Tag Archives: Parenting

Our Ongoing Home Reno & Other Updates

Hey there!

Here’s a little update on life for us these days.

House

We moved to our new fixer upper home almost 7 months ago. I joke with hubby that we ought to just dig a big hole in the backyard and start throwing money into it, because it has been one giant money pit! A mold report that came back showing high levels of (non toxic) mold less than a month after we bought the house really pushed us to replace the areas were there had been water exposure (floors, under kitchen sink) much faster than we had originally planned. ¬†And then the snowball just started rolling as one thing led to another. That’s home renovation for you, I suppose!

Here’s a list of some of the things we’ve redone since we moved in:

Tear out back deck (was structurally unsafe).

Deck (removed).

New carpet in family room and bedrooms:

I didn’t really have any “carpet” pictures, but you can kind of see it here.

Removed wall between dining room and kitchen:

Before. (This wall drove me nuts because I couldn’t keep track of the kids!)

After. I love it!

Laminate in kitchen, fireplace room, hallway and master closet:

Closet doors (two sets), screen door, side garage door:

Tile floors in laundry room and kids’ bathroom:

I tried to pick tile that matched the laminate.

Replaced Kitchen counter tops, sink (chipping), faucet & garbage disposal (leaked whenever running):

Before. This wasn’t too long after we moved in.

Before.

After. My inner clean freak is very happy with having quartz counter tops now!

Tile back splash in kitchen (which we had to add because there was a big gap between the counter tops and the wall):

Pulled out melamine desk/cabinets and put in smaller desk area with upper shelving:

Replaced furnace and A/C (yes we wanted to cry when we learned we needed to replace BOTH):

New A/C.

Dishwasher (which died right after the furnace and A/C – more crying, hehe). New dishwasher will be here in two weeks.

Replaced fridge (died on moving day), stove and microwave.

Painted bathroom vanities and kitchen cabinets:

Painted ENTIRE house (including ceilings).

Replaced almost all light fixtures and 2 out of 3 fans (we saved the only one that worked).

Whew! That wasn’t even a comprehensive list. And what’s sadder is that the “to do” list is still a mile long! The bottom line, however, is that we LOVE living here. We love the space (1/2 acre), the neighborhood, the proximity to hubby’s work, and also the fact that we live super close to my in laws! (And as a side note, both my parents and my hubby’s Dad were instrumental in helping us get a lot of the above list completed!)

Kids

Josh & Rachel are doing fine. Josh is just over 3 and Rachel is 20 months. I sure do love them and enjoy my days with them. I know everyone else has adorable/smart/funny kids, but some days I seriously wonder which state penitentiary my kids will end up at–because they can be quite devious! Some days Josh and I really do battle it out. I’m no marshmellow Mom in any sense of the word, so I often have to remember to look for ways that I can answer “yes” instead of “no.” Rachel is very determined and doesn’t give up easily either, but she does have much shorter tantrums, which I am thankful for!

I like to remember the following so please tune out if this is crazy boring (I imagine it would be to most):

Josh wears 3T clothing and wears a an 8/9 shoe. He weighs 31.6# (No joke, he’s weighed exactly 31.6# the last several times he’s asked to hop on the scale!) and a few months ago he was just over 3 feet tall. We took away his paci back in April and it wasn’t a big deal at all (we were shocked! And thankful…).

Rachel wears 18-24 months clothing and is somewhere between a size 5 or 6 shoe. She is only a few inches shorter than Josh. She still doesn’t have to many words, but she’s working on it every day. She’s been in a size 5 diaper for a while. I use Pampers diapers and water only wipes or else she tends to be prone to really bad diaper rash.

Don’t be fooled. They’re wanna-be felons, I tell you! ūüôā

Weight Loss

I wrote a while back about experiencing unintended weight loss. I’m happy to report that out of the 16# I lost, I gained 7-8# of it back and that seems to be where things have settled. I’m not unhappy about it, but I do wish I had a better appetite most days so that cooking would feel less like a chore.

Endometriosis

I don’t really want to go on and on when it comes to this topic. The synopsis is: The endo does seem to be back. Some months are bad and some are okay. I cut out caffeine back in February which seemed to really help with pain levels. I still seem quite unable to get pregnant without intervention (IVF), so that’s a drag. At the same time, I have little to no desire to go through IVF again (not that we could afford it right now after all these home repairs!). I’ve been thinking about my options for when things DO get consistently bad, pain-wise. One option is to see a specialist who would excise all endo (cutting it out, rather than burning it off) and see how far that gets me. Another option would be to do a hysterectomy and also have current endo excised. This may still not alleviate pain (endo grows back easily and hides, so that it can be tricky even for specialists to find) and I still may require further surgeries. In all honesty, I’m hoping avoid any surgeries at all, because the frequent pain I get from adhesions and scar tissue following surgeries is off the charts.

Well I think that covers some of the basics! Thanks for sticking it through the post!

 

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Day 3. I’m Glad My Mother Let Me Fail.

When I was a kid, I spent about 75% of my growing up years outdoors. We lived in the country, where peach orchards mostly surrounded our house. We had a horse, a dog and two cats. We had a couple of neighbor kids too, all of whom were boys and around the same age as me and my older sister.

My mom would let me go outside and peruse the country on my bike or on our horse, Wally. I skated and climbed trees and built forts. I shot about a million basketball hoops in my neighbors’s front yard, and then in our own yard after I got my own hoop for my 9th birthday. The neighbor boys and I would build ramps for our bikes to jump off of and we would take turns flying over them on our bikes. My bike was a used but good quality girl’s Schwinn — a pink frame with a brightly flowered banana seat and “U” shaped handlebars. We built these ramps higher and higher and had great fun until one of the boys took a tall jump on my bike (I guess there’s no shame in riding a pink bike like mine¬†you’re only 9?), landed incredibly wrong and broke his arm. Sadly, that put a swift end to our bike jumps that summer!

My childhood was a little messy at times, but I¬†had a Mom who gave me guidelines and set boundaries and then set me free to play and master all sorts of skills outside. She was in no way a helicopter parent, nor was she¬†ruled by fear. At the same time she was intolerant of disrespectful behavior and was constantly on me for my “attitudes.” She and I battled a lot over this issue until the Lord saved me when I was 12.¬†From that time on,¬†I remember very few battles with my mom, and my Mom still marvels at how much the Holy Spirit transformed me quite immediately following my conversion.

Now that I’m a Mom, I find myself looking back at my childhood through a new set of lenses. I have great respect for my Mom, who worked full time from home with 4 kids, one of which was disabled. I don’t know how she did it, but she carried on well and still does as she cares for my disabled sister.

She let me make mistakes and she let me fail, often. I still remember sitting on my bed in my room, sobbing my eyes out. I was 11, and I had just gotten kicked out of horse back riding lessons. I had my side of the story, and some of it made sense at the time, I guess; but the bottom line was that I had given up, and that I was stubborn. When my Mom came to pick me up from riding lessons that day, my instructor told her that she couldn’t teach me anymore. I was officially expelled. My Mom didn’t try to fix the situation or make excuses for me. We got in the car and came home, and I was sent directly to my room. Later, my mom calmly came in, sat down on my bed, and told me how utterly¬†disappointed she was in me. I’ll never forget it, because I felt utterly disappointed with myself as well! I had to grapple with that shame, and although it brought a lot of despair at the time, it contributed greatly toward propelling me straight¬†to Jesus.

She also let me fail in piano lessons (also kicked out), school (not entire grades, but in several projects and tests), and in friendships. She let me learn from my mistakes. And for a driven, people-pleasing person like me, I still remember a bit of the ache of rejection that came from those failures. But even more so, I remember the lessons that I learned.

So when I think back to my childhood, I’m thankful for my Mom, who undoubtedly had way more on her plate than I ever realized as a child. I’m thankful that I wasn’t ever coddled and that I rarely ever got away with stuff, because my mother happened to be incredibly perceptive (I just thought she really DID have eyes on the back of her head!). I’m thankful that she let me run around and play without hovering. And I’m thankful that, as much as it hurt, she let me fail. Because I would quickly discover¬†that there was nothing on this planet but Jesus that could heal those wounds.

 

 

 

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Getting Over a Grumpy Heart

“With thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Phil. 4:6

I’ve been thinking about this verse a lot lately.¬†My¬†heart replaces thankfulness with grumpiness sometimes before I can even count to three. I need to stop and pray when that happens — and more importantly, I first need to think of something to be thankful for!

Last night we went to my parent’s house for the Superbowl. Josh actually did great (other than not napping) and we had a lovely afternoon. But then Rachel lost it around 5 pm and just couldn’t pull it back together. She screamed and screamed. When it dawned on me that we would need to skip a delicious tri tip dinner and leave my parents’ house prematurely, something in me sort of snapped. “Seems like it’s either one kid or the other that starts screaming and won’t stop whenever we go somewhere!” I lamented to my sister. She assured me that it all very normal and asked if I’d like a tri tip dinner “to go.” But I fighting intense feelings of disappointment and frustration.

Last night didn’t get any better. Josh cried for hours. Rachel slept great thankfully — I’m sure all that screaming wore her out! But between the two children, I did not really get to bed for uninterrupted sleep until 4:30 am. My husband covered for me so that I could get a few hours of sleep, but then that meant that he’d be getting to work late and, consequently, home late. Again, my heart desperately wanted to feel sorry for itself.

Later on this morning, I got a few text messages from my older sister. They had discovered mold inside the walls in the older granny house they’re living in (at my parent’s property –while they’re home in the states). The mold was sort of a big deal — my brother in law and my Dad had to strip the wall there down to the studs and repair it with new installation and siding. My sister chose to not¬†freak out about the mold. But I think she was fairly horrified this morning to see that one of my nephew’s blankets (that he keep on his bed) was embedded with a lot of mold. She stripped his bed and washed everything with bleach. She could have been distressed¬†about the mold (and the other 99 things that have gone a muck in that granny house since they’ve been there). She could have been scared about potential sickness or felt burdened by all the extra work. Instead, she sent me this text:

“Lord, thank you for work to do and the strength to do it.”

She is choosing to respond opposite of what her emotions are telling her. This takes great self control! It is something the Lord is teaching me right now. I may have every excuse in the world to be grumpy or to complain. But that doesn’t make it okay. Attitude really is everything.

Lastly, a few pictures. I took Josh to see his pediatrician today because right after I blogged last week he broke out into a rash following a mild cold (I think he has Fifth’s Disease, an extremely common childhood illness). Today he had a fever though so I took him in to make sure he wasn’t getting a secondary infection. I’m thanking God that he seems to be just fine!

At the doctor's office.

At the doctor’s office.

And Rachel in her new snowsuit. Can you believe this snowsuit is size 3-6 months?!! My mom kindly ordered it online for her (I picked it out). It’ll work because it has a sleeping bag effect on her so I think she’ll stay quite warm. ūüôā We’re headed up to the snow soon! I’m sure we’ll all get a kick out of seeing her in this jumbo suit. I laugh every time I look at the picture!

Sumo wrestler baby Rachel!

Sumo wrestler baby Rachel!

Hope you have a great Monday!

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Simply Being Here

These days are fun yet hectic. Rachel is doing great — she’ll be 4 months old in a couple of days and she’s giggly and smiley and already popping out teeth (teething at 3 months is CRAZY, by the way). Josh is almost 23 months and is and putting words together for the first time. He can be found with his nose in a book and a train piece in one hand at almost all times. It is a delight to see them both growing and learning new tricks! But lest you think it’s all roses– our days¬†also involve lots of screaming. So yes, it is fun and there is much laughter– but there is also much screaming too.

In light of this busy season, I have often wondered “How can I be serving others? How can I help out at church? What can I be doing to be a blessing?” The truth of the matter is that it’s a small feat just to make it to the grocery store,¬†let alone church. With a small baby in tote who nurses often, there aren’t really any practical places for me to be able to serve at church right now (which really makes me feel like a consumer). Josh also depends heavily on routine and schedule, and not adhering to his routine for too long means¬†a¬†complete meltdown (which happened in an extended version on Christmas day). All this is to say is that the bulk of my ministry these days is at home– loving my kids and my husband. I know many women who have several more kids than me, who home school and serve outside of the home in multiple capacities– and they are amazing! But that is not me. I’m being stretched thin these days just by getting dinner on the table¬†and both kids bathed before bedtime.

Blogger Melissa over at yourmomhasablog.com encouraged me today with her post¬†about how stay at home moms can serve God. She writes that the stay at home mom has the strange occupation of simply¬†being there. (I’ve been mulling this over as I grew up with a mom who was also “there” (even though she worked a lot from home) and the positive impact that just having her around (to keep tabs on me, or for me to ask her questions, etc) had on me.) Melissa encourages those who feel like they aren’t even very good homemakers to see that all the work they’re doing at home for their kids and husbands ¬†are being done for the Lord– that He is their boss. She writes “We‚Äôre doing these things, yes laundry and the whole shebang, because God has given us this job, this calling of being there, and we owe Him everything. So, we serve Him with our presence in the home.” She also offers several small ways we can serve the Lord, merely by being obedient to His Word and the overflow that such obedience brings. Some examples of this that she mentioned were as obvious as being a good friend to your husband– or as small as being kind and friendly to the employee¬†at the grocery store. Lastly, she encourages women to focus on their chief purpose: To know God and enjoy Him forever. She encourages women not to get caught up so much in what they can or can’t do, but to focus on making every day an exercise to dwell in His presence. Amen to that!

My whole life has been geared on getting good grades in school and being in such a place so that I could choose any career I wanted. And I’m glad I chose nursing — it has been a wonderful choice, full of hard work and promoting good critical thinking skills. But not much of my life has prepared me for the challenges of being a mother. I have relied heavily on my older sister (in a way, I’m really glad her kids are much older than mine so that I’ve been able to watch her parent so much) and my mother in this area, as I am oft in amazement in the jobs they have both done as mothers. Obviously, being a good nurse has always been important to me. But being a WISE mother trumps everything else, let alone my devotion to God and to my husband. And this is where the buck stops. As much as I miss not serving in more tangible ways outside of the home, for this season of life I can serve God by being in His presence and by serving my family. Showering others with the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control). Speaking kind words and encouragement to others, or being a listening ear when needed. (Or, more realistically for this week: Not complaining even though we’re all sick, responding calmly¬†to a toddler who’s just pitched his plate of food onto the floor, and being able to smile at a baby who screams with indignation when being put down in the baby swing for a while.)

3 month old Rachel. How we love her!

3 month old Rachel. How we love her!

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Unique & Special: A Saga About Sisters, Part 2

You may have read one of my previous posts, which pertains to my older sister but also to sisterhood in general. With all three of my sisters in the same state this past year, the gift of having sisters has been on my mind much these days. Just like marriage or having children, you can see the beauty of a God-given thing like family when all involved are striving to walk with Jesus. Oh, what a difference does that make! Sin easy entangles, but when sin is rejected consistently, relationships on this Earth can be so wonderful. Such has been the case in the relationships I have with my sisters.

Which brings me to my second youngest sister — my sister who will never read this, who will never understand exactly what the words on this page mean, because she was born with an extremely rare genetic disorder, Trisomy 14.

Many people often ask me, “So what does a disorder like Trisomy 14 actually¬†look like?”

If I could sum it up briefly, I would say that cognitively she ranges anywhere from a 2 year old to a first grader. She is extremely sensitive to light and sound. Physically, most babies born with Trisomy 14 have numerous cardiac problems but she was thankfully spared from this, although whenever she has let me listen to her heart rhythm with my stethoscope I have always noticed that her heart rate was a little too high (borderline tachycardic). Stature wise, she’s pretty short and one half of her body is longer/bigger than the other side. The difference in leg length (which was about 3 inches) caused a major problem until she had surgery on the knee of her longer side to stop the growth on that side. If you have the time or inclination, you can read a little bit more about my sister’s genetic disorder here.

Circa 1987.

Circa 1987. I think somebody must have fallen and bonked her nose!

My sister is incredibly unique — and a lot of people, even people who have known her for many years, are often baffled by her. On the outside she appears to be capable of acting somewhat mature: She may ask you how you’re feeling, or why you look tired. She may notice that you got new shoes, or that you got a haircut. She might tell you that her bus broke down on the way home from her adult day program. She’ll notice if you sound like you’re sick. She can keep up a semi-coherent conversation with you. But then she may suddenly turn into a demanding two year old when she sees that you’re touching her ipod or if she thinks you’re being mean to her (which is something that she frequently misinterprets). She might very well scream at you, and if you’re thinking she’s much more mature than that, it can be quite shocking. Lastly, if you interfere with her schedule, watch out! She is a lover of routine, and thrives in knowing exactly what to expect. Change is hard for her.

DSC_0065_E

My relationship with my sister is pretty one-sided much of the time. And yet I love her so much. I give the Lord credit for the deep love I have for this sister of mine. She is who she is– wonderful, difficult, unpredictable, gregarious, loving, easily upset… and I accept her as such. I don’t let her get her way all the time if I can help it. She and I have always been close, since we were really little. She was easier-going back then and we always had a great time playing together (which translates to me constantly picking her up and swinging her around!)

What a cutie! She's 3 years old, and still not walking.

What a cutie! She’s 3 years old here. Still learning to walk.

That being said, I’m not her primary caretaker. My parents are. I am not the one to help her shower, or to make her meals, or to tell her for the millionth time to stop hugging strangers. As beautiful and as unique as she is, I also see the constant need for correction and instruction wearing my parents down. They’ve been at it for 28 years with her. It’s a battle knowing which things to just completely avoid (such as taking her to a really busy or loud event that might overstimulate her). And… if you can imagine parenting your two year old– year after year, with little improvement or growth, you can just imagine the weariness my parents experience. And yet I see them continue to pursue what is best for her, even though they are often exhausted. My parents’ perseverance ¬†impresses me. Their task is not easy, and it is not short. But they press on.

Being a goofball.

Being a goofball.

There are incredibly hard days which turn into hard weeks and even months. Weariness aside, my mom has often told me that my little sister has been very, very good for our family. She’s absolutely right. My sister is an extraordinary, most wonderful gem. Her unique situation has caused all of us family members to grow in unexpected ways. We are often pushed to our limits by her. We are brought more quickly to joy and laughter by her. And lastly, we are hugged and loved more by her than anyone else! She will make us want to cry in frustration and simultaneously shake our heads in amusement, and we love her for it.

Lastly, if you have a disabled child, you probably understand and face many of the same challenges that my family faces. You know what it’s like to not be able to always go to church or to take a family vacation. You get it when I say that one little change in your child’s routine wrecks the entire day. But it is for those of you who have never known what’s it’s like to live with or parent a disabled child that I write this blog post. To shed some light and to facilitate understanding. We are occasionally met with disapproving glances from others who know nothing of the situation, and it’s hard given the daily grind of parenting a child who will never fly from the nest. Please, I beg of you, give grace to those families you know with disabled children– to the mother who’s disabled son just ran up to you in the grocery store and invaded your personal space, or to the girl who looks like she’s twenty-something but is throwing a temper tantrum at Disneyland for no apparent reason. It is more challenging and wearying than what often meets the eye.

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