Saturday, July 31, 2010

Project 52: Scavenger Hunt


In order to keep things fun and fresh in our relationship, Jon and I are going to start dating again! This is a blog carnival by Simply Modern Mom.

Project 52: Date Nights logo

As close to each week as possible, we will set aside some time just for us. Occasionally we may get a babysitter and go out to do something fun. But mostly we will stay in and just get creative in finding new fun ideas to do to spend time together around the house after the kids are down for bed. I already have a huge list of things just to do at home!! Part of the fun is you want to try to do something different each time. You don't want it to fizzle out if you just watch a movie every date night, then it won't be as special, it'll just become the usual.

So for our first Project 52: Date Nights, I came up with a surprise for Jon. I sent Jon down for a little swim in the pool for about 20 minutes as I 'setup' for his surprise (he knew something was going on). Swimming relaxes him, so though I initially had planned this for a night he got home later from work- something happening a lot lately- I realized those nights he may not be quite up for this type of date.



When Jon came back up from his dip, he found the first note on our front door, he was going on a scavenger hunt! This note explained the game and requested he not stray from his tasks, as well as provided him with where to find the next clue. He was confused because when he first came into the house he expected me to be hiding in the bedroom as the end result, and instead I was waiting for him still in my jeans and t-shirt, watching him follow along.
The next clue led to a toy, then to our iPod player where I had it already on our song, I Will Be Here, by Steven Curtis Chapman, when he pressed play. Then my note sent him down to our mailbox where I had hidden something special for him to slip into when he returned upstairs. He said he ran in his excitement to find out what everything led to! But when he returned from the mailbox I was hiding, as he hoped. But he wasn't yet allowed to come join me. First he went around the kitchen, from clue to clue, gathering strawberries, Reddi-whip, sparkling cider, and glasses. His last clue sent him to come find me in our bedroom where we enjoyed our snacks and cuddled. We had fun and just enjoyed our time together. It was the perfect first date for the beginning of our own Project 52.
And I had so much fun preparing and writing the clues, that even rhymed!! Just be sure not to make them too difficult, you don't want him to take too long figuring them out as you wait for him.And it was all very inexpensive too! The only things I had to purchase were the strawberries and the sparkling cider, everything else, even the Reddi-whip, we already had on hand! See, you don't need to spend a lot of money, or even leave your own home to have fun and exciting date nights at home!!
I hope this inspires others to do something creative for their spouses! Check back for more great, affordable date nights (and maybe some day dates as well)!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Send Me a Treasure of a Handwritten Letter

Letters.
We have all gotten them.
Its amazing how treasured these simple pieces of paper can be.
Aged and delicate from years of being folded and unfolded, sometimes stained by tears over time.

I have a box of old letters, from my dad, from my brother, from friends throughout my life, and I could never part with any, though some are beyond legible in their current state.

Now in my impatience, I eagerly wait for that instant reply through my electronic mail. Always bright and new, no matter how long ago those words were composed. No character, just a white screen with little overly neat and perfect black typing on them.

But beauty is often found in the flaws and the best things in life are worth waiting for.

I miss my snail mail letters. Even if they test my sanity as I wait and wonder for weeks if the intended recipient received my paper present and will be replying with their own for me, I still long to have those pages to tuck away in a special place to look at occasionally throughout the years that pass, and remember. They invoke so much more memory and emotion then anything I could pull up on my computer screen. They are gifts of the time and thought taken to share with me stories from across the miles. They are a little piece of the love from family and friends fit into a tiny envelope.

Far above any jewels or gold you could send me, I crave a handwritten note, one that someday I can pass on to my own children as an heirloom, a memorial, a bit of the writer suspended in time and space, the words as ageless as the paper it is written on is aged.

Have we forgotten what a treasure a handwritten letter can be?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thankful Thursday: It's YOUR Turn!!

I am thankful for my readers! The blog world is still fairly new to me, but I still get excited to know others are reading and interested in what I write! I deeply miss school for the opportunity to be challenged with a variety of essays to write on anything from history, such as Was the nuclear attack on Hiroshima necessary?, to classic fiction, analyze the topic or pride in Pride and Prejudice. Yes, those were actual essays I wrote in school and still have tucked away somewhere. I had always felt a sense of accomplishment when the teacher would add to the assignment the opportunity/requirement to read or discuss the topic for the class. I just don't think I was as motivated to write not thinking others would be reading my words. Even in my poetry, I longed to share it with friends and to get feedback for what I had written.
So today you are the star! Your comments and feedback to me are appreciated mightily! After all you make it all worthwhile for me to write! You are the one who takes the time to browse and read my many thoughts, and sometimes even tell me your own! So THANK YOU!!

An Awkward Return and An Awful Teacher

I think of sixth grade as the beginning of my descent into the 'unpopular crowd'. Really this is one of the first years I noticed there was a distinct line between unpopular and popular. I had gotten a taste in my 4th & 5th grade classes but I thought that was just at the different schools I attended, not universal. Actually as I got older it upset me less and less to be apart of that group. Sure it would've been nice to have more boys think I was pretty, and by high school I would've loved to be on homecoming court, but as an adult I don't feel I missed out on anything important.
This was the year I returned to the school I spent 1st-4th grade (half of 4th grade) attending. It was very awkward for me. I knew some of the kids in my class already from my earlier years, but we had not kept in touch in my absence. Instead of welcoming me back, which is what I expected particularly from one girl who had been a very close friend from 1st grade on, I was accused of 'staring' at her and told to knock it off- or else. I didn't remember staring at her, I had noticed her in my class, but I had been searching the faces of everyone, looking to see who I should remember. Apparently I had lost the good graces of all the kids I had once called friends, though I did eventually make new ones.
In addition to my threat from an old friend, my first day of 6th grade was only made worse by our first assignment. We broke up into partners and interviewed each other. Then we were to write a couple paragraphs about that person and our teacher took our pictures to add to our little introduction article. Then in the coming days we would spent a little time introducing our partner to the class. Unfortunately for me, our class had an odd number of students, and like the rotten cherry on top of sugar free, freezer burned ice cream sundae, I was partnered with Mr. W, my first ever male teacher.

(This was the photo attached with the interview, I apparently couldn't wait to throw away most of it, but I have never been one to toss pictures...even BAD ones it seems!!)

I don't have any lasting memories of the interview I did with him, but I have plenty of the year that followed. I may have decided ahead of time I would not like him, considering that traumatic first day, but he quickly proved me correct in my decision. I can't pinpoint exact reasons, but I know on more then one occasion I felt extremely uncomfortable around him. I do remember one time in particular, I was upset with some of my friends after a big fight, so upset that I felt physically ill. I went to the nurse and with little evidence other then how I said I felt- no fever- I convinced them I needed to go home. I don't remember how much of it I exaggerated, I am sure a little bit just because I couldn't stand to be in the class after such a big fight, I remember crying about it. My grandma was called and I went home with her, without having to face those particular friends for the rest of that day.
I was not so lucky the next day, my mom made me go back to school despite my protests. But my fears were pointless, whatever the issue had been, by the following day all was forgiven and forgotten, at least by most. However Mr. W was not happy with my quick recovery from my 'illness' the day before. At our first recess he held me in and asked if I had been lying the previous day about being sick. I denied it adamantly, and in truth, I hadn't felt 'well'. I remember crying tears of anger that he would question this as he hit his point, that I went home because I was upset about a fight with friends. While he was essentially correct, I didn't feel it was any of his business. It was between me and my mom, and maybe the nurse who had made the decision to allow me to go. How dare he accuse me and take away my recess when I had done nothing wrong! (And I would like to note as a parent now, I would still disagree if a teacher did this to my own child. There have been plenty of days my kids didn't feel good and the next they were back to normal, bouncing off the walls!). As far as I was concerned this teacher was the worst teacher I had ever had or would ever have! I was overjoyed by the end of the year to be leaving behind not only elementary school life, but most importantly Mr. W!

One other little memory I will never forget is from the end of the year. As I had tried to get everyone in my class to sign my yearbook, even people I didn't like, I shyly asked a boy in my class named James. And his reply was "You wish." And all the boys he had been in the group with who had already signed my yearbook just laughed and snickered as I held back tears from those 2 little words. I had never much cared for him to begin with, but I genuinely hoped to have everyone sign and not only was he refusing, but he embarrassed me, like it was wrong I should even speak to him. Yes, I was relieved when this school year was over. Just more proof that the division between the popular and unpopular was beginning!


This is the 8th post of 15 in a series I am doing to record my youth with other woman at

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: A Smile That Lights Up My World



Linked to Wordless Wednesday.

Hold the Flavor Please!

I just must share my daughter's most recent 'Kid's say the darnedest things' moment.

This is actually a picture of her from the Fourth of July, but you get the idea, the girl loves her corn on the cob!!

Jon had decided to grill our corn on the cob for dinner. Natalie is a huge fan of corn on the cob, so though she wasn't sharing in our grilled steaks I had made sure to get her some corn to share with us. As Jon brings in the slightly charred cobs of sunny deliciousness, Natalie scrunches up her nose in disgust and says "Can you take the brown off mine?"
Jon and I chuckle a little and he replies, "That's called flavor! It's what makes it good!"
After a few moments of deep thought, Natalie looks up again at Jon and asks very sweetly and innocently, "Can you take the flavor off mine?"
At this point Jon and I are laughing pretty heartily as Jon says "Sorry, but no kiddo!"
And Natalie refused to eat her flavorful corn that night! But I sure did enjoy mine, poor girl didn't know what she was missing out on!

Linked to

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mommyhood Memos: Just Can't Hold It In!

The Mommyhood Memos

You know your life has changed when...as you hold your naked baby, she pees on you and all you have to say in that over-enthusiastic silly voice is "Oh look you just peed on me!" as if it were just some cute little inside joke!

This is actually exactly what happened when my husband was holding my daughter in preparation for her first real bath! It was hilarious!

You know your life has changed when...your baby pees on you as he laughs about it and you begin to laugh just tickled by the thought that he did it on purpose instead of being grossed about wearing his pee-pee!

This also happened and much more recently! Just a few nights ago as I changed my 16 month old son (who hasn't done this in a long time), he started peeing on me and was instantly laughing about it! Instead of being upset that he got me, I just couldn't stop laughing at the fact that it seemed like he was doing on purpose to play a little prank on me!!

Check out more Mommyhood Memos on Adriel's blog and write your own!

Top Ten Tuesday: My Bookshelf

So this week I thought I would share about 10 books from my bookshelf I need to finish reading! Most I have started and just set aside and haven't gotten back too. They are not forgotten though. I see them screaming at me from amongst the tattered and well loved books. They are shiny and new, no pages folded down yet, a crisp spine I have yet to flatten with some weights to keep open, pencil and highlighter free...so far. Some have collected dust from the years up there, some are barely out of the Amazon box they shipped in. I just love books, and apparently too many then I can read at once!! So here is my rather varied list in no particular order...

1. Beautiful in God's Eyes by Elizabeth George. This is the one I am currently working my way through, little by little. It is a very easy read, but to fully glean all I can from its pages I try to read it when I have some quiet in the house, the reason I fail to get through it very quickly!! It is a book about the Proverbs 31 woman of virtue that has recently become some of my key verses from the Bible, as I strive to be a better wife and mother to my family.

2. The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks. I LOVE love. So I enjoy many of Nicholas Sparks' novels. They may be a bit predictable, but I am usually quickly sucked in by the thoughts of 'knights' rescuing their 'damsels in distress'. Of course there is no armor in his novels, they are definitely more modern romances based in our current time. And most are centered in some small town, fictional or non, in North Carolina. Through these books I have fallen even more in love with small town life and particularly the coast of North Carolina!

3. Experiencing God Around the Kitchen Table by Marilynn Blackaby. I also have her husband's book, Experiencing God, waiting to be read on my book shelf. It has lived there since I was 17! My love of a large library and God started very early!! This book though is a new edition to it within the last year. It is a Focus on the Family book, which was why I bought it. I find the little I have read to be so encouraging as I am making my way through life as a homemaker, wondering how can I minister when I am at home all day with 2 young children? Another easy read, that you can jump into at any point in the book that interests you, put it down and come back to another section when it appeals.

4. Lose Your Mummy Tummy by Julie Tupler. This is one of my newest additions, less then a month old. I have skimmed it, but it is not exactly what I was expecting. Still I plan to read more into it, preferably very soon, as I endeavor myself to lose my mummy tummy...hopefully in time for my sister's November wedding.

5. Romancing Your Husband by Debra White Smith. I have had this in my collection since February. I have read the first 2 chapters and found it quite interesting. I have always been under the impression that the man should be the one to romance the lady, but it can go both ways! In fact, if I expect him to be romancing me, I should be trying to romance him first! This has helped to remind me of that age old wisdom- do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. There is also a 'companion' book to this for the guys- Romancing Your Wife. My husband has it, but he is even worse about reading books then I am!!

6. Dare to Repair by Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas Tenet. I was given this at a Navy wives meeting once when we first moved to the East Coast. I have skimmed it but I have not used it yet, though I am sure soon it will become regularly pulled from the shelf as my husband gets deployed next year. It gives simple instructions on fixing anything from unclogging a toilet to cleaning a clothes dryer's hoses and vents to freeing someone locked inside a room. It is specifically for women written by women. So far, I haven't had to pull it out because I just wait for Jon to fix the many tasks it lists in the book, but when he is unavailable and the building's maintenance is gone for the day, this book sure will come in handy from the basic to the more complex jobs around the home. Now if only they made one for simple repair on the car!

7. "Don't Make Me Count to Three!" by Ginger Plowman. I actually picked this book up from a clearance section in a Christian bookstore shortly after Natalie was born. It looked interesting and I figured one day I would need it, but alas it has sat unused on my shelf until recently. It is actually just under Lose Your Mummy Tummy on my current reading list, only because the tummy thing will take some time and I don't have much before November! I was reminded of this useful tool in the last parenting class I took at my church. I couldn't believe I actually already owned a book that was recommended! I am anxious to put it to use as it gives very good biblical advice on discipline
and teaches how we can use scripture for reproof. It also has a handy chart in it for some bible verses to reference on certain topics as well an appendix on How to Become a Christian, How to Lead Your Child to Christ, and How to Pray for Your Child.

8. The Four Seasons of Marriage by Gary Chapman. I bought and read Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages long before he came to do a conference at our church while we lived on the East Coast. So I was excited to see some of the other books he also had to offer. This one I found particularly interesting. It shares about the four seasons a marriage may go through and how to identify where you are at in your marriage, as well as provide helpful strategies to get through it and build a stronger commitment between you and your spouse. As someone who is in the 'summer' or 'satisfied' season at the moment, I may be a little complacent as I put off reading it.

9. Simply Sweet from Pampered Chef. My latest addiction is Pampered Chef, as I host yet another party this week! In my last order I bought this book, one of their newest in the current catalog. I was enticed by the scrumptious looking pictures of Strawberry Cream Cupcake Dessert and Giant Rocky Road Cookies, and I just had to have it! That was about four months ago and I still have not ventured into the kitchen to master any of the delicious recipes hidden in its pages. Of course I may put it off a bit longer as I try to learn a little self control in the area of my sweet tooth. But still one thing I truly love about the Pampered Chef cookbooks is the pictures! I can't stand the cookbooks in boring black and white, and few if any pictures. I need to be able to see it if I am going to crave it!

10. Fancy Nancy: Poet Extraordinaire by Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser. Well, technically, this one is not on my bookshelf and it isn't for me. It is actually spending its days in the bottom drawer of my nightstand as an intended gift for my daughter on any special day if she is being distinctly well behaved and needs a new book to read. I actually have more then one tucked away because I tend to buy a few at a time, only showing one to her on each occasion, and stashing the rest away. This one I, as a poet myself, was quite excited about owning! I will admit, Fancy Nancy has become a favorite of mine and I am just thrilled that Natalie has latched on to my own little obsession. I love the colorful and bright illustrations, and each book teaches a good little lesson as well as some big fancy words to my daughter. In Poet Extraordinaire it teaches also about different types of poems and poetry. What a fun way to teach the subject to young girls!

Well those are just a few of the books on my bookshelf. Maybe another time I will share some more! I just never seem to get enough of good books. I love to have not only a range of titles, but also books in a wide range of subjects that interest me, from books about running bed and breakfasts, to ancient Egypt, to healing after sexual abuse, to the classic novels from years before, each is a wonderful treasure to me.

This post is linked to Top Ten {Tuesday} .

Monday, July 26, 2010

Crayon Therapy

Once upon a time I worked in childcare at our church on the East coast. I loved every minute of it! It was mostly nights, a few weekends if there was something extra special happening. I loved my coworkers and I loved the children. We did crafts, read books and colored with the kids. Before this if you had asked me to color, I would've stuck up my very mature adult nose at you and said, "Coloring is for children, I am an adult. I just don't color!" And if by chance I ever did, it wasn't with crayons, after all I am much more refined then that, I would use color pencils or markers. Of course this was all before Natalie hit the age when coloring became an art form. Now its one of her favorite pastimes. And sometimes I even join her.
Do you ever wish you could go back to being a kid again? Life seemed so much simpler, no stress and responsibilities to get in the way. I, being not a therapist but a regular patient to this form of therapy, propose that as adult when we are stressed out to the point of hair loss, deeply longing for something simple to soothe us, that we color. And not just color with anything! Oh for this therapy to truly work we must use the most essential medium available to children, the crayon. Let the crayon flow as an extension of yourself, as you concentrate on staying within the lines of any random picture in a book full of colorless pages. Use the repetitive and constant movement of your hand as a way to erase all the tension from your body and mind. Remember an easier life, filled with coloring pages, juice boxes, and cookies waiting patiently for you when you return home from school. Then be bold, post your newest masterpiece on display for all to see. The best of your work should go in a place of honor, right alongside the greatest artists of our time, our children, on the refrigerator. And as you stand back to admire your work, consider what your next project may be!
Need more therapy...give finger painting a try next!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Six Word Saturday

PLAYED CLEAN-UP CATCH-UP, THAN MESS-UP AGAIN! OR I CLEANED UP, THEY DESTROYED AGAIN!



Okay, so I had to add some hyphens to make it under 6 words, but it has a nice ring to it! I think its pretty self explanatory too. I basically spent most of my week cleaning up after last week's tornado passed through my home. I cleaned so much I felt like I was neglecting my blog because I barely had time to do a 'Wordless Wednesday' post! Though now things are a little calmer and I am ready to sit down and relax and write again, but alas once more a storm, though definitely smaller then the previous, has blown through my home! Ah, the joys of a homemaker! The chores never do have an end, do they?! You just have to wait until your kids are older and learn to delegate to the responsibilities out amongst them as you sit back and sip an ice tea! (Now there is something to dream about!)

So You Think You're Starving?

Any given day, I may be sitting on the couch reading a good book, or preparing dinner in the kitchen, when Natalie will walk over to me and announce, "I'm starving!" This is a phrase my husband has gotten into the habit of using, and since passed it on to our daughter. I don't ever remember feeling the irritation towards him for the use of that word, but now as my daughter uses it unsparingly, I find it to be quite disturbing.
It is not an uncommon part of our day to day lives to hear someone, or find ourselves, saying "I'm starving," to indicate our 'level' of hunger. We aren't simply craving a snack, we want something truly filling and hardy because we feel empty. Even in the dictionary the term 'starve' has been defined as 'to be extremely hungry' as its secondary meaning. But lets not neglect the primary meaning of the word. Starve: to weaken, waste, or die from lack of food.
In our country there are few who truly fall into that category. Most of us, certainly those with access to a computer and the internet who are able to read this, do not suffer from starvation in its truest meaning. We are not likely to die from lack of food, and in fact we probably have very little idea of how weakened we can become from no food for more then a day. I have gone a full day without one meal or even a snack. It wasn't on purpose, it was simply because other things happening that day kept me from getting to eating. Even then I was not starving. I had no lack of food, in fact it was abundantly available to me when I was ready for it. And even if my own kitchen were not conveinent, I had a number of fast food establishments and grocery stores accessible to me. So even then when I may have been slightly weakened from not eating, I could still not claim an actual lack of food.
In our own household we have made the word 'starving' a bad word. Occasionally my husband will slip up from habit, but we are making it a point to remind ourselves and our children what true starvation is. There really are many people, children and babies, who are literally starving in other countries. Starvation is a real and tragic sadness in our world today, so lets not become numb to the true meaning of starvation. Remember you are blessed to live in a country where it would indeed be difficult to find nothing to eat. As you sit down to your overly large second helping of dinner tonight, say a prayer for those who are dying somewhere in the world right now, from a lack of any food at all. And the next time you feel the pains of hunger, think twice before uttering the phrase "I'm starving!", and realize you have no idea how starvation actually feels.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Are You Happy?

Are you happy? We place so much weight on this simple little question. And everyone seems to have a different idea of what happiness means and how to get it. Many in our materialistic world define it as a big house, filled with plenty of 'toys', and then of course the bank account to buy more. Some may think happiness comes from having the job that pays the most. I don't know how many times I have seen articles highlighted on Yahoo about what jobs pay the most, or pay the worst so you can avoid those career paths.
I certainly haven't met everyone or done the proper research to give you statistics on this subject, but I have little doubt in my own mind that none of the things I listed bring much if any happiness. How can you be happy constantly trying to keep up with the newest and latest gadget, or working longer hours to get more money to buy all those 'things' that you believe will bring you happiness.
Usually at Christmas my husband and I spend just enough on each other for a few DVDs or books or shirts. Nothing too expensive is in our budget. But this past year we had a little extra, so since our anniversary is also during the holiday season, we spent a few hundred each on one another. I bought Jon a few items, one being quite a nice watch, he collects nice watches. That was my splurge as well as a very nice watch case- like a jewelry box but for up to 10 watches. He loved both and wears the watch often at church. Would he have been just as happy without it, yes. Now when shopping for me, I have a hard time giving Jon a 'frivolous' list of items I want just for me. Not something for the house, or for the kids or for Jon, just something for me to have a little fun with. I had a few Disney figurines on my wish list that I had been pining for, but Jon wanted something I could use and have fun with, not something that would sit somewhere collecting dust. He bought me a Nintendo DS. For the first few weeks, I played it and enjoyed it quite a lot. I was 'happy' with this gift, or so I thought. It wasn't long before I lost interest in it between taking care of the household as well as the children, I just had better things to do with my time. So this gift has ended up collecting dust just as a figurine would have.
Temporarily, the gift made me smile, it was fun and I enjoyed it. Ultimately though, it faded away, it became outdated as a newer better version was released. I lost interest in it because it wasn't important enough to hold me. That is what so many of us place our happiness in. Happiness itself is not a lasting emotion. It comes and it goes. We may be thrilled to be able to buy the newest gadget at the store but shortly after we get home there is something bigger (or smaller now a days) and better out there, and our shiny new toy begins to dull in light of something even better.
Being happy is good. I want my children to be happy, I want my family to be a happy one, but more then happiness, I want them all to have joy. Happiness may come and go, it may fade away, but true joy is everlasting. True joy is a gift only God can give.
My joy in Him never fades. While I may set aside a Christmas gift and find better things to do, there is nothing greater then the gift God has given me. Nothing can be more important then Him. No other gift in this entire world is greater. There is no newer better version to go out and get, God is unchanging, as is His love for me. He will never take away His gift, it can't be stolen or broken. What more could I want? Even when I am not happy, things are just not going my way, I will still have my eternal gift from God that brings me joy always.
In answer to my own question, I am very happy at the moment. My life is good, God has blessed us with a good home, a wonderful church and amazing friends. How could I not be happy?! But I know something may happen at any moment to steal my happiness away, Satan is always looking for his chance to drag me down. But I am not worried about it, because he can take my happiness, but he can never steal my joy.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 6:23

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow shifting. ~James 1:17

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never persih; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." ~ Jesus, John 10:27-29


So here is my question for you, are you happy or are you joyful? Do you want a gift that will fade away or the one that is eternal?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Time Together

This week I am thankful for any time I get to spend with my husband. It has been a very difficult week in terms of the hours he has had to put in at work. The Navy is definitely not the standard 40 hour work week job, and we both were aware of that at his reenlistment almost 6 years ago. Despite my frustrations with his lack of time off, it reminds me to be more grateful when the times do come along and savour those moments to their fullest. Our lives are blessed in many ways, and one is that after serving nearly 10 years in the Navy my husband has only been on one long deployment. Our time apart in our almost 7 years of marriage has only been a total of close to 8 months. That is nearly unheard of among the Navy wives I have encountered and I know most wish they could say the same. I am truly grateful for all our time together. Time is such a precious gift, but we never know how much we are allotted until it is too late.
Yesterday was one of those wonderful days, due to a local holiday and parade, my husband was not working. We didn't do anything special, other then an errand I needed to run, we stayed home with the kids most of the day, just relaxing. During their nap we sat on the couch together and watched a movie as my sweet Jon rubbed my feet, though his were certainly in more need of it.
I don't know how much time we will have together this weekend as his work can come on so suddenly at times if some testing fails, or another urgent job comes in at 3pm Friday afternoon. But I am truly thankful for any and all time God blesses us with to be together as a family and as a couple.

Mommyhood Memos: Boogies, anyone?

The Mommyhood Memos
You know life has changed when...
...you find yourself desperately picking at and digging in your baby's nose to get all those boogies out and never once think how gross even the thought of picking another's nose once was!!
Check out Adriel's blog, The Mommyhood Memos, and add your own!!

Don't Throw the Scissors!

We lived in a small apartment after that 2nd big blue house, after my mother had officially decided my stepfather had used up all his 'chances'. I vaguely remember this apartment, because before long we moved from a 2 bedroom to a 3 bedroom within the same year and within the same complex. I have just a few memories of the smaller one.
I remember it being stocked full of girl scout cookie boxes the year my mom was the 'cookie mom'. And I don't mean the little boxes we all buy from the cute little girls outside the grocery store, I mean the big brown cardboard cases of them piled high as our living room decor for the 'cookie month'.
I also have vague memories of my mom bringing home one of the small handful of guys she began dating. In fact it was the first and last for a long time that she introduced to my sisters and I. I think his name was Mike, he was tall, and I didn't like him! I didn't want my mom going out with anyone! I don't remember specifically doing anything, but I was awfully rude to him I am sure. In fact I believe at another time later, at least one of my sisters was able to spend time with him and my mom while I was at a friend's house because I think it was only me who had the issues with my mom dating. I don't even remember why.
But the most vivid memory I have from this age has to do with scissors. We have all heard our parents shout at us as kids "Don't run with the scissors!" Apparently what my mom should've been saying was "Don't throw the scissors!" I know my sister will not be thrilled I am sharing this, but maybe it will help you better understand our relationship, especially growing up, and it is a part of my childhood. I wouldn't be recording it if I wanted to skip the hard stuff and only write about the 'fluff'.
We shared one of the 2 rooms in our tiny apartment with our new gerbil named Mickey (though he had the same markings as Ashes, my mom said I shouldn't use that name again, it was still a very sensitive subject to me). I don't remember much about how this day ended up where it did, I don't remember what our petty argument was about that day, but my sister Carolyn, who has a temper, and I were going at it head to head. Somehow my grandma had calmed us down a little and we weren't yelling anymore. I was standing near the hallway when Carolyn walked by with a pair of scissors. Not just any scissors though, these were heavy duty ones. I believe my mom used these to cut fabric for sewing and our hair, since they were the sharpest we had. They were heavy too, all metal and thick, not like the lightweight, plastic handled ones I have in my kitchen drawer today. As Carolyn passed I did something, I think I might've stuck my foot out or nudged her somehow, still angry and irritated about our fight, determined to have that last 'word'. And as she reached the other end of the room, after I pushed that button, the one that set her off, she turned and threw these sharp heavy scissors directly at me. They were heavy so as they flew through the air they lost a little altitude and hit me pointy end first in my knee. I instantly dropped to the floor as my knee began to bleed, what I remember as, a gushing river of blood. I was screaming and my grandma instantly appeared over me with a towel to wrap around my knee as Carolyn just sat on the couch and stared. I remember thinking she seemed like she was in a trance when I looked over at her with a look I had hoped would kill through tearful eyes.
I never went to the doctor's office or ER, my grandma and my mom made a makeshift splint using towels and magazines to help me keep my knee from bending and opening the wound back up again. I stayed in bed the rest of that day. I don't know if my mom or grandma ever had a 'talk' with my sister about what she had done, but I do remember when I asked how she would be punished being told "Watching you bleed was punishment enough." Which I was of course appalled by! My sister had just tried to kill me and she wasn't being tarred and feathered for it??!! When did I get to throw scissors at her and get away with it?!
As you can see I was a drama queen from an early age! I still have the scar on my knee today. Its very small and I often forget its even there. I find myself wondering sometimes if the gushing of blood I remember may be my own mind tricking itself. I know it was more blood then I had ever seen at that age, so to a 10 year old it seemed like a 'gushing river', but the scar now is so small it's hard for me to believe that much came out of it! Though I know it hit near the cartilage because I used to be able to see it and it always looked so funny to me, like bones poking through. Just another battle scar from my childhood.

This was the 7th post in a 15 week series I am doing to record my youth with other women. Check it out at

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No More Cutest Blog on The Block!

Just a quick note, I don't recommend using "Cutest Blog on the Block". I was very unhappy today to log on to find a message at the bottom of my blog page, where it usually had their logo, saying that as of Friday my layout would disappear. Granted it is a free source, so I didn't pay for the layout, but I really liked it and was considering paying them to get a matching header and button at some point soon. I don't know if they only have space to have so many background codes so new ones are being added while older ones are deleted, or if there is just a set limit for how long you may use any given background for free. I didn't see any disclosure about it when I first grabbed the background, but either way I am seriously disappointed with them. I don't want to change my layout a whole lot. I would rather stick with one particular layout for good. I realize the 'easy' answer is to purchase a custom made one, but I just don't have the money laying around at the moment for that.
Maybe I will make it my goal, when I reach 100 followers I will buy one. So now I guess I just have to branch out and hope there are many more out there who may enjoy the things I have to say!

Which on that note, sorry I have been slacking a little this week! After this past crazy week, I have been cleaning and generally keeping very busy!! I am hoping tomorrow or Friday to get a little more opportunity to sit down and finish a few posts I was able to begin but not end! And this is the first week in a while I haven't even had my Mommy's Piggy Tales story ready to go, I have next week's done, but not this week's!

Wordless Wednesday: Playing with Dolls

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Baby Names

Well I said last week that I would share my current top 10 baby names, these are mine though not necessarily husband approved. So here goes...
1. Aubree Nicole
2. Andrew Kale
3. Naomi Paige
4. Jonathan Andrew Daniel
5. Olivia Paige
6. Jeremy Andrew
7. Valerie Nicole
8. Jeffrey Andrew
9. Nicole Paige
10. Matthew Jonathan Kale

If you can't tell, their is a good bet our next child will have Nicole or Andrew somewhere within their name! I like having a family connection in some part of the name. Nicole is my little sister who I am closest too. Andrew is the name of Jon's Uncle who was a godly man but died of cancer when Jon was around 10. I find it interesting though, that my two favorite names are Nicole and Andrew, and my sister Nicole is about to marry an Andrew! Our family is full of repetitive names, by birth and marriage!

This posted is linked to Top Ten {Tuesday}

Monday, July 19, 2010

The 4-year-old Trouble Maker Strikes Again!

What a crazy week topped off by an exhausting weekend!! Most of last week I was actually making decorations for a children's party I was throwing for a friend who is moving very soon.



I think handmade ones look so much better and are much more affordable then the store bought kind, though we used a mix of the two.



I made 6 butterflies and ladybugs, 30 flowers, 40 leaves, plus a 'pin the petal on the flower' with 20 extra leaves for the game. As you can see I didn't quite need to use everything, but most of it went up.



I also baked, frosted and decorated 2 9-inch cakes for the birthday girls. I am by no means a professional as you can see, but it is a hobby I enjoy, more so though when I am not feeling rushed, but the outcome is always something that makes it all worth it to me.



By the actual party, my house was quite a mess as all my time and energy went into finishing the decorations and cake, while also taking care of the kids as my husband Jon happened to be working some pretty crazy late hours last week. Saturday and Sunday I took to just relax and put my feet up amongst the usual weekend activities, such as grocery shopping and going to church. But this morning reality sunk in as I looked around my disaster of an house and realized I need to do some serious housework today. As Zachary began his morning nap I set out to begin clearing away the clutter in my living room as Natalie kept herself entertained in her room. Due to recent problems with her getting into trouble behind the closed door of her bedroom, she can no longer have it shut when she is back there to deter anything going on that shouldn't be. Apparently that was not enough! Unfortunately her bedroom is tucked away towards a different part of our home then the living room, so I don't have full view of what is going on, and as I cleaned, some very naughty little finger snuck some markers back into her room. This is what I found....



And yes that is marker on her face as well, though since its purple, from a distance it looks more like a black eye! And that is actually after she attempted to clean herself up as evidence of my bathroom hand towel.



No damage to any furniture or walls, though there is a small spot on her comforter where she set the marker without a cap. When I asked her what had happened (okay so it was pretty obvious) her response was a very innocent sounding "Somebody colored on me!" She was right, somebody sure did, but the part she somehow thought she could hide from me was that she was that somebody! An unmistakable fact considering Zachary was sleeping and I was cleaning and no one else is home! In the end she did indeed get punished (while I tried not to laugh at how she looked!) and hopefully learned a lesson though sometimes it all seems futile.
Welcome to my crazy and sometimes seriously frustrating life with a 4 year old trouble maker.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Comparing Baby Pictures for Fun

Just for fun, I thought I would post 2 pictures from my kids early days.
This is my daughter, Natalie...

This is my son, Zachary....

Don't they look like they could be twins?!

Zachary's Birth Story

Again I found myself with a hugely bloated belly and a week past my due date. I don't know what it is about my babies, but they were both big and both took their sweet time gracing us with their presence!
I had prayed hard that my baby boy would be different then my daughter and come early even. I particularly hoped he would be born a week early so that he would share his birthday with my sister Nicole, as well as my great Uncle Mike, and my great Grandma. It was a particularly sad time because my uncle had passed away the day before his birthday, so I was anxious for the joy my little guy could bring. But that week passed and Zachary continued to kick from within me.
Then the next weekend came and went, with my close friend who shared my due date now having a beautiful baby girl in her arms instead of her belly. I felt jealous as I impatiently waited for my turn. I continued to hear surprise from others that I hadn't 'popped' yet as I was even larger then I had been with my daughter- gee, thanks for pointing that out. Simple tasks like taking care of my older child truly became chores as my energy was diverted to just being able to move around with my expanded middle.
I went in for a check up just after my due date, and finally to schedule my induction. Unfortunately there were a lot of pregnant moms closing in on their due dates and in the tiny Guam Naval hospital there were only 3 labor and delivery rooms available. One always had to be kept open for that mom who would spontaneously go into labor, apparently some babies do come out in their own time! So I was left with the earliest date available, a week and a half after my due date- which by the way we were positive of because I knew when we had conceived our surprise baby since we had only had the chance to be intimate once in all the stress surrounding out move to Guam. I have since gotten over this, but at the time I was devastated that of all the dates, I was now scheduled to have my baby on one of my 3 sisters birthdays, the one I least got along with. In the past year I like to think things have improved between us, but at the time of Zachary's birth we still fought like cats and dogs! I did NOT want my child to share her birthday!
Jon and I tried everything we could think of in the week and half leading up to my scheduled induction to get labor to happen naturally. I took Evening Primrose oil, we spent lots of awkward moments in bed attempting my husband's favorite method to induce labor, and I walked, A LOT. Even the doctor's had begun 'stripping my membranes', a very pain process, a month before my due date. But Zachary was not about to budge.
With my daughter, I had had the typical fears of a first time mom going into childbirth. I didn't know what to expect then, but I did now, at least when it came to labor itself, unaided. Now my fear was of the hard and intense labor pitocin would bring on, that could potentially lead to a c-section if my body didn't respond properly by dilating and effacing. I had been only barely 2 cm for the past month with no effacement- with my daughter it was the same 2 cm that haunted me for a month though then I was more hopeful because I was also effaced almost completely the last month as well.

The night before I would meet my son I did not get a wink of sleep. Our wonderful new friends from church were kind enough to have Natalie come over that night instead of worrying about dealing with her as we prepared to be at the hospital around 6 am. With maybe 3-4 hours sleep, I woke up and watched the clock count down to 5 am, when I had been told to call and check that there was room for me to come in. Each day they scheduled 2 woman to be induced, but if others had come in, rooms would get filled and there may have been room for only one or neither of us, but I was determined to be the first to call in that case. And thankfully I was told to go ahead and come in.
We waited down the hall, me on the edge of the seat, barely able to sit still, as they prepared my room. I was so anxious and nervous I hadn't eaten anything before we left, something I quickly regretted! Once I was hooked up to the monitors, and the IV in, it was a waiting game until the doctor arrived around 7:30. The nurse had already advised me that I was only allowed 'easy' foods, like jello or popsicles- as long as they weren't a shade of red. Of course there was nothing close to that available in either the hospital or the mini mart beside it.
After the doctor arrived and came in to tell me what was going to happen, the pitocin was started at around 8. It didn't hit as hard as I expected, it sort of came on gradually. My husband patiently waited at my bedside, looking tired from the lack of sleep he too had suffered. I remember asking him over and over in between my building contractions "Are you okay?". What a turn around from how irritated I remember feeling with him during my daughter's birth! At some point he finally asked why I was so worried about him when I was the one in pain. But I continued to be overly concerned with his state for some reason and every time I heard him sigh or yawn, again I inquired of him how he was feeling.
The doctor came in to break my water around 11 am. I was around 5 cm, and had been checked regularly by the nurse, though with very slow progress. It felt so strange to have my water broken by hand. With my daughter it hadn't happened until after I was enjoying my epidural, so I could only barely recognize the gush of fluids. This time the doctor, sitting on the edge of my bed, talking casually to me as if having this conversation over coffee, had to keep pushing around to get all the fluids out, and they just kept coming. He even noted it was a lot more then usual, as I felt a little hope that my huge belly had just meant lots of fluids verses the possibility of a big baby. The demeanor of my doctor was so casual, which honestly made it all the more awkward for me. He wasn't just my doctor, he was a regular attender of my church. I wouldn't just see him for appointments and have a purely clinical view of him, I knew him personally- though we never saw each other socially really- and he knew me a little too much if you know what I mean! I value my modesty, and this was definitely not making me feel very modest.
He advised me to hold off on my epidural for as long as I could stand to. He said it would be its strongest at the beginning and fade by the time actual pushing began if I got it too early. But being the wimp I am, 45 minutes later I was begging for it! Out of nowhere the contractions had gotten very intense, and I didn't want to wait anymore, I didn't understand how the epidural would 'fade' when with my first child it had been in for hours and hours before I had my baby.
I was much more informed though this time, that much was true. With my daughter no one had sat down to tell me how things would happen. Now though both my doctor had explained to me all about the different possibilities that could happen, and then the anesthesiologist had come in to tell me exactly what he would be doing. I wasn't really thrilled with this, I just wanted to move on. When the anesthesiologist had finished explaining he asked if I had any questions, I was very quick with me 'no', though Jon had piped up to some unimportant curiosity of his own to ask. I just remember looking at him and saying "I will tell you if you have any questions- and NO you don't!!" After all, it was happening to me, and I wanted that epidural that moment. That was the only time I was even a little unkind to Jon during Zachary's birth, and I quickly went back to being concerned about his well-being over mine as I laid in the hospital bed. It was even easier after the epidural.
This time the epidural was not nearly as strong. I could still feel the contractions though very mildly. The next few hours passed quickly, though I was starving the entire time. I honestly was having trouble thinking of anything else. Unfortunately when the doctor had arrived that morning I had been told I could only have ice chips, but as I was so desperately hungry and wasn't sure how much longer this labor would last, around 3 pm, Jon was ready to head down to the nearest grocery store to grab me some jello. I was hesitant about him leaving, worried the minute he was gone things would start happening fast, so I asked the nurse to check my cervix before he went. She was in on it, and knew where he was going and was playing dumb about it so I could have a little food in my belly. But as she checked my cervix, we discovered I was 9 cm. It was time to call the doctor in. It didn't take long for me to hit the 10 cm mark, and once I did I felt the oddest sensation. With my daughter, as numb as I was I had never experienced the feeling of needing to push. I pushed when I was told that time, but now I had the strongest urge to push very hard. The nurse asked me to wait- she must've never given birth, there was no holding it in! The best I could do was not put all my effort into the push that was coming like I was stuck on auto pilot. My body wouldn't give me an alternative. Luckily the doctor didn't take long and I was allowed to unleash the full force I had been longing to put behind the uncontrollable urge to push.
It was almost 4 in the afternoon, and I was excited and filled with anticipation. Despite the mild pain I was feeling, I was actually enjoying childbirth! I also, even in the heat of the moment, continued plaguing Jon with my questions about how he was doing, how funny I must've sounded to the doctor and nurses! I think I was beginning to irritate him honestly.
The baby's head was almost out, but according the monitors with each push his heart rate was dipping just a little. And my blood pressure was on the lower end. So with both of us in mind, not wanting anything to get worse, the doctor pulled out the forceps. He assured me we weren't in danger, he just didn't want it to get to that point. So with the help of forceps and one big push from me, my son was born at exactly 4 pm, weighing 9 lbs, 10 ozs and 21 1/2 inches long.
So much was happening all at once. I remember asking if he was okay because unlike his sister, Zachary had not come out screaming. The doctor assured me he was fine, he even scored an 8 & 9 on his APGAR (same as his sister) though I never remember him crying very much. As soon as he was out, Jon pulled out the 2 bags of cookies I had packed and I quickly devoured them. I felt awful. My son was just born but all I really was worried about was food!!
After my hunger was satisfied, I couldn't take my eyes off my boy. He looked exactly like Natalie, and I felt much more of the love I had expected then verses when Natalie was born- another fact that plagues me with guilt. And while Natalie had barely even opened her eyes in the first day of her life, Zachary was wide-eyed and taking it all in. Even now, he is my little curious George, my observer and doer.

*Note- for those who read Natalie's birth story and are wondering- yes this time they waited to stop the epidural until after they stitched up my minor tearing- not even a first degree tear. And I could only feel the tugging of the needle, not the needle itself, thank goodness!!*

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blog Bash Challenge: 'Life Song'

Blog Bash

So the next challenge for Blog Bash, hosted by Not Your Average Teen, is to pick a song that is your 'life song'. Its hard to find one song that I would say is my 'life song'. I mean there are so many wonderful songs that speak to me in so many different ways and I connect with each one on many different and intersecting ways. I originally wasn't going to bother with this challenge, but then I was listening to some music today and one song in particular struck a cord: "Legacy" by Nichole Nordeman. It also fits in with our church's theme this year, which is making a difference. I have always grown up wishing I could make a difference.
I want to leave a legacy, how will they remember me? Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough to make a mark on things? I want to leave an offering. Child of mercy and grace who blessed Your Name unapologetically. I want to leave a legacy. ~Nichole Nordeman, Legacy

I want to get to heaven someday and have God say to me "Well done my good and faithful servant." I want to stand out for Him, and have an impact, it is the deepest desire of my heart to proclaim Him. And I believe blogging is an outreach that gives me that opportunity.

Thankful Thursday: My Mom

I hope my mom knows how grateful I am to have her as my mother. She has done so much for me over the years though I may not have always shown my gratitude properly.
As the oldest of 4 girls, I was more aware of the sacrifices she made for us then my sisters seemed to be. She had help from her own mom, but most of my life she raised us by herself and when I was around 12 she had the added burden of caring for her own mom, as my grandma had a series of major strokes and dementia began to set in. I can only begin to imagine how difficult it was for her, especially on an emotional level when her own mom often times did not recognize who she was- her first little girl. I know it was difficult for even me, the first grandchild to feel forgotten.
I never doubted my mom wished she could be home more with me and my sisters, but that just wasn't a possibility, someone had to bring home a paycheck to pay the bills with. And somehow my mom pulled it off. She supported almost solely her 4 daughters as well as her deteriorating mother. She is amazing!
Growing up though I could sense the stress from her and I did my best to show my appreciation by behaving and trying to keep the peace as often as possible. But I was still a kid, and a kid that did not get along with one sister in particular, who had a short fuse. It wasn't hard to press her buttons without even trying, and once she went off, I couldn't help but feel riled up inside myself and I would retaliate. Of course my mom would dole out discipline as necessary, but I always felt so guilty for causing her any grief and I repented immediately in my heart for whatever I had done. Of course it would still happen again in the heat of yet another moment when my defenses would go down.
As I grew, my mom even helped me to get a job. I worked at the thrift store she managed. Though in efforts to not display favoritism, she was actually harder on me. I understood why, I was just happy to have a job. I knew it helped take some of the pressure off of her for me to be able to have my own money to spend instead of running to her constantly for some cash.
After I met Jon and got married, she even let us live with her for the 1st year so that we could save some money (I still have no clue where all that 'extra' money went- we certainly hadn't learned to save any then!). And again when Jon was sent to Cuba for 6 months, I packed up a barely one year old girl and moved across the country back into my mom's home as she welcomed me with open arms. And I sure took advantage of my time there, as I would sneak off as Natalie slept knowing my mom was home, so I could go out and spend time with the friends I had missed after I left home. She never complained once about watching her granddaughter- and of course I tried to be as considerate about it as possible!
Since leaving home and being on my own, my mom is still always there to help me out when I need it. She is currently caring for my dog, Diamond, while we are overseas so that we didn't have to put her through a flight here, and so we didn't have to get rid of her. And now, as of last week, she has offered to help us cover the cost of tickets to come home for my sister's wedding later this year. I am so thankful for the opportunity she has provided us, and everything she has done for me as I grew up.

Thank you so much mom, for everything you do and have done!! I love you!!

My First Baby, Ashes

In my final single digit year, I got my very own, first puppy dog. I think it was a form of bribe from my then stepfather who was attempting to make amends at Christmas time with my mom.
He took me on a drive that seemed to last forever to a woman's house that was literally crawling with Shetland shelties! It was gated, as it would have to be, and we were greeted by what seemed like hundreds of shelties of all different ages and sizes. They were all friendly and I thought I had died and gone to heaven, doggie heaven that is! I had wanted a puppy of my own since I had known these fun little creatures existed. I don't know my mom's precise reasons for being stuck on that awful word 'no', but I wonder if it had to do with her own dog that had run away. Either way, I was finally getting my wish fulfilled! I left that distant land of shelties with my sweet baby, Ashes. A black, caramel and white miniature sheltie who threw up on me most of our trek home. I didn't even mind, I was so excited about having my very own baby to care for, and I sure got the chance too in the following months.
I don't remember how long we had Ashes before my baby sister had decided to try to carry him down the stairs. She would've been around 3, and when someone asked her to put him down before going downstairs, she did. My poor new puppy fell from the very top of the steep staircase, in my sister's arms, down to the 2nd floor where he lay whimpering and whining in pain by the time I got to the scene of the crime. I don't remember if it was the next day or that night, but we took him as soon as we could to the vets, and I was in tears the entire time thinking he would die. Of course he didn't die, but he did end up with a splint on his leg, and not able to get around on his own for a few weeks. Now the test of my readiness for a pet, could I be responsible enough to care for my injured little puppy? Yes! Of course as much as any child my age could be.
Emptying my dolls from their miniature bassinet, I filled it with soft, plush blankets and placed it right up next to my bed, with my Ashes sleeping awkwardly but comfortably inside it. Rocking it, I sang him songs to help soothe him in his troubled sleep as I wondered if he was having nightmares of my horrible sister who tortured him on the steps.
During the days, when school was my first responsibility, I left him in the care of my grandma while I was at school. She promised to take good care of him in my absence. Still, I rushed home to take over and hand feed him when necessary. I was determined to show my mom I could handle this and we could keep Ashes.
Well eventually we moved to a new house with my stepfather. It had a wonderful big fenced in yard that my sisters and I, as well as Ashes, absolutely loved. Occasionally Ashes liked it less then we thought, as he dug and searched for holes to sneak through, then my mom would have to go driving through the streets, seeking my little escape artist. Then she would come home and patch up his most recent route out. It didn't last long though, before things changed again.
My mom and stepfather decided it wouldn't work. Without my stepfather living with us, my mom couldn't afford to stay in this still-new-to-us house, so we moved into a small 2 bedroom apartment. At first Ashes was good, and we regularly took him for walks when he would sit by the door. But my still young puppy who loved kids, began to sit at our sliding glass door and scratch away the carpet in an effort to show his enthusiasm to go play with the kids outside in the playground about 25 yards away.
One sad day, my mom sat me down on the couch to explain to me why we had to find Ashes a new home. I cried and hugged Ashes as my mom held me. It was a very tough day when we took him to the pound. Since my stepfather had taken me and Ashes on our first trip together, he was the one to take me and Ashes on our last trip together as well. I was so worried they would hurt him there, or that no one would adopt him, but to my surprise our timing was a gift from God. As we approached the desk, there was an older couple there who Ashes immediately began to jump on. They were there to get a dog and fell in love with my boy. So we left them with Ashes and our phone number and a promise from them to let me visit him. But I was familiar by then with broken promises, and somehow I could sense, though Ashes would be happy and loved, I was never going to get that call, and I would never see my first baby Ashes ever again.

This is the 6th in a 15 week series I am doing to record my youth with other woman. Check it out at

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blog Bash Challenge: Rekindle

Blog Bash

So the Blog Bash I am participating in this week, hosted by Not Your Average Teen, has challenged everyone to write a post rekindling our memories from high school. Funny enough I can't think of any particular one I want to share, yet I know in a few more weeks I will be writing about them for Mommy's Piggy TALES, and so far they have flowed very well from even younger years for that!

Its hard for me to think of many really happy, 'stand out' moments from high school. Not that life wasn't happy, just very normal and routine. I was not popular but I had enough friends for me. I loved going to youth group though I often felt like a joke there, the one everyone made fun of- I know they all still cared, I was just an easy and naive target and 'teens will be teens', right? I had a job from pretty much the 2nd month of my high school experience- which just to clarify was sophomore through senior year in my school system. In a very overcrowded district, the freshman were with the 7th and 8th graders in the junior highs. Due to my job I had little opportunity to be actively involved in extra curricular activities. I did choir, which was an elective class, all 3 years and an extra ladies jazz class my senior year.
Choir was very bittersweet for me. Though I generally liked our teacher, I was frustrated that he seemed to play favorites and I was not one of them. I am not sure what he actually thought of me, but I always felt he was disappointed in me somehow, like I wasn't quite good enough. I tried out for every solo I could, as well as, to be a part of the 'top' jazz group called the Highlighters my senior year, and he never once gave me a second thought for any of them. I know at least for the Highlighters, he knew it would be difficult for me to put in the extra after school hours the group required, though I told him I was determined to work it out. I had to settle for the beginning jazz ladies group he was also teaching. Otherwise, choir was fun, I loved to sing and felt I was pretty good at it though nothing 'special'. As a choir we regularly went to competitions, which were experiences I will never forget. They got me out and away occasionally when otherwise I would've stayed home and went to work. My junior year we even travelled the West Coast, stopping at a college, and Disneyland, were we sang for an audience, over most of spring break!
Outside of choir, I briefly was part of French club. I would go if I didn't have to work and could get a ride home during my sophomore year, then junior year I was supposed to be the VP but due to my peers dislike of me, they kicked me out for what I felt was unfair reasoning. That was the last year I took French.
My 1st year in it I had an awful teacher, though I was a favorite student of Mr. J. He taught very elementary French, and most of the students made fun of him though I was the exception- probably why he liked me. I remember having to turn in this big packet of past worksheets (all already graded), but he gave an additional grade for reasons I didn't know. When he had everyone turn back in the packet of their work for the month, (I was never a very organized student) so I couldn't find everything. I told Mr. J I had forgotten it when he asked me to hand it in and his reply was simply "Don't worry about it, I'm sure you deserve an A!" I was astonished! While I was thrilled as a student, I totally disagree with that method of teaching as an adult. Even then while happy with the grade I didn't quite agree, feeling it was wrong. Grades should be earned, not given based on favor without merit. Either way, he did not prepare his classes of students for the 2nd & 3rd year French teacher, Ms. F, who was quite difficult. She insisted we only speak basic French in class, which most had barely learned from Mr. J. And I barely made it through my 2nd year before I decided I was done! Plus 2 years was our required foreign language credit, so I had earned it and had no desire to continue.
Well those are some brief memories from my ordinary high school years. I don't want to say too much more because I will be posting about it for Mommy's Piggy TALES soon in much more detail!

To view the rest of my Mommy's Piggy TALES posts click here. To view my Blog Bash intro click here.

Wordless Wednesday: Can You Spot Jon & Natalie?

Natalie's Birth Story

It was almost a week past my due date. I was carrying a bowling ball around my waist that seemed like it would never stop expanding. My skin was stretched further then I ever imagined possible, then tested time and time again as my growing daughter did somersaults inside me to try and break through my belly- or so it felt AND looked by my distorted midsection.
The anticipation was building as butterflies joined the baby in my tummy. I was going to meet my daughter, who had shared my body with me for the last 9 months sometime in the next few days. I was scheduled to be induced in two days, finally, officially in the home stretch. As I slept uneasily that night, anxious for the next day to pass quickly, yet also apprehensive of the new adventure I was about to enter in life, I awoke at around 3 am having minor contractions I assumed were braxton hicks, though they still felt different somehow. I had been stressing over the thought of going into labor and not being able to recognize it until it was too close- wouldn't that have been nice! I tried my best to go back to sleep though, after timing these new contractions and not finding a regular pattern. One would come within 8 minutes of another, then the next would be 20 minutes later. But they continued to plague me throughout the next day.



Around 4 pm, I started finding a more regular pattern in them. Every 8 minutes my stomach would get rock hard, and painful- though nothing compared to what was coming. Despite knowing my own mother had been in labor for over 20 hours with all 4 of her children- me being the first and longest at 36 hours I believe- I was anxious to get to the hospital. To get to the Navy hospital where I was supposed to give birth you had to go through a tunnel in the downtown area of a major city. It was not unusual for this tunnel to be seriously backed up for hours beginning at around this time of evening, as everyone rushed home after work. I had images of giving birth in the car in the dark tunnel, surrounded by commuters, on a continuous loop running through my mind. I was terrified if things did happen quickly I would not make it all the way there, so I insisted that we immediately rush to the hospital for them to verify it as official labor and maybe admit me if they weren't too busy. Of course it was actual labor, finally, and as I feared, they were very busy, so at only 2cm- which I had been at for a month- I was sent home where I could be more comfortable. Though comfortable was the farthest thing from what I felt by then.
By bedtime the contractions had still not gotten any closer together, though the intensity in which they were coming seemed to be at its peak. I longed for the drugs I had earlier decided to attempt to go without, though my heart was never fully in it. I knew I would cave at the slightest suggestion of pain- and so I did! We headed back to the hospital, our 2nd trip. Jon kept trying to offer me his hand to squeeze as he drove and I sat doubled over- sort of, anyway, hard to be doubled over around a belly that big. I just snapped at him in between focusing on my breathing that if I wanted his hand I would've asked for it. I think that was the only time I actually got mad at him through the whole thing. Again though, we arrived at the hospital and Jon wheeled me up to the maternity ward. I hated more then anything sitting in the waiting room in excruciating pain with a room full of witnesses. I tried hard to hide what I was feeling, but it was difficult. We finally were put in a triage room to be checked on, only to find my cervix still having made no progress. Our 2nd trip was another bust. We were sent home with ambien to help me sleep, though in the process of getting it I found myself again waiting with an audience in the pharmacy, which for about 10 minutes went into a fire lock down. I was completely in panic mode as the ends of the pharmacy area sealed up, all the windows closed and we were stuck waiting for the situation to end. It only took 10 minutes, though that seemed like an eternity to me as my contractions inched towards 6 minutes in frequency, lasting for a good 30 seconds each time. Finally we were on our way back home with something to help me sleep.
Of course after taking the ambien and Tylenol with codeine (yes, doctor prescribed), I quickly realized that the doctor who had prescribed these must not have heard I was in labor. I felt only mildly sleepy and in no less pain then before. I think it would've taken a horse tranquilizer to get me to fall asleep with those contractions! We didn't even stay home a full hour before heading back for a 3rd trip, to the hospital I was beginning to resent. After another stint in the waiting room, my cervix was checked for the third time that night at around 11 pm. I had made it to 3 cm, and my contractions were coming fast and hard at 3 minutes apart. I thought for sure I will be admitted now! And again I was reminded how very busy they were and told to go home! I was livid, I was in the most pain I ever thought possible, contractions coming on top of each other and because I was only 3 cm I was going home?! How was I supposed to tell when I was dilating more from home? My contractions couldn't get very much closer together then they already were, how was I going to know when to come in?
For another few hours at home, my husband, feeling exhausted and helpless, ran around doing anything I barked at him as I attempted to find a comfortable spot on the couch- as if that were even possible! Around 2 am I had had enough and we went back in feeling very heavy hearted that again we would be turned away. At the hospital though, the same nurse who had checked me twice that night already, took pity on me. Since I was scheduled to be induced in another 6 hrs anyway, she finally admitted me. By 3 am I was in my hospital bed in labor and delivery with IVs in my hands, and some drugs running through them. I was told they would keep the edge off, and I hoped it to be true since I feared the thought of an epidural. I hate needles. From what I had been told an epidural requires a large needle very strategically placed into a precise point in your back as you hold still. I was in fear of not only the needle, but not being able to hold still for it and having something go wrong. Unfortunately the drugs that were to 'take the edge off' helped very little and I decided to get the epidural. I was more scared of the pain getting worse then anything else right then. And honestly as I prepared for it, I never saw the needle, and barely felt it all go in. It wasn't hard to sit still, rolled over my belly like that, in fact it was somewhat comfortable, and Jon stood in front of me to hold me steady just in case. Once in, I felt awesome! And I finally managed to get that few hours of sleep, nodding off to one of the movies we had packed- What Lies Beneath.



By the time I woke up it was nearing 8 am. Though I could see all the contractions on the monitor, I felt nothing. In fact I felt too much nothing! When the doctor had given me the epidural he had showed me how to push the button if I needed more, though I hadn't had to use it, he also said it should keep me numb from my waist down. But I was numb all the way up to my chest!! I could feel the weight of my arms as the, apparently too high, dose spread! I paged the nurse who came in and misunderstanding me, pushed the button to give me more before the doctor happened to be walking in to check on it. I told him how numb I was and he adjusted the level as I regained some feeling back in my chest. The nurse helped flip flop my legs and left behind him, without having checked anything 'down there'. I don't remember clearly when they popped my water sack, though I know they did, I think it was sometime after the epidural was in place, but that was around the last time they had checked my cervix as well.
An hour later I was feeling impatient. It had been hours since the last time someone had checked my cervix to see how things were moving. I didn't want to spend any longer laying there bored and waiting. I called the nurse in, it was almost 9 am. She checked on the monitors and all the routine stuff and was about to walk out when I asked if she would check my cervix. "I suppose we could do that," she answered so casually, like it wasn't a huge deal!! Sure enough she reached down to find I was a full 10 cm and the baby's head was right there, crowning and ready for me to push!! The nurse called the midwife in and while we waited she had me begin pushing. Jon was on one side holding my leg and the nurse was on the other. My first push, I actually kicked her pretty hard accidentally in my efforts to push as hard as possible- though subconsciously maybe it was my little revenge at her casual attitude about everything!



Not even a full hour later, among many more pushes my daughter's head was almost all the way through with a head full of hair. I remember being asked at that point if I wanted them to put up a mirror so I could watch and I nearly shouted "NO!!" at the same moment the midwife asked if I wanted to feel the baby's head. I didn't answer, I am sure the look on my face gave away that it would be the same response as before. But my husband, who was now weeping with joy, let out an "I do" in the happiest but saddest voice I ever thought I would hear from him. I, however, at the moment, wanted to finish getting the baby out, not sit around staring in mirrors or touching the baby's head! I wanted to stop pushing and be able to rest!! I even shot Jon a dirty look as he reached down to touch the baby, thinking, seriously, can we move on now??
Minutes later my little Natalie was born at 9:56 am. She was a whopping 9 lbs .3 ozs and 21 1/4 inches long. Though I loved her dearly I was exhausted and after holding her for mere seconds I passed her to her daddy. I had always been told its okay if you don't have one of those instant falling head over heels in love with your baby right away experiences, but I had expected it. I was a sensitive, caring person, very emotional, and I was shocked I felt no real bond from that very first meeting as I had hoped. I loved her, but it seems she was destined to be a daddy's girl right from the beginning.



Before Natalie was even out, the epidural had been shut off and was fading too fast. I had a 2nd degree tear and I could feel them stitching me up. When I cried out in pain, no longer able to contain it, they offered me the option of local anaesthetic to help ease the pain- just great another needle being stuck in the very spot my body had endured the worst already! Unfortunately it had little effect and I suffered through the rest of the stitches as Jon feel deeper in love with his first little girl.

Don't forget to check out Zachary's Birth Story later this week as well as How We Came to Formula Feed Our Babies, and My 10 Tips for New Moms.

*Note to pregnant mommies planning on an epidural- DON'T let them shut if off until they are all done fixing you up! After my 2nd I was up front and adamant about that from the start and I didn't feel any of the stitches that time despite an overall weaker epidural!!*

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mommyhood Memos: Bathroom

Okay so I had too much fun with the first one and couldn't wait when I thought of this one that regularly plagues me...

The Mommyhood Memos
You know life has changed when...

...your bathroom quickly becomes the family room as the curious baby, followed by the older sister, followed by the dear hubby, seem to spontaneously require your services as soon as you sit down on the toilet!

A mom can't even use the bathroom in peace! Apparently I forgot to add that clause to my mommy contract!
I will try to save any new ones I come up with for next week!

Check out more of Adriel's Mommyhood Memos and add your own!

Mommyhood Memos: Sandwiches

Here's something new and different and FUN!

The Mommyhood Memos
You know life has changed when...

...as you make a sandwich for yourself, you it cut it up into quarters at least because you are so used to cutting them for smaller hands.

Now go to Adriel's page and write your own Mommyhood Memo!

Teach Me Tuesday: My 10 Tips To New Mommys

Having a baby can be a wonderful and exciting new experince. It can also be very scary if you aren't sure what you are doing! The good news is, the panic doesn't last too long, and usually only happens with the first one!
This is a list of some tips I found very valueable as a young new mom, and even some I didn't learn until after I had my second child.

1. I think getting on some type of routine is important. NOT a rigid schedule, but a flexible routine such as from 'The Baby Whisperer' by Tracy Hogg. In this book she teaches the 'E.A.S.Y.' method, Eat, Awake time, Sleep, and while baby is sleeping, time for Yourself. This method can be applied to any amount of time based on the age of your child. A younger infant may stick to a 2-3 hour time span from the 'E' to the 'Y', but an older baby should be able to go closer to the 4 hour mark. But like I said, its a general guideline, also take cues from your baby, though I would stress not to feed the baby in order to coax him to sleep. Thats a bad habit to get into. Getting into the habit of rocking them to sleep is a bad idea too, the best thing to do is put your baby down for naps when she is still awake, so she can learn to soothe herself to sleep with the aides of food or rocking.



2. My first baby was mildly colicky. I had to learn quickly that it IS okay to let her cry in a safe place like her crib when I can't handle trying to soothe her anymore. The important thing is not to get overly stressed, which seems impossible when you constantly are hearing your baby crying so hard, but it helped me a lot to be able to lay her down and walk away until I could recompose myself. It also helped with my hair loss- I wasn't pulling out as much once I realized this was okay to do!

3. I know some mom's stress over having a clean house, but especially early on, you just need to find peace with the mess. Having a newborn at home is not the time to be worrying about the clutter piled throughout your home, its the time to cherish your new baby and rest when the baby is sleeping! The mess will always be there for you to get to at a later date, the time with your baby, and those few and far between moments for you to relax won't. And you will be a better mommy to your baby if you are well rested.

4. This is definitely a matter of opinion, but by 6 weeks if your baby isn't sleeping a good 6 hours at night, let her cry it out! Of course go in every few minutes to try to soothe her, but gradually increase the gap in which you let her cry before rushing to her bedside. It may take a week, but your baby needs to learn how to soothe herself to sleep in the middle of the night, and you need to get more solid sleep yourself. Again, crying will not hurt your baby.

5. Beware the over tired infant. If you don't like to hear your baby crying, don't let them get over tired!! Unlike us when we are exhausted we can barely keep our eyes open, babies who have been kept up too long may get 'exhausted' or over tired and are unable to soothe themselves to sleep properly. I don't have any secret to tell you here, this is really a matter of developing the routine that works for your family and knowing your child. Picking up on little clues that tell you its time for them to sleep- maybe eye rubbing, yawning, that 1000 mile stare or something different.

6. When it comes to sleep, swaddling is a very valueable tool. Learn to do it well with your first and it just might earn you some extra sleep over the years (as you have more babies). It is very soothing to your new baby to be restricted like that because it reminds them of being in the womb, when they had minimal space. It also keeps them from jerking themselves awake as they lull off into dreamland.



7. As a formula feeding mom who wishes she was a breastfeeding mom, the best thing I can say is not to stress over it. Breastfeeding just isn't for everyone, and while for most who expected to breastfeed but found it quite difficult will have an emotional decision to make if they choose to stop, it isn't the end of the world. The important thing is that your baby gets fed, whatever the method you use, you are still a good parent caring for your new baby. I will say though, if you want it bad enough there are many resources and help for breastfeeding moms. I had friends who got a lot of help from La Leche League, they even came into their homes to observe, help and coach as a new mom tried to master getting the baby to latch on. Also if you can afford it, you can use a breast pump, but I was once told to not bother with it unless you can afford the good one, the expensive electric one, I can't testify to that personally, its just what I was told in a breastfeeding class I had taken before I had my first. Thats another thing, while you are pregnant, take the classes, go to La Leche League meetings, get as much information as you can glean to help you towards successfully breastfeeding. I don't regret my decision, but looking back, if I had wanted it more, it was probably possible, but being sleep deprived, and unsuspecting, I thought breastfeeding would come more naturally to me and my babies, but it just didn't, and it won't for everyone.

8. Cover your furniture!!! Until you know if your baby is prone to spit up, and assuming you like your current furniture in the state its in, I would suggest putting a blanket over the area you plan to sit and feed. My first baby absolutely destroyed out microfiber couch, which luckily was a piece of used furniture we didn't plan on keeping long anyway (though maybe a little longer had she not ruined the upholestry). By our second baby we learned our lesson and covered the couch in those very early days so our nice new couch would no recieve the abuse of the previous one.

9. Keep the camera handy! You just can't take too many pictures of your children! (And for those going it the second time- its more difficult but I stress taking just as many for your second and third children as you did for your first, you don't want anyone feeling left out or second best.) And you never know when that photo opportunity may strike, especially with the little ones, so always keep one within reach! You can sort through and decide what to keep later, but when the chance comes just snap away!! These moments won't come again once they have passed. Also important- don't only save them to your computer, back them up. If anything happened and you lost them, you will be very hurt. I had this happen and from 3 months to 10 months, I have very few pictures of my son, only those I had already sent away to my family could I get back. I now wish I had at least sent more! And I am much better about backing them up quickly now as well! Lesson learned- the hard way.

10. You can never hug and kiss your new baby too much!! To this day, I love loving on my children, and in at least one it has passed over. I love it when my now 4 year old daughter will randomly run up to me with a kiss and a hug. And heaven forbid we should forget to give her loves before bed, or anytime we even step outside the front door for a moment! My son hasn't quite learned how to love back, but he knows and accepts he will be getting many smooches from us each day. He often laughs as shower him with kisses!

I know I had said I was going to do baby names this week, but I thought this would fit in better as I share about the early days for me as a mother. Also see Natalie's Birth Story on Wednesday and Zachary's Birth Story on Friday, as well as How We Came to Formula Feed Our Babies.

This post is linked with Top Ten {Tuesday} and this is also my own Teach Me Tuesday post.

What have you learned this week?