Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mt. Washington Resort

As promised, I am recapping Paul and my trip to the Mt. Washington Resort. This was a business trip for Paul, but I got to come along. The best part is that it just so happened to fall on our first anniversary. I took over 60 pics, but I will only share a few here. Maybe someday I will learn to do one of those cool slide shows!

We arrived at the resort on Sun. afternoon. We had the day to unpack and explore before dinner at 7 PM. Monday AM consisted of a couple of seminars that I also got to attend. Monday PM was our "spoiling" time with Paul playing a round of golf on a top class course, and I spend a couple of hours in the spa area with a massage and royal treatment. Monday night we had a formal dinner that lasted over two hours! Tuesday is when I really saw my husband in "work mode." He was really wheeling and dealing to get the best prices and foods for our residents! I also tasted more food than I ever thought possible to consume. Literally hundreds of vendors lined every possible space and all begged you to try "just a bit" of their stuff. I literally said to Paul as we were leaving "just roll me out of here please!"

Overall, it was a fabulous time and a well needed break from the hustle and bustle of kids and life. We really had some great time together as a couple as well.

The pics all posted backward in chronological order, so here is Paul and I on Tues. night formal dinner. Taken on one of the many balconies.

Paul's assistant, Chris and his wife, Bobbi-Jo and I at the dinner Mon. night

The back of the resort. This picture really does not give justice to the beauty of the place.

This was as best as I could fit the whole place in one shot. As you can see, the resort is HUGE! I took this picture standing on a beautiful little bridge over looking a stream that runs through the resort.

They have a heated year-round outdoor pool! It is a bit of a walk from the main exit, so the sidewalk is heated!!! I still don't think you would get me out there in the middle of winter!

A view from one of the balconies. The golf course is in the foreground. Yes, the mountains are snow capped. When we woke Monday, it was a bright sunny day but only 22 degrees! It did warm up into the 40s, but still a bit chilly for golf!

When we arrived on Sunday, it was raining. A couple of hours later, the rain cleared and we enjoyed the most beautiful sunset-- for just a few minutes. It was dark with in ten minutes of this picture!

A view of our dining room.

The resort was built in 1902, and they have kept much of the original decor. This is really the elevator that we used. We had an operator that Paul nicknamed "Lerch." He really looked like he was straight out of the Adams Family!!!

Our room. We had just a basic room with no fireplace or jacuzzi-- still a whopping $446 per night!! Good thing we were not paying for it!

The biggest bed we have ever slept in!

Monday, October 26, 2009

So many things to write about...

Life is sooooooo full right now and so much has happened!!! Forgive me, I do believe this will be a long post!

I think I will start with the most recent and work back, since that seems to be the order of importance. My heart is full of sadness and joy at the passing of a beloved woman in our church. Helen was an older woman, but in seemingly good health. We arrived at church yesterday morning to the news of her sudden passing Sat. night. She was our flower lady and garden guru. I called her many times to talk garden stuff, and she made the flower arrangements for my wedding last year. What a fun afternoon we had that day! Since the flower arrangement for yesterday was all made up and ready to go, Helen's daughter, who does not attend our church, made sure that it was there for services. Helen would not want us to make such a fuss over her, but she will be greatly missed. And since we know she is with Jesus, my tears are really quite selfish, huh?!

We had a big court day on Friday for Paul. He has been battling his ex on some issues for about five months now, and it finally seems to be over. There still may be one more hearing on some contempt charges against her, but she has resolved the issues, so they may be dropped. As with all things relating to ex spouses, you win some and you lose some. The biggest things we won are in the non- tangible department. Paul's ex-wife has bullied him for many years. That power is no longer there. She was explicitly put in her place by the GAL (guardian at lit em). This was a big victory for us since the GAL's initial report was very biased against Paul and our faith. We were heading down a road that was going to put our faith on trial-- a road we so desperately did not wish to travel. We just wanted equal time with Gage-- something Paul had until we got married last year. The ex wife was painting us as religious nuts who do not really live normal lives. Paul had to see a "non-biased" counselor. (Our pastor,who holds a doctorate in theology and has been counseling people for over 20 years , didn't count as he is not really a "trained" professional!!!) The counselor's question to Paul was "why are you here ?" So once the GAL was satisfied that we were not total nut cases and that Paul lives a very stable life, she relaxed he views a lot and on Friday, looked strait at Gage's mom and said, "Paul is a very loving father who is doing his best at being a good father. Gage wants to be with his father, and Paul has every right to be in Gage's life just as much as you do, and is an equal to you." This was so big for us, as the mom had tried to tell Paul that he has no legal rights to Gage at all. We knew that was not true, but it was great to have the GAL back us up!

In addition to this, we won in areas of getting Gage for all three of the family camping trips that we do with the church through the year. We also got the tax exemption every other year. (yes, Paul has been paying child support for the last five years and never received any tax benefit for it!) Gage also gets to go to the summer camp, the Wilds of New England. She fought this since it is Christian in nature. But after the GAL questioned about what kind of fun things do they do there, everyone agreed it is good! We also won on getting Gage put on Paul's insurance. This may seem like a downer, but for us, it doesn't cost anything more to add one more kid, and it insures us that we will not get stuck with any more uninsured medical bills -- long story behind that one! She fought this one like crazy, not really sure why other than she just didn't want to give up the control.

We lost on the child support issue. We were hoping to get it reduced, since we have Gage almost just as much time as she does and we provide just as much for him as she does. The judge ruled against that, most likely since she makes much less money than Paul does. We also lost on the equal time thing. We currently have Gage two days one week and four days the next week. We wanted to even it out to three days, and four days. The judge said for the sake of the child, the schedule needs to remain unchanged, but that we do have joint custody and all equal rights.

What a relief to have this done! Since Paul and I have been married, we have been in battles first with my ex and then with his. We are praying that we can now have a bit of peace. Things seem ok with my side for now, so looks good! God is good, and so many things have been laid to rest. We have been made stronger through these trials, and what is probably bigger, our love for each other has grown stronger through them!

So I still have not gotten to the blow-by-blow detail of our trip to the Mt Washington Resort, but that will have to be at a later time. I have laundry waiting!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Is he kind?

I visited yesterday for a bit with a cousin (technically, one of the ex's cousins, but we all know my relationship with his family!) She was visiting from Chicago, and it had been quite some time since I had seen her. We got talking about my marriage to Paul. As I have thought about her words, it made me realize they were "blog-worthy"!!

She asked me, "Just one question-- is he kind to you?" My instant response was "Yes!" and I gave her several examples that popped into my head. As I have thought about it some this morning, I have realized just how much Paul really is just what I have needed. This cousin knew the man that my ex had become. She understood how I was treated, and was afraid I might choose that same thing again.

But as my first anniversary is only just a few weeks away, I can reflect back on our first year together. Just as any newly married couple, we have had many adjustments to make. We have had some additional challenges that come with being a blended family. But through any disagreements we may have had, the one thing that I could very resoundly say is that Paul has never been unkind to me. He can be stubborn and insensitive at times, (let's be honest ladies, is there any of you out there who can't say that about your man?!) but he is never unkind. Paul has never called me a derogatory name or made fun of me at all. He has never raised his voice at me or embarrassed me in any way.

Quite the opposite. He listens to what I have to say, really listens. He has carried me through sickness, and court battles, financial struggles, and child rearing trials. We are far from perfect, but have a good life. He cares for my children just like they were his own. He tucks them into bed and prays with each one every night. I love that I can roll over in the early morning hours and find my husband sitting in the recliner with his coffee in one hand and his Bible on his lap. I love it that he intentionally finishes with enough time to spare to come back and curl up with me for a few minutes before we have to start our rat race of a day. Then he takes a few minutes and prays with me. I can not tell you how special these few minutes each day have become to me. I told him this just recently. I told him that it reassures me that he is constantly choosing me. He knows my flaws and chooses to love me anyway.

Well, so I guess I wrote my anniversary post a bit early, but that's ok! I will have plenty to share then-- we just so happen to get to spend our first anniversary at probably the most prestigious resort in New Hampshire-- all completely paid for because it is also a business trip. I will have to post pics and tell all about it!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

When Saten tempts me to despair....

I know.... it has been forever since I have blogged and most of you will probably think that I have given up on it! I really haven't-- life is just so busy that when I do actually have free time, I am just too tired to really think, and well, a blog like this takes thinking!!!

With school starting next week and the summer quickly drawing to a close, I step back and realize that it has been a difficult summer on some levels. Paul and I are doing great-- growing more in love every day. But my dad got sick right as school was ending. (BTW, he is doing remarkably well considering the level of stroke he had!) There has been multiple battles with both exes through the summer, but mainly with Paul's ex. Pray for us this week as he goes to court on Wed. I have learned all about the GAL (having a guardian at lit em) process. We have learned to take meticulous notes about the smallest of conversations. There is also the ongoing battle relating to the settling of Paul's father's estate. (You might remember that his dad died a year ago this month). We have learned much about the world of probate. Pray for this as well for Paul has a court hearing next week that will hopefully draw that to a close.

Probably my biggest trial of the summer has been with my stepson. He has struggled to find his place in our new family. So many people told me when I got remarried, I gained a new son. I began trying to retrain myself to think and talk of five children, not four. I tried my hardest to treat him just as I do my own children. But instead of my relationship with him growing closer, it is doing just the opposite. There are so many factors that contribute to this and I will not get into details here. But he is struggling. There is much upheaval in his life, and he is showing a lot of anger, and I get to be the lucky target the anger lands on!!! This week, he told said some things to his mom about me, to which she in turn called Paul fuming. These things stung me to the core. I struggled through it. I wanted to hate this kid right back. I wanted to reject him the same way he was rejecting me. But I knew I could not do that. I care, yes love, this little boy too much. He is the flesh and blood of the man I love. And ultimately, isn't Christ our example? Doesn't he love us still even when we do not love Him back?

This struggle, coupled together with multiple other events of the summer has left me feeling very much like a failure of a mom. I have battled this ever since I entered motherhood. I gain victory over it for a time, and then fall.... I have spent the better part of the summer beating myself up mentally for my shortcomings as a mom. Unfortunately, my down times manifest itself in a very defensive manner. A recent situation caused my pastor to lovingly pull me aside and chide me for it. Naturally, being the sensitive person that I am, I fell apart. I made things right with the person that I needed to, but continued to berate myself for days after.

My title for this blog is actually a line from a song. Our church choir has been practicing a song for many months for our big anniversary day. Today was finally the big day and we sung it well. The song is "Before the Throne of God Above." I had sung the song so many times, the words just flowed from me with out much thought. But when Pastor asked us to all sing it as a congregation, I had only the words printed on a paper in front of me. It was the second verse that almost jumped off the page and bit me!

"When Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within. Upward I look and see Him there-- who made an end to all my sin."

It was all I could do to keep my composure. Despair. That is where I have been the last couple of days. I have allowed my failings to beat me down and then it crushed me. You know how you can read something a hundred times without it really meaning anything, and then one day you read it and it is like a light bulb goes on? That happened for me today! Those closest to me keep reassuring me I am a very good and capable mom, and I know this logically in my head. But I can magnify the smallest failure and before I know it, I am the worst mom that has ever lived!

This is Satan at work on me. I have sung that song probably hundreds of times, but never fully got the "upward I look and see Him there--who made an end to all my sin!"

As the choir made our way back to our seats with the congregation singing our church favorite "Wonderful Grace of Jesus" I silently prayed for forgiveness for allowing Satan to tempt me in this way. I allowed my joy to be robbed for the last couple of days. I cried and beat myself to a pulp for my short comings when Christ has already forgiven them. I just had to look up!!

Being defensive will probably be a life long battle of mine. I will gain victory again, and I am sure I will fail again. But instead of staying down, I hope next time, I will remember this wonderful song, and not allow Satan to have my joy.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Healing tears

It has been a LONG week! Last sun. night I received the news that my father had suffered a stroke and was not doing well. Things like this never hit a a good time, but this week seemed to be the worst! It was the last week of school (with all the hecticness that comes along with that), Bryce graduated from his "talking school," Kristen got her cast off...

I felt the real sense of urgency that I needed to see my father. I have no real relationship with this man. The last time I saw him was four years ago. We talk maybe once a year and I send him cards at Father's Day and Christmas. But at the end of the day, no matter what he has done with his life, he is still my dad and I love him.

I have known my dad was failing in health for a while now. He has had several other mini strokes over the last couple of years. Paul and I have planned financially for just this sort of thing. So we searched for the best flights that we could get and tried to flip our schedules around to go to Illinois for a couple of days.

Both my aunt and my sister had told me dad looked bad. In addition to the stroke, he had also had surgery the week before to remove some cancer in his mouth. They had to remove part of his tongue and the lymph nodes in his neck. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I entered Dad's room Tues. morning. He barely looked like the dad I remember. I will spare the details of the physical issues, but the next biggest thing that shocked me was the lack of life in him. I remember dad's hair always being very shiny and his eyes clear. The man that lay before me was dull, and at first glance I thought dad had cataracts because his eyes seemed very cloudy.

We stayed with Dad for several hours that day. I had brought along pictures of the kids and my wedding album. He said he really didn't feel like looking at pictures. I think he may have felt bad about that because a few minutes later he told me how he has all the pictures that I send him on the wall in his living room.

I am a nurse aide by profession. I deal with stroke victims every day. We are trained to be compassionate as the person you are caring for is some one's dad, mom, sister, brother, etc. But this is different. Now it's my dad. I assisted the nurse in boosting my dad up in bed since he could not do it himself. I propped up his back with a pillow. I swabbed his mouth with water because he was so dry from not being able to take any food in through the mouth. I sat watching the neurologist testing dad's arm strength and asking him to try to lift his leg. I knew what he was testing for. I know what road lies ahead for my dad. I also know that it takes a lot of mind power to rehab yourself after a stroke. "You gotta have the want to." We don't see that in dad. He does not seem to care. But he really wants to go home! So, maybe... for now, he has been transferred to a rehab facility. We got one little laugh out of him as we were all saying goodbye. My aunt really has quite a sense of humor and she said to him, "Now, try to stay on THIS side of the grass, would ya?"!! He chuckled and said "yea, I ain't ready for that."

Paul and I visited with my mom, sister, and aunt through the evening. It was a good visit. We popped back in on Dad Wed. morning for a while before heading back on the plane. Dad looked much better, his eyes were clearer and his speech better, although he said he did not feel any better. I gave him a big card and balloons and a Bonsai plant for Father's Day. I hugged him and told him I loved him and that I pray for him. This will probably be the last time I see him...

The trip back was long and full of delays. We got back at about 2 AM Thurs. morning and jumped right back into life here. Paul was back to work bright and early, Kristen got her cast off at 8:30 AM, half day of school for Tyler, picking the other kids back up from their dad's, laundry... No time to blink!

Fri. came with more end of school stuff and a HUGE fight with the ex about stuff that the kids went through while I was gone. Again, sparing details, just a gut-wrenching heartache. We have a mediation appt. this week to try to work some stuff out.

I did entitle this post "healing tears" for a reason! Almost right after I walked into dad's room, I whispered to Paul "when I walk out of here, I am going to loose it." Those tears never really came. I cried briefly Wed. morning when Paul and I were praying together, but not much. When we got home, there was so much to do, I really did not have time to grieve. Then so much turmoil with the ex. ...And I had to work last night!!! The tears started to flow when I called Paul on one of my breaks, but I had to very quickly get it back under control and go back to work. No real time for grieving there.

So, by this morning, I was physically and emotionally spent, hence my facebook entry of "weary, oh so weary." And yet, more trouble with the ex. He never called or showed up to take the kids for his visiting time... since Paul was working today, I called Mom and asked if she could take them while I got a few hours of sleep. The volcano of tears was so close to erupting as I handed the kids over to Mom and my sis in law. They poured out so much love on me with their kindness.

As I fell into bed, I turned on my trusty "meditation" cd from "Quieting a Noisy Soul." The first line of it says, "God is good, always. That means my soul can rest because I always know that God always has my best interests in mind." That was all that was needed for the floodgates to open. For the next few minutes, I cried--hard. I do not really remember thinking about anything, just needing to release the emotion. When the well was dry, an incredible peace flowed through me and I drifted off into zzzzz land for three blissful hours.

This week was tough. We all have them! But, as I have been reminded of my favorite verse yet again, God is faithful, and will not let me be tried beyond what I can bear. For all you "pray-ers" out there, please do remember us this week. The ex and the wife are really pushing buttons and are very antagonistic. Please pray for the kids. They are the ones who are really caught in this.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A hero of the faith

Have you ever been in a worship service where something other than the preaching has a profound impact on you? I did this morning. Not to say that our Pastor's sermon was not wonderful, because it was; but for me, and some others' judging from the amount of people wiping their eyes, we had one of those moments that we will remember for a long time to come.

Our pastor wears many hats on a Sunday: Sunday School teacher, song leader, announcements, etc. Often times, to break things up a bit, Pastor will call upon a man in the congregation to say the opening prayer. Today he called upon Dave B. Dave is about the age of my parents and is one of the tallest men I have ever met. I could easily walk under his outstretched arm. Dave is a strong man of the faith, one that we have told our children to watch and model his behavior in worship. In recent weeks, Dave has been missing a lot of services due to a bad back. He is in immense pain and has even been using a cane to walk. He entered Sunday school this morning almost right at the end, and with each step he took, you could see the pain written all over his face.

The morning service opened with a rousing rendition of "And Can it Be?" Pastor, as usual called upon someone to open in prayer. He called on Mr. B. As you find yourself doing if you go to church regularly, I immediately bowed my head and waited for the prayer to start. Seconds rolled on. Just when I was starting to think maybe he hadn't heard Pastor, he began in a choked-with-emotion voice: "Lord, thank you so much for allowing us the privilege of being here today...."

I was instantly choked with tears myself, as I thought of the effort and dedication it took for him to be in that pew today. I do not really remember much of the rest of the prayer, but when the "Amen" was spoken, I looked up to see several others wiping their eyes as well. His incredibly sincere love and desire to be in God's house was so evident through the tone of his prayer. What a great reminder to all of us who can so methodically get up on a Sunday morning and just get ready for church. May we never take for granted the privilege of worshiping in God's house.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Three weeks in the life of the LaRue/ LaFlammes

... Evening before Mother's Day... Had a blast at LaFlamme family Mother's Day cookout. Got stormed on big time- hail and all!! But such love and warmth from so many!

... Mother's Day morning... Papa somehow managed to keep all kids quite until a 7:30 wake up: all five kiddos surrounded my bed and screamed "HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY" to wake me up. I got scarred out of my skin, but it was so precious. Each kid had a little something for me and then Paul wrapped it up with a beautiful flower bouquet in a Yankee Candle. He even made pancakes for everyone.

...Tyler sneaks a frog onto the bus to bring home from school. "Hoppy" became the main attraction for the next two days. Mom drew the line at allowing it into the house, but the kids set up a whole little "habitat" for it on the porch. Oh, how the tears flowed from poor Tyler when he awoke Sun. morning to find Hoppy belly up in his water. Paul took him out back and dug a hole under a tree where Ty lovingly buried him.

... Judson walks around the house for days saying "Hoppy dead. Hoppy dead." Tyler tears up just about every time.

... Judson gets his elbow dislocated while playing with kids at church. Trip to the ER. Three x-rays taken. I am told this is a very common injury amongst two-year-olds. We were shown how to pop it back in if it happens again-- really? Do you think this mom could just pop her own son's arm back into place?!!!

...I visit the dr. again. The swollen lymph node in my armpit has not gone away. (Relating back to my sickness of Jan. and Feb.) I have been referred to a surgeon for a biopsy. My consult is this week, but it sounds scarier than it is. Still no evidence to support cancer, they just need to find out why it is still inflamed. I will admit the prospects of a biopsy are not that inviting for me. Yea, a bit scary.

... Same night... Kristen falls off a playhouse while playing with kids at church. Arm still hurts the next morning, so off we go to the ER again. Three x-rays later, "yep, you broke your arm, Hunny." Mom learned a big lesson that day: the old saying "it's not broken as long as you can still move it" only works for fingers (as the nurse so politely informed me)!!

... The ex and I have a big fight about recent injuries.... that's all that needs to be said...

... we went to court with Paul's ex... many things discussed... a GAL (guardian at lit em) assigned... we are holding fast to God's promises and that "...the truth will set you free." Please pray with us over the next couple of months as things are being brought out, and that the blatant lies told will be all uncovered.

... We rejoice that God has provided so abundantly for our needs.

... Since my kids spent the night at their dad's and Paul had to return Gage to his mom at 7AM, we had five blissful hours the morning of Memorial Day to ourselves.... I'll just leave that one alone! We had a late breakfast and then got to work planting our garden...

... went with the kids on a field trip to a planetarium... great fun!!! Bryce later told people he had so much fun on the field trip to the "tiny-tarium"!!!!!

Seems there is never a dull moment with us... hopefully there will be no more serious injuries. We have a full summer ahead with two camping trips, VBS, Kristen in gymnastics, and whatever else we can find to do!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My husband, the mutant

Disclaimer: this is a tongue-and- cheek post about men in general. I LOVE my husband and am just having a bit of fun at his expense!

If you follow me on Facebook at all, you will know that the family has been quite stricken with a nasty little stomach bug of late. By mid-week last week, it appeared to be over with only Paul left standing as the "healthy one." Strike that. Late Saturday night, the mighty one fell--- hard!

In the fifteen months that Paul and I have been dating/ married Paul has only been sick once. Two weeks after we were married, he got a very quick moving stomach bug that KO'd him for about a day. He was violently throwing up. But we were newlyweds. I felt so bad for him!!! He moaned and groaned, and I lovingly wiped his brow.

Fast forward seven months. Last Sunday, I was puking and, well, you know... We also had three kids that were doing the same. So, naturally, I stayed home from church with the three sick ones and Paul took the remaining two to church with him. It was not a fun day, but we managed.

Then, this weekend, after days of bragging that he was not going to get sick and how he was the only one who stayed healthy, Paul succumbed and a horrifying mutation occurred.

My normally very loving and selfless husband transformed into a writhing, groaning, self-absorbed... something! Mind you, I knew exactly what he was feeling-- I had been there just a few days before. He made one final valiant attempt to get ready for church Sunday morning, but when the rumbling took full hold of his belly, and the kids just happened to be in the bathroom brushing their teeth, they fell like a pile of bowling pins at the bellowing "GET OUT, EVERYBODY GET OUT, NOW!" My husband disappeared for the next day and a half. I did not know the man that replaced him.

He did attempt to take Gage to have his baseball team pictures taken on Sunday afternoon. His words to me about that was, "I had been driving for what seemed like years, and I looked down and realized I had only driven a mile."

During my drive home from Sunday PM church, I had called Paul just to talk to him. As I was chatting a mile a minute at him about this and that of church events, Paul suddenly interrupts me and says, "do you mind if I just hang up now? I am just really too tired to talk." Seriously, he had been by himself all day, no one to worry about but taking care of himself, and he had the audacity to say he was too tired to just listen!!! After all, what kind of strength does it require to just hold a phone against your ear and say a few "uh-huhs." So I hung up and shook my head at what babies men can be.

So, Mom got all five kids ready for morning church, took care of them all day, took them to evening church, fed them snack, tucked in each one, and then collapsed with a much deserved Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee and a snack. I watched a movie to unwind from the day's events, and then went to bed.

My first clue that I was not going to get a good night's sleep should have been when Paul half raised his head as I was crawling into bed and said "I am really restless, and just can't get comfortable." Translation: my husband had mutated yet again, this time into a giant, writhing octopus.

Have you ever seen that commercial for the mattress that is just so great that a wine glass balances perfectly in one corner while a grown man jumps on the bed? All I could think of as I was been tossed like a leaf in the wind was, "why didn't we get that mattress?" After about an hour, I had had all I could take, so I moved to the chair in our room that we refer to as the "comfy chair." It sure was a welcomed spot that night! At one point, Paul did realize that he had basically kicked me out of the bed, and managed some sort of and apology.

Monday morning rolled around finally, and I got the three older ones off to school. Paul slept for the better half of the day, but did manage to return to his normal self by the afternoon, where he redeemed himself by folding all the laundry for me!

I laughed through much of this, but mused to myself many times at just why do they refer to women as the "weaker sex?"!!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Precious Bryce

Bryce with Judson

I mentioned Bryce in my last post. Thankfully, the puking is over!!!! Bryce has a very special place in my heart. (I know, all my children are each special and loved equally-- please let me explain!!!)

I almost lost Bryce twice during his birth. He was in a breech position up til about a week before he was born, and I even had a c-section scheduled. When he finally flipped around, unknown to us until his birth, his cord got very tangled up around his leg. When my water broke, it compressed the cord, and his heart rate plummeted. He was four minutes away from being born by emergency c-section when we were able to relieve the pressure on him. I labored the rest of the time on my left side with my right leg held up in the air! Bryce also decided to try to come out face up in stead of face down and subsequently got very stuck in my pelvis! They had to vacuum suction him so hard he had a giant "hickey" on the top of his head that took a full month to heal! I called him my little Jewish boy since the bruise looked like a Jewish hat!

Fast forward almost five years now, and I am convinced that the short amount of time that he was deprived of oxygen during birth did have some affect on him. He has needed speech therapy since he was 2, but is now doing very well. He still has difficulty getting out all his thoughts, and will often start trying to tell me something and then just stop and say, "I love you!"

Bryce has been in our school's K-4 program this year. HE LOVES SCHOOL!!!!! He loves his teacher and all his friends. But Bryce's teacher called me yesterday. He is lagging way behind in reading skills. I knew this from the practice that I do with him, but was hoping that he would soon get it. He does not see that putting letters together can make a word. All he sees is single letters all in a row. We decided that Bryce will be repeating K-4. I know this is best for him, but I am sad as well. If I ever hear someone tease him that he flunked preschool, I do believe I will rip that kid to shreds!!!!!!

God has blessed Bryce with such a special gift. What he lacks in academic ability, he far exceeds in social skills. For as long as I can remember, everyone loves Bryce. He is cute and soooo funny! He has gorgeous eyes and he is so friendly to everyone. Bryce struggled for a long time with pronoun usage. He always referred to himself and "me." We would be walking in a store and he would proudly say to anyone who would make eye contact with him, "Hi! Me Bwyce!"

Bryce also has an incredible gift of knowing just when you need a lift. I posted his "I Love you so double bad" just a couple of weeks ago! But what touched me so much yesterday, was what his teacher said to me. She of course wants Bryce to do well, but she is also excited that she gets to have Bryce in her class for another year. She enjoys him so much.

She told me how Bryce recently threw his arms around he and said, "Miss Platka, I love you so much. You are the bestest teacher. You are like a great big birthday cake for the whole school!!"

Monday, April 20, 2009


Saw this format on Tina's blog and thought it was worth doing myself!!!


I'm wondering..... Will the vomit ever stop? (My poor little Bryce has been puking since about 4 AM.)

I'm reading... Do I read? I suppose you could count my Bible and the Ladies' Bible Study book "What do I know about my God?"

I'm feeling... thankful for God's amazing provision, even when we have meltdowns and totally lose sight of His providence, then He slaps you upside the head with exceeding abundance a couple of days later!!!

I'm happy.... Our mortgage situation is resolved and we will not be losing our house!!! Also, for the bags of boys' clothes that was laid in my lap this weekend!

I'm dreaming.... of a pollen free springtime!

I'm going..... Had planned to shoe shop for the boys... now the only thing I am doing today is LAUNDRY-- two sets of bed linens and just about every towel in the house plus all the normal weekend laundry YUCK :(

I'm wishing... both exes would just move to the farthest place on the earth!

I'm enjoying... my very loving husband. In spite of the trials that swirl around us, we have this very safe haven in each other. Oh, how I love being wrapped in his arms.

I'm planning..... my garden, cleaning the garage, planting flowers, fires by the swing.... can we say spring fever!!!

I'm laughing.... At our Pastor's illustration yesterday morning. A drunken man that had died at age 48 from alcoholism--"he pickled his liver"

I'm loving.... my life-- oh, there are just too many things to list!

I'm listening... to Bryce groan with his upset stomach and Judson chatter happily to himself while coloring (but somehow a hammer just appeared and he is now smashing the crayons into tiny pieces!!!), the washing machine spinning away all the puke, and the background of an ever- popular Avatar cartoon.

I'm wanting.... an ice cream maker-- I just think it would be totally cool to make my own ice cream!!!

I'm thinking.... how can I make Bryce feel better? The poor guy just came up and laid on my lap and then went right back to the couch groaning.

I'm clinging to.... my favorite verse of all time...

I Cor. 10:13
There hath no trial taken you but such as is common to man. But God is faithful, and will not allow you to be tried beyond that which you are able, but will with the trial also make a way of escape, so that you may be able to bear it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The changes that people notice

Monday night I went to my ladies' Bible study. At one point of the discussion we were talking about prayer. Our leader said how so many blessing go unrealized because we fail to REALLY pray in faith believing that God will answer our prayer. "You have not because you ask not."

I spoke up about how hard that is. I gave the example of something that I have thought so much about over the last year. The night that Rodney left and I sat sobbing in my Pastor's living room, Hope, my pastor's wife told me this was a temporary thing. My heart's desire was to have a Godly, two parent home for my children. God would not have me be a "widow" so young. This was temporary.

Of course, what I thought she meant was that naturally my husband would repent and come back to us, and we would be a happy little family again. As the months wore on and that did not happen, I began to think that Hope had said that to me just to make me feel better. But she said it several more times as well. Never did she expound on it, but just a gentle reminder that God has a plan.

Now, as the second year has come and gone on that horrible day, I can look back and see just how right Hope really was. Oh, it didn't seem temporary then. But there are several women in my church that have been single moms two and three times as long as I was. Paul and I started dating just 11 months after I became single. What is truly amazing is the transformation that happened in me that I didn't even know needed to happen.

My dear friend Kerry and I sang special music on Sun. Every once in a while you get one of those songs that just fits your voice and you blend perfectly with the other person. "Holy Ground" was that for us! It challenged us a bit, but was beautiful to sing and has a great message.

Getting back to the Bible study, the comments that followed my story blew me away. I am not the same person that sat on my Pastor's couch that night. Yes, there are some scars, but over those scars has grown a beautiful confidence on my Savior instead of a man. I used to live in a sort of fear of upsetting my husband and did not carry myself with any confidence at all. The women told me that I walked right up on stage Sunday morning with my shoulders square and head up. (I have a very acute memory of Hope helping me to see just how not confident I used to walk and stand!)

Somewhere over the last two years that old, beaten down woman has disappeared. I had no idea how I looked when I walked up on that stage Sunday morning. Our sound lady also said as we got into position she thought there was going to be a problem since Kerry was standing closer to the mic than I was. As we began to sing, I unconsciously adjusted myself and we blended perfectly!

One of the older men in the church recently told Paul that I am positively beaming these days. What is amazing to me is that was said during a time when I was physically rather sick! While I am truly very happy with Paul, I think that glow that I exhibit is not so much attributed to Paul himself, but to the fact that I went through a temporary darkness in order to come out stronger!

I wish that I could say that I have mastered praying in faith, believing. I have a long way to go, I am sure. As Paul and I face some new challenges in dealing with our ex spouses, I am reminded of the scene from "Facing the Giants." We must continue on and "prepare for the rain."

Friday, March 27, 2009

So double bad

I was just typing away here and Bryce walks up to me and plops in my lap.


"Yes, Bryce."

"I love you."

"I love you, too. Now give mom a big hug."

(Getting the life squeezed out of me) "Mom, I love you so double bad. That means I love you very, very, very much!"

And that, my friends, is what being a mom is all about!

My sensitive one

Oh, how life just keeps on flying by! There are so many things that I could blog about, but that would require a steady flow of time to just sit at a computer!!! But I just had to share this story with everyone.

I think I have mentioned before how Tyler is my very sensitive, tender-hearted child. He is now seven and tells us he wants to be a preacher when he grows up. At the end of family devotions last night, he asked when he could be baptized.

Side note: At our church, we do not have a traditional baptistery. We use a local boat ramp area at a lake not far from our church. So, naturally, being in a place where our lakes are frozen over almost half the year, we only have a baptismal service a couple of times a year.

Paul and I dismissed the other kids, and I asked Tyler why did he want to get baptized. The eyes filled with tears and he said he did not want to sin anymore. Uh-Oh! Things are just a bit messed up in his precious little mind! So we had a nice chat as to how you really get saved. Now, I truly believe that Tyler is saved. He had prayed the salvation prayer, but more importantly, he lives it. In his child-like faith, he loves the Lord and wants to do right. I think that is why last night was so precious to me. All he wants is to not do wrong anymore!!! His eyes bugged out in amazement at my answer to his question if Pastor still sins too. We all still sin and will always sin until we are in heaven. It must be our goal to not sin, but we are not perfect.

We tell Tyler just about every night when we are tucking him into bed to keep his heart soft toward God. It will make you a great preacher someday! Oh, how I pray for my little boys (and daughter) to grow to be a good men of God! Wouldn't that be the ultimate blessing from all the sadness and heartache that we have endured.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Handwriting... a thing of the past?

Thoughts on this post begin a week ago. Paul commented on how Gage (his son) holds his hands in the correct position when typing. I told him it is probably because Gage has computer classes in school each week. Then the conversation jumped to how Gage (in public school) takes computer classes, but has not even begun to learn cursive writing. On the other hand, Tyler, who is a grade less than Gage but in a conservative Christian school, has no clue about the proper hand placement for the keyboard and yet has impeccable cursive writing. Is one better than the other? I truly have no idea.

A recent post on my friend Cindy's blog talked about the same thing. I talked to a friend who home schools here about it yesterday, and she agreed that it is a dying art. She has stopped doing handwriting with her kids. Gone are the days of beautiful flowing penmanship. We email and text and leave voicemail. Things that might actually get sent via "snail mail" are most often typed out as well. I am no better. I sent out many "Christmas cards" just this last week :) and the only thing hand written on them was the address. I have beautiful cursive penmanship, but pretty much the only time I use it is for my signature.

There is a big part of me that is grieved by this passage of a skill. It is great that a child halfway through second grade can type proficiently. But are we doing our children a disservice by impersalizing them so much? Will my daughter ever get a hand written love note from her would-be husband? Or will they even care about such things?! Will my grandchildren be able to understand my writing if I so choose to hand write them a note? This electronic age has brought so many new opportunities, but has it also "dumbed" us down in the process?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A divorced girl sees "Fireproof"

Up here in the liberal Northeast, we did not have many theaters that showed the movie "Fireproof." The few that did, showed them at crazy times or they were just too far away for us to get to. Therefore, Paul and I ended up waiting until it came out on dvd. We rented it this weekend and snuggled up to watch it Saturday evening.

I have been told by so many people that it is a fabulous movie and that all couples should see it. I would agree that it is a wonderful movie. Well done! There is a good balance with some humor tossed in, and I have always been a softie for Kirk Cameron. And how cool is it that he was really kissing his real life wife in the end?!! I knew the premise of the movie. I knew about the porn addiction and the 40 day love dare.

But I was completely unprepared for how raw my emotions still are about these issues. I mean, really. It has been two years. I am happily remarried to the most amazing man. We have our stresses, just like everyone, but I really have so much more to be thankful for than to complain about!

The tears started to form just a few minutes in, and then I just sobbed and sobbed my way through it. I completely lost it somewhere around when Catherine tells Caleb how can he expect her to respect him when there is nothing honorable about what he was just looking at. I really fell apart and even said "I don't think I can finish this" at the part where Caleb puts on this beautiful candle lit dinner and Catherine completely rejects it. There were so many memories and scars being ripped open. We did finish the movie. And when it was over, Paul just held me and let me cry until all the tears were gone. I completely soaked the front of his shirt! No, I had never officially done a 40 love dare. I know that I was not perfect and made mistakes as well. But I lived those things to my ex every day. I loved him with all that I could, and he still threw me away.

As Paul gently stroked my hair and wiped my tears, he reminded me that it was God that my ex chose to throw away. All the pain welled up again as I said, "I know, but he still threw me away, too." He so gently reminded me that all those things are past now, and how thankful he is to have the ministry of caring for me and the kids. He knows what a precious jewel we are and is amazed that God chose him to care for us. Paul has told me these things before, but they meant so much that night. I know that when we took our vows nearly four months ago and we said "til death do us part" that he took it seriously. Paul married me, yes, because he loves me; but also because he believes the Lord called him to this life. God called him to minister love to four children who need a Godly man and a badly scarred woman who needs to know she is not just someone else's reject.

In short, "Fireproof" is a wonderful movie for almost everyone to see! I am glad I saw it. I just probably won't want to see it again for a while. I think I have cried enough!!!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Christmas curve ball.... and more curve balls.... and It is well with my soul!

This post has been forming in my mind for months now! I must give credit where it is due- the "Christmas curve ball" title is stolen from a radio program title I heard around Christmas! But yesterday as I was reading two blogs of dear friends going through intense struggles, I knew it was time to share my own. And then the words just started flowing in my mind as I listened last night to a musical concert at our church to dedicate our new baby grand piano that was just given to us. Our pastor's sister in law has a degree in music ped.... whatever that big word is... she is a FABULOUS piano player! She pounded out songs such as "Joshua fit de battle" and "And can it be." But she ended the night with the most beautiful rendition of "It is well" that I have ever heard. I was choking back the tears and I had my title for this blog!

I have been married for three and a half months now and all would be pure bliss if we could just live on a desert island and have no contact with the outside world!!! Ok, that may be a bit extreme! But let me start back at last fall. I will keep things very broad as to not slander a certain ex husband, but my child support income began to slowly fade away last Sept. By the end of Nov. when we ended up in court, he was behind $2,000. He changed his jobs last year significantly and the court awarded him a reduction in the monthly amount he pays by $1,100. The arrearage was ordered to be paid back at $100 per month. I was sinking financially very fast and hard. God's timing is so wonderful, because Paul's income helped a lot. But not enough to keep us out of serious trouble. We did the proverbial "robbing Peter to pay Paul" thing for the fall months, but by Dec. we knew we were not going to be able to maintain things as they are. I was awarded the house in my divorce, but it also came with a huge mortgage. I never had a problem paying it before because the child support covered it. Now, the housing market has crashed, our income has crashed, and we are in the forclosure process. But.... it is well with my soul.... now.

In the beginning, I did not know all my options, and I thought we would be moving by Feb. I struggled... hard. I love stability. I do not want to have the kids moving all the time. I also love my home. I have painted and decorated every square in of it and made it mine. The kids have a huge yard to play in. I planted my first garden last year and want to expand it this year. When Paul moved in, we redid the master bedroom and made it ours. I cried... so much. And then I soul searched and found that all these years I have misplaced my security by putting it in my house instead of in the Lord first and formost, and with those who live with me. I finally surrendered my will to His and gave this house back to my Lord. I wish that I could say that some big miracle happened and the forclosure has gone away. It hasn't yet. But so many small miracles have happened...

It is not a done deal that we will have to move. Because the markets have crashed so bad, the house is worth about 30,000 less than I owe. Thus, the bank really does not want to forclose because they will loose a lot. So I am waiting to hear if they can redo the terms, whatever that will mean! So we wait.

Paul also started a new job with higher pay. In an economy where people are getting laid off just about every day, we had a job practically laid in Paul's lap. He now works at the same nursing home that I do and is the food service director. He enjoys it very much and feels like he can finally fully spread his wings and fly, professionally speaking.

I mentioned more curve balls. I had not been feeling well for a good chunk of Dec. Not keep me in bed all day sick, just not quite right. Then I noticed a lump in my armpit. I really freaked out and went right in to the dr. He checked me over and told me he wanted to run some blood tests. It was probably nothing, but it could be leukemia. The next day and a half was tourteruos. After all that I have been through, now I might have cancer, too?!!!! Again, I cried and cried. Paul comforted me as best as he could, but all I could think of was that I was going to die and leave him and the kids alone! Oh, how our minds do run wild! But again, through prayer, I surrendered my sickness to whatever the Lord will have for me.

I can "happily" report I am cancer free, but I do have mono. I was given a work note lasting through at least the end of Feb. While it has been wonderful to not have to work, I still have five children and a home to run. Paul has been amazing for me. He has done so much to help and lovingly chides me when I try to do too much. If you know anything about mono, the biggest obsticle is fatigue. I sleep so much, and if I do not sleep, then I get very weak. I also have these peircing headaches. They do seem to be getting better, though.

I do need to begin to wrap this up!!! God is blessing us in so many ways. Things with my ex are very smooth right now. He has a new girl friend that actually seems to be good for him. He is more agreeable lately and he has agreed to pay the arrearage child support in a lump sum with his taxes. The kids are doing well. They have bonded great with Paul. Bonding with Paul's son has been a bit tougher as he is not with us all the time. But is getting better.

My heart aches for my dear friends in Rockford right now. May you draw strength from our wonderful Savior. I have been through so much, and yet there is so much more sorrow all around me.

I want to close with a paraphrase from my friend Tina's blog. The morning that I was getting my test results back, I looked at her blog and found her entry for the day. It was entitled something like "thanking God for the fleas." It told the story of how Corrie Ten Boom and her sister were reading the Bible while in that horrible concentration camp. The read "in everything give thanks." Corrie's sister said that it meant they should be thankful even for the fleas. As the story later revealed, it was because the room had fleas so badly, that the guards never came in and they were able to hold open Bible studies there.

Yes, I must thank God for my "fleas" and know that the "testing of my faith brings patience."