Thursday, February 26, 2009

Things I Love Thursday- Dollar Tree Deals!

I probably frequent my favorite dollar store (The Dollar on Canal) a little too often. I usually don't have a strong need to go in there- its just so much fun. Well, today I did have a mission to get some cleaning products and a treat for Izzy since she was so good as I did some jean shopping (not my favorite thing to do!). I'm not sure why I never paid attention before, but they had a whole rack of these wall stickers (Brand: Main Street Wall Creations). Anyways, they had a bunch of different colors, shapes, characters (even those famous princesses!). I found this cute bunch of flowers and butterflies. They were all on one sheet. This entire little project cost me= $1!!!! I couldn't believe it. I was so thrilled. They went on the wall perfectly. Just like a normal sticker. They peel off when you're done with them without hurting the wall. (I had to peel one off because it was crooked and it came off great- and it even reattached!). While these aren't as classy as say the Li.ving brand- they are sure fun. For a buck- I'm willing to try just about anything anywhere. I love my dollar t.ree!!!!
Oh, and here is the finished product! I couldn't believe how well it matched her bedding! Oh, and this little scene has lots of great deals. Lamp- Tar.get from her crib days. Bedding- Koh.l's (60% + additional 30% when I used my khol's charge. Mattresses- free from family. Headboard- free from family. Bookshelf- Goodwill $5. Decorative Pillows on Bed- Goodwill $2 each.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Out of the fog

This is a post I've been meaning/wanting to write for quite sometime. Its not a story most know. Its not something I readily share- until now. I'm finally ready. You see- I'm finally out of a fog. It is a place I've been in ever since Isabelle was born.

To note: I never received any treatment of any kind, talked to any medical professional, nor had any 'official' diagnosis. This is just my explanation of where I've been and where I'm going.

As many know, Isabelle was not exactly a 'planned' child. She was conceived about 4.5 months after we were married. God's version of a surprise party on the "I hate surprises" me. It was a tough thing to swallow. Those first few months of pregnancy were not the most fun. On top of the all day sickness- I was feeling like a failure (because I had gotten pregnant). I wanted out. Luckily, I was able to learn the importance of surrender. I surrender all has been my mantra since. While I warmed up to the idea of being a mommy earlier than I had wanted, my future career as an elementary school teacher was pushed aside indefinetly. One, I wanted to be a stay at home mom, and two, laws changed and I was no longer a valid teacher in Michigan. Surrender to God's plan and not my own #2.

I was filled with excitement and anticipation at the end of my pregnancy- ready for the adventure God had put us on. Unfortunately, the birth did not go as I planned (ok God, I think I'll learn my lesson eventually!). After a day of hard labor, I ended up with an unplanned c-section. I had not prepared at all for this option. I have birthing hips! I never imagined having a difficult time giving birth! Well, it wasn't my hips that were the problem- but for some reason or another, my body wouldn't progress like it needed to. I realize now that the c-section probably saved my life and the life of Isabelle- and for that I am grateful.

The first few days of life were tiring, sore, but pretty good. Isabelle screamed her first night at home- but other than that was a great baby. She took to nursing like a champ. Sometime around day 7-10 (its all a blur to be honest) I started getting highly emotional. I was a train wreck. I was aware of "baby blues" and the lack of hormonal release during a c-section causing some problems- but I was not aware of this! From that first week to about month 5 or 6 was an utter blur. I couldn't tell you much about what happened, what Izzy did, nothing. I could barely function in large groups. I hated even getting together for a family dinner with Paul's side of the family. The chaos was too much. The only place I felt comfortable was at home alone in the quiet and stillness. My emotions never died down. I would get angry fast, cry at the drop of a hat. It was something that was beyond me for control. I remember evenings of nursing Izzy and not being able to stop sobbing. I didn't feel like myself. I didn't look like myself. I had horrible thoughts and visions of doing horrible things. Satan saw a crack- and spread it wide open.

Up to this point, Paul kind of knew what was going on. He tried his best to help. He prayed. He comforted me as best as he could. But there is only so much he could do. I had a daughter who refused bottles and pacifiers. I was the only source of comfort for her. Even when I couldn't take care of myself, I had to take care of her.

I did not have a good relationship with my doctors. We were on an insurance plan that did everything "in house". No primary care physicans. You mainly saw PA for everyday stuff. They had MD's for their OBGYN care- but they only had a training course for it- not special degrees. They had made some mistakes with my care while pregnant and birth. We were in the process of switching insurances and doctors at this point in time. Needless to say, even if I could have articulated what I was feeling- I would not have been comfortable talking to anyone in that office.

I was aware of post partum depression. I think I was asked about it. I'm sure they gave me a flier in the expecting brochures. I just couldn't even think that route. My mind was not clear. Plus, I had already failed at getting pregnant early on, I couldn't be a failure as a mother!

Months past. The horrible thoughts started to fade. Emotions stayed strong. I lost the ability to think before speaking, but tried my best to surrender it. Paul and I found ways to work around different problems I was having. We had strategies for being in crowds. Most of all, we prayed. We prayed that this would all go away. We believed, and still do to this day, that Satan was on the attack. He wanted to dissolve our marriage. He wanted to prevent me from being well and glorifying the Lord. He wanted us to be miserable. He wanted to break our spirits.

I can now say that about 9-12 months ago, this fog began to lift! I suddenly started thinking clearer again. I could control my emotions. I was enjoying Isabelle. I was enjoying groups of people- not getting overwhelmed in chaos. I don't know if what I had was post partum depression. I know its real. I know its out there. I know even some of the strongest, most God fearing women struggle with it. If I had to venture a guess- I would say, yeah, I had post partum depression. Its a humbling thought. I'm generally a happy person- how could I be depressed if I have the love of the Lord? I don't know why I had to go through that desert or what that desert was even called. It doesn't really matter I suppose what label it has. The fact is: I went through that desert, but because of the love of my husband, the power of prayer, and the faithfulness of my Lord- this fog is lifting.

As we enter the next phase of life I have a few final thoughts. Some may ask: what helped you get out of this fog?
1) Prayer- never underestimate its power
2) Love- my husband never strayed, never gave up. My Lord loves me and won't let me be crushed. Satan will be defeated.
3) Serving. Now I know this one sounds weird. But, for many months I was so consumed with myself and trying to get out of this fog I couldn't take the leap to start serving others. Finally, I pulled the trigger. I started out in women's ministry and then ended up where I believe God was really calling me- to children's ministry. I was able to serve God, my church, and the children using talents and skills God has given me. Serving brought so much joy that it counter-acted any of the negative emotions I was facing. I needed to bring action to my healing. It was something Satan did not want. Nearly every Saturday afternoon before I left to serve in Discovery Village- I would feel so sick. I would have headache or Izzy wouldn't nap well. I pushed forward knowing it was Satan trying to keep me from serving and from healing. Every night I would return home from DV energized and renewed. Serving help the fog lift.
4) Admiting and Rejoicing. The final step I feel I needed to make in order to help this fog lift was announce my struggle. I admitted my struggle to a select few. Now I rejoice in God's deliverance from it. The fog has finally been lifted!!!

I'll admit- there are days that I still struggle. Days that are so emtionally overhwhelming that I just want to sleep it off. But its getting better. I now struggle with the future. We are discussing the possibility of making Izzy a big sister. I would love another baby. I want to find out what those early months are really like. I have more love to share. But I am afraid. I am afraid that this fog will come back. Scratch that- I will not be fearful!!!! What am I typing??? God is with me. I now know what to expect and Paul knows what to expect. I have a great new doctor that I will feel comfortable talking with. I also have a great support system. Ok, so I am not fearful- just, um....wondering. Yeah, wondering what the future holds.

Thanks for listening. Or reading. If anyone else has experienced this fog- let me know- it will be great to hear from your experiences!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jury Duty, God's Blessings, God's Lessons

Welcome to the most random post of the century.

So, I'm on jury duty this week. Or at least I'm on call. I have to call in each day after 5pm to see if I have to report for the next day.
So far, no problems. No duty today or tomorrow. We'll see what the rest of the week holds.

Paul and I are singing praises this week. God has been so faithful to us and has really prospered the business. I'm not saying life is a patch of roses, we have our moments, our shortfalls. But God has continued to provide for us- nearly to the dollar and day we needed it. This week God has shown his provision again. As Paul's car is in pretty desperate need of repair, God is providing 3 closings this week!!!! Praise Him!!!! Also, Paul had two purchase agreements signed over the weekend! Praise Him from whom all blessings flow!!!!! We are so thankful to be in a state of too much to do. I reminded Paul just this morning as he left stressed and overwhelmed on his day off that we need to be thankful to have these blessings. I share this not to flaunt success- but to Praise our Heavenly father for all that He is doing through us and for us.

Speaking of our Heavenly Father- I got a little lesson from the Big Daddy upstairs last week. I attend and enjoy my weekly ladies Bible study at church. I was a leader last year, but decided to serve in a different facet and just joined a group this year. Well, last week Tuesday, I realized I needed to do my lesson for Wednesday morning during naptime. Well, I really really really wanted to play Mario Kart instead. I've never been a video gamer- but I have had so much with our w.ii. Well, I half heartedly did my lesson- not really focusing or thinking about its meaning- doing just enough to fill in an answer for each question. Lo and behold my leader calls me at about 8pm tuesday night saying that her daughter was sick. She asked me to lead for her in the morning. Hahaha!!! Ok God. I get it. Focus on my priorities. So, instead of doing my lesson consideretly in the afternoon- I end up in a cram session that night. Don't you just love those lessons from our Father?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Snow, Snow, Snow

When will this end? I know its still February. I know its still technically winter. I'm sure the ski places are just happy as clams around here. Maybe I was spoiled with the 50 degree weather. I'm just so bummed to see this out my window this morning.

Ugh. Welcome to the frozen tundra we call home.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

100th Post???

Wow- I was going to do a random post today- come to find out this is my 100th Post! Seems like there should be hats, streamers, and maybe some cake...then again, maybe not.

Since life is rather busy, I guess I will save a grand, remarkable, mind blowing post for some other time.

Life is busy because I have been selected for Federal Jury Duty! I got the notice in the mail back in November. I am part of the jury pool for next week. I could get called in every day and get put on some major trial- or sit at home and not get called in at all.

Can I say how much I hate the unknown. I have childcare lined up for each day if needed. Luckily, I find out the night before if I have to report the next day.

But since I don't know what life will look like next week, I'm a busy gal. I'm trying to clean, prepare some meals, get the banking done, etc.

I am looking forward to serving my country by sitting on a jury- while our system has it flaws- at least we have a system!!! I will do my patriotic duty and be willing to decide guilt or innocence or liablity. I hope that it doesn't go past next week- because lets face it- its not like I have a boss who has to let me off work to do this. My "boss" is 2.5 years old and isn't so keen on long absences or change or unpredictablity.

We'll see what next week holds!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Things I love Thursday- Kitchen Scissors

Its Thursday! That means only 1 day until Friday, The Office, and of course, Things I Love Thursday from The Diaper Diaries!
This week I will share my love of kitchen scissors. I have always enjoyed using kitchen scissors. They are great for just about anything cooking related. I open bags, puncture seals, and even trim the fat off meat! They are so much easier to use when chunking raw meat for stir fry. I will never use a knife for cutting up meat again! But as a mom, I have found new and glorious reasons for why I love my kitchen shears. They cut pizza like a charm- without making the cheese fall of. You can do a quick 'snip snip' in the bowl of pasta thats just a little too large for little mouths. You can cut those pancakes or any other food item into bite size pieces in just seconds! I have tried the pizza cutter thing, but I found it to be a pain unless I was using it on a completely flat surface. Scissors know no boundries!
I have two pairs of scissors that are often washed multiple times a day. One pair is a pretty typical pair that came with a knife set or something. It works well for most food and projects. When I need to do something a little more heavy duty or when working with raw meats, I love to use my Chicago Cutlery shears . They are super sharp, high quality, and the blades come apart! This way I can give them a real good washing and disenfecting after cutting the raw chicken! And they are so affordable! (amazon currently has them for 7.99!)
Kitchen scissors are a must have for any cook, especially if you name is Mom.
Go over to The Diaper Diaries for more Things I Love Thursdays.
*FYI, I'm not paid or asked to endorsed any product. These are ones that work for me and that I love. No reinbursment here! Just my own happiness!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Things I Love Thursday- Bar Keepers Friend Stovetop Cleaner

One of my new favorite blogs is The Diaper Diaries. I found her through her Mom at church. She is hilarious! She also has this great bloggy roll called Things I love Thursdays. I thought (now that I'm an out of the closet fan not just a creepy lurker :) ) that I would take my first stab at it!

I have an archnemesis in my home. It is my stove top. My husband purchased and finished the condo we live in before we were married. He purchased the appliances without the help of any wise council- aka mom, sisters, some womanly influence. He purchased the cheapest appliances he could find, and the most part they do the trick- but this stove top and I have had a rough relationship. Its a flat/glass top whatever stove that most electric ranges are nowadays. However, instead of the usual gray or black- it is white. Sure, it looks nice, bue let me tell you how quickly that white turns every shade of dinner and burnt remnants of it! I cannot keep this stove clean for the life of me. It was always dirty and showed every single speck of over boil and pasta sauce. I'm not a clean freak- but it was always gross to look at. The white- the madness of it all! That is, until I met my new best friend

My archnemesis has been conquered. My new best friend is Bar Keeper's Friend. My old stove top cleaner was only pulled out when I needed the house sparkling. It took so much elbow grease and my trusty razor blade to even come close to a clean surface. Too much work for just everyday spills. Bar Keeper's Friend is a powder- sprinkle a little on a slightly damp surface and wipe with a slightly damp rag. Tada! I hardly have to use any elbow grease. On rare occasions do I even need to get out my trust razor blade to scrape away burnt dinner residue. Sprinkle a little on and the stains are gone!

I think the relationship between my stove top and I will be repaired. It may take time and council- but we'll manage. As for the hubby- well, next time we'll go appliance shopping together.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A blog you must check out...

I don't even remember how I stumbled on this blog- but I've got to tell you- you have got to check it out.

Christian Family (Dad is a pastor) out in Colorado.
They have like 5 biological children.
She has/had M.S.- but God has healed her
They felt the call to adopt.
They now have 4 adoptive children and 1 on the way from China.
Their Chinese children have special needs.
They brought home two infant/toddlers from Africa just 4 weeks ago.
They left their large dream home to simplify life.

Their little log cabin house burned to the ground on January 14th.

They need prayers. For healing. For a home (no one wants to rent to a family with so many children!). For ease in their adoption of their daughter from China. For protection. Just check it out.

Monday, February 2, 2009

My daughter will never learn to read...

...or I will shield her eyes in every supermarket checkout lane. I have come to this stunning conclusion after standing in line for 20 minutes at Mei*jer this afternoon. Now, I'm well aware of the many suggestive covers, and headline innuendos that grace the cover of many magazines in your typical checkout lane, but I was not nearly prepared for the headline on the cover of So*ap Ope*ra Dig*est. "so and so.....HAVE S*X!!!" Never before have I seen such a bold headline in such a bold place. Unbelievable! Now in this lane, this magazine was more at my eye level, so who knows how many 3-4 foot tall kiddos saw this headline- but my gracious! How awful.

I was thankful when they started putting blue plastic covers over the Co*smo rack simply becuase the innuendos were getting to be a little much and the covers, well, I'm sure you can imagine. But this headline has just stirred my anger a little bit.

As most mothers, I look forward to the progress and development that my daughter makes along the way. I share in her excitement as she learns something new. However, I am now utterly fearful of the ability to read! I can protect her ears and eyes from most things now. I can control what she sees on the tv, what books she reads, etc. I had no idea I was going to have to blindfold her (and maybe myself) while waiting to pay for our groceries.

Innuendos I can handle- they are discreet enough unless you know what they mean. But if my 6 year old sees a headline and starts sounding it out, then proceeds to ask what it means- yikes. I want to be in control of when and how my child is introduced to such a senstive matter.

So, if Izzy never learns to read- you know why.

Book Review: The Great Eight

Scott Hamilton is one of my favorite athletes. In my prime "figure skating fan" years- he was the highlight of every pro show and the infamous "stars on ice" tour. How much I loved his energetic programs! I remember when he was diagnosed with his initial cancer and was saddened by his more recent brain cancer. I have read his autobiography, so I was intrigued by his now apparent conversion to Christianity and learn further insights into his experiences.

The Great Eight: How to be Happy (Even When You Have Every Reason to be Miserable) was a very quick read. Written in a simple, conversation style makes you feel as you were sharing a table at a local coffee shop with Scott, sipping on a mocha while he shares his heart. While simple in its expression, Scott's writing and thoughts are incredibly honest, transparent, and admirable. Sharing stories from his past (childhood, world and olympic skating, and pro career) are lessons he has learned along the way. I believe that Scott has every reason to be miserable, but he has found true happiness- Joy in Jesus Christ. His keys to happiness are written into memorable soundbytes like "Think Positive...and Smile like Krisit Yamaguchi" and "Trust your Almighty Coach".

I would recommend this book to most people looking for a quick, uplifiting read. Don't expect to come away with a life-changing set of thoughts and skills. Almost every point has a figure skating slant to it- so if you are no fan of the sport- this probably is not the book for you! Scott's points are right on- and most of them could be Biblically based- but the book itself lacks the depth to make the connections.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Great Eight and pray that Scott will use his popularity and influence to be a shining light for Christ in whatever he does and wherever he goes.