Do me a favor...

In the past two weeks, the following things have happened to friends of mine:

One couple had to be induced two months early and their baby girl was born weighing only 3.5 lbs. She is doing alright, but will be in the hospital at least through the end of the year.

Another found out that they are likely going to lose the child that they are currently expecting. They already had heart surgery done on the baby in utero and it was not successful.

And then there is the tragedy that I mentioned a couple of days ago with the friends who lost their oldest son in a car accident. We are going to the funeral tomorrow.

So do me a favor. If you have a child in the house, get up now and go hug them... :)


If any of you are interested in keeping up with Mason Hagen's recovery so that you can pray for him more specifically, you can get information here: http://hagenupdates.blogspot.com/

It is updated at least once daily.


A Hug from God

Think of your four favorite hugs. Are they from a grandparent? A parent? Your spouse? Your child? Now think about what it is that you love about these hugs. When you are in their arms, do you feel accepted? Loved? Beautiful? Complete?

In any relationship, there is a touch of bittersweetness because none of us are perfect. During one of those wonderful hugs, there are always voices whispering in your head. "I should call her more often." "I wish he would call ME sometimes." "If only I could take back that hurtful thing I said." "Why does she have to grow up?" Even if we aren't consiously aware of the voices, they are there.

Now take those four favorite hugs that I asked you to think of before and I want you to imagine straining out all of the bittersweet parts. Strain each one until what is left is beautiful and flawless. Now take those four purified hugs and add them together into one pure hug that encompasses all of your favorite things. Take that one pure hug, multiply it by 1000 and add the power of the universe to it.

This is what I imagine a hug from my Lord to be like. I think it will feel sweet, safe, passionate, and singularly our own. It will be beyond description and once we find ourselves in his arms, we will never leave them. Praise God!

On Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006, Marshall Arnold Hagen died in a car accident at the age of 20. Right now, Marshall is in the arms of our Father, experiencing this boundless love. I can be certain of this because his hope, like mine, is in Christ. And that is a hope that does not disappoint.

Marshall's brother, Mason Hagen, was also in the accident and is currently in the hospital with severe burns. Please pray for his quick healing and that skin grafts will not be necessary. Please pray that he would be able to leave the hospital, at least temporarily, to attend his brother's funeral. Please pray that Mason would heal emotionally as well and would find freedom from the guilt he feels. And please pray for the entire Hagen family -- Mark, Kristen, Hannah, Heidi, and Madison -- to be filled with God's love and comfort as they grieve the loss of Marshall and pray for the healing of Mason.

I didn't know Marshall as well as I do some other members of his family, but his death makes me angry. It is unfair and just doesn't make sense. I hope that you feel the same way because I think that is the response that God wants from us. We were not created to live in this world full of pain and it should not be okay with us when something like this happens.

I'm not saying we should let this anger stand between us and God. That is certainly not what He wants. This anger should propel us toward God. Go to Him and tell Him how you feel. Rant and cry and shout if you need to. God wants every part of your heart! If you will come to him with your pain, He will use you to help this world.

God speaks differently to every person and the things he says will be different for every person. But his purpose for us all is the same. He wants us to come to Him, broken and powerless, and let his love and power fill us until it overflows into the lives of those around us. That is the only way we can really make a difference and it is a privilege that I hope I never forget the honor of!


This photo cracks me up. "Well Ma'am, I took a look at your engine. I can fix the problem, but it's gonna cost ya'..." The picture was taken in our garage yesterday, while Lila was busily following her Daddy around, investigating things, and getting her pretty white dress as dirty as she possibly could.

Things are super busy around here and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I usually look forward to Thanksgiving - there have even been years when I looked forward to it even more than Christmas. This year is different for some reason. I don't feel like going to Dallas and doing the normal Thanksgiving thing. Maybe it's a desire for us to start our own family traditions...?

In keeping with the spirit of the first Thanksgiving, I'd like to prepare a meal and then share it with another family who can't afford their own. Those who have plenty, sharing with those who have not. Anyway, we are going to Dallas and I'm sure it will be fun. We will get our Famiy Fix, and, more importantly, my family will get their Lila Fix. I am SO looking forward to the stuffing... :)


I really don't have much to talk about today. I had an allergy test done this morning and I ended up being there for four hours! I will talk about it tomorrow maybe - I just don't feel like typing it out right now. I will, however, give you a list of the top 7 things in the environment that I'm allergic to, in order of severity.

1. Rye Grass
2. Timothy Grass
3. Johnson Grass
4. Bahia Grass
5. Bermuda Grass
6. Ragweed
7. Marsh Elder


Chipmunks in my Head

Have you ever listened to an entire album of Chipmunk music? No? Have you ever stood next to power tools (with no earplugs) for an hour? Okay, well that's close. Lila and I go to the library every Monday and we check out a couple of books and a new children's music CD every week. This week it's "The Best of the Chipmunks - 35 Years". Basically, it's the Chipmunks (and their girlfriends) singing popular songs.

The first song or two was entertaining. And then it started to wiggle inside my head like some kind of burrowing worm. By the end of the CD, I felt like I was going to burst into either maniacal laughter or uncontrollable weeping. If you'd like a small taste of insanity, just listen to the Chipmunks' recording of 'Achy Breaky Heart'. Seriously.

Now for some exciting news - LILA HAS TAKEN HER FIRST STEPS!!! For a week or two now, she's been able to stand up on her own, but she won't do it for more than a few seconds. Yesterday, I decided to actively try to get her to take a few steps. I stood her up against the wall, scooted back a bit, and then started calling her toward me. She's been doing a great job! She can consistently take one or two steps and two different times she managed to take about five steps! Hooray for the Bean!


Random Stuff

I'm trying to get Lila to go down for a nap right now, but she's not having it. I guess there's been too much excitement this morning. From the sounds of things, she's currently trying to bend the bars apart on her crib so that she can get out! I'm hearing lots of grunting and monkey noises.

The photo that I've posted here is a few weeks old, but I think it's cute. This is Lila and Cousin Olivia sharing a bath. [Photo removed to keep it out of the hands of perverts.] That was the first time that Lila had anyone other than Mommy or Daddy in the bath with her and she really wasn't sure what to think. Especially when Olivia started playing with Lila's bath toys. It never got violent, but they did keep snatching this cup away from each other. Add to that the three or four people in the room with cameras and the fact that Lila was up past her bedtime -- she just didn't know what to think about the whole experience.

I had an eye exam yesterday and found out that my vision has corrected itself over the past couple of years! It is probably a combination of not straining my eyes with proofing work anymore and the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. Either way, I ordered glasses that I'll only need to use for seeing details at a distance (e.g., when driving at night or watching a movie). The doctor said that the vision in each eye individually is 20/25 now and it's 20/20 when using both eyes. I just need correction for a slight astigmatism (sp?)! Woohoo! So maybe Lila is not the only good thing that came out of being pregnant...


Party Weekend

This is the second week in a row that I've gone through most of Monday thinking that it was actually Tuesday. Most people are acutely aware of Mondays, as they are immediately following the weekend and are generally not looked forward to. I, apparently, have no concept of time. I mean, if I stop to think about it, I KNOW that it's Monday. But, at the same time, I keep thinking that Monday was yesterday.

Well, despite my obvious mental issues, we had a wonderful weekend. I already filled you in on my Friday night adventures and I'm still riding high off the fun I had. We had a nice Saturday as well. There was normal activity in the morning - lawn mowing, hair dying, napping, etc. After lunch we went out and did all of Lila's Christmas shopping together. Since she is so young, we took her with us to test her interests.

On Saturday evening, we got to go to a Fantastic Fiesta! Our neighbor, Ophelia, has a gorgeous house. It's a beautiful Mexican hacienda, plopped into the middle of our neighborhood. She has parties there periodically that always sound fun. This weekend, our prayers (for the opportunity to shamelessly drool over her house) were answered when she threw herself a big birthday party and invited us!

There was a Mariachi band, lots of delicious food, lots of alcohol, and lots of fun. The party started at 4 p.m. and we had to leave at 7:30 to get Lila to bed. At 10:45, we could still hear the music playing! The inside of Ophelia's house, as well as her backyard, were even more amazing than the outside! She has an outdoor kitchen in the backyard where she cooked her delicious food... oh, I can't even describe how awesome this house is! I wish I could have taken pictures without being completely tasteless! :o)~



Last night, I had a lovely night out that has me walking around this morning with a serene smile on my face. It started out as a normal Friday evening, with Doug, Lila and I having dinner at Chuy's. (oh chuy's! how i love you!) We ate, we came home, and we started Lila's bedtime routine. After my part was done -- that would be the nursing -- I left!

I met my wonderful friend Ellen for a little dessert and coffee at La Madeleine. She has a baby boy who is three-and-a-half weeks old, so he had to come with her. But she left her daughter at home with Daddy as well, and we had a blissfully interruption- and drama-free evening. We drank coffee, ate soup and muffins, and talked talked talked. We reveled in not having to worry about naptimes or mealtimes or temper tantrums. Ahh...

When Ellen finally needed to take the baby home at around 10:15, I didn't feel like going home myself. I was having fun and wasn't feeling tired, but I knew that I would end up just going to bed if I went home. So, I called home to get the okay to stay out a bit longer. Doug said that was fine with him, but he'd probably be asleep when I got home. OK! He also advised me to stay away from "loose men". I told him I'd try.

I knew the bookstores would still be open, but didn't really feel like doing that since I'd already had some coffee and wasn't in the mood for reading. So I drove to the movie theater that is just behind La Mad. Unfortunately, I was about 10 minutes to late for the latest shows. Not intending to give up so easily, I drove to another theater nearby. They still had shows available!

There was one movie left that didn't start for ten minutes (a 10:40 show), so I bought a ticket. I had no idea what the movie was, but it was rated PG-13, so I figured it couldn't be too bad. Once I got inside, I called Doug again to let him know what I was doing and to ask him to look the movie up on IMDB (www.imdb.com) to see what it's about.

Turns out it was a movie that I wanted to see anyway, I just didn't recognize the name! It was 'Stranger Than Fiction' and it was great! I won't go into plot because I don't want to give anything away, but I really enjoyed it. It was quite funny, but there was more to it than I expected. I figured I'd get ten minutes into the movie and start dozing off, but I never felt tired! I recommend this one - at least for a rental.

I finally made it home around 1 a.m. and I was starving by this time. So, I ate my leftovers from Chuy's while playing Internet Backgammon. I went to sleep around 1:30 with a smile on my face and it's still there. It's amazing what a night out, free from responsibilities, can do for you! [sigh] Now I must go and smear toxic chemicals on my scalp...


Moving to the Caves

Lila has discovered the joy of exploring caves! The first one she found was the laundry hamper. She's been opening the doors and pulling out the dirty clothes for ages, but she actually climbed into the cabinet for the first time last week. She stayed in there and played very quietly for about 15 minutes. In fact, she was playing so quietly that I went to check on her a couple of times to make sure that nothing was wrong!

This week, it was her cabinet in the kitchen. That is the only one that is not baby-proofed and it's where all of our storage containers stay, plus a small pot, wooden spoon, and a couple of toys. She opens it up and plays with the things inside all the time, but a couple of days ago she pulled EVERYTHING out of it and climbed in. Then she wanted us to shut the doors! So we'd shut them (not all the way) and she'd wait a few seconds and then fling them open with a loud, "Ba!" Way too cute!

Apparently, this is a family trait. As a small child, Doug would play and sleep in his closet (with a piece of bread). Either she got it from him or she's been spending too much time with the cats!


Your daughter's a Limey Food Flinger, Mother! What will the Bridge Club think?

Lila has started to feed herself and it is a fabulously messy affair. She's been able to eat finger foods (bread, little bits of chicken, etc.) for quite a while now. The new skill is using a spoon! We cover as much of her body as possible with a bib -- and after the first time I got a spoonful of food in my lap, I started wearing an apron -- put the food in front of her and let her go to town. She's really surprisingly good at getting the food into her mouth, but about half of it also ends up on her face, chest, the tray/table, the floor, and me.

I sit in front of her with another spoon and help out. I scrape up what's on her chin and chest and put it back into the food container. I also give her bites in between her own bites because sometimes even she gets frustrated with how long it takes her to eat. Don't get me wrong - I don't rush her. And if she decides she doesn't want what I'm offering her, that's fine! I have discovered, however, that when she is distracted by feeding herself, I can slip in bites of food that she doesn't normally want to eat and she hardly notices. That's one point for Mommy!

Now if I could just get past my aversion to getting food on my hands...


Barking Mad

Lila has started barking and it's really very cute! It's the only animal sound she can make so far, but she does it well. If you ask her what sound a dog makes, she will (if she's in the mood) say, "woof woof". Mostly though, she barks at dogs. If we are outside and she hears one barking, then she barks too. It's so funny! Sometimes she does it just for fun. Yesterday, we were getting out of the car and she just said, "Dog. Woof woof."

Now before I make my next statement, I want to give a disclaimer: I recognize that I have been genetically blessed to be able to stay thin with little effort. I am very grateful for that and will not complain. That being said, I am very disturbed because...

My butt moved! I don't know when it happened, but I noticed it this morning. My booty has definitely traveled south. Maybe that's why I've had a much easier time finding pants that fit lately. I certainly don't mind that aspect of things. But I really feel that, if some part of your body is planning to move, it should give some sort of notice!



Whew! I finally got the photos from Halloween uploaded!

First, we have our Little Chicken with her Daddy and her candy bucket, ready to go! Actually, she was annoyed by the costume and totally did not get what we were doing. Thankfully, she quickly caught on to the fun and forgot all about the costume!

We brought along the stroller so that one of us wouldn't have to be carrying her the whole time. As you can see, Lila had other plans. Seems a bit counter-productive, doesn't it?

Lila got LOADS of candy, which Doug and I will be eating the great majority of. Initially, all she knew was that people were giving her shiny, crinkly things that were fun to play with. We'd go to a door, someone would come and hold out a basket of candy, and Lila would reach out (lightning-fast) and snatch a piece of candy!

Once we got home, we decided to give let her have her first ever Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. She didn't quite know what to do with it at first, but she figured it out pretty quickly. The candy is now hidden on top of the refrigerator, so that she will hopefully forget about it!

Very cute story: At one of the houses, the lady who answered gave Lila some candy. We chatted for a minute and then the lady held the basket out for Lila to take another piece. Instead, she put a bag of M&M's she'd gotten at another house into the lady's candy basket. How sweet of her to share... :)



Sorry guys, I've been trying to upload some Halloween photos since last night. The website seems to be having some problems, but I'll keep trying. :)