it’s a mom’s life…

so, hubby’s big 3-0 bday is tomorrow. i had the fabulous idea to go out this morning with a 21 month old & a 2 month old to “get daddy a birthday balloon!” “yeah, ok.” that’s what my almost 2 yr. old says to everything appealing & she especially loves balloons. she cracks me up. as i type she’s actually sitting next to me coddling her sippy cup, “i hold you.” haha she’s a trip. guess nurturing comes before eating her chicken nuggets…

anyway, got said kiddos in the car…drove 15 mins, passing lots of backed-up traffic, to the party supply store that mysteriously closed down who knows when…on to plan b. the other supply store is now 30 mins in the OPPOSITE direction & i can’t throw in the towel b/c ava will ask about daddy’s balloon for the rest of the day. lovely.

break out the garmin. thank you, Lord for that little invention, (since i still have a “dumb” phone). find an alternative route to avoid that traffic jam i passed on the way…drive 20 more mins to the other store…spend waaaay too much on supplies, but rationalize it b/c my 2 yr old picked out a $6 balloon amoungst a truckload of other fun things, & what kind of a mom would i be if i didn’t get the stuff she picked out for daddy’s big day?! ok…leave the store w/2 kids in tow…forgot the double stroller btw…thankfully, i had the single & a free arm…

get the gang in the car…fight w/the ridiculously over-priced, but totally necessary balloons that wanted to follow the breeze out of the car…stinkers were persistent, but i won…buckle everyone in…baby cries…15 mins past feeding time & out of gas…adding to plan b…or would it be plan c now?

pull into nearest gas station….80 cents off! woo hoo! makes up for the ridiculously over-priced but necessary balloons…pump gas…overflow the tank all over my right foot trying to hit an even 50 bucks…baby now screaming…

find an inconspicuous parking spot…climb into the backseat w/the girls (my car has no middle seat mind you)…nurse screaming infant on a 10-inch-wide plastic hump while keeping the older one happy by discussing french fries…she really enjoys french fries…put baby back…hit up a drive thru to acquire promised french fries & chicken nuggets…forgo plans to grocery shop b/c it’s now past naptime…arrive home…eat fries…abandon chicken nuggets to nuture the sippy cup as mentioned above…too late now for naptime, b/c we have a doc appt in 40 mins…reality of evening errands & impending tantrums thanks to no nap set in…tis a mom’s life & i love it…

ava & isla’s first family vacation top 10 memorable moments…

10 – changing isla’s massive diaper explosion in a vacant lot across the street from “clay’s beach house” of one tree hill…

9 – major public milk leakage in a 50’s style diner…oh the joys of being a nursing mother…

8 – making smore’s in the microwave with my mother & sister-in-law while the kiddos snoozed & the hubby was pier fishing…a mess that was never more worth it…

7 – watching the dolphins swim & play every morning & spotting a sting ray in the shallow surf…

6 – seeing the girls in their matching bathing suits that i bought before isla was born & realizing this day had finally arrived… *tear*

5 – family game night…my in-laws are hilarious…hubby’s pretty comical as well…”sounds like coast ricky” (clue given for “costa rica” in catch phrase. hmmm…) 🙂

4 – taking ava into the ocean & a wave hitting us in the face. thought she’d cry, but we laughed & licked our lips instead… 🙂

3 – saying good-bye to the beach & “jesus’ pool” in the moonlight while fireworks went off overhead. perfect ending…

2 – strolling along the shoreline looking for shells w/isla sleeping peacefully in my sling…about the only time she slept btw…

1 – watching ava & her chubby little legs run & play on the beach w/her daddy & cousins…
i miss that scene so much already…

i love my girls & i’m so thankful we could take them on vacation. i can’t wait until next time!

daily blessing…

thanks to a christian friend, i receive these “daily blessing” e-mails. today’s was especially good at ministering to me. i have, like everyone else, encountered some pretty major blows & disappointments over the past several months.

a particular family situation has left me especially down. i force myself daily not to think about it or tell myself i don’t care. as soon as i let reality strike though, it’s right back to that plethora of undesirable emotions…disappointment, sadness, disbelief, & most unfavorable…resentment & a truckload of bitterness.

i found this article on bitterness, b/c i think it’s at the root of the lack of forgiveness i feel at times & the hopelessness when i consider reconciliation as possible & it had some pretty good thing to say about finding victory over bitterness…

The Holy Spirit fills you & controls your life when you have no unconfessed sin in your life. You can trust the Holy Spirit to reveal sin to you when you commit it, or even before. When the Holy Spirit is in control, He produces His fruit (Gal. 5:12). the fruit of the Spirit does not include heaviness, bitterness, discouragement, disillusion, anguish, sadness, dejection, or loss of productivity. Consider these points:

* love is free from bitterness.

* joy pushes bitterness out.

* bitterness can not coexist with peace in the soul of the believer filled with the Holy spirit.

* long-suffering gives the ability to deal with bitterness & other troubles.

* gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, & temperance are fruits of righteousness, which is divine good. divine good takes the place of bitterness.

so, although my struggle is w/those emotions, i will be praying these points rather than battling those feelings. bitterness, resentment, sadness, unforgiveness, discouragement…
they will all fade away if i let the Holy Spirit take control over helping me develop the fruit of the Spirit in my life.

here is my “daily blessing” – hope you find it useful as well…

Dealing with Disappointment

Though the fig tree does not bud & there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails & the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen & no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. – Habakkuk 3:17-19

After preaching a sermon on disappointment, several men & women approached me with the same reaction: “I desperately needed to hear those words.” Countless people feel defeated & let down by disappointing situations. But our response can make all the difference. Frustrations can be either an opportunity for spiritual growth or a destructive blow.

A right response to disappointment begins with resisting the natural tendency toward bitterness. If someone else was involved in the situation, don’t be quick to judge his or her conduct. We can’t fully understand what is going on in others’ lives or what motivates them to act as they do. Our second step should be to ask the Lord, “How am I to respond?” God can guide us to a wise & righteous reaction because He has all the facts.

Third, follow His direction, even if it isn’t what you want to do. Oftentimes the Lord’s way contradicts our own desires & the advice of friends. However, His plan is the one that will bring about growth & result in our greatest good.

And finally, keep your focus on God & His higher purpose in your life. People are prone to dwell on their hurts & the harm that comes to them, which is what makes disappointment so destructive.

There is only one healthy method for dealing with letdown—pursue the Lord’s way & His will. Though human plans can be derailed, nothing alters God’s purpose. No matter how deep your hurt goes, He will shepherd you through setbacks & sorrows while growing your faith.

Charles Stanley

anticipating the arrival of isla rae!

well, i went to the doctor’s this am for my 1st exam of this pregnancy expecting the “nothing’s going on” kind of feedback (which happened every exam w/ava, even up until the day of her birth), but instead i heard “you’re 2cm dilated.” what??!! yay!

but then it hit me when i came home that i am no where close to ready house-wise or nursery-wise & the reality sent me into overdrive & panic. i have accomplished a lot today though…laundry is complete, just needs put away. floors are swept. all of my hundreds of mini piles of papers & magazines that plague our dining room table have been sifted & sorted through. dishes are done. bags are packed. sheets are fresh. toilets…scrubbed. dinner is sitting out, ready for the grill & brownies are eaten. well, all but a small slice i left for baby’s daddy… 🙂

i think all i have left, besides the nursery is some ironing, dusting & charging the cameras.

i really want to take some time over the next few days though to soak in ava bean. although i’m excited to bring this new member of our family into the world, i’m just a little sad that my days of solely focusing & doting on my little angel are coming to an end. it was a very quick season of my life. i know this change is a wonderful one, but i’ll have to make a serious effort not to lose track of mommy & ava time in the shuffle. poor hubby has already taken a backseat… i need to work on that aspect of marriage & family.

i’ve noticed also that as the pregnancy is drawing to a close, i’m a little nervous about the delivery process again. ava’s was so fast! i dilated 6cm in just 30 minutes! so, the fact that i’m 2 already has me a little on edge. but, like everything else in this pregnancy – what if everything labor-related is totally different?!? will i recognize labor? will the contractions be the same? will it happen just as quickly?

plus, i couldn’t have an epidural w/ava – b/c of how quickly i progressed, so i’m opting for the good ‘ole naturale approach again. it’s what i know. i’m gonna stick w/what i know… but, that certainly makes it all the more nerve-wracking… ugh the pain i am in for again… pray for us!

i remember i barely said anything, but i did ask hubby for ice cubes over & over again, only to call him back to my side before he took 2 steps & i repeatedly apologized for not paying any attention to him – labor can make you weird! 🙂

i’m curious as to others’ experiences the 2nd go around…similar to the 1st time?

don’t leave me hanging – who knows how much time i have until i find out! 🙂

save me some money!

who doesn’t LOVE to save money & these days, for that matter, who doesn’t need to save money? i know we do.

so, i’ve come across some outstanding deals, blogs & websites thanks to some friends & some literal cyber-stumbling…& why keep a good thing to yourself?

i think most if not all of the websites i frequent are now listed in my “daily treasures” column to the right.

if i’m missing a link, i’ll get it there soon. check out the buttons on the right…

some of my loves are www.moneysavingmom.com – boy does she have it together. i’m inspired. also, www.ourbestbites.com. no, it won’t save you money, but b/t the cooking/grocery shopping advice on msm, the recipes from the pioneer woman & this site – you will have freezer meals to count on for weeks! hallelujah!

i just made the greek marinade. we’re having it for dinner on chicken – grilled & pita-ed. i’ll let you know what it tastes like. w/the left over garlic, last night i made a traditional version of the stuffed pepper recipe w/spicy tomato sauce – boy am i hurting in the reflux dept today, but i knew i would be & fortunately, it was worth it…maybe i’ll get around to posting my recipe. i used the food processor for easy mixing of the filling and added portobello mushrooms and carrots. so, tomorrow, b/c i’m not feeling that energized today, i plan on taking the remainder of the garlic cloves, mushrooms, carrots & an onion & chopping them in the processor to split into 1/2 c. portions to freeze for easy ingredient grabs… i’ll also chop my onions and do the same. the remainder of the bell peppers i bought a sam’s club are already done & in the freezer. btw – a bag of 6 assorted bell peppers (red, yellow & orange) were the same price as the green. i LOVE the red – they’re so good & i think they may be better for you too. plus, they’re usually 3.99-4.99 per lb. at giant eagle & the whole bag of 6 cost me $4 & some change…

getting off topic here, but my brain’s all over – speaking of sam’s…i finally did the math & if you can find normal tubes of colgate toothpaste for less than $2 a tube, then you are actually beating the sam’s club price. i plan on figuring out the same for some other items. i bought 2 6lb. bags of their frozen chicken for about $10 ea (tyson was almost $23 for a 10lb. bag), so i got more chicken for less $ (about $1.67/lb.). it’s not portioned like tyson’s bag, but i came home – boiled half of one bag of the chicken in the stock pot with an onion & clove of garlic then divided it into 1lb. portions shredded. freezer-bagged it – done! now, i’ve been pulling it out for meals. the chicken i left in whole breasts, i’ve been using to freeze in marinades (like the greek one we’re having tonight). that way, hubby can grill it up when he gets home & all the dirty work is done!

ok – back to coupons…i’ve got some coupons i’ll be throwing out here b/c i know i won’t be able to make use of them before they expire, so if you want them, let me know & i’ll get them in the mail to you…

1 – i’m a tanger member, so i get the $5 coupon book free EVERY time i visit the outlets. i currently have an extra – it’s your’s if you want it. if you just want a specific one like for a restaurant, trolley museum ticket, pirate ticket, etc. i can give you that specific one too…

2 – carter’s – 25% off purchase of $30 or more expires: 6/20/11

3 – babies-r-us – $4 off (2) 22oz powder formulas & $7 off purchase of huggies value box of diapers & wipes. both expire: 6/30/11

4 – dressbarn – 20%off ends this sunday, june 19th…

5 – oshkosh – savings card already stamped once (stamped every time you make $20 purchase), so $80 to go & you get a $10 savings card for your next purchase. it’s stamped TWICE on tuesdays, so you could spend as little as $40 if you went each tuesday left this month… expires: 7/2/11

6 – enfamil – i have 5 $2 off any enfamil or enfagrow product. expires: 6/30/11

7 – huggies – several huggies products (for signing up for something…) .50-1.50 of diapers, wipes & swim diapers… expire 7/9/11

8 – johnson &johnson baby wash – .75 off @ giant eagle expires: 7/12/11

9 – uppercaseliving (the wall products i used to sell) is currently running a special…”Through July 15, buy any two items and get any additional item of equal or lesser value absolutely FREE!*” my contact demonstrator is kathy nassar & you can visit the site kathyswords2liveby.uppercaseliving.net to check out the products, contact her & order items…love this stuff!

10 – finally…my favorite…FREE money if you’re expecting…
i won’t be having a baby shower, but i’ve signed up for a couple registries to save us money later when we make those trips to get the baby needs (babies-r-us already sent us our 10% off one day entire purchase coupon). well, the other day i got a welcome baby catalog from target (i had registered for a few items there like nursing supplies, extra bottles, diaper genie refills, etc…) & in the catalog was a peel off card for a free $20 gift card for starting a registry! i took it in today to redeem. all you have to do is show them a print-out of your registry. i ended up getting a nursing/pajama top, a maternity tank & a dress off the clearance rack, infant pjs for a friend & diaper genie refills. not bad for free!

so anyway…got to get this printer of our’s working b/c had i been able to print, i could have used a $3 liz lange target coupon today too! boo!

ok – that’s all for now….

oh wait! one more thing…i’ve joined a rebate site – also thanks to money saving mom’s advice & a button w/ a link is there to the right…look for the one that says “ShopAtHome.com” above my “daily treasures” links & jj heller… 🙂 I don’t buy a lot, b/c things are tight, but just the few purchases i’ve made recently i’ve made through them & have already made our family $15 in cash back rebates… i’m also a member w/another rebate site, but the percentages are never as high as ShopAtHome… they send you a check in $20 increments. free money coming back to you that you had to spend anyway! check it out!

ok, now off to make a pasta salad to go w/our greek chicken…

i think it’s time…

as you’ve probably read from time to time already…i have three children. i have been blessed with ava bean, the joy of my life, my isla rae, who is coming soon, soon, soon, & my “heaven baby,” baby “ej.” we lost baby “ej” in august of last year, & based upon some recent events in some very sweet friends’ lives, i think it’s time to open my box & let you in on my experience & what i believe God has tried to show me through our tragedy…hopefully, it will help someone.

i remember the morning i discovered i was pregnant again very clearly. i took the test; it was positive; i was shocked – panicked really. ava was only 7 mos old at the time & money’s always tight, you know. we were just getting our bearings it seemed. i wasn’t quite sure how the hubby would react. so i did what any chicken-livered preggo would do & i put a big bow on the test & left it next to the coffee pot (it was very early). then i sat & waited… “shut up! shut up! seriously?!” was the response that came shortly after. imagine my hubby sounding like a high school valley girl – ha! w/out the high-pitched tone of course. he was also shocked, but totally calm & happy, not the reaction i was expecting, but all was well w/the world.

fast forward almost 2 mos. everything goes downhill… it was a friday. we see the baby’s heart beat via early ultrasound. (having nursed, my body never regained “normalcy,” so we weren’t sure just how far along things were…) 6 weeks. heart beating fast & steady. baby fluttering around like a little mexican jumping bean w/limbs. beautiful. life. six quick days later…it’s thursday…the beginning of the end. i’ll never forget lying in the er ultrasound room, the tech doing her thing, & hubby standing behind her. his face was all i watched. he stood stiff, staring at the monitor (which i couldn’t see), hand on his mouth in serious concentration, never shifting. he looked at me once. his expression didn’t change. i knew what he was telling me before she did. no heart beat. i still wonder sometimes what he saw while he stared. he just said it didn’t look the same. six days was actually one day. our baby died just one day after we watched him/her bounce around like the happiest little being on the planet. no reason. no explanation. just over. when she left us in the room alone to have a minute, a sound came from my being that i never even imagine existed. i wailed. from the innermost parts of my heart i wailed. it’s a horrible sound.

they wanted me to have a d&c the very next morning, but i refused, b/c honestly i still hadn’t accepted it yet. i was scared, in denial, numb…all kinds of things. i wanted to do things privately, alone w/my unborn child & husband. i bought myself until monday morning. 9pm sunday night, it happened…labor. i know this, b/c i labored once already. contractions & all. it hit hard & there i was alone w/my husband, my body trying to expel our child while our little girl slept in the next room. by midnight it was over. that was hell. i still had to have the procedure for reasons i won’t go into, but i share this b/c i didn’t realize that you actually give birth. yes, i knew it would be painful. yes, i figured it wouldn’t be easy, but labor? then it hit me that so many women have to experience this form of labor as their first time. i had been blessed w/a previous healthy pregnancy & a labor that was hard, but followed by such joy it was worth it. but this? this was labor w/out victory. this was pain w/out the blessing. this was just cruel.

over the course of the days & weeks to come, my husband & i came to a place of closeness through this experience that i believe would not have been attained otherwise. i have come to learn that tragedy can either destroy you or make you stronger. i chose to use the brokenness & adversity to make me stronger & to help me cling harder to God.

i never blamed God for this. i know God is love & all things pure & just & good. a loving God does not kill a baby. we are fallen. we are flawed. we are imperfect. we have an enemy. our enemy comes to steal, kill & destroy. these are the reasons why i lost our baby. i knew this, but i still needed help w/the emotions. you love your baby before you ever know them – this is true. i loved that baby from the second that line turned pink. we had baby books already started, ultrasound pics on the fridge & smattered on facebook. this baby was already expected & plans were being made daily in preparation for our expanding family. we even had names. so, i needed help letting go of those thoughts & emotions in a healthy way… i was led to a book called “I’ll Hold You in Heaven” by jack hayford. i had been searching & searching for someone to speak some wisdom & comfort into my soul again in a way that i could receive it, & this book did just that. it ministered to me. the Holy Spirit ministered to my heart through it. if you’re looking for a short book to help spark a miracle in your heart, please invest in this one. it will help.

mr. hayford confirmed for me through the Word that my baby is in heaven. my baby is real, fully formed, healthy & very much alive. upon my arrival in heaven, my child will know me & i him/her, as if not a single moment of life was missed between us. that’s the miracle of heaven. “for now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. now I know in part; then i shall know fully, even as i am fully known.” ~1 corinthians 13:12. i got the response a lot, “there must have been something wrong with the baby,” & “this is God’s/nature’s way of taking care of things…” well, first of all, please stay away from saying those things to a woman experiencing the loss of a child. i know those comments come w/pure intentions, but the best response is often a genuine hug & an “i’m sorry you had to experience this.” at least it was for me. second, it doesn’t matter if something was wrong, b/c my baby is perfect now. God’s blueprint for my child has been executed & my baby is just as God intended him/her to be…perfection. (psalm 139) my body may have failed us both, but it’s just a body. it’s going to fail. all the more reason to depend on God & long for heaven.

not only did baby “ej” bring my marriage healing in a very real way, but he/she also opened the door for me to talk to so many women & friends who had endured this kind of experience as well. there are so many of us. not just speaking of miscarriages now, but the loss of a child. the loss of a miracle. the loss of “what should have been.” there are so, so many of us. while i wanted to clam up & deny my thoughts & pains some days, there was some serious therapy taking place when i connected w/other friends who knew what i was going through. there is a time & place for every discussion & discernement & wisdom need to lead the way, but trust me, it may do your heart good to open up & talk about what you’re going through.

i know i’ve written a novel here & blogs are meant to be succinct, but i’ll finish w/just a couple things i believe God has spoken to my heart regarding this ordeal…

1 – your child is in fact a real, living person…still…right now. it’s ok to grieve them. it’s ok to miss them. it’s ok to acknowledge their existence. currently, i have an earth baby, a womb baby & a heaven baby. period. weird? that’s ok. while mourning the loss of my baby, i got the idea to create a box for him/her. i went to michael’s, bought a little wooden box w/a glass top, painted it, decorated it & filled it w/all of the momentos i had gathered during the pregnancy…even the hospital bracelets. these are the baby’s things. they are meaningful, & this way, they can remain w/me in honor of the life that was created in love & the little person we will meet one day. i won’t get the opportunity to pour myself into “ej’s” life, but this was a something of “ej’s” i could pour myself into on his/her behalf instead.

2 – i could be a mom of 2 right now, but i am blessed to be a mom to 3 babies. i haven’t lost a child; i’ve gained a child. isla would not even exist at this moment if circumstances had been different. God has a purpose for isla on this earth. for a long time, i was emotionally hardened in this pregnancy. hemorrhaging twice, pains, sickness…i was anticipating another defeat, but she’s still here kicking & bouncing around in this very pregnant belly. she’s an additional life that would not have been. God is good & kind & He has brought restoration to this faltering body through her. i am that much more thankful for my children thanks to ej.

3 – the name. “ej.” for those of you that know me, you may know how intense i get about names. i would’ve fit right in w/those old testament parents in name-giving business… i struggled a lot w/this baby’s lack of name. i didn’t even know the sex. i asked my husband repeatedly, “what will we do w/the next baby? how can we reuse name choices?” it just didn’t feel right to me. God knew. i believe He speaks to me in my dreams from time to time…probably b/c my mind & mouth are never quiet enough at the same time to hear Him elsewhere…but weeks after & still struggling w/this issue, i dreamt of a little girl, & in the dream He gave me a name that starts w/j. it is a name that i think is beautiful, but it never crossed our minds when trying to think of names. this name was new & i believe from God. i woke up & told my hubby about this dream. he then blurted out a boy’s name that began w/the letter e. it was like lightening struck. why? the original names we had picked out also started w/the letters e & j. the only difference was they were switched. the girl’s was an e & the boy’s was a j. God had taken the burden away & given our child a name – “ej.” doesn’t matter if we have a son or daughter – ej suits each. finally, peace. point to that story? take it to God in prayer. whatever it is you are struggling w/He wants to help. He wants to lift the burden off of you & restore peace to your heart & mind. i still have rough days & moments, but He sees me through…

well, i’m not a writer, so forgive my long story, but it’s my testimony to God’s love & faithfulness. hope deferred does make the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. He is able to fulfill our longings & He really can turn sorrow into joy, despair into faith. He’s the best shoulder to cry on & if you need an extra shoulder, there are so many of us who know just what you’re going through. don’t be afraid to be transparent sometimes…

“…when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than i. for you have been a shelter for me, & a strong tower from the enemy.” ~psalm 61

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follow-up post can be found here

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nursery in the works…

oh isla, the work you have in store for me! 🙂 but you’re worth it. here are a few “before” shots of some upcoming projects i have planned for her room. i hope “nesting” kicks in soon, b/c right now i’m dragging my swollen feet…

here is the inspiration fabric i stumbled upon while looking at rugs. probably will end up as a crib skirt, pillow case, & maybe a few other things depending on how much is left over…

some items in need of tlc, but full of meaning…
angels crafted by my mother’s grandfather that i will refinish

& a painting started by my father’s grandmother before she passed – she & ava share a birthday, so now each of the girls will have something special to share w/her

“pray” & “love” art…two of the most important verbs you can ever practice…

glider in desperate need of a slipcover & paint job…

this mama better get a move on…only about 12 weeks left…& that’s only if she makes me wait the whole 40 weeks!