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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Getaway


For a week in September, Brian and I were able to fly out to San Antonio, by ourselves! Brian was going out there for a business conference, so the company was paying for his flight, his hotel, and his rental car. I wanted to go with him for a little R&R, since I knew it was probably the last chance to travel anywhere until the little baby is several months old. My dad was nice enough to use some of his SkyMiles to get me a $5 plane ticket, so we didn't have to pay for anything! We did add one night to the hotel stay at our expense. You just can't beat one week in San Antonio for $125! We left Andrew in the very excited hands of Nana and PawPaw.
I had planned on just hanging out in the hotel room while Brian was at his meeting. A whole week, of a quiet, clean (well, it's a hotel; clean in this case means no toys scattered everywhere...) room, my own T.V., and a book. Well, I devoured the book in one day, but I found plenty of time to nap and watch TLC for extended periods of time! Our hotel was right on the Riverwalk, which is a neat little section of the San Antonio River that winds through downtown. Along the Riverwalk are restaurants, bars, shops, lots of little vendors. It's really quite romantic! We must've walked two miles every day, though, and little pregnant me only packed her flip flops, so Brian so sweetly rubbed my feet for me at night.
The last full day we were there, we hit some of the main sights in town. One, of course, the famous Alamo. The Alamo was one of five Catholic missions in San Antonio founded in the 1700's in wild Texas to convert native people to Catholicism. Surprisingly, they are all still standing and still serving. The Alamo is famous for the number of battles fought between American soldiers and the Mexican army. I couldn't figure out what the big deal was...I mean, usually, you fight for a specific region that has a valuable resource, like clean water, good soil, gold, etc. This place, in 1836, was the desert, 6 million miles away from nowhere. After taking the tour and reading up on the history, I realized it was more of a fight of principle, symbolic of taking a stand for something you believe in. All of the men died defending the Alamo, because they'd rather die than admit defeat.


The Alamo at night.


We did drive to all five missions, I thought it would be neat to see these living pieces of history. We started at Mission Espada, which is the one farthest away from town, the most remote of the missions. Since it was so far from town, it was (and is) the least elaborate, I imagine due to it being so far from supplies and laborers. It was beautiful in its simplicity. The church is still standing, but that's pretty much all that's left of the compound. All the missions housed hundreds of people, had numerous livestock, gardens, granaries; they were self-sufficient little cities. The "mission of the mission" was to convert the native peoples (Indians? Mexicans?) to Catholicism. What struck me as most poignant here at the mission (more so than at the others) was that it is an active parish. (*Side note: I'm not Catholic, so forgive me, my Catholic friends, if I use the wrong words...a parish is like the congregation, right? The area the church serves?) This means that there are still nuns and a priest that live there. You'll see from the pictures just how rustic and remote this place was. The nuns had a little garden full of beautiful flowers, and had many, many birdfeeders filled with birds.

Mission Espada


The inside of Espada's church.
I was tempted, for about 3 minutes, to convert to Catholicism and be a nun, so I could live in the little stone rectory (again, Catholic friends, is this right?) and feed the birds and tend my garden, walking with the Lord daily. It was all so romantic to me! Then I realized I'd have to live without Super Pretzels and sweet tea. Poof, the dream is gone.
The next mission we visited was Mission San Juan, which was much the same as Espada. I was running low on memory in my camera, so I didn't take any pictures, but it was very similar to Espada. And, like Espada, it was still active, in fact, they had just performed a wedding there a few weeks before. It was a little less glorious in my mind, because the nuns didn't have a pretty little garden....
The third, and by far largest and most restored mission was Mission San Jose. It literally took my breath away. Again, the desire to be Catholic struck, but visions of french fries danced in my head. (There was a McDonalds across the street...this one was not so remote.) It was huge, and beautiful.

The church at Mission San Jose



The dormitory at San Jose, for priests.


Another view of San Jose

And, the fourth one we drove to was Mission Conception, which was actually under restoration, so we couldn't go into the church (or is it a cathedral?) It's also very very close to downtown, so less remote, less desolate, but still extremely beautiful and a nice glimpse into the past.



Our last night in San Antonio we walked a few blocks to our hotel to San Fernando Cathedral, which is the oldest cathedral in America! It was beautiful, and very much still in operation. In fact the Pope was there just a few years ago. I took some shots of it at night, and the lighting almost makes it seem like the light of God shining from the cathedral. I had goosebumps when I saw the picture!


Anyways, this was the longest blog post in history, but the pictures were too pretty not to share. And it was nice to share how moved I was in seeing these missions. I could only hope that I would be filled with such convictions to go to so desolate a place, in a dangerous territory filled with warring peoples, to spread the word of God.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice!

Most of you all have heard the news, but for those of you who haven't, we've been blessed with having a little girl!
We had our 20 week ultrasound on Friday, and we were thrilled to see that it's a lil' lady in there! The lady doing the ultrasound (ultrasonographer? is that a real word?) said from the get-go that she knew it was a girl from the way the baby was acting. Little girl was quite stubborn about showing off her goods, which made me secretly glad, because I'm hoping that means she'll be a modest little thing! I remember when we had Andrew's ultrasound, he had his legs spread wide to the world, showing it allll off. Which, I suppose, is typical of the male gender in general :)
Here are a few shots, the ones in which you can actually see something and know what it is...we have lots of shots of arm bones and leg bones and the skull, but nobody (except me) gets excited about that! I've uploaded them on the "large" setting so that it may be a little easier to see.


Little Feet
These next two photos are my very very favorites...the first one is of the little Rockette. Yes, folks, that is her LEG touching her forehead! It makes me laugh every time I see it. I've been telling Brian these last 6 weeks that this baby was m-o-v-i-n-g like crazy. Now he can see what I mean!


This one is another favorite. It's my little girl with her 'dukes' up. She's got both her fists up in front of her face, ready to take on the world! Maybe that means she will be a tomboy. After all, her mommy was on the boxing team for a year in college!


Andrew went with us to the ultrasound; we thought he might enjoy it. He did actually sit very nicely eating his grapes. At one point he did recognize that it was a baby, but about 20 minutes into it he said, "Yucky!" Then we went to the waiting room to wait to see the doctor, and Brian showed Andrew the picture of the baby and asked, "What is that, Andrew?"

To which Andrew replied, "Monkey!"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Measure of a Mother

Do any of you moms out there ever feel like you're just running uphill during a mudslide? That's what I'm feeling these days. Last night I even asked my husband if we were good parents. How do you measure or judge that? Andrew is alive (a plus, I assume), clean, healthy, has a house, good food, and too many toys. Does that make us good parents? He's not potty trained, uses a pacifier, and is still in his crib at almost 3 years old. Does that negate all the good things?

I look around and I've got friends who have 2 years old children who are using the potty, sleep in a twin bed, and have never used a pacifier. How can I not compare Andrew to those kids? Did we drop the ball somewhere? Or are we just doing what we feel Andrew can handle?

He's peed and pooped in the potty several times. But the number of times he has peed in the floor is exponential. In fact, he thinks its hilarious when he pees on the floor. Especially when he stomps in the puddle, then runs through the house, leaving pee pee footprints everywhere. Monday morning we were working hard with the potty until he apparently decided he'd had enough, and actually threw the potty at me. So, after that incident, paired with the eight sets of pee-soaked underwear, and the availability of ZERO clean towels in the house, I (we, Brian has a say too!) decided it wasn't worth getting angry at Andrew and putting pressure on him. Nevermind that I'm now 20 weeks pregnant, and losing the ability to get up and down off the floor (easily and painlessly) to wipe up pee. So, we're taking a break.

How do you judge whether or not you're doing a good job with your kids? Do you compare them to other kids? Or do you just wait until they're older and see if they put themselves in jail? Or do you really ever know? I suppose that's where prayer and faith come into play. You do the best with what you have, rely on God to mold their hearts, and pray for the best. After that, it's up to them to decide the kind of people they want to be, right?

In the meantime, it's 12:09 pm on Tuesday, we're both in our pajamas still, and haven't had lunch yet, and Andrew is watching TV. See what I'm saying? Other kids have already been to playgroup, the library, and had lunch and are sleeping peacefully in their twin size beds with no pacifier!!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

So Long, Old Friend

I know that many of you, mostly family and those friends on Facebook, have already heard of the passing of the family cat, May. But I felt it fitting so at least give her a little space on the blog, her fifteen minutes of fame, for she'd been in my life since she was 6 weeks old, and has been my faithful, constant companion for the past 4 years.


Two weeks ago Brian was getting ready for work when he heard dogs barking and yelping outside in the driveway. He ran outside, fearing they were chasing May. Indeed, they were, and (to save the gory details) were trying to kill her. Brian immediately ran the dogs off, then ran inside to wake me up.
We found May hiding under the car, in shock, and wounded. I called our local vet to check the recorded message to see if there was an emergency number. There was one, but there was no guarantee anybody would answer. Lo and behold, someone did pick up, and told me that Dr. Wagner happened to be at the vet's office early that morning, and that I should take May to the back door.

I drove about 65 mph down a 35 mph street...don't worry, it was deserted at 6:45 a.m! She took May right in and told me to call in a few hours. May had several wounds, the most severe being her back leg. The doctor informed us that we had two options: one, to amputate her leg, or two, have her go to sleep eternally. I knew that it would be expensive to do the surgery, but I also knew that I could not make the decision to have her put down.

So, after many tears and discussion, Brian and I decided that since May had come so far, had fought so hard to stay alive, that she deserved a chance. We told the vet to go ahead with the procedure, and that we'd work out the bill later.
Andrew and I went up the vet the afternoon before the procedure to visit with May. I felt she could use some cheering up and would love to hear my voice. She talked to me the whole time, but was so sedated she couldn't even open her eyes.
The following morning I called the vet to check on her, and received the news that May had died early that morning. She had gone through the surgery well, but had lost so much blood, and had been through so much trauma. I felt terrible. I felt that I had put her through the pain of surgery just to have her die in the end, anyway. But I was comforted by the fact that one, I gave her a chance, two, I had a chance to see her one last time, and three, she was not in any more pain.

May hanging out in Andrew's bassinet.


We brought her home and buried her in the yard, under a big shade tree that is filled with bird feeders. She's close to the house, and in a nice spot where she can hear the birds.


We're so thankful for the kindness of the entire staff at the vet's office. Everyone was so disappointed to hear that she lost the fight in the end. Today, I had to take Duke, the dog, in for his annual checkup. Dr Wagner made many comments about how sorry she was about May, and that she had a bill ready for us at the front desk.


When I got home, I opened the bill, dreading the amount. Two days of intensive care, medications, surgery, and blood transfusions...what would it cost? The grand total was a few dollars over $1,000. Then, at the bottom, it said "Amount Due: $256.00." Dr Wagner had discounted over $700 from the bill, stating that she hated to even charge us anything, but had to cover the cost of the medication.


May lounging in Andrew's Elmo chair.

Y'all, we love our vet. There's something to say about living in a small town, we all look out for each other and help one another out. That's the way it should be. Even the neighbors now are polishing up their guns in case the wild dogs come back...Who's to say the dogs wouldn't attack a small child? I shudder at the thought.


So, here's a last farewell to my May, the first 'official' member of the family, even before Brian. Love you, girl. See you in the great garden in the Sky!