Friday, February 29, 2008

A Must Read...

We are on our way to recovery, slow but sure. I've been able to care for my kids this week, keep some standing appointments and even make two trips to the "Y". It'll be really exciting if we actually make it to church this Sunday (would be the first in a month). Thanks for your prayers.

I am a regular reader of the Girltalk blog, written by Carolyn Mahaney and her three girls. It is a worthwhile read anytime, but I've been particularly encouraged and benefitting from their most recent series which they are entitling, "PMS Prep". I think it's been choc-full of practical, God glorifying wisdom for us women who oftimes are not only in a battle with our sinful hearts but our raging hormones as well. I would highly recommend reading through the past two weeks of their posts. They are short posts, so I don't think it'll take you too long. They are under the category, "PMS Prep" in the left sidebar, or you can simply scroll down to the post, dated for Feb. 12th and begin reading from there. Here's the link:

Happy weekend reading!!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust...

...that would be me, down for the count...hopefully a short count. Woke up this morning achy and with head cold symptoms, some chills, no fever thankfully. My in laws were kind enough to come over and watch the kids while Lawrence was at work, and my hubby has assumed my duties since he's been home this evening. I figure I've got tomorrow to rest up and then I'm back "on duty". Would appreciate your prayers for a quick recovery from whatever is knocking me out.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Day in the Life....

Just to keep things interesting here (because you know I get bored here sometimes! HA!)...Judah had a random poopie accident in his pants. ??? Lovely...guess it had been too long since I had cleaned one of those up (uh..yesterday, Bella had an explosion that went undetected until I yanked off her pants and poop went flying everywhere. Wish I was exagerating).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The "Why" Behind Almengor Birthday Parties

As is indicative of Lawrence and my personality and not some moral mandate, nearly everything we do has been thought out, analyzed and has some more significant purpose than just "that's what we wanted to do." Birthday parties for our kids are no exception. This way of living life is not something I necessarily prescribe; it can be quite exhausting. Nevertheless, it's our way of life here in the Almengor home. So, I thought I would give a bit of explanation behind the seemingly "over the top" birthday party for my daughter recently.

When our 3.5 yr. old twin boys were about to turn one, the discussion of what to do about birthdays in our family arose. We had a tumultuous first year with our babies with many and varied health issues between my sons and myself. We relied on the support of many, many people to get through that first year with our boys. When their first birthday was approaching, it was a "no brainer" to me that we were going to have a big bash and invite many who significantly helped us through that first year. For me especially, it was no doubt a celebration not only of their lives, but also and primarily a celebration of God's amazing and sustaining grace to our family. In my mind, it was nothing short of a miracle that we all survived that first year. So, we celebrated in what I thought was a big way for 1 year olds.

Well, then the boys 2nd birthday was upon us and we needed to decide what our "M.O." was going to be in regards to how we did kids' birthdays in our family. I grew up only celebrating with immediate, sometimes extended family members for birthdays unless it was a 'special' birthday, like 10, 13 or 16. Those special birthdays we could invite friends as well. This is very much what I had in mind for our own kids. I was also influenced by a dear, older and wiser friend of mine, Sandy Browne, who had 6 children and a very specific plan for how to celebrate their birthdays. She expressly didn't want to have big birthday parties for a practical reason; she didn't want inundated with gifts. With 6 kids growing up at the time in a townhome, this was a very practical move on her part.

As one who avoids clutter to an extreme at times, I certainly appreciated Sandy's thinking and wanted to do likewise. However, my husband had something else in mind (as is so typical of our relationship). And, since he's the head of our home, he won! :) He wanted a birthday party every year for our kids with all their friends and family surrounding them, celebrating with them. The compromise was that I would expressly ask people not to bring gifts.

What might seem "over the top" to some regarding our kids' parties really has purpose behind it. One reason is that for whatever reason, parties is probably the one area of life where my creativity shines. I don't generally consider myself creative in the broad sense, but for whatever reason, my creativity emerges for party planning. I always pray about a theme, and once God gives me a theme, He often supplies a plethora of ideas to go with it. (The internet and the input of other creative friends helps significantly, too...I certainly am not going to take all the credit or even most!)

Another reason our parties might appear "over the top" is because Lawrence and I really want to bless our friends who have blessed us beyond measure or the ability to ever repay. Going to some length to make it enjoyable and a memory for their entire family is a part of our way to say, "thanks and we love you for loving us like you do". Here again, we have been influenced by some dear friends who we see go to great lengths when they extend hospitality, the Neumanns and Placks to be specific. There are others, but these two couples especially make people feel loved and cared for and special by the way they lavishly extend hospitality. We may not be able to do quite what they do with some of our financial limitations, but we do what we can and always with the aim of communicating to our friends, "you're worth the trouble".

Finally, we want our kids to know how much we love them and how much trouble we're willing to go to in order to create fun, memorable birthdays for them. We certainly cannot go to such trouble everyday, but we feel their birthdays are a great occasion to show them how much they're valued in very tangible ways.

Again, we certainly don't view the way we do our kids' birthdays as the only way to do them. Every year, I wrestle with whether or not I should go to such length. I am no different from most and struggle with mixed motives to impress rather than simply bless our friends. I struggle to show love and care to my kids in the days/weeks leading up the party as I seek to prepare for it. And, every year I evaluate with my husband whether I've grown in handling the stress of it all, and whether we should continue to do things the way "we've always done them". After this first birthday party for Bella, I think we're in agreement that we will not do this next year for her. Instead, we are going to celebrate all the kids' birthdays in the summer when my husband's work schedule is a bit more flexible and the weather allows for outside parties. :)

We are not trying to "keep up with the Jones's" (pardon the pun, Danielle...I could never keep up with you anyway!). We are simply seeking to express our love and care for our kids and our friends and demonstrate how grand our appreciation is to God who ultimately gave us the gift of children and sustains them from year to year. We see that alone as something worth celebrating!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pictures of Bella's First Birthday Party

To peak your interest in checking out the entire album, here are just a few shots from Bella's party:

The theme: celebrating our winter "ONE"der baby!

Everyone singing "Happy Birthday" to Bella!

Bella eating her birthday cookie, lovingly made by her Tia Kate.

To see the entire album, check this out:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Definition of Boys:

I saw this definition of boys from a wall stenciling company and loved it.

Boys: Noise with dirt on it.
Here's the visual (and what we were busy doing today!)

Does my Tucker look like a bruiser in this picture of what?

Job Offer...

My hubby emailed this to me today from work. I thought I'd post it here for your amusement and encouragement today:

Mom, Mommy, Mama, Ma, Mami, Dad, Daddy, Dada, Pa, Pop, Papi

JOB DESCRIPTION :Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an, often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities! Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.

RESPONSIBILITIES :The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily,until someone needs $5. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next. Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product. Responsibilitiesalso include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT & PROMOTION :None. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, withoutcomplaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that thosein your charge can ultimately surpass you.

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE :None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

WAGES AND COMPENSATION :Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

BENEFITS :While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth, unconditional love, and free hugs and kisses for life if you play your cards right.

This was my hubby's addition:


Handling of biohazardous waste in the form of poopie diapers after every bottle and feeding, administration of rectal temperature readings, cleaning up spills from the pottie seat in the minivan (or yacht-on-wheels) after braking too hard because you forgot there was a payload in there, and removal of vomit from your date-night outfit 30 minutes before your dinner reservations.

Must be bilingual being able to speak toddler babble and introducing it into adult conversations: “Honey (spouse), I’ll be right back. I have to go poopie upstairs.”
What would your additional responsibilities include?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Our Winter "ONE"der baby

What a special day it is for the Almengor family. One year ago, our baby girl entered the world. After a long labor and two hours of pushing, she came flying out in one push! The cord was wrapped around her 3 times. She was blue and not crying, but eventually, she pinked up and began to cry. Her breathing was so labored, they laid her on my belly with oxygen blowing at her mouth. I didn't even notice; I was so enamored with her beauty!

At the time, I had no idea what distress my baby girl was in, but soon learned that we would be making trips back and forth to see her in the NICU at Hopkins where she remained for the first week of her life. She just needed a little extra time to grow strong enough and brave enough to enter into our world, that being one with excitable twin brothers with which to contend.

We have thoroughly enjoyed having Bella--getting to know her over the past year. She's certainly a momma's girl but delights in the care and attention of her Papi (daddy), Abuelos, Grandparents and brothers as well. Just about the only thing she might love more than her momma is her nuk. You will rarely see her without one. She loves to dance and sings along with us in her baby babble when we sing. She does not love to nap, however, and some days lately has gone all day without one!

My earliest crawler is still not walking. She's tiny, weighing much less than the boys at a year, but she eats much better than they did/do. We still can't tell the color of her eyes, but I'm hoping they'll turn blue or at least hazel. She loves to read, will sit and page thru any book. She is still struggling with reflux and has a noticeable stridor (noisy breathing)--not sure what will come of that yet.

She's had her fair share of colds but no indication of asthma for which we are very grateful. The boys had already had their first attack by now. So far, she ony has 2 teeth on the bottom, and I wonder if she's having a harder time with teething than the boys did.

She loves to crawl up the stairs and giggles when we come after her. She loves to be tickled, and we love to make her laugh (especially Judah). She's beginning to show she's got her own mind about things--pulling off her bib and taking out her hair bands at will. She also screams and kicks when she doesn't like something...making no one doubt that she's my daughter. :)

We think she's the most beautiful girl around. There are times I am so taken by her beauty and I pray she will be as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. I know she will grow and change so much in this next year. We don't take her life for granted. We are grateful for our little Bella--Happy Birthday baby girl!!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Special People in Our Lives

Thank you, Jessica, for sending the lovely Valentine's gift arrived at my door tonight. It included a shortbread mix, so I decided to make cookies with the boys while my hubby continues to rest upstairs trying to recover from this miserable flu. The boys were, needless to say, very excited to make cookies. Our conversation ensued as follows:

Me: "Boys, do you want to make some cookies together?"

Boys: "YES!!!!"

Me: "Okay, we're going to make some cookies for some special people in our lives. Is there anybody you'd really like to make cookies for to show them how much you love them?"

Tucker: "Yes....ME!"

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Joining Everyone...

It seems everyone is sick right now or has been sick recently. We are joining the masses who are undergoing a variety of yucky sick symptoms. My hubby came home early today with flu like symptoms (the ONLY way I get him home early during busy season!). My kids all have some kind of cold type virus, Tucker and Bella with off and on fevers. It's been a long day (aren't they all for any mom?), and I'm currently debating whether I want to attempt going to bed, afraid that as soon as I lay my head on the pillow, someone will wake up screaming and needing me. I have to say that while I have seen moments where God's grace has been evident on my life to serve my family today, there have been plenty of other moments where I have been less than self sacrificing and/or cheerful about the self sacrifice.

We'd all appreciate your prayers. I know some of you may be reading from your sickbed yourselves. Let me know to pray for you...helps me look up and out of my all too oft, self absorbed world. :)