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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

12 Things I Learned in July

I began writing a list of things I learned last month to link up with the lovely Mrs. Emily Freeman over at Chatting at the Sky.  I continued my list this month and I am so glad I did! I am also linking up with a new neat place I found called Women Living Well Wednesdays and sharing our favorite blog posts for the month.

1. I can't figure out how to use this hot curling wand thing with no clip but a little tiny half-glove that only covers 2 fingers and my thumb from the 300 degree barrel (why not be a whole glove and protect all of my fingers?). I guess you really do get what you pay for.  Do any of you use these things and understand them?
photo credit
I probably should have read the reviews first.  So I've resorted to going back to old fashioned hot rollers like my mom used to.
I realize this would be more effective if I had a picture of my hair down post-rollers, however, I usually put my hair up in the rollers while we are getting ready to go somewhere and I'm trying to pack the diaper bag, feed and dress 2 babies, remember to put my own clothes on, etc. So, I take the curlers out while we are in the car, on our way to the destination.  This results in me being the crazy lady shaking her hair upside down in the parking lot spraying hair spray willy-nilly and using the car windows as a mirror, then throwing the hairspray back in the car, grabbing a baby and walking in. I just can't follow that up by going to the public bathroom and doing self-takes, sorry.  I'll try to take it down at home sometime soon and grab a pic for ya!

2.  I learned that although I ADORE linking up with (Five Minute Friday is the and I've participated twice now: here and here) and reading other Christian mommy blogs, (hello - waaaaay better than paying for magazines full of negative body images, unrealistic expectations, and false advertising!) and learning about what they're learning from the Bible and life, and doing with their kids, (my newest favorites are The Happy Home FairyLovely Little WhimsyThe Whole StoryMesses and Moments, and Lisa-Jo Baker), reading what they learn from God and the Bible does not and cannot replace my quiet time. Their stories (though helpful, inspiring, and encouraging) do not take the place of what I need to be reading and learning from God and His Word.  It's easy to get caught up in thinking "But I'm reading a ton of scripture and what these other Christian ladies are saying about it."  However, I realized quickly that God has something new for ME every day and it is my responsibility to seek out from His Word before I catch up on blogs I follow.  I struggled with this because my personal Bible study usually consists of choosing a passage and then focusing on reading it in 3-4 different translations and systematically going through the words (sometimes looking up multiple definitions).  I was using Bible Gateway online for this, but often got distracted from my Bible time by looking on the list of blogs I follow.  So, when I saw this cool 4- version Parallel Bible, I ordered it PRONTO and have been absolutely loving my Bible reading time since it got here a few weeks ago!  It's so nice to have a Bible be a book with actual pages to turn again, but still have the ability to see my 4 favorite versions right next to each other. Now, I read and learn from these other sweet mommies online AFTER I read God's word for myself!

3. I am re-learning that the second trimester really is the best one.  I finally feel so much better! More pregnancy updates to come soon! Tomorrow is officially 16 weeks! Eeeek yay!

4. Coconut Oil is ammmmmazing for treating my toddler's eczema! The doctors had told us to lather him up with baby oil while damp from the bath, then use Aquaphor ointment twice daily.  Even after doing this for several months, his little legs felt like an alligator and had patches of pale, scaly, dry skin all. the. time.  So I decided to seek out a natural remedy, and Lo and Behold, Coconut Oil did the trick in ONE night!  I was so thankful and impressed. His skin was softer and smoother than I think I have ever seen it (or since he was breastfeeding at least - this began once he started solids/formula).  This reinforces my desire to seek natural remedies for everything instead of relying on the fake chemicals in multiple products.  I do have to use the coconut oil every single night, and some mornings, too. If I don't want to run back to the bathroom to get it, then I do still use the Aquaphor (I hate to waste things we paid money for already). This was the Coconut Oil I got at Earth Fare in Huntsville the last time we went (see picture), but since it works so well I'll probably just buy a large size from Costco.
photo credit
5.  Sometimes, when I seek out what God is wanting to teach me through His word, it may come as a rather unexpected shock to the system.  For example, when we were getting very frustrated with our job and knowing we were close to quitting, and we just kind of mentally quit and physically went through the motions, and stayed very emotionally detached from the kids.  God had me feeling restless all day looking through my Bible and just not getting that "wow" moment, and He used our pastor to bring me to this scripture one Wednesday night (that I never would have read on my own because I just don't generally feel called to read the book of Revelation):
Revelation 3:1b-3 -
“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
This is about the church at Sardis, and our pastor has been teaching about these churches mentioned in Revelation. His message was on the viewpoint of us as a church, but as I sat there and listened and reread the words, I knew God was speaking to us as House Parents. We fake it sometimes.  I know the church isn't four walls - the church is the body of Christ - We Are the Church, so this message is for every Christian, wherever you find yourself faking it, just going through the motions.  People think we're some great, perfect couple down here being sweet and fun and patient with the kids all the time (the reputation of being alive).  However, we're frustrated, exhausted from having NO time off in several months, we don't feel close to the kids, we often lose our patience and say things like, "What the heck are you doing?!" and we even avoid them around the house some days, and occasionally don't say anything to them at all other than general announcements "Here's Lunch." (but we are dead).
          I pondered the next few verses for days.
     "Wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die" - I believe this is the good things we were/are doing with the kids (going places, initiating conversation, renting/watching movies with them)  God saying - "Keep doing the things you know are working, even if you are tired, even if you don't want to.  Do the things they need, not because they deserve it, but because I have asked you to, because I have told you that loving them is a reflection of understanding my love for you."  Then the next part of the verse, "for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God" - I fully felt God saying, "You are not DONE until you leave this place.  Don't mentally check out.  Don't become a 17 year old high-school kid with senior-itis.  I have not found your work complete until the day you move everything out of this house."
    So we trudge on, fighting our impatient, selfish flesh, struggling to finish well with people who don't make it easy at. all. We leave August 20th.  Please continue to pray for these kids as we all make this transition.

6. Kevin James, actor on the old TV series "King of Queens", the movie "Paul Blart Mall Cop," and more recently I liked him in "Here Comes the Boom," is the younger brother of Gary Valentine, who played his cousin on the King of Queens.  I knew they were brothers, so that's not new, but what I didn't know was their real original last name: Knipfing.  German heritage, not a great US screen name. Funny stuff! I also did not know he had a B.E.A.utiful wife!  We saw "Grown Ups" part 1 and it was OK.  We saw "Grown Ups" part 2 this month, and it was really not worth the money.  It had a lot of bathroom humor and had more outrageous, somewhat inappropriate Adam Sandler type of comedy than your average Kevin James mild family-friendly comedy.
Kevin James aka Kevin Knipfing
Gary Valentine aka Gary Knipfing

with his wifey
7. When I feel completely overwhelmed, discouraged, frustrated, and like a total failure, God still encourages me to find joy.  He gives me new hope when I feel like I don't deserve it because I think I'm doing such a bad job.  He led me to Psalm 42 in my new Bible, so I read it in all 4 translations (NKJV, ESV, NLT, and the Message) and felt the last verse the most meaningful to me personally in each one:
Verse 11 NLT: Why am I discouraged?
    Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
    I will praise him again—
    my Savior and my God!It was like God saying - "Why are you so frustrated? You have so much to be happy about! Your little family is blessed and growing.  You are almost done with this stage of your life in Wabo.  Keep your hope in me.  Focus on praising me and I'll get you through these last few months. Smile, my child!" The next day, Psalm 43 was Even Better! :) I began playing more music again, and that has helped my attitude to be a little better.  Music also helps the babies chill out sometimes.  Then this cool post and Mother Teresa quote helped me to see that I am not the only one struggling to maintain joy.
From Carina Lee at Lovely Little Whimsy

How cute!? photo credit
8.  I would like to have a baby girl. Jonah is wild, rambunctious, loud, messy, and highly independent.  I'm not saying a girl wouldn't be all of those things, but I'd just like to find out (and shop for cute pink clothes like tutus, and big flower headbands, of course). However, far more than I care if baby #2 is a girl or boy, I am praying he/she is healthy.  I stumbled across this inspiring and humorous blog of a mom of a child about Jonah's age with spina bifida, and I cried read through several of her wonderful, funny, meaningful posts about having a child with a disability.  I have to truthfully say, I went to college and majored in Education with a minor in Collaborative (the politically correct way of saying Special Ed nowadays), however, as much as I loved working with those kids, I know it would be so much harder to be a parent to one of those special kids. So, I continue to pray for a healthy child, but pray God's will above all else, knowing I could endure it, but I just don't want to (I know that sounds mean, but honestly, no one wants that).  I thank Him that Jonah has had such a healthy start to life so that at least I have a frame of reference for "normal" if the next one isn't.

9. The more I pray for others, the less I focus on my own struggles.
Photo credit
 The more I identify with my friends' prayer-requests and focus on seeking God on their behalf and listening to Him for how I may be able to help, my troubles seem like less.  This came one day as I realized I had committed to pray for a few friends, but had not done it in several days, and stopped to pray for all of them. The family struggling financially when their small business isn't doing well, the husband and wife contemplating divorce, the sick old people at church to whom I wrote a few postcards to say "We're praying for you," the distant family member I don't even know who just had a stroke, the handful of other pregnant friends I have, our sweet couple friends who just adopted twins and are still adjusting to life with two babies, the daughter of one of my coworkers who was on a train wreck in Thailand, my non-Christian friends facing struggles without Christ, the kids in our care, all need prayers.  The more I stop to pray for them, the less I focus on me.  The more I pray for them, the more I am praying in general.  Praying for others is definitely a huge answer to solving the problem of self-pity and discouragement, and looking to Jesus instead.  Between focusing on Praising God and Praying to Him - I have been feeling a lot better about everything!

10. I learned that when you google image search something and decide to use a random picture, the politically correct thing to do is provide a "Photo credit" link back to that page.  Oops on the last year of blogging! So I have begun to do that with the pictures in this post that I have added since learning this piece of blogger-etiquette.

11.  I saw a friend on fb post this great link about social media etiquette for moms, and I found it very true and inspiring. I already followed most of these rules, but it was good to find them in one nice, succinct place and recommit myself to being positive.

12.  Although it sounds great to do this early potty training thing, it's harder to put it into practice once you decide to go beyond just saying "Poo poo" when you see your baby grunting.  It's much more difficult if your child finds the potty fascinating and just wants to sit in for 3.526 seconds and then take it apart all day, and will NOT sit on it when he actually starts huffing and turning red in the face and is obviously pooping. Here's the only time I could catch Jonah sitting on it:

*If you liked this, here's what I learned in June. :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

5 Minute Friday: Broken

Five Minute Friday is one of my new favorite things in life.  We have 5 minutes to write, then link back up. Join us! This week's prompt is the word Broken.


We are all just a broken mess trying to put ourselves back together daily.

We try to use kisses and coffee like scotch tape on our pain and our needs to be loved, needs for more energy.

We try to use gossip and scrolling through facebook for hours like bandages on the wounds of self-pity, and jealousy.

We try to use big flat screen TVs and new cars like a cast on a broken leg called inadequacy, the desire for 'more.'

We try to convince ourselves this is all okay because everyone else does it, as if the "American Dream" was something God ordained in the Bible.

We try so hard to fix our brokenness, when there is really only one way to heal, to be whole.

We have to go back to our Maker.

We have to start with daily dying to ourselves and making prayer a priority over mindless action.

When I am most broken over my own lack of completeness, that is when I can most appreciate how Jesus makes me feel whole again.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

My First Five Minute Friday

I found out about this link up last week, and was like "THAT is soooo cool!"  I decided to start participating as often as I can remember.  You can read more about the process here at the Five Minute Friday explanation.

This week's prompt is: Present

Present: Like right now at this very moment, at 12:44 am when I am too excited about sharing our pregnancy news with the world (or maybe just facebook, but that sure feels like the world sometimes) to even consider sleeping.  I wonder why I was scared to share it and tried to convince my husband we should wait another week.  I love keeping secrets, but I love sharing things with friends and being encouraged and supported even more.

Present: To present someone with an award like in a ceremony, like the way I so wish Jonah had a "Baby Dedication" ceremony where we present him before the church and before the Lord and promise to try our best to not screw him up. Unfortunately, we moved so much during his first year, and didn't feel like we "fit in" at any of the churches we went to, so we decided to wait.  He's a toddler now - do you still do dedications for toddlers?

Present: Wrapped under the tree at Christmas, with your name on it in pretty swirly handwriting.  A gift that may be a surprise or may be an expected item you went shopping for with the giver and they said, "I'll buy it, but I have to wrap it and put it under the tree."

Present: My present moment is a beautiful presentation of all the presents with which God has blessed me.


Surprise! Big Life Changes for the Honeas!

There's a honeybun in the oven!
I am PREGNANT!!!!!!!

I'm officially 13 Weeks now, and so we decided to go public and tell everyone.  We are very excited to be welcoming a new member to our little family around January 15th, 2014! (Jonah was born on his due date, so I have absolutely no idea what to expect with this one; therefore, I'll just tell people the due date and say "It could happen again, you never know!") Jonah and new baby will be 20 months apart, and we think he'll make a great big brother.  We feel so blessed to be given another little person to love and raise!  I think we are even more excited this time because we know just how awesome it is to be parents. God is so good to us, even when we are far from deserving!
Baby Honea #2
This does cause a lot of life changes for our family. Please keep us in your prayers as we plan to leave Waynesboro and this job in the somewhat-near future.  House Parenting is best done with no dependents. To put it mildly, it has been difficult with our own baby and Other Baby.  It is not even feasible to attempt to do this job with a newborn and 2 toddlers.  Jonah makes our bedroom feel crowded as it is, and we don't want to share a bedroom between our family of four.  If we have 2 kids here it will also limit the number of kids the village can take in because there can only be a total of 6 children on each side.

Thus, we are accepting that we were placed here:
 and now our time is drawing to an end.  We'd also like to have steady/stable prenatal care close to where I plan to give birth, and if we wait too long then switching doctors could become complicated with insurance, and other personal issues. I am hoping and praying for another natural labor and safe and healthy delivery.

We have complete peace about leaving though, because over the last few months God has really been changing John's heart about where He wants to use him in ministry.  When John went to seminary, most people would ask, "Oh, do you want to be a pastor?" and my husband would answer, "No, I think I want to be an evangelist, or work with college and career, or do family ministry or recreational ministry type jobs."  As he prepared to graduate, John went pretty far through the hiring process with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Then, when it got right to the end of the process, they decided to go with somebody else.  John was shocked and upset because he had really felt like he would do so well ministering with FCA with all of his coaching background.  A few weeks later, John interviewed and accepted a position at a sweet church in Hickory Wythe as "Youth and Recreational Director," but just felt no peace about the job, and ended up quitting on what was supposed to be his first day there. Both of those experiences led him to start being open to other ministry opportunities and that was when we decided upon pursuing this job as House Parents.

However, over the course of the past year here (which has often felt like our version of walking through a valley) John is feeling led to pastor!  It's like God led us here to teach him that! He has been reading and writing sermons.  He has been jotting down notes and telling me about sermon series ideas.  He has been reading through commentaries, high-lighting, note-taking, and really digging into the Word! He has been thinking about organizing and using different groups in the church for different ministry opportunities. He has been thinking about the way he'd like to take groups on mission trips.  I have always greatly admired my husband's leadership abilities, and I am so excited to be his helpmate and partner in this new journey! You can watch him preach a sermon from right after Thanksgiving on YouTube here. I have to tell you though, he has lost about 50 pounds since this video, and my hot hubby is going to ROCK some sweater vests this Winter! Which will be right around the time I am about as big as a house...

Now all we need is a church to pastor. :)

Please pray with us that God would lead us to the flock He desires our family to work with, in His timing, not our own (although we would like this to happen sooner, rather than later, of course).  Please also pray that the Lord would keep all FOUR =)  of us safe and in good health as we pack/travel/move/seek our new journey.  We are also trying to sell our van (and buy two cheaper/older vehicles instead) so that we can be completely debt-free before we quit.  We are holding tight to all that God promises.

If you'd like to read about the pregnancy so far, I've written about this neat picture:
Southern Made Photography

Pregnancy #2: Weeks 8 - 12

Week 8 was a little better on the fatigue front, and I actually did not take a nap every single day.  However, the nausea was much worse.  I spent a lot of time crouching, gagging, trying to eat simple foods and whatever sounded good.  I love the taste and feel of drinking water, and John usually calls me a camel, but the first trimester of pregnancy is very difficult for me to drink water because it hits my stomach and makes me feel sloshy and sick. I struggled to drink a bottle or two a day. Also, thankfully, my face was not breaking out much, as I recalled some acne with my last pregnancy, unfortunately, it's like the extra oil was rerouted to my scalp instead.  Hello, dandruff, my old enemy from high-school...

Week 9 was spent getting ready for our "family trip"(it is NOT a vacation when you bring 5 children).  Packing, laundry, and cleaning was not fun as I fought nausea, but I was excited to be going home to see family.  I managed to make it to my Monday night ladies workout class at church "Team Bob" where we usually do a Bob Harper DVD together.  I felt slow on the moves and definitely couldn't drink much water, but I only felt nauseous twice! That gave me hope that soon I would soon be back to regular workouts.  I so missed walks and workouts during those yucky feeling weeks.  Contrary to some sayings though, the exercise did not help the nausea at all.  It didn't make it much worse though, so I thought it was fine to probably continue my Monday class until I could add back in more.

Week 10 was spent mostly at my mom's house.  It was fun to tell my parents with the same picture I had showed John, however, it took them much longer for the message to sink in! The nausea and fatigue both seemed a little better that week, and I decided that they're both partially connected to stress.  I think I was less stressed with my mom able to help out a lot, and splitting the kids up (babies/little kids with me, big kids with John at his mom's house).  Here are some sweet but serious pictures of my handsome little outdoor man in my mom's back yard:

Then John got to be the guest speaker at a little church in Flintville, TN, and we so enjoyed that worship service!  I was reminded again of how well my husband preaches, and how much I enjoy listening to him and supporting him in that role.  It felt so wonderful to be able to encourage him and enjoy his message.  As I mentioned in this post, John is now feeling called to Pastor, and it would be so neat if it could be that church! We had such peace there.  Please continue to pray that God will lead and direct our steps as we move on from here. If that is where God wants us, please pray that the doors would open quickly and the search committee and congregation would have total peace in knowing John is the man God wants to be there.  For now, we just have to trust!

Week 11 was spent at John's mom's house, and then going back to Waynesboro.  The dandruff issue got worse, and itchy, and my occipital lymph nodes (on the back of head, behind the ear) actually became very sore and swollen.  Suddenly having two small knots on the back of my head was alarming at first, but after extensive internet self-diagnoses, I decided it was probably just due to general inflammation on my scalp and the dandruff.  It only lasted about 6 days, and then they stopped hurting and slowly went back down as I tried to treat the dandruff a little more aggressively and scratch less.

The biggest break through on Week 11 was *drum roll please*: Nausea and fatigue BOTH got immensely better!!! The nausea only seemed to strike at night and when I was very hungry, and I think I only took 2 naps that week!  I was so surprised and thankful, because I distinctly remember with Jonah that everyone kept telling me "When the first trimester is over, you'll feel so much better!" and being disappointed because I didn't really start to feel better until around week 16. So PRAISE GOD! This pregnancy already seems a little easier just because the extreme nausea and fatigue is ending a full month before it did last time!  I am very thankful the worst seems to be over, and I'm definitely starting to show.  I didn't have a real "bump" with Jonah until almost 18 weeks.  Hello little tummy popping out so much faster for round two! Still just in the starting-to-look-chubby, can't-button-half-of-my-jeans phase though, not really baby bumpish just yet.

I also got to visit our good friends, Nathan and Kimberly Neely, who had just gotten back from Africa with their new adopted twin babies!  It was such a blessing to see them parenting together, learning their new children, and figuring out how life works with three kids instead of one.  They probably won't post anything on their blog for a bit because they are super busy with these babies, but you should check out their neat adoption story over at their blog: Bringing the Nations Home.  I got to do little Jewel's hair, but I didn't have any little ballies, so it's just in the tiny rubber bands.

 Judah and Jewel are so cute!  I am loving being pregnant again, and enjoying this season of our lives, but we still feel called to adopt someday as God leads us.  Seeing them with their new babies made my heart happy.

Week 11, day 6 was also my second doctor's appointment and I got to see the precious new baby looking like this:

Cartoon Version :) 
Baby was so cute and wiggly and had these long skinny arms and legs, and was dancing and flipping all over the place!  It measured 5.11 cm from crown to rump, heart rate 170 bpm, and I really loved watching it move on the screen.

Being so isolated down here in Wabo is very difficult sometimes, and our only babysitter is our dear sweet pastor's wife.  We love her so much!  Sadly, an important WWII vet from our church passed away, and she needed to attend the funeral and services, so John had to stay home with the kids while I went to the doctor alone.  He has never missed an ultrasound before, and frequently went to appointments when I was pregnant with Jonah so he could hear the heartbeat, too.  I love how involved he is our kids' lives!  John and I were both disappointed he wasn't able to see this little baby's cool moves.  This may sound trivial to some, but for us, it was kind of a big deal.  It felt like another indicator that our time here needs to draw to a close so that we can focus on our own family more.

Week 12 seemed like a recurrence of Week 9.  Nausea and fatigue came back 5 out of 7 days. I was so bummed.  I decided then that the nausea is definitely connected to stress, and coming back to Wabo didn't help.  John also fought off a terrible head cold the first few days we were back and although I didn't catch it, I was worn out from dealing with the other kids without him for about 24 hours, and then he still didn't feel good for about 4 days.  I decided to weigh myself for some reason, and was disappointed to discover I'd already gained 10 pounds.  I know it's from having to eat all the time to keep the nausea away, and eating mostly carbs at that.  I like being pregnant, but I don't like gaining weight, and the laws of healthy medicine say "Well you can't have both if you start out healthy!" I'll get over it when I start to look more pregnant.  I didn't mind the weight once it was in the shape of a cute baby bump.  I just don't like it creeping up like a tire around my waist, ya know?  Oh well! The baby is healthy, and so am I, so I am thankful for that.

We told our boss and he was very gracious and understanding.  He fully agreed with us that it would not be a good idea to stay here with a newborn and toddler (as both babies ran around the table screaming).  I can't share any personal information with you about our kids here, but please pray with us that the transition would go smoothly for them, too. It is looking like it may be possible for them be reunited with family before we have to go!  That would be so neat! It would be like we were placed here just for them, and then when we were ready to leave so were they.  It would have to be a God thing though, so please do remember them in your prayers.

Pregnancy #2: Weeks 4 - 7

     The First Trimester has been quite a roller coaster ride.  It's very similar but also different from being pregnant with Jonah.  With Jonah I found out I was pregnant at 6 weeks because I was having common signs (nausea, fatigue, tender top half, missed period), and took the test and voila, suspicions confirmed!  This time, I wanted to know earlier so I began taking the tests before the signs arrived, and found out at exactly 4 weeks, which is very early!  The test line just barely crept up and I was uncertain at first, but it darkened in a few minutes.  I prayed, "God is this for real?" and I felt perfect peace like He was saying, "Oh yeah, you're pregnant!" I was so excited but really wanted to surprise my husband better this time, instead of just showing him the test saying, "Look!" (the way I did last time).

Southern Made Photography by Ashlea Chance
It was actually the morning of May 10th, when we were going to do Jonah's birthday party in Alabama with our families, and it occurred to me that my neat-O photographer, mommy of 3 little boys, Ashlea Chance over at Southern Made Photography, may have just the prop I needed to make a really cool surprise picture!  Of course, she did, and we snuck off with Jonah during picture taking, saying we were doing something for "Father's Day" and she got the great picture above.
     I couldn't stand not telling John and so 4 days later she sent me a few more "sneak peek" pictures with that one at the end. It was one really stressful day of doubting ourselves and this whole job, and feeling totally useless, just one of those "spinning your wheels" kind of weary days, and I knew John needed good news.  I sat down with him on the couch, and said casually, "Hey look, she sent us a few more pictures." Then I scrolled through them very slowly, looking long and detailed with him at the first 3 just of us and Jonah, and then as soon as I went to the above picture, John read the shirt and gasped then said, "Really!?" and teared up and hugged me with one arm and kept staring at the screen.  It was great, such a special sweet moment for us.  Kudos to me for thinking of a better way of giving him the news this time, and then not spoiling it even though it was SO HARD to not tell him for 5 whole days!!

     Once I told him, it really began to sink in as real.  I found myself just as nervous and scared as when I found out I was pregnant with Jonah.  God, please don't let me have a miscarriage.  I know a lot of women go through that, please don't let me be one of them.  Please let this baby be healthy and go full term. I know now how fantastic it is to have a precious little baby, so I will be even more sad to lose one than if I never had one. Please let this baby make it!

     Then, I went through weeks 4 and 5 feeling absolutely fine, with my only non-normal feeling being some considerable lower abdominal cramps that slightly alarmed me. When I read more up on it, I discovered a lot of second-time moms had more cramping with the second pregnancy than the first, and it's probably just that cantankerous ole' uterus trying to grow again.  I read that as long as there was no bleeding it was probably not anything to worry about, so I didn't.  I decided that while I felt good I should take advantage of it, and so I did a big freezer cooking day and froze 13 bagged meals, and exercised and cleaned a lot.  I also noticed I was beginning to feel the extreme emotions when we watched the movie about the 2004 Tsunami called "The Impossible" and I just kept imagining not being able to find my baby or my husband and being so beat up, and I literally cried the entire movie.

    Week 6 hit me like a ton of bricks with the nausea and fatigue, and I began taking 2 naps a day and eating crackers and vanilla wafers all the time.  I also began having cravings and wanted Lucky Charms cereal most nights and then hamburgers a few nights in a row.  Lucky for me, my husband is a grill-master and he made me some delicious burgers.  I had 2 at dinner and one a few hours later.  I don't remember eating 3 burgers in a matter of hours before, but hey, a little person the size of lentil apparently gets very hungry!

     Week 7 brought on the easily triggered gag reflex, and the strong awareness of odors, that makes every little bad smell feel like it's crawling up your nose and down your throat to try to make you puke.  The sense of smell that knows there is a dirty diaper across the room even though the person playing with said baby has not noticed it yet.  The sense of smell that finds all the odors in the kitchen to be just obnoxious - the combination of runny baby peach mango food, with the whiff of the leftover spaghetti in the fridge, and then the brewing coffee, made me almost lose it one day.  Fortunately, dropping down into a squat and ducking my head down and hiding my nose in the collar of my T-shirt is my go-to move for fighting those nausea attacks where the front of my throat gets hot and the back of my neck feels cold and I just refuse to throw up because I hate it more than almost anything. The fatigue didn't get better, but I decided it was going to have to take a back seat to life and I would only surrender to ONE nap per day and just go to bed earlier if it became an issue.  Somehow, we managed to hide most of this from the kids, although they may have noticed I was sleeping more, was no longer addicted to exercise (because really, who wants to go run when you're working so hard to not puke?), and John was cooking more. John was having to help a lot more with baby diaper changes, and general household stuff.  He is a total trooper though, and treats me like a pregnant queen.

     During Week 7, I also began reading up on more baby/mommy blogs/websites and found some unnerving articles on pregnancy spacing.  Some people believe the earliest you should space pregnancies is a year and half to give your body time to recover and rebuild nutrition stores to have a healthy baby.  I thought oh well, I'm just 6 months short of that, and I eat super healthy and work out, so no big deal.  Then I read another "expert" saying you should wait 3 years between babies for the uterus to be fully healed and for your emotions to adequately recover not "belonging to yourself anymore."  Well, I think and pray my uterus is in a healthy position because when my periods began again on Christmas Eve, they stayed on a perfectly regular 28 day cycle again until we thought, "Hey let's go ahead and start trying again!" I also believe that I got over the whole "not belonging to yourself" business when we started being foster parents, in which case, I have done that for almost 3 years now, so I'm in the clear.  I also realized that I know several mommies who have children even closer in age than the 20 months apart that mine will be, and their younger kids are just fine!

     I also believe that the Lord does open and close the womb.   As soon as we surrendered and declared ourselves "Open" again, He saw fit to hang the "Occupied" sign up, so I should trust that His will is always perfect, and this baby will be the little person He so desires.  It's His will for us to trust, to have complete faith, and worry is not trusting Him, so I again was forced to conquer that nagging self-sufficiency desire to worry because I became pregnant again only 11 months after giving birth to Jonah.  I had to remind myself "His will, His way, for His glory...He must become greater, I must become less."  Fear is not from the Lord. God increase my faith, help me to trust you, help me to lean on you. Please make this baby healthy and strong. 

This became a very helpful verse for me to go back to when doubt or fear crept in:
I had to come to the point of saying "God, whatever happens, you are good.  Your ways are best.  You are sovereign.  This baby belongs to you. Thank you for letting me have it for now.  Please let me meet it and raise it and love it and teach it about you."

The song "Give Me Faith" (you can watch the authors of the song sing it here Give Me Faith You Tube) also began playing in my head a lot.  I heard a sermon once that described the best way to fight battles with fear was through prayer and praise, and I totally agree! You can read about pregnancy Weeks 8-12 here.

 Lyrics to the song:

"Give Me Faith"

I need you to soften my heart
to break me apart
I need you to open my eyes
to see that you're shaping my life

All I am
I surrender

Give me faith to trust what you say
that you're good and your love is great
I'm broken inside, I give you my life
Find More lyrics at

I need you to soften my heart
to break me apart
I need you to pierce through the dark
and cleanse every part of me

I may be weak
but Your spirit's strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God you never will

Monday, July 8, 2013

Jonah Turned One!

Jonah's birthday was May 18, so this post may seem a little late.  However, life has been very busy down here the last few weeks.  The kids got out of school in May, then we went on a 2 week "Family Trip" in June, got some personal exciting news, and we are just now settling back into some sort of normalcy.  I want to go back and pay homage to my unique little first born.

We celebrated Jonah's birthday a week early while we were at home on our last break, on May 10th.  We had a party at John's mom's house with lots of family over.  Jonah had a cute cake with a whale on it, but he was not interested in eating it at all.  He didn't even want to smash it.  We kind of force fed him a little and he threw up.  It was not cute.  Oh well, it didn't hurt my feelings.  I'd much rather have my kid tear into an avocado (which he does, daily) than a cake any day of the year!

We decided while at home that it was time to actually pay for good professional pictures instead of just taking our own with the iPhones.  It was a great investment!  You can check out some of our photographer's pictures from the day before the party at the railroad depot, and day of at her website here. These were the sneak peeks she put on facebook:

I want to make sure I remember what my little guy is like at this point in his life.  If I had to sum him up in a short sentence, it would be this: He is a MESS!  This toddling little boy is silly, funny, stubborn, fearless, loving, playful, hungry, and seriously loves to make messes and loud noises.

However, this is my blog, my own little corner of the internet as some put it, and I don't have to leave it at that short sentence. So, if you'd like to get to know him better, feel free to continue reading. =)

Jonah is cheerful most of the time and smiles and laughs easily. We found out the other day that if I make what I call my "silly monkey face," then he will laugh like crazy and think I am a super cool mom.

He loves all sort of tickling, being thrown around in the air, being upside down, being thrown on a pile of pillows, or anything else in the category of "rough-housing." His daddy encourages this by doing things like this with him:

Jonah loves all animals.  He finds farm animals fascinating, and will mimic us saying "Moo" as we pass cows on our running road.  He will say "Moo" so loudly and often that by the time we are past the herd of cows, they are all staring at us.  He giggles while chasing dogs and cats and likes to try to reach out and touch them.

He is very independent and already wants to walk alone.  He does not like to hold hands unless he feels like he may fall.  If he is on remotely stable ground, he jerks his little hand away and grunts as if offended that you even tried to take the lead.  This does not bode well for parking lots in the future, but we aren't huge fans of the child-on-a-leash technique, so we will be strong-arming him until he obeys. However, usually he will walk right next to our legs, and stop when we stop, as if to say, "I can keep up, you don't need to hold onto me.  I won't go far without you." He already is that "strong-willed child" who has the potential to be a leader or a menace.   If you are a parent of a child like this, what do/did you do to help them learn to obey but also encourage their independence? Please Lord let us lead him down the right path!

He has finally learned to give kisses with a closed mouth and leans in going, "Mmmmmm" when he is about to kiss you.  It's the sweetest thing ever, and makes my heart melt every time.  Kisses generally only happen when he first wakes up or is getting sleepy but hasn't reached sleepy-grouchy-crazy baby stage yet (as described here).

Jonah is content to play alone or with other babies or adults.  He gets along well with others unless they take something he was playing with first.  The "sharing" concept hasn't quite sunk in yet. He has realized he will get a little slap if he bites though, so his new tactic is pinching.  We are working on breaking him of that one, too.  He does stop when we tell him "No," but if he thinks we aren't looking, he tries again.  He also tackles, and will wrestle for what he believes is rightfully his.  I'm going to say this is persistence in the making!

He rolled over at 4 months, crawled at 8 months, walked at 11 months, and is now climbing anything he can, including any and all furniture.

His vocabulary includes verbally: Dada, Mama, Dog, Cat, Uh-Oh, something that he thinks is Peek-a-Boo but really is more like "Eeek - Oooo", and the name of Other Baby.

His sign language vocabulary includes: eat, drink, more, and all done. We began signing when he was around 8 months old, and he really took off with using it between 11-12 months.  This is a great article by a speech and language pathologist mommy, if you haven't heard of the value of signing to hearing toddlers. We are now trying to add the words: please, thank you, and outside.

He weighed in for his one year check up at 26 pounds, and was 32 inches tall.  He didn't cry a bit getting his finger pricked, but for some reason he hated the paper on the exam table and did not want to sit or lay on it.  He has grown 11 inches and gained 18 pounds since the day he was born. That is a lot of growth! At exactly age one he had 8 teeth (4 top/4 bottom) and was cutting his first molar.  He is now cutting 2 more molars and a canine.  I think in a week or so he will have 12 teeth! It's a good thing he really enjoys having his teeth brushed!
In the hospital, one day old.
April, 2013
He seems totally fine and healthy, other than recurring eczema all over his legs and sometimes other body parts.  We use Aquaphor ointment to help with this once or twice a day, and Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Soothing Bath Treatments (which are mostly oatmeal powder and make the water look dirty, but his skin feels better afterward). {Later edit: we have found that coconut oil on damp skin works better than any other product previously mentioned.} The only link we have found is in wheat products, which seem to make it worse, so he is on a fairly strict gluten-free diet of mostly organic or preservative-free foods.  He eats a Lot.  His favorite food is probably Greek yogurt or avocado.  He seriously eats one yogurt and at least half an avocado every. single. day. Here is that post-avocado face:

He loves taking baths and playing in the pool or washing his hands, or playing in any sort of water.

He would never come inside if we didn't make him. He wants to be outside all night and day, regardless of weather conditions and how hot he gets.
Hot and Sweaty
But happy outside!
He likes to dance by doing little squats and more recently has added arm waving to this cuteness.

He has a little angry streak and is more likely to scream or holler than actually cry.

He likes to open all cabinet doors and drawers he can reach and either pull out the contents of said cabinet or drawer, or just bang the door shut as loudly as he can, repeatedly, until we make him stop. He's really into loud noises.  One day while waiting for John while he was inside a store, I had to take Jonah out of his car seat to change his diaper, so I let him play around in the front seat until John came back.  The little guy immediately put his hands on the steering wheel and acted like he was driving, and then reached for the volume on the radio and turned it waaaaaaaay up and started dancing.  It was so funny!

He likes to walk through any open door, and then close it behind him.  He does this as fast as possible, as if it will slow us down from following him.  Sometimes we open the door and he laughs and makes his "Peek-a-Boo!" sound at us, like it was just a game all along.  He is very active, and only sits still when he's tired or sick.

Most recent changes in our parenting have been to try to begin these great "Early Potty Training Tips" I found on Pinterest.  As a teacher they make complete sense!  In real life this translates mostly to us saying "Poo poo. You are going poo poo," instead of just laughing at his funny little red face and grunts.

We have changed his sleeping habits once again and are finally teaching him to fall asleep in his own crib instead of rocking him.  YES! (Hasn't regularly happened since he was 6 months old in the cradle/rocker/bassinet thing). This is easy when he's very tired.  If he has an ounce of energy left he fights it, stands up in his crib, and tries to talk to us, like he can convince us to get him out and let him play.  I think he's trying to say, "Look, I just wanted the bottle and a little cuddle time.  I'm not crazy tired yet, so just let me play with toys a little longer."  We stay in there and just keep saying "Night, night! Shhhhhh!" We have left the room and let him cry it out a few times, when he's tired enough to cry and fall asleep within about ten minutes.  Sometimes though, it sounds like he's getting so worked up he may puke (which he has done before), and then we go back in and stay on the bed until he's asleep, because nobody wants to clean up vomit.  I think he will be past this stage soon though and we will just lay him down and leave and he may cry a little or talk himself to sleep.

People say time flies, and it does, but this first year has felt like a whole. entire. 365 day. year.  We've done a lot of things as a family of three in just a year.  He has already moved from Memphis, to Huntsville, to Waynesboro, with a brief vacation in Boston, and several 5 hour drives from Huntsville to Wabo and vice versa.  He is a rather well-traveled baby.
Looking so much like his daddy here.

We love him more than we ever believed possible.  
We are so thankful to be Jonah's parents!
We are excited to see what God has planned for his life,
and grateful for every day we are given as a part of that beautiful, crazy life.

Happy Birthday Little Man!
(or happy almost 14 months, anyway, hahaha).

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Rest for the Weary

1 Week Old
I've been learning from my baby again.  Jonah has had many different sleeping patterns already in his short little 13 month lifetime.  As an infant he slept often throughout the day.  We tried to follow the "Babywise" plan as closely as possible, and he liked his little incline rocker bed and slept pretty well.
About 3 Weeks

Transitioning to the crib was a huge ordeal and he did not like it at all.  We then began a phase of giving him a bottle and rocking him to sleep, then laying him in the crib on his belly.  Most recently, he squirms and wiggles and won't just relax and be rocked, so we lay him in the crib and then sit on our bed (which is right next to the crib - the joy of being a House Parent and sharing a room with your child) until he falls asleep.  He sometimes cries and looks up at us and we say "Nite nite. Shhhh!"  He then goes to sleep, happy as long as he thinks we are there with him.
Sometimes he naps with Daddy

Long car rides put him to sleep, too.
Before he falls asleep though, he clearly lets us know that he is tired.  He rubs his eyes with his little fists.  He cries for no apparent reason.  He wants to be held (for this little active, self-driven, independent boy, wanting to be held is rare). He goes from this happy little guy:

To this very angry, upset whiner:

 If I am busy trying to get his bottle ready, he follows me around the kitchen crying and trying to catch my legs.  When he succeeds at catching me, he holds on tightly then arches his back and looks up at me, loudly wailing.  It's like he's trying to say, "Mommy! I'm so freakin' tired! Put me to bed already! I can't get in there by myself!" Poor little man.  Sometimes I am kind and rely on the Holy Spirit, and respond with quiet, calm words, "It's okay, baby.  I'm sorry it's not ready yet.  Just a minute." Other times I am all too human and my answer is irritated, "Hush! I know you're tired! I'm trying to get your bottle ready! Chill out!"  Neither answer seems to help him, but I feel like a better mommy when I stay calm.

Then as I hold him and give him the bottle, I take deep breaths and enjoy looking at how beautifully God created him, and I pray about different things.

It was during one of those quiet moments of enjoying my baby, and thanking my Creator for him, that I was led to think of this verse:
joshuarice @ tumblr
I realized God wants us to come to Him when we are tired, too.  When we are not just tired, but weary. Weary means to me the kind of mental and physical exhaustion that seems to settle down in your bones and you can't shake off.  Weary seems like the front hallway of a house called called depression and anxiety.  The longer you hang out in a weary hallway, the more likely you are to end up inside the depressed, anxious house.  I thought about how to leave weary.  

It starts with turning to Jesus.  However, when we come to Him weary, he never gets frustrated or answers harshly.  Instead, He only wants to hold us, to help us, to give us the rest we need.  I began to think of how I like to rest.  I love sleeping in our Tempur-pedic bed.  However, rest doesn't always look like sleep for us.  Rest for adults sometimes looks like a Saturday with no plans at all.  Sometimes it looks like a bubble bath, or a long walk by myself or with a friend.  Sometimes I find rest on a long run, or in a good conversation or letter with a friend. Rest from the Lord sometimes comes in the form of retreats. It can also be found in breaks from work where you really take time off from your job and don't answer the phone or e-mails related to your job (I look forward to those very much).

Then I looked up the context for the verse and found this in the New Living Translation:

I found this even more encouraging because it is saying that we don't have to always create our rest.  Simply by finding our identity in who Christ is, and what He has already done for us, letting him teach us, should provide some rest for our weary souls.  Letting the Holy Spirit lead us provides a measure of rest, because when we chase after God instead of the world, we find peace and joy, and rest in our soul, not just our body. You see, most of those things I listed above give our bodies time to rest, to recover, to recharge, but God is more interested in our soul.  I'm not saying that we don't need physical rest, oh no, sleep and rest are very necessary for health. I am saying that I believe God is infinitely more concerned with the state of our soul than the temple in which it resides. 

We don't get many breaks from our job.  Some days it's very hard to make the time to take a quick shower, let alone a bubble bath.  Verse 29 is telling me that shouldn't always matter.  I don't have to create my restful situation.  The more I remember to rely on God, let Him speak to me through his word, let Him teach me through the quiet moments, the more my soul will find the rest it needs for the moment, until I am able to get to that restful situation my body needs later.  
Jesus says "Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart." 
He is saying, "Let me help you carry that yoke, stop doing it all alone."