PHANEROO \fan-er-o-oo\Greek: to manifest in word or deed.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

And on the third month there was a nursery

This is sort of the direction I think I'm headed with Baby Three's room. (Baby Three still remains completely nameless). The work begins now that we are through the busiest part of the holidays, and BJ is still home on vacation until Jan. 5. Hopefully I can get most of the furniture and bedding ordered over the next week. And then we will clean out the little guy's room,which is now packed full of boxes which are packed full of stuff that needs to be sorted and re-packed for storage. There's a lot of work to be done over the next 3 1/2 now the work and the countdown begin!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"I want to see Jesus"

This is our first Christmas without Papaw. Kenneth "Bud" Withrow passed away Feb. 10, 2008 - one day before Lily's third birthday. Tonight as we were heading to a family gathering Lily asked BJ if we were going to see Papaw. BJ explained, "No Lily, Papaw is with Jesus. But we will get to see him one day." Several hours passed, and after we got home from the gathering, Lily said, "I want to go see Jesus by myself." Not understanding what she was asking, I asked her why. Again she said, "I want to go see Jesus by myself." I told her one day she could go see him when he said it was time. Then Lily asked, "Is Papaw with Jesus? I want to see Papaw." We will certainly miss Papaw this Christmas and the coming year. I'm so glad Lily has fond memories of him and I hope she keeps them until she gets to see him again.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Check Out This Website

I wanted to help promote my friend's new business and his new website. His name is Jon Matthews, jonSpot Photography. He did our photo session this fall. He and his wife make a great photo team. Please check out his website and contact him when you need photos. His work is amazing!

Christmas Miracle!

My back is healed! I'm feeling so much better and looking forward to a relaxing Christmas. Now I just pray Schaeffer heals from his ear infection and fever. He's been such a sick little boy and so miserable. I hope he will feel well this week and enjoy opening his gifts. I hate it when my kids are sick. I'd much rather be the one to suffer - not them.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas "Peared" Back

BJ and the kids got the tree up and decorated tonight. I say "BJ and the kids" because I had no part in it this year. I'm trying really hard to keep a positive outlook on life, but it's getting increasingly hard right now. I'm very grateful for how God has blessed my life. It just seems like sometimes I have to share my burdens so that I can move on.

I just visited my OB this afternoon after having a week of unbearable back pains. I've never had back pains like this in my life. They are almost debilitating. After the nurse practitioner checked and ruled out a bladder and/or kidney infection, early labor signs, and pelvic inflammation, her conclusion was that my hips are separating, the baby is laying really low since this is my third pregnancy, and I'm experiencing lower lumbar strain. In addition, I'm not resting enough or drinking enough fluids.

I left the appointment this evening with no helpful tips or meds. Instead my prescription was to take a spa day, find someone else to lift my 18-month old, and drink no less than 8 ounces of water/fluid per day to help Baby Three float a little better. The nurse said I looked "dried out." I admit my skin looks a little flaky, but whose doesn't this time of year with the cold and wind? But then she explained that she wasn't talking about my dry, flaky skin. Rather she was referring to how my veins and lips looked. I have to admit, I've been neglecting the fluid intake recently. When I thought back on my day, I had only drank half a cup of coffee in the morning and a few sips of water during the day. It was already 5 p.m. and I'd only had about 5 ounces of fluids. I started feeling like a very negligent pregnant woman. How could I neglect my own body, and therefore neglect the very dependent growing fetus?!

After the appointment I then realized I may have to deal with this back pain for the remainder of the pregnancy - about 4 more months. I vowed from then on to drink more water, let BJ do as much around the house as he wants without me feeling guilty while watching from the couch, and to not stress out over getting the Christmas tree decorated or cookies baked, which I can't eat anyway. Which brings me to another point...I'm still able to control my gestational diabetes with diet right now. The few times I splurged and ate small amounts of dessert, my glucose levels were elevated. Dr. B reviewed my glucose readings today and instructed me to start sticking my finger 4 times per day instead of just 2 because of those darn elevated readings. So I guess I'll have to refrain from any sweets for the remainder of the holidays. That has been tough because everyone has given us chocolate in all shapes and forms. It all looks so yummy and enticing. But for the sake of Baby Three, no desserts for me!

The tree turned out just lovely this evening even though we didn't use all the ornaments and decorations I would normally use. We opted to hang only unbreakable ornaments so that the kids could help and so that they could touch the tree without Mommy wanting to chop off their arms. Turns out that the tree is covered in nothing more than plastic apples and pears. I guess you could call it our "peared" back Christmas 2008.

P.S. And, Schaeffer has had a fever the past two days. He has definitely wanted me to pick him up and hold him a lot more this week. I'm sure that's not helping my lower lumbar strain one tiny bit.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

All-Natural Products Review

I've come across some new discoveries in my quest for all things natural. The first is Aveda shampoo and conditioner. I love this stuff! My hair has never felt so soft and smooth, and it's all done naturally. What a cool concept. Aveda products can be purchased at several salons and spas around Knoxville. I purchased mine from Natural Alternatives.

The second discovery is Boscia skin care. I like how this product works, completely removing all my makeup at the end of the day with one cleanser. However, it's got a really strong scent. Even though it's all natural it almost has a scent as strong as cleansers with chemicals and perfumes. And it's a little on the pricey side. I may try and find a cheaper alternative. Since I've enjoyed Aveda hair care, I may give their skin care a try since it's a little less expensive.

My all-time favorite find is Pure and Natural Rosemary and Mint bar soap. This product is relatively inexpensive and can be found almost anywhere like Target and Walmart. The rosemary and mint has a clean fresh scent, but not perfumey. And I think it's really cool that the biodegradable, 100% post consumer packaging is embedded with baby's breath seeds. You can plant the box in dirt, add water, and watch it grow! I'm saving the boxes until spring to see if this really works.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas with the Nanas!

Every Christmas we enjoy celebrating with both Nanas - BJ's mom, Nana Kaye, and her twin sister, Nana Faye. I love visiting Nana Kaye's home. It is such a warm, cozy log cabin in the Smokies. It is such a beautiful setting for a Christmas celebration. Nana Kaye and Nana Faye cooked up a big meal including fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, cole slaw, yeast rolls and some yummy desserts. Then we enjoyed opening gifts next to the humongous stone fire place. Such a great start to the Christmas festivities!

Schaeffer, and especially Lily, love Doug! Doug became a part of our family when Nana Kaye and he married a few years ago. It's fun watching the kids chase Doug around, play and laugh. He's such a fun "Nana-dad."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas! What a wonderful time of year to celebrate our Savior's birth!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's a Boy!

Our 20-week ultrasound today revealed that we are having another baby boy! I'm so thrilled! I didn't care if it was a boy or a girl. I love them both and value their difference equally. I love my sweet precious little girl, and I love my chubby-cheeked little man. It's exciting to be adding another bundle of sweetness to our family! He looked healthy and he is growing well. We're still on track for our due date of April 29, 2009. No names so far. This might prove to be a more difficult decision than the past two. We'll just see how it goes the next few months with the name game.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not Cut Out for the Big World of Preschool

I guess Lily is just not ready for the big world of preschool. As much as I want her to be ready, she just isn't. Today I made it official and withdrew her from the really fabulous program at Messiah Lutheran. Her teacher was really great and the director was very sweet and helpful. Maybe we will try it again next year.

Lily never really enjoyed preschool (playschool would be a better description of the program). I only remember three times when she was somewhat excited to go, and those times she was more excited about showing off her new rubber frog and dinosaur to her teacher. Every school morning was a battle: "Come on Lily, let's get up and go to school today." The usual response would be, "No Mommy! I don't want to go. I don't like [school/my teacher/other kids]." And then the straw that broke the camel's back was the day she threw a huge tantrum when I dropped her off. Her teacher said the tantrum lasted about 45 minutes and then she refused to do any of her work all day, which are things she normally loves to do such as coloring, painting and gluing. And now we're having difficulty getting her to go into her class at church on Sundays and some Wednesdays. This had gotten much better over the summer, and it's what made me decide to try preschool this fall. I guess it was just too much too soon.

I've been told that this behavior can be normal for her age. But then I look around and see other 3-4 year olds who look forward to going to their classes at church because they get to play with their little friends. And, I haven't met another 3-year-old lately who hates "little kids" as Lily says. For some reason I don't believe Lily's behavior is completely typical at this age. Some days that's frustrating, and some days it's upsetting because I think why can't she just be normal. But then I come to grips with it all and realize that Lily is Lily and this is the way God designed her to be. It's funny for me to think she should be someone else or act like someone different. She is perfect just the way she is. She has so many other talents and special qualities that I should not overlook. Certainly God does not overlook any of her qualities, and He knows every hair on her little head.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Update: Everything went very well today with Schaeffer's tubes. He did great and had no adverse reactions from the anesthesia. The ENT couldn't believe how quickly he recovered from the anesthesia just minutes after the surgery. That's my boy! The ENT also said, "Schaeffer's ears could not have been any worse, and actually they looked horrible!" But now with the fluid gone and the tubes in place, he should be hearing all sorts of things that he has missed before. We're giving him drops in his ears for five days to keep infection away so his ears can heal properly. Thanks for the prayers. The good Lord answered them all!!

Schaeffer is going tomorrow for his tubes. We have to be at the hospital by 6:15 a.m., and we hope to be home around 7:15 a.m. I'm praying for uncomplicated, quick, and effective!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Birth Through the Eyes of a Preschooler

It's always so funny to hear what comes out of my little innocent 3-year-old's mouth. As my belly - and little bean - grows bigger every day, I've become more protective of my belly against fast approaching objects (and little people). It just so happens that Lily's head reaches right to my belly button when she stands beside me. And one of her favorite things to do is to run and crash her head into me - I guess it's a sensory thing, I don't really know. But lately I've had to throw my hands up to stop her, and I'm definitely more aware when she is in one of her wild moods because there's usually no warning when she's going to crash into me. So yesterday, I stopped her and pointed at my belly to show her exactly where her little brother or sister was living. I said, "Lily, see my belly right here? This is your little baby brother or sister and you have to be careful around my belly because you could hurt your little brother or sister." Lily said, "It's a sister! Are you going to spit her out tomorrow?"

Monday, November 17, 2008

We're Going Green!

We're going green around here, and not the tree-huggin' type. I'm in the process of switching over our cleaning and health/beauty supplies to more natural and less toxic products. All this was brought on by this crazy pregnancy. It all started when I began removing some of the more noxious items in our home because they were making me queasy every time I smelled them. The common perpetrators were shampoo and conditioner, soap, candles, air fresheners, and bathroom cleaners. I noticed when I switched out those products for ones that are vegetable based, even though they too have fragrance added, I wasn't having the gag reflex. I have come to the conclusion that the chemical fumes mixed with fragrance (which is probably stronger since they have to cover the chemical smell) was creating problems for me. It wasn't simply the fragrance itself. I have really enjoyed the scent of natural citrus, fruits and spices as long as they are in their natural state. I figure the benefits to this switch, even though not my initial goal, is to be a better steward of the natural resources God has entrusted to each one of us, and to create a healthier home for my children.

As I make this switch I'll share from time-to-time what natural products I find and how well I like them. (Not all the products I have started using are 100% natural, but they are mostly natural and don't contain toxic chemicals). So far I have switched everything in my shower, since that's supposed to be a relaxing experience and not one where I'm holding back gags. I am using Aveeno moisturizing bar, Tom's of Maine body wash (already love their all natural toothpaste), Burt's Bees facial cleanser, Aveeno shower/bath oil, Aveeno shave cream, and Bumble and Bumble Seaweed shampoo and conditioner (not all natural, but I love the smell and my hair likes it too). I have also switched hand soap and bathroom cleaner. I love Melaleuca Moisturizing Liquid Soap (they have a holiday scent - spiced fig - which is awesome!). Clorox has a line of green products called Green Worx, and so far I have used and really like their bathroom cleaner. It did the job just as well as any other store brand, but without the horrible fumes. My next switches will be laundry and dishwashing detergents, furniture polish and other types of household cleaners. I'm very curious to try Melaleuca Sol-U-Guard Botanical Disinfectant since we are heading into cold and flu season. So keep posted for more product reviews.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Family Photo Session with jonSpot

Check out the beautiful work done by jonSpot Photography. We really enjoyed our photo session with Jon and his very sweet wife, Amy. She is great at getting big smiles from the kids. And Jon's photos are amazing pieces of art. We will definitely be asking him for more photo sessions in the near future, probably in April or May 2009 for our newest addition.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Boy, Girl, or Feline?

I had my 16-week OB appointment today. Baby Three is sounding great - strong heartbeat about 150 bpm. In only 4 weeks we'll know the sex of the little bean. We're scheduled for the 20-week ultrasound on Dec. 9. I'm very excited to know which bins of newborn clothing to pull out of the closet. Will it be Schaeffer's blue and yellow outfits, or will it be Lily's pink frocks? I don't have a single inclination of this baby's sex. I had a strong feeling with Lily that she was a girl. I had a strong feeling with Schaeffer that he was a girl - wrong! And the only clue I've had with this baby came in the form of a dream, and well, it was a grey tabby cat. Yes, I actually dreamed I gave birth to a 7 pound grey cat that came out clawing the nurses. And then the nurses were frustrated because I couldn't get my "baby" strapped into the car seat. Have you ever tried putting a seatbelt around a cat?! Maybe the dream is an actual reflection of how I feel some days when I'm trying to strap in my squirming, and quite strong, 17-month old son.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tubes For Sure

Schaeffer had his appointment with the ENT today. It is confirmed, he will be getting tubes placed in his ears to equalize the pressure in the middle ear. His ears are still filled with fluid and his eardrums are still not vibrating as they should. While we were there at the appointment, the audiologist did a preliminary hearing test that only took a few minutes. She placed little ear buds in his ear and sent varying pitches into his ear canal. The graph showed what pitches his ears were registering. His left ear registered all pitches. His right ear, however, only registered the highest pitch. Although, the audiologist explained that the fluid might have been thicker in that ear or he may have made a sound that interfered with the test results. Regardless, after his tubes are inserted and the fluid is drained, we will return to the ENT for a follow up and for another hearing test. The ENT was pretty confident that Schaeffer's hearing would return to normal once the tubes were in and the fluid was gone. That's my prayer! The surgery will be Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 6:30 a.m. It is a very minor surgery which should only take a few minutes. We should be home in about an hour and Schaeffer should be back to his normal self the next day.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

First Glimpse

We had our photo shoot with Jon Spot Photography yesterday and here's just a glimpse of one image he captured. At first I thought Lily had her tongue hanging out, but after a closer look I realized she had her finger up to her lips. Jon's work is simply amazing. I appreciate his art. Not only does he try to capture each individual's emotion, but he also tries to take full advantage of the surroundings. When I see this photo I feel like I've just spotted an illusive forest fairy - and to top if off, she's my little Lily bug! It's enough to bring me to tears (and the prengnancy hormones definitely don't help any).

If you are interested in working with Jon and his wife Amy who accompanies him to each photo shoot, just let me know and I'll get his information to you. We'll be getting all the proofs to view very soon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Halloween No-Show!

There may be some question as to why I never did post any photos of my kiddos in their Halloween costumes. Well, the shortest answer that I can come up with is this: My eccentric, sensory daughter refused to put on her costume. I have to admit, I was a bit bummed. My mom and I worked hard to put together Lily's Raggedy Ann costume and I put together some pieces to make Schaeffer's Andy costume. It was pointless to put Schaeffer in his costume if Raggedy Ann was a no-show. I mean really, who's Andy without Raggedy Ann? And Schaeffer didn't care anyway. There's always next year...


I haven't put any political posts up on this blog. It's not that I don't care about politics in our nation. I voted and I pray for the next President. It's just that my heart is broken for something that runs deeper than politics. My heart is broken for all of humanity. For too long I have enjoyed, and even worshipped, our freedoms and material wealth in this great nation. And as I say this, I am examining my own heart: Have I for too long put my trust in my comforts and not put my trust in Jesus? I don't desire to see the number of abortions in this nation increase, nor do I desire to see God's plan for marriage denigrated. But I have to reflect and ask where my relationship with Christ is today. He will hold me accountable for my own sins, my own lack of concern for the dying, my own worship of material goods, my own independence from Him, my own bad attitudes, my own overeating, my own arrogance, my own impatience, my own envy, my own selfishness, my own boasting, and my own self-reliance. It's all too easy to point fingers, but today I reflect on my own relationship with Jesus. I ask Him to show me so I can receive His gift of repentance and forgiveness. And as He reveals to me sin in my life, I pray I will be broken so I can serve Him more effectively, and even more so during times of hardship and persecution if He so desires to allow those things to come.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Totally Tubular, Dude!

We may have uncovered some of Schaeffer's speech problems. The story goes like this: At Schaeffer's last speech therapy session, Dee noticed Schaeffer wasn't responding to certain toys that made soft sounds (toys that rattle, swish, or crinkle). She has also observed Schaeffer trying to say words, but his articulation is horrible. Therefore, Dee suggested that I take Schaeffer to Tennessee School for the Deaf for a free hearing test. Through the use of a tympanometer, the audiologist at TSD discovered that both of Schaeffer's eardrums were not vibrating as they should be. The results of his test showed no movement of the right eardrum and abnormally small amounts of movement of the left eardrum. Luckily, when she tested his hearing as it related to tone, his test was normal. She gave me the tympanometer results and told me to take them to Dr. Feld.

Today we visited Dr. Feld and I showed him the results. He looked in Schaeffer's ears and said that he had lots of "gunky fluid" behind his eardrums. He re-tested with the tympanometer at his office to ensure the results correlated. They did, and in fact, both eardrums showed no movement at all (the graph was completely flat). Dr. Feld is referring Schaeffer to an Ear, Nose, Throat doctor. He explained that he did not want to waste any time with medications because the fluid needed to be drained out with the use of tubes. He said, "This is not a case of reoccurring ear infections, but it's a case of Schaeffer not being able to hear." I then asked if it was possibly causing the speech delay and Dr. Feld nodded in agreement.

So we should be hearing from Dr. Feld's office in the next few days with more information about an appointment with an ENT. Dr. Feld said, "Unless the ENT had a very compelling argument otherwise, I want to see Schaeffer get tubes."

I just pray that the tubes are the answer and my little man begins talking up a storm once the fluid is gone and his hearing is restored. He has begun to say "Mama" lately, although it's been a few days since I've heard him say it. Nonetheless, it has totally melted my heart!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

On the Home Front

It seems that all I have time to do anymore is post really quick updates. I have so many photos to share, but getting them all downloaded, edited, and filed properly takes time. So I'll just share a few updates to get us up to speed at Phaneroo.

I'm really excited about a photo session we will be doing with Jon Spot Photography in a couple of weeks (the photo at this link was from a Tinkerbell party we attended and that's how I was introduced to Jon's work). He is a very talented "beginner" photographer who attends our church. I just love his work. It's so real and emotional. There's no forced moments and no cheesy poses. He just catches people and kids being themselves. That's what I've been looking for. In addition, I feel like I'm supporting someone with an entrepreneurial spirit whose trying to get his business off the ground. I love that, too.

After a year and four months of occupational therapy, Lily had her last session on Thursday! Yay! But wait...we may be going back for more. Kathy, Lily's OT, has said that Lily exhibits some symptoms of auditory processing disorder, which is common among children with sensory processing disorder. Auditory processing disorder is usually not officially diagnosed until a child begins reading. The signs of the disorder then begin to be very apparent because the child has problems learning letter sounds and has problems with reading comprehension. And because there's not a standardized assessment until age 4-6, we just have to look at some of the other symptoms. So during this last session, Kathy decided to try some listening therapy. Kathy could not believe the neurological responses she saw Lily have once they found the right music. Kathy explained that when they first put the headphones on Lily, which was playing children's music such as Old MacDonald, Lily's expression quickly turned sour. Kathy said even though Lily held it together well, she was on the verge of tears. So Kathy changed the music selection to something that was more similar to classical music. Ah-ha! That was the perfect music! And if you know Lily, you know she loves classical music. Kathy said that Lily bee-bopped around the room with a whole new energy that she'd never seen before. She was not timid, and she eagerly went from station to station in the therapy room. And for the first time ever, Kathy saw Lily have proper nystagmus when on the swing. If nystagmus is not present you can assume that the child has vestibular dysfunction. Kathy was amazed by the changes she saw in Lily with the auditory input coupled with the sensory activities. Kathy is working with a team to put together a listening therapy research project. And if that project comes to fruition, she would like for Lily to be included. And even if the project does not get launched, Kathy is still very interested in getting Lily back into therapy with some headphones and music. I had to laugh at Kathy's findings. Lily has always loved classical music. When she's listening, it's like she becomes very intense and focused. And she rarely tolerates regular radio in the car. If the stereo is on, it must be Beethoven, Bach and Mozart. When I explained that to Kathy, she was just simply amazed!

Schaeffer had his first official speech therapy session last week as well. He did great. When it comes to saying words, that boy is stubborn. Dee was trying all kinds of very interesting tactics to get him to say words like bubble and pop -- both sounds he can make because we've heard him make various "baa" and "po" sounds. Schaeffer enjoyed every moment of the session because he gets a full hour of uninterrupted one-on-one floor time with Dee and some really neat toys. It's totally worth the $9 co-pay!

As for Baby Three. We're still truckin' along. I failed my first glucose screening. Surprise, surprise! Because I had gestational diabetes with Schaeffer, I had to take the glucose screening at 12 weeks. I failed the screening by 5 points. Luckily, Dr. Brabson didn't feel it was necessary that I take the 3-hour glucose test. I was ready to refuse it anyway because I'm already following the diet and sticking my finger. There's nothing more to know at this point. I'm just praying that the diet does the trick otherwise I'll have to start medication. The medication can be tricky because it can cause sharp declines in glucose levels causing hypoglycemia. I've lived with hypoglycemia long enough to know I don't want any sharp declines. I can't help but be a little frustrated over the diabetes issue. (Warning: I am going to whine a little). I am a young, healthy, active woman. I started this pregnancy at the same weight that I was before I was pregnant with Lily. I exercise regularly, and was even running three days a week before the morning sickness struck. I see so many unhealthy, pregnant women who eat whatever they want, gain as much weight as they want, and still have no glucose or blood pressure problems. I even overheard my first OB/Gyn mention to a nurse how ironic it was that I was such a healthy person but still struggled with diabetes and bp problems during pregnancy. I guess you just never know what those hormones will do until your in the middle of it all. I'm still very grateful for the little blessings God has given me and BJ. Sometimes a pregnant woman just has to whine!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Boys Really Are Different

Okay, so this post may not qualify for publication in the Journal for American Academy of Pediatrics, nor is it based on a super scientific study involving 1,000 children or more. But since I birthed a daughter first and a son second, I've become qualified to make some keen observations and comparisons the past 16 months that have led me to believe that boys really are different (please see disclaimer below before proceeding):

1. Anything with wheels on it is an instant attention-getter and it quickly becomes the favorite toy. Second favorite is any kind of ball.
2. Communication skills may be slower to develop than other developmental skills, and the words "vroom, vroom" will proceed all other words including "mama" and "dada." Although the word "ball" may be the exception to this rule.
3. Anything that rises vertically from the ground is considered a mountain that must be conquered despite numerous injuries from previous attempts (and despite negative reactions - including screams of panic - from onlookers).
4. The unquenchable love of electronics starts at birth, and quite possibly at conception.
5. Testosterone must be responsible for rapid growth of eyelashes. Boys can grow them thicker and longer than any female.
6. Testosterone must also be responsible for decreased hearing.
7. Throwing objects is just as important as mouthing them.
8. Cognitive skills expand greatly after watching an object bounce off the wall and crash at high speeds onto ceramic tile flooring - some would call it a study in physics.
9. Regardless of his brute strength and matchless determination, he still cries easily if Mama leaves the room or tells him "No."
10. Lastly (and most baffling), there's a definite fascination with a certain body part.

*Please read this article only if you agree to the following statement: I agree not to hold the author of this post responsible for injury to the self-esteem of any male. I will not accuse the author of stereotyping. I understand that the author has made some very valid statements based on observations and in-depth study of a perfectly cute and healthy baby boy whom she loves and cherishes very much.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Family Reunion

I'm very delayed in getting this post written and these pictures posted. We enjoyed a family reunion with BJ's family in early September at his mom's house in Gatlinburg. We call her Nana Kaye. She has a beautiful, historic 1700s log cabin, which was moved to Gatlinburg from West Virginia. She has left the old cabin in it's original splendor and has added on additional space that includes running water and electric. In the pictures you can see the original cabin with it's faded logs. Before too long the newer additions will fade and blend right in with the old. She used the same log cabin building techniques that were used in the 1700s so that the old and new will eventually blend together.

The inside of the cabin is just as wonderful and I wish I had gotten some pictures inside. Nana Kaye loves primitive country style, but somehow she has made this style look and feel very comfortable. There are handsewn quilts, which she makes, and antiques in every corner. The sofas and chairs are soft, worn leather. And all the cabinetry in the kitchen and bathrooms are custom built from pine lumber. It's just an amazing place to visit, and the kids absolutely love it!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Trying to keep up

Lately around here it's been about survival. How can I take care of the kids and home just enough to survive and still get to lie down frequently because of the nausea and fatigue? I know this only lasts for a short time so I'm trying not to stress out over the cluttered living room and bedrooms. BJ has been great through all of this and he has worked more than ever with the kids and home on top of his full-time job, school work, and Bible Fellowship preparations every week.

Schaeffer had his speech evaluation last week. Turns out he has low muscle tone in his jaw and lips and cannot form the words that he is probably trying to say every day. Most of his words come out sounding like "ahh", "uhh," and "baa." Dee, the speech and language pathologist (SLT) who also worked with Lily explained that his mouth does not have the control it needs to form all the sounds he needs to be making right now. At 15 months he should be able to make all the constonant and vowel sounds by now. She pointed out that he is still making only the sounds that are formed with a loose mouth. It takes a lot more mouth control to produce the "eee" and "ooh" sounds, therefore, he still just says a lot of "ahh's" and "uhh's." Dee also explained that whenever a child has low muscle tone in the mouth area he/she tends to by-pass the mouth since it's not a fully functioning part of the body. Therefore you get a lot of sounds made in the throat or not much sound at all, which is what Schaeffer does a lot. He can be in a room playing for a long period of time and never make a peep, and then turn to me and start pointing and grunting for something. He's definitely very communicative with his body language and since about 10 months we have been doing sign language. He has started using the sign for "more." I expect the others to come soon as his motor planning skills improve. I don't know what the near future looks like for him in terms of speech, but Dee gave us daily exercises to do with him at home and he will be in speech therapy every other week.

Friday, September 19, 2008

And the latest from here...

I'm still feeling yucky most of the time, especially in the evenings. I guess if I have to feel really bad during part of the day I'd rather it be when BJ is home and able to take care of the kids. I'm 8 1/2 weeks and only have to take progesterone supplements for 2 1/2 more weeks - that's great news!!

And some even better news, Schaeffer's pediatrician is wanting to wait on the CT scan. He will be waiting until his 18 month well-check to see how his head growth is going before making the decision to move forward with the CT scan. I'm thrilled about that because I hate putting my kids through testing - it's stressful for everyone involved. And that news also reassured me how this is not a big issue worth worrying over. If Dr. Feld wants to wait then I know it's not that big of a deal.

Schaeffer starts speech therapy on Tuesday. He still does not say a single word - not a single one - and he doesn't even have a sound for certain words, except for "bbrrrmmm" when he's playing with cars (such a boy!!). Dr. Feld's main concern wasn't so much his lack of words as it was his lack of babbling and variations in sounds. He believes the words will come eventually. At this point it doesn't make since to allow him to lag behind if help is available and we have the insurance to cover it. By 18 months, toddlers are putting together words to form sentences such as "more milk," "want ball," etc. A major leap in language expectations occurs in just 2 1/2 months and he will be falling further behind unless we seek some help. I know this road all too well since I chartered this course with Lily just about 2 years ago. At this point I feel like an expert in infant/toddler development. I just praise the Lord that we have excellent health coverage that includes developmental delays. I've learned that many people do not have that sort of coverage and in order to get help they must pay full price out of pocket or decide to not get the help their children need.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lots of updates this week

Finally, on Thursday we saw a good image of little Baby Three. We were able to get a good measure and the final word is, as of today at the time of this post, I'm 7 1/2 weeks making my due date 04.29.09. With my history of delivering my first two exactly 3 weeks early, this little one could be here in early- to mid-April, but hopefully no later than April 29.

I've been really yucky this week. I caught a virus from Lily that involves a lot of coughing, sore throat, and a sinus headache. It has made me more tired than usual and I've not felt like blogging at all. Even this post will probably seem very "to-the-point" because I'm already trying to figure out how I can go lay down for a bit.

Schaeffer had his 15 month well-check this week. He is a growing boy! His girth is exceeding his height. It sure does make him cute though. I love chunky babies! During his appointment, Dr. Feld addressed two minor concerns that we'll be exploring more soon. First, Schaeffer still says no words. We'll be starting speech therapy to give him a jump start so he doesn't lag behind for too long. Dr. Feld believes Schaeffer will just burst with language very soon. Second concern, Schaeffer's big noggin has made two major leaps in growth the past two visits. This time his head measurment is off the chart, literally. To be on the safe side Dr. Feld will be ordering a brain scan just to make sure there's nothing causing the excessive growth, but he assured me that he fullly expected to see that he just has a big head. Dr. Feld is very thorough and so I understand he would not want to leave anything to chance.

I'm hoping to get more rest this weekend before heading into another busy week. I pray I fully recover before Monday!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Signs of Life in There

Today I had another ultrasound. The ultrasound tech prepared me before beginning the ultrasound by explaining that we wouldn't see much at 5 weeks. I expected to see the exact same thing that I saw last week - just a sack where a baby should be. But today we actually saw the little, living fetus. And the ultrasound tech said, "Wow! We can actually see a heartbeat today!" She had to point it out to me because it wasn't all that obvious to me. She was even surprised that we were able to detect it today. I return next week for, yet, another ultrasound (one thing is for certain, Dr. Brabson's staff is thorough). She explained that we would be seeing a lot more next week and that would help determine how far along I am. For now they are guesstimating 5 weeks, because like with all my pregnancies I don't have a clue. I'm just not good at keeping tabs on my body's schedule. When she measured the CRL (which stands for crown to rump length, I love that!) the measurement read, "Out of Range." Meaning, the measurement is still too small to calculate. Honestly, I'm not sure how the tech knew where the crown and rump were. Ultrasound is such an amazing and baffling thing to me.

From the beginning, I knew I'd need to find a new OB/Gyn since mine from my past two babies stopped delivering babies. I couldn't believe that she would do that to me before I was done! But, alas! I have found a new OB/Gyn and even though I have not met him yet his staff is amazing so far. Very thorough, super kind and friendly, and I feel very comfortable there. I hope I like Dr. Brabson when I finally get to meet him once I get past all these preliminary appointments.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Icky Icky Sicky

Ahhh, the lovely morning sickness has reared it's ugly head. It started yesterday with a full day of nausea. Today seems to be slightly better. I think it'll be worse on the days that I push myself really hard. I'm still trying to keep my running schedule until it's just physically impossible. I ran on Friday morning and then Saturday we did a hike and swim with our Bible Fellowship. It was loads of fun! But yesterday I was really paying for all that physical activity. I always forget how much energy a tiny little bean-sized fetus can suck out of me. Luckily, with this pregnancy I feel more prepared than ever to control the nausea and fatigue. I've already scheduled my day so that I get a nap around 2 or 3 p.m. when the kids are sleeping. And I've started on the gestational diabetes diet to keep my blood glucose levels stable. The diet consists of eating three meals and three snacks per day keeping it at a total of 2100 calories per day. Each meal or snack consists of 1-2 servings of healthy carbs (fruit, veggies, whole grains), one serving of lean protein (grilled or baked chicken, fish, turkey, nuts, and occasionally red meat), and absolutely no desserts or sweets. Right now the no dessert rule is easy since I'm not craving anything like that at all. In fact the thought of them makes my stomach curl. But later when my appetite is flying high and someone offers me a big piece of chocolate cake, I may have to stop and pray a lot!!!

Tomorrow we go back to the OB for another ultrasound. I expect to see the baby measuring 5 weeks. We still won't see a heartbeat until 6 weeks. Based on the nausea and fatigue, I have to assume everything is going the way it's supposed to.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Baby Three

Baby three is currently under construction. The first ultrasound was Monday, Aug. 25. According to the measurements we are 4 1/2 weeks into the process. So far no morning sickness, just waves of nausea and lots of fatigue. We return for another ultrasound on Tuesday, Sept. 2 to see how things are progressing with my low progesterone level. Hopefully the progesterone supplement I'm taking will do the trick like it did with Schaeffer. I always have a bit of anxiety in the first trimester since everything is so uncertain. I'm trying not to have a spirit of fear but to focus on all the blessings that Jesus has already bestowed upon me and my family. He is always so good!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Needed a Smile...

Today was Lily's first day of preschool. My mind raced a million ways as I watched the details of today's tragic event unfold at a nearby school. Tonight I will be thanking Jesus for His merciful love and His saving grace.

Tragedy Strikes in my Neighborhood

Not even three miles from my house a major tragedy took place today. A student was shot and killed by another student at Central High School. Please pray for the family of the victim, for the shooter and his family, for the families of all the students at Central High, and for our community.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Preschool Open House

Today we attended Open House at Lily's new preschool at the Lutheran church. She did so well today going right into the room to play. The teacher, Mrs. Denna, had prepared a small activity for the children to do upon entering the classroom. Lily was interested in the activity for...umm...let's say 2 seconds. She was busy eyeballing all the cool toys in the room. We quickly finished the "sit-down work" so that Lily could check out all the toys. I had the chance to talk with Mrs. Denna for a little bit. I think she's going to be a great teacher for Lily. She shared a little bit about her philosophy on learning through play and creativity. I love that, especially for Lily! She shared with me that she wants the children to be as independent as possible, but that she would be available to help each child when they needed it. I observed Mrs. Denna help Lily with Play-doh and she was great in guiding her. Sometimes Lily struggles with fine motor skills (opening/closing lids, manipulating small toys and craft items, etc.). I watched as Mrs. Denna gave Lily several suggestions for making the Play-doh "work" the way Lily wanted it to. I could tell that it was going to be a good match!

Lily's favorite part about the preschool is the playground. The playground is accessed directly from the classroom. Great for Lily, but maybe not so great for Mrs. Denna who will have to hear children begging to go outside all the time! Lily asked me to take her picture on the animals - she loves animals so the playground is right down her alley.

I'm very excited for Lily as she starts this new adventure. I think she is going to do great. I can't help but worry a little bit and be a little sad that my little girl is growing up. But my excitement for her growth through this experience far exceeds any of my worries or sadness.

As a side note: Sarah, the director of the preschool, announced to us last week that she will need to step down from the position. She was involved in a white water rafting accident this summer that injured her elbow. She has undergone physical therapy for months and just learned two weeks ago that the nerve damage is permanent and she will probably never have feeling in the lower half of her arm again. Sarah cried as she made the announcement, saying, "I will not be able to do some of the things I once did, such as picking up these little ones and holding them." Please pray for Sarah that God would give her healing and that she could once again be able to return to doing what she loves so much and is so gifted in doing - working with children! It was because of Sarah that I chose the Lutheran preschool over some other programs. She is a wonderful lady who's gifted, organized, sincere, and loving. She will be greatly missed.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Dream Come True

Yesterday one of my lifelong dreams came true! I attended a Dolly Parton concert! Dolly still rocks the house! I loved every second of it and I will see her again when she's back in town. Next time I will pony up the extra moolah for the closer seats. Two of my favorite songs that she performed yesterday was Little Sparrow (acapella) and Jolene. And on her newest CD, Backwoods Barbie, she has a new song that I really enjoyed called Only Dreamin'. She is such a legend and I'm not afraid to say I'm one of her biggest fans! GO DOLLY!!!

Melissa, Casey, Tina and me after the concert:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Countdown to Olympics 2008, Beijing

If you missed the Olympics opening ceremony - possibly intentionally in protest of China's human rights - you still must see this video displaying the most impressive beginning to an Olympic opening ceremony ever done. Totally awe-inspiring!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Few, The Proud...The Muddy!

Knoxville's Marine Corp Mud Run

BJ, a few other guys, and I (yes, I'm the only female) will be reporting for duty 0900, 13 Sept 2008, Melton Hill Park.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lily's Preschool Countdown!

Daisypath Vacation Ticker

Since we are less than one month away from the first day of Mother's Day Out (MDO) at our church, and since Lily is not showing a lot of progress in the potty-training department, I have gotten busy finding another MDO or preschool program that would accept her diapers and all. I've prayed so hard about this decision: Is MDO/preschool right for Lily? Is the timing right? Is she ready, or will she be ready? Lily's occupational therapist believes that preschool would be very beneficial to Lily's social development and help her further overcome her sensory and speech processing issues. I've prayed that God would reveal to me in His timing the right decisions for her.

I am pleased to announce that God has slowly unveiled the most perfect place for Lily that even I could not imagine. Everything just seems so perfect that I get a little nervous thinking something will crop up and really disappoint me. But, out of faith in answered prayer, I am very excited about every aspect of Lily's new preschool at a local Lutheran church.

1) Lily will be accepted without being potty trained.
2) The school day is shorter than regular MDO, which is perfect for Lily's schedule.
3) The facilities are clean and very beautiful.
4) The director is amazing and has an amazing approach to learning for preschoolers (similar to the Montessori method), which I believe is the perfect fit for Lily.
5) The director is familiar with Sensory Processing Disorder, and even though it's not a major hinderance in how Lily will function in preschool, the director is supportive and eager to learn as many ideas/tips as she can to help Lily succeed there.
6) There will only be two classrooms of eight children with two teachers in each room.
7) Lily seemed very excited to attend!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Watch Him Grow!

Just give him water...

And food...

And watch him grow!

Schaeffer started taking his first steps last week!! This is one of my favorite milestones. He looks so cute with those chubby-fat, bow legs and flat chubby feet shakily propelling his body forward. It's amazing to watch a baby develop from no mobility as a newborn to complete independence and freedom as a walker and explorer. He's still very unsure of himself and prefers crawling as his main means of transportation.

Schaeffer makes lots of sounds, and loud ones! We're still eagerly anticipating his first word. Sometimes I hear him make the sounds ma-ma-ma, na-na-na, ca-ca-ca, and so on. I know that he'll begin using these sounds in meaningful ways very soon. I hope his first word is Mama, but it won't surprise me if he starts off with "Ba" (ball) or "Ye-ye" (Lily).

Schaeffer loves to push buttons on anything, such as the TV, DVD player, telephone, remote, etc. He also loves to play with the cars and trucks that he received for his first birthday. Instinctively he knows what they are supposed to do.

BJ says, and I agree, that we'll probably have to be more firm with him since he seems a bit more determined than his big sister. He doesn't like to take "No" for an answer and likes to test us on this concept daily. Luckily we're bigger and stronger than him right now. We can't afford to lose this battle because he might turn out to be a big fella one day soon.

I've enjoyed having a son and watching all the difference between him and Lily. Everthing about my two children are wonderfully different and special. I love them both very much!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Blackberry Cobbler Season

Behind our house, along the walking trail, thick patches of blackberry bushes grow wild. Some of them are very easy to reach while standing on the walking trail. Every few nights, since the week of July 4th, BJ has been walking behind our house to pick some of these wild blackberries. So far this season we've enjoyed three blackberry cobblers made by my mom. She agreed that if we picked the blackberries and brought them to her she would make us some cobbler. Yummy!

My mom is notorious for cooking without recipes. A few weeks ago I asked her for her blackberry cobbler recipe. She gave me some very vague directions. Me, I need very detailed instructions. One afternoon when she was preparing one of the cobblers, with paper and pencil in hand I observed her closely and took note of every move she made. And tonight I duplicated one of my mom's own blackberry cobblers. I'm quite proud. It turned out quite yummy. Thanks, Mom!

BJ wishes that I would spend an entire summer as my mom's apprentice in the kitchen. He has a lengthy list of recipes that he desires for me to obtain from her so that I can duplicate them at home for him. I guess blackberry cobbler is a good start.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mini Vacation

BJ, the kids, and I will be heading to Townsend tomorrow for a long weekend - and then again on Monday through Wednesday without the kids to celebrate our upcoming 10-year wedding anniversary (10 years of amazing lovin' as I've been teasing BJ). I'll be sharing lots of photos (only of the kids...hee hee hee) when I return, especially since I still need to post Schaeffer's first birthday party photos from this past weekend.

Happy Fourth of July!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Life Outside the Basket

I happened upon an article in Parenting (Sizing things up, July 2008). The article explained the development of 1-2 year olds. This is an excerpt from that article:

...Once toddlers have mastered walking and can recognize themselves in mirrors, they'll try figuring out how they "fit in" with the world.
Shortly after reading this article, like a day later, I noticed Schaeffer climbing into a basket and then looking at the world around him. He had this look on his face that sort of said, "Hey! Look at me in this basket." Since then he has climbed into other baskets and boxes - laundry baskets, Pampers boxes, toy boxes, etc. He is definitely sizing up the world around him and seeing how he fits in. And that's when it hit me like a lightening bolt! From the very beginning of life each one of us sizes up the world around us from our own point of view. We come from a self-centered viewpoint and we see how things size up around us. Now, developmentally that's a very important step for toddlers and children. But sometimes I wonder how many times we get stuck in that developmental stage - like a toddler - and never move past a viewpoint beyond ourselves?

Certainly Jesus went through the "sizing-things-up" stage as a toddler to the delight of Mary his mommy. If she had had a camera, no doubt she would've snapped some photos of such cuteness. But as he grew he soon found that he fit into the world based on God's plan for him. This is what Jesus prayed to his heavenly Father on our behalf, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do...As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world...May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:3, 18, 21).

The Parenting article was a great reminder to me to get outside the basket and view the world from God's point of view. And it's equally important that I instill that same truth into my children. It's okay for now that they are sizing up the world around them to see how they fit in. They need that time for proper growth. But they also need my help to guide them into a viewpoint that looks beyond themselves and looks at the world through the eyes of Jesus. That's an important task, and a very big one. I'll need lots of patience, mercy, and love. I'm so glad Jesus has already prayed on my behalf and is living in my heart to guide me through every aspect of life and parenting. He knew I'd really need him in order to get outside the basket.

Friday, June 13, 2008

How It Looks From Here

A good friend of mine is getting ready to walk down the long, confusing road of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) with her 3-year old son. God has blessed me beyond belief by putting friends and acquaintances in my path at exactly the right moments as we have traveled down the SPD road with Lily starting 25 months ago. Each one of these people that God has sent my way has blessed me tremendously in a way many people will never understand. They have offered their caring hearts, listening ears, and sound advice. I know God has worked out every detail, and even well before I even knew what details to worry about. And if you know me, I worry about details. But God has had it covered each step of the way. I pray my friend will experience that for herself and know that God is in control and He loves and cares for her son more than she will ever be able to - For God so loved us that He gave His one and only son. Because I know God is faithful, and because He has been faithful to reveal His love for me and my family, I can say without a doubt that it is all in His hands. No matter what the it might be today or tomorrow, He is in control and His plans are perfect.

As I was trying to be available for my friend who is starting down this road with lots of questions and doubts for the future, I wrote her an email. It wasn't until yesterday when I looked back at that email did I realize that I had never written down in detail how SPD looks from here - in our home with our daughter. For the first time yesterday I summed up as much detail as possible into one email. I wanted to capture that information here (plus a little more for clarification) as part of my online scrapbook. Honestly, this has been a very therapeutic experience for me, to be able to take the experiences that God has put us through and to be able to share it with others facing the same unknowns, doubts, and fears. I hope this information might help educate, and more importantly, help someone else out there who thinks their child is some way different but they aren't sure why. Even if it's not SPD, I hope it inspires a mom or dad to act on their intincts and seek help and answers early.

"How It Looks From Here"

Most of Lily's sensory issues cause her to be "defensive" while some children experience the opposite by being "under-responsive" or "seekers." Lily experiences sensory defensiveness across the board in all the senses: tactile, vestibular, proprioceptive, auditory, oral, olafactory,and visual. Some areas are more pronounced than others for her, but all of them have had a profound affect on her daily life.

This is how SPD translates in her world. She is very slow to accept change - this includes clothing, food, routines, music, temperature, and the list goes on. Lily has lagged behind in social interaction out of fear and anxiety. She has resisted, but is doing better, at exploring her world, including our home and outdoors. Because of her resistance to exploring and trying new things, she has lagged behind in motor development as well. She finds fine motor skills especially difficult, such as drawing, working puzzles, opening lids, building blocks, etc. Until therapy she avoided playground equipment altogether. When most children have natural curiousity and learn things on their own, I've never been able to assume that Lily is learning skills on her own. She is strictly attached to certain objects – pacifiers and small objects. She is also attached to certain routines – an orderly bedroom, bedtime, and playtime routines are just a few. She has dealt with separation anxieties way longer than expected and has resisted potty training so far. She also has some internal regulation problems (going from sleep to wake or from hot to cold).

And Lily has some language processing problems, such as difficulty discriminating certain sounds especially words that sound similar or are similar (paint brush and piggy bank, just a recent example). She is easily distracted by background noises; has difficulty understanding what is said to her and answering basic questions; has difficulty with talking about a sequence of events and putting her thoughts into words. And she has some processing problems with naming shapes, colors, letters, numbers, etc. Many times she knows the information, but retrieving the information out of her brain is difficult. She has developed "cover-up" techniques because she has realized that sometimes answering questions is difficult. These things have resulted in her developing speech from rote memory - repeating phrases that she had heard. Since therapy, this too has gotten much better and she has much more spontaneous speech.

Her sensory issues earned her a "failure to thrive" diagnosis (no growth for over 6 months) when she was around 18 months old because she hates to eat. Her favorites continue to be the ones that she adopted when she was between 12-18 months. I constantly stay on top of her to eat and she must drink PediaSure in order to thrive and stay at least in the 5th percentile for growth.

Now that I know what I know and I've seen this disorder have such a direct impact on my daughter's well-being and overall health, I am much more confident at trusting my mommy instinct. That's one of the toughest aspects of dealing with a child who on the outside looks very typical (and quite cute), but has some special needs on the inside.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Quadruple Ear Infection

Quadruple ear infection is what you get when you have two kids with runny, snotty noses for over a week. Antibiotics all around!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Today is one year from the day you entered our lives. I love you very much! You are so energetic and happy. You are such a blessing to me and your Daddy. Your big sis is so proud of you. I can tell by the way she loves to play with you and make you laugh. You've already grown so much in so little time. I'm happy to be your Mommy and to watch you grow each day. Happy Birthday, my son!

Click here to view Schaeffer's 1 year slide show.


Friday, May 30, 2008

This Too is Meaningless!

In exactly 2 months, 2 weeks and 6 days, Lily will (or should) begin preschool at our church. The caveat: she must be fully potty trained at age 3 in order to attend. After employing a variety of tried-and-true potty-training techniques, I've decided to take the no-pressure approach. As King Solomon said, "For whom am I toiling...and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment? This too is meaningless - a miserable business!" (Ecclesiastes 4:8). Lily is 3 years old (40 months to be exact). I could spend hours, days, weeks, months, and even years (Oh help me, Lord!) worrying, fretting, pressuring, pleading, and nagging to get Lily to try and use the potty. It's all meaningless! Until she is good and ready to take the steps toward potty training, I'm basically toiling for nothing. A wise friend with three children told me, "If Lily is not potty trained by August, then you know it is not God's timing for her to go to preschool." So true. In God's timing she will be ready and His timing is perfect. Even though I'm feverishly praying that His timing be before August!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I Love Weddings

I love weddings and all that they mean: God joining together one man and one woman to become one flesh. It may seem like a ceremonial ritual to a lot of people (or a binding legal contract). But before God it is a lasting promise. It points to the covenant He has set between Himself and mankind. Even though people may separate and divorce here on earth, a marriage remains binding in the sight of the Lord ("Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." Matt 19:6) . It points to a wonderful promise. Even when life's circumstances may pull us in many directions and greatly influence our emotions and desires, we can still trust that the Lord will never leave us nor separate from us. We are His and He is ours forever. When we accept Him into our lives, we become one.
Next month my friend Lori will be marrying the man whom she loves (Lori pictured to the right trying on wedding gowns - isn't she beautiful?!). I am very excited for her. Marriage brings about so many new revelations in life. In my marriage I have come to understand more about myself and others. I've come face-to-face with compromise, submission, and love under all circumstances. Marriage has a way of harvesting the fruits of the Spirit. Without the fruits of the Spirit in marriage it becomes nothing more than two people living together, like roommates who cross paths in the living room and who happen to sleep in the same bedroom.

And then when God blesses a married couple with children, joy and love only grows deeper. It was not until the moment when I first laid eyes upon my newborn baby girl did I experience just a fraction of what God the Father must feel for us every day. It has become such a strong awareness that I would lay my life down for my little ones if it meant saving theirs. And to think that God allowed His son to die for all of us who are severely undeserving of such grace.
I am proud to say that BJ and I will be celebrating 10 years of marriage on July 11. Marriage has been such a wonderful thing -- an amazing picture of our relationship with our Savior and our Maker. I pray that the Lord bestows blessings upon Lori and her fiance and that their home and marriage be a reflection of His love for others to see.

"Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death" (Song of Solomon 8:6).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Our Little Artist

I finally finished framing and hanging Lily's artwork. It looks terrific in our bonus room -- really livens up the place. Lily has such a great eye for color and balance. I'm always amazed at how she fills up a page with color while maintaining a sense of balance in each piece. I know she doesn't understand what she is doing yet but she sure does act like it! It just goes to show you how wonderfully creative children can be.

Sometimes when she gets a painting started and then pushes it aside to discard, I sneak it away and begin to add my own paint to it. It's my way of sharing in some of her creative flow. One example is pictured below (top). She painted the red, yellow, and blue circle in the middle and added some radiating lines and some other shapes. When she was done and had pushed it aside, I added more color in the same style that she had started. It's our very first mother-daughter painting. It happens to be BJ's favorite.

Lily began finger painting about six months ago as a form of tactile sensory therapy. She hates (and I really mean absolutely cannot stand) to have stuff on her hands. Finger painting is helping to desensitize her from tactile defensiveness. She may finger paint for a few minutes before asking to wash it off, but then I offer her a paint brush so that she can continue. Some of her paintings below are done by finger and some are done by brush. The hand print painting was a huge accomplishment because she actually put paint in the palm of her hand -- that's supposedly one of the more difficult areas for kids with sensory problems.

I'm a very proud Mommy! I'm excited about starting Mommy and Me painting classes together in the near future. We will have such a blast!

Mother's Day Bouquet

BJ's aunt made me a beautiful bouquet for Mother's Day from her own garden. I can only imagine what her yard must look like this time of year. We need to make the hour drive to see it and pay her a visit sometime soon. Sometimes I wish I had a yard large enough for gardening, but then I think of all the other responsibilities I have right now. My garden would quickly turn into a weed bed. At least I can enjoy a small portion of Aunt Faye's garden right in my home.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Photo Collage

Some time ago, BJ started collecting photos of churches around town (and from others on their travels). This is the beginning of his photo collection. I made time today to get them printed and picked out some frames for them. We are putting together a photo collage on one of our big empty walls in our bonus room. I also found some wrought iron crosses to add to the collage. I can't wait to see how it turns out. This was all BJ's idea and I really love it. If you have any photos of unique churches, please feel free to email them to me. I'd love to add them to BJ's collection.

And for another post, I'll put together some photos of Lily's paintings. While I was picking out frames today, I went ahead and purchased some frames for her watercolor masterpieces. They will be absolutely beautiful in the kid area of the bonus room.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Update: "Good to Go!"

Just a quick update on Schaeffer's speech evaluation today. It went very well! The speech-language pathologist, her name is Dee who also worked with Lily on speech, said Schaeffer is on the verge of some great vocalizations. Right now he is in the beginnings of babbling (she heard ma, ba, ga and possibly na). She isn't expecting any distinct words right now like mama or dada. Just making those consonant sounds are all good for 11 mos. He used different inflection and variations in pitch and he was able to make some gestures to get his needs met. Those are all in line with his age right now. She said Dr. Feld was probably concerned about some repetitive sounds that she had heard during the first 5 or 10 minutes of the appointment, which was only one repetitive sound that he made in his throat. But once he started playing and exploring, his vocalizations really picked up. She said he may just need to get warmed up first, but he is "good to go." Big sigh of relief...ahhhhh. No more worries and thankfully not another kid going to therapy.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Here We Go Again!

Wednesday of this week Schaeffer has an appointment to see a speech pathologist to possibly find out why he isn't babbling with more sounds and why he hasn't said any words yet. Still no mama, dada, baba, or bye-bye. Our pediatrician, Dr. Feld, wanted to play it safe and get him evaluated. I'm glad he takes a more proactive, cautious approach instead of playing the "wait-and-see" game. Nothing is more stressful for a mom than to wait and see. My heart tells me that Schaeffer might just be a late talker since his sister keeps our house full of noise and constant chatter. He is right on target with other developmental milestones, and he is not showing any sensitivities to noise, lights, textures, movement, and so on like Lily did at this age.

As suggested by Dr. Feld, we've already begun sign language with a few words to help promote better communication. We use sign for the words more, finished/all done, Mommy, Daddy, eat, drink and bath. Schaeffer has seemed to pick up on the sign for more even though it looks like he is just clapping his hands. It's neat to see him picking up on sign language as a meaningful way of communicating. Lily used the sign for more all the time. In fact, she would use it for almost anything that she wanted. One day when she was a little over a year old, we were all in the car together. Suddenly she became very frustrated and started yelling out at us. We looked back at her in her car seat and she was frantically signing more. Unfortunately it was our duty to figure out what she wanted more of. But at least she could communicate her needs at such a young age without all the crying, grunting, and screaming that usually comes out the mouths of frustrated 1-year-olds.

Regardless of the outcome at Wednesday's appointment, Schaeffer is our sweet little boy. I could not love him any more or any less. I just want the best start in life for him and whatever that might mean for all of us.

Friday, May 9, 2008

My Little Brother is now a Doctor of Philosophy

I can hardly believe that my little brother is now a doctor with his PhD in Nuclear Engineering from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. We are so proud of Matthew and all his accomplishments, especially at such a young age (only 25 years old!). Last night we attended his hooding ceremony at Thompson-Boling Arena on UT campus. You can read more about Matthew's accomphlishments by visiting this link.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Strong-Willed Child

Today I was told by Lily's occupational therapist that I needed to read the book The Strong-Willed Child. What?! Not my way! BJ picked up two copies if that tells you anything.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Dear Schaeffer,

Today you turn 11 months old. It is hard to believe that only a short while ago you were so tiny and so fragile. Now look at you! You are such a growing boy full of life and energy. I didn't even know my heart was capable of so much love. First it was just your Daddy, big sissy and me. And my heart was already filled to over-flowing. Then you came along and my heart must have grown ten fold!

The day you entered my world was amazing and terrifying. You looked so strong and healthy. And then the news came that you would need extra care because your lungs were still too immature. For only a brief moment we were able to introduce ourselves to you before you were rushed away to intensive care. For six days I visited you every three hours. As I think back about that moment, I remember how it felt. I explained it to your Daddy like this: For those six days every three hours felt like a first date. I watched the clock and counted down every minute before I could see you again. And as I rushed to be by your side I was relieved and overjoyed to see your big dark eyes staring back at me. You recognized me from the very beginning and I loved you from the moment I saw you. I have grown to love you even more today.

In just one month you will be celebrating your first birthday. We have already shared many firsts with you. Every moment since your birth until now has been precious and special to me. You are so sweet and so loving. Your personality blossoms more every day. It makes me eager to see the work God does in you and through you. I know He has a very special plan for you. I am proud that He chose me to be your Mommy. I'm glad that I have front-row seats to your life.

I love you, son!


Saturday, May 3, 2008


I call this my "Mommy of Two Turbo Boost." This recipe came out of the Runner's World magazine months and months ago (they call it Granita). But I just now got around to trying it, and I must say, it is quite yum-diliacious! I've changed it up a bit just because I didn't have all the correct ingredients, and my modifications work just fine. Here goes:

2 oz espresso or strong coffee (Okay, if you have kids you'll definitely want to bump up the caffeine factor and go ahead and do 3-4 oz espresso or strong coffee).

3 oz low fat milk

1 oz half-and-half (Or, if you are like me and trying to squeeze back into pre-preg jeans, you may want to consider skipping the half-and-half and going all low fat milk. Why add the additional guilt, right?)

2 cups standard-size ice cubes

1 oz chocolate syrup or cocoa powder (If you go the guilt-free route suggested above, you won't feel so guilty about adding a bit more chocolate here. The payoff is magnifique!)

Mix all ingredients in a blender for 25 seconds or until smooth. Serve immediately. Makes two 8-oz servings...or one 16-oz "Mother of Two Turbo Boost."

Calories (with chocolate syrup): 90; Fat: 2 g; Carbs: 15 g; Protein: 2 g. (Not bad, ey?)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Rainbow Day!

We've been looking forward to Rainbow day for 35 long days. That's how many days ago we placed the order for the Rainbow Sunshine Castle. And today they delivered the swingset and installed it. Lily loves it! We spent the entire day, with the exception of two hours for naptime, to swing, slide, climb, and jump.

As soon as Lily woke up this morning, I showed her the construction out her bedroom window. She immediately wanted her clothes on to go outside to check it out. It was a very windy day today, so Lily insisted on wearing her winter coat most of the day. I was sweating well before noon so I'm not sure how she could stand it.

As soon as the construction was done, Lily jumped on the swing and hardly took any breaks. I think that girl could swing for hours and hours. And when a few of her friends stopped by she allowed them to swing, but only on the blue one because the red one was hers and she was not giving it up. I hope her enthusiasm for the swingset remains for many years, and I hope Schaeffer grows to love it as well. He really enjoyed the baby swing that I attached to the swingset later in the day.

I can only imagine the hours we will spend this summer outside playing on the Rainbow.

(The path behind the swingset is our neighborhood walking trail that's right behind our house. What a great park setting for the new swingset.)