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


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

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...


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...