Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dear New Mama of a Special Needs Baby....

First off....congratulations! People don’t often say that at first, do they? When they hear you’ve just had a child who needs lots of extra care, they clam up, stumble on their words and, not knowing what to say, they don’t say anything. So...I’m saying it.... 
Congratulations!!



This baby is a precious little person who will challenge the world to see what it’s made of.....what you are made of....Right now you might feel like it’s jelly that fills your insides, all quaking and weak. 

That’s ok. 


You will see, as your baby starts to fight and fight to do those things that come easily to other babies, like breathing...and eating...
that the fighter in you will start to emerge. 


“How can I give any less than this tiny sprite does with every breath?” 




You will surprise yourself. 

Previously unrecognized reserves well up from a deep river of Grace, running through our lives and only recognized when we figure out just how small and fragile life really is...
We need to be filled by some One other than ourselves, and fill He does. 



“How can I possibly get through this?"
 will be answered by tiny fingers, grasping yours...tiny lashes flickering, reminding of the unbreakable bond that says, “Indeed, this is MY baby...and WE will get through by walking straight down the middle of this road."

Look at your baby....what exquisite handiwork. Put your baby before the label, but do your research as well....it’s a hard balance to strike, and one you will constantly be reassessing. 



Know that feeling intense grief, intense gratitude, and intense rage can all steamroll through in a flash. You won’t be the first mama to walk into a scrapbook store, a baby clothes shop or an infant food aisle and start sobbing when the reality of how your life is so different sweeps over you in tsunami size tides. Ride the waves, Friend. They always move back towards the shore, where you can  anchor yourself to the new reality of your life....and start to be ok. It will be ok. 

 You now have permission to eat as much dark chocolate as you want...and forget things like people’s names you’ve known for years, and your bank card’s PIN number when in line at Costco’s...and scream out loud if one more person sends you “Welcome to Holland” because, let’s get real.....this was never about a trip.


 This is about Sacred Work on Sacred Ground. It’s about epic battles in which you showed up carrying a pretty pink packed bag and came home with a gray suction machine and a baby who’s life depends on you keeping her airway open.  

 It’s about more tears than you ever, ever thought could fall from your cheeks.....but even more about a staggering, humbling amount of Grace that saves us all and props you up to carry on another day. 

It’s fierce and it’s beautiful and it’s called special for a reason.  

This life wears the sharp edges off of selfishness and self centeredness like nothing else. You will be a much better person for being this baby’s mama.


This side of special can be so hard. But Love is bigger than hard. 



 Love your baby.....and know you are not alone. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Yarn Along...Finally!

 Tell me this picture doesn’t just get you....





Oh my goodness....I have finally gotten my pics up of the sweater. I have said before I wasn’t too hip on the yarn I used...totally fuzzed out even before I had finished the project. While the actual pattern wasn’t too bad, the yarn was disappointing. BUT...Lily LOVES this sweater, she wears it all of the time, so I’m not too upset. I really would prefer to knit the button band along with the pattern, instead of picking up the stitches later. I had a hard time with this puckering up, which was probably more my fault in hastily picking up stitches and not so much the pattern. 


You notice what sweater she threw on for the very first day of Spring like weather in the tundra?? Lily is extremely picky about her clothes, tags, etc...so this yarn had to be pretty soft, and in that department, it does not disappoint.  Here are my Ravelry notes. 


As far as reading...I’m making my way through, again, For The Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macauley. This is a MUST READ for homeschooling moms. It was instrumental in shaping my views on education. When I first started out homeschooling nearly 16 years ago, so many of us read these kinds of books and had great discussions face to face. In the age of FB and texting, it seems like something is lost when we don’t read and discuss how and why we homeschool. Susan’s book focuses on the Charlotte Mason approach to education....rich in good literature, no “twaddle” for books, and short lessons. She called it setting out a “feast” for children. 

Go check out more of the Yarn Along friends at Ginny’s place:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring, right??

So, I did a little pretty cut and paste to spruce up the blog, trying to trick myself into believing that Spring really is just around the corner.....but then I picked up my pictures from Costco’s and saw these....




Oh well, I’m sure the next thing will be the big melt, which means the big mud bog......which really I should take advantage of and look for rain boots for both Lily and me. We need some in bright, cheery colors. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Our Story....a Prolife Story

So, I’m going to talk a bit about my family of origin.

Growing up, I never had a large family of cousins, reunions, or get togethers. One reason for that is my mom was adopted and had one sibling from her adoptive family. My father is an only child and both of his parents were out of the picture before I had grown out of toddlerhood. So our’s was not a family of big Christmas’s, or extended, cohesive family. I was curious about my mom’s side, given that we didn’t know anything about her biological family, but as most kids, I just accepted what the reality was and moved on.

My mom did end up finding her biological family after I had started having children of my own. A half sister of her’s actually lived 10 minutes from my house! It was a happy reunion, except my mom found out both of her biological parents had died several years before her finding the family. What struck me, though, in finding out who her parents were, their personalities, and the facts surrounding my mom’s pregnancy and birth, that on the surface, this baby, my mom, looked like what others would call “a mistake” 

 My maternal grandmother was a broken woman as was my grandfather. My grandmother had many children by many different men, including my own mother. She adopted out the majority of her THIRTEEN children, staying in touch only with two or three, who were raised by relatives.

This isn’t the joyful news you see on TV with a biological mom who was ecstatic to see her long lost child. While my mom’s siblings were, for the most part, very welcoming and so sweet to my mom, it was a loss to her that she didn’t meet her mother. It was an additional loss to feel like her mom didn’t give her up in a heroic act of love, but rather as a problem to be given away. 

Many could say, “Well, if only abortion was legal when she was having babies, and she wouldn’t have been burdened by having all of those kids.” Humm.....well where would that have left us? I’m so glad that even in all of her brokenness, her struggles, that she gave birth to my mom. We don’t know what kind of sorrow and pain would make her act in the way that she did, having several children that she never intended to keep. God has made good on bringing amazing stuff out of the rubble. He is faithful, even when life is ugly, scary and unfair. My mom wasn’t an unwanted child...God already had big plans for her and her heritage.



Our life hasn’t been easy either. With medically fragile kids, we have stared down some scary times of our own. But I would do it all over again. When we got the ultrasound of Lily at 18 weeks with her unusually small jaw, we knew that the road would be difficult. The sweet doctor that came into the ultrasound room to tell us the news, (which I could already see on the screen) told us our tiny girl would be in for a tough time. He then asked if he could pray with us. We were at a Catholic hospital. He prayed that God would be give us all of the graces necessary to care for this precious little girl, that we would be brave and take courage, because in the end, it was God supplying all of our strength.


Through lots of tears....I was glad for the chance to carry this little person. In the next few years, after I had Lily, I would have people ask if I “knew” she was going to have issues. There were those who asked out of concern, like, “Wow, did you have any time to prepare yourself?”
There were others who asked with an edge to their voice....

Well, this smile would cut through any edge. Yes, we did know, I tell people, and I make sure they know my kids have never had to prove their genetic worth to us.


So....on this anniversary of Roe V Wade, I thank God for Life. I thank God that my maternal grandmother had her daughter nearly 68 years ago.....that my mom had me over 47 years ago...and that we have had seven babies in our own family. Little Benjamin and Christian stand before the Face of God. I’m sure we will see our beloved babies one day. In the mean time, they are interceding for us!



I’m so glad because of one person’s very broken, imperfect “Yes” we are here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Yarn Along.....

Okay, you know when you see yarn online and everyone is talking about it? And everyone loves, loves, loves it? I bought some of that kind of yarn.....popular girl yarn....and I am not impressed. At all. I seriously could have used a Lion brand wool blend and it would have been better.

I contacted the company and expressed my deep disappointment in this yarn, as I continued to knit my daughter’s sweater. They replied they were sorry, and here is 10% off for my next purchase. Hummm....next purchase? The yarn is very soft but I’m sad it already looks pretty well worn. Hopefully it was just a bad run of that particular colorway or something, because I have heard nothing but good stuff.



So, I am going to finish, and hope maybe with a little heat and blocking that the fuzzy will calm down and this will look much better. The pattern is “Cricket” as I have mentioned previously. Here is the link to my Ravelry page for the cardigan.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/malikestoknit/cricket

The color is nice and I think Lily really likes it thus far....check out her preview with double points sticking out all over. She was careful putting that tiny arm in....

I still need to finish that other sleeve, and pick up a gazillion stitches for the neck and button band. Hopefully by next week it will be finished!



My reading time has been a bit split. I have found I LOVE to read while on the treadmill at the Y. I do get off said treadmill looking a tiny bit inebriated. It makes me somewhat dizzy to walk 30 mins rather quickly, while reading, and then to stop and step down. I feel like I weave over to the next machine grabbing for the wall. On my Kindle, (that little thing is amazing, great Christmas present from my sweet husband), I am reading “The Book Thief.” Wow. It is good, not particularly uplifting, but I like the writing style. I hear there is a movie out, I’ll probably watch it when I get done with the book.

I’m also trying to finish a few other book, one on the spirituality of Flannery O’Connor and I still need to read the rest of “The End of the Present World.”

So much yarn, so many books...so little time.

Go check out Ginny’s Yarn Along!




Monday, January 13, 2014

Organizational Extravaganza

Okay...it sounds really trite to say, “Hey, New Year’s Resolution...I’m gonna get organized!”
Yeah...that usually lasts until January 2nd at 2pm. But...not this year. I really feel called to be a much better steward of our money and time by organizing key areas in our house. That would be....most of the house. The good news is, I have conquered something that has had the upper hand over me for years. I am not a born organizer. I love to be organized, but man, is it work!! When we moved here 6 1/2 years ago, I was ginormously pregnant with this little pipsqueak.



I had her five weeks after we moved in to this house. Most everything was unpacked in three weeks, which meant everything was taken out of boxes rather hastily and not with a lot of thought into best placement.  My main focus was on a certain nursery that I got to decorate for my first girl....not organizing my kitchen. My kitchen has been put on the back burner for years. The thing is, the kitchen is our command post. It is where Things Get Done. It’s been so irritating when most of my supplies are not easily accessible or efficiently organized to maximize my time in the kitchen...and I spend A LOT of time in the kitchen. Why did I wait so long?? Well....I have had a lot going on.

You know you want to see those before photos, right? It is amazing what can hide in cabinets...I felt so guilty as I pulled out so many things that had been stuffed back on very deep pantry shelves. So much was out of date, and many things were thrown away.


It looks like a mug shot, doesn’t it? Guilty....



Hand me the scalpel, this is going to be painful....



And then I found something way more emotionally evocative than oatmeal two years out of date.....


Looks like a cap of some kind....I mulled through my memory rolodex, trying to figure out why I was so emotionally keyed up over this tiny cap. Yes! It was the cap that we had to use in plugging Lily’s trach over three years ago, this was the judge who ruled either yes or no if she could get her trach out. While it was plugging her trach, she had to breathe on her own, through her mouth and nose,  and stay pink and happy as she did it.  I’m saving this memento....it holds a lot of meaning for us. 

There are two parts to my pantry, the food side and the pharmacy side.  We specialize in airways here, so most of this on the left side is the daily regime for asthma and allergies. We had a few baskets that random things were thrown in, and most of the daily meds were in loosely placed in “groups”. So after I got the food side cleaned out, I still had to deal with the medicine side. It took me basically two long afternoons into early evening to get this one space cleaned out. Wow...





So now everyone has their own bin, labeled with their name. Other meds are placed by grouping and labeled. The labels are from the Martha Stewart/Avery line at Staples. I also have our battery and a few flashlights in there as well. The key here is to have bins that are clear and accessible. I have never labeled anything like this in my life. Most labels I have written are, “Last piece of cake belongs to Peter” hastily written on a napkin next to a crumbly piece of cake. This labeling thing is my eureka moment. I want a labeler now....I finally get the addiction. 


Several kitchen trash bags out to the garage later...and I have a labeled, organized pantry and med area. 




I buy some things like rice, flour and sugar in larger bags, which have always been swimming down below under the shelves...but that area gets so dusty and dirty as people walk by from the garage, I wanted to get them off the floor and into the pantry. I found 1/2 gallon Ball Jars at Walmart. They are perfect for storing dried goods. I see you yawn.....”Yeah, Diana, we’ve known 1/2 gallon Ball Jars for years.” I told you this is not something that comes naturally for me!!


I used washi tape and a permanent marker to label everything. No more, “Where is the brown sugar??” I love washi tape, and plan on getting something prettier than what is here, but that is for another day and a trip to Michael’s. 

I know this is getting long, but I have to show you what I did with my spice area. It was like a your worst closet that falls out on you every time you open it....every day....why did I wait so long to do this?? 



This has always been a reach for me to get, since I am a shorty, and it’s up over the appliance garage. 


It ended up being a much bigger project because I had to rearrange a few other cabinets that have needed organized as well. I use my big mixing bowls several times a week, and always had to get the step stool out....but no more falling spices, no more climbing ladders...


I grouped all of the main spices by: baking, spicy/chili, and savory. It is all at my fingertips now, with the mixing bowls right above where I can reach on my tippy toes.



 My eyes have been opened, the onion peels yanked off....organization is a good thing. In my usual impatient way, I’m ready to get the entire house organized like....now....but this is something that will take several months. I’m excited! How about you? Do you have that ONE area that you use all of the time but just haven’t made it work for you? 


Now I feel better prepared to menu plan, which in turn does save us money. With the obscene amount of food I had to throw away that was past due...I am in this to stay organized now. No more waste!! Washi tape and permanent markers are now part of my tools in the kitchen. I’ve started marking leftover containers in the fridge with dates on washi tape. The grand thing about washi tape is that it peels off so easily from containers, who knew?? 

The best part is....I can close the door on my pantry and I don’t have Costco size cumin falling on me whenever I try to get cinnamon. Hurray!! Victory!!


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Yarn Along--Cautionary Tale....

Well folks, this is a cautionary tale called “Knit A Non-Roll Edge To Your Lace Scarf.”

I started knitting this beloved scarf two years ago. This is one of the few things I have knit for myself.  So, the yarn is really nice dk weight-- “Tonal” from KnitPicks. I love this red color, “Gypsy.” Lots of great shades, very subtle, and a dream to knit. I was determined to knit through the entire skein of yarn, and make this scarf long enough to wrap around my neck and everyone else’s neck in the family.

But...the pattern, which was free....did not call for a slip stitch at the beginning of the rows. You who are further along in your knit knowledge know where this tale is heading. No matter how much I have blocked this baby, stretched it, pleaded with it, did dances around it asking it to please play nice and stay flat...it planted its stitches firmly in the roll position and stubbornly stayed there. I cried to my local yarn shop owner, who rocks by the way, and she broke the bad news to me. “This will continue to roll in unless you go back around the sides of the scarf and do some kind of crochet edging.” I think she was a nurse in another life, because Rachel delivered that news rather calmly, looking all sympathetic like we nurses do before we stick something foreign into your chest cavity. Actually she isn’t a nurse, but she could play one on TV.

So....here’s what it looks like done....




And here’s what it looks like wrapped around my head a few times, like a red rubber hose. Dang. Not the lacey goodness I was hoping for. I was doggedly determined to knit through that entire skein, of course, so I have enough left to tie my shoe with and that is IT. I will be ordering a new skein, I suppose, because two years to finish a blasted scarf is too long to let it be all curled up like a red snake in my drawer.


The only reason I smiled is because Peter was distressed by my melancholy over a scarf.

As far as reading, I’ve been reading lots and lots of sites on Pinterest trying to come up with the Thanksgiving recipes...it is tomorrow, guess I should step it up a bit. I have read more of my book from last week’s Yarn Along, “The End of the Present World,” by Fr. Arminjon. I read some out loud to my two boys at home, and had some great conversations afterwards with them.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends! Many blessings on you and don’t you DARE go shopping tomorrow.