30 June 2013

Book Review: Anomaly by Krista McGee

Thalli has known since she was a little girl that she is different than everyone else in her world; she feels things: loyalty, curiosity, longing, grief, friendship and most of all, intense passion in her music. Emotions have no place in this new world though, created by scientists after nuclear war destroyed the Earth, save for a few remnants living far beneath the surface under the mountains.  After years of guarding and hiding her emotions, the scientists have found out that she is an anomaly, and she has been sentenced to annihilation.

While time ticks down, she forms a dangerous alliance with her childhood friend, Berk, now a scientist for the State, and they work to find a way for her to live. During this time, she learns of the true Designer, and that He has a greater purpose for her life.  Will she discover what that purpose is before time runs out? Will she figure out who to trust and who to believe before it’s too late?

If you are looking for the next fast-paced, hook-you-immediately futuristic dystopian novel, then Anomaly by Krista McGee is it. I was hooked from the very first page, and this incredible book kept me guessing about what is true reality and what is horrific virtual reality. I could hardly put the book down once I started and was gripped to the very last sentence with the story and the plot.

If you are into science fiction, dystopian stories and/or fast-paced page-turning books that keep you guessing and wanting more, than this novel is for you. I highly recommend it and can’t wait to read more from this author.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

25 June 2013

Please Represent Me, American Military Spouse Choir | SpouseBUZZ.com

Please Represent Me, American Military Spouse Choir | SpouseBUZZ.com

These women, representing all branches of active duty military, are amazing! There's a music video clip in the article- you just have to watch it. :)

19 June 2013

Trying . . . again . .

When you read that title, and if you just read my latest post, you might jump to a conclusion, but that's not what I'm talking about! I"m not talking about trying for another baby . . .

So what am I trying again??

Learning French!

Yes, I'm going to try to master the French language. Again. One small step at a time though. From somewhere near the beginning.

I know, I know, I'm ambitious. But I think I can do it. I would rather aim too high and fall short, than not aim at all, as the saying goes. Or something like that.

I don't think I'll finish in the next month and be able to cross that off my 101 in 1001 list, but at least I'll be on my way. :)

How am I going to do this, you ask?

Well, I finally broke down and bought Rosetta Stone, but only because Groupon had a screamin' awesome deal (as my friend Whitney would say). It was only $250! I've never seen it priced that low (benefit to the economic recession I guess). So I bought it and it has arrived! That nice, shiny yellow box is all ready opened and I can't wait to dive in!

So I'll keep you updated on my progress as I go along and maybe write a product review here and there. We'll see if it's all the rave like they claim. I'm sure it, but we'll see. :)

Until then, Au revior! (I probably spelled that wrong - see how far I have to go!)

A big decision

If you've been following my blog for a few years, you may recall the big struggle Mike and I had with ourselves, with each other and with God, about whether Flower would be our last child or not.

I was supposed to get a tubal ligation the day after Flower was born, but my platelets were low, so they refused to do it. I took it as a sign from God.

Then I was scheduled to have a tubal 10 weeks later, but I couldn't bear for Flower to go without nursing for 12 hours, and since she refused a bottle, and I got no milk when I pumped, I canceled it, and took it as another sign.

I went to have another consult that January, scheduled the procedure and called and canceled it a week later. Repeat three months after that.

I just couldn't bring myself to do something so permanent. I was 96% sure I was done, and Mike was 96% sure he was done, but that 4% stopped us. We were so afraid that it wasn't in God's will, that we would find ourselves left with a horrible, tragic decision that we regretted five or ten years down the road.

This was serious business. Serious indeed.

We wrestled in prayer back and forth and back and forth, seemingly to no avail. I don't know how much Mike wrestled, but I spent hours talking to God about this, searching for answers in the Bible (and almost everywhere else), wondering what the answer was and wishing God had just spelled out in His Word, "Yes, Tegan, you can do this" or "No, I want to give you one more blessing." This was a daily thing. For well over two years.

And then this past winter, I found myself praying daily, "Please do not give me anymore children" instead of my usual prayer for space between children. I knew the Lord had been very merciful to me in giving me so much space after Flower came along, but I just didn't think I could handle bringing another child into the world and all that it entails. I still believe children are a blessing, but my sanity had pretty much reached a limit.

Then Butterfly was diagnosed with signficant developmental delays and the struggle made sense. Her behavior was not normal almost-4 year old behavior. And she is going to have a lot of different therapies: occupational, speech, etc, especially in the coming year. Which means, very busy mama, for me.

The biggest reason for all this is because I have such high-risk pregnancies. If I didn't have high risk pregnancies, I would probably be all for having more children. But going through a placenta abruption at 28 weeks and being hospitalized for that, and then going into pre-term labor while in the hospital, and then being on partial bed rest (this was Butterfly's pregnancy), then too much amniotic fluid and having to be induced or risk major abruption or cord prolapse (both would end in death most likely) (that was Little Man's pregnancy), then pre-term labor 4 times (or was it 5?) with a week long hospitalization trying to stop labor at 31 weeks followed by three months of complete bed rest topped with too much amniotic fluid and being induced for the same reasons as Little Man (that was Flower's pregnancy) - who would want to go through that again? My uterus just does not like having a baby in it and tried very hard to get rid of said baby, not matter how hard I try to be healthy. I just wasn't made to bear a lot of children. We were blessed with three very beautiful children, two of whom are little miracle babies.

Anyway, I revisited the decision with Mike and we decided one day in April to schedule a consult again for a tubal ligation. I was done. Mike agreed, he was 100% done.

The consultation came and went. I prayed for God to give me total and complete peace about this, with not a moment of hesitation, and same with Mike, and we feel that He has given us peace. Complete and total peace. I also prayed that if this is not God's will, that He would firmly and absolutely close the door on this procedure. I'm still waiting to see if that will happen.

So for now, our little family is complete at five.  Unless/until we adopt, which we want to do when Mike is finished with school.  Or unless we get pregnant before the procedure, haha, which could totally happen.

It does feel so nice to have peace about this though. No doubts, no hesitation. Done.

P.S. Mike decided to get a vasectomy, so I don't have to get my tubes tied! Such an awesome husband I have! :)

And they all said amen! :)

Flower, Butterfly and Little Man watching the garbage truck

GF/CF diet update

Well, the diet is over.

But the journey is not.

That was fast, wasn't it? The post, I mean . . .

The past six weeks or so have not been fast at all for me. The learning to cook and bake gluten and casein (dairy) free, the avoiding the temptation to stop at a fast food restaurant, all the additional planning (there was a lot of that), the seeming rut of making the same things over and over for dinner, although I did find some fantastic recipes.

The thing, I think Butterfly had some kind of reaction to the diet. I expected to have some upset bowel changes the first few weeks as we transitioned into this new way of eating and so at first I didn't think anything of Butterfly having a little diarrhea.

Then I realized it had never gone away. She had diarrhea (not soft, loose stools - but diarrhea) the entire time she had been on the diet.

So I did some research and asked some questions and everything I found all over the place was contrary to what was actually going on, what was supposed to happen if she had a gluten or casein allergy. She got worse, not better. It didn't get back to normal, and then get worse again, as if she had eaten something cross contaminated. It was there the entire time.

My poor baby!

So Mike and I decided to take a month long break from the GF/CF diet and then re-assess and possibly start over. I don't know.

I don't know if the diet helped Butterfly with her developmental delay issues or not. I never noticed anything drastic, like some testimonies say. We also were only on the diet for six or so weeks, which is not really long enough (according to some) to get a good result.

I did call the doctor and ask her nurse what we should do and she suggested more fiber. We eat beans every other day and a lot of apples, but maybe that is the cause. At any rate, not being on the diet will definitely fix that. Hopefully.

The bottom line for me is this: to have a GI upset like that for six weeks is unhealthy. Extremely unhealthy. And yes, she was taking probiotics - I thought that might have been the culprit and stopped them, but there was no change.

So now I'm giving her yogurt and whatever she wants to eat and we'll see what happens. So far her bowels aren't back to normal. I'm thinking I'm going to take her to the doctor to see what's going on Friday or Monday if there is no change.

And that is that. For now.

15 June 2013

Newest family member

I've been going through my blog posts adding labels/tags, which has been nice in a reminiscing kind of way.

And then I realized that I don't think I posted about our newest family member!

Let me introduce you to Kitty Boots! We got him unexpectedly from a sweet friend who could no longer keep him because of allergy reasons. She was so sad to part with him, but I think she was glad to know where he would be and that he would have a good, loving home.

Boots is definitely a sweet kitty, and very fluffy, as you can see. He is also on a bit on the naughty side, but less so the longer he is with us.

He and Galileo have gotten along famously almost from the very first hour. At first it was the usual hiss-hiss, but then when the formalities were over, Galileo seemed to be like "at last! a feline friend!" and they've been close ever since.

They sometimes seem to bicker like an old married couple. One time Galileo was outside and he was briefly chased by a neighbor dog. Boots witnessed the whole thing from the window and as Galileo was running to the back of the house outside, Boots was running to the back of the house inside, crying and crying.

When we finally got Galileo down from the roof (where he had jumped to escape the dog - yes, he jumped on the roof), and brought him inside, Boots couldn't seem to decide if he was happy to see him or mad, and kept alternating between batting at him with his paw as if to scold him, and rubbing against him and meowing. It was pretty cute and funny and just a little bit moving to see.

And of course, there is the howling.

Boots knows how to howl. Like a dog or a coyote.

Galileo did not know how to do this. Until Boots taught him. At 3 am. Every morning. At 3 am. Did I mention the 3 am part?

Thankfully that has calmed down a bit . . .

As for the kids, they love him and Boots is so great with the kids. He has never scratched them or bitten them, even then lay on him, or attempt to carry him around. Mike and I are pretty vigilant about the kids leaving the kitties alone, but we can't be everywhere at once.

Bottom line - he's been a great addition to our little family and we look forward to many long and happy years together. :)

11 June 2013

PWOC Spring Retreat Lesson

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

This verse is not new to me, but while I was on the PWOC in Santa Fe back in April, it really spoke to me – God just kept reminding me of His love and what that means through this verse again and again.

Christ died for us . .. not after we got our life together.
                                 . . .. not after we had a perfect marriage.
                                . . . not after we had instructed and parented our children perfectly.
                                 . .. not after had a good attitude all time, in every circumstance.
While we were still sinners . . .
While we in our addictions . . .
While we were angry . ..
While our marriage was a mess . . .
While our parenting was ungodly . .
While we were sinning . . .
While we were a mess . . . Christ died for us.

God doesn’t want us to come to Him after we “solved” our own problems. He wants us to come to Him in our brokenness, in our mess – so that He can heal us. At retreat we talked about treasure , specifically diamonds, and that diamonds start out a lump of coal – messy, dirty, unfinished. After heat, pressure and time are applied, that lump of coal turns into a diamond – beautiful, sparkling, complete. The same can be said for Christians.

Before the retreat I was very angry at circumstances in my life and during the retreat, God showed me that I needed to repent of that anger and the hurt that it had caused and give it over to Him. So that is what is I did. I have been a Christian for years, but this weekend Jesus reminded me that He saved me while I was angry. He took that anger and replaced it with peace.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to be there on the retreat, with amazing sisters in Christ who came along side me in love to pray for me, with me and use the Word to teach me, rebuke me, correct me and train me in righteousness, like the Word says in 2 Tim 3:16. It goes on to say, in verse 17, so that man, or woman in this case, may be fully equipped for every good work.

I pray that the Lord will continue to work in me, and you, until the day He returns and we are made perfect in Him. 

Christina, me, Caitie at breakfast in the hotel

Book Review: The Point by William E. Jefferson

Poetic. Stunning. Beautiful. Unexpected. Amazing.  Full of hope. A must-read.

A young couple coming to terms with a chronic disease.

A man split open by tragedy, shut off from the world, refusing to let anyone in.

An island of peace, tranquility and pondering.

Words written by monks about a story in which we are all apart. A story older than time. A story of love. And redemption.

Words to be contemplated. Believed. Remembered. Practiced.

William E. Jefferson's The Point: The Redemption of Oban Ironbout is all of these things and more. I was expecting a novel when I picked The Point, but Jefferson drew me into so much more thank just a novel with his amazing story of Hollie and Goodwin Macbreeze, who have traveled to the Isle of Estillyen. The island is inhabited by monks who write, and read, Readings: verses and stories from the Bible that are brought to life before your eyes.

The young Macbreeze's meet Oban Ironbout, who is a bit of mystery on the island. As the mystery unravels, they find themselves changed forever in this story of tragedy, of love and of redemption.

I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. The Readings are amazing. They are like seeing the Bible come to life in a whole new way and they will touch you. The story is wonderful - you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll put the book down to ponder and think on life and what it means. Jefferson's way of arranging words on paper is something very special that you don't see very often. You just have to read it. :)

Disclosure of Material Connection: The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

03 June 2013

Time for a change

It's been change time around our house lately! And I'm lovin' it!

What's the change? Well, Butterfly and Little Man shared a room for a long time (2.5 years to be exact) and it's high time they had their own rooms. Well, for a little while. Little Man will be sharing with Flower in about six months.

When we put them together, it was the best thing we could have done for them. They needed each other. They needed to not be alone at night. They needed the companionship. And they never fought. Or stayed up late talking (well, they did a few times, but it wasn't a regular basis thing). They got along so well.

Until about two months ago.

All of sudden they were fighting and yelling at each other when they woke up. Every. Single. Morning. Without fail.

And I was done. They were done. We were all done with the sharing of rooms.

The biggest hurdle to our rearrangement is that we had our "study" in one of the bedrooms. One computer table. One file cabinet. Three computers. One keyboard. One guitar. Five (yes, five!) book shelves. And over five hundred books. Not kidding. We're readers, what can I say? Big readers. (And I just got rid of a whole lot of books . . . .). So all of that stuff had to come out before Butterfly's bed and clothes/changing table came in.

We also had to decide where we were going to put all said books. We decided to turn the front part of garage (what is considered "dry storage" here in base housing) into our new study. We're going to get a nice rug and everything. Eventually. 

I started with a lot of ambition, put on some workout clothes and started moving books downstairs, through the house and out into the garage. While the kids were napping of course. Actually I put a movie on for Butterfly, which kept her contentedly ensconsed on the couch.

Twenty five or so trips later (yes - 25!),  I had worked up quite the sweat and kids were starting to wake up. And I had moved approximately two bookcases. I felt like I had hardly started, yet had worked really hard. An arm load of books is heavy. 25 arm loads of books down the stairs and very heavy.

Needless to say, the whole thing took a lot more time (and effort) than I had anticipated.

Then, (yay!) Mike's parents came to visit and while they were here, I was able to enlist Mike's help to finish moving the books out and Butterfly's bed inside and then we were finally done!!

Butterfly and Little Man were ecstatic to get their own rooms! Especially Butterfly. Little Man was so excited all day, but then at night, as he was laying in bed, curled up on his train pillow, he quietly said, "Where's Butterfly??" in a sad voice. I was so touched. He already missed his big sister!

He soon got used to her being in her own room though.

And the next morning? It was blissfully quiet! I heard a very quiet voice coming from Butterfly's room, "I need to go potty, Mommy." And that was it. No yelling. No fighting. No stressful first-thing-in-the-morning. YAY!!!!

And here are some pics for you!
Flower will be sharing a room with Little Man eventually . ..

She was so excited!

So excited!

She's just always happy, lol.
And the books? They're still sitting on the floor in the garage. When I get some more energy, I'll put them back on the shelves. In alphabetical order by author's last name, divided by genre. Not the Dewey-Decimal system, but close. And yes, I did research the Dewey-Decimal system for the purpose of our books at home, at one time. But that's just me! :)