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


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: 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 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!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Short and Sweet

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.  It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compasions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is they faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him.
Lamentations 3:21-24

I need these words for myself today.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Days After

I had tried to think ahead about what the days after Johanna's passing and funeral would be like.  I knew there was no way to prepare myself, but I thought maybe I could brace myself for what was coming.

Friday through Monday were the easiest days so far.  Tuesday of last week wasn't very bad, because I was so tired.  I had to sleep and rest all day.  I want to be very honest for my sake, becuase I don't want to forget what this journey has been like.

Clayton came home to stay(he had been mostly staying at his grandparent's house) on Tuesday evening.  It was absolutely wonderful to have him home.  Soon enough I will be able to pick him up again.  Can't wait!! 

I remember waking up Wednseday morning feeling very empty.  I don't say that to mean that my husband, my family, my friends, or most importantly my Lord had abandoned me. That couldn't be farther from the truth.  Put simply, I felt like a part of me was missing.  And I guess, in a way, it was.  I had the privilege of having Johanna with me for 9+ months.  March through October.  We spent the spring, summer, and early fall together.  You get used to feeling those kicks and rolls.  And just like I missed them after Clayton was born, I missed them after Johanna was born.  I can say that for today, at least this hour, I don't feel empty.  It's a feeling that comes and goes.

It's amazing when you experience a loss, and I would venture to guess a loss of any kind, how your emotions play tricks on you.  The big things I can handle.  Walking through the baby section to buy Clayton diapers, not a problem.  Talking to a pregnant friend about how she's feeling, not a problem.  Losing a round of Phase 10(a really fun card game that Chad and I discovered recently), and I have a total meltdown.  Why?  I felt like a total failure in every aspect of my life.  I know not that's a totally ridiculous jump, but that's how I felt.

I have never had the opportunity/privilege to send a child back to the Lord.  Clayton was given back to God before He was born, but I get to keep him with me for a while.  I get to experience all the joys and heartbreaks of parenting with Clayton.  I had to give Johanna back before any of us really knew her.  I say that to say this.  I only weep for me, and I only grieve for me.  I miss my baby girl more than words can express, but I wouldn't bring her back to me for any price.  I know what she's doing today, and that makes me smile.  I wish Chad, Clayton, all of our friends and family, and myself were there with here.  But, I do not wish she was here with us. She's far better off with our Lord than she is with me.  Even though I still miss her terribly.

So now we're at 10+ days since Johanna was both born and went to live forever in Heaven.  How are we doing?  That's a loaded question and the answer depends on when you ask.  Right now, I'm a solid OK.  The Lord has been very gracious and merciful to me.  I am fortunate enough to experience wonderful peace.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sweet Boys

I'm gonna take a Johanna break for today.  Tomorrow I'll get back to the rest of the week, and getting that all documented for my sake.  But, I got the best picture last night, and just had to share it.

Since, I had somewhat major surgery just a little over a week ago, Chad has had to do almost everything with Clayton.  Not that he minds of course, but I'm still fortunate to have a hubs that is capable and even better willing to do all of these things when I just can't.

Last night we went to dinner with my brother and SIL.  We had an amazing time just laughing at our ding dong waiter(he really was quite special), and enjoying all the silly things that Clayton manages to do.  Clayton fell asleep in the car on the way home, which is quite unusual for him.  When we got home, and Chad got him changed into his PJ's, he was having no part of going to bed.  Which is also quite unusual for him.  He normally goes to bed very easily.

Chad decided to read him a book.  That's not something we've started before now.  There's no particular reason why we have not been reading to him at night, it's just not been part of the bedtime routine.  While they were reading I was getting a few things together for church today.  When I walked back by Clayton's bedroom, this is how I found them.

They surprise me and make my heart melt every single day.