Friday, February 29, 2008

My Little Beauty

Well, one of them...I'm still not feeling great today, but I do feel stronger than yesterday, which is good because Jason went back to work, and I wouldn't even let myself walk while holding Claira yesterday. I'd get way too dizzy walking so some strength is welcome!

Anyway, I guess Claira's 4 months old's the last day of the month so she should be 4 months old, but really, we're 2 days short of the 31st. Oh well. Here's my gorgeous 4 month old. She has really gotten so much stronger this past month, and she's really liking toys more and more. I see her eyeing my dinner whenever I'm eating...two more months little lady! And, she's giggling a lot more often as well. Isn't she gorgeous?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

My turn

You know, families share a lot of things. We are an especially close family. So close, in fact, that we decided it would be nice to share in Elsie's illness. Tuesday night, Jason started feeling poorly and he got sick yesterday and still isn't pefect. Last night, I started feeling horrible, and I've done little else today besides lay around, sleep, nurse, and visit the restroom. Oh, I've also been choking down water because I don't want my supply to take a nosedive. I'm so ready for a wave of health to visit our household!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Unpacking? What's that?

With Elsie sick, I've gotten next to nothing done this week. I'm hoping that by the end of the weekend, I can have the entire upstairs unpacked and everything that doesn't belong up here, downstairs. This is very doable, in my opinion. That way, the bulk of the boxes will be downstairs and at least I won't be tripping over them everytime I turn around. Plus, I won't have to look at them either. I think we're going to be in the market for a couple of space heaters for the basement. We put the playroom down there, and no way am I planning to spend hours at a time down there in our very own walk in freezer. No thanks.

In other news, I just got a message from Jason telling me that they just won the bid for the Harpo Studios know, OPRAH. They're going to be putting in new stairs for her...realistically, I doubt anyone from his office will actually come in contact with her, but it's still exciting. I need to get the scoop on where the stairs are going...perhaps you'll be seeing some of my husband's handiwork everytime you watch Oprah!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Testimony Tuesday

It's that day again! With all that's going on...mostly moving and Elsie being sick, I nearly forgot that it was even Tuesday. But, I was checking in on Julie and her girls, and her post reminded me that today is Tuesday--time for a testimony! YAY!

Well, I've actually spent some time this past week thinking about a testimony that wouldn't bring anyone to tears. The truth is that so many of the most marvelous things God has done in my life are triumphs that rise from ashes. But, there are a few great things that have seemed to come from no great sorrow. I'm thankful for all of them.

Today, I'll share with you a little story about one of my favorite people. First, I'll tell you a little bit about a single version of Mandalynn. I was 19 when I got saved. Luckily, I hadn't married anyone yet...I hate to think who I might've chosen without the Lord's guidance. Anyway, salvation changed every aspect of my life, including my thoughts about dating. I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and it really changed my thoughts on dating. Actually, the dating stopped for the most part. I began to take the dating game a bit more seriously. Suddenly, it had a purpose, and I stopped wasting my time with guys that I'd never consider marrying. Marriage was something that I longed for, and anyone who knew me well then knows I wanted nothing else more than that. Instead of dating, I prayed my tail off for the guy I was going to marry. And, not unlike most girls, I had a pretty good idea of exactly what I wanted. He would hate pot roast like me, would love chic flicks, be a country boy, love the Lord with all his heart. I prayed prayers about having a husband who would draw me closer to God and challenge me, stretch me outside my comfort zone. (Some prayers should seriously come with warning labels!)

Anyway, one of my good friends, Angel, was the Youth Pastor at the church I attended. I remember sitting in her office one day with her and one of the youth, Veronica, talking about the guy I wanted to marry. Veronica was certain that I was describing Angel's nephew, Jason. She tried to get me to look at a picture, and I refused. No way did I need a face to go with all that I was obsessively dreaming about.

Fast forward a few weeks later, and Jason was coming to visit Angel for the Fourth of July. We met on July 3, 2003. I was at her house helping her clean when he walked through the door, and I can't say I ever believed in love at first sight before that day, but there was an instant attraction. From the moment we met, we just fit together. We always have a church picnic on July 4th so he was there for that, and we went swimming and hung out at Angel's. Later, I'd learn that a lot of people from church thought we had met before. I'm telling's crazy the way things were right from the start. I'll also say that it was a pretty innocent weekend with just a bit of hand holding. But, he made a long trip back to Missouri, and without the other's knowledge, we both informed our parents we'd met the person we were going to marry. The weeks and months that followed were a whirlwind of phone calls, talking about hopes and dreams, work, life, the Lord, reading scriptures together, praying together, and planning. We took turns traveling the six hours that separated us until I finally made the move to Missouri over Thanksgiving weekend. I moved in with Jason's grandparents, and we married on Christmas Eve that same year.

It was definitely a whirlwind of a romance, but it's ours. I certainly didn't know everything about Jason before we married, but I didn't have to. I knew God, and I knew that this is His plan for my life. Now, I'm so blessed to have Jason as my partner in this crazy life. He's a loving husband and daddy. He's a leader in our home, and I can't imagine my life without him. Neither of us are perfect, but I'm always finding things in him that I need somehow, even if I never realized it. When you leave room for God to work in your life, dreams will come true. Mine did.

Claira's Dedication

We dedicated our baby to the Lord on Sunday morning...she did sooooo well, being held in front of the congregation. She made mommy happy, smiling and cooing while the Pastors prayed!

Elsie's Birthday Party, Take 2

Saturday evening, we had another birthday party for Miss Elsie. This time, we went with Strawberry Shortcake as the theme. Grandma and Papa were already here, so Aunt Angel and Uncle Mitch joined us for dinner, ice cream cake, and presents, of course! Here are some pictures of our fun time.

Let the unpacking begin!

Well, it's already well under way. We got the majority of everything moved on Friday. Jason's parents were in town to help out, and we also had some help from church, which was great, especially since we moved on a regular working day. But, we got it done. Jason, my wonderful husband, went back over to the old house yesterday to finish packing up the odds and ends left behind and also to clean. Is he a keeper, or what? I think so!

I got summer clothes shopping started for both girls. Gymboree is having their baby sale, which is one of my favorite sales, and I had a coupon for 20% off, plus it's gymbucks earning time...what a great time to shop Gymboree. I'd post what I got, but I got like 4 outfits for each girl, and it would just take forever.

My Sick Baby

Note to Self: When your three year old wakes up from a nap and says that her tummy hurts, do not, (I repeat) do NOT snuggle up with her in the recliner. Instead, you should wrap yourself up in a poncho, grab a shower cap, and snuggle up somewhere the bathtub. Trust me, it'll be cleaner that way. That's right, Elsie woke up from her nap today, and she's been sick since. She hasn't been able to keep anything down. Poor baby. Poor birthday baby. What a way to spend her third birthday :(

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A beautiful cranium

Yippee! Claira weighed 9 lb. 8 oz. at 2 months old. At 3 1/2 months, she weighs 12 lb. 14 oz! I'm sooooo thrilled about that! Nursing has been something I'm quite nervous about. I didn't get to nurse Elsie at all, and because of Claira's jaundice, the bottle was introduced to her before we left the hospital. After that, she would cry and scream at the sight of my breast. It took 5 long weeks of pumping, bottle feeding and offering the breast before she finally decided to nurse. She had lost nearly a pound while in the hospital, and she was slow gaining back so her weight is something I've kept an eye on. Anyway, she's gained 3 1/2 pounds in about 7 weeks which I think is awesome! I think I'm just so excited because I really feel now that we're breastfeeding successfully, and I can relax a little bit. Result: One very happy, thankful me!

Unfortunately, the doctor also confirmed that we have thrush and since I'd already tried two rounds of gentian violet with no success, I'm hoping that the prescribed nystatin actually works. Claira also has a yeast diaper rash, which I was sure of because this is her first diaper rash and after I'd tried about 4 different creams with no luck, I decided to call the doctor. I'm going to have to let her air out 3 times a day for 30 minutes...that should be fun. It should be extra fun since we're moving tomorrow! But, apparently yeast loves warm, moist places so bring on the air! The doctor actually laughed at her folds...most babies have a couple of folds in their legs/diaper area...Claira has a grand canyon on each side!

Oh, and this was our first visit to this pediatrician. I called our family doctor on Tuesday afternoon, and they said they couldn't see her for 2 weeks! That's insane, in my opinion, so we took her somewhere new. Anyway, the first thing the doctor said after hello, "She has a beautiful cranium." LOL! Who says that? Anyway, that's one for the baby book!

A Fisher Price Update

Remember the Case of the Dora Twin Bandits? Well, I shipped all 3 dolls off to Fisher Price about 3 1/2 weeks ago. Today, Bev from Fisher Price called me back to let me know they had received all of the dolls and their engineers (*chuckle*) concluded that their had been some transfer of materials from the Dora doll to the American Girl doll. So, they're mailing the American Girl doll back. We should have her in a couple of days, and they're also issuing me a refund for the Dora dolls and covering the costs of repairs to the American Girl doll. This makes me very happy! The outcome is exactly what I was looking for, and I feel like it's been resolved in a timely manner as well.

I'm in the closet and Leo needs ice cream!

Jason and I drove separately to church tonight since he loaded his car up to take some things to the new house. After church, I decided that us girls would hang out at the new house while he unloaded the car. It gave Elsie a chance to have some fun there. We had already moved several of her things over there. About a week and a half ago, Jason took her highchair to the new house while she was napping and the first thing she noticed after she woke up was her missing highchair. So, when we walked in tonight, the first thing she said was, "My Highchair!" as she ran to it and gave it a hug...I'm not joking! What's funny is that she has a little table and chair set that she usually eats at or she sits at the table in her booster seat so she doesn't often use her highchair. Anyway, she was thrilled to be reunited with it.

After Jason was done unloading the car, I took a few minutes to play hide-n-seek with Elsie. We had So. Much. FUN! She was giggling like crazy and did not want to leave...when we got ready to go, she hid in the closet so when I went toward the other end of the house to look for her, Jason told me to try the kitchen, and Elsie was in the closet shouting, "No, No! I'm not in the kitchen. I'm in the closet!" I'm much better at hiding than she is. Anyway, I'm confident that she'll be happy with the move.

When we got home, Jason served us girls some ice cream. Elsie wanted some in her Little Einsteins bowl, but when Jason sat the bowl in front of her, she said, "Hey! Leo didn't get any ice cream." Apparently, all of the Little Einsteins need to be covered in ice cream. Jason tried to tell her that he could share with Quincy, but she wouldn't have, he ended up getting Leo some ice cream too. Kids are fun!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pleasant Tummytime

I had almost forgotten that it was possible to lay a baby on her belly and have her smile, coo, and play rather than cry, scream, and bury her face in the blanket. Elsie loved tummytime, but Claira hasn't really appreciated it (at all) until today. Today she played happily and cooed at Elsie and I for a good 15 minutes before she resorted to her usual antics.

Claira keeps getting more and more fun everyday. She discovered her hands recently, and she's just fascinated by them. Also, she's been reaching for toys and she likes to grab her paci from our hands and then drop it (of course). She's getting more and more interested in her toys and has found the peacock hanging from the bar on her infant seat to be a nice companion.

Green Bean Tea

What would you think if your hostess served you this at a tea party? I told Elsie that her Daddy has a more exotic tea repertoire than Mommy does. She should try this on him!

A Singer Camel

Lately, Elsie has been calling her fingers "singers" so when she held up her fingers this morning and asked, "What's this?" I told her they were her singers. She said no so I guessed fingers instead. No again. Hmmmm....then she said, "It's a camel!" Why didn't I think of that? Seriously. Maybe the two fingers sticking up are for two humps on the camel's back? I have no idea.

Please disregard the morning hair and's still early!

Here's a picture of Claira from last night...that girl puts a frown on her face as soon as she sees the camera!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I want to hold your baby!

Jason was cooking dinner earlier, and I was holding Claira at the kitchen table...Elsie enters the room and throws her baby doll down on my lap.

Elsie- Here, Mommy, you can hold my baby. (holding out her hands) and I can hold your baby!

Mommy- *laughs* Maybe we should go sit on the couch first.

Elsie- Humpph! Give me my baby back then!

Testimony Tuesday

This week mark's two years since Elsie's cleft palate repair surgery so I find it only fitting to write about that experience today. Recently, I "met" someone online who just gave birth to a little girl that has a soft cleft palate. Unfortunately, testing shows that her little girl is also unable to hear. She did say that her little one startles a bit when her 15 month old reaches a certain pitch. I'm praying that her hearing is completely restored. The whole thing has me remind myself how blessed we are that we've had no other problems associated with Elsie's palate.

Elsie was born on February 25, 2005. I had an easy labor, and she arrived at 11:41 p.m. I remember the first thing the nurse said was that she had a head full of hair! Jason and I were so pleased to meet our beautiful daughter, and I was anxious to start breastfeeding. Unfortunately, Elsie just wasn't getting it. I saw a couple different lactation consultants while we were there, and they had me trying Supplemental Nursing Systems and Breast shields...nothing was working, but I was determined, and we ended up tube feeding her formula just to get something in her. I was still working on nursing so I didn't want to give her a bottle.

Anyway, because of the feeding problem, we were in the hospital for 5 days. On our last night, Jason happened to mention that Elsie had a hole in her, we mentioned that to the nurse, and the next morning, her pediatrician came in and diagnosed her with a cleft palate. Now, the first thought that ran through my mind was, "No she doesn't, she looks perfect!" The only cleft I'd heard of was cleft lip, which would be obvious to anyone. The palate is the roof of your mouth. If you feel along the roof of your mouth with your tongue, you can feel the difference between your hard palate and your soft palate. Elsie had no soft palate. Our beautiful, perfect, brand new baby girl had no soft palate. No soft palate meant no suction for nursing. We kept trying for the first 2 weeks after Elsie was born. I pumped breastmilk, and we were still tube feeding her. Tube feeding is messy and time consuming. All of the reading I had done showed that it was nearly impossible to effectively nurse a baby with a cleft palate so we switched to the Haberman Feeder and everyone was happy. It allowed us to control the milk flow and Elsie had to work a lot less to get the milk.

The Haberman Feeder:

When Elsie was two weeks old, we visited the Craniofacial Clinic at Children's Mercy. The team there is outstanding, and we came up with a plan to have Elsie's palate repaired around the time of her first birthday. I learned a lot that day. I learned that many cleft palate patients have trouble with their ears...hearing was a major concern, and at two weeks old, Elsie was having her hearing tested for the third time. She passed all 3 tests! Also,the roof of your mouth separates your mouth from your ears. So, you can imagine the problems that can arise when what should be closed is open. When she was two weeks old, her pediatrician along with the doctors and nurses at the hospital expected her to need tubes in her ears by the time she was 3 months old. After her surgery, we'd need to come back once a year for her to have a speech evaluation to make sure she wouldn't need any more surgeries

One of the things I won't forget about our visit to Children's Mercy are the people we met there. When you go for a clinic, you're there from about 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. It's a long day, and you meet lots of people. So, you'll meet with the nutritionist and then go sit in the waiting room until you see the dentist and then wait for the surgeon, and then wait for the ENT, etc. There are many other people doing this waiting and meeting game as well. In the several visits we made to the hospital, I didn't meet another family that only had cleft problems. I met parents with children who were visiting and had already had several surgeries. I met parents with children who had much more severe problems than their clefts. I don't remember the names of what they were diagnosed with. I don't remember their stories because it's not my story.

We took our baby girl home, and we loved her. We fed her, bathed her, played with her, watched her smile and laugh for the first time. We watched her learn to roll over, sit up on her own, pull up, stand, and take those precious first steps. Elsie didn't have a single ear infection until she was 10 months old, and her pediatrician said it was mild. It's been more than two years since then, and she hasn't had another. No tubes here! When Elsie was 11 months old, we started preparing for surgery, I replaced one feeding a day with a sippy cup (no spill proof valve) since she wouldn't be able to have anything in her mouth after the surgery. The first few days were rough, but after she got that first cup feeding down, the rest quickly followed and within two weeks, she was completely off the bottle. One week before the surgery, we quit the paci cold turkey. So, we were ready. She was healthy, and one cold day in February we made a trip back to Kansas City.

I was determined not to let her see me cry, but I didn't even make it past the security check at the hospital! I recovered in the elevator and we met with a nurse who measured her height and weight. We got her dressed in a cute little infant-sized hospital gown, and we played with bubbles while we waited. Then, we met a nurse out in the hallway and for the first time in a year, I handed my baby to someone besides my husband and had to walk away. It was the first time neither one of us would be with her. We went to the waiting room and waited. I left for awhile to go down the hall to a pumping cool that they had those! Shortly after I returned, the surgeon came in to meet with us. Elsie was in recovery and the surgery had went well. Next, we went to meet up with her at the same place we'd left her with the nurse. She was in a crib this time, and I just remember thinking she looked like she'd been beat up. The 24 hours after that went by pretty quickly. We just held her while she slept mostly. She had to wear arm splints to prevent her from putting anything in her mouth. We fed her whenever she was awake and then we made the trip back home and started the recovery process. At home, we only put the arm splints on her while she was sleeping, and I kept a close eye on her during the day. She continued to eat from her valveless sippy cup and slowly we were able to introduce soft foods and eventually table foods. Now, she's just as perfect as the day she was born!

Honestly though, that all seems like it's ancient history now. I seriously think I cried more over pumping instead of nursing than I cried over Elsie's palate. I gave up pumping after her recovery from surgery was complete. Overall, our biggest problems weren't really problems at all just extra care. We had to keep her upright for an hour after she ate before her surgery or she would sometimes have blockage in her throat which made breathing more difficult. Keeping her upright seemed to decrease those chances dramatically. She couldn't eat table foods until after her recovery because she'd just gag on them. Other than those things, life was fairly normal for her. Now, those are all things of the past, and she won't remember any of it. At the time, those things were pretty stressful for us, but I'm thankful for the road we got to travel looking back on the experience. To God be the glory!

Here's a picture of Elsie just moments after she was born...funny how her cleft is clear as day here and it took 5 days for a diagnosis!

Elsie after her surgery

Monday, February 18, 2008

It's a Sad, sad Day...

Someone from Babycenter, just posted the "20 Worst Foods in America" and Outback's "Aussie Cheese Fries" are the #1 Worst Food in America...that makes my heart sad. I LOVE Aussie Cheese fries...of course, Jason helps me eat them, and I usually don't even get a meal when I order them...usually just a sweet potato. Anyway, if you've never tried Aussie Cheese Fries, steer clear! You'll be hooked, and don't say I didn't warn you!

Anyway, I've been inspired to come up with a list of the "20 Worst Foods I Eat Regularly."

Then, perhaps that list will motivate me to exercise. Riiiigghhht. That's likely. Actually, I've been thinking a lot about running lately. I haven't ran regularly since I was single, and it's really something that I enjoy. I keep telling myself that I'll take up running again when Claira is done convenient that I pick a milestone a good year in the future, right?

A Stuttering Sister

Of course, I'm referring to the sister who can actually talk, Miss Elsie. She's been stuttering for about the last week and a half. It's really starting to bother me because it's been bothering her for a few days now. She gets quite upset when she can't say what she wants to. In theory, I think it might just be stress related...she absolutely does not want to move, and it's been going on since we started talking about the move more and actually packing. I'm hoping that's it and it just goes away once we're settled in. Otherwise, we're headed to Missouri to visit family next month, and we'll also make a trip to Kansas City where she'll see a Speech Therapist and be evaluated so if I have any lingering concerns, we'll get something worked out then. Of course, I'm praying that this is only temporary and not something she'll need ongoing support for.

Updated: I just got off the phone with the hospital, and apparently the clinic is booked through the summer so they have a wait list...not what I wanted to hear since we live 9 hours away. Fortunately, since my only concern is having her speech evaluated, they should be able to get us in sooner. The problem is that they're going to call in a couple of weeks to schedule the appointment. Hopefully, that'll correspond with the dates we were hoping to travel to visit family. Otherwise, I might have to ask for a recommendation closer to home.

Waaaaah! Take it off!

Yesterday, I got motivated enough to put Claira in a dress for church. She hasn't worn one anywhere yet, and next weekend we're dedicating her so I figured a practice run would be good. Apparently, she likes wearing a dress as much as I do.

What was really funny is that the smallest tights I could find were size 0-9 months. Yeah, infants don't grow at all during those months! So, Jason was literally able to pull the tights up to her neck with no trouble at all! I realize that was probably uncomfortable so we just folded them over a couple of times and let them be a little bunchy.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Claira Milestone

This morning, Jason was changing Claira's diaper, and she rolled from her back onto her side. We've got movement from the peanut, people! She'll be rolling over in no time, I bet.

Yesterday, our landlord was over again with more renter prospects...she was happy with our decluttering, and it's a good thing because I was the only one home so she would've had to hear me talk instead of Jason the Nice. Anyway, she thought that our place was too cluttered for people to want to rent the place. We've got 4 people living in about 600 square feet! Clutter is a good reason to move. It doesn't help that 98.2% of the people she has coming to look at the place have no kids so they don't understand toys at all. Anyway, we decluttered this week. Do you have any idea how hard it is to pack, sorting through things and then trying to get things so they "appear" to be in tip top shape so people can look through the place. It's tough. Add a toddler and an infant. That's more tough. But, she was happy, so I was happy, and that's that.

We went to the mall last was Claira's first trip to the mall. She slept in Daddy's arms while he watched Elsie in the play zone, and I shopped. I should say that I window-shopped. That's right. I went into Gymboree, and I came out without a bag in my hand. I think the salespeople were shocked as well. There are salesladies in multiple Gymboree stores who know me. Perhaps that's an addiction. Anyway, I really want this cute shirt for Elsie. Both Gymboree stores closest to me are out, and I don't want to drive to the other two. Online, it's $8.95 shipping or something outrageous like that!

I did find some really cute dresses, but even with the President's Day sale, I still would've paid over $20 a piece, and I like a better deal than that. So, I went to browse at Von Maur. I say browse because I've never actually made a purchase there. It's an inspiration store...see cute, over-priced things in person and then scour the internet for deals on them. Jason's brother is getting married in August, and I found a dress that would be sooooooo pretty for that. But, Elsie's size was $56 and Claira's was $44. I told Jason he needs a raise! Here's a picture of the dress, but I'll warn you, I don't really think it looks all that pretty in the photo, but it is gorgeous in person.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's a picture of my sweet Valentine, Elsie...Claira is napping right now so I'll snap a picture later. In the meantime, a packing I will go!

Here's my unwilling Valentine. I knew it was too good to be true when Elsie stood still long enough for me to get a decent picture of her. Turns out, Claira made up for it by fussing through a little photo session.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We're Moving in 9 Days

Well, I should be more specific....We, Jason, Claira, and myself are moving in 9 days. Elsie is NOT, or so she says. Miraculously, Claira took a nap on my bed today rather than her favorite spot, my arms. It's typical of her to open her eyes and shriek at me the second her head hits the bed. So, I took this unusual opportunity to clean out Elsie's closet...there were still clothes from last summer in there and since she's still growing like a weed, most of them don't fit. So, I'm packing clothes away, and she's standing over me saying, "Put that back," "My clothes don't go in there, Mommy. They need to hang in the closet so you can get me dressed," so I explain to her that these clothes are too small and we're going to buy new ones soon. She seems okay with that until I start packing away blankets as well. "NO! That's not too small!" she shouts at me. The moving subject has been coming up more and more lately. She's visited the new house and had tons of fun hiding in the closets, but when we talk about moving, she's very adament about the whole thing. "I'm not moving. I like this house. I don't want the new house. My toys are staying here. I'm staying here. no, No, NO!" You get the picture. At first, I thought it was just her mood one day, but she's been very consistent in her unwillingness to move. I really hope she does alright with it. If you've got experiences or tips to share about moving with a toddler, please share!

Elsie, the Realist

Lately, Elsie has taken notice that the television is full of things that are unlikely in the real world. The other night, we were watching t.v., and a commercial came on that had a tree walking around in it. I can't remember what the commercial was about...anyway, Elsie said, "Mommy, trees don't walk. That's silly!" This morning, she's watching Sesame Street, and she tells me that "animals just don't talk" and also "monsters aren't real."

I'm actually rather amazed that kids can differentiate between what is real and what isn't at such an early age without being told. Now, I know the monster thing has come up in the past so she's probably just recalling what she's been told in that case. But, observing that animals don't really talk and trees don't really walk is her own achievement.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Testimony Tuesday

It's good to remember what the Lord has done. Our Pastor preached a sermon on this very thing before Claira was even born. He encouraged us to write down what God has done for us and remember it. So far, I haven't written anything down. I often remember and thank God for many things He has done while I'm praying and worshipping, but I'm going to make an effort to start writing it all down. So, I introduce you to "Testimony Tuesday." I know, it's a dorky name, but I like it!

Anyway, I'm sure there are skeptics out there. Actually, I know there are, but I don't care. If you really, truly don't think I (or anyone else) can hear from God, then I invite you to join a church for a year. Not just any church. Join a church full of people who really love God and are seeking His will for their lives and the purpose of their congregation. Praise and worship the Lord daily. Pray daily. Read the Bible daily. Do all of this with a sincere heart, and I doubt you'll be able to tell me that you don't hear from Him in a year's time. Actually, I doubt it will take that long. Either way, feel free to leave nasty comments after that. I'll delete them anyway.

So, I've been saved since June 15, 2001. There are two times that I can recall since then that I've heard the audible voice of God. Both occured while I was driving.

The first time was about 6 years ago. I worked about 45 minutes from where I lived, and the entire drive was one road...a road with some heavy commercial areas but also some residential areas. Anyway, after I had driven the same route on the same road for months, I could probably do it with my eyes closed. There were certain intersections where I'd switch lanes because the turning lanes would get backed up. I can remember a section of the road where there are a bunch of trees and a pond off to the right. At certain times of the day, the sun's glare from this area would be awful. Actually, there was a time or two when the light reflecting off of the pond and through the trees made me think that there were sirens coming up behind me! I laugh about it now, but it really freaked me out at the time. Anyway, I prayed on my way to work. I was alone, and it was quiet. So, I had a nice routine. I knew when to be in the left lane and when to be in the right lane. One day, while I was praying, God said, "Speed up. Switch lanes." Now, that seems quite simple. At the time, I did it without thinking. When I took a second to think about it, I immediately asked, "Why, Lord?" as I looked in my rear view mirror. The site there explained everything. When God spoke to me, I was in the middle of an intersection. So, when I increased speed, I crossed to the other side of the intersection and switched lanes. Behind me, someone from the cross road made a left hand turn on red and forced a semi truck to switch lanes. I saw that semi in the exact spot I would've been if I hadn't moved out of the way. Unfortunately, I don't remember the exact date this occured, but I do know that God has saved my life more than once.

Discipline and obedience aren't just for our children. I want my daughters to learn to obey without question. Delay is disobedience. I don't want to see my child get hit by a car they don't see if they're running for the road, and I shout, "STOP!" I don't want them to keep running and ask me "Why?" or shout back "I don't want to!" I really believe that children can learn to obey by watching their parents. Everyone has to answer to someone. I'm teaching my daughters a valuable lesson everytime I submit to authority. Who knows. Maybe that discipline will save their lives one day just as it has saved mine.

Kiss It Forward

Want to make a difference? Take a few minutes to visit and "Kiss it Forward." This campaign profits Operation Smile, a program designed to provide surgery for children with cleft lip/palate in poor countries where medical help is not usually affordable. These surgeries are free to the families.

Anyway, this is a cause close to our hearts. I'm so thankful to be living in a country where we were able to seek treatment at one of the best craniofacial clinics in the country when Elsie was just two weeks old. Her surgery was done before her first birthday, and the only recollection she'll ever have of her palate will be what we tell her. It's heartbreaking to see young children in other countries struggling to eat or having trouble making friends simply because they don't have the same hospitals we have here in the United States. So, please take a few minutes and send a kiss to your loved ones. For the first 30,000 kisses sent in February, Abreva will donate $1 each to Operation Smile.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Our February Mission

is to eat at home...that's right. No restaurants. No Olive Garden or Chili's. No McDonald's or Arby's. No pizza or chinese delivery. This month, we cook! So, February is 1/3 over already, and we're doing just fine I must say. We decided we'd go restaurant free in February because our habits had gotten out of hand. We used to budget for one meal out a week. Either we could go out as a family, or Jason would go out for lunch while Elsie and I went out for lunch separately. He works an hour away so we rarely get together for lunch. Anyway, that once a week turned into Jason having lunch out 2-3 times a week, Elsie and I usually eating lunch out once a week, and the family eating out together once or twice a week. As I said before, it was out of control. Honestly, it hasn't been as hard as we thought it would be. Hopefully, we'll be back on track for March.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

An Overheard Conversation

Daddy- "Elsie, I think it's time for a nap."
Elsie- "No, Daddy. That's not nice."
Daddy- "Okay, Mandalynn Jr."
Elsie- "I just call her Mommy."

"That's not nice," is definitely something she hears me say...I'm sure there are a million others.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Elsie's Quilt

Before Claira was born, I purchased some fabric and sent it to my Grandma to make her a quilt. Well, Elsie loves the blanket and is always calling it hers...she gets upset if I want to spread it out on the floor to play with Claira on. So, I tentatively put it in my mind to be on the lookout for some cute Elsie fabric. I haven't been to the fabric store though. Instead, while I was searching for the best price on that cute ballerina wallie on Ebay a couple of weeks ago, I found that the same company made matching fabric! Oh my, that's a slice of Mandalynn Heaven right there! Of course, I stalked the auction and dh's mom actually ended up winning it and is going to work on the blanket. So, we've been on the search to find fabric that will look cute with it. It's not easy fabric shopping together when you live 6 hours apart! Anyway, this is a rough idea of what we came up, nothing is true to size since I just copied and pasted pictures from Ebay, but you get the idea. Elsie is going to love it!

Sleepy Saturday

Here's what the rest of my family is doing while I'm typing...

That's right, they're all cuddled up in the recliner.

By the way, I had to take that picture five times! The first time, I put the memory card into the computer and it wouldn't read the photo I needed...this has been happening a lot, this is another plug to Jason that I NEED a new digital. The second time, I went to take a picture and the camera battery was dead. So, I put it on the charger and came back to finish typing this post. When I was done, I went in to take the picture. When I set the camera back on the charger, I realized that the light didn't turn on so I thought I hadn't set it on their right. I did...turns out the charger wasn't plugged in. Elsie is definitely the culprit of that one. For some reason, if something is plugged in in the living room, it won't stay that way for long if she can reach it. Anyway, why did it take the picture if it hadn't actually been plugged in that whole time? Who knows. But, it again didn't recognize the file in the computer. So, I had to wait awhile to post this entry. But hey, there's your picture! Somehow, I don't know that it was worth all of that!

Why aren't I sleeping you ask? Because I have a migraine the size of Texas. I'm sure my "cold" from a few days ago is actually a sinus infection. Normally, I take some Claritin and Mucinex whenever I have a sinus infection and those two things really help me deal with the symptoms. However, those two things are designed to dry you right up. Since I'm nursing, it's just not a good idea to take medication designed to dry up all of my bodily fluids. That really stinks because I want to feel better. It's been an entire week, and I feel much worse today than I did a week ago.

Anyway, we're moving in two weeks. How many boxes have I packed? ZERO! Today, our landlord had 6 families come over to look at our apartment, which is actually one half of a duplex. Yesterday, she called Jason to ask if she could have people stop over yesterday evening. I've been sick for a week. My house looked like Toys R Us had were from one end of the house to the other. Also, I'd actually washed laundry all week but hadn't found the energy to fold any of it so we had about 6 loads of laundry to fold. Jason suggested she wait until today. Last night, the landlord called to report that she wanted our driveway scooped off. Our driveway is the length of a football field. We got at least 18 inches of snow this past week, and since I haven't been feeling well, Jason would help out inside when he got home rather than do any work outside. Now, the neighbors in the other half of the duplex scooped their half. When it's convenient (and this week it was!) we will neglect our half of the driveway and use their side to get in and out. They've done the same with, it works both ways. Anyway, the landlord sent her son over to clear off our half of the driveway. He used a snow blower so that left a good 4 inches of packed ice on the driveway instead. Landlord did not approve so Jason had to get out there with his bad back and try to chip away the ice. He's much nicer than I am about the whole thing. I say, if she wants the driveway perfectly clean, she can step right up and get the job done herself. Also, there's been a snow shovel in the middle of our football field sized front yard for the last few days. I assume the neighbor got upset while shoveling and tossed it. Who knows. Anyway, landlord didn't like that either. Guess who got to tromp through 50 yards of 18 inch deep snow to retrieve it? My sweet Jason. Again, he's much nicer than I am. I'm nice because I'm letting him nap!

On the bright side, we're moving in two weeks! Actually, the Associate Pastor of our church recently took a new job across the country leaving the Parsonage free. So, we're moving in! We're really excited. We moved from a spacious 3+ bedroom home to a teeny, tiny two bedroom. So, the Parsonage is at least double the amount of space we're living in now. I can't wait!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Elsie ate her lunch!

And, it wasn't a corn dog or a cheese sandwich! Those two things have been staples at lunchtime for at least the past three weeks. I kid you not! She won't eat anything else! Until today. Today, she asked for pasta. So, I made her some. Of course, when I dished it into a bowl for her to eat, she said, "That's not pasta!.", I did a little song and dance number (I bet you wish I had a video of that for you!) and got her to take a bite of the "not pasta." Then, she ate the rest all by herself! Wahoo...notice the empty bowl. Now, there are a few droppings on the table that escaped her mouth, but I'll take it!

Apparently, I don't exist!

According to the website below, there are 0 people in the U.S. with my name! Jason has 52 people that share his name, Elsie has 9, and Claira has 0 as well!
LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Fashion Future?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Lost Manners

The first words out of Elsie's mouth this morning were, "I want fruit snacks." My response was, "Good morning, sweet pie. It's time for breakfast, not snacks." So, she had a bagel and shared a banana with me instead. All was fine. About 30 minutes before lunch, she asked for fruit snacks again. So, I told her that she could have some after lunch if she ate all of her food. After lunch, the fruit snacks were forgotten, and I wasn't about to remind her. When she woke up from her nap, she requested them again. Usually, I don't allow snacks between naptime and dinner because she ends up not eating well. But, I made an exception and told her to ask daddy for some. Well, she told him what she wanted rather than using her manners so Jason reminded her to use them. She responded with a hissyfit. We ignored her. So, she sat on the kitchen floor looking at books for about 20 minutes. When she came back into the living room, she walked over to me.

Elsie- "Mommy, I find my manners!"
Mommy- "You did? Hallelujah! Go tell Daddy what you found."
Elsie- "Okay. Daddy! I find my manners!"
Daddy- "Praise God! Where were they hiding? Behind your ears?"
Elsie- "No, it was beside the lettuce."

Where do kids come up with this stuff?

Just call me Balloon Head

I hate this kind of cold. I don't usually use that word, but it fits in this know the type. I have the kind of cold that slowly builds up over several days until you don't think you can possibly feel any worse and then you do (of course) feel worse for a day or two and then it takes you at least a week or two to feel normal again. I woke up on Saturday morning with a throbbing know the Saturday that we had Elsie's birthday party at a kid's gym with about 20 shrieking children? Yep, that's the Saturday. I made it through. I took some Tylenol which didn't help at all, and I just made it through. Sunday morning, the headache was still there, and I dragged myself to church. You know, there have been several times that I've dragged my sickly self to church and every symptom is gone by the time I leave. Unfortunately, Sunday wasn't one of those times. Yesterday, a runny nose and scratchy throat came knocking on my door and without realizing it, I let them in. What was I thinking? This morning, I could barely talk when I woke up, and I just groaned to Jason as he was getting ready for work. I made up my own sign language for water and remote as I sat in the recliner nursing.
Now, I'm sitting here trying to remember the funny conversation I had with Elsie yesterday so I can post it, and the whole thing is just making my head hurt more. I am tired, and I'm going to lay down.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Princess Messy

It seems that just about every mommy blog I've looked at has at least a post or two with photos of extreme messes the child has made. Whenever I see them, I marvel at the fact that Elsie will be three years old soon, and hasn't covered my walls with marker or finger painted the fridge with chocolate pudding. YET. Mostly, I must be a fuddy duddy of a mom because Elsie has (had) no access to markers. Until yesterday. Cranium has a new line out called Bloom, and we bought her this Mail and Stamp set, which has become a quick favorite.

Anyway, it has wipe off envelopes, letters, and postcards with an erasable, while Jason and I cleaned the closet in our room and Elsie was supposedly watching the Veggietales Silly Song Countdown, she was actually beautifying herself. Here are a couple of photos of her handiwork. I'll admit that I've seen much worse, but I hope this comes off in the tub!

Papa and Grandma Johnson Came to Town!

My dad and stepmom came for Elsie's Birthday Party today. We were very happy to have them since we haven't seen them since last summer! I'm not a pleasant traveler while pregnant :) Anyway, I've got one of those crazy, fun families where it so happens that I've got 5 younger brothers and sisters. The two youngest, Madison and Kaleb, are 6 and 1 so my girls get double the fun when we see these particular grandparents...they get playmates too! They didn't get to stay long since Dad had to work tonight, but we hope to see them again soon! I'll try sharing pictures tomorrow...

My Dad and I

My little sister, Madison, and Claira

Grandma Rene and Claira

Elsie with my her Uncle Kaleb, whose about two years younger than her! LOL!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Elsie's Third Birthday Party

So, Elsie doesn't actually turn 3 until the 25th of this month, but her buddy, Lydia, turned 3 in January and this year Stef and I decided to do a joint party at a local kid's gym. They had a blast! There was tons of fun stuff to do and I think all of the kid's enjoyed themselves, which was great. It was nice to have the gym staff coordinating everything so that we could just enjoy the party. Elsie actually blew out the candles on her cake by herself this year...that about made me tear up, but I was able to restrain myself! Oh, I finally got the pictures to post!