Photos courtesy of Ryan Prouty

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Alayna!

Today is my baby's birthday! Hard to believe she is FIVE years old already...where does the time go?? It truly has seemed like a blink of an eye since we were on our way to the hospital for her birth. I remember breaking down in tears of excitement and barely being able to explain through them to Paul that I was so glad the wait was over and that "We were going to finally find out!" Most of you probably know that we knew we were having boys with our first three children. We wanted to know and found out around the middle of each pregnancy. But, this one was different. We pondered not finding out for the last one and having that excitement at the birth. We considered finding out ourselves and not telling anyone else. That one did not go over well with certain family members (you know who you are!), so we were left with 2 choices: find out, then lie and say we didn't find out (I would be lying if I said I didn't STRONGLY consider that one!), OR, not find out at all. We chose the latter. On my last day at work, a couple of the doctors were in my office and asked if I knew what I was having. This was a VIVID conversation in my memory:
Me: "No."
Dr. Miller: "You have three boys, right?"
Me: "Yes." (thinking, "What are you trying to imply??")
Dr. Miller: "I have three brothers."
Dr. Fellow whose name I have apparently blocked out: "I have four!"
Me: "Get out of my office!! You give me no hope!"
I pondered this conversation the rest of the day! I really didn't dare hope for a girl because I didn't want to spend one second of my baby boy's life disappointed he wasn't a girl. I truly had myself ready to hear, "Its a boy!" I was reconciled to it and waiting expectantly to hear it. I BRIEFLY entertained the thoughts of what my reaction might be if it was a girl, I thought maybe I would just scream out loud, then pushed those thoughts away. So, when we were in the car to go to the hospital, the whole emotion of finding out after such a long wait just overwhelmed me! We were so excited! We got to the hospital, my water was broken and we started walking. The previous time I was induced, nothing happened for four hours, so I was pleasantly surprised when I started contracting right away. They sent in the doctor to do the epidural before noon (it took forever and never worked well except in my left toes which felt like 400 pound sausages), and we were ready to go just after 1pm. When the head came out (with a hand up by the face), the baby started crying right away and sucked in a bunch of amniotic fluid, so they left him/her half in and half out while they tried to get most of that back out. Meanwhile, I am not concerned with the breathing problems, I am thinking, "Get it out, what is it??" The doctor slid the baby out the rest of the way, turning the bottom toward Paul and asked him, "What have you got Dad?" Paul looked at me and said very quietly, "You got your girl." I didn't believe him. I sat up and had to see for myself. When I could see her, I just cried and couldn't make a sound. Gabriel was in the room (he surprised me by wanting to be in there because he was excited to see the baby right away, he stayed where he couldn't see anything he shouldn't and ran the video camera), and he got the honor of going out to the waiting room where we had amassed grammies and aunties and announced, "Its a girl!" I could hear the screaming from down the hall!!

Five quick years have passed and we have had so much fun! Alayna, you are a precious gift from God. You are so much fun! You love to dress up in princess costumes, wear high heels, carry a purse, put on make-up, play with your brother's trucks and cars, kill monsters and bad guys with a light saber, and wrestle with your brothers. You talk non stop and you have been affectionately nicknamed, "The Weedeater". You melt my heart when you pray and when you tell me you love me. I have loved having you to myself on Tuesdays and Thursdays when brothers are at school. I love that we can do our girly things together and that I had the privilege to teach you to read and tie your shoes. I thank God for every moment we have together. I am so sorry you are sick today on your birthday and have to miss your special day at preschool. I look at you curled up on the couch and I am overwhelmed at God's goodness and faithfulness to our family. You are a light in my day baby girl!
So many people comment that Alayna looks like me and I don't see it at all! So here are pictures of Alayna, JoDee and I all at the same age. Now who do you think she looks like??

Monday, May 25, 2009

Fun pictures and another update...can you say roadtrip???

Yes folks, school is almost out and we have finally made our plans and purchased our tickets to come to IOWA!!! We are so excited it won't be an actual trip on the ROAD, but one in the AIR!! Thanks to fare sales at Allegiant Air, we got one way tickets for $29! Unbelievable! I told the kids we would certainly be driving when we went home for a visit, unless there was a miracle! Well, we got our miracle! We don't have all the details worked out, but we know we are arriving in IOWA on Tuesday morning, June 2nd! Yes, that is one week from tomorrow!!! No, I am not thrilled at all!! The kids are not excited at all, we are not hoping to manage to see all of you when we are there...woops, I slipped into Not Me! Monday mode! Must be habit! It is Monday after all!

I was also looking for an excuse to post some of the recent pictures I have taken for my on line photography course for learning to use my camera! How appropriate! These pictures were taken by me in a creative mode as my manual calls it, anyway, not in automatic mode. Hope you enjoy them!
Learning to "freeze the action"Believe it or not this is Holden diving in...learning to "imply" the action.
And Alayna and Holden jumping in together
Learning to use metering...good thing it wasn't about finding a great background huh?? Oh well, at least the subject was fabulous!!
And this is my favorite slightly blurry picture! It could have been great if I had gotten it in focus. Still a lot to learn!

Last week were the last baseball games of the season. Here is Holden receiving his medal from his coaches. He had a great team and great coaches. Each kid got to try every position and the coaches pitched to them until they got a hit...even if it took 40 swings! Holden was a great batter consistently hitting it hard and was aggressive in the field unless he was swatting at bugs in the outfield or picking weeds! We were very proud of his efforts to be a team player.


Gabriel was the catcher and Riley played first base for most of the season. They also worked very hard, were aggressive in the field and had some great at bats. I promised them a trip to Nokomis Groves for ice cream if they got a home run OR a win, but neither materialized for either of them. In spite of this, they never got down or seemed disinterested in playing. They definitely learned how to lose with grace! That made us very proud. They were two of the most respectful and coachable kids on the team.We do have one more playoff game to play tomorrow. We lost our first one last Thursday after the rain kept postponing the game all week! We are in the consolation bracket and will be out if we lose our next game. Since we haven't won all year, we are counting on being done! What matters is that they learned a lot!

Adding one more update here. We found out last week that the house we were planning to move into (that was on the market that we were sure wouldn't sell any time soon), was sold! It is great for the owners, but we are back to square one! I am learning that I was not nearly thankful enough for what God provided as we look around at what is available and scramble and try not to stress out. I am glad I will spend much of June in Iowa and will be too occupied to worry about our housing situation here. Paul found this house for us and he will be able to find another. I am excited to see what God has planned. He clearly did not want us in the other house. We have prayed for clear guidance and that was a door CLEARLY closed! It is so hard to walk the line of faith in God's provision for our every need and my efforts. My part and His part are not always easily discerned and both Paul and I tend to be doers, forgetting to wait on His provision. We wonder how often we have missed His best for us this way. Please pray that we will rest in Him and His timing and provision. Doesn't that sound easy enough? As I read through the books of Samuel in my reading, I see that others found this difficult as well and had varying success with consulting God before they stepped out in battle. I absolutely LOVE the story of David and find it hard to put down lately. I think that is partly because it is so parallel to what is going on in our lives right now! God is faithful and I thank Him for his encouragement and His Word! I thank you for your prayers and support and hope to see you soon!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Good Monday to you all! No, its not time for those weekly soul baring confessions. No, its not me doing Not Me Monday on Sunday AGAIN either! I also am not still praying for Stellan as he settles into a "new normal" with his arrhythmia. I do not love that all his mama's medical jargon that she does not regurgitate so accurately (she is not a dream patient/patient's mom!!) allows me to utilize parts of my brain that I haven't used in nearly a year! I do miss my job so much, the driving to work, walking over 1/2 mile from my parking place often in the rain/snow/ice, etc. I won't bore you! Anyway, I am not so glad for this time of transparency and apparently, hundreds of others are not too. Head over to MckMama's blog to see what they are denying this week too! I do not always say this is going to be a quick post and have it end up being SUPER long with tons of pictures! I am not saying that again tonight! We will not see where this goes. I do not have a hard time stopping once I get started! Speaking of getting started...

I am certainly glad this didn't happen to me this week. I am so glad I didn't find a (still to this day completely unexplained) puddle of URINE in the laundry basket on the floor of the laundry room. I am so glad I didn't have to clean up that mess. It did not occur on a day when all boys (the most likely perpetrators of this crime) were at school. It did not happen in the only laundry basket we own that is not the one I purchased when I went away to college a couple years ago. No, if this would have happened, I certainly would have gotten to the bottom of it or coerced a confession out of someone. (Photos intentionally omitted)

I did not overspend on my trip to Walmart this week. I did not go over by $2.11 in the check out lane and mildly panic for a second and then decide to put the balance on my debit card. My debit card was not refused TWICE for this ginormous amount and the man behind me in line certainly did not pay the difference. I was not so mortified that I walked off without one of my bags, and the clerk certainly didn't have to shout at me as I was fleeing! The extremely kind gentleman did not grab it and then bring it to me on top of everything else kind he had already done for me!

I did not FREAK out over my checking balance after being unable to pay for the $2.11 and go home and immediately get on-line to check my balance. I did not find there was AMPLE reserves to fund this spending spree!!

I did not spend the past several months trying to make a single dentist appointment for the boys. They do not require a fax from their insurance provider to set up the appointment, and the insurance provider was completely competent and willing to send the fax. So, I am glad that I didn't have to make FIVE phone calls apiece to the office and the insurance company. I did not lose my nerve and wait 2 more days to make the appointment just because I couldn't face Joy at the dentist's office again! I did not want to threaten to break anyone's knee caps while I was not frustrated.

I did not change birthday party plans for Alayna's 5th AFTER filling out the invites. NO, I am a decisive mom who makes up her mind and sticks to it. I do not waffle and I certainly know the plans now, nothing is up in the air.

The boys did not have their last regular season baseball games Saturday! We are not excited about that! The older boys' team certainly did not finish the season in last place and completely winless. No, that would never happen to them! Their mom was not more bothered by it than they were! They do not have the "City Cup" starting tomorrow. We are so looking forward to the tournament to determine the champs! We just know we have a real shot at the championship!

And, as usual saving the best for last: I certainly did not feed pizza to my family for dinner 4/5 nights during the week. I certainly planned a nutritious variety of foods for them and I prepared them with love and care...every night! Since this didn't happen, I can't tell you that I didn't pay for any of the pizza. Monday we did not use the kid's gift certificates for being on the honor roll for 3 free pizzas. Tuesday, we were not invited to eat at a friend's house before our baseball game. It was not pizza at their house. Wednesday, we did not get together with a family planning to join Agape and have pizza that they brought for us. Friday, we did not eat all the leftover pizza because I was too busy to cook/plan/prepare. Oh, and my kids also did not take pizza in their lunches all week because we were not out of bread. No, we had plenty of other options for them for lunch. They just REALLY wanted pizza because they hadn't had it in such a long time!

Okay, I think this was a short one for me! Now, its your turn, what are you hiding from your week??? Go ahead and spill it, its freeing!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another review for my business and a quick update

Serious.Life Magazine
I wanted you all to know that my business (Spring Clean Year 'Round) was reviewed in this magazine today! I am praying it will bring more traffic to the site and of course orders. Things are still going well, but slowing without any marketing lately. I am still encouraged by the fact that sales trickle in by word of mouth! I am closing in on 120 sales! Check out the magazine for great Christian articles and encouragement. It is really well done and I enjoy it every time!

Another update: we will be moving at the end of June. The owners of our current place have found new tenants. We have also found another place for the same price that was generously offered to us by a couple at our church. The house is for sale and will remain on the (very slow moving buyer's) market. We feel like we will have ample time to find something else if need be. The exciting thing is that we will be very close to Agape and THE BEACH!! Check back with me regarding how I feel about that during hurricane season...

This brings me to petition you for prayers on our behalf:
1) Please pray for peace about this move, that we would not be bitter about all the work that goes into it, but we would see it as a blessing from above and God's perfect provision of our every need! I admit I am excited to get everything in our house reorganized and put back where it belongs...at least for a little while! The house across the street did not work out, even though I trust He was able to bring that about, it wasn't His plan for us. Pray for our kids as they will be expected to help, pray that they will have servant's hearts and delight in working as unto the Lord!

2) Pray for us as we struggle with the passing of Julie Flesner and being so far away from our dear church family because we want to be a part of loving on John and his family at this time. We praise Him that she is with Him and celebrate her salvation!

Thank you all dear friends! We miss you all greatly and are trying to nail down details of an Iowa trip in June...woohoo!! We will keep you posted! Please know that we pray for you and we love you!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Oh, heck, I am not doing this post on a Monday afternoon (closer to evening), instead of doing it on Sunday night and stalking MckMama's blog in order to add my post. I am a loyal Not Me'er. I always post, stalk and continue stalking until Mr. Linky is up and I am close to the top of the order. Because I have nothing better to do, that's why! No, I didn't spend the day cleaning a friends' house with her to help her out after her dad died suddenly and she has been in a bit of a funk. I did not thoroughly enjoy the day (way more than anyone should probably ever enjoy cleaning) and sharing just a piece of Jesus' love with my Jewish friend! I did not do this in spite of not having my Not Me! post ready. I am WAAAY more loyal than that...I am sure of it! Oh, and if I weren't, I certainly wouldn't feel guilty about it and have to explain it away here! I certainly wouldn't let being #400 something (or #500 something by the time I get it done!) on Mr. Linky make me sad.

I did not completely enjoy my daughter singing in front of church on Mother's Day:

video

I did not nearly miss it completely because people were still signing their kids in to KidzWorld (our Sunday school for grades 1-5 that I am coordinating at our church). I did not have ANY bitter thoughts about people arriving at church TWENTY minutes late and nearly causing me to miss the performance. My thoughts did not completely resolve when I realized they were first time visitors :o) We did not have 2 new families with kids in KidzWorld on Sunday! I was not helping teach in KidzWorld this month and did not commandeer the class to teach them to do a Mother's Day gift/craft for their moms consisting of a box made of wall paper with Spanish Moss and Dove chocolates in it! I was not so glad I was the one choosing the craft and chocolates since TWO of them were going home with me!
The pictured chocolates did not just suddenly disappear without explanation! My children accepted that fact easily and were not perturbed that they didn't get any chocolate. I shared my chocolate...that's my story and I am sticking to it!! I was not so proud of my own kids who followed directions diligently and whose boxes turned out very well. I did not wish I could say the same for some of the other boxes that went out the door! One mom did not say, "Oh well, its the chocolate that matters!"

I did not have to settle for leaving my own mother a message on the machine this Mother's Day. Oh, and her gift will not be late either, nor will my step mom's. No, I made sure to cover all possibilities and make very sure that I had enough time to get them and mail them in time for Mother's Day. I am an EXCELLENT daughter!! I did not tell my mom that she would think it was worth the wait, either, since it arrived there on time and all.

We did not have an unexpected visit from our friends Troy and Lora Miller AGAIN! We were not totally excited that they cancelled their trip to Cancun due to the swine flu (which I am now a fan of!) and came to stay with us instead! I was not too busy to take a single picture of them while they were here. No, I have gobs to share with you! You need your X42Ac3 glasses to see them...yeah, that's it! They are posted here:


I did not chaperon the 6th grade field trip to the zoo last week. I did not find keeping track of 6 6th graders in an entire zoo MUCH easier than keeping track of 3 preschoolers in ONE room!! I did not really enjoy the day with these kids and get much insight into each one of them! They liked hanging out with the bats:
This is not Gabe at the same bat attraction. I did not post this picture just so you could see that its actually a pretty cool display, but the kids did not hide most of it in the picture above this one. I did not forget to rotate it so it would look like they were hanging upside down with the bat before I loaded it into this post. I did not have to do it repeatedly until I got it right. As I have said many times before, I am much more tech savvy than that!The kids were not impressed with this giraffe's long tongue! They did not probably enjoy this attraction the most, but were not way too cool to admit it! None of the kids refused to use their spending money on attractions at the zoo (almost anything fun to a 6th grader cost $$, e.g., water ride, camel ride, feed the giraffes, sky ride...you get the picture) and instead, did not horde their dollars to spend at a gas station on soda and candy. They never extolled the virtues of the gas station prices and their own genius at saving their money for such a value!! I did not crack up!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Yes folks, it has been a while since my last confessions, and no, for the record, I am not doing Not Me! Monday on Sunday! What would be the point of calling it Not Me! Monday??? I was not following MckMama's story with rabid intensity and praying for Stellan for the past 6 weeks. Why would I do that?? I don't even know these people in real life!! I have not really missed this confession time, and I know some of you have not either! So, on with the show, here are a few of the things that I definitely did not do over the past few weeks, they did NOT happen, in spite of any photographic evidence you think you see here!Holden certainly did not lose another tooth. He wouldn't have done this because that would mean he has lost more teeth than big brother Riley, and that would just be mean and insensitive. Riley would not be offended since this didn't happen.
We did not have to spend several minutes cleaning the blood off this tooth so that it could be properly photographed without making any viewers woozy.
I did not send my daughter to school with all her clothes on backwards and her ponytail in the front (we had to loop it back up so she could see anything) for backwards day. She did NOT get a huge kick out of this either!
I did not finally get around to taking some pictures of the boys playing baseball. Riley did not pitch in last Saturday's game for the 2nd time this year. He did not do extremely well for so little practice, and the game certainly did not end with an opposing player hitting a grand slam home run off of his pitch! Gabe is not the catcher here. He has not been playing catcher recently and doing very well at it!!

Riley did not look pretty good pitching and even have a bit of speed!
Holden did not hit the ball into the outfield in his game and completely ignore his coach trying to get him to stop at second. He certainly didn't let the fact that the runner in front of him stopped at 3rd base stop him from rounding 3rd and heading home. He certainly did not ignore all coaching efforts and actually tag home. He did not completely drop his head and shoulders when he was told to go back to 2nd base. He did not walk over the pitcher's mound to get there. I did not about split my sides laughing at this spectacle!! I am probably not the one to blame for his actions since I promised the boys that if they hit a home run I would take them to Nokomis Groves for ice cream!
He did not also have an excellent game at 1st base.

I did not go with Holden's class on a field trip to the Shamrock Park Rookery. I certainly knew what a rookery was before we went! I did not find out that a rookery was a bird sanctuary...I think. No, I am very certain what a rookery is, after all, I spent almost an entire day there! The kids did not probably enjoy the time at the playground at the park the most.
The kids did not get a chance to sit in the shade to cool off and draw some pictures of some of the birds they saw. Holden did not draw a Northern Cardinal in spite of the fact that we certainly didn't see any of them that day! None of the kids complained about the heat or the fact that they were hot and thirsty at all! Thank goodness, because I just LOVE whining!

I did not promptly forget the names of all the birds we learned about while we were there!
I was not proud of this picture I managed of a red headed wood pecker who popped out just in time for a photo shoot!
I did not take my kids to a high school baseball game on a school night that started at 7pm just because they got in free and also got a free hot dog and soda and that meant that I wouldn't have to cook dinner. I also did not use someone else's athletic pass so I didn't have to pay to get in. I would never do something like that. I did not eat a "belly buster" hot dog for supper. I was not still hungry after the "belly buster". That did not make me feel like a HOG!!
The boys didn't get to go down on the field and warm up with the high school team. They did not sprint back and forth and then work on sliding back across the line. I did not freak out about my 2 older boys who were wearing jeans and not baseball pants, thinking they might be sliding on the grass in them. Nope, not for one second. I did not worry for no reason!
Riley did not AGAIN think he was too cool to pose for pictures! This was all I could get out of him!
Alayna did not rescue this snake from our pool. She did not pick it up all by herself and set it on the side to go free. I tried to discourage her from doing it, since I was so willing to do it myself, after all, I am not afraid of snakes at all, I love them quite a lot!
Since he was not really only the size of a large worm, I wasn't scared to get close to him. I did NOT use the zoom on my camera for this picture, it just wasn't necessary, you know, since I was so close and all.
And finally, saving the most dreaded confessions for last, as usual, I did not take this picture of my beloved friend Kate and her husband Dan and son Jack at their goodbye party at Agape. I am not so sad that they are leaving Agape and setting out on a new adventure. I will not miss our "shop talk" about nursing (you know its not another language that only medical people speak!!), trips to the bargain barn, or SA boutique if their adventure takes them away from here. I will not share more on Dan and Kate when they know where they are going.

Okay, it is not time to wrap this thing up and get to bed. I am not going on another class field trip (this time, not with Gabriel) tomorrow and don't have to be up at the crack of dawn to go to the zoo. I don't have a package to get mailed out tomorrow while I am not here and did not spend WAY TOO LONG figuring out how to purchase postage on line and schedule a pick up. I did not JUST figure out that purchasing my postage on line saves me $$ and is very convenient and comes with FREE shipping confirmation as well as saving me a trip to the post office and gas. No, I am way more savvy than that, after all, I have not now mailed out over 100 packages with my cleaning system in them! Okay, this is not addicting and difficult to stop! What did you not do lately???