Friday, March 28, 2014

Squirrels and Sadness

My other grandma sent me this article on Grandma Ginny today. At first I was worried by the headline. I thought it would insinuate that her entire legacy had to do with squirrels. It was certainly a funny part of her later decades, but not the story of her life by any means. Thankfully, the article was more well-rounded and it made me tear up. I'm more sad than ever that Grandma Ginny won't be here in June to "scoop up" her fifth great-grandchild. She did love babies, and I would've loved to know more about her parenting philosophies!

Since this blog is my own version of a scrapbook, I wanted to copy the article here. It appeared in the Omaha World Herald today and was written by Kevin Cole:

Squirrels were the bane of Virginia Muelleman and her beloved vegetable garden, but she could not bring herself to harm the little critters.
“My mom would trap them and take them two miles away to be released,” said her son Robert Muelleman of Omaha. “She always released them in the same place, near water, so they would have something to drink. She also wanted to release them in the same area in case she had already trapped their relatives.”

Bushy-tailed reunions were likely because she trapped and released more than 500 squirrels, her son said. When she reached the 400 mark, Virginia Muelleman's children gave her a squirrel piƱata for her birthday.

The soft-hearted Muelleman, 85, died March 20 at the Nebraska Medical Center with her family around her. She had been critically injured March 17 in a fire at her home.

A Fire Department spokesman said Wednesday that the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
A funeral Mass was celebrated Monday at Holy Name Catholic Church. The parish is where the Muelleman children attended school and Muelleman had worked as a secretary and bookkeeper.

Virginia Fromm grew up the youngest of seven children in Defiance, Iowa. She met her husband, Joseph Muelleman, in Omaha, where she had found a job with Union Pacific Railroad.

The couple were married for 54 years until his death in 2006. The Muellemans raised five children and had 16 grandchildren and four great grandchildren, with another one on the way.

Robert Muelleman, chairman of the department of emergency medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said his mother “scooped up” the grandchildren and watched over them with great tenderness.

He called his mother “one of the smartest people I ever knew,” even though she never got the chance to go to college.

“She was constantly reading, and if she didn't know something, she got on the computer and looked it up,” he said. “She had a very curious mind.”

Following her husband's death, she traveled extensively. She especially enjoyed a trip to Europe to see several religious shrines with her son Peter Muelleman.

Other survivors include daughters Carol George, Janet Cox and Joan Green, all of Omaha.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Grandma Ginny

A world without grandmothers would be a terrible place indeed.

I'm so thankful that I spent the first 28 years of my life with two wonderful grandmas. However, this past Thursday we said our final goodbyes to my Grandma Ginny. I'm not really at peace with the circumstances that landed her in the burn unit on Monday (there are so many "if onlys" haunting us), but I'm very at peace with her departure on Thursday. The palliative care doctor said that Thursday was the final chapter in the book of her life, and she would write it. She left the world peacefully and surrounded with love. As the priest said at her final blessing, God makes us for himself and he calls us back to him. For some reason, even though we can't understand it right now, her trial by fire will glorifies him.

Grandma Ginny was a hard worker, a faithful wife, a loving mother, and a devoted Christ-follower. She offered up her many sufferings and when it was time for her to leave this world, I had to be happy that she would finally be relieved of her pain. Thursday was such a sad day for us, but such a happy day for her.

Once her prognosis became clear on Wednesday night, palliative care doctors were able to meet with her children to discuss her care. Per her living will, they decided to remove life support on Thursday. She breathed on her own for a few more minutes, surrounded by family. We read Psalm 34 out loud and held her hands and shared a few final words as she left. It was so perfect and even though there wasn't a dry eye in the room, I think we all couldn't help but be happy for her deep deep down.

I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together. 
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them. 
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it. 
...The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 
The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken. 
..The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned. {Psalm 34}

From our whirlwind trip to and from Omaha last Monday, to our rushed drive back to Omaha Thursday, to her upcoming funeral this Monday, it's hard to believe everything that's happened in a week. From pain and devastation, to critical but stable with some hope, to having to say goodbye. It's been such a crazy week that I don't think I've digested the finality of it. It'll be hard to gather with the whole family again and not see her chuckling at something nearby.

I know death causes a lot of people to maybe find meaning and comfort in silly coincidental things, but I think it also offers a glimpse of heaven to those of us left in death's wake. Driving home from the hospital at sunset on Thursday, I saw a fraction of a rainbow in the sky and for some reason, it made me so happy. I felt like my grandma was reassuring us that she was in heaven at last and that she was full of joy!

I will always remember her as a down-to-earth woman who enjoyed life. She was funny, strong, pragmatic, and devoted. She loved God. She loved babies. But she had a personal vendetta against any squirrel that happened to wander into her amazing backyard garden-- she trapped over 500 of them! She always drove the trapped squirrels two miles away (across the interstate so they couldn't come back) and released them all in the same spot, "in case they were family."

Whenever she met a new friend of mine, she'd ask who their parents and grandparents were. The amazing thing is, she always seemed to know half of them from back in the day!

In the way that women who can't get pregnant seem to see babies and pregnant women everywhere, I feel like since loosing my Grandma Ginny on Thursday, I've seen little old ladies everywhere. I actually mean that in the nicest way possible, since my grandma called her group of friends the "little old ladies." In fact, well into her 70s, she was working with a home healthcare agency, taking care of "old people." She was always young at heart, always up for an adventure, always practical and loving at the same time. She didn't waste time complaining, but she was certainly opinionated.

She remained faithful to my grandpa through an early diagnosis and long battle with Alzheimer's. She cared for him at home so much longer than most people would've, and when he finally had to be put into a nursing home, she visited daily. Even on the days he didn't remember her. Even when his personality had changed.

Even when it was hard. She was there. For all of us.

We miss you already, Grandma Ginny!

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. {2 Timothy 4:6-8}

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Links I'm Loving

You know when you have so many browser windows open that you can't shut your computer down at night because you want to "save" or "re-read" or "make" whatever's pulled up in one of a dozen tabs? No? Just me?

Well, I've accumulated quite a list of noteworthy reads lately so I thought I'd share. Some relate to parenting, some relate to life, and some are just funny. Here's what I've been reading online lately:

Why Stretch Marks Aren't as Bad as You Think {Lindsay's List}
A welcome reminder that yeah, my body isn't going to be the same after these 40 weeks. But that's a good thing!

It Won't Be Long Now {Raechel Myers}
On losing babies and remembering that God's idea of time is so very different from ours.

Who is Coming Behind You {Naptime Diaries}
I LOVED this post. I'm struggling with feeling compelled to encourage newlyweds to have a realistic view of 'happily ever after' while simultaneously being excited/terrified of becoming a mom and finding that only the positive comments are helpful right now. Jessi hit the nail on the head with this one.

It Doesn't Have to Have a Point {Naptime Diaries}
I'm still struggling to learn what real rest looks like. This post gives me a glimpse of it: "There doesn't have to be a point, but there can be a purpose."

Kid President's Letter to a Person on their First Day Here {You Tube}
Seriously, if you don't visit any of these other links, visit this one. It'll brighten your day!

Life Lately {Yes I Want Cake}
Posts like this make me so excited to be a mom.

But Why Does She Get Babies? {Natasha Metzler}
Because when you work with all women, many of them will be struggling to get pregnant. And when you all take care of sick babies, some of whom are born unplanned, unwanted, and uncared for, someone is bound to ask this question. Also a good reminder of what all of us are called to do, babies or not.

The Problem With "Just Adopt" {Lauren Casper}
Because adoption and infertility are sometimes mutually exclusive. The end is the same (you have a kid!) but sometimes the calling behind them is quite different. Something to think about next time you're talking to a friend who can't get pregnant and desperately wants to be a mom.

Let Them Come Home {John and Abraham Piper}
A wonderful "prodigal son" story reminding me that how you raise someone isn't always the way in which they go. Love them anyway.

The New Church Lady {Pearls and Grace}
Are you as a Christian more known for what you stand for, or what you stand against?

The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying {The Accidental Missionary}
I've mentioned before that the word "blessing" doesn't always sit quite right with me. This is a good little post discussing it a bit more in depth.

Turn it Around {The Fitnessista}
This post actually discusses post-partum wellness in light of the "What's Your Excuse?" guilt trip that's been going around the internet. Pregnancy has been a bit of an equalizer for me, and quite a lesson in humility. I've never been so out of control of my body-- but that's a good thing! I certainly don't know the millions of details that go into growing a baby! I'm very thankful my body seems to be doing that on its own without my conscious help. Anyway, it's also made me realize that all of those "I won't be like that" ideals I had about pregnancy and parenthood (and who knows what else) aren't always in your power to control, and it's really not fair to judge someone unless you're willing to walk in their shoes.

Friday, March 14, 2014

26 Weeks, 27 Weeks, and Adios Second Trimester!

Twenty Six

I am growing! Stretching and growing so quickly is a bit painful and exhausting. At the end of the day I can literally feel my abs splitting a little more down the middle and it's completely bizarre and unpleasant. Just one more crazy aspect of the experience of pregnancy, I suppose. I've been too tired to cook dinner after work every single night this week, but Ross has been great about picking up the slack. This weekend is the first full weekend I've had off in MONTHS and I'm really hoping to catch up on sleep!

That being said, night shift + pregnancy has really messed with my sleep schedule, and I've been having morning insomnia lately. I fall asleep the minute I get into bed, and sure I wake up tons to go to the bathroom (but to be honest, that was the case even when I wasn't pregnant), but then I wake up for seemingly no reason between 3-5am and CANNOT FALL BACK ASLEEP. It's driving me crazy, and driving me into bed exhausted earlier and earlier each night (that is, unless I'm working that night). During the first trimester, I would wake up at that time hungry and I'd grab a granola bar and chug some water and fall back asleep. Now, not even that helps.

Carbs remain my go-to for the constant hunger I've been having (I also notice a huge carb increase when I'm tired). They're not always the healthiest option, but they're certainly the fastest way to get food into my system when I'm hungry and busy! That being said, I inhaled two boxed of Peanut Butter Panda Puffs and one box of Trader Joe's gluten-free pancakes on top of normal meals this week, which isn't a habit I really want to get into (for $$$ and blood sugar reasons).

Buuut speaking of blood sugar, Ross and I tried Immaculate Baking Company's Gluten Free Fudge Brownie Cookie Dough Cookies last week and we bought another pack this week. I mean, wow. They're good. I think I'd be craving these pregnant or not!

...Minsky's GF veggie pizza has been sounding really good lately, too...

Twenty Seven

I went to accupuncture regularly prior to pregnancy, and I went frequently during my first trimester. (I truly think that's why it went so smoothly). I felt pretty good going into the second trimester, so between that and major money and time constraints, I stopped going for a few months. I finally started again this week and I think it's helped my sleep! I only wake up about 30 minutes before the alarm now! Daylight savings time has also "helped" my insomnia. Now when I wake up at "5am" it's actually 6am which is much more reasonable! We will see how all of this changes after I work night shift tonight.

At the start of this week, I was nervous I just wasn't feeling as much movement as I had been. Of course, it's still a tad early for the "count-10-kicks-every-2-hours" drama, but he had just moved so much before, and Ross hadn't been able to feel movement for a week or so. I think the baby had flipped to face my back, though, because when I did feel movement, it was usually a kick or punch to an internal organ and not visible from the outside (by the way... feeling something kick your bladder from the inside is just weird). Thankfully, he started moving more mid-week again. Maybe he was just exhausted like I was?

This week also saw two huge milestones:
1. We closed on a house!
2. March 13 marked the official 3 month countdown to the due date! Yikes! As my friend Alyson recently said, "Seems like an awful long time to get bigger, but at the same time no time at all when it comes to welcoming an entirely new chapter of life!"

Second Trimester Recap

I completely cannot believe how quickly the second trimester went. It was a busy season with the holidays and winter blues and house hunting and lots of eating and lots of working, but yeah. I'm a little terrified at how quickly this little munchkin's arrival month is approaching. Before we know it, he will be here and flip our world upside down! I want to savor these last few months of pregnancy and of 'life as I know it.'

Random pregnancy things that happened during the second tri that I may or may not have mentioned in previous posts (some benign, some unpleasant, and one surprisingly awesome side effect of pregnancy):

-linea negra
-diastasis recti
-endless hunger
-endless thirst (I easily drink 5+ liters of water a day)
-morning insomnia
-nasal congestion
-My hands simply don't work sometimes. I drop everything. My hands don't hurt, they're not numb, and they're not swollen, they just don't seem to listen to my brain!
-swelling (but not in my hands or feet yet, thankfully)
-nesting (lots of making and urgently plowing through to-do-lists on the rare day off)
-hair and nails still seem to be growing quickly
-hip and back pain
-Apparently I'm just going to lock my car keys in the car once a trimester?
-There's supposedly a second trimester 'relief' from having to pee all the time, but I didn't get that. Then again, I've always been well-hydrated, so I'm used to the bathroom trips. And I can now say that kicks to the bladder aren't entirely pleasant and don't help matters.
-Braxton-Hicks contractions-- sometimes painless, sometimes not
-the complete irrationality and over-emotional rollercoaster of the first trimester has thankfully subsided in the last few months
-Some IBS relief! I have no idea if this is pregnancy related, or related to the fact that this is the longest I've consecutively taken probiotics, but it's AWESOME. I've been switching probiotic strands every few months, but so far Culturelle has been the most successful. Like, a night and day difference in my symptoms.
-Asthma seems to be at my typical winter level right now, which means it's great. The only good thing about winter, as far as I'm concerned, is the break I get from pollen! I'm curious to see how spring goes with a baby on board.

This really isn't a list of complaints. I just wanted to jot them down to remember. Most of these symptoms are a cause or effect of the super rapid growth experienced in the second trimester (especially from weeks 22-27 for me). That's a lot of change in not a lot of time!

Overall, the second trimester saw a gradual decrease in emotional discomforts related to pregnancy, and an gradual increase in physical discomforts. But I love having reassurance that there's a baby in there now!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Quick Cookies

When I'm in the kitchen these days, I'm all about instant gratification. I'm hungry and busy and impatient. Convenience foods aren't bad in and of themselves. There are certainly plenty of healthy options out there these days, if you're willing to pay a little more. But there's the rub. When you buy them, you're saying that for this meal/snack/week/season, my time is more valuable than my money. Sometimes I'm definitely willing to trade a little more money to buy a little more time. But sometimes I'm just being lazy.

Over the past few weeks, more and more frozen foods have made their way into our shopping cart because frankly, I am too tired to cook. We don't have a lot of time, but to be honest we really shouldn't be spending money quite so freely either with a house and a baby on the near horizon.

So today, I decided to suck it up and bake something. I'd actually gone to swim laps before my night shift nap and the heater at the pool was broken. The water was 73 degrees, which doesn't sound cold until you're fully submerged and your skin is in shock and you're brain is like, "what the heck just happened?!" I made it 23 minutes before I was too cold to keep swimming. Being freezing cold was good incentive to turn on the oven when I got home. It also helped that the dough didn't have raw eggs, so I could snack as I hungrily waited for the cookies to bake!

Banana Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 very ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup almond or peanut butter
about 2 cups of rolled oats
1/4 to 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix all the ingredients together until well combined. You may need a little less or a little more oats depending on how big and how ripe the bananas are. You're looking for a wet cookie dough texture that's still firm enough to shape with your hands. Divide into 12 scoops, place on a lined or greased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

15 minutes for healthy cookies from start to finish? Sold.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Freedom in Loss of Control

Last week was eye-opening for me in numerous small ways.

It started with a night shift on Sunday, a busy Monday full of errands and very little sleep, and a quick turn around to day shift on Tuesday. I am really physically worn out from the constant transition between day shift and night shift. (My left eye won't stop twitching!) But I'm still a bit embarrassed that I'm so tired when I'm technically not working overtime, just working often. I've started praying again that I would find rest and security in God, and not in the perfect schedule.

Mid-week, I started thinking about eating disorders and shame and body image in pregnancy.

In the midst of all that, I also had 3 different conversations with several different friends about control, and the freedom found in realizing that God is bigger than your plans and ambitions.

Coupled with the time of year, and an upcoming anniversary of sorts, I kind of absorbed all of this and stored it away in my heart until I could start to verbalize some of it. By the end of the week, I was replenished once again with the peace that comes with surrender, even as I could barely keep my eyes open. Yes, I'm learning to cherish the freedom in being out of control! Because I believe in a God who is big enough to break into our meticulous plans and show us his love in beautiful, unpredictable ways.

The conversation that started the week off had to do with job offers and a friend's decision-making. I am so easily paralyzed by decision making: what if this decision is the crux upon which my entire life rests and I choose the wrong thing and it's all downhill after this? (Please tell me I'm not alone here?) As this woman struggled with similar musings early last week, another friend told us,
"God had so much purpose in my decision to take (job A) even though that's not where He wanted me to stay. The way it all worked out, I needed that job in order to get the job I have now." She reminded us, "God will get you where he wants you, even if it means taking a road you didn't intend or want to take. I believe God took me down the road he did so that He could get the glory. Was it difficult? Extremely. But now look at the story God made to show His sovereignty! ...Don't limit God's power by assuming that everything hinges on this one decision."
In turn, I was able to remind a different friend on Thursday night that even when we make plans, God is bigger than them. His will WILL be done. It's not a sin to make plans, per se. To proceed forward with the information you have, knowing you're treading into unknown territory. The sin comes in holding onto your plans so tightly that you can't see any other way. The sin comes in believing that your way is better than God's way.

Then amidst all this thinking about freedom and control, I started thinking about the fact that most of these good conversations have been with women I didn't know 6 months, 12 months, 18 months ago. And I can't help but wonder if on March 9, 2012 when I unintentionally opened an email that wasn't meant for my eyes and my world came crashing down on me, God wasn't already showering grace upon grace upon grace on me. I'm starting to wonder if it wasn't the worst AND best thing that ever happened to me.

In the months that followed that day, I learned that emotional heartbreak really can make you physically ache. I learned that tears never run out. Thankfully, I learned that God's love doesn't run out either. Even two years later, as we approach that anniversary of sorts, I can see the ripples of grace that that terrible season allowed into my life. The aftermath of the storm has actually been beautiful. When I had nowhere to turn but to God, he softened my heart. When my previous self-sufficiency failed, I learned to be vulnerable with others. God used my loneliest moment to bring about such a richness in my life, and a few budding friendships I'm not sure I would've sought out otherwise.

I think about this post when I look back at the last 3 years:
grace. oh! 

it swallowed me up this year, spit me out, and now i'm laying on the beach thinking, that's not what i thought it would be. 

it has knocked me around. i've thought for so long it was me and Jesus working together and now i see it's just him. grace is telling me it's all Him and NONE of Me. how painful it has been to truly believe that i can take no credit. that i must rely on Him for every.single.tiny.step.

the stirrings in my heart. they were given by him, then stirred by him, then brought to fruit by him, or even not brought to fruit by him!

it's not on me. even my response to the call is not my own. i can't even get over that thought.

the repentance and the peace that it brings are treasures. i can't stand up, i'm knocked over with grace.
Jami's response to grace resounds loudly with me this time of year. The last few years have held some of my most deeply cherished and thought-out plans, and then seen them all washed away. I feel like I was swept out to sea on a tidal wave, completely at a loss for how to proceed, but then it somehow dumped me on the shores of "happy, married, and pregnant," but via a very painful, circuitous route that I'm still trying to wrap my head around. God's funny like that. Grace is powerful like that. It's bigger than all of us, and I'm so grateful!