Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Creativity is strong with this one..

Braden is constantly coming up with alternative uses for things.  This is the latest use for the monster truck with the long-since-disappeared battery:

He also likes to include all his siblings in trying out his ideas. ;)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Just so

I can say I posted something on here...  Wow, I hadn't realized how long it has been since I put anything on here!  I still have to finish up my events of the summer series and I've got a bum-load of pics and stuff to add from the last 6 mos or so.  I'm an awesome, extremely consistent blogger.  Can't you tell?  Eh, I'll get a wild hair and have verbal diarrhea for a day or so and then back date everything to make it seem like I did it in the actual time-frame and viola!

On a side note, I've really liked using the phrase verbal diarrhea lately.  It evokes such mental images and says so much in just two words. :D

I'll leave you with a tantalizing tidbit of real-life circus drama from the past week or so.  This will be told in the form of memory rewind, just to shake things up a bit.  Telling things in order of incidence is sooo last season! (Fifty points to the one who gets that movie ref.) As of this moment, I am almost, but not quite recovered from my back going out on Saturday.  I'm such an old lady!  Its sad, but with the help of therapy and sufficient amounts of cake and ice cream, I'm slowly coming to terms with this fact. I had spent part of the morning and a large chunk of the afternoon cleaning out, then vacuuming and finally shampooing out the van.  Its a tall order, yet wouldn't normally have been a big deal, but...  The day before, Sam and I had both been bedridden with yet another stomach virus which happened after both Brea and Braden had their bouts starting the previous week.  So, we're talking lack of sleep, which is always so fun followed by each of our sessions of my now coined phrase of "pukin' and dukin'" and the insanity of disinfecting and wreaking havoc on my washing machine, segueing into my extreme need to be out of the bed and accomplishing something I had tried to get done three weekends in a row, ending in several muscles in my lower back being pulled in a ratcheting effect out of place and me ending up back in bed from whence I came.  Aaaahhh, the circle of life!  (Now you're singing the song.  You're welcome. ;)

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Dyesses: A Series of Interesting Events part 3

We had discussed getting a 12-passenger van to have more room on trips and to be able to have more cargo room in the back for luggage and trips to the hardware store and those times I get larger furniture or appliances off of craigslist or if we just had friends who wanted to ride with us to certain places.  I liked the pluses of something larger like that, but the downsides never quite set well with me.  The gas mileage would be waaay less than our current van costing lots more in gas each month and the larger vehicle would mean parking at the grocery store or anywhere for that matter would be a constant irritation for me.  Plus, I would be the main driver and I just didn't want to have to take out the big mammer-jammer any time we had to go somewhere during the week.

Conversion Vans were our next possibility.  We liked the extra room inside because, let's face it, we've got growing kids and our boys especially will be needing more leg room in the coming years.   They are very comfortable to travel in and the bed that folds down in the back was just a fun added novelty for possible naps or lounging around.  We also wanted a tv and dvd system in whatever we got next and these vans pretty much come standard with that.  Again, the gas mileage is pretty low on those and the ones we were seeing online in our price-range were very high mileage and I really didn't have a peace about it.  

I really kept coming back to Honda Odysseys.  They hold their value well, they are good on gas mileage for a vehicle that size.  They last a long time and I really appreciate the attention to detail that Honda puts into their vehicles.  Even the most basic models have nice gadets. :)

We knew we wanted leather seats.  They are just easier to keep clean and that is necessary in this family!  I wanted a gray interior because it just hides stuff pretty well until you can get to it, but that was just a plus, not a must-have.  We wanted a dvd player already installed.  We've been using two travel dvd players and while we have been very grateful for them, we have had our share of difficulties and hiccups using them in our van.  We also wanted it to be under a certain amount total and monthly.  I called our bank and had our financing all taken care of before we actually found anything because I wanted to bypass all of the frustrations we have experienced with dealerships in the past. I was also able to include gap insurance and an extended warranty that our bank offered so that we wouldn't even have to mess with it at the dealership.

After talking about it with God and each other off and on we agreed that another Odyssey was the way to go for sure and that evening, I found an Odyssey in Austin at a the First Texas Honda dealership that has a no-haggle price policy.  That was another of my hopes.  We bought our van from Carmax and really liked that we didn't have to haggle to get a good price.  It was what it was, take it or leave it.  I really appreciate that.  So, I was really glad to find a place that was similar.  They also do a 100 point inspection with a guarantee on it, which is also like Carmax.  Another point of appreciation.  They had posted the van to their website, but there wasn't a picture.  Just a description with all the details.  It had leather seats, gray interior, dvd player and it was an 07.  I wanted to find something with all that with under a 100,000 miles, but we would have had to fly to a different state to go pick it up. Since that was totally not happening, I was okay with it having 114,000 miles on it. :)  I contacted them via a chat feature on their website, then set up an appointment the next day to look at it.

When we got there, we met one of two of the Product Specialists also know as Salesmen who would be helping us through our van buying experience.  These guys were fabulous!  We seriously had such a great experience because of them.  If you need a Honda and are in the Austin Area, I highly recommend First Texas Honda and ask for DJ or Christian or both. :)  There was a bit of a hiccup at the beginning because the van had not been completely inspected or detailed out.  They were backed up in that department so when we test drove it, it wasn't in its best condition.  We didn't really care though, because we could see that it was a good van in good shape.  The engine sounded good, it drove really well, very smooth and it was exactly as described, except the color isn't a real gray, though depending on the light it can look like that.  Not a problem, though. :)  So, we weren't able to take it home that day, which was a bummer because that meant we would have to make another trip back down there in the air conditionerless Jeep. :/  

That was what we spent our Wednesday day long date doing.  We did go out to eat at BJ's restaurant, which has excellent food and we went and took a really good look at the Domain.  HOITY-TOITY!  Whew!  We've been there several times to go to the Apple Store, but never really got to look around.  I'm convinced those people really like their stuff and really don't want me to buy it. Hahahaha!  The coolest thing we got to do was go into the Tesla shop.  That is a very neat car.  Fully electric and completely fantastic.  We enjoyed speaking with the representative in there.   They sell t-shirts and I may just have to sport one in the near future. :)

We were hoping that they would have the van ready the next day because our original plans were to go back to East Texas on Friday.  It wasn't ready until Friday, so our plans got scooched back a day.  Not ideal.  But, when we went back to pick it up, we were introduced to the free snack bar including free frappuccinos and baked goods while they last and they had a kids play room as well as a stage with instruments where several of the staff have made up a band and play often.  Not your average dealership, I must say.  The paperwork process took a bit, but because I had made all the previous arrangements it went much more quickly than it would have normally.  We did end up staying there for 3 hours, but it was really because we ended up talking, laughing and joking around with DJ and Christian and the time just kinda flew by.  Fun times...

We finally left and drove both our vehicles back home and I really enjoyed driving the van in lovely a/c. :)

Still more...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Dyesses: A Series of Interesting Events part 2

The next occurrence was the next week full of VBS.  I don't like being so very regimented and on a tight schedule for too many days in a row.  It just flat out wears me out!  The three olders were able to attend so it was fun to have Brea and I spending time together.  We totally worked the free summer lunch program for that week because it was just easier to get us all up, dressed, loaded in the van and over to a place close to the VBS place serving the breakfasts and then hit the same place again for the lunches.  There are some amazing ladies at the place we went and they are such a blessing!

VBS was Monday through Friday and I had Saturday to pack for the kids to go and stay with grandparents in East Texas.  I only packed myself an overnight bag because the plan was for me to take the kids to my mom's house, stay the night and then I was to come back home while they stayed there.  Mom was to take them to meet up with Sam's parents and trade midweek and then I (possibly Sam, too) would return Friday evening, stay the night there and then come back with the kids Saturday.  Sam and I were supposed to have 4 glorious days of no kids just hanging out together.  Sam even took Wednesday off so that we could go on a full day-long date!  Woohoo!  So exciting!  

Yeah, well, that is not what happened.  On my way back from Mom's, I stopped right outside of Tyler and picked up a set of lockers advertised on craigslist.  $50 for a set of six!  Oh, yeah!  So, had those loaded up in the back of the van and got on the other side of Tyler right past Chandler and the a/c started blowing hot air.  I was thinking that the freon needed to be charged and that I was going to have to finish out the drive with no a/c, when I noticed that the engine was actually overheating.  Nice.  I turned the a/c off and slowed waaaay down in the hopes that it would calm things down.  Nope.  Oh, by the way, this was the week when the temps were over 100.  The week before had been pretty cool and the week after it rained nearly every day. :/  I was really concerned about irreparably damaging the engine, so I pulled over and turned everything off.  Of course, I had didn't know how far past Chandler I had come and how far the next town would be.  I called Sam who was just getting off of work and apprised him of the situation.  My phone didn't have much charge left, either.  I had the ipad, but no hotspot, so no help there.  Sam got home and was able to tell me where I was because of a county road sign I could see.  I was closer to the next town, Brownsboro, but was still about 2 miles out.  I was about 3 hrs from home at this point.  Yay.  

I decided to walk into town rather than swelter in the van.  Oh and to make matters just that much more interesting, right before the engine overheated, I determined I needed to find some place to stop due to digestive issues.  See?  Not one moment was boring. ;)  I gathered up my necessities, busted out my bright orange umbrella, locked up the van and aimed myself down the road.  I was pretty sure, that my feet and legs would be pretty red and crispy by the time I reached the town since I had no sunscreen, was wearing shorts and flipflops and the umbrella can only cover so much.  I got about 10 yards from my van, when a truck from the sheriff's department pulled a U-y and came up behind me.  The man asked if that was my van, I confirmed and he offered me a ride to the gas station in town.  I was beyond thrilled!  This was a Daddy kiss moment where I was still in a difficult and far from ideal situation, but He said, "Here, let me help you with this."  He didn't make it go away because I was learning to keep my peace and joy in tact and just be okay where I was.  It was a good lesson and not really a struggle because I chose not to get mad and upset about the inconvenience.

The gas station he dropped me at has a subway and bank in it as well, so after explaining my situation to the ladies behind the registers to make sure it was okay that I would be hanging out for three hours and getting plenty of sympathy, I was told I could sit in the subway seating area for as long as I needed.  The Subway employees were immediately offering me water and could they do anything for me.  So nice.  Yet another Daddy kiss, just letting me know He was right there with me.  I was gonna just play some games on the ipad to pass the time, but discovered the bank had wifi, so I was able to connect and get on the internet and start looking for a substitute vehicle.  Our van has been such a blessing to us.  It is old,  a 2000, and it has had its share of wear and tear.  The inside looks worn out as well, but we've had it for over 5 years and its gotten us where we've needed to go and been super dependable.  However, we knew our time with it would be ending sometime in the near future and had started discussing getting a newer van a little over a year ago. 

All in all, I really had a pleasant wait passing the time until Sam came to pick me up.

When he arrived, I hopped into his Jeep, which has no a/c, and we went to go assess the situation with the van.  We decided to see if we could drive it back towards Tyler.  Our hope was to be able to get it to a dealership in Tyler that would just buy it off of us.  We made it a couple of miles down the road and then it overheated again.  So, we hooked it up to the Jeep and decided to tow it in.  Apparently, when you put an Odyssey into neutral with the engine off, the brakes don't quite work right.  We made it into Chandler and I knew there was no way we were gonna make it back to Tyler towing it ourselves. And don't forget, the lockers are still in the back. :) We found a place to park it for the night and decided to head back to Sam's parent's house, about two hours away.  This was all on Monday.  Sam had to take off Tuesday from work to help deal with all of this.  By the time we got to Sam's parent's house, it was too late to do anything about the van, so we had a circle discussion about options and decided we would rent a tow dollies the next day and tow it back to their house with his dad's truck and then just called it a night.  

The next morning, we went to the rental place and got the worst customer service ever!  I called the head office to see if there were any other places that had a tow dollies available and was informed that we could not tow our van on one because it was too heavy for it.  An auto transport was suggested as an alternative.  Well, that might work, but the truck wasn't heavy duty enough to pull it. Okay.  Thankfully, Sam's parents had borrowed a family member's truck to haul a tractor from Oklahoma and they still had it.  It was definitely heavy duty enough.  This was another Daddy kissy.  Another one was that we didn't have the kids with us during any of it.  I am so glad I wasn't stranded with 4 kids in that heat!  We were able to find a transport at a smaller business place that we had actually done business with before and it was a very good experience.  Sam's parents pulled the transport while we drove in the Jeep and we all went to go load up the van.  We stopped at Sonic and ate and I had my first of several slushies that day.  

We loaded the van and we headed home and Sam's parents took it back to their house.  On our way home, we stopped at sonic several more times to get slushies because we felt like we were being sucked dry by the heat and the wind.  Oh, and we decided to go ahead and haul the lockers home in the Jeep because we couldn't see a feasible way of getting them home otherwise.  Even though we were hot, sweaty, windblown and stinkin' tired, we had a pretty nice ride home.  Our air conditioner at home welcomed us with its wonderfully cool loveliness.  We wallowed in it.  That and a shower. ;)

And more to come....

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Dyesses: A Series of Interesting Events part 1

 Oh man, so much has happened in a short amount of time! First up on the calendar of special occurrences was the washer that had been given to us by our cousins decided it didn't want to stop filling up anymore.  It had already had a couple of other things go wrong and was pretty old. We knew it was just a matter of time before we would have to replace it, but we were fine using it up to the very last bit of its ability! :)  We had already decided that since we have a ridiculous amount of laundry to be done all.the.time, that when the time came to get a different one, we would invest in a front loader again.  I used to have one before our rv saga and I absolutely LOVED it.  Getting a brand new one was just not necessary as far as I was concerned because there is always a bounty of used goodness on craigslist. ;)

So, away my fingers flew on the keyboard and track pad searching through the previously owned offerings.  I was looking at either an LG set or a whirlpool duet set.  I wanted to go ahead and get a matching set since our dryer is the same age as the washer and the sets I was looking at were actually less expensive than some of the single washer ads.  I looked up the reviews on both sets to see if there was anything I should be concerned about with either of the models.  It was interesting to find such a huge amount of dissatisfied consumers of the LG model.  Granted lots of them were about the odor issue many have with front loaders and since I know how to fix that issue and avoid it in future, that wasn't as big of a deal, but there were plenty having to do with the actual mechanical and electronic parts not functioning properly.  I didn't really want to have to do a lot of youtubing how to videos on fixing it and ordering parts and all that, so I was relieved to find that the whirlpool reviews were mostly about the smell and not very many about the machine not functioning properly.

The lady that was selling the whirlpool set was moving and I went to check them out to see if they would work and to make sure there wasn't anything wrong with them.  She was going to need them a couple more days to get all her laundry done, so it was kind of an interesting situation.  We paid a small fraction of what a new set would have cost, actually got them loaded in the van and with much strain on both mine and Sam's part, got them set up in the laundry area.  They can be stacked, so we did that and it freed up quite a bit of space for a new laundry system that will be put into place soon.  Something very similar to this:


I will have the six baskets, but it will be all one unit.  I am going to add casters to the bottom and a counter to the top for folding purposes.  I already have the baskets, I just need to have a good chunk of time to cut up some plywood and 1 by whatevers and assemble it all.  I'm hoping this will be a better system than the dirty-clothes-baskets-in-the-closet a.k.a clothes-all-over-the-floor one we've got going on now.

I was loving washing the first couple of loads when I noticed water coming out from under it.  Not a lot, but there was definitely a leak somewhere.  Ugh.  So, I let Sam know about it and started looking up possibilities for the problem.  He said he noticed a small tear in the drum seal and thought that might be it.  I took a look at it and found it, but couldn't tell for sure.  I found a suggestion that it might be the water pump or it could be that the drain filter was clogged.  That one was an easy fix, so I took the front panel off and undid the filter basket.  There was a big wad of lint in it and some coins.  I was hoping this was the problem.   I didn't think the pump was because it wasn't make any non-normal noises.  I cleaned it all out and put it back in and did another load.  I thought it was good until I saw the water coming out again.  Bummer.  At least the panel was still off, so I could see where the leak was.  Sam was right, it was coming from the seal area.  I knew ordering the drum seal would take a while and to be honest, I didn't want to have to pay $70 bucks for one right after we just bought the washer!  So, I had it in my head that there had to be a way to temporarily patch it. ;)  I was thinking possibly one of those pool float patches or something similar.  I actually came across a suggestion of duct tape and thought why not?!  The stuff we have in the garage is the very thin cheapo stuff, but it would just have to do.  I put a little piece on the tear and did another load.  It worked!  Sam was pretty sure it wouldn't hold very well for very long and suggested a stronger tape like Gorilla Tape.  He was right on.  After a couple of loads the leak was back so, I picked some Gorilla Tape up while I was at Lowe's and put a piece over the tear when I got home.  That's been a little over a month ago and its still holding strong.  I'll eventually replace the seal (I've already watched several how-to videos and even found one where I don't have to take all the panels off of the top and front of the machine!), but for now we are good. :)

To Be Continued...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Brea is using the potty!

Brea has been having what I call growth and/or teething poo.  It has made her bottom super irritated and we've had to do just cloth diapers for a couple of days trying to get it under control.  It was only helping slightly, so today, I decided to let her run around bare bummin' it.  After a bit, I decided to what she would do about sitting on the potty.  She was more than willing and went there immediately.  The first two times there was plenty of grunting, but no substance.  Made me ponder her experience seeing the rest of us use the potty.....haha!  The third time, Success!  She had gone several times and most of them I just ask her and she heads in there and gets on by herself and she's done by the time I even get in there.  I'm pretty excited! :)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

It would have been about this time...

My due date, Moses' birthday would have been right about this time...I'm really missing him right now.  He's not here with us to be a part of our daily routine or special fun things we go do as a family.  My heart is just so full of feeling every bit of his absence.  I have several friends who are having babies in this time frame.  Of course I don't begrudge them their happiness at welcoming their new little ones into their families, but it makes me very sad that I am not able to share in that type of joy now.  I hope that one day, seeing a mother and her newborn won't cause my heart to grieve quite so heavily and I'll be able to freely rejoice with those bringing new life into this world.  It also hasn't helped that I've been so busy lately that I haven't had a lot of time to myself and haven't really been able to grieve very much.  Mostly late at night when I'm already exhausted.  At least its something...every little bit counts and helps.  Even though it has been 5 months, its still as raw and present as ever.  Again, I don't think it will ever lessen, so much as I will learn how to do life including it better.  Well, at least at times.

Lately, I've been asked quite a lot by random people how many children I have.  I have been at a loss as to how I should respond.  On the one hand, I don't ever want it to seem like Moses didn't exist or that he doesn't count in an incredibly huge way in our family and specifically my heart, but on the other....well, I don't always feel like explaining myself or getting into details that still hurt so very much.  Sam came up with a good way of saying it, I think.  We have one child at home and four here with us. :)  I may get more than I bargain for in response to that, but I'm going to see how it fits.  It may be more than I can really deal with at this point, but then again it may be exactly what I need to say.

So, Happy might have been Birthday to my sweet little Moses.  I love you and miss you.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

More from Zekey...

Ailey and Zekey were sitting at the dining table having a discussion while Ailey was coloring a picture.  She was coloring something and saying how she was going to be as tall as her cousin Boaz.  Zekey, then corrected her perspective by letting her in on some of his wisdom.  He told her, "No, Ailey, you have to play basketball and then everyone will think you are bigger even though you really aren't."  He has pondered for some time now that playing basketball must be the key to making one tall since most of the players are very tall.  Makes sense to me!  That totally must be what happens. ;)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Very Thoughtful and Sweet Gift

My Aunt Kathy sent us a beautiful gift in the mail the other day.  She said she kept coming back to it and knew it was meant for us. :)  I really love it and am glad she sent it.  Thank you, Aunt Kathy!!

Just the Same Glass Plaque

Its a glass plaque and it looks just like the pic above and says:

Just the Same
I never got to hold you & bounce you on
my lap, I never got to read to you
or watch you as you nap.  You slipped
away so quickly, before I said your name.
And yet I want the world to
know I loved you just the same.
Anne Peterson

Happy Birthday, Zekers!!!

Zekes turns 6!!!!  It is so exciting to be a part of Zekey's journey through life.  He's such a laid back, easy-going, tender-hearted, sweet, caring fellow.  This year he wanted a transformers birthday and after looking at several examples of cakes, he saw one he liked and I told him what I could actually do. ;)  Since his birthday fell on a Saturday this year, Sam was there the whole day and he made Zekey's birthday breakfast.  Sausage patties hold up candles pretty well. :)

I have decided I like the homemade marshmallow fondant much better than the store bought stuff.  I like using it for embellishments much better than trying to cover anything large, though. :)

 Zekey really loves when he is the center of attention.  LOVES.

These are not the best pics, but I was laughing just a tad at his success in keeping his sister from blowing out his candles.  She actually blew them out the first go round, so we relit them and gave it another go.  Hahahaha!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Visit, Strep and Some Surprises

My mom came in for a quick visit over the weekend.  Braden had remarked about having a headache and then later a sore throat.  I was thinking it might just be drainage because we were all dealing with that a bit.  Mom came in on Friday evening and by then Braden was talking funny because his throat hurt and he was asking for more vitamin C and salt to make it feel better.  He didn't have a fever, but I had a feeling it was strep.  This is the fourth time he has had it in the last year and a half.  He still occasionally sucks his thumb and I think this time it set in for him that it is how he keeps getting it. :/  So, I ended up taking him to the urgent care clinic (hooray for those!) Saturday morning and I had let him know that if it was strep, that we would be going with the shot and not the 10 days of  liquid antibiotic. Well, it was strep.  The shot was a thing of drama and there was excessive limping afterward, but he really did do a good job.  That particular one does hurt.  Poor kiddo, he got the same susceptibility to getting strep repeatedly as I did when I was younger.  I got it every year without fail and usually more often.  If someone had it within a 10-mile radius, I would get it. :/  Hopefully, the thumb sucking will not be so appealing now and he won't get it at all anymore!  This is the second time it has coincided with a visit from my least it didn't take long to take care of it and she's not susceptible to it!

While Mom was here we had a great visit.  We just hung out and chatted and enjoyed each other's company.  Most of the time, she offers to keep the kids so that Sam and I can go on a date, but I didn't even consider that she would this time because the visit was so short.  BUT, she did offer and we got to go see the new Star Trek movie in the theater on Saturday....  The last movie we saw in the theater was Captain America.  Yeah, it had been a while.  :)  Anyway, we really enjoyed ourselves!  We went through the drive thru and picked up some starbucks first and then went.  Another little aside:  Sam gently kicked me out of the house the on Friday morning so I could just get out for a while and get some stuff done and I got some starbucks then, too and then Sunday, a couple of friends and I had a little impromptu girls evening out and we ended up at starbucks again.  Haha!  That's the most "coffee" aka frappachino yumminess I've had ever!  By the way, the mochachino cookie crumble or crunch or whatever its called is seriously addictive.  Just remember I warned you!

Anyway, all in all, best Memorial Day weekend EVER!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Braden is 9!

Happy birthday to our smart, kind, clever, inventive, fun, funny, silly, brave, energetic, thoughtful, wonderful boy-o!  We are pretty sure that life somehow got fast-forwarded while we weren't looking and you just jumped to being 9. :)  We love you so much and are so blessed that God gave you to us so we can walk beside you in this life.  What anadventure we have had so far and what an adventure is still to come!  We release showers of blessing and wisdom and love over you in abundance!  Oh, happy day!

Braden wanted a NASA birthday.  Again, no invite-everyone-and-go-way-over-the-top party for this year.  That's next year's craziness. ;)  I did decorate and do it up boy-style.  We don't want anything too girly in this house for boy birthdays.  Just ask the boys if you don't believe me. :)  Braden helped me hang some stuff and he was very specific in the planning part of it all.  I really like it when the kids are that involved with their party planning.  I'm looking forward to when they get even more involved.  Let's just say that there should be no excuse for any of them not being able to pull off surprise parties and all the fullness thereof when they are older! ;)

Don't you love it when you can use a 40% AND 50% off coupon at michael's at the same time?!  Me, too!  I got a few things there including these cake wires:

In my perusal of the cake decorating aisle, I came across and find that I am in want of this baby in the not-so-far-off future:

I also got a few things at Hobby Lobby (totally busted out the 40% off coupon there, too. :)  I'm loving the paper lanterns and pinwheel thingymabobs lately.  I printed off the space shuttles and the garland and viola! just enough deco for a 9-year-old boy. :)

 First, we had his birthday breakfast.  He chose to have pancakes with only peanut butter chips in his.

 We all really liked how the cake turned out looking....the actual cake part, though, was NOT impressive.  This was actually the second failed attempt.  I was trying to make the raspberry lemon cake from Taste of Home, but it doesn't do well in anything other than several shallow round or square pans.  Eh, it would work in sheet cake form, too.  I tried to cook it in my pampered chef batter bowl first so that I could have the dome shape, but it never got done in the middle and the outside got burned.  So, when I was at Michael's, even though I had decided not to get a special pan, I went ahead and got the ball pan and tried it again in that.  It still didn't get done in the middle!  Ugh!  More like a gelatin than cake which makes for a very unpleasant experience.  Bummer.  The planets were pretty good though.  I just made them from rice crispy treats and marshmallow fondant and then used gel food coloring mixed with almond extract to paint them.  A special thanks to Kristen H. for helping me cover the planets in the fondant!  It would have taken me fo'evah otherwise.  I picked up some better Duff paint brushes while I was at it. (I'm starting to see a trend here... ;)  Next time, I'll just turn a plain yellow cake into lemon yumminess or maybe a lemon pound cake...mmmmmm.  Braden is a lemon fanatic, too. :)

The silliness is strong with this one!

Everyone was excited about getting their own planet to eat. :)

Braden said the best part was when I took him by himself to the store and said that he could choose what he wanted up to $10.  (He also got an Academy gift card later.)  Let me tell you, this kid bargain shopped!  He found that green dart gun in the pics on the clearance shelf for $4.48, got a few extra bullets for it on the clearance shelf for $1.98 and then went and got three hot wheels cars for $.97 a piece.  He was excited about his haul AND about not spending the whole $10!  These are exciting times, folks!  It will be a beautiful day when I get him all in to couponing. ;)  (He does already have a grasp on the Hobby Lobby has begun:)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Poor LerLoo!

Ailey's growth spurts are somewhat painful for her at times.  She actually has growing pains in her legs.  They are the kind that wake her out of a dead sleep and require motrin to calm the pain down enough to get her back to sleep. :/  She has had them pretty consistently.  When she first had them at around a year and a bit, I honestly didn't know what was going on.  She would just lay there and hold her legs and cry.

Last night was another growing pain episode and at a little before 3 am in a very groggy state I managed to get up, bust out the ever trusty boo-boo pack and motrin and get us back to sleep, Ailey preferring the hallway and me preferring my bed. :)

Friday, May 17, 2013


Can someone please tell me what is up with this pose?  Seriously, don't understand why its so popular...just sayin'.  I think its the combo of the hand in the hair and looking down and to one side....who does that?!

Tiny rant-tantrum end. :)

Another Bradenism to tempt the corners of the mouth...

So, Braden was sitting in the computer chair and the rest of the kids were orbiting him like smaller satellites.  They were tickling and giggling and being their normal silly selves when all of a sudden Sam and I hear Braden telling his audience, "Don't touch there!  Its my no-no rectangle!" Well, after that how are you supposed to maintain composure?!  Sam and I could.not.stop.laughing...could not stop!  I'm just glad that I wasn't drinking anything because either I would have choked or everyone in the splash zone would have gotten a shower. :)  Of course, the kids got a hold of it and decided to milk it for all its worth and tried to come up with as many names as possible: private square (staying with the shapes theme), private spot, no-no spot, no-no rectangle and no-no square were ones I caught before I could stand the silliness no longer.  Yet another peek into the inner thought process that is Braden's mind. :)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Daddy and Ler Love

Friday, April 26, 2013

According to Zekey

Apparently a 4 year old and a 5 year old can make a 9 year old, but a 3 year old and a 5 year old just makes an 8 year old. :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wondering and sadness

Yesterday was Brea's 2nd birthday and it was a neat time just celebrating her.  This past few days has been hard, though.  I've been in a really bad habit of going to bed super late and getting up super late and throwing off our routine and just being out of sorts.  I've been really sad a lot, too, mostly at night.  I think that is why I've been going to sleep so late, sort of trying to keep myself occupied enough to not have to get overtaken by grief. It definitely caught up with me today, though.  I've been crying off and on all day and just so, so sad.  I was trying my best to get to bed at a decent hour so that I wouldn't be so grumpy  tomorrow, but I can't stop thinking about my little boy.  I keep thinking what does he look like?  Does he have red hair like Brea and Braden or does he have dark brown hair like Zekes and Ailey?  Or is he an anomaly with blond hair?  Does he have freckles?  Is he fair-skinned or darker?  What does his voice sound like?  Is he funny or serious?  I wonder if he is full grown in heaven or is he a child?  I ache to hold him and spend time with him and just be in his company.  It makes me so sad that he isn't here to laugh and play around with his brothers and sisters, get irritated that they have a toy he wants to play with and just do life with us all.  I miss him so much.  So much.  I miss all the things I won't get to do with him.  He won't have birthday parties or turn 2.  He won't have first words or learn to crawl and then walk.  He won't learn his abc's and then learn to read and write.  He won't draw me pictures to hang on the fridge.  I grieve for the loss of all of that.

I had a friend share that as for the losses that she has experienced, it has actually gotten harder as time has passed because there are experiences you want to share with that person and you just can't and its heart wrenching.  My new reality is that my kids' birthdays will be both happy and sad occasions for me because Moses won't ever be that age and his smiling face won't be in the pictures with his brothers and sisters.  Its a painful and challenging perspective to have.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Crazy Hair Day

The pics are pretty self explanatory. ;)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Happy Birthday, Brea!

Our little ooo-baby turned 2!  Seriously, time is just ticking right along!

Brea's birthday was a fun affair.  We mostly just chilled and kept saying happy birthday to her.  It wasn't as big of a to-do as Ailey's mostly because, well, she's 2.  She likes baby dolls and pretty much anything her siblings are playing with that she can't have at the moment. ;)  The next 2 years will involve her interests more and she'll be involved in the planning.  I'm really looking forward to that!  I still decorated just for her and she got cupcakes.  I've seen that she's more into cookies than cake, so we may be going with a cookie cake next year. ;)

The paper lantern balls in the pics are from Michael's and I got a great price for them!  I love it when I can use one of their 40% off 1 item coupled with 25% of entire purchase coupons!  Woohoo!  Hopefully, they will last for many years to come...especially if I can keep the girls from playing with them like they are actual bouncy balls!  Oy.

Okay, brea got a chocolate chip pancake breakfast.  She was funny because she didn't really know what was going on, though she did a good job waiting to blow out her candles on the pancakes and cupcakes later on while we sang happy birthday to her.

Ailey had help blowing out her candles on her cake, so she decided that Brea needed her help blowing out her candles on the cupcakes.  I think Brea will like blowing out her own candles next year. ;)

When it came time to open her presents, I started her out, but she soon got the hang of it herself and was excited about her hello kitty doll and her vtech phone.  She is a phone fanatic!  She wouldn't stop swiping mine and Sam's phones, so we figured she needed her own. :)  The funny thing was that the other kiddos wanted to play with her phone so much!  We have a standing rule that presents don't have to be shared on the day they are received so that the person gets to actually play with their gifts.  The gifts usually end up getting shared all around after about 30 minutes, anyway.

All in all, we had a good day celebrating Brea. :)

Precious Brea-oo,

You are such a delight!  We are excited to see what God has built into you as you grow and blossom.  We are so proud of our beautiful, lovely, wonderful baby girl!  We love you sooooo much!  Happy Birthday!


Mommy and Daddy

Friday, April 5, 2013

According to Braden

Apparently, as far as boys are concerned, the term "playdate" is applicable only to girls.  According to Braden boys would prefer to use "hanging out" instead. :)  He's totally at that age....

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Happy Birthday, Lerloo!

Today our Ailey turned 4!  She's really 4...WOW!  Four whole years...some days she seems ageless and other days I think that surely she can't be as old as she is.

I've started a habit that might turn into tradition of every other year going all out and inviting kiddos and doing the huge birthday party thing.  We did that last year, but I didn't want to be all ho-hum about it on the off years either.  I want the kids to feel very special and focused-upon on their birthdays.  I make a special birthday breakfast for each of them (they get to choose what they want to have) and i put candles in it and they get to blow them out.  This year I'm adding in decorations.  I was thinking about how when we have parties, I usually go all out with the decorations because people are coming over and all that jazz.  There is always an element of impressing there when decorating, but mostly I want to make the atmosphere really fun to be in.  It dawned on me that I should do that for the kids whether we have people coming over or not, just because I think they are special and I want them to feel it the whole day on their birthday.

Ailey is now at that age that she really gets the birthday thing and she was able to be pretty involved in the planning.  She is REALLY into Hello Kitty right now, so I asked if she would like a Hello Kitty birthday and the answer was a resounding YES!  I put time and effort into making the decorations so that I could reuse them again for Brea's birthday and for many to come in the future.  Ailey is pretty interesting.  She definitely has her own sense of style.  She likes pink and purple and shiny and all that, but she's rather specific with it all.  She like a little edginess to it.  So, I thought zebra and polkadots with black and pink would work just fine for her. :)

After it was all said and done, she really loved all of it, especially the marked attention from us!

Dear sweet Lerloo,

We love you so, so much.  You are a bright spot in our lives and your flame gets brighter with each passing day!  You are a joy, a challenge and a ton of fun all rolled into a small, energetic package.  God knew we needed you and we are so grateful to be molded into the parents that you need to grow and become everything you possibly will.  You are lovely, beautiful, smart, fun, talented, amazing, wonderful, incredible and fantastic!  We are so proud of you!


Mommy and Daddy

Friday, March 1, 2013

A piece of our hearts

I didn't show the heart to the kids until this morning.  They all got to hold it and look at it and know that Moses' ashes are inside of it.  I got a picture of all of them with it.  Ailey didn't want to let go of it.  I think she's rather taken with the heart part of it.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sadness and relief

I went to the funeral home today and picked up Moses' ashes.  The heart capsule is bigger than I expected and heavy for its size.  I was also given the cremation tag.  It may sound strange to want to keep something like that, but its just one more thing having to do with him that I can have as a keepsake.

I was glad to be able to have his remains in our care, but I nearly didn't want to go because it meant that it had really happened and that there was a finality to it all.  I think when we bury his ashes at some point in the future, I will encounter this emotional dilemma again.

When I got back out to the car with the box in my hands, I just broke down.  It still hurts so much.

I haven't said what funeral home we used because I was waiting for the entire process to be completed.  I want to say that we had the best experience possible under the circumstances, I believe, with Heritage Funeral Home in Harker Heights.  Both the funeral director and office manager were open and honest and very caring and not emotionally detached, yet still professional.  That's a pretty amazing mix in my opinion.  Even if they had not been the least costly place to use, I would have gone with them because of their manner in relating with me and my family through all of this.  I hope to never have to meet with them to use their services, but I am grateful they were available for when we did need them.  I'm also grateful they are both women.  I don't think I could do what they do, but being able to relate to women in this situation made all the difference for me for sure.

When I got home, I gave the box to Sam.  He was able to grieve a little more as well.  I'm grateful we are in this season of our lives in the grieving process and not in an earlier one.  I don't think we would have handled it anything like we are now.

There have been a few days where I think I must be getting used to all of this somehow.  That I am starting to incorporate the fact and reality of it all in who I am now and my life in general.  I think that is happening to a degree, but the tears are always right under the surface.  I'm only one reminder or thought away from sobbing or tears coming in streams.  The loss and ache isn't gone, though I think I'm handling it differently now.  I find myself not wanting to cry, to be done with that part of it, but at the same time not.  I don't want to leave this time behind me.  I don't know that that is really ever  possible.  It is again an encounter with a sense of finality and I'm just not ready for that yet.  I want to be able to come to a place where my emotional awareness and response to it all is not separate from everything else.  Right now its a bit compartmentalized.  I don't want to be around anyone because I still want my grief to be private.  I don't want to have to make an emotional expenditure to explain why I'm sad or to encounter and respond to someone else's pity or sorrow for me and my loss.  It makes me weary and exhausts me to make those connections with others right now.

Don't get me wrong, I'm so very grateful there are so many hearts that care for mine and what I've lost, but at the same time, I nearly don't want to share it.  Its mine and I want to take the time to keep it for me for a while.  I don't know if that makes sense to anyone other than me.

Its a strange thing to want to have public outings or events proceed in a normal manner as far as everyone else involved is concerned and yet not have any sort of expectation on myself from me or anyone else to respond in my usual way.  I don't know if my usual way will ever quite be the same again anyway.  That will get worked out in time, I'm sure.

I'm finding it difficult to be in corporate worship just yet.  My mourning hasn't been turned to dancing or my tears to joy just yet.  I believe they will be in a way at some point.  I feel cut off from my heart joining with every one else's for now.  I don't think that's a bad or wrong thing for this part of this season, just a fact of where I am in my process.  I'm good with that.  I still need time for some things to be able to "be" in me in a peaceful and content way.  I think that's what I'm looking for.  A change from my current state to being content with all that has happened.  I don't know what that looks or feels like for me, yet.

Braden and Lerloo Pics

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pics before church

I don't know if taking pics of all 4 of them without one being blurry is a possibility anymore!  Especially involving the silly kid on the left. ;)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Making funeral arrangements

Today was a very hard day.  We had to go to the funeral home to make all the arrangements.  I cried off and on all day.  I didn't want to have to say goodbye again.  I know our sweet baby is with our God and that his little body is just a shell, but it doesn't lessen the hurt at all.  I had laid the little baby blanket I made for Moses next to Sam's stuff on the entry table and when he saw it there this morning, he had a hard time.  For the rest of the day he had a hard time.

When Sam got home from work, we got everyone ready and we all went to the funeral home as a family.  In a way, I was looking forward to seeing Moses' body again.  I hoped I would get a better look at him this time.  When we got there, we had to fill out all the paper work.  They were able to get some foot and hand prints and they are so, so tiny.

The very top one is his left foot, then the next two are hand prints and then another hand, foot and then tiny.

She advised us against viewing his body because in her opinion his body had not held up well due to the preserving fluid they had placed him in at the hospital, but I needed to see him anyway.  She left us for a bit to prepare his body.  She had given us a few brochures to look over in case we wanted a different urn.  There was also a brochure for a company that puts baby's hand or footprints onto a charm for a necklace.  It is, of course, way expensive.  They only offer silver or gold options.  I might call them and let them know that a less expensive option like pewter would be nice for those of us who would just like a memento.  I appreciate the purpose of all of these options, but the cost of it all is like kicking you when you are down.  Its such a grizzly part of this process.  

At first, my intention was just to go with the little plastic urn that comes with the cost of the cremation since our plan is to plant his ashes with a tree in the near future, but there was a different option that appealed to both Sam and I.  They had heart-shaped capsules. We chose the plain silver one that can be engraved at a later date.  After we put his ashes in the ground, we will keep the little heart.

After all that, she brought his little body in wrapped in the blanket I made and nestled in a small box with a few things that the hospital had sent along and the sign that Braden had made.  I had been told that they were going to give us a little box, but I didn't really know what it was for.  Now, I understand.  They had put a little blanket and a small plush puppy in it.  It was really a very sweet gesture.  Braden and I had been talking a bit earlier in the morning about going to the funeral home and why I made the blanket.  He decided to make a sign out of cardboard with Moses' name on it to go with the blanket.  He was holding back tears as we talked and as he made his sign.  It was very touching to see his heart.

As I looked at him, I was able to see all of his little features this time.  I got to touch his little hands and feet and see his face for the first time.  At the hospital, his head and upper body had been covered by blood and placenta and I could really only see his legs.  He was beautiful.  He looked like a little doll.  His eyes and mouth weren't all the way formed yet, but they were still very distinguishable.  His little nose was formed enough for me to see it looked a lot like Braden's.  I was able to finally hold my baby.  In the sadness, that was another bright spot.  I was also able to take a few pictures of him.  Some might think that gross or somehow morbid, but I think he looks beautiful and I'm very grateful to be able to have a picture of ALL of my kids.  I don't know if I will post his picture on here or not.  Though I am sharing all of this, I am wanting to protect our family and I don't want some thoughtless comment to be given in ignorance about how his little body looks or why I took a pic of his dead body.  I'm just not willing or able to put up with that sort of insensitivity.  I also want to keep him to myself for the time being.

At first, the kids were kept out and she took his body away, but they had asked if they were going to get to see his body and I didn't want them always wondering or wishing that they had gotten to see him when they had the chance.  So, I had her bring his body back in and all the kiddos got to see him.  No one got upset or grossed out or scared in any way.  They were curious and very interested that this was the body of their baby brother.  I think it will be some years before any of them really get the depth of it all, but I'm glad they got to see him in this way.  I wish that I had had the presence of mind to take a picture with all of them.  I would have liked to have them all in at least one picture.

I left with a heavy heart.  I hate the thought of his little body being burned to ashes, but I hate the thought of it just decaying in some grave somewhere, too.  I know we made the right choice in going about it this way.

When we got home, I felt a sense of relief even though it was a very hard thing to have to do.  I'm relieved his body is no longer at the hospital and that it is being treated honorably and all those arrangements are taken care of, but it is very wrong to have to make these arrangements for our child.  Just wrong.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Today was the day our baby's body was available to be released from the hospital lab.  I had an emotional day Sunday because I thought the release date was actually yesterday.  Initially, after I went through the miscarriage, I was pretty upset that Moses' body had to be kept at the hospital lab for 14 days and we had to wait to put his little body to rest.  Now, after that amount of time, I nearly don't want to have him go to get cremated because I feel like I am losing him all over again.  I keep having these momentary feelings of sheer panic like somehow I can run far enough away to where this isn't really happening.

Today, after talking to the funeral home, I found out that they are concerned that there won't be enough ashes because his little body is so small.  It was suggested that I bring a blanket with me when I come in tomorrow to finalize the arrangements.  So, I spent all day today finishing crocheting a blanket to be wrapped around my dead baby's body to make enough ashes to put into an urn.  Its not fair.  Everything inside me screams THIS IS NOT RIGHT and I just feel messed up.

During that call, I asked whether it would be possible to get his footprints and possibly take a picture.  They said the footprints shouldn't be a problem, though he might be too young to have actual lines and ridges.  The picture, however, is a wait and see.  She didn't want to promise that if his body hasn't stayed well preserved.  I will know more tomorrow.

I'm not alright.  I'm okay with being not alright.  I'm broken and hurt and in process right now.  I'm okay with that, too.  I cry often, but I am able to laugh, too.  I ache with wanting what I can't have right now.  I want to have my baby here with me alive and well and growing in my body and all of us looking forward to his birthday when we can meet him and hold him and be part of his life and growing process, but that's not going to happen.  I'm not okay with that, yet.  I may be someday, but not today.  I feel like ages have passed since all of this started and yet its only been a little over two weeks.  I feel worn and emotionally and physically ragged and sucked dry of normality.

I could play the blame game.  I could be mad at God that this happened, but I can't.  I know my God.  His heart is breaking right along side mine.  This is an injustice and I serve a just God.  This isn't His heart or part of His Kingdom.  This is destruction.  That's satan's m.o.  I'm not ready for all out war, yet.  I'm still grieving heavily, but I sense in my heart that there will be a day when I will be ready to go after miscarriage with a focused passion.  It just shouldn't be allowed to exist.  Its on the same plane with cancer and anything else on death's team.  It needs to be taken out and replaced with LIFE!

So right now and for as long as it takes, I'm going to be okay with not being okay.  I am going to be okay with the sadness and the tears streaming down my face and sobbing when I get overwhelmed with missing my little boy.  I'm also going to be okay that my life has to go on even though his is not.  It is okay that there are still things that are funny to me and make me laugh.  I have an amazing husband and 4 kiddos here with me now that need me to not be destroyed by this.  I need to not be destroyed by this.  That's a good thing and that's okay, too.