October 06, 2014

My secret hobby

So, I think I've mentioned this before, but in my 7 years of marriage I've lived in 7 different places. Pretty crazy, right? And for the most part that has not always been the coolest. BUT there is one thing that I do  enjoy about moving and that is the decorating and the organizing! We have now lived in our current house for over a year and a half and I was starting to get antsy. Which is probably why I went through a weird furniture painting phase a month or so ago...

That said, this last weekend afforded me a little house-decor challenge when I inherited not one but two new pieces of furniture. Now, its not like our house is huge and just FULL of empty spaces waiting to be filled. In fact, quite the opposite. But, when the time came to take Brett's Grandmother's piano so that it could stay in the family and I could happily tell me children about the hundreds of sweet hours their Great-grandmother had spent at this very piano-teaching lessons and composing music and playing and singing hymns...well, there was clearly NO CHOICE but to take it.
And then when I was faced with either taking my Great-GREAT Grandmother's china cabinet or "I'm just going to take it to the dump right now",  Brett and I rented a Uhaul and on our last trip to visit family, came come with some "home decor puzzles".

And I won't lie. I absolutely DELIGHTED in my little furniture problem. Where could I put it all? What would I need to re-arrange?! How could I keep the house from looking stuffed with furniture?
Oh, it was all too much fun for me to handle!

In the end, my bookcase in the dining room, moved to the living room and became a part of the "play area". In fact, bonus points, when you re-arrange toys locations in your house, your children will magically think they have new toys and play happily for a solid hour and a half. BOOM!

The piano then took the bookcases spot in the dining room, and other than the fact that Ransom wants to play the piano before and after every. single. meal. I absolutely love having it in the dining room, especially a part of my family photo wall. Treasures should be with other treasures.

And the china cabinet? Well, it actually was quite helpful! I was able to put it into a corner of our bedroom and move all the books from the bookshelf in the dining room into the china cabinet/bookshelves! I ended up "gift wrapping" the doors because one side was missing its glass ( and since my bank account just took a hit, I'm not in the glass buying mood) and I actually kinda love how it turned out.

I may, at some point get some fabric because I feel like the paper probably won't stand up well with my little rascals running around, but for now this looks pretty cute! 

( wrapping paper is from Ikea many many moons ago)

And so, after this day of moving and organizing and running around after my children all in the midst of it, I'd go ahead and say that I'm happy NOT moving for another year and a half ;-) I've had my little decorating fix.

October 03, 2014

How I "lost" my phone and what I gained

So, last Saturday my phone was tragically and unfairly stolen at the library. I say tragically, because if you've ever purchased a phone "out right" without any kind of phone contract to buffer the costs then let's just say, that's a tragedy to ANY bank account.

And I say unfairly because I think all stealing is just so UNfair! I think once the feelings of optimism that maaaaaybe the person would decide to turn from their evil ways and return my phone to me ( it had already been wiped by the time I tried to access it on my find my phone app), had passed the major feeling I had was just the desire for JUSTICE! I just hated the idea that someone could be so jerky as to take advantage of a bedraggled Mom with her two little kids and then GET AWAY WITH IT. UGG!!!

Anyway, the tragic/unfair event happened right on the eve of us heading out of town to visit family and Brett was still in the midst of working very long long shifts at work. I had a ton to do before we left town and so, in the end, we headed off to visit family without dealing with the phone situation. It was going to work well because I'd be with Brett and people could reach me via his phone, or send me messages the "old fashioned way" using Facebook or email ( haha!) when I checked it once or twice a day.

And so almost immediately on our drive I realized that: when we drive somewhere and I'm NOT driving I check instagram continually. I also listen to Pandora and I also check my emails and I text my friends a lot. I also realized that my children do a million cute and documentable things in a given 10 minute span and without a phone to document those moment I have to just soak it in. No pictures for later instagram posting! Just plan old-fashion memory.

When we arrived at Brett's mom's house we were greeted by a glorious host of family and for the next two days my kids ran absolutely wild with about 8 or so cousins. Mud pies, hammocks, bicycles, cupcakes, s'mores and a very necessary bath at the end of each day. At the same time, I got to chill and chat with the adults and watch the glorious scene of cousins unfold....without taking a single picture. And without checking instagram to see what comparable fun other people were up to. I also didn't share the glorious fun we were having with anyone that wasn't siting next to me on the couch and it was STILL FUN! I got pretty much zero likes. And no comments. But it was still very much a glorious two days.

I then headed to my parents house for another day and  half where I hung out with my sister, commiserated on how 4 year-olds truly affect ones mental status, and discussed important things like  the unmentionable Kimye wedding episode ( if you don't know what this is, please don't ask...clearly you're already a better person than me and we should just keep it that way) and watched our children run around us screaming. Once again I did not share what I was doing with any one! In fact, I was now 4 days into not having a phone and I wondered if anyone wondered where I was. And if they did, was that really that important?

We finally headed back home yesterday, and because Brett was driving a big Uhaul back ( post about this coming soon!) I drove myself and the kids 5 hours home WITHOUT A PHONE. That's right. No GPS. No phone in case I got a flat tire ( though, granted Brett was about 30 minutes behind me on the road), no apps to tell me where the nearest Starbucks was, no pandora to listen to music, nothing. And somehow, we made it home Instead of a phone to keep me company, I just thought lots and lots of thoughts on those highways headed home and I've decided that my addiction to my smartphone really was at an all time high. I am hoping that now that I will once again have a phone ( tomorrow I'm headed to the Verizon store), that I will not return to the intense connectedness that was filling my days. I say this here because I know it will be easy to return. That the addiction sneaks in all sneaky-sneaky like and before you know it you're checking your Facebook feeds in the bathroom. ( ew!)
However, if you check your phone when you're sitting at a red-light in your car. Then, you my friend, might need to have your phone stolen at the library because wake-up-calls can be greatly refreshing.
( Though, I'm sorry, I still feel sad that I have no pictures from all those awesome cousin-fun-times.) iPhones are good for some things.

September 10, 2014

To be totally frank(incense) with you....

In the past two weeks we've had a visitor for a week, Ransom started school and Tabitha has been teething some major canine teeth action.

And we've been perfectly healthy. Not only that but I've actually started running again! At the end of August I was barely able to get out of bed and I was basically catching every cold known to man...and now.. Running.

SO. What happened?

Maybe it's a coincidence that even though we've brought in the germs of an entire school and even though I was still struggling after my tonsillectomy, we've been healthy?

OooOOOooor maybe its because I decided to take the major plunge and start using essential oils? Who's to say, really? And while I'm not totally convinced that it was all the oils, I'm convinced enough to give it a serious shot for the extended future!

One step at a time I'm becoming super crunchy and granola. But, seriously, I was at the end of my rope! And I guess that's a good place to be when you decide to start experimenting!

So, I talked to a friend of a friend who's an expert on essential oils and after hearing my laundry list of ailments she suggested I go all in and purchase the "Family Physicians pack" from DoTerra Oils.  After doing a bit of my own research and learning that Doterra is one of the very few companies that you can TRUST with the quality of the oils ( sadly no cheap oils from central market for me!), I went for it. And here is what I've done and learned in the last few weeks!
I store my little oil bottles here, with my prettiest dishes...aren't they cute? ( the dishes and the little bottles)

The kit comes with these oils:

Lavender: I've been mostly using as a "calming" agent in my diffuser mixed with Oregano ( more on that later), I've also put a little on Ransom's pillow a few nights when he's woken up with bad dreams.   Every time he's immediately gone back to sleep and then  SLEPT IN ( those of you with crack-of-dawn babies know what a miracle that is!)

Lemon: I've used this in my diffuser as well because it also has airborne disinfectant abilities, but I've also used it in a spoon full of honey when one morning I woke up with a sore throat. ( Sore throat gone right away) *Important note: a teeny tiny drop of these essential oils goes a REALLY long way! My awesome consultant gave me several great guides on just how LITTLE I have to use!

Peppermint: One of my laundry list ailments was thrush in my mouth from all the antibiotics I've taken over the last few months. After 5 days of a little peppermint ( it has natural anti fungal abilities) in coconut oil swished around in my mouth and spit out- I was totally better! And this was after trying anti fungal meds to no avail!

Melaleuca: For another of my list of ailments: the guttate psoriasis that I developed from my ongoing strep throat ( seriously? I have no luck.) I've been putting a mixture of Jojoba oil ( just a carrier oil really, but I love it for not leaving grease stains!) Melaleuca and Frankincense on my arms and legs after I shower every day! The change has been amazing! I asked my doctor about it when I visited today and he couldn't deny that it was getting better.  I'm also going to try the Melaleuca on Tabitha and Ransom's eczema, though we've been enjoying a little moment of "clear skin" at the moment...maybe due to: using a combination of Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint rolled on the skin you can combat  allergies! WHAAAA?!? )

Oregano: I've used oregano diluted with oil on my own skin to help my immunity, but oregano can be kind of potent on sensitive skin so I've been using it in my diffuser with other oils ( usually lavender, because who doesn't like a calm kid?) for the kiddos ( and their sensitive skin)
I bought this little diffuser on Amazon and I love it! It was FAR cheaper than any other diffuser I've seen, and it works great!
( It should be noted that this extreme closeness to the diffuser is not necessary or recommended, Ransom just REALLY wanted to be in the shot ;-) !) 

Frankincense: This stuff is the best! I basically want to mix it with all my other oils because it seems to do EVERYTHING ( but its also the most expensive ( and one of the reasons its such a great deal in the physicians kit) and now I'm understanding why Jesus got it as a birthday gift. ;-)

Deep Blue®: I mentioned earlier that I've been feeling so much more energetic and so I've started running again! However, I still have some foot issues to contend with ( Plantar's Facisitis) and I've been using a little Deep blue mixed with oil to rub into my sore muscles. So far my foot hasn't been causing me much trouble at all! Brett also had some shoulder problems that after a deep tissue massage with Deep Blue he felt way better!

Breathe: I haven't had to use this one yet!  But since I hear a serious respiratory virus is making its rounds this year I'm glad I have it handy for my defuser and for little stuffed up chests in the future!

DigestZen: Brett is constantly having tummy troubles ( oops. Sorry for sharing husband) and so I've rubbed one or two drops on his stomach the last few weeks, he says he can't say "for sure" if its helped or not, but I've used it when I ate my sandwich too fast and had a tummy ache yesterday and I liked the smell at least ;-)

On Guard: My faaaaaavorite and the oil I've used the most obsessively ( for obvious reasons) its the immunity cocktail and I've been putting it in a carrier oil in a little roller bottle and rolling a little on the bottom of my kids feet in the morning and at night ( they both love it!)

So there you go! I'm super excited about this development in our family health, I am sure I will continue to dole out Ibprofene for teething and use our tried and true eczema prescription oil and any other medicines that we deep necessary, but I REALLY enjoy having these oils around as a preventive measure and as an added boosts to our medicine cabinet. And now what about you? Are you a fan of oils? Any amazing "recipes" I should start using? Also, are you an oil "hater"? I'd love those inputs as well! Seriously, as you can tell I'm still at the very beginning phases of learning here and would love all thoughts I can get!

*Other note: Because I bought the "kit" I'm now automatically a Doterra partner or something. I know very little about this, except that I'm sure if you used my site ( linked above as well) than I'd get some sort of good deals ....but honestly, I'm just happy that as a partner I get major discounts on future purchases and it doesn't cost me a thing! Score!

September 05, 2014

We did it.

This post is brought you by my parents who sent a package that included the movie "Planes" for Ransom. My mom apologized that there really wasn't anything in the package for me, but I beg to differ. We're watching a movie at 3:30 in the afternoon on a Friday and I call that a Mommy Present. 

So, Brett has been working nights for the past 4 weeks. I'm not complaining about this. I did my complaining last night on my ongoing chat conversation with two of my Mommy Besties. I have to delete our conversations every few months-not because of all the incriminating pictures of our kids doing dangerous/hilarious things like standing up in the bathtub-but because we often text SO much that it actually takes up my precious iPhone space. If you don't have a "safe" place to vent your parenting emotions at 4:56pm when dinner is only half done and there is a 20 month old attached to your leg and a four year old lecturing you on car types relentlessly-than shoot me a message and I'll send you my number. Every mom deserves this important lifeline. P.S. We use a lot of emojis. Particularly the "little wine glass" and the "hands in the air" girl.

Anyway, yesterday we were in the midst of Daddy Working Nights, and Mommy had only had 45 minutes of alone time in...two days....because someone is cutting 4 teeth and decided that sleeping was for the weak. And It turns out I don't do well with only 45 minutes of alone time. And we had just gone to the grocery store at a quarter to 5 because I was missing a key, important ingredient to dinner ( fine, it was ALL of dinner, ok! Geez.) and somehow we got out of there in one piece even though I'd forgotten a certain someone's pacifier ( which she usually only gets at bedtime but...four teeth.) And we'd had to sing Wheels on the Bus nonstop the whole way to the grocery store....And so in a moment of joy and triumph having left the store alive and semi-sane I let out a big "We did it! We did it! We did it!" And a few fist pumps from the drivers seat and then my four year old mustered what I'm sure was meant as a legit compliment: "You're just like Dora, Mom!"

And as much as I hate to admit it, I really AM like Dora! I totally navigated through this week as "easily" as if I had a map in my backpack and BOOM! FOUND THE TREASURE on Pirate Island!  We made it through this week! Here's  a "little glass of wine" emoji for us all...

August 16, 2014

One of my favorite things: Mrs. Meyers.

When I was in the seventh grade one of my teachers gave me a little tea candle. I'd never had a candle of my own before so I was pretty excited to burn it in my room and feel super grown up. The smell was divine. But soon the little tea candle was gone and so was the smell, and since it was an unlabeled little tea candle I had NO IDEA what the smell was....But I spent the next 17 years hunting for it. Sometimes I would find something that was similar but nothing exactly until one day I happened upon Mrs. Meyers cleaning products and they were having a sale on candles. As soon as the geranium scent hit my nose I was transported back to my seventh grade bedroom...now, thats not necessarily a place I want to be, however the smell was still fresh and clean and not over powering. I bought three and headed home a happy camper.

And so my love for Mrs. Meyer's products began. It started with candles but it quickly spread to their counter cleaner. Also an amazing scent but no artificial ingredients that could harm my kids and an ability to make even the crustiest crustys come off of my counters and I had bought into the hype. During the holiday season they had this cranberry scent that I loooooved and I actually bought a bottle EVERY TIME I went to Target that holiday season ( apparently I went to Target a LOT because I'm only now on my last bottle and it's AUGUST). I'm hoping they'll bring the scent back next year ( fingers crossed) but even if they don't I'm in love with plenty of their other scents and products that I probably won't mind too much.
Ew, don't look at my nasty nail polish, but LOOK AT MY GORGEOUS STOVE TOP!

With a husband and two kids with incredibly sensitive skin the type of hand soap I use is very important. And let's be honest, I'm not the ONLY ONE who does dishes so my dish soap also needs to be gentle and all natural. Mrs. Meyers again, done and done.

Right now I've got the Lemon Verbena candle burning in my kitchen ( because friends, cauliflower may be good for you, but its NASTY smelling!) and I just finished up cleaning some pots and pans in a flash with the geranium  dish soap.  Basically in the half hour that it took me to complete my after dinner ritual I had used 4 Mrs. Meyers products. SO if you're already a fan of Mrs. Meyers tell me what your favorite scents are! I have basically stuck with the Honeysuckle, Geranium and Lemon Verbena but I'm curious if anyone loves the Basil and Radish scents, I've been tempted but they seem earthier than maybe I am? Has anyone tried their all purpose cleaners or toilet cleaners?
Also, if you HAVEN'T jumped on the Mrs. Meyers train you totally need to! The products are natural, good for the environment and the humans that live in said environment, and when it comes to "natural products" they are very reasonably priced! You can pick up most of these products at Target, HEB, Whole Foods, World Market and tons of other locations! And if you live in a small town without many options you can always hit up the Mrs. Meyers website to order ( sometimes they have no shipping fee days which is awesome!) and also to find out where products are sold near you!

As always, I'm a terrible "blogger" and therefore I am absolutely NOT getting anything from the Mrs. Meyers  company for writing this review! In fact, I have no idea how people go about getting those kinda freebies-but to be honest, this way you, my dear readers can always count on me to tell you the absolute true "Abigail Opinion" without any agenda or outside guidance, so win...I guess. haha!

August 06, 2014

What I know now- Two years ago this month

Can it really have been that long ago? It's so strange that we have put so many days between us and that day because I remember it so very well. It was 2 years ago this month that we said goodbye to our little girl, Priscilla, who at only 20 weeks gestation had already claimed my heart and my hopes. I think this time last year I was still incredibly raw and sad. Watching as my other daughter Tabitha grew and developed  as a little baby, it made me think of her identical sister a lot. I would wonder about their personalities and how they might have differed. All the what ifs- those where the things that got me that first year. Not the what ifs of her passing or our situation with twin to twin transfusion, but the what ifs of what her life would have been like if we'd gotten to keep her. 

This year has been different. Time has helped. Life has helped. And above all I know the Lord has helped me continue to heal. However there is one thing that remains with me as strong as it was 2 years ago, something I don't think will ever change or fade even the slightest. On that day in August I  learned about the frailty of this thing called having children. Right there in that hospital room with the ultra-sound machine beside my bed, I learned about the true nature of having babies. 
I know I am not alone here, those of you reading this who've lost babies before you even knew if they were a boy or a girl, or those who've lost them at birth or many years later, you know the reality too. You know the painful truth about the frailty of Life, the threadlike balance of being a parent. Honestly those of you who've looked at stick after pregnancy stick without seeing two lines, in a lot of ways you too understand this truth too. And wow, is it a doozy! Having children, having healthy children, boy is it a mysterious gift! 

I think I've done everything my little type A brain can think of, in fact, in the last few months I've put of the whole "lets put away the birth control and see what happens" off even more so with excuses about my health. How could I possibly get pregnant when I'm still overweight and sickly?!?  Let's be honest, as I type this I still can't eat solid foods after my awesome bout with throat problems this summer that delightfully ended with a tonsillectomy which still has me laid up! BUT you know what? Even if I was the very picture of health I'd find some other excuse to put off making our family bigger.  Because I now know, more than ever that you can do everything right and it can still end in heartbreak. And since there is no way of me to know for sure whether all will turn out perfectly, maybe I should just spar myself and just not have anymore children. Because, gosh darn it, now that I know this awful truth about how Life is so fragile, how could I possibly put myself out there again?!?! 

Now, don't stop reading yet! Because so far I've been very dire and not very helpful. But, something has become strikingly clear to me lately and that is something about God's character. Is there anything in the Bible that talks about maybe you should not have dreams because if they don't come true God will be less awesome and wonderful? Is there ANYTHING in the Bible that says that? 
Also, just because I now know just how much heartbreak hurts, doesn't mean that I can now avoid heartbreak forever and ever and that be ok. Because, I know now that to avoid heartbreak is also to avoid Life, oh and P.S. It's also avoiding God. 

I do not know when there will ( of if there ever will) be more pregnancy news on this blog, but what I do know is that if there ever is, I will most definitely be scared. I will most definitely have uncontrollable fears about it turning out like "the last time" and I will probably hold my breath for every ultrasound and heart beat. I will never be fully recovered from loosing my daughter because she was a Hope and Dream that will always be lost to me. But an even greater tragedy would be if I let fear of more heartbreak keep me from the rest of Life- That the fear of difficulty and loss would keep me from knowing more of what God can do. 

This post does not just pertain to babies, no it reaches much further, to the foundation of who I am. How much am I willing to trust the Lord? Am I willing to go ahead and dream big? Am I willing to tell the Lord my hearts desire and let Him hold on to that for me and see where that journey will take us? Am I willing to let Jesus be the Lord not just the Savior of my life?  Because knowing what I know now, that will be the most painful, heartbreaking, beautiful, wonderful, miraculous journey ever. 
And I'd do it again in a heartbeat. A tiny baby heartbeat. 

July 02, 2014

Great Big Answers

Friends, for the sake of this post being as cool as I'd like it to be, I'd like you to do a little back reading....or at least remembering. Bear with me, it'll be worth it!

If you recall, back in January I told you about my "prayersolutions" which was my version of new years resolutions: The things that I was going to pray for in the coming year written on a little blue and brown card. My card is pretty well covered with names and situations and while it covers a pretty vast pool of Life, my card's subjects have one thing in common-all of them were BIG prayers. You know, the kind that cannot be fixed with a little elbow-grease and chocolate chip cookies....They are all much bigger than that.

And a few days later I shared with you one of the prayer requests on my card: A Friend For Ransom. 

Well, in the last month or so, God has really answered that prayer with a little boy named Jacob who moved here with his parents from Fort Bliss and who got connected to us through mutual friends. And, PS, I'm not even kidding when I say, I had FORGOTTEN that I had blogged about Ransom wanting someone to play baseball with, until we were literally sitting at a baseball game with Ransom's new little friend this past Saturday.

So, yeah, we've got a God of details answering our prayer, people!! 

Ok, so I tell you that to say, the other day I was praying over my prayer card and I was thanking God for answering that specific prayer when I felt the Lord telling me that He was going to answer MORE of my prayers! "Whoa, I thought, that's pretty huge!" basically the Ransom getting a friend was one of the "smaller" prayer requests on my card! haha! 

But, sure enough on Wednesday of last week, God rocked my socks off and answered yet another long standing prayer of my heart that I did not see coming! You see, right underneath where I had written, " a friend for Ransom" I had written " Get to Baptize Someone"  ( it was circled in an artsy cloud for emphasis) -this prayer came specifically from reading the Great Commission that the Lord gave to ALL His people before He left Earth the first time:

 "Go, make disciples of all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them all that I have commanded you and behold, I am with you always even to the end of the age. " 

So, I figured, even though I doubt Jesus would hold it against me if I didn't baptize someone, I felt like it was something worth praying for! However, in my mind it was very churchy in nature: I'd meet some young girl, and share the gospel with her, she'd start meeting with me regularly and would start following Jesus and then when she decided to get baptized after a few months I would get to do it....yup. That's my embarrassing little story of what I thought would happen! 

Instead, I got sick. So sick that every time I had an opportunity to go and be a part of the little Bible group that we had started with some ladies nearby, I seemed to never be able to go ( you can read the details here.) In fact, I only got to go once. And then the second time I got to go ( I was thankfully on antibiotics again) we were scheduled to talk about God's command to get baptized! BUT before we even got started the older lady we were meeting with said, "So, I have a question: I was raised Catholic, so I was baptized as a baby, but I read in the Bible that Jesus was an adult and he was also dunked when he was baptized. Why can't I be dunked?! I want to be baptized like Jesus!" 

We were dumbfounded! And we laughed! And we told her that we just so happened  to  have planned to talk about Baptism that night! And so, by the end of the evening Debbie had decided she wanted to be "Dunked" and she wanted me to do it! 
After having met me twice. 

And we were going to do it in three days. Boom. 

I went home on cloud nine, and as Brett and I talked about it, it just became even cooler.  Because, you know that story that I had invented in my head about how God would answer my "baptize someone" prayer? Well, that story had a lot to do with me. I didn't see it at the time, but at the end of the day I could have given myself a serious pat on the back. "Go me! I totally changed someone's life and now they are getting baptized!" But instead, it wasn't that way at all! There was no way that I could take credit for the Holy Spirit's moving! In fact, we didn't even get to take credit for doing an awesome job of sharing a bible study about baptism! Because the Holy Spirit had already put it on Debbie's heart before we even got there! 

In fact, the only thing that I had even the slightest regret regarding how God had so miraculously answered my prayer was that, my mentor and friend Deb actually had the same prayer request on her prayer card ( actually, I'm not sure if it was on her prayer card, but I do know we'd talked about how much she'd like to get to baptize someone!) and on the night that Debbie ( I know, two Deb-names, keep up!) had asked me to baptize her, my friend Deb was at my house taking care of my children. I felt guilty. I felt like I had somehow cheated, but little did I know, but God had THAT worked out too! 

On the day of the baptism, it ended up that Brett was also going to be baptizing his long time friend Ash, who also had never been baptized and who, on Thursday, mentioned to Brett that he felt like it was something he needed to do. Of course, this time we weren't even surprised! Of course, the timing was perfect! And so we all met with friends at a neighbor's pool and waited for a last few people to arrive.  And then I found out that another couple had asked to be baptized as well! And sure enough, when they arrived, the wife asked for my friend Deb to baptize her! 

And so, I shouldn't have worried, God once again took care of every detail. In fact, from the Holy Spirit moving Debbie to say that she wanted "to be dunked" on Wednesday night, we had four people get baptized on Sunday. The Lord continues to remind me that He is truly a Big God who can do Mighty and Great things. 

And so as we all take a look at our prayer cards ( even if yours is figurative) I hope that this story encourages you to pray for Great Things. We have a very great God! 

Now, I'm super excited to see what other cool things get answered from my prayer card soon! ;-) 

June 22, 2014

For my friend.

Hey! so, I bet you're wondering what's going on with my Tabitha/Priscilla Story? Well, truth be told it's slowed to a snail's pace; and in thinking about it, I think one of the major factors is I'm getting to a part of our story that includes some characters that I feel like my writing skills have trouble describing. I just do NOT think I can do them justice!

However, this month marks the birthday of my friend KJ.  This is kind of a special birthday for KJ; for one, he's going to be a teenager and two, it's his first birthday in heaven. I really want to do something special to celebrate such a big birthday event, and I want you all to join me, so I put aside my inability to express myself fully to tell you this:

I met KJ a few days after I went to live in the Ronald McDonald House in Houston, TX. My husband Brett and I had both been praying that my time at the House would be well spent and that I would be able to make some friends while I was there (I was pregnant with twin girls-one who’d already gone on to be with Jesus and the other who was still fighting for Life), and KJ and his mom Jane quickly became part of the answer to that prayer. It's strange to meet a person when they're in the middle of something as life-altering as cancer treatment. I realized quickly as I met people and started to live life with the other families at the RM house that we were all living in a very strange little bubble. A bubble of diagnosis, prognosis, treatments, pain, sickness, good news/bad news, choices and decisions and all that was messily piled on top of the day to day realities of being parents and kids. I could say much about the effects that bubble had on us all but I mention it here only because KJ was unique. Unlike many of the rest of us, the bubble did not seem to affect or define KJ. 
An 11 year old little boy from rural Kentucky, and yet he was really so much more. When I met KJ, he had experienced more difficulty in treatment and prognosis than many of the others at the house at the time. He wore the battle scars of brain cancer and he could have had every reason and excuse to live those scars out. But he didn't. He was so incredibly patient. Cancer treatment is unique in that it has the rare ability to be almost equally as ravaging and brutal to the body as the disease it is made to fight.  I would have dinner with KJ and Jane almost every day, and there were days when his treatment left him exhausted and in even more pain but I never ONCE saw him complain. Not once. He would take phone calls from family members and talk to adults that volunteered at the RM house with a maturity and consideration beyond his years. He made people feel special. He was able to see past his own suffering-and that was a gift.

KJ also had an awesome sense of humor. His wit was quick, so quick that you almost knew that his mind was always looking for ways to make light of situations, he did not let the difficulties of his current state bog him down, and it was almost like he was working hard to make sure it didn't bog down the people around him either.

KJ also had a Hope about him that was Other Worldly. I cannot imagine going through the things he was having to go through with the dogged faith that he did, but I can only say that it HAD to be the supernatural. That kid had such a calm peace about him! In fact, I can honestly say that he was the calmest, most at peace person in that place, and he'd be the first to say it was because of Jesus. He and his mom were continually sharing that they fully believed that Jesus could do All Things and KJ lived that faith out. It is True that Jesus can do All Things, because I saw Him do it in KJ.  

When I met him,  KJ was 11. I say that because he was so very much an 11 year old little boy. You know, the type of 11 year old boy who was super excited about the news that they were going to make more Star Wars movies and who liked to go to Comic book stores to buy just a few more Storm Troopers for his collection. He was an 11 year old boy who would tell me how he'd get up and try to get to the TV rooms before anyone else on Saturday mornings so he could watch the cartoons he wanted to see. He was still the 11 year old boy who loved Olive Garden, especially their pasta and bread sticks. Sickness had not touched these things about him, and it made me love him all the more! 

KJ and Jane and I were buddies, getting through our days in the “Bubble" for a little over 2 months. I was so grateful for Jane's friendship during that time and those 2 months together often feel much longer to me, especially the impact that KJ had on my own life as a mom and just as a person. I was in the very throws of mourning the loss of our yet-to-be-born daughter Priscilla, and watching KJ and Jane’s daily walk through life was balm to my sensitive heart. It was yet another reminder of the fragility of life. The remarkable Gift we are all given each day when we wake up. We all have a choice of how we live that oh-so-special day, and I wanted very much to live it a little bit more like KJ. 

After our daughter Tabitha was born ( healthy as can be, I might add!) I was excited to get back to the Ronald McDonald House for a day or two because I knew KJ was itching to meet her. He'd been eagerly waiting for her birth for days (as we all had!) and having him hold her and tell his mom, later, that maybe one day he'd like to be a Dad was maybe one of the greatest privileges of my life and( to me) made it totally worth it to be away from my own son and hubby for so long. As I headed back to my "regular life”, I'd get phone calls from KJ (he'd gotten his very own cell phone!) and we'd chat about the goings on at the Ronald McDonald House and he'd ask how Baby Tabitha was doing. 

A few months later when KJ had some major setbacks in his sickness and our conversations stopped,  my prayers for him didn't. I would often look at my healthy little baby girl and marvel and then I fall to my knees pleading for a miracle for my friend. And when KJ passed away in  September 2013, I was heartbroken. The letter I wrote for our daughter Priscilla (which you can read here) carried many of the same sentiments I felt about KJ, the loss of someone that I knew the world would miss! I knew that an awesome son and friend and future dad were lost to us all and it hurt.  And my hurt for his parents who lost their only son- was an indescribable ache. What to do with such hurt and pain?  
And after much prayer and asking of the Lord,  I've decided the only way to deal with them is to try and acknowledge them-not to push them away-understanding and experiencing the Pain of life is to hopefully point us to Heaven. They point us to Christ. He is the only One able to Hold our suffering when we can't. I also want to use that pain to motivate me to make this life, this world, a little bit more liveable because honestly, KJ taught me that life is a beautiful and a delicate gift and that gift is meant to be share with others. He taught me that while he was alive, and I hope that I can carry that with me and honor him in my actions now that he can't do it himself. 

As I celebrate his birthday on the 24th of June, I’d like to honor his life with a little "acts of kindness" movement.  Big or small, I hope that you will join me in honoring my dear friend's life by showing love to those that cross your path on his birthday. I also hope that we can use his birthday to remind his wonderful parents what a fantastic son they raised.  Remind them that his impact lives on and his many fantastic qualities were passed on and shared. If you decide to join me in doing an act of kindness for KJ, will you document it on your social media of choice? I know we usually try to stay anonymous when it comes to doing nice things, but this time its not for us, its for KJ and his parents. His parents have Facebook and I will do my best to transfer any instagram and twitter submissions to Facebook so they can see them. But, wherever you choose to share your act, would you mind using the hashtag:  #kindnessesforKJ  

(If you aren't familiar with hashtags all you have to do is type it out JUST LIKE THAT -no spaces please- on your Facebook status or on your tweet or instagram comment and it will automatically be "categorized" so that when you click on it, it will take us to ALL the acts of kindness that have been done. )

And feel free to use the picture above if you'd like, if you want to share this story on your own blog or social media! Thanks dear friends! xoxox

June 21, 2014

Heart in my throat

So, things have been a bit tenuous lately. And after the most recent developments I'm going to share about it here. Mostly because I'm selfish and I covet some extra prayers. And I definitely say selfishly because I know there are much greater needs to be prayed for-because the bottom-line I know that we are covered by a lot of Grace around here and that He will not desert us.

Ok, so now to my crazy tale:

At the end of May I developed a case of Strep throat. It was uncomfortable to say the least but I was able carry on daily activities of caring for kids and going to a play dates at Chick-fil-A and having house guests etc. However, very suddenly, I couldn't do any of these things any more. Within an hour ( as in in the middle of our oven blowing up-quite literally- and dinner needing to be on the table I told my poor husband-bless him.... I had to go to bed). While I lay there in bed wondering why I couldn't even swallow without excruciating pain, I got a text from a friend in our ministry here saying "Great news! We met a few ladies while out giving out cookies and praying for people, who REALLY want to learn about Jesus, can you come with me tomorrow night to share some Stories of Hope!?!" -
I was so bummed, this was a long long long awaited answer to prayer, but by the next day I found myself at the ER. Where I was diagnosed with a Peritonsillar Abscess. In a way I felt justified for feeling so bad and a little mad that the ER had so clearly laughed at me and left me without even a triage for over 4 hours. But I was given a steroid shot, some much needed pain relief, and some strong antibiotics to hopefully get rid of the Abscess. I felt better within 12 hours. But I'd missed my chance to go share with those ladies, something I'd been praying I'd get to do for....well...basically a year.

But there'd be another chase the next week! The ladies were hungry for Truth and I was excited about their next meeting. It turned out they meet again within the next two weeks. The day we were planning to meet, I had finished my round of antibiotics and my throat returned to fire. The abscess was back. I was back on antibiotics and I was once again missing a chance to meet with the ladies.

However the doctors were positive. They figured it would just take a "bit longer" for the antibiotics to work on the abscess. So I took the medicine, felt better pretty quickly and didn't think much more about it. I was even able to finally  meet with the ladies! It was great!  I even packed up those antibiotics and headed off on a lovely vacation with my parents and sister's family. And finished up all my meds a few days before heading home. And then....

The night I returned I got a sore throat. I knew it was coming back. It was a classic repeat of the time before, and the time before that! But this time I figured I had one difference!! I wasn't schedule to meet with the ladies again for 3 days! I had time to get this taken care of!! I headed to the ER* again the next morning. It was 7am, the ER was empty. I was in and out again in an hour. With nothing. I was told it was "probably a virus" and that I just needed to suck it up. They did give me a steroid pill, so I figured they were right and started the "sucking up process". I made it another day and a half. But by day 3 ( you guessed it, right on time to meet with the ladies) I was literally in tears from the pain.

Which brings me to my latest and hopefully last ER visit. I INSISTED on seeing the ENT, and was finally given a CT scan of my throat. Sure enough I've got myself a rocking abscess that just doesn't want to go away. My options were all pretty gruesome and all included antibiotics so we've decided on a "compromise" of sorts. I will be taking ANOTHER round of a DIFFERENT antibiotic in the hopes that this one will actually work without invasive actions. And if it doesn't, I'll be finding out ( as in finishing the meds) right before we leave on our long LONG awaited vacation to see Brett's Dad's side of the family up in  Maryland.  The plan is that if it doesn't work this time, I'll see the Ear Nose and Throat Doctors before we leave, get more antibiotics and schedule a tonsillectomy for when I get back. Which sounds all well and good except that I know how tired my body already is. I know that antibiotics are great, but they seem to be doing more and more harm to my body in side affects than good, even now two days into this round, my throat is still struggling-which is not a good sign. The thought of dealing with that struggle while also dealing with the added stressors of travel is a disappointment. And I also know that Brett is leaving for a 3 week training exercise in Indiana when we return from Maryland, and therefore it will require other family to step in and help me out in my recovery from surgery.

So, friends, to sum up, its been crazy around here. And I have been left feeling weak. Weak emotionally, spiritually and definitely physically.  But, I've also been here before. In fact, we've been in FAR greater straits then these! And we've always had a Heavenly Father to pull us through! I look forward to seeing His Mighty Hands at work. I'll keep you updated....

*You may wonder why I go to the ER and not my "regular doctor"? Because its nearly IMPOSSIBLE to get appointments with my regular doctor. I've called in extreme pain and told the next available appoint was 3 weeks away. Such is military medicine. If you live with it, you know what I'm talking about. The rest of you refrain from talking about ER abuse around me.

June 16, 2014

Reach out and touch somebody....

As part of my bible study a week or so ago I came across something that I don't think I'd noticed before. And being a verbal learner it took two discussions with two different groups of people for it to even start to set in....so, I figured, why not seal the deal and "work it out real good" here on my blog....

So I was reading in Mark 5: 21-43. Which in my Bible is captioned "Jesus Heals a Woman and Jairus' Daughter" but what I wish the people who translate Bibles had titled something along the lines of, "Jesus is all about the Journey" or something equally cheesy. Maybe we can count on that for the next version of The Message, but I digress...what I mean, to say, is that here's Jesus and this super important man ( Jairus) comes along and says "My daughter's super sick, please come quickly and heal her!" and so Jesus slowly makes his way with a GIANT crowd of people following him.
Fellow disciples ( not just the 12! He's got a LOT of disciples!), curious bystanders, and sick people clambering to be healed....that makes for a pretty large group! I can only imagine that walking with that kinda crowd would be hard and so, it only makes sense that Jesus would be touched by a woman who wanted so desperately to be healed by him. He then STOPS and asks "Who touched me?!" ( you can read all the details in Mark-and you should! Its so fabulous!) and spends time talking to this woman-and enough time passes that Jairus' servants come to tell him that his daughter has passed away.
Of course, the disciples and the rest of crowd are like, "Fail Jesus!" you totally missed out on healing a major spiritual leaders daughter and thus gaining the correct notoriety that we all hope to receive. ( you know, more legit than just the Crowd). BUT as you will know if you continue reading in the chapter that Jesus actually proves them all wrong by telling everyone to stay put and he and only three of his disciples go to Jairus' house where he proceeds to raise the little girl from the dead!

Now, up until recently I'd looked at these two events as connected only in the sense that the healing of the Woman was cause and effect for raising the little girl from the dead! But I now think it might be so much more!

As someone who's trying really hard to reach people for Jesus, I can go hurdling through my week until I reach the next "Christian milestone", either our planned family outings to go take cookies to neighbors and offering to pray with them, or bible studies, or church, or accountability groups....these are all things I can put on my calendar and I put my head down and "do business" till I get to the next one.

When I look at this story about Jesus, I can see how Jairus' daughter is kinda of like one of those Big Deal events of my week. ( "Heal major Jewish Leader's daughter" ( check!) ), but unlike me-who would have probably IMMEDIATELY sent away the crowd and only had my 3 best buds come along for the journey to make it all go smoother and so I'd get there in a timely fashion to do my healing-Jesus didn't. He walked along, with all those people clambering around him. Kinda like an almost 4 year old, and maybe an almost 18 month old, perhaps? Or maybe a lot like the annoyingly slow guy in the check out in front of me at the grocery store today? Or maybe the overly chatty lady at the library when I'm trying to get us home for lunch, maybe?
Basically, I was convicted that, to Jesus, ALL of the people were important, not just the "important" ones-or the ones who he'd made a commitment to....How many "hemorrhaging" people do we pass up on a daily basis because we're all too busy rushing on to our next part of our day, and then we only spend time loving on people for Jesus at certain set aside times?! This is craziness! And maybe I'm the only one, but I am so glad I noticed this little truth in my readings. As wonderful and important as the set aside times are ( because lets be honest, if Abigail doesn't plan, than she starts to go a little crazy), but I want to have an ATTITUDE of Love and Kindness for all those who cross my path each and every day!

May 27, 2014

the preschool problem

As the school year comes to a close isn't it the perfect time to talk about NEXT year?! Haha! If you're an over-planner like me, than YES! It's almost too late to plan out what you will do next year! :-) 

So, over the last few months I've had several people ask me about Ransom's schooling. As I've mentioned previously, this last year Ransom has been attending a little "Pre-K 3" class at a private Episcopal school near our house twice a week in the mornings. We made the decision for him to attend "school" this year mostly because he had gone to "school" ( I use the word school but its more like mother's day out when they're this young...) when he stayed with family during our Tabitha Year, and he loved it, and ALSO because we'd just moved to San Antonio and I knew that the routine/sameness of school plus the added bonus of making a few friends ( hopefully!) would be good for him as we got use to our new city.

That being said, our plans for this next year were a little less easy for me to decide. Ransom is turning 4 in August and so he could technically enter into the official "preschool" territory. I had tons of questions to answer and I'll try to cover all our options here for those who are interested.

1. When to start School ( as in the real, "let's learn some stuff" school)? Ransom is young for his year group. As in, he barely makes the Sept 1st cut off with his August birthday. I read endless articles about maturity and socialization and if your interested I can point you in some directions ( though I honestly didn't bookmark many of them). I also talked to teachers and parents. In fact, it was my go-to conversation with just about anyone. It probably got boring. But, you know what? In the end it boiled down to watching my own kid. And isn't that how it should be? I know studies and experience is really valuable and I know it definitely educated our decisions, but every child is different and we should treat them as such! I watched my kid with his little classmates and I watched him with kids at the park and the library. He gravitated towards the younger kids. His best friends at school? One turns 4 in June, the other doesn't turn 4 till next October. Kind of an interesting coincidence! Sure Ransom has a pretty impressive vocabulary and he's on the tall end so he keeps up with those older than him well both physically and acedimically . But the bottom line is that he'd still rather play, and when he is playing he gets intimidated easily by his older peers. He cares very little about learning to write his name, or even coloring within the lines. And while those things might not necessarily change with time, I'm still happy to give him one more carefree year before we start to seriously buckle down with academia. And hey! If this next year he decides he wants to learn some more sight words or how to write more letters than BONUS! I think a little more maturity socially will go a long way with his future schooling.

2. Private/Public/Homeschooling? Whew! Here's a real hot topic! First of all, let me just get the private school thing out of the way first....we're a one income family. We will probably remain as such for the foreseeable future ( until I become a chart toping author. boom.) so private school is not really in our budget. However, we did love Ransom's schooling experience this past year so much that we're actually waiting to see if we will be able to attend again next year-with a hefty amount of finical aid** But, let's say you're middle class, English is your first language, your children do not have any huge learning disablilties and you aren't military. Than you actually CAN'T attend public preschool in a lot of states because you don't meet the criteria! Craziness! But, honestly, you should be ok with that, Parents! Let's not rush our kids into school, OK? Let them be little!!! They are going to be in school for basically the rest of the time they are at home, so take a chill pill!
But, lets say you do feel like you kid needs some outside the home structure, or maybe a little extra socialization, or maybe you think your kid is behind in some basic learning milestones ( recognizing their name, basic phonic sounds and ABCs etc. ) and you don't feel up to the task of taking those things on at home. Than great! Private/public school may be for you! Bottom line: Please free yourself up of the pressure of outside sources! Friends, I know that as the years continue my question of whether to send my kids to school or homeschool them will only be more complicated. But, if I'm honest many of those complications will come from feeling pressure from the various parenting camps. Why can't we all just agree that homeschool and outside the home schooling both have benefits? Why can't we agree that sometimes those benefits will lean one way or the other for different children at different times? I hope that Brett and I will have the clarity of mind to decide each year for each child what will be best for them with the resources and understanding that we have for that upcoming year, and for all the things that we can't see we will rely on the Lord to direct us. And above all, so HELP ME if I'm ever judgmental toward someone else's parenting choice! Sure, here I am telling you what we've done on my blog, but I HOPE that you never feel like I'm telling you what YOU should do!

**After much prayer we couldn't decide whether to keep Ransom out of school this next year and start doing some homeschooling the next year for PreK ( or even just start doing a little this year and maybe do a combo two-years type deal) OR if having him in an actual school environment was something he would really need for this next year. ( we still don't have a ton of friends). SO in the end, not being able to afford his current preschool was a blessing. Our finical aid request is our metaphorical fleece. If we get it, then great! Ransom will benefit from the outside the home interaction and structure of another year of preschool. If not, than great! I've got library days, children museum art times and park outings planned to fill our days with the outings, socialization and stimulation that I think he will need.

3. How do I pick a school? So, let's say you've decided that sending your little precious angel off to preschool is the way to go. How do you go about picking said preschool?  Now in some places your choices are limited. As in, ONE OPTION. In some ways, I really envy you! hahah! Then all you have to decide is if that ONE place is right for you and if not Homeschool it is!! Sweet! BUT let's say you've got a bunch of schools to chose from? Public schools ( if you meet the criteria-we did because we are military! Score!), charter schools ( same criteria), and private schools ( cost plays a factor).
I started by going online and going solely on location.  Then once I'd found all the schools in my area I looked up all their rating and reviews that I could find online. greatschools.org is a good place to start, but even your basic google search usually reveals some reviews. Now, I don't take my reviews TOO seriously! BUT if all 50 reviews say that the principles never listen to the parents than that MIGHT be something to consider! After, I've read everything I can, I do a scheduled visit. You can call and make appointment and then be shown around the school in style. They will tell you all the wonderful things about the school and will try and highlight all the good things. You will want to ask questions like, "what learning styles do you uphold to?" And with preschool it either is "we are free form" ( aka you're paying for your kids to play) or "we follow such-and-such curriculum".  Ask about tuition, parent involvement, do they do field trips/special events, teacher to student ratio, and are other "classes" such as another language or music extra or offered?
If you like a school you may want to go back and do a "pop in" visit unexpected to see if teachers still seemed fully engaged, if things differ depending on the time of day or the day of the week etc.

And, then, if you're like me....you'll barely pay attention to any of the above criteria. Instead, you will pay sole attention to how you feel about a certain school.  Sad but true. I follow my intuition above the facts pretty much every time.

So, what about you? What things do you find really important in deciding the best schooling decision for your child? Did you do preschool or just go straight to kindergarden? If you child did preschool, what kind of preschool was it? I'm dying to hear your thoughts!