Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Heavenly Chorus

Today the heavenly chorus welcomed it's newest member. My Grandpa passed away peacefully this morning at 12:30 a.m. My Dad was with him. We are rejoicing that he has found his final place; we are devastated to be left behind.

My friend Anda told me earlier this week about the passing of her Grandmother and how, despite her age, it was still difficult to say goodbye. "I think the hardest part was that it was the end of an era." I think she is right. Somehow it seems odd that my Dad will now be the oldest male for our family....Grandpa has just always been there. They have farmed together for the last 40 years...shared every holiday...talked every day. My heart aches for my Dad, my Grandmother, my Aunt. Moreover, it aches for my children.

I ache that because of their age they won't remember him very well when they are older. I ache that they won't be able to hear his voice in their ears reminding them to pray and be kind. I ache that they are learning about death in a very vivid way. Our Leve is especially struck by what is happening. I have been honest with her and have tried to sooth her when she cries. I don't blame her for crying. It IS confusing....why would a God that loves me so much take away someone I love so dearly, especially after I prayed that He wouldn't? If Jesus is everywhere why does Grandpa need to die to go and see Him? You can try to explain theology all you want, but this is kinda tricky stuff.

So, for now we are thankful for the time we had to kiss and hug Grandpa. Thankful for songs that we sing to remind us of him. Thankful for the blessing his presence was to us and all that we learned from him. Thankful that we have an opportunity to have very important conversations with our children about the importance of believing in Jesus and the concept of eternity. Thankful that we have one another to lean on.

I do ask that you please continue to pray. For hearts to find peace and understanding, for strength for tomorrow, for the ability to love one another even more in the midst of our grief....we are thankful for all those prayers and the loving God who answers them.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Finn!!!

Nine years ago this amazing boy came and stole my heart.

And filled my world with laughter, hugs, and cuddles.

I am blessed to be his Mom. Happy Birthday, Finn!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Encouraging a Friend


I want you to meet April. She has been a friend of mine since Kindergarten; one of my best friends in high school. She held the first party where I kissed a boy. We've shared secrets too numerous to count. We have laughed late into the night and eaten gallons of icecream. We've shared the bond of each having a diabetic sibling. We have incriminating videotapes of us lip syncing to mid-90s hits. She taught me about clothes and makeup and hair. As an adult she has continued to teach me.

You see, as a child, April was the only person I knew who talked about "pro-life" my world I hadn't heard the term. I didn't know what it meant. April made sure I did. She made sure a lot of people did. She never backed down. Never waivered. I think at the time there may have been a lot of people thought she was an idealist 'child' who really didn't know what she was talking about. How wrong they were. And how badly I wished she hadn't had to live what she believed.

April and her husband found out early in their pregnancy with Austin that he had anencephaly. The Doctors encouraged April and Aaron to terminate their pregnancy. They held strongly to their beliefs and carried Austin to term. Here is a beautiful tribute to Austin.

April and Aaron have not ended their teaching by living out their beliefs...they continue to encourage others through difficult pregnancies, share information and educate individuals who don't think they can chose pro-life. In short, they encourage others to respect life.

April is up for an award through the Catholic Diocese. Would you please take a moment and encourage April by voting for her? The Award comes with a monetary gift that would be used in my hometown community by April and her family. It is a simple click to "like" Catholic Extension (feel free to unlike after you've voted) and then a click on "vote" on the left side, then a click on "April Swenby" and a scroll down to the big "vote" button to vote. You can only vote once, but we'd appreciate you "sharing" to your Facebook, if you feel inclined.

Thank you so, so much for encouraging April and Aaron as they work to enjoy parenthood in the way that best suits them.


Friday, March 23, 2012

When It Rains, It Pours

We've all heard the old adage...and, unfortunately, it's all too often true.

You've read about my Grandfather....he is currently receiving hospice care....things were up and down...he was getting better and they had planned to transfer him to a hospital closer to home and start him in rehab care. It didn't go as planned. Please continue to pray.

February 2012. 93 Years Young

A few days ago I made my nightly call to my Maternal Grandmother...she said she didn't feel well and I could tell it was different from other times. She said she was sure it was just the flu. I called and alerted my Mom...the next day my Mom called to let me know that my Grandma had suffered a stroke. Flu symptoms are some of the same symptoms as strokes. Blast!

She is now in the hospital getting care for her left side; the connections are all there, but need to be strengthened. She will be looking at staying in the hospital another few days, then going on to the nursing home to get additional care.

You know what she told me that night when I asked if I could call one of my aunts who lives nearby?

"You have four little take good care of them and don't worry about me."

Spoken like a true Grandmother. Please add her to your prayers, as well.

Thank you for your faithfulness.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thy Will Be Done

I ask for prayers a's just how I am.

This time it's for me...and my read about my Grandparent's 65th Anniversary here. At that party my Grandfather didn't feel 100% and actually had a bit of a cough.  Last Saturday, March 10th, he was taken to the hospital by my Grandma and was diagnosed with pneumonia, a UTI, and a possible heart attack. Since then we have been on a rollercoaster of him feeling good enough to laugh and make witty remarks to him shaking and being as white as a sheet to him sitting up and eating and possibly getting moved to a rehab bed to him being too weak to even want to talk. He's exhausted....his diaphragm and stomach muscles hurt so badly from struggling to breath and handling the coughing. His bottom is terribly sore from sitting in the bed for the last 8 days. He is frustrated that he doesn't feel better and is sick of being in the hospital.

I won't even begin to talk about the exhaustion my Grandmother, Aunt, Dad, and our families all is a different sort of anxious-exhaustion that is clouding our world in the most foreign way. My Grandmother and Aunt spend the days with Grandpa, then my Dad comes and spends the evenings and overnights with him. The rest of our family and friends fill in whenever and wherever we can. We are blessed to have one another. We text and call...we try to keep one another in the loop of where we are on the rollercoaster. We are thankful for time together; even in these circumstances.
Yet, we still want to be able to DO something...

Grandpa holding my sweet nephew at Christmas...he LOVES babies.
TJ kept giving Grandpa kisses when we visited him last week; even snuggled up with Grandpa in his bed. Precious.
Today my Aunt texted "pray that God's will be done" Grandpa is not afraid to die....he actually told me he was hoping to see his daughter who passed last year, his parents, and some dear family friends. I think, he knows, however, how much he would be missed. How sad we'd all be without him. So, friends, please pray that God's will be done...and that we each might be filled with God's peace.

Thank you so much.
Stacy & Family

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Leprechauns CAME!

We've never had the lephrechauns to our house, but there is a first for everything...and they were certainly kind to us...maybe they know that our house is already too messy for Mommy to deal with so they didn't make it fact, they actually cleaned up a bit for us! ;)

There were golden treats leading the path of where they had been.

They used the potty!

And made a sparkly mess in the sink....

Green water in our curly willow planting we're sprouting.

And they left some presents for us!

The best gift the Lephrechauns brought was the Little Brown Haired Girl...can you imagine how psyched the kids will be when they wake up and find her sleeping on their floor?!!?!?!

Irish or not....HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dance Par-teh

So you know how sometimes we make folding laundry into a dance party?
Sometimes we just dance for fun, too.

The Spouse brought home his blacklight...turned on an I-pod...and we had an instant Dance Party. GOOD TIMES!!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

If You Need a Laugh....

If you need a laugh, watch this video of our little always makes me giggle. I especially love how she looks around to make sure everyone else is laughing. She still loves to make everyone laugh.

This was taken at her 1st Birthday/my 30th Birthday where she had been up WAAAYYYY too long and instead of being crabby she just got silly. My mom is the one holding her and laughing right along with her. (Don't worry, she was watching that her sweet fingers didn't get cut.)

Enjoy a giggle on us!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

One of These Things

"One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?"

I could also title this photo "What Happens When Mommy Looks at her Email for Just a Minute Too Long". :)

Have a Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Crayon Art

If you're on Pinterest I'm sure you've seen these. With the girls' room being rainbow themed I thought they'd be a neat way for the girls to participate in the creating of their room without a whole lotta cost. So, I gathered the supplies.
Hot Glue Gun & Glue
2 Canvas'
Blow Drier
Garbage bags to protect the area

Next I opened the boxes and organized the crayons into their color families. We chose not to use the neutrals....anyone want a slew of brown crayons?!?!

Then, each girl figured out what layout she desired for her crayons and I glued them to the glue is just too hot for little fingers!
Here is what Kiki came up with:

I laid out a wavy line for Leve, but she came in, took one look, and promptly rearranged them in a line...what can I say? The girl likes things straight and organized!

To make Leve's extra cool, I cut her name out of contact paper and stuck the letters to the canvas. It created a neat effect, but because it was her actual name I won't be showing it on the blog, sorry. :)

Next we used the blow drier to melt the crayons. I would HIGHLY suggest covering your area better than I did. The crayon really splatters and it is difficult to not make a mess...especially if you want to get the color all way to the edges of your canvas. Also, it worked well to have Kiki hold the drier while I rotated the canvas to have better control of the melting and the directions that the wax ran.
For clean up I used a magic eraser and old-fashioned elbow grease to get the crayon off the floor and cabinets.
Here is Kiki's finished product:
Under the blacklight!

Hanging on her wall.

Thanks for stopping in today!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The World Turned Pink with Kiki

Seven years ago today Kiki was born.  Seven years. I remember it like it was yesterday.

The 6th was a gorgeous day...sunny, sloppy, and amazing. The spouse and I cleaned out near the garage and I remember Finn coming to me, sobbing, because his feet were all muddy and even as a toddler he hated to be dirty. I remember taking a long walk to the DQ with my friend, Angela. I remember washing all the floors in the house that night, on my hands and knees, while I chatted on the phone. I remember talking to my Mother-in-law about how they had set a c-section for the 9th....and how I was bound and determined to get that baby out by VBAC before then. I went to sleep on the 6th an exhausted woman....I had worked and played hard that day. My house was spotless. I felt great.

At 4 a.m. I woke with a sharp contraction. I resisted the urge to get excited. Braxton Hicks and I were old buddies. I had another at 4:30. I fell back asleep until 4:50....I laid there trying to let my husband sleep. The tightening was there again at 5:10, 5:30, 5:50...pretty soon Finn woke and we got started with our day. I casually mentioned the contractions to The Spouse. He didn't get too excited...the Dr. had said I was "tight as a drum" at our appointment the Friday before. I showered....and I had a huge contraction....the white of the tub surround in our old house is burned into my memory as I tried to pick a focal point so I could breathe through the contraction. It happened again while I was making breakfast! At that point we called into work...we wouldn't be in. We were going to go to the Doctor just to see what was up. I called in and got my Dr....she was in, she'd see us when we got there.

We brought Finn with us...we weren't sure if this was the real-deal and didn't want to get too excited in case it wasn't. We had been induced with Finn so I really had little idea of what to expect. We got to the clinic and the Dr. checked me out and put me on a monitor. At the end of my appointment she laughed and admitted that when her nurse told me I was on the phone she had told her to "have her come in...she's not in labor, but it will make her feel better to come in." She happily told us to head over to the hospital and get admitted.

We stopped by McDonald's first....I know, we're naughty. I was craving a cheeseburger, though! We got there, we got settled, Finn watched Wiggles, our nurse-neighbor Ellen visited us, we called family, worked out a plan for who was going to watch Finn until my Mom got there. It was afternoon when Dr. came to check on me. My contractions had been consistent. She checked me and I was only at a 2....she thought that perhaps breaking my water would help things along. I didn't know what I was doing so I let her do it. When she did it the baby decelled big time. She looked wide eyed at my nurse and said, "Is that Mom or Baby?!" That momented is burned in my memory...I was scared to death. It had hurt so incredibly bad and now my baby was in trouble?! Thankfully the baby evened out and my Dr. assured me we'd be having this baby soon.

I spent the day walking the halls. My Mom came to see us at the hospital before going to get Finn from the neighbor. Ellen came to visit again and we discussed names....I had no scientific proof that we were having a girl; I just KNEW it. She like Maren. I liked Kiki. The Spouse started throwing Erica in the mix that had already included Paige. I kept trying to get him to reconsider Siri....we landed back at Kiki. We ate supper. I was checked....a 3. I called my Mom, "I'M a 3!!!" she said. Patience was wearing thin.

Finally, around 10 p.m. on the 7th I was a 4...and just in time. The contractions were completely intense....I was in pain....I was wearing out...after 18 hours of contractions I couldn't take it much longer....and I was only a 4?!?! I decided to with the epidural. We have video of me getting it. I keep chanting, "O-kay. O-kay" in the way that Finn said it at the time. I refused a catheter, so The Spouse walked to me to the bathroom since I had little feeling in my legs...he is the best birthing partner EVER.

After the epidural a nurse sat next to my bed the rest of the evening watching the baby's heartrate...the contractions were a little much for that darling....but she hung in there....I think she knew how important that VBAC was to me! After getting a little rest I told the Doctor that I was starting to feel pressure....I need to go to the bathroom. She giggled and checked me...10 cm. It was nearly morning and it was time.

I pushed only a handful of times. It's the joke with The Spouse and I that while it takes me a while to be ready to push (as in 24+ hours), once I get there I'm an excellent pusher. The Dr. was so awesome and motivating. I could feel it, but it didn't hurt. And then there she Kiki. We looked at her and we knew....she was Kiki. She was amazing, so pink and beautiful. Looking at her was like looking right into the sun...I was the mother of a little girl! Born March 8th...her estimated due date. A girl, just as I knew she would be. We snuggled our darling girl in that hospital room.

Later in the morning, we grieved as the woman next door gave birth to a stillborn baby...we hugged our girl even harder and prayed for that family and the hospital staff. To sit there with our joy while someone else was in such pain was horrific, to say the least. I think of that Mom often....I don't even know her name, but I still think of her. She had 3 children at home....each of them excited about the new baby their Mommy was having. She had to walk out of the hospital with her arms empty....even now my throat tightens and I ache for her....and I hold my Kiki a little bit tighter and am so thankful for the blessing she is to us.

After seven years I can still remember the pride that a nearly two year old Finn had as he held that little pink he willing shared his pacifier with he would say, "Nice" when he stroked her head. I laugh at the stink I made over The Spouse's gift to me....after 25 hours in labor with his child, he brought me a candle warmer. No flowers. No jewerly. A candle warmer....looking back it was a sweet gesture...the room smelled funny, he was trying to help. I was too tired to appreciate that. Later my Mom brought me the most stunning pink roses on his behalf. We came home to pink upon pink gifts. The cheerleaders came to visit, camp staff came and snuggled, it was a magical time.

One of my most treasured memories of having a little girl was our first outting. My Mom was staying to help and one day we all went to a nearby town to buy a poster I had seen at a shop there. It is the most stunning painting of pink roses. I wanted it when I had first seen it, but didn't want to somehow jinx having a I left it, telling myself I'd buy it when she arrived. So we went....all 5 of Mom, The Spouse, Finn, Me, and Kiki. I was so proud to be able to buy a PINK poster. I had a girl. She had a big brother. The world was perfect.
The poster was similar to this...but wider and even more beautiful. It hangs in their room in W-town.
Seven years later....the world is different, but it is still perfect in it's way. My girl is stunning. She is kind, thoughtfilled, beautiful, and always hungry. She knows just how to push my buttons (always has!) and just when to give me a hug. She is blunt and honest. She knows what looks good and what doesn't. She is eager to please us. She loves her siblings and it amazing at playing with them. She is creative, a hardworker at school. She loves to play pretend with her dolls and stuffed animals. Her best friend is the Little Brown Haired Girl to whom she is fiercely loyal. She makes friends with people of all ages. She loves animals...especially puppies. She loves to make plans for parties, for outfits, for creations, and she loves to go on dates with me. She takes consequences to mis-behaviors with a stiff upper lip...she can clearly gauge when something is fair or not fair. She is a talented singer. She makes me laugh with her spot-on observations of the world. In short, she is amazing and I cannot imagine my world without her in it.

On days like this I tend to get sad. Really, really sad. As happy as I am. As proud of her, as much as I adore her. I grieve the yesterdays. I miss what was and know that it will never be again. I was not a Mother who "missed it" as so many people I know claim. I was there. I was paying attention. But it was still too short! Those mornings of snuggling her on my chest. Those days of carrying her in my arms, of chasing her as she toddled ahead of me...they were just too short. And if I let myself I can sob away the hours just missing those moments. So, I must find solace....and I two things:
1. God's timing is perfect. He knows how long things should last...He knows that infants should be infants for that perfect about of time. I have to trust that. I have to believe that.
2. No matter what age she is...I love it. (Yes, even the threes!). I adored the 2s when she was figuring it all out and had that pudgy tummy and hands. The fours were a stitch with the hilarous things she said. Who doesn't love a Kindergartner all full of wonder at age 5? And this six year old who is eloquent and sweet?!

I grieve that I can't more clearly recall each delicious moment of the last seven years, but I can tell you that I will continue to do my very best at savoring the moments that are ahead.

And most of all, I thank God for this blessing that is my daughter. For entrusting her to me. For letting her fill my world with pink. I am honored to be her mother.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Skating Fun

We went skating one night at a nearby was very quiet...and wonderful.

That smile.

There is a park next to the rink...awesome!

Leve's Moon found did know that the moon is HERS, right?
He follows her everywhere and it makes her so, SO happy!

TJ spent time pretending to drive the car.

Daddy spins his girl.

Then fixes boots.

Then a mitten.

Then the other mitten.

A peaceful night.

THIS I took a photo of because it is so D-town. Danskos EVERYWHERE....
these and black fleece jackets are a sort of local uniform, I think. :)