Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008: The Year in Smiles

It seems that this is the time of year that we get introspective and take a longer look at what we've accomplished in the past 365 days (or 366, as the case was this year). Hopefully, as you look back, your year is filled with joyful moments, lessons learned, and resolutions accomplished instead of with regrets or frustrations.

When 2008 began, I was a brand-new mom. I know, I'm still a 'new' mom, comparatively speaking, but one year ago, I had only been a mom for about three weeks. I was exhausted, confused, frustrated, overwhelmed... Earlier today I was remembering the feeling of panic that used to fill me when Hubby would walk out the door for work, leaving me at home with this inscrutable newborn. And a year ago I was crying a lot. My body responds to exhaustion by crying. And I cried. And cried. And cried. I had no concept yet of the loving sacrifice that is parenting. Although I had been married for almost five years, and in ministry for all that time and more, it took the 24/7 context of parenting my own child to wake me up and begin to truly teach me about selflessness and contentment. Not that I've arrived, mind you. But I see how far I have to go, and that's half the battle, right?

I'm now the mother of a toddler. A one-year-old. He eats 'real food' now, and walks on his own, and doesn't need me to sustain his life as he did a year ago, but he still needs me. Now he needs me to kiss boo-boos, read him books, give hugs to Elmo, feed him yogurt, and sing silly songs while I change his diaper. And I love every minute of it. His smiles and giggles are worth every second spent walking the hallway with a screaming baby on my shoulder, singing Amazing Grace for the 96th time because that's the only song my addled brain could recall the words to.

I am just completely thankful to God for all the blessings of 2008:
  • a healthy, growing marriage relationship with my loving husband
  • a sweet, healthy toddler
  • personal growth in my pursuit of godliness and my trust in Him
  • as always, His amazing financial provision throughout the year
  • many opportunities for ministry at camp and our community

and so many many more- God's blessings are so bountiful- I was thanking Him for all He has given me the other day, and this verse came to mind: "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over." (Luke 6:38) And that's how I feel about God's blessings in my life. They are so abundant. So, thank You, Lord. For 2008. And for not letting me stay the same as I was in 2007.

To close this post, I'll sum up 2008 in smiles. So here's a smile from Z for each month of 2008. Happy New Year!!!

January: (5 weeks old)


February: (2 months)

March: (3 months)

April: (4 months)

May: (5 months)

June: (6 months)

July: (7 months)

August: (8 months)

September: (9 months)

October: (10 months)

November: (11 months)

December: (One Year!!!)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ca-ca Addict

My son is a ca-ca addict. In case you don't speak Z, that's a cracker addict. Doesn't really matter what kind of cracker, if he sees it, he wants it. If you try to give him a meal without some type of ca-ca or noodle, he will cry and repeat the word 'ca-ca' over & over. As if I'm required to give him one because he can say the word.

Tonight I sat him down to a nutritious meal- shredded chicken breast, green beans, and noodles (from chicken noodle soup). Until I brought him the noodles, he refused to eat anything else, and cried, 'ca-ca, ca-ca'. I can't wait to get his prescription for a multivitamin- I will feel so much better about his nutrition when I can just give him that!!!

We had a great Christmas, though. Z got a bunch of presents from my family & enjoyed opening them & playing with them. Hubby got him an Elmo doll, which is one of his favorite presents. He loves to hug Elmo & then hand him to me to hug. He loves his ball popper from my aunt & uncle, and his Tad doll from my great-aunt, too. And he got some Handy Manny tools, which he loves because the hammer talks & he can pull out & push back in the tape measure.

He's been pretty good the last couple days...a little fussy here & there, which is to be expected...but he's been spitting up again, which he hasn't done for a few months now, and it's kind of wierd. So I've started keeping this super-specific journal of everything he eats & when he sleeps & when he gets fussy & sick, etc...so I can see if there's any patterns in what he eats. Then if I eventually need to go to the ped (to discuss changes in his acid reflux meds), I can show him my 'research'. I know, I know...ultra-hyper 'first-time mom' and all...but like I said to Hubby today, "If he had heartburn, he wouldn't be able to tell me...all I can do is observe what I see & record what I know."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Make a Joyful Noise

On the way home today in the car, I was listening to some praise music & singing along with gusto. And quietly, from the backseat, I heard a little voice singing a 'song' of his own! It was so cute. He does sing from time to time, around the house or in the shopping cart at the grocery store, but it was so neat to have him sing with me!!! Just a fun little tidbit of my day to share.


The rest of my day has not been blog-worthy- I've been grumpy & so has little Z. Sometimes I think his attitude is a reflection of mine. Is he old enough to understand when I'm grumpy? I also washed a whole load of Z's laundry with no soap. And didn't realize the soap was absent until after I had washed and dried the whole load. It's back in the washer now. (*sigh*)


Oh, and one more interesting thing I've done today:



"Hmm, Mom, what's that in the toilet? A bottle of hand soap? And how did that get there? Hmmm...I have NO idea."

Right, Z. So I fished the hand soap out of the toilet. And washed it. Z is now in his bed, calming down from a tantrum. He's quiet now, and playing with his toy. I'd better go get him. :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

This post has been revised to contain, you know, the truth.

Ha- you know what's funny? I started writing a post the other day about how Z's tantrums were getting better...and he hadn't been so fussy lately...and then yesterday was just about the worst day we've had in a month, I think. Funny how things can change so quickly... :) I deleted that post, by the way. :) I really thought we'd be heading to the dr. today- Z was SO grouchy last night & up crying 3 times before midnight...but then he slept through until 7:15 (MUCH later than normal!) and seems perfectly happy this morning. I'm attributing it all to teething, and going with that. Besides, it's snowing too bad to head to town, but you know if Z was really sick, we'd be there anyway, right? :)

We bought our stocking stuffers for each other yesterday- so I'm excited to exchange those! And Z has some presents to open from grandparents & great-grandparents! And we're planning a nice meal as a family & a nice breakfast the day after Christmas, so I'm looking forward to that.

Lately, Z LOVES when I blow bubbles. He knows the bubble jar & even when I hide it, he knows where it is & cries for me to blow bubbles. It's so cute. He laughs like crazy & tries to catch them. When they pop by our faces, he reaches out & wipes my face (not too gently, but it's still adorable...I guess it's more like getting slapped, but it's pretty cute anyway.) :) He is just learning by leaps & bounds every day- he knows where his feet are (if you say foot, feet or toes) & what lots of words mean- eat, lunch, breakfast, snack, cracker, clap, wave...etc. He is so smart, and it is SOOO fun to watch him learn each day!

Ooh, I hear him waking up- guess I'd better go! Hope everyone's having a fun Christmas week! :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tantrum City Here

So. I am the proud mother of a one-year-old. I still can't believe that. This year just flew right by! And, oh, his little personality. It is a-changing. The temper tantrums are UN-believable. And also hilarious at times. He sits on the floor, legs out in front of him, and puts his head down between his legs, face touching the floor, and screams at the top of his lungs. Then he turns over onto his stomach and stretches his head up with his hands on the floor (like a downward-facing-dog in yoga) and has the saddest look on his face while he screams. It is too funny. Also, sometimes, he grabs at his face with his little hand while he's having a fit, as if to say, "AAH, MOM, I'm so ANGRY!"

What sets him off? Let's see...today I took a piece of trash away from him...that made him mad...if he brings you a toy and wants you to play with him and you don't do it RIGHT AWAY that irks him...and he's always grouchy when he's hungry. Also, diaper changes? Yikes. I put a mirror up by his changing table so he can see himself in it, and that helps some, but he is always trying to turn over and sit up, so we struggle with that, too. I think he's teething this week, too, so that doesn't help. He was pretty good this afternoon, though, and now he's been asleep for almost two hours, and I got to take a little rest myself, so that was very nice.

So, I guess if you think of it, pray for God to give us wisdom in parenting these new personality 'traits' that are showing up in our TODDLER! :) Believe me, that's what I pray for ALL day long- "Lord, give me patience and wisdom!"

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Surprisingly, Duff hasn't called to hire me yet...

Your rainbow is strongly shaded pink and yellow.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What is says about you: You are a joyful person. You appreciate everyone around you. You're good at getting people to like you. You are a good listener and your friends are glad to have you around in difficult times.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.




Friday was my little Z's FIRST birthday! Such a happy and saddishly sweet day all in one! My parents came out for the weekend to celebrate, and Z ate cake and opened presents, and it was so fun. Here are a few pictures:


Letting everyone know he's one!Digging into his cake- he was kind of unsure at first, but then I gave him a taste of frosting, and he looked at it for a minute and dived right in. :)Oh, yeah, he's got the hang of it.





Really excited about all his new toys! :)

Oh, and yes, I made the block-shaped cake. Loosely blockishly shaped. Actually, I shaped the cake like a cube, and then frosted it, using most of the white frosting that I had. The rest needed to be orange & blue for the decorating...and then I put the cake in the fridge & I don't know if it settled or what, but it came out like a lopsided lump instead of a cube. So there you have it. My first attempt at cake decorating. Martha Stewart, I'm not. :)

But we had a great weekend- I love that Z is only nursing once a day now, in the morning when he gets up. It's so nice to be almost done...as far as finishing the weaning process...now that I'm here, I'm kind of like....ummm...I could keep nursing for another week...I guess it seems like the end of a mothering chapter... I'm such a sentimental doofus, I know. He's eating real food now, too, lots of times, like we went to Bob Evans the other day & he ordered off the kids menu- grilled cheese & cottage cheese. He loves cheese. And turkey. And bread. And graham crackers and waffles and goldfish crackers. And bananas. It's such a fun stage. :)

Well, I'd better get to bed. Hubby has a cough & we all have just an edge of a cold somehow, so we're not feeling great. Z is over his cold for the most part, and I never got it too bad, but Hubby is coughing like crazy tonight! Hopefully we'll all feel better soon! We'll be at home tomorrow for a relaxing day...making cookies, cleaning the house, and hanging out as a family. :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Turkey is IN the Oven

Well, I started out the morning around 6 am with a rather UNthankful attitude. So instead of sharing about teething, biting, weaning, colds, and other things that I'm NOT as thankful for, I'll move on to what I AM thankful for.

I'm thankful for my sweet baby! Last Thanksgiving, I was hugely, uncomfortably, 39 weeks pregnant. My delivery was smooth, and other than acid reflux and one ear infection, which are minor in the grand scheme of things, Z hasn't had any health problems. And he'll be a year old next week! And my life has changed SO much because of the things I've learned in parenting Z.

I'm thankful for my patient, loving Hubby. He is so good to let me have time to relax when I need it...every night he gives Z a bath so that I can have a few minutes to myself. And he listens to me...and that's huge, because I talk A LOT. :) He does a lot of other things for us, too, like working to provide, shoveling the steps, cleaning off the car, plowing the driveway...

I'm thankful for the ministry God has led us to at the camp. I'm thankful that Hubby's 'job' isn't just a dead end, but it's an opportunity to serve God in every little task we do. I'm thankful for MY job, only part-time, I can bring Z with me and he can be a part of our ministry, too. It's perfect.

I'm thankful that we're not rich. (say what???) No, really. I'm thankful that we're not rich. I remember a few years ago, when Hubby and I were first married, I was talking to my MIL, who is infinitely wise...plus she reads my blog, so I'd better say something good... just kidding, Mom! :) No, really, though, as an aside, that's something else I'm thankful for- a great relationship with all of Hubby's family! Anyway, I was talking to my MIL, who has been a pastor's wife for about 25 years, and I remember saying to her, "I'm not asking to be RICH, I just don't want to STRUGGLE so much." And I will never forget what she said- "You know, sometimes I think God allows us to struggle so that we will learn to depend on Him." And that is so true. I've learned a lot about leaning on God and His provision for us has been amazing. And if we were rich, and didn't NEED anything, we wouldn't have been able to see God provide EVERYTHING we needed for our little Z. So many people have given us toys, clothes, and furniture for him, I haven't had to buy hardly anything.

I'm thankful that I have a family to be home with, in a warm house, with an extravagantly (hopefully) delicious dinner to savor together.

On a more practical note, I have never cooked a turkey before. Or stuffing. The mashed potatoes I should have down, but I'm praying about that turkey. :)

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and for a unique perspective on giving thanks even when we don't feel like it, check out Angie's post. I cried and laughed, and was reminded how important it is to submit to God.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Our Vacation- Part 2

Wow, we've been home from vacation for a week and a half now...it's hard to remember everything that happened! :) In my last post, I wrote about the camp conference, and driving down to Hubby's youngest brother's house in Chattanooga, TN, with Hubby's middle brother & his wife (A&A).

So we got to Chattanooga around 8:30, and Z had screamed for about an hour earlier in the evening while Hubby & brother were trying to have a conversation. Us lucky ladies got to ride in the screaming-free car. :) We met Hubby's youngest brother & wife (J&E) at BW3's (which, by the way, if anyone knows why it's nicknamed that, since there's only 2 W's in Wild Wings, I'd love to know), and we ordered some food, but Z was a little scared of Hubby's youngest brother, having not seen him for a while, and Z was tired & grouchy & wanted down...so us girls didn't stay too long, just long enough to eat, and then we headed to J&E's house.

Friday we all just hung out at the house, played games (typical for a family gathering), talked, played with Z. It was so fun & relaxing. On Saturday, J&E took us in to downtown Chattanooga - to the Art District, a cool coffeeshop, a walking bridge & to a cute carousel! Z rode the carousel & rode in the stroller & even took a nap while we walked around. It was so much fun, and such a cool downtown area! The weather was gorgeous- probably in the upper 50s or so- WONDERFUL considering it was probably snowing here at the time. :) When we got home that afternoon, I started feeling a little yucky, but sometimes I get nauseous headaches, so I attributed it to that...until I got sick. And I NEVER get sick like that. Even during my pregnancy, I never hurled. But I had the FLU. Yuck. Then, during the night, my SIL E got the flu...then in the early morning, A&A left for home, but only made it an hour down the road, and stopped at a hotel, because BIL A had the flu. I felt so yucky on Sunday, but we had to pack up & head to Nashville, because our reservation started that day...we managed, and actually by Sunday night I was feeling a lot better, and able to eat some crackers & soup. Thankfully it seems it was just a 24-hour bug, and I was back to about 90 percent by Monday! Hubby was only sick during one night, and a little nauseous the next day (Sun. nite & Mon.), so thankfully he didn't have it too bad!

Nashville was fun- someone had given us a week at a condo resort place, so our suite was really nice- Z had his own room, and we had a whirlpool tub in our master suite. Love it! :) I probably took 10 baths in the week we were there. :) We enjoyed relaxing as a family, taking Z to swim in the WARM pool, and playing on the resort playground- just swinging, mostly. One of the highlights of our Nashville trip was taking Z to his first zoo! He liked the animals that were active, like the meerkats & this one stork. But the animals that were just laying around, he wasn't really sure what he was supposed to be looking at, and it was kind of a cool, wet day, so some of the animals were kind of boring...but overall I think we had a good time. Hubby & I enjoyed the zoo, too, probably more than Z!

After a week in Nashville, we had to come home, and our trip home was NASTY. By the time we got to Cleveland, it was snowing, and it took us 4 hours to come the last 90 miles. Then, after we got our stuff unloaded into the house, and I was getting Z down to sleep, the power went out. And stayed out for half the night. And came back on. And went back off. Thankfully, our house didn't get too cold before it finally came on to stay around 4 am. But we were wishing we would've just stopped at a hotel, that's for sure. :)

It was fun to be gone on vacation, but nothing beats being home.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Our Vacation- Part 1

Our vacation started out with a 7-hour drive to Southern Ohio for a camp conference. We left after church on Sunday, and drove through the afternoon. With stops for the baby to stretch & eat & all, we got there around 8:15 that Sunday night. The conference was held at Scioto Hills Camp, where hubby & I worked for a couple of years, so it was neat to see the changes they had made, and see everybody we used to work with, too. Hubby's brother & wife work at a camp in Iowa that also attends this conference, and the thoughtful S.H. staff put them in the room RIGHT next to us! So that was a lot of fun.

On Monday morning, we got up and hopped on a tour bus headed to Cincinnatti. We were nervous about how Z would act on the bus, but he did fine- slept some, played some, wasn't too fussy, and NO screaming, thankfully. After about three hours, we finally arrived at the Creation Museum. First, we all had to get our tickets (since we had a group of about 80 people there), and then take a group picture. After that, we got to enjoy the museum. It was amazing. The indoor, walk-through part is so neat. If you're a person who really enjoys informational reading, there's plenty of signs to read, and if you're not, there's lots of visual displays, life-size animals, plants, a life-size Garden of Eden, life-size dinosaur models, even a life-size model of 1 percent of the ark. It was a great experience. And then we went outside- there are fun bouncy bridges to walk on, paths & trails with flowers all around, and a petting zoo with a camel, goats, a pig, llamas, donkeys, sheep, etc. Z was a little unsure of the llama, but liked the sheep & goats.


We returned to the camp that evening, and Z slept the WHOLE way back- three hours- on the bus- thankfully! Tuesday morning, the actual camping conference began- the camp held different workshops about camping, including a workshop that Hubby & I attended on the challenges and rewards of raising children at camp. Hosted by Roger Williams, who is the director of Mount Hermon Camp in California, AND the father of Joy Williams. Heard of her? I have! :) It was really cool to hear about raising camp kids from someone who has been there & raised kids who love the Lord & serve Him. The SH staff had thought through the childcare aspect of the conference really well, so everyone with children under 2 were in the same lodge, with the childcare held in the middle room of said lodge. So Z could take a nap even if I was in a workshop, and I ended up getting to go to all the sessions & workshops, so that was very nice.


Of course, the best part of the conference is getting to see all of our friends from other camps (Hubby has been to 6 of these, and this was my 4th conference). And going back to our old 'stomping-grounds' to see how they've updated & even remodeled parts of the camp was really neat, too.


The conference was supposed to end after an early lunch on Thursday so that everyone could get on the road. But the speaker, the afore-mentioned Roger, needed a ride to Cincinnatti to catch his plane, and had to leave at 11. We were originally planning to drive down to Hubby's youngest brother's house in TN with Hubby's middle brother, and I was pretty excited about driving down together... but Hubby wanted to help the speaker out, and it was only an hour or so out of our way, so we ended up volunteering to leave early and take him to Cincinnatti. I wasn't overly thrilled about missing out on the drive with his brother & his wife, but I reluctantly agreed when I heard that no one else had offered to take him. He and Hubby ended up having good conversation the whole way there. The kicker, though, was that when we arrived at the airport, Roger said, "Thank you for allowing me to borrow your husband for these couple of hours". I was like... "uh, yeah, no problem..." with my head down in shame...I can be so selfish sometimes!!! We ended up being able to meet up with Hubby's brother & his wife a couple hours down the road anyway, and I rode with my SIL, and we had a great time talking & LAUGHING after all. :)

Alright, I'm going to close this post here...and work on another one to tell you about the rest of our trip. It may be another week before I get around to it, though, I'm warning you... :) Have a great Thanksgiving, all!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy International Babywearing Week!

November 12-18 is International Babywearing Week, and I've mentioned on here and on Twitter that I love wearing Z in a baby backpack while I work up at camp. It's also fun to wear him on walks, and when I wear him and vacuum, he doesn't cry nearly as much (he's doing better with loud noises, but the vacuum still intimidates him).

I'm relatively new to the whole babywearing arena, and didn't wear Z much when he was little, but I'm doing my research so that if another little one comes along someday, I'll be prepared, and I'm looking forward to wearing the next baby, hopefully in some kind of sling, wrap or mei tai. There are SO many more types of babywearing devices than I ever knew! Thanks, Stephanie, for opening up my eyes! :)
Here are Zachary and I on a walk around camp. I have a backpack that I got at a garage sale, and he loves it! If you can tell in the bottom picture, it has a metal frame which you can't feel when you're wearing it (the straps are really soft & comfy), but he loves it because he can stand up on the bottom bar & feel more active while he's riding. :)

I love babywearing because it keeps my baby calm & happy & close to me while I'm working- it's fun for him and me, and it's efficient.

To read about more people's adventures in babywearing, check out this post!

Oh, and I have lots of vacation/conference/24-hour flu adventures to share, so hopefully I'll get some posts written in the next few days. Okay, who am I kidding- I'll aim for one post in the next week. :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ashamed

I'm ashamed of myself today.

Little Z woke up around 6:45, which with us keeping him up a little later each night to prepare for the time change this Sunday, amounted to about 6:15 adjusted time. He was so tired while nursing that he could hardly keep his eyes open, but when I put him back in his bed, he played and played and refused to go back to sleep. Instead of spending time in prayer, I checked my email. Why? I don't know. So I finally got him back up around 7:45, and was grouchy at him for not going back to sleep.

Then Hubby came down the hall asking for a bucket. Apparently he was awakened by drips of water from our bedroom ceiling. Why today? I don't know. A branch fell on our house about two months ago, and it hasn't leaked at all until today.

Then I decided that I needed to go shopping for some clothes, and spend some of my birthday money, and we needed to leave right away. Why? I have no idea. So I hurried to get myself and Z ready to go, and headed out the door as quickly as possible. I ran some errands, and then went to the Big K to see what their fall clothes looked like. Z was very good through the first round of shopping, but during the 'trying-on' phase of the trip, he started getting really fussy. And I was rather impatient and frustrated with him. And after I left the dressing room, after snapping at my little sweetheart, I saw a mother rudely snapping at her son, who was riding in the cart, and I realized I was acting just like her. (On a side note, this child was at least two or three years old, and was drinking milk from a BOTTLE. Does anyone else think this is wierd???)

When we finally left the Big K, I was tired, Z was fussy, and we still had to go to Wally-World to pick up some things (okay, a lot of things) for me and Hubby, including groceries. Z actually behaved very well in Wally-World, and I hurried through the rest of our shopping and even managed to surprise my husband by having time to get us Subway for lunch. But after we got to the car, and drove home, and ate, even after Z took a nap, and I was relaxing in front of the computer, I was just whupped. I was still grouchy, and just worn out from my grouchiness and Z's grouchiness.

Then I checked my facebook page. A friend's page said that his child had both been born and passed away today. "She came and touched our hearts and now she's running in heaven" his page said. And I cried. And I was ashamed of myself. God has given me SO much. I am so blessed to have my husband and my son, and I don't thank God enough. Instead, I snap at my son when he won't sit still in the cart in the Big K dressing room. And I fuss at my hubby for tracking mud around the house and cluttering up my kitchen counter when others wish they had the opportunity to clean up after their husbands for just one more day.

And I remembered that this contentment thing? I have NOT arrived. Contentment and Christlikeness are lifelong processes. And, oh, yes, He's still working on me!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What is going on? Good question.

I have not blogged in forever. I will attempt to update all of my loyal readers on my life with a numbered list. Because I'm tired.

1. Little man is 10 months old. He's been eating a lot of LEAVES lately. That can't be good for the digestive tract. Never thought I'd be saying, "No, no, we don't eat leaves. Leaves are yucky. Yucky." in my life as many times as I have this week. He now says "all done", which is cute. He says it when we shut a door or leave a room or just whenever he feels like it. "Ah-gee" (pronounced with a hard g, not 'jee') means animal or person or anything else he deems exciting. He's not walking yet, but he may as well be- he can stand up almost on his own & he's into everything. Including all leaves & rocks within reach.

2. We still have a mouse. I am just defeated in the mouse area. I just give up. I stopped looking at what they have eaten in my pantry. I try to move the glue traps around to try to catch him, but I'm done worrying about it. It's so yucky. If I think about it too much, I may have a nervous breakdown. So I'm ignoring it & hoping it will just go away. Or eat some of my cooking and die.

3. I don't really have much else to post about. But I thought a number 3 would be appropriate. I'll post again when I have more awake brain cells to aid me in my writing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mousie Update

Yeah, so the mice are NOT gone. They are still here, taunting me and holding the tattered remnants of my sanity hostage.

The day after I wrote the above post, I saw another mouse, and the next morning woke up to find him trapped in a box trap - the kind where they walk in & can't get out. The next day, after that mouse had been trapped & I had re-cleaned my kitchen, I found more mousie evidence. And more yesterday.

So I laid out more glue traps around the kitchen, but no luck so far. I know, this really should not be this big of a deal, but it's just so GROSS. I'm back to hearing mice scratch at Z's baby monitor at 3 am, and thinking they're running over me in my sleep. No dreams yet, but I'll keep you posted.

It is never boring in our house. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mousie Saga

Well, we have had quite the adventure in our house these last couple of weeks. Before we left on our vacation (sorry, that's part of the reason I haven't posted for so long!), I spied a mouse running around in our living room. Then we went to Iowa, visited our families, came back, and the mouse was still here.

In the past, we've always had cats, sometimes several cats at one time, who lived around & under our house & ate the mice before they got into the house. So I haven't really had to deal with mice overly much. But, as those of you who have experienced mice in your house know, they are SOOOO destructive. They eat through any kind of plastic or paper bag or box, eating & contaminating any food found inside, and they pulverize any kind of fabric or stuffing (potholders, blankets, sweaters) to make nests. Not to mention the thousands of little pieces of 'mousie evidence' that will be found anywhere they've made an appearance.

After being home from vacation a couple days and seeing the mouse several times, and finding many chewed & eaten things in my kitchen, I was totally disgusted and beginning to lose my mind. I couldn't sleep at night because I was imagining the mouse running over me (or worse, my 10-month old) in bed. I dreamed of mice & rats chasing me through the house & even getting caught in my vacuum. I thought I heard the mouse scratching at Z's end of the baby monitor. I jumped at every noise I heard come from anywhere near my cabinets, every creak of the house. It was ridiculous.

We bought the plastic snap traps, and a box trap that they're supposed to walk into & not be able to get out of. The mouse deftly avoided them and, in fact, ate the peanut butter OUT of the plastic traps without being snapped. The only time those traps snapped was when I was trying to load them. Can't you just see the mouse holding the trap open with his front paws while eating the peanut butter? Yech.

Finally, at the store yesterday, we bought some glue traps. These are sticky little pools that the mouse will get stuck in & not be able to get out. Someone recommended them to us. So we bought 8. I opened the top kitchen cabinet, above my head, to put the first one in, only to see the mouse peering down at me from a stack of my potholders. I considered throwing the glue trap AT the mouse, but instead I decided to scream, slam the door, and scare the baby, who began to cry. Much more effective.

When Hubby came home, I asked him to put the glue traps in the cabinet, which he was able to do successfully, without seeing the mouse. A couple hours later, I heard something moving around in the cabinet, and asked Joel to check the traps. He opened the door, and the mouse was sitting NEXT to one of the traps, staring at us. I screamed, burst into tears & proceeded to rant in detail about how I was losing my mind, and why was the mouse sitting NEXT to the trap, and when would he ever DIE already, and how MUCH of my STUFF would he EAT before it was over. How pathetic am I?

Anyway, this morning, Hubby checked the traps again, and found the little critter FINALLY stuck to one of the traps. Hallelujah. It was actually kind of cute, just sitting there looking at us, when we knew it couldn't get us. I said this to Hubby & he gave me the wierdest look. It said, "Seriously?" :) Hubby doesn't like touching mice, but he managed to get the trap into a plastic bag & throw it in the camp's dumpster!!! I think I did a jig when the mouse was gone. It remains to be seen whether he was our one & only mouse, or whether he brought friends and family. The remaining glue traps will be staying in their positions, at the ready. Just in case.

So overall, along with a small portion of my sanity, which may have been questionable to begin with, I lost a bag of rice, some navy beans, some peanut butter crackers & Saltines, breath mints, a bottle of sprinkles, two potholders and a kitchen towel. SO FAR. Hopefully this was a solo job and I won't find more stuff chewed into. Blech. So there's your disgusting story for the week.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pooh, Golf Carts, and Marriage

It was the summer of 2001. Hubby and I had been dating for almost two years, and in Bible College years, that's a LONG time for a couple to be together before getting engaged. And boy, did I know it. I REALLY wanted to be engaged.

Hubby is really good at surprising me- he always goes out of his way to let me know ahead of time that we just don't have the money/time/whatever for something right now, and I (of course) always respond kindly, "Oh, alright, honey, I completely understand." Ahem. Let's get back to reality. Anyway...after we discuss said item and decide together that we truly don't need it, he usually surprises me with it soon after our conversation (not EVERYTHING I want, just some things- didn't want you all to think I'm spoiled or anything *wink wink*).

So, back to that summer, 2001...Hubby's family was getting together for a 'family camp' at his grandparent's house in northern Iowa. He had driven all night from his home in Ohio to join his family for a few days, and he stopped to pick me up at my eastern Iowa home on the way. We were so glad to see each other in the middle of a difficult summer apart. However, he was completely exhausted by the time we got to his grandparents house. I encouraged him to go take a nap, but first he wanted to take a ride on his grandpa's golf cart around the countryside and exchange the gifts we had brought for each other. We used to exchange little gifts for our 'month-iversaries' of dating. Weren't we just so unbearably cute?

So he went and got the golf cart, and pulled his gift for me out of the trunk. It was a huge box. I was a little embarassed because my gift for him was in a little tiny box. I don't remember exactly what my gift was. Maybe a t-shirt? I think there was definitely a Broncos mini-koosh ball involved. Anyhoo, we rode down to the creek in the golf cart and exchanged gifts. He opened his first, and was appropriately pleased, I'm sure.

Then I opened mine. Let me preface this gift by saying that I LOVED (and still do love) Winnie the Pooh. Having said that, my gift was a huge stuffed Pooh bear that talked. It was holding a green velvety ring box, which I got all excited about. I opened the ring box, and inside was a key ring and a smiley face sticker. I was not thrilled. Note to any guys who may be reading: when your girlfriend REALLY wants to be engaged, it is NOT a fun joke to pretend to propose to her. Not funny. Okay? Now that we've got that settled...

Thankfully, I was not too grouchy about the joke, though, because next we noticed that Pooh wasn't talking like he was supposed to. So Hubby said, "Let's turn it over & look where the batteries go in. Maybe that will help." So we did. And inside the battery compartment was a beautiful gold-wrapped box that actually contained MY ring. And Hubby got down on one knee in the mud next to the golf cart and asked me to marry him. Through tears of joy, I agreed. Although I suppose you could've inferred that from the fact that I refer to him as 'hubby'.

So, yes, I got engaged on a golf cart, holding a large Winnie-the-Pooh while my hubby knelt in the mud to propose to me. When you put it that way, I guess it doesn't sound very romantic- but I suppose you would just have to know me. :) It was truly a moment to remember for the rest of our lives.

A few weeks ago, we should've celebrated nine years of being together- dating, engaged, married, what have you all combined. Except we both totally forgot about it and just realized it the other day. So happy belated nine years together, hubby! :) And hope we will celebrate MANY more in the future! I love you! :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chocolate Idols

Last night at church, our pastor made some comments about idol worship. The fact is that when we put anything ahead of Christ in our priorities, our life, our preferences, that thing is an idol. When we have a problem, and we turn to anything other than Christ for help and fulfillment, that thing is an idol.

I don't talk much about my weight struggle. It's pretty obvious to all who know me in person that I HAVE a weight struggle, but it's a pretty personal thing. Let me just say that part of my problem is that I am an emotional eater. Something happens to make me grouchy or tired, and the first thought that enters my mind is, "Do I have any chocolate/ice cream?" and "If so, where, and how much?".

Lately one of my major stressors is Little Z's teething. On days when he's teething, he's grouchy, and whiny, and sometimes melts down into screaming fits, and I just feel like I can't take it! And, of course, my first thought when this happens is 'CHOCOLATE'. Not to get down on my knees and ask God for an enormous dose of patience and wisdom. But chocolate. And so, in this instance, I am putting chocolate above God as an idol. And God is gently showing me that I need to choose instead to use food only as fuel for my body, not as an emotional band-aid.

God puts circumstances in our lives for a reason. Z's teething fits are a part of my life for a REASON. It's not because God wants to punish me or drive me insane, it's so that I can grow. Without difficult circumstances forcing me to examine the way I react to stress, and CHANGE that reaction by depending on God alone, there can be no growth.

So, wow, God, never thought I'd say this, but "Thanks for teething".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Weekly Plan

Today's tip is about organizing housework in a way that works for me.



Lately, I've been going through a phase where everything in my life is overwhelming to me- work, housework, keeping in touch with family and friends, tweaking baby's schedule for the beginnings of weaning... somehow emotionally (and probably hormonally), I've just been feeling a little bit overwhelmed. So last week, one day I finally decided to sit down and do something about it- to get organized...at least in the housework area... :)



Before I had Z, I used http://www.flylady.net/ as a jumping-off point for organizing my housecleaning. This website is very helpful, but very detailed. Just the thought of getting back into it was overwhelming me. But finally, I had to do something. So I just sat down and made a list of all of the chores that need to be done each week, and then organized them into lists of what I should do each day. Following is an example of my weekly plan:



Monday: Relax with hubby (Monday is his day off)

Stay caught up on dishes & laundry

Water Plant

Tuesday: Microwave

Fridge & Freezer

Vacuum

Clean Both Bathrooms

Wednesday: Weight Loss Group

Store, Library & Post Office Errands

Thursday: Sweep All Floors

Wipe Kitchen Floor

Thank You Notes

Wash Sheets/Towels

Friday: Dust

Cobweb

Wipe Down Bathrooms

Scrub Tub



Every day I do dishes, laundry, and sweep the floors, in addition to my daily cleaning. I take Saturday off, since I'm usually working at camp all day, and Sunday off for church, and Monday pretty much off because of my hubby's day off being Monday. Wednesday morning is always crazy, getting ready to go to weight-loss group, and I work in the afternoons, so Wednesday is sort of a 'buffer day' that I can use to get extra cleaning done if I end up having time.



I was dreading getting back into a schedule, because then I'd be bound to it & feel guilty if I didn't get it done, but I'm actually finding that it's easier for me now that I have a schedule. Because if one week, I don't have time to dust on Friday, I know it'll get done the next Friday for sure, or I use my weekend as a buffer zone to get it all finished.



Before I had a schedule, I just had this impending sense of doom, a cloud hanging over me saying, "your house is dirty...when was the last time you dusted/scrubbed the tub/etc....do you even know?" And now I do! :) So I guess having a housework schedule works for me!


Head on over to Shannon's place to see some more Works-for-me-Wednesday tips!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Style Watch

Oh, yes the 80's have returned.

Did any of you have one of these little numbers when you were in junior high?

Why, oh, why, did I ever give my HyperColor t-shirt to Goodwill???

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Gift of Color

When I take time to praise God for all He has blessed me with, I start with the things I need that He unfailingly provides for me and my family. And then I move on to the things that I don't need but He continuously lavishes on me. I love to gaze at beautiful landscapes and intricate details of creation and praise Him for the beauty He surrounds me with. You know, He didn't have to.

He could've made this whole world in black and white. Can you imagine being surrounded each day by shades of gray? Dark gray grass. Light gray sky. Really- pause and try to imagine it- I bet you can't. I know I truly can't. No lush green meadows dotted with bright yellow dandelions and buttercups. No neighbor's flower beds bright with gladiolus in every color of the rainbow. No vibrant leaves blanketing the rolling hills each fall.

Instead, our creative and loving God chose to make His world unbelievably beautiful, decorated in more shades and hues than our finite minds can comprehend. He sculpted purple mountain majesties, and formed amber waves of grain. He mixed the emerald oceans and scattered smooth taupe sands in the deserts. He attached fragile, elaborately decorated wings to butterflies' backs, and then tossed flowers of every shape, size, and color imaginable onto hillsides and even hid some deep in the crevices of jagged rocks.

And all of this beauty was made with us in mind. God created man, and then instructed us to enjoy His bountiful creation. He blesses us beyond anything we could even imagine and daily loads us with much more than we deserve. Each detail of His creation points to Him alone, and the purpose of this world and all of its beauty is to teach us about Him. When I see the gorgeous colors He has created, it reminds me that God is a creative, artistic God. He doesn't just give us the essentials that we need for everyday life, but instead lavishes numerous blessings on us, in order for us to enjoy them abundantly.


This post was written for Scribbit's September Write Away Contest.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Crying to Sleep Works for Me

Well, not me. My baby.


This is a fairly controversial topic, I know. If Dr. Sears and his 'attachment parenting' philosophies were to read this post, he would probably disapprove. But I'm going to go out on the proverbial limb here and say that it is GOOD for babies to cry themselves to sleep. Not FUN for the mommy. But GOOD. Just like vegetables. Let me tell you about my recent learning experience with letting my son (now nine months old) cry himself to sleep. Keep in mind that every baby is different, and since I only have one so far, this whole idea is based on my single just-nine-month experience in baby-rearing.


After I had Z, we had help here for the first two and a half weeks or so. My parents were here for a week, and then Hubby's parents were here for a little over a week. It was wonderful. I got sleep, and baths, and food prepared for me, and Z got held & loved on constantly. He was hardly ever allowed to cry for more than 30 seconds without being picked up. I actually didn't know that babies have to learn to lay by themselves sometimes, and I thought that parents were supposed to pick them up anytime they made a peep. Anyway, after our parents left, I was trying to hold Z constantly, and get things done around the house, and get some sleep occasionally...and I was exhausted and totally overwhelmed. Of course, that's normal for those first couple months, but really. It was terrible. At night, Hubby and I would take shifts. Z would eat, then he would get changed, and then he would need to be held until he drifted off to sleep. Sometimes he needed to be held for between twenty minutes and an hour. And then, if you THOUGHT he was all the way asleep, but he really wasn't quite ALL the way out, when you put him down in his car seat (where he slept for about the first seven weeks of his life), he would wake up and cry, and then you had to start ALL over again with the sitting and holding and waiting and watching his eyelids to see if they were still twitching.


So, at his one-month appointment, we asked the doctor about putting him down in his bed and letting him cry himself to sleep. And our doctor said that we should start that sooner rather than later. But then we went on vacation to see our families, and by the time we got home, he was about 6 weeks old. So we started putting him down in his bed. And letting him cry himself to sleep. For about two nights, it was pure torture (for all of us). We used the Ferber Method, where you go in every few minutes to check on them and let them know you're still there. At some point during these two days, we read somewhere that sometimes babies like to have their crib mattresses elevated, so we put some books under one end of the mattress, and that night, there was hardly any crying. He woke up in the night, ate, and then we would put him back down and he would cry a little and then go back to sleep. It was wonderful. Best thing we ever did.


THEN. A few weeks later, he started screaming, refusing to eat, waking in the night screaming...etc. The dr. said he had acid reflux, so we put him on Prevacid. Two weeks later, it hadn't worked. I remember one night in particular, he was up every half hour. All night. Hubby & I took turns sleeping on his floor, so we could just get up and put his binky back in when he cried. Two more weeks later, after that much time on Axid, he was doing MUCH better. But he was still crying at night. Hmmm...maybe because now he was used to us going to him at his first peep again??? So since we knew he wasn't in pain anymore, we decided to start letting him cry to sleep (and cry back to sleep) once again. And again, within two nights, he was back to being put down, crying for just a couple of minutes, and drifting off to sleep on his own. Shortly after this (around the time he turned four months old), he started sleeping through the night, and other than a few nights here and there (maybe one every two weeks or so) and when he's sick, he still routinely sleeps through the night. Now he is so good at putting himself to sleep that he hardly ever even cries. He just plays in his bed for a few minutes, and then all of a sudden, all is quiet, and he's asleep.


To hear him cry, even for a few minutes before a nap, is still hard, but for us, it's just so necessary. Now he knows how to put himself to sleep (and back to sleep in the middle of the night), which is an important skill. And I think he sleeps better because of it. And I know Hubby and I do.


I know everyone has their own opinions and perspectives about this issue, but for us, We just have to let our baby cry himself to sleep, because it works for us! Make sure to check out other Works-for-Me-Wednesday tips over at Shannon's place!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Ministry

In the last nine months, and even the nine months before that, my ministry has changed dramatically. Before I was pregnant, I poured all of myself- my time, my energy, my life- into camp- weekend retreats, summer camp, and anything in between that needed to be done.

Now, I have a little person depending on me to get him his food, naps, baths, diaper changes, and everything else on a schedule that keeps him secure and happy. I'm still able to help out at camp, working in the office, and assisting with the kitchen during retreats, but not nearly as faithfully as I was once able to.

Tonight, for example, I sat feeding little Z his chicken/squash/cereal delight while everyone else ran around frantically plating brownies, cooking pizzas, and setting out salad bar items. And I regretted not being able to do as much as I'd like to help out.

But as I sat there, being covered in a fine mist of cereal and squash, I realized that my most important ministry of all is to this two-foot-tall little fountain of pureed food (and his daddy). When my two ministries cooperate, and I can wear Z on my back while serving pizza for dinner, that's great. But when these worlds collide, Z has to come first. And I pray that I will never feel guilty or regretful about that.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bottle Strike! Help!

My son is a picky eater. Well, only as far as milk goes. He will eat any kind of cereal, fruit or vegetables I throw at him. Not that I throw things at him...but I digress...

He's 8 months old. He'll be 9 months on Friday.

When he was first born, he would only eat from a bottle. He wouldn't nurse for six weeks. But I hung in there, reviewing the costly nature of formula and all the arguments for mother's milk in my mind every day...and pumped (and pumped and pumped) and finally, at six weeks old, he decided that it would be okay to nurse.

So then everything was grand for a few months...he would take a bottle if I wasn't there, I could leave him in the nursery or with a babysitter, and if I was home, he would nurse, and it just worked out perfectly.

And then this summer, we got busy with camp, and I just nursed him, and didn't think about giving him a bottle because I was always with him... and then all of a sudden, he's 8 months old, and he will NOT take a bottle. Or a sippy cup of mother's milk. I can get him to drink about an ounce of formula out of a sippy cup, but he thinks it's gross, and that wouldn't be enough to keep him happy with a sitter for a few hours anyway.

So...does anyone have ANY tips on getting him to take a sippy cup or bottle? It's not a big deal to just nurse him most of the time, but I would like to start weaning him off of a couple of his nursings here in the next couple of months...and if he won't take milk from a sippy cup or bottle, I won't be able to do that! Help!!! :)

To see the dilemmas that other people are asking for help with, head on over to Shannon's place for the Dilemma edition of Works for Me Wednesday.

Edited To Add (4/09): I notice a lot of people are finding this post through Google searches, and if you're here looking for help, please read the comments - there are SO many great tips there! If you've already tried everything, and your child will NOT take a bottle...well, what ended up working for us is that I just stopped trying with the bottle/sippy cup & nursed him exclusively, until I started introducing whole milk along with the nursing, at 11 months, weaning him at 12 months. I know 6 months sounds like a long time to never be away from your little one, but, oh, it goes SO fast. I look back now & wish I'd even nursed longer. :) So hang in there, moms, and SOMETHING will work out. :)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day! :)

In honor of Labor Day, Shannon is hosting a little carnival about labor! :) If you want to play along, just head on over to her post and join up!

How long was your labor?

22 hours total, about 15.5 hours active.


How did you know you were in labor?

I didn't. I thought my water had broken, headed to the hospital, they said it hadn't, but when they were checking me out, my blood pressure dropped & little Z's heart rate dropped, and they had to give me oxygen, and so they kept us overnight in the hospital. At 3 am, I noticed I was having little contractions every 10 or so minutes, and at 4 am, my water broke.

Where did you deliver?

In the afore-mentioned hospital.

Drugs?

Oh, yes. I wanted a natural (med-free) childbirth, but after pitocin, and several hours of back labor, I asked for Nubain, got it, it helped for a while, then wore off...and then I asked for an epidural. More than an HOUR (and several complaints through gritted teeth from me to Joel) later, it finally arrived.


C-section?

Thankfully, no. Because Z's little heart rate dropped at two different times, they had me all prepped just in case he couldn't withstand the contrations, but he made it through just fine.

We actually didn't realize how close I was to having a C, until after Z was born, Hubby went to get him from the nursery & heard one of the workers say, "Oh, that's the one that almost had to have a C-section."

Who delivered?

Dr. So.


Friday, August 15, 2008

First Kiss

Dearest Z,

The first time I kissed you, I was exhausted. I was sweaty. I was in pain. You were red, and screaming, and covered in nastiness. You were wrapped in a blanket, and the nurse lifted you to my face so that I could meet you and kiss you before you had to get dried off.

We have a video of this momentous first kiss. However, it's not 'share-able' because in the background you can very nearly see my doctor and several nurses working diligently to repair the damage to my baby-delivering region. But I enjoy watching it over and over and just remembering that amazing moment. As the nurse brought you to my sweaty, tear-filled face, I kissed your forehead and said in a wobbly voice, as the nurse began to lift you away, "Oh, Zachary, I love you so much". And I do.

I have kissed you hundreds of times in the eight months since that video was taken. And each time, I drink in the scent of your baby shampoo and nuzzle my nose in your silky white-blond hair and the soft smooth skin of your neck, and I thank God that He entrusted you to us. And that He allows me to have the privelege of being your mommy each day. What a blessing you are to us, little Z! Your daddy and I are so thankful for you, and we love you so much!

Love,

Mommy :)

This post was written for Scribbit's August contest entitled 'First Kiss'.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Linky Goodness

Want to read something profound, moving, and so true? Then why did you come here? :) No, seriously, head on over to this post on Shannon's blog, and enjoy. :)




Sunday, August 10, 2008

Seasons Change

Here in western New York state, especially in our snowy little valley, our seasons are a little bit messed up. Summer lasts only from the end of June to the middle of August, and then fall hits. Even now, some trees and bushes' leaves are starting to turn in anticipation of the upcoming fall season. Fall will last until the middle of October, and then the snow will begin, usually in the end of October or beginning of November. Although fall is a gorgeous season in these foothills, it is a little bittersweet, because it reminds us that the snows are coming. We can usually count on having snow from November through the middle of March. And then in the beginning of April, spring slowly blossoms and lasts through June.


Last year, the fall was a season filled with anticipation as I was GREAT with child, and resembled a pumpkin ripe for the picking. The winter began with a bang as our little Z entered our lives December 5th, and then I went through a dark, shadowy time of exhaustion and overwhelmed-ness, feeling my way through the first weeks and months of parenting. I usually don't mind the snow, but being shut in the house with an often-screaming newborn was a difficult experience. And then, slowly, as spring always comes, an attitude of joy and peace began to blossom in my heart and, subsequently, in our home. I emerged from the fog of exhaustion and self-pity and chose to enjoy my little man. And this spring and summer have truly been a time of joy and love and fun for our family. Although we have been busy with summer camp, we have found joy in each moment.


And now I see the leaves beginning to change, and it is bittersweet for me, because every day brings me closer to my little boy's first birthday. When he won't be a baby anymore, but a toddler. While I am looking forward to the changes that I will surely see in my little man throughout this fall and winter (crawling, walking, running, talking, eating real food, etc.), it reminds me that the time goes all too fast. And it is teaching me that when God gives us a 'next time', I will vow to cherish every moment. Every 3am feeding. Every screaming fit that can only be calmed by walking up and down the hallway, singing 'Amazing Grace' until my throat is hoarse. Every tiny smile and every squeaky giggle.



I love you, little man. More every day.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Don't Poke the Baby!!!

This week was our first week of junior/junior high age kids at camp (going into 3rd grade-8th grade). I was definitely not prepared for the kids reaction to my baby. Up until now, we've had families & senior highers. Who thought Z was cute, but they also knew or had been taught the appropriate way to adore a baby. And not poke him.

Oh, yes, my little man has been poked, prodded, kissed, generally adored, and called all kinds of things this week. Yesterday afternoon, one little girl tried to stick her finger in his mouth to see his teeth. Thankfully, I got him away in time!

One evening, as I was leaving with Z in his stroller, a girls' cabin group was all gathered around him, oohing, aahing, poking, adoring...and one of the girls said "Oh, his fuzzy blond hair is so cute. He looks like a fuzzy monkey. Hey, widdle fuzzy monkey..." At which point all the rest of the girls looked at me to see if I would be mad that this girl just called my baby a monkey. I wasn't. It's better than him being called 'It', which also happened this week. "Oh, look at the baby. It's so cute. It's looking at me." It? Really?

There were also a couple little boys that would come up to me at random intervals during the week and say, "Whoa. That's a BIG baby. How old is he?" It was so funny. Like how little are babies supposed to be? I mean, come on, he's at like the 30th percentile for height AND weight, people! I can't keep him any littler! :)

I took him 'swimming' in the pond for the first time this week. It did not go swimmingly. Pardon the pun. Every time his feet would touch the (admittedly) cold water, he would cry. So then these two boys decided he just needed to be splashed. He did not appreciate the sentiment. And he cried. Every time they splashed him. So they finally stopped and decided to dance around and see if their antics would amuse him. They did not. We finally left after about 20 minutes of me standing in the water, holding him, and Z holding his feet up OUT of the water. Fun times. Maybe next year. (sigh)

So, I don't want to be rude to the campers, but really, do I say something, like, "Um, it's not really polite to poke someone else's baby..."? Or am I just being paranoid because, hello, 'first-time mom syndrome' and all. What would YOU do???

Monday, July 7, 2008

Summertime

When you work and live in the camping ministry, your summers don't consist of lazy days lounging by the pool or relaxing in air-conditioned comfort. You don't get July 4th off to enjoy picnics with friends or fireworks by the lake. I admit, sometimes I'm just a wee bit envious of people who get to spend their summers with their families this way. But I'm not complaining...because our summer is made up of...

the sound of kids laughing and joking together as they head back to their cabins

the smell and crackle of the campfire as kids and families alike share how their lives have been changed over the last five days

afternoons at the pond, watching people get launched off of the Blob and listening to kids shout or scream as they come down the waterslide

the sound of voices being lifted up together to praise God in the chapel

three deliciously home-cooked meals per day, personally delivered by none other than my heroes, the Kitchen Staff.

uproarious laughter following some pretty dumb jokes or stunts (especially during junior high weeks)

sixteen-hour work days for some of the staff (twenty-four hour days for the counselors!)

tears at the amazing ways God works in campers' lives each week, as they get up in front of everyone on Saturday morning and make a public commitment to live for God

competitive shouts echoing across the camp as the kids play frequent camp games

hours of quality time with the t-shirt press (thankfully, I have an assistant this year- you're awesome, Jill!!)

the inevitable homesick campers

a sense of purpose as we realize we're fulfilling the ministry God has given us each day

relief as an exhausting summer camp season draws to a close

sadness as our fellow staff members, who we have grown closer to than we could have ever imagined, take off to lead their own separate lives again

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Most UN-Scientific Recipe Ever

Warning: if you are methodical, or like to know the exact amounts of ingredients to put in your recipes, you will probably get disgusted with the way I am sharing this recipe. If you are like me and just like to throw things together by look and taste (probably also the kind of person who gets somewhere by landmarks rather than by road signs), forge ahead and enjoy!


Chicken with Stewed Tomatoes & Mushrooms


This recipe sounds wierd, but is actually delicious. Think chicken with spaghetti sauce...sort of...but chunkier. I suppose this recipe is probably only going to be enjoyed by people who like tomatoes & mushrooms. But we love it, and it's SO easy. And it's so versatile- if you can find chicken, any kind of tomatoes & mushrooms in your cupboards (well, hopefully the chicken's in the fridge), you can make this recipe.



Ingredients- Oil, Chicken, Stewed Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Italian Seasoning (sometimes).



Incredibly Ambiguous & Possibly Confusing Directions:


Put some oil in your skillet. (Such scientific measurements, I know)


Brown your chicken (I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but you could use diced chicken or whatever you like) Anyway- brown it in the oil for 5 minutes per side, or until the meat is white on the outside with some browning on each side.


Then add some stewed tomatoes. I stew & can my own with oregano & garlic salt, but the store-canned version should work just fine, too, although you may want to add some extra Italian seasoning, especially if you only have un-seasoned tomatoes on hand. Fresh tomatoes will work, too, if you add Italian seasoning and a little extra water, and just make sure you simmer them in the pan until they're soft.


At this point, also add your can of mushrooms. (I use one can for three chicken breasts.) As far as the amount of chicken & mushrooms you use, it just depends how many you want to have left to eat with your chicken, or if you want to put them on rice on the side.


After you've added your tomatoes & mushrooms, put a lid on your skillet, and let it simmer on medium-high heat for about 20 minutes. Check it every few minutes, to flip the chicken so it gets done all the way through, and also to make sure your stewed tomatoes aren't losing all their water- you may need to add water if this happens.


When your chicken's done all the way through, your recipe's done! I like to serve this with a baked or mashed potato, or with rice. If you try this recipe, let me know how it turns out! Need an easy recipe with five ingredients or less? Check out Shannon's place for more great ideas that work for us!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Scaredy-Kid

My little almost-seven-month-old, Z, has started to be scared of SO many things! Of course, he's entering that delightful developmental stage known as 'stranger anxiety', so he's wary of most anybody who's not me or Daddy. Our summer staff counselors came this week, and he's pretty much scared of most of them. But he's starting to get to know and even enjoy my office assistant and a couple of the cooks- they come into the office to play with him quite often during their breaks. :)

Loud noises are another new phobia of his. Almost any loud-ish noise will make him cry. First it was the blender (not good, since I make my own baby food and have to use the blender several times a week for this). Then it was the vacuum. More recent scary noises include: other babies crying, my doctor coughing during my appointment, sneezes, sometimes burps (if they're loud enough), and even loud laughs.

There is one particular camp counselor who REALLY wants Z to like him. In fact, he said that's his goal for the summer- 'to get the baby to like me'. But every time he walks by us, Z gives him this look, like, "oh, great, what are you going to do to me this time". The counselor tries to talk to Z, and smile at him, but every time Z ends up crying. He's just really scared of him for some reason! The counselor does have a kind of loud laugh, but so do some other people I know (not mentioning any names at this time) and he doesn't seem to have a problem with, uh, 'them'.

One other phobia of Z's is...

(hold on to your children)....

(you may want to avert your eyes)...

(the fright is overwhelming)...



Bubbles.



Oh, the frightening combination of soap and water that makes little bubbles float around in the air. I know. Terrifying, isn't it? I actually bought him a little bottle of bubbles this week at Wal-Mart, because he's liked them in the past. And then I may have scarred him for life. I was blowing the bubbles towards him, and one of the scary little orbs flew straight for his chin and- horror of horrors- popped there! He just kind of stared, wide-eyed, as the bubble approached, and then started wailing as soon as it popped. Now every time I blow bubbles (aiming them away from him, of course), he stares at them with a fearful look on his face, backs away, and soon melts into tears again. So there goes that fun summertime activity. It's more like torture, apparently.

And I really hope all this scaredy-ness is just a phase.

Because Daddy's not really going to be into raising 'wimpy' kids! :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

You Found Me (somehow)

Recently, my blog has been found when people googled many different phrases. Including, but not limited to:

"pregnant fear of needles pass out" - well, yes. I was pregnant. And I did pass out. When having blood drawn. I suppose I do have a fear of needles.

"scrapers to clean countertops" - Oh, yes, I know about scrapers. Quite useful.

"chipmunk day" - not sure if this is a national holiday somewhere...?

"dead chipmunk on porch" - oh, dead chipmunks, you say? Well, I do know a little something about that, I guess.

"elizabeth prentiss quotation" - Here is my favorite- and what a sweet, sweet quote it is! I hope to read the book soon!!!

"carrie and paul finally had their baby" - oh, well, thank you for letting me know. I guess I should have sent a card.

"praise for Mom on Mother's Day" - Yes, yes, I'm sure any mom would appreciate praise on Mother's Day. Or any day really. Especially when her baby's been screaming for half an hour just because he wants to...two evenings in a row...not that that's happened recently to anyone I know...but if it does, I'll be sure to let you know. I'm just saying. Praise is always appreciated.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summer Fun






Clearly, I am just slightly insane.


Because this is my idea of fun. Strip a baby down to his diaper, give him a pile of rice cereal on his highchair tray and a spoon, and take pictures of his reactions.




So what do you do for fun??? :)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

on my mind

This morning, I have just had my friend Andrew and his wife Denise on my mind. She was 30 weeks pregnant, and in the last couple of weeks, she has had some complications, gone to the emergency room a couple times... well, I found out this morning that they were going to do an emergency C-section today, so I have been praying for them all morning.

I just found out that she had her C-section, and their baby boy, Parker James, arrived this morning! He is on oxygen, but Andrew says the dr.'s are pleased with how he's doing so far. 10 weeks is a long time to be early, so please pray for them if you think of it. She will be in the hospital for a week, and they have been told that Parker may have to be in NICU for two months! I know that God is amazing, and He has a perfect plan for their family, so let's lift them up to Him today!

**UPDATED TO ADD** Parker was 2 lbs, 3 oz- I can't imagine how tiny that is!! Pictures can be found at http://gallery.mac.com/andrew.northern

Friday, May 23, 2008

Where Neighbors Are Friends

That's the slogan of the retirement community where I used to work. I worked in the kitchen in the assisted living bulding. I quit about a year ago. In June. The twelfth, I think. Not that I was counting down the days or anything...but 5:30 am comes pretty early when the only things you can stomach before noon are peanut butter Ritz Bits, yogurt, canned tropical fruit mix, 2%milk, and coleslaw. Yes, coleslaw. And of course, peppermints. A morning-sickness lifesaver!

Anyhoo...every time I see this slogan, it makes me laugh out loud. It makes me think of Helen. Helen was this grouchy old lady who didn't really like anyone, staff or residents. She particularly disliked one of her 'neighbors' down the hall. This sweet old man was mostly deaf and in a wheelchair. Somehow she and he got seated at the same dining room table every day. When she came down for breakfast, she would give him a disapproving look, then scowl at me and say something like, "That man is just rude. He lives in my hall. Well, when I come out of my room, I look around the hall first. And if I see him coming, well, I just don't have to leave yet. So I just go back into my room and close the door until he goes on by." Typically, we would just put one little mini-pitcher of half-and-half on each table, but on their table, we had to put two little pitchers, one at each of their places, because they would get in fights if they had to ask the other one to pass the creamer. One day they were arguing about who was older. One was 92, the other was 93. How do you argue about who's older? It's kind of a fact, isn't it???

So, while the slogan, "Where Neighbors Are Friends" may have applied to most of the residents, Helen kind of blew the whole thing out of the water.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Eavesdropping

Overheard just now from the baby room, where Hubby is changing baby's diaper:

"How can something so stinky come out of someone so small?"

and also:

"Why do they put so many snaps on your little outfit? Have you ever wondered that?"

and squeaky little baby giggles :) which make my day. :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Well, I was going to write some witty and profound post about Mother's Day, based on my limited experience in the field...but then Antique Mommy said it much better than I ever could have: click here to read what she had to say- it's so true! My favorite little quote from her post is this: "Motherhood is often draining, exasperating, annoying, unsatisfying, and almost always smelly. It is also true that there is nothing else you have ever done in your life that you would describe in those terms, yet quickly add, "But I love it! It is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me!" " Such a great post! :)

So, in honor of Mother's Day, check out some of the great Mommy bloggers on my sidebar! I would have to say that Antique Mommy is my favorite blogger...funny sometimes, poignant sometimes, but always well-written. Second, I would pick Fiddledeedee at It Could'a Been Worse...and thirdly, lately, I've really gotten into One Thing, I think mostly because her life is so interesting- she has twelve children, the oldest is getting married, the youngest is about a month old!! And of course, Big Mama and BooMama are classics! :) So enjoy, because they say most everything better than I can! :)

Also, speaking of mothers, my parents are here this weekend, and my sister, so we're all going to be celebrating Mother's Day together tomorrow! :) Hubby says that Z has a present for me, and he keeps telling Z not to tell me- so far he hasn't. :)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Contentment

This weekend is our annual "Hobby Weekend" up at camp- we have quilters and scrapbookers come to camp to craft & fellowship, and it's so much fun. The last 2 years I've been able to attend the retreat, and also be the hostess for it, but this year, with little Z, I've just been hostessing some & chatting with the ladies some, and not scrapbooking at all. But I did give a devotional on Thursday, which kind of outlines some of the struggles I've gone through since little Z has been born...so I thought I'd share it with you! Here goes:

None of us will ever be content with what we HAVE. Contentment is possible, regardless of what we have or don’t have. I’m going to tell you a little bit about the journey that God has taken me on to teach me about contentment.

I have struggled with contentment many times in my life. When I was in college, I thought I would be content if only I was married. Then I got married, and while it’s wonderful, it didn’t make me content. When we were first married, we lived in a trailer, and I thought, “If I only had a house, then I would be content”. We moved into a beautiful house after about a year and a half of marriage, and guess what? It didn’t make me content. Then Joel lost his job, and we lived in a tiny apartment, and while we were living there, God really dealt with me and grew and changed me, and I learned a lot about contentment, and I thought I had it ‘down pat’ by the time we moved here. But there was still one thing I didn’t have. A baby. I WANTED a baby. I NEEDED a baby. If only I had a BABY, my life would be perfect and complete. THEN I would be content. We prayed for a baby. We tried for a baby. We waited for a baby. I cried like a baby every month when the test was negative. And then, one day last spring, I found out that I was FINALLY expecting a baby! Joel and I were on top of the world! The pregnancy and delivery went smoothly, and nine months later, on December 5th, little Z joined our family!

And finally my life was complete and every second of every day has been smooth sailing ever since. Right? Of course not. Those of you who have had newborn babies surely remember what it’s like those first few weeks- the lack of sleep, the seemingly constant crying (both baby and Mommy some days), the hormonal imbalances, the feeling of complete incompetence at being a new parent… I was miserable. Here I was, at a time when I should have been enjoying this wonderful tiny blessing, and all I could do was cry and complain. I was totally focused on myself- the sleep I was missing, the time that I was stuck at home with a screaming baby, when would my life be ‘normal’ again? Ever since I was young, my only dream and desire in life has been to be a stay-at-home mom. I never wanted a career or fame and fortune, only to get married, have babies and stay home to raise them. And I definitely wanted Z- we waited for him for so long. So I expected the transition to motherhood to be easy for me, and I expected to just automatically enjoy every minute of it. One day, when little Z was a few weeks old, I was having a particularly rotten attitude, and Joel called me on it. I thought about the things he had said for the rest of the day, and I realized that when I was focused on myself, I wasn’t loving Z, and I wasn’t pleasing God.

I spent a lot of time in prayer, and started striving to use every difficult moment as an opportunity to praise God and to love my son. I began to choose to trust God to give me rest when I truly needed it, and to give me and Joel wisdom about how to raise our son. And when I changed my attitude, things got a whole lot better! I started to truly enjoy each moment with my son, and I was able to handle the crying and the night feedings much better. I have had to depend on God all the time during this transition, but now I feel like God has finally brought me to a point where I can truly say, “I love being a mom. I love what I do, staying at home with my son. I am truly content in where I am and who I am and what I am doing.” Some days (and nights) are still better than others, but through God’s strength & His patience, I am choosing to love my son, and to love being a mom. Of course, as soon as I think I have this figured out, I’m sure God will find something else to work on!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that contentment is all about three things: First of all, your perspective. 1 Corinthians 15:28 says that God is all in all. When God’s plan for us is our focus, we can be truly content in where He has us right now, because we know that He has a future and a hope for us. (Jeremiah 29:11) Secondly, we have to adjust our priorities. If my top priority is getting what I want instead of doing what God wants, I won’t be content, and I won’t be glorifying God. But if God’s plan is my top priority, then everything I need will be added unto me. (Mt. 6:33). Finally, we have to depend on God’s power in order to be content- we can’t do it ourselves! Phil. 4:11-13 shows us how Paul depended on God to help him be content in every situation:

"I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

As we submit our lives to Christ and His will for us, we will begin to become content. We need to forget about what we have or don’t have, and focus totally on who we are and what we have in Christ. Then we can be truly content.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Live-Blogging?

Yesterday, I had this idea. I was thinking of 'live-blogging' for a couple days. Sort of a 'day in the life' kind of thing, just blogging about what's going on with me that day, checking in with the interpeeps when I walk by the computer...

But. Then I realized how utterly boring that would be for all the readers involved. Considering that the big excitement for this morning was a semi parked on the country road outside our house. The semi driver even came to the house, I figured he was lost & wanted directions, but actually he had a delivery for the camp. So there you go. The most exciting part of my morning was someone making a delivery to camp. I tried to feed Zachary his cereal, but he wouldn't eat it for some reason. Later this morning, he ate and had a dirty diaper. Also, I cleaned the bathrooms and washed the dishes. And worked on my devotional for Hobby Weekend, which is coming up next week.

So after sharing my riveting morning with you all, I think you'll understand why I decided to forego the 'live-blogging' of my day, and instead bore you every few days with the 'more exciting' tidbits of my life.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

WFMW: Pot Scrapers

Works-For-Me-Wednesday:

Here is a tool that I use all the time in my kitchen.

It is a garden variety, plastic pot scraper. (On my ivy tablecloth. You're welcome for the expert photography.) You can purchase them at all kinds of different stores, mine I found for about 50 cents at a local Amish 'variety store'. They're also sold with the Pampered Chef stones, as the recommended tool of use for cleaning stoneware. I use it for all kinds of different things.

1) The first thing that I use it for, surprise of surprises, is scraping dishes. It works great for skillets with burned on eggs, burnt on cheese on pizza pans, (anyone noticing a pattern here??? ...no wonder my husband is always saying, "I'll make dinner, you just feed the baby") and melted cheese on plates. And of course I use it to scrape the aforementioned Pampered Chef stoneware, since I use my pizza stone at least once a week.
2) Another thing that I use the scraper for is scraping my sink out... If someone happens to drop some cheese in the sink or something else gets stuck to it, just a quick swipe with the scraper gets rid of it- and since it's plastic, it won't scratch it like a knife would.
3) I think the best use for the pot scraper is to clean off the counter after you make biscuits, cinnamon rolls, or any other kind of dough. You know if you use a wet washcloth or a green scratchy pad to clean your floury, doughy counter, all you get is a bunch of goop all over your counter and you have to keep wiping it over and over. Well, when I get done making biscuits, I just grab the pot scraper, scrape all the remaining dough & flour into a pile, and throw it in the garbage, then wipe off the counter with the wet washcloth. This works really well for laminate countertops & also wood butcher block countertops. I would say the pot scraper is probably the easiest way to clean wood butcher block countertops overall.
Well, I hope all this rambling has been useful to somebody! Head on over to Shannon's place for more Works-for-Me-Wednesday tips!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Quote for Mommies

I found this sweet quote on the website of a lady who's having her twelfth child today. Yes, I said TWELVE. Wow. Anyway...this is a really neat quote to remind us mommies about our God-given purpose in mothering!

Here is another sweet, fragrant mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about in my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God, and the body in which it dwells is worth all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister in Christ's name, I make a willing sacrifice of what leisure for my own recreation my other darlings have left me. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother's heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, to her life-long prayers! Oh, how rich I am, how truly, how wonderfully blest!

-Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward

I also love the MOPS slogan- Because Mothering Matters. Sometimes when you feel like all you're doing is feeding, diapering & clothing someone...you can feel like that's not as important as a teacher who fills children's minds with knowledge...but it is. It is the beginning of one of the most important influences on that baby's life...and I need to remember that when I'm tempted to be impatient or frustrated! :) Hope this encourages someone today!

Kisses

Time goes SOOO fast around here! I told Joel today, it seems like just a couple weeks ago that Zachary was tiny and screaming all the time, and refusing to eat, and not sleeping at night....and now he's such a big, sweet boy. He has slept through the night FOUR times this week! :) YAY! And all the people said, Amen. He sleeps from about 9:00 or 9:30 pm to 6:30 or 7 am, so that is wonderful. He is just such a happy boy, too. He loves for someone to be there playing with him as often as possible, and he responds to Peek-a-boo now, and giggles at me sometimes when I tell him he's a silly boy or talk in a silly voice. :)

Yesterday Joel called from town and I couldn't get to the phone in time because I was nursing Zachary, but when Zachary heard Joel's voice on the answering machine, he popped right off, and looked around to see where Daddy was! He loves his daddy! :)

He's started giving kisses now, too- when you hold him up to your cheek, he'll open his mouth and 'kiss' you, and it's so fun! Those first few weeks were so difficult, and I just thought, How long will this tough stage last??? But now all of his little responses are so rewarding, and he's so much fun. And I'm thankful we went through those tough times together, because now we appreciate his happy little personality so much more!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

We'll Be Here

Seems like I've said that a lot this week. "Bye, See You Later. We'll Be Here." We all have colds this week/weekend. Joel has been playing in a tennis tournament at the Y this weekend, which he enjoys, and Zachary and I have been staying home. All week, pretty much, it feels like. It hasn't been bad, though, it's been kind of nice to relax. Yesterday, though, Joel was at the Y, and I was home with Zachary, and I was sitting on the couch, and all of a sudden, I started shivering & shaking uncontrollably...I was like, What in the world is going on??? I couldn't find our regular thermometer, so I found Zachary's baby thermometer & stuck it in my ear and it said 102.8!!! Now, if you know me, you know that I NEVER overreact or panic in any situation at all, so it was very unusual for me to RUN to my son, take his temperature with my shaking hands(normal), then call Joel & leave a panicked message, then jump into a cold bath to get my temperature down, all the while frantically begging God to bring my fever down so I could "take care of my SON!". Which He did, thankfully, and quickly, too. I felt kind of weak & jittery for the rest of the day, but we had a GREAT night last night- Zachary only woke up once to eat and NO GAS AT ALL, so it was the best night in a LONG time! And I feel fine this morning, but the baby thermometer still says my temp is 100.8- not sure it's working right. So I may have stuffed it too far into my ear yesterday and my temp probably wasn't really that high after all. Overreaction, anyone???

Anyway, we're home from church today just in case something's going on with me or Zachary- he still has a cold & cough- he's had it for over a week now! We will have to call the dr. tomorrow if it's not gone by then. Oh, and we went to the dr. again on Tuesday (see how regular of an occurence this is??? I promise they know me by my first name. When I came in last time, I told the receptionist, "I have Zachary" and she just said, "I know." ) Anyway...we saw Dr. Khan this time- we LOVE him- and he said that Zachary's reflux meds weren't working very well, or lasting long enough, so that's why his nights have been so bad. So he switched him to Axid, which he can take twice a day, and he's now had two GREAT nights in a row, and two okay nights before that. Plus this new medicine is sweet & bubble-gum flavored, so Zachary doesn't hate it as much as he hated the Prevacid. So hopefully this new med will be our answer, and we won't have to go see a GI specialist & stick all kinds of tubes down my little man's throat- not sure I would survive that. :( :( :(

But I'm sure that's not an overreaction either. :)