Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Letter 2011

Unfortunately, it just isn't possible to send our Christmas letter out to everyone we would like to.  Therefore, I'm posting here so that all of our loved ones can read it.  Yes, its long, but it has been an amazing two years.   Merry Christmas!

Dear friends and family,

Skipping a Christmas letter for a year doesn’t mean nothing happened. It means too much happened. Life was so unstable for so long, we had no context clear enough, no frame of reference solid enough to clearly understand all that was happening to us, let alone explain it to others. We are not unchanged. You can still recognize us, but broach the right subjects or catch us with our Bibles open and you’ll learn God has gripped us tightly since last we wrote, changing our outlook on many things – fundamental things, life-altering things. As our family marches toward the Advent of the Christ Child, we not only celebrate Christ’s birth, but the renewing of our hearts and minds in Christ.

Our lives since our last letter have been a series of trimesters. The first – the winter of 2009/2010 – brought us our second child. Gilead, who is now 22 months, is as much all-boy as his older sister is all-girl. He smiles quickly for the camera, plays the drums on everything, and loves his sister more than she realizes.

The second trimester saw the end of an era: grad school ended in May, less than two weeks before Mercy’s second birthday, and without pausing for breath, the fulltime job search began. But a hundred applications and half a dozen interviews later, there were no prospects, and we knew we had to leave Idaho.

The third trimester brought us to the Portland metro area, where we house-sat for friends who were away on a three month overseas business trip. We went to church with old friends, gave Mercy her first haircut, watched Gilead grow, and applied for fifty more jobs. Interviews came quickly, filled with promise, with opportunities to put down roots in Salem, Tri-Cities, and Boise. And as quickly as the interviews came, they stopped. Our friends returned from their trip, and due to the terms of their lease, they were unable to host us any longer.

We were adrift. Friends quickly showered us with offers of hospitality, and food stamps would keep our plates from being empty, but as we boxed up our possessions and put even more of our belongings into storage, we slowly realized – as if in birth pangs – that we had become something new: homeless.

The first trimester of this new life was by far the most difficult. Our mailing address was the home of friends living just outside the Portland metro area, but between Christmas and a pair of out-of-town interviews, we were never anywhere for more than two weeks at a time. The interviews came from networking contacts, not from the job boards which had gone dry, or from cold-calls which had proved fruitless, and when those interviews brought the end of our job search skin-close before casting it away, we lost hope. We thought about returning to school to try a new field. We thought about joining the military. And then, after reducing ourselves to what could fit in the trunks of our cars and changing our address one more time, there was a phone call.

It was a full-time staff accountant position, with full benefits and a good salary. And so the next trimester brought us to Silverton: ten minutes from work, twenty minutes from Salem, and forty minutes from church. We signed a lease for a three bedroom duplex with a garage and a fenced backyard. We fell in love with the town and established routines. Work was difficult but rewarding.

The first week of work was euphoric, a waking dream. The second week turned darker as the demands of the job weighed down heavily upon the thin foundation laid even by graduate school. The third week was a night-time storm with no coming sunrise and no moonlit breaks in the clouds. The CFO had underestimated the requirements of the job. The accounting manager couldn’t relate to someone with a degree. The open channels of communication so highly valued by the company were closed. We never heard them coming. Less than four weeks after the job was offered, it was taken away.

We wept. And we could do nothing but return to those same empty job boards and fruitless phone calls. Again, friends quickly came to our aid. Though we had no need of shelter, we were in desperate need of cash, and it was here, after hard work, natural talents, the free market, and every tenant of the so-called American Dream had failed us, that we realized the painful, glorious, agonizing, precious truth: it was all Grace.

The third trimester of this second life began with the realization that we were receiving that for which we had prayed, daily, since before we knew one another existed. We wanted to love our neighbors. We wanted to understand love. We wanted to know the roots of compassion. We wanted to be free of every preconceived notion standing as a barrier between us and the poor, the lonely, the downcast, and those who – as Bonheoffer put it – are gripped tight by God. And so God gripped us. We could feel His fingers cracking our ribs, and yet we knew we would never be dropped, could not hope to be dropped. We cried out daily and yet there was joy. It was not the joy found in pleasure. It was joy such as C.S. Lewis describes in Surprised by Joy: an overwhelming desire to reach for something wonderful that can only be held for moments at a time, something so wonderful that gravitas trumps giddiness. We could taste Grace in the air.

We were not lifted out of our troubles at this point. But we were given the strength to carry an even larger, more glorious burden. By this point we were well into expecting our third child, due in September. And by this point, Amber’s mother was unable to return to work because of old injuries that recent surgery failed to completely heal. Jan put her house on the market, and she and all that she had were welcomed into our home, for however long we could be in it. There was still no work – not even at Safeway or McDonald’s – but checks continued to come in the mail, some from dear friends, some from friends of friends who had never met us, all of them beloved of Christ. Our third child would be due soon, though we didn’t know what house or city or state he would be raised in, only that he would be ours, and we would do everything we could to teach him and his siblings how to live in God’s good grip.

The only solid job lead at the time came from a friend – a member of Jan’s old church and a partner of a small CPA firm on the other side of the state. An interview followed, and yet, after so many that had seemed so promising, hope was only a background hum, faith only a penlight in the night.
But there was Abel. He was born September 7th, angry at the disturbance, but beautiful. He brought the facial features of distant relatives back into the gene pool, and he was the most tangible act of Grace we had received since the birth of his brother. Less than two days later he was taken by ambulance to a neo-natal ICU in downtown Portland for a breathing problem. The next day, after Abel had stabilized, after we were told the problem would resolve itself after a few days, after a night yielding only three and half hours of intermittent sleep, the cell phone rang.

We were born again.

The job was a full-time staff accountant position with a small but well-respected CPA firm in the very place from which we had just moved Jan. The irony of moving into Jan’s old house did not escape us. It was a strange time, almost a dream-like state as we once again packed up everything we owned, this time mixing Jan’s possessions with our own, moving into a house already familiar, to an area well-traveled on numerous trips, to a church who knew us as frequent visitors, and to a job that seemed too good to be true.

But it was true. And so we start this new life as children slowly waking. We remind ourselves daily of where we have been so we can better understand where we are. We remind ourselves that God’s grip – though sometimes painful – is nevertheless His. We approach Christmas with the lead-footed fear of children frightened by the sudden booming laughter of their parents. We are awestruck by the lowliness of the Christ-child, that He suffered as we have so that he may lead us through suffering. How many kings would do such a thing?

As we walk toward Christmas, we pray Jesus reveals himself to you as He revealed himself to us, though perhaps not in the same way or for the same duration. And yet, our hearts are hard, often requiring many thrusts into the fire and many blows under the hammer. We pray, then, that God gives you a heart of thanksgiving no matter your circumstances, and a joy so wonderful to grasp that it hurts to uncurl your fingers.


Ryan, Amber, Jan, Mercy, Gilead, and Abel

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Abel and the NICU Part 4--"Healthy"

Later that day Abel was moved from a warming bed to a normal bassinet.  We later learned that, by NICU standards, this made him "healthy"--a term we soon learned was very relative in the NICU.  And healthy means mobile.  He was moved out of the pod that many of the cardiac babies were in (a good thing) and into another pod.  It was only Saturday afternoon--a mere 72 hours since Abel's delivery, but it seemed we'd been caught in the middle of some crazy reality TV show forever at this point.

Now we settled into a pattern for the remainder of our time in NICU.  The next morning mom brought Mercy and Gilead in for a visit, and we determined that it would be best for everyone if they stayed at our friend's home with us.  For next six days we would wake in the morning, eat breakfast with Mercy, Gilead, and our friends, pack a lunch, and head out for a day at the hospital.  We weren't able to see Abel between 6:30pm and 7:30pm, when the nurses changed shifts and updated one another on the babies in their care.  Therefore, we would always return to see Mercy and Gilead and eat dinner with them.  Then we'd tell them goodnight and head back to the hospital until sometime after 10pm.  We typically arrived back at the house after 11pm, updated our hosts, fell into bed utterly exhausted, and then repeated the routine.

What matters in life comes sharply into focus at times like these.  Though we were excited about Ryan's new job, employment suddenly wasn't the end-all it had been for months.  In the NICU we weren't the typical group of post-partum mothers, either.  We were hospital gown, sweatpant, and maternity clad mothers who didn't care about our waistlines or looking like we had it together.  It was our babies that mattered.  I didn't get to meet many of the other parents, but our faith and church family are what carried us through that time.

Our days in the NICU consisted of holding Abel and feeding him--or trying to.  We did a lot of praying that he would actually eat.  Most feedings I would be allowed to try to breastfeed him.  When he seemed to tire we would then try to bottle feed him.  He typically only took 5 to 15mL, and we were told he needed to be taking 45-50mL orally before he could be discharged.  Once he would give up on the bottle, the rest of his milk would be syringed through a feeding tube.

The doctors made their rounds late morning.  We looked forward to these updates and actually learning if Abel was making any progress.  And he was.  At least in the breathing department.  By day 4 his respirations were down to about 80 per minute, and he was still oxygenating.  However, four days is much longer than an infant should be having breathing and eating trouble with TTN, and by this point the physicians felt an echocardiogram was in order.  I remember thinking "oh, good.  Maybe we'll finally know what's going on."  Then instantly realizing that I didn't want it to be anything that would show up on an echocardiogram.  I'd rather just never know.

Blessedly, the echocardiogram came back normal.  We'll simply never know exactly why Abel had a rough first week and a half.

On the evening of Abel's seventh day he actually nursed decently.  He took 35mL from me. We began to feel some real hope.  That was the morning that the effects of this time was really showing on our children as well.  When we had left that morning Gilead turned and ran from us, sobbing.  I began to cry, too.

The next day, Abel did even better--taking 45 to 55mL at the breast each feeding.  We knew then that we would be going home very soon.

On Abel's ninth day we arrived at the hospital to find patient education handouts awaiting us and Abel minus his feeding tube.  I'll never forget rounds that morning.  "This is Abel M., and he's ready to go home."

Our time at Doernbecher is slowly becoming a blur.  During that time we were blessed by wonderful physicians and caring nurses, many of whom were Christian.  Life is just beginning to feel normal again.  We arrived home from the hospital only to begin packing to move.  A week and a half later we loaded a truck to move across state for that job Ryan had been offered.

God is indeed good--but sometimes that doesn't look at all the way we imagine it will.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Abel and the NICU--Part 3, "Reunion"

True to her word, the doctor discharged me shortly after 7am.  My mom came with Mercy and Gilead to pick me up.  In the short, 5 minute ride home from the hospital I became so nauseated I spent the next several minutes hanging over the porcelain throne.  The ride to Doernbecher was going to be over an hour, and it wasn't looking like I was going to be capable of getting through the trip there.  The next couple of hours were spent acquiring a prescription for nausea that would allow me to join Ryan and Abel.

During those couple of hours Ryan called.  He'd been offered a job.  We couldn't process it.  We'd been praying for work for over a year, and this was a tremendous answer to prayer.  However, for the moment, the job was shuffled to the backs of our brains while the rest of our brains focused on our baby's survival.

It was near 11am by the time we were on our way out the door.  We stopped to drop the kids off at a friend's home on the way.  Joanna graciously offered to keep them overnight if it turned out that that would be helpful.

When we finally arrived at Doernbecher, signed in, scrubbed down, and got back to the "pod" that Abel was in we were greeted by a very tired looking, but encouraged Ryan.  

Entrance to the NICU

Handwashing procedure.  We had to do this every time we entered the unit.

Handwashing station.  Those are knee pads below the sink that operated the faucets so that you didn't have to touch anything that might recontaminate you.

He and Abel had had several visitors from church, and Abel was improving.  He was now off of oxygen and had even sucked on a pacifier for a few minutes, which was big news given his complete lack of a rooting reflex.  Then they had me try to nurse him, and he latched on.  In that moment I thought "we're going to get to go home tomorrow!"  His respirations were still about double the normal rate, but he was oxygenating and seeming to want to eat.  Those were both major concerns that seemed to be resolving.

By the next feeding I was utterly exhausted.  I'd had a c-section a mere 48 hours before, had only slept 3 hours in the last 60, and there isn't anyplace to lay down in the NICU.  I began to shake, and tearfully had to say that I couldn't hold Abel, let alone feed him.  Apparently I really wasn't looking good, and Abel's nurse encouraged Ryan to take me down to the emergency room.  She thought I was going into shock.  Ryan did take me down, and we waited five hours to be seen.  During that time my mom left to pick up the kids and take them back home.  As it turns out I was just post-surgery, exhausted, and stressed out.

We spent a few more minutes with Abel before heading to a friend's home for the night.  They were only 30 minutes from the hospital rather the 1 hour and 15 minutes we are from the hospital.  We arrived sometime after midnight, and fell into bed utterly exhausted.  Apart from having to wake up every 3 hours to pump I slept like the dead until after 10am. I awoke feeling much better, but also guilty for having abandoned my baby for so long.  Ryan assured me that his nurses would be glad that I had gotten some rest.  Regardless, I got showered and dressed as quickly as I could so that we could head back and see how Abel had progressed overnight.

When we got to the hospital our hopes of being discharged were dispelled.  He wasn't eating, and his respirations were still over 100 per minute.  At that point we knew that we needed to prepare ourselves for a longer haul than we had hoped for.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Abel and the NICU--Part 2, "Breath"

Abel literally means "breath" or "vapor."  We gave that a lot of thought before deciding to give him the name.  Though Abel was given his name for the faith and righteousness of Abel as demonstrated in Genesis and commended in Hebrews 11, we thought that rather than being dismal, the meaning was a good reminder of what we truly are.

However, as Ryan and Abel left the birthing center and headed to Doernbecher's where Abel could be given the specialized care he needed, I remember thinking "oh God, no.  We didn't mean it this literally."  His name means breath--and Abel's breath was literally being taken from him.  I hadn't meant that I wanted his life to be a fleeting vapor, and then gone.

I returned to my room to finish packing up to be sure I was ready for the early morning discharge I'd been promised, then tried to get some sleep.  I hadn't slept at all the first night.  The long-lasting morphine in the spinal causes me to itch so badly I'd rather be in pain.  However, sleep was hard to come by.  After an hour of fitful slumber I awoke, and after determining that they should be to Doernbecher by now, gave Ryan a call.  They were there, and Abel was being set up in a warming bassinet.  Nothing had really changed. His respirations were still at 150 per minute and he was in an oxygen tent.

By now it was after 2am.  Ryan said he'd been told he could try to sleep in a pumping room (yes, a room for mothers of NICU babies to pump), and though he didn't want to leave Abel, thought he should try.  I knew I needed to try to sleep as well.  So, after pumping I settled back in to try to catch some much needed rest.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Abel and the NICU, Part 1

If you're really wanting to know the details of this last week, it's going to have come in installments.  So much happened, and there isn't any way to tell it without it getting rather lengthy.

When Abel's rapid breathing and lack of interest in feeding didn't resolve in 24 hours I began to push the nurses regarding what happens when 24 hours have passed.  Abel was worse.  He was up to 80-90 respirations per minute and still not even rooting.  Now we were being told that "sometimes it takes 48 hours to resolve."  He wasn't a big baby, and it didn't seem that waiting 48 hours would be a good thing.  So the lactation consultant was summoned.  And she was concerned.

Spending time skin to skin while keeping Abel's chest in an "open" position in hopes of regulating his breathing.

Then Abel started to shudder.  Initially I thought he was cold, but then realized that he couldn't be.  He was dressed warmly and swaddled in a blanket.  The nurse was called again.  And I was told it was his startle reflex.  I've had two babies--I know the startle reflex.  This wasn't it.  She finally called the doctor in.

The physician on call finally arrived, and upon glancing at Abel assured us that he looked like a normal newborn to him.  However, he said he could "check him out and do a chest x-ray" if it would make me "feel better."  I have never been so thoroughly patronized.  So I backed down and said that that wasn't necessary if he was truly fine.  And he responded with "well, I think it will be normal, but should do the x-ray."

Now I was just confused.  I thought he said Abel was fine.  In which case, why do the x-ray?

The x-ray did, indeed, come back normal.  More patronization followed.  I was told I needed to rest, so they should take the baby to the nursery.  We were told that "new parents" get nervous while our other children were in the room.  I lost it.  I let the doctor have it--and if you know me, you know that it takes a lot to get me there.  Poor Mercy kept asking what was wrong with Mommy.

These were taken when I really began to notice that Abel was getting worse, not better.

Abel was taken to the nursery, and an I.V. was placed.  Again, very confusing.  If he was fine, why an I.V.?  Then the doctor went home.

A couple of hours later Abel's respirations were up to 120 a minute, and the nurse called him back in.  At this point, he became very, very accommodating.  He expressed his concern over Abel's worsening condition and stated that he thought he needed to be transported to a facility that could care for him more effectively.  Doernbecher's Neonatal Care Center (NICU unit) was contacted and arrangements were made.  The PANDA team (a transport team that specializes in transporting critically ill infants and children) was on its way.

In the meantime, Abel's respirations had grown more rapid--150 per minute, which is as high as the monitors can track.  He was also placed on oxygen because his saturation levels were dropping.  I don't know if I've ever been so scared.  Many silent, scattered prayers were sent up.  A Telepeds robot was used to bring the neonatologist into the room.  He was then able to interact with us and the transport team.

Once the PANDA team arrived you'd have thought God just walked through the door.  The doctor sighed audibly and said "I'm glad you're here."  A few more tests were run, the PANDA team conferred with the doctor via robot to determine how best to care for Abel during transport, and he was placed in an isolate on a stretcher equipped with an oxygen tent.  The last thing I remember before his being wheeled out of the birthing center is registering the neonatologist expressing his concern regarding a possible congenital cardiac problem.  Then my husband and my baby walked out the door.

Abel today with his commemorative PANDA team bear.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Abel Valor is Here!

By now most of you already know this, but Abel Valor Myers arrived on September 7 at 1:20pm weighing in at 6lbs. 10oz. and 19.75 inches long.

Ready to go into the operating room.

Enjoying a snuggle.

This was my first uncomplicated delivery.  The c-section went smoothly, for which I was very thankful.  The spinal wasn't done well with my last, and for a few moments I was left in 10/10, I'm going to die if this doesn't stop now, kind of pain.  The anesthetist this time knew my history and took it nice and slow.  Though it took him three tries to find a space and position that allowed him to get in without the same results he patient, kind, and willing to take his time and make sure he did it right.

Getting to know Daddy.

Mercy loves her baby brother.

Abel is beautiful.  Upon his initial exam it was found that he was breathing rapidly, and once he was placed on my chest we also noted that he had no rooting reflex.  However, we were assured that these things would resolve themselves within 24 hours--so we settled into enjoying our third child.  We're all in love.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

4 Days Until Baby, Stomach Flu, and Interviews

We're still on the wild roller coaster ride around here.  Ryan had an interview last Tuesday, on on the other side of the state on Thursday, and has another one coming up this Friday.  The Thursday interview took him away from home all day Wednesday and Thursday.  I was so thankful my mom is here to help!

Yesterday we all woke up and went through the normal morning rituals.  Mercy is often a very slow breakfast eater, and yesterday was no exception.  She complained of a tummy ache, but she's been struggling with constipation.  However, after she'd eaten half her yogurt I told her she could be all done because we were wanting to go to a yard sale that advertised toddler clothes.  On the way there, she started looking pretty peaked, but she loves yard sales and perked up there.  However, as soon as we got back in the car she began throwing up.

Needless to say, the timing is terrible.  The baby is coming 4 days from today.

Mercy vomited three times and slept restlessly last night.  However, apart from a diminished appetite, she's back to herself today.  Here she is trying out her new "dancing dress" from the yard we picked up for $.25.


Now we're waiting in that miserable pre-stomach flu anticipation to see if anyone else comes down with it.  The stomach flu is miserable regardless, but because I'm having a c-section in 4 days, I'm particularly uptight.

We'd appreciate prayer as we navigate this next week with the potential for more illness and the certainty of a new baby and another interview.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"Did You Know You're REALLY Pregnant?"

What people say never ceases to amaze us.  I know that every pregnant woman in the world has said as much, but when you're pregnant, your body becomes a free comment zone.  And today I must be looking particularly pregnant.

First thing this morning I went to a yard sale that advertised baby boy things and the lady running the sale just couldn't get over how far out front I pop out.  I don't think I've heard "wow" so often.

But the best one came later, when we all went to the farmer's market.  We were in line at a booth behind a couple in their 50s or so.  When they turned around after having made their purchase the man's eyes visibly widened.  He then proceeded to say "Wow!  Now that is a green striped watermelon is I ever saw one!" 

Yes, I happen to be wearing a green striped shirt today.  In fact, this is me--today.  I wish I'd had the wherewithal to say something to the effect of "I know, that's why I wore this shirt.  I LOVE watermelon."  More comments were made, to which I tried to graciously smile, nod, and say "I know, but I'm almost done."

Once it was over my husband was outraged.  He commented that people might as well come up and say "Hey, did you know that you're really pregnant?!"  Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I had noticed...

Before We Know It

Life is a whirlwind.  Before we were in a state of chronic unemployment, I wouldn't have believed that to be possible if you didn't have a job.  But it is.

Ryan is studying for the CPA exam most of the day five to six days a week.  When he isn't studying he's applying for jobs.  I often have to go upstairs between 1 and 1:30pm to remind him to come down and get some lunch.  Or sometimes I just deliver it upstairs.

At my 36 week doctor's appointment I was scheduled for a c-section at 39 weeks, which falls on Sept. 9.  This worked out well for two reasons.  One being that 39 weeks is the most favorable time for a c-section medically speaking.  The other being that I'm exactly 39 weeks on a Friday, which is the day my doctor typically schedules her surgeries.  It was perfect.  I also learned at that appointment that I have pubic symphesis dysfunction (PSD), which my husband lamented sounds like an STD.  I have to agree.  Anyway, it basically means that I'm in quite a bit of pain most of the time.  

On my Gluten Free Motherhood blog I had the opportunity to review It's You Babe's Prenatal Cradle Mini Cradle, which helped with the PSD.  When the company learned of my  new diagnosis they also offered to send me their Best Cradle, which has helped the pain much more than I had hoped.  It has been a tremendous blessing.

Ryan has a couple of interviews coming up that we'd appreciate prayer for.  The first is on Sept. 1st, and the other on Sept. 9th.  We couldn't believe it when the only day and time available for the second interview was the 9th.  It takes about 2 hours to get to the location of the interview, which means that given his time-slot, Ryan has to leave town by 9am to be safe.  My c-section was scheduled for 7:30am, which meant that, if all went seamlessly and on time he'd be able to be there to hold my hand through it, maybe get to hold Abel briefly, and then have to run.

At my 37 week appointment yesterday I told the doctor of our dilemma.  Initially she wanted to call the potential employer herself (the potential employer had been told I was having a c-section that day).  She declared that she'd brought men home from Iraq before, and she'd be happy to make a call.  When I wasn't comfortable with that she said "or, we could try to reschedule, but I'm not optimistic.  The birth center is pretty booked."  Thankfully, she was able to change the day to Wednesday the 7th and 12pm.  I wanted to hug her.  Double bonus--two less of days of being pregnant, AND my husband can be there all day.

Before we know it, we'll be a family of five.

Friday, August 19, 2011

More than I can Handle.

Today I'm 36 weeks, and the c-section is scheduled for three weeks from today, on Sept. 9.  In many ways I'm completely ready to have him.  Mostly the physical ones.  I feel like a beached whale, I'm having my usual "pre-labor" contractions every 3-5 minutes a few hours a day, and for the first time my hands and feet are swelling up like balloons.  Not fun, but I know he'll be so very worth it.

On the other hand, the stress has been getting to me badly enough lately that I'm alright with him just hanging in there for awhile longer.  I would love to have a bit more stability to life before Abel makes his grand appearance.  Lately applications have gone in for everything from accounting firms to McDonalds without much response.  There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon--an interview with a firm on Sept. 1.  However, I'm having a hard time maintaining hope.

I know that God will care for us--He always has.  We won't go without a roof over our heads or clothes for our children.  However, I'm no longer sure that I have the faith that there will ever come a time in which we don't wonder from day to day or week to week just how that will happen.  I'm afraid that this will simply be life.

My hormones aren't helping.  I have a couple of very gracious friends who've stuck by me even when I've snapped--and I'm so done with cliche comments and phrases.  I came across this post by Nancy Wilson on Femina yesterday and wanted to shout "amen!"  I've been beyond the end of myself for quite sometime.

So I cry.  A lot.  And sometimes in front of my children, which I've never done before.  I need prayer for peace.  For graciousness with those who are trying to be helpful but say or do things that simply aren't.  And faith--lots of that.  Along with hope.  Because yes, this is all beyond what I can handle.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Abel's "Room"

Now that we've moved Gilead to the toddler bed, Mercy to a twin, and both of them to the same room we needed to determine where the baby would sleep once he arrives so that mom could have her own space.  Thankfully our bedroom is very spacious, so we now have a "nursery corner" there.

We use sleep sacks rather than blankets with our babies.  No only do I not have to worry about them smothering in the blanket or kicking it off, but it serves as a very effective "sleeping time" signal no matter where we are.  If the sleep sack is on, it's time to sleep.  Therefore, I've decided to hang the never-really-used crib blanket on the wall above the crib.  I think it looks rather sweet...

I had to stand in the closet to get this picture.  This is the entirety of the "nursery."  It only took until our 3rd baby to have a situation that allows us to use the crib with the new baby.  We didn't even own a crib until Mercy was about 5 months, and Gilead slept in a bassinet until 4 months, when he switched.  I'm looking forward to having an itty-bitty baby in it this time around!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tubes and Consolidating Households

Last Thursday Gilead and I checked into the hospital at 6:30am to get tubes in his ears.  He did great, and the doctor said that all went well.  When we checked in I was warned that little ones wake up one of two ways--they're either loopy and mellow or very, very angry. Gilead was the latter.  After he was returned to me he screamed for about 10 minutes before he even opened his eyes and saw me.  After about another 5 minutes of singing and some tylenol he was doing much better.  By that afternoon he was pretty much himself.

The other big happening involves consolidating households.  A couple of months ago my Mom lost her job as a result of an injury that didn't recover quickly enough.  The very week she put her house on the market an offer was put in on it.  If all continues to go well the house will close the first week of August and Mom will move in with us.

Therefore, we've been cleaning out even more (planning on yet another yard sale) and have moved the kids into one room.  Today Gilead napped in the toddler bed for the first time, and tonight he'll spend his first night in it.  Mercy has been in the twin for a couple of nights now and loves it.  The twin has always been Mom's bed when she visits, but now, of course, she'll be bringing her bed with her.  Last night Mercy declared that "this is my bed now.  Nonni can get a new one."

Here's the kids new room.  A bit tight, but certainly doable.  And Mercy is ecstatic about having a roommate!

I found this adorable bedding set for Mercy at Goodwill.  It has everything--even valances for the window!  However, those won't go up until fall (when we don't need insulated curtains in their window anymore).

And my Mom got those butterfly wall stickers for Mercy at a yard sale for $0.25!

Gilead's corner.

We'll see how much sleeping happens tonight.  But one thing's for sure--they love the new setup for daytime play!

And, of course, we're still praying for work.  Ryan has an interview at a local firm tomorrow.  Lord willing, this will be the start of a new phase in life.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

30 Weeks!

I had my 30 week appointment on Friday.  Because little Abel wasn't compliant during the last ultrasound, we've been planning another at the 30 week mark.  This time we were able to see his heart and other vital organs, but still didn't get to see his face.  The doctor even turned on 3D imaging for a couple of minutes to see if she could get a better view that way.  No such luck.  This child simply doesn't like to be photographed.

And neither does his mother.  But despite that, here's a 30 week picture.  I just love all of the "you must be due any day" comments I'm getting.  If you think I'm big now, just wait until I'm full term!  I guess some of us just pop out more than others...

Thursday, June 30, 2011


We've been blessed in so many ways over the past couple of months since Ryan was let go.  Ways that, sadly enough, many Christians would view as shameful.  We're alright with giving to those in need, so long as we deem them "deserving" (which is a whole other topic, but one we've pondered a lot lately), but we have great difficulty admitting that we are the ones in need.

And these days, we've found ourselves in the position of being those in need.

My college roommate and dear friend and her husband joined forces with other friends, their church, and friends churches to come to our aid.  Between them our rent has been paid for three months (through July) and our children have been fully wardrobed for the summer.  Both thing we desperately needed.  The rent has allowed Ryan to begin studying for the CPA exam and apply for a test date.  And the clothes have kept our children from being naked, or their mother from doing laundry daily to keep them in clothes.

To be so blessed by others, especially when you've never met many of them, is overwhelming, to say the least.  As Ryan has stated "Christ has always been in our home, but now we see His footprints."  He has truly cared for us in every way.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Growing, Growing, Growing!

I took both kiddos into the pediatrician today for their well-child check-ups.  Only we're not so well.  It seems that we're catching every bug that goes around this year.  Once again both of Gilead's ears are infected.  This is his fifth infection in the last six months, so we're off to the ear, nose, and throat specialist on the 16th of June.

Despite all of the illness, both Mercy and Gilead are growing well--each maintaining the courses they've been on.

Mercy is our petite girl at 35.5 inches and 28 pounds.  At three years old that puts her at roughly the 24th percentile for both height and weight.

Gilead is very, very long and lean at 32.75 inches and 22 pounds 1 ounce.  At 15 months that places him at 91% for height and 18% for weight.

One of my favorite things right now is how much they adore one another.  I think each feels a wee bit lost without the other.  The love playing together, which makes my life so much easier!

And a few parting shots, just because they're so cute!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy 3rd Birthday, Mercy Girl!

Today was Mercy's third birthday.  It's hard to believe that three years have flown by so quickly!  However, the rate at which she is growing, learning, and changing most definitely attests to the fact that she is no longer a baby.

Mercy's 1st Birthday

Mercy loves "school."  We have several Kumon books that we work on most mornings.  She is progressing well at learning to read and write the alphabet, her numbers, and in coloring, tracing, pasting, and cutting.  She doesn't ever let me forget that it is time for school!

Mercy's 2nd Birthday

Most recently, Mercy has begun vocalizing her faith and what she understands of what she's been taught, which we love.  In fact, yesterday, on a trip back home from my mom's (6 hours away) we made a potty stop, and while taking care of business, Mercy proceeded to preach a sermon.  Ryan had taken her potty, so I got the story second hand, but it goes something like this:

Mercy (in a near shout): "I go potty!  I make Daddy happy.  I make God happy.  I obey God. God is everywhere.  God is in heaven.  Jesus go up in the sky to the clouds!"

Ryan said he basically "yes, honeyed" the whole way through.  We realized then that when you teach your toddler what you believe, there is no keeping it secret!  Not that we do, but we'll be "witnessing," if you will, on a rather regular basis now if she has anything to do with it.

Mercy was the official frosting test-taster.

Me frantically trying to finish the Pooh Bear cake on time.  In my new maternity apron from Bon Appetit Aprons.  I have the privilege of doing a review and giveaway on my Gluten Free Motherhood blog soon!

Mercy enjoying her new Ergo doll carrier from Uncle Patrick, Aunt Krista, Timothy, and Lilli.

Opening her new non-spill bubble bucket from Gilead.

Opening her new carpet sweeper from Mommy and Daddy.

It really works!

Trying out those bubbles.

A new piano from Grandma and Grandpa!

The finished Winnie the Pooh cake.  Sorry it's sideways.

Blowing out candles.

Gilead enjoying his cake.

The past three years of being Mercy's parents have been a privilege and a blessing.  We look forward to many more to come!