31 October 2008

Waiting on...

People who have lots of children always say that each pregnancy is different from the others. They're right. In one way, this one has been a lot easier -- no bleeding, no life-threatening auto accidents, no high-doses of narcotics for months on end... and in other ways it is more difficult. We know a lot less about this baby than we did the others. We elected not to do any diagnostic testing in the early stages, because of scheduling issues, my 20-week ultrasound/ bio-physical profile will actually be when I'm 24 weeks pregnant, and I haven't needed extra ultrasounds. In essence, except for the heartbeat checks my doctor does every month, we haven't seen the baby or seen any measurements or had any assurances. Sometimes it is hard to believe that all is well.
The other thing that is really different is that I keep having all of these low-levels on my bloodwork. My hemoglobin was dangerously low. And my B12 level is such that I will have to have injections if it doesn't turn around in a month. And my folate levels are down, too. I am taking multi-vitamins and now additional folic acid and B12 and iron supplements and liquid chlorophyll and trying to eat decently, but something is just off.
I find myself sort of relieved to know that there are actual reasons for symptoms I have been suffering lately. I have been so tired and sooooo grumpy, irritable and easily overwhelmed. My brain feels like slush lately. And the existing nerve damage from the bone graft site at my hip has been almost unbearable lately. I can only stand a few minutes or walk about a block before that leg is just screaming with nerve pain. Turns out, all of these things can be explained by low levels of hemoglobin or B12 or folate. I'm glad for that.
But I'm left wondering -- how does one get these levels up? I have the prescription supplements, of course, but are there other options that can help? Anyone have any clue?
In the meantime, I think this pregnancy is becoming an exercise in faith in ways the other two haven't. As I said, before, we had independent confirmation every week or two that the baby was ok. Even when I was pregnant with Daniel and healing from the accident, I knew that he was as good as he could be in those circumstances.
This time, I just have to wait. This is difficult for me. I'm not a patient person, generally. But it is a necessary discipline and good for me, in the long run. I must rest. I must trust. I must wait.
Rest, trust, wait. It is a prescription in and of itself. I pray I'm wise enough to follow it.

29 October 2008

Porch parapicket

Last week, before the weather decided to skip ahead to the end of November and drive us all inside where we could turn up the heat, Annalivia asked if we could have a porch parapicket (picnic). I said yes.It was chilly and a little windy and we probably should have been wearing sweaters or coats, but we had hot macaroni and cheese.

And when it's a little chilly, hot macaroni and cheese is good.
Really good.

Annalivia decided we should share with our porch guard-pig, Portia.
Daniel took advantage of her distraction and tried her macaroni and cheese, too. Turns out that hot macaroni and cheese is good, but one's distracted sister's hot macaroni and cheese is even better.

Recipe: A really delicious Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie

I have found that I really like Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. I am not a big plain ol' chocolate chip cookie fan; they seem too sweet to me. In fact, I think my favorite cookie these days is oatmeal raisin and walnut made a little less sweet than usual. But Dennis is not a raisin fan and chocolate chip cookies are his favorite. So here's the compromise -- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip.
This is a very, very good recipe, I think. It makes cookies that are crisp outside and chewy inside. They are also just a tad salty, which I love and not TOO sweet because I don't use too many chocolate chips, though each cookie always has plenty in them.
This recipe makes A LOT. I make it in my stand mixer which is powerful and that's good because the dough is substantial. The recipe can be halved, but I like to make it all at once, bake a dozen or two, and then freeze the rest in logs. Then when we are all jonesing for cookies, a log can be removed from the freezer, cut into 12 pieces, popped into the oven while still frozen and a bit later we have nice, hot cookies. And I've still only washed the bowl once.
I'm going to try this recipe with raisins and walnuts instead of chocolate chips sometime. I just know I'll have to make a whole lot less, or find someone else who is a fan of shriveled grapes to share my cookies.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
4 sticks butter
4 tablespoons milk
4 tablespoons vanilla
4 cups flour
2 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
2 t salt
5 cups rolled oats
1 12 oz. bag chocolate chips
Cream together the sugars, butter, milk and vanilla until fluffy. Mix flour, soda, powder and salt together and add into creamed mixture until incorporated. Mix in oats and chocolate chips at the end.
Drop rounded tablespoonfuls on cookie sheet. Bake 350 til lightly browned. Remove from oven, cool a little, remove from baking sheet, cool a bit more, and eat.
Makes about 6 dozen.

27 October 2008

I am one of THOSE moms (alternate title: I am not one of those OTHER moms)

We had a great weekend here with friends and Eureka College Homecoming and more friends, big church yesterday.... Last night I was exhausted. We went to Cracker Barrel for dinner and upon walking in, found that the Halloween costume princess dresses were marked down in a considerable discount. Annalivia had admired them in the past, but they were too expensive and looked a little cheap, I thought. However, a painful calculation in my head later, I realized that buying one of these dresses would provide me with x hours of free time and y hours of not getting frustrated with fabric and lack-of-pattern and z hours of not fretting over the looming deadline of Halloween and, that regardless of how much I want to be the mother who makes the amazing Halloween outfits from nothing, that x multiplied by y multiplied by z ended up being FAR less than the discounted cost of the dress.
Thankfully, Dennis agreed.
So, we brought home a pink princess dress and very happy little girl and the internal promise to myself that NEXT year, I will make a Halloween outfit for Annalivia. Unless, of course, the equation works in the store's favor again. Which -- c'mon -- who are we kidding? It might.

21 October 2008


This is an exciting week for me. Tonight, a good friend from college is coming over for dinner. She is a very dear person and a person that has always just been so EASY for me to be around. I had not seen her for about five years, but just a few months ago happened to see her walking by the sidewalk outside my Dad's office. We talked on the phone and she is living nearby so she is coming over for dinner tonight! I'm really looking forward to it.
This is also my alma mater's Homecoming week which usually means that long-lost friends are around at some point. This year is special, however, because one of my good friends is receiving the Outstanding Young Alum award and is coming into town from Atlanta on Thursday night. She's going to stay with us and other friends are coming over on Friday to hang out with her... and me!
The only thing casting a pall on these events is the fact that our house is just very NOT put-together. We still have boxes all over the place and things in the process of being unpacked and despite having a heroic husband who works really hard while I take one of many "little rests" (like right now, for example), we just can't seem to get on top of it. I've warned my friends and promised that at least the bathrooms will be clean. That's about as good as I can do right now, which is slightly disappointing.
But, on the other hand, friends are going to be here which is just such a gift! And, providing they can look past the mess, I think it's going to be a spectacular few days. I have friends again! And really, even a few dozen boxes and lots of dust can't take the shine off that realization for me.

20 October 2008

Fun thing

Go to Google and type "Find Chuck Norris" in the search box. Then hit the "I'm feeling lucky" button.

Fun, eh?

At our house

This afternoon...

Annalivia: We're playing Narnia! Daniel is Edmund and he's with the White Witch but Aslan is going to save him!"

A little while later, after hearing Daniel cry out...

Me: Annalivia, why is Daniel crying?

Annalivia: Well, the White Witch just bonked him on the head...

Guess which character she was playing?

16 October 2008

I take it back

We went to the Et Cetera Shoppe today. I found Daniel a 3-piece navy polyester suit for $2, a pinstriped suit vest for him for $1 and a sweet navy and hot pink plaid jumper for Annalivia for $1.50. That's a pretty good haul, in my mind. And we managed to get out of there without any second-hand toys! That's really quite a feat.
Before we left, we also stopped by the Christmas Store in the basement of Et Cetera. I found this antique embroidered tablecloth and 8 matching napkins for $6.95! A good soak in OxyClean and I think they'll be in great shape for the holidays! And there's lots of other good stuff down there that should be examined without two children who want to touch everything in tow. I guess I sort of, a little, understand yesterday's line.

15 October 2008

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. In recent years some good friends of mine have suffered the loss of their children and I cannot imagine the pain associated with such grief. I know there are many more parents who suffer the loss of children than we are aware in our advanced medical times. Today, I offer a prayer on their behalf. If you would like to learn more about this day, please visit the official site of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day here.

What you don't usually see in Eureka, IL

Today, we got up, got dressed and drove to school, since it was sort of drizzling and we were really, really late. I dropped off Annalivia at preschool and Daniel and I went to Mika's, our local fabulous coffeehouse for a juice box (Daniel), a cup of strong coffee (me), and a large piece of cinnamon swirl coffeecake (both of us, but more Daniel than me, unbelieveably). When we emerged from Mika's at 9:15 a.m., there were about 7 ladies standing in front of the Et Cetera Shoppe.
For those who don't know, the Et Cetera Shoppe is a volunteer-run thrift shop, the proceeds of which are donated to the Mennonite Central Committee. It's a great shop, housed in the old Ben Franklin, and one can go there and find all sorts of treasures -- the sort one needs and doesn't need at all. In fact, one can go almost everyday and spend less than a dollar and come away with something. All of the stuff inside is donated and though some of it can be quite nice, most of it is... used. Like I said, it's a great shop, but not exactly the sort of place one would be waiting to get into.
BUT, this morning, there was this group of ladies standing in front of the Et Cetera Shoppe. I thought they were some church group, maybe, who didn't realize that the Et Cetera Shoppe didn't open until 10. (Apparently, Mennonite church groups who go on trips sometimes stop at the Et Cetera Shoppe -- it's a bit of an attraction, I guess -- or so says a manager). I went into the Hallmark Store across the street from Mika's, next door to the Et Cetera Shoppe and when we came out of there, there were another 15 women in front of Et Cetera. We came back home to get my wallet, returned to the Hallmark Store and by that time, there were about 40 women standing outside of the Et Cetera Shoppe. It was about 9:40 a.m.
This is not the sort of thing one sees in Eureka, IL. There is not really anything that happens in this town that encourages line-standing. Maybe when Reagan came to town back in the 80's, there were a few lines. But, this is not normal for us, especially on a drizzly autumn morning. And my curiousity was piqued.
So, I called my grandparents, knowing that my grandmother would know what was up. She didn't answer the phone and my grandfather didn't know. And rather than make the cardiac patient walk up the stairs to get Grammy, I decided to figure it out myself. So I asked in the Hallmark store when I went to pay for my cards. They didn't know either. About that time, it started to rain and the Et Cetera Shoppe opened letting in the 50-some women outside, so I couldn't ask them. Finally, after pulling in our driveway and getting the garbage cans in, I saw a friend pushing children in a stroller in the rain. "We're on our way to Et Cetera!" she called. I asked her what was going on.
Turns out the Christmas Store opened this morning! That's when they open up the basement which is full of all the Christmas items they've had donated through the year. Every time I've been there, the goods have been... unimpressive. But that must have changed, because apparently, either the stuff is really good down there, or it's just in really short supply because 50-some women HAD TO HAVE IT this morning, in the rain.
I called my Gramps to tell him what prompted the unusal line formation in downtown Eureka, IL.
"Oh," he replied, upon hearing the reason. "That's a good spot they've got down there. I always get my Christmas coffee mug down there."
Well, I told him, he better hurry. There might not be any coffee mugs left given that line this morning.

14 October 2008

Pastor Appreciation Month

Did you know that October is Pastor Appreciation Month? It is! Please believe me -- pastors do not hear "thank you" enough! If you've not done anything nice for the people God has called to care for you and your congregation, please take a few moments, write them a note or buy a gift certificate, and celebrate in prayer the good things they have brought you, your family, and your church family.

13 October 2008

Tuned in

Last night Dennis hooked up our tv and dvd system. I have been trying to hold out and not have it available to us because I think I use it as kind of a parenting crutch. However, I also recognize that as the pregnancy progresses, there are times when it will be helpful to have the kids distracted by something other than me or something I'll have to clean up later. So -- Dennis set up the tv. But rather than put it in the living room, our main living area, he set it up in our bedroom which is large enough to be three rooms (ok, maybe only 2 1/2).
Having a tv in the bedroom is new for us. I, in theory, am a big fan of a bedroom being a retreat of sorts. BUT in actuality, our bedroom is an area of high usage. It's not only where we sleep, it's where laundry gets folded and kids get dressed. And right now, there's a mat on the floor that Annalivia sleeps on when she gets up in the middle of the night. There's a dresser for baby stuff, which we're waiting to fill till we find out what this baby is. The nursing glider is in there, too, right by the fireplace. And there's plenty of room for more stuff which is good because eventually the baby's co-sleeper will be in there. And probably we'll need another mat for when Daniel wants to climb into bed.
Anyway, the tv is now in our room, too, and last night we fell into bed and watched a little bit of an old Friends episode and then after flipping through our massive seven-channel selection, found a BBC drama, David, on TBN that had us both sort of riveted. I may have been riveted because King David was played by Nathaniel Parker aka Inspector Lynley, but it was also really good! Sheryl Lee who was Laura Palmer on Twin Peaks was Bathsheba. I enjoyed it. I'm going to have to see if it's going to be on tonight, too.
And this morning when Annalivia woke me up, it seemed really early so I turned on the tv and she watched Sesame Street while Daniel and I slept a bit longer. Though it turns out it wasn't really early, it was really nice to have something to distract her because Dennis and I did a stupid thing and stayed up until 3:30 on Saturday night/ Sunday morning. I felt like I needed the extra sleep this morning!
So, while the tv in the bedroom may not be the ideal situation, I think, for now, it is going to be ok, and maybe even a good thing. Maybe. We'll see.

12 October 2008

Cookout, cider and celebrations

This afternoon, our family is getting together at my parents' house to press cider from their apple trees. I've never actually been in on one of these pressings since my adulthood, but I've heard they are great fun. And I remember when I was a child, a friend's family pressed cider in our old neighborhood and we were all invited. Drinking the fresh cider was quite the treat.
After the cider pressing, we are having a cookout in honor of Grammy's 84th birthday, which was actually on Wednesday. Sublime Aunt, Jetsetter Uncle, and the cousins will be there. It should be great fun, too. I've made the potato salad and some homemade chocolate ice cream. My sister is bringing angel food cake and vanilla ice cream. It's going to be a tasty affair.
Today also happens to be my parents' 34th wedding anniversary. My parents inspire me in many ways, but one of the most inspirational things is seeing their marriage continue to evolve and turn towards each other. They have worked very hard and continue to work hard at loving each other. I'm glad to honor that bond today, too.
The only thing I'm not excited about celebrating is the dang little no-see-ums that are inhabiting the farm right now. It is 83 today here -- WAY too warm for fall -- and the bugs are out en force. Heat and pregnancy don't meet well for me. Add biting bugs and I feel pretty frazzled. But luckily, the good will far, far outweigh the bad today. It is a day of celebration and I intend to enjoy. Despite the bugs.

10 October 2008

How can I keep from singing?

My family is full of good singers. And most of us actually like to sing, though none of us sing in any organized groups anymore. Most of the time, I'm ok that I don't get to sing in a group anymore, but I really do miss good music. And I miss singing beautiful music with other people. I like having tunes and words stuck in my head throughout the day, especially when they are lovely and uplifting and something other than Thomas the Tank Engine songs.
Now that I'm back home, I have a covert plan (or not) to get my dad and sister and brother in law, especially, to sing with me occasionally. I don't want it to be high-pressure or performance-induced, but there are some beautiful songs that we could sing a capella, or with my brother in law strumming along capably on his guitar, that would be really neat to be able to sing with other good voices like this hymn, How Can I Keep from Singing? It has such a beautiful tune and beautiful words, especially in times like these.
My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?

The Lord my Savior liveth;
What though the darkness gather round!
Songs in the night He giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

I lift mine eyes; the cloud grows thin;

I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smoothes
Since first I learned to love it:
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing:
All things are mine since I am His—
How can I keep from singing?
~Robert Lowry

I hope they go for it.

08 October 2008

A successful first day

Annalivia enjoyed her morning at Preschool. I was excited to find out that she will be taught by one of my favorite people, a wonderful, patient and kind woman who is a member of our church and, actually, the wife of a minister. I am very glad that Annalivia is in her class and Annalivia was full of all sorts of exciting news when she emerged from school. "We saw three x's!" "We read about Douglas with the monster inside him!" "I drew this picture of you!"
To me, the best part of the day was the walk to and from school. We were running late, as usual, and left the house at 8:53. We walked into her classroom at 8:55 and that included a little tumble by Daniel. The walk home took a bit longer but only because we encountered Annalivia's cousins and my sister walking home from kindergarten.
Have I mentioned yet how GLAD I am that we moved back home?! I love it here.

07 October 2008

New school

Tomorrow morning, Annalivia has her first day at the preschool housed at our church, about a block from the house. I have kind of agonized over the decision to change schools. She loved the one she has been attending and I really liked it, too. It is associated with the retirement community where my grandparents live and the kids interact with the residents every day. And it has a specifically Christian mission and operation, which I really did appreciate.
But, it was expensive. And Annalivia was there all day on Tuesday and Thursday, which was fine, but pretty soon, doctor's appoinments are going to rule our lives and I thought I needed a few more time slots open. So, when a spot opened up in the other nursery school in town, we took it. It means that Annalivia's going to school on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9-11:30 and the tuition for the month is just a few dollars more than a week at the other school. The schedule is very similar to morning kindergarten here and we can walk there very quickly, all of which is a plus, I think. Of course, Daniel and I aren't going to be galavanting about by ourselves all day twice a week anymore, but I think that's probably good for all of us.
Any trepidation or concern I have is not at all shared by my daughter. She is enthused to do something new. She's excited to meet new children. She's looking forward to making new friends.
We always joke in my family about how some of us have "the group gene." I don't know that I've ever encountered anyone who has it so strongly as Annalivia. She's definitely glad to find a group. Hopefully the group will be glad to find her, too.

05 October 2008

What the...?

Have y'all heard about the new Anne of Green Gables movie? It's being called Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning. It's being brought to us by the same folks that produced the first two great movies and the third abomination. Here's the description of the fourth, courtesy Wikipedia.

Anne, now a middle-aged woman, is troubled by recent events in her life. Her husband, Gilbert, has been killed overseas as a medical doctor during World War II. Her two daughters are pre-occupied with their own young families and her adopted son Dominic has yet to return from the war. When a long-hidden secret is discovered under the floorboards at Green Gables, Anne retreats into her memories to relive her troubled early years prior to arriving as an orphan at Green Gables and being adopted by the Cuthberts.
Still haunted by her early childhood, the impact of this difficult period has a far-reaching effect on this older woman, once she discovers the truth about her real parents. She begins a delicate search for her birth father. It is a journey through a past fraught with danger, uncertainty, heartache and joy. In the parade of humanity Anne encounters she also faces the root of her desire to find true "kindred spirits", an inspired imagination and the impetus to use her talents as a writer to inspire others.

Gilbert dead. Ick.
AND Barbara Hershey is starring as the grown-up Anne and, from the looks of it, they were able to use some of the props from Beaches.

I swear I remember that exact pose right before Wind Beneath My Wings kicked in.

01 October 2008

A very full day

My goodness, am I ever tired! We had a very nice day here together. This morning, we got up late, then went to the store and got food for a picnic and met Daddy at a park near his job. Then we went up to the apple orchard to buy some mums and play on the wooden train. I temporarily lost the keys to the truck, but after hunting around, we found them next to some large pumpkins.
Daniel took a nap on the way home and when we got back, the kids did a little bit of playing then we took a walk down to our landlord's house with the rent check. We kept walking and went to the playground at the school. Then we came back and went to the lake where we hunted some cattails. Then we went to the playground at the lake and while the kids played for a bit, I talked with a long-lost high school friend who happened by with his mom, brother, and niece.
After all of that, we came back to discover that I had burned dinner beyond recognition, so we ate some pizza and Annalivia went to Awanas for the first time. Daniel and I bummed around while she was there and finally, at 8:10, we picked her up, came home and got to baths.
It was just beautiful today -- blue skies and puffy white clouds and cold and crisp. It was a good day to spend with the kiddos. And it's a good day to end a little early with a good book in a nice comfy bed.

Finally fall

WOOOHOOO! We have finally reached that wonderful point in the year when it is beautiful and chilly and pants and long sleeves are not only comfortable, but required! It's 53 degrees here today outside and about 57 in the house. We need to figure out how to turn on the radiators, but in the meantime, we are wearing sweaters, eating oatmeal and soups, and snuggling under down comforters at night.
I LOVE this time of year!!
YAY for FALL!!!