Saturday, November 7, 2015

Trip to D.C.

Wow, this was such a neat trip.  On Tuesday of this week, we woke up early, took care of all the farm chores and headed up to Washington, D.C....about a 4 hour trip from our house.  We arrived near 10:30am at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America.  The monastery has replicas of the shrines that you would find in the Holy Land, and it was beautiful.  I handed the camera off to Isabel and she just took all kinds of pictures.  We toured the main level of the church and then had a tour of the replica crypts below the church.  The entire tour was about 1 hour.

From there we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed over to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and ducked down into the crypt church to attend the Solemn Mass of First Profession to witness the first vows of ten sisters of Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara which is part of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word.

Although people did take pictures during the Mass, I did not feel comfortable doing so, nor could I have as Ian fell asleep on my lap during the first reading and slept through the entire Mass (which lasted from 2pm until 3:45pm!)  But it was so beautiful....there were so many priests and brothers there, the family of the sisters, the other nuns in the order, the celebrant was Cardinal McCarrick, the singing and atmosphere was other-worldly!  What an inspiration to all of our homeschool friends who attended this ceremony....particularly those who God may be calling to a religious vocation.  (Maybe even Isabel!) ;)

And after the Mass, I also have zero pictures of these beautiful sisters...but it was like attending a wedding.  Their faces were just all smiles and glowing! 

We went upstairs to the main part of the Basilica and found a chapel for our family to make our own family was appropriate that we stepped into the Chapel of Our Lady of Czestochowa (as our home parish in Raleigh is a Shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa!).  There was also a mosaic (well, almost everything in the basilica is made of mosaic tiles) of Saint (Pope) John Paul II, which was really neat because our sweet homeschool friends gave us one of the holy cards of JPII that they had been handed when they walked into the vows Mass (we had come in minutes too late and they had run out of these holy cards, so I had no idea until she handed me one of theirs for us to keep) and it is not just a holy card, but a 2nd class relic of one of his garments!  So walking into the chapel with both of these images was really a little smile from God.  We literally had just enough time to kneel down and pray this consecration prayer that I had found online before Caroline was just at the end of her little 2 1/2 year old "rope".  So it was a disappointment that Isabel was not able to see, explore, and pray at this magnificent is just gorgeous and every nook and corner calls your attention to God's glory!  What a place!



The next morning we woke up and swam in our hotel's rooftop pool (enclosed and heated, thank was still chilly, but the kids loved it).  Then we went to visit the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial which led us by the reflecting pool and both the WWII and Vietnam Memorials.  The younger kids were pretty uncooperative with pictures but I suppose that was to be expected as it was a long walk from the monument to the memorial and back to our car, and they had exercised themselves quite thoroughly already in the hotel pool..... ;)  So the pics that we got were just what we got!

This field trip was a great reminder that planning a trip with little ones never ends up exactly how you envision it in your mind ;)



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

10 more weeks...more or less.

I am 30 weeks pregnant.  So we are in the real countdown!  Just 10 short/long weeks left until this new baby arrives.  I had an ultrasound with Maternal Fetal Medicine docs on 10/5 and baby is still showing a slightly larger area near it's is actually the "renal pelvis" that they are looking at.  But the good news is that my placenta has shifted into a favorable position, so it is no longer covering my cervix at all!

I have to go back for one more ultrasound with MFM on 10/26 and the doctor said they will know for sure by that time (32 weeks) whether or not the renal pelvis is too big/a problem.  So 2 more weeks of waiting for that.

This is a super busy month and I know it will just get busier as we get into November and then December! 

Isabel will be showing our baby goats in the NC State Fair in about a week!  So there is a lot of preparation for that since this will be our first time showing any sort of animal in a competition!  I'm sure there will be a learning curve ;)

Then we have Halloween and All Saint's Day the following weekend and right after that we zip up to Washington, D.C. to see some religious sisters take their vows!  I am so excited about this trip because we will visit the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and our family is going to make a family consecration to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary while we are there.  We also get to take a tour of a Franciscan's just going to be a treat for our family and I am so looking forward to it! 

Then....well, like I said it will be November and then Thanksgiving and Advent starting....whew.  Then it's baby time!

Have I said that I cannot wait for baby time?  I am so excited to meet this new little person!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

27 weeks with a pic!

I just hit 27 weeks and baby is delivering some strong kicks and punches these days.  We attended my brother's wedding this past weekend and got some really beautiful pictures of the kids and a couple good ones of me and Rob too! :) 

Poor Ian, if only I had noticed his pants button had popped open. ;)
C did not want to participate in picture I got a good one of her pouting.



I was really excited because I took all these pics myself!  Well, except for the one shot I am in ;)  And I was so happy with how they turned out....I can't wait to see what the wedding photographer got!
As far as the pregnancy goes, I am still on my crazy thyroid med schedule and my thyroid levels are now balanced for the time being, so I will continue with all the fasting and pill popping.  My next high level ultrasound to check placenta placement and the baby's kidneys is October 5th, so I'm praying all is well/resolved and also quite excited to get another peek at baby.
I am feeling...well, achy.  Ever since about mid-way through my pregnancy with Ian, and during each subsequent pregnancy, my left leg goes numb/tingly/pins and needles throughout my pregnancy and gets progressively worse.  It usually resolves months after delivery, but man, this time it is really just driving me crazy.  If I brush against something it either feels like hot ice (I know, that doesn't make any sense), or a bee sting, or a knife, and if I rub my leg it is painful.  So, definitely counting down the weeks until little baby's arrival with great anticipation!

Friday, August 7, 2015

20 1/2 weeks PIC and Thyroid Med Tweak

My NFP/NaPro doctor tweaked my thyroid meds after a blood draw last week, showing that my thyroid ratios were off.

I did not start these new meds/dosages until today because last week we were on vacation and the schedule for taking the doses is a bit crazy.  I was not about to start that at the beach.  But speaking of the beach, here is an updated pic of our little family from this past week!

Everyone is smiling except C!

My Armour got reduced from 45mg 1x per day to 15mg 1x/day. 

And she added 5mcg of Liothyronine Sodium every 12 hours.

Now, this doesn't sound like a big deal except ideally, neither of these medicines should be taken together, and they both require fasting 4 hours prior to and 30 minutes after taking them!  Plus I have to take my regular vitamins a good bit of time apart from these.

So here is my new schedule:

8pm No more eating for the night.
12am (yes, midnight) Take 1 Liothyronine Sodium pill.
6am take 1 Armour Thyroid
No food until 6:30am.
6:30am-8am Eat lots of breakfast ;)
8am No more eating until 12:30pm.
12 noon 1 Liothyronine Sodium pill.
12:30pm eat lunch!
5-6pm Take vitamins with dinner.
8pm No more eating for the night.....and my medicine cycle starts over.

I think most people take their LS pill like 6am and 6pm, but I thought that might be harder to fast from 2-6:30pm, than to do a morning fast.  So when Rob recommended this time frame 12am and 12pm, I asked the pharmacist and she said that would be ideal, if it was possible for me.

I have been so moody, short and snappy lately....I can't believe I didn't guess that something was off with my thyroid levels.  And frankly, I'm so glad they ARE off, because it helps explain my increased fatigue and my moodiness.  So I'm actually excited to get it my hormones leveled back out and hopefully feel better even though the med schedule does sound crazy.  Honestly, I am waking up so much right now to run to the bathroom in the middle of the night, that it didn't seem that out of line to just set my alarm and take a pill.

Baby is very active these days.  I've started having heart burn if I eat anything with any spice....even BBQ sauce!  We have a boy's name picked out and are very up-in-the-air about girl names....we have a list but I don't feel very led to a certain name for a girl at the least we still have lots of time.  And of course we are thinking this baby is a boy, I don't feel a lot of pressure to have a girl's name ready ;)  That's about it!  Thanks for all the prayers for my pregnancy and Baby Holmes :)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Anatomy Scan 18 weeks and 6 days

Baby Holmes made his or her first video debut today at my anatomy ultrasound.  I am 18 weeks and 6 days today and baby is moving sooooo much in the last week.  I feel movement every day now.

My ultrasound went really well.  I had the same male tech who has been so kind to me in my previous problem pregnancies and he just always puts me at ease and seems so genuine.  Everything looked great with baby except for 2 things which they will monitor again by ultrasound in 10 weeks (early October). 

First, the baby's kidneys were just slightly enlarged...the right more so than the left.  Because of all the genetic testing we have had done which came back normal/negative, this is very unconcerning to the MFM doctor.  He thinks it will resolve on it's own....could be the baby needs to pee, could be that there is a blockage....we just have to wait and see in 10 weeks.  They were not worried about this, and we are not worried either.

Second, my placenta was very near/covering the top of my cervix.  Upon first noticing this, I was having Braxton Hicks contractions, so the tech suspected it was the contraction pushing my placenta over my cervix.  At the end of the ultrasound, he looked again and I was still contracting and still the placenta was over the opening of my cervix.  So they couldn't tell if this is truly a placenta previa condition or if it's just the contractions pushing on my placenta.  They will look at this again in 10 weeks and get a better idea.  In the meantime, if I should have any bleeding that kind of rules out "contractions causing the problem", and I would wind up with a C-section as baby can't come out the cervix if my placenta is in the way.  So we wait and is in God's hands and I can't worry about it. 

The tech definitely could tell if Baby Holmes is a girl or boy.  He even said, "if you google this kidney condition, just know that it can happen in boys and girls"....which I thought was funny he mentioned this because that was my first idea...I could get a hint at what I am more likely to have if it occurs more commonly in one than the other. ;) 

I really marveled today at the technology we have....I mean my parents and certainly my grandparents never got to see images like we see today of their unborn babies.  It's just amazing.  And to know things in advance.....the good and the be able to prepare our minds and hearts.  We just have to try to find the good in all we can and give thanks.

I came home with a whole disk of videos of this little baby.  In fact, I was surprised when he handed me a disk and not a printed picture!  Ahhh.....times are a-changing...or maybe I'm just getting old ;)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

For a friend...

For a friend who recently lost her unborn baby boy....please pray for healing for her.  Our family has been praying for this family as their unborn baby was diagnosed with a fatal condition and it just hit so close to home; this mother has been in my thoughts and prayers day in and day out. 

I recalled all the emotions from Mary Grace's diagnosis....waiting and hoping and wrestling with God, begging, struggling....the emotions were exhausting and just so heavy.  It is so heavy for a mother's heart to bear....but it is such a grace that women can turn to the mother of Jesus as an example when our hearts feel like they can bear no more sorrow, grief or anguish over our children.

Mary, Mother of Jesus, please pray for this sweet mother who has lost her baby.  Wrap her in your mantle and hold her close.  Ask Jesus to show her His merciful hand in all of this.

Jesus, please hold this family close to your Sacred Heart and give them your consoling peace and love.

We ask all this in Your Merciful Name, Jesus...Amen.

Isaiah 43:2  “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Thursday, June 25, 2015

What's new?

Well I finally announced this on Facebook so it is time to let the blogging world know too!

Saturday was my birthday! 

My present was to get my hair done...yes, I know most people get their hair done just to get it done, but I just cannot stand the cost to get it done right, so to make myself feel better, this year, it was my birthday present.  A cut and highlights.

I posted the following on Facebook:

"New hair, new BABY on the way....35 is going to be a great year! Thanks for all the birthday wishes!"

So now that all of you know, I can fill you in on the rest of my health history over the past few months!
I finally gave in and took the (out-of-pocket) adrenal function saliva test, which tests your cortisol levels at different times throughout a 24 hour period and gives you an idea of your adrenal gland function.   And I was shocked when the results came back as "highest level of adrenal fatigue"!!  I mean, I was tired and hadn't felt great and along with my high blood pressure at every doctor's visit but normal blood pressure at home, I was starting to wonder if I was falling apart.  So when my doctor suggested Adren-ALL, I quickly agreed and started taking this OTC supplement and it was working great!  I was starting to have energy like I had not had in....well, as long as I could remember.  I also changed my diet, because the adrenal glands are all about managing stress and apparently mine were overloaded, so anything I could think of to lower stress (yes, even all those pesky carbs that are difficult to digest are stressful on your adrenals!), I did.  And like I said, I was feeling so good....and then I got pregnant and my doc said, "No more Adren-ALL." 
All I can say is that I cannot wait until I can get back on those supplements.  I am tired.  And it's now the I-slept-all-night-but-still-feel-unrested-the-next-morning type of tired. 
This baby is due in December!  The 22nd/23rd (depending on which of my doctors you ask).  And so far, Praise God, things are looking very good!  I will be 15 weeks on Tuesday and I have had 3 ultrasounds so far.  Baby in the right place, check.  Baby has a heartbeat, check.  Placenta looks good, check.  Baby was scanned and I had a blood test to check for chromosomal disorders and everything came back looking great.  I was so relieved. 
The doctor who did my last scan was the same one who dealt with my partial molar pregnancy last year....that baby, as did Mary Grace, had triploidy, and the doctor mentioned again that he had never had a patient (or had heard of his colleagues having a patient) who had 2 triploidy pregnancies.  I go back in July to the maternal fetal medicine people to have my big anatomy scan, and like with Caroline, we are not finding out the gender.  I just pray that everything continues to go well.....all I can do is take it day by day...and sometimes moment by moment.  The anxiety sometimes comes out of nowhere and I constantly think of purchasing a fetal heart Doppler to calm my nerves.  But ultimately, whatever happens, God is in control and His big picture is something that I do not yet get to see. 
In the meantime, we pray, hope and enjoy watching my belly start to grow!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The CD and the Puzzle.

I just have to document these events that took place because it is a reminder that we, our lives, things that happen which we don't understand....all of these are specks...pieces of a magnificent puzzle that the Lord is putting together....fitting together to make a clear picture, but of which we only sometimes get glimpses.  We find two pieces of a thousand piece puzzle that match and we have a momentary rush of excitement and wonder that we were able to put 2 pieces together.

The same is often true of our lives and I had a small glimpse of this last week. 

Rob was out of town Thursday night, the 16th.  I was tired and went to bed with the phone beside me in case he called (sometimes he is out late with clients).  At 10:15pm, the phone rang, but it was one of his co-workers (also a friend and a Godparent to one of our kids)....but my heart began to race as I woke up and tried to comprehend why he would be calling instead of Rob. 

"Hello?"...."Hello!???".....I said....there was no reply.  And then he hung up.

My mind started to panic.

I immediately dialed Rob and to my relief he answered and was okay.

Well, what happened was this:  Rob and his co-workers were in the hotel lobby having a drink and Rob received a phone call from his sister.  His co-worker thought he was talking to me, so he thought it would be funny to interrupt "our" call by calling me....unfortunately, he was wrong about who Rob was speaking with, called me, woke me up and then felt terrible for his mistake.

Because he felt so bad, he made me a cd with 5 songs on it.  My "I'm sorry, Ang" make up for playing a joke at my expense.

I thought that was pretty nice and I didn't have any hard feelings.  He's a jokester anyway.

The next morning, after Mass, we found out Nancy had died.  I took the kids home from Mass and waited for Rob to get home from his travels.  As soon as he got home I was ready to head back to church to a special day of Adoration which had been set up to pray for Nancy and her family.  I was a little annoyed when I got into the car and Rob said, "I've got music already ready for you."  As I drove away I thought, Why would he think I would want him to pick out music for me?  A friend died today and I want to pick my own music.... 

How arrogant of me to have had those thoughts.  

I relented of my mental battle and let the cd play as I drove to the church.

It was the "I'm Sorry, Ang" cd from his co-worker.

And each of those 5 songs touched my heart deeply.  It was just what my soul needed to hear.  I played it there, repeated it, and played it on the drive back home.  These songs, while not necessarily written about death, spoke to me with their lyrics and their melodies and some haunting harmonies. 

We listened to it all this week and on the drive to the funeral yesterday. 

The "I'm Sorry, Ang" cd turned into the "Nancy's Gone" cd for me....those songs will forever remind me of this time in my life.  Of saying goodbye to a friend.

As I started to think about the songs and this cd and how it came to be that after being woken up in the middle of the night as a prank, that I would get this music as an apology, and that unknowing to Rob's coworker that my friend was dying, he would pick these songs that were meant for me to be heard during this time..... it's just like God gave me 4 or 5 pieces of a 10,000 piece puzzle and I was able to make out one small image and see clearly something within all the mess of jumbled, turned over pieces. 

I messaged him to tell him how the cd was meant for me during this time and to explain how his calling me that night set all this into motion...and he replied, "God is so awesome.  This is the third time this week someone has sent me a note like this."

God is fitting the pieces together....everyone's pieces....all of the time.

We can't see the finished puzzle.
There are too many pieces.
We can't match them all. 

We won't see it until we have reached our final home, and the entire puzzle is displayed for us by Our Father.  But sometimes He reveals to us a section.  A few pieces that fit together and we must know that while we are living and "working out the pieces" of our own lives, He already knows how each piece must fit together to it's completion.

Edited to add the songs on my cd:
Waiting on the River to Rise  by Kingsley Flood
Just Visiting   by Wookiefoot
Welcome Home, Son  by Radical Face
Little Hands  by Inland Sky
Morning Light  by Annabelle's Curse

Friday, April 17, 2015

I thought she was making a fairy garden...

Today, our church and our homeschool community lost a beautiful friend to cancer.  Her husband lost his wife.  Her 6 children lost their mother.  And heaven has gained a good and faithful servant.  We are so sad to see you go, Nancy.  If only we could truly fathom the joy of heaven.  Heaven, the land for which we were created.  We are only passing through this life on our journey home.  And you have made it.  Pray for us, Nancy, and for all those who were blessed to call you a friend.

I thought Isabel (just about a week shy of turning 9 years old) was making a fairy garden.

She wasn't.
It was a memorial. 
So she could "have a place to remember Nancy and to pray for the Mack family".
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.