Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Images of the Season

Before Christmas is too far behind us, I want to share some great pictures, or rather some decent pictures of some great memories.

Bethany (bottom row 3rd from the right) and Hope (blondie just a little to the right of center) in our church's living Christmas tree.

Some of the lights in Marshall, Texas. We went for a LONG drive over to Marshall (in East Texas) to see the lights and eat dinner with Shane's brother Scott.

Our local Christmas parade with three avid fans (it's all of six minutes long and mostly filled with ambulances and fire trucks).

A tired 2 year old...Christmas is BIG when you're 2!

Shane & my cousin Jamie at our annual Cousin's Christmas party.

Audrey in her Christmas dress the Sunday before Christmas. On second thought, she has about four Christmas outfits with all the hand-me-downs! She was decked out each Sunday of December.

My big girls...can you see the anticipation on Hope's face?!

The real, live Mrs. Potato Head is in the house!

Think she's getting enough milk? Check out those cheeks and the double chin! Just a side note of great importance-she has my brown eyes unlike any of my other children! Yay!

One of my favorite moments of Christmas. Jaika especially loves my 89 year old Grandma.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

This is my Christmas present from Shane. Yes, I finally got an mp3 player. I know all of you, except Luke, have one and you've had one for years but mine is only a few days old. I didn't think I'd use one enough to justify the purchase until I used my friend Shelly's while hanging out in the hospital. I used hers a few times at home before I reluctantly gave it back. I didn't realize you could still hear outside sounds while rocking out at the sink, but, lo and behold, when my children argue and fight I still get to be referee!

Although I've used it a lot the last week, mp3 moms have to be careful. Here's what I'm thinking, feel free to add to it:

It can't consume us. Listening to Nancy Leigh DeMoss teachings about being godly mothers does not trump our children's needs. Being available to our kids takes priority. Just know you're going to have to use the pause button frequently.

Keep it down. I can't lecture my children on the dangers of listening too loud if they can hear Chris Tomlin pulsing in my ears.

Keep it legal. A woman of integrity isn't going to pirate her music. Even if most of her church family does. It's still illegal because it's umm, like stealing!

Keep it diverse. I've enjoyed listening to everything from Tin Man Jones, MercyMe, Lifehouse, and Nicole C Mullen to Canon in D. I also downloaded a lot of (free!) podcasts from I've been listening to podcasts about homemaking, Advent, exercise, parenting teens, along with a few sermons. It's a simple way to get some good info in while doing housework, nursing the baby, or walking.

Keep it clean. This player came with some factory placed songs. Yuck. One was especially explicit. Given that kids get these players, I cringe. I let Bethany use my player before I heard the song. Thankfully, she's too young to get the lyrics, but it could have easily been her older sisters listening.

Keep it cool. I didn't like the ear buds that came with my Sony (they didn't fit) so while shopping for my super discounted Christmas cards for 2009, I found these red Skullcandy Ink'd beauties for a steal.

Okay, so the last one isn't too critical ;) What would you add or disagree with? Have you found a good source for (legal) downloads? How about kid friendly downloads for their mp3 players?

Friday, December 26, 2008

2009 Vision

I think it's important for moms, especially those who stay at home day in and day out to have a vision. The last year or so, I've had a vision for the year. Last year was Peace. I was in a funk emotionally and needed that peace. God showed me over & over last year much about peace.

This year, I feel He's prompting me to declare victory over some areas. I know I need victory over sugar. I would like victory over the details of handling our finances and staying on budget. I'm open to Him showing me more as the year goes on. This is not about making a perfect me in my strength, it's about allowing the Lord to grow me in whatever way he wants. It might be so small that no one else knows and that's okay, it's between me & my Lord :)

So, in keeping with this victory theme, here's what I'll be working on in 2009:

*Eating Fine in 2009 Challenge-no refined/artificial sugar

*Better Budgeting

Both of these will be spurred on by the Book Club I'm getting in on (see side bar button)-the first book is Your Money of Your Life. These books are cheap enough anyone can afford it, so go check it out at Simple Mom's site.

*Being on purpose more with the girls. Specifically: Ashlyn-touching more (it gets challenging when they aren't cuddly babies anymore), Hope-listening to better, Bethany-drawing her out more, Jaika-continuing to cuddle, Audrey-looking into her eyes & interacting, not multitasking.

*Stopping to smell the roses of my home-for me this means living more not just surviving. We have a bird feeder & new identification guides to help us get to know our feathered friends, I want to keep trying new recipes, and I'd like to do more crafts with the girls & maybe even just for my pleasure! (Denise get ready to come over & cook! I'm ready to get going!)

*Getting into the Word again (I'm not so good at this with a new baby!). I now own the One Year Chronological Bible, which I've been interested in for some time. Can't wait to get started-and I hope to make in past February this time!

*Finally, I need victory over my carpal tunnel. I've battled it for a few years, yet it went totally away when I was pregnant. I'm back to wearing the wrist braces but am still experiencing pain & numbness, which will keep me from learning some of the new crafts I am interested in. I plan to get a referral to a pain management doctor my OB uses for her carpal tunnel and if that doesn't work, I'm ready for surgery. I need my hands!

Does your family need Momma to have some vision? Does this idea get you excited or stress you out?

My Best Christmas Ever

This Christmas was a little different in several ways. First, Daddy had to work Christmas Eve night so he didn't get home until around 8:45 Christmas morning--way late into the day as far as kids are concerned. I needed a stalling tactic to keep them happy until they could open gifts. We set the table and had a nice sit down breakfast. You know sitting down anywhere other than by the tree is forbidden on most Christmases, lol. The kids did as well as can be expected and I was only asked 42 times when Daddy would be home.

Shane arrived just in the nick of time. He'd just heard about the pilots who send the kids who've lost a parent in the war to Disney World. He was so moved by this reminder of the sacrifices made for our freedom that he decided to lead us in prayer for those kiddos & families who were missing someone Christmas morning. I was touched by his sensitivity.

Okay so we opened, stuffed trash, opened, stuffed trash and opened some more. Everyone only had about 5-6 gifts under our tree, but there are a lot of us, you know!

Off to Mom & Dad's for a short gift exchange then off to my aunt's across town for the Jones Christmas (my family).

This is where the best Christmas ever part comes in-hang with me!

Meet my little brother Scott & sister in law Mary (they're holding my Audrey here):

Mary was diagnosed with colon cancer this year. She & I were in the hospital at the same time (different hospitals)-me having a baby and Mary having her tumor removed. This after months of chemo & radiation treatments to shrink it. She had complications and had to go back in for surgery a few days after her initial surgery. They had to drive back & forth to Dallas, a good ways from our humble little rural town and Scott used all of his paid leave. They were in financial stress, to say the least-especially since Mary hasn't been able to work most of the year.

Meet the gift box:

The family started cooking up a conspiracy to skip the Chinese Christmas this year and instead put the money toward Scott & Mary, without breathing a word to them. Throughout the day, people slipped cash into this innoculous decoration...

Meet one of the crafters:

Each of the kiddos in the entire family brought a homemade item to auction off. Hope is making a bird house, Ashlyn painted note cards with sweet greetings, Bethany painted a purple polka dot picture frame, and cousins made book marks, sculptures, a collage, and even a book! We all thought the items would go for a few bucks a piece, with the point being just to let the kids feel involved but they raised over a hundred dollars!

Scott & Mary didn't know what was going on :)

Then we presented the gift box to them, explaining that they are more important than gifts and we felt they needed the help this year. They were speechless, but not necessarily tearless.

I've never been more proud of our family. We didn't leave the celebration with as many gifts (our Chinese gifts are usually pretty good, especially for the girls-I have aunts that know how to shop!), but with a special memory that exceeds any joy from opening gifts. Scott and Mary left with almost $700 to help pay for medical expenses or whatever else they need.

Be blessed-I know I am today!
PS-Happy 30th Birthday Scott!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I had some sentimental, wonderful inspirational words to say here but in this current moment I can't get them to come out of my fingers. Audrey didn't sleep too well last night, so neither did I...and that's my excuse for this Christmas Eve post.

I used to think Christmas was a reflection of other things in life that have a great buildup then explode and are quickly over.

Now I think Christmas is like giving birth. See how they tie together?

No matter how good the day is going, there comes a time in all the preparations when Mom says, "I'm done, I can't do it! I'm going to bed and you all have Christmas without me." I know I've said these very words during the transition stage of labor and I'm thinking them right now.

Here are some other similarities:

No one can do it for you. Come on moms, you know your husband couldn't pull of Christmas without you. He can't deliver that baby either. And no matter how hard he tries, he will never really know how much you put into either one.

Both are beautiful things, but a lot of work. 'Nuff said.

Both are romantic notions but rarely do they go off without a hitch or two.

Crazy family members. Amen? My mom pulled my mother in law outside my hospital room window when I had Ashlyn so they could spy in hopes of seeing if she was a boy or girl. I'm sure you have plenty of examples of odd balls you'll be seeing today or tomorrow!

Hopefully, they'll both end well for you this year. Birth shows us so much about God-as we look at a marvelously formed new person we can see God's miraculous side and we again see his miracle of love when we ponder the baby in a manger.

Many Blessings today! Merry Christmas friends!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Eating Fine in 2009 Challenge

A few friends and I are taking a huge challenge to dump sugar in 2009. Yep, that's right, no refined or artificial sugar for an entire year. Birthday cake? Make mine with date sugar (ground dates) please :) Latte? Maple syrup only (really yummy by the way!).

This summer I was sugar free for about three months and it felt great. I'm ready to go back. The pounds just slipped off (even though I was pregnant and still gaining Audrey's weight, my net loss was about ten pounds). I felt good. I felt I was in control, not food. My girls would offer me some treat they'd brought home from Awana and then sadly remember and state that I couldn't have it. I was constantly reminding them that I indeed could have the sugar if I wanted to, but it was my decision. I will tell my body, it won't tell me.

So, want to join us? There is a group of about five of us who will leave sugar behind on January 1. We'll keep each other accountable primarily through email, so even if you don't know us, you can join in. Just drop me an email.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Traditions

Traditions add depth to families, they give a comforting constant.

Many families collect ornaments and enjoy picking out a special one each year. We do this too, but with a little bit of a twist. We choose one ornament to represent the most important event of the year-just one per year for the entire family. I'm glad we started out with just one-can you imagine how expensive it'd be to buy one for each of our family members ;)

I'd like to share our years with you today: The first 13 years of our marriage are chronicled on this wreath. The ornaments start at the top and go clockwise:

Our first year is celebrated by two ornaments that say "Our First Christmas." This was 1995.

1996-Pregnant Kangaroo, I was six months pregnant with Ashlyn.

1997-Ashlyn's first Christmas-a teddy bear on a rocking horse.

1998-We joined Bell Baptist Church, represented by a gold & maroon bell. This church grew us tremendously and the PRC was birthed from there.

1999-The call to start the PRC, symbolized by an ornament with John 3:16 on it.

2000-Millennium Baby ornament for Hope's arrival into this world.

2001-An ornament that represents what touched all of us that year-9/11. This ornament is an American flag heart.

2002-We bought our land in Sunset, which looks a lot like the winter scene in the country on the beautiful tear shaped ornament. I cried when I looked at this one this year, since our land is on the market.

2003-My first Christmas for Bethany.

2004-Shane's tassel from his 2006 graduation from college (we didn't find one that year, so we retrofitted the wreath after he graduated). This was the year Shane was laid off and returned to college.

2005-A gold ball with a Sheriff's office theme, for the year Shane was hired onto the department.

2006-Jaika's first Christmas.

2007-A karate chopping Santa represents the girls' new love for karate and their precious leaders.

2008-Audrey's first Christmas.

I would love to hear about your ornament traditions! Share in the comments:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

From Our Home to Yours...Our Christmas Letter

In order to be a little thriftier this Christmas season, we chose to write our Christmas letter on virtual paper. If you just found this site through the address on our card, thanks for stopping by. I hope you have fun seeing the girls and reading our thoughts and stories. Grab some hot chocolate, read the letter, then browse around the site if you wish. Hope to see you back here soon!

Dear Friends & Family,

At our house, we don't put a lot of emphasis on Santa but if we did, I can predict where our crew might fit in on his Naughty or Nice Lists...
Daddy, of course, would fall on the Nice List. He's been working two jobs all year, so he's too busy to get in trouble! The Sheriff's Department and his security guard job take up plenty of his time-although he sure spends a lot of time with many on the Naughty list :) Daddy got extra points taking good care of Mom and all the girls when Audrey arrived, so he gets a free ticket for the Nice List for the next few years!

Mom, well, she's doomed for the Naughty List. You see, it all started November 5th when she went into labor with Audrey. Mom got all dramatic...or was it Audrey...and they ended up in surgery for an emergency C-section. Mom got so used to the quiet home away from home and room service at the hospital that she decided she needed a few more days of it. She conjured up this plan to have trouble breathing and with excess fluid just so she didn't have to cook or do dishes. Good thing she and Audrey are both healthy now, maybe she can earn her way back to the Nice List next year. She'll have lots of time to work on it since she left her job this Fall to stay home with all the girls.

Ashlyn might want to take a walk on the wild side, but she's a true Nice List girl. She's Mom's right hand. Becoming quite the "tween" she's little girl and young woman all together. This will be her last year as a student in Awana, where she memorizes Bible verses. Next year she plans to be a Leader in Training. She's been working at saving for a horse and will probably have enough to buy one as soon as we move to a house with space for one.

Jumping from one list to the other all year is Hope. Most of the time she is a great helper, especially to her little cousin Adri who spends her weekdays in our home. Hope is an expert diaper changer, baby entertainer and Bible verse memorizer. Like most kids though, Hope flirts with the Naughty list when she stalls on her school work and chores...and bedtime...

Ahh, the soft voice and cute freckles that belong to Miss Bethany keep her far from the Naughty List, even when she begs to play with her large Polly Pocket collection instead of doing her kindergarten work. Bethany still has a strong shy side but is a riot at home. Most of the giggles we share come from something Bethany said.

Jaika-easy as pie: Naughty List! Naughty List and loving it! I'm sure she'd have it no other way! Jaika has caused her parents to put up extra baby safety locks on cabinets they'd never thought reachable by other siblings. Poison Control is on speed dial. Thankfully, Jaika is a lively two year old with a huge smile that goes hand in hand with a great sense of humor.

Audrey Shayne is just five weeks old, so she's hardly had time to cross over to the Naughty List. However, before she was born, she thought it'd be fun to play jump rope with her umbilical cord and she knotted it up. The Lord watched out for her and kept it from getting tight. She's so cuddly, I'm sure Santa won't hold it against her.

So, there you have it, the run down on who gets coal and who gets gifts! One gift we're hoping for soon is our land to sell. We can fulfill some big financial goals with that money, including buying that house for the horse. Well, it will also have more bedrooms and bathrooms for the humans!
Merry Christmas from us! May you always be on the Nice List...of course we all know Who's list we need to be on and it has nothing to do with Santa!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When I am old...

Today I was in line next to an older lady and she got me to thinking...

There are a few things I want to remember when I am old.

First-Just One Squirt of perfume will do. I also hope to have my young hip daughters pick out my perfume so I will never have old lady perfume syndrome. Oh my, you know that stuff doesn't come off kids' faces well! I cringe when my little ones are hugged by a perfume bather!

Second-Choose Life. When visiting with my Grandma yesterday, we were discussing our recent health problems (hers was much more serious than mine). We agreed it may be the scariest thing on earth to feel like you can't breathe. She said she prayed, maybe out loud, maybe silently, "That the Word says to choose life, so I choose life, Lord, I choose life." Y'all, she's 89 years old. She hurts all day long. No one would fault her for going Home, yet she chose life in the middle of confusing pain.

Third-I'll tell big families they are blessed. It seems the Great Generation is drawn to our family. We get stopped by little old men and women who happily give us proverbial pats on the back for having a big family. They usually have fond memories of lots of siblings. I love their sage attitudes about family. You know, those attaboys even make up for certain family members' comments that aren't so, ahem, positive.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Audrey Shayne

Audrey is one month old today. Here are some moments of the first weeks of her life...

She is a cuddle bunny so we tried to trick her into letting the Boppy Pillow hold her.

Milk faced

Got some Daddy love goin'

Audrey and her Great-grandmother on Thanksgiving-those are ballerina shoes on her dress-isn't it cute!? Thanks Summer & Season ;)
And best of all-first smiles saved for big sister Bethany. I love hearing their "conversations". Bethany was telling her about a big early Christmas gift Shane's family surprised us with.

I've been tagged!

Vix has tagged me! I'm supposed to list 10 things I'm thankful for and then tag 5 more people.

Here's my list:

1. My faithful, helpful husband who's always looking out for me. He took especially good care of me in the last month.

2. That our two last babies were born alive. Once you have 2 knotted-cord babies, it almost gets ordinary when they pop out crying. To realize that they were so close to death for as many as 25 weeks (in utero-from the time the cords probably knot until delivery) while I'm just going about my regular days is down right scary.

3. Borrowed baby swings.

4. Chubby cheeks all from mom's milk. Too cool.

5. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

6. Advent.

7. Lots of family nearby-and we get to see them all this month!

8. Generous parents & in-laws.

9. Steady income in an unsteady economy, along with a profession that isn't bothered by a recession/depression.

10. A Savior to celebrate and worship.

I tag: Summer, Jennifer F, Denise, Jennifer R, and Tonya . If you're name is here, consider yourself tagged :) You have to come up with your own list of 10 and then tag 5 more people.

Have fun!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Where are the dads?

Kerr, who flutters down the runway in a cool-shade blue lace low-cut bra and high-cut brief, sexy sandals with thigh-high ribbons and the coveted wings, took comfort in knowing her family was in the crowd, and winked at her mom and dad.
"My mom didn't mind seeing me up there in my underwear ," Kerr says. "I am 25 and it's all very lovely and like a costume. It's beautiful and romantic ... it's not like standing up there in my everyday underwear. It's a theatrical show and everyone is there to have a good time."

The above was from a Yahoo! article about what Victoria Secret models do to get ready for a live fashion show on CBS. I'm not even going to ask why we need to see this on TV...

I am going to ask where are the dads of this generation? Was Kerr's dad uncomfortable in the audience? Not that Shane would approve of his daughter being on stage in underwear, but if we were to find ourselves in that situation, I can tell you, we'd both be squirming.

In public, I've often seen whole families or dads & daughters together and wondered if dad got to weigh in on her low cut, see through shirt. Maybe he doesn't care, maybe he's overruled, I don't know...

I really wish men would stand up (and women would sit down!) and take their roles. Call me old fashioned, but I think there's a huge lack of decency in our society, and most of it could be alleviated with some daddies who put their foot down and clothes on their daughters (and sometimes their wives!).

How's that for a soapbox? Wonder if I just lost my 6 readers...

Monday, December 1, 2008

How about another epiphany?

I realized the state of my house is an idol for me. I didn't say my house (after all, a house with carpet square carpeting in the bedroom could hardly be considered an idol, lol), just it's level of cleanliness. If it's clean, I'm more at peace and I'll do just about anything to achieve/keep that peace, even at the expense of my relationships with my family. I wish I could get as upset about missing my quiet time as I do about another mess the kids made.

So, the last few days have been a little different. The house has been clean, but I have not been emotionally involved in it. I keep reminding myself that a scattering of popcorn on the floor after the kids have watched a movie does not deserve my emotional response.

Ironically, it's been a lot more peaceful this way. I don't need to yell at anyone for leaving out their dinner plates again. I can pass out consequences without the drama, it's just matter-of-fact.

I'm sure this idol issue goes much deeper, but I'm thankful for the wake up call from the Lord. It's a lot more exhausting sacrificing to an idol than to be sold out to the welfare of your family.

Be blessed :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

I had an epiphany yesterday. I don't think I like smoked meat. You see, where we used to live in Appalachia-ville, the seven adults had choices of 3 main meat dishes, 2 non-starchy veggie dishes, and 14 starches-including a bowl of canned peas and a pea salad. Not sure what happened to the plain canned corn, it must have been left in the refrigerator.

Over this dinner, Shane's grandmother told us the story of her latest visit with one of her doctors. The doctor asks her at each visit if she's passed out but doesn't offer an explanation to why she's asking. Alma finally thinks to look on the print out from the pharmacy and sees that passing out is indeed "going to happen to her" on this medicine, along with a whole slew of other things. Shane explained to her that these were possible side effects that happen to some people, but since she's taken it for months, she's probably going to do fine. She disagreed, saying she saw the list and knows this is bad stuff for her to be on.

But I digress-back to the meat. The smoked turkey reminded me of pork-which I don't like. It dawned on me that maybe it's the smoked taste of ham I don't like, not the ham itself. Alas, my brother in law loves his smoker and Shane wants to make one for himself, so smoked turkey is probably on my Thanksgiving menu for many years to come. (As long as there's some Appalachia style dressing to go with it, I'll cope.)

Over at my parents' house, I wanted to put my youngest brother in a smoker. Right off the bat he says, "You look good for just having a baby." Uhh, thanks.

A bit later he was whining about why Ashlyn & Shane like football. He said the family can't understand where Ashlyn gets it. I said, "She likes her Daddy and he likes football, so she watches it as well. And, by the way, it's more likely that this family is the strange one because it's not that uncommon to watch football on Thanksgiving."

Of course, that opens the gate for him to parrot my dad and say, "You know, growing up you never liked what the family liked. Everyone else liked drag racing & cars but you." At which point I called his attention the the fact that I am a girl. He pointed to my mom (who also likes cars and such).

Okay, so my mom and I also liked sewing, cooking, and craft shows but we never expected the boys to like them. I also liked camping, water skiing, and wading in the creek out back but because I wasn't obsessed with the hobby they were all into at the time, I get called out on it at every family get together. Does it matter that I was a fan of Shirley Muldowney and kept her autographed picture as a treasure for years? Apparently not, little brother.

I was pretty miffed by my brother last night as I replayed the day in my head. However, even with all that, I am thankful for both my Foxfire in laws and my family (even though I feel like I've been in the psych ward on One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest after we leave my childhood home).

Shane's family has been very generous & gracious to us. I've seen much healing in my relationship with my parents in the last few years. It's all good, even with too many starches and tangled up compliments.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Strange Happenings

Sarah Palin called today. We chatted about benefit options for our pregnancy center staff. She asked if the girls had read the article accusing her (Palin) of encouraging daughters to disobey their parents. I told her that the girls did indeed see that article and laughed at it. A few minutes after the call, I reminded myself that I need to buy a nicer jacket to wear to all the black tie affairs where Sarah & I will pal around.

Then Audrey woke me up crying for some breakfast.

Just as strange, but true, is the phenomenon of having my tree up before Shane's birthday (it was Sunday, he turned 37!) but still having my plants out on the porch. The weather is so warm I've not needed to bring them in. I think my artificial fir trees look a little funny next to my real asparagus's almost Twilight Zone-ish...

Happy Thanksgiving-may it be free of anything strange...oh, wait, most of us will be with family and that's a sure thing for weirdness to happen. Be blessed!

Friday, November 21, 2008

If you've been reading for at least a couple of months, you know we agonized over the decision to permanently limit our family size. I wrote about it in this post and had the most comments ever.

We decided we didn't feel at peace with such an irreversible decision and we began talking to my OB about other options.

Then we had our second child with a knotted cord. There's nothing genetic about a cord knotting, except maybe the extra long cords that allow for easier bow ties. We aren't superstitious or anything, but after Audrey's delivery we felt another baby would "tempt the fates" and that bothered us. (Please know we don't believe in fate, that's just the simplist way to convey the way we feel.)

One week later, as I was going to the hospital for all the tests that stemmed from the complications, I said to Shane that he needed to call his doctor and schedule his appointment-we were done.

My cardiologist confirmed this. He gave us a stern warning that this should be our last pregnancy. Any other pregnancies would probably result in the same story, and possibly even worse. That just confirmed what we were both thinking. Shane's appointment is December 9th.

So how do I reconcile this? With sound medical advice, it's easy. We were open to the Lord regarding having more children and with this last delivery, he shut the door.

It's a little sad to fold up my maternity clothes knowing I'll be getting rid of them, not just storing them. No more kicks from an unborn child, no more sonograms, no more tiny fingers & toes. We're savoring Audrey...

It'll be nice to look forward though, and move past the diaper bag stage. We've almost always been in a diaper bag stage!

Hmmmm, have I ever mentioned that our hearts have always been open to adoption? ;)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wrapping Up Down Time

The days between hospital stays was a lot like the week following Christmas-cozy & lazy. Shane was off, we had nothing much on the agenda, people brought us great food, and we sat around all day in our PJs staring at Audrey. It was really nice to have Shane home, with zero work stress. His fun side really came out and he played with the girls even more than he usually does.

Because of the complications I ran into last week, my OB suggested Shane take another week off to babysit me (my words, not hers). I don't like the idea of being supervised, but it has been nice having him around even longer.

We NEVER put up our Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. Never. As a matter of fact, for the last few years, I've tried to give Thanksgiving it's due after another Christian woman made the excellent point that we have so much to be thankful for and it's not right to simply use Thanksgiving as a launching pad for Christmas.

However, it looks like the red & green will come out tomorrow. We've got furniture to move and boxes to haul, so Shane thought it'd be best for him to do it early while he's still home rather than try to squeeze it in next weekend after he's been back at work. The girls are excited and I guess I am too a little :) I do love Christmas!

Things on my mind right now:
*What to get Shane for his birthday Sunday! I feel like Rip Van Winkle-like we've slept through the last three weeks. The holidays are upon us but we've been too busy with all this medical stuff to even know what day it is! His birthday really caught me by surprise.
*How to downsize Christmas-most of Shane's leave the last few weeks was covered with sick/vacation time, but not all of it, plus he is having a lot of dental work done and another procedure further south ;)
*Going sugar free again-can I really do it? One day down...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Link Love

Just stumbled across these two links and couldn't resist posting them here.

With a family of six females, we may be using these as stocking stuffers.

I was looking for ideas for our local newspaper's birth announcement for Audrey and came across these shirts at Cafe Press. Some are totally corny, but some are kinda funny.

I'd love to have more links for you but my tween is demanding computer time. Ahh, the joys of a big family-one sleeping in the bassinet next to me and another one old enough to have her own online life, lol.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It appears I've missed most of International Babywearing Week, but I can't let it pass by with no comment.

I've already used my new brown & pink sling with Aurdey. The day before I went to the hospital we did our maiden voyage and she loved it. I brought it to the doctor's office on Wednesday morning and was so glad I did. I didn't actually use it while dealing with the c-section complications at the hospital, but a friend watched Audrey for a little while the first day and the sling was a lifesaver for her. Last night when we were watching Lost, Audrey had been nursing forever, I swear. I got out the sling and rocked her and she was immediately content and soon fell asleep.

Before Audrey we had many babywearing adventures with Bethany & Jaika. With Bethany, I had a Maya Wrap ring sling that I had to retire half way through with Jaika because I wore it too thin to safely use. In the meantime, my mom & I tried our hand at making ring slings, so I have a small variety of ring slings-even one made of black silk for a formal occasions. This website was a huge help. At the very end of my babywearing with Jaika, I bought some gauzy fabric to use as a wrap. We tried it out once and she loved it but since the need wasn't there, it got retired to the storage tote for later use. With Jaika, we indulged and bought an Ergo from this site- the cheapest new one I could find (ebay Ergos sell for at least the price of a new one! Don't shop there for an Ergo!). We've used it so much, it has paid for itself a million times over. I even used it just a few months ago while on vacation-and it's masculine enough many dads are willing to use it.

Faves: Ring slings for nursing infants (the tail allows for modest nursing), Ergo for toddlers. I'd like to try a Mei Tai soon, and the coolest brand I've discovered is Baby Hawk.

Here are some actions shots of babywearing-enjoy!

Jaybird in the Maya Wrap Ring Sling at a children's theater's Narnia performance (2007)

Jay doesn't get left out of geocaching with the family!

Jay & Mom with the Ergo at a Renaissance Fair

Jay almost ready for a nap in the Ergo at big sisters' karate tournament.

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's Complicated

I've never had a single complication post partum, so I guess it was my turn. Monday night I heard a gurgle sound in my chest. I thought I might be getting a chest cold. The next day or so I realized that each time I would lie down, I'd be short of breath. Tuesday night the shortness of breath and gurgling increased to the point that I spent most of the night sleeping upright on the couch so I could breathe. I was scared. I knew I had fluid on my chest at this point and thoughts of congestive heart failure crossed my mind. With the fog that comes in the middle of a scary night, I wondered if whatever was happening would lead to my children not having a mother. Of course I didn't tell Shane about my fears until it was all over-he was not happy with me!

I'm not going to go into the psychological reasons for not going to the ER at 3am, but lets just say I'm a little neurotic about not bothering people (like my doctor, a grandma to watch the kids) and I didn't want to be wrong and humiliated when turned away from the hospital with a chest cold.

Once we got past my OB's receptionist who wondered why in the world I'd need to be seen with shortness of breath, we were told to come "right now" to the doctor's office. After she assessed the symptoms, she told me she suspected one of two things-a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs) or pulmonary edema (fluid around the lungs/heart). Hearing the word "embolism" is not a good way for an exhausted mom with a new baby to start the day. The fight to keep back the tears started. I'm not really a cryer, but by the afternoon every hospital staff I came across saw me sob.

Shane, Audrey & I headed to the hospital for a chest x-ray, CT scan with the contrast dye to look for a blood clot, an EKG, and an Echocardiogram. Audrey couldn't nurse for a while after one of the tests but we coped-with tears.

The tests showed it was not a blood clot-praise the Lord! Basically, several factors from the C-section led to my heart getting backed up on it's job to rid the body of the fluid, so fluid was accumulating in my lungs and throughout my body. My wonderful doctor prescribed 4 rounds of Lasix in about 2 days time, which brought many liters of fluid off my body. I was so delighted to see my ankles again this morning! My maternity clothes I had to wear to the doctor's office were pretty saggy when we came home today. I'm about 15lbs lighter than before I went in. Crazy.

So Audrey & I made our residence in room 4203 for a couple of nights. She brought many visitors to our room since the nurses on that floor don't get to see many babies. I bet they don't see many girls night out parties either, but we had one-complete with Mexican food, Starbucks, and girl talk late into the night!

This event made so many things more real. Life can change on a dime. None of us are exempt from health problems. All of us will have some event that ends our lives. I know that's a downer, sorry...

On a brighter note, we've never felt more blessed by our friends & family than in the last 9 days. Between Audrey's emergency arrival and this week's crisis, God must have tired of hearing our names lifted up to Him! Even though it was all scary, I took great comfort in knowing so many people were praying. On top of that, many people offered to help with the girls or to bring me anything I might need-one friend even stayed the night with me so Shane could go home and give the girls a "normal" evening. There were more offers to help than we had needs to spread around! We had many visitors who brought encouragement and prayer-I've lost count of how many times people circled up around my bed to pray. I'm in awe & greatly humbled.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Elisa update

Just wanted to follow up with an update about my cousin and her baby boy, Austin. Austin was born while we were still in the hospital, but I'm fuzzy on the day-either Thursday or Friday. Elisa got to go home Saturday and Austin is still there just getting stronger. He's currently taking two feeding via bottle per day and will gradually increase those as he gains strength. We are so happy there are no complications at all! Well, except that he caught his mom & dad off guard a bit and they have to hurry up and get his room ready!

Elisa is actually my step cousin, so we don't have a lot of childhood memories together, but I do remember she and her step mom (my aunt) took my cousins & me ice skating. If I remember right, Matt, who was then her boyfriend but is now her husband was there, too. Elisa was either a teenager or in her early 20's and I must have been around Jr High age. I thought she hung the moon. I looked up to her so much...she was so pretty.

Not much has changed-I still think she's beautiful, full of grace and joy. She's so easy to be around, even if we don't see each other for several years at a time.

Austin & Audrey also have more than their close birthdays and relatives in common-both were surprise babies. I know Elisa feels the same about about Austin-our babies are a treasure, a gift from the Lord that we didn't even know we needed.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Audrey's Birth Story

I'm going to start out with one of the moments that stood out to me the most. After being at the hospital for about an hour, I looked around and saw myself encircled by three outstanding women friends. They all had eyes fixed on the monitor, watching Audrey's heart rate in response to contractions. They watched the monitor, I watched them. I understood what the monitor was indicating and didn't really want to see it, but I felt a great peace watching Drs. Smith & Hollis and Andrea (our friend who's a L&D nurse) as they weighed the options. As Dr. Smith leaned in to me and said she was no longer comfortable just watching the heart rate drop and we'd need to do a C-section, the tears came and my chin trembled but I knew I was in a safe place.

Another memorable moment was before any crisis started and I started thinking about how many people had already prayed for me that morning. I am simply awed by God's work and his people.

Shane and I had stayed up watching LOST hoping (but not admitting to hoping) that something would happen. When the due date is past and you crawl into bed at the close of the day, it's hard giving in to being pregnant one more day.

About 3am, some random contractions woke me up. Eventually I decided to get up and move thinking it'd bring some consistency. I was washing dishes at 4:20 am :) Still without any textbook strong/regular contractions, I tried this, a tried & true technique for bringing on labor when the body is "ripe". Two minutes in, the contractions were hospital-trip-worthy. But they'd only last about an hour without needing more NS.

I went back to bed to rest and do more NS. The contractions hurt enough for me to wake Shane around 6. The girls had Pop Tarts (a rare food at our house) for the day the baby came, so I told Shane I was feeling a bit Pop Tarty and of course he had to ask a couple of times, "How do you know?". :)

I called my labor & delivery nurse best pal Andrea and asked her what criteria she'd like me to meet before coming in. I was perky and happy, so she & I both knew it was too soon. We chatted a bit more and Shane and I made ourselves busy with just being busy...he blogged and I cooked breakfast. That cracked him up-I'm standing over the stove and stopping every few minutes to breathe through a contraction. He was uncomfortable still being home so he threatened that if I had the baby on the kitchen floor he'd never forgive me, lol.

Around 8:30 or 9am Shane's mom came to stay with the girls and at 9:30, Andrea called to check on me. After hearing Shane's report she said to make our way that direction-although without the NS, there were no contractions. I would have stayed home much longer-hours maybe, which is important to note.

We casually made our way to the hospital, with strong contractions along the 30 miles there but nothing once we arrived (I was NOT doing NS in front of all the med people in my room!). After being on the monitor a little while, things got intense fast. I hope I can remember it all accurately without too much fluff...

Arrival time: 10:30 am. Dilated to a 6/7 which surprised me given the choppy contractions. I got my first epidural (something I should have done a long time ago!). I wasn't in pain or even having contractions but started to immediately after the med staff & students left the room and I started NS for a mere few minutes.

Audrey's heart rate wasn't rebounding after the contractions, so I was turned to my side (and my water broke on its own then) and given oxygen. It was getting close to noon and Dr. Smith was on her way. Once she arrived, the circle of friends occurred and the C-section decision was made. Audrey's heart rate was dipping and staying too low after each contraction. Something was causing her to not get enough oxygen. I cried but mostly because of lack of sleep and the quick change to the intense situation.

Shane made calls and went out to tell his mom and our girls, who had arrived shortly before. Audrey was born at 12:42. She weighed 7 lbs 14 oz and was 19.5 inches long. Moments after she was born, the shocked announcement was made that there was a knot in the cord. For those of us in the room who knew about Jay's, this was simply unbelievable. Two children, in a row, born alive with true knots in their cords. I still can't wrap my brain around it.

Her cord wasn't tight in the womb, so it probably wasn't causing the heart tone problems. More than likely (from what I understand) it was a result of a tired placenta not being capable of delivering enough oxygen. A live birth with a knotted cord is rare, two in a row are even more rare. All of these variables made for a strange birth story. Shane may have the best take on it-the enemy is against us, prowling around like a lion seeking someone to devour. Praise the Lord he didn't succeed (again) this time!

I was able to recover right there on the L&D floor as opposed to the ICU like before, so Audrey was able to join me and nurse. We were only there a short time before we joined family and friends in our room. Audrey & I enjoyed the resort, I mean hospital, for two more days until coming home on Friday.

Everything is going well at home. The big girls love, love, love Audrey. She seems pretty laid back, although she has some kinda thing for waking every hour on the hour throughout the night. It's hardest for me at night, when the simple shifting of baby, pillows, and burp cloths becomes a big ordeal, but thankfully Shane will be home a while to help out.

Thank you all who prayed for our family, we know God heard those prayers and answered them with a healthy baby!

Friday, November 7, 2008

We're home

Summer's post was so perfect! Thanks Summer, love ya!

We're home and sure do have a story to tell. We have some great pictures, too. Right now it's time to nurse & rest, so I'll report back later. Praise God for rescuing yet another one of our babies! I'll fill you all in soon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Right on Time....

Miss Audrey Shayne arrived today at 12:42 p.m., weighing in at 7lbs 14oz. She is healthy and beautiful. I will leave the juicy delivery details to Wendy, but she and Shane are feeling very thankful for their newest miracle and are once again amazed at God's grace! Audrey did have to be delivered via c-section so they will have to stay in the hospital a few days. Continue to keep them all in your prayers as they recover and adapt to one more little blessing. (I got to see all of her sisters too, and they were quite excited as well!)

Since Audrey was born on the 5th, I read Psalm 5 this afternoon with her in mind. The last two verses are "But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield."
May Audrey always pursue righteousness and take refuge in the Lord. May she be surrounded by His favor as with a shield....just as she was in her mother's womb.

Wendy's friend, Summer.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What kind of plant are you?

In an attempt to post something other than pregnancy talk, I've switched topics to horticulture. Hmm, sounds intriguing, huh?

As I was watering my plants the other day, I thought of my mums. Last year I bought a huge pot of bright white mums and set it at the edge of my shrubs. Now my gardening skills may not even be a good as my sewing skills, but at least I can water them (well, usually-don't ask my husband to confirm that).

My mums were beautiful (because someone else planted them, I'm sure). They did their thing and died. I left them in the pot, even though someone mentioned that if I'd put them in the ground, they'd come back the next year. This year, I pulled the dead stems out and refilled it (not so beautifully) with mums from Wal-Mart.

While working with my flowers, I thought about our spiritual lives. Are we annuals or perennials? Annuals have to be replanted each year, but perennials come back on their own. Do we only pull out our generosity and thanksgiving at the holidays? Even the world does this. How are we to be different, to be set apart?

We are called to have our spiritual fruit ripening year round, aren't we? Don't we want to be perennials?

I'm challenging myself to analyze my thoughts and actions this holiday season (which is on us by the way, Jack in the Box is offering holiday themed drinks, so it's official). It's easy to get stirred up emotionally this time of year. Would I act the same in January or is my "holiday spirit" simply that-for the sake of the holidays?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It Happened

The water broke.

Mother-in-law was called to watch the kids.

Admittance was made to the hospital.

But it wasn't me. It was my cousin, Elisa. My due date, her (almost) delivery.

She is only 33 weeks, so of course my jealousy is feigned. We're lifting Elisa and her baby boy up in prayer-doctors are trying to stall her delivery. Although this is serious, it's nothing like her first baby's birth, which occurred just after her baby shower-months too early. Thankfully all her babies are beautiful & healthy and we pray the same for this third one on the way.

As for me, I'm fine with not delivering yet. I am pining to lay eyes on my baby girl and to cuddle her. There is nothing else on my to-do list I want to do, nothing else really needing to be done before she gets here, so boredom is lurking. I'm looking forward to Shane's two weeks off and our break from school, but that's all. No physical issues to complain about. We get so see her tomorrow in our sonogram that will measure the health of her little home & placenta.

Maybe you all are ready for delivery so I will post on something else besides pregnancy ;) Don't worry, I won't be pregnant forever (or so I keep telling myself).

Be blessed-and pray for Elisa & her baby please.

ETA: 11/3-Elisa is still pregnant, they've stopped the contractions, given antibiotics & steroids and will now just wait & see. They're hoping for a few more days but since her water has broken, they won't do much to stop her at this point. They think the baby weighs about 4 lbs. Thanks for keeping her in your prayers, I'll keep you updated on who delivers first :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

More on Voting

I've just been reading some of John Holzmann's blog-he's a co-founder of our Sonlight Curriculum. As I've read his notes and books that are part of our curriculum and tried to stay up with him occasionally on the Sonlighter's Forums, I've realized how very intelligent he his; I respect him greatly.

I'm totally with John on this post. And this post with the singing kids is just you think they'd all still be singing if the lyrics included Obama's stance on infanticide? Yeah, go change.

I can not fathom why someone would vote for Obama, especially a Christian. Is that too strong of a statement? Even if you cut out all the other issues he supports that I don't, the issue of life alone should be enough to repel any Christian away from voting for him. The Bible makes it crystal clear that we are to support the cause of the unborn. Obama makes it equally clear he cares nothing for the unborn. These can't be reconciled!

(Side note about the previous link: It's from the website of a prochoice group. Upon first glance, his stance sounds nice and PC, but you'll notice he never mentions "abstinence" but instead is in favor of post-pregnancy solutions and comprehensive sex ed-which doesn't include abstinence, but instead pushes contraception-often misused in that age group anyway, and alternative lifestyles. Don't be fooled by the PC talk.)

I heard a good point-if someone is skewed on the issue of life, then it's very likely they are not sound on other issues.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Get out the vote

We voted!

Early voting ended today, so we finally managed to get out the door and do it. We have always taken our girls with us, at least the oldest ones. Ashlyn really wants to be able to vote, so Shane took her in and let her "help" him vote. Bethany & Hope went in with me. A young girl was in line in front of us, she was nervous since it was her first time to vote. Fun stuff!

Pregnancy update: I've had some anxiety about this labor, but it's diminished considerably, thanks to the prayer from some wonderful prayer warriors. My due date is 2 days away and I've just about come to the end of my to-do list. When we were expecting Jaybird, we purposefully didn't schedule anything near her due date. That meant we were sitting around bored enough to poke our eyes out for several weeks. I tried to avoid that this time...yet I'm getting the urge to look for sticks and my eyes are twitching.

The intense cleaning/working has started. Yesterday I made bread & muffins on top of making a crock pot dinner & the usual cleaning. Today I cleaned the kitchen really well and decluttered all my filing, oh and all that little junk that accumulates in the deep crevices under the computer desk-gone.

I hope this means you hear from Summer soon!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Almost There!

I was almost in labor last night. Almost. That's the key. I hate that word today!

At 12:30 am contractions started with a bang-every 5 minutes-and continued until about 3:30am. That's all there is. They stopped.

My OB appt. was today, so I at least held some hope that those contractions were making a difference. Ummm, nope. Nothin'. Well, okay, last week I was dilated to a whopping 1 and now it's a "1 to a 2".

My OB said that if I make it to next week (my due date plus one day) then my appt before I see her is for a sono to check several factors that contribute to the baby's well being. If all is well, she'll continue to monitor me like that until 42 weeks. If we go that far, we might have to resort to something like this (sorry, Shane is a poor influence on me-I stole it from his blog)

Shane & I went to the appt today, and out for lunch afterwards sans kids, in faith that this would be our last chance for a childless date for a while. Here's hoping!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Crafty Wendy

Ashlyn said I've been "crafty" lately...I think I get this way before a baby comes. My first on-my-own sewing attempt was right before she was born. I wrestled with a Noah's Ark wall hanging that I sandwiched & sewed together incorrectly several times before getting all the layers in the right order. I'm not much better at sewing now, but I can sew a straight seam-after I've ripped it out several times!

I made this sling and bag out of some clearance fabric ($1.25 a yard) I found online. In all the thrifty excitement, I didn't think about the print being so out of season. I worked on the bag and the sling the week my Grandma was in the hospital. It served to burn off some nervous energy. I put them away for the spring, so I had to have something for this season, right?

I went online again and found the pink & brown print (not as cheap, unfortunately) to go with the brown I already had. I sewed this bag & sling up Wednesday & last night. I messed up the handle and had to go back and fix it, then my machine started acting up so it's not as nice as I'd like it, but it's DONE (hint, hint, Audrey, you can come anytime now, everything is ready!).

We had another craft bite the dust this week. We were going to make birdfeeders out of pinecones, peanut butter & bird seed. Well, we got all the supplies out and Ashlyn rather excitedly told me the birdseed was moving! It was full of weevils! I hadn't thought of weevils since my Grandma served us cereal full of them when we were kids (buying in bulk for the occasional grandkid meals has it's low points, I suppose).

Signing out,
Seam Ripper

Friday, October 24, 2008

Meet Summer

This is my friend Summer. She blogs here-not often enough for us, but when she does, it's very good. I hope she'll be posting over here soon since her job is to update you all about labor & delivery once it starts. Again, I hope it's really, really soon. Today my ribs started rebelling against this baby in earnest. I am too short to be this pregnant...

God's Faithfulness

Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself (Exploring the Fruits of the Spirit) group Bible study has been so rich for me. I plan to study it all over again, really mulling over the parts I feel God is trying to get through to me (let's just say there's A LOT for me to chew on!).

This last week was about faithfulness. Really, I don't feel I struggle with having faith. I'm kinda simple-God said it, that's all there is to it. Let's move on.

Yet this study really hit home with the anxiety I have had about a possible C-section. It's not about how much faith I have, but how faithful God is to me (and you!).

We studied about Paul's shipwreck in Acts 27 & 28. In this passage we see God's will being brought through a scary life or death turn of events. In order for God to get the glory, the ship had to run aground.

Let's get this out there, in case you missed it, I don't want a C-section. Not one bit. I could take up the position of "faith" saying I know I won't have to have one but that's not truth. I've HAD one. People have them all the time. There is nothing evil here the Lord must save me from. My feelings against a C-section can not be taken as fact. My thoughts are not his thoughts after all. Just because I don't want one that doesn't mean He doesn't have a bigger picture in mind for me.

Deliverance does not mean ease. He can delivery me from this situation in any way he wants. I may have another C-section. I may not. Either way, I want him to have the glory. I just need his peace (which I feel like I have now).

An interesting point Beth brought out is that not every Bible promise to every person applies to us today. I have thought this for years but I continue to hear Christians claim some random promise God gave to a specific person in a specific circumstance. She says, "We must seek His heart to know if a particular assurance is ours to claim in a particular moment."

One promise we can stand on is this: Our faithfulness does not equate with his. In other words, he doesn't base his faithfulness to us on our current faith level. Praise God-that's refreshing news!

Here are some other notes I wrote in the margins:

God desires to turn a weakness into a strength and that comes from going through not being delivered from.

If we feel defeated on a consistent basis, we are listening to the enemy on a consistent basis. (This one was very good for me to hear!)

The enemy wants to set a trap that can not be altered (Daniel's story of the law about praying to anyone but the king), but nothing he does can not be overridden by God.

He's been faithful in every previous crisis, won't he be faithful in this one?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This week has been a small spiritual journey for me-nothing huge, but I don't want to take the Lord's work in me lightly.

I started the week a little concerned about this baby's delivery. There were no signs of progress when I saw the doctor Monday. Since Jay was 13 days late, her cord, placenta (where she gets all her nutrients) and her skin were dried up like raisins. My great labor & delivery nurse friend, who is normally very laid back has begged me throughout this pregnancy not to go late again. Our friend who will also be Audrey's pediatrician agrees.

The problem is that I just can't have a traditional scheduled induction because of the prior C-section with Bethany. The drugs used for induction can cause a scarred uterus to rupture, which can be fatal for mom and baby. There are some techniques for getting labor started (breaking the water is one) but there are no guarantees. If the water is broken and labor doesn't start, a C-section is in order.

I know C's are all the rage, with some doctors allowing elective sections. I can't jump on that bandwagon. My recovery was hard, the incision was tender even two years later if I was under stress or tired. It would make my 3rd abdominal surgery and I'm not keen on all that scar tissue. I know some of my recovery issues were my fault-I rearranged my hospital room while Shane was not looking, so I know I must have done too much at home. How would I avoid that with 5 children to take care of? Not going to happen.

So, back to my spiritual journey.

Actually, I'll get back to it-tomorrow. The Lord has shown me some cool things about His faithfulness but I need to get my thoughts in order. I'm also trying to keep (get?) my posts until next time...

PS-I sent out an email to some prayer warriors asking that they pray I go into labor on my own soon, feel free to pray for me in that way if you're a prayin' kinda person.

PSS-If you're one of my local buddies who wants to get "the call" that we're going to the hospital/had the baby no matter what time of day or night it is, you need to tell me. If you aren't my parents/inlaws, my emergency ride to the hospital, or my babysitter, you won't be called until daylight hours.

See you tomorrow unless y'all's prayers work extra fast!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blog Links

Just FYI-I put Ashlyn & Hope's blog in the links to the right. If you want to read it and haven't already been invited, email me at

Shane's is also added to the sidebar, but read at your own risk, lol.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What I'm learning...

I feel the need to blog (you know it's just free therapy, right?), but my thoughts are scattered. I think I can tie them all together by saying I'm learning a lot right now.

From my sweet aunts (my grandma had 3 daughters and my dad-all the girls were here this last week caring for my grandma): Titus 2 women indeed. My anxiety level goes up significantly when called on to help an elderly person with anything medical. My shy side comes out fast. Watching my aunts gently tend to my grandma, especially as they were so kind to her when she was confused, was beautiful. I hope to be as good a caregiver to my mom some day, should she need it.

From my brother: He's younger, but sometimes way cooler than I am. Okay, he's probably always cooler than me...he's really into cast iron cooking right now and he told me how to season my cast iron skillets. I knew using the SOS pad was not right, but I didn't know the right way to clean them. When I mentioned to Shane that once you season cast iron, you don't really wash it, he was mortified. I was wrong though-you do wash it, you just don't use soap. My brother never liked soap anyway ;)

From Beth Moore: Sometimes I pray and ask God to reveal my sin with a yellow highlighter. It makes me feel good about myself that I am so willing to be changed. Uh yeah. Let the Lord work through Beth Moore and you won't leave feeling so good! If this study has shown me anything, it's that Paul was not the chief of sinners, I am.

From Oswald Chambers: My Utmost for His Highest entry yesterday was very good for a legalistic girl like me. Oh boy do I like the outside to look right-with the right religious activities and all. I was especially challenged by the "soaking in" part-like we are a garment set to soak. How often would we sit long enough, be still long enough to soak? But if we can check Sunday School, Worship Service and a little quiet time off our list, we think we're good to go.

From Shane: Our girls sometimes get a little carried away in their plans and schemes. I get frustrated being asked for the 75th time how they can earn money for this or that. Shane has to remind me that unlike me, this home is just about the extent of their world. Their ideas for activities that fill their little lives need to be nurtured by me...more of that Fruit of the Spirit stuff-thanks Beth Moore!

Whatever is going on in your life, I hope you're learning as well. The more I learn, the more I realize I know nothing-and what I do know, I will probably mess up! Can you identify?!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Just popping in to give a quick update.

My Grandma is doing better and may very well pull through this health crisis. She's still struggling a little to breathe, and is a bit confused probably due to the strange surroundings, the pain meds, and her lack of good sleep. Most of the time she's pretty with it and can hold up her part of the conversation until she drifts off to sleep.

My gut tells me she may have preferred to go on to her heavenly home, but I don't's hard to live in a culture that doesn't value it's elderly. It mixes everything up.

I'm trying to be home as much as I can instead of just hanging out at the hospital. The hospital is probably a little bit of an escape for me-adult conversation with aunts & family I don't see often is nice even under the circumstances. My girls need me to be home, though and I'm not really needed at the hospital-you know how it is in our generation, the adult kids haven't quite graduated to an active helping role. I am sure learning a lot about generous care as I watch my aunts take care of their mother.

Everything for Audrey is just about ready. I washed up her stroller that I bought at a consignment sale last week. Her car seat is ready by the door. Her cloth diapers are in but I've just stored them until I decide it's time to switch her from disposables. Our bags are all packed. I plan to get her cradle out today or tomorrow but I have to clean out a spot so I can rearrange some things and move it all around.

I've had some pretty hard contractions. The ones that stop you in your tracks, but nothing with any regularity. My doctor offered to strip my membranes this next week but I'm not sure I want to-not only does it just make me crampy all day but with all the family hovering at the hospital (not my hospital), I don't want to rush this baby here. I think I'll just let the Lord work until we're a little closer to the due date. If she comes on her own right now, I won't be too upset though-I'm emotionally ready though I feel fine physically.

Okay, over and out y'all! Have a blessed Sunday!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


My sweet Grandma has been on a little bit of a roller coaster since Tuesday night. We got the call this morning that she may be at the beginning of the end with congestive heart failure occurring. A couple of hours later the phrase "she may not make it through the night" came into play. Why is it only the night-we never say they may not make it through the day...anyway...

She's been talking to us, she knows who she's talking to and she's even bringing family colloquialisms into her conversations. Is there a better name for those? Those little sayings only a family understands. She wants her glasses on so she can see all of us. After I left this evening, I heard she and her daughters were singing hymns (at least I know she was singing in her heart even if she didn't have the breath to sing).

Earlier today I was thinking about my grandparents. Although they're all very different, my grandparents have left neat legacies for us.

My mom's dad died first, when I was in Jr. High. He lived out in the country in a house that was built into the side of a hill. His screened in porch was on the outside, but the further you walked on the cement floors, the further you walked into a hillside. That porch was the place to be for cards and home made hand cranked ice cream! The pond was always stocked with fish we got to feed with bread crumbs. Family reunions were a blast-camping out in the tents by the pond or sleeping on a cot next to snoring Uncle Bob! Unique, outdoor living was the legacy he left.

My Grandpa died two years ago this Fall. His wife is the one in the hospital now and we live in their home. He had business cards made with the Gospel on them! He was known for whistling those same hymns his daughters were singing tonight. He could recite poetry that has become family favorites (The Raggedy Man, anyone?). He was a craftsman but sometimes didn't think a project all the way through-like when he built the bathroom cabinets before he considered how much room the toilet would need. Anyone who's used our bathroom and had to squeeze their knees into the small space knows what I mean! He bought lots of items on sale, just because they were on sale-prune juice on sale! Yeah Buddy! He'd also sneak out and buy hamburgers when he was supposed to be on a diet.

My Grandma, who everyone has called "Miss Clara" today, is the prayer warrior of the family. I know her prayers ushered me into the Kingdom. She's been active in every way until Saturday. She knows all about politics, she's an avid reader, and she even volunteered at the Pregnancy Resource Center until about 10 years ago She taught Sunday School to Noah, I'm sure-well, not Noah but almost every adult in town! She shared the bounty of her garden and she loved a man who struggled with dementia till death they departed.

My mother's mom is still alive and living on her own in Oklahoma City. She narrowly escaped the Federal Building Bombing in OKC, she water skied until recently but can still tent camp and hold her own out on the lake. She raised a big family alone (she & my grandfather divorced) in the big city and is still very independent.

Not only do I want to pick up traits from each of these people in my life, I want to give a great legacy as well. When there's so many ways to entertain the grand kids (cartoons, the web, game stations, movies...) it takes extra effort to sow into their lives. My cousins would all agree that my grandparents sowed into us richly. I want to be that way with the future generations!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Just Plain Weird

Okay, weird may be the wrong word, but right now it fits so I'm going with it.

The Holy Spirit is just weird to me sometimes. Like today.

Let me back up. Last week in Life Group I mentioned that my typical behavior is to feel a niggling in the back of my mind, dismiss it, then realize too late that I should have heeded that pause. I almost always realize too late that it was the Holy Spirit trying to speak to me.

Tonight my schedule was double booked with a memorial service for a sweet lady from church and a Meet & Greet Dessert with a PRC Director from Bolivia our PRC helps support. I really wanted to be at each event but something kept telling me I didn't need to go to either one. I usually am motivated by a strong sense of duty, but even that couldn't be conjured up today. I just couldn't get a peace about leaving home.

So, I thought, "This is it, the Holy Spirit is trying to tell me something. I need to just be still and not make plans." Of course I didn't really be still, I asked God all day if my water would break tonight or if one of the girls was about to get sick.

Instead, about 4:30 I got a call from my Mom that my 89 year old grandma (Clara for you all who know her) was not doing well. She fell Saturday head first into her little flowerbed behind her assisted living apartment. She was bruised up pretty good but also sustained some compression fractures to her osteoporosis ridden spine. They were keeping her in the hospital to recover with pain meds. Tonight she took a turn for the worse. She couldn't breathe well, was afraid she was dying and later became very confused. It turns out she had a lung full (literally) of blood from the fall. They drained it this evening and she's already doing much better, but earlier in the evening her children were making those hard decisions about DNR orders and ventilators.

Now she's just mad at us for letting them "treat her this way", lol. By morning her thinking should be back in order now that she can get some oxygen in her body.

Am I glad I heeded the niggling tonight? You betcha. Will I do it next time? I'd like to say so, but really y'all, I'm so bad about it I might not. I feel like Paul-doing things I don't want to do and not doing what I know I'm supposed to do. (Insert positive, uplifting comment here...)

Blessings to you as you follow the Holy Spirit-hopefully better than I do!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Just Plain Rude

I'm sure you've noticed my blogging has been a little slow these days-that's because the rest of my life is so fast! I've really been getting some things done (ahem, nesting) like loading Audrey's chest of drawers, washing her car seat cover, packing and repacking our hospital bags and deep cleaning the house. We just finished changing out all of our spring/summer clothes so now we're just waiting on sweater weather. I got some great sweaters for about $1.50 a piece at a thrift store and I can't wait to wear them (of course the weather & my shape must both change first!).

In all this cleaning out, I had 3 large black garbage bags full of stuff for the local thrift store. I was dropping it off today when a car pulled up behind me. I am always worried about being in some one's way, so I felt bad that I had several things to unload and here was a car waiting behind me in the alley.

A woman gets out of her car and asks me about baby clothes. I couldn't hear all she said, so I asked if she wanted to know if the thrift store took them. She said, "No, I was wondering if you had any you could just give me for my grandson." I was a little perturbed and said, "Well, I really would like mine to go to this store because the money from them goes to hospice care, besides, I really have mostly big kid & adult clothes in here." Then, spying the stacks of disposable diapers still in my car from my shower, she said, "What about those diapers, can I have them?"

Oh my. Is that the rudest thing ever? I do believe I'm noticeably pregnant-is it such a stretch to think I might be using those diapers? And even if that didn't occur to her, is it ever appropriate to ask a stranger for brand new diapers you see in her car?

I am still stunned at the audacity. You can't get much cheaper in our town than the Hospice Thrift store, yet she felt the need to circumvent the system and get the goods before they got in the back door. I wonder what prompted her to follow me there in the first place-is she like an ambulance chaser-just with a thrift store twist? Too weird.

Okay, so there's my vent for the day. Count yourself lucky-I could be blogging about the aches & pains of late pregnancy!

Oh, and I know you're probably thinking about that poor woman who has a naked and cold grandson because she couldn't get the cold hearted stranger at the thrift store to help her out. There are a plethora of resources for her grandchild in our little town and if she's willing to chase down cars in the alley, she can find them!

Edited to add: one of my friends, who is much sharper than I, made the point that I don't have clothes for a grandSON anyway, so it's not like I could have helped her, lol.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Gifts & Frugality

I was just scanning my Google Reader before getting ready for bed and as I read D's thoughts on being financially skinny during gift-giving times, I thought I'd post on the subject as well.

Not only do we not have the fundage for big parties and lots of gifts, but we don't have the room to house the said gifts. We keep our kids' birthdays simple with family parties and a couple of gifts from us. Sometimes we have a friend or two over, but we still keep it simple. Oh, and we don't do overly practical gifts, but we don't do frivolous stuff either. We try hard to keep all gifts we give meaningful & useful to the receiver.

Christmas is a bigger deal-not that we buy more for our kids, but that it's even more important for me to keep it scaled down. Two years ago I counted up how many people usually give our kids gifts. Then I multiplied that by how many children we had at the time (4) and the total was about 60 gifts. Sixty! All of which have to go in ONE bedroom!

After she picked her jaw off the floor, my mom thankfully responded very well and has worked hard at coming up with gifts the girls like that don't take up much space-their favorite magazine subscriptions, for example. Last year she bought them each a cool beach towels-which they needed, but again they didn't take up much room.

Other family hasn't been so responsive. They have the strong opinion that kids need the thrill of opening lots of gifts, even if the gifts aren't especially needed, age appropriate, or in line with the decor or themes of our home (especially their room). I struggle with this, but I know their hearts are pure...they love our kids and want to bless them. They struggle with our minimalist giving so I guess we're even :)

With 60 gifts pouring in for our kids-more this year since Audrey will get some-what do we buy for our kids? Next to nothing! Aren't we terrible?!

We do some stocking gifts, and about 3 gifts a piece under the tree. The three gifts are of good quality, they are probably something the girls have asked for like books, games, or movies. I also try to do something sentimental. One year I did homemade aprons for each one, sometimes it's matching clothes...and then there's the Daddy Gift-he picks out one great gift, something like what Santa might bring. That's it-which is fine since even the stuff we get them gets lost in the pile of presents from everyone else.

One thing we try not to skimp on is gifts to each other. I know there are different ideas on this topic, but Shane & I have always bought each other gifts. We don't buy ourselves a lot during the year, so we save up those special purchases for Christmas. We still keep it simple, just a few items but with much thought and awareness of what the other one would be blessed by. We see it as a tangible statement of our love for each other displayed in front of our children. We all open gifts one at a time (at our home, not everywhere we go, much to our regret). We savor it and it takes a LONG time to do our 3 or so gifts each. We love it this way! We really want to see if the receiver likes our gift, we tell the story of how we picked it out, simply enjoying the process of loving on each other through gift giving.

So, is that frugal? I don't know...we don't charge our gifts, we try to use cash only. We keep it within a budget and we shop sales. We do homemade gifts when appropriate. We don't buy our little babies much-they don't know!

So, how do you do frugal gifts? Do you throw caution to the wind and do a big Christmas no matter what?