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Stalked by the Stork...a diary of raising twelve kids

Having twelve children is an amazing blessing and one heck of a crazy ride. Join us through all the joys, smiles, tribulations and trials as we navigate this fabulous journey!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Home

I don't know exactly when the change happened. I'm not sure when, or at what point we stopped calling Knoxville "home," and started reserving that title, with all it's ties and meanings, for Mascoutah. For the longest, Knoxvillle was "home." Not so much because either of us grew up there, but because that's where we met, that's where we married, that's where our first child was born, and that's where we always imagined eventually settling down for the rest of our lives. We imgained we'd become season ticket holders for U.T. games and take mini-vacations to Gatlinburg. Knoxville is beloved and treasured in our hearts, especially mine. I've wanted to move back since...well, since I moved away. It's something that has always been in our plans.

And then we moved to Mascoutah. Not because it offered anything remarkable or because we'd seen fabulous pictures or heard amazing stories or because there was oh-so-much to do. Truth be told, we only moved here because it was far enough from St. Louis that the price of homes was significantly lowered and that meant we could still get enough square footage for a price we could afford. And the truth about the town is that it's small. It's rural. It's not terribly exciting. Things close down early around here, so if you decide to go out to eat at 9:00...you're pretty much out of luck unless you want to grab some McDonald's. Well, that's not entirely true. You have one hour left to order a pizza.

Lately, our family has been at a crossroads. We've been contemplating moving back to Knoxville, or alternatively staying on in Mascoutah. I can't tell you how emotional and difficult this decision has been. As our mortgage payment has escalated, the thought of moving elsewhere has been attractive. And elsewhere would definitely be Knoxville, for so many reasons. We have family there- my mom, my two sisters, all my nieces and nephews. And Anna and Lisa are there. How amazing would it be for our children to live near all of them? I have missed living near my family since I was nineteen years old. Now, here was my chance, laid out in front of me. Albert has had vacillating feelings toward the prospective move. He has a great time with my sisters and our brother-in-law, our friends, our family...but he also has a sister here, and two nephews here. And understandably, it's hard for him to think about leaving them. The idea of Emanuel possibly playing football on the same high school field, for the same coach he played for was thrilling and fun. But Manny has played with these kids here in this town for years now. He knows them, so do we. New friends can be made, absolutely. But there is something to be said for the history established friends already share. There is something about having watched this group of kids grow and change together for the past five years.

At some point, Mascoutah became "home." Five of our babies have come home from the hospital to this house. It's the longest our family has lived anywhere. Last Thursday, I went to McDonald's for my twice daily ice tea with equal added. As I pulled up to the window to place my order, the voice on the other side stopped me before I even started, saying "Ang, we already know your order, just pull forward and pick it up." I can (and usually do) go into my bank with no I.D., no account number, no wallet, no checkbook or account information...and still get my withdrawal, because they know me, and not just me, but all the regular community members who bank there. And not just in a client setting. I see our bank tellers regularly. At the grocery store, at the park, at school functions. Our town is small, so that means all our lives are for the most part, interwoven and interlinked in many ways. Here's an example...Emanuel has a good friend, Timmy. We've known Timmy's family almost since we moved here. This year, Timmy's Dad is Emanuel's football coach. The gentleman who owns the gas station and convenient store we stop in at daily is married to the secretary of the older kids' school. Their niece is a teacher at Brandon's school. The little kids' Pre-K teacher is our neighbor. That makes Trick-or-Treating very fun each year. You can imagine how delighted the kids are when they knock and their teacher opens the door! The same bus driver (Ms. Gail) has driven Jackson, Brice and Alexandria to Pre-K (they've also had the same teachers). Our pediatrician was working at the hospital the night Mia was born. She saw our name on the board at the nurses station. Guess who attended Mia's birth? The vice principal of the elementary school reads our blog (she's a super cool principal). And our fabulous midwife who delivered Bree and Mia is also a treasured friend. And so is her daughter. I could go on and on and on but I think you get the picture. Our town, due to its small size is full of connections, ties and interlaced lives. Initially when we moved here, I hated that. Somehow, now I love it.

So, we mulled over this huge decision, weighing out all the factors and all the pros and cons- many of which seemed hopelessly equal and impossible to choose between. How do you argue "but my family is here" or "my family is there" when there's family in both places? How do you reason that you want your children to be raised near their cousins...when there are cousins they love and cherish in both places? The choice was horribly difficult. In the end, it didn't come down to either of those things though. Those things sort of took a backseat to what was best for our family and what made sense for us. In the end, what it came down to was that this town is home to us. This town is everything we want for our family, and for our children. It's small- the school district is comprised of two elementary schools (one is for the air force base nearby), one middle school and one high school. So when the 8th graders graduate from middle school, there will be no saying goodbye to some friends as different students will be going to different high schools....all these kids go together to the one high school there is. And it just got demolished and rebuilt this year. It's brand new. And our district is a fabulous district. One that we are in love with. One that we know the teachers and administrators of. One where we know our kids are loved and looked out for.

This weekend in Homecoming weekend in Mascoutah. Homecoming is big business out this way...it's basically a weekend long festival with carnival rides, parades, and performances and is meant to be a time when all the residents who have moved away come back for a visit. And they do. The kids were delighted to see friends who moved last summer back again for Homecoming. Homecoming was the deal closer for us. As we walked around last night, running into our friends, neighbors, our pharmacist, our banker,and many of our friend's children, it became clear to us that we don't want to leave this place.

As we drove home to put our small children to bed, while our older ones stayed on to enjoy the fair until it closed, we were stunned to see a caravan of police and fire trucks ahead of us. We watched them turn into the new school. The one just built. We saw the smoke billowing out from what appeared to be the new weight room...the one that Manny and his friends attend each day in preparation for the new football season. We pulled into the parking lot, where probably a dozen other cars had already gathered. There wasn't much to see, we couldn't get close enough. So, we ended up going back to the fair...back to find our friends to see who had information or to share the news with those who might want to know (See? We are becoming small town people with small town minds.) Even before we arrived back at the fair, which was pretty instantaneously, word had already spread. People were already talking, and texting and sharing bits of what they'd heard. And here's what I was startled to realize...the prospect of losing part of that new school, which our town has watched being built for a year now, actually stung. I was surprised to find my heart beating quickly in my chest...I was oddly more bothered more by this than I'd thought. It wasn't just a fleeting, "oh no...I hope no one is hurt," type of thing. I was more than just casually interested. I was invested. Emotionally. It actually meant something...something personal to me and seemingly to most others who were there. That school is OUR school and belongs to OUR town. Our children are proud of that building and what it represents to our town. The thought of someone intentionally harming it stirred up stronger feelings in me than I would have otherwise thought. As it turned out, it wasn't actually smoke pouring out from the school, but steam. I heard today, which may or may not turn out to be factual (rumors= another small town staple) that a disgruntled employee poured grout down the drains and this has wreaked havoc on the plumbing. Not sure what or if that has to do with the mysterious steam pouring out...but it sure did cause a buzz last night.

So this is our small town. The one we love. The one we just don't want to leave. The town we moved to planning to stay a few years and then move on again, because seriously, who wants to stay long term in Illinois? This is the town that our kids have invested an important five years of growth in. This is the football team that Emanuel has already become part of. This is the music department that is so important to Drew. This is the place that knows our family, our children and each of their personalities...the place where we can make a purchase with just the promise to pay later...no credit check, no paperwork. This is the place where any subsequent babies I have will be delivered into the loving hands of not just a midwife, but someone who is my friend. Someone who will know my babies long past the day they are born. This place is like a last vestige of Mayberry. Who wouldn't want to be part of that?
We are happy here. We are settled here. We are home here. Somewhere along the way, Mascoutah has become ours. Maybe it was the annual ice cream social held every summer on Main Street. Maybe it's the annual Sweetie Pie day held each winter in which all the local businesses give out free pie, and residents drive from store to store, sampling each businesses particular flavor of pie, and then vote on their favorite at the end (Ice cream day works in the same manner by the way). Maybe it's homecoming, or the way that the whole town turns out for high school football on Friday nights in the Fall (something I used to be rather perplexed by). Maybe it's just the security and sense of community that is fostered here. Whatever it is, We can't give it up.
That choice wasn't easy. Not even a little. But in the end, it wasn't even really a choice, but more like something that sort of settled on us...something that just is. I don't know if it will always be this way. Time has a way of changing things and none of us can know what the future holds. So, maybe there will still be a time for Knoxville. And that prospect is exciting too. For now though, home is Mascoutah and our little house made of beige siding with cheapo carpet and a patch of grass in the yard that stays perpetually brown, despite Albert's best (and often costly) attempts at fertilizing it. We are home. It feels good. I'm still hoping for the mini-vacation in Gatlinburg though.

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14 comments:

Anonymous said...

That would be a huge decision. Moving is no fun at all! Way too much work!
Christ went through all this for us, that we might have hope! Praying!
Isaiah 53:7-10: He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Prayer Bears
My email address

Debbie Moore said...

So happy for you guys that you have made a decision you seem so content with. I got a little teary reading your post, I felt your emotion and attachment sounds like you have made a great choice!!

Amy said...

I know what a hard decision that is! We're in the same one...great job vs great family support.

I'm happy that you were able to make a decision. Now you can be content and just enjoy your time.

Your house is adorable by the way!

Jackie H said...

Angie,
You should write a book!! Your posts are very engaging and honest. It's amazing to see how your family has grown. I haven't seen you all since you were here in St. Louis attending FMBC of Ballwin.... and you know how long ago that's been! Hang in there with the Lord and He will see you through all of your stressful days. You have 10 beautiful blessings to be thankful for! I will remember you and your family in my prayers. You probably don't remember me, since it's been so long. Look me up on Facebook. I'm friends with your father and sister-in-law.

God bless you!
Jackie Hibbler

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