Friday, October 31, 2014

Our Little Pumpkin!

Happy Halloween from Our Little Pumpkin!

(Or, as I call her, Punkin!)

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Presents are Fun

Tracey Ann's grandparents are doing their part to surprise her with random gifts, just like grandparents should.  As soon as my parents heard that Tracey Ann was starting to walk between pieces of furniture while holding on to the furniture, they decided she needed a toy to help her walk ASAP.

There was no waiting until Christmas or her first birthday -- they wished her HAPPY WALKING with a special toy surprise.

This was the first time that Chris and I opened a present for Tracey Ann where she was really interested -- both in the process of opening the present, and the present itself.  It made us get really excited for Christmas and her first birthday.

She isn't walking with this walking toy yet, but she loves to play with it, and is starting to use it to pull herself up.  It is SOOO much fun to watch her explore and learn and have a blast with special toys from Grammie and Papa.

Thank you, Grammie and Papa!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Here and Now Autumn 2014

Here and Now...

Making:  Time to exercise -- I average 4-5 times per week

Cooking:  Fish and veggies (and sometimes pizza) -- oh, I cooked applesauce for canning last weekend
Drinking:  Sparkling juice or cider when I feel like feeling festive -- and half regular/half decaf coffee in the morning
Reading:  Audiobooks -- do those count as reading?  I just started Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good -- the newest Mitford book, and I'm also loving the books by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar
Wanting:  To keep my house cleaner -- its part of being the wife and mother I want to be

Looking: Forward to these next eight weeks -- Autumn, Halloween, November, December, the wedding of my best friend from childhood, seeing my parents in New York and Colorado, seeing Chris' parents in Colorado, Chris going hunting, Thanksgiving, and then Advent, and the Christmas season -- and all of these joyful events made even MORE JOYFUL by the presence of our precious baby girl!
Playing:  The harp... or trying to these days.
Wasting:  Avocados more often than we would like -- they are not ripe, not ripe, not ripe, perfectly ripe, too ripe, too ripe, too ripe.  We have to be really vigilant about remembering to find and use the ripe window

Sewing: Memories?
Wishing:  For my time at home taking care of Hubby and Tracey Ann to feel incredibly long, and my time working away from home to fly by.

Enjoying: Every minute with my precious nine-month-old baby girl.  Where has the time gone?  Just yesterday I felt her kicking my belly for the first time... and now she's crawling and pulling up and standing and walking between furniture (while she's holding on to things)... I need time to SLOW DOWN!
Waiting: On the Lord's guidance and timing for letting me stay home full-time
Liking:  How much Hubby loves his new job -- and how good he is at his new job.  He handles middle schoolers who have made poor choices so well, and it makes me fall more in love with him when I see him supporting kids so well
Wondering:  How many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie-Roll center of a Tootsie-Pop
Loving:  My husband and baby girl.  I am so incredibly blessed.
Hoping:  For a fun time this weekend with Hubby and Tracey Ann -- perhaps a pumpkin patch, and a football game
Marveling:  At how joyful our world is with Tracey Ann in it.  No matter what happened at work, this joyful baby girl smiles and laughs and claps her hands and is SO excited to see me when I get home -- anything that happened at work has flown out of my head as soon as I see her smiling face
Needing:  A cleaning woman

Smelling:  Hand-lotion at the moment
Wearing: Really comfy pajamas

Following:  #DuggarIDo on twitter -- Jill got married last night

Noticing:  How handsome my husband is looking these days
Knowing:  That I should be eating less carbs and more lean meats and veggies -- I'm working on it
Thinking:  About the future of our family and wondering where God will Lead
Bookmarking:  Many of Michelle Duggar's thoughts on motherhood
Opening: Thieves oil to put on my feet, trying to boost my immune system
Giggling:  Not all that often...
Feeling:  Like its time for bed... sweet sleep
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Monday, October 27, 2014

Beautiful Mountain Sunday

Hubby and I spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon in the beautiful October Colorado mountains with our precious baby girl and puppy.

It was windy and chilly and gorgeous.


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Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Best Part

The best part of yesterday's Michigan v. Michigan State game was Tracey Ann's adorable Wolverine outfit.

Michigan lost... again... but we have the cutest little Michigan fan despite the score.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014


Yesterday, I made a discovery about homemaking and motherhood... and maybe just this stage of life in general.  In order to accomplish anything, I need to surrender.

Yes, I need to surrender the task to God... but, also, I really need to surrender the state of the house, the timeline for achieving it, and even the animals and baby, to accomplish the project at hand.

Yesterday, in addition to a few others chores, I accomplished three big goals -- Tracey Ann was cared for, my workout was done, and I made applesauce.

Yesterday, I did a nice spot-cleaning of the kitchen, and took the entire day to make applesauce.  I was a project that started and stopped throughout the day depending on the needs of Tracey Ann.  In the end, I only completed half the applesauce project -- I made the applesauce... I still have to can the applesauce.  Also, I had to surrender my kitchen, and my dining room table, to the applesauce project, but applesauce was made.

In the past, when I would make something like applesauce, I would clean the kitchen first, then set up a system for washing, cutting , coring, and cooking the apples.  Then, I would keep an on-going pot of apples cooking on the stove for hours until all the apples were cooked, and batch by batch I'd transfer the cooked apples to my applesauce maker.  As applesauce was made, I would fill mason jars so that jars were ready to go in the pressure cooker to be canned.  As different parts of the project were completed, I would do the dishes and clean the kitchen again.  It might take several loads of running the dishwasher, and several sinks full of soapy water, but dishes would all be washed as I was finished with them.  The entire project would take several hours, and much of the day, but, at the end of the day, I would have batches of canned applesauce, and a clean kitchen.

With my baby girl, there is a new normal for this kind of big project.  Just cutting and coring the apples took several hours, and had to be accomplished in several attempts.  Cooking the apples and making applesauce took another few hours and several attempts.  Canning has not even begun, and, at the end of the day, I did not have a clean kitchen.  Tracey Ann played in her jumper during one time when I was cooking apples and making applesauce.  Another time, she was eating her dinner while she was watching me turn the crank on the applesauce.  Usually she goes right from her highchair after dinner into a bath tub... but not last night.  Last night, I was ALMOST done with the last batch of cooked apples and I just needed to crank it into applesauce, but Tracey Ann was DONE with dinner and wanted to be let down from the highchair.  Well, she got a nice little playtime after dinner crawling around on the floor of the dining room, and under our kitchen table with blueberry-stained hands (even though I had washed them off), and remains of her dinner in her hair.

In order to accomplish making applesauce, other things must be surrendered -- the state of the kitchen, the routine of the baby, the previous timeline for making the applesauce, and more.

I surrender... and I made applesauce.

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Friday, October 24, 2014


Ride 'em Cowgirl!

... And eat that horsehair!


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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tracey Ann's Birth -- The Hours Following

I have been meaning to revisit the story of Tracey Ann's birth for months, since I finished the (VERY LONG) tale of birth.  There are so many other precious memories of our time in the hospital immediately following her birth that I want to remember, and share.

Obviously, nearly nine months later, my memory will not be as clear as it was, but I'd like to share what I do remember.

After Tracey Ann's birth, and the doctor attended to my medical needs, my parents came in.  I wrote about that here, and that led to probably at least an hour of phone calls and sharing our story, and joy, and soaking up the new addition to our family.

After my parents left (maybe around 9:30 or 10pm?), the night nurse began mentioning that we would eventually want to move to our different room.  We were still in the labor and delivery room, but we would have a different hospital room for the remainder of our stay.  There was no rush, but we would want to move before we went to bed that night.

As soon as my parents left, I wanted to TAKE A SHOWER!  I hadn't had an epidural, so there was no reason to stay in bed... and I wanted to get cleaned up.  I had taken a shower the night before, when my water broke, and I was in a bath tub for much of my labor... but the nature of labor and delivery being what it is... I needed a shower.

I was so excited to get up (slowly) and move to the restroom, and begin to get cleaned up.  It was only after I got up and moving that I realized how weak and exhausted I was.  The doctor had told me that I lost a lot of blood and she would be keeping an eye on things to determine if I needed a transfusion -- she said redheads notoriously bleed heavily, and moving to the bathroom it became clear just how much energy I had spent.

The nurse had offered to help me both in the restroom and taking a shower, but my modesty had come back following labor, and I did not accept her help.  Before getting in the shower, though, I called Chris in to be nearby while I showered to make sure I didn't pass out.  He gave Tracey Ann to the nurse and began attending to my needs just as he had during labor.  I think this was when the novelty of Tracey Ann's arrival -- certainly hadn't worn off -- but we both began to understand the reality of the healing and recovery I still had ahead of me.

Following the shower, the nurse and Chris got me back into bed, laying down (still in the labor and delivery room) asap.  I didn't even dry off from the shower, or comb my hair (a compulsion for me almost immediately after getting out of the shower).  The nurse wrapped me in a heated towel, and I curled up in the fetal position, on my side, on the bed, and they brought Tracey Ann back over to lay next to me and nurse while I was laying down.

While I was laying and nursing and trying to regain strength, Chris went about the task of finding me something to eat -- I hadn't eaten since lunch, and we both knew I needed iron, and protein.  I was in major labor when dinner was served at the hospital, but Chris had had the wherewithal to order dinner, so that we would have it and could re-heat it later.  I'm so glad he did -- the cheeseburger hit the spot.

A little time later, stronger, dressed in pjs, and finally having combed my hair, Chris and I walked to our new room.  They offered me a wheelchair, but I was so proud to, just 2 or 3 hours after delivery, walk through the halls, pushing Tracey Ann in her tiny hospital crib, to our room.

Hubby did a wonderful job moving all of belongings from the labor room to our new hospital room, and all I had to do was crawl in bed, and rest until the next feeding.  At least that's what I thought was the plan... little did I know another surprise lay in store before we would head to bed.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Joy and Fear

These days I am learning first-hand that fear robs joy.

The Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, be content in all things, and have a joyful Spirit.  It specifically tells us NOT to fear.  It tell us not to fear something like 365 times -- that number has always stuck in my mind, because it has a different verse every day telling us not to fear.

I am using the word "joy" much often these days, because when people ask me how my baby is, I tell them the truth -- she is an absolute joy.  I have been happy before... but, for me, motherhood is a JOY like I have never known before.

Since I am experiencing, and acknowledging joy more often in my life, I am trying to become a more joyful person in general.  It is in this effort that I have realized that fear robs joy.

I have said it before, and I will say it again, that my hope and prayer is to, eventually, be home with our children full-time.

I am realizing when I am joyful in my job, I am filled with fear about feeling it.  If I am joyful in my work, then I might not get to stay home someday.  If I am joyful in my work, God (or my husband) might not enable me to stay home, and I will have to work outside the home forever.

As I have noticed these feelings, I remembered back to when I was single and I knew I was supposed to be "content" with my life before marriage -- but I never felt joyful about it.  If I was joyful as a single woman, then God would never give me a husband.

All of these years I have discouraged joy in my heart and my spirit for fear that it will mean something else won't bring me joy.

Here's my revelation -- joy in one area of life is not mutually exclusive.  In fact, joy breeds joy!  When I am joyful at work, I am a more joyful mother.  When I am a joyful mother, I am a more joyful wife.  When I am joyful wife, I am a more joyful teacher, etc.

Fear that I won't get what I want (a husband, the ability to work from home) has robbed me of feeling joy where I am now, and, let me tell you, that stops NOW.

Tracey Ann is such a joy -- but, from now on, I will be on a quest to find joy in the students I teach, the colleagues with whom I work, and the long commute that I make.

Welcome, Joy.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oh, You Know...

Oh, you know...

That time when you try to go for a simple 30-minute, 3-mile run with the baby and the dog... and then the baby starts crying 1.5 miles along ... which is when you realize you forgot her pacifier.

Your next 1 mile is spent balanced between getting her out of the stroller to comfort her, calling hubby to please bring you a pacifier -- but he is in a work meeting, so you're on your own for at least 30 minutes, and putting her back in the stroller and running as fast as you can thinking that maybe you can make it home really fast (while she's wailing).

Finally at 2.5 miles, you surrender.  The baby comes out of the stroller, and you walk the .5 mile left of the way home, with her on your hip.  Dog leash and stroller in one hand, and baby bouncing on the other hip.

My 30-minute run became a 60 minute excursion --  20 minutes of running, 20 minutes of soothing, and 20 minutes of walking.

Workout?  Yes.
The one you expected?  No.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

The Difference...

The Difference between Mama pajamas and Daddy pajamas.

Still the most adorable and most loved baby ever.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Big God

I serve a really Big God.  My head knows this beyond a shadow of a doubt.

That being said, why am I repeatedly surprised by His abundant faithfulness?

Last night, I had to drive to a nearby city (by nearby, I mean, over an hour away) to work on some professional development Braille tests.  I need to take 15 of these Braille modules (tests) by December 2015.

There are three parts to each modules including transcribing braille (taking print and creating braille), interlining braille (taking braille and writing the print), and proof-reading (taking braille and identifying the errors in a passage).  All three parts are allowed two or less errors, and must be completed in one hour.

Since I will have to take all of the tests an hour away, I lined up seven for Friday evening to try to knock out about half of them.

I use braille all the time, but I am not tested on braille all the time.  I have been trying to use any free minute this week to review and practice for these modules.

By the middle of the week, I said to Hubby that I really have not had the time to study like I normally would because Tracey Ann gets all of my attention, and that's how it should be.  She is pulling herself up now, and, for safety reasons, she requires constant supervision and attention.  I told Hubby that I hoped, and was praying that God would honor my commitment to motherhood and bless my memory during these tests.

Before I left for the test, Hubby prayed that I would "blow them away with my awesomeness in braille."  Meanwhile I chuckled in my mind, thinking, "Oh, you're sweet, Darling, but really, I'll just be happy to pass."

And yet, I serve a Big God.

Why do I chuckle or scoff when my loving husband raises up a Big Prayer, like that one?  I serve a BIG GOD, and He hears all of the requests of His children and works all things together for good.

I not only passed all seven modules I had planned to take, but I finished most every module in about half the allotted time.  When I was finished, the proctor (a colleague of mine) told me that she has never seen anyone sit down and just peel out seven test modules like I did.  She said that people might get through four or five, but then fatigue sets in and they begin making stupid mistakes.  On the contrast, the more tests I brailled, the less errors I made.  For the first five modules, I had a few errors here and there -- but modules five, six, and seven were my strongest modules with one or less braille errors.

My hubby's exact prayer was answer -- for lack of a better phrase, I blew them away with my awesomeness in braille.  Of course none of it is my awesomeness, but rather God blessing the way I spent my time this week -- trying to study when I could, but devoting myself to the demands of motherhood and accepting that braille had to take a backseat to all of my at-home demands.

Seven modules down, eight to go, and you can bet I will not be so quick to chuckle at my husband's prayers before the next one.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

A Few Hours

What a difference a few hours makes.

In a matter of a few hours, our baby girl moved from greeting me in the morning like this...

To greeting me, when she was supposed to be taking a nap, like this...

What a difference a few hours makes in our world these days.

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