Monday, March 31, 2008

An advertisement for good dental hygiene

I had my first root canal/crown back in November. I expected myself to be virtually fearless because I worked as a dental assistant for three summers in college. I know the routine and it typically does not bother me to get the shot and hear the drill. So, I had the root canal and experienced dental trepidation for the first time. I felt like my head was lower than my feet when they were working. It made me a bit light-headed. There was so much in my mouth like a wedge to "rest" my jaw on, a tent around the tooth, and a plethora of drills and equipment. I am a bit claustrophobic, so all of these made me nervous. And I found it hard to swallow with my mouth full and open. I remember blinking hard, taking deep breaths, and thinking, "Oh, this is what all the fuss is about!". But, of course, in the end I made it through the procedure.

Later that month I went to my dentist to get prepped for a crown. By now, this is my fourth dental visit over this little tooth. I had gone first to access the problem and they had treated it with a filling. Secondly, I went back with pain and they said I need the root canal. Then I had the root canal, of course. And now I am in for the fourth time. This was the smoothest visit. They work, give me a "temporary tooth", and they tell me to come back in two weeks for the "real crown". This is when it all goes down hill.

The fifth visit I go in to what I believed to be my final visit for this tooth. By now, I have shucked out $2500 from our meager budget and another $50 on all of the babysitters. I am ready to be done and move on! But...the "real crown" did not fit. So, they put the old temporary tooth back on and I make another appointment for three weeks later. By this time, it is January and I am still waiting for my tooth to be fixed.

I come back three weeks later (early February) and the tooth fits. Over the course of the next couple of weeks it begins to hurt more and more. I go back again for the seventh visit and they say my "bite" needs to be adjusted. This only took five minutes and I am done. Easy solution. I am very happy. But...the tooth continues to hurt. It hurts when I chew and when I tap my tooth. My cheek begins to hurt.

So I go back for my eighth visit, now to a new dentist. He tells me it is abscessed and there is bone damage. He wants me to see an oral surgeon. I will not even describe the procedure he recommended, but I will tell you it involved a long needle and made the root canal sound like a walk in the park. At this point, I am determined to see the dentist that performed the root canal. I am unwilling to spend one more penny on this silly tooth.

So, I go back to the root canal doctor and he agrees that the tooth is abscessed. He proceeds to redo the root canal. I can not tell you how nervous I was to have this procedure repeated! When he had given me four shots and drilled for thirty minutes he stops and tells me that he needs to order a new tool and I will have to come back in two weeks. Let me just say I LOST it! I took everything out of my mouth; the drill, the mirror, the ring and tent around the tooth, as well as the earphones and the sunglasses. I sat up and began sobbing. Once the first tear hit my cheek I was out of control. I sat there with my eyes closed, face numbed to just below each eye, nose dripping, tears rolling for a good ten minutes. It was SO embarrassing, but it felt good. The dentist had no idea what to do. There was some awkward back pats and reassurances. But they just made me more angry.

And that brings us up to now. Last Thursday I went in for my tenth trip to fix this tooth. The dentist finally completed the root canal and sent me on my way with an antibiotic. The tooth still hurts, but I think I have decided to let them pull it if this doesn't work. Ten dental trips, one tiny tooth. Am I being ungracious, or do you agree with me that teeth are not rocket science? They are bones and nerves. It's not like working on the brain. Really, y'all, don't you think this story is the craziest thing? What in the world could the Lord being trying to teach me through all of this chaos? And at what point do you let grace and patience fly out the window and allow yourself to be demanding and insistant and, well, throw a fit?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A year and a half

Beautiful girl,
The past year and a half have been so fulfilling. You have added laughter, affection and new wonder to our house. Honestly, I had no idea how exhausting three little ones would be. But at the same time, I feel like I am living a dream. I love my life, and part of the reason for that is you. You are stubborn,willful, and insistant. But your hugs, kisses and precious words are refreshing. I adore you, my little shadow. My prayers for you are that you would find sweet, rich life in our Saviour, that you would continue to use your words to enrich others, and that you would humbly use your strength and beauty for His kingdom. You are a wonderful daughter, better than I could have dreamed!
Much love,

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New and improved pantry

A couple of years ago I heard a speaker on natural and personal gifts. The topic was light and fun. I learned a lot about myself and what I could contribute to those around me. We took a personality test, which I had never done before. Most people have heard of these tests and can state very matter-of-factly what 4-letter-acronym category they fall under. I am an ENFJ. In a nutshell I am an extroverted-dreamer-feeler-organizer. Today I saw my personality expressed to its fullest. As I was dreaming of our homeschooling classroom next year, connecting every positive feeling to the memories I hope to make, I ran around in my pantry chatting with my best friend on the phone and organizing/labelling like a crazy woman. (Thanks, Kim, for sharing the ideas you found in the article about the organized pantry with me this past weekend. I felt very inspired!)

Why do the pictures below make me giddy? Having a place, a labeled place, for everything makes me so much more at ease. I feel free to dream big and laugh more. Am I crazy?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Easter, friends

"Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay...And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:5,6,20

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Who knew?

...that Jaybird could be such a brilliant public speaker? He recited his poem flawlessly. Today was a day I will always remember because it was a big milestone in our boy's life. At home before the big eventToot gives Jaybird a pat on the back

Besides his poem, we heard approximately 20 others. I was beyond impressed, flabbergasted, with the performances we saw! Among those were the Martin Luther King, Jr. "I have a dream" speech, beautiful poetry from Stevenson, Longfellow, Carroll, Whitman and Kipling. There was even one boy that got to re-enact a scene from "We are Marshall". Here are a few wise words written today by Jaybird's principal about the importance of memorization and public speaking for young children.
"A child who memorizes poetry is able to internalize the beautiful patterns of words. It also increases vocabulary and comprehension. Memorizing of poetry and other works in context stores the information for use in speaking and writing.
Poetry and prose introduces students to the culture's accumulated wisdom. (She goes on to list the various poets that were included today.)
An obvious benefit of memorization and recitation is being comfortable speaking in front of people. It has been fun to watch students who shake at the thought of speaking in front of others grow to enjoy the next time your child is whining about memorization, be thankful it is not a lost art at ____(our school)!"
I am inspired to memorize more often. I love to memorize and I don't flex that "muscle" as I used to! This has been an amazing day!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Our little orator

Remember this post about Jaybird? It was prompted because he was chosen as the alternate for his class to recite a poem for the oratorical recital. Well...he has been asked to recite his poem, even though he was chosen alternate. Oh my goodness! He will be "performing" in our church sanctuary tomorrow in front of two student bodies and parents. I am pretty sure there will be 200-300 people in the audience. Even though he says he has "stage fright", he is very excited. We have practiced in the sanctuary, at home, with friends...all over the place! We have discussed every aspect of public speaking that I can imagine he might need to know. So now...I just have to let him shine and sit...nervously!

I bought him his first suit today to wear tomorrow. It is a light tan linen suit. He has a yellow dress shirt and blue striped tie to complete a handsome package. We'll add some extra hair gel and dress shoes and he will look "the part". I would post pictures, but the camera has dead batteries. (Don't worry, I'm going to get more tonight!) Pray for my little guy tomorrow! His poem is pretty cute, especially with hand motions and inflection. Here it is:

Grandpa is not a Gorilla, by Marty Nystrom
My grandpa is not a gorilla
my sis doesn't swing in the trees
my mom doesn't mimic a monkey,
and Dad doesn't forage for fleas.

My grandma is hardly a gibbon,
my aunt doesn't scratch her armpits,
my brother will not eat bananas,
unless they're in sundaes or splits.

My nephew can't walk on his knuckles,
my niece has no hair on her knees,
and none of my cousins or uncles
smell anything like chimpanzees.

So you can imagine the look on my face-
I sat with my mouth all agape-
while Teacher tried hard to convince me
I'm related to some kind of ape.

I know that my kinfolk aren't perfect-
we have chumps in our family tree-
but none of the gang's an orangutan,
so you can't make a monkey out of me!
"So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself." Genesis 1:27

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Good, bad, ugly updates

*Updates on updates: Baby is still calling me Mommy...sigh. All the Easter clothes and gifts are bought. The premature baby is hanging in there and doing better. And the disgusting virus is finally completely deleted from our computer! (THANKS, UNCLE BEN!)

The good...The baby woke up this morning calling me "Mommy". Toot calls me Mommy, so I guess she picked it up from him. It is so odd to see this petite, little pumpkin calling me "Mommy".

The bad...I realized today that I have 7 days until Easter and still have not bought Easter outfits for the boys. They need dress shoes, too. Yikes!

The ugly...A friend of ours has a premature infant with a rare intestinal infection. As I was praying, I decided to google her illness and do a little research. As I clicked on a website, I infected our computer with a virus. For the past two days, our computer has randomly popped-up vulgar pictures! Thankfully, I was the one on the computer each time. These pictures were so graphic that I literally felt violated after seeing them for the split second it took me to scream, turn away, and turn off the computer. Hopefully the problem will be fixed tomorrow. People do the creepiest things!

Friday, March 14, 2008

U-N-C-O-M-F-O-R-T-A-B-L-E situation

I do not like confrontation and that is why this has been a doozy of a week for me emotionally. God has been prompting me to speak-up in situations that make me very uncomfortable. For example, I mentioned a while back that many marriages around us are crumbling. I think I specifically spoke of my dismay over our RUF (college ministry) pastor's problems. When I found out last week that he was being excommunicated I was so heart broken. Sad for him, sad for his family, sad that Satan is winning the battle for his marriage. So, after feeling an overwhelming obligation, I wrote him a letter. I basically begged and pleaded with him to turn away from his sin. Have you ever felt like God was telling you to do this for someone in crisis? If not, take it from me, it is difficult and uncomfortable. It is always hard to talk about someone else's sin. After all, I am well aware of my own and I do not want to sound judgemental. But I kept thinking about exhortation and God's great provision through it. And I kept thinking about how the universe was created by God through mere words, so why couldn't he change a life, a heart, through using my mere words? If nothing else, I decided it was important to obey God.
Well, I am not sure that my letter was received with love or appreciation. I got a one sentence response. That's never good. I was so tempted to lay awake last night and mull over in my mind what this man must be thinking about me now. I had to force myself to trust the Lord. Not everything He asks me to do will benefit my reputation, it will often likely do the opposite with certain people. The gospel is offensive! I pray that as I get older that my walk with the Lord will mature and I can put aside myself easier. What is the Bible verse about "unless a seed dies, it can not fall to the ground and produce fruit"? My friend quoted that verse to me today. I want to see fruit in my life and others, but, just as God promised after the fall, life is full of thorns and weeds.
I think the lesson I have learned from all of this is to trust and obey, each day. To not let the busyness of this life sweep away the reason that I am here. To not lose sight of Jesus and His great sacrifice. Because I am seeing the speed at which Satan works when we take our eyes off of Jesus. As the Bible says, He is "a crouching lion looking for someone to devour"!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fun times

For the last two weeks my to-do list has been enormous. I had two events to plan. The first was my husband's 33rd birthday party. I invited 7 or 8 couples to a night of bowling. It was loud and crazy, but I think everyone had fun. Here we are under the blue and purple neon lights. :) There seems to be no such thing as just bowling now a days. There are now big screen tvs and blaring speakers everywhere. Is this annoying or am I just getting old?
His birthday cake was equally crazy. I found two "blackmail" pictures and the title below. He wasn't even that embarassed. Darn.

Our women's ministry had our winter event. We call it Souper Supper. It involved soup, bread, dessert and a speaker. We had nine tables of ladies, each table decorated by a different volunteer.

I made these snowflakes for my table. This is what they look like in my kitchen. They are very easy to make. As you can guess, my table had a winter theme.

Here are some of the other materials that I used, white dishes, silver napkins, white ribbon, clear candle holders, blue paisley paper for winter poems and quotes and a lot of tulle.

Here is my table. I should have taken more pictures. The table cloth was a light blue. There was a tall clear vase with twigs painted silver. The snowflakes were tied to the branches with white ribbon. I used blue and white printed scrap book paper as placemats, which you can not see in the picture. I used a bright blue colander for bread and extra napkins. And the tulle was used to distract from the plastic blue gym chairs.

I enjoyed the other tables so much. There was a Peruvian table, a St. Pat's table, a Scandinavian table, and other beautiful ideas. My best friend, Liz, decorated two tables. They were darling. She used lime green, white and black. She had baskets of green apples and pears in the center. Each place setting had black paper with white polka dots for place mats. She used sparkling pear juice bottles and daisies with black and white gingham ribbon to decorate with a spring theme. I love seeing the artistic side of the ladies in my church.

Our speaker was from a local ministry for homeless women and children. She was both inspiring and humbling. I cringe to think of the beautiful, nameless faces that are suffering right here in our own city every night. I am praying about getting involved in her ministry next year. All in all, we have had an exciting week! We are very blessed to have much to celebrate!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Our great hope

I remember when Jaybird was one, two and three. We went to countless doctors, had countless tests, spent thousands and thousands of dollars. He was brilliant as a baby, almost in a worrisome way. He was smart and beautiful and compliant. But he had some habits that were unusual. He was also frightened of new adults. He would bury his little head in my chest for thirty minutes to an hour when he was in a new setting. He was a creature of routine and order and peace. While learning came very, very easy for him, physical skills were very difficult. When we took him in for testing we heard words that no parent aspires to hear in the context of her child's health...asperger's, autistic spectrum, sensory problems. Just thinking about the dread and fear we felt makes me feel nauseous.
So without a diagnosis, but the advice to "come back when he is older" and "put him in therapy", we were sent home with a baby that needed extra help. A beautiful, sweet, sensitive, smart little boy that was the joy of our life. For two and a half years we sent him to occupational therapy and paid around $1000 a month. His problems were not "severe enough" to be covered by our insurance. We qualified for no affordable state programs. So we just found the money and grandparents helped here and there. And we worked, and worked and worked at home. We would take field trips to the mall just to see people and learn to make eye contact and greet them appropriately. We bought books and found ways to integrate little exercises into daily life. We stayed on the go being involved in play groups. God blessed us with another baby, little Toot, that brought sunshine and joy and a best friend for Jaybird.

Somewhere between four and seven and a half a miracle happened. If you met my little boy, you would NEVER guess that we had walked this path. You would never know that in some medical papers he was diagnosed with "sensory integration disorder" and "motor apraxia". You would never, ever believe that this young boy was once a baby that showed "autistic tendencies". He is now the boy that has a bigger joke repertoire than anyone in his class, can swim like a fish, eats anything set before him, can read on a fifth grade level, has countless friends, and plays in an imaginary world. The experts told me "he might not develop an imagination" and "he might not develop a sense of humor" and "he might not talk at an age appropriate level". By the grace of God, his IQ test rated his vocabulary, among other areas, at the very tip top of genius.

And finally, if you knew my little baby and didn't know the God that I worship, you might not believe that this baby would grow into the first grader that brought home special news from school today. He proudly handed me a paper that said, "Jaybird is our alternate in the oratorical recital. Out of the entire first grade (granted, there are only a total of 14 children), he came in fourth and will need to be prepared to recite his poem in front of the school in case of illness." Imagine that? A one minute poem, 14 children plus three judge's eye's all on him, standing right in the middle of the room. It would be difficult for anyone!

Please forgive me for bragging I want to be clear that I am boasting in Jesus Christ and the power He has to still do the seemingly impossible. He took a frail, sensitive, overwhelmed little baby and saved him at the age of four. And then He healed him. He didn't do this because we deserve it or earned it, but because He is abounding in grace. How can I keep that to myself?

Friday, March 07, 2008

The green-eyed monster

On Fridays I spend the entire morning with just the baby. She and I often come home and play with toys and do housework together. On rare Fridays we go to the park. And sometimes we spend the entire morning running errands. Regretfully, today was an errand day. After the fourth stop, Lydie was grouchy. The fourth and fifth store that we entered were filled with the sounds of my unhappy, tired baby. At the top of her lungs she clearly yelled and screamed, "Mama! Mama! Buckle! Buckle! Puuuu!" Translation: "Mama, unbuckle me and pick me up, NOW!" These tantrums do not embarrass me as much as they did with my first two children. I am not sure if I am more determined, more humbled, or more tired. So I tried to keep my cool, console her and pray quietly. I began to weigh out my options...exasperate/productiveness versus giving in/putting off these errands yet another day. I chose to stick it out.

As I was waiting in the check out line with a few spring items in hand, I saw HER. A young mom in her expensive exercise attire. She had a beautiful figure, apparently not a stranger to exercise. Her make-up and hair were flawless. Even her exercise outfit looked expensive. She said out loud that she was shopping for her little daughter, the same age as mine. I deduced her daughter was in day care, because she said that she was on her way to work. She looked invigorated, like she had all the time in the world to style her hair just right for exercise class and all the money in the world to blow at Gymboree. I secretly wondered if her daughter would have been quiet and well-behaved, I was sure she would be. For about an hour I allowed the green-eyed monster of jealousy to seep his way through my thought life. I longed for her life during that period of time, deeply longed for it.

As any parent of a very determined toddler can attest, life is challenging. There seems to be no waking moment of peace (except when she is adorable and kissing everyone, but those memories would not spring to mind at that moment). When the baby is sleeping I am trying desperately to catch up on the housework and laundry that I did not do while she was awake and to love on my sweet, patient boys. Lydie requires a lot of attention and even more discipline. She seems to understand beyond her years what she wants and how she feels with only a little verbal outlet to express herself. She is determined and stubborn and willful. I love her for it, but she needs constant directing (or re-directing). When I add the homeschooled preschooler, the first grader that requires so much time in our car, my wonderful marriage, and the ministries outside of our family, well , I am tired.

I am very thankful, in hindsight, that I met this lady. She lead me to have a serious heart-to-heart with the Lord. Occasionally, I forget why I am doing all of This to begin with. I look around at the sacrifices and constant work and I feel defeated. Gently, gently He reminds me. He doesn't say, "Don't compare your life to someone else's!" He doesn't condemn me. He isn't impatient with me, even though he should be as I have to revisit this issue every now and then. He just reminds me of His love for me. He reminds me that He died for me. He reminds me of His grace. And as I am basking in His love and sacrifice I am renewed. I find the "Why?", and it is simply that I want to reflect Him. I will never, ever do it perfectly and my life may not look like everyone else's. But I just want to obey Him because I trust Him and love Him. And I find joy and thankfulness and purpose in my calling. I am not implying that being a stay-at-home mom and wife is a higher calling than someone else's. The issue here is certainly not to work or not to work. The issue is two fold: obedience (God has called me to be at home with my children) & sin in the form of being jealous and covetting, for which I am guilty.

There are a few aspects of our busy life that might be hindering us from being more fruitful and content. I need to spend some time taking a good look at what we are doing, and why I am so tired. But the most important thing I discovered, once again, this week is that self-pity can not survive a good, hard look at the gospel. Prayer and the Word, I am completely hopeless without them.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Shame on me!

I referred to a desk that we refinished for Jaybird for Christmas back in December. I was going to post pictures, but decided as I prepped it to photo that it needed one more touch-up. I am ashamed to say that it took us until today to give it the final polish and put it in his room. Poor guy, the only thing he "really wanted" for Christmas was a desk with pencils and a journal. So today, March 6th, he finally got his special present. Wow, I am so glad that he is gracious. He has a space-themed room. The desk's color was chosen because it is classic for a boy and spacey, of course. And the knobs have a space-age look, too. They will probably have to be replaced as he matures, but oh well.
We found the desk at a thrift store for $19.00. We sanded it and used Walmart spray paint for $3.00...three cans of 99 cent paint. We paid another 99 cents for the clear coat of paint. The knobs were the big expense, $3.99 a piece. The drawers are wonderful on the inside. The middle drawer has half a dozen little compartments for special treasures...stickers, stamps, etc. (No, those would be my treasures, his will probably consist of rocks and worms instead!) The investment for the desk was less than $45. We hope it will last throughout his childhood. Hopefully our budding writer will imagine and create many new stories and adventures with his belated gift.



And now, about that desk chair.....

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Old fashioned medicine

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter."
e e cummings
Toot asked yesterday from the back seat: "Mommy, does jelly come from jellyfish?"

Monday, March 03, 2008


What the Robin Told
The windtold the grasses, And the grasses told the trees.

The trees told the bushes, And the bushes told the bees.

The bees told the robin, And the robin sang out clear:

Wake up! Wake up! Spring is here!