Wednesday, December 31, 2008

my good-bye to the Sami Dog


Sami Dog. Our little Sami Dog concludes his life this last day of 2008.

God brought the little chihuahua and poodle mix dog into our lives when I was about 17 years old. He was very tiny. We have a picture somewhere of the tiny black dog dragging a donut around. The donut was just slightly smaller than the puppy.

I loved Sami. He slept with me in those days. Then, I left for college and my mother became Sami's "mommy". He still knew me and loved me; he was excited when I came home for school breaks.

Sami became my mother's dear friend the past five years. Three of the five kids have grown out of the home. There were periods of time where there were no kids home, and Sami became "a kid". When I visited home, I watched Sami follow my mother from room to room. He might as well have been talking to her with his expressive eyes that communicated so much.

This morning, among my emails, I read that Sami's life will come to an end today. He has been sick with arthritis for some time. The vet recommended putting him "to sleep" several months ago and my parents have not had the heart to do it. According to my mother's sad email, Sami has been suffering more and more from the pain in his little body. My parents love their old dog enough to end his painful suffering.

Sigh. And so, I cry. I cry for a dog I haven't seen since August. A dog I see maybe once a year. I cry for a dog I once snuggled with every night. I cry for a dog who barks when you say "HELLO!" to the air even though no one is at the door. I cry for a dog who brings his mouth full of food into the room where all the humans are so that he can eat with everyone else. I cry for my Sami Dog.

I do not know if dogs go to heaven, but I sure do hope so. To comfort myself, I will hold to the hope that God has a special place for those family dogs who bring us so much love and pleasure.

Sami, I love you, silly dog! Thank you for being my friend. We love you. Good-bye.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Is dieting legalism? Jessica swirls it around and concludes it all in one tight post.

Am I being legalistic to follow a healthy eating plan? Is it a legalistic mindset that causes me to feel condemnation when I overeat? Are diets legalism?

Websters definition of legalism is "strict, literal adherence to the law or to a particular code, as of religion or morality". At biblestudy.org, the definition for the Christian's use of "legalism" is a tad longer. "The term legalism" can "describe any belief system that implies that a Christian receives salvation and right standing with God by carefully following a list of expected behaviors." Possibly even to "describe those who accept various Old Testament biblical laws and principles, such as tithing, as being applicable in some way to Christians" as being legalistic. "It is entirely possible for a religious group to reject even any or all of the Ten Commandments, but to substitute for them a list of forbidden activities such as card-playing or dancing, and still be proponents of a legalistic system." Interesting, isn't?

This definition also says, "but if acceptance of those laws or principles is not being viewed as a method to "earn" or "preserve" salvation, this is not really related to the specific concept of legalism." This distinction I am pulling out and applying to my question: Are diets legalistic?

IF I am dieting, following a strict code of eating, in an effort to earn my salvation, then, yes, that would be legalistic. IF I believe that eating sugar is a sin and will keep me from the pearly gates, then, my goodness, I do need some deliverance. If other Christians are judging my appearance of obesity and casting me into Hell because of my apparent "sin", then there is some legalism going on.

However, what if I am simply seeking to take care of my body? Following a diet or eating plan consisting of whole grain wheat, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and very little sugar and fat is NOT legalistic. As long as I do not align said eating plan with earning salvation from my sins. I do not believe that eating healthy foods will get me into Heaven, but only by the grace of God do I stand a chance of eternity with my Creator.

What about about the feelings of condemnation after a binge? Is that due to a legalistic mindset? I believe it is because overeating, in various circumstances, is a sin. (I know, I know. No one wants to admit that.) I am convicted to take care of this body of mine. God has plans for my life and I need to be in good, physical shape to fulfill his will. I am called to mother (at least) four children, and I can do that better if I am eating healthy and exercising. The condemnation I feel is conviction from the Spirit of my sin of hurting my body. Not because I feel I am in danger of the fires of Hell. That would be legalism.

In conclusion, I should be free and clear from dieting/following an eating plan being equivalent to legalism. Phew. I feel better.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Us!!!

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

And A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

shameless promoting other blogs I author

Drum roll, please!

Allow me to introduce you to two other blogs I am privileged to participate in.

First up, is "Quack-quack" Said the Duck. This is a story in progress. Once upon a time, I was initiated into a secret society called The Duckies. The Duckies are joining together to write about a girl named Penny. (Penny means "duck", of course.) All the women of The Duckies are taking turns adding to the story. Everyone gets a turn to take Penny where she goes. Since story additions pop up randomly, I encourage anyone interested in following the story (and who would NOT be interested??) to sign up as an Official Duckie Follower so you do not miss a thing.

My next blog to shamelessly promote is a little project I was working on this month. It was a birthday surprise for my sister, Rachel. Rachel is just 13 months younger than me and currently lives with us. I invited friends and family to post videos of them wishing Rachel a Happy Birthday. Check it out Rachel's Birthday Wishes to see the faces of people who love Rachel (and many who love ME!) Have fun!

Be sure to comment somewhere and let me know what you think. I love your comments!

A gift from a secret friend (or two)

I am blessed indeed. Indeed! A few days ago, around nine o'clock at night, there was a knock on our door.

"Who could that be?" I wondered, glancing at the clock. It was late for us party-ers. Hee hee.

Jason answered the door. I heard a mumbled conversation and then Jason returned with a large gift bag.

"Who was it?"

"Um. I don't know. He said, 'A friend told me to give this to you.' " Jason and I looked at the gift bag. He handed me the card while he pulled out a humongous bag of fresh oranges and two Christmas Tree candles.

"He said, 'A friend told me to give this to you'? What?" I opened the envelope. Several gift cards fell out of the card. Blockbuster; Papa Johns; Wal-mart. Plus two coupons for free manicures at a nearby salon. I read the card.

"May God bless you and your family richly as we celebrate the birth of His on! We hope this will help take care of some last minute Christmas shopping for your precious family and give you all a fun pizza and movie night together.... The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases! Merry Christmas! -You family in Christ"

I laughed. I cried. Of course. A feeling of being loved washed over me. We have no idea who blessed us with this beautiful gift. Jason did not recognize the grinning man at the door. This was a thoughtful, thoughtful gift to our family. Thank you. Whoever you are, I hope you read my blog and you know how much you blessed me.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Eleventh hour sleepiness and the Jessica of old

I just finished a cup of coffee. It is 2:30 in the afternoon. It is my hope that the caffeine in the drink will bring the promised burst of energy to me. If I could wish upon a star it would be for the ability to continue life "as normal", even with little sleep. Sigh. I am one tired mommy.

Samuel, my darling dear newborn, enjoys the late evening. Apparently. He sleeps like an angel during the day. Come eight in the evening, he wakes up for a pleasant hour. Then we spend the final two to three hours of our day together urging him to go to sleep. The Eleventh hour seems to be the magic time of night. Somewhere between 11 and midnight, he drifts off to a deep sleep. FRIENDS comes on at 11pm. For two episodes. This worldly show that, I am ashamed to say, I enjoy watching does bring some happiness into the exhausted time frame.

Today was our Christmas Production at Grace Church. I was in it. Yes, me. Looking at my life now, in the midst of intense motherhood, you might not see the drama girl of my college years. I grew up doing community and school theatre projects. The past few weeks has offered back to me the opportunity to play again. I have so enjoyed being a part of dance, drama and song. I directed a small group of young women in a dramatic interpretation of Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song). Plus I join the choir for a few songs. It really was great. Standing up on the stage this morning gave me joy. I felt like me. Does that makes since? I am immersed in day to day life of mothering, and I love that, of course. But, there was a Jessica before there was a Mommy. I kind of got to be that Jessica for awhile. Sigh. It felt good.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Better late than never and I miss you, too

Christmas is less than a week away. I can hardly believe it.

Would you believe we just now have put our Christmas tree up? We wanted a real tree from the Christmas Tree Farm down the road so we have been waiting for an opportunity when all three adults who live in our house and when all the kids felt good. It has taken several weeks, apparently. But, finally, Rachel had a day off from work and Jason got home early. And the kids were healthy enough. Off we went!

To give you an idea of the time restraints in our busy home, our tree that we were so excited to bring home and decorate... well, it stood naked in the corner of them (on its' stand) for almost two days without any lights or ornaments. Isn't that sad? This morning, half-way through my bowl of oatmeal, I could not stand it anymore. I had to put something on that naked tree. I decorated the tree in between bites of oatmeal. It is much prettier to look at now.

I am missing my daily blogs as much as the rest of you. Smile. I barely have time to check my e-mail, much less collect my thoughts into a legible post. But, have no fear, Faithful Followers! I have no doubt little doubt that there will be a tad more time for blogging with the new year. When the demands of the holidays are behind us, I hope to return to my daily-ish posts. Sigh. I do miss you guys.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A date for playing or a playdate

Playdates. Are they for the mommies or for the kids?

First playdates are interesting. It is a time to feel out possible new friends for everyone. How well do my kids play with your kids? Are we the same kind of mommy?

During one playdate, I started crying about being overweight. I did not know the other mommy very well, although we ended up becoming good friends. I am not sure how we got on the topic of weightloss, but I was postpartum (of course) from delivering Rose. We were outside with the kids, sitting on the grass, and I started to cry. The other mommy reached over and held my hand. Our friendship began there.

One of my dearest friends came over for our first playdate when our oldest were just seven months old. A playdate for babies? Um... This is definitely when it is for the mothers! This mommy brought a camcorder and recorded about 3/4ths of the entire playdate. I sat across from her, trying to visit, while she kept the camera on. It was cute. Three years later, it is terribly entertaining to watch that video. While it was a tad awkward at the time, I am glad she realized how special that day would be to our families.

Just recently, a new friend set up a playdate with me via emails. We had met in church, checked out each other's blogs and decided we were friendship material. She is the mother of four boys, so right away Isaiah got excited. My older two disappeared upstairs whilst the mommas and babies chatted downstairs. Everything was wonderful!

Until it was time to go. My blood sugar was running low and I was too embarrassed (i.e. prideful) to tell my new friend that I was having a problem. Instead I wrangled the children into their shoes and coats and out into the car. Right as Lela was getting her shoes on, Rose missed the potty and peed all over my new friend's bathroom. After that was cleaned up, outside we went to the ten minute buckle-up session. By the time I hugged the other mommy good-bye, I was shaking from low blood sugar and stress. It is a shame that the good-byes shadowed the good time we had. All in all, it was great. Thanks, Rebekah!

Playdates. I think they are as much for the mommies as for the kids. I know I get lonely for woman talk. Smile. Thanks to all my fellow mommies who invite me out of my hum-drum routine for a few hours.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Number Five?

Create Your OwnMake a Routan Baby
OK, so this is weird. Do you think this looks like our babies? Maybe in an odd, cousin-like, way. Compare pics of the others.


SAMUEL

LELA

ROSE


ISAIAH
I think the computerized Number Five is missing Jason's nose. Which, thus far, has dominated all our babies' faces. And lacking the adorable plump cheeks all my babies quickly start sporting. Samuel is already getting so beautifully plump. He is chunking out at 12 and a half pounds!! He turns seven weeks tomorrow. I must be producing ice cream for breastmilk. Smile. Love it!

"Not Me!" Monday



It's that time again!! "Not me! Monday". Join in the circus of fun by checking out MckMama's blog and her thousands of followers. There's lots of fun stories to bless and encourage you. Have fun and happy reading! (And don't believe a word of it!)

***

It was not me who finally broke down and ordered the basic-basic cable. It was not me who wanted to throw the almost-useless antennae against the floor, secretly hoping it would smash into smithereens. No, not me. Everyone knows I do NOT watch TV.

It was not me who gave her son a treasure map which he promptly transferred into a life-size map all over my house. With a blue marker. It is not my floor that now sports a blue line from the dining room, up the stairs and into my room. And, it was not me who then blogged about said blue line. Since it was not me, you most certainly would not be able to read the rest of the story right here.

It was not me, a mother of four children under the age of four, who googled adoption. It was not me, a woman who has been pregnant as many months as not pregnant the past five years, who googled surrogacy! Why in the world would I do that?? That would be crazy! I would never consider surrogacy. And adoption? More kids? No, that could not have been ME!

****

OK, so now you know. Sigh. I have come clean. Do you think I'm a silly momma?? Well, I am. It is totally true! Hope you guys have a great Monday and an incredibly blessed week!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Motherhood Follies: The Treasure Map

"Can you draw me a map?" Isaiah pleaded sweetly.

"Sure, Honey," I said. I draw good maps. Wonderful treasure hunts. Isaiah smiled at my map and skipped off to find his treasure.

An hour later, I sat nursing my other son. We cuddled amidst the goings on of my busy household. From my nursing spot in the living room, I listened carefully to the children's playing. They were all in a different room.

"Momma," Isaiah's voice called to me. "Lela poured the salt out again!"

Great. From experience, I know that means all the salt in the salt shaker is now on the floor. Probably on the table and chairs as well. I sighed and cuddled my newborn closer. At least here is one that cannot cause me too much trouble. Yet. What is a mom to do when there is a newborn to feed and salt all over the dining room? Luckily, Samuel chose to pull away from me right at that moment. Guess I better go take care of business. I laid down the darling and went to see the salt mess.

Sure enough, salt all over the table, chairs and floor. However, it was not the salt that caught my attention.

"Why is there blue marker on the floor??"

Isaiah looked down, guiltily. "I don't know, Momma..." he mumbled.

As I swept up the salt, I noticed that the blue marker trailed all the way around my dining room table. "ISAIAH!"

"There's a lot of salt, huh, Momma?" he said. "I didn't do it." He was proud of not being part of the salt fiasco.

"I don't really care about the salt, Isaiah. Why is there marker all over the floor? I don't even know how I'm going to get that up." No response from the guilty party.

The salt stuck to my bare feet. "Isaiah, go upstairs and get my shoes, please." My voice became monotone. I tried to control my feelings of being overwhelmed.

Samuel started to cry. He wanted more of Mommy's milk. I quickly swept up the bulk of the salt, much of it hiding under the table. Back to my nursing chair I went.

Screams from upstairs erupted. "MOMMY! MOOOOOMMMMMYYYY!!!" Isaiah's voice carried through the house.

I hollered back. "I CAN'T COME RIGHT NOW. NURSING SAMUEL. COME HERE AND TELL ME!"

"MOOOOOOMYYYYYY!!!"

"COME HERE, ISAIAH!"

"MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY!" Now he was screaming bloody murder. Maybe he was stuck somewhere. I scooped the latched-on nursing baby and stomped up the stairs.

"Oh my word." The blue marker line was not limited to the dining room. It continued. Up the stairs. Down the hall. Into my bedroom and ending with a climatic finish of a circle around my bed.

In my room, I found Isaiah. "What is wrong? Why are you screaming?" I hissed, irate from the blue marker all over my house.

"I can't find your other shoe," he moaned.

"You should have come downstairs and told me. Why is there marker all around my bed?? What were you doing??" I said. He gave me no answer. Suddenly, it hit me. The treasure map. Isaiah had drawn a human size map on our tiled-floor home. I started to cry.

"Please, get out of my room, Isaiah. Bring me my phone," I said. I sat in the rocking chair, still nursing the baby and crying.

Isaiah brought me my phone. "Sorry, Momma." He said and shut the door as he left me alone.

I should have been fine. I should have blown it off. I didn't. I hid in my room and called my husband's cell phone. No answer. The tears flowed. I called my mother.

"Are you okay, Jess?" she asked.

"I have had a really hard few minutes. I'm going to tell you what happened. I'm sure it will sound funny to you, but please don't laugh. It is not funny to me right now."

Unloading to my dear mother certainly relieved the tension in my heart. The marker would be cleaned. The salt shaker refilled. The erring, curious children would be forgiven and continued to be loved and parented. And, the mother-of-four-small-children would return to her sanity.

At least, if I ever get lost in the house, I can just follow the blue line.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"I would die for that"



I was stalking a fellow mommy's blog and found this video. Wow. What a precious reminder of my blessings.

Pregnancies always take us by surprise, don't they? Which is funny since we ALL know where babies come from. Ahem. Blush-blush.

A dear friend has just discovered her surprise. I thought of you, Girl, when I watched this video. Hope it encourages you. Remember, God has opened your womb and given it life; that is always good.

Blessings to all my fellow mommies in the trenches out there. And may God open the wombs of the women who would "die for" what we often take for granted.

"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Chocolate cake and crying babies

I have had three days with a chocolate cake. A "Darn Good Chocolate Cake", that is. If you have ever had that recipe then, well, you know.

I volunteered to make Rachel's special birthday cake. From the baking day on Saturday until her actual birthday on Monday, I have been snitching bites of cake and licks of frosting. I consumed all of my daily points each day and a good 12-15 points of cake/frosting as well. Points add up fast when you eat junk. Anyway... The cake is now gone-gone and I am reminding myself that this is a life-long journey. There will always be cake.

One a positive note, weigh in was Saturday. Guess who lost a little over seven pounds?? I know. Wow. I was surprised, too. A great start to weightloss success. However, I am trying to keep my focus on just living a healthy life and not so much on loosing weight. I want that to be more a by-product of eating and living healthy.

***

I feel like I am going crazy with "The List". My usually daily list has doubled with the added needs of Christmas. How do I squeeze in Christmas cards and Christmas pictures and shopping/shipping Christmas presents whilst juggling a newborn nursing baby and three other kiddos? It is proving to be quite difficult. I feel like I just will not make it through it all.

***
On another note: Two out of the four are crying. Sigh. Motherhood, my amazing calling, is,well, calling. I may never form a complete thought again.

Friday, December 05, 2008

the family that bikes together, stays fit together... I hope



When was the last time YOU raced a four-year-old? Let me tell you, it is fun!! And it has been awhile for me. At least up until last night! Jason and I took the older three kids out into the neighborhood on our new family toys. We opted out of the train look this time; Isaiah wanted to ride his three-wheeler. We strapped the girls into the trailer, hitched it to Jason's bike and off we cycled.

Isaiah was totally thrilled to be on the ground with his mom and dad. We drove our bikes around to the front of the house where he was waiting. His face broke into a huge grin of delight as he raced around the curve, peddling furiously to be ahead of mommy.

This was my third time around the neighborhood on my new toy. It hurt much, much less than that first time. Praise God! I attribute the lessening of pain to my beautiful distraction; Isaiah. Racing him was awesome. Watching him be excited about Mom on a bike blessed me so much. At various times, he would put his hand behind his back and "shoot" me with his finger "gun". So fun!

I want to be that family that bikes together. What a way to save my children from obesity! Not to mention save their mother! If we invest ourselves in this sport, it could do so much for our future. I am hoping it whisks us away; twirls us all out into the world of health and athleticism.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The rest of the bike story... Jason's bike adventure



I assume you have watched the video? Oh yeah. Isn't that great?

While Jason smiled and breezed through our short bike ride that first night, he definitely went quite a bit slower with three kids and two trailers in tow. Hee-hee. I hid in the houseI stayed home with the baby while Jason slowly cruised the neighborhood. He returned and confided in me about his burning thighs. Alright. Now we know that if we hook up two trailers and pile the kids into them, Jason and I will be even during a bike ride. It will be equally as challenging for both of us. Smile.

With all my complaining about the level of difficulty, I totally assumed Jason was in this amazing shape. However... Yesterday he biked down to the guard shack and back. It is a little under a mile, round trip. This time, even though he had no trailers full of children, he returned home with sore legs. Isn't that cool? I mean, oh, poor baby. Of course I felt sorry and gave the nice-wife-loving, it does make me feel good that the short bike rides cause him a bit discomfort as well. Not because I want him to be in pain. It makes me feel less out of shape. If it hurts him, than maybe I am not that big of a weenie, right?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Oh the joys of me on a bike... whoaaaaaaaa

I invested $75 in a "new" used bike. Jason bought one, too. -More on that later.- I had visions of myself riding merrily around the neighborhood. Watch me go!! Weee.... In our excitement, Jason and I hurried off on our first bike ride the night we bought the bikes. Did we care it was raining? Did we care it was dark? Absolutely not! Off we went!

I was unsteady, at best. When was the last time I was on a bike? About FIVE years ago! Pre-babies, for sure. I did good, though; no crashes. There was a slight flashback to the summer after my fifth grade year when I wrecked a bike and cracked my hip. Yeah, but that did not happen this time; praise God!

What I did not expect was to be completely out of breath and sore as all get out. Well, I guess I expected that after bicycling for an hour or so. NOT five minutes into the bike ride. I was grateful for the night time darkness veiling my heaving breaths and sweaty, grunty face. Argh!

My adorable husband cruised along beside me, grinning the whole time. "Isn't this fun?" he laughed. Totally unaware of my misery. I tried to offer a smile.

It was fun-ish. Aside from the pain. And the disappointment that there was pain.

Not one to give up, I tried out the bike again last night. Did the same route we took Sunday night (our first night). Still painful; still difficult. After the short route, I abandoned the bike and walked. Enjoyed the walk much more. Even smiled and laughed at myself and the bike situation.

By the time I returned home, I felt great. Well, my heart, mind and soul felt great. The legs... not so much. I limped along the rest of the night, soaked in a hot water bath and took Ibuprofen before bed. BUT! I will not give up! I might take tonight off from the painful joyful bike ride and opt for only a walk this time. Have no fears, though; I WILL (dad-gum it!) learn to ride that bike with ease. OH yes, I will.

**My darling Samuel needs me. I will post later about Jason's riding adventure. It will be good. Includes a video. Wink-wink. You will not want to miss this!**

Monday, December 01, 2008

"Not Me!" Monday



Monday, Monday... so good to me... (cue the music!) It is "Not Me!" Monday once again! Whew-hew! MckMama fans circle around for some unbelievable confessions. For me, it has been a great week with lots of grown up interaction. Smile. Good times. But, there was this one thing...

***
It was not me who took her child covered in red bumps to Thanksgiving outings before realizing the "red bumps" were -more than likely- chicken pox. It was not me who then read about chicken pox online and decided the said child did not have it. It is not me who continues denying the fact even when both grammas giggled slightly after my description of the "red bumps" and confirmed the pox. It is simply not my child with chicken pox.

It is not me who has a pile of receipts waiting to be entered into my checkbook. I am not putting of the reality check of balancing the checkbook after Black Friday. That is not me; I am incredibly responsible with my money. I never overspend.

It was not me who rode her new bicycle for 10 hours 15 minutes and was incredibly sore and tired. No, I am so in shape. Four babies in four years certainly does not diminish ones body figure.

It was not me who went to a friend's house for Tday and totally enjoyed her loud house. It is not me who feels completely at home with children running and hollering throughout the house. I do not enjoy loud laughter and good times.

***

See, it was a good week! Hope your week was fantastic and blessed. Thanks for stopping by; have a great day! Blessings!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Does this look like the pox????

Guess who has CHICKEN POX!!

We were not sure... But, it is almost all of the symptoms... Fever two days before spots show up... pus in the bumps... spreading a little more everyday... Humm....

What do you think? Look like the pox?

So, now we are home bound for about two weeks. Then, when the other kids get chicken pox, we add two more weeks to our quarantine. It's the holidays; why not stay home?

Facing reality with my obesity

Two days post-Thanksgiving, I joined Weight Watchers. Yep. This is only my 10th time or so to join. For your encouragement towards your own food victory your reading pleasure, here is my history of my weight struggle... in a tight little nutshell.

Age fourteen: Dad lost his job and we moved to a tiny, run down trailer house in the country. My school sold "The World's Best Chocolate" candy bars to raise money and I ended up eating the whole box. It was the first time I turned to food for comfort. I would sneak into the bathroom and eat a candy bar several times a day. (What is this thing with hiding in the bathroom? Apparently, I have done that for a long time.)

Age 17: My family did the Atkins diet together. I peed on sticks to see if I was in "kitosis"; later learning that "kitosis" is not a healthy state to be in after all. I lost about 20 pounds that were promptly gained back when we quit the diet.

Age 19: Left for college. Spent the next three years gaining weight. I gained about 20 pounds every year. Joined WW during the summers. Used squash to loose water weight the day before weigh in so I would loose weight despite the unhealthy eating I did all week. The reality was that I was not changing my lifestyle to loose weight; I was playing a game with the scales.

Age 22: Quit college. Gained another 20 pounds while processing the loss of no more education and friends. Ate lots of candy bars many nights.

Age 22 and a half: Joined WW. Ten months later (March 2003) I celebrated a 100 pound loss. Yep. I did it. I lost a whole person. I was married a month later and continued to loose weight. I lost about 118 pounds before gaining back about ten pounds. Then I got pregnant. I gained 35 pounds with Isaiah's pregnancy. But, the victory for me was that none of my old habits returned. I was not using food to cope with the stress of pregnancy and all the other craziness of that time frame.

My bad habits returned in the post-partum days of learning to juggle a newborn, a young marriage, and the day to day stress of life. With hopes of rediscovering my previous huge success, I re-joined WW after Isaiah's birth. And after Rose's birth. And after Lela's birth. And, now, after Samuel's birth. A definite, obvious pattern.

How will this time be different? Will I find the success at WW I hope for? Honestly, I do not know. I do know my goals. I have my eyes set on them.

1) I want to be a good steward of the body God has given to me. To be faithful "in the small things".
2) I want my kids to never have this struggle in their lives. Ever. I know it starts with ME. May God give ME victory so that my kids will have victory.

Do I want to loose weight? duh! Of course, I do. But the flabby fat is only a side effect of the real problem. I know the issue is in my heart and mind. When I win those battles When God wins those battles, there will be permanent weightloss.

So, with ALL of that in mind, I begin. I'll keep ya posted. wink-wink

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lela's discovery

Lela has discovered the magic bowl that always has water in it. What a find! How cool is it that there is this tiny room where everyone goes several times a day? Of course, we are all playing in the water, right?

I have disinfected my one-year-old about twice a day the past three days. Sigh. I was hoping she wouldn't realize the fun of the mysterious water. With the success of Rose's potty training, Lela has shown a huge interest in the toilet. She asks to go "poo-poo!" and has been content to just sit, fully clothed, on the toilet or potty chair. Until now. Now, when I leave her all innocent on the potty chair, I return to find her digging toilet paper out of the big toilet. AH!

"That water is gross, Lela! Don't touch it; it's icky," I say right into her sweet face. She stares at me, her eyes quite unbelieving. She thinks I am tricking her; after all, isn't all water good for playing?

Reality check: I would rather have my jewel Lela Mae and clean toilet ick off her every day than to be without her. Good times.

My Life In Pictures








Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What are YOUR kids overhearing??

"I can't wait until naptime."

"So glad they're in school now."

"Spend two years getting them to talk and the rest of their lives getting them to shut up."

"No, we're not having more. I don't think I could stand it."

"How do you do it? I can barely stand my own?"

"What was I thinking having kids?"

***
I hear parents make these comments all the time. I am certainly guilty, too. Lately, I have been convicted concerning my words. What do my children hear? How do they process my words about them?

I want my children to believe they are gifts; that I treasure them as precious jewels from God. Because, I do. I do treasure them. They are my calling. God has given them to me to mother them and teach them His ways. Why am I complaining? Why am I counting down (outloud) the hours/minutes until naptime? Isn't the time with my children counted a blessing?

I have a new another mother goal: no more talking bad about my children. Even in a "mild", complainey (is that a word?) way. I want my kids' memories to be of a mother in love with each of her intense blessings. It is a huge goal to me as I always have issues controlling my tongue. Imagine that. But, I am asking God to hit me over the head with a two-by-four to gently teach me how to only speak life over my children.

That's my thought for the day! Only took me about three hours total to get it down on post. Nothing like having lots of really great, wonderful and beautiful reasons to pause my writing. I love my kids.

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Not Me!" Monday



It's that time again; time for "Not Me!" Monday! MckMama over at mycharmingkids.net is the one responsible for this entertainment. Be sure to check out her charming blog and the over one hundred other "Not Me!" posts from her many Followers.

***

It was not me who hid out in the bathroom to spare my mind from motherhood insanity. I do not hide from my children. Nope.

While in the hiding room bathroom, it was not me who contemplating the merits of homeschool and considered putting her kids in preschool. It was not me who daydreamed briefly of getting her tubes tied as I tried to ignore the screams and cries sounds of the children banging on the bathroom door.

I am not the mother who made chocolate chocolate-chip pancakes two days in a row because I didn't get enough the first day. No, I do not love chocolate so much that I could eat it everyday and I absolutely do not feed my kids chocolate every day.

I did not fail miserabley in an attempt to cut my four-year-old son's hair. It was not me who handed him over to his father when he came home from work, surrendering the razor and scissors. Daddy did not shave Isaiah's hair all off, efficiently ending the argument of when and how we should cut his hair. The result was not a totally handsome boy with great looking head hair.

I did not gleefully volunteer to go get the extra groceries we needed from the grocery store, leaving my hubby to fend for himself with four kids. I certainly did not giggle on my way out the door as the kids continued to whoop and holler and my husband did not stand at the door and forlornly watch me drive away.

***

Ah, once again, it is good to get this all out in the open. Huge sigh. Smile.

Thanks for reading. Blessings to all my new readers bopping over from MckMama's and to all my faithful Followers!! May God enrich your lives with His love and grace.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Picture Story




Rose is my little Mommy. I can say, "Rose, go talk to Samuel" and off she goes. She does quite well, doesn't she? What a good helper!


Sharing new pics of family times

Lela Mae Grace enjoys one of her favorite toys

Isaiah "The Pirate"

Aunt Rachel and Lela Mae


Jason and his sons

Mish and Mash of a day

It has been "a day". Nothing really terrible has gone down in Mommyland, but Mommy is going on five-ish hours of interrupted-by-a-newborn sleep. Makes for low, low patience level in a high, high stress job. Sigh. Rough stuff.

By observation, I can confirm I am using food to help me get through my day. Not limited to sweets, but definitely preferred. I am not proud of this, in fact, I am disappointed in myself. Food addiction has been a struggle with me since I was about 14 years old. I have had successes and I have had failures. I feel very much a failure right now. I ate a good dozen chocolate chip cookies last night. Argh! I want freedom from this, I do. But I do not know how to grasp it. I am seeking the Lord for direction and freedom.

Thanksgiving is next week. My heart longs to be with my family on this holiday. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because we used to spend it with all the extended family. Now, thousands of miles away from all family (except Aunt Rachel, who I am incredibly thankful to have living with us!) TDay will be just us. I have invited a few families, but it may end up truly being "just us". Won't that be odd? Just our little family for Tday? Munching away on the huge turkey I bought from Walmart? There will be lots of leftovers.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My reaction to Tyra Bank's Teen Sex article; Soap box time!!

Are teen girls having sex because the school system needs to teach them more about sex? So, teaching someone about sex will keep them from having sex? No, I think the hope of the world is that sex education will just teach them to use "protection". The world has given up hope that teenagers will quit having sex. Instead, the world passes out condoms and says to fourteen-year-olds to "be safe".

Why do we accept this as normal? I read Tyra Bank's article about her teen sex survey and it is downright disturbing. Dr. Schroeder, an executive director from a teen sex education program, is quoted in the article. She says, “This so clearly points to the need for comprehensive sexual education for kids. Parents need help talking with their kids about sexuality, and schools need to be talking to kids about sexuality. They are not talking to their parents; they’re embarrassed to talk to their parents. And more than them being embarrassed to talk to their parents, their parents are embarrassed to talk to them. So they're finding all [about] sex education with their friends, with their peers."

OK. My thoughts... I totally disagree with the answer being that schools should be educating our children on sex. What will they teach my sons and daughters? That sex is for marriage? That God made sex? That waiting until your wedding night is well worth it?? I do not think that is in any of the sex education curriculum currently being taught in schools. Too bad because THAT is TRUTH!

I do agree with Ms Schroeder when she says that parents should be talking to their kids about sex. Absolutely!! It is a problem that parents are shying away from such a huge topic. God does not shy away from this topic, why should we? God makes it clear that he created sex; it is good. Sex outside of marriage is not what God created. The world and the Enemy has presented sex in an ungodly, horrible, and ugly way. MTV, Hollywood and the media (not to mention commercials!) spread the message that sex is short skirts, one night stands, half-naked Britney Spears, tweens wearing makeup and looking like women, teenagers having sex is normal, etc. Every show on TV today presents sexually active teens. Even "7th Heaven" with the minister's kids, depicts that no one is waiting for the marriage bed to fulfill their sexual desires! What is up with that?

Parents, we need to be bold about addressing sex with our children. The world is beyond bold about their views on sex; they are brash and in-your-face about it. We will have to be louder and more confident then the world or our children will not hear us. And, we need to start praying when they are inside our womb, before the world can begin its influence on them. Parents, hear me when I say we DO NOT HAVE TO ACCEPT that our teens will just be sexually active. It does not have to be that way!!

Let's pray. Let's teach them GOD'S WAY. Let's be vigilant about what we allow into our homes. Subtle messages get through to their tender hearts; do not allow them to watch shows that promote, even subtly, that sex before marriage is OK. Do not play music in your home that preaches that message. I am passionate to raise up my babies into men and women of God. I pray desperately that God will give them the self control and innocence to keep themselves pure. I pray that their wedding night is full of beauty because it will be their first time and will be free from memories that tear marriages down.

Be bold! Teach truths. Protect your tender children. And PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!

Bon-Bon Freedom

Yea! I did NOT buy the bon-bons!

The big kids went to play group this morning so I was left with my little ones. I decided it was a good opportunity to run to Wally World to pick up that "one thing". You know, the elusive "one thing" that you always forget at Walmart. The "one thing" you just cannot do without so you absolutely must go back to the humongous store for the "one thing". Yea, so that one thing beckoned me out into the cold with two babies. Off I went!

We did good, me and the kids. Samuel screamed the whole way there; that was fun. Seriously. There is nothing like riding in the car with your tiny infant strapped into his car seat, screaming his head off. Taking deep breaths helps. I considered running a red light so I could get there faster. There were not any cars coming, it would have ok, right?? I was not sure a police officer would agree with me so I stayed put. With the screaming child.

Despite the screams, we made it to Walmart, wrapped Samuel against me, and went to find our "one thing". Shortly, my one thing was in the cart and I was ready to check out; it had been less than ten minutes. Samuel was just beginning to fall asleep in the wrap. Mmm... The bon-bons are towards the back of the store. I started in the direction of the chocolate yummies. Then, I remembered my prayer earlier today. My prayer asking God to help me not use food to cope. My prayer surrendering overeating to God and asking for his strength. Asking for the spirit of self control. Sigh. No bon-bons.

Walking out of the store, I felt so victorious! I know it's a small thing, but to me, this chocoholic-crazy mother, it is a big thing!

What has been your small, but big success today?? Please share!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Not Me!" Monday



I can hardly believe another week has raced past us and "Not Me!" Monday is here once again!! Jumping on the bandwagon with MckMamma (and her over 1000 Followers-Wowzers!) I am joining the fun with my own "Not Me!" List. Whew-hew!! Deep breath.. Here... we.... goooooooo!
***
It was not me who barbecued her bra on her first day my husband went back to work leaving me in charge of all FOUR kids. I certainly did not then blog about it, admitting to the whole world my insane and, well, very stupid moment.

I did not proceed to break my mop on the same day I barbecued my bra. My husband did not suggest I give it up and sit on the couch the rest of the day so as not to break anything else in the house.

I did not also break my broom this week, adding to the list of household tragedies. I do know my own strength. I am on a mission to destroy any and all objects in my house.

I did not consume two, yes, TWO, bags of bon-bons this week. I did not hide one bag in my purse so my dear husband would not know I had succumbed, once again, to chocolate and peanut butter. My children do not call bon-bons "Mom's special candy" because I am most certainly NOT addicted to chocolate and I do not use it to cope with being a mommy to four children.

I have not cried about being terrified of getting pregnant again. Because I am certainly not "Fertile Myrtle" (which, BTW, I totally hate that phrase!) and I am not tired of being pregnant every year. I love pregnancy. My body is not weary and worn out. Oh no. Bring it on. Let's make another baby. Let's go five for five.
***
Ok, so I got a little too serious there. Sorry about that. I love my babies, but, seriously, I need a break from childbearing. One of those things me and God are working out. I would love to have some extra prayer coverage on that issue.

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoy your Monday. Blessings to all!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mommy Meltdown Countdown

8:45am 2 hours and 30 minutes before Mommy Meltdown
Mommy and kids head upstairs to get dressed and do laundry. Baby cries. Postpone getting dressed and laundry. Rose's room is still locked because she locked it and Mommy doesn't know how to unlock it. All three "big kids" play in Isaiah's room.

9:05am Baby fed. Lay baby down. Isaiah and Rose are fighting; screams abound.

9:08am Baby cries. Pick baby up. Rock baby and stare at mounds and mounds of laundry waiting to be folded. While Mommy rocks baby, Lela bites Rose; Isaiah punches Rose; Rose pees all over the bathroom (even though she was sitting on the toilet).

9:37am Supermom realizes she can lay baby down beside her and bounce the bed slightly while folding clothes. Keeps baby sleeping so Mommy can tackle the laundry. Isaiah comes in the room and says, "Rose hit Lela again."

9:45am 1 hour and 30 minutes before Mommy Meltdown
Mommy marvels that she can fold two loads of laundry in under ten minutes. With baby still sleeping soundly, she hurries to put the laundry in, gasp, their dressers. Lela cries about a bump on the head and follows mommy around from room to room.

9:50am Isaiah punches Rose. Mom discovers the pee in the bathroom.

10: 05am Mommy breaks from laundry and reads books to kids. Rose misses the reading due to unexplainable crying.

10:30am 45 minutes before Mommy Meltdown
Isaiah gets mad at Mommy and runs downstairs. Mommy and the girls leave baby asleep on Mommy's bed and go downstairs after Isaiah. Isaiah has gotten crackers out and snuck a piece of chocolate.

10:34am Mommy prepares snack for big kids. Cheese and crackers. Isaiah reminds Mommy he doesn't like cheese. Mommy reminds Isaiah she already knows Isaiah doesn't like cheese.

10:37am Mommy sits down to blog. Mommy discovers that the Internet is offline. Mommy sighs and plays with the computer in attempts to fix the Internet issue.

10:45am Rose cries. Mommy does not know why. Isaiah runs crazily through the house. Lela plays with play-dough.

11:00am Mommy looks longingly at the computer, wishing it would work. She also considers turning on a video for the kids to watch, but then she could not claim the title of Supermom. You know Supermom does not let her kids watch TV, right??

11:05am 10 minutes to Mommy Meltdown
Mommy starts to prepare lunch. PB and honey for Isaiah; leftover enchiladas for the girls. Rose follows Mommy around, still crying. Rose follows Mommy so closely that Mommy trips over Rose. Mommy yells at Rose. She is starting to loose it.

11:08 am Lela sits at the table and plays with pepper. Mommy tells her to leave it alone. Isaiah asks for a piece of gum. Mommy says no. Isaiah says his old one fell out of his mouth so can he please have another?

11:12am Mommy asks where the chewed up gum might be. She tells him to go look in his room. But, please be quiet because baby is sleeping.

11:14am Isaiah yells from upstairs. Something about not being able to find his gum. Mommy feels steam blow out her ears. The yelling is bound to wake up baby. Mommy goes to foot of stairs and yells at Isaiah to quit yelling.

11:15am Baby cries. Mommy looses it.

***

That was my morning. Fun, huh? My throat hurt for a good hour after my screaming session. I am sure the neighbors got a good show from the crazy mother of four. Entering my room, post meltdown, my tiny baby was crying for me. The whirl of the fan drowned out the crying children downstairs and I decided to lay down next to the little guy for a short nursing break.

Laying there, I could hear the muffled cries of the other children. I could hear them mimicking their mother with their own screams at each other. I watched my complacent newborn suckle at my breast; he looked so peaceful and content. Sigh. What bliss. Aside from the yells downstairs. The Lord and I had a short conversation about motherhood and yelling and keeping it together and laying it all down and peace and joy.

After a few minutes, I heard squeals of laughter downstairs. I was certain only naughtiness would be bringing such glee. Sure enough. After Samuel had his fill of mommy's breastmilk, I headed downstairs to discover a huge mess of salt and pepper.

"Mommy, I didn't do it!" Isaiah said. "Lela Mae poured out the pepper. Rose did the salt. I only licked it."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Motherhood Follies: The Bra


"Just take that old one off and try this one on. Let me know when you're ready and I'll check the fit," she said. The bra expert at The Full Cup pushed a beautiful nursing bra into my hands and slid the privacy curtain closed.

I stood in the small cubicle, staring at the mirrors. I sighed. I have never had success finding nursing bras that fit. With my rather large cup size, even regular bras are difficult to find, but nursing bras have proved to be completely elusive to me. This is my fourth time around with breastfeeding and I still doubted ever finding the perfect nursing bra.

The Full Cup is a "fine lingerie" boutique in the area that promises to find you the perfect fit. Jason and I planned a trip there during my recovery period post delivery. It was my last hope for finding a nursing bra that I didn't have to "settle" for. The place was adorable with red walls and little bustiers everywhere. The clerks were incredibly professional and kind.

"Jessica? May I come in?" she asked from the hall.

I eyeballed the new bra and my breasts oozing over the top. Obviously, it did not fit me. "Yeah, come on in," I said with a sigh.

The clerk came in, adjusted the ivory bra and said, "Um.. Let me see what we have in the back."

They dug out the old ugly bras for this big-chested nursing momma. The clerk returned with a plan, nude-colored bra that resembled a vest. I tried it on and, it fit. Which is what we were looking for, but it was not sexy in any way, shape or form. The clerk and I stared at the vest-bra. She smiled at me.

"Ya know, nursing bras are only for a year or so. Then you can come back, we will refit you and you can have another bra. It's just the nursing bras that are difficult for us to find. We have lots in your size that are not nursing bras... Just come back when you're done nursing," she said. She smiled encouragingly at me.

"It fits, that's what I need. Thank you," I said. I meant it. Who cares if it looked like the top of an old fashioned swim suit.

The vest-bra sucked fifty-four dollars from our meager budget. I considered a change of mind, but Jason would have none of it. I needed the darn bra, we both knew it.

A few days later, the tall tell signs of a yeast infection/thrush showed up on Samuel's tiny tongue. My nipples began to ache, and I knew Samuel and I were infected with yeast. As a refresher for yeast treatment, I researched websites online.

"It says to microwave the bra to kill the yeast," I said to Jason while I scanned another informative website. "Do you think that will work?"

"Makes sense to me," my wise man said.

The next day, early in the morning while Jason got ready for work, I carefully laid my new vest-bra in the microwave. I even took the extra effort to lay it on a paper towel so it would not get dirty in the much-needed-to-be-cleaned microwave.

"You think two minutes will be enough?" I set the timer for three, just to be sure to kill all the yeast. The microwave light came on and began to rotate my bra. I watched it.

"I was afraid the metal would set sparks, but... I don't see anything," I said. Jason stopped his hurrying to watch the bra turning slowly in the microwave.

"Yeah, I wondered about that. But there's no fire, so..." he trailed off.

Then, I smelled it. Something burning. My stomach dropped and I popped the microwave door open. The bra looked fine. I pulled it out. Underneath the bra, against the clean paper towel, was melting, black fabric. I had melted my fifty-four dollar nursing bra.

Jason and I stared at the bra. It smelled.

"OH NO!" I moaned. Laughter and tears were fighting for release. I chose to laugh. The burnt bra was funny. What was so NOT FUNNY was that the bra was ruined. I had wasted our precious money by cooking it. "Oh, Jason!"

He was laughing, too. We looked at each other. "We'll get you a new one," he promised. But, I knew we had no more money for expensive, but ugly lingerie. The new bra would not be allowed into the budget until January when the holidays are far behind us.

My tears never surfaced. I photographed the burnt bra before trashing it. The house smelled of smoky plastic for an hour or so. I learned my lesson. One cannot microwave bras. Oops.

Samuel's Birth Story Link

Samuel's birth story has been published at the Virginia Homebirth Midwifery website. If you want the gooey details of my labor and delivery, feel free to click over and read it all. Samuel's birth story is here. Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Errands and strangers

*** This is NOT Samuel in the wrap. It is Lela Mae. I do not have a picture of Samuel in the wrap, yet. This picture was taken at the Blackbeard Festival in June 2007. Oh, and this is the orange wrap that I made myself! ***

I ventured out alone with the baby this afternoon. Oddly enough, I was quite nervous heading out to run a few errands with just me and he. Samuel was excellent on our mission. He fussed a little on the way to the herbal store, but quieted down and slept. I carried him in his carrier, receiving lots of "oh, how old is he?" To which I proudly answered, "He is two weeks,today!" "Oh, what a cutie..." "Well, of course he is.. I mean, thank you."

At Wal-mart, stop #2, I paused to feed the little man. On this note I want to give a shout out for breastfeeding!! Can I just say that THIS is the way to go?? No bottles to lug around, no formula that needs fresh water, etc. My breasts are always full of ready, perfectly made for my newborn, milk. And, it is already warmed to perfection. Loving it! Rose calls my boobs, my "bras". She says, "Are you going to give him your bras? Does he need more of your bras?" Hee-hee.

After a 30 minutes love/nursing session, we are ready to don the baby wrap and head into the store. I feel just a tiny bit conspicuous as I stand beside the mini-van and wrap the yards of brown fabric around my chubby self. Perfecting the wrap, I snuggle my darling down against me. It feels rather familiar having his little body pressed so close to my heart. Through out the store I observe strangers reactions. It is quite a fun experiment. Young and old do double takes of my wrapped baby. Makes me smile and kiss his little head.

Rounding the corner to the junk food aisle (yes, that's right, I'm eating junk food!), an older woman grins at the baby strapped to my chest.

"Looks like you got a new baby for Christmas," she says to me.

I smile proudly. "Yep."

"How old is he?"

"Two weeks today!" As an added bonus, because the Gramma looks so sweet, I pull back his wrap so she can see his adorable face.

"Oh! Is this your first?"

I get that a lot. "No, actually. He is my fourth."

She is still smiling. In fact, in gets bigger. "Oh, are your other children in school?"

I get ready to shock her. "No. My oldest is four."

Her eyes widen, but the smile stays genuine and bright. "Oh my. You are quite blessed. Very, very blessed." We smile at each other. I assume the conversation is over. But, she turns back around suddenly and says, "You know, my daughter, she has one child. She has done fertility treatments three times and still can't have another baby."

And I am humbled. Me and Gramma look at each other. What can I say? Standing there, holding my fourth blessing. Fertility abounds from my womb.

Gramma breaks the slightly awkward silence. "I guess it's just one of those things. Can only do so much.. What is meant to be will be." We smile at each other and then move on down the aisle.

A run in with a stranger momentarily stops my mommy spinning. My babies are a blessing. Of course, I know that, but I desperately need daily reminding. Thank you, Lord for sending someone else's grandmother to pat my head and say, "God has blessed you." I needed that.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

"Not Me!" Monday



It is "Not Me!" Monday and I am jumping in again! I missed it last week. You know I had a baby. I mean, did NOT have a baby... wink wink. Check out MckMama's blog, who also did NOT just have a baby, and her "Not Me!" list.
***
I did not take a nap every day this week. My husband did not command me to "take it easy" for two weeks, per the midwife's instruction. I certainly did not pout about not being allowed to clean my kitchen. That would be so silly; who wants to clean their kitchen? Certainly not me.

I did not totally disobey the commands and attend TWO birthday parties during my two week mommy vacation/recovery period. I was not tired and exhausted after breaking the rules. Nope. I have an endless amount of energy.

I have not already complained about not being able to lay my newborn down for fifteen minutes so I could take a shower before realizing that holding the newborn is the most important thing. I did not cry as the realization grew that many mommies have lost their newborn and that my newborn was certainly a treasure. I did not go right then and scoop up my newborn, inhale his precious scent and rock him for a good hour, grateful to have him in my arms.

I did not dress all four of my young children in adorable overalls and drag them to a photo studio 45 minutes away so they could sit for ONE family portrait. My husband did not proceed to entertain the three older children with many walks around Wal-mart so that the newest child could star in his own portrait session as The Newborn. I most certainly did not over spend on our meager budget so that I could buy ten portrait sheets of one child! Nope. I am much too wise and self-controlled to do such things. It was not me.

I did not dazzle two new friends with the ages of my children. Yes, they are four, three, one and half and... newborn. Smile.

It is not me who is slightly terrified of the approaching Wednesday. For Wednesday most certainly does bring an end to my mommy vacation as Daddy returns to work. I am not overwhelmed in the least at being the sole caregiver to four children under the age of four.
***
That's my week in a nutshell of "not me's". Thanks for reading and may God fill your life with His presence and startle you with His love!

Does He amaze you?

I am amazed, AMAZED, at God.

I stood in the midst of fellow believers this morning, closed my eyes and soaked in the presence of God's people. This new church is full of men and women who are excited about the gospel. They are in love with Jesus Christ. They are so excited about Jesus that their neighbors start showing up at church. Their relationship with Christ is so real and evident, it overflows into every area of their lives.

The creation displays the glory and majesty of my God. The colors on the trees take my breath away. I know I have already written about this, but today refreshed the words in my heart. The reds and oranges are so bright and brilliant. My eyes drink it in. "I can't wait to meet the God who created these colors!" Then I realize, I have met Him! He has invited me into relationship with HIM! The creative, infinite Being who designed the leaves to change colors loves ME and wants a relationship with me, Jessica. Does that not just boggle your mind??

Holding my 12 day old son, I am reminded of God's undeniable presence. Only the One True God can create a life, perfectly formed and place him on my chest. There is absolutely no way a human was created inside me without the hand of God. I cannot believe creation "just happens"; how can unbelievers not be immediately convicted of the Truth upon seeing a newborn? Upon witnessing a birth? Only God has the power to breathe life into a womb and knit together a human. My tiny baby is a testimony of the very presence of God.

And so, I am amazed, AMAZED at my God. He is incredible. Indescribable. Infinite. This Being, this creative, compassionate God loves, LOVES, me. Simply amazing.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Rose Dances

Here's my little angel. She is sporting three birthday gifts from Gramma Tami. Guess what they are??

PS Note the toys all over the floor. Don't you love my decorations? And, so what if it is 10 o'clock in the morning and the kids are still in their PJs; what's wrong with that?

I have four kids

Um... I have four kids.

I sit on the couch, nursing the newborn. Isaiah runs through the house, Superman cape flying in the breeze. Rose sits as close to the baby as she can, giggling as he burps and gurgles. Lela plays quietly with a baby doll. Wow. I have four kids.

Jason holds Samuel while brushing Rose's teeth. I sit beside him, reading Isaiah and Lela Mae a bedtime story. We look at each other. "We have FOUR kids."

These semi-shocking moments take my breath away. How did this happen? I mean, I KNOW how it happened, but when? In the blink of an eye, God took a single girl, married her up to an amazing man of God, opened her womb and created four lives.

I look at each of the blessings in my home and am amazed at God's designs. God, You did good.

Wow. I have four kids.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Amazed at God's colors



We took the brood to Picture Me! Studios for newborn portraits yesterday. Yes, against the "stay at home for two weeks" rule! It felt good to be out of the house.

Even though there is a studio not fifteen minutes from our house, we chose to drive 45 minutes to the studio Rachel works in so she could be our photographer. Not every photographer can handle four kids under the age of four. Rachel did great, ofcourse. Go Aunt Rachey!

The drive to the studio was beautiful. Fall colors reign across the landscape here in Virginia. I am a Texas girl at heart, but Virginia definitely has Texas beat with trees and the Autumn foliage. (I automatically feel like a traitor just typing that... hope no one sends me hate mail...) I was so taken with the colorful trees I kept saying, "LOOK! Jason, look at those colors! LOOK! Look at the red! It's so bright." Jason would nod. He seemed unimpressed, which, I so totally could NOT understand!

Isaiah was more inspired. He asked me, "How do they do that, Mom?" Like it was a trick someone was playing on the commuters. I laughed and then quickly jumped at the chance to tell him of God's amazing creativity.

"God does that, Isaiah! Isn't that cool??" Then I went on to explain about Autumn and Winter. As long as he gets the "God thing", I do not mind him taking awhile to pick up on the changes of seasons.

God really is a creative God. The colors on the leaves outside my window are beautiful proof. I stand in awe of His majesty. Red, yellow, orange and gold leaves swirl around the sky and I am humbled by my God's presence.

Oh yeah, the portrait session was a big hit. Samuel did great. He even woke up for the sitting, so his adorable eyes were wide open. We took one family pose that I can hardly wait to display proudly on my wall. The rest were all about Samuel James. Oddly enough, this is the first time our family has taken newborn portraits. I guess it took me four babies to decide that was important. Go figure.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Postpartum ponderings...

I love having a family of six. We put a fourth car seat in the mini-van yesterday. It looks pretty full back there. Samuel did well his first day out. Church was a precious celebration of newness. We also managed a friend's birthday party yesterday afternoon. I was one tired postpartum mommy by the time we finally arrived home last night.


Samuel cried most of the 20 minute drive home from our friend's house. Isaiah said, "Be quiet, Samuel!" Rose asked, "Why is he crying?" We keep trying to explain "that's what babies do..." Then we try to act nonchalant about it; nothing unusual going on here. But, an infant's cry is disturbing. God made it that way. It is not meant to be ignored.


Postpartum is an interesting time. My body is going through this huge, quick overhaul. The uterus has already shrunk from the size of a watermelon to the size of a grapefruit (or smaller, I think). What a huge abdominal change. My body has shifted from producing massive amounts of hormones necessary to maintain a pregnancy to producing hormones necessary to produce an endless supply of breastmilk. Whew! It is quite the ride.

I am enjoying watching my body shrink. I have already dropped the 11 pounds I gained during the pregnancy. Now, before you get all excited that I only gained eleven pounds, remember, I was/am a "big girl" before I got preggers. So, when you are overweight, you are not supposed to gain the wonderful 30 pounds those skinny girls get to pack on. Not me. But, I am a bit proud of myself for keeping it real, and not pigging out. Since having Samuel, six days ago, I have lost about 16 pounds. Pretty cool. I am fitting into many of my pre-preggers clothes. That is super nice.

OK. That's my update. Hope it keeps you going. I know you all miss me. Wink-wink. Sigh. I miss you, too. But, motherhood, as you know, is my ministry. Not blogging. Well, not just blogging. Smile.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Samuel yawns

As we continue to share our beautiful moments, here is a simple one. So precious. Enjoy, Grammas and Grandpas. Love you...

Recreating the Keys family unit

I can feel myself coming back. The old me. Non-pregnant Jessica. It feels good.

I am falling in love with this little guy. He is beautiful. So sweet and precious. Laying across my shoulder, suckling at my breast, staring into my eyes... My heart constricts with this intense love; I pray daily for God's protection on my tiny son.

My children are adjusting to another sibling. They love Samuel. When I come out of my resting place, they do not greet me with "Hi mommy!!" No. It is "Where's Samuel?" Or, "Samuel's here!" It is precious how much they love him already.

On the first day Lela, the booted-out baby, had difficulty with the adjustment. She really struggled with the loss of her baby spot. It does not help that she is teething and generally, feels icky anyway. The first day has come and gone, and my Lela Mae is slowly growing into her new position as a big sister. It is a heart aching process for me to watch. I know God created Lela to be a big sister at 19 months, but it hurts to watch her hurt. I have watched this pattern with the older two. I know, after a few weeks, the booted-out baby will accept her new position as a big sister. I know that she will adore her younger sibling and that a special bond will form with the new playmate. In the end, it will be good.

As my body recovers from labor and delivery, my husband continues to play Mr. Mom. He does a good job, but I can see the stress level in him rise throughout the day. He has a growing appreciation for my job. The housework is building. Jason has to search laundry baskets of wrinkled, clean clothes for the kids' play clothes everyday. There are no clean towels in the bathrooms, but there is a load of towels in the dryer downstairs. Several days we have run out of clean eating utensils. Smile. I think they miss me.

Blogging has already taken a backseat to the new demands of motherhood. I will write as the Lord provides snippets of opportunity. I definitely will continue to post pictures of the family. And, my new trick, videos! Praise God for the technology that allows me to share with far away family and friends.

Motherhood calls. Off I go...

Happy Birthday singing

Check out my family singing to Samuel is Happy Birthday song.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Allow me to introduce Samuel James

Samuel James was born Tuesday,
October 28th at 7:03pm.
He weighs eight pounds and is 20 inches long.

Isaiah now has a brother. He is quite proud.

Rose is in love with Samuel. Every little gesture, sound, and gurgle brings her delight.

Lela is thrilled that Mommy has a live doll to share.
It is bittersweet to share the "baby" spotlight.
***
Thank you all for your prayers. It was a long, difficult labor. About 30 hours of contractions spaced, on average, 10 minutes apart. Finally, active labor kicked in, but lasted a grueling five hours with intensely painful contractions. After only eight minutes of pushing, Samuel slithered out of my body. I have never relied on God for so much strength and grace. It was the hardest labor I have ever struggled through. But, look at my reward. He is beautiful; well worth the pain and suffering.
Welcome to the world, Samuel. You are my mighty, little man of God. What a gift!

Monday, October 27, 2008

I THINK THIS IS IT!! Labor pains a'rolling

WELL.......

I think I might be in labor. For real, this time. Nice strong contractions. They hurt. Coming about 10 minutes or so apart. We have notified everyone on our call list. The midwives were given the "heads up" call. Probably going to be calling them in an hour or so to let them know the progression so far. Jason is setting up the birthing tub. I think this is IT.

I have had the intense prayer time with the Lord. Asked for peace and grace. I keep repeating the scripture "your grace is sufficient for me" and finding comfort in that as I face childbirth.

I do worry that this is another false alarm. Here I have called everyone. Even blogged about it. Then, I go to bed, everything stops. And no baby. Sigh. I hope not. Bring it on!! Let the labor roll!

FYI: Hopefully, you won't hear from me for a few days. Hopefully. I'll post when I am allowed to sit at the computer. I covet your prayers. Thank you in advance.

"Not Me!" Monday


It's "Not Me!" Monday again! Woo-hew! Be sure to check out MckMamma's site; she's a funny bunny! And, did you know she is due the same day I am?? That's right. Her little Stellan is scheduled to appear on October 29th just like my little guy. What a small, small world!
***
This week I did not stare at the "Guess What" chart on my fridge where all my friends wrote down their bets on what date I would go into labor. I did not cross off every square on my calender, slightly sad that this day was NOT Samuel's birth day.

I did not eat a piece of cake every day this week. After all, there was not left over cake from my daughter's birthday and, then, no left over cake from MY birthday. No. Absolutely no cake in our house.

I did not think I was in labor five times, roughly once a day. Nope. Because this is not my FOURTH baby, I certainly should know what labor feels like, right? So, no. It was not me who just knew I was in labor. Five times.

It was not me who heard all day Sunday, "Oh, Jess! No baby yet??" No, not me.

I was not me who almost cried when I saw that the dumb dog chewed up one of my favorite toys. I mean, one of the girls' favorite toys. The "daddy" from the Loving Family. It was not me who rescued the chewed toy from the trash, washed off the mud and then returned the toy to the toy box. Even though his face and his left hand was not chewed off.

It was not me who wrote my "Not Me!" Monday list the day before, in hopes that I will be too busy having a baby tomorrow to be able to post. No, not me. Because I am soo not anxious to see my baby. I am so thrilled to be three days from my due date and still pregnant. So thrilled.
****
That's all I got. Have a Happy Monday! Smiles and blessings on all who read this post!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Name That Photo

OK! I am actually officially changing Name That Photo to the weekend! AND I am giving you a deadline. Gasp. I know. It is very anal of me. And, I will probably have a baby around the deadline, so then you will actually get more time. But oh well. Deadline is (my due date) OCTOBER 29TH. That would be Wednesday. Lots of time.

Let your creative juices flow. Here it comes. Now comment!

Twinges of birth, but no baby yet...

It is October 25th... And no baby yet. I have this funny feeling that being pregnant has just become normal. A condition I must accept and embrace for the rest of my life. Smile. I shall keep waddling around, rubbing my wiggly belly, dreaming of baby boys and continue life as usual. He has to come sometime, right? Babies always come when they are ready. God is an "on time God", right? OK. Cool. Yeah. Soon. -Ish.

Every few days I finish a chore, stand back and go, "OK. Now Samuel can come."

I cleaned our master bathroom until it was shiny and smelled good. It was definitely ready for laboring. I wondered if that was what Samuel was waiting for before joining us out here. Apparently, it was not. Samuel did not care that the bathroom was clean.

I folded all the laundry, put it away and told Samuel I was ready for him. He was not impressed.

I went on a fabulous date with my husband. Afterwards, I assured Samuel it was a perfect time for appearing. He begged to differ.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 29:11) Ah yes. God has a plan. Samuel is in on it. I need to just relax. Ah. Samuel will come in his own time.

And yes, Mom. I do feel twinges. They just do not continue to twinge. Twinges that are coming and going. No long term twinges. I need some twinges! Hee hee.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Name That Photo Winner

Thanks everyone for writing in your comments. Rose is so adorable, I know. Wink wink.

Runner up is Shannon with her comment,
"I cannot believe that they are getting this out of control for a birthday party! Wow!"

**Side note** Kudos to Shannon for posting her comment ASAP. You are sooo on the ball, Girl!

WINNER is Kim with her comment,
"I know those presents are hidden around here somewhere... did you know it's almost my birthday?"

Ha, ha, good one!!

**Another side note** If you haven't noticed, CHouston likes to comment twice. Since she is such a cute, witty person, that is totally fun. I did want to open up the opportunity to all of you to comment freely and as often as you come up with cute, punchy comments. Bring them on! I will not limit my reader's creativity. Hee hee. As many witty thoughts that you can squeeze out should be posted on my blog. Let it rain! **

revolutionary love

I have experienced revolutionary love. Love with no strings attached. Jesus Christ loves me and made a way for me to have a relationship with the One True God. God desires a relationship with you, too. If you have yet to experience this revolutionary love, please email me at jandjkeys@hotmail.com so I can share this amazing experience with you. Blessings, -Jess