Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mountains and Valleys

The past almost two weeks have been filled with very high peaks and deep valleys.

Brian and I found out that we were going to have another baby and we were absolutely excited. 

Last Tuesday, I lost our precious baby.  We went from such elation to profound sorrow in so short of a time and my grief has been the deepest valley I have ever walked through.  All of our dreams for this baby were cut short; I am heartbroken that I will never get to cuddle our little one or see Ethan and Luke play with their sibling.  Watching Ethan grieve too has been wrenching.

One of my favorite worship songs has been running through my mind since this happened:

Blessed be your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where the streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

He gives and takes away
He gives and takes away
My heart will choose to say
Blessed be your name

In my grief, the lines "He gives and takes away" really speaks to me.  For whatever reason, God chose to give us the amazing gift of a precious baby and then take it away.  We don't know why this happened but even in our grief, we choose to bless His name since I know God is still good.  In anything hard, we have the choice to either react to or against God.  My choice is simple: to either grow closer to God in the hard times or blame Him for something I don't understand.  I've spent a lot of time in prayer over the past nearly two weeks that have been some of the hardest times of my life.

In our grief, I haven't been able to write or much else.  I've been so thankful for amazing friends and family and especially my husband who has been incredibly supportive.  This is the first time that I have actually felt like writing since and so I hope to continue to blog but I will probably be somewhat sporadic as I continue to grieve and recover especially all of the stress caused a fibro flare up.  We would appreciate your prayers as we continue to grieve our precious baby.  Thanks.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Getting Crafty

My sister in-law is getting married this week and I'm privileged to be one of her bridesmaids.  As one of my duties, I made the bow bouquet for the rehearsal from the bows and ribbons from the gifts from one of her showers.  Since she is registered at Pottery Barn, there were a bunch of beautifully wrapped gifts from there all sporting the same sage green grosgrain ribbon and silk flower embellishment.  And that is about where I started to get carried away...

All the ribbons, flowers and bows matched.  They seemed far too fun to just tape them on a paper plate.  So I had to do something pretty with them right?

I started with making the white ribbon into ribbon rosettes by hand stitching them and I thought they came out super cute.  All I had to do was to gather and circularly attach one side of the ribbon and a rosette was born.  I think I was a little too proud of myself for being able to do it even though my hands hurt from the fibro pain after a little while with it but it was a small victory in crafty-ness for me.

I used a Styrofoam ball and wooden dowel to make the form of the bouquet and started by hot gluing the green ribbon over it. 

I wired the ribbon with florist's wire to stick into the Styrofoam.  Yay for needle-nose pliers!  These ended up being my must-have tool since my fingers were getting raw from twisting the wire and then forcing the ends into the Styrofoam until I realized that the pliers could grip it for me.  Revolutionary.  The long green ribbons ended up looking really fluffy and foliage-like as I tucked the loops around the "flowers".

At this point, I started to get excited since it actually looked like a bouquet and not just a mess of ribbons and bows.  My fear that this would turn out to be an embarrassing wad was beginning to look like it might have been unfounded.

I wrapped the dowel "stems" with another ribbon, added a charm that was on one of the gifts, and tied a bow.  This was all held together with pretty much all the glue that my glue gun came with when I purchased it.  So, if a little is good and more is better, then all of it has to be the ideal, right?  I think I got a little heavy handed with it but there was no way I wanted that thing to fall apart after spending hours working on it.  And what is more, my sister in-law loved it when I gave it to her early since my boys were taking a keen interest in it.  I think they thought that it looked like a great alternative weapon to battle with instead of only light sabers.  While I was being crafty, they were trying to figure out how to destroy things; there is a profound difference between girls and boys.

Happy crafting!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Christmas in September?

I would like to formally register my complaint:

Friday night, Brian, Ethan, Luke and I went to Kohl's and noticed all the seasonal displays; very fun but the wrong season given that one of the displays featured Christmas tress and ornaments.  I would like to note that Fall officially starts on September the 23rd this year according to my calendar.  Christmas occurs in winter, last time I checked.  According to my math, this display is up more than three months before the actual holiday occurs.  That is one quarter of the year spent with Christmas decorations available for purchase at our local Kohl's.

I now have proof that Christmas is starting earlier and earlier each year.  I used to think it was bad when the Christmas decorations came out the day after Halloween since it seemed like Thanksgiving was being swallowed up by the ravenously hungry reindeer but now it seems that Halloween is a casualty too.  I mean, we haven't even had school pictures yet!  And my boys are already asking about getting out tree up...

This time of year should be spent drinking pumpkin spice lattes and enjoying the beauty God created in the changing colors of the leaves and giving thanks for everything He has provided.  Somehow, beginning the focus on the commercial takeover of the holiday of Christ's birth really ruins it for me.  It bothers me that we, as a culture, have to be continually be looking out for the next best and great thing without being able to appreciate all that we have been blessed with, hence my soapboxy rant.  It is my sneaking suspicion that the retailers believe that this Christmas is going to be so weak that they need to start now to get everyone "in the spirit".  But, that's not the real spirit of Christmas.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Boston in the Fall

"We are the pirates who don't do anything
We just stay at home and lie around
And if you ask us to do anything
We'll just tell you we don't do anything

And I've never hoist the main sail
And I've never swabbed the poop deck

And I never veer to starboard
'Cause I never sail at all

And I've never walked the gangplank
And I've never owned a parrot
And I've never been to Boston in the fall

Well I've never plucked a rooster
And I'm not too good at ping ball
And I've never thrown my mashed potatoes
Up against the wall

And I've never kissed a chipmunk
And I've never gotten head lice
And I've never been to Boston in the fall."

-The Pirate Who Don't Do Anything, originally from Veggie Tales silly songs

I've been singing this song incessantly for the past couple weeks as my mantra, a sort of bucket list if you will, since this past weekend, Brian and I were able to go to Boston in the Fall... sort of since Autumn doesn't start until next week officially.  And yes, almost the entire time I was there, this song was running through my head in a sort of gleeful way.  It really is the little things in life.

Irony seems to follow me everywhere though so it should come as no surprise that I was so excited about being in Boston that I didn't realize where we were the moment we got off the subway in the middle of the city.  We walked right through the place where the Boston Massacre happened as we tried to figure out what we should see first.

The Boston Massacre happened right in the middle of the intersection behind me.

Where I grew up in Southern California, something is considered "old" if it is 50 years old and "ancient" if it is from a hundred years prior.  On the East Coast, not so much...  Paul Revere's house is currently 330 years old.  Of course, we had to take a picture of architect Brian in front of the old building:

Paul Revere's House
Brian and I were incredibly excited to get to eat at the oldest restaurant in the country, Ye Olde Union Oyster House, which was established in 1826.  We had the best clam chowder there which is probably the reason for its nearly two hundred years of continuous service.

Walking through another part of the city, we stumbled upon Louisa May Alcott's childhood home in Beacon Hill.  She was the author of the famous Little Women and subsequent books about her beloved characters.  She was one of my most favorite authors when I was little and definitely one of the ones responsible for my addiction to literature and hence my love of writing.

Me next to Louisa May Alcott's House
Boston has to be now one of my most favorite cities and this past weekend was a huge adventure.  Though, I think I need to go back sometime actually in the Fall to be able to say I did that.  I am grateful to the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything for the inspiration!  Hopefully, the song will encourage some new adventures, but if it comes down to it, I really don't feel like kissing a chipmunk and would prefer to never experience lice.  I'll stick with Boston in the Fall.

Brian is a great photographer, don't you think?!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Larry Boy on Sale!

One of Ethan's favorite movies is Veggie Tales:  Larry Boy and the Bad Apple which is about fighting temptation.  It even mentions the temptation of playing too many video games and eating too much chocolate which happen to be Matthew and Stephen's vices, respectively.  And, as I am always a sucker for really good deals, I noticed that it was on sale for $4.99 at  Click here to check it out. 

My boys very seldom watch television and instead are VeggieTales connoisseurs which makes me happy since I know it is reinforcing what I am trying to teach them.  Especially at this young age, I think it is incredibly important what I allow them to watch; in my psychology classes in college we talked about how research seems to show that personality is set by the time a child turns five years old.  Sometimes, it feel like they don't quite understand everything I try to teach them but I know it is getting in there and that statistic is a huge encouragement to keep trying.  Having them in an environment saturated with God's love is necessary especially at this age to shape their hearts towards the saving grace of Christ Jesus.  So, thank goodness for VeggieTales and even more when they are on sale!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Can't Believe I Said That

As I was trying to think of something deeper to write on, I was far too distracted by my incredibly aching body to come up with anything meaningful.  And while one might think this is just another episode of fibromyalgia, it actually isn't and my pain is all due to a stupid mommy decision:  I played "horsey" with the kids for far longer than I should have.  Ironically, as I was doing it, I was joking with Brian that playing with the kids like that gives me 42 and 36 pounds, respectively, worth of weight training as well as cardio.  Now, about two hours after playtime, my abs are so sore that I can barely make myself sit up. 

And this got me thinking about another one of my not-so-grand moments. 

Not too long ago, Luke was running amok at Target and I literally told him to act like a grown up.  Yup.  I still can't believe that I said that.

He looked at me so funny, I could see the thoughts running through that two year old mind going, "I thought so but now I know for sure: she really is crazy!"

And while I apologized for being way too demanding and he thought it was funny, I am really thankful that there is grace for my failings.  Even though I mess up as a parent periodically, God is still in control and I hope that my ability to acknowledge stuff to my kids will help them see the work that God is doing in me.  That and they can laugh at me for not being able to move from playing too much "horsey" like I know they will tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Midnight Musings

Last night, at about 8:30, I was sitting in the JFK airport in New York waiting for my flight to get home.  Brian and I took a mini-vacation over the weekend and on the way home, I realized that I needed to write something to post this morning since I hadn't worked in advance quite enough to ensure that everything would go on uninterrupted.

As I mentally began the writing process and was drawing a blank, I asked Brian who was very involved in the Ravens vs. Jets game at the time.  It took several attempts to get his attention, specifically due to Flacco's interceptions and being sacked in which Seth started to yell at the screen (guess who Seth's fantasy football quarterback is), I asked, "What should I post about?"

"You don't have anything scheduled?  Don't worry about it; it is going to be too late and you are just going to want to go to bed."

"But, I have too!  I can't just have nothing new up!  I said I would post every day except weekends and holidays!  I need to get something up!"

"But, no one is going to care if you are a few hours later."

While I was about to thank him for his overwhelming vote of confidence, the conversation ended because something else happened in which Seth's fantasy football points went even more negative.

By the time we got into our city, to our car, and picked up the boys, I was feeling really tired much like someone had predicted.  On the drive home, at 12:22 am, I started musing on the fact that more bugs were out than normal and found it very amusing that they were flying into the headlights of our car.  At 12:24 am, I thought I saw a deer with only one leg though it just turned out to be a mailbox.  I don't know why I was so worried about the one legged deer running in front of our car...  And, at 12:25 am, I started wondering why we say "a healthy portion" which really means that it is just a big portion and probably not at all actually "healthy".  And yet, we never say "an unhealthy portion".  This led us into a discussion of all the weird ways we say things in the English language, especially all the ways to make things negative like the prefixes un-, non-, and ir-.  After midnight, the question of why we need all these ways seemed to be extremely important and kind of funny.

By the time we arrived home, I realized, using my last bit of function gray matter, I was in no condition to write anything coherent as per above musings.  So, I am late posting this morning, but on the plus side, it is evidence of how things are definitely funnier really late a night.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Adventures on the Home Front

Brian is away on a business trip so I have been holding down the fort here at home taking care of the kids, getting Ethan to school, cleaning, doing laundry, and taking care of mouse traps.

I always have a harder time falling asleep when Brian is gone and so after lying awake for way too long, I finally started to doze off when, SNAP!  There was an incredibly loud thwacking sound from downstairs that completely freaked me out since it was midnight and no one enjoys being startled out of their sleep by a noise that shouldn't be there.  As I tried to figure out what to do like grab my phone and hysterically call someone, grab the kids and run out of the house screaming and then be "that neighbor", or grab the nearest heavy or blunt object I could find and go surprise whatever made the noise, it dawned on me that before Brian left, he set some mouse traps. These traps had been out all week after my run with a little wannabe pantry raider that left me standing on my desk chair looking for an object to throw.  Hence the loud snap/thwacking sound.  There is now one less mouse in the world. 

So, I felt kind of stupid when I realized that my sudden paranoia was exactly that: paranoia.  So, in spite of my intentions to get to bed early, I was up well past midnight.  I decided that I would wait until morning to take care of the mouse but, again, in spite of my intentions, I forgot until both of the boys were up and eating breakfast.  Fortunately, neither of them asked my why I was carrying the plastic bag around the house and why I needed to take it into the garage in my attempt to shield my two normally very curious children from pathetically squished mouse.  I think God had something to do with that sudden abatement of curiosity. 

In a very strange sort of way, I felt very...capable (I was going to say "womanly" but that seems funny in regards to cleaning up a dead mouse!) that I could handle the random and definitely not so fun tasks of being an adult and taking care of home without having to resort to calling my husband to clean up the mouse to "facilitate" the taking care of home (read: pass the buck).  While Brian is out there having his business adventures, we here on the home front are having adventures of a different kind.  Kind of like a safari, just with very non-exotic animals that don't happen to be alive and they are some that you would rather not see in the first place.  Okay, so not like a safari but labeling it that sounds cool.

On a side note, I'm really glad that Luke didn't find out what happened since right now, he is going through a huge Mickey Mouse phase and that probably would have scarred the poor child finding out what happened to one of his cousins since any mouse right now is "Mickey".  Have a wonderful and mouse-free week!

Friday, September 10, 2010


I was so excited Thursday morning; one of my good friends and I invited the other moms from our kids' kindergarten classes to a get together and people actually came!  Yes, I know it seems that I have low expectations if I am excited just because more than me and my friend came but moving on.  It was so fun getting to meet the moms of the kids Ethan is going to be spending the next 13 years with as they go through kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school.  All the other moms that came seemed really excited too to be get to know everyone else and thanked us for putting it together and the consensus is that we need to do it again.

People are hard wired to need to be in community which is one of the reasons I am really excited about reaching out to the other moms.  We need to be connected to others, to feel loved, to be held accountable, to be encouraged and to just have someone to just share life with.  It is why the church is designed as it is; people need this for their faith as it says in Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."  But, this is the very reason that believers need to be involved with the greater community too.  It is the whole "salt and light" concept that allows people to see Christ's love.

I'm so excited that the other moms from Ethan's kindergarten class seem to want to be involved in community too.  We can really only make a difference if we are truly involved in other people's lives in a graceful and loving way as a true friend.  And, as someone once said to me, someone's friend roster can never be too full!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


It is really ironic that when you are little and blessed with the opportunity for ample sleep, you don't want it and when you are grown, all you want is to be able to sleep.  This has been quite evident in our house the past two weeks as Ethan comes home exhausted from kindergarten and, like clockwork, protests within 1-4 seconds with, "BUT I'M NOT SLEEPY!!!" every time I mention that he is tired.

Yet, he keeps falling asleep in strange places.  He once went to get a blanket to cuddle up with on the couch and never made it back to the couch from the pile of folded blankets in the corner.  Brian has also re-read multiple chapters of Tolkien's "The Hobbit" since story time is a sure-fire way to end up with a sleeping child.

My friends and I used to joke that sleep was over-rated... until we had kids.  Those first few weeks of insane sleep deprivation made me understand why depriving someone of sleep is sometimes used as torture.  But, you would think I am torturing my kids by forcing the issue of naptime. 

I suppose submitting to one's need for sleep is a mark of maturity although my boys don't really believe me that one day, they too will want to take a nap.  And on those loud, crazy days especially when they scream when I even mention anything having to do with resting, I find myself constantly thanking God for naptime since it means that mommy gets quiet too.

Don't get me wrong; I love my kids and really enjoy spending time with them.  I just need to recharge.  I can't be a good mom unless I'm taking care of myself and too much chaos just drains me.  And when I'm drained, I don't have anything to give.  The first thing usually to go is my patience, unfortunately- something my boys really need from me.

So, I'll take naptime, however it comes.  We all do better when we are well rested.  And these quiet moments are far better than when you know they are awake and it suddenly gets very quiet.  Those kind of quiet moments I think I'll be on guard for!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thinking Outside the Box with Cushions

My two year old son, Luke, is a creative soul.  He is the child that always has a plan and it usually is indicative of "out of the box" type thinking.  As a result, I have been trying to make sure my camera is ready at all times in order to capture these moments for posterity.  The latest installment:

Luke wanted to wash his hands in our powder room but decided to forgo the step stool we have provided for him under the pedestal sink and instead opted for the couch cushions.  He was quite comfortable while reclining and washing except for the moment he almost slid off trying to smile for the camera.  And, in true mom fashion, I said, "Smile! Now, don't do that again!"  I will use this as a reminder to continue to pray for his safety every night.

It really is no wonder that people keep telling me that I need to keep my eyes on that one!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

On the Origin of Physics

This past week I read an article how Stephen Hawking, the noted physicist, published a book called "The Grand Design" and in it, he says that physics can explain the creation of the universe rather than attributing it to God.  As I read the article, I had to laugh.

"The creation of the universe can be explained by physics?  Y' think?!!!" was my response.

Seriously though, it really grieves me that for being such a smart man, Hawking lacks wisdom and is quite unable to see the forest through the trees.  He thinks that faith and science are incompatible ideologies when in essence, science is simply the empirical study of the world in which we live.  It can inform us of the "how" but not of the "why".  Physics are the "how", not the "why".

The existence of physical laws, particularly gravity that Hawking relies heavily upon in his assertions, is not an end in and of itself as Hawking seems to think.  His premise is that these can and do exist in a self-substantive way .  While Hawking is an atheist and refuses to credit God, he does indeed worship something and the object of his worship is physics. 

Logically, the existence of the scientific laws is just as problematic as the existence of the world. They are part of the world; scientific models of how things work.  The "why" of the existence of physics is the same as that of the universe.  Their order and reason is only suggestive of the order and reason of the One who made them.  It should come as absolutely no surprise that the world was created through physics which is an order than comes from the character of our Creator.  God did not simply "poof" our world into being; He made in a way consistent with Himself and the laws of science which He created.  The mere vastness of the world is evidence of the depth beyond comprehension of His character.  God does not need any type of unexplained magic to create; to think otherwise is a denial of the greatness of His character.  While God does have the power to bend his instituted laws resulting in miraculous events, the truly amazing thing is that these laws exist and such order reigns just as God reigns over them.  Hence, God is not incompatible with science, logic, or reason.

The tragedy of the situation is that Hawking succumbs to the temptation to worship the creation instead of the Creator and fails to see God for how simply big He is.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Watch Out For Earl!

Thursday morning while taking Ethan to the bus stop for his third day of school, my phone beeped with a text message from my dad.  He sent me the name of a freelancing website that I might like and told me to watch out for Earl.

I stood there dumbly looking at my phone wondering who this Earl was.  Was he some scammer or something on the website?  Ethan saw me staring at my phone and wanted to know what was going on. 

"I have no idea who Earl is or why I should look out for him but Papa says to so I will," was my answer to my equally confused five year old.

Only later did I realize how this was truly one of my "not the brightest crayon in the box" moments.  I turned on the computer and checked the news when I got home and realized that Hurricane Earl is currently threatening most of the East Coast and though we are a couple hours inland from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, my dad was still concerned for me.  And I was concerned for some weird, sociopath type person named Earl on the website he recommended lest anyone think I am anything too special.  I guess that website is safe after all so thanks, Dad, for the tip!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bite-Sized Fun

Our local grocery store usually has great manager's specials so when Luke and I went early Wednesday morning after sending Ethan off to kindergarten, we picked up some fun treats for lunch.  Stephen saw a special on potato skins right after I told him he could pick whatever he wanted which meant those glorified french fries came home with us.  I heated them up, grabbed one and went back to unpacking the groceries and left him to eat lunch.

When I came back a minute later to check on him, I noticed that each remaining potato skin had a bite taken out.  Because identical looking potato skins regularly come in different flavors, I suppose.

What isn't pictured though is the fact that the little to go cup of sour cream had been licked clean and my child looked an unusual, creamy white.  Apparently, sour cream is a dish in its own right as well as a condiment.  It is an important reminder that I either need to portion out Luke's allotment rather than allowing him to help himself or be okay with eating already-been-sampled food.  Embarrassingly enough, Ethan, Brian and I all ate some post-Luke without batting an eye.  Such are the culinary adventures in this chicken nugget, mac and cheese, happy meal stage of life.

On the plus side, I did hear Luke voluntarily pray before he ate which definitely makes up for the sour cream finger painting!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When Duty Calls

I've been sick it for what seems like weeks now with what started as a very minor cold nearly a month ago and then turned into a sinus infection which decided to make its way down into my lungs.  Fortunately, antibiotics have been invented and thus my finally feeling like I have turned a corner in the never ending cold saga.  I am constantly battling the old antagonist of my pathetic and unreliable immune system... and it is probably a sign that I need to quit pretending to "eat" my children and putting their feet in my mouth to chew on their toes despite all the giggles as I admitted to my mom last week.  She agreed that this might have something to do with it. 

In spite of being sick, I have been attempting to keep up with life in general since both boys were sick, kindergarten started, and Brian had deadlines again at work which usually means he needs to stay late and work weekends. 

Life with a chronic illness is interesting especially when it is an invisible one.  No one really can see the effects of the fibromyalgia that I constantly feel, but I still need to live life.  And yet, even in my pain, I don't want to just wallow in my illness; I want to live as fully as possible.  It is a lesson that I have been constantly learning about trying to be faithful to God and my commitments of family even when it isn't easy.  That and to buy the large family pack of tissue. 

And while I would love to elaborate more, the irony is that these commitments are calling since my two year old is having a melt down and calling me thus I need to go take care of him.  I'm just not going to "eat" his toes though!