excerpt CHAPTER 13 – BOY, BOY, GIRL, GIRL, GIRL

…We now had five kids and two parents living in a 900-square-foot house! Although we owned the house next door for our office, we decided to begin an addition to our home—a second story. Cary was working on the plans, had started to build the garage, and was tweaking the upstairs floor plan before we tackled it in the summer. I went over to his drafting table to look at the updated plan and saw he had redrawn it to include a guest room for when our parents came to visit. He was away from his desk, so I wrote on the “guest room” plan: “baby #6.”
With our second daughter not yet a year old, us busting out the seams of the house, and barely able to pay our monthly bills, I couldn’t figure out a way to gently tell him we were once again going to be blessed with a baby! I went back to the kitchen to start dinner when he came in grinning ear-to-ear. How could God not bless us when I had such a wonderful husband who would have raised twenty kids if that is what the Lord had asked him to do?
Lest you think our children were perfect, I must share two stories from this era of my life which are seared forever in my brain. My parents, knowing we needed a break from our exhaustive parenting life, and also needed a treat from our sometimes painfully-frugal lifestyle, invited Cary and I to dine with them for our wedding anniversary. They came to town and picked us up, driving a few miles to the Cherry Creek area to a fine dining restaurant. We ordered any and everything we wanted, including fine wine, on my dad’s tab. Our second-born son, then twelve years old, was left in charge of the rug-rats at home. My stepson, our firstborn son, must have been at his birth mom’s for the weekend. Anyway, the kids could call us if there were any problems.
Enjoying our meal with my beloved parents immensely, we actually forgot we had responsibilities and a life back at home. As Dad was calculating the tip, the maitre d’ came to our table, asking if we were the Howard-McMinn party. Cary jumped up and said “Yes!” with a wide-eyed, worried look. There was a phone call for us at the host stand. After a long few minutes Cary returned, informing us we needed to go home to deal with a problem. Our son had explained to him on the phone that our firstborn daughter kept spitting on him and he couldn’t get her under control. My parents chuckled, and I knew they were thinking “Shari, you are getting what you deserve!” We left more quickly than we had anticipated, our return to reality sure and swift. Upon our arrival home, we determined the basal issue: our son, the responsible babysitter, had tied his five-years-younger sister to a chair and was taunting her, so her only reasonable defense was to spit at him….

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