Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

It's 2:30 on Christmas Day.  My entire house is napping.  We are all worn out from all of our festivities.  We have one more to go this evening and we promised the girls that we couldn't go see their cousins without a good long nap this afternoon.

The house is quiet and although I should close my eyes for a few seconds...while I can, my heart needs a few seconds to process the joy of this day.

2011 has been the hardest year in my short 32 year old life.  Last Christmas, I was newly pregnant with our 4th child, and completely unaware (thank the Lord) of the year we were walking into.  I had no clue that within the year I would have two surgeries, lots of bed rest, a month in the hospital, that Kev would have a terrible car wreck, lose his job, and we would have a BOY!!! 

If you look at our pictures that we took this morning, they look very similar to the ones we took last year...with the addition of a handsome little boy.  Same poses in front of the same tree, which is decorated in the same way as the year before.  Many things look the same, but I assure you that the family in front of the tree is not. 

This year has challenged me physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.  It brought me to yet another....and another...crisis of faith.  Did I really believe that  Jesus was enough?  Did he really care?  Is he really good?  Did he really love me?  Could he really sustain our marriage?  Is he enough for the really hard times in life?

I guess a crisis of faith really only leaves you with two Him or turn from Him.   My faith having been tested many times before spurred me on to trust.  I knew from our loss of our baby Samuel in 2006 that God was good.  He did have a plan when we didn't understand.   He would be near to me through the trials, and etc.  I knew...but would it be enough for this year?

I am so thankful to be sitting at the end of this year very changed from the girl I was last year.  I am so thankful that My God is so faithful.  I am so thankful that I KNOW once again, that he is good.  I have tasted and have seen.  I have walked on the hard path this year, yet I have seen his hand over and over.  My prayer life has been one of pleading and praise.  My heart so thankful at times and so broken at others.  Jesus is enough!! 

Merry Christmas from our home to yours.  Thank you so much for your prayers for our family this year.     

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Everyday my girls make me laugh.  I always think....I better write that one down so I don't forget it.  Well, this is me stopping and recording some memories.

1) The other morning Ella came running into our bedroom with a piece of paper in her hand.  She said, "Lize I made it for you."  Eliza took one look at it and proudly exclaimed, "Elmo."  I've never seen a cuter Elmo... made from a red stick body and a round orange nose.  Such a sweet big sis who knows just what her little sis loves.
Eliza not only loves Elmo and her pink blankie square.  She is also obsessed with the color blue!  So strange as most little girls as girlie as she, would love pink or purple.  Any clue as to what she asks to wear everyday...matched with her "parkle" sparkly red shoes of course (thanks mom)! Love it and love this girl!

Every time we leave the house she stuffs her Elmo and her blankie in my purse!

At two and four my girls are becoming great playmates!  They spend tons of time each day mess making playing.  They really are good mess makers at using their imaginations!!
This is actually pretty comparison to the norm.  We do straighten it back once a week
and it stays clean for about 10 secs.  I love to listen to their conversations while they play.  It is hilarious and usually has to do with Ella either babying Eliza or bossing Eliza.

This one of the things they like to do.  They are playing "school" here.  Each stuffed animal gets lined up and sits on a book.  They have recently started added a second small book with each animal.  Such funny girls.   One day I am sure I am gonna miss every stuffed animal being lined up in the hall!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

5 months

Adjusted age 3 1/2 months
Yesterday our sweet little Eli turned 5 months.  I am so thankful to be at the point we are at right now.   Gone is the shock.  Gone are the long days of bed rest.  Gone are those fearful and overwhelming postpartum days.  Gone are my feelings of can I do this.  At five months, we are in a good routine and we continue to grow more and more in love with our precious little boy. 


Eli's baby dedication at church

Hey I thought this was my photo shoot!

I have said each month that Eli is the best little baby and he continues to amaze us with his sweetness.  His gummy smiles and shy little glances melt his mommy's heart.  His physical therapist tells me each time what a hard worker he is.  He is currently working on rolling and sitting up.  He has rolled a few times from his tummy to his back.  She is encouraged that so far he is hitting his milestones as he should.  He really doesn't enjoy tummy time but we continue to work hard on it.  We are also working on weight bearing on his legs using a peanut shaped ball.  We are so proud of each and every little accomplishment.

weight bearing exercises to build leg strength

He continues to be a good sleeper and sleeps from 8:30ish until 6:30-7ish.  He still sleeps wearing his "boots and bars" to keep his feet in the correct position.  Looking at his little feet you would never know they were clubbed at birth.   He has recently noticed that he has feet and is bringing his legs more into his chest.  He still likes his paci but also likes to suck his fingers.  He is just easy and if he doesn't have a paci he will find his hand.  He has been our easiest baby as far as eating and sleeping goes. 

He loves is big sisters and they love him something fierce.  Recently they have started fighting over him.  One will say, "He's my baby!"  Then the other will argue back saying, "No he is my baby!"  This usually goes on until I assure them that he belongs to them both. The other night we were driving home and he was hungry and screaming.  He doesn't cry often unless mommy is a little too slow in feeding him.   I was the driver and to try to make it home without losing our sanity, I started singing Eli's little song.  (I have a little made up song for each child...not sure how these came about...nothing special...they rhyme and are to a familiar tune).  The girls joined in and he immediately calmed down.  The girls were amazed and now anytime he cries they think all we need to do is sing his song.  I just know they will be his biggest encouragers and cheerleaders!!

I hate to even write it in fear that we may jinx it, but we won't see any more specialists until January.  It is like a sweet relief to have some weeks without appointments and get to enjoy this special season.

Eli Matthew, I am so thankful for you.  I would do it all over just to see your sweet little smile.  I know God has great plans for your life and we are excited to have a front seat for the ride.  Happy 5 months sweet boy!! 


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Design

I have spent my kids entire naptime today trying to freshen up my blog!  I am loving our new family picture taken by the very sweet and talented, Carissa, from lowercase letters.  If you don't read her should.   It is one of my favorites.   She so kindly agreed to snap some pictures for us in hopes of getting one good shot for the ole' Christmas card.  I am loving them all!  Now to decide which one to use and get those cards ordered!!  That'll have to wait until tomorrow...everyone is awake!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy 60th Dad!

I have been blessed with the sweetest dad's around.  I do not take that blessing for granted.  I love my dad for many reasons.  My dad is a very generous and patient man even though he says often that patience is not his best quality.  My dad is so humble.  He is a very smart man and earned his doctorate in ministry while my two sisters and I were young.  Now that I have a husband in seminary, I realize what an accomplishment that was.  My dad has been such an anchor of faith for me throughout the years.  When life has been hard for us he has prayed for us and encouraged us that God had a plan, even when none of us understood.  My dad would do anything for his girls.  Last Tuesday when Eli had to have a sudden MRI, I called my dad to let him know.  I knew he was already praying for us that day.  Kev and I were sitting in the food court, anxiously trying to pass time until the MRI and in walked my dad.  He is just that kind of dad!  He sat with us the entire day.  While we were in the MRI waiting area he made friends with another man who was also waiting.  He shared with the man about the Lord in such a gentle and easy way as we waited.  He is not perfect, but he is pretty close in my opinion.  We love you so much and we pray that the Lord will give you many, many, many more Happy Birthdays!  And really, 60 is not that old anymore!

Ella says:  I love Papa because today is his birthday.  I love him because he is so sweet to me.  He obeys and I obeys and he is my friend.  I like to have candy with him because he gives me candy worms.  I like to play on his computer. 

Papa and all his more arrives in March!  Can you tell why holidays are so CRAZY, fun!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Update Continued

Just a quick update.  We met with the neurosurgeon today to go over Eli's MRI in more detail.  The meeting went great.  I am so thankful.  Basically he said his ventricles were a little larger than normal, but nothing to be worried about at this point.  They were also a little enlarged throughout my pregnancy so this isn't surprising.  They seem to be stable.  Eli does have some extra external axial fluid which is fluid outside of the brain, if I am understanding it correctly.  This is not dangerous and the hope is that he will grow out of it (or grow into his head) as he gets older.  His head really isn't that large right now but the doctor said that it may continue to get larger in the months to come.  I am so glad to know what is going on inside that noggin.  They will continue to monitor it and we will see neuro again in 3 months.  I am thankful to have a break from the every two week head checks. 

The other good news that we learned today is that Eli does not have Chiari II Malformation.  He did early on in my pregnancy prior to fetal surgery and we saw it start to resolve in the weeks following the surgery.  Today, his little cerebellum is completely right where it should be.  Thank YOU fetal surgery!!!!!  I must say it made for a really terrible, horrible, no good, very bad pregnancy, but when I get good news for Eli, I am so thankful we did it.  I am also so thankful for answered prayers. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Eli's long day!

Before I share an Eli update from today's Spina Bifida clinic, I want to share two quotes that have recently made a big impact on my life.

1) "God permits what he hates to achieve what he loves."  by Joni Eareckson Tada

2) "Some fears surface over and over again, especially fear of the future.  You tend to project yourself mentally into the next day, week, month, year, decade; and you visualize yourself coping badly in those times.  What you are seeing is a false image, because it doesn't include Me.  Those gloomy times that you imagine will not come to pass, since My presence will be with you at all times.

When a future-oriented worry assails you, capture it and disarm it by suffusing the Light of my Presence into that mental image.  Say to yourself, "Jesus will be with me then and there.  With His help, I can cope!"  Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

If the truth were told, I have been dreading today's date on the calendar since Eli was in the NICU.  The day he was discharged we met with the Spina Bifida Coordinator and several appointments were already scheduled for us.  Today was one of those.  For those not familiar with a "clinic" it is where you go in an exam room and all the doctors who are involved with your child's care round to you.  Its benefit is to help coordinate appointments so that you spend less time a the doctor's office.  In practicality this is great, but I find it to be somewhat overwhelming. 

Today following clinic Eli was set to have his yearly Urodynamics exam.  This is a test to check Kidney's, bladder, pressures, etc.  He will have it once a year for the next 7 years.  I have been worried about this test because he'd only had a kidney ultrasound at know and those kidney's are pretty important little organs!!!  It is that whole fear of the unknown thing....the standing there waiting for the big punch, the knock-out, the dreaded news.  Thankfully, the exam went really well.  Kev and I got to go into the procedure room with him.  The test det. that his kidneys looked good and that his bladder can empty completely on it's own.  There is no need at this point to catheterize or begin any meds or antibiotics.  He will have another kidney ultrasound in 6 months but for now we are good.  We were so thankful.

Earlier this morning prior to the Urodynamics test we saw the Neurosurgeon's NP.  Eli's little (somewhat large) head did another jump on the growth chart.  He had a MRI scheduled for next Thursday, but they decided to see it they could work him in today.  I have been dreading this MRI.  The thought of handing my baby over to some random nurse or tech for anesthesia is enough to cause my heart to flop.  It may not sound too bad until you go there in your mind with your own child....then it is just terrible. 

So we found out about the change in MRI this morning at 9:30 just as Eli was ready to eat his second meal of the day.  Then they told us the MRI wasn't until 2:00pm and that of course he couldn't eat until after it was over.  I knew it would be a very long day.  He was honestly such a trooper and cried some, but he handled it far better than I expected.  So, about 30 minutes before the MRI the NP came out and said that he would have to be admitted if they sedated him.  He had just met the 54 weeks from gestation requirement as of TODAY to not have to be admitted following sedation, but the anesthesiologist said he would still have to admit him(sorry if this is utterly confusing).  We found this out after waiting all day.  We opted to try our luck at an unsedated MRI and if not to sedate him as planned and just be admitted.  Eli was very tired at this point and had given up on eating...poor guy.  They let Kev go back with him and get this...they let him get on the table and go in the MRI with Eli.  Can you believe that?  No scary tech taking my baby off, no sedation, no needles, no overnight hospital stay.  They immediately sent the pics to the doc. to make sure they got just what they needed and they did.  We left quickly and I did my best to fill that little belly after about 10 hours without eating.

So, in talking with the Neuro NP this morning she said she would be really surprised if things were okay.  They saw the enough of a jump on the growth curve that they had been looking for and although they hoped things were stable, she said she was doubtful.  They even wanted to tentatively schedule us for surgery tomorrow!!  Kev and I said no, that even if it was needed we had to look at all of the options.  They were very sweet and accommodating. 

So about an hour after we returned home they called with the MRI results.  Kev took the call because I am not good with waiting for the news.  Good thing he was outside or I would have been saying, "what, huh, ask this, wait, are you sure," kinda thin... the whole time he was trying to get the information.  So as of now Eli's ventricles "look good."  Apparently he has extra axial fluid around the outside of the brain, but not in his ventricles.  This has caused the rising head circumference.  The hope is that his body will take care of it on it's own as he grows, if not he may still need a shunt for this, but at the time it is okay.  Talk about thankful!!!!  I feel like I experienced yet another miracle today.  I am thankful and still hopeful that we can avoid a shunt and so thankful that nothing needs to be done right here at Christmas time. 

What does God hate (not sure if God hates, but if he does I am sure it is the hurt, pain and suffering in the lives of His children), but he permits it because he loves (His glory being displayed on blogs, on facebook, through testimonies, and in the daily lives of weak and ordinary people.  Thank you Lord for getting us through this day.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 Recap

This year I am so thankful for many things.  Last Thanksgiving my life was in a really good place.  I was in my best shape physically due to really getting committed to running.  We had two healthy and beautiful little girls.  We had two "nice" paid off cars.  Kev had a good job and life was good.  Last thanksgiving I was very thankful for all that the Lord had blessed us with, but this year I feel my gratitude is even greater. 

The suffering that 2011 has brought has led my heart to overflowing gratefulness.  I am so thankful that God blessed us with another child.  I am so thankful that Kevin survived his horrible wreck in July.  I am so thankful to be at home and get to tuck my sweeties in their beds every night and not still in the hospital.  I am so thankful that even though Eli has lots of challenges ahead I can see the Lord's hand in his little life.

Just one little example is that in the past four months, Eli has been unable to bare any weight on his little legs.  Over the past few weeks he is beginning to be able to bare a little weight (when held up of course).  His little legs will give way and then he will push up through his knees.  I cannot tell you how proud it makes me.  I am still eagerly praying that one day I will see his little toes begin to move....for nothing is impossible with God. 

If you think about it Eli, has two big hurdles in the next two weeks.  First is a urodynamics test which will check his bladder, bowel, kidneys, etc.   It will look for reflux and will help us know what we need to do to keep his kidneys healthy.  He will have his first MRI the following week and that will let the docs know exactly what is going on in that little head.  I must admit that I will be glad to get this all behind us.  I am praying for healthy kidneys with normal pressure and stable ventricles. 

 Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Eli's 4 month update

 Our little guy is four months (and some change...mommy is very late posting this).  
 At four months you weighed 13 lbs 6 oz.  You were 23 1/2 inches.  You have been doing some good growing and it is hard to believe how much you have grown since your arrival at 34 weeks.
 You are the best little guy.  You nurse 5-6 times a day and sleep from about 8pm until 6ish.  You are so easy going and laid back.  You rarely cry unless it is time to eat or you are overly tired.
 You love your big sissy's!!  They provide a lot of entertainment for you.
 Oh, and they are a tad bit CRAZY over you!!  Eliza has recently started calling you ( E-lie Ma-shoo)...that would be Eli Matthew!!  She still pronounces it with a short E! 

You like to sit up in the bumbo seat now.  Your PT said this was good practice.  You are getting close to being able to tripod sit.

 We have worked really hard to gain this head/neck strength.  We are so proud of you!
 You really like watching TV!!  You must be a boy!  Your hair is growing.  It looks like it will be strawberry blonde.
 Eli, I am so glad God gave you to us.  Your mommy is so proud of you!
Eli is doing really well.  We had another head check last week and thankfully his head growth got back on his old growth curve after a jump the month before.  I prayed and prayed and begged the Lord for this and I truly feel that He answered.  We have another check next week at our second spina bifida clinic day. He is scheduled to have an MRI in December.  I am not looking forward to him having to be put to sleep (the thought makes me want to cry, yet I know this is part of our reality). 

He will also have his first urodynamics test next week.  I am a somewhat anxious to find out what his little bladder and bowel are doing.  I am thankful that we have had four months of not cathing, but I am preparing myself for this possibility.

Happy four months sweet boy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Holding Tank

I am back sitting on a fresh new blog page as I do several days week.  I type a few words and quickly delete them, unsure of what to say.

Life is so busy. Kev and I often wonder how we can slow down and simplify our lives.  I often find myself longing for a smaller house with less things to clean, keep up with, and organize.  One thing is for sure...the hurried and cluttered life brings added stress into our home and family.

2011 has been such a different year for our family.  I feel like we are still in a holding pattern.  I am sure I have shared this before but Kev's full-time job ended on Aug. 12 of this year.  We found out they were closing his office just about a week after learning that Eli had spina bifida.  We had options for re-location and such, but at the time it just wasn't an option.  Kev had been ready to leave the sales world for a while and move towards a ministry job, so we took this as the exit we needed.  So, we are waiting, praying and looking.  The Lord continues to provide "odd" jobs such as painting, construction, and such that are keeping daddy pretty busy. 

I am so so so SO SO SO thankful that back in 2003 as a young married couple Kev got hooked on Dave Ramsey on talk radio.  Of course it didn't happen until we had tons of college debt, a new house, a brand new car and credit car debt for us to realize that we needed help.  Kev listened to Dave everyday on his drive to work.  He became passionate and zealous in the pursuit of becoming debt free.  If you know him you know what I am talking about (washing out ziplock bags...that is where I drew the line!!)  I was slower to join the bandwagon as I knew this meant us needing two salaries for longer than I might have wished and meant keeping to a detailed budget.  Throughout these years Kev worked extra jobs cleaning swimming pools and overtime and little by little we attacked our debt.  We both love to give and we determined early on that we wanted to be faithful to tithe and give as the Lord led us to do.  We saved, we gave and God blessed us in many ways.  We moved baby step by baby step and saved our emergency fund for the "what ifs" of life.

This year we are living in the "what ifs."  I am so thankful that Kev took leadership in this area of our lives because I am pretty sure I would have failed miserably.  In fact, the first month we set out to follow a very strict budget, I had to have my wisdom teeth out.  It was right at the beginning of the month and the procedure alone blew our budget for the entire month.  My thought was that we should just ditch the budget and start again the next month.  Kev didn't like my idea too much.  I cannot imagine the extra stress we would be under if we hadn't worked on this area of our lives.  I am so thankful that even though I am so ready to see what God has in store, we are experiencing God's blessing and provisions in many ways even though the process has been rough.
Eli got a good report this week on his hips and Eliza got her cast off and we are so thankful for that!  And because pictures make every post better....

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!

From the cutest Ladybug, Butterfly and Tiger...I ever did see!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


This month our big girl turned FOUR!  It is hard to believe that she growing up so fast.  At age four Ella, you are still FULL OF LIFE!!  You are our hot or cold girl/ our sweet or spicy. You are full of drama, fun and joy! 

Right now you love playing school.  You even have acquired quite a "teacher voice." You crack us up when we hear you saying to Eliza, "Honey, I have asked you to sit down."  You are actually a very good little teacher and will take any opportunity to mother/teacher your little sister or cousins.  You recently have started loving to color.  You will sit at your table and color picture after picture.  Your coloring has improved a ton recently, as you are staying in the lines and paying more attention to detail.  Your favorite thing to draw is still a rainbow.  You love to write your name the wrong way (like an E with four lines or add in a random T ) even though you know the right way (because you know this drives your teacher mommy batty!) 

You love all things pink, sparkly and adventurous!  You never meet a stranger and will try to make a friend wherever you are!   You are a great big sister.  Eliza loves you so much and I am sure Eli will too.  You love to help and have quite a knack for organization (when you want too).   You have grown to be a great eater.  Your favorite veggies are broccoli, carrots and you love salads.  You love chocolate like your mommy and can talk me into a milkshake way too often! 

We have been talking lots about sin, our behavior and living for Jesus.  The other day you confessed to taking a toy in your backpack that you were told to leave at home.   You told me as soon as I pick you up from your class. When we got in the van your heart was broken over your disobedience and you asked if we could pray.  You prayed and mommy cried as it was the first time I really feel like you felt the conviction of sin.  Mommy and Daddy want nothing more than for you to know and live for  Jesus.

Ella, I have no doubt that God has big plans for your little life.  You are such a leader and have such a love for others.  I pray that you grow this year in knowledge and grace.  We love you more than words can describe.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


This year has by far been the hardest of my entire life.  This season of difficulty has rocked our world, shaken us to the core, challenged us at every angle and yet we are making it.  In the midst of this hard year I feel like the Lord has been whispering truths into my life.  Truths that He keeps bringing to my mind over and over, truths that are helping me through. 
1. I love you.
2.  I am with you.
3.  Don't worry about tomorrow, today has enough!
4.  It is okay to let go of some relationships.
5.  You cannot please everyone, and that is okay.
6.  It is okay to let go of your dreams and plans for you life. 
7.  A healthy child is not a sign of my favor as an unhealthy child is not a sign of my displeasure.
8.  Relax, when things are stressful and kids are screaming and shoes are flying...breathe and stay calm..perhaps even laugh!!
9.  Those who are in need are the ones who get to experience my provision.
10.  There are seasons when it is okay to "sit out."  Seasons when taking a break is okay.

I wanted to take a few minutes to jot these down today. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

3 Months

My Sweet little Eli turned 3 months a few weeks ago. Due to the fact that he was 6 weeks early his adjusted age is now almost 2 months (since this post is a few weeks late).  I have to say that Mr. Eli is the absolute best baby!!  He is just the sweetest, most laid back little guy.  He is very content unless it is time to eat!  I have to brag on him because this month he went from being solely a bottle fed baby (breastmilk) to a nursing baby.  I was doubtful that we would be able to make the shift so late, but a week before we left for vacation I decided to give it another try (the idea of washing bottles and pump parts in a hotel sink for a week was good motivation).  I was shocked at how great of a little nurser he was!  He has proved to be such an adaptable little guy and we are so proud of him. 
1 month

2 months
 Eli started sleeping through the night at about 8 weeks (I told you he was the best baby ever)!  Generally he is sleeping from 9:30ish until about 6:30ish.  It is great to sleep again!!  He has started having longer awake times during the day, but still usually takes a nap between each feeding.  He has recently started giving us big smiles and is cooing a lot.  I must say that this seems to make all of my worries go away for the moment. 

At his last check-up he was 11lbs 6oz.  That is only the 3rd percentile for a 3 month old, but is much higher on the preemie growth curve.  His head circumference jumped a little on the growth chart.  He gave us quite a scare when the Neuro got an inaccurate measurement.  They pretty much had us scheduled for a shunt on Wednesday.  I called back and finally figured out that they were looking at the percentile number as the actual cm measurement.  Anyway it made a big difference and after I had cried for about 3 hours over this, I was very relieved to learn that it was a mistake!  If you pray for Eli, please pray that his head would continue to grow as it should.  We are praying we can avoid a shunt.  We are currently checking into all of our options in case we have to go down that path.  He will have a sedated MRI in a few weeks.   
This was a big month for his little feet.  He went through two sets of casts, had a procedure on his heels and graduated to some new boots and bars.  I am sure you can tell how much straighter his little feet look in comparison to his 1 and 2 month pics.  We have spent a lot of time at our ortho in the past few weeks. 

Eli is so loved by his big sisters.  They both love on him ALL THE TIME!  If you try to talk to Eli in front of Eliza she will boldly tell you, "No my E-li"  (pronounced with a short e).  It is so funny because she is normally so shy.   

Eli went on his first vacation to the mountains. 

Tummy time, tummy time and more tummy time. 

A sweet little smile

These are his shoes (we call them his snowboard)!  He originally had to wear them for 23 hours a day.  At his last visit they said he can go to about 18 hours a day now.  It is nice to get to take them off some now.  He hasn't seemed to mind them too much.  He will most likely wear then for a long time during the night to help keep his feet in the correct position.  So far so good.

Eli has some big appointments in November.  I must admit that I feel fearful over these, esp. with the holidays ahead.  We covet your prayers over his kidney's, bladder, head growth and always his sweet little legs.