Tuesday, August 25, 2015

a very long post about a very short chapter

I have been writing this post in my head for 6 months, but can't get the courage up to do it.  I have been avoiding Facebook for that long as well.  I don't know if you've missed me, but I'm finally ready to explain my absence.  Whether I'm ready to rejoin the FB world is another issue.

Near the beginning of 2014, Jason and I were trying to decide what to do with our lives.  O.K., not exactly, but we were in deep discussion about family planning.  Did we want more kids?  Were we done?  What were the reasons we WEREN'T having any more kids?  Convenience? Money? Our time?  All "great" reasons not to have kids.

At that point, Gideon was almost 4.  We were out of diapers and moving on to the next phase in kiddom.  Despite that fact, we decided to give baby-making another go.  Then about April, we found out that Jason had cancer.  Testicular cancer.  Which is great as far as cancers go, but not so great as far as baby-making goes.  Jason's surgery and chemo happened pretty quickly and by that summer he was on the road to recovery.

We got the all-clear from his docs in the early fall, but didn't know if my getting pregnant was even a possibility.  We found out we were pregnant Thanksgiving week.

At that point, I was 37.  I was feeling more worried about this baby than the other boys, mostly because of my age, I guess.  I told Jason that I wanted to wait to make the announcement.  I had it all planned out.  We would tell the boys Christmas eve morning:

video
(telling the boys)


And since we would be here in Seattle on Christmas, we would tell our immediate families via Facetime on Christmas Day.  I wanted to wait until after our first doctor's appointment to tell our church family.  And I had an even grander reveal planned for everyone else. 

The chapter of my sorority was having it's 20th anniversary in February of this year.  I asked my parents for a plane ticket for Christmas and got the flight booked.  I had imagined walking into the sorority house with a baby belly and surprising all my girlfriends.  I made similar plans for the telling of my other group of girlfriends.  After that, I'd make the official announcement on Facebook.

I had my first doctor's appointment in early January and everything went fine and normal.  I got to hear the baby's heartbeat and talk about all the normal pregnancy stuff.  We told the church, started shopping for maternity clothes and started dreaming about names.  One night, after the boys were in bed, I felt the baby kick.  Jason and I were thrilled.

I had my next appointment February 12th; about a week before leaving for my sorority reunion trip.  It was late on Thursday and Jason came home to watch the boys so I could run up to the doctor.

Dr. Koo did all the normal formalities and then started listening for the heartbeat.  She tried for several minutes before saying that the baby must be hiding and went to get a portable ultrasound machine.  I knew.  I could have left that minute because I knew what she was going to say.  The baby was dead.

Through tears, I quickly learned what my options were.  I somehow made it back home and told Jason.  He tried to shield the boys from me, but Gideon saw me crying as I came in.  In his innocent almost 5 year old voice, he said "I hope the baby's not dead."  With no room to now wait, Jason immediately told the boys.  Jonah and Gideon came into my bedroom and cried hysterically with me for the next several minutes.

Jason and I talked over our choices and decided that I wanted needed to deliver the baby in the hospital, instead of some of my other options.  I wanted to go as soon as possible and go when Dr. Koo was on call.  So on Saturday morning, Valentine's Day, Jason and I went to the hospital to deliver our baby.  Less than 24 hours later, I delivered our 4th son, Philemon.  In Greek, Philemon means "affectionate" or "loving."  We couldn't think of a more appropriate name for our Valentine's Weekend baby.

Through it all, I never doubted God's love for me.  During my pregnancy, well-meaning friends would often say "I bet you're praying for a girl."  I'd usually answer, "Nope.  I'm praying for God's will.  And I believe that's what I got.  I don't know why, other than, why not?  I believe Matthew 5:45 is true: 
"For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." 
We live in a fallen, sinful world and last time I checked, I am a part of that world.  There were so many "good" things that were a part of the miscarriage, and I know that God was providing for me even then.  I was mad and sad and hurt and devastated and empty and broken, BUT I know God was there the whole time taking care of me.

So here we are six months later.  I survived the first month mark, the births of other pregnant friends, and his due date.  But I'm still not "better."  I don't know when I will be better, and I know part of me never will be better, but I hope for normal again.  I pray for contentment with my 3 wonderful boys, if we never get pregnant again.  I pray that I can stop being mad at all of you for going on with your lives and not dying with me that day.  And I thank God that I had the chance to see and hold my son, even for just a few brief moments.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Happy birthday to Luke!

I'm not sure if it's because I have all boys (and somehow have to offset the cuteness that naturally comes with girls) or because I just love parties, but around here, birthdays are go big or go home.  

Now, none of the parties we have are truly Pinterest worthy, but I know that the boys are spoiled non-the-less.  Seriously, I'm not short-selling myself.  To be a true Pinterest party, you must rent a hall of some sort, spend 22 hours on a fondant cake, spend $22 per kid on treat bags, make elaborate hats or accessories to match the theme of the party, decorate said hall in custom matching decorations that you bought on etsy, and take pictures of the occasion with your Nikon D-3100, all while looking perfectly put together.

Our parties don't quite turn out that way...
I do plan for months.  I spend hours on Pinterest getting ideas.  I make multiple trips to Hobby Lobby so I can buy items one at a time with my 40% coupon.  I scout out thrift stores and craigslist looking for accessories to match the theme of the party.  And I love every minute of it.

But I also...spend the entire night before finishing whatever project HAS to be finished before the party, spend more than we budget for it, get in an epic fight with Jason the morning of, and am lucky to get a shower (much less my hair fixed) on the day of the party.

I've been working on birthday parties since Luke turned one, but have never documented any of them in detail.  And in light of recent events, I guess I feel like I should.  My plan is to detail each of the boys' parties from this year, starting with Luke's back in February, just for posterity.  Enjoy the madness!

Birthday Boy Breakfast
We always let the boys pick what they want to eat; usually doughnuts or PopTarts.  I decorate the table with balloons bought for the party (from the Dollar Tree) and birthday signs that I wipe off and use birthday to birthday.

Nerf Birthday
This is the theme that Luke decided on this year.  Every party, I think "THIS ONE is my favorite ever."
He got to invite 9 friends, including his brothers.  I tend to have a hard time with this.  Who to invite?  Do I invite siblings?  What number is the "perfect" size?, etc.

Over the years, we've had lots of parties at the church.  Great for space, but not so great for decorating.  Your decorations tend to get swallowed up in the openness of the room.  And you have to deal with whatever decorations are already there.
This is Luke's present table.  Some years we do presents, some years we don't.
The yellow and blue coverings are plastic tablecloths from Walmart cut in half (and saved, of course, for the next party needing yellow or blue).  The blank banner was bought at Walmart and had Luke's name added to it by our sweet friend, Kathleen (thank you!).  I can take his name off and use it for other parties.

Party Favors/Team ID
Part of what we were going to do at the party was have a "war" with the Nerf guns.  I went to an embarrassingly amount of Dollar Trees to find the right number of sunglasses.  I had blue ones for the "Blue Bombers" and camouflage ones for the "Strike Force" team.  The boys divided into teams according to their glasses and battled with the guns.

Tin Can Challenge
I used a step ladder from church to make an area for target practice.  I taped leftover strips of crepe paper to make the space look cuter.  Kathleen (seriously, what would I do without you?) taped seven empty pop cans with blue painters tape to aim at.  I also set up our "Toy Story" army men for practice.

Target Practice
Yea, I couldn't think of anything clever for this part.  Oh well.  I typed out all of my signs and glued them on blue cardstock to make them stand out.  I used white posterboard, sharpie markers and red paint I had on hand to make the targets.  I took all my pictures with my hand-me-down Nikon D-50 that I am very thankful to have (thanks Dad!).

Luke's Birthday Party:  Enter at your own risk
I printed out 2 signs at put these at the entrance to the Fellowship Hall.  And I found orange cones from the church attic to add to the decor.  Score!
I LOVE crepe paper.  It is the poor mans way to decorate on the cheap.  This is one of those items that I make multiple trips to Hobby Lobby for.  Totally worth it.

Missile Munchies
The hit of the party.  I'M SERIOUS.  These were already half gone when I took the picture.  The boys gobbled these up before the chips, before the desserts.  Crazy!  Obviously, pretty easy to make.  Just make sure you get jumbo sized olives, otherwise they will split open when you put them on the baby carrots.

Deadly Dessert
Lamest birthday cake I've ever made, but it's what Luke requested so I didn't mind a bit.  This chocolate ecclair is a staple around our house and apparently Luke loved it enough to want it on his big day.  The small dish in the back is sans graham cracker for our gluten-free friend.

Nerf Juice
Once again, if I was a true Pinterester (?), I would have made labels to go around these.  I have done it in the past for other parties, but there just wasn't time with this one.
My one original idea for this party was the oranges.  I taped the signs to popsicle sticks and stuck them in cutie oranges.  They turned out pretty cutie. ;-)

Bullseye Bites
I needed a gluten-free dessert, so I went with Rice Krispy treats, of course.  I sprayed those round little dishes (you know, that Rachel Rae uses all the time) with cooking spray and used them as my mold.  Then I used premade red icing found on the baking isle to make the bullseye design.  Easy peasy.

Cheese Bombs
Cheesy puffs.  Enough said.

Agent Oranges
We studied the Vietnam War in homeschool this year, so most of the kids at the party actually knew what it was. I always like to have a fruit or veggie at the party.

more crepe paper, to hide the kitchen
I used this glittery table liner thing that I bought for Jonah's 1st birthday party!  I can't tell you how many times I've used that thing over the years.
And orange & blue plates, napkins and forks, of course.

poor Jonah
He just got shot during the battle.  You can barely see some of the cardboard boxes in the background.  I watched craigslist for days to get the size and amount I wanted for free.  The boys built forts to hide behind during the battle.

Daddy getting in on the action.
Each boy also got a small Nerf gun as a party favor.  They were $9.99 for a pack of 3 at Target.

The birthday boy
Doing a good job blowing out his candles.  It was his idea to stick the candles in the Nerf darts.
I also bought him an orange shirt at Michael's (with a coupon, naturally) and wrote "Shoot Me!  I'm the birthday boy."  Kathleen drew a bullseye in the middle of it for me.  A perfect addition to the party, I think (and alot cheaper than etsy!).


None of this would have been possible without these ideas from other clever mommas.  Check out their original posts:
http://www.thedatingdivas.com/play-it-up/nerf-wars-battle-date/
http://michellepaige.blogspot.com/2012/03/nerf-gun-party.html
http://celebrateanddecorate.com/?s=nerf (this one has the invitations that I used.  So cute!)
http://tannerjia.blogspot.com/2012/01/zacks-9th-nerf-gun-birthday-party.html

Monday, June 23, 2014

First World Problems

I love having "first world" problems.  Deciding which cereal to eat.  Having so many clothes that I'm constantly doing laundry.  Waiting in a long line at Target to buy a birthday present.  You know, problems that aren't really problems because we're so rich and spoiled in America.  But sometimes we have first world problems that aren't as much fun.  Awful and terrible problems, but first world, none the less.  For our family, the next couple of days are filled with those problems.

Today, I'm taking Jason to do something that I never thought we'd be doing in our 30s, much less 40s or 50s.  I'm taking him to get chemotherapy.  If this is a major shocker, I'm sorry.  Here's the back story and I'm sure you'll understand why it's not exactly FB post worthy:

(Right before Jason's mission trip to "insert undisclosed high risk for Christians country here", he had multiple shots, physicals, etc..  During those check-ups, they found a lump in his testicle.  The doctor said he could go ahead and go on his mission trip, but as soon as he got back it would have to be removed.  He came back from the mission trip and had outpatient surgery to have the lump removed.  We left the next day for our preplanned trip home to TN.  While at the beach with our family, Jason's doctor called and said the lump was cancerous.  They felt confident that it was small, contained, and completely removed, but just as precaution, he should have more treatment.  After several more doctors visits and consultations, we decided on one dose of chemotherapy.  Which leads us to today.)

We are going to a cancer treatment center in nearby Everett and should be done before lunch.  He will have to drink lots of fluids, rest, stay away from germs and the sun for about 10 days to 2 weeks.  Stay out of the sun, you say?  No problem!  We live in Seattle.  See, first world problems.

Now on to me.  I've been having off-and-on pains on my right side for a several months.  Nothing consistent, but still not going away.  Two weeks ago, I started having the pain most of the time, every day.  I went to the walk-in clinic, got tested for several things, and had an ultrasound scheduled.  That ultrasound found that I had a kidney stone which lead to the scheduling of a CT scan.  I had the CT scan and meeting with an urologist on Friday.  Normally, drs will let you pass a kidney stone up to 5mm.  Mine measured 19mm. Awesome!  So...tomorrow afternoon, I'm having outpatient surgery to try and blast and laser the stone to itty-bitty pieces.

Thankfully, the cavalry (in the form of my mother) arrives tomorrow.  And thankfully, we have awesome church family, neighbors, and homeschool friends that are taking care of the boys, feeding us, etc.

And this, my friends, is what I will be thinking of while undergoing and recovering from my first world surgery...

From our recent trip to Orange Beach

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A rant

Earlier this week, someone in my world posted the following as his Facebook status:
 "There is a gay football player?  Is he a good player?  He is?  Great!  I like good football players!  Move along."  
I couldn't agree more.  It blows my mind how the media can make things that aren't an issue, an issue.  I don't think this college football player's personal life has anything to do with his NFL draft dreams.  Just like I don't think this Olympian's prior photo shoot has anything to do with her ability to ski ( Lebanese skier).  We all know that is just how the media monster rolls.

 However, I was LIVID when I read what his friend put as a follow-up comment:
  "I know dude.  This horse died many, many, many moons ago.  Such a tired topic.  Some folks are light years behind.  It's alarming how indisputably dumb some humans are."
Since no good comes from getting into a dispute with someone with differing opinions on Facebook, I brought my grievances here.  If you don't agree with me, no problem.  You can go rant on your own blog about me.  But this one is mine, and since America mostly still allows free speech, I get to write what I want here.

Now, I could assume that this friend was referencing the media for their handling of the story, but I'm pretty sure that's not who he was insulting.  I'm pretty sure he was insulting me and other evangelical Christians like me.  I believe the Bible is true.  I believe that God intended marriage to be between one man and one woman.  And apparently, I am "indisputably dumb" for believing so.

Let me expand on a few of my other beliefs.  I also believe that God didn't want women to be topless dancers.  Or me to use the "f" word or the "n" word or any other offensive word in my daily vocabulary.  I believe that God did not intend for us to watch pornography.  Or gamble our money away on lottery tickets.  And if, tomorrow, the government makes it legal to kick little old ladies crossing the street, I will teach my children that doing so is wrong, also.  But nobody cares that I believe those things; it's just my belief in solely heterosexual marriages that suddenly turns me into a hateful, homophobic bigot.

I dare this friend or anyone to find a time when I have said an ugly word to a gay person.  Or shunned neighbors that held different views from me.  Or told my boys that we don't talk to "those kind" of people.  I believe that the Bible teaches us to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Galatians 5:14) and not to "speak evil against one another" (James 4:11).  And that is what our family tries to do each day.

So if literally believing that all of the Bible is true and being kind to others that believe differently than you is "indisputably dumb", then I guess get my dunce cap ready.

(image from Google search)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014

Happy New Year! Does anyone else love the idea of a "fresh start" even though there's not really anything different from yesterday? I just read this post which has me all excited about the new year. I'm not sure what my "one word" will be yet, but I'm excited about the process.

We had a good, yet different, Christmas.  This was our first Christmas season not to be in Tennessee. It was my first Christmas without my maternal grandparents. BUT, Jason's mom came and spent Christmas with us, so we weren't all alone. We actually had some sun on Christmas Day, so the boys got to go out and enjoy the new bikes that their Nana had bought them.

I'm taking the tree and decorations down today, which I hate, but I also realize that my husband might leave me if I tried to convince him that decorations up all year long is a good idea.  I refuse to give up my Christmas music, though.  I can listen to it when I'm alone & no one is the wiser!


(Our family at our church's Christmas Eve service)

Monday, September 16, 2013

ANOTHER new chapter

Last Monday, I started something that Jason & I have been talking about for years.  I. Started. Homeschooling. The. Boys.  Yep.  Just when I was supposed to be sending Luke off to 2nd grade, Jonah to Kindergarten & Gideon to preschool, we decided to keep them all at home.  With me.  All the time.  Am I crazy or the best mom ever?  Hopefully, somewhere in the middle.  Honestly, right now, I'm still in the "This is awesome!!" mixed with the "What have I gotten myself into?!?" stage.

We are homeschooling through the national program called Classical Conversations (www.classicalconversations.com ).  I have actually only known about CC for about a year and only started considering it for our family since the spring.  This program takes a classical approach to learning (studying & memorizing the subjects that stand the test of time) with a Christian worldview.  Perfect for us, right?

Our journey to this point, has had the hand of God all over it.  Let me give a few examples:
  1. I first really learned about CC from a college friend's blog (www.suzanneshares.com) and one of my best girlfriends from Brownsville.  What a blessing to have the knowledge of these 2 ladies to help me my first year!
  2. While talking to my friend on the phone about this one night, I said, "Lisa, God's just going to have to make $500 fall out of the sky to pay for Luke's tuition."  The NEXT DAY, someone gave us $500 for no reason.  When we decided to homeschool Jonah, too, $500 more fell from the sky.
  3. When we decided to go with CC, I wasn't sure if there would be a local group in the Pac NW, much less in our area.  Long story short, our chapter meets in OUR church.  Yep, as in 1 mile from our house.  Awesome!
  4. Thus far, all our homeschool expenses have been taken care of.  Whether it was a check from my mom, a resource mailed from Lisa, a gift card from Jennie, a borrowed laminator from Theresa or discovering that the library lets you print out 70 pages from the computer per week for free (Yea, baby!), we have not had many out of pocket expenses.
As my blogging record shows, I am not sure how often I will update you with our homeschool progress, but I did want to let you know what is going on with our family as we start yet another new chapter.  Thanks for all the prayers!

(sorry mom, having problems uploading pics, will try again later)

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Camping We Will Go...

I have fond memories of camping with my family as a child.  We had a "pop-top" camper that we took to many a state park.  We thought we were living the high life with the fold-up dining room table and air conditioner that our camper had.  And nothing, I mean nothing, was better than the individual sized cereal boxes that we had for breakfast on those camping trips.
Mmmm.  Can't you just taste those s'mores?

This week, Luke attended Boy Scout Day Camp at Flowing Lake Park in Snohomish (about 15 miles from our house).  The director was using 3 campsites for activities during the day, but, of course, didn't need them at night.  So we were able to camp there for free!  Here's what I learned from our week of camping:

1.  I am a diva/baby.  I know this will not come as a shock to my husband or father, but I like my mattress, my dishwasher, my hot & cold running water, my 2-ply toilet paper.  A lot.  When I don't have these "necessities", I can get cranky.
2.  I miss birds.  I've mentioned before that we basically have 2 kinds of birds where we live; crows & seagulls.  So hearing wrens and larks and woodpeckers this week was sheer joy.
3.  I L.O.V.E. trail mix.  I could seriously eat it for every meal.  Why don't we eat it for every meal?!?  I'm not sure anyone else in my family got more than a few handfuls of that crack-a-licious goodness.
4.  I may never camp more than 15 miles away again.  Every morning, the little boys & I would leave camp and come home.  I would bathe them and myself and do laundry.  We could eat as civilized people at our dining room table and watch cartoons.  Then, in the afternoon, we would drive back to camp to spend the evening with Jason & Luke.  Seriously, it was a perfect camping set-up.
5.  I am thankful that we don't live in a dump, near a dump or on top of a dump.  Our campsite was next to the camp's huge garbage bin.  Any time the wind changed, it reeked of trash.  The first night I even dreamt of garbage men chasing me.  Since the campsite was free, we had nothing to complain about, but it reminded how thankful I am for our wealthy living.
6.  I will not use a port-a-potty.  I just can't do it.  I try to convince myself that it's no big deal, but I can't.  Point in case:  Last night 2 toddlers across the road woke up at 2 a.m. screaming bloody murder.  Not just a few yells or whimpers, but 10 straight minutes of loud decibel screams.  Needless to say, I couldn't go back to sleep & couldn't stop thinking about needing to, um, powder my nose.  So up I got and went to the port-a-potty that was 50 yards away, right?  Nope.  I walked for 5 minutes to the closest restrooms.  Mind you, I was cursing my roommates the entire way for making me watch all those horror movies in college.  But, I decided, being murdered by a serial killer hidden in the camp was a better option than using the port-a-potty.  Can you blame me?

Luke, reading to his brothers, around the campfire