God is always working to make His children aware of a dream
that remains alive beneath the rubble of every shattered dream,

a new dream that
when realized will release a new song, sung with tears,

till God wipes them away
and we sing with nothing but joy in our hearts

--Larry Crabb


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dear Baby Riedel,

I am loving feeling all of your little--and not so little--kicks and movements, but would you PLEASE quit using my bladder as a pillow/punching bag. Although I am thankful for the opportunity to rise from the bed/sofa to use the restroom, I am a little afraid of what our water bill will be like and may be becoming slightly frustrated that the spasms that your antics produce result in frequent but ridiculously underestimated volumes. I also fear that you may develop a cone head if you don't move back up a little. Thank you for your cooperation...well, actually lack thereof, in this matter.


Sincerely and with much love,

Your Mother.



Things have been going well. I have now been on strict bed rest for 3 weeks and am only getting up to use the bathroom and take a 5 minute shower. Craig has been absolutely fabulous in making sure I have everything I need. He has even worked on some culinary skills and has made spaghetti, beef and noodles, and is going to attempt lasagna soon. He also made Jesus a chocolate cake with from-scratch white frosting for His birthday....after I dropped a few hints and eventually mentioned that he didn't want to tick Jesus off. Plus, he needs to practice up for making his own birthday cake next month. :) Seriously, it was probably the best chocolate cake that I have ever had. Sooo yummy.


I'm feeling pretty good for the most part. I am craving OJ and citrus fruits, but unfortunately they make painful spots on my tongue. With my inability to tolerate much salt intake it is hard for me to get enough calories at times, but I am now only 2 pounds shy of my pre-pregnancy weight. I never dreamed that I would be trying to gain weight for any reason...it has never been a problem before! Laying around does get pretty uneventful at times, but I am appreciating this season by enjoying feeling baby's movements and knowing that I would still rather be laying on the sofa bored out of my mind than watching our little one trying to get everything it needs via tubes and warmers. It's all good.


It is incredibly humbling to watch Craig do everything it takes to keep us going--without the slightest hint of complaint. He has cleaned the house from top to bottom, done the grocery shopping, done countless loads of laundry and dishes, set up the Christmas tree, made the basement not so scary with boxes and mess leftover from the move, and much more. I have decided that by the time this baby is born, Craig will have decided that either he doesn't really need me or that I am a saint for doing all of this "behind the scenes" stuff that he now realizes doesn't just do its self. As I often tear up in telling him how thankful I am that he is so wonderful, all he says is "you did it all when I was deployed...I can do it for a few months." This is true, but I think that it would have been much different if he was laying on the couch watching me do all of his work like I am doing to him. Very humbling indeed.

I haven't written much lately because I've had a lot of trouble putting my thoughts into words. I'm trying to do better, but must can't seem to make things make sense. It is hard to explain what is going on in this head of mine...there are so many confusing emotions in there and I spend a lot of my time just staring at the wall trying to sort it all out.

Thanks for all of the prayers and warm thoughts for our family. We are so blessed!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Very Random Thoughts


  • Hospital fish is not too bad. Although as a nurse I took a solemn vow that I would never eat it, things changed when I was starved for 27 hours.
  • Broke my promise to not ever use "real" silverware in the hospital made after I more than once saw some disgusting non-food related uses. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Disposable is still preferred, but no longer a requirement.
  • I actually considered smelling Craig's breath when half of my peanut butter cookie turned up missing, but refrained when I remembered that all I have to do is dial a number and another can be delivered. Gotta love room service.
  • Showers are taken for granted entirely too often.
  • Reading online editions of Detroit area newspapers are ridiculous, as evidenced by the following headlines: "Woman accused of stealing Christmas toys for Children from K-Mart" and "36 year old mad accused of strangling mother's cat; attacking officers in standoff."
  • There is nothing like meds with nasty side effects, having to use alternative toileting methods, and not being allowed to eat to set priorities straight.
  • Chocolate chip cookies are really really good, but have nothing on the Peanut Butter ones. Of course I am only indulging in them because my baby likes them. :)
  • Whipped Cream makes me want to gag and Craig has consumed entirely too much of it.
  • Disposable shavers should be illegal. Ouch!
  • Some nurses are better at their jobs than others. I've been very fortunate most of the time.
  • When asking a generally non-shopping oriented husband to pick up a few things, be very specific and don't expect things to be as described to you.
  • Attention nurses/ultrasound people: Please use caution as not to allow ultrasound gel to get in my belly button. I don't know why this bothers me, but it does. Alot.
  • Baby Riedel may have some attention span issues. Or maybe not like ultrasounds. Or maybe both.
  • If you wake someone at 0600 from zombie land and ask them if they have felt fetal movement, the honest answer will probably be no. Um, I don't generally feel the baby in my sleep, which you have now interrupted. Do you know that I am not a morning person??? 6 am doesn't work for me so please try back after 10.
  • If you wake me earlier than necessary, I will find a way to get you back. When I got up at 0555 to use the bathroom, I nearly caused the resident who was sneaking in my room to wake me up wet her pants. Ha ha!
  • If you lose one's toiletries bag containing my deodorant, you can expect one to get progressively smellier as the day/week goes on. Don't blame me, you told me to leave all of my stuff in the other room and you would bring it. Now it is most likely in Ohio. (no kidding, that is what we were told!)
  • I have quite a few people in my life that are simply wonderful.
  • Craig makes me laugh. After an ultrasound I was thinking about how blessed we are when I asked him what he was thinking. His response? "They used all of the wrong combinations of metal in that wheelchair...it is going to corrode in no time. Should have at least coated it in Cadmium instead of Zinc." I love him. And then made him wash his hands after touching the actual wheel part. I know what hospital wheelchairs drive through sometimes.
  • A pitcher of ice water accidentally spilled in one's bed travels really fast.
  • I understand that hot showers are out right now, but I was hoping for something beyond frigid.
  • Hospital pillows could easily be confused with a paper towel in a pillowcase. Thin, small, and crunchy sounding.
  • Pretty sure that the nurse is not sneaking in and putting the toilet seat up, as Craig claims.
  • I'm going to miss the plastic grocery bag that has been dancing in the wind on the roof outside my window. It has sadly been entertaining.
  • Curling and styling my hair does wonders for my spirits.
  • There's no place like home, but we CAN live in a 10x10 room if necessary.
  • Cable is frustrating when there is no TV guide.
  • Somehow, I've lost 2 pounds this week and Craig has gained 3.
  • Every morning I thank God that baby stayed in its current "playpen" for another night, and every night I thank God that we've carried another day. Today I'm thanking Him for a whole extra week...

Challenged

I have been challenged. We have found a nice church that fits us. The messages are down-to-earth and thought provoking. They make me want to be a better person...a better wife, daughter, mother (agh...that seems kind of scary...), and friend. The music draws me in and is refreshing. The people are friendly and there is a lot of common ground. BUT, there is one thing that I disagree with, and it happens to be a major sticking point. Baptism. Specifically infant baptism. It has compelled me to do a complete inventory of my beliefs. To know that I believe in infant baptism because that is the way I was raised and it is in my comfort zone is not enough for me. I am an analyzer and want to know WHY I believe what I believe, and what the Bible has to say about it. So, in my downtime this week, I have executed an exhaustive nternet search explaining different reasons on why or why not to baptize an infant. I can respect other people's viewpoint, and I certainly don't expect any church or organization to cater to any one person's thoughts if that is what they, as a body of believers, do not embrace as Biblically sound. However, I feel strongly convicted that God allows the types of thoughts that I have been having to either guide one in a different direction or to cause them to explore His word more thoroughly...or maybe both.

In my quest to find answers, I came across an article supported by David Feddes and the Back to God Hour that most closely aligns with my core beliefs. If you are interested in reading it, click here. I think it is fascinating and relates to all views.

The question remains, though, where do we go from here? Do we continue to attend a church that would not only decline to baptize our child, but require Craig and I to be re-baptized by immersion to qualify for membership? Is it right to attend long-term without becoming members? Do we continue to look elsewhere when we've already visited so many churches and haven't found a good fit? Is it time to expand our criteria to include churches that are over an hour away from our home? Oh my....so much to consider.

One thing that I am certain of is that we will not go with the re-baptism option. Craig and I were both baptized as infants and not only (to me) does that act serve as a seal of belongingness but a part of family heritage. These are the kinds of questions that I think my dad would have had....only he would have had an answer for me. I wish so much that we could sit down and have a talk.

I welcome any respectful feedback or discussion on this, and you can expect the same from me if you are interested in dialoging.

Thanks for checking in!
~M

P.S. Everything is going great here. No new news to report. Ultrasound on Monday and likely discharge on Tuesday. :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The day

Disclaimer: We are not intending to find out the gender of our baby. There has to be at least some unknown in all of this. For simplicity sake, and perhaps more honestly to salvage any hope of my sanity, I am not really paying attention to whether I type "his" or "her" or "it." Please don't assume I've made some big reveal inadvertently.

I have been promising many that I would be blogging, but sit down at my computer and find no words. Right now, the world still seems pretty quiet. I hear the gentle hum of my compression stockings and what I consider to be the greatest sound on earth right now...a tiny heartbeat. We're in the process of doing our twice-a-day contraction monitoring and heartbeat tracings. It makes me smile and even shake my head at times. I am not sure what we have got ourselves into. Baby lays still for just a bit, then just as I begin to get mesmerized by the sound of his heart, he brushes up against the monitor making a static noise or kicks it with a big loud thud. I even tried recording a portion of it on my computer to post here, but then he moved all together and the nurse had to come in to reposition the probe. Besides that, I couldn't figure out a way to do audio without video and I, although still strikingly beautiful, have not showered for 4 days now and have managed to lose all hair accessories but one pony tail holder that is not doing one bit of good around my wrist. To top it off, the hospital lost my toiletries bag so I have zero makeup. I don't really care how I look, but I feel significantly less than human when I have put no effort into my appearance. Hopefully soon I'll make it through some running water. With time continuing to pass I am becoming more and more convinced that we're in the right place doing the right things. As long as these near constant wiggles from within continue and the contraction monitor shows a flat line we are good.

The doctor said today that he ordered another ultrasound for Monday afternoon. As long as everything looks good with that, he will let me go home on Tuesday. Naturally part of me wants to be home now, but I know that this is the safest place for us right now. It is not too bad, really. My bed is fairly comfortable and the cable programming is decent. My only problem in the moment is that the remote for the cable is under my bed and I can't reach it. Craig stepped out for a little bit to get some fresh air, run to the library for me, and get his computer fixed so he can connect again to a secure gov't website for work. (not that he has to work, but it does give him something to do). Of course, my nurse call button is also on the remote.

In a nutshell, here is what led us to being here. I woke up in a foul mood Monday. I had slept poorly and just felt like a crab. I had two doctors appointments scheduled, with my routine bi-weekly ultrasound between. Craig drove me to the first one because the roads were horrible. Like I said, I was super grumpy and at one point actually told him (in completely unprovoked hysterics, I might add) that I wanted him to pull into the Hobby Lobby parking lot that was coming up because he was annoying me and I wanted to leave him there. (I'll have to go into more detail about why my Craig is so wonderful later...) The first appointment went great. After a quick exam I was cleared to travel back to Iowa and Nebraska for Christmas and was planning to be gone about 2 weeks. Then the ultrasound. The u/s tech and I are usually pretty chatty, and that is how things started off, except for I was a little quieter than normal because in my foul mood--I had very few good things to say so not saying much was my best option.. She put the probe on my belly and SHE stopped talking, too. Matter of fact the only thing that she asked was if I was seeing the doctor after my appointment with her and "good" when I said yes.

The doctor told me that there were some big changes on the ultrasound and wanted to do an exam herself....the same changes that caused us to lose Christoper 9 months ago. She found that I was dilated, which at this stage of pregnancy is not normal. I was having contractions, but did not know it. My doctor had placed a stitch several weeks ago that was still intact and giving us some safeguard. Within minutes I was on my way home to meet Craig so that we could get to the hospital. Once on the monitor there we were assured that everything was good with the baby, but I was still contracting quite a bit. We were admitted to Labor and Delivery. The title in its self was admittedly scary, not to mention the reminders of the events surrounding our Christopher's birth that were reminiscing in my mind as we settled in.

Let me just say at this point that which you probably already know. I would do ANYTHING at all to protect this baby, and whatever I have to do to make sure that it arrives into the world save and healthy is what will be done without hesitation. With that being said, Monday night I was started on some IV medication to stop the contractions. Within minutes I felt like I had been dipped in a vat of icy hot (minus the smell). My skin was cool to the touch but felt like I had been sitting in the sun for hours...hot and prickly. My sinuses stuffed up and I couldn't breathe through my nose at all. My mouth dried out. I was nauseous and started vomiting. The worst part of all, though, was the vision changes. I developed double vision out of EACH eye. If both eyes were open, all I could see was a scrambled mess. BUT, if I just laid still and closed my eyes I could hone in on nothing but the sound of baby's heartbeat, feel its kicks know moment by moment, then hour by hour, that it would all be ok. It has been. Now we're in day by day mode.

We am convinced that we would be in the hospital either way tonight. There are no words strong enough to express how grateful I am to be here laying in bed with baby tucked safely inside where its needs are all met than having limited time with him/her while it was in the care of NICU staff. We are blessed.

I can't necessarily explain the peace that I feel. I believe that that is the result of all of the prayers that are being lifted up for us. For that, my friends, I thank you so very much.

There is not much of a plan from here. We will continue to have monitoring done twice per day and more if there is any evidence of changes. On Monday we will have another ultrasound, and on Tuesday the docs will decide whether or not I can go home. If I am discharged I will have to return for check ups a couple times per week. Anything is fine with me as long as this baby stays in its current playpen.

Need to go for now...It has taken me ALL day to write this...a result of a brain that can't make a sentence like it used to. Will try to update soon...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas

The flurries of gigantic snowflakes in the air are yet another sign that Christmas is coming. A Christmas that I am not at all prepared for. I have 4 gifts stashed in a not-so-difficult-to-find hiding place, none of them wrapped. I have an idea of what to get people, but lack the motivation to go to the store to pick them up. Top it off with the advice of my doctor who says "NO SHOPPING...not even groceries" (He fears I will be on my feet too long or lift things that are too heavy) and my Christmas is forced to be viewed from a different perspective this year.

It's been good, and is just the tip of the iceberg of what I would do to bring this baby into the world safe and healthy. At first I was a little frustrated with not being able to do all of the things I wanted to do, but not anymore. I have found contentedness in quiet moments, for those are the moments that I can truly allow God to speak to my soul, and allow the importance of so many things in life to fall into place.

I have thought about the true meaning of the seasons on many a Christmas in the past, but none have affected me as profoundly as this one. Perhaps it is because I just finished Francine River's Legacy of Grace series and it has shed new light on what Mary and Joseph may have gone through on their journey to Bethlehem. Maybe it is because this is the second Christmas without Kim or my dad, which is touching on a whole new feeling of finality about their deaths. It could be because, in the back of my mind, there are those remembrances of last Christmas when we believed that this year would be the year that we would get to hold our long awaited baby in our arms. Or the thought that the baby that is now growing under my heart offers much hope of that dream for next year. Most likely, though, it is a culmination of all of these emotions. Emotions that I have had the bittersweet pleasure of exploring while living the "non-strenuous" life.

This year has exposed facets of life that I never knew existed. Grief that brings pain beyond which I think I can bear at times. Joy that far exceeds anything that I have ever celebrated. Peace beyond any blissful thought that has ever crossed my mind. Despair deeper than any agony that I have ever known. And hope. Hope far exceeding what I ever conceived possible.

About year ago I had just learned that I was pregnant with Christopher. If you would have told me then that his little life would end before he got a chance to breathe his first breath I could have never fathomed how I could possibly deal with such devastation. Sometimes, I still cannot. Acceptance has come through living it and believing with everything in me that the Jesus has had His hand upon us through it all (although I admit that at times I had to force myself to believe it). This mindset has brought an incredible sense of peace. Peace that allows me to recollect on the day Christopher was born with a sigh of contentment. Peace that affords me to recall first and foremost the joy that such a tiny little boy brought into our lives. The pain of our loss is very real, but there is peace that provides a refuge from it.

It seems so simple to me that a baby born so long ago in a stable on Christmas day continues to bring all I need today. Sometimes TOO simple for my mind to understand. My brain seems to constantly try to make it more complex as I look for "strings attached" to this gift, but none can be found. A gift that is given selflessly and abundantly. A gift that is consistently what I need and crave more of. A perfect gift from the heart...of God. And that is what I believe Christmas is all about. The gift of Jesus...the REAL meaning of Christmas.

So, maybe I'm more prepared than I thought...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why I am Thankful.

I am Thankful because:

  • There is a living, kicking, healthy baby being knit together under my heart.
  • My wonderful best friend and husband goes to work every day and then comes home to help me (or do for me) all the things that I shouldn't or can't do right now without complaint.
  • Our home is filled with love and often with laughter.
  • Francine Rivers is an incredible writer and has drawn me in not just to her novels, but to the living word of God. Her written words have compelled me to learn so much.
  • I don't have to worry where my next meal will come from.
  • I live in a country where men and women care enough to serve in the military to protect our freedoms.
  • I am able to take this season of my life to enjoy this pregnancy and do all I can do to ensure our baby's safety.
  • I have been given true and sincere frienships. Friends that have been there to celebrate joys and mourn losses and honor God through both. (sometimes all even in the same day!)
  • Grace. Pure and simple.
  • Thanksgiving is coming to us. Craig's parents will be here in less than a week and the grocery store is providing the prepared meal. Sa-Weet!
  • We finally found a local Mexican restaurant that compares to Los Agaves.
  • Our sweet Christopher Job brought refreshed purpose and meaning to our lives in the short time he was with us.
  • Most stores offer gift cards, which make Christmas gifts possible this year.
  • Our home is warm on these cool fall nights.
  • A new friend has come into my life and given me fresh perspective on so many things I thought I was alone in dealing with.
  • Our car didn't sustain too much damage when I accidently shut it in the garage door, and Craig didn't get mad when I fessed up about it. Note to self: Use parking break on the manual shift. Oops!
  • Craig's job (and my lack thereof) allow us to travel home for Christmas without having to hurry back to go to work.
  • My Maddie girl is doing great and loving her first year of Jr High...the turkey pulled straight A's! (Um? Can someone tell me how it is possible that she is in Jr. High?)
  • There is peace in my soul. Sometimes I have to wade through insecurities and questions to get to it, but it is always there.

This is just the start. Why are YOU thankful?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This Day


This is the day that:

A co-worker of Craig's is being laid to rest and, although I didn't know him personally, I know that his family and young children loved him very much and their hearts are breaking. I'm remembering the day that we had to say goodbye to my dad and how very hard that was.


A good friend is celebrating the fact that she is pregnant but also in fear that she may have to face loss once again. I'm remembering the day that we learned I am pregnant again excited yet so filled with anxiety about whether or not we'll get to bring our baby home this time.


Another good friend is mourning the loss of her precious son and wondering what the future holds. I'm remembering the days of holding our little still Christopher and wondering where we go from there.

And this is the day that the Lord has made. I'm remembering how great it is to be filled with peace that the Lord has sent my way.

Life is so hard sometimes and many things happen that our minds just cant understand, but there is One who does hold all of our concerns in his scarred hands and will heal our hurts, calm our anxieties, and give us hope and a future...another good friend of mine.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Books

These are titles of books that I have contemplating writing in my plethera of downtime. Vote on your favorite under "comments." Anyone have any other ideas?

Babies and Bladders; a study of the antogistic relationship.

Pillows. How many is too many?

Memoirs of a Once Half Decent Belly Button.

Red, Yellow, Orange, and Green; the order of natural selection for Sour Patch Kids

Yes, Dear, I Love You; What every husband of an expectant mother should know to say.

Sciatica; What a pain!

I Roll My Eyes Because I Love You; a husband's guide to understanding the body language of his pregnant wife.

Pants? Seriously? Is it really necessary to wear them to the doctor's office? What's the point?

Toothpaste: A Mama-To-Be's Worst Enemy.

My Hair! Why Does It Feel Like Straw?

Classical Music and Sugar. How to give your baby the wiggles.

Aisle 9, Lingerie and Maternity. A guide to finding maternity clothes in department stores. (Seriously, why are these two grouped together? I mean, yes, there is a potential cause and effect relationship, but....really?!?!)

Ultrasounds. A once every 2 week experience where a mom gets overly excited to see how uncooperative baby can be.

Short Term Memory. And how to deal with its absence.

Hormones. Mine are in check, what's wrong with yours?

The Pants With the Secret Panel. A woman's vow to never wear them...until she realized just how comfortable they are.

From Cool to Cow. A journey through pregnancy.

Master Bathrooms; Why they were REALLY invented.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Silverware at Six

I woke up around 0600 unable to breathe through my nose and thinking about silverware. Not just any silverware, but my mom's silverware. It wasn't so much the utensils themselves as the way in which they were acquired.

It was shortly before Christmas 2008. I was in E-Ville babysitting my 4 year old niece for the day when Dad called. He knew that I had to go to Des Moines later in the day to pick up Maddie and wondered if I wanted to go early. He needed to get new glasses and get a gift for Mom. 45 minutes later I had Anna packed in the car with enough activities to keep her busy for a while and met Dad in the Wal-Mart parking lot. We took back roads all the way to Des Moines while he pointed out the borders of what used to be my grandpa's farmland and who lived where. We made small talk as he navigated me through small towns eventually leading to the vision center. Anna had fallen asleep in the car, so I waited in the car with her while Dad went on in to start the eye exam.

A few minutes later Anna woke up and we joined Dad in the store. The exam was complete and he was looking for frames. Any of you who know my dad know that he didn't necessarily just try on frames that he was perhaps interested in purchasing, but anything that would generate a laugh or make him look ridiculous. At on point, he had put his hat on crooked, removed his partial plate from his mouth, placed them in his shirt pocket, and applied some bulky black glasses. He thought it would be so fun to take those home and tell mom that this was his "new look." I just so happened to have my phone camera handy. Dad happily obliged to have his picture taken to memorialize his moment of coolness.
After selecting more appropriate frames, we headed back to the car where it was discovered that I had left my lights on. The battery was flat. Dad laughed, which he often did at the small mishaps of life. He found someone to give us a jump and we were on our way to the mall for lunch and a little shopping. The silverware caught Dad's eye and he selected a set he liked for Mom for Christmas. We took Anna to Build-A-Bear, picked up Maddie and headed for home.

Oh what I wouldn't do for another day like that with my dad. A day to just talk about whatever came to mind and spend time together. Little did I know that that would be the last time we would take to have a spontaneous outing. More or less that our last Christmas together was just around the corner. In those days it seemed like we still had forever. The thought of him not being around for a long time yet had never even crossed my mind.

As the holidays approach again this year I challenge myself to make moments count. Moments that may seem insignificant at the time--something as simple as silverware shopping--may all be reduced to memories all too soon when those we love are no longer with us. It's one of the many things I have learned through this painful journey of loss. Sometimes I wonder how long missing him will hurt. Maybe forever. It is what I do with this still hurting still longing heart that makes the difference between honoring him and bearing a burden, and I only hope that I can continue to find ways that it can be a vessel of change to form a more appreciative, more attentive, more loving me.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Which way?

I told a friend the other day that I think someone may have opened my skull, removed my brain, and dumped a can of chicken soup in its place. Craig has stopped me mid sentence a few times to tell me that I had already told him something that I thought I was telling him for the first time. I cannot begin to accompany Craig to the grocery store without a list, and I have forgotten for days on end to return a phone call. I think what I miss most, though, is my sense of direction.
I don't leave the house alone too much except to go to doctor appointments. Three times lately I have gotten lost. Add this to the fact that I have been to each of these offices several times and it becomes embarrassing. A few weeks ago I was on my way home from seeing my MFS doctor (Maternal Fetal Specialist). There are exactly 5 turns involved in this trip. I was pretty confident that I could get home without the GPS (Bonnie), so she stayed off. After driving a reasonable distance I realized that none of my surroundings looked familiar. Hmmm. I drove on a little farther until there was a familiar road sign. Gratiot Road. What?!?! I had traveled a good 5 miles past where a turn needed to be made. Lucky for me, Bonnie warmed up quickly and got me home, though a little confused.
Fast forward one month to last Monday. Another appointment at MFS. Craig had taken my car that day, therefore, no GPS. That's ok, I could do this! I made it there with absolutely no problem. On the way home, I decided to stop at Sam's Club for a pretzel. Not a problem, it was right along the way. I got my snack and was back on the road when it started raining. Determined not to miss my turn, I paid close attention to the street signs...for a little while. Again, things weren't looking familiar. Neither were the street names, but then again some of them have more than one name. When I got to an area where there were many people loitering on the street and most of the houses were sporting boarded up windows, I decided to break down and call Craig. Sure I could probably retrace my steps to Sam's, but I really had no idea how I got here, so also couldn't be sure that I was still on the same road.

"Um, Craig, I need your help. I'm lost."

"Again??? (giggle giggle) "Where are you?"

It always cracks me up when he asks that. If I KNEW, I wouldn't be LOST! "Intersection of John R and 8 Mile."

"WHAT?!? Why are you there. You need to get out of there."

Um, I was trying. Thus the phone call to him. "How?"

Directions ensued that were so complicated I had to write them down on my pretzel wrapper. Nearly an hour later I pulled into the driveway, haven driven an extra thirty miles. Oops. Yes, next time I would be sure to take Bonnie. That night on the news it was reported that some trouble had brewed during the day on John R and 7 Mile....just 1 mile from where I stopped to call Craig.

Today I went to see my regular doctor. I knew I was in trouble when I got lost and had to do 3 U-turns to get out of our subdivision. I know very well how to get there, but road construction and traffic congestion led me astray. Once again I found myself on unfamiliar roads, but I recovered and found my way. Woe is me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Round 2: Neighbor meeting

Today as I made my pilgrimage to the mailbox again our neighbor's wife (who, coincidently, is also our neighbor) was out in the driveway. I politely waved and retrieved my mail. As we made our way to the "meeting tree" that joins our properties I once again realized that I looked like a mess. This time I was wearing the only OTHER pair of pants that I vowed would never leave the house...black capris showing off my ridiculously long leg hair (seriously, who shaves their legs during pants season when they don't have a doctor's appointment and their husband is out of town?), an old newly-too-small T-shirt, fuzzy socks, and slippers. Luckily the wind was blowing like mad so it may be ok that my hair looked like I just got off of a roller coaster, and not a drop of make up. Do you know how many days I have gotten dressed up and done my hair and makeup before going to the mailbox after the last incident? Nearly EVERY DAY since. After all, it usually is my big outing for the day! Go figure.

Anyway, I have found that our neighbors are VERY nice (and not at all openly judgemental!). She even chased my mail all over our lawns when I accidentally forgot that I was holding it. It is not easy being me!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Favs

These are a few of my favorite things (in random order):
  • Sour Patch Kids. My new candy of choice. So yummy.
  • Chips and Salsa.
  • Soup, Salad, and Bead sticks. Many days it is Olive Garden or bust.
  • Our new sofa. Incredibly comfortable.
  • Stealing Craig's pillow after he leaves for work in the morning.
  • Francine Rivers' books. Currently on #3 this week.
  • Our whirlpool tub. Soooo relaxing.
  • My husband. He is wonderful in case you didn't know. In case you do know, I'll say it again. Wonderful I am telling you.
  • Jet Dry liquid drying agent. Our dishes never looked so clean...and I've put some pretty nasty stuff in the dishwasher.
  • Farkle on facebook. It's not been a good farkling week, but it's all good.
  • Elastic waistbands. See ya in April, zippers!
  • Bella Bands.
  • Good family memories.
  • Fall weather.
  • Gravy. Disgusting but delicious.
  • Hearing baby's heartbeat. It is the most beautiful sound on earth right now.
  • Pickled Beets.
  • Texting.
  • Whole wheat toast with butter and strawberry jam.
  • Journaling.
  • Sunday afternoon naps. Today got a little out of control, but it felt good!
  • Blooming plants. My houseplants must love their new home.
  • Tim Horton's "Timbits." This is reserved as a Saturday-only morning treat.
  • Craig's job. I love it when he comes home smiling because he's had a great day.
  • My new iron. I protested the need at first, but really don't mind using it now because it works so well.
  • Friends and family that have kept me sane during this transition.
  • Green Bean Casserole. (hamburger, green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and tater tots...true comfort food and delicious!)
  • The toaster oven. I use it for nearly every meal.
  • Natural light. Our old house didn't have much of it and this one does. Makes me smile.
  • Feeling baby when it has the wiggles.
  • God's gifts of Grace and peace.
  • Family Reunions.
  • Pictures.
  • My Maddie girl. Miss her so much!
  • Nights out with my love. Especially when a good movie is involved.
  • KFC coleslaw.
  • Tenderloins
  • Down comforters
  • Our home
  • Big Macs. However, I NEVER eat a whole one in one setting. I do have limits.
  • Stretchy cotton pants. I've never liked them before but with this ever growing belly, I am loving them now!
  • Doctor appointments. I get to get out of the house AND get reassured that everything is going well.
  • Carrots with ranch dip.
  • Main floor laundry.

I realize that a lot of my love list includes food. That is because I am in this awkward stage of food cravings and aversions. It is getting a little better, but I still struggle to get enough calories. I spend an unhealthy amount of time trying to come up with things that are palatable yet good for baby and I. This whole losing instead of gaining weight thing is a whole new concept for me. Pretty sure that that will all change soon though.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Beyond Donuts

Tomorrow we're going to church #7 on our church shopping list that really isn't a list at all, but more of a collective remembrance of churches we've driven by and want to visit. This has by far been the most difficult part of our move. It is SO hard to find a church. Sometimes I feel like we have not even come close to finding what we're looking for. Other times I feel like maybe I'm just over analyzing.

We've been to several places that have things we like about them. The donut church was pretty awesome with having had a donut break right before the message. Beyond the donuts, though, I just wasn't feeling it. I was a little bothered by the way the pastor rephrased the scriptures instead of just reading them as they are. Then there was the repetitive church. The worship songs were meaningful, but singing the chorus over and over and over again distracts me and makes me wonder "does this song ever have an ending?" My legs were getting so tired from standing for 45 minutes of straight worship. Don't get me wrong...I'm all for worship, but not when it feels forced and becomes so long that I am physically exhausted. Finally there was the "Welcome to X Church, we have a job for you" church. As we walked in and found seats all eyes were on us. The message was good, but within 2 minutes of the service ending Craig was asked to help move tables. The reason? The congregation had miraculously and instantaneously changed into work out shorts and were preparing for an exercise class that started in precisely 10 minutes. That was just plain strange. As we made our way to the car (the only "foreign" car in any lot around here, mind you) we just looked at each other and shook our heads, wondering what had just happened.

Along the way, though, we have collected some nice gifts. A couple of coffee mugs, some hot chocolate, biscotti, animal crackers, fruit snacks, devotionals. There are upsides.

Still, it is hard to feel settled without having a church home. A place where you can find common ground with people and form relationships. I am so yearning for that right now. Yearning for that "ahhh, I'm at home..." feeling. My time out of the house is so limited and I just need to connect and make it count.

In time, in time, in time I keep telling myself. We can really only go to one service per week, so obviously it is going to take a while to visit all the ones on "the list." (which doesn't seem to have an end, by the way!) There are two so far that we want to go back to for second visits...and 2 more on the the list. Hopefully soon we'll find "the one" that will quench my thirsty soul and become a home. Maybe tomorrow will be the day, but regardless, it will be good to go to worship.

OK, so here is a small update. Instead of checking out another different church today, we re-visited one that was on our "possible" list. It was refreshing, and even though the message went long, we both felt fed afterwards. And they had cookies today. BONUS!! We may just go back there, but need to re-visit one other to see if it makes the yea or nay list. Thank you, God, for filling us with what we needed that today and giving us some things to think about this week!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Only at the Fair

You know you may be pregnant at the fair when:
  • You pass by booth after booth of fried food on a stick and the only thing that sounds remotely tempting is a Sprite.
  • You cry when the Cowgirl Queen is crowned and does her final salute. Who cries (besides me) when someone rides a horse?
  • You can much easier spend an afternoon in an air conditioned camper playing solitaire and watching a movie than scouring the fairgrounds for free stuff. It's FREE for crying out loud!
  • Your feet feel like they're boiling from the inside out.
  • The only events that sound tempting are held in the air conditioned buildings.
  • A corndog, which has been a fair must have for the last 30 years, sounds repulsive. That is probably good, though, because you're not really supposed to have hot dogs when you're expecting according to the literature.
  • The only food items that consistently sound blissful are ramen noodles and cantaloupe.
  • You hurl yourself from booth to booth looking only for paper fans. Free, of course.
  • You cry when the big bull is weighed in.
  • Skin moisture changes make it virtually impossible to scrub off your tattoo passes from the last 3 days of the fair. I am sporting a hot dog, state of Iowa outline, and a blue ribbon as I type.
  • When going from place to place you carefully refer to the maps of bathrooms everywhere in between.
  • You take a 1/2 hour nap for every 2 hours spent walking.
  • You barely refrain from completely going bezerk on the guy who tells you good morning and that his neighbors lost their house in a flood when you're walking to the shower house.
  • He didn't know that I don't like morning conversations.
  • Public tooth brushing is an embarrassment. Toothpaste induces gagging which induces puking.
  • Someone eating a turkey drumstick makes you nauseous when it used to make you hungry.
  • You simply cannot breathe through your nose when wandering through a barn where any animal could be taking up temporary residence.
  • You have invented solitaire version of every game you can find in the camper.

Now here it is nearly 3 months later and I would LOVE some fair food. Funnel cake, cheese curds, gizmo, tater ribbons, but especially a turkey drumstick. Sadly, all that my refrigerator has to offer is some vegetable beef stew or leftover lasagna. Once again I find myself wanting what I don't have...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ghetto Chicken

Food consumes a lot of my thoughts. It used to be "how can I avoid chocolate today?" and things along those lines, but now it is all about "How can I get enough calories today when absolutely nothing in the world sounds good?" I have lost weight again with this pregnancy. So far, I have only gained one pound of it back. The only thing that sounds consistently good is Olive Garden's Soup, Salad, and Breadsticks. The last time we went I ate the entire bowl of lettuce myself...it was that good.
Yesterday I got a hankering for KFC. We happened to be out for a drive when we spied one along the road and I asked Craig to stop. I won't identify our exact location, but I will say that I would never go there alone or at night. We pulled into the drive through lane and waited for our order to be taken. There was never a response and there was a car behind us. "Maybe the speaker is broken," Craig mumbled under his breath after a few minutes of waiting. We pulled on ahead to the window where we could see only one lady working. At this point we opted to park the car and go inside.
On our way in we happened to notice a SUV that was parked next to us. There were 3 kids staring at us from the cabin and a lady standing in the back with the hatch open. She was sorting through oodles and oodles of canvas bags that filled the rear hatch. Two KFC employees were next to her and watching intently. At first I thought that maybe she had ordered a whole boatload of Chicken and the KFC people were helping her to her car, but quickly realized that she was peddling perfumes and lotions. It was shady to say the least, but that would not stand between me and my extra crispy chicken drumstick kid's meal.
The restaurant was among the strangest I have ever seen. This was no open concept double-decker KFC like the ones in Hayes, Kansas. This was more like a bank. There was a 3/4" pane of glass between the cashier, chicken, and us. We placed our order through the microphone and slid our payment through the slot on the counter as the people before us received their food through the double doored contraption at the end of the glass panel. I took a few minutes to look around. The place was clean and the floor freshly mopped, but there wasn't a thing in there that wasn't bolted down. No ketchup packets, no napkins, no nothing. It was like Fort Knox. That was the most protected fried chicken I have ever seen. No one, and I mean NO ONE was getting near it without official KFC credentials.
By the time we got our food we were more than ready to be gone from there. The service was friendly enough, but the atmosphere looked like it could have doubled as a booking station in the evenings. (Not that I know from personal experience, for the record.) On our way back to the car we were met by one of the employees with her arms full of perfumes in fancy bottles.
The 15+ mile drive back home was filled with conversation of all we had just seen. The kids meal was good and tasted very fresh, but I doubt we'll be eating at fort Knox Fried Chicken again any time soon. It is amazing what a different life some people live either by choice or necessity. We are so blessed.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Letter

Dear Family and Friends, October, 2010

Since the holidays get so crazy and our letters never seem to make it out until late (if at all), I thought I’d take the time now to update you all on a few of the happenings in our life.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” Matthew 5:4
The turn of the calendar into 2010 brought a time of reflection on 2009. It was a tough year. Twice we found ourselves mourning the loss of loved ones. Even through the fog of sadness we feel so blessed. We may not have been given the many years we would have liked to have with Kim and my dad, but we were given some wonderful memories, a steadfast godly heritage, and a challenge to carry on their legacies in a way that would bring honor to their memories and to God.

“I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
We carried into 2010 two truths that we knew would change our lives. First was that sometime over the summer Craig’s job would be moving to eastern Michigan, and second was that we were expecting a baby around the same time as his new job would be starting. The thought of a move was somewhat welcome. I had been beginning to feel quite unsettled in my job--the stress of my work had begun to take its toll. I was ready for a change, but unsure what approach to take. Craig was stoked about the excitement of entering a new phase in his career. The idea of becoming parents was exciting and an answer to prayer. We couldn’t wait. We did our best to allow our doubts and insecurities over the changes to be turned to trust and faith that God would work out all the details. He did…but not at all by our plans. We were reminded that God tends to do things His own way and in His own time.

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21
In March Craig was attending a training session in Alabama when I spontaneously went into labor at 17 weeks. Craig immediately planned for the next flight home, but wouldn’t be able to get there until noon the following day. What took place over the next 24 hours changed everything. We learned that, although the labor had stopped and I had not yet delivered, there was little chance that the baby would survive. We were praying like we had never prayed before. Late in the evening the heartbeat remained strong and I felt a strong movement. It would be the last. After Craig arrived home the next day, March 10th our son, Christopher Job, was born silent and still.

“Some people only dream of angels. We held one in our arms” --Unknown
Our dreams were shattered and hearts were broken, but yet we were filled with peace. The way things had all played out was profoundly sad but nothing short of beautiful. The hospital and our pastors helped us to deal with this difficult blow and inspired us to embrace our son’s life and come to terms with his death in a way that left no regrets. We will never forget those precious moments with our firstborn and reflect on them often. Holding someone so tiny, perfect, beautiful, and peaceful created a feeling of deep joy that would carry us through the valley of the shadow of death once again.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecc 3:1
With all things considered, we opted to move earlier than scheduled. In April we spent 10 days in Michigan to explore what would be our new area. To our surprise we also found and fell in love with a house, made an offer and entered contract. Our Iowa house was on the market within 3 hours of returning home. I went back to work and the rest of the summer was a whirlwind of activity trying to tie up all of the loose ends.

In June, I quit my job and began working for Bard Access Systems as a consultant. It was a great change for me and I loved the aspect of teaching nurses all over the state how to place Picc lines. With my training complete, this was also something that I could do once we had moved, which eased a lot of stress for me to have contacts already set up in Michigan.

“Children a reward from Him.” Psalm 127:3
Madison was with us for the month of July. She enjoyed a youth group work trip to Waupon, WI and was a great help in our move. As always, we enjoyed our time with her. This summer Craig and I realized that she is not a little girl anymore. Her cell phone was never far away, and she is beginning to see things with more maturity. We treasure our time with her and always wish we could have more. My niece, Brooke, joined us in Michigan for a while, too which was nice for all of us. We were able to take in a Detroit Tigers game at Comerica Park on a beautiful evening which we all really enjoyed.

“In Christ Alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength my song. This Cornerstone, this Solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm”
--Newsboys

Late July brought devastation when we learned that my cousin Brandon died after being struck by lightening while climbing in the Grand Tetons. Once again we found ourselves walking through the valley. We made a brief trip back to Iowa for the funeral. It was heart wrenching to feel death separate us from another loved one seemingly taken all too soon, but there was also a great blessing in being able to spend time with family and share in the burden of the grief with others who share in the hope that this is not where the journey ends.

God is always working to make His children aware of a dream that remains alive beneath the rubble of every shattered dream, a new dream that when realized will release a new song, sung with tears, till God wipes them away and we sing with nothing but joy in our hearts --Larry Crabb

This has become one of my favorite quotes. July also brought tears of joy as we learned that a new song of joy was indeed forming among our shattered dreams. We are pregnant again! This was a cause of very cautious celebration. With our minds still replaying fresh images of greeting our Christopher into the world and giving him back to heaven we found that it became difficult to fully embrace the excitement. It was as if part of me was saying “If you don’t believe it, it won’t hurt if something bad happens.” All of that changed when I saw the tiny flicker of a heartbeat on that ultrasound at six weeks. I fell head over heels in love—and became scared to death.
Everything is going great. I am at 15 weeks now and feeling very good. We found a great team of doctors who are right on track with following the latest research to prevent a recurrence of March’s events. (Yes, I have done my homework and have read more medical journal research articles than you could imagine!). I meet with my regular doctor biweekly for ultrasounds and the high risk specialist once a month now. I have also been placed on modified bed rest for at least another three weeks. It is wonderful to have some down time, but I am really itching to get out and get stuff done. I will not be going back to work until after the baby is born in late March...and won’t be working much at that. Craig has been wonderfully supportive through my insecurities as I nervously analyze every little ache and pain. We are so blessed.

Our most treasured family heirlooms are our sweet family memories.--Unknown
August brought the much anticipated once-every-three year Nieuwsma family reunion. As always, it was a wonderful time of sharing and reconnecting with my dad’s siblings and my cousins. There were 84 of us there with only two plus Grandma that weren’t able to make it. I feel like I spent the entire time bawling. I missed my dad even more than usual during those days and was already drowning in emotion from the pregnancy and a few extra hormones that the doctor had prescribed. Now you all know why I could barely finish a sentence without a tissue.

We are loving our new home. There are still a few more things that we need to do to be completely settled, but it has been a good move for us this far. A little hectic, but good.
Our guest room(s) are open for visitors anytime anyone is in the Detroit area!

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for you I pray with Joy.
--Phil 1:3-4

Finally, we would like to thank you all for all of the warm thoughts, cards, notes, and especially prayers as we’ve dealt with the ups and downs of life. If there is one thing alone that we have learned it is that true peace in difficult circumstances can only come from one source…Jesus. It is such a blessing to be a part such a wonderful community of family and friends. May you find yourself blessed and healthy through the remainder of the year and into the next.

Love to all,
Craig, Missy, and Madison.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

First Impressions

So yesterday I ventured out to the mailbox. There is nothing unusual about that. As I gathered coupons--YEAH!!--and no bills --bigger yeah--from the cast iron receptacle I noticed that our neighbor was out working in his driveway. I haven't actually met the neighbors yet, so I thought it would be a nice gesture to introduce myself.
It was at this point that I realized exactly what I must look like. I had showered...which quite honestly was a step up from the day before...but a quick glance at my outfit revealed a nightmarish scene. A very baggy sweatshirt, even baggier purple pants which, at the time I bought them more than 10 years ago, vowed would never ever under any circumstances exit the door of our house, and flip flops. I hadn't applied a drop of makeup and was crowned with a very fuzzy in-my-face hairstyle.
"Hi, I don't think that I ever introduced myself, I'm Melissa...."
He was very nice and we talked for a few minutes, but I'm sure he was thinking "What kind of freak...?"
When I got back to the house a quick glance in the mirror confirmed that, yep, it really was that bad. Oh well, first impressions are overrated anyway.
Maybe I should start looking for a job... ;)

Monday, October 4, 2010

One of these days....

One of these days something that I write will actually make it to posting status. Since our move, I have come down with a severe case of attention deficit. I cannot sit down, write an entry, and focus on it long enough to finish my thoughts. Sad, really.

I am also working on some other writing projects and journaling, so that has given me my writing fix for a bit. However, I can't let my blog go. I think about it a lot of the time, but there's only so many times that I can write "Today I did the very same thing that I did yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that..." before I bore even myself.

Here are the highlights of what's what since our move.

I have been reading a ton. After dad died, I really couldn't get into a storyline on a book, but have now completed 8 books in the last 2 weeks. Maybe it is nerdy, but I enjoy it.

Work. I am not working right now. Not for Bard, not for a hospital, nothing. There are several factors and I will not go there now, but I have definitely used some of the down time to reflect on everything we've been dealt in the last year and find myself in all of it. I wouldn't want it any other way. More about work later.... My big thing now is saving money since I'm not making money. To date I have saved us from having to pay over $2,000 in insurance errors related to our medical treatments from before we moved. GO ME!! I've also become obsessed with checking investments to see if there were any gains on a particular day. It is crazy (and I believe unhealthy) how much value I was placing on my paychecks...and now that I don't have them, I am more at ease with everything. Strange how that works.

Our "Christmas Letter" will come early this year. It is a work in progress.

We are settled. I think. Upstairs is finished for sure. I haven't even been up there for about a month now. That is crazy...I'm sure that there is a plenty thick layer of dust. Note to self: take a broom next time you brave the steps.

The downstairs is not really finished but not really a work in progress anymore either. My wonderful husband built several storage shelves to hold all of our junk. Some day I need to go through those totes and either get rid of stuff or pack it better. It looks like I'm getting ready for a garage sale.

I like to think that the main level is done, but that is just silly. We still need to get a bedroom set, but are debating between a king or queen size bed. There is plenty of space for a king, but we just bought a new queen mattress not too long ago and love it, so that throws a monkey wrench in things. Basically, we just haven't found a bedroom set that we love yet, so that makes a big difference, too. We did buy a sofa, loveseat, 3 end tables, a coffee table, wall mount t.v. and another leather recliner so the family room has taken shape. Everything fit pretty cozy, and the only thing that we need yet in there is a small entertainment cabinet and an area rug.

Finally, there is the dining room. We have been in cahoots about this room since we moved in. The problem is, it is a perfect dining room, but the kitchen also has an area that is large enough to accomodate a dining room set. Currently we have 2 oversized chairs in the space in the kitchen, but are considering moving them to the formal dining and having it be a music room with sitting area. The downside is there is a breakfast nook in one area of the kitchen and we'll probably put barstools at the counter...so how many eating areas does one need in a given space. So confusing and overwhelming, so we don't do anything.

When we bought the house there were weeds in the yard taller than me. Craig has now (with a significant amount of help from TrueGreen) got the yard under control. The grass had been over watered and was dead and the landscaping was all overgrown, but things are really taking shape now. (We bought the house from an investor who did the bare minimum to maintain the property from the time we put our offer in to the time we closed.)

We've really enjoyed our new neighborhood and community. It is slowly starting to feel like home. We have visited at least 5 different churches, but have still not found the right fit. There is one that we really like, but it is a little jaunt to get there, so we are continuing to look for something a little closer to home. We trust that God will reveal it to us when we find the right one.

I think that is it and that is enough. I'll post the "Christmas Letter" soon after I get it sent to family first.

Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One year later

The fact of the matter is, I miss him. I miss my dad every single day. Every day since September 12, 2009...a whole year ago now...I have in some way felt the impact of my dad's death. Some days it makes me feel very very sad. Other days, I feel indifferent. Some days I even feel an inexplicable joy. Joy that he doesn't have to suffer the hurts of this world and gets to bask in the glory of God. Every day, though, I wish that that stupid tractor would have kept its wheels on the ground and we could have had more time to make memories for the future.

I just cannot believe that a year has passed. So much has changed in our lives. We've moved 600 miles farther from "home." We've celebrated the joy of becoming parents and given our tiny miracle back to heaven. We've all had another birthday and made the rounds of holidays. We've laid a dear cousin to rest. We had a wonderful family reunion, and have done many of the same things that we've always done with Dad--like camping at the fair and going to Branson. So many changes that I wonder sometimes if Dad would even know us anymore. I am reminded, though, that change is a part of life and he would be adapting to all of these changes along with us if he were still here. Therefore, the change does not necessarily represent a movement farther away from the time that he lived, but life its self. Life does go on...as much as we want to pause it indefinitely to the time he was here, time keeps marching forward. For a while my world seemed to stand still as I dealt with the shock and sheer horror of our loss, but now the world seems to be revolving at a quicker than ever pace as the loss continues hitting me in new and different ways.

One thing that people assume is that you're going to go through some stages of grief in an organized fashion. Like you'll just wake up some day and realize that you have moved on to the next stage. So far from true. I still have days where I honestly feel shocked that my dad has died. I still have days that I am angry, and I still have days where I've accepted all this--but there is no rhyme or reason. Is it because we have had a series of losses instead of just one, or (perhaps more likely) because I don't deal with things in the normal way? I don't know. I don't have the answers and maybe I never will, but I do know for a fact that I never never never could have predicted that losing a parent or anyone that is that close to me would have affected every single facet of my life and change not only the way I respond to things, but the way I actually think.

To say that thinking of my dad's life only in a past tense has resulted in nothing good is untrue. Lots of good things have happened that I probably would not appreciate as much have taken place since he's been gone. (This is not to say in any way that I don't wish with everything in me that the accident never happened). My dad's death has helped me cope with the loss of our son on so many levels. It is comforting to me to know that Dad is with our little boy...that our son is not there all alone. I have been blessed to be able to recall some conversations that Dad and I shared that I haven't really thought about much since they originally occurred. I have found a sense a peace that I have never known before regarding my own life and salvation, and I know that they are all a part of my dad's legacy.

On the other hand, the hurt is so deep and the pain is so raw sometimes. Especially when I think that my children, besides Madison, will never know their grandpa. That they'll never have the chance to walk with him in the pasture to see the spring calves or take a ride in the farm equipment. They'll never know his laugh or his gentle spirit. That is heartbreaking to me. Sure, we'll tell them stories and show them pictures, but it is not the same.

I am determined to allow my daddy's seemingly untimely death to make me a better person. I will not allow his death to make me bitter or full of self pity. That is so far from the way he raised me and would be a direct contradiction to the legacy that he intended to leave. I have already seen some of the ways that it has made me a better person. I am more patient. I am able to see with more clarity the good in things instead of the bad. I am able to identify those things that are more important in life like health, family, and good friends rather than careers and cash flow. I can now see things from other's point of view more than ever before. I can see the light instead of the darkness, and I can give and receive love in a more meaningful way. I hope that some of these qualities remind others through me the kind of person that my dad was. There is nothing I can do to bring him back, but I can certainly change things in my life to reflect his best qualities, and in some small way that heals this hole in my heart just a little. A hole in my heart that will probably never close completely, but is filled to the brim with love for others--Just like my dad's was.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Gardenburger Bliss

When we were living in the Quad Cities one of my very favorite places to eat was Arthur's Garden Deli in Rock Island. They have very good deli sandwiches, Quiche, and baked potatoes (seriously, tell me how you can screw up a baked potato, though!), but my very favorite was the Gardenburger. Oh the Gardenburger. It was a warm patty of rolled oats and rice with many unidentifiable vegetables smothered in provolone cheese with finely shredded iceberg lettuce, onion, tomato, Hellman's Mayo, and, of course, their signature seasonings on a fresh wheat bun. I am not a vegetarian, but do happen to really like vegetables. Add in the fact that lunch meats only work for me in small portions due to excessive sodium content and the Gardenburger is an awesome, yummy low sodium AND low fat--(bonus!) alternative. Don't be mistaken, though, it is nothing like a boca burger or other meatless "burgers."

The problem with this love affair was my moving to Michigan. I mentioned to Craig just yesterday that I was considering calling Arthur's to see if this was something that they made themselves or if it was a product that could be purchased in bulk, but was not supported in my efforts by my veggie hating hubby. Actually, he laughed at me and said "whatever." It no longer seemed like a good idea.

All things changed tonight when we went to National Coney for dinner. Craig had a hankering for a coney dog and as I perused the menu I discovered that they offered a Gardenburger. I tried not to get my hopes up but when my food arrived I nearly kissed the waitress. It was the same patty, but was clearly prepared differently. Grilled, no cheese, and sesame seed bun. Coney also served it with a side of horseradish-like junk that was certain to spoil the treat and a big hunk of lettuce and not-so-fresh tomatoes. It was so D-Lish. Yes that is a capital D. So exciting. Not quite as good as Arthur's, but I suspect that if I got a Gardenburger at Coney to go, took it home, and doctored it a little I could get pretty close. Can't wait to try.

Now, if only I could find a suitable substitute for AE Skim Chocolate Milk, Kitchen Cooked Cheese Kurls, Caffeine Free Diet Mountain Dew, Los Agaves, Pizza and Subs, Osaka, and Grinders this place might just be OK.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Misc

Another awkward moment in my life. I find myself as a recluse in a dark corner of the laundry mat curiously scanning the room for quarters that have tucked under the corner of a machine somewhere. There are none. Laundry became #1 priority this morning as I realized that my last clean outfit was worn two days ago. You can rationalize a lot at the fair. I can always find someone smellier, dirtier, and sweatier then me--making it OK to wait just one more day for laundry. Then the unthinkable happens. I stop at the restroom to--well--what else do you stop at the restroom for? I carefully set my shower bag on the back of the toilet because there is no way I'm putting it on the floor and there are no hooks. I finish emptying my bladder for the 3rd time already this morning and flush. Then out of nowhere, my last pair of clean underwear makes an appearance in the toilet. I am thrown into an instant dilemma. To retrieve or not to retrieve? Time is of the essence. I will not get my fingers wet because I do have standards, you know. I must act quickly. Turning my head to the side I make a dive for it. Success. Now what? I stand there holding my dripping item in my hand contemplating my next move. The trash or the towel? Towel wins and I'm off to the laundry mat. It is not easy being me.

It has been a week since I have seen my Craig. 11 nights since I have slept in my own bed. If I weren't scheduled to work in Iowa a few days this week I'd leave right now. It is not that I am not having a good time with my family or at the fair, but more that I just feel so unsettled. 5 consecutive nights is as long as I have spent at home since we moved. I know that I will return to a house decorated with packing paper, cardboard boxes, and miscellaneous household items strewn about. I know that it will be in desperate need of a good cleaning. Yet, I long for the rhythm of daily life that I have only truly felt when at home.

More than anything, I feel thankful. How many people wander through life never feeling a rhythm? Just living day to day and having a constant feeling of unsettledness (if that is even a word). At least I know that the day will come soon when I can quit living out of the trunk of my car and be home with my husband and that peace within will find me once again.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dixie Bunny

Oops. I didn't mean to forget this on my last post. It was an honest mistake. One other significant thing that has happened in our lives is the loss of our sweet pet rabbit, Dixie. We knew that the day was coming because there is nothing too promising about a 9 year old rabbit with a 6 year life span, but it is sad to see her go none the less. The timing of it all is still a bit crazy to me. In anticipation of our move we spent a lot of time trying to decide what the most humane thing to do with her was with our options being 1. move her with us, 2. Give her to a rabbit santuary (there is such a place, I checked). 3. Have her humanely put down, 4. Leave her in our Davenport house as a gift to the new homeowners, and 5. Try to find her a new home.

As time marched on, no suitible adoptors applied, and our move date rapidly approached we began to feel more and more convicted that we had chosen her as our pet (along with her sister who we had to put down after an encounter with a puppy that was a little too playful), and we needed to be with her until her time was up. So, we carefully considered how to best transport her so she'd have to spend the least amount of time possible cooped up in the pet taxi.


At the new house, Craig dutifully spent an evening building a rabbit run in the garage to be moved to the basement and upon completion learned that a 4x8 sheet of plywood will NOT fit down our basement stairs, which incidentally led to our first disagreement in our new home. Dixie ended up living in the garage, but the weather had been mild and she seemed to like it there....until the day I came home on an already bad day and found her with her head on crooked and breathing funny. No lie. It was crooked and I knew that she was near the end. Although I thought she looked rather comfortable Craig and Maddie thought we should take her to the vet so I started making phone calls.

The first conversation went something like this:

"Yes, um, Hello. I have an elderly rabbit that doesn't seem to be doing too well. We just moved and she was fine but now is not moving much and her head is on crooked."
"Ok, what is her name?"
"My name?"
"No, the pet's name"
"Dixie"
"Thank you. Now what doesn't seem right about her?"
"Um, she's not moving much and her head is on crooked."
"Hmmm. What time can you bring your dog in?"
"I don't have a dog. This is a rabbit."
"Oh, I'm sorry, we don't have a rabbit vet available until Friday (2 days away), would you like to make an appointment?"
"No thanks, I don't think that she will make it that long."


Vet's office #2 answered the phone as the something to the tune of "Exotic Pet Specialists." I knew that they were going to be pricy, but what do you do, so I made an appointment for 45 minutes later then returned to the garage and found my little punkin seizing. Seriously? Have you ever seen a rabbit seize? Let me just say that it is an experience. Sigh. Within a very short time she was gone. It was a very sad afternoon at our house. We buried her in the back yard when Craig got home. Unfortunately, this was one of the first times our neighbors observed us outside as a family. Now they think we're strange I'm sure.

While being pet-less was kind of strange at first, we have decided that it is kind of nice. We can plan to be gone from home without concerns of how she'll get fed or how bad she'll smell when we get home. No plans for any new pets anytime soon.

No Masterpiece today

I really really really need to blog. There is so much I want to write about. So many thoughts swirling around in my head that I want to put into words...or try to anyway. I have sat down with my laptop and started so many entries that it is ridiculous. Often I feel that for something to be published it has to be some sort of masterpiece. It doesn't, I know--and often isn't for that matter--but I still feel like nothing is worth publishing. Therefore, I am just going to do a brief synopsis of the last few weeks.

  • Internet. We finally have internet again. For the last few weeks in the QCA our internet was very sporadic and often inaccessible. I realized just how much I use online services for everything from checking movie listings to news to weather, but most of all social networking. How I missed my e-mail, facebook, and blogging.
  • Moving. Sigh. I never want to move again. Most of the boxes are unpacked, but we moved into a much larger house, so there is so much that still needs to be done. We have a mismatched recliner, loveseat, and beanbag chair functioning as our living room furniture at the moment. Our only hooked up tv is an old 19 incher as we try to decide whether to go with a wall mount above the fireplace or one on an entertainment center in the corner. Both have their advantages, disadvantages, and price tags. My goal for each day is to keep the kitchen clean. It is the only room that is completely done, but a constant struggle to keep from becoming a junk heap for other works in progress.
  • Kids. Madison has been with us most of the summer and my niece, Brooke, came back with us last week after a quick trip to Iowa. It is wonderful to spend time with them, but also makes me feel very guilty. I want to just play, go for walks, and do fun things with them, but there is so much that needs to be done around the house that I can't devote all of my attention to them. That is hard and they've been quite the troopers, but I still feel bad for not being much fun. Last night we did take them to a Detroit Tigers game, though, which they both seemed to really enjoy, and tonight we're staying in a hotel with a pool on our way back to Iowa once again.
  • Traveling. Oh my. I am so sick of being in the car it is not funny. Last week I spent 40 hours in the car in 4 days. I was so glad to be at each destination and was glad to go to all of the places that I went, but am really not looking forward to another drive back to Iowa.
  • Family time. Yeah. Last week I was able to have some really nice family time together with my Dad's side of the family. The occasion was tragic--the funeral of my 21 year old cousin, Brandon, who was fatally injured in a hiking accident in the Grand Tetons--but it was so good to all be together. My heart is so broken for my aunt, uncle, and cousins who lost their son and brother so young and suddenly, but was also so refreshed by their faith that God is walking along side of them in the valley that they have found themselves in. Once again, God is good to us even when life hurts--which it has certainly done its share of lately. The sense of loss is overwhelming again as I consider all that has happened in the last year. Unbelievable.
  • More family time. This weekend is the once-every-three-years reunion for the Nieuwsmas. I am sure that there is a word for that, but I don't know it. I am so looking forward to reconnecting with aunts, uncles, and cousins that I haven't seen for a while. There is nothing that compares to our family time of sharing and Sunday morning worship together. I can't wait.
  • Missing my peeps. Since I have kept so busy in the house since the move I really haven't taken the opportunity to meet the neighbors too much or connect with the community. This makes me really yearn to just have lunch with a good friend. It has been so hard being away from our church family in the QCA as well as my close friends. I did have a treat last Sunday, though, and got to spend a little time with my friend Mary, when we both happened to be out of town in the same town. That was a blessing to me.
  • Work. I really need to get started on my job hunt here. I did get my Michigan nursing license and just need to get back to a few contacts, but honestly don't feel ready to start back into career mode yet. Hopefully soon. In the meantime, I am still picking up hours in Iowa when I am there.

That's enough for now. I'm thinking it would be best to fix some lunch and get on the road. Have a great day and safe travels to all.

Thanks for listening,

~M

Friday, July 16, 2010

Status

This will be short. I am so unbelievably tired. Most of our earthly possessions are crammed inside a too-small moving truck being driven somewhere in the Midwest by an incredibly smelly guy. I am sure that it is not his fault and it is likely that he showered this morning, but that was before spending the day in the 90 degree heat making hundreds (or do I mean thousands?) of trips in and out of that stuffy truck.

Let me just say that I would never never never want to work for a moving company. Those guys are powerhouses. I would not have survived going up and down the stairs that many times empty handed, but they were moving appliances and furniture like it was made of styrofoam. Amazing. To top it off they were pleasant and even funny.

The only thing left in our house is a random assortment of toiletries for Sunday morning's showers, non-shippables and Dixie bun. We're spending the night tonight at my mom's and will pick up Maddie tomorrow evening. Our plan is to have a slumber party on the floor of our Iowa house before leaving at a ridiculously early hour on Sunday morning to start our new adventure.

I stand in awe and amazement how well all of the things that have needed to happen have fallen in place. I shouldn't be surprised...God has been orchestrating this all along, but just can't believe that everything is done. Our house has still not sold, but the government buyout offer is acceptable and will be executed next weekend if there is still no activity. Thank you, Lord!

Part of me is so sad to leave behind so many good things in the QCA, but I just KNOW that this is going to be a good move for our family. There are still a lot of unknowns, but it is exciting to see God's plan for this phase of our lives unfolding around us. Exciting and exhausting. Actually, at this very moment the thing that sounds most exciting is my head hitting the pillow. Watching movers work has taken its toll and I must rest...Goodnite for now. Hopefully we'll get our new internet package set up in the next few days, but for a bit things will be pretty sporadic.

Hope summer is treating you all well....
~M

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chaos

The sound of light traffic fills the otherwise still night air. Our faces are illuminated by the steady glow of our laptop screens as we indulge on Panera's free Wi-Fi service. Craig and I haven't spoken in several minutes--we're both engrossed in checking our e-mail. Every now and then I peek at his screen to see where his precious internet time has taken him. It's no surprise that he is now exploring options on how to invest my roll-over money from my 403AB while I write intense nonsense on my blog.
It is sad to think that this is part of who we have become. Our internet has been sporadic at home for 2 months now and has not worked at all in the last 2 weeks. We kept thinking that it would get better but it never did (even after a few service calls). Now we are 3 days away from having all of our belongings packed and shipped halfway across the country. We need to check the weather, e-mail for work opportunities and schedule changes for me, last minute on-line orders, reserve a hotel room for our trip out on Saturday night.
Things have been so incredibly chaotic the last few weeks. Maddie has been with us, which has been awesome, but also created a need for some advanced planning, which hasn't been my forte lately. Each day and week we would make some sort of general plan and then spend the rest of the week modifying it to squeeze in everything that needed to get done.
Here is a sample of our lives last week:
Monday Early AM. Craig leaves the IA to go to MI for what we think will be 4 days. Maddie is planning to spending some time with Grandma Chris and my sister's family for a few days. I try to line up work appointments and reconstruct some order to our house.
Monday Late AM. I learn that Craig now has an appointment in IA on Wednesday morning that can not be rescheduled. Gingerly I pick up the phone, dial his digits, and tell him the news. Before he even reports to work he is trying to make arrangements to leave early on Tuesday to get home for his 8 AM Wednesday meeting.
Tuesday AM. I leave to go to my Mom's with a consultant from a local long-term care insurance agent to discuss a potential policy. I had agreed to do this a LONG time ago before I realized how crazy everything was going to get. I also needed to get a swimsuit to my Maddie girl.
Tuesday Afternoon. Craig leaves MI to return to IA after having been there for less than 24 hours. This is a 8 hour drive we're talking about. Ugh.
Wednesday pre-dawn. Craig arrives home we start a quick load of laundry and then head off to bed catching about 4 hours of sleep before it is time to rise again.
Wednesday AM. Craig makes his appointment and at noon departs again for MI. I take a nap. I did feel a little guilty, but got over it.
Wednesday Evening. Craig arrives at our Michigan house safely. He was making great time with no road construction delays until (no kidding) he just passed the exit before the exit you take for our house. He sat for an hour and was not happy.
Thursday AM. I drive 3 hrs to Marshalltown, work until late afternoon, and then head to my mom's to get Maddie.
Thursday PM. Craig works at the new house getting a few things ready for us to arrive with all of our belongings while I decide that I'm not doing any more driving that day. Maddie and I stay put at mom's for the night--staying up way too late playing a punch-drunk game of Phase 10 with cards sticky from a Sunny-D spill.
Friday Afternoon. Maddie and I head back to the QC while Craig also begins his journey back to Iowa.
Saturday morning. We all wake up in the same house wondering where in the heck the week went and feeling a little exhausted. However, the to-do list still required ordering Maddie's new bed and we had to do a little shopping around. Sooo....Off to Chicago we went to go to Ikea. It was a long 2 hr drive, but at least we were all together and laughing at all the crazy things that have happened in the last few days, as well as praying an extra prayer of thanks for safety with all of the travels.
Saturday afternoon. Return from Chicago land, get caught up on laundry, and go to bed early.
Sunday Morning. Worship in the park. Beautiful. Maddie and Craig decided to bike there, but as luck would have it some dirty bird had too many blueberries for breakfast and Craig passed under him at an unfortunate time. We had to just laugh at the irony of it all.
Sunday Afternoon. We had an Open House (no, still not much activity), went to see Dispicable Me (awesome...), and packed up a few collectables.
Sunday Evening. Drive Maddie to our meeting spot an hour and a half away so that she could spend a week with her mom.
This week's agenda? Meeting on Monday, move the storage shed stuff home to the garage, work on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, roll over investments, disconnect services, supervise the movers on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, pick up Maddie on Saturday, and leave for Michigan. We'll then be there for a week before returning to the QCA for 3 weeks for our jobs.
Whew. It's been a ride, but I am finding myself not only thankful for a wonderful family that can pull together and get all this done, but for a Great Great God that allows me to rest peacefully each night and gives me the strength to face whatever comes my way in the morning.
Thanks for checking in,
~M

Monday, July 5, 2010

Traveling plants

I miss my plants. Last night Craig and I loaded up my mom's van with all of the things that the movers could not move and things that we did not want them to move. We decided to start with the plants. I purposely did not water them this weekend so that they would not leak during travel. After we got three of them to our staging area in the garage Craig asked "Is that it?"
*Sigh*
Some days I wonder if we live in the same house (well, actually we kind of don't right now, but you know what I mean...). I gave him a brief tutorial of the watering techniques that each of them seem to prefer as well as a slight plead to please please PLEASE not let them die before returning inside and gathering the remaining 10 or so plants that also needed to be packed.
The house seemed so lifeless this morning when I got up and went downstairs. I am beginning to realize that I am completely more attatached to my plants than may be healthy. I love them. All of them. They all have sentimental value. Take Mary Jane Schefflera, for example. She was a gift when my dad died. Upon bringing her home she promptly dropped all but 8 of her leaves and turned brown. I held on to her for a while and was just about ready to part with her when Christopher was born. When I came home from the hospital I found that she had a new bloom starting. She's a keeper now.
They all have a story.
When Craig called to say that he had arrived in Macomb today I asked promptly about the condition of my plants and if they had been watered. "They're fine" and "no" was all I got. I just hope I won't be arriving in 2 weeks to find some brown stumps.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day


I'm pretty sure that if my dad were still with us on this Father's Day this picture shows how he might like to spend it...Napping in his chair with one of his granddaughters cuddled on his lap.

Oh, Dad, I miss you so much. I'm sure that spending just one moment in Heaven is so much greater than any Father's Day that you experienced here. When I am feeling sad I try to think about how happy you must be. That brings a little comfort but the hole that your absence created in our lives feels like it will never heal. Part of me doesn't even want it to, because if the hurt starts to go away it would be in part because time has passed, and if time has passed that means that it has been longer since I've seen you. It has already been so long in some ways, but in others it seems like just yesterday.
They say that you never really appreciate something or someone until they're gone, and I regret that that is true to an extent in my relationship with you. I am learning to try to break that pattern, though, and make the most of each moment--not taking people or things for granted because all too soon life may change just like it did for us.
I am grateful for the legacy that you have left that lives on in those of us were blessed enough to know you well and be touched by your love. I don't know how I would have gotten through this last year without the deep rooted faith that you instilled and encouraged in me. Faith that allows me to have knowledge through Christ that nine months ago when you died it was not the end of hope, but the beginning of Glory where we'll meet again.
The things I really want you to know on this day, your first Father's Day in Heaven are that you are loved and missed and even in death are the greatest father that a girl could ever hope for.
Loving you always,
Mis
P.S. Give my little guy a little extra spoiling and tell him that his daddy and I are really missing him today, too! :)