Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Because Sunday I spent a few hours on my hands and knees doing garden prep after bending over a zillion times to pick up fallen branches from our insanely large yard.

Because Monday I went to K-Mart and started having back spasms that made me grip the cart for dear life, and once, when I tried to pick up Laney and put her back IN the cart to slightly better contain my 3 munchkins my back spasm sent me to my knees in the middle of the chip aisle where the four of us knelt in a circle and probably scared everyone into thinking we were part of some strange religious sect.

Because K-Mart refused to send someone to the layaway counter so I could get the sale price on the benches I want before they're all gone 3 days before payday so I finally gave up and left 'cause the sign said I could "do it all online!" but they lied - they don't HAVE those benches available online!

Because I stood in the kitchen today at lunch time in tears as I realized that my hubby had taken the chips in his lunch box and I couldn't have the yummy haystack I was planning to have for lunch and couldn't think of a single thing that I wanted to eat instead.

Because I realized 4 hours later that I should have tried a little harder to find something to eat for lunch when every little thing sent me into tears.

Because today I needed a little laughter and a little pick-me-up!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Trouble With Chattanooga

I've always thought Chattanooga was a perfectly lovely place to visit.


It wasn't until one evening after a particularly long day that I realized just how much there is wrong with Chattanooga.

Now, I realize that there are several of my friends who think Chatty-town is a great place to live, breathe, attend school, yadda yadda yadda.

All I can think is this: I hope it's a LOoooOOng time before I see the hills around that town again.

The day before the Chattanooga incident, the kids and I had left our farm in northern Michigan and driven to Raini's house in Indiana, a 7 hour drive. The next day we threw Raini and Levi's things into our car... well, as fast as you can "throw" a carseat in the car when somebody's father is slightly OCD about how perfectly his son's seat is set in place....20 minutes and some very loud sighing on my part later, we were on our way.

That was around noon.

We'd gone prepared. Or so we thought.

We had a nice lunch packed, sandwiches, fruit, crackers and juice for everyone. We had special treat bags for the kids when they might need a snack before we could find a decent place for dinner, and loads of activities stuffed into pockets and boxes conveniently located within arms reach.

But there are a few things, we found out, that even when taken into consideration, can't be planned out very well.

Potty breaks, for instance.

Let's see: a four-year-old girl, a pregnant woman, and 2 two-year-olds still in diapers that get stinky without warning. At least we had 2 passengers who had reasonable ideas about bathroom breaks.

We made... a few stops here and there... and everywhere.

We had lunch on the road.

We had snacks on the road.

We looked and looked for one of those McDonald's with a play area for the kids to stretch their legs at before the big overnight sleep in the car seat, but could NOT find one anywhere.

Or a taco bell for that matter.

'Cause it's not like we actually wanted to EAT at McDonald's, just play there.

We couldn't find either one of those two things, let alone both at one exit. So we drove. And we drove. And we drove some more. In between potty breaks, of course.

At long last we came down the hill into the outskirts of Chattanooga. It was getting desperate in the small confines of the car.

We were all hungry, tired of sitting, and well, one of us at least, was in need of yet another potty break.

"Look!! A TACO BELL!", I screamed above the whiny din as I swerved toward the obliging exit.

Down the off ramp we went, giddy with excitement as we thought of burritos and happy children instead of hungry children.

We pulled in behind one other car in the drive-through, determined to grab dinner and keep going until we eventually found a good place for the kids to play instead of subjecting the other diners inside the restaurant to antsy kids running up and down the aisle.

We put in our order a few minutes later and pulled around to pay.

But instead we sat there in the car and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

We sat there over 20 minutes waiting for our food. If it hadn't been for the knowledge that we hadn't seen a taco bell anywhere in the last 100 miles and who knew where the next one was, we'd have left long before that. Or took all the kids inside and let them play there anyway while we waited, but we didn't want them to spit in our food.

Instead they got our food wrong. We had to go back in and get the missing stuff.

Some of our food was flat out COLD. So gross. Have you ever had a caramel apple empanada that was lukewarm? Eww.

As we pulled slowly away from the window, feeling slightly frustrated and defeated, I spotted a gas station between the Taco Bell and the freeway.

"I'm going to run in there real quick and grab some cough drops for Joshua.", I said as I pulled into the parking area next to the convenience store. He'd found a cough somewhere on the first leg of the trip and was by then coughing pretty miserably.

In I ran.

I was antsy. We'd already wasted almost half an hour on a "quick" stop that the kids hadn't even been able to get out of the car on. We needed to make time! Soon they'd be falling asleep and we all knew how badly that would go if they didn't get in some quality play time OUTSIDE of their seats first.

I hurried around the store and grabbed exactly one thing off the shelf: a small package of halls.

I hurried up to the counter, to find three college age girls standing at the counter, laughing and carrying on with the cashier while they took turns buying scratch-its and scratching them off right there at the counter.

I glanced around, wondering if there were another cashier who might be a little more eager to take my money.

Come on. Anyone? I have CASH HERE!!!, I wanted to say.

I thought at first maybe she just didn't see me since I was so much shorter than the three girls at the counter.

Ahem, Ahem, AHEM! I coughed.

About then a young couple walked in, waltzed their way down to the soft drinks, made their selection and waltzed back up to the counter. Strange? Not unless you take into consideration they really were kind of dancing their way through the store, and to top that off, the girl was SINGING.

All out, unabashed, singing along with the song on the radio like it was the most normal thing to do.

You know, hang out at the gas station on a Monday night, sway around the store, your boyfriend swaying right along with you, and pretend it's karaoke night.

The cashier STILL wasn't in a hurry.

The shortness thing was definitely not an excuse any more. She couldn't HELP but have noticed the other... customers... in the store by then.

Apparently we are now in the south, I muttered to myself as the three college girls giggled over their scratch-its and the couple continued to sway back and forth with their arms around each other.

NO one is in a hurry down here.

No one except US!! We were in an all out hurry to get OUT of there!

Somewhere just over the border we found the elusive playplace and the kids had a blast for about an hour before we deemed it necessary to press on.

Back in the seats they went, and on we drove, through the night, and into Florida.

This is NOT what we looked like when we arrived there:

But unfortunately my phone won't spit out the very comical pictures of us sitting at the Denny's in Lakeland at 6 am the next morning... so this is what you get!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Surprise! It's A .......

...Healthy Baby!! (so far...)

Tuesday was a VERY long day for me. I cleaned, scrubbed, washed, dusted, rearranged furniture, etc. etc. etc. just to keep myself busy and not think about how long it was until Wednesday.

I even rented a movie and we stayed up until 11:00 watching it! This is so not typical for me. Even when I'm not pregnant I'm not a night owl. At. ALL.

And then after we crawled in bed I still couldn't sleep so I talked Colby's ear off until all I could hear coming from over on his side of the bed was snoring.

Eventually I fell asleep.

And was wide awake way too early.

Wednesday's early morning blur of activity came and went and soon I found myself wandering back and forth through the kitchen looking for things to do until it was time to go. The babysitter came, I jumped in the car and headed for town, and then the real waiting game began.

First it was the wait at the doctor's office.

"Be here at least 10 minutes early!" they said on the phone the day before.

I was there 15 minutes before my appointment. I signed my ONE piece of paper, and sat down to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

20 min. AFTER my appt. time, I was called back to the dimly lit room with the really narrow bed and she got started with my ultrasound.

"Do you want to know what you're having?", she asked just before she put the wand on my belly.

"Yes." I said firmly. Well, so much for all my talk of wanting to be surprised.

She began with a shot of the spine, did her multitude of measurements on it, then moved on to the bladder, kidneys, and stomach, pausing to measure each sufficiently.

Then I saw some leg bones and she measured them all.

Moving on to the heart, she started in on all of those measurements and views and videos for the doctor to review.

Good grief, I started thinking, doesn't my baby have a HEAD?! I still hadn't seen a little face or upper extremities at all!

Finally, there it was, a cute little face looking up at us and a hand waving around frantically!

"Hi, Baby!" I wanted to say to the screen, but figured I'd probably better save that for now.

She measured the head, brain, arm bones, upper lip, looked at the heart again, and then looked up at me.

"You did say you wanted to know the sex?" the lady asked me (about 40 minutes into the proceedure).

"YES!" I practically shrieked at her.

So she moved the wand around some more and found a good angle.

"Well...it looks like ..."

Uh-huh, my brain cut her off before she finished.. just what I thought...

When she was down there making all those leg measurements I just didn't see any... extra appendages down there...

"...A Girl!"

She finished up about 20 minutes later and went out to find the doctor to come in for the consult.

I was still numb. Of course, I'd already had that strong suspicion from the leg measuring time, but to have her say it OUT LOUD really sent it home.

THREE girls?!


What on earth am I going to do with three girls?

Three girls to shop for! (woohoo!)

Three drama queens! (uh-oh)

Three hormone-laden teenage girls. (oh. dear.)

Three boyfriends? (heaven help us.)

Three weddings?! ($$$$$ !!!!!)

So much to absorb. I have to admit, I really was picturing a little towheaded boy adding to the family. I'm not disappointed, but need to adjust the thinking a little bit.

I waited another half hour for the perinatologist to come in and talk to me about the results.

He said everything looked good as far as they could see, but he was still concerned of the risk of coarctation (like Joshua's) that couldn't be seen on ultrasound. So we are going ahead with the fetal echocardiogram just to be sure there is nothing more to be concerned about.

That will take place in about 10-12 weeks in Grand Rapids. There is a very good chance nothing at all is wrong with her heart or aorta, but then again, Joshua ONLY had the coarctation and had nothing wrong with his valves or chamber walls, and those defects are often seen together, so that was a factor in the decision to go forward with the fetal echo.

Thanks again for your prayers, we are very encouraged by this good news at this point and will continue to keep you posted!

Love these "alien" shots!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Things I Like Tuesday

Today is Things I Like Tuesday!

Starting off the list:

I like:
The laughter of my kids as they rediscover how much fun the swingset is.
The late afternoon sunshine.
The taste of fresh tomatoes.
The sweetness of a little one's goodnight hug and kiss.
The feel of tiny little kicks.
The smell of spring freshness early in the morning.
My husband's kisses.
Memories like tiny time capsules triggered by a smell, a song, or an old photograph.

And here are a few other things I'm liking lately:

1. Mossimo long sleeve tissue t-shirts from Target. I LOVE these things! Longish in length, very lightweight, perfect for layering. And there are two things that really make these shirts my favorite EVER t-shirts: First, no matter how many times I stretch out the cuff by shoving up past my elbow, it shrinks right back down in the wash! And second, I can easily wear them while pregnant and they stretch nicely over even an 8 month belly without showing skin or creeping up! Gotta love that!

2. Hanna Andersson playdresses and leggings. If you have a kid (like I do) that has some issues with clothing, waistbands, cuffs, tightness, etc. these are the sets for you. Emmy loves these things with a passion. We have 4 long sleeve/pant sets that she loves to death and wears everywhere! She has already worn her size 100 cm (euro sizing) sets two winters and Elayna will get two winters out of them when she grows into that size as well. They're sturdy, high quality cotton, hard to stain, and nearly indestructible. Well worth the price, especially when I consider how many years I get out of them and what the resale value is like.

3. Hormel Vegetarian Chili. Oh yeah, you knew it had to include some sort of food, right? This is good stuff - yummy, quick goodness that heats up any winter haystack! And I can get it at Wal-Mart now! Yay!

4. Loreal Go 360* Clean. Just discovered this little gem and I love it!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Things I Don't Like Monday

Today is Things I Don't Like Monday.

Topping off today's list:


2. Politicians. Seriously. What IS it about those guys that make 'em think the American public died and made them gods. Soapbox diatribe now being averted...

3. Daylight savings time. What on earth made anyone think jumping AHEAD an hour was EVER a good idea?! Apparently whomever it was had no small children, was retired, and enjoyed going to bed extraordinarily early and getting up in the wee hours of the morning.

4. Alarm clocks that go off at 4:10 AM. There are no words for this one.

5. Lamps that magically turn themselves on in little girls' rooms at 11:30 pm just so the little munchkins can have a good excuse to get up and play in the middle of the night.

6. Banks that won't let me go through the drive through even though I'm pregnant and have small children with me just because I *MIGHT* have more than 50 cents in change with me. And if one more teller tells me I "HAVE TO" do something specific in order to make my deposit there for the the church, I'm going to go all 'pregnant-crazy-lady' on her.

7. My regular non-pregnant clothes.

8. Maternity clothes. I'm stuck in the in-between where my regular jeans fit just fine, but baby doesn't appreciate the belt that keeps 'em up, and my shirts are creeping up on being too short. But my maternity pants are still way too big and fall off and in general, ALL clothing is just making me crazy right now.

9. SPIDERS. I suppose the rush of adrenaline when I see an enormous hairy thing crossing my desk in speedy fashion is good for me since it makes me jump up out of my chair like it's on fire and hop around desperately searching for something to squish it with before it gets away and then haunts the rest of my day while I nervously twitch every time anything small and black catches the corner of my eye, but the increased heart rate does NOT make it worth it. Where's the blue max? It's time to get to spraying the edges of this old farmhouse before they all realize it's spring.

10. Seatbelts that have no comprehension of how to fit a pregnant woman properly. Grr.

Okay, done complaining now. I'll survive Monday and tomorrow I'll think of some nice things to say!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Baby Talk

Just thought I'd share a little update on the baby.

I have been worried on a much more constant basis this time around. The feeling that "everything's going to be just fine" left the building here never to return. Not after having a child with CHD and a recent miscarriage. Dreams have haunted me of special needs babies, and sometimes I have such serious doubts about my sanity I have to call up my best friend to remind me that I'm not crazy.

The other day I had a really good talk with my mom, though, and talking through all of the realistic realm of possibilities helped me process a lot and get past the fears to acceptance.

Next week I go see the perinatologist who will perform a targeted ultrasound to see the condition of the baby's heart and decide if a fetal echo is necessary. Hopefully in the ultrasound they'll see a nice healthy heart and a perfect aorta and we'll go back to our regularly scheduled natural birth plan with our midwife.

If not, we'll be off to Grand Rapids for a fetal echo to see the extent of any abnormalities. Depending on any problems that would require surgery or monitoring, in mid August we'd be delivering in Grand Rapids. Of course, those thoughts make me nervous for a whole host of reasons, but we are trying not to jump the gun on this or make any assumptions just yet.

Truth is - as of right now there is no reason to believe the baby is anything BUT healthy! We are just being cautious because of the risks we know we have. Our son was born with a CHD, my first cousin was born with a CHD (not the same one as Joshua), and another first cousin of mine has a son with a CHD (the same coarctation as Joshua).

So far, the baby's heart sounds fine on the doppler and is measuring right where it should be and I take comfort in those signs of normal development! The risk of CHD (Congenital Heart Defect) in the general population is between 3-5%. Our risk since we've had one child with it already is closer to 10%. Boys are more likely than girls to have a coarctation (like Josh did), but of course, we don't know the sex of this baby yet.

We would appreciate any extra prayers for the baby, and I'll be sure to update when we know more!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Skating and Swimming

I know I'm backtracking here, but I thought I'd catch up on some posts that I missed while I was gone.

About a month ago we decided to head to the anniversary celebrations up at the local (read: ONLY one within 25 miles) swimming/ice skating/gym/arcade place up in town and take advantage of their free ice skating.

It had already been a few years since I'd been on skates, and the kids had never been (I know, I know, how can I call myself a Michigander?) so I wasn't quite sure what to expect besides... awkwardness.

At least for me. Wasn't sure how the kids would do. Colby didn't try it at all. He'd been working long hours and didn't feel like lacing up some skates onto his tired feet.

I had to draw the line at taking two kids out on the ice by myself, so the little one sat forlornly on the sidelines with Daddy. I don't think I've ever seen her quite so bummed out while being held for an hour.

That's right. We lasted a whole hour. Not sure quite how I did it. My feet were screaming at me, oh, about 5 seconds into it. Remind me next time to go straight for the hockey skates and NOT the figure skates next time. My feet are WAY too used to being wide and comfy in my crocs for that kind of thing!

So there were 4 skating frames for little kids to hold on to and about 20 kids who needed them in order to keep from falling down. I managed to snag one right away for Emmy, but Josh quickly decided he could probably figure it out on his own and keep up with his group of school friends all out there skating proficiently in the middle of the rink.

He did surprisingly well! He stayed on his feet for the most part and even when he fell he got himself up without help and laughed his way on toward his friends.
ALL of the pictures turned out quite blurry, this was the very best of them.

Emmy, on the other hand, simply wanted to WALK on the ice and was immensely frustrated by how slippery the ice was and her skates on top of it. She walked gingerly around the rink on her tippy toes, grasping tightly her metal tube frame. When she'd fall she still clung to the frame and cry there until I picked her up and set her carefully back on her feet. In between she'd giggle and say she was having too much fun to stop!

And so we went. In that hour, we went around the rink exactly 4 times. It was an incredibly painstaking process, but whenever I'd ask her if she were ready to be done she would look at me with a horrified expression and say, "NO!".

Halfway through I took a break from Emmy and grabbed Elayna for a quick ride around the rink with me pushing her on a chair. Someone yelled at me that I wasn't supposed to do that as I skated by, but hey, it wasn't like I was the only one out there with a chair on the ice. So sue me. It was the highlight of my little one's day.
Thank you, dear, for cutting off the top half of my head.

The next day I took Elayna back for a quick dip in the pool, just my little Bean and I. I was so excited! It was about 12 degrees outside, and a swim in a warm pool in a humid place sounded like a little piece of heaven!

We quickly changed in the locker room and grabbed our towels as we dashed toward the kiddie pool. They have a nice kiddie pool area with the floor sloping just like a beach, and a fun shower spot and several water jets on the side and a bar above the other end with more shower jets. In the deeper area of the kiddie pool is a slide!

The air felt a little chilly as we walked past the big pool to the kiddie pool and I couldn't wait to get my feet over there into that warm, inviting water...

"What in the world?!?!", I couldn't help but yelp out as I stuck my toes in the shallow end. Surely there must be some mistake, I thought as I continued to be dragged farther in by my little one. This is WINTER, for heaven's sake, not summer! The water needs to warm us up in February, not COOL US OFF!!!

I looked around at all the other parents and kids in the water. Most of them didn't seem to be too bothered by the temperature. I guess the whole 'free swimming' thing balanced out for them the shivering coldness of the water as long as their kids were having a good time.

The kids were having a good time, right? I looked around at the 1 and 2 year old kids shivering in the knee-deep water. Hmm... maybe not so much. I tried to back slowly away from the shivering children but Elayna would have none of it.

"You want to play in the water?!", I asked incredulously.

"YES!!!", she cried out as she splashed her legs around.

Okay, then. *sigh* Not even a hot tub in the corner to warm up in afterwards.

I settled myself in on the edge of the pool and shoved my hands under my legs to keep my fingers thawed. I glanced around at the shivering kids and noticed one young woman who looked to be around 20.

I wonder what she's doing over here in the kiddie pool, I thought to myself as she stood there between the two shower poles.

I shivered at the thought of even getting close to those goosebump machines.

And then some kids wandered over to her and started calling her mom.


Oh, really?! Wow. She SO didn't look like a mom. She looked like she was barely out of high school and her hair was all perfect and her makeup was all perfect and there she was in a string bikini with a little tank top over it.

I looked down at my very plain black swimsuit with my white as a ghost arms and my hair pulled up in a messy pony tail and the cellulite I didn't want to even think about on the backs of my thighs. Ugh. I was just getting into that stage of pregnancy where no one thinks you're pregnant yet because you don't really look pregnant, you just look... chunky in the middle.

Seriously, I think that stage is more depressing than the 'big as a house' stage. At least no one secretly wonders if you're just FAT!

Right about then I glanced back up at her and she was looking at me. For one split second I just wanted to scowl and scream across the kiddie pool at her, "I'M PREGNANT!!!" and stomp away to the locker room for a good hormonal cry.

Thankfully right then she got distracted by her shivering kids and I realized my own was starting to get some mighty big goosebumps, so I scooped her up and we headed for our towels.

At least there was a nice, HOT shower waiting for me at home... and some self-tanner waiting for me the next time I went to Wal-Mart.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Fly in the... Juice?

"Look, Momma, I found a BABY WORM!!!", she yelled across the yard at me, her face exploding in a grin from ear to ear.

Hardly surprising. My second child is such a bug girl. There is hardly a creepy crawly thing to be found that she doesn't like. More than that - that she doesn't want to bring in and make friends with.

"Wow, that's quite a cute little baby worm, isn't it?", I responded as politely as I could, trying not to wrinkle my nose too obviously as I peered down at the little thing wiggling in her hand.

Worms, beetles, flies... these were NOT my thing as a little girl. Sure I loved climbing trees and building forts and all that, but really my imagination revolved mostly around playing house and cooking dinners and rocking babies to sleep. I mean really, what's the point of building a great fort in the woods if not to play HOUSE in it?

But for my Emmy-girl, there is no convincing her that the baby dolls she has collected from friends and family over the years are HALF as entertaining as the bugs she can find outdoors.

And today is an outdoor day. The temperature has climbed above 50 - the flowers are pushing shoots up through the dirt and my hands are itching to spring clean. I did the girls' room this morning: rearranged the furniture, washed the windows, picked up all the toys off the floor, removed the huge rug for cleaning, and mopped the floor by hand - because that's the only way to do it when the floor is made of very old, rough pine boards.

While I was doing all that with my little Helper Bean, Emmy got to spend her morning with Daddy, running errands, going to K-Mart, and getting some apple juice at the gas station when they filled up. It's so rare she gets to spend time like that - just a little girl and her daddy.

After lunch and nap time, we went outside. Where all the bugs and worms were waiting patiently all winter for Emmy to find them.

As I was getting ready to pull a few stray weeds from my flower bed I heard her very softly talking to some of her new friends.

"There you go little fly... I will share some of my juice with you! You can swim in it and have a bath in my juice!"

Oh. Dear.

Very pleased with herself, she turned to me and proceeded to tell me how Jesus wants us to share and how happy she was making Jesus by sharing her juice with her friend fly.

Ooo-kay then. What do you say to that one?!

Besides, "You may share with your fly, but you may NOT drink any more of that juice now!!!"

See all her fly friends? What a girl! So very... generous...


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