27 February 2009

7 Quick Takes on Friday

1. Daniel is teething. Right now, he is getting three molars all at the same time. This kid has always teethed hard with multiple teeth coming in at the same time. I had forgotten what a fussy, angry, needy guy he can be with teething because it was so long ago that the teeth all came in. Coupled with this 2-year old particularity that he has developed, it is downright annoying. Yesterday, I spent an hour cuddling him in bed while he had a fever and while he protested pretty much everything. He wanted the tv on -- NO! OFF! He wanted lights on -- NO! OFF! He wanted this train -- no! the other one! Or a certain book or -- no! I finally made him get down and drugged him up with ibuprofen and tylenol at the same time. And 25 minutes later he was relatively happy. I remember at one point in the past, I swore I would not needlessly medicate my children. I'm glad I've over that.

2. We had a weird Ash Wednesday experience, basically because we were faced with doing a good thing vs. doing a better thing for our family. Both Dennis and I knew that we should not take the kiddos to church on Ash Wednesday, but we had planned to do it and he and I both wanted to go, and plus, we always go to church on Ash Wednesday. But both of us just knew we should stay home. And we were right. The whole experience was trying and the night was terrible for us. We were discussing this yesterday and realized that now that we have no legal, ethical or moral obligation to attend church, we need to make wise choices regarding how our family participates. Our first obligation is to our family now. I was thinking that other people reach this point before their first child arrives. We're a little late to the party, I guess.

3. Our Wednesday night was miserable and both Dennis and I felt like we had no sleep when we got up on Thursday. Last night, I went to bed early and was asleep by 9:15. I slept well, despite having to get up for a low blood sugar episode, having to pee three times, and waking up with Daniel fussing a few times. I was realizing today that, next week (next week!), after Emmeliese is here, I will look back on an evening like last night as a luxurious night of rest. Do you mothers out there remember how exhausting those first weeks/ months/ years are? I'm glad I'd forgotten.

4. When planning our Lenten activities, I wrote down what I wanted to do in each week and had sense enough to pick only two or three simple activities for each week. Right now, I'm reading from Thomas Merton each day, doing a scripture study during the week, and working on memorizing Psalm 51. As a family, we're learning the verse "Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me" while we use our soap cross. The other activities I had hoped to do this week were to make our Lenten cross candle centerpiece and I hoped to make pretzels. I think we're going to get to pretzels today and we'll work on the cross centerpiece on Saturday. It's a pretty relaxed plan and that is good for us.

5. We had our first thunderstorm of the spring yesterday. We had thunder, lightning, wind, tons of rain -- the works. It was neat. Today the temperature dropped again, but yesterday, it felt like early spring. The reawakening of the earth from winter has been so significant to me this year. Each little sign of new life is like a present. It's good to experience.

6. So here's another mother question -- has anyone else been feeling a little skewered by the discussions and condemnations of Nadya (aka Octomom) Sulleman's selfish desire to bear children to fill her own needs, etc? I have been thinking that if someone asked me about having children I'd not describe it the same way she has. And I'd probably use phrases referencing calling and purpose and God. But while I believe I have, indeed, been called to this sacred place of motherhood, I must be honest and say that one of the reasons I wouldn't use her terms is partly because I know it's generally not cool to admit that having kids has been the best thing that's ever happened to me. And that it has fulfilled me in ways I have never found anywhere else and that I'd love to have many more children, even though I am sometimes not "equipped" enough or -- again, if I'm honest -- willing-- to provide the best care for them. And that one of the reasons I'd have more children is because the payoffs I receive from having children are so hugely out of proportion to any sacrifices I make. And I think there are quite a few of us who could be indicted by the "has-children-for-selfish-reasons" argument. Maybe it's just Nadya and me. I know there are other differences between us, but I've been thinking maybe it's not just Nadya, but also me who is, apparently, in need of therapy from Dr. Phil.

7. And speaking of payoffs -- Daniel is currently putting lotion on my legs and feet. And on his hair, too. But as long as more lotion ends up on my legs than his hair, I'm not complaining. :)
For more quick takes, see Conversion Diary.

26 February 2009

Totally wiped out

I want to write about Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, but I am totally, completely worn out. It's the kind of worn out where I almost feel like crying, I'm so tired. So I'm in bed and going to sleep asap. And I cancelled appointments for tomorrow, so I don't have to be anywhere until 4 p.m.
More later.

25 February 2009

1461 days later

Annalivia resting on Mommy in her first 24 hours.

And with her party dress taking cake to Grammy last night.

And blowing out candles. She does her own hair these days.
My big four-year-old girl.

24 February 2009

10 blurbs for Tuesday

1. I made pancakes this morning out of a store-bought mix. It is supposed to be a hearty whole grain, good-for-you mix and is priced accordingly, but it just stinks. I like my real pancake mix much better. Granted, it needs to be stored in the freezer, but at least it makes pancakes worth eating.

2. My mother has become the hero of this pregnancy for me. She is watching the kids literally every day as I go to the doctor or chiropractor or so on. I am amazed by what a difference it has made to live by my momma. This is, by far, the easiest pregnancy I have experienced. I think that comes down to three things -- First, I have been on a low dose of blood pressure medicine from the second trimester and my bp is good, still. Second, I am no longer the pastor of 150 needy people and third, I live by my mom. Most of these days, I'm inclined to think that #3 is of at least as much influence on my ability to cope with the final weeks of being prego as the other two.

3. Today, I went to the accupuncturist to try to get the baby to turn. It was an interesting experience. He stuck in the needles, which for the most part did not hurt, turned them a few times to make sure I could feel them, and then left me alone for 15 minutes. Emmeliese didn't move much until I started to do some deep breathing towards the end of the time. Then she was moving a whole bunch. Afterwards, I felt a little odd, but it was a decent experience. I'll go back for another session on Thursday.

4. We celebrated Annalivia's birthday tonight. Her birthday is actually tomorrow. I think at this point four years ago, I was about to get an epidural that would only numb one side of my body. I was listening to Taize Instrumentals and thinking about what it would mean to be a parent. I had no idea.

5. Annalivia got a new dress from my mother for her birthday. We went out to show Grammy Adaline the dress and take her some cake before the party. Annalivia is going to wear the dress to school tomorrow. She is over the moon about this dress. I'll post a picture of her in it tomorrow.

6. Daniel has taken to pretending to be a kitty a lot of the time. And whenever he climbs up on us for love, he pretends he's a cat. I have no idea why he has to pretend he's a kitty cat to express affection for us, but he does.

7. I mentioned the other day that Daniel sticks lots of things in bed with him. Last night, he went to bed well, but then we heard him rummaging around in his bedroom. We went in and found approximately 30 of his little metal Thomas trains in bed with him and his arms were loaded down with more. He was ticked when we took them out. Tonight after he went to bed, he got up, but only picked up three -- Harold the Helicopter, Bertie the Bus and James with his tender. I tried to take the tender out of the bed, but he was insistent that he stay. I guess it makes sense. How could James possibly go anywhere without his tender?

8. Tomorrow begins Lent and I'm giving up diet soda and a majority of my internet time. I'm limiting internet to nighttime only after the kids go to bed.

9. We're also picking up a new family worship time during Lent, the centerpiece of which was to be a cross candleholder, fashioned out of branches. I hadn't found branches until today when I drove by Annalivia's preschool teacher's house and saw several by the curb. I called to ask if I could have them and Dennis is going to go pick them up, as I type. We'll have a cross candleholder, after all! Lent is saved! :)

10. We have flowers pushing their way up through the ground at our house. On Monday, we glimpsed them through the snow. It was such a great sign of spring bursting forth! Tomorrow it is supposed to be in the 50's again! Hurrah for new life!

Shrove Tuesday

We're having pancakes (with syrup courtesy of the kitty cat) for breakfast today. Anyone else enjoying this traditional Shrove Tuesday feast?

23 February 2009

Baby 'Liese update

1. Still breech.

2. Went to my last perinatologist appointment today. I think.

3. The amnio is scheduled for next Tuesday at 10:30. We should know by late afternoon if her lungs are ready.

4. If lungs are ready, the C-section will be next Wednesday, if she's still breech.

5. If she turns, I'll be induced on Thursday.

6. That's a baby in a little over a week! :)

7. Tomorrow and Thursday, I'll see an accupunturist in a last-ditch effort to get her to turn.

8. Turn, baby, turn!

21 February 2009

Big boy bed

Last night, when we got home from our date, Mom told us that she had put Daniel to bed in his toddler bed. We've had the "big boy bed" set up in his room for about a month or so to get him accustomed to it. We used the same tactic when we moved Annalivia to a toddler bed. They've played on the bed and climbed on it and such, but we've been putting him to bed in his crib each night.

About a week ago, I was telling mom that we realized that if I have a C-section, we were going to have to have Daniel in the toddler bed because I won't be able to lift him out of the crib in the morning. I mentioned we planned to move him to the crib, but we hadn't done so. So Momma did it for us.

And it went great! Daniel woke up once during the night and cried and then tried to get out of bed. We both took turns putting him back into bed. The first three times he got up, we put him in bed, covered him up and told him we loved him. After that, we came and laid right back down in our bed and when he arrived in our room five seconds later, we got up and just led him back to bed without talking to him. He fussed about being going back to the bed and wouldn't climb up, but we just went back to bed without talking. On about the fifth time, he draped himself on the bed, wailed for a bit and then climbed into bed. He cried for about a minute or so and then went back to sleep and was still sound asleep when Annalivia woke up at 8.

Tonight he went to bed and didn't fuss or come into our room. Daniel has this crazy need to have all sorts of things in bed with him. Tonight he started out with two bears and a rubber ducky. We heard him get up and when I checked on him, he had a Thomas the Tank Engine suitcase thing, a book, and part of his plastic sword in bed with him. Which meant he got out of bed, picked out those things, and then got back into bed. And now he's asleep.

I'm so proud of our big boy. And us. And thankful for Mom getting us on track. Here's to a good night and better tomorrow.

20 February 2009

7 Quick Takes on Friday

1. Tonight is DATE NIGHT!!! It's our second date night this week and our third since we moved here in October! Pretty exciting. I love how a destination at the end of the day can motivate one to move through a day.

2. Several cool things are happening in the coming week. First, my Grammy is returning home under hospice care and 24-hour care on Monday. Second, Annalivia's birthday party is Tuesday night. Her 4th birthday is Wednesday. So is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. I also have doctor's appointments and other things the other days. It's going to be a busy week.

3. Our church is showing the movie Fireproof this weekend. Dennis and I saw it last weekend and really enjoyed it. I was pleasantly surprised by how well-done it was and I thought about it a lot this week. I realized while watching it that, these last few years, I really like being stretched theologically in pretty much any direction. I'm recommending the movie to most any theologically conservative friends. I've also been recommending it to theologically liberal friends who are able to find value in theology with which they may not be comfortable. This means I've recommended it to exactly one lib. theo. friend.

4. Has anyone else noticed that boys you knew in 7th grade either look exactly the same 20 years later, or radically different, but not very often anything in between? Facebook has been proving this to me lately. One of my recent Friends has reminded me of this, so I went back and checked the photos of the other kids I knew back then, now grown. I swear, there are varying degrees of change among the girls, but for the most part, the boys are either larger versions of their 7th grade selves or their fathers.

5. Thanks to our Valentine's Day brownie making experience, I've realized that the effect of those specialty pans that bake brownies into "edges" can be accomplished with a muffin tin. Just make sure the tins are well-oiled or sprayed and keep an eye on the brownies because they cook quickly. Muffin tins make great brownies though -- chewy and delicious.

6. I have never taken a picture of my pregnant belly before, even in my other pregnancies. I have a large belly anyway, so I never really wanted a pic of it being even bigger. Plus, I have to give myself shots that make it all bruised and icky looking. Last week, though, it occurred to me that I'd like to have a picture of me pregnant. So far, every attempt taken by myself is just ridiculous because the lighting is terrible. And I keep forgetting to ask Dennis to do it. Yesterday, I gave Annalivia my camera and asked her to take one. I ended up with six pictures -- two of my head, one of my knees and three of the wall behind me. Maybe this weekend, we'll get an actual photo accomplished. Though you should not look for it here.

7. Yesterday, I was in northern Illinois at the doctor's office. I stopped by an Amish store on my way through the country and picked up 20 jars of this wonderful no-sugar added jam they carry. It is made with just fruit, white grape juice concentrate and pectin -- no splenda or anything -- and is soooooo delicious. I have been unable to find it anywhere else, so I bought it in bulk yesterday. Last night I carried it in to the house but did not put it away before dinner. About halfway through the evening, Annalivia came upstairs to tell me that she had put the jelly away in the refrigerator so it could get cold. She talked about how heavy the bags were and how she had lifted them very carefully into the refrigerator drawers. She was really proud of herself. I went downstairs and she had crammed the bags into the produce drawers in the bottom of the refrigerator. It was pretty sweet, if you'll pardon the pun. I love glimpsing altruism in my kids.

7.5. Northern Illinois is supposed to get 6-8 inches of snow tonight. Down here, we may get some accumulation. Welcome back, winter. Now, go away.

More quick takes are over at Jen's.

19 February 2009

Liquid clorophyll users out there?

Ok -- momma-specific question -- has anyone out there used liquid chlorophyll to boost milk supply? I was remembering that I had read about it and it seems like it would be a wise idea to up my intake of it in these last few weeks. Anyone had any experience with it?


This morning, the kids were arguing over the perennial question at our house, "who is the leader today?" FYI, I have never initiated this question. It migrated from Annalivia's preschool. Chalk one up for the argument-for-homeschooling.
Anyway, it is an argument that happens every. single. day at our house, several. times. per. day. Annalivia will be walking somewhere. Daniel will follow. She'll say, "I'm the leader today." He'll say, "No! I da leader!" and back and forth it will go in escalating decibels, "No! I'm the leader!" "NO! I DA LEADER!!" Daniel has no idea what it means -- he just realizes that he can bait his sister and enjoys the interaction. Probably needless to say, it all irritates the heck out of me.
Today the argument was near the back staircase and was ratcheting up and I was on the verge of yelling, "NEITHER of you is the leader today!" Then I heard Annalivia say, "Daniel, how about I'm the leader in the front and you can be the leader in the back?"
He said, ok.
What a compromise, eh?


It's too early to be awake here and I've been awake for an hour, which makes it WAY too early to be awake. My blood sugar was low and my bladder was full but what finally propelled me out of bed was realizing that I hadn't felt an baby movement for a long time. I ate and waited. Nothing for about a half hour. Now she is kicking, squirming and testing the fullness of the previously emptied bladder.

For some reason I just can't sleep now. I tried to do some other things to make myself tired again. I am working on a crocheted dress for Annalivia and did a few rows on it before realizing that crochet wasn't helping me get sleepy again. This dress started out as a sweater for St. Patrick's day with some green and brown and grey and white tapestry yarn that was just really beautiful all knitted up in a fair isle pattern at the yarn store. Crocheted, it is not the same. It's pretty, but not what I wanted it to be. Annalivia was disappointed that the sweater was not pink, but was somewhat consoled by the thought of a dress, even if it green and brown and such. I keep considering just ripping it all out, but that would be kind of stupid as right now as it is between sweater length and dress length and involves a skein and a half of yarn. I think I'll just keep going. It might end up rather cool after all.

One of the big problems with sleeping, or rather...not sleeping, is that I'm involved in some extra-familial commitments that are consuming a lot of thought lately. I'm on the alumni board at the College and involved with several committees through it and have gotten myself into the position of dealing with survival strategy and politics and various other things. I think I am genetically pre-disposed to get into these positions, but I am realizing that I need to avoid them to great extent. I'm understanding that there's a reason that people advise mothers to concentrate on mothering first. The mental energy drain elsewhere is seductive, for me. But the 4 a.m. sleeplessness doesn't help anyone here at home.

In other, more interesting news, I am going to my sister's chiropractor on Friday to be adjusted and see if that helps the baby turn. With Annalivia, I went to the chiro monthly. I really think it helped her birth. It was fairly easy for a first, induced labor at 36 weeks -- 14 hours and 45 minutes of pushing. When I was prego with Daniel, I neglected the chiro. And y'all know my whiny story of his birth. And I've neglected the chiro during this pregnancy also. We'll see if some last-minute rescue helps. I've also got two appointments for an accupuncturist next week, if the baby still needs help turning. I've never done accupunture. I'm eager to see how it works.

AND in the best news of all -- Dennis and I are getting not one but TWO date nights this week! Last night, my aunt wanted to watch our children at Gramps' house. When we picked them up, they were fed, bathed and ready for bed. Tomorrow, Mom and Dad are watching them. We're going to go get Annalivia's birthday present and maybe get a Redbox movie. Can you tell we only believe in hot dates here? :)

And now I think I can sleep again. Thank goodness for blogging!

15 February 2009

Delicious days

We had such a lovely Valentine's Day weekend here. It was, I think, the most enjoyable Valentine's Day I've ever had. The morning started out early when the kids got up a little after 6. We got dressed and went out to breakfast and they had wonderful behavior.
We ended up back home around noon and Annalivia wrote a song for us on the back of a Valentine card and then she and Daniel played us a bit of a piano recital.
For lunch, we had homemade, heart-shaped pizza. It was soooooo good! I love Dennis' pizza and this was one of the best we've ever had.

We all took brief (far too brief) naps after lunch and then went to visit Grammy. And then Gramps, Mom, Dad and Kalin came over for Valentine's Day dinner. We had marinated broiled steaks, baked potatoes, salad and garlic bread. And there was platter of heart-shaped brownies for dessert.

Which smelled wonderful...

...and were pretty tasty, too.
Then today, Annalivia and I went to church and then the four of us went out for lunch to have walleye sandwiches at Culver's. We did a big shopping trip at WalMart and then came home to take brief (far too brief) naps. And then, I got to top off the weekend by hanging out with my sisters tonight. We went out to dinner and laughed and carried on and had a great time. It is probably my last big sistah-hurrah before Emmeliese arrives and it was just wonderful. And when I got back, the kids were in bed and Dennis had done several loads of laundry. It was an absolutely perfect way to end a really, truly delicious weekend.

14 February 2009

My Valentine

Before Dennis and I got together, I had fancied myself in love. It was always in my head, though, and never with people who returned that infatuation. In fact, I had a lot of imaginary things going on in my head. It would be hilarious if it weren't so pitifully piteous. Aside from the imaginary relationships, I also had in my head a timeline and plan for when things were going to happen, how they would happen and what the person would be like who allowed them to happen. I especially had in my head this list of requirements that my future husband would fulfill. On that list were character issues and then there were things like, "Taller than me" and "Is a fan of NPR". I don't recall prioritizing. I wasn't very smart.

Dennis was a member of my congregation and the prospect of dating him would have been frowned on by... everyone, had I actually given anyone, including him, any advance notice. I'm not sure I have ever admitted here that when Dennis and I got together, I realized within four days that I was going to marry him. I can't explain what that felt like. I initially thought Dennis was going to be a nice diversion, but not anything serious. At least, that's what I thought for the first 48 hours. It was sometime on day 3 that I knew... I. just. knew... that we were going to be together forever.

What is embarrassing to remember is that I knew, but I wasn't thrilled by the knowledge. I was sort of excited in a "Wow! This is happening!" sort of way. Dazed, I think, but I really, honestly thought I was going to be settling for this guy who didn't have better offers elsewhere. I should explain, it wasn't a terrifying thought at all. I really believed, and still believe, that, to some extent, we choose to love. And I was prepared to love Dennis. I wasn't prepared to fall in love with him.

We started dating on a Wednesday. By Friday, I knew I was going to marry him. It was on Sunday of that week, that I realized in this sort of startling flash of blinding clarity that Dennis was exactly the person I wanted. I also realized that there was no settling whatsoever going on from my end of the deal. And I fell.

I realized on that day what I have realized a million times since then. It turns out that Dennis was/is honorable and forthright and honest and hardworking and charitable and sensitive and loving and kind and patient and humble and on and on and on... Even though he didn't have the education level I had, he was/is far, far more intelligent than I and so very much less arrogant. I have major character flaws. Dennis doesn't. Really. He is slow to anger, quick to forgive, clever and inquisitive. He is determined and ambitious, but not demeaning or manipulative or opportunistic. He is, in short, absolutely amazing. And if there's anyone who has settled, it is certainly not me.

And as for the non-character things on that list of mine, it turns out that, though he isn't taller than me, he has fulfilled a lot of those things, too, but not in the way I had planned. And some of the things I no longer care about, he still fulfills (i.e. he's the one who does most of the listening to NPR nowadays.) And it occurs to me on this Valentine's Day that, left to my own scheming and planning, and thoughts on what love is and how love worked, I'd be a very lonely person right now. This greatests of gifts in my life could have only come from a God who knows more about love than I will ever understand and who cherishes me very, very much, in spite of what was in my head. The reality He created is so much more wonderful than the imaginary things I had formed. And I'm infinitely thankful that the man God chose for me is mine.

13 February 2009

7 Quick Takes on Friday: The re-done version

1. Our long national nightmare is over. Walleye has returned to Culvers. Mmmmmmm....

2. I started my 7 Quick Takes last night because I hate being the last one to the party and wanted to publish it this morning when I awoke. Blogger was being a brat and would not save, would not save, would not save... This morning I awoke and finished typing. Blogger would not save. I accidentally cleared the whole thing. BANG! Blogger saved. Stupid Blogger.

3. The other day I had Dennis bring up baby clothes from the basement because it occurred to me that in three weeks, we will have another child to clothe. It is sort of a joke in my family that my children's wardrobes could have outfitted three or four kids. Maybe five. So, imagine my surprise when I found only one 2-gallon baggie of almost completely impractical baby clothes. No onesies, no gowns, no sleepers. What the heck did I do with the rest of those clothes? I'm sure the purge happened in one of my irrational decluttering fits, but I don't remember it. I'm suspicious that we will find another entire tub of baby clothes sometime in Emmeliese's second year.

4. Last night, Dennis was tickling Annalivia on our bed and Daniel was playing contentedly with his trains in his bedroom. Annalivia was laughing raucously and pretty soon Daniel launched himself into our room shouting at the top of his lungs, "Ticka me, Momma! Ticka me!!" So I did until we were all laughing. It was delightful.

5. Every week, while visiting my doctor, I drive through the town where I was a pastor for 7 years. I always think about those years and what I do and don't miss. Literally, I only miss one thing, though it has two parts. I miss being required to think deeply about scripture. And I sort of miss crafting a worship experience to reflect that deep thinking. I never realized when I was a pastor what a wellspring of sustenance scripture study was for me. It was just another task, most of the time. I'm embarrassed to admit that.

6. I have realized that scripture study, for me, is best done with others as well as by myself. Studying scripture by myself doesn't really fill me. And limiting it to group study is equally wanting. But the two together are such a rich food for my soul! This is one reason I love, love, love, love, love, LOVE my Sunday School class. The discussion is fruitful and insightful. The teachers are deliberate and thoughtful. Almost every week, I just want to relish it and taste it over and over again. I've even considered going to early church every week just so the lasting experience of the day could be Sunday School discussion. But early church is "contemporary" worship. *shudders* It will be a long, long time before I get there.

7. Walleye, friends. Walleye. :)

12 February 2009

Still not in control

Today, I went to see my OB and had an ultrasound of Emmeliese. Everything is was actually looking pretty good. My blood pressure was 124/62. I'd lost four pounds from last week, which is good since I gained six all at once. I had experienced a lot of pain/ pressure this week and thought maybe little E was turning, but she's still a breech-baby. And the placenta looks ok, the cervix is still nice and thick, and I remembered to tell the doctor I'd eaten recently so urinalysis did not bring a bedrest sentence this week. That was a very good thing.
I asked my doctor about how a C-section works and got some good information about that. I love my doctor so much; she just sat there and talked with me, answered questions, gave me as much info as I needed, etc. I really, really appreciate that care.
I left the office with many of my previous questions having been addressed. But I also have an entirely different set of things to mull over. I am just simply not a person who can not-think about things and I don't think it is borrowing trouble to puzzle over as many possibilities as I can. I like to think it helps to, in the words of Miss Crawford of Mansfield Park, "prepare oneself for every eventuality." Of course, one can't really do that, but one can try.
In fact, what becomes clear in thinking about this pregnancy, past pregnancies, and possible future pregnancies, is that pregnancy is a constant process of having my arrogance revealed to me. I like to delude myself into thinking that if I make reasonably good choices, follow through with certain actions, etc., that I will reach a certain outcome. But it's not true.
I read once that there is an African proverb that being pregnant is like having one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. It startled me. We priveleged Americans don't often think of the risky nature of bringing new beings into the world. And I find I depend on a lot of hubris to prop me up as I stand in that proverb's precarious position. But at some point, hubris is flimsy. It gives way. Then I am forced to realize where I stand.
The truth is, like all of life, almost everything is completely out of my control. For some reason, parenting, and in particular, pregnancy, is the most expedient teacher of that truth for me. The only thing left to do is the best thing -- pray. A heck of a lot. After all, being driven to one's knees is actually a much more stable position than having one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.

11 February 2009

Recipe: Smoky Potato Corn Chowder

Winter is returning to central Illinois with cold rain today. Here is a recipe perfect for warming up some bellies, and at least a corner of the kitchen. I developed it because I had heavy cream to use, but it is good without it and is also tasty without the smoked sausage or with Italian sausage or with spinach or kale or... well, you get it. It's very adaptable.


Smoky Potato Corn Chowder

6-8 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 onion, diced

4 celery stalks

1 can sweet corn (drained or undrained -- read on)

1 lb. beef smoked sausage, sliced

1 1/2-2 cups chicken broth

1-2 cups cream

1-2 T butter

black pepper

Put everything except cream in the crockpot. Set on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours. Stir occasionally. Before serving, add cream to desired consistency and stir in butter and add pepper to taste. Mashing up a few of the potatoes will make it more creamy.

Note-- This can also be made on the stovetop. If you make it in the crockpot and aren't home to stir the soup, you may end up with discolored potatoes. They still taste good. Also, if you add the undrained corn to the soup, it will be slightly sweet. Drained corn will make the soup less sweet, but you may need a bit more broth.

07 February 2009

731 days later

Daniel on his first day

And this morning on his second birthday.

We went to a church breakfast this morning, had family over for dinner this evening, and in the middle, played on the front porch in our 60-degree weather today. Daniel marked his second birthday with lots of sweetness, a few fits, and an attempt to clean the toilet and other parts of the bathroom all by himself using the toilet brush. :)

My big boy is 2 years old. What a gift...

06 February 2009

7 Quick Takes on Friday: The early morning edition

1. Today I am on temporary bedrest. For a large variety of reasons, none of which are interesting and some of which are directly related to me being a moron, I have to take it easy today until I go and see the perinatologist this afternoon. Basically, I get to lie around all day. Why then am I awake at 5 a.m.? I can guarantee that if I was attending the meetings I was supposed to attend today at 9 a.m., I would be sound asleep right now and probably struggling to awake in a few hours.

2. I got the first of two steroid shots yesterday to see if we can speed the development of little E's lungs along, just in case she needs to arrive early. The doctor said, "These may make your blood sugar a little high." That may have been the understatement of the week. Emmeliese probably gained two pounds last night.

3. Tomorrow my baby boy turns 2. About this time two years ago, I was fitfully asleep through contractions before the doc came in and broke my water. I was in Dixon, IL, hometown of Ronald W. Reagan, and positive that Daniel would be born on Feb. 6, his birthdate. I guess not. Oh well.

4. Today I was supposed to go to Eureka College, college home of Ronald W. Reagan and attend meetings and celebrate Founder's Day which is also Feb. 6 ("For it was on this day in 1855, a charter granted by the State of Illinois..."). But I guess not. Oh well.

5. I have been thinking for the last day or so about Jen at Conversion Diary's post about children behaving in worship. I was specifically thinking about the idea that Sabbath worship should be the high point of our week. I know that Catholics view the Mass as a moments in time to come in contact with the real, living presence of the Body of Christ through the Eucharist and so they see that time of corporate worship sacramentally, which is something a lot of Protestants are inclined to just dismiss. But it occurs to me that many of us, especially those of us who celebrate Communion weekly, would do well to consider the significance of the act and its place in worship, and our attitudes surrounding it, and how our behavior reflects those attitudes. Or perhaps just this Protestant should do that.

6. I have not mentioned an update of my Grammy lately because it seems so private, but I think I will share now that Grammy is entering hospice care very shortly. She's not been eating and has lost a great deal of weight and strength. My grandfather is dealing with everything amazingly well, but right now, he's a little sick and I think Grammy and Gramps could just both use more prayers.

7. Now that it is February, I feel like those of us who electively live in states that are usually below freezing from Dec-Mar have the right to begin complaining about the cold -- and effusively. Especially since Phil dealt us a blow the other day. BUT -- it may get out of the 30's here this weekend and for two or three whole days!! Hurrah!!

For more Quick Takes, go here.

05 February 2009

Itty bitty crochet heart tutorial

Here is a super-easy, super-fast project that is ideal for last-minute Valentines. I'm making a whole bunch of these this afternoon while waiting at the doctor's office. I'm making them out of different shades of leftover yarn to add to barrettes for Annalivia's female preschool classmates. If I get really organized, I'll show you what I'm planning for the little boys tomorrow.
In the meantime -- the Itty Bitty crochet heart. (Modified from this pattern at Skip to My Lou.)

First, make a magic ring.

Then, chain 4.

Then inside of the magic ring make 2 triple crochet, 3 double crochet, chain 1, 1 triple crochet, chain 1, 3 double crochet, 2 triple crochet, chain 3.

Pull the magic ring tight.

Slip stitch to the center of the circle. Pull the thread through and tie off and then push the thread back through to the back of the heart.

There you are! An itty bitty heart, perfect for Valentine cards or adding to your crochet projects. Have fun!

04 February 2009

Momma helps

I was really worried about giving the kids baths tonight. Dennis is on a short-notice business trip for a few days and he is usually in charge of baths. And I have been battling some pregnancy-related sciatic pain lately which, coupled with the long-term bone graft-related nerve pain, is sort of leaving me undone at the end of the evening. Yesterday I found out that leaning over the bathtub was exactly the wrong sort of activity for this particular pain combination and I spent most of the time after the kids were in bed laying around and moaning, though largely inaudibly.

Anyway, as you can tell, my story is very pitiful and today I was full of pity and worried about baths pretty much all day. THEN I realized that I live in the same town now with family and I could just call my mom who had called me earlier in the day to offer help in whatever way and ask for help with baths! And I did. And she came and helped me and then after the kids were in bed, stayed and talked for about an hour or so. The helping with baths and the talking would have been lovely enough, but when I came upstairs to go to bed, I saw that she had also turned down the sheets on my bed for me. It was such a simple gesture, but so sweet I almost cried.

Have I said before that I'm so glad I live here? I am. Thanks, Momma, for your help. What a Momma you are!

A flurry of crochet

I've been crocheting like mad lately, but keep forgetting to take pictures of things before they leave my possession. I made a dress for my niece's birthday in a size 2T or 3T. It was ice pink with hot pink edging. My niece is a little pink girl, though I think the hot pink reflected more of her aunt's taste than hers.

I also finished another baby gift which I'm excited to post pics of sometime after I give it to the recipient. It turned out exactly like I wanted it to look, which is always exciting.

I made this little winter baby bonnet for Emmeliese one evening. It was completely my own design and one that I may not ever repeat because, while it looks sweet on a naked baby doll, It is not so cute just sitting on a shelf. It will, however, cover her ears and keep her warm, which is what I wanted it to do. I'm going to post a tutorial for the tiny heart in the next day or so. It was almost impossible to find a good heart pattern and I modified one to make a little bitty heart that works up incredibly fast (i.e. less than five minutes) and would be adorable for Valentine's Day. So I'll share the love and post that pattern asap.

I also started working on a cardigan for Emmeliese of my own design. I made a square yolk and then was envisioning some sort of flared bottom and sleeves and matching pants with slightly flared legs. In the process of figuring out how to make it, I learned how to do the star stitch which is such a beautiful stitch, especially when used in the middle of other stitches. I then decided to save the star stitch for another project and am finishing this cardigan with just regular-old slightly boring stitches. But I have in mind exactly what I want to do with the star stitch. So now I am having problems focusing enough to finish the cardigan and pants instead of racing off to experiment with the star stitch. I will force myself to finish the first project. But it will be difficult.
And I have some beautiful self-patterning green yarn that I bought to make something for Annalivia or Daniel for St. Patrick's Day. I was thinking I would make Annalivia a sweater, but I might make Daniel a little vest or something instead. Poor kid has not really been subjected to his mother's crochet projects yet. Wouldn't want to deprive him of fodder for future therapy. :)

03 February 2009

Breech baby

Today, I had a monthly checkup with the perinatologist and got to have an ultrasound of Emmeliese. The technician printed off a beautiful picture of her face and then I realized that she was scanning her face from the top of my belly. The little stinker has turned! Right now she is breech at 33.6 weeks and is running out of room to turn again. Honestly, I am not nervous about the surgery part of a C-section -- I kind of feel like an old pro at surgeries -- BUT I am terrified of the recovery from a C-section with 3 children to care for, 2 of whom really enjoy climbing on their mother. I know we'll deal with whatever we get, but I'm praying, "Turn, baby, turn!"

I got good news about my blood pressure which has been a problem at this point and to the end of the other two pregnancies. It was 120/72, which is fairly good. I started medication early in the pregnancy to keep it at the right level throughout and it is working. That's very good news.

I am having some troubling issues with my blood sugar, though. I get gestational diabetes right at the beginning of my pregnancies. I've been on insulin and have regulated it very well until this last week when I began running high numbers after meals (150-160 1 hour post-prand) and low numbers in between eating (i.e. 50-60 2 hours post-prand). My doctor in Dixon wants my numbers after meals under 130. And the lows are not good for the baby.

The perinatologist thinks the numbers indicate that the placenta is aging. Soooo... today, we talked plan and calendar. I am going to be getting twice-weekly NST's and biophysicals. And we are scheduling an amnio to test the baby's lungs for Feb. 26 or 27, at which point I will be 37 weeks. And if she is still breech, I will have the C-section in Peoria in the next days after that. OR, if she's not, I will be induced on Mar. 5, when my doc in Dixon will return from vacation.

While I'm not glad that there is anything worrisome going on, I am very glad to have a timeline in mind. And what is funny is that I have been thinking this baby's birthday would be Mar. 3 or Mar. 6 since we found out we were having a baby. I don't know if I shared here -- but Dennis called the birthdates of both of our other children. Annalivia's is 2/25/2005 and Daniel's is 2/7/2007. Easy days for their father to remember. I was very ticked off at him during Daniel's birth because I was induced on 2/5 and Daniel refused to be born until 2/7 and Dennis made the mistake of mentioning how he hoped Daniel would wait until the next day sometime in or around the 31st hour of labor. I told him he was absolutely, positively NOT allowed to make any requests whatsoever regarding Emmeliese's birthdate, but 3/3/09 or 3/6/09 would be nice for her father.

Anyway, that is the news! Just a few weeks to go!!!

Planning Lent for a family

I like Lent. I really, really, really like Lent. It has always been a good time for me spiritually, my three children have been (or will be) born during Lent, and when I was pastoring a church, it always seemed to me that folks were particularly receptive to the Spirit during the cold winter months before Spring. (Do Southern hemispherers experience Lent like this?)
As a pastor, I had a really great time planning Lent. We always had extra opportunities for worship, prayer, and fellowship. And the symbolism and colors were rich and meaningful, I thought. But I was never very good at trying to figure out how to observe it at home. And my kids were sort of pre-cognizant of any religious celebration.
This year, I'm at home, and I'm so excited that at some point in pastoral ministry, I purchased this book Before and After Easter: Activities and Ideas for Lent to Pentecost by Debbie Trafton O'Neal published by Augsburg. I know I thumbed through it at some point and liked it because I also have Before and After Christmas, but I hadn't given it much attention, as was evidenced by its perfect condition.
But, it is a GREAT resource! And I wish I would have paid a bit of attention to its companion book earlier in the year (It includes a great suggestion for building a cross out of the Christmas tree trunk to be used in Lenten worship). This book has a suggested activity for each of the 40 days of Lent centered on a short verse from the Bible. It also has activities for the days of Palm Sunday and Easter and then an activity for the seven weeks between Easter and Pentecost.

The activites are a great mix of crafts, worship, and service-oriented activities. Some of them are more simple -- i.e. cutting forsythia or pussywillow branches to be brought indoors to bloom or making a poster with 7 envelopes at the beginning of Lent to take an ongoing family offering. And some of them are a bit more complex -- i.e. weaving a doormat or taking inventory of one's house and levelling a "tax" for each possession. And there are some that require no crafting or extra activity at all -- i.e. learning a five finger prayer. Each activity is, for the most part, independent of the others, which makes it great for picking and choosing.

Best of all, there are great kid-friendly illustrations to appeal to the whole family. Annalivia and Daniel have enjoyed looking through it and Annalivia has requested some activities.

I think this is going to be a great resource for our family in the coming years, especially. If you and yours check it out, please let me know what you think!

Candlemas dinner

Yesterday, Feb. 2 was Candlemas. Candlemas is the midpoint between the winter and spring and was a time when families brought their candles to a special mass to have a blessing upon them. Candlemas was also tied to the Purification of Mary, which would have happened 40 days after the birth of Jesus and so Candlemas prayers often asked for purification, God's refining fire, etc.

In some places, Candlemas celebrations involve round foods like pancakes or doughnuts to invoke the Sun/ Son. That's the angle we went with here and we had homemade pizza and clementines for dinner and used round plates. And we lit candles. The only candleholder we have is one that is shaped like a deer that I've been trying to give away to my sistah, Kalin. I think it's technically a Christmas decoration. But we used it.

It was a good dinner. We talked about Jesus being the Light of the World and how Spring is coming to remind us that God always makes everything new and gives us all lots of second chances. The kids didn't fight. The only spill occurred before we even sat down. And Daniel almost fell asleep during it.
Then, after baths and the kids' bedtimes, Dennis and I watched Groundhog Day again. We didn't fight or spill either. :)
But I did fall asleep during it.