March 31, 2005
WHATTDYA THINK? (edited)
Well, so it's done. How do you like my new digs?

It's actually very nice for me that the delays (blogger was having technical difficulties yesterday and before that, I was being difficult with the design ;) ) meant I get this "new" blog today. On a day that I am hoping to fill with lots of busy-ness to prevent myself from thinking too much. My heart hurts when I think about the events of one year ago. You can read all the details
here and here, but I warn you that it will make you cry.

So, I won't be around much today. We are going to the last Cleveland Indians home spring training game, during which I am certainly going to get a bit maudlin since the time we were able to finally see our angel's face occured last year this afternoon. Anyway, I refuse to keep writing about this. I appreciate the well wishes I've already received from a couple of you. I can always tell when I'm being lifted up in prayer and I so appreciate it.

Tomorrow is a big day and I have already
posted about the worthy cause I've been compelled to get involved in. I will move the post to the top of my blog tomorrow to remind you all (7 readers?) to get over to Greg's blog to comment. ***DON'T COMMENT UNTIL TOMORROW!***

SO, I did want to acknowledge the new look. Thanks so much,
Catherine, for your hard work and dealing with my endless requests. I think it turned out perfectly and I love that magically my requests were granted - without nary a comment from you. :) And thanks to Kelly for pointing me in Catherine's direction and for helping me with ideas for theme.

Until next time, much love to you all. May you feel God's blessings abundantly this day.

****Updated to add: March 31 was the day I lost a daughter and I now extend my prayers as two other families lose a daughter. My thoughts and prayers are with the Schiavo and Schindler families. And Terri, may she rest in peace.****
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March 28, 2005
Celebrations and Sadness
This is an odd week.

Starting with Easter... the celebration of our Savior's resurrection! It is an incredible celebration - that Christ was brought back from the dead on the third day. Absolutely incredible. His sacrifice for us, His pain on the cross, His death.... To have the scriptures fulfilled by His Resurrection! Boundless blessings!

Our Easter was surrounded by family - the best kind of celebration. We'd spent the night with A's parents and we woke early and went to early mass (to avoid the crowds of bi-annual church-goers). My mom and step-dad joined us with A's family for Easter supper. It was simple, yet everything was delicious and it is wonderful for us to fold my mom and pop into the fold of A's tight-knit family. Lovely. After afternoon naps, we loaded the car headed back to our home.

This Wednesday is Little A's third birthday. Amazing how time flies. I remember the morning of her birth as if it were last month... What a blessed experience it was. She was born Holy Saturday (Easter weekend) and her name means Resurrection. (We did not name her based on the fact she was due at Easter, though it turns out to be ultra-special.)

Thursday is the first anniversary of the date I gave birth to our daughter Gabriella's tiny body. I am feeling overwhelmed each day as I recall what I was doing on this day one year ago - for the past week, I've been wondering each day if THIS day was the anniversary of her death.... It is a strange way to spend the days. For instance - one year ago today, I was sitting on a cold sidewalk overlooking the Thames River, waiting for the rest of our group to show up for our last supper in Europe. One year ago tomorrow at this very moment, I was in an ambulance on my way to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Just after being met on the tarmac by the ambulance and having a customs agent meet me in the ambulance to check my bags back into the US. Right at this moment, I was afraid for the life of the child I carried within me, who just days before I'd heard her strong and steady heartbeat. Worrying that I knew noone in Philadelphia, I was by myself, in every sense... Looking back I was even more alone than I thought since at that point, I still had hope that my child within would live.

So..... I feel terrible. I am incredibly sad. I am incredibly happy. I am incredibly torn since I want this week to be a happy one for our family as we celebrate Little A's third birthday. I want reassurance that with each year, this week's pain will lessen and our celebrations of Little A's birth will not always be darkly overshadowed by her sister's death. So, starting tomorrow, we have plans outside the house every day this week. I just can't be here, left in the silence of my brain. It's just too painful.

Until next time, I pray you hold your little ones close and remind them how much you love them. And I pray you marvel at the wonder of God's sacrifice and the resurrection of His Son that offers an example to the rest of us - ultimate, unconditional love. Christ's love for us was so great He endured a torturous end to His earthly life - to atone for the sins of the world. My sacrifice seems so small in comparison.
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March 25, 2005
Holy Easter Week

*********I wanted to include here that Jenny and Andrew have absolutely wonderful news. Best Wishes for many dreams come true.***************

I haven't really updated this week... But, no news is good news..... things have been going well this week.

We went to Orlando for a couple days to spend some time with our friends who were there for spring break. The girls and I went at noontime Tuesday and met them at Downtown Disney for lunch and to just spend some time. Afterwards, we went over to the Shrine and we adults went to confession - a perfect way to head into the Triduum and Easter.

A drove up after work and Al and I made dinner before the men and kids settled in to watch The Incredibles. Al and I went back to Downtown Disney on a mission to find some cool Disney beads - we did find some, but at $4 each we passed. I did buy a Tinkerbell bag for Little A to use at the library (her birthday is next week). We stayed over and A left for work in the morning.

The girls and I met up with a longtime email friend from CA, also there for spring break with her children. This friend and I have never met in person before, but we have a mutual friend that we both have spent some time with. Amazingly, L and her daughters (5!! ages 11-16!!!!!) were staying at the same resort where Al and her family were - we were in buildings across the pool from each other! This is really weird considering how many resorts are in the Orlando area and we had no idea until we were deciding where to meet (I asked where they were staying, thinking I'd come to her - little did I know that all I had to do was walk about 100 yards!). Anyway, other than Little A acting like a total brat and throwing tantrums (she has NEVER acted that way before, I was so so embarrassed), we had a nice time with them and we went to lunch - 9 girls, including moms!

After lunch they went on their way to a park and my girls and I headed to the outlet mall to buy sandals for the year. I love the durability of Stride Rite, but can't see spending so much on sandals for my kids - the outlet has great prices! And since the sandals they had last year lasted more than 7 months and still looked new (they wore them EVERY day), I was convinced this was the brand for every year. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the right shoes in the right sizes, so they now have these pansy-lookin' white leather sandals. No offense to those who put white sandals on their girls, but it just doesn't suit the style of clothes that my kids normally wear. But, V was so excited and twirling around saying they looked like princess shoes. :)

Yesterday, we just had a lazy day at home - well, I did do a little laundry and signed on to be coordinator for a playgroup. I figure since our church doesn't have any programs for moms, I'd try other routes to make some local friends. I looked online and found a phenomenal website that connects moms and the group in my area didn't have a coordinator and nobody has been participating or going to events. So, I signed up. And I planned something for next week and already there are 9 RSVP's including children! I think this is awesome!

The afternoon was spent doing schoolwork with V, her favorite part of every day. Later we headed to the grocery to get some dinner. We met A at a beautiful park for a picnic supper and we walked around the lake before heading to Holy Thursday mass. Little A was a nightmare (this child has some kind of problem lately and I am willing to sell her to the highest bidder) and we ended up leaving after an hour, but long before communion. Ugh.

This weekend, we are headed to see our family for Easter. So happy to be close enough to spend most weekends with them. So wonderful to be with people who love us so.

Until next time, I pray that this Holy weekend is filled with many blessings for you and your family.
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March 22, 2005
Quick Poll
Okay, some of you may know that I am getting a blog extreme makeover by Blog Togs. Her suggestion for a new graphic as a header is a black & white pic of a beautiful swan. Due to the fact that she bought this photo/graphic, I feel I cannot post it here. It is a beautiful photo. Stunning, almost. The problem is I am unsure. Does a swan really convey what I'm about on my blog?

I'm thinking that if anyone has a suggestion that maybe is better or more accurate, then I can just give more of a donation to get something more customized for my blog.

Please help! I will be responding to her Wednesday evening (Eastern US Time), so any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Oh, and I won't be around til then since we are going to Orlando for a couple days. So, have a great day, ya'll. Gotta go pack up our stuff!

I appreciate your input and just throw out ideas - something is bound to strike as perfect.
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March 21, 2005
How to Handle a Sex Offender
Just found out this evening from a neighbor that there is a registered sex offender living in the next building. She wanted to let us know since she knows we have two little girls. Not that she wouldn't have told us if our children were boys.

So my question is this: Does anyone know what responsibility lies with the apartment management to disclose this information to people who move in? I know when we owned a house, the police went around distributing flyers when a registered offender moved in 3 streets over. I mean, there is a reason these offenders are required to report their address. There is a reason there is a national database.... Since this guy lived in these apartments before we did, don't we have the right to know prior to moving in that he lives here? I mean, I guess, technically, we should have looked up our address-to-be on the database prior to moving in. But, if a management team assures you that your family will be safe on their property, shouldn't they disclose when they have a resident who is a registered offender? Particularly to families that move in with children? Particularly when those families are moving into the building directly next to the offender's residence?

My neighbor asked one of the leasing agents to confirm whether this guy still lives in the complex. The agent stated that she was unable to disclose that - it would be an invasion of his privacy! WTF?!?!? This guy deserves NO privacy. Why else would he be required to be listed in a national database? I am seriously considering filing some sort of complaint with the management company (above our property's office). As far as I'm concerned, they have knowingly put the children around here at risk - and refused to disclose critical information to the residents here.

I am awaiting a return phone call from a friend who is a county sheriff to determine what the management is required to disclose. And several of us are going to complain to the office manager.

Come on! A girl just hours north of us was murdered by a sex offender just weeks ago! Why even take chances with the residents????

What would you do? And do you know what the law is protecting us and our children?

Until next time, keep your kids within your eyesight and always lock your doors at night. God Bless you and yours.
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March 17, 2005
My Incredible 4 Year Old Daughter
I know I said I'd start giving a more peeks into my every day life. So, this will be about V. About how she is amazing... smart... incredibly insightful...



This is a beautiful child. Absolutely more beautiful than I could have imagined ever having in my life, let alone entrusted to me. This picture is one I took at the park on Tuesday. She was hammin for the camera - I took nearly 80 pictures at the park that day. :)

We've been doing schoolwork for the last few weeks. I am amazed how quickly she is learning to read and how much her handwriting has improved over the last few weeks. She's very excited about us finally making it to the library here and was very happy with the storytime this week - it's different than the one we loved in Atlanta, but still very good.

She's been going (Little A too) to Sunday School at our new church. She absolutely loves it. A couple weeks ago, they heard of the story of Christ going to the desert for 40 days - and satan's tempting Him to worship satan to be given the world. Well, afterward, when we came to pick them up, one of the nuns told me that V is very clever and very special. After agreeing with her, I wanted to know to what specifically she was referring. "When we were talking about the devil tempting Christ, V asked 'Why is the devil always trying to separate us from God?' We're very impressed that she understood that concept from our simple story." Well, I'll be honest - I was crying. You know, you always want your child to be kind and smart and spiritual - but you never expect it when it really happens. And to have a nun (actually 2, since the other one has told me in subsequent weeks how special V is) exclaim the beauty of your 4 year-old daughter's spirituality... well, it is a bit overwhelming.


Her first pigtails! She's so excited about her hair growing longer (at her request).

One more for fun.



What a special child, indeed.
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March 16, 2005
Taking Care of Family
Finally! Finally, I have convinced A's mom to let me help. I know I've mentioned in the past that A's dad has congestive heart failure (severe case). Well, his CHF preevnts him from doing ordinary things like walking to the mailbox without being incredibly winded (maybe 20 feet from their door?). So, this also means that he is unable to help with other daily chores. And is not really working much these days since he is so wiped out.

While my MIL is not expected to do her job (she is a full-time volunteer) and his (he has the only paid position in the ministry they are part of, since he is a dr. and the director and all), she no doubt feels some obligation to do as much of his job as possible (especially since he is still being paid for his job). Add to that she has to do her stuff at home plus the things he used to do like take the trash out and do the dishes (they have a housekeeper that comes and cleans every couple weeks, so she doesn't have to vacuum or dust or mop, unless there is a spill).

And add on top of that both of her parents are making crazy decisions and not really doing any kind of job taking care of themselves. And now her father can't/won't drive so she is now responsible for taking them to the doctor and a million other details.

Well, for weeks, I keep offering to come and get groceries and make easy heat & eat meals for the grandparents. They say no. MIL says no. They don't want to inconvenience me - it is, after all, a one hour trip to get there - and "well, the girls just don't need to be making that trip all the time - that is too much time for them to spend in the car". And while I do agree about it being a lot of time to spend sitting on their butts, what in the he(( did we move here for? It certainly wasn't because A found his dream job. It was because he found a decent job that allowed us to be an hour from our family.

So, last night I was talking to MIL and she admitted to me that she is pretty upset that her brother is trying to convince their parents to move in with them (the tricky part is that he and his wife live in MS and they would need to buy a house in FL and move - and they are not financially in a position to do that right now. So, the parents would buy the house for the 4 of them to live in. Oh, and let's not forget the most upsetting part of all of this is the house would be 2.5 hours from the rest of us. So, not only does the son want his parents to fund his own retirement house, but he wants them to move a full 2.5 hours away from the rest of the family that is here.) So, seeing as how MIL's brother flies in tomorrow to discuss with the parents their plans for the future I thought I'd remind them today why they should stay in this area. They love seeing the girls. They love seeing A. I think they even really like seeing me, who makes them delicious goodies and food.

So, I told MIL last night that whether she wants to admit it or not, she needs help. And we didn't move here not to be helping when we're needed. So, the new plan is that I will be responsible for the bulk of the grandparents grocery shopping. And I will also make several meals a week that they can easily pop in the microwave for dinner. This will give them an opportunity to have the girls around regularly (the plan for now is for me to go there once a week) and with any luck, we will be able to convince them what they really need is assisted living (where there are nurses on hand when needed and someone would check on them every day.) Because even though we feel the brother and his wife have good intentions to take care of them, it is really to the point that they need to have nursing care available. One of A's and my fears is that if they buy a house to live with their son and his wife, their money will be tied up in the house and there won't be money to pay for the inevitable need of nursing care.

So, please, if you have any recipes that freeze well and are highly nutritious, point me in the right direction. I figure I can just double what I make for my own family a few nights a week to have things to take for the great-grandparents.

Until next time, may God's peace and mercy be felt in your heart today.
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March 14, 2005
"You Rock, Dude"
I haven't really talked about how funny my girls are. I'll make this brief because it is getting really late and there is snoring coming from down the hall....
Tonight, we were finishing dinner and Little A had excused herself from the table. She was whirling and twirling in the living room and suddenly ran across the room and hurled herself into my side and said "you rock, dude!!"
I seriously sputtered the water from my mouth right onto my dinner plate. ick.
Anyway, my girls do rock. They are the funniest little creatures - beautiful and silly and absolutely hysterical.
I'll have to start recording some of their more laughable moments - so I have them somewhere I can look back and read about the ways they brighten my day to day life - and one day get caught up on their scrapbooks and clever stories to journal on the pages.
Until next time, God Bless you.
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March 13, 2005
No Worries
Well, true to form, I was worried for nothing. I am still weirded out by the fact it was a 36 day cycle, but I woke up this morning to an unpleasant sensation down there.

I appreciate the advice and your thoughts regarding my all-over-the-place cycles.

The following is a pretty long account and I am recording it mostly for myself and to have a place to refer people who wonder why I would trust NFP. You probably don't really want to read it and that is okay, because even though I don't mind who does read it, it isn't written for a broad audience. Like I said, it is specific and I don't want anyone to take offense to my beliefs or to believe that I am judging them for their own decisions. I always have felt that it is important that you make the decision that is right for you and gives you peace. Not everything is for everyone.

First, my strong Catholic faith plays a large role in my fertility awareness. And while I don't necessarily think that all the "rules" are perfect, I do believe that I am supposed to follow them. One of the things that drew me to this faith is the fact there are clear cut guidelines. Maybe I was drawn to that because my life was chaos before having faith. And I just wanted some rules. And the fact that this Church can trace its formation to the time when Christ sent his disciples out to minister and spread the word (the very first priests), well, that was a something that secured my heart .

Anyway, back to the fertility stuff. Pope John Paul says no artificial birth control. And while I don't believe that he has ever been confronted with the choice (other than to remain abstinent in his devotion to the Church), he has been chosen to lead the Roman Catholic Church and to make the decisions to the best of his spiritual abilities what is right and God-willed for the majority. However, I do believe, as do many priests, that there are certain instances where health issues would trump the rules. And I will tell you that there have been times during my marriage when health issues have warranted not getting pregnant. The first time, we chose for me to take BCPs. This was not a good choice for my health (weight gain, acne, etc.), though it did prevent pregnancy.

When I was pregnant with Little A, I wanted to find a way to know my fertility so I could prevent future pregnancy without chemicals. We took a class on Natural Family Planning and got on board with the idea and with the statistical data. You can use NFP for planning and preventing pregnancy and while at first the idea of touching my mucus from down there was a bit icky, it quickly became second nature. I didn't really get into charting every day, I didn't learn to take my temp every day (the method we learned didn't use temp - just cervical mucus), but I learned a lot about my body and fertility. I knew when I was ovulating. I knew when I was going to start my period. It didn't hurt that I was regular, so it was easier to detect the signs. We got good at NFP. Because we knew it would work if we did. I knew I was going to get pregnant in December 2003. I told A twice after doing the deed - "that probably is going to get me pregnant" "if the last time didn't get me pregnant, than this time will".... I was pregnant.

After that pregnancy ended much too soon, I have had no idea when I was ovulating - my mucus is almost constant - even the stuff that's only supposed to be present during ovulation. And well, it is frustrating. I've had friends suggest BCP to get me on a more regular cycling pattern, but the inconvenience of irregular cycles doesn't warrant (for us) using chemical birth control. I did look into getting a diaphragm (we feel that the barrier methods are better for us since they don't chemically alter any of the reproductive cells/functions), but since you have to use a spermicide with the diaphragm, that ruled that out. So, we've just continued to use the other barrier method... In the last year, when I was taking an anti-anxiety drug occasionally, I was told it would cause severe birth defects, so to prevent pregnancy, we would use condoms. This has gone against what we believe is right for us, but come on you can't just have no sex. And with the meds, we weren't willing to risk the health of a child. Not to mention, I've known that I was not emotionally stable enough to jump into another pregnancy.

But, I did buy a BBT thermometer last week and I will add morning temping to my regimen and I've been keeping a chart on Fertility Friend since my periods started back up last May - just tracking when my periods are. I am hoping that this will give me a better picture of when I am ovulating so that we can get back to our more natural planning.

So, we will chart my BBT and CM and for a few months just abstain for a couple weeks each month until I have a good idea of when ovulation is occuring. And with any luck, with time, my cycles will get on a more normal track.

I know NFP sounds like a lot of work, but it has been worth it for us in the past to have our fertility awareness allow us to have an intimate physical relationship without boundaries when we join together. There has been a deepening of respect for our bodies and their purposes. And while we know there are instances when getting our groove on would possibly lead to pregnancy, we are open to God's plan for us. We know that it's possible (as low a percentage as using condoms correctly, as long as you are charting and consistent with abstaining during fertility) to get pregnant when the chart says you shouldn't - hey, bodies sometimes do weird things. But, our trust in the Lord is that if that were to happen, it is His will, even though we'd rather just wait a while longer.

I am available for questions and I will tell you that
Amy is even more of an expert/advocate than I am. She's always been helpful when I have questions and I am sure if there is something I can't answer for you, she'd be willing to jump in and give it a try.
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March 11, 2005
Need a Little Advice *Updated*
I am so ticked. I just typed a whole entry. I think there must be something wrong with blogger. ugh. Kelly told me that nobody can comment on my blog today, but hopefully that's been fixed as I commented on my recent 2 entries.
.
Okay, so here's what I need advice about. This gets personal, so if you get squeamish hearing about bodily issues, then read no further. Otherwise, I have something that I have no idea what to make of it.
.
Before I was pregnant with Gabriella, I was a regular predictable 28 day cycler. I never experienced PMS or any symptom other than plain old bleeding for roughly 5 days. Since, I have had raging PMS accompanied by migraines and then the actual expulsion of uterine contents is rather disgusting and clotty - and long lasting - sometimes up to 7-8 days!
.
Okay, Since May of last year, this is a snapshot of my cycles:
*22 days
*24 days
*28 days
*this one was actually a cycle that I had a positive pregnancy test and then miscarried at almost 5 weeks
*30 days (I did talk to my ob/midwife about my seemingly weird cycles and
*34 days recent experiences of odd bleeding and PMS and she said that this
*31 days is still considered "normal" and explained by the fact that your body
*29 days goes through changes with each pregnancy. Unfortunately, this seems
*30 days to be what my new "normal" is.)
*still waiting
.
So, the problem? Now, I am on day 36. With no signs of PMS and no other signals that I am about to start. I also have no signs of pregnancy - being pregnant 7 times, I have known each time that I was - well before my period was due. This month, I am nothing but confused.
.
***UPDATED TO INCLUDE: I did take a pregnancy test this morning (I had a couple leftover from last year) and I am NOT pregnant. So, what could be up with this super long cycle?***
.
What do you think? Advice?
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A Heavy Heart Filling with Joy
There have been some very heartbreaking things going on around me lately. I'm almost afraid to list them, for fear of making other hearts heavy. But, I feel like I want to record this time - this time that I feel I am being pulled out of a fog of depression. And I can't help but think that my prayers for these other dear women and families have helped pull me closer to God and thus lifting the fog of the last year.
I will start by mentioning the recent losses that break my heart. I literally feel it falling into pieces for the others dealing with the true pain.
*First, my friend B - she grew up with my husband being like a cousin. They have a beautiful son about 18 months old and they'd been working on giving him a sibling. Sadly, the pregnancy ended abruptly in the early stages. Joyfully, they are resting in the Lord and know His plan is sometimes not our own. They trust that He will give them another child in His time.
*Second, Rebekah - some of you may remember her from iP. She has a beautiful son and she and her husband have been working on giving him a sibling - for a year? She lost a pregnancy last summer. And sadly, another one in recent weeks. Joyfully, they are also resting in the Lord and her entry today has prompted this entry from me. It is definitely worth reading, even if you don't know her.
*Third, my friend T - she and I were fast friends in Atlanta and found we had so much in common we were able to finish each other's sentences the 2nd time we were together. She and her husband have been working on adding a third child to their family. Sadly, she had a miscarriage late in the first trimester. Joyfilly, they are resting in the Lord and know that their family will grow in His time. Are you starting to notice a pattern here?
*Most recently, my heart is aching for Julia. She has been trying desperately for ages to give precious Patrick a sibling. After too many losses to list (I think 7?!), they discovered her husband has a tadpole issue. They have gone to great lengths to improve their chances of conceiving a healthy baby by traveling across the country to a clinic to have IVF with PGD (they find the healthy sperm in a sample and use those to fertilize her eggs and then take the most thriving blasts and implant those). The IVF was a success - she did, in fact, have a pregnancy - and a subsequent beating heart within her womb. Sad doesn't even come close to what happened earlier this week. I don't have a "joyfully" yet for Julia. I just have a broken heart for her, but I do trust there will be a joyfully statement soon - in her weakness, I will believe enough for her.
*One of my best friend's husbands did not get the job he really wanted. A "dream" job that also happened to be his first real opportunity since he was laid off months ago. Joyfully, they are resting in the Lord and know that He will open the right door at the right time. And in the meantime, he is working on some education that will make him even more marketable in the future. Those who help themselves....
*A very close family friend - a woman so much like family since my husband was a little boy - last week had surgery to remove a lump and ended up needing a mastectomy. She has breast cancer, a pretty aggressive form. She will soon begin chemotherapy and then probably radiation. Joyfully, medical advances have been made and there is an opportunity for her to be treated and prayerfully, she will beat the cancer. Not to mention, she is trusting in the Lord and resting in His powerful and merciful embrace.
*My great-grandmother recently had to be put in a nursing home because she is truly losing her mind. This decision broke my aunt's heart and it breaks the hearts of all who know her to hear that her life has deteriorated to the point there was no other option. Joyfully, she's led a long and full life, in spite of the emotional pain she's endured over the years.
*My grandmother had surgery to replace both of her knees this week. She is in a lot of pain post-surgery, but joyfully, she will feel like a new person once she is healed. - Again, thank God he's given the gift of medicine to make these things possible.
*Sean is back in the hospital and I've been worried all week since we haven't heard from Shelly on how he's doing. Another thing is that Shelly and her husband have been having a disconnect and I know that during this difficult time with Sean's health, they really need each other.
*And one last purely joyful thing: Kate and Brody are going to participate in a walk for the March of Dimes to raise money and awareness for premature births and their effects. Please go and sponsor her - even if you just donate 3 dollars (give up that latte this week!) - each donation gets her closer to her goal. I am so happy that Brody is happy and healthy and doesn't seem to be suffering from prematurity.
All these things remind me that I have been buried under this depression for so so long, that it's been difficult for me to remember what it is like to function without it. I felt I was at the lowest I could be at many points in the past year. Joyfully, the Lord is bringing me out of the rubble. And it seems that the more I rely on Him, the better I feel. Even though I still have the hormonal issues (I'll talk about that in another post) of a strange post-partum, I am feeling like my brain and my heart are reclaiming normalcy. Joy!
I pray for you to have peace and happiness today and this weekend. Much love to you, dear blog-readers if there are any of you left out there ;)
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March 10, 2005
Phffflllllbbbbb....
Dang! I did a whole post this morning and obviously there was an error when I published. It is nowhere to be found. And I think I recall parts of it were rather witty and funny. (yeah right)

Anyway, I wanted to explain my recent absence. I have been really busy - living my life, instead of sitting here living in cyberspace. That is not to say I don't love you all, but it's been really important for me to immerse myself back into the day to day life of my family. I've been cooking and cleaning and spending more time with the girls, particularly V.

V and I have gotten on track with homeschooling and we are spending several hours each day working on lessons and we'd spend even more, if she had her druthers. She wants to start before she's even had breakfast! I hope she enjoys learning this much as she gets older. She's starting to read, both sight words and using phonics. I am so impressed with how much of a sponge she is - and she seems to be retaining so much. I actually need to get some 1st grade math stuff since she's breezed through all the Kindergarten stuff. We actually have nothing more to do with the kindergarten math - so we'll get started on first grade, I guess. All of her letters are now legible and mostly consistent. That is one of the big things for her - to practice and perfect her writing skills. She continues to impress me with that - just a month ago, many of her letters were sloppy and unreadable. Now, they are pretty good - every day.

So, that is taking up so much time. But, it is worth it. She is happier and I'm feeling better about how much she's learning. I look forward to meeting some local folks and start going on field trips soon.

And we've been packing in a lot of family time. We've been to 3 baseball games in a week. I have loved baseball since I was a kid - my dad and I used to watch the Cleveland Indi*ns play and I remember the post-season the year before he died I would rush home from work at night to sit and watch the last few innings of the game with my dad. I wish I'd known then that would be the last time we watched baseball together alone. I like to think, though, that the games I've been to in the last 10+ years I've taken him along with me. So, it is really something special for me to share this love of baseball with my own family. We're blessed to live local to the Grapefruit League and we're even able to see lots of Indi*ns games. And I have to hand it to my awesome husband who leaves work in the middle of the day to go to a game with his family - and that he was able to get us the tickets for 5 games - at no cost to us! So, we went to a game today. And it was wonderful and I got the girls baseball caps (we had a 20% off coupon!). I'll have to take a picture of them in their caps and post it.

Basically, we've been having a lot of fun, but also getting our work done - I am even only one load away from having no laundry to do (including putting away, which happens to be my sore spot). And we've been eating home-cooked meals every single night - until tonight, we went to Chili*s. :)

And there is one more thing. Please pray for us. I won't go into detail, but there was something very weird and scary that happened in the middle of the night and I just know that we need lots of prayer around us right now.

Until next time, God be with you and fill your heart with peace.
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March 08, 2005
Is it wrong to force-feed your children?
Okay, I am kidding. Kind of. Although, I do have a shameful secret.

I make 2 dinners each night, sometimes 3. One for Adam and me, one for the girls - sometimes something different for each girl, depending on their moods. I am not really sure how this happened - except that V is picky. And I want her to eat. So, the solution in my mind was to make something else for her to eat. And to be honest, I guess it didn't seem so strange since she ate baby food at first and I got used to making her dinner separate from ours - then when Little A started eating regular food, sometimes she'd eat what we ate and sometimes she'd want what V had - and then other times she'd want something else entirely.

And well, I am sick and tired of cooking several meals a night. And I resolved about 3 weeks ago to stop the madness. Well, I did okay for a few days and then it was Lent and A and I have a restricted diet during this holy time of preparation. So, back to making several meals at night. Until now. These girls are just going to have to eat what we eat.

When you were a kid, did you ever tell your mother that you refused to eat what she put in front of you for any meal? I know I didn't. There was no other option than to eat what was on our plates. Don't get me wrong, my mom was/is a pretty fantastic cook. And we even sometimes had to eat brussel sprouts, something I would never think to force upon my own children. I'll be honest and tell you that I am pretty darn good cook. I really am. Just ask Becca and Cara and Sandi - though they didn't really get to experience much of my true culinary prowess.

So, today we went to the grocery to get a few ingredients for dinner tonight and also tomorrow. I am trying to get rid of things from my pantry, and have oodles of tomato products - paste, sauce, crushed... you name it, we had it. So, I decided to use up a few cans and make some chili. I told the girls we were having chili for dinner and they were going to love it - I even whooped it up a bit and told them they could dip corn chips in and eat it that way - what a treat!

Treat, my ass. It was a disaster. The chili was great - A even said that he thought it just might have been the best that I've made (and this winter, we've had a lot of chili - I told you we had a lot of tomato products to use up!). V was gagging and heaving over the consistency of the kidney beans and the ground beef in her mouth. This is a kid who can throw up by just looking at a plate smeared with salad dressing. She hates the way food looks. She hates the way most of it smells. And well, she just gags over everything. I am starting to think she must have super-smell-abilities and a gag reflex to match.

Little A just wanted to eat the chips without the chili. V wanted to just have the chili sauce on the chip and not the meat and beans. It got ugly. They were crying, begging to just eat it tomorrow. And we stood our ground. They weren't leaving the table until they'd eaten their dinner. (The last time they put it off til the next day, they were forced to eat pasta with peas and corn for breakfast - and V ended up throwing up onto her plate that morning.)

I ended up mashing up V's chili - so she wouldn't feel the beans in it. And she made a valiant effort, holding her nose for each bite to stifle her gag reflex. She ate most of it and was so relieved when I told her she didn't have to eat it all.

Little A, on the other hand, crossed her arms over her chest and said she was just going to bed. She didn't care if it meant she would lose tv priveleges tomorrow. She actually snuck away while A and I were kissing each other (we'd long finished our own dinner and had even cleaned up the kitchen), I was trying to calm his frustration. :) So, Little A snuck away while we were kissing and I found her crawling into her bed, the little bugger. We took her back to the table for 2 more bites and she proceeded to vomit down the front of herself. It was dripped down the whole back of the chair, on the floor, on her plate... chewed up chili. Absolutely gross. It made me angry. She was refusing to swallow each bite and after chewing a bite of chili for about 5 minutes, it made her gag and get sick. What a ridiculous child. She was cleaned up and sent to bed.

Now, what do we do? We can't keep having dinner take more than an hour of eating just to coax these girls into consuming regular food.

Any suggestions?
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March 07, 2005
The Best Love Story I've Ever Seen
We have Netflix. We love it. So much that we gave my FIL a subscription for Christmas. There is a cool new feature that allows one account to have several queues. This means A can choose movies that he wants to see and since his queue is allotted one movie at a time, he knows that if he doesn't watch the one he has, he's not getting a new one yet. I am fair and since the main queue is allowed 2 movies at a time, I try to keep every other one on there something we both want to see.
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My latest movie for my own selfish viewing pleasure was The Notebook. This movie was absolutely the most romantic movie I have ever seen. Ever. In my life. I won't spoil it by giving away plot details or anything like that, but it was an incredible movie. It had nothing to do with the actors, they aren't ones I really even knew well before watching this movie. It isn't like I was lusting after Brad Pitt or something... And I think that helped make it more realistic. That I wasn't watching some well-known actors play a character - I was watching the characters themselves.
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I sobbed watching it. I cried the next morning when I was telling A about it (he refused to watch it with me). I cried on the phone with my mom after I had her watch it - days after my viewing. It was the most heartening movie I have seen. The most real. The most amazing love. And if you watch the dvd and look at the deleted/extended scenes, there are some pretty hot sex scenes in there too.
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If you like love stories, run out and rent this one! I am actually going to get a library card tomorrow just so I can check out this novel. A has joked that I am going to convert love story lovers everywhere one woman at a time. I laughed evil-y and said "I am going to reach about 5 at once by having a blog entry about this movie!"
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This is one movie that I will actually own.
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Busy Weekend
Well, I am finally feeling better! Yee haw! The antibiotics seemed to do the trick and I am ready to get busy working out.

Friday, the girls and I left in the morning and drove an hour to our hometown. We first delivered lunch (homemade vegetable soup) to my MIL at her work. The girls, of course, wanted to hang out a bit and they had some snacks and spent some time with their Nanny. Then, we drove to my mom's work, where we had lunch and delivered some of the soup as well as homemade strawberry jam to her. The girls are so wonderful, loving their grandparents so much... To kill some time in the afternoon, we took the car to have the oil changed and the tail lights fixed - oh what fun, but it needed to be done. We walked down to Michael's to while the time waiting for the car. I bought some things to make a bracelet for our close family friend who had a mastectomy last Tuesday or Wednesday. I had bought a breast cancer bracelet for a friend in Atlanta when she was finished with radiation, and I thought I could make one myself for our friend here.

Once the car was done, we drove on to A's parents' house and V did some school work while we awaited the grandparents' return from work. She enjoyed showing off her skills once Nanny arrived and she continues to impress me with her improvement in writing her letters - she is growing more and more careful. She is also starting to read and I am just really impressed with all that she is absorbing. A drove over after work and we went to dinner with his parents and grandparents - the first time his grandfather had been out (other than for dr. appts) since being ill. His grandparents seem to be doing much better, but Poppop is still unsure of driving, so A picked them up for dinner. I am going to start going over there once a week to help them out with grocery shopping and any other errands they need run.

After dinner, I went out to Target to get a card and gift card for my stepdad since his birthday was Sunday (I had remembered a few weeks ago, but forgot until my mom reminded me Friday night). I enjoyed the evening further by going to visit my friend Al and her family. So nice to spend some time by myself/without being mommy.

Saturday began with meeting my mom and stepdad for breakfast. He had just picked up a brand spankin' new Harley the day before and was quite proud to have his picture taken and V even jumped up there behind him to have her picture taken with her Pop. A wasn't so happy about being put up there, but Mimi tricked her into looking at a "monkey" up in the tree, so I was able to get a decent picture of the three of them on the bike. :) It was nice to send A and the girls on their way and spend a few hours with my mom, just puttering around. We went to a bead shop so I could get a pink ribbon charm for the bracelet I was making. Then we spent about 30 minutes in a Hallmark shop, just looking around and choosing cards (my church wedding anniversary was also Sunday). After that, we went to Sam's and spent about an hour just walking around and looking at things. I did buy wipes - I will rejoice if this purchase is wasted and Little A decides this week to use the potty. I know, wishful thinking. It was so nice to just have a relaxing time and not have to be mommy for so many hours. We were lazy in the afternoon and headed home in the evening.

Sunday had a lazy start before going to church. Have I mentioned that I love the Sunday School program they have at our new church? It is for 3-5 year olds and they usually have a story based on one or two of that Sunday's scripture readings that we are hearing during mass. The program is run by two nuns and some parent volunteers and they have songs and prayers and crafts each week. The girls seem to really enjoy it, even if Little A hangs her head shyly when we arrive. After church, we had a quick lunch before heading to see a baseball game!

As I mentioned above, Sunday was our church wedding anniversary. We were married at the courthouse 4 months before being married in the Catholic Church. We consider our November anniversary to be our official one, but honor our March one since it was the ceremony that fully pulled God into our marriage. I can tell you honestly that 6 years ago, when we were married in a simple ceremony with 20 family members in attendance, we never imagined what our marriage would entail. We could not have imagined that an anniversary not far off would be spent at a spring training game with two beautiful daughters. It was a beautiful day, though cool in the shade, and we really enjoyed the game.

We were supposed to have dinner with friends from Orlando, but they cancelled at the last minute - something that seems to be happening a lot when we make plans with them - the last time, the girls and I were sick and the time before that, they ended up in the ER because she is pregnant and had some spotting.... The nice thing about them cancelling, though, is that we rushed home from the game to clean the apartment in anticipation of their visit after dinner. Knowing us, we'd have come home after the game and all taken naps and the apartment would not have gotten cleaned at all. And now, we have clean bathrooms and clean floors. :) Now, if I could just get the laundry caught up. Hopefully, we will be able to get together soon with that couple. After we had a simple dinner at home, the four of us settled on the couch and watched Fantasia 2000.

What a wonderful weekend. Truly.

Until next time, may God's Blessings be abundant in your life.
Posts written by humble servant
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March 01, 2005
Just What the Doctor Ordered
An update and some blatant honesty...
Let's see.... I haven't really been updating. I have been sick. In bed. Waiting to die. Okay, not really. I finally did go to the doctor today to get this checked out and they actually did an x-ray of my sinuses. Apparently, my whole head is full of **it. Apparently, I should be writhing in pain, I am so infected and practically bursting. Actually, I have the start of a truly ugly pimple on my nose and I almost wonder if it is the mucus trying any way to get out of my head. Wouldn't that be so incredibly disgusting?
Anyway.... I did have a couple days at the end of last week where I was feeling better and I went to town cleaning our place. After being sick for a week, it desperately needed it. And then, Saturday, I was hit with a brick in the head again..... Now, that the laundry has piled up again, I have to get to work again tomorrow, regardless of how I feel.
I did see my therapist last week as well as my Oh-By-God-You're-Not touching me there doc. Fun fun. I got a scrip for an anti-depressant (Effex*r). I started immediately taking it, like the good girl that I am. I immediately stopped sleeping at night. Good golly - these are only half dose pills to start.... So, what did I do? Last night I refused to take it. And guess what? I don't feel more depressed today - actually quite the contrary since I slept the whole night. :) I will be calling tomorrow to ask if I should try something else or do they want me to walk around like the sleep-deprived zombie this med is turning me into?
My therapist did tell me a couple weeks ago to be realistic about the stress I have been under. Pretty much non-stop since I married 6 years ago. Granted, since it seems so normal to me, I haven't really been thinking of the major things that happen in our lives. Most of these things can put great strain on a marriage, causing divorce, even. And since our marriage hasn't taken the strain, I haven't really been realistic about how much a person should be able to handle. Because, let's face it - I signed up for this. All this better or worse and all that. I have moved twice in 15 months to accomodate my husband's career. Would I do it over, in spite of the strain and depression it has caused me? Absolutely. But this is where the tricky part comes in.
I can't keep expecting myself to be some kind of superwoman. I can't pretend outwardly that I am coping well with all these major things. Since our marriage, these are the things we've dealt with: 4 early miscarriages - all wanted children; bought and sold a house; 2 daughters born 19 months apart - while these are huge blessings, they add stress, nonetheless; another daughter who died in the womb at 18 weeks - a desperately wanted daughter; 2 interstate moves in the last 18 months; my career loss, though I wouldn't change being a SAHM, the financial aspect of this put us truly in a tailspin for several years and we are just now really getting our head above water - though we still have nearly $10k of debt; Little A and her constant illness - while I praise God that she doesn't have truly serious problems, it is a nearly daily addition to stress, keeping her asthma under control and keeping her as far from sick people as possible.
Oh, and let's not forget A's career - he goes through cycles just before a promotion or something good where things just totally suck. And well, he is in one of the down times right now, where things totally suck monkey butt. Seriously. And since he is at the highest level within a hotel now, his job is on the line if the hotel is not getting good comment scores. And well, this totally stresses us out. We are praying that in the next 6 weeks, the scores come up and he is able to keep his job. He's good at his job, but because this hotel was hit by 2 hurricanes in the weeks prior to his employment there... well, suffice to say that he's been under the gun with rebuilding and all that and unable to really address all the staffing issues that existed prior to his leadership there.
Anyway, putting those things in perspective has helped me feel better about how I am feeling. Because, let's face it, those are some pretty major things. Nothing major like a child dying of cancer or living with a serious disease or disorder, but major things, nonetheless. We actually have a really close friend whose marriage fell apart after struggling with fertility and having one miscarriage. Gosh - I can't imagine how stressed they were! Because in spite of our stresses, we have never let our marriage suffer too much. The financial stuff took the greatest toll, surprisingly, but now that we are straight with all that (mostly me being totally honest about where we stand) the rest of the stuff seems like a no-brainer. Do we struggle? Sometimes, but not very often. We haven't had a real disagreement in years - unless you count that time last summer that my head spun around and green pea soup came shooting out of my mouth in a fit of PPD induced rage.
So, even though the medication makes me stay awake all night, I am feeling better. I am confident that now that I don't have the stress of expecting myself to be fine all the time I will just keep feeling better. It also helps to be realistic. I am thinking that once I can actually breathe again, I will get on a REAL schedule with working out and once I am feeling more fit I will definitely feel better.
Sorry this went on so long. Obviously I had more than mucus in my head.... Okay, enough about that grossness.
I pray you and your families are well and healthy. I can't wait to hear about Nino feeling that little peanut moving and hear that Rebekah is well and that Kelly had a great weekend away. And that baby Jay is going to be just fine. And that Matt got the job. And.... whatever good news you want to send my way, I can't wait to hear it!
Until next time, God Bless You and Keep You.
Posts written by humble servant
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