Saturday, February 17, 2018

Saturday Ramblings.....

So I haven't written a rambling post in a while and one of my goals for the new year is to get back to blogging, so today I'm going to ramble.

I'll start by saying it feels so good to have everyone feeling well!  I've had some sick kiddos and honestly have not been feeling too well myself.  So hallelujah we are all well!!!

This morning dawned early.....well early-ish....It wasn't workweek early, which is 5:15, but it was Saturday early, which is 7:00.  Lydia had to be out the door headed to Greensboro by 7:30.  She and her friend Elenore are part of the team representing Eno River Academy in the Science Olympiad.  They are the, "Road Scholars".  So they have put many hours of study and training into preparing for todays competition and I'm hoping that they have a great time and do their best at the competition today!  Randy and Ellie's dad accompanied the girls!  I can't wait to hear about how it goes!

Sophia also had to be out relatively get to DRIVER'S ED!!?!?!!  Class didn't start until 9:00, but I wanted to check out a we left at 8:00.

Durham has a lot of bakeries.....and I've only been to a I made a list of ones I need to check out or check out again....I included a few in Hillsborough too since that is my new home away from home.....
If you guys know of any I need to add to my list please let me know!

Here is my list:
The French Corner Bakery
Ninth Street Bakery (have not been here but have had a lot of their products.....yummmm!)
Guglhupf  (been here)
Mad Hatter Cafe (been here)
Rise (been here)
Rose's Meat and Sweet Shop
All Day Cafe
Cup-A-Joe (been here)
Weaver Street (been here)

Today Sophia, Audrey, and I went to Loaf.  Jackson was still asleep, but I did bring home a little coffee cake for him to try.

Sophia got some fancy french named pastry that I can't pronounce and Maple View Farm chocolate milk.  That girl LOVES their chocolate milk.  She honestly did not love the pastry she chose.  She thought it would have a sweet glaze, but it was more of a honey glaze, and she is not a honey fan, so she just had a couple bites.  Audrey and I shared ours with her though!

Audrey got a classic chocolate croissant.  She devoured it before I could get a picture.  She also had the chocolate milk and she was very happy with her choice!

I got a raspberry chocolate pastry and coffee.  If I'm being honest, and I am, the coffee was ehhh.  It wasn't bad, but I also wouldn't go for the coffee.  In fact, I may bring my own next time.  However, the pastry was wonderful.  I would definitely go again for the pastry.  It was light and fluffy with a crispy crust.  Just a hint of chocolate, lemon, and raspberry.  It was sooooo good!  Yum, yum, yum!

The atmosphere was bustling.  It is literally a hole in the wall.  In fact, we almost missed it. I'm fairly certain they do not have seating, just counter service.  But so much was going on that it is possible I missed it!  Nonetheless, they are very close to the Parlor in Downtown Durham, and they do have outdoor seating there which would be lovely on a temperate day.   Loaf opened at 8:00 and we arrived at 8:00 there was already a line and we had to park a few streets away.  The staff was very helpful and friendly.  Perhaps the best part of the experience was the smell.  Oh. my. word.  They make their pastries right there in the shop and it smells wonderful.  Warm and doughy.  Perfect.  It was all in all a fabulous experience and I definitely would go again.

So......anyway......Sophia is taking drivers ed.  That is scary and awesome!  I do miss having a driver in the house!  Unfortunately, because our life is so crazy she has to take it privately and that means Saturday and Sunday all day for 2 weeks and then an additional Saturday.  Which also means she will miss the family trip to DC to see Andrew.  Boooo!  I may take her up another weekend because she really misses him and he's not coming home for spring break or this summer!  What am I going to do with that boy!  He just keeps right on growing up and heading out!  He did land a summer internship with The US House Financial Services Committee.  He is super siked about that and he is still working about 20 hours a week at Nike and got to talk to Kyrie Irving when he came into the store a few weeks ago so that was cool.  So this summer he plans to work, because he needs money and do his internship, so he should stay pretty busy!  He's also swimming for his schools intramural swim team and enjoying that.  He took time off all his events last week.  His relay team came in first.  So YAY!

Today feels like a gift.  February has been so full.  We've had birthday parties,

and super bowl parties,

and valentines, which at my house means a scavenger hunt.  I didn't do a scavenger hunt a couple years ago thinking the kids had probably outgrown it....they hadn't.  Talk about disappointment.

We've had 6th grade dances,

basketball, oh how I love basketball

and more birthday parties

and it has just been so busy!

Today feels lazy and slow and wonderful.  I do need to clean and I do have to run kids here and there and I have a couple gifts to buy and I have already picked up groceries....and gone to Goodwill to drop off things that have been riding around in the trunk of my car for about a month......but it just feels like a much more restful day.  I've already gotten to eat pastries, drink coffee, and blog.....Ahhhh

I may get a tattoo today.....maybe.

I might wait until I can wear flip flops while it heals.  My foot is already pretty jacked up so I don't have many shoe options that will work this time of year and I'm afraid tennis shoes would be too uncomfortable.....but I'm pretty sure this is happening sometime soonish.  My Mama is a tattoo artist.  Who knew!  She wrote it.  That way when I don't have her I will still have her handwriting......I have all these letters from my grandparents and I love them.  They are one of my very favorite things.....Its like a part of them left behind.

OH..... and speaking of goals.....another one of my goals was to read more books.  So far this year I've read two:

Unoffendable by Brant Henson......and that one was a game changer for me.....I should probably get that tattooed on my other foot.....or maybe my forehead....


Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee.....which is about letting go of your need for approval and seeing yourself through God's eyes.  It was a book I had started about a year ago, and never finished.  I picked it up again and this time buzzed through it.  It was excellent!

Well....I think this qualifies as rambling......

Until next time,

Friday, February 9, 2018

February 10.....A Day that Changed my Life.....FOREVER

It's weird how one day can hold so many emotions.  This eve of February 10 I have spent some time reflecting back over the last 17 years since my world stopped turning.  It was 2001.  It was a time of joy and excitement.  We were expecting our second son.  I was 8 months pregnant.  The nursery was freshly painted, a lovely shade of powder blue.  The closet was lined with tiny baseball uniforms and blue onesies.  The shelves were stocked with diapers and the crib was setup.  We were expecting a baby.  A baby we had tried over a year to have.  Andrew was 3.  Randy and I were 25. 

Then at a routine doctors appointment we were told the baby was a little small.  They monitored me closely for a few weeks.  The baby was growing, but slowly, very slowly.  I was put on strict bed rest.  Questioned about my drug and alcohol usage.  Told only to get up to go to the bathroom and I could shower twice a week.  Seriously?  Wow they were being strict.  I researched.  The Internet was invented back I poured over articles.  I was far enough along.  Our baby had over a 90% chance of survival.  Each day that number got higher.  So I followed the doctors orders.  After a few relaxing days, I got sore, very sore.  Its painful to lay all day....every day.  I prayed, I read the Bible, I researched, I talked on the phone.  I visited with sweet friends.  The days inched past and then one day I didn't feel the baby all.  I knew as the baby got bigger there was less room for movement.  I knew that when the mother was still the baby was more restful, but I also knew when you were as pregnant as I felt the baby move....I wasn't feeling anything.

My sister took me to the doctor that morning.  They found the baby's heartbeat.  Everything sounded fine.  I was sent home.  I still did not feel the baby move at all.  It was February 7.  Late that evening we called the doctor again.  He instructed us to go to the emergency room and that he would meet us there.  I was escorted immediately to labor and delivery.  The nurses searched for a heartbeat.  They couldn't find it.  Sometimes they could be tricky to find and babies liked to hide, they assured me.  Now I realize that is early on....they probably already knew he was gone....but I held on.....ever hopeful and clueless and naive.  An ultrasound was ordered and the baby was there!  I saw him.  He was big.  He looked normal, except the spot where his heart was, wasn't flashing.  He was dead.  The weight of that news hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was shocked.  I was devastated.  Hurry.  I wanted them to hurry.  Maybe they could revive him.  Nobody was rushing.  What was wrong with these people.  I was wailing.  Animal like sobs wrecked my body.  Randy made the horrible calls to let our parents know and our doctor, a funny Jewish man about my parents age sat and cried.  Dr. Fried, pronounced freed, sat with us for hours.  He answered every question I had....and I had a lot.

How will the baby get out of me?

Will it hurt?

When will I go into labor?
your body will go into labor naturally when it is ready.....I remember replying, "you mean I have to leave here pregnant and some random person on a bus is going to ask me when I'm due?" and I remember sobbing.  So worried about the pain of answering that question......Now it makes me laugh.  I don't ride buses and I didn't back then....but it was a real concern at the time!

Will you induce me?

If you like.

Can you just knock me out and do a c-section?
No it will cause higher risks with future pregnancies.

Will I get to see the baby?

What if I don't want to?
You don't have to....but we recommend that you do.

Will the baby look black and decayed or like a normal baby?
normal, but dead.

What will you do with the baby? 
wrap him up, photograph him, weigh and measure and take footprints, and bring him to you.

Then what are you going to do just throw him away?
No.  We will release him to a funeral home and you can make arrangements.

What happened?

We don't know.

Does this happen a lot?
Not a lot but more then we wish.

They induced labor that night, it was a Wednesday.  Contractions started on Thursday.  Labor was in full swing on Friday.  Then around noon on Saturday, February 10 I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.  It was so quiet.  You could here a pin drop.  There was no rushing around.  No newborn cries....the only sounds came from me.....wailing for the baby I wanted so badly. 

From Wednesday night until Saturday I had one prayer.  I prayed with 100% certainty that God could answer.  I prayed for the God who raised children from the dead to raise mine.  I prayed for a shred of life.  I prayed for a miracle.  God in his providence said no.  That day a journey of brokenness and healing began that in some ways continues still today.

We named him Matthew, it means a gift from God.  He has been a gift. 

The healing has come slowly.  God has been faithful.  I do feel like we have a hole in our family....I really wish I was celebrating his 17 birthday tomorrow.  Sometimes when I stranger asks me how many kids I have and my kids ages....I'll rattle them off....Andrew-20, Matthew-17, Sophia-14, Jackson and Lydia-12, and our baby Audrey is almost 11. I'll include him....just for fun....he did exist....I don't tell them the story....but I don't leave him out.  With people I know I usually just say 5's simpler.  No matter how I answer it seems wrong.

We did find out the reason he died was because he had a "true knot" in his umbilical cord.  It had tightened as he grew and it cut off nutrients, thus causing him to grow poorly and eventually die.  They promised it would never happen again.  Except they were wrong. 

The knot did not kill Matthew.  God ordained....with thought and consideration for Matthew to die....and he named it good.  They were also wrong because it did happen again.  After over a year of trying we finally found out we were expecting again.  This time a little girl.  My first girl.  I was so excited....and absolutely terrified.  The doctors watched my pregnancy like a hawk.  Weekly ultrasounds the entire second half of my pregnancy.  Constant reminders from the doctors that knots were would not happen again.

Well as May 10 dawned I gave birth to Sophia Grace....and she not only had a knot in her umbilical cord she also had it wrapped tightly around her neck two times.....but God ordained for her to live.  I had spent my entire pregnancy praying for a baby to scream.  I wanted to hear my baby cry.  Well scream she did.  That little girl cried for about 3 years straight!  Praise God!  God used Sophia as an answer to a Mama's prayers and balm to a wounded soul.  I thought our story was over, but God was about to show off.

We wanted more kids so started trying right away.  It always took us a bit longer to have kids then we hoped.  After over 2 years of trying we found out we were pregnant again.....with twins.  They were due in the middle of March.  They would probably come early, the end of February or beginning of March......

Again the watched my pregnancy closely.  On February 9 after a day of shopping my feel were swollen to the size of tree trunks.  The doctor told me to come to the hospital.  My blood pressure had skyrocketed.  Baby A (Jackson) was breech....they needed to deliver the babies now.  They were going to do an emergency C-section.....So they started the C-section just before midnight and at 12:19 they pulled out Jackson and at 12:20 came Lydia.

It was February 10, 2006.

On the 5 year anniversary of losing our precious Matthew.....God lavished his grace on us with Jackson Halsey and Lydia Hope.  Only God. 

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  May the name of the Lord be praised.

Tomorrow we will celebrate the gift of Jackson and Lydia....

Jackson is an athlete.  He plays basketball in a rec league and when he's not doing that he's playing basketball in our driveway.  He loves football.  He swims.  He runs cross country at school.  He's starting to play Ultimate Frisbee at school.  He is tall and strong and tough as nails. Jackson in winsome.  He reminds me so much of his Daddy.  People LOVE Jack. He makes them laugh.  He is nice.  He does times a bit much.....but has such a sweetheart.  Jackson is LOUD.  He knows how to project his voice.  Jackson is brave.  He is the frog catcher.  Ladybug relocator.  Spider killer.  He is the one doing handstands in the middle of the dance literally....he does them.  He doesn't mind standing fact he loves it.  He loves sugar and sour candy and soda.  He has such a sweet tooth.  He thinks history is interesting and doesn't love math.  He's a charmer!  He seeks forgiveness when he is wrong.  He is determined.  He is a leader.  He is a precious gift from God to our family.

Lydia is creative.  She makes things beautiful.  She loves to set a beautiful table.  She dresses with care and has an eye for cute accessories.  She is an amazing student and works very hard to do well in school.  Lydia is an expert at planning.  She will break big projects into sizable chunks and chip away at them.  She is tall and thin and soft spoken.  She is a faithful friend.  She will listen and help and include.  She has a quick and beautiful smile.  Lydia is an athlete: she runs and swims.  She is always a part of the playground games, a fierce competitor and according to her PE coach has uncanny skill at Capture the Flag.  Lydia loves roasted vegetables and homemade mac and cheese.  She likes truffles and olives.  She is a fabulous writer.  She is organized.  She is a leader.  She is a delight.  Lydia is a precious gift of God to our family.

God has been good to us.  I don't understand all that he has allowed but he does have a plan and I can is good.  It has been good.  It will be good.

PS  Andrew and Audrey if you are reading this.....please know you are gifts to our family as well.  I will blog about you both another day.....Blessings upon blessings

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Snow Days Then and Now

Snow days used to mean mess

and noise.....and laundry.....and cold....and hot cocoa....and neighborhood kids in and out

..slamming doors and fireplace roaring......and sledding 

and snowmen 

and snow bibs on and off and on and off and on and off......and cookies....and gloves......and mind you this was before noon....but the kids have grown.  Our snow days are so different....

This year the kids were in bed until 11:00.  I was in bed until 10:00....shameful and wonderful!

A nice cup of coffee and board games.....

Brunch around noon.....

Followed by

Bubble baths and good books.....

A Friends marathon.....

A surprise drop in from the Winn kids....even though we were still in our PJ's and had no makeup on and had billows of dog fur tumbling around we were happy for the sighting!  It was almost 4:00 so we should have been dressed.....we just decided not to today......

Then the younger kids did finally venture out for a bit, disappointed that not much snow was left they decided to hike over to their grandma's to see their cousin for a bit....

The rest of us played a pretty intense round of Spades....

A cake was baked.....and dinner was made, not be me.....and dishes cleared...also not by me...

Laundry was done....that was by me.....

Now we've all scattered around the house and Lydia and Audrey are playing an online trivia game, and Sophia is texting her friends, and Randy and Andrew are watching TV and talking, and Jack is playing Madden....and I'm blogging and thinking how much life has changed....and how in some ways its so much meals...and snow days....... and in other ways it is so much more relationships and feelings and technology.

The twins are about to turn 12.  They are begging for Instagram and iPhones and I'm wishing they still wanted Barbies and Nerf Guns....

Slow down time.....please slow down.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

September's Gifts

I love September.....for several reasons.....It's my BIRTHDAY.....and it's still a little bit summer but fall is quickly arriving.  The structure of school and some semblance of routine is returning....yet its not too routine yet. Sweet September!

September at my house is filled with gifts!  I love gifts....but don't really like buying for me is probably not the easiest!  I rarely have any ideas when asked what I like.....I'm not trying to be difficult....I will tell Randy and my Mama when I really want something (a camera....or a fire pit!) but generally I have no clue.  I've been thinking about why a lot this month, because I've been asked a lot what I want....and this is what I came up with:

I want thoughtfulness.
I want words.
I want pictures.
I want memories.

These are the things that I value and they are not always easy to put in a box with a bow!  

Some gifts (stuff) really hit the jackpot are a few of my all time favorite gifts.....

A simple bracelet that sorta sums up my life.....

This was a Christmas gift this past year.

A handmade 7 egg shadow box (I have 7 in my tribe!)......

This was a 40th birthday gift, a few years back!

Flowers from my Andrew with no prompting, flowers mean very little to me, but him remembering means everything....same when my Jackson buys me a Diet Coke with crunchy ice.....yeah he used Daddy's money but it was his idea!

Signs.....Randy knew I would like this one because he said it was sorta a rule or command.....

Evidently its a theme in our home decor...RULES....Randy and Andrew noticed and pointed this out this summer!  I do love me some rules!  Somebody's got keep this crew in line!

(There are more....I even have a "porch rules" sign....)

One gift I received from a friend this year was a pure white water bottle.  I do like practical.  For real.  If you are gonna give me stuff I want to use it!  The tear off label said, "Live Pure".  

I don't think the manufacturer meant to covey the message how I took it, but now each time I grab that bottle I'm reminded by the pure white....Live Pure.....YES!  
That is my kind of gift!
Meaningful and Useful

God's been so faithful to me and given me a few gifts this month too.....

One was the gift of Randy.  I'm so thankful for him.  He is wise and slow to act.  I need him!  Just this week I was ready to jump in and solve one of my kids relational problems and Randy firmly but gently said no.  This is a kid issue.  We can talk to the kids, pray with the kids, but we need to let the kids handle this.  Oh. my. word.  I'm so thankful for Randy's leadership.  When I want to jump in and be a helicopter parent I need him to remind me to lead and guide and pray....not to take over and solve.  God and the kids worked this situation out so much better then I ever could have!

There have been other gifts too....lessons in my pridefulness, lessons in my sinful tendency towards self-sufficiency and impatience.  That is a blog for another day though!

September also brought the gift of  expanding our community.  I have so enjoyed meeting the families of the kid's school friends at a school wide movie night

I've enjoyed meeting fellow teachers and student's and their families at the preschool.

I've enjoyed sweet time with Sophia who has been killing me at the gym.  She is hardcore!  So if you see me hobbling around its from trying to keep up with her!  UGH!

I have been reminded this month of the precious gift of friendships....Mine and my kiddos.

September Gifts Abound!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

What's Cooking

So...ya' I'm gonna share THE best salad you have ever had.  It is AmAzinG!  Oh. My. Word!

I have Kary to thank for this addiction.  Kary is my beloved hair dresser!

She not only takes care of all our hair and....and eyebrows...and color....she also recommends great salads.  She told me I HAD to try the Arugula Salad from Radius Pizza in I tried it....YUMMY!  However, I'm sorry to say it is also $15 a pop if you add I decided I would have to make it at home.  I've eaten like 4 times this week.  I am totally addicted.

Feta Cheese
Dried Cranberries
Walnuts (Radius uses peanuts....but the peanuts tasted a little weird to me)
Diced Roasted Sweet potatoes....YES!

Pan seared salmon....not included on salad, but Kary recommended adding it.
Vinaigrette Dressing

You are welcome.  I know I'm your new best friend.

And if you want your kids to think you are awesome....
Make these cookies

1 box cake mix (I used strawberry)
1 regular sized tub Cool Whip (I used reduced fat)
1 egg

Roll into balls and coat in Powdered Sugar
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes....

So quick I made them before school!
Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures of the finished product....
They were cute.
I didn't eat one but my kids LOVED them.

Happy Thursday!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Exploring Home

I've lived in Durham basically my whole entire life.  I say basically, because I did leave for college, but made a quick return home.....So I kinda thought I knew my town and the surrounding areas.  I'm realizing this last week, however, there is really so much I don't know about my hometown.  I think my new hobby is going to be uncovering Durm.  Take for instance Duke Gardens, I definitely knew it was there and had visited it many times.  Nonetheless, I did not know that it was so quiet during the weekday mornings.  A perfect spot for a walk, or quiet time, or writing.  I will definitely be incorporating this treasure into my life.

These weekday adventures are giving me lots of ideas for family adventures.

One of my favorite discoveries this week was King's Red and White.  Thank you Julia Curl!  Seriously, how can I have lived in Durham my whole life and been so unaware!  It is the cutest, quaintest grocery you can even imagine.  Mapleview Farms butter (and ice cream), homemade jam, 9th street bakery bread, local produce, a real butcher in back, hand drawn signs in the window.  Oh. my. word.   My new favorite!

Rubbing shoulders with strangers.  Strangers becoming acquaintances......maybe even new friends.  New friendships bring even more discoveries.  Randy found a new favorite drink from one of Lydia's new friends.  Mixing things up a bit, eyes open wide....

Slowing down.  Paying attention.  Breathing deep.  Discovering hidden treasures along the way.

Absorbing life.

Pouring out from His abundance.....Ahhhh