September 30, 2010

My kids are funny.

Exhibit A:
Andrew made this prayer wheel at church.  He was asked to name four people he prays for on a daily basis.  He listed Mommy, Daddy, Sister, and ROBOTS.  How awesome is that?!  Honestly, I'm kinda shocked he didn't list Darth Vader on there, but whatever...That's my boy!

Exhibit B:

 This is Hannah, scaling the chair at our computer desk.  This is why we have to watch her all.the.time.
She is one crazy monkey, but we love her.

Exhibits C & D:

OK, so these aren't necessarily "funny"...but they are quite possibly my favorite photos of the kids taken in, like, EVER.  
Thanks for looking!

September 26, 2010

Stormy Sundays

This is my very favorite kind of day.

We started the day with church, where I was challenged and encouraged by the awesome people around me.  I spent time with my God, alongside my husband, and this helped me focus on the coming week and what's important in life...I desire to end this day as a better person that the one I was when I woke up.

We had lunch with friends, enjoying their company and reconnecting with other adults because the chaos of daily life often interferes with our ability to connect during the work week.

We headed home and, on this particular day, the rain came.  We got home, hurried the kids inside where it is warm and dry.  We greeted our devoted dog and cats and got the kids upstairs to start the naptime routine.  We wrestled on the bed, brushed our teeth, and headed to our bedrooms.  I took Hannah and Chris took Andrew.  Hannah read her books, Andrew sang a few songs, and we all settled down for some football watching and/or a nice nap.  The rain calmed us and soothed us with the steadiness of the storm.  A few thunder claps here and there served to remind me of how small I really am, and how every breath I take is a gift from God.  I am overwhelmed by the love I feel for my husband and children, and I shake my head as I realize how undeserving I am.

There's no big event, no celebration going on today.  Just me, gaining more and more perspective on life.  you see, I lost a friend on Friday.  She was my age and she had a rare form of cancer.  She had fought for more than a year but was sent home from the hospital nearly two weeks ago after being told there was nothing more the doctors could do.  She was given just a few days, but lived ten more.  She and I were in the same church youth group growing up.  She was a dear friend then.  I lost touch with her after high school, when I moved away to college, then to seminary, then married Chris and moved to Georgia.  She left a loving husband and two children, a 12-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son.  I can't imagine their pain, nor do I care to try.

So, today, I consider how short life really is, and how every day is a precious gift from God.  Especially stormy Sundays like this one.

September 24, 2010

I actually know women like this...

I love this. It is so great, I had to find it and repost it after Stark.Raving.Mad.Mommy posted it on her blog.

Thing is, I think I actually know this blonde. I really do.

September 17, 2010

It *might* be time for me to go back to work...

Whew!  Its been a rough couple of days.  Chris and I are getting on each other's nerves a bit.  It might be time for me to go back to work.  Good thing today is Friday!

Chris, on our most recent family outing
We didn't travel or anything over this break, but we did quite a bit.  We took the kids to the Georgia Aquarium, had a couple of "lazy days" and a couple of days just running errands with the kids.  Tomorrow we are headed to the zoo, and while it has been fun and the kids have loved having both of us here all day every day, I think it might be just a bit too much togetherness, know what I mean?  Chris told me the other day he was getting on his own nerves.  I just had to laugh. :)

I think the issue is that we have a few parenting differences and it stresses him out.  For example, he is a strict routine guy.  He stays home with the kids while I work so he has them on a nice routine.  They get up, have breakfast, go to preschool (unless its Monday), go home for lunch, go upstairs to brush teeth and wrestle on the bed, then take naps.  Hannah is usually awake by the time I get home from school, and normally Andrew is still napping.  He wakes soon afterwards, though, and we play games, eat dinner, go outside, then go up for baths and bedtime.  It works.

When I am home for school breaks, however, I get up with the kids and it totally throws them off.  Hannah wants me to sit and hold her, while Andrew wants me to play video games with him.  He doesn't normally play the XBOX in the mornings unless I am home.  This drives Chris crazy.  There are other annoying routine-crashers that drive him nuts, but let's not get into that.

Maybe its my "working mom" guilt or maybe I'm just too permissive and just don't care.  I don't know...I will obviously stop them from hurting themselves or others, and I will make sure they eat and brush their teeth, but other than that, as long as we are having fun together...I just don't worry about the details.  I know its wrong and I should stick to the routine.  I'm trying, really...I promise I am.  I just don't want it to get in the way of enjoying my kids on the few days here and there that I get to be with them.

Sigh...Andrew just came over and gave me an unsolicited and VERY sweet hug and kiss, and told me I was his favorite. :)  Who cares if its only because he's playing the XBOX...I treasure this stuff.


Oh!  I almost forgot!  I posted a review of Immanuel's Veins (by Ted Dekker) a few days ago.  Thomas Nelson, to thank me, has offered to send a lucky blog reader a free t-shirt to promote the book.  According to, the winner is Sarah Thompson!  Sarah, if you are reading this, congrats!!  Shoot me an email to let me know your address and shirt size, and I will pass along the info to Thomas Nelson!  Thanks for reading!!

September 15, 2010

OCD? Me?

I've been thinking a lot about my little idiosyncrasies (did I spell that right?) lately and wondering if I might have a touch of OCD.  OCD, in case you don't know, is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Here's just a few reasons I have for thinking maybe I have a little touch of it.  (OK, a big touch.)

*I can't let Chris fold clothes, towels, anything.  If he (or anyone else) folds any laundry, I will unfold and refold it the way *I* like it.

*I often wish Chris would unload and reload the dishwasher for me before I get home from work, but if he does, I go behind him and rearrange the dishes in the cabinets and then reload the dishwasher the way *I* like it.  Hmmm....wonder why he doesn't bother?

*I must (MUST) sweep the floors daily. I usually wait until Chris and the kids are outside or otherwise preoccupied because, as cute as it is, when the kids try to help, it  When Chris is being sweet and tries to sweep and mop for me, I have to go behind him and redo it because its not done the way *I* would do it.

*When we are traveling (which we do fairly often, since our family all lives around 3-5 hrs away from us), I get pissier and pissier the later it gets.  (Okay, okay, this goes for ANYTHING.  I can't stand being right on time.  I want to be there 5-10 minutes early.  God forbid I am ever late for anything.  I think I would have a panic attack.)  I want to get up and out the door and get the trip over with.  If we say we are leaving at 9 am, I get antsy around 8:30 and want to get going already!  This drives Chris crazy and we usually end up bickering.  Not fun.  I have recently started trying to tell myself that if Chris says 9 am, that means 9:30 am.  This has helped with my OCD-ness and cut back on the bickering.

Recently I have noticed Hannah showing a few of these traits.  I know its normal and she is just learning about sorting and putting things in order and stuff, but when I see her line up all of her "babies" in a row (most often from smallest to tallest, but not always),  I admire her and secretly LOVE that she is showing organization skills and a desire for order, the way I like it.  I am one sick puppy.

Bathtime mostly consists of lining up her babies around the edge of the tub.
My classroom at school is immaculate and my fellow teachers often comment on how organized I am.  I tell them its because my house is in constant chaos (seriously...with a 4 yr old and 2 yr old, it looks like Toys R Us exploded in here) and my classroom is kind of my sanctuary...the one place in my world where everything has a place and everything is in its place.  My co-teacher this year is a mess, organizationally, and one day during our planning time, I emptied out her cabinets and reorganized them for her.  She LOVED it and showed everyone how awesome I was, but seriously...

I need medication, don't I?

September 14, 2010

Fall Break

Ahh, the joys of being a teacher.  I am lucky enough to live in a county in Georgia that runs on the "modified year round" calendar, in which we get a week off after every six weeks of school, two weeks at Christmas, and eight weeks in the summer.  This means we get a Fall Break, a Thanksgiving Break (the whole week), two weeks at Christmas, a mid-winter break (week off in February), a Spring Break (a week off in April), and then summer vacation.  Nice.  Yes, we have to go back the first Monday in August, but to be honest?  I am ready to go back by that point.  Two or three weeks before then.

So anyway, here I am on Fall Break.  This is the first year in quite a while that I haven't been desperate for a break from school.  I am loving my job so much this year that I honestly could have kept going.  Other people I know were very stressed and needing a break, so I am glad we have it.  I love seeing the kids' faces when I wake up with them.  Hannah just giggles and bounces because she is so happy to see me, and Andrew says, "Mommy?  Is that you?  Are you staying with me ALL DAY???"  I love it.  I absolutely love that they are happy to have me home with them.  We aren't traveling, but we're doing plenty of fun stuff around here. Isn't that called a "stay-cation?"

Checking out the Beluga Whales

We went to the Georgia Aquarium yesterday and had a really good time.  We're really glad we had coupons though ($50 for all four of us and free parking, too!), because NO WAY would it have been worth the $90 (give or take some) it would have cost normally.  Sheesh.  Don't get me wrong...the kids had a BLAST and we made some great memories (and got some great pictures), but I'm good with going once every couple of years or so.  We have a couple of free animal refuge type places around here, so I think the zoo isn't as big a deal, since we see animals all the time.  We do not, however, get to see  fish so the aquarium is a much bigger deal to them.  The Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, however, is the best one to visit.  Just my opinion.

Hannah trying to kiss the fish
Look mom!  A giant crab!

Andrew and Hannah had a ball seeing all the "crazy fish" and trying to catch them/kiss them/hold them, and I had a ball watching them see and learn and do new things.  Their joy and passion for life amazes me.  I wish I still had some of their innocence...

Later on this week we will likely go visit Dauset Trails (a park/animal refuge nearby) and then get some use out of our season passes to Zoo Atlanta this weekend.  We also have some home improvement type projects going on around the house.  All in all, this week should be a good one, and hopefully I will be able to return to my teaching job on Monday a refreshed and relaxed mommy. :)

September 13, 2010

Immanuel's Veins

I have always been a big fan of Tedd Dekker.  I've read just about every book he's published, and his imagination and ability to throw in a twist you just don't see coming never ceases to amaze me.  Immanuel's Veins is no different.  This book grabs your attention right off the bat.  The story is set in Moldavia in a time of turmoil.  The main character, Toma, is sent by the Catherine, Empress of Russia, to protect a woman and her twin daughters from any threat that may come their way.  The story unfolds in a way I never could have predicted.  I found myself so heavily involved in the character's lives that I could not put it down.  As a mom of two small kiddos and a middle school teacher to boot, I was shocked that I read it cover to cover in only three days.  By the end of the book I was crying and begging my husband to immediately start reading the story.  My only word of caution:  I would strongly recommend this book to any adult in the world, but it might be a little too much for younger audiences.  If your preteen is interested in reading the book, I'd suggest reading it first, just so you know the story so you can answer any questions they might have afterwards.  It is a story of the struggle between good and evil, told as only Ted Dekker can.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze book review blogger's program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

P.S.  Thomas Nelson (publisher) has already sent me a free t-shirt as a "thank you" for reviewing the book, and they will send one to ONE lucky commenter! I know there are lots of Ted Dekker fans out there, so make yourself known!!  Good luck!

September 9, 2010

Stupid Stuff People Say

Some people should have censor buttons.  Or just keep their mouths shut.  Either way, the rest of the world wins.  A fellow mommy blogger wrote today about a stupid comment she got and it got me all fired up thinking about all the stupid judgey (is that a word?) stuff people have said to me before.  The two that follow are two in particular that really get me going.

First, I will respond to the comment this mommy blogger received a while back.  Apparently, after an honest and heartfelt post which mentioned her miscarriage long ago, a woman (I won't say lady) told her that god (notice I did not capitalize)  killed her unborn baby because of some horrible decision (sin?) she had committed in her past.

I'll let that sink in a minute.

OK, now that you are probably feeling the same shock and anger I felt after reading this, I will let you know that my God loves me.  My God loves her and him and you and them and everyone in this world.  My God created us for a relationship with Him based on love, not punishment.  Her god (little g) needs to take a time-out and get over him/herself.  Really, though, her god does not exist because if she thinks she is talking about my God, she obviously doesn't know Him.  She obviously believes in some kind of system of legalism and penalty for sin instead of the mercy and grace the true God gives.  People like her give my God a bad name because they assume she must be talking about my God.  Argh!

Secondly, and this has nothing to do with God, but I once encountered a judgmental mommy who hurt me deeply.  Here's what happened:  I was in the middle of the baby section of Wal-Mart when I stopped to compliment her on her beautiful baby wrap (I was an avid babywearer when the kiddos were teeny tiny).  She thanked me and told me how convenient it was for getting things done, especially since she was nursing.  Andrew was with me and only @ a year old.  She asked how long I had nursed, and if I was still nursing.  I shared that I never was able to nurse due to a breast reduction surgery I had done when I was in college.  She turned hostile and told me that if I had known that I couldn't nurse my child then I never should have gotten pregnant.

Again, I will give you a moment.

Yeah, it hurt.  Deeply.  Only God knows the amount of pain and grief and guilt I felt the entire first year of Andrew's life because I was not able to breastfeed.  I was tormented, seriously, and I believe that guilt had a lot to do with the severe PPD I suffered from.  I was just getting to the point in my life where I was getting over it and believing that I had done the best I could and Andrew's funny, sweet, smart little self was going to be just fine, despite the lack of breastmilk.  When this happened, I spiraled into a depression all over again but God surrounded me with amazing friends and family and I was able to realize that people like this woman just need to keep their thoughts to themselves.  And how many times had I myself spoken too quickly, not considering how my words might be hurtful?

People say stupid things, for sure, but so do I.  I can't be responsible for the things other people say before thinking, but I can do better about it in my own life.  I am trying to think carefully and choose my words wisely.  Lord knows I do not want to be the one making some crazy mommy blog about how I hurt her feelings. :)

September 6, 2010

The Falling Away

As an avid reader, I love picking up new and interesting titles and passing along recommendations when I find a good one.  This book is no exception.  When I first picked it up, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but I was immediately hooked.  T.L. Hines does a fabulous job of taking these characters and turning them into old friends you miss when their story is done.
The Falling Away is about very real, very imperfect people.  Dylan Runs Ahead is a Native American who is running from his past.  After his sister disappears he joins the army and gets shipped off to Iraq as part of the EOD - a team that destroys explosive devices.  After his good friend is killed, and he is injured, in an explosion,  Dylan becomes addicted to painkillers and ends up so desperate for his next fix that he gets mixed up in being a drug mule.  When things go wrong, he runs away again.  Little does he know that he is Chosen.  There are people watching him, following him, trying to protect him from the evil that pursues him as a Chosen.
Quinn, a young girl who spent four years homeless and living day to day on the streets, is an "embedder."  She started dealing with the stress of her situation by cutting herself.  Eventually that wasn't enough, and she began to embed objects in her flesh. Though she certainly has her own demons to deal with, she also knows the love of God and is among the people watching Dylan.
The circumstances that bring these two people, both of whom have psychological and spiritual demons to overcome, together is dramatic and suspenseful.  I was hooked the minute I picked up the book, and couldn't bear to put it down until I finally reached the last page.  This is a story of spiritual warfare, guilt and hopelessness, that eventually turns into a story of redemption.  The message of God's love is present, but not overbearing.  If you are looking for a good work of Christian fiction, I highly recommend this author and especially this book.

Discolsure of Material Connection:  I received this book free from the publisher through the Booksneeze book review bloggers program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Labor Days

Today is Labor Day.  Its been more than a week since I last posted, I think, but ohmygosh this week flew by!  I can't even remember what happened or why I was so busy, but here it is, Monday again, and there's so much bouncing around in my brain.

I have the day off today (yahoo!) and have spent a bit of time catching up on blogs and Facebook and this post from SRRM (If you don't read her blog, you SHOULD.  Go there. NOW.) got me all inspired to tell about my own personal Labor Days.

I am the proud mommy of two children here on earth, and two little angels in heaven.  Yes, I will always remember those two little ones and count them among my babies.  Maybe not out loud (not everyone wants to hear sad stories), but always in my heart.  My first Labor Day (October 1, 2004) came far too soon...only a week after discovering I was pregnant, it was fairly painless (physically) and lasted only a few short hours.  The significant emotional pain lasted well over a year, and even now rears its ugly head here and there.

I'm feeling MUCH better after an epi!

My second Labor Day (Feb. 24. 2006) brought Andrew into my life.  That day was a result of a lot of prayer, two months of Clomid (ah, fertility pills) and 12 weeks worth of Prometrium which magnified every possible pregnancy symptom I had.  I had gestational diabetes and developed gall stones, therefore had a very limited diet during that pregnancy.  I started to suffer from high blood pressure (not preeclampsia, just hypertension) and had to go on strict bedrest.  The day I gave birth, I weighed only 3 lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight.  I went into labor around 2:30 am when I got up to pee and thought maybe I had wet myself.  Nope...that was my water breaking.  Chris took a nap, I started laundry, and around 6:30 am, we headed to the hospital.  (I have no idea why we waited so long, but oh well...we had a loooooong time yet to go, so I'm glad there was no hurry.)  Anyway, after 14 hrs (so @ 4:30 pm), I was finally ready to push.  I pushed.  And pushed.  And pushed.  And pushed.  For two hours and 17 minutes.
Andrew Lane, miracle #1!

Andrew got stuck in the birth canal for two reasons -- he had (still has) a very large head and was coming out face up.  We had to get out the vaccuum and suction the poor kid out at 6:47 pm. He had a conehead for a few days because of this.  He also had to go to the NICU for a couple of hours to monitor his blood sugar (because of my GD) and regulate his breathing.  We thought his newborn cry (more like a grunt) was the most adorable thing, but apparently that grunting is a signal of breathing difficulties, so he had to have oxygen for a little bit.  He has no problem with a conehead or breathing difficulties now (motormouth that he is!) so he is truly a little miracle.  I, on the other hand, felt like I'd been ripped to shreds.  I had to have multiple stitches due to tearing and couldn't sit comfortably for about a month.  Forget peeing...I would have a panic attack when I would feel the urge to pee because I knew how much that was gonna hurt.  Yikes.  Anyone who feels like they missed out on something special by not having a vaginal delivery can just put their minds at ease now.  Its not the amazing experience you might think.  Yes, having a baby in your arms is incredible, but holding your baby is awesome no matter how it happened.

My third Labor Day (January 16, 2007) had the same outcome as my first, but came about in a far different manner.  When Andrew was about 9 months old, I discovered I was pregnant.  I had been on "the patch" as a means of birth control, and obviously it had not been effective.  I was shocked and actually, quite sad, to realize I was expecting again.  We had no maternity insurance and had no idea where the money to pay for this pregnancy would come from.  We were new to the area so I had no OB/GYN yet and, while I knew that the only reason I stayed pregnant with Andrew was because of the Prometrium, no new OB was going to accept my word at face value, so there was no medical assistance there.  I had no spotting or bleeding and was actually feeling optimistic, as if my body really could get and stay pregnant on its own!  I finally settled on an OB, and went for my first ultrasound at 10 weeks 6 days.  I'd seen one tiny spot of blood the day before, but when it didn't continue, I pushed it out of my mind.  When we got settled and ready to see the baby, though, things changed.  There was a tiny baby, for sure...fingers, toes, everything plainly visible...but so perfectly still.  No heartbeat.  It was torture.  I sobbed and sobbed.  Chris was crying and asking God, "why???"  Since we had no insurance,  we opted to wait and see if I would miscarry naturally at home.  After a week, though, I was at my limit and couldn't take it anymore.  I couldn't emotionally handle carrying around a dead baby in my broken womb.  I got in to the doc's for a quick visit and another ultrasound (yes ma'am, your baby is still dead) and scheduled the D&C for the next morning.  A D&C (dilation and curretage) is an inpatient procedure where the doctor dilates your cervix and scrapes any foreign tissue out of the uterus.  Its a procedure used for many reasons, but in this instance, the doctor scraped my dead baby out of my body.  The emotional and physical pain was beyond anything I'd felt, and I'd already been through one miscarriage and one very difficult birth.

My fourth Labor Day came on June 28, 2008.  I was due to give birth to Hannah on July 6, 2008.  Andrew was born at 37 weeks 6 days, and at this point I was 38 weeks 6 days and thinking this girl would have to be induced to come out.  I had no GD or high blood pressure or any other complications, other than the constant morning sickness (gained 5 whole lbs this time!), thank God.  I did take Prometrium for 12 weeks, but maybe I would have been fine without it.  Who knows.  Anyway, it was summer break so I was out of school.  Andrew was 2 yrs 4 months old and wanting to play outside, but mommy was way too fat and tired for that.  It was about midnight when the first contractions came.  I thought they were more Braxton Hicks, since I'd been having those for quite a while, but they kept getting closer and stronger, so I told Chris to get ready.  We called our neighbor to come over and stay with Andrew while we drove to the hospital.  By the time we arrived I was already 4-5 cm dilated.  Woohoo!  I could get an epidural!  Ha.  I had to have a whole bag of IV fluids first, and that took  By the time the anesthesiologist arrived I was about to rip my own head off.  Contractions suck.
Yep, that's my girl!
Anyway, he put in the epi but didn't turn it up enough because ohmygosh I could still feel the pain.  It was awful.  I finally convinced the nurse to get him back in there, and he turned it up enough for me to rest a bit.  I finally was 10 cm @ 12 hrs later (so around noon on the 28th), and started to push. And push.  And push some more.  Hannah didn't get stuck, but she refused to descend.  Every time I would push she would come down a little bit, but when I would take a breath, she would go back up.  Drama queen.  She started to show signs of distress and I was a wreck because when they broke my water there was meconium in it, and I knew how many complications that could cause...So when the doc mentioned a c-section I said "do it!"  I signed the consent at 1:55, we got in the OR (right across the hall) and Hannah was out at 2:01 pm, screaming her little head off.  She was healthy and beautiful.

Dude, I don't care.  Let me sleep.
We couldn't wait for Andrew to meet his little sister.  He was not impressed.  I do have to say, though, that in my experience, the c-section is the way to go!  I could sit, walk, and pee easily...It was amazing.  The only drawback was that I couldn't pick Andrew up for FOUR WEEKS, and he did not understand why I could hold "that thing" (as he called her) but not him. 

I don't think I've ever written all of this down before, and it feels kind of good...cathartic, in a way.  I have had four very different Labor Days in my lifetime, and I feel blessed for every one.  I have learned and changed through every situation, good or bad, and I have learned to appreciate the many, many blessings I do have in my life.  God has been so good to me.
The precious fruits of my Labor...
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