Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Some New Projects

After four months of letting my machine sit idle, I finally had the energy and motivation to whip it out yesterday and get something done.
I took large new washcloths and cut them into fourths and hemmed around them to make baby washcloths.  Washcloths are a must for every mom and make a cute, but inexpensive gift!  I did 8 in about an hour!
I got super inspired by my bright fabric scraps and made this little skirt with matching headband and socks on a whim, without a pattern, to give to my cousin Amy, for her first baby, Sofia, who is coming in July.
I had promised a couple of cousins some leather shoes for their babies. 
I had a really hard time going around the lines on the dolphins so they turned out looking kind of rough....ooops!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

3 Months

Obviously, there is no bump yet, but I share these to show the beginning of the process...
....and the ravages of morning, noon, and night sickness.

Don't ya love my "I'm trying not to puke" look?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tasty Grace

Yesterday I talked about the encouragement a special lady at my church gave me during this season of sickness.  Well yesterday I got another heaping dose of grace in the form of this cute package!

Remember my uber-creative and hardworking friend Jenny?
She must have read my blog post on tips for coping with morning sickness, because she put together this wonderful package filled with all of my best anti-nausea goodies....
.....complete with a homemade banana-cream pie (with marshmallows and chocolate on the bottom)!
Totally unexpected and wonderful!
It definitely got a thumbs up from Justus!

The neat thing was that this food came at the perfect time.  After 3 days of feeling really great during the day and only throwing up at night (yes, one of the times was WHILE driving!), and thinking my nausea was mostly gone, I had a really awful day yesterday of feeling super nauseous and having a bile-burnt throat that caused swallowing to be difficult and everything I ate to taste like bile.  I was trying all of my desperation remedies yesterday with no success and wondering how I would make it through Ali's first-ever soccer game yesterday night.  I realized that when I was feeling good earlier this week, I was trying to do so much on my own and didn't remember to lean on God's strength because my body felt so amazing.  When I felt awful it pushed me to my knees quickly!  I was begging God to help me make it through the day, telling Him how tired I was of being sick, and how much I needed Him to carry me through it.  And within minutes the pie and goodies showed up!  The emotional boost helped to feel physically a bit better and the bubble gum enabled me to make it through the soccer night, only gagging once during the game, which Ali's team won!
God is so faithful!
Thank you Jenny for being used of God to bless a friend!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A New Skirt

One of the sweetest gals at our church, named Elizabeth, presented me with this new skirt a couple of weeks ago.
She knows I love long skirts, and she and her two daughters, who had come to the Modesty Night I did for teen girls, thought it was a great "modest" skirt to give me to thank me for doing the Modesty Night.
They also knew I'd be thrilled that they had found it at a thrift store in a bigger city, brand-new with the tags still on it, for only $3!!!  Little did they know it's in my color scheme too, with the pink side being "my best colors" for spring and the teals and browns being "my best colors" for fall.
It's very lightweight for hot summer weather, but dual-layered so it's not see-through and it's two skirts in one!

Some broomstick-style skirts are very un-flattering on my figure but this one, in spite of all the cool, crazy colors, is actually slenderizing!  And Elizabeth thought it would be perfect for the pre-maternity clothing stage, and post-pregnancy stage where it can be tough to find things that fit!
So, all of this to say, this is my new favorite skirt....I'll be wearing it often!
I'm so blessed by Elizabeth's encouragement through my time of sickness.  She knows very well what it's like, having suffered for 9 months with each of her 4 children!  (That's 3 years of her life spent nauseous!)  I received the skirt on a day when I was feeling extremely sick and very hopeless emotionally.  It was a blessing!  Her family also bought us a Dominos coupon card, which allows us to get a free pizza every time we order, which is very nice because I find myself craving pizza a lot, and was unable to cook much during my time of sickness.  Elizabeth's example of blessing others and serving those around her, time and time again, inspires me.  I hope to reach out and help young ladies who are struggling with severe pregnancy nausea throughout my lifetime.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Great Idea!

I love the blog Life as Mom.  This amazing mother of 6 has an endless supply of recipes, tips, and homeschooling ideas.  This idea is incredible!  In fact, I was going to blog on having a park backpack handy in the van for spontaneous outings but she beat me to it and did a wonderful job.  So, read her post for some ideas on how to stay prepared for all the spring and summer outings.

Lovin' My Little People Recap #3

Our kiddoes with their Boppa and Grammy (my folks).

#21: Shared one of my yummy treats with the kiddoes even though I really didn't want to. After all, if I expect them to share, I should share too!
#22: Loving my kiddoes means teaching them to work HARD, which is a rare thing in today's world. After schoolwork we are going to work on spring cleaning! I wish someone would invent a floor that mops itself to perfection every single day!
#23: Going to sit each child down on my lap and tell them 10 things I love about them.
#24: Making a treasure hunt for the kids with little clues that Alathia can read in order to find the treasure at the end.
#25: Took my kids to the park to run off some energy and play with friends.
#26: Reading aloud to kiddoes is so important. Time to load up with a fresh bunch of books from the library today!
#27: Took the kids to the local grocery store's 50th celebration for games, balloons, free samples, hot dogs, and prizes. They won a cake in the cake walk!
 #28: Got the kids some little gifts that I know will bless them. For A: paper and a box of envelopes (so she'll stop asking to use my computer paper and envelopes) For Jer: a little bug house for collecting bugs and studying them For Just: A shovel for digging in the dirt.
#29: Packing a picnic for them and going to the park at 11 a.m.  My "Weather Man" hubby assures me this is the day to do it this week.
 #30: If my kiddoes expect to get 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, they have to do their chores. No snack until they clean up their things. Love involves preparing your child for adulthood. (2 Thessalonians 3:10 "If a man will not work, he shall not eat.")
#31: Hug 'em. Kiss 'em. Teach them. Train them. Point them to Truth. Affirm them. Encourage them. Special treats and projects sometimes. Quality AND quantity time. Boundaries and consequences. Being thankful for them.

To see #11-20 go here.
To see #1-10 go here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Morning, Noon, and Night Sickness--The Real Deal--Part Three

We've talked about the various kinds of morning sickness, and I've shared some thoughts from women who have experienced it.  Now we are going to talk about ways to cope with hypermesis gravidarum, or extreme pregnancy nausea.  Warning:  This is a lengthy post!

Medical Options
If you aren't really sick, you may be able to get by with some of the non-medicinal remedies.  If you are very sick, I would go to the doctor right away and see what is available for you.  Granted, doctors vary in their response.  Some offer help and prescriptions right away while some just give you unhelpful tips and tell you it will soon be over.  But it's worth checking to see if you can get some help.  Sometimes, with the worst cases, nothing will help, but there are lots of different anti-nause remedies to try, so hopefully SOMETHING will work.  Some of the commonly prescribed ones are: Zofran, Compazine, Tigan or the antihistamine Phenergan.  In Canada, Dicletin is commonly prescribed.

The medicine I have found to be most helpful personally is Unisom, or rather, doxylamine, an antihistamine originally marketed as a nausea drug, but now used as a sleeping pill because of it's drowsy effects.  Generic doxylamine works just as well as the name-brand Unisom Nighttime Sleeping Aid.  Some women are advised to take this with vitamin B6 and some take it, with success, during the day.  However, all vitamins make me feel even worse in the first trimester and taking a sleeping pill during the day totally knocked me out and left me unable to function as a mom.  So, it wasn't until I started taking JUST Unisom, and only at night that I noticed results from it.  My body is very sensitive to medicines and so taking 1/2 a pill (and the pills are tiny to begin with) seems to help me immensely.  After a super-nauseous day I will sometimes take 3/4 of a pill that night for the next day, but I notice I am a bit more groggy the following day.  Friends of mine who are not super sensitive to medicines take a full pill at night, which is still considered very safe for pregnancy.  I recommend taking it about an hour before you plan to go to bed and the sleepiness effects seem to wear off within 8-10 hours but the anti-nausea effect last about 18 hours.  I experimented one night with NOT taking my Unisom and I did feel a bit more energetic the next morning and got a lot accomplished but I could not stop dry heaving and gagging all day long!  I almost lost everything I ate and was dying for night to come so I could take my next pill.  So, it definitely helps me in a big way!  If you find yourself less nauseous, perhaps 1/4 or 1/3 of a pill would do the trick for you without leaving you too sleepy-feeling the next day.  If you are very nauseous try a whole pill at first.
Unfortunately, doxylamine doesn't work for everyone.  So, if it doesn't help, please check with your doctor about other options you could try to get some relief.

*Those of you who are nervous about meds in pregnancy, like I am, who want to go the most natural route possible are free to try other options first and consult your medical practitioners.  I'm not a doctor and I don't know your individual situation.  But I do share about Unisom here because it has helped me so much and is widely used by many women, so if you are at the end of your rope with nausea, it could be something that helps you.*

Non-Medical Coping Techniques

Some friends of mine who have 5 and 8 children, respectively, have suggested sea bands and probiotics to help curb nausea/stomach upset in pregnancy.  I tried both of these this time around.  In fact, I'm wearing the sea bands even now as I type.  I'm not sure whether or not either of these options have helped much, but they are worth trying, even if they only ease the nausea a little bit.

Preggie Pops, lollipops designed for women with morning sickness, do help a little bit when I'm at peak-nausea and don't feel like eating anything or don't have anything on hand that sounds appealing.  Certain flavors are better than others, but they are worth a try to keep in your purse for those emergency situations when you are running errands and dry heaving in your van.  I've also tried B-Natals but didn't like them quite as much as Preggie Pops.


What helps you will often depend on your background, what's available, what you love and consider a "comfort" drink.  Lemonade is something I gravitate toward in pregnancy, with fresh-squeezed being best, but since really sweet things make me the most sick, I water it down or omit the sugar.  Carbonated lemon water, or fresh-squeezed lemon in either icy water, or warm water have been lifesavers when I'm having a severe nausea-attack.

I really enjoy green tea, and though some sites warn against drinking much green tea in pregnancy, Tazo Green Ginger with Pear green tea has been about the only tea I can drink right now.  I've tried a variety of lemon and lemon ginger teas, but this one is my favorite and my "go-to" drink when I'm most miserable in the evenings.

If you can get a smoothie down, they can be a great way to get fruits and veggies in when you don't feel up to eating them whole or eating much at all.  Iced fruit smoothies or Lime Rickies often sound good to me when I'm pregnant.

When you suffer from morning, noon, and night sickness, drink whatever sounds good.  Some people say fresh-squeezed orange juice helps, but I have found the acidity of it makes me feel more sick.  So, go with what sounds good to you.  If you are like me and can't tolerate sweet juices, try watered-down cranberry juice.  I haven't had trouble drinking some milk so long as I have something to eat with it.  So, when we have pizza, which is VERY often, I drink milk with it.

Though lots of folks recommend ginger ale and/or Sprite for nausea, the high amount of sugar in it has made it difficult for me to drink.  So, not sweetened carbonated beverages are better for me.

Raspberry Leaf Tea, which I drank faithfully when pregnant with Ali, seems to help some women with nausea.

Ginger root tea--grate fresh ginger into a pot and boil with water for a while and then strain the ginger out and drink the tea, hot or cold.  It has a strong taste, so I have mixed it with cranberry juice or added lemon slices to make it more drink-able.  Ginger has well-known anti-nausea effects so this is one you're going to want to try for those desperate moments.


What are my "life-saver" foods that I eat when I am at peak nausea?  Tiny dill pickles often help kick the nausea for a few minutes.  If I'm trying to prepare a food but my stomach is angrily churning and unwilling to wait, a little pickle will really help until the food is ready. 

Saltine crackers aren't a cure for people with HG or bad morning sickness but they do help.  I find them to be MOST helpful when I make little sandwiches of them, putting chunky peanut butter or cheddar cheese in the middle.  On their own, sometimes they make a churning stomach worse.  But adding protein with them really helps them calm a tummy down.

Proteins have helped me the most.  I've read extensively that both proteins and carbs fight nausea.  While salty crackers or pretzels, wheat bread, and baked potatoes do help at times, the greatest relief comes from some hard-core protein.  I'm not usually a big meat-eater, but when I'm pregnant I tend to want steak more.  I have found that little chunks of steak or grilled chicken that are seasoned well give the Stomach Monster something substantial to gnaw on for a while.  If you are in a truly desperate place with nausea, try making up a bunch of steaks and cut them into tiny bites and have them ready in the fridge.  A few bites here and there throughout the day help keep your stomach happier than he would be without them!  I can't stand hot dogs, but I love veggie dogs, prepared just like a hot dog.  One day I was really hungry for them so I bought them.  It turns out that 2 veggie dogs have 16g of protein, whereas the all-beef hot dogs my hubby was eating had only 10 g per 2!

My friend Lora recommended I try Carnation Instant Breakfast drink because of the high protein.  I can't find a flavor other than chocolate and right now chocolate is the last thing my body wants (but when I'm not preggo it's the FIRST thing I want!)  If you can stomach it, it's a good idea.  In past pregnancies I have drank Boost shakes, because I was losing so much weight and needed the calories and vitamins they offered.  I've tried the Odwalla protein fruit drink but it had around 30g of sugar per bottle.  So, even though it provided 18g of protein, the sickly sweet taste left me horribly nauseous.

Good proteins to have on hand:
*If you can stomach them, eggs, fixed however you like them are a good snack
*Cheese sticks of different kinds--cheddar cubes, string cheese sticks, provolone slices, etc.
*Chunky peanut butter--I eat this straight from the can when my blood sugar starts to swing down and leave me feeling faint
*Peanuts, almonds, sunflower kernels, pumpkin seeds, etc.  Nibble on them throughout the day
*Some women swear that beans really help them curb nausea.  If you can keep them down, try refried beans with cheese, either alone or on tortilla chips.  Try making mild chili or bean salad to see if they help.
*Fish isn't something I can usually handle in the first trimester but if you can, try a tuna-sandwich or grilled salmon for a protein boost.
*Yogurt--if sweets bother you, you'll want to go with plain yogurt and add a little bit of fresh or frozen fruit in rather than buying the sugar-loaded store varieties.

Other snacks that help me sometimes:
Sour gummy bears
Dill or Vinegar flavored potato chips
Green apple slices
Fresh fruit of various kinds and berries
Big Red gum or Bubblicious Watermelon Bubble Gum

Comfort Foods

Certain things appeal when you are sick.  Maybe your mom always made you red Jell-o and chicken noodle soup when you had the flu.  Your body may crave those things simply because you have memories of comfort with them.  Here is a list of foods that have really comforted me this time through my sickness.  I still felt horrible AFTER eating them but going down they provided some relief.

Creamy mashed potatoes
Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken brocolli rice casserole
Cream of wheat (made one bowl at a time in the microwave)
Wild rice casserole (my mom made for part of the Easter meal)
Banana cream pie
Homemade, warm-from-the-oven bread with butter
Butterhorn rolls
Favorites from local restaurants:
Cheddar cheese bagels with cream cheese
Cheese mix sandwiches at the sub shop
Dominos or Pizza Hut (I'm almost always hungry for pizza, so that's what we eat about 30% of the time!)

Eat whatever sounds good at the moment, even if it as weird as fish sticks and cheesecake.  This may mean lots of trips to the store for you or your hubby but it's truly the way to survive bad nausea.  If you can't get to the store easily, then buy a large assortment of things to have on hand so you can "shop at home" for something that might sound good.  I have found that instead of doing one grocery trip a week where I spend all of my money it is wise for me to spend $10-$20 at a time and save some for each day or two so I can buy things as I get hungry for them, including Dominos or McDonalds, etc.

Other ideas for coping with debilitating sickness:

1.  Wear a mask or bandana around your nose when changing diapers or taking out the trash.  If your hubby is home, ask him to do these chores for a while.  If you must do it, have a barf bucket handy and try not to breathe!
2.  Get plenty of rest.  Being tired can exacerbate nausea.  Get enough sleep so that you want to get up and greet the day in the morning.  For some this will be 8 hours, for others 11 or more.  If you have the option of napping, (first time moms!) take as many naps as you can!
3.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  Don't be afraid to step back from certain commitments if you need to for a time.  If you have the means to hire a mother's helper to babysit or help you once-a-week or a once-a-day, do it!
4.  Find a good balance of staying busy, but not too busy.  Being too busy can push your body to it's limits and cause your blood sugar to crash or cause you to be extra-nauseous.  But then again, never going out on playdates or planning anything can leave you feeling despondent.  I continue to attend Bible Study and have gone to a few baby/bridal showers recently, and enjoy taking Ali to soccer and all of the kids to the park for playdates but we have cut out all of our usual walks and a lot of our errand-running because of my fatigue.
5.  If you are planning on becoming pregnant and think you will be sick, stock the freezer the day that test comes back positive.  I had planned on doing this, and the funny thing was, even though it was a totally unexpected pregnancy, I found out the day I was doing my March once-a-month cooking so I was still able to do it, even though it was a surprise.  Having a fully stocked freezer is a good way to start.  If you can't do the OAMC right away, then fill the freezer with frozen meals from the stores.  They aren't quite as good, but they are better than nothing and will keep your family from starving!
6.  Cook when you feel your best.  Because the Unisom is still in full effect in the morning, I feel least nauseous in the morning and most nauseous from 4-11pm.  So, my pattern has been to make a bigger meal for lunch, such as a freezer meal or something, and then we eat those leftovers for dinner.  I rarely, rarely cook in the evenings anymore.
7.  Survival Mode--It's not fun to let the house go to pot and the dishwasher sit idle and the laundry pile up and the floors get stickier, but during a season of nausea, all you can do is survive.  So, if that means PB and J sandwiches or Dominos for supper 5 days in a row and that the bathroom hasn't been cleaned in weeks and the sheets don't get changed on the beds, it's okay.  Do stuff as you can.  Sometimes I have the motivation and desire to stop just surviving and to mop and vacuum and get all the laundry done, but then I'm pooped out and have to take it easy the next day.  So, do what you can and just try to make it through.
8.  Good smells.  Light candles that have good (but not overpowering and heavy) scents, put lotion or body spray on that you like (here is the kind I use), have a bar of lavender, sage or pine soap handy so you can grab it and smell it when you have a nausea attack, take the trash out as much as possible (esp. diapers) to keep the house smelling fresh, and use reed diffusers to keep your rooms smelling fresh.  I normally don't use fabric softener but I can't tolerate the strange smell of my clean laundry anymore so I'm going to buy some Downy Lavendar scented dryer sheets tomorrow to help curb the smells.
9.  Avoid vitamins.  Your doctor may tell you otherwise, so do what you feel comfortable with.  In 4 pregnancies, I have seen how sick any kind of vitamin makes me, from Flinstones, to organic whole-food prenatals, to doctor-prescribed prenatals, to Emergen-C packets, etc.  I can choke them down in the 2nd and 3rd trimester, with food, and usually keep them down but they ALWAYS come up in the 1st trimester.  So, I have personally chosen to avoid going through extra barfing by not taking them.  I try to get some fruits and veggies and juices down along with my proteins during this intense season since I know vitamins and minerals are very important, but I don't worry too much about it because people have survived for centuries without vitamins.

Feel free to chime in with any tips you may have for morning, noon, and night sickness survival in the comments!

Friday, April 16, 2010


Justus is the sunshine of our family, but he's also Mr. Michevious.  Every time we turn around he has my debit card, my grocery money, a butcher knife, scissors (which he calls "haircut"), matches, or a glass cup.
The other day we caught him eating a dry cake mix in the kitchen. 
He was so proud of himself.
Another story to tell....both here....and to his own kids someday!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Morning, Noon, and Night Sickness--The Real Deal--Part Two

These are real-life snapshots of life with severe nausea from my own experiences as well as those of several of my friends:

"I threw up 10x a day for 6 months straight with my son."

"My body was in starvation mode.  I had to get IV's continually just to stay alive."

"I always wondered if people thought I was drunk and hungover, because I'd be puking all over the driveway or having to stop the car and pull over to open the door and throw up, and I didn't look at all pregnant."

"I've had to interrupt conversations and also rush off in the middle of work to throw-up."

"Nothing worked for me.  You name it, I've tried it.  There was no medicine that took it away."

"I lost an entire meal when my husband gave me a goodnight kiss on the cheek."

"Even while relaxing in the bathtub I couldn't stop throwing up uncontrollably."

"I feel like a black cloud has covered my life, and I can't see a light at the end of the tunnel."

"I avoid going to the doctor in the first trimester because nothing they say helps me and I usually lose so much weight I just get lectures on how I need to eat more anyhow.  As if I can stop the nausea and gain weight!"

"My kids imitate me throwing up and/or laugh and think it's either really funny or really scary and they look like they are going to cry."

"I could not take a single sip of water or sprite without heaving uncontrollably for hours. Then I was so weak I couldn't move."

"I feel like a shell of a person.  I don't fix my hair, I don't smile anymore.  I don't have the energy to do my hobbies anymore.  All I do is lay around and throw up."

"I have begged my loved ones to get a gun and put me out of my misery."

"I haven't had a good, home-cooked meal in weeks.  I've never purchased or fed my kids so much junk in all of my life."

"YUCK, I am SO TIRED of the nausea and blinding headaches. I feel like a truck ran over me and I look like crap every day. I'm lucky if I get out of my pajamas."

"I end up in my bed a lot and watch a lot of TV in order to escape the misery. I know it's not the greatest lifestyle but I just don't know what else to do with myself sometimes because I feel so horrible."

"I can't stop eating the same thing, over and over again, because it's the only thing that sounds good.  So, I will have 10 meals in a row of chicken casserole or pizza everyday for a month."

"I'm getting quite depressed because I am so sick of feeling sick. I just want some relief. I'm praying for it to end soon."

"I sometimes get the idea that nobody out there understands anything about morning, noon, and night sickness and thinks I'm just trying to soak up attention or get out of responsibilities. I hate it because I would give anything to feel good and be busy and accomplishing things like I used to before this hit me. It's not like just a passing cold where you suffer through it and go about your day -- it's debilitating nausea that makes you just want to crawl into bed but you can't because you have kids to take care of. It's so hard!"

"I've always wanted to have a beanpole body.  I finally got it, at the price of eating one piece of toast or less a day, which was all I could stomach.  I finally realized that I wasn't made to be that thin and that I'd rather be myself and eat healthily and not have nausea than be a skeleton who couldn't eat anything."

"Even though I haven't been pregnant for a couple of years, pregnancy nausea ruined me so badly that if I smell a certain thing in the morning that used to make me throw up while pregnant, I get nauseous, even now."

"I weep over my kids at night when I watch them sleeping peacefully or when I hold a newborn baby because it reminds me that there is a reward for all of this suffering."

"I feel so selfish when I'm pregnant.  My whole day revolves around finding things for myself to eat to survive the day.  I can hardly keep up with my kids' needs and I don't have the strength to do anything but lie on the couch once they are in bed.  I can't cook meals or tend to my husband's needs.  I hate being the one always being served instead of serving him."

"I feel like slapping the next person who tells me to eat a few Saltines and then my nausea will go away."

"I can't imagine going through this again.  I feel like there is no possible way I could endure this another time."

"I've been tempted to consider abortion as a way out of my endless sickness.  Then I feel bad, because I know it's murder.  Then I wonder if other women have had abortions because of hypermesis.  And I think about how we can help them to get through this so they don't think abortion is the only answer."

"I couldn't go off of Unisom my entire 9 months.  If so, I'd be running out of my client's homes, throwing up in their bushes."

"I break down crying often because I just don't think I can take another day of being constantly nauseous.  I'm at the end of my rope."

Putting it into numbers:

My pregnant friend has thrown up about 500 times in the last month and a half.  Even 1/4 of 500 is way too much.  Can you imagine?

I have dry heaved/gagged/thrown up somewhere between 300-400 times in the last 6 weeks.

I have spent 540 hours in the last 6 weeks feeling like I'm going to throw up.  That's 32,400 minutes of feeling miserable.

99% of everything I eat leaves a bad after-taste, churning in my stomach, and nauseous feeling.

One woman's story of life with severe 9-month-long hypermesis gravidarum:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Morning, Noon, and Night Sickness--The Real Deal--Part One

I've always appreciated candor.  I heard plenty of pithy, inspirational speeches at graduation but the one speech that stuck with me over the years was the hard core speech by a southern preacher friend of ours who shared how excruciatingly hard life would be--but that God is faithful through it all.  Lots of gals, who have forgotten childbirth over the passage of time or whom had 20 minute labors (that's right, Mom!) told me that it just feels like big menstrual cramps, but I sure appreciated the gal who laid the gory details out on the table for me as a young woman so that I prepared well for pain management in natural childbirth, which by the way did NOT feel like a bad case of menstrual cramps!

But no one prepared me for the horrors of morning, noon, and night sickness.  That's not because no one cared, or remembered having had it.  It's just a topic that didn't come up in our family until I had it, and none of my relatives or friends really dealt with it that were close to me in my first pregnancy.  Believe it or not, I'd rather go through two labor and deliveries per child if it meant I could skip the morning, noon, and night sickness.  Labor, however intense, is over in a day or two, and nausea lasts anywhere from 60-270 days.  It is one of the most difficult experiences of my life, and yet there are so few resources out there to help those of us going through it.  So, I wanted to write this little series on morning, noon, and night sickness survival to encourage those of you who are in the midst of it, "I feel your pain!", and as a reference for those of you who may someday find yourself going through this and wonder how you will ever survive.

First of all, let's go into definitions.  Morning sickness, inappropriately named since it can occur at any time of the day or night, is very common in pregnant women and is typically managed with small, frequent snacks, extra rest, ginger ale and saltine crackers, etc.  Statistics say that around 70 or 80% of pregnant women experience some morning sickness.  For some this may mean a bout or two of queasiness, throwing up once or twice, and having a strange taste in their mouth or some gagging or feeling the need to eat often, etc. 

But a small percentage of those women who have morning sickness will experience hypermesis gravidarum.  Wikipedia says: Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a severe form of morning sickness, with "unrelenting, excessive pregnancy-related nausea and/or vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids."   Hyperemesis is considered a rare complication of pregnancy but, because nausea and vomiting during pregnancy exist on a continuum, there is often not a good diagnosis between common morning sickness and hyperemesis.

Some medical sites I have seen diagnose HG cases as women who end up in the hospital, needing IVs who are in starvation mode and cannot keep anything down, including water.  I have never ended up in the hospital, thank the Lord, and have not vomited that relentlessly, thanks to my anti-nause medicine.  I do have friends who have though, and it was not at all pleasant for them.  But according to Wikipedia's list of symptoms of HG, I do have hypermesis gravidarum.  Some of you have had, or will have, much worse cases than I have, and I am very sorry for that.  HG is an awful experience, and depression is often a secondary cause of HG.

So, in my morning, noon, night sickness series, I want you to be aware that I am not speaking to the Saltine Cracker Brigade who can munch a little square of cracker bliss and find themselves cured of nausea.  I'm speaking to the women who are suffering from hypermesis or are close to it.  I'm speaking to the gals who have tried everything and for whom nothing works.  The gals who are desperate for some hope, who feel as though they are starving, for those who feel like they've had the stomach flu for 2 or 3 months straight, for those who can't go anywhere without a snack and a barf bag.  Those who can barely peel themselves off of the floor, those who hug the toliet or carry the barf bucket on a regular basis, those who are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

May you find some help and some hope in this series.  You are not alone.

Coming Topics:

Part Two--Life with Severe Pregnancy Nausea
Part Three--Methods for Coping
Part Four--Emotional Helps

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blessing Others Through Celebration--The Gift Stash

I love my gift stash! 
A good gift stash is the key to staying on top of all of the gifts
that a busy mom needs throughout the year!
I've labeled the various components of my gift stash. (Click on the pic to see it bigger if you have trouble reading the labels).
Throughout the year I will pick up things that are great deals that I think my family, friends,
extended family, etc. will like and keep them in one of these boxes.  If the gift doesn't fit in one of the boxes, it will probably go in the lower part of the closet or under my bed.
The Christmas box also tends to hold adult gifts.
Since I only get to a Bath n' Body works once a year, I may stock up and keep things like little lotions or pretty stationary from the Dollar Tree in the Christmas box, but these things can be used for friend's birthdays or bridal shower prizes, etc.  My favorite places to stock up on gift stash stuff:  the Target dollar section, Health Food Store clearances, Dollar Tree, Yard Sales.
My hubby's side of the closet, which contains the remainder of the gift stash.
The kid gift box contains little gifts that I pick up with my kids or their friends in mind (usually on clearance or new from yard sales).  There are usually crayons, markers (from super-cheap back-to-school sales), notebooks, sunglasses, craft kits, books, etc.  If we get invited to a last-minute party, we have a gift ready!  We usually let our kids help us buy or make a gift for their closest friends but then we add something from this stash that we know they would like also.  This stash is really handy for special surprises to bless one of my kids that has been especially good or for grabbing some little things to wrap up for long trips in the car to MN, etc.
When guys we know from MN come out snowmobiling in the winter, I often grab little gifts out of here to send back with them for my nephews just to spoil them!
I save the many large paintings that Ali does and keep them handy for wrapping paper.
My gift bag stash!  I save all of the gift bags others give us and because I was running low recently, I bought some from the dollar store (2 for $1) and also from Walmart (10 for $5) to beef up my stash.
I have about 6-8 showers/parties coming up in the next couple of months.  I've never seen such a baby boom as this year!  So, I put all of the gifts together the other day and got them all wrapped and ready.  Here they sit, on the top of my dresser, awaiting their delivery.  A few that I'll be giving this week sit next to my night stand by my bed.
An extra-large empty formula can I had in my container stash becomes an interesting way to wrap a baby boy's gift!
My container stash sits in the pantry next to a stack of shoeboxes, which I also use for gift-giving
I save all kinds of little containers.  Blueberry boxes, frappiccino bottles, jelly jars, tins, etc.
Some of the larger containers that go on top of the box pictured above
A wedding gift for a friend's upcoming bridal shower, containing a marriage devotional book, some shower gel and body wash, massage oil, etc.
If I have a lot of weddings coming up I will stock up on a favorite marriage book (like Love and Respect) or some Taste of Home cookbooks (which can be found for excellent deals online) and throughout the year I look for lingerie clearances and bodywash that can be obtained for free with coupons!  One of my favorite things to tuck into a Lingerie Shower gift is a pregnancy test from the Dollar Tree.  Funny thing is, my roommate from college just sent the test I gave her for her shower back to me in a ziploc bag, with a positive test result!  She's due one day after me!  She included a note that said, "Here's the test you gave me for my wedding shower.  It worked!"
From my baby gift stash:
I stock up on winter hats when they are on 75% sales at the end of the season.  Little boys can be hard to buy for, but these make really cute, personalized gifts!  I made my own boys some a couple of years ago and we love them!  When I'm unsure of what to get a baby boy, I go with one of these hats and some wet wipes, diapers, or a little outfit.
Little girl hats were also on a good sale!
Throughout the year I pick up really cute clothing at rock-bottom sale prices or new-with-tags at yard sales or the thrift store.  I have a nice collection of baby outfits (although the fact that I know 42 gals having babies in 2010, 21 of whom I will be giving gifts, is depleting it rapidly!) and baby things to choose from.  Some people think that shopping from a gift stash isn't very personal and is tacky.  But if you stop to consider how few options we have anyway in our rural area, my "baby store" in my closet is probably better stocked than the local Pamida and Alco, with higher-quality products, a better deal for the recipient, at excellent prices for me, a better deal for me!  When I'm putting together a gift, I honestly consider what outfit would look best on the baby, what fits the family's style, and I don't give something that I wouldn't be thrilled to receive myself.  Certain products I have loved as a mom, like Huggies Sensitive Wet Wipes, or mesh baby feeders, or Sandra Boynton books, or Aveeno lotion are things I look for deals on so that I can stock up my baby stash with things that I can highly recommend to any new mom.  And I can't resist buying darling little Easter and Christmas dresses on $1-$3 clearance at the end of the season to await the next friend that has a little girl!

How to Start Building a Gift Stash

Yard Sale season is almost here!  Take $5 a week and hit up a few yard sales, particularly ones that advertise baby clothing.  If you don't find anything, go by the Dollar Tree or Target, if you have one in your area, and pick up a few packages of notecards, coloring books for kids, etc.  Each time you are shopping, check the store's clearance racks and buy a few things that are great deals.  If you continually add to your "store at home" by only spending $3-$5 a week, you will find it a snap to put together gifts for others throughout the year.  If you don't have the time to add little by little, my advice would be to take about $200 and place a large order on http://www.amazon.com/  or http://www.christianbook.com/ stocking up on favorite marriage books,  cookbooks, favorite children's stories, devotionals or journals, and favorite board books for babies.  If you have the money to spend, this is a hassle-free way to make sure you always have gifts ready for a variety of occasions!

Another way to beef up a gift stash, if you like crafting, is to take a day or two to craft and sew and make all kinds of gifts to put in your stash.  Some ideas include:
Hair bows and hair puffs
Bead Socks
Ruffle Socks
Ruffle Skirts
Crocheted dishrags
Tote bags
Cloth books
Rice bags
Fleece scarves, hats, socks, and mittens
Leather baby shoes
Rag quilts
Fleece tie quilts
Boxer shorts

To see the rest of the series on Blessing Others Through Celebration, go here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bearing Fruit in Difficult Times

I'm in the midst of one of the most difficult stages of my life.  Granted, many of you have faced much worse in your day and I mourn with you, but it's still tough for me to make it through each and every day.
My Bible study group has been doing Loving God with all of your Mind by Elizabeth George this year.  It is an excellent study!  Every week the chapter seems to fit my life circumstances perfectly.  The last two chapters we covered were on "Enduring Difficult Times" and "Bearing Fruit in Difficult Times."  I want to share here the formula she came up with for getting through trials.  It's based on the Israelites' captivity, described in Jeremiah 29.

A-Acknowledge God's Hand
B-Bloom Where You are Planted
C-Count on God's Promises
D-Do Something Useful

The next chapter then explores the circumstances of the apostle Paul and Joseph and also modern-day saints like Madam Guyon, Mrs. Studd, and Hudson Taylor.  She talks about doing God's will in hard times.  What is God's will?
1. Delight yourself in Him
2.  Indulge yourself in God's Word
3.  Commit yourself to the Lord

So, how does this apply to my situation?

A-God allowed me to experience morning sickness for a reason.  He will not give me more than I can handle.  He has not left me without the grace to endure this trial.  He is with me and He has a purpose in this.
B-I'm a wife, mother, friend, daughter, niece, aunt, sister, mentor, etc.  I have many tasks throughout the day.  I need to focus on fulfilling the responsibilities I have to the best of my ability.
C-I need to write some encouraging promises from the Bible on index cards and post them around the house.  I need to listen to more praise music and my SEEDS CDs more often to remind myself of God's presence with me.
D-Even when I'm constantly nauseous, I can find ways to move through one tiny task at a time and also to encourage others.  Send folks a little card or just a facebook message, praise my kids for their heartfelt efforts at being Mama's big helpers, call a sick grandparent, pray for a family that's enduring difficult times, write a blog post to inspire others, help plan a baby shower, etc.  I may not be able to tackle the huge pile of laundry today, but I can throw one load in this morning and maybe one in this afternoon.  I can't keep the house spotless, but I can put the dishes in the dishwasher, and then rest, knowing the kitchen is a little cleaner.  I can read many stories to little ones on my lap or just sit and watch videos of their favorite animals on youtube with them.  One minute, one little task at a time.

I need to commit each day to the Lord, remembering that my true satisfaction comes in Him, not in being physically healthy.  I need to indulge myself in His Word, showing my kids that it is a huge priority in my life, and make time to teach them the Word and read it to them at mealtimes.

May God bless you and be with you in the midst of your difficulties right now.  I'd love to hear about them in the comments so I can pray for you.  Please keep me in your prayers as well, that the sickness would end very soon!

Friday, April 9, 2010

8 years ago today a nervous young guy popped the question and I said yes.
The next morning I made him Y-E-S pancakes in the school cafeteria for breakfast.
He got thrown in the lake 3 days later (a college tradition for engaged guys)...brrrr.
What an adventure life has been since then!
(Sometimes I make him Y-E-S pancakes, just for fun!)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Romans 8:28 and Waiting To See What God Does

 Photo credit: Amanda Kastner

"They've accepted our offer!"
That's a first for us, with our low budget in a high-priced town.
Only problem is...there is another family first in line....
They're buying the house.
So....the only way we'll get the house...
is if their financing falls through.

In our town, a starter home will run you at least $150,000 for a 2-bedroom. 
We obviously need more room than that.
This is a 5+ bedroom home (with 2,600 sq. feet) for $145,000...
....and it just needs some deep cleaning, new carpets, and painting.
 And, it's close to my folks' house, and the park, and not in the slums
(which is where our budget usually takes us).

Today, I was driving home from the grocery store, thinking about the house....
.....thinking about the way God works....
.....thinking about the way He always takes such good care of us....
.....and how He gave us our minivan....
....and the increases to our income with each child that arrived....
....and I know He is good...
even when we can't see what's around the next bend.

Our SEEDS CD was playing, and as He always does,
God spoke to me through the verses set to song.

All things
work together
for the good of those
who love the Lord

And I'm reminded...
That a year from now...
We will look back and see...
That He has always been faithful...
....and gave us exactly what we needed....
but not necessarily what we wanted.

And I will not give in to the temptation to blame my Josiah
Who wasn't ready to buy when our realtor called us...
Two months ago and told us to jump on this deal...
Because we weren't ready then...
And God's timing is perfect...
...and he is a wise man to be cautious.

So, we wait, wanting God to be glorified in our uncertainty....
Knowing that He's never late....
And He'll bring things to pass in His perfect timing.

UPDATE:  Mid-may, much to our amazement, our realtor called and said the house was ours if we wanted it.  We could not believe it!  It was an emotional day!  The folks who were going to buy it had had things fall through, due to some dishonesty on their part, and we had first dibs!

On June 28th, we signed the paperwork to make it legally ours, after weeks of paperwork, planning, arrangements, etc.  On July 3rd, we move in to our "mansion."  I asked God to give us a house someday that we can use to bless others.  My aunt does this with her extra bedroom and bathroom and opens her home to travelers (like us), family, friends, missionaries, pastors, etc.  I never expected God to give us so much space so soon....this very year!!!  We are hoping to use this home to bless others, welcome many friends over for meals and visits, and share with folks who need accommodations.  In fact, a week after we move in, we will have 4 or 5 summer missionaries staying with us, who are doing the 5 Day Clubs in our town.
God is amazing!!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Odds and Ends and Family Update

*We told our kids and our folks by giving them a basket with four eggs on Easter.  Each egg had a picture of one of our kids, except the fourth, which had a paper with a question mark and the due date.  We also gave them a photo card (made through one of the freebie deals a month ago) that read:
God has blessed us with another
Justy's little sis or brother
So, Jer Bear's birthday gift will be
A week-old, 4th (our last name) baby

*We're due Nov. 4th.  Jeremiah's birthday is Nov. 8th.  This is NOT our favorite time of year since 3 out of the last 4 years we have caught a horrible flu in early November.  It's also birthday-crunch time on Josiah's side of the family.  Our nephew is Oct. 27th, then Josiah's sis is Nov. 1st, his dad is Nov. 2, Jer is Nov. 8, and our other nephew is Nov. 14.  After this baby is born, 75% of the grandkids will have a birthday within 2.5 weeks of each other on that side of the family!  Two out of three times in the past I've gone a week early so the baby could very well be an October baby instead of November.

*This Thursday marks week 10 and usually by 11 I'm on the upswing of the nausea.  So, I'm surviving, hanging on to hope, and anxious to have a return to energy.  I am usually very motivated and get a lot accomplished, don't need naps, and have lots of zeal, so feeling like I've been hit by a truck every morning, trying to squeak naps in here and there out of desperation, barely being able to do one load of laundry a day, and feeling like my body is moving in slow motion on top of the constant nausea and dry heaving is very frustrating for me.

*My posts are not going to be all-pregnancy related from here on out.  I promise I will continue my "Successful Celebrations" series next week, with some great ideas for a gift stash, and I hope to continue to share recipes, mom tips, homeschooling highlights, and kid updates here.  I do plan to share a few posts on Morning, Noon, and Night Sickness Survival since I want to help other women in this difficult situation as much as I can. 

*In the meantime, life moves on a rapid pace.  We've been looking at homes again, making offers, and are eager to buy a home of our own and move in before the baby comes.  Our landlord is not in a rush to get the house lifted and the new foundation built so at least we don't feel super-pressured by him.  The modesty night for teen girls went very well and we had a great turn-out.  We hope to do a follow-up night on the same subject and show a video called "The Truth about Guys" in the next month or so.  Josiah is still busy with youth group and the sound team at church.  Alathia is a huge help to her Mama, and loves to make sandwiches and get snacks for her brothers and still spends a few hours (at least) a day coloring pictures, writing words down, and making cards for everyone in the family.  Jeremiah has been dry all night for a few months now, has learned to ride a little bike (with training wheels) and assures me all of the time, "We're big kids now.  We'll take care of you Mama" when he sees that I'm not feeling well.  Justus is still the sunshine of our family and is the easiest kid we've ever had.  If he falls down he picks himself up, kisses his hand and smiles and keeps on running.  He loves to run and says, "Wun fast!"  He talks constantly and repeats just about any word we say.  He loves to read a Dragon book from the library and his eyes get as big as saucers and he says, "Dwagon!  Get me!!!"  He also quotes parts of his favorite books that he remembers, like "Far, far away" or "The End."  He loves to talk about "Semis" (semi-trucks for those of you without boys).

*Our weather has been horrible!  We've had some very nice days in the last month, but they have been followed by a day or two of snow and cold and then it will get nice and we'll be outside, then icky, then nice, then icky.  Supposedly we've gotten so much snow this year in our area that it will be the second snowiest winter on the record books.  Last winter we were spoiled and hardly had any snow at all.  I could only find one picture of my kids playing in the snow from last winter.  From January on, we played in the yard and had great weather and warm days.  This year, everyone is cranky about the weather and desperately longing for spring!

*Swimming lessons were lots of fun and a good way for the kids to burn off energy.  Ali starts soccer in mid-April for the first time and we think she'll love it.  Keeping the kids in an activity or two has been good for all of us.  We hope to spend lots of time at the park and doing playdates and pool parties this summer!

*I did not do the bulk cooking days for April, obviously!  I will probably continue to do bulk cooking in my 2nd and 3rd trimester but our freezer is still half-stuffed from March.  The day I found out I was pregnant was the day I was bulk cooking so it was wonderful to have everything ready to go to stuff the freezer.  I've always said that the minute that pink line appears I will cook like crazy and prepare as much as possible for the sickness to come.  And that's what I did!  I cooked up a storm, tried not to use my meals at all until I started getting really sick, and bought a bunch of things to have on hand for sickness (lemons, craisins, sour gummies, gum, etc.)  I also did a major de-cluttering of the house in the week or two before the sickness hit.  My hubby re-organized the outside shed and between us we took 3 van loads to the thrift store!

*My sweet brother and kind sister-in-law threw me a surprise birthday supper a couple of weeks early the day before they left to return to Honduras.  As part of my gift, Colter gave me all the leftovers.  He didn't realize I was pregnant and starting to get sick, but it was such an ENORMOUS blessing to me!  He had made up about 2# of Honduran refried beans, from scratch, and 4# of taco meat, etc. and so I was able to freeze a lot for future meals.  Thanks brother!  Thanks Anna!

*Our kids are very excited about the baby.  Jer saw a little baby at the swimming pool before he even knew about me being pregnant and asked if we could have one.  Alathia is hoping with all of her heart for a sister, because she likes things to be even and we need another girl so we'll have 3 boys, and 3 girls in the family.  Justus loves to watch youtube clips of newborn babies and he always nods yes when you ask him if he wants a little baby in the family.

*The most amazing thing to me through the sickness trials we've been going through is how my hubby has treated me like a queen.  You'd think by the fourth kid he'd be like, "Cowgirl up!" and expect me to just keep up with life.  But he continually serves me, encourages me, praises me, supports me, and blesses me even though I've been a zombie for weeks on end and feel like a shell of a person.  He gives me massages almost every night, even though I can't sit up long enough to even give him a one-minute massage, he doesn't mind a bit if we have cereal or leftovers for supper most nights (since I'm sickest at night I tend to make a freezer meal for lunch or cook something at lunch and rarely cook in the evenings) or eat the same thing 5 days in a row because it's the one food I can stomach.  He doesn't complain if the state of the house reflects how I've felt that day and while I was grocery shopping on Saturday he vacuumed, mopped, did laundry, cleaned, sorted, and got the house looking spotless.  He helps the kids with breakfast, and sometimes lunch and dinner too, and helps with the bedtime routine every night that he is home.  If there's one good thing to come of this awful season of life it's that I'm reminded anew of how blessed I am to have him and how much I love this guy!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Not Me Monday!

Surely that's not me wearing a bandana around my nose everytime I have to change a poopy diaper!  My goodness.  I'm not that much of a wimp after 3 kids!  And I'm not such a helpless wife that I would make my husband change all the poopy diapers when he is home, even if that means 3 diarrhea blowouts in a 12 hour period.  How cruel can a person be?

And it isn't me who's been stopping off at the grocery store almost daily, buying things that are NOT on sale, even though the freezer is still half-stuffed from March's Cooking Daze.  I just couldn't be that wasteful and fickle.  I also haven't been throwing food out that has spoiled.  I would never waste food!  Especially my homemade yogurt and organic spinach!

And I would never eat out so many times in a month that I couldn't remember even an approximate number.  Nor would I blow my whole grocery budget on junk food and turn my nose up at my delicious, healthy freezer meals sitting in the freezer.  I would not visit Cholesterol Factory aka McDonald's a few times in the same week for fries and nuggets.  Ick!

I'm definitely not the kind of mom who allows high fructose corn syrup, red 40, and Ramen noodles in my home.  I would never serve my kiddoes Pop Tarts and Rice Krispies and call it supper!

And I could never pretend that I wasn't nauseous 24/7 around my friends to hide my condition.  What a hypocrite!  I definitely don't dry heave after every time I eat a meal with other people once I leave the room.  I'm definitely not such a good actress that my own mom didn't suspect anything until a day before I told her, and only then because I was very, very sick.

Bribing kids is just unethical.  I am certainly NOT the kind of mom who would bribe her kids with candy when they threatened to tell Grammy that Mommy is sick all the time.  And if my kid asks an honest question, "Why are you so sick?" I definitely don't dodge the issue and avoid answering the question until Easter.

I don't throw birthday desserts made especially for me away after one bite.  I'm just not that rude!  And I definitely have NOT filled up our refrigerator with a terribly strange assortment of foods like veggie hot dogs, cheesecake, pickles, cheese pizza, jalapeno poppers, Yoplait yogurts, and onion bagels.

And I have not been wearing lots of extra make-up and brighter colors to try to hide my tortured appearance.  I'm just trying to be seasonal.

I definitely don't resent all the gals around me who are expecting babies who say they've never felt better and are walking on the clouds.  I definitely don't want to scream "SALTINE CRACKERS DO NOT WORK FOR ME!" sometimes when people continually say that a few of these little "miracle squares" did the trick for them.

My kids definitely do NOT use their little toy cups as barf buckets for their stuffed animals.  They do not pretend their stuffed animals are throwing up all the time.  That would just be gross.  My one year old does not make gagging sounds and laugh to copy Mommy and my five year old has not trained herself to run and get the barf bucket as soon as Mommy has a certain look on her face.

I definitely serve my family foods other than pizza.  And I did not have pizza 5 days in a row recently, all of which was take-out, frozen, or from a restaurant.  Who could live off of such a monotonous diet?

And I'm totally the kind of mom who takes her prenatals!  I would never wash my hands of any and all vitamins, including Flintstones, Gummies, and Emergen-C packets just because every vitamin I've ever taken while pregnant has come back up. 

In spite of all of this, I'm really not in the depths of despair either.  I do not do google searches on, "Morning Sickness Hell" or "How to Leave the HG (hypermesis gravidarium) Club" or "Sick and tired of being sick and tired."  I have not begged my accountability partners to grab a gun and shoot me to put me out of my misery.  I have not become a Lost watcher for the first time in my life because I am so miserable most evenings and it's one of the only shows on Hulu that I can see all of the episodes of for free.  I do not mention a certain surgical procedure to my husband daily.  I do not feel like I'm at the end of my rope.

I am not a slave to a little pill called Unisom.  And if for some reason I forgot to take it one night I did not almost die the next day, languishing and waiting for the hours to fly by so I could take my next pill.

I also would never write an entire post for my blog revolving around throw-up and gagging. How unladylike and gross can a blogger be?

And I am most definitely not a tired pregnant lady!

For more Not Me Monday posts, go here.

*Not Me Monday is a blog carnival where moms "confess" their idiosyncrisies and screw-ups by denying the real events of their week.*

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Have a Wonderful Resurrection Weekend!

Photo credit: Amanda Kastner

You may have noticed a lack of posts this week.  I'm taking a little break for a few days to get some things done for Easter.  We've dyed eggs, are doing our resurrection eggs, and are going to make resurrection rolls.  The boys need haircuts and I need to figure out what Alathia and I are going to wear for Easter dresses.  I have lots of homemade rolls and cream-cheese mashed potatoes to make for Easter dinner with my folks and some extra church services to attend this week. 
I hope you all have a meaningful Easter, celebrating the sacrifice our Lord made to make us whole!
He is risen indeed!
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