Friday, April 30, 2010

Something old...something new...or not

I was gchatting with a friend (that's google chat for those of you who aren't google IMers) and she was comparing a hard decision I was making to buying a new shirt. How when you like two and can't decide, you often choose neither, or you get home and you wish you'd gotten the other one.

This is a friend who I can usually relate to on nearly every level. But when she wrote this, I couldn't imagine what she meant. Then I realized why. I didn't remember buying a new shirt and getting it home. Because I haven't. In. So. LONG! Here it is, nearly May 1, 2010 and my last purchase of a new peice of clothing for myself was in 2008!!! Now I know that I was pregnant 9 months of that time, and broke most of the rest of the time, but really? So are most of the rest of the world and they are running all over in their new shirts! 2008? Do I even still get to count as being a girl?

When I shared that with her she said, "That's why your debt snowball rolls on and mine got caught in a ditch somewhere".

Have I really become so frugal that I don't buy a new shirt for over a year? Is that even allowed?

The debt snowball is something that I learned from Dave Ramsey. You line up all your debts in order of balance, ignoring all interest rates, smallest to largest. You list out your minimum payments on each. Then you pay off the smallest debt first. Once that's gone you use that payment plus the minumum payment to pay off the next smallest, then you are paying number 3 lowest with 3 minimum payments. This allows you to free up some monthly cash for all these little things and your "snowball" builds momentum. You feel powerful by getting stuff paid off and you are more likely to stick with it. You get out of the mentality that now you have this "free" money to play with when you pay something off, you use it to pay something else off.

Somehow we got out of Lawrence's period of unemployment last year with no additional debt. Our snowball stalled, but it didn't melt. And April 30 has been the day we have been looking ahead to for about 6 months, it's the day we'll start to get back on track.

HEY! That's today.

I think it's important for us to take snapshots of where we are so we can see progress. (Maybe that's why I posted the before and after for my shred). Sometimes it's hard to see because you don't "get" anything for paying off debt. That is the whole idea. To use your money to think ahead and not back. To save for things rather than pay off things. And by the way, you do get something. Freedom. From debt.

Last year I posted that we had decreased our debt in one year by $28K. From Jan 08-Jan 09. That wasn't all cash out, that was selling of a car, and getting realistic about what we NEED vs what we WANT. I'm happy to report that in 2009 we paid off an additional 12K. Not as exciting as the year before...but hey, there was less to sell, less to get rid of, etc and that is a total of 40K in two years. WOW. It feels good to know we are still headed in the right direction a little at a time. If you know my debt story, you know that for me this all started when I read "The Total Money Makeover" and then Lawrence read it. And then we had one, a total money makeover that is. We thought that because we didn't have all kinds of credit card debt, that we didn't have debt. But when we looked at our nice cars and our nice house we thought, when did over 300K in debt become "no debt"? And we are totally normal for our generation. This is normal. Except THIS IS NOT NORMAL! This paying off debt is no fun, and it's not normal, but as Dave says,

"If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else".

I'm pretty sure he'd want me to get a new shirt on occassion though, so this weekend, I might just have to do that! You know, since we are getting back on track and all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

He's my baby brother.

My mom just sent me the news. And my stomach turned. The news we were expecting, waiting for, dreading, and proud of. And I'm swelled with a mixture of emotions. I'm really proud of how my brother has excelled in his work with the National Guard. He's good at it, and he's been noted at the top of his class more than a few times. Selfishly, I don't want him to go to Iraq. Selfishly, I feel sad for my little girls who will desperately miss their uncle and for my mom who will endlessly worry for her only son. I feel encouraged that only two soldiers were lost in the last round of soldiers who went to Iraq from Oregon, but I know to their families, two doesn't feel like "only". It feels like everything. I'm sad, I'm worried. But I am also very very proud.

You see, he's my baby brother.

Breaking News, Central Oregon, Eastern Oregon, Politics »

Eastern Oregon Guard troops to deploy for Iraq in November
By Julie Sullivan, The Oregonian
April 26, 2010, 7:22PM
It's official: Oregon Army National Guard soldiers will be among the
last troops to serve in Iraq. On Monday, the Department of Defense
ordered 600 troops based in La Grande to deploy in November.

They will serve during "Operation New Dawn," the final phase of the
Iraq war scheduled to begin Sept. 1 when American troops shift from
combat and intelligence into a role of advising and assisting the Iraqi
forces, said a Pentagon spokesman.

Under President Barack Obama, the number of U.S. troops serving in
Iraq are scheduled to drop from 95,000 today to 50,000 on Sept. 1, and
to withdraw completely from Iraq by Dec, 31, 2011.

Despite the mission's new name, the 3rd Battalion of the 116th Cavalry
Brigade will be performing an old job -- guarding supply convoys. Last
week, nearly 2,700 fellow Oregonians from the 41st Infantry Brigade
Combat Team returned to the state after 10 months providing convoy
security across two thirds of Iraq and other security operations. Two
Oregon soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb during the tour.

The 116th soldiers are based in Hood River, The Dalles, Woodburn,
Redmond, La Grande, Baker City, Ontario, Hermiston and Pendleton. They
are tank and infantry units, best known stateside for fighting
wildfires. They will deploy as part of the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat
Team, in Boise. About 230 members of the battalion will remain at home.

More on the 41st
Read past coverage by The Oregonian on the deployment of Oregon Army
National Guard troops from the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The La Grande-based unit last deployed for "Operation Iraqi Freedom" in
2004. Three-quarters have served at least one tour, said battalion
commander, Lt. Col. Phillip Appleton.

He said the troops will train in Idaho beginning this summer, then move
into intensive training at Camp Shelby, Miss., after formally
mobilizing on Sept. 17. They are expected to spend 10 months in Iraq.

"The most important thing is that employers and families continue their
support to make the soldiers' transition easier," Appleton said.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Good Stuff

Thanks to everyone who was so sweet and understand after my bad morning. Thanks to a great call from a friend who called to catch up after way too much time, thanks to gchat and some good chatting and venting about how much it sucks sometimes, thanks for the comments, thanks for reminding me to look inside and see what I know.

This weekend I'm going to the beach for a Woman's retreat. I'm really looking forward to it. The topic is Ashes to Beauty and it will be several women talking about things (tragedy, horror, pain, and troubles I'm assuming) that brought them to their knees and how these circumstances changed their lives and made them more beautiful people. That's what I think it will be. I'm thinking the weekend holds some heavy deep stuff, and a lot of good stuff. I'm looking forward to learning something about myself and about God's goodness in areas that I'm not expecting. I'm looking forward to connecting with some women and having some time with my baby.

I'm gonna miss these three though...
I'm trying not to go to my guilty place of knowing that they need me, that the girls need my time and love and attention, and instead I'm concentrating on whats in store for me and my heart this weekend. I'm looking forward to me and my baby. Just the two of us. And 100 other women.

Lawrence has an Earth Day race on tap for the girls. A fun run for Addie and a 1K for Lily. This will be Lily's 3rd race and Addie's first. They are so excited they are barely worried about me being gone.

As I look at the snoring man next to me, I can't help but being amazed at the incredible person and father he is. He is! And he really keeps getting better. And I freak out, and he stays calm and figures stuff out. He does it all with the girls, and even with Bryson. And with me. I married the right one. Even in my annoyed rage over something silly, he tells me to take it out on him, that he really doesn't mind. I'm so thankful to go away this weekend without a worry in the world of his unconditional love and competence, that the girls will have a fun and relaxing weekend doing lots of good stuff and likely eating lots of good stuff, and I don't have to worry a bit. Thanks babe, I love you, sorry I'll turn off the light now!!

Man, my life, it is good stuff...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The bad morning

As I type this I'm already feeling a bit better. But -

Today was a bad morning.

I try to be a positive person. I usually succeed. I try to appear to have it together. I'm usually a little less successful at that. But I get that there is love and beauty in my frazzledness, I'm good with that. Many of my friends love me for that quality particularly and it has been affirming to know it charms y'all. But -

Today was a bad morning.

I got up before 6am to nurse Bryson, them spend a little QT snuggling and exchanging big cheeky grins. Put B on his play mat kissed my hubby hello when he got out of the shower, and tag your it, I went to get ready. Getting "ready" for me in the morning is a pretty loose term. Perhaps I should call it finding something to wear and brushing my hair, occasionally getting a curl in or some eyeliner on. Today I found something that fit, was weather appropriate, clean, and that I hadn't wore yet this week, so that was success right there. Addie was up by the time I came down and I snuggled with her and read her a book. Lily got up, I snuggled with her and we talked. I had my coffee while they had there milk. It was 7:10 and we didn't need to leave until 7:30 to make my bus.

It seemed like a good morning.

But then somehow it was already 7:30, I had my coat on, Lawrence wasn't quite ready, Lily started crying that I didn't read her a book. Not the kind of crying like throwing a fit, but big ole tears welling up and rolling down. As she stood there holding "Dora's book of manners", and clinging to me, I felt sad and angry. Then I just got angry. Lawrence wasn't ready, we needed to leave right now. I told him that. I told Lily no for the book, now I was going to miss the bus anyway. I begged her to stop crying. I didn't sound like a mom, but like a manic crazed person. I started to cry. I apologized to Sabine and then I didn't say goodbye to the kids, after I kissed Lily's head and threatened to send her to her room until she calmed down. She didn't calm down and I didn't send her to her room, then I left. Lawrence was fiddling with the trip counter on the car and wasn't leaving the drive way and I snapped at him. On the way he said, "Don't worry, hon, she's okay, it's not that". I said, "It's not that for me either". I'm not really sure what either of us meant but I hurt and I was fuming. We pulled up to the bus stop, just as my bus drove away. He apologized, and I got out of the car.

I couldn't get over how this turned to a bad morning.

I sat there in the cold wind for 20 minutes waiting for the next bus, trying to put this all into perspective. Did I really just tell my five year old baby that she would have to go to her room because she was sad I was leaving for work? I was mad at myself for getting mad. And especially mad at her. Was I upset that I would be late? I would still be getting to work by 8:40. That wasn't it. What was it?

I'm still not sure what is up with me, but as I think about it, I guess it was that I get up in the morning before 6am. I shower the night before. I barely get myself dressed and ready. I don't get my kids breakfast or dressed. I read one of them a book. I didn't eat breakfast (though thanks to Sabine reminding me, I grabbed my toast out of the toaster oven before rushing out the door). I plan ahead the night before, laying out clothes and packing bottles and pump supplies. I make a list of things to discuss with Sabine or organize things Lily might need for school. I write down what time Bryson ate, and when he'll need his first nap based on wake up time. And somehow in an hour and a half, I do so much, yet do nothing, and leave my little girl crying with her face pressed against the window because I didn't have time to read a book in my rush to go miss the bus.

I try to be a positive person. I try to keep it all together. I try to remember that I've only been back to work for one month. I try to remember that I only gave birth 4 months ago. I want to go easy on myself, but I can't. So my anxiety builds. I don't have control of my new normal yet. And maybe I won't find that for a while, no matter how much I want to. I'm trying to find patience not only for my kids but for myself. I'm my harshest judge. I don't feel like this every day. But -

Today was just a bad morning.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sixty Five Years!

Grandma Carol turns 65 today!!

Below is something that our family and Lawrence's brother's family came up with to read at her party on Wednesday. We were sad to have missed it but we celebrated in thought.

65 thoughts about grandma from her 6 grandchildren. Please note that some of the thoughts are really random.
1. Mandel brot
2. Children’s Museum
3. Visiting our house
4. Computer games
5. Manicures
6. Pedicures
7. Red Robin
8. 8 Hanukkah presents
9. Chocolate
10. Having dinner together
11. Going on trips
12. Reading books
13. Card games
14. Going to the pool
15. Sunday panties
16. Getting us up early
17. Milk Time!!! & coffee time
18. Seeing the baby elephant at the zoo
19. North Carolina
20. Play with her
21. Matching clothing
22. Monday panties
23. Singing Little Einsteins
24. Cuddles in bed while reading
25. Birthday presents
26. I don’t know
27. Snuggles “nuggles”
28. Tuesday panties
29. Baking Cakes
30. Cooking
31. Earrings
32. Going on trips
33. Going shopping
34. Buying me cool books
35. Going to the movies
36. Chocolate Marshmallows
37. Skype-ing on the computer
38. Bringing my cousins
39. We like her
40. Wednesday panties
41. Wine
42. Sleeping at Grandma’s
43. Being Grandpa’s boss
44. Matzoh ball soup
45. Too many cookies
46. Happy
47. Thursday panties
48. Puzzles
49. Playing Barbie dolls
50. Playing with me & Ty
51. Baths in her big bathtub
52. Taking us to Oregon to visit
53. Taking me to plays
54. Coming to our house for dinner
55. Coming to temple to hear me sing
56. Friday panties
57. Giving us cool parents
58. Our own kitchen cabinets full of treats
59. Our baby blankets
60. Sending me cool emails
61. Hanging out with me when I have no school
62. Memberships to some of the coolest places
63. Getting mail with our names on it
64. Breakfast at Hayden’s
& finally # 65. Saturday panties

From Lawrence and Jenny:
During March somewhere around my birthday, I realized that my family was getting really old. Dad 70, Mom 65, & Mark 40! Finally the kid with the smaller bedroom wins!!! Although I am graying fast, I am a spry 37. In all honesty, we really love you and can’t express how grateful we are to have your support in all that we do. The life lessons that you’ve taught and continue teaching helps guide us through marriage and parenthood. Lesson 1 – alcohol, in your case wine, and dairy, in your case ice cream, meet all the daily recommended dietary needs. Lesson 2 – success is measured by the happiness in your days. The pride you show when sharing our stories and our pictures shines through.
From Mark & Laureen:
We would just like to thank you for being such a great mom and a great friend. For being an amazing grandma and showing our children so much love. For knowing when we need a night out without even being asked. For all of the amazing things that you do for us.

Mom, thank you for helping direct and shape the memories of our families. We love you. Happy Birthday

We love you very much! These are some of our favorite pictures of Grandma with our babies.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Katy's getting married!

If you know us at all I'm sure you remember our summer nanny for the last two summers, Katy. Katy worked part time for us while she was getting her masters and waiting to become a teacher. There was one other thing Katy was waiting for while she was working for us. She was waiting for the love of her life to propose. And finally in December, he DID!!! They have a July wedding planned.

Click HERE to see the most amazing engagement photos I've ever seen. Not to mention some pretty cool shots that show of how beautiful Portland's downtown waterfront is! How beautiful of a bride is she going to be? I can't wait!

Do over, I want this photographer to do MY engagement photos. (No offense to Lawrence's dad, Steve, who got some great shots of us in their NJ front yard next to a killer bush for our engagement photos!) I felt better when I told my friend Carrie about our bush engagement photo background and she said, "Engagement photos, what engagement photos?" :) Okay, good.

CONGRATS TO KATY AND ANDY. I'm sure I'll have an awesome blog post about how much fun we had at their wedding later this summer.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tax Day!!!

Our newest tax deduction!
Happy last day of work, Grandpa Steve!

When I was pregnant with Bryson, everyone said, oooo, better get him born before the end of the year so you can have an additional tax deduction. As December rolled around I DID want to have him, and have him soon, but it had nothing to do with tax deductions. I'll admit that as I filed ours this year, it did sweeten the pot & every little bit helps, but I chuckle at the idea of having a baby in the right year simply for this reason. I was in it more for the, I'm peeing 30x a night and I can barely walk without a cane, reason. Even so, I love my 3 little tax deductions. This blog is dedicated to Lawrence's dad, who comes out of retirement and works hard filing and teaching taxes each season. We appreciate all you do. We hope this gummy smile for makes you smile after a long and exhausting day and tax season! Enjoy your much deserved vacation!

Click Here to see our other little deductions... :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

4 months

I'll spare you all the "how could HE possibly be four months?" and all that stuff that I'm feeling, surprising myself that I am still amazed at the passage of time after 5.5 years of doing this!

Could it also REALLY be 5.5 YEARS THOUGH??? Today is my 5.5 year anniversary of being a mom. And I'm gonna celebrate it! You know, in that going to work sort of way. We did have half birthday brownies though.

Today is a milestone for my oldest and my youngest, and as for my middle one, she feels like she's lost in the middle right now, despite all of my best efforts to give her more attention than the other two combined. We still laugh our heads off at almost every move she makes because she is so damn funny figuring herself out.

Bryson is giving Addie a run for her happiest-baby-on-the-block title. He is SO happy, he is SO smilely, and his laugh, oh that wonderful laugh is plentiful. Just not when I'm prepared to record it. Out of no where he will look at his sisters smiling at him and the laugh comes straight from his belly and loud. He startles him self with the greatness of it. And speaking of startling. Everything scares this little guy. Nothing more than his daddy's sneeze. If he is tired and Lawrence's sneezes while he is holding him, it takes a good 10 minutes to calm him down. Luckily it's allergy season and the pollen count in Portland is particularly high this year! But when he's not startled, did I mention he is SO HAPPY!

I'm trying to think of all the mundane (except not to me!) baby things that I want to remember in cherish and eventually transfer into a baby book...

Drool - this kid is a faucet. He will soak a bib and a shirt through in 10 minutes. He even started to get a little diaper rash under his chin from all the wetness. I wonder if he is getting teeth. The other two didn't get teeth until after 7 months, but he is the size they were then, so maybe. My little brother got teeth at 2 months old! (and no, Dawn, we did not try and pull them! hehe:))

Rolling over - he is SOOOOO close to getting from his back to his belly.

New Toys - It's amazing, if you wait to give a baby toys and equipment that are age appropriate, they really LOVE it. Unlike what we did as first time parents, showing Lily all the toys and devices we had for her FAR before she was ready. By the time she was old enough to lay and look at an activity mat, she HATED it, because we had those music and lights playing for her since a week old! This week I spent $45 and an hour of scrubbing/disinfecting on Craigslist for about $200 worth of new baby gear. His favorites, the bumbo seat, exersaucer, and a play mat. All things we had before but sold or returned to their rightful owners. His new upright position has been a blast for him for a few minutes at a time. Up to now he was a laying on a blanket sort of guy, not much else to do, but watch his sisters and kick while on his back or tummy. He can't get enough of the new entertainment.

Poo - he was having a little trouble in this area. Going only 1-2x per week, and then A LOT. He was soooo stinky all the time. But just like his sisters before him, the exersaucer works wonders. Put him in that for about 5 minutes and he does his business. Now to get it to stay in the diaper, but we are so happy for him to get it out...the blowouts haven't even be that gross. well...

Sleep (you know this will be my longest section!) - He's sleeping really good! Listen, I almost feel guilty discussing the sleep. I've been there a non sleeper. I've worked my BUTT off to do all the "right" things, and she just wouldn't sleep. And I was SO SO SO JEALOUS of the mom's who were all, I don't know, I didn't do anything and he just started sleeping 7-7. Bite me those moms, I'd think. I couldn't even fathom it. I read EVERY book on the topic. I tried every thing, I broke every "bad" habit, but baby Lily still didn't follow the norm. So, I just want credit for my scars. Yes, my baby boy is sleeping mostly through the night (though he gave a a good run last week of up between 3-4ish). But I've been there, so I know it's hard to read if you are in no sleep land. What is the trick? Really? Not much. I've made sure he is on a good feeding schedule and getting plenty to eat during the day (which did require some pumping and bottling and even supplementing a little formula around 2.5 months). Then when he was waking at night around 2.5 months but not really eating, just nursing for under a minute and falling back to sleep, I knew he didn't need me to eat in the night. He was in his own crib by then, and when he woke up for a few nights, he did cry a bit. Maybe 20 minutes one night at the longest, and that wasn't wailing crying, it was just that fussy, I'd rather you come in here and get me, but even though you aren't, I'm not freaking out, kinda cry. I'm certainly not glad that Bryson was colicky for his first 6 weeks, listening to 4-6 hrs of solid crying a night was taxing. I would hold, bounce, rock, nurse, swaddle, unswaddle, burp, dance with all I had in me to soothe him for even a few moments. I would celebrate on nights when he only cried an hour. It kind of broke something in me, but it did make it so that when I decided he wasn't really eating at night, that I could let him fuss for no problem for a few minutes until he went back to sleep. It wasn't his mad cry. I know his mad cry, and I am so sorry he had to go through all that, but in the end, it allowed me to leave him alone long enough to soothe himself back to sleep. So it is one of the battle wounds that I'm glad for. He goes to bed around 7-7:30, I wake him at 10-11pm for a dream feed, and he wakes up between 5-8am, without much consistency there. If he wakes at 5, he'll go back to sleep after eating until 8, but if he wakes after 6, then he's up for the day after he eats. With that said, I should say, he is sleeping through the night, FOR NOW. Both of the girls slept through and then didn't on and off. Lily started at 12 months, stopped at 18 months, started again at 2...she's been sleeping pretty good ever since, with a case of terribleness bedtime battles right after 3 for about 3 months. Addie slept through very consistently until we made her share a room with her sister, and she is still getting up some nights and coming to our room. She started that at about 2.5, so I can't say HE SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT for good, just for now. And for now, I'll TAKE IT.

Nursing - He's nursing much better than he was. In the afternoon and evening my milk supply is usually low. I give him a bottle of pumped milk before bed so I know he had a full feeding (usually supplementing that with other stored breastmilk pumped from earlier in the day) at his dreamfeed I give him a bottle of formula, so that Lawrence can share that with me and so that I can pump at that time and use that milk for Sabine to give him the next day while I'm at work. To both the exclusively nursing moms or the exclusively formula feeding moms this probably sounds insane, but it is working for me. I have sanity that he is getting enough to eat, to sleep well, and that I have exclusively breastmilk to give him when I'm away from him so far. I can't explain why, but that is very important to me. I don't mind giving him formula when I'm there once a day, if it affords me enough supply for him to have only breastmilk while I'm at work.

Chiropractor - He had his monthly check up this month and I'm just simply amazed at what she can do for him. As well as what she's done for him. And what she finds. More and more, I wonder what kids' health and temperament would be like if they all saw pediatric chiropractors. She is so gentle with him, and you can tell when she helps him release tension in his neck or back or CHEEK (???) because he squirms when she touches it and then relaxes with a greater range of motion. All the while she explains why this tightness or that is the reason for his gassiness or constipation or preferring to look to the right or will help his immune system. It's fascinating and exciting to see how much it helps him. He isn't even the same baby that screamed and screamed 2.5-3 months ago. I love to look at his little body kicking in absolute glee!

Bruises - Bryson got his first bruise on his cheek last week. The white noise machine fell off the side of his crib while we were Addie and I were making him laugh, and jiggled it off the edge. OUCH. I know it is the first of many little boy bruises, I just wasn't expecting to be the one who caused it. Boo.

Other good things about today...
Sabine has been here for 8 months
My friend Lynnette had a HUGE baby girl. 9lbs 15oz, and isn't Attalia Justine a beautiful name?
My mother-in-law had a super cool girls only 65th birthday party celebration in NJ!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The best picture I've taken all day

Our friends Matt and Allison got us these adorable shirts when Bryson was born. They say, "I'm the Big Sister Lily" "I'm the Big Sister Addie" "I'm the Little Brother Bryson". Since Bryson's new nickname given to him by his dad is THE BIG LOAD, we decided we better get a picture of them all in their shirts today, before he out grows it...

If I ever get the perfect picture of all three of my kids smiling and looking, I will cherish it for all the days of my life! (That or I might accidentally hit delete, because isn't that just the way it goes?). You will know if I ever get this picture because it will likely be my facebook profile, all over the walls of my house, I'll have coffee mugs made out of it, and it will be on a Holiday card + many Holiday gifts. It was hard with two. It's impossible with 3! Lately I've really loved to see the chaos in my daily pictures, laughing at the emotions I can see on their little-non-perfectly-smiling-and-looking-faces. This is them. This is real.

Addie is showing Bryson which way to look at mommy's camera here (as she turns his head against his will)
This might be the best one, who was to my left getting everyone's attention. Bean-Bean is that you???
This is what I like to call, Addie's "rough" face. If she comes at you with that face you don't know if she is going to hug you or head butt you. She ALWAYS makes that face to Bryson. She even says his name all crazy and squeeky. "BWWYYYYYSON"
Lily is so sweet and compliant, but after several shots her sweet smile turns to a deer in headlights with lockjaw. Poor Bryson's head is getting too heavy for him to hold!

Sigh. I love them. And their inability to look and smile at the same time.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April 7th - Remembering Maddie. And Waiting on Baby S...

Today is important for two reasons. Two very different reasons.

Today it has been one year since seventeen month old Madeline Spohrs passed from her mother's arm. One whole year. I'm am so sad for Mike and Heather. So sad and so grateful. Heather's blog has taken me on many highs and many lows, and I've appreciated my own children, the little moments, the hard moments so much more because of her words and her raw and honest grief. I've snuggled a little longer. I've loved a little sweeter. I've held on a little tighter. I wasn't going to read Heather's blog this morning before writing this, but I did. And now I'm sitting here in tears because of the sadness she's feeling, and the sadness I'd feel if my two girls were to never know each other. And for the joy that I feel for my healthy children and my happy life. Through Heather's blog, I found Sally, and eventually Margaret...someone who has also become very dear to me. I loved Heather's post today because she knows that Maddie has touched millions of people in her short life time. Maddie has changed lives that she never knew. I hope we can all say that about our lives when they are over.

The second reason today is special is for a happier occasion. It marks the due date for another dear friend, Lynnette. Lynnette and her husband, G, have been praying for a second child since before we started thinking about having Addie. Almost four years now. Their wish to give K a little brother or sister has taken them on a long and winding journey, and they've trusted God and His plan for their family. Lynnette's faith and desire to follow that plan has been a true encouragement to all of us who know her. She is a beautiful wife, mother, friend, and sister. And today, after 4 long years of praying for this child, wanting him/her so much, but deciding to be happy with whatever God chose for them, her son or daughter is due to be born. I'm lucky and blessed to have worked with Lynnette for that past 8 years, we've shared in so many joys of motherhood, working, pumping, venting, laughing, crying together. In some ways she has been my sanity, especially in the early years of new motherhood. She has been a great inspiration to me in many ways to be more selfless, to let go of things that I cannot control, and to ignore things that do not matter. The baby that Lynnette will deliver within the next week (we hope!) is so lucky to be loved and raised by this mother and this father. So much love awaits.

Please join me in praying for a healthy and safe delivery for Lynnette and baby S and a smooth transition as their family of 3 becomes a family of 4. Lynnette and G take on a lot of responsibility caring for other members of the family, and I pray that time, health, and space will allow that they can nurture their own new little family as K becomes a big sis; while they continue to meet the needs of other loved ones.

Please pray for peace for the Spohrs family, as they reflect on this day, let their hearts be filled with the happy memories of Maddie's goodness and sweetness, and let their minds forget the horror etched from the hospital bed a year ago when she took her last breath. Let them feel Maddie's presence, and may they dream of her tonight.

Let us all reflect on the year that has passed. Look forward to the warmer springtime that gives new life and a fresh perspective to all our trials. May we be strong, wise, and positive in our daily roles. I hope you can be joyful in your day and may you find peace in your sorrows. There is so much goodness for us all, don't move so fast that you aren't able to see it. I encourage you as I remind myself.