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I Am... Mama and Writer

First Mama.  Then Writer.  Though, of late, the latter has consumed a great deal of time as I work to get things in order to potentially be ...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Midwife News
We had our midwife appointment this morning. Everything went well and it seems my uterus is doing some weird things! If you remember, last time (2 weeks ago) I measured 35 centimeters. Well, this morning I measured 33! How strange, right? So, we're not going in for an ultrasound since 33 centimeters would only be 3 weeks ahead of a normal reading and MY normal is 2 weeks ahead... so not far off.

The Unborn
The baby has been super active today. I think it's taken a break for the last couple days so it has lots of energy. Also, I missed my walk for the second day in a row today... so baby didn't get it's normal quota of braxton hicks confinement... so it may be feeling extra free and floaty! heehee

The heart rate for this baby has been quite low for the last two visits now. Wives tales suggest that lower heart rates are attributed to boys. But there are plenty of girls who come out after such readings! ^_^ So... it's still TOTALLY up in the air about THAT!

In Other News
Jess has decided to throw in the towel on the non-smoking thing. Ria is still praying that he will stop and become a non-smoker. I'm just determined that he should do what he has to do for himself. Kat is clueless. :)

Monday, July 28, 2008


days left.

The Belly
I can really not believe that I'm this far along... and then... I CAN! My belly is so big! I'm pretty sure I'm measuring full-term already. I'll find out for sure on Wednesday. But the weird pains I haven't had until the last few weeks have been happening for the last week - ALREADY. You know, the weird pulling sensation on the back of the belly button, the s-tr-e-e-e-t-ch feeling in the front of the belly, and most painfully problematic: the inability to properly gauge belly girth! My belly button is as shallow as it ever has been with either prior pregnancy, so that's a good indicator that the belly is HUGE! Thus far, though, I haven't got a stretch mark to show for all the weirdness. That's pretty cool, I think. Probably this is due to the fact that I'm pretty sure I'm losing fat as the belly gets huge, so the skin is sort of staying in place.... or something. I don't know.

I'm hungry all the time now. It started in for real last Wednesday. Basically, I have to eat AT LEAST every 4 hours or I get this really painful nagging in my stomach. I've tried drinking water/my preggie tea to see if I'm just short of liquids, which I think is unlikely with as much as I'm constantly drinking, but it's definitely not hunger pains requesting water! I've even had to get up out of bed in the middle of the night and REALLY early in the morning to get food, which I only remember doing in the last couple of weeks with Ria and Kat's pregnancies. This had better be: a) a boy, or b) twins to be as different an annoying a pregnancy as it is this time around!

Sleeping Beauties
Ria and Kat have been sleeping better, I think. I blacked out the windows in their rooms. This morning they slept until after 9am!!! Prior to the black out they were waking between 7:30am and 8:30am. I know these times probably seem really laid back to lots of Mamas, but considering Jessie's schedule (and how late I have to stay up to spend time with him alone... EVER!) the times they were waking up before were just way too dang early! I can definitely deal with 9am-ish much more easily! :)

Today Ria spent almost an hour in her room. It was strange because this is not something she normally chooses of her own accord. I mean, she usually gets sent to her room when she's in trouble. So, after about 30 minutes I went back to ask her if I'd sent her to her room. She looked at me in a funny way and told me that I hadn't. I acknowledged that and explained that I thought I hadn't, but I couldn't remember for sure. (Yet another side effect of this pregnancy that is more pronounced that the other two: SERIOUS forgetfulness! I couldn't remember where I put my church bag yesterday! When I found it I commented to one of the members of the Primary Presidency that I was sure I'd put it somewhere smart... and I was glad to realize I was right by finding it where it was! I've been in nursery with Sage, which I love, so keeping my bag with me would not have been the brightest idea.)

So, what was Ria doing? I can just imagine you might wonder, since she was hanging out back there in her room for so long of her own accord. She was sitting next to her book shelf (not yet completely full of books, but nicely stocked) and READING, of course! She is SUCH an awesome reader! I love that she loves to read both to herself and to her sister. What a blessing!!!

Hide and Seek With Daddy

Jessie is SO good at turning silly things into HUGE fun. Today Ria REALLY wanted him to play hide and seek with her. She wanted HIM to take turns in hiding and seeking with her. He didn't feel like it, I guess, so he turned it into hiding Kat for Ria to find. Now, this would totally not work with me because I don't have THE FORCE for making silly things fun as Jess does. He would rush Ria off with over-exaggerated urgency that she hurry off so Kat could hide. (If you know Jess at all, then you know how uncharacteristic it is for him to be really excitably or emotional about much of anything.) Then he would, in the same exaggerated urgency help Kat hide somewhere and then call Ria out. It turned out to be, what looked like to me, the best fun either of them had enjoyed in a while! And it started from something that neither wanted to do! Jess is so great with the girls when he wants to be!!! ^_^ I LOVE IT!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Just Pluggin' Along

We've had a few time consuming activities as of late. They are pretty much inter-related and still very iffy, so I'm not going to go into the nitty gritty as yet. We are hopeful that something good could be in our near future (pertaining to Jessie's career and our finances). If you feel so inclined, say a prayer for us that things start looking up. It would be (will be!) greatly appreciated!

Ria and Kat spent the morning with Mary, Victoria, and Ms. Sage yesterday. It was SUCH a treat and such a sweet and generous service by my friend, Sage. She came all the way out here to pick them up and then brought them home AND bought them ice cream on the way! She wanted them to look forward to spending time with them again. Ice cream wasn't necessary for that, I'm QUITE sure! So sweet and amazingly thoughtful. Don't you think?


I've still been walking. 5 days per week, even! The belly is getting pretty huge, but for whatever reason I don't feel myself needing to waddle as yet. At least, I don't feel the need for waddle most of the time! Perhaps it is BECAUSE of all the walking I do for exercise. That would be cool, eh? This week, thus far, I've been able to walk for at least 60 minutes each day. I feel really terrific about that... very pleased with myself and GRATEFUL for the cooperative weather! Even on Wednesday, when I didn't go walking, there was this HUGE crazy thunderstorm from about 3pm until 5, or so. But right around 6:30pm, when I'm trying to depart my home, the weather was lovely for walking. I was just SO beat after the temple trip and Jess went in to work (at the last minute) so I felt it was better to calmly stay at home rather than get frustrated with the bickering babies! :)

Starting a Part-Time, ANY time, Gig
I'm not yet fully approved, but I'm through with all the preliminary stuff for this Gig that I can do from home, on the internet, as much, or as little as I want... WHENEVER I want! and earn some money. It's not a huge payment per service rendered, but my sister-in-law (Jessie's sis) has been doing it for a bit and purchased a Wii for her girls with her earnings. So, I figure it could help us put a dent in our debt OR increase our food storage purchasing power! And addition to the latter will be VERY valuable!!! ^_^ I'm leaning toward the food storage purchasing initially, but once I feel we're covered/safe there it would definitely go toward our debt issues. I'm hopeful!

I'll let you know how it goes. I will, of course, invite you to join my team (though I'm not exactly sure what "my team" is or means). And I'll hope that you're interested if it's as flexible and easy as it seems to be thus far. Oh, and no monetary output required at all. The initial investment is time spent in reading all the rules and completing the required (EASY) tests. For me, that "investment" hasn't been tiny because of my beautiful distractions ;) BUT totally worth it if I can make any sort of an addition to our finances on a regular basis. Ya know?

Potty Training

Kat is doing quite well. She's only had one accident today. Yesterday none (though she wasn't in training mode full-on because of the day's activities). The day before I think she had an accident or two. But considering all things, she is really progressing amazingly well in this endeavor!

Ria is FULL of pretend worlds and plans. She's so fun and funny to watch because she's SO often putting bits and pieces of her Disney movies together in strange sequences in her pretend play with Kat. Ria loves to play with Mama and Daddy. The BEST thing about playing with her parents, I think, is getting to tell them what to do! I swear it's the only "safe" way she can command her elders and she seems to really LOVE it. I suppose that's pretty normal and understandable! I mean, most of the time she's got to do what she's asked rather than get to tell others what to do. Less frequently, but sometimes, I do see and hear her integrating things she's read into her pretend play. More often, though, the reading comes out in her information sharing/teaching. Can you imagine what a joy THAT is for me?? I LOVE IT!!!!

Thankfully, right now, we are all well. My only complaints are the fatigue (mental and physical), heartburn, and discomfort (especially when trying to sleep), but given the circumstance (pregnancy), that's not much to complain about! Jess is tired because he's not sleeping well, either. I swear this is mostly because of me, but he blames it on other things. I still feel bad because I'm tossing and turning a LOT these days! I have noticed that when I sleep on the couch (because the position there supports my body very nicely!) he seems much more rested in the morning. ahwell... Jess has a lot more pregnancy symptoms this time around than he did when I was preggie with Kat. He had some sympathetic pregnancy stuff when I was preggie with Ria, but I think it's probably more this time than then, even. Pretty interesting, huh?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Temple Trip and Disgruntled Daddy

Temple Trip
Yesterday was our monthly family temple trip. It was wonderful! We went last month, but it was a Monday, so I didn't even get to go inside. Yesterday I actually got to do an endowment for the first time in AGES, so it was REALLY wonderful for me!

When we arrived at the temple I rushed in, hoping to make it for the first session. I didn't. So, I went out to ask if we could hang out for a little while, eat our picnic as breakfast, and stay for the two hours for me to do a session at 9am. Jess was cool with it, so that's what we did. The very first thing we almost always do when we go to the temple is to go in as a family to use the bathroom. Now that Kat is potty train(ing) (ed?) we probably really NEED to do it. :) So, we walked up to the temple from our parking spot. As we're walking in the parking lot the girls have to hold a hand and Ria sort of wistfully and happily says, "Isn't it wonderful to be at the temple together as a family!?" That comment just warmed my heart all the way through! It REALLY is wonderful to go to the temple together! I'm so grateful that Jess supports my desire for the family trips and spends some really wonderful time with the girls while I'm doing some work inside. It's just amazing and SUCH a blessing to me that our girls love the temple SO much! I KNOW it's because they are there frequently and can feel how it FEELS to be there - not just see that it's something important to Mama that Mama goes off to do! ^_^ We LOVE to see the temple!!!

Disgruntled Daddy

While I was inside Jess and the girls spent some time getting gas in the van, looking for a McyD's (for a playground and some ice cream), and then went to the regular playground. The gas in Orlando was $3.91 as opposed to $4.14 (least expensive) in Flagler County! So, we filled up from almost nothing. Can we say, "UGH!" It was $92 to fill up! Crazy, huh!?!?! That wasn't a problem at all for Jess. We found the gas station on the way to the temple so he just went back there.

From there he looked for the treat place (McyD's) and didn't find one at all. He didn't find a place with a playground AT ALL. Isn't that crazy!!?? On our way back to the itnerstate from the temple I looked the whole way and there wasn't a single fast food joint with a playground! WEIRD!

After not being able to find the treat spot, Jess took the girls back to the playground they normally frequent. The girls always love it, but Jess gets tired of the same thing. But that's not what bothered him. They spent some time there and the girls played. There were actually THREE other Daddy's there with their children (and no wives). The fact that there are Daddy's with their children is wonderful, of course, but Jess hadn't EVER seen another Daddy out with just his kids at that playground before. So, Jess introduced himself to the one Daddy that was hangin' out by himself. The other two were chatting together. Well, Mike, was there with his son, Eric. Ria and Eric became fast friends. When I called to tell Jess I was finished, he let the girls know it was time to leave. Kat was ready in a heart-beat (unusual!), but Ria didn't want to leave her newfound friend. Eric didn't want Ria to leave either. Rather than deal with a farewell, Eric headed to the place his Dad was keeping their cooler. He sat down on a bench and sort of pouted. Jess suggested Ria go over to say good-bye, which she did (also unusual because she normally tries to ignore good-byes). Jess is observing from a point outside of hearing range when Ria sits down next to Eric and said something to him. Then Ria hugs Eric to say good-bye and moves to leave. Eric grabs her back to him, hugs her tight again, and then plants a bug fat KISS on her cheek!

Of course, I know it's just on the cheek and all because I've heard the whole story now, but when Jess told me about the incident initially the look on his face made me think the kid had lip locked her or something! Seriously!!! Jess was so totally NOT happy about the fact that he had just observed his eldest daughter being smooched. It was absolutely hilarious to me to find out that not only had it just been a cheek kiss, but that Jess was just as disgruntled during the telling of it as he'd appeared when he informed me that "Ria had been kissed." What a RIOT! ^_^

We had the pleasure of having Victoria, a friend of Ria's, over to play for a little while today. It was really nice! Sage, Mary, and Victoria actually came to the library for story time this morning and then Victoria came home with us to play with Ria. After playing at the playground for a little while, we had a small lunch together and then Ria had the joy of playing pretend and dress-up with her friend. This is THE FIRST "big" activity with any other little children we've had for the summer. I've been so fatigued that I couldn't even consider the idea until a couple weeks ago. And then because of scheduling and me getting sick with the chest cold crud we couldn't have Victoria over to play for a little while even though I'd mentioned it to Sage. But it was really wonderful today!

Sage is just the sweetest lady and such a dear friend!! She actually brought us lunch when she came all the way out here to pick up her daughter, as a way to say thank you! Can you believe it? I mean, she brought her daughter all the way out here AND picked her up. That's TOTALLY a huge thank you to me because I didn't have to do anything to have her daughter to play with Ria! Except HAVE her here and that was just a joy.

On top of all that Jess and I have a business sort of meeting tomorrow morning and I had planned to ask and DID ask Sage if she would mind watching Ria and Kat for us. She totally didn't and then offered to come pick them up AND bring them home since she was going to be out and about anyway! So, not only is she serving me, but she's TOTALLY going the extra 20+ miles of driving/gas money to do it!!! I'm so blessed and so completely grateful to have such an amazing woman in my life! ^_^ Father surely loves me to have blessed me with such a friend as she!!! She's such an awesome example to me. I want to be like Sage when I "grow up."

Fried Veggies
So, my Mom used to make friend okra, squash, zucchini, and other veggies for our family when I was a kid. We would dip them in ketchup (ungrateful kiddos) and eat 'em up! Out of nowhere I got this HUGE craving for fried squash and zucchini (which we had in the fridge) a few nights ago. I told Jess. He was pretty much asleep so it's amazing his response was comprehensible, "I don't think there's anywhere that sells that stuff this late." I had to laugh because I wasn't thinking, "Let's go out and buy this." I was thinking, "Would you pleeeease make this for me because I REALLY want some!" You know... a weird twist on the preggie woman asking her partner to go to the grocery store for ice cream and pickles in the middle of the night. He didn't hear the hinted at request and I didn't ask him outright because it WAS pretty late. I just was hoping that the craving would disappear since I didn't get to satisfy it when it appeared.

Well, it hasn't gone the way of the dinosaur for the last few days, so I finally asked Jess to whip up some fried veggies for me today. He did, though he was sort of confused when he was preparing to do the actual egg dunking and stuff because traditional 3-step breading usually involves bread crumbs as the last step. But that's TOTALLY not how my Mom made it and I was craving that same style of stuff. So, he understood after a minute of Tori-explanation and they were totally WONDERFUL!

Basically you just cut up the veggies you want to use, (I like them kinda thick) cover them with flour, dunk them in scrambled egg, cover them with flour again, fry them up, and then sprinkle with salt. I HIGHLY recommend that if you make it yourself, you taste them after they have cooled. The flavors are AWESOME and much more enjoyable when the food is cooler than if it's right out of the oil! :) So, my craving is satisfied for a little while! ^_^ What a RELIEF!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Need For...

Kat has had a number of accidents in the last few days, but she's still progressing pretty quickly in her potty training. She actually does REALLY well at telling us she needs to use the potty when she's actually wearing a diaper. The trouble is, if she's in clothing she can take off, she pretty much does and then the diaper is off, too. After 3 accidents, she's in a diaper and a onsey-type outfit and then she tells me really well when she needs to pee. The pooh is pretty okay, though she did have an accident with that one the other day.

Oh, and she tried to strip at church today! UGH! I'm glad I was in nursery as a helper because she probably would have been able to otherwise. And the worst part was her timing... at the end when all the parents are picking up their little ones. It would have been really funny, but totally unacceptable to Mama.

Dress Up
I swear Ria NEEDS to dress up! I actually told her I would take her dress up clothes away if she put on another dress up dress one particular day that she wasn't being obedient about lots of things and I'd already told her not to wear the dress up things. Well, she put another dress up outfit on - so they were ALL taken away. She didn't have them for 4 or 5 days, but each day she was still dressed up! No, she didn't sneak the dress up clothes, THANKFULLY! However, her favorite derss up attire consisted of whatever she was given to wear (preferably a dress!) and then a baby blanket tied around her shoulders or under her arms and a hat of some sort (like her princess hat or Daddy's South Park hat). She even managed to find a necklace that was not confiscated and wore that a bunch. When asked about her attire, she explained that she was a princess or a mermaid or some such character which would, of course, need something to CREATE the image other than just her own clothing. :) Pretty funny... very sweet, to me!

Books books everywhere. Seriously! Ria takes books on our walks, there are books in the van, when we borrowed the car she brought books in it the couple of times she actually rode in it. This morning Ria read most of one of the Cat in The Hat books on the way to church. It's amazing how much I heard that I don't remember reading (even though I've read the book about a zillion times) as I listened to her read.

Her fluency is really amazing! I'm super impressed and feel pretty confident in saying that, for the most part, her reading ability AND comprehension levels are solidly in the first grade level.

Today I was actually asked, by a sister in my Ward who I really like, about the book I've used to teach Ria. She heard about it from a lady in the community with whom I shared the title. The funny thing about THAT is that the lady, Shannon, actually told me she really wasn't interested because she was already using something that she really liked and was working for them. I shared anyway because I love speaking to other parents who are interested in taking an active role in their children's education at home and she subsequently checked it out and has been sharing it all over town! I've actually told some people about it and they told me they heard about it from her! Those people have no idea that it originated with me, but it's SUCH a pleasure to know that I'm spreading A good word and getting some active parenting going! ^_^ Isn't that awesome?

I was really excited to talk to the sister who asked about our reading book. She was pretty interested and we had a lovely conversation about teaching reading and reading comprehension! It's really WONDERFUL to teach! I miss it and wish for opportunities to actively teach people who are truly interested. I think I will someday return to educating others as a profession... but I'll have to get my doctorate first because I think I will not be okay with any level other than college (and high level at that). We'll see. Time will tell. Perhaps there is some way I can teach now, on a larger sort of scale, that I don't know about yet. :) Or, perhaps, I'm meant, in this season, to simply share what I can where there is interest. My difficulty with that lies in the problem I have with discerning between active interest and idle curiosity. Like another lady I really like at church asked me about why we don't do ultrasound and I explained a little and she commented and I explained more. Long story... long... she basically didn't want to hear the truth as I perceive it, she was just idly curious. Ya know? anyway... Another skill set to work on!

This trimester is often characterized by nesting. It is my natural tendency, I believe, to be in that phase (at least based on the last two). Unfortunately my last nesting phase was disturbed by the fact that I had to PACK not just organize, and plan, and clean the corners of my home with a toothbrush.... I fear the same may happen (or should be happening already) again. I haven't yet started packing, though I feel like I should have by now. How annoying!

I have, however, received yet more pressure from my husband about the order of the home. Keep in mind, after the last blow up we had about it I have kept the living room, dining room, kitchen, hallway, and even Ria's room practically spotless. No, SERIOUSLY! I have been in process in our bedroom and trying to get the energy and feel the motivation to focus on the laundry room (where most of our books are kept). So, what does Jess poke at me about (in a rather not so nice way)? The closet in our bedroom, the laundry room, Ria's toys in her room/closet, and the garage! :( I'm very frustrated, even now (two days later) about it. I tackled Ria's toys yesterday (with her) instead of doing school... which has been a regular occurrence here lately. Instead of school I'm cleaning... Instead of school I'm taking care of laundry. Instead of school I'm washing dishes and getting things cleared off counters.... It's getting absolutely ridiculous. I mean, I like having a clean home just like the next person, but for me the priority is getting the rest that this ridiculous belly requires and taking care of the girls ESPECIALLY the education I have planned for them.

The main problem, I believe, lies in the unrealistic picture of life that husbands often have of what occurs when they are absent. Additionally, there are the little things that they add to the daily burden... not putting one thing away... not taking care of another thing they are either responsible for or asked to do. It's just very frustrating to me because I am so VERY tired and he seems so completely unwilling to understand the issues I was raised with and how they impact our lives. And there was a time, not so distant, when he told me that he felt one thing we BOTH needed to work on was acceptance of one another. I took that TOTALLY seriously and have REALLY worked on that and I feel like he's said it for only my benefit. Like he's the freakin' goose, or something!

I mean, if I have to choose (WHICH I DO because otherwise I'm just going CRAZY!) I would rather NOT pass on the anger issues of my upbringing and try to help my children deal with clutter as adults than feel sorrow over their struggles with yelling, spanking, and feeling generally angry all the time as adults!! Since the big blow out about a month ago I have spanked, I have yelled, and I have been generally angry SO much more than I was when I was trying NOT to care about the house so much. I'm just frustrated!!! Complicated, I'm sure my my need for:


I haven't been able to go for a walk for the last two days. The weather was dreary and drippy both Friday AND Saturday, but yesterday my back was horribly painful after working on the toys. So, no walks! I feel like my body is falling apart as a result. It's probably also due to the back pain caused by yesterday... but I'm absolutely sure that the non-walking and less good movement of the past two days is totally NOT helping. On top of the body feeling CRUDDY, I also feel like I'm WAY less able to deal with the whining and fussing that inevitably comes from my girls at various times of the day. So, I DEFINITELY feel the need for a walk! I try to refrain on Sundays, but I think it's definitely a need and will benefit me AND my family if I take care of myself in this way. So, we're going for a short one in a little while.

DINNER TIME must run.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thursday and Friday, thus far

Thursday Morning
We totally missed story time because I was too wiped out to walk over there and spend time in the sun. The girls didn't realize it, though, so at least it wasn't a huge disappointment for them. Jess went to bring back the videos we borrowed (one week limit) last Thursday and came home with the activity and surprise from Ruth, our AWESOME librarian! They did stories on dinosaurs, made a stegosaurus, and received a dino egg (a towel in an egg that opens up in water) as a surprise. So Ria is now very keen to learn more about dinosaurs. I'm excited to have a topic of study that she's interested in and curious about that is pretty specific! ^_^

Jess finished the yard work for my Visiting Teaching. That's some food/gas money that we wouldn't otherwise have. YEAY hubby!!! ^_^ He was totally wiped out after the outdoor work. He loves to work outside, but it definitely drains a person to be in the sun - especially when one is not used to it. So, he had a short bit of nap prior to leaving for work.

Thursday Evening

My walk was cut 20 minutes short by rain. It wasn't hard rain, but it was steady enough that after walking in it for about 15 minutes I was pretty near soaked. What a bummer! But at least I got 40 minutes in for the day.

The girls were both really rough today. I yelled. :( It was a difficult evening.

I actually went to bed with the lights out and everything before Jess got home. I wasn't asleep, unfortunately. Even when he came to bed about 45 minutes later I was still lying there tired as all heck and unable to sleep! It's the belly... it's definitely the size of a 35 week belly with all the discomfort that comes with that unwieldy size. I ended up on the couch about an hour later just because I would be able to prop myself up in such a way as to be able to rest enough to MAYBE fall asleep (I hoped). I was right, THANKFULLY, and finally got to sleep around 1am. That's after going to bed (in hopes of sleeping) at 10:30pm!!!!!!!! ARGH! So, I'm going to try for "early" bed time again tonight and see how it goes. We'll see.

Friday Morning
Jess got up with the girls since they went to our bedroom and I wasn't there. I was totally going to get off the couch to deal with them, but when he came out he told me to go back to bed. I was way too tired to argue, so I did. But when I saw the clock I headed for the shower because I thought we needed to leave in 30 minutes for our Primary Activity Day. After my shower, as I was trying to rush the girls to eat their breakfast, Jess informed me that the clock in our room was an hour fast! So... he sent me back to bed. Even that 45 minutes made a BIG difference!

Activity Day was a blast! The kids had SUCH a good time (and I'm not JUST talking about mine). Kitty Kat's favorite station was the water balloon slingshot! She got to sling at least 5 balloons and 2 or 3 on her own! ^_^ She was just so tickled with that!!! (It was my favorite, too, actually!)

Ria was with a group of older girls. Her favorite is Keeli. Keeli really seems to like Ria, too, which is fun to observe. I love that Ria seems drawn to some of the sweetest of the older girls. I hope this is a sign that she is a good judge of character! ^_^

Our new chorister commented about Ria's reading ability to me today. She was very impressed and asked if I planned to homeschool all the way through. She doesn't have children of her own, yet, but she also wasn't totally judgmental or opinionated about it, which was refreshing! She actually said that the plan I told her I have agreed to with Ria sounded pretty neat. You see, Ria is set on going to Public School. So, we have made an agreement that when she is finished with her "Diploma" work she can go to high school. I figure the youngest she'll likely have it completed is 14 and I think that would be workable. By then I would probably try to convince her to take Community College courses or work to make money doing something or other, but it will be her choice at that point. She'll be able to do Advanced classes and test out of college courses... I just hate the idea of her in the "high school" environment. ahwell... time will tell!

When we came home Jess got to work on the tire for the van. It's had a slow leak for a while, but it was getting faster. I was super impressed at how quickly he went from one activity to another. What a guy!!! :) He had that finished in time to get ready for work and headed off for THAT in plenty of time. I'm so super impressed.

Oh, and he returned a call and has an interview for a morning Sushi Chef job!!! I'm so excited (even though it's in Palm Coast, which means a $2 fee each day to get to the Club) because he'd get to work in a Japanese restaurant, which he has LOVED! I hope it will work out that he can take it... enough $ offered and all. Pray for us, if you think of it! :)

Still More
And the day is still young. Not much has happened thus far this afternoon and I rather hope it will be NICE and QUIET. :) I could use the peace. Ya know? But who can tell with a toddler and a youngster. ^_^

Death In The Family
Okay, to this may be a little bit of hyperbole... but given that I don't have terribly many pants OR shoes that I can comfortably wear (ESPECIALLY NOW!) it feels pretty tragic to me. WHAT??!! You want to know. Well, if you recall I had to retire my favorite exercise shoes (a gift from my Parents as of last summer) because one of them had an actual hole in the sole and the other was near to having a hole. Well, my favorite pair of exercise pants has small holes between the legs... not in the crotch, but where my legs rub together. Oh, you might think this is wonderful news because the holes indicate some shrinkage of thigh-age... true enough, and I should be pleased. But these pants are still comfy over my BIG belly... they are light weight, so don't feel like a damp towel when I'm at the end of my walk... and THEY'RE COMFY! Additionally, they were a VERY sweet gift from Jess. I believe he gave me these pants as a part of a Victoria's Secret pajama set when I got home from Australia because he was worried about me being cold in his (our) home! ^_^ I know they are just pants... and I normally do not get all weird about physical accouterments... but this just feels SAD! ahwell... I'll hopefully be able to get a couple more days out of them, at least.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Adding Pictures

Daddy and Ria Cookin' Up a Storm
I think I'd just come home from a walk to see this sweet scene.
Ria LOVES to wear "cooking clothes" when she works with Daddy.
It just seems not to be the same to her if she's not attired properly!
Jess is SUCH a fabulous natural teacher! I almost wish he was home full-time to do the homeschooling because he's SO very good at it. But, he would get brain numb
and become angry over the dull sameness that occurs when we have little money to spend on gas and such... Also, I would be an emotional wreck if I had to leave every day! We are definitely more suited for the roles we play currently that when we first had Ria!!! ^_^

Daddy and Ria cookin'. I was trying to get a closer look at WHAT they were preparing, but couldn't really see it very well and, honestly, don't remember what it was, either!

Kat in Snow White Dress Up Dress
She doesn't realize I'm taking the picture in this one.

Oh, now she knows!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Jess Says I Glow, What Do You Think?

Jess took this one. I was looking down at Kat.

Ria took this picture. Didn't she do a great job? Of course, we now have a record of the extra chin I still have... ah, well!
Oh, and I wasn't holding my breath, or anything, it's just the perspective.

Kat just had to be in the pictures with me. "What ARE you looking at, anyway, Mom?"
Can't you just hear her thinking that?? :)


Jess had us stand like this. I guess he saw us doing it a moment before the other picture with Kat in it and liked it so asked her to look up at Mama again.

Kathryn actually took this picture. Can you tell who her favorite person is??? I'll give you just one guess for this one. :) Yes, it's Ria... or YA, or YAYA, or EEE-A as she calls her depending upon her mood and the purpose of the call! ^_^

Oh, I have my first REALLY horrible Braxton Hicks while walking today. WOW, what pain!

Oh, and I was able to enjoy a lovely walk ALL BY MYSELF today. For the first time I went on a regular long walk with Jess home. 63 minutes, to be exact. Usually, I've been home before 50 minutes, but today I lost track of time and miscalculated return travel. Jess didn't mind, though. What a great hubbie! ALSO, on THAT subject... when I came home I found that he had swept everywhere I could see!!!! WOW, right!?!?!!! What a GIFT! I've actually been sweeping pretty regularly, but it was lookin' rough today and I was trying to determine when I could get to it tomorrow (Thursday). Now, I won't have to! ^_^ JOY!!!

Another Couple Notes about the Midwife Visit
I forgot to mention before that I gained 1 pound since my last midwife visit. That makes the first weight gain of the pregnancy... another strange bit. During each of my previous pregnancies I didn't gain ANY weight until the last month (at which point I gained exactly 13 pounds of water). This pregnancy is different, all around, I have to say!

My blood pressure was also elevated slightly, but we'd just been talking about emotional stuff, so it's nothing to worry about - we thinks. :) Seriously, though, it shouldn't be anything because it wasn't outrageous or anything AND we really were just having an emotional conversation.

Week 25 Preggie Belly Picture

These pants do NOTHING for my slimming lower body... but holding them under the belly helped at least show IT a little. These pants are actually some I purchased to fit my over-fat body after we moved here... they still fit (loosely) over my humongo belly! ^_^

The other pictures taken looked TRULY horrible and I refuse to show them. The pants caused me to look like a giant striped balloon from the front! No, SERIOUSLY! Anyway...
I haven't felt quite as cute during this pregnancy so I don't want to publish those photos that cause me to feel even worse about my current appearance. Sorry. Self-preservation at its best.

Week 24 Preggie Belly Pictures

Oops a water spill and neither the time nor energy the change my shirt. How annoying...
right before pictures! Ahwell... the pictures are about the belly,
not my clumsiness during pregnancy! Right?

At least you can't see the spot of wetness now! :) Jess said I look like Halloween. What do you think? I didn't much care... I was just excited to be able to wear these pants again!!! ^_^

Big Sisters Lovin'
This is actually quite a common occurrence. The funniest (and most painful) was recently, as in since the belly has become HUGE, that Kat decided to take the belly for a ride. She came up next to me as I was lying down, which I often do, and gently (at first) rocked it from side to side. Before she was done (I could stop her) she was rockin' HARD! MAN, it HURT! I'm sure the baby in the belly thought s/he was caught in a tempestuous storm of some sort or another! I actually felt a little sick to my stomach after that!!! Kat hasn't done it again since, but she LOVES to talk to the baby and hug the baby (all through the belly, of course!).

Midwife Visit

This particular visit was scheduled because we were worried that I might have to redo the gestational diabetes test (since I ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich before the last one). I didn't have to do the test again because my blood came back within normal parameters. I will have to redo the anemia test because I was quite anemic last time. I'm treating it, so all should be well in two weeks when I have the blood test redone.

Interesting Tidbit from the Visit
The most interesting part of the visit is that I'm currently measuring 35 centimeters. If you don't recall from the last visit, a normal measurement would be the same number as the number of weeks preggie the woman is at the time. "TORI-NORMAL" would be 30 weeks (as of today) because I normally measure 2 weeks ahead. So, if in 6 weeks I measure 44 weeks, I will have an ultrasound to determine if we have twins in there or not AND make sure that, if we do, they are measuring "safe" to deliver at home. Basically this means that it would be really unsafe to home birth twins if I had twins like my Grama T did: one at 6 pounds and the other at TWO! So, I'm meditating on even growth for the belly (in case there are two babes in there). If the measurement is 40 or so in 4 weeks, we'll just chalk it up to a big baby, I guess. ^_^ We'll see!

First Request
I received my first request for belly pictures today. I took some a few weeks ago... but I didn't know if that would be weird since no one had actually asked to see any. I'm also going to take some today to show the comparison. I was asked if there would be pictures of the naked belly... if you actually want that, you'll have to make a special email request because I'm totally NOT going to share THAT kind of picture of me indiscriminately!! So, if you are refused, please don't be offended. My sense of modesty is very keen in the last few years. Also, I believe preggie bellies are absolutely beautiful and I rather enjoy nakie pictures of other women's preggie bellies, but I feel, really, that it's almost sacred... this time of a woman's life and not every person needs to see it! Just my opinion, of course. :)

My belly has certainly EXPANDED in the last 3 weeks! (It went from 28 to 35 centimeters in 3 weeks!!!!) People have commented on my belly more recently. Everyone agrees that I actually look quite pregnant now. hehehe :) So, it will be interesting to me to see if you can perceive an actual size difference between the pictures. Let me know! ^_^ I LOVE comments.

Never Ending Nightmares... BITE!

Have you ever had a nightmare that you knew was such, but you just couldn't wake up from it!?? I, personally, have had this experience far too many times. I've also had the frustration of realizing a wonderful dream was just that, and then not being able to stay asleep to see what happens in it! That's besides my point at this time, though I'm sure I could elaborate and philosophize endlessly about the reasons for such experiences. I won't at this time. ;)

So... if you recall, our van broke. We were able to pick it up yesterday thanks to Dad Gollihugh's fast lending of enough money to pay for the repair! WHAT a blessing!!! So, we put it in the shop last Wednesday and got it out yesterday (Tuesday). The craziest part was that the job was completed UNDER the guessed price (that the shop told us)!!! Amazing, huh? We were thrilled about that and felt it a HUGE blessing.

Yesterday we also returned the car we'd borrowed for just under (in hours) a whole week! I know I felt really relieved and pleased that things seemed to be moving along quite nicely (relatively speaking, of course). I'm pretty sure Jess did, too.

So, Jess was able to drive the van to work and home yesterday. I was actually in bed when he got home. I often try to stay awake so we can spend some time together, but this cold crud has really been kickin' my butt and I was hoping to get enough sleep to give my body what it needed to kick the crud out of my system. Well, I was just falling asleep when Jess came to bed. I tend to have to use the potty a LOT and when he gets in bed I almost always have to get up. When I came back to bed Jess talked to me, which is not done when I've been sleeping, so I knew it was not good. He told me he had to talk to me and tell me two things.

Can you guess what they are? Well, one I've alluded to in the title. Yep... you're right! The van was leaking water... AGAIN!!! (This is the same problem for which we put in into the shop in the first place!!) Can you believe it? Well, I was pretty bowled over by the information he shared with me and just felt like my head was going to explode. The good that came out of the situation is that Jess and I talked about some stuff that he wouldn't have been willing to REALLY hear prior to that time. So, there's a blessing even in all of that emotional tumult of last night!

Jess took the van in to the shop this morning. Thankfully it wasn't leaking like a sieve, this time, so he was able to drive it over himself, rather than have it towed like we had to do last time. The trouble with this reoccurrence is pretty obvious, but there is a part that isn't so obvious: Jess was going to do some yard work for one of my Visiting Teachers. The offered payment would provide us with a little grocery/gas money and with a good bit of time taken up with this annoyance, he will likely not be able to finish that work today since we have a midwife appointment at 3pm. However, the really WONDERFUL news is that he did take the van to the shop, they looked at it while he was there and... ... ... ... ... ...
The problem was just a loose valve clamp or something that should have been completely fixed by the initial work they did! So, no money out for the van today AND the problem was completely resolved while Jess was still there AND in less than 1 hour!!!! What a bunch of BLESSINGS, right!??!!!

So, it looks like our van is fine and we'll have it's use for our family indefinitely. This is really wonderful news to me in general, but especially today since we have a midwife appointment this afternoon. I REALLY want to make it for this appointment because I'm curious about the belly measurement and REALLY want to talk to Karen about the sleep needs of a preggie lady and the negative effects of undue stress on a preggie body FOR JESS to hear. I don't expect to get all the sleep that is recommended for a preggie woman. In general, that's probably pretty unrealistic, especially given that we have two other children already. But I want Jess to have the info so that he will know more surely what a sacrifice and gift it is that I've taken over waking up with the girls in the morning for him. (That's been one of his 'jobs' for a while now because it was some of the VERY limited time he could spend with the girls.) I've taken over the early wake up call because he's been having such a difficult time with the stress of our situation(s) and I wanted to try to ease all of it for him. That's just what partners do. No biggie, certainly nothing to brag about... but when the efforts made are completely unvalued or unrecognized, it becomes a burden. And the way that I would feel that my efforts are valued, in this situation, is that Jess would wake up and be less stressed out than if he had to wake up early with the girls. That wasn't happening, so I just want him to hear from a professional the value of the gift. Anyway....
I also think WE need a refresher bit of info (since I keep pushing myself too much - part of the reason I'm still sick with this crud) and we're not doing a labor preparedness class this time (other than reviewing the info we already have)... so, might as well ask our on-hand professional!

If you recall my post about Poop, you will likely be really amazed and happy to know that Kathryn is currently daytime potty trained!!!! Can you believe it!?!?!? Jess, Ria, and I just thrilled!!! Kitty Kat caught on to the whole "need to tell someone when I need to peepee" within the last week. I would say that after church on Sunday she was able to let her need be known without any accidents! Since then she's only had an accident in when I forgot to take her to the bathroom after she'd told me she needed to go. She is still in a diaper when we go out of the house, but even then she's told us when she needs to use the potty AND has produced. The funniest part of this process is that Kat can't really tell the difference between need to pass gas and need to pooh... so we go to the bathroom a lot for farts! heeheehee ^_^ She totally knows when she's done a good bit of producing and she is just SO pleased with herself. I think the most pleasure she feels, though, is when she get to go tell Ria that she's done something in the potty! Honestly, she's happy when she tells me or her Daddy, but she is just THRILLED to tell Ria!! I'm so happy that my girls love each other SO very much!!! ^_^

Is progressing nicely in her classes. Nothing extra special to report, really - except that she is being such a supportive and loving big sister and SO encouraging of Kat in Kitty Kat's efforts to potty train herself. ^_^

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I don't think I've mentioned this issue much here, in my blog, but it is very troubling to me and hangs as a constant nag in my mind. I just found this site that is under constant attack because it tells the truth about GMs. I'm going to sign up for the bulletin and hope that you might take a look at it, if you care to be informed about your food supply and issues surrounding it!

All you have to do is send an email to editor@gmwatch.eu and they will register you for the once a week bulletin.

And, just in case you're really not sure what I'm talking about here... GM is: Genetically Modified STUFF. While there's a lot in the mainstream media about how this is "beneficial" for our use in many ways; you can only find a full perspective and, in my opinion, the truth, by digging a bit deeper than the easily available "spoon fed" information in the media.

Happy self-educating!!! ^_^ I hope you will!!!!

Trials as Blessings Revisited

I've been thinking about this a lot since the first post about it. One of the biggest blessings I've felt in many trials we've faced lately is the perspective it provides on progress. If this isn't clear, let me explain what I mean.

About a year ago I was quite depressed as a result of a number of trials both physical and emotional. I didn't weather the daily difficulties very well and life just felt SUPER overwhelming. While I still have days that feel SUPER overwhelming, there haven't been any, lately, as bad as they regularly occurred in my experience of reality a year ago. So, even though the difficulties we've been facing lately are on par with those of a year ago, the reactions are different. I can only fully speak for myself here, of course.

Also, the trials, as of late, have helped me to feel Father's love because I can see A LITTLE how he has made provisions for us in so many ways because HE could see the storms ahead and HE created sort of protected pathways for us. Like the overhead protection over some walkways at school... it won't keep all the weather off, but it'll shelter you from some of the worst of it, if you stick to the path. Right? I've felt that this time so very much. And am so - beyond words - grateful!

So a cute little scene (I didn't catch with the camera, but is frozen as a scene in my mind) I enjoyed observing with Kat today: She was sitting in a little child's chair that she rarely ever deigns to perch upon. She'd claimed one of the twin baby dolls Heidi gave Ria for Christmas a couple years ago (those are their FAVORITE baby dolls!) and was sitting this this little chair playing with the doll and holding a book. She decided to focus on the "reading" the book and commenced to position her baby doll next to her in the chair. It was funny and sweet to see how specifically she wanted that baby situated so that the baby was right next to her and she'd be able to hold the book open to read and so the baby could see it, too. When the baby was situated, she opened the book and began "reading" to herself and the baby. You have to understand that, for Kat, all books are Hymnals waiting to be! It's wonderful to observe this little singer we have. Often loud, but still wonderful! ^_^

She also had a very good day in Nursery. Sage, my dear friend, is now our nursery leader with her husband. We could NOT be luckier!!!! I'm so grateful to have someone who loves children as dearly as she does in Nursery interacting with my Kitty Kat! Sage told me that Kat was a little sad at the beginning and kept calling, "Daa-eee!" but by the end she was interacting and happy. I knew this because I'd checked on her a few times (as I still do) and saw that she seemed quite comfy and happy. :) But it was really wonderful to hear from my friend... she's so observant and attentive and it really warms my heart and fills me with gratitude that she'll be Kat's Nursery Leader for a while. Troy, her hubbie, is wonderful as well. He's a very nice guy and a calm presence for the little ones. I think there's a good chance Skyler, a 4 year old who suffered a... WOW, I've completely forgot the name for the brain version of a heart attack... sheesh... my brain is very holey lately (as is pretty normal for most preggie women). Well, anyway, I hope you will understand what I meant by that description. Anyway, Skyler had one of those brain attacks while a very small baby. As a result he does not yet walk, he doesn't really talk, and he can be rather difficult. He's very smart, in my observation, though. He doesn't much like for his care provider to spend time with other children, though, so that can make him especially challenging in Nursery because there are always other children to interact with! Anyway... I can totally see Sage and Troy just being wonderful and, in fact, perfect for all of our Nursery children!!!

We have a new chorister in Primary. I asked Ria what she thought of Sister Stefflick. She said, "She has a beautiful smile!" :) Mary Kay Stefflick does have a beautiful smile. She and her new hubbie are new in the ward and she was just called to be chorister. She did a really wonderful job with the children today and they seemed taken with her. I'm glad. Our last chorister is a hard act to follow! ^_^

Ria enjoys being in the spotlight SO much! She has a great difficulty with NOT having opportunities to get up and participate in activities at the front of the room. In fact, this is one of the biggest difficulties we have (at this point) that I have a difficult time addressing. She doesn't have to raise her hand in class because she's the only student when we work on her classes... she does have to just observe when I'm doing 'cool' with Kathryn, but that's not as often as she needs the practice. So, this is a challenge resulting from homeschooling that I'm going to have to find a way to address. Basically, she just needs to understand that she has to wait to be called on and raise her hand if she wants to participate (and know that she won't always be called on even if she does raise her hand) in Primary. We'll see.

Found a little paperback cookbook I bought for him about a year ago. He totally didn't remember receiving it and was curious about it. Pretty funny, that, but since he found it he was excited to try something out of it. It's called the Hillbilly something or other. Anyway... he made the Rebel Cake today. It's actually quite yummy and pretty easy (few ingredients) to make. No eggs, no butter... and very good to the taste buds. It actually makes me think of a really wonderful breakfast bread... spicey like they often are. We've eaten almost half of it already today! ^_^ So, Jess is excited to try another recipe out of his Hillbilly cookbook. :) I knew he would like it once he tried it!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Still Here

And still pluggin' along.

Biggest Events Lately

The van is in the shop... and currently fixed. We found out about it when Jess got out of work at the Club, though, so no pick up of it as yet.

After having almost the whole week off from the Cafe BECAUSE the owner decided at the last minute to close for the week, Jess quit on Friday. The first thing he said when telling me about the whole thing was that the owner wanted to serve items unfit for service. Knowing Jess as I do, this is not only repugnant to him as a person, but irresponsible and unethical as a Chef. Added to this issue, the boss actually yelled at Jess (and the other employees) TWO times because things were not happening as fast as she wanted to see. This is ridiculous for a few reasons. #1 Boss had everyone off for almost a week and expected to be able to pick up and go with them coming in at their regular time and opening at regular time. This is preposterous because the guys go in at 10:30am and they're supposed to open at Noon. Why is this preposterous and ridiculous? Well, almost all the product in the place was no good and not only did the boss NOT have anyone in there to check on and get rid of such items, but there was also NO ON in the place to prepare foods for the day they would be open. #2 Boss didn't bother to see what the guys were doing when she first yelled at them about not accomplishing anything. They were, in fact, sitting outside (two of them smoking) and discussing how to tackle the project and frustrations at hand. The second time she yelled at them was only minutes after the first time and they were trying to resume their cool and calm after being unfairly treated the first time. Normally Jess would have weathered this stupid storm and been all right. But given all that he's been going through with everything WE have been dealing with AND the stop smoking trials... well, it was too much given the circumstances and the fact that the Boss has been adding more and more bits of ridiculousness for months now.

Jess and I are working as a team to find new work. I look for the stuff online (and otherwise) and have it all set up for him to go down the line, fill out applications, submit, and check off a list I have prepared. Thus far, he's completed ELEVEN applications! WAY TO GO JESSIE!!!!! ^_^

Through all the difficulties and frustrations, trials and troubles that have beset and felt rather overwhelming to us lately, Jess is still on the road to becoming a NON-SMOKER!!!! It has not been easy at all in the last two weeks, but he's really accomplishing something tremendous because he's not purchased OR lit up!!!

Even though I'm currently sick (the same crud I had during third trimester with Ria AND Kat), I've still walked 5 days this week! ^_^ YEAY for me!! Can you believe I'm around 28 weeks preggie now?? So far, so good.

Ria and Kat are doing pretty darn well. They know that things have been different, but they haven't been "off the hook" (relative to how I know they COULD be!!).

Kat has actually been telling us when she wants to sit on the potty AND she usually produces SOME thing every time. Sometimes it's a bunch of farts, but, HEY, those can feel like turtle heads, right!?? :) Also, she has PEED AND POOHED at least once a day for the last few days! ^_^ So nice to have fewer pooh pooh diapers to clean up after. :) I have hope that she might potty train herself by the time the babe arrives. We'll see. It's fine either way, of course. We'll deal with what we have to as it comes. As we always do, right.

Ria is still an amazing student. She asks to do school every day, which has led to Kat asking to do 'cool,' too. ^_^ Ria and I have been working on numbers for a few weeks now and she is writing them REALLY well!!! I've only recently (within the last week) really done anything with numbers more than 10 and she has seriously amazed me. We did a matching worksheet I found free online (probably from a page I have to the side). In the matching she has to read the number in number and work form and draw a line to connect the matches. She, without hints from Mama, read AND found MANY of the teen numbers' matches! ^_^ I was super pleased and happy about that! She's such a smartie!!!

I caught Ria reading to Kat again today. The interesting and fun part about the "catch" this time is that Ria and Kat were in their closet reading! ^_^ It was so cool!! I have pictures, but they are not uploaded as yet... and I'm actually supposed to be doing Primary stuff right now. So, I'll have to bid you adieu for now and play catch up on the photos later. (I know I still have some from a previous post to share, too!)

Oh, we went on a family walk for the first time (for Mama's walks). It was really nice. :) Funny enough, Jess took Kat to go peepee before we left and then suggested that I should go, too. This is funny because I think HE thinks I'm still peeing outside on my walks, or something. I've figured out that I have to stop drinking water about an hour before the walk and then only have something to drink when I'm over half way through my walk and I won't have to pee until we get home. But, of course, Jess didn't know that. He also almost asked me to prepare a snack... like I don't do this almost every day! ;) So funny and wonderful how we're so concerned that things should go smoothly, isn't it!? I mean, I know that's why he was making his suggestions. He has no idea what my routine looks like, REALLY. The only thing he sees is when I go for a walk and he keeps the girls. Ya know? We walked the raised walking path for Betty Stefflick Park. I'd never been on it. Very nice, I have to say. I really love this area!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's Fixed.... er... Maybe Not

Did I mention that we found out Sunday afternoon that Jess wouldn't be able to work at the Cafe this week because the owner closed for all but two days of the week!?!?!??? Talk about adding financial stress to an already brittle pair of psyches!! We felt even more grateful that our home teacher had given us such a generous monetary gift. As it happens, it will pay for our food and gas (what the Cafe income usually covers)!!!

Monday Bro. Vaughn (my visiting teacher's husband) came over to help Jess work on the van. It was a huge blessing that he did because Jess was planning to attempt a thermostat replacement (difficult because of tight van engine space) . As it happens there was nothing wrong with the thermostat! John, aka Bro. Vaughn, has a background in mechanics. Obviously, his experience is greater than Jessie's considerable experience because he, John, was able to suggest some diagnostic sort of things that Jess hadn't considered. By the time John left we thought the problem was fixed. Not permanently, but we thought it would last, perhaps, 2-5 years. Jess even drove the van to and from work with no apparent problems. Jess even filled the van to the ridiculous and upsetting tune of $96!!!! Can you believe it? Very stressful.

Tuesday morning arrives (Jess had the whole day off) and so he's preparing to leave to go grocery shopping. Being the responsible husband and father that he is he proceeds to check on the repair work only to realize that the water leak had resumed to the same degree as previous. Return of the broken van.

He spent some time trying to remedy the problem with the same fix he'd used the day before. All to no avail, unfortunately.

We realized quite quickly that the only way to really fix this problem was to have someone else do it because Jess just doens't have the tools, experience, or time to deal with it himself. BIG problem, though... we totally do NOT have any money to deal with this problem!

Oh, did I forget to mention that we received notice that our student loan payment has increased about $70-$75?? Yes, it has. And I think I haven't shared, yet, that our landlords let us know Tuesday morning that, to get the new stove we've needed (since moving in here) and requested for the last 6 months we would have to sign a year lease. Oh... AND that if we didn't sign the new lease... $75 increased monthly rent payment... then he would be marketing the house to find new tenants. This fellow KNOWS we're expecting a new addition to our family and decides to pull this crap now!??? We really thought we had a great landlord, but I'm thinking NOW that perhaps we just had a great intermediary to deal with. Our landlord hasn't ever spoken to us prior to Tuesday... we've always talked to his property manager. So, this particular bit of information is very disturbing to ME.

Why should rent increase be disturbing? Well, quite a long while ago (around 6 months now) I had this really strong feeling and impression that we should plan to move soon. Attached to that impression/feeling was another strong feeling of like kind that if our rent should be raised, that would be a clear indication that the time had definitively arrived! So, as depressing as it feels to me, I think I will be moving with another newborn!!! :( But, it's not for sure. I just don't have a SURE feeling/answer as yet. I'm praying. Would you pray for me to understand, too? I would appreciate it!

So, not only do we have less money coming in because Jessie's hours at the Cafe have been drastically reduced (not even considering this current week's fiasco!), but we have at least one significant bill increase (through no fault of our own) and another that may increase should we learn/decide that we should remain here for at least another year. And then a shop bill to repair the van. Well, given our circumstances there is no way we could even consider adding anther monthly payment to this mess of finances. The only other option, since neither Jess nor I have rich families, to ask for help from our Ward.

If you have never had to do this... then you will not understand how we are feeling. And, really, there's NO way to describe to you/for you the frustration and desperation inherent in such a time. If you have asked for assistance from church, then you might understand a little. But you will probably NOT understand the feelings Jess and I have because this is not the first, not the second, but the THIRD time we're in such circumstances! It is very upsetting. I really truly thought that we would not encounter such a situation again since I really believe we are doing what we should be and living where Father wants us to be and so forth.

Still... I try to comfort myself with the possibility that all of this may be in answer to my prayers... do you remember my ALMA scripture reading the other night? So, I'm clinging to that at this point.

Since we didn't know (and still don't) how long the repair might take we decided to accept some help offered to us by a sweet couple, the Bugnets, in our Ward. They told me on Sunday that they had two cars just sitting at their home because they'd felt inspired NOT to sell them. So, if we encountered the need of a vehicle to make it through, they asked that we please let them know and they would be more than happy to lend us one. We decided to accept that offer and ask for their help. Jess went with Peter to pick up the car and drove it home last night. What a blessing! We seriously needed to get groceries and I was trying to figure out who to ask to take me. And I didn't like the idea of going myself because Jess is SOOO much better at getting just what is on the list and staying within or under the budgeted amount! With the borrowed car, Jess was able to get the grocery shopping done this morning AS WELL AS follow the tow for the van to the shop to talk with the mechanic there.

Jess has taken care of everything this time. I'm very pleased about that! Especially in light of the fact that I started to get super sick Monday night. I had a truly horrible sore throat and head throbbing headache. That turned into a wracking cough last night and I've been spitting up green stuff all day! :( My voice is starting to come back as I get more of the crud out of my chest, but it's still rather painful to speak - especially at more than a whisper. What a day.

Jess contacted our Elder's Quorum President (because our Home Teacher is out of town) to ask for assistance with the van repair. After EQP spoke to Bishop, we were reminded of the requirement to ask our families for assistance. That bit is really easy to forget to do because it makes the whole difficulty of the rotten situation feel even more horrible. But Jess did ask his Dad and I did ask my Mom. They are both helping to their ability, which is more than we expected. (We expected that they would not have any means what-so-ever with which TO help. We knew they would want to, but the ability to do so was the question.)

So, this morning Jess was able to follow the tow to the shop and talk to the mechanic and then go to the grocery store. YEAY! I had to recopy my original list onto another sheet of paper because Jess needed more paper room than the first offered to tally the prices as he went and I forgot to put milk on there! See, had I gone I would have remembered AND purchased that, but Jess just figured I didn't feel there was money in the budget so we couldn't get it this time. See what I mean!?? He's wonderful! Unfortunately, I get a good bit of protein from my milk, so he's going to stop and pick it up on his way home from work tonight. What a guy!

As it happens, the quote for the repair on the van is acceptable and the work was approved by our Ward. It appeared (to the last time we heard before Jess had to 'scooby' off to the Club) that the head gasket needed to be replaced... I believe. It's a rubber piece that wore out over time. It is, apparently, a common occurrence in Chevy Astro vans. So, hopefully we will have a fully operational vehicle of our own back before too long. :)

It sure is lovely to open the door to the garage and see the beautiful machine we have borrowed. A golden Mitsubishi Gallant. I haven't driven it - or even been in it, but hope to get a chance before we return it. I can't remember the last time I drove a vehicle so new and pretty! :) I'm really not a vehicle snob because I am so totally grateful for what we do have (especially when it is functioning properly), but it's pretty fun to have things that are nice to look at too, right?

I hope you will see and feel (through my depressed state of mind due to the stress AND illness combo) that we are amazingly blessed through all this difficulty! Isn't it amazing to see and feel Father's love!!?? We are so blessed to have a Father in Heaven who loves us so completely!!

Many thanks and much gratitude to those who have helped and desired to help us through this, our great difficulty! Joey - provident gift giver!! Brother and Sister Bugnet - beautiful machine lenders! Mom Farrell and Dad Gollihugh - helping to get the van repaired! Leslie - ride to and from church! Judy - dire to help bring Jess to work and lending of her husband's trucking tools for van repair! Chris - desire to help Jess get to and from work! Jena - willingness to help with the girls and cleaning of any sort! Our Bishop/Ward - van repair funding!! Shaun and Chris (Jessie's co-workers) who toted Jess and to from work one day each (thus far)!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Surprise! and some Recipes

Sweet Surprises from My Daughters
Ria has been drawing some really sweet pictures on her Magna Doodle. The pictures are ususally a preggie stick person (me) with a sun, some birds, a house, grass, and the words, "I Love You" across the top. She presents these pictures to me as surprises.

"Mama, I have a surprise for you!"

"Oh? Ok. I'm ready."

"But first you have to close your eyes."

"Ok, they're closed."

Ria moves into position in front of me, holding the picture up for me to see (usually in front of her head). "Ok. You can open your eyes and look now."

And then I respond to the picture she has presented to me.

If that's not cute enough for you... well, I'm just sad for you. But I do have more.

Last night Kathryn came to me holding the Magna Doodle with the drawn on side facing her. She kept saying, "Eye." She's been able to say this word for a while, but hasn't really used it much unless she's saying, "I." I could tell she was saying the former rather than the latter because she kept pointing at my head. It took me a minute to connect the idea that she was presenting to me a surprise, in Ria fashion!

When I finally got it I asked Kat, "Do you want me to close my eyes for a surprise?!"

As usual for Kat when I have correctly interpreted her request, she got a REALLY big smile on her face and nodded her head in the way that makes her whole body shake.

So, I closed my eyes and said, "Ok. My eyes are closed." Since the Magna Doodle is pretty huge for Kat, I also put my hand out to take it from her rather than make her hold it up for me.

She placed it in my hand and I asked, "Can I open my eyes now?" Kat doesn't say 'yes' yet, so I just assumed she would be nodding her head, which she was, and opened my eyes to look at the picture she'd given me.

I commented on how lovely it was and what a special gift she'd given me with great enthusiasm in my voice and face. She was just THRILLED. She seemed almost to vibrate with joy... in the same way she gets super happy and excited when she's playing her "Bye bye" game and I welcome her back with great joy and affection upon her "return" from wherever she's been. It is such a joy to feel her joy!!!

So, I mentioned a couple days ago that I'd tried out two new cake mix cookie recipes and would share them when I could. I'm finally remembering and able to do it! YEAY! It hasn't taken me weeks to get to it!!! ^_^

Now, for the first, you could easily "google" cake mix cookies and get a basic recipe and use it with a chocolate cake mix. But I didn't want to use one of the chocolate cake mixes in my Food Storage closet because I'm trying to work out of 'on-hand pantry supplies' before I heavily dip into my closet stuff. So, in my cupboards I have a couple cake mixes on which the USE BY date was approaching, so I had to remove them from my FS closet. No problem, that's why I check through the stuff periodically! The problem is that the cakes were BUTTER and YELLOW. I REALLY wanted some chocolate cake mix cookies. So, I made an alteration and what I've had thus far is AWESOME!!!

Preheat oven to 350 F
1 box butter cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup cocoa (I used Hershey's)
Mix all ingredients together well. Roll in hands to form balls. Roll balls in sugar. Place on baking sheet (I use stones, so I didn't need to grease, but if you use metal, you might want to coat with butter or oil) and bake for about 10 minutes. When finished the cookies will have spread slightly and developed cracks in the sugar coating. The first time I baked this recipe I did the perfect time (right around 10 minutes) and the cookies were soft and chewy... my preference. The second time I baked them a little too long, but not till they were totally burned. They were quite dry and brittle... seemed more like store-bought cookies than anything, but still VERY YUMMY!

If you decide to try this out, I would LOVE feedback!!! :)

CORNBREAD COOKIES using JIFFY corn muffin mix
Preheat oven to 350 F
3/4 cup butter (I used margarine and I think I should have gone with butter... the dough never firmed up as much as I would have preferred)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 package JFFY corn muffin mix
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add egg and beat well. Add the rest and mix well until blended and smooth. Chill dough for at least 15 minutes. Portion and roll into a ball (will be slightly sticky) and roll in sugar. Place on baking sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes.

The first time I baked this recipe I took the cookies out when they were just barely turning golden around the edges and they were fabulous. It's almost the flavor of sugar cookies and corn bread, I think. They taste really great, to me, and add a new and wonderful way to use this JIFFY mix that I love to have in FS!

The second time I took them out a little later - when the edges were pretty dark and I'd thought I burned the cookies - but the cookies are still soft and chewy and wonderful. This may be due to the margarine I used (even when cold it it quite soft), but it may be just a really easy recipe to keep chewy (my preference for cookies).

If you try it out, let me know what you think! ^_^

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Trials as Blessings

As any Christian should know, we are supposed to be thankful for the joys and blessings of life AS WELL AS the trials and difficulties. One of the trials in life is to recognize the trials as blessings - at this has been a great difficulty for me! Well, since our move to our current home, I have actually come to see many of our trials and difficulties as blessings. My shortcoming (failure?) has been in the LONG time it takes me to recognize them as such. Translated, that means that whilst in the trial I'm all down and depressed and feeling like either Jess or the world is beating up on me/us. It can certainly seem like that, of course. And so I realize that I'm not a ridiculous person to have these feelings. But when I have been able to "see with spiritual eyes," as it were, and discern the gift in/of the trial I've felt disappointed in myself for not seeing with those clear eye while in the MIDST of those trials. Ya know?

I feel joyful and thankful during this, our current trial, because I can see the hand of The Lord at work in our lives even while IN the difficulty.

As a reminder, our car broke down and we sold it for $200. I'm not sure if I mentioned that the problem was that it was overheating. Jess thought he could remove the thermostat and it would be fine, but that particular car cannot operate without a thermostat. Anyway, it became a really troublesome situation and took two and a half days worth of Jessie's time off to deal with. Not only was the money spent really not available, per se, but Jessie's time away from the girls was SUPER expensive to me. In fact, the time he was not able to spend with them troubled me more than the monetary expense since we technically had the money as a result of that extra gov't money we received this year.

Anyway... all that info is really just to draw an interesting coinkydink for you later....

Last night the van broke down. Yeah, can you believe it? Poor Jess is feeling like the world is VERY heavy on his back right now. First the car, then his illness, the realization that our bills and growing disproportionate to our income (due to increased student loan payment), and now the van. :( I know I've mentioned before that he's been pretty stressed out lately. (We have, but I would say I'm definitely in the "eyes of the spirit" ability through all of it a bit more than ever before - so it's not weighing super heavy on me.) He just felt like the added burden of the problem with the van was unbearable.

The problem? It overheated... for the second time (and third time to get too hot - while I'm not TOO certain of the distinction, I know it is an important one). So, Jess came in from work last night REALLY dark. I mean, his whole countenance was just DARK. When he came in from parking the van he didn't speak to me, so I knew something was very wrong. He told me about the problem and I felt concern, but not really worried.

As it happens, I felt immediately that we could not spend anything to repair it via a shop (or really at all) because of our financial situation. And, honestly, I was thinking more in terms of finding rides for Jess to get to and from work and asking around for HELP. I had some specific ideas of help we could ask for, but not sure who or how to ask.

Jess went to bed and I sat up pondering upon the problem. I, basically always, feel that when something goes wrong it is a direct result of something I've done wrong. I've had this feeling as long as I can remember (way back in 6th grade I remember this feeling!). Anyway... I kept sitting there and trying to figure out ways I could fix things and sort of praying without formally praying. There came to me the very distinct impression as a voice in my mind, "It isn't about you this time." And I felt SO relieved and just better. But then I wondered what Jess had done wrong! (So typical of me, really.) He hadn't done anything wrong. Just in case you're wondering, but the answer to my wondering mind came as I read the next Chapter in my Book of Mormon. Alma 32 I won't go into the realization that came to me for numerous reasons, but if you know the chapter and my family, you may have a pretty good clue without it. :)

Anyway... the funny part about all of that (wondering and realization) is that I was sitting there prior to reading and thought, "How likely is it that the answer I need will be in the next chapter I would be reading anyway!?" And then, as I started to read I thought, "Well, it probably won't be here, so I'm going to skim through here until I feel some peace and feel some sort of understanding." All of that I thought while I was still in the first verse. Well, it didn't take long before I felt completely at peace and sure that the very chapter I was reading did, in fact, contain the answers and understanding I desperately sought.

And so, I began to be in the "seeing with spiritual eyes!"

I had pondered long about who I should call for help and how I could/should handle the situation. When it came time for my prayer before bed I brought my ideas to the Lord and mentioned that I thought I should call our Home Teacher and Relief Society President. The VERY specific response was, simply, "Call Joey." I asked again about calling our Relief Society Pres and weather I should call the compassionate service leader instead. The same response came very quietly, but almost sternly, "Just call Joey." So, I felt it was super clear that our Home Teacher should be the one and only call I needed to make. I went to bed feeling calm and relieved.

I don't know if I've mentioned how I tend to be a sort of "satellite dish" of people's feelings. But this ability/curse is especially strong with people I know well and love deeply. Well, Jess, obviously fits into that category.

I woke up with the girls this morning to give Jess a couple hours more to rest (he's usually up with the girls because I have had a VERY difficult time sleeping well at night). I called Joey almost first thing because he usually goes for a bike ride on Saturday mornings, so I figured I'd probably end up leaving him a message. He was actually home preparing to depart for the week! So, we talked and I shared the difficult situation in which we found ourselves. After all of it he asked how he could help. I told him I wasn't really sure, but that I hoped he might have a suggestion of something he might be able to do or someone to call - but that I felt I should just ask him for help. He told me that his brother-in-law was REALLY good with vehicles, so he would give him a call and let me know what he found out.

Jess woke up soon after and he was hyper stressed. I started to feel really worried, which I think goes back to the "satellite dish" issue more than my own personal feelings. He was just sure that we should take the van to a shop or some such suggestion. I was equally sure we just needed to just ask for help and told him I'd already talked to Joey. Jess felt that he really had to do SOMEthing, which I can totally understand and relate to. So, he went and made a call to our Elder's Quorum Pres and left a message there. Joey called back soon after and Jess talked to him and then got to work on trying to remove the thermostat (do you remember the car!? thus the funny coinkydink).

As far as I knew, Jess was working on trying to remove the thermostat when he came back to talk to me (I was lying down with the non-stop headache I've had for more than 2 weeks now AND, of course, fatigue). He seemed weird, but wasn't DARK anymore. The weirdest thing about the way he came back to talk to me was that he asked me to sit up in bed. This is a never-before-made sort of request, thus strange.

I sat up and he started to tell me a little story. He told me that Joey had just stopped by and given him the bag Jess now had and tole a story of his own. The story was one Joey shared with me right after it happened.

Basically, Joey has a full-time job and does side work for extra money. Well, about 9 months ago he did some of that side work on a Sunday, which he normally would not do. Subsequent to that he didn't receive ANY side work at all until this past week. Joey told Jess that he was sure he received the extra work this week so that he could help us!

Jess Weirdness
So then Jess hands me the bag. By this time my hubbie has already mentioned to me that the needed thermostat was in it, so handing me the bad felt rather weird. Next Jess tells me to open the bag and I felt this sort of creepy weirdness around him again. But I opened the plastic bad anyway. In the bad is the thermostat box and a receipt. On the back of the receipt Joey has written other possible parts that may need to be replaced in the repair job and their respective prices. That touched me because it was SUPER thoughtful and just a bit of "extra mile" sort of thing. Next Jess tells me to open the box. REALLY WEIRD weirdness from him. I did. In the box is a yellow piece of paper that says, "Thanks for being such good friends. Joey" And I started to get all teary eyed because here we are asking for help and HE is thanking US for being good friends! I look at Jess and he gives me this strange look like, 'anything else?' So I look in the little box again and there I see what looks like a 20$ bill. I get even more teary eyed and pull it out only to realize that it's a STACK of 20$ bills!!!! Obviously, if you know me, you know I was full on crying at this point. And NO, I'm not joking. I am TOTALLY 100% serious! $200 worth of 20s, as a matter-of-fact! Can you believe it?!?!! A crazy thing about that amount is that the most expensive replacement part listed on the back of the receipt was $209 and some change!

The really funny thing about this amazing gift is that just earlier this week I'd used one of my Dad's super corny jokes about money in talking with someone. The person with whom I was speaking had asked if there was some way she could help me and my family. I'd pulled out the, "Oh... no. Unless of course you have a stack of bills lying around that you don't need!" Yes, I know, it IS a totally lame joke and felt really REALLY silly for using it. But it's almost as if I couldn't stop myself! Seriously! Anyway... the fact that within the same week of saying such a ludicrous thing out loud and it happening is just beyond amazing, wonderful, and miraculous to me!!! We are so tremendously blessed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And, to continue my theme of the HUGE blessing of seeing with spiritual eyes:

Jess was pretty sure he needed to purchase a specific tool because of the tight situation he has to work in while trying to remove and install the thermostat. I don't know the name of the tool, but it has a universal joint and Jessie's description of it made total sense and I could see in my mind why it would be necessary. So I was totally okay with that expenditure (of gift money!), but he would need to find someone to help him get the part. So, we talked about how to handle that. I'd spoken to one of my Visiting Teachers because I was trying to line up a ride for my family to get to church and she'd already volunteered to take Jess to work, so I figured she wouldn't mind taking him to the parts store instead. So, he called her. And instead of driving him there, she picked up some tools from her husband's big rig (in which he had the needed tool) and brought it to our house. It appears that there is still a part of the tool Jess might need, but it's very likely that he will be able to borrow it as well. (Let's hope, right?)

So one of my VTs offered Jess a ride, another person offered to bring Jess to AND from work all within a couple hours of each other. Thus far we have not had to accept either offer because, as it happens, Jess got a ride into work with a guy who just moved into our little town about a week ago. This guy "coincidentally" works the same schedule as Jess and lives a few blocks away! Can you believe it?? Yes, I AM serious. Can't you just see how Father has prepared the way for our current difficulty to be less difficult - even a blessing?? Boy, I can!!!

I feel such abiding gratitude and even joy in this situation because of the "spiritual seeing" I have been blessed with!!

I have to admit I don't often feel or see the blessing in the constant headaches I've had... or the fatigue, either, for that matter. But I'm making SOME progress, at least. :) hehehe

In Other News about Tori
OH!! I have wonderful news to share. I'm very pleased and perhaps a bit impressed even with this tidbit. ... Assuming I walk today, I will have made it through my FIRST week of walking 6 days out of 7!!!!! Also, because of how last week worked out with the weather, as of yesterday I had walked 8 days straight. Cool, right? I feel good about it because I'm really listening to my body. For instance, even though I walked 50 minutes yesterday, the pace was super slow because I had a muscle cramp in my right side almost the whole time (at varying degrees of pain). I haven't been able to maintain my 80 minute goal, but I still feel really good about my accomplishments (especially just getting OUT and DOING it!!!). ^_^

about Ria and Kitty Kat
Ria and Kat finally got to talk to their Mimi. They want to talk to her every day, though they often don't mention it specifically. They'll say "Mimi," or "Papa" and I'll know they want me to call. My Mom, though, works quite a lot currently, so it's rather pointless to call most of the time. Of course, I do call anyway after some of those unasked requests so that they can leave a message or something.

Anyway, the point is that they both were able to talk to her and BOY, did they talk! I think Ria was on the phone with Mimi for at least 30 minutes. Seriously!!! I left her to it, much of the time, but when I was working on the cookies I was making (specifically for Jessie's midnight cookie run) I was able to hear and observe a bit. It was HILARIOUS! Ria was full of all kinds of sighs and intakes of breath. I'm definitely going to have to pay attention to how I talk on the phone because I can't imagine who else she's mimicking! I mean, Jess is like a poker player almost 24/7! So, it wouldn't be him.... It was entertaining.

Kat was MUCH more vocal on the phone with Mimi than she's been previously on the phone, in general. The really interesting part about the conversation was that I could TOTALLY tell that Kat wanted to tell Mimi about her own hair. So, while Mimi was listening I asked Kat a couple questions and then conveyed the statement Kat desired to share, which was basically, "My hair is really long in front. It hangs into my eyes. I don't like it, so I push it out of my face." After I conveyed that message I asked Kat if that's what she wanted to tell Mimi and she was just tickled pink that I'd said the right thing! What a joy to be able to interpret correctly!!! ^_^

And to share something that I sort of take for granted, but realize I probably shouldn't... so I want to compliment my eldest daughter to you: Ria cleans her own room and has been really successfully doing this since just before her 4th birthday. The closet in which she keeps her toys is not super organized, but everything is put away. Her books are even stacked properly with her 3 different sets stacked together in groups. She's wonderful, don't you think?

I love my family!!!

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