Monday, December 31, 2007

Is 4 It?

Kind of related to my last post, some of you may be wondering, "When is this chic going to stop having babies?" I know lots of people wonder that when couples have kids at the rate we do. :-) We've had plenty of comments along the way about how "surely" we "are done"...even before this pregnancy we got that comment. Apparently having 3 kids is seen as a big family these days...oh dear, we are just busting at the seams. :-) So funny...people's perspectives. I don't get mad or anything...I seriously think it's funny. I just laugh.

But, since I'm of the non-private sort, and since this blog is really like an online journal for me in many ways, and just because...I thought I'd let you all in on where we are with that whole reproduction thing and the number of children we think we might have. Guess what?

We have. No. Idea!! :-) How do you like that for an answer? :-)

It's a very interesting subject/topic. Lots of people have very definite opinions on the matter...and more specifically whether or not to "control" the number of children you have. One side says to definitely control the amount of children you have yourself. It's irresponsible if you don't. The other side says to trust God completely with the amount of children you have...who else but Him knows exactly the timing of when He needs/wants a child to be born...He can definitely be trusted with this aspect of your life, as well as all others. They are both good arguments. People on each side of the camp are very convinced that theirs is the right way. And some (most probably) see both ways but feel it's just a definite personal decision for each couple.

(Disclaimer: PLEASE...with respect, this post is NOT at all a request for your advice. I am NOT in ANY WAY soliciting your opinions. I am one of those who feels like this is something that has to be a very personal decision that each couple makes on their own as to what they believe overall and what God would have them do personally. I'm sharing this because that's just where we are...and I know lots of couples who are there too. I'm not sharing it in hopes of answers. Just wanted to clarify that. Feel completely free to share your opinion as far as how you feel personally in a respectful way, but I'm just saying I'm not asking for answers here.)

I, personally, have grown to lean more towards the camp of just trusting God. BUT, at the same time, I do feel like God can tell someone when He is done using their uterus to reproduce. BUT (again), if that's the case, wouldn't He be able to shut up their uterus (those very words are used in the Bible several times) if He's done with it...surely He doesn't have to rely on us to take a pill or monitor ovulation times, right?

Having said that, I also don't really want to be performing the miracle of birth every year until menopause. I love the idea of having many children, but not necessarily the idea of HAVING many children. :-) Growing another human being inside your body can really take its toll. The birthing process and recovery can also take its toll. It's hard work to say the least.

Also, throw into the mix that we really feel a call to adopt. Does God want us to put the brakes on bio. kids ourselves at some point to adopt or does He want us just to trust Him with each (bio. and adopted), therefore not using any form of birth control?

(Sidenote: Something that doesn't apply to us, and just adds to my belief that it is a very personal, each-couple-has-to-decide-on-their-own thing...I believe that just because you are married doesn't mean you are supposed to have children at all. Some couples are called to things and lifestyles that would not be appropriate for children to be born into...nothing bad obviously, but just not a lifestyle that would be nurturing for children. Those couples have to obviously decide how to go about things. Just wanted to address that. Some people believe that if you are married, having kids is the next step...not always so in my opinion.)

So, yeah...that's where we are. We're not sure the answers to all those questions for us yet. I've talked to several couples over the years who wonder the same things. Trusting God does not mean you are blind. He is our friend. He lets us in on things and lets us know exactly what we should do each step of the way. We are obviously not "freaking" about all these questions that we have concerning children in our lives. We know the answers will come in due time (they're just not here yet)...we are at peace completely. But, just wanted to write all this down and share the questions that some (including us) have.

It's a very interesting thing. And, pretty weighty also. Being able to bring children into this world is an amazing privilege. I don't want to stop short of what God has for me...don't want to hinder anything that He has, whether that means we only have 4 bio. kids or we have more...whether that means we have more bio. kids, but just not right now...just whatever that means. He will give us the answers, we are sure of it. It's fun looking forward to see how this will all play out. Ahh, living your life for God and looking to Him for ALL answers is so exciting and unexpected and spontaneous. Love it.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Horse Of Course

This is kind of a weird post, but I thought it was funny. It dawned on me in the shower the other night (that's where I do my best's quiet you know) that it's so appropriate that I am my Daddy's daughter. Let me explain...

Daddy loves horses. We've always had horses. At times we would be down to about 3 or so horses, but then other times we'd have 27 or so of them grazing down in the pasture in front of our house. My brothers and I all rode them, showed them in 4-H, etc. Jared even became a veterinarian and has horses of his own. So, the farm life and horses are near to all of us.

So, it was just so funny the other night when it popped into my head...I am like a horse. :-) Again, let me explain...

Most female horses give birth once a year. :-) As do lots of farm animals, they give birth every spring. Now, their pregnancies usually last about 11-12 months, so I'd say they are working a little harder than me (although their "toddlers" aren't usually needing major supervision). But, yeah...just thought it was a funny thought.

Out of all the horses Daddy's raised, I must be his favorite...surely. ;-)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Feijao e Arroz

Beans and rice. I think I have a love-hate relationship with beans and rice. I love that they are so healthy for you (of course, as usual, that depends on the way you make them, but for the most part). I love that they are so cheap. I love that if you don’t have anything else to eat, they are right there for you and you still get great protein. They are definitely plentiful here, that’s for sure. But, I have to say...not my favorite food by a long shot. Not even close.

The other night at our couples’ meeting that we have every Monday night, the speaker asked our favorite food and we went around professing our love for a specific thing. Mine was basically anything Mexican. Joel’s was stroganoff. But I was baffled...utterly shocked. In fact, Joel had to tell me to stop making faces (didn’t realize I was...I was just so in amazement). :-) A few of those people said “beans and rice.” Hello!! Are you serious?!?!?

Here’s the thing...they have it EVERY DAY!! It is served for lunch and most of the time a little serving of leftovers is given at supper too. They sometimes have other things too...a meat, some salad of some sort (sometimes that is more like what we’d call a relish or even salsa...chopped up tomatoes, onions, and green peppers), etc. But, yeah...every day. If I had Mexican every day (and not even the same food of the Mexican variety), that would cease to be my favorite. I asked Joel too and he said that yeah...if he had stroganoff every day, that would no longer be his favorite either. I was just seriously in shock. :-)

These people at our meeting are what would be comparable to middle class in the states too. They aren’t poor. They aren’t eating beans and rice because that’s the cheap thing to do and it’s the only thing they can afford...they aren’t doing it out of necessity. They have nice houses, nice cars, nice jobs...they don’t HAVE to eat beans and rice every single day of their lives. But, they want to. It’s very much a part of the culture here, no matter your financial status. But, declare that as your favorite food when you’ve had it every day of your life (literally...I’m SO not exaggerating)...I’m still amazed.

Variety. It dawned on me the other day that that really kind of sums up what is not here that I miss. Not just in the category of food either. There is very little variety in cars here. Very little variety in stores. Very little variety in houses or yards (or walls really...that’s mostly all you see). There’s not much variety in the opportunities you have here either...not many different choices in the schooling you can have or where you can go for schooling...and it’s hard and very competitive.

It’s a simple life here. That definitely has its advantages, but also its drawbacks of course. It’s definitely different, esp. coming from the United States...the “land of opportunity,” where you have the world at your fingertips literally (importation is nice) and all the variety you’d ever want. But, it’s good here...just things like that are very interesting to me. It’s a nice life, but I do still try to stray away from feijao e arroz. :-)

P.S. Did you see who commented on my blog yesterday?!? The founder of Waterbirth Internation for heaven's sake!! I've read her book before, visited her website in previous pregnancies. But no...I hadn't contacted her at all...hadn't even visited her website with this pregnancy. I am amazed. I don't even know how she found my blog...assuming she did some kind of search. But, still...amazingly cool. Another God connection I'm thinking. Exciting.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The God-Sent Doctor

I am seriously completely overwhelmed and awestruck!!

As you all know, the natural birth situation here is not a good one. What I mean by that is that it's just not common at all. In fact, we've visited 3 doctors here. The 2nd one was here in Anapolis and at a hospital that is strictly a maternity hospital. They are pro-natural births, but the truth is that most people just want C-sections...forget the option of pushing a baby out at all, even if you do have an epidural and all the drugs you want. I think that the trend here is that pushing a baby out under any circumstances is a little degrading...not nearly as sophisticated as just going in for a little surgery. So, the 2nd doctor we went to, she was recommended as our best option for a natural birth, along with the hospital where she works. She told us that the C-section rate there is 95%. GASP!! It's not her doing...that's just mostly people who want them.

There is another place here that sounds basically kind of like a birthing center. They are all about natural births in that they have great equipment...special birthing chairs, birthing balls, etc. They are really free about what they let their patients do...walk the halls, assume any positions wanted, etc. BUT, we've heard the lady in charge there is a bit of a nazi. The husbands ARE NOT allowed to be present at the birth. HELLO!! I don't think so.

Well, I think I've mentioned that a while back (right before this 2nd doctor visit), I was just feeling GREAT un-peace about the whole thing. So, what did I do? Google of course. :-) Google is seriously my friend.

I typed in "midwives in Brazil." Up pops several Brazilian website, but first I saw an American article about midwives in Brazil. Long story short, it linked me up to another couple of websites where I was able to get an email address of a midwife here in Brazil. She lives in another state, but she and another lady whose email address I got helped me find a couple of contact people in my area.

One lady is an American. Her name is Traci and she is a doula and yoga instructor. Now, I'm not into yoga, but the doula part interested me and the fact that I could speak to her in English. So, I got her email, she sent me her number, and we talked.

She told me about a couple of doctors in Goiania. She now lives in Brasilia, but used to live in Goiania and had one of her children there. I told her my experience and she told me about a doctor that is all for natural births, even homebirths...AND he encourages water births. That is completely unheard of here. In fact, when we asked the 2nd doctor about the possibility of a water birth, she just laughed at us.

So, the American doula gave us his name and number. Joel called last week and we set up a time to go see him...he met us after hours.

We had asked that if this was our man, that God would make it completely clear. Well, he walked in and had 2 books under his arm. One was a book by Larry Crabb (an American Christian author if you don't know) and the other book was entitled, "Missions: What is your part?" Now, that didn't mean he was our man, but it sure was a good sign.

We talked in his office for at least an hour. We got to ask all our questions. We knew at the end of the meeting that he was indeed our guy to deliver this baby.

Luiz Carlos Pinheiro is his name. He is so humble and really into just the natural birth process. His mentality is basically the same exact mentality as the midwives back home. It's pretty awesome. We asked him how he arrived at that mentality since it is SO opposite of the mentality here in Brazil overall. He said that the doctor that runs the clinic has that mentality...he kind of came under her and learned that. But, he took it even further...he's willing to do home births and studied water births and even bought his own tub to take to births. He will not even consider doing elective C-sections. He could make alot more money I'm sure if he agreed to do that. But, his wording to us was that "it's not considerate to the baby." Yeah, I like this guy.

His daughter lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She just had a baby 9 months ago. He was there to observe...she was attended by a midwife. So, it's nice...he's completely familiar with all the things that we are familiar with giving birth in the states using a midwife since his daughter just went through the whole thing. Plus, he's just so humble and loves to learn about it all. We asked him if he knew about the Bradley Method and he didn't know the name, but when Joel explained it to him, he was excited about researching it. He does follow the basic concept of Bradley already though...and knew the book "Childbirth Without Fear" by the guy who basically inspired Bradley in the beginning.

After talking to this doctor, there was only one piece left in the puzzle...we had to get permission from these house owners to actually birth here. Well, they were more than happy for us to, so it's a done deal. We are now planning a home water birth and I'm so stinking excited and can't believe God's provision...if you knew just how unheard of that is here, you would know just how much of a miracle it is. It's a miracle in that we even found someone who was willing...and he's not just willing, he's equipped and excited about the opportunity.

He always brings along a doula (Traci, the American, was one of his doulas until she moved) and a pediatrician to his births. He's never actually been able to do a home birth. Traci was supposed to have a home birth (she had a home birth with her first Spain), but her water broke and she never went into labor on her own, so they had to go to the hospital and induce. But nobody have been interested in a home's just not done here. It's radical for people to deliver vaginally...and even more radical to deliver without drugs. So, to announce that you are having a home that's just a little on the "weirdo" side. :-) It's like that in some circles in the states, but even moreso here. Out of the 7 years that our doctor has been delivering babies (he had another profession before that), he's only had 7 people who wanted the water birth experience (in the hospital). So, he's really excited about us. :-)

Also, when he found out that we work with Asas de Socorro, I thought he was going to do a cartwheel. :-) He said that he gets their newletters and is really excited about working with them in the near future.

The whole thing is just so God-ordained, every little part. I don't know why I am always so aghast when that happens...things like that have happened plenty of times before in my life. It's common. But, every time, it still blows me away. Pretty cool, God.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Our Christmas In Pictures

As you all know, we've been celebrating Christmas for the whole of December. We made Christmas gifts, we made Christmas decorations for the house (you'll see some of these in the pictures), we drank hot chocolate, we played Christmas music non-stop. It was fantastic. But, it all culminated in the last 2 days...super great days. We had a wonderful time, just staying at our house the whole 2 days...playing, having treats, opening gifts and playing some stuff! Here are just a few pictures of Monday, yesterday, and even this morning.

We had a leisurly Christmas Eve. Here the kids are that morning...Hadley was just sitting in her chair there looking at the tree. I suggested we bring in the Christmas books we have and they could read them at the Christmas tree, so that's what they did...for a very long time.
We still didn't have a tree topper. We had looked at a couple of different stores when we went shopping, but I had thought the whole time we could just make one. When we didn't see any we liked anyway, that's what we did. Joel drew us a star on cardboard (yes, I'm such a horrible artist I can't even draw a star...I didn't even attempt; thank goodness God gave me Joel for all the artistry needs in the family). Then we just put foil on it. Simple, but it looks great.
Eissa even helped a little before her nap.
Our Christmas tree star.

Daddy did the honors and placed it on the tree.
"Woohoo, Daddy...great job!"

Still just looking at their Christmas star.
Now it was movie time...Christmas movie time. So, we watched a cute Mickey Mouse Winter Wonderland video (they don't have any classics like Rudolph or Frosty here) and had some popcorn. It was fun.
Before bed on Christmas Eve, the kids each opened a gift from Granny.

"Um, Daddy...guy with the camera...what's going on here?"

She knows (instinctively I guess...I don't really carry a purse) exactly what to do with a purse. She stuck her arm out for me to put it on her. She carries bags on her arms all the time around the house. So funny.

Hadley got a little purse with flip flops all over it.
"Oh my goodness, there's stuff inside." Some pretty cool ponytail holders were in Hadley's purse.
Curious George book and Mary Poppins DVD.
He immediately started reading his new book. I think he liked his gift.
On my last walk through the house that night, I saw how our star was really shining with the light on it. Had to take a pic.
Waiting patiently to open presents on Christmas morning.
It's finally time!! Grady's first activity book.

We got some great packages from our friends Thad and Wendy Cooper and their extended amazingly sweet and generous. Here Eissa was opening a gift from them...a great wooden toy. She LOVES it too...she carries it all over the house.
Opening gifts.

About 3 months ago Grady went with me to a paper store. There they also have a few toys. One of those toys was a scooter. Well, after that, that is all we heard from Grady. He called it a "skateboard." He would even ask for jobs so that he could get paid so that he could buy a scooter. He would get a handful of change out of our change cup and declare that he was going to the store to buy a scooter. Anyway, needless to say, that was his big gift for Christmas. He was (and is) pretty excited about it.
Trying it out.
What a mess we make!! Ahh...this is what Christmas is supposed to look like though. :-)
One of Eissa's gifts...a riding toy. Getting a little help from her sister.
LOVES her riding toy.
My cousin Adam got Grady's name at the Hough family drawing. So, he sent him some Lincoln Logs...another SUPER classic toy. Man, we love those. They have been enjoyed by Grady (and Joel) a bunch already...thanks, Adam!
Mama sent the kids a great little set of miniature Tupperware dishes. So fun. I had some of those when I was little play with at Aunt Marilyn's house.
This Christmas was partly about replenishing. We are still in the process, but didn't bring any Legos down to Brasil. So, we were able to get some of those. Little people can't go without Legos.
I got one of these when I was little. I'm not sure how old...maybe even Hadley's age. So, when I saw this at the store the other day, I knew we had to get it. Oh yes, a good ole Fuzzy Pumper Barber Shop.
Cutting hair. She literally sat at the table and played with this for at least 2 hours yesterday afternoon.
Eissa quickly found her riding toy again after she got up from her nap.
Time to make the birthday cake. This is our favorite cake of all time. O.K., maybe it's more like my favorite cake. Nobody else complains though. And I'm sure it must be Jesus' favorite too...surely. :-) I've never thought to ask, but I bet if I asked Him, he would put Himself in bodily form just long enough to eat some with us. It's just that good. :-)

Our birthday party for Jesus. We didn't have any candles, but we sang to Him (we had several times throughout the day already) and ate it up. After this, the kids took showers, we read our last Christmas book of the day, and went to bed. Then, Joel and I watched "Christmas With the Kranks," the only Christmas movie they carry at the movie store.
The rest of these pictures were taken this morning. Here is Joel helping the kids with a Toddlers' computer game that Mama sent them.
Hadley got a doctor (or a nurse, right?) kit from us for Christmas. So, here is sick Hadley getting some care from Dr. Grady.

Again, hope you had a very Merry Christmas...just like we did!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Good Ole Santy Claus - Part 2

We don't do the Santa thing. :-) Hee hee hee. Were you expecting something different given my ranting in the previous post? Well, here's the explanation (it's obviously not because of the typical arguments that I just shared with you yesterday)...

Although I grew up with the whole Santa concept, Joel did not. Since he didn't grow up with "the game," it really does feel awkward. It's like for people who didn't grow up playing with guns (toy guns)...cops and robbers, cowboys and indians...playing with guns, pointing at someone and saying "pow"...that also feels awkward and wrong. I know how it feels to play the Santa game and what to say and just all of it. But, Joel is not acquainted at all, so it's just foreign and weird to him (kind of like all of this foreign Brasil stuff to me...some of it just feels downright wrong...more on that in another post).

Anyway, we had thought about possibly just doing Santa, but I would handle all the questions, etc. We decided that that would be awkward too...kind of like Joel speaking Portuguese to the kids from the start was awkward. I didn't know what he was saying...I wasn't really participating (in their conversation) it was just weird. So, we just decided that we wouldn't do Santa.

And guess's been fine. At first I thought it was going to be really sad to give up that part of my childhood. It was fun. It was exciting. But, I haven't felt any void either. So either way, in my book, Santa doesn't have to be a big deal. If you do it, great. If you don't, who really cares. It's your focus that counts. You as parents are in charge of the focus you give your children, the perspective. If you do Santa, make sure you give your children the right focus. If you don't do Santa, again...make sure the focus is right. Not doing Santa does not ensure that your focus is fact I know several parents who kind of down others for doing Santa...what is that teaching your children?

So what do we tell the kids about Santa? Nothing. We don't tell them that there's a man that some people believe in but they are wrong. We don't talk about how misguided the people who do the Santa thing are. We don't tell them that those parents lie to their children. So actually hasn't even come up. We do have books that talk about Santa in them...our kids have never even asked about him. Maybe once or twice...can't remember. But, if that even happened, we just said that was Santa and left it at that. I was just reading a book to the kids the other night. There is a story that has Santa in it in one of the books we were reading. I asked them who that was and they said Santa Claus. I'm not sure what they think of who he is and what he does, but they've never questioned. I know they will, but it hasn't happened yet. One thing is for sure...we certainly want to be respectful and not ruin the Santa game for anyone who does play.

(Update: As I get ready to post this today, I have a funny story for you. I wrote this a while back, but today when we told the kids that today is Christmas Eve, Grady said, "Oh, is Santa coming over?" So hilarious. I asked him who Santa is and what he does...he said that he brings presents for little kids. It's a good sign...he's definitely paying attention when I read him books. :-) So, what will we tell him? We just laughed when he said that this morning. We (me and Joel) talked about it after we just ignore it or do we address the Santa many options. It's so fun figuring out what to do each step of the way with our kids. They really keep you on your toes. I think we might share the story of the real St. Nick and just go from there answering any questions...and not answering questions that aren't asked. I have a feeling though, as long as they get gifts they aren't going to care who they are getting them from. :-) Sounds selfish, but they are kids...that's normal. I like getting gifts too.)

What do we do for Christmas and gifts and such? Well, last year was the first time that we actually got to start developing our own traditions and doing what we wanted to do with the day/holiday. That was the first time we weren't traveling. So, it was glorious actually.

We got each of our kids 3 gifts...going from the story of Jesus and how He also got 3 gifts from the Wise Men. We saw that as a great explanation for our kids, a great way to point to Jesus in their lives (and how to live like He did), and a great way to just be practical and not accumulate too much or spend too much. Stocking stuffers are not included in those gifts, but usually stocking stuffers are just little things or fruit or candy anyway. It's Brazilians, our kids are still spoiled, even with just 3 gifts each. Most Brazilian kiddos only get one gift from their parents. :-)

Starting this year, as far as gifts go, we plan to also get the kids to pick out 3 of their own toys that they don't want or need anymore. We will then take them to the orphanage that is just a couple of streets over from our house. We will give them a pile of toys to choose from, so it won't be anything really super valuable or things that we think they still need to play with (update...we have already done this, but just haven't taken them over to the orphanage yet). It's not like we're busting at the seams with toys or anything. Since we've moved so much, we've had to keep our belongings to a minimum anyway, toys included. But, we do have some pretty crappy toys...things like from Happy Meals and such that are floating around. Even though they aren't the best toys to us, they would be great treasures to these kids. That makes us sound like rich snobs, but compared to these kids, we are super rich, even though we live quite simply.

Anyway, what we did last year on Christmas day...and what we plan this year too is...we wake up and let the kids open one gift at a time, one person at a time. It's really fun. Then we have breakfast (pancakes is usually our fun breakfast of choice...but, maybe some chocolate muffins that we got in a package in the stuff). We just play...and make a cake...a birthday cake...for Jesus. Then we might have some lunch, or maybe not depending on how late our breakfast is (last year we didn't). Then it's time for naps. When the kids wake up, we play some more, have supper, put icing on the cake, and have our birthday party. Of course, Christmas music is playing the whole day. And, I'm sure hot chocolate will be had all around.

Anyhoo, that's our day. Not sure what we'll do for Christmas Eve this year. Maybe open one gift from Granny or a movie and have the Christmas story (although we've been reading Christmas books and the Christmas story for the whole of December). I'll keep you posted. This will be our first year not at Granny Hough's house (although we did miss one family Christmas the year Grady was due on Dec. 21st...didn't come 'til Jan. 3rd, but again...that's another story).

I don't know if you know this or not, but I LOVE Christmas. So much fun. I'll let you know how it all turns out and what we did and such...and I'm sure I'll include some pictures too.

HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Good Ole Santy Claus - Part 1

Ahh, again...just like Halloween...this is one of those issues that people, esp. Christians, are so passionate about and definitely have their opinions.

Here's the deal...because some of you have asked in the past years how we do the whole Santa thing (and only because you've asked), I thought I'd just post a bit about where we stand on the whole matter and what we do personally. Here goes...

First of all, my experience with the whole Santa Claus thing was a great one. My family did Santa Claus. In fact, we didn't know anybody who didn't at that point. We knew exactly what Christmas meant and why we celebrated...Santa didn't take away from the fact that it was Jesus' birthday and that was the reason for Christmas in the first place. But, we did the whole Santa thing. We went to sit on his lap, pull his beard, make our requests known, even wrote him a letter or two from what I recall. Oh, and I think I remember calling some Santa hotline one time to make sure he knew what I wanted. We left food for him a few times. And, of course woke up with the excitement of seeing what Santa had left us on Christmas morning.

Here are just a few of the arguments of the non-Santa lovers that I've heard:
1. people make him out to sound like Jesus - I guess you could take it that way...the whole "he sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows when you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake" thing. But, in all reality, even after I found out that Santa was not "real"...I never equated those characteristics described in that song or told to me about Santa, with Jesus...ever. I equated them with my parents, who I found out were playing Santa all along. I mean, they did see me when I was sleeping...they did know when I was awake, and they knew when I was bad or good (and wanted me to be good for goodness sake). :-)
2. why let some fictional character take all the credit for the good things you give to your children - I'm sorry, but this argument is totally lame to me...and pretty selfish too. I mean, I love that my parents played the "game of Santa" with us. I love that they were selfless enough to let some fictional character take all the credit those first few years. It was fun.
3. Santa overshadows the real reason for Christmas - If parents are really parenting and teaching their children the true meaning of Christmas and focusing on the only reason...this will not be an issue. The Santa thing will just be an add-on...a bonus feature...a fun game like I said.
4. when the children do find out the truth, they will feel deceived, manipulated, and lied to by their parents - I have to say that I never had these feelings. Again, I actually had feelings of gratefulness that my parents had been so giving all those years...and never even took the credit. Never let on that it was them that was doing it all...allowed me to have the fun of the game of Santa. BUT...I do have friends who actually did have these feelings when they found out about Santa (and these are not crazy, melo-dramatic people...they are just very ordinary, normal people that I'm talking about). I think that that is the rare case and not the norm, but apparently it does happen. So, it is something to keep in mind...if you do the Santa thing, you might want to really be careful in how you do handle the situation when they do find out. Apparently my parents did it in a way that made it feel like a special thing all those years.
Just thought I'd throw in my experience of "finding out" here. I was sitting at the end of our dining room table. Mama was on the other end, in what would later be Tucker's seat, probably using her 60-mile an hour fingers on her adding machine (I can hear it now). Daddy and Jared were in the living room. I had been hearing more and more from my classmates about this Santa situation...they said he wasn't really real. So, I asked Mama. Since Jared was in the living room, she told me to Shh! and come to where she was. She put her arm around me and I don't remember exactly what she said (that was some years ago), but it was something to the effect of Santa representing the spirit of giving and that that is always alive and real. But, by the end of our conversation I did know that they were the ones giving us our Santa gifts.
5. why would you want to LIE to your kids anyway - I just didn't see it as lying. Some people do maybe. Maybe it's all in how the parents present it? I don't know. And again...I think that it's rare that the kids see it as lying...I just thought it was a fun game. I even got stories told to me about how the mark on my baby doll's arm was where Santa dropped her out of his sleigh. And, how the elves had forgotten one of the pieces in a set (of something...doll house maybe...don't remember). Anyway, it was all terribly damaging...that's sarcasm, by the way. In fact, I still have that doll and every time I see that mark, I smile at how that baby was dropped so far out of Santa's sleigh, but he went all the way down there to the ground to pick her up for me. Such a cute, fun story.
6. if you "lie" to your kids about Santa, when they do find out about it, they will question if you are telling them the truth about Jesus too - Again, NEVER even put Jesus and Santa in the same category. Jesus was what our lives were about...we went to church every time the doors were open, we prayed, we sang about Him, we worshiped Him...we lived our lives for Him. Santa? Hello...not even remotely close. He was a once-a-year fun thing. It wasn't like we had any purpose through Santa or anything. I do realize that some parents use Santa all year..."Santa is watching" kind of thing. But, that is the parents' fact, should that parent not do Santa? If that parent didn't do Santa, do you think he/she would be pointing that kid to Christ instead? Sounds like that parent doesn't really know who Christ is in the first place...otherwise they would be saying "Jesus is watching."

Alright, now that I've said all of that, here's what we do...

(I'll post the rest of what I wrote's too long to be one post.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Is This Not The Coolest Thing Ever?

If the previous 2 posts have seemed to be a bit of a downer (as far as babies go), you will be picked right back up in this post. Joy, joy, and more joy...

Yep, Tuesday God gave me a big ultrasound lollipop. I've never had a 3D ultrasound before. If you just can't wait, the video is down below...then come back up and read about it all. :-)

We went in the little room and the technician set the ultrasound machine all up for the doctor. I was hoping for the guy that did my ultrasound last time, at 13 weeks...the one who spoke English and was so nice. He wasn't there. The radiologist Tuesday was nice, but was quick and didn't speak much English (it's not like I'm expecting people to speak English's just a bonus when it happens). He came in, ran through his measurements really quickly, and then he was done. I thought we were through. But, then the technician sits back down. We had no idea what she was doing...what was left to do. But, she proceeds to go to the 3D mode and lets us just watch our baby for at least 15 minutes. It was so super great.

I am now 26 1/2 weeks. The baby is looking great and is measuring 32 cm (which is 12.6 inches). The heart rate at the beginning of the ultrasound was 133, but at one point the technician was trying to get the baby to move more and was kind of shaking my belly a the end the heart rate was 159. :-) The part of the video that we shared below won't show this, but this baby's feet are big...the technician ran over the baby's feet, made a noise, and went back for a double take. It was so funny. But, on both sides of Joel's family feet run pretty big. And, although my mom's side doesn't have abnormally large feet, my Daddy's feet are long and skinny...probably runs in his family too. Joel and I both inherited the big feet thing and are apparently both carriers as well. :-) Funny.

The more I watch the video, the more I think he/she looks like Grady. Grady had a pretty square jaw when he was born and this baby looks like that to me. But, they all look similar...just fun to observe things like that. And of course, this baby is not completely developed yet, so who knows. I THINK I can see a slight dimple in his/her little cheek, but you know...we'll see when the baby gets here what he/she really has and what he/she really looks like. Tuesday was fun though...that's for sure. LOVED it!! Hope you enjoy seeing too.

Baby #4 in 3D

This is our ultrasound at 26 weeks 3 days (12-18-07)...with baby #4. There are 4 clips put together here. You will see the baby smile in the first clip, the baby trying to nurse in the 2nd clip (that is the placenta that the right side of the baby's face is up against), the baby will open it's mouth again in the 3rd clip and also stick out its tongue a bit, and then at the end he/she is showing his/her little hand with a little rubbing of the face. At the end, we also are finally able to get the baby to turn a bit so that we can see its whole sure did like the placenta that day. :-) Enjoy the amazing modern technology of today.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Miscarriage - Part 2

So, I had worried the whole time. Not every medical professional goes through this, but bottom line is that people who work in hospitals literally see the worst case scenarios ALL the time. They are trained to look for the worst case scenarios and rule them out first. Well, that's just what I had in point, my thinking that I was having a tubal pregnancy at 6 weeks after having that dull pain for 24 hours. No, terrible medical situations don't always happen. But, I had seen a lot of bad in my 5 years of nursing. Like I said, I was cautious already, even before that nursing experience. But, literally seeing things like that every know, it influences the way you view your own body and any little symptoms you might have. I always thought of the worst case scenario first. Another example, Joel would get a headache. The thought would immediately cross my head that it could possibly be a brain tumor. Now, it literally could possibly be a brain tumor...odds are that it wasn't (and it wasn't of course), but that's just how my brain worked. We had to rule that out first. :-)

Back to the miscarriage experience I was an awesome list that we made that day of how God had been faithful and provided in it all. Here is the list...from my journal:

1. I was only 8 weeks along, not 5 months or so...much better...I never felt the baby move, wasn’t showing, etc.

2. It happened before I left for home
(I was leaving that Saturday, Dec. 7th to go to East Texas and Saline for 2 weeks). It would’ve been horrible if I would’ve found out then...ahh, God’s perfect timing, even for the not-so-pleasant things.

3. Totally prepared Joel: Joel said that about 10 min. before I called him at work, he felt like something was wrong. He just prayed, not knowing what it was, and God simply told him “I am still in control.” AWESOME.

4. Totally prepared me: Sunday night
(the Sunday night before I found out about no heartbeat on that Wednesday) I had received a book in the mail called “Supernatural Childbirth” (for anyone who’s read that book or heard that teaching, it really can mess with you; you have to figure out what you believe about it all, but what I believe is that although you can’t deny the experiences this lady had and you can pray for the same thing to happen to you, I don’t buy into the fact that if you just have faith for it, it will happen...I know this from personal experience). It’s an awesome book, but I really struggled with faith/surrender. Sunday night I was in turmoil, crying and everything. I was just really grappling with what my role is supposed to be when it comes to having faith and praying. My question was “So all these people who have had a miscarriage or handicapped child, etc. – is that because they didn’t have enough faith? How do you explain that?” I’ve always had a real problem with the philosophy that “nobody is supposed to be sick...we are already healed through Jesus.” Well, I was looking forward to Monday to really get some answers from God on this (I had a free day and planned to spend it all with God...I needed answers). Well, He provided an answer for me early. I had a dream early that Mon. morning that I had a miscarriage. I was laying in the bed and these balls of blood clots (computer-generated looking things) start rolling out of me. I go to the bathroom and pronounce very matter-of-factly “Welp, I guess I’m not pregnant anymore.” Then, the next scene of my dream, I am arriving in Georgia for Marcus’ wedding (I was going to Marcus’ wedding in real life in the next couple of weeks). I’m talking to Marcus on someone’s cell phone and I say, “Well, I thought I was going to be able to tell everyone I was pregnant when I came to your wedding, but I’m not pregnant anymore.” (I truly believe, by the way, that at the moment of that dream, the baby in my womb ceased to have a heartbeat...I really believe that God had great sweetness with me in letting me know what was happening when it was happening; even though of course the ultrasound a couple of days later would still be a shock and still be sad, this dream prepared me in such a sweet and gentle way). I woke up, but before I opened my eyes God put a billboard in my mind (like the Abraham and Isaac billboard I had in the Joel and Michawn story, remember?). The billboard said, “Whatever you expect is what you’ll get.” I couldn’t really explain it, but somehow I knew that was my answer and I was at perfect peace. When I found out that I really had miscarried (esp. when telling others about my dream), in the natural that billboard might seem rather cruel, like “you were fearful of this, you ‘cursed’ yourself, now you are going to get it.” But, there was only comfort and peace for me in God’s billboard. I asked Joel what he thought it meant. He said, “Well, we were expecting a healthy baby and we weren’t going to get one; healthy babies don’t die.” That was it. That was my peaceful answer. God knows all and knows what’s best in all circumstances. He knew what was best for us. Also, I had been fearful. I had, at times, expected the worst. Although I don't think that I cursed myself or that God was saying that, I do think that He was preparing me for the next expect the best and stop harping on the bad. He was re-training not jump immediately to the worst case scenario in each situation and with each symptom. He was preparing me to re-train the way I thought, medically not be fearful. "Whatever you expect is what you'll get"...I was going to expect the best.

5. There were also several answered prayers throughout; one example is that I had prayed I would never bleed or even spot. Lots of women do and even when it’s nothing, it’s always a cause for concern/alarm. Well, even though I miscarried, I never bled or even spotted. Also, I was never sick. I got a little queasy sometimes, and lots of good foods didn’t appeal to me anymore, but I was never sick.

There are so many other awesome things I could name, some things we don’t know about yet, and some things that we will never know this side of heaven. But, I sure have learned a lot. About my faith/prayer/surrender: Basically for each situation God will tell me how to pray, what to have faith for. Lots of times I just use surrender as my cop-out to not fight for something in prayer because I’m so fearful of disappointment, that I may be wrong. Sunday morning
(at the point of this journal entry, I was already in East Texas/Saline visiting for the holidays) in Life Challenge the speaker (Mike Guzzardo) just happened to speak on fear and how to overcome it. It was awesome. Bottom line to overcome fear: seek God. And, if I am seeking God, He is going to let me know what to have faith for in each situation. And, if I am seeking God, I will have confidence in what He tells me and what His Word says, not what satan tries to tell me and get me to worry about. It’s a choice.

I think that probably having a miscarriage with your first pregnancy is harder than when you’ve already “proved yourself” in your abilities to have a child (and I mean proving yourself to yourself...not to anyone else). I was completely overjoyed though, esp. with so many people in the world who struggle just to conceive, to at least know that that part was a possibility...that had been proven. Even with the confirmations and peace from God, it was still hard at times. Here’s an example, again from my journal (same day entry):

Yesterday was a little hard. Everyone is always talking about the baby that is coming in the family (there was another couple in our family with a baby coming) and asking about plans and all. Even though I was only pregnant for a short time, I find myself still wanting to share those experiences that I had during that time, but, as I was crying and telling Joel last night, I almost feel like it doesn’t since I’m not pregnant anymore I shouldn’t share. I now think that is just the stupid devil trying to take away the joy I do have over the fact that I was pregnant. Joel prayed for me and God is so faithful. This morning, the 1st thing Mama asked me was how I felt (in relation to the D&C) and that Granny had asked about when we could try again. Anyway, it was small, but I got to talk about my experience a little.

There was a book that was really good too that I bought a few days after my D&C. It’s called “Calm My Anxious Heart.” The author is Linda Dillow. It was good to have something to go through and study that was relevant to me at the time.

Another factor in my story and in miscarriage in general was the fact that we hadn’t really told anyone I was even pregnant. Our reasoning was only because it was so close to the holidays and we would be traveling to see our parents and all our relatives...we wanted to tell them in person. Some recommend not telling others about a pregnancy early on with the reasoning that if there is a miscarriage somehow it makes it easier. I guess they just don’t tell that they were ever pregnant at all or something. That just doesn’t work for me. If you can’t tell by this blog, I like to let people in on what is going on with me. To me, having a miscarriage and then having to tell everyone that I was pregnant, but had a miscarriage...that was worse than if I had told people I was pregnant and then had to go back and tell them I wasn’t anymore. In my case, since we hadn’t told yet, I had to spill the beans all at once...that I had been pregnant and now I wasn’t. It was stinky. But, to each his own. I would never want to withhold information and not let people in. But, that’s just me. And, we all know that I’m about as opposite of “private” as you can get.

For many people a miscarriage is truly like a death. Good is a death. It was a death for me too and it was not without its difficulties. But, at the same time, for me it was God’s grace too. I know that sounds weird, but He was allowing me to start realize my need for Him and His joy and His peace...not worry. Most people who know me might even be shocked that I ever worried at all...about anything. I'm not what I consider to be a high-strung person. But, it was mostly about medical stuff. And, God used this so much. It was a great learning experience for me. I knew after that that I would have joyful pregnancies. I would not worry. Only peace and joy were to come.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Miscarriage - Part 1

Some of you may not know that my very first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. If I had had a blog at that point, of course I would’ve blogged about it. But, I didn’t. I always think it interesting though how different people’s experiences are...even when going through the same (relatively...i.e. miscarriage) life events. And, I thought that I would blog about mine with this particular topic.

A blog serves as basically an online journal sometimes, so what better way to relay this event than to go back to my journal entry about it. I’ve been doing that a lot I know, but it’s the best way to remember and convey accurately what happened.
So, from my journal entry dated 12-11-02 (we had found out we were pregnant Nov. 4th, 2002...the unitalicized parts are my add-ins of today):

We found out we were pregnant and oh, the excitement…what I’ve always wanted. But, at the same time I became a worrier...ugh! I remember when Mama found out she was carrying Tucker. I was excited, but I wouldn’t let myself expect a baby at the end of those 9 months. It’s good to be cautious, but sometimes I take it a little far.

When I was 6 weeks along I had a pain in my left side (it was a dull, constant pain that lasted for at least 24 hours). My 1st thought was “I have a tubal pregnancy.” I called Judy (she is a nurse friend of mine...was actually my preceptor when I first started to work...she is in fact my “Dr.” basically, my first run-to person when I have a health question...she’s a walking encyclopedia and I’m sure could function as a Dr., even without medical school or a license, if she were interested and if given the chance) and she just laughed at me and said “us nurses are so dangerous with our information.” I had already mourned the loss of our baby (seriously, I had cried and cried that night, trying to accept that this pregnancy wasn’t viable). I had an appt. and actually saw a nurse practitioner. She assured me that my uterus felt pregnant and she felt no abnormalities of my tubes. Joel was with me. We were relieved. I had an ultrasound the next morning, just to confirm. The tech couldn’t find the baby with the abdominal “picture-taker,” she had to go trans-vaginally. Of course, me in my freak state thought “Oh no, I have a molar pregnancy” (I had done lots of googling…as of today I don’t even remember what a “molar pregnancy” is). Craziness. She found my little baby though...just a little glob with a big heartbeat...beating 111 beats per minute. We got pictures.

A week later the nurse practitioner ordered for me to have another ultrasound at 8 weeks. I wondered why and they told me “just to check growth.” Later I found out that I also had some chorionic fluid pocket showing on the ultrasound (and a cyst on my right ovary, which is pretty insignificant though). At 8 weeks, on December 4th, I had my initial exam with the Dr. She pulled out her little ultrasound machine and couldn’t see a heartbeat. Joel was with me and we weren’t really terribly worried...the machine didn’t give a very good, clear picture and seemed pretty antique. We just figured we’d go back over to the radiology office, they’d do a trans-vaginal again if needed, and everything would be fine. So, I dropped Joel off at his work. I went for the ultrasound heartbeat. I asked her to do a trans-vaginal, just to make sure (praying for a miracle)...nothing. It was horrible...everything was in slow motion, like being in a bad dream.

After the ultrasound I tried to call Joel. I went to his work and couldn’t reach him (where he worked had security and I couldn’t just go in and get him). I went to Wal-Mart near his work and tried to just hang out while trying to reach him there...couldn’t reach him. I decided I’d just go back to our apartment and was finally able to reach him from there. I went to get him. It was horrible not having Joel with me at the ultrasound and having to tell him there in the parking lot.

I got Joel and we headed over to the doctor’s office. We decided to have a D&C the next day. I probably would’ve passed everything and had your “typical” miscarriage at some point a few days later (I had never bled at all), but from the opinions we got at the time, we were better off just going ahead with the procedure to make sure everything was removed from my uterus. We grabbed some lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant there in Phoenix and just talked about everything.

Again from my journal:

We started listing all of the positive things and the way God had prepared brought such peace and reminded us that He so knows best and is in control.

It was a very interesting experience and in so many ways, in my case, a needed one. Let me explain…

I had worried. I had done nothing but worry since I found out I was pregnant. O.K., yes...I’d had moments of joy and peace, but nothing like I had expected a pregnancy to be like. I had wanted to be full of joy during pregnancy, but that wasn’t the case. It just proved once again that “what good is it to worry?...Does it add anything to your life?” (Matthew 6) No, it doesn’t. It just takes away and steals joy. I mean, I had worried and what did it get baby still died. So, from then on I knew that I would not let worry take over (I esp. knew that within the context of pregnancy) and ruin something that is supposed to be joyful.

The rest of the story tomorrow.

Life Problems of a 3-Yr. Old Revealed

We were sitting at church and it was the time for people to go up for prayer if they wanted special prayer. I asked Grady if he knew what they were doing. He told me they were praying. He then asked me, “What are they praying about?” I told him simply that they were praying for God to make them more like Him and for God to be with them. He said sweetly, “Because they had a bad dream?”

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Eissa Meaning

The other day I googled 'Eissa' and this is what I answer questions about her name and the meaning. This is the only thing/meaning I found.

This first quote I found on a website whose goal is "to demonstrate that the fundamental teachings of Islam are incompatible with the Christian faith."

"First of all, how would Muslims like it if we call Muhammad “Medo”? Would they take that as sign of respect? That’s exactly what Muhammad and Muslims did with the name of Jesus; they transformed it to Eissa. Of course, they use the deception of saying that Eissa is the Arabization of the name Jesus, which is a lie. Why do the Christians of Arabic speaking countries never use the name Eissa, but Ya’ssou, derived from the Hebrew Ya’shou, the origin of the name Jesus? Why in the Arabic Bible is there no mention of Eissa? The established doctrine of the Bible is that every name have a specific meaning. Therefore, the name Ya’ssou means The Savior. What does Eissa mean? No Muslim will be able to tell us the meaning of Eissa. Simply, because it has no meaning."

The next quotes I just found on random sites when I googled.

"Many Muslims name their children Eissa, which is the Arabic form of Jesus. We have a few in our family. One of my roomates in the US was named this, so we just told everyone his name was Jesus."

"Jesus in Arabic is Eissa. Eissa is a common name throughout the Middle East. Muslims and Christians are honored to have this name since it is a prophet's name. Some people spell it Isa, Issa, Esa or Essa."

So, needless to say, it's...interesting. Who knows what God will do with that? There are some really cool possibilities. We'll see. But, that answers your question about the name 'Eissa.'

One last quote, which is actually the coolest to me.

"The person of Jesus or Isa in Arabic (peace be upon him) is of great significance in both Islam and Christianity."

The reason it is the coolest is because as it states here, we have 2-word descriptions for each of our children related to their names and what they mean and just our vision for them individually. The meaning of "Asa" that I saw first when we chose her name were for a Hebrew female, meaning "healer." As pertaining to King Asa's life in the Bible, we just felt like peaceful was the other meaning. So, from the beginning, Eissa's 2-word description has been "peaceful healer." Now, it's hard for me to tell through my googling if the "peace be upon him" thing is the supposed meaning or if that's just something Muslims say after they say the name Jesus (or their equivalent)...kind of like after someone says a deceased person's name and then they say, "God rest their souls." But, still thought it was cool.

Was totally going to post something else today, but that will have to wait. :-) Wanted to let you know what I found about Eissa.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Lost Box

Funny how you don’t really miss something for a while, but then all of a sudden you need it and it hits you...

When we were moving from Kilgore, TX to Saline, LA last year in November, we had already gone to Saline and Joel had to go back to Kilgore and get some of our last few things in boxes. Well, he has no idea how because he is a really good packer and really knows how to secure things well...but, one of the boxes fell out of the truck we were using. He stopped along the way twice to just check the baggage I believe so he was able to narrow it down to a certain spot where it was lost. He even back-tracked, but most of the section where it possibly fell out happened to be in downtown Shreveport...along I-20. So, I’m sure if someone saw a box in the middle of the road, they probably just picked it up before Joel had a chance to make it back.

Well, up until about a month ago we were really unsure of what exactly was in that box. But, again, when the time comes that you need something, you become well aware of what you don’t have. There are 3 things that were in that box that I am now missing in my life...

1) my Bradley method workbook from the class that we took when I was pregnant with Hadley
2) my “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way” book
3) my black Weight Watchers bag full of ALL my Weight Watchers stuff, including my lifetime membership card and the info. about points, etc.

Now, the Weight Watchers stuff is not of immediate necessity or anything, obviously. But, all those Weight Watchers people out there, you know what a treasure that was. You can’t get that stuff anywhere’s like they put “top secret” on it or something. :-)

The other 2 things would REALLY come in handy right now though. Obviously I’ve done the whole Bradley birth thing twice some of you might be wondering why I would even feel the need to re-read. But, those books are great inspiration and motivation for me...great reminders of why I choose that way in the first place. Plus, a good review in any area of life is always a good thing.

I’m sure there were other great things in that box. I’m sure that eventually other things that we are missing will be found out. Funny that it took a year to realize, but some things truly are seasonal. If I wasn’t pregnant now, I probably still wouldn’t know what was in that box. :-)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Beds and Blabbers

Looky what we got...

The kids have been sleeping on some beds owned by the owners of this house. We knew we'd have to get them some beds. So, we've been looking around some since we got here. But, we knew exactly what we wanted. So, we just had it made.

Yep, it is very rustic and very sturdy. Everyone who has seen it, including the people who made it (they had never made something so solid and big), have all remarked that this bed will be used by Grady's and Hadley's grandchildren. :-)

It is hu-mongous. Seriously. It was a little daunting at first. It fits 3...we asked for a trundle bed to be built underneath for the 3rd person. Well, the trundle part is actually where a normal bottom bunk would be. So, that means the other 2 beds are really high. We also asked that he make it so that when sitting on the bottom bunk, we could sit up straight and not have to duck. Such a great idea, even though it does add to the height. Therefore, we have actually just pulled out the trundle and put a mattress on there, just for safety's sake...or to make us feel better anyway, just in case we have a fall or something.

We L-O-V-E it!! I'm so glad we got this bunk bed. The kids are really excited about it too. The whole first day they just played on their new bunk bed all day. Fun.

Also in the news...Eissa is now talking...sort of. Sometimes she just jabbers, but then there are real things she says too. She'll hide and when we say, "Where's Eissa?" she'll jump out and say, "There she is." It's not very clear, but we know exactly what she's saying. The other night after the Asas Christmas party, all the way home she was saying, "Tchau" and blowing kisses. She says uh-oh, daddy, mama, and some other things.

She is saying our blessing before meals now. :-) Just a month or so ago she started holding our hands when we prayed...before that she would have nothing to do with it. She just wanted her grub, thank you very much. "Hurry up, will you?" But, she started holding our hands and in the past week has started praying for our food. We'll say, "Let's pray." She promptly shuts her eyes tight, jabbers a good bit, and then ends with a distinctive 2-word syllable ("a-men!"). Here, you can see for yourself...just scroll down to the next segment.