Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday Fun-day! Party Planning!

This week my Monday Fun-Day thing is party planning! I know its not everyone's thing but it is mine! I love to plan, coordinate, delegate(if I have to), and execute a good party or event. I guess its my upbringing as a "carnie" coming out in me! (I guess I haven't written much about that... I might have a post about it later.)
Anyway, Joe's 1st birthday was on Saturday and we're going to be having a family only party this coming weekend to celebrate and have a time of prayer together specifically about Joe and his developmental problems. Not that Joe really knows the difference but I thought it'd be fun for Nate and his cousin if it was a familiar theme. We're doing Curious George. I found a few cute little Curious George toys at Target in the dollar section which I love by the way. I've been on the PBS Parents website and they have tons of cool printables and ideas for kids parties using characters from their shows. Nate and I have spent the morning coloring print outs from the website. And I found this cute monkey cake video on BHG.com the other day that I'm going to attempt to do! I'm sure I'll do a post with pix from the party later so you all can see how everything turns out!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Another Par-tay for Mommy Bloggers!

I really enjoyed the last blog party I participated in and thought I'd join in another! This time Mommies United is throwing the party! There are lots of moms to meet and prizes to win! Its not too late to join in!
This party is for and by moms and so thats who I want to speak to right now. We are such an important part of our husband's and kids' lives. We underestimate ourselves and we give ourselves guilt trips and compare ourselves to others who look like they have it all together. But really we're mostly in the same boat, all paddling furiously, using a rumbled map (possibly upside-down), trying to get us and our precious families where they need to go in life. I wish that we could look at ourselves and see the beautiful, strong, gifted, important women that God created us to be. I was reminded the other day of a quote that we should all take a moment to consider. Christopher Robin is talking to Winnie the Pooh and he says: "If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together. There is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart... I'll always be with you." God says the same thing to us if only we would listen. He gives us the strength, and skills to handle whatever challenges come our way. And if we ever feel like its too much - He is right there to help us! How cool is that?!?

* Prizes..... I'd really like to win a custom blog design! The Natural Pod house play pack sounds really neat. The mother-child shirts sound really cool too.

I'll be giving away a prize myself..... So c'mon! Leave a comment on this post! I will do a drawing on Monday from the comments that are left between now and then. The winner will receive a copy of Journey to the Homeland by Hannah Stahlhut.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Sister's Journey

As I've mentioned before, I am the oldest of five kids. We were pretty spread out - I was fifteen when the youngest was born. All of us are very different in personality and interests. I am into photography, Shan has always loved animals, Wren into swimming, Hannah excelled at ballet and writing and Kyle into video games... you get the idea. Well... sometimes our hobbies can turn out to be particularly beneficial.
Last year at the homeschool convention Hannah wandered by the booth for Bethel College. After chatting with the representatives for a few minutes they gave her some literature on a scholarship writing contest being held by Tweener Times Ministries. The winner would receive a scholarship to Bethel College, a trip to Paris, a cash prize and their book would be published. At the time she was interested in the scholarship but had no idea how big of an impact this meeting would have on her life.
Hannah had written several stories already including fan-fiction online but she had not yet been involved in any writing contests of this kind. Over a couple of weeks Hannah set out and wrote Journey to the Homeland. Per the requirements of the contest the book should be a creative adventure with positive moral values and geared toward elementary and middle school children. It is about Keegan, a young orphan boy who has the gift of being able to communicate with animals. Keegan cautiously keeps his gift a secret from everyone as he moves from town to town looking for a place to call home. He befriends a jaguar and together they attempt to rescue Nora, who was kidnapped when the evil king's men mistake her to be the "gifted" child instead of Keegan. Its a wonderful story of adventure, friendship, honor and redemption.
Over the next few months we found out that Hannah had made the semi-finals, the finals and then eventually that she had won the scholarship contest! It was such an exciting time as we would wait to hear if she had made it to the next round and when she won... wow - it was such a proud moment for all of us. Then, just a few weeks ago we looked on Amazon.com and it had her book and bio on there! How cool is that?!? My sister, the author!
Hannah has never been one to be the center of attention so this experience has really pulled her out of her comfort zone with the local newspaper doing a story on her, all of our friends and family congratulating her, and now she's even making personal appearances to speak and sign books. This has been such an amazing opportunity for her. I mean, how many sixteen year olds can say they are a published author? The publishers are even talking to her about a possible sequel to Journey to the Homeland!
If you would like to purchase a copy of Hannah's book or if you are interested in having her speak at your child's school or library please check out Hannah's website: www.KeegansJourney.com for contact information. They're still working on the site but it should be up and running soon!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Latest on Joe

So, last Friday Joe had a cardiac echo done at Clarian West to check out the murmur that our family doctor had heard. The timing of the appointment wasn't great (the doc's office made the appt. not me) it was right when Joe should have been napping. I ended up having to lay awkwardly on the cold, hard hospital bed with him and nurse him to keep him calm while the nurse/technician held the ultrasound thingy to his tiny little chest. He eventually fell asleep and stayed asleep for the rest of the test. Thankfully the results came back normal - so at least thats one thing we can relax about.
We've met with both the DT and PT once each last week(they are both a once a week thing). Joe has done pretty well. We are encouraged and looking forward to seeing improvement with more therapy.
Both the vision and hearing tests are scheduled for April sometime. And the Riley developmental evaluation is set for June. Everyone I've talked to warned me that it takes a long time to get in to see a neurologist - they are schedules are booked for months. I called the neurologist's office to see if we had to see the Riley developmental specialist before setting an appointment to see them and was told that since there is a department for developmental delays they don't see kids for that reason until they're told that there is a neurological reason for the delays. But the lady that I talked to said if we have our doc schedule an appointment under the guise of it just being a "consult" then we could schedule before seeing the developmental specialist (even with going that route it'd still be August before we'd be able to get in). I left a message for our doc to see if they'd do that for us. Finally after some phone tag and explaining of exactly what I was wanting I got a call back from the doc's office saying that they got us scheduled with the neurologist in August. What frustrates me is that if I hadn't called and bugged people at both offices then we wouldn't have set an appointment with the neurologist until after we met with the developmental specialist in June and by then who knows when we'd have been able to get an appointment!?! Why isn't the medical community more user-friendly?
We're going to our herbalist in a few weeks and we're going to talk to her about possible supplements and diet to help with brain development. She also mentioned having Joe see a chiropractor too. She said she experienced similar delays/problems with her son also, so I am looking forward to talking with her about it more.
The past few months are a blur of telephone calls and appointments and I honestly don't feel like we really know much more about the situation than we did before we started the process. We know that he is delayed. We still haven't found a concrete reason for the delay or if he's going to catch up or not. I am being challenged daily to let go of my worries and fears and trust God's sovereign plan for Joe and for me. But thats easier said than done. We all have certain aspirations for our children. Its hard not knowing what hopes and dreams I'll have to give up and which ones I should hang on to for dear life.

This is a video of the Physical Therapist working with Joe on the exercise ball. He was working so hard, and so cute too!

And the Blog Award goes to....

In light of my recent award from Sniz... I thought I'd post my own little award ceremony of sorts. Mine is a little different... This is going out to a couple of bloggers who over the past few months have left me some very encouraging comments and I feel they deserve to be recognized. So here they are:
Sniz
JAN
Lehi (if only she'd give in and tell me what her blog is!!)

Also, I want to say that there were many others who have left encouraging words too but not all of them are fellow bloggers. Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting on my humble little blog! And keep up the comments! I love to hear from you all!

Another thing that made me think to do this "award" post was I had been thinking about The Dundies from The Office. sigh.... I've missed my shows. And I'm soooo glad that new post-strike shows (The Office, Grey's Anatomy, and more!) will be returning soon! NO MORE RERUNS! Yeah!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Shining Moments

So, I've kind of felt like my posts have been a little somber lately, talking about things going on with Joe, etc. I wanted to make this Monday Fun-Day post about some of the special moments that have come along to brighten my days lately. Because I think its always good for us to remind ourselves of the good/fun things in our life. Its so easy to get bogged down with everyday life and take for granted the little things that make all the hard stuff worth it. Today, sit down and think about, write down, blog about, scrapbook about (you get the idea) all the good things in your life: all the people that matter the most to you, the cute/funny things that your kid does, the silly things your husband does to show you that he loves you, the dorky things that you do that bring a smile to your kids' faces.... those are the important things in life (not the dirty diapers, dishes piled up in the sink or whatever).
We went up to Isaac's parents' lake house this weekend. Its a three hour car ride up there (if you don't stop) and with two little guys it can be a long three hours sometimes... but surprisingly it was a really pleasant drive (I think God was giving us a calm before the storm since later that night Nate vomited in his sleep and Joe kept me up literally all night teething). Anyway, on the drive up Nate was playing with his toy camera (you the kind, its an old one that doesn't work anymore that you got a garage sale for $0.25). So he says to me: "Give me cheese, mommy". So I turn around and give him a big cheesy smile. But the smile wasn't good enough, he asked for cheese over and over until I actually said CHEESE! He holds the camera up, "snaps" the picture, then looks at the camera (where our digital would have displayed the image and he says to me: "AW, dats cute!". HA! Can you tell he's the son of a photographer!?!
Grandma and Grandpa had bought Nate his first baseball mitt and he was pretty stoked. Saturday morning they watched Sandlot with him. Boy did he like that! The whole rest of the weekend he wanted to wear a ball cap and his mitt. He didn't understand that when they were talking about P. F. Flyers in the movie they were talking about the shoes, so he kept saying that he wanted to "Be a Flyer".
Nate has become very interested in singing over the last few months. Before he would sing if we prodded him to. But now he sings all the time, to himself, to Joe, to anyone who will listen. His favorites right now are Baa Baa Black sheep and Jesus loves Me - and sometimes he combines the two! * Speaking of sheep.... There is a scene in Evan Almighty where Evan is in his car and looks in the review and screams "Sheeeeeep!". Well Nate thought it was hilarious and started repeating it over and over to Joe one night. It was just kind of funny until Joe goes "ssshhhhhh!". It was sooo neat to hear Joe respond to Nate like that!
We just watched A Bee Movie last week. Nate really liked it. He now loves to walk around with my boots on his hands saying "'D'eez are winter boots!". Click here for the clip from the movie.
One day last week I had had a miserable day (temper tantrums - Nate's, not mine - lack of sleep, I don't know what else) and Isaac let me go out for awhile when he got home from work. While I was gone I was so thankful for him and his willingness to give me break. Because I was given that brief respite I was able to come back home refreshed and anxious to be with my husband instead of just crashing on the couch together watching another show that we don't care about (since we're still waiting for our regular stuff to come back from the writers' strike) and then stumbling up to bed exhausted. We had fun talking, teasing, playing together, making out, etc. I really savored our time together that evening.
A few days ago we had left the boys with my mom for awhile so Isaac and I could go out to dinner and when we came back it was time to nurse Joe. I walked right in front of him and sat down next to him and he grinned and giggled at me! I know that may not be a big deal to alot of people who have one year olds... but thats one of just a few times that I've even felt like he's really seemed to recognize me. I basked in the glow of that moment the rest of the evening! Joe had sessions with the DT and PT last week. While he isn't "better" it was encouraging to see him respond to being challenged by the therapists. I was playing pat-a-cake with him the other night and he tried to clap! And then at dinner the other day he held and ate a cracker by himself for the first time!
Even with all of the challenges that God sets before us at times... He always give us blessings to brighten our days and give us the motivation to keep on going. Remind yourself of those God-given blessings in your own life today.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jumping Through Hoops

Well, the past couple of days have been busy for me. I've been on the phone and email with therapists, doctors' offices, hospitals, herbalists, etc asking lots of questions and setting misc appointments. After some scheduling conflicts Joe finally had his first session with the Developmental Therapist (DT) yesterday and it went well. Mostly she played with him in strategic ways to try to get him to do this or that. Friday morning he will meet with the Physical Therapist and that afternoon he'll have a cardiac ultrasound to check out the murmur. I'm hoping to start taking him to our herbalist regularly to get him on a regular regiment of supplements. We have appointments set in April for his vision and hearing tests and one in June with a developmental specialist at Riley because the neurologist won't see us until he has had an evaluation by one of their doctors. Why can't they just use the evaluation that First Steps already did?!? Sigh.... I'm already tired of having to jump through hoops and such. I wish all this didn't have to be so complicated. Why can't we just get the help we need without all this?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My 6th Thursday Thirteen! 13 Things That I'm Reading Right Now!


Alrighty... I promise these are in random order-ish!

1. Created to be His Helpmeet - my mommy summer study group started this book last summer and my mommy small group is still going through it now. I've been a slacker and skipped a few times... oh, man.... I'll have to catch up before next week!
2. MoneySavingMom.com - Its my new favorite blog! I love finding new deals/coupons/etc!
3. A Parent's Guide to Developmental Delays - I just got this at the library and I'll be digging into it this weekend while we're away.
4. Walking Wisely - The caregroup that my husband and I are in is going through this book together.
5. KraftFoods.com magazine - I've really liked getting this free magazine and trying some new recipes once in awhile (when I get in a cooking funk!).
6. Professionalizing Motherhood - I know I've been reading this book for months now... its really good, its just that I don't have that much time to read!
7. Louder than Words - About Jenny McCarthy's son's journey through autism.
8. Latest edition of Scrapbooks Etc. magazine - love getting new and fun ideas for my scrappin'!
9. Size 14 Isn't Fat Either - in spite of how the name sounds its a murder mystery by the author of the Princess Diaries.
10. How To Avoid Housework - 'nuff said
11. The Happiest Toddler on the Block - my precious two year old is wearing me out on a daily basis with this battle of wills and some days I'm not sure who's winning... I'm hoping this will help me keep my sanity!
12. Usborne Big Book of Playtime Activities - I'm trying to get creative with how the boys and I spend our days.
13. Misc websites on How to Make Money Blogging - I blog anyway... why not make some money doing it?

If you'd like to check out more Thursday Thirteen participants click here!

Waiting for Hope

So Friday after the doctors appointment I was pretty upset and frustrated - not that there was anything unexpected about it, its just more of the same stuff. I went to the library by myself and looked up a ton of books on developmental issues, etc. One of them is Jenny McCarthy's book: Louder than Words. Its about her and her son's journey through autism. I am almost 3/4 through the book and its only been a couple of days since I started it. I was almost halfway when I stepped back from the book and asked when the "hopeful" part was coming because it was building up to that going through the horrible early stages including seizures, misdiagnoses, ambulance rides, her husband not being there for her or her son, wait lists, wrong medication after wrong medication (and the ensuing side effects)... I was feeling worse and worse. But I'm finally getting to the part where things are starting to improve through diet, supplements and therapy. I've really appreciated when she shared how hard it was to be around or even talk to people who's children are "normal". It just reminds you all all the things that your baby is not doing but technically should be.
I mean, Joe is delayed in just about every category they check for. He's almost a year old and despite us working with him, he still cannot fully sit unassisted, doesn't crawl or even push up on hands and knees, he rolls over sometimes but its pretty random and inconsistent, he makes very little eye contact but will follow an object briefly, rarely fusses, babbles some but doesn't say or even seem to comprehend words, he responds to music but doesn't respond to his name, we wonder if he even recognizes us. Everyone says not to compare your kids. So I tried not to, even though Nate was rolling at four mos, sitting at 6mos, crawling shortly after, walking just after a year. But, with Joe I have always told myself he was just a really laid back baby since he was so low maintenance, he has always been so content, not needing to be entertained.
None of the professionals that we've talked to has brought up autism yet but I've done some reading and am just trying to be proactive since it feels like this process is taking forever. I've emailed our herbalist and she says it sounds alot like what they dealt with when they had their son and she said with diet and supplements she thinks she can help. Friends and family try to be encouraging saying that Joe will be "ok".... define "ok". Is living with a disability for the rest of his life "ok"? Is the possibility of him never leading a normal life "ok"? I don't want "ok", I want my son to be WELL. I want him to be healthy and thriving. Is that so wrong? I'm so overwhelmed with all the "what ifs" and not really knowing for sure what we're facing here. I've read and been told that God never gives us more than we can handle... well, if thats true then I really wish he didn't trust us so much!

*If you haven't been following along the last few months - I have several other posts on my blog about the steps we're taking. Just pull up all the posts labeled "Joe".

Monday, March 17, 2008

Scrapbooks Etc!


Using some of my birthday money I bought a subscription to a paper crafts magazine: Better Homes and Gardens Scrapbooks Etc. Well, my first one came in the mail today! I was soooo psyched! I love getting new ideas for future projects.
Something I came across was information on scrapbooking retreats. Now, I've seen the stuff advertised before but had kind of forgotten about it. Well it got my attention this time maybe because I'm still thinking about "far far away". There wasn't alot of info for this area of the country in the magazine so I got to "Google-ing"! I found two places that sound really cool! One is The Gathering: a retreat with purpose. The prices were better than some and I liked that they donated a percentage of their profits to a local women's shelter. I also found Crop-a-doodle-do: the ultimate scrapbook and spa get-away. Whats not to like about getting manis and pedis while scrapping?!? Both places are Bed and Breakfast style retreats with home cooked meals and cozy atmosphere with special crop rooms for us to use their tools and release our creative juices. Love it! So... to my local scrappin' girls.... let me know if you're interested because I sure am!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Far Far Away

Ok, so my church is having a Women's Retreat this weekend. I was frustrated that it ended up being the same weekend as the Hearts at Home conference which I wanted to go to but since I can only be in one place at a time the church retreat won. I have been looking forward to getting away for a night child free! . But part of me my mom-complex! has a hard time leaving my husband and boys to fend for themselves (though my sis and bro are spending the night to help out). Plus its alot of work going away... the planning, the packing, the planning for the people you're leaving behind.... sometimes it feels like more trouble than its worth.

Josiah had his 1yr appointment at our family doc's office today. Obviously he was concerned about the delays just like the rest of us. Basically he agreed with the steps we have taken (contacting First Steps, hopefully starting PT and DT therapy soon, getting hearing and vision tested soon) and with potentially seeing a neurologist (though there is some debate as to who to see). Also he found that the heart murmur that he had noticed before but didn't think much of in the beginning is still there. So he wants us to get an ultrasound to check that out. Later today I heard from one of the therapists we chose and she hadn't seem Joe's paperwork so she asked a bunch of questions that we've already been over many times. It stirred up feelings that had kind of settled down over the last couple of weeks. While nothing really new was brought up I just feel drained from everything thats been going on and am overwhelmed. I want to know that everything will be fine. I don't want to feel so helpless and out of control. My head hurts from thinking too much, my eyes hurt from crying too much and my heart hurts from worrying too much.

Sometimes I wish we could pack the boys up and go to a beach somewhere and just relax. Really relax. Lay on the beach, play in the surf, sleep in a bed that someone else will make, eat on dishes that someone else will wash, lay on the beach some more... far away from my house that needs cleaned.... far away from all the worries that I let myself get consumed with... far away from un-answerable questions from well meaning friends and family... far far away.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lady in Weighting

The Biggest Loser was on last night and once again it got me thinking about the ups and downs of my own journey through weight gain and loss. I really wanted to go on the show when it first started a few years ago. I would probably have had a chance back then, but having babies prevented me from entering, and now I don't think I'd make the cut (in a good way).

When I was a kid I was a little on the chubby side. Through jr. and sr. high I outgrew my baby fat, but in my mind I still saw myself as "fat". Toward the end of high school and those first couple of years (while I was working at the airport) I might have bordered on skinny (around 120lbs)... but never felt that way then. I always remember viewing myself as heavy, even at my thinnest.

My life went through alot of changes, I graduated high school and went to work for an airline (did a little traveling), and I followed God's leading broke up with my boyfriend of almost three years. With him out of the picture my whole life plan was gone. I had assumed that I would be marrying him and become a wife and mother. I had to come up with a new plan and ended up going back to school which was a big adjustment for a "sheltered" homeschooler. With all these changes came weight gain. Not intentional, and I think it was somewhat gradual. Maybe I let myself go after the breakup... maybe it was the freshmen fifteen... maybe I just got caught up in enjoying life and food a little too much.

Around the time I got engaged (this was also about the time I started on the pill) I weighed 165lbs. I was feeling pretty good about myself not because of my appearance or weight but because I was in a good relationship with a guy who thought (and still does) that I was beautiful. Shortly after we were married I got a job at an airline call center and day after day I sat in a booth like a veal. I believe that it was primarily a combination of the pill and my job that lead to another 60lbs of weight gain. At my heaviest I weighed over 220lbs - about 100lbs heavier then my highschool weight. I think what really shook me up besides figuring out that I'd gained 100lbs was when I realized that I wasn't just "overweight" anymore... according to the BMI calculator online "I was morbidly obese". Ew.... how horrible those words sounded. Morbid... morbidly... obese... couldn't they change the name to something less awful?

I quit my job at the call center and went to work for my inlaws' counseling center where my husband works (I also went off of the pill around this time). He and I counted calories for awhile. We saw some results doing that. But we knew that our problem wasn't just with calories - it was our motives behind our eating habits.

We found The Lord's Table - an online ministry to help people with all kinds of eating disorders/issues. Together we went through the course and learned to change our eating habits and to turn to Christ instead of food for comfort during times when we were tired, hurt, angry, bored. What a blessing it was to not only go through the program together and see results but to grow in our relationships with God together. It was a good time of growth for us. I lost somewhere around 30lbs while going through the Lords Table course.

Some time went by and I gained a few pounds back. I got pregnant and did not feel that I should follow the eating plan while maintaining a healthy pregnancy. I had a little trouble with my blood sugar levels toward the beginning of the second trimester but after I began watching my sugar intake things were fine. It was hard after losing weight to watch my body expand again so soon and it did expand! But I gained a healthy 30-35lbs during the pregnancy and was pleased that I only passed my previous weight by a few pounds. What was supposed to have been a natural hospital birth turned into multiple hospital interventions and ultimately a cesarean. Despite the rough start I did breastfeed Nate for 13-14mos which helped take the weight off and then some. By the time I got pregnant with baby number two (surprise!) I was excited to be back down to my pre-married weight of 165lbs.

Again with baby number two I gained a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy (40 or so this time). I was alot more comfortable with my body this pregnancy, enough that I had maternity pictures taken in the 7-8mos of pregnancy! What a blessing to have some pictures to remember that special time when God was using my body to nourish and grow my son inside of me! This time I was pleased that my full-term weight only exceeded my pre-Nate weight by a couple of pounds. After a wonderful homebirth I once again began breastfeeding. And thankfully the weight came off again. Our Little Joe is almost a year and I'm still nursing him. I have been hovering at 165 again for awhile now.

I don't think I'll ever be "skinny" again. I'll probably always struggle with food and overeating. But I've made alot of changes and have an awareness of my weakness to food and that alone is a huge help. I am hoping with summertime around the corner (I hope!) that we'll be able to get more active outside and I can drop a few more pounds. Ultimately my goal is to get my weight into the "normal" range and not be overweight anymore (which is about 20 more lbs). But for now, I am happy to making healthier choices in my eating and knowing that I'll be a better wife and mom because of them. I did have a very exciting discovery recently. I went and did the BMI test online again. This time I found that I was no longer obese at all!

So... for those of you who watch The Biggest Loser.... when I started my weight loss journey I weighed 220lbs. Over the past couple of years I have lost 55lbs. Which brings my total percentage of weightloss to: 25%!! That puts me above the yellow line and a few of the contestants on the show!


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Breastfeeding Carnival

Someone from the Blog Party left me a link to this Boobie thing at sarcasticmom.com... So of course I had to check it out! HA! But seriously I firmly believe that breast is best. I kind of debated about whether or not to do this because I feel so strongly about it. I think I came into breastfeeding from a slightly different view than some. I'm the oldest of five kids which were spread out over 15years. I remember my mom breastfeeding my younger siblings. My mom believed in nursing us... so much in fact that she gritted her teeth and stuck it out for years through cracked nipples, open sores, biting toddlers... it was not the beautiful experience that we see pictured on the La Leche League magazine. So when the time came for me to have my first child I knew I wanted to breastfeed and I kind of braced myself for it to be rough nursing. I was surprised with an unexpected c-section which got my journey of motherhood off to a rocky start since I had planned very hard for a natural birth. I am very thankful that breastfeeding went fairly well for me. It took baby Nate and I a few weeks to get the hang of things but we found our groove and despite a few hiccups (teething was really hard on both of us, and we had to work at getting him to take pumped milk from a bottle from time to time) I nursed him until I got pregnant when he was 13 months old. I briefly considered tandem nursing.... but my boobs wanted a little break between kids. After an emotionally healing VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) at home I began breastfeeding my second son within 20min of birth. He was born ready to eat! He is almost a year old now and still nursing strong. I won't say that my experience has been all gazing into eachother's eyes and gentle cuddles.... its actually often draining, and time consuming. But I am thankful for the God given opportunity and ability to provide my children with the best possible nutrition.

Party Time!

Ultimate Blog Party 2008

I wanted to join in the Ultimate Blog Party but I wanted to have a cool post to go with it. And I do have a special reason to celebrate today.... this is my 200th post! Wow.... I didn't think I'd get into blogging as much as I have. It kind of took over on its own. SO, this is my 200th post party! And, what's a party without a few of your favorite things?


So what are you waiting for? Click on the link at the top of this post and Join in the blog party!

OK, you can tell I am a mom of a toddler because as I typed that it reminded me of a kids book. I know some of you know it... the part I was thinking about goes something like this (and this is all of the top of my head... I have not referred to the actual book.... yet): What are those dogs doing? Where are they going? A tree! To the tree. What will they do there? Will they work there, will they play there? Up to the top of the tree. What is up there on the top of the tree? Its a party! A big dog party! Big dogs, little dogs, black dogs, white dogs, red dogs, blue dogs, green dogs, yellow dogs are all at the dog party! What a dog party!..... it goes on a bit more but you get the idea. Anyway I wonder how I could change that to apply to this blog party... hhhmmm.... What are those bloggers doing? Where are they going? A blog! To the blog. What will they do there? Will they work there, will they play there? Up to the top of the post. What is up there on the top of the post? Its a party! A big blog party! Big blogs, little blogs, black blogs, white blogs, red blogs, blue blogs, green blogs, yellow blogs are all at the blog party! What a blog party!.... I know... I know... I'm a dork. I'll probably get some comments making fun of me from Big Doofus . Oh, well. I am what I am - not much I can do about that!
By the way... there are tons of great prizes involved in this blog party! Here are a few of my favorite prizes! Here are the prize numbers of a few of the ones that I really really liked: 2,5,8,11,14,17,22,23,24,28,32,36,45,56,67,74,75,81,109,123, and.... 141.
I love customized stuff - you know, personalized with your name. I think I like those because I have an unusual name and can't ever find it anywhere. As much as I love how I've got the blog looking now... I'd love a custom designed layout! And of course... scrappin' is another love of mine!

This just in... after he read this post my blogging buddy Doofus made this for me! I love it!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ah....


My sis and I went and got pedicures together tonight. Ah, I love it! I only do it occasionally but they're so good. I love being able to wear sandals and show off my pretty toes during the summer. I wish warm weather would get here soon!

p.s. - those aren't my toes... I used a stock photo. he he ;)

Now for a word from our sponsor....

After I put up that last post I almost kicked myself. Of course the pictures were good and I wanted to share them. But I couldn't believe that I had inadvertently made ourselves a walking advertisement for JC Penney Portraits the competition! Obviously I'd rather you hire Unforgettable Photography a.k.a. me to do your pictures than some stinky ole department store studio! Since I have been having babies I kind of put it on the back burner for awhile but I'd love to get more regular gigs.

Spring is on its way (I hope!) and that'll be a great time to do family or senior pictures. Plus lots of people have weddings then too! I think my website has a few prices for prints but I don't think anyone has ever bought any - I almost always sell a disk and copyright release so you can get whatever prints you want of whichever pictures you want, no coupons needed! I have a blog and website with lots of samples of my work if you want to check them out sometime! In the mean time here are a few of my favorite pictures of my own.




So.... if any of you are in need or know someone else who is in need of a photographer (in the Central Indiana Area) please pass along my information! Thanks!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Our Family Pictures!




We (I) had a hard time choosing which ones to get prints of because we liked so many! Plus it was frustrating to fall in love with a picture and realize that the coupon didn't apply to it since it was black and white or sepia or had frame or something. They lure you in with these sales/coupons but then they tempt you to spend extra by doing the cool editing and stuff that costs extra! But I was so pleased that we got a couple smiles out of the boys! And Joe's little cheeks looked good that day. While our picture taking experience wasn't without its hiccups we were pleased with the pictures.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Stop and Hear the Music

I read a post on Midsummer Meandering's Blog today about going to the symphony. While her post was mostly comedic, mine is not. Awhile back Isaac shared with me a news story that detailed the findings of a social experiment. The results were somewhat surprising and a little sad to me. Its not unlike my previous post asking the question "who decides what is art-worthy?". In the midst of our hustle and bustle we as a culture have lost sight of what is truly beautiful.


PEARLS BEFORE COMMUTERS

A writer for the Washington Post recently decided to try a social experiment to find out if commuters in a subway station would recognize musical genius if performed by a master virtuoso in the guise of an ordinary busker. So the trap was set: Joshua Bell, one of the world's greatest violinists, along with his $3.5 million instrument crafted by Antonio Stradivari in 1713, played 43 minutes of masterpieces in a Washington metro station on a typical Friday morning. The results were depressingly predictable. Of the 1,097 people who rushed by, only seven stopped to listen to the music for more than one minute. Another 27 tossed some money in his violin case, and the rest were completely oblivious to the spark of beauty interrupting their otherwise dull day.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Take the Cake

In my family there has been a favorite sweet treat that somehow became a tradition. Periodically, for birthdays or such we would go by Biff's Bakery (this little whole in the wall place that also has really good Bismarks) and we would get this Banana Nut Cake. I don't know when or how we came to find this sweet confectionery delight but it became "our thing". Only a few times a year would we get this cake, so it was a pretty big deal to us when we did get one. It was light and fluffy and had this creamy icing and then it had a nut topping sprinkled all over it..... mmmm.... so good!
So last week my mom calls me and says "I just want to remind you that its the thought that counts". I have no idea what she is talking about. So she proceeds to explain: mom thought she'd surprise me with one of these cakes as a belated birthday gift. She had even bought one for her sister who had heard us rave about this cake but hadn't tried it. Well, she buys the cakes and of course my dad and siblings are eager to eat this rare treat. They cut into expecting the same yummy cake that we've always gotten. But, not this time. They found the cake to be hard, apparently overcooked, and much darker in color than we've had before. It was definitely not satisfying the craving. Out of character for him, my dad agreed that they should try to get their money back because the cake was just awful. Mom went ahead and brought me a cake partly to show me how bad it was and partly to hold me over until new ones could be made. I could tell as I cut into it that it wasn't right. We ate a couple of pieces but ended up picking at the icing over a few days. RIGHT: a picture of the bad cake.


Yesterday though, ah, my dad brought the replacement cake. Oh, sweet! Biff's Bakery had redeemed themselves! Once again it was the fluffy, melt in your mouth Banana Nut Cake (pictured on the LEFT) that we had been wanting from the beginning. Now we are savoring it, really appreciating it instead of taking it for granted like we have all these years. I know its just a cake.... but to us its more than a cake, its one of a few small family traditions which we should also savor.

"Go and celebrate with a feast of choice foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!"
Nehemiah 8:10

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

My Weekend

I already told you all about my scrappin' fun on Friday night. But I thought that today I'd go ahead and share about the rest of my weekend.
The meeting with First Steps on Friday morning was hard. Things are pretty uncertain with Josiah right now. They recommended physical and developmental therapy, vision and hearing screenings and seeking out a neurologist. We should be in touch with the therapists that we chose (from a list w/ their names and credentials - kind of hard to know what we're getting from the little info given) and begin therapy within a few weeks. It could just be a simple delay and he'll catch up..... or it could be something serious that he'll live with for the rest of his life. We're not sure what to expect and that's wearing me out more than anything right now. I have all these "what ifs", "worst case scenarios" and "woulda/coulda/shoulda"s going through my head all the time. I can hardly talk about it without getting emotional - which is why alot of people (even close family and friends) may not have heard anything about our concerns until recently. Its been really hard to talk about all of our concerns and everything thats been happening. We will attempt to keep everybody informed as things progress. Anyway, your prayers are cherished and I know I'll be needing them for awhile.

Nate spent the night at my in-laws' house Friday night so I got to sleep in a little on Saturday morning. Yeah! It was a relaxing morning laying in bed nursing Joe, Isaac actually waking up and talking together for awhile. Then we got up and made a late breakfast together - yummy Chili and Eggs (not Chilean Eggs like my husband always jokes) with fresh semi-homemade tortillas... mmmmm.... so good! Then my father-in-law calls and says he's on his way over with Nate - which was a surprise because they've never cut a visit short before. But apparently Nate didn't sleep well the night before and woke up several times during the night I'm sure their heavy snoring had nothing to do with it and was already acting tired. They wanted to make sure he got a good nap before the family pictures that we were scheduled to take that afternoon. Well Nate fell asleep in the truck on the way over and ended up in a terrible mood. His nap was not what we had hoped it would be. While both boys napped (though not long enough) Isaac and I showered and dressed in our cute coordinating outfits for the pictures. We "hurried" to make it to the studio for our appointment - only to have to wait 30min-1hour before actually being taken back for our pictures.

This event was actually my mother-in-laws gift from all of us - to get a huge family picture done together. So, we had six adults and four boys under 3yr. Nate kept getting distracted by the props that were lying around the studio(see photo above of him playing with the football helmets). The photographer was very nice and patient as we tried to coax smiles or even a glance in the direction of the camera for goodness sake from the boys. All in all it was as good as can be expected I guess but in the moment it seemed so long and tedious. Then of course once the pictures were taken then began the painful process of choosing and ordering said pictures. My sis-in-law and I stayed to do the ordering for the whole family. Of course at first its easy to dismiss the bad pictures where one boy is diving out of the shot, pulling another's hair and such. But then once the favorites have been chosen, do we want 8x10s, 5x7s, wallets.... or do we want packages? Then they entice you with the edited pictures that aren't a part of the coupon which for people like me, is the only reason we can afford to do this whole thing in the first place . Meanwhile our husbands have called a half a dozen times trying to figure out if they should wait for us at the restaurant, go home or what. The whole process ended up taking about three hours - which was alot longer than I had imagined. But I must say we did end up with some beautiful family pictures that I will be posting once they're available on the studio's website in a week or two.

My family was so great and came over to watched the boys so Isaac and I could go out (a huge thanks to them by the way!). After the pictures taking up half the day it was a relief to get away just the two of us. We went and saw the movie Vantage Point. It was intense! We really enjoyed the movie, but more than anything we enjoyed being together, alone. What a blessing to be reminded that I'm not just a mommy.... I'm still a woman and wife to a wonderful man who loves me and desires to be with me and take care of me and our boys. I love him so much.

Monday, March 03, 2008

My First Monday FunDay

So, this morning I had to check Home Sanctuary.com to see who the winners for last month's small things contest were. Of course it wasn't me, but thats ok, maybe next time. But while I was there I found a link to Monday FunDay @ Ann Kroeker's blog. She says:

Monday FunDay is a carnival dedicated to swapping simple, amusing–maybe even silly–everyday ways you enjoy good, clean fun. All we do is post a story, idea, or explanation at your blog of how you and/or your family has livened up Mondays (or any day).

And I thought: What a fun thing to blog about! Soooooo..... my Monday FunDay post is on..... drum roll please....... da da da..... S'MORES!



Who doesn't like s'mores, right?!? Anyway, s'mores used to be a summer campfire thing, but times are a'changin' people! Who needs a campfire (though that is my preference but alas they are hard to find this time of year) when you can have a handy dandy s'more making kit in your very own kitchen (this was a Christmas gift a year or two ago - I probably wouldn't have bought it for myself, but we have enjoyed using it a few times).

Over the course of using our little s'mores kit I have found my perfect ratio of cracker-to-chocolate-to-marshmallow. It is as follows: one graham cracker square, one chocolate square and two marshmallows. Now, I know what you might be thinking: "That is not the perfect s'more." I think, as we all do, that s'mores are a very personal thing. I would not try to say that this was everyone's favorite/ideal combination. My husband is very particular about his s'mores and eats his very differently. But, for me, this is by far, my favorite taste for this oh so fun and messy to enjoy treat!

Part of the reason that I explained my perfect ratio was to lead into this cute story about my husband. He is a wonderful man who tries so hard to buy special gifts for me from time to time. Sometimes he succeeds and sometimes.... well, lets just say that its the thought that counts (he believes this more than I do). Anyway, at Christmas time he and I exchange ornaments. This past year he was at the mall searching (for quite some time) for the "perfect" ornament. He didn't want to just get some cheesy, cute but meaningless ornament. He wanted an ornament that said something about us. At last, after much wandering about the mall with no success, he came across this S'more Snowman ornament that had one graham cracker square, one chocolate square and two marshmallows. He was so excited and proud of himself that he found an ornament that so perfectly fit my s'more tastes. How cute is that?!? I love it! Thank you, honey!



Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Whole Enchilada

In case I haven't mentioned it before..... I LOVE MEXICAN FOOD! I could eat Mexican just about anytime of day or night. It almost always sounds good to me. I mean, who doesn't like unlimited chips and salsa?!? My grandma on my moms side is Spanish so I've grown up with maybe a little more exposure to good Mexican food than some people. Grandma and my mom both are such good cooks! I'd like to think I got a little bit of the "good cooking" gene. Or at least the recipes!
Awhile ago I shared my Taco Soup/Chili Pie recipe. This time I'm going to share my Chicken Enchiladas recipe. Its one of my husband 's favorite dishes and he requests it regularly. Its kind of a "freestyle recipe". You know the kind.... those recipes that you can change up a little if you like. Sometimes I do it in the crock pot and others I bake it. Either way its a family favorite of ours!

Wani's Chicken Enchilada Casserole

1-2 cups of chicken or turkey pieces (alot of times I'll use canned chicken - its quick and easy)
20-ish tortillas flour or corn whichever you like - torn into pieces
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can green enchilada sauce
1 small can green chilis
2-4 cups cheese (we like cheese alot!)

In med-large bowl mix the chilis, cr chick soup, chicken, 1/2 the enchilada sauce and about half the cheese. In crock pot or baking pan pour a little enchilada sauce into the bottom to keep things from sticking. The layer 1/3 of the tortilla pieces on the bottom, followed by 1/2 the chicken mixture and a sprinkle of cheese. Repeat layering. Then top with remaining tortilla pieces, cheese and enchilada sauce. Crock Pot on high for 2-3hours Or bake for 30-35min at 375 degrees.
Great served with Spanish Rice, Mexican salad, refried bean, chips and salsa, etc.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Scrappin' Sistahs

A group of ladies from my church has been getting together to scrapbook together periodically. Lately, Lehi has been gracious enough to host it at her house. Last night we had four of us including: Lehi, Sniz, Kara and myself. We had such a good time together talking and scrapping!

I love being able to learn from eachother in scrapping and in life. We talked about marriage, kids, hair color, possums, Tom Cruise.... and many more very deep topics. Its so nice to have the camaraderie of being with other mothers, wives and scrappers.

I hadn't really had that great of a day. I had contemplated not going at all. But getting out of the house, being with those women, talking and scrapping together was so refreshing to my soul. I am very thankful for the time we had together and am looking forward to doing it again soon.

The first pix is all of us girls. The one on the right is a sample of the pages that I got done (I still have to go back and finish my journaling!)! This last pix is Sniz and me!