Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mimme

A Tiffany rose, like the ones in my Mimme's old garden

I got a phone call on Sunday, January 10 while I was getting ready for church. I expected it to be one of the volunteers I work with who was calling in sick. But no...it was my mom, and she sounded upset.

"Mimme passed away this morning," she said.

Mimme was my mom's mother, and her health had been declining over the past year. She had come to live closer to my parents about 14 months ago and had been living in a lovely nursing home in Rockwall when she passed away.

She wanted to be buried in her hometown in Arkansas, where she had lived out the vast majority of her 89 years. So on Wednesday I headed out in a car with my sister, brother, niece, and nephew to the small town of Carlisle, Arkansas, not far from Little Rock. The funeral service was on Thursday morning.

During the trip, I got to hear some good stories about Mimme in her younger days. My mom's old friend, Debbye, said she had always compared Mimme to June Cleaver. Mimme always kept her house in tip-top shape. It seems like she balanced my grandfather well. I have heard crazy stories about my grandfather (who died when I was just 5 months old). He would regularly bring home all sorts of animals for his two girls--everything from bunnies, turtles, and chickens to foxes, skunks, and alligators! He ran a service station and had long hours on his feet. Mimme was always there to take care of him at the end of the day and keep her household running smoothly.

Of course, those aren't my memories of her. I was the youngest grandchild, so I came along much later in her life. I remember that she had a beautiful garden full of Tiffany roses (she named some of them Angela and Suzanne so that my sister and cousin wouldn't feel left out). She lived in a big (or at least it seemed huge to me then!) white house with some fun things that were there just for us kids--like a little organ where I first learned to make "music."

I actually lived with her for five weeks when I was six years old. My parents had learned a loophole in our education system; my birthday is on September 7, but the cut-off to get into school is September 1 for Texas schools. My parents felt I was ready for school and didn't want me to stay at home for another year. So, I was packed up and sent off to live with Mimme in Arkansas for the first few weeks of first grade, since Arkansas' cut-off is October 1. Once I was officially established as a student there, I was able to transfer to the Texas school system. Voila! Genius.

Mimme took good care of me during those weeks. I remember her keeping her freezer well-stocked with ice cream sandwiches, my favorite treat. She took me with her each week to her beauty salon, where I sat and drank a Coke from a glass bottle while she sat next to her friends, each with a hair-drying dome over her head. We would go to the general store, where she would let me spend all my change on nickel candy. She even took me to get my ears pierced for my 6th birthday, which I celebrated there. (I remember when we called to tell my dad--he was not too pleased!)

That was all a long time ago, of course. Unfortunately, my Mimme didn't really have much of a life there at the end--she would sit in her room most of the day, without a desire to read, do puzzles, or even watch TV. She would only venture outside her door for meals, and she had no inclination to talk to other residents or take part in the many social activities offered. She was mentally sharp until close to the end, but she just didn't have the drive to do very much. It is sad that this is the Mimme I remember more than the one who took care of me all those years ago.

Even though her death was somewhat expected, it was still hard. For me, it doesn't really bother me much that she is gone--she didn't seem very happy here at the end anyway. But I just hope above all hope that she was a believer. Those who knew her in her earlier days seem to think she was, so that's good. But I wish that I didn't have to have that doubt. There is nothing sadder than going to a funeral for someone and not knowing whether they ended up on the right side of eternity.

I do hope Mimme was a Christian. I hope she knew that Jesus is the only way to heaven. I hope she understood that we are all sinners, and Jesus humbled himself and came to earth as a man so that he could live a perfect life and then die for our sins, the final sacrifice. Because the only way to get to heaven is to believe that.

And I hope that if you, dear reader, aren't in a place where you know for certain where you are going when you die, that you will settle that right now! You can find more information here. It is the most important decision you'll make in your life.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Menu Plan for January


Happy New Year!

I am joining with bloggers everywhere (inspired by Life as Mom and Money Saving Mom) and resolving to Eat from the Pantry/Freezer for most of my meals in January. I have been able to stock quite a bit in my freezer in particular over the past few months, and it's time to clean it out. So my inspiration for my meals this month comes from what I already have on hand, supplemented of course with fresh dairy and produce each week.

Following is my menu plan for the month. I've linked to recipes when I can, but I almost always alter recipes I find to make them healthier (using whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, applesauce instead of oil, etc.).


1: Homemade pizza (Friday night staple)

2: Ravioli, salad, bread

3: Pancakes (freeze leftovers)

4: Pasta with red sauce, Caesar salad, homemade bread

5: Broccoli & cheese soup for Scott (dinner with friends for me)

6: Chicken tenders, sweet potato casserole, and homemade rolls

7: Mashed potatoes and meatballs (make a double batch to freeze), salad

8: Homemade pizza (Friday night staple)

9: Breakfast for dinner (crustless quiche?)

10: Baked potatoes, salad, carrots

11: Lasagna roll-ups

12: Salmon and black bean frozen dinner

13: Eat out (Awana night)

14: Chicken teriyaki stir fry

15: Homemade pizza (Friday night staple)

16: Breakfast for dinner (frittata?)

17: Leftover stew, dinner rolls

18: Lasagna roll-ups from freezer

19: Chicken tacos, beans, and rice

20: Eat out or have leftovers (Awana night)

21: Macaroni and cheese, steamed broccoli

22: Homemade pizza (Friday night staple)

23: Breakfast for dinner (eggs and rosemary potatoes?)

24: Fend for yourself night!

25: Broccoli and cheddar soup, homemade rolls

26: Leftovers

27: Eat out or fend for yourself (Awana night)

28: Bean and cheese enchiladas, Mexican rice, salad

29: (Isaac’s birthday!!) Homemade pizza (Friday night staple)

30: Breakfast for dinner (waffles and eggs?)

31: Leftover meatballs—on subs or spaghetti, salad


I printed out this menu plan and put one on my fridge in a plastic page protector so that I can refer to it whenever I need to. I also bring a copy of it with me whenever I go grocery shopping so that I know exactly what I need to buy--and what I don't. Just having a plan in place helps me feel more organized and has already saved me time and money. I avoid last-minute trips for groceries I forgot (or having to resort to fast food) when I have it all mapped out ahead of time!

When I plan my menu, I try hard to be realistic. I know that Wednesdays, for example, are really crazy for our family. I'm at church from 5:00-8:00 (at least) and don't have the energy to worry about a proper dinner. Typically we drive through Jimmy John's for a sandwich on those nights as a treat. And on Sunday nights we don't get home until after 7:00, so dinner has to be something I can put on the table very quickly.

If you are interested in meal planning and don't know where to begin, I'd suggest these two articles by Simple Mom and Life as Mom. They are both fabulous blogs full of lots of tips for home management and organization.

Monday, December 14, 2009

And now...Preschool Musical!

The last couple of posts here have been pretty depressing, so here is the ultimate pick-me-up: pics and videos of Caleb's preschool Christmas musical! It was so incredibly precious. I cried happy tears through the whole thing!

The kids all had little "costumes"--and Caleb got to be a donkey. Ha! Here he is "sleeping" in the back row next to the angel.


Here is his class lined up for a photo op after the performance. Caleb is in the bottom row, second from the left.

I got 3 short video clips on my camera. Let's see if they work! This one is a segment of their song "Starry Night." I PROMISE these videos will make you smile, especially if you know Caleb!

video


"And when the angel came to Mary, he said..."

video


In case you didn't catch that, they were singing, "Fear not! Fear not! Don't be scared!" Caleb is the extremely fidgety one in the back. :)

At the end the kids sang "Go Tell it on the Mountain" in English and Spanish. Here you can see a bit of that. The kids just kind of mumbled through "Ve y grita a las montanas..."


video

Scott, Isaac and I sat proudly in the audience. Isaac needed a little entertaining while we were waiting for the show to start, and I put my hat on him. Is this not an adorable picture?


I love my boys.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Grieving

I miss my baby.

I miss being pregnant. I miss that feeling of knowing something amazing is coming.

I wonder if it would have been a boy or a girl. I wonder if the baby would have had my dimples or Scott's eyes.

We watched Up last night with Caleb. Scott and I both teared up at the part when Ellie loses her baby.

When we first found out I was pregnant, we told Caleb that a baby would be growing inside my tummy. He hadn't mentioned anything to us about the baby since the miscarriage, and we hadn't brought it up. Then yesterday I was wearing a baggy sweatshirt and Caleb pointed to my stomach and asked me, "Mommy, is the baby starting to grow in there?"

For the most part, I've been doing very well lately. The day I went to the doctor and found out for sure I had miscarried, I left the doctor's office and went straight to the dollar store to pick up things for Awana that night. I made it through Awana...and that's how it's kind of been since then. Every day, I make it through. There are so many things to keep me busy at this time of year. It's only when I am alone in the quiet moments that the grief and the pain hit me. I've lost a baby. I have a baby in heaven.

Don't get me wrong--I completely trust God in this situation. I know that He is in control and that He has a plan. I know that my baby is with Him now, and there is no better place to be. But I am still human, and my human selfishness wants my baby back here sometimes. I think it will take quite awhile to stop feeling that way.

I do rejoice in the two healthy children that I have, and the incredibly supportive husband who stands by my side. I thank God for the family and friends who surround me, especially those who have comforted me with the words, "I've been there." I am so blessed.

I am just grieving.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Glory Baby

On Thanksgiving morning, I woke up and took one of these:


Yup! That's a positive pregnancy test! I was so excited--Scott and I have been wanting to add to our family and have been praying for a baby. I woke Scott up at 7:00 to show him the results. (Yes, I thrust a pee stick in his face first thing in the morning. Isn't that a wonderful way to wake up?)

We went to Thanksgiving at my parents' house and told our immediate family members. Of course they were all very happy for us.

On Monday, I made an appointment with my Ob/Gyn for mid-December.

On Tuesday, I started spotting a little. I called and talked to a nurse at my doctor's office, and she said that what I described was probably normal and to just call back if the bleeding got heavy or if I started to have pain. That night I went out to dinner with some great girlfriends of mine, and during the evening I started to bleed more. By the time I crawled into bed that night, I knew something had gone horribly wrong. I cried myself to sleep while Scott held me tight.

On Wednesday, I woke up in pain. I called the doctor's office, and they asked me to come in that afternoon. I made an appointment for 2:20--by then I was bleeding heavily. At the appointment, the doctor gently confirmed what I already knew--I had lost the baby. I was only about 5 weeks pregnant.

Although this experience is hard and painful, I trust God. I know that He has my little baby in heaven right now. I imagine there is a special place there for babies who never even got a chance to make it out of the womb.

There is a song from Watermark (now just Christy Nockels) called Glory Baby that keeps going through my head. I wanted to share some of the lyrics here with you:
Glory baby, you slipped away
As fast as we could say baby....baby
You were growing
What happened dear
You disappeared on us baby....baby

Heaven will hold you
Before we do
Heaven will keep you safe
Until we're home with you....

Miss you everyday
Miss you in every way
But we know there's a day
When we will hold you, we will hold you...

But baby let sweet Jesus hold you
Til Mom and Dad will hold you
You'll just have heaven before we do

Sweet little babies
It's hard to understand it 'cause we're hurting
We are hurting
But there's healing
And we know we're stronger people
Through the growing and knowing
That all things work together
For our good
And God works His purposes
Just like He said He would...

I can't imagine heaven's lullabies
And what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing
Heaven is your home
And it's all you'll ever know

My friend Vickey sent me a card yesterday that reminded me that God's hands were big enough to create the world, and they are also strong enough to heal me and gentle enough to hold me. Amen to that.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Caleb's 4th Birthday

Caleb turned four on Sunday. Happy birthday, big boy! It was just a short four years ago when he subjected me to a 24-hour back labor...Aw, sweet memories! :)

We had a family party for him on Saturday, which was lots of fun. I tried to keep it low-key (since I tend to stress out when I entertain), and I just made a bunch of appetizers for us to nibble on. After all, no one really wants a whole bunch of food 2 days after Thanksgiving!

I didn't get a great picture of our spread, but here's one:

We had lots of fresh fruit and veggies, sandwiches, hummus, crackers, cheese, trail mix, spinach and artichoke dip, and some chicken nuggets for the birthday boy. :)

To Caleb, birthdays are all about having cake. (He actually told me on Sunday that people don't grow up until they have a cake. How funny!) He wanted a Thomas the Tank Engine cake. I intended to make a 2-layer round cake with Thomas on top, but one of my cake layers stuck in the pan. So, I made another 2 cakes and turned the cake into a huge 3-layer monstrosity. I put a "track" on the top made out of chocolate Twizzlers, and then we put a new Thomas birthday engine and train car on the top. Here's how it looked:


Very easy, and not-so-Martha-Stewart in appearance, but Caleb loved it. And it was all homemade with love. :)

You know, I really learned my lesson 2 years ago when I had these elaborate plans for a 3D Tow Mater cake (from the movie Cars). I worked for so many hours on that cake, and it just fell apart the morning of the party. I fell apart, too. Scott went to Kroger at the last minute and told them what happened. He was hoping to just come home with a plain birthday cake. The lady at the bakery counter said, "Oh, he wants a Cars cake? Okay! That will take me about 10 minutes!" Scott came home with a beautifully and elaborately decorated cake, and I tried not to be bitter that it only took them 10 minutes and my slaved-over flop of a cake was in the trash!

Caleb's cousins helped him open his presents.



It was good to spend time with my wonderful family. Here's my brother, sister, and my sister's fabulous boyfriend.

My in-laws even came in from Oklahoma to celebrate with us.


They were so sweet to bring a couple of presents for Isaac so he wouldn't feel left out. And, surprise, surprise, Caleb wanted to play with those presents more than the ones that he got! (For a little while, anyway. Then he became fascinated with all of the cars and running them on the race tracks he got!)

It was such a wonderful day, and I think everyone had a good time. Next year I need to take more pictures!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Rudolph

I had a meeting at church last Monday, and Caleb went with me. He was playing fairly nicely while I was discussing all things Awana nearby. We were meeting in a big room that we use for lots of children's functions, and it afforded plenty of room for Caleb to run around and play.

There is a small stage at the front of the room with a ramp coming down either side of the stage. I told Caleb he was not allowed on the stage, but I guess it proved too tempting for him. He went up on the stage while pushing a toy grocery cart. He came down the ramp from the stage...and tripped, toppling over the cart and smashing his face into the carpet. I saw it happen, and I ran over to help him. He was crying hard, and his biggest injury seemed to be a bloody, busted lip. But over the next few hours, I saw the big, red carpet burn start to appear on his nose.


It actually looks better in the picture than it did in person. It was horrible looking! Everywhere he went, people would stare at him and ask him what happened. Scott kept calling him "Rudolph." Now, a week later, it is still red but much smaller. Poor thing. Could have been worse, though! He just looked a little funny for his birthday pictures.