Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Eve Traditions....

Okay....I am about to fess up to a NYE tradition that might make some of your skin crawl, and then others of you will think that it sounds like fun, and then there will be others who don't really have a thought. Let me start by saying that NPayne (and myself for that matter) don't like to do anything, on NYE, where we have to be driving at the wee hours of the morning. NPayne refers to NYE as amateur night.....all the people who don't normally drink and drive will be drinking and driving along with all the people who do normally drink and drive....hence amateur night. So you guessed it, we don't go anywhere which will require us to be in the midst of amateur night. A few years ago, we and another family (the Mitchells) decided we would try to find something fun to do on NYE which wouldn't require us to be out really late (they are quite the early birds, so they are usually in bed by 9:00) and that we could do with our children. We decided to give Chuck E Cheese a try....pizza and salad for everyone, games and activities for all ages of our children (currently ages 2-11), and an environment where we could keep an eye on them but still enjoy each other's adult conversations (not adult in a Rated R kinda way but just in a general...How's work? kinda way). So we bit the bullet and went to Chuck E Cheese....I know I know there are many people opposed to CEC and that giant mouse (isn't Chuck E Cheese a mouse?), but it was actually great. We arrived around 5:30....nobody there, so we had the whole place to ourselves. We all ate together, played, visited and were outta there by 7:30; so the Mitchells could get home and ready for dreamland (wink). After the Payne Train leaves CEC, we head on over to Target for our children to use some of their (gazillion) gift cards they received for Christmas. They each pick something out, and we head home for them to enjoy their newly picked out purchase while NPayne and I cuddle on the sofa; and I enjoy nice hot coffee. Everyone, under the age of 30, is in bed around 10ish; and the remaining inhabitants (NPayne and myself) watch a little more TV or talk or whatever....I am always asleep by about 11:00/11:30. He usually watches the ball drop, but I can't really be bothered with that. We are planning on keeping that tradition this year....if all goes as planned (meaning things are good with my Lifelong friend and her baby), but this year....Addi asked if she could stay up until midnight. If that's the case, she and NPayne can watch the ball drop together....the rest of us (under 30 and one over 40) will be in dreamland.
As for New Years resolutions.....I'll post on that tomorrow! Do you have any NYE traditions?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wordful Wednesday....My Drew!

I love this picture of Drew blowing bubbles...
For more WW, visit Angie's blog at www.angiescircus.blogspot.com

Thank God for NICU Nurses and for Bryna!

I have been living in a state of uncertainty for the last day or so....not uncertainty in my faith but uncertainty in what I can do....so I pray.

My dear Lifelong friend, who is expecting her 3rd child in April, received some very unsettling and frightenting news yesterday regarding the baby she is carrying in her womb. It seems as if she has an alarmingly low amount of amniotic fluid, and her baby is not growing as it should. She will be returning to her doctor tomorrow to check the fluid levels and to see if the baby is thriving. There is a chance of a delivery of a very premature baby (she is 24 weeks along) in the next few days. I pray for health for her baby as she has already experienced the devastating loss of a child. Also if you read MckMama's blog, you know that her baby boy Stellan is in the hospital with the most severe case of RSV I've ever heard about. We are praying that he is stable and will now turn the corner to getting better. He has not been intubated yet, but there is still that chance. As I've been praying for both of these women and their babies...unceasingly and diligently....my mind is having trouble focusing on anything else right now. And as I read MckMama's blog about the things they are doing to help Stellan, my mind keeps revisiting the birth of my sweet Bryna Mae....5 years 3 months and 2 days ago.

Bryna was born at 36 weeks gestation. We knew there was a slight chance of some health issues, but we really weren't too concerned; because her sister (Drew) had been born at 36 weeks and was perfectly healthy. Bryna was my longest delivery which should have told me then that she just really wasn't ready to be born, but nonetheless she came. I remember the minute she was born, they brought her over for me to see; and I could hear her making this weird noise. She wasn't crying, because she couldn't. They calmly told NPayne and I that she would need to go to the NICU for precautions, and we both nodded our heads....still not too concerned. I think this was the first time that NPayne didn't accompany the baby while all that post delivery stuff was being finished up with me. I couldn't wait for them to roll me down to NICU, so I could hold her. It was several hours before I was able to get into the wheelchair and be rolled down to see her. We eagerly rolled into the NICU with joy in our hearts at the thought of finally holding our baby, and I saw my big old baby girl lying in the incubator (she weighed 7 pounds 2 ounces, and yes she was a PREEMIE). I remember looking at her with all those tubes and stuff stuck in her forehead and arms and legs, and them telling me I couldn't hold her; she had been intubated to help her breathe. I asked the doctor if I should just come down to the NICU to feed her and hold her until we went home....and then the slap in the face....the doctor said "Oh she won't be going home with you!" I was in complete shock and a state of confusion. I remember the doctor saying something like the following....your baby is very sick, and right now we are just doing all we can for her, but we really don't know the outcome. I felt like he just punched me in the stomache, like the floor dropped out from under me, like I needed him to repeat that statement although I really didn't want to hear it again. I just nodded my head as I listened to them tell me all the medical jargon and tried to pay attention....what it boiled down to was that her lungs were not ready....she had needed a little more time in the womb before she made her entry. They told me that I could come to the NICU at anytime (except during shift changes) to be with her, and so I did just that. I got use to scrubbing my hands and arms for 5 minutes several times each day as I would visit my baby. I would walk, or hobble, down to the NICU in the middle of the night; because I was so lonely in the hospital without my baby in my room. NPayne stayed with me as often as he could, but we had 3 other children at home; and we wanted to keep things as "normal" for them as possible. That first night.....I sobbed and sobbed and prayed and prayed. I didn't sleep at all. I needed to be with my baby, so I spent my time in the NICU.....caressing my baby and watching her chest go up and down as she struggled to breathe. I saw many other parents, caressing their babies and some of them crying, none of the babies could be held! I saw the tiniest baby I've ever seen....I remember her name was Trinity, and she had already been in the NICU for several weeks. She was always covered up, but one time they moved the curtain (when her mother was there); and I saw her. I couldn't belive she was so very tiny, and I couldn't believe that she was real. I remember thinking how hard that would be...having a baby in NICU for all those months while trying to work and care for your other children. I remember meeting her mother and getting such a feeling of peace from her, although she still had not held her baby and would not hold her for many more weeks, she was at peace; and although we never discussed it....I knew it was God. I remember thanking God for Trinity's precious life, and although they had a very long road ahead of them; I just knew she would make it. I stayed in the hospital until midnight of the day I had to leave....they allow mothers who have NICU babies to stay until midnight, and I did. It was such a lonely feeling.....coming home from the hospital and leaving my baby there, but I was so thankful that she was still here. I still woke up every few hours to begin to pump, so that when she was ready to eat; I would have milk for her. I would deliver my contribution to the little NICU refrigerator everytime I visited her. Eventually they did start feeding her by using a syringe to squirt a little in, the side of her cheek, at a time to prevent her from choking. The NICU nurses were some of the kindest and gentlest people I had ever met....the loved my baby, they prayed for my baby, and they held my hand while they explained everything that they was being done to help her get better. We didn't name Bryna right away, because although we had narrowed down the names; we hadn't decided. The NICU nursers kept asking me...."What is her name? We want to call her by name." Before I left the hospital, NPayne and I asked the other children what name they liked; and they all said Bryna. I knew Mae would be her middle name, since that was the middle name of NPayne's grandmother and my grandmother. I will have to admit...Bryna was not my first choice,but it was and is perfect for her. It means "Strong One" or "Hope"....how perfect for my sweet little NICU girl. Although Bryna was not in the NICU very long, it seemed like forever. It was almost RSV season, so Addi (she was 6 at the time) was the only sibling who was allowed to go into the NICU; and she only got to see her one time. I remember that I didn't have the swarm of visitors, that I had had when the other 3 were born, and there were no flowers or plants delivered. I remember that my pastor came and prayed with us, and I remember that NPayne and I were so blessed to have a NICU nurse who also happened to be a chaplain pray over her as we all held hands. After they took out all the intubation tubes and decided that she was able to breathe on her own, I was able to nurse her in the NICU. I remember being thrilled to be able use the hospital breast pump, because it was high tech and super duper fast and easy. I remember looking at my 7 pound baby in the incubator and laughing with the nurses as we joked about her being the giant of the NICU. I remember being thankful that she was so big and WAS the giant of the NICU! I remember waiting for her jaundice to clear up, going to have our infant carseat checked out, and watching the mandatory video of how to care for a preemie. I remember many other families leaving before us and watching new families come in, and I remember finally leaving the NICU; and Trinity was still there. I remember crying on the shoulder of my OB, and him telling me that he was so sorry. I remember my pediatrician coming to check on her....although she was not a NICU doctor....just because she is devoted to my family, and I remember being so thankful for both of these doctors. I remember being exhausted! I remember being overwhelmed by the generosity of our family and friends who brought us meal after meal after meal....who prayed for us.....who entertained our other 3 children, so NPayne and I could visit Bryna together. I remember that I couldn't drive fast enough or walk fast enough everytime I would go visit her in the NICU. I remember going to Target to pick up my newborn photos (although she was intubated and in NICU, I still took pictures), and they told me they lost them....I remember crying at the counter and the salesclerk didn't know what to say. I remember NPayne being heartbroken at not being able to care for his baby. But the main thing I remember is being lonely without my baby attached to me, as my other newborns had been, but also feeling such peace at knowing that she was getting a little extra love and prayer before she was sent out into the big ole world. I remember praying constantly and asking God to forgive me for being scared, and I remember Him telling me it was okay to be scared but to know that He was right there with me and B. I know that He was with us every step of the way, and whether she came home to our earthly home or went to her eternal home; He was with us. I remember our NICU nurse telling us she could go home, and I remember we drove from the hospital to church to have a blessing of health poured over her!


Here is B when she was about 4 months old with her mama and daddy.
Here she is when she was 1 playing in the snow!


This is Bryna when she was 3 on Palm Sunday....praying!


This is Bryna NOW....she's a beautiful blessing!

Our Precious Princess!

***Side note****Bryna does suffer from severe asthma, which although the pulminologists don't accredit to her being preemie, I absolutely believe it does. As for Target losing my newborn photos, NPayne bought me a digital camera that year for Christmas!

Monday, December 29, 2008

URGENT PRAYER REQUESTS

Please be in prayer for my Lifelong Friend, the one who is expecting in April....she had a very frightening doctor appointment today. Her amniotic fluid is very low, and the baby doesn't seem to be growing. She will return to the doctor on Wednesday and hopefully there will be improvement. If not, they will have to discuss delivering a very premature baby....she's only 24 weeks along. This is my sweet friend who lost her baby boy on the day he was born a little over 3 years ago. We need specific and unceasing prayers for the baby she is now carrying.

Please be in prayer for MckMiracle baby Stellan. He was healed in his mother's womb of a certain death by heart failure, and he is now in the hospital with the most severe case of RSV I have ever heard about. He's a little over 2 months old!

Both of these mamas, one I know very personally and one I know through blogging, are scared actually terrified; but they have complete faith in our Lord. They both trust Him and know that He is in control.

Blessings to all of you for praying and thank you in advance!

I'm a Twit..terer!

I signed up on Twitter, so now I'm a twitterer (not a twit but a twitterer, although some may beg to differ)....now you can check out my profound or meaningless (depends on what you think) daily events and opinions. My Twitter Bug is found by scrolling down the right side of the blog....
NPayne says I'm going to get carpal tunnel and need glasses if I continue to blog so often....where has he been? I already have carpal tunnel and wear glasses.....does he live in the same house with me? Why wouldn't he already know this? Oh now I get it.....he was being sarcastic, a smart alek, or just his regular witty (but adorable and sweet) self.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Sermon Summary.....My Testimony!

I have to fess up....I didn't go to church today. Honestly I never miss church....I would say maybe 2 times per year.....honest....I'm not sure why I'm trying to convince you, when He knows and that's who counts! If I do miss, it's usually due to vacation or a mother/daughter campout or something like that; and I always worship....ALWAYS! So....since I didn't attend church today....by the way....we didn't wake up until 10:00, and I've been having horrible bouts with my RA (that makes me sound really old)....I know I know that's not a good excuse (but it's the excuse I'm offering up); so in lieu of a Sunday Sermon Summary....I am going to share some other things! I have already worshipped some this morning and will continue throughout my day, but I thought writing this post would be part of my worship....it's sort of like my testimony. Who knew??? I have a testimony.
When I was a little girl, I never went to church with my parents unless my grandparents...mamaw and papaw (my mom's parents) were visiting; then we went and pretended like we went every week. Although I'm certain mamaw and papaw knew otherwise...they played along. I think they were glad we were, at least there on that particular Sunday, and glad that my parents tried to honor them by "pretending." Does that seem weird? Anyhoo...as I said, I NEVER attended church regularly with my parents. There's a long story here, and I'll try to summarize....my mom quit attending church when she moved out of my grandparents' house, because she felt like she was being condemned for everything (which she probably was). My dad didn't attend, because my mom didn't attend....it was that simple for him. They both grew up attending church every week, more than once per week, and they both grew up attending different denominations. When I did attend church with my parents, which was when my grandparents visited or when we visited them, we went to the church denomination my mother grew up attending. My grandparents, mainly my mamaw, was the most influential and purposeful person in my childhood and young adult life in bringing me to Christ (I posted about this previously). Although I NEVER regularly attended church with my parents, I longed to go. I would often ask my mom to take me, but it was not a successful request. We were truly CEO christians....Christmas and Easter only! Don't misunderstand....my parents still believed in the good book and all it said, but they just didn't believe in attending church. This was mainly because they never found a church where they could grow spiritually, but they never looked. I think my mom still had a "bad taste" in her mouth from things that had happened while she was attending church growing up, and she still held a grudge....that's all changed now (another post waiting to happen). When I was about 8 years old, I spent the night with a very dear friend of mine Tara (love you girl). She asked me, before I went over, if I wanted to go to church with her on Sunday; and I excitedly and immediately said "YES!" I told my mother, and she asked me which church, etc. to make sure she was in agreement...and it happened to be the church we attended when my grandparents were here; so she agreed....that is funny to me now (not ha ha but peculiar) ....only allowing me to attend the church that she so desperately tried to escape. What I didn't realize, when I spent the night with Tara, was that we wouldn't be going to church with her family; but that we would be going alone....well sort of. There was a church bus that would come to her house and pick her up each Sunday morning. Can you believe this? A church bus? Isn't that cool? The church bus picked us up, and we rode with a ton of other kids....we happily bounced up and down in the seat singing kidlike hymns...."The B-I-B-L-E", "Father Abraham", etc. all the way to church. It was pure bliss for me. When we got to church, we got to attend not only church but also Sunday School. I was thrilled and absolutely loved it. Can you imagine two little 8 year old girls sitting in the back of a HUGE sanctuary worshipping together? Actually I think we colored a lot, but nonetheless....we were DRIVEN and excited to be there. As time passed, the church bus started coming to my house to pick me up; because well....I couldn't spend every single Saturday night with Tara. I began to attend church regularly and continued for several years. Honestly I don't remember why the church bus stopped coming, but it did. Then I didn't go again for a while....until I could drive. I would usually attend Wednesday evening service; because that's when all the youth kids attended. I had heard about my friends all going to church camp and being involved in the youth programs, and I so longed to do that; but I never had that opportunity. I felt like an outcast when I did go to church, because I didn't do these things; and because I came alone.....so eventually I stopped attending all together. As I grew into late teenage years, I would occasionally attend church with friends and always with my grandparents; but I stopped going on my own. I couldn't find a place where I felt like I belonged. I had discovered that even when I went to church, I didn't leave there feeling like I was growing. I was leaving there feeling guilty and condemned. When I was 15, I was baptized...by my own choice and desire. Although I knew the importance of taking that step, I didn't feel any different like I thought I would. I think I expected angels to sing and the heavens to open up....I think I thought I would feel the Lord enter into my heart, but I didn't (sidenote, I had never heard about the Holy Spirit or the Trinity at this point in my life). When I was 16, I pledged to read the entire Bible and even got The Bible on tape (yes on tape....that was a long time ago). I failed miserably, because it was all King James version; and honestly I couldn't understand half of it. I didn't belong to any sort of community or church family, and I had an empty place in my heart. I always felt guilty about EVERYTHING which is still a big struggle for me today....and I discovered as I became an adult that this was due partly to the way of teaching in the church I had grown up attending and partly due to my own insecurities. Then I met NPayne. He too hadn't attended church since he was a little boy. As a matter of fact, he had NEVER attended church with his mother.....NEVER not even "pretending" for the sake of his grandmother. His grandmother was actually the one who took him as a child while his mother always worked. We got married, and it was bittersweet for me. I had always dreamed of my papaw performing the service, since he was a judge and was largely the reason I loved the Lord; and I had wanted to be married in a "church" type of atmosphere. My papaw had passed away a few years earlier, and NPayne and I didn't belong to a church. We met a young man (Donny), who was in seminary at the time, and decided that he would be perfect to officiate our wedding. After several meetings and discussions of our faith with Donny, we ended up getting married in a chapel; and it was good. After Addi was born, NPayne and I decided to start really looking for a church. We both knew that we wanted to find a church that suited us as a family, so we began to visit several different churches. The day we visited our church, that we have attended for the last 12 years, Pastor Cindy was preaching....I have also blogged about her in the past....she's FABULOUS! I immediately fell in love with her and so did NPayne. We left the service, and I felt something stirring in my heart but also felt very confused. I had grown up in a church where there were NO women clergy, there was NO instrumental music. I didn't know what to do....but I knew I wanted to go back. We continued to attend this church, and although Cindy didn't preach every Sunday; I knew she was preaching that first Sunday for a very specific reason....to get us to come back. We met with Cindy, and I would often e-mail her or call her or meet with her, and ask her questions about this church; because I didn't understand a lot of what was going on...I had never practiced the season of Advent or Lent. I didn't know about the Holy Spirit. She walked and talked me through, backing it up with scripture, when she could. We decided to join our church in November of that year 1997. We joined in a private way instead of coming up to the front of the church, and on the night that we joined.....NPayne was baptized by Cindy....nothing more perfect! We had Addi baptized a few days later....she was about 8 months old. We have attended this particular church every since, and we have had all 5 of our babies baptized; and this year Addi will be confirmed. Baptizing babies and confirmation were definitely things I didn't understand or agree with at first, but I understand why our church participates in these practices now; and both of these practices are completely optional. I know our church isn't perfect, because it's not. As a matter of fact there have been a lot of struggles within our church in the past (that's another post). I know there are some things I still don't understand about our church, and I know there are some things that I still don't agree with; but the most important thing is that we are being FED there. We are growing our relationship with Christ in this church and with the support of our pastors and our church family. We have met some of the most wonderful and inspiring people we will ever meet at this church who have enriched and changed my life forever. My children all attend/attended preschool there. I work there. My girls have done Kindermusik there. It's definitely our second home or maybe our first....in the spirit of the Savior. I know a denomination doesn't make a Christian, but I also know (from experience)that it can hinder your growth as a Christian. You have to feel fed and be able to grow in Christ. You have to be able to love your Lord without "church" things hindering that. I know that your parents don't make you Christian, but I also know that their leading by example is a definite plus. As parents we have a responsibility to do the introduction....if you will....to encourage our children in the ways of the Lord. We have a responsibility to take them to worship and teach them about Jesus and pray for and with them, and to teach them about serving and helping others....then we pray that they will build their own relationship with our Christ, serve Him by bringing glory to His name and ultimately fall in love with Him. This is not the end of my testimony but only the beginning....I am growing each day, each minute, each second; and I will share more at a later date.....and believe me, there's plenty to be shared!
Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old; he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6.

Friday, December 26, 2008

It's My Party....And I'll Cry If I Want To!

However I didn't want to cry, BUT...I did want to make funny faces!

Today was my 42nd birthday, and I had a great day doing things I really enjoy....sleeping late, eating lunch with my best friend, shopping with my children and my best friend in the very lovely 77 degree temperature, coming home to a nice clean house with a very D-E-A-D I mean DEAD Christmas tree undecorated and removed from the house (thanks to NPayne and Drewby), having dinner with my family and treating myself to a few new things....thanks to the $50 I received from my mom for Christmas and the other $50 I received from my mom for my birthday....see it's not so bad having a birthday the day after Christmas....I've been opening presents for days!!!
Tomorrow.....I am being treated to a personalized SPA...not limited to but including hair-do, massage, and manicure... via my lovely daughters! I can't wait!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's All About the Relationship!


Thank you Lord for sharing these precious gifts with me!
Merry Christmas!

The Best Christmas Gift I Received...

At our Christmas Eve Service, we were asked to text in some of the best gifts we have ever received or have ever given, then they read the replies aloud at the end of the service. I know I know....a little non traditional, but it was very interesting to hear! Although I didn't text, I knew that my best Christmas gift that I had ever received and would continue to receive every year, as a matter of fact, every day would be Christ our Savior. As I was looking for a picture of a nativity scene to post on this post, I came across this article (listed below).... It's Christmas for crying out loud.....CHRISTmas....it is about the birth of Christ....It is, It is, I tell you! It's not about "religion" persay but about relationship!

ELWOOD, Ind. -- A Nativity scene set up inside a Central Indiana public library every holiday season for the past 30 years will remain on display despite a complaint about its religious nature, the library's director says.
Elwood Public Library Director Jamie Scott said a patron complained last week about the religious display depicting Christ's birth.
Scott said the visitor said he was an atheist and threatened to protest outside the library branch Monday if the scene was not taken down. She declined to release the man's name.
After learning of the complaint, about 30 people rallied Monday outside the library in support of the display, said Becky Capps, who attends Joy Christian Church in Elwood, about 40 miles north of Indianapolis.
Scott told The Herald Bulletin of Anderson that more than 90 area residents also signed a note of support for the Nativity scene.
After speaking with a lawyer about the complaint, she decided to keep the scene of the baby Jesus on display until Friday, the day after
Christmas, as has been the custom.
Scott said this was the first time anyone had taken issue with the display in the city of about 9,000 people.
Although the Nativity is a symbol of Christianity, she insists that scene is not intended as an endorsement of the religion.
"The way I feel about it is, this is something that was donated to the library and has been a part of our
holiday season decorations for almost 30 years," she said. "We were not trying to promote any religion."
Pastor James Stout of Joy Christian Church said he thinks Christianity and American values are one and the same.
"This is a Christian country that was founded on Christian principles," he said.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wordful Wednesday...My Cup Runneth Over!


Elliot Ann....December 2007! My cup really does runneth over and for that I am so very thankful!
For more Wordful Wednesday fun....visit Angie's blog at www.angiescircus.blogspot.com

Sunday Sermon Summary

It's Tuesday....very early in the morning, and I am just now writing the Sunday Sermon Summary post....Yes I know, I know, I usually write it on well...uh Sunday; but I was busy. I have a life, outside of blogging, people....(NPayne will beg to differ with me on that one). Actually I was awakened by 2 sweet little girls about an hour ago....and I'm still awake....hence "Being awakened in the middle of the night" is one of my Pet Peeves.
Anyhoo here is the summary.....
This past Sunday was the 4th Sunday in Advent....the Sunday of Love All in our church's theme of Simply Christmas. Pastor Ken talked about many things that really hit home with me. He read Luke 1: 46b-55....46And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;49for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;53he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.54He has helpedhis servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever."
Read that over a few times and let it soak in. Then remember that God sees us for who we are in our sin, frailties, mistakes, etc. Then realize that God also sees us for who we can be. He knows our potential. He calls you and invites you to a place where you can reach your potential.....it can be out on the edge of your comfort zone, but He wants you to call on Him to help you. Many things that you may be gifted at doing may also be things that make you nervous or uncomfortable....that is sort of the point....if it was always easy, you wouldn't need to count on Him, lean on Him, cling to Him for guidance and support. He wants you to call on Him, and He is there ready to support you. In this subject....Love All....think about all of the things people do out of "love" around Christmas....adopt a needy family or child, donate food to the local food bank, donate time to help at a shelter or to help someone in need.....NOW think about what if that "love" was extended to the day after Christmas and the day after that and the day after that....you get where I'm going here? Continue the "love" all year long....make an effort to do it 365 days instead of a few days this year. Did you know that Americans spend $450 BILLION each year on Christmas....that's each year? Did you know that it would cost $10 BILLION to provide clean water to everyone in the world? You see where I'm going with this....$450 Billion on "stuff".....$10 Billion on life! Remember this season the life that was given to you, to me, to us in order that we may live eternal life in God's Kingdom! Just remember!
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

NOT ME MONDAY!!!!!

I am not nearly too exhausted to write a NOT ME MONDAY post, really I'm NOT!

1. I am not just now posting my NOT ME MONDAY post, because my computer was down all day; and I did NOT realize (once NPayne got home and figured it out....genius that he is) that the computer just needed to be re-plugged back in...
2. I did NOT just venture to Walmart, on Dec. 22nd, in the 30 degree cold to buy a few things....I DID NOT dare brave that crowd and cold....
3. I did NOT become highly annoyed.....when I was ready to load my cart full of stuff into my suburban.... that the back of it was full with NPayne's stuff....and I did not have to load all of that stuff into the front seats of the suburban instead.
4. I did NOT love watching my little Bryna Mae be Frosty the Snowgirl in her dance recital yesterday, and I did NOT leave the recital thinking that dancing is her "thing", and I did not love watching her daddy watch her.
5. I did NOT love going downtown with my family on Friday to check out all the cool stuff...and I do NOT feel like we are depriving our children of the fun stuff (literally right down the street), because this is the first time we have ever gone downtown at Christmas.
6. I did not buy 2 of those decadently delicious chocolate/caramel covered apples for my mom, since tomorrow is NOT her birthday.
7. I am NOT feeling badly for my husband, since Thursday is Christmas and Friday is my birthday....(yes it really is the day after Christmas).
8. I did not go on a gift wrapping frenzy today.....only to get completely confused about who was getting which child what gift, since I am wrapping the gifts for each child from both of their grandmothers as well as gifts from us.
That's it for Not Me Monday....to join in on more NOT ME MONDAY fun, visit MckMama's blog by clicking on her MckMiracle button on the side of my blog.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

One of My Favorite Traditions....




One of my very favorite Payne family traditions is baking Jesus' birthday cake with my children. We always bake a cake, and although our Santa plate says "cookies", it's cake. The cake is completely childmade with sprinkles galore, candles, decorations, etc. We bake the cake on Christmas Eve, and we leave the first piece for Santa (on this plate) along with some milk (in this cup). Then on Christmas Day, we serve the cake (minus one piece and after singing Happy Birthday) for our after dinner dessert to our family and extended family. I love this tradition, because we get to bake, we get to eat, but mainly because we get to honor Jesus on his birthday. After all that's what it's all about....receiving the best gift of all!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Side Note and A Revelation!

In my previous post, I posted a copy of our Christmas card and Christmas letter. In the note about the Christmas letter, I stated that I never wrote letters until about 5 years ago; because I didn't think I had a lot to share. Well....as of this morning, I came to a true realization about the whole Christmas letter thing....after I received a comment from another mom who also has a child with Fragile X. I realized that I think I felt exactly as she did....I really didn't know what to say about my boy, my sweet precious son.....the one who most people didn't understand....the one who was still wearing diapers....the one who didn't have any friends....the one who threw tantrums often and many times without warning....the one who I loved with all my heart but still didn't understand myself. Then one Christmas about 5 years ago, I decided to write the letter....and I would explain as best as I could about my prince....and I did. I remember that first letter....I had no trouble writing about Addi, or Drew or even Bryna (who was only about 3 months old) and once I started writing about Cal....I had no trouble writing about him either. His hobbies, accomplishments and life in general was very different than theirs; but their lives (as well as NPayne's and mine) encompassed and included him and always had. I remember starting the "Cal" section of the letter with the following...."As most of you know Cal has been diagnosed with Fragile X and Autism..." then I continued with all the gushing about his hobbies, interests and accomplishments. I just needed to let that be known up front, because although many people knew he was a "special needs" child; they had no idea what that meant. It was amazing and refreshing at how many people, who read that letter, just outright asked me questions about him....What is Fragile X? What is Autism? I've always always always been a believer in being completely upfront with people about Cal. I use to get so irritated and sometimes still do when people would make rude comments (and they did) about my boy, so from early in his diagnosis....I started laying it on the line with folks....even folks I didn't know, but if they were commenting or staring....I would lay it out there. I remember going to hear a music therapist speak once, and she mentioned how this family she knew use to carry around business type of cards that said something like....I can tell that you're wondering why my child is behaving like this....My child has autism....then it gave a general definition of autism....described some behaviors their child might exhibit....then it gave a website where people could make a donation. This family would just hand that card to people who stared or made inappropriate comments about their child while they were in public. Although I never did that, I remember many many times wishing that I could just hand some stranger a card like that when they were staring or making rude and hurtful comments. When I wrote that first Christmas letter 5 years ago, I sent it to my family and friends (some who already knew about Cal's diagnosis and some who didn't); but it was sent to people who mattered to me and my family. People who knew us and loved us. As for other people, if they comment or stare; I still don't have a problem laying it out there for them....but fortunately I don't have to as often.

Friday, December 19, 2008

To All of My Bloggy Friends....Use Your Imagination!

You walk out to your mailbox and excitedly retrieve your many Christmas cards that are waiting for you.....Including this one! You see a small but very thick green envelope addressed to you from your bloggy friend....Lorie at Thinking Out Loud! You gently and anxiously tear open the small but very thick green envelope to find..... This strangely thick card, and you read this Christmas message from your bloggy friend!

Then you begin to unfold the accordian type of creation to find the following pictures attached to the greeting.....

You open up the accordian type of creation to reveal the entire front of the card! There you see the entire Payne family and our dog Finn with a green bow on his head!

As you are looking at the picture, you casually flip the accordian type of creation over and find....

You, once again, unfold the accordian type of creation to reveal the following pictures of my 4 sweet princesses and my 1 sweet prince!

As you are gazing at all of the pictures....a letter falls out....it's my annual Christmas letter!

It's a long read, are you ready? Maybe you better go get yourself a snack and a cup of something warm to drink....then settle in to read! Pay special attention to the closing (red letters)!

I enjoy Christmas, but really I am a Thanksgiving kind of girl; so this holiday season I decided to write why I am thankful for each individual person in my family.
Why I am thankful for Addison (age 11)….She is one of the most generous people I know and truly enjoys doing for others. Addi has been deemed “My Adult Assistant,” because she is so helpful with her siblings and really loves each one of them with all of her heart. I am thankful that she is content with what she has and doesn’t ask for much. She is willing to work for things she wants. She will often buy one of her siblings, a friend, or relative a gift just because she loves them. I am thankful that she is so creative and full of imagination….she writes great stories and plays, and I love to read them. She is becoming a great musician, and I am thankful that she embraces that God given talent. I am thankful that she is determined but doesn’t get disgruntled when things don’t work out the way she had intended. She is very easy going and makes good choices and for that I am very thankful. I am thankful that she loves me, respects me and enjoys keeping me company even though she’s almost a teenager.
Why I am thankful for Callahan (age 9)….He is a simple and a complex child all at the same time. Cal has taught me to appreciate simple things and not take ANYTHING for granted. I am thankful that Cal is learning and making so much progress, and I am thankful that he is becoming more flexible; but I am also thankful that he is very structured and organized. I am thankful that Cal will now give me a hug and knows what it means when I say “I love you.” Cal is a gentle soul, and he appreciates his sisters. I am thankful that Cal is very cautious and therefore really keeps a close eye on Elliot or any toddler in his sight. I am thankful that Cal’s vocabulary has blossomed over the last few years, and I can carry on a somewhat “meaningful” conversation with him. I am thankful for how much he loves his daddy. I am thankful that because of Cal’s differences, I am a better person.
Why I am thankful for Drew (age 7)….She is a kindred spirit and an old soul. I am thankful that she has my sense of humor, so she laughs a lot. Drew treasures all of God’s creation, and I am thankful she is so nurturing and loving towards our earth. I am thankful that Drew is a very responsible 7 year old, and I am thankful that she ADORES her cutie patootie (Elli). I am thankful that Drew is very creative and blesses me with a beautiful piece of Art, that she has created for me, each week. Drew loves to play piano and enjoys practicing, and for that I am thankful. I am thankful that Drew has a kind heart and embraces all people and their differences. I am thankful that Drew is tidy but isn’t afraid to get dirty. Drew wants to be a mommy with a lot of children and is truly a homebody. I am thankful that she respects me as her mother and pays me the compliment of wanting to be “just like you” when she grows up. I am thankful that she tries to be a good example for her little sisters.
Why I am thankful for Bryna Mae (age 5)….She always has a smile on her face and a song rolling off her tongue. Bryna turns everything into a song and dance, and I am thankful that she keeps me entertained. Bryna has a very jolly giggle and a hearty laugh and for that I am thankful. I am thankful that she is a “girly” girl (out of 4 girls, I needed one girly girl). I am thankful that Bryna is full of love and tells me that she loves me about a gazillion times a day. I am thankful that she wants to sit on my lap or snuggle with me any chance she can get. She is one person, I know, who truly has a joyful heart and is happy about everything. I am thankful that she has finally outgrown the terrible twos…now that she’s five. I am thankful that she loves to learn, explore, create and perform. Bryna loves her siblings with all of her heart, and for that I am so thankful. I am thankful that she plays with Cal. She is very laid back and easy to amuse, and she has a sweet spirit. I am thankful that we have date day on Thursday, and I am thankful that she enjoys being with me.
Why I am thankful for Elliot (age 2)….She is smart as a whip and cute as a button. Elli is a redhead (actually strawberry blonde), but for that I am thankful (I always wanted a redhead). I am thankful that she walks and talks and eats and prays and laughs and cries and sleeps and loves us all. I am thankful that she’s growing (but I wish it wasn’t going by so fast). I am thankful that she loves to learn, read, color, sing and dance. I am thankful that I have had the chance to treasure, really treasure, having another baby in my house. I am thankful that she looks like my dad, and I am thankful that she has a mind of her own (really I am). She is very ticklish and loves to play with her sisters and brother. I am thankful that they all love to play with her as well. I am thankful that she LOVES her daddy and truly jumps up and down with pure joy when she sees him. She is very funny and keeps us laughing every day, and I am always thankful for laughter. I am thankful for this surprise blessing that we received a little over 2 years ago….how I do love surprises.
Why I am thankful for Neil…He helped me take the photo of our family on this Christmas card. Do you know how challenging it can be to get 5 children and 2 adults all smiling and looking at a camera that is set on self timer? You should have seen the goofy things he was doing to get the kids to smile. He knew it was important to me to take a family photo, so he set it all up and took the photos (during a Cowboy game I might add) He has made many sacrifices, so I could stay home with our children. Everyone, in our family, has done without many wants and sometimes a few needs; but Neil really never asks for anything for himself. He supports me and helps keep me grounded when I get overwhelmed or have had tragic things occur. He loves me unconditionally and tells me so often. He pays me compliments often and NEVER agrees with my self criticism. He loves our children with all of his heart, and he knows how blessed he is to have each one of them. He is a great father for a child with special needs, and he has been brought to tears with the most common or simple accomplishment that Cal may complete. He supports his daughters, and he embraces each one and her unique gifts and talents. He has never come home when there is laundry all over the couch, dishes still in the sink and toys all over the floor and asked me “What have you been doing all day?” He appreciates what it takes to be a stay home parent, but he doesn’t EVER want to be one. He respects me as a mother, wife and person. He enjoys the simple things in life! He is my soulmate!
I am thankful that my children really treasure each other and love being a part of a somewhat large family. If we told them today that we were having, adopting, fostering another child….they would all be thrilled and overjoyed. I am thankful that I live in America. I am thankful for my church, Jesus, family, friends, schools, teachers, Cal’s therapists, our jobs, my self made business, our house, food, clothing, water, cars, our dog….I am thankful for being rich, not in a monetary sense of the word, but in a spiritual, life living sense of the word.
A few extras…Addi raised $1,080 this past October by organizing and running a lemonade stand. She donated all the money to Autism Speaks in honor of Callahan. If you would like to donate to her cause, go to
www.autismspeaks.com. If you would like to keep up with our family, day to day, you can visit my blog at www.thinkingoutloud-byamom.blogspot.com.
If you are receiving this letter, I am thankful for you too!
Lorie and the Payne Train
***A little side note*** I use to think writing a Christmas letter would be strange, because what would I have to share? Then about 5 years ago, I decided it was a great way to share things about my precious family with our family and friends who we don't see very often. The letter is always written from me and me only but signed from us all....NPayne said it was silly for me to write the letter as if he were sitting beside me writing it with me....imagine us snuggled up in front of the laptop, smiling and looking longingly into each others eyes as we in complete unison wrote our letter....NOT. He also thought some of the stuff I wrote (the first year) was cheesy (which it probably was....I think I gushed a lot). This year, I took a chance and changed it up, and I just wrote why I am so very thankful for each person in my family; along with many other things I am so very thankful for. Honestly each year, when I write the letter, I write exactly what I am thinking and feeling at that very moment and don't change a thing....except for typos; because that is what is on my heart when I write it. This year, not unlike other years, I have been so extremely thankful to God for all that I have; and I decided to share it! I am glad that I started a blog, and that I have met so many wonderful people through blogging!
I wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Does anyone else need.............
A Nap?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Jesus And A New Nick Name For Elliot...


Our church's children's ministry had a birthday party for Jesus last Sunday. There was lunch, games, and of course birthday cupcakes....followed by a child friendly worship service using puppets....Anyone ever heard of Nana' Puddin'? Every since then, I have been calling Elli my little Puddin' Pie or just Puddin'. Who knew....a birthday party for Jesus would lead to a new nick name for Elliot....besides Jesus of course....I mean He does know everything....As you can see Puddin' Pie had a grand time!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

WORDFUL WEDNESDAY

This was the front of our Christmas card 2 years ago.... it says...."You know Dasher & Dancer & Prancer & Vixen...Drew & Cal & Bryna & Addi....
Then you open the card and find....this adorable picture of Elliot....with these words...."But do you recall, the biggest surprise of them all!"
I am a Christmas card fanatic.....I LOVE them. This was my favorite one I've created so far, although I have to admit....I am really liking this year's card too. Wanna see it? Maybe I'll post it soon! And yes....Elliot was a big beautiful blessing baby of a surprise! How I do love surprises!
For more Wordful Wednesday, visit Angie's blog at http://www.angiescircus.blogspot.com/!

Monday, December 15, 2008

NOT ME MONDAY

Time for another rendition of Not Me Monday....the following are things that I did not do this past week. For more confessions, NOT, visit MckMama's blog by clicking on the MckMiracle button on the side of my blog.

This week, I did NOT.....
1. While shopping, I did not buy my sweet little 2 year version of Imelda Marcos, another pair of shoes.....I wouldn't do that.....no 2 year old needs that many shoes.
2. I did not take all 5 of my children to Parent Night Out, at our church, just because they offered it. And Npayne and I did NOT have absolutely nothing that we had to do, so we did NOT enjoy a nice quiet dinner alone together.....We did NOT!
3. Speaking of Parent Night Out, NPayne and I were NOT one bit pleased, elated, thrilled beyond belief that our son (who has autism) actually stayed in the respite part of Parent Night Out. We were NOT completely surprised that he actually stayed, and we really were NOT excited that he actually enjoyed it. Not us!
4. I did NOT get a sugar headache from all of the sweets that I ate on Saturday....coffee cake, fruit and chocolate dip, birthday cake, these huge fried flour tortillas rolled in cinnamon/sugar at Las Posadas (I can't spell what they are called in Spanish), and hot chocolate. I would NEVER eat that much sugar in one day!!!
5. On Sunday, I did not get very tickled at my 7 year old for giving her sister the "You better stop doing that right now" stare, during church, when she realized that her 5 year old sister had done something she didn't appreciate.
6. On Sunday, I was NOT one of 3 people in my Sunday School class who raised their hands for being born before 1968....I am NOT old.
7. Last Wednesday, I DID NOT enjoy spending the entire afternoon with NPayne picking out that perfect treasure for our little treasures.
8. Lastly I did not go Christmas caroling last night in 80 degree weather....who would do that?

Sunday Sermon Summary

This Sunday Sermon Summary is going to be a little different than previous SSS posts....in the fact that I will share some of what Pastor Ken discussed this morning, but I want to share what I heard from him this evening.

This morning was the third Sunday in Advent....the candle of joy was lit today. I love that word....joy....if I had been so blessed as to have had 5 more children (the 5th being a girl), her name very likely would be Joy (remember my children are sort of alphabetical...read What's In A Name post for more details). Anyhoo the subject this morning was... Give More....remember we are embracing a Simple Christmas at our church....Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All. Pastor Ken spoke about the fact that we are commanded, in scripture, to have joy in our hearts (I'll post the scriptures he used after I find the exact ones....I don't want to post the incorrect scripture). Being happy is different than experiencing joy....I read this a few weeks ago when I was leading a lesson on prayer in my adult SS class. I read that God doesn't promise you happiness.....that is determined by circumstance....but that He does promise you everlasting joy in a relationship with Him. Pastor Ken talked about how giving the perfect gift, this Christmas, can bring you joy and also bring the Lord joy. The gift can be in a "giving back" sort of way or a really well thought out and intentional gift that may really touch someone's heart, soul and be just what they needed. We don't need a lot of "stuff" to make us happy or to bring us joy, and we don't need to be on the receiving end; but we can feel so much joy by giving. Hallelujiah! Amen!

The next part of this post is not actually part of his sermon, because it didn't happen this morning in worship. I attended a leadership dinner tonight at church to discuss different ministries and committees and the church's focus for the next year. What Ken said tonight was very impactful to me, because I have experienced (on the negative side) some of what he said. When Ken became our pastor and began leading our church.....great things started to happen....it became OUR church, not the pastor's church, but OUR(the congregation's) church. He had one rule when he became our leader...."God doesn't wake you up in the middle of the night with an idea for a new ministry to have me implement it." He told the entire congregation that if you had an idea for outreach or ministry, that he would support you in anyway he could; but it was your baby so nurture it and get it going. Tonight at the dinner....he told us all that he now has another rule...."It's all about the relationships. The relationships between you and God, and the relationships between you and others." I loved this, and I am so much in agreement with this frame of mind. I have been on committees in the past where the human relationships were not there, in fact, there were some very hostile relationships. This affected how that particular task was carried out, the end result and in turn it probably affected some of the leaders' relationships with their Lord. I am going to embrace Ken's "new" rule in my everyday life, as I already intentionally try to do, and in my "leadership" role in the church. It's all about the relationship.....Jesus craves for, longs for, and is waiting for relationship with each and every person on this planet. He loves us more than we can imagine, and He wants to have a relationship with you. Imagine if we all tried to embrace Ken's rule.....wouldn't the world be a much more peaceful and loving place? I know it would.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Letter to Relatives and Friends.....from Cal!

This letter was not actually written by Cal, but it is from an autistic child's perspective!! Thanks FXS Mom for sharing!
HOLIDAY LETTER TO RELATIVES TO PROVIDE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR CHILD AND AUTISM
“Dear Family and Friends:”
This was written for the purpose of it being sent to relatives, friends, and hosts of holiday gatherings that might need a crash course in what to expect from their guest with autism. This letter is written as if the autistic individual person is writing it personally.
Dear Family and Friends:
I understand that we will be visiting each other for the holidays this year! Sometimes these visits can be very hard for me, but here is some information that might help our visit to be more successful. As you probably know, a hidden disability called autism, or what some people refer to as a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), challenges me. Autism/PDD is a neurodevelopment disorder, which makes it hard for me to understand the environment around me. I have barriers in my brain that you can’t see, but which make it difficult for me to adapt to my surroundings.
Thanksgiving & Christmas are some of the roughest holidays for me. With large crowds and holiday shopping it can be very overwhelming, even a bit scary. When planning a party remember that with my over sensitive hearing and eye sight, Christmas trees and holiday smells can cause me mild to severe pain or discomfort. If the noises are impossible to control a personal stereo with headphones set to a safe level for children may help drown out background noise and ease my discomfort.
Sometimes I may seem rude and abrupt, but it is only that because I have to try so hard to understand people and at the same time, make myself understood. People with autism have different abilities: some may not speak, some write beautiful poetry, others are whizzes in math (Albert Einstein was thought to be autistic), or may have difficulty making friends. We are all different and need various degrees of support.
Sometimes when I am touched unexpectedly, it might feel painful and make me want to run away. I get easily frustrated too. Being with lots of other people is like standing next to a moving freight train and trying to decide how and when to jump aboard. I feel frightened and confused a lot of the time. This is why I need to have things the same as much as possible. Once I learn how things happen, I can get by OK. But if something, anything, changes, then I have to relearn the situation all over again! It is very hard.
When you try to talk to me, I often can’t understand what you say because there is a lot of distraction around. I have to concentrate very hard to hear and understand one thing at a time. You might think I am ignoring you-I am not. Rather, I am hearing everything and not knowing what is most important to respond to.
Holidays are exceptionally hard because there are so many different people, places, and things going on that are out of my ordinary realm. This may be fun and adventurous for most people, but for me, it’s very hard work and can be extremely stressful. I often have to get away from all the commotion to calm down. It would be great if you had a private place set up to where I could retreat.
If I cannot sit at the meal table, do not think I am misbehaving or that my parents have no control over me. Sitting in one place for even five minutes is often impossible for me. I feel so antsy and overwhelmed by all the smells, sounds, and people–I just have to get up and move about. Please don’t hold up your meal for me–go on without me, and my parents will handle the situation the best way they know how.
Eating in general is hard for me. If you understand that autism is a sensory processing disorder, it’s no wonder eating is a problem! Think of all the senses involved with eating. Sight, smell, taste, touch, AND all the complicated mechanics that are involved. Chewing and swallowing is something that a lot of people with autism have trouble with. I am not being picky-I literally cannot eat certain foods as my sensory system and/or oral motor coordination is impaired. Don’t be disappointed if Mom hasn’t dressed me in starch and bows. It’s because she knows how much stiff and frilly clothes can drive me buggy! I have to feel comfortable in my clothes or I will just be miserable. When I go to someone else’s house, I may appear bossy and controlling. In a sense, I am being controlling, because that is how I try to fit into the world around me (which is so hard to figure out!) Things have to be done in a way I am familiar with or else I might get confused and frustrated. It doesn’t mean you have to change the way you are doing things–just please be patient with me, and understanding of how I have to cope. Mom and Dad have no control over how my autism makes me feel inside. People with autism often have little things that they do to help themselves feel more comfortable. The grown ups call it “self regulation,” or “stimming’. I might rock, hum, flick my fingers, or any number of different things (Cal flaps his hands and hits himself on the back of the neck with his towel that he carries). I am not trying to be disruptive or weird. Again, I am doing what I have to do for my brain to adapt to your world. Sometimes I cannot stop myself from talking, singing, or doing an activity I enjoy. The grown-ups call this “perseverating” which is kind-a-like self- regulation or stimming. I do this only because I have found something to occupy myself that makes me feel comfortable. Perseverative behaviors are good to a certain degree because they help me calm down.
Please be respectful to my Mom and Dad if they let me “stim” for a while as they know me best and what helps to calm me. Remember that my Mom and Dad have to watch me much more closely than the average child. This is for my own safety, and preservation of your possessions. It hurts my parents’ feelings to be criticized for being over protective, or condemned for not watching me close enough. They are human and have been given an assignment intended for saints. My parents are good people and need your support.
Holidays are filled with sights, sounds, and smells. The average household is turned into a busy, frantic, festive place. Remember that this may be fun for you, but it’s very hard work for me to conform. If I fall apart or act out in a way that you consider socially inappropriate, please remember that I don’t possess the neurological system that is required to follow some social rules. I am a unique person–an interesting person. I will find my place at this celebration that is comfortable for us all, as long as you’ll try to view the world through my eyes!
*Author, Viki Gayhardt

WELCOME TO HOLLAND


I have come across some really good explanations of how to explain Cal, my child with Fragile X/Autism, to people who have had no experience with a special child like him. I am going to share these in the next few posts. This post is an essay type of post, written by Emily Perl Kingsley, which describes how many parents of special needs children feel; and the emotions they experience when they learn of their child's special needs and how they embrace their child and his/her differences. I wanted to share it! I first saw this essay, many years ago, and then I recently read it on the blog entitled Adventures in Holland and on my bloggy friend's, FXS mom,(Fragile What?) blog.

Welcome to Holland
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved


When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Take On Santa...

Let me start this post by saying....if you believe that there is a live and living person named Santa Claus who really and truly lives at The North Pole, makes toys, lives with elves and reindeer, flies all over the world in one night, delivers the gifts, eats the snacks that are left and travels back to The North Pole....read no further. Just move on to another post all together. Also remember that this is MY TAKE on Santa and MY Opinions....you don't have to agree with them, and I hope nobody is offended by this post. Here goes...........
Now for the good stuff....First, my children (all of them....Addi may be wavering) still believe in Santa. Second, I have NEVER told my children that there is indeed a real guy in a red suit who comes down our chimney and delivers toys; and I NEVER will. Third, Santa makes me uncomfortable; and he always has. Fourth, I don't set aside a time to take my children to visit Santa. If a time occurs, and they choose to sit on his lap....so be it; but there is not a scheduled visit each year.
Now for some background info.....as a little girl, I was terrified with a capital T of Santa Claus. Every year, that I can remember, my parents would take me to wait in a really long line to see Santa Claus. Every year, as we approached Mr. Claus, I would become increasingly nervous and oftentimes start to try to explain my way out of seeing Santa. My mom would continue to encourage me as we approached, and I got closer and closer to my turn. I remember as a very little girl.....being really nervous and telling my mom that I didn't want to see Santa. She told me the following in a very loving way...."That's not the REAL Santa, that's just one of Santa's helpers" to try and make me more at ease, but it didn't work. I would always end up in tears, crying and saying loudly "He's not the REAL Santa, He's just a helper" (I guess I thought I was consoling all of the other scared children....whether they were scared or not). I don't think I actually sat on Santa's lap until I was about 8, and although I didn't mind it; I was still not comfortable with the whole idea of Santa. I do remember thinking, when I finally started agreeing to sit on his lap, that I really didn't want to wait in that long line for a 30 second spot to quietly ask him to bring me a gift....honestly I would rather just be playing at home. As a child, I always thought it was a little creepy that this man dressed in a red suit (who had been watching me all year to see if I was naughty or nice) would sneak into my house on Christmas Eve and leave surprises. Now don't get me wrong, I loved seeing what he brought and getting the surprises; but I would have a real hard time going to sleep and often wake up in the night wondering if he was roaming around my house. On Christmas morning even if I woke up before anyone else, I would NEVER get out of my bed until an adult came to get me; because I was afraid I might walk in on Santa. I NEVER wanted to do that.....I mean what would I say? "What's up SC?" What if he disappeared? Would he know I was there and not leave the gifts? Would he be eating the cookies? I really didn't want to know what he was doing, and I really didn't like the thought of this "stranger" (although a perfectly nice man I had been assured) in my house. So you see as far back as I can remember.....Santa freaked me out.
On to my children....I remember contemplating the whole Santa thing when Addi was old enough to really enjoy Christmas. What should I tell her about Santa? I was absolutely NOT going to outright lie and tell her that he had been watching her all year to see if she was naughty or nice, that he really came into our house to leave her surprises, that he and his elves made all those toys, that he really rides in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.....I just wasn't going to do it. I didn't want to lead her down that path.....I wanted her to know that Christmas was about the birth of Christ not about a jolly man with rosy cheeks in a red suit smoking a pipe (smoking....that's a whole other story). HOWEVER I caved to the environment around me, and although I have NEVER EVER EVER told my children that any of the above mentioned things really happen....I have allowed them to believe in the spirit of Santa. Would that be considered lying by omission? Oh Lord....the guilt I feel. I do know that if any of them ever asks me, which as of yet none have, if Santa is real? I will answer with the copout reply of......"What do you think?" If they ever point blank ask me if he is a real person, I will in fact tell them that he is not a real person. Then I will tell them the story of Sinter Klaas or St. Nicholas which is where (I like to believe although some disagree)Santa Claus originated; because this St. Nicholas guy was a real gem. I am okay with telling them his story, because it's a story about giving to others; and I will tell them that I think Santa Claus represents the spirit of giving at Christmas time. In honor of Jesus' birthday.....we are fortunate to receive gifts, but I want them to know that they received the best gift of all when Christ was born. I want them to know that they receive a gift of His grace and mercy and love every single second of every single day. Honestly I have very mixed emotions about Santa....I wish I had never given into the whole Santa thing, and we had just kept it all about the Savior; and I don't like the idea of them thinking that they can ask Santa for anything they want and then be really disappointed when they don't receive it (although this has not happened yet). BUT.....I have to admit I love the look of excitement on their faces and the smiles and laughter when they see what "Santa" has brought them.

Do you ever...?

Does one of your children ever do something that is a pretty constant, ongoing, yet pleasurable occurence, but from time to time it can GET ON YOUR NERVE?

I thought so....Care to share what that may be?

I SEE THE MOON....

Following conversation occured while walking to our car tonight....

Bryna Mae....Is the moon following us?
Drew.....Do you think the moon is following us, or we are following the moon?
Bryna Mae.....It doesn't matter.... I think it's beautiful!

What's In A Name?

I know many many people who really plan, consider and strategize about what to name the precious baby they are expecting; and I know many people who don't. They just like a name, because they just do; hence that is the name of the baby. I know some people who have the baby named before his/her arrival, and some who have to actually see the baby before making a final decision. Then I have even run across a few folks who really had no name, in particular, picked out or couldn't decide even after the baby was born. However parents name their babies is not really important, but I think it's fun to know about how they chose their children's names. So with that being said.....I'm going to tell you how NPayne and I chose names for our little sugars.
When we first started discussing having children, we decided that NPayne would name any boys we had (with my consent of course); and I would name any girls we had (with his consent of course). This was mainly because we both liked several different names for girls and for boys, and we thought it would be fun to do it that way. When we found out we were expecting our first, we didn't know the gender of the baby; so we narrowed down our choices to three names for a girl and three names for a boy. We wrote them down on a little dry erase board and kept it in our closet, so we could see it everyday; and start to get the feel of how the name sounded and looked. We had decided that the middle name would be a name after a friend or relative, no matter what the gender of the baby; and we had chosen names as such. Our sweet little GIRL was born.....this would mean I would choose the name out of the 3 that we had both agreed upon. Guess what.....I just couldn't decide, so NPayne actually chose her name. He chose Addison Jo, which I was completely happy with, because he said she looked like an "Addison." You see my maiden name was Addison, and all of the Addisons are redheads with either pale or sort of a ruddy (which means healthy reddish) complexion. Little did we know that many caucasian babies are sort of ruddy when they are born, nonetheless, her name was Addison. Her middle name came from my best friend, Cynthia, because for as long as I can remember; she has always called me Jo. She started by always saying "Ya Know Jo?" and then just started calling me Jo after that. My first born's name was decided....Addison Jo (Addison means "child of Adam").
Then came our second child, a BOY, and we took our baby naming one step further; he would have a name which was Irish or English due to our heritage. He was actually named before he was born, because we both were HUGE fans of Cal Ripken Jr. at the time (baseball player for you non sports fans). We had decided we loved the name Cal, but I wanted his middle name to be Leigh... because my grandfather's middle name was Lee, and one of NPayne's lifelong friend's names was Leigh; so we went with Leigh. I didn't think Cal Leigh flowed off of the tongue well, so I started doing some research and discovered the name Callahan (Irish in origin which means "little bright headed one-devotee of the church"). How appropriate that was going to be, although at the time we chose his name he was still in my womb; Cal was a tow head and is still very blonde.....and his second home is our church. In turn I actually named the BOY, so our theory of NPayne naming boys; and me naming girls was turning out backwards. .. but we were okay with that. Our second child was named, Callahan Leigh (doesn't that flow off the tongue much better?). Then our third little blessing came along, and she was a SURPRISE in every sense of the word; because we weren't expecting to have another just yet, and we chose to be surprised at the gender of this child. This time we only had one girl name picked out and one boy name picked out....we both had agreed on the name Drew for a girl. When I was teaching kindergarten, right out of college, I had a wonderful wonderful friend named Ann (who taught PE). I just loved her so much, and she had a beautiful sweet little girl named Drew. I fell in love with them both from the first time that I met them. When I had Addison, Drew was one of the names on our girl list; and I had asked Ann if she minded if we use that name at some point (because I loved the uniqueness of the name, and I loved her daughter). She was thrilled. Ann passed away, from breast cancer, just a few short years after we had met leaving behind her husband and her sweet 3 children (Drew being her youngest). My Drew's name was decided long before her actual existence. Her middle name is Michelle which comes from two of my lifelong friends (one having the first name of Michelle and one having the middle name of Michelle) and our niece who is also named Michelle. Drew is from English origin (it actually means "manly" which is fairly appropriate for my little tomboy). So our third little sugar is named Drew Michelle (Michelle means "who is like God"). Then came our fourth baby, and her name has a very significant meaning. We actually knew the gender of this baby; because we had thought that we probably wouldn't have anymore babies. We needed to make room for this little one in our home, so in turn....we were going to have to clear out some stuff. If the baby was a girl.....goodbye to all of the bins and bins of little boy clothes. If the baby was a boy.....goodbye to all of the bins and bins of little girl clothes. Because I was over 35 at the impending birth of this baby, I went in to have level 2 sonograms every so often; and it was very OBVIOUS that the baby was a girl. I had been contemplating the name from conception and had decided that I wanted it to start with a B, because my other three started with A, C, D; so I wanted to fill in with a B. Once we found out she was a girl, we decided on Mae as her middle name; because both NPayne's and my grandmothers' middle names were Mae. I remember learning that they shared the same middle name at NPayne's grandmother's funeral, and I thought it was nice that these two women who were so instrumental in our lives shared a middle name. We had it narrowed down to a few B names.....when lo and behold I went into labor at 36 weeks. This was not too alarming, since Drew had been also been born completely healthy at 36 weeks. However that wasn't the case with B. She ended up having very sick lungs and had to be intibated and spend some time in the NICU (Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit). All I could focus on was praying for the well being of my newborn baby girl. Everytime they would ask me what we were going to name her, I just couldn't decide. I couldn't even remember the meanings of the names that we were deciding between, so I decided to ask A, C, D which name they liked best. Addi and Drew both chose Bryna. Cal......well he kept saying all of the names. That night, I asked NPayne to print out and bring the names and their meanings (to the hospital) before we officially gave her that name. He brought them in, and I read Bryna (origin Irish.....meaning Strong One or Hope). I knew immediately that her sweet little sisters had made the right choice, so her name is Bryna Mae. Then came our last sugar, and she was also a SURPRISE (more on her story in another post); but a very welcome surprise. Since we now had A, B, C, D.....well you know....we had to have E, so once again the research began. Her name Elliot....is Irish in origin and means "The Lord Is My God." When I write the Story of Elliot post (coming soon), you will see why that name was the one we favored. Her middle name is Ann....Ann has many special meanings to me....it is my best friend Cynthia's middle name, it is my cousin (who is like a sister to me) Julie's middle name, and it was my friend's name (who had Drew and had long since passed away but will always have a special place in my heart). Ann also means "full of grace, gracious, merciful"....very intentional on our choosing. Our 4th girl and 5th child is Elliot Ann.
So there you have it.....our child naming criteria. Let me summarize (if you're already bored or not interested, quit reading here).....we prefer Irish/English/Gaelic in origin (for their first, middle or both of their names). Their middle names are after someone we love, admire, respect and have a very special place in our hearts. Their first, middle, or both names must have some sort of spiritual meaning. It may sound complicated, and for very low maintenance people like NPayne and myself, you would think it is; but actually we have enjoyed choosing their names with such an err of importance, substance, and personal meaning. It's funny too, because NPayne has said that each of children really become the name that we have chosen for them which is so true. We didn't know that at the time the names were chosen, but GOD did; and so His nudge was very evident in this wonderful gift of naming our children.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

B-Nut's Special Day....of course she's special every day!

I absolutely LOVE, I mean ADORE, my children's preschool. It happens to be at our church, which I also LOVE and ADORE. All 5 of my children have attended, and I have taught there (off and on and between birthing babies); since my Addi Jo (age 11) was 18 months old. This year, B-Nut and Elli-oooo both attend; and I work one day/week there. B-Nut is in the actual preschool while Elli-oooo attends the Mother's Day Out program. This will be B-Nut's last year to attend, as she will starting kindergarten next year. At our preschool, they have what is called A SPECIAL DAY. This is a day, not necessarily around their birthday, that is chosen by their teacher to honor that particular child. Yesterday was B's SPECIAL DAY. On this day, the child being honored gets to do many super things that the teacher plans out. In B's class, her teacher Ms. Peggy, makes this the most fabulous and special honor for the child; and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. Let me preface this by telling you that B knew her special day crown was going to be pink....the child gets to choose the color, so she requested to wear something pink and to wear her hair in such a way that "the special day crown will fit comfortably." She also gets to choose a snack to bring to share with the class and a special book. B, was torn between bringing cupcakes or donuts, but since the snack is at 9:30; we really encouraged her to bring donuts. I know.....I know.....both are loaded with sugar, but somehow I feel better about giving the children a sugar buzz off of glazed donuts rather than cupcakes. Ms. Peggy gives the Special Day Child a gift, that she has found in nature, in other words a true gift from God. This is B opening the box.

In the box was a beautiful sparkly rock that Ms. Peggy had found when she was visiting a river. The child shows everyone in the class and then puts it in the nature center for everyone to enjoy for a few days before returning it to nature.
Parents are invited to come and celebrate in the morning. Ms. Peggy really likes daddys to come. This is me and B, in her pink crown.
Here are B and Ms. Peggy...her wonderful teacher. Ms. Peggy was also Addi Jo's and Drew's teacher.
Here is NPayne reading the special story that B chose to bring to school to share. She chose to bring Dream Snow by Eric Carle. It's a fabulous book.
B also gets to be the leader and the weather/calendar girl for the day. She gets to use her "Weather Girl" voice and use the microphone.
Here is the class playing a game.
B also got to be the drummer, in the class band, and choose the songs to sing and play. She chose "Twinkle Twinkle" and "Jingle Bells."
Here is the class band in action.
Here is my very special Bryna....she is special every single minute of every single day!
There's the very honorable SPECIAL DAY CHAIR!
WOW....Was that fun or what? We are so blessed to be a part of such a special school with such special people, and I can honestly say that besides being a mama; working there is the best job in the whole world.