Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Little Decompression Time

We opted to stay here this weekend to decompress from all our happenings this past week. As much as we enjoy our frequent trips to Dothan, they are somewhat tedious and a little stressful with two young children (and a dog!). It was so nice to wake up in our own beds this morning, eat pancakes and bacon, and take a leisurely trip to the Tallahassee Museum. We talked up the bears and panthers to Morgan last night and she woke up ready to go. We must have heard, "Lets go see those bears!" 30 times this morning before we left.

Due to the "Springtime Tallahassee" parade and festival it took us a little bit longer to get there but once we did we realized what all we have been missing out on these last couple years! They call it a "museum" but I don't think that's really appropriate. It's more like a nature preserve with animals. We saw black bears, panthers, bobcats, owls, bald eagles, deer, turkey, red fox and grey fox and of course an alligator. It was a little overcast and the temperature was perfect. Due to all the goings on downtown there weren't very many people there. It was a very delightful time. They have a very nice playground that we stopped at on our way out. Morgan loved seeing all the animals and talked incessantly to them. We wish we had discovered this hidden treasure prior to our little outing today!

I took Rager back to the pediatrician yesterday. Once she came off the amoxicillin from 2 weeks ago she came down with a nasty cough. It sounded as though she was breathing under water. I waited a few days but then couldn't help but think "maybe she got pneumonia from me". So, we got it checked out. I took both girls with me which I usually prefer not to do but it was a last minute appointment and figured of all places to take both girls, the pediatrician's office would be ok! Morgan was chattering away when the dr came in and continued to talk while Dr. Cross examined Paiger. Morgan kept asking me, "What's that I 'mell?" (Her famous words!) I continued to reply while holding Paiger who was being checked out, "I don't know what you smell Morgan, maybe it's the fruit you just ate." Finally she said, "Nope, I know what I 'mell.... it's my toots. I 'mell my toots!" I thought I'd die. I asked her to say "excuse me" and she did but we all got a chuckle out of her candidness. Thankfully she was the only one who could smell them! The Rager got loaded up with zithromax and albuterol... hoping this will take care of all the nastiness!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Pump Up the Jam and Enchiladas (finally!)

The Rager this morning in her highchair and Morgan opening an Easter package from her Kaye Bird!
It was such a fun treat for her to wake up to! Thanks Kaye Bird!!

Mark Wheeler (my dr at the hospital who used to be in our Bible study) called me yesterday morning to fill me in on the results of the Echo cardiogram they did on Saturday before I left the hospital. I expected to hear from him sooner but figured no news was good news. I contacted my primary care doctor and they advised me to call the ER for the results; that sounded so far from what I thought I should do that I disregarded it. My doctor's office told me they'd have the results by my follow-up appointment on Monday. So, I left well enough alone and figured I'd find out more Monday. When Mark called yesterday he informed me that the results came in on Sunday from the first cardiologist and he wanted to consult with another cardiologist and my primary care dr before contacting me and that is why it took several more days. He said that the "Echo" showed that my heart doesn't "squeeze” or pump very hard. He explained that the average person’s heart will squeeze or pump out 60% of the blood that is in it. So, if a heart holds 100cc of blood it would squeeze out 60cc of the blood with every pump (or beat). Mine showed that it only squeezes out 45% of the blood. He said it's unusual for someone my age to have this. He didn't use any medical terms, probably so I wouldn't look it up on the internet and freak out like I did last night. He said they may see this on someone who has a long history of alcoholism... which he knows I don't have. Anyway, he told me several times not to worry about this (perhaps he knew I would) but told me that they would be referring me to a cardiologist for a consultation to do another Echo in a couple months. He did say that it was an "incidental finding" and that I didn't show any symptoms of someone who has a low ejection fraction (that's the medical term for it that I found online last night). I asked if it was a side effect of the medication I had while in the hospital and he said it wasn't likely. But it could possibly be related to my pregnancy... which was 8+ months ago. He also said it could change. So for now I'm trying not to worry about it and pray that it will change and not effect me in any way. We would very much appreciate prayers for this!

Ok, so now for those tasty "crock pot" enchiladas I made last week. I basically made the recipe up so feel free to change it anyway you want, but this way tasted pretty darn good!

1 package of chicken tenderloins (the precut strips) I don't remember the weight but it was about 8-10 strips
2/3 of a jar of salsa (I used Medium)
1 can of Enchilada sauce (I used the brand that makes the refried beans, it's a red and yellow label and with the beans-- I think it's Old El Paso or something like that)
1 package of soft taco shells
1 package of shredded cheddar
sour cream

Put the chicken tenders, salsa, and about 1/2 cup of water in the crock pot on high for 3.5 to 4 hours. Take the tenders out and shred them with 2 forks. They will be very easy to shred. Add the shredded chicken back to the crock pot and add 1/2 the can of Enchilada sauce. Stir all ingredients and let them simmer for a few minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 and fill each soft taco shell with the chicken and top with cheese. Roll the soft shell up and place the seam side down in a baking dish. Once all your enchiladas are filled and in the dish, top with the rest of the enchilada sauce from the can (or you could also add the sauce from the crock-pot) and smother with the shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for about 20 mins or until all bubbly and hot! Top each enchilada with a dollop of sour cream. We served with chips and salsa. Saffron rice (the yellow rice) would have been good too... we just didn't have any handy!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Providential Trip to Goodwill

This picture doesn't relate in anyway to the blog entry but it does make me laugh. She likes to wrinkle up her nose and make that face and snort out her nose. I could eat her alive when she does it!

With the big move upon us I decided about a week ago to clean out all my closets. I have clothes that I got at the Gap Outlet in Cincinnati when I was in high school... that would be about 10 years ago. Way past time to pass some of them on! Needless to say it was a very good thing and I may have gone a little overboard and probably got rid of somethings that I could have kept but I was a roll! When I came across a nice shirt that I had worn recently but not too recently I was at a standstill as to what to do with it, mainly because it had my name plastered in the collar. The dry cleaners we used in Anniston used to put your name on this huge iron-on tag and put it right above the regular tag. It kinda made me feel a little weird that my name was in the shirt and I attempted to peel it out... no luck. I actually hesitated to even take it with my name in it. I thought it would be bizarre for a stranger to wear my shirt with my name in it. Actually, I also thought what if they track me down to get me or something... I'm not sure if I was smoking crack that day or not. :) That's a pretty irrational thought but I did think it. Anyway, I had this argument with myself for a few minutes as to whether or not to take it to Goodwill. It was as if the Holy Spirit was on one shoulder saying, "Don't be ridiculous, someone could use this shirt, it's really nice, clean, and could be beneficial to someone!" And then my pride and irrationality were on the other shoulder saying, "Someone might look you up in the phone book and get you or something.. every Goodwill shopper will know that this shirt belonged to Darby Stickler, you better just toss it!"

Well... I gave in to the Holy Spirit, died to my selfish ambitions and threw the nice blouse with my name plastered in it in the pile of stuff to take. When I got back from the hospital I had an email waiting for me from my friend LA's aunt. The subject was "Funny Blouse Story". I didn't read it first because I was certain it was a forward about how a rapist will look only for women who wear button down blouses... you know easy access or something! Anyway, once I read through all my emails I went back to it... thinking what could be a "Funny Blouse Story"? The email made me smile and almost cry. Here it is...

Faithe was a page in the House of Representatives last week, and needed a button down blouse to wear under her blue blazer. So we went to Goodwill to find one. We found this really cute one that fit her very well. When we got home I said I have to wash this because it came from Goodwill. But we had tons of things to get done. I happened to look at the label, and there was a dry cleaner's label with your name on it. So I said, we don't have to wash this because it was Darby's. We had a good giggle, and she wore it proudly the next day, and looked great. :)
So thanks for her top!

Among the many things I've been learning one of the greatest is God's sovereignty and providence. There are 150,000 people living in Tallahassee (not including the 100,000 college students) and the chances of someone I know getting that blouse is not very good. Some may say it is "just luck"... I confidently know otherwise! I don't know exactly what He wanted me to learn but I know what I did learn: to swallow my pride and irrationality if anything can benefit someone else just do it. I'm horrible about talking myself out of helping others or sharing Jesus with them and I'm learning to side with the Holy Spirit... and He'll affirm me in my decision! I hope this will encourage someone to put aside any irrational thought and do something that may seem "weird"... I'm confident Christ will affirm your decision.

Anyone else have a similar story... I want to hear

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Two Gardeners & A Tin Can

The Two Apprentice Gardeners
(one looking up to no good and one looking rather innocent!)

We've had a wonderful last couple days and I'm very thankful to be on the receiving end of help from my dear friend Tami! She's a very good example of what it means to be a friend. I hope that I can be the friend she's been to me to her and others. She and Judson drove over from Dothan on Monday morning to help out around here for a couple days while I recovered from the crud. Morgan loved having Judson here and after the first 8 or 12 hours actually started to call him Judson rather than Braxton, which is her only other male friend! The two were so cute together and I can't wait to watch them grow together. Morgan took the role of "mommy" or perhaps "wife" would be a better word. As Justin said, "She's like her Mom, not even giving him a chance to try before she starts telling him how to do it!" I took it with a grain of salt (whatever that means)!

The last couple days consisted of lots of bubbles, tricycles, sidewalk chalk, a walk to the park, a plastic swimming pool, and lots of laughs from the toddlers and grownups! Tami and I only heard the question "why?" about 1,000 times in two days. We need to come up with a clever answer because "why" is one of the hardest questions to answer. "Because I said so" is way too cliche. Judson has an answer of his own if you respond to his question "why?" with "why?", (Tami correct me if I'm wrong) "because all people loves it and that makes sense" is his answer! It's too funny! I need to start responding to Morgan that way... maybe she'd stop asking why.

We just enjoyed a delicious dinner that Alison Byington brought us! And we're headed over to see our recently widowed neighbor "Ms. Roz". Justin and Morgan made her a platform bird feeder for her backyard. She's a birdwatcher and a very nice lady and is deeply grieving the recent loss of her husband. He suffered from pancreatic cancer and it took him very quickly. They don't have any children and she (as anyone would be) is sad and lonely.

I have one more story to share but I think I'll write about it tomorrow and include with it the recipe for those yummy enchiladas!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Halleluiah it's JUST Pneumonia!

I was going to share a delightful recipe for chicken enchiladas with everyone but first I thought I'd enlighten y'all on our weekend!

If you read my blog entry you know that Thursday night was a typical night around the Stickler house. Everyone went to bed happy and healthy (or so we thought!). Around 12:30 am I woke up with intense shoulder pain. I thought maybe I was laying on it funny but realized I was laying on my back so that didn't really explain the shoulder pain. I also had some pretty intense pain in my chest and blamed it on those pesky enchiladas I made for dinner. I woke Justin up around 1 and told him I was in a decent amount of pain and asked him to get me 4 Tums from the kitchen. I've never really suffered from acid reflux but I also had never felt this pain before so I thought (or hoped) it was just heartburn. I realized that I also was having a hard time taking a deep breath. I could take shallow breaths without pain but couldn't get a deep breath. I ate the 4 Tums and propped up in the bed... and waited anxiously for the pain to go away and prayed it was just heartburn. Justin got the laptop and "googled" all my symptoms. It was either acid reflux or a heart problem. If you've read my blog I couldn't help but think about Tiffany and knew that it was possible to have heart problems even at the healthy age of 26.

We waited about 30 mins for those Tums to kick in... unfortunately they never brought any relief and every breath was increasingly painful. The next step was to figure out what to do. I wanted to drive myself to the hospital (I knew I probably shouldn't but threw it out there anyway) Justin was quick to shoot it down. I told him I probably should go. I'm the opposite of a hypochondriac and avoid the doctor and hospital on all counts so I think he knew if I thought I should go I really should go. We called our dear neighbors around 1:30 and didn't get an answer... must have been sleeping! Next we called our dear friends Mitch & Gaye. Mitch answered the phone like he was sitting awake in the bed waiting for us to call. Without any hesitation at all they said they were on their way. And sure enough they were.

The ER was packed out and I was so afraid they were going to make me wait for hours. Thankfully the triage nurse sent me right back after the EKG they did showed my heart was beating 172 times per minute while sitting down. I had a great doctor who was very concerned and paid close attention to me. I had a low grade fever (100.7) and pain in my chest... that was about all I could tell him. They gave me a few doses of Lowpresor (sp?) to slow my heart down and they did a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia and when it came back clear they loaded me up with some iodine to see all my blood vessels really well and did a CT scan. Once the radiologist got the report back to my doctor they realized that after all I did have pneumonia in my left lung. Which explained all the of the intense pain on the left side and the pain my shoulder. However, it didn't exactly explain the racing heart. So he wanted to admit me and keep me a couple days. I don't think he was convinced that pneumonia was the only contributing factor. I've had a little cough for a few weeks but always attributed it to the pollen that is covering the entire city of Tallahassee. I guess that little cough turned into pneumonia.

After 15 long hours in the ER they moved me to the cardiology floor. It was so peaceful up there! I had my own room and the nurses were so nice. They kept me on the heart monitors, IVs and antibiotics and gave me an occasional shot in the abdomen of a blood thinner--- I could have done without those! I had another EKG Saturday morning and they also did an Echocardiogram. My hospital doctor was a guy who was in our Monday night Bible study and it was really nice to have a doctor who I felt like genuinely cared about my health. They released me on Saturday afternoon and I was so glad to go home and get some sleep. I'm still waiting the results of the Echocardiogram but they came to the conclusion that they thought everything was okay with my heart. They attributed the racing heart with the intense pain and anxiety... who wouldn't be anxious if they thought they were having a heart attack!?

My sweet mother-in-law came Friday as soon as she heard the news and was able to relieve Mitch and Gaye and take care of the girls while we were away. I wasn't able to breastfeed for 48 hours due to the iodine they gave me for the CT scan. So, not only was I hooked up to IVs and heart monitors but also to a lovely breast pump. Paiger wasn't too impressed with the formula but finally took some when I got home from the hospital. She's back to her mommy now and happy as can be!

I'm so thankful to be home and back in my own bed. Justin will be traveling later this week so his mom is going to come back. My friend Tami will be coming from Dothan tomorrow to be with me Monday and Tuesday which is great. I thought I'd be okay on my own but I hit a wall today and my body demanded a 3 hour nap... not something that is too easy to do with 2 kids! I know having her here will be a huge blessing!

Thanks to everyone who has prayed and is praying for us! I'm loaded up on antibiotics and some pain pills too and hope to be on the road to recovery! Just so thankful to be home with my family and to JUST have pneumonia!!

Good night!!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bedtime & Chicken Enchiladas

One of my favorite times of day is the time after the girls have a bath before they go to bed. I think I like it so much because they've both been fed (usually), they're both clean and smell so sweet of Johnson & Johnson's baby wash. Paiger is doing so much better about going to bed in her crib, it truly is an answer to prayer. I don't know if she is just turning over a new leaf or if she's just feeling better or a combination of both. We've noticed in the last couple days she's healthier than she's ever been; not sure if it's the amoxocillin or the Prevacid (or more likely the prayer!) but it is such a delight to hear her actually breath through her nose. Her sleeping better could have a lot to do with breathing. It's been hard for her to suck her pacifier due to the congestion in her nose... now she can suck that paci like a champ... no congestion certainly helps!

Anyway, I took these two pictures tonight. I brushed Paiger's hair after her bath. It made me laugh
out loud to see it so neat and not sticking up everywhere. Morgan was helping Daddy play guitar and still is behind me-- well, she's reading her books and Justin's playing her "Froggy Went a Courtin'" on the guitar. Helping daddy with his guitar entails her wearing the guitar strap, as you can see in the picture above!

We had an absolutely delightful day. We had a picnic at the park with our friends for a playgroup. This is something I will dearly miss when we move to Dothan, these moms mean so very much to me and it's just so fun to get the kids together for some playtime while us moms enjoy some adult time! Even though our adult conversations are usually about the kids, it's still so enjoyable. I was glad that LA and Mabry could join us today. Six of us have 2 year olds and a baby born in within 6 weeks of each other of 2007. It's so fun and such a blessing to have moms who know exactly where you are. They can share in the frustrations, difficulties, and excitements of having a 2 year old and a baby at the same time. Staci out numbers us all with 2 year old twins... if I'm ever thinking I'm having a rough "2 year old day" I always think, "Staci has 2 and she has a baby!" and then I feel better! :)

While we were at the park I got to experience for the first time another child being blatantly mean to Morgan. She's so tender that he made her cry on two different occasions. After he screamed in her face and told her he didn't want her on the playground she balled her eyes out and she told me she didn't want to stay at the park anymore. For a while I couldn't figure out where his mother was (perhaps if she was watching him he wouldn't be acting the way he was) then I found her. I didn't hesitate to inform her of her child's behavior. If Morgan had acted the way he acted towards her I would want to know (and would have spanked her silly). I'm not sure this mom really wanted to know but I told her anyway. She said he was used to playing with boys. If that is how boys play I'm sure glad I have girls! Morgan and I had a nice long talk on the way home that the boy at the park wasn't being nice and that not everyone was nice but regardless we are to be nice despite the way others treat us. I'm not sure she got it but at least she heard it. She told me she wanted to play with Braxton because he was nice. He's the only boy (besides his baby brother) in the playgroup.

I wanted to write about these yummy chicken enchiladas that I made for dinner but now I'm too tired. I'll post the recipe tomorrow... it was really good! I'm not really sure how many people actually read this blog but if you're looking for a really good recipe that's super easy... stay tuned!


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wheelbarrow Rides & Update on Hunter Newell

After a delightful dinner of peanut butter, honey & banana sandwiches in the front yard, Justin took the girls on a wheelbarrow ride around the yard! It was as much fun for me to watch as it was for them to ride! We've had a great week so far and I have an update on Baby Hunter Newell that I posted about earlier this week. I spoke with Nathan about 20 mins ago and he's home with Nate (their 19 month old) and Holly is still at Shands. He is heading back down in the morning. Hunter is more stable today than he was yesterday but is still on 100% oxygen for the 4th or 5th day. The doctors said that pure oxygen for this many consecutive days can be harmful to the lungs so they are going to attempt to wean him from the 100% oxygen. Please continue to pray for Hunter and their family as they are both exhausted and feeling overwhelmed.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Things He's Teaching Me

I know I posted earlier today but I have some things on my mind (and the girls are having 2nd naps!) that correlate with what God has been teaching me lately so I thought I would blog them...
First, I'll share a little bit about what God has been teaching me lately through friends and His Word. I would have to say it all started several months ago when we were trying to decide what to do about a house in Dothan; do we build, do we buy, do we rent, do we flip? All of these things had my mind so occupied. My friend Tami is in a somewhat similar situation and has moved to Dothan and she and her family are living with her parents. We were talking about houses and what to do one day and she told me that she keeps reminding herself that a house is just a temporary dwelling. It was so impactful to me and I don't think she even knows it. Here I was so concerned about where would we live and how would it work and which house would be best, yada, yada, yada and it was like God was speaking through a megaphone to me through her. I was so wrapped up in selling our house and getting a lot of money, and finding the perfect house and she so easily and gently reminded me (not even intentionally) that I was so caught up in "temporary dwelling". This is the beginning of how God is showing me how I am seeing things.

I have a natural tendency to see the glass as "half empty" rather than "half full"... and God has been revealing my sinful perspective to me. I've started to read through Job (really to give me a reality check of what it means to truly suffer), if anyone knows suffering it's him. In the first chapter alone, Job loses all he has, including all his children and this is what he does... "Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." Job 1:21 And this is only the first test God gave him. I have so very much to be thankful for yet for some reason I can always find something wrong with almost anything. But God is teaching me otherwise and I am so grateful. He's teaching me to take situations where I would normally complain and be bitter and make them into situations that can bring glory to Himself. For instance, Paiger Rager doesn't like to sleep. She likes to be held almost all the time and likes to be rocked to sleep. I try to take that time (either when I'm holding her or when I'm listening to her scream bloody murder in her crib) to pray for her and give thanks to God for her. I have friends who are desperate to have children but can't and I remind myself that they would do anything and give anything to have a child to rock, a diaper to change, spit up to clean, and noses to wipe... what a blessing that God has given me the huge responsibility of caring for my children. The Lord is teaching me to have the perspective of Job... "may the name of the Lord be praised" in all circumstances.

In addition to changing my perspective, I'm also learning that everyday we have is a gift from above. This kinda goes along with having Job's outlook on life. I know that God is sovereign but there are some situations where I just kinda wonder why He would do what He does... then I have to remind myself that I know He is sovereign. The story I want to share sounds like one of those horrific forwards you get and you wonder if it could really be true. My mom called me last week and told me that Tiffany died (she is the daughter of one of her friends). Let me tell you about Tiffany so you can lift up her family and her children. I'm going to try to be brief and only share what I know to be fact. She's 32 married and has 3 children and is from Mt. Carmel, IL (the small town where my parents live). She has 2 girls (5 (almost 6) and 3) and a newborn baby boy (2.5 months). She had a bizarre heart attack (from what mom says she's the "picture of health") after she had the baby boy in December but was under the care of her doctors and a cardiologist. Apparently when she had her heart attack there was an unnoticed tear in one of the chambers of her heart that had a slow leak. This formed a clot and last Thursday morning she had an aneurysm at home with her children and died instantly. My mom and dad have been to the visitation and the funeral was today at 2. My mom told me that the little girls had drawn their mommy pictures with crayons and put them in her casket. I couldn't help but think of Morgan sitting at her table coloring pictures and asking me to put them on the fridge. That's where these little girl's art work should go... on the fridge... not in their mommy's casket. They held the 2.5 month old up to the casket and he just coo'd and coo'd at the sight of his mother. It just doesn't seem right. Again, I have to remind myself that God is sovereign... He's going to use this to bring glory to Himself. The husband is holding up ok, I guess as well as you can considering he now has 3 young children (one of which is an infant) to care for in addition to grieving the loss of his wife. It seems like too much for one man to bear. It has hit me like a ton of bricks to never take for granted every breath that I have and more importantly to realize that each breath I have is a gift from God. I looked at my two girls today at lunch as we went out to eat together... just the 3 of us. I asked for a table for 3 with one chair and 2 highchairs. I savored every minute of the meal. Morgan fed Paiger Cheerios and reminded me "not to give her any chips because she doesn't have any teeth yet". I just was so aware of the preciousness of life and how quickly it can be given and how quickly it can be taken. I'm confident that God will bring glory to Himself through Tiffany's death. It's hard to see it now as we see such a young family grieving but His word tells us that He is sovereign and that He works together for the good of those who love him. I'm anxious to see how "the name of the Lord will be praised" and how He will bring glory to himself through her death. Please be lifting this family up!

As if that wasn't enough for God to teach me... Saturday morning before we left for Dothan our friend Nathan called to let us know that Holly had their new baby boy the night before. He mentioned that little Hunter had some fluid in his lungs and asked us to pray (and send out an email asking for prayer) because he was in the NICU. As time passed through the weekend the baby has gotten worse and developed pneumonia. They have him on life support and have done all that they can for him here in Tallahassee and at 1:30 this morning they "life flighted" him by helicopter to Gainesville to Shands Hospital. I'll attach a picture of him. He's a little whopper--- weighing in at 9 lbs and 4 ounces (another picture of health). As I've been praying for this little child I can't help but think of my own. What a gift from above. I almost get mad at myself for ever having a bad attitude about anything relating to them... whether it's screaming fits or poopy diapers.... thank you Lord for their lives. I know that Nathan and Holly are deeply saddened and distraught over his sickness. I once again pray and I am anxious to see how "the name of the Lord will be praised!" Please lift them up.

I'm so thankful to the Lord for all he has given me. Sorry this is so long... the girls are still sleeping! I'm impressed if you are still reading this... I know it's a lot.

Our Weekend in a Nutshell

Our weekend started with a visit from our new friend Mabry Hanlon! As you can see by the picture Morgan gives her a 10 and loved having her over. Our visit with LA and Andy was great and all the more special now that she is with them in person!

LA braided Morgan's hair and we just spent some time hanging out together. The Rager had fun too... her scab has finally come off her nose and she's looking more like herself! But I thought as a reminder to myself not to put her on the bed, I'd put one more picture of her on here with her big boo boo! :)

I'm experiencing some layout difficulties. I'm still a rookie at this and can't quite figure out how to get the pictures to lay nicely in the text. Bare with me...

Saturday morning we headed to Dothan with the intentions of finding a rental house. After looking at a couple we decided on one. It just so happens to be across the street from Ryan & Dona (Justin's brother & sister in law) and their 4 kids! It will be great for the cousins to all be so close and be able to spend time together! It's a yellow house with black shutters and has 3 bedrooms. It will be perfect for our family and I'm thankful that we found something so easily. It will be available to us on April 20th and we close here on April 30th. It will give us the perfect amount of time to get stuff in storage, do a little painting and get settled in. God's providence is so good!

We got to spend some time with Neal, Tami, & Judson on Saturday night and (as always) enjoyed the time we had with them. I came down with some sort of bug on Saturday night and ran a fever throughout the night. Thankfully by Sunday morning it was out of my system and I was back to normal! We saw George, Amanda, Collins, Cooper & Cal on Sunday afternoon and got to catch up on their lives.

We didn't drive back to Tallahassee until this morning and what an awesome thing we got to see... the most beautiful sunrise! It's been a while since I've actually seen a sunrise and I'm not sure how I could possibly forget the beauty of one. I wish that I would have snapped a picture but I'm certain it wouldn't have done it justice. The book I'm reading (Helper by Design) started in Chapter 1 with a poem that says

"The earth is crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God: But only he who sees, takes off his shoes, The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries, and daub their natural faces unaware."

This morning God enabled me to "take off my shoes" and see that the sunrise "was crammed with heaven and afire with God".

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Things She Says

I hope to not forget the things that Morgan says that make me laugh... in an effort to remember them I thought I better blog them or else I'm certain I will forget. A couple days ago I got her all settled on the barstool and put her lunch before her. It was every kids dream meal: mac n' cheese, a hot dog, sun chips and apple juice in a really cool Barney cup... well this is the look I got. I couldn't imagine what on earth could be wrong with what I gave her, so I asked, " What's the matter Morgan?" And she replied, "Nothing's wrong Mommy, I'm just thinking!" :)

As we pulled back into the neighborhood on our way home from Disney World, Morgan asked Justin if we were almost to the hotel yet. And then we explained that we were almost home not at Disney World anymore. Then she demanded Justin to, "Put my window down!" And Justin said, "That's not how we ask, what do you say?" She replied, "Put my window down, SIR!" :) We've been working on "Yes, Mam" and "Yes, Sir"... and she's getting better! I usually get "No, Sir" but hopefully we'll have it all straightened out soon!

One of the funniest things she's ever said to me was several weeks ago. I woke up before her and had a few cups of coffee and we all know what that will do to your breath.... well, when I went in her room to change her diaper and get her ready for the day the first thing she said to me was, "Mommy, what's that I 'mell ('mell is her word for smell)?" I said, "I think it's probably Mommy's breath, I just had a cup of coffee." She so eloquently replied, "Nope, it's poop, I think I 'mell poop!" There's no doubt it was my breath so from here on out I will never drink coffee and leave the house without brushing my teeth and chewing gum! :)

On a side note, I took Paiger Rager (the wounded soldier) to the pediatrician this morning. She ran a high fever last night and of course the guilt in me was certain she had a high fever because she fell off the bed (isn't that typically a side effect of falling off the bed?). So, I had to swallow my pride and take the wounded one to the dr and confess that her face is all scratched because I left her unattended on our bed. Well, the doctor assured me that the fever was in no way related to her falling off the bed (whew!) but did inform me that she has an ear infection and sinus infection. She gave us a prescription for Prevacid tablets for acid reflux which is what they (the ENT) think is causing her "chronic sinus congestion" and a prescription for Amoxocillin for the ear! And also recommended Neosporin for the nose.... "Thanks, Doc... but I've already been doing that!" Hopefully she'll be on the road to recovery soon!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Paiger Rager Sat on the Bed

Paiger Rager Sat on our Bed
Paiger Rager Fell on Her Head
All the Kings Horses and all the Kings Men
Couldn't Put Paiger together AGAIN!

I never thought it would happen to me... the dreaded sounded of an 8 month old chunker hitting the ground like a ton of bricks... I was getting ready to go out to dinner, Justin was getting Morgan ready, and I haphazardly placed Paige in the middle of our bed and like a moron walked out of the room. About 20 seconds later we heard that horrid sound of dead weight hitting the ground. Our bed is a plush pillow top which is great to sleep on but really bad to fall from because it sits so high. She screamed bloody murder for about 30 seconds, I held her and probably was worse off than she was, but after a quick breastfeeding from mom she was back to her normal self. The scab on her nose didn't show up until this morning. I assume it is a flip flop burn from the JCrew flip flops that she landed on face first. I put a little dab of our magic Aquaphor on it and I hope it goes away soon! So, to all you moms out there who don't think it could happen to you... it can! I felt absolutely horrible and it has cured me from ever leaving her unattended ever again!

I love you Paiger Rager and I solemnly swear and promise to never leave you alone on our bed again! Love, Mom

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

5 Years & Counting!

Look at the first picture, what do you see? I see a very attractive picture of my husband. He looks very handsome and by his nice smile he seems to be kind and very genuine. All of these are true. But what I love the most about my husband is seen more in the second picture. I know this picture seems very squirrelly but that's how he is. He was imitating Mr. Rogers for Morgan. Now, I don't know too many men who would come home from lunch and imitate Mr. Rogers for their 2 year old, let alone allow me to take a picture of him doing it, but Justin wouldn't think twice. I love his heart, his spirit and his enthusiasm so very much. If that handsome man in the first picture was scarred beyond recognition I'd love him the same because I know the heart and spirit of what's behind his appearance.
We've been married 5 years now and it's hard to believe. What's even harder to believe is that we have moved 4 times and have 2 children. I never would have dreamed that 5 years ago. I will be honest it hasn't all been peaches & cream and 5 years of unbelievable wedded bliss but what it has been is journey to a greater understanding of each other and of what God intends for us in marriage and I wouldn't trade any of our experiences for anything in the world.
I'm in the middle of a study by Elyse Fitzpatrick called "Helper by Design" (highly recommend!)and it has taught me so very much in a such a short amount of time. At first, I thought for sure I would be learning about how to be a submissive wife, keep the house tidy, let him make the decisions, and sit back and be a lowly "helper" to my husband. Instead I've been empowered in the role that God has intended for me as a wife! She compares being a helper to our husbands in the same way that God is a helper to us (He protects us, supports us, & surrounds us). I feel so privileged to be a helper for Justin. God is the potter and we are his clay, He's molding us and making us into the husband and wife he wants us to be. I'm so fortunate to be married to a man who loves the Lord above all else. It makes it so easy to be a "helper" to a man who I know is living his life for the glory of God. I realize that this is such an enormous process and would hate for anyone (especially Justin!) to think that I think I've got it all figure out! The good thing is that my eyes have been opened to what God intends for me to be and I couldn't be more grateful for the husband He has blessed me with.
Thank you, Justin, for loving me as you are called to love me. Thank you for being so easy to love (most of the time)! And I look very forward to many more years of being your wife! I love you!

Wonderful Walt Disney World

I've decided this blog will serve as my journal and a scrapbook. While I was pregnant with Morgan I made this wonderful scrapbook full of all the excitements of pregnancy (ultrasounds, shower invitations, belly pictures etc.) and after she arrived I started a scrapbook for her. I made it from the day she came home from the hospital until Thanksgiving (that would be about 2 weeks) and it stops there! Now Paige is 8 months old and I haven't done one for her either so this will have to serve as the Stickler scrapbook and my journal! I hope I can keep it up and look back on it years later to see what I was doing in March of 2007!

After a somewhat decent night of sleep last night I finally feel up to documenting our trip to Disney! I have to be honest and say that from the beginning I had some reservations about taking a 2 year old and an 8 month old to Disney World. I've always thought we'd go when the girls could remember it... when Morgan is 6 and Paiger is 5. Well, when Kathie called me about it 2 months ago and told me that for her 60th Birthday she wanted to take all her children and grandchildren to Disney, I was 1/2 excited and 1/2 reserved about the idea. I knew it would be fun but would require a decent amount of work, no naps, and sleeping in a hotel room with 2 kids (one who still cries at night)! But after an absolutely delightful trip I'd do it all again next weekend! :)

Here's a brief outline of what we did (this is more for me than anything so I can remember what we did and where we went... it's amazing how hard it was for me to remember what we did and it was only 4 days ago!!) Where is my mind going!

Wednesday 3/7: Morgan left early with GiGi & Pop Pop and Justin, Paige and myself travelled down late Wednesday night after Justin got off work. MapQuest (shortest distance) took us through the cast gate and the most random back way we thought for sure we'd be lost but managed to pull right up to the front of the hotel! The rest of the Stickler clan (GiGi, Pop Pop, Morgan, Jennifer, Dave, Ava, Ryan, Dona, Laura Lee, Banks, Lucy Ford, & Chapel) all ate at the Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney and said the food was really good!

Thursday 3/8: Morgan joined us in our room Thursday morning and was mesmerized with the view from our room. We had a beautiful room at the Grand Floridian that overlooked the pool! We had breakfast at the Gaspirilla Grill at the hotel and then headed off to the Magic Kingdom. We somehow managed to all (15!) stay together on Thursday. Morgan loved the carousel, small world, and others (including the "train ride" (aka Monorail) to the park). She wasn't too into the Peter Pan ride... too dark and too many pirates. Lots of tears were shed. Unfortunately, it's kinda like the carwash--- once you're in you're in and you can't exactly hop out, so she endured it and we promised we wouldn't make her get back on! We all ate lunch together in Frontier Land and the big guys (Dave, Justin, Ryan, Banks & Laura Lee) went on Splash Mountain and Dona and I and the younger 4 headed back to the hotel for naps. We were hopeful that the girls would nap but after so much excitement Thursday morning they couldn't quite wind down. We headed back to the Magic Kingdom that evening to Cinderella's Castle to have dinner at her Round Table to celebrate GiGi's birthday! All the little girls got their picture taken with Cinderella and the dinner was delicious! Of course the entertainment provided by the Fairy Godmother & mice was especially fun for all too! Since dinner was planned early this night Justin and I intended to go out and celebrate our anniversary but after such a long day all we could do was crash.

Friday 3/9: We had a lively breakfast at the Polynesian... Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Goofey were all there too! It was true Polynesian style with tropical fruit juice, lays, and Mickey in a Hawaiian shirt! They brought us cake to celebrate our anniversary, GiGi and Pop Pop's anniversary & GiGi's birthday. It was lots of fun and good food too! After breakfast we parted ways. Justin and I took the girls to the Animal Kingdom (our favorite of all the parks). Morgan loved being in the backpack up high where she could see everything. We strolled through the park and especially loved the Africa exhibit and the 2 week jeep safari through Africa. We came back to the hotel around 1 and had lunch. The girls actually took naps (I think!) and I managed to sit by the pool for a couple hours! We all met back up for dinner at Jiko a wonderful restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. There menu consisted of traditional African food and it was all so good! It was another long day and even though it was our anniversary we decided to cash in early and go to bed with the girls!

Saturday 3/10: After a little confusion of how to get into Epcot before it actually opened we made it to Norway for breakfast with the Princesses! It was very fun, even for Morgan who didn't have a clue who any of them were! After breakfast we were most excited about taking Morgan on the Nemo ride but to our dismay it was broken! We actually waited in line in hopes that it would be fixed but they finally told us there wasn't much hope! So, we settled for a picture of her in front of the ride. We did a few other exhibits and had lunch in Mexico and had to hurry back to the hotel because my sweet husband scheduled me a massage for our anniversary! Justin took the girls to the room for a nap while I was pampered for an hour with a Swedish massage! I returned to the room to find Justin and the girls fast asleep so I headed to the pool! After good naps they all joined me and we spent some time splashing before dinner. We headed back to the Magic Kingdom for another group picture and a great dinner at the Frontier Tavern. I think the kids enjoyed this one the most. I'm not sure what kind of impression we left on those dining around us but I think they knew we were having fun! Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Chip & Dale all made their way to our table during dinner! The family style dining was wonderful too! It was a great way to end a vacation.

Sunday 3/11: After a great breakfast at the hotel we packed up and headed home! We met up with Bill & Kathie in Micanopy (where Doc Hollywood was filmed) and spent some time strolling around and had a nice lunch with some great entertainment!

We had an absolutely wonderful vacation. Bill & Kathie are so selfless and giving of themselves for their children and grandchildren! I can think of a lot of things they could have done with all that they spent to treat their children and grandchildren to such a wonderful time. Everyone had so much fun and we feel truly blessed to be included! If I can figure it out I will add a link to our pictures on Kodak Easy Share. Justin and I decided that we're ready to travel more. I think when you have kids you have this preconceived idea that you can't do anything any more. Especially when you have more than one. I've always had the perspective that now that I have 2 kids I won't ever be able to go anywhere or enjoy things if they're with me because they require so much... and it's so not true. Both girls were very good and had a blast! It gets me excited about taking them on other adventures! It's really exciting to see them learn new things and experience new things and I hope that we can branch out more.

Here are the pictures:

Monday, March 5, 2007

A Visit with MommaSissy

Morgan doing Paiger's hair

One of MommaSissy's BEAUTIFUL projects!

Morgan's 1st Dolphin ride

Morgan in the DVD box before we left for our "road trip"

"I love you, MommaSissy!"

Morgan absolutely loves her MommaSissy, unfortunately we don't get to see her all that often. This past weekend the girls and I loaded up and headed down to the beach from Dothan. I thought since we were now fully equipped with a new DVD player with 2 screens the trip would be a piece of cake. Unfortunately, I was wrong! A little stress on the way down and a lot of stress on the way home has convinced me that I will never travel with my girls by myself again (unless it's a trip to Target). Paige may have screamed about 75% of the way home and pooped through her diaper and clothes. It was quite eventful! I called Erika and told her we had a great time and that I hope she had fun too because we would never be coming back again! :)

Besides the trip to and from we had a very enjoyable weekend! MommaSissy always has fun tricks up her sleeve. Saturday afternoon we stopped by a project she was working on; I'm always amazed at the work she does and often wonder if this house we plan to build will go WAY over budget. I hope I can achieve a similar look for a fraction of the price (I sound like a commercial!). After checking out her project we headed over to Destin Commons (if anyone hasn't been there I highly recommend it!). We splurged on valet parking and went straight to the playground. Well, I'm not exactly sure how to describe it because "playground" sounds so generic... it was like a "oceanscape" playground with sandcastles, dolphins, boats, crabs, etc! Morgan loved every minute of it! We had a great dinner outside (yea for FL!) and then MommaSissy took Morgan on her very first train ride. I was hoping to get a picture of it but when Momma Sissy got out of the train car to get a picture of Morgan inside Morgan thought she was leaving her on the train by herself and burst in to tears. So, no picture of them on the train but they did love it! We strolled around a little afterwards and then headed home! It was a wonderful night & Morgan loved it. She kept asking to "go back and play with all those kids"!

Sunday morning Chance treated us to scrambled eggies and cinnamon rolls.... mmmm! And Morgan enjoyed eating with Uncle Chance on the big girl stools. After breakfast we piddled around Point Washington and WaterColor! I got to see another one of Erika's projects and fell in love with this one too! After a very stressful trip back to Dothan I was very relieved to have my husband back by my side! I think he's the most wonderful Daddy in the world and I will never go anywhere without him again! :)

We're home now and preparing for our most daunting adventure yet... DISNEY WORLD!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Moments of Joy in Days of Chaos!

I continue to be ever amazed at the vocabulary of young children (and babies too- they can't talk but they let you know what they need & when they need it)! Now, of course, I have a natural inclination to label them as smart and witty but I'm telling you I may be on to something here! :) The things that Morgan will say blow me away and little Paige too, you can't sneak anything past her.

Morgan has had a little cough the last couple nights and I can hear her in her bed coughing all night. My expert opinion on sleep tells me that it prevents her from getting that "deep" sleep that everyone needs. The result of two-year old tendencies and no sleep really don't go well together. It was "meltdown" city here yesterday. We had some friends over for a picnic after Bible study and if you didn't know she was 2 you would have thought Morgan's life was coming to an end. Her Popsicle broke and she needed a new one immediately, then the new one was too cold, then she wanted sunscreen all over her whole body but she wanted to be the one to apply it, then her friends were playing with her toys (imagine that!), then she needed a bath so we opted for a "cat bath" she was thrilled for the idea until she realized that meant she didn't get to get in the tub with all her animals, then she wanted to watch Maisy before her nap and because I told her "no" she screamed, cried, kicked her legs and laid prostrate on the hall floor. Part of me wanted to give in which I'm learning that giving in is much easier... but the challenge is to not give in and who doesn't love a challenge!? So, I scooped her up and put her in bed! She fell asleep and peace fell upon this house! :)

That's just to give you an idea of what our day was like so you can see how very much I enjoyed the time I had with her last night.

My sister-in-law may be one of the most generous persons I know and has been so giving to us. All of the clothes that Ava outgrows come straight to us. I'm not sure Jennifer has any idea of what a blessing this has been and will continue to be to us. Morgan pretty much just wears Ava's clothes and Paige pretty much just wears Morgan's clothes that were Ava's clothes. This past Sunday in Dothan Jennifer loaded us up with 3 bags overflowing with the cutest clothes you've ever seen and in addition to all the clothes a huge Tupperware full of shoes.

Now that you know how my last couple days have gone here in "meltdown" city you can understand why these clothes would still be sitting on Morgan's floor! Last night Morgan and I tackled the piles one article of clothing at a time. First, we had to pick out a pair of jammies from the pile for her to wear to sleep and the ones we picked were "just bootiful"! Morgan would pick up each article of clothing and say, "Ava gave me this and it's so cute, what does it match, Mommy?" We'd go through each outfit and hang them on hangers and the whole time I was so enamored with the things that she said that the daunting task was much less of task and much more of a joy! She'd say, "Mommy what are these pants, these are just enormous?" "Oooh Mommy, this has Strawberry on it, isn't it so pretty?!" "Ohhh, these are soooo cute!" "Look Mommy what do these match?" She's so funny with matching because she loves to say things match but she doesn't really quite understand what "match"means. She loves to pick out a bow and say "this one matches perfect" when really it is so incredibly far from matching but I can't stand to burst her little bubble. If you see us out in a pink outfit with a red bow just realize we're wearing it because it "matches"! :)

I'm confident the Lord blesses us with these little moments of sweet joy when "we think" we've had a really rough day to remind us of the blessings He has so graciously given us. What joy and gratitude I have for my children! Even for the "meltdown" days!