All Moved In

After an utterly exhausting two weeks, we are moved into the house here.  Unpacking is going really, really slowly.  I think I’m totally out of energy at this point.  Not only is it hard to stay up and moving to get things done, but my brain is having a lot of trouble trying to process how to organize everything.  Typically I’m great at that sort of thing, but I just still feel in a fog and not back to full speed yet.

We are working on the new blog now.  Jake told me he thinks maybe we should have two blogs so that my readership doesn’t get annoyed by all his intellectual and theology-oriented stuff.  I’m not sure which way I’m leaning right now, might make up a poll for all of you and see what the preference is.  I don’t really want to manage two blogs, and I think we could separate topics well enough for people who aren’t interested in one or the other, but I also don’t want a bunch of frustrated readers trying to sort through intricate discussions on church history when all they really wanted was an update on kiddos or to have people looking for doctrinal discussions lost in a sea of cute babies.

Although… really, who could get upset about being lost in a sea of cute babies? 😀

The other reason I would rather have a family blog at this point where Jake and I both contribute is because I won’t feel the need to come up with a new name for a personal blog.  I’ve been the Crunchy Lutheran Mommy for so long I don’t have any other blog names that seem to even fit.  So, having a family blog and doing something totally new gives me a bit of an out on that one.  Is that a good enough excuse?

Anyway, thoughts appreciated.  Prayers appreciated.  Have a blessed night everyone.

Good-Bye Blog

I have been meaning to post for a while. I had an adorable video of Hope that I couldn’t figure out how to get off of my phone for some reason. And in the last few weeks things have simply become more intense. On Sunday Jake resigned from his call as a pastor at our church. Obviously, a lot has been going on behind the scenes in the last month. Probably most of which I won’t ever be posting publicly here.

His decision to resign is a difficult one, and it has been extremely painful for both of us as we walk through this process. He has to resign for doctrinal differences we have developed with the Lutheran Church. Throughout our formal education on the Lutheran confessions and practice we learned things about Lutheranism that raised questions. We’ve tried for many years to answer those questions and settle our doubts. But the questions were not resolved, instead more questions appeared and our discomfort with the LCMS’ doctrine and practice grew.

Many people have said to us that it doesn’t matter what denomination you are in, as long as you are a sincere Christian. And I agree with that in some ways; certainly you don’t have to belong to any particular denomination to receive God’s gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation. However, some churches do have a fuller understanding of these gifts and of the Gospel than others. And when you are teaching and preaching the faith, as Jake was, Scripture clearly tells us that you will be held to a higher standard. It is wrong to go on teaching publicly something that you have found to not be consistent with God’s Word.

And so for these reasons, we do need to go. I’m not sure yet what I will do about my little blog here. I don’t think I can go on being the Crunchy Lutheran Mommy, so we will likely be saying good-bye to this blog. But no worries, I have no plans to stop blogging! I have talked to Jake about getting a family blog put together where I can continue going on about my typical things and perhaps he can start writing about his journey and thoughts as well.

We will be moving out of state next week, and we certainly want to stay in touch. Both with our far away friends, and our friends who have been our local family for the last four years. I do hope everyone knows how dear they are to us and how much we will miss them. Thank you all for your continuing prayers for our family, we are very much in need of them right now.  And please also pray for the amazing people in this congregation that we are leaving behind.  Will post more soon.

Little Bambino

Before I start with the post I actually wrote for today, I just wanted to give a huge thank you to all of you for the outpouring of love and support after my last post.  Ya’ll brought me to tears (well you and the pregnancy hormones haha) and you have no idea how much I needed to hear every single one of those comments.  Just knowing how many people we still have praying for us after so long, and how many of you care, is motivation for me to keep pushing ahead and seeking Christ and His will in my life and in our family.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You all bless me so much more than you know!

I told my husband.  I did.  I told him, “You can’t call the baby Bambino.  We don’t know if the baby is a boy or a girl, and Bambino is definitely a boy’s name.”  But sometimes I get overruled (ok a lot of times I get overruled.)  He says, “This baby is a boy, so it doesn’t matter anyway.”  He’s very confident in his prediction apparently.  He also offered that we could call the baby Bambi if we happen to have a girl, which sounded like a fine compromise at first, until I remembered that Bambi was actually a boy… and by the time we would get to see our baby girl the whole point would be moot because the pregnancy would be over anyway.  Then there was that pesky pregnancy article I was reading that referred to the baby as “your little bambino”.  I tried, but there was just no getting out of it… so Bambino is the name-o of darling baby number six.  (Until said baby is born and then we can pick a real name, thank goodness!)

I have been waiting to post this until we had our first prenatal visit, which was supposed to be on Monday, and then it got moved to yesterday and then it got moved to next week soooo I don’t really know when it’s going to be.  And in the spirit of not taking forever to post again I thought I’d just write this up now and then let you know how the visit went later, after it actually happens.

So on to the fun stuff.  I’m nine weeks pregnant now, we found out at a super early four weeks.  I didn’t even think I was pregnant when I took the test, but I had been so abnormally tired and Jake had mentioned that I take one.  I brushed him off, but ended up taking one on a whim the next day anyway.  And sure enough, there were two very solid lines staring right back at me.  I was totally stunned.  Excited, happy, but way not expecting it!

Morning sickness followed soon after that and has not let up at all since then.  It’s 24/7, and if I do get it to settle down as soon as I get up and move again the nausea comes right back.  The first few weeks were the hardest.  I called my doctor as soon as I knew, and I got in for a quick appointment.  Hashimoto’s can have fatal complications for the baby if not treated properly during pregnancy, so I was a bit anxious.  She didn’t want to do blood work until week six, and by that point I was having definite hypothyroid symptoms and thyroid flare ups.  My energy levels tanked; I was in pain; I was cold all the time, and just totally not functional.  I was so thankful when we did the blood work and she adjusted my dose; I quickly felt better after that.

I was really set on eating super well this pregnancy, but it hasn’t happened.  My food aversions/cravings have been all over the place; between that and the constant morning sickness (let’s just say my diet has been below average, even for a typical American).  My migraines have come back because I’ve been skipping so many meals, which makes the nausea even worse.  Can you say vicious cycle?

But I do feel like I’m slowly starting to turn a corner.  I can eat through the sick feeling now a bit better than I could a week or two ago.  Fruits and vegetables have become edible again and even meat sometimes.  So we’re getting there.  And I’m definitely committed to cleaning up my act on the eating as soon as possible for little Bambino.

I’m also hoping to avoid the bed rest and terrible issues I had at the end of my last pregnancy.  Me being out of commission is so hard on the family.  The kids are struggling with just my morning sickness impairments, bed rest would be (and was) unbearable.  Jake has been amazing, as always.  He has been cooking almost all the meals for the last month, because I haven’t been able to.  He works early and late so he can be more helpful during the day.  And, of course, he has to carry all of the children everywhere now and I can’t really help with that at all.  He’s done bedtime single handedly quite often.  And he’s even changes the poopy diapers because I usually can’t handle the smell!  He’s the absolute best husband ever.

So, in short, it’s been tough so far but we are muddling through as always.  God is very good.  Morning sickness is no fun for any of us, but we are thankful that baby is healthy and growing right now, and we are all beyond thrilled for a new little one in the house.  Even Kyrie seems happy when we talk about having a baby, although she does laugh at me when I tell her baby is in my tummy.  Oh well, one day she will believe me!  Oh and bonus adorable not-the-baby-anymore pic:

Not the Baby Anymore

Love you all, enjoy your weekend!

The Roller Coaster

I’m not sure exactly what it was that stopped my blog.  I was so determined not to be that adoptive mom that spent a year gushing about her babies and asking for money to bring them home, only to disappear into thin air once they arrived.  Not that I judged my fellow adoptive mamas who went through similar things.  Adoption is all-consuming – especially after the plane lands.  No one can possibly fathom what their new normal will be like, let alone if they will have time to take several hours out of their week keeping the world updated on their precious new additions.

I knew it was a struggle for a lot of people to keep up their adoption blogs, but I was different.  I blogged before the adoption.  I’ve been blogging since our first year of marriage.  Blogging wasn’t just an adoption necessity for me; it’s what I did!  So, naturally, I’d be able to keep up with it after we were home.  And maybe the real failure (as I see it) isn’t that I didn’t have time to blog.  Sure there have been periods of a few months where there literally was no time or no computer.  But it’s been three years now, and there have been plenty of times in between for blogging and updating.  So why not?  Why have I not continued?

There are so many reasons, between needing to not expend unnecessary emotional energy to just not being able to face my abandoned blog that I used to pour so much of myself into, to not knowing what to say in some of our really dark days.  But I think the reason that stands out the most to me (as I sit here not being able to remember how to even log into my blog admin account) is that our life is such a roller coaster and I didn’t know how to honestly take all of you on that roller coaster with me.

Some roller coasters were less serious, like “Hey, Hope is sleeping so well now!” To… “Oh nevermind, we aren’t getting sleep anymore.”  And some were more serious, like our constant progress and regression with Jacob’s attachment and behaviors or the myriad of diets and supplements I’ve tried in attempting to manage my Hashimoto’s.  There was a time where I have been able to fit on a single sheet of paper a list of every single food I could eat, because I had restricted my diet so severely in trying to feel perfectly well.  Other months I haven’t been attempting any basic vitamin protocols or healthy eating habits because I just can’t cope with any of it anymore.

How do I explain to my readers that yes I’m on the GAPS diet, no I’m not doing that anymore, well now I’m just going to do the Whole30 again, maybe I’ll add the AIP protocol too, and oh I found some more food sensitivities… well, no I’m not even trying anymore.  It’s frustrating enough to live that reality without actually having to broadcast it.  From some recent reading, I think I’m probably not alone in this up and down autoimmunity journey.  Healing hasn’t been straightforward or simple, and when I think I’ve found the magic formula for wellness I end up being disappointed, frustrated and exhausted from the work I’ve put into it.  And so I stop trying, but the next bad wave of sickness comes and the guilt seems to push me into trying something, anything, to fix it.

The same has been true with our children.  Things get better for a while, and then they get worse.  Homeschool goes, and then it doesn’t.  Nothing in my life is consistent or even has a noticeable upward progression.  I’m sure Jacob and Hope have made progress.  I’m sure they have.  But I can’t see it.  I am told by everyone how much potential they have, and I believe it, but there’s that nagging feeling that neither of them will ever reach that potential because I can’t seem to unlock it.  How do you explain that to people?  “Oh yes, the potential is there, but it won’t amount to anything.”  Most times honesty just isn’t an option, because people won’t understand or refuse to believe it if you told them.  And trust me, I’ve tried.

Everyone will tell you that special needs parenting is isolating.  Having a chronic illness is isolating.  Being a pastor’s wife is isolating.  If there’s one thing that I apparently can do really consistently, it’s isolate myself.  My online community used to be my foundation of support, but it was draining me more than it was helping and I had to let go.  I got rid of Facebook, and I’ve been much happier.  I stopped blogging because I couldn’t handle sharing the repeated success/failure/success/failure, up and down insanity that is our life.

When Jacob and Hope came home I stopped reading “normal” family blogs.  I could not relate to my friends anymore with typical children, their joys and struggles are just as real as mine, but they became so foreign to me.  I remember once feeling the way they describe, but I knew that I’d never live that life again.  And after a while even the adoption blogs and the special needs blogs stopped being encouraging.  Our struggles don’t seem to fit into anyone else’s box.  I try looking for help on the “moms with chronic illness” corner of the web, but they don’t understand all the other pieces of our puzzle either.

In real life it’s the same.  No one gets all of our puzzle pieces.  We are the only ones who can make our life work, and it’s hard to find anyone who can even help because they don’t know how the pieces fit together.  Our life is complicated and delicate and in a constant state of flux.

Speaking of which, we are expecting again.  Baby #6 is on the way, and as excited as I am about that, the fatigue and morning sickness, not to mention my other chronic illness symptoms are a new source of guilt and frustration.  I’m back to incapacitated most days, and it’s a hard pill to swallow.  I’m watching little successes, habits and routines I’ve spent months building just slip away again.  And there isn’t anything I can do to stop it.

I don’t want to just sit here and vent, because especially lately, I’ve been able to see just how much I have.  I’ve been doing a lot less taking for granted and a lot more of being thankful for what we can do as a family.  Maybe that’s why I was able to muster the courage to write this post.  We aren’t in the dark days of transition that we were in right after the kids came home or during Hope’s hospital stays.  Things are much better now.  I am way more functional than I was just prior to receiving my diagnosis.  We have five beautiful children and one on the way, and our marriage is rock solid.  We have all the things we need and many of the things we want.

Things are well.  But well just looks so different for us, and it is fluid.  I don’t know how to convey our family’s story in a way that doesn’t make people just shake their heads and wonder why we seem to be stuck on repeat.  Perhaps I’ll figure it out and come back to my long lost blog, and writing to you delightful people, which is something I really did used to love.

72 Hours After Facebook

Has it really been three days already?  I’ve hardly thought about Facebook at all today.  I had an eye appointment, the kids spent the afternoon playing in the pool while I did my favorite pastime (list making) and this evening was an early dinner and bedtime for the three worn out little ones.  I’m hoping to get some more cleaning and organizing done this evening since the day was so busy.

I am excited to keep blogging and fill in the details as I go.  I need to actually block some time off for this though, otherwise it will consume my mental narrative much like Facebook did, and it will be distracting.  I’ve noticed that my blog is already replacing some of that mental space I freed up in deleting Facebook, and I don’t want that to get out of hand or I’ll have to quit this too!  Moderation is key and I will be focusing quite intently on that as I start out.

I don’t want to try to do too much too fast.  But there are also so many things I’d like to say.  All in all I don’t think (at this point) I will ever return to having a personal Facebook profile.  It took much more than it gave, and in the end I don’t have room in my life for things like that.  I think it can be an amazing tool and I almost wish that I had found it later in life when I had a better idea of what I wanted out of my internet connections and resources.  But I am perfectly fine without it as it stands.

My dear husband has remarked to me several times today how happy I seem and how even when I do get grumpy I rebound much faster.  I’m not sure at this point if that’s just a correlation or really a direct result of my new-found freedom, but it’s certainly a great start to the journey!  I think I was expecting it to be much more difficult than this, but there is still plenty of time for me to hit some bumps in my post-Facebook road.  Perhaps the craving for that newsfeed will come back.  Stay tuned to find out I suppose!

Not Shooting for the Stars

Some days you just can’t get ahead.  I’ve only written six hundred words today.   Not enough, doesn’t matter.  I’m going to bed.  Too much stress today and I feel awful.  I just need to go back to bed.  I suppose, when you’re blogging every day there is going to be a day that is just not pretty.  Today is one of those days.  It wasn’t terrible, but I’m just worn out at this point and don’t feel like doing more.

So tonight I’m not shooting for the stars… I’m just going to go lay down and hope to wake up and feel better in the morning than I did this afternoon.  I would say chronic illness is to blame, and I’m sure it has something to do with it.  But in reality, doesn’t everyone just have “one of those days”?  In case you were wondering, it wasn’t rhetorical.  Give me a shout out and let me know I’m not alone here! Ha… ok… night.  :)

Writing Up a Storm

Night four (I think) of my experiment and I’m still loving it!  I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’m getting any more sleep than I was before, but I certainly am being more productive.  Something just hasn’t been jiving these first few days between my brain wanting to sleep and my kids sleeping when they’re supposed to.  Regardless of our inability to coordinate, things are going fairly well.  I am certainly not getting less sleep than I was, and I think having that solid, initial block in the early evening hours really helps if the early morning hours get rocky.

Tonight I fell asleep easier than I have been, which was great.  My brain started ramping up with the laundry list of things I had forgotten (why does it always do that when I’m trying to sleep?!)  But it was super easy to flip the off switch when I could remind myself that I was getting up in three hours and would just do it then.  I was actually surprised how quickly my mind shut itself up!  It was fantastic!

So what have I been doing with my extra time?  Writing of course!  Like I said, most of the time I’m gaining from this right now is going toward Nanowrimo.  I’m writing a novel, and it’s going really well.  I’m currently on course to win the contest of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  I don’t think that will be enough words to finish my book, but it gets me off to a great start nonetheless!

I am super excited about this particular expedition into fantasy writing, my first real shot at it, and I can’t wait to share all of it with all of you!  But for now you will just have to settle for a bit of an excerpt:

What was wrong with everyone? Couldn’t they tell there was something very wrong here? This wasn’t a carnival game or a part of the ceremony. The River hadn’t “gifted” them anything, how would a river even do that anyway? Why was she the only sane person here? The men got to chest deep water and began swimming, keeping their heads above water and eyes toward the basket. Kassia held her breath. The crowd held their breath.

Minutes passed as they maneuvered toward the center of the River, getting themselves into position to catch the basket as it drifted. Half treading water, half swimming upstream, they were drawing closer and closer. Benjamin was the first one to reach out for the basket, gently pulling it in to himself so as not to overturn it, he peered inside. He found layers of blankets, a few of which he soaked tugging at them to see what lay underneath. He cursed under his breath, very unlike him.

“What is it? Ben what do you see?” Brice prodded swimming up alongside him. “Ben!” The color had drained from his face; he made eye contact but couldn’t get anything out. Few things threw Benjamin Azure off his game, but this was more than he had bargained for.”

If that whetted your appetite a bit, stay tuned for more!

Mini Thoughts

So far my sleep experiment has been a success.  I am certainly not less rested than I was before, and I seem to be feeling more energized.  Though it’s early on, so I’ll reserve judgments for now.  I am certainly being more productive than I was before!  The freedom to fall asleep at 7pm knowing I will have two or three more hours in my day to work (without kids!) is just so freeing.

And look, another blog!  Even so, don’t expect too much from me this month.  I plan on doing lots of blogging, but short and sweet blogs with one or two thoughts from the day… mini thoughts you might call them.  :)  The majority of my writing time this month will be dedicated to Nanowrimo!  I won Nano in 2010 when Evie was a baby and haven’t had a chance since then.  Right now I’ve got a great novel idea and I’m going for it.  I will post some excerpts for you soon!

I also have some great holiday recipes that I’ve been testing out and I will be sharing throughout the month.  Looking forward to having some time for my outlet again and praying that my sleep experiment continues to go well so my blogging can keep going.

Knock Knock…

Anybody home? Yes! I am! And we have lots to catch up on!  First and foremost, I wanted to announce the long overdue winner of our giveaway! Stefanie!  Congratulations!  I’ll be contacting you soon to work on getting your prize all set up!

Second, I am so sorry for not posting sooner.  The worst of the adjustment period seems to be over for us and I’m hoping that the next few months we’ll avoid surprise surgeries and unexpected setbacks and get to finally see what our new normal looks like.  We are also trying to get a more reliable internet connection at the house so I can blog more often.

It takes so long to upload a basic post that it hasn’t really been realistic for me to do much.  But now that we’re finding a groove, I’m ready to get back to it and a reasonable internet connection will allow that to happen!  It will also allow me to start uploading pictures again!  If there’s something that you’ve been dying to know about how our family’s doing please comment or send me a quick message and I’ll put it on the docket for posts.  Hope everyone has had a wonderful summer!  It’s good to be back!

Hope is out of the hospital, she’s doing wonderfully.  We are still working through some issues though.  The catheter that drains fluid from her brain became infected, and the bacteria was present in the spinal fluid of her brain.  Life threatening stuff!  But we have the amazing gift of medicine, and we give great thanksgiving to God for the miracles He accomplished through our doctors.  After spending two weeks in the ICU and going through two more surgeries, she is now healthy and thriving once again.

The unfortunate piece of this, however, is that Hope’s self-harming behaviors were the cause of the infection.  She constantly jabs and picks at her catheter.  It was never an issue before, I think, because it was an old surgery (from when she was a baby) and it was fully healed before her stimulating behaviors started.  But when she received a new shunt and catheter back in April, the tissue didn’t have time to completely heal.  We did keep her away from it for several weeks afterward, but that wasn’t enough time.

Now we are in the difficult position of preventing her from touching her catheter until it is fully healed – her neurosurgeon said six months.  The area we need to protect runs from her neck all the way down to her stomach, it’s a very large space.  There is absolutely no behavioral redirection that prevents her from picking; it is a compulsive stim and she just can’t help it.  This means that when we aren’t able to be one-on-one with her and watching very closely, we have to keep her safe some other way.

We are working so hard to find a solution that doesn’t include pediatric restraints.  It took us a month before any of her doctors or therapists would even have a serious brainstorming discussion with us.  We tried some solutions with our own creativity, but nothing has panned out yet.  Hopefully soon.

In other news… Jacob and Evangeline are starting 1st grade!  We have lots of great books to get us going and I’m super excited for both of them.  Technically Evangeline would be in Kindergarten this year, but since we are homeschooling it gives us a lot of flexibility to go at their pace, so I opted for an early 1st grade start and if we need to take more than a year to finish it no one will be stressed out!  Having them start in the same grade will also be super helpful for me, as I only have one lesson plan.  Yay!

I’m telling Stephen that he gets to “start Preschool” with them, which really just means I’ll have schoolish things for him to do when he feels like it.  Hope is definitely in school with us, but she isn’t really classified in any grade level yet.  I’m hoping that by the time Stephen is ready to start 1st grade her attentiveness will have grown enough that she can listen to the books and music and enjoy them along with him.

The children have reached lots of milestones since I last updated.  Jacob is now using crutches around the house instead of a walker!  He still uses his walker to go to church and back, but he is getting really strong and we are so proud of how hard he’s working on his walking.  He even walked up the stairs for the first time ever a few days ago!  Tomorrow is Jacob and Hope’s first baptism birthday and we will have a dinner and cake to celebrate with them.

Hope is now able to sit up on the edge of her bed and help me put her shirt on.  This is a huge accomplishment!  She does it without prompting and seems to enjoy participating in her care.  She is getting more interested in being a part of our family every day.  It’s amazing to watch her come to life.  I’m working on teaching her to tell me when she wants to be picked up and also showing her how to go from a laying to a sitting position.  She’s strong enough to do it, she just needs to learn that she can!  We started putting her in her stander for a while but we’re breaking from that.  Her braces aren’t exactly correct and she has some alignment issues, so we’re going to try and sort all that out before doing any more standing.

Evangeline has her very first loose tooth, which she is impatient to get out.  She also started her first dance class last week.  She is in a ballet and tap class and is really enjoying it so far!  It has some of the same elements as gymnastics, without the flipping on bars way off the ground, which she didn’t care for much.

Stephen, on the other hand, loves gymnastics!  His first class was also last week, and even though he was shy at first, once he got in on the fun he never stopped smiling once and he zoomed through all the skills.  I was impressed!  He is getting more interested in reading now and would be happy reading several books all in a row if I had the time for it.  He just had his third birthday and is turning into a sweet, sweet kid.

Kyrie is growing like a weed; she is already in 2T clothes and she has four teeth!  Ack!  How did that happen!?  Last week she said her first word “Dada”!  She won’t say it for us every time, I suppose it’s on her terms. We are diaper free now except when we go out in town.  I still take her potty when we’re away, but we use a diaper just in case we can’t find a potty fast enough.  She stays dry through the night for us, which is awesome, and she typically has a few accidents throughout the day, but we’re doing really well for six months and I’m enjoying not having to buy so many diapers!

 

A Bright Day

Hi everyone!  Ok so really quick.  For those of you who follow my Facebook page, I posted a prayer request a few days ago because I was trying to write a post (which I’ve been honestly trying to write for months) and it just wasn’t coming.  The words I needed to say were hard words.  Really hard.  And I didn’t know exactly how to say them.

Well… ya’ll are amazing prayer warriors apparently!!  Because the next morning I woke up and my life was changed.  It sounds sensational and crazy, I know. But I have no other way of describing it.  So, if you want to hear more there’s a video on my Facebook page you can look at here. (Because I still have no idea how to post a video on my blog! Lol!)

I will be posting again soon!  And the next post will have the winner of the giveaway from a long long time ago.  Thank you all so much for your patience these last few months as my posts have dwindled.  There are some seasons of life where we need much grace, and this last year has definitely been that for me.

Looking forward to brighter days with the best people in the world who have stuck by me through it all.  I love each and every one of you, even those of you I don’t know who are reading I pray for you and love you just the same.

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