Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Grouchy to growing

By popular request..... (Thanks, by the way, to those of you who commented or emailed that I should not be afraid to put the "real" out there.) It's a bit rambling, but again...it's really for me, and a few of you who have been helpful in this process. But the rest of you are welcome to peruse if you like.

As a fair warning, this is no short, light post. But I want to remember my process in this journey, so allow me the opportunity. Please feel no obligation to hang around for it if you've got better things to do. As an FYI though... the next post will be a counting of the blessings, so happy things are on the horizon!

It's no secret that I've been less than giddy about this Christmas season. I keep saying I don't know why, but that's not really an acceptable end to the story in my book. Things don't stay in the "I don't know" range around here very often. I have to figure things out. Things happen for a reason. I firmly believe that. We often make choices that cause consequences and we like to blame others...anyone, really. OR we just deny the reality of those outcomes. But in the end, there's no simple "chance" to this stuff. And I have learned that the lessons that are out there in the midst of such things are very valuable.

So I've been pondering. Looking around for reasons why I'm reacting or feeling like I am. And once again, when I take the time to look realistically at things that threaten to be disturbing, I gain insight, even if it is sometimes hard to do.

As far as Christmas goes, it's always been my favorite holiday, along with the whole winter season and Thanksgiving too. I have boxes and boxes of decorations. Not just for the tree, but for the whole house. I used to take down everything in the house, on walls, shelves, counters, the whole thing. Everything got replaced with Christmas decor. The whole month of December was spent enjoying lights and music and parties and wishing everyone merry days. We gathered with friends, work events, church concerts and plays, and spent hours driving around "light-looking," as we called it. Our first several Christmases when we were dating and then married were great, filled with silly fun and memories.

There's a romantic element to Christmas that is a big deal to me. I had actually forgotten that until recently. I love the surprise of what M would get for me. Not that it was big or elaborate, but I'm all about the thought behind presents. I've never been one for expensive presents, but I like the idea that he thought of something I'd want or had mentioned, or even just some silly thing I wanted to do, and he took the time to act on it. The little things like sitting in front of the fireplace and watching White Christmas, dressing up for dinner with friends, coming home to hot chocolate and Christmas music playing after I'd been out shopping...those were big and I looked forward to them.

The last few years have been different, though. Life changes, and we grow up. Priorities change and sometimes we let go of things that just seem less important, not knowing that the ripple effect will be felt for some time to come. As I've been looking back to find where things took a turn, I found that it's been longer ago than I originally thought.

It turns out that 2004 was the last Christmas that was what I'll call my "old normal." It was our first year in our first house. I remember a few specific things about that year, but overall, it was a good holiday season. There were many friends, family came by, and Christmas was merry. In 2005, we had a big trip for Christmas, and though we were looking forward to it, and there WERE good times in there, there were things overshadowing that time that made it less than a happy holiday. I didn't realize it at the time that a major shift was happening, but to look back now, there were many signs. There were things that made me very uncomfortable, and I see now why, but then I only felt uneasy and concerned. And I learned that it's very dangerous to ignore problems and pretend that they don't exist. That helps no one.

Braska was born at the end of November 2006, and after spending 3 1/2 weeks in the NICU, and alot of adjustment as a family, she came home 11 days before Christmas. We were happy about that. But the absolute last thing I wanted to mess with was Christmas decorations and such. Friends came over, at M's request, to put up the tree. It was very nice of them to do, but I wasn't in the mood. I wanted to focus on Braska's health, which was fragile at that point, and I wanted to learn what our "new normal" was. In addition, there were once again things going on in the background that I didn't fully know about but deeply affected our little family. We didn't travel that year for Christmas at all since we were keeping Braska very secluded in an attempt to keep her healthy for surgery soon after the New Year. Family came to us for short visits, and that was nice. There were good times, but again there were clouds that hovered.

Last year, in 2007, by Christmas many things had calmed down after a painful time. But there was drama in our families, and I struggle with too easily remembering years gone by, as you can probably tell, so things from the previous two years seemed fresh again when it got to the holiday season. We had nice family time and it was great to experience Braska's reaction to lights and things of Christmas. But there were still a few issues that lingered and made me feel less than "in the spirit" of the season. Improved? Yes, but not quite there yet.

So what's the deal with this year?? 2008 has been busy and sometimes dramatic for us, but we've done well with it. As a family of 3, we've been in sync more than in the previous years, which is great. Overall, we've been blessed, as with the other years, and we've had alot less of the painful times. So that should make for a very happy season, if I use my old equation for how it works. This is the part where I've been stuck. Why is THIS year not merry at Christmas?

Here's where the growing part comes in... it's taken alot to bring me around to several realizations. I won't be laying out those realizations specifically, in order to be fair to others involved, but the lessons are still valid. The bottom line is that it's now time to do something novel...learn tough life lessons by dealing with the issues that those around us are facing. It's not that all these situations are bad, or at least truly detrimental, but I'm finding as I look more closely that we are in a unique position right now. Many people close to us, family and friends, are dealing with things that could have been avoided or can now be resolved if the right choices are made. We are not thinking or claiming that we can make those choices or that we know best in those situations. It is more that we know that by watching these circumstances we can have the opportunity to talk about our own values along these lines, we can clarify to each other as husband and wife how we see these scenarios and how we would hope to handle them if similar situations arose in our lives.

Another opportuntity has been to learn alot about where we came from. We love our families. We value them and their place in our lives. We are appreciative of our childhood teachings. Parents, we are not blaming you. The truth still holds, though, that it's important to realize how our upbringing has affected us and what to do to parent even better with our own children. Hopefully each generation improves, of course. But ignoring things that are hard to deal with will not help anyone, and often becomes part of our downfall. So we have taken the chance to observe and learn from our respective families and their experiences in the last year, especially.

But how does this all translate to Christmas grouchy? I think part of it this year was being a little sad that we're away from "home," in that we were in C-U for almost 8 years. Though we think this move was the right decision, it still left us a little bit lost socially. We like being near our families, but we've not made friends who are in our stage of life, people to just hang out with, so that makes this time of year a bit more lonely. Another element is probably that I struggle with letting go of old things, I call them "ghosts," that haunt me around this time of year from the last few. Every month that passes helps, but recent events like this pregnancy and the holiday time re-opens things a bit. It doesn't help that I've been sick for most of the last couple months...that puts a damper on holiday spirit, too.

I believe, though, that the biggest problem with my attitude this year was that I failed to stop and realize that the chaos *around* us doesn't have to infiltrate our home. We have to observe and learn from these situations, and we do have a responsibility to help when we can, but we cannot take on the stress of the poor choices around us. I struggle with resentment toward those who acknowlege bad decisions but won't take help offered or make changes to improve things. That's an unfortunate part of life. I can't change that. So I have to let go of it. NOT ignore it, I won't do that, but I must let go when I don't have ownership of a situation. But it has always been hard for me. I would rather not be around than watch people who know better make decisions that cause pain and stress on themselves, and more than that, I can't stand to watch them ignore the effect it has on those around them who want to help.

It's hard to watch people that you love do dumb things. This isn't new to the world, and it's not unique to us. This is happening in our families, our friends' lives, and a few acquaintences. I'm just going to have to pray hard, be consistent in doing what's right in my own family, and focus on what I *can* change.

So Christmas grouchy... it's no fun, but I feel like I have a better understanding of where it flowed from. And now that I've taken quite a bit of time to hash things out in my mind and work through the realizations that came through, I consider it a growing experience. And as I've said many times, the hardest times I've lived through have brought the most important lessons. I hope those that are living in these hard times around me now are learning. I really do.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas in hindsight

I have a big long post written about why I've been grouchy this year's holiday season, why I now see what I was needing to learn, and what those lessons are. It's really long. And I'm not sure it's really something to put out there yet, though I really want to have it around for my sake, so as not to forget these things. So for now, it'll wait.

In the meantime, be sure to pop over to the actual blogs if you're on a reader. Braska and I both have new winter layouts, including my first attempt at pictures IN the background setting. See what you think.

We had a good Christmas. One at my family's place on Christmas Eve and one at M's family's on Christmas Day. No overnight stays this year, and that was nice. Both gatherings were fun. Both taught us a few little lessons. Both showed us things that help us gain insight into our own lives. Both brought up good talking points on the way home. We agree that this was a nice Christmas. And that pleases me. I hope yours was really great too.

And this is my favorite little part of Christmas...


Do you see it? It's a glimpse of the future, and it looks pretty good to me.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lessons learned: Dec 23 shopping

So much for not having to do any Christmas shopping. Granted, I had to do very little in comparison to most, but still. There were a few things I needed to go pick up, so I did....last night. Yeah, you might be able to see the problem.

Some things I noted...
~It's just wrong to go Christmas shopping when one is grouchy. (Why grouchy? That's a later post.)
~It is NOT right for it to be raining for hours on end on December 23. That's wrong. It should be snow. If I'm going to be in and out of 4 stores, I shouldn't have to deal with being soaking wet, just enjoying the soft falling snow. Really!
~It is no fun at all to deal with busy shopping crowds, a cart full of stuff, and a very far parking space when the big symptom of this 8-month-old pregnancy is very sore hip joint issues. And in the rain...did I mention?!? Then factor in 3 more stops... ow!! is how I felt when I got home.
~When you don't know what you want, but it's in the toy section...that's just plain bad. No one there seems to know what they want. So they all just stand around like me, saying "Excuse me" over and over as we all jockey for position for some item we think will just jump out at us.
~When it's quiet in the store restroom, then someone starts talking all excitedly....that's weird. Then you realize they're on the phone. In the stall. Also a little weird.
~You can get really cute Christmas cards for next year at 50% off already! One fun thing... And no, I didn't do them this year. Don't feel left out. No one got them. Sorry.
~Google doesn't always tell you properly where a store is... good thing the sign was big and I had a fair idea what area it was in.
~And I waddle. I officially waddle, which is just unacceptable, but I can't seem to do anything about it. Maybe it's that hip pain thing, maybe it's something else. But as I was approaching glass doors that reflected enough for me to see myself walking toward them...there it was. The waddle. How sad.

Ah well, I got what I needed to get, mostly. Now to go find the boxes and wrap some goodies.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Prego update Week 33

Because so many of you are more interested than I expected in the progress of this pregnancy... here's some quick info.

~I'm going every 2 weeks now. Just to the OB. Done with the MFM.
~As of yesterday, I've gained 8 lbs. Yes, 8 lbs. And that's 21 lbs more than with Braska at this point. (I'd lost 13 lbs at this point with her....but that was a whole different story.)
~Everything has been good, no causes for concern. My blood pressure was up just a tad this time, but still in a safe, normal range.
~There is still discrepancy on the exact due date. I'm going with earlier than they are, but we'll see. Still probably looking at week 2 of February.
~The achy sore stuff that's been bothering me for a couple months is still around, guess it's just something to deal with this time around. It's no fun, but we'll live.
~Kinlee's moving alot. ALOT. Braska did too, then she was mello on this side...hope we get a repeat of that. Wishful thinking, I know...
~Overall, we're moving right along.

Oh, and so many ask if we're "excited"... what in the world does that mean? Honestly? I just think I must be missing something, or maybe just to practical or something. I don't feel excitement. I feel a need to get ready, but mostly we don't think about any of it...just work on getting through each day. We're less prepared than I thought we'd be at this point, but we'll just wing it, I guess.

And one more thing, no, I don't do belly pics. That's weird, to me. Maybe I'll take one before she comes, but I don't know if I'll post. And it won't be a skin pic, no way. Plus I'm not a cute prego with a basketball belly... Braska's pediatrician was shocked to learn that I was pregnant yesterday. Good times....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Your opportunity to help NOW

I just found out about a need, and you can help. Yes, even you over there!

The Newbold family is in the Ukraine right now to bring home their little girl with DS. They had a daughter with DS who died from leukemia at age 2. They have since committed to adopt two children, one is home, and now they are there to get little Dasha. I don't know them at all, but they are working through Reece's Rainbow. They have just learned that the amount they were told by the government to have ready is incorrect, and they are short $2000. They also have to come home without their daughter, for the second time, as they can't get the final adoption process done until next month now. So more plane tickets must be purchased. And so their expenses are sudden and significant. I can't imagine how devastated they must be! And how difficult when they thought they would be coming home with their best Christmas present!!

I gave right away. I just had to. This is what our community of blogland is all about, support in whatever form is needed. I ask you to pray, primarily, that they will be able to overcome these obstacles. And I ask unapologetically that you give, even $5.00 will be so helpful. Please bless this family and share your encouragement on their blog.

Thank you.

Colded in? (Preface to Google Reader users)

(Google Reader users: I'm publishing this at 1:52 pm CST. What time did it show up on your Reader? Ball park estimate? Anyone know why it would be taking hours to post to the feed reader?? Braska's site posts immediately to Reader, but this one takes up to 7 hours lately...just this past week. Ideas?? I'm researching, but no answers yet.)
____________________________
Is that a thing? Can you be colded in, like snowed in? I don't know, but that's how I feel. It's currently 8 degrees outside and windy. And yep, we're still sick. Grrrrrrr...

This is day 11 people. Day 11! Of a cold? I'm starting to get very frustrated!

Either Braska and I are just handing it back and forth, or we're missing the cause of the symptoms. But this is just plain ridiculous. We opted out of church this morning, though I hate to miss Christmas Sunday especially (I hate to miss any Sunday really...screws up the week in my brain.) because I can't see it being a good idea to possibly spread germs or take a snotty little one out in the below-zero wind chill weather. So here we are. At the moment, I'm feeling a little better, but every night it gets bad again, very sore throat, cough in the night, then I spend the first 45 minutes awake coughing and hacking trying to get all that gunk out of my lungs. Ridiculous!

I did get a shower this morning, and I put on my flannel Christmas tree PJ's to lounge in today. I've got a hot drink, and I'm trying to work on the kitchen. But more likely is the plan that I'll be feet up in the recliner with some football on. If only football and flannel could cure me...

Braska is still running like crazy from the schnozola. It's clear, not cloudy or yellow anymore, so that's nice. It's gone into her chest too, so she's coughing more and hacking up gunk in the morning too. She's loving the hot bath each morning which helps her get alot of that out, though. She's developed a rash today all over her trunk and up her neck, but oh well. If we're still bad tomorrow, we'll head to the doctor before the holiday....at least for her. I don't want to be around family if she's still compromised to catch something worse and can be sharing icky germs with others. That could make for a lonely holiday.

Here's hoping that your house is germ-free!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On giving and receiving with thanks

After a recent post on giving, I want to clarify a few things, and expound upon a few more. In the midst, I'll answer a few questions...they're not in the comments, don't feel like you have to go look.

First, on Christmas gifts-- I'm SO not opposed to gifting in general! I love to buy gifts for people. I love to buy stuff for people all year round, just whenever I see something that someone might like or has mentioned. I love to go all out on birthdays and anniversaries for M. And up until a couple years ago, I was also all about buying Christmas gifts. It's not that I am NOT into it now, it's just that we have found that we cannot afford to do as we previously could. (That whole gave-up-half-our-income-thing.) Some of it is the actual number and math, and some is just priorities. And we also found that many of our gifts, though appreciated, were not needed and in some cases were in the way or more hassles than helps. Our family had a big yard sale this fall, and more than once during that day, different people mentioned how this or that item was a gift from someone. Some of them were Christmas last year from within the family! It wasn't that we didn't like them or were ungrateful, it simply became a matter of space and clutter issues in most cases. That struck me though... why do we sometimes hunt and search and go into debt for gifts that aren't really needed at all?

It's fun to give. It's fun to watch someone get excited about something you chose for them or that you knew they really hoped for. I'm not saying we should all give that up for good. I'm just thinking it's time to be more prudent with gifts. Often, we would end up with a whole pile of gifts to open on Christmas. Many would be great, some were ok, some were not at all what we wanted or needed, but there they were. I'd much prefer one or two gifts that I really wanted or needed. For kids, it's so fun to load up on all kinds of things, but I want my girls to be appreciative of even one or two fun things for Christmas instead of feeling disappointed if there are only a few things. And really...what was Braska's favorite part of her birthday gifts and party?? The balloons that were bought for maybe one dollar, blown up, and the people sitting and just playing with them with her. She still plays with them every day. She bypasses all her neat electronic toys and gadgets and goes for the balloons. And give her an empty box?!? She's all about it. It won't always be that way, but I want to move gradually up, not by leaps and bounds each year.

So I'm not anti-gift giving, don't think it at all. I just want to be reasonable about it, and if someone else needs something more, I want to be able to readily give up my gifts for them. That's what I want my girls to grow up learning.

Reece's Rainbow-- I like this organization for many reasons. I'd love everyone I know to give to them, sure. But are you a bad person if you don't give to RR? No, of course not. I'm simply trying to make the point that it's popular to talk about the "less fortunate" and it's easy to put a buck in here or there to a can at the checkout or the Salvation Army kettles (which are also a good thing). YET very few people actually give a portion of their intake that causes any feeling or adjustment. Many politicians who are all about programs and government help give less than 1% of their income to charities of any kind. That's ridiculous, to me. Government is never going to be the difference-maker for this stuff. It's going to be you and me choosing to give to those in need, and doing it in a real way, not a token way.

Receiving--We have been blessed by MANY people in our lives, but especially in the last two years. When Braska was born and her heart diagnosis got around, it was truly overwhelming to see the support we received. Her medical benefit fund was set up and still exists today. People who didn't know us at all gave money. The majority of people donating were from M's work. It was a fairly large employer in town, and the nature of his job meant everyone there knew who he was, even if they didn't know him personally. They gave in a truly amazing way.

We also had many meals given to us, household chores done, and lots of gifts of useful items that we needed with all the back and forth to the NICU and such. Many churches contributed from all over the country, as we are blessed to have contacts and friends in most every state. It was really humbling and so encouraging to be given so much when we were too tired, shocked, and just preoccupied to properly thank everyone. In the last couple years, our families have helped us in many ways, from financial, to lending helping hands, to providing housing when we needed it, to just helping us function through busy times. We've received substantial gifts to Braska's fund even in the last year from family and friends. Every time, it has been at JUST the right time to meet a need we had with Braska.

We are so very blessed. I do not take it lightly. I take time every single day to thank God for what we have, specifically and by name...from our home to our cars to our families to His providence and direction. I view it as a responsibility to "pay it forward" and be sure to give help in whatever way is needed whenever we can. We cannot meet every need. But we can try to be a good example of making giving to others in need a priority, not an afterthought.

"Going without"-- I mentioned in the recent post that we have not had to go without and that I didn't think we would. That does NOT mean that we have not or will not have to do without things we would like to have in order to keep up with our commitments to giving. I do not believe in a system of giving that always returns financial or material dividends. Some people are generous and give sacrificially and it hurts, in a way. But I know those people do not feel shorted or wish they didn't share with others. Blessings can come in a million ways, and sometimes the greatest ones come hidden amongst hard lessons and difficult times. I don't want to ever make it sound like if we do some magic right thing, all will be well and we'll not ever have bad days. That's not how this life works. But we know that everything we "invest" in others will have a great return in some way, even if we do not see it.

It's often hard to watch those in my life who can give and choose not to. It's no fun to see money spent on frivilous things with no benefit when it could make ALL the difference in another life. I suppose it's always hard to feel strongly about something and see those who you think are like-minded opt to do things differently, especially when it affects the good of other people. But that is again how life goes. We cannot request people share with others. We can only share a need and pray they see the benefit. It's an issue I still struggle with often, reminding me how much I still have to learn. My job is not to convince, my job is simply to inform. The responsibility is then in the hands of the hearer.

The great news is that many people want to share with others. Many people truly enjoy helping others. That is what we lean on, knowing that when given the opportunity, most choose to share, be it their time, money, knowledge, or love. And that's what will make our world better all year and as we move into our future. It's not just about Christmas... it's about a way to live.

A crazy slow mend

I'm so tired of being sick. But I suppose that goes with the territory. Today makes it a week for this bout of cold and cough for me, though it's been it's worst the last few days. And I just went through this whole thing about 10 days ago. Grrrrr. Thankfully the stomach element was only around for that one night, but I took it super easy for the next 24 hours just to be sure. That stuff is miserable!! This is more than I've been sick in the last year!

Braska is still dealing with a runny nose and today it sounds like it's getting into her chest some. We're doing all the recommended things, and I just keep hoping we'll kick it soon. I'm disinfecting like crazy, hoping we don't keep reinfecting ourselves. M hasn't succumbed to it yet, so that's very good.

So we'll keep up the sanitizing, nose blowing, sinus rinsing, lots of fluids, rest when we can, and hope and pray that this is over very soon. Here's hoping your house can avoid it!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Direct Line

This morning I made the call. It's sometimes called the Mom Call, or the Grammy Call. It's the call to my mother to come. I always wait as long as I can and avoid it whenever possible. I have to deal with things, everyone does. But when it's about Braska's health, in any way, the call gets made.

Braska has been sick with a cold, her first real cold in her life, since about last Thursday afternoon. She's been pretty much a champ, with a bit of grouchy mixed in, but overall, not too bad an attitude considering the goo coming out of her poor nose. I managed to keep things manageable for me with lots of disinfecting and hand sanitizer, etc. But it got me. This weekend was rough since we were both sick and M went to C-U to game it up with the guys. We got sick of each other in the midst of our sickness, but we made it through.

Braska's well check (not AS well as I'd like) was yesterday at her pediatrician. We got the all-clear on the big stuff and the famous rest, fluids, suctioning, humidifier, saline, etc for the cold elements. As expected. No problem. Braska's seems to be letting up a tad, but it's still a'flowin' from the nose. And last night I was up for a few hours with the oh-so-fun onset of some variety of stomach bug. Being sick and close to 8 months pregnant is no fun, no surprise there.

So this morning, the call was made. I just can't have Braska getting this stomach part. It's the worst I've had in quite some time. Mom knows what an 8am call from me means... and she was ready to go by the time she answered the phone.

Thanks Dad, J, R, and J for letting her come up. Now we pray we can all get better and no one else gets this icky stuff.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Great gifts for therapists, Angel Tree 2008

I just went and made my second round of "gift buying" at Reece's Rainbow. We did this last year and are doing it again. The response from our team last year was amazing.

Alot of us buy for Sunday School teachers, school teachers, therapists, daycare providers, etc. It's can be a chore to find the right thing, and if we admit it, most often what we give is either edible (not that it's bad!) or it's a dust collector. The thought is nice, but who really benefits? So we started last year with donating to Reece's Rainbow in honor of our therapists and service coordinator. They were so touched, and a couple of them actually ended up paying it forward and using the idea for some of their gifting as well. I heard from more than one of them that they get so many nice things, but they really don't *need* any of it, so this was a way to be appreciated but have it help someone who really DOES need it. I just gave them Christmas cards with a note inside that we'd made a donation in their honor and stating our appreciation for their work. So simple, but so very well received.

Please check out the adorable faces of kids who are still looking for homes. (Click on the picture below) You can even get an ornament with the child's picture that you've donated toward if you do it today (the 15th).



I give to RR frequently and significantly. I don't say that for any pat on the back, it's not about that. It's about putting our money on what's important. It's about stopping just the talking about how we are all supposed to help others and put those with needs first and actually DOING it.

I hear people talking about if you have "extra" to give to RR or other great causes. I appreciate any plug to help others. But I don't know anyone who thinks they have "extra" money. I know that I don't. We're literally cutting back on everything from what brand of milk we buy, to eliminating some of our "fun stuff" that we don't really need, to keeping our house less toasty warm in order to simply make ends meet each month. We're not doing Christmas gifting with family, (which is more than fine with me since I feel like Christmas gifts should be for kids anyway...all us adult siblings can buy whatever we might want so gifting becomes a hassle and stress to try to find something they haven't already bought for themselves, but I digress) and I don't miss it because to me Christmas is not about the gifts at all. It's about yummy meals and pretty lights and having fun and mostly about celebrating Christ's birth and the true gift that is to all of us.

Regardless of what the bottom line in the checkbook says, I make room for giving. We've never gone without. I don't expect we will. God always blesses us, not necessarily monetarily, of course, but in whatever way, it's more than worth it. It means I don't get the Chinese food every time I want. It means I only have one pair of maternity jeans. It means we eat alot of the same cheap food at home. And I don't mind one bit. These kids don't have any of that, and if they don't find homes, they may not even have their lives. Institutions are no fun, and that may be their future. It is just that simple to me.

So you may not have extra. You may have already done your shopping. But do you have something that could make a difference to a child's entire life, not just their playtime habits for the next few days? Will Braska wish we'd have given her some toy this year or will she benefit more from knowing that her parents value people and especially children who need to be spoken up for?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Couldn't quit with one

So..... it seems wrong to update my blog and be all pretty when Braska's is just so-so, hence a new background on hers. And, even though most of you probably didn't realize it yet, Kinlee has one too...just getting ready for when we need it to share news and pics. There won't be any new stuff on there for a bit, but you reader-readers can set the appropriate subscription settings if you're so interested. And we can't leave her out, so she's got a new look too.

I have to go to bed. I can't believe I stayed up to do this stuff!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

First blog background!!

After many, many hours of playing around and researching a few things, I have finally completed my first original blog background and header.

In all fairness, this is a compilation of a few freebies from digital scrapbooking sites, so I didn't create the elements, but I did finally figure out how to put them together in the correct format for blog background use. It seemed SO basic and simple when people use The Cutest Blog on the Block and such places for backgrounds. And that's not a slam against them! No! I just like to play with this stuff, both the digi-scrapping and the html codes, css sheets, etc, so I figured I could come up with something.

So if you're in a reader, come on over and take a peek when you have a minute. There's still room for improvement and some bugs I need to figure out (so if you see something screwy in your viewing screen size or something, let me know), but for now, I'm pretty pleased with my first attempt!

I could SO spend hours and days doing nothing but this. Have to put the laptop down. Must get up and clean kitchen.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Honeymoon is over

Ok, it's not a honeymoon with a new, peaceful, compliant, baby girl. But still. This oh-so-easy little girl who has lived with us for the past 2 years has somehow morphed into a little grouch. And in the process, she has shared this contagion with her mother, who is now becoming one as well.

Is it teeth? Maybe. She's got a runny nose, like crazy. She so rarely has had one that I always try to find a good reason. She is WAY restless. No sitting still to play a while. Fussing when she's corrected. Heck, *needing* to be corrected!

Is it turning 2? I've always said it's not fair that we don't get a delay for 2 since we have all the other delays. She's shown some attitude, but it's pretty manageable prior to this week. Suddenly, she's becoming a bit of a pain in the rear at times. I don't cotton to this, no sir.

Alright, I know there are several of you who are laughing or rolling your eyes at me. If you know Braska personally, you are thinking I'm ridiculous. She's so darn well behaved at all times. She listens and minds. Yeah! That has been the case. I hope we return to that, but for now... this little booger is driving me nuts. Gradual, that would be a nice way to transition. But this all at once change to a stubborn toddler with a snotty nose... no fun.

And yes, I know. My world is soon to be rocked by a kid who cries and throws fits for no reason and actually *requests* to eat. My life as a mother with smooth sailing and happy, contented, quiet days are apparently over. Laugh if you must. Enjoy my coming-of-age. It's ok. I know I've had it good. I know many of you have said repeatedly to "just wait." In the overall scheme of things, this is nothin'. But that doesn't mean it's any fun!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

IFSP fun

I just put up some info on our IFSP meeting from Monday on Braska's blog. It went well. I feel like we're in a good spot.

And let me say, that's no small thing. It's nice to feel like some aspect of life is in good shape and under control. It's not like my life is bad, no way. Just that it's good to be able to check one more thing off. Braska's in good hands, and we have a good plan. I'm thankful for our team, and I appreciate how much they like my girl!

You moms or parents who have the privilege of doing these IFSP/IEP meetings...do you like them, dread them, go with the flow, or have a planned agenda of things to accomplish and change at each one? Apparently, some parents never have much input, just going with whatever the team says. It's good to trust your team, but I'm surprised that the parents wouldn't have things to say in regards to what they want for their child that the therapists may not be privy to.

Just curious...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

So sorry, Mr. Lincoln

Governor Blagojevich arrested for corruption.

What? No way!?! I just can't believe it. Say it ain't so.... Another situation of shady Chicago politicians? And he seemed so trustworthy. (Ok, I can't get that last one out with a straight face.)

Oh, Illinois...how far thee have fallen. So so sad. But are there more surprises to come? Wait for it.... I fear more big fish may be snagged in this net.

We move away for a few months and the whole state falls apart!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Guess who's home?? (and related stories)



After close to 7 months in little poo foster care, yesterday Braska and I drove to Springfield, IL to meet up with Nancy and Andrea for the transfer. Some of you will remember when she left back in May. It was harder on me than I thought it would be. And it was a last minute decision not to take her when we moved to the apartment, so that made it hard to. She went to stay with David and Ella, but things there required a change after a few weeks, and my buddy Andrea's mom Nancy was willing and glad to take her. It was a good match, and I was very happy to see her get to hang out at the family compound. (Well, maybe not a compound, but since Andrea, Chad, Josiah, and the twins live next door to her parents, Nancy and Ron, it's a mini-compound....in a good way!!)

I was pleased that Belle had such a good home. Belle's been hanging there for these months, learning to use the pet door, doing some fishing, and spending time at both houses. I was fine with her having found her new home for good--though I always included the option of her coming back to us if there were problems or situations changed. So now work schedules are different and they're not home quite as regularly. And the LAST thing Andrea needs is more little feet and high-maintenance small beings to deal with and feed. (She's like a super mom with 6 arms!) So it was a good time for Belle to come home. Things are settled here, as much as possible, and the timing worked out well.

We headed out in the morning to go get Braska's glasses, at least her back-up frames with new lenses, and to also drop off her everyday frames for the lens switch. Then we took off for the rendezvous. Nancy and Andrea were SO SO wonderful to drive almost half the distance for me to meet in the middle and save me alot of time in the car and the figuring of how we'd get all the way back up to C-U land to get the little poo in this crazy season. Braska got to use her new present from Rachel to help pass the time... Baby Einstein in the car was AWESOME if you ask her! She has never had such a fun drive. Belle was pretty happy to see us, apparently having not completely forgotten us. She rode really well on the way home (she just loves to travel in the car) and then set out to explore her new house.

Here's where things went not as smoothly... Braska was not much for this new situation. She apparently doesn't remember all the good times that they had together back in the day. She watched Belle suspiciously as I took her back and changed her diaper. Then I tried to introduce them by having Belle come over and say hello. She wasn't crazy all over or anything like I expected. She seems to have mellowed some, which is ok. But Braska had no interest in making nice. She spent the next hour very anxious and on my lap in the chair, very still and clingy. When M walked in, Belle went to greet her, of course, and she barked a couple times. Braska lost it. Daddy got her calmed down, but she was not happy. Belle stayed home in the kitchen while we went to the in-laws' for Ethon's birthday dinner. We managed fine when we got home, as it was late and Braska went right to bed.

The good news is that today is much better. We did a little "puppy therapy" this morning, practiced pat pat on Belle, and taught her to say "No, Belle." So things have gone well today. Only one little spell when Belle barked at M arriving back from a trip out this morning. It was short-lived, and she's been fine with Belle hanging out on the floor with her today. She's especially fond of the water and food dish....but of course. Now, will Braska figure out that she can fit through the pet door????

Thursday, December 4, 2008

First snow excitement!

I was SO happy to peek out the window Sunday morning and see this....

These are some trees across the street. I just love the snow on trees. Love love love it.


This is a view out our back door, past the deck. Hammock stand with no hammock. That's good. Forgot to bring Braska's swing in quite yet... oops.


Here's the house, all nice and snowy like. The driveway must have been just warm enough for it not to stick. When I went to wake M up all giddy like, he groaned because he thought he was gonna have to shovel. I assured him this would be his favorite snow...only pretty, not in the way.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Point taken... good news first next time

Sorry to scare so many of you... I didn't think about anything other than the chronological events of the last post. My bad. There was never any great fear or concern on our part, so I am sorry to cause stress or "freaking out" to any of you! Thank you for all your kind words, though. We love having so many people love our little princess.

Next time I'll start with ALL IS WELL!!

Little call, big letters

This will make more sense to you DS moms and families out there... I apologize for the cryptic nature, but you'll have to trust my reasoning.

Braska had a lab draw on Tuesday last week. The GI called me Wednesday and said there were some significantly elevated levels in the results. Ok fine. Not like we've never had an abnormal lab. But then he used *those* words...the C word and the L word. Said he'd be talking to hem/onc. We needed to go redraw on Friday morning. We didn't freak or anything, but when I hung up the phone, I thought, "Wow, so that's what it's like the first time they mention it."

We took her for her draw again on Friday morning, and we figured everything was fine since we got no call over the weekend. Yesterday I checked in with them. Dr. R confirmed that everything was clear, almost in a "weird way," but they checked with the lab to make sure it was a viable result. All is well. Follow up in 6 months as usual unless there are concerns.

We're thankful every day, and especially so now.

Monday, December 1, 2008

December denial

Aaaarrrggghhhh!!! It's December, people! What???

I know I'm behind, and I have no great excuses...just the regular ones like holidays, traveling, squirmy human kicking my insides... you know. I did finally get the updates on Braska's day-o'-docs on her blog, so if you are interested, you can check that out, in part 1 and part 2.

I've got some pics to put up of our first snow. I love snow! I was so excited yesterday to wake up and see it outside! But the camera is in M's car where I left it, so that will have to wait for now.

We've been off of therapies for 2 weeks, and I have to say....I'm liking it. But we're back this week, and that's good, I guess. I sure enjoyed the break though. Not that I don't like our therapy team, but it's been nice to not have to remember who is coming when and pick up the house and sit through the sessions. Braska's been doing great, so I don't think she's really missed it either.

I'm still working on Kinlee's room, it's got a ways to go to get organized. And December means we're two months away! Last Monday Braska and I made a day trip and went over to Jessie's place in Mid-MO to pick up Braska's clothes that adorable Lillie is done with. And her clothes had multiplied!! We came home with alot more than we left there... very cool, Jessie! I did get them organized into size groups but not yet put away and such. We had a very nice visit with Jessie's crew, Mom H, and the gang at the church. There are a few die-hard Braska fans in the bunch, so when we make the trip over there, we make sure to sign a few autographs. Or at least give a hug or two. We went to lunch, and I think I talked poor Jessie's ear off. Adult conversation can bring out a flood when it's so darn rare!! Her boys were so great with Braska, and she loved playing cars with them and basically basking in the center of attention while Lillie was napping. It was a nice day, and Braska slept all the 90-minute-way home.

Yesterday, my sister called and said she was going to run some errands, so she came by and picked me up. She brought an early Christmas present for Braska and Kinlee... she has a habit of such things. But now for our longer trips, the girls (just Braska for now) will get to watch a little Signing Time or Baby Einstein in the car. Very cool!!! We went to do a little adding to Rach's registry for the wedding in May. And we had to stop off for her regular pedicure (They all know her in there...you can tell she's no stranger.) While I waited, since I'm not one to have people messing with my feet, I had a manicure (after some prodding) and got my brows done, which was way overdue. It was a nice little relaxing moment in the afternoon. Thanks, Rach.

So now it's Monday. We have nothing on the schedule. Braska had some sleeping issue last night and ended up in our bed. That's a BIG no-no in this house, because I can't sleep when she's in there. M was nice enough to let her be on his side, so I did get some rest. I think he lost a little sleep, but overall, we survived. We are going to have to do some work this month to help her be able to put herself back to sleep. She has been a great sleeper for 2 years, so I'm not really complaining that we have to put in some time...I'm just so tired for now to be the time to do it. It's still snowing a little, which is so peaceful. We don't have to go anywhere today, so we'll finish the good cleaning I started this weekend, and we'll just be. Tomorrow Braska has 2 more appointments, then Wednesday we start back in with therapy. I'll enjoy the downtime for today though.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One seriously long day

I can't even fathom going through the details right now, but I need to for good record keeping. It will have to wait. I left the house at 8:03am and returned home at 7:05 pm. And I don't live 3 hours away anymore!! These days usually go so smoothly...but the honeymoon is over. This will be the last day we do the full day of visits. We moved here to be close, so we'll not do more than 2 or maybe 3 on the same day from here on out.

Today's accomplishments:
ENT--Check
DS specialist--Check
Cardiology--Check
Echocardiogram--Check
Eye center--Check
GI--Check
Audiology--Check
Lab--Check

Braska did marvelously, with some understandable rough spots. But she was great overall. And thank God that my mother-in-law came along... what a day.

Details later, probably on Braska's blog in the next few days. Ahhh! And I still haven't talked about our good day yesterday... I'll get there. Sometime soon.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rested... for now

We've had a rough couple nights. Braska's birthday party went well. I'll get to that later, but soon I hope. But last night, Braska went to bed at 8pm (quite early, and without full feeds for the day) and I hit the pillow at about 8:45pm. M came in then too, because none of us have had good regular sleep for a bit. He was out in 2 seconds. I laid there til about 10 before falling asleep, but still. I expected Braska to wake up super early since it was an early to bed, but she slept til just after 7:15am and I slept till right around then. Not a bad deal. I'm up with visions of grandeur for things to accomplish today... we'll see.

Tomorrow is a crazy busy day, 7 appointments at Children's DS Center and various specialists, from 8:45am til about 4pm. Thank goodness for my mother-in-law coming along to help occupy and be extra hands through the day!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

1 for 2 can be a success

I didn't get to the store, but I did get some work done on the house tonight. We did venture out long enough to run through a drive-thru for lunch. That's something...

Tomorrow's a big day. I keep feeling like I should have all these wonderful things to say. But I don't. I don't feel bad about it. Maybe something will hit me later, but for now...yay, she's 2!

Now to get the cake made, the pictures scheduled, and the rest of the house cleaned up...

Is it THAT bad?

It's Thursday. I've not been out of the house since Sunday afternoon. Like not even to the garage. Not even to get the mail.

I need to go to the store...badly. Maybe I'll get to it this afternoon. I guess I have to, actually. Tomorrow is Braska's birthday and some of the fam is coming by for cake and ice cream. We've been out of milk for two days. Pathetic.

I've been fighting off a cold with a nasty lingering cough for a week now. Thankfully Braska hasn't had anything more than a runny nose here or there for an hour or so. She's been great about playing this week, but she's getting bored, I think, and we've read all her books a zillion times. This kid could read books all day! Surprise, surprise...just like her dad once again. At least Kinlee's been behaving. Doing her jigs throughout the day. That is, except in the morning when I'm hacking up a lung. She does not care for such things at all. But can you blame her. What must that sound like on her end??

I suppose I should just concede the state of my house to be what it will be for the next....I don't know...3 to 5 years? I'm so thankful that M's been helping with laundry. Big time.

This afternoon we'll go to the store and we'll straighten up the house. I'm putting it out there. Hold me to it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nursery #2

Slowly we're getting Kinlee's room together. Everyone likes to ask if we're "ready" and such.

Will they share a room?
What's the theme?
Do you have colors picked out?
Are you moving Braska to a toddler bed?

They're typical questions. No, they won't share a room. No way. Braska is a good sleeper, and I'm not taking any chances on jeopardizing that. Theme? Colors? Nope. Not really. Well the room was half white and half green when we moved in with Noah's ark border, so I figured we'd make that work.


I didn't like it, but we didn't have anything else really, and I wasn't going to go spend money on a whole new decor. Then as I was trying to clean out the room that had become the main floor storage area after we moved in, I saw a corner of the border was barely peeling, so I thought I'd give it a tug. Whatta ya know?!? Two walls came off in one sheet! It was amazing! I took it as a sign and started making plans.

What made it easier to plan was that our friends Jason and Sarah had brought us a complete bedding set with valance and mobile a few weeks ago. We never had an "official" matching set with Braska. So why not paint the room and have a cute little nursery after all??

So Saturday, my sister Rachel came over and spent several hours priming and painting the room. She did the whole thing herself. She even moved one seriously huge piece of furniture that we still can't manage to put back yet.


Here's what it looked like post-painting. That's Braska's new crib in the box.


We got Braska a new crib to match her dresser/changing table. It's a convertible crib/toddler bed/full size headboard and footboard that will basically be her bed for life...unless she decides to buy another one later. She'll be in the crib version of this bed for some time, I'm quite sure. As long as she fits and doesn't mind, I'm in no hurry at all to get her out of the crib. I wouldn't be surprised at all if she's in it another couple years. We'll see, but I wouldn't mind. It helps that she's so tiny, of course.

So today I decided to take down Braska's old crib and move it into Kinlee's room to set things up. I hate stuff being in chaos, even though I tend to live like that lately, so I figured this was a small part I could get done.

It's hard to see light colors, but the walls are a really pretty lavendar color. Everything except the crib frame and the shelf, including the crib mattress, are from Jason and Sarah. Thank you guys!!!!!


With flash and without...neither do it quite justice, but you get the idea. (The walls look blue with the flash...it's not at all blue!)


And of course the cute window valance.


And then tonight, M tackled the job of assembling the new crib for Braska. She LOVED it. She went to each side and touched the slats, knocked on the sides, and just giggled.


So special thanks to Rach, Jason, Sarah, and M for helping us make some real headway!

Random Questions, Fall 08: 5



(Woo Hoo... a new RQ logo!)

Random Questions, Fall 08: #5 Hot or Cold?

The Random Questions process

~Choose one or all of the questions to answer.
~Either respond with a comment to this post with your answer or put up a post on your own blog for a full response.
~Don't forget to include any funny or interesting story to illustrate your answer in action.
~Be sure to leave a comment on this post to let us know where to find your post so we can come check it out!

1. What do you set your thermostat on in the winter? A toasty 78, chilly 62, or somewhere in between? Is it different from night to daytime?

2. Has this changed over the years? Are you adjusting your heat use this year due to heat costs/financial frugality?

3. If you have kids, are they cooperative with dressing warmer for the chilly times or do they still prefer to be in the least clothing possible?

4. What is your favorite item of cold-weather clothing?

_____________________________________________

1. We have our thermostat set on 66. Sometimes in the daytime if I'm feeling chillier than normal, I'll put it up to maybe 68. At night, it's back to 66 though. I love to be a bit cool in the sleeping time. Bundled up under comfy covers is good, but I often get too warm still and end up with them pushed back. M, on the other hand, cannot hardly BE too warm. He has a zillion pillows and covers to keep him toasty.

2. We are going for a cooler indoor temp this winter due to our overall spending-less situation with my not working. It's been fine so far. Not bad at all. Our first apartment after we got married was on the top floor in an old building, and we didn't hardly have to use heat. The place was always close to 80 in the winter no matter what the outside temp. I thought that was TOO hot, but M loved it. Then we we bought our house and had to start paying for our heat, we kept it at about 72 or so, down to 69 during the day when M was at work, as I didn't mind it. We had a fireplace that we used alot too to heat the room we spent alot of time in.

3. Braska is pretty cooperative. I leave her in the blanket sleeper she sleeps in for alot of the days when we're just at home all day. She doesn't like to leave socks on her feet, thanks to her father teaching her how to take them off, so her feet get cold if I'm not careful. Otherwise, she likes her hats for when we go out, and she does well with sleeping with her blanket. She actually doesn't seem to mind being cold at all, when she gets the chance... kind of strange.

4. I love sweats for the cozy at-home days, and I like my "cute boots" for fall and winter. Unfortunately, I've had to give them up (the boots) this season. My poor feet just don't do well in the heels this year. We're sticking with my comfy running shoes most of the time. Oh well...I don't think many people really seem to care what's on my feet anyway.

Ok people, DO tell!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cuz I'm not online enough!

I've known about digital scrapbooking for a while and purposely avoided learning about it. I knew I'd be addicted. I knew it would eat up time. I knew it would become something I'd want to work on forever and re-do and re-do again.

I got frustrated today when trying to rework the blogs and their themes, so I decided I'd investigate doing my own. I'm familiar with HTML a tiny bit, I can work my way through a variety of such things, so I thought I could research it and at least come up with something.

DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! DANGER!

Now, two hours of downloading, arranging, and playing later..... my first digital layout. It's not great, I'm not even sure I like it, but it was fun, and I'm getting a better idea of what I want.


I like to have a starting point to look back on... even if it's not good.

And the good news is, I have also started to learn enough to do my blogs. Just have to find the time for that....it's not tonight!

Then and now: 8 years

We didn't have any actual pictures of us on our wedding day, just us, so this is a crop. (One area where our super-cheap plan went TOO cheap.)
11/11/00


And last night at dinner... of course, Olive Garden. It's kind of our place, plus Braska likes the marinara sauce.
11/11/08


My sister Rachel and her fiance' Patrick joined us for dinner, and we had a nice time. Today we start year 9... one day at a time. Sometimes one hour at a time. Lord, continue to guide us and remind us daily that you are the center of our hope for a future.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Made it to 8 years

Happy Anniversary, M. Go Team!

Today's our 8th anniversary. I went back to see what I wrote about our 7th last year, and I didn't even post for a few days around it. But I suppose I'm not surprised after all. The last two anniversaries have not been all that happy, actually a little painful. So the fact that I'm posting is good, I guess, and the day looks promising. Is it about the day itself? No, of course not.

This year the achievement is that we've spent the whole year together, as a family, working toward the same goals, and re-learning how to be married in a much healthier way. We've got a long way to go, but we've come SO far from the darkest days. There have been alot of things happening this past year, but we've made it through pretty well.

Today we're going to work on the house and go to dinner this evening. M offered to do some honey-do type things that are not his favorite, so that's very helpful. We'll get some things done that need to be, and that sure sounds good to me.

It's no small thing these days to be committed to a marriage. We've made it to this point with the help of many and in spite of a few. I had to find a new me in order to get here and remain sane. It's no longer about being a pushover or look-the-other-way kind of wife. I'm committed to this family. I have found a strength, and a balance between patience and courage. I pray to maintain that balance every night. I've still got alot to learn, but the future looks brighter than the past, and that's all I can ask for. I've learned not to take the little things for granted any longer.

God has given us countless little miracles to bring us back to this place. Here's to another positive year.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Play... in slow motion

Thanks to all of you who commented or emailed to check on me. To answer a few questions...

Yes, I'm still here.
No, I'm not pouting about the election, though I am trying to order my mind properly. More on that later. For now, I'm continuing to pray often for our leaders and our country as we move forward.
Yes, I had a rough week physically and emotionally.
No, I didn't go to the OB last Monday due to lack of a last minute Braska-helper, so I go tomorrow morning.
No, I didn't hop a plane for Timbuktu.

Physically--I'm so sore, and I become really achy super easily without doing much. It's very annoying. There are a few other symptoms as well that we'll keep discreet for now. It's beginning to get in the way of general daily things, so adjustments are being made. This was not at all the case with Braska. It's weird and frustrating, to be honest, but as long as Kinlee's ok through it all, we'll deal. M carries her for me whenever possible, and I just have to plan time on my feet in small doses. I thought it might be related to some projects from a couple weeks ago, but it's hung around too long to be due to that. We'll see if the OB has any thoughts tomorrow. I'm not really worried, but I would like to feel better for the next few months.

Emotionally--I'm guessing there have been some hormonal surges or maybe it's just me being tired from not sleeping well or something. But I've been more short-fused and easily angered/disappointed/frustrated by people lately. That's no good at all. Except for a few unfortunate people who have to deal with that from me more frequently for a variety of reasons, most know me to be pretty easy to get along with and very optimistic in general. So this is an unwelcome change, I'm sure. I've done pretty well about dealing without exploding, but I hope this roller coaster is about over!!

Blog-wise--I'm considering some options about content and how to balance staying interesting to at least a few and yet maintain my original purpose of being a place where I could observe and expound upon those observations. We'll see how that goes...

This should be an interesting week. Make it a good one, people.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pause

I've been sitting here for over an hour. It's not that there aren't things to say, it's just that suddenly the blogging thing seems so superficial.

For now, my thoughts and prayers will remain largely unpublished.

Lord, guide our leaders and light our way.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Was there a line??

I assume that you went to vote, either today or earlier if possible. I expect that of you, know that straight up. How long did you wait in line?? And throw in the state you voted in, just for fun. I'm really curious if all areas have a big wait or if it's just the more congested ones.

I voted Friday absentee/in person, and we waited about 15 mins or so. It moved VERY fast for a big line. There's just one place in our very populated county to do the absentee/in person voting, and it wasn't bad at all for what I thought it might be.

If you haven't, GO VOTE people... again, please just know what you're voting for, either way. You may just have to live with your choice. God Bless America!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

November is here

Fair warning...I'm not all that "with it" so who knows if this will be cohesive or not.

October went fast. I didn't get the whole post-every-day thing, but I did get in 31 total. Does that count for 31 for 21? I'm not going to stress over it, for sure. I did enjoy all the updates from all of you. But there were a few times when I felt posts were below par for my goals with this space. Not the end of the world, of course, but still...

November's going to be a busy one too. Tomorrow's the big day. Election day. I've already voted, thankfully, so that's nice. I can't tell you how happy I will be to not see another campaign ad of any kind. I've been praying often about this whole thing for months. No, that doesn't mean, "God, please don't let him win." That's not it at all. It means asking for peace and patience, as well as understanding that often history shows that nations are given what they ask for, even if it is not what is best overall. Sometimes that means we'll hurt for a while before we realize what is truly important. As a country, this could be a tough time. Honestly, it could be tough with either party winning. My hope is above all that we will realize that we are each accountable for our actions and choices. We live in a great country! And that is one thing, I don't have any desire to *change.*

After election day, we'll be looking toward our 8th wedding anniversary, my sister Julia's 13th birthday, my parents' 38th anniversary, Braska's 2nd birthday, a full day of appointments at Children's (7 hours, 7 appointments, one day), and finally Thanksgiving. Throw in 12 therapy appointments, 2 playgroups, 2 more dr appointments, and a smattering of other things on the calendar and we'll be busy.

It's getting overwhelming, I admit. I haven't felt well lately. It may just be the difference in pregnancies from one to the other. It probably has to do with having Braska around to play with, carry, deal with, and keep happy when I'd rather be napping. It's not some big problem, but it is interfering with life as I'd hoped it would be at this point in this pregnancy. I'm tempted to thin out our schedule a little just to keep caught up better, but I don't know if that would help or not. I go to the OB today for a regular check in. I'll let her know what's up, and she'll probably tell me it's just the way it is. But I'm just disappointed that I generally spend most of the day every day feeling tired and very achy. It's nothing that can't be dealt with, but it's still sometimes frustrating.

But time is flying, so we'll soon be to the next overwhelming stage of dealing with two kids out here in the open! Somehow, we'll figure it out. For now, I'll nap and rest when I can. I just miss having energy and actually *wanting* to do things outside the house.

So can someone go do some fun stuff and let me live vicariously through your experience?? Make it a good month, people!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Random Questions, Fall 08: 4



Fall 08, #4: Halloween

The Random Questions process
~Choose one or all of the questions to answer.
~Either respond with a comment to this post with your answer or put up a post on your own blog for a full response.
~Don't forget to include any funny or interesting story to illustrate your answer in action.
~Be sure to leave a comment on this post to let us know where to find your post so we can come check it out!

1. When it comes to Halloween, which are you? 1) All about it. 2) Don't really care. 3) Avoid it.

2. What's your favorite element of the Halloween season? Candy, pumpkins, costumes, or kids knocking on your door?

3. Which candy is the one you always hoped you'd get lots of when you did your trick-or-treating?

4. What's your favorite costume that you had, either long ago or recently?

5. If you've got kids who are dressing up, what are they gonna be this year?

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As for my answers... I'm not into Halloween. I'd fit in the "don't care" category. I love fall, and it was always fun to dress up as a kid and go around the neighborhood and such, but besides the candy, I could miss it and not be a bit sad. I tend to be a Halloween scrooge, lights off, going out to dinner or something during trick-or-treat hours. I'm just not a fan to opening the door to strangers over and over and over. Silly, maybe. But it's the truth.

My candy preferences were always Reece's cups and Twix! Still love them. In fact, I picked them out of Braska's take from Saturday's Trunk-or-Treat event. If she'd eat them, I would have shared!

My favorite costume was probably when I wore my mom's college cheerleading uniform. It was pretty big, as I was like in 5th grade, but it was fun. I don't know that any pics exist or I might consider sharing them. I remember being an indian princess once, I'm sure I was a panda at one time or another, and I think I remember a Cinderella type princess once too. I'd say the last time I dressed up was probably a little over 20 years ago.

Braska is a little duck this year. She had her first event last Saturday, in case you missed it. Tomorrow she's going to make a surprise appearance somewhere, and maybe we'll go to our church's fall festival tomorrow night...we'll see.

Be safe, people.... and don't make yourselves sick on all that candy!!

I'm glad we got that straight

I found this and was so surprised. Not at the content, but because I've conducted some of the same kind of surveys with people here and there, just in conversation, and found it so amusing. I didn't know someone had taken it to the next level and aired them. It's short and entertaining, so take a listen. (Don't be startled by the picture or voice...it's not foul or anything.)

I'll grant you this, it may be the case for both sides...but in my personal and unscientific experiments, I've found that there are far more on one side who are "riding the wave" you might say without knowing what's in the water beneath them. That's dangerous surfing, you know.

Get informed. Vote. Good things. Just know what you're voting for.

(Thanks, MH!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thank goodness for ABC?

I'm thankful for many things every day. Today, a highlight is cable television , and surprisingly enough, ABC tv! I'd have never thought ABC would be high on my list, but tonight, thank goodness. And luckily, Pushing Daisies is on at 7pm.

At least no one is wasting huge amounts of money or anything in this time of financial crisis. Holy Cow.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Intervention insight

I watch the show Intervention on A&E here and there. I've honestly learned alot about addictive personalities and how to deal with them, and that's been helpful in many ways actually. It's a disturbing show, I admit, and often times hard to watch people and their families endure addictions, but the intervention events are amazing. They don't always bring the outcome the family wants, but often they are successful.

This week, there was an episode that I found interesting. But one line caught my attention in a very sharp way. Jeff, the interventionist, asked the family this, as they were preparing for what their daughter's response might be...

Are you willing to have her hate you for the rest of her life as long as she gets better? If it's neat, great. If it's messy, fine. But we're going to do what we have to help her get better. Even if it hurts to walk away.

I used the rewind on my DVR about 3 times to listen to this again. What an amazing choice for parents, sisters, grandparents, and friends! Can you do what's best for her in the end, even if it means that she may hate you for doing it?

It might mean cutting her off. It might mean not responding to her calls when she is desperate. It might mean not bailing her out of really unpleasant situations. All horrible options, but in these situations, it's often necessary to get the addict to address their problem head-on.

This doesn't just apply to addicts. Addiction is most often due to an inability to cope with difficult situations or old wounds unhealed. Those circumstances can manifest in alot of ways prior to addiction, or at least an *obvious* addiction.

I have had to make a couple of horribly tough decisions like this, though not for quite the same reasons as on the show. It hurts, like no other hurt, but in my case, it was necessary and thankfully successful.

Sometimes we have to be tough to help. It's not fair, but it's true. Consider it once more...
Are you willing to have her hate you for the rest of her life as long as she gets better? If it's neat, great. If it's messy, fine. But we're going to do what we have to help her get better. Even if it hurts to walk away.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

31 for 21: Distraction dancer

Sunday mornings at church are Braska's special time with Daddy. She sits with him, he holds her during the music and she dances like a crazy girl when the band gets going and claps right along with everyone else. She always attracts attention from those around, and sometimes I feel like she's gonna burst with excitement. Speaking of which, we could use a bit more of that at church, couldn't we?!

Anyway, this week, like most others, she was having a ball. One lady directly behind us played with her, waved at her, and when we sat down for the sermon, she played little games with her. She'd put her hand on the back on the chair, and Braska would push it away and smile. Over and over. (I hope she is a multitasker, because it was a really great message, so I'd hate for her to have missed anything.) Braska usually falls asleep for part of the quieter parts, and then wakes at the end to dance a little more before we go. I haven't figured out a way to discreetly video this fun...but I sure want to. It's the most animated she gets, and it's no wonder people are drawn to the giggles, wiggles, and smiles. Each week after church, as we leave, we always have at least 3 or 4 people come over to mention that they were watching her and just loved seeing her dance and cuddle with Daddy. I see it as a nice way that she makes people smile on a Sunday morning.

To hold you over...here's this Sunday's fashion pic before church. It's one of my favorite new outfit combinations. Ralph Lauren and BabyLegs with a side of Old Navy and Gymboree shoes. Can't beat it!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

31 for 21: Ain't it kinda funny?

We're all wanting to be good little advocates, and it is a priority of mine to put a good and real perspective of life with Down syndrome "in the house." But we're all so busy just living life with our little ones that we're too busy to talk about how we're doing it. Funny.

And I guess, as many have said better than I, that's the point. Yes, we were shocked. Yes, I thought life was (cue the dramatic movie music) *forever changed.* And yes, there have been some things to figure out, to say the least. But the beauty is, you don't have to figure it all out at once. You get to wake up just one day at a time, like everyone else. And ya know what's crazy?? Life goes on. We do what we do, and we find it to be so much beyond more enjoyable than what we thought. PLUS, we have these ridiculously cute kids to play with in the meantime!


Just wish I could bottle this and share it with all those who are a few paces behind and still freaking out. It sure would've done me some good a couple years ago.

Friday, October 24, 2008

31 for 21: Practice quack

We did a dress rehearsal today of an event tomorrow. Braska will have pics to show I'm sure. And it's likely to have excessive kid cuteness involved. Just thought it was fair to tell you in advance.

And yes, this makes me THAT mom. We don't take chances with serious things like opportunities for excessive cuteness. We take the time to get it right. Practice makes perfect.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Money saving tip swap

Gas is $2.33/gal today! I am liking this extra money that we're saving on gas.

So everyone is talking about how to save a buck here or there... be it because of the financial crisis that is upsetting so many or the simple nature of life at this juncture for some of us. We might as well share what's working, I figure. So do tell! What's REALLY working, or at least what are you really trying to do?

What are you doing that's different than your "norm" to save money right now? Eating out less, shopping more frugally, selling a car, or selling a kidney (ha!)?

What are some ways your holiday will be different this year than last due to the financial stuff? Not traveling, buying less gifts, going for the generic turkey over the Butterball?

For us, it's been about the income-cut-in-half thing over the last few months since I'm not working anymore. I grant you this, we've made some major changes that many might not have chosen, but it's been great all around so far. Different yes, but we're not suffering at all, thank goodness. We've definitely learned that we don't HAVE to have everything we thought we did before.
~We moved to a new state to be close to family and hospitals/doctors, to avoid the long and frequent trips in the car.
~We sold our house to buy a smaller, older, and much cheaper one. It's an adjustment, but it's working pretty well, and the much lower payment is SO nice!
~We're eating out much less overall, although we still do here and there. There's no Toro here, so we're not tempted to visit 3 or 4 times a week.
~I'm shopping at Aldi, which I've resisted for so long, as I can't stand going to more than one place for groceries. I'm a one-stop shopper. LOVE the Wal-Mart Supercenter!! Unfortunately, we went from having 3 within 5 miles of our house in C-U to having the closest one be 20 miles away, so that's out. Since I was making a change anyway, I took the time to figure out how to utilize Aldi for whatever I can get there. And it's alot, I'm surprised! We're saving almost 60% a month on groceries with Aldi in the mix, and buying what's on sale at the other store when I must go. Maybe this seems obvious to you guys, but I never knew what milk or a pound of hamburger cost. I didn't care, just went and got what we wanted... then I paid the bill. Now I have taken a little time to check out what's better where, and it's making a BIG difference.
~We're driving M's car more when it's all of us. It gets better gas mileage, and since our trips are less than an hour now, it's totally doable in the space. (It's smaller than mine and a little less comfy...but newer, and spunky!)
~Movies are a big deal to M, and we used to watch alot of them. They're so expensive lately that we haven't been going as much. Now we live 3 very small blocks from a $1 theater! How handy is that! So we have just been waiting to see stuff till it comes there, unless we REALLY want to see something right away, like Fireproof last month.

Please don't take this as expert advice! I'm not saying these are gonna change the world for anyone but us, but they have sure helped us to get by on a whole bunch less than we thought was possible. This is NOT a "pat me on the back" kind of thing. But I'm a big proponent of dealing with what life hands you without complaints, even when it means making uncomfortable changes. So I'm just trying to walk the talk, I guess.

So share....what are YOU doing??

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

31 for 21: So much and yet nothing

It's 11:35pm. I should be in bed. Long ago in bed. But it's not been working that way.

And I have alot I want to get in before the end of the month, blog-wise. I want to talk a little about discipline and what we do with Braska. (Yes, even our perfect little compliant child occasionally pulls a naughty one on us...and she does get in trouble when that happens.) Part of me wants to talk about politics, but I can't formulate like I want when I'm this tired by the time I get to blogging. And I'm guessing I wouldn't successfully change many, if any, minds. (If you're undecided and just want some interesting perspective to consider, send me an email if you want.) I want to talk about the great things we've learned in these 23 months of being in this club that is living with DS.

But I'm exhausted. My kitchen is so darn messy. I need to get off this computer. So for now, these things will wait. And hey, who says I can't talk about them in November anyway, right?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

31 for 21: 20 Baby Galleries!!

Back in September, we were happy to find out that Braska had been included in the 3rd gallery of the Parenting.com A Special Joy: Babies with Down Syndrome. There are now 20 galleries! 20!! How great is that!?! And we know so many of those cuties...that's pretty cool, I think!

Check out all 20 from here.

Can I just ask a favor of those of you who don't have kids with DS but have blogs? As October is Down Syndrome Awareness month, would you be willing to post a little something with the link to the gallery page? It's kind of to be expected that those of us "in the club" would be all over it, but I think it would be a neat extension of the awareness aspect if we could spread the word via non-DS related blogs as well. We like to show off our kids, sure. But it would mean alot to have those who have been impacted by our kids to put in a plug for them as well.

Thanks, really.

(Side note: The Gallery page is down for a bit this afternoon, but it should be back shortly.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

31 for 21: Political traffic

Holy vote begging, Batman! Missouri is being sought after by both the big guys in this crazy election...in a BIG way. For example, lets consider who was in my little corner of the state this weekend. (All this in the St. Louis metro area)

Saturday Obama was smiling and schmoozing on the Arch grounds. I didn't even know this til today, which is fine, but it's interesting because I drove right past the Arch twice on Saturday, once in the AM and once in the PM, and must have missed everything. Thank goodness I didn't get caught in that traffic!

Then today... this is just nuts!
~McCain was about 2 miles from my house here in St. Charles early this morning.
~Bill Clinton was at a rally in Kirkwood tonight.
~Dick Cheney was at a luncheon in Clayton today.
~Mike Huckabee was at a benefit dinner tonight here in St. Charles.

I'm surprised anyone could get anywhere today with all those motorcades roaming the streets.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

31 for 21: Are you a Modern Mama?



Today I received info about this new business. The owner is a very cool young mom (and most DEFINITELY a "modern mama") who has a really adorable little girl, Karly, who is not quite a year old if I remember correctly. Little Karly has had problems with reflux for alot of her young life, and LeAnn has done a great job at finding ways to help by providing nutritious, homemade baby foods.

As of tomorrow, she's rolling it out to the masses. At least to the masses in the St. Louis metro area. Complete with 24-hour turnaround with delivery to your door! I know most of you aren't in our immediate area, but I also know that there are several who are... so check out her site, and you could always send her a note to see if she'll ship to you elsewhere, right?

I think it's cool when a mom sees a problem and really does her homework to find answers for herself and shares them with others. And LeAnn is a super nice person too, so I hope things go very well! If Braska would eat, I'd be all over it!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

31 for 21: Shower overload

Today I (with Braska in tow) drove 50 minutes to a baby shower for a friend I haven't seen in years. The guest of honor (and her mom) were the only people there I knew out of a large crowd at her church. Made for a kind of awkward time, but it was nice to see them for a quick minute in the midst of things.

Tomorrow the tiny one and I drive 90 minutes to a baby shower for a friend I haven't seen in years. The guest of honor, and maybe a sister or relative that might be there, will be the only ones I know at what will probably be a large group at her church. I have a feeling this will be a bit less awkward maybe. This new mommy used to be my roomie when we were young, single, and living large.

These girls are worth it, but they better appreciate this! I didn't even look forward to my own baby showers! :o)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Birthday #35

It was a nice day. Quite nice. And it wasn't hardly painful at all, who knew?

(BTW, I've been a bit post heavy today, so scroll down if you're a direct blog-checker so you don't miss something.)

First, I got a card from Mrs. N. She was in my dad's church from way back when he was in college, a young preacher boy. She has sent me a card all 35 years of my life, I think. My parents would have to verify the first few, but I can tell you that the last 30 at least I've received a card from her. Always with a letter. Used to be with a dollar inside, but I understandably outgrew that.

I looked forward to her cards, and now, in an age of few pieces of REAL snail mail, hers has more than once been the *only* birthday card I've received in a given year. It might be a small thing, but it's big to me. I appreciate it, and I'd miss it if it weren't there. This spring I saw Mr. and Mrs. N at my grandfather's funeral, and the older three of us F siblings all referenced her birthday card consistency as we introduced our "others" to them. What a neat legacy with a seemingly simple yearly remembrance.

Braska and I went to Wal-Mart right before lunch. A much needed trip. When we got home, M had already arrived home for lunch. As I walked in to the living room, look what greeted me!

Isn't that gorgeous?! I love fall colors, and flowers in them, what's not to love?? They are much more beautiful in person, of course. Really a nice surprise! Thanks, M. Well done, dearest.

Tonight we went to the Olive Garden. It's our celebration place. Birthdays, anniversaries, whatever. We like it alot. And it's tradition to have a picture from each birthday or anniversary dinner there.

M isn't a fan of restaurants in general, so it's nice that there are a few places he's comfortable in. My brother Jody and his wife Skye came along after a last minute invite, and we had a very nice dinner. Everyone had yummy meals, Braska enjoyed some marinara sauce, some of my apricot sauce from my chicken meal, and a tad of raspberry tea. Sure it's only a teaspoon or two of sauce, and some sips of tea, but it's something, and we're glad! We finished the night with some SUPER yummy pumpkin cheesecake.

When we got back home after dinner, I got today's mail and had another card! From the lovely Jen. I affectionately call her one of my "flaming liberal" friends, so it's only right she'd send me this kind of card. Jen, this is the only piece of mail with those faces on it allowed in my house for longer than a minute. Only for you..... :o)

I did also get a couple e-cards from Dad and Rach, and a couple phone calls too. It's so nice to be thought of.

So all in all, a pretty enjoyable birthday. I cannot complain one bit. Thanks so much for all the well wishes! So far, 35 is not so bad.