Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Praying for Stellan with RSV.

Mck Mama's baby Stellan is in the hospital with RSV. Right now he's on the edge of being intubated. You can read all about it on MckMama's blog and offer this young mom some support, encouraging words and prayers.

As I read Mck Mama's updates, it reminds me of many times that one or more of my babies has been in the hospital over the years. All the emotions, fears, worries, waiting for things to improve, all the memories all come flooding back to me and I have such sympathy for her in this situation. In fact, it was just a year ago that my little Izaak was in the hospital with RSV.

Here's my walk down memory lane with Iz (pronounced "eyes") from Jan. 3-7, 2008.

Sleeping babies always melt my heart, but when you're standing there watching them fight for breath the fear can be almost overwhelming.

Six month olds do not appreciate the benefit of nasal canulas. Iz was constantly pushing it up or pulling it down into his mouth, or chewing on the tubing, or pulling at the tapes.

This is the giraffe that Grandma and Grandpa brought him. He still loves "Raffi" and sleeps with him every night and nap.

I do think that glowing toes are cute! I don't know why this intrigues me so much, but I really would like to know how a glowing red light can tell a machine how much oxygen is in a body's blood. Amazing! And cute on tiny toes.

All set to go home, on oxygen for a few more weeks, but going HOME!

Praying that baby Stellan gets to go home soon. Love and hugs to Mck Mama.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Time is Short.

Ten days.

Ten short days.

Ten days left until my niece's due date. It could be any day. And then, it's time to say goodbye. A few weeks ago we were working on baby Mason's memorial scrapbook. She was 35 weeks pregnant at the time. And, it struck me, HARD, when she said, "Five weeks just isn't enough time." It's not enough time to say goodbye. It's never going to be enough time. There's no way you can actually be prepared to say goodbye to your baby. Soon the day will come. Too soon.

Our plan last year was to visit my husband's family this week to ring in the new year with them. I sent them off yesterday. I stayed home. I need to be here "if" Mason comes. I couldn't be 13 hours away. I will work on the album for Mason while they are gone, while I wait. If Mason comes, I'll be here. If not, I'll have time alone to work, to document and celebrate his very short life, to make his life real and meaningful.

My niece is young, but she has found such great faith in God these past 4 months. She constantly amazes me with her maturity and faith. God has chosen to give Mason to her for a purpose, and if nothing else, it has been to draw her and her fiance to Himself through Mason's life. That is enough. But it is SO hard. Hard to accept. Hard to understand. Hard to let go.

Time is short. Too short.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas to All! And to All a Good Night!

It's over. All the planning, decorating, buying, traditions, opening, eating. It's all done. The house is once again quiet as everyone sleeps. And I sit by the lighted tree and I ask myself, "Was it worth it? Did we honor Jesus today?" In some ways, yes. In some ways, probably not. But it's done and there's a sense of completion and contentment, and I know I've been blessed beyond measure.

So, before I close my eyes tonight, let me just say once more...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Tradition #2 ~ Tree Hunt.

This tradition begins just after this year's ends. That's because it begins by saving change; pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. We use cash throughout the year and any and almost all change is collected in a quart-sized Mason jar on Mom and Dad's dresser. When Dad empties his pockets, the change goes in. When the ashtray in the van is full of coins, they all go in. When the kids are fined for misbehaving, it all goes in. When Mom's change purse is full, it all goes in. When the jar is full (which happens about 4 times/year), it gets taken into the bank and deposited into a savings account set aside for this one purpose. Doesn't sound like tree hunting yet, does it?

Well, when all that change has been collected, and it's nearly Christmastime, Dad books a reservation up in the mountains during one of the first 2 weekends in December. Then we head up on a Friday night, have dinner and watch movies, sleep, swim and occasionally go tubing or something fun.

On Saturday afternoon we go to the National Forest and get all bundled up within an inch of our lives and hike into the hills with one purpose in mind:
find the best looking tree that God grew all by Himself in the quiet stillness of the snow covered mountains. And, cut her down!!! Drag her back to the car, tie her up on top and, if we're really lucky (read: found a tree fast), we stop in to see Smokey the Bear for a picture.

To round out this tradition, we have to stop in town to take off the chains, change out of our wet clothes, and find someplace to get a good cup of hot chocolate. Then we head home, which is a good time for tuckered kids to nap and Mom and Dad get a little quiet conversation and hand holding!

As it happened this year, our tree tried to blow off of the roof of the van. When that happened the naps ended in trauma of having very cold wind fill the car while Mom and Dad worked quickly to get the tree tied back on top. Somehow, this inspired the children to name the tree. Eva. And I have this odd feeling that naming the tree will become a new part of this old tradition.

In the last 14 Christmases, we have missed exactly 3 years. The first time we had twin boys in the NICU and Mom couldn't leave them for even a day to go cut the tree. We bought a dead tree that year, yuck! And we promised ourselves we wouldn't do that again if we could help it. The second time was the year we lived in Manila, Philippines. They don't grow pines in the Philippines and we resorted to buying a cheap, artificial tree. Didn't like that much, but we didn't have a choice! The third time was last year. The baby was 6 months old and the weather for both weekends was stormy and horrible. I had taken our oldest baby at only 3 months of age, but the weather had cooperated. So, we tried to make a day of going to the store and "hunting" for a tree and decorating it. It just wasn't the same and the kids let us know in no uncertain terms that Tree Hunting is their favorite tradition. From here on, only the direst of circumstances will prevent us from our traditional tree hunt weekend!

All that change we collect all year round helps to fund the excursion. But the coolest thing about that is that we get to remember last year and dream of the next with every drop of coins and every deposit! And that makes the fun last all year long!

Christmas Tradition #1 ~ Shoebox Christmas.

Our family Christmas tradtitions begin each year just before Thanksgiving when we gather boxes from our church's "Shoebox Christmas" stacks. You can see pictures of it here.

This tradition is all about teaching our kids that it's not all about them. What it is about is sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others and recognizing that God sent us the most precious gift in His son and we are to share that gift in anyway posible, using words if necessary. So, when the 1000 shoeboxes show up at church, all tagged with genders and ages of children that need gifts either in Mexico or the Navajo Nation, we gather up one for each child in our family, including one for the 3 babies we have sent on to heaven.

Then we pick an evening to shop the dollar store. The older kids fill their boxes with things they think they would like to receive. Mom and Dad help the younger ones to fill their boxes and Mom fills the one to represent our heavenly babies. Toys, candy, toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, crayons and coloring books. The kids have a lot of fun with it, thinking and dreaming for the children that will receive these gifts.

After purchasing all the loot, we head home to sort it all out, fit it all into the boxes and divide some things that inevitably need divided among the boxes. Tape them shut, wrap them and label them. Then we wait for "Shoebox Sunday" when we will carry them back to church and down the aisle to the front where our 6 boxes will join with hundreds of other boxes to build a wall across the platform. And when you see all those boxes stacked up and you think of each life that will be impacted by the love of Jesus, well, it's awe-inspiring!

And let's not forget 2 very important aspects of this tradition. First, that at some point in the process we pray for the recipients of our boxes, that they will be blessed and that the love of Jesus will change their lives. And secondly, that hearing the report back from the people who deliver the boxes is also a large part of the blessing of this tradition, especially when you hear of Border Patrol Officers that will not allow the boxes to pass into Mexico who suddenly have a change of heart. Or of the moment when the backhoe was needed that moments later one was driving down the road and all the operator asked in return was to visit a doctor on the medical team that accompanied the gifts. Or how the backhoe driver's assistant listened to the team pray for his boss and made a decision to ask Jesus to be his Savior! Now THAT'S what Christmas is all about!

"Not Me!" Monday

That's right! It's that time of week when we get a little "therapy" from admitting all those embarrassing things we did under the guise of "Not ME!" If you've never joined in the fun, click the button above and swing on over to Mck Mama's blog and read all about it!

Where do I begin?

This past week, I was not clueless enough to miss that we still had choir, though our Christmas concert was done. And after completely missing the Sunday morning sound check, and telling several people that I would be up there during the service after lighting the Advent Candles with my family, I did not completely forget to take my seat in the choir loft and return to the pew with my family. No sir, not me!

I was not also completely uninformed and clueless about the "Section Leaders" dinner a few days later, to the point where I did not even know a thing about it until the morning of. For heaven's sake, I'm a section leader! I'm responsible and "in the know" about things like this! That was definitely, not me!

I did not dye my hair black and purple this week. And you cannot see it if you click the picture of me in the "Christmas Traditions..." post below. I'm a mother of five who is not pushing 40, and I would never be wild. Furthermore, I do not absolutely LOVE it! Nope, not me!

While trying to text my BFF's daughter about ditching school (with her mother's permission) I did not inadvertantly text a stranger because I had forgotten to put the new number in my phone when the family moved here from Florida 6 months ago. That stranger did NOT call me and ask if I had met him while he was drunk! And my friends did not tease me mercilessly about my new drinking boyfriend all weekend! Holy moly! I might never live that down so it was definitely not me!

Last night while at a neighbor's house, after dinner I did not let a "Silent, but Deadly" toot and not claim it! And I was not relieved when several minutes later when our children smelled it my neighbor claimed to have let it! And, I'm sure it was not me who claimed the first stink when my neighbor denied that she had started it! LOL!! I would be way to embarrassed to admit that so it was NOT ME!

And if you think you just read anything on my blog about "Silent, but Deadly" toots, you could not have read that here. I wouldn't blog about that, not me!!!

I'd love to hear what you haven't done this week!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Tradition #5 ~ Jingle Bell Sunday!

(note: I'm hoping to blog our favorite (top 10) Christmas traditions. I'm starting with #5 because it happened today and I will try to go back and fill in the ones that have already happened.)

Jingle Bell Sunday!

This is the day when all of the pre-school kids at church, birth to Kindy, parade around and through the sanctuary to the music of "Come on! Ring Those Bells!" while they ring their jingle bells. This year was our 13th year in a row to participate!

I love this tradition at our church! It just strikes me as this beautiful, simple, charming and sometimes hilariously funny way to involve these tiny ones in the worship service. And it ain't a bad way to show off your precious babies to your friends either! ;)

There's just something magical about the sound of hundreds of jingling bells and the looks on the faces of the children as they get excited and/or forget to jingle their bells! It warms the heart. I enjoy every minute of it and cherish it closely in my heart as I know there are only 5 more years until our youngest child outgrows this particular tradition. (now that's a sobering thought)

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Not Me!" Monday.

It's that time of week again. Time to participate in Mck Mama's blog carnival called "Not Me!" Monday, where you can be brutally honest about the things you didn't do and feel better after doing it. Click the button above if you're ready to have some good ole fun!!!

I am not a perfectionist and last week did not really, truly desire to ask my husband to redo the Christmas lights that he had spent all morning putting on the house. I did not tell him so, and I did not let my perfectionism be pushed to the back burner and let him off the hook, nope, not me!

I did not catch my 3 year old playing with a tampon and a panty liner and explain to him the birds and the bees when he asked what they were used for. I did not use my niece as an example of a woman who does not have a period because she has a baby in her tummy. Nope, not me!!!

I did not just post about my period, either, Mck Mama.

I did not go away for the weekend to the mountains to hunt for a Christmas tree and forget to take the one of the 3 key ingredients for grilled cheese sandwiches. That was not me. And I would not blame that on the fact that I have 5 children and can become slightly scatter-brained at times. Not me!!!

I did not, while packing frantically, stop to take about a million pictures of all the snow boots our family wears. I did not line them up a different way before each of those million pictures, that would waste valuable time. I did not take a million pictures trying to get the lighting and composition just right. I certainly did not annoy my husband who came home early from work to help me pack. I do not have the bigest boots in the family. Nope, not me!
I did not take my children swimming outdoors while it was snowing. I did not let my 17 month old baby play in the snow in his bathing suit while standing in a puddle of warm water. I did not allow him to sit in his floatie in the hot tub. Nor did I allow my children to throw snow in the hot tub to cool it off just a bit. That's silly, it's WINTER. It could not have been me!

My son did not ask me if he could have "that" while pointing to my chest this evening. He did not unzip his jammies to point to his own chest to try to make me understand. And when I realized, finally, that he was talking about my cleavage, I did NOT squish his chest together to give him cleavage of his own! My daughter and I did NOT laugh hysterically over the whole incident! No, that was most certainly, not us, and definitely NOT ME!!!

I hope you have some fun of your own! That was refreshing!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Blessing.

In loving memory of Niles Edward Haworth, Jr.
5/10/41 - 12/12/05

Years ago my father read the book, "The Blessing" by John Trent and Gary Smalley. I knew it effected his life, but not until 3 years ago today did I realize how much.

On this date, December 12, 2005 my father suddenly, unexpectedly died. He was out doing yard work and getting his garage ready to make wooden puzzles for his 3 new grandchildren. His wife called him at 5 o'clock to tell him she would be home shortly. He told her he wanted to quickly finish what he was doing before it got too cold. Less than 10 minutes later when she pulled around the corner to their home she saw him sprawled out on the driveway. She ran to him and tried to rouse him, but he breathed about 3 more times and was gone.

Earlier that summer, Dad had told me that he had a spiritual connection to his wife. Each morning when she was getting ready for work, he said, he slept right through, but when she pulled the door closed he instantly woke. He said it was like his spirit knew she had departed the house.

I believe that his spirit waited to depart his body until his wife was present.

That morning he had called my sister, more than half the nation away. She had recently had a baby and he hadn't yet seen pictures. He spent more than an hour on the phone with her talking and looking at pictures of his newborn grandson online.

The week before his death he was coming home from where he worked in Branson, Missouri and he made a point to stop by each of his aging relatives' homes, including his father, "because you never know when you won't see them again." He had stopped and talked with each one and taken pictures.

Three days before he died, he called me. At the time our family was living in Manila, Philippines. I remember distinctly that we talked, he talked to each of the children and after that he got back on the line with me. He told me he loved me. He told me he was proud of me and the way I was raising my family. And we said goodbye, like the kind of goodbye when you'll talk again next week or tomorrow if you want.

In that conversation my dad gave me "The Blessing". He had no way of knowing what was to come. There were no signs, no illness. But he made sure I knew of his love. And in that he could not have given me a better gift. For the rest of my life I will carry around the blessing he gave me. He could very well have left me wondering. He could very well have left things unsaid. He could have left me with the burden of past hurts. But, he chose, consciously, to bless me. What a precious gift that is to me.

My dad was not the perfect father, far from it. His faults and mistakes far outweighed his good points, and he had accepted that. But in the last years he strove to be better, do better, and love more. And he lived those years making ready for a day he knew would come but didn't know when. At the very end of his life he succeeded. He went out with a blessing and I am sure he received his blessing from Jesus Himself when he heard Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"

Thank you Dad for loving me, and telling me so. I will try to give the same blessing to my children. I miss you and your long, boring, corny jokes. I miss talking to you each week. I love you. Hugs Jesus for me, and my babies. Love, Karina

Friday Fives.

Five things I'm thankful for...
1. Beautiful older women who become "Grandmas" to my children. Who come with us on outings to help out and have fun!

2. The song "A Baby Changes Everything" because it's true. Jesus changed everything and he still uses babies to change everything. I can tell you my babies have each changed everything in my life, and deepened my relationship with God. And I know that baby Mason is changing everything for his parents and family. Truly, God uses the foolish things of this world to humble the wise.

3. For family traditions that build togetherness and allow us to share Jesus with our children.

4. That gas prices have gone down, down, down to where we can afford to go places again.

5. For a husband that, after all these years (16+), still likes to hold me and kiss me!

Five things I'm in prayer for...
1. My niece and her fiance to be able to hold baby Mason while his heart still beats. And everything, everything surrounding his birth! Tag on here that I'm thankful for String of Pearls.

2. Three marriages.

3. For my dear daughter, that as she enters puberty I will be able to guide her into a healthy, holy view of herself, boys and her relationships with them, and that she will see God's design in our marriage, but also in how He is love and that love as He designed it is a holy sacrament, pleasing to Him not against Him.

4. Identical twin girls in Cambodia.

5. Our nation and God's people in our nation to stand up for their beliefs and in their faith, and not let the religious freedoms our forefathers fought for be gradually stripped away by the minority of unbelievers.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Easy Come Pie. Easy Go Pie.

Our Christmas shopping began today. The kids drew names and I took them out one by one to shop. We were having a really good time during the second outing when I remembered that I had signed up to bring triple berry pie to our Sunday School Christmas party this evening.

I called home and asked my wonderful husband to make the pie for me. He's quite handy in the kitchen as a helper when I make pies, so I knew he could do it. I told him the specifics over the phone, a bit of this, a pat of that, and sprinkle of the other. He didn't bat an eyelash but went straight to work.

I got home from the third trip out with just enough time to change, pick a white elephant gift, look up the directions online and run out the door. The house smelled delicious! And, trusted that all was well from that and the fact that my husband was proud of himself, but I never saw the pie. That is, not until he was putting it into the car.

I stopped.

Oh NO! What did you bake the pie in???

On closer inspection my worst fears (for the pie) were realized. Many years ago, when my big kids were little, I attended a "MOPS" group. One of our crafts had been to decorate a terra cotta plate with craft paint and "modge podge" over the whole thing to protect it from scratches. It was strictly decorative. And, being as I don't have a place to display decorative plates I stored it with my pie plates, that's where it fit. It was this plate in which my poor, unknowing husband chose to bake his lovely pie.

My neighbor and I discussed it and decided the pie was a complete loss, much to everyone's dismay. My husband was especially disappointed because he was anxious to show off his work (it really was a beautiful pie!) and gain brownie points with the ladies and bragging rights among the men. But at the risk of poisoning everyone, there was nothing we could do but go to the grocery store and buy an inferior substitute.

It's not very easy to throw an entire pie down the disposal. And, most especially not one that you dearest husband made all by himself.

Tonight I have to get to bed, but I'll edit tomorrow night to add the pictures I took of the beautiful Triple Berry Pie a la Disposal. :(

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Fives.

Five things I am thankful for:
1. That my husband has a job in this crazy economy.

2. That my children are healthy and happy and innocent, and that I do not have to make life and death decisions concerning them on a regular basis.

3. Friends that I can count on in any situation.

4. The healing of past hurts through God's design.

5. That God forgives and forgives and forgives.

Five things I am in prayer for:
1. My niece who does face life and death decisions for her son on a regular basis.

2. Three marriages of my friends that need healing.

3. My friend who was diagnosed with Minear's disease. (I don't even know what that is!)

4. For my friends (x6) that are struggling with infertility, early miscarriage, or the total and permanent loss of their fertility.

5. Identical twin girls in Cambodia that I love.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cute Compassion.

Shopping at Sam's yesterday Bug(3) ran his hand along the little ipod cardboards (you know, the ones they have out instead of putting the actual product on the shelf?) and the result was a paper cut. OUCH! It produced enough blood to make a red line at the site of the cut, but Bug would not be consoled until he got a band-aid. Thankfully he did not insist that it had to be a Curious George band-aid.

We waited in line for several minutes at the customer service desk and he cried the whole time, facing away from Buzz(17mo). At one point I noticed Buzz. He was looking at his big brother trying see what the trouble was. I showed him Bug's owie. He got it. He started patting Bug on the back and trying to hug him. He also wanted to kiss it, but Bug would have nothing to do with that! But still, Buzz tried to make his big brother feel better and ease his pain. He even rubbed Bug's head. SO adorable!

I revelled in that precious moment, knowing that at any instant hugging and loving can turn to biting and screaming!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Another Awesome Cause.

Mck Mama is having an awesome raffle/contest. This one has a humdinger of a prize (A Canon Rebel SLR camera, with zoom lens, designer bag, and designer strap) And it's all to benefit "String of Pearls" , along with 2 other charities.

You can click the button below to go see what it's all about, and I'll be adding the button to my sidebar.

Those of you who know me know how directly and personally this effects me. I showed the contest to my niece today and she was VERY touched by the thought of people donating to String of Pearls. She brought over her SOP Keepsake box today to show me what they had given her. I was impressed and touched by the things in that box. Things that my niece will cherish forever, and things that will help her through the first days, weeks and months. You can bet that I'll be donating, but I want you to know, that if I win that camera I will be giving it to my niece, because it would arrive just in time for her to learn to take pictures of Baby Mason. You can read more about my niece here and here.