Thursday, October 28, 2010

Birthday Supper

I have made it a tradition in our family that the birthday boy/girl always gets to choose what I make for supper on their birthday.
Jonathan chose chicken pot pie for his birthday supper.
Chicken pot pie is one of my favorites, but I don't make it a lot because it's one of those meals that is pretty labor I really have to plan my time well to get that meal done!
Jonathan gave me plenty of notice, thought, so I was able to manage my time just right to make it happen. I planned a leftover meal for Tuesday evening, so that I could spend the afternoon on Tuesday chopping the veggies, cooking the chicken and veggies, making the homemade gravy, and the homemade buttery pie crust and then putting it all together. I needed to do all of that on Tuesday so that I could make his birthday cupcakes on Wednesday. (another labor intensive job when you make it all from scratch - but totally fun - especially when you have little hands trying to help you along the way!)
Anyway, I am sure you get the idea that I have had my hands full this week! We sat down to our chicken pot pie last night ... and Jonathan made a huge deal about how awesome his birthday meal was ... and went on like that for a few minutes. A few minutes after that, he looked up at me and said ... "yeah... I don't want to eat this ... I'll just eat the chicken, okay?"
Hmmm ... now, why exactly did you choose chicken pot pie, Jonathan? I could have easily just made you some chicken! That would have only taken about 20 minutes! Oh well!
The rest of us, minus Aaron, thoroughly enjoyed Jonathan's birthday chicken pot pie!

In his defense, we made those cupcakes to take to his Cubbies class ... and I think he was just so excited about cupcakes and Cubbies that he just didn't have an appetite.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jonathan!!

Jonathan is 4 years old today!!
I love how he is ALL boy! His favorite place to play is in a pile of dirt. If you get to close to him while he's playing you will get sprayed by all of his sound effects! He loves playing with his brothers, and although he's never seen the Star Wars movies ... he knows all the characters by name ... and pays attention to Stars Wars talk, so that he can play with his big brothers!
He loves to learn. He still loves to be cuddled. He is strong willed and stubborn, but really wants me to be happy with him.
After throwing a fit the other night ... he cuddled up in my arms and told me that he had made a bad choice. . . and that he was so sorry . . . and would not make that choice again. (ahhhh ... he's growing up!)
I love this little guy so much ... his big brown eyes and smile melt my heart! I am so thankful to be raising this special boy! **("even when he runs my praying knees ragged")

**quote borrowed from my friend, Pam Weber

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New normal

Almost exactly 7 years ago, I went through the darkest season of my life. We had recently moved to NC. Rich was working full time and just starting the PhD program at Southeastern. Martin was about a year and a half old at the time. Martin and I spent those very long and lonely days together just trying to fill up the days. We were away from all of our family, and still trying to get used to it. I was almost 12 weeks along with our 2nd child and thrilled to be welcoming another Holland baby to our family. We were already thinking of names for our new baby, dreaming of holding him in our hands, and thinking of the future with two children in our family.
We were also uncertain of our health insurance situation at the time and were trying to get all that worked out before I could be seen by a doctor.
Once we figured all of that out, I made my way to my first appointment ... at almost 12 weeks along ... and the appointment was about a 45 minute drive from our home. Rich was in class all day, so he was not able to go with me. So, I packed Martin up with a few snacks and headed out for the appointment. I was super excited because this was the day I would get to see that sweet baby for the first time through ultrasound!
Martin was such a good boy! He sat in his stroller through everything. He played with little toys and looked at books. I'll never forget what a relief it was that he was being so well behaved while the nurses took care of me that day.
I finally got in to see the doctor and found out that they probably wouldn't be doing an ultrasound. They brought in the doppler to listen for the heartbeat ... afterall ... I was already 12 weeks along. The resident tried and tried to find that heartbeat, but apparently the baby was being stubborn because try as she might ... she could not find it. She told me not to worry ... it was still a little early to hear it. So, she brought in the portable ultrasound machine.
She got the machine all hooked up and sure enough ... as soon as the screen came up ... there was our precious baby ... perfectly formed ... my heart soared!! It wasn't long, however, before I realized that the precious and perfectly formed little one's heart was not beating. It was, without doubt, the most haunting moment of my life. Even still ... my hopes were not crushed! There had to be some mistake, I thought. They immediately moved me to another room with a more sophisticated ultrasound machine. In my mind, they needed to get a better look at the baby to make sure that the other less sophisticated machine was malfunctioning. In reality, they needed to measure the baby to find out the age of the precious baby to pinpoint when he stopped developing.
I was trying hard to hold it together ... afterall ... there had to be some mistake ... and I had Martin with me. It was clear in the 2nd ultrasound that our baby was no longer alive. At this point, I was no longer able to hold it together. I was devastated, and felt very alone. They guided me off to a very nice room that contained comfortable furniture and a phone, so that I could call someone to come and help me. (that's right ... no cell phone!!) I was immediately faced with the reality that I had absolutely no one that I could call. I didn't know anyone here in NC. Rich was in class without a cell phone, so I couldn't even reach him. So, I sat there in that room and just sobbed.
I remember the drive home. I remember trying to see the road through my tears. I remember that Martin had no idea what was going on, but was an absolute angel through it all. I remember walking into the house to the phone ringing. Rich was waiting on me to come pick him up at the seminary. I am not sure why he didn't have the car with him that day. I do, however, remember clearly having to pick him up that day. He knew immediately, by the sound of my voice, that something was terribly wrong. I told him that the baby was gone...and that was about all I could say.
I went to the seminary to pick him up. He and I sat in the front seat and sobbed. Strangely enough...his tears, sobbing, and grief helped me tremendously. Up until that point, I think I saw it as something that was happening to me. How selfish that was, I know! It was happening to us. His tears reminded me of that.
The next week was a whirlwind. My lifelong friend, Jennifer was at my house within less than 48 hours to help me through this dark time. I needed help with Martin over the next few days of doctor appointments. I never asked her to come. She called me to tell me she was coming to help us. I don't know what I would have done without her. My Mom happened to be in Florida on vacation.
I remember some very dark days following the news. For a couple of months, I kept wondering when everything would return to normal. I remember crying out to the Lord many times a day, begging for the pain to go away, asking for mercy, praying that I could be the mommy I needed to be for Martin in the midst of all the pain.
I didn't do a very good job at giving my struggles and pain to the Lord, however. I was far better at holding on to my grief and letting it consume me. I was far better at dwelling on the pain and being angry than I was at allowing God to use it for good.
I'd love to write a post telling of how I was able to see the good in the midst of the bad ... that I was able to see God working through me during those dark days ... and that the joy of the Lord was my strength during that time.
Unfortunately, that was not my reality. And since I long to be genuine and authentic...I have to tell it like it was. I was angry. I was hurting. As much as I was always the one to trust the Lord without question ... I was not a model of a trusting and faithful daughter during that time. I allowed myself to be consumed by my grief.
There were specific events, however, that brought me back down to reality. During that stretch of grief, pain, and darkness I became desperate to replace what I had lost. I didn't realize at the time, however, that another pregnancy was not what I really needed. What I needed was to let go of my despair, grief, and darkness and allow God to heal my brokenness. Once that happened, I was a new person. You'd think that just the knowledge that letting go of your deep struggles and allowing God control would be enough to make you do it immediately! For some reason, my instinct seems to be to hold on to my struggles for dear life.
Once I finally let go of everything, I really began to feel a little bit like Larissa again. Nothing was normal. Normal never returned. New normal did set in and take hold, however. I think that new normal was even better, though. Now, I look at it as walking through God's refining fire. It was a dark time, but I came through it a little more refined. All glory to God for that.

On the due date of our precious child that we lost - April 12, 2004 - I found out that I was expecting Aaron. What joy to be expecting another baby and blessing! My entire pregnancy with Aaron was a test in trusting God and letting go. After losing a baby at 12 weeks, the innocence of pregnancy was lost for me. I was desperately afraid that I would lose another baby. Once again, I was faced with needing to trust God no matter the cost!

Many women have similar stories of loss and struggle. Some women handled it much better than I did. Others may not have. What is your story? The older I get ... the more I believe these stories should be told. It's okay to say ... I really messed up. I knew what I should have done ... and I didn't do it. However ... I learned from my mistakes, and God can use what I learned for His glory. Praise God for that!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Durant Nature Park with friends

Group shot as we began our hike

Sweet Katie!

They had such a fun time hopping across the rocks in the creek.

He never slows down enough to get a good shot!

She wanted to do everything that everyone else was doing. Thank the Lord for my friend, Shannon always willing to lend a hand!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Love our back deck!!!

I love our back deck. I love that the children love our back deck ... and that it's another place they can play that is perfectly safe! Rosalie can even go out there because I have blocked the stairs with a baby gate, so she can't leave the deck! Rosalie LOVES to play out there! I also love it because I send the children out there often with snack ... and that makes for an easy clean up!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rosalie's Room ... with and without furniture

Rosalie's walk-in closet

Rosalie's Room

... with furniture

Toddler bed is all set up and ready for when we move her out of the crib.

Still nothing on the walls yet. We just got window blinds set up in her room a few days ago. We should be getting her curtains up soon.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The School Room/Guest Room

One of the things we love about this house is that the Master Bedroom is downstairs, and there are 3 very large bedrooms and an enormous bonus room upstairs. This is a picture of the school room/guest room before furniture.
And ... after furniture. I have all of the school books and supplies set up in the room. There are two nice closets in this room. One of them is Martin's and one is Aaron's. We are using the bonus room as the Boys' bedroom - and it doesn't have a closet. So, Martin and Aaron use the closets in this room. Rosalie has a huge walk-in closet that she and Jonathan share.
I love having a room to store all of our school supplies and books. I also love having a room that my mom can have all to herself when she comes to visit.
Eventually we'd like to put a queen size futon in this room ... but for now we are using what we already have.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

12 New things - Month 2

My new thing for this month wasn't really something new. I have actually been making meatballs for a long time ... but my new thing for this month was to get really good at it.
I can't say that I have become an expert at it ... but I do think that I have gotten better at it. One thing that we rarely have here at our house is potato chips. It's not something we really include in our diets. However, sometimes when my mom comes to visit, she will bring a bag into the house. So, I took the last of the potato chips, crushed them up, and added them to the meatballs ... and ... (perfectly willing to admit that it may have just been my imagination) I think crushed up potato chips make the meatballs better.
However, I do make meatballs once a week - or almost once a week. I am pretty certain they were not better enough to buy potato chips on a regular basis. (my children might beg to differ)

My family loves meatballs. So, I continue to make them. Maybe one day, I will think they are as awesome as they think they are!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Playing in the sand

Fall Fun

Making a corn angel!

Playing in the corn!

Sliding backwards

Working hard at the duck races

A little too much sun? (love this shot!)

What fun this little girl had!!

Fun on the hayride!

Picture with their pumpkins

Ridin' on the train

A picture ... just to prove I was there!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Living Room - somewhat Before and After

This is only a before and after furniture shot. We don't have anything up on the walls yet and we don't have curtains yet. We are also planning to add another accent chair and a couple of end tables at some point.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Kitchen - Before and After

Kitchen view with no appliances

This is a view with the refrigerator - and right next to it - is my bread making station. I decided not to keep my grain mill out at this house. It is housed in the cabinets underneath the counter.

Here is a view with my range and dishwasher installed. We were able to have a gas line installed, so that we could have a gas range instead of electric. I am thrilled about the gas range!!

I am really enjoying the island. It has room for 2 or 3 stools on one side of the island. We haven't gotten the stools yet, but do plan on it. I'll post a picture of that once we have the stools.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We are Home!

We have spent the last month preparing to move to our new house. I started early, so that I could be as organized as possible and get every last thing in a box. I spent an hour to two hours on it each afternoon. I am so glad that I did that! When the day came for our move, we were thankful to have a great deal of help and we were able to move all of our stuff here to the new house in only 3 hours. We were so grateful to have all that help!! There were several things that I noticed about this move that made it better.
1. I was determined to purge things that I had not even looked at since we moved to NC. No more hanging on to things.
2. I was determined to put everything in a box.
3. This was the 5th move we've made since 2003, and the first time that I haven't had a nursing infant to deal with during the move. That made a huge difference and I was so much more able to get us moved in an organized manner!
4. This is definitely the first move we've made that has resulted in a permanent place. Wow. JUST WOW! It's a great feeling and we are so thankful to be in a place that we have no intention of leaving ... (unless God calls us elsewhere)
It's very quiet out here in the country. It's dark and quiet! We have not gotten blinds up on our windows yet, and Martin has enjoyed falling asleep each night while gazing out his window at all of the stars. It's amazing how bright the night sky is when you are out in the middle of nowhere!
The children have adjusted beautifully to the new house. I have all of the boys in what we call the boy room, and Rosalie has a room to herself. I also have a bed set up in our school room, so my mom has a room all to herself when she comes to visit!
We are slowly replacing all of our furniture. As I (slowly) get each room settled, I will post a before and after picture. Our new living room furniture comes today. So, after almost a week of living in our new house, we'll finally have a place to sit down!
We are really starting over as far as decorating our house. I am even reframing all of our pictures. So, it's going to take a long time to get all of that done. I do want to say a special thanks to all of my friends and readers who have expressed such joy with me in this home-buying journey! I do appreciate all of your prayers and hugs!
I also want to say a special thanks to Amy for taking my children and watching them for me, so that I could pack and get stuff done. My children love you and I do too!
I can't believe we are finally home!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Break out the fall clothes ...

... and they might be hand me downs ... but they are like new to us!!
Big thanks to my sister for all the sweet clothes she handed down to us for Rosalie!