Friday, August 28, 2009

Fun Foto Friday

My sweet little girl with her blonde hair and bright blue eyes...

Looks a little bit like her mommy when I was a little girl,a long time ago. This is me (blonde on the left) with my big sister Jenny (why do we not look more alike)?

What do you think?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rattled and a little raw

I felt like I needed to applaud or cheer when he started walking towards the podium. It had been about six weeks since he had stood in that spot and we had all missed him. He looked exactly the same, and even had a smile on his face when he started to speak. First, he said, he should probably address the elephant in the room. He had to talk about the reason for his absence. Exactly 39 days ago he received the phone call that completely changed his life. As he sat in the chair in his office, his doctor told him “Andy, you have cancer”.

That man is my pastor. Andy McQuitty, the senior pastor of Irving Bible Church in Irving, TX where my family and I have attended faithfully for over five years. Pastor Andy is a husband, a father of five, and a grandfather. He rides a Harley and drinks Starbucks coffee like it is going out of style. He loves to quote lines from movies and books, and he breathes better when he is on the golf course. He takes his family to dinner on Sunday evenings and inspires SO MANY people in his congregation. I have always admired (and envied) his way with words, he finds the right balance of wit and intelligence. I am amazed at how he makes me feel like he writes his sermon directly for me every Sunday. And he has cancer.

I am on his email list at church and about five weeks ago he send out a very candid message that tell us about his “news”. About a week later he went in for major surgery and had several inches of his colon removed. While waiting for additional test results, we were relieved to hear that he was recovering quickly from his surgery and could be back to preaching in as little as six weeks. As a church body (and IBC is a fairly large congregation), we wanted to reach out to our pastor and his family. However, it would probably be a tad overwhelming if we all started calling, emailing, texting or stopping by to visit. So last week the church came up with the idea of a “prayer line” for Andy. It is a phone number to a pager and we can call when we are praying for him, to let him know that he is in our thoughts. Pastor Andy brought the pager with him as he spoke to the congregation this Sunday morning and joked about how often it vibrates – he said it goes off all hours of the day, so often that he has replaced the battery three times, and so much that he can almost get a massage from the vibration. He is able to joke about his cancer.

So last week, I was saddened when I opened his email and read the news that Pastor Andy had to share. He has (in his words) “a pretty band cancer and the next two to three months are crucial in determining how much longer I’m going to… be on this planet”. He explained how the Oncologists rank the seriousness of this disease with One being the least serious and Four being barely hanging on. He is in late Stage three. He starts six months of chemotherapy on Wednesday to attack those dirty little cancer devils.

So do you want to know how I feel about this news? It’s not pretty. I don’t know if I can joke about it.

The first thing that happened when I heard about Pastor Andy having cancer…

I got MAD. At God. Really ticked off, to tell you the truth.

I told God that He was wrong; that He had picked the wrong person for this evil disease (although I’m not sure if there is a right person to deserve cancer). I told God that there are so many people that NEED Andy around a lot longer. I told God that He was wrong if He thought that something good would come out of this “journey” that He has selected Andy to endure. I told God that maybe He should have considered all the people of IBC, all the people’s lives that Andy touches before He gave him an all access pass to the Cancer Club. I basically sat down to pray but ended up telling God off.

Let me tell you that in my 20+ years of experience as a Christian, getting mad at God DOES NOT WORK. So I cried instead.

When I heard that Pastor Andy would be speaking at church this morning, I made sure my entire family got up on time to be there. It was a relief to see him standing in his usual spot for a change. I also needed to hear what he had to say, I needed to hear how he was dealing with this life-altering news. I needed to know how to pray for him and his family. When Andy spoke this morning, he questioned if the rules were different now that he had to endure the burden of cancer. He wondered if he should get a “free pass” on how to handle things now that he is sick. The answer is No. Then he quoted Matthew 6:25-34.

In the past five years, this has become the passage of scripture that I turn when I am anxious, worried, or feeling lost. This is the passage that I seek when I am struggling to see God’s plan in my life. It is the passage that reminds me that God is in control, that I need to continue to put him first in my life and continue to spread his word. It humbles me every time I read it. We all have burdens and struggles in our lives, but that does not mean that the rules no longer apply to us. Nobody gets a free pass. I am still struggling with the news that my Pastor has Stage three cancer, but I also realize that I have no control over this diagnosis. I am reminded that I have to put my faith in God, realize that He is in control and He has a plan (I just wish He would have consulted me on His plan because I have VERY STRONG opinion about it).

Today I left church feeling rattled and a little raw. I'm still angry and upset at the fight that Andy, his wife and his family is facing over the next several months. I think about how I would feel if we got the same news about Trey and it made me want to scream. When we got home, I found my way into Trey’s arms and we held each other without words. I cradled my infant son and kissed his sweet, chubby cheeks. I hugged Sophia tight before she went down for her nap. I have been reminded that the time that we have here on this earth is very short and we never know when God decides to bring one of us home. I still don't know how to handles what I am feeling, but that is for God and me to figure out. We have a lot more talking to do. I still have a srong opinion about cancer though - it sucks.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fun Foto Friday

He came into the world so tiny, innocent and sweet...

Totally dependent on me to care for him...

He smiles in contentment and my heart fills with love...

Then I realize that his diaper is off... Oops!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday's Motherhood Moment - "Techno" Overload

I have a BlackBerry. I’m on Facebook. I have a blog. I have multiple email accounts (for work, personal and spam). In today’s world of technology, there are lots of ways to keep in touch with friends and family without actually talking to them face to face. Text, email, wall post, blog entry… all ways to let people know what is going on in my life without actually hearing my voice. This weekend, I found a new way to keep in touch with friends without any effort on my part.

Step 1 – Leave my BlackBerry sitting out on the coffee table.
Step 2 – Leave the room to change Tallen’s diaper
Step 3 – Hear my phone ringing and run back to the living room to answer
Step 4 – Check my caller ID and notice the name is from a friend that I have not talked to in over a year.
Step 5 – Answer the phone and start talking to long lost friend - who says I just called them and hung up
Step 6 – Catch up on what they have been doing the last few months, talk about the kids, and then tell them to find me on Facebook so they can see pictures of the kids
Step 6 – After the call, look for Sophia. Find her and ask if she was playing with my phone.

“Yes”, she said. “I had to email my Daddy”.

My three year old daughter wanted to email her Daddy, who had just left the house 15 minutes before to run an errand. Yes, technology has evolved over the years.

P.S. I have to admit, I have texted my own husband while we were both at home. In my defense, I was upstairs nursing the baby while he was downstairs visiting with his parents. I did not want to yell and startle the baby but I needed Trey to bring me some medicine for Tallen.

Has technology gotten out of hand in your life? Do you text more than you talk?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fun Foto Friday

All I did was ask her to bring me the newspaper and then I turned my back for a minute...

Maybe she was trying to help me tear out the coupons...

I'm just glad that I did not ask her to get the mail too...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday's Motherhood Moment - Home Alone (with my kids)

Over the weekend Trey had to take his godchild, who had been staying with us for the past week, back home to Louisiana. Originally the plan was for them to get up Saturday morning to leave. Trey was going to stay over for one night and come back on Sunday afternoon. On Thursday afternoon a few things came up, so he decided to leave Friday before I got off of work. My weekend outlook had changed and I quickly realized three things…

1. I have never done the single parent thing for more than a couple hours since Tallen was born. Sophia continued to go to daycare while I was on maternity leave and taking care of Tallen was a full-time ordeal.

2. I was going to be spending two entire days alone with two kids after just finishing my second week back to work. No time for catching up on my rest.

3. It was just three short weeks ago that Tallen was just coming out of his screaming/crying phase so what if he had another three hour meltdown while I was alone with the kids?

When it comes to my kids, I will admit that I struggle with asking for help from family and friends. On one hand, I feel that I should be able to take care of my children own. I am with them every day, know them better than anyone else, and should be able to take care of their needs. I think - other moms do this all the time! A stay-at home mom could take care of a three year old and a newborn on a full time basis. Why do I struggle so much? What is the big deal about having my kids by my-self for 48 hours? I feel guilty and incompetent when I even think about asking for help.

On the other hand, being a mommy of two young children is still pretty new to me. I need to learn and practice how to handle both of them at once. Taking care of Sophia is second nature now – I have been doing that for three years (and she is pretty independent). Once Tallen was born, I had a crash course in newborn care again (it is amazing how much you forget about taking care of a baby). During my maternity leave, the only time that both children were home there were other adults around to help (Trey, my mother-in-law, my mom). Besides a few nights when Trey is racquetball or band practice, he is at home every evening to help me with the kids.

The downfall of being a working mom is that a lot of things still need to be taken care of around the house after work hours (i.e. the same time that you are home with your kids). Which meant that this weekend I needed to do the laundry, clean the bathrooms, go to the grocery store, and cook dinner while still finding time to play with Sophia and her dollhouse, cook in her play kitchen, color with her new crayons, dance to “Rockin’ Tots” CD AND take care of Tallen. I warned Trey that by the time he returned on Sunday I might be exhausted, overwhelmed, and in desperate need of a few hours away from home to recover.

So when Trey walked in the house Sunday evening around 6:30 PM, he was a little wary about what he might find… I admit that my mommy-of-two skills are still a work in progress, just like most of the things around our house this weekend. In addition to Trey’s dinner waiting for him on the stove, I left two baskets of clean laundry for him to fold (because Sophia had asked me to come up to her room and play with her dollhouse). The dishes in the dishwasher were clean, but not put away (because Sophia wanted to cook dinner for Tallen and me in her play kitchen instead). I had left the vacuum out in the living room but never managed to clean the rug (because it was occupied by Sophia dancing to Rockin Tots and Tallen on his play mat, giggling at his toys). Trey walked upstairs and found all three of us sitting on the floor in Sophia’s room, still in our pajamas from the night before, playing and laughing together.

I didn’t need a few hours away from home that night. Instead I spent the night in with Trey, telling him how much fun he missed over the weekend. And how glad I was to have him home…

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fun Photo Friday!

A few weeks ago when my mom was here visiting, we took Sophia to story time at a tea room in Grapevine. She was so excited to have a "tea party" with Mommy and Grammy.

Before we had our tea, she was able to pick out a princess dress and tiara to wear.

She even got to wear make-up and glitter in her hair.

Every princess needs their nails painted pink with sparkles!

The pink cupcakes and tea were yummy too.

What a beautiful little princess!

Monday, August 3, 2009

And I am back... from maternity leave

Hi. Remember me? I almost feel like I should introduce myself again because it has been so long since I have actually posted here. My name is Stephanie and I now a full-time career mom, wife, and parent of TWO little children, Sophia and Tallen. Let me clear off the cobwebs on my keyboard, blow off the dust on my blog and bring you up to date with what is going on in the Suiresphere.

Tallen was born on May 24th so now he is just over two months old now. The last pictures I posted (in the slideshow) were taken when he was two weeks old and he weighed around 6 ½ pounds. He was long and thin when he was born, but check him out NOW…

He weighs over 11 pounds with his chubby cheeks, round little legs, and plump little arms.

The first two weeks after he was born were tiring, but fairly quiet. I was up every 2-3 hours to feed Tallen but he mostly slept between his feedings during the day and night. However, when he was about 2 ½ weeks old the screaming began… Trey described it best when he said that 95% of the time that Tallen was awake, he was screaming and crying. Nothing would soothe him and he would cry for hours at a time (up to about 7 hours a day). It was emotionally and physically exhausting for both of us to take care of him. I took Tallen to the doctor more than once and she prescribed some medicine for reflux and said he also probably had colic (for which there is no magic cure). Basically we had to endure the crying and hope that he would grow out of it in a few weeks, or a few months.

I remember holding Tallen and pacing in his room while trying to comfort his cries and repeatedly looking at the clock to see how long he had been screaming. Fifteen to twenty minutes would pass and it would feel like hours. Even when I managed to calm him down so he could fall asleep, he would wake up screaming again within five to ten minutes. This was a normal pattern each evening from about 8 PM to midnight for several weeks. I was frustrated, exhausted, and not really enjoying my “bonding” experience with my baby. Trey would usually take over late in the evenings (after he had given Sophia a bath and put her to bed) and let me rest for a few hours before I had to get up and nurse him again. I learned that some days, my goal was to just get by… to survive hour by hour until he was able to sleep again.

One day when Tallen was about 5-6 weeks old, I had just finished nursing him and put him on my shoulder to burp. As I turned my head to look at him, he locked eyes with mine and the corners of his mouth started to turn up. His little eyes were shining as he gave me his first, real smile. All of the frustration, anxiety and anger of the past few weeks just vanished as I started to laugh through my tears. The first few weeks of parenthood are a testament to the instinctive power of unconditional love that God weaves into the heart of a mother.

Now that Tallen is 10 weeks old, thing have improved enormously. The hours of screaming have been replaced by hours of awareness and discovery. He will lie on his play mat and smile at the toys that play music above him. If I talk to him, his eyes and mouth show his delight. He studies my face and concentrates on the movements my mouth makes. He tries to make sounds so that he can “talk” back to me. He stares at Sophia when she is playing next to him on the floor of the living room. He moves his mouth and kicks his legs in anticipation when it is time to nurse. In the past week or two he has found his hand and likes to suck on his thumb. He and I also survived his first week of daycare when I started back to work last week.

Sophia is also adjusting well to her new role as big sister. The day after Tallen was born, she walked into the hospital and demanded to see her baby brother. She excitedly sat on Trey’s lap so that she could hold him, kiss him, and touch his face over and over. (She even looked up at me and asked if I wanted to “pet” her baby brother). After we brought Tallen home from the hospital, her excitement did not fade. For the first few weeks she loved to hold him but now she seems content to just give him kisses. If he fusses, she brings me a pacifier or covers him with a blanket. She pats him and tells him in a high pitched voice, “It’s Ok brother. I’m your big sister. I can take care of you”.

There has been a definite shift of parental responsibilities around the house. Trey is now in charge of taking care of Sophia while I am busy with Tallen. He makes her breakfast, gets her dressed, takes her to the pool, pushes her on the swings, gives her a bath, and puts her to bed. I do make an effort to spend time with her too but she has naturally drifted to Trey to fulfill her needs. Surprisingly, I have not seen the jealously from Sophia that I expected to surface.

This past weekend, we celebrated Sophia’s third birthday. I took a minute to look at my beautiful daughter Saturday night as I was putting her to bed (a rare occurrence in the past few months). I held her on my lap and was amazed at how much she has grown. She still surprises me with her intelligence, her vocabulary, her appetite, her imagination, her personality, her innocence… Yesterday, as we were all in the car driving home from dinner, Sophia asked me a question.

“Mommy, will you teach me to fly so that I can touch the birdies in the sky?”

I choose to believe that this is just another way that Sophia lets me know that she believes her mommy would do anything for her… a true sign of my unconditional love.