Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cutting back

I did it. Took the plunge. Put on my big girl pants (well...actually, these days most of my pants are big girl pants, given my size) and let go.

I quit my job this week. (Well, one of my jobs, at least.)

Yup...I gave my five-week's notice to my employer of almost two years. After much prayer, husband discussions, and thought, we came to the realization that caring for a newborn and two kiddos, plus maintaining a lacrosse club from home, staying on the school board and with the youth group, and then working part-time outside of the home would equal PURE.INSANITY. Every mom knows how much time it takes to feed a newborn, and then to keep two other littles alive and happy...well, the time percentages just weren't working out.

And even though I have this crazy thing with staying busy and being Wonder Woman, I'm really okay with letting this job go. While I enjoy the work I do, I'm realizing that this is just the chapter in life that I'm in. And I'm embracing it.

On to a baby update:

I'm now 29.5 weeks along, looking like I'm 33+ weeks. No, for midwife and the specialist are all confirming that the bambino within is a big one, charting in the 99th percentile and weighing over 4 lbs already. Surpriiise, surpriiise, right? He/She is tracking to be on the bigger side, trying to keep up with his/her siblings (our babies were all bigger, thanks to my husband). ;o) Also, while this child is hydrops-free and not showing any of the issues our last baby experienced, he/she is "throwing us some curve balls", as the specialist says. There are two minor issues that the specialist spotted a few weeks ago, and thankfully neither one of those have worsened. They are expected to diminish and clear up, but we are being watched as a precaution.

So, that's the skinny (ha...skinny...not quite how I'm feeling these days, but regardless...). Life is good, and everyone is doing well and looking forward to the holidays, followed by this child's arrival. It's an exciting time!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Seven {7}

I'm never sure where the time goes...

...but the memories are there. And they are precious.

Happy 7th Birthday to our daughter, Danae. First-born, fulfilling the tell-tale characteristics of such.

Artsy and loves to create things. Helpful beyond compare. Mature and so intelligent for a seven-year-old little girl. And oh, so loved!

She's enjoying cupcakes with her classmates today, waiting for her mama and brother to show up for lunch at school later, excited to open her gifts from us before small group tonight.

Happy birthday, my girl.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September Update

So, based on my lack of posts, I'm sure you can tell that life's been busy. With school and activities in full-swing, it never seems to be boring in our household.

We took our final beach trip over Labor Day weekend...something we did the past couple of years. I say beach trip as if it's a big deal...but growing up on the beaches of NJ and having my parents who still live there is definitely a plus! And while it wasn't crazy-windy like last year, the waves were a bit overwhelming at times (I won't rehash the story...let's just say that my sister-in-law and I will probably never, ever again swim and hold children at the same time. I had nightmares for a week, Christa!)

Danae is doing rather well in first grade. Let me just tell you, though - between the packing lunches every morning, remembering which cycle day we're on, figuring out the weather and outfits, scheduling meetings, homework, projects, dealing with the emotional breakdowns (both hers and mine)...I swear, having a child in school is like adding a part-time job to the Mama's workload! Thankfully I love, love, love planning and calendarizing (do you like that word?), so it just takes a few weeks for everything to fall into place. Danae is seriously such a smart little cookie...and just like last year, we are needing to ask her teacher to challenge her a bit more. She does love school, but complaints of "I'm bored" are trickling in, so we'll need to get that remedied.

Caedon is...well, Caedon. Still all-boy, with snuggles and love in-between. Recently, while out dove hunting with his father and almost in tears, my son informed his Daddy-O that he doesn't want to grow up and move away from us. EVER. While I love this boy's snuggles and affection, deep down I'm wondering if he will still be with us when he's thirty.

Life for us, the parents, marches on, with church youth group starting (Sunday nights are a BLAST!), small group, school/school board meetings back in full-bloom, elder meetings, school functions to be at, work remaining busy, etc. We are getting a few house projects done and planning some small ones for the fall, and I'm looking forward to the ever-dropping temps! Never thought I'd say that, being a lover of the warm weather, but I seriously felt like an oven this summer.

And me...well, I'm just large, and getting larger by the day. That seems to be the word I use when people ask how I'm doing and they can't see me - "I'm large. We are having either another big boy or a chubby girl. How's it going out there?"

Here I am, two days shy of being 5 months along:

 (About 90% of my wardrobe is courtesy of friend Sarah and sister-in-law Shila. No, seriously...)

The bambino is healthy and growing steadily, measuring about two weeks bigger then he/she should right now. I'm being told by our nice friends and family that I'm "all belly", sticking straight out the front, looking good. However, when I asked my honest and realistic almost-seven-year-old daughter if I looked pregnant from the back, she informed me that my butt is big, and that it's because I'm pregnant. Eh...the poor kid doesn't know she's been blessed with the Puerto Rican behind as well, so she'll have it someday, too.

More updates to come!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

1st grade and more...

So many "firsts" this week...

Monday: The first day of 1st grade for my first-born. And the first time she is in school *sigh* I miss that kid.

Today: The first time Danae is buying lunch at school. She gets to pick a day each week and was SO excited to be a big kid and buy it today.

Tomorrow: We pick up our first minivan. Hello, world of minivan drivers! We tried to avoid it, but there's no way to slam three car seats across the back of our beloved Outback. So, we said goodbye to her and meet our new/used ride tomorrow afternoon.

Throughout the week: feeling light punches and kicks from the child within for the first time. Love this feeling. :)

Hope you are enjoying your last week of August! One more beach day for us, and then I say bring on the Fall!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Happy 4th

Four years ago today, just after midnight, my first son was born.

Four years old...

Enjoying his most-requested (and only sometimes made) breakfast: wheat cinnamon rolls

My mind is always baffled by how quickly time goes by. How my baby went from infant to toddler to little boy, seemingly in a flash! I remember Caedon's birth so vividly. Natural, not too long, feeling great afterward...the easiest birth, yet my largest baby (he was just a hair under 10 pounds, 22 inches in length).

Now, my Caed is an all-action, dirt and wrestling-loving boy. He's so sensitive...loving to his mama and big sister...quick to hug and touch...often saying he wants a roommate to snuggle with. Yet, he's full of testosterone and creativity, often playing with dinosaurs and Legos for hours, setting up scenes and holding imaginary conversations. I could just sit and watch him all day!

Tonight, instead of taking him out to eat, Caedon chose "mac n' cheese at home" as his birthday dinner. He is a complete homebody at heart, often wanting to stay home instead of going to a store or someone's home. He's also a lover of fruits and vegetables, preferring both over his main meal. His birthday cake request? "I want a cake with apple slices in it." Needless to say, there's a part-wheat Jewish Apple Cake in my oven right now. :o)

Oh, how we love our Caedon and wouldn't trade or wish to change him for anything. Today, we celebrate him!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Costa Rica, Numero Uno

One week ago, Curt, myself, our friend/fellow Messiah grad/youth pastor Brandon, and nine senior high youth groupers hopped on a plane to Costa Rica. Our mission: meet up with Andy and Tina Gordley (missionaries from our church, living in Costa Rica), build bunk beds for a local children's home, work on much-needed renovations and small projects at the Gordley's home and another missionary family's home, interact with children at a local soccer ministry, check out a beach, and be exposed to the culture and lifestyle of Costa Ricans in general. Little did we know that many of us would fall in love with the people we met and learn many lessons (both big and small) along the way.

It's difficult to sum up this trip in just a few words. It would take me an entire day to provide details, explain what we did, describe the people we interacted was quite an exceptional week. One that I would do again in a heartbeat.

I'll be writing blog posts in the coming days and weeks, providing stories, details, and pictures. For now, enjoy the following:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Summer, heat, distractions...and sleep

Another hiatus from blogging. My apologies!

While I have the best of intentions to maintain writing and keep this place up-to-date, sometimes other things take priority.

Things like:

Little get-aways with my hubby and kiddos (the beach, the aquarium, and hopefully more to come!)
Maintaining children/a home/a job while attempting to keep down the food I just put in my body
Trying to stay cool in this heatwave (and not lose mine while doing so)
Enjoying as much family time as possible before my little girl becomes an all-day first grader (sigh)
Some more sleep

You know, those sort of things.

Yes, sleep/napping has turned into somewhat of a priority. Lately I don't seem to function correctly without a little daily snooze, plus a good night's sleep.

Oh, and food...for most of June, crackers, bread, and water were my best friends. We saw a lot of each other (pretty much every hour). If I didn't have them, I turned into a nauseous maniac.

No worries, though, my friends. I will survive this. It's all part of the first 12 weeks of growing someone who is - 


As the nausea lessens, my waist expands, and baby #4 grows within, I'll update as I can. For now, we pray for health and are excited to meet our next blessing, coming in January 2013!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Soccer Camp

We asked her if she wanted to try it out.

And did she ever!

Over-the-top excited for a four-evening soccer camp a few weeks ago...

Bought her cleats, shin guards, socks, and a ball. She spent several afternoons in the back yard with her Daddy-O (who, in her mind, is a soccer pro after she spotted his trophies and senior soccer photo at Grandma's house), dribbling, practicing, and trying to keep away from her sporty little brother.

Oh, the cuteness!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Last Day of School

It was 183 school days ago when many of us mamas had to let go of our fears and anxieties, trust that God would keep them safe, and let our Kindergartners start their journey...

First day of Kindergarten - August 2011

...and today is the last day of my Kindergartner's 1st grader's school year!

Last day of Kindergarten - June 2012

What a journey it has been! So much growth in just 9.5 months, and so many lessons learned. I loved watching my daughter conquer a few of her fears and try new things. My heart swelled when she lovingly gave her own things to her classmates, making her own decisions to show them love through little acts. I hurt along with her when friends said or did hurtful things, trying to navigate through this thing called friendships. It's all part of growing up, developing the character within.

 This morning we had the honor of watching our daughter (along with many other students, hand-picked by their own teachers) receive a Character Education Award (translation - our school district has "Traits of the Month" that are discussed in each school, and the Award went to students who displayed those traits all the time in their daily lives).

The Award was a surprise to Danae, and she didn't know we were going to be there to see her.

We are beyond proud of our girly girl! I might not want her to grow up, but wow - is she ever becoming a beautiful little lady, inside and out!

Friday, June 1, 2012

busyness and slowing down

Somewhere in the past few months - between the deadlines and the emails, the phone calls and the charts, the feeling of working constantly and the guilt of not finishing it all - I pushed aside the things I love to do (baking, reading, playing, running on a normal schedule, writing) and busyness latched itself on. 

I should have seen it coming. When prep time for the busy summer lacrosse season hits (usually February-May), I work a ton more hours than normal. But I didn't figure in the other hats I took on within the past year and how it would all fit. 

And completely in need of a change.

We are now learning to pull back. To do a bit less. To put aside a few hats for a bit. To slow down. To start saying "No" and not feel guilty about it. To stay home more and just "be".

And I'm completely fine with that.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Grief and Prayers

I'll cut right to the chase: it's been a difficult week, my friends.

I didn't even know her and never had the privilege of meeting her. But the grief has been strong at times throughout the week.

A family that we know...that we share friendship connections with...some of whom we go to church burying their two-year-old little girl this afternoon after she accidentally drowned outside of their home on Tuesday evening. A tragic, horrible accident...and a family, with deep, long-stretching roots, forever changed.

We know the grandparents, spend quality time with an aunt and uncle, have a friendship and used to work with a cousin...and we know (to a very small degree) what they are feeling. Hearing the news just brought forth emotions within me, sobs and yelling at Jesus and asking why, and at the same time, praying for this family. It didn't matter than I never met this little girl and that I barely know her parents - my mother's heart just ached all week, the same feelings of missing my son coming to the surface and knowing their pain is at a much, much deeper level.

Her viewing was this morning, and I went while Hubby stayed home with the kids. My intentions were to see the families we knew, hug them tight, and be on my way.

The receiving line was long. Really long. This family is so loved and being prayed for that it's amazing. Friends. Families that attend church with them. Distant cousins. Neighbors. Work-related acquaintances. Childhood buddies. I heard so many conversations, put together numerous connections. Tears came and went (from myself and all others) throughout the 45-minute stand in line. Especially when the child in front of me, being held by her daddy, pointed to one of the little girl's beautiful photos and said, "There's my friend! There's my friend!" My heart collapsed, along with the other hearts who heard her.

In the end, I stayed in line and managed to see the parents and siblings. So much grief and pain. They know Jesus, and they know that this little girl is with Him, but it's painful. It's a rollercoaster. And it will be for quite some time, even after everyone goes home and a new "normal" begins for them.

Prayers. That's all I ask. Please pray for this entire family, their protection, the guilt and "what if's" and anger that most certainly are on their way, if they aren't there already.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Losing Teeth and The Tooth (Mommy) Fairy

Another milestone reached in our home...

Where could that have come from??

Ahh, I see...

Her first lost tooth, which came out on the first day of Spring. (Yes, I'm completely aware that was last week. Can you tell I'm a little behind these days??)

Note her poor little puffy eyes, lashes still wet with tears. Lots of screaming and crying and dramaticness in our house that night. (Not from me...well, maybe a little bit.)

Another change for my baby little girl. Another reminder of growth and letting go and leaving babyhood behind. *sigh* At least she looks as cute as ever! :o)

Danae informed me that she knows there's no such thing as the "Tooth Fairy". That I'm the one who would leave something under her pillow, if anything. That she would not be leaving her tooth for me to take. No.Thank.You.

She also wrote a lovely note, just in case I can't take direct verbal orders:

 Ahh, it's true. One of my offspring is turning out as controlling as me. ;o)

Since I'm an obliging Fairy, (and since she did put "please" twice in her note), I did as she wished.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

2011 Birthday Photos

Welcome, Spring! :)

Again, another one-month break from blogging. Please pardon the interruption - while I am missing the "down time" to get my thoughts out and just write, things have been quite busy, and I've been trying to make my little ones a priority when I'm home. I'm thinking the 6+ friends who are having babies from this past December through May are making me miss those sweet, quickly-passing baby years and desiring more time with my babes. I continuously tell Danae and Caedon to stop growing up, but they don't seem to be listening! :o)

Speaking of growing up...last year our neighbor/friend photographed Danae (when she turned 6) and Caedon (when he turned 3) for us. (I promised - several months ago - to share the photos...better late than never!)

Sweet smiles...

...crazy boyish ways...

...curiosity at its best...

...and a little personality

Preston is a high school senior who will be going to a terrific photography school in Philly this fall. He photographed my kiddos shortly after each of their birthdays, patiently following them around our two backyards and getting them to actually look at the camera...something that they don't do easily for me!  

If you are interested in giving Preston more experience and work, check out his website (Preston Sean Photography) and contact him!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Please pardon my almost one-month hiatus from blogging. It's not that I didn't want to be writing...I was simply stepping back and re-assessing priorities. Going through needs vs. wants. Figuring out what's more important, and trying to restore balance in the home and life. Those sorts of things.

The past month was chock full of time spent with the kiddos instead of time spent online. Full of board games, reading TONS of Junie B. Jones books (my daughter is slightly addicted), a trip to Hands on House (thanks to Uncle James and Aunt Christa!), some Playdoh time, movies together, etc. With Curt's and my increase in responsibilities outside of the home, intentionally spending time together has been necessary and very rewarding! Well, minus the few days we spent puking and feeling sick together. I can't see the reward in that one.

So, if I'm writing less, just understand that busyness set in, my family must come first, and something's got to go for a little bit.

For now, I'll leave you with a thought from my 3.5 year old little man:

"Hey, Mom...what's that cool ring you got on your hand?" I explained that Daddy-O gave it to me because he loves me and asked me to marry him, then I asked if he will give a ring to someone someday. "Yeah, I'll give a ring...but I'm not gonna ask them to marry. I don't waaant tooo!"


Friday, January 27, 2012

Giving him back...two years later

Two years ago today we loved, held, and said goodbye to our third child, Josiah...

As I type in almost every other post: time is slipping by.

The past week has been full of memories from the week prior to Josiah's birth, almost as if I'm in that week again. The memories are almost like clockwork, coming up on their designated days. Taking the kids with us to the ultrasound and feeling so excited about it (there was no indication that anything was wrong at this point). Sitting on the couch that afternoon, trying to digest what my midwife was saying while blurting out questions and trying not to cry. Calling Curt and telling him that our baby had "multiple genetic defects that didn't look good." The in-depth ultrasound two days later, with a diagnosis of hydrops. The dreaded amniocentesis. A Saturday visit from my sister and brother-in-law. Hearing the amnio results three days later, which showed absolutely no genetic defects and resulted in more questions with no answers. The specialist telling us he was 100% certain the baby wouldn't survive outside the womb. Growing larger by the day, unable to breathe if I laid in bed or sat down for too long.

Then there are the memories of this day - Going to the specialist and, after a nonstress test, finding out that the baby's heart rate was dropping here and there, and the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby had grown even more than the day prior. Being prepped (mentally, emotionally, and physically) for a c-section that wasn't in the plans. Lying on that surgery table, telling Curt that we never definitely decided on a boy's name and a girl's name (we did not know the baby was a boy), and making our choices minutes before the baby was born. And, after being told the nurses did all they could do, finally holding our second son.

Oh, the memories...

I also remember those two Sundays, one a few months after Danae was born and the other a few months after Caedon was born, when we dedicated out babes back to the Lord...when we verbally said before our family, friends, and church that we understood our children were not truly ours, but God's, and we were to raise them for Him and be willing to give them back when the time comes.

What a difference there is between saying it verbally and having to actually do it in real life.

I find comfort in knowing we were not and are not alone. So many family members, friends, church buddies, and even strangers walked (and continue to walk) that road with us. Some of you know firsthand what it's like to give a child back. Many of you loved Josiah just as much as we did and hurt deeply, too. Your love is felt, and we are abundantly grateful to you!

One day, we will see our Josiah again. We miss him, but we were so, so blessed to have him for even a short while. For now, I know he's having the best 2nd birthday anyone could have!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Retraction, clarification, and some other thoughts

After Joe Paterno's passing, I decided to post my opinion on Facebook. I'm not usually one to give my opinion on something that doesn't directly relate to a personal experience or something I strongly stand for, but for some reason I felt compelled to throw my thoughts out there.

I guess Facebook can do that to you.

My opinion-posting led to some good discussion (or typing, rather), with people offering questions and opposing viewpoints. I felt it was rather healthy...I love hearing what others have to say, and many times I learn and grow from it.

All too often, though, I witness people (myself definitely included) just "going with the flow" and quickly changing what they think so they fit in with friends or family. I'm the type of person that likes to get opinions from all sides, and then I'll make my own conclusion. Sometimes it's the same as what my friends and family think, and other times it's different. Most times, I only share if I find it necessary, and other times, I just put it out there for all to know.

Looking back, part of my posting about Joe Paterno was presumptive. Based on his life, I made the assumption that he did not have a relationship with Jesus and expressed my feeling that this was the saddest thing of all. That was me, looking in from the outside and not knowing him personally. His salvation would be between him and our Maker. Those of you who gently let me know that this is something that cannot be assumed just because he didn't outright express where he was with Jesus, I thank you and am grateful for your ability to speak up in a loving way. It made me think about how being a Christian looks and how many of us think it is "supposed" to look. Yes, we are supposed to live as Jesus did - having morals, living healthful lives, and loving people the best we can - but that can look different in various settings.

With that said, let me clarify the first part of my Facebook post...the part where I said I have a hard time overlooking Joe Paterno's lack of responsibility and concern for children and just focusing on his accomplishments at Penn State. In no way am I saying I think he was involved in the abuse. What I am saying is that he should have gone further to ensure the safety and well-being of those children. He didn't do the physical act...but his lack of action meant that it would continue. I often try to envision how others involved in the situation would feel. In this case, how would I feel as a parent of one of those children? Besides wanting to wring the neck of the abuser, how would I feel knowing that someone out there had knowledge of the abuse and didn't go further - or even inform me, the parent - to end it? That's when my maternal instincts would kick in, and I would be downright furious.

I do realize my mistake in assuming where Joe Paterno was with Jesus. I do realize this man meant a lot to people at Penn State and that he influenced many things for the good and that he used his knowledge and skills to teach and empower many. I feel for his family as they grieve. However, abuse of this capacity is just gut-wrenching, and, unfortunately, his lack of complete action still has consequences.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Giving Back

Since my son's 2nd birthday in Heaven is quickly approaching, you might see more posts this month about him. As the mood strikes, I will write...but we will also be spending time as a family remembering Josiah, so it's possible I might not be around as much.

I'm always amazed at how quickly time goes by. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's came and went in the blink of an eye, and, for the most part, I feel the same about the past two years. So much has happened, yet I can clearly remember the events that took place the day Josiah was born, as well as the days leading up to his birthday. More on that in a later post...

Sometime in December, I was reminiscing about the love and care we received while in the hospital. We are so grateful to the hospital staff for all that they did for us and gave us (more on that later, too). One of the things sent home with us was the blanket that Josiah was wrapped in after he was born and cleaned up.

Many do not know the woman or the program that started this act of love and kindness. Stephanie Cole and her husband were expecting their first child, Madeline, in January 2007 when Madeline suddenly died in the womb, one week after Stephanie's due date. Out of this tragedy Stephanie started the Sweet Pea Project, which provides hospitals with blankets to give to bereaved parents, as well as a copy of Stephanie's book, Still.

Curt and I explained the Sweet Pea Project to the kiddos, who know full well all of the things we were given by the hospital after Josiah died. Danae and Caedon often look through the hair clippings, booties, blankets, pictures, and outfit, knowing their special nature and (at least for Danae) talking about the memories.

We barely had to explain that Stephanie Cole was having an art exhibit in January in honor of her daughter's 5th birthday, and that if you made a donation in December, Stephanie would write the name of the child you lost gave back to Jesus on a candle and have it brightly burning during the exhibit reception. Immediately the kids went to their piggy banks, selected their amounts, and put them together in an envelope, with Danae writing "For The Sweet Pea Project" on the outside. My, how my heart melted at their decision!

The reception was last Sunday, and while we didn't really choose our arrival time wisely (right after lunch, but on the cusp of naptime...which equates to being on the brink of a meltdown), we still spent some time look at the exhibit, meeting Stephanie, and seeing Josiah's candle, brightly burning next to so many other candles for babes who are in Heaven.

A piece in the exhibit, painted by Stephanie Cole

There's beauty in all of this, and there's beauty in being able to give back to something so meaningful and important.

(Yes, that would be Danae's middle finger - she wanted her red nail polish to show - and a lion sticker on my little boy's hand. It kept him slightly happy.) 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Welcome 2012...with a little bathroom project

Happy 2012, my friends!

I took a brief hiatus from blogging while we enjoyed Christmas and New Year's together as a family. Lots of game-playing, movie-watching, and snuggling were in order, and that left little to no time to do much else. Even though it feels like Christmas and New Year's came and went in a flash, we thoroughly enjoyed our extra family time together!

Having some time off from work also meant getting a little project done. Two years ago we took on our upstairs bathroom head-on: tub, vanity, walls, plumbing...the whole bathroom got a facelift. BUT, our paint color selection wasn't the best. After we were done, neither Hubby nor I really liked how the bathroom looked, and neither one of us wanted to admit it to the other. The truth finally came out a few months ago, and we decided to change it up.

Here are a few before pics (well, not really "before"...more like "during"):

 The wall color was called "Cracker Bits"...a little too graham crackery for us.
Chocolate brown trim...sounded good at the time, but made the room feel like a s'more.

A certain little girl loves to help her Daddy-O paint! 

And here's the final project - lighter walls, cream-colored trim, and a light blue shower curtain. Feels much more cozy to me!

Aaand I'm realizing that the pictures don't do Hubby and Danae's handiwork any justice. Trust me, we're much happier with this outcome! :)

On tap for this weekend: a visit from Nana, which means Danae gets her nails painted (a favorite thing to do with her Nana) and tonight is Date Night for Curt and me. Yay!