Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Frances' Hope

I just got back from going to visit the nursing home with the kids. Our church gets young children together each week to do some kind of a service project. The past few weeks we have visited the nursing home. I wish I had some pictures to go with my stories of today, but I had my hands so full with Milla that I couldn't do much of anything else.

Of course, both this week and last, Milla was a hit! Last week, many of the residents said how cute they thought "he" was, so this week, I dressed her up in her girliest outfit and bow so that there would be no confusion about her gender. :) I think I did something right, because everyone commented on what a cute girl she was! Lots of remarks were heard echoing through the dining hall such as "What cute hamhocks!" "What a butterball!" and "Isn't she a chunkers?" Milla's bare little feet and legs were touched, held, and kissed by some of the old ladies as they reminisced about their own children. Some of the residents gave her tissue paper flowers and some asked me to make her "dance" for them. (She likes to jump all over the place right now, so she brought smiles to their faces as she jumped again and again on the dining table.) She also growled, squealed and handed out smiles freely.

My heart aches for so many of the people who reside in nursing homes. These people were once just like me. They had jobs, children, vital and active lives. Now, however, many of these people are living out their final days in a place without their friends or family around them, while the world continues to go on outside the locked and alarmed doors. I know that many of these people have loving family members who made the difficult decision to put their loved ones in these homes out of necessity. Many of these people are blessed to have family members who visit them daily. This is good. However, there are many lonely people whom no person visits on a regular basis. These people are aching to be talked to, loved, and touched. It breaks my heart to think of this. I can hardly stand it. I believe that this is what the church is called to do, to show love to these people and to learn from them.

I want to share some things that I noticed while at the nursing home. When I first walked in I saw an elderly lady, "Frances", sitting alone on a sofa in the lobby area. Frances immediately noticed Milla. Her face lit up! She asked me if she could see my baby. I went and sat next to her and discovered that she was sharp! She had a wonderful story to tell me. I listened intently as she told me about her life. She had lost a husband in a car crash when she was exactly my age, leaving her with four young children. She remarried a man who proved to, in her words, have been "a good man with too many problems to stay married". This second husband walked out on his marriage, leaving her with SEVEN young children. One of the children died at age two of diphtheria. Finally, she met and married a wonderful Marine. This man helped her to raise her six children. She was married to him for twenty years until the time of his death. She said that she had been in the nursing home for a couple of months and was trying hard to adjust to her new life there. She had the most positive outlook and talked about how she was prepared to die, but didn't want to spend her last days lying around, watching tv, and lying in a bed somewhere. She gets up each morning, puts on her makeup, fixes her hair, gets dressed beautifully, and plans her day. Frances told me that during her life she has learned that whenever something bad happens, God always sends something good to follow.

There was something in her pleasant, cheerful demeanor that reminded me alot of my mom's mother. She seemed to face life with a smile, taking life's hardships with hope for the future. Her own daughter was, at that moment, dying of cancer. She asked me to pray for her daughter. She said that she can face uncertain days because she has hope for the future. Where did she get this hope? As I turned to leave, I noticed a Bible sitting on the sofa beside her. Of course! Frances was a Christian! It was obvious, but confirmed by the presence of the Bible sitting beside her.

Frances was amazing, and, I thought, truly beautiful! I enjoyed being around her. I really enjoyed our visit and told her that I would try to come visit her in a few weeks. She was such an encouragement to me. So much can be learned from older, wiser Christians. Sweet Frances had much advice to offer, let me tell you! I visited with her for about half an hour.

I turned to walk into the dining room where our church group was gathered. The kids were making Hawaiian leis and tissue paper flowers for the residents. As I walked, I met a grumpy looking woman in a wheelchair who gave me a stern look and uttered these words... "Time...time...Nobody has the time...but time keeps on going on and on...horrible, just horrible!" She frowned at me. She had frown lines on her forehead. She wheeled around unhappily in her wheelchair. I looked at her and smiled. She didn't return the smile. She seemed unhappy with her day or maybe even her life. She looked to be about the age of Frances, but more sickly. She probably wasn't in ill health as much as the grumpiness took the beauty right out of her. I don't know about her life at all, but I do know that she seemed to be bitter and angry, so unlike sweet Frances, who, despite life's trials, had such a hope for the future.

Lots of things have been on my heart lately. I have never followed the goings-on in Hollywood. There are very few famous people that I've ever considered to be role models. Even though I didn't know him personally, or look up to him in any way, I was very saddened and disturbed by Michael Jackson's death. Seriously. Things like this traumatize me. I told Josh that I didn't know why I was grieving so much for Michael Jackson. He said that he didn't think I was grieving, but that I just felt extremely sorry for him. Josh knows me well.

I feel such a sense of sadness for troubled people who live without hope for the future and then die, utterly miserable. There are so many people in this world who live their lives only for themselves, searching, searching for something to make them happy only to discover that they are never truly happy in the end. They don't have hope. They don't have joy. They are miserable...and then their time runs out.

On Sunday our preacher quoted Shia Labeouf in an interview that he did with Parade magazine. About actors Shia said, They’re all in pain. It’s a profession of bottom-feeders and heartbroken people,” “Most actors on most days don’t think they’re worthy,” he added. “I have no idea where this insecurity comes from, but it’s a God-sized hole. If I knew how, I’d fill it and I’d be on my way. WHAT?!? He identified it. He doesn't know how to fill it. So sad.

I may not be able to make much of a difference in the lives of all the stars in Hollywood. Many are such sad cases. I can pray for those people whom I come in contact with and try to show them that there is a better way to live life, and it is a free gift, that is the life devoted to Jesus. I am so thankful that I have this hope that does not disappoint. I want, so badly, for as many people as possible to have this hope that I have. It seems such a waste to live only for this world!

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

I'm sure this post has been a real downer. Maybe it has even been a little boring to you. Regardless, this has been on my mind and I felt the need to encourage you to live your life the way that God intends for you to live, for Him and for others and, like Frances, with joy and hope for the future!

Monday, June 29, 2009


God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fun With Cousins and A Fashion Show

A few weeks ago, we were blessed to have two extra special visitors come and stay at our house for a couple of days... Cousins Landon and Jonah got to come and hang out. Boy were my kids excited! Days with the five buddies were full of fun! We spent a little time inside and a LOT of time outside. The kids played "colored eggs" in our back yard. I used to play this game at my cousins' house when I was a little girl. "Colored eggs" is a spin on the game of tag, made even more fun by the water sprinkler that they had to run through to run around the bases. SO MUCH FUN! They ate it up! I just love these special boys and always welcome their visits to our house. I am so glad that my kids have cousins that are close to their own age.

Here a few pics from one of the days that they were down. I made everyone take a nap that day, with the promise of water fun when they woke up. Jonah looked SO adorable sleeping that I had to take a picture after he had been sound asleep for several hours. He was slow to wake up at first...

He quickly jumped into action, though, when he heard that we were going outside to play in the sprinkler... :)

Landon looked so cute in his pirate swimsuit. The boys had so much fun together.

Milla lounged in her bouncy seat on the sidelines. She didn't want to get in the sprinkler, and wore her cover-up, for modesty's sake. :)

Running through the sprinklers...I had to include several pictures of the kids playing Colored Eggs. They were laughing the whole time they played. I thought these pictures captured their mood so well.

Jonah changed his mind about the sprinkler once we were outside. He hung out with Milla and me in the shade and watched the other kids running around our back yard.

We miss you Landon and Jonah! Come hang out with us again soon!

And now...for some random pictures. When I uploaded this group of pics onto my computer, there were several wierd ones in the bunch.

Milla is used to being held all kinds of different ways by Mary Alice and Major. She is so heavy that they sometimes have a hard time holding her. The way Mary Alice is holding her looks a little uncomfortable, but Milla didn't seem to mind.

Milla wears clothing most of the time, I promise. Every girl needs to dress down every once and a while, right?

Not for long, though. Milla is a girly girl at heart. Here she is before church a couple of Sundays ago.

My three special gifts from God... It is rare to have a shot of the three of them together. I love this picture!

Superman and Mr. Incredible... They look pretty fierce...maybe just a little silly? Just where did they learn how to make faces like this?

Maybe Milla taught them how to make those faces?

Or maybe it was their Aunt Tessa?

Our little Milla JoJo trying to cram some tasty fingers into her mouth...Finger lickin' good!

Yesterday, Mary Alice and I made a pair of pants for Milla. Mary Alice decided to get out Milla's best accessories and have a "fashion show". Here she is... Instead of on a runway...she is sitting in front of her crib. She is modeling a white stretchy hat with a bow...

And Miss Milla sporting her new pants with a red hat and black flower thingie...

It looks like she has a bird sitting on her head in this picture. The kids played this little game with Milla until she protested being a fashion model. No more catwalk! She just wanted to roll around on the floor.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Three Favorite Fathers

I have been blessed to have these three amazing fathers in my life.


When I was a little girl, I used to pray every night that God would give me someone like you. You are more than I could have ever hoped for and much more than I deserve. Thank you for being such a good Daddy to our children. Thank you for putting God first in our marriage. Thank you for the blessing that you are to our children by making time to teach them about the Bible. Thank you for loving me more than yourself. I am so glad that we are learning about being parents together. The kids think you are the greatest! I am so proud of you!


Thank you for raising Josh to be the man that he is today. Thank you for taking that stubborn, hard-headed little boy and teaching him how to use his talents to serve God and others. The time you spent training Josh will impact generations. The man that I love best is who he is today partly because of your influence and prayers. Some of the characteristics that I love best in Josh I know he learned from years spent observing you. Thank you for being an example of faithfulness, for your giving heart, and for your deep love for your family. I am glad that my kids have a Grumpy who will drop everything to be with them. Thank you for the strong foundation that you built for Josh. I am so thankful that Josh had a father like you.


I couldn't have asked for a better father. You are all of the things that I love most rolled up into one. You are quirky and I love it! I think you are the funniest man I've ever seen. You can always make me laugh. I often find myself repeating silly little "Dadisms" to the kids and smile because I remember you saying them to me when I was little. Thank you for loving Mom and making sure that we always saw that. The gift of a secure and happy home is priceless. Thank you for your selfless heart. Thank you for caring enough to do things the hard way because you valued what was best for us more than what was easiest for you. You are a giver. I am glad that God blessed you with so many children. You have six little arrows that you have sharpened and made ready to fly into spiritual battle. I want to be just like you. I love you!

"Children are a gift of the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate."

Happy Father's Day to three very special fathers! I hope you each have a wonderful day and know just how loved and appreciated you are!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ready To Come Up For Air!

What a weekend we have had here! I'm exhausted! I feel TOTALLY and completely worn out!

Here's what we did this weekend:

Friday evening-
1) Dinner with our old Dallas small group
( This involved making a lemonade pie, nursing in the car, traveling slowly across the metroplex in rush hour traffic in a HOT car while trying to keep the frozen pie from melting, but was SO worth it to see our old friends again!)

2) Drove to Josh's parents' house to spend the night and stayed up way too late!


1) Went shopping almost all day with Josh. (Josh's parents kept the kids. SO nice!)
(We went everywhere looking for the perfect black dress. I was a bit disappointed when this dress was all sold out in every store in Dallas.
I finally found this little number at Banana.)

2) Ate at Tin Star, one of our favorite places to go on dates together.

3) Breathed a sigh of relief because I now have a dress to wear at my sister's wedding. It is scheduled to take place in a month.

3.5) Went into Williams Sonoma and used a gift card to buy a much coveted ice cream maker for myself. Let the ice cream making fun begin!!!

4) Started looking for the required footwear for the wedding. I discovered that it was a task that had to be momentarily abandoned, because it was much harder than I had anticipated! Josh showed much patience with me as I searched for the perfect pair of shoes. We used the rest of our time together to buy a wedding present for Tessa.

5) Left Grandparents' house around 6:00...and

6) Headed to the Botanical Gardens to help with my sister's bridal portraits
(While we were there, Taylor took some FABULOUS shots of my beautiful sister, Tessa. Can't show you those, but I can show you the funny pic She snapped of Milla girl. What a silly face!)

7)After the sun went down, ate at Panera with the family.

8) Finally arrived back home around 9:30...wondered what in the world the smell was that permeated our kitchen area? (The culprit was a milk spill that the kids had made the previous day and attempted to clean up, leaving a milk soaked hand towel on the floor.) Barf! Josh was sweet to unpack our car and help clean up the stinky mess. He also ironed the kids' clothes and set them out for church the next morning. What would I do without him?

9) Collapsed into bed, utterly exhausted

Quote of the night: (After spending most of a day in a HOT suburban, whose air conditioning works about as well as one of those Chinese hand held fans, Josh came in and, in a very serious tone, said, "Alright, this is the last summer that we are going to burn in our car." It just struck me as really funny! Seriously, though, I'm not hard to please. I will drive anything, but when a car's a.c. fails to work properly, I'm not a fan. :) For the last couple of years, the air conditioning hasn't worked well at all. This is fine during the months of October-May, but the rest of the year, it can get a little bit toasty.


1) Woke up at 6:00 a.m. to open our neighborhood pool and found that it had been trashed the night before! I spent my first hours of the day picking up other people's garbage and brooding over rude people and their ill-trained children.

2) Arrived back home and saw Mary Alice's smiling face as I walked in the door. My bad day automatically became great.:)

3) Made breakfast and started lunch, got myself and the kids ready for church

4) Arrived early for church, sat through an interesting and humorous VBS kickoff, laughed with Josh as we sat together in the training room at church, leaned on his arm and thought to myself how blessed I am to be married to him. :)

5) Took Milla to Bible class. (One of her teachers is sweet to e-mail us pictures of Milla each week along with a recap of how/what she did in Bible class. I look forward to receiving pictures in my inbox every Monday morning. Isn't she a sweet one?)

Surely you can tell from these pictures just how clever she is? :)

6) Came back home, wrapped Tessa's present, put finishing touches on lunch and ate with the fam (Josh cleaned up.)

7) Taylor swung by our house. Taylor, Mary Alice, Milla, and I rode to Tessa's wedding shower together. Side note: Taylor made the cutest cross stitch sampler for Tessa with their wedding date and everything. I always wished I had one of those.

8) Attended Tessa's shower. Laughed, visited with friends, showed off Milla, replied with a "No." to yet another person who asked me if I was pregnant. Man! Thought to myself that I may need to do take my fitness more seriously now that THREE people have asked me that question in the last couple of months. Sigh. (Really, though, I'm not bitter. It was just a simple mistake. Could've happened to any person, or even three persons.)

9) Went by the store on the way home to buy stuffed bears for VBS tonight

10) Ate a snow cone (This made me feel much better about the pregnancy weight! And, really, how many calories could shaved ice possibly have?)

11) Drove home.
(As I entered our neighborhood, I noticed a mega-HUGE party going on at the pool. I sincerely hoped that these party goers were more responsible than the hooligans who were at the pool on Saturday night...I will NOT be cleaning that mess up at 6:00 A.M. tomorrow. No way!)

12) Opted to stay home from VBS tonight. (Josh is taking the kiddoes while I stay home with one ultra tired Milla.)

I am off to bed!

Update: I totally ate my words about not cleaning up the pool area. When I arrived this morning to open the pool area, it was trashed AGAIN! I couldn't just leave it like that. I cleaned it up, followed by a strongly worded letter about personal accountability to the man in charge of our neighborhood pool. Some people are just so irresponsible!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Listen To This

My friend, Kim, posted this link on her blog. The woman in the video is Rachel, a young woman who is dying from cancer. This touched me deeply as she is a wife and mother of two young children. In the video, Rachel gives her testimony of a faith in God, our God, who remains loving and good despite the trials of life. The video is 54 minutes in length. If you were planning on watching your favorite sit-com or reality tv show, I recommend you watch Rachel's message instead. The kids and I watched it together and were greatly blessed.

Rachel's message

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Adventures In Babyfeeding

I will now discuss a subject that is close to my heart (literally). :) As I discovered after my most recent post, many people who read this blog are mothers of babies. After a little hestitation, I decided to go ahead and do it. Yes, I am going to go there. I am going to bring up an issue that strikes fear into the heart of every nursing mother, the dreaded "M" word. M-A-S-T-I-T-I-S...

After having this awful condition three times now, I feel that I am qualified to write a comprehensive report on the matter. I hope that the things I write may help someone who is unfortunate enough to stumble into the world of mastitis. It is a world where no woman should have to go, but, sadly, many are forced to enter.

Here is my experience... It all starts when things seem to be going great. For many women, it usually occurs during the first three months after having a baby. For me, however, it usually happens around four or five months. Just when the baby and I are starting to get comfortable with the whole nursing relationship, things take a nasty turn for the worse.

First, if you are lucky, you will discover a hard knot (a plugged milk duct) BEFORE it turns into mastitis. If you are able to identify this and head it off quickly, you may save yourself much agony. If, however, the knot progresses into full blown mastitis, you may have some work ahead of you if you wish to continue nursing your baby. If it is mastitis, the area will feel warm and will look red/pink. For me, by the time I have those symptoms, I feel like I've been run over by a truck and am already laying in bed underneath three or four quilts, alternating between shaking from the chills and burning up with a 103 fever. I would also be on antibiotics at this point.

Anyway...This time around, I was so sick that I could barely lift Milla for a couple of days. I had to call in my sister, Tessa, who came over to watch my kids while I rested and recovered.

I called a lactation consultant this time around. "Kathy" and I quickly achieved BFF status because she spent so much time on the phone with me. She patiently gave me many things that I could do to fix the problem.

Things I already knew to do:
1) Get in a hot bath. Try to massage out the knot.

2) Get lots of rest.

3) Nurse, nurse, nurse...

4) Take the baby to bed with you. (This was virtually impossible, especially with #2. Milla likes her own bed.)

5) Pump (Every nursing mom should have a quality one for times like this.

6) Point the baby's chin toward the knot.

Tips I learned from Kathy:

1) Alternate HOT and COLD compresses, while trying (in between) to massage out the knot
(Some pics of the two things that never left my side all week:

Frozen peas...and...my Origins Heat Wrap)

2) Instead of taking two ibuprofen every few hours, take one-half of an ibuprofen every hour. This helps to better reduce inflammation.

3) I had read that taking Lecithin can help to thin out your milk, making the plugged duct easier to unplug. Kathy told me, however, that Lecithin is found in none other than...EGGS. I hard boiled a dozen or so eggs and started eating eggs in the morning, eggs in the evening, eggs all the time.

4) Guess what else she recommended? Besides eating tons of eggs, I needed to load up on Vitamin C! She first suggested that I use a 24 hour time release Vitamin C that could be bought at my local health food store. If that wasn't easily accessible, though, (It wasn't.) she suggested this fun fizzy little drink. I drank this three times a day to help boost my immune system, so that it would work well to fight off the infection. This fizzy little supplement was much more exciting than a once-a-day pill anyway. I felt like I was having a little party each time I drank the fizzy orange Vitamin C. And, as an added bonus, it kept me hydrated.

5) I already knew that pumping was important to get rid of the plugged duct, but I had the technique down all wrong. Before talking with Kathy, I had been feeding Milla first, then pumping afterwards. Kathy explained that I needed to feed her on the affected side first, then, while I was feeding her on the healthy side, pump at the same time. This made for some interesting acrobatics as Milla struggled to play with this curious new toy beside her. In the end, I had to hold Milla on one side, pump on the other side, all while trying to keep the pump parts hidden underneath a blanket. She kept batting at the connecting tubes to the pump, disconnecting them, then looking up at me to see if I was smiling at her little game. I wasn't. What I learned, though, was that more milk could be expressed if you pump while feeding at the same time. When you are dealt the blow of mastitis, that is exactly what you want, more milk expressed, not less. Also, pumping can help you not to lose your milk supply and to build it up again after a bout with mastitis.

6) Last but not least was perhaps the most bizarre tip I received. At this point, I was so fatigued from trying to rid myself of this annoyance that I was willing to try anything! If she had told me to nurse while bicycling or eat fried bologna, I would have hopped on my bicycle with Milla and headed to the store to buy some of Oscar Mayer's best meat parts products. Thankfully, though, I was only given the tip of putting raw potato slices on the affected area. Guess what? It worked! Amazing! Who knew?

Things are slowly getting back to normal around here after about two and a half weeks of hard work. When I had mastitis with Mary Alice and with Major, things resolved much more quickly. This time was especially difficult to get through. We are working our way back to a sense of normal with Milla's eating habits. I am determined to do everything I can to ensure that this doesn't happen to Milla's food supply again. If it does, though, I compiled this handy little list of Kathy's Helpful Tips to help me through. :) I hope this wasn't too much information. This information was very helpful to me. I thought I would share what I had learned in hopes that it might benefit someone else who finds themselves stuck in this situation.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Dear Baby Wise,

Dear Old and Trusty Baby Wise book,

Today is the day that I have decided to throw you away. You have been a good friend, and, up to this point, a marvelous instruction manual on babies. Sorry old pal, but I am trusting my instincts this time around. Please don't be offended when I drop-kick your dog-eared self out the door. I am sorry, but you are no longer meeting my needs.

When Mary Alice was little, it was to you I turned to help me know how to feed her and get her to sleep through the night. Back then, I used to rely on you to show me how to watch the clock. Oh how I remember the days of carefully eyeing those minute hands, waiting, anticipating the next two and a half hour time period to elapse! I remember the notebook I used to keep lying beside you, filled with the tender sentiments of a fanatical mother. The notebook was filled with things like "Fed- 6:48-7:20" "Slept from 8:09-9:25" "Pooped 9/18/01") Ahhh memories... Alas, those days are long gone.

Like an old faithful friend, I picked you up and dusted you off again at the birth of Major. I frantically consulted your familiar pages for my every move. (How long am I supposed to keep you up before I put you down for a nap again? What is this feed-wake-sleep cycle thing? What about the 45 minute intruder?) I looked to you to help me decide my every move, confident that you would help me to get it right once again. You never disappointed.

I must confess that the stress of parenting three little ones and following your guidance has simply gotten to be more than I can bear. When I had only one, or even two little ones, reading up on your latest suggestions was easy. I had only to follow the instructions within your pages to achieve my baby care taking goals. Every problem had an answer that you so willingly provided. Now, however, with three children, I've found that scheduling my life with such devotion is no longer an option.

You see, the two and a half hour thing interferes with my other's children's activities. And, now that I am a mother of three, my brain no longer functions optimally. This makes reading your pages, much less, making sense of their contents virtually impossible. I can't seem to find a pencil around my house that isn't broken. All of my notebooks now are full of little scribbles of the artwork of children. And, to put it quite honestly, the whole scheduling thing just stresses me out! I am not the mother I used to be. I am a changed woman. I will have to just go with my gut this time around. There may be less sleep and too much feeding. I guess we will just "wing it" the best we can.

I will always be grateful to you for your help in the beginning. I will look back and remember those good old days with fondness. I am moving on now. I am over you.

Happy Mommy of Three