Sunday, December 27, 2009


Wow, a week and no post! Well, things have been pretty crazy here and of course, the prospect of getting gifts had nothing to do with it???? We had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to an amazing new year. I didn't do Christmas cards this year and instead am going to send out a New Years letter. There simply wasn't any time for me to write a letter and there has been so much to share from this year - I just wanted time to enjoy the season. And boy did we! My dad came and shared Christmas with us, and of course, we got to spend some fun time with Jeff's family too. The Wii has been a big hit - and is providing us with many teachable moments about kindness, good-sportsmanship, consideration, and self-control! I'm sure there will be many other lessons to come:)
I will post pics etc. later but wanted to share something that has God continues to press upon my heart. Biblically, the concept of memorials is meant to teach His people to not only not forget what He has done for us (be it saving us from devastation, to bringing us through a trial) but looking ahead and forward, to be grateful for what He did and Who He is and to reinforce our trust in Him. I am sad to think of how many times God has brought me through something that I now cannot recall - not for lack of significance, rather because there have been so many things. This blog and my journals have helped preserve some of those stories, but I want to be so much more diligent, so that our children, our children's children, will have those stories to share of God's goodness, grace, and mercy. So, not to jump the gun, but that's one of my "resolutions!"
More to come about our Christmas...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


At Ryan's checkup last week, I specifically asked for our pediatrician to confer with our NICU doc about Ryan's heart issue. We wanted to know if any follow-up cardio exams should be scheduled and if so, when. Well, shocker, I called on Fri, spoke with his nurse of of course those calls to the NICU hadn't been made yet. No biggie really, but then she said she would call me back on Mon., and didn't. So, I called this morning, left a message to please call me back. Lo and behold, the good Dr. himself returned my call and gave me some amazing news. Ryan has NO lingering heart concerns. At all! Yeah!!!!! Apparently, the issues that were diagnosed while he was in the NICU are considered "normal" for early babies and his specifically resolved themselves while he was still there. So, as long as we are diligent about having his pediatricians listen carefully to his heart during his regular checkups, then we are all good. Of course, in my crazy, watched -too -many- 20/20 episodes, read too many scary blogs head I called my sister and said, "what if they're mistaken? What if they were rushed and didn't look carefully at the initial echocardiogram? Should I schedule on anyway?" Yes I know. A whole new kind of crazy over here people. Poor Jeff. That's just how I roll.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Bowlin' fun!

Jack bowled like a big boy at one point literally throwing the ball down the alley! Yikes!

Chillin' waiting for her turn.

Um, Mom, why are you taking my picture? Is it these super cute little bowling shoes?

Our church gave us a fun Christmas party - well the party was for Jeff who actually "works" for the church part-time. Anyway, we have this amazing place called Fastlane down by the church. It's an indoor play place - bowling, laser tag, arcades, go-carts etc. Really, just neat and clean and so much fun. It's been around for a year or so now, but let's face it, not a place we can afford right now, so this was an awesome opportunity for us to get to go. We had pizza with some of the other part-timers/volunteers and then got to bowl! So much fun! And Will's first time:) They had a great ramp kind of thing that you can set the ball on and then just push it down the ramp and watch it go. He loved it and kept saying "yes, yes!" Too cute. Jack and EK really enjoyed their time too, and Jeff and I were so proud of them. They all behaved wonderfully and we just had a great family night. Jeff and I laughed because he and I bowled HORRIBLY. Not that we've ever been mistaken for pros, but we really stunk! At one point Will was ahead of all of us! And my sweet Ryan slept through the whole thing~
The kids are counting down the days til Xmas, til Poppy comes, and of course til school lets out for break. Because of the FRIGID temps and poor scheduling, we have missed all of the local parades. Boo! Thus, we have missed all of the opportunities to sit on Santa's lap and get a free pic. So, today was Breakfast with Santa at our elementary school and the proceeds were to benefit the PTO. As you all know we are very tightly budgeted around here, but we thought, well the money goes to a good cause and we might not get another chance for Jeff to help me with the kids doing the Santa pic thing. So for 3 bucks a person, Will and Ryan did not have to pay, Jeff and I got 2 danish and coffee and the kids got 1 pastry and juice or milk etc. At one point Jeff says to EK, "you'd better enjoy that, it is the most expensive donut EVER!" Also you got 1 free pic with Santa, of course the photog pushed for you to buy a "package." I have nothing against this per se, but seriously, a package of Santa pics? No thanks, and don't look at me that way when I turn down the package, because if you want to volunteer your time to do this then that's what it should be, voluntary with a bonus of some people buying extra. Anyhoo - the new header pic is the kiddos with Santa - I realized after the fact that it was a bit rude of me to usurp the photog, but oops I did it anyway. We then "shopped" at the Jingle Bell Shop, merely window shopped though. I told the kids I'd take them to the dollar store later to pick out stuff for each other.
A funny: after a movie tonight, Jack, EK, and Will are horsing around on the living room floor and Jack says, "mom, I've got some fierce in me." Hee hee! Yes you do son!
The cutest little man in snowman pjs.

PS- I colored my hair (again) and here's the result. Dang that red, just can't shake it:)

Monday, December 7, 2009

More Randomness

I was just messing around with the blog - background, colors etc and clicked on the "text font" button. You know what that daggum thing popped up as. "Georgia"
You have got to be kidding me.


Tonight while Jack was reading The Little Red Hen, we had gotten through the third round of the hen's friends not helping her and she was headed off to the millers when Jack turned to me and said,"Man, she's really stepping it up!"

I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!!!

Ok, so I haven't actually fallen, but I have fallen way behind on posting! Not sure what happened, life I guess, but I'm back:)
We've been busy with Scouts, school, Christmas shopping etc. I finally got to visit with my dear friend H. on Fri. What a sweet time that was, just to catch up and enjoy her new addition - no not a baby, literally an addition to their home. Love that girl!!! We should all be so blessed by a friend like her - thoughtful, considerate, and truly caring of her family and friends.

This little man had his 4 month checkup today.

He is a whopping 14 lbs and is 25 in. long! Yeah Ryan! His heart sounds good, but we're checking in with his original NICU doc to make sure we shouldn't be doing any follow-up echos. Poor kid had to get 3 shots and take one med orally, but he did great and since yesterday afternoon is taking 6 oz - up from 5. He still sleeps ALL night, Praise Jesus and Hollerlewya (yes that's the phonetic way of saying it southern style). He is such a happy baby, and thank heavens for that with him being the 4th and all. He goes right along with everyone else and LOVES to laugh at his brothers and sister. And they all love to make him laugh:)
Jack had awesome behavior at school last week - 5's all week, and did well on his tests. We are so proud of his hard work and his self-control. He is trying so hard to keep himself in check. On Sat. he and Jeff took a drive to go check out a car in Siloam Springs. Apparently on the way there and back, he and his dad did some serious talking. Manly stuff including when he would be old enough to get his own car (a Mustang) and move out (Never if his mom can help it.). He told Jeff that "mom would cry when I moved out." Amen son:)

Christmas parade season is in full swing around here and that means that Jeff is off riding his police motorcycle. His dress includes these riding boots which are like waders on the kids, but they love to try them on.

Not sure why both of them have such goofy expressions other than they are my children...

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Doesn't it look like he's praying? Love this little man!

Now, onto business...

In Ecclesiastes one reads about timing and seasons of life. That catchword "season" is tossed around quite a bit amongst Christian mommy circles and with good reason. It is, I think, the most concise way to describe the fact that we each go through different phases: singlehood, dating, engagement, marriage, newly-married, mommyhood etc. Disclaimer, this is all about the mommyhood and yes I am fully aware that there are many other phases of life etc, but this is what I'm posting about, so there. Anyhoo, amid the mommyhood season there are distinct subseasons: newborn, one baby, 2 kids, toddlers, tweens, teens etc ( I am really into lists tonight!). My point is, we often use "I am just in a busy season/difficult season right now and can't_____." I myself have said this many a time. But, I must confess, when I've said it, I've wondered if I was using it as an excuse. As in, "I just can't have a quiet time right now, I've got and infant and a 2 year old, and the 2 year old doesn't sleep well." True enough, but is there really not one little spot of time (thank you Virginia Wolf) to carve out for my God? Really, not 10 minutes? Um, well, yes there is. So, it is an excuse in that example. Now there really are some things that I just cannot accomplish right now - serving at Samaritan House with Ryan strapped to me might work, but now with Will hanging onto my leg. So, all of this is just to point out that sometimes, I think we rely on our season to bail us out of stuff that really is a matter of discipline, spiritual or otherwise. This has been rolling around in my head as of late as I struggle to find, no strike that, make time for exercise and as Jeff and I crunch numbers to "do" Christmas and pay off the hospital bills. Self-discipline is in and of itself a lovely concept, but I for one will fail every time if my motivation is not "glory-filled." In other words, if I am working out merely to look good (a massive feat for this stretched-marked body:)) rather than because I am a work of God and it is my duty to care for his creation, then I will fail because I will never look good enough for the world. I can, however, take care of this body, to be strong to lift up my children, help my husband, neighbors, friends, and strangers. If we are not self-controlled in our finances then we will be unable to give generously to those in need. So, we're prayin' for self-control around here!

We had a great break. For the most part everyone got along and our actual Thanksgiving was a delight thanks to my in-laws for the amazing feast! Jack got to spend the night with a friend last night and EK is having a friend over tonight. They are both blessed with some dear friends, whom we hope stick with them for a long time to come! I am sad to see the vacation come to an end, but it will only be a matter of weeks before we're back on break for Christmas.

Here are some pics of our past week.
One of our nights on Thanksgiving break - we made a pallet, popped in a movie and enjoyed some down time.

This is what happens when you have a sister!

But, this is also what happens when you have a sister! Everyone loves to hold Ryan:)
We even made time to bust out the Christmas decorations and get the house all prettied up! Funny, in the pic I am noticing a spot where I didn't put as many lights - oh well. The kids enjoyed hanging the "instruments" as Jack kept calling them. I didn't even have to go back and "fix" that many as I have in years past. Tomorrow we will light the first Advent candle and begin our scripture reading as we strive to stay focused on Jesus' birth. Note the cockeyed star - Jeff hasn't trimmed the top for me yet, so we're just saying it represents our family: a little off-centered but really shiny!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We are waist deep in family time around here! It has been so much fun to be home with the kids and with Jeff's altered schedule, he's been home a lot too. He actually only had to work Mon & Tue night and is now off again until Sat. Sat. morning I took off for some "alone time" as we call it in our house. I ran some Christmas errands and just enjoyed shopping without any kiddos. It did feel weird not carrying a diaper bag, but I managed to get through it! When I returned, it seemed that all was not well in the Simpson house. Apparently Ryan had not been a happy boy for the first couple of hours I was gone. This is so not like him, and I know Jeff was frustrated. Jack said, "Dad banged his fist on the counter and said 'Why won't you sleep?'" Too funny. Ryan is really such a pleasant baby, so I felt bad for Jeff that it had not been a great morning. But, what are you gonna do - he's an infant and if what he wants is to be held, then that's all that is really going to satisfy him. Luckily the rest of the day was calm and that night we enjoyed Lil' Smokies and our family's favorite cheese dip recipe while we watched some movies.
Sun after church the kids were outside playing when Jack came tearing into the garage screaming. He and EK had found some old bottles in the dirt over where they are making a path in the woods. In typical kid fashion, they decided to smash the bottles against a large stump. The glass shattered for the most part, but one piece apparently ricocheted and Jack sliced his finger pretty good. Oy Vey! This kid. Jeff put some butterfly bandages on it and we're hoping it will heal up without a trip to the Dr. The lesson that came out of that was about not leading someone else into sin. You see, initially, Jack insisted that he had cut his hand on a rock and turned to EK who was running in behind him, to back up his story. Being the super sharp and intuitive mom that I am, I immediately realized that there's was a story full of holes and when confronted, they folded like a cheap tent. Thankfully it didn't require an inquisition to get the truth out of them, but again, we had to discuss being truthful. And, this time, we had to make sure they both understood how strongly the Bible speaks to leading another to sin. Just another day in Paradise:)
Last night I got to have some girl time with my 2 sweet friends - Love those girls! God is so good to give me other women to share this journey with. We commiserated over how difficult parenting can be; when you care so much for these children and want to leave a godly legacy, there is just so much to do each day!
***Sidebar Ella-Kathryn just came in to go potty then proceeded to pee all over herself! Good grief! Well, that rug needed to be washed anyway:)***
Tomorrow we'll have dinner with Jeff's family, drive around the square down in Fayetteville to see the lights, and then hopefully get our tree on our way home. This year it will be a smaller tree than years past, but that's ok, it's just a tree. We thought about not getting one at all and just using the little artificial kid's tree that was mine as a child, but the kids were really bummed about not going to get "our tree." It's a big production - we all pile in the car, head to Lowes (no tree farms around these parts), I make Jeff pull out the ones I like, shake 'em and turn 'em around til his arms are killing him, then after the kids have run 10-20 laps around the garden center, I will finally pick "the" tree. Ah, traditions:) So, we'll see, but I think the plan is to just go smaller this year, but still get a live tree.
Today the kids and I will take a walk and start collecting our naturals for decorating: pine cones, branches, etc. and we'll make our plans for the decorations. I do love this time of year but there is still that noticeable void. Jeff's co-worker/friend with whom he had gone hunting, called on Monday to let us know his mom had died. My heart breaks for him - I know that mixed feeling of being glad that you were there for the last moments and yet unbelievable devastated to know that your mom is gone. We will, as always, count our blessings this Thanksgiving, but also pray for those who are in mourning, hurting, and sad. Pray that they will find the hope that is ours in Christ!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Halloween, 1 month later?

Pumpkin carving supervisor.

Seed washer.

Um, cheerleader?

The happy carvers.

We are such slackers! I bought a pumpkin a couple of nights before Halloween, but we've been so stinkin' busy, we never got around to carving the darn thing! Poor children. So deprived:) Well, last night while I took Ella-Kathryn to the Girl Scout sign up, Jeff, Jack, Will, and Ryan got to carving that pumpkin. It was fun to see Jack and Jeff working together, and Jack actually did most of the cutting. He's desperate for a pocket knife, which we have vetoed for a couple of years at least, so this was as close to using a knife as he's gonna get for a while. When all was said and done, Jeff lit the candle and turned off the lights and brought Will in to look at it. He was a bit wary, scared even, and then shouted, "Punka, punka!" Poppy that's for you:) So, Happy Belated Halloween!
Yesterday I got to have Thanksgiving lunch with Ella-Kathryn and then today I went up to school for round-up ( a great program in which they talk about character traits like honesty, kindness etc and then each class takes a turn presenting some kind of play/show to exemplify that week's trait). This week it was Jack's class and they did a Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving play - very cute, and sweet Jack was precious when it came to his line; he sounded so shy and reserved and it melted my mommy heart. Will was perfect and Ryan slept almost the whole time - a major blessing because Jeff had class and couldn't be there. Later, Will, Ryan, and I picked Jack up for lunch, a la McDonald's (yuck, but it was his choice) and had a mom and her 3 sons date - so much fun and they were all so well behaved!
After lunch, it was to Wal-Mart, home for naps, feeding, dinner prep, then pick up the kids, start dinner (Jeff worked the church tonight so we do the early-bird special and eat at 5:00!), iron Jeff's uniform, eat...days like this fly by, and yet are so full of so many blessings. It's amazing what God can pack into 24 hours! Right now, the kids are watching a movie and munching on popcorn and I'm looking forward to an hour from now when all are in bed and I can sit down with a book for a bit. I know tomorrow will hold more of the same - empty the dishwasher, drink coffee, make breakfast, put away laundry, break up fights etc. but there is something so rich in knowing that there will be so much that will not be the same. There will be different expressions on the kid's faces, different things to laugh about, different things to fight about, there will be new memories made tomorrow. The kids are out of school for the week and I'm so happy to have them home with me. Even though there are times when they drive me batty, I love having everyone under the same roof. I love watching them march across the backyard, heading off on an adventure. Jack in the lead, Will trailing behind, but mad if he gets too far off the pace, yelling for Bubba and Sissy to wait! Ella-Kathryn going along with Jack for the most part, but every once in a while shouting a suggestion for them to do something differently. Then there's a conference between Ek and Jack, while Will wanders around aimlessly. Finally a decision is reached and they dive back into their imaginary world. Will eventually gets hurt and Jack carries him up to the back door for me to inspect the wounds, dust him off, and tell him he's fine and to get back out there. Hap keeps watch over them while Chewy runs around like the village idiot on the dog run:) I will call them in for lunch or dinner. When I reach over their shoulders to put their plates in front of them, I will inhale deeply, taking in that outdoor/sweaty child smell. This scent will be replaced at the end of the day with kid's shampoo and baby lotion. I will fall asleep after rolling over and smelling the top of Ryan's head one last time. Mine is a sweet, sweet life.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Under the weather

Ever since EK ran fever a couple of weeks ago, she has had lingering symptoms, namely a cough. She coughs all night, and I even went out and got her an OTC cough syrup (this was after nights of honey, vicks and cough drops to no avail). Will seemed to pick up Jeff and EK's cold last week and we've not been getting good sleep lately. Ironically, my 3 month old can sleep through the night, but my 2 year old cannot. Oh well. At least the baby IS sleeping that much - we've never had such a good baby! So finally today, after another long night, I called the DR. and took EK and Will in to see what was going on. Nothing major was found, but we did go ahead and start a round of antibiotics for both and they will share some cough syrup and hopefully we will all sleep tonight!
I am amazed that Ryan is such a great baby. Because of some random stuff this weekend, we got off schedule by an hour and so last night he took a bottle at 8 instead of 7 so this meant I could either stay up until 11 and give him one more bottle before I went to bed, or I could try and see how long he could make it, maybe til 5? Well let me tell you, that little man slept until 5:45, and probably could have stayed in bed a bit longer if Will hadn't been having a temper tantrum in his ear! I already miss his night waking simply because when he would stir for his bottle I would unwrap him from his swaddle he would just smile at me like I was the best thing he could imagine seeing at 3am. Oh how I love that boy! People keep commenting on how big he's getting and they're absolutely right. He's in 3-6 month clothes now (I switched over after his 3 month checkup) and he takes at least 5 oz at each feeding. I miss nursing him, but I know that he is growing so well now because of the formula. It is hard to feel time surging so quickly ahead. His hospital stay seems a distant memory and yet when I look at pics from that time those emotions are right there under the surface. Yet, I am overjoyed to see him grow, smile and laugh, watch his brothers and sister, find his hands, and sleep like an angel:)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Man!

Jeff got his first deer on Sat.! We were all so excited for him and for us to have the "meats" of his labor to eat. I got some hands-on training as I processed the meat into various cuts and then today we got a grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer so that we could grind up the rest. What a dream that thing is! It is time consuming to trim the meat prior to cubing it to be put into the grinder, but what a treat to have fresh venison for dinner tonight. I browned up some of the ground meat, then added it to our fave spaghetti sauce - the kids loved it too. It's so nice knowing that we can eat lean, antibiotic and hormone free meat. We will be forever grateful to his friend J who really walked him through every step and provided so much of the gear for his first outing. Sadly, our friend with whom Jeff drove out to the deer camp got a call early Sat morning that his mom had taken a turn for the worse. She has been hospitalized since the spring but that call is never truly expected. He left and headed out to pick up his family and make the drive down to south AR. Jeff spoke with him last night and he said that she is in pretty bad shape, unresponsive and so they are really just waiting. My heart breaks for him, his dad, and his brother (and all of their family of course.) I wish I couldn't say that I know how that feels.
I just found these pics on my camera. They were taken last weekend on the Bentonville square. One of the many benefits of living in Wal-Martville is the great events they sponsor. This one was a holiday kick off and all of the big toy vendors came out to pitch their goods for the coming Christmas season. Of course it was overwhelming, but it was fun too. It coincided with the mountain bike race that has become quite an event here. The trail is awesome and draws riders from all over the world. Some of the bmx riders showed off their tricks which means that I spent 30 minutes saying, "no you cannot do that at home!" So, the pics from that night are below:
This is what Ryan did, other than sleep of course:)
Will loves to dance! As we were wrapping up our time on the square we saw a great cover band playing across the street. He just can't help himself - when hears music, he's gotta dance!

Jack got to pose with one of the real Bumblebees (from Transformers)- of course he wanted to know if he could drive it!

Jeff and Will in front of some big truck that is supposed to be a brand new toy item this year. Kind of looks like the old Tonka trucks to me? I'm sure there is some new marketing spin on it this year though.

EK got to pose with Barbie, or a reasonable facsimile thereof? She was very nice, totally misspelled EK's name "Ella-Aathryn" as if that were a real name? I thought she was a bit scantily, read sluttily, dressed. She was wearing black fishnet stockings. At a kids event. And she looks all of 17. Come on people. We can do better than that for our girls! More on this topic later...

Friday, November 13, 2009

All by myself

Well, the title of this post is a bit misleading. Jeff was supposed to head out very early tomorrow morning for his first day of deer hunting. Around noon today, his ride called and said there was more to be done down where they would be hunting and so he wanted to leave then and spend the night at their friends place. Ok, ok, so it's a trailer but it just seemed too cliche to say that my husband was going deer hunting and would be sleeping in a trailer - yes we live in Arkansas! Anyway, as Jeff is on the phone I hear him saying, "well, I need to talk it over with Melanie and I'll get back to you." Sweet him. I am mouthing to him, go ahead and go, but he hangs up and very dearly asks me if it's really ok. I assure him it's fine (I did, but I also made this ridiculous face and said, "oh no, can I handle all 4 kids by myself, what ever will I do - yes, dripping with sarcasm since I do this ALL of the time and because sarcasm is the glue that holds this relationship together, and is why my 7 year old son is constantly being told to hold his tongue because he has NOT mastered the art of appropriate sarcasm and yes I know it's all our fault for being this way around him and who else can we blame but ourselves.). So dear husband hurriedly packs, I wash his clothes in scent-free detergent (we use this anyway) and do not use a dryer sheet when drying them because we don't want the deer to smell him (ironic because anyone who knows him could tell you he is capable of making his umique scent if you know what I mean:), while he runs to Wally world to do the gathering part of his hunting expedition. Jerky, check. Water bottles, check. Sweet-n-Salty chex mix, check. Breakfast bars, check. Diet Dr. Pepper, check. He came home, made his PB&J sandwiches and at that point I off-handedly ask if he would like me to stick a banana or an apple in his bag. Ha, Ha, Ha. Real men don't eat fruit while hunting! No, he didn't say that, but I'm sure that's what he was thinking. Oh well, I tried.
I picked up the kiddos from school and then we hit Wal-Mart our own selves for some movie night necessities - pizza, root beer, and powdered donuts for the morning. Normally I make our pizzas, but I couldn't muster the energy tonight. As of right now, all are tucked in bed except for Ryan who is talking to me from his bouncy seat. He and I are going to settle in on the couch for a movie of our own.
I was sad to have missed seeing my friend H and her kiddos AGAIN today. They are all recovering from the swine flu and with Will's horrible cough, I just didn't want to chance giving them his cooties. Poor kid sounds terrible, but seems fine other than that. No fever etc. but still. He covers his mouth about forty percent of the time - not a good enough average to be around people with recovering immune systems! Alas, maybe I will see her next year:) Instead of visiting with her, I spent the day cleaning. I mean deep cleaning. I'm doing a room a day in an effort to get it all done before it's too cold to open up the windows anymore. I'm running out of time! Oh well. I just get so grossed out when things get too dirty around here. and with two indoor dogs and 4 kids, well, it gets dirty pretty quick! Wish me luck getting it all accomplished, and pray for Jeff as he tries to bag his first deer!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Side notes

This Wed was our last night of meeting with the group from our 50 Day Challenge. This was an experiment of sorts for our church, in which small groups met every week, once a week, and sort of hit the high notes of what it means to be a Christian, specifically, practicing spiritual disciplines and the core belief that Christ is our savior, died in place of us for the ultimate forgiveness of our sins, and that Jesus is love. My favorite part by the way, that last one! We got to know some great people whom we otherwise never would have met and some we would have, but probably not to the depth that we do now. And people, we got deep real quick like! It was awesome! I love transparency in believers - knowing that the body of Christ is real, cracked, and grateful as all get out for what God did for them. I love hearing people's testimonies and their stories. Love. It. So I was notably sad for it all to come to an end this week. But, as He often does, God did something really cool too. In the school pick up line on Wed. our community pastor, who also leads our group, honked at me and proceeded to tell me that his wife and 3 out of 4 of their kiddos had the swine flu. They clearly wouldn't be there that night, and didn't want to cancel either, so, drum roll please...would Jeff mind leading? Woo doggies! Let me fill you in on my hubby for those of you who don't know this about him. while he is an amazing leader in the workplace, he truly feels inept and uncomfortable when it comes to the small group dynamic in church. He has come a long way since the early days of our marriage, but it is still not the place he wants to occupy. But get this. He did it! And he was awesome! God couldn't have planned it any better. Jeff was already at ease with the group since we had already been meeting for so long and because there was no pretense or facade being held up by anyone in the group. I am so proud of him for stepping up and taking on that challenge. He would be the first to say it's not something he wants to do on his own, but it is such a huge praise that he didn't merely say no way!
On another note, Dad is up in NJ visiting the fam there. Another blessing there, in that he is so close to all of them and the relationships they have will continue on even while we all miss Mom. I have yet to go "home" and wonder what it will be like to walk back through the door where she spent much of her childhood. To look across the lawn where her engagement photo was shot. To eat in the dining room where so many of our holidays were spend laughing and yelling (hey it's NJ people!) To know that each room holds a story that I find myself reaching for in an effort to not lose everything she shared about herself. This is the hardest part right now. I will start to remember an anecdote that she told me and then lose the thread. I want to call her and say, "Hey what was the name of that place you worked at the summer you lived at the shore and ate only soup and drank only iced tea?" Completely insignificant to the big picture, but damn it if it doesn't make me angry that I can't remember. And worse, is this leading to me forgetting more about her. The important stuff? We are such sensory beings and I will never forget her hands - they were freckled and she hated her nails because they were so fragile and tore easily - but they were always soft to me. As I child she used to pay me (and my sister) to brush her hair, so there is a smell memory of her hair. Her laugh. Her cough. I just wish she had written an autobiography for me. But I know that there are so many here who can fill in the blanks for me. Her mother, her sisters and brother, my dad. These people can remind me of the details. but the important stuff, her love, caring, and humor, I will dig them up and keep them swirling in my mind so that I never forget.

Friday, November 6, 2009

3 Months Old!

Well, the first three pics are how this lil' man is usually - happy, content, just waiting for someone to engage him. He laughs a bit now when I get going into full silly mode - so much fun! The last photo is how he is from dinner time til bedtime. Fussy period? Colic? not sure. The nurse today said it could be either. He's really not that bad -just wants to be held the entire time and that's difficult while trying to cook dinner, do homework, get baths etc. He just won't settle and even when he falls asleep, he will only stay that way for about 10 minutes. Oh well! This too shall pass in the blink of an eye.
I was very encouraged by his weight gain - he's now 11lbs 12oz - a gain of 1 pound, 6 oz. Go Ryan! He eats about 5 oz every 3-4 hours and often goes 6 hours at night. In fact I need to go wake him right now because he hasn't eaten in 5 hours! I need to get a pic of the back of his head too because he's worked himself a perfect little bald circle. Poor baby!
Jeff is still fighting a bad head cold, but is off to scout out the hunting grounds tomorrow and then will actually hunt next weekend. I'm super excited about the possibility for some free meat. Times are very lean around here right now as we struggle to make ends meet and still pay all of our hospital bills. We are trying to remember that this is just a season of time and it will eventually be over - it just seems to loom ahead of us right now. I am praying for provision and to not be consumed with worry/fear as I see so many fall prey to that in these tough times. I also don't want have a pity party every day! We have so much to be grateful for, Ryan's health especially, and I know I need to focus on those things. I know we are never with out God's grace and mercy, and even when we struggle here on earth, it is all part of our walk - to trust and have faith that he loves us and has only good planned for us.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Photo Ops

Hi, my name is Ryan and I'm a happy baby. And I slept 6 hours straight last night, so my mommy is happy too!
My blessings:)
My 3 Sons!
Halloweed 2009 - that cow costume has to last one more kiddo!

Jack had asked me why I didn't hold him anymore. It made me think about that poem in which there is a line about not knowing when the last time you will hold your child, hold their hand in the parking lot etc. So true. I picked him up and told EK to snap a pic. He's not that heavy, but I know that I will blink and he will have grown far too heavy for me. Oh my. Then EK wanted a turn, so I happily obliged. It is incomprehensible that Jack will be turning 8 this Jan. We were watching some home movies last weekend and it was so funny watching Jeff and I parent ONE child. Hah! If only we had known! Man-to-man defense was the plan even after EK came along. Now we are totally doing zone defense and I have to laugh because sometimes other kids wander into our zones and they just get pushed along with the tide! Welcome to the Simpson family, no we don't need to know your name, just keep it movin' and keep your hands to yourself, and no screaming unless something is broken, or your bleeding (and we qualify this in our house to mean copious amounts of blood, no wimpy hangnails), or a limb is stuck in something (and no fingers and toes do not count as limbs, just pull hard enough and eventually that thumb will come out of the plastic train). Speak kindly to one another, ask forgiveness if you've done something wrong, respect each other and our things (no we're not made of money), and be a light for Christ wherever you go. Nuff said.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Well, we do not have the swine flu - praise God and haller-luya! EK merely ran fever for a few hours, still is not 100%, lingering cough and some tender glands, but no flu. We'll keep praying that it stays away from our family, but odds are...
Jack wrote an apology note to the little boy he clocked. It is very sweet and he even attached an extra envelope with some loose change. That's my boy. If the letter doesn't work, try to buy his forgiveness! Oh dear. There's a "discussion" in the works about that one.
On another note, as a mom/wife/friend/fill-in-the-blank-role, there are some days where I am like, "yeah, I totally got this thing nailed down. Dinner is planned and prepped by 10am, clothes are washed, dried, & put up, house is clean." Then there those other days when I think, "Children services are coming. Today. To take my children away from this pit of devastation and filth. My husband will surely be leaving me today, because he has seen me in sweats and no makeup for the 3rd day in a row and I don't remember the last time I showered." There, I said it. Sometimes I honestly cannot remember when I last bathed. Gross, I know. But in my defense, sometimes I did manage a shower, I just can't recall it - I check to see if my towel is wet:) This mommy-brain is sometimes sharp as a tack, recalling facts and characters from novels I read eons ago in college. I can do the NY times crossword puzzle, in pen, up until Thurs (they publish them from easier to more difficult as the week goes on, so thurs. is when they get too hard to do in pen and I switch to pencil and usually don't finish it). I can read an article in the paper about the latest economic summit and truly get it. Then there are the days when I call my children by the wrong names, we eat PB&J for lunch and dinner because I haven't planned a thing, and the dogs get to eat hard-boiled eggs and goldfish because I again forgot to get them more dog food. What I really long for is a day somewhere in between those two. Mostly on track and planned, but with some wiggle room for a spontaneous lunch invitation, or to snuggle with Will and watch a movie at nap time. As with most of us, balance is elusive. God wants my heart to be at peace regardless of my circumstances and as our time with Ryan in the NICU showed us, we can be joyful in all circumstances, but peace seems even more challenging. Can I feel calm amidst the storms of parenting? Can I rest in His word, knowing that even when I play out the "worst-case-scenario game" He is who He says He is - now and forever? I'm trying! Those days when all feels balanced are glorious. But I think that what God is really teaching me is that even the off-kilter days are glory-filled too. I just have to look a little harder:)

Friday, October 23, 2009


So I had run all of my errands, put Will down for nap, was washing bottles so that Ryan had something clean to drink out of, and the phone rings. It was the principal of Jack and Ek's school. He was calling to inform me that Jack was in his office because he had punched a first grader. In the eye. A boy, I would later learn, whom he did not know. For no conceivable reason, Jack had hauled off and clocked this poor kid. A kid whose father, I would come to find out, is the minister of the Presbyterian church. Note: this is rich in irony because when I was 14 I "dated" the Presbyterian minister's son. Not the same one mind you. That would, well, be impossible, but anyway, you get the point. Or maybe not, since I'm not sure there is one. Anyhoo. When I went to school to pick him up and of course asked him what in the holy heck had happened, he starts out by telling me he doesn't know. We work past that load of you know what, and he then tells me that these two boys were sitting in front of him at the assembly, they started horsing around and then he joined in and accidentally-on-purpose punched this other kid. Problem #1 with this scenario is that these boys were not playing with Jack. #2, you don't punch someone no matter what (well at least not at school, since boys will be boys and punching will occur, but at least keep it off school grounds, please.) #3, Jack didn't tell any of this to the principal, so when we get home and he explains it to me, I'm all well then, let's call the principal and at least let him know that it wasn't completely unprovoked, still not ok though etc. #4, I call and am promptly informed that there was an Aide standing there (yes she is an adult which negates any chance of there being no credible witnesses) and according to her the 2 smaller boys were not horsing around. #5, my kid is a big fat liar???? I thought we had covered this sin before, remember when I payed out the wazoo for an eye exam that was completely unnecessary, because my kid insisted he couldn't see? I am dumbfounded by his blatant sin. Yet, as I have prayed and thought about this, I keep coming back to the question, "Why am I so surprised?" Sin is ugly, and it often has deep roots. We pull up these weeds of wrongdoing, confessing, crying, and praying to God for forgiveness, only to find in time that all we have done is break off the top of the weed, but have left the roots firmly in the ground. Did we not feel bad? Did we not desire forgiveness? Yes, but did we really rerpent? Well, if we return to that same sin, then no. In this sweet child's case, he is still learning. He has been given grace in the past, and will now have to face some serious consequences for his sin. That scout camping trip is off and there will be other disciplines in place. But it is still heartbreaking for a parent, and I understand, if only a bit, how God must feel when he watches us engage in sinful behavior - especially when we, as adults, know better. I will lavish my son with love, so he knows that my love for him is not dependent on his behavior. I will fall more in love with God, understanding how difficult it is to watch someone you adore make such foolish choices and yet know without a shadow of a doubt that that same person is more worthy of love now more than ever. Jeff and I will put our heads together and talk with Jack,again. And then we will pray, again.
We talked with Jack this morning and at the end of the day there doesn't seem to be anything that precipitated the punch. He just got worked up in the assembly, perhaps the boys were being annoying during the program, perhaps they were rough-housing and the Aide missed it; nevertheless, our boy was wrong, he knows it and will be doing some "time" for the crime:)
Prayers are needed - Ella-Kathryn developed a fever this afternoon. I new something was up because for the past 3 days she has become weepy in the afternoons and cried actual tears telling me how sad she was about GG and how much she misses her GG. So upset in fact that we ended up busting out the home movies just to "see" her. We are treating the symptoms for now and will take her in to the clinic tomorrow. Hope it's not the piggy flu, but all signs point to the oinker. Pray for Will and Ryan especially, to stay healthy in the midst of all this. The rotten part is that the kids and I were all hanging out on my bed this afternoon, watching home movies and for the better part of a half an hour, EK was all up in Ryan's face. Good grief!

No special reason for this pic other than he's so stinkin' cute. He's wearing his new kicks from his grandparents - they're baby hi-tops. Too much! Love this boy:)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Yeah for pounds!

Jack holding Ryan for me yesterday. Funny how he looks so much bigger in his big brother's arms than in mine or Jeff's.

Ryan had his weight check this morning and did great! He's up to 10'8" - and I mean, when else in your life are people going to cheer you on for GAINING weight? I so wish someone would do that for me - heck the way I'm holdin' on the these baby pounds I oughta have a whole cheering section!
I digress...shocker, I know. Anyway, Will and Ryan and I ran a slew of errands and then made it home in time for nap. I'm thinking of one my own self. We have community group tonight and our sweet babysitter, Miss T, will be coming to take care of the kiddos. She's wonderful and they love her - Will never makes a peep when we leave, a true testament to his fondness for her! I will be sharing my testimony tonight, ugliness and all, so pray for me. Jeff is giving his too, and I think this may be his first time. A testimony virgin if you will - pray for him especially. Not his cup-a-tea. Our CG leader is awesome though and gave his last week - totally transparent and I think set the stage for the rest of us to do the same.
OK, so I'm thinking that nap is a great idea - more later...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ryan, watching mommy make dinner.

Will walking around, sans pants as is all the rage with toddlers these days. He looks half scared/half like a mini-frankenstien. What's up with that?

Ella-Kathryn, still sporting her 80's pink eyeshadow from a bday party, listening to some tunes on her ipod whilst awaiting dinner. is it just me or does she look stoned?

Jack in full riding gear, going nowhere soon though because we've had rain 11 out of the past 14 days. UGH.

Well, I am deep into my housewifery today. Just unloaded my 5th load of laundry - I suspect that the little people in this house are changing clothes several times during the course of the day because they don't think that I have anything to keep me busy:) Sweet them to think of me...
Unfortunately, I am one of those people who cannot think when there is clutter covering every flat surface of my home. The giant hairballs rolling across the living room like something out of a western, simply push me to the edge of distraction. Our poor Border Collie, who thinks he is a house dog and only now has the desire to heard small children around our small home, is molting. At least that's the only reasonable explanation I can come up with for the amount of hair that he is shedding. I really must figure out a way to stuff pillows, sew wigs (black and white hair, perfect for the Halloween season, no?), perhaps weave a tapestry depicting our families triumphs for the year? Suggestions? It seems so dang wasteful to just vacuum it up and throw it away.
For those of you with children, those who know children, or those who have ever seen a child, you know that the hours of 3:00-bedtime is actually the "witching hour." This is the time when their blood sugar plummets, they become despondent and lose their ability to think rationally when told that dinner will be served in mere moments and thus they will not truly It is also the time when homework must be completed, because in our house, you do what you've got to do, in order to do what you want to do. Period. We've tried it the other way around, allowing for some play time prior to homework, but trust me when called away from playing to begin homework, the Oscar will always go to Jack Simpson. Jack is super-creative, imaginative, funny, and so many other awesome things. But when it comes to schoolwork, oy. It seems that 9 times out of 10 we have to get to this horrible place where Jack is crying and I am praying non-stop for self-control. I actually told him to get out of my face the other day after 15 minutes of our back and forth. This is why we don't homeschool people! It's a vicious cycle and yet, when we get past this point of him not really trying, he usually gets it and is finished in a jiffy. Yes, we try all sorts of different ways to present the material, but most of it is so black and white and has to be done according to the teachers methods that he was already taught in school, so there's little to be done other than just gut through it. I hate it for him. I hate seeing him struggle so much. The good news is that he does care about it, even if he sometimes says he doesn't, and that he is a smart kid. So smart in fact that sometimes he simply blows us away. At the dinner table the other night, we were discussing forgiveness and I posed the question: When is it hard to forgive someone? Jack said, when I'm mad, sometimes I am so distracted by my anger that I don't think that they need my forgiveness or that I want to give it to them. WOW! So, enrollment in Jack Simpson's Seminary will begin next Monday...
To end, when talking about God and his "superpowers" we then turned to what we wish our superpowers could be. Jack - laser vision. My dear, sweet, precious, darling, daughter - a coat made out of guns. Nuff said.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Well, Jack successfully rode the dirt bike on Sat, complete with 2 wrecks, but thankfully, no injuries. We have it all captured on tape. Unfortunately, when I say tape, i mean honest to goodness tape. We'll have none of that high fa-looten fancy digital stuff around here! No siree bob. We're hangin' on to the good old days when an image burned onto some sort of black tape looking stuff meant your image was captured forever, or at least until the tape broke. Oh, I digress. Can you tell I am so longing for a digital camcorder. I'm pretty sure we're the only family left in the free world who doesn't have one. Not to judge, but I have seen some pretty sad looking families out there with nicer electronic equipment than we have. Ok, so I did just judge. Darn you log/speck thing.
Anyway, he did great and despite my nausea and pleas to slow down (he was barely giving it any gas), I managed to sound super supportive:) Thank you very much. We'll see how well my ability to cheer on my son's death wish sport continues...
Ella-Kathryn came home today with a sore throat, no fever though, and after getting motrin and watching Bananas stand-up comedy, she was ready to go back! That's my girl - she didn't want to miss gym! Bless her:)
For more fun Ryan news, he was mis-weighed AGAIN. At his first Dr. checkup after discharge, he was mis-weighed and luckily I had been paying attention so they re-weighed him and even though he still needed to pack on some pounds, at least he hadn't lost. Then we go in Fri cause he's got himself his first cold and sounds like a little piglet at night, and the nurse says he weighs 10'14" - hot dog! Not so fast! Mon. was his official 2 month checkup and the nurse says, 9'6" and I'm all, no way, and she's all yes way. I complain, they re-weigh and sure enough, boo-boo on the other nurses part, he does not weigh 10'14". He's only in the 10th % so we're back to trying to force him to take more formula at each feeding. UGH. Then, not 15 minutes ago, I get a phone call asking if I've taken him in for this hearing test. Um, no, I was told it was done in the NICU a month ago. Well, they have no record of it. Okey dokey what do you want me to do about that? So, four phone calls later, some nice medical biller at the hospital is "looking for the record and will call me back." I know you can't see me, but as we speak I am blue for holding my breath for that phone call. You see, after dealing with Jack's hospital stuff and now Ryan's, I know better. These people are all in on some cruel joke. It's called: let's see how for we can push these poor lay people until they snap and go postal on us. Medical jargon, misc. billing, unanswered phone calls - I'm working myself into a frenzy even as I type! I should have just told the lady, "well he cries when the dogs bark really loud, does that count?" How's that for a redneck hearing test!!!!
Seriously, we had great care for both of our kiddos, but the insurance racket in this country is enough to drive me to the bottle. Well, who am I kidding, a paper cut is enough for a glass of wine, but they really do drive me nuts:)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wringing of hands

Jeff came home some time ago and mentioned that a guy from work had a dirt bike for sale - a dirt bike just the right size for Jack. Oh dear. Now, Jeff grew up riding these things and we always rode around on a four-wheeler (or maybe it was a 3 wheeler) back on the farm when we were there for Thanksgiving etc. But, my son? UM, I'm not so sure about this. I mean, do they make bubble suits for kids to wear while riding? Do they make bikes that only go 5 mph? If so, then sign me up. Otherwise, I will be that nervous Nelly on the sidelines (or side of the dirt track?) wringing her hands and wincing with every bump he hits. Nevermind when he actally gets good enough to want to JUMP things. Oh dear. Yet, this like every other aspect of parenting, is an exercise in prayer, trust, and wisdom. At every turn in my children's lives I will rely on God's strength and promises to see me through - from the BIG things, like Ryan's very life, to the smaller things, like Jack becoming successful at math:) Ok, so that last one is truly a big deal in our house, I'm just playin' it cool. Anyway, God seems to want me to live in this place. The address is #1 Faith Drive and the sign on the door says TRUST BEFORE ENTERING. It's a daily thing for me, but I'm glad He allows me to renew this walk every morning. I want to remain in his house forever and I know that with his abundant grace I can. Here on earth, I will choose to trust that he holds my children in his hands too. As for the wisdom of bringing said dirt bike home to begin with, well let's just say I trust my husband and we'll leave it at that! So, when you call and I interrupt by gasping air because I witnessed my son wipeout on the bike, just pray for me:)
PS - to those of you who know our financial situation, a note: Jeff's co-worker ended up giving us the bike, helmet, equipment etc. Jeff had told him about our hospital bills et al and how we wouldn't be able to buy it from him after all. He was just so desperate to get rid of the thing he told Jeff to come on and get it!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Will's Birthday - take 2

New shoes from the grandparents.
Round 2 of the cupcakes!

It ended up just being K and D because Aunt E, Uncle J and the cousins were all sick!

My MIL is going to kill me for posting this picture of her!!!!