Mar 31, 2010

Blue Shoes for Summer

Finally a new shoe has been completed. I have been up to my ears in orders for Easter, and have not had time for creative juices to flow. These shoes were created specifically for a customer in mind who wanted them to match a navy blue and white dress. I loved them and added them to my shop. The outer is linen navy blue with crisp white organza ribbon and flower on the toe. I thought it fit summer very well with my mind turning toward beaches and other such beachy, nautical themes. Ah summer! I have been waiting for you! Last year around this time I took this photo as I lay looking at the beach in Thailand. On a recliner. Under a palm tree. Eating some exotic fruit. Oh dear, I want a vacation! This year the trip we were going to take was to Tibet to visit a missionary friend there. Yes, really. Tibet, and it's quite a trek in apparently. Alas, Tone will be going alone in a couple weeks as I am too pregnant to travel. Why yes, I am a little jealous. I love traveling to new places with just my backpack and my hubby.
So for now, I look at lovely photos like this and dream. There is always the lake trip in July that we take each year.

Mar 24, 2010

Why ask why?

No fancy pictures in this post. Just some thoughts to share that have been mulling around in my head.
I was doing research on the computer on Baby Girl's medical condition, as I do from time to time, and I found a site on Birth Defect Research for Children which catalogs data on birth defects and connects families with other families. Anyhow, the main point of the site was because they said every parent wants to know, "why?" And I sat there stunned for a minute because I realized this has never been a question in my head. I have never asked, "why" and I don't intend to either. Sure, I know the medical explanation for what caused her specific type of tumor (Sacrococcygeal Teratoma), but I have never wondered why MY baby. Why her? I just don't engage in that type of reasoning with God. I trust Him that's why. And that's enough for me.

I am currently engaged in a study on prayer that has been very thought provoking about the way God answers prayer and the way God orchestrates our life. The minute we mention a concern to God, He is swiftly engaged in answering that prayer. We are His children whom He loves more than anything. We don't have to say the right "magic" words, ask it in the right way, or use some special word formula. However, our perception from our upside down point of view is that God is often ignoring us or slow to work or "testing" us somehow, or maybe we didn't ask in just the right way. I prefer to just trust Him than engage in that kind of torturous thought.

Three Bible examples come to mind.

After God showed Joseph that he would bless him above his brothers in dreams, he was sold into slavery, and then thrown in prison. At least 12 years went by before he saw any hope at all, and 20 before seeing his brothers again. But was God just ignoring him the whole time? No God was preparing a way to save his chosen people from starvation.

I think of Hannah who was taunted by the other wife who was able to have many children while she was barren. Now Hannah was ready to be the mother of an ordinary child. A child just like all the other moms around her. But when God was done with her heart, and when God thought the time was right, he gave her a son who would be the best prophet Israel ever had. Hannah got a whole lot more than she had expected or prayed for. There was definite purpose to the waiting.

And then there is Lazareth. Jesus could have easily healed him before he died. But He purposely tarried several days and waited for Lazareth to die and for the house to fill up with mourners. Now many more people would see God's glory and see His power over death as well, rather than just a couple of sisters see God's power over sickness.

So I have never asked God "why" because I feel that I will know when God brings about His purpose and is ready to show me. Maybe the road He chooses for me will be the tougher one for a while, but I trust Him. I've experienced hard lessons in life that don't make sense at the time, but later (sometimes it's been a few years), I realize how much greater good has come from it. I do not say this flippantly. It's a faith carved from an experience in God's ever steady faithfulness to me.

Another thought I have had is that it has been stunning how the tumor has not grown since it was discovered. For about 8 weeks straight now, it has remained the same size, which does not seem to be the norm for this type of tumor from the research I have done. The outpouring of prayer for our little girl has been astounding and touching.

Which brings up another thought. Has the tumor not grown because of all the prayer on her behalf? Does God answer my prayer because more people are praying for her than for maybe other children with this condition? Can I "stack the odds" so to speak with the more people I add to her prayer list? Of course not. God is not manipulated that way or He wouldn't be God. So why ask for all the prayer?

The Bible is clear that all God needs is one intercessor in order for Him to act. But prayer is what connects us to God. It's what makes our relationship with God relational. It's through prayer that God acts and through prayer that we see God's actions and responses to us in the world around us. Can God act without us? Of course, but He loves to work through prayer because He enjoys engaging with us and letting us have a part in what He is doing. God is relational and wants to engage with us.

It is because of this very reason that I ask for prayers. I can pray for our little girl, and I will be the only one who sees God working. Or I can ask for prayers, and now many will see God at work and be engaged in the process of what He is doing in her life. Now others are included in the part God is playing in her and our life, and God can engage with them as well. As the church, we are a "web" so to speak, all connected together and growing with each other as God touches the different spokes of our lives. As we pray for each other, it allows God to touch us all and relate with us in a greater and personal way than if we only prayed and did life in isolation.

So I ask you to pray with us. "O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!" Psalm 34:8

Mar 20, 2010

When did this happen?

Opening day was today for our neighborhood little league. Hunter is in t-ball this year. They received their uniforms today and when he put it on I almost croaked. When did he get to be so big? Where is my baby? Visions of the movie, "Sandlot", flashed through my head and all of those coming of age moments that sports represent. Sports and boyhood seem to go hand in hand in our American culture.
Here he is sitting tall in the front middle with his team. I am not really sure how much of a natural athelete Hunter is, to be honest, but for now, he is happy to be on a team and playing ball. I wish all sports could stay this way....innocent and playing just for the fun and love of the game.I have mixed feelings about sports. Not being very good at them in a family where the other three siblings WERE good athletes, I've seen the ups and downs that sports brings. I've seen what happens when you don't get to play, when you make the winning catch, when you're the last out, the value of being part of a team. I've seen how insane the competition gets when the boys get older and how viscious sports can be. I've seen beautiful, life-defining moments of triumph and sacrifice happen on the field as well. But for now, he'll play as long as he's still having fun, and like anything else, we'll take one year at a time.

And then we came home and the first thing he did was strip off the uniform and go play remote control cars with the neighbor kid. We were back to reality. The day was gorgeous, my tulips and daffodils in front are in bloom, and we all spent the rest of day in the yard. I sat in my rocking chair and enjoyed watching the kids and flowers, Tone worked on a set of bunkbeds he is building for the girl's room and every now and then he would show me his progress, and the kids ran back and forth down the sidewalk. Hunter's just a boy, enjoying being just a boy, and for now, that's all I ask.

Mar 18, 2010

Competition

So I have been slowly getting out the old baby things and getting them ready for a new baby. Me thinks someone will have trouble giving up her spot as the "baby." It rocks and plays music, and it's been Ainsley's new relaxing place since I got it out a couple days ago. Never mind her feet hang off the end. She practically lived in this the first six months of her life.....
Uh oh...this could get interesting!

Mar 17, 2010

Patty's Day and the SHOT

Happy St. Patty's Day! We all wore green today!
Yesterday I had another ultrasound on baby girl. I asked some more questions and got a better view on how the teratoma (tumor) was attached. On the ultrasound, you could see the spine coming down perfectly, but at the booty there is a large skin covered bulge coming out. It looked partly vascular (solid with blood flowing into it), but fortunately, most appeared to be cystic (fluid filled). Apparently, some of it is slightly internal, but it's hard to see how much. She showed me that the bladder was fine, but since it is attached right at the rectum, she couldn't tell me how it would affect her there. There was no change in the size of the tumor again, so that was great news. I also received the mother of all shots. A steroid shot for her lung development. It was a shot in the bum that was pretty painful since the fluid was thick and the shot was large. It makes your bum sore for a while. Then she wanted to know if I could come back tomorrow for round two. Since I couldn't, I had to give it to myself. So here is my setup before I psyched myself up and gave myself this shot in the other side of my bum. Yes, that's right. I gave it to myself. I think I deserve at least a pat on the back, right? The shot is precautionary since it takes a couple days or so for it to help her lungs. It would not be good if something happened to her and there was no chance to get this into her system before they had to deliver. I am at week 27 and so we are getting even farther!
So that little (or large) shot was my St. Patty's day gift to baby girl! With a little luck, she'll be born breathing on her own, healthy, with no long term problems. Well, maybe not luck, we know God is working in her life and ours. Love you girly!

Mar 11, 2010

Blossoms

Fresno is an agricultural hub for fruits, nuts, and vegetables. In fact, for a couple weeks in spring, there is a famous route called the blossom trail which is full of fruit and nut tree orchards in bloom. The photographers all rush and take pictures during this time, and I thought this year I would join them. I got the kids all dressed up in their Easter outfits and out the door on Tuesday. There was finally a semi-sunny day and away we went. The best laid schemes....
Hunter and Ainsley are in my sister's wedding this summer, so I did double time on his outfit and made sure that his Easter outfit could double as a wedding outfit. Ainsley has a perfect hand-me-down for her dress and hat for Easter. Aren't those the best?

Anyhow, Hunter loves posing and looking handsome for pictures. Ainsley....well, not so much. She enjoys the dressing up part, but certainly NOT the posing part. In fact, she told me this week,
"Mommy, when the new sissy comes, I'm not gunna be cwute anymore. I'm gunna be AWESOME!"
Then she thought for a second,
"Well, Hunter can be awesome, I'm gunna be pwetty."
Apparently, you can only be one adjective at a time, and when a new baby comes, then you have to move on. In her mind, she has outgrown cute. And pretty is WAY better than awesome. Someday maybe she'll catch on to the phrase, "pretty is as pretty does." She was SO not getting the message during this photo shoot. She moped, whined, complained, and wouldn't pose during the whole thing. Oh well, at least one out of two cooperated. So from her, I don't have that great of photos. But after about a half hour the kids were done, and I figured that's as good as it's going to get for this year! See, Hunter is doing just fine. He found this crook in the tree and decided to sit in it. What a little model, no? I only managed two smiles out of Ainsley. Here they are:
Miss Sassy pants decided this face was better than a smile. No way was she going to show her teeth for me. Hunter looks like a stud. Who knows what Ainsley is doing. It was tough getting her to look up. She preferred to admire her dress.
Hand on hip. She is so done with this at this point.I asked Hunter to help her walk in the grass. Too darn cute. He is so good to her. They love each other so much!
So, well there you go. The famous blossom trail, and my semi-cooperative children. Next year I'll add a third child and really push my skills to the limit. I must be a glutton for punishment.

Mar 8, 2010

Jump for Joy

This engagement picture just cracks me up. I asked my sister, Krista, to maybe get on Thomas's back for a picture, and she full on launched herself. The picture I snapped after this one is of her dying laughing while Thomas is grimacing trying to hold her up. I swear there was never a funnier couple to be around.
I am going home next weekend to help pick out bridesmaids dresses. Not that my fat pregnant tummy is going to to fit in any of them. I suppose it's just for sister bonding time and to add my two cents in. The wedding is about two months after I have baby girl. Fingers crossed I lose some weight.
Krista is in full wedding mode. I'm doing her flowers (my former training with a florist is paying off in a big way here), and so we have had many discussions over flowers, photography, dresses, invites, my kids as the ring bearer and flower girl, and other such fun items this week. Krista is a classy lady and it's been fun seeing her unique ideas. I can't say she's jumping for joy right at the moment with all the little details stressing her out, but it's been awefully fun for me to talk "weddings" when it isn't mine! Thomas is in the army and gets out a couple weeks before, so she'll be jumping for joy when she finally gets to spend time and be married to her man! I sure do love these two......

For more jumping pics see:

Mommy, we've got to get OUT!

There are some days when you just have to get OUT! So while these photos aren't the most artistic by a long shot, I'm posting them just to show a day of fun. Truly this goes against my grain, but artistic photos are hard to come by when all it does is rain, rain, rain! Saturday, we laid around in the house truly bored all morning, the sky was overcast, and the energy level was at a super low. So in the spur of the moment, I decided to go to the zoo and get new family zoo passes for the year. They lowered the prices and so it was only $55 for a family year membership. Not too shabby considering it's something I can easily also do with an infant in tow once we have one. The last time we were there, Ainsley was only about 18 months old, so she didn't remember any of it. She had a blast petting all the animals. Hunter was has been here many a time so he wanted to blast through and get to all of his favorites. The funniest part of the day was when we went through the reptile exhibit. She was peering with her face against the glass at the Gilla lizard, who was also pressed against the glass, when it decided to yawn and show all it's teeth. I have never seen a kid scream and jump back so fast! Too funny!
What's that? You were noticing Hunter's very strange outfit. Well, yes, I DID allow him to dress himself. He told me that he wanted to be in rainbow style. Oh dear, but I just went with it. What do you mean cowboy boots, a camo hat, and a bright striped sweatshirt don't go together? He thought he looked "awesome!" Ainsley dressed herself too, but she didn't do quite as badly. I figured we probably wouldn't run into anyone we knew. Her shoes are squeaky shoes by the way. Perfect for the zoo. They have a squeaker in the sole that squeaks like a dog toy with every step. It's impossible to lose her. We were an odd looking bunch, but who cares! We were OUT!
She loved showing me how big she was. I loved seeing how little she still IS! I am treasuring this time with little children running around in my home. The real life condor is huge! Ainsley and Hunter thought they were too at the comparison in front of his cage!
But hands down, my favorite part is always the sting ray and shark tank. You can pet them and they like to swim up really close! The sting rays are slippery smooth. The sharks feel like sand paper. Ainsley likes to put her hands in until one gets too close, then she jumps back. Even Hunter is a little squeamish.
Everybody stand like a flamingo!
Ainsley hanging like a monkey while looking at seals.
Getting close with an orangutan. The real orangutans are some of the funniest animals I have ever watched. So goofy and so much character!
Elephant feeding time!
So we got out, it was a nice break from being inside, and now we have something to do when we just need to get OUT again. The zoo is only 15 minutes away, so it's easy to pop in for an hour or two, walk around, and get some exercise now that we have a zoo pass.

Mar 4, 2010

Glorious Life!

Today was the first lovely sunny day in a long while. It's been raining and raining and raining. Rain yesterday and rain is expected again but today was glorious. The family spent the whole afternoon outside. My apologies to you who are still dealing with snow. I realize spring is not official until March 20th, but when all the trees are starting to bloom and the flowers in the yard are popping out, it makes a body want to get outside and soak up the sunshine. So we did. A glorious day watching new life pop up all over our yard.The trees are blooming! This picture was taken of the neighbor's trees hanging over our backyard fence. The kids call them "popcorn trees" since they look like they are covered in fluffy popcorn blooms when the whole tree buds out. We have been holed up inside for WAY too long. Trouble happens when kids can't go out and play. Such as: Ainsley found the chips and dip left out on the counter from lunch. Having nothing else to do, she devoured the whole container using her fingers as a scoop.Even TV gets old. She's sitting bored on the couch with her usual purse filled with her treasures (mostly a plastic makeup set) and her blankie.The house gets completely destroyed with toys everyday. I asked Ainsley to put these two items back in her room. I discovered them here a few minutes later. Guess she decided this shelf needed some more decorating.So today, we went OUT! All afternoon. Signs of spring and new life are popping up all over the place. I planted about 60 rose clippings in January hoping some (a couple at least?) would take off. Well, I got more than I bargained for. The tiny clippings have sent down roots and are branching out leaves. Anyone want a free rose clipping?
My yard has tiny leaves, blooms and buds starting to peak out all over the place. I planted about 100 new bulbs today in the yard as well. They are summer bulbs so when the spring bulbs die, the summer ones should start peeking up.We signed Hunter up for his first year of t-ball. And the role of soccer mom begins....
Hunter and Daddy spent some time playing catch. Very hilarious.
He can't throw or catch really at all, but tries really hard and drops dramatically to the ground after every throw (it only goes about 10 feet if he's lucky).Ainsley had the right stance, but really did nothing at all but get in the way and steal balls. Remember those rose clippings? I am so happy they worked out. THIS particular rose bush below is a menace. For two years I have graciously allowed it to flourish in our yard. NO MORE! It grows higher than the fence, the roses are small and blow out too quick, don't smell, and the thorns are the most vicious I have ever seen on a bush. Sorry rose, but now that I have clippings of roses I love much more than you, we are taking you OUT! A baby clipping of another tall rose bush will go in that place. But this new bush has few thorns and gorgeous, fat, apricot, fragrant roses.
Tone happily dug it out the old one for me. He's never been a fan of those thorns. It's taken out more than one child who has played in our yard.
And then I came in from the yard with my hair a total wreck, makeup gone, muddy kneed, and decided it was a GREAT time to take a 25 week belly shot. Ok, maybe it's not, but I figured there was no time like the present to document it. I am 25 weeks today. My skinny jeans are no longer fitting, and I'm into maternity pants. Boo!
And the best news has been saved for last....we had an ultrasound yesterday (again). The tumor was still not grown. So now it hasn't grown any bigger in about 5 weeks. This is the best news possible. She is still doing great, and we got to see some glimpses of her little face. I have noticed that she is measuring a little small in the last month, but when I asked, they weren't concerned. If you look close, this ultrasound dates her at 23 weeks, 5 days. She's actually 24 weeks, 6 days in the photo.
Still no name. Tone is unable to come up with something he likes, so I guess I am still waiting on that one. My ideas keep getting shot down. Lets just say it's getting VERY frustrating for me at this point.....