Monday, January 19, 2009

random pics

here is norah catherine showing off her ballet skills.

on christmas morning before the present explosion.

whit sledding down the stairs. this went very fast, people. it was kind of one of those things that i wasn't sure if we should be doing, but it was such fun.

a little help from mom.

these are the nutcrackers we put out each christmas season. wade's mom got her boys one (still does) each year and then a couple of years ago she gave wade's to us. and she gets her grandsons one each year. so, we have a couple. and i will carry it on when she isn't her to do so, and with all the boys on and on. and for girls, we do snow globes. this was my idea, since wade's mom had no girls (technically), i had to think of something for nc and any other daughters or granddaughters.

this was from november when we took the children to austin. wade had a conference there and we went for a couple days. it was a great city and the hotel was beautiful. the children loved the aquarium, even in their pj's!

i took the children to a park in austin that was so cool. it had a natural swimming hole (we didn't partake) and playground stuff and a train and lots of natural beauty. it was great.

these are a couple of shots from christmas decor. so sad to see it go; wait, we haven't yet! kind of slow this year. i intend to keep it up until epiphany and then next thing i know it is almost february. oh well.

Monday, January 05, 2009

new year, new hopes

some new year hopes; i don't like to say plans, b/c that just seems presumptuous. these are the practical ones; i will save the spiritual/philosophical/intellectual ones for myself as to avoid seeming...well, i think you know what i mean.

1. run the half-marathon in okc april 26. already crossed off my first training run.

2. make a baby. lord-willing. we are officially out of the woods and i only have monthly lab draws. so, according to the doctor, we can try again in june if i have clear draws from now until then. we might ask about trying in march b/c of some credible medical research stating the need for only 3 month follow-up after a partial molar pregnancy (as opposed to a complete molar pregnancy).

3. start a pretty serious fruit, vegetable, herb garden and become a compostee. my feb issue of bon appetit had some great thoughts on composting and i intend to figure it out. i need to ask the olivers about it because they are compost pros.

4. learn to use the embroider/monogram part of the sewing machine my nana passed onto me.

that's not so bad. surely in a span of twelve months i can accomplish a couple of these!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

all hairdryers go to heaven

yesterday my hairdryer died. well, it was slightly murdered, but in some senses it was only a matter of time. norah catherine was guilty, but i guess it was more or less not premeditated. and kind of an accident. but, when something that close to you dies, you want to blame someone.

why is my hairdryer that close to me?

well, some of you might know this, but for those that don't, i love hairdryers. not for my hair so much, but for my body. ever since i can remember i have taken deep comfort in the sound and warmth of a hairdryer. i have few childhood memories, but two pertinent memories are of this sound/warmth connection. i remember being in sweet bliss when my mom would vacuum. i would run to the couch with a blanket, cover all up (except my head, people who cover their heads in blanket are freakish (sorry husband)) and fall asleep to the sweet melody of the vacuum. the other glorious memory is that of feeling cold or tired or just needing comfort and going to the kitchen to lie down at the bottom of the fridge. the little vent at the bottom shot out warm air and my mom would work around me in the kitchen while i fell asleep there on the ground in sweet warm joy; and the quieter, steady hum was also pleasant, though one prefers it a tad louder.

my parents told me some information that is perhaps linked to this habit, and if nothing else provides a scapegoat for it. when i was a baby and i would cry, they would put a vacuum outside of my door (after they had checked that i was dry and fed) and it would soothe me to sleep; allegedly. i have wondered if it was more soothing to me initially or really the soothing was theirs to have since it allowed them to not hear my crying. not that i am to judge, because for whatever purpose it was meant, i am now the recipient of this wonderful joy. i also found it pure delight when my mom would blow dry my hair, which was not often b/c she liked me to go outside and let the sun dry it. sitting with my mom and feeling the warmth of the dryer and the sound of it, it was so good, a simple thing. which is to say that i also profoundly enjoy fires and space heaters, but the sound quality is slightly lacking.

in elementary school i began to take our hairdryer into my room and fall asleep with it blowing on me. i started to get into trouble for that, what with the danger of fire and all. but i couldn't stop. i would wait until i knew my parents were asleep and then do it. oftentimes i awakened and had weepy blisters on my back or bum. over the years i have learned a good methodology for sleeping with the hairdryer and haven't burned myself since high school. and, i have never caught anything on actual fire, though i have seen a lot of sparks.

in college, i cut down quite a bit because living with others i realized not everyone thought fire hazards a thing with which to play. but still, the weekly afternoon spent reading a book cuddled up with the dryer was irresistible. it was in college that wade and i met, and the dryer thing was beyond tolerance for him. it still is. yet it is a part of me and brings me strange, but not sinful, enjoyment. i try to be considerate (and wise, i guess) and do not keep it on through the nite. but i do take naps with it and i love to turn it on as i get in bed and read and then again when i wake up in the morning. wade says it is the worst sound in the world, a cacophony, perhaps the reason for which that word was created! i think that is a bit harsh, but one man's music is another man's screaming. he actually has a cute little nickname for it, the scream machine.

the most interesting twist in the hairdryer saga, however, is the unrecruited love that my daughter has developed for it. she will come to our room in the morning, climb in bed and say (if it is not already on), "hairdryer, mommy!". i comply joyfully and we find methods to make it work for two. just yesterday, she was in our room for rest time (we had ava and ava was resting in her room) and she ran to find me and said, "mommy the hairdryer is red inside and smells like burning". rightfully alarmed, i ran into my room and found it dead. it is my fault ultimately, because i have not taught her the first rule of dryer operation; you cannot cover the back of it or it will smell most odiously, shoot sparks, and overheat (hopefully before it has caught something on fire). also, i had a chat with her about operating it without my knowing, and i think she really regretted the whole scene. we tried to let it rest and plug it for another go, but it really has expired.

so wish me luck at target today as i find a replacement.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

looking good

well, last week my levels were at 498 which is WAY down from the 1995 the previous week. so far so good. praise God. i go today, i am beginning to feel like a pin cushion, and hopefully soon i will be at zero and can go monthly instead of weekly.

also, dylan got her first bath in over a year. hey, with three children, the dog kind of gets pushed to the bottom of the bathing list!

soon i am going to post some photos of xmas decorations at our house. we have been having fun with that, and norah catherine has been my little helper. she is super cute; she loves helping.

that's all i got.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

sorry, this one could be a downer

so i went to the doctor yesterday for my post-op check-up. wade didn't go with me because we didn't think much of the appointment; he would tell us to wait two months to try again for pregnancy and then that would be it. well, God had other plans.

so, here i am sitting in this doctor's office and he checks me, you know. then i redress and he comes back in and starts talking about the pathology reports on the tissues that they withdrew from my uterus. he said that he didn't think there were going to be any surprises, but there was. wait, what? what is he going to tell me? well, it turns out i had a very rare type of pregnancy called a molar pregnancy. there are two types of molar pregnancies, and mine was the rarer of the two, called a partial molar pregnancy. apparently, this is one of two things (and we will can't know which, and i guess it doesn't really matter): either two sperm fertilized one egg, resulting in a baby with 69 chromosomes (too many to survive ultimately) and the placental tissue starts growing masses (moles) that are pre-cancerous or cancerous. the other case is when there are twins, and one is a mole (tumor) and one is a viable baby that succumbs to the mole. good times. then he says that we will have to have blood tests weekly and then monthly for six months before being released to try again. if all goes well. yes, that is best case scenario. here is where i stopped processing what he was telling me...six months? i was fixated on the devastation of waiting that long, i heard his words after that but i did not understand them or let them into my processing. i was fighting back tears at the thought of not trying again until summer. i got my blood drawn, in a stupor.

on the way home i started thinking, now, did he tell me i have cancer? no, i don't think so, but he did mention choriocarcinoma, which is cancer. hmm, i should have been listening instead of stopping at the six months thing. so when i got home i looked up partial molar pregnancy stuff and i read the words he had said to me, but actually started processing them...hcg levels, chemotherapy, birth control pills, CHEMOTHERAPY? this was just not what i was expecting. i think i am still a little shocked.

i don't want to over-dramatize this, as of now, i don't think that i have cancer. my doctor said there are many positive signs in my case. my uterus is normal size again, a great indication. i don't feel pregnant anymore, also good. although something notable to my recent morning sickness experience, a symptom of molar pregnancy is extreme nausea, but of course, this is so hard to determine from morning sickness, but i knew that this time it was such a different kind of bad. i can hear the words i typed on this very blog about feeling terminally ill, and God forbid it, i hope. okay back to not over-dramatizing, i am hopeful that this will not be cancer. that is because it is daytime and i am somewhat rational. but last nite in the darkness when i couldn't sleep all i could do was cry and think about not seeing norah catherine get married or all of the moments we long for with our children. it was dark and terrible. but the truth is, God didn't promise that i would get to see that and that has to be enough. but it just doesn't feel enough to me right now. i know i should want to see Jesus and be with Him more than anything else, and i believe that once there i would laugh at myself for wanting to be here, but my mind is too finite to understand this fully. okay, i am not saying that i am dying, i don't even know if i have cancer, but i did hear my doctor say "wait and see" and i am scared. to lose a baby, to lose the chance to have another one soon, and then to worry about your future health is just overwhelming at times. the odds are in my favor, only 5-20% of pmp turn into cancer. and even then, if it hasn't metastasized (which this kind goes to the lungs or brain, that's why you have to have chest xrays with your blood draw often) it is almost 100% curable.

so this is the deal; if my blood levels don't fall or if they plateau where they are (in the time of a few weeks) i will have to have chemo. it is a baby chemo, i think, in the sense that it is not knock you off your feet kind. but i am praying that the doctor will call me and say they are falling and looking good, but even then we will have to test monthly for six months! crazy. and, he really wants me to go on the pill, which, for our family has never been an option. he says that a pregnancy during this time would make it impossible to tell if it is cancer growing along with the baby and that if i don't have active cancer cells, it could jump-start that process. so we have realized that this is quite serious and we have to find a way to be sure we aren't taking any chances. i wonder what catholics (old school ones) would do in this situation. i wonder if they would allow nature to take it's course since they don't believe in birth control other than breastfeeding? just a side thought.

please pray for us because we are hopeful and think we have reason to be medically/numerically and know we have reason in Christ, but the latter doesn't always mean things go the way you would plan them! pray that my hcg levels drop dramatically and stay that way and that we would know as soon as possible with what it is we are dealing.

Friday, November 07, 2008

holiday bug

yesterday i was reading to the children from a snowy, xmas type book and we started talking about the holidays. it was so super exciting because advent and xmastime are full of anticipation, joyous festivity, cold weather (hopefully) and of course, the "reason for the season" (oh, i just did). the children and i were giddy with excitement and kept thinking of the things that come with this time of year. i am going to post a list and if anyone has something that they know i wouldn't want to miss, please let me know! but, as a new and hopefully lasting tradition, this one will get it's own couple of sentences. we are going to see the nutcracker at bass performance hall. lord-willing. i cannot fully explain what it means to me, and we are going to take whit and norah catherine with us. the ticket prices range from not bad to oh my goodness and i am hoping we settle on somewhere in the middle. ballet is my favorite thing that people do in front of others. i guess that is a weird description, but i want to include sports, performances, arts, etc as my pool from which i am drawing. pretty recently we watched a sermon of john piper's and he talked about the ways that we know there is a God in the Rom. 1:20 way, the incontrovertible visions of creation or abilities of creatures that could only be given by a Creator. his thing was gymnastics, he described it and was so excited, it was hard for me to fully enter into it as he can, but i know what he means b/c for me that is (amongst other things and maybe this should be another post) ballet. when i watch it (which i have only done live once or twice) it takes my breath away. it is glorious, impossibly beautiful and impossibly skillful, exhilarating, congruous, fluid, and overwhelmingly moving (for me). i get some of that when i watch men's soccer, but ballet is above all the rest in this area. okay sorry. so i am really excited about this and the children are also delirious with excitement about it and we have been reading our nutcracker book (such a weird story, kind of goofy, i think) and we cannot wait. dec. 19th at 8 pm. okay onto other holiday joys.

1. advent readings and calendar. we go to and print out the appropriate year's book of common prayer readings for advent (we try to do the readings for the whole year, but after easter we get kind of spotty on following the calendar, but i am ready to try again!) we have a little calendar on the fridge and each nite after reading/singing, etc the children each get to put a star on the day and see how long until baby Jesus' birth. they love it.

2. i am not sure about age, but i would love to take the older children ice skating at the galleria and to see the infinitely tall xmas tree they have there.

3. i want to volunteer with the children. we should do this always, but we have not been faithful in this area. our small group is providing a way to do this and we will start working with a children's place and do xmas and birthday parties for the children there, and our family can do it all together, and the children will learn some valuable and hard truths, lord-willing.

4. wade and i have always enjoyed reading a long book out loud together sitting next to a cozy fire. also, we will do this with the children, i think we are going to read the hobbit.

5. decorating the house and tree together. last year nc caught our floor on fire but it was exciting and steph and i were able to put it out.

6. xmas movies and epic movies. these are on all the time during this season, we own LOTR and Harry Potter, but it seems so much more exciting to catch them on tv. something about the season makes usually shrewd movie-viewers excited to watch cheesy, goofy dribble. home alone, elf, xmas vacation (all time fave), etc.

7. wrapping gifts together and watching aforementioned movies.

8. making and having on hand: puppy chow, chex mix, real hot cocoa with endless marshmallows, smores, hot cider with red hots, texas sheet cake, sugar cookies with frosting, gingerbread men, pecan pie, etc. this list could probably go on and on. but if it weren't for this aspect, for what would new year's resolutions be?

9. sending and receiving xmas cards. such a great way to connect with people with whom you haven't in a while (okay facebook might take away some of this novelty), to put their happy faces up in your home and think of them a little bit more during this time.

10. advent candles. also has great info about this part of xmas and it is so great for the children (and us, really).

11. singing, listening to xmas carols on the radio and to xmas pieces on the classical station. SUFJAN XMAS!!! SUFJAN XMAS!!!

12. going to look at xmas lights. we aren't sure where we will do this, being in a new place, but it is an exciting prospect.

13. xmas eve service. meditating on God Incarnate, candles, voices united, cozy pews snuggled with wiggly, sleepy children. the Church, the gospel...ineffably good stuff.

14. well, i would say our annual xmas party, but that might or might not happen at some other yule season. so sad. but somehow we will see our friends and family and it will be so good.

15. giving and receiving (you know you like to get) gifts and knowing why you are doing these things...capitalism? it doesn't have to be, just being intentional in your heart and as you explain to the tykes, that can go a long way, with God's grace.

well, what am i forgetting?

Monday, November 03, 2008


well, as is most likely known, we have had a hard past week. obviously, the past few weeks have been hard, (see whiny blog below if you have forgotten) but this past one has trumped those by far. i have been having a hard time sleeping at nite and i can't stop thinking about what has happened and how i feel about it. so i am going to try to get some of that out here.

first off, last sunday i started feeling especially ill. then monday and tuesday were the worst i had experienced and i didn't eat from monday lunch until late tuesday nite. tuesday evening we went to the ER b/c i was dehydrated and having bowel problems. everything as far as the baby in particular seemed fine to us. of course, if you go to the er and you are pregnant, they give you an ultrasound (and a foley catheter, ugh). this kind of seemed exciting since my dr has been so booked we can't get in to see her and were kind of anxious to see/hear something about the baby. when we went to the er i was nine weeks six days. it was crazy b/c while the girl did my ultrasound i asked her if she would be able to tell me anything (i was thinking twins, gender, size, etc) and she said no we would have to wait for the dr to read the results and then talk with us. so she stared at the screen that i couldn't see and just took picture after picture and we talked. at one point, i remember, she put her hand on her chest and her countenance changed, whether this was b/c of what she saw i don't know, but she did it nonetheless. it didn't worry me, really, i don't know why. i usually get worried over everything, but i just thought everything about this pregnancy was progressing like the others. after the ultrasound wade and i watched tv for a while waiting on the doctor. when he finally came he had a printout of prescriptions one for constipation, some nausea meds, some painkillers (why?). then he said that my blood levels were at nine weeks and the baby measured nine weeks six days. sounded right on to me. then he says, but there was no heartbeat. i was shocked. i just couldn't even comprehend what he was saying. so the baby is dead, i asked. well, we don't know, it seems but just cross your fingers and go see your doctor tomorrow. thanks, doc. well, that was all it took for me to know. wade was hopeful and i was sure that our baby was dead. not b/c i am smart but b/c my favorite quote which i have sadly shared before, is from LOTR when the rohirrm guy says, about finding the hobbits alive, "trust not nor hope for such things are forbidden in these lands". i know this is not the gospel. but still, the baby was dead. and that is the gospel. so if i had hoped i guess i would have enriched something spiritually or something. but so far, i am still pessimistic and act hopeless at times. but it isn't like i am not hopeful that God will make good of this...i guess it is just that i want to prepare myself and wade would say i want to protect myself.

well, the next day we got in to see a doctor and they did another ultrasound and let us take part. it was surreal, i did hope at that moment. up on the screen was the clearest shot of our little baby, legs, arms, bottom, was bizarre to me b/c we have always had ultrasound after twenty weeks, and here was this ten week baby that looked just the same on the screen. it was terrible because as soon as the baby was up there i recognized the flashing in the dark chamber part was absent. and there was no other movement. deep within me i was begging that baby to do something, to show them that the ER tech had made an error. anything but nothing. nothing is terrible. nothing is death. this tech and the doctor let us see and pointed to what we already knew was not there. they told us that the baby had died. that he measured nine weeks and six days and i asked did that mean that he died tuesday? the doctor said he had died very recently. (i am referring to the baby as a he b/c that is just what i felt like it was when i saw him on the screen.) we decided to do a D&C the next day and that is what we did. it went exceedingly well and the doctor seems to have done a very good job. i am thankful for that and i am thankful that my morning sickness is gone and i am not feeling it for no reason. it has been good to feel alive again even though death has brought it back. i would take the sickness back in a second if it meant i could be pregnant with a live baby.

this was not our first miscarriage. somehow i can't call this one a miscarriage. we have been saying "our baby died". it was the first one to go to almost ten weeks and the first one to be confirmed medically and for us to see on ultrasound. the first one we were set on and the first pregnancy that we have ever planned. there was a lot of waiting to get pregnant since we have three young children and the time finally came that we thought it would make sense to be pregnant, the first time for it to make sense, actually. we love all three of our wonderful blessings, but none of them were our technical idea in the beginning. it took no time to get excited with them (well, one of them took a while) but this pregnancy was something longed for and the day i read the test (correctly) we were jubilant. ecstatic. delighted and tremendously blessed, lavished upon by the Creator of life. so, i think seeing this baby and longing for this pregnancy has made this so sad to us. it has given us pause to praise God for the children we have and realize many people never experience pregnancy, even though it is their deepest longing. we are a strange mix of sad and thankful. we are so overwhelmed by the care and love we have been shown by our old friends and our new friends, our family, by the Church. i haven't gone a day without crying, but i haven't gone a day without laughing, either (well, i guess thursday the day of surgery i only cried). i have heard so many others' stories of this same anguish and also heard about their joy in that anguish. i want the sadness and longing to go away, but i know i need to embrace it and find in it, Jesus, my true reward and treasure. today when whit recited his psalm on which we are working at this time, i was truly comforted by this part: "though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death, i will fear no evil, for you are with me. your rod and your staff, they comfort me." it is a good psalm anytime, yet i see God's providence in us memorizing it right now. we are hopeful to have another baby, but fearful also of this recurring. in all of it, the point of everything we endure is that God will have all of us and will make us like Jesus, and may it be so.