Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The MAD Group

So it appears I have become a part of something wonderful, something given to me from God...the MAD Birthday Group. (Today it even got to be the MAD support group.)

When we moved to our new community 2 1/2 years ago, I didn't know a soul, not one soul. If you know me well that was daunting, very daunting. But oh how the Lord has blessed me with so many great new friends. Our church's women's ministry is brimming with just plain awesome women whom I get to share life with every other week. I AM SO GRATEFUL.

Then there are two women who have come to mean so much to me from church. We have gotten to know each other and support each other through some good times and rough times. My family even took over one of these ladies' homes for 2 1/2 weeks when we were in-between apartments last fall. I know I can depend on them and I hope they know they can depend on me.
Celebrating Friends!
Last fall we surprised D for her birthday by inviting her to my apartment for a casual play date but instead we had a birthday brunch waiting to celebrate her. Then for my birthday they showed up on my doorstep to take me out for the evening.

Well, last weekend we got to celebrate A. We took her out to one of her favorite restaurants then headed back to my apartment to hang out and celebrate more.
Celebrating Friends!
I had found this incredible looking cake on Pinterest and knew it had to be made for A's birthday so we enjoyed a Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate cake, watched videos on how to wear scarves and make our hair curly by wearing headbands overnight. Then we settled in and watched a fun chick flick.

It was a great night. I don't know who is blessed more, the birthday girl or the ones who get to be sneaky and make the plan and put it into action. It is so fun on both sides. We have also decided that it is our tradition now and so we are the MAD birthday group...MAD as in awesome!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

5 1/2

Happy 5 1/2, Peanut!
One of the first things I thought about after discovering we were pregnant with our first and that the due date was in July was that our sweet little one wouldn't get to bring the beloved birthday treats to school since he or she was going to have a summer birthday.  But along comes her awesome Kindergarten teacher this year who lets the summer birthday kids celebrate their half birthdays and that is just what Peanut got to do this past Friday!  She was as excited about turning 5 1/2 as she was when she turned 5.  There was even a conversation where I had to make sure she understood there wouldn't be presents because she thought we were going to do it up big!
Happy 5 1/2, Peanut!
She did get to take a special treat to her class though and that sufficed.  Due to some allergies that her classmates have we couldn't do the traditional cupcake, so we chose rainbow fruit kabobs!  (Totally stole the idea from a friend.)  They were a hit with most of her kindergarten buddies.
Happy 5 1/2, Peanut!
Pumpkin and I got to hang out with her during the last hour of her class which made her even more excited. Pumpkin got to paint a little which made her day too!
Happy 5 1/2, Peanut!
We spent the last half hour outside at recess with Peanut and her buddies. I figured out quickly after Kindergarten started not to send her in anything "fancy" because she LOVES to get in the dirt and get dirty and muddy! She was immediately drawn to the mud and stomped around in it for part of recess. She did not get that gene from me...I don't like to get dirty. I am so glad that she doesn't mind! I do love that most days when I pick her up, I have to take her boots off before she can get in the van.
Happy 5 1/2, Peanut!
And now she's all big and 5 1/2 years old! ;) Those half year markers are so important when you are little. They are just reminders to me of how fast time is passing by and to cling to each moment that they are little.

Daddy's Birthday

So on January 25 we celebrated Robert Burns' birthday and on January 26 we celebrated Daddy's birthday with our friends.  We have had some great times with them in the past few months and this was just an extra special week of celebrating and being together. 

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Daddy got a special meal. I always love planning out the perfect meal for him. He is not picky so it is fun to try out new recipes and I always try to pick out things that I know he would love. This year I had the added addition of a restricted diet but I able to find some great "pinspiration" on Pinterest. We had Baked Dijon Salmon (thank you to Kroger for having an AWESOME sale on fresh salmon!), Greek Zucchini Fritters, roasted garlic couscous, and instead of birthday cake a special birthday Blackberry Pie. They were all keeper recipes! Love it when that happens!
Happy Birthday Daddy!
We even played Daddy's new favorite game Carcassonne. As he told a friend today, he is "nerding out" over it. He is obsessed! After the festivities of our meal and game, he and his buddy played a few games on their own with their extension packs!
Happy Birthday Daddy!
We love you so much Hubby and Daddy! We praise the Lord for who you are to each of us. You are an INCREDIBLE father. These little girls we are blessed with will never doubt your love for them for even a minute!
So here are 36 random things that I love about you:
1. You love God.
2. You don't back down on your beliefs.
3. You run around playing like a crazy man playing "Monster" with the girls inducing the world's loudest giggles from them!
4. You've taught me to love music that I probably would have never given a chance.
5. You love our girls to the moon and back a bazillion times over.
6. You love what your are pursuing.
7. You don't let your dreams die.
8. You teach our girls what it means to love other people.
9. You make time for us even in this crazy, hectic time of life.
10. You still know how to make me laugh and giggle.
11. You love to unwind with a movie and me.
12. You know how to fix my computer issues when I have no clue.
13. You push me when I need to be pushed (even if I whine and there are tears involved).
14. You beam with pride when our girls do the simplest things, spurring on their confidence!
15. You teach the girls that they can do ANYTHING!
16. You tackle insurance because you know it overwhelms me.
17. You let me have time away when I might come close to losing it.
18. You love your family.
19. You love history and make it an important part of our lives.
20. You have taken this new path concerning your health seriously and are changing what you can on!
21. You support me in my passion to be home with our girls.
22. You help me make our home just that, a home even if it is a tiny apartment.
23. You are a computer whiz.
24. You love people just for who they are not for what others think they should be.
25. You wash the dishes when I just need a break.
26. You take out the trash for me.
27. You don't just settle for things.
28. You remind me constantly that He will take care of us and not leave us hang.
29. You are brave in the midst of what we are faced with right now.
30. You work above and beyond in school.
31. You take the bus so I can have the van to run the girls around.
32. You will eat anything I make for you and usually like it!
33. You are teaching me to enjoy strategy games (slowly but surely).
34. You take our girls on dates so they know how special they are to you.
35. You love me.
36. You helped me create two of the most amazing girls on the planet!

Robert Burn's Day!

A little over a week ago, I had no idea who Robert_Burns was, but now I do. He was a Scottish poet who was born on January 25, 1759 and died on July 21, 1796. He is known as Scotland's favorite son and the Ploughman poet. (Thanks Wikipedia!) We have some great friends who take their Scottish roots seriously and invited us over to celebrate Robert Burns' day in true Scottish style.
Robert Burn's Day
I mean, we are talking kilts, kilt hose (knit by my friend), bagpipes, and true Scottish food.
Robert Burn's Day

Robert Burn's Day
We ate haggis and neeps and tatties.

The food was blessed with the Selkirk Grace otherwise knowns as the Burns' Grace.
"Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit."

There was even a reading of Robert Burns' poetry dedicated to the beloved haggis, Address to a Haggis.
Robert Burn's Day
I have to say that the haggis was not awful. Now that I have had it, I'm probably ok if I don't have it again but wouldn't turn my nose up to it. Even the girls liked it which shocked me...especially our little picky eater.
Robert Burn's Day
Most importantly we just had fun! We are so blessed with great friendships. God has provided fellowship for us with these special friends and we are amazed how He has led our paths to the same town for the time being. We love spending time together and watching our kids' friendship unfold.
Robert Burn's Day
And in true Burns' night tradition we were piped away with Auld Lang Syne.

Highlights

A dear friend got Peanut a really cool Christmas gift that floods Daddy and I with memories....a subscription to Highlights magazine!  She LOVES it.  The day that it comes, we spend Pumpkin's nap time together on the floor reading and doing the activities together.  It is such a fun little magazine for her age.  Both Daddy and I had Highlights subscriptions when we were little so it is so fun to watch out little girl get so excited about something that we were so excited about when we were little.  Thank you dear friend for thinking of this great idea.  It has been a hit!
Highlights!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Halfway Visit

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A year...WOW!  It has been over a year since we have seen Daddy's sister and her girls.  That is not right!  We have tried to get together but it always seems plans fall through or kids get sick.  This time we sort of threw it together at the last minute and it worked!
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Halfway between their home and ours is a nice city with lots of things to do so we met there.  It was SO good to see them.  I love NOTHING more than seeing my girls being loved on by members of our family and for us to get to love on those members too.

After a quick lunch we hit two museums that are housed in this amazing railroad terminal that was built in 1931.  Here are some pics from our day together.
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It was hard keeping up with the youngsters in the group.  They would run from display to display. 
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There was ALOT of giggling going on between these two who are only about 9 months apart in age.  They crack us up!
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After losing the littlest in our group in the PACKED OUT children's museum for all of 30 seconds which seemed like an eternity to me, we decided to grab some supper together before heading out separate ways.

We are all so thankful we were able to have this special time together.  We have decided that meeting in this town needs to become a habit and just do it! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Diagnosis

I haven't dedicated a post to what we have found out about Daddy's health.  I am sure most of you already know as you have been following on Facebook or through email but maybe some of you do not.  Daddy had his kidney biopsy done on December 13.  After a fiasco of trying to find out what the results of the biopsy were (long story...nutshell version:  lots of miscommunication!), we found out that Daddy does not have Minimal Change Kidney Disease as we were hoping.  He has what is called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis or FSGS.  His kidneys are functioning at 30% right now and he is right on the line between stage 3 and stage 4 for Chronic Kidney Disease (there are 5 stages).  


After meeting with our Nephrologist and hearing his treatment plan for Daddy, we both feel that finding a second opinion would not be a bad thing.  We are in the process of doing that right now.  


We have made some really good connections since discovering his diagnosis.  Daddy spoke with a man who has FSGS and will be receiving a new kidney next month for at least an hour the other night.  We also have the phone number for another family who wants to talk with us about their daughter's experience with FSGS.  We were also connected to our local dialysis center where we met a social worker and dietitian who offered to meet with us whenever we wanted or needed to.


Daddy is feeling good.  There are no symptoms right now and for that we are so thankful.  He has been able to maintain his busy schedule and keep up with two little girls who love him to the moon and back.  


He is watching what he eats very closely and trying to exercise everyday.  We have to keep a close eye on how much potassium he takes in each day.  His potassium level was at 5.5 when we met with the doctor and they consider 6 to be the danger zone where there can be some serious issues with the heart.  The doctor decreased one of his medicines that is known to increase potassium levels.  We are hoping that will drop his level down significantly.  


Right now you can pray that this process of getting a second opinion would just speed up.  We have been waiting on people to make phone calls, fax forms, waiting on people to call us back who seem to forget to call back, and so forth.  It has created alot of anxiety as we just want to get a second opinion so we can make a decision with as much knowledge as we can get.  There are so many hoops to jump through and it is so frustrating when you are jumping through them but later find out that you jumped through the wrong one.  


If we do nothing, Daddy will be looking at a transplant or dialysis in 5 years.  The trouble with FSGS is that even if he were to get a transplant and have a healthy new kidney, the disease can return.  By that point we would know what treatment worked best for him though and hopefully we would be able to slow down the disease or hold it off for awhile.  


There is alot on our plate right now.  There are many decisions to be made.  There is alot going on in our lives.  I do get overwhelmed by it all but we are surrounded by great friends and a great church here in our community.  We also have incredible family support and friends from all over who deeply care about us.  Most importantly God has not left us to do this on our own.  


I just started a new Bible study at our church last Friday.  It is the study of James by Beth Moore.  I can already say after one video and a few lessons in that it is going to be good and just what I need for where I am right now.  During Beth's video introduction to the study she said something that really impacted me.  "Sometimes Christ has to take us all the way over here to change us into what He needs us to be so He can take us back to where we were to use us."  I feel like that is what He is doing.  If you had told me last year that we would be facing a major health issue this year, I would have laughed.  But here we are facing just that.  


Another great insight from Beth's video was that everything I hate about my past and my present has made a space inside of me.  Do I let that space sit empty or do I let it fill with the grace that only God can give.  Life is challenging but it is never meant to be empty!


This is where we are right now.  I will try to update as we know new things and such.  Thank you for all of your prayers.  Thank you to those of you who have done things anonymously to greatly bless our little family.  Thank you to those who have loved on our littles when we have needed to go to the doctor.  Thank you to those we know with medical background for listening as we have picked your brains.  Thank you to those who have brought yummy meals just at the most perfect times.  Thank you for listening to the prompting of the Lord...it has blessed us greatly!


"Have the courage to live under strain and pain to be part of a BETTER story.  A larger story.  Don't wimp out."  - Beth Moore

Friday, January 13, 2012

Another Birthday Surprise

Last Saturday I got to go out and have some time all by myself!  I needed it.  I get rejuvenated by time alone and hadn't had that in a long time.  I had to be home by 2 p.m. so Daddy could go hiking with a friend to try out the new gear he got with Christmas money.  I got home and Daddy headed out.  I had my suspicions that he was up to something but not really sure what.  

Peanut was giddy with excitement and said, "Let's play Candy Land, Mom!"  I went to get the game and it along with many other games had mysteriously disappeared.  That is when I realized there were alot of things missing.  Then Peanut kept talking about a surprise and asking when Daddy would be home.  Any time I would try to guess what the surprise was, she would slap her forehead and say, "Oh no!  Now you're winning, Mom!"  It was pretty funny.

Daddy got home about 3 hours later and ordered us all into the van with a HUGE smile on his face.  We ended up in the next county over which is GORGEOUS filled with beautiful hills.  We kept driving out into the boonies until we found this sign...
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And this cabin...
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Inside the cabin were all of the things that had been missing from our apartment along with some very good friends. My sweet friend had made a scrumptious meal of spaghetti carbonara. We sat around the table together and I felt so blessed and so happy.
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The kids had a ball playing together and having fun.
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The adults had a great time too. The guys played a game and the women watched a movie (well tried to without falling asleep), read and knitted (that would be my friend who is an exceptional knitter...amazing talent).
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On Sunday we headed out for lunch. Daddy wanted to take me to one of my favorite places which is this amazing restaurant tucked in the hills in the middle of nowhere. Wouldn't you know it? They were shut down that weekend (the only weekend of the year) for renovations. The kids got to feed carrots to some horses so it wasn't for nothing.
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I LOVE this picture so much, Pumpkin and her pal.
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We headed to the local village for lunch instead. I chose a place I had been really wanting to eat at "Muddy Boots Cafe". It was so yummy, eclectic, and kid friendly. Win, Win!
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Are these not some of the cutest kids, you've ever seen? They are such good buddies too. (Daddy had to work for a bit so he needed an internet connection. He had to stop by a little cafe with wi-fi for a bit. That is why he's in the background.)
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We spent the rest of the day back at our cabin just hanging out. What more could you ask for? The weather was even warm enough for the kids to play outside.
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There was grill so for my official birthday supper on Sunday, we grilled out. We had bratwurst and sauerkraut, a yummy salad, and chips. Here is Peanut's reaction to sauerkraut. Don't think she was a fan.
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My sweet friend made the MOST delicious homemade chocolate cake too to end the meal with. It was fabulous! (I hate to admit this but this cake was gone by the time everyone went to bed. It was THAT good.)
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One of my favorite moments on my birthday was Pumpkin taking her nap while I held her. It was so nice to just snuggle up with her on the couch in this beautiful cabin and feel loved.
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So Daddy did good. He did real good! I had the best birthday weekend ever! Thank you to my awesome family and incredible friends for making me feel so special.

As you probably already figured out, Daddy did not in fact go hiking. He was getting the cabin all set and ready to go for the big surprise. He's so sneaky!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Birthday Surprise

I have a really great post to write but not one good picture of the event to post.  Isn't that sad?  You know you like to blog your life, when you are really bummed that you forgot your camera!

Friday afternoon my hubby took the girls for a walk (since it was in the 50's...in JANUARY).  Before he left he told me that I might want to get myself ready for a night out.  When they got home Peanut was giddy with excitement and told me I had a surprise! 

I was all ready but there sat my hubby who didn't seem in any hurry to get ready to go.  Hmmm....then there was a knock at the door.  When it opened, there stood two of my dear friends from our little town.  They were all dressed up and ready to take me out for a night on the town!  I was overwhelmed and felt so loved at by this sweet surprise. 

One of them contacted Hubby that week and said they wanted to surprise me and be ready for Friday night!

They took me to (in my opinion) one of the BEST restaurants in our town.  It is soooo good.  I have only eaten there once for breakfast and three times for lunch.  This was my first time to eat off the scrumptious supper menu.  The Food Network has declared one of their hamburgers the BEST burger in our humble state.

We had a ball talking, giggling, and just being together.  They kept asking what I wanted to do next and I did not care one little bit.  I was so blessed by their surprise that nothing else really was important.  After dessert (free birthday carrot cake) we headed to do a bit of shopping before calling it a night.

I just need to say that on top of taking me out and blessing me, they had to pay babysitters to watch their kiddos because both of their hubbies were out of town.  They didn't even bat an eye about this but we all know that babysitters are not cheap!

Thank you so much friends!  It was such a wonderful evening!!!  I will hold it as one of my favorite birthday memories for years to come.
(These are the only pictures I have of these two sweeties.  I'm going to have to remedy that.  They are beautiful women on the inside and out and I am so grateful God has let our paths cross.)
Blessed with Friends!Blessed with Friends!