Sunday, February 26, 2017


The old adage is true... the devil does make personal visits to your family on Sunday.

Of course, this does not mean that Bethany has been sleeping like an angel through the night. Quite the opposite actually. But, it was worse last night than it was during the week. She was up around 11, and again at 2, and again at 5, and then woke up for "good" when her sisters did around 7:30.  We were tired.

That is nothing new for Sunday lately, but I find myself sometimes longing for the day I can go to church and look like a rested, functional human being instead of an auto-pilot robot with less than 10 minutes to dress and ready myself.

Wisdom (parents with older children) have let me know I am to cherish these times because they do go way too fast. Certainly, this is true with Sophia, for who I received a "kindergarten registration" packet in the mail about a month ago that made me want to cry. I think back to those times in the hospital, when we first became parents, and she had such a tender, sweet cry. And I remember going home and researching schools when she was only a few months old.  I wanted to be prepared. But I stopped worrying about it because I told myself, "I have plenty of time."  Time sure flew by.

I digress.

So in church this morning, my two beautiful older girls picked out their Christmas dresses to wear today. Heidi spent most of the morning at home and at church trying to "dance" (in her mind, dancing is pirouetting). Sophia spent most of the morning clinging to Emily and wishing she (Emily) didn't have to go back to school. Bethany probably slept in the nursery most of the morning, because she sure wasn't sleeping last night.

We headed to Einstein Bagels on our way home from church. We have been doing bagels on Sunday for a while now but have scaled back because we are trying to make small "sacrifices" to go towards more offering at church. I write "sacrifices" in such a way because I recognize the fact that there are Christians making a true sacrifice to worship God in their country, and going without our weekly bagels is hardly a sacrifice in the true sense of the word. But this morning I had a really good coupon, so to Einstein bagels we went. Heidi's new favorite is cinnamon sugar; Sophia traditionally likes either the chocolate chip or the french toast. I believe they have changed the french toast recipe because it is more yellow in color than it was originally and it kind of freaked her out. Heidi was just really upset that she kept getting sticky fingers and washed her hands about 6 times while she was eating her bagel.

Oma came by for a visit after we got home from church and before the two younger girls went down for a nap (Sophia is now, for the most part, exempt from naps). Heidi was tired and ready for a nap when Oma was still here so I put her down. She knew she was missing out on some of the fun so about 2 minutes later her little pitter-patter came down the hallway and I heard "Mommy...!" from her sweet little voice. I looked up the stairs at her and she held up a stuffed Beanie Baby peacock and said "Mommy, there is a peacock in my bed!" in a tone suggesting its presence was an offense to her.  I told her I would take care of the peacock and I walked her back to her bed. About two minutes later she was out again saying, "my robe is falling off!" She had gone to bed in her Minnie Mouse bathrobe because she wanted to wear Minnie Mouse but all of her other Minnie Mouse apparel was dirty (which typically happens within two days of doing laundry).

Oma left just recently and Heidi is in her bedroom, I can hear her not quite sleeping yet, and Bethany is conked out for the afternoon (probably) in her crib. Sophia is outside jumping (literally) in the mud puddles against the fence and Chris and I are inside "working". Well, Chris is working. I am blogging, and planning to work on another chapter from the book we are writing (don't get too excited - it's a long shot). Mostly I am looking forward to drinking green tea out of my bear mug and eating some cinnamon pull apart.

I love the opportunity for rest that God gives us on Sundays. Were we given a personal visit by the devil? Probably. And it happened last week too when Copper escaped from the house literally at the same time that we were walking out of the door to go to church (and we had already buckled the three girls in the car). But it is such a sweet time to get together with our family, church family, and worship the true and living God who has brought us together. The older I get (wiser? more mature?) the more I find I relish Sundays, and am eager to see the people I worship with together there.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Happy Half Birthday!

Bethany Grace is half way to her first birthday today. 6 months old! And we celebrated by going to the doctor and getting routine vaccinations. As I write this, little princess is sleeping away in her carseat after an exhausting visit. She didn't even get the bagels for lunch that her older sisters and I had (and, the lady in front of us paid, which was so sweet).

Anyway, according to the doctor's weights and measures she continues to be "off the chart" for length, and is as long as an average 9 month old. She is higher up on the curve for weight as well, in the 90s, and has an average head size. Thank goodness, because I think that is what made those deliveries so smooth. The doc was also impressed at how well she was sitting. She can sit for over 10 minutes - especially if she's watching her sisters.

This month has been one of moving and growing. She absolutely is an explorer, much like Heidi, and is always trying to get somewhere. She does not sit in her swing anymore without flexing her little abs and pulling herself up. In the swing I had in the bathroom it was not rocking one time, and she literally pulled herself up into a seated position and rocked it on her own. I can still get her to sleep in a swing but I have to buckled the shoulder straps or she pulls herself to the side and out of it. My little Houdini.

She is also well on her way to crawling. She can get up on her hands and knees and rock, and can push her feet behind her to propel forward. She can also push herself backward; but she has yet to put all of the motions together into crawling. Give it a few more weeks and we'll be there. Now I have to buy a gate for the top of the stairs!!

She eats like a champ and loves her solid foods. So much so that she is flat out refusing the bottle and not eating as well from the breast. She has almost responded sarcastically to being bottle fed, too: it's like she accepts that Sherri is going to try to bottle feed her, so she will hold the bottle in her mouth and suck but will actually let all of the milk come right back out of her mouth (actually refusing to swallow it)! What a stinker. She did the same thing for Chris yesterday when he was home with her. I think her favorite food so far is probably peaches. I usually combine peaches and carrots together and she eats that pretty well. She also loves sweet potatoes. Surprisingly, she doesn't like avocado. Which I think is kind of weird. She did initially but now she will turn her nose up to it.

Her sisters are a source of joy. One of her favorite things to do is sit up with her sisters around her and "play" with them, even if it just means being in the same room and she can watch them. She probably has one of the best, big smiles I have ever seen and is so enthusiastic and happy.

Sleeping is still a work in progress. She is, at this moment, in a pattern of sleeping from 8 to 5 or 6, and waking up one time in the middle (somewhere usually between 1 and 2). It's headed in the right direction. For a while she was staying up for hours in the middle of the night and we had to do some practicing and learning what "night time" means. I think she's got that part figured out.

Loving this sweet happy baby, and I am so grateful to God that he has allowed her to be part of our family. I can't wait to watch her little personality continue to develop.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Zombie-Mother Random Catch-Up Blog

Last Sunday was our last time teaching Sunday School class together. The topic of the class was Christianity and the pro-life position. I  do plan to post some of the class materials on the blog if you are interested, but I found it very valuable to me in my Christian walk and when it comes to addressing issues of abortion head-on. It goes without saying that this is a very emotionally charged topic, and can be difficult to defend, but the value of life is invaluable when we consider that each human being created in God's image.

I now have more time (ha!) for reading books of my preference, that are not specifically related to material for the pro-life class. I put together a book list that I think will get me through June (hopefully not later) and will be preparing another book list for the second half of the year. I so far have finished "Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert" which was an excellent, and very powerful read, which I highly recommend to you. I am looking forward to reading it again. For now, I am reading "The Inklings," which is a biographical book about C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkein, and two other of their contemporaries who I am less familiar with (for now).  There is little that is as exciting as reading. I am not typically a biographical reader, and so I am finding this one challenging; it is written at a higher level too, which I suppose is part of the appeal.

This past week Chris has stopped working at the hospital for CPE. I believe this was a wise decision; selfishly, I am glad for the time that he is able to dedicate more to the girls. I have also been bordering on Zombie-Mom. I believe that the point in my life now is perhaps one of the weakest that I have ever felt.

Which is a good thing for me. Christ is made perfect in my weakness, and I am learning to more fully rely on Christ in a way that I have been able to pretend is not necessary - though I may never say this out loud. But where I am weak and Christ is strong, I have also learned just how much I need my spouse, my partner, the "better half".

Bethany, dear sweet Bethany, decided around 4 months old that sleeping through the night wasn't all it was cracked up to be because she was missing out on eating more. (That's my working theory, anyway). I am currently working on sleep training her, meaning I am coaxing her back to sleep without eating when she wakes up in the middle of the night if she has slept less than 7-8 hours. It works pretty well most of the time, but still leaves me tired.

In addition to B's sleep apathy, Thing 1 (Sophia) and Thing 2 (Heidi) have decided to bear a striking resemblance to Tigger - their bottoms appear to be made out of springs. As soon as they lay down for the night, *bounce* they go, back up, sometimes for multiple hours a night, not going to bed until past 11 p.m. So, we are sleep training the older girls, too. Potty before bed, etc., and if we get up we get lights taken away, etc. It's been a struggle.

Between sleep training 3 girls, I have been exhausted and have relied on the kindness of friends and Chris so so much more than I typically do. I had to take some time this Saturday to go somewhere by myself. Just to be alone. Totally alone for a minute. Once I put Heidi down for a nap and fed Bethany, I let Chris know and he had the girls. It was refreshing, but humbling to have to ask for that time when I am so used to "being strong".

This weekend our church had a Valentine dinner, which was just wonderful. They catered Buca's and it was the first time that I left Bethany for an evening (yes, I have left her for daycare before, but something seems different about that vs. a babysitter for the night). Rachel watched the girls, with Elli over too, and it seemed like a good time was had by all. Chris and I enjoyed our date night with friends from church, and it really was a sweet evening full of laughter and fellowship. And also face-swapping pictures of couples, which was somewhat disturbing. I learned that couples where the husband has facial hair of some sort make for the greatest face swaps.

To change topics, Sophia is really bonding with Emily and has been saying she is her "best friend" and asking when Emily can have a sleepover. We have been trying to explain to Sophia the difference between friends that are the same age and "mentors". So in trying to describe a mentor, we used the word "coach" and now she calls Emily her "coach".  She sat by Emily and Maria in church yesterday, Maria helped her read the Bible, and so for most of the day I heard a lot about Emily and Maria. I think she now plans to extend birthday invites to both of them.

I attempted to get Sophia registered for school this week, speaking of Sophia, and ran into difficulties. I went to the school in our district, which I had called and talked to beforehand because we got paperwork for a different school in the area we previously lived. They said to come in with that paperwork, because it should be the same, and they'd get us registered anyway. When I went in to the school and explained our situation with daycare, the office person did not offer any help or instruction or guidance beyond telling me that I should go to the school in the district where their daycare is to register her. I asked about a morning program and she did not respond to me. To be fair, she was, I'm sure, otherwise occupied and quite busy with kindergarten registration, but this is my first time going through this and a *little* more help would be a good thing. SOOOO I drove to the other elementary school that is by Sherri's house because this is where the bus could pick Sophia up 3 days a week and I would just drive her on Tuesday/Thursday. I was informed by this school that I can't just register at that school and have to fill out a transfer form, which may or may not be approved. Ack. So, for the time being, we wait, and I am not yet sure where Sophia is going (though it's not like I don't have time to figure it out).

She was talking to Chris and said she was kind of nervous to start school, because it is new.  I am nervous, too, though for different reasons! And, what I've learned over the past week is that it is going to be much harder for Heidi when Sophia is in school than it is for me. This makes sense, though, because while I have known life without Sophia (as crazy as it is to comprehend), Heidi has not known life without Sophia. Last week Sophia when on a play date with Anna Grace, and Heidi, Bethany and I hung out at home. When Sophia was walking out of the door, this exchange took place:

Heidi: Where Soophie go? (She says "Sophie" with an "oooo" sound)
Me: She is going to Anna Grace's house.
Heidi: I go to Anna Gwace's house?
Me: No, Heidi. Not today. Just Sophia.
Heidi: Soophie not want to go to Anna Gwace's house.

Heidi is ascribing these desires to Sophia because she doesn't want to be without her! All day she asked me, multiple times, "we go to Anna Gwace's house?" Then, the next day was Wednesday and we had a meeting at church that night. When Chris picked up the girls, he brought Heidi and Bethany home; Sophia stayed there so she could play with Elli and then we were going to bring her home from church that night. I called Chris when he was driving the girls home and all I could hear was Heidi baaaawwwling. She was so upset that 1 - she didn't get to stay and play, and 2 - she was without Sophia. I think she's going to really miss Sophia when she isn't there, and it will be an interesting transition from being the younger playmate to being the older playmate with Bethany.
Girls wearing their princess dresses from Daddy for Valentine's day

Heidi curtsying

Putting lotion on my face

Sophia jumped into Bethany's crib to comfort her

Take the picture? Or save the kid? ...Both.

Note the headband on his back... His "sisters" love him

Book list!

Sophia wasn't sharing

Friday, February 3, 2017

January 2017

January was a fairly uneventful month for us. The end of December 2016 meant we said goodbye to our family in Utah and South Carolina, and we welcomed in 2017. It still seems strange to me that we are nearly two decades away from "Y2K"... it was just such a big deal at the time!

Our big challenge this month was eating vegetarian. A couple of thoughts on it:

1. It isn't hard to eat vegetarian. If you feel like you "couldn't possibly" eat vegetarian you are probably just not thinking about the things that you already eat that are or almost are vegetarian.  There are easy "outs" like pasta and sauce, salad, bread, and there are more challenging options like sofritas, but overall it isn't too challenging. 

2. You need to challenge yourself. Part of the vegetarian challenge did require significant creativity. It's not hard, but it's different. It takes work to prepare dinners differently than I ever have before, completely leaving out the object that is normally the "main entree" of the dinner. But putting thought into it doesn't mean that it's impossible or not worth it. Check Pinterest!

3. Lots of people mock vegetarians. And it was interesting to be on the receiving side of that. I am not going to say that I've never been there ("How can you live without bacon/burgers/chick-fil-a") but it was interesting to be on the receiving end and even hear things like "I'll eat more meat for you" etc. As somebody who was not vegetarian for reasons of strong conviction, I can say that these didn't necessarily bother me.. But how insensitive to somebody who is living out this alternative eating lifestyle out of concern for how God's creatures are treated. 

Interested in trying it yourself and want some meal ideas? I have some! Here are some of the things we tried: meatless chili (so easy, don't even have to brown meat!), spaghetti, spinach salad, sofritas, tofu stir fry (also very easy), black bean burgers (pioneer woman has a great recipe), mexican butternut squash quinoa (pinterest it!), baingan bharta (eat, live, run blog has a great recipe), vegetable soup, sweet potato quinoa bowl (think Chipotle bowls), bean and cheese enchiladas, stuffed peppers, wild rice soup, calzones, broccoli quiche, butternut squash soup... 

I am certainly glad I tried it and stretched my culinary dinner options to include more things.

The girls have spent more time than usual this month at the VerWay's house and have enjoyed keep them busy! Sophia told me Emily is her "best grown-up friend." The other day after she was over there she said (with emphatic hand gestures) "Mommy you HAVE to see the Verway's house now it's SO different. They've just changed it. And now the TV is over HERE and it's SO DIFFERENT!"  Today they went to the Carpenter's house in the morning and Sophia was telling me she hoped Elli would be off of school - those two are thick as thieves.

We've had the Karneses come stay with us this month a few times, as Eric has had to get some testing done at Mayo Clinic and we live 2 hours closer to the clinic. The girls absolutely love Eric and Erica and will ask me if they haven't seen them in a while when they are coming by. Erica and I watched Little Women one of the times - how strange to see Christian Bale in a movie like that! Eric has been growing a very significant beard (that can be braided!) and the girls absolutely fascinated by it.

Bethany also had a "play date" while I had a Mommy get-together with a friend from church. Vincent even held her hand (I won't post pictures of this up, though it was adorable, because I haven't asked his mother - if you are wondering why it isn't there).

The coming year should bring some fun things for our family. I am first looking forward to Andrew and Anna's wedding on May 28th. I can't wait! We have a house reserved with my family and just booked our tickets. 

Sophia will be turning 5 this year. Upcoming next week I am supposed to attend a school registration for her (already. Oh dear). I get nervous just thinking about sending Sophia into a classroom, I can't believe this time is already drawing so close. My sweet, sweet baby will be going to school. Lately Sophia has really been into singing and making up her own songs, and she loves to help with her baby sister. Yesterday I was baking some "lactation cookies" (who knows if they actually help with breast milk but I love having cookies as an afternoon snack at work) and I heard Bethany wake up while I was changing pans in the oven. She stopped whimpering and I figured she had gone back to sleep. When I went into the living room to check on her, Sophia had unbuckled and taken her out of her swing (all by herself!) and was playing with her on the floor. She loves to sit with her in her lap and give her toys - so sweet. Sophia also loves feeding Bethany. It's been a good motivation for Sophia to eat her own lunch/dinner because I will make her finish her own before she feeds Bethany. She had less trouble eating her own dinner when it means she gets to spoon-feed the baby!

My Heidi Boo (my nickname for her, and she actually introduces herself as "Heidi Boo" now which makes my heart happy when I hear it) is going to turn 3 this summer. She and her big sister love to race down the "main stretch" upstairs in our house, the hallway that extends by the living room and dining room and goes all the way back to their bedroom. The two of them will race and run smack into the door at the top of the stairs and then race back. Heidi tells me all of the time that she is "faster than Fuli" (the cheetah on Lion Guard). Heidi is also very into dancing. She loves spinning, going on her head, rolling, putting her arms up and pirouetting.  She loves to play with her big sister, as long as she isn't smothered - still not much of a hugger. Though she is a getting a cold and I can tell she's tired and worn out a litttle because yesterday she said "carry me, Mommy" which I think she has said maybe...never? Sweet girl. 

Little Bethy is going to turn 1. My happy baby. She loves eating - she's done really well with her solids and I think she enjoys just spending time sitting up at the table during meals. She is still waking up in the middle of the night and last night I decided to be firm with her. She went to bed around 8 and woke up at 1. I let her cry in the crib for a bit, she was probably whimpering for 20 minutes or so with me rubbing her back, before I picked her up. I rocked her to sleep and she slept on my chest (because I was exhausted too) until she woke up again at 5 a.m. So, that tells me when she is waking up, she isn't hungry! She's just in a pattern of it now that we need to break. 

Nana and Papa are hoping to visit sometime in the summer between the birthdays of Heidi and Bethany. I can't wait for that either!  I love having a guest room too; for the last several years they have visited and slept on a futon or an air mattress. I am happy we can provide a space for them to sleep that is secluded (not in the middle of the house!) and an actual bed. Dad is retiring in officially less than one year, Jan. 31 of 2018, and then we leave on Feb. 11 next year for a cruise (I am SO excited) that will have lots of family on board. 

Christopher is going active duty again this summer for 4-5 weeks. We aren't positive of the date yet but it should be late summer/early fall. He is also finishing up his second-to-last class for seminary this semester, and after this has only Greek 3 left in the summer before he has his degree. Next up, ordination!  Hard to believe the seminary degree is coming to an end. We are waiting to see what God may be calling us to after he has completed this journey, and where that may take us. There may be more searching involved after life settles down a bit.

As for me, I don't foresee anything too exciting happening! Chris and I are finishing up our Sunday School class on the pro-life position. I do plan to post the lessons on here, 11 in total. We had 13 classes, but one was a guest speaker (Janis!) and the other was a video interview with a former abortionists OB/GYN on After that, it's just spending time trying to mother three lovely ladies in a way that reflects the love and grace of Jesus Christ, hoping above all else to point them towards him (and ever so grateful for his patience, forgiveness, and love of me as I fail over and over again)!