Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009--A year in review

2009 was a pretty good year in the Collins house!

Adelae turned 2 and continued her obsession with Cinderella.

She made leaps and bounds with her learning. She is almost fully potty trained, she knows all the sounds the letters make and is *this* close to reading. She learned how to write her name and most of her letters. She amazes me on a daily basis with her brilliant mind. (I know I'm a little biased, but writing at two? Come on! That's just plain smart!)

In July God blessed us with our beautiful Brinna Leah.

She's 5 months old now and I can hardly believe it! It constantly amazes me how much babies learn and how quickly they learn it! She's been doing some pretty cute baby things. Her new trick is to lay on her back, lift her feet up and slam them back to the floor. Then she looks at me and laughs. Too cute right?!

Ben and I are doing well. We're adjusting to life with two kids. It's not as hard as I thought it would be. We did hit a bit of a rough patch, but we pulled through it. We are trying very hard to take time for just us. We've been trying to do a date night at least once a month. It's not easy for me to leave my kids, but I can honestly say that our marriage is much stronger. Our nights out give us a chance to enjoy each others company and to reconnect.

If you read my blog, you know that I found God again this year. This is a big change for me and my family. Ben and I are so much stronger than we were a year ago, not just as husband and wife, but as parents as well.

I am really looking forward to 2010. This is the year Adelae will start preschool, Brinna will reach so many milestones this year, Ben and I will continue to grow as a couple and as parents and we're going to win the lottery. Ok, we might not win the lottery, but all that other stuff will happen! This time next year will be so different!

Farewell 2009! Welcome 2010! I can't wait to see what you hold for us!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Our nieces and nephew on Ben's side of the family; our kids (of course; and the kids' adopted Grandparents, Gramma Jenny and Bozo (Ben's aunt and uncle).

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sledding is fun! Just not for Mommy!

On the day before Christmas Eve Ben took Adelae sledding. He met some of our friends and they all had a grand ol' time. Where was I? Home in my nice warm house, of course! I hate snow. I hate the cold. I hate wearing all the clothes that are necessary to go out in the cold. And I have a 5 month old baby that's just getting over a massive cold. And I don't own snow boots or snow pants. All that makes it difficult to get on board the sledding bandwagon. Ben and Adelae had lots of fun, despite a "minor" sledding accident or two. Adelae came home with a few big scratches on her face, but that's to be expected. She's not having fun unless she gets hurt. She's a klutz, just like her Mom!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How I Found my Faith

If you remember in my post about prayer, I've been a little lax in my spiritual life. It's not that I stopped believing in God, I always knew there was a higher power in my life, I just didn't worship like I should. I had a falling out with the Catholic church when I was in high school and just couldn't bring myself to feel comfortable with the faith in which I was raised. I'll be honest, through college and after I didn't really miss church. I tried to attend sporadically, but with out a clear direction I was lost. I didn't know what church to attend and none of my friends attended with any regularity.

Then I got pregnant and it all changed. Well, my need for God changed. I had a horrible pregnancy and I still think that the grace of God got Adelae and I through safely. When Adelae was born, she had a fused cleft. The doctors believe that she had a cleft that closed in the womb. She doesn't have any problems or anything with it. You can see the scar that runs from her nose to her lip, but it's very minor. People always ask me if she had a cleft and who her surgeon was. I tell them honestly "She had the best surgeon..God healed her." People, doctors especially, look at me like I'm a nut when I say that, but I know it's true. Adelae was also born with a hole in her heart. I can distinctly remember getting that call from the doctor. I was petrified that my baby was going to die. Again, God healed her. Right after her 1st birthday her heart was declared healed. So, you see, God has been at work in very noticeable ways in my life for quite some time.

Once again, I tried to return to the Catholic church, since this is what I knew. However, I just couldn't make my beliefs and the beliefs of the Catholic church mesh. So, Ben and I tried a different church. It was a non-denominational church and didn't go well, to say the least. We felt extremely out of place. I dont' know why, I just didn't feel that I belonged.

So, a few years went by. Then I stumbled upon the story of Stellan (see the button on the right side of my blog for Stellan's full story). Stellan is a little boy that was born with a condition where his heart beat was too fast. At the time I stumbled upon the blog, he was in the hospital and had been for awhile. I believe he spent almost two months in the hospital and wound up having a very scary heart surgery. What I remember most is his mother saying over and over again that she had put Stellan in Gods hands. I kept returning to her blog and pouring over the entries. I cried with her, this woman I had never met. I laughed when she told funny stories and I prayed. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed for this little boy that I had never met. I prayed that God would heal Stellan, I prayed that God would give his little body the strength it needed to hang on until the doctors found a way to manage Stellan's heart condition. Then I got angry at God. Stellan was just a little boy (I believe he was 5 months old at the time), how could God do this to him? To his family? Then I would remember that Stellan's parents had lifted him up to God. They knew that God had a plan for Stellan, and they were fine with that plan. Even if that plan meant that Stellan was to join God in Heaven. (Stellan is now completely healed of his heart condition.) I was amazed when I read that. I was inspired. I wanted to be a better person. I wanted to be a better Christian. I wanted to, as Carrie Underwood sings, "Let Jesus take the wheel." But, where should I go and what should I do?

Then, faith came from the most unlikely place. It came from my little brother. Ben and I were looking for a place to go for Easter service. My brother started talking about Pastor Jim and his little church. I figured if my brother liked it, I would too. So, away we went to St. Jacob's to celebrate Easter. We were immediately made to feel welcome. It was more than the fact that we knew some of the people there. It was more than the fact that they welcomed us with open arms. It just felt like home.

As a result, I feel closer to God. I feel like God has just been waiting for me find St. Jacob's. God never lost faith in me, that's very clear. He knew I needed to find my way back to Him on my own. I am proud to say that I am a Christian. I know that God guides my decisions. I know that I am a better mother and wife since I welcomed Jesus back into my life. I know that I am more patient, loving and kind now that I try to be more like Jesus. I know that I am not perfect. I know that I never will be. I also know that's ok and that God loves me just the way I am. I know that Adelae already loves church. I know that Brinna does too. It's the one place Brinna rarely cries or fusses. She stares with rapt attention or snuggles against me and sleeps. Adelae comes home humming the melodies from the songs we've sung that day. She asks us to say prayers with her. St. Jacob's, Pastor Jim and the entire congregation have touched our lives in a way I never thought possible. I can't tell them how thankful I am that they are in our lives. I can't begin to express the love I feel for them. They have led me back to God and that's where I plan to stay.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Here we go again! Time to admit all those things I didn't do this week!

I most certainly did not spend too much money Christmas shopping for my kids this week. Nope! I had a strict budget and I stuck to it! I most certainly would never be walking through the store and think "Oh! That would be perfect!" after already buying everything on my list.

I would never ever harass my husband while he was trying to nap...three days in a row. I would never tell him "I don't get to nap so neither do you." After all, that would be mean. I would also never make him sleep on the futon in the spare room for a week because his snoring was keeping me up at night. Nope! Now that would be plain old mean!

I would never use the excuse that the baby is sick to get out of doing housework. Nope! Never! I would never use that excuse to get out of cooking dinner either. No way!

I would never ignore my mother's wish list for Christmas and get her something she needs, not something she wants. No way! I would not try to inform her that pajamas, even nice ones, are not appropriate to wear to holiday functions. Nope! I mean, each person should be able to wear what they want...unless it's pajamas.

Anything you want to admit to this week? You can see more Not Me! Monday at My Charming Kids.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Letters of Intent

Letters of Intent

My friend Ashley over at What's on my mind, you ask? started doing Letters of Intent a few weeks ago. She gently nudged me to give it a try. So, I thought I would!

Letters of Intent was started by Foursons. It's a way to tell people exactly what you think. If you know me, you know I do just that!

Dear Husband,
I love you. You are a fantastic husband, but there are a few things you just don't "get." When you are done with a dish, please rinse it and stack it. This means that all little food particles should be gone! And stacking, I know it's a difficult concept, but I'll spell it out, bowls go inside of bowls, plates go on top of other plates, big things go on the bottom, little things go on the top. I am aware that this is a difficult concept, but I've shown you time and time again. It is also not necessary to use a plate for a sandwich, an orange or a handful of potato chips. It IS possible to re-use a glass throughout the day. If you put juice in it, rinse it out then you can use it for water. And ice cube trays are not dirty after you take the ice out of them. It's water, please refill it and put it back in the freezer instead of leaving it lay everywhere.

Also, I am not a morning person. You've known me for almost 4 years and never in any of that time have I been a morning person. When you wake up at 8:00 on a Saturday morning and sigh and moan thinking that will get me moving, it just annoys me. In fact, it makes me take that much longer to get moving. I like to drink my coffee, check my Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Deal with it. If you want to get up at 8:00 and do the dishes and clean, go for it! I'll watch you as I sip my coffee!

Another thing, I know that the laundry from last week is still on the love seat. I'm not blind, I can see it. However, I've been a little busy taking care of two sick children that need my constant attention. I'm pretty sure you are able to go through the laundry and pick out your things. I think it's absurd that you expect every piece of your clothing hung (except socks and underwear). I refuse to hand up that ratty old t-shirt from high school. You know, the one with the arms cut out and holes all over it? If I had may way, it would be in the trash can.

I'm well aware that you have jeans with holes in them and that you think you need all new ones. I get it. However, until we find the seeds to a money tree or the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you'll have to wait. I have one good pair of jeans (and those don't even fit) and I make them work. You can do the same until we have extra money.

I'm pretty sure you do these things simply to get a rise out of me. That is my only explanation for the fact that I have told you OVER and OVER again! You are a really smart guy and I know you know better.

Your loving wife,


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I hate that....

Sorry readers, I've sort of lost the thankfullness lately. It's not that I'm not thankful for things, even though some days it's hard, I just haven't had time to blog. Adelae is sick, I'm sick, and Brinna has been sick since Thanksgiving. I took the kiddos to the doctor today and it turns out Brinna has a double ear infection and a sinus infection. Since she's been coughing for so long, the doctor wanted her tested for whooping cough as well. Those results should be in sometime this week. Adelae has a nasty cold and I'm to watch her closely for signs of pneumonia. In the meantime, she's just miserable. There's nothing I can do and that makes me feel like a failure as a mother. Add that to the fact that I've been chalking Brinna's cough up to a cold and now I find out that it could be something serious, and you'll realize why I'm feeling pretty cruddy today. I hate this. I hate that I don't know when my kids are really sick or if it's just a cold. I hate that it makes me feel like a failure. I hate the fact that I'm sick and therefor am doing a half-ass job at being a mom and a wife. I hate the fact that my mother keeps questioning my mothering skills. I hate the fact that I'm so tired I can barely move. I hate the fact that Brinna only sleeps for three hours at a time. I hate the fact that the reason she only sleeps for three hours is because she's in pain. I hate the fact that instead of giving her medicine, like a good mom, I get frustrated and just pray that she goes back to sleep. I hate the fact that Ben has to work 12 hour shifts this week, so he's little help at home. I hate this crappy day and I can't wait for it to be over.

I would like to add that as I'm typing this, I'm looking out at the most amazing sunset. Perhaps it's God's way of telling me to suck it up. So, I guess I'm thankful for that!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm Thankful Days #29 and #30

Ok, I've been working on this post since yesterday, so I'm making it day 29 and 30. That may be cheating, but I don't care since it's my blog and I get to make the rules!

If you had told me 4 years ago I'd be writing this post today, I'd have told you that you probably had fallen and hit your head. I would then have laughed. Today I'm thankful for Carol, my stepmother. Our relationship has been, do I put That honestly doesn't even begin to describe it. In fact, her and my dad have been married for 28 (I think) years. We've spent almost all of them not talking. In fact, most of my life we weren't even able to be in the same room together. We had sort of a mutual unspoken agreement that we just stayed away from each other. We didn't live together when I was growing up, I was raised by my aunt and uncle (that's a whole different long story). As a result of the tension between my stepmother and I, I had no relationship with my brothers, my sister or my dad. Fortunately for all of us, that changed when I got pregnant with Adelae. It took some urging from my sister, but slowly the lines of communication opened up. It started with a phone call, that's it. One simple little phone call. The words "I'm Sorry" were never spoken, but in this case they didn't have to be. A simple phone call was enough to start our troubled relationship down the road to recovery. And it didn't take too long either. Within a few months, she was helping me plan my wedding and even playing a major role. I can remember the exact moment I knew we had a relationship. Oddly enough, it was a disagreement that made me realize it. I had a few things I needed to get off of my chest and I thought "may as well speak my mind, what do I have to lose." I couldn't believe it! We heard each other out, there was no fighting, no screaming, no tears, nada! It was an actual discussion and I think we came away from it with a better understanding of each other. We were also both able to realize that a third party had conspired to keep our relationship as rocky as possible. As the last few years have passed, I've learned so much about the woman that she is. I can appreciate her for that, and I know that it's ok if I don't agree with every thing she says or does; just like it's ok if she doesn't agree with everything I say and do. My girls have a fantastic relationship with her, my dad, my brothers, sister and all their kids. I can't even begin to express how I feel when I hear her say things like "I'm doing this because I love you" or "This is my daughter." We may never have a true mother/daughter relationship, but I'm ok with that. We have something that I never thought we'd have...we're friends. I thank God every single day that he put healing and forgiveness in both our hearts. So, today I write a post I never thought I'd write because today I'm thankful for my stepmother.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm Thankful Day #28

Today I'm thankful for sisterly love. I was really worried that Adelae was going to have a hard time adjusting to having a little sister. "Just wait" people said. "Just wait until she wants your attention and you have to take care of the baby." "Just wait till XYZ happens." Well, either I'm the world's best mom (and I don't think I am) or I'm lucky enough to have a very well adjusted child. Adelae has never been jealous of Brinna. Sure, there were times when she wanted Daddy to hold just her, or for Mommy to snuggle with just her, but they've been few and far between. Luckily, if we explain to her that Daddy or Mommy has to hold Brinna too, she says "OK!" Most often the first thing she says in the morning is "Where's Brinna? Can I see her? Is she awake? Can I touch her? I love my sister!" Brinna can't talk and tell us how much she loves her sister, but it's written all over her tiny little face. She LOVES to watch Adelae play or listen to her talk. She doesn't even seem to mind that Adelae gets a little overzealous with her hugs and kisses. I'm sure in a few years I'll be hearing a lot of "Mommy Brinna won't leave me alone." or "Mommy, Adelae won't let me play." But, I can tell these girls are going to be the best of friends.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm Thankful Day #27

I'm thankful for second hand things. Almost everything in our house is second hand. We got our stove for $50 at a yard sale, our fridge was my Dad and Carol's, our table was my brother's, Adelae's bed was bought off of Craigslist, most of the girls' clothes are second hand, almost all of our infant toys (walker, exersaucer, swing and bouncy seat) came from either friends or a second hand store. I count my blessings that we have friends and family that are willing to give us their gently used things. I am also thankful for the people that donate or sell their items to the second hand store. With out their generosity (let's face it, they could just throw the stuff out) we wouldn't have half of the things that we do. Like many people, we just can't afford to buy everything brand new. Someday I'll replace the second had appliances with new, someday I'll have a kitchen table with matching chairs, someday my kids will have all brand new clothes, someday..... But until then, we'll be thankful for the second hand things that we have.

This walker is second hand, or maybe even third or fourth hand, and as you can see, it doesn't bother Brinna at all!

**Disclaimer--I know walker's aren't safe for kids. I can assure you that this one has a locking feature on the wheels. I also know that her feet don't touch the ground and it's probably bad for her hips.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I'm Thankful Day #26

No, I didn't forget today's post. We've been really busy lately! With Christmas coming and two sick kids, I haven't had much time to write the last few days. So, today I'm thankful for forgotten thermometers. We somehow managed to misplace our good ear thermometer and I was in a near panic. I KNEW Adelae had a bad fever, but I couldn't tell just how bad it was. After much searching and digging through things, I stumbled across an almost new thermometer. It was just a regular digital, but better than nothing! When I took Adelae's temp (this was last night by the way) it was 101.5 under her arm. I do NOT do well when my kids have fevers. I can deal with a cold no problem, but not fevers! I think it's because Adelae never really gets fevers. I think she's had a high fever maybe one other time in her life. That was when she had a horrible double ear infection. So, of course, my mind immediately goes into over drive when I see numbers about 100 on the thermometer. I finally got her to take some medicine and her fever broke, or so we thought. This afternoon she felt warm again, so I got out the thermometer that I had found (and put away in it's proper place so I wouldn't lose it again) and checked her again. Her temp was creeping up into the 100's again. So, I dosed her again with Motrin. Of course, I had to check Brinna (no temp, thank goodness). I did wind up finding the lost thermometer, only to find that it has quit working properly. So, I'm glad I found the other one!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I'm Thankful Day #25

Today I'm thankful that Ben passed his state fire test. He's put a lot of time and effort into his classes and I'm so glad it's over! He is now able to go in to burning buildings and put out fires. Wait..that sounds kind of dangerous. Maybe I'm not so thankful after all.... Hmm... In all seriousness though, I'm really proud of him. Both my brothers are fire fighters and I know they'll all look out for each other.

I'm Thankful Day #24

Yesterday I was thankful for Tylenol and Advil. I had a killer headache and they helped me make it through the day. Ahhh...sweet relief from pain. Thanks!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I'm Thankful Day #23

Today I'm thankful for Christmas decorations! I love it when all the decorations are up. We don't have a ton of things, but I love putting up the things we do have. This year I didn't do a lot of the "putting up" of decoration. I was busy taking care of a sick infant and taking pictures. Brinna slept through most of the decorating, but we did get a few pictures with her.

I left the tree "decorationing" to Ben and Adelae this year. She loved helping! It resulted in a lot of ornaments on the bottom row of the tree. I think each branch had about 6 different ornaments on it. We moved them and when she noticed, I told her Santa did it. I assured her that he had to move them so there was room under the tree for presents.

Adelae always puts the angel on the tree. I suppose next year we'll have to give each girl a turn. Or maybe just get two angels!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I'm Thankful Day #22

I'm thankful for laundry. Yes, I'm crazy! No, not really..let me explain. See, I'm thankful for laundry because that means that my family has clothes to wear. They may not be name brand or top of the line, but they're clothes. And when I finish with laundry, they're clean clothes. I'm glad that my daughter "helps" me with the laundry. I'm giving her skills that she will be able to use her whole life. Plus, it gives us some really good mommy/Adelae time. Don't get me wrong, if someone wants to come do the laundry, I'll gladly let you! No? No takers? Hmm...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I'm Thankful Day #21

I'm thankful for forgiveness. I'm having one of those introspective days. It's taken me and my family (Dad, stepmom, sister, brothers) along time to get where we are. None of that would be possible with out the power of forgiveness. It's not always necessary to hear the words "I'm sorry" because in this case actions truly do speak louder than words. I went from having no contact with my family to being fully immersed in their world. It's such a wonderful feeling. I can pick up the phone and have a conversation with any of them at any time. (Well, maybe not in the middle of the night...they'd probably be a little upset at a 3:00 am phone call just to chat.) You've read about my Dad and my sister and someday soon you'll read about my stepmom and none of them would be in my life without forgiveness.

I'm Thankful Day #21

***I had this done yesterday, but I must have gotten interrupted and never published it. I can't imagine what would have distracted me. Hmm.... ;) ***

Today I'm thankful for my bread maker. It's not new or fancy, but it's mine! It came from my grandmother via my Aunt Carol. I remember when Grandma first got the bread maker. We thought it was so cool! She was constantly baking different kinds of bread. Like most things, the enthusiasm wore off after awhile, but she would still bake fresh bread whenever I asked. So, now when I make bread, I think of her. Even though she's gone, it's another great connection I have with her. Plus, have you ever smelled bread baking? It's smells SO good! And it's awfully tasty too!