Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chloe Turns 8

Yesterday was Chloe's birthday. She is 8. So amazing that it was so long ago that she came into this world! She has grown into such a beautiful young lady. She is smart, funny, goofy, considerate, friendly and such a good girl. She is immediately friends with anyone she meets and leaves an impression on anyone who spends time with her. She is very emotional, feeling her world very deeply. She is empathetic of the situations of others as well as very good at thinking about the needs of other people. She fights with her siblings, and loves them deeply; she is almost always obedient, and disobeys with flair; she is too smart for her own good at times and gets herself in over her head. She is really creative - she loves to draw and color, paint, chalk or any other medium she can find to express herself. She writes adorable little stories that she illustrates and then reads to her dollies. She likes to have a clean room but doesn't like to be told to clean up. She hates to vacuum and can get herself into a complete tizzy at the idea of having to do it. She loves healthy food and will usually try anything that I put in front of her. She can be demanding and humble and also thoughtful and cruel.

I am having a hard time encapsulating her here... I don't feel like I'm doing her justice.. She is a masterpiece, crafted by God to be exactly what He wants her to be...  She is beautiful and special and wonderful... And I am so thankful that she is my OoEe.

We didn't have a party yesterday - just made dinner, cake and opened presents. She wanted a Jell-o cake so we started out with the rainbow cake mix and she chose watermelon Jell-o. Then I realized that we didn't have frosting. Off to Walgreens, where we discovered they only carry chocolate frosting. Thanks to Sharon, we ended up leaving the store with Cool-Whip and maraschino cherries. The cake ended up fantastic (much better than dinner) and she liked being part of preparing and decorating it.
We are still planning on having a large celebration after school is out and after the baby comes for both Nathan and Chloe. I'm going to be sending out the invitations this next week -- hopefully by then I'll have already had the baby and know more about how my life is progressing. Hopefully.
Lowell and I got Chloe some books including Black Beauty which I'm really excited for her to read and some clothes. She loves new clothes and looked adorable in everything! The grandma's gave her money so she is able to shop for whatever toys she wants. Auntie Leeda and Uncle Bread sent her a pillow pet. She was thrilled! :) She also got a new dress, earrings and a necklace from Mamoo along with a jump rope, yo-yo and coloring book.
When we snuggled last night, she said that she had a good birthday. I'm glad.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Chloe's Search for Truth

Chloe is very curious. And precocious. When together, these traits make for some very difficult conversations. For example, a couple of months ago, she tackled the issue of the trinity. She wanted to have it explained to her over and over again until she could grasp how one "person" could also be three "people". She has read the apple book - the analogy about how there are seeds, the pulp and the skin - but only one apple - but that wasn't sufficient for her. She still grappled with understanding and also with how it applied to her life. She can grasp the individual parts - she loves that God is her Heavenly Father, Jesus is her friend and the Holy Spirit is her helper and "conscience" but she can't seem to wrap her little brain around their together-ness. Finally I told her that, first of all, I don't get it either, but also that there have been people who have studied about God for years and years and they still don't quite fully understand it. The important part is to accept it on faith and to remember that if we could completely understand God, He wouldn't be God. Finally she seemed at peace with that issue.
As of last week, her questions have turned to how God can let people go to hell. Why do people go to "a bad place" just because they don't believe in God? What if they never heard about Him? Can God make someone love Him? If its so easy to believe in and love God, why don't people do it?
She seems very preoccupied with the "unfairness" of people going to hell. I think she's trying to wrap her head around how a loving God could "send" people to such a bad place. I've tried to explain to her that God doesn't want anyone to perish - He wants everyone to love Him and that He's sad when someone dies without knowing and accepting Him. So naturally, she wants to know why He doesn't just change the system and let everyone come to heaven. We've discussed how God is holy and how He can't be around sin so people who go to heaven have to be covered with the forgiveness that was given to us when Christ died on the cross. When someone dies who hasn't accepted that forgiveness, they still carry their guilt and still have to be punished. She doesn't understand. Sometimes, neither do I. My heart breaks at the thought of losing some of my friends and family for eternity to a place as terrible as hell.
Along with this conversation then comes questions about why sin has to be paid for with death - with sacrifice and with the shedding of blood. I have told her, up to this point, that this is the way God set up the system... Again, she asks, if He's God, He can change the system, right?
At this point in the conversation, I've come to the end of my theological knowledge and I have to try to redirect her to reading her Bible and asking God for those answers. I tell her that I don't know everything but that I believe what the Bible says and I believe that it is our love letter from God and that if there's anywhere she can find an answer to her questions, it would be there...
Who knew that in addition to a early childhood education degree, years of experience in housekeeping, and an elaborate understanding of psychology, you'd also need a masters in theology in order to raise children?!?!?!? Thankfully, I don't have to have all the answers because I know the One who does. My job is to teach her to go to the source of Truth and to learn from Him - not the screwed up, confused human that I am.
I love her curiosity. And I love that she is learning about God and grappling with these subjects. I pray that the journey will strengthen her faith. And mine too as we search for answers together.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Baby and Schedule Update

I went to see my doctor on Monday. He said that I'm still contracting (I knew that!) and that I'm still slowly dilating, but that he wants me to hold out until June 1st. That will get me to 37 weeks, and then I'll be able to deliver whenever I want! This will mean an end to the "modified activity" restriction that I've been on as well as the "pelvic rest". I'm very ready to be able to function without constantly monitoring my stomach and sitting on the couch for hours at a time to stop my contractions. On the other hand, I'm very thankful for how effective the progesterone shot treatment turned out to be. I've made it this far!!! :) That is definitely a blessing from God!
We still don't have a name picked out... Maybe he'll get named in the delivery room like Jillian did. :)
We've got almost everything that we need for now - I went yard sale-ing last weekend and found a high chair and a swing. We still don't have a dresser for his clothes and we're going to need a new crib soon because the one we were given doesn't work properly. When he is able to move around, we'll have to get a new one. And we definitely need to buy diapers.... I bought one package of newborn sized, but if I deliver on or around June 1st, he'll be too small for newborn diapers. The doctor guesstimated that he weighs between 4 and 4.5 pounds right now. That will mean that the new baby will be about the size of Nathan when he's born - newborn diapers were HUGE on Nathan. :)
God has definitely been softening my heart over the past couple of weeks and I'm getting excited about meeting this little guy. I re-read the post from when Nathan was in the hospital, and reminded myself that I am much happier and healthier when I'm focusing on the positive and on the blessings in my life. Its definitely a process to shift my perspective, but its a path that I've started down and one that I definitely don't want to stop now! I even got down on the floor and played with Lowell and Chloe last night. I was very proud of myself. And when I hear those voices saying that I'm not enough, or the house isn't clean enough or that I'm a bad mother because of ... , I am learning to shut them up with a quick prayer and a conscious re-focus of my priorities.
We still haven't heard about Lowell's promotion. He's heard rumors at work that they gave it to someone else but nothing has been confirmed yet. He wasn't bummed, just said that he's going to start looking for another job that is closer and one that can get him on first shift... I was bummed however. I was always expecting him to get it, and therefore, for us to be able to feel the financial benefit as well as the schedule benefit. Without the change, Lowell will still work nights, and I'll have to work part time at my job and 2 12 hour days at the practicum - so basically full time. I was hoping to not have to do this with the baby.... Its not set in stone yet, so I'm trying not to be discouraged. I know that God planned for this baby and so He'll make something work. I don't know when we'll hear about the job - maybe he'll never hear officially and the other guy will just get it. That's one of the frustrating things about his company....
As for the baby - 7 days. And counting...

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Another semi-old post....

We are getting closer to the day when I will officially be the mother of four children. It seems very difficult to believe. I am not having difficulty with the passage of time over the past 34 weeks, because I certainly feel as though I’ve been pregnant for at least a year, what I’m struggling with is the idea that this journey is about to begin all over again. I am still in a little bit of denial about the whole situation.

Surprisingly, it has been Lowell that has been reminding me of the positive changes that we may be able to look forward to with the arrival of this new life – some of the little baby gestures and sounds that we loved with Nathan and the girls, for example. While not at all a conscious choice, my first reaction is to focus on the negatives that will also accompany this new arrival. Or, more accurately, will most likely accompany his birth. There is no guarantee of anything positive or negative but I find myself expecting the worst.

This phenomena isn’t only present when I think about the new baby, I have recognized its presence in my life in general. I tend to focus on the bad or the potential for bad, instead of the good. I see the beauty and the positive as fleeting and can’t enjoy it because I’m waiting for the next negative, painful, irritating or depressing thing to happen. I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about her struggles and she is actually the one that articulated this feeling and I knew immediately that it very accurately explained my emotional experiences.

This is a discouraging insight to have into oneself. I am very thankful for the hours of time I’ve spent scrapbooking the good memories and also the times that I’ve spent blogging for the same reason. I am so thankful that I’ve memorialized these moments so that I can remember them. The next step for me is to realize, in the moment, that these seconds need to be appreciated and cherished while they are being experienced – not just afterwards. I’ve made an effort to change my thought process – to allow those moments to simmer in my brain, to let myself soak them in and to let the positive feelings marinate in my heart before I move on to whatever crisis is coming next.

So, in this new spirit, I’m attempting to take this evening to focus on the last remaining moments of my last pregnancy. Lowell and I have decided that I’ll get “fixed” as soon as possible after delivery (the doc says it’ll be about six weeks) so that we can ensure this unplanned blessing won’t happen again. With that said, there are a lot of things I like about being pregnant. Primarily, it is the one time in my life that I can walk around wearing tight fitting shirts and not be embarrassed about my stomach. And feeling the movements is pretty cool, I must say. I like how even in utero, this little human can respond to me; I push on one side of my stomach, and he’ll respond by swiftly kicking my hand. Jillian just brought me a picture that she drew for the baby announcing his arrival. She is the one most vocal about the new sibling. She hugs my belly and talks to him. She is also looking forward to being my helper and wants me to teach her how to change a diaper. This is one aspect of pregnancy that I’ve never experienced before because in the past, the siblings were always too small to appreciate that our family was growing. Watching the older kids become excited about the baby has definitely been one of my favorite parts of this pregnancy.

Just the other morning Jillian announced, unprovoked, that I needed to be praying for the new baby. She wants us to pray for him to be healthy and safe. Good advice.

I gave notice at work that I would be leaving my current full-time position and that I would likely be interested in part time. The only hours available to me would be Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. While not completely thrilled with this schedule, I am sooo thankful for their willingness to be flexible to accommodate all the changes in my life. Simultaneously, Lowell has put in for a promotion and day shift. I am sooooo praying that he will be able to change shifts and, if he does get the promotion, it may not be necessary for me to work at all.

We’ve also contacted Sharon about coming down here after the baby is born. Because I went into labor on Monday and because I’m almost to 36 weeks, we’ve requested that she come next weekend. The doctor who finally stopped my labor on Monday night said that I’m basically a ticking time bomb who could deliver at any time. I’m hoping for sooner rather than later. Then again, I hesitate because right now, the baby is totally being cared for – fed, watered, loved – all without much effort from me. After he comes out, it’s a whole new ballgame. Because I’m working on focusing on the positive, this morning when I weighed myself, I weigh 21 pounds less than I did when we found out I was expecting. So, counting baby weight, I guess I’ve lost close to 30 pounds with this pregnancy – all due to appetite suppression, no throwing up this time. That’s exciting news for sure.

We still haven’t chosen a name for our little one. I like Daniel – not necessarily for the name but for the person it represents in the Bible. And we’re still tossing Eric around… Knowing us, we’ll probably name him at the last minute. And it will turn out to be the perfect name. Because that’s how we roll – last minute, but usually with wonderful results. We’re very blessed. I’m very thankful for my family.

I think I’ll marinate on that thought for awhile.

When Nathan Was In the Hospital

Blogger has recently changed and won't let me post messages on past dates. For example, sometimes I write blog posts but I'm not able to connect to the internet but I was able to go back at a later date and put those posts in where they belong chronologically. Now, I can't do that. So, I have a couple posts that need to be added here from past months that are going to be out of sequence. Sorry for any confusion - but I want them recorded here for the sake of authenticity and telling the whole story. :)

I’m waiting for Nathan to get out of surgery and thinking about the events of the past few days. Over the past two weeks, we’ve learned that not only did Nathan need some minor surgery, but that he is also suffering from a semi-chronic condition related to stress. My little boy has been so stressed and so upset that it has been affecting his health.

Earlier this year I discussed with his teacher that he was taking things very seriously and very personally. Specifically, I mentioned that even though Nathan had almost straight A’s in his classes, all he could see was the one grade that wasn’t an A. And when it came to his behavior, all he could see was the days that he lost his afternoon recess due to excessive talking. His focus was consistently on the negative.

We’ve also be struggling with Nathan’s focus on the negative in general. In life, he tends to view the negative and ignore the positive. This leads him to a very negative attitude about his life and his experiences; he tends to be pessimistic and ungrateful. We were working on fostering an attitude of gratitude, but didn’t realize that this was a much deeper issue.

As I’ve opened this line of dialogue with him, trying to learn what concerns him and what he worries about, I’ve gotten more and more upset. I’ve learned that he is concerned by:

* his grades, even though they are almost the top of his class

*by the loneliness that he occasionally experiences because he is one of the only boys in his class that like Star Wars

*by unrealistic fears about the consequences for missing school lately and for his minor discipline issues

*other unrealistic issues including fears he’s gotten from the news or other things he’s seen on TV

*concern about his dad and I being upset at/with him

*lack of money – he believes that he is somehow at fault for the times that his dad and I stress about money or make comments about how we don’t have a lot of money

*and more…

And I’m sure that his focus on the negative in life only compounds his fears and worries because he isn’t able to find joy in life…

So, how do I handle this information. Well, first I wanted to cry. And then I wanted to sleep and avoid the issue. And then I wanted to shop to help me feel better. Come bedtime, I vacillated between being unable to sleep and having an upset stomach to sleeping and seeking oblivion. I am honestly heart-broken about how I have taught my son to be this little basket of nerves. I know that he has learned it from me because I can see myself in him very clearly. Instead of the gastro-intestinal issue that he has developed, I had seizures when I was overwhelmed with stress. I was a perfectionist and completely unwilling to settle for anything other than straight As. I was distraught at any sign that someone was unhappy with me or didn’t like me. One major difference is that I was an only child with a stay-at-home mom who was able to dedicate a ton of time to me. I got all the attention I needed and all the help with school work or projects. I always had other children over at our house and I was able to thrive while still struggling with my feelings of inadequacy and fear.

Nathan is in a different boat – he has to share his parents with two (soon to be three) other children and both of his parents work. With some exceptions, his friends don’t come over – they just play at school. He isn’t involved in extra-curricular activities (due to money partly, but mainly to both of us working). And he has a screwed-up, perfectionist, selfish, stressed mom and a dad with a temper issue.

I don’t like this combination.

As much as I don’t like it however is how clueless I am of what to do to fix it.

Financially, I can’t stay home. Lowell would need to find another job that makes more money (losing his seniority but maybe not having to drive so far?) and I would still probably have to work part time. And we can’t switch Lowell’s shift to days for multiple reasons – 1. There isn’t a position on first shift that is open, 2. We wouldn’t have anyone to pick up the kids and 3. We’d have to find childcare for the new baby. There are two additional issues with #3 – I don’t want my baby to be in a childcare setting and we couldn’t afford it anyway.

Then there’s the fact that Nathan watches me stress about life and be up-tight about just about everything and be a perfectionist in my own life. Why wouldn’t he learn these traits? So, in order for me to teach him how not to stress and to be more relaxed about life, I’m going to need to learn these things too. Does this mean therapy for me? Can we afford this? (Why is it always about money?!!!) I have not, as of yet, been able to fix these personality traits by myself so am I going to be able to now? I don’t want to be this way another minute – for any second longer than I need to – because it will only further reinforce Nathan’s behavior. (And because it simply sucks to not be able to lighten up and enjoy life.)

I have often seen commercials that feature moms and kids where the mom is laughing, playing with the kids… I am unable to do this. Honestly, I cannot relax and play and laugh with my kids. It is nearly physically impossible for me. I experience a physical and emotional discomfort when I try to play. It is like I am literally repelled by these actions. I find myself immediately sleepy, trying to check-out instead of having to face this request from my kids… “Play with me, Mommy!”

Isn’t that disgusting?! How can I be a good mom when I can’t even stand the idea of playing with my kids. I’ve tried explaining to them that mommy isn’t good at playing, that I have a hard time playing and that I would rather get them set up and watch them play… Lord Almighty, what kind of mother am I?

Fashion Sense

Jillian is quite a character. She has been since she was born. She’s usually a train wreck wherever she goes, even when she puts a ton of effort into how she looks. Well, maybe I should say especially when she puts effort into how she looks.  Some of her creations are quite avante garde.

In addition to her fashion sense, aspects of her personality are equally colorful. She has recently become quite morbid. For awhile, it was an obsession with blood. She wanted to know, for example, how much blood with be involved with child birth and whether or not the baby would be bloody. When she gets a cut, she’ll squeeze it until she gets blood to come out, and then freak out because she needs a band-aid. More recently, she’s been uber curious about the timing of people’s death. She asks questions like, “Mom, when I’m a grandma, you’ll be dead, right?” Or, “Nathan is gonna die first because he’s the oldest, right?”

I spoke with her teacher today who pulled me aside when I was picking her up. He wanted to let me know that they had done a reading assessment and that Jillian scored off the charts. She had the highest score amongst all the kindergarteners and she was rated at a reading level of 5th grade. He was blown away and said that we’ll have to stay on our toes keeping her challenged.  So, I guess this summer will involve lots of trips to the library.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Toga and the Birthday Presents

Today is the toga party. Last night Nathan and I were up putting the finishing touches on his costume. He created a sword out of toilet paper and paper towel rolls, he made a shield and armor from cardboard and we made his toga out of a old bed sheet. He finished up with the painting and I was busy with the hot glue gun. :) I took a picture before he left for school, so I'll be sure to post it soon. He was an adorable Roman soldier.
We haven't had a party for Nathan yet, we're planning on having a party for both he and Chloe at the end of the month. He did get a couple of his presents already however. From his Uncle Bread and Auntie Leeda, he got his coveted Force Unleashed 2 Wii game; money that he used to buy Star Wars toys from Mamoo and Grandma Hippo; and a Commander Cody Clone helmet from Mom and Dad. He was a very happy boy!!! :)
I am looking forward to another little present that I am hoping to get for him... In Walmart, they have a display of socks and underwear that are from Star Wars and on each side of the display, there are huge life sized clone figures -- as soon as I saw them I asked the lady if I could have them. She checked with the manager and is supposed to call me as soon as they can throw them away... I'm very anxious and I hope they come through for me!
I'll be sure to post pictures of them as soon as I get my hands on them!!! :) And of the smiling face of my little Buggy when he sees them!

Employee of the Month

My husband is Employee of the Month. :)
He attended a mandatory training meeting this morning and came home the proud owner of a framed certificate and a $50 bonus. Well, maybe not the proud owner - he was slightly less than thrilled, and partially miffed about the fact that they taxed his $50, so he really only got $45.10... Nevertheless, I got the chance to congratulate him and tell him how proud I am of him everyday!!! :)
Lowell is very thankful for his job - thankful that it allows him to provide for his family. And evidenced by the nice things written about him in his evaluation, his work is very thankful to have him as well. The letter that came with the certificate said that Lowell consistently goes above and beyond, that he always has a smile on his face and that he is respected by both his peers and his bosses. I am very proud of him! 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Baby Shower pictures! :)

My friend Abby from college, and Deb my volunteer at work
 Beautiful decorations! :) And the "guess how many baby M&Ms are in the bottle game".
 Opening cute little outfits... And my friend Eva from work
 The never-ending bag! :)
 A giraffe diaper bag - Yipee!
 Judging the "draw a baby on your head" game - and my friend Rachel from work.
 An adorable little Elmo outfit - onesie, hat and booties

Participating in the "draw a baby on a paper plate on the top of your head game". Thanks Rachel for planning all the fun games. And thank you so much Erica for planning the shower! Love you both!!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Gifts of Love

I saw something very poignant this past weekend... My little baby Boogie didn't get a card in the mail. Both Nathan and Chloe got cards from their grandma's because their birthdays are coming up. But Boogie's birthday is in March. She was soon pacified about the cards, but then wanted to make a card of her own to send to the grandmas so that she might get one in return. I thought this idea was fantastic. :) She immediately began with her craft but then wanted to know if she could send the grandmas some money. She said that she gets money in the cards that her family sends her and so she should send money too. I tried to encourage her to draw pictures or write letters - that is the kind of gift that the grandmas would really appreciate. I thought I got through to her until I came into the living room and found her brand new piggy bank laying on its side with its "butt" out.
I know that money doesn't have the same significance to a 6 year old that it does to me, but I was still moved. She was so generous and so eager to make someone else happy. I thought about how I hesitate to part with my money at times because of fear or simple greed. I loved how her sweet little heart just wanted to give so badly. It brought tears to my eyes.
Tomorrow, we're going to mail a couple envelopes to the grandmas. I don't know if they'll be full of quarters and pennies or of artwork and letters, but either way, I'm sure they'll make someone's day.


Its May. Hard to believe. Our May is busy - we have...
*Nathan's 9th birthday and party
*Mother's day
*Orientation for me at my new internship
*The possibility of Lowell switching shifts (yay!)
*The spring concert at school
*The Spring book fair
*My bestest friend's 31st birthday
*Which is, coincidentally, the day I get to stop having shots because I'll be 36 weeks preggo
*Chloe's 8th Birthday and party
*Church on Sundays
*Leadership meeting for volunteers at church
*Memorial Day
*Nathan's Toga party at school
*A likelihood of me going to part-time employment
*Doctor appointments every other Monday
*The everyday jobs that come with being a crazy mom of 3.5 wonderful babies!!! :)
*And, very likely, the onset of 100+ degree temperatures. We're currently at or around 90-95 but that will soon be changing. I see a slip and slide in our near future..... :)