Sunday, December 15, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I think it goes without saying that anyone who has experienced a loss has mixed feelings about the holidays. For me, I am happy to do things with Michaela because it's all so new and exciting for her. But there's a longing for a Christmastime that can never be without Michael. Nevertheless, we have been getting out and experiencing as much as we can.

Although we don't have a tree again this year, or lights on the house, we did decorate the living room with some of my favorite Christmas things. Michaela's favorite thing is her Little People nativity scene. She also has a Little People advent calendar, and it's fun for her to put up a new piece of the nativity scene each day. I downloaded the Jacquie Lawson advent calendar, and we've been enjoying all of its features each day when we get home. At bedtime, we're reading a sweet book called the Advent Storybook. I think the storyline is a little too complex for Michaela right now, but I can see that it might become a wonderful tradition next year and beyond.

Perhaps Michaela's favorite thing about Christmas right now is the Caillou Holiday Movie. I made the mistake of recording it recorded it on the DVR, and she insists on watching all 90 minutes of it over and over again. She bawls when it's over! I think she's in love with Caillou. I hope her taste in men improves in the future...

We celebrated Michael's birthday on the tenth by going over to Disneyland with Grandma, Grammy, and Sarah. My favorite thing about Christmas at Disneyland is the incredible fireworks show and when they make it snow. It's magical.

I've done a lot of shopping online, but Michaela has been great about going shopping with me. She knows we'll go out for lunch, and that if she's a big helper she'll get to take home a little something for herself. While I still think it would be easier to shop on my own, she has been really good every time we've gone out.

Last night, we went with Grammy, Papa, and Auntie to EV Free Church for their Christmas Boulevard event. This was our second year attending, and I had been looking forward to it. It's a huge event with sledding hills, toasting your own marshmallows over open fires, a concert, puppy petting pen (Michaela was not thrilled about the puppies, though), bounce houses, craft and ornament making stations, food trucks, and the best Santa! Our family friend, John Norling, is the photographer. He took a great photo of us last year, and we got several really nice shots again this year. I have decided not to send out Christmas cards this year, so this is our virtual Christmas greeting to all:

Click to play this Smilebox greeting
Create your own greeting - Powered by Smilebox
Make a free digital card

I hope that this Christmas you will be surrounded by those you love, and that you will know the love of Jesus - because Christmas is all about Him.

All the Christmas presents in the world
are worth nothing without the presence of Christ.
David Jeremiah

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Veteran's Day Weekend

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
A slideshow design by Smilebox

Being that my wedding anniversary is on Veteran's Day, I've made an effort to get out of town almost every year since Michael went Home. I'm afraid of sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. November and December are kind of hard. Getting away is a good distraction. 

This year, we went with my mom and dad out to Julian in eastern San Diego County. I wanted to experience a "taste of fall" - fall color, cooler temperatures, etc. There was some fall color, but the temperature was still in the 70s.

It was a pretty low-key trip. Julian is a cute little town, but we didn't spend any time there. Our Gingerbread House was so charming, and our time there so short, that we stayed put. My Aunt Maureen, Uncle Jim, and cousin Zack came out to have dinner with us on Sunday afternoon. By that evening, Michaela had a fever. So, our plans to ride the nearby train the next day were cancelled.

The drive home through some of the California Indian reservation lands was really lovely. We stopped at one of the many casinos for lunch on the way back, and I donated ten dollars to a couple of slot machines.

The weekend was over before I knew it, and had I survived another difficult date on the calendar.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Not What It Seems...

I explained my thoughts about Halloween last year here. So the following is not my Halloween post.

Michaela has cousins on Michael's side of the family who have a birthday this week. Their mom and dad have thrown them an incredible birthday party for the last five years, and we have been included in the celebration each time. The first year, Michael and I attended together, the second year I was in my first trimester of pregnancy, and the last three years I've taken Michaela with me. We have really enjoyed each party as they include so many fun activities, delicious food, and time with family members we don't get to see often. The triplets' mother says this will be the last big bash. It's an incredible amount of work for her to put these parties together, so I don't blame her. But we will miss all the fun!

Michaela had a wonderful time this year! She was finally old enough to do a lot of the things available to the kids - bounce house, "hamster ball", magician, trampoline/bungee jumper, etc. Here are some of the highlights of the afternoon:

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
This digital slideshow created with Smilebox

As for what we'll be doing tomorrow night, I think we will have a quiet night at home. We were going to go over to our church's Harvest Bash, but I figure it's going to have a lot of the same kinds of activities as the birthday party did (bounce houses, etc.), and that we have already had that kind of experience this week. Michaela won't know the difference this year, so she won't be disappointed.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pumpkin Patch 2013

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
This slideshow design created with Smilebox

It's a running tradition three years in a row now that we head out to the pumpkin patch the Friday of Mommy's conference week. That's because Mommy only has to work a half-day then! Instead of returning to Tanaka Farms, which is also a fun place to go, we decided to go to Irvine Regional Park this time. It's a great location under the old oak trees, and we were there on a beautiful day. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Potty Training

Knowing that Michaela will be my only child, I have been reluctant for her to outgrow babyish things. As exciting as it has been to see her grow and change, there has been an undercurrent in my heart of sadness that babyhood goes by as quickly as it does. Nevertheless, she is now nearly two-and-a-half, and we are at the beginnings of POTTY TRAINING! Seems like such a huge milestone that I just had to capitalize it.

I have decided that when she's potty trained, we can remove the changing table from her bedroom. I'll probably also remove the crib at that point. We co-sleep and she'll probably transition from my bed to her own twin bed next summer - if she's ready to do so. The upside is that getting rid of the changing table and the crib will allow me to put all of her toys in her bedroom instead of having them in the living room. Mommy like!

I used to read each new month's chapter in What to Expect the Toddler Years, but it's been months since I've done so. I really have no idea what my go-to book says about potty training, but I have seen a few things on the Internet that made sense to me.

The first thing that makes sense to me is to hold off on potty training until the child is ready. It's about her, not me. And quite frankly, I do not mind changing diapers all that much. Seems like "accidents" due to premature potty training efforts would be more stressful for us both than continuing to have her wear diapers. So we started talking frequently about going potty in the toilet over the summer, and I let Michaela flush the toilet. She thinks that's lots of fun. About a month ago I purchased a training potty for her to have at Grammy and Papa's house, and we ordered pull-up diapers with Dora the Explorer on them. Most recently we acquired a seat for our toilet at home so that she feels more secure. I think my next move is to get some panties for her that she will be excited about wearing. Perhaps they'll have Dora on them...

Michaela knows that every time she goes on the potty instead of in her diapers that she will get a gummy bear. That has been very motivating to her, but she still only thinks about it when she thinks about it. Know what I mean?

I have heard that devoting several days to potty training by staying home and having the child go bare is a quick way to finish the job, but as a working mom that can't happen until I have some time off. I am hopeful that she will be potty trained by the end of the year - if she's ready, of course.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

And Then It Was Fall

I thought I'd blog more often over the summer, but I just didn't have the time or desire to do so. Michaela and I were so busy with all of our summer activities. I had some thoughts and ideas for posts, but just felt apathetic about whether or not to share them here. It was a wonderful summer. Then before I knew it, I had to report back to work.

We have adjusted well to our new routine. I think this has been the easiest transition back to work since I had Michaela. She typically sleeps in until I'm just about done getting ready for work - so much easier than most mornings last year when she was a bit fussy and clingy. Now I get her up about thirty minutes before we need to leave. I hope that will continue, but with the upcoming time change it might not.

I have a good class of fifth graders, and a new teaching partner with whom I have a good friendship. It helps that we have a similar approach to teaching, and a shared worldview. She wasn't thrilled about moving up to fifth grade, but we make a good team.

Michaela is continuing to take swim lessons with Papa twice a week. She has become a swimmer! Two weeks ago she was promoted to the advanced Parent & Me class. Sadly, I was not there. It was sure to be the first of many times I will not be there for special moments. Such is the life of a working mom. Anyway, it has been exciting to watch her go from telling me that she was "all done" throughout her earliest lessons, to not wanting to get out of the pool. She swims underwater, floats on her back, and climbs out of the pool on her own. I'm very proud of her.

Grammy just started taking Michaela to two classes through her city's parks and recreation department. One day a week, Michaela takes a dance class for toddlers, and another day she does art and music for toddlers. Turns out I should not send her in cute new outfits for that class. Thankfully it was washable paint!

I hope to spend more time here in the near future. Life isn't at all what I thought it would be when I married Michael, but God has blessed me in unexpected ways. In continuing to blog, I hope to encourage others who have experienced loss more recently that God is good all the time, and He will take care of His own. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kauai 2013

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Make your own free scrapbooking design

We had the best time in Kauai with my parents. Like all trips to Hawaii, it was over much too soon. Some of the highlights were:

  • Flying first class to Lihue (thanks, Dad!).
  • Our oceanfront view.
  • Smith's Tropical Paradise Luau.
  • The train ride around the Kilohana Plantation.
  • A boat ride up the Wailua River to the Fern Grotto.
  • Dinner at Oasis on the Beach and Duke's Kauai - amazing views.

And, of course, there is the lovely scenery, the chickens that are everywhere, the roar of the ocean, gentle rain showers, tropical flora, shave ice, and that aloha spirit.

Michaela was a great traveler (she gets that from her daddy). She called our condo "Grammy's House in Kauai". So cute! She loved making sandcastles on the beach with Grammy, but wasn't too excited about getting into the ocean water.

Mommy had a great time, and I'm trying to figure out how we can go back next summer.

Monday, July 29, 2013

San Francisco - 2013

We just returned a few days ago from our yearly trip to San Francisco where we crashed with Teresa, Toby, and Wren. They are such sweet friends, and they always show us a good time in the city. Unlike last year, I decided to fly instead of drive. With gas prices being so high, and a good sale on JetBlue, I think that was the way to go. Michaela is a good traveler, and the iPad is a lifesaver while we wait at the gate and during the flight.

Teresa had great ideas for how to spend time with our little ones. We toured the San Francisco Zoo, played at the playground in Golden Gate Park, explored the Exploratorium, lunched at the Ferry Building, played at another great park at the Embarcadero, had Breakfast with Enzo, painted with watercolors (for the first time!), romped around at the Tot Gym, and had lunch with another friend from high school and her little guy. Teresa also managed to fix us delicious meals, and Toby shared some of his wine collection with me. It was great fun!

Here's a little glimpse into our week:

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Customize your own photo slideshow

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Baby, You're a Firework!

So we have this app on the iPhone and iPad that's all about Disneyland, and Michaela plays with it all the time. Because of that, she became very interested in the fireworks show, and I told her that we could go this summer. Luckily, her grandma can get us into D-land for free!

This time, we got to share the fun with our sweet friends Teresa and Wren. We went the Monday before the Fourth of July, and the crowds weren't too bad. It was a very hot day, and we decided to go in the late afternoon after the kids had napped.

It was fun to go on some "new" (to us) rides this time. We tried Dumbo, Autopia, and Pirates. Dumbo and Autopia were hits with the kids, but I think Wren was a little nervous on Pirates. I don't blame him. It's just that there was only a five-minute wait, and it was cool in there. I hope he's not been scarred for life. Michaela didn't seem to mind it.

When the fireworks show began, we found ourselves in New Orleans Square - not the ideal place to watch the show, but there was no way we were going to get over to Main Street then. After all that excitement and waiting to see the fireworks, Michaela was kind of scared during the show. I think the loud booms freaked her out. She kept telling me "All done!" and "Go home!". But by the end of the show, she seemed to relax a bit. I think the next time we see the show, she'll be fine.

Click to play this Smilebox collage
Create your own collage - Powered by Smilebox
Personalize a photo collage

I'm so glad Teresa and I were able to experience Disneyland together with our little ones. Many summers ago, we were there together as cast members in Tomorrowland.

Speaking of Tomorrowland... On our way to Autopia, we saw the band playing at Tomorrowland Terrace. Michaela loves to dance to music these days, and so we stopped by for a little bit and let her and Wren boogy. Many summers ago, her daddy played music in a band there (and at other venues in the park). Wish he could have been there with us on this day, too.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

One, two, three. Listen to Mommy!

Michaela is so good natured. When we are at Gymboree or swim lessons, she's all about having fun. No tears. No clingy-ness. It makes me so happy to see her having a good time, but one thing I've noticed is that she hasn't learned to listen to the teacher. Being a teacher, this is an important lesson in my book.

So a couple of days ago, I began to encourage her to listen to her teachers. When she does, she can do anything they direct her to. The difference since I started talking to her about this was really noticeable to me yesterday at Gymboree. I pointed out how the teacher shakes a tambourine when she's going to tell them or show them something new. Michaela caught on quickly.

Before we arrived for our first swim lesson today, I reminded her that it was important to listen to the teacher during our lesson. She did such a good job in the pool - kicking, learning to relax on her back, even going underneath the water all the way!

Once we were home, and she was eating lunch, she told me that she had listened to her teacher. Yes, she had! What was so remarkable to me about her statement was that we were not talking about the swim lesson. She seemed to be reflecting on her swim lesson. So cute!

Now, if only I could get her to listen to me when it's time to get out of the bathtub...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

Temporarily anyway.

Until late August.

School hasn't been out a week yet, and I'm not fully in summer-mode, but we're getting there. I'm decompressing and trying to be less task-oriented and more experience-oriented. I think that's what Michaela needs from me when I have time off.

So we are making it to Gymboree about every-other day, and swim lessons start tomorrow. I love watching Michaela explore all the activities at Gymboree. She is fearless! It's also fun to watch her in comparison to the other children. She does not have a shy bone in her body. She's all over the place, and not intimidated by the other children or adults. Being an introvert myself, I'm just amazed at her confidence and outgoing nature. She's so much like her daddy!

We've starting taking a walk between dinnertime and bedtime. I hoped this would tire her out and help her fall asleep faster, but she usually messes around until close to nine o'clock. Where does she get all this energy?!

One of the changes I made before school got out was to start ordering household cleaning items, paper goods, and toiletries from Amazon instead of making weekly trips to Target. Our weekends had become little more than running errands, grocery shopping, doing laundry, and cleaning up the house somewhat (I do have a housekeeper). As much as I enjoy shopping at Target, I do not miss it. Every time I realize I'm almost out of something, I just add it to my cart on Amazon. I've done several subscribe and save subscriptions for the things we use the most. Easy peasy. Should have thought of this a long time ago.

I'm also attempting to cook more instead of relying on Trader Joe to make dinner. I've been going over my recipe board on Pinterest and choosing simple, healthy recipes to try for dinner. I made banana muffins the other night, and froze them in sets of four for future breakfasts. I made red velvet cupcakes (from a box) yesterday, and took them to our Sunday family picnic in the park. Baking is something I really enjoy, but when I'm working it's just not going to happen. For my breakfast, I've been making a healthy smoothie recipe I found on, you guessed it, Pinterest! Who knew that spinach and flax seed (along with a bunch of fruit and some raw honey) could taste so good?

There are more things I hope to incorporate into our summertime, and I find myself getting frustrated that I haven't got it all up and running already - that's the task-oriented side of me. It's what makes me a good teacher, but it isn't really necessary for being a good mom of such a little child. Know what I mean? I just need to remember that the most important things to do this summer are things that bring us both joy. We deserve a little joy around here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Play Time!

Click to play this Smilebox collage
Create your own collage - Powered by Smilebox
Make a collage

We are really excited to have fun at Gymboree this summer. Last summer, we just didn't make good use of our membership. The times we did go, I felt like there were just too many kids there. Today we took advantage of the "open gym time" that usually takes place in the late afternoons or early evenings. There were only about six other kids there while we were there. Nice! One of the little boys was at least a year older than Michaela, and he was pretty rough and tough. But, we outlasted him, and by the time he was gone, we almost had the place to ourselves. There are all kinds of things to climb on, jump on, crawl through, throw, slide down, roll over, etc. Michaela played nonstop for an hour. We shut the place down!

As you can hear me say in the video, I prefer this "playground" to the one at the park because it is sand and dirt-free. Once we get home, she does not absolutely require a bath. Mommy like! Sorry, I'm one of those moms. She has Grammy and Auntie to play in the dirt with...

Gymboree is so close to our house that we walked up. Michaela has a really nice jogging stroller and I want to put some miles on it before she outgrows it. So, I got a little exercise, too.

Looking forward to more fun at Gymboree throughout the summer!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

First Day of Summer Vacation!

At times it felt like the school year would never end, but it finally did yesterday. All in all, it was a very good year. I had a great class. It was exciting, but also a little sad, to let them go. Since this was my first time teaching fifth grade, it was the first time I promoted a class on to middle school. Some of my students were very emotional saying goodbye - surprisingly they were boys! How precious is that? I will remember their tear-stained faces and the long hugs they gave me as a sendoff for a long time to come. Tender hearts...

When I woke up this morning, I expected to feel relaxed, but instead I felt apprehensive. I really want to make the most of our time this summer, and I guess I was afraid that I'd spend our first day in such a way that I'd doubt my ability to manage our time well. So, I started the day off with a quick prayer that I'd use our time in a way that glorified the Lord, and things seemed to fall into place after that.

We were up around seven, and ready to go by mid-morning. Our first stop was Gymboree to sign up for the Level 5 class, but I decided to have her attend the weekly music class, too. She's so musical! I can't wait to see how she is in that class.

After that, we did have to drop off some donations at our church's thrift shop, and take the car to the carwash. Alas, chores are a part of my summer plans. While the car was getting pampered, we spent a little while in Barnes & Noble purchasing some new books for Michaela with a gift certificate one of my students had given me yesterday. I found a board-book copy of The Little Engine that Could, and we just had to have that. Michaela likes it because it has trains, of course. I like it because I remember it from my childhood. So fun to read it together!

After a simple dinner, we made it to church for Wednesday night Bible study. Michaela has been staying awake well past the time I put her down, so I didn't feel badly for keeping her up late so that we could go to church. Some of the kids were conked out on mats when I picked her up, but she was still wide awake. As we walked out to the car, she told me, "Go home. Take nap." She fell asleep shortly after I put her to bed.

So, I feel like we spent our time fairly well today. 

The most "summery" part of the day was eating the first popsicle of the season outside on the lawn:


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Michaela is Two!

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Scrapbook customized with Smilebox

Michaela turned two on the 18th, but we postponed her party until yesterday. It was worth the wait! She is Thomas' biggest fan (no, really!), and so we had to have a Thomas theme for her party. She was delighted by all of the themed decorations, balloons, gifts, and her dress.

So far two is not terrible. Michaela is pretty easy-going most of the time, but I have noticed her asserting her independence more. However, she responds to verbal corrections well, and I don't think we've experienced the typical tantrums just yet. Not saying we won't, just that we haven't.

Michaela has so much to say. She has realized that the adults in her life have names other than Mommy, Grammy, Papa, and Auntie. She tries out our "real names" frequently. It's so funny to hear her call me by my first name. Cracks me up! She also says "three o'clock" all the time. Not sure why. I think initially she might have been saying, "I see a clock", but we thought she was saying "three o'clock". So now, that's what she says - a lot. Today she said, "Uh, Joannah? It's three o'clock." It was actually about eight o'clock in the morning. Too funny!

During our visit with the pediatrician, we learned that Michaela is 34 inches tall, 25 pounds, and the circumference of her head is 19 inches. This puts her in the 62nd percentile for height, and the 34th percentile for weight. The pediatrician predicted she would eventually be 5' 8" tall - just like her mom! At two years old, Michaela wears a size 5 diaper, 24 months or 2T clothing (most of the time...), and 6.5 shoes. She is tall and thin, so sometimes I have to buy 18 months pants, shorts, or skirts for her. Her feet are also very narrow, so finding inexpensive sandals to fit this time of year is challenging. 

We are still co-sleeping, and I think we'll do that for another year. She's a good sleeper. I put her down at the same time almost every night, and after we read a book and say prayers (she says her own sometimes), she goes to sleep without fussing. Sharing a bed with her isn't too bad. I usually sleep well - well enough anyway.

Michaela's favorite things to eat are fruit and crackers. She also loves apple juice, but I limit her to small servings and lots of water to dilute it. She decided that drinking milk was not her thing last month. I try to make up for the calcium she's not drinking by offering cheeses and yogurt, but she is fickle about them.

Her favorite toys are anything Thomas, puzzles, books, and some large lego-like blocks. She also likes some of the apps I have on my iPhone, and she loves the iPad. However, I've put it away for now. We'll pull it out again when we travel this summer. Her favorite shows are Thomas (what else?), Dora, and Caillou. I'm sorry, but we are NOT having a Caillou party next year...

I can't believe it's been two years since I first saw her face and held her in my arms. Even though I still call her "Baby Punkin" and an amazing baby, she really isn't a baby anymore. She's a busy toddler, and she is my delight!

Crystal Cove with Wren & Teresa

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Create your own free slideshow design

We took a quick trip to Crystal Cove one Saturday last month when Teresa and Wren were in town. Michaela sat right down with a couple of little girls who had come prepared with their buckets and shovels. She happily played with them for quite a while. Mommy is going to have to get over her issues with sand and dirt, and get Michaela down to the beach once a week this summer!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rethinking Summer Vacation

Well, now that I'm not marrying someone who's really wrong for me making huge life changes this summer, it's time to shift gears and rethink our summer plans.

School gets out on June 18th, and then we'll have more than ten luxurious weeks off from the daily grind. Right now it's an almost blank canvas, and I'm kind of overwhelmed. The first summer after Michaela was born was just a wonderful period of adjustment - the babymoon. Oh, how I loved that little baby punkin. Aside from sleep deprivation, it was all good. And last summer, she was just walking and so it was exciting to do new things together.

This summer I am anticipating the need to keep Michaela very busy. She is a very active little girl!

We already have plans to spend a week in Kauai with my parents in August. So that will be great! We also hope to visit our friends in San Francisco and the Central Coast, and spend a weekend with my aunt and uncle in San Diego. But that still leaves a lot of time to fill.

I think we'll:

Go back to Gymboree.

Take a weekly trip to Centennial Farms.

Go to storytime at the library.




And that's about as far as I can get for weekly activities. I draw a blank after that.

Help! What do you moms of toddlers do with your kiddos?! Working mom needs help! I kind of feel like an idiot for not knowing what more to do. Sigh...

Monday, April 1, 2013

Currently {April}

Listening: For the first time in three years, I am actually listening to and enjoying music again. That's not an entirely accurate statement. Hmmm... Let me try again. For the last three years, the only kind of music I could really listen to was worship music, and this has been a blessing. In my grief I found that secular music, even my favorite artists, triggered emotions I didn't want to feel - emotions that I had associated with Michael. So, I chose to listen almost entirely to worship music because it caused me to focus on God's love for me. I'm still listening to a lot of worship music, but I am enjoying country music and my favorite artists all over again. Here's a really cool cover of an old Hall & Oates' song (gotta love the ukelele!):

Loving: that it's Spring Break! We are spending it in Massachusetts with Mark and his family. We packed our winter wear. Their spring is like a southern California winter, or so I've gathered. ;)

Thinking: about ideas for Michaela's upcoming second birthday party. How can I make a Thomas & Friends party theme girly enough for my girly-girl? I've scouted out items on Etsy, and even the cutest stuff is boyish. Am I the only mommy with a little girl who is crazy for Thomas? I did find this, though:

I think I'll have to order that one. She'll probably want to wear it every day!

Wanting: to see the first signs of spring this month. I am looking forward to the first bloom of my roses in a few more weeks. 

Needing: to have a garage sale. I have written about this in a previous post, but I still haven't had one. The used baby gear is taking over any extra space we have here. It's gotta go!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter 2013

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
A digital slideshow by Smilebox

He Is Risen

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,  and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,  and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
1 Corinthians 15:3-8

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

Did you know that Jesus wasn't crucified on Friday? I didn't know that until a few years ago, but I could never make sense of the fulfillment of the three days and three nights prophesy until I read Jack Kelley's explanation here. God's Word never contradicts itself. We just need to understand the context! In this case, church tradition supplanted Jewish tradition, and I think it's a stumbling block for many.

What would I be without the cross? I'd be condemned. I am a terrible sinner. I have violated God's law repeatedly - sometimes ignorantly and sometimes willfully. Without the cross, once it was time for me to leave the natural world upon my death, I'd be destined to an eternity separated from God.

But God always intended to reconcile us to Him. He did so through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection. I will be eternally grateful. I am also grateful that He drew my precious husband to Himself. I have an indescribable sense of comfort in knowing that Michael was saved. I KNOW I will see him again. I know that because Jesus lives, Michael lives.

On the drive home yesterday, Michaela was babbling on about her papa (my dad). She would say his name, and then she'd say "hold you?" This is her way of saying that she wants Papa to hold her. After that she said, "Mark? Hold you?" This is her way of saying that she wants Mark (our friend from Massachusetts) to hold her. Then she said, "Daddy? Hold you?" Sigh... I told her that Daddy will hold her when we get Home to Heaven. I told her, as I have many times before, that Daddy lives in Heaven with Jesus, and that he loves us so much. While I am sad that Michael can't hold her now, I know a day is coming (and it's soon, my friends) when Jesus will return for His church. And on that day, Michaela will also meet her daddy. Somehow I think that will be eclipsed by seeing the face of God, but for now it's an wonderful expectation and comfort.

Oh, the wonderful cross. I'd be in a world of hurt without it. With it I have hope for today, and an assurity for eternity.

This Chris Tomlin song was one I had the band play at Michael's memorial service:

What does the cross mean to you, friend? Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Do you know where you will spend eternity? I hope and pray that this Resurrection Sunday, you will reflect on the true meaning of the cross and the One who shed His blood upon it for us.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Michaela @ 22 Months

Click to play this Smilebox collage
Create your own collage - Powered by Smilebox
This free photo collage generated with Smilebox

Michaela had her monthly "birthday" on Monday this past week. Mommy was just too busy to take a picture and post about it, until now. I managed to get these sweet pictures of her while she was watching Thomas & Friends yesterday afternoon. She is so beautiful. She takes my breath away.

She is still in the same sizes as last month: 24 months or 2T clothing, size 4 diaper, 6.5 shoes.

Michaela delights Mommy with all the funny things she says:
"I miss you!"
"No problem"
"There he is!" (usually referring to Thomas)
"Oh, darn"
"Thomas and friends..."

She is obsessed with Thomas. You would think he was a member of our family the way he's always on her lips. I think she loves him. It looks like her second birthday party will have a Thomas theme. Not my idea of a girly birthday party, but I think she will love it.

I tried to ditch the bottle this past month, and instead gave her milk in sippy cups (and straw cups). It went over like a lead balloon. After two weeks of rejecting her milk, we went back to Babies R Us and purchased a new set of bottles. All is well now...

I am seeing more indications of the terrible twos - stubbornness, uncooperativeness, temper tantrums, etc. But I will have to say that her temperament is such that those things are very mild, so far. It's just that she is developing a mind of her own and asserting herself more now. I have implemented time out, but she seems to enjoy it. So I don't know how effective it really is.

Next Sunday night she will do something that I didn't do until I was fourteen years old - she will travel on an airplane. My first flight took me to San Francisco, but hers will take us all the way to the East Coast. I am hopeful that she will be a great traveler like her daddy. It will be an adventure for us both.

Just two more months until a real birthday!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

One Word 2013 - March

"Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus" is one of my favorite hymns. I had no idea until tonight, when I was looking for a video to imbed here, that it was written by a widow, Louisa Stead. Can you believe that? The video tells her story:

Made me tear up because a sister in sorrow wrote that sweet song. I have learned that there is no other way through this journey of widowhood than to trust in Jesus. I was not left destitute financially like the songwriter was, but my life seemed devastated in other ways. Three years out and I'm still trusting him with our lives, and He has provided in so many ways all along. I've been incredibly blessed despite the painful loss of Michael.

Have you ever felt like the Lord was leading you into something new and life changing? I feel like I've reached the end of one season of life, and that a new season of life is about to begin - kind of like the last few days of winter just now, and the beginning of spring next week. It's like He's making all things new in my life once again. An incredible turn of events that I did not expect. And while I am so hopeful and excited for what He is doing, I need to continue to trust Him with all the possible changes this new season may bring.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It's All Good

Things are swell. Here's a little update:

We are healthy once again. Although I feel like every time I put Michaela in the nursery at church, I have just hung a big target on us both for some other set of germs to lay siege upon us. How's that for optimistic? Hopefully we have made it through the worst of flu and cold season. I have used enough sick days this year, thank you very much!

Aside from waking up an hour earlier each day this week than I did last week, I am loving Daylight Savings Time. It's so nice to have that extra hour of sunshine after work. I think we'll have to take advantage of it and get to the park in the afternoon more often. I say that, but when we get home I usually just crash. I'm so tired at that point. It's hard being a working mom. Sigh...

Report cards are done. Parent conferences are next week. This is the time of the school year where we really seem to enter the home stretch. It will be June before we know it. Yea!

Spring break is just two more weeks away. Michaela and I will be spending it in Massachusetts with our new friend and his children. My sister will be traveling with us. Pretty exciting. Lots of really good things going on between us. I feel really blessed and hopeful about the future. I'm itching to blog about it, but I don't think my friend wants me to. That's okay. I'm not even sure where I'd begin.

My friend and I are reading a book together called War of Words, by Paul David Tripp. He came bearing books for Michaela and me when he visited last month. That was a good choice on his part. I love books! Anyway, it's a great look at communication from a biblical perspective. Very convicting content. I recommend it. I can see how, if taken to heart, it could really help to change the communication in a Christian home between spouses, and between parents and children.

Lastly, I heard this quote today on a Christian radio program and it seems apropos:

When we lose one blessing, 
another is often most unexpectedly given in its place. 
~ C.S. Lewis

So true!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Three Years Later

When March 7th comes around each year, I feel like I have nothing new to say when I post this memorial tribute to him.

I still love Michael.

I still miss him.

Sometimes I still can't believe that this happened to us.

But it did.

Before everything happened I really didn't think I could live without him. A future without Michael was unthinkable to me. Thankfully, the Lord has shown me otherwise. He has blessed me with Michaela, and while she is her own person, there is enough of Michael in her that I kind of feel like I see him every day. That is such a sweet gift.

Three years later, I have dealt with most of my grief issues, but I have not put away the pictures. They are there for me as much as they are there for Michaela. I want her to know what her daddy looks like - and she has from before she was even a year old. I stop and look at them frequently, remembering the things we did together, and enjoying his incredible smile. Sometimes I still cry a little bit, but usually I take comfort in knowing that I will see him again - and then we'll never have to say goodbye.

I'm very grateful for the part of my life that I shared with Michael, but I wish that it had been much, much longer.

There seems to be a song for almost everything, and this one is one that always comes to mind when I'm missing Michael:

Your smile lights up a room
Like a candle in the dark
It warms me through and through
And I guess that I had dreamed
We would never be apart
But that dream did not come true

Missing you is just a part of living
Missing you feels like a way of life
I'm living out the life that I've been given
But baby I still wish you were mine

And I cannot hear the telephone
Jangle on the wall
And not feel a hopefull thrill
And I cannot help but smile
At any news of you at all
And I guess I always will
{Missing You ~ Amy Grant}

I still love you, Honey.

I took Michaela by Michael's niche at the memorial park today. We didn't stay long. It's not really a place for little ones, and I don't get any comfort standing there looking at his urn. Michael isn't there. He's in Heaven. He's okay. He's more than okay. I'm okay. I'm really okay. I was disappointed that the red roses I ordered for the week turned out to be deep pink gerber daisies instead. Oh, well...

Tomorrow I have arranged to have a substitute so that I can take the day. We'll spend it with Michael's mom and his sisters. I'm sure it will be a good day in spite of the reason why we're getting together.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Currently {March}

Image credit:
Listening: once again to some of the music that carried me during the last days of Michael's life on Earth, and through the painful weeks and months that were to come. One of my favorites back then was this one:

Oh, how I took those lyrics to heart in my grief! I believed that I had to keep moving forward. Three years later, I can say that the Lord has been faithful to heal my broken heart and give me a hope for my future. He is so good.

Loving: the idea that next weekend begins Daylight Savings Time. Woohoo! Spring is almost here.

Thinking: about change. There may be big changes in my life sometime soon. Change is good, and I believe I'm ready to begin a new chapter in my life. 

Wanting: to get over this ridiculous cold and cough I've had for two weeks now. It's exhausting. I can't remember having such a bad cold for many, many years. I can tell that I'm better than I was, but I think this cough intends to hang around for a while.

Needing: to start report cards and prepare for parent conferences which start two weeks from Monday. I can't believe we are already at this point in the school year. It'll be June before I know it! Yea!!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

He's Not My "Ex"

Twice recently (once today, actually!) I have had people refer to Michael as my ex or my ex-husband. I know they just misspoke, but the connotation of those terms rubs me the wrong way. My understanding is that an "ex" spouse is one from whom you are divorced.

I am not divorced.

I am widowed.

Michael is my late husband.

I know there are far more divorced people than widowed people and so referring to "exes" is far more common, but I don't think I'm out of line for taking the slightest offense to that term being used to describe my Honey. Our separation was not by choice - we did not choose to end our marriage.

If Michael was anywhere on this planet, nothing would keep me from him. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Michaela @ Twenty-one Months

I've been provoking Michaela by practicing with my new camera. Sometimes she really doesn't appreciate having the camera pointed at her - thus the top photo. Other times, she'll ham it up for me.

This month has gotten off to a rough start for us. We've both been sick with upper respiratory infections. Our sleep has been off, and Michaela hasn't had much of an appetite. We are looking forward to spring and better health.

At twenty-one months, Michaela wears 2T or 24 months sized clothing. Her current shoe size is a 6 or 6.5, and she's in a size 4 diaper. 

The most amazing thing about this age is the language development. She tries out new words all the time, and she's stringing more phrases and short sentences together. It won't be long before we're having real conversations.

Before bedtime every night we read "Goodnight Moon". It's such a sweet time to cuddle and conclude our day. In the morning she wants to read the book to me, and she does a great job. She's got a terrific memory. I realized that what she's doing are classic pre-reading skills - things I remember doing with my first graders. She's doing a "picture walk" and telling the story as she sees it. Very exciting for her teacher mama to witness!

Twenty-one months. Bittersweet for her mama, but just perfect for her.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I Can't Wait to Get to Heaven

I am just a little less than three weeks from the date of Michael's Home-going. It will be three years on March 7th. My mom's dear friend, Carolynn, is marking two years today since her beloved Bob went Home, and another friend just marked what would have been his son's twentieth birthday this past week. All of us are grieving our loved ones, but we do so with the assurance that in time, perhaps very soon, we will see them again in Heaven.

I grew up listening to the music of Keith Green. I remember having the opportunity to go with my youth group to see a concert of his, but for some reason (that I can't remember) I didn't go. Not too long after that he went Home. I have always regretted not going to that concert, but I will be seeking out Keith when I get Home to thank him for ministering to me with his music throughout my life.

This morning, his widow, Melody, posted this quote on Keith's Facebook page. It's the introduction to one of my favorite songs of his:
“You know, I look around at the world and I see all the beauty that God made. I see the forest and the trees and all the things... And it says in the Bible that He made them is six days and I don't know if they're a literal six days or not, scientists would say no, some theologians would say yes. But I know that Jesus Christ has been preparing a home for me and for some of you, for two thousand years -- and if the world only took six days and that home two thousand years -- Hey man, this is like living in a garbage can compared to what's going on up there.”  
Yes, it's a garbage can, but one day the Lord will make all things new. Maranatha!


Friday, February 15, 2013

One Word 2013 - February

As I attempt to write this post tonight, I am once again sitting in bed next to my congested and clingy baby punkin. She will not rest unless I am here with her. Consequently, the dishes are undone, her bag for tomorrow is unpacked, the trash is overflowing, and many other things will go undone tonight. So, presently I am trusting the Lord to heal my sweet girl and restore her to good health so that our nighttime routine can return to normal, and I can have a little time to myself in the evenings once again (and the chores can get done).

I have found my circumstances in the last couple of weeks to be challenging in some ways, and I've really had to remind myself to trust the Lord. And, just when I start to falter in my trust, He blesses me. He is so good. He is so faithful. My needs and concerns matter to Him. I just need to rest in that.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
{Philippians 4:6-7}

Trust = Peace 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Michaela's Valentines

Angela, and her sweeties Peter and Favour, sent Michaela Valentines and stickers today! What a wonderful surprise to come home to. Michaela made quick work of the stickers by putting them all over her shirt and her pants. Thank you, sweet friends, not just for today's mail, but for your friendship and for your prayers. God bless you!