Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More Snow!

Who would have believed that we would experience MORE snow in December this year!?  And who would have thought we would get almost 2 feet!  Crazy!  In true Hines form, though, we missed it.  The last significant snow was Presidents' Day weekend in 2003...which was the weekend that Philip and I took a cruise to the Bahamas.  We were clueless and didn't even know it was supposed to snow.  We found out by happening to pass a TV on the cruise ship with a news show talking about all the snow in DC!  We arrived back in VA to find out car nearly buried at Dulles Airport.  Of course we were not prepared for this!  Philip was working on digging us out with his hands when two guys came by in a truck looking for people to dig out.  What a blessing!

So, anyway, where were we for the Blizzard of '09?  Philip and I had made plans to get away for the weekend to Lancaster, PA.  We decided to go ahead with our plans, despite the prediction of snow.  We took the boys to Philip's parents and headed on to Lancaster.  By the next morning, we were snowed in.  Fortunately, we were staying at a really nice place and had brought some movies with us!  And fortunately, we had brought food for lunch with us and breakfast was provided.  They also had a billiards room on site.  And who knew I was a pool shark?  LOL.  Seriously though, I am not sure that I had ever played a game of pool in my life.  So, in a few short hours I went from being completely awful to really not that bad.
So, we had a great time, despite the roughly 10" of snow.  We safely made it back for the boys and then came home.  We were figuring on finding our driveway and house buried...and that's what we found! Fortunately, this time we were prepared.  Philip had brought a shovel in the trunk and started digging us IN when we got home! 

Service with a smile!

This is as far as he got before Andrew and I were too cold to wait any longer.  So, we just walked through the rest to get into the house!

Caleb was pretty thrilled about all the snow.  It's really too bad we didn't get to really enjoy it.  We left just a day and a half later for NC and weren't able to get out and play in it that day.

The view of our deck.  This was a LOT of snow!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Not As OK As I Thought

Grief is an interesting thing.  What amazes me most about it is how it can sneak up on you almost unawares.  And how you can "feel" fine, and then be overcome by tears the next minute.  My baby was due on Tuesday, but he probably would have been born in the last few days.  I really am at peace with losing him, and if you receive a copy of our Christmas letter in the next week or so, you'll see how God has used his precious, short life in my life in amazing ways.  YET, this weekend, I am on the verge of tears.  Deep ones.  Not just the little little ones.  I am doing my best not to suppress them when they come, because I've done that before and I have learned that suppressing grief doesn't help you deal with it.

Also coming out of nowhere this weekend are hormones.  Close your eyes if you're a male, but I don't usually experience PMS.  But this weekend, I am just full of sticklers. How's that for diplomatic? :)  Just not myself.  Not that I am mad about it, but it's kind of a cruel thing of my body to make me go through this right at the time when I would have been experiencing joy over what my body had done.  Maybe that's why it's putting me through this.  Perhaps it's my body's way of grieving our loss. 

So, if you see me in the next few days.  Watch out...I might cry.  But just let me, ok?  I need to.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cookie Decorating!

We hosted a cookie decorating party again this year.  It was a blast!  It was so funny to watch the kids with their first few cookies.  It was kind of a sprinkle dump fest!  However, after all the other kids left, Caleb and Joshua decided to decorate more cookies and really did a nice job.  They even used my icing bags to pipe around the edges.  I was surprised how well they did with that, even Joshua.  Maybe I have a future cake decorator on my hands. :)



Andrew was thrilled to get to eat a cookie!

The finished product!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

St. Nicholas Day

This year we celebrated St. Nicholas Day for the first time.  We don't include Santa in our Christmas traditions, even though the boys know who he is....or isn't, as the case may be.  Anyway, we wanted to incorporate the traditional elements, without confusing what we're really celebrating.  And so, enter St. Nicholas Day.  If you don't know about the origins of St. Nicholas, you can read about it here, particularly in the Legends and Folklore section.  The bottom line is that he was a real man who anonymously gave to those in need.  So, we decided to follow the tradition of putting our shoes on the hearth (or outside the door) on the night of the 5th and on the 6th we all opened our stockings.  It was a fun way to make Christmas seem longer.  And I appreciated having something to celebrate early in the month.

The traditional gifts for St. Nicholas Day are nuts, fruit, candy and/or a small gift.  

Here are some pics!




Saturday, December 5, 2009

The First Snow!

On Saturday, December 5th, we got about 6" of snow.  No one believed that it would actually happen because we usually don't get much of anything when snow is predicted.  The boys were so thrilled with the snow.  They were especially thrilled because this year they were able to go sledding.  They first sledded on the hill on our court, then ventured out later to the "Sledding Hill" a few minutes' walk away.  They had a blast!  It was a perfect day.  I made potato soup for lunch.  Then while on the big hill the boys ran into some friends of ours who came over for hot chocolate and cookies.  Then we made Christmas cookies and spent the rest of the day relaxing by the fire. It was delightful!  If only all snow days could be so perfect!

Andrew's first snow fun:

Sledding by the house:

Getting ready to go down the big hill with the Klabundes and Miss Morgan!

And a wipe out!

 Christmas Cookie Fun!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Reston Town Center Fun

Recently, we had a beautiful, warm December day, so I decided to take the boys to Reston Town Center.  Our primary goal was to see the Gingerbread House display in the Reston Hyatt lobby.  But, since the weather was perfect that day, the boys also enjoyed playing in the fountain, looking at the Christmas tree, watching the ice rink be zambonied (is that a word?  Do you know I once worked with someone from the Zamboni family?), and enjoying some sweet snacks.

Here are a few pictures from the morning.

Half of the display:

The other half:

My Favorite Building:

Snacks at Panera. 

Three Boys at the Fountain:

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Gallbladder...

Soooo....as many of you know, I have this little problem with my gallbladder.  Actually, it's been a really big problem since April of this year.  When I finally when to the doctor and had tests runs in Sept/Oct, I was predictably told, "your gallbladder is a ticking time bomb.  if I were you, I'd have it out right away."  Lovely.  Well, I'd already been doing research on gallbladder removals and was concerned by the fact that so many people continue to have related issues even after having the organ removed.  So, I didn't want to just jump in and take it out.  Five years ago when I had this issue before, God miraculously brought healing to my body and I wanted to seek His will and find out if He was going to do that again...or if I should go ahead and have surgery.  The response from God through multiple sources was clear: He wanted to bring healing to me and in the process use this to dramatically change my life. 

So, in the meantime, I was to do what I could do, which in my case was to go through a 2 week liver/gallbladder cleanse and detox.  If you've never done a liver/gallbladder cleanse, I actually highly recommend it because the liver is so incredibly important and many of us are walking around with poorly functioning livers (simply because of our American diets).  Anyway, the cleanse consists of eating only raw veggies (in various forms).  Let me tell you, I'd have given anything for a piece of bread!  I wasn't really hungry, but I was getting tired of eating the same things. :) 

God also made it clear that there was an emotional cleansing that needed to happen...that this wasn't just a physical issue and He has been faithful to direct me through this process.  I have cried more in the last month than I have in the past several years combined.  It's just amazing what's been coming up...and out. 

So, where does this leave me?  I am currently on a modified liver friendly diet and it's helping immensely.  Most days I feel good.  God is clearly at work in me, but is also clearly not finished with this process.  I tell you, it's so tempting to just go "sign up" for the surgery to get this over with, but God has made it clear that that would short-circuit this process and I am not about to do that. 

I would appreciate your continued prayers for total healing for me: body, mind and soul.  I hope that one day soon I can share the amazing work that God has DONE.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quoteables and such things

Having kids is great for hearing funny things!  Such an example just occurred.  Joshua just walked in and said, "Mommy, there is a miracle on the playground!  The slide is dry, but the playground is wet!"  I guess he was channeling the story of Gideon and fleece and proclaiming this happening to be a miracle.  Love it.

Joshua, as you may know, is our energetic kid.  When he was three, we nicknamed him Tigger because he didn't walk anywhere...he BOUNCED.  And sometimes, he would accidentally walk somewhere, turn around and go back to the beginning...and then bounce!  Anyway, a few weeks ago, we had just returned home from church on a Sunday morning when Joshua informed us, "I have a lot of bouncing to do today."  And he did. :)  He also thinks he can fly.  He is also convinced that the airtime achieved when jumping off the ottoman or his bed is "flying"

Andrew is just starting to talk, but is becoming a good communicator, and a good listener.  He still loves his mama and now will attach himself to me if he thinks I may be heading out the door without him.  Last week, I was getting ready upstairs and he wouldn't let go of my legs, so (since he was coming along) I asked him, "Andrew, where are your shoes" figuring that would distract him for a while.  He left...and about 3 minutes later came trotting back upstairs with both his shoes.  It was so cute!

The other night, after Caleb and Joshua had given me "hugs and kisses" at bedtime and run off upstairs for the nighttime routine, Andrew walked over to where I was sitting and pulled on my sweatshirt saying "iss, iss."  I realized he was asking for a kiss, so I leaned over, he kissed me and then headed upstairs after the boys.  So sweet!

Just for my own remembrance, off the top of my head, he has words for:
thank you (signs please)
Yes (he nods)

By the way, Andrew is finally walking!!  He started almost 3 weeks ago at 17.5 months.  He had been taking up to 6 steps for 2-3 months, but one day just decided he was really gonna do it.  I love his stage when they toddle around.  So adorable to watch. 

Caleb has had his share of quoteables recently, but they are kind of hard to share without understanding all the context.  However, a few weeks ago I had gone shopping at Kohls and had some things for Philip to try on and a few sweaters for myself.  I was explaining to him the frustration of being a mom because when you have babies, your size keeps changing and sometimes something you bought the year before is either too big or too small now (fortunately, everything is too BIG!).  I was explaining that guys don't usually have this problem because they don't have babies.  Later that day, we were having dinner and Morgan, the church intern who lives with us, was upstairs and Caleb was filling her in on why I had been clothes shopping that day.  He was explaining about the size fluctuations that occurred.  Then, he pointed out to her that boys don't normally have this problem.  Morgan almost feel out of her chair laughing.  She also almost spewed us all with Diet Coke, but fortunately avoided that problem!  It was hysterical.  That was just nothing something you expect to hear from a 5 year old boy.  Maybe you had to be there... :)  Classic.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Good Reminder

Today is our 7th anniversary. It was spent in rather unconventional ways, but it ended well. We went to dinner as a family and then subjected the boys to parts of our wedding and reception video footage. :) Anyway, Philip and I have a tradition of keeping a journal where we record our monthly "memorable" moments. Then at the end of the year, we go through the months of the past year and pick our top 10 favorite memories, which we then record in a different journal, along with our goals for the next year. So, this morning, while I was being radioactive during my gall bladder HIDA scan and laying under some machine and unable to move, Philip read me the list of all our highlights of the past year. It's amazing how much we forget over time and it was so good to be reminded of all the wonderful things that have happened in the last 12 months...many of them in 2009. A year I said I'd really like to move past. And I would in a lot of ways. However, this really has been a wonderful, special year. It was good to get a reminder.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A New Year?

Is 2009 over yet?? Just wondering because this year has been a doozy and we're kinda ready to move on. First, I must say, we are SO blessed and SO grateful for all we have and the ways the Lord has shown us His favor. However, that doesn't mean that all is good, you know? This year has just been chock full of struggles in the health department...and almost all have affected me. It's tough being a mom no matter what. It's even tougher when you're under the weather or operating at a sub-par level. Especially when you believe in doing things with excellence.

I'm sure many of you remember the strep epidemic that was our house this Spring, with me having six cases of it before we finally figured out the boys were silent carriers. Let me tell you, any twitch of the throat strikes fear in my heart now! Joshua was found to be carrying strep again in August (and again with no symptoms), so we're going to have to keep a really close eye on him. We don't want a repeat performance!

Then, I got pregnant. This was good news and we were so excited about welcoming a new family member (another boy, who we had already named) as our family Christmas gift. However, as you all know, 13 weeks into the pregnancy, I again miscarried. Not only was this upsetting, but the residual effects of this pregnancy have been very stressful, difficult and ongoing. As soon as I conceived, I started experiencing gall bladder attacks several times a week. Many of you probably don't know that I had gall bladder problems almost 6 years ago that were triggered by Caleb's birth. I suffered tremendously for 4 months, but felt strongly that God would heal me and that I should not remove the organ. He did heal me, and I did not have it removed. I was subsequently pregnant four times with no reemergence of the problem. Until I conceived this Spring. I was hoping and praying that with the loss of the pregnancy and resuming hormonal normalacy that the attacks would stop. They didn't. I continued to experience weeks with no problem, then weeks with 2-3 attacks. I put off going to a doctor because I just didn't want to be told "Have it out." Well, September 3rd changed that. I was 20 minutes from leaving for the airport to fly to Seattle when I went from feeling perfectly fine, to on the floor yelling in pain. For 15 terrible minutes I thought about how unfortunate it was I was going to be going to the ER instead of the airport. Then, mercifully, the pain stopped. And I left for the airport and had a delightful time in Seattle. Although, let me tell you....trepidation and fear filled me as I consumed my next meal at 35,000 feet in the air. I almost warned my seat partner of what could happen, but didn't. Anyway, after this occurred, Philip said "that's it. I'M making you an appt!" Predictably, the doctor said "you should probably have it out," however before I make that decision we are having some testing done. This morning I had an abdominal ultrasound to see if there are stones in my gall bladder. (Five years ago it was 1/3 full of stones). This coming Monday (our 7th anniversary, btw), I will have a HIDA Scan, which is a procedure where they test the functionality of the gall bladder. If it comes back at less than 30%...I am in trouble. So, please pray.

Also triggered by the miscarriage was a journey over the summer into depression. I knew something was wrong because I just didn't feel like myself, but I figured it was just the hormones equalizing. However, in September, it became unavoidably obvious that something serious was wrong. I went to see someone and was diagnosed with a serotonin deficiency. Once I started reading about the symptoms of that, it all made perfect sense. I am taking some steps right now to try to correct things naturally, but would appreciate your prayers for wisdom. This news really rocked my world because of what has happened to my mom. About five years ago she was diagnosed as bi-polar in an experience over a few months that was horrifying and emotionally terrible to watch and live through. And something I never want to have to face myself. (Although, it entirely possible that what happened to her was a result of mismanagement of her case, more than it was something genetically predisposed to happen) Finding out that I was already on the edge of depression horrified me. The good news here is that we caught this early...and there is certainly no guarantee that things will go any further...but the possibly is there. And is scares me.

Not only has the "depression" (and I hate to call it that because I'm not exactly depressed) caused me to be somewhat emotionally flat, unstable and sometimes apathetic (all things that I normally am NOT), it has also caused me to feel scattered and overwhelmed and forgetful. As someone who has always been able to handle multiple balls in the air with ease, this has been quite frustrating. Like this morning when I showed up for my ultrasound without the required doctor's order I had left on my desk. Or two weeks ago when I got to the grocery store, only to realize I'd left my wallet at home, which normally wouldn't have been a big deal because I have a debit card on my key chain, but I had accidentally paid a bill twice and that day was in danger of overdrawing the account! So, home I went... But I don't normally do these things! Or feel like I am buried under a mountain of things to do with no way out. It's so frustrating. And don't try talking to me on a day when I haven't had enough sleep...I might not be able to tell you my name! HA!

So, here's the good news for me. God is in control. Boy can I say that I do NOT understand, like or appreciate what is going on in my life right now. But, I do know that God's word tells us that He can work ALL THINGS for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (that would be me!). I am not trying to over-spiritualize, but it sure is nice to know that He has this under control, even though I don't get it. And that one day I'll hopefully be able to look back and say "Oh, that's why that happened."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Annual Zoo Fun

For the last several years, we have taken a family trip to the National Zoo on Labor Day weekend. Since I was in Seattle on Labor Day this year, our zoo trip got pushed back a week. The weather was perfect the day we went. Most cloudy and about 70 degrees. No one got hot or cold. Amazing. And since it was cooler, many of the animals were out enjoying themselves. Philip's mom and dad met us at the Zoo for the day and we all had a great time. Here are some pictures from the day.

This was the second year we got great views of the pandas.

The elephant family was out to get a drink from the pond.

Grandma and the boys by the lioness

Andrew in the small mammal house since he is...a small mammal. :) (isn't his shirt adorable?)

Look at that cute face? I mean really...who couldn't love this kid?

Andrew looking seriously cute on the play cube we moved from the yard to the deck. He was wandering off the deck all over the yard, so we moved this up here, and closed off both deck exits. Now he can safely play to his heart's content. But while he can climb the slide and maneuver all over this thing...he is still, at 16 months+, not walking.

Comings and Goings

This was by far the busiest summer we've ever had. Between swim lessons, VBS, a trip to the beach, two trips to North Carolina and starting school, we had a lot going on! The summer passed by in a flash. But it was fun!

To end the summer, I was able to go visit my dear friend Laura, who introduced Philip and I over 10 year ago. She and I met on my first Teen Missions International team to the Czech Republic back in 1995. She and her family live near Seattle, WA, so it was quite a trip. I was blessed to be able to spend five whole days there, while Philip held down the fort at home. In addition to getting to visit some of my favorite Seattle area places, I was also able to spend an afternoon with Philip's Grandma and Aunt and Uncle. I had a blast...and apparently so did the boys. When asked by me when I returned home if they had missed me, Caleb replied "Yes, but we had FUN!" Good...maybe I'll get to do it again sometime. :) Here are a few pictures from my trip.

Here we are in Discovery Park. I was so happy the weather cleared up that last day so that I could see the mountains! I just love big mountains! And I just love Laura. :)

Laura's lovely family: husband Mayson, daughters R and K and son C.

Last time Philip and I saw Mayson and Laura in Seattle (when I was pregnant with Caleb), we took a picture with the four of us on this wall. So, we pretended Philip was there. :)

Here I am at Snoqualmie Falls. I called the boys from here because Caleb and I had been looking at youtube videos of these falls just a few weeks before. He asked me to take a picture for him...so I did. :)
Such a fun visit with so many happy and wonderful memories made!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Little Swimmers

Around the Hines household, this has been the summer to learn to swim. To get things started, we signed Caleb up for swim lessons at our neighborhood pool. The lessons met 2 times a week for three weeks. Caleb had told me earlier in the year that he wanted to learn to swim this summer, but when the time came for the lessons....he hated them! He cried and complained... Fortunately, he had a wonderful, patient teacher. The breakthrough came between lessons 2 and 3 when Philip was able to get him underwater multiple times one day by causing "shipwrecks" (Caleb would ride on his back in the pool, but the ship kept sinking). Eventually, he started warming up to the idea of going under water. Then, he tried goggles...and we were home free! His teacher couldn't believe the change! So, we were blessed to be able to come visit my parents in NC a few days after the lessons ended, and my dad took over where the teacher left off, making great progress during the week we were here.

Joshua, on the other hand, though he told me during Caleb's lessons that he too was ready to
learn, got cold feet. We couldn't even get him all the way into the water until our last day here. However, the next round of swim lessons began two days later and both boys were signed up, so it was too late for poor Joshua, who had decided he wanted to learn "when he was 5". He had a tough time during the lessons, but did make some progress. The amusing thing was I heard him comment to his classmates immediately following the last lesson: "It's so funny! I just finished swim lessons and I still don't know how to swim!" Ha! Well, right around the time their lessons ended, I decided I'd bring the boys back to NC. My brother Tim was home for a few weeks, so I figured we should take advantage. Again, my dad has been able to make a lot of progress with both boys. We still have a few more days here, but both of the boys are doing really great!

Caleb starting to work on his kick with my dad in July:

Then Dad moved on to trying to teach him to dive off the side and swim to the other side. Didn't quite make it.

Caleb had lots of fun jumping off the diving board. Last year with Philip. This year to Philip.

Finally on the last day, Joshua got in the water. Yeay!

This trip, Joshua has worked with Grandpa a lot. He has developed a good kick and is now decent at doing a stroke with his arms.

Caleb can now dive off the board and swim to the side without assistance. He can also swim the width of the pool without stopping, and dive off the board and swim to the deep end. He's hoping to swim all the way end to end by the time we leave on Sunday. We'll see!

Both boys have spent a lot of time swimming around on the noodles! And with Uncle Tim.

And lest we forget Andrew...here he is looking cute. He actually didn't like the float very much, but loves being in the water!