Sunday, March 30, 2008

Holly's Lip Repair

Holly, 3 months old just before Lip Repair Surgery

Here she still has stitches above her lip and those pesky nose stents

This is Day 6 after surgery
Stents and arm braces off! And no stitches above the lip.
Still several dissolvable stitches on her lip, though.
This is Day 8 after surgery. Really unbelievable...

Gladys Kravitz

A few weeks ago, our neighbors had a party. I never knew how much time I spent in the kitchen near the window. Until I tried to avoid staring at their party all day! I felt just like Gladys Kravitz on "Bewitched" spying on her neighbors.

I used to love that show. Until Harry Potter ruined it for me. I couldn't explain the difference between a sitcom about magic and a novel about magic. So we quit watching the show. In the end my oldest read the novels anyway. You do what it takes to win the biggest trophy in school! Some really good marketing going on there. He doesn't seemed to have suffered any ill effects from being exposed to Harry. In the end he still likes Star Wars and Bionicals better (more magic?).

So what is my hangup with magic anyway? Who doesn't want to conquer the space time contiuum? Or be omniscient like "Q" in Star Trek? Or fly on a broom and rescue your friends from their perilous situation? Or even more magical, find a cure for Cancer, or magically close Holly's palate with the wave of a wand....

Here's the rub: If you look for magic everyday, than you miss the everyday Miracles. Miracles like the flowers in Spring, one last cold rainy day before the Summer heat or the arrival of your new born baby, puppies and kittens too. If you are looking for magic, you might mistake the The Miracle of things like the stigmata, Marian apparitions, and most of all The Eucharist for something less than Divine.

I pass on the magic, hope you look for some Miracles today too!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's Raining, It's Pouring

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain! - Anon.

No sense in waiting for the storms to pass in Holly Marie's life. Must learn to dance now!

Day 1-3 Birth, in hospital, 2 feeding tubes, 2 xrays and the biliruben light.
Day 4-14 At home, mostly peaceful, many visitors :-) 1st visit to Baptist
Day 15 Mini Special Needs Feeders tear. Holly rejects new nipples.
Week 3-4 Chaos begins. Reflux sets in. Try two different bottles.
Holly schedule is like this: Bottle 1 hr, Cry 1 hr, Sleep 30 mins, start over.
Week 5 Reflux induced Apnea episode, go to ER. 2nd visit to Baptist, Begin Prevacid.
Week 6-7 Wait for Prevacid to make "Big Difference"
Week 8-11 Try 4th bottle, it works best. Try 4 types of formula settle on Nutramigen.
Week 11-12 All bottle nipples tear, start on 5 new nipples, Holly reverts to drinking 2 ozs at a time
Week 13 Can't remember must have been peaceful! :-0
Week 14-15 1st Ear Infection
Week 16-17 1st Surgery: Lip Repair and Stitch Removal
Week 18 Begin Teething, Pediatrician noticed two small white bumps on bottom gum. Not quite teeth yet, but soon.

Here is the dancing part: Holly learned to roll over sometime in Feburary and began laughing, real belly laughs in March. She began to talk alot, especially when those braces were on. Lee swears she was saying, Daddy, please don't put those on.... And of course, most recently we are dancing with a New Smile!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Baby, oh baby

Holly is doing so much And the lesson I am learning is that TODAY is no prediction of what TOMORROW will bring with little Miss Chili Pepper.

Which brings me to why are we continuing to homeschool? I defer to Danielle Bean's blog on this topic because she answers this question so completely. So what will my children have learned this year? Hopefully some reading, writing and arithmetic. And more likely some works of mercy, like caring for the sick, perserverance in trying times, and even turning to prayer in stressful situations.

I can't say that there is a test for this type of information, or even if my children would pass this test. Still leaning of God's Grace to carry us through.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

American Food

Just read last week's edition of the Catholic News and Herald. There were some really great articles about the difference Catholics are making in immigrants lives. Things like marching to protest poor working conditions, holding workshops to educate people on different Visas and opportunities to help immigrants gain legal status in the US. And even a cooking course to learn to cook American food.

Let's see some truly American foods that come to mind are: hamburgers, hot dogs, frozen chicken nuggets, biscuits in a can, Kraft Mac-N-Cheese, Hamburger Helper, Rice-a-Roni, Lean Cuisinne...hmmm not sure this is a good thing. How about them teaching us to cook Spanish food. With the fresh ingredients and made from scratch approach, it has got to be healthier than our version. Or teach them to cook Italian or French. But American?

The only American food that comes to mind, that I have no objection to at all, is Apple Pie. Never anything wrong with that! I'd even teach that class.

Curiouser and Curiouser

I'm pretty sure we are not in Wonderland. But it sure does seem like time has begun to stand still. And Holly's lip repair seems better and worse, as if she were Alice, getting bigger and smaller through the day.

Any simple advice on persevering through this next 24 hours? Dad says, stiff upper lip. And that seems to be the approach. My prayers are even more basic today. From the full refrain to the Divine Chaplet down to just "Jesus, please have mercy on me, on Holly."

Holly has done really well up until Easter Sunday night. Just one more day, one more night.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Timing is Everything

I really, really wanted Holly's lip repair to be completed before Easter. I was thinking what a nice thing it would be to have post-surgery pretty Easter pictures of our new and improved family. I know: I have priority issues...

But I got one part of my prayer answered, Holly's surgery was before Easter. And another prayer answered that I didn't even know about. Having this scheduled right at Eastertime has given me a new perspective on the whole experience. It would be very easy to sink into a little despair and pity. Not that I haven't shed a tear or two.

Still Easter week does throw a whole new light on our current situation. This is tough, and it is sad to see Holly this way, when all the other little girls will be in Easter dress.

But it was worse for Him and His mother.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Holly Marie Today

Pre-op. These little gowns say "Soooooooo Big" Cute!Post-Op Day Two. The wrapping on her hand is to protect the iv site.
The iv is for antibiotics and fluids.

The New Smile!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

How do you know you are doing God's Will? Is there some sign, or even a billboard saying "God's Will 2 miles ahead"? No, most of the time I am not so informed.

Yesterday a little prayer booklet came in the mail. A prayer for Hope written by Thomas Merton is included. It is no surprise that I have doubts about my decisions, but that some one as educated and well written as Thomas Merton, would also have similar thoughts...well, well. Maybe God does send plain signs, or booklets, after all.

For Hope, by Thomas Merton:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I belive that the desire to please You, does in fact please You.

And I hope I have that desire in all I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I do know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust You always though I may seem lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

If I Were A Bulldog

and growled and barked all day, then what would you do? I'd be a bulldog Mommy and sit right there with you!
So goes the great children's book If I Were A Moose. My sister, LeighAnn, gave me this book when my first child was born. I love reading it and replace the child's name with my own kids name, depends on who I am reading it too.

But that is not the main point here. Really this is about ANGER. And a grouchy bulldog is how I feel these days. And I want to know: God, if I growl and bark all day, what would you do? I think His answer is the same as the mom in the book: "Well, I'd still be your Father and I will sit right there with you all day too."

I do trust Him enough to know, even when my heart doubts, the Truth. Which brings me to dealing with Anger. As this mom in Australia wrote, just when you think you have overcome the shock, grief, fear and anger of your newborn baby being different than you expected, along comes the first surgery and you start all over again.

We went to our pre-op visit, had Holly's vital's checked, learned about her feeding schedule during the night before the surgery and finally signed those liability release forms. As Lee whispered later in the day "Peg, death wasn't even the last thing that could go wrong. There were two more items on the list!!" We know that is worst case stuff and Holly will be fine, even better than fine when all this is over. Still all those feelings are back.
So here goes the Anger Management/Trust In God/Walk In The Light part. I know it is not quite Divine Mercy Sunday, but will you join me in praying this novena for our daughter, all our children, and especially for God to have Mercy on me and Lee to overcome this anger. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Orange Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

Ok, so this is all about simplifying life right? Well, this crock-pot recipe took 4 of us to make! But is so good, I am passing it along anyway:

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 T flour; 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup; 3/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1 t brown sugar; 1 t grated orange peel; 1 small can sliced mushrooms

Place sweet potatoes in crock pot. Mix remaing ingredients, pour over potatoes. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. (Depends on how thick those slices are!)

4 boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced into strips (or use those handy chicken tenders!)
2/3 cup flour;1 t salt; 1 t onion powder; 1 t ground nutmeg; 1 t ground cinnamon; 1 t pepper

Mix flour and spices in a plastic bag. Shake chicken in bag. Pan fry in 2 T butter about 5 mins each side, until done. Or if you prefer to melt the butter in a cookie sheet, place floured chicken on the hot butter and then bake the chicken at 350 for about 15-20 mins do that!

Serve with rice, sweet potatoes and chicken on top, cover with sauce from crock pot! Yum!

The original recipe had the chicken in the crock pot, but the crispy coating turned mushy, so I don't recommend that! Next time, I will bake the chicken separately. But this was not "set it and forget it dish." Daddy mixed the spices, Anna peeled potatoes and made sauce, Bill zested an orange and I browned the chicken. Smart Lee Allison avoided the kitchen while this was going on....How is that for a production, just for one dinner!

Art Work

My oldest daughter, Anna, is quite the Crafty Queen. Here are some of her recents creations.

The last picture is made from really cool stuff called "Play Foam" from Educational Insights. This stuff is waaay cooler than "Floam" that you get at discount stores. The other pictures are from an Art Lesson at school.

Blog Envy

So many other Catholic moms have such neat sites with lots of pictures. If you scroll through the Catholic Moms Online list, you can pick and choose some to visit. Just click.

In particular, Karen Edmisten, had a neat site with lots of pictures of coffee beans :-) in honor of Daylight Savings Time. And as the days have turned into weeks, and weeks into months of no sleep, I too am beginning to appreciate the beauty of a coffee bean!

On the other hand, I have to agree with Laura K about Cat Poop Coffee! No Thanks.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Thomas Gets a Bad Rap

There are lots of Thomas' in my family. Best of all is my Dad!

Still the most famous Christian Thomas must be the Apostle Thomas, also known as, Doubting Thomas. You remember in the upper room, he missed Jesus' visit. Thomas said he wouldn't believe unless he touched the wounds himself.

This past Sunday however, in the Gospel reading, in the brackets to be omitted if the celebrant chooses, Thomas shows quite a different side of himself. Particularly COURAGE!

Jesus delays a visit to his close friend, Lazarus. Understandably so when you read verses 8-9 (John Ch. 11): The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?" What Thomas says is the subplot to the greater miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Even marked by brackets to be left out!!

When Jesus declares that no matter what he is going back to Judea so that they may believe, Thomas shows COURAGE: "Let us also go to die with him."

So there is more than meets the eye to this doubting disciple. He was ready to go with Jesus to die, even before the he knew about The Cross.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Truth about Trust

I wish I could say all this "Trust In God" talk was easy. You say it and it happens. But no, not for me anyway. Many years ago, I read this thought somewhere: "I want to have walked in the light for so long, that when the darkness comes I will still know the way." Ever since then, I have used that to compel me to develop new habits. One of which is walking in the Light, also know as Trust in God.

I began with little things like: Dear God, You know I have this little boy and I am 9 mos pregnant, can I have a good parking space? And my reactions were little too: Surprised when God answer my little prayer.

Over time my requests became bigger, finances, healing, peace, forgiveness and responses have changed to from Surprise to Awe. He still answers.

I wish I could say my Trust in God was some great life changing leap of faith. But really this has been a habit I have been working on for a long time. God, ever faithful, has been merciful to lead me in this way. I, ever doubtful, remain in awe of His compassion and concern for my life.

Now when my prayers have taken a monumental turn of importance, I have walked in the light so long, that I still know the way. I am full of doubt, anxiety and a good dose of fear. But over riding all of that is Trust. A habit leading me to turn to God instead of away from Him.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Like A Child

Luke 18:17 Jesus said "Amen, I say to you whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it."

Just the other day, I went to the store to by baby formula with Holly and Anna. As we were in line, a very normal thing happened when you bring a baby carrier into a store. A woman in line walked around me to see the baby. Since it was so early in the morning, I really wasn't up for what might happen next, so I did not turn around to initiate a conversation. Some people pretend there is nothing different about Holly, others are sympathetic, some just turn around, as if they didn't mean to approach after all. I think that is what this lady did, begin to approach and then turn around.

Anna has handled this with only the wisdom of a child, seeing the kingdom of God. She remarked once we were in the car: 'Hey mom, I think that seeing little babies at the store is so rare that some people are surprised at how little they are." Anna never, ever thinks about Holly's smile. Even when Holly was just born and my sisters explained what they would see when they came to visit at the hospital, Anna's first comment was "I think she is so beautiful no one will even notice her lip!"

I need to learn to be more like Anna, a lot less cynical and a whole lot more forgiving. Especially to see "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done" right here and now.

Why is this man blind?

One of the readings from this past weekend included the miracle of Jesus healing the man born blind. John Chapter 9. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned this man or his parents that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him."

I can't help but ask this same question for our family, "Rabbi, who sinned this girl or her parents that she was born with a cleft?" Was there something I did? My husband did? Could we have prevented it? These seem like difficult questions to answer. Yet, Jesus does not leave even the difficult questions unanswered.

Jesus answered, "neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him." Already I have seen the works of God made visible through the birth of our daughter. The first and most important is the God worked in our hearts to change us to want another child! No small thing for two people who really were committed to "God willing, no more children." But slowly and surely, God opened our eyes to the possibility of new life for our family. A wonderful work of God to start with.

Most recent is this particular reading. It fell to this year, in the Church cycle of readings to be included. God, in his mercy, knew what words of encouragement we would need. Precisely when we would need them. He does care about every little detail.

What other works of God will be made visible through our daughters life, I do not know yet. Surely as Jesus healed the blind man for his good purpose, I know my daughter's future is in his hands and I Trust In Him.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Current Events for Kids

Found this neat website to help add to our homeschool day:
There are several Top News Stories listed in a kid friendly format. Easy to use, my oldest son is listening and/or reading two stories a day and writing a short report. (If you know Lee, it is a very short report!) Still it will help broaden his awareness of what is going on in the world, without me worrying about censoring our local paper. Some actual headlines printed here should be R-rated for Violence!

Hope you enjoy this site too!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Simply Diet

Guess what I learned today? You can not cure a back pain with half a pan of Cranberry Apple Crisp. No matter how delicious it is! I should have known better. But felt so bad, I fell into an old habit, thinking food would make me feel better.

Have you tried to lose weight? The most simple plan I have ever followed, and am still following is The Light Weigh by Suzanne Fowler. Look it up on the web. This is a Catholic spiritual growth weigtht loss plan.

The best part is its simplicity. You must give your self up to God's will, trust in Him. That is the hardest part. There is no calorie counting, carb loading, or point system. Just trust.

How simple can you get?