Sunday, May 31, 2009

Date Night!

The last several months in our Small Group, we have been watching some marriage videos. One that really hit home with us, the speaker said that Satan will do everything he possibly could to take away a couple's most important asset: time together. We started taking a look at our schedule and realized that if that was the case, then Satan was already getting a foothold on us. We noted that there were some weeks that we spent more time "together" via email or text than in real time conversation. We laughed at first, but sad is that?

So since then, we have been much more mindful about spending couple time together, not as Momma and Daddy, but as N and A the married couple. We've been keeping the television off more often. We've been working on chores together before we rest for the evening. And then this past weekend we asked N's parents to watch Monkey so we could get out on the town.

YES...a real live date night!

At the drop, Monkey didn't even bother saying good-bye...

He was too busy having a blast with Gramma and De-dah...

A shot of us on the way out...

We went to a great little place off Knox-Henderson called Fireside Pies. They had gluten-free pies! I ordered a gluten-free pizza with thinly sliced tomatoes, crimini mushrooms, black olives, carmelized red onions, and chopped homemade meatballs. One word: YUM-O!!! The crust was magnificent - thin, crispy on the edges and chewy on the inside. The price for my pizza alone was $21, but it was worth it. It's been years since I've eaten pizza "out" and it was an awesome experience all around. All the carbs didn't even send me over the edge with my GD sugar levels, so double Yay!

I wish I'd have gotten a picture of my beautiful pie, but I was too busy stuffing my face like a little monster. So here's a picture of the leftovers of which I ate for breakfast and lunch today...

We went to Starbucks down the street to have some drinks and I could sample the gluten-free Orange Valencia Cake. I only nibbled on it because I was afraid I'd pass out from the sugar. But it was lovely! As was the whole experience. We sat on the patio with our yummy drinks, kicked our feet up, and watched a gorgeous sunset. Yes, that big green mound on the bottom left of the picture is M2.

We went home, I took a bubble bath, and crashed. An awesome night all around!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Assumptions (with an addendum)

There are a few characters in my life that have somehow, somewhere, someway gotten the impression that I lean in a particular direction politically and religiously. I’m not sure where they would get this particular idea, as I have not disclosed to these folks how I feel about either discussion. Nor have they asked. But I feel the need to put a stop to the endless email forwards they consistently send me. Or, as I feel sometimes, the spam they assault me with. I’m just not sure how to do it without sounding completely catty or rude.

Could you please quit sending me these political emails screaming your current disdain for our President or other political/religious leader?

Or how about…

Please stop assuming that because I hang out with you or go to a specific church or hang out with a certain mutual friend, that we have the same political/religious belief.

Yeah, not so nice, huh?

Yes, I have many friends that have a particular religious and political slant. I have friends that are on the total opposite spectrum of those beliefs. Believe it or not, some of those friends worship under the same church roof! I love having different friends with different beliefs, because it teaches me both sides of the story and teaches me to respect differences. does not mean that I agree with every issue or doctrine, nor does it mean that I box myself in with a title of Republican, Democrat, Baptist, or any other label I could glue to my bumper. Why is it that with these type of titles, it’s always an all-or-nothing package? Especially since the definition of some of those titles can be totally different for different people. I don’t get it. Why is our world so black and white? Why have these characters assumed because I have a specific belief or tenet that they have the freedom to stick a title on me? It’s bothersome.

And as I write this, venting my own frustration, I am wondering…do I do the same thing to others? Do I stick titles or labels on someone because I have a tiny glimpse into their thoughts and assume they feel XYZ about other stuff too? I’m sure I do. Assumptions. Dangerous things. And suddenly wondering where I need to make my own amends…

EDITED TO ADD: Please do not worry that I'm speaking specifically of anyone that reads this blog. The folks that I have mentioned are not close friends, nor do they even know about this blog. So please don't worry about me pointing a finger at anyone of you readers through a blog blitz. I just happened to find my soap box and decided to stand on it specifically because I knew some of you would understand. :-)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Another Grandbaby in the M Family!

If you click here, you'll see that I'm an Auntie again! Woohoo!! Little JH joined the world last Sunday morning. He's so tiny and so adorable!

My son's namesake and his new family...

How adorable is this little guy??? He's so teeny-tiny!

My sweet brothers (twins) and their adorable boys...only six weeks apart. Practically twins themselves!

I imagine my parents are a little shell-shocked with having grandbabies born so close together. Hang on tight Mom and Dad! We still have another one coming!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Baby Dreams

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.

~ Sophia Loren, Women and Beauty

Boy, isn't that the truth?

I think Monkey woke up about 3:00/3:30 his morning…I can’t really remember now. He was just fussy at first, but eventually really crying and calling "Momma" like he was scared. I went into his room and patted the mattress and he immediately lay back down, but he didn’t really go back to sleep. I sat on the floor next to him for awhile, with my arm in the crib slat rubbing his back. He kept coughing and I could hear his nose sniffling. Every now and then his head would pop up and he’d go, “Nose, nose”, which he says when he wants to blow his nose. So I’d get a tissue and wipe it. He’d lie back down, but still not fall asleep. I knew as soon as I left he was going to cry, so I finally lied down next to his crib on some pillows. His request for a tissue happened three or four times over the course of an hour. At that point, I was getting really uncomfortable on the floor, so I scooped him up and took him into the living room with me, where we snuggled on Daddy’s recliner. He eventually went to sleep, but by then I was wide awake.

Two times after that, he’d wake up crying. Hard. He’d been dreaming of something bothersome. I’d always pat his arm or rub his cheek and snuggle him tight, so he’d known Momma was there. He’d turn his head into my chest and eventually his breathing would even out. Monkey is not a snuggler at all anymore, so the resentment over the lack of precious sleep disappeared. I knew this sweet moment was fleeting and in my sleepy stupor, started a prayer of thanksgiving. It's hard for me to think of anything anymore without this child on the fringes of my mind. It's like I'm perpetually distracted from work, home, sleeping...strange.

The last time he cried, it took awhile for him to settle. He cried so hard in his dream that he had that after-cry hiccup, in spite of still being asleep. It was so sad! I realize it’s a part of human nature, but I really hate that he has bad dreams. What on earth could be so awful that his tiny subconscious brain would make him dream and hiccup cry? I suddenly realized that the maternal instinct in me wants to protect him from every harm out there, real or imagined. We snuggled for a little while longer and eventually both fell into deep sleeps. I woke up again about 5:15 or so because he was stirring. I could tell he was getting uncomfortable in my arms and needed to really lie down, so I took him back to his bed.

When he finally woke up at the usual time, he was crabby and fussy while we got ready for work. All morning he was throwing tantrums or just out and out crying in misery. We were late rising, so unfortunately, Momma didn’t have enough time to really soothe or patience enough to be tender. Today he’s at N’s mom’s and I’m so glad. He’ll get loved on, explore and play to his heart’s content. His needs are never impatiently handled with Gramma…she is sweet, devoted and Monday’s are always about whatever he wants. What are Gramma’s for, right? When I called a little while ago, Gramma C said he was fine. Not fussy, not anything but curious, playful and sweet, like he always is. I was glad. Sometimes we all just wake up on the wrong side of the bed, even when we’re little people.

You know, even with tough mornings like this morning, I am just so in love with this little boy. While my impatient side is breathing a sigh of relief as he climbs into the car with Daddy this morning, my heart is craving him back in my arms as soon as he’s out of my sight and reach. If there is a cure for being this in love, I don’t even want it. I am perfectly content to be whole-heartedly distracted by this child!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

This Past Week in Pictures

I had the camera out a lot this week for just random stuff. I think it's because I know in a few short months, I won't have the time or energy to capture all the sweet things about our precious Monkey and his little brother. While I'm looking forward to meeting M2, I'm relishing in the moments of Monkey's last few days as an only child. Moments he'll probably never remember, but ones that I will.

Tandem mowing with Daddy...

"Watering" the oleander...

Showing off the yard tools to the cute neighbor girl. He's not sure why she's not more impressed...

Looked for some new recipes for Momma to try...

Rappin' out some tunes...

Learning how to balance...

I love these two guys!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Socks Are Long Gone

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning. - James 1:17

Do you ever outgrow that need to check them after they've slept for awhile?

Every single night since this little boy has entered into our lives, I sneak into his room after he's fallen asleep to just stare. And be in awe. And spend some one-in-one time with my Heavenly Father. This is where He draws me close to Him every evening. This...this is where I find myself the most comforted, the most humbled, the most encouraged in His presence...watching my son sleep.

I've been a firm believer that sometimes God relishes in our not expecting a specific blessing. For a long time, I had given up the dream of ever having a child, let alone a biological child. So I think our Heavenly Father took a special joy in handing us a gift that would totally blow our socks off. I'd like to think that he enjoyed handing to me such a funny, silly, ornery, excitable, active, chatterbox of a boy. It was more than I ever, ever expected!

So while I'm challenged with fears about adding another child to the mix, there is that part of me that is giddy with anticipation over what's to come. I'm sure it will be hard. I'm sure we'll be sleep deprived, overwhelmed and at times wonder whether or not we're going to get through the day. But I also know that in the mix of it all, we will be standing in awe over God's love and willingness to bless...just because He CAN.

I hope in those moments, that we remember that it truly is HIM that gives every good and perfect gift...that these children are not "ours", but His.

White Water Rafting

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed. Being pregnant, currently having a toddler, soon to add a newborn, working full-time, managing a household, maintaining a happy marriage, navigating around a new gestational diabetes diet (along with my GF/DF/SF diet), adjusting Monkey to a GF diet, sticking to a tight financial budget, and doing it all successfully seems so incredibly daunting to me. I have my good days and bad days, but lately, I just feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water. I don’t say this to complain. It’s just where I’m at right now. I know I’m not going through anything that every other mother goes through at some point during her life journey. I know my life is immensely blessed! I know that. But knowledge and emotions are two different things and remembering the knowledge in the heat of the moment can be a struggle.

A blog I enjoy keeping up with is The Amazing Trips. The blog should be more aptly named The Amazing Jen and Charlie. After years of infertility, Jen and Charlie had triplets, and then a few years later, a singleton. Right now, they have four children, all four and younger. Chaos IS their daily agenda, not just part of it. She works at home full-time, has four children that do NOT go to daycare, has a happy marriage, cleans her own home, cooks her own meals, trains for and runs marathons, works hard to volunteer for cancer research and most times…manages to keep her head attached to her body. She is down-to-earth, shares her heart and doesn’t try to put on airs to make her life look like something it isn’t. She is real in all the good AND bad stuff, even if it might be embarrassing to her or cause her to gain criticism from her readers. I really admire that!

Another family I enjoy keeping up with is Jon and Kate + 8. I like watching their TV show for the same reasons. They are real. They argue, there’s a ton of noise and screaming with the kids, the kids are into everything, there is not one single moment of peace in this family’s life. Sometimes it’s hard to watch. The noise in itself is clamoring and makes my ears and head hurt. I don’t like how Kate talks condescendingly to her husband a lot of the time, but I also understand I have a teeny-tiny window into their lives – I don’t live it. So I can’t judge and point fingers, because there are times I probably talk the same way to N. But the REALITY of their lives is CHAOS and it shines through very vividly and Jon and Kate make no effort to put on airs for the public. I really admire that!

As a girl who has lived for several years in what I call the “Smiling Baptist Bubble”, the concept of living a transparent life is something I support whole heartedly, but struggle to put into action. What is the Smiling Baptist Bubble? It’s seeing all your friends on Sunday at church, wearing your Sunday best, and when someone asks you how you’re doing, you put on the June Cleaver smile and say, “Fine. Things are really fine. How are you?” as you twirl the strand of pearls around your neck. When in fact, you feel like you’re holding a pot lid on the volcano of chaos in your heart and life and have no clue what the heck you’re doing.

Am I the only one living in this bubble? If your answer is yes, please don’t tell me. Ignorance is sometimes my bliss. :-)

I guess another (selfish) reason I enjoy keeping up with those families, is that it helps me keep perspective. If Jen and Charlie can work FT from home with four kids four and under, then I can handle my life. If the Jon and Kate can handle 8 children, 6 of them toddlers, then I can handle my life. But something Jen said on her blog today REALLY made me realize so much of my struggle is just my attitude. I loved what she said here, but I’ll paste part of it in case you don’t want to read her whole post:

My life is much like a Class V river. You don't possess a whole lot of control when you are in Class V whitewater. You can try to control the river, but you'll quickly realize that you can paddle until your arms feel like they're going to fall off and you're still floating backwards. To some this might be terrifying and make them fear for their lives. But to me, this is heart pounding excitement that lets me know I'm alive. My goal on any given day is to get the little boat that we are floating upon from point A to point B without flipping over, sinking, or running in to rocks. I've learned that for the most part, all you need to do is keep the boat towards the middle of the river and go with the flow, try not to let out too many blood curdling screams and realize that every so often, you will take a wave in the face ... but eventually, you'll dry out.

“…every so often you will take a wave in the face…but eventually, you’ll dry out.”

I love that! It reminded me that this chaos is temporary. I won’t be feeling overwhelmed my whole life. It won’t be hard forever. This is just one point in time in the journey of my Life that I’ve been blessed with. AND I AM IMMENSELY BLESSED! I fully realize I have perfectly valid reasons to be stressed out. I have perfectly valid reasons to be overwhelmed.

But here’s the bottom line: I can CHOOSE to look at the hard stuff in my life and let my emotions guide me into a depression. Or I can CHOOSE to look at the blessings and let that guide me into a joyful frame of mind. So what…I take a wave in the face. I WILL DRY OUT!

There are some struggles in my life that I’m praying to God to give me guidance for and relief from. At this point and time He has not given me any inkling that He will answer me the way I want. If He NEVER answers me, can I be okay with that? Is my current set of circumstances so bad, that I cannot see beyond the challenges I face every day? No. Not at all. AS LONG AS I FOCUS PROPERLY. Today I am choosing to focus on the fact that the little boat our family is on is floating from point A to point B and we’re not flipping over, sinking, or running into rocks.

I’m attempting to go with the flow,

...let out my blood curdling screams when I need to...

...take the waves in my face as just part of the journey...

I will focus on the fact that eventually, I will dry out, in spite of the fact that at the moment I might be gasping for breath.

Today’s Goal: Enjoy the ride! I’m still on the boat and that’s a good start, even if it feels like I'm nowhere near having a grip!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In Love...

Do you remember the moment you realized you loved your husband? Perhaps before you dated, perhaps when you were dating or even when he proposed? Whatever the moment, the details are most likely seared into your brain.

Believe it or not, the first time I realized I loved N was on our second date. It was Halloween weekend and he invited me over to his place for a homecooked meal and to carve pumpkins. It was pouring cats and dogs that night and I remember feeling very grateful for the new tires on my car as I looked for his house number through the foggy car windows.

After an amazing dinner of broiled proscuitto wrapped chicken covered in provolone and steamed vegetables, we took our glasses of chardonnay out to his back patio to watch the storm. In silence we sipped, and watched the grand lightning storm above us, listened to the huge cracks of thunder and felt the wet of the rain blow onto our bare feet. For almost 30 minutes we didn't say a word. It wasn't even necessary...we were just being. And it was so perfectly comfortable. At some point that night, he silently slipped his arm around my waist and pulled me close and it was at that moment that I felt something...something tell me this was going a long, long way. We never even touched the pumpkins that night.

Who would have known back then that today, 8 1/2 years later, my life would be so rich with this man and all of his amazingness? Those tender arms that pulled me close that night are the same tender arms that love and comfort our little Monkey today.

He doesn't know it, but I fall in love all over again anytime they're together like this.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Some of N's favorite childhood memories are with his cousins. I have one cousin who is about 15 years younger than me, so the cousin memories I have are mostly of me babysitting. But N has 9 cousins, most of which are close to his age. So when the parents got together, all the cousins would gather to play or spend time getting in trouble together.

This weekend, two of his cousins were in town, one of which has a little girl a few months older than JK. So it was fun to see N and his cousin C with the "next generation". They got along so well and were so cute together.

Here is E sharing her toys with JK...such a gracious little girl!

Gramma and Daddy teaching the monkeys to jump on the sofa. This is going to take forever to teach him NOT to do that...

Sharing a hotdog to refuel. There is something about the expression on JK's face that I just love. So ornery!

Once refueled, attempting the jumping without supervision. A.K.A giving Momma a stroke.

One of the things I really loved about E is that she was a total tom-girl. She actually outpaced JK and it was so funny to watch him try to keep up with her. A few times she took him down, which was very funny! This was just a hug, believe it or not!

The two generations...

The biggest event tonight though, was N's other cousin R getting engaged!!! R was kind of the baby of the cousin group, so this was quite the announcement.

R and his lovely bride-to-be...

R and J toasting...

Celebrating with cake...

J, you are going to marry into one spectacular family! When I said yes to N, I had no idea what an amazing blessing I was about to receive along with my marriage. I hope you find solace and joy in this special group of people like I have!

R, congratulations sweetie! We love you so much and are so happy you've found your place in life with the right lady at your side. The last few years have contained some spectacular changes in our lives. God has been good to all of us!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Library

Today after our naps we went to the local library to see a Chinese Lion Dance. I thought it'd be fun to share some of my step-mother's heritage with our Monkey. If you've never seen a lion dance, it's basically a pair (or more, depending on the length of the costume) of young men underneath a dragon costume dancing to the chorus of a drumline in the background. The face is usually bright and flashy and fierce looking and the young men dance around, making the dragon move in some pretty entertaining ways.

In retrospect, it was probably not a good idea to take JK without prepping him for it first. Because upon entering the performance area, the blue lion had worked itself into the crowd and came bounding over to us, which terrified Monkey. Poor kid tried to climb up me even though I was holding him in my arms. I think he was trying to sit on my head. I felt so awful! Our Fearless Wonder was literally shaking the rest of the performance. Poor baby! Apologies for the lack of decent pictures. I was too busy calming him to get many good shots.

We thought maybe if he saw the costumes laying on the floor and the boys out of them, then maybe he wouldn't be so scared...

...but the second the boys got back into costume, he got scared again.

It was a wonderful performance for N and I to watch, but we were a bit relieved when the crowd departed. It was hard watching our son be so stressed out. So we decided to go scope out the rest of the libray. We discovered they have a wonderful children's section.

JK spotted Curious George from across the room and we barely kept up with him after that.

Then Arthur was spotted and loved on...

...and then the fish tank was oohed and ahhed over...

Where we we again? Oh yeah...the library! That means lots of books! Oh...the books. Monkey was in awe...

Watching the big kids play on the videos...

Did you know there was a large version of "Goodnight Moon"?

Checking out the skies before heading out to brave the downpour...a successful afternoon despite the scariness of the Lion Dance and torrential rains.