Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

Today is New Year's Eve 2008 - are you doing anything special tonight? Every year we have either gotten together with friends or gone to Morro Bay (for the past 2 years), but this year we decided to stay home. The boys are both sick again- Micah has an ear infection that has made him wake up screaming in the middle of the night, and Jaden has a bad cold that kept him up all night last night. I am fine with staying home, as I am not a night person and don't particularly enjoy having to stay up until 1am or so. But I do wish we were going to Morro Bay again, our refuge away from home, although it just didn't work out this year.

These past two weeks have been a flurry of activity, but restful as well. This is our first experience having "Christmas break" from school. Micah is going into week 2 of no school, no speech therapy, etc... and I have to say that I have loved it! Martin has had a good amount of time off, too, so we've gotten to spend a lot of time together as a family. We have had considerable less meltdowns from Micah, I think directly related to not rushing out the door, not going to school and coming home so tired. He has also finally turned a corner these past 3 days and has gone poop on the potty every time! Woo-Hoo! That is a major accomplishment in our house that I HOPE continues. It is about time - he is now exactly 3 1/2 and we thought this day would never come!

I was reflecting today over my post last year on New Year's about New Year's Resolutions. I had three resolutions last January, which included:

1) Go to bed earlier. Like, be in bed at least by 10:59pm (almost) every night.
2) Blog at least once a week.
3) Take an advanced photography class to boost my skills for my business

So, did I do it? Mostly yes to #1, Yes to #2, and No to #3. My photography business was very slow this year, partly due to my choosing, and partly due I think to the economy. I am very excited though that I was asked to do my first official wedding next month! It is a casual wedding with not a lot of formal shots, but exciting for me nonetheless!

Do you have any New Year's Resolutions? I am not going to make any resolutions this year, YET, until I find one I know I can keep :)

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Night and All is Quiet

As I sit here reflecting tonight on all the festivities of this past Christmas week, I am so thankful for my little family in our cozy little house.  The boys are snug in their beds, M is off to Blockbuster to rent the new Chronicles of Narnia (the first one was on TV last night so now we have to see the new one), and I sit here in quietness.

This week was both joyful and stressful at times.  Having an 18 month old and 3 1/2 year old makes for some really fun and laughable times.  I love this age, where everything is so exciting and new.  This was the first year that Micah really understood what Christmas was, and he was happy to celebrate Jesus' birthday.  Somewhere along the way he heard about Santa Claus, asked about him, and the story has just gotten bigger and bigger for him every day.  We wanted to downplay Santa as much as possible, but the little boy just wants to BELIEVE! :)  Tonight at my aunt's house, my dad came in dressed as Santa and Micah got to meet him and hug him, and we don't think he knew that was really his Papa. I loved the boys excitement about every single part of Christmas - from wanting to see every Christmas display at Target every time we went there, to gasps when we drove by any house with lights, to driving through "Candy Cane Lane" and hearing their shrieks with excitement, to seeing Santa at the mall and wanting so badly to tell him what he (Micah) wanted, etc... It was a year to remember.

The stressful part also comes along with the territory, as having an 18 month old and 3 1/2 year old is like having to transport an entire army. When we go to families' houses (multiple houses, I might add), we have to remember the diapers, wipes, binkies, blankets, changes of clothing, food (because of course they won't touch any food there besides chips), entertainment, a favorite toy, water cups, a portable high chair, and the list goes on. Because both of our boys do not have any cousins within 10 years of themselves, they are usually the only young children present. Houses are not always baby-proofed, and so we are dodging to and fro trying to keep (mainly Jaden) from breaking precious collectibles, eating someone else's appetizer plate, not playing in their toilet, going in private bedrooms and rummaging through drawers, etc... I probably make him sound like he's out of control, which he's not, but he is extremely active. After about an hour I am exhausted. Martin and I take shifts with them, but it is still a constant job just to get through the event. We managed to make it through 2 visits that were each about 5 hours each, and we have one more to go this Saturday. At this moment, in my exhaustedness, I just wish it would END!

Last night at the Christmas Eve service, I had to sit in the nursing mother's room because my boys were wanting to talk loudly during the quiet readings and solemnly sung Christmas carols. I felt sad, like I was missing out, in the cold and dark room with my boys, while everyone on the "outside" was cozy, warm and comfortable. YET, I realize that this is probably the only year that I will experience that. My boys are very young, at a tender but active age, and it probably won't be like this again. So, everything in perspective. Not everyone has a husband who is a worship leader and leading the whole Christmas Eve service, so understandably most moms in my boat have someone to help out. It was just a hard night for me; a hard week in some ways to try to enjoy the season while working extremely hard. So tonight, I'm tired and worn out, but very thankful for ALL that Christ has done for me, in me and through me. I'm so thankful for my boys, who I love with all of my heart. Even though it is a hard stage in life, they are worth every effort.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Toy Intoxication

It has already begun... my family came over on Saturday night to celebrate Christmas, and celebrate we did! The boys watched as my parents made trip after trip back out to the car and in, carrying loads and loads of Christmas gifts. Micah was trying so hard to hold in his excitement, and he waited so patiently.


After dinner he sat waiting as my sister handed out the gifts, and his excitement mounted as he opened each one. Can't you see the excitement in his face here? :)


Just kidding; I think he was in shock. But he WAS truly so excited about his new "electric guitar". I could see Jaden's envy as he looked on...


But then he got one too! Ever since they have both been inseparable from their guitars.  




At the end of the night, they were both sitting in mounds of wrapping paper and presents, and I could tell they were overwhelmed. I only wish I had been taking pictures at that point! It was almost like they didn't know what to play with because there were so many options. This was the first year that I realized how crazy gift giving can become! (But don't get me wrong - we are SO thankful for everyone who showered them with gifts they love!).

We went to my husband's side last night and everyone decided not to exchange gifts this year.  It was so refreshing and fun!  Everyone got together and ate dinner and then just talked.  A nice change... A few more parties to go!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Something Just Flu In...

Disadvantage of living in a small house: extremely close contact with each other.
Advantage of living in a small house: extremely close contact with each other.

This week we were all hit with the stomach flu.  Jaden first, then M, then me, then Micah.  Jaden is actually on round 3 now, poor baby.  I haven't gotten sick in probably a year but this one hit me pretty badly. Thankfully it seems to only be a 24 hour flu.   Since we live in such a small house, there is really no way of avoiding us all getting something once one has contracted it.  The boys share a room; we are only just feet away.  But because of this, we can respond immediately when we hear the first heave, rather than have to run in one minute later and clean it all up then :)  See how I'm looking on the bright side today?!

My entire family was supposed to come over tomorrow for Christmas dinner, but I asked if we could post-pone it one day.  Thankfully everyone could.  Tomorrow, though, I'm still headed out to the O.C. for my best friend's son's adoption ceremony.  I'll be gone about 2 hours, leaving the boys with Martin, and hopefully we'll all be better by then.  

Right now I'm thankful for:
-warm, cozy beds
-not being on vacation and sick simultaneously (the worst!)
-that Micah actually got better enough to go to his school's Happy Birthday Jesus party for 1 hour.
-that he is now exhausted and asleep from said event
-that Jaden is also asleep miraculously without his blankie which is in the washer
-a few moment's peace and rest :)

Have a happy weekend!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Funny Boy

Conversations with my son today:

12:15pm- 
Micah- "Mom, you are cwazy." 
Me- "I am crazy?!"
Micah- "Yeah, you are cwazy!"
Me- "No, you are crazy!"
Micah- "No, YOU are cwazy!"   :)

1:00pm
Martin comes in and says "Micah's Sunday School teacher told me yesterday that they heard a loud noise come from the nursery across the hall and Micah said 'How rude! We were talking.'"
(We still have a hard time believing he said that because we've never heard him say that, but he must have picked it up somewhere!")

1:45pm
Micah- "Can you put me to bed now please?"
Me- "Oh, are you ready for your nap?"
Micah- "Yes, I'm going to go lay down now."

What is happening to my child?! :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

It is Finished!!!

Normally I am NOT a procrastinator.  Really.  It bothers me badly; I would say it is one of my top pet peeves.  Normally I am on the other end of receiving the ramifications of a procrastinator, but I won't go into that :)  But this time, it was me.  Big time.  I procrastinated to the very last minute.  Since September I have been enrolled in an online class to become a Lactation Educator/Counselor.  I shrugged my shoulders and thought "Eh- this'll be so easy." After all, I did get my BA and MA, and wrote a 40 page thesis paper back in the day. But let me tell you, after being out of school for the last 6 years, it is HARD getting back into it.  

THIS online class (as opposed to many others out there) kicked my butt.  I had about 30 hours of videos to watch, 14 tests to take, 8 clinical hours in a hospital, 3 hours observing in a lactation course, about 10 long papers to write, and to top it all off, had to write a detailed curriculum plan for a 3 hour lecture on breastfeeding, complete with a 40 slide Powerpoint Presentation.  And yes, I waited until just the past 2 weeks to complete 80% of it.  This past week has consisted of me getting NO naps (not a good thing in this household), staying up until about 1am every night, and working about 6-8 hours a day on it, interspersed with trying to care for my children, get dinner on the table, be nice and kind to my family, etc... 

Anyway, all THAT to say, it is OVER! I finished it all!  In about a month I'll be a Certified Lactation Educator.  I learned so much through this course - I thought I already knew a lot about breastfeeding (considering I was the poster child for problems in that department), but I was so wrong.  Here are some interesting things I learned along the way (in case you're interested):

-Babies are not born hungry.  They are born full (of fluids from the sac).  True hunger doesn't kick in until about the 3rd day or so, right about when the mother's milk comes in. (You might be asking right about now "Then why do they push breastfeeding so soon after birth? Because after birth the infant has the highest need to suck, and this helps develop the nursing relationship, help with bonding, help bring the milk "in", etc.)

-Every mother begins producing milk between weeks 10-14 of being pregnant. Crazy, huh?!

-There are VERY few cases (less than 10%) of a mother not producing enough milk for her baby.  Many mothers give up nursing in the early days, thinking that they are not getting enough milk, but the baby's stomach is only the size of a shooter marble for the first few days (only holding about 1 teaspoon per feeding), then a ping-pong ball, then the size of the baby's fist around week 2.  

-Breastfeeding is often possible even after having breast surgery (including implants).

-Babies have a growth spurt around Day 14 where they want to eat a lot more, and many mothers also give up breastfeeding around this time because they think they are not producing enough milk.  In fact, most women are - it's just that the baby wants to eat more because it's growing so fast. 

-All babies have trouble digesting formula because it is made with milk proteins.  We are the only mammal that drinks another mammals milk.  Yet the fat content and other nutrients in milk help with brain development, so it is a better choice than soy.  Horse milk has actually been found to have the most similarities with human milk, but nobody really drinks that.  It is better to give your baby another mother's milk than milk from a cow (because it still gives the baby antibodies), but very few women feel comfortable doing that.  Also, 50% of babies allergic to milk (and there are only 7% with a true milk allergy) will also be allergic to soy. 

-A mother does not need to avoid anything in her diet while breastfeeding (unless the baby has a true allergy to something the mother is eating -  most often nuts or milk); in fact, the more spices and flavors, the less chance of having a toddler who is a picky eater.

I also found a terrific study done on colic, which found that when mother's eliminated about 5 known allergens from their diet (including dairy, nuts - including soybeans, and wheat), a significant reduction in colic symptoms was seen (lessening crying by over 1 1/2 hours per day). 

Now I know I just gave a ton of information with NO resources, but at this moment I am a little exhausted from resourcing info. (I just finished all of this yesterday)  BUT rest assured, I will try to post references later.  For now, here are some GREAT sites if you want more information:

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Results Are In

Awhile back I wrote about my theories as to why Micah has gotten sick so much, despite the fact that I nursed him for 10 months.  I started keeping a detailed chart this year of how often he was getting colds and I found out that he had gotten about 10 colds, almost all between August and now.  

Today we took him to the allergist for the prick test, and Martin and I were SO nervous about it.  I had the prick test done a few years ago and the doctor pricked my back with about 36 allergens, and it wasn't pleasant.  I wasn't having good memories of my experience.  BUT, Micah, on the other hand, did amazing.  The allergist was so great, I think it was one of the best doctor's visits we have ever had (besides the fact they made us wait a long time and we were there for 2 hours total).  The nurse pressed 16 panels into his back at one time, and they felt like the end of a toothpick.  Micah did not even cry!!!  I was so amazed by him!  He watched a video during the 20 minute wait for the results, and lo and behold, he has a moderate allergy to dust mites, mold, weed and tree pollen.  BUT, that is only half of the story.  

The doctor wants him seen by an ear, nose and throat specialist, because she believes that he possibly has large adenoids that have made for his repeated ear infections and runny nose. That issue would only  make his allergy symptoms worse than they would normall be.  He has to go in for an X-ray this week and then he'll see another specialist in the next few weeks.  

I still fight the urge to not feel guilty that I didn't take him in sooner, but Martin reminded me that he's only 3 1/2 so we tried to catch it as early as we could.  It appears that this type of problem runs in my family, with my dad, my brother and I all needing tubes in our ears and tonsillectomies at young ages.  I'm hoping that won't be what he needs after seeing the ENT.  

Anyway, that's the update; thanks to all of you who knew we were going through this and praying!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Cluttered Christmas

As I sit here writing, I'm surrounded by Christmas clutter. Every year I think I've had this subconscious goal to be done with Christmas decorating by December 5th. I don't know why I've had this date in mind; it just seems like the weekend after Thanksgiving is a good time to do it. That gives me a week to wind down from Thanksgiving festivities and then spend a few days getting everything out for Christmas. But this year, I feel like I am not even going to get to fully decorate before Christmas arrives. I think I've been more disorganized this year than ever, but I'm not sure why. Maybe it's having a 1 1/2 year old and a 3 1/2 year old, or maybe it's my online class that's throwing me off... who knows, but it is a tad frustrating.

Two nights ago we did get our tree, and then we decorated it half-way last night. Here's what it looks like right now...


We still have about 20 more ornaments to put up, and then everything else is just in piles around the house that I need to get to.

Last night when we were attempting to decorate, Micah found the Christmas "stockings" and thought you wore them on your feet. I turned around and found him like this - it was so cute!



And GIFTS! What to do about that... Well, I've written before about how we're not exchanging gifts this year (at least store-bought gifts), but I do need to MAKE gifts for about 25 people (my MOPS table, the entire worship team, the pastors, a few friends, etc...) I have a bunch of different ingredients for cookies but am not even sure what I'll make yet. Again, totally disorganized. One this week is over I think I'll be able to focus more. The good news? All my Christmas cards are done and in their envelopes ready to mail! Thank the Lord for Costco! :)

This week I am just trying to get through, and hopefully I can focus on my Christmas tasks after that. By this Friday, I have to have my Lactation Education class completed. I still have about 20 hours of videos to watch, 6 tests to take, and 4 papers to write. Oy- I think I got in over my head, AND I thought I could get it all done easily. But little did I know how much work it would actually be.

Tomorrow we're taking Micah in to see an Allergist/Immunologist. Please pray that he does okay. Our little man does not like to take his shirt off for some reason - he hates doing that at the doctor's office, but he will have to do it tomorrow. They are doing the "prick test" on his back to test him for allergies. I am nervous about it - hoping he will do okay and not scream bloody murder or catapult himself off the exam table.

Tonight we have our second Christmas party, and I'm really looking forward to it. A chance to procrastinate again (which is totally against my nature, but I guess I just have to do it) :) A chance to get away and focus on the "season" without thinking about the mess, the clutter, the to-do list, etc... I hope your week goes well and you can enjoy the season!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Funny Things

Micah has been saying some really funny things lately. I think I'm going to keep adding to this list whenever I hear him say something funny so I won't forget.

For instance, around Halloween time he kept seeing pictures of ghosts around town, etc... and he asked me what they were. I didn't want to explain it, so I just said "Oh, that's the marshmallow man!" Well, he remembered that very well and kept calling them marshmallow men every time we saw them. Last night we were baking cookies and I asked him what each one of the cookie cutters was. He picked up the outline of the angel and said "This one is the marshmallow man!"

Today in Costco he was bothering his little brother so I said, "Micah, if you don't stop it, you're not going to get..." and I stopped because I couldn't think of anything to say! He looked at me and waited, and then said, "Mommy, I want to get!! I want to get!!" I started laughing and said "what do you want to get, Micah?" and he just continued saying, "I want to GET! I want to GET!"

On the way home, Jaden was crying and I said "Micah, why is Jaden crying?" Micah replied, "Because he's hungry, mommy. He wants some jelly beans!"

He also says almost every day, "I don't want to do it now! I want to do it after later!"

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving

This week was...well, interesting, to say the least... Micah had his little Thanksgiving party on Tuesday at school. All the kids in his preschool came out with little pilgrim and Indian hats on and sang a few songs, and then had a Thanksgiving meal together. They were so cute! But we noticed that Micah looked like he was not feeling well; he looked like he would fall over at any minute, and his eyes were half closed. We ended up having to take him home early because he was definitely sick. So, Jaden and Micah have been fighting off a head cold for a few days now.

Every holiday I think I have an idyllic picture in my head of what it should be - the kids waking up around 8am, running into our bedroom and jumping on the bed and us all laughing together, then having a leisurely breakfast in our PJ's. This must have come from too many Folgers commercials growing up, I'm sure. Anyway, Thanksgiving morning our boys decided to start the morning off bright and early - 5:30am to be exact - and they went full speed ahead for the next few hours. Martin woke up with a bad sinus headache and a cold which I'm sure he caught from the boys. We drove to Martin's parents and tried to have a nice lunch together while the boys ran around and pushed away all food offered to them. We left around 6pm with 2 starving boys, and pulled off at about 5 exits to find a fast food place that would be open! Thank the Lord for Del Taco who saved the day :) At around 8pm we arrived at my parents' house, but I realized that I had left their house key at home and so we were locked out until they got back from their Thanksgiving feast. Thankfully we were able walk 4 houses down the street to observe Murrieta's version of the "Griswold Family Christmas Light Spectacular" - a house that has about a million lights all over it synched to music, complete with tours of the inside of the house and the backyard. It is wild! There were about 50 people watching it with us. My parents arrived soon after and we finally made it in the house.

We have discovered the past 2 nights that our boys no longer sleep well at other locations besides our house :) The first night Martin only got an hour and a half of sleep, and I got three hours, and last night we both averaged about three hours. It's been a rough week!

But... I'm still so incredibly thankful. For...
-Our health (after all, it could be so much worse)
-Our cozy home (that we are not foreclosing on since we are just renters) :)
-Martin's job (which pays the bills and he has not been laid off)
-Our dear friends (who are like family to us)
-Our family
-Our beautiful boys
and so much more...

I hope you had a wonderful, exciting, and adventurous Thanksgiving as well!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dear Jaden (18 Months)

Dear Jaden,
This week you turned 18 months old. I can hardly believe that at this time last year you were only 6 months old. We had just taken pictures for Christmas. Oh, the cuteness!!



And this is you now at our latest photo session, in which you smiled little but were full of energy!


So much has happened this year in your little life. Your personality is now showing and shining in full-force. You are a charmer, that’s for sure. We are sure you will one day be the class clown. Everything goes on your head, especially when you know it will get a good laugh.





You love to make people laugh. You wave at everyone walking by, and you follow every little girl on the playground. Their moms laugh, while I giggle embarrassingly knowing that you are following in your father’s footsteps ☺

(yes, that is drool!)

You love your big brother to death. Everything that Micah does, you want to do it to, only bigger. Micah goes down the slide, you do a little dance at the top and then run down it. He runs around the room to get us to laugh, then you do it too, followed by a dramatic fall to the floor for effect.

You are also quite the mommy’s boy. You love to cuddle, and while daddy can rock you then put you back down in your crib, you’ll have none of that from me. You want me to hold you all night long, and the minute you feel me getting up, you hold on tighter and start to cry. And oh, your sad, sad cry. It’s been described by others as “the saddest cry I’ve ever heard”. You are full of drama ☺



Right now you are really into the Wiggles, and ask for it all day long. “Weebles!” you say over and over. You copy their dance moves and do a little jig when I put it on. You, just like your brother, love drum sticks. You want to take them everywhere so you can drum to the beat wherever there is one. Every day you point to the CD player so I’ll put the music on for you. You also LOVE to play outside. Your vocabulary is at about 45 words now, and just to be sure, we counted. It’s pretty amazing hearing all these little words come out of your little mouth. This week you’ve mastered “No!” and “Mine!” What fun. You also love to say "shoosh" (juice, but it also means food), "ma" for Micah, "momo" for Elmo, and "oof" for food.

And oh, the binky. We’ve tried to wean you once but then you got sick and we gave in. It’s just so cute to hear your Maggie Simpson type “suck suck” and see your attachment to it. But in the next few months, it’s going. Just warning you now.


You are a lover boy, and you love me and your daddy with all your heart. But you really love Micah so much, too. He’s your buddy. You guys laugh and giggle all the time, especially first thing in the morning and right before bed. We know you’ll be great friends growing up.


(Here is Micah playing "Peek a Boo" with you when you both woke up from a nap):
video


We love you, our Jaden, our baby who is growing up so fast.

Mommy & Daddy

Monday, November 24, 2008

Everybody's Feeling It

The recession, that is. Everyone I know has been impacted in some way or another. All around us friends and family members are losing their jobs and struggling to make ends meet. This week in our local paper there was an article that said that the LA Regional Food Bank has seen a 41% increase in households seeking assistance from last year. "Many of these are families who consider themselves solidly middle class, but factors have changed and they are now having to seek food assistance for the first time... We've got people coming here from all over, middle class people, asking us not to tell anybody they were here....Even people with advanced college degrees are seeking help." Read full article here.

Isn't it so sad that we feel like we must keep our needs a secret? We have been taught that it is shameful to ask for help, to admit that we are having a rough time. Yet if we all admitted our true needs to each other, and we all could pitch in to help one another with what we DO have, what a powerful church we would be. Recently some friends of ours were brave enough to share their burden, and some of us were able to pitch in and help. None of us are rich; we are all struggling, but we do what we can to help one another, because we are "family." We just have to be willing to share our needs (and our haves) with each other. We have to be willing to be real.

This Thanksgiving and Christmas will be different for many people this year because of the economy, but it is also interesting that it is during times like this that we actually become MORE thankful for what we do have.

So, instead of rushing to all the great Christmas sales this year (and there are some good ones) and getting ourselves deeper into debt, I'm trying to be thankful for all that I already have, and realize there is really nothing more I "need". I'm trying to think of creative gifts to give and I'm going to post a separate blog on pocketwise about that today or tomorrow.

Today is also my 100th post! Corrina just posted her 101st post, which I thought was interesting too!! I feel "rewarded" in a way because this week I won a free I-Pod Nano through a blogging contest sponsored by A-1 Appliances. It was the first contest that I won through blogging, and I'm SO excited!! I do not have an I-Pod (although my hubby does) but have wanted one for some time. I chose the color red :) Have a great and thankful week!!

P.S. Watch this if you get a chance...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Beware of the Bar

I just had to share this true story with you all, because it still baffles my mind!!! On Friday night we went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner and sat in their bar area for the half price appetizers (you should totally do it - you can eat a whole meal for about $6 a person!). Martin ordered a passionfruit iced tea, but instead was delivered a drink from the bar on accident. We both tasted it and concluded that it was not iced tea, and we saw one of the waiters notice that we had been delivered the drink that he had been waiting for. Our waiter came over and apologized for delivering the wrong drink, took it and gave it to the other waiter. He, in turn, took a drink of it to see what it was, then gave it back to the bartender. The bartender saw that the drink needed to be "topped off" since all 3 of us had taken a swig, so he FILLED IT TO THE TOP WITH SELTZER WATER, PUT THE USED STRAW BACK IN IT, AND SENT IT TO ANOTHER TABLE!!! In other words, the drink had been tasted by 3 different people, and the waiter knew that (the bartender only knew that the waiter had tasted it), and he sent it on its merry way to be consumed by yet a fourth person.

I was watching the whole charade and gasped when I saw this happen. But the funny thing was, a table in front of us with 4 women ALSO saw the entire thing happened, and they went nuts!! They called over the manager, told him the whole story and how disgusted they were, and he apologized profusely to them. We all watched as the manager had a little conference with the bartender and they both went back to work. Our waitress went to the table with the 4 women and they all told her what happened, and then she came to our table and I told her that I saw the same thing. We were all just appalled! I never asked to see the manager because it appeared it had been taken care of, but I did tell the four ladies "Great job!" We laughed about it for a few minutes and I told them I was waiting for Dateline NBC to pop out somewhere (I don't think they knew what I meant, but I was referring to Dateline's "What Would You Do?" segment that they run every so often). Anyway, I am thinking of writing to the company but am not sure if I should, because I don't want to make a big deal out of it... What do you think? :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

I've heard that saying two ways - "2 steps forward, 1 step back" or "1 step forward, 2 steps back". In our house this week, I feel the first statement is more true.

 Just over a month ago I blogged about our challenges with Micah talking back to us, etc...  But for some reason, he seems to have turned a corner these past two weeks.  He is obeying more, smiling and laughing more, and just more fun to be around.  It just reminds me of how often kids go through "seasons".  We can have weeks where they are driving us crazy, and then weeks where we can take a deep breath and enjoy them a little more :)   I have been able to take him on a few "mommy outings" with me where he behaved like an angel and I had a lot of fun with him.  

This morning we had a photo session at JcPenney photo studio for their Christmas pictures (yes, I know I'm a photographer, but you try to wrangle your kids and take their picture at the same time!) :)  Well, this morning was our turn to wrangle Jaden - he was out of control!  It was funny and hectic at the same time.  Jaden was just so excited to be there and look at all the props, he was throwing Christmas ornaments across the room like they were balls, running and falling down on purpose to get us to laugh, and wouldn't sit still for more than 2 seconds.  We have rarely seen him that, um, active!  The poor photographer was so incredibly patient but we ended up giving up.  The whole time Micah was being so obedient, saying "cheese" until his cheeks hurt, but Jaden was all over the place.  I was absolutely amazed at the end to see one perfect picture of them both smiling.  But it was funny - we only paid $9 for our whole package and the photographer was like "are you sure that's all you want?" I could tell she was thinking "After ALL that?!"  :)  

I'm just thankful that as the boys are getting older, month by month, we are slowly growing out of the toddler phase and into the more "manageable" phase, I guess.  Having 2 toddlers at once has been a challenge the past year, so now that Micah is a little older we can just relax a bit.  A BIT, I should say :)  Tomorrow is a new day... 

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Strawberry Caper

I've been feeling so sad lately about Omar that it was good that I woke up and had a good laugh this morning. My boys have still not really adjusted to daylight-savings yet (and neither have I). Jaden is getting there, but Micah is waking up around 6am every morning. He used to wake up between 7-7:30. So he is usually up before us, tip-toeing around the house so we can't even hear him, until we hear the pantry cupboard close loudly or the fridge door close, and we know he's been up to something. This morning I kept hearing a "crinkling" type of sound and new he was into some sort of food. Sure enough, here were my clues...





(Hopefully you didn't notice how filthy the bottom of my fridge is. I'm adding that to my rarely gotten to "To-Do" list :)

1 entire pound of strawberries, eaten by a very happy 3 year old = priceless.



A boy who hasn't been entirely potty trained poop-wise = not fun. :) Sorry.
So, we have to do something about our early  morning scavenger.... not sure yet what that will be.

Here's a picture of Jaden, who loves wearing sunglasses. He wants to wear them all the time.


And when he can't find his sunglasses, no worries, Mr. Potato Head's will do just fine. Only they won't fit on his head, so he wears them on his neck. Jaden is always sure to give us a good laugh every day.



Oh, the joy of boys :)


Friday, November 7, 2008

My Heart is Broken

Tonight we went back to the hospital... we visited Jess and her baby, but we also really wanted to see Omar again. I cannot get him off of my mind. Now that I have met this precious little boy, I feel so compelled to help him, and a heavy responsibility.

I heard tonight that whatever the mother said happened to him was so horrific that the nurses do not want to even speak about it. But they only have the mother's story, and they are not sure if can should believe her. She is only allowed to see him for 2 hours a week, so there is obviously an investigation going on. All they really know for sure is that his head trauma was so severe that he lost all motor control and his ability to speak (he was also thought to be blind and deaf earlier, like I mentioned yesterday).

But what gripped my heart tonight more than anything was that he was crying and crying when we got there. The nurse said he was probably hungry (he was about to have his first real meal), but when she lifted him out of his crib, he just held onto her and buried his head into her chest. He just wanted to be held. That's all.... And I just wanted to cry all over again. He probably only gets held about 10 minutes a day. The rest of the time he just sits there in the crib, or gets out for physical therapy. Oh, my heart is breaking.

The nurse told us that they are really hoping to find him a home if only someone would take him in... and yet again, we were at a loss. Our home is too small for us to be approved for this. The foster home he is placed in will need to have a medical clearance as well. Please continue to pray for this sweet boy.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Boy Named Omar

Today I went to the Children's Hospital in Long Beach to visit a friend whose baby may be having surgery there soon. She introduced me to the "baby" next door, who was sharing the room with her son. Omar is 23 months old and was admitted a month ago for Shaken Baby Syndrome. As I gently walked over to this boy's crib, which had thick padding covering each side, I was met by huge puppy-dog brown eyes staring back at me. He quietly laid there, soaking in the 3 pairs of eyes that were now looking back at him. Janet, Jessica and I smiled at him and reached our hands in to touch his still body. He responded immediately and smiled back at us. I couldn't hold back my tears as I looked at this helpless little boy who had been shaken by his father in a fit of anger and now lay in the hospital with brain damage and no control over his arms or legs. He had been there a month, and Jessica told us that when he was brought in, he had turned blind and deaf from the abuse. Previous to the "incident" he had been a healthy, happy, normal little boy who walked and talked. Jessica told us that in the last 2 days they started to see improvements in him, and he turned over in his crib and started to see people and respond to their voices.

What broke my heart was the thought of this little boy, all alone, who had been laying in this crib for an entire month. He doesn't understand where he is or why his father and mother are not around.  His mother only has one 2-hour monitored visit with him a week.  He sees strangers every day. He doesn't have toys to play with, and can barely see the TV from his bed when it is on. He is fed through an IV. Jessica said that she hears him crying sometimes in the middle of the night and she goes in, takes him out and holds him. This is in addition to caring for her own baby who barely sleeps through the night. Jessica told us that Social Services has been trying to place him in a foster home, but nobody will take him because he requires 24 hour care.

When I looked into this boys' face, I saw glimpses of Micah. Omar laughed when Jessica tickled him. He smiled when we played "peek-a-boo" through the slats in the crib. He wanted to get out and play, and he even tried to lift his head. I cannot tell you the depth of my heartache today. I just felt so helpless. Helpless to help this little baby who needed to be held and loved. It is obvious that he would begin to recover if he just had the right stimulation every day. I came home and told Martin about Omar, and he cried too. We both want to bring this boy home, but we know we can't. Even if we wanted to, our current living situation would not be approved by Social Services to take in another child. But I came home with just a burden in my heart to pray for Omar - that God would bring him a family, very soon. And I also feel so compelled that it is the church's responsibility to care for these children - to take them in when no one else will.

We are going to try to see him again tomorrow. I will try to take a picture of him if I can and post it soon. Please pray for Omar. These babies, these "orphans" if you will, are not in Romania or Europe or some far-off orphanage; they are in our own backyard. These things make us really think about what our calling is as Christians... Please hold your children a little tighter, love them a little stronger, and be patient with them when you are mad. One split decision in a fit of rage is all it takes, and we cannot think that we are exempt.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Trick or Treat!

Our Halloween was a lot of fun. We took the boys to a Harvest party at a large church in our area where they had a whole section for 0-5 year olds. Micah dressed up as a Lighting McQueen racecar driver, and Jaden was a lion. After going to the party, we decided to go trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, just to a few houses, but we ended up going down an entire block. The boys LOVED it. Micah had never been trick or treating before, and he got so excited when he discovered that saying those magic words meant that people gave him candy for free! He was skipping down the sidewalk, talking away, saying "please," "thank you" and "Happy Halloween." It was so cute. Jaden also loved people giving him candy and he had to hold a piece in his hand all night long (in the wrapper), squishing it. He never opened a piece to eat it; he just had to hold it. He walked right into 2 people's homes right when they opened the door. It was hilarious!

But last night, when we were so happy because we thought we'd have another hour of sleep (due to daylight savings), but Micah woke up at 1am and was up for almost 4 HOURS! We heard him in the monitor saying "Go away! Go away!" and Martin went in and put him back to sleep. Then we heard him walking around the house in the dark, which was really creepy. We went and put him to sleep again. Then we heard him get up again and go hide in this little space next to the heater. He was really freaking us out at that point. I brought him in our bed and said "Did you have a nightmare?" Then it struck me that he didn't even know what a nightmare was! So I said "Are you afraid of the dark, Micah?" and he nodded. I said "What are you afraid of?" and he said "The spider in the web. Make it go outside." Then he talked for about 20 minutes about spiders, webs, pincherbugs, the dark, etc... We were trying to make sense of it all and figured he must have had a bad dream about a spider. This morning Martin remembered that when we had been trick-or-treating, someone had a GIANT spider hanging in a large web in their front yard. Martin had showed it to Micah and said "look at the big spider!" forgetting to tell him that it was not real. So Micah probably freaked out thinking that spider was REAL! Poor baby. Tonight he seems to be sleeping okay so we hope that he won't grow up now with a fear of big spiders!




Thursday, October 30, 2008

6th Floor Girls Reunion

This past Saturday I was overjoyed to be able to spend a day with many of my closest friends. In 1994, 35 or so of us arrived at Southern California College (now Vanguard University) to begin our college lives together on the 6th floor of the West Tower. I still remember how nervous I felt, yet excited, seeing all the new faces move in on the same day as I, and wondering who everyone was. It has now been 14 years since we first met, and whenever we get together (which is rare), it is like we just picked up where we left off. It is so wonderful having friends like that.

Twelve of us made it to this reunion, which was planned pretty last-minute based on who was on Facebook and could get the messages. Tiffany flew in from San Antonio, TX, and Erica & Anna drove down from Fresno/Tulare. We all met at the Cheesecake Factory and had lunch, and I could see other people watching us as we laughed and talked, wondering who we all were :) We also threw Mandy a surprise baby shower, as she and her husband just adopted a beautiful 3 year old girl. We went around the table and shared what we had all been up to since graduation, and I just felt so honored to be in the company of such great women. Among us were 8 teachers (or former teachers now working from home), 2 social workers, 1 paralegal, and 1 in the insurance industry. Between us all we now have 15 children ranging from 0-5 years old. Oh, how fun it would be to have all of our kids in one place! But this time it was just us mommies.

One of the things I loved about our time together was not only how we just picked up where we left off, but how we all are so much the same in our "older" bodies. Yes, we have all grown, changed, and been through many ups and downs in our lives. We have a few stray gray hairs here and there, and a few small "smile lines" around our eyes now. But for the most part, everyone looks the same, laughs the same, and talks the same.

I am so thankful for such great friends to share life with. It is wonderful having friends like this who keep in touch with each other and share life together. I can't wait until our next reunion! We are planning on getting together yearly from now on. Here are a few pictures:

All of us eating:


Some of us in 1998:


Same pose in 2008 :)


All of us:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wanna-Be Doctor

So, my boys have shared yet another bad cold, and Jaden caught it yesterday. Today he woke up from his nap and started coughing a bark-like (croup) cough, but this time he couldn't breathe. He was straining so hard and gasping for air so badly that he threw up a few times. I immediately called Martin and asked him to come home, all while I was deciding whether to dial 911 or drive him straight to the doctor. I called his ped. and they said to bring him in right away for a breathing treatment. Of course, on the way there he improved and seemed okay by the time we arrived (thankfully). He still was making some bad breathing sounds though, so the doctor immediately put him on a breathing treatment. I explained to her that this has happened 3 or 4 times before, but usually in the middle of the night and we've treated it with hot steam in the bathroom. She sent me home with a breathing machine on loan until he improves, along with some inhalant medication for him.

My boys' health has really been on my mind the past few months, as I've written about before. Micah has always seemed to catch colds more than normal, and it usually gets really bad starting around August. Now that we have Jaden, we are able to really tell the difference between the two boys; Jaden does not get sick even half as much as Micah (although now he does catch things from Micah now and then). So, I've really been praying about this and asking God for wisdom. His pediatrician does not seem that concerned about it; she says all kids get sick and it is common now that he is in preschool... but my "mother's intuition" still tells me to explore other reasons why.

Because I've always had this secret love of medical knowledge, I've done a lot of research. I could be way off, or I could be on the right track. I guess we'll find out soon enough. My three theories about Micah's health are:

1) Because he was prescribed antibiotics so much when he was 0-2 (for chronic ear infections which run in my family), he now has to fight off infections more because he has developed some type of "antibiotic resistance". I think maybe taking all those antibiotics (he was on them at least 10x) killed off the bad and good bacteria, so his immune system now needs to be built back up.

2) It could be seasonal allergies, as it mainly hits in the fall and spring. His sicknesses are almost always upper respiratory and start out as a runny nose which turns into other things.

3) It could be something in our environment: either the fact that we live so close to a major freeway, or the fact that we have some mold growing underneath the house. Tonight I contacted an environmental testing agency about coming out to test our home for mold spores.

In any case, we are just praying for our little boy. Praying that God will build up his little immune system and make him able to fight off sicknesses better. Praying that he will grow out of whatever this is. Praying that it doesn't turn into anything serious. And just praying for wisdom. Wisdom that God will lead us to the right conclusion as to what is causing him to get sick so much! We would appreciate your prayers too... Thankfully he is feeling better now; it is Jaden who needs to get better tonight.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Why I Love Facebook

Some cool things have happened this week on Facebook and I just had to share with you why I am now a "Facebook Fanatic!" 

For one, so many of my college friends are on there that I haven't see in over 10 years.  I would estimate that I've gotten back in touch with over 50 friends that I had in college.  The coolest part is that tomorrow, the "6th Floor Girls" from my freshman year are all having a reunion, all because we got back in touch on Facebook!

Secondly, Facebook has helped me to feel closer to people!    There are some women on there who I met at MOPS or at church, who I normally don't have very much contact with,  but now that we "see" each other on Facebook regularly, we know what is going on in each others' lives.  When we do run into each other, we greet each other like we are good friends, because it has helped us to get to know one another better.  

Third, it is amazing what a small world this is.  There is a girl I used to babysit who requested me as a friend.  The last time I saw her, she was about 10 years old.  I just found out that she has been going to a Bible study in my sister's dorm room for the past few weeks, led by my sister's roommate!!   They have never met each other but will soon be meeting thanks to Facebook!

I also just love seeing everyone's pictures - even though I haven't been in touch with some people for 10 years or so, I am now getting to catch up on their lives, see their families, and see how they've grown and changed.  It is so great.

So, that's enough for now... I just had to rave about it this week since I'm so excited about my reunion tomorrow, and it's all thanks to Facebook!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

P.S.


I just had to share this photo from the "archives" that I found today - when Micah was around Jaden's age (about 17 months), I walked into the kitchen and found him naked in the kitchen cupboard.  He had found the food coloring!  It's a good thing he was naked (I think I was about to give him a bath or something).  It was really funny...

Finding Contentment

Today I had a rare opportunity to sit outside in the shade while Jaden played, and I wrote in my journal and read my Bible.  Many of my journal entries read something like "God, please give us a bigger house," or "God, I'm going crazy in this tiny 800 square foot home," or "God, I've gotten rid of everything I can and we still don't have enough room."   We've lived here for almost 7 years and the walls seem to be closing in on us at times.  BUT, at the same time, we have the lowest rent of anyone we know, we have a gigantic back yard, a nice front yard, and we're in a good neighborhood.  Things that are hard to find around here.  

I felt led to turn to Matthew 6, where it says "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

This passage made me think "where is my treasure?"  Is it in my home?  Because I think it has been! That must be why I get so discontent all the time!  I thought about Jesus, as he lived his life, and how he "had no place to lay his head."   Was Jesus concerned about what kind of house he lived in?  What brand of sandals to wear?  Having a new cloak to wear?  How much money he had on him to spend?  Having the best food available?  No - Jesus was concerned about His Father's business - that is what occupied His mind, His thoughts, His time, His efforts.  He was more concerned with doing His Father's will than doing what His flesh wanted to do.  

Where my treasure is, that's where my heart will be.  That's where my joy will be.  I CAN find joy in this house, in this place in life, if my heart is focused on the Lord at all times.  It is challenging to do that, I know.   I want to be about my Father's business - and today that means showing God's love to my husband, my 2 kids, and Sarah, who I mentor today.  If I succeed in that, then I have done my Father's business.

The funny thing is - my phone rang right after I read that passage and my friend told me about her struggle to find a cheaper place to live.  "You are SO blessed," she said, "You have a nice house, with a huge backyard, it's cheap... I wish we could find something like that."  I got off the phone feeling like God had a message for me today - be content, and find my joy in Him.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fill My Cup, Lord

Today I went for a walk with the boys and I was really feeling sorry for myself. This was a hard week for me. I got back from the women's retreat last Sunday and I've just been exhausted ever since. I can't put my finger on why - I think I must have exerted a lot of mental energy there or something. When I got home, Jaden got sick...again. These boys have been sick for a month, off and on, passing things back and forth to each other. We thought it was him teething, but the 103 fever made me think it was something more. Then he stopped eating and so we took him to the doctor and found it was a throat virus - not strep, thankfully, but still. He finally started feeling better on Thursday and that night Micah got it. Micah had 102-104 fever all day Thursday and Friday, and we found he had the same thing Jaden had. Today both boys seem to finally be on the mend, but after a month of this, it gets pretty waring. I breastfed both boys for 10 months - where are all those immunities?!

Anyway, back to me feeling sorry for myself. So all week I've been feeling drained, empty, tired, etc... and I started thinking to myself "Doesn't anyone care about me?" "I don't have any friends." "If I only lived near nature I'm sure I'd feel better." "If it wasn't so stinkin' hot every day I'd be so much happier!" "If I only had more money..." And on and on it went.

Then I remembered this women's retreat we had about 4 or 5 years ago where a woman shared about how each day we have this "empty cup." Every day we try to fill our cup with different things- our spouse, approval from others, friends, our jobs, our children, etc. And when they let us down we hold out our cup and complain "Why aren't you filling my cup?!" Well, it's because they can't fill our cup. Or they may fill it with a drop, when what we need is our whole cup filled to overflowing. There is only ONE who can fill our cup everyday to overflowing. And when our cup is feeling empty, instead of expecting everyone else to fill our cup, we need to run back to Him daily and ask Him to fill it back up.

That became my prayer at the end of my walk home - "Lord, Please fill my cup today. I need YOU. Nobody else. Nothing else. Just you. Please fill me up."  

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And the Results Are In....

So, maybe you read my previous post about my mysterious weight gain and my theory that it could be my thyroid. I finally had my yearly checkup last week and had my blood taken. My doctor said in a semi-kind voice "We will test your thyroid, but just to let you know, about 95% of the time it is not the thyroid that is to blame; it is lifestyle." I laughed along with her, secretly hoping that I wasn't the one to blame for this sudden weight gain!

But I have a confession to make. Today I bought AND consumed these:

I know, I know. They don't look very appetizing. I've only had these once or twice in my life, honestly, and it's been at least 2 years since I had them last. But tonight they were calling my name. "Pink Snowballs!" (i.e. light fluffy things that melt in your mouth), "0g Trans Fat per Serving!" (i.e. you mean, they're actually HEALTHY?!) Just kidding. I know they are a heart-attack waiting to happen. But I convinced myself that I deserved them. "I've had such a hard week!" I told myself, "I haven't had these in so long!" "It won't hurt anybody!" :)

Then I remembered that piece of mail I got today. Thyroid? NORMAL. Figures.

So, here are my conclusions about my weight gain: 1) It's totally my own fault 2) I'm an emotional eater 3) I stopped breastfeeding a little over 6 months ago yet I'm eating the same as I was then (now I'm not burning 500 calories a day though) 4) I need to stop eating junk food like this!

The good news? You probably didn't notice but last week I "secretly" put this little counter at the bottom of my page that says "days worked out." Kindof my tiny little way of being held accountable (although I was hoping no one would notice). But alas, I must tell you, my friends, so I can get my butt into gear. So far I've worked out 5 days. "Working out" to me usually means brisk walking with the stroller at least a mile. I am trying to work up to more than that, but for now I practically faint with exhaustion after 1 mile pushing 50 pounds of boys. Corrina inspires me!

Sorry for the long post... I'm an emotional writer too :)

Finding Myself at MOPS

I just want to stop and give a Shout Out to my local MOPS group. Before I joined MOPS, I really didn't feel I would fit in with them. I had some pre-conceived notions about what went on at those meetings, and convinced myself that I would stand out like a sore thumb, since I didn't fit into what I thought was their "mom mold." I didn't plan on home-schooling, I didn't follow the steps in Babywise, I vaccinated my kids, and on and on my excuses went... 

But in the first 3 years of motherhood, I found that it was easy to become isolated. It became easy to sit in my house and be with my babies, staying in my pajamas on some days, rarely connecting with the outside world other than at church on Sundays. This is a dangerous place to be. Not only does it focus our attention solely on ourselves, but it cheats us of an opportunity to reach out and touch other moms. Moms like me, who many days felt like I was going crazy but didn't want to admit it to anyone else, days I felt really bored, days I felt really lonely.

I came across my MOPS group on "accident." I went on another church's website to look something up and saw a promo ad for their MOPS group starting up. Something stood out to me that day and my heart lept a little. I immediately felt like I had to sign up for it, and I'm so glad I did. I remember the day I was supposed to go to a park playdate to meet some of the other moms (The MOPS group hadn't started yet but they had playdates going on). I felt so insecure, yet so revitalized at the end of that playdate. I connected that day with about 5 other moms who "got it"! They got what it felt like to be ME! The next day I got a phone call asking me to be a Discussion Group Leader.

On the first day we met, I had tears in my eyes because I sat in a room with over 60 women who surrounded me, welcomed me, and made me laugh. All of us have children - all of us have stories. We've only met 3 times so far (we meet every 2 weeks). At my table of 6 women, we have already experienced the joy of one baby being born (and welcoming another mom into our group with a 5 week old), the privilege of coming alongside one woman having major surgery, weeping with one woman who just lost her father, and finding out that we all have a ton in common. We barely know each other, yet have already laughed, cried, mourned and supported each other.

Each time we meet I am struck with a sense of thankfulness. That now I no longer have to feel like I'm going it alone; I have other women who understand.

So, I IMPLORE you, I CHALLENGE you, I ENCOURAGE you - find your local MOPS group and sign up today!!! Make time for it - you will be so thankful you did!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

15 Confessions of a Stay At Home Mom

You know how this works - copy and paste the questions into your own blog. Replace my answers with your own. I'm curious to see your answers too!! :)


15 Confessions of a Stay At Home Mom

Something I let my kids do way too much of sometimes: There have been days where I’ve let my kids watch more than an hour of television.
Something I do too much of sometimes: Get on the internet
Something I wish I could do more of: Rest
Something I pray for every day: That my boys will know how much God loves them and we love them
My favorite time of day: Right after naps when my boys are cuddly, or bedtime when we’re reading together and praying together
My greatest strength as a mother: Being prepared and cuddling
My greatest weakness as a mother: Playing with the boys
Favorite stage of childhood (my children’s years): The baby years
A chore I would happily give to someone else: Doing the dishes
One habit I need to break: Always eating on the go / eating bad
What I do when I feel like I’m going crazy: I cry or get impatient
How much sleep I get per night: About 8 hours
How much sleep my kids get per night: 11 hours (Praise the Lord)
What I love most about my husband: How he loves us and how he helps me so much

Monday, October 13, 2008

Back Home

Yesterday I came home from our church women's retreat.  It was an amazing weekend, and I really feel that it was one of the best women's retreats we've ever had.  Our theme was "Masterpiece in Training" from the book of Ruth.  We tied in the theme with quilting, and each woman made a square for a giant quilt that was going to be sewn together after the retreat was over.  

On Friday night after the session was over (around 10pm), many of us went over to the coffee shop (on the retreat grounds) and hung out and talked. It's been so long since I've been able to do that!  On Saturday during the free time (from 1-6pm), I went to my parent's house (2 miles from the retreat), and then came back and went in the hot springs with some other women.  After the evening session I went again to the coffee shop with some friends and then back to our room, where about 10 of us sat around laughing and talking until late at night.  It was so refreshing, and only the second time I've been away from both boys.  I had full confidence in Martin so didn't have to worry about them (although I did miss them), and got to have a "mommy weekend."  I can't tell you how therapeutic it was!!!  

When I came home, I felt renewed and energized, and ready to go back into "mom" mode.  Martin kept the boys busy the whole weekend and they had a lot of fun, and to top it off, the house was completely clean!  I feel so thankful.  Here are some pictures from our weekend...


Everyone...


My friend Amy made beautiful bookmarks for us to go along with our quilting theme. This is a picture of everyone showing them off...


Here is my quilt square (with my name blurred out for the web)


Some of the quilt squares that will later be sewn together in a big quilt...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

This Week in Review...

This week Martin went to a conference with the other pastors from our church and was gone from Monday-Tuesday.  Our time at home went well but I am always left more thankful when he returns because he is such a huge help to me (I'm thankful for him for other reasons too, not just that) :)

Our boys have been sick the past few weeks - off and on for a month now.  My big suspicion is that Micah (especially) has allergies.  Every year he has a continual runny/stuffy nose for a few months, usually starting around September.  Sometimes it cause a residual fluid in the ears or cough (as right now), which turns into something worse.  Today he's missing his 2nd day of school in the first month already.   I went and bought some Children's Claritin so we'll see if that helps any today.  What a bummer for him though - he's had so many nights where he can't sleep because of his nose.

Tomorrow I'm leaving for our church women's retreat.  I took a different role this year - overseeing the planning team.  I can truly say that I like this role the best :)   Mainly I have tried to be a big support to the "director" of the team and give the team some direction if needed.  Previously I had planned the entire retreat (the last 2 years) and with two children now, felt that would not be a wise choice.   Many people have no idea the amount of work it takes to put on a retreat, and I just did not have it in me this year.  So, instead I made the retreat programs (a small book we give out), the Powerpoint for worship, and helped do some of the background work (forming small groups and rooming assignments, which is like planning a military mission or something).  Women are hard to work with, that's for sure.  When you are planning groups you have to consider personalities, relationship dynamics, any "issues" going on, introverts/extroverts, and try to make the groups and rooms "balanced".  It is a daunting task at times, and you just have to pray for God's guidance.  Thankfully we have a great group of women and I know it will be a good weekend.  

Please pray for us!!   I will be leading worship Friday night, which I haven't done in a long time, and playing keyboards for worship on Saturday (again, haven't done in over a year, but practice went well).  Please also pray that God keeps the boys healthy as Martin will have them by himself, and has to take them to church for 4 hours on Sunday AND lead worship for 2 services - yikes!  I'll post some pictures when I get back (it goes until Sunday afternoon).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Christmas Decisions

This morning I had breakfast with 2 other good friends, and we got on the topic of Christmas shopping.  We all expressed how stressful it is to spend money (when money is really tight right now), and to have to go buy gifts for people when you are not sure what they would like or need. All of us confessed that we are going into the holiday season this year with dread.  Each of us wishes we did not have to do "gifts" so that we could focus on family and just being with the people we love.  While we all LOVE giving gifts to others, we wish there was a way that it could be easier (or free, for that matter).  (For a matter of perspective, we have 11 immediate family members to buy for, plus extended family and friends totaling about 20 people)

However, we also know that the idea of not exchanging gifts may not go over well with those in our families.  After all, it is "tradition" and Christmas would just not be the same without the annual exchanging of the gifts.  Just the thought of having to make phone calls to certain members of our families with this idea causes each of us some stress.

I came home and shared with Martin what we had been talking about and he said "Let's do it. Let's make the call and ask that we not exchange gifts this year."  I went back and forth about it, because gift giving, after all, is my #1 love language.  It is how I express my love and care for others, and also how I  best receive it! :)  But I know that Christmas should not be about the gifts, so I agreed.

Tonight I called my mom just to talk through the idea, knowing that she would be supportive, and she was. She is not the one we're worried about.  She said she still wants to give us some gifts but not to feel the pressure to give any.  One weight lifted off of my shoulders.  I explained to her that in doing our budget, we realize that we can afford for me to stay home with the boys until about January of next year, and at that time, if we don't get some additional income, I may need to get a job.  Spending money on Christmas is the equivalent of me getting to stay home for 1 month or work for 1 month.  Staying at home with the boys is my highest priority right now.

So this Christmas may be very different for us.  I am fighting the urge to feel guilty about all of this.  It makes me sad not to go hit the sales and buy a ton of gifts for those I love, and part of me worries about what the others will think of us.  But at the same time, it would take a huge load of stress off, both financially and emotionally.  

One phone call down, four more to go.....

Friday, October 3, 2008

Lord, Give Me Patience!

Somewhere along the way, Micah learned how to talk back to us.  This past week every time we tell him to do something, the conversation goes something like this:

Us: "Micah, go put your toys away"
Him:  "No, YOU go put your toys away!"

Us:  "Micah, eat your dinner"
Him:  "No,  YOU eat your dinner!"

Us:  "Micah, it's time to go potty now"
Him:  "YOU go potty!"

Us:  "Micah, we love you"
Him:  "No love me!"

This has been a challenging week.  It's like he woke up one morning and decided to be difficult. He is fighting us on every single thing - not taking his naps, not eating dinner, not going to the bathroom, etc... We are not sure what's going on with him.  Today I mentioned it to a friend and she said that maybe because he has a new authority in his life (his new preschool teacher), he might be wanting to be in control of these certain areas.  He does like school, so I'm not positive that's it, but she could be on to something.   Today we spent about 15 minutes in a face-off with him as he threw a tantrum and refused to do every single thing we said.   After it was over, we were sweating and exhausted.  We asked ourselves "did we go wrong somewhere?" and "what happened to our easy baby?"  For us, the "three's" have been a little harder than the "two's" - or maybe I've just blocked those memories out of my mind :)  

It is hard to know what is and isn't normal, because we rarely see other kids at their worst. Thankfully he is not like this all the time, but it is a glimpse of what life could be like at its worst.  We are just trying to do the best we can, pray tons, and read up on some good discipline books.  We hope next week will be better!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Binky Intervention, Day 1

Baby J is now 17 months old, and I admit - he still is my "baby."  I can see now how moms treat the youngest child as "the baby" for way too long.  He daily tries to show me that he is no longer the baby, by climbing on everything he sees, eating more than an adult for dinner, and trying to talk to us.  The kid is smart.  I don't think I'm just being partial; he does seem to be advanced in some areas probably because he has an older brother to copy.  But, he still wants his binky.  

Most of that is my fault. I have used the binky as MY pacifier for him, every time he whimpers, cries, fusses, or makes a scene.  It is my comfort; I bring it everywhere, knowing that I can just pop it in his mouth if he's having any "issues."  It has worked so well.  I am in love with his pacifier probably more than he is.  

However, this morning I thought I'd try to wean him off of it (finally), so we went all day without it.  He did great.  I could tell he wanted it here and there, and especially when he saw it on the desk and cried for it when I wouldn't give it to him.  But he persevered and got it finally tonight at bedtime.  He immediately shut his eyes and went to sleep as if to say "Finally!"  It was so cute.  I admit that I'm kindof weak in this area and know I'll get tempted to give it to him next time we're out and he's fussy.  But for now, our plan is to just give it to him at bedtime, and then cross THAT bridge when we come to it.

On another note, today both boys missed their naps.  I can't believe how much it throws me off when they do that.  Not only does Micah become Mr. Cranky Pants all day after that, but mommy doesn't do much better.  I put them both down tonight at 7:30pm and they crashed. Hopefully tomorrow will be better...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Mother's Resolve

I don't know much about spiders, and I don't really want to know much about them. But tonight I met an amazing spider, and she deserves some props.

Tonight I went outside and decided to clean off the boys' water table. As I flipped it over, I noticed a pretty large spider residing in one of the holes under the table, along with a large, round spider egg. In an effort to protect my children from being bit, I got out our big spray hose, with the nozzle that we use to wash our cars with. As I sprayed the bottom of the table full-force, I payed particular attention to the hole that this spider and her egg were residing in. I sprayed and I sprayed, for at least a full minute, from all different angles, and I noticed something interesting:

First, the spiders' web was not going away. She had built this seemingly impenetrable web at the entrance to that hole, and no matter how much I sprayed, the web did not fall apart! I have never seen a spider's web that strong before.

Second, as I sprayed directly into the hole, and the spider was flying around in there helpless against the force, she kept trying to hold onto her egg. The minute I would let up, she would immediately run to the egg and put her legs around it. She was doing everything in her power to protect it.

For a moment, I stopped spraying and actually felt compassion for this creature. I realized that both of us were doing what God created us to do - protect our babies. I am amazed. I am totally amazed at God's creation and the instinct that he has given even the smallest of creatures.

I eventually stopped spraying because I realized that this wasn't working. I watched the spider for awhile after I stopped trying to spray her to death. She put her egg in the corner and then went right back to work, weaving her web to make it even stronger.  

Tomorrow we'll figure out what to do with this mama and her egg.  But for now, I have a newfound respect for this spider mom.  



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Blessings, Boogers and the Bible

That pretty much sums up the past 3 days for us:

Blessings - On Sunday night our dear friend Laura from church offered to babysit for us so we could go out for our anniversary. When we got home at around 10:30pm (after eating out and seeing a movie), we saw her standing outside our front door and I thought she got locked out. But as I looked closer, I saw she was CLEANING our front door! Upon entering our house we were greeted by the smell of Clorox wipes and the sight of a shining kitchen from top to bottom! Every nook and cranny of our kitchen had been cleaned, along with every square tile on the floor. She actually had gotten on her hands and knees to clean the floor with the Clorox wipes! Martin wondered if this meant our house looked dirty (but I knew we had just cleaned), but I assured him (as she did) that she was just blessing us and knew we didn't have much time to get to those things very often! What a true blessing and a true friend.

Boogers- Jaden just got over being sick for 3 days with a nasty cold that plugged up his nose at night, meaning we didn't sleep much from Thursday-Saturday. Alas, last night Micah also caught it and we were up all night with him. Usually the first 2 nights are the worst, so we are bracing for another late night tonight. At least they are not both sick at the same time. Poor baby had to miss his first day of school this year, and so there was a lot of TV watching today as he sat with droopy eyes and a clogged nose.

The Bible- Last night I had the opportunity to go to another church to hear Anne Ortlund speak on Discipleship. This was such a compelling and convicting night. She asked us all "who have you discipled?" And "are those people discipling others?" Anne spoke with intensity, reminding us that the church is full of Christians but few disciples. We are used to doing "book studies" but few "Bible studies." We are so busy with worldly activities that we neglect what is most important. She spoke directly to moms - "If you are too busy shuttling your kids around to soccer practice and baseball practice and school events, etc... and you have no time to be discipled or to disciple, you are involving yourself in worldly affairs." (My paraphrase) She was speaking in regards to 2 Timothy 2:4 which says "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer." So true. This made me really want to start a discipleship group according to the model she and her husband have developed (also on their website), and I'm really praying about who to invite for the next 9 months or so.

Lastly, today I attended a luncheon for women in ministry called "The Gathering", and it was such a sweet time. There were 10 of us this week and I shared what God has been teaching me lately (which I'll have to post another time). I am so thankful for being a part of such a great company of women.

That's the latest on this end - I hope you are having a joyful and adventurous week!