Friday, December 28, 2007

Hopeful Post Christmas Melancholy

We had a fairly simple, good Christmas this year. Even though I know it was not physically easy for my dad, he made the trip out to our house with my mom early Christmas morning to be with us as we opened our gifts. Piper was excited to see him and said, "Papa, Papa!".
It was Piper's first Christmas home, and the significance of that was not lost on me as I watched her celebrate with her family. I still cannot fully wrap my mind and heart around the fact that she spent last Christmas in an orphanage in Xiushan, China. I know God was there with her, keeping her safe, and preparing her for what was to come. Next Thursday is the 1 year anniversary of the day we first saw her sweet face. Though that day was just like every other for her, on the other side of the world, a family of four became five, as we stared at her picture, and thanked God for His wonderful gift.

The kids love their super duper jumper thingy, although it made marks on our wood floor (ugh) and had to be moved upstairs. Nothing like the sound of jumping elephants above your kitchen!

Hunter thinks he's just too cool now that he has a real live shark, that he named Zambi. Hunter and Ella now include Zambi in their mealtime prayers, that he'll "have a good, long life". Ella has spent many hours playing with her new Twin Doll House and Diego vehicles. She and Hunter have many scenarios worked out that involve the twins and Hunter's plastic dragons and Siberian tigers. It doesn't quite look like the picture of the kids playing on the outside of Twin Doll House box, but hey, it keeps them occupied.

Christmas night, my parents had our family, my brother's family and my sister in law's parents over to open our stockings and celebrate my brother's birthday, which he happens to share with Jesus! Ella was amazed when she realized (after 5 years of celebrations), that my mom actually gave birth to my brother on Christmas day.
(In complete astonishment) "So your birthday is the real day you were born, and it stays on that day for the REST of YOUR LIFE???"
It was as if the world stopped for a moment as she took in this newfound bit of information. Why hadn't anyone told her this before?

It always takes me a couple of days to "recover" from Christmas. It strikes me as odd, how much I need some quiet time alone with God to reconnect after being so very busy celebrating His arrival on earth. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this little gem by Jon Bloom, that finally put words to what I have experienced for so long.

Scott took Hunter and Ella to the movies and I have a completely quiet house while Piper naps. I'm off to take advantage of this rarity, and do something crazy, like maybe sit in a comfy chair and do absolutely nothing for a few minutes!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Post Christmas nap, minus the sleep

"Close your eyes, Piper, and pretend you are asleep!"
I love this picture.
"Who needs new toys, pretending to sleep is so much more fun!"

Monday, December 24, 2007

And to all a good night...

It's 10:30 pm, Christmas Eve. Santa has done his thing, the stockings are filled, the super duper jumper thingy is FINALLY put together, though we will need physical therapy to regain use of our upper arms. I cannot wait to get to sleep, because it's bound to be an early morning, but instead I'm watching water heat up - really.
All Hunter wanted for Christmas was a shark, so a shark he's getting. A red tailed, 3 inch long shark, who prefers his water to be a toasty 78 degrees. It's not easy keeping a shark hidden from a 7 year old on Christmas Eve.
OK, just checked, we're up to 76 degrees and he seems to like it, as he's just started doing lots of neat tricks for me, like swimming backwards and doing loop de loops. 2 more degrees, and it's lights out, buddy.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A girl's best accessory is her smile.

And two hats.

And a scarf.

Especially when it's 70 degrees outside.

The sweetest words I've heard in a very long time..

I don't have any time to write, but wanted to post this for anyone checking back to see how the MRI came out. It was a long morning, but right now we are just celebrating. I am so relieved that I can just focus on Christmas, my family, and my mom's upcoming surgery (Jan. 3rd).
I will have another MRI in a year to check it again.
Thank you from the bottom of my grateful heart to those who prayed for me.

Bulb Update

We started our bulbs almost 2.5 weeks ago and they are finally starting to show some promise. I love checking them each morning because they grow about an inch or two each day.

Aren't they glorious?!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I am way out numbered

We tried a "Chinese Christmas" photo first, but apparently having on these "silk-like" outfits was way too exciting. We've all heard of the toys from China containing lead, but it seems these outfits contained some substance which causes it's wearers to run around the house in circles screaming "HI - YAH!!!"
Ella was the only one in the mood for posing for a Christmas photo, I like this picture of her.
This picture of Diva Piper cracks me up. "I need a sippy cup break, people!!!"
At least Angel and Spotted Dog cooperated.
They came up with this pose and thought they were hilarious. By this point I had already given up.

A Soul Awakened

God has been dropping little unexpected shots of encouragement for the last very stressful, scary 24 hours. A week ago I went to the Ob/Gyn. She ordered a mammogram and sonogram b/c of my new found "strong family history" of breast cancer, which is also related to ovarian cancer. Yesterday morning I went in for the sonogram to check my ovaries. I left with the sonogram technician telling me that my ovaries looked normal, but that I would need an MRI b/c there was a "spot near my bladder". That's all she could tell me and I would have to wait for my doctor to call.


My mom had taken Ella and Piper for the morning and was meeting me back at the hospital where I stood, looking out the window for them, fighting back tears. All I could think of was how desperately I wanted to be alive for my family. My kids need a mommy, each one of them. I wondered how I would get through this day, going through the motions, waiting for the phone to ring. Abdominal symptoms I've had for several years flooded my mind.
About 4 hours later, my doctor called and explained that they couldn't tell if the marble sized spot they saw is on my uterus or bladder. The most probable explanation is that it's on my uterus and is just a fibroid tumor (not cancerous). So tomorrow I'll have an MRI, not quite how I pictured spending the week before Christmas. But what about this year has been how I pictured it?

Today, this landed in my inbox, and the message couldn't have been clearer to me. The words of this post are true and real. I am living them right now. The unseen realities of this world seem so much more real to me than ever before. God is up to something. My hunger for Him is strong. My need for Him is huge.

I am praying for spot to be nothing. I am also praying this experience of waiting would be used by the Lord to help me to see, with new eyes. To see Him more clearly, to love what He loves, and live for the things of this world that are lasting and true.
Never in a million years did I anticipate that I'd someday write a post about my uterus and my bladder! I hope to be back tomorrow with a very boring post about uterine fibroids...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Want to know what to get your 18 month old for Christmas?

Piper says forget about lead laden toys, how about a wee little cup/chair?

See, it keeps me busy for a long time...
and I feel so proud of myself!

I love this girl...

Isn't Christianity the Good Life? (John Piper)

John Piper: "I am not coming to you with a health, wealth, and prosperity gospel or a health, wealth and prosperity mission. I am not bringing a message that Christ will make you healthy, Christ will make you wealthy, Christ will make you prosperous in this life so that you can have joy. That's not my message. I am bringing you the message that Christ will give you HIMSELF, so that you don't need health, wealth, and prosperity in order to be happy, but can have so much invincible joy in Christ that you can give up health, wealth, and prosperity in the sacrifice of love if God so calls."

Paul: "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that might not rely on ourselves but on God."

One of the reasons I am so grateful to God for John Piper is that he, unlike anyone else, has helped me to see how joy and suffering and pain can possibly coexist. It is a concept that I struggled with for a long time as I would read the bible. When I would hear someone say how "blessed" they were with their big house, nice car, and healthy family, something inside of me cringed. Is that what it means to be "blessed" by God? If so, what about the babies laying in their cribs, some in deplorable conditions, in the orphanage? What about Paul, what about Jesus? No, Jesus came, and turned the world's idea of "blessed" upside down. In Matthew 5 He says:

3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

How are those who mourn blessed? Because they will be comforted- by God Himself. In my own experience I can say that it is better to mourn and be comforted by God, than to not mourn at all. As J. Piper says, " The Lord is the Reward". It's His presence in the most difficult of places that brings joy, and develops perseverance and hope.

So this Christmas, I am more thankful than ever that God broke through time, and gave us Himself... His very presence...God With Us, Immanuel - now that is a blessing!

The Little Christmas Tree that Could...

Our little Christmas tree was given to us by my parents a few years after we got married. My mom wanted one of those new fangled trees that were 'pre-lit'. So our little tree was free, and it looks really good at night when it's all lit up. We've turned it into a pre-lit tree, as we just leave the lights on, year after year, wrap it up in a sheet, and drag up to the attic once again. Every year I think it's going to be it's last year, but each year, it lights up, and it's still free. We attached it to a table to make it taller, and somehow, over the years, it has grown on me. I usually wrap fancy gold ribbon all through it to spruce it up a bit, but not this year. This year, the kids put most of the ornaments on themselves, and I am enjoying the simplicity of it, along with the brightly wrapped gifts. Usually I buy gift wrap that matches our decor. Not this year. This year, I wanted bright polka dots and Christmas red. It looks like kids live here this year, and I like that.
I'm getting to point where I don't want another tree. This is our little Christmas tree. The top likes to flop over and it looks nothing like the decorator trees I see in the stores. As I sit here looking at it, I am so glad I didn't give into the temptation I felt so many years, and get one of those trees.

Little Tree, I know you must be tired and growing weary after all we've put you through. I know for many years I didn't appreciate you and said terrible things about you. I am sorry, Little Tree. You are part of our family now, and with all of your little quirks, you fit in just perfectly. Please hang in there, Little Tree, I know our best years are yet to come!

More of our Miss Patty Cake day

Ella was a bit star struck when Miss Patty Cake first came out.
But then she realized Miss P. Cake needed her help.

Piper's favorite activity of the day. My sweet nephew went up and down these stairs at least 150 times just b/c Piper wanted to.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

We met Miss Patty Cake, oh yes we did!

Miss Patty Cake LOVES Jesus, yes mam!
If only she could muster up a little enthusiasm.
Piper, Ella, Miss Patty Cake, and my niece Ansley

When Hunter was around 2 years old, we discovered Miss Patty Cake. Both he and Ella have spent many hours singing their hearts out while helping Miss Patty Cake tell her stories with the most dramatic of motions. So, though Hunter and Ella have kind of passed their Miss P.Cake stage, we couldn't pass up the chance to meet her and see her LIVE! My sister in law, Karen, works for the children's ministry at their church and invited us to their Christmas Extravaganza where Miss P.Cake was appearing. Karen even got to pick her up at the airport, and word is, she is just as full of energy in her regular life.
It did make me bit sad when Hunter opted to go see the Christian Magician instead of seeing Miss P.Cake. The relief on Scott's face when he realized he would get to take Hunter, instead of sit through Miss P.Cake, was classic. I tried to convince Hunter that used to LOVE Miss P. Cake and didn't he want to see her? "uh, no."
So, it was me and the girls. And me wrangling Piper, who desperately wanted to go touch Miss P.Cake in all of her stripey goodness.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Our baby girl

With all that's been going on lately, I realized that I haven't posted much about Piper Grace lately. To put it simply, she's doing great. At 19 months, she's changing everyday, copying everything she sees us doing and saying. She just started putting 2 words together, saying things like "Mommy shoes" or "Ella shoes" (of course it's about shoes). Scott and I are no longer mama and dada, but now, MOMMEEEE! and DADDEEE!. I would describe her at this stage as funny, sweet, cuddly, snugly, curious, and way too smart.
She is loving the Christmas tree and Christmas music, and we are loving the fact that we get to have her home this Christmas. It's so tough on those still waiting, wanting so badly to have their babies home for Christmas. I remember last Christmas, waiting on news of Piper, thinking it might come before Christmas. We didn't get the call until January 3rd, and we missed her so much. I remember thinking, how do you miss someone you've never met? Now that we know her, it makes perfect sense.
Today is a school day for Ella, so that means it gift wrapping day for me (as well as laundry catch up day unfortunately). I did something this year I've never done before. I bought almost all of our gifts in one day. Last Saturday I shopped from about 10:00 to 4:00 and got just about everything. So today, while Piper naps I'll get it all out and wrap away. I'd love to have a wrapping party and invite a few friends over to wrap together, but I just couldn't get it together for this year. We decorated our tree last night, which the kids loved. Christmas is starting to take shape. I am really enjoying Christmas music this year, especially "Our God is With Us" by Steven Curtis Chapman.
Hope you are enjoying your Christmas preparations this year too.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Because Christmas wouldn't be the same without a Christmas Eve challenge...

I want to get the kids a trampoline, but b/c there is not a level place to be found in our odd shaped backyard, here's what they'll be getting instead. I read the reviews on amazon, then ordered it through, $20 off, and free shipping. I ordered it on Sunday and it arrived yesterday. The reviews say the kids LOVE it, but the assembly is somewhat brutal. When I read that, I felt a surge of adrenaline, the gauntlet had been thrown. You know what we'll be doing Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Look! Free Parenting Advice!

My brother and his wife, Karen, have 4 kids (6 to 13), and are really great parents. I love that they go through all of the phases first, so we can watch and learn. Yesterday, as we waited for my mom's doctor appointment, David told me about a new thing they are trying with their kids that I thought was worth sharing. They have been really frustrated with their kids leaving shoes and stuff all over the house. He gave each child 20 one dollar bills, then set up a large glass jar in the family room. Any time they leave their stuff around, they say "Please put your shoes in your closet, then put a dollar in the jar." He plans to use the money to take Karen out to eat. The logic behind the idea is that the kids should feel the pain, not the parents. He also told me about a man in their church who was a child psychologist I believe, and someone that was very respected, who taught 3 simple rules of disciplining your children:

1. Use few words
2. Show little emotion in disciplining
3. Be consistent - even when it doesn't appear to be working, stay with it. Expect it not to work for a while. Kids will make more mistakes, but what they need is consistency.

Today I've been thinking how we could implement the money in the jar with our kids. Our main issues right now involve whining. Of course my first thought is where I can find an attractive glass jar. First things first!

A bulb is a promise, or so they say

Here's our little guys (jumbo paper white bulbs), all lined up, ready to grow
Inside these unsightly little brown packages, lie the promise of beautiful flowers
I talk to these little guys as I wash dishes and have even been known to pray over them from time to time. I REALLY, REALLY want them to bloom!

If all goes according to plan (ha,ha), our line up here will transform into a garden of holiday flowers in about 3 weeks time. Our plan is to give them as teacher gifts, but b/c I am a woman of little faith, we do have back-up gifts. I just can't wait to post pictures of their tall stalks of floral goodness.

Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing...

We met with my mom's doctor yesterday who was very thorough and spent a long time explaining everything to us with diagrams and charts. Lots and lots of details and explanations. She will have an MRI tomorrow after my dad's chemo, which will help make some decisions about her treatment. She will for sure have surgery, and the rest will be determined by the MRI and a genetic test. Her sister died of breast cancer, and several other markers point to a possible genetic link. Of course this would affect my brother and I, as well as our children. Those results will take about 2 weeks to come in.
This is so unreal in a way, and it is becoming a normal part of life in a way. People want to know how we are coping. I wish I could answer that, but it changes daily. This very moment I'm ok. I just talked to my mom and she said she was taking a break from all of it today since tomorrow would be full of cancer related activities. Normal life does march on, Christmas gifts to be bought (or grown- a post coming about that), trees to be decorated, and a family that still require 3 meals a day, I still can't get over how regular they are.
Having small children during a time like this is both challenging and healing. They force me to be in the moment with them and take mental breaks from it all. At the same time, there are times I just need some quiet, alone time to process my thoughts and get it all in perspective. Thankfully I have a husband who understands that and works very hard to give me some time. God's ways are higher than ours, and I believe that with all my heart. He has allowed this season for a purpose, and I must surrender my wish for it to be different, knowing He can be trusted.
Hunter and Ella are at school, Piper is asleep and I am going to go lay on the couch, soak in the quiet and talk it all over with God...

Monday, December 03, 2007

This feels familiar for some reason...

In about an hour I will drop off Piper and Ella with my sister in law, Karen so my brother and I can meet our mom for her doctor's appointment. We'll hear the pathology report and discuss her options. My dad wants to go and will if he's feeling up to it.
It seems that something called Hormone Receptors are important in breast cancer, and if you are positive for Hormone Receptors, your treatment and outlook is better. So we are hoping for Positive Hormone Receptors today.
When I am waiting for big news or have something serious on my mind, idle chatter drives me nuts. Did I ever mention that Ella is the Queen of Chatter? Nonstop. About everything. All the time. Tomorrow is a school day for her and I think it will be a good little break for the both of us!


When we had our wood floors put in, we had to box up all of our many books so that the study furniture could be moved. This weekend we finally tackled the job of going through all of our books, making a pile for Half Priced Books, and then organizing the rest. I ran across a book that I've heard a lot of great things about, but haven't read yet called How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich. I opened the book and read the dedication, which made me laugh out loud:
"To our four children, who effortlessly exposed every character flaw we didn't even know we had."
I just love that, because it is so very true. Parenting these little ones has a way of peeling away those layers of dysfunction, one day at a time. I can't think of anything that drives me to God's throne more than my inadequacy as a parent, along with the huge responsibility of bringing them up well.
It may take me a year, but I'm finally going to read this book!

The Great Adventure

If you only read one thing today, make it this, by my friend Beth.

Here's a little taste:

"But isn’t He brilliant? Would we really have wanted a God we could figure out? Or wouldn’t that have made us His God instead? Isn’t the unknown the very thing that keeps this life an adventure? Some of our destructive lusts for the strange and new in human relationships (inability to commit; addiction to romance novels or steamy TV series; continual fantasies about someone different; or maybe more than fantasies) erupt from unknowingly trading in a holy adventure with God for a feel-better-few-minutes with man (real or imagined) that only ends up feeding our dissatisfaction. The result is even deeper despair that pounds with every beat of our injured heart, “Is this all there is?” The answer is a resounding, “NO!” The innate human desire for something new isn’t what’s unhealthy. The need for adventure was sewn within our souls by divine hands so that deep would call out to deep and we’d drive our insatiable selves straight to the One and Only God who can sustain it. His mercies are new every morning and treasures are inexhaustible every day."

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Because I'd rather think about decorating than real life...

Before, well sort of. This was taken during the mess of getting ready to rearrange, but the important thing is the table is black
My apprentice
Base coat done
Ta Da - After, well sort of, I've done a bit of rearranging since this photo. It's a much lighter look, a nice change.
My brother has a saying that the choices we make as parents define what "normal" looks like to our kids. It occurred to me as Ella helped me paint our dining room table that she is growing up thinking that this is normal. At some point I will have to explain to her that her mother is crazy and normal people don't paint their dining room table and chairs because they tire of the old finish. But we sure had fun!

Friday, November 30, 2007

I can't think of a title for this one...

Well, we did get our news yesterday and it was not good. My mom, Dottie, has invasive breast cancer and will need to have surgery soon. We are in the process of finding a surgeon, so if anyone knows of a good one in our area, please contact me or leave it in the comments. We've had one doctor recommended by many, but he's just coming back after a very recent open heart surgery.

It all seems a bit unreal at the moment, but is slowly sinking in. We covet your prayers more than you could know. My dad has chemo again next week. Pray that he stays strong.

Psalm 50:15 "Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will glorify me."

Clinging to that hope and many others,


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It was 1980 something...

Top, left, clockwise - my best friend growing up, Jill, her daughter Payton (13), son Tate (7), me and Piper, Ella in the middle, Kim, Jill's daughter Presleigh (10), Julie and her son Jonathon
Tate entertained Piper for the entire 2 hours.

On Friday, I got to see some very good friends that I haven't seen in a long time, my best buddies from high school and college. Jill and I became best friends in the 6th grade and she, Kim and I lived together for our first 2 years at A&M, before she left us to go to TU to be with her future husband, Matt. (I'm not bitter or anything)
Julie and I grew up in the same neighborhood and spent many a summer playing Pac Man and walking to Taco Bueno. She is now an OB/Gyn and is expecting her 2nd baby. She is in charge of planning our 20 year reunion which is NEXT YEAR - oh. my. word. How did that happen?

I have experienced a lot of life with these 3 friends. They are a part of so much of what constitutes my memory. We literally grew up together, and somehow became women with children. SO many memories. So much high school drama, experienced together. Love, break-ups, many break ups, late nights, early mornings, drill team, football games, birthdays, illness, bad perms, big hair, hot rollers, adventures of every kind, trips, college freedom, paying bills together, hours and hours and hours at the pool, discovering College station together, weddings and babies...growing up.
It was so fun to see them and their children. Keeping up these connections is important to me, and worth making the effort. The older I get, the more I appreciate these friendships that enrich my memories and form my history. I used to take it for granted that everyone had these kinds of friends to share life with, without really stopping to appreciate their impact. Since our Friday get together, I've been traveling down memory lane and having so much fun recalling things I haven't thought about for years. I pray that our kids will find lifelong friends, good friends with strong character...what a gift.
That double chin will disapear once I learn how to photoshop, that is for sure!
Our little turkey

Ella and Mandy