Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Late, as usual!

But I hope that each of you out there has had a very merry Christmas indeed!

I've still got houseguests, but at the moment I'm mooching about the house having an utterly unproductive day while I wait for the guys (DH, my dad, and two more) to finish a two-hour water-heater project which is now approaching the end of its eighth hour with no end in sight. I never seem to get anything done when (1) there are workmen in the house, or (2) the water is turned off, and having both at once means a whole lotta mooching.

Right now we ought to be arriving home from our trip to Neurology at Phoenix Children's Hospital to have baby's MRI results evaluated by our neurologist, but they had to reschedule us till next week, so that was canceled. Probably a good thing, as DH would have had to leave the guys hanging in the middle of their project!

Our Christmas went pretty well, though we started out with a small catastrophe. I make our friend Kay's overnight coffee cake for Christmas morning, and this year I made two alterations: I doubled it and put it in a 9x13, and I used yogurt/whey instead of buttermilk. Whether it was one thing or the other, the end result was that five minutes after putting it in the oven, the kitchen filled with smoke, and upon opening the oven door, I found said cake to be bubbling gently and cheerfully over the sides of its pan onto the bottom of the oven! So we had the fire alarm going off, all the doors open, etc. etc. etc., in the middle of family present-opening.

I decided to put a baking sheet underneath and keep baking, and it turned into an amorphous blob of no defined shape, but thankfully still a most delicious one, and we were able to hack it apart and partake, regardless of its rather alarming appearance. Yum.

This Christmas we hosted a first-time ever "mixed" Christmas - i.e. we had both my parents and DH's parents with us. It went quite well, and I think everyone enjoyed it. A success!

But all the same, I don't recommend it, and I certainly hope we don't ever do it again.

Perhaps it would have gone better for someone who is a more successful/skilled hostess than I (which is just about anyone). But I found it rather awkward to mix families. Each family group has a unique conversational style, interpersonal dynamics, and group/individual identity, and to mix them just felt.... uncomfortable. I want our in-laws to know each other, and I wouldn't mind doing it again on a non-holiday, but I think I'd rather stick to non-major-holidays for reunions.

But all in all, it went well!

My mom, however, has been up to her usual tricks! Each time she comes to visit us, she brings a vast, enormous amount of STUFF with her that I spend the following six months or so trying to deal with - gifts, things she's bought for us, things she's cleaning out of her house, things neighbors and friends have given her for us - all very kind, and all very difficult to deal with. This time was no exception - I now have something like ten to twelve moving boxes full of more STUFF to deal with.

And what is worse, most of it this time is the dreaded family heirloom china/glass/dishware. My mom was the hapless recipient of something like five (or more) families' worth of collected china and dishware, but having a high value herself for family heirlooms, she has kept all of it. I have told her, repeatedly, from junior high on, that I had absolutely no interest in having any of it. However, it has now started migrating this way as she starts to weed out her collection - passing it on not to an antique store, unfortunately, but to me. However, when I tried to delicately hint that the glassware was still not on my list of highly-wanted items, the tension rose exponentially, so I will try to weed it out gradually after the fact. I did succeed in sending a few particularly ugly pieces back, so that was something.

I find the family heirloom issue to be a particularly difficult one. Option #1 - Keep a lot of things I don't want and don't have room for. Option #2 - Say I don't want them and insult the family. Option #3 - Get rid of them and end up insulting family again. What's a non-china-collecting girl to do?

The quandary continues.

Of course, the problem would become much easier if I liked our family heirloom china, but as a matter of fact, I find it all to be quite unattractive and/or downright ugly. Too bad my family's tastes didn't match mine! How careless of them! :)

But even if it was beautiful, I still would not want to inherit the hundreds and hundreds (thousands?) of pieces of china currently in our family. You wouldn't know it to look at our house, but I'm a minimalist at heart, and the thought of more clutter makes my heart sink.

Moving on!

Christmas Eve did indeed come and go without us settling on a church home, marking one full year of church-home-less-ness. DH was pushing to have us settle on one so that we would have a "home" for the holidays (it's so depressing to be without a church during Christmas!) but I resisted on the grounds that it might be nasty to have a "what have we done?" morning-after experience once Christmas was over and we realized that we had settled on the wrong church just to have a home for Christmas. So we didn't!

The church we've been marginally attending didn't have a Christmas Eve service, so we went to a large local Baptist church for that. As usual, baby was angelically-behaved until the pastor walked up and said "Good evening!", at which point he started squalling his head off! So much for that! But when I walked him out, we ended up having a very nice service-for-two in their lovely foyer, with the sound piped in, so I heard the service in the comfort of a foyer armchair while baby nursed. A lovely evening!

In our church search, contender #3 (the outsider of the race) has recently - and surprisingly - pulled to the fore, due entirely to DH's interest. Considering that DH is an ex-Pentecostal and said church is highly formal, liturgical, and traditional, this is nothing short of astounding!

I have been neutral on the issue. It's been interesting to be back in a liturgical church, but it feels a bit foreign. I grew up in the liturgical church, but became a Christian and have all of my spiritual "upbringing" in the Calvary Chapel/non-denominational/surfer-church type of congregation, so returning to my roots feels.... weird. But interesting. We're going to give it a try for a few weeks and see how it goes.

The main two hurdles are (1) Calvinism, and (2) infant baptism. We're okay with Calvinism as long as it's not ramroding-down-your-throat Calvinism, as was the first church we tried (as in, "Good morning! Let's stand while we recite the doctrines of grace!"). After all, our last church was Calvinist and it wasn't a bit of a problem. It's really how much Calvinism is preached. DH and I find ourselves smack in the middle of the Calvinism/Arminian spectrum, so we tend to shy away from die-hard Calvinism.

Also, this church practices infant baptism. It's not "this infant is baptized, so it's now a Christian" baptism, as was practiced in my home church, but "this infant is baptized, so it's now a member of our covenant community." We're okay with their practice, but we don't want to participate, as we support believer-baptism (i.e. someone is baptized when he becomes a Christian), and we don't know if that would be okay or not with them. We're going to meet with the pastor in a few weeks to go over doctrinal issues, and this will be the most important one to discuss.

Well, back to family! The two-hour project is now verging on something like ten hours - right on schedule! Merry Christmas, all!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fighting the Good Fight ....

.... Against seasonal colds! Onward and upward!

As a rule, our family spends either Thanksgiving or Christmas sick, and we usually miss at least half of our Christmas season dates (parties, etc.) because of a nice Christmastime cold.

This year, I waited nervously all through December.... still well.... Christmas approaching.... still okay... Hurray! I made it till this past Sunday (when my parents arrived to visit) with no cold in sight. Hurray!!!

I woke up on Monday morning with a nice sore throat. A really good, solid, "Oh crud, I'm in for it now" sore throat.


So anyhow, I was majorly upset. Sick just in time to be sick for Christmas, to get my parents sick, and to pass on the germs in time for everyone to be ill for Christmas.

I hit the cold hard with every weapon I had in my arsenal. Over and over again, hoping something would help, with the grand result that on Tuesday I woke up feeling.... much worse! Hurray!

However, at about noon, I suddenly got the feeling that I was no longer getting sicker, but was getting better, and by evening I felt great (though still with a minor sore throat). Since then, I have progressed through the usual cold progression (sniffing, coughing), but at about 2% of normal levels (almost unnoticeable).

Something worked!!!

So, with hopes of helping out anyone out there, here is my arsenal of cold remedies that I used, and I hope they're of use to someone!

(1) Zicam, orally dissolving tablets - 1 every three hours after onset of symptoms.

(2)  Vitamin C therapy - From a friend of mine. Took 2000-3000 mg at onset of symptoms, then 1500 mg every hours afterwards (can do 1000mg, especially if bowel tolerance is reached).

(3) Echinacea - Lots. And lots. And lots. Basically, death by echinacea. Went nuts. Two every couple of hours, at least.

(4) Hydrogen peroxide ear treatment. Google it!

(5) Apple Cider Vinegar - 1 to 2 Tbsp. in water, three times a day, preferably on an empty stomach. Got that one off the Arizona birth network yahoo! group for an ear infection, and it seemed to have a good effect.

(6) Airborne - Just for fun, and because it is so very, very yummy. 

Also, the ever-present:

(7) Rest. As in, "that thing I would be doing a lot more of if I didn't have children." But I did mooch around a good deal, as in - "Mommy, I want to go outside!" Me: "Mmmrrph."

(8) Fluids. I've been setting a challenge lately to myself to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, and I kept doing that - and I think it really helped.

Merry Christmas! Stay well!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lab Test Results

Just a quick note to update!

Last week, a med student called from our ped's office to tell us that baby's brain MRI results were normal - possibly slightly enlarged ventricles, but nothing else.

Then two days ago, our geneticist called to tell us that the first two blood tests (of three) came back negative - which is what we were expecting, as they were a long-shot.

While we were on the phone, I mentioned that I'd gotten the all-clear call about the MRI, and she said, "Well, hmm. That's weird." Turns out the MRI did not actually come back all clear, though the deviations were all minor. Things noted were the aforementioned enlarged ventricles, lower-than-normal overall brain volume, and two arachnoid cysts (haven't looked those up yet). Nothing of particular concern, but definitely not a perfectly normal scan.

So now we have an appointment back with neurology to have the MRI scan results evaluated, and we continue to wait on blood test #3, which is the biggie - the chromosome micro-array, the be all and end all of genetic testing. Hopefully sometime within the next couple of weeks!

Off to have a busy weekend getting ready for my parents to visit! It is SAD how many things we just "don't get around to" until the crunch-time of "aack! parents coming! must clean up the house!" arrives. *Sigh*.

Enjoy the last pre-Christmas weekend, all!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blog to Follow

Three-time HG mama "Refuse to be a Womb Pod" is now entering into pregnancy #4, so definitely check in with her to see what's going on and give her some encouragement! Here is her first entry:

Plans, Plans, Plans

That's one thing about HG - each time does not get easier; rather, it gets harder. Why? Because each time through there is one more kidlet to care for! That's definitely the kicker of the "should we, should we not?" question.

Good luck!!!

* Later note: When reading her blog entry, I got the idea that Becky was actually pregnant, when I found out later that she is not yet pregnant but is preparing for an upcoming pregnancy! That's what I get for speed-reading. Tune in anyway!! :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Very Varied Week!

First of all, a letter that will never reach its addressee:

To the person who vandalized our mailbox this week,

Last Sunday, a dear friend and childhood neighbor of mine - a dear woman in her 70's - went to the hospital with sudden onset of mysterious symptoms. By the middle of this week, she had been diagnosed with acute leukemia - terminal. On Thursday, I mailed her a card and letter. This is the card that you took out of our mailbox, ripped open, pulled apart, and threw into the street. I wrote out another card and mailed it the next day.

The original card would have reached her yesterday. The second card will reach her house tomorrow.

My friend died this morning.


We are mourning one of the sweetest women in the world, someone who was our neighbor for my entire growing-up years, and who was one of my very favorite people. She was unfailingly cheerful, sweet, kind, and thoughtful - I wish that each one of you could have had the blessing of knowing her! I will miss her dearly.

DH and I discussed the fact that this year has really been an epidemic year for cancer among our acquaintance. Margaret, the friend above who just died of leukemia; our friend Mike who died of brain cancer this summer; our friend and tax-preparer C., who is dealing with breast cancer; our friend K. who is starting radiation for multiple-location cancer; DH's mother, who has had lung spots that they are trying to find the cause for; the mom of a childhood friend of DH, who is dying of lung cancer - and others.

Of course, the discussion of cancer wouldn't be complete without a mention of my amazing Canadian cousin Marion, who at 89 entered hospice this past Spring with incurable lung cancer and a two-week expectation of life, only to emerge triumphant six months later, spry as ever and completely cancer-free (without treatment). We are grateful for the miracles among the tragedies!

The other events of this week have been much more positive and uplifting!

First, baby's MRI:

The fasting was much less traumatic than expected. To start with, I made a point of capitalizing on the timetables. For example, I fed baby a fourth meal at 10 p.m. the night before (as I didn't fancy getting him up at 3:30 a.m. for the 4:00 a.m. cut-off!) and stuffed him as full as I could, and then did the same with the breastfeeding deadline and the water deadline. So when it was all over, baby only had to go about 2 1/2 hours completely NPO, and he didn't seem to mind it at all.

The hospital where we went (an outpatient campus) was excellent, the nurses and anesthesiologist were just great, and our experience was top-notch. In fact, I wrote them an email thank-you after we got home just to tell them how impressed we were. We'd definitely go back if necessary.

The intake paperwork had made us believe that one of us would be allowed to go with baby during the procedure, but we found when we got there that that was not the case - they did all the preliminary stuff with us, but then took baby back when it was time for his procedure. I guess the intake people have their wires crossed somehow! I considered asking if I could go back anyhow, but decided against it (and it probably would have been denied anyhow), so I waited in the MRI waiting room while DH and DS went to the park.

Baby came through his procedure just fine. As soon as he was awake enough to take some water, they brought me back to breastfeed him while they monitored him, and then we went home. Great staff! Baby was a bit drowsy while nursing, and they said he'd be drowsy for the rest of the day, but he decided instead to be rather wired! He didn't nap for several more hours, and then took a super-short nap and was up for the rest of the day completely awake and alert, with no other effects that we noticed.

All in all, a good experience, and we should have results soon!

The other event of the week was my friend Jennifer's baby shower, an event that we have been anticipating for the past five years while we watched our friends go through infertility testing and then adoption proceedings and the pain of two unsuccessful embryo adoption transfers. Baby #6 of 12 is now flourishing and is expected to join us this coming January or February. We are so excited!

I got to help with the food, so I spent the night before making mounds of chicken salad (I ended up making about three times as much as we needed) and coffee syrup, and the morning of the shower I got to share in all the fun of an all-women preparation party as we decorated and prepared food. So very, very fun. A lovely day!

Here is the recipe for the chicken salad, which I just adored! I had never had chicken salad before, but I am a definite convert now:


Chicken Salad

• 2 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
• 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
• 1 cup halved green grapes
• 3/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
• 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
• 2 teaspoons finely minced onion
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
• salt and pepper to taste


1. Combine chicken, celery and grapes in large bowl; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients; add to salad and toss to coat. Chill until serving.


For me, the culinary highlight of the day was the coffee punch, a recipe from a darling church family that has been adopted by the church and which I have had several times. It is awesome!! I had three cups of it, and would have had more had I not been so busy. We are currently watching "Anne of Green Gables," and it made me think of my namesake Diana, who had "three tumbler-fulls"of the "raspberry cordial" that turned out to be red currant wine. Had this punch been alcoholic, I might have experienced the same tragical outcome! :)

And so with that, I share the recipe - it is YUMMY!


Creme Coffee Punch

1 (4-oz) jar instant coffee, regular or decaf
4 cups boiling water
4 cups sugar
1 gallon chocolate ice cream
1 gallon vanilla ice cream
1 gallon whole milk

1. In a large container, dissolve cofee in boiling water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Cover and chill overnight.

2. To serve, put half of both ice creams in a large punch bowl. Add half the chilled coffee syrup and half of the milk. Stir to partially melt ice cream. Use the rest to refill the punch bowl when needed. (At the shower, which had a lot of people present, we just put everything in at once.)



The humor of the day was added by the fact that the big plastic snowflake ornaments, which were suspended from a second-story banister, for some reason kept dropping spontaneously off of their ribbons and falling to the floor below, where they smashed spectacularly on the tile. Thankfully only one person was hit before we all learned not to stand under them!

I can't believe that Christmas is so quickly approaching! I hope that each and every one of you is enjoying the holiday season! We have been going driving almost every night to look at lights and are greatly enjoying it. There is one house in our neighborhood who does the lights-and-music-synced in the style (to a lesser extent) of this famous house, and though the fellow who lives there told DH last year that he puts up his lights the day after Thanksgiving, this year there has been no sign of them yet. DH has taken up the habit of driving past this house almost every night to check, and he is now muttering darkly each time we drive past to see a still-dark house. Ah, well! Maybe that will be our new holiday tradition - driving past this poor guy's house every night to say, "He TOLD us they would be up!"

A very happy December to all!

New HG Blog

Knocked Up, Knocked Over posted this link a few weeks ago, and I wanted to as well! This is a new HG blog, of a mama who is currently in her first trimester with her second child, and dealing with HG:

Building My Baby

You can read all about her current struggles and frustrations (she's in the middle of a doctor-change to try to find a more proactive doctor) as well as the progress of her NVP on her blog.

When I read her history, I read also that their first child, a boy, was tragically stillborn - so this has been a super-hard journey for this mother. HG plus a stillbirth, and now HG again. She could use encouragement and prayers as she continues her journey!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Of All Things Ecclesiastical

I'm not dead! Yes, really! Just busy. As always, I have at least ten mentally-written blog posts for each post that makes it to my blog. I hope that at some point in my life I'll have more time for writing! (Though I have the feeling that it won't be for a while.)

These past few months have been terrifically busy.... dealing with the life changes brought by our eldest starting AWANA and preschool, and also dealing with baby's health issues (doctors' appointments and therapy... and the endless lineup of paperwork and phone calls that fall to my lot).

Tomorrow is our first major medical procedure.... a brain MRI. Am I happy about it? Not really. It seems like a lot of modern medicine is simply flinging this and that test wildly about in hopes that one of them will show something... this test is a long shot, and I'm not that happy that we're putting baby through the fasting and the procedure on what seem to be pretty slim reasons. However, I'm much happier that it's the MRI than the dreaded reflux test, so I will focus on that and on just getting through the morning.

Here's an interesting question: The fasting procedures outlined for me by the scheduling office and the woman who called today to remind us of our appointment were completely different. One was breastmilk till 9a, clear liquids till 10a, and then NPO - the other was NPO after 8a. Which will I do? Not sure. They definitely have their wires crossed on that one.

As December arrives, I am reminded again that we have now been without a settled church home for nearly a year (a year on Christmas Eve). This is a facet of our life which I hope changes very soon! I do not, not, NOT like being without a regular church family.

However, at the same time, I don't want to jump the gun and settle down into something that wouldn't work longterm. So it's a double-headed problem.

That being said, though.... I want a church family! I am leaving the decision up to my husband as to which church we choose (though I'm making plenty of input!), but unfortunately he is just as confused as I am.

Right now it's between two churches, with a third one thrown into the mix from a new one that we visited last week.

Our visit to that church was extremely interesting, and I'd like to tell about it, briefly... But I know that this will make some people angry, so just let me say that I realize that in advance!

Okay. so... the church that I grew up in. I always enjoyed church, but I did not become a Christian (as far as I'm aware... I don't have a down-to-the-minute "became-a-Christian" date) until I was in college. At that point, I realized that a lot of what was going on in my church (denomination-wide - I have attended and worked in tens of churches in this denomination) was really unbiblical. As my awareness grew, I was, to be frank - absolutely horrified. I realize that the denomination came from Christian roots, with an absolutely amazing guy as founder, but at the present time I would qualify it as a denomination that has abandoned the Bible as any source of authority and is into some really horrible things. For example, the denomination is openly and strongly in support of abortion. (I checked my facts before I wrote that, so if anyone doesn't believe me, email me and I'll send you the link to the position paper on the church's official website.)

I realize that not all churches in this denomination may follow that lead, which is why I am specifically not naming it. However, as a rule, I believe that there are deep, deep problems.

Therefore, when I got married, I immediately dropped all association with the denomination, and DH and I looked for (and found!) a really excellent evangelical Bible church, and I have had almost no contact with the side of Christendom which bears any stylistic resemblance to the church of my childhood.

Thus, I was in a state of shock on Sunday, when we visited a church that - stylistically - was almost identical to my childhood church (though in a different denomination). But instead of being dead and anti-Bible, it was startlingly alive, and vibrant, and full of passion for Christ and for God's Word and for the sharing of the Gospel message. It was such a shock, and such a paradigm shift, that I couldn't quite wrap my mind around it. All day I thought, "But how.... and how.... and how... and how....?"

Of course, it's quite simple! Style doesn't dictate theology! But I had had the two wrapped up in my mind so tightly that it has been hard to let go of.

I am so glad to have seen this church.... I have really missed the cultural trappings of my childhood church, and it was lovely to see them in this new guise. I doubt that we'll stay there - it might be a bit of a jump for our family, especially for my husband, who grew up ultra-Pentecostal; plus we suspect that we will not agree with their position on infant baptism - but it was a beautiful church full of vibrantly believing and loving Christians, and it was great to see.

Enough said!

Speaking of church, I must say....

On Sunday, during the service, the pastor gave a really super-long prayer - the five-minutes-plus type. When it was over, there came piping through the sanctuary the voice of a young boy, clearly and for all to hear: "Daddy, that was a very long prayer!"

Sheesh. Some people's children.

Except that said child was ours! Talk about a blushing-fest! But a great family memory (in retrospect!).

Speaking of church-related things.....

I would like to offer my readership the following advice, which is not offered in levity or sarcasm, but in an honest wish to save my readers the embarrassment I suffered: Don't give Christmas cookies to Jehovah's Witnesses. Seriously - just don't. A bad idea!

This past week I delivered some - admittedly Christmas - cookies to our neighbors, who are of the Jehovah's Witness faith. They knew that we had been making Christmas cookies, but I figured that cookies by themselves (without Christmas decorations, Christmas notes, Christmas wishes, etc.) would be acceptable. The cookies appeared back on our doorstep the next morning, with an accompanying note. Apparently our poor neighbors were really insulted! So I nipped next door and apologized in person, and harmony has - hopefully! - been restored with some truly wonderful neighbors whom we really like.

But just in case you were wondering - Don't try it!

The next few days are going to be absolutely and wonderfully crazy! I am helping with a shower for a very special snowflake (embryo adoption) baby, and I am super-super excited - and it is going to be a HUGE shower! More than twice as big as any shower I've ever before attended. It is going to be absolutely lovely! 

Off to do a million chores before bed! I am going to try to get baby to eat a fourth late-night meal in order to fill him up a bit before the 4 a.m. solids cut-off. Wish us luck for tomorrow - I will be one glad woman when it is all over!