Recasting, Ruminating and Retail Rewards

After each baby I spend a weekend recasting to find my equilibrium appetite and eventually over several months, my most comfortable weight.  Well, with a season of sickness in the Price home this has been put off longer than normal. So this week as my back continues to heal, I decided to re-read French Women Don’t Get Fat, which outlines the “magical” weekend and the French lifestyle that I aspire to.  This is my third time reading the book, but since I loaned it out a couple years ago it has been missing.  I purchased the Kindle edition, and let me tell you that was not a waste.  It is awesome to be able to click on a reference to a recipe and not have to thumb through an index and leaf through pages to find it.  Way to go Amazon!

Anyhow, whether it is due to illness (hopefully we’re at the end of it, with Matt now on antibiotics and Nicholas finishing up his second round of them), or our indecisiveness about whether or not our family is complete with five members, or my awesome girls’ night out this week, or all my friends who have not only brought dinner but sweets as I and my family recooperate — whatever the case, I’ve put off the recasting long enough.  However, since I still provide Nicholas’ main source of nutrition, I can’t go all out and do the magical leek soup.  Instead, I will be trying the mimosa soup and Matt and I will restart P90X on Monday (note: such strenuous workout is not French, but Matt needs relationship with workout and I feel so good when I exert myself daily).

This has been a week of questions for our family, some humorous, some weighty.  Why on earth did Lucas pretend he couldn’t read his high frequency words? Well, his friends “bees” were still on “flower one”, and he wanted his bee to be there too, instead of on flower 4’s petal.  I am told I will laugh about this someday, but even now it is frustrating for this former teacher.  How do we live well, save, provide and thrive in pricey Los Angeles?  Do we need to reevaluate where our “treasure” is?  Perhaps owning a home is not the end all … And then the question that I keep asking, why (especially when living in L.A) do I most often desire another child?  I don’t know.  This year and especially the past couple months have been difficult, but the longing, never abating, is at the back of my consciousness.  Silly and serious questions abound, but one thing I do know, I LOVE where God has placed us.  I am grateful for the ministry opportunities, friendships, home, and church. 

One last thing … I have made it to the end of the budget challenge. Dum de de dum … This week I spent $12.96 at Target and $32 at Ralphs (saving over $60 on that trip).  This brings my grocery total to $321.43 for the entire month … $53.57 under my goal and $138.57 under our normal grocery, cleaning and toiletry budget.  So for those who doubt the value of couponing, come over and see my little dance of joy and be convinced of its merits.  Woot, woot!

ER Ebenezer

Well, early Friday morning I had quite the scare.  Bethany (our middle child, feisty daughter) had woken up with a fever and was laying in our bed, as was our youngest who has been suffering from asthmatic coughing spells.  Trying to end this cycle of sickness, now in its seventh week, I asked Matt to take Bethany back to her bed, because even though I wish I could comfort both baby and Beth at the same time, I did not want whatever the cause of the fever was to spread to Nicholas.  I lay awake in bed, praying for peace for their bodies, praying for wisdom on how to begin yet another round of sickness, when I myself am exhausted.  My back had been hurting the day before, and I was having trouble getting comfortable so I got up and took three advil and got a little middle of the night snack, because sometimes ibuprofen upsets my stomach.

I must have just dozed off around 3:40, when Nicholas whimpered in his sleep and began coughing.  I reached over to elevate his head and experienced excruciating pain.  I screamed and yelled for Matt who had apparently fallen asleep while settling Beth down.  When he came I couldn’t move and he began to help me get out of bed, saying he was going to take me to the emergency room.  It took 10-15 minutes to get out of bed.  I stood, as close to paralyzed as you can be while standing in the living room, as Matt called friends to find someone to come stay with the kids.  When my dear friend, Johanna arrived I began giving information about the kids, medications, school, etc. as best I could and then Matt asked me if we could head to the car.  I moved a little, and some of what transpired over the next several moments I remember.

Johanna told Matt that I didn’t look good; that my color was draining from my face.
Matt was asking me questions that I could kind of hear, but not really.
I was in more pain than I had experienced during my three labors and deliveries (that’s saying something especially since I didn’t have epidurals).
The room began to close in on me and got really narrow and shiny (I know that sounds crazy, which is why I began to believe I was in the process of dying from who knows what.)
Matt called 911 and his conversation seemed to last a long time.
I kept saying “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe …” but honestly I don’t know if that was audible because Matt never repeated it.
The pain continued.
I continued to believe I was dying and told Lucas and Nicholas how much I love them and was thinking about how I wished Bethany was awake so she would know too.
I was bargaining with God about how I know I rarely slow down and take things and people for granted, but if he would just take the pain away I would slow down.
The pain worsened
When Matt got off the phone I felt nauseous and asked him to get me a bucket or something (again I couldn’t move).
Matt came in and I was able to hold it together until a pitcher arrived.
I then got sick and collapsed on the floor, which was the first bit of relief I had since the whole episode began.
When the paramedics came I had to be lifted onto the gurney by four men in order to keep my back as still as possible and me in as little pain as they could. (side note: the firemen in Eagle Rock are awesome!)

Now, I admit I did hyperventilate in my labor with Nicholas, but this was different.  Maybe an anxiety attack?  I’m not sure.  All I know is I am here to write this so obviously my suspicions of dying were inaccurate (hey, I’ve been told I’m dramatic my whole life, and I guess that doesn’t end during what you think is a near death experience).

One of the hardest things about the experience was that the last time I was at this particular hospital was during my miscarriage.  After several hours of waiting to be seen by a doctor, I was taken right past room 5 in the ER of Huntington Hospital; the room where I was told that our third baby was gone.  I’ve had mixed feelings about driving past said hospital several times, but being right there was something else.  In the next several hours of my time in the ER, I experienced more than tremendous pain and interesting guesses as to what caused my immobility and discomfort.  I experienced sadness because of memories of March 21, 2009, but I also experienced great peace accompanied by confidence in the God I serve.

See if anyone had told me on that day nearly two years ago that I would live through the pain of losing a child, I wouldn’t have believed them.  If I could have seen into the future, and witnessed myself loving life I would have been dumbfounded at the possibility.  Again, if I had been told that God would bring Nicholas (victory) and that I would praise (Judah) him because of it; if I had known I would ever love a child so much and be able to love the two I already had without continuing to wonder why I can’t tangibly express the same love to a child I’d never held, I would have balked at the idea.  Although the care I received at the hospital on Friday still leaves me with questions as I continue to have immense pain, I think God had another reason for bringing me back there.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites would set up ebenezers or remembrances when God brought them through trials, and when future generations encountered the ebenezer they would remember and be encouraged.  Like I said, I don’t know why I am having this issue with my back.  I don’t know why I am unable to care for my own children and home because of it, but one thing I do know is God will not forsake me.  He is trying to teach me something and he’s got me as still as I can be during this learning process.

It’s part of who I am to question.  In my character is it to sometimes feel alone (even when I’m not).  I find it unavoidable to attempt to do it all.  I am a persistent achiever whether I can get everything done I want to or not.  So having to leave my children Friday morning was tough.  I had to trust that my friend had it under control and wouldn’t judge my messy house (when the paramedics moved the recliner to get me, I saw what needed to be swept).  I had to let others do for me, to get Lucas off to school, Bethany moving throughout the day without worrying about her mom, Nicholas fed (even though he wouldn’t take a bottle).  All the while I was laying in the emergency room, being ministered to by a God of grace, who knew there would be pain while laying in an all too familiar room; who understood that I had been questioning my worthiness to be called friend; who gets that it’s hard for me to depend on anyone; who absolutely knows that in this season of health trials at the Price house I had been doubting our location so far from family.

Into such a mind diseased with doubt, he granted answers to questions and reassurance of his plan, even though I can only see through a glass dimly.  The diagnosis on my back is yet to come, but the resolution to my mind’s wanderings, granted.

So thank you to our friends and family who called and texted.
To Johanna for giving up time with your kids and husband in the middle of the night to care for mine.
To Jeff for being willing to take care of your family’s morning routine without Johanna and for running out to get formula, just in case.
To Grace and Albert who took Lucas to school and watched Lucas and Bethany in the afternoon.
For Stacia who came up with other child care possibilities just in case.
For Tom being the kind of pastor I wish every other pastor could work under (in many little and big ways over the past 8 years, God has used you to restore my faith in church)
For Allison, Mary Robin, Johanna, Nikki and Robin for always being willing to lift me up in prayer.
Again for Mary Robin, for the amazing lunch in the hospital, arranging for meals to be brought, offering to have the kids come play and much more
Again for Allison, for the amazing meal on Friday night and knowing me well enough to minister to my sweet tooth as well.
For Nikki knowing that I have a hard time sitting still but love to read … my sweet gift from Nikki kindle has kept me in my bed or chair for the last couple of days.
For Scott and Esther, who brought an amazing meal even though your home hasn’t been filled with wellness either … still praying friends.
For the many friends on Facebook who have sent words of encouragement and have prayed.
For my parents and their prayer chain
For my father-in-law who willingly sent my mother-in-law out to be all I can’t be right now.
For my mother-in-law who has done and is doing more than I could list here and for being the mother-in-law every girl hopes they will have. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
For those friends who are bringing meals and continue to pray.

I am amazed at His goodness to me (and us) through you.

Budget Challenge Update and this week’s meals

So ending the first week of the budget challenge I spent a total of $90.50 (I deducted the diapers and wipes, since they are not included in the contest guidelines).  One thing I noticed that I love about the competitive nature of the challenge is that, our refrigerator isn’t stuffed with leftovers that need to be eaten or will soon be wasted.  Because of all the sickness in our home, there were two nights this week when I just couldn’t cook.  It was more important to be what my kids needed me to be, rather than feed them what I had planned.  So, one night we ate leftovers, and the other we went out which was a nice break for me, especially since date night had to be canceled due to illness and last night I threw together an “I’m tired and you’re sick meal.  This is quick and easy and will have to do.”

I have already done my grocery shopping for this coming week and although my savings aren’t as great as I would have hoped, I stocked up on several things that were great prices, which will in turn result in lower grocery bills over the coming months.  For the coming week I spent $85 at Vons (for $170 worth of groceries) and then returned to Vons to stock up on toilet paper and laundry detergent, spending $28 (and saving $11).  My total for this week is $113.  I will need to pick up some bread and lettuce today, bringing my total up to $117.50 (unless there’s a sale) That means for the next two weeks, I have $167 left to spend.  I think that’s doable.  The hardest part about this business is that I don’t have the “stockpiles” of other couponers, and I love food, and healthy food at that (with of course the occasional splurge on goodies).  Good, healthy food is not cheap.

You’ll notice a couple of repeat meals from last week.  Those would be the meals that we never got around to.  And now for our meal plan:

Sunday: Red Beans and rice with turkey sausage and sweet cornbread
** If all goes well (meaning kids aren’t too sick to let me cook, we’ll have some potato skins, Texas Trash and cookies during the game)
Monday: Lemon Skillet Chicken and warm green bean, tomato and feta salad
Tuesday: Salmon baked with garlic, lemon and white wine served with broccoli
Wednesday:Chuck wagon chili with sour cream and cheese (and fritos … for the kids!)
Thursday: leftovers for the kids … hoping date night will be back on!
Friday: Jerk Chicken legs, roasted cauliflower and baked sweet potato fries
Saturday: Spicy Asian shrimp served over rice with peas

p.s I will attempt to post some pictures of Matt’s birthday meal.  The tomato gratin was divine and super easy and the Bavarian Apple Torte has always been one of my favorite desserts.

On Fatigue and Faith

It’s 4 am and I am sitting in the rocking chair, listening to the mostly rhythmic breathing of my sleeping baby.  Tears stream down my face involuntarily.  My body knows how exhausted I am, and responds without my permission.  I guess tears are a natural part of motherhood, and even when I try to be strong they sometimes force their way out, whether the emotions are on the surface or not.  My heart and body are in sync even when my brain is too tired to feel the strain of six weeks caring for sick children and husband while being sick.

As Nicholas’ breathing pattern changes, I wait for the next fit of coughs to rack his body.  This time it doesn’t come and I am thankful that he seems to have found some level of comfort at last in my arms.  In my bed lays my sweet girl, who had a bad dream and needed Mommy and Daddy.  On my floor lays my precious Lucas whose fever seems to have come down temporarily although his ear is causing him great pain.  On the other side of the house, Matt seems to have found respite in the kids’ room from the inhalers, aspirator, thermometers, crying, coughing, gasping that have dominated our nights for weeks on end.  I am glad for his sleep.  I am overjoyed to be awake …

And that’s what no one prepares you for as you consider entering motherhood, because although many speak of countless nights of sleep training, feedings, diaper explosions, wet beds, fevers (the list goes on and on), there is not another who has mothered your own children, and therefore no one can describe how you will forgo sleep joyfully and sometimes fearfully, doing your darnedest to trust that you can see these little lives through the night.  From the time that tiny, writhing, screaming, beautiful, precious life is placed in your care, through the first night of their lives, when you just stare at them in that hospital cradle, because seriously has there ever been something more amazing created, to the many nights when you just don’t know what to do to help them, all the while knowing that they are trusting you to do just that, your life is changed forever for the better.  That’s one of the many paradoxes on this journey … the trust and the fear that gives way to breath prayers.

Calm his body …

Cradle her in your arms …

Clear his airways …

Comfort her heart …

Bring healing …

Peace …

Help me, help them … 

Knowing that there is so little you can do in your own strength to be what he needs, it is second nature to want, no to need help and so often in the middle of the night mom is all they’ve got, and where mom has her trust rooted is all they need, and for this mom that must be enough.

Over the past six weeks there have been moments when I’ve longed to live closer to family.  I should be grateful that all we’re dealing with is sinus and ear infections, asthmatic coughing, high fevers, teething, lack of appetite, lethargy.  I am so thankful that we’re never given more than we can bear, but as I’ve had less than an hour of uninterrupted sleep at a time for seven weeks, and I’m hoping to fuel my body’s energy on less than sixteen hours total sleep this week, there is a huge, human part of me that is homesick.

In times like these, were I not confident in the calling and the one who’s called, I would beg to move closer to family; home.  But we’re not the first that have lived isolated from blood relatives and we are not the last that will survive it.  That’s the problem though.  I feel like I am just barely surviving and I so want to thrive. I want it for my children and so when I can’t thrive, I will walk on.

This morning I joyfully rock my Nicholas, holding his body upright, hoping that this position will encourage clearer airways, resulting in less fitful sleep.  My breath prayers are of gratitude and hopes to be filled with less of my tired, cranky self and with more of the selflessness and grace to which I, as mother, am called.

Grateful

So many times I forget to think of everything good in my life.  While I’m busy focusing on what I’d like to change or how I wish the day had gone differently I lose sight of what really matters, and between you and me, I have been richly blessed.

Today was one of those days filled with moments far beneath stellar motherhood.  Nicholas felt warm when I woke up, but I assumed it was because I fell asleep nursing him and had covered us both up with blankets and comforter and I was wearing flannel pajamas.  I got the kids ready for school, quickly showered, fed the kids, packed backpacks, and out the door we went.  I was excited to have coffee with the girls, as my heart has been lonesome for my friends.

Nicholas seemed to be fussy during coffee, but I figured it was due to his lack of a good morning nap, but he still felt warm.  I ran an errand while waiting for Bethany to finish her morning at preschool and came home.  When I took Nicholas out of the car seat I decided to take his temperature.  It was 103 degrees, and immediately I felt like a horrible mother.  The day seemed to go downhill from there.

Nicholas was only comfortable while nursing or sleeping in my arms …
Lucas had a slight incident at school …
Bethany gave way to a tantrum …
I fell asleep while holding the baby …
Kids wanted to do the dishes but soaked their clothes and the floor …
Kids wanted to help make Daddy’s birthday cake, but Nicholas wanted to be held …
Kids had a bath and got water all over the bathroom floor …
I started cutting vegetables for dinner, but Nicholas wanted to be held …
Matt came home late from work …
Kids watched too much t.v …
Nicholas crawled off the edge of our bed resulting in a bloody nose …
Kids needed mom to comfort them to sleep …
I just finished the dishes from the dinner that never got made …
When I looked in the mirror a few hours ago, I looked as exhausted as I feel after being sick or caring for sick people for nearly six weeks …
My house is a disaster area because Nicholas wants to be held …

It is easier to focus on the low points of the day, but as I held Nicholas with a bloody nose, I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude come over me.  I have three precious children and a husband, and while the home may be a mess tonight, it is filled with love.

Tonight I am grateful because when my baby is sick I have the means to comfort him, my arms love being filled with his fevered body …
Lucas is learning from his mistakes the correct way to handle himself at school …
Bethany’s tantrums are teaching moments, and as her preschool teacher declared at this young age of four “Bethany loves the Lord!”
I fell asleep while holding the baby — pure peace …
The kids helped with the dishes …
I can bake the cake tomorrow …
I have a bathtub to clean the kids in …
Vegetables are cut for another meal this week …
Matt has a job to come home late from …
I got to hold all three kids while watching a movie …
Nicholas only had a bloody nose, God protected him from further injury and I have a great nurse friend who was willing to come over and set my mind at ease about the fall and Nicholas’ well being …
I got to rub the backs of my sweet kiddos and soothe them off to sleep, and that’s ok because this is just a season where they need to be reassured of my love for them and my desire to be with them …
There were great leftovers in the fridge so I didn’t have to cook, and I got the dishes done, albeit late in the evening …
I may be exhausted, but I have a bed to rest in and I’m about to head there now …
My house is a disaster area, but I haven’t become anxious about it.  There will always be messes, but the days of truly being needed and wanted by your children are few and I am glad to forgo the chores to be what they need …

Tonight I am exhausted, but truly grateful.