Friday, December 31, 2010

Year 2010 Ringing Out!

As we bid farewell to Year 2010, I wish everyone a prosperous and Happy New Year in 2011.  And now to my photo highlights of 2010.

Yes, my life has become all about this amazing little boy - as it should be!  Happy New Year to All!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 Christmas in Review . . .

This is my third Christmas with Aaron, but in many ways, it feels like my first.  After all, Aaron was only three days old his first Christmas, which means he slept through it.  At only a year old for his second Christmas, he didn't really know what was going on.  This year, however, he had a lot more understanding, and we all had a lot more fun!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Christmas with the Family:

On December 21st, we had Christmas with my parents and siblings.  After dinner, Papa had to take a bathroom break, and wouldn't you know it!  That's when Santa decided to come!  He arrived at the front door driving Papa's side by side.  Aaron was terrified of Santa.  He wrapped his arms around my neck and just cried.  We all rode on the side by side with Santa, and Aaron was OK for the ride - probably because Linzey (5 yrs) and McKayla (almost 4 yrs) were BOTH between him and Santa!  LOL

While on the ride, Linzey and McKayla seemed to be in a constant state of contemplating whether we were really riding with Santa or Papa playing Santa.  I told them, "It's Santa!  He's very busy this time of year, but he took time out of his busy schedule just to see us!"  Linzey:  "Well, he didn't come last year."  Me:  "I know.  He's really busy this time of year.  Do you know how many cookies I had to send to bribe him into coming down here?"  Linzey:  "Millions!"

When we got back to the front porch, Nana had come out to see Santa.  She got up on the side by side with him, and then she kissed him!  And, my SIL got it on film (can we still say that now that cameras are digital?)! A couple minutes after we got back inside Papa got back from the bathroom.  Both girls tackled him!  "Papa was that you or Santa outside?"  Papa:  "What?!?  Santa came while I was gone?"  And then, Linzey showed him the picture!  Papa couldn't believe it!  How could we let Nana kiss Santa?  To which Linzey proclaimed, "Don't look at me!  I didn't take the picture!"  LOL

We had a great time opening gifts.  Aaron opened three gifts in a row, and when he saw Aunt Candace pull the next gift from under the tree, he threw out his hands and said, "Mine!"  :-)  Unfortunately, that one wasn't his!  I was a bit crafty this Christmas.  I decorated lamps for Linzey and McKayla, and I put together a really nice collage frame for my parents.  I at least got a couple of pictures of the lamps:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Christmas - Just the Three of Us:

Ron had to work Christmas Day, so Christmas occurred a day early at our house!  On our Christmas Eve (the 23rd just in case I've confused you), we let Aaron pull the top two items from his stocking - a new toothbrush and a new set of Thomas the Train pajamas!  On Christmas morning as I cooked breakfast, Ron helped Aaron dig the last two items out of his stocking - two cars!
They must go with the huge unwrapped gift from Santa!  Ron and Aaron played as I finished breakfast.
After breakfast, Aaron opened his last gift from Daddy and Mommy . . . a phone!  He always wanted to play with Mommy's, so now he has his own!  :-)

Hello everyone!  And I hope your Christmas was as great as ours!

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's Down to the Christmas Frenzy

The time is here . . . Christmas is upon us . . . And there's still SO much to do!

Of course the most important person on my Christmas list is Aaron, and thankfully I can say my shopping for him is complete.

On the other hand, I still have to buy a gift for my dad, complete the crafty project I have in mind for my nieces, and print the photos necessary to put together the collage frame for my parents . . . by Tuesday night . . . when we're all gathering to exchange gifts . . .

Also squeezed into my weekend is my oldest niece's birthday party . . . Happy 5th birthday, Linzey! . . . tomorrow afternoon, and our Company Christmas dinner tomorrow evening.

So, here's to a weekend of carefully balancing floor mopping and oil changes with birthday parties and celebrations of the season, with just a little craft time and prayers that said crafts come out "right" thrown in!

May your weekend be Merry and less frenzied than mine!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Comforting Promises of My God

For a very long time now, I've comforted myself during difficult times by reminding myself that God will not put more on me than I can bear.

I have comforted others with these words . . .

And today I find that this promise does not exist in the Bible.

Look for it . . . It's NOT there!

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."  1 Corinthians 10:13

In this, there is a measure of comfort . . .

But, what if it's not the temptations I'm worried about?

What if it's the tragedy . . . the personal kind, where recovery seems impossible?

What if it's the burdens . . . those that are so crushingly heavy?  The sheer weight crumbling one from the inside out . . .

And still, MY God is an awesome God.

In life, there will be mind numbing tragedies.  There will be soul crushing burdens.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."  Romans 8:28

Every tragedy I must endure . . . every burden I must bear . . . "All things work together for good . . ."

God never promised all things would BE good, just that they would all work together for good!

And still, I must endure the tragedies, bear the burdens . . . and sometimes all my strength is gone . . .

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  Philippians 4:13

My God is there for me every step of the way . . . just waiting for me to quit relying on myself and depend on His strength . . .

For when life throws more on me than I can handle, I have a secret weapon!

I have a friend!

I have my God!  His strength can bear any burden, and He will ALWAYS be by my side . . .

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8:38-39

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cancer: The Quiet Thief

In tribute to Nancy Farr (03/21/1943 - 07/14/2010)

Cancer.  The mere mention of the word strikes fear in the heart of all who hear it, for it doesn't fight fair.  It doesn't work its dirty magic in the open, but rather attacks quietly.  It begins by stealing our health, but so incrementally that it often goes unnoticed . . . for a while.  Then, once discovered, it steals our innocence.  Our life becomes about the fight . . . and the fear of losing the fight.  And, as we fight, it steals even more of our health, for as we poison our enemy, we poison ourselves.  It steals our vitality; it steals our strength.  And still we fight!  For to give in to such an insidious attacker is not an option!

A month ago tomorrow, my mother-in-law lost her war with this thief.  Some might find it odd, I suppose, that the loss of a woman I spent less than a week of my life with would leave such a hole in my heart.  She had been my MIL for nearly nine years before we even met.  A bit odd, I admit, but living over 1,000 miles apart, perhaps less so . . .

She began her battle with breast cancer some time ago.  The prognosis looked good for a while.  Sometimes you win some battles.  Then came the further diagnosis of bone cancer . . .  This apparently is a fairly common occurrence after breast cancer, and is a prime example of the unfairness with which cancer strikes.  If it can't win on one front, it will find another way to sneak past your fortress.  Still, the fight continued.

Ron, Aaron and I went "home" for a visit at the end of May.  I spent a great deal of time while we were there with my MIL.  For me, she never made me feel like she was trying to get to know me, but rather, I felt like we'd known one another for years.  We sat and talked and visited, as if we'd sat down together hundreds of times before.  She slowly built a relationship with Aaron, accepting that you can't push a toddler too fast to love you, even if you are his grandmother!  And, before long, he was interacting with his Gramma Farr like an old playmate.  It was a beautiful visit, that I will always hold dear.

The last night we were there, I asked to take a picture of Ron and Aaron with my FIL and MIL.  She touched the top of her head and asked, "Like this?"  Yes . . .

In reflecting on our visit, I recall her showing me a picture of herself taken many years before that she had framed in her living room.  I now realize it was the only picture of her I saw framed in her home.  And now I think she needed to show me this picture of herself.  She needed me to see who she was . . . before the cancer began its evil work.  And on that last night in her home, when I asked to take a picture, she touched her thin graying hair, and asked, "Like this?", with just a hint of doubt in her voice.  The cancer had not stopped with her health, but had also stolen away a bit of her self confidence.  I now wish I had told her that while she might look back at pictures of the past only seeing the looks lost to her illness, I looked at her in the present and saw beauty.

Less than two months after meeting my MIL, cancer finally won the war, taking her from all of us.  I may have only known her a short while, but the woman I met welcomed me into her life without reservation.  Our relationship may have been short, but it was good, and I loved her.  And when I looked at her, I didn't see a woman broken down by cancer, but rather a woman who stood up to it.  And I will not remember her as she used to be, for I didn't know her then.  I will always remember her as I met her - beautiful, strong, courageous . . . and that is one thing the cancer could not take away . . .

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Aaron - Version 1.5

It's difficult to believe that I've already been a mother for a little over 18 months.  Where has the time gone?  They say time flies when you're having fun . . .  Maybe that's why the time seems to be slipping through my fingers like sand . . .  If I've realized one thing during these 18 months, it is that there is truly no comprehension of the enormity of love until one is a mother.  I sometimes think about how much I love my child, and am overcome by the realization that my parents loved me "this much".  And, realizing that, I am awe struck.  Oh, to be loved that much.  And as I look at my child with that burst of love in my chest, threatening to choke me with it's intensity, I wonder, do my parents still feel that when they look at me . . . even now?  And perhaps it'll take me this lifelong journey to realize the intensity of a parent's love never fades . . .  And by then, perhaps my child(ren) will be contemplating these same feelings . . .  May this love never fade, but only grow with each generation of loving!

Now, back to the source of my contemplations . . .  I could go on and on about my amazing child, but most of you have followed me long enough that it probably isn't necessary.  Instead I'll leave you with a then and now pic, and a now video . . . Enjoy!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Breastfeeding - The Fallout

It seems my last post had quite an impact, and not in the way I intended.  I have this blog setup so anyone can post a response, and yet only two responses were posted.  How many phone calls did my siblings get concerning their lack of support for me?  I don't know, but apparently enough.  Let me take this opportunity to make a few things abundantly clear.

I love my family.  This last post was in no way meant to criticize or hurt them.  It was not meant to cast the blame on my decision to wean on them.  I will wean when the time is right for my son and I, and not before.  It was meant as a commentary on the society we live in, and the social norms that constrain us.  My siblings are amazing people and amazing parents.  All you have to do is be around my nieces to know what a phenomenal job they are doing.  Apparently some of you want to know why they are against breastfeeding.  I have no idea how that interpretation came out of my previous blog.  They pull their children away because their children are confused, and thus have a multitude of questions concerning the differences in infant feeding choices.  And, as is apt to happen in young children, answering the question one time isn't sufficient.  They pull them away in an effort to reduce the questions, thus making life a little easier on themselves.  Seriously, can you blame them?  When was the last time you tried to reason with a young child?  Are they any more confused by this, than any other lifestyle choice?  I doubt it, but if you could remove the source of 20 questions, wouldn't you opt for a little peace? 

It is societal pressures I am addressing.  After all, if breastfeed were more socially prevalent, then I wouldn't be an oddity, and they'd probably have less questions, because it would seem more normal to them.  If I were simply trying to question societal pressures, why did I involve those I love?  It was quite innocent, I assure you.  We write about those things we know, and those experiences we have, and those experiences include the people we love.

So, please, do not take this as a criticism of my siblings parenting styles/choices, but more as a commentary on the society we live in, and the constraints and pressures it places on everyone.  And if you have thoughts, please respond to me before jumping to conclusions.

I have to be honest, I was unaware my blog was so widely read.  After this, I don't know if I should be flattered or afraid!

To my siblings, and family.  I love you, and I apologize for any negative fallout this has caused you.  I would never want to cause you any undue hardship or stress.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Breastfeeding - The Social Stigma

Before my son was born, I had already decided that if at all possible, I would breastfeed him.  I must admit that initially a large part of this decision was based on the cost savings, $1,160 to $3,915 per year, depending on the brand of formula purchased.  As I learned more about the benefits, however, I realized that even outside of the cost savings, I was completely sold on this feeding choice for my child.  Along with providing numerous health benefits for both mother and child, breastfeeding also saves on health care costs, contributes to a more productive workforce, and is better for the environment. Plus, plus, and plus . . . right?  So what's the downside to breastfeeding?  Social stigma.

Why is society so set against a mother feeding and nurturing her child in the way God designed her?  Am I for a woman exposing herself to the public in the name of breastfeeding?  No.  But, if a woman chooses to breastfeed her child in a discreet manner, why is this taboo?  Every mother should feed her child in a manner that is positive and right for her family and lifestyle, and if that's a bottle and formula for you that's OK, but for me, the only right choice was breastfeeding.

I'm currently being strongly encouraged by my own family to wean Aaron.  It doesn't matter that the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 years, or that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least 1 year, "and as long thereafter as mutually desired . . ."  Aaron is just under 18 months, and the pressure is on to wean.  Honestly, though Aaron isn't keen on the idea, mommy is ready to have her body back, so weaning is on the horizon, but I don't like being pressured for all the wrong reasons to wean my child.  And why is the pressure on?  At least in part due to my nieces.

I have two bright, intelligent nieces, who have witnessed my breastfeeding Aaron.  Never has my chest been bared in doing this.  Never have I been lewd in my manner of feeding him, and yet, their parents now request they leave the room when I'm breastfeeding.  Why?  Because they began imitating life.  They began "nursing" their "babies."  They have been discouraged from this.  Why?  Why are we teaching our little girls that this is unacceptable play?  Why is it not OK for our little girls to imitate nursing, but it is completely acceptable for them to "bottle feed" their "babies"?  It's no wonder so many young mothers simply don't feel comfortable breastfeeding . . .  We're starting them off quite young with the understanding that it simply isn't acceptable.  And honestly, I find this unacceptable.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

May 2010 Vacation

It's been a week since our return, so finally I update you on our vacation . . .

We traveled approximately 1,400 miles to our destination - Lyonsdale, NY, where Ron grew up.  I had the pleasure of navigating this journey, and was rewarded with the experience of witnessing Ron continually being frustrated by the idiocy of his fellow drivers.  I have to admit that it was a bit annoying at times, as what appears to be most Americans apparently think the left hand lane is the travel lane.  Of course the driver that I remember best is the man who was driving while shaving . . . yes, shaving!

The first stop of our road trip was in Gadsden, AL at Noccalula Falls.  We didn't actually enter the park, but we did picnic under the pavilions and take a peek at the falls.  The real highlight of this stop came above the falls where the ducks were in the shallow waters.  We fed the ducks with Aaron.  I had never fed ducks either, but watching Aaron watching them; this was pure joy!

We then continued driving, and outside of stopping to eat or stretch, we did not stop until we reached Natural Bridge, VA.  It had been my intention to arrive much earlier in the day and tour the Natural Bridge, the Caverns, and the Native American Village, but we did not arrive until around 7:30 or 8 pm . . . well after the attractions were closed for the day.  We spent the night at the Natural Bridge Hotel in one of their cottage rooms.  The next morning, we chose to forgo the attractions in favor of an early start, and we left around 6:30 am.

Day two of our drive was pretty non-eventful.  We enjoyed the views as we traveled up I-81, and we made a few stops to stretch our legs and eat, but nothing special.  Then we reached the state of New York, where I came to a new navigational realization.  Now if you take road trips often, you probably already know the tidbit of info I'm about to share . . .  When traveling on the interstate, the exit number correspond with the mile markers.  This makes traveling really easy.  You can look at your directions off Google Map, and if you're at mile marker 3, you know you have about 3 miles to reach exit 6.  It's a really great system!  Unfortunately, it appears New York missed out on the memo outlining this system, which is why I missed Exit 6 in Binghamton, NY somewhere past mile marker 8!  Thankfully, I'm pretty decent with a map, so out came the road atlas, which I used to take a cross road at the next exit and get us back on route.  There was one other navigational snafu where Ron took us on an unintended detour, but nothing serious.  Then, just North of Utica, NY, we were pulled over . . . 77 in a 55 . . .  hey, it was 4 lane and down hill!  Thankfully, the officer was really nice, and Ron has a clean driving record.  The officer told us to be careful and slow down and sent us on our way.

We finally arrived at our hotel around 5:30 pm, and Aaron and I waited in the car while Ron ran in to secure a room.  We then drove on up to his parents' house, where Aaron and I met Ron's parents for the first time.

My FIL/MIL live in a small house tucked way back in the woods.  They are quite self sufficient, even generating their own power.  That's right, they don't have a power bill!  A small stream runs in front of their home.  It has been dammed off to form a pond, and the overflow has been directed into a water wheel, which generates power.  Seriously, how cool is that?  They also have deer come right up into their backyard to feed.

We spent a total of four days with his family, and I greatly enjoyed meeting all of them.  Ron and I have been married nearly 9 years, and this is the first time I've ever met my in-laws, but honestly, it felt as though I'd always known them.  Everyone was so welcoming to me, and it truly felt like going home. 

Here's Ron and Aaron with Ron's parents, Ronnie & Nancy:

Here are some other shots of family:

We also saw Lyons Falls . . . I love waterfalls!

On our way home we stopped in Pine Grove, PA and visited Sweet Arrow Lake, where we saw another waterfall and got pictures in front of the lake:

On the way home we spent a day in Washington, DC.  If traveling to DC, I suggest staying at a hotel near the Metro.  Then, you don't have to drive at all.  The way to travel in DC, is definitely the Metro, and I was actually pretty good at navigating it before the day was over.  I also suggest you allot more than one day to this city if you actually want to see very much.  We flew through two museums (barely skimming the surface) and then we took Aaron to the zoo.  He loved seeing all the different animals.  Here are just a couple of favorites.

Please see my album on Facebook for more vacation pics!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Blackmail File

Oh, our poor children.  They have no idea how the things bringing them such innocent entertainment could pop back up in about 15 or so years and be used to blackmail them!

We may never know what is so fascinating to him now about a bra, but we shall keep these in the blackmail file for future use!  :-)

Friday, April 30, 2010

. . . and My Son Shall Say, "Meow!"

We have a lovely cat . . . Oreo.  Aaron loves her dearly.  Since he's become mobile, she has gotten more exercise than in all her 10 years.  Aaron follows her everywhere, and when she gets still for very long, he inevitably lays on top of her.  I think it's his little boy effort to hug her, but at this age, he hasn't quite figured out how to do so without laying his full weight on her.  I'm so happy that she's been amazingly tolerant of Aaron's attentions.

What Aaron also has a love for is cat food.  I've tried everything!  I've redirected his attention.  I've spatted hands.  I've sternly said no.  Short of placing the cat food out of his reach, I cannot keep him out of it!  Sure, I know logically that it's not going to hurt him, but still . . . yuck!  This cannot possibly taste good!  Not to mention a little boy with cat food breath is also not the best smell in the world!  Sigh!  I suppose I should look at it positively.  It is indoor formula cat food, so at least Aaron shouldn't develop any hairballs any time soon!  LOL

Of course, I've been comforting myself with the fact that Aaron had not yet discovered the litter pan.  This discovery has been delayed by closing the bathroom door.  I know you can guess where this is going . . .  Ron left the bathroom door open.  I'm trying to finish supper, and we noticed Aaron was very quiet.  Now all parents can tell you, contrary to what one might think, this is not a good thing!  Ron went to check on him, and the next thing I hear is, "Darlin'?  Can you please come?  I need your help!"  And what should I find in the bathroom?  A helpless husband, and a little boy that's a bit perplexed.  He can't possibly understand what is so distressing at this moment, as he stands there . . . with cat litter in his hair, all over his clothes, on top of the closed toilet lid, in the bathtub, and all over the floor.  His main concern at that moment is that Daddy was holding him, and he couldn't continue with his fun!  I am so thankful that I'd just cleaned that litter pan, meaning it'd been sifted, not that this was new clean litter!  First step, clean all the litter out of the tub.  And that doesn't mean washing it down the drain.  It is after all clumping litter.  Once the tub was clear of litter, Aaron was stripped and plopped in bathwater to play with his duckies while Mommy cleaned up the remainder of the mess!

And while Ron has been most attentive to closing the bathroom door since this event, the solution to ending the consumption of cat food has yet to be found.  If this continues, I fully expect to hear Aaron say, "Meow!"
Aaron & Oreo both giving me a little while of peace!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easter 2010

Aaron experienced his second egg hunt of the season on Easter Sunday at my Memaw's.  It was a most enjoyable small family gathering.  The egg hunting enthusiasts, including myself, didn't seem quite so enthusiastic this year.  The eggs were only hidden and hunted once.  Honestly, I pretty much stink at hunting eggs.  Put me into egg hunting battle with the average kid, and I will lose - every time.  So, with me as his only help, Aaron is pretty much doomed.  Fortunately, he had plenty of help Sunday and ended up with 14 eggs in his basket . . . which I figure is quite a haul for a 15 month old!  Here are a couple of pictures . . . one with Mommy, and one with Daddy.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring Break 2010

So, it's been two and a half weeks since my last update, but in my defense, I've been quite busy!

For the week following my last update I was swamped at work.  Afterall, I was taking some vacation time last week, and had to get my desk clear before being off.  Then of course, I took that time off, and really, you can't expect me to keep you all updated via dial-up . . . can you?

So, I quite enjoyed my Spring Break.  Really, it was Ron's Spring Break from school.  I just chose to take my vacation time so I could be off with him.  We worked on a few projects on our property, where we plan to build our dream home.  One of those projects was painting the shed.  We've yet to complete that project, but it's about 3/4 of the way done and looking quite nice . . . out with the gray and in with the green.

We also ran a little plumbing.  When our well was put down, a faucet was attached to the tank, but when we built the pump house around it, that left the faucet inside the pump house.  So, we removed the original faucet, added some plumbing, drilled a hole, and we now have a faucet outside the pump house.  It's the small things.  Aaron was doing helpful things like playing with cans of cleaning compound and plumbing cement (I promise those cans were closed very tightly!).

Of course we spent some time with family.  At our Friday night dinner with my parents, Aaron got to swing with his cousins, Linzey and McKayla.  He then played piano with Linzey and I (McKayla got in on this after we'd put the camera away).

And then on Saturday, we attended our first egg hunt of the season.  Aaron discovered a love of the trampoline and found his first egg.

Oh, and the fun continued later that evening as he discovered he could walk . . . Really!  Which you can view here, since I can't figure out how to upload video into this thing!