Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dear Samuel

Dear Samuel,
Dad and I are going out to celebrate the arrival of a New Year and now that you're 15 months old we've decided to leave you in charge of your sister.

We'll leave the monitor on so if you hear Lauren cry, just crawl up the stairs and check on her. You are really really good at climbing the stairs these days so that shouldn't be a problem.

If Lauren gets hungry just give her part of your bottle and she should be fine. We've been  trying to teach you how to share so this is a good opportunity to show mom and dad what you've learned.

If your sister's nuk falls out, please put it back in her mouth. Gently. Very gently. You are really good at shoving her nuk into her mouth so I am not worried about this.

If you get bored just turn on the television (yes, it's those buttons we always say "don't touch") and watch a Praise Baby or Signing DVD. Since it's a special occasion you can even watch Elmo if you want. Please shut off the TV when you are done.

If you get hungry, just open up the pantry door like you've done many times, and pull out a bag of chips. Those are the ones on the bottom shelf that you always like to grab. The clip is a bit tricky, but I have no doubt you'll get it off. If you decide to open the Kettle Corn, please chew carefully. Popcorn is a choking hazard.

Jersey may also need a snack. If you hear her meowing, just show her how to eat the cat food by the back door. You've done that a couple times.

You love the telephone, so if there are any problems, just pick up a phone (you know where we hide them) and call me ASAP.

We love you. Be good and be nice to your sister.

Mom & dad

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Playing in the snow...

I have lots to blog about but no time to blog.

For now, here are a few pics of Samuel playing in the snow....indoors at grandma's house!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Our dancing man

Samuel loves music and loves to dance. Here he is dancing in his Christmas PJs!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

We didn't get Lauren's birth announcements sent out earlier, so we are sending them with our Christmas card this year.

Yesterday as we were driving to my parent's home, Ryan said, "Last year at Christmas we had a 3-month-old." Then he looked at me and said, "This year we have a 3-month-old. AND a 1-year-old."

It's still hard to believe.

God is faithful and today we praise Him for our Christmas blessings.

You can click on the images to see them full size.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

No use crying over spilled milk

It would be lovely if I could post a wonderfully sweet and peaceful message about the joy of Christmas. How it's so beautiful this time of year. The cookies baking, the music playing and the children laughing.

Instead of a Beaver Clever Christmas, at my house mom is crying, kids are screaming and the house is all a mess.

This morning I used my brand new Sharp Steam Mop (an early Christmas present) to clean my oh-so-nasty kitchen floor. While Samuel slept later than usual, I swept up the crumbs and steamed my floor until it was beautifully shining clean. I was so proud of myself. A clean floor before 10 a.m. It's going to be a great day!

Just five hours later I'm on my hands and knees in the kitchen wiping up my dirty floor. I dropped a container of applesauce and it splattered all over my clean floor and onto the front of my fridge. I stood in disbelief looking at my floor covered in applesauce. I had no one to blame but myself.

Then just three minutes later, I'm pouring breast milk into a bag to freeze (and let me just say that this milk is in low supply and high demand these days so every ounce is precious) and I dump over the bag. Onto the floor pours five ounces of milk.

I got down on my hands and knees once again, this time with tears streaming down my face. My clean floor was now sticky and my attitude was sour.

Who knew a little applesauce and spilled milk could cause mom to have a pre-Christmas meltdown?

As the old saying goes, "No use crying over spilled milk..."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Some of you would give anything...

Today I'm thinking about my life and thinking about how some of you would give anything....

if you had to decide whether to eat lunch, take a shower, clean up your house or blog during nap time

to have bathroom toys covering your bathroom floor from last night's bath

to have so much food on your kitchen floor you could probably sweep it up and make a meal out of it

to be bugging your husband to go Christmas shopping so your kids have something to open on Christmas morning

to keep seeing your pile of Christmas cards that STILL haven't been mailed and most likely won't be mailed until after Christmas

to have breakfast and lunch dishes piled on the counter

to have toys and books all over your living room floor

to be tired just thinking about packing up the kids and going to two different grandparents' homes two days in a row to celebrate Christmas (even though we love you gpas & gmas!)

to have cookie dough from December 6 still in your fridge that you never got around to baking

to stay home from a Christmas party or gathering because you have two little kids rather than because you want to avoid the inappropriate questions, knowing looks and naive comments you're sure to face when you do go

I've been there. I know.

And I just want say, that this Christmas, I know some of you would give anything to have the craziness and chaos that is my life.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dressed in black...

Samuel and his cousin Jonathan. So so cute. My little man is growing up - handsome isn't he?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dressed in red...

Lauren and her cousin Evelyn are just 6 weeks apart. This is, I'm sure, the first of many photographs of the two of them dressed in matching outfits. Merry Christmas sweet baby girls...

Friday, December 18, 2009

The year I skipped Christmas

Last May I posted something I wrote titled "The Year I Skipped Mother's Day."

As I was driving today, I thought that this might be "The Year I Skipped Christmas."

We are one week out from Christmas.

I do not have a single Christmas decoration up in my home.

I have only bought three Christmas gifts for some of the little people in my life. Three. I have quite a few to go.

My Christmas cards are sitting on my dining room table waiting to be mailed. They are next to my birth announcements that only made it into the hands of about 10 people.

I made two Christmas treats a few weeks ago but want to make more (I love tasty Christmas treats!).

When I think about Christmas the part that excites me the most is that Ryan will be home from work for 12 days and I will get to sleep, sleep, sleep.

It seems I am living in a bit of a fog this holiday has gone by in a blur and will be here before I know it.

But as I think about the first Christmas, I am reminded:
there were no decorations
they did not send out Christmas cards (or baby announcements!)
there were no sweet treats to enjoy
the gifts presented were not ones purchased at a store

So this year, I might be skipping (or at least delaying) most of the 'usual' Christmas traditions. But instead I will do as another young mother did so many years ago...

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19

I commit today to stop feeling guilty for what I have not accomplished or am choosing not to do this year. Instead I will look at my two Christmas miracles, treasure their precious lives and daily ponder all that the Lord has blessed me with this year.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Aunt Sher

My sister Sherry is just 15 months older than I am. She is one of my dearest friends. She has mourned with me and rejoiced with me throughout my journey to parenthood.

During the past 14 months she has  earned the title of best aunt ever!
She stops by our house  frequently, babysits for me and loves these kids like crazy. She is a wonderful aunt and we are so blessed by her.

Here are a couple pictures of her with her four nieces and nephews (2 and under!) and with my kids tonight. We love you Sher!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Words on waiting

I have a friend whose husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2008. He had surgery and it was completely removed, but a couple times each year he has to have a CT scan to make sure he is still cancer-free.

During this time of waiting anxiety is high for my friend. Her mind is consumed with wondering if the cancer has returned?

To hear that a loved one has cancer is something that we all dread.Thankfully he is healthy and doing great today.

But the reality is that every time he has a follow-up test, worries and fears abound until they meet with the doctor and hear that everything looks good.

So today they are waiting. Waiting for the test results to come back. Waiting to go to the appt tomorrow. Waiting to go on with life.

I am continually amazed at how we are all called to wait in life - even though our waiting looks so very different.

Waiting causes anxiety, depression, discouragement, fear, and discontentment.

But I also believe that waiting....

drives us to a deeper devotion with the Lord

drives us to greater dependence on the Lord

drives us to a stronger faith in the Lord.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Here are my answers to the questions about scrapbooking, cameras and photos:

1) What kind of camera do you have?

I have a Canon 30D. While I love it, a camera is only as good as the person behind the lens. I really need to learn how to use it better. It's rather large, so in hindsight I wish I would have gotten the Canon Rebel. The Rebel is a great SLR but isn't as bulky (who knew when I purchased the 30D that I'd be carrying around 2 kids and a diaper bag?). I've bought 2 cameras off Craig's List. Both were fantastic purchases that I have been very happy with.

2) What kind of digital photography software do you use?

I use Creative Memories Memory Manager and StoryBook Creator Plus. I love love love both programs and can't say enough good things about them. If you are filling out your Christmas Wish List, I suggest either of those programs. You can organize, edit and view photos using Memory Manager and you can do all kinds of fun creative things with StoryBook (create digital albums, create digital layouts, make invitations, cards, etc).

3) How many Creative Memories albums have you made? How long have you been making the albums?

I'm not sure how many albums I have made. More than 10, less than 20. I was introduced to Creative Memories by my mother-in-law in the early 90s when I started dating Ryan. My first album is about our dating years. I must admit I have a bad habit of starting albums, but not fully completing them. Looking back, I am so glad that I took pictures in my single years, dating years and early married years. Those photos are priceless to me. Today I scrapbook both traditionally and digitally. I love telling my story both ways.

Side note: I actually worked at Creative Memories for 4 years as a was my dream job and I loved it. I quit to start writing as a freelancer from home.

4) Is scrapbooking one of your hobbies?

I don't know that I would say that scrapbooking is one of my hobbies. It is more of a passion. I don't care whether the books are called scrapbooks, memory books, photo albums, picture books, storybooks, whatever. I think it's invaluable to take photos, print them and make them available to enjoy and celebrate. Albums are simply ways that we tell our stories...with pictures and words. In a way this blog is like a digital album for me.

5) Did you ever make a faith album or an album about your journey to motherhood?

I have not made an album about my journey to motherhood but I think that is a wonderful idea that I will consider doing in the future. I made an album the year I turned 30 and I called it my Blessing Book. I felt so thankful to God for the many blessings in my life that I wanted to chronicle all of them. I created a 2-page layout for each role in my life starting with "The Blessing of being a Woman." I also included Wife, Daughter, Sister, Granddaughter, Friend, Woman of Faith, Writer, American. This is what I would consider my faith album. It is definitely among my favorite albums!

I am also working on an album that I affectionately call "The 7 year itch." I took pictures every day for one month in March 2008 - the month of our 7 year anniversary. I love this album! It shows where we lived, who we hung out with, where we worked, and how we spent our free time. It will be so fun to show this to Samuel and Lauren some day. And I am very thankful I created it when I did, because 7 months later our lives were drastically changed forever!

Happy Santa Lucia Day!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Consumed by anger

I am very grateful for Ryan's post about prayer and my response to Samuel's illness. It does my heart good to read those words from my husband.

But here's what Ryan left out of his post: Tuesday night I was angry. So very very angry. I petitioned the Lord for sleep. I begged and pleaded and asked and prayed for Samuel to sleep well and for us to get some much-needed rest.

And I felt the Lord didn't answer that prayer. And I got ticked off. Really ticked off. In the middle of the night, I felt consumed by anger. I wasn't angry at Samuel, I was angry at the Lord. He could easily soothe Samuel's little body so that he wouldn't wake up or be sick.

I felt this was such a small prayer request in the grand scheme of things, yet a much needed prayer for our family. And yet the prayer went unanswered that night.

So I lay in bed mad. Consumed by my anger.

Can anyone out there relate to me?

You pray and plead and beg and petition and you feel as though it falls on deaf ears.

And you know what? I felt justified by my anger. I was content to sit in bed and be angry at the Lord. And in the morning when we got up, I was still angry.

In fact, all day Wednesday I was composing a post in my head about my anger. And to be honest, I am still working through my anger with the Lord.

I'm just asking for health. And sleep. And I think, "Is that too much Lord? Can't you answer this one little prayer?"

And then I think of children out there with major illnesses. Life-threatening diseases. Diagnoses that change a family forever. And I'm humbled and humiliated at my immaturity and my stubbornness to hang onto my anger.

I've got a long way to go as a parent. And a long way to go as a woman of faith.

Forgive me Lord. I'm definitely a work in progress.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Time to brag about my wife

If you read this blog regularly you know that my wife has an amazing ability with words. It is something that makes me jealous most of the time. She is always articulate and intentional...except when she is sleep deprived.

For the last three nights at least we have been up multiple times with Samuel puking, pooping and crying. It has been exhausting at night and each morning I have had to leave to go to work.

Two nights ago Stacy prayed with everything in her that we would get a good nights sleep. That night Samuel awoke for the first time at midnight. All I remember, besides the smell of vomit, is Stacy yelling "Are you friggin' kidding me?" You see she believed so much that her prayer would get Samuel through the night, that when he woke up, she was hopeless.

Last night I prayed. I was exhausted, but I knew that God could help. Samuel woke up this time at 11:15 p.m. Forty-five minutes earlier than the night before. We laid him back down but he was up again at 1 a.m. This time instead of panicking Stacy went straight to her laptop to let you all know that we needed your prayers.

In the heat of the moment, when it mattered the most, my wife did not crumble. Instead she prayed. I am so thankful for Stacy. She has a thankless job sometimes, but she sticks it out with an endurance I don't understand.

We both realize that we prayed for our children for a long time, but in the heat of the moment we need to rely on each other to not forget this important point. Thanks for loving me and our kids so much Stacy.

Please pray

It's 1:31 a.m. CST and I'm writing a desperate plea for prayer.

I just changed Samuel's sheets for the fourth night in a row. It seems his cold, which started pre-thanksgiving, has left him with a large amount of mucus in his little body. This mucus is causing him to cough at night which is leading to gagging and throwing up. Again and again and again.

We went to the doctor yesterday and he gave us a prescription for amoxicillin to clear up the mucus. This has now caused Samuel to have diarrhea. He started crying about 30 minutes ago....just two hours after I rocked him as he cried at 11:30...because he had thrown up again as well as wet through his PJs due to diarrhea.

Puke. Crap. Tears. Mucus. Coughing. Gagging. Crying.

Ryan is rocking him in his room as I type this and I hear Samuel coughing and crying. Samuel's little body is worn out and we are physically exhausted from caring for him.

So I ask you to join with me in praying for God's healing hand to restore Samuel to health TODAY.

**Update: It's now 3:24 a.m. and we have been up with Samuel for the last 2 hours. Your prayers are greatly needed and appreciated.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My faith story

In the coming weeks I'll do my best to answer the questions from Mondays post.

To get started, I'll share my faith story. Below is my testimony, written and given four years ago when I was baptized.

A beach, a byline, and a blank sheet of paper

One evening in June of 1999 I found myself walking along the beach in South Padre Island, Texas. I was 23 years old. I was tired, hurting and unfulfilled. I was still trying to figure out how I ended up in South Padre on a Missions Trip with a group of high school students.

I had accepted Christ in 3rd grade at a Bible Camp. I grew up in a Christian home and attended youth group faithfully. But once I graduated from high school I no longer pursued my relationship with the Lord. During my college years I enjoyed living in the world and earthly pleasures. It was fun – for a while. But in February of 1999 my boyfriend of five years broke up with me and my world came crashing down.

A girlfriend and I began attending a new church and we joined a College-n-Career group in the spring. I met some incredible friends, but I was lonely and desperate for direction in life.

In late spring I received a phone call asking if I would consider being a leader on a Missions Trip with a team from my church. In June I graduated from the University of Minnesota and just a few weeks later I found myself traveling on a bus with kids who were so passionate about serving God that they ministered to me. I quickly realized that the only reason I was on that trip was because God knew that I needed to get right with him.

So there I was on a beach in Texas. In my hand I carried a blank piece of paper. A speaker on the trip challenged us to sign our name to the bottom of a blank sheet of paper when we were ready to sign over our life to God. I struggled with God. I wrestled over the what ifs, how comes, and an unknown future.

I didn’t think it strange at the time, but now that I am a writer I think it’s ironic that God challenged me with a blank sheet of paper! Could I really sign my byline to a blank sheet of paper? Could I give God control and let him write my life story?

Yes I could. I had made enough mistakes trying to write my own story. That night was a significant turning point in my life.

Luke 15 tells the Parable of the Lost Sheep. Jesus said: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.”

The parable of the Lost Sheep describes my faith journey. I had left God. But He came after me – his lost sheep – put me on a bus, met me on a beach and then joyfully placed me on His shoulders and brought me home.

I am blessed to say that Acts 22:16 is now part of my life story. “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” Today I have the privilege of being baptized by Mike Binder and my husband, Ryan.

It’s difficult at times to let God write my story. I’m an independent, self-reliant and prideful sheep. But I am so very thankful for a shepherd who continually guides me back to Him.

This song was one that encouraged me to 'step out on the water' and be baptized. It has been very influential in my life...

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

In re-reading my testimony and listening to this song, I think a few things are interesting: One....I had no idea when I wrote my name on that sheet of paper, how God was going to write my life story. I am so thankful that I signed my life - and my unknown future - over to Him. Two...the decision to follow Jesus as Lord of my life is not made in the midst of the trial. It's made today. It's made now. Either we follow the Lord come hell or high water, or we choose to walk our own path. Three...the lyrics of this song include the words, "If you draw us to the fire, you will not withdraw your hand" and "If you say wait, we will wait." Incredible, that even then, God was shaping my heart for what lay ahead.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ask me

I recently realized that I never acknowledged or celebrated my one year anniversary of blogging this past fall. October 7, 2008, was my first blog post.

So in honor of that, one year and two months later, I thought it would be interesting to see if any of my readers have questions for me. I'm not guaranteeing I will answer them all, but I'll do my best.

So here's your chance. If you're wondering anything about me family, my marriage, my parenting philosophies, my faith, my season of waiting, lessons I've learned on my journey, adoption, my views on whatever, writing, blogging....go for it.

Just ask me.

It'll be fun...?!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Just because you're mine

My sweet baby girl,

This weekend in the peaceful quiet of the night, I held you, fed you, rocked you and looked adoringly at you. I said over and over, "I love you so much baby girl. I love you so so so much. Just because you're mine, I love you."

Sometimes I look at you and can't believe you're really mine. My baby GIRL. It is so precious to have a girl!

I love the moment before I lay you back down to sleep, when I sway with you ever-so-gently and you go back to sleep, all swaddled and warm, and I get to kiss your soft cheek and stare at your face in the soft light. I am often overcome with emotion that I have the privilege of loving you, my sweet baby girl.

On Friday, in the quiet of the night, the Lord spoke clearly to my heart. After I whispered those sweet words into your ear, the Lord whispered into my ear: "I love you too Stacy. Just because you're mine."

Just as I love you simply because you're mine, the Lord loves me simply because I'm His. And He loves you too sweet baby girl. He loves you too.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The good, the bad and the ugly

I'm struggling with what to write on my post today. I am committed to being honest, open and authentic on this blog. And when I have hard days, I will not sugar coat it and pretend motherhood is a breeze.

But I also want to be sensitive, because I know that a lot of you reading this would give anything to have a hard day as a mom and I understand that. I know you would give anything to have two little children in your daily care.

Yet, I'm reminding myself that I'm not only writing to those of you who are walking a journey similar to what I did. I am writing to my friends who are currently in the same stage of life I'm in: mothering two little ones at home.

So here's to you guys: Molly, Heidi, Liz, Megan H, Megan S. We're in this together. We love it, but it's not easy...

Motherhood is hard. Really hard. For years I longed to be a mom, and it is an unbelievable privilege. But that doesn't mean it's easy. Ryan had a work event to attend last night so it was just me and the kids from sun up to sun down yesterday.

And it was tough.

Another night of little sleep and feeling under the weather started the day off a little rough. Having two kids wake up crying at the same time leaves you feeling inadequate to meet both their needs.

Repeating "be gentle to your sister, be nice to the cat, don't touch that, please leave those buttons alone" over and over makes you wonder how long it takes until "please listen and obey" is implemented.

Changing diapers, giving baths, dressing the kids. That is all part of motherhood. But when does motherhood stop and making meals, cleaning up the house, and washing clothes begin?

Yesterday I did not brush my teeth until I went to bed at 8 p.m. I have not showered since Monday night when I got into the tub with Samuel as I was giving him a bath. Really? My only shower this week was with my child? I wore a t-shirt and sweatpants all day. I saw no other adult besides my husband. I watched no television and did not listen to the radio.

My phone conversations were my only connection with the 'adult' world.

The dishwasher did not get emptied all day. The laundry did not get put in the dryer from the night before until late afternoon.

My lunch consisted of a banana and wheat thins at 2 p.m.

I let my child watch two DVDs as I fed his sister and felt guilty the entire time for letting him watch 'movies.' At least they were a Praise Baby DVD and a Signing DVD.

I read Goodnight Moon 15 times and wiped a runny nose 10 times.

I was impatient. I was selfish at times. I was crabby. I whined to my husband and begged God for a few minutes of rest. I talked with friends about sleep schedules, feedings, and the challenges of mothering two.

This may not be pretty but this is motherhood. Not as I wish it were some days. Not as I hope it might be. This is my life - the good, the bad and the ugly. I want to record it so I can remember it as I look back on these days...knowing I made it through. I survived two kids under 14 months.

P.S. Now I'm going to go take a shower.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sweet Sleep

The other day as I was getting out of bed, I realized I do the exact same thing every morning: think about sleep (or lack thereof).

The first thing I do is plan how soon I can lay down for a nap. I wonder to myself: will Samuel go down for a morning nap? How long will he sleep? Will he and Lauren be sleeping at the same time so I can catch a few minutes of shut eye?

I feel like sleep has become an obsession these days.

I think about sleep.

I pray about sleep.

I want nothing more than to sleep.

I did some reading on sleep, and found this: "Sleep is essential to normal biological function. The immune system doesn’t work well if we don’t sleep. Sleep researcher Eve van Cauter at the University of Chicago exposed sleep-deprived students (allowed only four hours per night for six nights) to flu vaccine; their immune systems produced only half the normal number of antibodies in response to the viral challenge."

Since I am now fighting a cold, I absolutely believe in the validity of that statement! I know my immune system is struggling with my lack of sleep.

I also read that a parent loses about 350 hours of sleep at night over her baby's first year. Most people talk about the lack of sleep during those first few days and weeks. I say it's really the first 3-6 months that sleep deprivation is at its peek.

When people ask how I'm doing all I want to answer is, "Tired. Exhausted. Sleep deprived." But that answer gets old after three months, so instead I just say, "fine."

I often wonder how mothers of 4, 6, 8 children survive? Do they need less sleep than the average person, or do their bodies eventually adjust? Or do they just live in a constant state of fogginess for a few years?

I knew the lack of sleep would be one of the most difficult aspects of having a newborn and I asked for prayer about that prior to Lauren's arrival. I'm not sure I understood the obsession I would have about sleep or to the degree that it would impact my days.

In fact, in my sleep-deprived state I tried to unlock my front door yesterday by pushing the button to unlock my car. I hit it a number of times before I realized that button was not going to unlock my front door! And that was followed by looking for my cell phone as it was ringing only to discover it was in my back pocket.

I know it will get better. I know I will survive. And, yes, every sleep deprived minute is worth it when I see my baby girl smile at me.

So for now, I claim the promise of Proverbs 3:24, "When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet."