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.