Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Review

J and I were excited to go out for every 6-8 weeks date night on Thursday night to a quaint little italian restaurant on Main Street in Fort Mill. It was tiny - one chef, one waitress, and one other lady who floated between the two. We unfortunately were seated next to a large party of about 12 who were absolutely rude, disrespectful and downright obnoxious.  They took all of the attention from all 3 of the employees, which made our meal a little extended - which in the end made for quite a nice evening. The food was delicious and was served slowly, allowing us time to really have conversation with one another.  We started talking about the past year and how the Lord has provided over and over again, and even taken away in some instances.  His protection, provision, and plan were screaming through each thing we talked about ...and I didn't want to forget some of the fun memories and important moments of this year, so here is my attempt to recap as much as possible of the past 365 days that we can remember.
January - Miriam meets my college girlfriends at our first real reunion since 2004; Miriam learns how to hold a 4 oz bottle
February - Miriam officially learns to sit up without support
March - Miriam starts off slow with some rice cereal; Miriam and her friend Taylor enjoy their first celebrity gig (posing at the park for a photo for the local newspaper)
April - Jeremy travels to NYC for a college buddy's wedding; Jeremy gets a new job
May - Miriam gets her first tooth (bottom left); Miriam starts real solids - most of which were homemade; our first family trip to Edisto beach (that had a slight change in plans...); I become part of a blended family when dad remarries; family trip to the zoo on Memorial day
June - Miriam starts with the BabyNet program working with an Early Intervention Specialist to help with her developmental delays (the start of a great friendship with her specialist); Miriam starts crawling almost 2 weeks before she turns 1
July - Miriam experiences her first mission trip; we celebrate Miriam's first birthday pink ducky style; we learn that we'll be expecting another child by March - I stop nursing Miriam 2 days after I find that out - she was almost 13 months old; Jeremy scores a F150 truck with his new job to use as a personal vehicle
August - Miriam has surgery (tubes put in her ears) and comes through with flying colors after she suffered some minor hearing loss and many ear infections
September - the honda was sold (it was my car that my parents bought when I was a senior in high school and I drove it until April 2009); 2nd family trip to Edisto beach to make up for our shortened May trip; we travel to Columbia for me; Miriam takes her first steps
October - Miriam gives up the pacifier (or I make her do it - it only took 3 days); Miriam takes her last bottle (morning milk) - sippy cup and whole milk from now on; Miriam's top two teeth come in; the sentra was sold (we tried selling on craigslist but ended up taking it to carmax - that was Jeremy's car that his parents bought him when he was a sophomore in college and he drove it until he got the company truck); we learn that we'll be having another girl; Jeremy and I take our first trip away from Miriam for a friends wedding in Tennessee
November - we refinanced the house to save over $150/month and dropped almost 2% in interest - woohoo!!; 3 of Miriam's molars start to come in; I begin my 7th year in full time ministry as a Director of Christian Education
December - we bought a minivan (for barely nothing!) and sold the camry (I cried the hardest with the sell of this bought it new off the lot in 2005 and then I got it after she died in 2009.  watching that car drive away was one of the hardest things because it was one of the ways I remembered, I'm just a minivan mom); J gets a promotion at work; both of our fathers have surgery

I'm so excited to see what milestones, memories, and changes happen in 2012 - looking forward to seeing how the Lord presides in our lives. As for new years are a few:
- take at least one picture a day of Miriam (and soon Lydia) and something that makes me practice using something other than the "auto" setting on the camera
- start my MOM'S ONE LINE A DAY: A FIVE-YEAR MEMORY BOOK [Book] book (tomorrow!) - so excited to find the journal at 50% at Books A Million and use my coupon because I also bought this book: <em>One Thousand Gifts</em>: <em>A</em> Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are [Book]!!
- visit my grandparents and godparents more frequently
- cook at least 20 meals a month - seeing how many crock pot meals I can make and how many meals can be doubled/frozen
- become involved in a Bible study, like Bible Study Fellowship that's completely separate from my job and church
- serve, in some capacity, in a non-profit organization like the Crisis Pregnancy Center or a children's home

Take a moment to review your year....and figure out what new things you'll accomplish in 2012 (and steer clear of the diet and exercise plans - they never seem to last long anyway...)


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas this year was, well, just different. Between being kept at home most of the time, family in and out of town, and Christmas on the weekend it made for a few changes in our normal holiday traditional routines.  Nonetheless, it was thoroughly enjoyed by all, and was actually restful and not hectic like it always seems. We didn't throw any special holiday parties this year (partly because I"m exhausted, and partly because we're almost broke) so getting into the spirit was a little more difficult this year.  Finally, by Christmas Adam, I was there...and then it left as quickly as it came. We were able to spend time with all of our family, although it was a short time, but we had fun and Miriam was precious. She probably needs one more year though before everything becomes magical through her eyes.  A few pictures from our Christmas extravaganza....

Trying to get all 4 Ghent grandchildren in a photo can prove to be quite difficult.

My sister with her youngest and a squirmy Miriam at our annual Jackson Christmas Eve gathering (but the night be fore this year)

Miriam and daddy opening gifts -
apparently she was more interested in what Grace was opening

Our Jackson Family Christmas photo on Christmas Eve
morning at the grandparents house for breakfast

Aunt Maddy helping Miriam play with her new baby doll

Miriam learning a thing or two from daddy about putting
Miriam loves her new table and chairs!
All ready for the Christmas Eve service at church
Ghent Family photo self-timer shot

Possibly my favorite picture of the season. J having a tea party with Miriam on Christmas morning
The shot of when Miriam first saw the lit tree with gifts underneath

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Oh Joy

"It's Christmas it's Christmas" I shouted when I woke this morning.  FINALLY I got in the spirit of things, did some last minute impulse shopping, and shared some sweet moments with my family.  Now tomorrow, the advent is here.
May this special day be filled with peace and joy as we all celebrate the coming of a baby, the Savior of the world!

(and then, we'll undecorate as soon as lunch is over tomorrow....)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Follow up ...

And if the post I wrote early today didn't vent enough..
IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT that I spend $150!!!! at the jewelers today to get that stupid ring sized and re-dipped. I was so excited these last few weeks, and anticipated what it might look like and how I'd feel wearing it...
well, it's a little on the big side, doesn't go with my wedding set, and as J told me, "that's your christmas present."

way to go mom - it's all your fault!

(but, it is really pretty and offers a touch of extra bling....)

It's all your fault!

It's been almost 3 years and I'm still grieving.  There are so many cycles to that process, and I've been seeing them lived out in other people in similar situations, and I'm experiencing even myself, especially during this season.  It's a known fact that anger is part of that process...and a lot of times, it's anger directed at someone totally irrelevant to the situation...when it really is anger directed toward the lost one. 

Surely, in my time, my anger has been displaced on too many people and too many things since March 2007.  and for that, I deeply apologize.  But lately, in all of my thinking, my anger finally found its way to the appropriate source - mom herself.
It's all her fault. No, really, it is.

Had she not passed, she'd be a stay at home grandmother, caring for my daughter, my two nieces, and soon to be her new granddaughter.  Neither my sister nor me would have to worry about this whole childcare ordeal, and we'd have that crazy Nana loving on our kids.....
Had she not passed, she and dad would still be living in the house where I grew up...which, has made quite a few cosmetic changes in these last months - almost as if it doesn't even feel like that home I once knew (which is totally fine that dad and Brenda are making it their own...they should and it needed it - and it's looking's just different)....
Had she not passed, I wouldn't have difficulties putting the Jim Shore Santas out for display (and I wouldn't have 6 when I used to only have 2).....
Had she not passed, the ornaments on the tree that once meant so much to her wouldn't make me cry every time I see them.....
Had she not passed, we wouldn't be taking our family pictures and having such a missing gap in them....
Had she not passed, we'd be listening to Carpenters and Elvis Christmas music non-stop.....
Had she not passed, I wouldn't be going to the jewelers today to pick up a resized wedding band of hers to now call my own...
It's all her fault.

And now that I've had my brief moment of selfish humanity and vented my anger...
Had she not passed, I wouldn't have the joy of seeing my sweet Miriam look at pictures of her Heaven Nana" and grin from ear to ear...
Had she not passed, I wouldn't know the joy of experiencing a lost one, knowing their in the arms of our Heavenly Father....
Had she not passed, I wouldn't keep the memories that I hold so dear close in my heart...
Had she not passed, I'd be angry at her for something really stupid, like wearing all black (but in 5 different shades) or buying too many boxes of cordial cherries....
Had she not passed, I would be further away in understanding that "The Lord works for the good of those that love Him and who are called according to his purposes...."

Although I say it's her fault, it really is the Lord's will - for some reason - for me to walk through this life from this point on without my own blood mother by my side, helping me and encouraging me as I become a mother myself.  I miss her greatly - especially in these days - and that grieving still hasn't reached its end. 

Praying for peace in this season for me and my family, and for my dear friends The Leathers, The Whites, The Kimbrells/Phillips, and the many others experiencing loss, grief and anger in this season, maybe for the first time at Christmas.  It's not easy, and it's more than hard, but there is purpose out of it. Although we don't know and understand that purpose, we're called to trust our Father, for he knows our needs.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I have had a good bit of fear these days - really ever since the beginning of the pregnancy - for several reasons:
1. My family has a history of 2nd pregnancy miscarriages
2. I have a history of preterm delivery
3. I have no clue what happens after you birth a 2nd child and you're a full time working mother.

Each day, I have had to take in stride, and in faith, lay over my fears.  It's the easiest way for the Enemy to attack me, and I am so vulnerable that I succumb to all of the worries that can accompany the process of pregnancy.  We praise God for the healthy growing baby girl in my belly, and especially today as I reached 24 weeks - a big milestone: VIABILITY.  Not that I'd want to deliver Lydia before the new year begins, but at least she's far enough along, and our medical world is far enough along, that she'd have a great chance of survival out of my womb.  That's definitely comforting and reminds me to give all praises to God for his continued promises in our life.

As for post-delivery, and what happens...this is what it looks like: ?????????

I really don't know how it works, with two children under 2.  I had a great deal worked out when Miriam was a baby. I was able to have her with me until she was 4 months old, then I put her in a church preschool literally across the corner from my church and was able to nurse her freely. Then, she had at home care.  This year, we're back at the same preschool because I absolutely love it, and a sweet lady from the church (who also happens to be the wife of our doctor...) picks Miriam up most days and keeps her for the afternoon so I can work away.  And then, on most Mondays, Tuesdays, and some Thursdays, I have night meetings which we rotate Nana and Papa if Jeremy can't be home.  On a rare occasion, I'll have to pay for a sitter, or forgo my meeting. It's been fairly workable, and we've certainly learned to manage all of the running around, and take advantage of the 1-2 hours/day that I actually do get to spend with her.  We've spent over $800 a month in childcare for her alone and that's CHEAP comparatively.
But emotionally, how do I handle that with another infant? I'm doubtful that our current plan can be arranged for adding in our addition, and switching to a full-time day care is going to be so costly.....
and when I start to think about all of this, I almost hyperventilate. I get so worked up emotionally and financially that I just have to stop and think about something else.
I remember the first moment that the Lord clearly put the desire for #2 in our hearts about this time last year. I remember the excitement, the joy, the adventure....but I didn't think ANYTHING about those 3 fears. It was certainly a "blissful" state, but all we knew and cared about was the growing of our family. That was all that mattered.  It didn't matter at the time the risks of me carrying (or not carrying) another child, it didn't matter about what would happen to our lives after the child was born.  But here we are, and I'm scared as can be.

Lately, I've been clinging to one of those "go to" verses from Proverbs: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways submit to him and he will make your path straight." 

In my fear,
I'm learning to trust with all my heart - just as I did in those first moments/days/weeks of pursuing a 2nd child...
I'm learning to lean on the Lord's understanding, even as I don't understand it, and not fall to the temptation of understanding the ways of life in my own terms
I'm learning to submit to him - even if it involves taking a risk that leaves me without a sense of security in this world.
I'm learning that my paths are completely ragged, confused, and even misguided when I don't trust, lean and submit.

Praying the Lord takes the fear away every moment of every day for me and for you. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Family Fun

We spent Friday evening and Saturday morning together and it was SO MUCH FUN!  We went for a spaghetti dinner and to watch the RH Christmas parade on Friday night.  Miriam LOVED each and every part of the parade and was completely mesmerized by everything going on.  She actually sat in awe for over an hour and waved, danced, cheered, and sang with everyone that passed by.  We didn't go out last year, because we thought it'd be too cold and unappealing to a 5 month old, but I'm so glad we decided to go this year.  We'll definitely make this an every year kind of event.
Then we played outside for a LONG time today, trying to get some good pictures of our family, Miriam, and my sweet 2nd cousin Jack.  Although our pictures weren't overly successful, we had a blast being outside. Miriam just loves to run, run, run.  She loves being outside and doesn't mind the cool wind.  We even saw the ducks and quacked a little with them.  All that playing wore her out, so her rest was sweet today and I really go to enjoy that time :)
Here are some pictures from our weekend:
warming up to it all at the parade

whoa daddy - did you hear that?!

Miriam and all her fans
who wouldn't love that precious face?!
Of course, always a shot of daddy and daughter

Our best attempt at a family photo on a super sunny day

Friday, December 2, 2011

Swimmy head

I really can't think straight. Some people claim blonde brain, some claim motherhood, and some claim pregnancy....I think I just claim busyness.  I am SOOOOO thankful for my 2 days off work this week, but I just jumped right back into the way of the world over the past 3 days (you got that right, I didn't get my usual Friday off this week...). My steno notepad is bursting with listed lines of things needing to be accomplished at the church, the house has potential every second to look like a wreck, I have desires for "upgrading" the house before Lydia moves in, and there are relationships to maintain and nurture that so easily fall to the side.  Oh yeah, I have a husband, and a quite needy/teething with all of her molars and 2 canines toddler. So maybe I should just claim my swimmy head on life?
But I don't tell the truth necessarily.  Some afternoons, I relish in the 2-4 (or sometimes up to 5!) p.m. nap that Miriam takes and how I'm "forced" to stay at the house.  And we're totally spoiled by the fact that she's like clock work and by 8 p.m., she's been laid in her crib and is off to sleep in a jiff.  That's when I zone out.  I am trying to be more productive during those times instead of just sleeping or lounging (which I'm sure I'll be doing my share of sooner than later anyway) but it can be hard.
I've used nap times this week for scrapbook, crafting, trying to catch up with some of those wayside friends, journaling, and spending quiet time with the Lord.   My family is at a crossroads in these days, and I am so desperate for the guidance and discernment he provides when we do seek him.
I was preparing to teach a study on I Samuel this week (the last 4 or 5 chapters) and came across this line in the book when referring to David and his ways of dealing with the Lord:  "David learned an old lesson when he turned again to God for encouragement and strength and sought his counsel.  Thereafter, the Lord became his rock, his fortress, and his shield.  We too can find this in waiting on Goad as David did.  We too must seek our strength in the Lord.  And we too often learn this lesson through many trials and repeated failure to trust God."

So in my swimminess I'm challenged by David's example to seek after those things....and be convicted at my mistrust in my God, my Father, and my Provider.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Three goals, day 2

So, at the end of yesterday, I wrote this post to remind me of why I took 2 days off from work. A brief reminder for my three goals for doing this:
1. see if "bedrest" really does help with early contractions
2. get my head wrapped around the season with all that it entails (both professionally and personally)
3. start AND finish Miriam's 1st year scrapbook
So...for the second day, here's how I ended up:
1. I didn't have any errands to run this morning, so after dropping Miriam off, I came straight home and showered (ahhhh) and sat down to start the scrapbook.  I worked diligently until 11 when my phone started blowing up.  Two times, the office called me - and I ignored it.  Then, the 3rd ring was from Miriam's afternoon sitter, calling to tell me she wouldn't be able to watch M for the afternoon....which was totally fine because I knew Miriam would nap nice and long in her own crib....but, while on the phone with her, a 3rd phone call from the office, but this time from a personal cell phone. I figured, gosh, for them to call 3 times within 10 minutes, it must be important. WRONG!!! It was to ask a question about something happening a month away from now. It most definitely could have waited until tomorrow to answer.  Top that off with the 3 calls and 4 text messages from the recently married youth guy from yesterday, and I'd say that there was no separation from the professional to prepare personally for the weeks ahead. 
....I, all that to say, I sat for most of the morning, picked up Miriam, then was slow while she played after lunch. She napped from 2-445 today, and I was able to nap from 3-430 myself.   After she woke up, she actually let me just "hang out" instead of crying to be picked up or go outside. She must know that something's up. 
I had a few more contractions today, but certainly not 6 within an hour, so I guess it's okay? I'm anxious to see what next Monday's appointment holds in store to see if I'll still be on bedrest within the next 2 months...or earlier (yikes!)
2. As I've already mentioned, not a lot of separation today...but I am excited and looking forward to the busyness of what's ahead with Advent, children's programming, and other activities that take place in this part of the church year.  I'm ready to tackle it and be a part of it as much, and prepare for the New Year, set new goals, etc.
3. I think it's safe to say that I'm CLOSE to finishing Miriam's scrapbook.  ALL pictures have been pasted, and the layouts are ready for journaling.  This morning, I realized that I was going to have WAY too many pages for the original 12x12 album, and I had been saving some special photos to the I made another 8x8 album to put in all of the "you are loved" layouts of Miriam & Jeremy, Miriam & me, Miriam & her family members, and Miriam & special friends. I think I could use some more photos for that particular book, but there aren't too many pages left to fill it.  I added about 85% of the embellishments tonight after M went down, then I cleaned out my scrapbook tote and papers and was able to purge a good bit.  Funny enough, I have enough stickers and papers to do a whole other wedding album and a lot of sticker phrases in Spanish...wonder if I'll ever need those again - I sure hope not!

So, all in all, the 2 days off were well worth it!  Despite the running around yesterday, and the change in plans today, I was able to relax a bit and recoup and prepare.  I'm already looking forward to my next time off - the WHOLE WEEK AFTER CHRISTMAS!!! I NEVER take this time away, so I'm looking forward to it.  I plan to use that time to get the nursery ready so we're ready for Lydia if she decides to make a super early appearance, or if I'm stuck in the hospital for a few weeks.  
I'm so thankful for this rest - now I'm ready to tackle my unending to-do list at the office starting bright and early tomorrow morning and ending dark and late tomorrow night. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Three goals

I decided to take today and tomorrow off (still sending Miriam to preschool and the afternoon sitters) for a few reasons:
1. see if "bedrest" really does help with early contractions
2. get my head wrapped around the season with all that it entails (both professionally and personally)
3. start AND finish Miriam's 1st year scrapbook

So far, goal 1 was a failure. I spent the first 4 hours of the day on my feet running all around town doing this and that. I had tried over the weekend not to rack up these random errands, but I failed. BIG time.  And of course, as in all Monday mornings, I spent the first 45 minutes at the doctor for my shot, then paying a quick visit for an emergency check. They still have talk about bedrest sometime between 28=32 weeks (which happens to be right after Christmas!)....
So, by the time I got home and got the groceries unloaded (yes, unfortunately, grocery shopping was on the to-do list for today), it was 1:15 before I could actually get started on the scrapbook.  Thankfully, I pulled everything out yesterday afternoon, so I was just picking up where I left off and not starting from the very beginning.  But before I go on about goal 3....

Goal 2- accomplished, at least for today.  I just needed a break. A break from the routine of going into the office, having meetings, emailing all day, fighting with the internet connection at work, making phone calls to answering machines....etc. Not to mention, we just came off of a holiday with lots of activity going on, and we're snowballing into some of the busiest 4 weeks of the church life. I needed a brief separation, and I still have 2 weeks of vacation left to spend in 2011 - so I took advantage and today I separated myself.  I am only hoping that tomorrow will be even better.

And Goal 3....well, like I said, I started it yesterday. I like to do my scrapbooks all at once - it makes SUCH a mess!! So from start to finish, it will hopefully take less than 3 days.  I'm about halfway through putting pictures on the pages...then i'll go back and embellish a little and journal.  I got to one page layout today: "you are loved" many people visited with Miriam in her early days in life and continue to shower love on her.  I wanted to highlight the 3 that showed up in the scrapbook today - because I did more than just stick their picture on the page.  While I was accomplishing goal 2, I was able to spend some time praying for each of these sweet friends in their current season and thanking the Lord for their presence in my life for the lessons they taught teach me.

1. Kimberly (aka - Kimber, Aunt Kim, Kimbo, Jimberly....) - She's my bestest friend from college. We were potluck roommates our freshman year, split up after sophomore year, and gained more in our friendship from that separation than anything else. She's always been there for anything - the wedding as my maid of honor, all of mom's surgeries, and even her death.  She's so special to me.  Momma always said that in life we needed a "BT" (that was Belinda Thomas, her bestest friend from college) and Kimberly is definitely that, not just for me, but for my entire family. I must confess that she does more than I can ever imagine to do for anyone else. She'll drop everything in a moment's notice to be somewhere for somebody. Well...that is until now. She's got about a week old sweet baby boy on her hands now. Anderson Isaac is such a gift to the Foster family and I hate I can't be with her to share in that joy.  But boy, did I ever pray for her, John, and Anderson today.  They've got a lot going on, she's in the midst of breastfeeding (and figuring out how it all works), and they're a little distant from family and a lot of their old friends. Praying that we get to visit with them sooner than later, but unfortunately, it's more difficult to travel with a young infant for her, and I'm pretty much not encouraged to do much traveling, so a visit to Mississippi is definitely out of the questions.  Until then, I pray for her rest, recovery, and time spent with her new addition and that people would surround her the way she loves and surrounds others during similar times in life.

2. Elizabeth (aka "BB") - Elizabeth and I met the week Jeremy and I started dating.  He and I had our first real "date" at Durango Bagel (no longer in existence :() one Wednesday morning after we met. It started at 9 a.m. and didn't end until about 1 p.m.....but during that time, the owner of DB approached me and asked what I was doing.  Seeing as it was Nov after my graduation from college, I was needing some type of employment so I took a job.  Showed up the next morning at 6 a.m. and met my trainer - Elizabeth.  She saw me through every season of my dating with J (the good, bad, ugly, and joy), we exercised together (I even got her addicted to running!), and we shared a mutual like for Sister Hazel (okay, she was a bit more committed fan than I was...).  And then, it just so happens that Miriam's early arrival fell on her birthday - hence her new name "BB" that stands for "birthday buddy."  She loves to stop by and visit and one day claims she'll take little BB to the movies, the park, etc. She teaches first grade and loves her job.  In March, she submitted all of this work to be National Board certified.  It was A LOT of work for her to do - I remember videos, portfolios, and then the big test.  I was looking forward to November 18 as much as she was to hear the results, but knowing that she'd be accepted and start making $7500 more a year.  Unfortunately, anticipation had it's time, and the scores came 2 days late....and she didn't get it.  We don't talk about it much, but I know she was heartbroken.  Who wouldn't be after all that work?! She's a super great friend, and is in the dating scene (unlike a lot of her other friends who are married and having children (or having their second....)).  I have confidence that the Lord has handpicked her husband and new family and can't wait to see that to its fruition.  Until then, I pray for her encouragement in all of her facets of life now.

3. Terri (aka, Aunt Terri, neighbor Terri, Timmy's wife) - Terri and I met the weekend after J and I moved in to our new house.  They were neighbors on the other side of our neighbors and knew one another. When we moved in, we decided to host a neighborhood gathering to meet our new friends. That cookout was a blast, and since then, we've become to enjoy one another's company over progressive dinners, shopping trips, brusters excursions, BUNCO nights (although I carry a bit of jealousy because they're always winning....) to name a few. Even J and Terri's husband, Tyler, hit it off and became buds, and excuses for needing to play golf.  After Miriam was born, Terri was one of the only friends to visit us in the hospital and to hold Miriam there (since she was a NICU baby, they were a bit particular).  She had stopped by on her lunch break, hence the beautiful scrubs, and bonded with Miriam on her 3rd day of life.  Terri and Tyler have been patiently and anxiously anticipating the growth of their family and have been through the season of infertility that many of us have experienced (with no good days)...but something they have experienced that many people haven't is loss - not just once, but twice, in just a span of 7 months or so.  The good day of seeing that BFP and the joy that comes with the planning for what's to come....and then the sad day of seeing the physical toll of loosing that joy - something I've never known outside the loss of my mother which I can't even begin to think that it would compare.  Even though our communication took a loss through distance and time in recent weeks, Terri has taught me what it means to be strong, turning the other cheek, looking out for the will of God, and keeping faith in the unseen even in the midst of the sorrow of the seen.  Today as I pasted her picture holding sweet Miriam, I silently wept, knowing the desire she possesses to become a mother holding her own baby in her arms.  I pray for her and Tyler diligently as they continue to seek God through all that happens, and for there to be some answers to help them move forward.  I especially thought of their hearts in these upcoming weeks - December 14 was the original due date of their first baby.  Although this season will be a busy one for us all, and they do so much traveling for family, I know there will be time to spend with them, even if it is a quick visit.  Until then, I pray for strength and daily encouragement through the happy and sad moments they experience.  Read her journey and insights at her blog (link posted on her name).

Now, I knew all of these things about these special people before today, no doubt.  But I'm glad I had the chance today (and a quiet one at that!) to reflect on it.  I hate that it takes me stepping away from my job and ministry to focus and pray for these girls in such specific and special ways.  It was such a special and sweet time as I sat at my dining room table cutting and pasting.  Kimberly, Elizabeth, and Terri: thank you for teaching me and helping me practice the gift of grace.  I am grateful for you!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's all done!

Well, after 2 cheapo owl wall art canvases, I decided to try my hand at one last project today: the name board.  We used individual letters in the nursery for Miriam all this time, but I honestly didn't want to move all of those screws,, we'll keep the "i" and the "a" for Lydia, I'll buy the missing letters, and we'll do the same in the nursery for Lydia.  But for Miriam, I went along with the owl theme and got some inspiration after searching and searching for what I wanted....3 hours later (this was the longest project of all 3), this is what we have:

The pink was a little too dark for my liking, so I tried to make it fun with the polka dots...and they are a little big for my liking, but eh, it will work. All in all, I'm pretty proud of myself of this and the other two projects.  Especially for saving the $$ that I did - only spent $15 when they would have costed about $150 in the stores and off etsy.  So, I was able to splurge on the rug ($22 from Target) and the can of paint ($18 from Home Depot).  I think I may just go for a plain lamp though, so that will save some $$ too.  So all together so far, we've only bought the furniture (which, might I add, we saved almost $300 with 5 20% off coupons), the canvases, and the rug. This new room may not put us in the red after all!  Mom would be extra special proud of me (except for the fact that I bought the rug NOT on sale) :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

another canvas

So, when I bought the 16x20 canvas to do the first owl wall art, I found a steal of a deal - "mega" pack with 2 for $7.99. I also used my 40% off coupon, you do the math.  Hoping that I wouldn't need both for the project (I always mess up) I figured a spare would be great to have anyway.  When the first one turned out to my liking, I decided to embark on another project to sort of go along. So, for about 5 bucks, I've hand-painted two canvases that would have originally been about $75.  Here's the second wall art:

Of course, I had some inspiration :)  I'm so proud of myself. It's not perfect my any means (especially the turtle - I can't figure out if it's asian, angry, or both?!), but it certainly works if it saves us $70+ I did "splurge" on the run today at Target (the above painting is actually sitting on it) but I still haven't made up my mind. Sure would LOVE to find a less expensive way to get that one.

Next on the list - the name canvas.  Instead of using Miriam's letters from the nursery, we'll use the I and A for the new baby, and put Miriam's name on a canvas with, you guessed it, an owl.  That means I'll have 3 of the 4 walls with artwork with owls. yay.

Speaking of the new room, tonight is the first night in it.  Of course the paintings aren't on the wall quite yet, but we spent some time playing in there today, changed the mattress and a few things in the drawers and she went down like a piece of cake. She normally has no problem adjusting to sleeping in a new place - hoping that this will be just as easy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I've been hiding behind a blog outlet since about August of 2007.  I need my old outlet back. In high school, my outlet was Chopin's Dflat prelude on the piano.  I carried it to college, then discovered some absolute masterpieces on the violin that revealed every ounce of joy and happiness, or disappointment and bitterness. Bach's E major preludio and Bruch's g minor concerto to name a few.  When I needed to leave the real world for a brief time, I engrossed myself in ink already on a page, I didn't write with new ink. Since Easter, I've noticed that I NEED that outlet more than anything these days.

Sadly, my playing lately has been kept to a minimum. Normally, but the end of the year, I've played in more weddings and special services than I can count on my fingers and toes. Unfortunately, this year, it's only been like 8 or so.  (which means our extra $$$$ has been kept to a minimum too :()

We've just been heavy loaded with a lot of life lately - with two incredibly demanding 50-60+ hour jobs, the inability to visit with family and friends, the stress of coming up with the funds to pay a babysitter all week and night sometimes, the thoughts of what tomorrow may hold, etc.  I need an outlet.  And I don't have my most comfortable outlet.  It's not as accessible this time. The only "free" time I have is after Miriam goes to bed and I can't quite bang out that Chopin piece, much less start squeaking away on my violin.

I've been praying that all of that would change.  I was a concert violinist 8 years ago.  Now, I just can play the violin.  It is such a gift and talent and I'm not using it to the best of my ability.  The Lord has been guiding me to different folks and organizations that may change all that soon.  Opportunities are starting to show themselves.  Although they aren't things that I can share in detail at this point, there is hope that I just may have the chance to get that outlet back.  Until then, I gotta get to practicing, sometime?!. My goal - Carnegie Hall :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving, what's that?

It never fails, every year, I feel like I miss Thanksgiving.  In the ministry, after the fall is in full swing, it's nothing but Advent and Christmas.  More specifically, ALL of November is spent planning, preparing, and organizing for what happens the week before Thanksgiving and the weeks that follow.
Sunday, I decorated the church chrismon tree and got the sanctuary ready.  Today, I was even writing advent devotionals for my families and sketching out Children's Church curriculum for the next 5 weeks.  Somehow, Thanksgiving just slips up on me. Every year.

This year, we hosted a service at our church - a covered dish dessert fellowship.  And Thursday morning we'll have a breakfast with the church family.  Outside of those two events, I manage to pack Thanksgiving into a meal and a few hours spent with my extended family on Thursday evening. I just don't give it the justice it deserves.

I've read everyone's daily thankful posts over the last 20 some odd days and applaud them for keeping up with it.  But I've been convicted NOT to do that - simply because I don't want to do it for 24 days, then stop doing it.  I've made a mental note each time I've read one, to be thankful of something myself...and then pray that I won't stop being thankful, even after the "24-30 days of thankfulness" ends.

Just Sunday, I taught the kiddos about thankfulness.  I listed off the blessings and provisions that God gives us and how we all experienced each one - we have TONS of "good things" to be thankful for.  But even in our hard and long days, we're supposed to be thankful too.  Paul, in his encouragement to the church in Thessalonica, tells them to give thanks in all circumstances....and not just on one particular day.

That horrible, no good, very bad day I had a few weeks back - didn't give thanks that day.
The weekly shots I get - not too often do I give thanks then.
But, give me a lower mortgage rate or a well desired yummy homemade pound cake, sure, not problem - I'll give lots of thanks.

I can already tell this will be a challenge.

So maybe it makes sense that I over look the actual day of Thanksgiving (in which the roots started from the Mayflower and pilgrims and indians, and the TV highlight of the day is Macy's parade....).  But for now I'll try to make everyday thanksgiving, doing just what Paul taught.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Canvas reveal

All things owl - I love it.

So, J says I stole the idea...I say I used it as great inspiration.
$30 canvas mass produced or $2.50 canvas painted by moi - what's your pick?

It may not be perfect, and the lines aren't even straight, but to me, it's adorable enough and it has personal touch to it.  It works for me! The expensive one was a 21"x21" canvas, mine is a a 16x20. I only had to buy the canvas, because I had all of the paints and brushes on hand. I even took a quick refresher course on how to mix colors to make new colors :) So glad I had the inspiration, saved some $$ and got crafty.

Here's another little owl that I made last week as a trial run to see if I'd like making more of them and if I should use the burlap or not. I used the tutorial from Flea Market Trixie.  Of course, Miriam loved it, but then tore it up. Ha.

And here's a horrible photo of her owl bow holder that I made the other night. For .67 cents, it works too. :)

What should I do with the other canvas (the package was $4.75 for two)? Should I do another identical painting, or something different?

And here's a link up button to SkipToMyLou's "made by you monday" post - hoping to win the big prize!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Miriam's new room

Since Lydia's arrival is quickly approaching, we've decided to bump upgrade Miriam to a new room before the end of the year to avoid the awkward adjustments AND the arrival of a baby sister.  We feared we wouldn't have much luck with that because of the furniture having to be ordered, but we were in business when the store told us they just had one of the cribs arrive that day!  So, of course it looks like it's totally possible to have her all nice and cozy in her new room by Christmas.
We've already painted her room (buttered sweet corn - a nice blend of yellow and gold making it so warm and cozy).  We've ordered/purchased the furniture in an espresso finish.  The feel reminds me of Winnie the Pooh - don't ask!  I've decided that since we didn't "decorate" the nursery other than a few silk flowers, a shelf, and her name letters, that we'd have a small theme in her new room.  Owls are the big hit these days, and they are sooo cute.  I learned in the nursery that "bedding" was overrated - we really just need crib sheets, so we didn't buy a bedding set for Miriam's new room. We'll save that $$ for when we turn her bed into a full.  But I wanted to piece together some cute things from the different baby/kids owl collections at some different stores.  I've gotten my wish list to hopefully bring her room together.  Here are some of the items:
Oopsy Daisy too Owl Wall Art (21 x 21")
owl wall art from the Oopsy Daisy Too/love n nature collection at Target
 (I have something in mind to make my own version of this though...)
ClosetMaid Cubeicals® 9 Cube Organizer Espresso
cubical to store some toys and books (since the bookshelf will remain attached to the wall in the nursery)
Kids Line Dena Happi Tree Lamp - Kids Line  - Babies"R"Us
cute lamp from the Happi Tree collection
Circo® Chenile Rug
pink rug to go in front of crib (to cover up paint stain....)

I am also thinking we'll do some wall decals of the owls and branches, her name letters will be transferred to her new room (in raspberry fuchsia color).  We'll probably use a lot of the pinks/fuchsias/greens/yellows in this room - bright and cherry, and a not as "baby."  
Oh yeah, almost forgot - last night, I bought a wooden owl (about 4") from Hobby Lobby, took some ribbon and hot glued it to the bottom, made a loop with ribbon at the top and viola - a bow holder!

I can't wait to pick up the crib and dresser this week (we'll only be waiting on one chest of drawers) and get them in the room and start hanging things on the wall. I'm so excited!!! Too bad we wont' be doing much to the nursery this time around. I do think we'll make the "name" thing different...I'm thinking vinyl circl monogram on a mirror??? We have a perfect mirror, although it's large...but until we settle on a middle name, that's impossible to do!  So for now, I'll just focus on the new room!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I love surprises! And after a week and a half of hard core working my booty off (and taking care of my 16 month old....and trying to keep our family sane when I'm acting as a single mom...and growing another little one in my belly....) a surprise was definitely what the doctor ordered today.
I've been a little on the sad side lately, just staying busy with work and not spending a lot of time with Miriam and having to call on so many different people to take care of her (which we're totally blessed beyond measure with the folks who step in to love on her on a DAILY basis!) - but momma would have LOVED to spend all of that time with her granddaughter, I just know it.  She would have been a "crazy nana" as she termed it in her final note to me before she died, but still, crazy is better than none at all.

And I'm so thankful for the women in my life who not only love on me, but love on Miriam.  My MIL is definitely a God-send (God wasn't just preparing J to be my husband all those years, he was preparing her to be a fantastic MIL too!), my aunt, ladies from the church, other family members, etc. They are great, wonderful, guiding, and helpful ladies.

Well, my surprise today came from another great lady.  I don't even know her, never met her, and just recently discovered her blog through one of the link-ups I did last week.  I had commented on her blog about this awesomely beautiful advent calendar and how I could only wish one day I'd be able to do something that crafty (but we all have learned my abilities with the sewing machine are limited....okay, none!)  Well, then, she finds my blog, reads a post, comments on it, then asks for my address to send me a cute baby gift.  I was thinking, "awe, she crocheted me something for baby Lydia...." :)

UM - NO!!!  On my doorstep when I got home tonight (12+ hours after I left the house this morning, mind you) I had a package....from MINNESOTA...from the lady....and inside - THE AWESOMELY BEAUTIFUL ADVENT CALENDAR!!! Get out of town!! And a sweet personal note that was so touching.  Yet, another lady reaching out to the young momma without a momma of her own.
Here it is (the picture credit goes to battery was dead):
Thanks, Vickie, for making my day (and my week, and quite possibly my year)!  I can't WAIT for December 1 to come so we can start using it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Just throw it away

I've been nesting really bad lately. I didn't really do much when I was pregnant the first time around, but it has seriously kicked in this time - and early! We had decided that we were going to keep the nursery as the "nursery" and bump Miriam to our 4th and final bedroom in the house - which meant that our "office/music room/exercise room/photography room/every other little thing room" needed transformation. So I got to cleaning in the closet and in the room, which led to cleaning other closets and other dressers and other rooms.  My motto: "just throw it away."

I got to the last dresser in Miriam's new room - which I had forgotten a little bit about.  In it were quite a few memories.  I pulled everything out, sat down in the middle of the floor and reread over 100 cards from friends, family, and church family members from February 2009 - that cold month. The month in which my life changed forever. The month I lost my dear, sweet mother.  As I was reading, I couldn't help the tears from flowing.  I hadn't spent a season in sadness over her loss in a while, so I guess it was about time...and not to mention the pregnancy making me cry even harder.   So many dear friends shared their hearts, their words of sympathy, and their faith in God.  For so many of them, the caringbridge site I kept up was such encouragement to them.  quite honestly, I have no clue how I manged to hold it together for all of those 22 months - see for yourself. But their cards of sympathy after her death seemed to warm my heart so.  I had stuffed them away in the drawer, hoping to never read them again - I just didn't want to relive that season of life.

So after I read each and everyone (and laughed at the cliches of Hallmark and American Greetings...) I put the cards back in a pile.  And then I threw them away.  I know it sounds harsh, and some of you may have kept things like this over time for encouragement and remembrance...but I didn't feel like I needed to do that.  Instead, I just threw it away.  At first I was angry at myself "Why on earth did I just throw away those memories?!"

Truth is, I threw away the cards, but I didn't throw away the memories.  I relive them each and every day.  Especially in these days of motherhood and impending motherhood.  I often think about mom, who she was and what she taught me (and didn't teach me).  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss her, but some days are just harder than others.  I don't have her to care for my sweet Miriam, or call when something interesting happens, or vent when J and I have had a "discussion," or any of that stuff. She can't help me when I need help, and she isn't there for me to make fun of.  But the memories are all still there. Vivid ones, at that. And I don't need sympathy cards to remind me of them.  So I just threw them away.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Okay, okay...

So, after I wrote this post last night, and asked for opinions - it was quite clear what I should do:
2. Maybe make a cushion for M to sit on.
3. Purchase special hinges/latches that would help with the opening and closing of the lid, or help it stay shut once M realizes how to open it.

So, my craft challenge, has actually been made easier on me. One less thing to worry about.  Now...for the cushion, I think I got this one (and I might even do it a "no-sew" style method, my only favorite way of sewing...

Thanks for your input!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Craft challenge(d)

So, I totally need mom for this one, or at least her sewing expertise. She never taught me to sew, although she left her sewing machine to me after she died.  I was always afraid of it - especially that little pedal thing that would make the machine rev up.  Now I regret that I never asked her how to work it.  The best I ever got when it came to sewing was how to sew on a button (and even at that, my husband can do a better job than me!)

Anyway, I've got a project that has to be completed by the time the baby arrives (preferably by Christmas, because we hope to have M in her room before then).  PLEASE share any ideas or suggestions - or maybe even your talent - to help me figure out what to do with my predicament.

When J and I got married, a sweet couple from my home church gifted us a beautiful hand-made cedar hope chest.  This stores a lot of our china, special tablescape necessities for the fall and Christmas seasons, and a few other random things.  It's quite sturdy - meaning it weighs a bagillion pounds.  It has a lid that opens with hinges on the back side, like a toy chest would, except the top weighs a good bit too. So if it were to fall down on your hands while not looking, you'd probably lose a limb!  It has been in the "office" since we moved into our house, but that room is slowly transforming into M's "big girl" room.  We have the first coat of paint (sweet buttered corn!) on the walls, and there is furniture ready to be moved in.  But this chest has no where else to go in our house. It HAS to stay in this room. So I need to do something with it to make it functional, safe, and look like it belongs in the room.
Here are some pictures of it's beauty:

(You can already tell the color on the walls - so glad it didn't turn out to be a blinding sunshine!!)

I should also note that the color is a cedar pine - beautiful in itself - but M's new furniture is espresso a deep chocolate brown, so the two really won't go together.

So, here's the plan so far: Part 1: move the hope chest away from it's current location on the wall to right in front of the window.  Part 2: Turn it into a piece of sitting furniture.  Part 3: Cover it so M doesn't know that it has a lid that will open.  I think we can handle part 1.   Part 2, I think I know what to do (buy some pieces of 2" foam, spray adhesive together, tack on some no-slid rug runner stuff to the bottom and viola!).  It's Part 3 that I'm having a hard time visualizing....and then, of course, producing.  I'm thinking something like a box cover, simple, durable and easy to remove when we have to get into the chest.  But I just don't know how to go about it.
1. Should I just get some fabric and drape it?
2. Should I get a table cloth and drape it?
3. Should I get something and sew it together?
4. Is there any other option out there for me?
5. How expensive is this little project going to run?

As a side note, the measurements are as follows: 39.5" length from edge to edge, 20.25" depth from front to back, and 18.75" from floor to top (keep in mind, there will be 2" foam pieces on top, making it a full 20.75" from top to bottom).
If you want to offer any suggestion, I'm game.  If you want to offer your assistance, I'm indebted to you.
Go get crafty!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


So, the pinterest deal that got me inspired to make this led me to a few other being whisper wood cottage. When I played around with the burlap, I just knew the craft opportunities were endless - but I didn't know they'd be sooo endless.  They're doing a Month of burlap projects where folks are linking up to show off their creativity. Well, I felt silly with my frame, but I posted it anyway and linked up myself.

And found some other really cool ideas/projects (probably none of which I'll actually be able to accomplish just because I'm not that crafty....these are some of my favorite.

1. owl ornaments (since my new favorite fascination is cute owls):   

2. monogram framed letters (thinking I may do this in Lydia's room...have a large middle "G" with a smaller "L" on the left, then an "E" on the right...or a "G" on the right...we still haven't decided on the middle name): 

3. and my ABSOLUTE favorite - the advent calendar. since I don't own a sewing machine that actually works (I have mom's old relic), I'll never be able to do this...but I still love it: 

Since the burlap was so cheap - I bought a good bit of it when doing the frame (and I have an entire roll of freezer paper to use if I print on it), and lots of spare ribbon around. I wonder if I can think of some other things to do with my burlap?! Do you have any ideas??   Let me know and link up too!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beautiful things

Talk about a promise of beauty.  We had our "big ultrasound" this morning (although we already knew the sex), but it was great to see all 4 chambers of the heart, the kidneys, the stomach, and beautiful head, the cord, and all of the little parts that make up the small melon in my belly.  We were blown away by the black and white beauty on the screen and ever so thankful for the blessing of it. So that we'll never forget how beautiful that moment was, a few shots of Lydia.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A promise of beauty

We've already started to have some cooler temperatures here in the south.  I'm quite worried that our season has gone from summer to winter without our fall. I can handle the mild temps, but the below freezing lows in the mornings are killing me!!
A few weeks back we (finally!) cut our garden back.  I LOVE our garden - we did it back in April 2010 when I was pregnant with Miriam.  Well, I guess Jeremy did it - but I supervised!  Here are some before pictures - atrocious!!

Here is a picture from right after we completed the garden and added in some plants (some already in bloom) in April:
What was there was quite the sight. I'm so glad we got to work on that space.  If we never do anything else to our house, I'll be happy that this was done!!
So there, our pretty garden grew that spring/summer, and we cut it back, then it absolutely took over the world this year.  It was so busy, overgrown beautiful flowers everywhere.  It apparently attracted the neighborhood gray cat (that if I can ever catch might "disappear"...) because it kept pooping in the soil.  Day after day after day after day....maybe that's why the garden grew so much?
So anyway, we took the time a few weeks back to weed everything out and tame our container of greenery.     All of the beauty left.  It was time for the fall and cooler temperatures to move in and all of the green to turn brown.  However, last weekend, we noticed a little bud shooting up from our blue iris leaves.  And sure enough, despite the below freezing temps each morning and a blast of rain one of those days, this is the beauty that has sprung forth - in the FIRST WEEK OF NOVEMBER!!

Who knew that irises would bloom so late?  I remember that this was actually the first flowering plant to bloom at the beginning of the spring.  It had a short season of beauty, then was overtaken by the black eyed susans and purple cone flowers.  
Seeing this unfold this week was a constant reminder to me of God's promises and beauty that he supplies to us on a daily basis, and even in times in which we least expect it. There is a promise of blooming and beauty again - even if it doesn't come until next spring - but we were able to enjoy a bit of beauty from these gorgeous blooms this week.
All of this has given us a bit more affirmation of our growing daughter's name.  We've had the hardest times with girl names, and what do ya know - that's what we end up having.  We don't argue over them, we just never find one that "suits" until we find "the one".  That's the way it was with Miriam.  This time around, it's been a bit more difficult, and we're trying to keep the same criteria when choosing the name.  So far, we've settled on Lydia for our daughters name (no middle name yet).  We've debated back and forth about the perfectness of the name, but I think we're at least 90% settled....unless something else pops up.  But the name Lydia is so perfect.  It means beauty.  How perfect, uh?  The beauty and promise reminder of that flower....God will fulfill yet another promise to us before next spring in a different way of beauty - and we'll call her Lydia.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Burlap frame of/for Miriam

I love to pretend I'm crafty, although I'm a far cry from it. I am loving the bits and pieces of inspiration that I get from pinterest, even if I only get a chance to look at it once a week.  Since I started that journey, I made this for my niece Grace for Christmas with this inspiration.  I think she'll really love it - and it's cute just like her.

Then, I've been slowly trying to get this project together: it's a combination inspiration from these two ideas:  taking the wood and phrase and using the frame and burlap idea to make one frame with printed phrase on burlap with a picture of Miriam.  I'm excited to hang this one up, find more phrases, and have this be a staple baby gift to my friends.  All in all, the materials were fairly inexpensive ($5.50 for a super duper ridiculously large roll of freezer paper, $2.99/yd for burlap-the project took less than 1/4 yd, and a picture frame - got mine on sale at Hobby Lobby for 1/2 price). And the finished project:
What's your latest pinterest inspiration? Are you actually following through with any of your pins?!