway. He is a smart dog and has learned commands without much training at all. Jack is the dog of my sons’ childhoods. He is the dog that my children will mark their childhoods by. He is the dog that I will mark their childhoods by.

Our youngest walking Jack-Jack when he was just three.

Josie is our newest dog. We added her in July when Tim and I decided that our boys needed to experience a puppy. Josie is the only pure bred dog we have ever had. She is a blue heeler, except that she is almost completely white. Josie is the bratty little sister of the pack! She is spunky and feisty and has been difficult to potty train, but she is another dog that will mark the childhood chapter of my children. When they look back at their childhood, Jack and Josie will be in most of their memories!

It isn’t just the dog that we are grieving, but also the chapter of our lives that the beloved pet marks.

If you have ever had to say good-bye to a beloved puppy companion, you know that the pain and sorrow are serious. The grief can be crippling and deep. It can mirror the grief we feel when we lose a friend or family member. Non-dog people will not understand the depth of that grief. It isn’t just the dog that we are grieving, but also the chapter of our lives that the beloved pet marks.

I have had many pups: Nipper, Rory, Nessie, Posey, Tilly, Dixie, Penny, Jack-Jack, Bailey and Lady Josephine. Each one of these pups holds a special place in my memory. They each mark a special part of my life. Seven of those chapters have closed. The beauty is that as a chapter closes, we begin to write another. With each new precious pup that comes into our lives, a new chapter is opened. I believe firmly that dogs are a gift to us from God. He designed them to be our wonderful companions and to help teach us about unconditional love! Truly, no one has experienced unconditional love until they have been greeted by the body wagging, tongue lolling, excited barking of a pup when you come home! What a gift! There’s no way that greeting can’t make any day you’ve had better!

My fashion philosophy is, if you’re not covered in dog hair, your life is empty. –Elayne Boosler

Sometimes Life is a Table

This past summer, my husband, Tim, finally made the table that I have been planning for two years.  We have recently become a family of seven and I wanted a BIG, HEAVY table that would not be moved by bumping. I had spent months researching and pinning all types of designs and now we were going to see the design come to fruition.  I HAD A PLAN!

There is a big barn on our property. Several years ago, we had removed some floor joists and I had my heart set on the table top being made out of those heavy, oak boards. Tim borrowed a friend’s planer and went down to the barn to haul up the boards.  Upon closer inspection, we noticed that the boards were one thickness at one end and a totally different thickness at the other end.

I LOVED the idea that my table would be made of wood salvaged from our barn!

This wouldn’t normally present a problem because we could just plane them down, but they were full of old nails. They were completely unusable.  To say that I had a high-speed come apart would probably be an understatement. This is the vision that I had for this table!! I LOVED the idea that my table would be made from wood salvaged from our barn! There were tears….lots of them. There was screaming and maybe even a swear word or two. See….this project had already had several snafus.  My loving husband ( I totally admit that I married a better man than I am a woman), had asked me what color I wanted to paint the legs and support frame of the table. I really thought that I wanted a glossy black, but then I changed my mind. Before I could tell him that I had decided to go with a different color, he built and painted the whole thing.   I hated it. I really, really hated it. I tried to keep that to myself, but when I found out that I couldn’t use the boards, well that information came spewing out of my mouth like a geyser. Of course, my husband, who had tried to make me happy was now completely caught off guard because I am telling him that I don’t like anything that he has done.  I was so frustrated that I did what any mature mother would do; I went to my room, closed my door, and cried hysterically on my bed. I felt horrible. My table dream was falling apart.

While I had been wallowing in my disappointment, he had been trying to salvage my table dream.

My loving husband braved my hysterics and came in and said, “ Hey, come out here. I have something I want you to see.”  While I had been wallowing in my disappointment, he had been trying to salvage my table dream. He had found some raw cut poplar that had been forgotten in the barn.  Tim had cut a few pieces and planed them down. The wood was pretty, but I couldn’t decide. I had been so sure, so set on having the table built from the salvaged barn wood. Tim, ever wanting to make me happy, simply told me that he would build the table and if I wasn’t happy with it, we would sell it and start over.  

My husband glued, clamped, sanded, hand planed, sanded, stained, polyurethaned, sanded, sanded, and sanded the table top until it was beautiful!!  I LOVED it!!! But I hated the legs. That shiny black paint just made the table horrible. Again, Tim said, “Let me see what I can do, if you don’t like it, I will rebuild it.”  He took the sander and sanded the legs and frame, stained the exposed wood gray, and polyurethaned them. They were beautiful!!! He fastened the table to the frame…..and it was perfect!!!  It wasn’t anything like I had planned, but IT WAS PERFECT!!!

That’s when God gently smacked me with a two by four of truth:  This table is my life. We all have plans for our lives.  I remember wanting to be a writer, marry the love of my life, have two kids, adopt kids from foster care when our youngest was eight, live a comfortable life, never have loss or struggles.  Instead, I became a teacher, I DID marry the love of my life, we lost our first pregnancy, had FOUR kids, are in the process of adopting PRIVATELY when our youngest is FIVE, we have a great life, but it can be hard.  

Suffering, hurting, struggling was NEVER in my plan, but in God’s plan, none of it has been wasted.

Yet, when I stand back and look at the project that we created, that table, all of the UNPLANNED aspects are what make it perfect. I think that when God looks at our life, he sees that what He has created is perfect for us.  Even though he has had to hand plane and sand away some of my rough edges. That has definitely NOT been in my plan. Suffering, hurting, struggling was NEVER in my plan, but in God’s plan, none of it has been wasted. It has all been used later on to provide comfort or guidance in our own lives or to help others.  

My perfect table that didn’t go to plan at all….reminded me of my perfect life that hasn’t gone to MY plan either.  I am grateful that God’s plan is ALWAYS better than mine!!

Life is all about how you handle Plan B! –Unknown

Welcome!

Welcome and thanks for visiting my blog!!  My name is Laura (La) Cochran and I am Queen of the Cochran Castle.  My first post is supposed to tell you who I am. I find this to be difficult because who we think we are is typically how we categorize ourselves:  I am a former educator, wife of a science guy, mother and homeschooler of five boys, animal lover, book lover…you get the picture. But who am I?  Before my five wild and crazy boys entered my life, I was an avid writer. Then came motherhood and I became overwhelmed and under rested. Life has a way of getting away from you and becoming a place that we lose ourselves.  We become all of the THINGS that we DO instead of who we actually are. Life has given me a hilarious, chaotic, and adventure-filled palette that I am eager to share with you. I am just making it up as I go and trying hard to make sure my kids don’t talk about me too much in the inevitable therapy that we all end up in!  Jesus, family, fun, love, and togetherness are the fuel that drive my wild life.

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. — KURT VONNEGUT, Mother Night