Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Easiest Job

Does anyone else ever feel covetous that Vanna White has the EASIEST, most well paid job EVER?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Faith Like a Child: The Theological Musings of a Pre-Schooler

I have a TON of these little stories about my kids and their faith. I will try and remember to share more of them with y'all. I think they strike me as particularly poignant or funny now that I am studying theology. Without knowing it, they can offer the best, simplest explanation to a huge theological issue or simultaneously land in the middle of a monstrous heresy that bothered the church for hundreds of years.

One day not too long ago during family devotions, I was asking questions about the fruit of the Spirit and seeing if the kids could name them (after I had just read the Bible passage where they are mentioned). (The family devotional we use starts with a parable using Veggie Tales characters, then it tells a Bible story, then it asks questions, then we pray.) Ewan got excited and started giving himself "points" whenever he got one right. Ever since then, he looks forward to the question time after the Bible passage because he wants to earn more "points". (Mind you, he doesn't get a prize for any of this. He just likes to "win".)

Anyway, last night I was asking them: "How does Jesus saves us from our sins?"
Ewan answered, "By being a shepherd!"
I gave him a half point for this answer since the the parable was about a shepherd who goes into a pit to get the sheep out rather than lowering a shoelace or a pot. It accented the incarnation.

I said, "Yes, Jesus is like the shepherd because he came down from where?
Ewan: "Heaven!"

Me: "Right! Another half point! Now, how did he save us from our sins? What did he do here on earth?"
Ewan: "Uh...P...P... Baking!"
Amelia & I stifle grins. =) Pictures of Jesus standing in our kitchen with a flour-dusted apron on flood to my mind.

Amelia: "No, you were going to saying something with a "P". Were you going to say, 'Prea..."
Ewan: "Preaching! Yah!"

Me: "Yes. That's right. Preaching and healing and then dying..."
Ewan: "On the cross for our sins!"
Me: Very relieved that my son has just given a clear statement of the atonement... In the back of my mind, I am thinking, 'Could he get into heaven with that answer? I think so.' But just as I am resting in this eloquent restatement of the central Biblical truth...

Ewan: "Yah, because of if he died for his own sins, that would not be good."

Me: Ah, yes...Well...I guess I'm not the master theological trainer of the young I thought I was. But, alas, a good opportunity to talk of Jesus' sinlessness.

Me: "Well, Jesus didn't have any sin. He didn't do anything wrong."
Ewan: Blank stare.
Me: (In my mind) OK, I think I'll move on to the next question.

We went on to talk about the Holy Spirit and ow he speaks to our hearts (which went very well).
Then it was Isaac's turn to pray and he prayed as he always does (with his little palms covering his eyes as he peaks through his fingers):

"God, thank you for the birds and trees and fruit and clouds and grass and...TV's and movies. AMEN."
(He ALWAYS has to get TV's and movies in there somewhere.)

Blessed are the honest thoughts and prayers of a child. If we were only all so "unvarnished" in our dealings with God! Amen.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Journey to Weight Gain

When Ewan was born we quickly discovered that he was not gaining weight like he should have been. He was very fussy, difficult to put to sleep, and always seemed like he wanted more to eat after he emptied my breasts. We started giving him additional supplemental food after he nursed so he would be satisfied. I was taking herbs, a drug called Reglan (a drug that promotes prolactin to release from the body that stimulates milk production), and pumping. It was a lot to do and I was willing to do what it took so that I could hopefully breastfeed Ewan exclusively. My milk supply never caught up to what he needed and I was devestated. By the time he was 5 months old he had completely weaned himself from nursing. It was much easier to get formula from a bottle. We figured out that a small complication of blood loss and anemia at his birth were responsible for my low milk supply.

When I had Isaac, I was very nervous about whether or not I would be able to supply enough milk for him. Because he was born early it was even more important to me that he get breastmilk to eat. It was the best choice for him since he was more susceptible to illness as a preemie. I had to start off our nursing relationship by pumping which was difficult. Within the 2 weeks Isaac was in the NICU he was nursing. We took him home and all was well. He was gaining weight and healthy. When he was 4 months old his weight gain slowed down significantly. I was worried but the pediatrician wasn't and said to keep doing what I was doing. When Isaac was 9 months old his weight gain picked up again and all was well. I continued to nurse him until he was 15 months old. I loved it so much and was looking forward to nursing my next baby.

Then I had Graham. Still nervous about being able to make enough milk but excited to have the bonding experience that nursing brings, I dove into nursing Graham. It took him 3 weeks to regain all his baby weight. That can be a red flag but he seemed content and not hungry after feedings. At the end of his first month he had started gaining but very slowly. We went in for weight checks and he looked and acted healthy and not like a starving baby. Then, from month 1 to 2 he had no weight gain. We were perplexed. He seemed to be getting enough to eat but he should also have been gaining weight. We thought that maybe because he was so big to start off with he was finding his natural balance. I started taking a drug that increases milk supply and pumping after feedings. Graham gained 10 ounces and all seemed to be going well. Two weeks ago I got mastitis and it decreases my milk supply. I weighed him again this past Monday and he had lost weight. I decided that he really was not getting enough food and that he needed a supplement after feedings because by now he should really be gaining weight.

I have a supplemental nursing system which provides a way to give a supplement by placing a tube in the baby's mouth while he is nursing so that it stimulates your milk supply and gives baby a supplement at the same time. The down side to it is that it is difficult to use and I hate it. It took an additional 30 minutes to feed him 1 ounce of expressed milk using the SNS. That made the feeding session take 1 hour and I don't have that much time to feed the baby. I have 2 other kids to take care of too. I decided for my own sanity to give him the supplement in a bottle. He is almost 3 months old so I wasn't too concerned about nipple confusion. Since giving him the supplement I think he has gained about 8 ounces. Apparently Graham is a fairly "content to starve" baby. His personality is pretty laid back and he just wasn't fussing about not being hungry.

That is all the facts of what happened but this whole issue of breastfeeding has been quite an emotional roller coaster for me. When I was pregnant with Ewan and learned all the benefits of breastfeeding I got so excited about the experience. It never occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to make enough milk to feed my baby. I did everything I could possible do and it really made the entry to motherhood a rocky road. I shed many tears and asked God why I couldn't feed my baby. I felt like something was stolen from me.

When Graham started not gaining weight I felt sad and depressed. Again, why is this happening to me? God, don't you know how important it is for babies to get breastmilk? Don't you know how badly I want to nurse all my babies? I know you are able to make my body to make more milk...can't you do this for me? I asked for lots of prayer and wisdom to know what to do. What was the right program for me to do so that my supply would increase? I had so many options to try that I felt like I had to DO the exact right thing in order for it to work. But where was the faith in that? Eventually I felt like I had exhausted all my options and that I just had to trust God to come through for me. I asked some other birth teachers what they would do if they were me. People had good suggestions that I tried. Nothing was working the way it should have been. Breastfeeding is such a natural thing, why does it have to be so difficult for some people?

My body was failing me--a symptom of our broken world. I think that other women might feel similarly when they have trouble conceiving or birthing their babies. As I was praying about my milk supply and asking God to please speak to me the phrase, "Breastfeeding is a badge of motherhood to you." came to my mind. At first I wasn't sure what that meant but after praying about it some more, what came clear to me was that to me part of being a good mom means that your nurse your babies.

***As a disclaimer, I don't judge other women who have difficulties nursing and choose to bottle feed--I don't hold the same standards to other women that I have for myself.***

When it came down to it, I felt like in order for me to be the best mom in the world, I needed to exclusively nurse Graham so I could have the best bond with him and provide the best nutrition for him. I mean, what kind of mom would I be if I provided MY kids with artificial milk? After praying about it, I believe that God is teaching me that my ability to be a good mom comes from HIM alone, not on my ability (or lack thereof) to nurse my children. It sounds so simple but this has been such a hard lesson for me to learn and to embrace. I am learning more about the GRACE of God and how any goodness that comes out of me and my ability to be a mom is from Him.

Since my epiphany, I have felt so much more free to enjoy my baby. I felt angry early on that this whole issue was stealing the joy of having a sweet little baby to nurture and take care of. This could be my last baby and I want to enjoy every minute of it! I don't want to miss out on all those sweet moments because I am to busy stressing out about why my body doesn't work perfectly. Now that Graham is gaining weight I am even more happy and full of joy. One of the birth teachers I talked to has a lactation consultant friend who has in big letters on her binder FEED THE BABY. It is so much more important that my baby get the nutrients and food he needs and part of my job as a mom is to make sure he gets food no matter what the means. Knowing that Graham is gaining and growing makes me happy.

So I am still nursing Graham and giving him a supplement afterward. I will continue to nurse him for as long as he wants to. It feels inevitable that within the next few months that Graham will gradually switch over to bottle feeding. And I am okay with it. I have peace. I have done just about everything that I knew to do to make it work. I could have chosen to use the SNS for longer but I figured that my sanity and ability to take care of my other kids was more important. I feel nervous about how the natural birth community will respond to my decisions but I feel like I am being the best mom I know to be right now. I feel like my experiences have given me the ability to have compassion on moms who have difficulties nursing or even birthing their babies.

I hope that I don't forget my identity in Christ and continue to put my hope in him. I am thankful that he has met my needs through this time and that he has spoken to my heart and brought me closer to Him.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Family Devotionals

We have finally found a way to do a little family devotional together. Since Jon and I have been married we haven't been consistent in having prayer time or devotional time together. Then we had kids and it got even harder. As Christians, we want to teach our children the Scriptures and to help them value time together with God.

We got this book from my mom and the kids enjoy going through it together. It is a Veggie Tales family devotional. The kids love Veggie Tales so that makes it attractive to them to read together. We have discovered that the best time to have our devotional time is at dinner after the kids are done eating. The devotional starts off with a little Veggie Tales story to get the kids interested. Then it has a short passage of scripture we read and then some very practical and applicable questions. After we read and talk about it we each take a turn praying. It has really opened up some interesting conversations about God and it of course is super cute to hear the boys pray.

The other night the passage was from Galatians 5:16-26 which talks about the fruit of the Spirit. As we went through each one we asked the boys, "What does love mean? Joy? Peace? Patience? etc... Ewan is usually pretty quick to answer and to our surprise he defined all of the words except for faithfulness and self-control (which ironically is probably what he struggles with most as a 4 year old). Every time he explained what a "fruit" was and we told him that was right he was so proud of himself and said, "I got a point for that one." He counted all the points he had for knowing what all the fruits meant. Then we each picked a fruit that we wanted God to help us with.

It is hard not to smile and laugh during our devotionals. Isaac usually has something to say about movies....For example, last night we were talking about how God helps us with our biggest problems. Isaac said his biggest problem was not getting to see a movie. Oh, to be 3! Actually his biggest problem might be loving TV too much. Of course he doesn't see it that way.

This has been a great way to teach our kids about prayer and talking to God. At bedtime, Ewan is typically reluctant to pray for others. When I put him to bed he prefers to pray for Charlie, the cat. His prayers are very sincere for Charlie and good too. I'm not sure who he prays for when Jon puts him to bed. Ewan is much more open to praying at dinnertime and the devotionals have been good for us to learn more about each other too. It makes our time together as a family feel a little deeper.

We don't do it every night but Isaac, being faithful to his love for books, asks almost every night if we are going to read our special book. I LOVE how it is becoming a tradition in our house.

I don't know what we will do after we are done with his book but I have a few ideas. If anyone has found any kid friendly devotionals I would love to hear your suggestions!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Halloween Pics

Showing their muscles.

Superman and Batman were seen last night roaming the streets of Pittsburgh. They were freeing candy being held hostage on the front porches of the whole city.

Much to their delight they were able to eat some of the candy they saved from all the candy terrorists.

This was the first time we let the boys go trick or treating and they had a GREAT time! Nothin' but utter delight on their faces. We saw lots of our friends in the community. The street we live on is THE street to trick or treat on. I think our whole town came down to our street. It was a blast because the sidewalks were full of people out having a good time. It is a law or city ordinance that trick or treating is allowed inly from 6-8. I thought it was a great idea.

And here is why...

We only had one incident. At 9:30pm our doorbell started buzzing like crazy. Our doorbell sounds like a fire alarm. Very old and very loud. Someone was ringing it over and over again. I was concerned that it was one of our neighbors needing something but I thought it was weird that no one called before coming by that late. I turned the porch light on and pulled the curtain aside only to be looking at a grown man (in his late 30's at least) holding a bag out as if he were asking for candy. He had on a hoodie but I could see his face. I closed the curtain and ran upstairs to get Jon who had fallen asleep putting Ewan to bed. When Jon came down the man was still there and Jon told him we didn't have any candy and to go away. My heart was beating a hundred miles a minute. What on earth was a grown man doing at 9:30 at night trick or treating? No way am I opening my door to a stranger doing strange things like that! Creepy!

Isaac's 3rd Birthday

Now That's How You Play CandyLand DVD Game!


Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Booger Mustache

The other night Jon and Isaac were sitting next to each other. Isaac reaches over and says, "here, dad" and brushes his finger over Jon's lip. He looked down at Isaac and felt his lips. At the same time Isaac said, "It's my booger. Here, take it daddy."

Isn't it fun when kids discover that boogers live in their noses?