Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 High/Low

Oh 2009, you were most definitely an interesting year.  I'm glad to wave good bye to you and say hello to 2010. 

  • High: Chad was finally able to gain decent control over his Type 1 diabetes.  He's much more healthy and better able to take care of himself
  • Low: Critical low blood sugars.  We'll always have to deal with them, but it's nice that they are few and far between
  • High: Finally learning to coupon successfully.  I'm ashamed to admit that I've tried this so many different times and failed miserably.  But now I can do it with a small margin of savings.  
  • Low: The amount of money I wasted before couponing and paying attention to the cost of things.  Sigh.
  • High: Watching Clayton change from a baby into a boy.  How does that happen in 365 days?
  • Low: Knowing I'll never have these days back with Clayton.  Time is passing so quickly and I don't want to miss a thing.
  • High: Seeing Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho from the front seat of a Nissan Quest.  That trip was so much fun.  I hope to be able to do it again one day.
  • Low: Driving in endless amounts of road construction in Yellowstone in a Nissan Quest and being severely out numbered in the boy to girl ratio.  If it wasn't for Amy I would lost all of my marbles.
  • High: Learning how much people care about our family and want to see us thrive.
  • Low: Unfortunately we had to hurt to learn all of these things.
  • High: Positive pregnancy test
  • Low: Positive for Full Trisomy 18
  • High: Johanna
  • Low: There is no low for this one, only a high.
2009 was hands down the hardest year of my life.  I obviously don't know what the Lord has in store for our future.  I know He has great plans for me.  I have learned a lot this year.  And even though I have had to hurt to learn all of these lessons I can say that it's all been worth it.  I don't know why God chose Johanna and T18 for our family, but He did.  I'm glad I didn't know this was coming on 12/31/08.  But I'm glad I'm going through it on 12/31/09.  It's crazy how different things are in the span of a year.  It's crazy to think how different I am now.  The goofy silly girl is gone(maybe not completely).  I feel like I've aged 15 years during this past year.  And that's OK.  It's the experiences of our life that make us who we are.  It's the things that God gives us that shape our character.  And with each passing year, I'm one year and day closer to my eternal home.

So bring it on 2010.  Let's see what you have to offer.  I'm sure there's a lot of pain, but I'm sure there will be more joy.  I expect some tears, but I expect more laughter.  I'm sure to see some hurt, but there will be more healing.  There will be disappointments, but there will be excessive triumphs.  It's gonna be a great year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Picture Overload

I know I said that I'm glad Christmas is over and I am, but I would still like to share a pic or 2(or 10) from our Christmas.  It really was a great Christmas.  It was fun to enjoy everything with Clayton.  He understood a little more this year about what was going on.  He had boxes and boxes of toys and mainly loved the paper.  It's really is the simple things.


Christmas Eve chillin' in a tree tent(that was quite difficult to assemble).

More Christmas Eve cheesin'.  See that red truck and trailer?  We've carried that everywhere since he got it last Wednesday. 

A classic Christmas pose

Playing with that same truck but now we've added a cornbine(yes I know it's a combine but there's a certain someone who calls it cornbine and I happen to like that).

Clayton's Christmas loot before the madness began.

This is how I found him sleeping on Christmas morning.

You need a side story before the next few pictures.  We have a 7 month old puppy that chews on everything when Clayton is around.  When he's not here she chews on nothing.  Weird.  Because of that and because Clayton has no door on his room(because there was a sliding pocket door there instead of a normal door when we bought this house double weird) there is a baby gate at the doorway to his room to protect his toys.  I took the gate down and let him wake up on his own. I also set his milk just inside the door so it was ready for him(this boy is addicted to his milk first thing in the morning like a lot of people are to coffee).

First glance of Christmas morning.

What is all of this?

Loving the stove that I had to fight so hard to get.

This is what Chad did all Christmas.  Assemble.

That same truck again.

An awesome tricycle from Mawmaw and Pawpaw.  We're still working on that whole pedaling thing.

You would never know but there is a banjo inside that wonderful wrapping job.  Way to go Andrew.

Told you there was a banjo(and a box of Cheez-Its)

Yes Clayton got a Clayton sized guitar for Christmas.  We're still working on form and technique.  Now him and his Mawmaw can serenade us with bluegrass.

After the present mayhem at Chad's parents house Clayton was buried in wrapping paper.  And he loved it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Adios 2009

I am so ready for 2010.  I'm not wishing my life away, I'm just ready for a change.  It seems like the changing of the calendar represents a clean start.

I won't lie to you, 2009 was a hard year.  There was so much more to sending Johanna to be with Jesus than just her death and funeral service.  There were a lot of emotions, thoughts, and ideas that I had to, and still am, working through.  I'm always amazed at God's timing.  Had I known 365 days ago all that 2009 would hold I don't think I could have done it.  But God always sees fit to send things our way on His time table.  And I think it's nice to not know what's coming.

2009 didn't just have hard days(and there were a lot of them).  There were also some very happy times as well.  The Nissan Quest in Wyoming is a joy I will never forget.  Chad buying me 3 different kinds of mascara for Johanna's funeral is something I will never forget.  Opening our glass door and have it crumble in my hands is something I will never forget.  All of these and so many more things bring belly rolling laughter.

Even though I don't want to relive 2009 I am more thank thankful for all that it has taught me.  I'm thankful for every experience God has placed in my path. 

What will 2010 hold?  Only time shall tell.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009 is Over

And for that, this one person is extremely thankful.

I'll just be real with ya, I completely dreaded Christmas this year.  I knew the entire holiday would bombard me with thoughts of missing Johanna.  And since everything is still so fresh I wasn't sure that I even needed yet another reminder of how much I missed my little girl.  But we survived.  If I recall correctly I only had 1 really sad episode.  I was looking over Clayton's loot a few days prior to Christmas to make sure he had what I thought was enough presents.  And in true mommy fashion I decided he needed just a little more and had to add 1 more thing to the pile under the tree.  But as I looked at the large pile of plastic toys, I became a little wistful for Johanna.  It would have been awesome to have matched my babies in Christmas clothes, attempt to take a decent picture(you know that's not happening with 2 little ones), showed off my little girl at Christmas gatherings, and of course give her some totally wicked girl toys. 

But then I think a different way and remember where Johanna is and what she's doing.  And then I don't miss all of those things quite so much.  Of course I miss her.  I always will and I imagine each holiday or special day will always serve as a reminder of the things I'm not fortunate to have with her.  But I know she's so fortunate to miss all of the junk the rest of us in this world have to deal with every single day.

I'll never forget Chad's reaction to the T18 diagnosis.  Very calmly and quietly he said "Everything's OK".  I was so mad at him for saying that to me.  How in the world would anything be OK ever again?  I didn't know at that point how Chad could think in such a way.  I obviously feel differently now.  And even Christmas, the biggest holiday on the calendar was OK.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Big Big Big Big Big Big Big News

I apologize for the incredibly long bloggy break.  Christmas week is an insanely busy week.  That's behind us now(and I'm really glad but that's another post for another day).  I do here by solemnly swear to be a better blogger in the future.

I have an exciting announcement(if you couldn't tell from the title).

Drum roll please...............................................

I have been given the opportunity to speak at the Ladies Conference our church is hosting January 15th and 16th(insert big WOOT!!).

The theme of our conference is "There is a Fountain".  You probably know the hymn very well.  It just happens to be one of my all time faves.  I am so excited to be able to speak about the last year of my life and all the things God has done for me.  My glorious speech(insert laughter here) will be focused around Johanna and how God has used her to forever change our lives.  The conference will also give me an opportunity to talk about "Johanna's Gift" and my love for the Caldwell Pregnancy Care Center.  I'm excited to be able to tell of the PCC's ministry and hopefully other people's eyes to the work they are doing there.  And on a side note Johanna received a lot of Christmas monies that are to be given to "Johanna's Gift".  WOOT!!  I've decided to use another hymn about fountains as my jumping off point.  I'm not gonna tell ya which one just yet because some of my loyal readers(all 7 of you) will be attending the conference and I don't want to spoil the surprise.

I'm thankful to begin to see a way for God to let me tell Johanna's story.  And really what mommy doesn't want to talk about their babies?  When we found out about Jo's T18 I never asked God to heal her.  I knew He could if He wanted to and that would have been great.  But I also believe that God has a sovereign plan.  I just asked that God use Jo's T18 for His glory.  It has been my personal desire to share her story with the entire world.  I want to tell everyone how God's love can provide peace and comfort.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to tell others about the things God is doing in and through me.

Now I just have to find something to talk about for a few minutes.  That should't be too hard for me.  I might have to find a way to be quiet at the end of my talk time.

One more thing, a shameless plug.  If you live in the Western NC area and want to attend the conference.  You certainly may.  We still have some seats available.  The cost is $25.  The admission fee includes Friday and Saturday conferences and lunch on Saturday.  I would love for you to come.  Shoot me an email and I'll get you the deets if you're interested.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Sorry I've been absent for the last few days.  I've been a little busy with all of the Christmas festivities.  I did want to share my favorite Christmas scripture with ya'll.  It's not really Christmassy(insert air quotes here).  But I can't help but think of this Psalm when I think of God's gift of a Savior.

O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! 
who hast set thy glory above the heavens. 
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, 
and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; 
thou hast put all things under his feet:
All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
Psalm 8



MERRY CHRISTMAS
CHAD, NIKKI, and CLAYTON
 

PS:  Johanna has already learned of the extent of God's excellence.  Merry Christmas baby girl.  We love you and anxiously await the day we meet again.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Lotta Food Pics(and1 or 2 of Clayton)

Being that today is my last day of maternity leave and church services were cancelled because of the Great Snow 2009 I decided to cook an awesome(at least in my estimation) dinner.  I cooked turkey for the very first time ever.  Because the turkey was actually edible and somewhat good I thought ya'll might like to take a look.  Just humor me if you will.




 The turkey(as if you couldn't guess).  It didn't burn, wasn't dry, and actually tasted like turkey.



  I also made gravy(yes the real kind, no I didn't open a can like usual).  I have only recently learned how to make gravy.  Since I'm southern it has to be some kind of regional crime to be 27 and just now able to make gravy.
 

  Here's my plate of goodness, just for the fun of it.



I also made an apple pie that Chad and I will devour shortly.  It's not from scratch though.  I'm not that good yet.  I did open the pie dough box and Chad opened the can of apple pie filling.


And in true couponer fashion(which I am loving by the way) I saved ALL of the leftovers and they are taking the deep freeze as we speak(or type, whatever).  Wanna see?  I thought so.

The leftover turkey will become turkey pot pie down the road.  So absolutely easy to make, and it's very good too.

The chicken stock I used in the bottom of the pan will become Mexican Chicken Soup later on down the road.  Also an incredibly easy meal to make.

These are the left over mashed potatoes.  I've never frozen mashed potatoes before so we'll have to wait and see how this turns out.  I use leftover mashed potatoes to thicken potato soup.



This is what I caught my boys doing while I was cleaning up.  I'm assuming that Chad is teaching Clayton how to dance to the electric piano demo music.  Precious.



And one of a sneaky boy just because I think he's cute.

So that what was I did on this cold, snow filled, last day of Maternity leave.  It's back to the salt mines(or doctor's office) tomorrow.  I can say that I am more than a little excited.  I really do enjoy my job.  Also, I'm hoping to get back into a routine.  I don't feel like I've been in a routine since April when we found out that Johanna had T18.  I'm more than ready for a little normal.  OK, I know normal never exists in this world, but you get the point.

Christmas Movies

Well since we're still snowed in here in the southeast I thought I would tell you my favorite Christmas movies.  Let's make a list shall we.  These are no specific order of my favorite.

  1. A Charlie Brown Christmas
  2. Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer
  3. Prancer
  4. The Family Stone
  5. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
  6. The Polar Express
  7. Fred Claus
  8. Four Christmases(I know some of you, and you know who you are, didn't like this movie, but I thought it was hilarious)
  9. How the Grinch Stole Christmas(the original and the remake both equal to me)
  10. The entire Santa Claus empire.  I think there's like 10,000 of them by now.
But my favorite by far is "A Christmas Story".  I just love Ralphie and Randy.  TBS plays this movie for 24 hours solid starting Christmas Eve.  I think I could sit and watch over and over for the entire 24 hours.  The leg lamp, the bunny suit, and the Santa.  This movie has a little of every thing in it.  I can't wait to see it again this year.  

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sigh

I DO NOT LIKE SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For all of ya'll that live way up high I just don't know how you deal with this mess all the time.  I live in the North Carolina.  The part of NC that I live in rarely sees a heavy snow fall.  Except for 2009.  1 weeks before Christmas.  Why now?  I realize that I shouldn't be complaining about the snow.  The water's great for the water table, and come summer we will be praying for much needed rain.  But right now I just don't like snow.  I can make a list of all the reasons I don't like snow, and I think I will do just that.

  1. It's cold
  2. Where we live everything comes to a screeching halt when there is snow.  
  3. I'm a planner, and the snow really messes with my plans
  4. It's wet, and last but not least
  5. It's cold
Honestly there is nothing I like about snow.  Well, maybe 1 thing.

I do like to see sweet boys up to their knees in fun.
 


As you can see we.......OK well the boys(I'm not going out in that mess) didn't stay out there very long.  It's too cold.

I have a prime example of why I strongly dislike snow.

Here we have Exhibit A.  You will notice there are 2 truck in the picture above.  The one on the far right is actually in our YARD!!!  That's right peeps, not in the driveway, in the yard.  We don't normally drive in our yard.  OK, on occasion Chad will but that's another story for another day, and if we had a circle drive he wouldn't have to drive through the yard.  Chad's brother dropped off some deer meat.  Due to circumstances unbeknowest to me this delivery must take place tonight during the worst winter storm in years.  As said brother was trying to leave he accidentally(and it really was an accident) slid off into the yard.  After much attempts to retrieve the truck from our yard a kind wayfaring stranger extracated the truck from our yard.  It's safely on its journey home.

And just think we were taking Clayton to Tanglewood tonight to see some awesome lights.  Oh well.  Maybe another time.  I think I'll go sulk.  Or eat more Christmas candy. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Houston We Have a Problem

Well is it really a problem if you(you being me) think it's a good thing?  And if you can make sense of that sentence you're much smarter than I am.

Around the first of November, Mom suggested that we start using coupons to help offset the cost of groceries(which are ridiculously expensive in my humble opinion).  Since I've been out of work, and have kinda needed a little something extra to do(ya'll know why) I said sure why not.  So we started.  I'm nowhere near as good as these guys: Kelly, Myra, and Southern Savers.  But I am learning.  Along my coupon quest I have discovered one fundamental problem.  How in the world am I supposed to organize all of those blasted coupons, and still be able to find them when I need them.  After much distress and despair, OK that might be overstated just a little, I think I've found a workable solution.  I have progressed from the original accordion file to a COUPON BINDER!!  What you don't know what a coupon binder is?  How could you not know what a coupon binder is?  Have you been like living under a rock man?  Actually I didn't know what one was until just a few days ago.  And now I have one.  Wanna see?


First off, we have the coupon binder at a glance.  A simple non assuming zipper notebook.  Or is it?


 
 
Oh the treasures that you hold.  I like it because you can see all of your coupons at the simple turn of a page.  Hopefully no more standing in the grocery store aisle sorting through all of my coupons because I found an awesome unadvertised special.  I do make a list and pull out all the coupons I think I'm gonna use before I ever leave the house.  But sometimes you just have to sway from the list to buy that 5lb block of cheddar chesse that you're gonna get for .13 cents.  You just have to.

And we even have a special pocket in the front for my CVS Extra Buck thingies.  I'm still trying to figure this CVS thing out.  I admit I'm more than a little confused by it, but I'm learning(I hope).

So will the COUPON BINDER(you really must shout it from the roof tops), be the way to do?  Is it the start of a renewed love affair with my coupons?  I'll have to let you know after I test drive it at the grocery store.


OK, now it's time for a little grandparent indulgence.  Gram and Popa(aka my parents) are out of town this week for a much needed vacay.  So I figured they were probably missing their little red head.  Here you go guys a few pictures to get you through until Sunday.

When my 'rents go out of town, we dog sit Mattie(the large bulldog on the left).  Mattie is Clayton's BFF.  In fact Clayton's hand is currently rammed down Mattie's throat.  I'm not sure why, but it's a common state of affairs.


Cheesin' just for the fun of cheesin'.


Don't you wish you could play the piano in your Dr. Seuss pajamas and look this good? 


Movin' to the groovin'.  He loves the demo music, knows where the button is, what the button does, and how to dance with said button(thanks Popa).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

That Answers So Many Questions

I admit it I need to lose a few(or a lot) pounds.  In my Internet quest to look for some satisfying yet healthy recipes I somehow stumbled across this website This Is Why You're Fat.  I'm so glad that somebody finally answered my questions.  I've been wondering for years why I tend to uhm......retain a little extra water(that's what I'm calling it anyway).  If you have a spare moment please head on over to this site with your culinary mind left open.  You won't be disappointed.  I promise.

The "Scotch Mega Egg" looks like a must try(actually I almost tossed cookies.....gross). 

I didn't know bacon and twinkies had that many practical applications.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Missing

I'm missing my JoJo today.  I selfishly wish she were here.  I wouldn't bring her back for anything, but my mommy heart still misses her terribly.  I can't wait until that day when I get to be with her again forever.



Even though I miss her I know she's safe with Christ our redeemer forever. 

I miss you baby girl.  I wish I had the right words to express how I really feel, but I don't.  I can't begin to  imagine what your day is like today.  Soon we'll be together again, and will be able to worship our Lord forever.  I love you sweet girl.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Take That!!

Alabama has its first ever Heisman Winner.  The very young(he looked like a baby to me) Mark Ingram won the honors last night.  He cried and then I cried(I'm a sap).  It was a very sweet moment for him and his family.

 Now on to the National Championship.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Watch out......

.....Moravians here we come.

At the moment I'm coming to you live from the crackberry. I'm on the church bus, captained by our fearless leader(that'd be Chad) and we're headed to Old Salem. For those of you not fortunate to live in the great state of North Carolina, Old Salem is an old school working town/village/community/whatever.

Our yutes(that's what I call them) had to earn their trip today. Every year they have the opportunity to earn what we call "Disciple Points". They earn their points by exhibiting good church attendance and learning good church habits. It's our prayer that the things they are learning will stay with them as some of our peeps start to enter adult hood. I am proud to say that all of our kids have earned their trip this year. Because of the timing of the trip they weren't all able to come, and we miss all the ones that aren't here. Chad's also gonna throw in some church history today for good measure. I'm sad to say that I don't know near as much as I should about church history so I'm hoping to learn a little as long as there isn't a pop quiz later.

So we're headed to freeze our noses off, but I'm hoping there are some Moravian cookies coming my way some time today.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Woot!!

This week we received the first of hopefully many gifts for "Johanna's Gift".  That's super exciting.  The amount was enough to provide a diaper bag for 1 precious lady.  That means this new mom will be getting some much needed baby supplies and most importantly hearing the precious truth about our Savior.  I don't think I can express how much I just love this ministry.

Yesterday I was able to go to the Caldwell Pregnancy Care Center for a few different reasons.  First, I needed to drop off the gift card that one of my besties had given to "Johanna's Gift".  Second, I very gladly gave them all of my maternity clothes.  Chad and I do want more babies sometime in the future.  However, we need a break for now.  We've had 2 babies in 21 months.  And well, ya'll know how interesting the second one was.  So we want to take some time to heal for now.  Anyway, I don't really want to see these maternity clothes again.  They have a lot of memories and reminders in them.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I'm ready to start healing and moving on.  And some reminders I don't want around, and the maternity clothes happen to be one of them.  And third, I was hoping to speak with the center's director Ms. Fran.  And I was able to.  She gave Mom, Clayton, and me the grand tour. 

It was awesome to see how this operation works, and how they use their resources.  The ladies in their classes receive vouchers to "purchase" things in their store.  They earn the vouchers by attending classes, parenting and what not.  They can also earn extra vouchers if the babies father comes with them.  It's a pretty neat system.  There are no handouts.  These ladies have to work for their vouchers.  I just love that because it instills a sense of pride in what you have.  As for myself, the things I've worked hardest for are the things I appreciate the most.

There are so many people around us that are hurting, empty, and don't know where to turn.  They don't know that Christ is the answer they are looking for.  CPCC shows the ladies there is a better way.  Christ has already done everything for us.  He's already paid the price.

(Super jumbled I know, but it's early)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Who's A Dork??

Yeah that would be me.

Chad, Clayton, Jesse(my bro whom you can follow here) took lunch to my grandparents today.  Grandaddy's 69th B-Day was yesterday so we decided to try and do something nice for him.  I had made Mexican Chicken Soup last week and stashed it away in the freezer for just such an occasion.  So we loaded up my tee tiny little car with all 4 of us, and all my lunch supplies.  Things went swimmingly until we decided it was time to leave.

Because my car is tiny, and it really is quite small, Chad decided to put my bag with the bowls and what nots in the trunk.  I tried to open the trunk with the keyless entry thingy(what is that think called anyway?) and it wouldn't work.  I didn't think too much about it because my car does have a few years on it(that's a lot less expensive than driving a newer car), and sometimes when you drive an older vehicle things just don't work quite right all the time.  I thought, no biggie I'll just unlock the trunk manually and we'll be on our way.

Or so we thought.  I got in the car, turned the key...........and............nothing.  Apparently someone(that may or may not have been me) forgot to turn off the lights when we got to my grandparent's house.  And so in the few hours that we were there my battery went kaput.  Never fear.  Chad and Jesse quickly moved my car into position, Grandmother provided jumper cables, and we were good to go in less than 5 minutes.

What's the moral of the story? 

  1. Always turn off your head lights when you turn off the car.
  2. Always surround yourself with peeps that love you and want to help.  Even if they do laugh at the crazy things you do.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Church Signs

I love me a little humor thrown in to my every day life.  That being said, I just love church signs.  I think they are so funny.  Here's a list of my faves.

  • Sign broken, come inside for message (I get the meaning, but this one always confuses me.  If the sign were truly broken then you wouldn't be able to put anything at all on it now would you.)
  • What's missing from CH  CH.....UR(The first few times I saw this line, I thought the sign maker must have had a seizure while hanging the letters and dropped a few.  I really didn't get it for a very long time)
  • Visitors Welcome, Members Expected(Uhm.........I've got nothing for this one)
  • Always remember that Hell is uncool(I'm assuming this one is trying to reach the Gen X and Y)
  • If you're wrinkled with burden.......come in for a Faith lift(and one free Botox injection in the fellowship hall immediately following the service)
  • Never throw dirt.....you always lose ground(unless you're trying to dig to China)
  • You try making something half this great in just 6 days(I personally think this one is hilarious)
  • Worship is a VERB(thank you Captian Obvious)
  • Soul Food served here(We got a pot of greens, black eyed peas, cream corn, sweet potato pie, cornbread, and fried chicken, all yours for a $7 donation)
  • Laugh a lot: Especially at yourself(Especially at church signs)
  • Happiness is an inside job(I really don't get this one)
  • Filling Station(Again I get the meaning, but I can only think of Exxon when I see this one.  Seriously, are there gas pumps out back because that would save me some time.)
  • Call 911........the church is on fire(hahahahahahahahahahahaha)
  • Jesus is coming .....are you REDE(get it red "E"....ready  That's clever........not)
  • Looking for a sign from God?  This might be it!(Or maybe not..............lay out that fleece Gideon)
  • Bring Bible, Scissors(This is seriously how the sign was written, and I seriously don't get it at all)
And since Christmas is swiftly approaching, here are few with a seasonal slant.
  • Jesus is the rizzle for the sizzle(Taking an urban twist)
  • Christmas Eve Program: Dancing with the Stars of Bethlehem (I'd like to see the dancing pair match up)
  • Midnight Service and Toga Party: B.Y.O.B.J(Bring Your On Baby Jesus) (I'm not sure that I want any part of a church sponsored Toga Party, I'll just use my imagination)
  • If you're one of the politically correct we hope you sharpen the tip of your holiday tree and fall on it(I'm pretty sure the church sign maker at this church was NOT asked to resume their position the following year.)
I hope you enjoyed our little renezvous into church sign humor.  Good times.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Chapel Door

In keeping with family tradition, my fabulous younger brother has started himself a blog.  I'm so absolutely excited about this. Jesse and I have always been super close.  However, he got all of the wit and all of the brains.  He is seriously one of the funniest people I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  It's disgusting at how intelligent he is.  I mean it's great for him, but disgusting for the rest of us.

If you're into "tipping sacred cows"(his words, not mine) then check him out.  This is how Jesse describes his blog: "Sometimes the idols we love need to be destroyed, theses' need to be posted, and heretics need to be burnt.  This is a place for all of those things to happen."  Our whole immediate family is a bunch of right wing fundy nut jobs, so don't expect anything different from Jesse either.  So, if you're into that kind of thing go to The Chapel Door .

Enough shameless plugging for one day.

Oh......a really cool thing happened yesterday.  We've kinda sorta started working with Clayton on potty training.  While I was getting ready to go to the grocery store Clayton walked up to me and said "I pooped".  And sure enough he was right.  I was so excited I immediately sent a text to my Mother.  Is that strange?  Probably, but I was excited.  Maybe we'll be diaper free by the summer.  I'm giving us a long time because I've never done this before and I don't know what potty training is like. 

Friday, December 4, 2009

Johanna's Gift

(First a back story, and this is gonna be lengthy)

Last summer I had the privilege of hearing the director of the Caldwell Pregnancy Care Center speak at one of our ladies Bible studies.  At the time I was absolutely amazed by the organization.  They are a Christian, pro-life organization that ministers to ladies that find themselves in a crisis pregnancy.  They encourage the choice of life, and not abortion, and also present Christ to each of the ladies.  It really is an amazing ministry.  I was personally surprised to learn about how needed this ministry is.  I had thought of this ministry often and had at one point prayed that the Lord would show me how my family and I could be a blessing to them.  Little did I know what the Lord had planned for us.

One day while I was talking with Mom, I revealed to her my ongoing fear that Johanna will be forgotten by everyone but me.  As the conversation progressed I also revealed my desire to use Johanna's story to minister to other.  She suggested the Caldwell Pregnancy Care Center, and suggested contacting them to see if there was a way that we could be a blessing to them.  With Mom's help(actually she did all of the leg work for me), we have been able to find a way to work with the Caldwell Pregnancy Care Center.

Each lady the center ministers to is given a diaper bag that contains very basic but very needed baby supplies.  Things such as diapers, wipes, an outfit, a pacifier, and bottles.  These are things that I personally took for granted when Clayton was an infant.  We have been given the opportunity to help the center financially by providing a portion of the funds necessary for these diaper bags.  The bags will include a short version of Johanna's story, and hopefully her picture.  They are going to call the diaper bags "Johanna's Gift".

This is the version of Johanna's story the ladies will have in their bags.

"Our daughter Johanna Raye Carswell was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 at 13 weeks gestation.  Trisomy 18 is an incurable chromosomal disorder that is termed "incompatible with life".  The only "option" for a child diagnosed with Trisomy 18 is termination.  We believe that every baby is a gift from God, and ending her life was not an option or even an afterthought for us.  We chose to continue her pregnancy and our daughter was born on October 23, 2009.  She lived 63 precious, wonderful, and priceless minutes.  Her short life forever changed us.  Johanna continues to teach us many lessons about God's grace, mercy, and love.  That is Johanna's gift.

I wanted to share this with ya'll since you've walked this journey with us.  I'm thankful God is still teaching me how to give.  I'm thankful that He's still using Johanna.  Even though she's praising Him, He is still using her here on Earth to minister to others.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Who Am I Kidding?



I couldn't do a wordless post if my life depended on it.

These are the pics I was trying to upload yesterday.



"Uhm.........I think we got caught"

"Who cares if we got caught.  It's so much fun to play with the dog while I take a bath every single night.  Mom, please don't tell Dad, you know he'll freak out."

"Toast tastes better is it enters the body through osmosis."

"I wonder if anybody would notice if I opened just one?"

I know I said that I would post something about JoJo today, but I'm still working on the wording of a few thing.  Tomorrow I promise to introduce you to "Johanna's Gift".

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It Was Supposed To Be.........

....................a Wordless Wednesday, but Blogger is being kinda screwy and I can't seem to get the pictures to load.

I do have a really cool something or other to post about Johanna and how her life will be used to minister to others.  I've gotta check one thing, and then I'll share that with ya'll tomorrow.

Have a great one!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

I finally got my tree put up tonight.  I say finally, because I usually get it done the day after Thanksgiving.  After our Black Friday shopping extravaganza I just didn't have the energy.  And then on Saturday our youth choir sang at a festival in near Blowing Rock.  When all that was said and done it was later than we had planned when we finally got home.  Yesterday was Sunday, and you know how busy that is.  And to top it off, Clayton and I had to leave church after Sunday School due to an unexplained high fever(his, not mine).  He's almost back to his normal self today, so I have no idea what was going on.  I'm just glad he's feeling better.

Today I was able to finish all but 3 of the people on my Christmas shopping list.  I'm super excited.  I'm never ever this close to being finished with Christmas shopping this early in the season.  Usually I'm just happy to even have a start by now.  I guess some time out of work has helped to speed things along.  Mom and I have also been able to finish up our angel tree child and children's home child and get a few little things for a family in need.  It's been so much fun to shop for someone else.  Don't get me wrong, I love buying for Clayton.  But there's a different joy that comes from helping someone who truly needs what God allows you to provide. 

All in all, I think I've done pretty well with the start of the Christmas season.  I did have two moments today that made me think about Johanna with both sadness(only for me) and joy(for both her and me).  Mom and I had picked out some super steals at The Children's Place for all the kids we were buying for and I found myself wondering what it would be like to pick out a Christmas outfit for Johanna.  I am that mom who would match all their kids for the itchy uncomfortable picture.  And later this evening I had another moment where my thoughts returned to Johanna and how much I miss her.  Again I am that mom who has a matchy matchy tree.  I do red and silver.  Over the summer I had 2 ormanents made for my babies.  One has Clayton's name on it with his birth year, 2008.  The other has Johanna's name with her birth year, 2009.  I hung those 2 ornaments on either side of the large silver "C"(for Carswell, aren't I clever).  It was bittersweet for a lot of different reasons.

There are times that I wish for more of her.  But there are times when I think I got the right amount of her.  So now, late this evening, I'm missing my baby. But, at the same time I'm so thankful that she is safe with our Lord.  She will have a better Christmas than I could ever dream of having.  She is forever with the Christ of Christmas.

I hope your Christmas is starting off with a bang.  I love this time of year. It's crazy busy but so much fun.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Yup........I Did It

I hit the mean streets this morning at 4:15am with my hubby.

I go Black Friday shopping every year, but I rarely hit the very early sales.  In fact I've only ever done it one other time. But Chad(after much begging) and I decided to lose our minds this morning.  We hit up Walmart in Hickory first and marked a few things off my list.  Walmart had some super deals on TV's today.  We aren't in the market for a TV but a lot of our fellow shoppers were.  There were elbows and TV's going everywhere.  After Walmart we hit up the mall.  I was so excited for some great Children's Place deals, but I didn't find anything Clayton couldn't live without.  I had one sweater in my hand, then decided that it wasn't worth waithing in a line about 73 people deep for a $10 sweater.  We also hit up JC Penney and Belk while we were at the mall.  And in the process knocked another person off of my shopping list, and got a start on another.  After the mall we went to Dick's(boring), but we knocked yet another person off of our list, and since I had a coupon Chad was able to get something too.  And then we stopped at the grocery store.  The dog was out of food and the sale price at BiLo was cheaper than the regular price at Walmart.  Once we were done at the grocery store we hit up yet another Walmart(the one in Morganton).  I was able to finish off yet another 2 people there and get a 3rd almost finished.

Now we're home waiting on the Alabama/Auburn game to begin.  Needless to say I am very tired.  We had a lot of fun though.  All in all it was a very productive day.

Tomorrow our youth choir is singing at a kiln firing up in the mountains.  I expect it to be............cold.  It should be interesting on this piano player's fingers.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Survey

Last week at our monthly ladies Bible study we were given this survey.  I really enjoyed it, and wanted to share it with ya'll.  I believe by now, you know how much I love a survey.  I just love lists, they are so orderly.

1.  Think back over the fast 10 years.  What are you the most grateful for during that time period?
     Chad, Clayton and Johanna, Family, Friends, Our church, A very blessed life
2.  Now think back over the past year.  What are you most grateful for during that time period?
     Ooh that's a tricky question.  I guess, with everything Chad and I have faced in 2009 I'm most grateful for
     for God's love, grace, and mercy.
3.  Now what about the past week?  What are you most grateful for?
     Beginning to feel more like the old Nikki.  God's still working on me, and teaching me how to live this            new normal.
4.  The following verse says "O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever.  1 Chronicles 16:34.  Name a way that God has been good to you lately.
     He lets me wake up every day in a life that is more wonderful than I could have ever dreamed.  I have a
     handsome hubby, and a cute red headed little boy that love me unconditionally,and a dark haired little girl
     waiting for me in heaven.  And on top of that, I have a family that love me for who I am, not what they
     want me to be.
5.  Name 2 physical or monetary blessings you've received lately.
      Getting an unexpected check in the mail.  The amount wasn't much, but who doesn't get a little excited
      when you get that kind of nice surprise.  And, learning to coupon.  I'm hoping soon I will actually start
      seeing my savings add up.
6.  Name 2 spiritual blessings you've received lately.
     I've had so many more than 2, but if I had to pick I think I'd chose: God's grace to walk through this
     current season in my life and still have joy.  And, through T18, the opportunity to learn more about myself
     and God.
7.  How often do you give praise to God?
     Not nearly often enough.  I must say that I am way behind in the praise department.

8.  Do you think God is pleased with how you praise Him?
     I want Him to be, but I'm sure that He's not.  He's working on me and teaching me.

9.  Name someone that God has placed in your life to be a blessing to you.
     Too many people to name.  My husband and entire family.

10  Now that you have reflected on how God has blessed you, choose a person this week(even during the busy holiday season) and be a blessing to that person.  

Here are a few ideas:
  • Send someone a card to encourage them
  • Take someone a batch of cookies or fresh baked bread
  • Make dinner for someone
  • Visit a lonely or elderly person
  • Send someone flowers just for the fun of it
I truly hope you have a great Thanksgiving day with your family.  Remember all that God has done for you and be thankful for all of those things.  I could post a lengthy list of all the things that I'm thankful for.  Most of all I'm thankful for God's love.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Blind Side

As you know yesterday was Chad's b-day.  We always try to do something fun on our b-days.  It doesn't have to cost a lot, but jsut do someting that we enjoy.  Chad and I decided to see a movie last night, and it was a good one.  Our church moved Wednesday evening service to Tuesday for this week because of Thanksgiving.  We decided to hit a late showing of the movie, which is great because no one is there.  Also, we left the little man with my 'rents.  I just don't think a 21 month old is quite ready for a 2 hour movie that starts after bedtime.

On to the movie.  "The Blind Side" is based on the true story of Michael Oher.  If you're a frequent reader then you know how much we like football, sepecially college ball, and even more especially, SEC football.  Michael Oher is a young man that grew up on the wrong side of the Memphis tracks.  Through much begging and pleading of a friend's father and the school's football coach, Michael was able to get into a private Christian school.  Through a serious of events Michael caught the eye of quintessential southern mom Leigh Anne Touhy.  Her and her husband befriended Michael, took him in to their home, and raised him as their son.  Eventually Michael was allowed to play football on the school's team.  After learning the ropes he became the start of the team, and was in time noticed by college recruiters.  Michael was recruited by Ole Miss(too bad Alabama couldn't get him, sigh).  In this year's NFL draft Michael was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round draft picks.  There are a lot more details to the story, including some controversaries that were in time eliminated.

It was a great movie and definitely worth a watch in my opinion.  It's just too bad he didn't play for Alabama.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Drumroll Please.........................

Today is Chad's B-Day.  He's 29.  Not 29 and holding, just 29 for the first time.  I always love that he's older than me.  It makes for great teasing.

Happy Birthday to my best friend, love of my life, and the one that brings out the best parts of me.  I'm thankful for the day God created you, and then for the day the He gave you to me.  I hope your b-day is great, wonderful, and fun.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Coulda....Shoulda....Woulda

It's been one month today since we said both hello and goodbye to Johanna.  In some ways it has flown by.  But most of the time I feel like I am standing still, just watching the world go by.  It's a strange feeling.

I woke up this morning with this thought on my mind.  If Johanna had been a normal, healthy little girl, what would my days be like?  They would be filled with changing diapers, making and washing bottles, changing clothes, giving baths, rocking her to sleep, and changing more diapers.  We would have been going through a serious amount of diapers since Clayton is still in diapers.  Instead today I'm going to buy groceries, make a lasagna for dinner, and then read.  Clayton is hanging out with his Mawmaw(Chad's mom) and Aunt Jamie today.

I hesitated to put this next part on here, but for the sake of transparency I might as well share.  I also, and I guess selfishly, wondered if anybody else besides Chad and me would remember that she would have been a whole month old today.  I don't say that to try to get anyone to feel sorry for me, or for anyone to think that I've been forgotten.  That's not the case at all.  It was just a thought I had.  I was just wondering who Johanna had touched, and if they remembered her today.  Even though my little girl is in Heaven now, I'm still a Mom.  And Mom's miss their babies when they aren't around.  I miss Clayton right now, and he's only about 2 miles away.

OK, enough bemusings about coulda, shoulda, woulda.  God has been very gracious to me. Even with Johanna, He gave me more than I could have ever dreamed with her.  I am one of the fortunate T18 Moms that got to hold and cuddle my baby before the Lord took her with Him.  So, even on the strange days(it's not a hard day, just a strange one) I am blessed.  I have my salvation, and that provides me with the privilege of spending eternity in Heaven with my JoJo, worshipping and praising our Lord together.

And somebody special(not me) has a b-day tomorrow.  Check back in tomorrow, and we'll embarass them.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Let the Games Begin

I absolutely love Christmas.  I do wait until the day after Thanksgiving to put up my tree and other decorations.  And since that day is just a week away, I'm getting really excited about decorating everything.  I think it's a lot of fun.

Clayton will be 2 in February, so I'm thinking that this Christmas will be even more exciting than last years.  Last year he was just excited to tear paper and not get in trouble for it. 

After much begging on my part, Chad and I decided to get him a kitchen for Christmas.  Clayton loves to help and play when I'm cooking or messing around in the kitchen.  Our kitchen is really big and laid out kinda funny, so we have plenty of room in our kitchen for one of the smaller toy kitchens.  I have been looking for the best deal for about a month now.  A certain store(which shall remain unnamed because I don't want to offend anyone) put out their before Thanksgiving sales.  To my glee, there was a coupon(YAY!!) for $20 off a play kitchen.  I saved the ad and the coupon.  I didn't buy immediately, because I wanted to wait until after the Black-Friday ads came out to see if any other stores were going to have one cheaper than this particular store.  After all the stores that sell toys put out their ads, I determined that this store was going to have the best deal, and I should go ahead and get the kitchen and mark that huge item off of my Christmas list.  Here's where the fun begins.

Tuesday evening, Mom, a friend, and myself went to Hickory to get the kitchen and a few other things.  After much searching I enlisted the help of a rather unhelpful associate.  He couldn't find the kitchen.  In fact, he didn't even know what I was talking about.  Maybe he works in automotive and was just filling in for the toy department that day.  Anyway, after I showed him the add and explained again what I needed, and that no a pink wooden kitchen just wouldn't work for a little boy, then he had an epiphany an knew what I needed.  He looked it up on his little scanner gun thingy, and wouldn't you know they were out of stock.  But, I was told that they would be getting a toy truck shipment that very night, and I could call back in the morning to see if the kitchen was in stock.

I called back on Wednesday.  I first talked to someone in customer service that again had no idea what I was talking about.  After explaining the entire situation again she tells me that the toy truck doesn't even come in until Friday.  Growl!!  I asked to speak to the manager, not because I was upset or angry, but I just wanted to know if they would honor my coupon if that precious kitchen didn't come in before their coupon expired.  The manager ever so politely tells me that they can't issue a rain check, and they will not honor a coupon after the expiration date, even if it is their fault the toy isn't in stock.  I was told to order the kitchen online.  I looked online, and it isn't an online item.  Way to go customer service.

I called back to the Hickory store this morning.  I get to speak to another very, shall we say, helpful, customer service associate and I ask her if the kitchen has come in.  And once again I had to explain the entire story in detail.  After she asks me what the item number is, and I tell her that I have no idea what the item number is.  And hello, why would I know the item number of a plastic kitchen just off the top of my head?  I work for a surgeon, not Fisher Price.  She proceeds to put me on hold...............forever.  When she comes back on the phone, she tells me that no they don't have it, but that the Gastonia store does.  Would I like their number?  Why yes I would.

I call Gastonia, and get another customer service rep. Who hires these people anyway?  They have 4 kitchens in stock as of 9:15 this morning.  Fantastic. I ask them to put one on hold for me, and I will be there late this afternoon to pick it up.  Fail.  They apparently can't put a hold on toys this time of year.  Are you kidding me?  I bit my tongue, and said that I would be there anyway this evening with my coupon in hand to buy that kitchen. 

Who knew that Christmas shopping for a 21 month old would be this stressful.  What's it gonna be like in 10 years when he want the newest Nintendo that hey only made 4 of for the entire southeast?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Just Thinking

Yesterday, Chad and I went to Johanna's grave for the first time since her funeral.  It was a surreal experience in a lot of ways.  The casket spray was still lying on the ground so I picked it up and threw it away.  Then, I replaced it with a dozen fresh mini orange roses.  I also noticed that her temporary marker had already been placed.  I don't know what I was expecting, but it had her name and birth/death date on it.

I have always enjoyed walking through a cemetery and reading the headstones.  I think you can learn a lot about how a family feels about their loved ones by what they chose for their headstone.  After we finished at Jo's grave site we stopped by their office to ask about the requirements for getting a headstone.  The lady gave Chad some pamplets and the basic information. 

I know that only my daughter's physical body is placed there on the side of the road across from the rock quarry, but in some way it made me feel closer to her to be there.  I guess since her funeral was the last "thing" we did for her, then its just nice to be near that place.  I don't want to spend a lot of time at her grave because I want her life to be about life, and not about death.  But to me there is a calm and a peace found in a cemetery.  I have always felt that, and I don't really know why. 

Yesterday, in the cemetery, the Lord gave me renewed calm and peace about Jo's life and her ultimate homegoing.  I still don't know all the He has planned for me and all the ways that He will use her life to reach other people.  But, I'm so thankful He chose Johanna for our family.  I can now honestly say that I would do all of this again.  I'm grateful that He chose me to be her Mom.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ladies Conference 2009

It's shameless plug time.

Our church is hosting a "There is a Fountain" ladies conference extravaganza 1/15/10 and 1/16/10.  It's incredibly inexpensive(cheap) at $25 per ticket.  This price includes a snazzy boxed lunch on Saturday(and a drink too).  If you've ever been to a ladies conference then you know that $25 is ultra cheap.  We still have tickets available if you haven't been able to get yours just yet.

Carol Kent is our keynote speaker.  Ms. Kent has written several books, and has an amazing story to tell of God's grace, mercy, love, and peace.  You can find out more about Carol Kent by googling(that's a great word) her or go to her website: carolkent.org We also have other speakers and so much more lined up for that weekend.

My church is located in the large thriving metropolis of Lenoir, NC.  That's about an hour west of Charlotte, NC.  If you live within driving distance and are at all interested, shoot me an email and I can hook you up with all of the deets. 

Thanks for letting me do a shameless plug.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Blah, Blah, Blah

Yes, I am still around.  I know you were wondering.  I just feel like I've been incredibly busy.  I've not really been, but when you still require a lot of rest then alittle seems like a lot.  I don't really have anything exciting to tell or say today.

So, I think I'll go start dinner now.  Maybe tomorrow I'll have something worth blogging about.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Next Thing

It's been 3 weeks since we both met, and then a little over an hour later, said "see ya in a little while" to Johanna.  At times that day feels like it was literally moments ago, and at other times it feels like it's been years. 

I ran across a quote from Elisabeth Elliot today that spoke volumes to me.  Elisabeth Elliot was the wife of missionary Jim Elliot.  Jim Elliot, along with 4 other missionaries, was visciously murdered by a group of Acua Indians.  After her husband's murder, Elisabeth and their daughter Valerie, continued their work with the Acua Indians, eventually having a number of their ladies live in their home.  Through God working through the Indian ladies that lived with Elisabeth, she was able to eventually live in the Acua village.  Elisabeth was so open to what God was doing in and around her that she witnessed and ministered to the same fierce group of people that had killed her husband. 

How does a person, especially a wife and mother, do that?  How did she see this needy group of people as God saw them?  How did she look past the pain that they had caused her and see their great and tragic need for a Savior?  I have no idea, but she did.  She was able to see the big picture.  Our hurts, and the the tragedies of our life aren't about us.  Sure, they affect us in a way that is sometimes hurts beyond words.  My heart hurts so bad sometimes that I feel like it might break clean in 2.  But Johanna's life and death aren't about me.  It's OK to hurt and to experience the hurt.  But it isn't about me.  It's about an almighty God that loves me.  It's about turning all of my praise and worship back to Him.  Elisabeth Elliot was able to see this, and because she was able to see this, God used her to witness to a ruthless group of people.  One lady reached an unreachable group of people.  That's amazing. 

I'm still praying that God will help me to look past me, and show me how to minister to those around me.  To see others as He sees them.  To see others as someone's mother/father/son/daughter/friend/aunt/uncle/grandparent/neighbor.............etc.

This it the quote that I mentioned above: "Sometimes, life is so hard you can only do the next thing.  Whatever that is, just do the next thing.  God will meet you there.".

God is helping me "do the next thing". 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What a Day!!!!!

So, apparently my favorite lappy has been infected with the swine flu, or a deceptive anti-virus scanner that really isn't an anti-virus scanner, but is actually a virus after all.  If you can't trust your local hacker then who can you trust?  I maybe have it off now, if now then the lappy will have to go to the hospital(Dad's house), and have a cardio-version(be formatted).

Also today I helped Mom get Chad's Christmas present, put 2 suits and his Christmas present on lay away, get my hair chopped and stained, have lunch with my parents, eat canoli for the very first time(YUM!!!!!), and have a very long heart felt soul wrenching talk with my Mom. 

It's been great and now I'm tired.  Gonna get the wee one in the little bed, and then head to the big bed myself. 

More intelligent things to come tomorrow.  Stop laughing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Even Now

I finished a book yesterday titled "Even Now".  It was a book about love and redemption that is both lost and found.  I woke up at 6am this morning with this on my mind.  What do I know.........even now?  Not much, but there are a few things I know for sure.

  • Even now, when my heart is breaking I know my God loves me.
  • Even now, when I am unlovable(hard to believe I know), my husband loves me.
  • Even now, when I feel completely alone, I have a wonderful group of family and a few close friends that are doing everything in their power to make sure I know I'm cared for and thought about.
  • Even now, God is teaching me more about love and compassion than I ever wanted to know.  He's slowly melting my cynical, skeptical, heart of stone.
  • Even now, I see God using Johanna to still work in my life and in the life of others around me.
  • Even now, I know my God will never leave me.
  • Even now, I'm God's child.
  • Even now, my daughter is safe with the Father.  Of course I miss her, and my arms feel empty without her.  And at this point, nothing can replace that feeling.  But, I wouldn't dare speak of bringing her back to me.  She is having the best eternal day praising and rejoicing our Lord.  It certainly would be nice to be there with her.
  • Even now, I wouldn't change anything since April.
  • Even now, I would make the same decisions again.  I would carry my baby girl to term and cherish all 63 of her precious minutes.
  • Even now, I'm thankful God gave her to our family.  I'm thankful I have a daughter.  And I'm thankful I'll be with her again one day(hopefully sooner than later).
Even now.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Dad's Words

Today I as I was trying to conjure up something to blog about I was reading through some of my recent old posts.  I was reading the ones that related to Johanna, and got to linking, and linked to my Dad's blog.  Somehow, I missed this post in those first few days after she was born.  My mind still isn't functioning properly, so I'm missing a lot still at this point too.  Anyway, I wanted to share this with ya'll.  These are the words my Daddy used to describe his granddaughter.  These words are so precious to me.  I'm a self proclaimed Daddy's girl.  Always have been and always will be.  I hope you enjoy these words from a grandfather as much as I did.  Thanks Daddy, love you very very much.

Yesterday, we both met and said goodbye to our granddaughter Johanna Raye Carswell. In her birth we saw the Lord answer several specific prayers; in her death we have experienced His all-sufficient, amazing grace.

Our family has known about Johanna’s condition since April. During that time, we have sought to educate ourselves about Trisomy 18. So, when the time came for her to be born, we were under no illusions that she would be here long. We knew that she would have several profound, and ultimately fatal, physical issues. We knew that her life could be a few minutes or a few months. We knew that Trisomy 18 is a fatal condition in 100% of cases.

While we knew all those things, any many more besides, we still sought the Lord and His will in the matter. We asked Him to allow her to be born alive so her mom and dad could spend some time with the daughter God had blessed them with. We asked God that He so work in her little body that her physical deformities would be minimal. We asked God that she be spared from suffering and pain after she was born. God answered every one of these prayers for us, and we praise Him for that!

Nikki and Chad were blessed with 63 special minutes with Johanna. We were told that Johanna would have clubbed hands, she did not! She had beautiful, long fingers. While she definitely exhibited some clear signs of being a Trisomy 18 baby, she was absolutely beautiful to us. When the time came for her to leave us behind, she passed from earth to Heaven quietly and peacefully. God has been so gracious to us!

While we are saddened that we could not keep Johanna with us; we are rejoicing in our heavenly hope. We know where she is. We know she is well today. We know that we will meet her in glory someday. We will miss the many little, and big, things that mark the life of a baby girl who lives to adulthood, but we rejoice that Johanna has been spared the pain and heartache of this life.

Dad's blog is here  and his website is here if you want to check him out.  His entire site has a lot of great Bible study helps, and he's a fantastic writer.

Monday, November 9, 2009

How are You?

That's such a loaded question right now.  Dad has a funny answer that goes something like, "my parents were therefore I are".  OK, so it's much more funny when he says it, possibly because he says it correctly and I'm just attempting a horrible imitation.

In all seriousness(or whatever happens on this blog) I've been asked this a lot in the past weeks and even months.  Sometimes the answer comes easily, and sometimes the answer is the most complicated thing in the world.  Since I don't know "how" I am, I guess I could share "where" I am.

I have the incessant desire to stay ridiculously busy.  Physically, I'm healing from the c-section really well.  It takes time, but that is doing great.  I still have to rest a lot.  Mom and I have started trying to learn to save money at the grocery store by couponing.  This takes some time, so I can stay busy doing that.  I've almost completed my Christmas shopping list.  I'm ready when the time comes to buy.  I've never been this ready for Christmas in my life.  My house is the cleanest it has been in months.  Chad has done a great job keeping things going, but it just isn't the same as doing it myself(I'm Type A remember).  The laundry is caught up.  And I'm well acquainted with everyone on Food Network.  Usually I would say there aren't enough hours in the day to get it all done.  And usually that's the case.  But right now I seem to have extra time.

So, I'm adjusting to a new season in my life.  It's the season after sending your child back to the Father.  It's the season of relearning how to function.  It's the season to gain a new appreciation of the fragility of life.  It's the season of taking extra time to stack blocks with Clayton.  It's the new season of trying to fit into my clothes again.  It's the new season of crying over everything and nothing all at the same time, and not being able to explain to anyone what you're really crying about, but knowing that you're just missing your baby.  And then all at the same time praising the Lord that your baby is with Him and free from this world.  If you aren't confused now, then just bless your heart.

I have no idea "how" I'm doing.  You would have to ask Chad to get an honest answer. Go ahead and ask him, he'll tell you the truth.  Chad doesn't mince words........ever.  But, this is "where" I am.  Learning and experiencing so many new things.  I'm still thankful for what the Lord is doing.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Today's Agenda

It's another day where normal is creeping back in.  Chad tells me that this has to happen, and I think he's right. 

It's a pretty average Saturday for us.  We were busy running errands this morning.  This afternoon we're watching the Alabama vs LSU game.  Roll Tide!!!!!!!!  And tonight we're going to dinner with some of my family.

All the emotions, thoughts, hopes, prayers, and what not aren't returning to normal yet.  But that's OK.  I'm trying to be lenient on myself and give it time.

"He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be."

Friday, November 6, 2009

More Johanna Pics








I just thought I would share these with you today.  All of these pics are from Johanna's first 20-30 minutes of life. 

I can finally lift Clayton today, so we're gonna spend the day together doing Mommy and Clayton stuff.  You know, grocery store(why am I always there), Walmart, changing diapers, and stacking blocks.  It's gonna be a great day.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Oh Bla Di, Oh Bla Da................

..............la la how the life goes on.

It almost seems unfortunate that life doesn't get to go into pause mode after something "tragic".  It's crazy to me how things are starting to return to the most normal state they've been in months around our house.  Don't mistake that for any semblance of real normality, because we never ever have that.  There are bills to be paid, groceries to be bought, baths to give(and take), Christmas coming soon to think about, floors to be swept and mopped, a puppy to try to house train(not going so well), and hopefully very soon(for Chad's sake) dinner's to be cooked.

It seems like everything keeps moving on, but there's a part of you(or me or whomever) stuck. I want to start moving on and begin the healing process in all respects.  But, I'm so afraid I'll forget something import about Johanna.  Her picture is hanging on the wall and sitting on the dining room table, and her memory box is full of sweet, beautiful memories.  I'm still afraid that, with time, I'm gonna forget something.  Because I don't get to build a life time of memories with her like I do with Clayton I want to remember, in detail, absolutely everything about Johanna.

I know this is simply part of the process of grieving/mental healing, and I must deal with it.  Even better than that I know that I can conquer this.  Romans 8:37 says "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us."  These things being all the things listed in versers 35 and 36.  That list broadly encompasses anything and everything we will face in life.  Because Christ loves me, and died for me, I am already a conqueror.  With His help I can do this.

Just my mutterings for for what I'm dealing with today.  I've always wanted to be real, honest, and transparent.  I'm still trying to do that even now that things hurt a little more than they have in the past.  I want Christ to be glorified, and His name to be praised.

I'm going out for a little while with my Mom.  We're going to try a little more money saving(we're both slightly obscess at this point).  I have a Christmas present(or 2) I am going to buy for a certain redhead.  If it goes as well as I hope, maybe I'll share the deals with you so you can get this too if you would like.  Hope your Thursday is great.  Thanks for being my personal therapist for the day.  You've been wonderful and much less expensive than someone with a PhD.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Did It!!

Even though it's only been a few days since Johanna went to the Lord, there are other parts of our life that still go on.  It's been hard for me to mentally keep up with those parts, but yesterday I made a valiant effort(at least in my estimation).  I went to the grocery store.  It doesn't sound like a great accomplishment, but I feel like it is, so I wanted to share it with ya'll because you've been here from the beginning.

I have tried couponing before, but I always get frustrated.  I don't save what I think is an adequate amount of money to justify the amount of time it takes to clip those coupons and research where the items are on sale.  Since, I have a little extra time on my hands I, with much help from my mother, decided it was time to try again.  So, yesterday in between running errands to the pharmacy and my office, "discussing" with AFLAC about getting my short term disability claim filed correctly, and having a mental break down on my husband about hanging and rearranging pictures, I went to the grocery store.  And yes, I was very tired yesterday evening and glad I don't have to go anywhere but church this evening.

In taking a cue from Myra, Kelly, and Mom I took a picture of my purchases for you.  Aren't you excited??  I know you are.  I was excited when I swiped my debit card.



I spent $43 on all of these items, but I saved $17.  My total before the store's advantage card and my clipped coupons was $61(there was some change in there making the total closer to $17 and not $18).  I would have stroked if I would have had to pay $61, but somehow $43 sounds a lot better.  The only things that I bought not on sale, and without a coupon were the 2 Dt Mtn Dew's, 2 Dt. Sun Drop's, the pack of chicken legs, and the loaf of bread.  2 of those items were necessities(yes our soft drink addiction demands that keeping well stocked on these items).

Later on last night I was blog hopping and ran across a link to get 100 postcard for only the shipping cost of $6.  They have Christmas designs, so I just designed one, paid my shipping fee, and my Christmas cards should be here in 3 weeks.   If you'll just go here, then click on Holiday on the left side of the page you can find everything you need.  I hope this works out as well as it looks like it will(and I'm not out $6).

I know it's not a lot of savings, and the super coupon clippers would probably be very disappointed with my progress thus far, but I'm super excited.  It makes me want to try again.  I think I will.

And on a totally unrelated, but still "I Did It" moment of the day.  My wedding rings fit again.  I was so excited to be able to slide them on easily yesterday morning.  YAY for small accomplishments!