WFMW: Swallowing Pills

Do you remember what it was like trying to learn how to swallow pills?  Like it was yesterday I remember the way the pill would swirl around and around in my mouth as I took in a mouthful of water.  It swam like a whale and then beached itself on the front of my tongue, even more forward than where I had dutifully placed it to begin it’s journey.  Not only that, it now tasted horrible.

Somewhere along the way, long after I’d learned how to swallow them successfully, I read a great tip and stored it for future reference.  It worked beautifully with both boys.  Adam learned how to swallow pills when he was five!  Liam didn’t need to until a bit later, but also learned very quickly.

learn how to swallow pills (1 of 1)

Put some water into a water bottle, like the 20 oz kind.  Anything with a smaller opening that automatically creates a pursed mouth shape.  If the bottle is only a third full or so, they will need to tip their heads back.  We started with a tiny soft gel because they are the easiest to swallow.  You can get little fish oil soft gels for kids or Vitamin D soft gels.  As soon as they got over the hurdle of letting something go down with fluids, they had no trouble swallowing a larger capsule.  Adam has superceded me by a long shot and swallows four or more capsules at a time. {eyes bulging!}  And I know, why would a child need to swallow so many pills? Lyme will do that to you.  Thank God we’re nearing the end of the many capsule nights for both boys!

Have you helped someone learn how to swallow pills? Any great tips?

Pregnancy & Plexus

This pregnancy is flying faster than I imagined it was possible for a pregnancy to fly!  I’m quite sure it has an enormous deal to do with it being baby number four and the way my days are filled to the brim with little time to think.  I’m equally convinced it has a lot to do with not being in abject misery for months and months on end!

I’ve just passed the seventeen week mark and I still can hardly believe I will likely make it through an entire pregnancy without my insides trying to reach the outside with projectile force.  Actually, I think I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I am pregnant in the first place.

So what made such an enormous difference?

That little pink drink, of course!

plexus (1 of 1)

I’d been hearing stories of women dealing with infertility (including cases of endometriosis) getting pregnant after starting Plexus.  I’d heard a lot about hormones falling into line after getting their blood sugar stabilized.  I knew I was feeling better; but I didn’t expect that it would make such a night and day difference for me.  But even as I steeled my heart for what would likely be another long emotional journey, boom, there it was.  A little plus sign sending shock waves of joy through our hearts.

I think I’ve finally found the cocktail that works best for my morning sickness days, er weeks, er months.  While Plexus has eliminated morning sickness for many women completely, I only got relief of the desperate level I used to experience.  This time there were only about three or four days of wishing I could die instead of weeks on end.  There was feeling yucky and being on the couch for hours, but infinitely less gagging and none of that unmentionable projectile stuff.  Did you get that? None!  Food tasted gross a lot, but dishes didn’t send me over the edge.  Previous pregnancies? I often couldn’t even get within three feet of my completely empty and clean kitchen sink without dire results for a few weeks.  While I still got sick at five weeks this time, it didn’t last nearly as long! At nine weeks when the intensity usually escalated out of control, I started feeling a little better! By eleven, I was definitely seeing light (say what?!) and by fifteen my head was clearing and energy was returning.

Lack of energy was definitely bigger for me this time than nausea and I’m pretty sure the recent Lyme / mono attack was to blame as much or more than the pregnancy.  Often when I couldn’t pick myself up to do anything I realized it wasn’t the typical first trimester exhaustion, but the familiar exhaustion coupled with super heavy arms that didn’t even want to be told to lift from last summer. It makes me really curious what this pregnancy would have been like had I not been so depleted going into it.  Even so, I am infinitely grateful to actually be able to enjoy parts of being pregnant! The closest I ever got to this feeling was sometimes for two weeks in the middle when I said, “I think I can see why some women say they enjoy being pregnant.” :)

I’m loving all the little kicks going on.  Baby is super active, much like I remember Liam used to be.  I think he / she is having fun in there!  And speaking of he / she, three more weeks til the gender reveal assuming baby cooperates! We can’t wait!

Here’s my full pregnancy arsenal this time around.  I was on progesterone with Zara and noticed a slight improvement in the level of nausea.  This time when I started getting sick David suggested I get back on it, just for that.  The combination of triplex, progesterone, and lemon water was pretty impressive.  If I missed even one night of either ProBio or progesterone I could tell a big difference in how I felt the next day!  I weaned myself off the progesterone at twelve weeks because by then the placenta manufactures a lot of it on it’s own.  I couldn’t wait, because while it does seem to help me with nausea, it also seems to make me gain weight like nobody’s business and it makes me super, super tired.  From then on there were iffy hours and a random bad day here and there, but so much improvement over my history!  Now I just want to tell the entire world of women who are holding down the couch as they grow tiny humans inside, there is hope!!!

morning sickness (1 of 1)

I showed the supplements to my midwife even though I’d heard that many, many OB/GYN’s and midwives across the country are approving them for women in their care.  They couldn’t see any reason why there would be a problem with them and I happily continued.  I love that I have FINALLY found a vitamin that doesn’t make me sick.  I’ve never taken vitamins consistently during pregnancy because they make me even ridiculously more ill.  So I duly swallow them until the nausea rears its head, hoping to get enough folic acid in to reduce the risk of spina bifida and then quit until about twenty-four weeks when I take them as I can handle them. This time I took vitamins every single day! Yeah for baby!  The X factor doesn’t have iron in it so no nausea.  Instead, it contains black currant which helps your body to absorb iron better.  There are even stories of people with long standing anemia who have had their iron levels come up because of taking the X factor!

Interested in knowing more about Plexus? Email me at smilesbymiles{at}gmail{dot}com or message me on facebook.  If you’re early in pregnancy I promise your secret is safe with me. 😉  And if you’re looking for help with other health issues I have so many hopeful testimonials I’d love to share with you!

A 40th birthday celebration

Back in September my friend, Jeanne, was talking about how she’d thrown a fortieth birthday party for her husband, Keith.  Now he was wanting to do the same thing for her and stressing about how to make it happen.  I jokingly said, “Oh tell him I want to help.”  The more I thought about it, the more I realized I wasn’t joking.  It really would be a lot of fun.  I sent him a text in early November and told him if he wanted a party planner I’d love to help.  He was delighted; but hardly as much as I was.

40th birthday party (18 of 27)

Plan a fun party about the time the doldrums of winter are setting in? Yes, please! Plus, I knew it would give me something pretty and fun to focus on during the hardest part of my pregnancy.  Our mutual friend, Nola, offered to help which made my job so much easier.  I got to know Keith and Jeanne almost seven years ago when I wrote a piece of their story.  Getting to know someone on such an intimate level does something to bond your hearts quickly.  They’ve been friends of ours ever since.  But sometimes, like when planning a party, I realize how much our relationship developed on a heart level first.  I didn’t know her favorite foods or colors; so having a friend step in who knows her so much better than I do was amazing.  Plus, Nola is a genius in the kitchen which is clearly not my forte.  Cha ching.

40th birthday party (5 of 27)

Keith gave us a guest list and answered a few questions about whether he wants a formal dinner or a fun come and go type of event, but other than that, he pretty much turned us loose.  And oh, did we have fun!

Because Jeanne loves blues and we were planning an early January event, it seemed like a natural fit to incorporate snowflakes, aqua, a touch of silver, and lots of white.

40th birthday party (9 of 27)

40th birthday party (16 of 27)

40th birthday party (8 of 27)

If you don’t know Keith and Jeanne, the best way I know to describe them is outgoing, friendly, generous, and fun.  You know how often people marry their opposites? Well, Keith and Jeanne definitely aren’t carbon copies of each other, but they both love being with people. Sometimes when I was running party plans around in my mind, my thoughts kept going to Jeanne and how much she embodies what the word friendship really means.  She is always thoughtful of others, asking how they are, giving little gifts, finding ways to care for and bless others.  She’s the first person I thought of when the neurologist called and said I need you to have Zara in the ER by 5:00 because I knew that not only would she stop and drop to take care of our boys, her heart would understand mine without us needing to talk about it.  She’s the friend who remembers little things, who enjoys your kids, and checks in with a text if she doesn’t hear from you for awhile.  But when she first talked about the possibility of Keith doing a party for her she said, “If anyone throws a party for me, I don’t want any gifts.” It seemed a bit strange coming from someone who loves to give to others; but it made a lot of sense when we asked her more about it.  “I love to give gifts; but I just don’t ever want my friends to feel obligated to give me a gift.”   We really wanted to respect her wishes, but still have her go home with something tangible so we sent out blank cards with the invitations and asked people to share memories or a blessing on her life. Words of life and blessing are sometimes one of the most meaningful gifts of all; and sometimes the one we most forget to give to others.

40th birthday party (1 of 27)

The hardest part was going to be surprising Jeanne.  She is incredibly intuitive and because she is such a caring person, she stays in touch with her friends a lot.  Living over an hour away, I knew I was pretty safe unless I inadvertently sent a text to her instead of Keith. Being virtually next door, Nola had a tougher time keeping everything out of sight when Jeanne would pop in out of the blue.  It was so much fun having her actually be so surprised! I think she herself was surprised at being surprised! :)  A few days before her party, she switched a child’s birthday party to that night and Keith wisely let her go.  So instead of suspiciously looking for something to happen the morning of her party, she was busily making taco soup and cake.

40th birthday party (27 of 27)

Jeanne’s local friends helped with food {we could never have made so many fun dishes for a crowd of fifty by ourselves} and our husbands were amazing … hanging lights and tulle with precision, running after balloons, making jalapeño poppers, capping strawberries … if it needed to be done, they did it.

40th birthday party (19 of 27)

40th birthday party (11 of 27)

40th birthday party (12 of 27)

40th birthday party (7 of 27)


You know how sometimes you plan an event and then when it happens, you wish you would have done something differently? This was one of those times when it felt like everything happened perfectly.  Well, aside from the fact that I should have given myself an extra hour on Saturday and the fact that the whipping cream I stabilized suddenly decided to go wibbly wobbly; but that’s pretty minor.  It was pretty and sparkly just like we’d hoped.  The food was delightful to look at and even more fun to eat.

40th birthday party (21 of 27)

40th birthday party (20 of 27)

40th birthday party (23 of 27)

40th birthday party (22 of 27)

40th birthday party (24 of 27)

And everywhere you turned, there were little groups of friends talking and laughing and having a great time.

40th birthday party (13 of 27)

40th birthday party (14 of 27)

40th birthday party (26 of 27)

40th birthday party (3 of 27)

40th birthday party (2 of 27)

I remember during the planning process thinking about Keith and Jeanne … about how much they love each other and love to surprise each other with little things.  But I also thought about how much they shower love on others.  When I imagined what they would want if they verbalized it I could hear Keith wanting the party to be about celebrating Jeanne’s life; but I could also hear them both wanting it to be a wonderful time for all their friends who came.  Because that’s who they are.  That night, surrounded by so much happiness, I couldn’t help but savor how much friendship is a gift that gives full circle.

40th birthday party (25 of 27)

Storm Jonas

If it’s going to snow, this was an awesome way for it to happen!

storm Jonas (1 of 1)

After lots of preparation and window peeking while doing school, the first flurries showed up around noon on Friday.  We haven’t had any significant snowfall this winter so any snow would have been fun.  But predictions for one to two feet?! That’s cause for some excitement! The timing couldn’t have been more perfect! In Virginia, a big snow usually meant a snow day both for school kids and construction workers.  When you do school at home and you live practically within breathing distance of your husband’s job, it’s a little tougher to get a break unless you declare a vacation day.  We had about thirty minutes of school work left for the week when the snow arrived and better yet, the biggest snow day would be on Saturday when David was home.

storm Jonas (2 of 1)

We haven’t had a lot of free weekends recently.  Who am I kidding? We never do since we live here.  This one was supposed to be an at home weekend; but to have it turn completely into a fun, kick back and relax weekend was such a fun gift!

storm Jonas (7 of 1)

storm Jonas (8 of 1)

storm Jonas (9 of 1)

storm Jonas (14 of 1)

It’s the kind of weekend that makes memories forever.  Lots of time to read, to play in the snow (although somebody got the flu and somebody’s mom hadn’t purchased baby girl snow pants so that didn’t turn into an all family event this time), fun foods, lots and lots of coffee (ah, finally, finally I can drink it again!), excited snow measuring, a fiercely competitive game of Monopoly, and watching a movie together.  And that word is perhaps what makes it so much fun.  Together.

storm Jonas (10 of 1)

storm Jonas (11 of 1)

(Zara watched Liam and started begging, “Me. Me. RaRa. Eeeeeeee. Me. Finally it was her turn.  This picture happened about 1.7 seconds before the look of terror turned to crying, “no, nooooooo” and the ride had to be aborted. She doesn’t want anymore eee rides.)

So many hours to be together … having fun, playing, talking … while the deep snow muffled the noisy demands of life.

storm Jonas (3 of 1)

I love the way the world gets still outside when snow falls.  White. Beautiful. Pristine. And silent.

But I love even more the way it quiets our normal and helps us pay attention to little things again.

The way it gives opportunity for big conversations about life that might not have happened otherwise.

storm Jonas (4 of 1)

The way it reminds us of how barren can become beautiful.

I tried a new recipe this weekend that was an instant hit for David and I. (Don’t bother asking the boys for their opinion.  Their taste buds are still developing.) These Greek gyros with homemade pitas and Tzatziki sauce are oh so delicious.  The only thing I’d change next time is to add a bit more salt to the chicken and up the seasonings in the sauce just a tad.  But this and a Greek salad on the side? Party in my mouth.

chicken gyros (1 of 1)

Did you get hit by the storm? Tell me something about your snow party.

Happy New Year

It’s the start of another year and always the perfect time to reflect, dream, plan.

When we were little girls, I read a story about another family who wrote out their bad habits and burned them and then wrote out their New Years resolutions.  I don’t recall whether that was the first year Mom stayed up with us to see the New Year in or whether we just added that little tidbit to the staying up tradition.  Being a list oriented person already back then, I was enthralled with the concept.

If only it were that easy to get rid of bad habits and reach new goals.

These days I feel far less inclined to make a list of goals in favor of thoughtful evaluation and dreaming.  Not that goals are bad in any way, but I know my tendency to get over-achieving list happy and then feel like a failure when I can’t possibly accomplish it.  So this year I’m taking a moment to think about the future.

Like anyone, we have things we are excited about and things that feel heavy.  But this year, we have one thing our entire family is excited about!

baby announcement (1 of 1)

Oh summer, come quickly!

An Auto Ramble

Somewhere in October or early November our family seems to get hit with an exploring itch.  When Spring comes, we head out to enjoy our favorite places.  Summer arrives with a plethora of outdoor activities.  But October? October sends chilling winds that remind us of how much easier it will be to stay inside with a baby and a cold-blooded mom and suddenly we’re itching to explore somewhere new before the year is over.

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (6 of 36)

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (9 of 36)

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (8 of 36)

Most times we think of hiking.  For being so far back in the mountains, our immediate area of Maryland is surprisingly void of great family hikes.  We toyed with the idea of driving over an hour to try one of the hikes on our “to do while living in Maryland” list, but it was a little late in the afternoon to pull it off.  The leaves were pretty much at peak and David and I thought it would be fun to drive around Green Ridge State Forest to enjoy the color.  I was pretty sure the boys wouldn’t share our enthusiasm at sitting in the van for a few hours so we sent them outside to play hard for thirty minutes while we fixed little snack bags of popcorn, chocolate truffles, pumpkin lattes and a hot tea for Liam.

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (2 of 36) Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (4 of 36)

It worked perfectly.  Zara immediately conked out in her car seat and the boys were enthralled with their snack.

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (1 of 36) Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (5 of 36) Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (3 of 36)

The leaves were the prettiest I’ve seen since we moved here!

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (7 of 36)

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (10 of 36)

We drove to Point Lookout, a fantastic view of the Potomac River valley and the horseshoe curve of the river itself.  This article describes more of the history of the overlook including the fact that George Washington used to own the land.  In fact, this part of the river was known as George Washington’s Horseshoe Bend.  It was also used as a lookout by union soldiers during the Civil War.  I always find it easier to imagine history happening here because of how remote it is.  Some of those winding roads are paved now, but it only takes a little imagination to think about what it might have been like for Mr. Cresap trying to build a road through those mountains to make it easier to get from Fort Cumberland to Fort Frederick.  I can’t imagine how hard and how isolated their lives must have been back then, trying to eek out an existence on poor soil.

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (11 of 36)

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (12 of 36)

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (13 of 36)

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (14 of 36)

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (17 of 36) Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (18 of 36) Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (19 of 36) Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (20 of 36) Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (22 of 36)

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (21 of 36)

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (24 of 36)

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (27 of 36)

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (26 of 36)

Just a bit further down the road is the Carroll chimney, the only part remaining of an 1836 steam powered sawmill. The boys disappeared while I was getting Zara out of the van.  I rarely worry about them when we are out and about around here, because there is seriously never anyone around.  It is the most amazing thing how you can drive around most of the afternoon and spot maybe one vehicle.  By the time I got to the chimney, David was casually waiting on me and the boys were nowhere in sight.  I asked where they were and he acted completely nonchalant.  It was the oddest thing. There was nowhere for them to be and I couldn’t believe they’d just wandered out of sight that quickly.  Neither is it like David to let them.  I called.  No answer.  I couldn’t figure out why David wasn’t more worried and suddenly I got desperate.  Just like that he grinned and said, “alright guys, come out.”

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (31 of 36)

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (35 of 36)

I heard giggles and saw legs emerging from the chimney.  Seriously.  They love nothing more than to get me all worried about them!  Funny boys.

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (32 of 36)

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (34 of 36)

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (33 of 36)

The sun was dropping fast and the temperature was dropping even faster.  We were trying to make it to one more overlook and instead got thoroughly lost! It took us nearly two hours to drive home as we blindly followed our GPS hoping to get back out of the confusing forest.    It’s all part of exploring, you know!

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (36 of 36)

Green Ridge State Forest Maryland (28 of 36)

Last year around this same time we hiked Lovers Leap.

Lovers Leap (1 of 17) Lovers Leap (2 of 17)

Lovers Leap (6 of 17)

Lovers Leap (3 of 17)

Lovers Leap (7 of 17)

We were a little disappointed because the hike was pretty short and very easy. We were looking for the “break into a sweat, hope you brought a snack” kind of hike.  But the view from the top was stupendous!  It’s the kind of thing where you know it’s going to be great, but then you get there and it almost takes your breath away!

Lovers Leap (10 of 17)

Lovers Leap (11 of 17)

Lovers Leap (14 of 17)

Lovers Leap (12 of 17)

Lovers Leap (5 of 17)

Lovers Leap (4 of 17)

Lovers Leap (9 of 17)

The wind tends to be really strong at the top … we read this little fact before hiking, but didn’t think it could be that bad.   They meant it.  The wind was so strong and the drop off so steep that it felt a little unsafe to have small children up there.  That day it felt like it could throw Liam off balance.  Not a good scenario when you’re at the top of a precipice!  We’ve opted out of taking guests with families, but the easy hike, great view, and name make it seem like a fun place to hang out as a couple with a blanket and a picnic basket!  I’ve heard there is great bird-watching there, too, especially when the birds are migrating.

Lovers Leap (13 of 17)

Lovers Leap (17 of 17)

Lovers Leap (16 of 17)

Do you have a  favorite way to explore the world with your family? I’d love to hear about it!

Lovers Leap (15 of 17)


WFMW: Norwex

Remember that post I did about my favorite cleaning products way back here?  Well, I have a new favorite.  When so many people came out of the woodwork to vouch yes for Norwex I decided to give it a try.  I ordered the enviro cloth and the window cloth online and I was hooked!  Seriously. This house has old windows that are impossible to clean.  No matter what I did they kept that streaky, old, cloudy look.  Now?  Let me tell you.  I whizz over them and they are sparkling clean!  Well, when I whizz over them they are.  There is a toddler in my house.  More often than not there are adorable hand prints and not so adorable pretzel smears on them.

I was getting ready for my family to come when Lindsey, the boy’s piano teacher, noticed me swiping down windows.  She looked in disbelief and said, “I want one of those for my house.”

Now I had a party and I want half the stuff in the book!  The funny thing is, I figured out I’ve been cleaning my windows wrong and it still worked. 😉 I can’t wait to try it the way it’s supposed to be done to see if I’m even happier.  I was using the enviro cloth really wet and then using the window cloth damp.  Literally, all I did was wipe.  I didn’t worry about water droplets left behind and as long as I didn’t clean it when the sun was shining on it, I had no trouble.  Now I’m hearing you usually leave the window cloth dry.  I’m anxious to try it but I might stick with my way since it works.  Having a damp cloth makes for less resistance which translates into less stress for my grouchy shoulder muscle.  I like being able to clean all the windows in the house without suffering for two days afterward.

I love that I don’t have to carry around paper towels and windex and a trash bag and that I don’t go through a roll of paper towels every time I do a thorough inside and out job!  Want to try them for yourself?  You can order them here.  My first recommendation is the basic package.  You can literally clean most things in your house with just this!  I’ve only been using mine for windows.  At the party I learned that people use the enviro cloth for anything from dusting to cleaning bathrooms to getting mechanic grease out of carpets. Yes, you heard right.  Just the cloth and water!!  How’s that for a simple cleaning routine?

If you’re lucky, you might even get help! If not with the scrubbing, at least with the fingerprinting.

June 15 (147 of 148)

My party is still open until October 31st so if you order before then you can use Michelle Beachy for your host.  After October 31st, just skip the host name.

Happy scrubbing!

A Season of Change

There is something so cozy about those first gray days of autumn.  Much as I love summer and dread winter, I’m so grateful the colorful whirl of summer doesn’t drop off into the drab silence of winter in a grinding halt.  Autumn is such a nice transition.  I love the vibrant colors, digging out cozy sweaters, and eating comfort food.

seasons change

Most of all, I love the way life feels slower, even if it isn’t.  Spring feels so energizing and will forever be my favorite.  But there is something about autumn that feels as though the entire world is doing something restful … kind of the equivalent of a walk at sunset.  I love to watch leaves drift to the ground, the goldenrod waving in the wind, steam rising from mugs of hot tea.

I wish life would slow down a little bit, too.  It’s hard to imagine that some day we’re going to be in the autumnal season of life and feel like our days are long and slow.  Some day I’ll be up until 1:00 because of insomnia, not because I can’t get enough done in the daytime.  We’re living in summer right now with all it’s color and noise and activity.

As though life with three kids and homeschooling weren’t crazy enough on it’s own, David and I are signed up to to do a life counseling course this fall and winter.  David has been wanting to go ever since we moved here to help him with the work he is doing at camp.  I’ve been balking.  Mostly because I couldn’t figure out what to do with the kids and partially because I wasn’t sure how in the world I was going to read through the required reading during the school year. By the time I get to the end of the day my brain is fried, not ready to dig into complex thought patterns.  And thirdly, I was scared.  I’ve been to counseling before … not often but enough to know that you either resonate with the counselor or you don’t.  This is more of a group work thing and I’ve got a few fears about that, too.  But my one main fear was what would happen to me afterward.  While I’ve worked through a lot of the shattered pieces of my past, I don’t know what will happen if I need to revisit them.  I’ve learned to know God in incredible, life-giving, foundational ways in the last five years.  I would like to believe that the truths that have replaced the lies I believed are strong enough to let me talk about pain without becoming undone, but I don’t know that.  I want to learn more truth … but I don’t know about doing it in the middle of a school year when there is not time for phsyical, mental, and emotional rest.

Meanwhile, I’ve started on the daunting book list and the reading is phenomenal!  I have three books to read before the middle of November and I’ve been plugging away at the first for over a month.  I’m telling you, this is a problem.  I sit down to read and promptly fall asleep.  It’s not the kind of reading you can do when the kids are catapulting in the living room and you barely notice they’re saying they’re hungry because it’s captivating.  But it is, oh, so good.  My first book is, Cry of the Soul, by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III.  Incredible book about emotions and how instead of calling them good or bad, we should let them guide us to the hard questions we’re really trying to ask.

Thoughts like these really resonated with me:

Because I want to eliminate struggle: “Therefore, don’t assume that resolving your turbulent emotions is the key to meeting God.  …. The absence of tumult, more than its presence, is an enemy of the soul.  God meets you in your weakness, not in your strength.  He comforts those who mourn, not those who live above desperation.  He reveals Himself more often in darkness than in the happy moments of life.”

Because I have had types of pain where this is true: “Another way to dull the intensity of our inward groaning is by attempting to avoid our emotions.  For many, strong feelings are an infrequent, foreign experience.  Their inner life is characterized by an inner coolness, bordering on indifference.  Unfortunately, this is often mistaken for trust.  In many circles passionate emotions are discouraged as unspiritual.  You are considered godly if you can handle difficult trials with a detached and apparently unruffled confidence.

“But this conclusion is wrong.  There are times when lack of emotion is simply the by-product of hardness and arrogance.  The Scriptures reveal that this absence of feelings is often a refusal to face the sorrow of life and the hunger for heaven; it is not a mark of maturity, but rather the boast of evil.”

And on page 24, “Emotions open the door to asking hard questions: Does life make sense? Is there any real purpose to my pain? Why must every relationship end? Is God good?  If we are to understand ourselves honestly — and, more importantly, know God — we must listen to our emotions.”

Emotions are really like a window to our soul.  They reflect the drives, passions and gods of our soul.  They are an invitation to see deep into our heart and repent of unholy motivation if we choose to think about the why behind the emotion that surfaced instead of only dealing with the emotion itself.  I was surprised, when I tried this the next time I felt crazy indignation rise up inside of me.  It’s so true.  So many times when we feel anger, it’s not even so much at the situation itself, but about something bigger.  Is life fair? Is God fair? Is God going to work things out for good in my life?

I’m excited about reading the rest of the list … assuming I can stay awake to do it!


“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”– C.S. Lewis

In the Space of Five Minutes

Zara is so very busy right now.  Her attention span is gradually lengthening by seconds, but it still feels like a blip before she moves on to the next thing.  Just in the last few weeks she’s started playing pretend play and it’s so much fun to watch!  She feeds her baby cheerios before eating them herself, brushes her hair, rocks her, and then dumps her unceremoniously over the crib rail for a nap before coming out to find me with many gestures and frantic “be be, be be, be be’s” until I figure out she needs her baby from the crib.

This favorite “be be” was a yard sale find I picked up years ago.  Zara completely ignored it until I replaced it’s tattered clothes with this little outfit I sewed from scraps of her own.  She suddenly wanted to carry it around for a few weeks.  But as the summer progressed, the doll was often left behind.  I bought her a new doll and stroller, just in time for school to start in hopes that it would help her transition.  She had no patience for the box or the checkout line and we had to get the baby out as soon as we got to the van.  For two days, she played with almost nothing but the new baby.  Then suddenly, it got dropped into the toy box and she won’t touch it.  But, the old baby is suddenly just fabulous again.  She plays and plays with it and even wants to sleep with it.

One day after she woke from her nap, I gave her the baby and followed her with my camera for a few minutes.  Seriously, probably five.  It is completely possible to have a million facial expressions (all positively adorable to your mom), pretend to blow your nose, pretend to bathe your baby with the same tissue, and then trot to the bedroom.  There you will laboriously crawl onto the rocking chair then figure out you need baby so you get back off and then find it impossible to get on.  So you crawl back on but don’t have baby at which point Mom will hand you the baby.  But then in 3.2 seconds you’ll throw the baby on the floor and start the process over.  After one minute and 45 seconds it’s time to throw the baby in the crib.  After all, her hair have been brushed, she’s been rocked and you just remembered there are books to read.

Oh, Zara.

doll clothes to match (2 of 56)

doll clothes to match (3 of 56)

doll clothes to match (4 of 56)

doll clothes to match (5 of 56)

doll clothes to match (6 of 56)

doll clothes to match (7 of 56)

doll clothes to match (8 of 56)

doll clothes to match (9 of 56)


(I think I need to do something else.)doll clothes to match (11 of 56)

doll clothes to match (13 of 56)

doll clothes to match (14 of 56)

doll clothes to match (15 of 56)

doll clothes to match (16 of 56)

doll clothes to match (17 of 56)

doll clothes to match (18 of 56)

doll clothes to match (20 of 56)



(Are your clothes clean?)
doll clothes to match (21 of 56)



(I need a brush for her hair. Let me go get one.)doll clothes to match (22 of 56)

doll clothes to match (24 of 56)

doll clothes to match (25 of 56)

doll clothes to match (26 of 56)

doll clothes to match (28 of 56)


( I really think you just need a nap.)doll clothes to match (30 of 56)

doll clothes to match (39 of 56)


(I guess I’ll just play with the brush.  No. Wait.  I need my baby back.)doll clothes to match (40 of 56)

doll clothes to match (43 of 56)


The end of summer

It’s September 1st and almost ninety degrees.  I can’t even tell you how happy this makes me!  Summer fu-lew by in a whoosh.  It happens every year and every year I’m convinced it was thee shortest summer ever.  This one was just wrong because it didn’t act like summer.  I mean temperatures in the seventies when you should be sweltering does not count as summer.  That’s Spring extended.

summer fun (2 of 22)

Then in June, about the time it wanted to get warm, I spiked a fever of 103.6 and curled up in bed with muscle cramps and hip pain that put me in a near fetal position.  Four days later I was still sweating copiously then chilling and my chest felt tight and like I couldn’t breathe freely.  No one wants to get the flu in the summertime, but this time it would have been nice to have it be the flu.  After a negative flu swab, ruling out a septic hip and pneumonia with x rays, the logical conclusion was Lyme.  I started antibiotics and the fever broke within hours.

The next day David went five hours out of town for a custody hearing.  While he was gone the doctor called to say that my white count was down to 2 and I needed to go to the ER for repeat labs to make sure they didn’t miss something that would send me into septic shock.  You know my love relationship with the local ER. 😉  I waited until David got home then we sat in the ER for FOUR HOURS to see the same NP we saw with Adam.  It’s nice they’d already checked my blood pressure earlier.  She poo pooed the whole thing and said I probably had the flu.  My white count was nearing 4 and I was out of the crisis zone which was all I needed to know.

Three weeks later after shooting spasms in my hands and feet, visual disturbances, heart palpitations, crazy, crazy, crazy exhaustion all.the.time, and headaches my lyme and mono test came back positive.  Apparently illnesses come buy one get one free around here. Two days after the doxycycline ended, the weird symptoms began to abate.  The tiredness, not so much. It was work just to function.

summer fun (10 of 22)

Then miraculously, a week before we started school, I switched my vitamin to morning instead of evening and instantly I was sleeping better at night and feeling energetic again during the day.  I have no idea if it was coincidence or a combination thing but it literally happened overnight.  I literally breathe gratefulness every single day for how wonderful I feel.  It feels like an enormous, gigantic, out of proportion gift from God.  After not feeling well for so long, then getting so much better on Plexus, it felt like a huge kick in the gut to feel so rotten again. I know that it’s easy to make almost a god out of feeling well.  Like it’s our right or something.  I don’t ever want to get to that place; but I also believe that God created our bodies to function well and He longs for us to know wholeness.  I can’t wait to get to heaven where we will know such perfect wholeness in our body, soul and spirit!! But for now, I am just so, so, SO grateful to be able to care well for my family and the people around me!

May 15 (434 of 505)

It’s been hard to understand why our family has been so plagued by such weird maladies ever since we moved here.  Sometimes I wonder if that is the way satan is attempting to tear down our family as David moves forward in the frontlines at helping families be restored to wholeness.  But the theme of God’s incredible answers blows me away.  The fact that Adam has no residual damage from his terrible break, Zara’s clear MRI, Adam’s strange mark in his nail, and now the fact that I am feeling well so soon after diagnosis gives me courage to face the smaller things.  Liam was diagnosed with Lyme about a week before I was. He’s still dealing with pain in his feet and sometimes knee pain. Will you pray with us about that?  He dragged on and on with fatigue and stomachaches and headaches that seem to be clearing up.  His eyes sparkle again.  But his feet still hurt him a lot.  I’m praying for complete healing for him, too.

May 15 (374 of 505)

Anyhow, back to the summer that got away from us.

May 15 (445 of 505)

I don’t know how your family does summer, but it feels like ours goes into it full tilt every time.  I always dream of lazy summer days ………… and parts of them are lazy.  We make the most of our non-school days by sleeping in, working and playing late, and cramming as many fun things in as possible.  I think it may be impossible to actually do summer lazily when you live far enough North that summer is short.  So my philosophy is to live it to the hilt!

May 15 (98 of 505)

We started summer activities early.  David and I shot a wedding in Virginia Beach in April.  The air temperatures were in the seventies!  The boys headed straight for the water never mind that the water temperature was in the FIFTIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I love these pictures and the intensity in their faces and body posture! You can tell they are both magnetized by the water and desperately trying to avoid feeling like an icicle. :)

May 15 (63 of 505)

May 15 (88 of 505)

May 15 (116 of 505)

May 15 (48 of 505)

May 15 (121 of 505)

May 15 (95 of 505)

May 15 (49 of 505)

May 15 (93 of 505)

My parents met us at the beach and took us to the aquarium on Friday and then showed the kids the greatest time on Saturday while we were at the wedding.  The whole weekend just felt like this enormous gift! Getting to do what I love with the person I love most in all the world, the time at the aquarium with my parents, warm sunshine in April, and the kids getting to spend time with their grandparents.

summer fun (12 of 22)

There were a few treasured days at the lake or back at the Middle Ford or at Indian Rocks.  There was the fun of introducing Zara to the fun of water.

May 15 (421 of 505)

There was the fun of hosting family and friends here for the weekend and trips out of town to visit others.

This year was especially special because we got to do an extended weekend with both our immediate families.  Family is important in both of our families and our parent’s generation is still having family reunions.  But I love that we got to do something more than just a day with our smaller, more immediate families.

My family came to visit us in Maryland in July.  We had so much fun and proved that it is very possible to have more than 20 people in our house … at least in the summer time when you can overflow outside. :)  The weather was finally hot for the first time this summer which was such an answer to prayer.  I wanted so badly to take them to the lake because it’s one of our favorite spots.  I love the beauty of the sand, mountains and water and I love, love to watch children having fun together.  Combine the two and it’s almost too much to absorb.  But it was so cool I didn’t know if we’d even enjoy going.  Well, it turned hot just in time.  Going to the lake was the best imaginable thing to do.  Much as I adore watching the children having such a great time, my favorite time was late Saturday night when Christy, Beth, Mom and I got to sit on our front porch with coffee, blackberries, and shortbread.  We are rarely all together and it was so special to be able to sit and talk uninterrupted.

summer fun (30 of 1)

In late August, David’s family did a long weekend at this cabin in Garrett County.  While we get together for holidays and other times, we rarely stay together for an extended period because most everyone lives in the same community.   It was one of those weekends that should be described in superlatives.  The best food.  Amazing weather.  Wonderful hours to relax and talk. Kids having so much fun together swimming and playing ball.  Four hours in the hot tub with my sisters in law talking life until the wee hours of the morning.  I could do that weekend all over again.

And then there were the little moments.  The moments that feel so much a part of life that you almost forget to realize how wonderful they are.  Like lazy breakfasts because we weren’t on a time schedule.

May 15 (128 of 505)

Or reading in the hammock in the morning while the front porch was cool.

May 15 (367 of 505)

Or popsicles.

This spring the boys took a huge liking to soccer.  Liam bought a soccer ball in town one day and the fun continued even when it was hot outside.

summer fun (14 of 22)

This was the summer of a baby girl morphing into a toddler.

May 15 (456 of 505)

The summer of beautiful memories intertwined with tears.  Of grace covering inadequacy.  Of children growing.  Of laughing. Living. Loving.  Much as I’d like to hang onto it and pretend that winter is not lurking around the corner just waiting to pounce …. I want so much to love the present.  To live gratefully for the beautiful and embrace the rest graciously.