Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010 6:40 AM, EST

It dawned on me the other day that many of you following our story don't really KNOW us! I so appreciate that you shower us in prayer and love, so I thought I might tell you a little of the STORY OF TORI that doesn't have to do with her abdominal, eye or prematurity issues!

I am Laura, Tori's mom! I am 41 years old (as of today). I have been married to Jay (46), also known as Tori's dad, for 20 years and we have known each other for 24 years. We met when we were both working at a country club, me in the front office, him in the pro shop. Yes I have been married to him for 1/2 of my life and with him for more than half my life! Tori has 6 older brothers and 3 older sisters. Yes, for those stumped by even the simplest math, you did add that correctly, that makes Tori our 10th child! Yes, I carried each of them and no, there are no multiples, I don't enjoy being pregnant or have easy pregnancies. Each of our pregnancies has been high risk because our oldest child was born prematurely and has hydrocephalus (a continue which prevents his spinal fluid from draining from his brain and requires him to have a shunt) and because I have had gestational diabetes with the majority of my pregnancies. My pregnancy with Tori was by far the highest risk of all my pregnancies! At no point during the pregnancy was her survival or mine a certainty, but God is good and brought us both through it!

Our 6 boys are Brett (20), Grant (14), Jacob (12), Cade (10), William (6) and Luke (3 1/2). We also have a beautiful 15 month old grandson, Noel. Our boys LOVE sports, especially basketball and baseball and are extremely competitive, both amongst themselves and when they play against others. They love PS3 and the computer. The current favorite PS3 game is the newest release in the Call of Duty series. Even Luke at 3 has his favorite website (webkins) and his favorite computer game (Backyard Baseball) and can navigate both without help. Brett, in addition to working 2 jobs, manages to find the time to coach his 10 year old brother's basketball team!

Our 3 other daughters are Hannah (18), Emily (16) and Sophia (8). Our girls have enjoyed dance and gymnastics and are all strong, opinionated young women. The older 2 girls both work and are often out of the house either at their jobs or hanging out with their friends. Sophia loves girlscouts, 4H, Sunday school and her monthly cooking club!

We live in Loveland, OH, a city about 20 or so miles northeast of Cincinnati. We have lived in Loveland for 5 1/2 years but have been in the greater Cincinnati area our entire lives. Jay is the youngest of 10 kids, all his siblings live within about 4 hours of here, I have one brother. If I counted correctly, my kids have 26 cousins, cousin-in-laws and second cousins. Both of Jay's parents are deceased, as is my father, so Tori only has one living grandparent, my mother.

We are Christians, growing stronger in our faith each day! I know that it is only through God's grace and the power of prayer that our beautiful daughter has made it this far! We are surrounded by a loving church family! I have never felt so loved, blessed or covered in prayer as I have in the last few months. God is AWESOME!
William and Sophia are both busy practicing for their parts in our church's Christmas play. Sophia even has a small speaking part, she is so very excited! We are all excited too, we can't wait to see the two of them on stage!

We are homeschoolers. We are CHRISTIANS that happen to homeschool, but about as far from the conservative, denim skirt wearing, long hair in buns, kids dressed in matching jumpers sew with my own hands, Christian homeschoolers that so many people envision. I don't grind my own wheat or bake my own bread in my solar powered oven. My 6 year old isn't studying quantum physics and my 12 year old is no closer to finding a cure for cancer or winning the national spelling bee than the Bengals are to winning the Superbowl. We believe that the world is our classroom and life is our curriculum and we LOVE the life we live! We didn't chose to homeschool to limit our children's experiences within the world but to expand it.

If they were to make a reality show about our family they wouldn't be able to air in on TLC, maybe MTV or VH1, but we definitely aren't TLC material. Our language is too rough, my children too rowdy, our friends too colorful! Our son was a teen father, our daughters free to date who they chose, our arguments are loud, our opinions are strong and often not politically correct, I don't spend my day with a smile on my face or gently reminding my children to not run through the house. My house is rarely clean and it certainly wouldn't make an issue of Good Housekeeping other than as an example of a "before" photo. I cook, but not well! The kids and Jay tend to have simple taste so I can keep them fed but a gourmet 5 course meal isn't coming from my kitchen unless someone else cooks it and drops it off here and if it is dropped off here it will most likely be eaten off of paper plates rather than matching china! Even with a large family, you will rarely find more than a day's worth of dirty laundry in my house, laundry, well that is my strong point! You never have to worry about having clean clothes if you live here! I do at least 3 loads of laundry a day, more if I happen to need to wash diapers. We go through more toilet paper in a day than most families go through in a 4 or 5 days!

So that is a quick peak into who we are and the family that loves Tori and can't wait to get her home. The picture at the beginning of the post is our annual family picture taken the end of last year, we are looking forward to updating it once Tori is home!

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