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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stationery card

Flourishing New Year New Year's Card
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas from our family.
Most years by this time, Christmas cards have been addressed and letter written.  This is not one of those years.
But that's okay.
The plan is a New Year's card.  We'll see if that happens.

Until then, Merry Christmas from our family.  Make every day count and let the people you care for know how much you love and appreciate them.
(AND PRAY THESE EXCITED KIDS WILL GO TO BED SO SANTA CAN COME!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stuck

Digging brownie bites out of the pan.  WHY are they sticking?  After making this recipe for years...hundreds of times...why now?  Piece together what I can to provide some sort of chocolate and cream cheese nourishment to the staff at the middle school as part of the parent thank you lunch for the staff.  They NEED their chocolate and cream cheese.  Darn store brand non-stick spray.  See if I ever use you again.  And WHY did I not just buy something?  I'm a working mom.  There's an excuse.  No.  Must be able to do it.  ALL.

Digging brownie bites out of the pan.  Picture in my mind last Wednesday night: Kate Reddy* masked desserts purchased from the grocery.  I could do that.  Buy them and make them look homemade?  The next day go to store to buy different nonstick spray.  Pass through the bakery section and see the store version of my homemade wonder...grrr.  Resist buying them. Next batch, for the elementary staff, turned out much nicer.  And the batch for the get together with friends.  And the batch for the 3rd grade party three days later.

And homemade teacher gifts?  Yes, time is plentiful here apparently.  They got done and delivered today.  Amazing, incredible teachers deserve some sacrifice from parents sometimes. And face it...they deserve much more than that!

Do those details matter?  To the people affected, lets hope.  To my kids, yes...they enjoy saying they had a part in creating something for their teachers that they hope their teachers will appreciate and enjoy.

But at the same time all of this is going on...
My sister celebrated a birthday...and has a beautiful, 9 year old, non-verbal, autistic son who we pray daily will talk.
Carlos, Sarah's friend whose family was in a horrible car accident earlier in the month, buried his little brother and welcomed his mom home from the hospital.
A friend said goodbye to her Daddy.  The same day my Daddy would have turned 73.
Another friend celebrated her daughter's 10th birthday.  But her beautiful, bright-eyed, sassy-but-sweet daughter is in heaven and is desperately missed here on Earth.
An old friend is caring for her infant daughter going through chemotherapy.
And we know what the man of this house is dealing with...every day.

Where's the hope in that?  Why are my simple frustrations getting to me so when so many around me are dealing with so much more?

The hope, (thank the Lord!) came over 2000 years ago, wrapped up in a baby boy.  So glad I know that.  So glad to be celebrating His hope this season.  Even if we get stuck along the way.



*One of the books on the reading list that was actually completed this year: "I Don't Know How She Does It" by Allison Pearson.  It was becoming a movie, the title was oh so catching, it had to be read.  (A good book.  Not exactly what I was expecting, but true to life, and the movie didn't get good reviews, so it can wait until Netflix.)  The heroine?  Kate Reddy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Great Expectations

Expectations come in all shapes and sizes, from many different sources.  Some are happy, some anxiety-ridden, some heavy, some light, some temporary, others final. 

For instance, expecting a baby.  Waiting weeks and months to wonder what the baby will look like, how big they will be, and what their cry will sound like.  Those were happy, yet for the NICU nurse in me, anxiety-filled months of expectation.

Expectations from work.  Tasks to be done and completed to the best of your ability.  As we are growing up, expectations from parents and teachers to fulfill our responsibilities in our daily activities, behavior, and actions.

This weekend I watched my now 9-year-old's expectations of her birthday celebrations play out.  And if you know Sarah, you know she is sweeter than Blue Bell, and lets every emotion show on her face as they come to her heart.  Everything was going absolutely perfect until a boy she expected to come to her birthday celebration did not make it.  She had a terrific, super fun time with her friends there...there's no doubt about it...but she was let down in  her expectation of this kiddo's arrival.  (Trust me, she made it a point to find out why on Monday at school)  :)

It's human, I believe, to become disappointed when things don't live up to our expectations.  Why, some of us will even admit that the personal expectations we put on ourselves are the hardest to overcome (even yours truly).

Christmas time is full of expectation! The world is rejoicing in the birth of our Savior, and we are expectant  of His return...similar to how Mary and Joseph were expecting His arrival thousands of years ago.  Can you imagine?  Looking at your newborn, feeling the thrill, excitement, and wonder of what God has planned for you and this baby.  Feeling the expectation God has for you as you mother His child?

Let's face it, I'll admit that I have some expectations for God, Himself.   And I KNOW that my problems are minor compared to others in this world...I am not trying at all to magnify anything my family is dealing with....just sharing.  Anyway, I am expecting...anticipating...complete healing for my husband.  And to add to the expectation...I want it on this side of heaven.  I am expecting Him to heal Chad completely....but I want it on my own terms.  That's not what we are promised, though.  We are promised in His Word that He will take care of us.  He will provide and care for us...never leave us.  And that's what I will cling to.

There is an ornament that was given to me by one of my sisters 12 years ago, the year I was expecting Seth.  Now it means something completely different to us.  We are still expecting a miracle.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever, Amen!"--Ephesians 3:20

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Top Ten

Thanksgiving Weekend's Top Ten

10.  Mom's dressing.

9.   Three sisters, most of their families, cousin and family, mom, Chad, kids, and inlaws filling mom's house for Thanksgiving lunch.  No hospital and Cracker Barrel for us this year.  :)

8.   Three extremely energetic and healthy children who call me "mom".  Sometimes one at a time.  A lot of times all at once.

7.   Thanksgiving weekend with "Friends" on Nick and Nite after the kids are in bed, propane fireplace on, and hot coffee in hand.

6.   Christmas decorating has commenced!

5.   Lowfat Carmel latte and Target trip by myself.   Alone.   Singularly.   No one fought over who was going to push the cart.   I did it myself.

4.   Purchasing first Christmas gift...and knowing that the recipient's eyes will gleam with excitement when she sees it!

3.   Mom's dressing.    Sleeping in until middle would ask permission to turn on the tv.   At 6:30am.  It is a struggle most school mornings to get her out of bed at 7am.

2.   Taking two evenings to read all of the entries the kids stuffed into our jar "Full of blessings."  Top entries: Jesus, family, cwanbewwies, and potties.

1.    Mom's dressing.   A good first week at a new job.  And a job to look forward to tomorrow.  To quote a famous man (or my Dad), "I can't believe they pay me to have this much fun!"

Here's to making the most out of this week.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Happy Heart

“A thankful heart is a happy heart..." 

Love this time of year...when much of the country pauses to focus on why they are thankful.  In this day and time no one seems to pause for anything except to pause the DVR for a potty break.  And at times it's difficult to notice any one's gratitude for anything.  Drilling gratitude into my kids' hearts and minds has been near the top of the list when raising our three rowdy kids...

Our pause of gratitude tonight began with a night of take and bake pizza, band hero, and cooking in the kitchen.  Memories made of Seth finally agreeing to a Taylor Swift song on Band Hero so Sarah could sing it...Daddy mustering enough muster to sing a funny rendition of "Mr Roboto", and Ella Grace excitedly searching cookbooks for a "puhfect suhpwise wecipe" that we made together.  (how in the world have I never ever made Paula Deen's Chocolate Chip Coffee cookies?) 

The little one loves to spend time with her mommy...which is why I suppose there so many stories to share about her.  As we were cooking tonight, "aw...I just buhped, but not a wegulah buhp...just one that comes up in yoh mouth but not yoh nose..." (gross) Also, the cucumber and onion salad for tomorrow's Thanksgiving meal may not have the thinnest slices of cucumber in it...but they were sliced with love and oh so much excitement.  (Auntie Ann, I hope you don't mind...they are not uniform in size...at ALL)

Time to pause and focus on what makes our hearts happy.  A couple of years ago we started a tradition of placing a jar on the table with slips of paper by it so we can all add what we are thankful for...despite any hardships and bad days we face, my jar runneth over.


"Because a thankful heart is a happy heart.  I'm glad for what I have, that's an easy way to start..."~Madame Blueberry of Veggie Tales.  :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

promise of hope and a future

This may be the most disorganized blog post ever...

A new chapter begins. 

Funny how when you think you have things figured out, God can come in and reveal a different plan.  Just over three weeks ago, after many months and months of praying and pleading for clear direction, I came to the conclusion that God still wanted me right where I was in my job.  Continue to work in a job that I love, with people I love even more.

See, last Thanksgiving looked something like this:
the day before Thanksgiving:
(the smiles aren't all fake...we were glad to be together)

Thanksgiving day:

Not really where we wanted to spend the day.  But as the saying goes, you do what you have to do, right?  A mommy trying to make Thanksgiving great even though Daddy's in the hospital and gets IV fluids for his Thanksgiving dinner.  Thank goodness for Cracker Barrel that cooked for the kids, Aunt Janet, and me!

A snapshot of today would look like this: a Daddy who is not feeling well at all...
every symptom he's ever experienced (almost) is occurring simultaneously,
 a baby girl who's 7 who has strep throat,
an almost 9 year old and an 11 year old who are going full steam ahead,
 and a Mommy who has had about 7 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours,
has laundry and housework oozing out of every space in the house,
 and needs to get the van in for an oil change and body repair. 
(the van.  and me, too...whenever i have the time)

Twelve hour shifts are pretty hard when Daddy isn't feeling well, and well, most of the last 12 months have been with Daddy not feeling well.  Any mom can understand why leaving your family at 6:15pm to work in an ICU setting and then return no earlier than 7:30am  to rush everyone to school isn't the best idea.  Or easiest. For anyone involved. 

We've tried our best!  We've relied on family and friends to come help at home.  We've discussed with bosses and HR departments about 8 hour shifts, leaves of absence, FMLA, and paid time off.  We've played around with schedules, tried to be more organized...we've tried to do the best for everyone involved.  My incredible nurse manager and friends at work have been very supportive and understanding.

The NICU is my first love...I love working with babies and giving their families hope for the future.   Seeing God's handiwork many times before it's meant to be seen.   Most of the time, it is a very rewarding job.  Sometimes, it is the most heartbreaking job.  I humbly believe that God has used me in the NICU since 1998 for His glory.  (there were 2 1/2 glorious years since 1998 that I was not in the NICU...I have left before.  During that time I raised my own babies, and had the awesome privilege of working at the Methodist MDO.  Talk about another incredible group of ladies!  If the director could pay me my nurse's salary and benefits, I'd be working there in a heartbeat!)  The people I work with in the NICU are amazing.  Many lifelong friendships have been forged through work.

Enter God's plan and timing.  An opportunity to work at the Children's Hospital, Monday through Friday, six hours a day, has been offered to me.  No weekends.  No holidays.  No call. No 12 hour shifts.  Can take the kids to school.  Will be home an hour after the bus brings them home.  Will still have time to go to Chad's appointments.  Will still have time to go grocery shopping ALONE (woohoo!). Can continue to run taxi service to gymnastics, soccer, church, and what not.  Maybe a routine in which I can even fit in the body work that needs to get done.  :)

God's got a plan.  Even when we can't see it.  He's going to use it for good. 

Excited to see how God will use this opportunity.

Jeremiah 29:11---"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord.  "Plans to prosper you...to give you hope and a future."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nine

There are times it is hard for me to read other's day to day stuff.  But since I am selfishly writing this to help me "write this down", as I've promised myself, this post is just that.  And it's long. You've been warned.      From a while back...
Nine years ago was Nov. 8, 2002.  (Why can I hear the smallest saying, "I know, genius..." in my head?!?!)

Chad woke up early to hunt...not my thing, but a new found hobby of his at the time.  Seth and I had a list to accomplish.  After all, he was about to become a big brother, and we had to get ready for little sister's arrival!  Christmas shopping was finished...a goal accomplished to be done by the end of October.  Today was grocery shopping and getting fabric to finish the curtain in baby Sarah's room.

At the checkout at Hancocks, with the beautiful pink Laura Ashley fabric in my arms, watching Seth step in the squares of tile on the store floor.  As I go to write my check, my phone rings.  It's Chad, and I do the "I'm checking out and I'll call you right back."  Seth is still busy with the squares.  (for those of you who know my firstborn, you know how he loves for things to fit into place...)

Checked out, imagining the beautiful curtain my friend Angie will sew to compliment the bedding mom and I had made for our precious baby girl.  Loaded fabric and toddler in car, remember to call Chad back.  You could say it took me by surprise when he told me he was driving himself to the hospital.  No hunting accident, but shortness of breath and pain.  Wait.  This man is a fireman, a paramedic...never admits to any pain or even needing to go to the doctor.  What is going on?

Let me interrupt with this note: the man drove from Lampassas county, by three hospitals, to central Bell county to come to our hospital in town.  Approximately 60 miles. I still don't understand it, but he had his reasons.

To make a very long story short...well, the story is still being written...who am I kidding.  Anyway, to sum up that day, Grandma was happy for Seth to come and play at her house while I went to meet Chad at the hospital.  Grandpa (my Daddy, who was a tenured ER physician at our hospital) was out of town.  The ER was bustling.  Chad was in a great deal of pain.  We sat.  We waited.  Hours later, a final diagnosis: bilateral pulmonary emboli.  Left lung full of clots.  So full that part of his left lung was collapsed.  Right lung not so many.

Funny what you remember about significant days like this.  I remember...wearing a pink and white check maternity blouse.  What brought the person on the other side of the curtain was coming to the ER. (seriously...what some people come up with...)  Thinking that Seth didn't have a paci with him and hoping mom had one, because who knows when I'd be home and he needed it at bedtime.  Theiss Jones coming to pray with us.  Dad calling from Ohio to ask his coworker about Chad's condition.  Seeing fear in a fit fireman-husband-daddy's eyes.  Most of all, remembering having to leave him in a hospital bed hooked up to lots of monitors and machines.  My baby and I got to go to my parent's house and cuddle with  my preschooler. 

The next day would be full of tests and consults.  The next week would be full of tests and consults. After six days he'd get to get out of the room for a walk down the hall.  After eight days he'd get to come home.

Life has been different since.  Medicines.  Specialists.  Blood work.  Scans.  Imaging studies.  Multiple hospitalizations.  Surgeries.  Two more possible life-ending illnesses.  Diagnoses.  Doctors arguing over diagnoses.  Positive prognosis.  Negative prognosis.  Good nurses.  Bad nurses.  Increased learning curve.  Questions without answers.  Frustrations. The list goes on...but one thing is certain.  We are thankful for each day.

Nine years ago.  Thankful.  So thankful that God has left Chad here for some reason and purpose.  He's still using Chad's life for good.  Longing for the day that Chad is completely healed.  No pain.  None of the horrible symptoms he lives with every single day...this list is looooong.  No meds to take.  No doctors visits, scans, labs...

Blessed with beautiful, healthy, precious Sarah Ellen days after Chad's initial hospital stay.  He was actually readmitted for three days again at the end of that month.  We picked him up Sunday morning to come home again, then checked back in that afternoon and had Sarah the next day.  Surprise Ella Grace came 19 months later...sent by God to make us laugh!

Things so personal here in the open for people to read...so unlike my personality. 

So if you have made it this far....even if you are mad at your spouse, go hug them and thank God for each day you are given.




Monday, November 7, 2011

My new word: "Superheroesque"

Note:  this post has been written and rewritten a few times.  I'm not sure why...it just has...

Chad (my husband of 15 yrs) celebrated a birthday this weekend.  We tend to make a big deal about birthdays around here...especially for...well, everyone.  Dinner out on Friday, dinner with family on Saturday, church and lunch with friends on Sunday.  (might I add, all of those meals were followed by at least one mug of Amy's Blend Caribou Coffee for me...)  Gifts of board games, Legos, and frosted animal cookies from the kids (and imagine, Ella Grace wanted him to open those animal cookies two days early).
Fun weekend for most everyone.

Now, some may not know that Chad is secretly a superhero (shhh).  He possesses powers and abilities that I didn't know were humanly possible.  Ready for it?      He is an incredible fake, in the best sense of the word.  He went to these meals, went to church, played a board game and built Legos.  He felt terrible the entire time, but faked well enough that you had to look a little closely to be able to tell.

More on all this later.  I mean, he'd probably be upset if I shared all of his superheroesque qualities with you in one post.  :)

Just one more thing right now.  Yesterday in Bible Class(some churches call it Sunday School, some call it Bible Fellowship...) our lesson was about storms in life, using the text from scripture about Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee.  After many comments, stories, and visuals were shared, after questions were asked and most answered, Chad spoke up.  The question was asked of him, "How do you live with the daily storm you face?" 
His answer: "Well, I've come to live where I'm not in fear wondering what will come next...what will be the next thing to go wrong or land me in the hospital.  I live knowing God's got a plan, and I'm just waiting to see what HE will do next and how He'll use our experiences."

On his birthday, giving me the gift of remembering this truth we are promised throughout God's word.

And yes, he is still MUCH older than me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween

Kids are so fun.  And yesterday afternoon as well as fun, mine were exasperating.

Quick Halloween post...

Ella Grace: Rapunzel from "Tangled"
If you haven't seen the movie, get it and watch it.  And watch it again.  And again.  This girl lives with the "This is where my life begins" attitude and asks weekly if she can take a frying pan to school.


Sarah: Baylor cheerleader
A natural encourager and gymnast...this girl could be in a dictionary under the definition of the word "cheerleader".  And that Baylor (and Academy) green bring out those green eyes....


Seth: Josh Hamilton (center fielder for the TX Rangers, for those of you who I don't understand)
Hamilton has become a huge role model to Seth, who read Josh's biography "Beyond Belief"  last year and even got it signed this summer when Hamilton was rehabbing at Triple A Round Rock.  A true testament of faith and determination.  Praying Seth will continue to grow strong in his faith.


Fun, friends, candy...totally made up for any exasperation that took place beforehand. 

Catch a seat and hang on...

My mind races...all of the time...with things that need to be complete, be said.  It would seem that most women think this way.  But it hasn't always been like this.

Saturday:
Rise early.  Prepare breakfast for a basketball player and a soccer player and their amazing sister.  Get basketball player to game and bundle up to get soccer player to cold (36 degrees at kickoff) game, both start at 830. 

After fore mentioned games(I got to sit at soccer *brr!* Chad got to sit in the gym), come home.  Take amazing sister to play with her long-time friend that she doesn't get to see often anymore.  This friend...a boy...you know, the one she has known since she was 2 1/2...the one that in preK she stated that she and D would be on "Dancing with the Stars" together(not sure which one is the star)...the one that you can put the two of them together and they'll be content for hours.

Home, prepare to leave for second soccer game of the day, 45 minutes away.  Pack up snacks and such, meet the most amazing group of soccer team families at meeting spot, drive to game.  While team is warming up, go to local diner to get Chad a most amazing lunch sandwich(when he eats one meal a day, it should be outstanding!).  Come back, watch game.  Watch my favorite soccer player on the team get a yellow card in the last minute of the game.  Watch his heart break on the field.  Nothing that boy does would ever be to intentionally harm anyone.

Game over (shutout...great game!), drive through Chickfila for food for both soccer players (you know, the one that played at 0830 and the one that just finished).  Drive 45 min to pick up amazing sister.
Come home, quick nap.
Up, make chili dogs for kids for dinner.
Shower, coffee, off to work.

While at work, doing a job that I absolutely love with people I love even more, I compose a mental list of things that must be done, in random order:
grocery list...milk, fruit, SD card for camera
Pumpkin Parable (by Liz Curtis Higgs...get a copy before next Halloween!)...couldn't find our copy, try to find a summation online and print out for Chad to use when he and the kids carve pumpkins in the morning...to use as church since we won't make it as I'll be asleep
Birthday gift ideas for Chad...anyone have any?
Ask girls at work a good way to get Rapunzel's wig to stay on for Halloween
Must mop kitchen floor
Augh! I forgot creamer...but need coffee...has Jack made any in the breakroom?
Must get long sleeve white shirt clean and dry for cheerleader for Halloween
Seth's gym clothes!  P  U
Unpack (yes, after 5 months, still have boxes)
Christmas ideas
Man, need to shop for dishwasher...
Need to look up list of common meds used during kid's sedation procedures for work
Really need new black casual shoes...ouch, and shoes for work
Pharmacy---yes
Shave?  No, not til after  Halloween.  :)

The list goes on, as does time and life.

Sunday's sleep wasn't great, but I was awaken once by the kids' voices.  As they were having "church at home" and choosing songs to sing, I hear Sarah, "Can you hear?  There's a new song, sing it out sing a new hallelujah."  Heart melts.  I smile and go back to sleep.

"Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you."---1 Peter 5:7 
Whew.  Thank goodness.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A new day

"And it might not be the prettiest thing you've ever seen, but it's a new day, yeah baby it's a new day...."~~Robbie Seay Band

So, how do you start a blog? 
Why do you start a blog?

Answer #1: After days of setting this up and being made to feel completely technologically stupid, here's what we've got.

Answer #2: Selfish reasons.  Just mostly to put stuff down as it comes to mind and heart. 

Beginnings are so filled with emotion.  Excitement, fear, anxiety, hope.  Every day is a new beginning, and even if it's not pretty, it's still a new day!  Another chance to touch someone's life, to make home a little homier, to see my kids' faces.  Wondering what will come out of their mouths and minds today.  Personally, I look forward to new days.

That last sentence holds so much in it.  Every morning I wake up and am excited of what the day will hold, knowing that lying beside me is a man who finds this as a challenge.  How will I feel?  How badly will I hurt?  Will I be nauseous all the time or just when I'm up and moving?  I long and hope for the day that this amazing, determined man will wake up and look forward to a new day.  That's all I am going to say about that.

The kids are hilarious in the mornings.  Unpredictable, they either wake up on a high or low...never middle ground.  Either a "leave me alone until 10:00 please," or they bound out of bed and begin talking at 90mph!  The World Series has consumed Seth's brain (along with his NFL fantasy team), so most mornings I hear every single detail and thought about how the Rangers will win with their line up and making sure he has another Ranger shirt clean for the next day.  Looking ahead, that boy. 

This morning, sweet Sarah was the first one up, ready to share her joy for life.  If only we could all wake up with our hair looking as good as Sarah's does in the morning.  ~sigh~ 

And Ella Grace, grumbling as she descended from her loft bed, then doing a complete 180 when she realized she got to wear her soccer jersey today.  It was "wear your favorite teams shirt day" at school.  "Of cowse my team is my favowite, genius!"

Hoping your beginning today finds you anticipating what's to come, while enjoying every second of the day!

(Whew!  Now that that's over, perhaps the next blog posts will be a little lighter...you know, like the tree that Lucy(Sandra Bullock) tries to pull up through her window in "While You Were Sleeping..."  "I should have gotten a blue spruce...they're lighter.")