Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Our fallen soldiers

I received an email from a friend yesterday that I want to share. She is directly connected to the person who wrote this email, which makes it even more meaningful to me. It's not just "one of those stories" floating around on the internet- it's someone that I'm actually connected to. It's also close to my heart as I was raised in the military, and in fact, the friend that forwarded this was a friend of mine from way back when we were both in middle school together in The Netherlands- our fathers both Army officers at the time. Not only was my dad a career Army officer, but my husband went to college on an ROTC scholarship and then he spent 6 years on active duty while serving our country. My last post was about cancer and God's will, and today it's about death and our military- not light reading I know, but still so important to remember.

It has taken several days to digest my most recent experience here in Afghanistan and I wanted to share with you all what I saw in a recent Ramp Ceremony for one of our fallen Army Sergeants. It has left a lasting impact on me and my wish is that you share this with all you know to understand the Dignity and Honor in which our fallen soldiers are given as they leave the war zone and are returned to their loved ones at home.
We had four patients on our unit that were involved in a roadside bomb blast and their sergeant truck commander was killed on the scene. I had responsibility for taking care of these soldiers that night and was informed there was a Ramp Ceremony for their seargenat that night and they would like to attend. We put the four soldiers in wheelchairs and rolled them out to the flight line and onboard a C17 aircraft where their sergeant would be brought in his casket to be flown home. As the time came close for the ceremony to begin, about 300 soldiers from the US Army and the Canadian Army formed up in a line one side of the route in which the body would be brought to the C17. As I looked on from inside the plane with my patients, I saw the Flag drapped casket being driven to the end of that line of soldiers in the back of a Army MRAP. Once it stopped, eight soldiers took the casket from the back of this vehicle and began the 200 yard march to the plane we were on. As the casket passed the soldiers standing in formation they came to attention and slowly raised their arms to salute this sergeant as he was carried by. Half way to the plane the song Amazing Grace was played on bagpipes. As tears rolled down my face standing at attention I looked down at this sergeants comrades and they had tears as well. As the casket approached the ramp of this 200 foot cargo bay of the C17, Taps began to play and once again there were tears coming down all faces on that plane. As they enetered the plane, the ramp on the back of the plane was closed and the body came to rest right in front of us and was slowly lowered to the ground. The chaplain was there to say a prayer for the fallen soldier, his family, and his unit that was present on either side of the casket on that plane. Then 2 by 2 the soldiers came to the casket and slowly saluted their fallen soldier and then kneeled to say a prayer for him and then rose again to slowly salute to pay their last respects. The soldiers that we brought in wheelchairs to see thier friend off were the last to say goodbye and this was an emotional time for them as they were close to this sergeant. As I approached the Flag drapped casket with my patient, I was honored that even though I did not know this gentleman, I was able to Honor his memeroy through saluting him and being able to kneel at his casket and say a prayer for him and his family. Before exiting the plane we witnessed the escort that would be with the sergeant until he arrived at home with his family ensure there were no wrinkles in the flag that draapped the casket and that all personal affects left on the casket by heis fellow soldiers were bagged individually to be given to his family. As we took the soldiers back to the hospital, it was my honor to be able to sit and listen to them talk about their friend who had passed and give them comforting words as they dealth with this loss. The final act that I saw that struck me as phenominal was that that huge plane would have no other cargo onboard except the casket of this soldier as he was flown back to Germany. Wow what an awesome thing for this young man that gave it all for our FREEDOM to get his own ride out of country. It made me realize that in all the everyday nonsense that goes on in politics and our Nation, that we still give Honor and Dignity to those who give their all for the United States of America. I hope you will pass this story on to others so they may know that each and every soldier that lays his or her life on the line for us to get up and enjoy the freedoms we have are treated in this manner. This one event will forever change me and I hope it has an impact on you as well. I miss you all and will write again soon with pictures, but did not want to take away from the event that I experienced and the memory of this fallen soldier.


Monday, March 29, 2010

God is good

I was just about to turn off my computer and head outside with the boys when I saw that Kelly from Kelly's Korner had just recently posted. I decided to quickly check out her latest news, and I'm so happy that I did. I found something so powerful that I really wanted to share it with those of you that may not read Kelly's blog. Be prepared to be moved.... and grab some tissue.

The Story of Zac Smith from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

God is Good.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

One word..... MATTHEW!

Zack finally got his dream basketball hoop, and they came to start installing it on Friday. The first part of the process is to dig a hole, pore the cement, and set the foundation. Before the guys left, they told us that they couldn't stress enough to keep the kids off of the cement for at least 24 hours.

They don't know we have a child named MATTHEW.

They don't know what he's capable of.

And, apparently, neither does my husband.....

Note the left side of the cement. That's after Zack smoothed out the damage.
Yeah, Matthew was definitely here!

It happened when I had to leave for about an hour and Zack was in charge ;-) When I returned and found out what had happened, I started to let Zack have it, but I quickly changed my tune when I saw how bad he felt and he started saying things like I only turned my back for a minute and that kid needs a leash and I can't get anything done when I'm trying to watch him.

Yes, my dear, that's my life in a nutshell.

And now that you finally grasp what I go through on a daily basis......


Friday, March 26, 2010

5 Question Friday!!

Today, I'm so excited to join in with Mama M. and her fabuluos "Five Question Friday!" I have loved reading her responses to her five questions, and I always think I really need to participate next week......but then, of course, I forget! So, this week, not only did I remember, but I actually have a few minutes to type up a post-ya know, in between the guys putting in our basketball hoop, the guys doing the drywall, the guys fixing the heater, and the two little boys who demand constant attention ;-)

So, without further ado, here are the five questions:

1. Did you pass your driver's test on the first try?
~Sure did.... doesn't EVERYONE?!

2. What is your most embarrassing moment?
~Well, I have several, but one that I clearly remember that DIDN'T involve children and I can take FULL credit for (hee, hee) was when I was standing in line at Dairy Queen (one of the stores that only has an outside place to order), and Zack was waiting for me in the car, and I started to head over to ask him a question about his order and found myself face-down on the cement in front of the car!! Turns out that I had tripped over one of those HUGE (well, not really, but it makes me feel better) curbs that they put in parking lots so you can't pull forward anymore! And I went down HARD!!!!!!! I ended up with major road-rash and was very sore for several days ;-) But the worst part, of course, was that so many people were there to witness the event!!

3. What T.V. show would you like to be on: Oprah, Biggest Loser, or What NOT to Wear?
~This is easy...... although I really don't like Oprah's politics, I would have to choose her show due to the many issues I would love to shed some light on in my life..... anything from raising 8 children to having a 17 yr-old with endometriosis and migraines!! And also, I like to think that I don't NEED to go on Biggest Loser or What NOT to Wear ;-) Others in my family may think differently.......!!!!!

4. Would you ever have plastic surgery and what type?
~Yes, call me vain, but I would!! I would probably have a tummy-tuck...... after 8 children, things just don't go back to the places they belong, no matter how hard you exercise!!!!!!

5. What are your favorite jeans to wear?
~Any jeans that make me look like I don't need a tummy tuck..... or a butt-lift for THAT matter ;-)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring is in the air...

Before I begin, I want to wish my sister a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! She is currently living in Germany with her husband and daughter, and I haven't seen her in over a year, but she will be here in about 3 weeks!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!! We are counting the days Katie!

Well, it's shaping up to be a busy spring! And we all know that this spring, we will have a new addition at our house- well, several new additions I guess, but ONE of them will be a bit more exciting than the others!!! Anyway, that means we need to add more stuff- like baby furniture! Zack just picked up all the new baby furniture.....

And it's sitting in the garage, along with the t.v. that will eventually hang in the new addition to our hearthroom. Our garage is a bit crowded, which is kind of a pain with the nice weather that spring is bringing....
But it's only temporary.......right?!

And since it's spring, how about a little spring cleaning.....
Well, that's not REALLY what we're doing! Actually, Zack and I spent an evening moving furniture, covering couches and hanging plastic in preparation for the drywall guys that will be here this morning! The main level and basement will be more dusty than ever, but we're ready! Here's what's left of my dining room....
And this is how the formal living room looked after we moved all the furniture on the main level into it and started covering couches....
This is how the hearth room will look for a while! Kind of a pain since we spend so much time in this area, but it will be sooooo much better when it's all done and yet another of our other new additions is complete!!
After we moved all the furniture into the formal living room, Zack hung plastic to seal off the area- it will be interesting to see just how much dust we can keep out with our clever technique ;-)
Actually, this is a great way to really give everything a good cleaning- we are moving things that haven't been moved in a long time! And, since this is the longest we've ever been in one house (3 years this summer), that's a good thing!
And here's the basement! It's really gonna be a mess because there's so much to do down there!
And also with spring comes.......
PROM!!! Allie was asked, in a very fun way, to prom by her boyfriend (of over a year now) Jake....
Jake's siblings gave her a balloon bouquet and a note that said "start popping".....
And as she popped the balloons, little notes fell from each one! And, when put all together, they invited her to prom.....
And then Jake, the guy behind the clever invite, popped out from behind the house with a bouquet of roses for Miss Allie....
Allie already has her dress, but she was pretty sure she would be getting an invite! Prom is April 11th, so be sure to check back for pictures- her dress is very sophisticated this year ;-)

Well, the boys are going crazy since the main level and basement are off-limits for a few days and we are stuck in my room! Unfortunately, the spring weather has brought us spring showers, so it looks like we're headed to Target for a while to escape our surroundings ;-)

Oops, no I'm not going anywhere! I just remembered that we are having a new basketball hoop installed today and I have to be here from 11-3! They were supposed to come yesterday, but didn't make it due to the weather- hope they come today! Zack is out of town again, and tonight Sophie has lacrosse practice and then an orchestra concert immediately following practice, so it's shaping up to be a crazy day around here!

But before I sign off, I want to add that I am now a proud member of the FACEBOOK community..... Yep, Allie finally said her old mom could join ;-) And while there is an obvious learning curve, I WILL get it figured out eventually and hope to get a badge on my blog to link over to FB. As I told a good friend this morning.......... it's just one more thing I will now have to feel guilty about not keeping up with ;-)

Oh yeah, one more thing I forgot to add (what a weird post this is turning into!!).... had my weekly sonogram yesterday and baby looked PERFECT! Fluid levels were good, baby was breathing and moving, heart-rate was perfect, head was down, and he was facing backward..... PLEASE God, let him stay that way ;-) Anyway, they also did a growth scan, and he was still measuring a little big- about 5 and a half lbs. If he continues to gain the standard half lb per week, he will be about 8.5-9lbs at 40 weeks! Sooooo, I'm not sure what I'll do, but I'm still willing to play it by ear at this point- only inducing if my blood pressure and swelling become an issue (as with Mr. Matthew!).

Ok, one FINAL thing (have to put this cuz it's so darn cute!)- Jacob has discovered the word "really." He uses it for emphasis. In other words, instead of saying that truck is really big, he says that truck is really REALLY! He just leaves out the word "big" and inserts an extra "really." So, whenever I hear "really" more than once, I know he's talking about something he's impressed with!!! There's nothing better in life than children, is there?!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Freakin' out...

Nope, I'm not freakin' out cuz my house still looks like this....

And I'm not freakin' out cuz there's about an inch of dust on every surface of my house....
(I wiped some off so you could see for the difference for yourself!)

And I'm not freakin' out cuz my belly looks like this....

Or because my feet are swelling so much that I was wearing flip flops in the snow. Or because my hands are so swollen I can no longer wear my wedding rings. Or because I have no clothes left to wear. Or because I have company coming (mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, niece) in less than 3 weeks and my house will not be done. Or because we still have to drywall, trim, paint, and recarpet the entire house. Or because we have to re-seed the lawn where the construction trucks tore it up. Or because Zack still has to turn the whole fence around so it's facing the "right" direction.

Oh yeah, and I'm not freakin' out because the dreaded healthcare reform act just passed and our country is doomed.....

Nope, not me!

I am, however, freakin' out over some really great stuff I picked up at the mall over the weekend- ya know, the first day of spring when we had a freak snowstorm that dumped over 4 inches of snow on us when JUST the day before it was in the mid-60's and we all got sunburned..... otherwise known as Saturday! Check this out....

I am super excited to get started reading this one! I'm waiting for my husband, who is hogging it, to get finished so that I can dig in! Since I've completely fallen behind in my bible reading, I am looking forward to getting back on track, and this is better than nothing ;-) I've already cheated and read so many chunks out of the middle, that I know it's gonna be so helpful to me in my marriage, and I can already HIGHLY recommend it to you all- check it out!

AND I'm freakin' out about a new store I found in the mall.... anyone ever heard of Crazy 8's?! It's a store that's new to our mall, but I'm not sure how long it's been around. It's like Old Navy is to Gap, but its "parent store" is Gymboree.... and it's fabulous!!!!!!

We were on our way out of the mall when I spotted it and decided to run in for a quick look-see. Yeah, right! 45 minutes later, we finally headed out the door with all this cute loot....

When all was said and done, I ended up with 12 new t-shirts, 3 pairs of shorts, an outfit for baby #8, and a pair of pirate p.j.s for Mr. Matthew- there's nothing like trying to clothe 5 boys ;-) And all for about $130 after tax!!! When I first walked in, the gal at the front handed me a 25% off coupon and told me it was good for that day and on my entire purchase.... no strings! WOW!!! And not only did I get the 25% off, but the regular prices were great to begin with- waaaaaay better than Gymboree. And, personally, I thought the stuff in this new store was cuter than Gymboree (of which I have never been a big fan).

But, the best part was that they have the same program that Gymboree has- instead of Gymbucks you get Crazybucks! And based on my purchase this past weekend, I now have $60 worth of Crazybucks to spend in early April- WOO HOO!!!! (In case you're not familiar with this program, you have to buy $120 worth of clothes, but you actually only pay $60 when you check out... and it varies based on the amount of "bucks" you have acrued.)

So, if you have kids wearing clothes sized newborn to 14, be sure you check this store out! It's a great alternative to Old Navy!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Anyone want to come clean my house?
Ya know, the house that we were stupid enough to clean this past weekend!
Yeah, that house!
Actually, it's already cleaned up.....
Well, sort of! After Zack spent about 3 hours sweeping and cleaning and mopping last night, it was pretty clean (and don't feel too bad for him- I was holed up in my bedroom with all 7 kids while he was cleaning..... in peace!). Anyway, by the time we got up this morning, there was yet another fine layer of dust coating EVERYTHING!!!! And the contractor tells us that it will continue to settle- yippee!!!!!
So, here's our new addition- the room that was an outdoor room is now part of our hearth room! We had them arch the wall....
...and there will be an arch over the now open doorway that used to be the back door......
Zack took the plastic down in the basement, so you can kind of get an idea of what we've got goin' on with Emily's new room......
Her room will have two "sections"- one is part of the existing basement and it will be her "sitting area"- the other section used to be our outdoor patio and it will be where her bed, dresser, etc will go.....
I can't wait to decorate......
This is the section where her bed will be- one of the walls is angled...
And here's what we were doing last night while Zack was cleaning.....
Please note that the heads are UPSIDE DOWN.....
Noah's idea!
Today the weather was slightly crappy! I know, I know.... I used the "C" word.... shhhhh, dont' tell my kids! Anyway, we had several doctor's appts- one of them resulting in this......
NO MORE WALKING BOOT!!!!!! Emily's second foot is now complete!!!!!!

But before we saw Em's surgeon, we hit the mall and got Allie a prom dress! I'm gonna wait to show it to you until prom in early April, but it's gorgeous and very, very grown up- completely different than what she wore last year!!!!!!!

Oh, and Sophie had her first 6-week orthodontic check-up.... changed her rubber band color to green- maybe St. Patty's Day inspired her?!

The other appt. was my OB- everything looked good, but baby Caleb is measuring BIG! Next week, I am scheduled for a growth scan (which will tell us his weight within 4oz), so we shall see......!

Tomorrow is supposed to be mid-60's and sunny- whoopee!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kids and construction...

I'm sitting in my room, hoping the floor won't drop out from under me as I listen to my house being ripped apart.... literally! Right now, the framers are in the process of removing the huge window that divides the hearthroom from our outdoor lanai- soon, very soon, they will be ONE room!

Emily just said to me "why did you bother to clean house this weekend?" Truly, I do not know. The dust that is rapidly accumulating on the kitchen counters is more than I ever would have imagined....honey, can we eat out tonight..... again?!

Anyway, here's what's been done to our basement- just in case you're trying to keep up with this craziness....

You're looking at Emily's new room, or part of it anyway. That's the part of the basement that we are converting to make a new home for Miss Em. The window that was part of that wall has been pushed out to the new wall that is now framing what used to be part of our patio. And here is Emily's new closet....
A nice big walk-in closet! Here's another shot of the window that they took out....
And here's an outside shot of the exterior walls that have been added to make the rest of Emily's room. It's a little hard to tell what exactly has been done, but once we get the plastic down, it will be easier to see....
And here's the mucky mess that we like to call our backyard.....
Oh me oh my.....!!!! And here's one more shot of Emily's new room with the window. Her room sits right below the lanai, which is where they are working right now.....
So, here's how our hearth-room looked this morning. That window that you see between the hearth-room and the lanai will be gone next time you see this room. That's the window they're taking out as I type this!! Stay tuned for more pictures tomorrow.....
Well, I'm sure I'm boring everyone to death with all this construction talk, so here's something a little more fun.....
Yep, as my dear friend pointed out yesterday.....Matthew has survived long enough to ring in age 4!!!!!!!!!
And I got to have birthday cake with NO GUILT! Won't be able to say that in a few more weeks ;-)
But Matthew had a great day- despite the fact that we spent most of it out of the house to avoid the construction! Now....if we can JUST get him to age 5.......!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We also spent a good portion of the day out of the house today- and I'm ready to leave again.... right now!!!!!

Today, I had my weekly bio appointment to check on the baby- all looked great and the best news of all is that baby #8 has flipped and is finally head down..... ready for delivery ;-) Yay!!!

Allie had an appointment as well today, and tomorrow we have 3 more appointments, ranging from my normal OBG appt to Sophie's orthodontics appt to Emily's appt (she's hoping to get permission to quit wearing her walking boot and start wearing a normal shoe!)- what a way to spend spring break, right?!

Thursday, we have 2 more appts, but the weather is supposed to be gorgeous (mid 60's), so I'm hoping to get the kids outside for a few hours!

I honestly think the kids will be happy to get back to school next week........!!!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Still here....

I received an email today from someone who reads my blog, wondering if maybe I had already gone into labor and had the baby....oops! Guess it's been a while since I posted to my blog, huh?!?!

Well, here's to show you that I'm still around and still VERY PREGNANT.......

33 weeks to be exact!!!

Yes, it's been almost been a week since I've posted, but I assure you that everything is fine! Zack was out of town last week on a business trip and the kids started spring break on Wednesday (and still have all of this coming week off!), and life has just been very hectic for the Gang ;-) I'm still going in for lots of doctor appointments, getting ready for Matthew's birthday tomorrow, and just trying to keep up with all the stuff that a family of 9 brings!

Not that I'm complaining.... in fact, I'm actually VERY happy for all the chaos because it keeps my mind off the fact that I still have at least 6 weeks to go before baby ;-)

But, I am packed and ready to go to the hospital, should Baby #8 come a little before his time!!

And, the construction on the house is moving right along- so exciting! We will have framers here this week to start on the new walls, and things will really begin to take shape! We even went and purchased the furniture for the nursery today- movin' right along!!!!

So, I promise to get back to posting as often as possible- it's certainly not that I don't have anything to say!!!! I also miss reading my favorite blogs- hope to do some catchin' up tomorrow, but, then again, it's Matthew's birthday, so, who knows......

Hope everyone is well!!!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Our new family member!

The kids just spent the last hour looking at pictures of children from Kenya that need to be sponsored- heartbreaking. And today, the same day that Layla Grace went to heaven, it seemed to be just the right thing to do. Mckmama's post about the slums she visited really hit home yesterday, and this is one of the best decisions we've made in a long time when it comes to spending our money!! Here's the email we received as soon as we signed up to sponsor our little guy.... welcome to our crazy family Byron!!!

Dear Jenny-

Thank you for requesting a child sponsorship packet for:
- Byron Otieno from Kenya

You should receive 1 child sponsorship packet introducing you to your sponsored child--and to Compassion--within 15 days. Inside, you'll find everything you need to begin your sponsorship, including a profile and picture of your sponsored child, a correspondence starter kit with stationery and tips to help you make the most of your letter writing, and an overview of our ministry.

Your love, prayers and support will make a wonderful difference in your sponsored child's life. The child you have selected has been anxiously waiting for a sponsor and will be excited to know your name and receive a letter from you.

Once you receive your child packet, it will contain your sponsor number. Using your sponsor number, you can access your account online where you can and send an email letter to your child, learn more about your child's country and much more.

Be sure to check out Compassion's blog for an insider's perspective on what life in poverty is like for your sponsored child. Compassion's blog is our way to get you the most recent & powerful stories while giving you a more personal look into poverty. You will also be able to engage with other sponsors and read updates from around the world.

We encourage you to pray for and write to your child regularly. Children in poverty are susceptible to believing poverty's darkest message: "You don't matter." Your prayers and letters help your child know that they matter to at least one adult -- you!

Again, thank you for releasing a child from poverty in Jesus' name!


Mark Hanlon
Senior Vice President, USA
Releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name

Hope more of you will join us and sponsor a child from Kenya!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

I couldn't watch...

This is how the back patio looked this morning (this will be Emily's new room)...

There were 3 machines in the backyard....
And ONE in the front!!! When I heard this one was coming, I hightailed it outta here!!!
They couldn't pour the footing for the new foundation from the backyard- they couldn't get the truck back there- so, instead, they parked it on our front lawn and literally raised the arm up over the roof of the house so they could pour the cement into the hole in the back! Needless to say.....
I couldn't watch ;-) So, before the truck even made its way into the neighborhood, I took off and went shopping! Allie actually came home and took these pictures for me while I was gone ;-) In the end, it wasn't too bad, and the dents that were left in the front lawn were much less than I expected! I TRULY did not know what this project was going to entail, but I just keep focusing on the end result!

On another subject, Matthew was a complete terror today and did one thing after another to drive his poor, hormonal mother up the wall!!! But, I have my vices, and there's nothing like an episode of The Backyardigans to tame even the biggest beast.....
Thankfully, these two are now fast asleep, and I'm headed that way very soon! The next 3 days Zack will be out of town, so I'm in for a looooooooooong week- wish me luck!!!!!!


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