Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year! And pass the painkiller, please.

In case I haven't mentioned it, and you don't read my husband's blog, Joel had oral surgery today. Yes, indeed. Let's cut on your gums and by the way, Happy New Year!

So this morning we all headed off to the oral surgeon's office. I say "all" because 1. Joel couldn't have the anesthesia without someone there to drive him home and 2. I didn't have any simple childcare options, though our self-sacrificing friends, Amy and Andy, did offer to watch the kids but it would have taken me longer to drop them off at their house and get to the doctor's office than the actual surgery took.

So, we all headed to the doctor's office. The kids had been threatened admonished to behave themselves in the waiting room. I counted on two things to help me keep them under control: the small waiting room on New Year's Eve with only one doctor in the office was bound to be pretty empty and a large bag of books, toys, & Cheerios to keep them distracted. I must say they all did really well considering they are going stir-crazy from being indoors and sick for over two weeks!

The surgery only took about 45 minutes. The oral surgeon thinks it was a success. He cut the gums, cleaned out a lot of infection (between the size of a pea and a grape! Ewww!!) under and around a tooth, filled the abscess and stitched Joel back up. He thinks the tooth was "sound." After Joel felt awake enough to walk to the van, we loaded up and headed to Wal-Mart (again!) to fill his prescriptions for penicillin and percoset.

I left Joel and Ellie in the van and rushed the boys into the store. I knew things were not going to go well when the woman kept asking me what kind of prescription coverage we have while SHE held the insurance card and looked at it and her computer.

Once she determined that Joel is in their computers and the information is still the same she asked if I would be waiting for the medicine to be filled. I explained that we had come straight from the doctor and my poor husband, was waiting in the van - my explanation was interrupted several times as I hissed threats of bodily harm strongly encouraged my eldest son to stop choking his younger brother. She then informed me it would be at least a thirty minute wait as they were very busy today and she couldn't possibly put me ahead of the others.

My aggravation level escalated several times during this interchange but when she said they wouldn't have any percoset until next week I almost lost my religion. What!?! How does a busy pharmacy run out of such a common drug?! A pharmacy with good customer relations would have offered to call the doctor to see if a different medicine in the same class would be OK. Not this lady. Clearly she did not want my business. And since the percoset is the painkiller, which I knew Joel would need when the Novocaine wore off in a couple of hours, I picked up the prescriptions and marched my kids back to the van.

I explained the situation to Joel and quickly developed a new plan. We took off for another pharmacy where I dropped off the prescription (another 20 minute wait!) and took the troops home. After settling Joel in bed I fed the kids lunch and then put them down for naps. I thought they were all drifting off to sleep and ran out to pick up the medicine. When I returned I found Ben in the living room instead of his bed.

O joy. Let the battle over nap time begin. I think I put him back to bed 4 or 5 times. Finally he stayed put and I actually got about an hour long nap myself. I may have mentioned that I have a cold. I have gone through a box of tissues in 5 days all by myself and alternate between blowing my nose and hacking up a lung. In fact, I've been coughing so much my ab muscles are actually sore! Maybe if I'm sick long enough I'll get in shape. After all, coughing is much less work than sit-ups.

After nap time I loaded up the kids for a trip to "Old McDonald's." Yes, ma'am. I'm the one who brought snotty-nosed and coughing children to play on the playground because I couldn't keep them quiet at home so their daddy can rest. Look at it this way, it's just a virus. If your kids pick it up it'll run it's course in 7-10 days. And if you catch it from them you will have an opportunity to work off some of that "pregnancy" weight. = )

We arrived home to find Daddy alert and in the kitchen scrounging for food. He informed me his empty stomach (he hadn't eaten since last night) wanted a steak and baked potato. Naturally his swollen gums do not agree. He settled for leftover mashed potatoes.

I asked when he'd last taken the percoset. "About a half-hour ago." This answer after he sat down in a chair because he felt woozy. "I think you should go back to bed." He promptly agreed. He now understands how I feel after my c-sections when the hospital nurses keep me pumped full of percoset. = )

That is how we have ended 2007. Sick children. Sick Momma. Teething AND sick baby girl. And oral surgery for Daddy. Bring on 2008! I can handle it. Especially if Joel has any of those percoset pills leftover. Don't even think I'm kidding!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Could I have a little cheese with my whine, please?

Warning: what follows is just plain ol' whining.

Christmas Eve: opened all our presents (that would be the KIDS presents) in the morning. Will's favorite present was his real (adult-sized) sleeping bag. Ben liked his so well he immediately wanted to lay in it. Ellie has enjoyed playing with not 1 but THREE new baby dolls this week.

Christmas Eve afternoon I picked up our Christmas meal at Stop-and-Shop. O yes, I certainly did. When I called to order the meal they didn't have turkey dinners left, only ham. No problem. I asked if the sides are the same and was assured they are. They are not. $60 got me a ham, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, a dozen rolls and an apple pie. To say I feel gyped is an understate-ment. I discovered this definite lack in our meal about 2 hours before the store closed. It had been a madhouse earlier in the day. No way was I going back. So I looked through my pantry to see what I could find to go with a ham dinner. I whipped up some cornbread dressing and carrot casserole and added a can of green beans to our menu.

And I prayed. I prayed "loaves and fishes" as my friend, Gina, would say. Cause as of Sunday I had 4 confirmed guests. Monday night I had 6 confirmed guests. I had no idea how many people would show up.

Christmas Day we had 11 guests in my 1200 sq. foot house. To add to my food prayers, both boys were sick. I thought their colds were mostly gone by Christmas Day. Ha! They hacked and hacked all morning. The coughing was disturbing because they coughed up stuff and then gagged on it. So you thought they are going to vomit with each hard cough. By the end of the day, both boys threw up not once but TWICE. Will did it in front of guests and all over himself and me. Merry Christmas everyone. Or not. The hilarious thing is that the puke all over him and me didn't stop anyone from eating. They just kept right on enjoying the pumpkin pie!

By Thursday Ellie and I caught the same cold. Lucky for me I already had a check-up scheduled with my doctor. Joel worked from home so I could visit the doctor then Price Rite and Wal-Mart. Of course she said I have a virus and it will run it's course. Glad I saved my $25 co-pay and didn't take the boys to the pediatrician. Let me just say shopping while sick and weaving around after-Christmas-sales shoppers is so NOT my idea of a good time.

Then Saturday Joel took Will out for a breakfast date. They had a good time. Which was nice for them because Ellie cried all but 20 minutes that they were gone. Not so nice for me. In the afternoon we made a trip to the mall for new glasses. Well 5 minutes in LensCrafters convinced us we needed to look somewhere else. Seriously, $250 for frames!!! I don't care who designed them, they are not worth that kind of money! So to Sears Optical we went where we each got nice frames for a reasonable price. The price was made even more reasonable by our vision insurance (using the insurance before the year ran out was the reason for this family outing!).

Today, Sunday, I just didn't have it in me to go to church. Especially since it's a family Sunday and I would have spent the sermon wrestling Ellie in the hallway. So she and I stayed home and the boys went to church.

I am ready for this week to be over. The kids all feel well enough to torture each other (and me) but not well enough to take the torture without wailing and gnashing of teeth. Joel says I sound miserable (my voice and coughing). I told him I feel too well to stay in bed but not well enough to do anything out of bed. Which means my house is a wreck and I feel just good enough to care but not good enough to do anything about it.

Let's just conclude by saying Christmas 2007 was one for the history books. I don't think I'll forget it soon!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Emily (from 12/8/07)

***So VERY sorry I haven't posted this before. The following email and pictures came through 12/8. Please continue to pray for Mike, Dawn & Emily as they make decisions and adjust to a whole new kind of "normal" life.

Hello everyone,

Here is the latest on little Emily Rose:

She had an appointment with the neonatologist this week. At this appointment, we met with a doctor and an occupational therapist. Aside from a basic physical, they did an hour long evaluation of Emily to determine what kind of therapy she will need now that she has left the NICU. They checked her vision & hearing and her motor skills, muscle tone & strength. They also asked me about any concerns that I had. Based on all of that, they send a referral to First Steps. It is a wonderful program! Basically the therapists will come to our home to work with us. They will teach us exercises that we can do with Emily on our own.

Our main concern with Emily has been her eating. Not only does she avoid the bottle like the plague, but she has a very hard time at every feeding through her tube. We feed her every 4 hours and it is not a fun experience for any of us. If she is awake during her feeding she is usually crying (OK, really screaming) and wiggling around making it very difficult for the formula to go down. And if she sleeps through the feeding, she will wake up screaming. Most of the time, her crying spells will last for about an hour, either during her feeding or after. We think she is in pain from gas. Since her surgery, she cannot burp, so she has to “burp” through the feeding tube. With the original feeding tube she had, she seemed to be able to do this pretty easily. Since that tube came out & they put in a new one, she has a very hard time burping. It is awful to know that our daughter is in pain and we cannot do anything to help.

The end result of the evaluation with the neonatologist & therapist is this: we will be working with a nutritionist, a speech therapist, a physical therapist and a group called Visually Impaired Preschoolers (VIPS). The nutritionist and speech
therapist will work with us on the eating/feeding problems. Emily needs physical therapy because her muscle tone and strength are not what they should be. One side of her body is stiffer than the other & does not move as well. She also turns her head to one side and this has caused some stiffness in her neck muscles (this affects her ability to lift her head too). And her vision seems to be impaired too. They said that her vision itself seems OK, but it seems that her brain does not “register” what she is looking at. VIPS will come to our house to do their own evaluation and then work out a plan based on what they find.

The interesting thing about her vision is this – we went to the ophthalmologist afterwards and he said the same thing after only spending about 5 minutes with Emily. He said it is not uncommon in babies her age for the brain and eye to be out of sync. She may grow out of it or she could have vision problems for the next 95 years (his words, not mine). As with many other things in Emily’s life, we will have to wait and see. I have to be honest, I am not really sure how they know that her brain is not picking up on what she is looking at, but they both said the same thing without knowing what the other thought. Her vision problems were a shock to us. Mike and I had no reason to think there were any problems there. She watches the bears on her mobile go around, she will look at us, stare at the TV or the ceiling fan in the living room. We just didn’t think there was any issue other than the fact that her eyes will go back and forth really fast at times (which was the
reason for the appointment with the ophthalmologist in the first place).

These appointments can be a little tough to take. The doctors are painfully honest. At the neonatologist, I was told Emily will have some pretty significant challenges, but they want to help her to do as much as she can (from the tone of this statement, the doctor doesn’t think that will be very much). For me, accepting the fact that my daughter has cerebral palsy has been a process. I take in a bit at a time. And I think there are times when I am in denial. When I see her at home doing things that I think any other baby would be doing, it is very easy for me to put it out of my mind. So hearing such brutal honesty can be like a punch in the stomach. On one hand, I need to keep a realistic view of what Emily’s life will be with her diagnosis, but on the other hand I don’t want to set limits for her. And I certainly don’t want to set limits on God. I don’t know what He has planned for Emily. I just know that I am going to love Emily and do everything that I can to help her to reach her potential (whatever that may be).

God has already used Emily to touch many people and I am so thankful. I know that Mike and I learn something new every day. We are learning to appreciate the abilities that we take for granted (walking, talking, seeing, etc.). We are learning about the sacrificial love of parenting - for 2 selfish people this is a tough lesson to learn! As we approach Christmas, I have been thinking about the sacrificial love of God. He selflessly sent His only son to earth, not to be remembered as the cute little baby lying in a manger, but to be remembered as the perfect man who died on the cross for the sins of man. What an amazing thought! I cannot stand to see my daughter cry in pain because of gas, but God was willing watch His son endure torture on behalf of His children. What an incredible God we serve. He knew our greatest need was a Savior and He gave His own son to meet that need. So as you shop for Christmas gifts for family & friends, I hope that you will remember THE GIFT that was given to meet your greatest need.

In HIS strength,

Dawn



Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Today's happenings...

Our church is very small by SBC/southern standards. We've only been in existence for about 6 or 7 years (I'm not sure exactly how long since we've only attended for 2 years). We meet in a hotel conference room in down city Providence. The adult service is in one room and the children's church/nursery/Sunday School meets in an adjoining room.

For holiday Sundays the children join the adult service and we have a "Family Service." This usually consists of the pastor or his wife doing a short children's sermon and the pastor preaching a shorter than normal adult sermon (2 of the 7 children who attend are his so he understand the need for short!).

Today was a Family Service. Amy, the pastor's wife, led the children in a retelling of the Nativity Story. She asked what animals would have been in the stable when Baby Jesus was born. Among the answers were a lion (from Will), a duck (from N.), and I think I heard a giraffe mentioned (from Micah). That was one exciting stable!

Then Amy involved the crowd. What a smart idea! We only had about 50 (?) people there so you can imagine the excitement this caused. Mary and Joseph were played by a dignified couple (married only a year-and-a-half). The two shepherds looked pretty much like trouble waiting to happen. And the three wise men were more like the three wise guys.

Everyone enjoyed our own GHCC version of the Nativity! Then during the song service the children all sang the first verse of Away in the Manger. Or rather, Will sang a solo while everyone else looked really cute. Must remember not to let him hold the microphone next time! Here's a picture of Will & Ben warming up for their song before everyone else came into the room for church. See how Will's holding the mic? That's pretty much what the real thing looked like, too.

Tomorrow (Christmas Eve) we will open all of our presents and then Tuesday (Christmas Day) we're having folks from church join us for a late lunch (which I am totally buying from Stop and Shop!!!).

Self-inflicted, NOT wife inflicted.

See what my husband did to himself? Buzzed it off. All. And this is a week after the fact. You can go here to read his account. The picture really doesn't do it justice.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Guess who I saw at Barnes and Noble!

During my marathon shopping this past Thursday I popped into Barnes and Noble. Ha! Does one really just pop into that literary sanctuary? I don't think so. At least I didn't venture past the first display into the children's section!!

Anyway. I digress. As I wandered the aisles I heard a voice that sounded vaguely familiar. "Who is that?," I wondered. So I browsed a little closer to the voice. I observed a man having a conversation with the woman behind the gift wrap table. He looked familiar. Not from my personal life. "In town spending the holidays with my mom," he said.

I realized I recognized him from television or movies. But his name escaped me. For the life of me I couldn't think of his name or on what show/movie I have seen him. I briefly considered asking the lady (after he left of course) what his name was. After all, I have a blog and bloggityville is very concerned with my celebrity sightings. I decided asking the gift wrap lady was just too pathetic and determined to search the web.

I wracked my brain the rest of the evening and finally came up with "James." But James What I just couldn't get. So while on the computer I started a search. I explained to Joel what I was doing. And don't you know, with only the first name to go on, my adorable husband supplied me with the correct name without the aid of google. Isn't he smart?!

In case you're curious, you can go here to see who I saw. And by all means, feel free to share any celebrity sighting stories you have in the comments. = )

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rambling on and on and on and on...

*** Edited to say I have the date wrong for Joel's surgery. The correct date is Dec. 31. New Year's Eve.

The past week has been wild and crazy. Well, wild and crazy for me anyway. It started Thursday with the dentist appointment, shopping marathon, and an optometrist appointment all mixed in with a snow storm.

Saturday afternoon I headed over to a friend's house for our church's Annual Ladies Cookie Exchange. Tea was drank. Way too many cookies were consumed. Most ladies got lost trying to find Lori's house. And a great deal of talking, not to mention laughing, took place.

Sunday morning we woke up to a rain, sleet, snow mix. Another 4-6 inches piled on top of our already white lawn. And, once again, the plows did a lousy job. And, once again, activities and organizations canceled for the day. Our church, which meets in down city Providence, joined many churches across the state in canceling services. I confess to being excited about a day spent at home. I even stayed in my pajamas until 2 PM!! Poor Joel cannot make the same claim. He resigned himself to the snow, pulled on work boots, coat, and gloves and shoveled out the driveway one more time.

Monday morning we left the house about 8:30 AM. I dropped Joel off at work and continued to the Mall (not the same one that closed Thursday but very near it) where I spent a JC Penney's "Spend $10 Get $10 Off Coupon. Naturally they priced everything in the toddler girls section $4.99 or $9.99. Believe me, I tried to use the coupon on 2 $4.99 items (a total of $9.98) and for the want of two pennies they would not redeem the coupon! Argh! Frustrating! In the end, I paid a total of $4.99 for a pair of dark brown corduroy pants and a navy with pink flowers cardigan sweater. Still not a bad deal but it's the principle of the thing that irks me.

From Penney's we continued to Bath and Body Works where the boys walked around with their hands inside their pockets. I took no chances of little hands reaching out to "look." Our purchases made, a brief pit stop in the bathroom, and we climbed in the van again to drive north of Providence (we live and work south of the city).

A birthday party for Jesus at a friend's house was our next stop. Games. Presents. Lunch. Cupcakes. A few tears. And lots of fun. After 3:30 the kids and I headed south again. Through the city. On I95. O fun. Not. At least Ben & Ellie fell asleep before we ever made it to the Interstate.

At 4:15 I finally neared our exit. Not much point in going home for an hour. So we turned right instead of left at the exit and went to Wal-Mart. I always tell Joel we'd have money if I could stay out of Wal-Mart. After killing an hour or so I called Joel to tell him we were headed his way, I was tired, and where did he want to eat supper. = ) He kindly left the choice up to me. Any guesses on where we went?

We finally arrived home after 7 PM. I left at 8:30 AM. I don't remember the last time the kids and I were away from home an entire day like that. Boy was I tired the next day!

The rest of the week has mainly seen the arrival of packages via UPS, USPS, and FedEx. Since the first week of December we have received, by best recollection, 23 boxes! I'm still waiting for 2 more Christmas presents and my new laptop (that's a whole other post) to arrive.

Today, Thursday, returned us to crazy mode. Joel saw an oral surgeon at 1:30 (a visit resulting from the dentist last week). He will have "surgery" to try and save his tooth on December 29. (If anyone is available to watch my children at my house from 9:30 am until lunch I'd surely appreciate it!! I might even pay real money!)

He arrived home and I left with a huge list of places to go and things to buy. Price Rite. Barnes & Noble. Christmas Tree Shop "Don't you just love a bargain?" It was there that I lost my mind. 12 mugs, a box of tea, a 2 tier plate stand, a 3 section rectangular tray, two round serving dishes, 3 mini muffin pans, 12 decorated paper bags (for the mugs), and assorted paper goods later I finally left the store. I couldn't help myself. They had the cutest snow man pattern!! And I heart snowmen!

Did you know God cares about paper goods? Last Thursday I bought the paper goods for Christmas dinner. I could only find napkins for the pattern I liked and settled for plain plates. Then Lori had my plates at the Cookie Exchange! We had bumped into each other at the store last Thursday and if I had seen those plates in her cart we would have thrown down right there in the aisle! Anyway... over the weekend I realized I didn't have enough plates. God graciously allowed me to find more napkins, dessert plates and dinner plates in the exact pattern that I liked and already bought!! Yippee!

So, after the reality check of paying for my shopping spree, I returned home long enough to unload the van, visit the water closet and hand Joel a frozen pizza. Then I headed for the Mall. Again. Once more to Bath and Body Works where I bought a nice set for Joel's boss (a woman) and a small set for me. Once that item was checked off my list I drove the quarter of a mile to Wal-Mart. Yes, that's the THIRD time in a week.

Do you know I could not find a candy cane in the whole store. And I walked all over. Food section, holiday section, seasonal section. Checked the aisle end displays. Checked the middle of the aisle displays. Nothing but Spiderman candy canes. Those would NOT have matched my snowman mugs. I talked with 3 other ladies who were also looking for candy canes. What is up with not having candy canes?!

Anyway, I paid for my items and have returned home. After eating cold pizza and putting the boys to bed I have spent the rest of my evening writing this extremely long and pointless blog post. Don't you feel better after reading it? I know I do now that I've written it. I can check off all those things I've been trying to remember to tell you. = )

One more thing and then I'm done. Will's made-up joke for the day: "Why did the turtle cross the road? So he could get some gas." hahahahahahahahaha!

Christmas Children's Books

This year I've been on the look-out for quality Christmas books. After four years of collecting children's books we've managed to add ZERO Christmas ones to our collection. I'm not sure how that's happened. I totally intend to remedy the situation during the after-Christmas bargain sales.

In the meantime, I stumbled across the holiday section in our children's library. Who knew they had pulled ALL the books about the various holidays from the picture book section and placed them on shelves behind the juvenile fiction area?! I certainly didn't! Not having children old enough to read "chapter books" I seldom go in that area. But now I know.

I spent a good deal of time sorting through and reading the books to make sure I approved of their message before bringing them home. Here are three books I checked out and have enjoyed reading to the boys this month.


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Good King Wenceslas verses by J.M. Neale, illustrated by Jamichael Henterly. Published by E.P. Dutton, 1988. If you are familiar with the Christmas song then you already know the words of this book. The complete verses and simple score (am I using that correctly?) are included on the final page.

The vocabulary used in the song is a bit advanced for my guys but I don't think that is a bad thing. The illustrations are telling the story of the song so the reader can easily explain new words by pointing to the pictures. The illustrations are also realistic rather than cartoon-ish and are set in the time period of King Wenceslas. Furnishings, food, and clothing give the reader a feel for the historic time period.

My only words of caution is the reference to "Saint Agnes" and illustration of a statue of the saint. I caution for that because we are Baptist and don't "do Saints." But we live in a part of the country where a Catholic church is on every corner and statues of Saints sit in lots of yards. If you have older children this could be a good jumping off point to research Saint Agnes. My other caution is the reference to wine and illustrated wine barrels. We have chosen not to drink alcoholic beverages so if your children, like mine, are unaccustomed to such references it could raise questions.

I think this book is worth owning. The rich colorful illustrations bring a classic song to life. As usual, I think my children will "grow into" this book.


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I found another illustrated Christmas song during my library search. The Little Drummer Boy, illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats, published by Macmillan, 1968. Once again lyrics and simple music score are included in the back of the book.

The illustrations have a definite middle eastern feel to them, which I enjoy given the Caucasian leanings of most children's picture books. I have no idea what to call the technique Mr. Keats used. Rich colors and varied patterns are chosen over intricate details. The pictures are not realistic but I wouldn't say they are abstract either.

My favorite page has the words "Baby Jesus, (pa-rum-pum-pum-pum)" and shows part of a cradle with just the arm and hand of Jesus reaching up. I've seen my own children reach out exactly like that countless times. The illustration reminds me of the Messiah's ordinary infancy.

I think this is a quality book for bringing another classic song to life.


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Not all the books I chose are songs. You may have seen The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg around for awhile. I even saw a DVD of the book in a CBD catalog.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I like the telling of the story of the candy cane. Every time my guys see a candy cane they say "J is for Jesus." I also appreciate how the Crucifixion isn't "candy coated." (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)

What makes me uncertain is that, to me, it feels like two different stories that have been put into one book: the story of Mr. Sonneman setting up his candy shop and the legend of the candy cane. The combination of the two stories doesn't completely work for me but my husband and sons really like the book. So I plan on searching for this book to own, though, of the three books, I am least enthusiastic about this one.
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Out of curiousity, and the desire for quality books, are there any Christmas books you recommend I add to my collection?

Friday, December 14, 2007

O What A Day!!!

Yesterday, Thursday, I woke up with a clear plan for the day.
1. 8:45 AM. Back-to-back appointments at the dentist for Joel and I.
2. Drop the family back at home so Ellie could nap. Grab my list of what to buy where.
3. Shop until I almost dropped.
4. Return home for lunch.
5. 1:30 PM. Back-to-back appointments at the eye doctor for Joel and I.
6. Complete shopping.
7. Return home for late naps.
8. Eat early supper.
9. 7:00 PM Joel attend a Men Only outing with our church.
10. Kids in bed early so I could blog.

Ask me how well my plans worked. Pretty well until lunch. Then the master plan went out the window.

The dentist had CNN airing on the t.v. in the waiting room. I watched the weather report predicting 2-4 inches of snow for NYC, 4-6 inches for Boston. That could mean anything for us. We could get the 6 inches or we could get nothing. Ah, the joy that is Rhode Island weather.

Undaunted, I dropped the family at home and headed off for my 2+ hours of kid-free shopping. Over an hour later I emerged from the Christmas Tree Shop. (How do I even describe this store?! Don't let the name fool ya, they sell way more than Christmas things.) I drove across the parking lot to Stop and Shop (major supermarket chain) and noticed a few tiny sputtering flakes. "Hey, maybe we'll get some snow after all," I thought.

Half an hour later (give or take) I rushed out of Stop and Shop to see large flakes falling slowly to the ground. Hmm.. not good. Ten years of living in Rhode Island has taught me that Rhode Islanders believe all snow storms will turn into blizzards which will cause life as we know it to stop and they will be housebound for weeks. Thus they must leave work early and go buy milk and bread on their way home.

I had intended to visit another grocery store (where milk and bread are MUCH cheaper) after our eye doctor appointments. Through experience I have learned waiting a few hours may mean no milk and bread and since I had NONE of these two items in my house I decided I'd rush through Price Rite on my way home.

So, up Route 2 I schlepped. Through the snow and the traffic. I quickly navigated my way through the aisles grabbing things that were on my list. When I came out of the store the flakes were huge and falling fast. My normally 8 minute drive home took 25. This did not bode well for our drive to the eye doctor.

I arrived home in time to unload the van, put away perishables, wolf down a PB&J and suit up the kids for the trip to the eye doctor. Again, a drive that normally takes me 8 minutes took 40!! Insanity I tell you! I saw plows and sand trucks several times but none were plowing. What's up with that?!

I had planned to do a bit of shopping next door in the mall while Joel endured his eye exam. (Our optometrist is at the Sears Optical which is on one end of the mall.) Imagine my surprise to find the mall CLOSED!! For a little snow people! During the Christmas season!! It shows you just how dead that particular mall is (2 levels, on the lower level there is a dollar store, video game store, scary witches store, crazy statue store, the DMV, and a snack bar; I kid you not 75 percent of the shop spaces are empty.).

We returned to the doctor's office and waited on Joel to finish. Then the kids and I walked to the other end of the mall (through the snow) to Wal-Mart. If you have 3 kids you understand why I walked them and let Joel move the van. Anyway. I finished up my shopping that I'd wanted to do at the dollar store and we headed home.

An HOUR later we arrived home. An hour. To go 3 miles. You may recall Joel's walk home from Wal-Mart a couple of months ago. He walked the same route in the same amount of time it took us to drive it last night.

I think we were both relived to hear Joel's Man outing for church was cancelled. Instead he had the pleasure of shoveling the driveway and sidewalk leading up to our house (it's required for the mailman to deliver the mail). The boys had a great time "helping" him but I'm not sure how much fun Joel had. Thankfully it didn't snow much more during the night so he only had about an inch to contend with this morning before work.

I'm not sure what the official totals were for the snow but my yard has about four inches in it. Up to Ben's knees. = ) The kids and I played in the snow for a little while today. Or rather the boys and I played. Ellie just cried. And cried. And cried. I was surprised she cried so much. She loves being outside and brought me her coat to go out. In her defense she has about 4 teeth in varying states of coming through the gums. And she had shots last week at the pediatrician. He warned me that they might not "kick in" until this week. Yesterday she ran a low grade temperature. Hopefully tomorrow she'll be more enthusiastic about the snow.

Playing in the Snow










Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Blessed.

Every December I like to look back in my journal and review the goals I set for the year. 2007 goal achievement wasn't stellar but I can see some definite improvements in specific areas and some other areas that still need a lot more work.

Take for example: "Exercise 3 days a week." Bwahahahahahahahahahaha!!! Does carrying laundry up and down the stairs to the washer and dryer in the basement count? I'm sure you can guess into which category that one falls.

Then there was "Email my mom weekly." Yea, right. That didn't happen either. But we have been talking on the phone about once a week. I consider that a success when I redefine my goal as increasing and maintaining regular communication with my mom.

My journal reminded me of another specific goal and an accompanying prayer. January 29, 2007: "I believe You [God] are able to provide the $17,500 to pay off the home equity loan...Please provide the money to pay off this loan by the end of the year." I should say, Joel and I set the goal, then I privately prayed the prayer.

We committed ourselves to paying off our home equity loan as quickly as possible. And then I forgot all about my prayer and the part about believing God for December 31.

I didn't forget about the loan. Believe me, denying myself that non-budgeted dinner at On the Border could only occur by keeping a greater goal in mind. Paying off that loan has been on my mind a lot this year. But somewhere along the way I decided it would be o.k. if the payoff didn't occur by the last day of 2007. I stopped fervently praying for it. And I stopped looking for ways God would provide.

But God. Don't you just love the sound of those two words?! But God didn't forget. He is faithful even when we are faithless.

Throughout this year God has provided the money to pay off our loan. First, the federal government refunded almost all of our taxes. Next, Joel received a fantastic raise. Then we cashed in a whole life insurance policy.

And last but not least, we sold a stock, or rather, God had our stock sold for us. We didn't even realize we had it until earlier this year. In fact, it's just been sitting there waiting for us to decide what to do with it. A few weeks ago the company was bought out or merged or something. Anyway. Our shares were bought back (I guess). And they sent us a big ole check. A big ole check that pays off the remaining balance on our equity loan!!!

Isn't God faithful?! In case you missed those numbers, God paid off a $17,500 loan balance for us in 12 months. Believe me when I say He did it. When I prayed that prayer in January there was no earthly way to see it paid off in 12 months. No earthly way.

But God could see the Heavenly Way. Aren't you glad He remembers the prayers we pray and then answers them even when we have forgotten?! What an amazing God I serve!

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." Malachi 3:10.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jesus the One and Only

Have you noticed that we are in the throes of the Christmas Season? I've noticed. It's kind of hard to miss.

First, there was the bumper-to-bumper traffic on Route 2, where my favorite grocery store happens to be located, as well as Sears, Wal-Mart, a Mall, and Target, just to name a few. Then the giant snowman reappeared in the yard across the street. Three houses down lights went up on the house as well as lawn decorations. And last, but not least, I've been receiving umpteen-hundred emails every day from Land's End, Toys R Us, and J.C. Penney all offering me "incredible sales".

I get it. We are in the season of stressed-out shoppers, enormous electric bills and "Season's Greetings."

With so many reasons to be stressed, Scrooge-like and bah-humbug, what are you doing to remember "the reason for the season" and prepare for the coming of Emmanuel?

I'm so excited to share what I've been doing! Right after Thanksgiving, I began a new devotional, Jesus: 90 Days with the One and Only by Beth Moore (you remember my BFF, right?). I had been looking for a devotional to do in preparation for Christmas. I wanted something that would keep my focus on the coming of the Messiah.

Boy, did I find it! Naturally, Beth starts the study of the life of Jesus with his birth. In fact, the first 9 days center on his birth. That's a tenth of the book! = ) I love how Beth never lets you forget that the "Baby" Jesus is also the grown-up, crucified, risen, and seated-at-the-right-hand-of-the-Father Jesus. While keeping Jesus the Christ in mind, she draws out details in the scripture passages of Jesus the Baby I had never pondered before.

Such as "Yeshu'a" (Jesus in Aramaic) was a common name. Kind of like "John" today. A common name for an uncommon person.

And did you know "Mary's Song" (Luke 1:46-55) reflects TWELVE different Old Testament passages?! Who better to mother the Word in Flesh than a momma with His Word already hidden in her heart?

I could go on but I'll stop and just let you go get the book. You still have time, you know. Consider it a Christmas present to yourself. Or tell your husband that you've already bought your present from him this year. = )

And the best part? Not only did I find a fabulous Christmas devotional but I also found a wonderful Easter devotional. All in one book. How's that you ask? Have you noticed Easter is early in 2008? On March 23. I realize that is over 90 days from when I started the book but who are we kidding? No way was I EVER going to finish it in 90 days! I'm being realistic here. My goal is to read the final day near Easter.

So that's what I'm doing to prepare for the arrival of Baby Jesus and the Ascension of the Lamb. What are you doing for yourself and your family? Please share!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Quote of the Day, 12.09.07

One of my boys' favorite games is wrestling with Daddy. They especially like to squeal and holler for help when being "attacked" by Daddy. Tonight Daddy had Will "pinned" on the couch while Ben played Daddy-free with a toy. Will started asking for help. "Ben, get Daddy! Help me Ben!"

To which Ben sagely responded, "Sawwy. You on yawr own." (Sorry. You're on your own.) And continued playing with his toy.

How's that for some brotherly love? = )

Friday, December 7, 2007

Quote of the Day, 12.7.07

William has recently discovered jokes. He doesn't understand why they are funny but he likes to hear them and then laughs like crazy. During a recent supper he made up the following joke.

"What is the chipmunk's favorite cookie?"
"Blueberry Pie!!"

And then he burst into laughter. So did Joel and I.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wedding Vows

Please click over and visit my friend Alicia. She posted recently about her 7 year wedding anniversary.

If you've been married for awhile you'll probably find yourself nodding and saying "amen!"

If you are a newlywed or dreaming of that not-so-sparkly ring (Rachel and Jess) TAKE NOTES!!! = ) Said with love, of course.

I Won Something!

I've been remiss in my duties as a blogger! I know that surprises you given my unexplained absence for most of last month. = )

Several weeks ago Stephanie at {Olive Tree} wrote a book review and hosted a giveaway of the same book. Shockingly, I won a copy of the book.

I say "shockingly" because I never win anything. NE-VER. Unlike my lucky younger brother who wins all the time. For example, I distinctly remember a road trip to my Grandparents house during which we stopped for gas and drinks. Stephen bought a Dr. Pepper, opened the lid and won a free Dr. Pepper. He immediately took it back inside the store for his freebie. When he opened that bottle he had won another free bottle! How lucky can you get?! But I digress. Back to the book.

After my unplanned imaginary trip to a remote tropical island I re-entered Bloggyland and discovered I had won Stephanie's giveaway. Well, my new book arrived last weekend. I have to tell you, you want this book. You may not know that you want it, but you SO want it. Especially if you are a mommy to a son.

(Note to Michelle - this would make an AWESOME Christmas present for a certain mommy we both enjoy reading at Tales of Toddlerhood. But I should warn you that she does occasionally stop by here so she'll probably see this.)


What's that? You want the name of the book? You've probably seen other reviews around Bloggyland. I Love You More by Laura Duksta.The momma and son describe to each other their love. "I love you stronger than the strongest big river dam." "I love you louder than the loudest rocket ship ever blasted." In the end they each say to one another, "know what? I love you more!"

This book is particularly appealing to me because of a game my boys and I play. I often say, "Will, guess what?" He says, "What?" Then I say, "I love you." The best is when he replies, "I love you, too, Momma."

Benjamin has altered the game some. After my initial question he skips straight to "I love you." So now I reply to him, "YOU love me!" He's taken to parroting back, "You love me." To which I reply, "I love you." It's a fun game no matter what version I'm playing.

OK back to the book. The illustrations are full page and full color. Child-like in style. My guess is the illustrator used some kind of chalk or crayon. Regardless of what the medium was the illustrations have a softness to them that I enjoy. Will especially liked the drawing of a beaver standing beside his dam.

So there you have it. My first prize from a Bloggyland giveaway. And a fabulous one and that. Maybe I should take another unplanned imaginary trip to a tropical island. Anyone know of any laptop giveaways I could enter before I leave?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Do missionaries drive monster mashing trucks?

William is four-and-a-half years old. That means there are days when I wish I could duct tape him to a wall for a few hours. Or at the least duct tape him in his chair during a meal. And don't even get me started on the non-stop chatter coming from his mouth!

But then there are moments when I could just eat him up with a spoon. You know what I mean. When he says or does something so sweet I just melt inside and remember the rewards that come with my job. Like when he spontaneously gives Ellie a big hug around the neck and a kiss on the check and says, "Ellie, I love you." Or like Sunday night when I thought he was going to tell me the trick he was planning to play on me. He leaned over and whispered into my ear. But instead of some elaborate plan he said, "I love you." How sweet is that?! (And a little bit ornery.)

And then there was tonight. After reading about the Uzbek people and a missionary couple who works with them, Joel asked Will if he wanted to pray. This is what came out of his mouth. "God, thank you for sending Jesus to earth to die on the Cross and live again. Help the people who don't know you believe. In Jesus name. Amen."

He's also told me several times that we need to go tell the people overseas about Jesus. He's stated that when he's a grown-up he'll go tell them. Could I be training a certain retiring missionary's replacement?

Lest you think more highly of my preschooler than you ought, he also tells me he's going to be an astronaut, a race car driver (Thank you, Lightening McQueen), and a monster mashing truck driver (we have a DVD).

They need to hear about Jesus, too!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

How am I - The Emotional/Spiritual Stuff

***Edited to add: This post was written around November 17th. With Thanksgiving and all I forgot about it and just did the final edit tonight.

Thank you for the warm emails asking how I'm doing. The short answer is "good."

I've done a lot of processing in the last week or so. Most of my processing has been through journaling my prayers. This is a habit I developed several years ago. It REALLY helps me focus when praying or at the very least pick up where I left off when I get distracted.

I've also talked a lot with Joel. I have to brag on my husband. When I wanted to talk, he has listened. And he has said the right things at the right time. And he understood that I wasn't up to housework, laundry or cooking all week. Especially the cooking (he's even posted a blog about all the restaurants he ate at this week). For a man, those things are huge! The talking. Not so much the eating out. = )

Honestly, our marriage has worked really well through this. I think that comes with being married for 10 years and having already worked out our "stuff" as well as going through several crisis/grief situations together.

In all of my processing I've learned a lot about grief this week. At the beginning of the week I thought I would work through my grief and then go back to normal life. Sort of like a detour around road construction. You get off the your desired road, take a couple of side roads, and then get back on the normal road.

It seemed reasonable that we would get back to normal life because the miscarriage hasn't changed anything about our regular life. No hospital visits. No major physical pain. No dramatic memories. Just a weekend laying in bed.

The more I've prayed and processed the more I've realized that this wasn't a detour. This was bumping through the construction and coming out changed on the other end. Even though my every day life and family may not be changed by this loss, I am changed. I am different.

I have now joined the ranks of women who have miscarried a baby. That means I have a baby waiting for me in heaven. Talk about changing your outlook on life on earth! It makes me even more eager for heaven!

I am also more sensitive and empathetic to the losses other women have gone through. Several of you have shared your stories with me. I am struck by how intense this kind of grief is for all of us. How we all have changed through the healing of such a deep wound.

I also noticed that the struggle with this wound is not as deep for me as it has been for most of you. Part of me actually felt guilty about this. Like maybe I was letting my baby down by not grieving more deeply. I know this isn't rational. And I've worked through it, but you know how irrational emotions are.

As I've processed everything I've realized why my grief hasn't been overwhelming. Mainly because this is my fourth baby and because my desire for more children (or a girl/boy) is not as forceful as it once was. Because I already have three children I haven't had to wrestle with the fear of never birthing children. Or fight the jealousy over the babies of friends and families. And because I've been down the pregnancy road, I had already learned that this kind of miscarriage isn't my fault and there was nothing I could do to stop it. And because I already have 2 sons and a daughter I haven't had to wrestle with God over my dream for one or the other.

All of that to say, I really am doing well. God is teaching me much about myself, grief, and how people react to grief in others. I hope this is a catalyst for me to grow more Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5). Cause let me just say, this pruning hurt!

Christmas Book Recomendations

The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel.

(I laughingly say I'm a Lisa Whelchel groupie. I own at least four of her books.) This book packs 25 "chapters" full of ideas for moms looking to keep little hands busy while filling young minds with the meaning of Christmas. Each chapter includes a brief story or script describing a facet of Christmas (Advent Wreath, Christmas Tree, Angels, Baking, just to name a few).Games, craft and baking ideas are also given. And last but not least, Lisa lists a couple of questions to use when a "Teachable Moment" presents itself.

My children are 4.5 years, 2.5 years and 15 months old so some of the activities are beyond their abilities right now. But even those chapters are great starting points for my own creativity. One thing I'm struggling with is the desire to use every activity! I keep reminding myself not to go crazy. There's always next year for the chapters we don't get to this year.


The Twelve Teas of Christmas by Emilie Barnes.

This book is one of a series Mrs. Barnes has about tea. Twelve "chapters" each center around its own theme complete with recipes, decor ideas, crafts, and historical notes about tea. If you enjoy a cup of hot tea and are looking for ideas for grown up parties or Girls Night this book is for you. With attractive illustrations is also makes a nice coffee table book for those who need something other than Santa or Larry the Cucumber to look at. = )


Christmas Carols for a Kid's Heart by Bobbie Wolgemuth and Joni Eareckson Tada.

This book is the third in a series. Twelve "chapters" each include verses of scripture, a relevant story or devotional (the other books in the series include biographies of the hymn's composer or author), the words of a Christmas Carol (all hymns) and a prayer. A cd of all the songs is tucked into the back of the book. The songs, for the most part, are sung by children but do not have that cute-sy style of arrangement that so much of children's music has today.

I've enjoyed listening to this cd and will soon start reading the chapters to my older two children as a kind of devotional. A few illustrations are used which will keep my guys interested. Again, I think my little troop is on the young side for this book but I hope they grow to love it in the coming years.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Week in Review

We had quite the whirlwind week for Thanksgiving. On Monday (November 19) my parents flew up from Arkansas. (Go here if you missed their travel adventure.) Monday night after meeting them at the airport we ate a late supper at Chili's.

Tuesday my Mom and I went shopping. Of course we did! Did you doubt that would happen? Partly we shopped for their Christmas gifts to my children. We had planned in advance to exchange Christmas gifts and Mom felt she hadn't bought enough presents yet. You know Grandmas. The other purpose for our shopping was for ME! I managed to score a nice brown (fake) leather jacket, black dress slacks, and a soft pink turtleneck sweater.

After all our shopping we returned home to find my dad on Grandpa Duty, my kids having a fantastic time, and my husband extremely frustrated. (The short version is that Joel replaced the insides of one of our very old toilets. A short project turned into an all day project when he couldn't get the water to stop leaking on the floor. It has since been fixed. Yeah for a handy husband!) We loaded up the van, left Joel to tend the leaky toilet and ate supper at McDonald's, or "Old McDonald's" as my guys call it. After letting my guys burn off some energy we returned home and exchanged our presents.

Wednesday was my birthday. 33. Can you believe it?! This was the first time I remember being with my parents on my birthday since my senior year in high school. And that was a long time ago. To celebrate my birthday the grown-ups followed the kids around Providence Children's Museum. A very fun place that never fails to excite my boys. Then I got to pick where to eat supper. On the Border. Is there any place else? Joel tells me he's pretty burnt out and one more trip there just might be my last. I just can't help myself. I think I'm addicted to their salsa.

After a delicious and spicy meal we returned home to the cake Grandma and Will made earlier in the morning. And I opened my presents from Joel and the kids. Snugly fleece Tweety Bird pajamas. The Princess Bride on DVD and with the book. Matching hat, scarf, & gloves. And some pleasant scented candles. I made out like a bandit!

Thursday was Thanksgiving. What more can I say about that? We did the usual meal and lounged around the house.

Friday my parents left for a road trip to Niagara Falls. My Mom has always wanted to go there and this was the perfect opportunity. While there they celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary. They returned to us on Monday night and we ate supper at Friendly's. Then they flew home Tuesday morning.

Let's see: Chili's, McDonald's, On the Border, Turkey, Leftovers, Leftovers, Leftovers, Friendly's. Boy, did I have a good week! = )

This week I've been restoring order to my home. And washing laundry. The never ending job. I've also been trying to figure out how to get out of cooking. I haven't come up with any creative plans, yet. But I'll let you know if I do. = )

Friday, November 30, 2007

Emily: Homeward Bound & First Week

For those who aren't familiar with Emily's story her parents are close friends of ours. Emily was born October 10, 2007. She has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. The following emails came November 19 and November 26.

Hello y'all,

Today was a banner day in the [last name deleted] household! Emily Rose is finally home! We can not begin to express our joy! I didn't believe it was going to happen until we finally had her in the car and we were driving away. I didn't want to get my hopes up too high because they have been shot down so many times before. She is asleep right now and has been a little fussy at times, but nothing we can't handle.

Only time will tell how well she does with sleeping tonight. The nurses told us that the other night she woke up around 4:00 am and began fussing. They turned on the TV to VH1 (certainly not our first choice!) and she quieted down...until it came to a commercial; then she cried until the music came on again. I guess she likes her
music. At least from now on Dawn and I can monitor the kind of music she listens to. It's only Christian music with a dash of country once in a while; but no Toby Keith.

We realize that many of you will want to come and see little Emily, but we ask that you follow a few rules that Dawn and I have agreed upon. First and foremost, please don't drop by unannounced. We prefer you call and set up a time that works for us. She has a lot of doctors appointments, so we may not even be home. We also want to schedule your time when she will be most alert and not interfering with her sleeping schedule...although she can sleep through a train wreck.

Second, we ask that you refrain from bringing your children (12 and under) with you for a visit. Because of her surgery and the medications that she is on, her immune system is not fully developed and we want to keep her as healthy as possible for as long as we can. This also refers to you, as the visitor. If you are experiencing cold symptoms, please hold off your visits until you are feeling better.

On a different note...God has poured His blessings upon us in the past month through our friends and family, and Dawn and I want to give back. What we have decided to do is purchase hooded sweatshirts for the homeless in downtown Louisville. So, if you were planning on buying something for Dawn, me or even Emily this Christmas we ask that you refrain! Emily has enough outfits in various sizes to last us until late spring, so resist the desire to buy her more. She doesn't need any more toys, stuffed animals or things that squeak. What we ask that you do instead, is make a donation to a charity in her name; you could send us a check and we will put it towards a sweatshirt, or you could give to another cause of your choice. If you desire, you could mail us a sweatshirt that you don't wear any more and we will add it to our collection. My goal is to give away between 50 and 100 hooded sweatshirts.

Again, we want to thank you all for the outpouring of love, prayers and support. Our cup overfloweth! Not a day goes by that we don't get a card or package in the mail and we know it is God providing for our every need.

We love you all and covet your continued prayers as we begin to find out what it is really like being a full time parent.

Al for His glory,

Mike
Eph 2:4-7

PS Enjoy the picture of Emily on her first day at home.


****************************************************


Hello all,

As I always do, I would like to first say that we thank you all for your continued prayers and blessings that continue to come in. God has provided for our every need and our cup is overflowing with blessings from above. We give God the glory for every good thing that we receive because we know that it ultimately came from Him.

Our week started off very quiet and uneventful. I took the beginning part of the week off from work so that Dawn and I could get adjusted to our new lifestyle. We got our first real taste of parenthood and enjoyed the fact that we were finally in control of how Emily was being treated. Our biggest frustration with the hospital was the fact that she had a different nurse every day. Each nurse had a different way of doing things and Emily didn't always like the way she was treated.

It took us a few days to figure things out and get Emily adjusted to the way we do things. Our biggest problem was and still is the fact that she doesn't sleep during the day. She wakes up at 6:00 for her feeding and can stay up until 4:00 in the afternoon sometimes. We are trying to break her of this habit, but it may take some time.

Thanksgiving was a wonderful day! First and foremost, we were thankful that we got to spend the day with our new daughter. A few ladies from our church made us a turkey dinner and all the fixin's, and Dawn and Emily and I enjoyed our day watching the parade and It's a Wonderful Life. We have seen the movie a hundred times, but this year it hit home a lot more. At the end when the whole community comes to the rescue of George Bailey by showering him with love and gifts...that's how we have felt for the past month. You never know how much you are loved and appreciated until you have a tragedy in your life and you find out how many people really love you and care for you. We are truly blessed!

I decided to go back to work on Friday and that's when things took a turn for the worst. I came home for lunch (I work a mile down the road) and everything was fine, although Dawn still had not had time to take a shower. I ate and went back to work. About 2:30, I got a call from Dawn to come home now! The feeding tube came out of Emily's chest! When we left the NICU, the nurse told us not to panic if this happened because most likely it would; but who can help panicking when you know that your baby has a hole in her chest and now you have to go to the emergency room to have the tube put back in.

I rushed home, packed up Emily and Dawn and sped to the Children's Hospital. The funny thing is that Emily was more calm than Dawn and I. She cried a little, but I think Dawn was crying more. After waiting about an hour, we were finally seen by a doctor. He tried to put a tube in and couldn't get it in the hole because it had closed up. This is not what we wanted to hear! Emily didn't want to hear that either!

A little blurb about the feeding tube. There are three different tubes she can get. The first is a dark yellow tube that you may have seen if you have ever given blood. They tie a tube around your arm to stop the flow of blood so they can find a vein. This is what the tube looked like that she had in her. At the end of the tube was an expandable tip to keep it in the body; but it is made of rubber, so it comes out easily. The next tube, which is what she has now, is a clear plastic and has a balloon on the end. The doctor inserts the tube and then fills the balloon with a little water to keep it in place. The tube comes out of the chest, just below the rib cage, (just like the first one) but this one has a rubber washer on the outside of the chest to hold it in place. So the balloon keeps it from coming out and the washer keeps it from going in. The third and final tube is a button. This tube will lay flat to the skin and will pop open when it is time to feed her. This is the thing that will be put on when the hole completely heals. Think of it like an earring. If you take the earring out too early, the hole will close up, but once it heals, you can go a few days without an earring and it won't close on you. We are waiting for it to completely heal!

Back to the story...because the tube wouldn't go in, the doctor decided to sedate her and reopen the hole. In order to sedate her, they had to put an IV in to give her the drugs and to test her blood. It took three nurses and six tries before they got a successful IV. They tried her two hands, her two arms (one arm twice) and finally had to put it in her foot. Every time they tried, they had to hold her down and listen to her scream until they finished. This was a long and exhausting hour and a half!

With the IV in and the drugs flowing, they were able to expand her hole. They did this by inserting metal rods into the hole. A small one, then a bigger one, and a bigger one, until they got their desired width. It was a good thing that she was out cold for this. It was hard to watch! They put the tube in and blew up the balloon and showed us how to take care of it. She was then taken to have x-rays to make sure it was in the right place...then more x-rays 20 minutes later and then we fed her to make sure it worked. Six hours later, we left the emergency room physically and emotionally exhausted!

Saturday was another tough day. With the first tube, it was easy for Emily to push out the food. If she was experiencing gas, she would tighten up her stomach and she could burp through the tube. This new tube is not as easy; she has to work to push out and the first day of feeding, she couldn't do it. So, after every feeding she had an upset stomach and would cry uncontrollably for an hour or two. Needless to say, we were discouraged and not too excited about this new tube.

Sunday took a turn for the better. She learned how to push out with the new tube, so gas was less of an issue. She was more calm after feeding and was actually a joy to be around again. We think we are past the worst of it and the future looks bright. We know that at every turn, there are going to be trials that will test our faith and our patience, but we serve a mighty God who is in control of all things and He will not give us more than we can handle.

Today, Dawn spent the day alone with Emily and did a great job!

I feel like I have so much more to say, but I am experiencing writers block. I will give you another update later in the week to add all that I may have wanted to say, but didn't have the words for it tonight.

We love you all,

Mike
Eph 2:4-7

I'm Back.

I wish I could say my absence has been due to a vacation on a remote tropical island where Internet connections are impossible. Lush flora, warm gentle waves and colorful fish for snorkeling sounds heavenly right now. Unfortunately, that is far from the reality I call life.

The reality is that my parents flew in on the 19th for a week long visit. In my home. Where not one, not two, but three little people live. As you can imagine I spent the week leading up to their arrival cleaning and washing laundry. And cleaning some more. And washing laundry some more. Monday morning saw me as ready as I was going to be for their arrival.

My parents left Arkansas at 6 AM central time Monday morning. Their simple itinerary should have had them at my house in time to eat lunch and then put the children to bed for slightly delayed naps. Operative words: should have.

Due to fog in Atlanta and low fuel in their plane, they diverted to Chattanooga where they had the pleasure of sitting on a runway for over an hour waiting to go back to Atlanta. It goes without saying that they passed their connecting flight to Rhode Island on the return trip to Atlanta.

A couple hours after finally making it to Atlanta my Dad called on his cell phone (he called a couple of times from Tennessee, too) to say they were finally boarding. Yeah! We would try to squeeze in a short nap for all the kiddos before meeting them at the airport in two-and-a-half hours. Mom and Dad would still be able to rest before we picked up Joel for supper (why we had to pick up Joel is a whole other story, the short version is his truck is unreliable). About 20 minutes later Dad called again.

"The nightmare continues" were his exact words. Due to mechanical difficulties they had to UNLOAD the plane. This regularly scheduled flight should have left around 12:30 EST. Anyone who has flown knows how it goes. "We'll take off in an hour." "Go to XYZ gate." "It's going to be another hour." "Go to ABC gate." Etc...etc...etc..

They finally left Atlanta after 4:30 PM and arrived here about 7:00 PM. In case you are counting, that's 11 hours from start to finish. ELEVEN hours for a trip that should have taken 5. I told Dad they could have come and gone back again in the same amount of time.

And so began our Thanksgiving Week. Three excited grandchildren. Two travel weary grandparents. And one momma who can't help wondering how much a plane ticket to that tropical island costs.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Latest News on Emily

Hello all,

Just wanted to update you on Emily and let you know about the news that we have received today.

Yesterday, I talked to the cardiologist and here is the scoop in the plainest English I can muster): As Mike mentioned, they are not concerned about the valve in Emily's heart that did not close - the opening is not big enough to cause issues for her. However, when they did the echo-cardiogram they did discover something odd. It looks like she has a Partial Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return. That means that one of the veins that is supposed to go from her lungs to the left side of her heart appears to be going to the right side of the heart instead. This causes the right side of her heart to work harder than it should and can cause it to get bigger than the left side. Many people live with this condition for a long time & don't even know that they have it. Since Emily's symptoms are not that serious they are not going to take action right now. She may need to have this corrected surgically as she gets older (maybe when she is 6 or 7). So in the meantime, Emily will have one more doctor to visit on a regular basis as the cardiologists keeps an eye on her heart to make sure things do not get worse.

The surgeon has checked on Emily and says that she looks good - she has been healing well from her g-tube & nissen surgery. He may change the tube that she has before we are sent home, but that is a minor thing and will not hold us up for long.

Now on to the good news...........

Emily will be able to go home on Monday as long as she continues to gain weight on Saturday & Sunday. Mike and I have talked about sneaking her some extra feedings just to make sure this happens! As of last night she weighed 10 lbs. 10 oz. - she put on weight for the first time in quite a few days. She has been losing weight since the surgery even though she has been eating more than 4 ounces at each feeding. They switched her formula to a soy formula. So far this seems to be helping with the weight gain & some other issues she has had (excessive gas & explosive diarrhea - YUCK!).

One thing that we do ask that you pray for (besides her gaining weight ), is her bottle feeding. Since the surgery she has a lot of excess secretions in her mouth & this makes her gag and retch. Because of the nissen she can not throw up, so when she gags it is pretty horrendous to watch. She does OK spitting it out or sometimes swallowing it, but it seems that she will have to learn how to handle this on a long term basis. We think this issue has caused her to lose interest in bottle feeding - she seems to think that she will gag whenever you stick the bottle in her mouth. So we need to work on this with her and the speech therapist. Our hope was that she would do well with the bottle feeding once she went home and right now we are not sure how this will go. So we ask that you pray about this. We are thankful that she can still get the nutrients that she needs through her g-tube & this won't affect her health, but it would be nice if she would eat from a bottle and eventually have the g-tube removed if that is what God wills.

Mike and I have talked a lot recently about how thankful we are. Spending time in the NICU helps us to realize that we really don't have it so bad (although it may sound that way to some of you). God has blessed us with a beautiful girl and we are so grateful. She has some challenges ahead of her, but they are nothing compared to the struggles a lot of others have. And we know that the Lord is with us every step of the way - that brings us such comfort!

We do thank you for all of the support, prayers and love that has been poured out on us. God has provided for us in every way possible. We will continue to keep you posted about Emily's progress.

In HIS strength,

Dawn

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

HE is Still Sovereign!

Hello all,

I'm sure by now some of you are thinking that we are here taking care of Emily in her new home, but that is not the case. As a matter of fact, we don't know when (again) she will be able to come home.

She had surgery last Thursday and all went well. She was recovering great and they fed her through the tube earlier than anticipated. It was looking great for her to come home on Monday or Tuesday (today [Tuesday]
). I sent Dawn to the hospital on Monday with directions to ask everyone what we need to do to make sure that she comes home tomorrow (which was today [Tuesday]). She went there anticipating Emily coming home either today or tomorrow and was hit with a blow that took her breath away. The doctor told her that Emily was breathing too fast and her heart rate was too high. She then proceeded to tell her that there may be complications with her heart and she may need heart surgery. Too say the least, this took us by surprise. They never mentioned any of this before...and we spent the weekend getting the house ready for her to come home!

A brief explanation...when the baby is in the womb, it gets the oxygen for its blood from the mother. Because of this, there is a valve in the heart to divert some of the blood away from the lungs and back into the aorta. After birth, this valve closes and the lungs do the job of getting the oxygen into the blood stream. In Emily's case, it was thought that this valve was not closed; therefore, her blood was not getting the oxygen it needed and so she was breathing heavy and it was causing her heart rate to go up.

Yesterday, the cardiologist did an ECHO and determined that the valve, although not completely closed was not a cause of concern. The heart surgery would have been to close this valve, so the threat of heart surgery has been eliminated! Today, they did an EKG and we are hoping that will give us (and them) a better understanding for the increased rate of breathing.

Needless to say, every day in the
[Last Name Deleted for the sake of security] household is an adventure. We never know what to expect from one day to the next. The only thing that we are sure of, is that God is in control and He knows what He is doing. He is allowing these situations in our lives so that we will continually depend on Him...and we do!

So as for now, the G-tube is installed and she is eating fine. We are still trying to feed her with a bottle, but she has been a little temperamental with this. Some days she does good and other days, not so good. As I mentioned, we will know more tomorrow when we get the results of the EKG and we can get a better understanding of where we need to go from here.

Another concern has been her weight. She lost weight over the weekend, mostly because she had surgery and was eating far less than normal. Her food intake has increased and we are waiting to see if her weight also increases. It seems that the doctors think she is really cute (just like we do) and they don't want her to go home. She will get to come home some day, we just don't know when.

I know that it seems like we have a lot of drama here in the
[Last name deleted] household...and we do; but I don't want to give the impression that we have it so bad. Dawn and I were talking about how blessed we really are. In the NICU there are babies that are far worse off than Emily and parents who never get to take their child home alive. We spend time with her every day and enjoy every minute that we get with her. There are some babies that have single mothers who have to work and never get to visit their child. There are many people who have it a lot worse than we do and we never want to forget that! We can get so caught up in the pity party that we are in, that we forget how good we have it.

Today, take a look at all the ways that God has blessed you and give Him thanks and praise for every little thing...even the next breath you take, for even that is a blessing from Him.

Have a great day because this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

All for His glory,

Mike
Eph 2:4-7

Monday, November 12, 2007

How am I - The Physical Stuff.

Today I went to see my gynecologist. She did an exam and confirmed that everything is back to normal. I paid $25 to lose a little dignity and be told what I already know.

I really like my doctor, though. She delivered Ben and saw me through to Ellie's birth (she wasn't on-call when we got to the hospital). I'm very sad that she has dropped obstetrics!

One of the reasons I like her is when we had our first appointment for Ben she asked if we would want all the blood tests they offer for various abnormalities. She even explained that more often than not the tests have false positives. Then she said if we would not "terminate" (medical speak for "kill my baby") based on the tests then there was no point in doing them. And that was the end of that. She never brought them up again. Much different from the doctor I had with Will who looked at me like I was crazy when I said I didn't want the tests.

Then there's the fact that she's "let" me try to VBAC. Twice. Not that she was terribly helpful during labor but she didn't fight me on it.

Today clinched my liking her. As we discussed the miscarriage she made a point in saying that it wasn't my fault. I didn't DO anything to cause it and there was nothing I could have done to have prevented it. I haven't wrestled with any of those issues but I thought it was great of her to say that anyway. She also made a point of saying that a miscarriage is a loss. She affirmed that this baby was important and losing the baby is a big deal. I SO appreciate that.
Dr. Manning and her staff were just the right amount of sympathetic and understanding without being overly so. At least it was the right amount for me. = )

She asked if I had called their office when I started spotting. I told her "no." I knew there was nothing she or the hospital could do for me so I didn't see the point in all the drama. I was better off at home in my own bed where I could actually rest. Not to mention a trip to the hospital would have cost me $100! Just for them to say "Sorry, go home and go to bed." No, thanks. I'll keep my money. Plus, there's the little issue of babysitters.

After my explanation she said I was "tough" and agreed that I did the best thing. That there was nothing she could have done for me. She also said one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage during the first trimester. Guess I'm right on for the statistic. She added that having a miscarriage does not increase your risk or likelihood of having another one.

What does all this rambling mean? I'm fine. My body worked the way it's supposed to under the circumstances. My future risks are no greater than they were before. And according to my doctor, I made good decisions. It's nice to hear a doctor say what I've been saying all week. Even if it did cost me $25. And after birthing 3 babies it's not like I had much dignity left anyway. = )

Sunday, November 11, 2007

DISCOUNT!

One of my favorite "places" for shopping, especially holiday shopping, is CBD, also known as www.christianbook.com.

If you visit christianbook.com/radio you will receive a discount code for 10% off your order. I'm not sure when this ends. I heard it on WARV, Providence, RI. They will ask about that.

ALSO, in MomSense magazine (MOPs) there is an ad for 10% off $35. The code is 251451AH. It expires December 16, 2007. Sadly, you can't use them both. I know. I tried. = )

Happy Shopping!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Be quick to listen and slow to speak.

***Edited to Add: Please, please, please, please do not take this post personally!!! I am speaking from my heart about what God is teaching ME regarding MY own words and receiving what others say to me. I have not been offended or hurt by the words of others this week. I have considered the heart of each speaker and loved her for sharing with me. I love each of you who have called and emailed and appreciate you!!

"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs 25:11.

I've been thinking a lot about words today. As you can imagine, I've been on the receiving end of a lot of words this week. Spoken words as well as emailed words. Some words concisely expressed my thoughts and emotions. Some words felt, well, empty. And still others expressed ideas I disagree with, which only resulted in annoyance and irritation.

I know the hearts behind each of these words meant well. Each speaker intended to ease my grief. She desired to offer comfort. She sought, through words, to diminish my pain. From the depths of her own experiences and beliefs she offered her words to me.

It is new for me to be on the receiving end of such an outpouring of love. Frankly, it feels awkward and strange. I am accustomed to being on the giving end. Which also feels awkward and uncomfortable, but in a different kind of way.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have many friends and family members who have walked this path of miscarriage and grief ahead of me. I've thought about each one this week and wondered. Wondered if the words I offered during her time of mourning felt empty, or worse yet, painful. I'm sure to some they did. I prayed about this early in the week, asking God to forgive me for times when I spoke useless or painful words rather than just listening.

You know what? The Lord was gracious to me, as always. On Monday, a friend, who has walked this journey before me, emailed. She reminded me of a time after her own miscarriage when I simply listened to her, didn't try to make the pain go away, but just listened and prayed with her.

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Proverbs 16:24. Just as my lack of words had been sweet to her soul, my friend's reminder felt sweet to my own soul.

My Lord reminded me of His own words today. And what could be better than the words of the One who is The Word of Life?

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Matthew 5:4.

"Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver." Psalm 66:8-10.

"For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11.

"But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:7-8.

Emily's surgery update

Hey y'all,

I know you are probably getting sick of seeing my name pop up every day on your email Inbox, but here I am again.

I just wanted to give you a short note to let you know that Emily came through the surgery without any complications and she is doing well. As expected, she is in a lot of pain, but they are giving her some good drugs to help her with that. If all goes well, they will start feeding her today or tomorrow through the tube.

I will keep you updated as things change. God willing, she can be home early next week!

Thanks for all your continued prayers and emails,

All for His glory,
Mike
Eph 2:4-7

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Down to One.

Did you hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth coming from my house this week?

Ellie has officially given up her morning nap. I've known the day was coming for about a month. This week I bit the bullet and have let her stay up. Mainly because no matter how long I left her in the crib she didn't sleep. She did, however, wail at the top of her lungs like someone was beating her. Since I don't want my neighbors to call Child Protective Services I surrendered and gave up her morning nap. But I moved everyone's afternoon nap up half an hour. Shh! Don't tell the boys about that.

Oh, and the wailing and gnashing of teeth? That's totally coming from me! 'Cause every momma knows she needs nap time more than the children do!!

Emily Surgery Time

Hey y'all,

Just a quick note to let you know that Emily's surgery will take place at 10:30 am tomorrow
[Thursday Nov. 8].

Thanks for all your prayers,

Mike
Eph 2:4-7

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Little Miss Emily 10.7.07

Hello all,

Yesterday
[Tuesday] was a day to meet with all Emily's doctors. We started with the Neurologist who went over her MRI and EEG with us. He didn't really have any new information for us. It is entirely a waiting game. There is obvious damage to certain parts of her brain and the EEG showed that there is still "opportunity" for seizures. He would not pinpoint anything! It is too early to speculate anything except that there will be some problems. Right now she is having trouble with the reflexes on half of her body. We will only learn what other problems there are as she reaches or doesn't reach certain milestones in her life. She will have many different therapists working with her, plus mom and dad, so we will do the best we can to make her as mobile as she can be.

After he left, we talked to the Doctor in charge of her case. The best news that we got from her is that there is nothing stopping her from coming home except the G-tube. She informed us of different agencies that are ready and willing to work with us to get her the care she needs to live the best life she can.

As she was leaving, the surgeon walked in. We were able to discuss the G-tube and what that entails and all the fun stuff that goes with it. They are also going to do a procedure that will tie some of her stomach around her esophagus to stop reflux from occurring. God willing, she will have the surgery tomorrow
[Thursday]. We are unsure of a time, but we know tomorrow [Thursday]. THEN, depending on her recovery and how quickly we learn how to use the tube...she can come home! We are anticipating early next week! This is the one thing that we have been hoping and waiting for all along. She can finally have consistent care from people who know and love her.

As you can imagine, we are gearing up for sleepless nights and stressful days; but we don't have to travel back and forth to the hospital all day long. We know that our schedule will consist of doctors visits and therapy, but we will enjoy every
minute we get with our little one.

In the past month we have had the blessings of God rain down upon us and there is no way to thank you all. We have had someone lend us a car, many people cook meals for us, an outpouring of gifts given in the form of money and baby essentials and prayers too numerous to count. We never realized how loved we were until this happened. We are more amazed every day at how much people are willing to help us out...even people who don't know us. We know it is all from above, for we can do nothing good on our own accord, but only through the will of the Father.

We ask that you continue to pray for us and little Miss Emily as she has her surgery tomorrow and we prepare to take her home. The struggles for us are really just beginning. We have a lot to learn and look forward to each new challenge as an opportunity to share the love of Christ and give all the glory to God. He has blessed us with this child and we will make her a blessing to Him.

I have attached some of the latest pictures. She has many new outfits that she has to pose in, so mom and dad have been a little picture crazy; as is expected.

One last thing before I go. I graduated from seminary in May and have been unable to find a job in the area that I am searching. I am looking for an administrative position in a church or ministry. I am not gifted at preaching or teaching, although some might think these emails have been a little preachy. I have full confidence that God will provide for us financially in some way, shape or form, but we are unclear how this is going to happen. I am not asking you for a job, but I am asking that you pray specifically that God will guide us to where He needs me to be to serve Him best. He knows where He wants me to be, I just need to find where it is. Pray for wisdom and guidance on my part.

Thanks again for all your prayers and support,

We love you all!!!

Mike
Eph 2:4-7

PS Dawn has been reading the Gospel of John to Emily; how are you doing with that?


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