Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve's Vulnerabilities

Many are posting beautiful meditations on the Christmas story today. Go here to read about 'humbling holidays', here to 'wonder', and here to read about an 'incarnation conversation'. I am grateful for my articulate friends who can turn their meditations into poem or prose from which we can all benefit.

Today, I am finding myself surprisingly vulnerable to temptation. Though I realize I shouldn't be surprised by temptation as my flesh never takes a vacation nor does the enemy of my soul. I guess functionally I did assume I could be carried by the joy of having friends and family near, the anticipation of good food, opening presents and reading the familiar passage in Luke 2 and not have to purpose to depend on Christ, the One we do all this for (right?!). But, I find myself early on in the day on Christmas Eve particularly vulnerable and needing to run to my only Hope...Jesus...thank you for being tempted in every way and yet never sinning. Thank you for enduring this sin sick world and ultimately the cross where you suffered the full wrath of your Father, now my God, with whom you only knew perfect harmony. Thank you for defeating death so that I would one day know eternal life. And thank you, today, for the day you initiated all of this and more: the day of your birth.

Today, I will prepare a turkey and stuffing for my family to eat, tidy up my kitchen, try to set a nice table, bring in fresh pine from outside for a lovely fragrance, address Christmas cards and pack to travel to PA to see more family tomorrow. I want to do it all as a sacrifice to you, Jesus. I want to do it all remembering for whom I do it. I want to do it all depending entirely on your grace and not my self effort.

One day we will not make anymore Christmas dinners, address anymore Christmas cards. No more treking out to the Christmas tree farm for the beloved Christmas tree. No more drives to see Christmas lights. No more Cantatas or Live Nativities to drag the kids to see. We will one day do no more of these things because we will be face to face with the One for whom we do all these things. My dad, 4 grandparents, precious Livi and others are just watching us in all our activity as they enjoy Christ Himself. Thank you, Lord, that one day I'll join them. Help me to honor You today with that hope of tomorrow.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cast of Characters

In our family Christmas pagaent that we're apparently having this year, Judah declared this morning the following cast of characters:

"Mom can be Mary. Papi can be Joseph. Bella will be the angel; Tucker, the shepherd, and I will be Baby Jesus."

Me: "You will be Baby Jesus!"

Judah: "Yeah, I will be Baby Jesus because I suck my thumb."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

As we look back on 2008, we often felt we were in the midst of a storm which came in many forms: late hours for Lawrence at work, 3 crying kids all at the same time while the phone rings and dinner burns, extended family issues to work through, health problems, the nature of friendships change, etc. But, God was and is teaching us how to sleep in the storm… not to be irresponsible, but rather fearless, knowing it is our good God who orchestrates the storms and promises to provide peace in the midst of those storms. It is armed with that mentality that we rejoice this Christmas and celebrate the birth of Jesus, the One who was born to die so that we could know Immanuel, God with us, through whatever storm we may face in 2009!

May God bless you with the same peace which is found in Jesus.

Lawrence, Briana, Judah, Tucker and Isabela

The Holiday Bulge

Apparently the statistic is that Americans will gain 5-7 pounds between Thanksgiving to Christmas. I haven't reached that statistic yet, but I think I must have gained some weight per my sons' recent observations.

Judah: (Playing with my belly, which to a 4 year old probably feels much like a bowl of jello) "Mom, you ate too many desserts."

Yes, Judah, yes, I do.

a week or more later,
Tucker: "Mom, your belly popped out.

From the mouths of 'babes'. :)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Search and Win

Check this out. I just registered with something called "Swagbucks", a search engine site. One earns points for doing searches just like at google or, etc. Once one reaches a certain number of points, he is eligible for gift cards. I learned about it at a money saving blog I read frequently called Money Saving Mom.

Check out this link: and start earning $ today. :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Inexpressible Gift

A quote from Of First Importance:

“What we see at the cross is the white-hot revelation of the character of God, of his love providing the price that holiness requires. The cross was his means of redeeming lost sinners and reconciling them to himself, but it was also a profound disclosure of his mercy. It is, in Paul’s words, an ‘inexpressible gift’ that leads us to wonder and worship, to praise and adore the God who has given himself to us in this way.”

- David F. Wells, The Courage to be Protestant (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 129.

Thank you, Lord, for your 'profound disclosure of mercy' in giving up your only Son so that I could know You, commune with You, talk to You about anything, anytime, anywhere and be heard by You, loved by You, preserved for Heaven by You and ultimately, one day to see You face to face and live eternally in Heavenly Bliss. Indeed, You are good and have been good to me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Ongoing Food Wars

We have food wars in our home...not the fun kind where everyone is eventually covered with food (yes, that would actually be fun for me as opposed to the kind of food wars we have).
My boys are notoriously not the best eaters. There has been MUCH growth, and I can say God has given both them and us (their parents) much grace over the last 3 years to persevere in taking small steps toward good eating habits.

Today, war was waged over vanilla yogurt and berry granola mixed. Mind you, this was requested from my son. I double and triple checked with him to make sure he wanted it. He did. But, after a 1/2 of a bite, he told me he was full.

I tried various approaches to get him to finish his lunch and finally I pulled out the old, "Who's in charge?"

Son: "You're in charge, mom"

Me: "Who put mommy in charge?"

Son: "God."

Me: "Why did God put mommy in charge and not you? (wanting to hear something like, 'because God loves me and wants what's best for me OR because mommy can take better care of me than I can of myself, etc.') Instead, I got....

Son: "..Because she wants me to eat and not die."

Well, yeah, I guess that was close enough. :)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Do You Have a Heart For Missions?

Well if you do, I want to ask you to jump over to my brother and sister-in-law's blog to find out about their upcoming adventure to the Ukraine. My brother, Garrett, and his wife, Kristen, are currently raising support to do a 2-3 year stint to the Ukraine. They love Christ and have a passion for overseas missions, particularly church planting ventures. They are currently at 93% of their needed monthly support. If you want to learn more about them and their journey to the Ukraine, please visit their blog:

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Excellent Perspective on Today's Election

Take 4 minutes from you day to watch this video of John Piper offering excellent perspective on today's election. It will well be worth it.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Dearest Place on Earth

I'm talking about my church, now named "Sovereign Grace Church". Yesterday we had a special Sunday in the life of our church for it changed its long held, dearly loved named of Chesapeake Community Church to Sovereign Grace Church. During the service, our pastor spoke of the Sovereign Grace of God that brought about the birth of our church, has sustained us for many years and that we can anticipate for years to come. At one point in the service, several members of the church shared their testimonies of God's Sovereign Grace in their individual lives in a unique and powerful way. Here is a link to view this special part of our service yesterday.

As you watch, consider how God's Sovereign Grace has saved and sustained you and be blessed. And, if you don't know God's Sovereign Grace in your life, I'd love to talk to you about it!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Day in the Life of...

I have found myself too busy and my mind too cluttered to capture all that is racing by me lately in the lives and development of my kids.
SO, I'm just taking a second to jot some things down...

Tucker has been infatuated with a retractable measuring tape which he calls, "Stretch". He wants to take stretch everywhere and measure everything with it. Very funny.

Judah has been saying that his thumb fell off a lot lately...don't know if that's because I'm always telling him to take his thumb out of his mouth???

Bella sits for lengths of time taking shoes on and off or trying to put any article of clothing on via her feet. Yesterday, she had the sleeve of her sweatshirt up on her leg.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Longing For Deliverance

Another quote from my most oft-read blog: Of First Importance.

“Every time you acknowledge your sin, you long for Jesus too. But you’re not longing for the final sacrifice, because it’s already been made. No, you and I long for final deliverance. We long for that moment when we’ll be taken to the place where sin will be no more. We long to see Jesus, to be with him, and to be like him. Isn’t it comforting to know that that final deliverance has been written into the story as well? It is our guaranteed future. And so we long with hope.”
- Paul David Tripp, Whiter Than Snow (Wheaton, IL.: Crossway Books, 2008), 90.

Aren't there so many things our hearts long for? Some are significant things like a child to a barren woman, a wife to the single man, or healing for the chronically ill. Some longings aren't as significant but are longings nonetheless, like a longing for chocolate (a longing I'm all too familiar with), good weather, or a new wardrobe. Some longings are fulfilled this side of Heaven. Some remain deferred hopes. Isn't this such good news that the fulfillment of the greatest thing our hearts could and do long for, "final deliverance" from our sin, has been guaranteed for those who believe in Jesus! So, whatever you are longing for today, may you most long for final deliverance and therefore "long with hope".

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let Your Victories Be Recounted...

Monday Judah had to go for a routine EUA (evaluation under anesthesia) for his eyes. We only have to go for these every 6 months which is a blessing as they used to be every 3-4 months apart. Judah is now old enough to know who all his doctors are and what he has to go through with each one. So, when he found out we were going to see Dr. Jampel, he fought to choke back his tears.

As a mom (and dad), to watch him wrestle with his emotions over these appointments absolutely amazes me and always earns not only such respect for my son but also awe at God's grace on his little life. He is so mature in some ways, doing battle with his heart that is prone to fear and/or grumble about his lot. Truly, some adults would not do as well undergoing the kind of medical rigor he goes through as a matter of course.

Granted, I know there are sooo many others who go through things so much more difficult. I know because I've seen with my own eyes. It's hard to walk in and out of Hopkins as much as we do and not be confronted by the staggering mercy God has shown Judah and our family. His medical needs are relatively minimal compared to so many other children out there.

We met such a child and family this visit to Dr. Jampel's. While I was back in post-op. with Judah (who did amazingly well waking up from anesthesia this time), our dear friend, "Ms. De" was out in the waiting room making friends (little beknownst to us, but not surprising). When Judah and I were wheeled out of post-op., I peered into the waiting room and called for De who was talking to another anxious mom waiting for her daughter to come out of post-op. as well. De stood up and gave this woman a hug as I leaned into Judah's ear and said, "Ms. De is making friends again." :)

De is one of the most friendly, unpretentious women you'd ever meet; though also one of the classiest at the same time. She strikes this beautiful, God glorifying balance of femininity. We love having her with us for these hospital visits. No matter how early in the morning we have to leave, she is willing to not just ride along, but provide such emotional strength to both Judah and me each time. (And, she's not naturally a morning I know she's got to be walking in the Spirit for making these trips with us).

She does this not so much by letting me cry on her shoulder and seriously talking me and Judah through the circumstance (though she will and has done this), but by being silly and fun, light hearted. She is so refreshing, and Judah just loves when she goes with us. She serves me by entertaining my son, helping him not take himself or his circumstances so seriously (even though she absolutely appreciates and affirms the serious nature of them and how difficult a lot it can be for us). This frees me up to take care of the logistics of our visits (parking, talking to dr's, signing papers, etc.) and also from having to carry both mine and my son's emotional load that typically accompanies these visits.

All this, AND I find her this past visit seeking to minister to another anxious mom while I was back in post-op. De and I talked about her interaction with this mom, and it was apparent that this mom didn't know the God of the Bible. De spoke rather boldly with her but also communicated deep compassion as well.

After we were discharged, we decided to hit the cafeteria for lunch (something I don't think we've ever done before). But, looking back, I can see this was a divine leading as we ran into this mom again along with her daughter and husband. We stopped and I officially met them. We exchanged information about our children's syndromes and briefly shared about our experiences with the medical community over the past 4-5 years.

And, then the mom said something like, "I've come to realize doctors really don't know that much." The context was such that we weren't slamming the talents, knowledge and skills of doctors, but just amazed by how much there is to still figure out about the human body. This provided such a clear opportunity for me to speak of the God of Psalm 139 who has so fearfully and wonderfully made us and who so amazingly sustains us.

We both agreed that the more reasonable expectation we should have when anticipating the birth of a baby is for there to be something wrong rather than that the baby would be altogether healthy because we have seen (and this a limited sight) just how much has to come together for us to be and remain healthy and function "normally" as humans.

I walked away so grateful that God opened this door not only to tell of His excellencies and of Who He truly is, but also to hopefully enlighten this woman's view of God, to provide her and her husband with an opportunity (and maybe there have been other opportunities in their lives) to be confronted with the truth that they are not only accountable to a living, Holy God but also that they are loved by Him if they place their trust in Jesus.

Walking out of the OR this time after holding the gas mask on Judah's face while speaking right into his ear that Jesus would be with him and I love him and would be here when he woke up, bearing again having to listen to him scream with utter terror until finally he fell "asleep", and kissing him on the cheek before leaving his side, I realized this never gets easier. The medical staff usually picks up on the fact that we're (Judah and me) very familiar with all the procedures and prodical, but even in what may seem rote to us both, it never gets easier. My prayer every time we go to the doctor is that God would somehow be glorified and redeem all that we go through. The opportunity we were given to speak to this woman and her family about the Lord is an answer to those prayers.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Steel Cut Oats

Anyone ever eat and/or know how to prepare steel cut oats?
I heard they were superior to regular oatmeal that's apparently been stripped of some of its nutritional value, so I picked some up recently at BB's and want to try it. Any tips?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Good for me may be good for you, too...

From one of my favorite blogs, Of First Importance, a quote that is so helpful and instructive to me this morning as I battle not only a nasty cold but my nasty heart that wants to give into self pity and doubting God's care for me:

The trade of doubting
“When the Christian trusts, he is happy; when he doubts, he is miserable. When the believer looks to his Master and relies upon him, he can sing; when he doubts his Master, he can only groan. What miserable wretches the most faithful Christians are when they once begin doubting and fearing! It is a trade I never like to meddle with, because it never pays the expenses, and never brings in any profit —the trade of doubting.”
- Charles Spurgeon, Fear Not

May we Christians be happy today as we look to our Master and rely on Him today.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Ultimate Comfort Food

Like so many of us, I eat for comfort at times. And, I have my own list of foods that seem to fit that category. Of course, chocolate is found on this list, but honestly I don't consider it as much a comfort food as an indulgence. My comfort foods tend to be warm and easy to eat like oatmeal. Believe it or not, I consider rice, beans and cheese to be one of those ranked high on my comfort food list. May sound strange, but my latest favorite is something called "Baked Louisiana Dirty Rice and Beans", a recipe I found in Cooking Light. I consider this recipe the ultimate comfort food because one need not feel guilty after eating it. It's good for you!! Here it is for you to try the next time you need some comfort food:

1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 c. finely chopped green bell pepper
3/4 c. chopped red onion
1/2 c. finely chopped celery
1/2 lb. skinless, boneless (I use ones with bones in and cut off the skin myself) chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 in. cubes (I leave them whole, too...less work).
1 c. uncooked long-grain brown rice
2 1/2 c. fat free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. thinly sliced green onions
2 tsps. minced fresh thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 350.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bell pepper, red onion, and celery to pan; cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in rice; cook 30 seconds. Add broth and remaining ingredients; bring to simmer. Cover and bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

I cook and bake this in my Pampered Chef Executive Skillet. I love that it's a one pot meal that way!

Monday, September 08, 2008

And, some pictures...

Judah and Tucker's 4th birthday celebration with Lawrence's family
Bella loves many things. We've captured a few in pictures:

Reading books (and occasionally ripping pages)

Climbing like a monkey

and her Papi!!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Growing Up

My three gifts from God (that would be my children I'm talking about) all had well visits with our pediatrician recently. Usually I can manage all three by myself. It's not pretty, but I manage. But, because all three of them were scheduled to have shots, I asked my MIL if she'd go with me. Thankfully, she agreed!

Judah and Tucker are 4!!!
Amazing to me to think that a year from now, God willing, they will be entering Kindergarten!!
My boys are growing...Tucker is in the 25th percentile for height and weight, and while Judah is only in the 5th percentile for height, he grew at the same rate as Tucker over the last year. To me, this is a good sign. I will be taking him to see his endocrinologist toward the end of September for her to take her measurements and continue the dialogue of whether to try growth hormone treatments or not. This is an ongoing concern of ours, but we are so grateful that Judah is still on the charts and still apparently growing! Thank you, Lord!! Keep praying.

Daily, the boys wow me with the intelligence God's blessed them with. Recently, they have been interested in math. "Mom, did you know that 2 and 2 make 4?" They write their name (not well, but they do it). They LOVE to read which, in my opinion, is the key to any and all learning. They're VERY curious, almost ad nauseum. All day long, I answer the question, "Why?". I have to often remind myself that this is a good thing as it can get quite annoying. :)

The boys are nearly OBSESSED with Thomas the Tank Engine which my pediatrician says is actually developmentally quite normal. From the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep, they play (or want to) with their trains and tracks. I'm grateful to be at this stage finally where I can watch them play with such focus and intensity while I get other things done. Not totally off the hook, though, I often have to step in to help them work through many a conflict.

Every Friday, we go to the library for storytime. I have been taking the boys to drop in storytime since they were about 18 months. The boys are reluctant, if not entirely resistant, to participate with any finger plays or songs. It's something Lawrence and I are praying about and asking God for wisdom to know what to require of them, how to discern what's going on in their hearts, etc.

The boys tend to be rather fearful but daily, we see so much growth. They fall, scream, but are growing quicker to shake it off. They are beginning to wrestle more with each other and their buddies, not as fearful of getting hurt as they once were. They have watched a couple movies with us (the most recent one was "Jungle Book") that scared them out of their wits (especially Tucker), but made it through and hopefully are growing in courage as a result.

They're also becoming better eaters. It has required a lot of perseverance, and we still have far to go, but now they have a much larger list of foods that they'll eat. There are no special made dinners; they eat what we eat or don't eat at all. They will now eat 2 carrots for lunch, sometimes even without dip! Judah loves corn on the cob. They both eat chicken, prepared many ways, not just nuggets. :) They'll eat an array of fruits and do really well with beans fixed in many different kinds of dishes, taco soup being one of their favorite.

The boys love to watch me bake in the kitchen. They pull up their stools and help me measure and pour. Tucker especially takes an interest in anything I put together in the kitchen. He's our "smeller". He always wants to smell food items especially. It makes me wonder if he'll be a chef some day.

The boys love when I make them chocolate chip pancakes, which I typically do on Saturdays when Papi's home. And, they LOVE when Papi's home. Lately, they'll come in my room in the morning, and the first thing they'll do is go to the window and lift the blinds to see if Papi's car is there or not. We'll do the calendar in the morning as a part of our breakfast routine, and they'll sometimes figure out where we are in the week compared to the weekend (when Papi's home).

They also LOVE their buddies and having company or something to do each day. This could be perhaps from the way we do our calendar time. I have a calendar where we review the day of the week, the month and date each day. Then, we have magnetic activity blocks that we can put on each day. SO, the days we go to the library, I put up the library magnet. As a result, nearly everyday, they ask who's coming over or what we're going to do that day.

My boys live a very full life, and daily I am amazed by the blessings God bestows on my family!!

Bella is 18 months old (and showing it by testing the limits all the time now)!!
Among the many things Bella enjoys, EATING is one of her favorite. There are times the girl will eat as much as I do at a sitting. And, while she doesn't care for most vegetables, she is hands down a better eater than either one of my boys. And, I'm very grateful.

Even still, she only weighed in at the 25th percentile for height and weight.

Bella continues to be the delight of our home. She loves to dance and will shake her groove to just about any beat. She's got a bag full of various moves, too.

She loves to be outside. She'll go to what I call the shoe spot (where the kids leave their shoes by the bottom of the steps), grab her shoes and bring them to me as if to communicate, "I want to go outside."

She is starting to speak (and not just her baby babble that she can be heard uttering all the time). Some of her first words have been: kitty, doggie, shhh, ball, baby, Coco, mine, nose, toes, and of course, momma, papi (baba), judah, tucker...oh, and the roomba she calls "da da". One of the ways the boys will entertain themselves is by 'making' Bella say certain words.

For a while Bella would just meander around the living room doing really nothing while the boys played all day long with their trains and tracks. But, recently, she began to get into their space just a little bit too much for any of us to endure. So, it finally occured to me to bring her kitchen set upstairs for her to play with. She has been having lots of fun playing "mommy" in her kitchen and for the most part, staying out of the boys space.

The girl is proving to have quite an independent spirit (gee, I wonder where she gets that from). God is giving me confidence, however, in helping her learn where and when it is appopriate and God glorifying to exercise her independence. In many circumstances, I'm grateful she's independent. Where it gets her in trouble these days is when she opens the pantry and pulls out the cereal, or stands on one of the toy bins and tries reaching for the things on the pass thru window or tries to climb over the gate and falls on the kitchen floor, face first. :)

Bella's also a little monkey and fearless. Again, something that has its advantages and disadvantages. There are slides at the playground that the boys only recently are willing to go down; Bella's going down with gusto at 18 months. But, she also walks away from me and/or quietly disappears when I'm distracted, never looking back to see if I'm with her or watching her. She's nearly been in the street, hit by a car twice before I noticed. She's quiet and quick. I have to keep an eagle's eye on her at all times.

And, she loves men. It's funny (scary) how she'll nearly bat her eyelashes when she has the attention of a man. She loves her Papi most of all, though, and I know it'll take quite a lot for any young man to not only win Bella's heart but moreso, my husband's approval one day.

Ahh..but that day is not today. Thank God.
Instead, today, I get to enjoy this adorable, baby babblin', dancing, sweet little girl of mine, and I'm so grateful.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


As I attempt to recover from a nasty stomach virus, I thought I'd fill you in on the last several weeks here at the Almengor's.

As many who know me well know, I like to go all out for our children's birthdays. This year was no exception. The boys turned 4 on August 3rd. Can you believe it? When they were 4 months old, I couldn't have imagined we'd make it to 4 years old!!! But, we did. Praise God! What a testimony to HIS faithfulness. Truly nothing short of a miracle that children have survived to 4 under my daily care.

As the boys' birthday was approaching (like back in May already because I'm a planner), I thought I would get their input on how they'd like to celebrate their birthday this year. They both replied with the same answer the several times that I asked them: "go to Grandma's park", which is what they call what the rest of the world knows as "Knoebel's Grove". They call it Grandma's park because we went twice last summer with my family as it is about an hour north of where most of my family resides (3 hours for us).

It is a really wonderful park, very family friendly, seriously minimal costs as far as amusement parks go. I would highly recommend checking out their site if you live even as far as 3 hours away as we do.

Every birthday celebration for our kids so far has included friends, and I wondered how we might maintain that tradition while going to an amusement park 3 hours from home. The brilliant (or some might say crazy) idea got into my head to make use of Knoebel's campgrounds in order to accomodate any friends who might be crazy (I mean, fun) enough to make the trip.

We had two sets of friends who were able and willing to make the trip. We think they still love us. :)

A week prior to what I dubbed "KA08" (Knoebel's Adventure 2008), we decided to take a 'test run' by taking the kids to Port Discovery in the morning and then camp in our dear friends, the Neumann's, back yard later in the day. I was so glad we had a practice run if for no other reason than to get geared up for how exhausting this birthday extravaganza was going to be. Here are some pictures from our day at Port Discovery and camping at the Neumann's:

As with almost any scheduled trip out of town for our family, the boys' birthday extravangza was not without its drama. The Saturday before we were to leave, Bella started with a fever. By Sunday evening (the night before we left), her temp. had risen to 104.6 (not uncharacteristically high for her). So, on Monday morning at 8 a.m. (the time we had planned to be pulling out of Abingdon), I was sitting in the parking lot of our pediatrician praying they'd be able to see Bella promptly. Our wonderful pediatrician saw her at 8:30 a.m. when it was determined she had "Hand, Foot and Mouth disease", not a pleasant virus to contract.

Bella had sores in the back of her mouth and throat, making it very painful to eat or drink anything. She was not a happy camper, and I was ready to stay home with her while my hubby offered to try to pull off KA08 without me. But, my ever serving mother-in-law once again stepped up and offered to stay with Bella, assuring me she was comfortable with all the meds and pushing fluids. Honestly, Bella couldn't have been better cared for, even by me. I knew Mrs. Almengor would go above and beyond to ensure Bella would be well cared for. So, with confidence in my mother-in-law and in my husband's leadership, I hopped in the car and headed for Pennsylvania, only 2.5 hours behind schedule. Here are some pictures from our time:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Because I Miss Laurie...

I'd do just about anything for ya, friend. :)

What were you doing 10 years ago?
I had just graduated from IUP, living in the basement of the Dudleys (a super sweet family who used to attend what is now Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana), working as a Therapeutic Staff Support for "behaviorally challenged" kids.

Favorite Snacks
lately: popcorn (94% fat free)...I can eat an entire bag and have only consumed 120 calories and 0.5 g. of fat!!! How awesome is that?!!

To Do List
1. meal plan for the next two weeks and make grocery list
2. Fold lots of laundry
3. re-schedule Judah's tooth extraction
4. Send family recipes to my cousin for a cookbook she's putting together for another cousin
5. file my large pile of EOB's and medical receipts
6. Close my sister's Pampered Chef catalog show and submit by July 31st
7. Email a friend back

Jobs I Have Had
1. Dairy Queen/Stuckey's
2. Way-Har (a family owned icecream store/deli/quickmart type of place)
3. Hostess at Ground Round
4. Therapeutic Staff Support for behaviorally challenged kids
5. Campus Crusade for Christ at Towson University
6. 5th/6th grade teacher at Chesapeake Christian School

Places I Have Lived
Lehighton, PA
Bethel, PA
Indiana, PA
Baltimore, MD
Towson, MD
Abingdon, MD

Bad Habits
eating too much sugar
disrespecting my husband publicly (more like a grievous sin).

5 Random Things People May Not Know
1. I spent 6 weeks in China while in college.
2. I can become morbidly pre-occupied with my husband dying on me at an early age.
3. I was a very picky eater as a child and through college. I now love to try new foods and have come to LOVE asparagus among other once sworn off foods!!
4. I floss my teeth almost every night.
5. I don't want to live an especially long life.

CD I would want if stranded on an island
Come Weary Saints

What I’d Do if I Were a Billionaire
...after paying off my student loan debt and mortgage completely...
1. buy my in-laws a new home in a better neighborhood.
2. provide the rest of the support my brother, Garrett and SIL, Kristen need for their stint to the Ukraine.
3. support many good friends who work full time in missions or church planting
4. host lavish parties to express my affection and appreciation to all my friends and people who serve me and my family so sacrificially.
5. Take more get aways alone with my hubby.
6. Hire a full time maid and "grounds keeper".
7. Adopt babies from China.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

FREE Garden Fresh Veggies

I received a plethora of fresh veggies from Mr. Ralph Cook and want to share the wealth.
If you'd like to come by and help yourself to some fresh veggies (beans, snap peas, cucumbers, yellow squash), please do! We'll be leaving the boxes and some bags on our front steps.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

An Almengor Update

Fun Family Nights:

We dressed up like cows and got a free combo meal each at Chick Fil-A!! We LOVE our Chick Fil-A.

Our friends, the Grigers, joined us. I thought Heather did a rather good job putting these outfits together last minute for her kiddos, Rudy and Lucy. Isn't that the cutest cow tail? :)

We've also spent some time out at our friends, the Neumann's, who are so generous to allow us to use their pool for some fun, free family nights!! The boys love going to "Miss De's" and especially when they get to jump on the trampoline they have. Glenn and De are among the most generous, kind hearted people we know. We are so grateful for the ways they've invested in our family.

Other happenings:

Lawrence was out of town for 2 weeks traveling for business. We missed him greatly while he was gone but were grateful that he was able to come home on the weekend between his two weeks on the road. One of my main concerns for while Lawrence was gone was that my back would hold up. I'm grateful to say God provided abundantly for our family, and my back was fine the entire time he was gone...even after driving to and from my mom's in PA!! I was amazed and grateful. While at my mom's, I had the privilege of learning how to can green beans.

My mom has had an older Mennonite woman come and clean for her on occasion ever since my parents were married. Her name is Wanda, and she has become a family friend. She often brings home baked goods when she comes to clean or something she picked up for my mom at a yardsale that she knew my mom was looking for. She is a very thoughtful, dear friend of the family, and in typical Wanda fashion, offered to come and help us can green beans. This, only a week after her mother passed away! I counted it quite a privilege to be learning from these two women who have spent their lives serving their families with excellence.

Doctor updates:

Well, we have had a lot of doctor's appointments lately. Judah saw his opthamologist last week, Dr. Abrams. His eyes look good, no signs of swelling on his optic nerve (an indicator of glaucoma) and his vision has remained about the same. The patching we've been doing has not improved his vision in the one eye since the last visit, but she wants us to continue patching to try to prevent decline. So, to my son's dismay, we will continue patching 2 hours a day (hopefully soon with a permanent patch rather than a disposable adhesive).

Judah also had a laser treatment last week on his bum. After showing pictures to Dr. Cohen from Judah's last treatment and having a discussion with him about the "diminishing return" of these treatments, he felt it best to spread Judah's treatments out further. So, gladly I cancelled the next two appointments and will not have to take Judah back until November!!!

Finally, Judah has his tooth extraction scheduled for Monday, July 28th. Unfortunately, he started with a cold yesterday which required some nebulizer treatments late last night. So, he will be on Pulmicort for this next week, and I'm hoping it will not complicate him going under anesthesia. Please pray for quick healing and that there will be no complications with this upcoming surgery.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Happy Birthday, Lawrence!!!

Today, my wonderful hubby turns another year older (we'll just leave it at that). :)

"Understated" is the best word to describe all that my husband naturally finds attractive which makes it quite a wonder that he married me (but that's for another post). It is also the word I'd use to describe my husband in so many ways.

Love, your patience toward me is nothing short of Christ-like. Your long suffering with me, the same. Your devotion to me and our family is way under-rated, and I have especially seen that grow over the last year. Your zeal to live a gospel-centered life and the steadfast way you plod through our sometimes challenging life is exemplary. I am so grateful that it is you who has the most profound influence on my life and walk with God of the many who do.

You are such a gift to me and our family. We love you. We celebrate your life today and thank God for granting you all these years. We pray there are many, many more birthdays to celebrate with you as you just seem to get better with age.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Tooth Update

Judah and I found our way to the University of Maryland Medical Center today to see an oral surgeon. I must admit I have become a Hopkins snob. :) The UofMD Medical Center is amazingly gorgeous...really, if you haven't seen it; you'll just have to take my word for it. And, I hope you never get to see it. :) Nevertheless, Johns Hopkins feels a bit more like home for us. It's weird that in 4 years, I've become preferential regarding hospitals, but 'tis true.

Anyway, we saw the oral surgeon and he wants to have Judah's tooth extracted. Judah was a great patient as usual (after I assured him the doctor did not have a laser). YIKES! How he hates the laser. Judah allowed the doctor to root all around in his mouth, giving him a good look over. I can't tell you what a blessing it is to know my son is going to cooperate with the dr's exam. It relieves so much stress that Judah is typically a very good, endearing patient.

So, we're trying to get this scheduled for August as July was just too full. Pray that Judah will continue to do well with his tooth and that no infection will occur before or after his surgery.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Time To Trust

I've been reading through Genesis lately and recently read about Abraham and Sarah and the long awaited promise of a child being fulfilled in God's time. In her old age, much past the typical window of fertility and child bearing for a woman, Sarah conceived and bore Isaac.

As I meditated on this biblical account, I realized that God is often not in a hurry but instead often provides circumstances in our lives where we are asked to trust Him as time passes by. Problems don't often resolve themselves quite as quickly as we might like them to. Answers aren't given as readily or clearly sometimes in God's time table. Yet, He remains faithful, Sovereign and Good.

We are in this kind of situation with our children's health. We received good news from Judah's endocrinologist earlier this week regarding some follow up bloodwork that Judah had done recently. She said based on what she saw in the labs, she did not feel beginning growth hormone treatments was an urgent need for Judah and that we could have some more time to monitor his growth. So, while we remain uncertain whether or not Judah will ultimately have to go on growth hormone, we have been given time to wait on God, to pray for healing and to trust that God is working all things together for our good.

We are in a similar holding pattern with Bella. She continues with her reflux, though it does seem to be improving. She continues with her stridor (the noisy breathing), both things that typically would have resolved by this point in her life. At her last appointment with the pediatrician, I was sure he was going to send us to a specialist to have her scoped again, but he did not. He said instead that we could have until she turned 2 which buys us quite a bit of time before we might have to take her to a specialist.

Again...time to wait on God, time to pray, time to trust.

The outcomes may remain the same; my children may require intervention. We don't know. But, I'm grateful that God has given us time. I want to learn from Abraham and Sarah and not despise the days that go by where answers remain unclear and promises go unfulfilled. I want to grow in this time of waiting for my children's health issues to become more clear or better yet, resolved. I want to grow in trusting the God who sent His only Son to die for my sins. If He has done this, why will He not also along with Him, graciously give us every good thing?!

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Delightful Weekend

After a long week, God blessed us with a delightful weekend.

It began with the great news that my ever hard working husband received a promotion at work!! Just to brag on him a bit, he worked very hard this past year to meet some goals he and his boss set last year at this time. He met all his goals but one, and is very excited to move into a position that will allow him some more independence and also leadership as he will be asked to oversee engagements and staff more frequently. I am very proud of my man!! He has achieved this in the midst of a very demanding life here at home that seems to grow only more demanding for him as my health/pain issues have increased over the last year and he's had to pick up the slack that I have left behind.

We enjoyed the company of some old college buds of mine on Friday whom we hadn't seen in 2 years. Tommy and Beth Chase along with their girls, Emma and Norah, decided to stop by for a visit on their way back to West Virginia from their vacation to Ocean City, NJ. We were so glad they did. It was wonderful to see my girlfriend and catch up a bit. We always love our time spent with the Chases.

Saturday was a busy, busy day filled with lots of errands, but topped off with a nice dip in the Neumann's pool. The Neumann's are an incredibly generous couple in our church (De often accompanies me to some of Judah's dr's appointments). They so eagerly open their home and pool to many folks, and we were able to take advantage of their generosity this weekend. We met another family out there for dinner, the Jones', a couple in our caregroup who we're enjoying getting to know better.

Finally, on Sunday we publicly dedicated our little girl to the Lord. We were so glad to have our parents join us as well as Lawrence's brother and sister in law. We adore our girl, and could not imagine our lives without this precious gift God's given us. We are so grateful to have Christian parents and siblings as well as a gospel-centered church in which to raise our children. We are so blessed by these means of grace in our lives.

In the midst of all that is difficult and a challenge in our lives right now, God has so graciously been giving me eyes to see how much blessing He is lavishing on us at the same time.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Through the lens of grace

Yesterday was not easy, but as I replayed the events of the day in my mind this morning, I realized that I had choices to make about how to view it. I could view it through my flesh and see all that was difficult, draining, fearful and/or didn't go my way or I could view it through the lens of God's grace. There was evidence of God's grace all throughout the day:

1. My friend, Cathy, was able to come with us which was a HUGE help in so many ways.

2. Judah is amazing at these visits in the mature and winsome way he interacts with the staff. Yesterday, he was incredibly patient as I spoke with the doctor for close to an hour.

3. God gave me strength to ask the questions I needed to ask despite less than sensitive or gracious responses from the doctor at times.

4. I was reminded afresh just how merciful God has been to Judah and us by sparing us of neurological complications that so many Sturge-Weber kids endure. As we left, we saw Dr. Germain-Lee's next patient who was a SWS patient with apparent neurological involvement and in a wheel chair.

5. Another friend, Danielle, brought flowers and a card later in the day that served as a reminder to consider the One who "clothes the grass of the field" and remember that He will care for Judah and our family even moreso.

Yes, yesterday was not easy. It still remains unclear as to whether or not we should begin treatment for Judah. I believe the doctor is rather convinced that we should, but we haven't reached this conclusion quite yet. So, we continue to cry out to God for wisdom and clarity on this issue.

We will need to have more bloodwork done on Judah to verify some of the levels Dr. Germain-Lee was suspicious about on his pituatary stim. test. She felt they may have been contaminated and therefore wants us to get some additional bloodwork. This will help her determine whether she would recommend starting treatments sooner rather than later.

Pray that as we wait and pursue this bloodwork to help clarify things, that God will be making it clear to us what we should do.

Thanks again for your prayers.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

HGH Therapies

This will be the topic of discussion tomorrow among Dr. Germain-Lee (Judah's endocrinologist), myself and a good friend, Cathy Plack, who has so generously agreed to go with me in order to help me catch and synthesize all the pertinent information that will be "downloaded" to me tomorrow regarding human growth hormone (HGH) therapies.

From Judah's tests, it has been shown that he has what Dr. Germain-Lee calls a partial growth hormone deficiency which I know to mean at this point that his body does make some growth hormone, just not enough. I presume I'll understand more after tomorrow's conversation.

My husband asked me how I was doing in regards to tomorrow's appointment earlier on this evening, and my reply was that I'm just not wanting to think about it, own up to its reality, but would rather pretend that it's not something we have to deal with.

However, that's not an option. I can't pretend my son is going to grow just fine because he's not pending a supernatural miracle from God which we certainly believe could happen. Consequently, we are called as Judah's parents to make this decision that feels all too daunting, but we are trusting that God will provide light for our path, that He will go before us and come behind us in this decision of whether or not to begin HGH therapy on Judah and when. We trust that no matter what the outcome, God will have been and continue to be good to Judah and good to us.

It is not easy to be a parent sometimes (Boy, is that an understatement?). I know any parent out there is going to agree 100% with that statement. This is one of those times for us. I don't want to make this decision, but I am going forward knowing I have been given all that I need in Christ for life and godliness, and this includes making this decision for our son.

Please pray for me tomorrow, that I, along with Cathy, will be able to comprehend all the information there is to comprehend and that God will enlighten my mind to ask good questions that would help us make an informed decision.

Pray that I will be able to succintly and accurately relay all the information I receive to Lawrence.

Pray that I would carry the "aroma of Christ" with me as I interact with Dr. Germain-Lee and her staff, that God's peace would be evident as I speak with the doctor and that I would ultimately find my confidence in God and direct my son to place his hope in God alone, too.

Thanks so much for your prayers for our family and for our little man!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tooth Extraction Forthcoming

Got to cut to the chase for the moment and just let ya'll know that Judah fell off a porch swing last night and broke one of his teeth, chipped another among other scrapes. We saw the dentist today, had an x-ray, and it was determined that Judah needs to have this tooth extracted. YIKES! So, I've been on the phone all afternoon trying to find an oral surgeon who participates with our insurance so we don't lose the house on this one...(really, it's not just this one, but the dental work I've had to have recently along with the entourage of specialists my son and I see ongoing, but I'm likely sinfully fretting at this point about our finances).

Please pray that we can find a surgeon who is both reputable and affordable (whatever that means in healthcare these days).

Please pray my little guy will allow me to swab his mouth with prescription mouthwash that's to help prevent infection and promote healing.

Please pray for me who is (as usual) so over her head with the responsibilities of my everyday life.

A silver lining: Because Judah sucks his thumb and therefore has a significant overbite, he's not being terribly bothered by the broken tooth when he eats (it's his front one) because it doesn't come together with his bottom teeth. So, we're choosing to give thanks for that and trust God's wisdom in these circumstances He's allowed by His loving, good Hand. We trust you, Lord.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Muffins and The Market Tuesday's

My boys know that vegetables are really good for you, but refuse to eat most toddlers, I am guessing. So, I thought I'd try taking them to a local Farmer's Market every Tuesday and let them pick out a vegetable they'd like to try. My plan is to let them help me in preparing it as well with the hopes that the "control" I allow them in picking and preparing the vegetables may peak their interest in actually eating them. It's a last ditch effort (for now) in getting them to try vegetables.

So, today was the first day we made it to the Market. I thought it would be fun to include muffins as our Tuesday breakfast as well, making it "Muffins and The Market Tuesday's". I'm an alliterate theme girl. :)

We had a simple apple streusel muffin this morning, a recipe I found in my Betty Crocker cookbook and whipped up rather quickly, joined some friends (the Jones'), and made our way to the Market. Well, there were only 2 venders there today, but the produce and flowers looked gorgeous. I explained to the boys that they got to pick out the vegetable we'd eat for dinner, and instead of the beautiful zuchinni or leafy Romaine, they picked TURNIPS!!! Mind you, there was only ONE box of box, and they had to pick it. ;)

I've never eaten nor prepared turnips, but I figured if I'm asking my boys to try new things, I've got to be willing to do the same.

SO, the turnips are boiling as I type this and will be ready for some salt, butter and milk (prepared like mashed potatoes is what the girl suggested). Fingers crossed and prayers prayed, I'll be serving these in just a little bit.
***Later this evening:
MY BOYS ATE TURNIPS!!!! I did, too...didn't prefer them. Judah gagged on the first bite but was willing to take a 2nd bite with a little encouragement! None of us preferred them, but I was so grateful that my boys even took 2 bites that I'm not going to feel badly about dumping $2 worth of turnips down the drain (unless, of course, some local really has a hankering for mashed turnips).

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Necessity and Want

I'm growing more experientially familiar with these words, not like some in our world, but moreso than I have maybe known or felt in the past. I was reminded this morning of the verses in Philippians 4:

12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

By God's grace, I am trying to cooperate with the Lord's ways with me and my family in this season of our lives. It feels like a season of constant and oftimes conflicting necessities and wants. Yet, I daily sense the power of the Holy Spirit in my heart and mind, reminding me of His truth and giving me grace to agree with it rather than question and doubt Him as I have so often in the past.

This morning, I read this quote from "Of First Importance", a blog I try to read daily as it points me to the good news of the Gospel through a daily quote:

Poor folks must either borrow or beg the rich, and the only thing that commendeth sinners to Christ is extreme necessity and want. Christ’s love is ready to make and provide a ransom and money for a poor body who hath lost his purse. ‘Ho, ye that have no money, come and buy’ (Isa 55:1). That is the poor man’s market.
- Samuel Rutherford,
The Loveliness of Christ (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007) 13.

I love that what commends me, a sinner, to Christ, is not a clean house, stellar parenting, loyal friendship to others or even my submission as a wife. What commends me to Christ is my extreme necessity and want. I'm "getting in touch with" my extreme necessity and want on so many levels and must say that joy fills my heart knowing that Christ's invites me to the poor man's market, the one place I feel quite at home these days. Indeed I am a poor (wo)man, and grateful Christ invites me to "come, buy and eat".

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Summery Chocolate Recipes For You to Enjoy!

My sister in law introduced me to this recipe just a little bit ago. I decided it would be the thing I take to any picnics, family gatherings or parties we're invited to this summer. It may sound a little funny, but it's a great, easy 'salad'.


3-4 lg. apples (I think Granny Smith is the best for taste and color)
1 (8 oz.) Cool Whip
3 regular size SNICKERS® bars

Dice apples and cut up SNICKERS® bars into small pieces. Fold in Cool Whip.

Also, my friend, Jessica, over at Life as Mom is having a little contest this weekend which involves winning chocolate. All you have to do is post a recipe for one of your favorite chocolate treats and link it to her blog. I am beginning to love blog contests and certainly any one that is giving away free chocolate. I have so many recipes I could post, but I'm going to post these two which are great summer treats as they don't require oven use.

NO Bake Cookies

This is the recipe I know by heart and go to when 1. I'm having a serious chocolate craving and 2. have limited ingredients on hand. I typically always have the ingredients found in this recipe on hand.

Mocha Cooler

This recipe is a great way to enjoy a mocha frappucino-like drink during the hot summer days when the temptation to do a Starbucks (or in my case, Dunkin Donuts) run is present daily, sometimes more than once a day. So, having this mix on hand to pop in the blender will save you $ on gas and on the drink!!


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mealtime/Bedtime Routines

Throwing out another question for all the mom's (or anyone else who cares to comment) out there. Lawrence and I have discussed and tried MANY things, and we've prayed considerably about the various ways our household functions on a daily basis in the mundane tasks of life. One of the areas where we have met little success is mealtime and bedtime with our children, specifically our boys. :)

Specifically, we have daily battles with our boys to eat. They're picky about what they eat and pokey when they eat. Truly, we have tried nearly everything (or at least what we see as viable options for making them eat and moving them along when they eat). Currently, I make one dinner, will improvise a tad to make the meal more palatable for 3 year olds (almost 4), and now have begun setting a timer at the beginning of dinner time for them to eat in an allotted amount of time. We have begun at 45 minutes. Last night, they finished in under a 1/2 hour. Woo Hoo!!

We've disciplined for not eating and/or for playing at the table. We've bribed with dessert (something I never thought I'd do). We've made them go to bed hungry. We've tried saving their dinner for the next morning. We've tried making them separate meals just so they'd eat anything. (I will not do this with any kind of regularity.) We've tried the 2 bite rule. We've bought food type videos for them to watch with the hopes that they'd get excited about eating. We've eaten with other families whose kids are better eaters. We've allowed them any and every kind of dip they'd like. Ranch dressing is working for one of the boys currently, and I am so grateful. We still impliment many of these things, sometimes all of them on the same night. Needless to say, mealtime is EXHAUSTING. And, sadly, it's not only dinner anymore. It's breakfast, lunch and dinner. I feel like a cattle herder, prodding them along at every meal to finish their meal, even breakfast, which never used to be an issue.

Anyone want to offer any suggestions and throw in hope for good measure?! :)

Another area we have trouble is bedtime. We have a routine down pat (except for cleaning up their toys...that is hit or miss at our house still). It takes us easily a half hour to get the kids down completely for bed, and this is without baths on a good night. When we throw in a bath, it could easily take an hour! Again, it's either the constant re-directing, re-focusing or a whole lot of discipline, sometimes both. Is this just normal life having toddlers, particularly two toddler boys of the same age? (Maybe Laurie or Suzanne could chime in here). Again, we're open for suggestions and hope! :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I Adore My Daughter

This is a thought that goes through my head so many times a day along with, "Thank you, God, for Bella." She truly is a joy. I am often struck with how quickly my kiddos are growing up, especially our little girl. I wanted to jot a couple things down for my own memory's sake.

She does this strange thing where she'll grab and pinch my elbow when I'm changing her diaper..that is, when she'll lay still.

This morning, I was laying on the floor as I went through the circulars writing out my grocery list. She grabbed one of the circulars, laid down on her belly just like me and started pointing at things on the pages. TOO cute!

She chatters all day long, baby to get it on tape.

One of the first pretend play things she did was to pick something up and place it at her ear, tilt her head as if she was talking on the phone. My boys did the same thing.

She lights up when she hears her Papi (Lawrence) greet her on the messages he sometimes leaves in the morning on our answering machine.

And, I love her smell. It's not a "bottled" smell because we can't use the fragrance-y shampoos or lotions on our babies. We all have sensitive skin. It's an authentic baby smell and it's all her. I love it. I love walking into her room and taking in the "Bella" smell.

We had her 15 month check up recently. She's a peanut..only 21.5 lbs, about the 30% for weight and 10% for height. We have shorties....with big heads. She was in the 80% for head circumference. She continues to have reflux occasionally even on 2 medications, and one can still hear her stridor pretty easily. Our ped. is willing to give her to 2 before he'll send her for any more tests. We are grateful to have some more time to pray and wait on God.


Dunkin Donuts 16 oz. Iced Coffee, today from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Go here: for participating locations.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

25 Things To Know About Little Boys

*This is most funny when read late at night with a glass of wine!

1. A king size water bed holds enough water to fill a 2000 square foot house 4 inches deep.

2. If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.

3. A 3-year old boy's voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.

4. If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound boy wearing Batman underwear and a Superman cape. It is strong enough, however, if tied to a paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20 x 20 foot room.

5. You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on. When using a ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up in the air a few times, before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.

6. The glass in windows (even double-pane) doesn't stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.

7. When you hear the toilet flush and the words 'uh oh', it's already too late.

8. Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it.

9. A six-year old boy can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36-year old man says they can only do it in the movies.

10. Certain Legos will pass through the digestive tract of a four-year-old boy.

11. Playdoh and microwave should not be used in the same sentence.

12. Super glue is forever.

13. No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can't walk on water.

14. Pool filters do not like Jell-O.

15. VCR's do not eject 'PB & J' sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.

16. Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.

17. Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.

18. You probably DO NOT want to know what that odor is.

19. Always look in the oven before you turn it on; plastic toys do not like ovens.

20. The fire department in Austin, TX has a five-minute response time .

21. The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy.

22. It will, however, make cats dizzy.

23. Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.

24. 80% of Women will pass this on to almost all of their friends, with or without kids.

25. 80% of Men who read this will try mixing the Clorox and brake fluid.

Thankfully, my boys haven't tried any of these...YET. The closest we've come is when Tucker decided pennies might taste good and swallowed one. My guys aren't the "dare-devil" type, but they have friends who are and easily egg them on. So, I know my day is coming.

What would #26 be on your list of Things To Know About Little Boys?
*This was not originally written by me. I don't know its original source, however, to give credit.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My New Website

I am very glad to announce that I have a website for my Pampered Chef business. It is:

Go check it out and pass it along to any of your friends who may be interested in ordering product, hosting a show, joining the business, or have any questions/concerns about Pampered Chef product they currently own. I'm especially interested in serving soon-to-be brides with our wedding registry and/or a Pampered Chef wedding shower.

If you are a soon-to-be bride or know of any soon-to-be brides, please consider setting up a registry with Pampered Chef through my website. I think Pampered Chef offers one of the best wedding registries out there. Not only will you receive personal assistance from me, but you will also be eligible for the benefits a host normally receives when he/she has a cooking show: up to $200 in free product, 4 half price items and 30% off additional product. You will also receive 10% off all Pampered Chef product for up to a year after you register with the Pampered Chef!

This month is "Help Whip Cancer" month. The Pampered Chef designates one month a year to raising awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society. Check out the pink products we're offering for sale this year. One dollar from each pink product bought will be donated to the American Cancer Society. Stop by to see other ways you can participate in this worthwhile cause.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Just a Virus

Funny how the threat of something more serious can make one grateful for a virus. Bella broke out in a definite rash today, confirmed by the pediatrician because it was rather faint and scant on her neck and trunk. It's not the chicken pox. Her fevers have come down to more normal ranges as well. SO, the ped. is pretty convinced it was "just" a virus. The test on her urine was normal which was also a relief.

Thanks for your prayers for our little girl and for us this week in particular. We are heading to PA to celebrate Mother's Day with my mom this weekend. For all the moms who read here, Happy Mother's Day. May you know God's pleasure for any and all the ways you lay down your life for the sake of your children!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

It's Funny What We'll Thank God For...

At the Almengor's tonight, it was for pee in a cup and tiny red spots on Bella's trunk and back indicating, we hope, a viral rash of some sort. We thought Bella did better through the night last night. Though up several times throughout the night, crying and obviously cranky, we thought she felt cooler than the previous four nights and thus, didn't take her temperature. I was hopeful that the fevers were gone. But, this morning when I took her temperature, it was 101, a sign that the fevers were still here.

The pediatrician checked in with us today, though, and said even though she had a fever, it's lower than it's been and that's a good sign. He said the viruses he's been seeing have had fevers that trail off toward the end rather than stop all of a sudden. And, the faint rash on Bella's body is a good sign as well of a virus.

We also managed to get a urine sample from Bella tonight, so we can have that tested for a bladder infection if it's still unclear as to whether or not she has a virus. The girl has tonight to show us it's just a virus by getting through the night and waking tomorrow a.m. without fevers. If she does, I think our ped. will conclude it was just a virus and not take a blood sample. Otherwise, she'll have to get some bloodwork done tomorrow.

Thanks for your prayers. It's crazy how consuming children's illnesses can be of one's energy and focus. But, we have felt God's grace helping us to trust Him with the unknowns of our little girl's health and to live our life while waiting on His timing to make things clear.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Bella continues to have fevers...last night's highest was 104.1. We're managing the fevers with over the counter Motrin and Tylenol. The dr. is going to have me try to get a urine sample here at home using a bag or cup even though it's not the most ideal way of doing it. Also, he wants to give it until Friday to see if the fevers break and/or a rash breaks out which would indicate to him a viral issue which is what he's been seeing a lot of. He said if the fever doesn't break by Friday that we'll likely go ahead with some bloodwork. Or, if she continues to get these fevers through the summer, when viruses aren't as prevalent, he'll want to do a blood workup then, too.

So, we pray and wait. It's in these kinds of circumstances that I take great comfort in Psalm 139

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Renal Ultrasound...

...showed nothing remarkable. A good thing, I guess. We're left with a cranky baby whose temperature rises over the course of the day. She didn't seem warm to me today, so I didn't take her temperature but ended up giving her tylenol around 3 anyway because she was so cranky. Tonight, however, before her bath, we checked and her temperature was up to 102.5. So, in went the Motrin.

This episode is different than the others in that she's not been a happy baby, and her fever has risen significantly higher. Last night when we checked her, the temp. had risen to 105.2! We bathed her, gave her some Motrin, and thankfully the temp. came down 2 degrees within a half hour! But, that gave her the "shakes", and we didn't sleep so much last night.

I'll wait to hear from our ped. to see what the next step is. I'm guessing they're going to try to get an actual urine sample to rule out definitively a bladder infection. If that doesn't show anything, I'm thinking they're going to take a blood count to see if that indicates anything.

Please pray for my baby girl. Any parent knows it's no fun to have a miserable, sick baby. And, please pray for the doctors to have wisdom to know how to proceed. Thanks!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Blown Veins, High Fevers and My Gentle Shepherd

Today, Judah had some testing done to see if he has a growth hormone deficiency. It involved receiving an initial IV through which he received medication and was to have blood drawn about 6 times over the course of 2.5 hrs.

When it came time for the IV to be placed, I decided it was best to be straigthforward about what was going to be done and why. I figure for a little boy who has and will continue to be a "frequent flyer" at doctor's offices and hospitals, it is no use trying to fool him. So, in language a near 4 year old can appreciate, I let him know what veins were, that they carry blood and that the nurse needed to get some of his blood in order to see what it looked like. I think this helped him not be so squeemish and fearful about seeing red stuff come out of his arm.

The nurse applied numbing cream to 2 spots where she thought she could get a good stick. She tried the hand; Judah screamed like nobody's business. No matter how much I've watched my little man go through, I still want to cry my eyes out, grab him and run right out of the room whenever we have to go through the "next thing." I prayed and God supplied grace to cheer him on. The nurse was able to get the IV in, but his vein quickly blew, and she had to go up to his arm. She let us know at that point that the Sturge Weber kids, for unknown reasons, tend to have weaker veins. My faithless heart immediately thought, "Great! This is going to be a long, horrible day," instead of saying, "Oh, Thank you, God, for giving us this opportunity to pray and see you come through on our behalf." ;)

We did pray, though, and the second stick, Judah amazingly did not cry! Can you believe that?! He watched the nurse stick him and said, "It doesn't hurt." We were all elated! When he saw his blood, he made some kind of comment about Jesus spilling blood and dying on the cross for our sins. Our nurse chimed right in with, "But He didn't stay dead, did He? He's up in Heaven and we'll get to see him again, right?"

Oh, Lord, why are you so kind to us?

Judah's veins blew two more times before it was all over. He cried on the last stick because the numbing cream wasn't on so well in that spot. But, he was so brave and resilient through it all. He sat on Lawrence's lap for more than 3 hours watching movies, having the life literally sucked out of him, having had nothing to eat and only sips of water until 1:00 this afternoon. Once again, my little guy won my respect like few others by his display of grace while undergoing such trying circumstances.

And, as is becoming our tradition, he proudly let all the nurses know that he would be getting Dunkin Donuts after he finished with his test. Not only that, but a very cool "Certificate of Bravery" now hangs on our fridge from his nurse, Catie (and a few other great prizes they had stashed in their prize closet)...**Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital has the BEST prize closet I've ever seen! :)

We arrived home close to 3 pm and not long after that, Bella woke up from her nap. When we checked Bella last night before we went to bed, she had a high fever, over 103. This is the 4th occurence of her starting a high fever in the middle of the night. We've talked with our pediatrician about it in the past and there's never been any alarm because she acts normal when she has them. She eats fine, plays happily, and apart from her body feeling very hot, she shows no other signs of distress. So, we've given her Tylenol and Motrin around the clock until her fever finally breaks. Sometimes, it's a day; sometimes 3 or 4 days. Today, after her nap, she woke with a 104.4 temp., the highest it's ever gone, and unlike in the past, it was affecting her breathing, her mood and energy.

So, not 2 hours after we had arrived home from the hospital, I was taking Bella to our pediatrician. The ped. thought it might be a bladder infection, and the only way to test for that on a baby is to have a catheter get a urine sample. I frowned with displeasure, but knew we had to do it. The ped. tried several times and wasn't able to draw a sample. So, we now must arrange for a kidney ultrasound.

The circumstances of our day would test anyone, I'm sure. But, all throughout the day, I sensed God's gentle Spirit shepherding me through it. When Judah's veins blew, I did eventually hear that still voice remind me that it was indeed an opportunity to pray and watch God come through. There were many times throughout the day that God directed my focus toward things I could choose to be grateful for such as my husband's presence and help today (that is often not the case), or the fact that our nurses were so patient and persevering with Judah, that Judah was so unbelievably brave and persevering himself, that we had videos to enjoy while we waited, etc. Then, when it became apparent that I was going to have to take Bella to the ped., again I sensed God's Spirit right there with me, shepherding my heart that is so prone to self pity and despair. Instead, He reminded me that THIS was the way HE chose for me to bring glory to Him today, and that HE'D provide grace for me to do it with a grateful heart rather than a fearful or despairing heart.

Again, when the catheter didn't draw a urine sample, God reminded me that His wisdom is profound and much greater than my own. He gave me grace to quietly, in my spirit, agree with the truth that for some reason I didn't see in that moment or may never see, it was better for that catheter not to work than for it to work.

I know folks were praying for us. There was evidence of God's grace all throughout our day. Thank you! Please continue to pray for our family. I can tend to fear tomorrow...not just the circumstances tomorrow may bring, but also that my heart will fail me, that the grace I saw today to choose to believe God's truth and walk in His Spirit will elude me tomorrow. But, there again, I know that, "though my heart and flesh may fail; God is the strength of my heart." I know that, "nothing can separate me from the love of God," not even my wandering heart, prone to faithlessness and despair. I know that even "if my hold should fail, HIS wondrous love will never let me go."

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Come Monday

This upcoming Monday, May 5th, Judah will undergo some more testing for growth hormone deficiency. This has been suspected for more than a year, and Judah's endocrinologist felt we needed to definitively determine whether or not the deficiency exists for Judah.

We are to be at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital at 8:30 a.m. where Judah will receive an IV with blood drawn initially and then every 1/2 hour for 3 hours. Not really looking forward to this, but thankfully, my hubby is accompanying me on this one and will help me and the nurses entertain Judah (or hold him down..whichever we need to do). At this point, there's no fooling Judah with these types of things. It's not like we can stick in his favorite video, give him his favorite book or a new toy to play with and sneak one past him. The IV stick is not going to be fun, barring a miracle of God which I do believe He still grants. Consequently, we would again greatly appreciate your prayers.

Please pray not only for the test itself but for the results, that they would be favorable and clearly indicate Judah does NOT have growth hormone deficiency. If he does have it, we will then need to evaluate when/if to begin growth hormone therapy.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"Rest" Time Ideas

Need some input from my blog readers, especially any with twins or sibs who share a room.
My boys are approaching 4 (wow!) and are definitely outgrowing their afternoon nap much to my sadness. However, I still want them to have a quiet time where they can "rest" and I can get some things done without them underfoot. So, I'm polling all you out there to see what brilliant ideas you can give me as well as reasonable expectations I should have for this transition.

My thought is to have them in quiet time for up to 2 hours.
I'm not sure whether to keep them in the same room, separate them, allow them to just read, play with whatever they want to play with in one room of the house, have a snack, not have a snack???? For now, they stay in their bedroom with the lights off, sometimes the curtains open for light to read a book. The sound machine goes on, but I'm not sure why anymore b/c it certainly doesn't help them sleep anymore and it doesn't block out the noise they make. Bella's room is right next to theirs, so I don't want them to be allowed to make as much noise as they want to. Sometimes they do really well in the same room. They'll crawl up in the same bed and read books at opposite ends of the bed. Other times, like a few days ago, they don't do so well.

After hearing a lot of noise, giggling and banging coming from their room, I decided to finally go check it out. When I tried to peek into their room, I couldn't get their door open! They had pretty much destroyed their room...taken their stacked crates apart with all the books, diapers, and shoes that were in them strewn around their room. They had pulled out all their bins of clothes and thrown clothes all over the room, including a pair of underwear that was hanging from the top of their closet doors. I was just glad that the curtains were still up and the fitted sheet hadn't somehow been pulled up. No holes in walls or doors off hinges, so I considered myself lucky. :)

Chime in with a comment and let the advice giving begin.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Some Funnies from My Little Guys

I was talking to Judah in particular this morning about "overlooking an offense" to try to give him another way out of temptation when his brother wrongs him by taking his toys usually.
So, just now Judah told Tucker that he could keep the trains he took from Judah, and I commended him by letting him know that he was overlooking an offense and it was to his glory (as it says in Proverbs 19:11). Big smiles abounded!

Well, then Tucker gave Judah trains back and Judah looked up at me and said, "Yeah, mom, Tucker looked over the fence." :)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lovin' the Lilacs

Just thought I would post a quick one to let any random reader of my blog know that I'm still here... just have had to make other things a priority. That, AND my family had an amazing opportunity to enjoy a Florida vacation last week!! I hope to post pictures and share some stories from our time soon.

But, for now, I'm enjoying the smell of my neighbor's lilacs wafting through my back, deck door along with a gentle breeze and hope that you are enjoying some beautiful weather where you are, too.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Boundary Lines

LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
Psalm 16:5,6

I had to review this verse this morning, first thing, and ask myself if I really believed it. Do my boundary lines fall in pleasant places? I woke up with an acute awareness that my boundary lines are being drawn in to a greater degree than ever before in my life. Being a wife and especially a mom to young children makes my boundary lines seem tight at times. But, add to that some acute back pain and other limiting health issues, and I woke up this morning only able to see how the boundary lines God has chosen for me places limitations on the limitation of not being able to sit at the dinner table with my family, or sit through a church service or in a car for more than 5 minutes without being in what I would call very distracting pain. (I limit excruciating pain to what I experienced last November with my back...nothing has yet come close to that level of pain).

Not much unlike my 3 year olds, I could choose, and often do, to look at all the things oustide my boundary lines, all the ways the boundary lines God has Sovereignly placed in my life limit me. But instead, the Holy Spirit graciously again turns my gaze to behold all that has been given to me WITHIN my boundary lines. I have a delightful inheritance, this passage says. Among so many tangible blessings that I could enumerate, what is most delightful and where I am choosing to set my thoughts upon today is the inheritance Christ has purchased for me by His blood shed on the cross for my inheritance, that Peter says, can never perish, spoil or fade!

This is NO SMALL THING!! The God of the Universe, Creator of all Things, the One who gives all living things their breath, who sustains my existence, and who is perfectly Holy and justly punishes sin has chosen to show me mercy by sending His Son, Jesus, to die on a cross and take the punishment that my sin justly deserves. This same Jesus rose again to conquer death and defeat the power of sin for all who believe in Him. The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see and believe these truths and now I have an inheritance waiting for me in Heaven where I will spend eternity with my God, clothed in Christ's perfect righteousness and my Heavenly body...a body that will never ache, never tire, never wrinkle, never need so much rest. I will be at perfect rest.

These thoughts, while they don't take away my physical pain, quiet my heart and help me to be grateful for all that lies within my boundary lines. These thoughts remind me AGAIN that my boundary lines do indeed fall in pleasant places.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Question for You...

So, let's just say this happens at your house, too...
You're upstairs and you hear screaming downstairs. You know it's your two children fighting again. One is suspiciously quiet while the other is screaming at the top of his/her lungs. What do you do?

Do you always run down and address it?
Do you discipline both no matter what?
Do you let them figure it out on their own as long as no one is getting hurt?
Or some other bright idea I haven't yet thought of?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What We've Been Up To

It seems like I haven't updated in long time, but it's really only been a little over a week. We have been busy bees at the Almengor's lately. Between Lawrence trying to wrap up his last several 'busy season' assignments and me starting The Pampered Chef, we have had few minutes for rest and relaxation, let alone blogging! :)

But, our little girl has had fevers the last two days and that has caused me to be homebound and moving at a slower pace, for which I am grateful. I hate that my daughter is fighting some kind of weird bug, but I am grateful for how it's forcing me to just sit still in my own home for a little while. Please pray for her if you think of it. Gratefully, there haven't been any other symptoms accompaning the fevers. She's been eating well and playing pleasantly while awake. We've had two sleepless nights with her, trying to manage the fever at night, but that's been the only impact really. That, and being quarantined.

Judah did very well with this last laser treatment. Our friend, De, came with us again for moral support and to take some pictures. Judah and I both greatly appreciate her company on these trips. She is great for keeping a positive attitude and making what has become typically dreaded afternoons rather pleasant. Once I receive the digital photos from her, I'll post them so you can see just what we do when we go for Judah's laser treatments.

I've had two Pampered Chef shows so far, both in the same week which probably wasn't the wisest way to start off. But, I seem to have a knack for making things difficult for myself. The shows went well, and the guests for both shows were very gracious to me as I fumbled through the demonstration. Practice makes perfect, and I will have more opportunity for practice with three shows coming up in April!! **(If you want to host a show in May or June, just let me know!)

Finally, I thought I'd share a few of the things we did in the last month of so via pictures.

About 2 weeks after Bella's first birthday, we had her ears pierced. Before I married Lawrence, I thought it was the cruelest thing to pierce a baby's ears. Then, I learned that it is a customary practice in Latino culture to do this. There was no pressure at all from LA's family, but we both decided we wanted to have it done. Here's my girl waiting with her Papi while mommy picked out the studs.

Here's the girl marking my girlie's ears.

**Warning: Any grandmother or grandmotherly types may want to scroll quickly down past this next picture. And, please don't leave any nasty comments about how cruel we are for having done this to our daughter.

And, bottle and my Papi...there is no better comfort.


We had the special treat of having my brother, Jay, and SIL, Krista, come to stay with us twice in one month! They are from PA but flew out of BWI to see Krista's sister, Beth, in Colorado. (Got that all straight?) So, they came to stay with us before they flew out and when they flew back into Baltimore. Here, we are enjoying an outing at a local playground:

Bella and Sadie (the newest addition to the Herman clan)

Ainsley and Judah

Mia pushing Tucker on the swing


And, last but not least, the boys finally got a haircut!!
Here's the before and after.