Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Reason?

For several years now I've not been able to put into words my feelings or thoughts on Christmas, and why, for a time, I've found myself even cranky about it.

I think I've figured it out.

There are certain dates that stand out in my calendar year. Dates to remember. Obviously we all have birthdays. And then there are national holidays, world wide holidays, personal anniversaries or dates to remember, and then, in my life, the days several loved ones have gone before me into God's amazing presence, leaving us behind.

And since losing a son on January 12th, 2007, a son who was born June 10th, 2006, those particular dates have new meaning for me rather than just being days after my birthday or weeks before our wedding anniversary. They are kind of a big deal. But they also are not...

Let me explain. Every. Single. Day. I remember that we had a son and that he died. Every. Single. August through January, I remember that we spent 5 months in the hospital with our son that passed away. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, my birthday...these all over-lapped Noah's life in the hospital. Do I think about it at Every. Single. Moment? No. But it is part of my core. I cannot escape it. It has helped shape me. God is good and I do not despise having walked in the sufferings of Christ for God's glory.

But the pressure to make those days stand out more than the next...I feel like that is where we are missing out on something far greater...

...And that is a daily walk and celebration of knowing the God of the Universe, the Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace, the Holy God who adores us. Every. Single. Day.

Jesus. Every. Single. Day.

So, for me, as far as Christmas goes, I am aware that Jesus came as a baby to this earth 2000+ years ago. Every. Single. Day. I am also keenly aware and wordlessly thankful for what His life meant for all of mankind, for me specifically, as well as His death and resurrection. Every. Single. Day.

Believe me, I am not Scrooge. I love Christmas for the fun traditions, recipes, music, parties, and the opportunity to just give things to people for no particular reason, just because I can. I love the decorations, twinkling lights, the smells and the spirit that comes out in people. I am grateful God made the mountains capped with snow splashed with trees that never lose their green...because even the trees and rocks and all of creation shout praises to our God.

We've always told Em about a man named St. Nicholas who gave gifts to orphans which is where the tradition began, but it hasn't ever been the central theme at our home. I think she sat on his lap once or twice, but she wasn't impressed. No, for us it's been about family and being together...being an extension of Thanksgiving.

But, by any stretch of the imagination, I cannot justify that I give Jason and Emily and Ryan and others gifts because a long time ago Jesus was born and some wise men from the East made their way to Him to worship Him and shower Him with gifts fit for the King. They made their way to Him because God marked it in the sky to show these guys the way to the Truth, to eternal Life, to salvation...His very own star that led them to the feet of the Savior of the world.

No one really even knows when Jesus' birthday was, but most scholars and historians agree it was not December 25th. No, I give the people in my life gifts because I am thankful for them, not because I worship them. And I decorate because it's pretty. Does this mean I celebrate a pagan holiday? No.

So, what I think I've figured out is that, for me, it's okay to celebrate Christmas Every. Single. Day. Because it means I am celebrating the Life of Christ. It doesn't mean I have to put pressure on myself to justify the tree and stockings in order to make them "spiritual" in meaning.

Instead, it means if I am to celebrate the Life of Christ every day, it bears more responsibility, which is really nothing different from what I've known. That my life is not my own. That my attitude should reflect Christ. That I need to live life in a generous way, selflessly, giving to others...laying down my life for a friend.

That's not a one time a year thingy.

It's a lifestyle.

So, is Jesus the Reason for the Season? Kinda, sorta...

Jesus Christ is the Reason for Every. Single. Day.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Over it...

Yep. I'm over it.

I'm over blogging.

At least today I am so over blogging.

I am sick of posting about my kid that died.

I don't have time to post about the one that was just born because I am too busy spending time with him.

The 8 year old keeps me busier than busy.

I don't remember the last time I truly, really, I mean really, really, really showered.

Having an 8 year old meant that I had slept thru the night for the previous 7 years.

I'm not sure when I'll ever do that again.

It's one of those days.

I am cranky.

I don't even remember the last time I sat across a table from my husband for more than 2 minutes...and don't remember the last time I wanted to...and I'm sure there's a "vice versa" here...

He's tired.

I'm tired.

Ryan and Emily and Lady the dog don't seem all that exhausted...they seem quite rested seeing as how Ry naps throughout the day and most of the night...except when he squirms and squeaks...oh, and let's see, Lady pretty much naps all day long with the exception of when she has her freaking crazy hour right before it's time for bed and she wants to play ball and tug with her chew toys...and Emily, what about her? Since we've been homeschooling she has somehow managed to coerce her two middle-aged exhausted parents into thinking that allowing her to stay up a little later each night is a good idea.

This all equals exhaustion, crankiness, despondency and low quality high carb-consumption on the part of yours truly.

Oh, and since Em's hitting the sack later that means the only time I've seen my husband in the last 3 and a half months was at 3 recent Christmas attended by 30 people, another by 700+ and another with approximately 70.

Oh yeah, and since we're homeschooling, that means the last time I was all alone, all by myself, without anyone needing me was....ummmmm.....huh?! I guess it was when I was...I'm thinking, give me a minute...oh yeah, when I was in my MOTHER'S WOMB!!!!!!

And, I've realized that I still hate Christmas in the "American Consumerism Time-Sucking Gimme Gimme Gimme" sense of the word.

Somehow, someday, I want to figure out how to celebrate the Birth of Christ for what it truly is...the day the Savior of the whole wide world was born to save us from ourselves. It's something I am thankful for on a daily the pressure to make this specific time of year uber-spiritual is kind of frustrating!

So, how is your day?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"The path of least resistance..."

...was not meant for me to take. I'm learning how to live on the way."
- Elizabeth Hunnicutt, from her album On The Way (emphasis mine)

Here is a sneak peak at a video I made today that I'll be sharing with a local MOPS group on Tuesday.

It's crazy how 4 years later, looking at all these pics again, the tears still flow just as heavily. I get downright cranky looking at some of the pictures from Noah's stint, aka, life in the hospital. I get pissed that he was ever sick at all...and, I know they are brothers, but seriously!? Ryan looks exactly like Noah to me right now...and though I do stare at him and love on him for being himself, it's hard not to see Noah's face in Ryan's sometimes. Please pray that I can hold it together and share what is on my heart without being a slobbery, bawling mess.

Elizabeth gave me permission to use this song. She didn't realize as she wrote the words from her own heart that they would be words from my very own heart unable to be conveyed. I am so grateful that God has gifted some to be musicians! Thanks, Elizabeth!

(*And, Elizabeth's album is on sale right now in time for Christmas. And, be checking back on her site because she's debuting another album soon! I can't wait!)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ways to use your old Halloween candy...

I talked with Em about healthy choices and all the Halloween candy she got this year...she was going to weigh off a few pounds of it and give it to the dentist but decided to donate it to the Gingerbread cause this year, instead.
Two years ago Jason's sister moved in with us for a bit. She and Em and I embarked on what has now become an annual tradition: The building of a masterpiece. You might remember our first creation. It was my favorite so far...since, of course, it was in honor of my sweet Noah's life.

Here's a peek at our second creation.
I enjoyed that one, too, as I have a jewelry business, bebe & boo, and enjoy being creative with new and vintage pieces.

This year, per Emily's request and design, we made Sacagawea's Indian village. Em LOVES Sacagawea!

Anyway, we started at about 8 o'clock at night with a river...
...added a little grass and a bank...

Em put some treasures in the river, as well as a small bridge.

Here's my favorite feature: the fire pit.
Here is the entrance to the village that Em and her Auntie created.

Here's Em's field, ripe for harvest.

They designed little dresses for Sacagawea's tribal members.

(Yes, that is our Christmas tree up in the background...Em quietly carried ALL the tubs up from the basement on Friday morning and placed them smack dab in the middle of the family room floor. I guess that was her subtle way of telling me she wanted me to decorate?!)
That would be a KitKat entrance to the tepee.

Here's Em's creativity at best...a Brave spearing a Swedish fish from Royal Icing River.
We used sugar cones as the bases to our pine trees.
And, as you can see, the actual Gingerbread is the siding on the tepees and the Braves and Little Indian Girls.

This wasn't the smoothest process. I had spaced that we were actually doing the Gingerbread, so, of course, forgot until about 8 pm that I had to make dough and let it sit for 2 hours before baking it. Let's just say, with Dad in Peru, Mom skipped bed time rules and my sweet girl was up until midnight! Yikes! She thought it was great! Here are some things I learned, though, so you don't have to replay my mistakes:

  • prepare your dough in advance
  • use real egg whites, from actual eggs you crack yourself OR use powdered eggs whites, for Royal Icing...DO NOT USE eggs whites that are in those refrigerated containers.
Yeah, that's pretty much it. I use my Joy cookbook that was a wedding gift 17+ years ago for my recipes...Gingerbread House and Royal Icing. I try to think outside the box when it comes to a food or snack that is around the's fun to see what you can come up with. And, your kids are NOT going to miss the Halloween candy, so use it up!

We don't actually eat our creations. In fact, we literally just put Noah's Ark in the dumpster last Friday morning. It's just fun to have them around for a while.

Oh, and I did not even lick my finger or taste test one piece of candy while doing this project because I am on a detox/, if you are trying to lose weight and think you can't do it, think again! I've lost 18 lbs and it wasn't even tempting!

The point is to be creative and have fun! And, you don't even have to be a kid to do it!

Go get your Gingerbread on!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pinch me!

These pictures were taken by Sara Lazio when Ryan was about 3 weeks old. He's already pushing 11 weeks! I just wanted to post these so you could see her great work and God's amazing creation!

He coos.
He smiles.
He looks at me.
He smells like a slice of Heaven.
He sneezes cute.
Heck, even when he toots, it's the most adorable thing in the world! Em wants to know why it isn't cute when she does it anymore...

And as I hold Ryan and nibble on his fingers, toes, ears, cheeks and nose, my heart is so full, so grateful he's different than Noah...and at the same time, because of Noah, I pray for the moms and dads out there that don't have teeny, tiny fingers and toes to nibble on this morning...and I pray for God's healing to take place in their hearts...and for His peace to replace despair...and for Hope in His will, and comfort in His arms to be all that you need today, and as the days ahead approach.

I just wanted you to know that your pain is on my heart and I am praying for you...I do not take my newborn for granted...I am so sorry for your loss.

Monday, November 08, 2010

One day at a time

The sixth chapter of Matthew is one of my staples.

I could read it every. single. day.

The five main topics it covers are: giving, praying, fasting, heart treasures, and worry.

One of my life motto's is to live one day at a time...not worrying about all the what if's? and unknowns. I HATE, ABHOR, GET SO CRANKY, when, in life, I or others, have gone off on rabbit trails about all the worst case scenarios that could possibly occur with such and such a situation. It's a waste of time to go only breeds discontent, anxiety, worry, crippling, disease...

With all of God's word, I really take these words of Jesus to heart. I figure, hey, He knows a heck of a lot more than me, has had a bit more life experience (even if He died when He was 33), sees a bigger picture, and knows the whole future, so trusting that He doesn't make this stuff up might just give me the advantage in this life. The advantage over an Enemy that hates my guts and wants to steal joy from me.

I'm pretty Literal. Black and White. Right and Wrong. Rule Follower. But that is for me, I'm not projecting it on you or you or her or him. I often have inner turmoil when I don't do something just so. It's my own imperfect pursuit of perfection and I realize it's not right. It has its disadvantages, but it also has advantages...

...for instance, when I read God's word, I take it literally. When I read it I don't have a million questions racing through my mind whether I think it is true or not, whether God was just pulling my leg when He wrote this, or whether there's a catch to everything I read. No, He said it.

No. God is Who HE says HE is. HE is not a liar. HE is not a man that HE could lie. HE is truth. The Ultimate Answer in the pursuit of truth. GOD is Truth.

So, when I read His word, I trust that He has given it to me as a gift, a sneak peek, preview, forewarning, or guide to living here on earth outside of His physical presence. I take it literally because, since I don't live in The Garden, it's the next best thing to walking alongside Him and learning all He wanted to show us originally.

So, back to Matthew 6, and doing one day at a time...reading the five lessons that Jesus touches on here, all of them are summed up in the final two verses, 6:33&34:

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Em and I have been tracing back to my Catholic heritage a bit. You see, in regular evangelical circles, you don't hear "The Our Father" all that often, though everyone knows it. Well, Em and I have been praying it, or a version of it, every day...because it does what verse 33 tells us to do.

When Jesus told us how to pray, it starts out blessing God's name...not listing the 50 million things that we want or that need fixing on this earth. God knows this...

Hello! News Flash: verse 8...for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

It's like putting the cart before the horse when we give God our grocery and "to-do" list before we seek Him, thank Him, and praise Him first.

It's a practical thing, but one I wanted to share. Trusting God and thanking Him, rather than worrying, is a practice I haven't perfected, but it's what I wanted to share because as humans we have a tendency to worry about all the what if's? The problem is, as much as we try, we can't control, or even begin to understand, all the outcomes or the processes.

But God does. And He is big. And if we can trust Him with the words,

"...your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven..."

...then literally taking one day at a time, though some may be easy and others excruciating, will become a new way of living life.

Random thoughts I just wanted to share...

Friday, November 05, 2010

So proud of her...

Over 8 years ago I met you, sweet girl...
I am awed by your creativity, your generosity, and your carefree spirit.
If I could hold this position forever I would...but I know you'll eventually spread your wings.

Em, it's been so fun doing homeschool with you...getting to know you more, learning your heart and your style. Please bear with me as I figure this out.
Above all else, I want this year to be a blessing to you, to your heart, to your confidence.
I want you to love God and learning more and more.
Thanks for letting me walk this journey with you.
I love you bigger than the Universe, Peanut.

*Photos by Sara Lazio, Denver Photographer

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

My cutie patooties!

In the history of my 38 years and 10 months...

I have never bought a Halloween costume...
...until October 30th, 2010. Emily changed her mind at the last minute of what she wanted to be. I hadn't technically made her a Halloween costume, per se. Last year in school she did a report on the American Revolution and I made her a Betsy Ross costume.

And by "I made" I mean, baby, I went all OCD style. At that time I informed Em that she was going to get two uses out of the costume, thus wearing it for Halloween. She was totally game. She thought that was great!

Then, I realized that I was being a bit neurotic. I told her she could be anything she wanted...but that because of the time frame, I wasn't going to be able to make her a costume. It left a pit in my stomach.

Now, I'm not judging you if you buy a costume. Many costumes at stores are actually great...even better than homemade. But for me it's fun to make up a costume from either thrift store finds, a pattern or from scratch. I enjoy it...and it's all I've ever known.

My mom always made our little sister even came over the day before Halloween and saw the package on the chair...She looked at me strange and said, "What is that?" She had never seen this in her 32 years and 2 months, either...

Anyway, Em drew up a bordered Rock Star and Pirate. But no matter what, for 3 days straight, all she talked about was she wanted a redhead wig...that HAD to be part of the costume.

So, there you go. Em was a pirate. Here's her blog on it... Go there to find out what we're going to do with her candy.

And here's my little baby bear. I did not make his costume...GAP did. When I was preggers with Ryan I went to the GAP just to check it out. I saw this outfit and it was all I could think about!

But now, this little handsome guy is all I can think about!

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Monday, November 01, 2010

Hair's the dealio...

Okay, remember this?

Those pictures were taken on January 12th, 2008, in memory of Noah's first year in Heaven. Many of YOU actually were in seats in salons in your own states around the country braving the shears, as well. That day donations of pony tails not only went to Locks of Love, but, the finances we raised went to Operation Smile, a non-profit that provides cleft palate surgery for children in third world countries.

I chose that charity because Noah never smiled...his nerves shut down too soon...

Imagine never being able to smile...


My little sister and I have started growing our hair out again...and this time, we have chosen a very special date to cut if all off...

August 2nd, 2011.

For those who are new, no, our son Ryan did not die on August 2nd. In fact he was born on August 28th and is doing splendidly at 2 months! (I'll post pictures soon.)

But our very dear friend, Ryan, did. He lived and died a hero.

Jason and I miss Ryan everyday. This is my way of remembering...

Dr. Ryan Arnold was an orthodontist...and a generous one, at that. He and his wife had even gone overseas to serve a third-world community, donating their time and expertise.

So, the financial contributions to the August 2nd, 2011, Locks of Love hair donation next year will go towards Operation Smile. Again, this just seems fitting.

So, here's what my sis and I looked like almost 3 years ago after our cuts...

OMW, look how little Em is!!

We all have long hair right now, so should even have some length left over after the 10-inch pony tails are donated.

Anyway...I'd like to invite you to join us on on this growing adventure!

How fun would it be to have salons all over the country, and world, swarming on August 2nd, 2011 with women and children donating their pony tails?! And, if you, in your neck of the woods want to organize the proceeds to go to another local non-profit, by all means! Do it!

The point is to get out there, ladies! Don't just go get a hair cut...go have fun and make a difference!

Either way, please comment and let us all know when, where, for whom you and your girlfriends will be donating your locks next year!

Get your grow on!

Monday, October 25, 2010

What I'm chewing on...

I wanted to share some scriptures that I'm going to be meditating on this week, or for however long. I could type a million words here, but there is nothing on this earth more refreshing to me, whether I want to hear it or not, than God's Word.

My sweet friend a few years back made me a box of hundreds of scripture cards, all laminated and in pretty colors...yes, she was an Elementary school teacher...anyway, I keep it on a coffee table in my bedroom and while I feed Ryan I flip through these cards that are much more than just cards, but literal food for every part of my being.

In Jason's line of work it is common place, though heart-breaking, to encounter starvation and malnutrition.

In America it is common place to encounter over-eating or over-consumption, yet we rarely, if ever, equate it with the same definitions: starvation and malnutrition, lack or being without.

In America, we have so much. We have plenty. We have more than enough and even some of the most impoverished people in our country are better off than many of those in 3rd world countries.

And, in America, in American Christianity, there are many that on the outside look well-fed and nourished, yet on the inside are truly starving, barely surviving.

I lived like that for years...trying to follow Christ without getting to know Him in His Word...

John chapter six talks about Jesus being the "bread of life." In the wilderness when the Jews were wandering, God provided literal food, manna bread, for the people to ingest. For years, thousands of them, people have taken that sign as something with which we are to fill our lives with...we find comfort in it.

I found comfort in it for years...

The Jews were very comfortable knowing they'd find manna each morning out in the wilderness. Of course, then they started grumbling since they were eating it every single day...they longed for variety.

Jesus is that variety. He satisfies in a way we are unable to explain so that when our lives are in transition, holding patterns, complete chaos, knowing and trusting Christ brings a peace that no meal could satisfy.

Anyway, that wasn't what I was going to share...I was going to share the scriptures that I am chewing on, feasting on, in the days ahead. I hope they are an encouragement and challenge to you, as well.
  • "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." NIV Psalm 51:12 Here's The Message version that ROCKS!
  • "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." NIV John 15:4 Here it is in The Message.
  • "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." NIV Galatians 5:22-23 Here it is in The Message.
It's so cool how these were the first 3 scripture cards in my little box this morning...and how they progress as you dig deeper into each one.

So that's what I'm chewing on. Want a bite?

Friday, October 22, 2010

8 weeks

Why are these pictures so special to my mommy and daddy?

Well, besides the fact that I am the subject in the pictures, they say they are special because I am at home.

I am at home most of the time. I'm not sure why this is such a big deal, but when my mom smiles at me with this weird wet stuff dripping from her eyes, I suppose that is significant.

Apparently not all 8 week old baby boys are at their mommy's arms, getting snuggled and slobbered on. What? Oh, my mom said she doesn't "slobber" but that those things are called "kisses" or "smooches". Whatever they are, I won't lie...I like them a lot.

Yeah, my doctor told my parents today that I am really healthy. I have good muscle tone...this apparently will come in handy with the ladies, I hear. I also can hold my mommy's finger...again, apparently the ladies like this behavior. Oh yeah, I have good eye contact...sheesh, what don't the ladies like?!

Anyway, my mom and dad are really excited that I am at home with them, eating, growing, sleeping and, I heard my mommy even say she likes it when I poop. I like pooping, too, but who knew it could make my momma so happy?!

So, there you go. I am Ryan Everett Graves, and like my name means, I am "Brave and Strong", a "Man of Distinction" and I live at home with my parents.
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shocking similarities...

...but thankfully, different!

(photo by Sara Lazio of Lazio Images...she rocks!)
(photo courtesy of Michelle of my favorite pictures of all time!)

I have more pictures to share. In fairness, the boys were not the same age in the above photos.

The first baby pic is taken at 3 weeks...the second is 5 or 6 weeks.

I have photos where they look like identical twins.
(Seriously, Ryan couldn't have just looked Italian or Asian or something?! Yeah, no. His dad is Czech/English, so that would not have worked...nope, he had to look just like his big brother!)

Noah was 7.5 weeks when he was admitted to the hospital.

Ryan is 7.5 weeks today.

...I am grateful to have passed the 7.5 week mark...

...but I'm still just loving him one day at a time!

Monday, October 18, 2010

What I'm learning in 3rd grade

We are homeschooling this year...yes, you heard me right. We have an infant. We have a new puppy. I have my own business. I have a non-profit. I'm the director of women's ministry at my church. I'm a wife. I'm a mom. I'm a sister, daughter, friend. Yada, yada, yada.

...and...I look nothing like the woman described in Proverbs 31...

...because, may I remind you, she had a full-time staff...God's grace and her full-time staff are what made her amazing.

What makes me amazing? Nothing.

I listed those things above not to boast that I am amazing and all that and a bag of chips, but because I'm a real live woman just like you, doing too much at once, but loving every aspect, and simply doing the best that I can.

I do live by God's grace, however I do not have a full-time staff. I have a lot of awesome people in my life that help me with all the areas listed above, and that is how I am able to do all those things. Team. I'll be the first to admit I don't do any of those things on my own...

I'm not sayin' I do them well...I'm just sayin' I "do" them.

So, back to homeschooling...Em and I embarked on this journey about a month ago. Ryan's arrival put our start date out a bit...
  • We've both shed tears.
  • We've both wanted to throw in the towel.
  • We've both laughed hard.
  • We've both wanted to punch the other in the face. (not really, of course)
  • I've wondered if I made the right decision.
  • I've gone back to God with the "Are You sure You wanted me to do this?" prayer several times.
  • She's told me she loves school but is lonely.
  • I've had to be better at coordinating play dates...
I could list a lot of bullet points that could lead to a million different discussions. But this is what God has put upon my heart as we do this homeschool journey, one day at a time:

It is my job this year not to obsess about her academic excellence (as she is naturally brilliant...) but to learn to love her and love her well.

As soon as I changed gears in my heart that this was my job, the anxiety of the bigger picture went away. I was able to let go and trust, once again, that God is big. That He loves Em more than I do. That He's got the big picture and knows just exactly what Em needs this year. And that He has a plan for her life...and it's beautiful and designed with her gifts in mind.

As a mom who loves her children to the Universe and back, it gives me indescribable peace to know that God loves them more than that.

If your gut, aka God, has told you to do something that is not up your alley and harder than you ever dreamed, I just want to encourage you... really can do it. Not because you are Wonder Woman, but because God is big and is faithful to us, even when we feel like flaking.

I have never walked in your shoes. I've never sat where you sit or endured what you have, or will, endure. All I know is that as I'm learning to love Emily well, I am also learning more about God's love for me.

I'm learning that He is patient beyond what I deserve.

Many people wonder where God is, or was, when things here on earth are unbearable, confusing and painful beyond words. From my own experience God was in the middle of it, holding my heart, assuring me that life here is short and temporary...if I'll just hold on and trust that there is more life to come.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The 411, Part Deux

Sorry! I literally did not intend to leave you hanging but between poopy diapers, homeschooling, pumping, trying to keep my kitchen clean, showering periodically, making meals, snuggling, etc, apparently big nuggets of time are no longer at my disposal. Today I did, however, stay up after Ryan's 5:00 a.m. feeding and do Turbo Jam, as well as showered and made breakfast with Emily. Some days I brush my teeth and that's fabulous. Other days I surprise myself and actually get other things accomplished. My goal each day, however, is to smooch the heck out of my tasty baby boy and stare at my beautiful 8 year old as she learns about God's beautiful love for her and the world. (And, of course, as you might imagine, I wrote the above paragraph two days ago and haven't worked out or showered since...)

So, as I said, that is when the whole scene turned emotional. Honestly, I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. Everything seemed like deja-vu with Noah's delivery.
  • It was also a Saturday...
  • It was a boy, obviously...
  • Same hospital...
  • None of the doctors from my practice were on call...
  • Third party doc on call that I didn't know from Adam...
  • Meconium on the scene...again!
Okay, so she was probably going to send me home...I mean, I was at a "One" for Pete's sake. And, I learned the inside scoop: nurses and doctors only consider the actual act of PUSHING labor!!!!! I'll give you labor! $%^&*(

Anyway, where was I? Okay, so, I was at a "One"...we've determined that. The problem was the nurse determined this just before shift change so I had to sit and wait for the next nurse to come in and see if anything else had happened. That nurse did come in...and nothing had happened.

So, she sent me on a walk for an hour. I walked the old halls where Emily had been born. They were remodeling areas of the floor, so it was nice and quiet...but it was mauve since that particular wing hadn't been remodeled yet, and let's be honest...mauve is gross. So, I headed back to the room to see if there had been any progression.

...I was at a "One" and a "half" ish...

BUT, the nurse wanted to do one more "procedure".

Did you know that pulling your cervix forward when its facing backwards hurts like a mother #$%^&*(?!?!

Uh, yeah! She was a great nurse and really on top of things (one of my BFF's is an L and D nurse, so she was checking in every so often and told me my nurse was good...), but all she said was, "This is going to hurt but the rest of the checks won't hurt as much..."

I literally almost shot up over the top of the bed! I screamed like a baby and when she was done, I literally rolled over onto my side and sobbed to Jason. I told him I wanted my Pooh Bear (yes, I do still sleep with my 38 year old Winnie the Pooh...what's it to ya?) and that this whole thing sucked and that I didn't want to do this and that it was just too much for me to handle and what were we thinking. The tears flowed. I felt totally vulnerable. It wasn't fluffy and warm and fuzzy. It was scary and it all reminded me too much of the last little boy who took me on a roller coaster ride.

The nurse let me calm down and then monitored little Nacho's heart rate for a bit. She told me she was sorry she had to do that but that she was sure I'd progress from there. She left us to calm down and take short cat naps. Jason babbled something about how we could have slept at home for so many more hours...I ignored him but gave him a good slap upside the head in my mind. Then forgave him quickly...because I'm just that kinda girl.

The nurse came in about half an hour later...

I was at a "Two".

But there was still talk of sending me home. WHAT THE FREAK?!?!

My contractions had slowed to between 3 and 4 minutes. I wasn't too excited about the idea that I could possibly still be sent home...and then I had my first visitor.

Dr. V, the third party doc that delivered Noah, walked into the room. She had her scrubs on, but not to see me. She said she had just gotten to the floor and saw my name on the board. She said that there are some names that just stick with you. She didn't know that Noah had passed away until she came on the floor that day 4 years later...she came in to say hello and to wish me luck. I was blown away. I reminded her of the party we had in the delivery room with all my girlfriends while Noah was born because I couldn't believe she really remembered me. She assured me she did. Who knew after all these years we'd left an impression?!

Back to the story. My nurse came in and checked me.

I was at a "Three".

She had been monitoring Nacho's heart rate and though it was recovering, she still didn't like that during each contraction his heart rate would dip she went to make a call...

...and Mr. Favorite Doctor strolled into the room, all smiles, dressed in his shorts and a Polo on that lovely Saturday morning. He said, "Let's get this show on the road and have a baby today."

I choked back the tears that he wanted to help us have a baby on his day off. But, I didn't send him back home :)

He broke my water and ordered Pitocin.

And, like each of my other kids, baby Nacho had stooled in utero so the ICU nurses were alerted that their presence would be necessary at delivery.

Freaking Great! Kid, you're killing me! The last people I want to see in your delivery room are a bunch of ICU people! Can't you just pop out and cut me some slack?!
Well, as I said, I was a bit emotional. I informed the nurse I was not planning on feeling any pain during this delivery so to make sure the anesthesiologist knew his services were wanted as soon as possible. I had gone to a 7.5 with Noah before I thought I'd pass out and finally ordered an epidural, but honestly, I just could not do it this time. I was tired before I ever skipped a full night of sleep, not just due to lack of sleep but the emotional roller coaster I had been on.

Anyway, my nurse started the Pitocin and was tracking my contractions alongside a girl's in another room. Mine weren't off the charts, but I could feel them and they were spreading out a little more. The doc came in to give me my epidural. I was ready to relax and calm down for a bit.

My little sister, due within a week of me (but also given the same due date on one occasion...) came over and painted my toenails. She went home and said she'd stop by later with the fam.

Jason's sister stopped by after class around 2:30 or so to say hi. Then Em and Gina came by to hang out for a little while.

Em brought me my Pooh Bear. I hadn't even asked her to!

I was at a "Four" so Jason informed them that it would be a while...if they had errands to do or anything else, to go ahead and come back later. So they all headed out for a bit.

Mr. Favorite Doctor kept calling the nurse and telling her to up my Pitocin because my contractions weren't that she obliged and kept cranking up the numbers. They still weren't as intense as the girl's in the other room whose peaks were really big compared to my mild ones...but I was starting to feel them.

In fact, I told the nurse I wanted my money back on the epidural because even though from the waist down I was pretty comfortable, there was this Nalgene bottle sized space in the core of me where I could feel intense pain when contractions came on...and I mean intense!

She called the anesthesiologist and then checked me again.

She said, "Well, that's because he's here!"

The drug doc got there just in time to give me a little something to take off the edge.

Mr. Favorite Doctor came running in next, threw on his scrubs, everyone got into position and I pushed. Nothing. I pushed a minute later during the next contraction. Nothing. I pushed a minute later...

Ryan Everett Graves entered the world at 4:41 pm.

I kept asking if he was okay. Mr. Favorite Doctor gave him a good flip-de-do, sucked out his mouth, massaged his belly a second and Ryan started wailing.

Relief all around!

He was pink.

He was crying.

He was moving around like a healthy baby.

He was different than his brother from the very beginning. I needed that.

Mr. Favorite Doctor put him right on my chest and Jason prayed over him.

Em came back shortly after he was born. We had promised her she'd be the first after us to hold her very own baby brother. She loved him right away. I suspect he loved her, too.

So, that's it. That's the story. Except apparently there was a twist...

On Monday after Mr. Favorite Doctor did Ryan's circumcision (which Jason and I both attended) he came to my room to chat and to write up my discharge papers.

He said, "You know, you had natural childbirth after all."

I said, "No I didn't. I was on Pitocin and had an epidural. Not really natural but I wasn't going for that this time."

He said, "Actually, remember when I kept having the nurse up your Pitocin because your contractions weren't that strong? Well apparently the Pitocin was dripping on the floor, not dripping into you. So, you had natural were in labor on your own."

And there you have it. What I thought was a small puddle on the floor left by my 15 month old nephew when he had come to visit was really a puddle of Pitocin.

And, one of these days when I have some time, I'll tell you how we picked his name.

Me and Pooh posting my gratitude for epidurals on Facebook...

My newly painted toe nails, thank you, Danar!

Our strong, brave, healthy baby boy

Big sis running in to meet Ryan Everett Graves, with Mr. Favorite Doctor, our Knight in shining armor, behind her.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The 411

So, I love a good story. I'm not saying this particular story is a good one, but it sure has a good twist. Here's how it all went down:

It was Jason's night to tuck Em into bed. That means that the parent tucking her in usually gets two extra hours of sleep because each of us inevitably passes out in her snuggly bed from sheer exhaustion. The other parent either makes a wise choice with their evening and goes to bed at the same time or chooses to do one of several other things like: dishes, laundry, channel surfing, reading, emails, volunteer work, jewelry making (me, not Jason, of course) or farting around on Facebook.

I'm pretty sure that night I was farting around doing nothing important...but one thing is for sure, I hadn't chosen to go to bed at a decent hour!

I finally crawled into bed by midnight.

Then, two and a half SHORT hours later, I woke up to cramps and contractions.

They were 2 - 3 minutes apart. They weren't bad but they weren't wonderful, either. It wasn't like I could "nap" between contractions. I laid there for about an hour and then told Jason that I thought we'd probably have a baby sometime that day...

I hadn't showered in a couple of days so hopped in the shower at about 3:30 a.m. I hadn't shaved in even longer, so I shaved, too.

I hadn't packed my bag, either. I know. It was August 28th and my due date was August 31st...most people would be packed by then...but I'm not most my mind, as long as I didn't pack my bag, he'd come when I said so...and I wasn't ready to "say so". Silly me...

My girlfriends and I were supposed to enjoy gluten-free treats and pedicures at noon on the 28th so my toe-sies would be cute for delivery...we had to cancel. Let's just say, I hadn't planned ahead, but his room was done, at least...

Anyway, finally at 5:00 a.m. I called our friends, Drew and Gina, and asked if they wanted to wake up at our house. Gina assured me that they did, so once they arrived at 5:45, Jason and I were out the door. Before we left, we told Em that she'd be waking up to Drew and Gina at the house. Yeah, right! She didn't go back to bed...she was WIDE awake!

My contractions were not letting up, still between 2 and a half and 3 minutes apart, but not so intense that I couldn't breathe or talk or walk just fine. The problem is we live 45 minutes from the hospital and I was paranoid with this being my third delivery, of being too far away and having things progress quickly, so we hopped into the car.

On the way I called my Ob/Gyn office, which had an answering service, of course, seeing as how it was the weekend and about 6 o'clock in the morning. I answered a slew of questions and then she informed me that Dr. Who The Heck Knows Who was on call that weekend. It was a third party doctor and I had never heard her name before that moment.

I freaked. Tears started streaming. I told the answering service that I really wanted Mr. Favorite Doctor to at least know I was going to the hospital. She told me to tell the nurses once I got up to the floor. I told myself to breathe.

You see, Mr. Favorite Doctor is the top of the food chain. He's the big cheese in his office and only takes call during the week, during office hours. And, of course, why would my body coordinate natural childbirth during his office hours, right?!

Anyway, we got to the ER to check in and then headed up to the L and D floor. I had drafted texts to about 50 people to let them know we'd be having a baby that day...I waited until most of them were awake on that fine Saturday morning before I hit "send".

...and then we got up to the floor...and the nurse "checked" me...and...

...I was at a "One".


Jason's friend called him for the 411...I gave him the "if looks could kill" look and told him he wasn't allowed to tell anyone I was only at a "One". With Emily I had been at a "One" for a whole month! With Noah I was at a 3 and a half when I walked up to Labor and Delivery and had him 3 hours later.

The nurse was even talking of sending me home. Oh no, baby, I was not going home! I was in labor. I knew I was in labor. But, just so you know, a pregnant lady's definition of labor and the working definition the docs and nurses go by are WAAAAAY

This is where the whole story turns emotional...but this post is entirely too long and I have to go to bed, so I'll have to finish this post when I'm not feeding, pumping, sleeping, or homeschooling...there is more to this story.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


I know I've been MIA...I can't help it. I'm totally smitten and loving it, but dreading it at the same time...Love is complicated. I'm also exhausted getting only 2 and a half hour sleep cycles in each night, but I know that won't last forever. Here are things I love:

  • I love Ryan's peach's dreamy and soft and all over his sweet shoulders, his back and his sweet cheeks. I just can't explain how much I love his fuzz...
  • I love that God designed him to fit perfectly with his soft, fuzzy head cupped in my hands, arms together, with his buns resting perfectly at the fold at my this position I can smooch his face all over.
  • I love that my lips fit perfectly between his fuzzy shoulder and his sweet little ear.
  • I love when I stick my pinky in his hand he actually holds it...his brother never held my hand...ever...
  • I love that he throws punches like a sailor in a bar brawl when he's hungry...and when he burps and toots, he could easily beat out college boys in a competition.
  • I love that he smiles and puckers and smirks and pouts when he's dreaming dreams of who knows what.
  • I love a lot of other things, too, like how much his daddy loves him and wanted to remember his life long friend every day for the rest of his life so blessed him with a great name like Ryan, which means "Joyous King" and a middle name like Everett which means "Brave & Strong".
  • I love that his big sister is so proud of him and wants to hold him and change his buns and snuggle him...even though it's been a big transition for her.
I'm not going to lie. I could make a list of what I hate, too. It's been hard as hell. I've been on an emotional roller coaster, much like the Corkscrew at Cedar Point in Ohio. As much as I love being Ryan's mommy, (I tell him that multiple times throughout the day, "I'm your mommy! I'm your mommy! I'm your mommy!") I'm riding the fence of loving every single little thing he does and staring at every single little thing he does, hoping and praying that he's not like his big brother...

The stress of little sleep and staring to make sure Ryan is okay every other minute have added up a bit and yesterday, as a result, I pumped a whopping 1/8 of an inch of milk, which equals about a half an ounce. Stress and nursing do not go hand in hand, though ironically, they go hand in hand, so I am trying to consciously chill out.

How's that workin' for me?

Well, I'm just taking one day at a time. I'm enjoying the peach fuzz. I'm trying to sneak in snuggle time with my girl as we all adjust to a new schedule. He and I are reading the Psalms and will head into Proverbs soon. I am taking deep breaths, allowing myself to cry and laugh...and just trusting that the love in my heart for my husband, daughter and son is enough to span a lifetime, but meant to be spent one day at a time.

That, I believe, is the most difficult part of being a mommy...the "one day at a time" part...

Em came into the delivery room very shortly after her brother was born. She held him right after Daddy did.
Exhibit A: Peach Fuzz
Em decorated the house and put up streamers that she wanted me to cut, like at the Chamber of Commerce. Pretty darn cute, I'd say!

He is literally just that sweet!

Em and I were cracking up, commentating what we thought Ryan was thinking...we're going to make a video and post it...stay tuned.
My friend wrapped him up like little bunny foo foo.
The sweetest big sister eh-ver.

Em bought that little monkey for her brother when I first told her I was pregnant. She is pretty much the best big sister in the whole wide world. It's been quite an adjustment for her, but she has been very gracious. I am really, really proud of her. I think she's proud of him, too.