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,


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.

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.

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.

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.
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


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. = )
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