Giving Thanks (inspired by)


Thanks be to God, Father, Son and Spirit, for the abundance of good things he pours on His children.
We are but few, but His blessings are many.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

too much christmas?

video

After a hard day of "work," Marcus loosened his tie and relaxed....

I hope everyone else finds time to take it easy like this!
Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

For the Grandparents....

For those of you who cannot make the kids first Christmas program- here is a taste of it! Really this gives you a front row seat to what I am sure will be a much more lively performance than the actual program in front of ALL those people! They are starting to get nervous- and I would not be surprised if Lorraine gets another canker sore about it! And Seth, though he likes to sing with the girls, was too shy even for my camera at home- I really don't see him getting up front at church!


video video

Still a few quirks to work out- keep practicing kiddos!

Advent-ures!

What a busy week!
Friday we had some of our friends stay after the moms group and for lunch- what fun! By the way, eight kids sure feels like a lot when you're not used to it! Feeding them lunch sure was a feat! Perhaps this is how "normal" people feel when they watch all four of my kids!?



Lorraine, Agnes and Seth are busy practicing for the Christmas Eve children's service. Performing seems intuitive to them- during one of their "rehearsals" in the girls bedroom they took all the robes off of the coat hanger and used it as a microphone stand!


I am so glad to be done with my baking marathon- most of the treats have been delivered! Of course I got done just in time to spend a day sitting under sick kids- today was one of those days! Lorraine threw up in the morning, and the others were whiney and off all day today- I think they are fighting it too. Marcus was CRAZY hyper, so I was very thankful for "Aunt Mary Anne" who took him to play at her house all day long!


We are all getting so very excited for Christmas! We can't wait to experience our first "White Creek" Christmas services. My family will be down for the weekend, and Josh's next week- weather permitting of course! My mom said it was so bad in MI this week they had to call the plows off the roads! Weird to think of all that snow when we can still see the grass here. And it is supposed to be 53 this weekend! Maybe I should ask my mom to bring a bag of snow in a cooler just so the kids don't forget what it looks like!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Speaking of dissonance

This is my favorite hymn this Christmas.


What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?

Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the king,

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;

Haste, haste to bring him laud,

The babe, the son of Mary!


Have you ever heard the second verse to this song?


Why lies he is such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?

Good Christian, fear; for sinners here

The silent word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce him through,

The cross he borne for me, for you;

Hail, hail the word made flesh,

The babe, the son of Mary!


Those violent and dark images completely interrupt our cuddly mental pictures of baby Jesus...

Or is it the light of Jesus that interrupts the darkness?


So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh;

Come, peasant, king, to own him.

The King of kings salvation brings;

Let loving hearts enthrone him.

Raise, raise the song on high,

The virgin sings her lullaby;

Joy, joy, for Christ is born,

The babe, the son of Mary!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Dissonance

As I am writing this, the kids are jamming to Christmas carols in the bedroom. Lorraine has vowed to wear the Santa hat I bought her all day long. She is still excited from our Christmas shopping extravaganza last week. We skipped in and out of 5 stores buying gifts and baking supplies, just the two of us. Her wide-eyed excitement is absolutely contagious!


As we pulled into the parking lot of Hobby Lobby (our most favorite store,) I got a call from Josh who was at home with the other kids. Apparently Aggie had a seizure while climbing on the bunk bed and fell straight back from the top. She was still having the seizure after she fell, so for several minutes she just laid there unaware of any pain at all. Both of the little boys knew this was NOT normal and were making a huge fuss about it. It took her about a half hour to really notice her aches and pains, and she spent the rest of the night snuggling daddy on the couch. As Josh and I talked about this, the familiar ache in my heart for Aggie returned, and the laundry list of worries I have for her future began to replay in my head. (She was a little bruised but otherwise just fine the next day.)


I slowly closed the phone and looked at the giddy toddler sitting next to me. “OH mommy I see more Christmas lights in Hobby Lobby! Are you ready? Let's go let's go let's go!”


How does one jump from that phone call back into the joy of Christmas shopping? I was startled by the dissonance I felt, the conflict between the joy of Christmas preparation and the pain that cast dark shadows over it all.


I suspect most adults feel this tension during the holidays. We sense the dissonance between the apparent holiday joy and bliss in every store and every Christmas song, and the feelings of fear, grief, or sadness that we wrestle with in our secret hearts. The festivities of this time of year can make the sorrows seem even deeper, the loneliness even more lonely.


Glitter and bells are out of place, and sometimes downright annoying when paraded in front of our pain. How can we be expected to sparkle with JOY when we all we can see is the huge hole where a loved one used to be? How do we hold on to HOPE when we see sickness in the sunken eyes of our own child?


Christians have always been people acquainted with grief, people whose hearts are sometimes torn with this conflict, yet the church has stubbornly and enthusiastically celebrated Christmas in the darkness year after year. God gave us His very own Son, and we see the nearness of God even in this place of pain. Our God does not stand far away, merely cheering us on through the darkness, He comes to dwell with us right in the middle of it.


This time of year, we are surrounded with tangible reminders of the hope we have because God is with us. Candles flicker and we sing praises to the Light that has come into the world. Bells ring with joy as we remember promises made and fulfilled in Jesus. Glitter sparkles on angel wings and we look forward to the blessings to come when our Lord returns.


We dwell in darkness, but the love of Him who sent His Son shines brightly. And so this year, like every other year, God's children gather together in the night, lift up their heads, light candles, and sing songs at the top of their voices, testifying to the world that God is indeed with us, and the darkness is passing away.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Advent Thoughts from Pastor Dan

Pastor Dan has been sending out weekly devotions for some time now. I found this one to be especially thought-provoking.

2 Peter 3: 9 "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

I remember Christmas as a child. The four candles on the Advent wreath defined eternity for me. I thought that the four weeks of Advent would last forever and that Christmas would never come. Looking forward to something wonderful can make time stand still. As we wait for the coming of the Lord, our anticipation of eternal life with our Lord may have a similar effect. Our sins are forgiven by Jesus through His death on the cross. We have nothing to fear in eternity, only God’s joy to receive in full measure. With this as our future, it is easy to become impatient for God’s promise to be fulfilled today. But, because of God’s Word I have a different perspective. In a sense, God waited for me, as did His church. When I was baptized my Savior gave me His Holy Spirit and His Saints in light rejoiced along with my congregation, and my parents. And so, it is now my joy to wait with my Savior and with His church for all those who are still to come. This last Saturday I baptized a little girl. My Lord was waiting for her. And as I saw her receive God’s promise in baptism, time has begun to move again, and all too quickly. For, I long with my Lord for all to reach repentance. I can wait for others, for my Lord and His people waited for me. May God’s patient love inspire your faithful witness to Jesus throughout the Advent season. For the blessings that God has given to us, are blessing that he intends for all nations. Pastor Dan Johnson (St. Paul's Hillsdale)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Does anyone have....

Does anyone out there (local) happen to have a bunch of old-fashioned clothes pins laying around or know where I can get some? I have this great craft project to do with the kids but I just can't find them in the stores! I'm looking for the kind with the round tops and no spring (not the alligator looking kind!)

Please email or post if you can help!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Advent begins!

The countdown has started- I just LOVE this time of year! This year we are picking one 'ornament' off our little tree each day until Christmas day. The ornament is a little Scripture verse which we read during devotions, then glue on a train car and post in the kitchen. Yes, I do have a tendency to make things complicated.... (you should see my list of Christmas crafts to do with the kids!) but so far we are having fun with it!

I must say it especially fun to have toddlers this time of year. Especially Lorraine, who shares in the BLISS of every little holiday memory with me. The day after we put up the tree, Lorraine got up before everyone else, got some books about Christmas, and sat by the tree to read them by only the lights of the tree (it was still very dark out.) Yesterday before she came home from school I made sure to turn on every Christmas light in the house AND play Christmas music. When she got home, we made hot chocolate and cuddled on the couch to listen to the lovely music.

In the meantime, Marcus loves stealing ornaments off the tree. So far nobody has eaten any Christmas lights, though Marcus did try to eat a Christmas bulb. Seth loves all the chocolate in the house all the time, and Agnes is a huge fan of rainbow candy canes. Today we finger painted with fake spray snow (I had to mop the floors anyway, so why not?) I do hope we get SOME real snow here in Indiana- the blizzard that came as we were leaving Michigan on monday sure did make everything beautiful up there!

Advent is a time of excitement and anticipation- and toddlers sure know how to live with excitement! Praying everyone reading this gets a taste of this kind of JOY and excitement during this busy season!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Reasons to Give Thanks




Thanks for the great weekend Mom and Dad!
We loved our surprise birthday party!!!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

a season of gratitude

"As parents you may not realize it, but somewhere along the way you tend to take your children into yourself, as if they were really yours. We forget that our children our first of all God's—on loan from us for only a season.” (my father-in-law)


If there is anything I have learned from this ordeal with Aggie so far it is this. Of course on some level we all know this is true, but it is so easy to forget as we live day to day. As I researched epilepsy and began to genuinely fear for Agnes's life, I became painfully aware of this truth again. I realized that God most certainly could take Aggie home to him- and though this would feel like an INJUSTICE beyond anything I could imagine, I would have no ground on which to stand and complain.

It is so easy to let our problems completely block our vision- like a huge black bowling ball one inch from our eyes that completely blocks our vision. Some days I let my worries about Aggie interfere with hundreds of little moments that I could have been enjoying her, making memories with her and the other children, serving and loving those around me. Instead I let fears of the future take hold of my mind- I did not think of my Father who is caring for me today and who has promised to care for me in any kind of future.

These kids of mine sure are good at helping me live in the present. We have been doing a cornucopia and adding things each day that the children are thankful for (the picture above.) I just have to laugh when I look at them: “That you Jesus for wrestle time with daddy.” “Thank you Jesus for my snuggly bed.” “Thank you Jesus for superman PJ's” “Thank you Jesus for doors.”

These kids get the picture better than I do some days! They are learning to see every little thing in their lives, right down to the chocolate milk, as blessings directly from the hand of God. They do not forget that God cares for them- all they have to do is look around!
As Martin Luther asks- who can properly give thanks to God for the blessing of one healthy hand, or one day with air to breathe? Our Father gives these things freely and faithfully, and we forget that they are gifts and see them as entitlements! Then when one thing goes wrong, we throw temper tantrums and doubt God's goodness to us.

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His steadfast love endures forever.

My prayer for all of us this Thanksgiving: May God grant us eyes to see His bountiful blessings that surround us each and every day. May we see the kindness of others, the love of family, the warm turkey and mashed potatoes, and even the very air we breathe as blessings directly from His hand. May He fill our hearts with gratitude for His unfailing love and goodness.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

meds and holidays

A quick Aggie update:
Aggie is most certainly not thankful for her medicine. She must take it twice a day, and the first few doses were torture! She worried about her first dose for at least three hours before she needed it, to the point where she almost made herself sick. Then, the next morning, as she was bringing me the medicine (wailing all the way), she somehow shot a dose of it directly into her eye!

Each does is a little easier, and I am thankful that so far no nasty side effects are showing up. The meds do not seem to be doing much for the seizures yet, but the doctor told us it would take time. While the medicine does go right into the blood stream, it takes several days- up to two weeks- for it to reach the desired level in the brain.

The boys are having some great grandma time, while the girls and I are getting ready for our Thanksgiving trip to MI! We also got the Christmas decorations out- none of us girls could wait any longer!

Monday, November 24, 2008

A treatment plan!

We just got home from our meeting with the neurologist.

Aggie does have epilepsy, and the doctor confirmed that she has been having complex-partial seizures. The spot that showed up on her MRI is most likely the cause of it. What exactly it is (displaysia, scar tissue, or a low-grade tumor) was not able to be determined from the MRI. Regardless of what it is, it is small enough that the first line of attack is going to be medication to treat the seizures.

We start her on meds tonight. The doctor said 70% of people with epilepsy are able to control it with medication. Our goal is to find the right medicine with the right dosage to make her seizure free and side-effect free. This may be a rough road of trial and error, but we will take one day at a time and go from there.

As far as the brain abnormality- she will have to have another MRI in 3 or 4 months to see if it grows or changes at all. At least we know it is NOT a fast-growing tumor (if it is a tumor at all) AND it is in a reachable part of her brain should surgery become necessary down the road.

Although I know there will still be hurdles to overcome, compared with the pictures in my head, THIS scenario seems livable. I am now going to take a much-needed nap.

Your prayers, emails, and phone calls have held us up more than I ever could have imagined. I thank God for all the people both here at White Creek at back in Michigan that care so much about our family.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

"Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, His steadfast love endures forever!"
Psalm 118

A thought for the day

“People tell you to be strong- I say be weak and be loved.” Aunt Julie

Little did I know as I went to church yesterday morning that I was about to “be weak and loved” right there in front of everybody. I need to teach my dear husband to warn me when he is going to preach sermons like that- I didn't even bring tissues! (thank you Crista for sharing yours!)

Now, encouraged by the love of family, church family, friends, and God himself, we are getting ready to go to our big appointment. Thanks in advance for all your prayers today- we meet with the neurologist at 11am this morning. I will post again as soon as I can!

Dear Father, thank you for your constant provision for Aggie and her family. As we go to meet with her doctor this morning, help us to remember that she is your child, and you love her more than we do. Help us to trust you no matter what we face today, knowing that you have promised never to forsake your children and to bring good out of every evil we face in this life. You have promised peace for your children even in the most difficult situations- please graciously grant this peace to her parents and all who are concerned for her. Thank you for your great love for us. Amen.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

News- sort of

We got MRI results already at 10 this morning. I was not surprised to hear they did see a little "something" in Aggie's little brain. This "something" is not in any major part of the brain but underneath (sorry I did not get the technical terms from the pediatrician). This "something" may or may not be causing her problems. It could be just an abnormality from when she developed, scar tissue from a minor infection we never knew she had, or an early tumor. As the words "Aggie might have a brain tumor" have been screaming themselves loudly in my head for a couple weeks now, this report has not really changed much in my own mind.

We are really hoping the neurologist will be able to tell us more on Monday morning when we meet with him.

In the meantime, God is watching out for us- even giving moments of joy and just plain fun in all of this. Aggie was hilarious when she first woke up from the MRI. She was giggly, forgetful, and just silly. She thought she could walk but she really could not so we had to carry her for awhile. We took her out to Bob Evans for pancakes because she was starving- not sure how wise it was to take a drunk 4-yr old out in public, but it certainly was an adventure! Josh said, "It's like Aggie without inhibitions!" I never really thought she had inhibitions, but compared to drunk Aggie- she actually uses a ton of self-control on a normal day! All the way home she talked and laughed about everything she saw. "Look a ladder.. laaaaddeerrr.... ladderladder laaaader... that's a silly word!" And then of course over and over again she said "We can't forget to pick up the boys! I love my brothers. I LOOOVE Seth. I LOVE Marcus!"

Her hyperactivity started being not so funny by the time we got home. Her siblings were glad to see her but not so sure they wanted all-out wrestling matches all night long. Even this morning she was just NUTS... constantly running people over and hurting people and dropping stuff! And just when I was thinking "AAAAAAHHHHHH why can't it be summer so she can go outside????" a friend called and offered to have the kids play with hers for the afternoon. Ahhhh... green pastures and still waters- God knows what I need!

So I had a chance to do some housework, read up on epilepsy, pay bills, and other fun things. But before I started any of that I made myself do something FUN, just because I wanted to, not because it was on any list. Marcus and I got out our nativity set!!!! Garland, lights, and all- it looks so beautiful on top of our entertainment center. And now it is snowing- I love it!

So Aggie might have a brain tumor.. what of it? Today she's doing great, and we are going to get excited for Christmas! Yes, I am full of fears and worry, and tears are usually pretty close to the surface, but God is helping me to not let them paralyze me. He reminds me to take each day for the gift that it is, and trust the future to him.

As I read that last sentence, I realize that actually doing that would pretty much be a miracle. But that's what we want, isn't it? And God can do it, for Aggie, for me, for everyone. That is what Christmas is about really.

"Lord, we believe, help our unbelief."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

We made it!

Just a short note to say we made it through the MRI!

Aggie is doing just fine right now... actually a little loopy, perhaps better than fine! It was a long day, and the worst part was the IV (let's just say they had to get the tissues for Aggie and her mommy!) but we are home safe, and expect results within 24-48hours.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and encouragement!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blessings and Boogers

I had to share this- I was just looking around online to make sure I knew where we stand as far as insurance, directions to the hospital, etc, and I found this:

http://rileychildrenshospital.com/physicians/med-sub-specialties/neur/doctors-diligence.jsp

This is the doctor Aggie has been referred to- it is so good to read these good things about him! \

When you think of us for the MRI, please pray that Aggie will NOT have too much congestion or a cough- if she does they will not do the procedure. If we have to wait LONGER ... It just won't be pretty. So, as you pray, don't forget to pray for Aggie's boogers! (or rather against them!)

Monday, November 17, 2008

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm 68:19

AGGIE NEWS:
Please pray for her on Wednesday as she has an MRI- she will be sedated ("conscious sedation") Pray also for her parents as we wait for results. This is one of the tests the doctor will use to look for underlying causes of her epilepsy. We meet with the doctor next monday and hope to have a treatment plan by then. She is doing the same right now- we are all learning to cope with the frequent seizures and God is providing for our family in every way during this time. Thank you for your prayers!


“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm 68:19


Her episodes started three weeks ago now. First they were just strange moments of staring and acting like she couldn't hear us. Then they started happening more often, sometimes with a strange giggle, sometimes with aimless walking and other symptoms. The doctor scheduled tests, we all suspected seizures, and now we are waiting.

We did research. We noticed how exhausted she seemed all the time, like whatever was going on in that little head of hers was completely draining. We learned about different kinds of seizures, and began to suspect she has some form of epilepsy. (This has now been confirmed.) We read about drug treatments, nasty side effects, restrictive diets, and safety precautions. I began to journal the episodes: how often, how long, other symptoms, anything I could think of that might be related. I now have pages and pages of details, and I do not know if any of them are important. Still we wait.

Today she had seven seizures that I am aware of. After one of them, she wanted a hug and some “mommy snuggles” while she watched TV. I held her close to me, kissed her hair, and whispered “Jesus, please help Aggie.”

“Why did you say that mommy?” she said and looked up at me with her innocent, sunken eyes.

I willed the tears that were forming in my eyes to stay there while I rubbed her back and told her not to worry, that she just seems tired and maybe her body is fighting something. She is completely unaware that she is having problems at all- her seizures leave absolutely no trace in her memory.

She is still my little hummingbird, fluttering around enjoying as much of life as possible. She knows nothing about her parent's worries, the tests that are coming, or the decisions we will have to make for her. She does not know her eyes look sunken and tired, nor why everyone asks her if she feels okay several times a day.

Tonight I thought of baby Vivian and her parents. Her life was so short, less than six months, and for her parents it was full of worry, tests, decisions, and nights of watching and wondering And she lived her short life, every day full of tubes and nurses and tests, and every day resting in the love of her parents; hearing their voices, feeling their arms around her. I do not know what baby Vivian knew of the pain, but I am confident of this: she knew she was loved. Her parents loved her while they bore for her a burden she didn't even know she had.

That rather sums up our job as parents, doesn't it? We bear burdens for our children that they do not even know they have and could not bear alone. We care for their bodies, making nutritious meals, making sure they get enough sleep, wear warm enough clothes, keep up with doctor visits, and get lots of fresh air. We care for their minds, providing for their education, socialization, and mental stimulation. We care for their souls, by bringing them to the Lord in Baptism and feeding their faith with God's Word at home and at church. We care for them when it is difficult: when they are sick, rebellious, or in need.

Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain. Psalm 127:1

Unless the Lord cares for Aggie, we test and learn and care for her in vain. But He does care for Aggie, He has promised in her Baptism and in His Word. She is His little lamb, and He loves her more than I do. He bore her heaviest burden: sin and death: He cared when it hurt, when it cost His life.

Aggie is God's child. She has not been promised a life without suffering: in fact, God's Word tells us that suffering is exactly what we should expect during our time on earth. Yet, we also know that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth being compared with the glory that will be revealed.” We believe that God works ALL things, even epilepsy, for the good of His children. (Romans 8)

As parents, we are called to love our children and bear their burdens with them, just as God has done for us. Sometimes it is easy; sometimes it hurts terribly.. I am not strong enough to watch my child suffer with epilepsy. My heart cannot bear holding her while she recovers from a seizure, knowing I can do nothing to prevent the next one from coming. Aggie and I are the same in that way: we are scared, fragile, and powerless over the future. What can we do but reach out for our Fathers arms?

Just like our children, we also have a Father who bears burdens for us that we do not know we have and cannot bear alone. During these recent struggles with Aggie, I have seen God's hand every single day in the love of others. Through His other children he has provided listening ears, encouragement, strength, babysitting for the other children, and even meals on nights when I was too tired to cook. He bears my burdens---giving me the strength to share in hers.

Together Aggie and I reach for God's help, and God is faithful. He gives strength for each day, and His love drives out fear. He encourages Aggie through caring siblings, cozy blankets, and “mommy snuggles.” And this mommy does not run out of snuggles, because I know that as I hold her, Jesus holds her too. And as I hold her, I am also being held by Him who loves us both.

Friday, November 14, 2008

blood draws and fast results

Our adventures today started with the mom's group at my house, which as usual was very refreshing and encouraging. Right before the group came over the nurse called and told us we could have Aggie's bloodwork done at our convenience today, so we made plans for the boys (they went to the Beck's again) and went after the group.

Aggie has had this done once before, but fortunately she did not remember that AWFUL experience (that time it took me and two nurses to hold her down while the other one tried time after time after time to draw her blood.) She was worried of course because I told her it would be like a shot, but she is SO GOOD at making the best of it.

When we got called back she started getting worried, but then had a seizure as we were getting set up. (two minutes too early I thought! Since she can't feel anything during her seizures I thought it would be perfect if she had one just before the needle went in! But how do you explain that to a strange nurse- "Quick, poke her now- she's having a seizure- it is the perfect time!"

When she 'came to' afterwards she was confused and I think she forgot why we were there for a minute. That was actually very helpful as she was so cooperative while we got setup and they looked for a vein. Eventually it clicked, of course, and while they took the 4 vials of blood she SCREAMED bloody murder! I almost cried too! Afterwards she wanted to sit there and snuggle for awhile (still tired from her seizure).

By the time we were in the car she wanted her bandaid OFF and then worked on trying to get me to promise she would never ever ever have to do that again (no luck sweetie.) We went to Wendy's for some comfort food and she quickly cheered up. When we saw the long line I said "Look Aggie- there's a long poopy line, awww maaaaan!" Of course that was hilarious, and the shot was pretty much forgotten from that point.

Believe it or not, the doc called me about 2 hrs later with the results- it all looks good. So we are on to the MRI and pediatric neurologist, both we hope within the next week or two.

Aggie is sleeping like a baby at the moment (what a day!) and thankfully I just got up from a nap too! We are hoping for a relaxing weekend, perhaps with some Madagascar 2 and craft time and lots of naps.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

news

Hello everyone!

We finally heard from the doctor.

Aggie did have a seizure during the EEG- what they call a partial or focal
seizure. She does officially have epilepsy, "temporal lobe epilepsy" to be
exact. According to the doctor, as far as epilepsy goes this is the kind to
have- it is the most likely kind to go away by the teenage years.

The next step is to search for possible underlying causes (there are a million
and some are quite scary). Tomorrow I take her for blood work, and after that
an MRI (within a week or two.)

We will be referred to a pediatric neurologist in Indianapolis after we have
some more info from the tests. From there, we decide whether or not to treat,
and if so how.

Honestly I am not surprised by this diagnosis- actually I am a little relieved
that they did find something- I did not want to be the paranoid mother that had
to insist to a bunch of skeptical doctors that SOMETHING is wrong with my
Aggie!

So we will continue to wait, and rely on the Lord for strength and wisdom for
each day. Your prayers for her and our family are very much appreciated.

distractions

No news on Aggie yet!

I am thankful that the kids provide me with so many distractions......


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New pictures!




Here are highlights from the week of Halloween!

(No news on Aggie yet- will post as soon as I know something!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

updates

We survived Monday!!!!!!!!

You know, sleep depriving Aggie wasn't nearly as much fun as we hoped it would be. We tried to make it fun by saying thing like "Aggie, you get to have special daddy time tonight after all the kids go to bed! You can eat Oreos and do whatever you want, isn't that great!" She was very excited for the Oreos, but after those were eaten things got a little rough. She was ready for bed by 9, and even a trip to play in the school gym didn't keep her going much longer! She was a mess by 9:45 and they barely made until 12. Then it was my job to get her up at four. Poor kid, I don't know how many baths and showers she had by the time it was all over! She sure looked awful when we left for the test! We dropped the others off at the sitters (Beth Beck sure is one brave soul!) Then Josh and I took her to the Mariott for her EEG (the hospital still being in transition from this summer's flood)


She was GREAT for the actual test. She has to sit still while they put 25 electrodes in her hair with this nasty sticky stuff (I am still trying to get it out! I didn't have the heart to make her take ANOTHER bath when she got home!) Then they had her blow on a kleenex (deep breathing can induce seizures), which she did with great enthusiasm, and then went into an abscence seizure. I was very relieved that she had an episode during the test- the last thing I wanted after all this was for them to say 'it's nothing, she's fine!' This last week of episodes almost every two hours has convinced me she is definitely not! After that, they told her she could sleep on my lap, and she was snoring in about 30 seconds. She was very cooperative, and we rewarded her with a push- up from the gas station (the only ice cream treat to be found so early in the morning.) They told us that the neurologist would read the test the same day and contact her doctor. We are still waiting to hear anything.


God is merciful, and so we got naps before the next dr appointment- my ultrasound! As Josh said, it is a strange day when the ultrasound is NOT the highlight of the day! The ultrasound was on time, painless, and wonderfully uneventful- the baby looks perfect! I am also glad I haven't packed Marcus's baby clothes too far away- it is most definitely a boy!

He was very cooperative with the ultrasound and seems proud to be a boy (I think most boys are!) Aggie was with us- when I said "Aggie, it's a boy!" she just said OH. Later when she looked at these pictures she said "It looks like a turtle!" Josh called the school after the appointment, and the principal pulled Lorriane out of class to tell her the big news! Her teacher said she was GRINNING from ear to ear when she told the class about her new baby brother!

We are very excited. I can just imaine in 2yrs when Aggie is at school and I am home all day with THREE BOYS! I guess I am glad for the wide open spaces we have here in the country! "There's a mud hole boys, and here's a shovel- see you at lunch time!"

This picture is a little hard to make out but it is my favorite! The baby's head is on the right, and his hand is on top of his head. It looks to me almost exactly like big brother Seth when he is laying down playing with his hair (or where his hair used to be!)

This morning I asked Aggie if she had good dreams about her new baby brother and she said "I dreamed he was a turtle!"

After the test we picked up the kids from the Becks- bless Beth, she also sent home dinner for us! It was definitely a blessing- I was so tired it would have been a cereal or even a Halloween candy dinner! Krista and Megan (friends from the mom's group) also made dinner for tonight for us!

So today is recovery day and waiting by the phone day. I will keep everyone posted if there is more news. What I expect is to hear "Yep, she had a seizure- here's the next tests and the specialist you have to go to."

God is tenderly caring for our family during all of this, and we are amazed at the support and love from everyone here and in Michigan, and people we don't even know who are praying and thinking of us.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

updates- finally

OK it has been ages- trying to squeeze in an update! But first- the baby pics-
Seth, Lorraine, Marcus, Agnes!
(good job Robyn!)

First and most importantly-the main reason for my internet silence! (not counting the second computer crash!) We have been on survival mode once again, this time not because of pregnancy but health concerns about Aggie. Our little hummingbird is having strange "episodes" that we have come to suspect are seizures. (complex-partial to be precise- a guess on our parts, not a diagnosis yet.) She is going for an EEG on Monday the 10th, so we should have some answers soon we hope! These episodes happen several times a day and seem to make her quite tired. I have been trying to be diligent in journaling her symptoms and keeping the doc informed. Please pray for her and for us- that God would provide a doc we can trust to help us decide what to do next (if this is epilepsy).

In other news.... We had a great Halloween trip to MI- Pam sure knows how to throw a party! We also had the odd experience of visiting our old house (which we are now renting.) I had no idea how the kids would react to that, but they were excited to see the house, impressed by all the changes, and pretty much only thought about when we would let them run into the back yard to play on the swingset! Then they asked how long until we went HOME (indiana!) It was a good sign they are handling the transition just fine!

As for me, I am already 17 weeks along and can hardly believe it! The second trimester has been great and all of a sudden it feels like this pregnancy is flying by! Next monday the 10th we find out if it is a girl or a boy! that is going to be quite a day for us!

Last night right before bed Seth fell off the ladder to the bunk bed and could hardly walk on his foot or move his hand! (I guess Superman can't fly!) Josh doesn't think he need to be seen- we think he just got some good bruises. I laid wiht him in bed until he slept- of course I fell asleep and when I woke at 10 Josh was still watching the sad election reports.

SO my goals today- since Seth so far doesn't want to walk very far, much less run and play- FIND some fun table activities for Seth and Aggie, and hope Marcus can stay out of trouble! AND get one of Aggie's episodes on camera! and wipe tons of snotty noses without gagging (both boys- yuk! and marcus likes to wipe it on me!) AND of course the usual, try not to get lost in clutter in this house, try to prevent marcus from killing himself and breaking our stuff, and so on!

I will post some halloween pics soon!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Guess the baby!

What a great weekend with Nana and Amy- it went by SO fast! We miss them so much already. I will post some pics of the weekend when I have time. This week has been a break for me- Nana took Seth and Aggie to Michigan where they have been spoiled by both grandmas all week long! They are having a blast, and we are too! Lorraine and I have been doing all kinds of creative things to the house (I seem to have much more mental space for creativity when those two are gone!) One of the things we did was hang some new family pictures- one of each kid as a baby and a few current pics. Here are the baby pics- can you guess who is who?






Sunday, October 5, 2008

To Marcus on his first birthday

To Marcus on his first birthday-
I cannot believe how fast this year has gone by! It has been a year of transition for all of us- when you came we lived in MI, daddy worked at a small church, and you came to work with me most days. Now we live in Indiana, daddy works at a huge church, and I get to stay at home with you and the others every day! The many changes this past year have hardly phased you at all- you have found security in the love of your family and seem to have enjoyed the ride!






You are a happy baby and such a joy to your mommy. You have a sparkle in your eye and a fun sense of humor. You get a kick out of each of your siblings. Lorraine and Aggie are constantly mothering you and protecting you, and you are usually quite cooperative. They love to wrestle on the floor with you and make you laugh with your favorite toys. Seth also loves to wrestle, and has been known to give you a smack on the head for good measure whenever he walks by. He can’t wait until you are old enough to play trucks with him! He taught you how to make truck noises and dinosaur noises already. You absolutely love sharing a room with him. I often hear you growling at him in the morning to wake him up!




You started walking all of a sudden at 10 1/2months. I thought you had the balance for awhile, just not the desire. Once you made up your mind you were off! 12 steps by the second day, then I quit counting. You also decided he were weaned that same week. In fact, your preferred method of eating is now standing upright while someone holds the bottle in the air, preferably while you holds on to nothing at all, using only your mouth on the bottle to correct his balance if needed. (I thought maybe your daddy can install one of those rabbit feeders in the house somewhere that you could just go to any time you are thirsty!)

Your favorite foods: Almost anything at all, but especially mandarin oranges, mac and cheese, and anything sweet. Of all the kids you are the quickest eater- dinnertime is about FOOD, and nothing else until you are so full you can hardly move.
I think you might be the most animal-loving child we have. You learned to pant at your doggy very early, and you always want to know where he is. You wrestle on the floor with him and even seem to enjoy his licks. Otis is very patient with you even though you are not even remotely gentle! You have also been known to share his dog food.
You also seem to love music more than any of the others. When we sing songs you already try to sing along. One day when your daddy got out his violin I thought you were going to go crazy with excitement- You flapped your arms and hollered and danced about it! You already know how to dance and will often stop what you’re doing to dance to a catchy commercial (especially with a fast drum beat!)
As I write this we are outside, where I hoped you would have fewer things to get into and less of a chance of waking up the other kids. You seem to need the least amount of sleep of all of us (adults included), and like normal, today you are the first and awake from your nap. If you had it your way I think you would sleep from 8pm until 5am and then MAYBE take one hour nap during the day, but only if all the food in the house was eaten first. At this moment you are getting into the back pocket of the green umbrella stroller where I keep the diapers and wipes when we go to church. Apparently there are also some tasty crayons back there…

Baby Marcus, it has been such a joy to watch you grown and change in this past year. You add sparkle and joy to our lives in your own special way. I thank God for making me your mommy!
Love, Mama






Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's a good thing I'm cute!


It is a good thing God made me so cute... especially at 2am, 3am, 4am and 5am when I like to get up and try to get my mommy and daddy to play with me. Last night I talked to them about doggies in the night, I growled and played in my crib and I tried my best to wake up my brother to play with me. He wasn't interested, so I had 2 hours of not so much fun by myself. I am tired today and so are mom and dad.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall in Indiana!



Fall is officially here, and it sure is beautiful here in the country! This is our backyard-





Julie and Eveline (friends from Quincy) came down this weekend and we had a great time! Here we are carving the pumpkins they brought us. Lorraine was grossed out as usual, but she was brave enough to scoop her own "pumpkin brains" out this year!






Not surprisingly, Marcus was the only one interested in seeing what pumpkin actually tastes like.






This morning we had another new adventure: Touch a Truck! Lorraine's kindergarden class went and I took the other kids on my own. WHAT FUN! They had all kinds of trucks and cars for the kids to climb in, beep the horns, etc. Aggie and Seth got turns digging with a back hoe, pulling the horn in a semi, and even spraying with the power washer!


Is this an awesome slide OR WHAT!?!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Aggie's fourth birthday!


To Agnes on her fourth birthday
My hummingbird, my tornado, my whirlwind… sometimes I think you have so much energy it shoots out of your fingertips and makes your hair stand on end!

A glimpse of Aggie at age four- Yesterday you bounced out of bed at 6am ready to go and full of energy. You stayed in your pjs drinking chocolate milk and watching Curious George, Sid the Science Kid, and Super Why. (You can tell I was very tired that morning because you got to watch all three of your favorite shows!) During breakfast you wiggled, ate, wiggled, argued with Seth, wiggled some more, almost fell out of your chair, then finally finished eating. You got yourself dressed, made your bed, and brushed your teeth in about 30 seconds flat. You are always so eager to start the day and ready for absolutely anything! Yesterday was one of those all too common days that I didn’t quite get around to brushing your hair, so you ran around all day with the sides sticking out and up and what looks like a birds nest in the back. Nonetheless you spent most of the day feeling pretty in your dress up costumes. I love how you dress up like a princess and even a “wedding girl,” while all the time insisting that you are NEVER going to get married and NEVER going to have babies. Yesterday you were unusually creative at making adventures for yourself. You swung on a door and broke it off its hinges, broke a mini blind (actually your story was “Mommy, this was just laying on the floor and it broke!” as you handed me the pieces.) Then you saw Marcus sitting in the bathtub enjoying the warm water as it filled. ..when I turned my back for one second, you quietly turned the water to COLD and walked out of the room. As I write this you are feeding your baby doll “mommy milk” in the sandbox.

You and Lorraine are still very close sisters. You are so very much alike, yet so different! Your favorite things to do with Lorraine: stay up late and giggle with her (or drive her nuts while she is trying to sleep), play dress up, do crafts and paint. But Lorraine does not always understand your love for mess and adventure! Seth is more like you in that way. You and Seth sure do play hard together- some days creating joyful chaos together, some days turning the chaos against each other and doing nothing but fight. You love to tease everyone at all times (you get this from daddy.) Your favorite insults at the moment- “Seth is a poopy diaper!” and “Rainy is a piggy princess!” You and Daddy share a special sense of humor when it comes to harassing everyone else in the family!

You are still in love with your baby brother Marcus. You get such a kick out of his little developments, especially when they are clumsy or messy or loud. I remember you belly laughing when Marcus was trying to figure out how to use a sippy cup for the first time. And my heart completely melted when you said “Marcus is slobbering on my teddy bear blanket and it’s ok with me if he do-s that.”

You add randomness, chaos, adventure, and lots and lots of laughter to our family. You have a huge heart, even for your siblings, and enjoy any time you can share anything from a piece of candy to a party with others. You take life as it comes, and I imagine you often wonder “How can I make this more fun?” I cannot begin to imagine what God has in store for you as an adult. Perhaps you are one of those kids who really will grow up to be an astronaut or airplane pilot! As I watch you live each day you remind me to rejoice in the present, to take each day as a gift of God… a full glass of chocolate milk… drinking every last drop out of it, using the energy and sugar to have adventures all day, and finally collapsing into bed exhausted.
Happy fourth birthday Aggie Sue! We sure do love you!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The kids today

Monday was our first experience with school pictures. This of course led to everyone wanting pictures taken, so here are a couple of my favorites.

This is Lorraine ready to go to school. I heard the photographer got the fake smile off her face pretty easily. He said "Lorraine Cook... is your daddy a pastor? He was just in here getting his picture taken. Did you know he had bows in his hair?" Lorraine is still loving school. Her biggest complaint is that at lunchtime she doesn't always get to eat her food because her friends are talking to her too much. She has also gotten in trouble for talking once or twice. No surprise there! I sure do love that first few minutes when she comes home FULL of things to tell me about her day! (Also, she has a very loose tooth!)

My angel Aggie!
Her latest great quote (this was completely out of the blue...)
"Daddy, when I grow up, I am NOT going to marry, I am NOT going to have a prince, I am NOT going to have babies that puke up on me, and I am NOT going to be a grandma."
Seth seems HUGE these days to me! He is in 3T clothes and just seems so grown up! He and I are getting along a little better most of the time. He is excited about this new sweatshirt I bought him. I also bought him new Crocs last week- he loved them so much he actually slept with them a couple times!

This little guy is almost 1- i can't believe it! He is wearing Seth's favorite shirt from last year in this picture. Seth wasn't so sure what he thought about that! He is walking just great and is really into sound effects. If you make any strange noises he instantly belly laughs! He is also learning how to wrestle with his siblings and actually can hold his own a little better. Not that he doesn't still have it rough... this morning Seth was pushing his stroller down the hill, and somehow they both fell and rolled a bit- Marcus facedown in his stroller! His cheek is a little scratched up today- poor kiddo!

Oh, these two. Newly best friends and worst enemies at the same time. They sure look like angels here... I hear they played like angels on monday when i went to the dr as well. Of course, later when I went downstairs where they had spent their angelic morning, I found the basement COMPLETELY trashed- every toy off the shelves, every puzzle dumped and scattered.... Oh, these two!!!

As for me and Josh... We are doing well. Josh swears his confirmation kids have given him his high blood pressure (he went to the doc yesterday). Are we already to the point of a buying a home blood pressure tester thing? Scary. And me... I am feeling much much better this week, after a bad week last week, but tons of support from my dear husband. Prayer and exercise are key! Though I have been waking up, puking, than instantly HUNGRY! And much to my dismay I have already had to dig out the maternity clothes (not that they were very dusty!)

All for now- better check on the kiddos!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

day in the life



These are the highlights:
For more pictures click here
http://s349.photobucket.com/albums/q392/Emilymariecook/Day%20in%20the%20life/

Monday, September 8, 2008

Toddler theology



I was a religion major at Hillsdale college, and I have struggled with most of the common perplexing theological questions. Yet every now and then, the children will surprise me with a new challenge…

It was an ordinary day, waiting at the drive-through at Wendy’s, when Aggie started licking her shoes. “Aggie! Don’t lick your shoes!” (“Lick shoes?” Said Seth and commenced with his own meal of shoe germs in the backseat, and in kindness also gave one of his shoes to Marcus to chew.) “KIDS!” I said. “Do you have any idea how many germs live on the bottom of your shoes?”
Aggie suddenly became very serious. “Germs?”
“YES!” I said, sensing that this time she might actually listen to this lecture. “Your shoes pick up germs when you walk, and if you put them in your mouth they could make you very sick!”
“Ohhhh… do my hands have germs now?”
“Yes, in fact, let’s wash them before we eat.” As I got out the hand sanitizer, Aggie continued to worry about germs in other places. Are germs in my hair? The car? My shorts? The food? My carseat? My books? The dog?
Finally she sighed and asked, “Mommy, why did God make germs?”
That’s a tough one, I thought. “Well, it’s just part of living in a fallen world honey. There won’t be any germs in heaven.”

Her eyes grew wide- “So we can lick our shoes in heaven?!”
“Well…. I guess so….”
Even if I had more to say on that subject, she wouldn’t have heard a word. Her eyes were sparkling as her mind filled with all the great things she can lick in heaven when there are no germs to worry about.

Later that night I heard the girls bickering quietly, then Aggie said loudly “YES you can lick your shoes in heaven Rainy, Mommy said so!” “Aggie, you can NOT!” said Lorraine, obviously taken aback by the impropriety of the idea. Josh looked at me sideways… all I could do was laugh uncontrollably.

Wonder what Jesus would have said to that one? :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hello again!


Marcus started walking all of a sudden at 10 1/2months. It seems to me he has had the balance for awhile, just not the desire. Once he made up his mind he was off! 12 steps by the second day, then I quit counting. He also decided he is weaned that same week. In fact, his preferred method of eating is now standing upright while someone holds the bottle in the air, preferably while he holds on to nothing at all, using only his mouth on the bottle to correct his balance if needed. (Perhaps Josh can install one of those rabbit feeders in the house somewhere that he can just go to any time he needs milk!)

Today we are doing another “day in the life” photo journal- so expect new pictures tomorrow I hope! My computer has been down for a loooooong time… thank you to Josh who resurrected it from the dead. But I have lost all my files since before we moved… all the pictures, the notes about the kids, and worst of all ALL of the stupid receipts I painstakingly entered one by one to keep track of our finances now that Josh is self-employed. I am trying not to cry about that one!

Other than that we are doing well. We survived a very busy very bad week where everything seemed to be broken and evil… then we enjoyed a weekend with the Beckers, a few good night’s sleep, and we are much refreshed this week. Lorraine is not so sure she likes so-called “holidays,” because they mean you don’t get to go to school that day! She has been starved of her friends all the way from Friday until Wednesday.... oh the torture!

Not too much else to update here… I am feeling pretty good as long as I get my sleep- it MUST be ten hours or else. This makes for a more hectic life as I am not so sure how to get those things that were once naptime jobs done during the day! But we are learning, and we started today with our flylady lists for the kids (which they LOVE), made beds and visits from birdie (I will explain those things tomorrow.)

More soon if my computer allows!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Number 5















Today marks 8 years of marriage for my prince Joshua and me, and we are thrilled to welcome another child into our family!
Too many children? That's like saying there are too many flowers!

Friday, August 15, 2008

To Lorraine, on her first day of kindergarten


We survived this week of pre-kindergarten anxiety after a sore stomach, some bed wetting, and a canker sore. Three mornings this week you didn’t feel good and wanted to go back to bed, then have mommy snuggles, then talk about school and cry. How I wish I could take your anxiety from you, but all I can do is struggle not to cry right along with you.

You and Aggie have been in bed for an hour, and I just noticed that you are still fooling around in there. Your huge brown eyes glowed with excitement as you asked me for the millionth time, “Mommy, did you like school when you were a little girl?” Those bright brown eyes and the curly hair that frames your face- those enormous dreams you have about your prince and your babies… how can I let you take that huge heart out into the real world? Could you tell I had been crying as I struggled to smile and told you all the things I loved about kindergarten?

Oh Lorraine it is so hard to let you go. This year will bring new challenges, new friends, new everything… Where does mommy fit in all this? Will you still need mommy snuggles when you are sad? Will I be the one you run to, cry to, laugh with? Yes, for a little while longer. But this school business is so hard because it reminds me that this does not last forever. Kindergarten does lead to full time school, to puberty, to dating, to college, to moving away, to (please God) your happily ever after prince and babies.

Forgive me for holding on to you too much, but God help me it is all I can do.

I am sure someday you will read this and struggle to remember any anxiety at all related to school… only fond memories of friends and fun and growing up. As I think of my own mother and these struggles she went through, I realize I was completely oblivious to them as I was living my child life. Just like you and me: You chase butterflies, I ponder the passages of time. I suppose this is the proper role of mothers and children. You will understand someday though, especially if you have those babies of your own that you are always talking about.

With prayer, fear, excitement, and so much love Lorraine, I release you into the world of school and the hands of the Lord.
Mommy

Dear Jesus, thank you so much for your love for Lorraine. It is such a comfort to this fearful mother’s heart to know that you love her even more than I do. You have made her to grow, to learn, to stretch and to fly. You will be with her even when I cannot. Bless her Father. Keep her safe, surround her with friends, lead her in Your truth. Protect her from sin and evil. Bless her with caring teachers who are wise in Your Word, with friends who love You, with all that she needs to walk in this world. Help our entire family adjust to this new season of life. Thank you for the promises that you have given her, and me, that you will be with us through this valley and someday take us home to be with you in eternity. What a comfort as I learn to release dear Lorraine. She is not going far- only into Your loving hands hands. Amen.