Friday, October 30, 2009

Right on schedule

As I walked in the door of my OB's office last week, I realized I could no longer hide my big belly, announcing to other women in the waiting room why I'm there. So much has changed during these past months.

The size and shape of my body.
My comfort level with being 40 and pregnant.
My acceptance of it all.

The last 35 weeks have lasted forever, and yet they have gone by in a flash.

"It's hard to believe we're almost at the end of our gestation, isn't it?" my midwife asked as she walked in the room. She is expecting her own baby just two weeks after my due date. "It seems like just yesterday you were here on your 40th birthday, starting this whole journey."

She summed up my thoughts perfectly.

For more than 30 weeks, she and I have walked down a common path. I'm sure she has seen dozens of other women in the office each month. But we feel strangely united because our due dates and our stage in life are so close.

We share similar stories each month: A little nauseous. Leg cramps. Feeling good. Still have energy. Headaches. Congested. Aching back. Stretching joints.

Forty weeks.

They are a common denominator for any woman who has ever been pregnant. Rich or poor. Educated or not. Old or young. As long as all goes as planned, this process will last 40 weeks, give or take a few.

Strange as it sounds, it's been making me think about the universe. The solar system. The seasons. We have 24 hours in a day. A year lasts 365 days.

We are studying astronomy this year, and we learned that a year on Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, is only 88 days. A day is nearly as long as a year at 59 Earth days.

On Venus, a day is longer than a year. The planet hustles around the sun in only 225 Earth days. But it takes 243 Earth days to make its rotation through a day and night. And it's the only planet that travels in the opposite direction from all the others, with the sun rising in the west and setting in the east.

How easy it is to take it all for granted.

What if some days were two hours long and others were 48? What if one year lasted 225 days and the next year stretched on for 600?

What if some babies reached full gestation after three months and others took a year?

What if we didn't know what to expect?

Thankfully, that's not the case. God created the universe with order, structure, a schedule and a plan. He thought of every detail, right down to the length of time it should take each planet to revolve around the sun to keep them all in line.

And he perfectly designed each and every child who is born on this planet to grow from a tiny seed to a full-sized baby in 40 weeks.

I only have four more visits to my OB before the big day. They are all scheduled and written on the calendar. It's been an amazing journey.

Thirty-five weeks down. Five to go. They have lasted a wink and forever, all at once.

Just as planned.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

No comment

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a new blog I thought was really cool. The writer was starting to home school her kids for the first time.

"Ahhh, this woman is creative and has a great plan," I thought. "I can really relate to her."

It turns out we had sooooo much in common.

I mean, she had published several books, and I had thought about writing a book.

She has like 2,000 subscribers and I have, well... I have some.

She lives in a house in a place with a beautiful climate and awesome scenery. And I live in a house.

With all the common traits we share, we were destined to become the best of bloggy friends. I started reading her faithfully. I commented on every post. I subscribed. I was devoted to our relationship.

But, alas. As often seems to happen in this big bloggy world, I never heard from her. No visits. No page views. No comments. Nothing.

"I'm sure she's just busy," I told myself. "No big deal."

But then she did it.

She wrote a post asking each of her readers to post a comment to introduce themselves.

"I HAVE BEEN COMMENTING FOR MONTHS!" I thought in my completely mature, non-sixth graderish, not-the-least-bit-hormonal, I-have-an-actual-life way. "If she wanted to know who I am, she could have clicked on my profile a long time ago. No way am I going to respond to her request."

So, I dumped her. We're through. That's it.

No comment.

(I'm sure I really showed her a thing or two.)

Just by chance, there seemed to be a trend going around the blogsphere that week. Everywhere I turned, writers were asking their readers to post a comment with their basic info: Name, city and sometimes even age.

I have done the same thing several times. And I'm sure I've annoyed a few people who were sitting at home, lashing out at me with the same passive-aggressive fervor I unleashed on my bloggy " new best friend" who had no clue I even existed.

But it made me really start thinking about why people leave comments.

The main reason I leave comments is to spread some love. I know. Plain and simple. But if people take the time to visit me, I try to reciprocate. (And I know I don't always do a good job, but I do try!)

For those bloggers I know and like in real life, I leave comments so they don't feel like they are just talking to thin air. If they are taking that time to express themselves, I feel I should take a second just to say, "I'm listening." (Again, no one has time to do this all the time, but I try when I can.)

And, of course, I comment because people write things that stir something up in me... an emotion, a thought or a memory. Sometimes people write about a topic about which I feel very strongly, and I can't resist leaving a comment.

I always think it's interesting to see what generates the most comments. It's usually what I least expect. Shoes seem to be popular, while life and death... well, I think sometimes we let things sink in but don't have the words to comment.

I know that MOST people don't comment. Lots of people have visited my blog on a regular basis, but have never left a comment. Knowing that, I feel good when even one or two people respond with a nice word or reaction to what I've written.

All of this makes me wonder, what does it for you? Why do you comment? Or why DON'T you comment?

And when you comment do you have an expectation that you will get a response? Do you like to hear from that person by e-mail or in the comments section?

I want to be more caring toward the people who are so nice to comment. I know you don't have to, so I don't want to take you for granted.

Oh, and by the way... it's perfectly fine if you just want to say:

"No comment."

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm making a list

In most areas of my life, I prefer the digital. Digital photos. Digital scrapbooks. Electronic communication. I love it all.

But to get me through the day, I can't function without my lists.

I start each morning by unloading my brain in list form of everything I need to do. And I mean everything. If I have to make a few phone calls, I break it down and list every person, place or thing I need to call that day.

If it's my goal to do "some laundry", I write down exactly how many loads I plan to wash, dry, fold and put away.

Why? Well, because of the joy of crossing off each item when I'm done, of course!

I am so glad that I have discovered MANY of my mom friends are like me! We love lists to keep our day on course. And we even write down items that have already been completed just so we can cross them off (or use our pretty highlighters, in some cases).

So, for all of my like-minded friends, you will be happy to know I have FINALLY completed my 2010 everydayMOM planner! I have a bunch in stock right now, which I am selling at a reduced price of $15 (no tax or shipping charges if you are local). Click here for ALL the details on how to order and to see a preview at my online store.

If you haven't used my planner before, put it on your Christmas list!

Each month starts with a two-page layout so you can see your whole month at a glance and write down your big -picture goals.

Then it becomes a weekly format with space each day to list:
  • where you need to be,
  • your priorities for the day,
  • your housecleaning chores,
  • your plan for dinner and
  • your plan for your personal growth (maybe it's reading, Bible study or excercise).

Even my kids have their own planners this year. It is amazing each day to hear them call out, "Has anyone seen my planner?" They get us all through the day with a little more sanity.

When I can't find mine, I'm a mess. I need my lists. They work for me, which is why I'm linking this post to Works For Me Wednesday this week.

What works for you to keep your life organized?

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Monday, October 26, 2009

We need a middle name

So, this is completely weird and out of character for our family.

We usually don't tell anyone the potential names of our unborn children. In fact, we have been known to wait several days after birth to announce the child's name.

With this baby, I have been telling people her name since we found out she was joining our family. If you haven't read the story of the first name, you can click here to catch up.

I think we have pretty much settled on the first name, although we could always pull a surprise switcher-oo at the last minute.

I usually don't want to be swayed by public opinion about a baby's name. But we can't seem to make up our minds about the middle name. So, I created a poll over there in the right sidebar. I would love to hear your opinion.

Please keep in mind that our last name is one syllable and it starts with an "N".

We have narrowed the choices to these:

Jayda Lynn: the name flows, and it would remind us of a great friend. Hey Lynn, didn't we pledge to name our firstborns EmilLynn back in high school?
Jayda Lynnae: adds a little twist to the more traditional name, Lynn.
Jayda Grace: I love names that have a meaningful origin. This one refers to God's grace or an undeserved gift.
Jayda Karis: This is the phonetic spelling of Charis, which is the Greek word for Grace. I like the meaning, which adds an unusual twist to one of the most common middle names.
Jayda Nicole: Just sounds nice.
Jayda Noelle: Noel, of course, refers to Christmas. She will be born Dec. 3.

So, vote early and vote often. I can't wait to hear what you think! You can leave any other opinions in the comments section.

I think you have to become a follower before you can vote. Click on "sign in as a follower" below the poll. You can vote more than once if you are as indecisive as we are.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Earth-shattering updates

I realized over the weekend that I have left a lot of unfinished business on the blog lately. I bring up topics, but then I never provide an update on the outcome.

Well, on Saturday afternoon after several days of battling a cough and runny nose and taking about five naps a day, I got a sudden burst of energy. In fact, I started feeling like the old Emily I have been missing so much!

It was time to complete some unfinished business.

You might remember back in May when I wrote about the devastating news that my hair stylist Shea was no longer allowed to cut my hair at the swanky salon where she now works. You might also recall that I broke down crying right in the middle of the salon over the news that she was hired as a colorist only and would have to hang up her scissors.

I have continued to visit her for my color, but another stylist has been cutting my hair. It's been OK. But considering I drive about 40 minutes and spend a small fortune at this salon every SIX WEEKS to get my hair cut and colored, I haven't been ecstatic. I wouldn't mind to go to all the trouble for Shea, but my new stylist isn't Shea.

Then about a month ago, you might remember I took my daughter to Super Cuts and she walked away with this super cute haircut. I've been wondering ever since if maybe Jenna, my daughter's new stylist, could cut my hair.

But this would require me to go to Super Cuts. You know, S-U-P-E-R C-U-T-S where you don't even need an appointment and where they can cut your hair in about five minutes and where tons of people come and go on their way to Target and Kohl's. You know Super Cuts where they don't offer you a shoulder massage or a cup of tea? THAT Super Cuts?

I have had so many bad haircuts in my life that it took me two weeks to work up my nerve to even call.

Oh, but it was worth it.

Jenna did a great job cutting my hair, plus she did my color AND highlights for about the same price I would have paid for a hair cut ONLY at the other place. I am so excited that I can now get my hair cut for $13, and if I start cutting coupons, I might even be able to get a hair cut for $8. I don't think I've had a hair cut that cheap since I was about 5 years old.

And I don't have to tip the guy who washes my hair, AND the colorist AND the stylist. Heck, I probably paid less for my services at Super Cuts than I paid for my tip at the other place!

I was so excited about socking it to my high-priced salon with my discovery of Jenna that I was suddenly ready to take on the world.

You might remember that I mentioned over the summer I have been on a cleaning rampage to try to locate an extra room in our three bedroom home. I think I did it! Sort of.

I cleaned out the master closet in our bedroom and decided this will be baby's "bedroom" for at least the first few months of her life. We talked about putting her in my daughter's room or putting the crib next to our bed. I'm thinking we all are going to need the ability to close the door.

I filled three large storage containers with all of the clothes that I won't be wearing for a while. See ya, size 4 and 6 pants. I hope we can be reunited someday, my dear old friends.

I got rid of about 15 pairs of shoes. Then came the fun. It was time to empty out the contents of 10 purses and bags, which I haven't used in a while. I found about 42 ballpoint pens, six tubes of lipstick, 100 business cards and at least $2.65!

On the way to drop off all of my old shoes, I decided to make a determination once and for all in the Great Pumpkin Custard Debate that has been raging in my head. You might remember that I've been having a little issue with pumpkin lately.

Well, Andy's Frozen Custard has been advertising it's pumpkin pie concrete. It's a big cup of custard with a full slice of pumpkin pie mixed in.

I have been avoiding the taunting billboard and the e-mail advertisement from Andy's and instead have made several trips to Culver's for their pumpkin shake. I'm thinking the creamy shake has to be lower in calories than a solid cup of custard. Right?

Finally, after not eating much more than chicken noodle soup the past few days, I was hungry. It was time to give Andy's a try.

You will be happy to know that after much deliberation and a careful cost analysis, I have determined that the Culver's pumpkin shake is more flavorful and a better deal than the Andy's concrete. However, the people who work at Andy's are extremely nice and helpful, so please ignore this recommendation if you were thinking of going to Andy's.

All the time I spent rummaging through old shoes and eating pumpkin-flavored custard got me thinking about one thing: the gift card to DSW Shoes I have been carrying around since my 40th birthday.

I have been saving that gift card for a weekend just like this one.

I'm feeling ginormous. I only have a few clothes that fit. And I had a significant void in my black shoe selection. I had no black shoes for occasions that fell between my black Skechers and my long high-heeled boots. And that had been creating a serious problem.

But the gift card had been given to me by my highly-fashionable, shoe-loving friends Michele and Debbie for my 40th birthday. So, I was feeling a lot of pressure to use it wisely.

I knew what I wanted. Black suede. Something with a boot-like look, but without the boot. And a heel that is dressy without endangering my life, now that I'm a little off-balance.

And I found it. I have been searching the Internet for a picture, but I can't seem to find one. We'll just call it the Shoot, since it's a shoe that looks like a boot with your pants covering the top. Or we could call it the Bhoe. Whatever works for you.

I also fell in love with this more casual shoe, but I wasn't willing to spend $60, even if it was with a gift card.

So, I went to Kohl's and found this similar, but not-as-cute model on sale for $22.

And by the time I was done with all of that, my runny nose had returned, and it was time to go back into hiding, away from all of the germs lurking about our city.

And that my friends, should answer all of the burning questions that needed to be resolved for a while. I'm sure you'll sleep better tonight. I know I will.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Dear Immune System, I miss you.

I've never been a typical mom when it comes to germ concerns.

I always have to ask someone else if I can use her little bottle of anti-bacterial soap when it comes time to eat lunch at the zoo. I never remember to bring my anti-bacterial wipes to the park.

My kids might play outside all morning and I completely forget to tell them to wash hands before lunch.

I know this is sending chills down the spines of some of my friends, who are self-proclaimed germaphobes.

I have always believed that the more my kids are exposed to germs, the more their bodies will develop their immune systems, and they will be better able to fight off illness as they get older. Isn't that how God made us?

But I have to admit that all the news about the flu virus going around is really FREAKING ME OUT!

Every news report I read makes it clear that those in the top risk of serious complications from the flu include pregnant women. Women like me.

All of my years of eating with dirty hands aren't helping me now. My immune system is weaker than normal. And there's really nothing I can do about it.

I have been fighting a nasty cough all week and spent the entire day yesterday lying on the couch, drinking fluids and taking naps. My poor husband was trying to work from home, but ended up running up and down the stairs to help with the kids. I'm feeling a bit better today... like I can actually sit up and form coherent thoughts.

Through all of this, I've been thinking about how much I take for granted my immune system. I know so many people right now with seriously-compromised immunity due to medical issues and unusual diseases. I can't imagine how they feel not knowing if their immune systems will ever be restored.

It is making me feel helpless. And with all of the reports of school closures in our area due to the widespread flu, I am taking extra precautions.

Now, my little bottle of anti-bacterial soap is attached to the front of my purse, ready for action anytime we're out and about. And I'm even thinking twice about going out if it's not absolutely necessary.

How about you? How are you feeling about all of the reports of the flu lately? Are you taking extra precautions or living life as normal? Are you worried about getting sick or do you think the news reports are overblown?

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sending some bloggy love... halloween style

I just have to respond to A Musing Mom's latest post with this photo:

My daughter's preschool teacher is amazing. She comes up with the most creative crafts my daughter brings home three days a week.

These crafts are so wonderful that we can't possibly throw any of them away. Oh, no. We need to keep them all! We need to display them in our home. We need to hang them in prominent locations. And if one mysteriously disappears, well... it doesn't go unnoticed!

This one tops my list.... especially since I love spiders almost as much as A Musing Mom does.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

The meal in my back pocket

I seem to be surrounded right now by people who are either pregnant or have newborn babies. Several friends also have had surgery or serious illness.

So, it seems like every few weeks a request goes out looking for people to bring meals to one of these families.

A few years ago, I couldn't wait to take someone a meal. I loved to cook. And I felt like it was a really easy way to help someone in need.

But lately, I've developed a weird meal-bringing phobia.

What if they don't like what I bring? What if it doesn't turn out right? What if I can't think of anything to cook?

Well, in the past few months, I decided it was time to conquer my fear of making meals for other people. I mean, this silliness was really standing in my way of helping others. It also was keeping me from inviting people over for dinner. I had even greater anxiety about eating a meal I made in front of friends who wouldn't be able to hide their disdain of my cooking.

So, I came up with my standard-issue meal. This is the meal in my back pocket that I turn to every time I need to make dinner for someone.

It's easy.
It's all-American.
And I don't have to think about it.
I always know exactly what I'm going to cook.

But before I give you all the details, I was wondering: Do you have a standard meal you turn to every time you need to cook for another family? Do you have a favorite meal that someone has made for you?

Do you love the chance to make dinner for friends or does it cause you to break out in a cold sweat and chills?


Here's my super easy Meal in My Back Pocket, with the easiest variation and then a just plain easy version.


Easiest: Pulled Pork sandwiches
I usually have my husband cook the pork in his fancy Orion convection cooker. It takes about four hours, so this works if we can use it on a weekend. Serve with a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce and buns. Everyone raves about my husband's pulled pork, and it makes my life much easier to let him cook the main dish.

If he's not available, I put a pork loin in the crock pot and add a bottle of BBQ sauce. Cook all day on low. Shred the meat. Serve with buns.

Still easy: Italian Beef
I linked to one of many similar recipes. I usually use Chuck Eye Chuck Roast for my meat. This always tastes best to me. Cook all day in the crock pot. Shred the meat. Serve with buns.


Easiest: Emily's Famous Coleslaw (OK, soon-to-be famous!)
Bag of pre-cut cole slaw mix from the produce section
Honey-roasted sunflower seeds
Raisins or dried cranberries
Jar of cole slaw dressing
Mix in whatever proportion looks good to you!

Not too hard: Broccoli Cauliflower Salad
I always get rave reviews on this salad. I make a few changes from the linked recipe.
I usually use one head of broccoli and one-half head of cauliflower. I chop them to smithereens using The Pampered Chef "Chopper".
I don't use the eggs, onions or vinegar.
I throw in extra bacon and cheese because what's a salad without bacon and cheese?


Easy: Creamy Corn Casserole
This is one of my favorite comfort foods!

Even easier: Chips and Dip


Easiest: Cherry Dump Dessert
I make this with two cans of cherry pie filling, no pineapple, no coconut and no nuts.

Still pretty easy: The Great Pumpkin Dessert
I just made this dessert for the first time and it was good, especially for someone who can't get enough pumpkin lately! It's a lot like the cherry dump dessert, but made with pumpkin.

The next time I make it, I'm going to try it with 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, instead of 4. I thought it was a little too spicy.


So, if you are pregnant, about to have surgery or coming to our house for dinner, now you know what I will be serving. Enjoy!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

A view from the top

This picture really doesn't make much sense, even to me right now. I'm holding the camera right at my nose, looking down to show the view of my feet. Except you can't see my feet.

I have officially exploded. And it literally happened in one week.

I'm not kidding.

Last week, when I went to church, people were still saying things like, "Wow! You are really small. What does your doctor say?"

Then I would whip out my tape measure and show them my tummy measured exactly 31 centimeters as it was supposed to at 31 weeks. (Just kidding about the tape measure.)

This past week at church, someone said, "Wow! You really puffed out all at once!" She said this without making any attempt to disguise her complete shock at how large I suddenly am.

I know the feeling.

Did you notice all of those stains on my shirt in the photo? I don't remember spilling that much food before pregnancy. But now, I have a constant dribble mark down my shirt, showing everything I've had to eat or drink that day.

We have seven weeks left until we get to meet this sweet little girl baby. I'm so excited to see her!

But I'm afraid to think how much I am going to grow in that time.

I'm also a little worried about everything we have left to do.

Since my husband injured his back, all of those projects that we had been procrastinating about are now even more on hold.

We still have to buy a crib, put it together and rearrange some furniture to make room for it. I'm thinking we are going to put the crib in our room at first and then try to figure out some type of arrangement for the girls to room together.

Our daughter's room is the smallest in the house. I think it's only 10x10. I have been searching for a loft bunk bed for her so we could put the crib underneath.

We need to get some type of small dresser to store the clothes and diapers. And, oh yeah. We need to get some clothes and diapers. I'm so excited though because I started giving my daughter's clothes to my niece around the 12-month size. My sister saved all of those clothes for four years! So, I will have plenty of clothes once we get through the baby-baby stage.

The other priority is an infant carrier and car seat. I need to either get one from someone who offered to loan or give me one or we need to buy one.

I should probably be more stressed about all of this, but I know we can pull everything together very quickly. I do keep reminding myself that our other daughter was a scheduled C-section, too, and I ended up having her even earlier at 36 weeks. So, these seven weeks could turn out to be six, or five or four.

I also was brought back to reality this week by a friend who told me about a 19-year-old, who is mother to a newborn girl. The father is out of the picture. And the young mother's parents have both died. One had cancer, and the other died of a heart attack.

My friend's sister has given this young girl and baby a home. But she is in need of everything for her baby. It made me realize just how much I really have and how much we often think we need, but we really don't.

It's been amazing this week to see people come out of the woodwork with donations for this young mom. It definitely helped me put my life in perspective and stop thinking about myself so much.

OK. Not completely. I'm just trying to make a plan to get everything done, rather than worrying so much about what is going to happen.

And I feel so blessed that I have such a wonderful family to help me with everything... especially my shoes. Since I can't really see them.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Big families

I grew up in a family with four children, so that always seemed like the perfect family size to me. I loved all of the noise in our house. And, as the youngest, I remember how lonely I felt when my siblings all went to college and left me behind!

Our family always ate dinner together. And most days we even ate breakfast together before we all took off, walking to school.

Now that I'm pregnant with my fourth, I'm often surprised by the reaction people show me. I still think four children is a fairly common family size. But people often react with surprise, awe, or dismay when they find out we are expecting our fourth.

They say something along the lines of, "Wow! You are a lot braver than I am!"

I have at least five friends in my life who each have five children, and they tell me they are pretty much considered off the charts. I mean, once you pass four children, you really have to think about the logistics of providing beds, clothing and carseats for that many kids. Even the average minivan won't seat seven people.

For those who have six or more children, the reaction is that they are venturing into the land of circus act. (This isn't MY opinion, but what I hear.)

And anything more than that is pretty much grounds for a TV reality show, a traveling musical act or a roving band of minstrels.

Personally, I have always been jealous of people with uber-large families. One of my first friends in grade school was the third child in her family. As the years passed, her family continued to grow until they had eight children.

I loved going to their house. The lived in a two-bedroom house. Their industrious father had converted the garage into a family room. He had created two extra large bedrooms in the attic, complete with a closet that allowed kids to crawl from the girls' bedroom on one side to the boys' bedroom on the other.

The physical environment of their house was definitely no where near perfect. But I always felt so warm and cozy to be surrounded by so many young people laughing, playing and running around.

In high school, I attached myself to my friend, Lynn, who is the youngest of nine children. Most of her siblings had moved out of their 100-year-old home, but people always seemed to be coming and going. In fact, so many people seemed to come and go that sometimes I could walk in the front door and hang out for a while before anyone even noticed I was there. I always loved that feeling.

A few weeks ago, we got to see a family of 12 children, who travel around the country performing blue grass. Each of the children could play one or more musical instruments, ranging from guitar to banjo to fiddle to bass. And, of course, everyone in the family could sing.

How does that happen? These parents believed they were "called" by God to have as many children as he wanted to give them. Was their reward that all of them would be healthy and musically talented?

I have to admit that I have never watched either of the TV shows of the two most famous large families in America today. Since we canceled our cable subscription, we no longer get that channel.

But I think I will have to start watching them this winter on the Internet. I know the Duggars get a lot of criticism for having so many children. But not from me.

I will probably look on with envy, wishing I could come over for dinner.

How about you? Do you have a perfect family size in your mind? Do you envy people with larger families or do you think they must be crazy?

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Monday, October 12, 2009


I've been having some squash issues lately.

It started with the pumpkin. I must have pumpkin pie. All the time. I think I have baked and devoured four pumpkin pies in the last two weeks.

I do have help. Everyone in my family seems to love pumpkin pie. And really? I think it should count as a vegetable. Why not? It's pretty much become a side dish around here.

Then over the weekend, my friend, A Musing Mom, bragged... I mean, mentioned on Facebook that she was making homemade butternut squash soup.

I don't think I had ever even tasted butternut squash soup before in my life. I know. I'm sheltered. I did have some type of squash soup at the Wolfgang Puck's restaurant in the airport one time, but I'm not sure if it was butternut.

My craving for squash-related foods intensified. You see, if I so much as hear a food-related word it could suddenly and without warning spark a strange craving that I never even imagined was lurking deep within me.

Can I just say again, "Please, please... do NOT mention the words K-r-i-s-p-y K-r-e-m-e". Don't say them! All of those restaurants have closed and it is not possible for me to fulfill that craving. Don't torture me! I won't be able to sleep.

Anyway. Back to the squash.

So, I went out yesterday and bought all of the ingredients for Butternut Squash Soup. It was a LOT more work than I had imagined to cut open the squash and cut it into cubes. When I got to the part about pureeing the squash in the blender, I almost turned back.

But it was delicious. I think they should re-name it "Cream Cheese Soup".

Oh, and I bought a spaghetti squash just in case. When I was growing up, I loved spaghetti squash. I know. It's a strange thing for a teen-age girl to love, but I was weird that way. I can't wait to bake it.

Who knows? It could even happen in the middle of the night. Stranger food-related occurrences have taken place around here at 3 a.m.

So, before I give you the recipe for A Musing Mom's Butternut Squash Soup (straight from, please tell me two things:

1. Squash, yes or no? I mean, you either love it or you hate it, right? Do you have a favorite squash? And a favorite way to eat it?

2. What is your favorite soup? I'm on a real soup-making kick right now and I would love some new ideas.

Butternut Squash Soup

  • 6 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 4 tablespoons margarine
  • 6 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
  1. In a large saucepan, saute onions in margarine until tender. Add squash, water, bouillon, marjoram, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to boil; cook 20 minutes, or until squash is tender.
  2. Puree squash and cream cheese in a blender or food processor in batches until smooth. Return to saucepan, and heat through. Do not allow to boil.

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We have been so sad this weekend, thinking about our friends who had to say good-bye to their sister-in-law. She defeated a long battle with cancer and is now rejoicing in heaven.

But for those left behind, it's so hard to understand. Why would a mom have to leave her husband and children, who are only 10 and 6 years old?

We live in a fallen world full of sickness, disease, crime, disaster and death. Bad things happen. But we do have hope. We have hope that there is more than this. We have the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

I don't really know what to say today, but I keep thinking of the words to this song by Mercy Me.

You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I'm still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbye
And in Christ, there is no end
So I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow

I've never been more homesick than now

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

In a relationship with?

I remember back in grade school when kids wanted someone to be their "boyfriend" or "girlfriend", we had a very specific set of rules that must be followed.

First, write a note asking the person to "go with you".

Second, ask your best friend to deliver the note.

Third, wait patiently for answer to be returned on same piece of paper. Yes or no?

Once this relationship had been established, it meant that you would occasionally talk to that person at school. You also would work extra hard to catch that person in a recess game of "girls catch the boys" or vice versa.

By about fifth grade, one might even make a prank call to the other's house. No caller ID then, so prank calling was not only possible, but one of the most enjoyable activities during a playdate with friends.

When the relationship was over, another note was delivered with the message: "I quit you."

As we moved on to middle school and then high school, the terminology changed. We also started speaking in person to the object of one's affection. We started saying that people were "going out" or "dating" and later that they "broke up".

If it wasn't humiliating enough to receive the "I quit you" note or the phone call to deliver the news of a break-up, I'm not sure how today's teens can handle the public announcement of their relational status online.

I have some of the most awesome teens in my life. But I was intrigued... um... surprised... um... maybe just feeling really old... this week to see that a couple of them had updated their Facebook status to say they are now "in a relationship with _____". Eek! Of course, Facebook makes the announcement for the world to see once they have updated their profile.

I'm too scared to ask them how this whole thing works. (And I know that reading my blog is WAY too old-fashioned for them.) But I'm so curious.

Are they immediately "in a relationship with" someone after the first date? Or do they send each other flair for a while? Maybe they say things like, "Oh, she and I just comment on each other's status. It's not serious."

What happens when they are no longer "in relationship with"? Do they immediately change their profile to make it clear to all of their friends? Will they defriend their ex- on Facebook right away. Or do they hang on to lurk?

Oh my. And the really scary part is that this whole world will have changed even more by the time my kids are old enough to be "in a relationship with" someone. Hand-written notes are sounding so appealing to me right now.

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Friday, October 9, 2009


For the past few days, when I wake up in the morning or the middle of the night, one person immediately comes to mind.

I've only met her once. It was brief. Really just a "hello" in passing. And yet I've been thinking about her constantly.

She's the sister-in-law of a friend. She has been battling cancer for years. And this week the doctor is sending her home from the hospital without much hope.

Why her?

She lives just a few streets away from me. Her kids are about the same age as mine. She just celebrated her 40th birthday. Her husband loves her. Her family loves her. It seems so unfair.

I get it. I get that if her life does end sooner than she had planned, she will be heading to a perfect home. She will live for the first time in years without pain and suffering. No more doctors. No fear. That assurance has to make it easier for those left here. But it doesn't take away the pain.

And then I've been thinking about my own life.

Why me?

I get so tempted to complain about my aching back. I long for a good night of sleep.

I wish for the days I could go on coffee dates and run errands instead of doing home school with my kids. I get frustrated when they see letters and numbers in reverse, and I can't seem to help. I get tempted to raise my voice when chaos ensues in our confined space that is home and school.


I wake up to a human being in my stomach kicking her legs and thrusting her tiny bottom from side to side. I lay there watching her move around, amazed at this miracle. Amazed that this would happen to me one last time.

I get to spend my days with my boys and my daughter. I get to be the one to help them visualize what it means to multiply. I get to listen to their reading skills improve. I get to learn along with them about the majesty of our solar system. I get to just. be. with. them.

I'm doing my best to enjoy these moments. I know how fast they will fly by.

The aching back. The sleepless nights. The dirty diapers. The temper tantrums. They all seem like they will last forever.

I now know they won't.

So fast they turn to sibling rivalry and bins of LEGO. Spilled milk and riding bikes. Midnight fevers and jumping in leaves.

It's tempting to count down days. To wish away time. To want something else.

To wish away time until what? There is no more?

My heart aches for someone I barely know. How I pray that God will give her more days.

And how I pray that I will not waste mine.

Psalm 39

4 "Show me, O LORD, my life's end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.

5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath.

6 Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:
He bustles about, but only in vain;
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.

7 "But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An update on the back

As I was driving my husband home from the emergency room on Monday, we were discussing the doctor's instructions for his injured back.

"She said I should lie down as much as possible and avoid lifting," he explained.

But wait a minute! That's my job!

"Uh-oh." We both had a good laugh.

Now I waddle. And he limps. I get his medicine and he gets my vitamins. He brings me glasses of water, and I bring him the heating pad. It's perfect training for old age.

We're a funny pair. A perfect match. Until, of course, someone drops something. And then we have to decide who is going to bend down to pick it up.

"We don't really bend very well," I tried to explain to the kids.

He is way worse than I am right now. He can barely walk and sitting for long stretches causes him some serious pain. I just need frequent breaks. And I have to avoid too much activity.

I keep having this bad feeling that one of us will drop something really heavy. Hopefully, it won't land on someone's foot.

If he falls down, there's no way he's going to be able to get up. And not a chance I can lift him.

It makes us laugh to sit around and talk about these possibilities. Now, if only we had a porch swing. We could watch the cars drive by.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I think I need a Bat phone

I have a rule that I don't answer the phone while we are doing home school. Unless, of course, I check the caller ID and see that it's my husband or someone I need to talk to right away.

I get a lot of calls from people looking for a toy. Or needing a toy lady to do an event. Or they want to sell toys. And I do want to talk to all of those people. But I know their world won't collapse if I wait until early afternoon to call them. Otherwise, my kids will be constantly interrupted, and it will take us all day to finish school.

Well, Monday morning the phone kept ringing and ringing. It was starting to get a little bit humorous that it was ringing so often. I checked the caller ID each time. Telemarketer. Customer. Out of state number. Telemarketer.

Then my cell phone started ringing. Again, strange names and numbers I didn't recognize. "OK. I'll call them back after lunch" I thought.

I DO check my e-mail while we are doing home school because I often have little 5-minute windows when both boys are busy.

My husband sent me a message. "My phone doesn't work. Chris is going to call you."

That's weird. I wondered why my husband's phone didn't work. And why couldn't he just borrow his co-worker's phone? Why was Chris going to call me?

I e-mailed him back to say that the phone was ringing off the hook, but no calls from Chris.

He e-mailed me. "Just call Chris."

I don't usually have any reason to call my husband's co-worker, but just by chance, I had sent him an e-mail over the weekend about a kid's marathon that I thought his son might want to try. So, I thought, "Huh? He must have a question about that e-mail."

At this point, my cell phone was beeping every few minutes to tell me the battery was almost dead. Normally, I would have turned it off and plugged it in to recharge it. But we had to run out for a couple of minutes to get my daughter from preschool, so I decided to check my messages even though the battery warning was flashing red.

It was Chris. He said to call him right away. Now we were in the van on the way to preschool and I was afraid my battery would die before I could return the call.

He told me my husband was getting out of his car in the parking lot at work when he heard two loud pops in his back. He couldn't move and almost passed out. He couldn't even walk from the car to the building.

Chris took him to the Emergency Room and that's where he had been all morning. (It was now 11:30 a.m.)

I gathered up all three kids and headed to the hospital, which is about an hour north of us.
My husband is OK. He's in a ton of pain and can't move around very well.

I'm so thankful I checked my voice mail at 11 a.m. instead of waiting until the afternoon. I'm even more thankful I didn't assume the battery was already too dead to call the voice mail and just plug in the phone for a few hours.

I also tried to tell my husband that maybe he could have included an extra sentence in his e-mail to me. Something like: "I'm in the ER. Just call Chris." That would have got my attention.

And for future reference. I know it sounds odd, but in case of emergency, please e-mail me if I don't answer the phone.

I need some sort of top-secret spy phone or a special ring tone to tell me I need to pick up the phone right away. In the meantime, I need to come up with a better plan. I really have to be careful about answering too many phone calls in the middle of our school day. But I definitely wouldn't want something like that to happen again.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Fashion Friday... or Monday, whatever

Warning: Trivial post about shopping is ahead.

For the past seven months, I've been sinking into withdrawal because I haven't stepped foot in my favorite clothing store, New York & Company, since I got pregnant. My body has been growing at a rate of about .75 pounds per week the past 30 weeks, so I've faced the fact I need to focus any clothing purchases on items that include a hidden panel or roomy stomach area.

Thank goodness for the maternity section at Old Navy. It's the only thing that makes me feel halfway stylish these days.

With less than nine weeks left, I have six long-sleeved maternity shirts, two pairs of jeans and one velour track suit that will have to suffice until D-day.

Instead of getting all crazy that I have to wear the same outfits repeatedly for the next two months, I've been trying to focus on how I can still feel put together, even when I'm wearing a flouncy top.

The good news is that both my shoe size and necklace size have remained the same all year. I don't feel dressed without the right shoes and a necklace. And right now, I need all the help I can get to draw attention away from my midsection.

I realize I still COULD sneak into New York & Company and just browse the jewelry section. But I've restricted myself from buying anything for myself this month.

You see, we have this slight problem that we don't own one single baby-related item in this house. Last summer, I finally conceded we wouldn't be having any more children and we gave away absolutely everything. We don't have a onesie, a diaper or a baby wipe, not to mention a crib, bouncy seat or car seat. (Oh, wait! We DO have a stroller and a dresser with a changing table on the top, so I guess we have two baby-related items!)

Side note... to my sweet friends, this is NOT a plea for gifts! However, if you DO happen to have any hand-me-downs, I am accepting donations. ;]

Anyway, what I was trying to say is that I'm trying not to buy myself ANYTHING so we can save our money for all of the baby stuff we need to buy.

But I thought it might be fun to go shopping for a few accessories here at the blog. It's free. We can do this together. And it will be fun.

Today, I'm focusing on necklaces. There's nothing I love more than a cheap piece of costume jewelry to make an outfit complete.

Here are a few of my favorites from New York & Company, if I WERE to actually go in the store.

I love the look of the long necklace, and I haven't really ventured down that path just yet. I know. Don't die of shock. I'm not sure where I've been! I just haven't found a long necklace that works for me yet.

Here's another one that I would love to see on. I can't quite picture how you would wear this one, but I bet it would be cute.

Now, let's head over to Kohl's for one of their incredible sales where they mark up everything 100 percent and then tell you it's 40 percent off. I love their mind games... and their cheap jewelry.

Here's another option for the long strand of beads.

Or how about this one for the multi-strand look?

Now, let's get to my favorite style...

The Y pendant...

Or just the pendant...

How cute is this?

And this? I love this one!

Well, unfortunately, that concludes our shopping trip for today. I hope you had fun! I know I did.

So, tell me. What is the one accessory that makes your outfit complete? Necklace? Purse? Shoes? Earrings? I know it sounds crazy, but I really DO want to know!

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Friday, October 2, 2009

I know what you're trying to do, and you're not going to fool me!

Despite the fact I woke up at 5 a.m. this morning, I still found myself running around like a crazy woman at 9:15, shouting, "Has ANYONE seen my Hannah Montana wig?!?"

You see it was Crazy Hair Day at our home school co-op. And I had spent so much time blow-drying, applying green hair coloring and plastering hair paste to the heads of my children, that I could barely get our lunches packed, not to mention find my blonde wig.

I know home school was supposed to simplify our lives. But I'm not sure. We now have time for other things. Like field trips and mid-week karate and gymnastics and Awana, for example. And all of these seem to require a different costume, a different uniform or a different clothing style than we are used to.

I mean, the kids used to wear uniforms. As long as we could find a clean pair of khaki pants and a navy blue shirt, we were good to go. And I stocked up sufficiently, to make sure we could go more than a week before I absolutely had to do laundry.

But now? Well, let me just mention Awana, the awesome Christian program that focuses on Bible memorization and fun games each week.

We love Awana. Last night was Cubs-White Sox night. Even though with our Southern Illinois roots we are Cardinals fans, I found three Cubs shirts on clearance so the kids could get their Awana points for participating in the theme night.

At least I was pretty sure it was Cubs-Sox night. I know last week was Twins night, where they all had to bring a friend and dress like twins. But maybe it's green night or pajama night or zoo animal night? Oh, I can't remember.

Then there's pre-school. Is it still "S" day or has the letter of the day switched to "P" by now? I can't find the latest memo, so my daughter is taking a Snake, and she can just tell the teacher it's a Python, or a Rattler or a Garden snake if we are off by a few letters. Heck, it could be a six-foot Worm, if necessary.

Then there's co-op, which we absolutely love, as well.

I remembered to bring a gift for my poor "secret sister" who will probably get short-changed in the gift-giving with brain-cell-lacking prego woman trying to make her feel special. Whew! I was pretty proud of myself for remembering that one!

And I finally found my wig. It was tucked behind the rocking chair in my room -- Hannah's once smooth and silky blonde hair now a tangled mess. All the better for Crazy Hair Day.

Or is it?

It would really be embarrassing to come with crazy hair if it's not. Maybe this week is "Dress As Your Favorite Historical Character Week" and NEXT week is Crazy Hair Day. Or maybe last week was Crazy Hair Day, and that's why so many people were telling me how good I looked.

As I drove the kids to co-op with only minutes to spare, I realized what is going on.

You see, in all of my effort to make myself blonde and my kids green and to find an object that begins with "S", right on the heels of dressing them all in support of a sports team I don't even like, I forgot to pack their notebooks for class, the oil pastels we were supposed to return to the art teacher and the liability form that I am now four weeks late to return.

This is all a universal plot to confuse my half-conscious collection of dwindling brain cells. It's one huge conspiracy to make me forget all of the really important stuff I'm supposed to do because I'm so busy trying to remember what kind of special outfits we need to wear.

But I have a plan. I will not be thwarted. Oh, no.

I might be tired. I might be iron-deficient. And I might be losing brain power.

But I won't be lulled into forgetting to pay the bills another month. They can turn off my cell phone. They can threaten me with bill collectors. But I am going to regain some of my organization skills.

Oh, yes. I'm going to take care of all of these little things I have to remember so they don't bog me down when it comes time for the important stuff. Like jackets. Our family no longer has to show up for events dressed in athletic shorts and T-shirts when it's suddenly 45 degrees. This mama is going to get her game on.

I'm packing an object starting with every letter of the alphabet in the preschooler's backpack. Once she uses a letter, we will just remove that object. I will have to get her one of those backpacks on wheels, but that's OK.

Oh, and the colored clothing for Awana? No problem. I will stash a shirt in every color in the back of the minivan and we will just wait outside until we see other kids going in to make sure we are wearing the correct color. I'll throw in a couple of tie-dyes, a pair of PJs and an animal mask, just to be safe.

Some people keep emergency supplies in their trunk. We will have a costume kit full of wigs, hats and capes that we can use when I can't remember if it's a special day at co-op.

I am going to be ON TOP of things! You just wait. Here we come. Fully clothed for the weather. Hair crazy when it's supposed to be, and normal when it's not.

But in the meantime, if you happen to see me wandering around aimlessly in a pair of PJs, wearing a crazed Hannah Montana wig and carrying a stuffed snake, just nevermind. I'm working on it.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Single digits

Nine more weeks.

Yeah, baby!

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