Thursday, December 27, 2012

Roller coaster

We have good days and bad. On the good days, I think we'll go full term or maybe even a week or so past. I think all this bedrest will seem excessive. I feel guilty for putting everyone out. There is a part of me that thinks it's all in my head, that if I just ignore it, the contractions will go away on their own.

Then, I have nights like Wednesday when contractions picked up to every 5 minutes and hurt. bad. I can't help but cry on the bad ones; it's like they are so strong, they just push the tears out my eyes. I know the routine: drink more water, take a bath, change positions, and now take Procardia. Thankfully it seems to work. But it leaves me sore, like an extreme ab workout, and tired.

Thankfully baby doesn't seem to mind, still pounding away in there. S/he is growing right on schedule. And, in a couple weeks, we'll get another sneak peek at little one, make sure everything looks good.

We've reached 30 weeks. That's the point when we started bedrest with Maggie, following our car accident. Our next goal is 32 weeks.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

One Year Celebration

As of midnight Christmas Day, Lainie is officially one year seizure free. Definitely celebrating that one, and thankful for Trileptal, for controlling her epilepsy without the side effects of Zonegran.
Our Christmas Angel

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Did too much

I guess I was getting a little cocky, thinking I could get off the couch. Yesterday's contractions -- that are carrying over today -- proved me wrong. I guess I did too much.

What is "too much"? Wednesday morning I drove to my doctor's appointment, picked up a part for my car, dropped off insurance paperwork, and drove home. Wednesday night, I went up and down the stairs probably 4 times after our power was out, to make sure the kids were all adequately covered and everything vital was unplugged. Thursday morning, I stood at the griddle long enough to cook a dozen pieces of french toast, after the girls had made the batter and set the table and plugged in the griddle.

And that's it. Too much. Couch bound I am, remote in hand, cell phone in reach, iced tea and little brother on the way to be my gopher. Some people have pool boys, I have a laundry boy. God bless Him! (Remind me of this month when I complain about helping him maintain his apartment or filling meds or whatever else. He's been wonderful.)

And, hey, at least I'll have plenty of time to make more phone calls regarding FMLA, AFLAC (still praying they'll accept this claim), and so much more.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Breeder

I've been feeling pretty guilty, guilty about our decision to take the parenthood path one more time. If only we hadn't decided on one more babe, we wouldn't be in this situation. I, or we, brought this situation upon ourselves. I know that. And I'm sure there are others who are saying that, too.

I know God and my faith asks us to welcome children into our family with open arms. But I was wondering, with the difficulty we are having, if it was less God's will and more my own wish for a large boisterous family that I was listening to. I wondered if it was God's will, why He is making the path so hard. Is God making this pregnancy fragile to make us appreciate this baby more, or to say, "You should have listened to me!" With weeks of bedrest, I've had lots of time to think.

Those thoughts were racing through my head on my way home from a doctor's appointment Wednesday, while listening to KJIL Christian radio. And then I gasped as heard the topic of the day:
"In Praise of Large Families" (The related article is here: The Case for Kids: A defense of the large family by a six-time 'breeder'")

No joking. The featured speaker was a woman who is a mother of five and used to work at university. She told of her boss saying snidely, when she announced her fifth pregnancy, "What is this? Nine or ten?" She also told of the many people who asked her, "You know what causes this, right?" Let's just say I can relate.

But I can also relate to her explanation as to why she chose to have a large family. To paraphrase her, she envisioned her family, gathered around the dining room table, holding hands in prayer, and it's a large circle. That large circle, that circle of love, is what I crave, what I love. In a large family, there is conflicting personalities sometimes, less resources sometimes, but there is more love, more people to support you, more of so very much that you don't miss what you have less of.

My immediate family wasn't very large -- I have two siblings -- but my parents both came from large families and I have always loved those family gatherings, the family network. I want that for my kids and grandkids.

So, back to my doubts. I laughed, thinking God must be trying to tell me something, and I felt like I was enveloped in His trusting hug. And it was only further reinforced when the next segment on the radio began. I can't remember what program it was, but the message tells of a little kid on an airplane throwing a fit because he can't be a pilot. The radio host then compared that to our relationship with God. We can throw a fit about our situation all we want, but God is still the pilot because He is the one who really knows how to navigate us the correct way.

And so, I'm going to try my best to stop throwing a tantrum like a five-year-old and let God pilot us, even if He is leading us through some serious turbulence right now.

Good report today

Doc appointment today went well, as in no news is good news. Baby looks good, growing right on schedule. I feel better, contractions are weaker, and the strict bedrest and drugs seem to be doing the trick. Emotionally, I'm less pouty than I was on Sunday.  It isn't about me; it's about the baby. If this works, then I can suck it up.

Wow- even as I wrote that, I had to laugh. I just told Jay Monday night that this is frustrating because normally if I don't feel well, I can just suck it up and get over it. I can't suck it up on this one, because it's not my health that's the problem -- it's the baby's health and long-term well-being. But, as I wrote that, I realized I DO have to suck it up, emotionally. No whining. Find ways to be entertained. Get over your own problems.

And really, do you have any idea how blessed we are? A college roomie and BFF drove 2 hours to bring me movies and just sit with me for 7 hours, just to talk. This friend taking kids to church, another taking them to religion, another making sure they get home and get to activities. My little bro bringing me lunch or drinks or running errands for us; he even went grocery shopping for us Monday. (That's a big accomplishment for my handicapped brother.) Family and friends bringing us meals, and mom driving up for two days just to transport Natalie and drive me to-from my doctor appointment. And then there are the online well-wishes and running advice from experienced moms and nurses and all the many prayers. Yes, we are blessed.

Thank you, everyone. Sincerely. Things have stabilized, we are doing better, we'll be okay.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Seriously. I am sitting in a recliner. I haven't been upright for more than meals and showers for almost 3 days. And here come the blankity-blankin' contractions. In a RECLINER!

And I'm in the recliner so I can try to figure out some of the financial and insurance stuff. I am so thankful I have the time to do that, truly. And it will all work out, with God's help; it always has. I'm just not sure I'm up for the hardships between now and our happily ever after.

Maybe it's the news, the shootings, the deaths. Probably more it's the response to it, the hatred voiced between anti-gun and pro-gun, blaming each other, blaming media, blaming so many.

Maybe it's just the frustration of being helpless, laying here while Jay runs circles to get done all he wants to do plus all that needs done.

And, really, NOW is when you decide that three of our four kiddos need to be sick? Right before Christmas? When I can't take them to the doctor? The doctor's office is NOT Jay's favorite place. That's pretty much been my territory since Katie was born.

I know there are good points, things to be thankful for. And I'll list them another time when I'm not ready to break. But right now, I need a little breakdown. A pout-fest. And maybe some quiet prayer time.

Goodness knows I'll have plenty of that in the days to come.

So, I hit submit, then went to my church's Web site to see what today's readings were. You know, since I haven't gotten to go to mass for three weeks -- refer back to the horizontal thing. And the following was the second reading. Huh. Guess that is a pretty clear message with some seriously great timing. Thanks for little miracles.

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Settled in

Months without posting, and now look! Well, what can I say -- I need somewhere to chronicle this, for Baby Jalapeno.

I'm settled in for the day, with my dear college roomie on the way with Amigos and conversation. Kids and Jay are away. I have my cell phone, a laptop, the remote, and a 32 oz drink. Thanks to facebook and texting, I even have a resident expert preemie-mama veteran just within reach. Not only is she helping guide me through this process and make sure all preventative steps are taken, she's also showed me how faith can carry you through the scariest of times. (Thanks, Mandy!)

Contractions have settled down, post procardia dose for the morning. I have never taken a med that I could so clearly see the effect. About 20-30 minutes after the dose, the contractions get weaker, if not more infrequent. Of course, I get weaker too, but that's worth it and only temporary.

I've still got this touch of optimism that says we're going to snuggle in here for the duration and deliver in March. I've also got a strong dose of reality that says, don't count on it. But, at least January seems much more attainable than it did a week ago.

Friday, December 14, 2012

28 weeks

Good news:
I passed the gestational diabetes test.
Baby's heartbeat returned to baseline after the terbutaline from last week.
Still no dilation.
Baby should be about 10 inches long and about 2 1/2 pounds long.
I got to talk to my doctor today, feel reassured we are doing all we can and trust in our plan. And, frankly, less terrified.

Bad news:
Still contracting.
Tired. Hurting.
Today, I rode to the doctor, sat their 2 hours for the GD test, ate lunch, walked into ONE store (I only needed one more to finish my Christmas shopping and really, really wanted to pick those out), and rode home, back to the couch. Tonight, I'm contracting every 5-6 minutes, lasting 60 seconds.
Bedrest continues.

Plan is to increase procardia dose to three times a day, continue bed rest. I got the steroid shots to mature baby's lungs, or at least stimulate surfactant levels. Plan on hanging out for a few more weeks.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A bit better

Today I got to sit up. The contractions only increased to every 7 to 10 minutes, we're only 45 to 60 seconds long, and aren't near as intense. They don't scare me like last week's contractions did. They did intensify when I went to the doctor's office, just from walking into the office, confirming that I probably won't be heading back to work any day soon.

I still have lots of worries but can feel God's presence and trust in His plan.

But, I did cry to Jay last night,"Haven't we been tested enough already?" Apparently not.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bed bound and down

27 weeks gestation
Gravida 7 Para 5
Contractions started
Procardia on board

I am frustrated. Grouchy. Hate the unknown -- will these stop? will I get to be up and about in the next few days? weeks? Will these contractions start making change, because at the point, we all get a lot more serious.

Is baby tolerating the squeezing and drugs? I know last week his/her heart rate increased 20 bpm and stayed there. I know the movements aren't quite as dramatic as before, but s/he's also running out of room to do that full flips. Still getting kicked aplenty.

I hate the helplessness. Our girls have been great, go-fer-ing all sorts of stuff. They made breakfast yesterday, and brownies in the afternoon. Right before all this kicked up, we had cleaned the house top to bottom, nesting I called it. We even got the laundry put away. Now, my requests to them are mostly just trying to keep the house picked up, maintained. Lainie's learned how to do to the dryer; Natalie is great at picking up and at unloading parts of the dishwasher. Maggie and Katie both now know how to load the washer and dishwasher.

Jay is of course a prince. He's gone grocery shopping, getting girls where they need to be, and not freaking at the longer term situation.

On the bright side, I do have disability insurance that may pay me my salary while I'm down...maybe. I'm still hoping I can get back to work and won't have to worry about that. We'll see what the week brings.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Speech graduate 2013?

It was almost 4 years ago that Lainie started speech therapy. First, it was with Infant Toddler Services, coming to our house for one-on-one therapy. Then, it was the one-two punch of K-State Speech and Hearing Center and our special education preschool program in our district. The speech therapy at K-State was for two hours every week, and the preschool was four days a week. Last summer, she graduated from K-State Speech and Hearing Center, but continued speech therapy at her grade school. And now, there is talk she will completely phase out of speech therapy at the end of this school year.

This is about where we started, November 2009, after 6 months of therapy at K-State: I think this was about the same time:

April 2010:

And January 2011:

And this is where we are now:

There were days, I thought if she could just communicate in some way, we'd have success. Now, I'm setting the goal that people will be in disbelief to hear she ever had a speech problem.

And the best part? She can be understood by her peers and complete strangers. No more strange looks, no more looking to me for interpretation, no more frustration and anger from Lainie at not being understood.

Thank God for speech therapists!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Natalie has been full of it today. She's made me laugh at least a half dozen times this morning already.

I asked her to get on her shoes, because she is perfectly capable of putting them on herself. She hemmed and hawed around, dawdled, and finally said, with a big Scarlet O'Hara worthy sigh, "Oh, I just can't." I told her to go in the foyer and practice putting her shoes on, saying I'd help her in ten minutes if she still needed it. Next thing I knew, I hear the piano playing and Natalie singing in the sweetest voice, "I don't know how to put on my shoes, and my mommy won't help me." Yes, she put her shoes on herself. No, she didn't need my help. Yes, it took another fifteen minutes.

Right before lunch, she was running a toy up and down a ramp, singing, "High, Low, High, Low" but it sounded like "High, whoa, High, whoa." I asked her to say, la la la, which she did correctly. Then I asked her to say, 'High, Low'. She did another Scarlet O'Hara sigh and, turning around, began signing, "Up, Down, Up, Down."  She won that round.

I'm going to need more sleep to stay ahead of this one.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Fall clean-up...I wish

Our house has been in such a state of disarray for longer than I care to admit. It just seems to build and I can't keep up with picking up behind the girls, and they can't seem to remember to put their things away. This is the point where my mom would say, "Huh. I had a daughter like that. Always had a messy messy room. What was her name again?" Yes, I know. I deserve it. But I get so tired of the constant battle.

Well, today, it became a team effort. Whether the clutter had just reached epic proportions or Jay and I were just both home and inside at the same time or the fact that we had two middle daughters trying to prove that they didn't need a nap, we finally got rooms picked up.

  1. The downstairs living room is vacuum-able. Since it was overtaken by Barbies, baby dolls and blankets during our little storm Friday night, that's quite the accomplishment.
  2. The upstairs living room is also vacuum-able, and all the books are back on the bookshelf.
  3. You can walk through the playroom. I don't expect much in that room, but there better not be any place for rodents to hide, and I need to be able to walk through the room in the dark.
  4. The clean clothes are all put away, including towels. Oh, but not socks. Socks are a contant epic battle, and right now the score is Socks-300; Mom-0.
  5. The bathrooms are picked up, both toilets and sinks cleaned, and one bathtub shower cleaned. My sinuses just wouldn't allow me to tackle a second shower.
  6. The dryer is out of my kitchen. Long story, but I'm so darn happy it's gone, and to a good home.
  7. The new-to-us washer is in the laundry room and runs batches of towels without traveling across the room.
  8. Two sets of bedding are washed and beds remade.
  9. Clothes are set out for the week.
  10. The kitchen was clean and sterilized, ready for jelly making. But, Jay needed cookies more than peach jam this week.
  11. And, it's all Jay, but he got the nest off the top of the chimney and discovered a problem with our sewer vents. Guess what his project is for next week?
  12. Maggie and Katie cleaned their rooms and sorted out the clothes that were too small or out of season. Maggie ended up with all her clothes in her dresser, which is quite the accomplishment.
I/we still need to:
  • sweep the wood floors in the living room, foyer, landing, and both stairs
  • sweep the kitchen and dining room and both bathrooms
  • mop the kitchen and dining room and both bathrooms
  • vacuum the few rooms with carpet
  • move out the old-to-us washer that's in the kitchen
  • finish two more batches of laundry
  • finish picking up the foyer
  • clean the downstairs shower
  • DUST (B,ut no reason to bother until fall harvest and free dump week is done. All that traffic on a dirt road means everything gets coated anyway.)
  • get the tubs of clothes in the upstairs storage closet, and
  • get to the landfill this week, during "free dump week" 
My list is going to be extra hard considering I hurt all over and the antibiotic did nothing for my sinus infection. Oh, and I work four nights and two days in the next seven days. But, at least I'm not ashamed if someone walks in our house.

Now, if only I can get the girls to keep it up. What a dream! Any suggestions for a fun way to motivating them, if only for a week or two?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pumpkin Harvest

This year, I had one garden request for Jay: to plant pumpkins not for sale but just for our girls to get to grow their own jack o'lanterns. And, his green thumb did not disappoint. He even kept it to a reasonable amount; in other words, he didn't plant 300 pumpkin plants!

Because we are expecting a hard freeze on Saturday night, last night was pumpkin harvest time. What do you think: do they look proud of their pumpkins?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

If you give a mom no butter

Today's plan, originally: get the bigs on the bus, take Natalie to preschool, go to sleep. Wake up to get Natalie, eat lunch, go back to sleep. Pick up kids from school, supper, then work a 12 hour shift.

  • Katie had to be at school early.
  • Since I had to take her to school, I might as well take Lainie and Maggie, too.
  • Because Katie had to be there so early, we had 15 minutes to waste, so we went to the zoo park.
  • Because we went to the park before I dropped off Lainie and Maggie, then Natalie, I was too awake to sleep, so I thought I'd make cinnamon rolls.
  • Because I needed butter for the cinnamon rolls, I needed to go to the grocery store.
  • Because I was going to the grocery store, I might as well make a menu for the week to finish all my grocery shopping.
  • And, because I was going to the grocery store, I might as well take the recycleables to the landfill on my way.
  • And, because I was going to the grocery store, and little bro Anthony is sick, I might as well get him some orange juice, soup, and medicine.
  • Because I went to Anthony's apartment to give him the soup, meds, and juice, I saw his apartment was bad-dirty.
  • Because I was already there, I might as well clean his bathroom and dishes.
  • Because that took until it was time to pick up Natalie, I might as well get her delivered to daycare before I go home.
  • Oh, and because I was going to the grocery store, I asked Jay if he needed more sugar for jelly. Which reminded him that I was available to open buildings.
  • Because it's now almost noon, I might as well make some lunch before I go to sleep.
So, when I got home I unloaded groceries, threw a pizza in the oven for me, opened buildings, and am maybe getting to bed by noon.

So much for >3 hours of sleep today. All because Katie needed to get to school early. Or, maybe it's sort of my fault for wanting to make cinnamon rolls.

(And why am I blogging instead of sleeping? Because it takes 13 minutes to cook the pizza and 12 minutes to post on my blog.)

How can you be frustrated when you see this hanging on your doorknob? Thanks, Lainie!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Weekend car ride

Driving 300+ miles in a vehicle with four girls is either certifiably insane or could drive you certifiably insane. It does, however, bring lots of opportunities for laughs:

  • Sitting at breakfast in Hays, Lainie asked me how to spell pancake. I started, "P-A-N" and Natalie finished "P-A-Out." 
  • Watching Natalie's face when she, for some reason, shook her juice bottle, not realizing it was open. I would have gotten upset at the juice all over the ceiling of the car, if not for her expressing at the juice all over her.
  •  Listening to the four girls somehow talk and giggle nonstop for the entire two-plus hour drive from Hays to Coldwater. 
And a few moments of frustration:
  • Our conversation through Greensburg was this: Lainie: Where are we? Me: Greensburg. Lainie: Where are we? Me: Greensburg. Lainie: Where are we? Me, turning, pronounciating and increasing in volume: We Are In Greensburg. Lainie: But where are we? ME: GREENSBURG!!!!!
  •  Lainie hollering "NOOOOOO" in frustration, just as the couple started to say their vows. Here's hoping it was just that loud to us.
  • My promise that if one more person made that kids meal toy bark, I was throwing it out the window. 

At the stops in between all the car time, we got to see my friend get married in a beautiful ceremony and fabulous celebration after, visit some dear friends who just moved a few more hours away, pop in to see my parents for an hour or so, and even see the rebuilding effort in Greensburg. Quite a weekend, indeed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lots of Firsts

I have an excuse, really I do. First, I found out I was pregnant but didn't want to "go public" so I posted nothing. Then first trimester ickiness hit and I didn't want to do anything. But, well, I at least want some record of this little one's journey.

We found out the last week of June that we were expecting #5, now named Baby Jalapeno. It was confirmed with a blood test about a week later, then reassured with another blood test about four weeks after that. The nausea has been bad, but not as bad as Katie's or Madi's pregnancies. The only different symptom with this one is the dizziness, which still hasn't gone away. The girls are quite excited for this new addition, thankfully. They didn't even complain about those couple weeks when I would lay down right after supper to keep the food down and they would clean off the table so I could rest. Yes, I know how lucky I am.

A little scare in August sent us for our first ultrasound and confirmed how hopeful we are that this little one arrives safe and sound in March. Hooray for a healthy heartbeat and a beautiful first photo:

There were a lot of other firsts in the past couple months. We had the first day of school for Katie, Maggie, and Lainie:

Natalie's first day of preschool:
I love how they seem to get more excited the younger they are.

A first time playing on the new swingset:
Taken at dusk, just as the last swing was hung.

First vacation to Mahoney State Park:
From the observation tower at Mahoney State Park, Nebraska.

 And our first new-to-us four-wheeler:

Just for pretend. No, I don't let them drive it. This is a Daddy-only toy.
So that about wraps it up. I'm working full-time but have a schedule that I really enjoy, and the family is adjusting to my night-shift. Things are starting to settle into some sort of routine. I might even get my house back in order after two years of neglect...maybe by Halloween. Ya, I think Halloween is a good goal.

But for now, I think I'll just enjoy the quite house. After all, around here, quiet is a rare commodity.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Good and bads

Bad: Natalie is sneaking books when she's supposed to be going to bed, just like her big sis Mags.
Good: We have another reader.

Bad: Not even a ShopVac can get glitter out of carpet.
Good: We have the shiniest, sparkly-est art room ever.

Bad: Um...having trouble coming up with a bad for this one. Oh, and Maggie got trophy-envy.
Good: Katie, Maggie, and I ran in the Alert Road Race last weekend. The rain held off until after the race, the wind helped cool us down, Maggie finished the mile with some encouragement, and Katie ran the entire mile and came home with her own trophy.

Bad: It is June 21, and we have yet to take the girls to the pool.
Good: They love the sprinkler and slip-and-slide.

Bad: Katie has yet to get a hit during a game this summer.
Good: Tonight, she got walked twice and got home with both of those. After the game, she told me, "Mommy, I prayed three Hail Mary's and an Our Father before I got up to bat that I would do good, and even though I didn't get a hit, I feel like I contributed to our team's win." That trumps any home run, in my book.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

One Lovely Friend!

Jina (Behold the Turtle), you made me get all teary-eyed. You know I don't like to cry. Crying is for the weak. :) Thank you for the nomination, you awesome chica!

And because I'd hate to defy any rules, I'll follow the steps:
  • Link back to the blogger who nominated you
  • Paste the award image anywhere on your blog
  • Share seven facts about yourself
  • Nominate other blogs you enjoy for this award
  • Post a comment on your nominees’ blogs to let them know of their nomination
Seven facts about myself...hmmm, following Jina's lead, I'll try to come up with 7 new ones. Or, at least seven facts that I'd want the general public to know:
  1.  I don't like sweets. I'll eat an occasional snickers and maybe a Hershey's with almonds bar every once in a while (like once every month or so) but I'd rather have something fried or cheesy.
  2.  I hate snot. Truly. Every time I hear someone cough or hock up a loogie, my stomach flips. Nice trait for a nurse, don't you think? 
  3. I have 51 58 first cousins. Most of you already know that, and the rest usually say, "seriously?!" So, I'll count them out at the bottom of this post. (And the more pathetic thing is once I wrote them out, I counted 58. I thought I only had 51.)
  4.  The idea of being a flight nurse sounds so awesome. To arrive at a critical scene, secure the patient, fly out to the best facility for the cool. I think that makes me an adrenaline junkie. Don't worry -- no more major career changes for a few years.
  5.  I like Christian music, especially Mercy Me and Laura Stone and Francesca Battistelli. I also like classic rock (AC/DC, Queen), country (Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley), some pop (Katy Perry), and even some true classic music (you know, the Bach and Beethoven route).
  6.  I don't like carrots, even though we have probably twenty pounds of carrots here at any time. I'll eat them cooked with honey or brown sugar, and I'll eat them raw because I'm supposed to. But, they aren't my favorite.
  7.  I love lists. So, maybe this is no secret, especially considering my insane calendar menu. Lists make me feel safe and comfortable and in control of things that are so not in my control.
So, that's me, in a nutshell. 

Now, I get to pay it forward! I LOVE paying it forward! Here are my three nominees for One Lovely Blog
  •  Behold the Turtle: You inspire me, and it has nothing to do with running. Your positive outlook, ability to ignore ugly stuff and ugly behaviors or at least put them behind you, your independence and drive, all traits I adore in you. 
  • Team Gramkow: You've shown me what to do when you put your trust in God that all with turn out okay, then realize you have to struggle yet again. And, what other blog is a seamless team effort!
  • Julia: I love to read your blogs, not only because of the craziness of your house of five, but because your writing style is amazing and you make me laugh every time. 
  • High Farming: Because it's my hubby's blog and I love the photos he takes and the step-by-step stories of how his veggies grow. And, I'm kind of partial to the header photo, even if it is a year old.
And that's it! Time to step away from the computer for the night. But first, my cousin lists...because I want to:
  1. Teresa
  2. Annie
  3. Craig
  4. Pat
  5. Kris
  6. Sandi
  7. Matt
  8. Mike
  9. Travis
  10. Mary
  11. Carol
  12. Shelley
  13. Chad
  14. Josh
  15. Zach
  16. Kayla
  17. Annie
  18. Kaine
  19. Michelle
  20. Shannon
  21. Tina
  22. Mark
  23. Chris
  24. Kent
  25. Kevin
  26. Danessa
  27. Ashley
  28. Zachary
  29. Jeremy
  30. Erica
  31. Angela
  32. Beatrice
  33. Denise
  34. Eva
  35. Faye
  36. Hope
  37. Ivan
  38. Julian
  39. Kent
  40. Loren
  41. Merle
  42. Nick
  43. Trudi
  44. Tranda
  45. Veronica
  46. Chris
  47. Sarah
  48. Ryan
  49. Melanie
  50. Kirk
  51. Gwen
  52. Lisa
  53. Eric
  54. Brad
  55. Stu
  56. Sharon
  57. Charles 
  58. Albert

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We did it

In December 2009, I had a tumor on my thyroid that scared me and reminded me that life is short and there isn't time for "shoulda woulda coulda." In December 2009, I signed up for my pre-requisites for nursing school, applied for LPN school at NCKTC, applied for every scholarship I could find, and dove head first into school. In December 2009, my crazy husband said, "You've talked about being a nurse for 6 years. We can make it work. It's your turn."  And so, it began.

Last Friday, I graduated from Cloud County Community College with an associates degree in nursing. I am officially an LPN and am one big test away from being an RN.

I work at a local hospital and love what I do. Truly, LOVE what I do. I'm still studying, because of that big test coming up in three weeks. But I'm not driving to Concordia (or Beloit) daily, plus working, plus mommying, plus just trying to be me, plus trying to make do on one income. I am so relieved about how much easier our lives are about to be that it literally brings me to tears.

Now, we will still seem crazy busy at times. We have four beautiful girls who are signed up for softball (three of them), 4-H camp, Pioneer Camp, vacation bible school, and Totus Tuus.  We will still have swimming lessons and eight weeks of speech therapy twice a week. We'll still be doing our Slick Chick Summer School and the library reading program, to make sure they don't regress over the summer. We have literally thousands of plants growing around this place, and Farmers Market twice a week. And, I'll be working three nights a week.

But we'll also have train rides and fishing trips and water parks and camping trips and zoo days and lazy days and sleepovers and playdates and Saturday morning runs and sidewalk chalk and redneck water slides. We'll have family meal time and, best of all, no more Friday morning tests and Thursday nights of "Go to sleep, girls, and don't fight me on this tonight. I have a huge test tomorrow."

The drive home. Time to kick up your feet.
I get to be wife and mom and nurse. Not, nursing student.

Thank you, God.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Step Away From the Screen

Surely you’ve heard this song:

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin' 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say "I'm gonna be like you dad
You know I'm gonna be like you"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home dad?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

I was think of this song and how it applies to moms today; or, at least it feels like it applies to me. It's been a long two years of school, where my time was so divided that I didn't get to parent like I would like to.

Then, there was a blog post circulating, talking about not setting our self-expectations so high. But, the part of that blog post that caught my eye was:

"...I realized that my family doesn’t care about what I see on Pinterest. They care about me."

True, our kids don’t expect perfection from us. They don't crave gourmet cinnabuns or color-coordinated candelabras. But, I bet our kids do crave our time. How much time do we spend a day on facebook? On email? Discussion boards? Blogs? And, for me, homework sites? I have avoided pinterest because I am afraid it would just suck more of my time. At least when we watch TV, we do it as a family. It’s not very likely we are checking a Web site with a little helper standing beside us, enjoy the time.

I’m just afraid that I’ll be like that dad in the song, spending all my time trying to provide some self-driven elevated quality of life but forgetting about quantity of life. My kids want my time and the memories that come from it more than they want decorated walls or expensive shoes or fancy, gourmet meals.

And yes, I recognize the hypocrisy in writing this on a blog, when I could be spending time with my girls. For what it’s worth, I didn’t type this until they were tucked in bed. It’s not so much as draw away from my kids tonight, as it is a stall from starting studying.

Do I want to eliminate Facebook from my life? No. Do I expect Jay to sign off his gardening discussion boards? Nope. But I do expect us to limit our computer time as much as we limit their screen time. I do expect us to not try to “finish one more post” before tending to their needs.


I wrote the above on Wednesday night. Since then, I've been careful to minimize my time on the computer and put the kids before the screen... with the exception of cramming for two tests and a clinical.

Today, I promised the girls I wouldn't get on the computer until after supper. You should have heard their cheers, even when I followed that up with, "So instead, we're going to clean the house!" The biggest surprise to me is that the girls would rather spend time with me cleaning the house than they would me sitting on the computer while they watch TV.

They just want my time, as limited as that is. I can't give them every hour of every day. I can't always stay off the computer, when my school responsibilities pull me on. I will still get on Facebook... but maybe not as much. But for today, I'm grateful that I was able to spend so much time with my girls.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Who are you again, and why do we share the same name?

This week I learned a lot. I learned about mental illness, what it feels like to be behind multiple barbed-wire fences, how to be "rude for a minute", and much more. But best of all, I learned how to appreciate my husband.

From Sunday to Sunday, we spent less than 30 minutes together. By together, I mean in the same room at the same time AND awake. I had a three day field trip for school, one day of lecture, followed by three nights of work and three days of sleeping, plus some extra napping to kick this cold I caught. He had five days of work plus kids plus gardening, followed by one day of tilling with a rented tractor, followed by planting while I slept. Even last night, he had grading and I had homework. We were both in the house but both silently working.

I miss Jay. He's such a good husband and father. Like any good man, he has his days. :) But his days are few and far between, and usually caused by lack of sleep from teaching all day, gardening all evening, and grading into the night. Truly, how many men know how to put in ponytails and cook healthy, delicious dinners and grow amazing produce and teach junior high kids.

Fourteen years ago this week I met Jay at Longhorns in Aggieville on a Wednesday night...typical behavior for me, a rare occurrence for him. I wish I had a better story for the girls (Of course, I met your father at Church. Or at class! Ya, that's it. At class!) but yes, we are one of the many, many Aggieville marriages.

And what a great marriage it is!
Hanging out in Colorado, pre-kids

Friday, February 24, 2012

Natalie Turns Three!

(Funny side note to start -- I wrote Natalie turns two as the title. Yep, it went that fast.)

My Natalie-new is three years old, although she'll tell you she is six. She is a handful, stubborn, comical, strong-willed, entertaining, stubborn, loving, and did I mention stubborn? She set the new family record for bite-in-mouth-without-swallowing earlier this winter, and not too much has changed since. We've talked about potty training, tried panties-and-clean-up for three weeks, tried pull-ups, tried just letting it go. Her reaction now? She laid on the floor this morning and said "wah-wah-wah, I a baby mommy. I need a diaper." Inversely, she loves being a big helper and is so excited when we remember to ask her to do something, like get napkins or help make cupcakes or fix the toilet.

But she also laughs with her whole being. She loves to play/say "The Three Little Pigs" over and over again. Her little language missteps crack us up, like saying Bs for Ts (which makes Boots pretty funny) and that she sings her ABCs as "S-E-X-W-E-Y-C", and no I don't know where either of those sayings came from. Her favorite phrases are “Guy, guys, come on, guys! Wook at dis!” and “Come here!” which comes out “Tum here!” We hear a lot of “I don’t know” when she doesn’t want to answer, even if she does know. Refer back to “stubborn.”

She adores pancakes and Walleta's and her sisters and Bubble Guppies and Dora the Explorer and "my park" aka the new playground in town.

I did get her to the Child Check for development screening a few weeks ago, and she checked out a-okay. I worry about her speech, since she hears so many incorrect sounds from her big sisters. But there isn’t a big alarms that say she’s headed toward speech therapy. Developmentally, she’s right where she should be.

I don't know how much she weighs or how tall she is, because I'm a slacker mom aka mom-in-school and will schedule her 3-year well-child check for spring break. But I know she is a little one, still a lightweight. She still has those gorgeous blue eyes and shocking blonde hair. Thanks to a few battles and falls, her nose has the tiniest little bump-scars right on the bridge, which she tends to scratch at and scab over and over again.

Her birthday celebration was a bit toned down, but apparently included everything she wanted it to have. Balloons were delivered to daycare, and cupcakes were made (from scratch) with pink inside, purple frosting, and M&Ms on top... just like she requested. Special happy face pancakes.

And, yes, we sang to her, just like she told us to.

And look who has decided the camera is her friend:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Our mornings

Having a houseful of girls, we get all sorts of funny comments and expressions from people. Often we hear, "Oh, I can only imagine what mornings are like!"

Well, here's a taste of a good one:

Thursday, February 16, 2012


We've had some rough spots in the past two months, some of which we've shared for the bolster of support, some of which we've held close, to heal on our own. Altogether, it's just hard, sometimes too hard.

Everywhere I look for sayings, songs, prayers, psalms, something to boost my faith and spirit. I need that reassurance that God has a master plan and there is a reason to kick us while we are down. Even the superficial struggles -- financial, car troubles, home repairs, scheduling conflicts, work challenges, school struggles -- are enough to break me. I feel like a playdoh version of myself trying to lift a boulder without losing my shape.

But on the bright side, my husband is awesome. He made me rest when I needed rest, he took care of the household when I couldn't. He took care of the girls, he took care of me. Now, he's got a cold and is exhausted and I can't find even half a day that he can and would stop and rest. I can't return the favor, because I'm spending every spare minute trying to get through this last semester of school. All I can do is try to take back the household chores and free that time for him. That's not much when growing season has started.

But growing season's start and Ash Wednesday and taxes done and spring break just a few weeks away -- all that means that we are halfway through this spring. It means we aren't far from the end of this struggle, this two and a half year struggle.

Lord, I pray it has been worth it. I hope I didn't put my family through this for nothing. I know I'll be happier, but I pray they will be too.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A few of my favorites

Just for grins, here are a few scenes that make me a happy mama:

A pre-teen who always has something to say

My two crazy chicas playing a shape-memory game

Our little ladies, all ready for church

A sweet kitty who puts up with lots of love

Doggy breath steaming up my door

Silly faces, Little People, and dirty shirts

A little treat

A daddy who rescues fish and sneaks in a science lesson

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I clearly remember in August thinking, "Wow. Things are going so well right now, so smooth. That's not going to last, so I better enjoy it now."

I'm grateful for that respite, because things are piled up now. Jay's mom is having a mastectomy tomorrow, and we're hoping the tumor is small, contained, and not spread to lymph nodes. His grandmother is adjusting to life in the nursing home and recovering from a nasty infection of some sort. And his other grandma is having surgery to place a stint in an artery next Monday. And, Lainie's Trileptol dose doubles tomorrow morning.

But today, today was not tomorrow. And tomorrow's worries can wait for another 15 minutes or so. Today, I took Lainie to school and heard a great report from her teacher, who sees no side effects or behavioral changes from the medication or seizure. Praise God!

The rest of the day was Natalie-Mommy time. We hung out together, all day, just the two of us. We made rice krispie treats, her first time, and a pie. She put on a little apron, used her little oven mitt and mixing spoons, and just had fun. We watched Bubble Guppies together, colored a picture, read a few books, and tried some potty training. No fits, lots of talking, lots of tickling, and lots of giggling from her and smiling from me. I needed that.

And, then, we got the mail and had a card with no return address with a visa cash card for us, signed a friend from our church. Just as we are dropping Jay's truck off for a major mechanical repair.

God always gives us what we need, if we are willing to receive it and sometimes willing to wait for it and always willing to work for it. I truly believe that and I hope you do, too.

But I hope you can believe it without going through hardships to come to that realization.