Friday, December 21, 2007

Our Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas
from
the Millers!

I hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas, enjoying your family and celebrating the birth of The King. We’ve had such a busy year that I’m really soaking up the peacefulness of this season - staying up to stare at the Christmas tree is my new favorite pastime:)
Most of you know we were blessed to enlarge our home again this year…by another two feet! Christian is such a joy; we can’t remember what we did without him. He seemed pretty serious those first few weeks, wondering what he’d gotten himself into no doubt, but now he’s settled right in and made himself at home.

Jack has really grown this year. He started the year on the small side due to reflux, but once we got that under control he started eating like a champ! He’s kind of the court jester around here - he loves nothing better than to make one of us laugh.



Brenna turned three this summer - she had a princess party and that still sums up her personality pretty well. I took her to see The Nutcracker last week and we had the best time. She’s asking for ballet classes already so that may be something that we start this year…well, we’ll see:)

Levi started kindergarten at our little homeschool this year. He was a little annoyed at the beginning of the year that his friends had to go to “all the time school” and weren’t quite as available to play, but now that we’ve met some other home schooling families with boys his age, I think we’re over that hurdle. We took our first field trip with the local home school group to the fire station and, when you’re a five year old boy, it just doesn’t get any better than that:) His big news though is that he learned to read this year! We celebrated by getting him his very own library card.


My baby sister, Bethany, started college this year - I can’t believe it either. She’s studying to become a missionary and going on her first foreign missions trip this winter. I’m so glad I begged for a baby sister for all those years:)
My brother had a big year, too. He enlisted in the Army after leaving the Navy and is serving in Iraq. We all wish he could be home for Christmas, but hopefully he will get leave soon and get to come for a visit. I am so unbelievably proud of him - please keep him in your prayers.

Casey and I haven’t changed much from last year so you’ll have to just remember what we look like. Apparently we’re always behind the camera! He’s still working hard and being the best husband I could ever ask for (and a pretty incredible dad, too!). And I manage to keep busy:) Really though I feel like I’m doing exactly what God made me to do and that’s a great feeling (notice I didn’t say I was always doing it well, but I guess I’ll work more on that next year).
I hope all of y’all have an amazing Christmas and a wonderful New Year.
All our love,
Casey, Shannon,
Levi, Brenna, Jack, and Christian

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

This brought tears to me eyes


Most of y'all probably know my baby brother is in Iraq. I miss him something fierce and I sure would love it if y'all would pray for him. This movie just made my heart swell today. Military men and women sacrifice every day - they're away from their home, their family. My brother misses things like grits and koolaid. Can you imagine missing grits and koolaid?
It doesn't matter where you stand on the war or what your personal politics are - it just matters that we owe these men and women and their families our gratitude. Be on the look out for a soldier or a seamen you can thank this holiday...if nothing else bake your local recruiter some cookies! They have a pretty tough job these days.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The end is in sight

The end of the Christmas projects that is. I'm working on denim quilts for the boys' new bunkbeds and fancy pillows for Brenna's princess bed. Also we're having a lot of company on Sunday after Christian's dedication (cause I like to do everything all at one time) so I decided to finish Brenna's doll furniture, too. And I'm making a gift or two - one down, two or three to go in that department. Plus the cooking! I've got quite a bit of that planned as well. My parents and my sister will be here on Saturday so they can help with the after dedication buffet food, but I'd like to have the goodies for Christmas Eve done before they get here. I'm so excited about making the fudge for my grandma's house this year! Levi asked her for her "secret recipe" a year or two ago and he's finally going to get to really help me make it. I'm not sure why he thought it was a secret - she uses the recipe on the back of the marshmallow fluff jar:)
We're also making baklava, oreo truffles, saltine toffee, divinity and nuts:) I can hardly wait! The menu for the buffet is still in the works. I bought a spiral sliced ham when it was on sale and I've decided on dessert (the only hard part is narrowing it down!) - pecan tassies, flourless brownies, and lemon squares. Yum! I might as well make the desserts for Christmas Day at my sis-in-law's while I'm at it - Red Velvet Cake (without nuts per my nephew's request) and Lemonade pie (another of my Grandma's specialties).
With this much to do it seems like I'd be all stressed out doesn't it? But actually it's been fun:) I've taken a brief leave from housekeeping for a day or two, but it always gets picked up before hubby sees it anyway (well, almost always!). And we're officially on Christmas break from homeschool, although he's still reading books and helping me cook and doing lots of science experiments with his fabulous new science kit. It's just so good to be a little creative, a little hospitable after almost a year of trying to keep my head above water. That's a mighty nice Christmas gift for me:)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Decking the Halls (and doors!)

The silk flower wreath I got the year I got married has been past its prime for quite some time. I don't think I've even hung it since we've been in this house. So I tore it all apart this afternoon and. remembering Meredith's post about reworking artificial wreaths with fresh greenery, set out to make it presentable again. Only one problem, our puny fake tree didn't offer up any trimmings. But, hey, Middle Georgia is known for its pine trees so off I went into the woods behind the house. One pine tree y'all. One pine tree with anything green on it at all. This drought is nasty when the pine trees give up. But I hacked off enough sprigs to fill in the wreath and added my favorite ornament - the Nativity - it's too heavy for the fake tree. Maybe it will give our visitors something to think about while they wait for me to shovel a path, uh, I mean walk to the door.
I totally spaced on posting the updated laundry pictures (for before pictures see here). My camera is taking very fuzzy pictures and it's been in my bag to ask my friend the camera expert about. I still need a rolling cart or something to corral the detergent so I can use the top of the dryer, but I am so happy with the coverup! I've had this beautiful valence in my closet forever. I loved the Waverly pattern, but it just didn't quite fit anywhere in the house. Now it's making me happy every time I do laundry!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

banner

Praise Baby (which we love!) is giving away free stuff so naturally I'm taking advantage! Go here to try to get some free stuff of your own:)

Monday, December 10, 2007

My birthday boy!


Levi turned six today! I'm going to replace this picture tomorrow (edited to remove a precious picture of other people's children) with his official "on the steps" birthday picture, but some good friends (they must be good friends - I let them in my house even though it looked like a tornado hit it!) stopped by and this is the motley crew we wound up with on the steps. That's the birthday boy down front. I don't know where Jack's other sock went.
Levi had a boy's day with his friend Ryan on Saturday. We picked him up for a picnic at the park. Little did they know they'd find themselves on a secret mission! After playing for awhile and eating lunch they found a mysterious envelope addressed to Secret Agents Levi and Ryan (actually I used their last names, but I don't want to do that here). The note inside said that there was a birthday surprise waiting for them if they followed the clues. The next note led them to the pet store where we visited with all the animals while a very helpful salesgirl hid the next clue for me...that one led us to the library where we looked at all of Levi's favorite books until we found the next clue which led us to this fabulous little ice cream parlor where double scoops were waiting for them. I had actually planned a few other stops, but I didn't want to rush them and we were on a schedule so I cut a few things. I think it was long enough to hold their attention with out getting (as Brenna is wont to say) bwa-wing. They had a ball! What amused me the most about the whole thing is that it never crossed their minds that I might be behind the whole thing! They went through a list of every person they'd ever met trying to guess who the other "secret agent" might be and my name was never even mentioned! So, I'm either a truly gifted actress, or (more likely) so completely uncool that I'm not "secret agent" material.
I just simply can't believe that my baby is six already. When I started this blog he was just barely three, freshly out of pullups. Now he's all about Transformers and science kits. He promises he's never getting married - never going to leave me, but I have a feeling I won't be able to hold him to that.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Busy day!

I finally got the batteries in my camera recharged so I can post pictures soon. Right now I'm getting ready for Levi's birthday surprise. He turns six on Monday (I'm pretty sure someone had accelerated the earth's rotation since he was born!) and since we only do parties on odd years, I wanted to come up with something just a little different for him to do this year. We'll have a family dinner (pizza - his favorite!) and cake on Monday, but today...well, I'll let you know how it goes!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Nuts

Ever since I saw this post over at Meredith's the other day, I've been thinking about making some jars of spiced nuts for gifts (or to beef up another gift). My grandma always makes sugared pecans at Christmas and they are so good. But she also has a yard full of pecan trees. Nuts are not especially cheap - especially the yummy ones like pecans and cashews and macadamias! Since I didn't go down to Grandma's to pick up pecans from the yard this fall (but somebody remind me to next year - I can put Levi and Brenna to work!), I thought I was going to have to table the idea for this year. But yesterday when we headed out to buy groceries I got brave enough to venture in Big Lots first (it takes a lot of gumption to take four kids on more than one errand in a day!). Big Lots had nuts everywhere! I bought several 9 oz cans of Cashew Lovers Mix (cashews, almonds and macadamias) for $3 each. Then Kroger had roasted peanuts on sale 12 oz cans for $1. If I mix the two, two cans of the mix to every 1 can of peanuts (much better than the standard can of mixed nuts which advertises that it's no more than 50% peanuts), that comes out to six 10 oz jars for $1.40 each. Unless my math is fuzzy. Or I can't find the canning jars that I know I stored somewhere. Or I eat too many of them while I'm cooking them (you know, to make sure they're good).
By the way, pictures are coming of the laundry room in all it's new glory. I didn't get everything done that I wanted to (yet!) but it looks so much better!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Crystal's Challenge

I have been dying to take part in Crystal's Challenge this week to make our homes a haven. But I'd already missed the first day and I knew I'd be busy this week and might miss more days...and if I can't do it just right, I don't do it at all...and that's why some places in my house still look like we just moved in, even though we've been here almost four years! So I figured something is better than nothing and decided to get busy in the laundry room. And, gracious, it needed some work.
This is the first thing hubby sees when he gets home since he enters from the garage. Sad, huh? Also, in all honesty, I have to tell y'all that this is not all the laundry. There were three baskets on the couch waiting to be put away. The actual laundry room is behind folding doors and it's not so pretty. The grocery sack for trash - ick. The piles of handwashables waiting forever to be hand washed. I don't just love looking at the outlet and water pipe thingies behind the washer. What to do...what to do?
And, to show you how often I clean off the top of the dryer...

That's my mom's diet coke. She was here before Halloween. Sigh
I probably won't get after pictures up until tomorrow...but I promise it'll look better today!


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I love a real tree. The smell and finding just the right one and, did I mention?, the smell. But the biggest reason I love a real tree is that I hate (yes, I said the "h" word) putting together the artificial tree. Ugh! All that work and it itches your arms and you still haven't even started decorating! But we just didn't have the time to go looking for a real tree this year once we discovered we'd also have to buy a new stand. So we hauled out the fake one and I plastered a smile on my face. And that's when the very first miracle of my Christmas season happened. Y'all, Levi and Brenna put that tree up by themselves. And they were happy to do it. That blessed day that all the other moms of many have been promising me (the day when the oldest kids will finally start to really be some help!) has arrived!
We had a tree trimming party - just the six of us - with sugar cookies and cider and eggnog (for me - no one else likes it)and Christmas music. I let the kids hang the ornaments so my tree looks like this...
But, tonight, sitting here with my new baby and smelling his milky breath while my "big kids" are all nestled snug in their beds...it feels like this...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Caramel Cake recipe

This is a really good cake and if you don't tell anyone that you used a cake mix, they'll never know:)

1 pkg white cake mix
1 c milk (try to use whole, it makes a difference)
1 stick of melted butter
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
Frosting
1 stick butter (I said good, not good for you!)
1 c brown sugar (you can make it with light or dark, but it's best with half of each)
1/4 c milk
2 c confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Bake up the cake in two layers and let them cool. When they're cool, make the frosting. Mix the butter and sugar in a saucepan. Stir over med-high until it boils. Add the milk and bring it back to a rolling boil. Then take it off the heat. Add the confectioner's sugar and the vanilla and beat by hand (or use a spoon, haha) until smooth and thick. Frost fast because this stuff will harden up. If it gets crunchy before you're done, heat it up slowly while stirring and it should smooth back out. It makes a pretty and yummy cake! Let me know how you like it, Dawn!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

The turkey is turking and I'm waiting on the rolls to rise. Cherry topped cheesecake is calling my name and all that's left is to make the icing for the caramel cake. Then we'll load up the car and head over the river and through the woods to Aunt Carla's house (my sil). The kids are bouncing off the walls they're so excited;)
I have an unbelievable number of things to be thankful for...far too many to list. God is so good and I am so blessed!

Friday, November 16, 2007

I don't usually look this...evil


Staring straight into the camera is a bad idea - just for future reference. I got a haircut today and I am so excited because it isn't horrible and because it's been a year since my last haircut. A year, y'all!

Now let me hurry and think of something else to post about so I don't have to stare at myself for long...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Time to start thinking Christmas...

I like to enjoy my holidays one at a time. To me it's just not right to see Christmas displays out before Thanksgiving (or Halloween in some stores!). I'm just not "in the mood" until after Thanksgiving - I guess in part because I really love Thanksgiving. That being said, there is no way I could pull off even our simplified Christmas unless I start planning now. SO my idea is to get the planning out of the way early so that I can focus on the important stuff like worship and family.
Casey and I have started discussing gift possibilities for the kids so I thought I'd participate today in Melanie's Holiday Shopping Carnival. There are tons of great ideas over there so go check it out when you get a second. I'm extremely concerned about all the toy recalls. Levi had been begging for aquadots - it's scary to think how close I was to buying them, especially considering that Jack puts everything in his mouth. We're joking about buying him groceries for Christmas - the boy loves to eat! Anyway. This is what we're thinking about for our tribe:)

I'm actually having a hard time coming up with stuff, mostly because they already have so much and what do they play with? Paper and crayons. Legos. Levi's rockbox (a large sandbox, but filled with peagravel). I do have some not under the tree type gifts like going to see The Nutcracker.

And for Christian? Well, since he's too little for most everything he's getting some practical gifts like a new pillow or possibly one of these less practical (but funny!) onesies.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We didn't go trick or treating

Not because we don't do Halloween. We usually have no problems with a little trick or treating up and down the street and we did go to the church Trunk or Treat on Sunday evening. No we didn't go trick or treating tonight because the kids were bad. It was one of those days that make mommies want to pull their hair out. It was a didn't I just spank you about that kind of day. So I had to be the meanie and stand firm and draw the line in the sand...and I feel mean. But I do think I got my point across and maybe they'll remember and maybe I'll only have to be the meanie about a billion more times and then they'll really get it, right? Right? They will eventually get it, right? I sure am praying they catch on before my will power wears out, y'all!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

8 Weeks Old

Time really is relative. The last two months of this pregnancy seemed to drag by, but these last eight weeks have flown! Even with the hormonal rollercoaster and complete lack of sleep, I'm so in love with this little guy. He wants to be held pretty much always - the baby pouch and the baby wrap both come in very handy - but he likes the swing or rocker seat for a little while. His personality is already so evident. He's so curious! He would break his neck to see who's holding him. And I mean really see. He stares hard. I love to hold him and look into his eyes - it's almost impossible to look away. His smiles are few and far between, but well worth the wait!
I love this time with a new baby, getting a feel for each other. Thinking back over the first weeks with Levi, Brenna and Jack I can really see how their personalities shined right from the beginning. It's amazing to hold this little person in your arms and imagine the years you'll spend getting to know them. Yes, we'll shape them somewhat, hopefully passing on our values, and the environment they grow up in will have a big impact. But they're already their own little person - already the person God made them to be. Getting to be a part of this whole new person coming into the world is such a miracle! It makes all the pregnancy stuff and delivery stuff so worth it (even if I still don't want to think about it too much!). So when I wonder whether they'll be a fifth little one in our future - and I have to wonder since that has replaced "you're pregnant again?" as the most frequent thing people say to me - I have to hope God will bless us again. But for now I'm so content to hold my blessings tight and praise God for each one!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Just catching up...

I sure haven't been around here much lately. These first weeks with Christian have been so precious (six weeks already?!) - he is a good baby, even if he does like to stay up until one in the morning! We're getting back into the swing of things, slowly but surely.
School has been very hit or miss lately, but Levi's reading so well that he hasn't been too bored. It is definitely time to start cutting out the tv. It's been my faithful babysitter, but even the *good* shows are not terribly worthwhile. And the commercials...oh my word. We usually stick with commercial free children's programming - PBS or Noggin, but Levi also loves the old cartoons (Pink Panther, Tom and Jerry) on Cartoon Network. It seems like every commercial is for a toy I'm not going to buy them (Bratz dolls, anyone?) or for a show I don't want them to watch. And with Halloween coming up, there are a lot of terrifying things popping up even on "children's channels." It's just time to turn it off. I'm considering letting them each pick one show a day to watch.

A lot of other stuff has been happening lately. My granny had a mild heart attack and wound up having surgery last week. She and I have always been very close and it's really difficult for me not to be able to stay with her at the hospital more often. One of the hardest parts of having lots of littles, for me anyway, is not being able to drop everything and help with things like this. Especially considering that serving others is a very important part of why I wanted to stay at home in the first place.

Thankfully, my parents were able to come for a visit and be here for the surgery. It was so wonderful to have them here! My mom is such a great grandma:) Having an extra pair of hands around for a week has spoiled me though. That and having someone to talk to when I'm up at one in the morning with one (or two or three) babies.

My friend Debbie had last week off and finally got to see the baby. Since Casey sleeps in the daytime, we don't usually get to have people over. But Debbie did the sweetest thing! She packed an entire lunch and we took all the kids out into the yard for a picnic. There was nothing for me to do but sit back and enjoy visiting. And, just to cement her status as a really great friend, she kept Levi and Brenna for 10 hours on Tuesday so I could be at the hospital while Granny had her surgery. Now that's a good friend.

I have lots of projects coming up that I hope I'll remember to blog about (not because they're terribly interesting, just because this is such a handy way for me to think through things and because y'all have such awesome ideas!). There's Halloween/Trunk or Treat. Brenna wants to be a rock star and I want Jack to be something where he wears a hula skirt (he loves to wear Brenna's hula skirt). Levi is undecided. I'm also working on bedspreads for the kids' beds and sewing a new baby pouch and nursing cover. I'm trying to get my wardrobe in order. As I lose weight I know I'll have to change it around, but I'd like to have clothes that fit right now in a nicely organized closet. Christian's dedication needs to be soon before he outgrows the family gown. I'm waiting to find out when my parents can come back. It's time to start planning for the holidays and time to get back on budget. Something about having a baby always makes me want to reorganize and get a fresh start:)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday

I haven't had a brilliant idea for WFMW in ages, but since today is the Backwards Edition I knew I could come up with a question. So here's what I need help with - please advise:)

How does one go about finding an occasional daytime babysitter? My kids are all little and I usually just take them with me or stay home, but there are times I have to go somewhere during the day and the kids just can't go. My grandparents are the only people I know who don't work in the daytime and they are wonderful. But when they aren't able to keep the kiddies, I'm out of luck. Our pastor's daughter would be a great choice, but she's in school during the day. Any ideas?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A big day for homeschool!


We started school pretty early this year because I knew I'd need some time "off" while we all adjusted to having a new baby. While on hiatus, Levi spent a lot of time reading on his own. It finally dawned on me that my boy is reading! Not just the little one sentence per page books - anything he puts his mind to! I wanted to do something special to celebrate - something special that didn't involve going out for ice cream. There's a great new ice cream place close by and we've done a lot (this stuff is good, really good) of rewarding/bonding/celebrating with ice cream lately. So...I took Levi to get his very own library card! He was so excited! I think we'll make it a tradition that as each child learns to read they get their own card. Brenna is already working harder on her letters - if Levi has one, she wants one, too.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A fashion update

It's hard to tell with my poor picture taking ability, but Brenna wore the most adorable outfit to church yesterday. The dress is a cream colored shift with pink flowers and a simple pink bow. The jacket has lace around the collar and sleeves. The real kicker? It was mine when I was little! My grandmother made it for me! I try so hard to keep my home decluttered and not be too sentimental when it's time to get rid of things, but I am so grateful that my mom held on to things from my childhood so that I have them to pass on.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Christian's birth story

I'm surprised that it's taken me so long to sit down and write about Christian's birth - he'll be two weeks old tomorrow! I usually bore everyone to tears going over and over all the details. I just felt more at ease this time, I think, so there was less to process after the fact.
I was pretty sure when I went to bed Wednesday night that I'd be in labor by morning. I don't know if it was just my own wishful thinking or intuition or what. I started having contractions around 2:30 when I was up with Jack (teething pain was keeping him up), but I decided to try to rest for awhile. After all, no one sleeps through labor, right? By 4:30 the contractions were strong enough to wake me up and convince me to call my doctor and call Casey home from work. While I waited on Casey to get home with his mom (our middle of the night babysitter), I finished packing my hospital bag and laying out everything the kids might need.
We finally left the house for the hour long drive just as the contractions seemed to slow down. They were getting stronger though so I felt pretty sure we wouldn't be going home empty handed. The drive was peaceful (although Casey could qualify for Nascar when he's a little nervous) and it was so good to have a little time to talk, just the two of us.
Once we got to the hospital and got settled in, the doctor checked me and decided we would need to go ahead with the c-section. But I had to wait my turn and I was fifth (that's right, fifth!) in line. Apparently my frequent flier card meant nothing to these people. My family started to trickle in - grandparents, my favorite aunt - around lunch and my mom called every hour to check on me and update me on her attempt to find a plane ticket out of Texas.
Finally they wheeled me into the operating room where I got a spinal and relief from the contractions. There's something very unfair about having to go through both contractions and a c-section. I had the most wonderful anesthesiologist. She was hysterically funny and reassuring all at the same time. She put me totally at ease, although it is hard to have a good belly laugh when you're numb from the sternum down. My doctor, too, was in rare form joking that Casey could come in as soon as I was covered up because "we can't have him seeing you naked!" When Casey did come in he was so sweet - it was so precious to be holding his hand when Christian was born.
I did have a few issues after the birth - serious shakes for about two hours, high blood pressure for the first week, nausea (always with the nausea). But I did not throw up on the operating table and for that I am immensely thankful!
The baby had to stay in the nursery for a little bit (the pediatrician wanted a chest x-ray because Christian was making a slight grunting noise) which postponed breastfeeding a bit and (I think) contributed to him having jaundice. Overall, though, things went very smoothly. Lots less drama than we have had with other babies:)
The kids came for a visit that afternoon and every day while we were in the hospital. They love the baby although Jack was not too happy with me while I was up there. I had to bribe him to even get a goodbye kiss! They had a really good time with Casey while I was gone and Levi got to go to the Cracker Barrel. I don't know which he was looking forward to more - the Cracker Barrel or the new brother.
My grandpa was especially happy -not only did we name the baby after him (Bethel is his last name) and give him the "Bethel nose" (well, not intentionally - sorry, Baby!), but he was born on Grandpa's birthday! We have a a real thing about naming the kids after someone we love and admire - someone we'd want our kids to be like as they grow up. My grandfather spent a big part of his childhood in an orphanage and enlisted in the army when he was so young he had to find his father to get permission. But he went on to build an incredible family of his own. And he really "adopted" my grandmother's family when he married into it - helping her sisters the way a brother would, not the way an in-law would be expected to. He served in two wars (twice in Vietnam). He and my my grandmother have been married for more than 50 years and their family includes 24 people now. If Christian grows up to be the kind of man that he's named after, I'll be very proud indeed.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

What we've been doing all week

The big kids (even Jack!) are crazy about NewBaby. We were worried that Jack might be jealous, but so far so good. I keep meaning to sit down and write out Christian's birth story, but I honestly just haven't felt like doing much of anything just yet. On the one hand, I'm so happy I could bust. On the other hand, the littlest thing sends me scrambling for tissues and the big things (jaundice, doctor's appointments and disagreements, getting things "back to normal")have me falling apart. Ah, hormones.

Monday, September 03, 2007

He's Here!

Christian Bethel
August 30, 2007
7 pounds.7 ounces

Monday, August 27, 2007

A time for rest...



A few weeks ago, while my niece and nephew were here, we had a really nice relaxing afternoon at my grandparent's house. All the kids insisted on fishing even though it was about a million degrees. Well, all the kids wanted to fish except Brenna - she's like her mama, we'd rather just sit in the air conditioning and make the cole slaw for the fish fry! That's Levi sitting down waiting for a bite - hopefully that patience will start to spill over into some of his other pursuits:)

My grandparent's house is kind of my home base. I'm an army brat so we moved a lot while I was growing up. Staying with my grandparents in the summer or between moves or while my dad was deployed gave us a real sense of stability though. So now it's the place I go to when I need to "go home." The yard is beautiful and the house is always neat (except when my tribe and I have been there awhile). There's always family coming in to visit. It's just so restful for me. Which I guess is why I'm thinking about it now...I could use some rest! NewBaby will be here in just a little over a week (unless he makes an early appearance) and I'm feeling so swamped with things to do. I know a lot of it is not truly necessary so I'm doing my best to prioritize and let things fall off the bottom of the to do list. But I'm so huge and tired and puffy and did I say tired already? that I can hardly do anything. Getting to church yesterday took every ounce of energy I could muster (and I had to wear tennis shoes with my dress because they are the only things I can get on my feet - they don't fit, but they're slide ons so I can make them work if I don't pick my feet up when I walk). Anyway.

I have gotten lots done already. The freezer is stocked. There are still a few meal I'd like to add if I get around to it, but if I don't we won't starve. Casey and I also made a big grocery trip this weekend to stock up on convenience foods - Hamburger Helper (on sale for $1 a box!), frozen pizzas, breaded chicken tenders, and bottled spaghetti sauce - that he can throw together while I'm in the hospital. I think his mom and my granny will stay with him most of the time, so they'll probably be eating a lot better than that:) I made myself a big batch of granola to take to the hospital for breakfast or snacking. I don't know how they expect anyone to recuperate on what they feed you in there! I also have outfits planned for the kids and my bag is all packed ( a first for me! I've never packed a bag ahead of time before!).

Now if NewBaby (maybe Caleb?) will hold out a few more days so my mom can finish a paper she's working on for her doctorate, we'll all be set:) I'm so impatient to meet this little guy (and see if we can tell what his name is!) and to get started recovering already. I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Two Weeks and Two Day To Go (at the most!)

The meds I'm taking have completely stopped the contractions. I'm only planning to take them until Sunday when New Baby will be 37 weeks old. I'm so grateful that they've given this little guy more time to grow and develop. Jack was only a little early, but he still had a little difficulty with breathing at first which led to some feeding problems at the beginning and then (I think) to pretty serious jaundice. Oh, how I'd like to spare this little guy all that! But the brethine is still causing me quite a few side effects - awful insomnia and the shakes being the biggest two, I guess. I'm very nauseous, too, but who can tell if that's from the medicine? :?
In the meantime, my to do list seems to grow longer as the days get shorter! I am managing to get some things done - the freezer is getting well stocked, the baby clothes are washed, my bag is (almost) packed, and we have plan in place for the kiddies. But there's so much more I think I need to do and even more that I want to do. Dawn had a great post on cleaning your plate that was very helpful to me. There is a limit to just how much is even possible for me on a good day and these days, when I'm carrying an extra twenty pounds in each foot and who knows how many more in this baby belly (I don't know because I don't look at the doctor's scale!) AND when the weather outside is unbelievably hot...well the list of what's just not possible is getting longer and longer, too. So my lesson for this week (and probably next week and the one after that and after that...) is on accepting my limitations. But isn't it in our weakness that we see how much we need Him? I hear people all the time say "God won't give you more than you can handle..." But He gives me more than I can handle every single day! There's nothing He can't handle and so I can do all things through Him, but when I'm trying to do it on my own it's a whole different story!
So I'm sitting here looking at this list of 40 things that I need to do and I'm praying that He'll show me which of these are important and help me get them done. The rest I will let go of without guilt or stress since if it's not important to Him, it's not important to me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A glitch in my plans

Somethings just can't be controlled. Like babies! My day yesterday started with big plans - a little cleaning and organizing, then I planned to move on to some fun school stuff for Levi and making up some cookie dough for the freezer. But at lunch all my plans came to a screeching halt when I started having serious "can't talk through them" contractions. So it was off to the doctor, where they stopped (just like when you take your car to the mechanic and it suddenly doesn't make that noise anymore). Everything is fine - it wasn't officially labor. But my cautious doctor started me on brethine anyway to be on the safe side - I really want to keep this little guy on the inside for a few more weeks! The brethine is working like a charm on the contractions, but, boy! The side effects are something. I'm shaking like a leaf! If all goes well today we'll ease up on the dosage tomorrow - but for today I guess I'll just deal with it. At least it's amusing the kids:)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Packing the freezer

In my big effort to be somewhat prepared this time around, I've been doing my best to pack our extra freezer with meals and snacks for after the baby gets here. Unfortunately I've also had lots of sick days when it was just too easy to grab something out of the freezer instead of cooking extra to put in. I'm consoling myself with the fact that we didn't make a Zaxby's run on all those nights. But my freezer is filling so slowly!
So far I have 1 pan of browned hamburger meat with taco seasoning layered on top of refried beans (for 7 layer dip that we eat more like a casserole with chips), a roast turkey breast I shredded and packed in meal size portions, one dozen blueberry muffins, 1 meals worth of Salisbury steak (yummy!) and 2 ziploc bags each containing 1 kielbasa sausage and 1 bag of diced hash browns (also yummy and fast).
Today I'm making 2 big pots of vegetable soup - one for supper tonight with garlic bread and one for the freezer - and pepper jack cracker dough to freeze. I'm hoping to bake some poppy seed muffins, too, but it is so hot today that I hate to turn the oven on. Maybe if I wait to bake them until it cools off some.
Soon I'm hoping to make a batch of granola to take to the hospital. I'm always starving those first few days (after nine months of getting queasy at the thought of food!) and let's just say I didn't choose this hospital for the food - even the vending machine pickings are slim!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Now if we can just decide on a name...


He wouldn't move his little hand from his face, but isn't he gorgeous:)!? Just a few more weeks! By the way, I think he has my nose - poor kid!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

What a great, busy week!

I didn't really get much done this week and my house looks like a hurricane hit it, but this week was just so full that I can't possibly complain!
Levi had his very first ever sleepover at a friend's house. I really expected to have to pick him up in the middle of the night, but he hardly seemed to miss me at all! It was definitely harder on me than on him - I really missed the little guy! But I am so thankful for friends that I can trust to take good care of him and that he has a friend he loves to spend time with. He is really growing up!
The sleepover was Monday and Tuesday night my dad and sister got here with my niece and nephew. We only get to visit with the kids about twice a year so it was really wonderful to spend time with them. Eric and Levi were pretty much inseparable the whole time. There were so many wonderful moments - handing out popsicles to a yardful of kids, staying up late talking to my sister, watching eleven year old Paige play dress-up and tea party with three year old Brenna, hearing Eric say his prayers, setting up all the kids to "camp out" in the living room just like we used to do at my granny's house, Jack saying "Eric" and seeing the grin that put on Eric's face, making up bedtime stories for Levi and Eric. Kids are a handful - there's no denying that - but they are such a blessing and such a riot! I had a ball! I even got to visit for a little bit at my Grandma's and see my favorite Aunt and Uncle:)
I'm especially grateful that this horrible cold held off until today! Now I plan on sipping tea and propping my (puffier than life!) feet up for an afternoon! Tomorrow will be our "first day" of homeschool for the year - we plan on playing with our new school supplies and books, taking every one's picture, setting up our school area and reading on the couch! We're getting an early start this year so we can take lots of time off in September when "new baby" (who still remains nameless) gets here and so Levi won't feel left out when his buddies talk about starting kindergarten this week.
God's just been so good to me this week - did I mention my hubby even brought me home chocolate with hazelnuts when he took Levi school supply shopping? I just don't know how it could get much better.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Soldier's Wish List

A lot of you know that my baby brother is serving in Iraq right now. As Levi and I put together boxes of things to send him, I can't help thinking about the soldiers who don't get much mail from home. The Any Soldier program is a great way to support our troops and it can be a really fun service project for families or Sunday School classes.
My sis-in-law forwarded a copy of the wish list she received from my brother's company. Obviously not every soldier will want or need the same things - Any Soldier has some tips and links about what to send here - but I thought this was really great because it shows all the little things they're missing from home. The toys and balloons are for them to carry and give to the local kids that they meet. My brother has three kids at home and I think making an Iraqi child smile probably does as much for him as it does for them. Here's that list...

Board Games
Little toys
Balloons
The little Debbie type snacks
snack crackers
Sunflower seeds
Pringles type chips
drink powder in the tubes - all varieties (and yes that includes the caffeinated kool aid - the company is now addicted to it)
Candy
Gum
Coffee
Creamer
Sugar
Plastic containers
Air Freshener
Baby wipes
nuts
fruit leather things
cereal
white board markers
granola
poptarts
things to make us smile....

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Seven Weeks To Go!

I don't know if it's the mile-long to do list or what, but seven weeks does not sound like very long to me. I am getting pretty uncomfortable, though, what with the sciatica on top of the "morning" sickness in addition to the swollen feet and the weight gain. But I'm so excited about meeting this little guy!
It's taken me all week, but I finally have the storage closet cleaned out! This is the closet where I keep all of the kids' clothes that don't fit anyone right now. Casey's sisters both pass on clothes that their boys have outgrown so Levi has a steady stream of hand-me-downs just waiting for him to grow. And I'm saving the clothes he outgrows for Jack and Baby Boy. Brenna doesn't have many hand-me-downs, but I'm saving her too little clothes for a (hoped for) future little sister. I went through all those rubbermaid containers ruthlessly - sorting stuff into piles for the Salvation Army, for my great-niece, and to sell at the big kid's consignment sale. I was just saving way too much! Hopefully now it will be much easier to see what they have and avoid stockpiling more than they need. After all, it seems like a shame to keep clothes in my closet when there are kids out there who need them now.
While I was down there, I went ahead and pulled out all of the fall and winter clothes so that will be one less thing to do after Baby Boy gets here. And I pulled out the big box of boy baby stuff to wash up ahead of time. Washing things for a new baby is probably the only time I can honestly say I enjoy laundry. Next up is cleaning and organizing those closets!
I have a busy Saturday planned this week. Casey will be home to keep the kids so I'm planning a morning of yard saling followed by an afternoon of cooking ahead for the freezer. And hopefully a quick nap in the middle there:) I'm trying to pack the freezer and I've gotten so many great ideas from Maggie. I get so inspired seeing the tables full of food she's putting up at one time!
And next week I'll be busy with visiting family! My dad and sister are coming for a week with my niece and nephew. They live in Ohio so we don't get to see them very often. My dad has promised to take Levi and my nephew (who's 6) camping so I hope there's a dry night! And I hope my dad knows what he's getting into! I really want them to have a wonderful time, but I'm just not a run-somewhere-everyday kind of person. We do a lot of staying home, especially lately. So I'm trying to think of some fun things to do at home. I love Laine's Letters and this one about showing hospitality to children is really great. I'm so looking forward to having my sister here, too, since she'll be headed off to college in the fall.
With so much going on, I bet this little guy will be here before I know it!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Great Name Debate

What to name the name has quickly become the topic of conversation around here. After naming three kids, we have developed certain guidelines. But we seem to have different opinions about how to apply the guidelines - and therein lies the dilemma. But at least we've kept the conversation interesting. And it's kind of fun to still have "picking the name" to look forward to - we had names picked out for the other three well before the big sonogram!

Here are the rules we're sticking with...


  • the name must be gender specific (no little girls named James or little boys named Leslie - no offense)
  • names for boys must be either short or have a short nickname
  • names must have a meaning that rings true for us
  • every baby is named for someone. This is tricky because I don't mean that we necessarily have to pass on an exact name. Brenna, for example is named after my mother, Brenda and both she and Jack have last names for middle names so they're actually named after lots of people:)

So far we aren't finding the name in any baby naming books! We're just praying that God sends us a name for this little guy - and that He sends it to both of us!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Creating a Birth Plan for a C-section

I really meant to do this before Jack was born, but I didn't have as much time as I thought since he made an early appearance. I did have a few things in mind that I wanted to do differently. Unfortunetly, there were a few complications (unending nausea for me and some breathing issues for him) that threw a wrench into my plans.
This time around I'm trying to think things through and develop a plan. AND put it in writing. I may need Casey or my mom (or my Grandma like last time!) to go to bat for me if I'm a little out of it, so having it written down seems like a smart plan. The first time around I had such specific ideas, but nothing went according to plan. I wound up feeling very out of control and disappointed (when I should've been feeling extremely grateful!). I'm a lot more flexible these days! A ceserean birth is pretty complicated so if things come up I'll just have to roll with it. But, there's no harm in planning, right?
One big thing is the kind of anesthesia I want. So far I've had three c-sections with three different types of anesthesia - general with Levi because it was an emergency, an epidural with Brenna that took three tries and was extremely painful to get, and a spinal block with Jack that was easy to get and worked like a charm. The epidural did have one charm - I got to keep it for the first twenty four hours. It was great to be able to get up and walk around with no pain and I didn't even notice any afterpains. However, the tape holding it on to my back left whelps when they pulled it off - very painful for about a week. The spinal just worked better for me. It was easier and faster and less painful.
And then there's the catheter. Forgive me for being indelicate, but this is a big issue for me! I don't want that thing near me until after the spinal I hope it's not a problem because I will be ugly about it!
I want to see the little guy as soon as they pull him out this time. I almost got to see Jack right away, but, just like a boy, he started peeing everywhere as soon as he was born (marking his territory perhaps?) and they had to pull the curtain back up pretty quick. I'd also like to slow down and spend a few minutes with him before he's whisked off to the nursery. It just never seems like long enough.
From the operating room, it's back to recovery for a long boring hour. I really, really want the baby brought to me back here. They allow a visitor or two, but I'd rather have the baby! It would be so nice to have a little quiet time to nurse him before they move me to a room. If there's a good reason why they can't bring him to me in recovery, I think I'll aim for a little quiet time in the room before visitors start pouring in. I love having everyone there - it would break my heart not to have all our family there - but I don't like to put off that first feeding. I might just have to be a little selfish this time and keep the baby all to myself for a little while:)
Well, that's the plan so far. I'm sure I'll be adding to and updating over the next few weeks as I do more reading and thinking.
Next I need to think about what to have waiting at home!

Monday, July 09, 2007

A doctor's appointment, rescheduling, and other super exciting stuff

Today is the big 30 week mark which means I actually only have 8 1/2 weeks left until little Shane (? Nick? Zane? Gabe? maybe we'll just wait until he can tell us what his name is...) makes his appearance. I've said it before but the only good thing about scheduling a c-section is knowing I have an end-by date. I'm getting soooo excited! We're working out all the details of who stays where with who. So far it looks like the plan is for Casey's mom to spend the night here (and hopefully my mom, too!) the night before. Then Mom, Casey and I can head to the hospital nice and early - gotta be there at 6! And Casey's mom and sister can bring the kids just a little later. I'd really prefer that they were at the hospital right when the baby's born, but... this way I'll be all settled in a room. Levi saw me in recovery after Brenna was born (he was 2 1/2) - I felt fine, but was I shaking all over and that scared him a little.
I'm already gathering supplies to take to the hospital. There were lots of things I wanted last time that I didn't have (in my defense Jack was early) so I'm trying to remember what I wanted and get it together early this time. Here's a quick list of what I want to take...
  • take out menus for a few places around town (once I could eat the hospital food was...less than appealing...and yet I was starving! Everyone kept offerring to go get me something, but I couldn't think of what to send them after!)
  • really nice pampering stuff
  • my nursing pillow (the hospital pillows shift around so much, but you do not want a baby laying on your tummy after a c-section!)
  • chlorophyll - I'm hoping to avoid another transfusion!
  • oatmeal raisin cookies - fiber is good
  • presents for the big kids when they come to visit - probably little stuff from the dollar store
  • a picture of Casey and the kids to keep me company when they're not with me

I'm adding to this all the time (I haven't even gotten to the extremely neccessary stuff yet!), but if anyone thinks of anything I should add - let me know!

In the meantime, I'm off to get everyone ready. I have a doctor's appointment (otherwise known as an hour of peace and quiet) and the kids have a playdate with their two grannies:) That one hour will take about four hours of getting ready/dropping off/traveling time, but, boy, is it worth it!

edited to add (for my own benefit!)

  • chapstick!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My girl turned three!


While we were outside taking her birthday picture I lined everyone up on the swing so I'd have a recent picture of all of them to take with me to the hospital. Brenna kept thinking of things to "speak in Daddy's ear" and I don't think Levi and Jack were too interested in pictures:) It was pretty hot and they were excited about getting to church. We were on our way to the big end of VBS celebration and y'all I have to brag for a minute. I expected Levi to get up front with the rest of the kids and sing and do the motions and enjoy himself, and he did great! But I never in a million years expected Brenna to get up in front of the whole church, but she got up there and sang and danced her little heart out! Our little princess is starting to come out of her shell:)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My brain is feeling a little more energetic...

now if only my body would follow suit. Nothing appears to be especially wrong with me, except that I'm slightly anemic, and I'm, you know, pregnant. But I'm trying to take full advantage of my new mental clarity by at least figuring out what I would like to get done before Baby gets here. Hubby's time off is very limited these days so I need to be organized about the things I need his help with and our pastor's precious daughter is going to keep the kiddies for me a couple of times this summer so I'll need to know what to do with all that freetime!
One big important thing is getting the kids' rooms switched around. Right now Levi has his own room with a double bed which is also the guest room if we have company. Brenna and Jack share a room with a toddler bed and a crib. We're changing things around a bit though so that Brenna will have the double bed in her room and the baby will (eventually) have the crib in there with her. Levi and Jack will have bunk beds in Levi's room. Lifting a toddler in and out of a crib is a big no-no after you have a c-section so I really want to have all of this done before hand!
I'm also really trying to cook some double batches for the freezer. Last time I got so sick of chicken fingers and pizza! Friends from church do usually bring dinners and my mom will be here for about a week, but Casey does not cook. I'm not sure when he forgot how, when we were dating he cooked all the time. Of course when we were dating I shaved my legs everyday so.... I don't really complain:)
I'm going to be organizing and stocking the laundry room too. It's downstairs (stairs are another no-no when you have a c-section) so I'll be taking full advantage when anyone volunteers to help out with Mt Washmore. Casey is actually great with getting the laundry done. He doesn't finesse it like I do, though, so I'll be keeping Shout upstairs to treat stains when they happen. Also, I need to get the kids clothes all in order. I usually keep play clothes and jammies in a drawer and more presentable clothes hanging in the closet. I had not mentioned that arrangement to Casey last time and he brought the kids to the hospital in play clothes and pajama shirts. I know that's hardly worth mentioning, especially in light of the fact that he did an incredibly fantastic job with them. They were clean, well fed, and had so much fun that I don't think they missed me at all. And the house was spotless when I got home! But it won't hurt anything to lay out a few outfits ahead of time:)
That's the first few things I've thought of. I'm sure I'll come up with lots more over the next twelve weeks. If you have a fabulous tip that helped you survive in the hospital or during those first few weeks at home, I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

So.Very.Tired.

Today started out pretty well with a trip to the library for storytime. Actually having the strength to voluntarily take all three kids anywhere by myself is kind of a rarity these days, but today I felt pretty good. Now, however, is a different story. I can not believe how this pregnancy is wiping me out. The nausea has begun to let up but the total exhaustion seems to get worse and worse. My iron is (surprisingly) fine and my thyroid medication is working so tomorrow I'll be back at the doctor's to try to figure out what's going on and what I can do about it. In the meantime, here's hoping I can make it through the teeball game this afternoon!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

So much going on...

It's been busy around here for the last week or two. Just keeping up with the extremely mobile Jack has kept me on the go. My mom and sister got to come for a quick visit. My sister graduated from high school in Texas last week and I wasn't able to go (doctor's orders). I just can't tell y'all how it killed me to miss it. I am so unbelievably proud of her! But she is so sweet that she flew, on the morning after graduation no less, here to celebrate with us since we couldn't come to her. Our cousin Derek graduated the very next night so we threw them a little party that weekend. If ever two high school graduates deserved to be celebrated - they sure did.
My brother wasn't able to be there since he was deployed in the middle of May. I know he is firmly in God's hands and I'm so proud of what he's doing and just of who he is. But y'all, it's all I can do not to worry myself sick. Part of it is my hormones - pregnancy seems to activate the worst-case-scenario part of my brain. So for now I've pretty much banned myself from watching the news or reading it or joining in the "did you hear what happened" conversations. I hope I'm not the only wimpy one who does that.
I'm at week 25 already! And since I've got a c-section scheduled for the 6th of September (my bestest girlfriend's birthday!) that means I really only have about 13 weeks to go. I can not wait to meet this little guy and, honestly, this pregnancy is wiping me out. I am feeling a little better since I started taking chlorophyll and got some Rainbow Light vitamins, but I'm still extremely fatigued. The nausea does seem to be getting better though so that is a big something to be thankful for!
Only thirteen weeks left...might be time to get started on that "things to do before the baby gets here" list:) We have been doing some of our kindergarten homeschooling stuff already so I won't feel bad about taking it real easy through the fall. I'm actually feeling pretty laidback about all that for right now - I hope I don't get all stressed out about it when the other little five year olds start talking about "real school."
There's been so much more going on - Casey is teaching a new Sunday School class, I have lots of doctor's appointments coming up, there's still more teeball, and we have bedrooms to switch around. Plus there's always dinner to make...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Jack is FINALLY walking!

At 16 months we were starting to get a little worried. He could cruise as long as he was holding on to something, but he just wasn't ready to turn lose. What a great Mother's Day present, though! Maybe he was saving up....

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A little update

I'm still sick. But I serve a good, good God. SO much of what I was overwhelmed with last week God has worked out and given me peace over. Last week I just could not imagine how I was going to start getting things back on track around here and one by one my good Father started sorting them out. We've worked on discipline in a calm, consistent way. which just didn't seem possible a week ago, and seen some good results. God provided Casey and I with some time for a date night this weekend and that was so refreshing for both of us. We both work really hard in our own spheres and time together seems to be the first thing we let slide when it gets really busy around here. But it is so important! Without it we each feel like we're in this on our own, but when we have even just a little time together to check-in we get back on the same team and everything is just so much better. I also got a special treat on Saturday night. Casey took me to the Christian bookstore here in town to browse (something I never have time for with the kids) and they've added a whole homeschooling room! With a table and chairs and coffee! And monthly homeschooling meetings with local (and not so local) experts! And the lovely woman running the whole thing - she has 25 years of homeschooling experience! It was such an unexpected blessing. All of Levi's buddies will start Kindergarten this year and I've been a little (okay, a lot) worried that he would feel left out. My prayer was that I would find some way to get him really excited about homeschooling. Well, God's gotten me really excited! More excited than I've been in quite some while. And that's really rubbing off on Levi. God's just gently reminded me of the vision He's given us for our family. I can see the big picture again:) There have just been so many encouragements along the way this week, some big and some small. There were so many prayers answered in totally unexpected ways. As a matter of fact, there's been at least some improvement on every item I put on my list and none of it resulted from what I thought needed to happen. I'm in awe!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Getting things in Order

This has been a rough season. All the systems that we had in place just don't work when mommy is sick and spending LOTS of time on the couch. Add to that the general malaise I've been experiencing (I'm not depressed, just hormonal and very...blah) and one very hard-working hubby. Stir in three kids going through all sorts of different growth spurts and developmental stages. Sprinkle liberally with church "issues." Broil under the constant critique of family, friends, aqauintences and little old ladies in Kroger. What you wind up with is one big mess.
Now, I don't mean that everything is going wrong. Far from it. We are all thrilled about this new little baby. To say that we can't wait for September would be quite the understatement. And we all still love each other and like to hang out together. We still have a wonderful bedtime ritual that includes devotions and prayers and wrestling with Daddy (or Brenna's new favorite game, combing fleas - please don't ask). Levi's learning to read at a rate that just astounds me and Brenna is (finally) getting the hang of going to the potty. Jack has become a real charmer and we're still at church every Sunday morning.
But the things that are going wrong...well, they need a lot of work. There's just so much that I know I need to do, and so much that I don't have a clue what to do about, and even some that I need to stop worrying about all together and just let God handle. So, my big plan is (drumroll for those who know me) to make a list. Because that's what I do. Then I'm going to spend some serious time praying over this list. First thing on the list? Asking God for the time to spend serious time praying over the list! I've spent the last few months making feeble attempts at handling all this and all I've figured out is that I really can't. Not on my own. Not without Him.
Here's just a little of what's on the list. If any of you feel led to share what's worked for you - I couldn't be any more open to suggestion:)
Challenge #1. Finding daily time with God.
Challenge #2. Disciplining myself to get my work done even when I don't feel like it. And cutting back/delegating *my* work so that is even possible.
Challenge #3. Getting some new simplified routines in place so that things still function with a very pregnant mommy and with a new baby.
Challenge #4. Getting the house simplified for the same reason.
Challenge #5. Knocking out some discipline problems in the kids (disrespectful attitudes, laziness, whining, etc!)
I can't wait to get started on even a little of this!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Week 21

I finally hit week 21 today! That actually only leaves me a little over 17 weeks since we've officially scheduled a c-section for September 6 (my best friend's birthday! Hey, Betty!). Of course, this little fella is going to get here when he gets here. We had a schedule for Jack, too, but he made an early appearance. I'm hoping that doesn't happen this time, but I will be prepared ahead of time this fall instead of waiting until the last minute (you know, so I won't run out of stuff to do and get bored).
All that stuff in the pregnancy books about how morning sickness should be gone by week 12 or 14 or whatever...well, that doesn't apply to me. I'm still sick and probably will be for quite some time. The plus side is...honestly, I don't know what the plus side. There probably is one, but thinking about it makes me very cranky so let's move on.
Seeing the little guy on the sonogram last week has made me almost unbearably excited to get my hands on him! Y'all should've seen how cute! But since I was so sure we were having a girl (so much for my intuition this time around!), we hadn't given much thought at all to a boy name. We (I) had Mary Suzanna picked out for a girl, btw - Mary for my grandmother and Suzanna for my sister. I'm a little disappointed that I won't get to use that name this time around, but I don't think it's fair to name a little boy Mary so we'll have to think of something else:) We have a tradition of naming our kid's after someone in our family, but since we've used several last names for middle names we're running out of men who need a namesake. I'm also trying to give each one their own initial so names beginning with L, B or J are out unless we fall in love with a name and just have to change the rule. And we want a strong, masculine sounding name. It's become quite a trend around here to give little girls decidedly boy names (I know a James, a Micheal and a Emma Brock - all girls) and so many names have become quite either/or. The really "boy only" name list is shrinking fast so all ideas are welcome!
I guess we still have a little while to figure it out:)

Monday, April 30, 2007

For moms of boys

Barbara Curtis had a great post not long ago on Raising Boys. Since she's raised several of them, I thought she might be a good person to ask for book recommendations. I've been looking for books we could read aloud to Levi that would encourage the character traits we're trying to instill in him - things like bravery, chivalry, morality. These things seem to be somewhat out of fashion with children's authors these days. But Barbara did me one better and went straight to a real live boy (well, he used to be a boy!), her son Zach. His list of recommendations is really good and there are lots more in the comments section, so be sure to check that out too.

Raising boys is especially on my mind lately since we just discovered we'll soon have three to raise! I'm in awe of the trust God's placed in us, but also so humbled at just how impossible it would be without Him.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

My BRAIN is lost!



After looking for three days, I finally thought to ask Casey if he had seen my steno book which I affectionately refer to as "my brain." I have a Homemaking Binder that stay at home, but my little steno book houses my (ever-growing) Master List - everything I need to remember to do. It's also where I keep shopping lists, books to check out of the library, notes form the books I'm reading....you get the idea. Casey asked when I had it last - at Walmart on Saturday - then he got that AHA! look followed immediately by the UH-OH! look. "I laid it on top of the car when we were buckling car seats. I must have left it up there." So my brain is somewhere between Walmart and home. Having done a lot (and I mean A LOT) of things like this in my life, I didn't give him a hard time. It won't be long before I lose or mess up something of his so hopefully I bought myself some brownie points:) I'm pretty sure I can recreate what I lost, but I am concerned about what kind of info might have been in that notebook. There weren't any last names or addresses or account numbers, but much of what I had written down was not intended for public consumption. There were several pages of notes on a book written for postpartum women, for example. Imagine the notes on leakage, engorgement and getting back into the *swing* of things. Someone out there (oh, Dear Lord, let it be someone I don't know!) is getting a good laugh.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What a rough week

I'm finally at the halfway mark! This pregnancy has certainly had some ups and downs so far. I had a reprieve from the usual non-stop nausea for the first two months, but it's been steadily getting worse - last week was the worst yet! But I am finally keeping most fluids down (as long as it's not tea) and some food so that's really helping. The Braxton Hicks contractions, which started at week 15, have been quite painful and frequent. I wound up at the doctor's office yesterday just to make sure they were, in fact, Braxton Hick contractions and nothing else. I was so thankful for a perscription that I can take at home to stop them. I was really worried that a hospital stay would be in my immediate future. But, good news, the baby is just fine and dandy in there:) I have a sonogram scheduled for Friday and we're really hoping to be able to tell if we're expecting a girl or a boy. I will be thrilled either way, but I can't wait to know!

Also this week, my brother got some worrisome news. It's not something I'm able to talk about, but I would really appreciate your prayers for him. And for me - I'm having a very hard time not worrying about him.

We're having some issues at church, too. I'm not even sure how to explain it. I love this church and the people are very much family for us. But there seems to be a cloud hanging over us - that loving feeling is gone (almost). Part of me feels like this is similar to a marriage that is going through a rough patch and that we should hang in there and work it out. But part of me wants to call it quits!

All in all not my best week. This one has got to get better right? RIGHT?!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Time for some spring cleaning in the parenting department...

It's time for hubby and I to have to figure out a new plan for Levi. Boy, the oldest child really is kind of a guinea pig, huh? We've been cooped up all week since he and Jack are sick and between him feeling bad and cabin fever, I've had a chance to see a lot of behaviour "issues" that just have to go. I've been out of sorts this pregnancy and not sticking to our usual schedule. Plus there's been a considerable amount of...crankiness, let's call it...going around our house. So I know he's reacting to all that, but I'm at the end of my rope. It's time for a new plan!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Woman, why do you weep?


But Mary stood outside of the tomb, weeping. And as she wept, she stooped down into the tomb.
And she saw two angels in white sitting there, the one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
And they said to her, Woman, why do you weep? She said to them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.
And when she had said this, she turned backward and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, Woman, why do you weep? Whom do you seek? Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, Sir, if you have carried Him away from here, tell me where you have laid Him and I will take Him away.
Jesus said to her, Mary! She turned herself and said to Him, Rabboni! (which is to say, Master!) (John 20:11-16)



We have had the most wonderful Easter season. The Easter tree, passover communion at church, watching a passion play at a local church...our attention has been so focused on Christ this year and I am so grateful! So grateful that I am not even moping over the fact that the kiddies were to sick to go to church this morning! Even with having to miss church, this Easter has been so incredibly much better than last year!

The passion play we went to Friday night was truly wonderful. I did forget my tissues, though, when in actuality I needed a roll of paper towels! We also watched The Passion of the Christ on Saturday. I try to watch it every year -it's such an incredible reminder of all He suffered for me. But this year both the play and the movie left me with a slightly unfinished feeling until I realized what was missing - the most important part! The true Easter story is the story of the empty tomb! I don't mean that the road to the cross isn't important, it certainly is! But the heart of the story is that He arose! Can we imagine the grief Mary must have felt at the tomb - her teacher, her Savior, not only dead but tortured and hung on a cross? And now to find His body gone? But then to see for herself that HE AROSE! That He WAS and IS CHRIST the KING, SON of GOD! That's joy we should know well! I hope you're all having an incredible Easter and basking in His love!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What kind of example am I setting here....

Note the baby face down on the kitchen floor! Sheesh!

Monday, April 02, 2007

At my house last week....

The morning sickness continues. I spent a lot of time on the couch as the piles of stuff (laundry, dishes, toys, books, etc) grew taller and taller. I did get a few bursts of energy so I was able to keep things...well, not exactly under control, but good enough so the health department isn't stopping by.
We're really enjoying our Easter tree ornaments, which wound up having to be hung on my artificial ficus since the pollen has been so horrible that I didn't dare bring flowering branches inside like I originally planned. I love the way it makes us stop to focus on HIM. We've never really celebrated the Easter season before - it's always just been a long weekend of Easter traditions. I really like spending more time to focus on it.
We had a surprise birthday party for my Granny this week - she turned 70! It was a huge success because a) everyone had a ball and b) my kids behaved. Brenna did have a few rough minutes at the beginning - she has some shyness issues that we're working on - but she was cheerful and friendly for the rest of the evening. Also, someone brought the best potato salad I have ever tasted. I was so glad to be able to eat!
Teeball season is off to quite a start. Levi is on a team with five and six year olds so he's one of the youngest and he's having a great time. Me, not so much. The coach is pretty strict about his schedule and the rules (practice three times a week, ya'll! And two of those practices are two hours each!) which I am trying to appreciate. I actually want Levi to have some structure and get used to an authority besides mom and dad. That being said...I'm having a hard time biting my tongue about a couple of things - certain kids are getting away with really bad behavior and poor sportsmanship and there is a lot of focus on how *skilled* the kids are (or aren't), which I think is ridiculous for 5 & 6 year olds. The mother bear in me is definitely growling a little:) But Casey is helping out at every practice and game and Levi is really enjoying himself, so... I guess I'll take a wait and see approach for now.
I did a good bit of clothes shopping for the kids at the Kid's Karosel sale. Since we don't have a used clothing store in town anymore (we do have the Salvation Army, but that's it), a woman in town has started a nice business for herself holding two big kid's clothing sales a year. It works great, you drop off anything you want to sell, set your own prices and get 70% of what it sells for. The last day of the sale is half price on (almost) everything. And there is a big pre-sale for all the consignors. This year I went to the pre-sale and made out like a bandit. I had always waited for the half-priced day, but at the pre-sale I realized that all of the best priced stuff goes first so I actually did better shopping then. Of course I still went back on the last day - who can resist half off? Levi has tons of clothes from all his older cousins and Jack has all of Levi's hand-me-downs, but not all of them are the right size for the season. So I filled in Jack's spring and summer wardrobe and essentially bought all of Brenna's. Levi did get a few brand new polo style shirts for church for $1 each! Brenna got lots of dresses, one with hand smocking across the front. All in all I spent less than $40 for all three kids and I made $48 on the stuff I sold:)
Now, to jump into this week. Only I don't feel like jumping. Maybe I'll ease a toe into this week and see how it goes:)