Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Years! May 2009 bring health, security and peace to all! We are enjoying a wonderfully low-key evening and I can't imagine a better way to spend this New Year's. May yours be equally as blessed.

Source: Photo taken by Kabir Bakie at Blue Ash Community Fireworks July 2005

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Matter Of Perspective

To be grateful, sometimes it helps to change our focus in situations. I don't do this perfectly so this is what I am striving for in my life.

Instead of being frustrated because my husband arrives home late from work, I am grateful he has a job that supports us.

Instead of being frustrated with all the medical care my son needs, I am grateful we have the insurance that covers a majority of the care he needs.

Instead of focusing on how far away from home we are, I am grateful we have found such strong faith communities and many families that now feel like part of our family.

Instead of getting frustrated with the loads of laundry that need to be washed, I am grateful we have the clothes we need.

Instead of getting frustrated with the messiness that inevitably penetrates this house, I am grateful we live in a good, safe neighborhood and all our needs are met.

Instead of getting frustrated when I cannot find a good spot at mass, I am grateful so many people have decided also to attend that mass.

Instead of being sad because we cannot be close to our extended family over the holidays, I am grateful I have the Internet, phone and digital pictures to keep in touch as well as two beautiful boys and a great husband to celebrate with on Christmas.

It's all a matter of perspective ...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Angels Always Watching


There is a very cool story about angels my sister-in-law sent out to our family the other day. I believe very strongly in angels and that they are present in all we do.

The story was linked from a series of links beginning at my SIL's blog, Obsessed With Life. It gave me goosebumps ...


-------------------------------------


So many of you have heard me tell the story, but I wanted to pass it along anyway to those who didn't hear it and for those who wanted it in email.

A couple of Wednesdays ago, I got an evening phone call from the pediatric ICU at Presbyterian Hospital, where I work as a child life specialist. Usually when they call at night, it means something bad has happened. This, however, was different. My coworker told me that the most amazing thing had just happened and she just had to call to tell me.

We had a patient who has really grown up in and out of the hospital. All the staff knows her and her family. She had been in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for about a month, and had been intubated - on life support. She was not doing well. The doctors had approached mom about taking her off life support the Saturday before. Mom was okay with it, and said that she'd been through so much and if was her time to go she wanted to honor that. So they had taken her off.

It was Wednesday and she was still alive. Amazing. The doctors approached mom about taking off her oxygen mask. Mom was supportive, and began praying over her daughter. The mother of another young patient who was in the bed next to her began praying with her.

The nurse practitioner went to the nurses station to chart that she had taken off the oxygen mask. While doing so, she looked up at the security monitor that videotapes the double doors leading into the PICU. It records anyone who may be waiting outside the doors to get in since it is a secure unit. She saw a man standing there, and it looked a little funny to her, so she decided to walk down the hall to open the double doors personally. When she opened them, no one was standing there.

She walked back down to the nurses station to finish charting, assuming he had walked away, but saw him still standing there on the monitor. So she opened the doors with a button near the nurses station and leaned over to see him walk in, but no one was standing there.

She pulled over another nurse and both stood staring at this man on the monitor and opening the doors to find no one there. The nurse practitioner leaned in closely to look at the man on the monitor and said, 'Oh my gosh. That's an angel. You can see his wings!'

They said that the sun starting shining so brightly and the whole PICU was strangely filled with light. They said he was a tall man and you could see wings behind him.

They pulled over all the staff of the PICU and the two praying mothers and everyone was staring at this man on the monitor and opening the doors to find no one there. Crying, everyone pulled out their camera phones to take pictures, but no one could get it to show up on their camera. The mother of the girl pulled out her camera phone and finally got a picture of the angel who was guarding the doors to the PICU. He turned out as a man of light. I have attached the picture from her phone.

The girl was later discharged from the hospital to go home.
A Miracle.

This story makes me so grateful for the way that God reveals himself to us, and the how Great He is really is. We have much to be thankful for this holiday. :)


--
Katy L. Field, CCLS
Certified Child Life Specialist
Presbyterian Blume Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Clinic
Charlotte, NC

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Advent Virus

I thought this was really cool. I especially like it because we have spent so much time looking at different conditions my son may have and it is worded just like so many ... lol. It was in our church bulletin this past weekend. It didn't have an attribution, so I'm not sure where it came from.

The Advent Virus

The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to this virus and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions, posing a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world. Some signs and symptoms:

—A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences

—An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment

—A loss of interest in judging others

—A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others

—A loss of interest in conflict

—A loss of the ability to worry (This is a very serious symptom.)

—Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation

—Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature

—Frequent attacks of smiling

—An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen

—An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Nephew


We have a new nephew:). He was a big baby, but mom and baby are doing well! We are so excited to welcome him into our family!

Emmanuel(Manny) Joseph

8 lbs 12 ozs
21 Inches Long
5:46 AM December 14th, 2008

Congratulations to my bro and sister-in-law. She was a rockstar in what seemed like the never-ending labor (and it wasn't even mine:). We sure can't wait to meet him!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Props To My Brother


I just wanted to send a shout out to my second youngest brother who just completed basic training in the Marine Corps just before Thanksgiving. It is a difficult feat and one he worked very hard to complete. Congratulations little bro (he's the last one in the row on the right). We may raz you, but we're pretty proud of you!

Broken & Blessed

I have been pretty quiet on this blog lately because I have been exhausted. Our baby is still quite sick and after his week-long hospital stay and between sicknesses and around-the-clock meds and daily doctors appointments, we have had little time for much else.

I don't believe God only gives us what we can handle, because then we would never need to reach out to Him for help. This is important for me because I can be quite stubborn and know I need God, but don't always follow through in my life. The more challenging life gets, the more of a reminder I have of all the ways I can still put more of God in my life.

I do believe He gives us the resources and comes to us in people around us though to help us through when we just can't do it on our own.

While we have been overwhelmed with the realm of reality we are dealing with, we have also been overwhelmed (in a good way) with the graciousness of our family, friends and church community.

A ministry at our church I had just begun to get involved with has flooded us with offers to help in all sorts of ways. Many of the families we have never met or are just meeting now.

We have good friends who have been a good listening ear and who do the simple things that don't seem to get done. Thank you doesn't seem to be enough, but I don't think any words really can be.

We also have such a wonderful extended network of friends from the many places we have lived who are praying across the country and world right now, and that brings us the strength to do what we need to do as parents.

I never could have imagined what this year has brought. It has been challenging and a struggle, but we have been so blessed with the kind of community we have longed for and the type we grew up with, it is impossible not to be grateful.

It is humbling to accept help, but when you really need it you have little choice and it is important in our world of always building ourselves up, to be humbled.

One of my favorite praise songs, "Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord," runs through my head. Because without us humbling ourselves, we cannot get closer to God. And if we are not growing closer to God, we are growing further away, which is not the direction I want to be headed.

I read somewhere once when it is too hard to just handle the week, handle the day. When it is too difficult to deal with the day, just deal with the hour. When it is too much to deal with the hour, deal with the minute and if that is too much, deal with the second. It sounds a bit silly, but thinking about that tends to make me smile because even when life is overwhelming, you can at least handle the day, hour, minute or at least second and the rest gets taken care of as it is needed to be addressed.

The greatest graces and gifts tend to come out of the most challenging situations in life - at least this has been my experience in my life - and I pray God will shape me more into the woman, wife and mother He wants me to be.

I am so glad I am a work in progress, because I still need a lot of refining:).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thankful

I am finally getting a chance to post my Thanksgiving thoughts. I was pretty sick on Thanksgiving, the preceding and following days and couldn't muster the energy to sit down and type what I didn't need that day. But we are so grateful this Thanksgiving for our many blessings and it's so important we acknowledge all the good in our lives.

  • For my hubby's job and the good insurance that comes with the job - not everyone is so fortunate


  • For my two beautiful boys and my loving husband who make this journey so worth traveling


  • For my baby coming home from the hospital just in time for Thanksgiving


  • For our gracious friends who have helped us deal with all the medical chaos and help us take care of our older son we run out of possibilities


  • For the wonderful care at the children's hospital and all the nurses and doctors that take care of our son


  • For our friends who planned a Thanksgiving meal for us and brought it over as well as for our friends who invited us to join them in their celebrations


  • For such a loving and caring church community


  • For wonderful parents who do what they can to help us out, even across the miles


  • For all those who pray for us on a daily basis


  • For God taking care of our needs


  • For such loving families who stay in touch even though we are so far away


  • For the invention of wireless Internet (yes I am serious about this - I can still take on jobs even when my baby is in the hospital)


  • For all the beautiful children in our lives, including our children, godchildren and nieces and nephews - life wouldn't be as fun without them


  • For the little things that make a world of difference


  • For all that we have been blessed with


There is so much more, but those are the most important things right now. We are so blessed and we are so grateful we have been giving the abilities and opportunities we have in our lives.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Coal And Diamonds

"Don't be afraid of pressure. Remember pressure is what turns a lump of coal into a diamond."

This has always been one of my favorite quotes and it's great encouragement for all kinds of situations, because who doesn't want to be a diamond instead of a lump of coal?!?!?:)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why We're Here

So my youngest son has been in the hospital since mid week and although we're not here because he is sick (although he is), we are still having our fifth visit this year.

When we were praying about where we felt God was leading us to in the country in terms of jobs, we wanted with all we had for God to tell us we should move back home and have Him make it all work out. I knew I wanted it so bad I decided to pray that if that wasn't where we supposed to be at the time, no possibilities would present themselves and all doors would be closed. Well, all I can say is be careful what you pray for because there were literally NO opportunities in my husband's field when we were looking hard-core near home. Not only none there, there were also no opportunities anywhere in the surrounding cities either. I'd say God was speaking pretty clearly.

When we had our options laid out in front of us, I felt God was telling me we needed to move to Pennsylvania and the reason really disturbed me. I felt for months over and over and over again we needed to move here because the children's hospital was the best in the country. I was freaked out. I tried to find other reasons to move other places. I was 5 months pregnant and kept thinking, well my older child is well so what is going to be so wrong with my baby that I would need that kind of care anyway? I was praying for God to show me a definite answer and every time I turned around, I would see an ad or an article or something about this hospital, which 6 months earlier I hadn't even heard of.

God was showing me and I didn't like the answer so I was playing dumb. I feel pretty confident when I feel God speaking to me about most things that I know when He is truly speaking to me or if I am trying to feel like God is speaking to fulfill a selfish desire of mine.

I didn't want this to be the answer. I didn't want to start over again. I didn't want to think about having a kid that needed specialized medical care, much less any medical care. I just wanted to go home. But I knew God was speaking to me and so I shared this with my husband and a month later we were living out East.

Most of all, I didn't want one of the main reasons I felt like we were here to be true either. It took me nearly six months to share that thought with my husband. But now, a year into my youngest's life I finally can look at it and admit that is the main reason I felt like God was calling us to live here for right now. It shook me so much and I thought if I ignored it, maybe it wouldn't become true. But it did, even while I tried to ignore it. God knew what we needed and made sure we would have it.

I have no doubt we can get good medical care in many places across the country, but one thing they are seriously concerned of with my son is currently mainly treated in one of three locations across the country, and we just happen to live in one of the cities people bring their kids for treatments. We don't know still if this is what is going on with our son, but if it is, then we already have an experienced medical staff. How blessed are we that we just drive less than an hour?

One thing I have learned (over and over again:), is that life turns out so much better when God is the driver - not a passenger. A lot of times I don't understand where he is leading me, but in hindsight, it was the best option. I pray I can always put aside my selfish desires and follow the Lord wherever He leads me. He provides us with what we need and for that I am so grateful.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Family

Family... In my world that encompasses a LOT of people. Coming from a family of eight kids, now several of us married and having kids, plus all the grandparents, aunts, uncle, cousins and in-laws can make for a very large family. I LOVE having a large family! I can't imagine it any other way and because I love it so much, it can make living away from home more difficult.

My husband always laughs at me when I watch "Cheaper By The Dozen" because I tend to be an emotional person anyway, and at the end of the movie when they are looking for their brother who runs away it's sappy and I always cry because in a weird way it reminds me of my family.

I used to fight constantly with my siblings and they with me when we were growing up and we thought we hate each other at times. But as soon as anyone ever said anything bad about one of them, I found myself fighting for them and I know I saw it play out in reverse.

I remember getting in a huge fight with each of my best friends growing up (yes one that I am still best friends with today) because they made fun of one of my brothers and I refused to be their friend until they apologized. That's what gets me about that movie ... they may rag on each other a lot but when it comes down to it, it's obvious they would do anything for each other as well.

I'm glad I can't imagine my world any other way. I can't imagine not having all my siblings and all of the additions we've made along the way. They make life crazy and fun and I can't imagine trying to walk through life without them. I may have less people giving me a hard time, but I would have less people who truly care about me in the way only your family does. Like my mom always said, "You don't have to like each other, but you have to love each other." (Yeah for another quotable one mom;)

Whenever I get caught up in missing home, I look at my little boys and focus on creating a home and memories and family where they will experience the love and joy I have received through my family.

Free Photo Book Deadline Extended

Yeah! Since I had a crazy weekend, I was very excited to see the deadline for the free Snapfish Photo Book has been extended and I can still put one together. The Snapfish Web site said the deadline was extended until Saturday evening (November 22) at 11:59 pm PST.

If you have never created one of these you should! They're fun and usually nearly $30. I have several I still want to create and this is a great opportunity to do it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Free Snapfish Photo Book

Oprah has a two-day special where you can get a free Snapfish photo book if you go to this link. I use these types of books often for gifts and it's always sweet when you can get a free one since they're usually $29.99. If you're too late for this, you can always sign up for email offers from Kodak Gallery and Shutterfly who often send out deals, and once in awhile send out free book offers as well.

Sydne's Obituary

It's been nearly two weeks since Sydne has died and her obituary was printed today in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. The quote included is perfect for her short life and hopefully makes people think about the gift of all life, no matter how brief.
Lozano, Sydne Isabelle Baptized into the Church of Christ, Oct. 30th, 2008. Beloved daughter of Dominic and Liz Lozano; sister to Hannah Rose; granddaughter of Ralph and Pattie Canter and Bob and Carol Lozano; dear great-granddaughter, great-great-granddaughter, niece, and cousin to many. Services: Funeral Mass will be celebrated Nov. 15th at 10:00 a.m. at Incarnate Word Catholic Church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Patrick Center, c/o Jan Rasmussen, Chief Development Officer, 800 North Tucker Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63101. 'Give us the grace- when the sacredness of life before birth is attacked, to stand up and proclaim that no one ever has the authority to destroy unborn life,' Pope John Paul II.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Special Needs Kids

I was watching Extreme Home Makeover last night and LOVED the quote made by the dad of the family they were helping. He has special needs kids and is a doctor and he said with special needs kids, people just need to look around and see the potential, not the problem.

What a refreshing statement to hear. Kids with special needs are more challenging. They are more work. They are also such a blessing!

Our baby's problems are so mild compared to what families deal with every day. They do affect our life, but not having those responsibilities would mean not having him and that's a terrible thought. There are definitely times I'm overwhelmed as a mom just looking into all the doctors and treatments they want for him, but ultimately he brings so much joy just by being and we would do double the work if he needed us to.

I had a "friend" suggest we should have looked into genetic problems while I was pregnant and could have had an abortion if there was anything wrong. It breaks my heart to hear that statement. Even if he has a genetic disorder, does that make it ok for my child to be denied the possibility of life?

Sadly in our society, we seem to only be happy with the "perfect" child and truly no one is perfect. God has a great plan for each of us and I know God has a great plan for our baby. It may just be his adorable smile and the way he still flirts with the nurses even after they have had to stick him all over, but he has a reason for being here. I pray more people will be able to see the possibilities in all human life, even those not starting out perfect.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What One Person Can Do ...

Pray without ceasing and get off the couch and do something to make the world better ... There are so many ways to help others, but we can't wait around for someone else to take the initiative.

You say to me, "I am only one person." This is true, but look at what other great men and women before you have done in the span of one lifetime: Francis of Assisi; Paul; Thomas Aquinas; Augustine; Teresa of Avila; Edmund Rice; Don Bosco; John Vianney; Dominic; Patrick; and of course, Jesus. Look also at what others are doing around us now: Mother Teresa; John Paul II.

They too could have used the excuse, "I am only one person." The difference is they didn't see themselves as one person, but rather as one part of one body. Then committed to the message of Jesus Christ they chose to serve, and to choose to serve is to choose to love.

When Jesus said, "The harvest is great, but the laborers are few,"(Mt.10) he wasn't making a statement, he was extending an invitation and that invitation was to you.

The harvest is great, the laborers are plentiful. If only you and I would recognize that we are the laborers, God's laborers, the laborers of God sent out into the field, the world, to do our part in gathering the harvest as best we can in our families, through our friendships, and in our workplace. - Matthew Kelly

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"I Saw God Today"

This is a poem my brother wrote about our niece's death.

"I Saw God Today"

by Gabe Lozano


My prayers are being said
There’s singing in my head
A distant voice
But it’s not mine
It’s a friend's cry to the Lord

I saw God today
A mother's gentle hand
Her daughter's right beside
His hand is well in control

I saw God today
The face of a child
Selfless intentions
A moment independent of time

It’s her hand I see
An image I know
But time ticks again
My heart knows she's no longer here

Tears stain my face
Body overwhelmed
This time it's my cry to the Lord

His voice I hear
"I gave them a Gift,
A moment of perfection"
These words from God are so clear
Now, peacefulness
A feeling I know

It's a moment of grace
A perfect Gift indeed
Because Sydne saw God today

VOTE!


Ok now please tell me you are taking your time to vote today. No excuses accepted. As Yoda said, "Do or do not. There is no try." To make the deal even sweeter there are some yummy incentives.

  • Ben and Jerry's is offering free ice cream between 4 and 7 today

  • Starbucks is offering a free tall coffee

  • Krisy Kreme is offering a free red, white and blue donut


So what are you waiting for:). I already did with my two kids, husband and sister-in-law in tow.

A Mother's Journey

My sister-in-law Liz who lost her baby last week is writing about her experience on her blog as well. She expresses herself wonderfully through her writing and it is worth it to go take a look.

My brother is making a guitar for Sydne. He is great with his hands and made a dresser for his oldest and he wanted to make Sydne something as well. He is a great musician and Liz is a great singer so whenever they pick it up, they will think of her. HE is keeping a blog of his progress on the guitar and may post the link later.

For all those asking how they are doing, you can see for yourself. They are a very faith-filled family and although it is obviously difficult, they know this is not the end.

You can visit Liz at http://beautifully-crazy.blogspot.com/ and Dominic at http://everydayisafishingday.blogspot.com/.

Glamour's 2008 Woman of Your Year

My sister-in-law was voted Glamour's 2008 Woman of Your Year! We are all so excited for her and want to thank everyone who voted to help put her in that position. Here is a brief note from her:

Thank you everyone for all your hard work and votes-it paid off! I am so grateful for each and every one of you!

Here's the page on the Glamour site: http://www.glamour.com/women-of-the-year/2008/woman-of-your-year-rachel-lozano
You can learn more about Rachel on her blog

Look out for her in an upcoming issue of Glamour.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

There Is Always Good

UPDATE: Sydne Isabelle died this morning about an hour after she was born. She was 5 pounds and 19 inches long and beautiful. My brother was able to baptize her before they cut the umbilical cord and we pray she has found her place in heaven.

The hardest part about not being where your family lives is not being able to share both the happy and sad times of life.

Our niece was born this morning. She was diagnosed in utero with Potter's Syndrome and although she is not expected to live for long, we are rejoicing in her birth.

I would love to get a chance to see her or hold her, but my place is at home with my boys and traveling could jeopardize my youngest's health, which we just can't do.

Still it is hard sitting here, 1000 miles away knowing nothing I can do or say will help as she dies. Not that anything would help if I was there either, but I hate the miles that separate us.

I know I cannot know what they are going through because I have not lost a child at birth and everyone's experience losing children is different, but I know losing the three babies I lost to miscarriage broke my heart.

When we lost our first baby, I was more than 3 months pregnant and it felt like one of the longest days of my life. I felt like my body was turning on me because no matter what, I couldn't stop the inevitable from happening.

I never knew something could truly hurt so deeply. I never knew I could love someone so much I hadn't even seen. Watching my brother and sister-in-law go through this brings back many memories of losing my own angels and I have been praying all day God is enveloping them in His arms.

I think losing them, however, gave me one of the greatest gifts I could ever have. I learned to not take my children for granted. Not take for granted that they would be born, or they would do anything. I know we never thought it would happen to us when we lost Samuel, but when I gave birth to my first alive son and he was fine and healthy, I treasured it so very much. I was very aware that both he and his brother are not mine. They belong to God and so for however long or short I get them, it is a gift of time.

I don't know how you face these type of situations without faith. My main comfort when I lost my babies is knowing I will see them one day in heaven and they are my little intercessors.

My brother and sister-in-law have a very deep faith and I know that and the prayers will bring them through this.

I am excited to know that she will not be alone when she gets to heaven. That Sammy, Annabella and Esperanza along with many other relatives will be waiting there to greet her.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Every Little Blessing

After only being in this area for a little more than a year, both my husband and I feel like we have been very blessed in friendships and communities here. This past year has been difficult just being new to the region and spending more time with doctors and at hospitals than playing in playgroups many months, but we have been blessed by the face that God placed a few really, really good people in our lives who have made it feel like we have been friends forever. When we are with them, we don't feel so homesick and we are able to enjoy life as it is now.

On top of that we have such a strong faith community across the country of people who we have been blessed in sharing our lives with.

That being said, there was a family on Oprah yesterday when they were talking about miracle children. They had a son who lived for 99 days because he was born with Trisomy 18 and had many problems at birth. I saw a video the dad had made on YouTube a few months ago and was excited to see the interview with the parents. They had such a beautiful attitude toward his life and then his death. They documented every day they had with him. His mom said,

"I would tell Matt a lot: 'I'll be sad later. I'm going to enjoy every second now.' So even though his diagnosis never changed, we just decided we were going to enjoy every second that we had."


How wonderful would it be if we all had that attitude? If we could truly find the joys of being in the moments whether it means enjoying what little time you have left with a loved one or enjoying a situation that takes you somewhere you never expected to be (like Pennsylvania:).

In my life and I'm sure in many others, a lot of those unexpected turns and struggles help us appreciate life more and make our lives fuller. We spend so much time looking at the future, that we often forget to live in the present.

As much as we wish we could move closer to family, we are blessed beyond belief by where God has brought us. When we focus on the present, we still miss our hometown but we enjoy where God has put us this day and that He has given us this day to serve Him.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fun Memories

So today is my husband's and my 6th anniversary. The fun thing about wedding anniversaries is you get to reminisce about where you've been and dream about where you are going.

My husband and I were talking about how when we were dating and near getting engaged we had a huge fight about "missing" one another. I had said I missed him after not seeing him most of the day and I did. I made him a late lunch and brought it to his work because he hadn't had time to stop and eat and so I could see him. He looked at me like I was absurd and said, "Well I didn't miss you." Needless to say that although he probably didn't mean it the way it came out, I was upset and we realized we had different meanings of the word "missed."

We created a new word that secretly meant we missed each other in the way that we both agreed on the meaning and all was good.

We were talking about that tonight and how over time, we have grown to miss each other more and more when we are apart. We have grown so much closer together because of moving all across the US together, going through two grad programs, losing babies and having our little boys and everything else in between. When we got married, we never could have imagined what life had in store for us, but we are blessed to share it together and blessed God has given us each other to walk hand in hand.

My hubby said, "You know when I am at work, I just can't wait to get home because I truly miss you and the boys." Then we looked at each other and laughed about it. It's nice to be missed and it's nice to have that history with someone... the history where you don't have to give the whole background story, you just say, "remember the time..." and they know exactly which one you are talking about.

I am so blessed to have married my best friend and blessed that through all of the struggles and trials, we grow closer together by leaning on each other and asking God to guide us.

And I'm grateful for being missed:).

Beer Bob

While reminiscing, we came across pictures of one of the most colorful characters we may ever meet in our live - he went by the name Beer Bob.

Beer Bob lived in Barra de Navidad, Mexico, where we spent our honeymoon. He was an expatriate who was dying of liver cancer and spent his days riding the waves in the small fishing village.

He ran an unofficial library out of his house whenever he felt like opening his doors and you just had to bring a book to take a book. If you had time, you could hang out and grab a beer from the cooler and drink awhile (he was definitely on Mexican time).

We spent a few hours of our honeymoon with Beer Bob and he even gave us a piece of pottery from his collection he had begun some 20 years back.

I imagine he's probably gone now, but if we head back down to Barra, who knows? We may run into him again. Regardless, I doubt we will ever forget him. Here is a sign from his "library" and a picture of him waving goodbye.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Angels Watching Over Me

I am a strong believer in angels of all types. I think God's angels were working overtime this week for us. I had a fabulous birthday on Wednesday and was on a high from the love and all the special things my friends and family did to show they cared for me. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect birthday. Truthfully, I went to a conference a few weeks ago and ever since then I have been in a really good place spiritually and was feeling stronger and stronger so my birthday just topped it off.

Then Thursday, I was heading 25 miles away for an appointment for my son to see another specialist for his breathing problems when my car literally died in the middle of an eight-lane highway going 60 mphs while I was in the center lane. As I was pushing the gas pedal as much as I could and only hitting 10 mph the traffic suddenly came to a stop and I was able to quickly make my way from the fast lanes to the side of the road and get off at the next exit. I prayed the whole time my car would make it and it did, literally until the end of the ramp where it died and never started again. I couldn't move it an inch after that, but God got us to a safe place to await a tow truck and my husband.

Then Friday, I was making dinner when my youngest started choking on apples. I had cut them up pretty small but he tried eating several pieces at once. I tried unsuccessfully to dislodge them and then called 911. He began turning blue and gray and by the grace of God I remembered the class we just had to take on infant CPR and choking when he was in the NICU a few months ago. I got four pieces out just as the first EMT ran up to our door. He apparently was off work, but lived around the corner and heard the call over the radio. He helped me get the rest out and as the ambulance and cops arrived, we just had to listen to him and get him calmed down.

I truly believe God gives you the peace of mind to clearly think though those situations when you have to and He gives us the people to help us as well. The EMT who lived nearby took over as he ran in the door and left as soon as the rest of the guys got here. What a blessing for him to be off work and listening to his radio at the time.

Throughout the last few days a part of a verse from one of my favorite Amy Grant songs kept running through my head:

God only knows the times my life was threatened just today.
A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way.
Near misses all around me, accidents unknown,
Though I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home.

When everyone left, I felt the gravity of what had just happened and thankful for what didn't. The EMT told me what I did saved his life, but I honestly believe it was God and all those angels he sends to guide us- if I had had to rely on my own resources, I would have been a nervous wreck.

I've been asked by skeptical friends how I see God in our lives and why I believe in angels, this is why. I truly don't think things happen because you're lucky. I have had so many close encounters with God and angels in my life and honestly don't know how I could believe any other way.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ideas Anyone?

I am working on a site for moms in my area and am open to suggestions for what you would like to see on a local moms Web site. I have developed many ideas, but am working on ironing out the details. Thoughts?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Free Photos, Movies

I read lots of blogs and two different posts today were both relevant and things I actually will use so I wanted to pass on the info.

Money Saving Mom has information for free photos. Since I am a photographer, this caught my eye, but what really caught my eye was the 800 free prints and the 10 free 8x8 books you can get by signing up. I don't know anything about the quality of the prints, but you only pay shipping and handling so I figure it's worth a shot.

The other was a list of free movies showing across the country in October in select cities. The information is posted on Shopping Queen. A free movie could add up to a free or cheap night out.

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Serenity Now

Serenity Now

One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes is the "Serenity Now" episode (not sure if that is it's official name or not). It's when the characters shout "serenity now" anytime they're getting frustrated in an attempt to calm themselves down.

Anyway, I was surprised and began laughing when I was riding my bike at a nearby park and saw a sign on one of the Frisbee golf holes that said serenity now. I had to go back and take a photo. I put it on my phone because a lot of times when I am turning on my phone it is to look at the time because I am waiting somewhere and getting impatient. The photo makes me laugh out loud and changes my mood if I am getting a little grumpy:). I also embedded a montage from the episode below. According to Wikipedia it was the 159th episode of Seinfeld (apparently it warranted it's own Wikipedia entry...lol). Enjoy - I hope this makes you laugh! I almost forgot about the "Serenity now....insanity later," line.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

So Many Blessings

With everything seemingly increasing in price and money often tight, it can be easy to overlook the blessings we are given. I am so often reminded by this. Last night my hubby and I went out on a date for his birthday and we got up talking about where we wished we were in life and where we are and we had to stop ourselves.

This week our baby, who is now 9 months old, was very sick again for the millionth time and on the verge of being hospitalized AGAIN blah, blah, blah. I was feeling very overwhelmed the last few weeks because we had been moving to a new place on top of him being sick again and not gaining weight the way he is supposed to and all that and I went to adoration. Sitting there I was gently reminded how blessed we are. Even if we struggle, we are still among some of the wealthiest people in the entire world. We live in a great country, definitely not perfect, but a place where so many freedoms are easily taken for granted.

My hubby has a good job that provides good health insurance for us. If our baby had been sick in another country without access to medical care or several decades ago, he could have easily died last winter or would have been talked about as he got older as being a very sick baby who barely made it. He is not a strong baby, but getting stronger. We have a choice of hospitals and doctors and although nearly all of our extra money we had saved up before and have tried saving since then has gone to his care, we wouldn't have it any other way. He is happy and relatively healthy and has the medicines and medical interventions he needs to stay alive. You can't put a price on that.

So today I am just thanking God we still have him with us. Many others aren't as fortunate and so whenever I get frustrated about finances, I just stop and take a look at my boys and my hubby and realize I am so blessed beyond belief. I can't ask for anything more.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Free Chik-fil-A on Monday

I have been in the process of moving and having a sick baby so I am sorry for the long break, but I hope to post several free events for the upcoming weekends. On Labor Day, Chik-fil-A is offering a free 3-strip chicken box to whomever wears your favorite football team’s attire or logo (including elementary school, middle school, all the way up). The details are on their Web site here. It begins at 10:30 am Monday and lasts until the end of the day or until they run out, whatever is first. Happy eating!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Finally Up Again

So after another move, one just a few miles away and hopefully our last for awhile, I finally have Internet again. It was a weird experience not having it over the last week. Not quite a vacation because I was packing and unpacking - just weird. So now we are up and running again and all is right with the world - lol.

A funny story. I was using Internet on my laptop at our old house which is still hooked up to take care of a few bills, find some info, etc. My boys were bored because there were no toys or anything to do. My two-year-old took a scrap piece of cardboard, wrapped a piece of a Best Buy ad around it, handed it to his brother and told him "Happy Birthday." I went from getting frustrated to just laughing. The best part was the baby was just as excited to get the piece of cardboard as the two-year-old was to give it. It helped me stop and remember to be grateful for all the blessings in my life - Amen for that!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

All In Perspective

I am human and have definitely experienced my times where I feel I "need" things that really aren't needs. Currently we are living in one of the wealthiest areas of Pennsylvania and not generally bringing in the same income as our friends, we make a lot of choices that a lot of people we are surrounded with don't ever think about. We are working on paying down debt and trying to save up for another house eventually, so it can be frustrating and challenging to keep "needs' in perspective.

I have lived in a third-world country and seen poverty first-hand and have lived in some of the nicest neighborhoods in the country. I feel so blessed to have had both experiences and it helps me to remember what "need" really is when I am feeling like I need something I really don't.

A high school teacher used to say there are three basic human needs that need to be met and as long as they are met, you can deal with the other stuff. People need food and water, basic clean living conditions and to feel safe, secure and loved in their environments.

When I am convinced I am needing a new wardrobe or ridiculously priced pair of shoes, I remind myself that while I may want them, I definitely don't need them. I am not going to die without them and if I don't buy them, I will often forget they even existed within days or weeks.

Anyway, this past week I have really been feeling frustrated with how long it seems to pay off debts and save money and worried about how to keep up with rising costs of all the staples.

Then I was reading my Good Housekeeping magazine this morning and came across an article I loved. The author, Firoozeh Dumas was talking about how her family began donating gifts for their kids birthdays instead of throwing lavish parties when she realized the nany she was hiring had a two-year-old son back in her own country and was just trying to make a better life for him. Later she recounts how they had saved a certain number of frequent flier miles in hopes to go to Paris, but a family member needed them so they decided their trip could wait and gave them to the family member instead.

"A few months later, we received a letter from the IRS reminding us we owed a thousand dollars due to the value of the miles. As my husband wrote the check grumbling about "not being able to afford winning," the realization struck me: If someone in my family gets sick, he can go to the doctor. We live in a house that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I have the "burden" of trying to lose weight becuase we have access to so much good food. More important, I can hug my children whenever I want. What else is there to win?"

It's always good to put each situation in perspecitive.

Moving


So we are in the process of moving yet again. We are hoping the place we are moving to may be our last move for the next few years, but we may have to play it by year. Anyway, moving is never cheap. No matter if you do it yourself or hire someone to do it. Over the moves we have gotten a lot better at doing it as cheaply as possible. I have to say, minus paying someone to move our piano (my husband and three friends nearly killed themselves the last time they moved it), nothing is costing us much more than $100.

There are three things we are doing this time that is both helping us out and saving us money.

~ We have made friends up here who have teenage boys. We have hired two of their three boys to help us move (one had other things to do) out of and into our places. Hiring them is one of our higher costs, but still significantly cheaper than hiring a professional. Plus we just can't do it alone anymore with two kids. We have moved by ourselves so many times, which easily takes a few days and we are so blessed to have people helping us out.

~ I called around and found out that by asking nicely, you can have them reserve boxes from overnight stocking to use for packing. I spoke with the overnight manager on two occasions and the only catch is you have to be there bright and early (ok not too early - before 8) to pick them up. It was really bothering me thinking about buying a whole bunch (last time was somewhere around 100) boxes just to use once and discard. Not only is that a waste of money IMHO, but it is such a waste of resources. I like using and reusing things that are already out there (within reason).

~ We are packing a few boxes that are the last to get sealed and the first to get opened. They have toothpaste, ibuprofen, allergy meds, all of our baby's meds, vitamins, a few towels, a few pots and pans and dishes, a few cups and some staple foods. That way we are not running out at midnight to the store to get something we likely have three or four of but just can't find because all of our stuff is in boxes.

I surely hope this is the last time until we *hopefully* move back to the Midwest some day.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Quote From Mother Teresa

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." ~ Mother Teresa

Very cool.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Good Stuff

We were sitting in our family room hanging out Wednesday and my two-year-old was sitting on my lap. He looked up at me and said, "Ethan is mommy's best friend." Then he gave me a kiss. It was so adorable and made my day. That is one of those precious moments that make all the work and everything we give up to be with them worth it.

The nice fuzzy feeling lasted for a few minutes until I had to pull him off of his baby brother's back where he had decided to sit. ... at least it lasted that long:).

Great Thought

One of Glamour's College Women of the Year's favorite thought: "You either have a great excuse or a great story." Well put.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thrifty Thursday Delay

I have lots of fun things to post for Thrifty Thursday except it is nearly 11 pm and I am tired and heading to bed because otherwise there is no way I will get up at 5:45 to swim...lol. So it is coming, just likely on Friday. Stay tuned...

Vote For Glamour's Women Of The Year


Our new sister-in-law Rachel is one of five finalists in the Glamour Women of The Year contest. If you have met Rachel, you know how much we adore her and how fabulous she is and it seems Glamour thinks so too.

We are shamelessly plugging her and asking you to vote for her. You can vote once a day until September 4 by going to this page. Even if you just vote once, I know she would appreciate it!

You can read Rachel's blog here. She is a three-time survivor of a rare form of cancer called an Askin's Tumor. She was told the last time it came back that no one had been known to survive a recurrance of that cancer after a bone marrow transplant and was given months to live. That was in 2002. You can read more of her story the Adult Bone Cancer Survivors' Web Site

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thrifty Thursday: Making The Most Of Sippy Cups


So my son goes through sippy cup lids like crazy. We use several types, but the ones he seems to lose or break are the take-n-toss ones. I hated throwing out all the cups we had accumulated when the cups were in great condition and just needed new lids.

I looked everywhere and couldn't buy just the lids until I went to the company Web site. The Learning Curve sells a 6-pack of the lids for $3.99. The shipping and handling is about $5, so we teamed up with a friend and bought several packs of lids at once. It was great though because we could still use our cups, not waste them, and spend the money on what we really needed, which was just the lids.

It was not the best deal in the world, but I feel so much better about not wastign perfectly good cups. Plus the cups are BPA-free, so I'm not worried about my kids using them.

Confession Time: My Hair

So I have never been too much into clothes, fashion, hair, makeup, etc. my whole life. Some of it is probably because I just wasn't that interested. Some of it was that I was so busy with sports and life and dealing with other (more important) problems to think about it. Still some of it was that I would try to do stuff, not really do a great job and then just get too busy to take time to figure it out.

I am turning 30 this year and decided I really needed to know how to style and blow dry my hair. Yes that's right - I NEVER knew how to blow dry it without it becoming a frizzy mess. Not for lack of trying, mind you. I tried several times over the years and even owned a few blow dryers that would sit wound up in my bathroom until I got rid of them.

I got to the point I was embarrassed to ask anyone because it seemed like common sense to most people - just not to me. I read a lot about it, but I am a hands-on person so unless someone shows me, I have a difficult time picturing it. I figured out the science behind it and how to work the blow dryer with the right attachments to really style it, but it never worked out for me.

My hubby actually asked me about it the other day and he said he just thought I always liked wearing my hair in a pony tail. Well, it was more convenient, but whenever I tried mostly anything different it was disastrous so I just stuck with what worked. I was too busy to figure out the details of doing something - anything with my hair. It is super curly, thick and can be very unruly anyway.

Yesterday I got my hair cut in an easy style to manage and had my stylist give me basic instructions how to blow dry it and style it and showed me. I tried it out this morning and although it was nowhere near perfect, it actually looked halfway decent. I know it will take a lot more practice, but I am excited I actually figured out something it has taken me more than half my life to figure out.

Yeah for small accomplishments;)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Enjoying Summer While It Lasts

WE headed to the pulminologist yesterday for a checkup for my younger son who was extremely sick last winter with four hospitalizations totally nearly a month in the hospital. He has severe asthma and acid reflux, but thankfully not several of the problems the doctors were concerned he was facing.

We have had him more or less stable for the last few months and we have enjoyed our new normal. We still do medicines with him every six hours except at night unless he is sick and then we do it around the clock combined with additional medicines. Still he is growing leaps and bounds developmentally. He went from not even rolling over at six months to rolling over both ways, sitting up and nearly crawling within two weeks.

The doctors are cautiously optimistic about his progress. They said this winter will probably still be rough for him, but since he is getting a few months now to grow stronger that should help him a lot.

We are just praying this winter will not be as rough or rougher than last. We have all kinds of medicines to help him fight colds and viruses when he gets too weak to fight them and we are praying we don't have to use them too much because we worry about the long-term effects on his growing.

If you can all keep him and our family in your prayers as summer winds down. We will probably go from being extremely social and out and about to being reclusive again and I am not sure I am ready to handle that again. I will do it because I know it could keep him healthier longer and give him more time to fight off sickness, but I am dreading how long it all is.

Marquette Method NFP: More Info

So I realized I promised additional information as soon as I received it on the Marquette Method and the online charting, forums and reference but didn't actually post the additional information so sorry to those who were waiting. It took them a bit longer to get it out than I was expecting and in between our baby was in the hospital again.

First some quick resources for Marquette Method Model of Natural Family Planning:

Marquette's Natural Family Planning Web Site

Online tracking, forums and professional guidance for method. (It's free for now as they are running it as a pilot online program).

ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitor you need (You can also purchase them on eBay and some places teaching the program offer to rent the monitors for a small monthly fee. I believe St. Louis University is one of these programs).

The fertility sticks you need. On average you need about 10 a month.

Our experience with it so far has been a lot better than other methods we have tried. My husband is a scientist and very analytical and he likes it measures my hormone levels and gives us a better estimate of where we are in my cycle.

All of the professionals teaching it have been extremely helpful and open to questions, which is great. I strongly suggest calling them with any questions or concerns.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Few Sites To Share

I love the web because you stumble across some great content as you are searching for other items. I am currently developing a hyper-local site for my area and plus my youngest has been relatively healthy (as in he only needs his 4 meds every six hours instead of constant doctors and hospital visits) so I guess I've been spending more time than usual on the web (if that's even possible).

A very random collection of what's on my mind:

1. If you love photography and good journalism, check out one of my favorite sites that was just relaunched interactivenarratives.org. There you can find some of the coolest online storytelling projects. It's inspiring to see what's out there. A lot of my former classmates' work, both in Internet journalism and photojournalism appear on the site often.


2. Switching gears - I'm loving the series at Rocks In My Dryer called "What I'd Like For You To Know." Shannon, who hosts the blog has been having different people be guest bloggers talking about their experiences. She had a women who has three autistic children, a woman who's husband is deployed and a woman who lost a baby and she has several coming up. I've been reading her blog off and on for a year, but this is by far my favorite thing she's done.

3. Speaking of Rocks In My Dryer, she had a link to an online store with adorable shirts saying Mom to the nth power. So if you have two kids, it would be Mom to the 2nd power.

4. Now totally switching gears ... A friend of mine showed me a baby gift they received when their son was born last year. It is a wooden block with the baby's name, birthdate and all other kinds of info on it and is super cute. They have them at craftefamily.com

5. And switching gears AGAIN - I am finding PriceGrabber.com very useful for big purchases. It is not the easiest site in the world to navigate, but if you put in the URL of something you buy, it will send you email updates for the next month if the price drops so you can get the difference. Like I said, it's only worth it for bigger purchases, but I know from watching ads, I can buy something one week and the next week I see it on sale $50 less ... not a great feeling!

OK - enough randomness for one day. Hope yours is blessed!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Date Night!

My very wise mama told me that it is always important to set aside time to be a couple, no matter how little money you have or how busy you are with life.

My hubby and I have followed that advice (thanks mom;) and we have a date night every Saturday night. We only actually get to go out once a month because sitters are very expensive and not in our budget, but we try to create dates at home each week we don't have a sitter.

Well, this past Friday (we could get a sitter for Friday, so it was moved) we actually got to go out. We were thinking of fun, but affordable things to do and I had a silly, ok kind of ridiculous idea. We have season pass tickets to a kid's amusement park nearby and there are rides my kids can't go on - so we never attempt them. I talked my unwilling hubby into venturing into the park for the last hour without the kids.

To say he was reluctant is an understatement. He did not want to go, but we hadn't done anything active, fun and silly with just the two of us in awhile so we went. This park has many water slides and rides and a roller coaster. We hit most of the major ones. We only spent a bit more than an hour there, but by the time we left, we were laughing and promising to do it again. It was a blast! Yes we got some weird looks when people realized we did not have kids with us, but whatever - they probably weren't having as much fun:).

It set the mood for the whole night and reminded us how important it was to just let loose and have fun every once in awhile:). It always is a good reminder we're actually not that old.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Funny Diet

So I was really in the mood for a donut this morning so I went to Dunkin Donuts and picked up half a dozen. I splurged and got a Boston creme, covered with chocolate. I had it sitting on the table when I noticed a little 2-year-old sized bite out of it. I turned around again to fix some baby cereal for my 7-month-old and when I turned around, another few nibbles. By the time I got to really eat it, I probably only ate about half of the donut. It's almost like a built in diet, except I don't want my two-year-old eating my donuts, plus the one we give him. Life with kids is fun and funny.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Beautiful Little Girl


A beautiful 4-year-old girl named Mieko died this morning. She was the child of one of my former colleagues who defied many odds. Born with Trisomy 18, her parents were told there it was unlikely she would live. Trisomy 18 is considered "incompatible with life." Obviously the doctors were wrong. She had many medical challenges, but lived a very full and beautiful life. You can read more of her story at her Caring Bridge web site.

I was so touched by how devoted her parents were to her and how they never complained about the recurring hospitalizations, working odd hours so one of them could always be with her and the countless other things they did so selflessly. I remember watching them before my first son was born praying I could be as good of parents as they were.

Mieko was such a blessing and a joy not only to their lives, but to everyone she met. She had a smile that lit up a room and always seemed so happy, even when she was very sick. She will be deeply missed.

Please pray for her and her family during this difficult time as they celebrate her life and mourn her death.

With Hope

Here we go with another song;). Whenever someone dies, especially a baby or child I think of this song. It is one that helps you smile through the sadness and I think it is so beautiful.

Steven Curtis Chapman \ With Hope

1 Thess. 4:13-14 / Heb. 6:9, 10:23

This is not at all how
We thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but ...

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
(There's a place by God's grace)
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again

And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father's smile and say well done
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now you're home
And now you're free, and ...

We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so ...

We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thrifty Thursdays: Free Slurpees!

And now for a lighter post:).

I happen to LOVE slurpees, so it is with a smile on my face as I post this next one. Tomorrow (7/11) is free slurpee day at 7-Eleven. You get a free small slurpee at all participating stores. How could you have a bad Friday with that kind of deal?!?!? If anyone can tell me where to find the root beer slurpees that supposedly exist, but we can never find, drop me a line.

Why Carry A Dying Child?

So I actually read an article by in One More Soul before heading home and learning of the problems our sister-in-law and brother are facing while five months pregnant with their second child.

It struck me on so many levels, but ultimately because I am a mom and abortion is not a choice for me no matter what prenatal diagnosis we receive. This mom lost two of her babies to the same disease. She wrote this piece while pregnant with the daughter she knew would die much like her older son did. Ultimately though, she was able to savor the time she did have with them.

I could not find the article on the One More Soul Web site, but I found it on another very interesting site, Be Not Afraid. Click here to read Teresa Streckfuss' story.

These two parts were the most striking to me:
Some people think we carried Benedict and Charlotte to term because we don’t agree with abortion, because we are Catholic, or perhaps because our nephew was carried to term after a fatal diagnosis. While these factors probably all played a part in our immediate refusal of the option to ‘terminate’, this is not what it’s all about! It’s about love! It’s about my baby! It’s not about some tragic, fatal medical condition - it’s about my child. We do not possess more strength than other people. It’s not because we can cope where others wouldn’t. There is no way to avoid the sad fact that she cannot live long after birth with this condition, but causing Charlotte to die earlier will not stop this happening. Causing her to die earlier will only take from us the beautiful experience of knowing and loving her.

and
So don’t pity us for carrying a child we know will die. Carrying this beautiful person is an honour. Grieve for the fact that our baby will die. We wouldn’t wish away the time we had with Benedict, and also this time we are now experiencing with Charlotte, just to save us the pain of losing them. I’ve always thought of it like this; if your 3 year old was diagnosed with untreatable, fatal cancer and had only 4 months to live; would you prefer the doctor kill your child straight away so that you didn’t have to wait for his/her impending death? Or would you prefer to spend as much time as you could with your child and love him/her for as long as you had left?


As a mother who has lost three babies early in pregnancies, I longed to hold them or spend time with them. I never wished I wouldn't have been pregnant with them even though losing them was so painful. I felt like losing them, I came to such a deeper understanding of the value of life. Each of my babies have a name and I often think about them as I watch my beautiful boys play.

I know my experience is not the same as this woman's or honestly any other person's, even those with similar circumstances. Each person walks their own path. But I know the pain and sadness that can accompany a person when they find out their baby is or will likely die. It is so deep and hard to bear, thank God we don't have to bear it alone.

This article was very touching and a beautiful testament to this woman's faith and trust in God. I have read it several times over the past few weeks and am sure I will hold onto it.

And Now For Another Request....

We found out our niece/nephew has some serious health issues. My sister-in-law is more than 5 months pregnant now and the ultrasounds showed some abnormalities. The doctor's haven't given our brother and sister-in-law a good prognosis, so we are all preparing for what may come, but praying for a miracle.

Please join me in praying for the baby and for my brother and sister-in-law. May God grant them the strength to face this storm, the support they need and the ability to love the baby as long as they have him/her here.

Lots of Catching Up

I have had a lot of thoughts on my mind the last few months, but was still unable to put into words what I wanted to say.

We found out my youngest who has been so sick does not have cystic fibrosis. What a relief that was! Most of our doctors assumed he did at one time or another because all we did was not working. I have a whole new respect for families, especially parents dealing with long-term health issues concerning their children.

I also am so grateful for the health insurance we have. I can now fully understand how not having adequate coverage, along with an unexpected health crisis can put a family out on the streets. Gratefully, we were nowhere close, but money definitely got tighter.

One thing my son's hospitalizations and repeated sicknesses, along with his daily medicines have reminded us is not to take life for granted. We are so grateful he is doing better, but know that could change at any moment and we have to appreciate every moment we have.

My husband and I also had many discussions about issues such as banking cord blood stem cells in case our children can be helped by it in the future.

We were also reminded of the power of prayer and the strong support communities we have, even though we are nearly 1000 miles from home. How God has blessed us with so many friends and family of faith!

This is long enough for a blog post, but finding out our son didn't have a serious illness was wonderful and we just spent the last several weeks rejoicing in the news. Thanks for all who continue to pray for him - he's one tough cookie. Please keep up the prayers as he almost was hospitalized a few weeks ago, but rest assured he is doing so much better.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Quick Prayer Request

Please take a moment to pray for our unborn niece or nephew. An ultrasound today showed some abnormalities and most parents can imagine how difficult it is to think something may be wrong with your child. We so often take for granted that healthy normal babies will be born and forget all the miracles that go into making that baby thrive, develop and survive. So please keep the baby and my sister-in-law and brother in your prayers as they go for more testing.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

$1 Flip Flops, Free Auntie's Anne's Pretzels

One of the blogs that has the best discounts and deals around is Freebies 4 Moms. They posted info this morning about $1 flip flops at Old Navy - this Saturday only - and a link to a coupon for a free Auntie Anne's Pretzel. Now thats bang for your buck.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cool Quotes

I have two new quotes I heard that I loved! More to share soon:).

"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain." (no attribution that I can find, please let me know if you have one.)

"The Lord told me to serve people and He never told me to stop." - a farmer interviewd on ABC Nightly News. He grows healthy food for those who can't afford it.

Happy Friday!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thrifty Thursday: Free Jewelry


So I know it's not Thursday, but whatever. I do what I can when I get the chance. My mom is such a rockstar. She found an article in Woman's Day magazine for things you can get for free.

Here is my favorite: free jewelry. Yes free. It's silver jewelry and all you pay for is shipping and handling. Go to the Silverjewelryclub.com. You can see what's coming up here.Some of it I like - some I don't - but it's a pretty cool concept. Apparently they do it to generate interest in their business and other products they sell. I'm sure I will get to explore some more of these, but ordered one just to see if I like it or not. I got a blue topaz pendent. You pay $6.99 for shipping and handling no matter what you get from there. I'll keep you posted on what it's like when I get it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Updates On Bottles With BPA

So I took mine back yesterday and they are accepting the bottles, not the extra nipples or pacifiers or anything like that. I got almost a $60 credit and bought two new kinds to try.

The first one was the Born-Free bottles, which we have yet to try, but looked pretty good.

The second one was the Adiri Natural Nurser, which looks weird, but we're hoping may work for our baby to take a bottle sometimes.

I didn't have a receipt and I didn't have the boxes. I took back the Avent bottles and the Playtex VentAire ones as well.

I also got a few sippies for my older one that are supposed to be BPA free.

Looks like Playtex is offering a free bottle (BPA-free) with the drop-ins at their web site.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Babies R Us Accepting Bottles With BPA

So I have been thinking a lot about the BPA-Free bottles and cups and had taken all the questionable ones out of our cupboards. I wasn't sure what to do with them, but then I found out Babies R Us is offering to replace them with BPA-free bottles and cups and pacifiers I think. I called the one by us this afternoon about the bottles and they confirmed it

Apparently they have not been advertising it, but I found out by word of mouth. I am taking mine this afternoon to get new ones. I hated to throw ours out, but didn't want to donate them in case there are major issues with them.

Also the Parent's choice bottles at Wal-Mart and several new styles of bottles are coming out that are BPA-free.

The Take and Toss sippies are also considered safe. I don't tend to worry about this stuff too much, but there is more and more concerning information by the studies that are being done and I have an alternative, so I choosing it.

Also the Gerber soft spoons do not have BPAs.

Just thought you would like to know there is an alternative to losing all your bottles and having to buy new ones.

Z Recommends: BPA Free Feeding
BPA Free Items at Babies R Us

Thrifty Thursday: Magazines


I just got a renewal notice for my Good Housekeeping in the mail .... yes I read it and have since I was nine. Anyway, if you haven't notice magazines and newspapers are losing subscribers more than gaining them and they will often offer you promo rates to make sure you stay with them.

The renewal notice was $24.99 for a year. I was not going to pay that much and decided to call to see if they offered any specials. Last year I paid $15 and was ok with that.

I like the magazine, but if I needed to, I can do without it.

After talking with the customer service representative, I was offered a two-year subscription for $20 -- yes $5 off the one-year price and only $10 a year. Worked for me so I signed up.

Never hurts to ask.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Another Cool One...

I was reading a book by Amy Grant about her songs and her inspiration for writing them. I thought this quote was very cool
Nothing is wasted in life. Grief and pain enlarge our capacity for compassion and perseverance.
Isn't that the truth?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

True Wealth

I came across this quote yesterday and really liked it - it's still making me think about it.
Measure wealth not by the things you have, but by the things you have for which you would not take money.
What a great idea. What really is true wealth. Most people would rather lose all their worldly possesions than one thing they would not take money for such as an important person in their life. It is always important to remember how truly unimportant the things in our life really are.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

First Stop: Hershey, PA

Yes Hershey, as in the chocolate.

We are going to chocolate world and tour the factory, make some of our own wrappers and designs and ride a trolley on a tour through the place. We are not going to do the theme park tomorrow mostly because we can't ride the rides and it is quite expensive.

I need to get some sleep so I can wake up early to work out before heading toward chocolate heaven:).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Vacations On A Budget



The Urban Dictionary defines a staycation as
A vacation that is spent at one's home enjoying all that home and one's home environs have to offer.

Well, my hubby and I were planning a vacation. An actual family vacation for once that didn't involve traveling for a wedding or event or holiday to see someone, but was actually just to sightsee and relax.

We have so many things we've never see or been to around here since we just moved to the East Coast last summer that we figured we could easily pick something to do and planned something within a 6 hour radius.

Then we decided we would probably be moving out of our place this summer and wanted to save money. The first thing to get chopped was our optional vacation.

We decided on a compromise and have since found out our compromise actually has a name...a staycation.

We are going to stay at home and experience things around here or near to here. We will turn off our cell phones, computers, home phones. We are going to ignore housework and our to do lists and just have fun.

Not only did this decision seem more fun (because it took the stress of coming up with a lot of money out of the equation) but we have so many ideas we are not sure where to start.

The nice thing about doing this with little kids is that we can have the accommodations of home for sleeping. Some people actually check into hotels, but we aren't planning on it except maybe one night at a city we may visit a few hours away.

We are going to enjoy a few meals out, not all, which is what we do when we travel anyhow. We are not going to have any long car rides and no ridiculous high gas bills. Both my husband and I each get a day to pick whatever we want to do. We can't wait! We are so excited to enjoy our Memorial Day weekend that way. Who knows, we may even head toward the shore a day:).

I think this works well for us because we are new to this area, but even if you have been living where you are for awhile, there are always fun, new things to discover and I think it would still work then.

So Happy Memorial Day weekend. I'll report on how it went when we "get back."

A Break

The last six months have been so busy, I am happy to report nothing new is happening:). Life has been bland and boring and predictable - which equals WONDERFUL! I feel like we are getting a much-needed break and pray it lasts a little bit longer at least.

I am still catching up on thank you notes and budgets and dealing with other household related things that were pushed back when our baby was in the hospital. My older son just turned two and the baby turned six months so we had nice little celebrations for them.

I am so looking forward to heading to the shore this summer, hanging out with friends and watching my boys play together.

My husband and I have really been enjoying a lot of little things lately too. We got to go on our first date without any kids since October. Our TV broke down, which was actually very nice and we have just been enjoying hanging out a lot.

And we have been laughing....a lot. Last week my two-year-old was getting a little rough with his trucks and trains. Our friend was holding the train and he hit the train on the top with a car. When we asked him to apologize (to our friend) he said, "Sorry, choo-choo." We couldn't stop laughing.

I may post in spurts this week and then not for awhile, but please keep praying for the baby. He is stable right now and looks like he may stay that way for awhile - we are praying he does and can gain strength in his lungs before our next winter. I think God knew we really needed a break so no matter what is in store for the future, we are truly enjoying our non-eventful days right now.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I hope all my friends and family who are mother's had a wonderful Mother's Day. Ours was a little hectic, but very, very nice. I got to hear, "Happy Mama's Day" about 400times from my son who just turned 2 last week.

I enjoyed listening to my husband explain to the 2-year-old how they had to go on a "little bye-bye" while breakfast was being made because something didn't quite turn out as planned.

I was also blessed to talk with my mom and one of my grandma's as well as my mother-in-law and share a piece of mother's day with them.

I am so grateful for my husband who honored me by serving me today and allowing me a day off - probably the best gift there is to any mom.

Happy mother's day to all those who are mothers - it is the most important job you will ever have. Even though I get tired from the seemingly constant needs of our two boys, all the work is worth hearing my little man say "Happy Mama's Day," just one more time.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thrifty Thursday Bonus: Stamps

So for everyone who hasn't heard or who has forgotten, the United States Post Office is implementing another rate hike beginning May 12. Not really news of notice imho. What is though, is that they are offering stamps called the "forever" stamps. It came out in April 2007.

You can buy the stamps at today's prices and use them as long as you have them. Now that may not make a difference today or a year from now, but since they are steadily raising rates and likely will continue, they can be stored and used at any time. It saves the hassle of trying to get new stamps and a few bucks depending how much you use them.

Who knows? With the increasing costs of fuel, they may be worth double in a few years... I really hope not because that means we will be paying a lot for them, but who knows?

The USPS says they will continue to sell the forever stamps after the hike, but the price to buy them will increase with each additional rate hikes.

Thrifty Thursday: A May Freebie

I love using redbox. With two little boys, we rarely get to the movies or even watch movies that often and the $1/ night movies are right up our alley.

Well they apparently have a free movie Monday promo where they text you a message with the free code each Monday. During May, they are also offering free movie Wednesdays.

You can sign up on their site by clicking here.

You can see what movies they have and even rent online and pick up later at their web site http://www.redbox.com.

The best part is that if you really don't like a movie, you only spent a dollar and you really can't beat that:). Also you can rent at one location and return at another, which is great when I am running errands. We often rent in one state and return in another because my husband works in one and we live right next door in the neighboring state.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Helping Out

We have been so blessed with friends both near and far helping us out the last six months, especially all of the time we were in the hospital with the little one. I know until being on bed rest and being with our baby who has been hospitalized 20 days this year on four separate occasions, I never really knew what would be helpful for those with kids hospitalized (or who are hospitalized themselves) and for those on bed rest.

Several people have offered to help, but were unsure what to do. I know there are people out there who have spent much more times in hospitals than us, but I know from our experience what we needed and what helped most.

I just wanted to share some of the most helpful things others have done for us to help inspire those with friends/family in need with ideas of ways to help. All I can say is we sure have some creative friends and family.

On bedrest:

Two friends from across the country made a care package complete with snacks, chocolate, a good book, a fun movie and a crossword puzzle book. Not only was it a surprise, but it kept me busy for hours.

We got a gift card for a grocery store nearby so my husband could buy already made dinners from their dinner bar and bring them home on the way home from work. This was extremely helpful since I was not supposed to spend more than 5 minutes standing and it was difficult to make dinner sitting down or in 5 minutes.

My mom and sister-in-law sent me a box of crafts, which I love to do and a lot of books. It helped encourage me to spend the time resting I needed to and helped me not be so bored.

During hospitalizations:

Both of our parents flew up and spent time helping out with our older son.

Several new friends offered to help with everything from buying groceries to watching our older son to doing our laundry.

Two different families watched our older son including giving him baths, washing his clothes and feeding him.

One sent dinner to the hospital so we didn't have to eat cafeteria food or fast food again.

One of our friends called us the night we came home from one of our hospital stays and said she was bringing over dinner that evening. While I wouldn't have asked her to do it, it was so appreciated.

A friend a few hours away sent us dinner in a box. How could you get more creative?!?!? She sent it complete with cookies and found a dinner that needed minimal preparation.

We got many phone calls, emails and our son was added to many prayer lists. The support from near and far gave us the strength to keep doing what we needed to do for our son and the continued prayers have been imperative.

While spending days in the hospital with a little person who can't talk, I thought of a few things I would do when someone I know finds themselves in this situation.

If I am nearby, bring up toiletries, a change of clothes, or anything else.

Offer to sit with the person who is hospitalized so the caretaker can take a short break. Days inside one building is not healthy for anyone.

If I am far away, send things like the crystal light instant drink packs someone sent me on bedrest. Those rock and most hospitals have a lot of water and juice available to drink, but nothing more at least on the floors.

Thanks to all those who have offered spiritual support and support with the things we have needed to do. We cannot express how much we have relied on the support throughout the last many months.

We pray for all the families who are looking at much longer stays than we have had and pray they can get the support they need too.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another Freebie

So I know it's late, but my aunt alerted me to the fact that Walgreens was giving away 15 free prints today only. You can order them online and pick them up whenever, but it's only good today.

The code is TAXDAY.

Also we got great news that a second brother and his wife are expecting their first child, right after another one and his wife have their second. I love being an aunt and excitedly waiting for babies I don't have to be sick before seeing them:).

A lot more to say, but we had a nice last minute visit with my dad who flew in today so it will have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Wedding Prayer

I decided to post my "speech" for my best friend's wedding last week after some encouragement from one of my sisters.

I had a difficult time thinking of what I wanted to say at the reception. We've been best friends for 25 years and we know how special our relationship is. Many people in life are not as blessed to have such a close friendship at not even 30 years old.

My goal was not to cry, but to share my hopes and desires for their marriage. I also wanted it to focus on them, not my friend and I, since it was their wedding.

Well, the not crying didn't happen, but I tried to be as composed as I could.

I think prayers for these gifts are the most important gifts a married couple can receive. I know those are what carry you through the rough patches.

Below is the prayer I prayed. I took out their names so it's more generic, but obviously had their names in it.

I would like to share my prayer for name and name with you as they begin this journey through life together.

Please bow your heads as we pray for name and name.

Lord, we thank you for name and name on their wedding day.

We thank you we are able to gather together to celebrate with them and we thank you for the love they share.

May they always bear with one another’s weaknesses and grow from each other’s strengths.

Help them to always forgive each other’s failings and help them place each other’s needs ahead of their own.

Please grant them patience, kindness and cheerfulness as they continue on their journey.

May their love grow and mature with each passing year and continue to bring them both closer to You.

Amen

Free Ink At Walgreens

So I guess Walgreens just started offering printer cartridge refills and want to promote it, but tomorrow (Wednesday, April 2) they are offering one free ink refill. You can get the coupon here. It can be color or black - normally $15 for color and $10 for black.

I know we go through so much ink and nothing gets me to try a product like when it is given away.

Apparently if you live in Hawaii this is good for April 7 instead. Don't ask me why Hawaii is so special they get their own day separate from the whole country, but they do.

Remember to bring your cartridge with you. The refills work best when it is a recently used cartridge, just an FYI. I've tried it with older ones and I have not had luck with it.

Looks like they are not accepting Canon and Epson cartridges - so that kinda stinks. Good thing we have an HP:).

Enjoy your free ink!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Holy Week and Easter

I was quite frustrated last week because I had a list of things I was planning on doing to celebrate Holy Week.

Go to mass on Holy Thursday, stations of the cross on Friday, maybe confession, watch "The Passion of Christ," etc. None of them happened. None. My son was put in the hospital Tuesday and got out Friday about noon.

I was disappointed and stressed because of the week and then thought, I just can't handle any more "deep" stuff right now.

Then a friend gently reminded me that although we did not remember Holy Week the way I planned, we were walking our own road to Calvary that week. We were not faced with being put to death, but faced with some very difficult possibilities to accept.

I wanted to say we were weathering it good, but we struggled, a lot. But in the midst of that struggling, we were finding peace and comfort in God and His promises.

Oftentimes life does not follow the path we designate it to follow, but God always has a better plan and if we surrender ourselves and our plans, He reveals Himself and His plans to us.

So a belated Happy Easter. I have needed the past week to truly begin to process what we may be facing, but am finding peace in this Easter season and the hope and joy it brings.

I pray, as Mary prayed, to spare my son this difficulty, but truly want God's plan in our lives, even if it includes this disease for my son. We still don't know if he has a disease or is simply a very unlucky baby who just keeps getting sick over and over again. Please pray for him and for us as parents, that we can continue to provide strength and support to each other, him and our other son.

We praise God he was home for Easter and we were able to go on a trip we had reschulded multiple times.

About Me

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Pennsylvania
I'm a mommy, wife and educated woman with an inquisitive mind. I am always looking in ways to challenge and grow in my faith. Many wise people I have known have reminded me if I am not growing, I am going in the wrong direction.