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!

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