Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Shower quandary

Today I am making a dessert to take to the baby shower of a person I do not know. I don't think I have ever even seen her. But her family is relatively new to our church, she just had her fourth baby and is soon scheduled to have open heart surgery. She also works full time and helps take care of her brother-in-law who has been in bad shape after almost dieing a few years ago. I think this girl deserves a shower!!!

At first when approached about this I thought that since I didn't know her I would bow out of this one...But then I got to thinking about some things Val has mentioned in his blog and some things Rob and I have talked about as of late. If my making a dessert and giving $10 towards a gift brightens her day or lessen her load...Well to me it seems that is the least I can do, stranger or not. The girls hosting the shower don't have lots of extra to give. I don't even think they know her that well. They just saw a need. Truly how often does that happen in our lives?

Does it ever seem we heap gifts and blessing on those who have more than they ever need anyway and sort of look the other way when those who truly have need aren't in our circle? Some of the biggest, most well attended showers I have helped host or attended have been for some of my wealthiest friends. Some of the smallest least attended showers have been for some of the people who I know economically needed it the most. What does that say about us as people, or as a church community or as a society?

At my church there is a big thing about not putting baby showers in the bulletin unless it is THE FIRST BABY! There are no exceptions to this rule and despite the pleas of at least two ministers on two different occasions, the policy is hard and fast. I think it is a very snotty policy that leaves people out, makes it very hard and expensive to include everyone and takes away one of the our best ways to bring ladies together for fellowship and to honor and support new moms. When I moved to Midland and Southlake I made a point to go to all the baby showers I could. I read about these showers in the bulletin and showed up whether I knew the person or not because I wanted to get to know people.

Since we moved here, I have helped host at least a dozen showers.. Most all for 2nd or even 3rd babies. Without fail we have accidentally left someone out or hurt feelings because we did not send someone an invitation. It hard not to exclude someone in a church with over 350 ladies on the role! It also makes it hard to have showers for people who are new and don't know who to invite. I wonder what this says to a new mom moving to our congregation? Or a mom who has never had a shower here? Or a mom who isn't plugged in enough to know dozens of people to invite? It would be so much easier if the church would just give a few lines in the bulletin to announce the showers. Not to just pick on my church here because I think all of have our own "snotty" policies when it comes to showers and giving in general.

After reading over this I am afraid my friends are going to think this is my way at hinting that I want a shower...But it truly is not. This is not really about me at all. It is just an example of a way I think we as Christians put boundaries where there should not be boundaries and just try to stay in our comfortable little bubble of friends and traditions. I want to do better at including people, and at least at church, giving with out prejudice when I see a need. It's going to be hard for me I confess. I'm really proud of the girls throwing this shower tonight and the ones who always help give no matter who is receiving. I want to be more like them. I'm starting tonight with $10 bucks and a a bowl of Chocolate Eclare Pudding. Wish me luck.

Monday, January 30, 2006

A Little Kick & some Mommy Mush

Sorry to turn this into a pregnancy blog but I am what I am.

Last night at Wendy's in the middle of saying something to a friend, I felt it! The very first little kick! It caught me off guard and mid-sentence I said "I just felt a kick." OK truth be told I have been sort of nervous because I had not felt anything other than a few uncertain flutters up until now. I'm 16 weeks and felt my first kick with Rhett around 13/14 weeks. With Kolby it was more in the 18/20 week time frame, but I didn't know what to feel then. So anyway, I have been praying for kicks!

Call it that horrible post-miscarriage paranoia or just natural mommy worry, but I almost rented one of those little Doppler things last week so I could listen for the heart beat when ever I wanted to prove that there is really someone in there growing and doing OK. At any rate, I was really excited to feel that first little kick. Yes, it could have been a weird muscle spasm but it happened again 10 minutes later, so I choose to believe it was a kick! YAY!!!!

In other Mommy news, I don't know if I am feeling guilt because Rhett won't be my baby anymore, or if he is just in a very charming, cute stage, but I find myself completely tickled and enamored by my little boy. Friday we had a date night because Kolby was at a birthday party and Rob was reffing a basketball game. We went to "Buzz-o-lees"(Fazzoli's for the rest of you who don't speak Rhett) and to Toys-R-Us for a survey trip. ("Just looking" trips are "survey trips" in our house.) We finished the night off with a few rounds of Memory and Guess Who and root beer floats.

Afterwards, Rhett wanted to sleep in my bed. Rob and I have an unwritten rule about kids sleeping in our bed, we don't do it. So I told him that I would snuggle in his bed with him for a little while. Mid-snuggle, Rhett told me that when his Daddy got really old like Nana and died, he would sleep in my bed with me. I sort of laughed and told him by then that he would be married to his own wife and live in his own house in his own bed with her.
"But I want to marry you."
Very flattered and perhaps a bit misty eyed I said "You can't marry me Rhett, I'm your Mommy."
"Can I marry someone just like you?" (Did I mention that he is the sweetest little boy in the whole wide world!?)
"Of course you can!"
It melted my heart!!! Don't worry, I won't hold him to the sweet sentiments of a four year old when he's in his twenties. But it is conversations like that one that I will hold in my heart forever! I love being a Mom!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Stephanie Secret #3

The other day I drove through Schlotsky's and ordered a water and a bag of Salt & Vinegar Chips. "That's all?" the girl asked. "That's all!" I answered. I got some really odd looks when I picked my order up at the window. After the chips were gone, I kept the bag in the car for a day so I could smell it! Let the cravings begin...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


In the last few nights I have ...

...Given birth to a 9lb. 7 oz baby girl who accidently "slipped out" during a monthly doctors check up. She was born dressed in a pink dress and bonnet and I begged the doctor to put her back in so Rob wouldn't miss her birth. Seems he was playing golf and counldn't be reached.

...Tried to kill a crazy senior citizen who kept saying she would kill me and eat my kids if I didn't kill her first. I tried many methods to no avail.

...Fallen asleep by the side of a river and been swept away by a sudden flash flood to a country where I knew no one and they could not understand a word I said though I knew exactly what they were saying.

...Visited a friend from high school in her new home and discovered she had a blue tiled bathroom that had two twin double decker bath tubs and showers combinations and lots of strangers were bathing in her house.

....Rescued my children from being swept away while they were driving down the street in front of the house I grew up in a silver ride-on truck in the middle of sudden flash flood. (Have I metioned we are in the midst of a drought?)

... Married the wrong guy becasue I thought he was Rob and spent the rest of the night trying to convince Rob and all our friends that it was an accident and I wanted an annulment so I could marry Rob.

... Lived naked on the roof.

... Eaten all the food for Kolby's school's winter dinner on accident (they are expecting a record 350 people) but couldn't fit in the van to drive to Outback to get more because I was too big from eating all the food.

Of course they were all dreams. Prego dreams. Crazy prego dreams! I have had them every pregnancy, but I think this time they have hit a new level of oddness and terror. Yet still, though I know I will toss an turn in turmoil all night , I am so tired I can't wait for my head to hit the pillow.

I wonder how the people of the Bible knew God was talking to them in their dreams. I might have just thought it was bad olive oil or sour fruit or something if he had come to me in a dream.

Well that is as deep as it gets today folks! Happy Wednesday!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Monday, Monday

This our first Monday in school since the holidays. I think it is really nice of MISD to ease back into the year that way!:) I used to despise Mondays when I was in school and when I worked, but as a stay home Mom they aren't so bad. In fact I sort of enjoy getting back into the swing of another week.

Today my sister comes home from Detroit. She has been gone since before Nana died. Auto shows are fun when you are in a great city and the crowds aren't too bad. Neither of those things can be said about Detroit. It is the big MAMA of all US Auto Shows and it is a hard, long show to work. I think Sari had fun but I know she is ready to be home and we are ready to have her back.

Yesterday was another prego sick day. Unlike most sick days, I was sick in the morning and fine by last night. The sick days are getting fewer and farther apart, which is a great sign. I think the hormones are in high gear though as I am crying at Hallmark commercials and having the most crazy dreams! Just another part of the prego journey.

Yesterday afternoon I ventured to SAMS for the essentials (toilet paper, detergent and milk) with Kolby and Rhett while Rob attended his referee meeting. When we drove over the bridge that is supposed to span the Brazos river, THE RIVER WAS GONE!!!! There was just a big brown empty channel with little puddles here and there.

In an almost panic I called Rob and said "The river is gone!"(Like he had anything to do with it, or could bring it back! ;) He explained that if I ever read the paper I would have known that they closed up the dam last week because the lake is getting dangerously low. So no river! The kids and I were pretty upset about the ducks but Rob assured us that they have all flown south for the winter. I let the kids believe that but I don't think these are all flying south type ducks. Then Rhett brought up all the fish, turtles, and occasional snakes we see in the river. Rob assured him that they all went with the water downstream... again, I'm not so sure. ( I had dead fish nightmares last night!) We love to go to the river and feed the ducks and fish. The river is such a pretty part of Waco! I want our river back! So we are all praying for rain harder than ever before...And in other news...

Yesterday morning I awoke to the strangest sound. Little drops of water were hitting the window. It was the strangest thing. Someone said it was rain. I don't quite remember what rain is, but I am so grateful for that heavenly moisture from above. Today the sun is back. But I hope that "rain" comes to visit us again really soon!

Have a great day blog world!!!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Confession and Prayers

The last few days I have been praying hard for somethng Rob and I both hope will happen. I mean I have been praying non-stop for this thing to work out. Then I read Brandon's blog yesterday. I followed the link to Russel Heil's blog. I read the obituary in the Fort Worth paper. Then I felt really silly for putting so much energy into praying for this thing to work out. There are people in this world who need God so badly and need our prayers so fervently.
Though I never knew Kari Heil, I can not stop thinking about her family and those precious little girls. My prayers are taking on a totally different form today. I feel humbled and selfish for bothering God hourly for the last few days with my request. It's so easy to get caught up in myself and forget that there is a whole big world out there that needs God and needs us to care about them. With a bit of guilt I confess that God has blessed me far beyond what I deserve and I aspire to be more of a blessing to others. How can I even think of asking God for more? It's not all about me, or Rob, or our kids. It's not all about what happens in my world but what is happening in HIS world. Please join me in praying for the Heil/Firestone family today, and in the weeks and months ahead.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Stephanie Secret #2

If you put carrot & parsnip peels and celery strings down the dipose-all don't be surprised to find a peel filled waterfall cascading from the cadinets under the sink onto your favorite fluffy houseshoes.

AND don't make homemade chicken noodle soup before 8am because you just might forget to add the chicken.

So how was your day?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The hippo and the turtle

NAIROBI (AFP) - A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise, in an animal facility in the port city of Mombassa, officials said. The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about 300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down
Sabaki River into the Indian Ocean, then forced back to shore when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on December 26, before wildlife rangers rescued him.

"It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a 'mother'," ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in charge of Lafarge Park, told AFP. "After it was swept and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized. It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother. Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat and sleep together," the ecologist added. "The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it follows its mother. If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive, as if protecting its biological mother," Kahumbu added. "The hippo is a young baby, he was left at a very tender age and by nature, hippos are social animals that like to stay with their mothers for four years," he explained.

Just goes to show, one is never too old to be a "mother" :)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Rainy days and Mondays...

ARE WONDERFUL! Despite what Karen Carpenter sang all those years ago, this is one rainy day, rainy Monday even, that I am thoroughly enjoying. We need it to rain hard for days and days to end this drought, but we are still appreciative of the occasional sprinkles and promising grey skies overhead today.

My kids slept past 9AM this morning! HALLELUJAH! We are having a very lazy MLK day around here. It is probably the calm before the storm. Tomorrow Rhett heads back to school for the first time since December. Poor little guy had strep throat last week and had to miss both days of Mothers Day Out. So tomorrow will be our first normal day since before the holidays. It has been a nice break, but it's time to get back down to business.

More good news...I haven't puked in three days! That is a bit of a record! I am starting to feel less nauseated but wondering if I will ever get my energy back? I need all that energy because I have a very long list of major reorganization projects to tackle. I get tired just thinking about it all! I also have the very lofty goal of bringing Rhett's baby book up to date before next July. It is a lofty goal because Rhett hasn't been born in his baby book yet! It's a bit overwhelming, so I'm trying to trick myself into starting with out thinking about it too much. So far that isn't working!

The hardest part of of having a third so far is that life keeps on trucking with the other two no matter what. For instance, if I am puking and feeling really green, Kolby still has to be at basketball practice. No matter how much I would love to do nothing but clean out and reorganize every inch of this house for the next few months, I still have a four year old who needs to get to have play dates, lunches at Burger King, and the occasional morning at the zoo. Going through "nesting mode" with two already in the nest is a bit more challenging. Of course there is also twice the excitement and anticipation for this baby so I guess it balances out.

Kolby and Rhett are still so excited! Last night just before bed Rhett came and laid his head in my lap. I asked him if he was tired. "No, I'm just trying to see if I can hear the baby." We are all ready for the "kick and moving belly" stage! Today Kolby was dancing around the living room with he biggest smile on her face. I said that she seemed to be in an extra good mood and asked if it was because she got a day off of school. She said "No, I'm just happy to be alive and happy that there is going to be a baby living here in a few months." Can't argue with that! We're all smiles and full of anticipation!

Rob is going to take some comp. time this afternoon and come home early. He has some big things going on at work and is really excited about all that. I'm prayerful and hopeful over all the opportunities that have come his way lately. He works so hard that I relish anytime he gets to be home and relax a bit!

So that is where we are...Just living a plain old mundane yet still a wonderful and active life. Blogging may have to take a back burner to nesting, cleaning, scrapbooking and just plain living for a while, but I will be around! Have a great MLK day blog world! :)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A time to mourn

Warning ~ If you wanted something cheery or funny this may not be the blog for you today.
I sat down to type a post several times over the last few days but ended up going away in tears or deleting it all. There is so much to say that I don't know what to say. Forgive me while I think "on-line" and type a few thoughts out.

Nana's death, the trip to Coleman, and the sweet funeral and burial that followed opened a floodgate of memories and emotions. It is hard to explain. I find myself rejoicing for her passing yet truly mourning her. The tears come unexpectedly and often and usually there is a little laughter in the mix. Nana Ruth was such a huge part of my life growing up. The first 27 years of my life my grandparents were seldom more than 75 miles away and I saw them often.

Nana and Grandaddy had a huge role in determining who I am. I was their first grandchild. I'm the only grandchild Nana ever had to spank. (Even though she regretted it later, I know it was probably deserved.) I was not what they were expecting. My Mom and Aunt were dark haired, dark eyed, babies with well defined features. I was born with "peach fuzz" for hair, chunky all over and had very blue eyes. I was not quiet and demure like my mother. I played with matches, climbed trees and scaled the kitchen cabinets. I was known to take myself for walks around the block at age two and try to cook on the stove at age three. I always wanted to go, go, go , and I talked...A lot. I was a handful.

But Nana and Grandaddy didn't seem too shocked or put out with me. In fact I loved being with them and just took for granted that they liked having me around. I loved spending days by myself in Coleman. I loved when they came to Angelo for their doctors appointments. I still remember sitting in the front yard for what seemed an entire afternoon waiting for their car pull into our driveway. I usually cried when they left, even though it would probably be just be a week or two until I saw them again. At an early age I realized my grandparents were special. I have many memories of Nana telling Grandaddy "Caskey we have the best daughters and the best grandkids...How did we ever get so lucky." We were really the lucky ones and we knew it.

Nine years ago this March my Grandaddy died. My Nana was never the same. I'm not sure any of us have been. After Grandaddy, Nana seemed to loose a part of her spunky self. The dementia crept in and eventually robbed her of most of her short term memory. My parents moved to Coleman hoping to keep Nana in her house. They realized a year or so later that they needed help so they all moved to Waco. After a nasty fall into a plate glass cabinet door, we knew that no house would be safe for Nana.

Nana lived in an assisted living center for a while but it wasn't enough for her. Every two or so years since we moved Nana to Waco's newest, nicest care facility. Each facility got better as Nana got worse. I blocked out so much of what was happening then with Nana. I tried to become emotionally numb but the first time she didn't realize who I was, it broke my heart. I stopped going to see her very often because it was so hard on her and me. She once followed me to the door crying and begging me to take her. I never went by myself again. It was easier to live with the guilt of not seeing her than to live with the painful reality that Nana wasn't Nana anymore. That was how it was for several years. Then last Thursday it looked as though the end was near and we all went to say goodbye.

Late that night my cousin and I were alone with just our Moms and Nana. At one point Mom said she thought Nana said my name. When I bent over her bed to talk to her (she couldn't hear very well) she opened her eyes and looked at me and said "There she is!" It was loud and clear enough for everyone in the room to hear. It truly pierced my heart to see that my grandmother not only knew me, but seemed really glad I was there. For just a breif second, she was my Nana again and I was her beloved first grandchild. That moment is a precious gift I will cherish always. Nana went to sleep less than an hour later and, as far as we know, never woke up again.

There is still a lot to process, but above all I am happy Nana is home. I am glad she is with my Grandaddy and so many other loved ones who passed on years ago. I'm glad my Mom and Aunt don't have to see their mother that way anymore. I'm glad we can let the last nine years go and remember the good times, because there were so many! But still it is hard to think that I will never see my Nana this side of heaven again. I'll never hear her sweet voice or catch a glimpse of that mischievous twinkle in her eye. After years of trying not to think about Nana, I find these past few days that I can think of little else. I guess that is what you do when one of your favorite people in the world dies.

I thank God that Ruth and Caskey Livingston were my grandparents! I hope and pray I can live up to and pass on the legacy of love and Christian servanthood that they left for me and my family to follow. My family has shared so much laughter over the past days remembering our grandparents. And there have been tears, mostly sweet tears of goodbye. My Mom and Aunt are doing as well as they can be expected to do. I know we will all be just fine soon. This is just our time to mourn.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Just got home! It has been a fast and furious few days with little sleep involved, but it is over. The funeral was very sweet and just what I think Nana would have wanted... Actually she would blushed and told us that we were too sweet and been very embarrassed! It's so good to finally remember past the alheimers/dementia that took her away so many years ago! I miss her but am so happy she is finally home!

Anyway, it's all been a blur. A good, sentimental, memory filled blur. Thanks for your prayers and well wishes.I'm posting the Obit from the San Angelo paper today below. There is no way to sum up a life in a few paragraphs!

Publication Date: January 9, 2006

COLEMAN — Ruth Whitaker Livingston, 96, longtime Coleman resident, formerly of San Angelo, died Saturday, Jan. 7, 2006, in Waco, Texas. Funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Monday, Jan. 9, at the Elm Street Church of Christ with Rick Hagelstein officiating. Burial will follow in the Coleman City Cemetery.
Ruth Whitaker was born Sept. 15, 1909, in Gail, Texas, in Borden County to Robert Hamilton Whitaker and Hettie Kincaid Whitaker. After graduating from San Angelo High School, she attended San Marcos State College and San Angelo Junior College. She then worked for Ted Brown and Associates until her marriage on Aug. 31, 1941, to Thomas Caskey Livingston in San Angelo. She became a loving wife and later mother and grandmother. The couple celebrated 56 years of marriage before Caskey’s death on March 27, 1997.
Ruth and Caskey spent most of their married years in Coleman raising their girls and being involved in church and community activities. In 2000, Ruth moved to Waco to be near her daughters and their families.
Surviving are Ruth’s two daughters and sons-in-law, Mary K. and Corydon Elliot of Hewitt and Thomasue and Rick Hagelstein of China Spring; one brother and sister-in-law, Robert Hugh and Jayne Whitaker of Abilene; six grandchildren, Stephanie Elliot Grosz and husband Rob of Hewitt, Ashley Hagelstein Sanders and husband David of China Springs, Robby Hagelstein and wife Maria of Hewitt, Amber Hagelstein Russell and husband James of Hewitt, Sari Elliot of Hewitt and Aubin Hagelstein of China Spring; eight great-grandchildren, Kolby and Rhett Grosz, Samantha, Scarlett and Suzanne Sanders, Justin and Whitney Hagelstein, and Kelton Russell; two nephews, Bo Whitaker and Bill Whitaker, both of Abilene; special friend Lillie Rice, who became like a third daughter; and numerous other relatives and friends.
Stevens Funeral Home

Saturday, January 07, 2006

My Nana

Thursday night we got a call that Nana might be taking her last breathes. Her O2 saturation was low and they said at times they couldn't tell if she was still alive. I was at Kolby's basketball practice with two of my first cousins. We left together for the nursing home.

When we got there Nana was surrounded by her two daughters and son-in-laws and all six of her grandchildren, and her friend, sitter and care-taker for the last six years, Lilly. Then she rebounded. She became more alert. For the first time in a long time she seemed to know who we were. She started breathing more normally and her 02 levels rebounded. She even said a few understandable words. We were all able to say goodbye knowing Nana knew us. It was a specail for time for our family.

Nana went to sleep around midnight Thursday night never to rouse again. She died this morning at 2:00am. I am so glad she has finally left behind the shell of a life alheimers left her with to go to an incredible everlasting life in Heaven! To quote a family friend, I bet Nana was so suprised to wake up in the arms of Jesus! We rejoice for her and celebrate the special wife, mother, sister, daughter, grandmother, aunt, friend and life-long, faithful Christian woman she was! I am sure I will post more about my Nana in weeks to come. For now it is just wonderful to know that for the first time in almost 9 years, my Nana is happy!

The funeral will be in Coleman, Texas at the Elm Street Church of Christ at 11:00am on Monday. The arrangements are being handled by Stevens Funeral Home in Coleman.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


I won't pretend to be a huge football fan. I only root for Texas when they are playing out-of-staters or occasionally the Raiders. But last night I about had a heart attack watching the Rose Bowl! What a game! WOW!!! Rob was laughing at me getting so into the game. I was hollering at the TV, gasping every time Texas missed a first down and mentally willing Vince Young to run those last yards to a National Championship...And he did! AMAZING! Congratulations to all the true Texas fans in my life, including the one snoring The Eyes of Texas across the room! I am so happy for Mack Brown and all his staff and players. Texas never gave up and that is why they won. After a long drought, Texas is finally home to the National Champions. HOOK"EM HORNS!!!
Now if the Cowboys could only get a quarterback like Vince Young... Maybe I'm a closet football fan after all! :)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Heartbeat

My Mom went with me to my doctors appointment today. Dr R said everything looks good and I have again lost a few pounds. I guess being sick and nauseated over the holidays does have a perk! We also heard the heartbeat. I love that sound! There really is a little someone way down in there somewhere! AMAZING! I think Rob is a little sad he missed it, but since this was his first morning back at work since the 22, I didn't want him to have to leave for a doctors appointment. There will be many, many more appointments for Rob to go to. It was fun to have my Mom there and to introduce her to Dr. R. He is a great man and Doctor.

We talked a bit today about pregnancies after miscarriages. Dr R said it is always normal for pregnant women to worry because the emotional and perhaps hormonal side often overtakes the logical side. Having a misscarriage just adds a whole lot of education and therefore fuel to the natural worry every mother feels. I know that, but it is nice to have a doctor who understands. He also said that all I can to do is take care of myself, live as healthy as I can, and then give it to God. I knew that too, but again, it was good to hear my Doctor say it! Dr R even said if I get nervous I am welcome to call and swing by to hear the heartbeat. I doubt I will because I am actually feeling pretty good about things, but it is nice to know that I can! :)

So far I really like 2006!