Wednesday, December 22, 2010

As Christmas Draws Near ...

This morning I spent some time in reflection of the blessings that God has given to me.  It is so hard for me to believe that only three years ago I was single and living in the basement of my brother's home.  I was working full time and spending my free time with family and friends.  Only a mere year after that my life took a huge turn when I married my sweet Monte, the most amazing man I have ever met and the love of my life.  On that day, I also was married to the four most wonderful children I could have asked for.  Oh how my life had changed!  Now, fast forward two more years, and we are a family of seven.  Our precious little Ethan has only been in our lives for six weeks, yet it seems completely as if he was in the plans from day one.  God has directed the plans He had for my life, and though they didn't always go exactly as I had wanted them to go, in the end it turned out perfectly.  I can't imagine a Christmas filled with more love, happiness and blessings than this one and I am eternally grateful to my Savior for the wonderful life He's given to me.

This Christmas, while we celebrate the birth of Jesus, take time to reflect over the blessings in your life.  We truly are blessed above and beyond what I could have ever dreamed!!

Merry Christmas to all of you - I appreciate the relationships that I've come to have with you and truly do pray that God pours out His blessings and His Spirit over you and yours.  You are amazing friends and I am forever thankful for the gift of YOU!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Grunts and Groans and Cries .. oh my!

I know that many of you who read my blog are moms.  You've been through the sleepless nights, the cries that won't stop, the endless dirty diapers and the fact that doing anything now takes you three times as long to get done as it would have before you had a baby (i.e. making dinner now has to allow time to pause and comfort my sweet crying baby!).  You also know the endless hours of cuddling, the moments of studying your baby's every feature so intensely that it is forever burned in your mind.  You know the kisses and sweet whispers of love to your baby, you know the lullaby's and the little things that calm your baby better than anybody else knows.  You are the one whose voice your baby recognizes and is instantly calmed by your touch.

I never knew that motherhood was going to be this involved.  I will admit to my sheer naivety about becoming a mother to an infant.  My assumption was that there weren't many things in my life that were going to change, but that they were just going to take a little bit longer.  While this may be true for some things, it is certainly not true for others!  Somehow, while I absolutely knew that getting up multiple times per night was going to leave me longing for a full night of sleep, somehow I didn't really grasp the totality of the feeling until it actually came to me.

*Photo courtesy of my husband, Monte, who snapped this one evening after I had fallen asleep holding Ethan.  I found out about the picture when I logged onto my Facebook account the next day and saw this picture on there! :)

I love this little boy so much, I just can't get enough of him!  I can't seem to have enough hours in the day to do what I need to do because all I want to do is hold him, cuddle him, sing to him, change him and love on him.  He is my amazing blessing from God, and I am forever grateful to Him for the gift of baby Ethan.

My life has been changed forever, and I love it.  I wouldn't change it back for anything.

I'm quickly realizing something, though.  I'm realizing that my baby requires a bit more attention than I anticipated.  Granted, he has been dealing with what his pediatrician believes to be acid reflux (though I'm not sure that's all that it is), so it makes him uncomfortable.  ALL.THE.TIME.  My sweet little baby boy doesn't sit still for very long before he starts to grunt and groan.  It seems like he's pushing with all of his might to get some of the gas in his tummy to move and it just doesn't work.  I've become accustomed to these sounds, so they don't cause me to jump up instantly like they used to, but they're still just not right.

Today my sister and her daughter came for a visit, and it was a wonderful relaxing time to have them here!  Her little girl played with Colin, and Tanya and I spent some time reading magazines on the couch ("This Old House" and "Better Homes and Gardens" are two subscriptions that arrive at our house and it's usually quite awhile before we get to read them!) while baby Ethan was sleeping in his bouncer.  Then it started: grunts.  Repeated grunts.  Then he added the groans.  After awhile, his grunting and groaning escalated into a full cry.  I think this is the first time that someone who doesn't live with us (besides my mother-in-law who is staying with us for a few weeks) heard his grunting and saw just how much attention my little bundle of joy requires.  She saw how much he spits up .. what seems to be everything that he had just eaten.  She heard him cry and saw just how much he needs to be held and comforted.

After talking to her about it, I'm realizing that there are some things in my life that I enjoy that I may have to temporarily give up .. things like attending my MOPs group.  While I have a wonderful time at MOPs, it's just too hard to have my little guy there with me when he requires so much attention.  Maybe it's a good thing for me to devote more time to just being a good mom and taking care of my baby instead of trying to rush out the door to make it to MOPs.  Maybe.  I'm still thinking this one through.

While sometimes I will admit to feeling a little bit overwhelmed by this new lifestyle, I am mostly overwhelmed with my desire to care for my baby, overwhelmed by my love for him and my drive to help him work through these gassy issues (and yes, we've tried a LOT of things already, Gripe Water being the most recent thing - and it really didn't have any effect on him beyond making his spit-up really slimy!).  I'm okay with the thought of just being at home with him and Colin, making them my priority and focusing my attention on them.  That's what I've been called to do, and for right now it is what I will do.

I never knew motherhood was going to be this involved, but I also wouldn't want to be less involved to any degree, because motherhood is one of the biggest blessings I've ever received!

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Please don't forget to vote for my brother's beautiful baby girl in the Gerber baby contest. It's so easy to vote and takes only a few minutes and is something that is very important to me and my family.  Will you please take just a moment to do so?  To vote for Abby, click here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Brother's Baby

While I know many of you are anxiously awaiting more updates on how life is going with our sweet little Ethan at home, I have decided to take the time to blog of an update to help out my brother, Tory.  You see, his sweet little baby girl, Abigail, is entered in the Gerber Photo Contest with the possibility of winning a $25,000 scholarship, which would be an amazing award to win.  Is there any way that you can help out and quickly visit the following link and cast a vote for Abby?  The first time you vote, you will have to verify through an email you receive that you are indeed a person and not a computer, but it literally takes only a couple of minutes - and those couple of minutes are rewarded by seeing this adorable photo of my beautiful niece!  Please visit the following link to vote for her .. and remember that you can go back and vote every day (and we would appreciate it if you did!)!!

Click here to vote for Abby!

In the meantime, things on the home front are going as well as can be expected with our sweet little baby.  He is quite the fuss-pot, mostly due to the fact that he is an incredibly gassy baby - but even in the midst of all of the fussing, I'm just loving having him home and in my arms!  Please pray that his tummy issues will settle down, as we would love to not have to bring him in to more specialists to make his digestion a non-issue!

Have a wonderful weekend - hopefully I will be online to give you an update when I have the opportunity.  In the meantime, if you click here you can see the online photo album I've created of our beautiful little baby.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

They Said I Would Know ...

... but I didn't.  I didn't know at all.  Maybe I was in denial, maybe I was even a little bit scared, but I truly did not know it was contractions that I was experiencing that Saturday afternoon (November 6th).  In fact, I was so confident in the fact that our baby was going to arrive closer to his due date and that nothing had changed within my body that I told my husband he most definitely should go deer hunting with his brother, cousin and uncles for the weekend.  After he confirmed the fact that my mom and step-dad would be coming down to stay with me, he agreed that it would be okay for him to head out.  On Saturday afternoon, when I began to experience a pain I can only compare to menstrual cramps, my mom told me that I needed to call Monte and make him aware of the situation.  I called his cell phone and it rang through to his voicemail, though I didn't leave a message because I knew that he would call back when he saw that I called.  An hour and a half later, he called back!  Evidently he had been out in the deer stand, and while he gets reception on his cell phone at their hunting shack, out in the woods he definitely does not.  I informed him that my mom said I had to let him know that I was having cramps, but told him that I didn't think it was anything important or major and that he was just fine to stay and hunt the rest of the weekend and I would let him know if it amounted to anything more (which I was completely certain it would not).  Little did I know that shortly after our phone conversation Monte packed up his stuff and headed home, telling his relatives that he was on his way home because we were going to have a baby.

Meanwhile, back home, my mom, step-dad, kids and I loaded into the Suburban and headed to Applebee's for dinner (as I had made the decision that I just was not going to cook anything for the night).  The closest Applebee's to us is about a half hour away, so we were gone for almost three hours.  By the time we got home, it was time to get the kids tucked into bed and try to relax enough to get some sleep myself.  I was having a really difficult time relaxing, as the "cramps" were getting a little more intense at that point.  I was still certain that they were not contractions, though, because of the way contractions had been described to me (as something I would feel through my whole stomach, as a pulling sensation, and the fact that people have always said that I will absolutely know that they were contractions!), and this just didn't feel like those descriptions!  So, I turned on the TV and laid down, hoping to catch just enough comfort to drift off to sleep.  About 12:30am I heard my bedroom door open, which startled me completely!  I asked, "who's in here?" to which I received no response.  I repeated the question and again received no response, so I got out of bed only to find my husband in our walk-in closet getting ready for bed.  I was so surprised to see him!  I wrapped my arms around him, kissed him and asked him why he came home.  His response: "because we're going to have a baby this weekend and I need to be here for that."  My husband is amazing! :)

We laid back down and he fell instantly asleep.  I tossed and turned for awhile before I was able to drift off, only to be waken up three or four different times due to the cramping (which is unusual for me, as even through my pregnancy it was not uncommon for me to sleep through the night).  Every time I would wake, Monte would ask me how far apart the contractions were.  Still not believing they were contractions, my response was "I don't know!  Far enough that we don't have to worry."

The next morning we got up and began making breakfast.  The pain was coming a little more frequently and Monte asked me to inform him every time I felt it.  It wasn't long before we realized that the "cramps" were coming every 10 minutes and that they were getting a lot more intense.  When it got to the point that they stopped me in my tracks and I couldn't talk through them, I decided to call the hospital to see if I should get checked.  The nurse on the phone informed me that it would be a good idea to do so.  At this point  my cramps were coming a bit closer together and Monte wrapped his arms around me and said, "baby, you need to pack your bag because we're going to have a baby soon."  I finally took his advice and packed my overnight bag for the hospital (I already had everything set out to bring, I just had yet to put it together).  Since my mom and step-dad were planning on leaving soon, Monte talked to his sister-in-law, Debbie, and asked if she and Dan (her husband) could come be with the kids for the day, to which they instantly agreed and were on their way.  I called the hospital again to inform them that we were on our way in and Monte and I headed out to his truck and loaded up.  Right before we left, I started to cry and admitted to Monte that I was feeling really scared.  He hugged and kissed me and reassured me that everything was going to be great.  Then we started down the road.

It took a mere 20 minutes to get to the hospital.  We parked the truck and headed up to the third floor where we were taken into a triage room.  They checked my blood pressure and then hooked me up to two separate monitors, one which monitored the baby's heartbeat and the other which monitored my contractions.  After being hooked up only a few minutes and realizing that the contractions were now only three to four minutes apart, it began to really sink in and I began to accept the fact that I was indeed in labor!  The nurse checked me after being there just under an hour and it was confirmed that I was dilated to four centimeters.


At that point, I was transferred to a birthing suite where I was again hooked up to the two monitors and introduced to my new nurse.  Monte and I got comfortable and turned on the Vikings game, assuming that we still had quite awhile before anything was really going to happen.  My doctor came in and greeted us around 1:30pm, checked my dilation (I was at seven centimeters by then) and broke my water and left us in the very capable hands of the nurse, saying he would check on us again around 3:00pm.  The nurse asked me if I was ready for my epidural, as this was the pain management plan that I had previously discussed with the doctor.  Considering the fact that I was still managing my contractions pretty well, I told her that I would like to wait and see if I can handle them longer without it.  My nurse headed out the door to check on something, assuring me that she would be back soon.  Monte had yet to eat anything, so he headed down to the cafeteria to grab some food for himself, promising me that he would bring it back to the room to eat, since I really didn't want to be without him.  It was at that point, when I was sitting alone in the room, that I began to pray and ask God to show me when a good time for the epidural will be.  I asked Him to guide me and keep me and my baby safe and to take away the anxiety I was feeling about the delivery.  No more than 30 seconds after I finished that prayer, the most intense contraction I had yet to experience hit me.  I tried to breathe through it, I tried to reposition myself, I tried anything I could to make the pain stop but I couldn't help but scream out in pain as the tears rolled down my cheeks.  When Monte walked back in the room a minute or two later and saw me leaning forward with tears rolling down my cheeks he rushed to me to see how he could help.  My only request: "I want the epidural NOW!"  So he set out to inform the nurse that we were ready, and she said she would let the anesthesiologist know and he would be up shortly. 

The contractions that came between my request for the epidural and when it actually began to take effect were almost unbearable.  My husband was amazing and held my hand and helped me to breathe through them, encouraging me the whole way.  I will admit that actually getting the epidural was a painful procedure, but having that needle stuck in my back was nothing in comparison to those intense contractions.  It took awhile, but once the epidural began to really take effect and my body started to relax, things seemed a lot easier.  I remember that I couldn't feel my legs and I was shivering because I felt so cold, yet my skin was still incredibly warm to the touch.  The nurse had to turn me to lay on my side and then on my other side for short periods of time, and that time of laying on my side hurt a lot, as I was beginning to really feel the contractions again.  I requested if I could lay down on my back again and the nurse granted that request.  After repositioning me, she checked me again and informed me that I was fully dilated and ready to start pushing.  According to Monte, this happened around 2:45pm.  We decided it was a good idea to shut the Vikings game off so that I could concentrate on pushing ... and considering the fact that they were badly losing and it seemed like they wouldn't be able to come back, I was okay with it being shut off.  

The nurse asked another nurse to phone my doctor and let him know that we were beginning to push.  I don't remember much of the pushing itself, beyond the fact that I feel like it was over pretty quickly, though Monte told me I pushed for roughly 45 minutes before the little guy was born.  The one thing I distinctly remember, though, is that Monte and I were bantering back and forth throughout the whole thing, which kept the nurses giggling!  He kept saying something along the lines of "just a little more, I see him he's almost here!" after every series of pushes and I finally snapped at him and told him that, unless the baby's head was sticking out he was NOT almost here and that Monte should just stop telling me that!  Thank God I have a patient husband who just smiled and kissed me, telling me he's just trying to be encouraging.

I remember at one point the nurse put an oxygen mask on me while I was pushing.  I don't remember feeling any sort of change from it, but evidently it was needed!  My doctor arrived and the pushing continued.  I remember them telling me to push harder than I had ever pushed before, and I remember feeling like I was pooping (though they kept promising me that I was not!).  My doctor kept telling me to push, but I think it was when he informed me that my baby had a full head of hair that the real inspiration to get him out came.  I pushed the rest of the way and the doctor confirmed that indeed my little baby was a boy.  I was flooded with relief after the delivery and began to cry when they laid this beautiful baby boy on my stomach.


Monte cut his umbilical cord and the nurses continued to clean him up.  I focused my attention on him as the doctor informed me it was time for a half push to deliver the placenta.  After having just delivered the baby, the placenta was no big deal!  The doctor cleaned up, the nurses continued to clean the baby and clean me, and I gave my husband the biggest kiss of our married life!  Finally, our precious Ethan Bennett had arrived!  There is no feeling comparable to the first time I held him in my arms.  God has truly blessed our family with this beautiful bundle of joy!


Though we have had a hard start to his first week at home, due to his jaundice being so high, we are finally back to being healthy and finding a routine that works for us.  I will post more on our first week with Ethan when I can, but for now I need to go feed my precious crying baby!! :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

*** Welcoming Baby Ethan Bennett !! ***


Proud Auntie Tanya here again, with an update...


Announcing the arrival of Baby Ethan Bennett! 


Born November 7th, 2010 at 3:32pm
6lbs, 12.7oz. * 19.5" long!! :)


Kami and baby are both doing great!  Thank you all for your prayers.  Her labor and delivery were both quite fast... especially for her first time, and despite the epidural (which she was VERY thankful for!) 

Be sure to send them your love and good wishes ...I know Kami, Monte and the Kids will all enjoy hearing from each of you! 

Oh HAPPY DAY!!! :) 
Welcome to the World, Baby Ethan!!
God is GOOD! <><



Tanya

It's TIME!!!


Hello faithful friends and followers of "My Beautiful Day" ...this is Kami's older (& wiser!) sister, Tanya reporting.  Just thought you might like to know that Kami is officially in labor, and is at the hospital getting ready to deliver her first born.  We are hoping to welcome sweet Baby Ethan Bennett into the world very soon!!  I will keep you posted as I know more. 

In the meantime, here are a couple of photos that her great hubby Monte sent me a couple of hours back.  We'll see how long that smile stays on her face during labor!! ;)



Please do keep Kami in your prayers.  Pray for a smooth labor and delivery, and that God will give her the strength and stamina to get through this, as she was up most of the night with very little sleep!  When I spoke with her on the phone around noon, she was waiting for her epidural.  I tried to talk her out of it... but she said she wasn't having that conversation with me.  Say WHAT!?  Go figure!!?!! ;)  LOL!  I'm just an anxious auntie who wants to see her new nephew ASAP and I want nothing to slow it down.  Hmmph... here I thought I had more say in this; but guess NOT!  ;)

Anyway, enjoy the pics and hopefully the next time I post, there will be BABY photos to share!! :)

God bless!  <><

Tanya

Monday, November 1, 2010

Could It Be?

I have a slight bit of a predicament.  You see, I was going along just fine in this pregnancy (except for the fact that I'm a little bit "owley" according to my loving husband!), not expecting to meet this little guy until my due date, which is November 24.  Then I went to my most recent checkup this past Friday and now I just don't know what to expect!  You see, at this checkup, I found out that our little guy is in fact head-down and ready to go, and evidently I, too, am ready to go as I am dilated to just over 3 cm already!  This is news I absolutely was NOT expecting to receive.  I don't really know why, but I was anticipating hearing that everything is fine and moving along as expected and that I would be having a baby on or near my due date.  To have my doctor tell me that many women are already receiving their epidural when they're at 3 cm shocked me!  He told me that it would be a good idea to get my bag packed and be ready to head out to the hospital at any time, as he doesn't think I will be waiting until my due date to have this baby.

That's great news!!  Right?  Well, yes of course it is ... but it also bugs me.  See, what happens if I don't have the baby until my due date?  Then I'm spending the next three weeks hoping that he'll be coming soon, and then realizing that's just not the case!  I admit that I am spending lots of time praying that God will bless me with this little one as soon as possible.  I figure since he's already in position and my body seems to be more than ready, then it's just a good thing to move it forward because the ninth month of pregnancy has NOT been a comfortable one for me (maybe that explains my "owley" attitude!).

Please pray for me, too, as I don't want to go crazy waiting for our little guy to arrive!!

Oh - and you will be updated when labor does arrive, as my wonderful sister has agreed to do my blogging for me when I head to the hospital, cause I am just not one of those mamas who intends on bringing her computer with her when she goes to have her baby!! :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Weekend Full of Wonderful

I believe there are times in our lives when God smiles on us and gives us blessing after simple blessing.  For me, this past weekend was exactly that.  We had an extended weekend at our house, as our kids had no school from Wednesday through Friday.  Having them home was definitely a treat!  My brother, Tory, and his family arrived to spend the weekend at our house on Thursday evening.  It was wonderful to have them over, as I truly just LOVE hosting people at our home!  Thursday was spent catching up and playing with the kids late into the night, and by the time my head hit the pillow I was more than ready for a good nights sleep!

Friday was a fairly busy morning, followed by one of the best blessings of the weekend!  You see, our very favorite babysitter, Krista, had sent me a message a few weeks back asking if she could take the kids at some point during this break from school.  Krista is a senior this year and her schedule and ours don't always match up, and with Claire rising up as a babysitter, we've found that we're seeing less and less of Krista - so I was more than happy to tell her yes!  Unfortunately, I had completely forgotten to get back in touch with her to set something up specifically, so when I received her text message on Friday morning and found that she was free that afternoon, I jumped at the opportunity!  She came and got the kids and headed out with them for an afternoon of bowling, playing at the park and enjoying a snack at Panera.  Boy oh boy did the kids have a wonderful time!

While they were gone, Tory and his family headed out to visit a friend, so I had the house to myself.  I was so excited to get a lot of stuff done and be super productive, but instead I got a big case of the tireds, and I laid down and took a three-hour nap!  It was glorious!  I woke up shortly before everybody arrived back at our house and was soon greeted by smiling faces and slightly tired kids.  Krista, if you are reading this, please know that you are so very appreciated and that Colin has not stopped talking about bowling with you!!  We sure do love you!

Saturday we woke up bright and early (I'm talking 5:30am here!) and got ready to head out the door to my sister's house where she was hosting my baby shower.  We spent the morning setting up and preparing food (of which my sister informed me I should not be helping, but I'm such a control freak that I had to get my hands in there a little!), and I spent a little extra time playing with my nieces and a couple of nephews (who were the only kids at the shower, as most of them travelled quite a ways to get there!) before the chaos of the shower began.

The shower was awesome!  I was blessed to see so many friends and family members show up.  We enjoyed some delicious food, played a couple of wild and crazy games and then spent time opening presents.  It was an absolutely perfect day and I couldn't have asked for anything better.  Tanya, mom, Missy and Lisa: thank you all so very much for all that you did to make this day so special for our family ... you are appreciated and loved to the extreme!

Once the shower had wound down, the men started arriving back at the house, as we were planning on having a family dinner together that night since it's such a rare occasion that we're all together.  We played and laughed, I fought with my brother (sorry Tory) and cried a bunch (silly pregnancy hormones!), we ate and the kids played some video games, then we packed up and headed home.  What a completely wonderful day it had been!

Sunday we enjoyed sleeping in, as Claire was feeling sick (she had started feeling sick at the shower the day before), so we wanted her to get some rest.  Sunday afternoon Iain, Ellis and I headed to Babies R Us and Target to get the last of the baby supplies that I know we will absolutely need (carseat and stroller, bouncer, pacifiers, etc) and I spent a majority of Sunday afternoon and yesterday setting it all up.

So ... what has been a weekend full of crazy has also been my weekend full of wonderful, and I am so blessed to have been able to celebrate with the people I love the most!

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This is your last week to enter the drawing (sponsored by BlogHer and Kellogg's) for a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card!  Head over to my review blog to enter!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Time Is Running Out!

There are only TWO more opportunities to win a $100 Visa Gift card through this review program, sponsored by Kellogg's and BlogHer.  I highly suggest visiting my review blog to enter for your chance to win!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Maybe Tory Was Right

I know for a fact that's what he wants to hear - that he was right; but maybe, just maybe he really was!  It may be true that what Tory (my older brother) said was right - my legs hurt entirely because I'm getting pretty fat! :)

At 34 weeks pregnant, I would say that yes, I certainly am (please excuse the hair and pudgy face ... it was the end of a very long day!):





Yep, much much fatter indeed .. but a good kind of fatter! :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

No News is Good News

I went to my doctors appointment on Tuesday.  I saw a doctor that I don't normally see, but she is the one who I could get in to see right away.  She concluded that she didn't know what was going on, and scheduled me to have some outpatient tests performed at the hospital.  Due to the fact that my appointment was already late in the afternoon, I wouldn't have been able to get in to start my appointments at the hospital until late that evening, so I opted to schedule them for the following afternoon instead.

So, after dropping Colin off at preschool, I went in for said tests.  They took awhile, but were fairly easy, so I guess I can't complain.  They concluded that I definitely do not have any blood clots in my legs, but that was the only real conclusion that was made.  The reason for the pain in my legs is still a mystery.  Of course, if you listen to my brother, Tory, I guess the reason that my legs hurt so intensely is just because I'm getting fat! :)  Ohhh the sweet and loving words of an older brother (and just in case you don't already know, he was just teasing me, as we often have a lot of friendly banter in our conversations)!

I can say that my spirits are up and I'm looking forward to watching my older boys compete in the soccer tournament this coming weekend!  Life is busy as always, but as always, that's the way I like it!

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Don't forget to visit my review blog to enter for a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card!  Contest ends on Monday!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Honesty

I know it's been awhile since I've blogged about anything beyond my $100 Visa Gift Card Giveaways (which, by the way, if you would like to enter in this week's contest [sponsored by Kellogg's and BlogHer] you can visit my review blog by clicking here).  I know this because my brother Jeremy recently told me that he's grown bored with my blog.  Sorry Jerm, I'll try to do better!  The catch of why I haven't blogged is truly the fact that I want my blog to be uplifting and encouraging, and lately I really haven't felt that way.  Tomorrow I will officially be 34 weeks pregnant (I do promise pictures soon!) and lately I haven't been happily pregnant, I've been uncomfortably pregnant!  Due to this fact, I have avoided writing on my blog about it.

However, after thinking about it for awhile, the one thing I really come back to is the fact that I want to be honest on my blog as well, and not to avoid blogging just because the time of life I'm in happens to be hard.  So, my fabulous blog readers, here's the truth: I'm uncomfortable.  This baby boy has found his way to my ribcage and has clung to it for dear life, causing me to be short of breath and in pain!  I spent almost four days with him positioned there before a bit of relief came yesterday, thank You God!  He's turned a bit, which feels odd as he's never been sideways in my stomach before (and it looks goofy to see him sticking out by my side!), but it is extreme relief from the tightness of having him hug my ribs!

The other thing that has been difficult is the way my body reacted to the flu shot.  You see, I am one of those people who is not in favor of vaccines.  I have not had a flu shot in years, and haven't had the flu in years, so I see no point in being vaccinated.  That being said, when I was at my OB appointment this past Thursday, my doctor stressed the "extreme importance" of me having the flu shot to ensure that my little guy also gets this vaccine.  I debated the necessity of it with the doctor for about five minutes before I finally caved and decided just to get the shot, figuring my husband would be proud of me for it (as he is NOT opposed to vaccines!).  I got the shot, all was well ... until the next morning.  Friday morning I woke up uncomfortable, completely swollen through my arms and hands and my legs and feet, dealing with hot flashes and chills, just feeling awful.  I was nauseous and had no appetite, though because I knew the baby needed food and calories, I did my best to attempt to eat and drink as much as possible.  Add to all of that the fact that my hormones were making me extremely emotional, and it was one very hard weekend!  You see, my Monte had left Friday morning to go hunting with his brother, cousin and nephews.  When he left, I was feeling alright and was certain that I could get through it on my own, which means that I insisted he still go.  About four hours after he left, I was really sad I had made that decision!  I was feeling completely miserable, I was in a lot of pain, and I was emotional.  It was a very hard day.

Thankfully, my brother and sister-in-law, Jeremy and Missy, came and picked Colin up that evening to spend the weekend with them so that I could rest.  I can't tell you how much of a relief and how much of a huge help this was - thank you so much guys!  I arranged rides for my boys to their soccer games and spent the rest of the weekend in bed, sleeping the pain away.  Sunday morning I did get up and took the older kids to church, but even that was something that required a lot of energy and took a lot out of me.

The really odd thing in all of this is the fact that my legs are very painful, and I don't know why.  If I'm standing still, my calves and ankles start to hurt after about 10 minutes (which makes getting ready quite difficult!).  It almost feels as if I have just done an excruciating workout and my muscles are reacting to that.  I called my doctor and have an appointment to get that checked out today, which is a good thing.  Please keep this situation in your prayers, as there are very few things I can truly do without feeling this pain in my legs - and that makes being a stay-at-home mom a very difficult thing!

So, these are the reasons why I haven't blogged, because right now my pregnancy seems to be hard, and I don't want to complain about it.  Hopefully there will be some light to shine on this blog soon!  Jeremy - the offer still stands ... you write something up and I will happily feature you as my guest blogger! :)

Praying that you all are filled with blessings this week ....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Win a $100 Visa Gift Card

It's Tuesday again, and if you've been following my blog for awhile you know that I am participating in a review program sponsored by BlogHer and Kellogg's.  They are giving me the chance to give away a $100 Visa Gift Card to one of YOU - all you have to do is visit my review blog and follow the instructions at the bottom of the post.  Happy day!! :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Things He Says

Today I told Colin that my back is sore, so he told me to lay down on my side and he would rub it for me (a.k.a. run his hands up and down my back). The conversation that followed cracked me up:

Colin: Does that feel good?
Me: Yes, thanks buddy
Colin: Is it super soft?
Me: Is what super soft?
 

Colin: My hands!
Me: Yes they are!
Colin: That's because you make me put Dove on them all the time!



Oh the things he says never cease to amaze me!! :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Don't Give a Tweet!

I used to be in love with Twitter.  No joke.  I loved that I could instantly pick up my phone and use the browser to see what everybody I love was doing.  I loved that I could put my computer next to me on my dresser while I was folding clothes on my bed and have long conversations with friends via tweets, only feeling frustrated that I had a character limit that I could use per tweet!  I used to love to update my Twitter status and let the entire world know what I was doing.

Used to.  I definitely used to.

Now, however, I have deleted my Twitter account and am likely to never sign up again.  You see, I never went so far as to have everybody's Twitter updates sent to my phone via SMS text messages, as the texting plan I have for my phone is very minimal and I would have exceeded my allowed number of monthly messages in just one day had I linked my Twitter account to my phone!  Due to that, I was resorting to continually checking the computer to see what my friends were up to, and continually going online on my Blackberry to make sure that the entire world knew what I was up to.

More often than not, my status message should have been, "I'm wasting time and ignoring my son and my house to be on here and leave this message so you all know exactly what is going on with me RIGHT NOW."

I have found that, if I devote even an hour to having a phone conversation with my sister or my mom or a friend, I'm still spending less time occupying myself with finding out what's going on in the world around me than what I used to when I was constantly jumping on the computer to check my Twitter account "just for a second".

I have found out that I am a lot happier and a lot better mom to Colin when my attention is focused on him and on having fun with him.  If I am so desperate to find out what's going on with the people in my Twitter world, maybe I should just make a play date with one of them so that Colin has fun too?! :)

I have found out that I am much happier being in a place where having the world available at my fingertips is not completely necessary.  This is part of the reason why I haven't been blogging as frequently.  I'm taking a break from my computer, and spending time blogging when I feel like God truly has given me something to write about, or when something fun has happened in our family, or when I have a certain topic (like today's Twitter topic) burning in my brain and I can't seem to let it go ... and occasionally when it's just been too long since my last post.

I have found that, not being attached to my computer, I have much more time to do the things that I'm responsible for during the day.  Things like cleaning the house, doing laundry, getting groceries, playing with Colin.  Oh, and eating ... I definitely do a lot of eating, too! :)

So, ladies and gentlemen, while I have had some people request that I come back to Tweeting, my answer right now is "no"!  I'm happy and content with the balance my life has found and wouldn't want to go back to being a computer addict for anything!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

When It Rains ...

I know you're all familiar with the phrase, "When it rains, it pours".  I've been thinking of this phrase recently, as someone very dear to my heart has had one heck of a storm pouring in her life as of late.  The irony of this is the fact that she was the one who most often comforted me during the seemingly-never-ending journey of trying to have a baby.  She was the one who told me not to accept what the doctors told me, to truly rely on my faith and trust in God that He will provide that blessing in His perfect timing.  Now, as I sit here at 31 weeks pregnant (okay, well 30 weeks and 6 days pregnant), I can't help but think back to how right she was.  How important it was for me to truly stop looking at the natural, stop focusing on the storm that was raging around me, but instead to turn my face toward Heaven and focus on my Creator who does have my life in His hands.

The hard thing about that was the fact that it seemed like too much.  "You don't know what it's like" ... "This is just too hard" ... "Maybe God has a different plan for me and I'm not supposed to be begging Him for a baby" ... "I just want to be able to cry and sit in self-pity for awhile; can't I be allowed to do that?!"  These were some of the many negative thoughts that crossed through my mind during this time.  If there is anything I have realized, it's the fact that the devil was trying to use those very thoughts to stir up doubt inside of me.  How much of a party would the devil had been throwing if I had accepted defeat and decided that God really didn't have a baby in the picture for me?  Every single day I'm praising God that He called out to me through this wonderful woman and He reminded me that my life is in His hands, that my blessings come in His timing and my trust needed to remain in Him alone.

I'm reminded of this battle I struggled through every time this beautiful baby boy kicks me from inside my stomach, and I can't help but rejoice at how great our God truly is!

Going back to this wonderful woman in my life ... it seems like she is in a place where the storms are completely raging around her, threatening to overtake her and her family, and maybe .. just maybe .. she's in that place where I was, feeling like it's almost too hard to place all of her trust in God.  Maybe you're going through a storm that is similar, maybe you're feeling like God has potentially forgotten about you.  I watched a sermon by Pastor Joel Osteen this past Sunday that I really feel was a fabulous message.  He was speaking about how, when things in our life seem to be so bad and the struggles are so intense that we think we're going to be taken over by the storm, that's when we need to remember that God uses these situations to bring us to new levels with Him, and by fighting through the storm, we're headed to victory.  He spoke of how the devil will easily leave us alone if we are making the decision to accept defeat and go with the flow of wherever this storm takes us.  I think my favorite thing that he said was that the devil especially tries to interfere with your life when you become a threat to him.  When God is lifting you up to new levels, the devil is going to try to plant that doubt in your mind that says you can't do it.  My prayer is that you will have someone in your life to encourage you the way my friend encouraged me, and that in the end, you will come out victorious because you truly did put your trust in God and you laid your burdens at the foot of the cross.

It was because of my decision to do that very thing that I can look down today and no longer see my feet, because this baby is growing steadily inside of me - and that is one of the biggest blessings that God has ever given me!

If you have time, please take a moment and say a prayer for my friend and her family, that they will see God's direction through this journey and they will come out victorious in the end.  I know that is my prayer for them, and I know they would appreciate those prayers from you as well!

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Don't forget that you have a new chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card, sponsored by BlogHer and Kellogg's.  Just visit my review blog to enter!

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's Impossible ...

Just a quick update on life, pregnancy, kids and all fun things related.

- I am almost 31 weeks pregnant and am growing quite a bit.  My brother, Tory, confirmed this by telling me I'm starting to look huge (thanks Tor .. you're the best!).  I didn't mind, I know he meant it lovingly!  :)

- All of the kids are finally getting into their back-to-school routine and seem to be enjoying it.  Claire is in 7th grade, Iain is in 5th grade, Ellis is in 4th grade and Colin is in his second year of preschool (we enrolled him when he was three).  I am absolutely LOVING the structure that our new schedule holds!

- Iain and Ellis are both in fall soccer and are enjoying it!  This hot-flashing pregnant woman is enjoying it as well, as it hasn't been too cold to enjoy their games!

- I have successfully reached a point where it's impossible for me to go through the day without getting something or another on my shirt.  Either I'm a lot more clumsy in my eating, or my belly is just hitting everything that is in front of me (which is oftentimes in the kitchen) and getting stained.  I've given up on trying to change my shirt ... who needs to dirty more than one shirt in a day?!  :)

- Our family is going to the Twins game tomorrow night at Target Field.  This will be the first time any of us (except for Monte) has been to a game in the new stadium.  We're quite excited .. though Iain did mention something about not enjoying the Twins or the Indians (who they're playing), and that he just may wear his Phillies jersey in protest.  We agreed that would be fine.  :)

- I'm loving everything about this fall weather and can't seem to get enough of it!  I've got the itch to get out my fall decorations and "fall it up" around here!  I'm about half-way there ... the decorations have made their way from my basement up into my living room .. now just to set them out!

- I'm out of updatey things to write about!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Or So I Thought

"I am by no means a morning person."

This is a quote that I have been known to say quite frequently.  I don't enjoy waking up early.  I'm typically still rather tired and don't want to chat with people or have to do anything but crawl back into bed.  I've always assumed that I was not, in any way, a morning person ... until recently.  You see, on Tuesday of this past week I got up around 6:30am, got ready and started my day by 7:30.  We were having someone stop by the house early in the morning, thus the reasoning for me getting up early.  The catch is that Tuesday was quite a productive day for me, which is surprising!

Fast forward to this morning.  My eyes opened at 5:20am.  Once again, I decided it made more sense to get up and get ready for the day since I was already awake then to try and make myself fall back asleep and risk having a groggy day.  So, after allowing myself some time to truly wake up, I got out of bed and was ready for the day by about 6:45am!  It is now 11:07am and I have done three loads of laundry, vacuumed the floors, given Colin breakfast and helped him get ready and am now about to enjoy a mid-morning snack.  I think getting up early helps me to be extremely productive, and allows me to veg out in the afternoon when the tiredness hits.

Maybe I was wrong ... maybe I really AM a morning person; but shhhhhhh ... don't tell anyone! ;)

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Don't forget to visit my review blog to enter the contest (sponsored by BlogHer and Kellogg's) and have a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Win a $100 Visa Gift Card

Want a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card?  Visit my review blog for a chance to win, sponsored by Kellogg's and BlogHer!!

I know I've been absent from blogging, but I do promise to return to the bloggy world again soon!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What Defines You?

By definition, I am:

- A child of God, saved by grace and growing in faith each and every day.
- A wife to the most amazing man I have ever known.
- A step-mother to four absolutely fantastic kids.
- A mother-to-be to one little boy who loves to kick!
- A daughter.
- A sister.
- A step-sister.
- A friend (thanks for the reminder Shawn!) :)
- A homemaker.

These are things that I know are facts about myself - these are the things that help to define my identity.  While there are many other things that I know about myself, they are not necessarily as defining of who I am as they are potential character traits.  Those things include:

- Quick to love unconditionally.
- Quick to forgive.
- Overly anal about (oftentimes very stupid) things.
- A perfectionist, though nowhere near perfect.
- Occasionally too hard on my kids, forgetting that they, too, are not perfect and sometimes forgetting to allow them to just enjoy being kids.
- A lover of laughter.

It is these traits that cause me to continually be growing and learning more about my role in this life.  I want to be remembered for being a woman who is strong in her faith and cherishes her relationship with God.  I want to be remembered as a woman who loved her family unconditionally and lavished that love upon them.  A woman who had patience to give out abundantly and grace to forgive unendingly.  There are things about my character that I do not like (i.e. being too hard on my children) and those things are areas of my life that I continue to strive to grow in.  I pray about them and ask for God to direct me and to show me the additional areas where I need to grow.  The funny thing about asking this question is the fact that, no matter how many times I seem to ask it, there is ALWAYS an answer and always an area of my life that I need to grow.

I won't settle for complacency in my life.  I am striving to make more defining facts about myself that are in line with the Word of God and with His will for my life.  I am not perfect and am striving to not expect perfection from myself.  I am growing and I am learning, and for now, I'm okay with that!

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Don't forget to visit my review blog for another chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card, sponsored by Kellogg's and BlogHer!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Parenting With Compassion

There are times in my short-lived parenting life that I realize I am learning the importance of parenting with compassion, especially when it comes to disciplining.  Last night was a prime example of the need for more compassion and understanding.  You see, Monte and I were out on a date night (can you say "Costco here we come!"?) and Claire was watching her younger brothers.  All was going well until my cell phone rang.  Due to the fact that we were in an extremely loud restaurant at the time, I had to step outside to take the call.  It was Claire calling me because she had a situation on her hands that she didn't know how to deal with.  See, Iain and Ellis had some friends over (strike number one: no friends are allowed at our house if there isn't an adult at home), and she said that they were all downstairs in the boys' room (strike number two: definitely no friends allowed in the house when there are no adults at home) making prank phone calls.  So, I asked her if I could talk to Iain, and the conversation with him wasn't extremely pleasant.  He admitted that he and a couple of friends were in his room, but that they were making prank phone calls and he was just laughing about it.  I explained to him that they are not to use the phone for anything but calling their parents (if necessary) and that he was to put the phone back and to tell his friends it was time to go.  Then I asked to talk to Claire.  It was in the passing of the phone that I heard Iain loudly say, "guys you have to go home because Claire is being her usual self again."

So, I asked to talk to Iain again and made him correct what he said and tell his friends that they had to go home because what they were doing was not okay by any standards and that it had nothing to do with Claire (that she was doing exactly what she should in informing dad and I of what was going on).  I then returned to the restaurant, Monte and I paid our bill and we proceeded on our way home.

It was during the ride home that I really believe we were the most productive in our parenting than we have ever been.  You see, both Monte and I have a tendency to yell at the kids when they've done something wrong, or when we're feeling frustrated with them.  I know for myself, this is a trait inherited from my father, as he was one who yelled at us quite frequently, and it's not one that I am proud of nor is it one that I want to pass down to my children.  So, Monte and I discussed how we were going to handle the situation and what the boys' punishment would be.  Upon arriving at home, we called the boys upstairs and made them wait at the table for us as we unloaded the car from our Costco trip.  We then sat down with them and asked them to explain what had happened and how things transpired.  During this discussion, we let them know the areas that they should have made a different decision, and let them know how, while they were not the ones making the calls, the calls were being made from their house and by their friends - both of which would NEVER be allowed if Monte or I were home.  The boys both said they knew they wouldn't be able to do something like that if we were home, and we expressed the need for them to know that they need to make decisions as if we were at home all the time.

The talk continued for about 10 minutes, after which we issued their punishment (no screen time [i.e. TV, computer or video games] for one week) and sent them to bed.  Monte went downstairs to tuck them in and I proceeded to Colin's room to get him some medicine and tuck him into bed, and then to see Claire off to bed as well.

This morning when the boys woke up they were still a little bit emotional from everything that had transpired the night before.  I spent some time hugging and loving on both of them, expressing how much dad and I love them and that it is because we love them that we punish them when they do something they aren't supposed to.  I also let them know that they owed an apology to their sister for disrespecting her while she was in charge (which they agreed and gave truly heartfelt apologies to her!).  I then told them that we don't need to dwell on what happened, we need to just abide by our punishment and make sure that we go forward with our best intent on making better decisions.

Since then, there has been such an amazing peace inside of me over the fact that we didn't yell at them or freak out at them, we rationally talked to them and I really think the message was more effective.  From now on, when things happen and kids have to be disciplined, if I'm feeling frustrated/mad/overwhelmed/stressed by the situation, I'm giving myself a time-out first to sort through my emotions until I'm level-headed enough to calmly talk to my kids, because the end result is so much more positive!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happy (Late) Birthday Iain!

This past Sunday, our Iain boy turned 11.  He started off the day waking up in a tent at Lake Carlos State Park (our family was camping this past weekend).  He ate some breakfast, he fished, he played with his cousin and he got to ride home in the truck.  He then invited the neighbor boys over for a baseball game, pizza and cake.  He also got this awesome jersey for his birthday present from dad and me:


Iain is a big Phillies fan ... not so much a Twins fan!



Then on Monday we went to his aunt Connie's house where we enjoyed delicious burgers, potato salad and corn on the cob .. followed by some more fabulous birthday cake.  I think we have a happy 11-year-old on our hands, and a very successful birthday indeed!

Iain, my prayer is that you will always walk in God's love and keep the beautifully sensitive and loving heart that you have.  I'm so proud of the boy that you are and love you very much!



-- * Don't forget to visit my review blog for your chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card, sponsored by BlogHer and Kellogg's. * --

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Phew!

Good news came my way yesterday!  The news: I absolutely do NOT have gestational diabetes and can continue to enjoy my Special K bars as frequently as I would like to have them! :)  Now that I'm back on a more regular eating schedule (considering that fasting before my appointment completely threw my system off), I'm really enjoying the thought of preparing meals for the weekend and baking goodies for Iain's birthday (which comes up on Sunday).  Yesssssss .... 'tis a good day!

So, today consists of the kids and I heading out to do some school shopping, along with preparing some goodies for the weekend.  I may be out of touch for awhile again, but I promise that I am going to be back more consistently very soon!

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Don't forget to visit my review blog for a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card (sponsored by BlogHer and Kellogg's).


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

27 Weeks

Sometimes I feel as if I am on a whirlwind ride that is going so fast that I will miss everything if I blink; other times I wonder if I will ever move forward in this pregnancy!  It seems like so long since I wrote this post when I was only 21-weeks along, yet here I am at 27 weeks and I'm feeling completely amazed at how much has changed!


The biggest change, aside from the size of my belly, is the fact that I have switched OB's.  I know it's not common to change doctors in the middle of your pregnancy, but Dr. T. (the OB I was previously seeing) only delivers at a hospital that is roughly an hour drive from my home in good traffic.  Imagine a traffic jam or a snowy November day and I all-of-a-sudden wasn't so comfortable going so far away from home to have this little guy.  So, regretfully, I talked to Dr. T. about how I was feeling and informed him that I would like to transfer to an OB who is closer to my home.  I say "regretfully" because I truly loved Dr. T. and feel like he has made this pregnancy experience a very enjoyable one.  However, he was completely understanding and made a recommendation for me to see an OB who is much closer to my home.  I saw this new OB (Dr. M.) for the first time on Monday and I feel total peace about the switch I made.  Dr. M. took a lot of time to answer questions, to make sure I was comfortable with the switch and to be of any help I needed.  He also had obviously spent time reading through my medical records that had been sent over from Dr. T., which I greatly appreciated, as it made me feel as if he truly cares and I'm not just another random patient who's having a baby.


The only downer about my appointment on Monday was that I failed my initial glucose test (testing for gestational diabetes) and had to go back there on Tuesday morning for the three-hour-long follow-up test.  I really can't complain, because the test wasn't awful and I got to spend three hours watching HGTV in the waiting room; the only downer was that I wasn't supposed to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before - so I went a full 12 hours without any food in me.  To say I was ready to pass out by noon is no exaggeration!  Thankfully I had brought a few granola bars along to my appointment and scarfed them down in a hurry on my way home.  Once I got home, I followed up my granola bars with a huge plate of spaghetti and a three-hour nap.  It's amazing the toll that fasting took on my body, and I'm thanking God that He was holding me throughout it all, because I fear I would have thrown up or passed out without His hand holding me (there was a LOT of praying going out from me during my appointment, as I wasn't feeling all that well).  So, my results of this test will come back today and I will be able to go forward from there - I'm just praying that they come back negative (meaning that I don't have gestational diabetes) and I can continue to enjoy this pregnancy without limitations.


Beyond that, all I can really say is that I'm still growing!  See?!


This is my attempt at a self-portrait!


Getting bigger every day ...


Holy moly check out that chubby wubby pregnant belly!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Win a $100 Visa Gift Card

Hello hello!  I know that I have been terrible at keeping up with blogging lately - and you really do have my apologies for that!  Life has been just completely crazy with keeping up with pregnancy, my kids, preparing for school and hosting guests in our home.  Regardless, I do promise to post an update tomorrow, complete with pictures!

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to my review blog and let you know that this is the third week that I am giving away a $100 Visa Gift Card, sponsored by Kellogg's and BlogHer.  All you have to do to enter to win is go to my blog post and leave a comment!

More to come tomorrow ... I promise!! :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Challenge of Blogging

Life is busy.  This is no secret to any of you, I'm sure.  The thing about life being so busy is that it makes it extremely difficult to find time to get online and update my blog as frequently as I would like to.  There are often many blogging topics running through my head that I want to write about, but finding the time to do it seems to be almost impossible!  The irony of not updating my blog is that it's almost like cutting off communication with some of my dearest friends - the result of which is people oftentimes growing concerned or wondering if they can help you out in any way.

Yes, keeping up with a blog is a very difficult thing, especially during summer vacation.  I feel like I'm taking time away from my kids when I spend time online trying to get a blog post up.  Like right now, my oldest three are outside playing baseball together and Colin is standing in front of me doing a dance to the song that his lullaby lamb is playing.  Is that a cry for my attention?  Potentially!  So, for now I leave you with this simple post letting you know that life is crazy right now and I am hoping to be able to find time to blog again soon.

Praying that you are all enjoying your final weeks of summer!

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On a side note, I am again doing a review sponsored by Kellogg's and BlogHer, and once again you have a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card.  All you have to do is visit my review blog here and leave a comment on THAT blog.  Any comments left on this blog (My Beautiful Day) do not qualify for the giveaway.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Win a $100 Visa Gift Card

I have been selected to participate in a review program sponsored by BlogHer and Kellogg's.  The exciting part of this review is that I get to give away a $100 Visa Gift Card to one of my readers!  To enter, visit my reviews blog here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Things He Says

Tonight, after eating more than my (and the baby's) fair share of dinner, I sat back in my chair and said, "oooohhhhhh .... my belly feels big and fat" to which Colin looked at me with a very serious expression and replied:

"Because it is."

Oh the things that come out of that boy's mouth!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Road Tripping With Slug Bugs, PT Cruisers and Cows

It's no secret that a road trip, while often quite enjoyable, can also get to be quite long.  Especially on the drive back home, when all of the anticipation of where you're going has diminished and you're just longing to be in your home again.  A few years before I married Monte, my brother Tory introduced me to a road trip game that sounded completely bizarre, but I have to admit it: I'm hooked!  The game is "I Spy a Cow".  The basic concept is that you want to spy cows along the drive before any other passengers in the car see them.  The catch is that, while you may spy an entire herd of cows, it only counts as one cow - in other words, you may not count more than one cow in the same pasture.  On top of that, if anybody happens to spy something that is NOT a cow (i.e. a horse) and mistakingly calls it a cow, they go back in points by one cow.  The big catch, however, is that you can clear all other players of any cows they had earned by simply spying a graveyard and calling it out before the other passengers.  When you spy these things, you MUST use the entire phrase of "I spy a cow!" or "I spy a graveyard" in order to earn these cow points.  The cow also must be able to be seen by other passengers to be verified that you're not making up cows in the midst of your road trip delusion!  Sound confusing, or just plain dumb?!  Don't think that about it - while I know it sounds strange and truly a waste of time, it makes road trips go by SO MUCH FASTER!  Monte and I play this every single time we take a road trip.  Granted, it's usually more fun to play with someone who doesn't share a checkbook with you (as our penalty for the loser is that they have to buy lunch), but even if you don't have a reward set in place, it's an amazing game and a great passer of time!

Our kids have come to expect this game from us, and Colin even tries to play along too, though with his own version where he spies "cow yokes".  After hearing him play this for awhile the other night, we asked him what he meant by cow yoke, and he explained that he was talking about the thing that goes around the cows to keep them in the field (he was spying fences!).  It is all too funny!

Another very common road trip game that my family plays is slug bug.  This is one that I choose not to participate in, as my ever-so-sweet-and-innocent daughter, Claire, punches far harder than she realizes and I have had the bruises to prove it!  While walking down to the park together one day, one of the kids spotted a VW Bug and called out the slug bug and tapped (our new rule - no hitting, just tapping!) their sibling.  Monte made a sly comment about the fact that there should be other things you can do too, like pull someone's ear each time you see a PT Cruiser, or kick them in the shins each time that you see an ATV.  Well, unfortunately, my children thought this would be a GREAT idea - and the ear-pulling began!

I'm just thanking God that we haven't seen any ATVs along our path! :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Letter to MWOP Readers

For those who are unaware, MWOP (MckMama Without Pity) is a blog that was created to "expose the lies" that blog readers feel MckMama is telling.  While I have never been a follower of this blog, I have been directed to it a couple of times, as a few of my friends had mentioned via email that I was being discussed in the comments by readers of MWOP.  Today, after the birth of MckMama's fifth child, I was horrified at some of the things that were being said, and thus, this letter was formed.

Dear MWOP Readers,

I don't know you, and it's very likely that you don't know me, but considering the fact that the topics of your discussion have involved me and have involved things that are dear to my heart, I'm feeling that it's time to speak up and set some things straight.  In the few times that I have visited your blog I have witnessed countless attacks against MckMama for things she has said or done that don't line up in your mind.  While I would prefer to remain a background image and not stick my neck out there, some things have been said that absolutely need to be corrected, and thus I am raising my voice and saying them.

First, yes, I am MckMama's former neighbor.  I still live up the street from their lake home that was foreclosed on.  It has been mentioned that people assume that Jennifer and I are no longer friends because they foreclosed on their home at the same time that my husband and I were trying to sell our home, and because of their actions I must be "pissed" at them.  While I will admit that my husband and I were disappointed to see them allow their home to be foreclosed on, it wasn't anything that generated those assumed feelings of hatred.  Yes, our home was up for sale at that time and, while some interest was shown by potential buyers, we decided in the end that the heart of our family is still right here where we live, and it made more sense for us to invest the money that we'd saved into putting an addition on our current home and make it more functional than to uproot our family into a new home.  Our decision had nothing to do with the market effect that naturally happened because of their foreclosure, but had everything to do with the best interest of our family.

I have also seen mention of the fact that I have removed Jennifer's blog from my blogroll and the assumption was made that we just must not be friends anymore.  I can't really tell you why I removed her from my blogroll, because I don't specifically have a reason for that - I guess I just felt that it was the right thing to do, as I wasn't an avid reader of her blog anymore.  However, I don't blame our friendship dissolving on anything but the natural parting of ways when they moved.  Yes, they moved to a home that is only about one mile from my sister's home (whom I visit rather frequently), and we have gotten together a couple of times since they moved, but taking into account the fact that she has five young children and I have four children (with number five on the way), our schedules are seemingly too busy to make it work out for us to get together.  Guess what?  That's okay!  It was easier for us to maintain a friendship when we were neighbors because of our close proximity, but I'm not crushed over the fact that, as mothers, we are both too busy to maintain that friendship.  I don't dislike her, I don't disrespect her ... it's just a friendship that fizzled and faded away.

More than anything I want to clear up the assumptions that are continually made that "Stellan wasn't as sick as MckMama made it appear".  It bothers me that people have the gumption to make a statement like that.  I saw the pain that Jennifer went through as her precious babe was hospitalized time after time and I saw how it tore her up to have to be dealing with that.  I visited Stellan in the PICU at Children's once while driving Israel's mom up there (though I left within 10 minutes of arrival, since immediate family members are the only ones who are supposed to be there) and I guarantee you that the severity of his illness was not something that she dramatized.  I hate that people have it in them to throw out assumptions like that, stating that she only wants money and gifts and she feeds off the praises of her "sheeple".  It takes me to a place of frustration with all bloggers and makes me wonder if anybody is as genuine as they present themselves to be.  If we are so much better than she, why is it that we have all the time in the world to spend on this blog and bash her?

Today of all days can you just back off for awhile?  Allow her to enjoy the feeling of being a new mom again, allow her to revel in the beauty of her newest son, allow her to post whichever pictures of him she feels like and don't criticize her for the ones that she chooses!!  I encourage you to take a hard look at what you're doing and find a better outlet for yourself; go spend more time with your own children, take up a new hobby or just walk away from the computer and find something better to do.  When we sit on this side of the computer screen and jump to conclusions about someone, it makes us no better or worse than that person ... it just makes us snarky women, and no matter what you can say, that doesn't look good on anyone.

" ... he who is without sin among you, let them throw a stone at her first." - John 8:7b

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Noises ...

I have learned that noises truly annoy me.  Not the little noises that go bump in the night ... not even the noises of my kids fighting with each other, or one of them crying.  The noises that annoy me are the white noises - the ones that are a constant background.  Even music, after awhile, becomes white noise that annoys me.  I've learned this more and more about myself recently and I have discovered just how much I love the quiet.  The problem?  My husband is just the opposite.  When he gets home from work the first thing he does (after he kisses me hello!) is to go and turn the radio on.  He LOVES music .. and noise doesn't really bother him all that much.  I'm one of those people who want the radio off in the car if we've been on the road for a long time and it's been going the entire time.  Thankfully, though, I am not the control freak who turns it off and tells my husband to deal with it!  He is respectful of me as well, so often when I'm feeling like the white noise is too much, we will just turn the volume down a bit and we both win.

So I'm wondering - am I truly a rarity in this situation or are there more people out there like me who don't appreciate white noise?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A First-Time Family Experience

While it can be said that both Monte and I have gone camping in the past, and the boys (Iain and Ellis) have technically been camping (meaning they spent the night in a tent), our family as a whole had never been camping together - so that is what we did this past weekend!  We packed our Suburban to the brim and woke up early enough to have our family out on the road by 7:00am.  Destination: Itasca State Park.  We made a few stops on the way, including one at my sister's house to pick up the things her family was loaning us for our camping trip (as they tend to camp quite frequently).  When we got there, I knocked on their back door and let myself in.  I was greeted by my brother-in-law, Martin, and my niece, Khloe, who ran up and gave me a huge hug the moment she saw me!  It was all too sweet! :)  So, Khloe in my arms, we headed outside to get the screen tent, grill basket, air pump and air mattress that we were borrowing from them (let's face it - while the thought of camping was great, the thought of sleeping on the ground when I am almost six months pregnant was NOT great!).  We packed the stuff, said our goodbyes and were off yet again.  We arrived at Itasca a little after 11:00am, stood in line at camping registration for about 15 minutes and were put on a waiting list and told to come back in an hour to see if they had a spot for us.  So we drove to the picnic site, took out our cooler and made sandwiches for the crew to pass the time.  Thankfully, when we drove back to check, they had a spot available for us.  Thus began our weekend camping adventure!

We set up the tent .. and the boys played in the boxes that the tent came in!

The boys played catch with the baseball .. and water bottles .. to keep themselves busy.

We then hiked down to the fishing dock where the boys enjoyed some time together.

We then set up the screen tent (the one we borrowed from Tanya and Martin), which we later found we were SO grateful for, as it rained quite a bit that afternoon into the next day, so it was a good place to hang out and play cards while we waited for the weather to pass!

We took a hike in the pouring rain to the headwaters of the Mississippi River.  Iain and Ellis enjoyed playing in the water while the rest of us huddled under a nearby tree!

Though it must be said that Iain and Ellis were quick to join us when we pulled out the snacks!

The next day we did a lot more hiking around the park, including this stop at Peace Pipe Vista.

We stopped and saw the largest White Pine Tree .. though I don't know if it was world's largest or America's largest or ... ?!

We also went to the fire tower, though once we got there I was the only one brave enough to climb to the top ... everybody else waited for me on the ground!

See the little red dot in the middle of the picture?  That's Claire waiting for me at ground level.  The white dot to her left is Ellis sitting on the bench!

Ellis enjoyed the breeze of having the windows open while touring through the park (as there were some sites that were more than 10 miles from our campsite, so we decided it would be best to truck to those ones!).

The rest of the time was spent cooking food over the fire, playing catch with the neighboring campers, playing cards, eating, and just hanging out by the fire ...

... and with Colin telling us it was time to stop taking his picture!

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