Saturday, December 22, 2007

Our new deck is on!

No time to write, but here are some pictures to give you an idea what it looks like. Too muddy now to get pictures from below. Also, as you can see, our camera is really starting to go downhill. Arg.

BTW--Today I'm 30, which is pretty strange. I don't know really how to describe it. I'll post some highlights later.

Our new deck is on

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Very Sad News

Last night at 10:30pm, Luke Benjamin Michael went home to be with Jesus. He was almost 5 months old. Please pray for his parents, Rachel and Paul as well as the rest of their family and friends. Please also remember our friends Justin and Holly who also lost their newborn baby Luke to HLHS this year.

Here is the last entry from their blog...

"The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a child will lead them." Isaiah 11:6

Luke Benjamin Michal suffered a lethal arrhythmia last night and passed away.

Born: 07/21/2007
Died: 12/19/2007

Me again...

This year has been such a year of grieving. Praise the Lord that he says their will be laughter as well as weeping and that there is a time for both. For now we weep and we wait on Jesus in hope, knowing that when he returns all things broken and hurting will be restored and whole again. Please Lord, come quickly.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Our baby's 2

Clara turned 2 on Thursday! We had a small party for her with just the five of us and it was the best birthday party I've ever done for the kids. It was so simple and quiet. Even the kids liked it better. She got her very first baby doll, which she named "Baby Doll"--smart girl. If you click on the picture below, it will take you to a series of photos from the event. Merry Christmas!

Christmas Cookies and Clara's 2nd Birthday

Here are some more pictures from two years ago. What a beautiful Christmas present.

Wow, Daddy. You have some big hair.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Recent pictures of the girls

These are far from impressive shots, but I figured the family out there was tired of seeing text and not faces. ;)

Here's Janie with her pony. She named her Princess Strawberry Beautiful.

Here's Clara. Nothing in particular going on here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tubes went well

We got to the hospital yesterday at 6:15am, and we were both pretty tired. Dana was pretty worried, but brave. We played toys and waited for the nurse to call him back. Eventually, they gave him some tylenol and something else that made him loopy. He was pretty funny. While we were waiting for the doctor in the little triage room, Dana saw SUPER WHY come on the TV. Evidently, he was frustrated with his inability to see straight, because he made goggles around his eyes with his hands to see better. The nurses and I were cracking up. Dr. Barnes, our new ENT, came to talk to us and before we knew it the whole thing was over. It's a pretty quick procedure. We were in and out of the hospital in three hours flat, our shortest time yet. Dana was a little dizzy for awhile, but over the course of the day he went back to his normal energetic self. I'm so thankful I got to go with him this time. There aren't a lot of times when I get to have uninterrupted snuggle time with Dana.

Dana at 5:45am ready to go, with is Ducky to make him brave

Drawing on the floor in his room at the outpatient unit

Dana, beginning to feel pretty loopy, on his way to triage

Again... loopy, heading for triage

Back home again, resting with Daddy

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Three times a charm

Well, the ENT scheduled Dana for tubes on Thursday. The left ear drum has negative pressure, so much that his ear drum was sucked in against his bones. The right ear drum was bulging and filled with fluid (thus the pain). In both cases, his eardrums aren't allowed to vibrate correctly and it's resulting in hearing loss. Thankfully, the hearing loss is temporary. Somehow they can test his choclear (sp?) nerves and they said his long term hearing should be fine.

Please pray for Dana, if you think of him. He's really anxious about the tubes and about the whole ENT thing altogether. Despite multitudes of gummy bears and lots of jokes, Dana didn't like his doctor. Although he's been through all of this a few times, he's totally forgotten about it and he's really worried about people poking and prodding in his painful ear.

And... if you think about it pray for Matt. He came home today feeling sick too. I'm thankful that I got over the worst of it before they got into the worst of it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's that time again...

Clara has a 102.4 fever, goopy infected eyes, sore ears, and a horrible croupy cough. Jane is lethargic, coughing and clingy. We've all been sick, but for some reason, the girls are getting worse instead of better. Dana has an ENT appointment tomorrow, due to his recent terrible ear infections. He has some residual pain, which doesn't really have an explanation. After two tube surgeries and two years of very few ear infections, it's back to the ENT we go. Poor kids. I think we'll have to try to squeeze the girls into the pediatrician either before or after Dana sees the ENT. Sigh.

WARNING MEN: ovaries being disussed below...

I also seem to be getting a series of ovarian cysts, probably follicular cysts, if my guess counts. Every month, just around the time I should be ovulating, I have pain on one side or the other, and only for half a day. I guess the pain is from the cyst rupturing. There are other symptoms too, but I'll leave it at that. I think what happens is that the follicle that surrounds the egg is supposed to rupture at ovulation and release the egg. In some cases, the follicle doesn't rupture, but builds up fluid and then eventually ruptures, causing pain and messing with your hormones (Matt can attest to this). This is supposed to be pretty common in women under 40, so it's no big deal, but I'm curious to see what my midwife says. Usually, they put you on birth control pills, but that's the last thing I want to do.

Other updates:

We closed on a mortage refi on Thursday! Our house appraised for 130,000 and we were able to take out a bit of money to pay for work on the house. We have people lined up to replace the roof, build a fence and deck, tear down two nasty trees, and level part of the back yard. We also need to hire someone to repoint the majority of the foundation, finish the laundry room, and trim out the rest of the house. In short, we're finishing this baby! And I want you all to know that when we finally finish the last project, we'll be throwing the biggest party the Monahan house has ever seen and you're all invited. ;)

We did sell the Bosch craigslist washer/dryer set for a profit and we got a GE frontloading set with much better capacity and cleaning power. We got a great deal and only spent $150 over the amount we got for the Bosch set. No more upheaval in the laundry room, at least not for awhile.

I promise I'll post kid pictures soon. I need to find our camera batteries. I have a feeling they're in someone's toys...

Thanksgiving Menu

I love Thanksgiving, and now that I'm responsible for cooking the meal, I love planning out every detail. Here's what we're having.

Turkey (stuffed with garlic, sage, apples, and onions/breast lined with garlic and sage)
Stuffing (cooked outside of the turkey)
skin-on mashed potatoes
cranberry-apple sauce (Katie-style)
sweet potato casserole
potato rolls
(sorry Katie, no green bean casserole this year... you're not here to eat it)
sparkling cider

pumpkin pie
cranberry apple pie
pumpkin bread

Mmm. I can smell it already.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Last night

we were at the light on Main and Broad and a shiny, hopping, hooptie pulled up next to us. The guy in the driver's seat was really getting his groove on. He was practically hopping himself, pantomiming the words and in a hip hop trance. Matt and I couldn't help staring and smiling. Then, Janie's little voice breaks the spell... "That boy really likes his music!" Amen.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Our maple tree gets it's first colorful leaves!

My favorite Fall tree is the maple tree. They're so vibrant and beautiful.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

For the dog owners out there

I bought something this week that has revolutionized my relationship with Bailey, which was speeding downhill at a breakneck speed. Come to find out, most labradoodles are known for their high energy levels. She is also hyper, spazzy, quick to bark for attention, and known to eat food off of the dinner table and counters. Lest I convey the wrong impression, I should list her attributes too. She's gentle and protective with the kids, very loving, house-broken, and incredibly smart. It's just that the negative things about her have been driving me so crazy, I couldn't really enjoy the good things about her.

Finally... I bought a "gentle leader". It's a painless harness that snaps behind her ears and loops up around her snout. The two loops connect underneath her throat, with a short strip that connects easily to a leash.

The result is amazing. She doesn't yank me down the block or pull me down the front stairs on her walks and she hardly barks anymore. It's like the difference between a horse with or without it's bridle. She's focused, calmed, and submissive, at least most of the time.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

So I was standing at the mailbox today...

and I saw four cars in a row slow down to get a glimpse at our house. It was awesome and so encouraging.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Dave Ramsey

This month, we are trying something different, in the hopes that we will change the way we spend money. Matt borrowed THE TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER, by Dave Ramsey and he's going to take over the finances. He drew up a monthly and yearly budget and it was pretty scary. As a result, we're cutting our costs here and there and we're going to start saving as big a chunk of money as we can each month. Here's a list of other things we're doing to cut costs.

--less driving around with kids and more walking to the playground and/or playing in the backyard, which saves gas
--less meat at the table, which won't kill us... we barely bought any when Matt worked at CCS
--shopping at Aldi first, before Walmart
--no eating out
--not running water while we brush teeth, only to rinse the toothbrush
--homemade Christmas presents for the kids: I want to make them a doorway puppet theater and I'm going to make them each their own special gigantic hooded towel
--$5-$10 birthday gifts, bought or homemade
--we're selling our super Craigslist deal of a Bosch washer/dryer set and buying a large capacity top-loader instead (less loads, less work, less money spent on energy)
--yard sales! I went to a huge neighborhood one at Mission Glen and got lots of great stuff and some alone time with Dana
--driving the speed limit, especially on trips (saved us a wad of cash last time we went to Kentucky)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A song from the funeral

There were some beautiful old gospel songs sung at Rich's funeral. One of them has been in my head constantly. I keep singing the chorus over and over again. It's simple, but so incredibly true and so beautiful. Here it is. I think the Gaithers' sang it (wrote the lyrics?) and Wanda Jackson wrote it (the music?).

Because He Lives

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

And then one day, I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict'ry,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Finally, more pictures of the house...

This weekend, my family requested that I update my house pictures. Here you go. Enjoy. Only one of the windows is entirely finished and there are still many touchups left on the posts, but you get the idea.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

bad news

Last Saturday, after a very busy and hectic weekend, I got a call from my mom at about 10:30, just after Matt walked out the door to go to Infradig's last show. She called to tell me that my uncle Richard died earlier in the evening (Sept. 22, 6:10pm). Most people ask me, "Were you close to him?" It's a complicated answer. He was my mom's older brother and I spent a lot of time with his family when I was little and we still see them at least once a year. His sons are like my older brothers, pranks and all. Some of my best memories were made in his company. My aunt Sally, his wife, was probably the aunt that I'm closest to. Both of them loved the arts. Aunt Sally plays the cello and the piano and Uncle Richard was an amazing baritone. Holidays always included Uncle Rich's booming voice, my cousin Charlie's violin, and Aunt Sally's talents on the piano. Everyone else sang along and savored every minute. My uncle Rich was also an amazing cook. He was the first person to introduce me to mojo criollo (sp?). My apologies to those of you who've never tasted it on your thanksgiving turkey. When Uncle Richard was in a room, he filled it, and yet, he was gentle enough that my children snuggled up in his lap to hear him read to them. I write this, the evening after his funeral. I'm in shock. Rich's death was so sudden. Squinting into the glare of the evening sun, a 17-year-old boy pulled out in front of Rich's motorcycle and Rich died instantly. This isn't to say, that his death was an accident as far as it concerns God's sovereignty. God took him home, regardless of how. Still, my grandparents are without their only son, my aunt is a widow, my three cousins have lost their father, and countless others of us who loved him dearly are suffering. I don't pretend to feel the depths of hurt that my mother or my grandmother feel, but when someone you love dies it's hard not to feel sucker-punched. Of course, the comfort is in knowing that Rich is in Heaven, happier than we know. We love a God who understands the pain of death, who lessened it's sting. I'll probably post more later. Right now, my benadryl is kicking my mental butt and I think I'll head to bed. Please pray for our family and sorry for the stream of consciousness blog. I'm too tired to be organized or well spoken.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

First Curves Report

Yesterday was my first weigh-in since I joined Curves at the end of May. As I said before, the weight hasn't really changed
(-.5lbs). I did lose 5.5 inches all over and I lost 1.7% of my body fat. My arm measurement gained an inch, which is interesting, because the kids have made a big deal about my "big muscles" everyday that I go to Curves. They always want to see them and they always think my biceps are a little bit bigger than they were an hour earlier. It's pretty cute. I love my little peanut gallery. Matt's been super supportive too. He's the one who has to manage pirana hour at our house while I dash out the door twice a week and he's been very encouraging and quick to compliment. All in all, this has been very good for our family. It's forced us to be more organized and it's helped to reinforce the importance of staying healthy with the kids. I don't think you have to spend the money and do Curves to accomplish that, but this has worked well for us and I'm thankful for the option.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Janie at her best ;)

Janie started doing this when Clara was tiny. She's definitely a Monahan!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

because it was cooler today...

I made a whopper of a dinner: roast beef, potatoes, gravy, peach pie. I should have made carrots too, but I ran out of time. I have been really down lately, but I was pleasantly reminded why I love to cook. It gives me such joy. I feel like what an artist feels like when they finish a beautiful painting. Beautiful, yummy goodness to eat and enjoy, because I labored in the kitchen... It's so fruitful (pardon the pun) and so rewarding to see my little brood smile with full drippy mouths.

If you're at all interested, I found a really yummy way to make roast beef. Buy a bottom round roast or a top sirloin roast (less fat) and put it in a crock pot. Pour a can of beer on it. Then top it with cracked pepper, sea salt, garlic powder, and onions. Let it slow cook all day (hi-4 or 5 hours/low-8 hours). When it's done it should be very tender. You can take the broth and shake 2T of it up in a small jar with 2T of flour. Then put it in a small pan and add more broth. Stir over low heat until thick and add salt and pepper to taste. Voila! You have easy delicious gravy. It's not so scary after all.

Oh, and here's a little, very uninteresting Curves update...
I haven't lost a pound yet, and maybe I never will. As long as I feel healthier, I won't worry about that. I do think my posture is much improved and my insomnia is almost non-existant. My clothes are fitting better and they don't feel so uncomfortable, which is a huge relief. It's hard to be chipper when your pants are riding up, know what I mean? ;) I'm also really starting to love the little high I get after a workout. I come back home ready to work and pumped about my life--funny, huh?

General update...
I'm on the warpath with discipline. Ooo that sounded so bad. I mean I'm on the offensive. I made up a bad @#! behavior chart and the kids are getting stickers for all kinds of things that I have to nag them to do: brushing teeth, washing hands, putting dishes in the sink, picking up toys, using manners, making beds, etc. They get stickers for everything on the chart, when they do it, which has been very motivating. At the end of the week, if they have "Lots of Stickers" (which is enough for them now), they get 10 pennies for allowance. One penny goes in the offering plate (which they're excited about) and 9 pennies go into their piggy banks. So far, they're really excited and in two days the behavior is much better than it was before. Way less whining, very few spankings... All in all, it feels like a whole lot of progress.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

spend your money in a way that helps the helpless

Keri posted a link to Rahab Ministries on her blog. I've never heard of it before today. Evidently, it's a ministry to women who are prostitutes and/or sex slaves in Thailand. Rahab Ministries takes them in and teaches them about Jesus, while building their job-skills and helping them to be independent. The women are taught to make jewelry and you can support the ministry by buying this jewelry (it's very inexpensive) online. Here's the address. They also sell handmade cards ($1.50/ea).

Monday, August 27, 2007

Copied from Willa, Contemporary Segregation

I just learned about a case of segregation-era oppression happening today in Jena, Louisiana. I signed onto's campaign for justice in Jena, and wanted to invite you to do the same.

Last fall in Jena, the day after two Black high school students sat beneath the "white tree" on their campus, nooses were hung from the tree. When the superintendent dismissed the nooses as a "prank," more Black students sat under the tree in protest. The District Attorney then came to the school accompanied by the town's police and demanded that the students end their protest, telling them, "I can be your best friend or your worst enemy... I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen."

A series of white-on-black incidents of violence followed, and the DA did nothing. But when a white student was beaten up in a schoolyard fight, the DA responded by charging six black students with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

It's a story that reads like one from the Jim Crow era, when judges, lawyers and all-white juries used the justice system to keep blacks in "their place." But it's happening today. The families of these young men are fighting back, but the story has gotten minimal press. Together, we can make sure their story is told and that the Governor of Louisiana intervenes and provides justice for the Jena 6. It starts now. Please join me:

The noose-hanging incident and the DA's visit to the school set the stage for everything that followed. Racial tension escalated over the next couple of months, and on November 30, the main academic building of Jena High School was burned down in an unsolved fire. Later the same weekend, a black student was beaten up by white students at a party. The next day, black students at a convenience store were threatened by a young white man with a shotgun. They wrestled the gun from him and ran away. While no charges were filed against the white man, the students were later arrested for the theft of the gun.

That Monday at school, a white student, who had been a vocal supporter of the students who hung the nooses, taunted the black student who was beaten up at the off-campus party and allegedly called several black students "nigger." After lunch, he was knocked down, punched and kicked by black students. He was taken to the hospital, but was released and was well enough to go to a social event that evening.

Six Black Jena High students, Robert Bailey (17), Theo Shaw (17), Carwin Jones (18), Bryant Purvis (17), Mychal Bell (16) and an unidentified minor, were expelled from school, arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder. The first trial ended last month, and Mychal Bell, who has been in prison since December, was convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery (both felonies) by an all-white jury in a trial where his public defender called no witnesses. During his trial, Mychal's parents were ordered not to speak to the media and the court prohibited protests from taking place near the courtroom or where the judge could see them.

Mychal is scheduled to be sentenced on July 31st, and could go to jail for 22 years. Theo Shaw's trial is next. He will finally make bail this week.

The Jena Six are lucky to have parents and loved ones who are fighting tooth and nail to free them. They have been threatened but they are standing strong. We know that if the families have to go it alone, their sons will be a long time coming home. But if we act now, we can make a difference.

Join me in demanding that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco get involved to make sure that justice is served for Mychal Bell, and that DA Reed Walters drop the charges against the 5 boys who have not yet gone to trial.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Please pray

You may not know them, but Paul and Rachel Michal just had a baby boy a two weeks ago. He was born without the left side of his heart and although his surgery went well, he flatlined yesterday evening for a brief period of time. Their treatment solutions are limited and he isn't doing well. This is their first child, the result of years of trying. Please lift them up in prayer today and pray that God would heal this little baby boy. They are in Egleston (sp?) Hospital in Atlanta.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Then... dog update

So far so good with the new doggy. Clara and Bailey are best friends and double trouble. Clara loves to boss her around, pretend to take her for walks, sit on her head, and hook her up with forbidden goodies. Bailey very patiently puts up with all of the above, I guess in the hopes that she'll eventually get hooked up with the forbidden goodies. We really need to fence in the yard so she can run around and spend some puppy energy, but for now all is well. We love having her with us.

Life with Bailey

First... house progress

Despite many exhausting trips to Porter Paint with kids in tow, this week has been very encouraging. Every day the house looks better than it did the day before. If we finish this soon, this project will be the first project on our house that has ever been finished. Every other job we've done has some annoying details left hanging. We're hoping to see this one through.

Here is the house as it is this morning. I'll post another picture or two later today. The railings, pictured are the railings that Matt built, using salvaged wood from the old porch. They'll be pretty swanky looking when they're painted. The pillars will eventually (today?) all be the white/blue combo that you see below. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Another Bailey

God seems to have a sense of humor about all of this. I've been searching for another dog each morning, knowing the chances are slim and knowing that after what we spent last week, our options are limited. I found another chocolate labradoodle named Bailey. She's in Kentucky, not so far away and she's exactly what we're looking for. When we pick her up on Saturday she will be spayed (neutered?), microchipped, dewormed, treated for fleas and ticks, and up to date on her shots--all for only $85, less than the cost to do all of that. Even if we got a free dog, we'd pay more than that just for the first vet visit.

Bailey was a stray, who a very nice lady took in. The lady who took her in said that Bailey is a very sweet dog and she's almost completely trained already. She's 6 months old and very smart and obedient. I wish I had been more patient last week. I would have adopted this Bailey in the first place. What's the saying about experience being a hard teacher?

Anyway, here she is. We'll pick her up on Saturday and we'll make a much-needed family trip out of it. We all need a small break from the house and this will accomplish that too.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers, emails, and phone calls. Yesterday was simultaneously my worst and best day in awhile. Your encouragement means so much to me and to Matt.

Monday, July 30, 2007

bad news

The vet's office called tonight, as I was putting the kids to bed. Bailey died tonight. So I paid my bill over the phone and cried, and I feel very foolish.


1- don't drive 6 hours away for a puppy again
2- don't buy a puppy without it's shots
3- don't get attached to puppy with parvo and no shots
4- don't do any of the above while already stressed out


I did something crazy last Friday. I loaded the kids up at 4am on Friday morning and we drove to Bishopville, SC to get a labradoodle puppy at a shelter there. I don't even have the emotional energy to relay all of the details, but here are the pluses and minuses.

Plus- kids did well on the trip, beautiful chocolate labradoodle with sweet temperment (temperament?) named Bailey, I had no allergies to her whatsoever, we absolutely adore her, she's very smart and has good instincts about where to go potty (training should be easy)

Minus- she was in a nasty shelter, she has parvo, she's been hospitalized at the vet for two days, she's coming home tomorrow even if she's not better b/c of $, she has worms, we really really don't want her to die

All by itself, this whole experience would have been hard enough, but as it is, this is just the capstone to a lousy summer. I'm really venting. I'm sorry for being so negative. There's just a very long, whiny list of things that are weighing me down and I don't see an end in sight yet. I keep saying, "Once we get through _____________, everything will be fine." The truth is that sometimes, this life just stinks and that's where the Gospel really begins to sink in. I know that for the next month, life is probably going to be hard (still), but I'm hoping and praying that in my weakness, I'll see my God's strength more clearly. Please pray for us. It's not just a dog-thing. Matt and I are both very discouraged.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I love Craigslist!

Tonight Matt is going to Knoxville to pick up a washer and dryer that I found on Craigslist. I just happened to check it yesterday, just to see if anything else was available and I found a Bosch front-loading, stackable washer/dryer pair for sale for $400. They're like-new, in great shape, but the lady's moving and needs them out of there. Afte emailing her yesterday, she lowered her price to $350, because we are driving from Chattanooga to pick it up. I'm so excited. Matt's mom has this same set and she loves them. They're super fast, quiet, and water and energy efficient, and in our case they're cheap too.

I'll have to post a picture soon. For now, you can see them at They're the axxis model. ;)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Washers and dryers

Our washing machine isn't at it's best right now. It isn't totally broken, but we know it's a matter of time before it's unusable. It appears to be rusting from the inside out and the agitator is clinging on for dear life. This is no surprise, because every washer and dryer we've ever owned were used and ancient-looking, but I am curious to see what you all know about certain brands and types.

I looked at some really cool, all-in-one machines that wash and dry in the same drum. They're supposedly very popular in Europe and they're developed enough now to be reliable. They run about $500 to $1600, depending on the brand and size. Most of them are fairly small, but water and energy efficient.

I have always liked the front loading stackers too, but they are even more expensive and I don't even begin to know what brand is the best.

There is also the smaller, stacked unit, made by several companies, with a top-loading washer on the bottom, and a front-loading dryer on top. They're a little awkward, but cheaper and they can be energy efficient.

I want to figure out what will be the best option for us, and either save to buy later or watch the paper and craigslist to find one sooner.

Any opinions?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Recent pictures

Day by day, we're starting to feel more settled after all of the tumult. My sister has requested some recent pictures, so here they are. I'll post more as I go. We (royal we) are making lots of progress on the outside of the house and are looking forward to seeing new paint very soon! In the meantime, we're staying indoors or away from the house and trying to keep surfaces clean. The kids are doing well and still growing like weeds, Janie especially. I apologize for any out of focus pictures or goofs, because I haven't had time to sort them yet.

Work on the house and time at Grami and Papi's condo

Visit with Great Grandpa and Great Grandma

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Great News!

Everything's fine! Dr. Spraggins called me today from home (she's on vacation) and said that we should trust the second test results. I still don't know Matt's test results, but the kids are all well within what's considered normal and she said she'd call me to let me know his results. Whatever lead was picked up on the first test was just skin deep, maybe from putting their shoes on before leaving the house... I don't know. I feel sheepish about all of the help we've received, especially now that we know the kids have been fine the whole time, but I think we did the right thing.

This has been a really tough experience and I wouldn't care to repeat it. That aside, I've been so amazed by God's provision for us, through the prayers and fellowship of our friends and family. Thank you to all of you who have fed Matt and labored beside him over the past week. Thank you too for your words of encouragement and your shared experience. I feel like I have a moderate case of emotional whiplash, but all in all we're doing just fine. ;)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Confusing News

After a lot of calling and confusion today, here's the info. Dana and Janie's bloodwork came back and somehow it's clear of lead. Our pediatrician and her nurse are on vacation until next week, so all of this is coming second hand through another doctor in the practice. Second hand, she told me that the kids are fine and to take them home. I don't know whether to be excited or upset. I called a second time at lunch time and I've asked the nurse to call me back, so I can ask her more questions. A friend of ours, who is a doctor, recommended that we take new samples here in Atlanta in order to confirm the other samples. Obviously, one of the tests was wrong and I want to be sure that the kids are safe before I take them home. I wish Dr. Spraggins was in town, because she would take time to explain everything and I know she would be very thorough.

Anyway, due to the confusion, we will stay in Atlanta until we know more. If I can get the other doctor to order more blood samples for an Atlanta children's hospital, then we'll go down tomorrow morning and have blood drawn again. Hopefully, the blood will confirm the good results of the second test, in which case, we'll go home or at least back to Chattanooga. I'm still hesitant to stay in the house until the first coat of primer is up.

Thank you all for your prayers. This has been incredibly trying and exhausting, and yet the past few days have been strangely relaxing. I know God is answering your prayers for our comfort, because my normal hyperbolic (borrowed from Josh Green) anxiety has been hushed and quieted amidst all of the tumult. I'll update as soon as I know more.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

kind of an update

I still don't have test results. I know that Dana and Jane, at least, will have to have chelation. Chelation is a process where the doctor introduces certain compounds into their blood that the lead will stick to and then the lead flushes out of their system with the compounds. I don't know much more about it, but I'm guessing that they will have to be hospitalized for at least part of this. Clara will stay with friends if that happens. In the meantime, we will be going back to Chattanooga on Monday, after a trip to Trader Joe's. We've been making use of their wholesome goodness in an attempt to detoxify the kids and me. They sell a 64 oz. bottle of juice similar to Odwalla's Superfood juice. They love it and it's jammed with fiber and vitamin C, both of which are great for lead poisoning. Lots of fruit and greens right now.

As for where we will stay, I have had multiple offers, but I just don't know what will be best for our family yet. Thank you all for your hospitality and generosity and thank you for your prayers. Our first day here was very trying, but yesterday was much better. God is at work in me and in our kids. Thanks for your faithfulness in prayer.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

He Leadeth Me...

I haven't posted this yet, due to being completely overwhelmed, but we need your prayers. I'll explain more later, when and if I get the time, but our kids have lead poisoning. I asked our pediatrician to run a lead test on them at Clara's 18 month check up and all three tested positive. Clara has tested positive before for low amounts (not dangerous) and her levels haven't changed. However, Janie (who has never been tested) had such high levels that the nurse who ran the test ran it twice. Dana's lead levels were much higher, so high that his numbers were off of the scale they were measuring by. Our pediatrician tested me too and my levels are ever so slightly in the danger zone, much less than Dana and Jane. Dr. Spraggins sent us to T.C. Thompson's to have blood drawn and to get a more accurate look at the amounts of lead. Immediately after the trip to the hospital, I packed up our stuff at home and my mom and I took the kids to stay with my parents in Atlanta. We can't stay in our house until we know it's clear of lead, which may be a difficult thing. We need to get the last 10% of paint off of the house, put a coat of primer on, clean up the yard, filter the water, and wash the inside of the house and probably all of the linens and laundry too. Right now I am very impatiently waiting for the results of our blood tests, hoping that Matt's levels are low so he can continue to finish the house. The kids may be treated this next week, but more on that later. I am too emotionally exhausted to explain it all and I don't know how to spell most of it yet. So many of our friends and family have taken care of us and offered places for us to stay and we are so very thankful for your service to us and our Heavenly Father. What we need most are your prayers for our family. We know that in our weakness, He shows His strength and we learn to let Him lead and comfort us.

Please pray that God would give me strength to be a single mom while Matt and I are separated, that I would be patient and loving, despite being emotionally spent, that Matt would be able to do all of the work before him, that the inspection of our home would go well, that God would protect my children from the lead in their bodies, that God would heal them and help their bodies to filter this out, that I would get good sleep and preach the Gospel to myself instead of blaming the whole thing on me, and that above all else, we would praise our Heavenly Father and He would be glorified in all of this.

I will post more later. I'm sorry this isn't very lovely or well-spoken. Please pray.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

He's all grown up

In March, Matt brought home about 50 or more frog eggs that he found in a pond, while he was fishing. We eagerly watched them as they doubled in size and popped out of their jelly eggs. Every day they grew bigger. The kids loved it. A month ago, Matt and the kids returned all but two of them to the pond. Now, four months after the eggs came home, we have our first frog. The other tadpole is pretty fat, but still no legs. This week Matt will take them to the pond to join the other froggies. Our froglet isn't eating well and he'll probably do better there. We didn't take as many pictures as we should have, but here are a few.