Sunday, September 21, 2014

Just thankful.

That's how I feel at the end of this weekend. And, there was nothing spectacular or amazing about what we did or didn't do with our time, but we were together, and I fell in love with my life a little more.

We were heading out to dinner tonight (more on that in a minute), and listening to Nina's CD from AWANAs. If your church has this program, get on it. And if your church doesn't, I would say find one that does, and GO. It's so awesome. I am so thankful for the faithful teachers at our church who have helped us raise our children in the truth by teaching them at AWANAs. So, we were listening to the story about the thankful leper.

Cliff notes: Luke 17:11-19. So, there were these 10 lepers hanging out on the road just chillin'. They couldn't really do anything else,because leprosy was a serious disease (you know,scabs and sores and oozing,yeah) ,and no one but other lepers would associate with them. All the sudden,they see Jesus coming down the road, and well, what do they have to lose? So,they start yelling out to him to have mercy on them. Jesus, ever merciful, told them to go show themselves to the priests. Well,the priests were the ones who diagnosed people with leprosy in the first place,so those instructions could have been viewed as a little weird, but they went anyway. And,on the way, their bodies healed completely of the sores! Go Jesus. So,one of them, realizing that he has been healed, comes back to Jesus to thank him. Right? I mean, your whole life has just shifted, and you no longer have to walk down the streets screaming leper so other people can move away. That's something to be thankful about. But Jesus was like, um, weren't there ten of you...? Where are the other 9? Where'd they run off to?

And that story kind of stuck in my gall. Because that's not the only time in the Bible where God values thankfulness. Heh. Tra la la...Well, for the sake of all authenticity, I can find something to complain about anytime,anyplace, get the idea.  Not one of my finer character traits, but you know, I haven't arrived yet.

And that is SO not pleasing to God. Think about the Israelite people who God led out of slavery, on a journey to the promised land. Except,they ended up wandering in the desert for 40 years because they couldn't shut their fat traps and quit complaining to the Lord about everything. Oops.

And this has been a recurring theme in my walk with the Lord over the past 2 years. I learn my lesson, then I foul it up again, then I repent, then I ... again and again. And when I am serious with myself, there are SO SO SO many things to be thankful for,I couldn't even name them all. And I'm really trying so hard to see that, acknowledge those things,and just name them out loud. And I realize that the more I give thanks, the more things I find to give thanks about. Whoa. Because if there's a cycle I want to get more into, it's naming my blessings one by one. When I have an attitude of finding the good in everything, then all of the sudden my basket is overflowing with bounty. The opposite is true,too. I get to choose. And I do like to have a little control, so that works out just fine with me.

So,this weekend (highlights),we spent some family time together on Friday night,and we were able to be a blessing to someone in need. And we ate burgers at Five Guys - which could end this whole thing right now,but I will press on. And on Saturday, I made my presentation poster for the Buddy Walk, which brought up so many warm fuzzy memories of the first year we went and Pacey was just a dream in our hearts. And I bought groceries for the week. And there was money in my account to pay for them. Whoa. And I put them in my reliable vehicle and drove them to my home. Where my husband and 3 precious children were waiting for me. And I got to hug and kiss their sweet little heads,fresh and sweet from their bath. BECAUSE WE HAVE CLEAN,RUNNING WATER. Have mercy. And on Sunday we went to church together. And we have the freedom to do that. And we took naps (Amen). And we got to have dinner with an amazing momma who is just 10 weeks home with her 2 little boys from Ukraine. And I got to be a small part of their story. And they just happened to be in town (they live in another state),and we met up. And I got to squeeze them both! And help feed one a bottle. And whisper prayers over their little heads.

I ended the evening with my heart just bursting from gratitude. I took the dog outside and I was praying and thanking the Lord for all of this,and I looked up in the sky,and the most beautiful stars were twinkling in the sky right above me.

It's just too much sometimes,when you start noticing it all. There are so many blessings raining down on us, all we need is fresh eyes to see.

Isaiah 40:26 -  Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Do you know what makes me happy? Super happy? Well, a few things,but for the purpose of this post, it would be books and paper. Oh, I love a good book, and just as much, a notebook to write things in while I'm reading said book.
This is an actual picture taken of my Pile of Stuff.

I like to have at least 5 notebooks laying around the house for my various "entries." I can get a little twitchy if I run out of paper. And thank the Lord my husband knows this about me, and will completely indulge my obsession. I mean, it gets pricey when I have to stock up on those .50 cent spiral notebooks, but he's a good man, and has agreed to stomach the cost. Bless.

SO, after lunch is over, and the kids are in their respective quiet places, I get my little Pile of Stuff (which I was going to abbreviate into POS from now on, but I considered the negative connotations and decided against), hang out on the couch, and dig in. Now, I've previously admitted that I spend some of my quiet time resting (which means sleeping), but I really like having that time beforehand to read my books.

My mom blessed us earlier this year with her old Kindle, which was brand spankin' new to us, and we all love it. As soon as I'm done in the afternoon, Nina plucks it up with her hot little hands and gets to reading. I can not complain. Today, she read Rikki Tikki Tavi, and was narrating it to Erik and I when we realized that there is a cartoon or movie of the story we remember seeing as kids. I pulled it up on YouTube, and the kids enjoyed watching it. Nina kept saying, "that is exactly what happened in the book, wow!"

I typically browse the free book section on the kindle, because, that's how we roll here, but I have splurged on a few books recently. Sidenote: Those books? Yeah.  God is really messing with my head, and the more I read about intentionality in Christendom , I am blown away. By so many things. That I can't speak about yet. Rest assured, the Lord is plucking the weeds from my overgrown garden, and giving me fresh eyes to see His purpose. There are some gems in the free book section, though! I usually try to read the reviews on the book first to see if there is anything outrageous I should watch for. I tell you what, there is nearly nothing that burns me up more than starting a good book, getting completely sucked in, and then out of nowhere, the GD word is introduced. I have to stop reading immediately, and delete it from my device. Why, why do authors even use that detestable word? Moving on.

I read an amazing book last week called Echoes of an Angel by Aquanetta Gordon. This is a poignant, touching story about a young mother trying to make it on her own with 4 young children, when she finds out that her youngest son has cancer, and has to have both eyes removed. The book travels along this amazing life story as they overcome obstacles and defeat to find out that even without eyes, you can see so much in this world. This book was amazing. It was honestly brutal, and the author makes so qualms about admitting her life wasn't perfect or easy, and she made some bad decisions along the way. (I'm really into authenticity right now, so I pretty much cheered when the book started with drug addiction.) Let's get real about those struggles, people. It looks like this book is still free on Amazon, so if you like to read, check this one out. And then Google YouTube for the videos of her son Ben Underwood. Just amazing.

Also, our bible fellowship class (this is a fancy ,new Christian term for Sunday School) just started a new study called It's Not too Late by Tony Evans. So far, I am absolutely loving it. We watched the first video on Sunday, and when he said, "God can meet you in your mess and turn it into a miracle," I swooned and nearly passed out in class. Can you do that, Lord? Because this is really a mess, and we could sure use a miracle.

I was kind of hesitant going into this study, because I absolutely did not enjoy the last one our class did at ALL. At ALL. It was called His Needs, Her Needs by Willard Harley. It was about satisfying each others needs to have an affair proof marriage. I just thought it was straight kooky. Not going to lie - I pretty much checked out the first few weeks, and retained nothing from it. Sorry. Not perfect. I remember one video we watched where he was talking about how the husband should approve the wife's makeup/ style/ clothing/ overall look. He was talking about how he goes shopping with his wife and approves each outfit based on what he thinks looks good for her overall style and look. He recommended all men do that for their ladies. Yeah. It was like that pretty much the whole time, and for the life of me , I just kept thinking... uh, kids... people are perishing to hell rightthisminute because they've never experienced the Word of God, and this is how we're using our discipleship time? To talk about make up approval? I'd rather scrub my face and smear ashes all over it, thankyouverymuch. Anyway, it was a short study, thank goodness, and it's over, never to be seen again. And confession? The first week of class, I threw my book into the bottom of my purse and the next day my water bottle flooded said bottom of purse, and I had to throw my book away, and I replaced it never.

I really love our BF class. I love our teachers, the other couples in there, and growing and learning together. I am so encouraged by the new growth that I see in that class each week, despite the fact that our church is going through a struggle. I am praying that God will instill a passion inside of us, to spur each other on towards the gospel.  I think this new study by Tony Evans is going to be perfect for Erik and I to work through. The fact that the first week is about Moses, who is my favorite bible character , is just icing on the cake.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Listen, I love my kids. I so do. And what surprises me the most about them is how different they all are despite the fact that they've been raised in the same family. Although, I guess each child is born into a new family because the dynamic changes each time. ( I realize that Pace was adopted - so he does have some other things going for him that we didn't have much to do with.)

My girls,though? Born three years and 20 days apart,and just as different as the sun and moon. Nina (7 1/2) is the biggest of the bunch,and if there is one thing I love about her (which there's not,there's so many things I love about that child), it's her creativity and heart. She comes up with some of the most amazing creations in her free time. I am a firm believer in boredom! I can only do so much facilitating and entertaining before I expect my children to take over and use their noodle to come up with something.

Now, Nina clearly has the advantage in this department because she was the first,and had to get used to having a sibling when she was 3. Being the oldest,she's always had a bit of an independent streak,and has done quite well playing by herself. When she was a bit over 2, I found out I was pregnant again. I knew that I needed to do some training to get her ready for the new baby. So, we bought her a few special toys and CD's, and put her in her room each night for some time to play alone. I would put in books on CD (Mickey Mouse was a huge favorite, followed by Winnie the Pooh). I can still see her sitting on that little rug playing with her toys and listening to her book. We started slowly, but by the time Tillie was born,I could put her in her room for 30 minutes while I showered, ate, nursed or did whatever else I needed to do,and she was completely content to play alone.

Tillie hasn't been so lucky in this department because she has always known life with a big sister, and is still hard pressed at 4 1/2 to play alone.

So, during the day, we have a mandated quiet time across the house. It's roughly from 1:30-3:45. Pace sleeps, and the girls have to adhere to quiet time. There are a whole list of approved activities that they can engage in, however they must be quiet and not talk to mommy. Tillie just recently gave up naps, but there are still days where she has to rest instead of playing. I can pretty much tell by 9am what type of day it's going to be for her.

The scenario above happened one day last week. She made a bad choice and had to nap. Nina was all on her own, as I am "off duty" during this time,and will ANSWER TO NO ONE. OK,sorry. I'm a little protective of my time. So, Nina decided to hang out in the office. When quiet time was over,she told me she had done a room make-over,and invited me in. And that little gal,well,she turned the office into a "castle."

She dug around in the craft drawers,and found some princess decorations. She made them all, decorated them, and hung them on the ceiling fan. She drug her hugely heavy lamp in there for a spot light, set up a throne, and a stool at her right hand for Princess Tillie. She had gone into my closet and found a dress she wanted to wear that would fit her queen status, and Tillie got to wear her Anna from Frozen dress. It was SO cute. Honestly. And I did not hear one peep out of her the whole time. Unfortunately, I did NOT get a picture. I thought it would stay like that for a few days,so I didn't capture it. I was wrong. The next day, she took all her decor down, and made the room into a detective agency. She found a new outfit from my closet to wear, moved some furniture around ( I don't know, either, she's stronger than she looks) and had a desk set up, with her lamp next to her. She had made spy glasses and some other goodies, and she recruited Tillie to help her do some spying. The chose Pacey, and had a good time reporting on his shenanigans.... MOM, Pace just stuck his hand in the plant and got dirt everywhere!!!!! MOMMMMMM, Pace just threw a toy in the trashcan. MOMMMMMMMMA, get in here right now!!!!!!Pace just climbed to the top of the bunk bed ladder!!!!!!!!! I probably should have paid them after all that work. No picture of this,either, but trust me that it was really funny.

Today, the room got a new make- over,and I got a picture. I finally wised up and realized that the room wouldn't stay like it was for long,so I better get in there. Today, she made a rock star studio. She cut strips of paper together,and hung them from the fan. It looked pretty cool with the fan turned on. She made a guitar and Tillie got to be the back up singer. The whole scene made me laugh.

Please don't come here for the stellar photography. It's non-existent. My camera is barely worthy of being called as such,and the second picture is WITH the flash ON. This is true. But,you can see they were having fun with their streamers hanging from the ceiling rocking out. I have to chuckle a little, because, really, this is the most boring room in the house with only 2 pieces of furniture (desk and hope chest)- not a toy in sight, yet they've been playing in there for 3 days with nary a complaint. Kids!

And when the room make over was over, Nina took everything down and gently put in in a plastic bag so she will have some stuff made her for next adventure! :)

Saturday, August 23, 2014


I will no longer be titling my posts,because,well I'm just beyond that point of cleverness. Be content,people. This mediocre writing takes all of my creative juices.

So,I changed the title of my blog from Living Out Love to The Empty Pages. You noticed? Oh,good.

Well,one day I was listening to the radio and I heard this song from Francesca Battestilli (a christian artist) called Write Your Story.

The lyrics briefly say:

I'm an empty page
I'm an open book
Write your story on my heart
Come on and make your mark.

It just made SO much sense to me. I have no idea what the Lord has planned for our family,but there is something so safe and secure knowing I can just rest in Him,and these empty pages will be filled up.

 Here's a video of the song I referenced above. It's so good. Give it a listen.

In other news, the weather here is brutal this summer. The high today was 100, same percentage humidity, and we all melted. The heat advisory lasted until 10 p.m. Geez. I'm ready for some cooler temperatures, but this is the deep south,and so I will settle for anything less than 90 at this point.

We let the kids play out in the sprinklers for a bit before lunch,in hopes that they might run off some energy and take naps during quiet time. The only ones tired were Erik and I. Isn't that the way it goes? I can pretty much promise that I laid on the couch for 0.004 seconds before my head flopped over and a steady stream of drool made its way down my chin. I'm not as young as I once was - thank you Toby Keith for that bit of wisdom.

I then went grocery shopping,sans kids (they got movie time), and when I got home,the ice cream was soup. And not milkshake like,either. More like water. My car said it was 114 degrees when I got in. I think I went into the store with a sweat stain on my butt. Luckily, I had a little ice cream left from last week (mint chocolate chip!), so I was able to cool off once I got home.

On that note, it's time to turn in for the night. We have an early morning wake up call so that we can go to a pancake breakfast at church tomorrow. I will wake up at nearly anytime for some pancakes and syrup. Are you with me? :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Oh. Hi there.

It's me. And no,I don't think I've been hacked. I believe *I* am actually posting on my blog.

Novel concept,huh?

OK, so let's just completely disregard that I haven't blogged for an ENTIRE year. 365 days. To the day. I might have planned that. Or I didn't,and just stumbled onto this ghost town about a month ago,and thought about resurrecting these dry bones.

But,here's some good news:

We're alive. Beyond that, I've got nothing. OK,maybe a few things. Or a lot of things. Or too many things to discuss. We'll see. One of the options will win out.

So,you might be wondering...what y'all been up to over the past 12 months? (We live in the deep south,everything is y'all. Please excuse this about me. It's endearing. Or whatever.)

Welllllllll. I'm going to tell you. Sort of. Maybe not today. Or tomorrow,but suffice it to say, this has been the biggest, wildest, craziest year of our families life SO FAR. And,I make sure to say so far because I have this weird feeling that the Holy Spirit has only just begun wreaking absolute havoc on our family. All for His glory,right?

HA! HA. Ha. ha.  Oh,excuse me for laughing,but if you've ever been in the palm of God's hand, you know that it's not exactly a comfortable place to be. Opposite,really.

I have pretty much decided that the only way we can testify to the fact that Jesus hasn't given up on us yet,is to share the story as it evolves , which is so scary,because what if we fall flat on our faces- like,just in general?

Well,I guess that's why we're walking by faith. Sure of what we hope for,but certain of what we do not see. And believe me when I say,there is SO SO much we do not see.

Which is why, if you will notice, my blog has been re-named The Empty Pages. Truly,no idea. I can't even fathom where this train is rolling to next,but the book is open,and we're ready to write this next chapter just as soon as God hands us a pen.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Erik,we really need to get the camera out and get some more picture of Pacey."

I can promise I say this every 2-3 days,but the camera rarely leaves its spot. Can.not.even.

I am trying to accept this busy season in our lives,and go with it,but I've never been real good at that. Erik is more of a go with the flow type of person,and he tries to counsel me on this concept,but it's lost on me most of the time. I am trying not to be SO hard on myself. I really do hold myself to high standards,and have a hard time when things don't go the way I think or envision they will go. At the end,it's only me who gets let down. Being a military wife,I just "suck it up and soldier on",but I'm finding that's not always the best way to do it. I did talk to Erik about some things I am struggling with,and he came up with some ideas that will help me to feel better physically and mentally.

As many of you know,who are longtime readers of this blog,I used to be obese and lost around 100 pounds. This happened a few years ago when Erik was deployed,and I had been doing well on maintaining that weight loss. However,my emotional state has been less than stable lately,and I found myself reverting to those old ways. I gained a few pounds,and said...oh,not a big deal,I can drop that quickly. Then,it was a few more,and I thought I might need to address the issue,but before I knew it,I was up over 15 pounds,and my clothes were SO tight I could barely fit them. How's that for embarrassing? I know I have a tendency to overeat,but it really came to a head. I was indulging in treats at night after the kids went to bed,to "reward" myself for surviving the day.

Not a good idea.

Now,I'm trying to undo the damage I did there. It's so hard. I'm trying to be more active during the day,and really watch what I eat. I'm using myfitnesspal to track my calories. I'm getting ready to turn 30 , and I know that I need to straighten it up before I end up being 200 pounds again.

In other news, Erik's going to school for the next 5 weeks,so he's off duty at the house. ;) The kids and I are making things work,although we miss daddy already. For some reason,Pacey responds better to him than me,so it's kind of tough dealing with the behavior problems on my own.

Speaking of,I just had to interrupt this blog post to go clean up puke (Pacey). Shenanigans,always shenanigans!

Well,only about a week more of craziness,and then we're headed to Gigi's house! Woo woo! Since Erik's working so hard,we're going to take a little vacay to give momma a break.

Friday, July 26, 2013

14 months and 3 months home!

Sorry about the long time between posts. I'm sure it would be pointless to tell you all that we've been quite busy,but there is a reason why I don't hop on and update as much as I like.

Summer hasn't been quite as fun as normal,but we are trying to tick off as many specialists as we can,and get into a good routine so that when Fall comes around and activities start back up,it won't be quite as hectic.

So far we've seen the ophthalmologist and Pacey's eyes are great. We won't see them again until he's 3 or so. We've also seen the cardiologist and we won't see them ever,because P has a perfect heart. Now,THAT is a huge relief. We are working with an ENT doctor and having monthly hearing tests to make sure that the fluid is his ears aren't causing any hearing loss. We originally went to an audiologist,and she said that Pacey had hearing loss. Well,when she was doing the test,she kept calling his name. At this point,he had only been home for about 6 weeks,and he wasn't really responding to it. I told the lady to make noises and he would respond,but she was less than helpful. When we went to the ENT,he was doing a much better job of responding to name and noise,and he passed with flying colors. Children with DS have notoriously small ear canals,so we have to be extra careful about the canals and keeping them clear so that he can hear well. The only specialist we have to continue to see is the gastro doctor. He deals with the reflux issues. We first tried out Zantac,but that was a joke,and the vomiting didn't decrease at all. So,they are trying us on Prilosec...which is helping,but we still have spit up every single day. However,it's the only real MEDICAL issue that we have,so I'm not complaining about that.

We are also seeing a Speech,Physical and Occupational therapist once a week,and the state Early Intervention program comes twice a month. OK,confession. They aren't that helpful- any of them. But,we take what help we can get. I keep Pacey on a pretty aggressive program of my own,and when we go to therapy,I find that I'm sitting there thinking....this is pointless. Fir instance,speech therapy is mostly where Pacey sits in a little highchair and the ST rolls cars in front of him and says vroom,vroom. Then,she brings out bubbles and blows them while she says pop,pop. I's silly. I don't want to ever feel like I didn't do enough,though.

When it comes to gross motor skills,Pacey does very well. He is hands and knees crawling like a pro,and we goal to have him crawl 1/4th mile a day,which is roughly 35 times around this little track I made through the house. I don't have him do it all at once,we break it up,but crawling is good for the brain,so it's a must. I am also trying to add more fine motor skills to our day,because he was really lacking in that area. We play with blocks,and work on putting them in the bucket,take them out,pass them back and forth between hands. He thinks its torture because I won't let him throw the toys. ;)

Also,we have been working really hard on oral skills. He is now drinking from a straw,which wasn't too hard to teach. It's good for the oral muscles to be able to suck from a straw,and since he just turned 14 months,I was ready to take him off the bottle during the day. I am still doing one at night to help strengthen the bonding. Juice boxes were a big help in getting the straw going. And,here's some interesting information for those adopting a child with DS. They don't know how to chew,or learn how to chew like neurotypical kids. It's so strange. I was just feeding Pacey food thinking he was doing fine when the ST told me that he was actually "munching" which is what it's called when you chew with your front teeth. DOH! I didn't even realize. So,I've had to start working really hard with getting his jaw to chew the food. He can,but I have to hold my finger in the back of his mouth to facilitate the chewing. The problem is that DS children have low muscle tone,and it usually causes the tongue to be very weak to move the food to the back of the mouth. I do not want him to chew with his front teeth,so I'm working on it,but I have a feeling that I will be sitting with my finger in his mouth for a loooooooooooooong time.

Gosh,looking back over this update,it doesn't seem very interesting.

Here's what you really want to know. Is Pacey doing better? Well,yes and no. I did notice a big shift in attachment between months 2 and 3. He seems to understand that I am his momma,and I will meet his needs. He does calm quickly when I hold him,and he will crawl to me over other people. We still "cocoon" him quite a bit,and do not let other people hold him. Sometimes people with DS can be overly affectionate with strangers,and we don't want to start that. A lot of people ask to hold him,but I just politely decline and it has gone well so far. He doesn't reach for people standing close by anymore,and he doesn't go up to strangers. If we go to story time at the library,he will sit on the floor near me,and won't wander. Also,the stimming is so much better. Now,you will hear 2 schools of thoughts on this,but we are in the camp that we must stop stimming,no matter what. It's not appropriate or helpful,so we make him stop. I've had to get creative,but we have seen a huge improvement. The only things we still deal with is hair pulling (his own) and thumb biting. The rocking,head shaking,and teeth grinding have stopped (mostly-very occasionally he will revert).

On the other hand....Pacey is very intense. I describe him as being a house on fire,and I'm just trying to contain the fire. It's still really hard,and let me be honest,there are times when I HAVE to walk away...sometimes outside. It is hard,hard,hard. I get so down on myself sometimes,because he is just a baby,and I am the adult,but I want to just lay in the floor and cry sometimes LOL. I also feel sorry for the girls sometimes because they are so good with him,but sometimes I think we all just want a break.....from the screaming and mania that surrounds him at times.

I still maintain that we are just taking things one day at a time,and we don't think beyond that.

PS- Sorry that I don't have new picture. My laptop is being repaired right now,so I'm using Eriks!