Thursday, December 30, 2010
I upgraded to an 11x14 for only $10.00, but I think it is totally going to be worth it once it arrives.
This is seriously a great deal, so take advantage of it for upcoming birthdays or other occasions!
Of course, I'll post photo's of mine when it arrives in about 10 days!!!
The Honey Crinkle Cookies were a favorite and SUPER easy.
The Applesauce Cookies were good, but turned out a little too "cake-like".
The sugarplum cake is one of my personal favorite! I think this is my 3rd or 4th one for the season... so far!
The Cranberry Pecan Biscotti, well, let's just say, this was my first attempt at this recipe, and it will be my last! It didn't work out so well!
And lastly, the Banana Walnut Bread, I made a TON of this as gifts in cute little two serving size loaf pans. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of the super cute presentation!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Also, I'm trying to use some recipes that don't call for sugar as the sweetener, but rather use honey or almond flour or some other ingredient to add that punch of sweet.
Here's what's in store:
Cranberry Pecan Biscotti
Honey Crinkle Cookies
We'll see if the chocolateless and healthier Christmas baking is a hit! Pictures to come!
Friday, November 5, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
The first two contractions were just before Neal got home from work. I figured these were just normal Braxton-Hicks contractions that I had been having off and on throughout the latter half of my pregnancy. Neal got home from work and I kept having the contractions somewhat regularly, so he broke out the I-phone contraction timing app, and we started to collect the data. I was having contractions every 7-10 minutes and they would last 30-40 seconds each. So, we decided to keep going about our evening. I made dinner, Neal went and rented the “Prince of Persia” and we ate and watched, all while collecting the data with the app. (I really think Neal was more excited about the app at this point than the fact that we could be in labor!) I never thought, Oh I’m in labor; I just put it off as false labor, because everyone has at least one episode of that right?! And plus, I was due on the 24th and this was just too close to the due date to be the real thing because no one actually has their baby on the due date.
The contractions were still about 7-10 minutes apart and were not increasing in intensity. I was able to breathe through each one and then keep going on about my business. We decided to go ahead and make sure the car seat was moved over to the side of the car and that there were towels in the car…just in case. I went ahead and called Talitha, our doula, and let her know what was going on. She told us to stop timing the contractions, because we would more than likely get disheartened as we kept timing them for hours without much change. Neal wasn’t too happy I told him he shouldn’t play with the timing anymore, but he put it away and we went and got ready for bed.
Neal went ahead and went to sleep, but I was just unable to lie down. Each time I had a contraction, laying down was the most painful position to be in. When you are lying on your back and your uterus is trying to go stretch out and down, it is working against gravity and is exponentially more painful. So, I kneeled on the floor in front of the sofa in our room, and rested by head on the couch. I stayed like this working through contraction after contraction. They were getting closer and closer together. Each contraction I kept reminding myself to breath, relax and say “blue”. Saying “blue” actually helped me relax and not tense up, which made the contractions less painful and easier to get through. The words of Laura, our childbirth educator, kept going through my head: “Just focus on this one contraction happening right now. Don’t think about the next one”. Still, at this point, I never thought Oh, I’m in labor.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I woke Neal up and asked him to start timing 4 contractions. I just had to know if they were any closer together, because to me, they felt like they were becoming constant. Data showed, contractions were about 5 minutes apart and 45-90 seconds long. We were progressing. I told him I wanted to get in the bathtub and see if that would help me relax enough so that the contractions would just go away! He drew a semi-warm bath and I got in. Two contractions in I was in pure misery. It was not soothing at all for me, in fact, it made the contractions worse. I stayed in for one more, a total of three contractions, then I just had to get out. As soon as I stepped out of the bathtub, I had a bloody show. There were about 7 drops of blood on the white rug. I was leaning on Neal, and I looked down and said “do you see that”. He said he was blind because he didn’t have on his glasses or his contacts. I told him,” oh, well, there’s blood” as calmly as if it was an everyday occurrence! I went in to the toilet and cleaned up and got out one of the Niagara Falls maxi-pads that I had bought for after the baby was born. While on the toilet I had two contractions, and it was at this point that I told Neal, “I really don’t think I am going to be able to do this without pain medicine. It’s really starting to hurt TOO bad and I don’t know how much longer I have to go.” Again, Laura, our childbirth educator popped back into my head saying “as soon as you think you can’t do it anymore, you’re almost done”. So, Neal, knowing what stat I was in, called Talitha, our doula, and told her what all was happening. As soon as he started talking to her, I began the contractions that I just couldn’t breathe through anymore. The only thing I could do was say “ouch ouch ouch” really loud! Neal called the midwife, and the OB was on call that night. I had never even met him, but I was sure he would let Diane, the midwife know that we were in labor, and she would be there when we got to the hospital.
I was able to make it back into our room and kneeled on the floor once again, this time at the foot of the bed. I rested my head on the bed and just started rocking on my knees through contractions. I got my composure back and wasn’t shouting anymore. The intense pressure was almost more than I could take. I had already felt like I had to pee after every contraction for the past 8 hours, so I knew there wasn’t anything left in my bladder and this had to be the baby moving down! Neal was running around putting the birth ball, our bag, the computer, the camera, and all that stuff in the car, while I kept kneeling and rocking and breathing saying “blue” throughout each contraction. I think at this point contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting about a minute and a half. I started pushing three contractions before we left. I was thinking “we are never going to make it to the hospital, because I’m already pushing. I am so not having this baby in the car. We’ll just stay home and I’ll get in the bathroom, so not to ruin the carpet, and we’ll call 911, but I am NOT having this baby in the car!” Of course, I didn’t tell Neal I was pushing, because I thought that would have freaked him out even more.
We got in the car and I remember Neal backing out of the driveway saying “ok, it’s 3:02”. I kneeled in the backseat facing the back of the car and just hugged the headrest. Each contraction I was seriously pushing…and screaming. I just couldn’t breathe through the contractions anymore. The only thing I could do was scream. After each contraction I would try to relax as much as possible and prepare for the next contraction. The breaks in between contractions I felt completely fine and was in no pain at all, but when the contraction hit, I thought I might have to compromise and get drugs when I got to the hospital. I didn’t know how long I could go on like that, and I thought it was going to be a long time, because every first labor lasts for like 2 days right?! The hospital is about an hour from our house, and Neal made it in 46 minutes. He only ran 2 red lights, which is a miracle considering we went all the way down Highway 92, the road with a zillion red lights. I believe I only told him twice to just run the light, when I could tell he was slowing down! Remember, we were NOT having this baby in the car. In front of the Trader Joes on Highway 92 in Roswell, my water broke. I only know where we were because that was the only time I opened my eyes to make sure we were close to the hospital. Nope, we were only just half-way. I told Neal as calmly as I could that my water broke and the baby was coming. I think he sped up just a bit at this point! I went back to my readings and remembered learning about the most effective pushing positions. Well, I was in the most effective position, kneeling. So, I sat/layed on my side and crossed my legs thinking that would be less effective when I was pushing, and since I was pushing every single contraction still, I knew I had to do something.
We arrive at the hospital, and Neal said he was going to drop me off at the ER door. I told him, no I’m walking into the hospital and you aren’t leaving me! So, he parked and we walked in, well after we paused for a contraction in the parking lot. When we got to the ER doors I had accomplished walking in to the hospital, and sat in the first wheelchair I could find! Since we had pre-registered they took me up right away. They kept Neal for some paperwork or something and he assured me he would be right up. Thankfully, it only took 1 minute for him and he met me before we even got on the elevator to go to labor and deliver. The gentleman that was wheeling me to labor and delivery I apologized to in advance saying I was probably going to yell in just a minute! He said that was fine and that he needed to wake up anyways! Somehow, I was able to not yell during the two contractions it took to get from the ER to labor and delivery. I just whimpered through each one!
We were put in the first labor and delivery room and they told me to take off my shorts because I couldn’t have a baby with them on. Genius! So, I took them off, and saw it. “The poop”. I was terrified in the early pregnancy of “the poop”. I by no means wanted to poop in front of all those people. How embarrassing would that have been?! Well, then I learned what it meant when “the poop” showed up. Everyone does it when they are pushing effectively. It is the baby’s head pushing on the intestines and the bowel as it moves further down into the birth canal. It has to get everything out of the way! So, when I learned about this, I realized that “the poop” was a good sign and that labor was almost over when it showed up! So, for me, “the poop” happened sometime in the car, so I didn’t have to do that in front of anyone! I was actually kind of excited when I saw it!
So, I climbed up on the bed, and got on my back, because they wanted to check how far I was. I told her “you can check me in a minute, right now, I have to push”. And I did. After that push, she checked and said “yep, baby is right there!”. Another contraction, another push. They were putting the fetal monitor on me at this point, and I told the nurse, you aren’t going to be able to get any data because there isn’t time. She said I had to have it anyways. I thought I started to have another contraction, and told the doctor and the nurses, here comes one, but then it died off and I told them it was just a fake out. Thankfully at this point, I wasn’t screaming through the contractions anymore. I was pushing so hard that I wasn’t even breathing. Another contraction, another push. They had me on my back and were pulling my legs back, and the doctor was “stretching” the perineum. Ouch. The whole time I was thinking, “this is the most inefficient position to do this”. So I asked if I could change positions. By the time they told me I could move, another contraction, another push on my back. They were so close together at this point I just couldn’t move. At this point, I told the doctor, because our midwife was not there, that we didn’t know what the baby’s sex was and that I wanted Neal to tell me. She said of course and that it would be any second now. Another contraction, another push and a sharp cut. The doctor had done a slight episiotomy. As soon as I felt it, I almost wanted to cry and said “oh no, I don’t want to be cut”. She assured me I was going to tear and that it was a tiny cut. Neal assured me it was tiny and that the baby’s head was right there and he could see it! The nurse asked if I wanted a mirror, and I just said “no, just get it out!” She told me she could go get the vacuum if I wanted, and I strongly, but politely told her that wouldn’t be necessary. Later, I asked the nurse if the doctor was serious about the vacuum. She told me the doctor just wanted me to push really hard the next contraction! Another contraction, another push and saying “get it out, get it out”! One more contraction, one more push, and the baby was here! It was 4:06am, 18 minutes after we walked into the hospital. Neal told me “it’s a girl” and they put her on my chest. She wasn’t crying, just wiggling. She was my baby and she was finally here! The doctor asked Neal if he wanted to cut the cord, and we told her we wanted to wait until it stopped pulsating before we cut it. So, a few minutes later, Neal cut the cord and they took her over to be bathed. The doctor told me the placenta was next. I asked her if I had to push and she said no, just relax. I was prepared for utter grossness at this point, but it was the easiest part of the whole labor. I did nothing and it didn’t hurt!
After they cleaned her up, weighed her and wrapped her in warm blankets, they gave her back to me and we started nursing immediately. She had no latching problems and was already a champ at breastfeeding! Neal was standing right there beside us and we both could not stop looking at her. I couldn’t stop shaking from the rush of hormones, but that ended after about 20 minutes. An hour after the birth I was up and walking around. I even walked from labor and delivery to our mother/baby room. I know that I felt so alert and strong after labor because I had done it without any medication! My goals were to have an un-medicated birth and not to swear or hit Neal. All goals were accomplished! Later in the day, the nurse asked me if I wanted a Motrin for the after-birth cramps. I politely declined thinking, “this nurse is crazy to think I would want drugs if I just pushed that baby out without medication, I think I can handle some cramping”!
At some point before we left labor and delivery, one of us said, “we have to name her”. We looked at her and just knew she was Amelia Jane! She was finally here!
Even though the midwife nor the doula made it for the actual birth, I am very satisfied with our birth experience. I felt empowered with knowledge throughout the entire labor, and let my body do what it knew to do. I think that even though it may seem rushed getting to the hospital with 18 minutes to spare, it was perfect for us. I think if I would have had to had labored in the hospital, that my labor would have slowed down and taken longer because I wouldn't have been as comfortable in my surroundings as I was at home. It worked out just perfectly for us.
Seconds after being born
All cleaned up
She's our baby girl!
Amelia Jane Parker
October 23, 2010
6 pounds 8 ounces
Monday, October 4, 2010
Here’s a post I’ve been pondering on for a while now. No really, a long while; about 8 months to be exact! A little disclaimer up front though...it's LONG!
Throughout this pregnancy, Neal and I have done things a little “out of the ordinary” for mainstream health and infant care these days. Here’s just a little explanation as to why this works for us. I’m not saying it is for everyone nor that we have it all figured out, it just works for us at this point in time!
Midwife vs. OB-GYN
I was shocked to find out that not many people realize the difference between a midwife and an OB-GYN. The Dr. (ob-gyn) is a medical school SURGICAL specialty. They like to cut! It’s no wonder that the C-section rate in the US is one of the highest in the entire developed world. Nearly 33% of women who have babies in the US are getting C-sections, and most of those are not medically necessary. Even the World Health Organization says that the shift towards modernization (C-sections) isn’t necessarily a good thing, and that the C-section rate has hit “epidemic proportions”. To go even a step further, the WHO found that many, not all, but many hospitals were financially motivated to encourage patients to undergo C-sections as opposed to vaginal deliveries. The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology conducted a 6 year study in which they reviewed 228,668 births and concluded that 33% of them were done by C-section. Although they couldn’t put a definitely number on how many were unnecessary, they did conclude that more could have been done to avoid a first time mom having a C-section and more could be done to avoid a C-section an another go-around.
There is definitely a time and a place for C-sections though. Don’t get me wrong! When one is necessary for the safety and well-being of both mom and baby, then by all means, it must be done! After all, the goal of labor and delivery is a healthy baby and a healthy mom. My argument is with unnecessary C-sections due to convenience, “lack of progress”, or any other non-medically founded reasoning.
That brings me to the midwives. Midwives overall should have a different philosophy than a Dr. as they practice their medical vocation. The term itself means “with a woman” and that is their main role…to support labor and delivery, educate women about the pregnancy and labor process, as well as supervise the general care of the mother and children directly after birth. Because their focus should be on reducing the risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery, communication with a midwife is critical. Midwives typically have a stronger commitment to nonintervention and encourage the mom to actively participate in the processes of bringing their child into the world. It has been shown that the birth attended by a midwife as opposed to a Dr. can reduce the length of labor, reduce the need for medication, reduce the likelihood of a forceps or vacuum delivery, and reduce the possibility of a c-section delivery. Midwives do of course work directly with an OB-GYN, so if anything ever should require a higher level of medical intervention, the Dr. is nearby.
At 35 weeks into our pregnancy, we made the decision to switch medical practices. The practice we were with was a large group of about 5 OB-GYN’s and 8 midwives. During the first 35 weeks of the pregnancy, all I saw were the midwives; a different one each appointment. I don’t believe that the midwives at that practice had the philosophy of educating expectant parents, giving personalized attention and care, nor had a great commitment to nonintervention and natural birth. The lack of support that we received when a natural birth was brought up in our 3 minute interactions was astonishing. All they wanted to do was educate us on the different pain medications that were available, and would not mention any alternatives. Also, they were constantly pushing for unnecessary ultrasounds and blood tests and tests done on the baby and amniotic fluid and so on and so on and so on. We always told them we needed to go home and think about each test before we would schedule it. This really was just to buy us time to do our own research! Come to find out, everything they wanted to do was for high-risk patients and was optional even then! Seemed like someone wanted to just bill insurance! Unfortunately, throughout our researching of these optional tests, that was one point that kept coming back up…monetary incentives. Sorry, but I want my primary caregiver to be more interested in giving me care than in the monetary benefits of a test that they didn’t really discern I needed, but just wanted to order it for liability reasons.
So, those are the main reasons we decided to explore our options! Once I got over the hurdle of “I’m committed to this doctor for life and can’t ever switch” fear, the research for a more suitable midwife began. I was recommended to a lady out of North Fulton hospital by both my midwife and doula. Unfortunately, she wasn’t going to be able to see me until the 3rd week in October. Well, that’s just really not going to work for me, so I was back to square one, and panicking! I was about a month and a half from having a baby, didn’t have a birth attendant, my before-baby-to-do-list was just as long as it had ever been, the crib wasn’t finished, I didn’t have a take-home outfit, nor did I even know what hospital I was going to deliver at! Needless to say, it was a stressful few days there! Fortunately though, my plans didn’t work out! The Lord had a plan all along, and I am very grateful He did! I got another recommendation to go and see a midwife who started her own practice called Gifts from Grace. Ok, I like this already! I did some research on her directly and was really impressed by what I was reading. So, I called, and they were able to get me in right away! Neal and I went and met with her last week, week 36 of pregnancy, and we were armed with about 10 questions we needed her to answer…correctly! She came into the room and just sat down and said, “ok, let’s get to know each other”. From there, we just chatted on and on for about half an hour. We only had to ask one of our 10 questions, because she volunteered the answers to the other 9 without us having to pointedly ask! We were sold! My doula told me at the beginning of the switching process that it was better I do this 2 months before the birth and not be looking back 2 months after the birth with regrets on how it went. I am so glad that we switched, as emotionally challenging as it was! Now we have a supportive, nonintervention-minded midwife, and that makes the hour drive completely worth it!
Convenient Hospital vs. Better Hospital
So, why are we giving birth at a hospital that is an hour drive from our house when we will pass 2 on our way there, and there are a handful of others within a closer range? A few simple reasons: first, our new midwife has privileges at the hour-away hospital. Second, the hour-away hospital is only 3 years old, and has state of the art technology, is really clean, has an excellent nursing staff with a 2-1 patient-nurse ratio, and they are very supportive and encourage natural childbirth. The hour-away hospital is a much smaller facility than say the baby-factory also known as Northside. The personalized attention that we will receive from the nursing staff is sure to ensure a birth experience like we expect. Also, the general atmosphere of the hour-away hospital is not one of your typical sterile hospitals. To me, walking into the hospital feels more like a hotel lobby. I mean, they have a concierge and everything! To us, it is worth the drive to have this type of atmosphere to become parents in!
Epidural vs. Nonintervention
I’m sure you can already tell from the previous section, that we are planning as natural of a birth as possible. Again, this decision came after doing some research about what exactly an epidural is, what complications it has to mother and baby, and for what reasons would it be necessary to get one. Well, I’m not going to lie, I really don’t like needles! So, when I started reading about just the mechanics of inserting the epidural, I was quickly grossed out. But, I kept reading. I think what really convinced me that we didn’t want to go the epidural route was something called the “Cycle of Intervention”. Simply meaning, once you start with pain medicine, it can easily and quickly accelerate the need for other forms of intervention. For example, if the mom goes in to be induced with Pitocin, the most common induction drug, that will cause her contracts to be so strong and long that she just literally can’t physically stand it. Because the contracts are so strong, it will also put unnecessary stress on the baby. So, you have to get an epidural to make it through. The epidural comes with risks of a sudden risk in the mother’s blood pressure dropping, which in turn puts the baby into fetal distress. Then, when the baby’s heart rate doesn’t recover, because it has so many drugs in its little system, I mean what do you expect, then doctors start to talk c-section to save the baby. Of course, not all epidurals go this way, but the majority of them do. Also, the epidural will interfere with the naturally occurring hormones during labor. The oxytocin levels, which help to relax the mother, are dramatically changed when there is Pitocin, the synthetic oxytocin in the blood. The beta-endorphins, which are a natural pain relief, are also highly affected when synthetic oxytocin is present.
On top of all this, everything that the mother receives, epidural or narcotic, will pass into the baby’s system, just like everything else you have been taking in during pregnancy. Studies have shown that babies born without any drugs in their system are more alert and begin breastfeeding easier than babies who were born with means of interventions. At this point, so close to labor, I continually remind myself that God designed my body to give birth! I can do this, and by His grace, we will have a healthy baby at the end of the process. We want our child to experience their first moments of life outside the womb without artificial sensory inhibitions!
So you might think this topic is a bit strange, and I would have said the same thing 9 months ago! Every birth I had ever seen, albeit through the media, the mother was laying or reclining on her back with her legs pulled up. You know exactly what I’m talking about! Come to find out, this is the WORST position to give birth in! The ONLY reason women give birth like this, is for the convenience of the doctor. Seriously! The pelvic is at its smallest when the mother is reclining, and then, when her legs are pulled back, it tilts the pelvic upward, so the baby now has to go through a smaller opening, against gravity! What are these doctors thinking!?! The most ideal position to give birth in is squatting. The pelvic is at its widest, and of course, gravity works best like this as well. The risk for tearing is lessened as the perineum is not stretched as tight as it would be in the “traditional” on-your-back position. There are other upright positions that encourage the baby to move downward and are suppose to encourage labor to progress quickly. Walking, standing, sitting, leaning forward, using a birth ball, are all things that the mother can do during the early stages of labor to encourage progress. Once labor progresses, more gravity neutral positions might be more comfortable as they will have less pressure on the cervix. But for the pushing stage, a simple squat has been shown to be the most effective means of birthing. Most hospitals do provide a bar that will go across the hospital bed called a “squat bar” for the mother to hold onto during pushing. Just ask for it!
Breastfeeding vs. Formula
Of course, most people recognize that breast milk is the best thing for not only the baby’s nutrition, but also for the mother as her body returns to a non-pregnancy state. I’m not really going to go much into the reading I’ve done on this one, because it’s pretty self-evident! As with everything else though, formula has a time and a place, if deemed necessary.
Cloth Diapering vs. Disposable Diapering
So, we’ve done our research on this one too, and although we haven’t had to put it into practice yet, we believe that cloth diapering is going to suit or family and our families needs precisely. Long gone are the days of rectangular cloths with safety pins that hopefully you don’t pierce the baby with! Cloth diapers are designed with convenience in mind nowadays. Our plan is to use, if necessary, a mixture of both. For example, if we are going to be out and about all day, maybe we’ll throw on a disposable diaper so we don’t have to keep up with dirty cloth diapers all day. We’ll see what works for us though! There are definitely many options for cloth diapers, so if you are thinking of exploring this cost-saving option, although the initial investment can be quite steep, I’ve got a whole other blog post I could write on the details of cloth diaper options!
Co-Sleeping vs. Bed-sharing v. Independent Sleeping
First off, simple definitions:
Co-sleeping- mom, dad and baby sleep in the same room
Bed-sharing- mom, dad and baby sleep in the same bed
Independent sleeping- mom and dad sleep in one room, baby sleeps in another
The American Academy of Pediatric Research suggests co-sleeping is the best option for babies and parents. It helps to regulate the babies breathing and reduces the risk of SIDS. It also aids the nursing mothers in getting better rest as they do not have to go all the way to another room to feed or tend to the baby.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Academy of Pediatric Research both state that parents should not share a bed with their baby because of the risks of suffocation and strangulation. Also, bed-sharing can lead to babies that associate sleep with being close to the parents and that can make naptimes or moving to their own bed traumatic experiences.
Ok, ok enough! Even though there are many more topics to consider, these are just the few that we have been asked about by various people. I like it when people ask “So what are you doing about…”. It gives me the opportunity to talk about what I’ve read, and to hopefully give people an understanding that there are options out there. That sometimes you need to questions your doctors, and that what works for one person isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all. I want people to be motivated to educate themselves on what is happening in their lives and to their spouses instead of blindly following the cultural “norms”. I want people to trust that God designed their bodies for this process and that intervention isn’t always necessary!
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Here are the next 2 projects:
1. Master Bedroom
We've never really decorated our master before, and I think it is about time! The furniture we already have, but the lamps and curtains and artwork is going to be added. I think Neal (and the neighbors) will be quite pleased once we finally put up curtains! 5 months is long enough!
2. Guest Room. We already have the black daybed and the bedding. So, with a quick coat of new gray paint, and some curtains and accessories, this should be a relaxing place for our guests!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Remove the glass from the frame. Cut the cork board so that it is the same size as the glass, and attach it to the backer-board.
Lay the fabric upside down and place the back of the frame cork side down on top of it.
Wrap the fabric around the board pulling it taunt and securing it as you go. I wanted the flexibility to be able to change out the fabric in the future, so I just used some heavy duty packing tape to secure the fabric instead of glue.
REMEMBER: Fold the corners neatly!!
Decide on a pattern for your ribbon, then simply pull tight then tape or glue them into place on the back.
Place the now covered board into the frame and secure. Hang it on the wall, and enjoy your beautiful reminder board that holds all of your to-do lists!
Friday, January 15, 2010
That was followed by the Korean Consulate Christmas party at a Korean BBQ restaurant in Duluth. Unfortunately spouses were not included in this one, so it was just me and my 14 Korean co-workers enjoying some very tasty BBQ! At any group function that we have, we go around the table and each person is suppose to give a speech about whatever the occasion may be. For Christmas we each say what we are happy with in the office and what we think we could improve upon for the next year. So, I sat through 14 Korean speeches with absolutely no idea what they were saying. Sometimes I like to make up what they are saying in my head. (it can be quite comical!) I have to fill the time somehow, right?!
So Christmas day finally came and we celebrated with the Kemp family. We love spending time over there just hanging out with the family!
That brings us to the 26th of December. After a late night staying up and talking with David & Caroline, we awoke at 5:30am to start the journey to the airport. I awoke with a 102 degree fever, but somehow managed to get myself together enough to convince myself it would be alright to go sit on a plane for two hours. We made it in plenty of time, thanks to Dmitri and his stroller line!
Our time in Virginia and DC was filled with many pleasant and fond memories mixed with trials and tribulations! With that many people and personalities, disagreements and differences of opinions are sure to arise. Here's the little tid-bit that I learned through my observations of the trip: Each person is responsible for their own actions, words and emotions. We all need to discern how to properly control ourselves and our actions as well as our own emotions so as not to create strife between each other! As my mom continues to 'lecture' me on (it's ok mom, love you for it!) love is an ACTION! We are commanded to love one another, whether we feel like it or not. Love is not just in our emotions, but evidently shown through our actions and our words.
All in all, it was a great time to visit with our gracious hosts: Grammee, Donny, Cissy, Andy, Alex and the rest of the VA Parker clan! We had a wonderful time meeting new family members and catching up with those that we had not seen in a while. Here are a few highlights from the trip:
Sharon, Caroline, Dmitri, Deb, Neal, Brian on the Capital Building Tour
Neal & Andy
Donny & Cissy
Grammee, Deb, Neal, Meghan
After we returned, I was starting to recover from that nasty cold that I just couldn't shake the entire trip. Unfortunately, Neal was starting to get the cold! So, we just stayed at home on New Years for a quite and restful start to 2010!
We pray that we each strive to continue following the Lord's will for our lives both individually and together this coming year and for the years to come!
Neal & Deborah
~"Many plans are in a man's heart, but the counsel of the Lord will stand." ~ Prov. 19:21