Friday, January 23, 2009

sharing and fairness and Christmas

I don't know why I didn't think to post this story before now. It actually happened earlier this week, and it's pretty funny. But somehow it just never made it here. Still, I think it is blog-worthy. :)

I don't remember when the tradition started (that's how far back it goes), but every year for Christmas my dad buys me a stuffed animal. I have amassed quite the collection. We are great lovers of tradition and can't quite give up the practice, even though 31 might be considered by some too old to be getting stuffed animals for Christmas.

When Sarah came along, she benefited from this ritual, receiving a few stuffed animals of her own. Dad did something a little different this year. He bought a teddy bear, and he wrote 3 names on the gift tag: mine, Sarah's and Natalie's (our name for the baby). We brought the bear home.

Sarah has been asking about this bear ever since. The conversation has always gone very much the same. "The tag says Mommy and Sarah and Natalie?" she'll ask.

"Yes," I answer. "It's for the three of us to share." Sarah always seems troubled by this, but she never took the issue any further than that. I didn't push. I honestly thought that perhaps she was already feeling the sting of sibling rivalry and was disturbed over sharing a bear with Natalie. I wasn't going to make a big deal of it at this point. So each time she ended the conversation, I did as well.

Silly me. I had it all wrong.

Since it has been almost a month since Christmas, we have obviously been going over this same ground for awhile now. But on Tuesday, it finally all came out. Sarah looked at the bear and asked the normal question. I gave the usual response. But this time, Sarah continued to study the bear, then abruptly asked me for a marker. "A marker?" I asked in surprise. "What do you want a marker for?"

"I need to write Daddy's name on the tag!" she cried. "So he can share too!"

Oh, my. All this time, the thing that bothered her about that bear was that her daddy had been excluded! She didn't like his being left out!

I gave her a marker. Since we've been practicing letters, she carefully wrote a D on the tag (some other marks as well--we haven't progressed to words yet). And now she is perfectly fine with the bear, because it is for all of us, not just three of us. :) She is actually quite proud of herself for sharing with Daddy as well.

And for all of my child psychology classes, I am apparently clueless. I never would have guessed what the real issue was. ;)

an answer to prayer

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who prayed for my one hour glucose test last week. I've been 99% sure of the results since Thursday of last week, but I wanted to wait until my appointment today (when I could be 100% sure) before I shared any official results.

And truthfully, my title for this post is wrong. God always answers prayer--sometimes He just answers with no instead of yes. In those cases, we trust that since He's God, He knows better than we do. But it is still an answer.

This time, however, His answer was yes. :) I do NOT have gestational diabetes this pregnancy. I not only passed the test, but according to the official numbers, I passed with flying colors! :) It wasn't even borderline or anything. Woo-hoo!

I am of course thrilled about this. I have been working hard trying to eat healthier, exercise more, etc. Perhaps God chose to honor that. Perhaps it is simply a divine gift. But whatever the reason, I am much relieved and extremely grateful. Thanks again for praying. :) Soli Deo gloria! (To God alone be the glory.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

yesterday’s inauguration

Alternate title: I’m not getting enough hate mail, so I think I’ll write another one of “those posts” that ticks everyone off. :-p

Truthfully, no one has to read this blog very long to know that I love my sister-in-law Tara. She is the sister I never had as well as a very good friend. We are alike in many ways, but in others we are very different. We have disagreed over several issues, but we have always managed to do so graciously and respectfully, without any grudges or hard feelings between us.

Today we discussed yesterday’s inauguration. Here we do NOT disagree. She wrote a post on her own blog about the Christians spewing Obama hatred. And now I am writing not to argue but rather to back her up. Only I’m more long-winded than she is. Blame my Baptist roots. ;)

For eight years now, I have listened to liberals and Democrats who do not agree with President Bush’s political philosophies rant and rave. They have said, “He’s not MY President!” and “I hate Bush!” They have made comparisons to Hitler, of all people. They have in their feverish hatred denied him even the respect that the office of President deserves.

I have been saddened and disgusted by this, as have many others. Can we not disagree with someone’s policies without demonizing the man? Can we not stand united in patriotically wanting the nation to succeed and do well, regardless of who is in office? I have been disappointed with many of Bush’s actions as President. But I never knowingly disrespected him as a man or as President.

I did not vote for Obama in November. He was not my choice for the office of President. I disagree quite strongly with many of his proposed policies and his political ideologies. However, I am now hearing the same kind of venom being spewed, only this time from the other direction. The same people who were horrified by the Bush hate are now guilty of the very same thing. I even read a “right-wing” blog playing the tired old Hitler card, and I cringed. (Do we really think that ANYONE who actually lived through Hitler’s regime would so cavalierly make that comparison?)

It is bad enough that conservatives would be hypocritical enough to engage in this type of behavior, having spent the last eight years condemning it. But for Christians to engage in this sort of vitriol is particularly disturbing. We are reminded in Scripture that no one is in any position of authority unless God has allowed him to be there. No one. God is sovereign, even in the elections of Bush AND Obama. The Bible also teaches us to respect and humbly submit to our earthly leaders.

And if you want to insist on viewing President Obama as the enemy, well, you’re still not off the hook. We are commanded to love our enemies, to pray for them, and to bless them. I have every intention of praying daily for our new President—for his safety and protection, for wisdom and discernment, for godly advisors, for the Holy Spirit to move in his heart and life. I will pray that God’s will is done in him and through him. These are the same things I prayed for President Bush. God is quite capable of accomplishing His purpose either through or in spite of anyone.

Yes, it is okay to disagree with policies or to point out sin where sin exists. But even that can be done with love and respect for the man himself, without hatred or ugliness or venom. We can respect the office! AND we can honor the man who holds that office…even if we do not approve his actions. You will not hear me say that I do not support this President, even though I did not vote for him. I do support him and I will continue to do so.

Finally, even though I did not vote for Obama, I can acknowledge and even rejoice in the historic significance of his election. Do I wish someone else could have had the honor of being our first black President? Sure. (I have actually voted for Alan Keyes several times in the primaries.) But it doesn’t matter. Someone else didn’t. Barack Obama does and is. And I am thrilled to see another long-overdue nail in the ugly coffin of racism. I am not a minority, but I can be proud of this triumph, this small fulfillment of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream. It is progress, in and of itself.

Okay, stepping off the soapbox now. You may commence throwing rotten tomatoes. :-p

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

post 201

Well, I promised something special for the 200th post. And since the previous post marked number 200, I think I can safely say that I kept that promise. Sarah's first day of school is very special indeed! :)

Part of me cannot believe that I ever managed to write 200 blog posts (let alone 201!). I resisted writing even ONE for the longest time! Although no one is giving me any awards or anything, I thought I would share a little bit of how this whole blogging thing came about and make my official "thank you" speech. ;)

Way back in 2007, Tara broached the subject of my starting a blog. I think I probably laughed at her (sorry, Tara!). I barely even knew what a blog was at the time, and I sure didn't think I had anything whatsoever worth blogging about. Who would ever read it?

Tara insisted that people would. And she was sure that Sarah could provide me with enough material to keep a blog going. My next objection was not even knowing how to set up a blog. She sent me a link to Blogger. Tara can be very persistent when she wants to be. ;)

All that leads up to my saying a simple, "Thanks, Tara." Thank you for giving me the idea and then actually pushing me to do it. I would never have done it otherwise, and it's turned into something that I really enjoy. :) If anyone comes here and enjoys my ramblings at all, know that it's because of Tara that those ramblings are even in existence.

My second thank you goes to someone doesn't know me and has no idea whatsoever of her impact. She's never read a word here, to my knowledge. But I have to give her credit for being my inspiration. Remember that objection that I had nothing worth blogging about? I told Tara that I was a SAHM, and that as such my days were filled with the mundane. I think I made some snarky comment that my posts would read something like "Today I mopped the floor and scrubbed the toilet. Woo-hoo!"

Again, Tara sent me a link. It was to the blog of a friend of hers named Crystal. Crystal is also a SAHM, with two young children. By coincidence, her older child shares the exact same birthday as Sarah. I read Crystal's blog. I enjoyed her writing style. Sarah and I both liked the pictures of her kids (and Sarah thought the birthday thing was neat). And I found Tara was right; Crystal did indeed have much to blog about. She posted funny stories about her children, updates, photos, and moments of profound insight. Sometimes she shared recipes; sometimes she ranted about various things that bugged her. But she was always worth reading. And so Crystal gets the credit for being the one to convince me that I really could do this.

(In case you're wondering, you won't find Crystal's blog in my blog roll list. Although I love her blog and would be proud to link to it, she is very private. She has no desire for her blog to show up in Internet searches or link lists. And so I honor her wishes in that matter. But I did want to publicly acknowledge her influence.)

Thanks to Nelson, who helps me scan pictures and upload video and teaches me some of the technical things that I need to know. If he hadn't taught me how to get pictures off the camera and onto the computer, this blog wouldn't be nearly as much fun for faraway family and friends who don't get to see Sarah very often. He's also written a post or two himself!

Finally, thank you to both TJ and Tara, my most frequent and consistent commenters. They let me know that I'm not talking to myself and that someone actually is reading! :) I know some people hold a drawing for their 200th post, and people comment to enter. What do you say, ladies? Want to duke it out for a prize? ;)

That's it! I guess next we'll see if I can make it to 300 posts! :)

Sarah's first day of (home)school...a.k.a. bright spot number 5

Here it is, the promised post concerning the fifth bright spot from our difficult week. I apologize for the delay; getting the pictures to turn out has been a challenge!

Anyway, by Thursday of that dreadful week, Sarah and I were both suffering from bad cases of cabin fever. We were restless and cooped up and generally out of sorts. We were definitely in need of a bright spot at that point! And indeed, one did come...a very bright spot!

To back up a bit, Sarah is of course four. She will turn five in October of this year. Many children start school at age five. According to Tennessee's rules and guidelines, Sarah's birthday misses the cutoff (September 30) to begin school this year. She won't be required to attend school until 2010 (the year she will turn six).

Nelson and I have been seriously researching school options though. We have it narrowed down to two. There is an excellent Christian school in Johnson City called Providence Academy. It follows a classical education model (not traditional, but classical--think the trivium of ancient Rome). It is pricey though, and because it is so good, the waiting list is long. We probably should have put Sarah on it at birth. Still we have the application, and we'll see how it goes.

Option 2 is homeschooling. I have been reading and researching this a lot lately, because Providence is kind of a long shot. Apparently Sarah has heard the discussions abounding on this whole school issue. So Thursday, while she and I were stuck at the house, Sarah randomly looked up and asked, "Mommy? Are we going to homeschool?"

"I don't know," I replied. "Do you think you would like that?"

"Yes!" Sarah was suddenly very enthusiastic. "Can we do that today?"

I was surprised but willing to go with the flow. "Sure, if you want to. We can do school."

So we did. Sarah practiced writing her name, did a puzzle, and listened to a story. Then we played with letters and sounds at Sarah loved it. She has asked to do "homeschool" nearly every day since. I started a notebook for her writing practice, bought a book of preschool activities, and we continue to visit the Starfall website. This is VERY laid back at this point; we only do it on days Sarah asks for it and only for as long as she is interested. I guess you could say we are "unschooling" for now. :) But we're having a great time, and she's very proud of her progress!

This is the first thing we did. Sarah traced her name where I had written, then attempted to write it herself. She inadvertently doubled up the r's and wrote a capital H, but overall it's a very good first effort.

Again, she did some tracing, then gave it a second and third try. I'm not entirely sure what happened with that S the third time! :)

This is the puzzle we did. Sarah liked it because when it is completed correctly, the gears will all turn together.

I don't know why this picture is showing up sideways. It was fine in the preview. :-p Anyway, this is the book we read together.

The preschool activity book I bought has lots of poems and songs that Sarah is enjoying. Mostly though, I just draw on my own background as a preschool teacher and kind of go with the flow. We're both having a great time. And I'm so proud of her for being eager to learn!

So you can write January 8, 2009 in your journal as Sarah's first day of school (homeschool, anyway!). :) Even if she does end up at Providence, we have officially homeschooled her for at least part of her preschool experience. :)

Friday, January 16, 2009


As I type this, it is 10 degrees outside. We may hit a high of 20. I think last night we got down to 5 or something equally obscene, with a windchill below zero. Several school systems were on delays this morning. Why? It was so cold they couldn't get the buses started! :-p So in other words, it's COLD here!!! I'm thinking now might be a really good time to visit Nick and Tara in Arizona. What do you think?

I made myself a cup of hot tea to warm up, but it's already gotten cold on me. :-p This is sitting in my house! But Sarah and I did actually brave the weather to get out this morning. Our local moms group was having a demonstration Kindermusik class, and Sarah has desperately been missing Kindermusik. So off we went.

She had a great time. She got to play with a parachute and "lollipop" drums (they are too cute--I wish I had a picture!). She even won the door prize--a free CD! Even better, I was able to sign her up for a new class starting in February, so she's happy. It will be a different format from what she's been doing, but at this point I think she's just eager to get back to it. Her daddy will even be able to attend some classes with her!

Of course, that's assuming we've thawed out by February. I'm off to reheat my tea! :-p

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

ice capades

We make it to Bristol's Speedway in Lights every year, but we've never made it to the ice rink that the speedway sets up. Last year we talked about taking Sarah to try her hand (foot?) at ice skating, but due to circumstances we were unable to do it. Of course, Sarah was bummed about this. So when the season started, she immediately began reminding us how much she wanted to go ice skating!

We were actually supposed to go the weekend before last (January 3). But that of course was when Sarah's cold grew into an ear infection. A cold ice rink and a child with an earache did not sound like a good combination. We changed the plan (again, much to Sarah's disappointment).

This past weekend, we finally managed to get to the ice rink! January 11 was the LAST day the rink would be open, and we (ahem) "skated" in right under the wire. By this point, I was beginning to think that the activity could not possibly live up to all of this build up and anticipation. I shouldn't have worried though. Sarah had a blast! She loves ice skating!

Being almost 7 months pregnant, with compromised balance and bulging belly to prove it, I didn't think it would be wise for me to attempt to skate. I watched and played photographer instead. So that left it to Nelson to help Sarah with her skating endeavor. He was incredibly patient with her as he guided her around the rink. She got more brave as the evening wore on. But she enjoyed all of it! :)

Without further ado, here are our pictures from the evening:

The rink itself. It's not a fancy rink. It's inside a tent, and its consistency was closer to snow than ice. But still, it's fun. :)

Getting "suited up" to skate.

The first lap.

The end of the first lap. See how happy she looks?

Taking a break. Sarah said she needed "to put her feet up."

Heading out for lap #2.

Going around again. She's a bit more confident now--she let go of Daddy's hand.

Nelson did a couple of "solo" laps. Here is one of them.

I love this picture. Not only does it show how much fun Sarah is having, but it was taken right after a fall. I am thrilled that she got right back up and didn't let it ruin her good time!

I tried to get a shot of the one time when Sarah let go of both the wall AND her daddy. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capture it. :( It was only for a moment, then she got spooked again. But at least she gave it a go.

Sarah is asking when we can go ice skating again, but as previously mentioned Bristol has already closed. There is a rink in Ober Gatlinburg. It's bigger and fancier, with smooth ice. Of course, it is also farther away and more expensive! But it is an option, and we will consider it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

this week--the good, the bad, and the ugly

This week was, as a friend from college used to say, "straight from the pit of the land of yuck." I think Murphy was actually stalking us this week and having a jolly good time of it at that! :-p But I can also honestly say that God has been with us and blessing us through it all. Murphy no doubt could have done much more damage had God not been looking out for us and working on our behalf in spite of all the "yuck."

The story actually begins before this week ever started. The day after Christmas, Nelson took my car to do an errand. He came home without completing said errand due to the engine overheating and the copious amounts of white smoke the car was emitting (he said the smoke was so bad it was like driving in a fog). On Tuesday of the following week (December 30), we managed to get the car towed to a service station for repairs. They thought that even with the holiday on Thursday (New Year's Day), they would be able to have the car repaired by Friday or Saturday of that week.

Ha ha.

Naturally this is where Murphy struck first. Everything that could have gone wrong with the repair of this car did. The car had blown a head gasket, which is a time-consuming fix in the best of circumstances. But the best of circumstances were not at work here. There were delays with the machine shop. Used parts didn't work out. New parts weren't delivered when expected. Etc. The service station was as frustrated as we were, because my car was taking up a work bay and a mechanic, both of which were needed for other jobs. And the cost kept climbing. In the end, the station capped the price and ate some of the cost for us, to make up for it taking so long.

How long did it take? We towed my car in on Tuesday, December 30. Today is Saturday, January 10. Today at 4:15, we finally drove my car home. I joked with Nelson that I hoped I remembered how to drive a car after all this time!

But that was only one aspect to our difficult week. I mentioned in the previous post that Sarah had her first ear infection diagnosed on Sunday. She began taking her first antibiotic. This particular antibiotic made her somewhat hyper. She felt much better almost immediately upon beginning the medicine, but she was climbing the walls. And of course we were stuck at home all week long, so climbing the walls is almost a literal description! Both of us got a bit stir crazy. I wasn't sure which of us was going to snap first. Even going outside to play wasn't an option--the weather this week has been cold, rainy, windy, and generally nasty. So both Sarah and I had short tempers by the end of the week.

Furthermore, Nelson's insurance at work has changed. The effective date for the change was January 1. However, we still don't have new insurance cards. We have had a trip to the doctor for Sarah, a trip to the doctor for me, and a trip to the pharmacy for Sarah--all without any sort of proof of insurance. Well, I take that back. Nelson was given a phone number that medical care providers could call to verify insurance coverage. The problem? The number is only staffed Monday through Friday, 8:00-5:00. Guess how useful that was when we were with Sarah at the pediatric clinic and then the pharmacy on a Sunday. It's not like you can plan when you need medical care! :-p

Friday was my monthly ob/gyn appointment. This appointment also included the one hour glucose tolerance test. I have been dreading this test. I loathe the super-sugary drink, and since I had gestational diabetes with Sarah, I was worried about the results. Plus, I am positively a basket case when it comes to anything that involves a needle. I drank the solution on Friday morning and concentrated on controlling my nausea. I didn't want to have to take the test again.

I shouldn't have bothered trying to control my nausea. I have to take the test again anyway. My doctor had to go deliver two babies, and the rest of the office got backed up trying to cover for him. In the confusion, the lab tech wasn't able to draw my blood for the test an hour after I drank the solution. In fact, it had been almost two hours by the time I saw the tech. She said there was no point in even sticking me with the needle; the test would be thrown out as invalid. I have to take it again on Tuesday. :-p

So although nothing catastrophic has occurred, it has been a long, frustrating week. Still, I have some bright spots to report. :) God is gracious to us even in the midst of all of the "yuck."

Bright spot #1: Even without proof of insurance, the doctors we have visited have been unbelievably understanding and accommodating. They have bent over backward to work with us. We did have to pay for Sarah's antibiotic completely out-of-pocket, but even then Wal-Mart said that once we had a valid insurance card we could simply return for a refund.

Bright spot #2: As you can well imagine, my car repair bill was atrocious. It very easily could have wiped out our savings completely. But my parents have generously stepped in to help us out, and we are so grateful. So here's a public thank you, Mom and Dad!

Bright spot #3: This one may seem a bit silly. But it sure made me feel better! Thursday night I desperately needed to go grocery shopping. Nelson drove us, and we went to Fazoli's first to eat supper. By a random fluke, we were the "customers of the day." Our entire bill was FREE!! This kind of thing never happens to us. But I truly think it was just a small "It's going to be okay" present from God.

Bright spot #4: A week this stressful normally would have flattened me with a migraine to end all migraines. I do not cope with situations like this well under ordinary circumstances. But God's grace combined with the magnesium supplement my doctor recommended have left me virtually headache-free through the whole week. I don't have to tell anyone who's ever had a migraine what a blessing that is!

Bright spot #5: Oh, wait. That's another post! Sorry, you'll just have to be curious for a bit. But I do promise to try to get it on here as quickly as I can! ;)

I hope all of you have had a better week! And here's hoping for life to return to normal (whatever that might be) next week! (But if you don't mind praying for my glucose screening coming up on Tuesday and the results thereof, I sure would appreciate it!)

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Sarah has hit two milestones this week. One is a positive, growing up kind of thing. The other is one we have been very blessed to avoid for so long and would have been just as happy to continue postponing it!

We'll start with the positive. One day earlier this week, completely out of the blue, Sarah decided she wanted to try a shower instead of a bath. It was a bit surprising; Sarah historically has been afraid of the shower spray. But we agreed to let her try it.

She loved it!! She has wanted a shower every night since. Needless to say this is quicker and uses less water. And Sarah enjoys trying to scrub herself (she's such a big girl) as she stands beneath the spray. :)

On to milestone number two, the not-so-happy one...Sarah is finally in need of her first antibiotic. The cold she has been suffering through for several days now finally turned itself into an ear infection. Sarah has had colds and viruses before, but this is the first time she's had an ear infection and the first time she's needed an antibiotic. I guess we couldn't dodge it forever. And I do know we have been very blessed to have gone as long as we have.

In spite of being ill, Sarah is her normal chipper self. She was dancing around the waiting room at the pediatric clinic. She does complain when her ear starts hurting (we were told just to give her Tylenol or Motrin for that), but otherwise she is still playing and happy. She's quite bummed that we haven't taken her ice skating as we had planned this weekend. She still wants to go, ear infection or no ear infection! Hopefully we'll be able to do that next weekend, when the medicine has had time to work and she is feeling better.

Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you the most entertaining part! When we went to Wal-Mart to fill Sarah's prescription, Nelson never even had to give a name to the pharmacy cashier; she recognized us! Or rather, she recognized Sarah. But here's the kicker: she remembered our search for Christmas carrots! I am still terribly amused by that. Sarah and her Christmas carrots are famous! :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Christmas pics

First of all, happy New Year! I wish you all a blessed and prosperous 2009. :) But I thought I should get our pictures from Christmas 2008 posted sometime before the end of January, so here they are! (And I'm not late yet--it's not even Epiphany yet! So we're still within the "Twelve Days of Christmas.") ;)

We had a busy week of Christmas celebrations. On Christmas Eve, we went to my parents' house for a lasagna dinner, lime pie, and presents! Lots and LOTS of presents! My parents, brother, and grandmother were all there. So we had quite a few to celebrate with us! (And quite a few to fight over the pie! What can we say? It's good!!)

After supper, we opened our many presents. Needless to say, most of the following pictures are of Sarah opening her gifts, but none of us got slighted in the least. :)

This was a big hit for Sarah: a toy beauty shop. In case you haven't picked up on the fact, Sarah is a very "girly" girl; she loves jewelry, makeup, shoes, clothes, perfume, etc. So this play shop, with all of its doodads for fixing hair and "prettying" up was perfect for her!

A close-up of Sarah playing with all the beauty shop's goodies.

Sarah fixing Mommy's hair.

Other gifts, some opened some still needing to be torn into...

A game for Sarah.

Still checking out all the loot.

Chef Sarah!

These are just the pictures from Christmas Eve! On Christmas morning, Sarah woke up to the Christmas carrots. Christmas morning was also when we opened her gifts from her grandma and grandpa. Among those was a Leapster. Sarah has LOVED playing games on that. She's already gone through one set of batteries!
We ate a turkey dinner with my parents on Christmas day (and we finished up the pie. It is a matter of record that I got the smallest piece of pie. Both Nelson's and my brother's slices were much larger. Being pregnant has absolutely no advantage when it comes to my mother's lime pie. I couldn't move as quickly as they could; therefore I lost out. Sigh).
Saturday (Dec. 27) we went to my grandmother's for a dinner with her and my aunt, uncle, and cousins. Sarah had a great time with Amelia, who is her second cousin. Sarah also went home with a few more presents! :)

So we all definitely had a good Christmas. It was a long, busy week, but there were some special memories made with family, and we had many moments of joyful celebration. I hope your Christmas was just as enjoyable! :)
And again, happy New Year! :)