Monday, February 28, 2011

Worn Out

For several years now we've seen that Sarah struggles with the same sort of anxiety stuff that Larry & Savannah deal with. The difference has been that we can "talk her down" from the edge of an anxiety attack usually....we can reason with her & help her see that she's worrying & stressing over something that is no big deal. But recently that has shifted. I'm sure that her getting nearer to puberty has something to do with that, but it's exhausting. Today she literally started crying 10 minutes after she woke up. Her teacher emailed me today & said she'd been crying off and on all morning. And this afternoon/evening, she spent at least 3 hours in tears over one thing or another. She finds the craziest things to worry about...imagined situations that haven't occurred, things that happened months ago, things that MAY happen, whether or not something she said was said the right way, whether or not it would be perceived as cheating when she glanced at her neighbor's paper in school. Oh my heavens I'm worn out from the hours spent comforting & petting & snuggling & talking.

Please pray for my sweet girl when her name comes to mind.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Five Question Friday...a couple days late! Oops!

1. Can you drive a stick shift?
Yes & no.
I learned to drive in a manual transmission 80s-model Datsun truck. And not long after Larry & I got married, I drove his truck for a while. So yes, I can....but it's been a thousand years & I am quite sure I'd spend a week or more killing the engine 10x a day if I tried. I'd MUCH rather drive an automatic.

2. What are two foods you just can't eat?
Living with IBS, there are lots of foods that my digestive tract can't handle very well, but I'm about 100% sure you don't want to hear about all that. So let's just leave that as a "yes" & move on. ha ha!

3. Do you buy Girl Scout Cookies? What is your favorite kind?
I love Samoas & Thin Mints, but we decided NOT to buy any of them this year. We are trying to focus on healthy eating & well, GS cookies just don't jive with that.

4. How do you pamper yourself?
I buy a magazine every Friday night when I buy my groceries...and I read lots of books...and I get a foot rub every Thurs night from one of the kids while we watch Wipeout together. It's the little things that make me happy!

5. What is your nickname and how did you get it?
Lizard. I guess it's pretty clear how I got it.

Monday, February 21, 2011


I really want to go to bed right now, but I've had this post rolling around in my brain for a few days & I'm feeling compelled to come write it. That usually means that someone specific needs to read it tonight. Or maybe God wants to show me something by nudging me to come sit down & write it before I hit the sack.

A few years ago, I was introduced to the music of a young Christian singer, Rachael Lampa. I was given a free CD by our then youth pastor. Actually, I think he had about 100 of these CDs & was passing them out to all the youth and whoever would take one. He really wanted to get rid of the zillion CDs. So I got one. It layed in the floorboard of my van for a while & eventually made it to the CD player. At first, none of the music really clicked for me. Her style (part old fashioned gospel choir/part teeny-bopper) wasn't really my favorite. I felt like the younger crowd would love her, but she wasn't really "my thing". And then I heard "Blessed". It blew me away. Close your eyes & listen to this.

See? Powerful lyrics, awesome vocals. Just. Wow. Falling in love with that 1 song pushed me to really listen to the rest of the CD. A few of the other songs stuck with me. There is one that reminds me to get my focus straight every time I hear it and it's been playing in my mind these last few days. The song is called "Shaken". I looked for it on youtube so you could hear it, but it's not there. (Well, there are a few 'cover' versions of it, but I'd really rather share the original.) You'll just have to take my word for it & scroll through the lyrics below.

The point of the song is that when we get complacent about our lives, when we take our focus off of Him, when we start thinking that we've got it all under control, we'll be shaken up.

I can just picture God reaching down, so many times in my life, taking my by the shoulders & shaking me. The way you'd picture a parent getting a child's attention....the "snap out of it" sort of thing. Know what I'm talking about? I know I've lived it. Over and over again.

I once heard a man in our previous church say that you are always either living in victory or fighting a battle. You can't have a victory without a battle. I've also heard it said that you can't have a mountaintop experience without having climbed up from the valley. So I ask you, which one are you living? Victory or battle? Moutaintop or valley? Because, my friends, let me tell you...if you're having a pretty calm, peaceful, content time....get ready. Your battle is coming.

I find myself getting pretty comfortable when things aren't chaotic or crisis-driven at my house. I like peace & sanity & calm. I hate the chaos & crises, but those are the very things that drive me to my knees, make me cry out to God and force me to reach out for the hands of my friends, the others in the body of Christ who are there to pull me up out of the pit, pray for me, dust me off & celebrate when I reach the mountaintop. Those "monkeywrenches" God likes to throw in to keep me on my toes almost inevitably turn out to be the biggest blessings in the end.

Look around at your life. Are you feeling pretty calm & comfortable? Are you feeling like life is going pretty smooth? Are you keeping your eyes on Him? Are you praising Him for this sweet time of your life? Or are you getting complacent about your faith during this time of blue skies & sunshine? Do you lose track of where you put your Bible? When was the last time you spent a few minutes in prayer outside of church? Is God going to have to grab you by the shoulders & shake you?

SHAKEN by Rachael Lampa
Take a ride back in history:
Let’s review the facts of eternity
To the children of Israel
And the burning sands and the desert heat...
Bitter hearts in the wilderness,
God saw that they would not confess.
With a velvet touch and an iron hand
He dragged them to the promised land.
Everything that can be will be...
Everything that can be will be...

Shaken, shaken, shaken, shaken.
Shaken, shaken, shaken, shaken.
Shaken, shaken, shaken, shaken.
God is going to shake the whole thing down.

Raise your hands children, lift them high,
Let’s join our hearts; walk in the light.
There’s a desert, there’s a wilderness
Separating us from a better life.
See, together we can walk through fire,
We can face the flame, we can reach the higher
Ground that waits in the promise land,
’Cause only faith and love will stand;
And everything that can be will be.
Everything that can be will be... (yeah)

Shaken, shaken, shaken, shaken.
Some things last forever.
Shaken, shaken, shaken, shaken.
Some things fade away.
Shaken, shaken, shaken, shaken.
God is going to shake the whole thing down.
(Ooh, shake the whole thing down.)
Everything that can be will be.
Everything that can be will be.
Everything that can be will be.
Everything that can be will be...

Shaken, shaken, shaken, shaken.
Shaken, shaken, shaken, shaken.
Some things fade away.
Shaken, shaken, shaken, shaken.
Faith, hope and love will last eternally, yeah!
Shaken, shaken, shaken, shaken.
Some things last forever.
Shaken, shaken, shaken, shaken.
Some things fade away.
Shaken, shaken, shaken, shaken.
God is going to shake the whole thing.
God is going to shake the whole thing.
God is going to shake the whole thing up!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dang...I'm going to be a mess tonight.

Tonight, we are going to witness the culmination of 5 years of Samuel's hard work as a Cub Scout. When he was just a teeny 1st grader, Larry became a den leader with a friend of his (who also has a son Samuel's age) and together they led a den of little boys through their first year of Scouting. Larry later had to give up his position as a den leader (job changes, time commitments, etc) but he's remained active in helping with Samuel's den.

Every year I've watched my little boy grow & mature in the scouting program. He's learned all sorts of cool skills. Knot tying, rapelling, shooting, archery, camping skills, hiking, swimming, safety in many areas. He's learned about science, engineering, the environment ....the list goes on & on.

Every year, we have a Blue & Gold banquet (the colors of all Cub Scout uniforms) and the boys advance up in the ranks of the Scout program. He pins my mother's necklace each year with a pin to show what rank he's moved up to. It's been with great pride that he adds a new pin each year & earns new patches & awards for his uniform.

Tonight he will "bridge over" to become an official Boy Scout. [If you're like me, you may have no idea that you're not officially a Boy Scout until you complete all the levels of being a Cub Scout. The boys move up to Boy Scouts when they were in 5th grade.] The ceremony is very cool to watch and serves as inspiration for the younger boys in attendance at the banquet to push toward becoming a Boy Scout themselves. I'm planning to video the bridging part of the ceremony tonight so I will post a video when I get it uploaded. Rest assured. The sniffling you will hear in the background will be me. I'm so proud of my sweet boy!

Tonight after the ceremony, the older boys will take our brand new Scouts on their first campout as Boy Scouts. It's sort of a 'rite of passage' to go on the first "official" Boy Scout campout. Larry & all the other dads will attend as well, but for the first time the boys will sleep alone (4 boys to a tent) & the parents will sleep separately. The boys will have to figure out how to handle things on their own and will cook breakfast with the help of the older boys in the morning. Needless to say, Samuel is very excited!!

10:20pm: editting the post to add this video! It's done. My baby is a Boy Scout now!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Five Question Friday

1. Have you worn the same outfit more than one day in a row?
Sort of. If there is a day when I stay home all day to clean house, I often stay in my PJ's and take a shower & get dressed late in the afternoon. In that case, I will re-wear that outfit without issue. And I do re-wear jeans sometimes.

2. If you had to choose any LARGE city to live in, which would it be?
Sorry folks, you'd just have to send me on to Heaven. I sincerely don't think I'd make it in a BIG city. Driving in major traffic really freaks me out (can you say panic attack?) and I have the worst sense of direction. I'd stay lost & crying all the time if I was made to live in a really big place. thanks.

3. Fly or drive with the kids on vacation?
Both! :) Actually, I really like flying & the kids enjoyed it when we went to California in '07. But we also enjoy the family time & good talks that we have when we drive somewhere. So how about I take fly there/drive home or vice versa?

4. What is your idea of "spring cleaning"?
I try to take 1 room at a time during the kids' Spring Break & declutter, clean & reorganize. That's about as much as I do. The rest gets done daily/weekly/monthly, so I don't worry too much about it.

5. What is the best book you have ever read?
I've said it here before, but Redeeming Love is THE book that convinced me to start reading fiction again. It totally blew me away. LOVE it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy 10th Birthday Sarah!

I originally posted this here. But today, I am adapting the post a bit & including some different pictures.

On June 29, 2000 I found out I was pregnant for the 3rd time. I wasn't thrilled. I wasn't immediately excited. I was in shock. After all, baby #2 had turned 3 months old on that same day. Surely the test was wrong. Since I had just had a baby, certainly my hormones were still out of whack & THAT's why the test was showing positive. I took 3 pregnancy tests that day. I took several more over the course of the next week. All in all, I think it took about 10 of them to convince me that I REALLY was pregnant. (Yes, I was not economical, but I needed it for my sanity!) Of course, 2 weeks later when the morning sickness hit, I knew it was real for sure!

The phone calls began. The first one was to my OB/Gyn. I needed to cancel the birth control appointment I had planned & schedule an OB visit. We had to call family members & close friends to share the news & listen to the reactions of shock & giggles over & over. True, it was sweet news, but it was almost embarassing to listen to the questions that were asked from our closest friends & family. "Don't you know what causes that?" "I guess we need to buy y'all a TV for your bedroom...sounds like you're bored & need something ELSE to do." After all the teasing passed, our family and close friends were thrilled for us & let us know that they'd be there to help & support us. And help us they did! With babysitting offers & food & fellowship & shoulders to cry on, they were really there for us during the pregnancy & beyond.

me & Sarah (in my tummy) at about 34 or 35 weeks--she was delivered at 37 1/2 weeks, so this is about what I looked like when she was born

The months passed quickly. Before we knew it, it was February 2001. On the night of February 14, I drove Savannah (4) & Samuel (10 1/2 months) to my parents house. I would be induced the following morning. It was just about 2 1/2 weeks early, but due to the fact that Samuel weighed 9 lbs & had to be delivered by C-section [something we wanted to avoid doing again, if possible], we were making the choice to deliver Sarah a little early. I was already dilated to 3 cm, so we knew it would not too hard of a delivery. I dropped the kids off with my parents, took one last picture with Samuel sitting on top of my pregnant belly, and left to drive home.

I cried most of the way home. After all, how was I possibly going to ever function with 2 babies under a year old? I mean, I realize that people with multiples do it all the time, but my 2 babies would be far enough apart in age that their napping/feeding/diapering schedules were bound to collide. Would I ever sleep again? How would I go to the grocery store with three itty-bitties in tow? They would both be using bottles to eat. Could we put them on the same type of formula? Would I get their bottles mixed up if it was a different kind of formula? How would we pull this off? The concern & questions was exhausting. I was in a total panic.

I had spent most of pregnancy feeling a little ambivalent about this new baby. I was really enjoying Samuel's babyhood & now, this "intruder" was going to change all that. I felt like I was never able to really indulge him the slightest bit because I knew that we would have to break any bad habits early to make room for baby #3. I had not been able to let him sleep in our room (or bed) much at all because I knew that before long, baby #3 would take over that spot & we couldn't have 2 babies in our bed. Honestly, that was a really tough one for me. I love sleeping with my babies part of the time & when we couldn't do that with Samuel, it was sad.

All the emotions of the pregnancy...the shock in the beginning, the fear & nerves, the ambivalence, the all came to a head that night on my drive home from my mom's house. I spent that 30 minute drive in tears. Not long before pulling into driveway, God gave me a Scripture.
Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart & lean not on
your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
Wow. I felt like I had been knocked off my weepy pedastal & reminded to just trust God to handle things. I pulled into the yard, blew my nose, wiped my tears, pulled up my big girl panties & decided to get myself together & go have a new baby!

On the following morning, we drove to the hospital & checked in about 7am. I was having contractions, but not painful ones. I have an irritable uterus, so I have Braxton Hicks contractions with all my pregnancies from about week 16 on. When they hooked me up to a monitor, the nurse seemed surprised that I wasn't feeling (hurting!) from the contractions I was having. About 9am the doctor broke my water. We waited an hour & then started pitocin. By 11am, I was having really good contractions. And by "good", I mean true labor contractions. I refused to lay in bed & do nothing while I labored. I'm one of those crazy pioneer women who don't do drugs or pain medicine for labor. I wanted to be up & moving around, walking down the halls or at least around my room. SOMETHING other than just laying in bed. Luckily, the nurse was accomodating & said to do whatever felt best. I sat in a rocking chair for a while, talking to whomever came to visit. (Sorry folks, it's been 8 years, I don't really remember who all came!) I sat on a ball for a while & rocked some. I walked around the room & sang along to the praise music I had brought with me. At around 12:30, my doctor came over to check on me and another patient. She checked my cervix. I was dilated to 6 or 7. Birth didn't appear to be imminent, but we knew I was getting closer. I was getting uncomfortable but it was still tolerable. My doc left & told the nurse to call her when it was time. She went down the hall to see her other patient & ended up getting held up in that room for some reason. Of course, I'm sure it is because God knew I was "this close". Over the course of the next 30 minutes, I went from 6 or 7cm to 10cm. Sarah's heartrate dropped & we panicked at the idea that I could possibly need another emergency Csection (like I had with Samuel). It turns out that her heartrate didn't actually drop much....SHE DID! The monitor just reached a point where it couldn't pick up her heartrate because she moved down into the birth canal. The nurse came in to put on a scalp electrode & we realized I was ready to push. Funny thing...just about that time, my doc stuck her head back in to tell them she was going back to the office. Instead she told the nurse to call & tell them she was staying to have a baby. At 1:36pm, after just a few pushes, Sarah was born weighing 7lb 8oz.

Sarah & I shortly after she was born, before the family came in to meet her for the first time.

Savannah, me (holding Sarah) and Samuel, about 2 hours after Sarah was born. Their first time to meet their baby sister. I was both overjoyed & overwhelmed at the time my mom took this picture of us.

All in all, I was in labor for just about 4 1/2 hours. The pushing stage (which had always been my longest stage of labor with the other kids) lasted 10 minutes versus several hours! I pushed 3 or 4 times versus a hundred times. It was truly the simplest & best birth ever!

I stayed an extra day to have my tubes tied after Sarah's birth. We brought her home on February 17, 2001 & began our life with 2 babies & a preschooler. While most of that first year is one big blur, looking back on it now, I can't IMAGINE doing things any differently. Samuel & Sarah are very close. (They might not tell everyone that, but they ARE!) They've never known a day without each other. When Savannah goes away to camp or to spend the night with a friend, Samuel & Sarah play together and sleep in the same room (sometimes the same bed!). They adore each other. Their sweet relationship has always touched my heart and made me smile. Sure, we put up with a lot of crazy looks & unusual questions for the first couple years. (Good grief, people can be NOSEY!) We were asked if they were twins a lot in those first several years & finally tired of having to explain things all over again, so we just learned to say yes & keep walking.

As time has gone by, I've learned (over & over & over again!) that God is in control & knows EXACTLY what we need in life. And I most definately need my sweet Sarah. I can't imagine my life without her. She is the most gentle spirited, kind hearted, tender & sweet little girl. She is the child that you just give a dirty look to discipline. She is a bundle of tears & weepiness if she thinks someone is upset with her over any little thing. She is the most compassionate & loving little girl I've ever met. She prays for her friends & for strangers & just about anyone who she feels needs it. She worships God with her little hands raised without the slightest inkling of care about what anyone else thinks. She is absolutely precious!

Happy Birthday my sweet girl! You are just what this mama needs. I love you, beautiful!

Valentine's Day

Late on the night of the 13th, I began writing a blog post that I had intended to post yesterday for Valentine’s Day. It was a sweet love letter to my husband, telling him all the things I appreciate about him. I’m not sure what happened to it. It disappeared somewhere out in cyber space, I guess. It’s gone now, wherever it went!

And ya know what? That’s ok. ‘Cuz boy do I have a Valentine’s Day to share with you. Although I should warn you….I saw no flying babies with bows & arrows nor doilies glued on red construction paper. My Valentine’s Day sort of sucked dirt. There are many reasons why it inhaled dirt….but they’re all intertwined. Let me see if I can explain.

Larry gets paid early in the month. I get paid on later in the month. And then Larry also gets a check to cover his mileage/travel/gas every few weeks as well. Our paychecks together ‘just’ meet our expenses with a little leftover. If we ever have a big unexpected expense come up, we’re in trouble because it means that we have to start ‘borrowing’ from next month’s paycheck before it ever arrives…and then when that check finally arrives, we have to ‘pay back’ the account before we start deducting that month’s expenses. So one month of unexpected expenses can snowball & leave us in a financial bind for months. If we know it’s coming, we can at least semi budget for it, but many times, we’re left pinching pennies and trying to stretch the last few cups of milk by about ¾ of the way through the month. This is one of those months.

{By the way, we’ve got the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover book & I am reading it right now….so hopefully we can dig our way out of this hole sometime in the near future, but for now, this is just how it is. Just in case someone was going to suggest it in the comments section, I thought I'd mention that.}

Ok, so back to our day yesterday.

On Saturday, Samuel began having a little trouble with congestion and what seemed to be sinus drainage. He said his throat was a little sore & he felt like he kept having to swallow ‘stuff’. We checked his throat & it wasn’t red or inflamed looking. He had no fever. So we plugged ahead with Benadryl & Motrin and figured that he was just dealing with sinus crud. He went to Chuck E. Cheese on Saturday and went to church on Sunday without an issue. But yesterday morning, he woke up with a little fever. Larry stayed home with him & took him to the pediatrician. It was at about the time I got off work & went to pick up the kids that he called to tell me…Samuel has the flu! Yikes! Knowing what was ahead – expensive medicine, Lysoling the house, trying to keep the girls from catching it, Larry or I missing work for possibly several days or a week – I was totally distracted when I headed toward town to pick up Samuel from Larry. (He had an appointment of his own to get to!) And whammo…just like that the lights came on.

Not the “lights” of me having a good idea. The red & blue flashing ones in my rear view mirror. Apparently I had sped up in my frustration and went right through a school zone at 38 mph. Yes, I know that it’s not exactly the autobahn in a minivan, but the school zone speed limit is 25 mph. Oops! I really hoped that the officer who exited the car would be one we know. With Larry working in law enforcement, we know a lot of the local officers, but alas, this one was a new guy that neither Larry or I know. Ouch. Remember those tight finances I mentioned above? Sigh.

I picked up Samuel from Larry & took him home. Soon after, Larry called to tell me he was done at his appointment & was feeling really dizzy. (He was going to the doc about his blood pressure medicine that doesn’t appear to be working!) He was in town but felt like he could safely drive home (he was only a mile or so away), but he wanted me to drive him back to the pharmacy to pick up his new prescription plus the Tamiflu prescriptions for the kids. (Even though Samuel is the only one with the flu, the pediatrician prefers to go ahead & treat the girls “just in case”.) I put our oh so valentiney vegetarian lasagna in the oven & gave Savannah instructions on what to do with it when the timer went off and left with Larry to go pick up the medicines.

Pharmacy stop #1 went fine. Larry picked up his medicine.

Pharmacy stop #2 was not so great. After waiting in a very long line to pick up the kids’ Tamiflu prescriptions, we found the total was so high that it would overdraw our bank account if we got it. We decided that we could borrow money & come back to get it in a couple hours, but first we needed to go home & eat supper! It was 7pm and the kids were home alone, probably wondering when we were going to eat! (We usually eat between 5-6!)

After eating, Larry left to go back & get the medicine. On his way out of our little town, he was pulled over!!! Apparently one of his headlights had gone out. Luckily, thanks to the badge in his wallet, the officer was kind & let him go with just a verbal warning. He then drove on to the pharmacy and headed back home. Coming back into town, guess what? He was stopped. Again. For that same headlight! He was given a 2nd warning. Interestingly enough, he just replaced that very headlight about a month ago, and when he bought the lightbulb for it, he got a 2 pack, so he replaced the bulb with a fresh one this morning!

By the time he got home with the medicine for the kids & they all took their 1st dose it was about 9pm.

Oh…and did I mention that my air bag warning light came on yesterday? And that the book says that light means something is wrong with your airbag system & needs to be serviced ‘right away’?
And then my underwire broke.
And Larry's blood pressure is still up even with the new medicine.

Good grief. What a day. When it rains, it POURS.

I woke up this morning knowing that today HAD TO be better. (and it was Sarah's 10th birthday...see next post!)

Friday, February 11, 2011

5 Question Friday

1. Would you rather be on ABC's Extreme Home Makeover or TLC's What not to Wear?
I don't think I could handle being on What Not to Wear....even if I would love to go spend $5000 of someone else's money buying myself new clothes. Stacy & Clinton can be really MEAN and I don't think I could take it. I'm a big wuss when people make fun of or criticize me. I'd just cry the whole time. So let's go with Extreme Home Makeover instead. I'd cry with that too, but out of gratitude!

2. Do you have any tattoos?
No. But...... Larry & I have talked about getting a matching one someday. I don't know if either of us will ever actually get up the nerve to do it though. For me, it would have to be tiny...and in a place that doesn't hurt too much...and somewhere I could cover it up 99% of the time...but a place that isn't considered inappropriate for me to uncover & show the tattoo if I wanted to. So that leaves little pinky toe?

3. Do you tell your kids about things you did growing up?
oh yes! All the time!!

4. If the traffic signal turns yellow, do you stop or speed up?
It depends. If I'm going to hit someone or be hit by slamming on the brakes to stop, then I will go ahead & get through the light & out of the way of other drivers. But if I can stop, I do. I prefer to be cautious but sometimes it is safer to just keep going & get out of the way of other people who are approaching the intersection.

5. What's your preference: chocolate or chips?
If you'd asked me this 5 years ago, I would've said chocolate, but these days, I have less of a sweet tooth. I do like chips once in a while, but I don't eat them on a regular basis, so I'm not sure I'd pick those either. How about some cheese?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This one is all over the place....

There are so many things running through my mind that I want to share with you, my friends, but I haven't had a chance to slow down & type them up. I'm going to try, though.
First & foremost on my mind tonight is this sweet baby's family. My heart is heavy as I lift her in prayers.

In July of 2009, I first heard about Kate McRae on Angie Smith's blog. She was 5 at the time & newly diagnosed with a brain tumor. Over the course of the past year + a few months, her family has watched her go through major surgery & treatment for cancer. She initially lost all use of her right side, but has regained much of that through therapy. She has had chemo & enough radiation for a lifetime. She was finally declared to be disease-free a few months ago & went to Kindergarten this past Fall with great excitement because she'd had to miss attending school the previous year due to her diagnosis. She has regular scans to make sure that she remains cancer-free. Unfortunately, earlier this week they found out that her cancer has returned. It's on the opposite side of her brain than the original tumor. Treatment options are few, but they are researching & attempting to find the best options for little Kate. Please join me in visiting her website & signing up for updates to her journal so you can keep up with her progress as she is treated. You can find her website here.
Tonight, I am also lifting up this cute little guy.

Noah Estes is the son of a blogging mommy who I've been keeping up with for a few years now. Noah has mitochondrial encephalomyopathy. Noah's health is poor, but he is a happy little boy with a sweet family. Noah has recently begun using a wheelchair due to the progression of his disease. He has a large family (8 children + mom & dad). They drive a 15 passenger van. Noah is getting bigger so it's becoming more clear that they need a wheelchair lift for their family vehicle, but modifying their family van would mean taking out some seats and then the whole family wouldn't fit! They are doing a fundraiser to raise money to purchase a people mover style bus. You can read more about it on THIS website. Please take a minute to check it out & see if there is something you can do to help the family make this purchase.
On a totally different note, I've apparently relocated to Antarctica without realizing it. After all, I know this wintery weather can't be happening in East Texas! On January 9th, we got a 1 or 2" dusting of snow. It was a nice little treat for all of us -- not enough to cancel school or work, but enough for the kids to make a few snowballs & throw at each other. The power went out for a little while so we had to go out to eat dinner that night. I can deal with that. It wasn't a huge inconvenience and it melted quickly. Then last Friday it happened AGAIN. But this time it was enough to cancel school! The kids loved having the day off, but the reality soon set in that we Texans don't REALLY want snow & winter like we claim that we do. After all the cheers & excitement, the kids went into the yard to enjoy the white stuff. That was at 7:30am. By 10am my kids were all in the house, making a mess & arguing with each other. I actually sat down & made a schedule to keep them busy all day! They had lots of screen time that day....more than usual...but they had a much nicer day when there was a schedule to follow. (I'm telling you, my kids have all been routine-driven since toddlerhood....and that works just fine for this list-making mama!)

All of that would be fine because we had beautiful 70+ degree weather last weekend! We all loved going outside & enjoying the sunshine. It was almost warm enough for flip flops! But then it (winter) happened AGAIN today. This time we didn't get any snow (like some of the surrounding counties) but we did get freezing rain/sleet so school let out early. Ironically, if the forecast is correct, we will have temperatures in the 60s by the weekend and (maybe?) this is the end of our artic winter! Of course, who knows? It could just be another teaser building up to a blizzard in late February! (gosh I hope not!) I've seen as many of these as I can stand for one year.

(Sorry kids....they're cute, but I'm done with Winter.) Texas weather is so weird.

In an effort to push my family a little further into vegetarian mode (shhh....they don't know that's my secret goal), I joined a Yahoogroup for vegetarian recipes. I'm so excited because I've got a whole list of veggie-heavy recipes that I'm going to be using over the next few weeks. I love to introduce them to new veggies or to work veggies into meals that we already eat when I can! While I figure I won't actually ever truly convert any of them (myself included), it is cost-effective & good for our health to eat meatless meals 1 or 2 nights a week when possible. And when I find something that everyone loves, it's a big thrill for me!

A couple of weeks ago, a girlfriend of mine posted a recipe for Eggplant Parmesan on her blog. As I read it, I thought it looked good....especially since I'd *NEVER* eaten a single bite of eggplant in my whole life. I'm really not sure how I've made it 35 years without eating it, so I knew it would be a must-cook! I bought the ingredients last weekend and created my very first eggplant dish last week. Everyone enjoyed it, but we figured out that 3 out of 5 of us are actually allergic to eggplant! While I was eating, I noticed a tingling/burning/itchy sort of sensation in my mouth. It wasn't enough to make me stop eating, but I kept having to get a drink in an attempt to "wash out" the stinging sensation. I didn't say anything about it because I didn't want to give the kids a reason to quit eating---you know, the power of suggestion-- but by the 2nd or 3rd bite, I know there was definitely something going on and it wasn't just in my head. While I was thinking about whether I should stop eating or not, Savannah spoke up. She was having the same sensations I was. And then Samuel admitted that it was happening to him, too. We all finished the meal, though. It wasn't life-threatening or anything, just weird. I looked it up online later that night & realized that it's a very common food allergy that MANY people have. While some sites say you can peel the eggplant or soak it in salt water before cooking to pull out the enzyme that creates that reaction, other websites suggest that each time you expose yourself to the food, the reaction gets more severe and you should really avoid eating it if you've had 1 bad reaction to it. So while we did enjoy it, there are a whole lot of other veggies that we can all eat without a problem, so I think we'll just skip eggplant from now on.

In the next couple of weeks, I've got a new Vegetarian Lasagna recipe, a new type of squash casserole to try out, a tomato zucchini casserole recipe, a black bean sweet potato chili to try and several others. I can't wait!
This week, I've had the joy of collecting items for a girl we met in the Fall who needs a little help. Can I just say that I'm thankful for Facebook? While I realize that Facebook is certainly not always a positive thing in the world today, there are a million great reasons that I don't plan to give it up. You must be careful what info you put on your profile...or at least check your privacy settings frequently to verify that your info is only available to the people you'd like to be allowed to see it. While I can never keep up with all my facebook friends (I have over 1000!), the perk to having that many friends on the website is that with 1 post I can have 1000+ friends praying...or helping to donate to a young single mom in need...or answering a question that I can't figure out, etc. It really is a useful tool when used wisely!

And besides, if it weren't for Facebook, I would've never met some of my dearest friends! (Right Tara & JennahRose?)
This past week, I finished reading this book.

It is the autobiography of Gayle Haggard, the wife of Ted Haggard, a Christian pastor & influential member of the evangelical world, who admitted in the Fall of 2006 to having an inappropriate relationship with a male escort & massage therapist. By the time I finished reading the book, I just wanted to hug Mrs. Haggard. I felt like I'd sat & had a talk with a good friend, not just read her book. While the struggles that Ted Haggard faced are not the same as the ones my own husband faces, I could see so many similarities between the way they were both made to feel --- like you can't dare admit to your humanness or sinful nature while serving in a ministerial role. Mr. Haggard had struggled with homosexual desires for much of his adult life & fought against those urges & desires, but eventually stumbled in that area. When his sin was found out (because the other man came forward to the media), Mr. and Mrs. Haggard's worlds were torn apart. Not only did they have to deal with the unfaithfulness in their marriage, but also the urges & desires Mr. Haggard had battled with most of his life. Then on top of all of that (as if that wasn't enough!) they lost their church family and the home they had lived in for 20+ years and had to deal very poor treatment by a group of overseers & restorers who did more damage than help. In the end, the Haggards' marriage was completely restored, their lives were changed in huge ways, but they were able to see God's hand in it all & were able to glorify Him through their most difficult times.

At first, I didn't think I was going to like the book because I felt like Mrs. Haggard's storyline was a little too perfect...a little too pretty & happy & positive. I was not feeling like I would be able to follow the story because she didn't seem REAL. You know, a little too much plastic smile & fancy facade. But as the story goes on, you realize that those initial reactions were just the tip of the iceberg. As more information comes to light and she has longer to deal with the reality of what has happened in her marriage & life, the walls come down and you see her for who she really is. I cried with her and was left with nothing but respect for the way she handled the most difficult situation of her life. I would be pleased to call her a friend if I were to know her in real life. I'd definitely recommend this book!
I have lots more roaming around in my brain, but I think I'm going to close this post up for the night. Until nex long!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

So long, Honda!

In 2006 when our family grew by 2, we were driving a (then) 8 year old Ford Windstar like this one.

It was our first mini-van. It served our family well, but it had a lot of problems and we were worried about it. Larry was really concerned about my safety and whether or not I'd break down on the side of the road somewhere with all the kids. Also, with the way the seats were configured in that van, it made it difficult to get into & out of the backseat and there was only 1 rear door on the passenger side. We knew it was time for a swap to better fit our growing family. A couple of days before the kids moved in, we traded in the Windstar for a new(er) 2003 Honda Odyssey like this one. (Yes, it was also silver. Many people never realized we switched vans.)

I totally fell in love with this van & all its cool bells & whistles. The cup holders alone practically sold the van to me. I swear, there were cupholders everywhere! Pull out tables, the cargo 'well' in the back, a wider wheel base so that little persons riding in the back could spread out a little. Oh my. I was sold on the first test drive around the church parking lot! I've said, for the past 5 years, that if I had it my way, I'd only drive Odysseys for the rest of my life. It was such a great vehicle!

About a year ago, things on that van began to malfunction & fall apart. I guess that should be expected as a vehicle ages, though. First one of the rear vent windows quit working. Then the remote stopped working to unlock the driver's door (it still worked for everything else). Then the cruise control wouldn't always come on when you pressed the button....but 1 mile down the road you could try again & it would work! Then the power lock on the driver's side door quit working at all. You could still manually lift the little knob thing to unlock it, though, but that was frustrating when I was out at night alone. I'd have to unlock the passenger side door & lean across to unlock the driver's door...or open the driver's side back sliding door & reach through to unlock the driver's door. Then there's the solenoid (sp?) that is going out. Don't ask me what a solenoid is. I'm just repeating the word Larry and my dad and a mechanic used. What it does it ...well, I don't know. The problem was that sometimes when it's in park, you couldn't shift it out of gear. For a while. You'd have to sit & pump the brake pedal over & over to make a little switch "click" so you can change gears. That's just a simple frustration & test of patience unless you're sitting in the car line at the kids' school & you can't GO and get out of the way of the rest of the cars...or when you're already late & it takes 4 solid minutes of working the brake pedal to get the car out of gear. A couple of years ago the ignition went out so we had to replace it, but getting a new key that would fit the ignition and all the doors would've cost about $250 more (the keys are computer chipped so they cost a LOT), so we just got a separate key for the ignition. Larry used the valet key (because he lost his in the bottom of the lake a few years back) so his key only worked for certain things on the van. The list kept growing and the miles on the van kept rising. None of the issues were making it undrivable and honestly we would've continued driving it for a lot longer because Hondas are known for lasting well into the 150K mile range (or more!) and we loved the van. However, we were beginning to add up the costs of the repairs (that is, the cost if we could afford to get it all done!) and realized that the costly repairs would probably be close to the value of the van itself since most of the parts needed were Honda-specific ones that would have to be put on by the dealership mechanic (pricey!).

Last week I was looking around online at minivans advertised with local dealerships & found one at a dealership where several of our friends work. If we bought it from them, we knew two things. #1 They'd be honest with us if this van was a 'lemon'. #2 It would help them out if we purchased it from them. So we made a phone call & asked about the van. It was still available! This morning Larry picked it up from the lot and brought it home for me to drive to my niece's birthday party. When we drove up, none of our family recognized the car and wondered who was showing up at my sister's house. What a fun surprise! We loved the van & my dad (our most trusted mechanic) gave it his thumbs up of approval, so this afternoon we drove back to the dealership & bought it! With our trade in of the Honda, we were able to get this van for the exact same payment...or possibly slightly LESS...and it's 4 years newer and only has 40K miles on it!

It needs a bath, but this is our new van! Isn't it pretty?! The color is called Claret Red. It's kind of a burgundy-wine-red color, not true red like it sort of appears in this picture. It's a Kia Sedona.