29 January 2009

Since I don't have any pictures of my own from the time Oliver, Jack & Baylor spent together on Wednesday, I'm sending you to Christine's post, which includes a few photos and some witty chatter. Enjoy!

Well, since I've been out of pocket for a bit (minus my "Not Me! Wednesday" post), I figured maybe this was a good time to share some photo updates from my week so far.

I took this photo of Oliver on Monday morning. I meant to include it in my "Not Me!" post because there is something pretty shameful about it. See the handsome sweater he's wearing? We'll, evidently he's very fond of it. My Mom dressed him in that sweater Sunday morning for church, he napped in it, ate several meals and snacks in it, slept in it Sunday night, and wore it all day Monday until it was time for his evening bath. That, folks, is a whole lotta sweater!
Here's a photo from Monday with my newest little doula client. This couple is SO sweet and they were a great team getting this little guy born.
Yeah, it's blurry, but it's precious too. Oliver and Bea asked to eat some clementines from the table, and Rebecca and I told them they needed to pray first. They took it very seriously, and prayed for a good amount of time before partaking (and counting!) the clementines. Sweet kids.
Ryan, on Tuesday night, as we drove through the frozen tundra that was southern Illinois. We were stopped at a gas station to try to clear some of the ice off of our wipers and windshield from the ice storm. I know it's very nerdy and southern of me to post snow pictures, but I included one of the snow under the overhang at the gas station too.

And, here we are today. Ry's been working from Olivet's Higher Grounds coffee shop and I'm stopping by for a mid-afternoon visit.
Can you spot my beautiful new bag? I'm very excited about it!

28 January 2009


It's Wednesday morning and I'm just now getting this posted. I know, I'm lame. But, the good news is that we've made it safely to the Case casa and we're having a great time!

**Original post - written Tuesday night**

Yes, it’s Tuesday and I’m only now publishing my “Not Me! Monday” post. But, isn’t that what “Not Me! Monday” is all about – falling short, not confessing, and then feeling much, much better about whatever foolish/shameful/frivolous thing you’ve done during the week?

MckMamma posted hers on time, and she’s not even in the country this week. But, here it is, Tuesday evening, and I’m sitting in the car with my boys, popping open the laptop, catching a few quiet moments to confess everything that I did not do this week.

To begin, while Ryan and I were up watching SNL one evening last week, I did not send him down to the kitchen during a commercial break for a stack of cookies and a glass of milk. As I ate my nighttime treat, I did not get distracted by the show and leave my cookie in the milk just a little too long, thereby leaving at least half of it in the bottom of the glass to spoil my fun. I most certainly did not immediately, without thinking, plunge my entire fist into the bottom of the glass, saving the cookie, only to find my hand (up to my wrist) dripping with milk and nothing to dry it off with. Good thing I thought first and didn’t make a big mess of things for a little bit of cookie.

I also went to see “Marley & Me” with Ryan last week. Let me just say that I did not wear my “traveling pants” so that I could look cute and still be comfortable for the movie.

By the way, I’d like to thank all of you for your kind comments about my last “Not Me! Monday” post. They have not encouraged Ryan to reconsider the house rule regarding maternity apparel.

I do not take advantage of our spare room and use the bed as an ongoing laundry folding station.

After attending an all-day and all-night birth on Saturday, I returned home at 4:00 Sunday morning completely exhausted. I went upstairs to sleep in the guest room (the darkest room in the house) and did not find the bed entirely covered with unfolded laundry. Desperate for sleep, I did not proceed to toss all of the clothes into the pack-n-play that was set up in the room and go to sleep. The sheer volume of unfolded, neglected clothes did not overflow the pack-n-play.

As recently as yesterday morning I did not propose to my husband an impromptu, week-long trip to Chicago without Oliver.

Just two hours into our trip we did not hear the weather man on the radio at a rest stop warn travelers, “If you do not have to travel today, STAY OFF THE ROADS!” Because we are cautious people, we definitely did not get back in the car and continue North to visit my dear college roommate Christine and her charming family.

I am not wearing my “traveling pants” right now.

I did not let Oliver watch an “Arthur” DVD 3 times in a row, and then follow it up with a “Sesame Street” DVD to keep him happy. Of course not, I am the Mom that reads books to my child on long car rides and does not get car sick doing it.

That’s all I’ve got, folks. We have squeezed a 7-hour trip into 9 hours and only have a little over an hour left to go. My toes are wiggling at the prospect of seeing our friends and their little ones for the week, as well as visiting a city that is very near and dear to our hearts.

Deep dish pizza and H&M, here we come!

(Stay tuned on Ryan’s blog and mine this week for trip updates, Case-family fun, and Chicago festivities.)

25 January 2009

My sister hijacked my blog and thinks she's clever.

But, Mr. Baldwin, if you're serious, I could use a nice melamine bowl...

Well, as you all know, I have been wanting to get rid of Scout for years. It's difficult because I am torn between love for her cuteness and great grief on account of her destructive powers.

I am also a big fan of 30 Rock and wildly, Alec Baldwin wants Scout for his own. I know it sounds crazy, but he's been reading my blog and has fallen in love with the wayward animal. Nothing will do for Mr. Baldwin but our very own Scout.

We have been in long negotiations with him over Scout. His starting offer was a puppy in exchange for the Scout, and our starting offer was the Scout plus a years' supply of dogfood. He has whittled us down to 30 cents and a melamine bowl in exchange for Scout and a schwinn bicycle.

So, it's settled.

24 January 2009

Quick story.

It's Oliver's naptime, which means we probably only have about a 4 in 7 chance of him actually falling asleep. And, today's struggle was no different.

I've been in and out of the house today because of an impending birth, so Ryan was on his own with the little escape artist.

And, escape he did.

At one point this afternoon, Ryan felt like things were suspiciously quiet. Could it be that Oliver had just given in and fallen asleep? Not likely. Ry went to check on him in his room.


Hm. Maybe the guest room?


Okay, so he's not upstairs. Downstairs? (I'll say here that we have occasionally found Oliver playing in the front or back yard after letting himself out without notifying us. Not cool.)

The first sweep of the downstairs produced no Oliver. Ryan's palms begin to sweat.

Double check upstairs. No kid.

Downstairs again. At this point he's looking in closets and such. What he expected to find was an awake, sneaking-around Oliver; what he finally found (to his great relief) was this:

Would I be fooling myself to think that he probably crawled into my bed to sleep because I was gone and it smells like me? Probably. But, it's a nice theory.

It was my great fortune yesterday to notice in the nick of time that I was just one post shy of 100. A close call!

Now, I’ll note here that it has taken me significantly longer to write 100 posts than, say, Christine (who wrote 100 posts in under five months), or Dr. Grant’s Eleventary (six months – it should have been eleven!), or MckMamma (who came close to 100 posts in August 2008 alone)!

It’s been nearly seven months of blogging for me. Seven months and 100 posts. And in this, my centennial post, I’ll use just 100 words!

23 January 2009

I can hardly believe it's been a year; it really does seem like only yesterday.

On this day last year, our whole world came crashing down when a routine ultrasound revealed that our Evie Grace was very sick and would not likely live. God blessed us with eleven weeks after that before she went to be with her Jesus.

I've known this day was coming, and I expected that it would be difficult.

It is.

I miss her so much. I miss January 22, 2008 - when everything seemed so simple and normal. I miss our girl.

But, today, we have set aside not to remember the sad things - not to remember that she would "not live".

Today, we celebrate that she did live.

We celebrate the life that God gave us, no matter how brief. We celebrate the "life of grace" as her name suggests. Our baby girl had life, and that is a miracle.

I've spent the last few days watching the footage from the ultrasound that day. It's difficult to watch in real time because we remember all too well the dialog that took place during the pauses, the ignorantly blissful interjections of two parents who had no idea what was happening, and of course what took place afterward.

I don't really like to remember it in real time. The moment-by-moment is sad. But, to watch our baby girl, alive, creating one of the very precious memories we have of her - that is what I love.

I choose to celebrate her life today.

So, without further ado, my friends, I share with you something that is very precious to me; our baby girl, Evie Grace:

(Oh, and don't forget to turn your sound on!)

"I will sing to the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live."
Psalm 104:33

20 January 2009

“The command to ‘defend the orphan’ (Isaiah 1:16-17) has always been vital to the Christian message. One thing that distinguished early Christians from their pagan neighbors was their treatment of unwanted children. In addition, adoption is the literal manifestation of a metaphor that Christians use to describe themselves all the time. The Church should therefore offer a clear and compelling basis for celebrating and encouraging adoption, and for refuting the lies of this age with the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is, after all, a Gospel of adoption.”
—Al Mohler

This is an exciting time for our family! My sister and brother-in-law, along with their two-year-old daughter Beatrice, have the orphans of Ethiopia heavy on their hearts. This summer, Caleb and Rebecca committed to adopting not one, but two baby boys from this country abounding with baby boys and girls who need homes.

It's been six months since the first bits of paperwork were filed, and we are all so excited to move on to the next step of getting a referral and bringing two sweet babies home. The dossier is ready to be mailed the first of February, and we're ready for the final push of raising money to give these boys a family.

I'd like to invite you all to be involved with us in this beautiful picture of the gospel.

On Sunday, February 8th, we will be hosting an Adoption Fundraiser and Silent Auction at the Methodist Church in downtown Franklin. The meal will be catered and served by Providence Farms and there will be live bluegrass music provided from a couple of local bands. (Dancing along has NOT been ruled out!) Tickets are only $12/person.

Here's where you come in:

  • First, we ask you to pray! Please pray that we will be able to raise the remaining money needed to complete the process. Pray for the Faires family as they prepare their home and their hearts to welcome TWO babies into their lives. Pray for the orphans in Ethiopia. We know that God has already handpicked two babies for this family, though we don't know who they are yet. Please pray for their protection and provision. And pray for the babies that will not get a home as well. We wish we could help them all!
  • Second, come to the lunch! If you're local, come and enjoy phenomenal food, fun bluegrass music and a great time!
  • Third, donate! Do you have any services that you can offer to the auction? Can you paint homes or walk dogs? Do you have a piece of furniture you don't need anymore or a killer pie you could bake? Be creative!
  • Finally, bid bid bid! We've kept the cost of attending the lunch low so that you can have the opportunity to bid on some really cool things! Already, folks have been incredibly generous and donated some awesome things. From piano tunings, teeth whitening, and trendy eye-wear to kennel stays, baby-sitting and custom paintings, the list continues to grow! Ryan's donating a blog design - you can bid on that from anywhere!
Thanks for your support, friends! We can't wait to meet our nephews!

If you want to learn more about the Faires' and their adoption, visit Rebecca's blog.

“Every one of us who follows Christ was adopted into an already existing family. Thus, the Gospel should manifest itself among us as adoption by the adopted. Such is the Kingdom of God.” —Russell Moore

19 January 2009

Oliver was running around the play room this afternoon with a hockey stick and ball. I couldn't make out what he was saying immediately, but it didn't take me long to realize he was shouting, "Focus, guys! Focus!" Evidently we use the word "focus" a lot around here.

Not an hour later he and Ryan were picking up the playroom from the days undoing and I was playing sudoku on the computer. (I have an addiction. I'm ashamed.) They were chattering back and forth, and in a quiet moment Oliver spoke up, "Daddy, what time is it?"

Ryan: "What??"

Oliver: "What time is it?"

Ryan: "Um, it's 4:15?" (We exchange confused glances.)

Oliver: "Oh." Satisfied, he goes on picking up the play room.

18 January 2009

I've really been missing our Evie-girl this weekend.

As some of you know, this Friday (the 23rd) marks the 1-year anniversary of the day that changed our family forever. It was the day of our routine ultrasound that became anything but routine. It was the day that changed our lives forever.

Few days in our life together have been as pivotal as that one.

The day our son was born was monumental. It made us parents. It meant that it wasn't just about us anymore. Life would never be the same. Shoot, a simple car ride would never be the same!

The day we started our life in Tennessee (moving from Illinois) was definitive. We had moved away from the familiar in search of something different. We knew we wanted something more, but weren't sure what it was. We made new friends, bought a new home, joined a new denomination and wove ourselves into a community of people that would one day carry us through some of the hardest days of our young lives. That day prepared us for days to come.

The day Ryan left his job and became self-employed was terrifying. Working from home was a bold step into the unknown, which has changed the way we operate our home, our parenting, and even our marriage.

But, the day we learned that we wouldn't get to keep our Evie was by far the most remarkable. It was our crisis of faith - where the rubber meets the road. Would we trust God with this? Would our marriage survive? Would we ever, ever be the same?

The answer two the first two questions is, by the grace of God, "yes".

The answer to the latter is "no".

The truth is, I haven't been to a children's clothing store yet without my throat getting tight and my heart hurting as I pass the little girl clothes.

I may never see little girls that were born in the spring of 2008 and not immediately think of my own baby girl. I can't help but be reminded that our Evie would be teething or crawling or beginning to babble.

I know I'll never look at Oliver the same. I'll never stop pausing mid-day or while he's sleeping at night just to hear his healthy heart beating.

Try as I might, I won't ever say goodbye like I did before Evie. It's a silly thing, really, but sometimes when I say "goodbye" or "goodnight" to Oliver, there's a moment where I'm afraid it might be my last. I suppose it's because I've actually said a final goodbye to one of my children. That moment is all too familliar.

It has stayed with me. I will never be the same.

There are other things to that are different. I will never take life for granted. In any of my pregnancies, no matter how early, I have learned to praise God for, and to savor, whatever time he blesses us with that particular child. Life is precious, no matter how little.

I hope differently too. I have a hope that I will see my girl again in heaven. (Man, I just can't wait for heaven!) I also have hope because I know that I am not alone in any of this. God has been there during all the sleepless nights and medical procedures and parents' worst nightmares. I know, because I've seen Him there.

That day last year changed us. It has shaped us. It does not define us, but we will never be the same.

But the truth is, I don't want to be the same.

There has been a lot of pain in this past year. Agony, really. But, in that agony, there has been a deepening of my relationship with Christ. A bonding with my husband like I have never experienced. An appreciation for the gift of life that I never fully understood.

I don't want to be the Christian that I was last January. Or the wife or mother. And even though this Mommy's heart aches for her baby girl, I exalt the name of the Lord with the prophet Isaiah for his perfect faithfulness to our little family. He is good!

Isaiah 25
1 O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done marvelous things,
things planned long ago.

2 You have made the city a heap of rubble,
the fortified town a ruin,
the foreigners' stronghold a city no more;
it will never be rebuilt.

3 Therefore strong peoples will honor you;
cities of ruthless nations will revere you.

4 You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm
and a shade from the heat.
For the breath of the ruthless
is like a storm driving against a wall

5 and like the heat of the desert.
You silence the uproar of foreigners;
as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is stilled.

6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.

7 On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;

8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken.

9 In that day they will say,
"Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation."

Friends, I want to ask you all to pray for our family this week. It will be a sad week, as it marks the beginning of our final eleven weeks with Evie Grace. I am going to be working on a small project that I want to share with you all. I know that it will be hard (both manually and emotionally). I'm hoping that I will be able to share Evie with you in a way none of you has known her. Please pray for me.

16 January 2009

My cute Mom stopped by yesterday evening with a late Christmas gift for our family. For the last several years (I would venture at least 4 years), we have made a holiday tradition of getting bay leaf wreaths for our three families (Mom, us, and my sister's family) from Williams Sonoma. The tricky thing about ordering the wreaths is that Williams Sonoma only ships them out 4 times over the course of the winter. So, you may order your wreaths in late December, and they will arrive at your home sometime in mid January. It's fun to wait, and exciting when they come. This year, it was a complete surprise. Thanks, Mom!

It's a great tradition, and a perfect sensual experience. Not only is it so pretty to look at, but it smells phenomenal for weeks (even months!), and you can use the leaves for cooking too. That does still leave out touch and sound, but 3 out of the 5 senses isn't bad!
Here is is this morning, displayed proudly (and strategically) in the middle of our home so we can smell it every time we walk past.
Here's a wider shot. Ten points if you can spot Oliver!
And, this is the little love of my life. Nothing else special, just him.
And finally, I did something this morning that I really never saw myself doing. I put a temporary (monster) tattoo on Oliver's tummy for a little treat. I'm actually sort of opposed to kids running around with crusty, peeling, fake tattoos on their arms/faces/etc., but, I figured a little monster on the belly wouldn't hurt. Besides, he took a bath immediately after, and to both of our disappointment, it vanished entirely.
Have a lovely, frigid Friday!

14 January 2009

As many of you may know, we have a weimaraner named Scout. We got her 4 1/2 years ago as a puppy, the same week we bought our first home. We named her Jean Louise "Scout" Finch after the character in the book "To Kill a Mockingbird".

That's the short version of the story.

But, because the Marley and Me movie has recently been released (I have read the book twice, and am highly anticipating my chance to go and see the film), I've been doing some reflecting on the slightly longer version of our own dog's story. I imagine that one of the best ways to communicate Scout's story is in the form of lists. Let's begin:
List #1: Things My Dog Has Eaten
  • We went out for lunch as a family today, and when we returned, we found an empty 40-flavor Jelly Belly box on the play room floor. I sure hope Oliver will still use his potty chair if we don't have any more "dommo beans".
  • Along with the jelly beans, she also consumed one yellow crayon (I'll note here that she did have the good sense not to eat the wrapper.)
  • In her lifetime (that we know of), Scout has successfully swiped -and swallowed in one gulp - a total of 3 full sticks of butter from the dinner table.
  • She has also snatched meat from the grill on countless occasions, including - though not limited to - 8 raw hamburger patties, several cooked pork chops, and hot dogs of varying temperatures.
  • Once she ate my mother-in-law's lipstick out of her purse, without actually getting any on her lips.
  • Strangely enough, she was also tempted by a sealed bottle of prenatal vitamins I had several years ago. I came home from work one evening to find the bottle open and empty, and Scout, with little pink pills stuck all over her face and body. (You see, when Scout is really enjoying something, she likes to roll on her back on top of it. We think she must have licked the pills, then rolled on them, then forgotten about them.) That time I called the vet and actually had to force feed her teaspoonfuls of hydrogen peroxide every 5 minutes until she "coughed" them all up.
  • When Oliver was born, things really got bad for a while. Right away she started doing things while we were gone to let us know how she felt about being replaced. One night we came home from being out to find an entire bag of brown sugar scattered (and rolled on) all over our shag rug.
  • Brown sugar wasn't the only thing, though. She also trained us never to leave infant formula any less than six feet off the ground and behind closed cabinet doors. She ate that stuff like it was candy. We started to hide it like it was gold.
  • By the time Oliver was 3 months old, she was just shameless. We left her downstairs for just a few minutes one evening and returned to find that she'd eaten a chocolate cake we'd set out for dessert, while standing on my beautiful, white, Ethan Allen Chair (the one nice piece of furniture I'll probably ever buy - at least until Scout goes on to her reward.)
  • We'd really made it clear to Scout that night how we felt about the chocolate cake incident. Less than an hour later though, she made it clear to us how she felt about things by eating a bowl of ravioli and smearing it on the freshly cleaned, $900 chair.

List #2: Things My Dog Has Destroyed
  • Scout chewed the heel off a new pair of beautiful shoes before I ever got a chance to wear them.
  • She has destroyed her weight in gold's worth of breast pumping equipment.
  • We once arrived home to find our leather sofa on the other side of the room, with a great big tear in one seat cushion.
  • Another time, we came home to find that Scout was feeling insecure about leaving her bone lying around, so she'd decided to bury it in our mattress.
  • Once, we went on vacation to Florida and left Scout with my sister and brother-in-law. We received a phone call two days into our trip that Rebecca went on a walk with their greyhound and didn't take Scout with her. This is how Scout reacted:
  • When Christine and Steve came to visit at Christmastime when Oliver was newborn, they brought a gift for him and we left it wrapped under the tree while we went out for dinner. When we returned home, Scout had not only unwrapped the gift (an "Ugly Doll" named Ice Bat), but she had torn the ear off of it as well. Ice Bat has been repaired, but he looks like he's had a lobotomy.
  • Scout unwrapped only 6 gifts from our tree this year. She even took some upstairs to unwrap them there.
  • One afternoon in September 2005 I had the day off from work and decided to spend it planting mums in the backyard. It was hot, hard work, but by the end of the day it was well worth it. The backyard looked like an autumn wonderland. The next morning I woke up with on of the most serious cases of poison ivy I've ever had, and Scout and the neighbor dog had dug up and eaten every last mum in the flower bed. I spent the next two weeks in bed with poison ivy and it was years before I had the heart to re-attempt any backyard beautification.
List #3: Reasons We Keep Her Around
  • She terrifies strangers - mostly the bad ones, but we do also have some friends who are just plain scared of dogs. We keep her around for the bad guys.
  • She keeps our toes warm in the winter.
  • I chose a weimaraner in the first place while I was a design student because she coordinated so well with all the plans I had for our home. She is pretty to look at.
  • She'll lick your feet if you like that sort of thing. Sometimes I think that's the only reason Rebecca comes to my house.
  • Now that she's been reassured that she has not been replaced, Scout is the best dog a little boy could ever have. She lets Oliver tug on her ears and climb all over her while she contentedly chews her bone. He stirs her food with a big wooden spoon while she eats, and she makes room for him. She plays soccer with him in the yard and they chase balloons together in the playroom. She loves him.
And finally,
List #4: Some Highlights (and Lowlights?) of Our Time With Her

Brand new to the family.

After an "accident". (And by "accident", I mean, "Ryan and I thought it would be fun to have a second dog, so we chose a weim/chocolate lab mix at the Humane Society. Heidi was adorable and sweet, but only lasted a week and a half because the two did not get along.")

Not long after that, we decided to enroll Scout in obedience classes. That's a post all in itself. Here is a photo of her on the day of her graduation. Yes, I was a stay-at-home Mom to a weimaraner and I made a mortar board for her out of a cereal box and some aluminum foil. No, I am not proud of it.

This was taken a few days after we brought Oliver home from the hospital.
Scout didn't get that the Moses basket was not for her.

She had good moments with baby Oliver too.
And, she *almost* always respected nap time as quiet time.

This is just a funny picture I took because I have no idea how this happened.
I'm guessing she must have jumped through the swing.

And finally, a photo of Scout since she has accepted, nay, embraced her new life as Oliver's dog.

Have a lovely day, friends!