Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Weight of the World

Do you ever have moments in your life where you feel like you want to change the world? I think I have mentioned this before, but often I feel like my life should be dedicated to changing the world... How I would do that I still do not know.

I have also mentioned before Angie Smiths blog and her struggles over the past year. In an ironic and completely unrelated twist, my niece was born on Audrey's first birthday. I mention it because I look on that day and re-live the absolute joy the Twin felt over M & M's birth and cannot comprehend the grief and devastation that haunted a hospital room just a year before, in a different time, different place, perhaps a different life. She is in India right now with an organization that she partnered with after Audrey and through her story the organization is reaching more than before and children's lives are being changed... the world is being changed, one sponsorship at a time.

I don't know if changing the world, for me at least, involves anything outside of my state. But I think about it often and pray the Lord shows me when the time is right... for now the Hubs says "Christina you are changing the world... the worlds of Sugar Mama and the Nugget". I think he exaggerates, but for now, at least until the Lord shows me otherwise, I am content molding their worlds.. maybe THEY will be the ones to change it.

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about a man who changed my life, on this earth I mean, Jesus changed it forever, and yet gives me people here to change it more. See, I often find myself unable to share that story... maybe because it's not mine to tell. His life, his illness, and ultimately his death was something that affected me, still affects me daily, but was a story I witnessed from the outside. That story really belongs to my mom. I will answer questions that people ask me, and they ask often, but find more often than not my throat closes up with emotion and I must stop before I let it spill over. I think it's easier to keep it behind those walls, then let it be released, who knows what type of flood will come. I find it difficult when Sugar Mama talks about him, because like everything else in her 3 year old life she just believes without restriction. "Mama, Mimi, says that Mike is heaven with Jesus, and he's not sick anymore". She has visited his grave, and finds comfort that "Mike is with Jesus and all the flowers". Of course she would get comfort from a surrounding of flowers in a place where loved one's bring flowers to remember.. she doesn't need to remember, she knows exactly where he is. I simply can't bring myself to openly speak about it, only to answer the questions presented.

No, it's not the anniversary of his death, but in just a couple of days the Nugget will be 1, and that date is shared with the anniversary of Mama J and Mike getting married, the year prior. I have never told her this, but I feel very guilty for having the Nugget that day. It will never belong to her solely again, and I wonder if she will ever remember, grieve, whatever emotions come with that and NOT think about the Nugget. It was God's way, I know this too, but again it was not my story to tell....He was sick, almost gone from us when I found out I was pregnant, and all along we thought the Nugget was a boy.. he would have been named after Mike, but she was a girl, and born on their anniversary. It's coming around again, and there is sadness all around. I have already been vocal about the Nugget turning one and how I wish time could have, could still just slow down... and let me catch up, memorizing their laughs, smells, etc., but here we are again. It would have been 2 years. I hope Mama J can steal a moment to visit that time alone, and just remember.

It's the weight of the world isn't it? I can say things here that I can't say out loud. You cannot see my tears, the heartache that lives just under the surface for situations just like this that I cannot change, or the fear that someday it will be my story to tell. I guess that is the benefit of being here instead of in your everyday lives... I can say what I want to you know and show the emotions I want to show. The world has a lot of heartache, both good and bad, and some days it just feels too heavy. But he never said it would be easy, only that in the end it would be worth it.

Today I am thankful for:

Twice this week I have been given "testimonies", really shortened version of things God has shown 2 very important people in my life. I do not get to witness often because I'm changing the world and diapers of my 2 children (well just one, but you get the point), but he's still working, and as long as he is so am I.

A birthday for the nugget. I am reluctant to celebrate, who wants their kids to grow up quickly? Not me, but at least she is reaching that milestone.. there are a lot of parents in the world who would trade a lot for that one moment. Also for the financial ability... again a lot of families right now are struggling, and God has given us enough plus a little extra to pay for this celebration he saw fit to give us.

A man God put into my life to change it, and Mama J for allowing us a glimpse into the ways God changed her and Mike's world. He did get that healing we prayed fervently for, it was just on the other side.

God's voice when he speaks directly to us. My hubs has 2 great stories of God telling him to do something, something he would never have done with out God voice directing him. God gave him 2 great testimonies out of it. He is still speaking, Are we listening? Maybe that is how the world is changed, by following God's instructions one at a time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Instead of Going Through the Motions....

Matthew West has a great song about not going through the motions...

Do you find yourself going through the motions? I certainly do. Being a stay at home can run the glamour straight out of your life. Mondays are laundry days... EVERYDAY is a running errands, fixing meals, brushing teeth, wiping up tables, etc. It is so easy to get caught up in the routine of life that we often forget to live it.

If I would have asked myself "Self, what will we be like 10 years from now", I'm not sure you would have gotten what you see before you, but I'm not sure I had that capacity either. See before having kids I NeVeR wanted to be a stay at home mom. In fact, I was going to school to be a teacher, my kids would go to school, b/c I would be teaching. And then God gave me Sugar Mama. My whole world, the one rotating on the axis every 365, sort of shifted and what I thought I wanted changed. I was the Assistant Director of a Preschool, thus knowing the rules of the game, and was dreading going back and putting Sugar Mama in that school. We were not there for long, and have been at home ever since. I love it though... b/c it was a choice. Just as I choose to sacrifice a lot, others choose to go to work and live a different life. Neither of us are wrong we only do what we feel is best for our children. This went a different way then I expected, so back to topic...

I get caught up in what needs to done, paid, washed, etc, and often forget to sit back and enjoy. Do you know how rewarding it is to hear my daughter excitedly exclaim that she has found a turtle in the clouds, or that she is going to buy the world for $40? She takes joy in the things that existed long before cable and movies. Her dreams are never halted because her bank does not hold the funds.. she simply lives and lives simply.

We are excited about some upcoming events:

~A field trip to pick some strawberries. Hopefully the hubs will join us.
~ The Nugget will be one in just under 2 weeks... where did the time go?
~ Sugar Mama's water park birthday is soon and she cannot wait.

What will you be doing in the coming weeks? If you have anything new or interesting to share for people who will be spending their summers at home please share.

Mrs. Lisa took an unofficial field trip to Butt's Mill Farm in Pine Mountain and highly recommends it, and you can also check out their animal safari. It is very fun, and the kids will love it. www.animalsafari.com

Also if you live near Roswell or are just interested. The Kudzu playhouse is having summer specials for kid theatres. I just took Sugar Mama and the Nugget to see Snow White and The Seven Drawfs. Sugar Mama got to be one of the drawfs and she loved it. It is worth checking out. www.kudzuplayhouse.org

Last but not least you should check with your local movie theater. The will usually have free showings of popular kid movies from the previous season on Tuesday and Wednesdays. They are earlier in the morning and you don't have to worry about making noise because everyone will.

Today I am Thankful for:

Moments of Not going through the motions.

The choice to stay at home, or work. You know my choice, and I will be forever grateful that I did it.

Sugar Mama and the Nugget. This morning I was able to stop the motions and take a look at them sharing some yogos on the steps. The Nugget is truly in love with Sugar Mama, she thinks she is the greatest, and Sugar Mama loves her right back... how did I get so lucky?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Growing Up is Hard to Do....

We visited with our Pediatrician this morning and I just love the nurse practitioner... I've mentioned her before. We had another conversation I have secretly been dreading, although I constantly announce how ready I am for this nursing situation to be over. As of this Saturday the Nugget will be ready for Whole Milk. From the very beginning I was committed to nursing because I could not do it with Sugar Mama. We were in a different financial situation and I couldn't afford a serious pump and did not know cheaper options were available to me, so Sugar Mama was on formula. At the time I did not regret this decision and really don't "regret" it now.

Once the Nugget came along I was determined to do it. There was a sense of pride when I pumped that small amount into an ounce bottle the first time and when I walked into the NICU and was greeted with a congratulations as if I had saved many lives the pride was flamed. I spent every day at the hospital where they provided me a hospital grade pump and then I pumped once in the middle of the night with my smaller pump and transported my small amount to the hospital to give the Nugget when she ate during that week. I was nervous how I would do when she came home, but for that short time I was able to pump enough to give a formula bottle every other feeding and they supplemented with formula during the other feedings.

On the very day she was to come home from the hospital I had pumped enough to put her exclusively on breast milk and I had never experienced that level of pride. After feeling, with Sugar Mama, that my body was unable to care for my babies like it should have; it felt great to provide exactly what she needed. And because the Nugget was unable to get a good latch I pumped for the first six weeks. In the wee hours of the morning I would feed her a bottle with breast milk, lay her down, and then stay up and pump for 15 - 25 minutes. It was ExHaUsTiNg...but necessity was driving me, and on a more superficial note the money I was NOT spending was more than worth the sleep deprivation. When I tried to nurse her latch was so terrible I would bleed, and discouraged would result in giving her a bottle. Some mornings when the night had been more than I could handle I would pump 16 ounces in a single sitting... I had storage bags for days in my fridge...

Until around 5 weeks when I noticed that my pump was not pulling as much milk as it had once been. I was nervous... I did not want to switch to formula now.. 6 weeks was a long time to go then turn around and give up. So I researched ways to improve milk production... can you say gross?, and tried to get the Nugget to nurse. Finally when it seemed my pump would no longer be strong enough to pull my milk she FiNaLlY latched on. I even rented a hospital pump for back, when I went back to school.. I know crazy right? And because she cried so often I stopped drinking caffeine. I have had only Crangrape juice and water since she was 6 weeks old, hoping this would tone down the crying and increase my milk, the crying did stop, but the milk did not increase. She did so great with the nursing and I pumped so rarely that the rented pump was returned and I had stated for the first time "I will be so glad when this is over... I will certainly not miss it".

About 2 months into exclusive nursing I overheard a woman say something about nursing while laying down. I have to admit that being discreet in public was hard. Before I get emails or comments about how beautiful and natural breast feeding is and I shouldn't have to be modest let me say:
I agree with you.. I too think it is beautiful and natural. However, on any given day I am not interested in seeing your bibi's, and certainly not in a private moment like feeding your child. It's a personal choice and everyone is entitled to how they feel...
Having said that...I fumbled a lot and found it difficult to do in the same room with anyone I didn't want to flash, so laying down didn't seem feasible either.. but I tried it, it worked, and we were doomed.

I nursed in the bed all too often in the middle of the night, and so the Nugget and I spent most of our time together.. I was unable to leave her anywhere is except with my Mother In Law came over to sit while I went to school. This was for short periods of time before the Hubs came home, but as soon as I walked through the door, both she and I were ready to nurse. This was our only time apart and I was starting to resent my decision. I loved school, my hubs, and my girls, but the chance for just a few minutes of alone time were slimmer and slimmer by the day, until she was so attached I could go NO WHERE, including the bathroom without her. "I am so ready for this to be over and certainly will not miss it". It took until February of this year before I would really address my lack of sleep and how it was not only affecting me, but her and our entire family.

You can read the blog about sleep training and how I was reluctant to take that step as well. FYI sleep training works.. I did it and could not be happier with the results. It took about a month of routine and practice to get her going to be and sleeping. She was like a different child.. the crying stopped for the most part, and she was happier. I was happier too, and the sleep was definitely helping. It wasn't even until about a month ago when the hubs started putting her to sleep while I was busy that I noticed she was going to bed without nursing. For about 3 months before that I was missing the bedtime routine with Sugar Mama... we always ate dinner...had baths.. got dressed, and read a book-prayers. The hubs always had to do it because after the Nugget had her bath I was nursing. "I will be so glad when this is over and I will certainly not miss it". And then I didn't need to nurse at night anymore... and just recently I've noticed that she has practically weaned herself. She only nursed about 2 - 3 times a day and for very short periods of time.

I have been counting down to this weekend for 11 months now... feeling like I can't wait for it to be over, and now it almost it. I am so NOT over this and I certainly WILL miss it. I am excited about the freedom no longer nursing will present.. she will be able to be watched by someone other than me, because her milk will be coming from someone else, and this will mean a bigger school load, but that freedom doesn't feel so free anymore. It's a sad thing when the grow up. The hubs and I have had a lot of conversations recently about the Nugget being out last child... if that is the case I am glad I had the experience of both nursing and not, but if she is not the last, I will nurse again. It was time consuming, often frustrating and exhausting, but in the morning when she and I can spend those few precious moments alone I know I did the right thing. And it's not for everyone, but one day when she's moving out, getting married, or having children of her own I hope she understands the decisions I made.. just as I hope Sugar Mama understands the reasons I was unable, but that I loved her just as much.

It may not be cold turkey... I may still nurse and give her regular milk, most importantly it will be what works best for her. And I have recently said to the hubs "I wonder how I will feel the first day she does not nurse at all"? Tears are welling up as I write this and I laugh internally at the thought that something I was so over from the very beginning is really over and a sense of loss comes from an unexpected source. She's never really mine, she belongs to the Lord first, and then I get to borrow her for a short time before some man.. (ugh) comes and takes her from me to have a life of her own.

Today I am Thankful for:

The borrowed and permanent moments he gave me with the Nugget during these 11 months. My body for doing what I asked of it, and the bitter irony that my nourishment gives her the things needed to grow and one day be too grown to be under my wing.

I saved my children umbilical cords... YuCk I am sure you are exclaiming, but I could not throw them away... I was powerless, I had to keep them and when the Nugget's fell off the reason behind it finally hit me... those little black, crusty, gross pieces are the VeRy last things that kept those girls JUST mine. When I (and the Lord) were the sole providers and I shared them with no one. How could I throw those away? So I placed them in a Ziploc bag and tucked them away in memory boxes and hope, like all the other stuff, they will understand why I made the decisions I did.

P.S. I did not forget Sugar Mama... she is my first and we had our moments of reflection when the emotion seems to strong to put into words. After all in all accounts she was never to be here, but this is a moment reserved just for the Nugget and I, and for that I am also thankful. Precious memories the Lord reserves for each child, knowing one day I will need to look back and have those filed away to share.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jesus Brings the Rain....And today it's in abundance.

This is Sugar Mama with her "Peeps" glasses from Memaw and Pawpaw.
It has been very rainy and windy today. I heard someone say this morning "It's like we live in Seattle". Unfortunately we will still be in a drought this summer, but God is providing and the flowers and plants are growing. ~April Showers bring May Flowers~

We had a wonderful Easter, I hope you did too. This was the first year that we have not participated in a Sunrise service and I missed the experience. Also, as you are also, I am used to hearing a good service over the death, burial and resurrection of my Savior, we listened to another service, good in it's own right, but rejoiced none the less in my very ALiVe Savior.

I wanted to share these pics with you... Sugar Mama and the Nugget enjoying Easter Egg Hunt and The Nugget's first Easter. Enjoy.
Today I am Thankful for:

Go Fish: Uncle S teaching Sugar Mama how to play.. she exclaimed she is the "chamun".. Champion.

Sugar Mama's very tender heart.. I caught her having a conversation with her teacher today and she felt so guilty she burst into tears and the story simultaneously.

The Hubs: He is keeping the Nugget this morning while I spend time with the Twin, and M & M, and therefore no jealousy, but I miss her terribly.

Three Nails and a Cross: Do you ever wonder what life, or this world would be like if Jesus did not accept that challenge, or if the Jews had accepted him first? I do... and I thank him all the time for a paying a debt I could never repay. It's more than pastel eggs, candy, bunnies and baskets.. it's a very real scene.. battered, bruised and broken, but alive, and redeemed.
He has Risen, just as he said.

Bunny Ears

Finding Eggs

Can you see me? Yeah? haha I'm funny.

Ohhh I found one too.

Baby's first Easter.. God is Good.

M & M sleeping.. isn't she a gem?
I didn't see the nephew this weekend, b/c his daddy was working, but rest assured I will get more pictures soon.

When you pray tonight, today, or whenever.. please mention the name Stellan... God knows all about it, and he is a little boy with a family who needs our prayers.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

She Melted My Heart, Not in My Hands

Allow me to introduce you to my neice M & M... that's my nickname for her.. hence the title....

She was born Tuesday at 2:58 weighing 6 lbs. 12 oz. and 19 inches long.

She is gorgeous!!! and the 3rd sweetest girl ever.. (Let's not forget Sugar Mama and the Nugget)

The Twin is opposed to bows.. although how can you be when you have girls? So I have over ridden her. But when I tried to get her picture this is what I got...

But Aunt Christina wins out...

The Nugget is VERY Jealous... she DoEs NoT like for me to hold any other babies. We thought we would introduce them.. P.S. It didn't work.. she screamed until I put M & M down.

Because we have grandparents who would like to see the grandchildren.. This is the nugget after dinner last night. She is growing so much everyday and she wants to walk so badly, but we're fine with not for now.

Here is Sugar Mama with M & M.. she is very proud to be the oldest of the Great Grandchildren and wants to know why we can't keep the nephew and the neice.. I had to explain that our jobs were to spoil them rotten and send them home... although Mama J has that cornered.

Today I am thankful for:

An Open Schedule at school: I was able to get all of my classes... now let's see how we'll pay for them since Financial Aid doesn't kick in until the fall... God will provide.

The Girls and how absence makes the heart grow fonder: They are with my all the time, but on Tuesday that didn't see me all day. The welcome home was worth all the days when they wish I would just leave them alone. The Nugget even let me rock her as she put her head on my shoulder.

I hope everyone has a wonderul and blessed Easter. Matthew 28:6 - He has risen just as he said.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

You're Grace is Here with me...

Phil Wickham has the greatest song.. in case you didn't know that is the song that is playing when you read the blogs. Thank you so much to those of you who commented on my nephew... I think he quite frankly the cutest nephew there ever was.. or will be ;O) He has been an angel since coming home and his mother and my brother are very glad for that.

The Twin is set to deliver her little miracle on Tuesday. Wow, sometimes I amazed at how the Lord brings us full circle and we don't stop to think of it. I've mentioned before that the Twin has been told for as long as I can remember that she can not have children. Then about 2 weeks after my brother announced he was pregnant, the Twin came up preggo also. To say it has been busy has been an understatement. Mama J has been the busiest... her time is in very high demand these days. But it meant 2 baby showers with in a month of each other and that took a lot of planning and dedication. And here we are...

My nephew was born almost 2 weeks to the day that my niece will be born. They ran 2 weeks apart for months and they continue....
I have wondered often over the past couple of days how the Twin feels... I can only draw from my own experience with Sugar Mama and the Nugget and how there are not words to describe meeting the little one you have protected and grown for months. She says she is not nervous over delivery... just the hospital letting her take her baby home :O)
And that she had a dream recently, a very vivid dream, that showed her the delivery... but never her babies face. God saves those moments for when they will matter most.

I am nervous and excited for her. I will, without a doubt, cry my eyes out just as I did for the nephew.. and for a dream finally realized. With a person who has been told for so long that children aren't a possibility, she has mentioned ever so briefly that she just wants her to be healthy. I know she worries about ALL of the complications and she is almost to the finish line... it's her race to finish, but I'll be holding her hand for as long as she wants. The process of watching these children be born is amazing... truly a miracle, and the Lord has blessed me with family members who are giving.. I was not so giving :O)

Having said that.. Sugar Mama is on Spring Break this week, and Mama J will not be able to stay with the Twin until the following week... so ... the girls and I are up for the challenge.. we are going to be helping all next week. The Nuggets birthday is coming.. she was 11 months old Saturday, where has the time gone? And about 6 weeks after that it will be Sugar Mama's birthday. She recently told Mama J that she would like for people to buy the nephew some toys and she would give them to him, and also daddy a new clean bicycle... sometimes her generosity overwhelms me. With registering for Summer/Fall, and finishing this last semester at school we are a busy bunch, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Today I am thankful for:

The short time before bed that I can spend with Sugar Mama: She loves for us to read her a book, and then to re-read the book to us... she is very good, but my favorite part is her prayers. I wonder, Does the Lord, and Jesus weep with pride as she utters the names of her family members and friends in true spirit and love, like I do?

The Twin....she is letting me in on a very private moment... I will cherish it.

Mama J: She cooks Sunday lunch every week, is always showering my children with love and support, and never requires anything more than time spent...

The Airport: For providing the hubs with work...

Matching clothes: Sugar Mama and the Nugget match often, much to their chagrin, but I love it, NOW, I hated it when Mama J did it to the Twin and Me.

Sorry I do not have any new pictures... I haven't taken any, but I will have more to post soon :O)