Sunday, July 15, 2012

When doing the right thing is the hard thing

Seems like I have had to do this a lot lately.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm just in a confrontational period of my life right now, but most of the time I know that what I'm doing is the thing that God wants me to do.  I hope the latter is correct.  Probably like most people, I feel justified in my belief that something is right or wrong.  I just pray that I am listening closely enough to what God wants from me in these situations.

The initial choice is usually the easy part for me.  Or at least it has been lately.  It's the AFTER.  The wondering, "was that right?  Did I come off as selfish or controlling or was I able to speak the truth in love?  Did God really say to do that or was that just my imagination, which is obviously controlled by my own motives?"

Tonight I had to do it again.  I felt in my gut that something wasn't right.  I prayed about it, asked for direction, felt like God's leading was obvious, and took action.  As usual, the other party wasn't happy.  But the title of this post is not "When doing the right thing is the AWESOME thing that everyone will adore you for."  This is hard.  It stinks.

I know that my choice was the best one for my child, but I still feel crappy about it.  I'm going to ride out this season of hard conversations and disappointed and angry people.  I'm going to hang on and try to see what God is teaching me through all this.  Diplomacy?  Obedience to him even when it sucks?  How to gracefully do the not-so-fun side of parenting and leadership?

One foot in front of the other.  Moving on.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Man, it's been a long time!

I don't know what to say other than LIFE IS CRAZY right now!!  It seems like any free moment I get, I do not want to spend trying to write a coherent blog post that looks like it was written by someone who knows the English language.  So I sit and cruise pointless TV like "The Bachelorette" or "Teen Mom."  (Confession:  I love drama.  Other people's drama.  Drama that causes me to be thankful for the lack of drama in my own life.)  (How many times can I say drama in this post?)

So let me briefly recap the events of the past 3ish months.

late March to mid-April:  Officially accepted into the nursing program.  Busy looking for a new home.  Found one and signed the lease on April 13 with move-in date set for June 1st.  Registered Natalie for school and had my fingers crossed that we would end up at Barkstall.
April to mid-May: Finish my spring semester and kids' school year came to a close.  Become determined to get a head start on packing.
late May: still have not packed. Randomly decided to make a call about Natalie's school placement since I hadn't heard anything yet.  Found out later that day that she was PLACED AT BARKSTALL!!  Enrollment needed to be completed the following day!  Thank you, GOD for prompting me to call!!!
May 30th: packing like a crazy woman.
June 1st-June 3rd: Entertaining kids while packing (haha) while Kevin paints and cleans the house.
June 4th: MOVING DAY!  Loaded up the kids and took them to Lyila's!  Thanks again, Lyila!  We spent a very long day getting everything done.  But oh what sweet relief to be all the way into our new house.
June 6th to June 11th: Kevin was completely immobilized due to all the lifting and painting and other amazing things he did to get us in our home.
June 11th: I started my summer insanity class.  Life got immediately more nutso since it was my self-appointed job to wear the kids out before I go to class so they'll be napping for the majority of the time I'm gone in the afternoon.  Hello, parks and playgrounds and walks and busyness!
July 3rd to 8th: Embark on our first-ever family vacation to Pensacola, Florida.  We had an amazing time.  The kids did surprisingly well minus a few interstate-induced meltdowns.  So well, in fact, that we're going to make this trip an annual one.  We visited with some of Kevin's friends from his football days at the University of Tennessee on the way back.  They were some of the sweetest people you can imagine.  Can't wait until we see them again in September!  
Today, July 12th: I finished my 5th week of anatomy and physiology today.  Only 3 weeks left.  I can't wait until it's done!!
Up next: Natalie is going to be busy over the next three weeks.  She's at her dad's visiting with her grandparents now through Sunday.  Then next Thursday they'll take her on another trip.  She'll return Monday the 23rd.  We'll have a meeting with her kindergarten teacher on the 24th, and then she starts school either the 25th or 26th!
After that: I officially start NURSING classes (!!!) on August 20th, and Nathan begins HeadStart after Labor Day.  

In between all of these activities, I, along with my dear friend Christine, have been working hard on organizing the mom's ministry at church with a bunch of amazing women.  We have about three to four meetings a month plus phone calls every day or at least every other day.  God is all over this ministry, and we are so so so excited to see the impact of all this hard work in the coming year. 

At the end of last year when I was envisioning how this summer would look, I never pictured any of this.  It's amazing what happens when God lights a passion in my heart for Him and His work, for school, for the vision Kevin and I have for our family, for my future career, for all of it. 

And I'll leave you with some pictures!

Grrrrr....well, I would leave a sampling of pictures over the last few months, but my phone and computer are refusing to cooperate.  I'll get back to this later.  I'm in no mood for finicky technology at the moment! :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Grandpa Apfelstadt would be proud

Mmmmmmm....cantaloupe. It was delicious!! But I didn't look nearly as cute eating it as Nola did!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Glasses for Natalie

My sweet, grown-up looking girl got glasses on Tuesday.  She is farsighted with an astigmatism, and the optometrist looked at me like I was crazy for not having her in there sooner to get a prescription.  After a few days of sore eyes and a tired and cranky girl, she told me yesterday, "I don't even notice I have glasses on, Mom!"  So glad that the adjustment to glasses was so easy! 

Shaving cream

Good, clean fun.  They had a blast, my table got cleaned, and they had a bath afterwards which left them smelling lovely all day long.

Picnic lunch

They helped make their sandwiches and went out to enjoy a nice picnic together....or at least until the "he touched me!!" stuff started. Sigh.

But hey, at least the picture is sweet.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

how Nola falls asleep

Baby on the face, nebulizer treatment underneath, nursing, and cuddling.

Monday, May 7, 2012

That was close

We were heading out to pick up our table yesterday and saw these clouds beginning to swirl and mix around. Apparently the siren went off shortly after, but we didn't hear it at all. Thankfully it moved out quickly in the opposite direction we were going!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Birthday Dance Party

Daddy dancing with Nola

Happy kiddos (notice the audience on the couch?)


air guitar?

"Mommy, look at me!" him!
Nola's dancing with Tigger

"Look at Daddy!"


Taking a break

"uh oh!"
This girl can boogie.

Disco fever!

Some sort of hip-hop move?

Shakin' what her mama gave her!

Hilarious!  In mid-air.  Normally I don't condone jumping off the couch, but this was an exception!

Happy 3rd birthday, Nathan!

I'm going to jump on this birth-story-for-birthdays bandwagon because it's such a great idea!  Not to mention the fact that I love birth stories myself!

Nathan was by far my easiest labor and delivery.  For some reason, everything about my pregnancy with him was laid back and relaxed.  Although I was quite sick in the beginning and had some sort of cardio-pulmonary scare around the 7-month mark, pregnancy with Nathan was footloose and fancy free.  I don't remember ever being anxious for birth or feeling like I was going to die if I didn't deliver immediately.  And that is probably because he surprised us by coming at 38 weeks and 5 days!

It was a Tuesday afternoon.  I had my weekly OB appointment, and Natalie stayed with Kevin while I went down there myself.  At the appointment, my midwife checked me and said I was 4 cm dilated.  And I responded, "that's technically active labor, right?!"  She said yes, if there were noticeable contractions which there weren't at the time.  Then she proceeded to tell me not to go into labor that night because she was going to be on the WCIA morning show the next day and wouldn't be on call that night.  Ummm...ok?

So I left the appointment around 4:45 feeling pretty excited that I could potentially go into labor at any time.  And as soon as I got on I-57 heading back to Rantoul, there were the contractions.  Not painful, just noticeable, regular, and obviously labor.  I got home a little after 5 and fixed supper.  Kevin had a meeting that night, so I was busy putting Natalie to bed all the while knowing that that night was the night.  I called my mom around 7:30 and told her what was going on, and she prepared to come stay with Natalie.  I called Kevin and told him we were going but that he didn't have to hurry because the contractions still weren't painful.

My mom and Kevin both got to the house at about the same time around 8:15, and off we went.  We drove slowly to the hospital (no rushing or freaking out), and we talked and enjoyed being together.  We got to the hospital around 9, and they had no beds on the labor and delivery floor.  We had to wait a little bit until they decided that they would just put me in a recovery room until another room opened up.  They did all my admission stuff and checked me again to find that I was 6 cm dilated and like 75% effaced.

We got more excited that he was coming, but we were on our phones texting friends and checking facebook and talking back and forth.  I still marvel at how calm and natural we felt.  It was really quite a different feel than Natalie's birth and even Nola's birth also.  Finally they were able to move us into a regular room, and there we were blessed with the best nurse ever.  I don't remember her name, but she was awesome.  And we also got to meet with the midwife on call, Cathy.  She was so fantastic, and she checked me and said I was about 7 and that the water was bulging and would likely break if I got up and walked around.  So we walked for awhile still chatting and laughing as if we were on a date rather than having a baby.

The water didn't break, so we went back to the room since we were sort of tired and then she broke my water.  They kept asking me if I wanted an epidural or if I thought I'd be okay, and I really had no idea what to expect since the first part had been so easy.  But I was afraid that I would end up really close to the end and freaking out, so I took the epidural at about 8 1/2 cm.  I fell asleep for awhile, and woke up to ridiculous pain on my left side.  I could feel everything.  Contractions, his head, everything.  I buzzed the nurse, and when she came in I said, "it's time."  And she told me that she would check me and that it was likely that I was just feeling more pressure.  But when she checked me, she said, "Okie dokie, you're about to have a baby!"

Cathy came in and got ready, and I was feeling this insane urge to push.  I pushed through it, and he was almost out.  I pushed again, and he crowned.  I pushed one last time, and his shoulders came through and our baby boy was born at 3:43 in the morning on April 22nd under a crescent moon with a star (or something) on each side of it.  They put him up on my chest, and he didn't make a sound.  They sucked the stuff out of his mouth and nose and put him under the heat and still he was quiet.  I started to get a little worried, but Kevin was so awesome to come and tell me he was fine and breathing normally.  And then one of the nurses moved out of the way and I could see for myself that his little chest was going up and down.  He was just so relaxed like we were that he must not have felt like crying.

And that's the story of our precious boy's birth.  He's such a handsome little guy.  He's growing into quite the little storyteller and sweet brother.  Here are some pictures from his birthday celebration today.

Breakfast: birthday waffles with nutella and sprinkles.

Grandma helping Nathan open his birthday present

Post-dinner cupcake
Nathan's stats:
He's 38.6 lbs and 42" tall.

Nathan's favorite things:
his sisters
school and all of his friends.
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
scrambled eggs
praying when somebody gets an owie
Thomas the train
going for rides in the car
going to parks with Daddy and Sissy
laughing and being silly
having Daddy lay with him while he goes to sleep
helping Grandma with grocery shopping
spending time at Grandma and Grandpa's house

I can't wait for his class party tomorrow.  I'm going to bring bubbles and join them for their outside time and then read the kids a story.  And then Nathan gets to bless each of his friends with an "I Spy" book of their very own. 

Love celebrating my kiddos even though the time goes by way too fast!

Friday, April 20, 2012

house story

I've been "writing" this story in my head for awhile, but it's just not coming together as I would like.  So my hope is that by getting it out of my head and into black and white it will suddenly congeal and make sense in a way that it's not currently.

So if you've talked to me at all or glanced in my general direction while I've had my laptop on my lap anytime in the last two months, you'll know that we've been searching desperately for a new place to call home. 

A quick google search will define "desperate" this way:

"Tried in despair or when everything else has failed; having little hope of success"

This is exactly what my attitude has been for about two months.  And it has literally been suffocating.  After hearing that we had not been selected for the house we REALLY wanted, I tried to make sense of what I had felt God say to me about that house during that time of waiting for the decision.  Had I missed something?  Did I interpret his leading incorrectly?  Did I even know what I was listening to?   And the answer, plain and simple, was "Yes, you do know what you're listening to.  But now I have a new plan."

So, okay God.  You've got this.  We decided that we would stay where we are and be happy with how blessed we've been here.  I even went so far as to make a schedule of how I expected my weeks would go in the fall when the craziness of nursing school ensues.  That was on April 9th.  I budgeted time for driving both ways to school, study time, class time, even a small two-hour slot for TV time on Mondays.  I got some acceptance about where God had placed us.

Then Tuesday the 10th after Mom2Mom, I decided to take the kids out to lunch.  As we were driving up Prospect heading to Wendy's since I really wanted a spicy chicken sandwich and the kids' nuggets come with 5 each, so I can just take one out of each of them to give to Nola (very economical, no?), the thought of Fazoli's popped into my mind.  Okay, I've never taken them there.  But we've had plenty of chicken nuggets in our lives, why not do something different?  So with very enthusiastic kids, I pulled into Fazoli's and we went in to eat.

As we were sitting there enjoying various delicious pasta dishes, the realtor who had shown us a house in Savoy (and had selected someone else for said house in Savoy) stopped at our table and said, "I don't know if you remember me."  To which I said, "Of course I do!" And she said, "There's a house that is just coming available, and I think it would be perfect for you guys."  Astounded, I probably mumbled a muddled thanks so much.  And she gave me the address and told me to talk to Kevin and give her a call if we wanted to see it.

For the rest of the meal, I was trying to be the good mom who doesn't let her kids throw stuff on the floor and act crazy because she was sitting pretty close to us.  Luckily, they were in a cooperative mood and super cute that day.  So I got the kids loaded up after we were done eating and took them to school, came home and put Nola down for a nap, and waited for Kevin to get home.  When I told him about it, he was excited to go see it.  So we called Fawn and made an appointment to see it that Thursday.  To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about going to see this house because I just didn't want to be disappointed again.  But I tried to pull it together and get excited about what we would see.

Thursday finally came after the longest Wednesday forever in the history of the world, and we dropped the kids off and headed down to Champaign which felt like another of our house-hunting dates where we get really excited about a house and then drive home with a whole lot of anxiety over whether or not we'd get it.  On the way down, Fawn called to confirm the appointment.  She hadn't done that when we had seen the house in Savoy, so that was sort of exciting.  When we pulled up in front of the house, I felt a peace and a sense that my heart was opening to whatever we'd find there. When we stepped inside, there was such serenity that we felt welcomed into some huge loving arms.  As we walked through the house, I really began to picture us there.  That was crazy because the rooms are much smaller than we have now, but the flow of the house and the peace we felt were indescribable.  Toward the end of the showing, Fawn made it clear that she had pretty much decided we were the future tenants of the house if we wanted it.  She said that she did have someone coming right behind us, and if they were to turn in an application that she'd have to give it consideration.  But in her mind, we were the ones she was going to recommend to the owner.

We walked out of there on cloud ninety-nine.

Not thirty minutes later, she called to tell us that she was pleased to inform us that we were selected for the home.


The best part about all of this is that I've learned to trust God in a way that I never have before.  I am absolutely certain that He knows what we need before we do, and He's so ready to give it to us as long as we ask and are willing to wait for His response.

Another extra cool part of this story is that our friend, Angela stopped me after a Mom2Mom meeting in March to tell me that during worship and ministry time she had gotten a picture of a house for us.  She didn't want to say it in the group for whatever reason, but when she told me I immediately thought of another house we had considered.  I showed her that picture, but it wasn't exactly like what she had seen in her mind.

After seeing the picture of this house, she exclaimed, "THAT'S IT!"

I'm so thankful for amazing people around us who encourage us and are willing to share God's thoughts with us.

Can't wait to move and spend all summer with my kids in the pools and parks making them tired so they can go home and take a nap while I go to school only 5 miles from our house!

God is totally and utterly amazing.

sleep stories

So, for most of Nola's life I've been decidedly against cry-it-out for her.  Don't ask me why.  It worked totally fine for Natalie (most of the time), and Nathan was just an easy sleeper from the get go.  But with Nola, I just never felt like it was right with her.  So for 14 months, I've been at her mercy as far as when bedtime or naptime is likely to occur.  About a month ago, I started laying her down to fall asleep but staying with her with my hand on her back until she was asleep.  But something changed about 2 weeks ago, and it quit working.  She suddenly thought it was playtime, and she would cry for a little bit and then get up and laugh at me.  Needless to say, I was far from amused.

So for the past week or so, we've been nursing before sleeping still.  But if she wakes when I put her in bed, I lay her down and tell her it's night-nights and leave the room.  I come back at five minutes if she's crying, do the same thing.  Then if she continues to cry, I go back ten minutes after that.  And so on and so forth.  Fortunately she usually falls asleep before I have to go in there a third time after 15 minutes, but there are exceptions (like tonight).  But the really miraculous thing is that not only am I not stuck putting her to bed for three hours, she's also sleeping through the night now!  She'll usually go from about 7:30 to between 4 and 6 without waking up to nurse.  And by that point, I usually go ahead and bring her to bed with me for some well-deserved snuggles while she nurses and snoozes until she hears the kids wake up.

And not only is she sleeping through the night, she's also taking 1-2 amazing naps during the day.  She typically only gets one on the days I have school because she waits for me to get home to nurse her at around 12:30, and then she'll sleep 2-3 hours.  Although, she did fall asleep on Daddy for a morning nap for the first time this week so maybe she'll start doing more of that.  On days that I'm home, she starts whining for a nap by about 9:30 or 10 depending on when we get out of bed.  And then she'll take her nebulizer treatment while she's nursing and fall right to sleep for two hours, wake up for lunch, play a little bit, and go right back down around 2 or 2:30 for another 2 hours and still go to sleep for the night at 7:30!  I must say I love this new routine we've developed, and I know she's a happier little girl now that she's getting all the sleep she needs.  I can't help but wonder if the asthma had anything to do with the poor sleeping too.  Who knows...

And now that I've reported her amazing progress to the world, it's likely that things will do a 180.

I'm aware of this risk.  Praying that Jesus continues to work this miracle in my precious girl's life!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hearing without listening

I don't know why, but over the past two days I've felt so burdened for families with kids with chronic and/or life-threatening illness.  Whether it's a first-time mother who has lost her baby at about seven months gestation or a 10-year-old boy fighting for his life against cancer, I feel deeply for them.  My heart is broken wide open for the situation.  I just read another story of a 4-year-old boy who was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy as a baby.  Heartbreaking.  But there is such beauty in each of these stories.  There is such strength and empowerment in the lives of these families.  There is a tenderness in the daily struggle and sorrow that I can clearly never know in two days of being touched by the stories.  But the overall effect these stories are having on my perspective of and attitude toward my children and life in general is completely overwhelming.

In some ways, I feel like these pulls on my heart are part of God's call on my life.  I've known for awhile now that my ultimate career goal is to practice somewhere in obstetrics, maternal-child health, pediatrics, somewhere along those lines.  So there's that aspect, but I think reading about the ridiculously difficult experiences of these families also makes me realize how fortunate I am to have the struggles that I do have. 

In a season that is difficult in many ways, perspective is quite a blessing.  I need to know that having children who disobey more often than they obey is not the end of the world.  (Yet.)  I need to know that not sleeping will likely not kill me, at least not until I'm old and predisposed to Alzheimer's due to said lack of sleep.  I need to know that all of my struggles could be a million times more difficult.  Perspective, an important reality check.  A quick snap of God's fingers in front of my face. 

So yes, God.  I hear you even though I wasn't listening for this kind of message.  Thanks for the grace to see my life from the perspective you've given me.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

That deserves a blog post

Nola has developed quite the little personality lately.

The act that precipitated this post was a visit from Nola as I was sitting in my chair a few minutes ago.  She walked over with a little block, put it in my lap, and took off with my phone.  A perfect trade.

She loves to say "whoa" and "wow" for everything.  "Nola, look at this book."  "Wowwww." 

No (nah) is also a new favorite.  "Nola, do you want your cup?"  "Nah."

She and Nathan have this insane sibling rivalry.  I don't know how children develop that at this young age.  They literally have fights over toys, me and Kevin, places to sit, space to look out the patio door or front door, food, and the list goes on.

Hi and bye are also becoming favorites.  Whenever she sees somebody getting shoes or a coat on, she says, "Buh buh bye!!"  Now, this does not necessarily mean she's giving you permission to leave without her.  Usually she gets upset if she doesn't get to come too.  She has started to engage other people in conversation at the store, restaurants, church, etc.  So exciting to see her come out of her shell.

Also, SHE'S WALKING!!!  She's really gotten it down over the past couple days, and she's even figured out how to turn around and bend down to get something.  Her favorite thing to do is get her snack cup from me at the gate to the kitchen and walk off with it like a big girl. 

This is such an exciting stage for us with Nola, and I'm happy to report that it has produced better sleeping habits as well. (YES!)

So amazing watching our precious little girl doing new things!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sickies (part 2)

Oh yes.  There is yet another chapter in this ridiculous sickness saga.

I had to take Nathan in to convenient care this afternoon when I went down for my physical because I just couldn't take the fact that he couldn't stop coughing.  He was literally coughing 5-6 times per minute all morning long.  And I'm glad I took him.  Turns out his oxygen levels were down to 94%, which apparently is bad for his age.  The NP we saw, who was as amazing as the lady we had yesterday for Natalie, checked him out ever so gently and told me that he may need a chest x-ray.  I sort of got worried at that point, and seeing my anxiety, she suggested that we could try a stronger nebulizer medication before going the x-ray route.  So we sat there and Nathan patiently took his treatment.  Then I had an appointment with my doctor upstairs for my school physical, so we went to get that over with while the medicine took effect for Nathan.

We came back down to convenient care after my appointment and a quick trip to the lab, and when they checked his pulse-oximetry again, it was a much better 98-99%.  So we got to skip out on the x-ray today and came home with a script for this Pulmocort nebulizer treatment that he's supposed to get twice a day for at least two weeks and possibly longer.

We're supposed to go see Dr. Schuster next week. (Thank you to Michigan State for losing so we can have our favorite doctor back!)  Sounds like we might get an official diagnosis of asthma, which would probably involve daily maintenance treatment.  Totally fine with me since that may help prevent this never-ending cycle of bronchitis every four to six weeks.

Anyway, please be praying for my boy.  He's so pitiful right now, and I really really hope that this medication takes care of this problem.

In other news, Natalie is much better.  Unfortunately, because she's been out of commission for two weeks as far as making mischief goes, we got an extremely heavy dose of ANNOYING this afternoon and evening.



Still sort of worried about Nola because she's still running a fever.  I have a feeling I'll have to take her down tomorrow, but I just couldn't take her today because of my appointment.  And I couldn't cancel it again.  So we'll see how she is, but I pray that Jesus would just totally heal her overnight.

And that's it on the sickies for now...


So over the past two weeks, we've had some crazy bugs going around this house. 

  • Natalie started things off with what looked like stomach flu - fever, hourly puking, and body aches.
  • Nathan and Nola were starting with cold symptoms which always ends up in sinus infections and ear infections.
  • Took everybody to the doctor on Friday (3/9) (and saw somebody else because Dr. Schuster is out because Michigan State is doing well in the NCAA tournament ... wha?!?) and heard the three words no parent with sick kids wants to hear: "It's just viral."
  • Decided to take them to the again on Tuesday (3/13).
  • Nathan had a sinus infection and bronchitis (ummm...duh?) which landed him prescriptions of augmentin, hydroxyzine, and albuterol nebulizer treatments.
  • Nola had an ear infection and beginnings of a sinus infection.  Amoxicillin and hydroxyzine for her. (again, duh.)
  • Didn't have Natalie checked at that point because I was sold on the viral diagnosis.
  • Natalie seemed to improve a little, so I sent her to her dad's for the weekend.
  • He called and said she had a fever of 102.4 Sunday night.
  • Meanwhile, the other two were not getting better.
  • Nola spiked a 102.8 fever Sunday night too.
  • Nathan's fever came back that night too, but it wasn't as high - 101, I think.
  • Got Natalie back on Monday (3/19) morning and spent all day trying to manage fevers.
  • Kids continued to show no improvement on all the medicine, and Natalie was still miserable.
  • Called the doctor about Nathan and got a different antibiotic for him.  Waited a few more days as suggested for Nola.
  • Yesterday was the fourth day of high fever for Natalie, so I took her back down to convenient care where we had the sweetest, most friendly, provider (not sure if she was PA, MD, or NP) we've ever had there.  She was so great with Natalie and made her smile as she asked questions and was so understanding of my frustration with the "viral" diagnosis.  She tested her for strep, and it came back positive.  Thank goodness it's something we can treat and get rid of rather quickly!  
  • Today she's fever-free and feeling well enough to take the initiative to organize all of the clothes in her entire dresser even though she's having some not-so-pleasant side effects of her augmentin.
  • Nola and Nathan, on the other hand, seem to be a little worse again today.  Worse cough for Nathan and more fever for Nola.  I'm wondering if I should just stop the antibiotics they're on and wait a day or so to take them back for a strep test since it's so contagious that I'm pretty sure both of them have it.  
Ugh...I'm so tired.  Can't wait until everybody is feeling well again!!!!  I don't remember a time when sickness lasted this long with so many different symptoms and such crazy fevers.  And my poor Natalie...she's been so still and quiet for so many days, and that is TOTALLY unlike her.  Please pray for my little sickies, and pray for supernatural strength and endurance for me.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Emotional today

I have honestly felt on the verge of tears for the majority of today.  And I have no concrete reasons for this.  I started to think about possible reasons for this insanity as I was crying on Kevin's lap as he sweetly stroked my hair earlier, and the only conclusion I could come to was that I'm fatigued.  I'm waiting fatigued.  I know.  Not a real reason to cry, right?  I mean, people all over the world -- and I don't even have to go that far -- all over this county have harder things to deal with, and I'm fatigued due to waiting?  I don't actually know if it's that; that was just a guess. 

I know in writing this that I'm likely to come off as whiny and impatient and immature and misunderstood.  But excuse me for a minute while I use my blog to write about me.  The real me.  The one that few ever see because I'm so programmed for mercy and understanding and encouragement for others.

Believe me, I'm not trying to be a martyr here.  I'm really not.  I think that's some of the reason I'm so tired.  I'm tired because my intentions and desires are really as pure as they can be, and I use a lot of energy defending them to myself and to God and to others.

I don't want our new house because I want to be like somebody or because I'm jealous of anyone else.  I don't want it because it's beautiful or because it's in a nice neighborhood.  I don't want it because I want to get out of Rantoul.  I don't even want it because my kids will be likely to get into one of the better schools in Champaign by living there.

I want it because God my Father told me it's ours and because it's what our family genuinely needs.

I want it the way a barren woman wants a child.  The way an unemployed father wants to provide for his family.  I want it the way that Jesus wants each one of us for his very own.  I want it for the peace it would provide our family as we take it upon ourselves to provide safety and comfort for my brother-in-law.

I've seen plenty of other beautiful homes, and I can honestly say that God was right there with me telling me I was wasting my time.  See for me, looking at other houses was not about finding one that was bigger or better in any way.  I'll never find something that would fit our family's needs better than the one we're waiting on.  Looking around has been about finding something that would work so that the timing will be what I want it to be.  It's so that I can put my crazy mind to rest in knowing that Natalie is registered for school in Champaign, Nathan and Nola are transferred down to Champaign for Head Start, and there's an end in sight to paying so much for gas.

But those are not God's main goals.  I believe that God's main goal in all of this is to teach me to hear his voice, follow his leading, wait for his timing, and find joy in the waiting.  So far I've really struggled with those last two.  But I got a suggestion from a very wise woman at church today to just act as if I've already gotten the answer I'm waiting for from these people.  After all, I've already heard the answer from God, so why do I need to wait on somebody else to tell me the same thing?  Makes sense to me.  So this week I plan to joyfully wait for God's timing.  I will be using my spring break to do some spring/moving cleaning.  I'm going to get rid of everything I wouldn't want to pack up and move, and I'm going to love every minute of it.  I'm going to bless people with things that they need and I have but am not using.  I'm going to just get rid of everything that has been sitting in closets and on shelves since we moved into this house.  So be watching Facebook for pictures of stuff I'm getting rid of.  Heck, I may just hold a free garage sale and watch it all fly off my driveway.

God is moving.  This family of mine is moving.  I might as well get moving too.

Here it is...please be praying for us!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thank you, Jesus.

Matthew 6:31-33
"So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?'" (or my current worry, where will we move?) These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.


I never realized how much I hate waiting.  Restated:  I never realized how similar I am in this way to my 5-year-old.  I like feedback.  I like step-by-step progress reports.  I like met deadlines.  I thrive in schedules and plans.  Perhaps this is why God gave me Nola, and for that matter Kevin.  They are so not the same as me.  Maybe I'm supposed to learn to be more flexible.  I don't think God is asking me to totally change who I am, but I think He wants me to be less fixated on schedules and expectations.  

So while we're in this period of waiting for word that we did or didn't get a house that would meet all of our present and foreseeable needs, God wants me to relax.  To spend my time doing all the little things that will prepare me one way or another for moving to that house or another one. 

I've felt in my spirit ever since the first time that I saw a picture of the house that it was the one for us.  There was a little delay between that and actually making contact with anyone about it.  And once I drove by it and then eventually walked through it and realized that it was even better for us than I thought, I completely feel like it's ours.   Believe me when I say that I have more to go on than just feelings.  I have words and pictures and prayers from myself and other people guiding and confirming my thoughts.  I hear God speaking to me more at this time in my life than any other.  It's just the waiting that is driving me crazy.  It's crazy that I'm feeling God move in all sorts of ways, but here I am asking him to move faster?!  

But this scripture, as well as many others, has spoken to me.  So yes, I'll continue to wait.  What other choice do I have, right?  I can't promise that I'll always be patient and composed.  I definitely will lose it sometimes.  But I will learn through this that any schedule, expectation, or plan that I have cannot even begin to compare to any schedule, expectation or plan that God has for me and my family.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Gold dust

A couple Sundays ago at church, Kevin and I went down for prayer after the service.  We went for quite a variety of reasons, not the least of which was all the stress surrounding Kevin's brother Michael moving in with us. 

Tamara was name of the lady who prayed for us, and she prayed so beautifully and powerfully.  Kevin and I were both crying and laughing at the same time.  She told us that the word that kept popping up in her mind was "best," and since we had also asked for prayer for our small group I immediately thought that she was going to say that we didn't have to worry about being the best at anything.  But that was not what she (and God) had in mind at all.  She said, "I just feel like God is saying he has his absolute best for you."  In my head, "OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  Out of my mouth, "wow."  And then she said that she had a picture of us, and gold dust was falling on us. 

This had been the second time in just a week that I had heard gold dust mentioned in reference to something spiritual.  The previous weekend had been Holy Spirit night, and even though we weren't there I had seen on some facebook statuses that gold dust had fallen that night.  At that point I had become intrigued, so I went to google to find some more information about this.  And this is what I found..."The gold dust appearing helps remind us of the spiritual truth that God is majestic and rich in spiritual blessings."  (from The Rising Light website)

I really took to heart what she had said, and throughout the rest of the day I was certain that God is calling us to something amazing.  On Tuesday after that Sunday, I was at the bank cashing a check and when I got the cash back the teller said, "oh one of those has some glitter on it - it's special!"  I didn't really hear what she said at first, or maybe it just didn't register.  But as I pulled away from the window and went to set the money down I saw it.

Above my thumb near the 1 on the glitter.
I broke down in the parking lot and cried, thanking God for His faithfulness.  Sure, it's just glitter, not real gold dust.  But to me, it's more about the symbolism.  I love how God just speaks into my life in ways that I absolutely can't miss.

Our blessings are totally coming, and I'm all in as I enjoy the ride!

Nola is 1!

Can I just say that I have been in utter denial for about a month that Nola's birthday was coming up?  And since her birthday, I've been in denial that it even happened.  But now I'm starting to see the light.  With a year under her belt, Nola has begun to act a little different.  So much so, that I can say I'm starting to look forward to the day when I've got my boobs back to myself.  (sorry...tmi, maybe?)  Not much...a little.  Baby steps, here.  Baby steps.  I'm in that kind of strange stage where I'm pretty sure she'd be fine replacing most breastmilk calories with solid food calories, but I'm not totally ready to take the complete plunge.  And from what I can tell, neither is she.  Some days she wants to eat everything in sight every time she sees someone sit down to eat.  And other days, she's content to nurse with maybe only one meal or snack.  So, it's been kind of strange, but I'm sure it will even out here over the next several weeks.

And now for the update...

Eating:  Everything.  My girl loves to eat.  She gets really vocal and emphatic.  I have yet to find a food that she doesn't care for.  In fact, sometimes I wonder if she actually tastes anything she's eating since she just shovels it in most of the time.  And as mentioned, still nursing frequently.

Teeth:  Still at six and holding.  But with the way her sleep has been lately, I would not be at all surprised if there were a few more in the works.

New skills:  She's standing unassisted for several seconds in the middle of the floor as well as taking steps while holding only one of my fingers.  There are times where she'll be leaning up against the couch, and then all of a sudden she'll start to move away and look like she's going to take a step but then she goes right to her knees.  I'm really in no hurry for her to walk.  I'll be totally excited when she does, but I'm not ready to look at her as a toddler yet so she's free to stay my little baby as long as she wants to!  (and she knows this...we've had discussions.)

Loves:  Her daddy.  And Bubby and Sissy.  She's become a lot more attached to them with me being out of the house for three hours three days a week for school.  Kevin says she follows him all over the house and never lets him leave her sight while I'm gone.  And she loves following the older two back to their room to get in on the action.

She loves her books!


She's the cutest!

Noly-pop in the box!

Ta-da!  I'm one!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Natalie is 5!

Natalie is a big 5-year-old girl now!  For the last year or so, Natalie has been asking when she gets to go to kindergarten.  And every time she asks, we tell her she'll go when she was five.  So I woke up on her birthday wondering at what point she would ask me when she gets to go to kindergarten.  We didn't even make it to 10 o'clock. 

Excitement for kindergarten: established. 
Ability to wait: undecided.

I had a conference with her Head Start teachers this past week.  And as we would expect, she is exceeding all their expectations of her.  I went to her class on her birthday and brought some pictures of her as a baby and some playdoh and cookie cutters for each kid to take home.  (They don't let you bring any food products into the school, so I was forced to think out of the box.)  Everybody had a blast, and it was so fun to see how Natalie interacts with her friends at school.  The teachers commented to me that in all their years of teaching, Natalie was one of very few kids to have something planned for her birthday at school.  I love when I get the opportunity to make my kid feel special!  Literally every single kid wanted to sit next to her, and I know that was not only because it was her birthday.  Every time I drop her off, they all say, "Hi, Natalie!"  And she comes home every day with some sort of picture or trinket that one of her friends has given her.  I hope that is because she's being a good friend to everyone, and from what I saw on her birthday it is.  I'm so proud of my smart, loving, sociable little girl.

Nat's stats:
height and weight to be announced after her well-check (appointment date tbd as well...oops.)

her brother and sister
her teddy bear, Harvey
chicken nuggets
PBS kids shows
riding the bus
coloring (lately, on the walls...not so happy about that!)
writing her name, first AND last...thankyouverymuch
visiting her daddy-daddy's house
being the boss (especially of her brother)
ice skating and swizzling
planning future events
correcting her brother's pronunciation (the apple didn't fall too far from this tree)
picking out her outfits
playing house
"rice krispies with no milk but sugar"
beanie weanies
writing letters and sending them in the mail
getting postcards from Grandma
building castles with legos

Does not love:
most suppers
sleeping in
being told what to do (at home.  At school she does beautifully...guess I should be glad)
misplacing her stuff

She is such a beautiful little soul, and as much as she challenges us, we are so thankful for her.  She truly loves and cares for her siblings, and she always wants to help.  Can't wait to see what this year brings!
My beautiful girl...she's growing up so fast!

Trip to Chicago

For Natalie's birthday this year, I wanted to do something a little different.  I've been more focused on giving my kids experiences rather than stuff.  So in the spirit of having new experiences, we took a train to Chicago (at 6 am...yikes.) and spent the day at Shedd Aquarium.  Nola had given me an absolutely awful night (read: one hour of sleep) the night before, so I knew it would be an interesting day to say the least.

Looking out the window

Grandpa taking a nap

Grandma checking out the sights

The two happiest kids on the train...well three.  You can see the smile on Nola's cheek.
 The train ride went quite smoothly.  Thankfully, the attendant in our car was nice enough to let us take up a couple of the seats they had reserved for working out of so that we could all sit together.  I think Nathan slept a little, and Nola and I nodded in and out for much of the trip.  When we got to Union Station, the mad dash to street level began.  And Nathan wanted nothing to do with it.  At that point I was already re-thinking our decision to do this.  But Kevin was able to talk him into cooperating pretty quickly, and off we went.  We had to walk a few blocks to get to the bus that would take us to the Aquarium.  It was pretty brisk, but not nearly as bad as it could have been in early February.  Finally we made it to the bus, and the kids were thrilled at getting to ride a "city bus" as they call it. face.  Clearly I was already tired.

So we made it to the aquarium and put all of our stuff in the lockers and made our way up to see the all the fish.  Our tickets to the aquatic show were for like 10:20, so we didn't spend much time looking around before seeing the show.  This was definitely a highlight for everybody.

Taking a breather before heading down to the aquatic show

Checking out the belugas...somehow Natalie was terrified of the sea lion housed near the stairs.

Some shots of the aquatic show.  Please excuse the blurriness of these photos.  They allowed camera use as long as there was no flash, and unfortunately the low lighting made for less than perfect shots.

Belugas during the show

Belugas doing tricks for treats

More beluga shots

Sea lion portion of the show

The screen behind the tank was new since the last time I was there.  Very pretty!

A girl from the audience helping with the dolphin part of the show

Nathan and Grandma taking it all in
After the aquatic show, it was time for a 4D version of "Happy Feet."  Just to demonstrate how behind the times I am, I had no clue what 4D actually means.  Turns out it means 3D picture, vibrating seats, squirting water when characters sneeze, and other generally terrifying things to Miss Nola.  So we skipped out on that, but Kevin, my parents, and the kids stayed and thought it was awesome.

This is the unhappy/terrified look she had on her face the majority of the day.
Then we went downstairs where the kids got to touch some starfish and play with another exhibit that was a model of various anemones and stuff like that.  And then we took a peek at Nathan's only request of the day: penguins.  I don't have any idea what made him ask for penguins, but I was so happy to oblige his request.  He could have stayed there to look at them all day, I'm sure.

Up close to a starfish!

Walking through the starfish exhibit

Natalie took a peek too!

He was way more thrilled than he looks, I promise.


Swimming penguins!

This guy looked like he was running things.
 Then we saw my favorite little specimens of the day.  The JELLIES!!

The lighting in the tanks was just beautiful...

...all fanned out...

My dad said these were the kind of jellyfish in "Finding Nemo"...

...and he's the science teacher, so he would know!

How can anyone argue whether or not there's a God with such beauty like this?

Look closely and you'll see hundreds of baby jellies, all smaller than your pinky fingernail!

These little guys were a stage above the ones in the last picture.

And these were the full grown jellies of that species.

These guys moved around very quickly compared to the rest of the jellies we saw.

These were a gorgeous lavender color... beautiful!
Then we spent time going through the Wild Reef exhibit where there was a tide pool as well as a large room that was set up to look like the inside of a fishbowl.  We were able to see fish from all sides including over our heads!

Yes, this crab is really as big as he looks.  I had to look closely to see that it was alive!

The serene.

Stingray tank!

 The kids had been looking for Nemo ALLLL day.  My mom finally pointed him out (the picture above), and Nathan said, "No, that's his dad!"  Then the kids decided that he was, in fact, Nemo.  Phew.

Love the color of these little guys!
After that, we wrapped up our trip by waiting for a feeding in the main tank as you first walk into the aquarium.  The kids munched on popcorn and explored each of the rooms dedicated to different regions of the world while Nola and I took a much-needed break on the benches by the big tank.

Nola and I sat and watched the fish (and Nathan) go by

Then they went off somewhere and found a boat.

Row, row, row your boat...

Something creepy...wasn't there for that explanation.
Turtle who was hurt by a propeller and has a floating behind as a result.  So funny to see her swim around like that!
This creepy looking eel has cataracts as my dad found out...

...he was one of Nathan's favorites.
The diver who did the feeding came down to feed this eel first, and it didn't go well.  He wouldn't even swallow the fish when it was put in his mouth, and the diver looked pretty concerned about him.  Hope he makes it to fishy heaven!

After we were all thoroughly exhausted, we gathered our stuff and bid the aquarium good-bye.  As we walked outside to the bus stop, we realized that we had just missed a bus.  So Kevin had the brilliant idea of checking out the cost of one of the cabs sitting in front of the aquarium, and surprisingly it was only $2 more than our bus fare.  So we all piled into the cab for another memorable experience.  The kids are still talking about how they took "a train, a city bus, AND a TAXI!"  So I guess they loved it.

We experienced about a 45-minute delay for the train back to Champaign.  And despite some pompous and grouchy station workers and TSA officials, we made it onto the train in one piece and with few meltdowns.  Some nice napping took place here and there on the way home, and the kids were still wiped out when we finally got home.  All in all, a wonderful experience.  I'm so glad that my kids had such an amazing time, and I hope they remember this for a very long time!

And ever since Natalie got to have a train ride for her birthday, Nathan has requested a rocketship ride for his.

I'll have to get back to you on that one, buddy.