Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Little Boy and A Broken Leg

Today marks three weeks since we left Akron Children's Hospital after treatment for Gabe's leg. It has been a long and stress-filled three weeks, but it has also been a three weeks that I have learned even more about being a mother and a wife. A three weeks that has put my priorities back where they belong, and has shown me how important it is to spend time at home. I believe through every experience, God reveals to us more of His will for our lives. In short- I have learned a lot.

I have heard this quite a few times, and from many different people over the course of these three weeks.. "Crystal, I don't know how you are doing this..", "Crystal, I bet you are ready to throw this year out the window", or "I hope you can figure out what God is trying to teach you with all of this..". Now, don't get me wrong, all of these comments are completely valid and appropriate given our circumstances. What I can say is, after some thought, I do know how I'm doing it. We have an army of people praying for us (thank you!), and we rely on the promises God has given us that He will not leave us or put more on us than we are able to handle. This year has been, well, interesting. But instead of loathe our misfortunes, I have decided to celebrate our experiences. The truth of it is, while we did have some very unfortunate circumstances come our way, we also had some amazing things happen to us, and received some awesome blessings. Gabe made it through his first year of pre-school (and started his second!) and is learning so much. We were able to take an amazing vacation and we woke up one morning at the ocean and saw the beauty of the mountains that same evening. We saw dolphins and manatees in their natural habitat. Gabe and Jeremy created a great memory when they flew Gabe's kite on the beach. I got to take my first trip alone and experience the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. I met some awesome people (especially those at my "table"), and had a great time keeping Mike in check ;) and convincing him to get Gooey Butter Cake room service! I sang the Doxology a'capella with hundreds of other people and learned how to open my heart even more to the presence of God. Jeremy and I celebrated five years of marriage, and celebrated by doing something on my bucket list- Hillsong! We planted a garden and things actually grew! We canned jam and pickles, and picked blueberries off of a bush. We rode in the summer with the windows down and the radio up, praising God and lifting our voice to bring glory to Him. We put up a pool in our yard and Gabe SO enjoyed it! We are looking forward to a Christmas that Gabe will truly understand what is going on, and is excited for "presents, trees, and snow!" (his own words!).

So, while I do sometimes wish a few things this year would have turned out differently, I wouldn't want to change these awesome blessings at all. Life isn't always easy, but it is always blessed. Even in the difficulty and the hardship, the pain and the grief, the anxiety and the stress, there is always something so much better and brighter than the tough circumstance. Something that God gives us to hang on to until things calm down and the ground feels more stable. Something that allows us to see Him, and focus on Him instead of on our circumstance. So, for this year, for all years, I choose Him. I choose to let Him lead me instead of let my circumstance lead me. 

These last few weeks, I have spent more time at home than I have probably since Gabe was a newborn. If you know me, you know that I am always on the go. It is a part of my life that just kind of ended up being that way. We are always going somewhere or to visit someone. God has used this experience with Gabe to show me how important it is to spend time at home. I have cooked every day, which honestly, has been a joy. I have tried new recipes (thank you Pinterest!), caught up on homework, clipped coupons, and snuggled a LOT with Gabe. That aspect of his recovery really has been such a life lesson, and a true blessing. Of course, there have been some very, very difficult- heart wrenching aspects of it all as well. But again, God has shown to me the importance of something that was truly lacking in our life, and that home really is where the heart is.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

One Day At A Time.

Well, my friends, this week has brought on so many emotions and lessons, grief and hope, moments of gratefulness, and also ones of deep sadness. There are a million words I could say, but not one that I can think of that really says how I feel. I know so many of you are concerned for us, and have been praying for us, and for that we absolutely can not thank you enough. We have received cards and messages of condolences from people we don't even know offering their love and support to our family. We know that our Lord has surrounded us with such loving and caring people so that we can hold onto them, and pull from their love and strength at a time when we need it most. For that, we are so grateful. 

As we went through this week, Jeremy and I learned about a few things that we were never aware of, and I feel like it's important that we share. 
We spent most of the day on Thursday at Aultman Hospital while I was prepped to have a D&C performed. Like most hospital stays, it was a revolving door of nurses and doctors all with the same questions for me. They were extremely nice to me, and all offered their sympathies, and a few even shared their own stories of loss. All the questions seemed pretty routine.. except for one.
"What would you like to do with the remains of your baby after the D&C is done today Crystal?", the nurse asked me. "....Oh..umm..I'm very sorry, I hadn't thought about that...we didn't make arrangements..we didn't talk about this...I didn't know..", I responded. Jeremy and I were beyond overwhelmed by that question. It all happened so quickly that we hadn't even thought about where our baby's resting place would be. 

The nurse went on to tell us about our options. Options we didn't know we had. Options we didn't know we needed to make decisions about. Options that were free to us. Options that made it easier, and made the load lighter. Options that I am so grateful that someone at Aultman stepped up and realized that the babies that leave us too soon deserve to have a special place to be as well. 
Aultman hospital has a program where they will pay for the cremation of the baby, and will give the baby a final resting place at Forest Hill Cemetery on a plot that they have purchased especially for the babies that have left us too soon. They have a ceremony every year to remember these precious little ones, and all the parents (and families) are welcome to attend. All of this, at no cost to the family. While our minds were eased to know that something like this is in place for families that need it, Jeremy and I were able to have our baby cremated at Reed Funeral Home (Reed also does this for free), and we will be able to put our baby at our church cemetery. 

So, why am I telling you this? A few reasons actually. I have to think that many of you are unaware that there are even programs that provide these types of things for families. I hope by sharing, maybe one of you may be able to help someone you know sometime along the way. Also, so many of you have asked what you can do for us. The truth of the matter is that there is really not anything you can do except pray. However, if you feel like you need to do something, Aultman Hospital runs this program that they provide for families just like ours widely based on donations from the community. We were overwhelmed by the option they were able to provide for us in the plot that they have, and really having all of the work already done for us. If you are ever so inclined to donate to this cause, I can tell you that there are so many families just like ours who would be so grateful. 
To make a donation, you can go to:
You can target your donation to: Pregnancy and Infant Loss
Many blessings to you all, we love you so much, and we could not have gotten through this week (or the weeks to come) without you. <3

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

When I started this blog, my intention was to share things about my life that I thought may help others in one way or another. Even though I haven't posted in quite some time, it is always nice to know that there is a place to put down my thoughts. Today, my thoughts are about Mother's and my very short journey in my own motherhood.

As I think about my Mom, I can say that I am more grateful to her as a mother now that I am one myself. I imagine that I am not the only that feels this way. I find myself doing things that she did with Chad and I, saying things that she said to us, and all around just being the kind of Mom that she was and still is. She is a common sense kind of woman that didn't tolerate us being disrespectful or talking back. She dealt with our picky eating (even though Gabe is 100 times more picky then we were!). We made forts out of couch cushions and bed sheets. We danced to Bob Seger on a vinyl record player in the middle of the living room. She cheered us on at ball games and band concerts. She taught us affection and love. She told us that when things are bad, there is always someone out there that has it worse than we do, and we need not complain.

As a Grandma (or "Gram" as she calls herself), she is in the business of spoiling my son. She has not forgotten the times I would stand on a stool and "help" my Grandma with dishes..what really was going on is my Grandma sneaking me Pepsi..regular Pepsi..with REAL sugar..Lol! They say paybacks are a ...well, you know. She does me the courtesy of sneaking Gabe diet soda, and oreos, and hoho's, and pudding, and cheese get the picture. I used to protest, but I have learned to keep my mouth shut...just as she did while my Grandma filled me with sugar behind her back. Good times. :)

Now that I am a Mom, she encourages my decisions. She assures me that it will get better, and that it may even get worse before it gets better. She tells me that I am doing a good job. She lets me know when I did something wrong. She reminds me that making mistakes is par for the course, and everything is not my fault (she knows how hard I can be on myself..). She loves me, and walks me through every step of a road that she has traveled. And for that, I am eternally grateful. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love cookies. I haven't met many that I don't love; and as much as I love eating them, I love baking them even more. Gabe has been hitting one milestone after another, and it occured to me today that he has never really "helped" me bake. He loves to watch, but has never really done it. So I decided I would give it a try today. What fun we had!! He was so excited to help, and even more excited to eat the results! Lol :)

He had a lot of fun dumping the flour and other dry ingredients into the bowl, and turning the KithenAid on and off. When it came time to put in the chocolate chips, he would rather eat them then put them in the dough!

Chocolate Chip Cookies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (I use Land O Lakes)
1/2 cup butter flavored Crisco
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Cream above ingedients together until smooth. (FYI- you can use all butter or all Crisco, or my Mom uses half Crisco and half margarine..whatever you like), then add:
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
 1 tsp baking soda
 Mix together and then add to butter mixture until smooth. Then add in one bag of chocolate chips. Roll into one-inch balls, and bake for 10-12 minutes (I do ten) at 375 degrees. YUMMY!  

A Cheap Meal

I am a sucker for Italian food, who knew?? Lol :) I was lucky enough to work for the Angello's at their family business for the better part of my late teens/early twenties. I learned a TON about food, and came to love just about everything they made. I have no idea how to make homemade ravioli, so I go with the bag stuff. As I started making this I realized what a cheap meal for a family of 4 this is (it makes 4 servings, I know I only have a family of three ;) ), and thought I would share, so the next time you find these things on sale, you can be thrifty and have a cheap delish, easy meal as well! :)

This stuff was on sale at Giant Eagle this past week:
Rosetto Raviloi - $3
Hunt's Pasta Sauce- $1.25
Ground Beef (this was on sale the week before) - $2.99/lb (extra lean)
Total: $7.24 ($1.81 per serving for a family of four)
Brown the ground beef, add the sauce, cook ravs to package directions!

Quick, easy, tasty and point friendly :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Who Doesn't Love a $30 Target Gift Card!?

Many of you know I am a follower of SistersShoppingOnAShoestring. I have had a few wonderful oppotunities over the past year to interact and get to know Sara and Lisa Steigerwald, and they are two amazing ladies! One of the best things about couponing is that you are able to help out more, and donate a boat load of items to people who would usually go without. They encourage couponers to have giving hearts, and to always leave something on the shelf for the person who comes next. If you have not been to one of their classes, I would encourage you to do so! They are so much fun, and you will not believe how much money you could be saving at the grocery store and on health and beauty products.

To celebrate having 3,000 Facebook followers, SistersShoppingOnAShoestring is giving away three $30 Target Gift Cards. To learn more about this giveaway please go to

A New Week..

What a week we had around here last week. It didn't go quite as I planned, but after all, that never seems to happen. I feel that this week can be better, and I am hoping to take what I learned and apply it.

The first week on WW was great, and I followed the plan just as I should have. However, I am finding it hard to maintain the tracking of every bite of food I put in my mouth. I am determined to do better at this week and I know it is very important for success.

Secondly, three words: hydration, hydration, hydration. The more I have thought about it, I have realized that before I started WW, I was drinking at least half of my calories away every day!! Just drinking them! That is just ridiculous, and I have found that the Crystal Light drink mixes are a life saver when I feel that I need something with a little flavor :)

Third, exercise. Last week it was pretty non-exsistent. I did buy Just Dance 2, and what a blast that is! By time I have played with Gabe all day, went grocery shopping, laundry, schoolwork and everything else, exersice does not seem to be a part of the equation. Once again, I know that it is important and really great for my body (and my heart), so tis week I will try harder to get it in.

I bought talapia for dinner tonight, can't wait to see if I can trick Gabe into eating it :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

End of the Week Miracle

We learn so much as we become mothers. I never realized that so much of it is trial and error. Your celebrate their successes, sometimes you cry when they cry, and sometimes you want to laugh when you really should be serious. Through illnesses, fevers, runny noses, hospital stays, rashes, hurt feelings, lost toys, mood swings, tears, laughter, fear and doubt we find a way to raise our children to the best of our ability. Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we feel like we fail. But at the end of the day we are left with two big eyes, a set of chubby cheeks, and more love than you sometimes think can fit in your heart.

As many of you know, Gabe has become quite the picky eater. I know this is going to sound ridiculous but it really did seem to happen over night. He went from eating everything in sight to eating a few fruits, pizza, french fries, yogurt, milk and goldfish. That's it. This has went on for months now, and we have tried every which way we could think of to get him to eat.

It turns out that a little tough love is all that was needed to turn around my toddler. I thought I had done the tough love thing, but apparently I was giving in too soon. I thought 20 minutes was long enough for him to sit in his high chair and sob because he didn't want to eat what was for dinner, but I was wrong. I was starting to think that his defiance and attitude about not wanting to eat would never change, but again I was wrong.

Jeremy saved the day today. My husband is amazing, and proves it to me every day we are on earth together. I made spaghetti, a dish that Gabe used to love, but hasn't touched in months. We had fun with it, and encouraged him to pick it up with his fingers. At first, he wanted nothing to do with it, and even tried to give the plate back. But, Jeremy was persistent that he was going to eat, and gave the plate right back. Usually, Gabe and I go through the plate exchange up to 10 times in one meal. That's his way of saying, "umm..I'm not eating this". Jeremy decided to go back to the old food airplane trick, and Gabe finally took a bite! He quietly chewed, swallowed (which is a HUGE step in itself, before even if we could get it in his mouth, he would spit it out), looked up at me and said "Num Num, Num Num"!! He promptly started SHOVELING the spaghetti in! He ate the whole plate of pasta (and I gave him a rather generous serving).

I cried tears of joy at the dinner table tonight. As I sit and think about these past months, I always try to ask myself not "Why?", but "What?". "What" is God trying to teach from this experience? I think He knows that I needed help in the patience department, and I think He was trying to teach me patience for sure. I also think that He was showing Jeremy and I how strong our marriage is, because there were times when we did not agree with how this should be handled, but we always found a way to compromise and try a different way next time. I also think He was showing me that I must keep trying, even when I don't want to, and I'm tired, and I don't want to fight about food (or whatever it is). At the end of the day, we know what is best for Gabe, and we must keep trying to instill that into him every day.

So tonight, my friends, I didn't stick to my weight watchers plan very well this week, and even though I ate a lot of fruits and veggies, I also ate a lot of chocolate. But that doesn't matter to me tonight. Because tonight, even though in the timeline of Gabe's life him eating a plate of spaghetti is a small step, in the timeline of my life as a mother, this step feels huge.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Love Your Enemies?

I really want this blog to be overall lighthearted. I am a happy person, with more blessings in my life than I can count. But I read something tonight that made my blood bubble.

I really have a problem with people who use a religious platform to spew a message of hate and anger. God is love. He commands us to love one another, even when we don't want to. Jesus shows us time and time again His love for us, and how we should love eachother. I try to keep this in mind every day, I want to love completely.

I will not name this group, but many of you know who I am speaking of. Said "group" decided to protest at the 9- year old's funeral who was shot and killed in Arizona this past week. Why, you ask? Because she was Catholic.

Yes, this group, who claim to be Christians believe that "God poured out His wrath upon" this innocent girl because she is Catholic, and they want the world to know it.

As I read the article further, it seems that this group decided not to protest her funeral because instead, they were offered radio-time at a well known station in exchange for not protesting the funreal. They figure they can reach more ears over the radio waves.

Unreal. I am never ceased to be amazed at this group, as they also protest at military funerals.

As I sit here and think about it, I try very much to maintain a Christian perspective. However, I can say that I believe one of the most difficult things that Jesus tells us to do is to "love our enemies" .

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thank God it's Friday!

As many of you know, Jeremy works a swing shift. It is not the most ideal situation, but we deal with it the best we can. He works seven days in a row, and then had two days off, so his "weekends" usually fall during the week. Today, while it is Tuesday to most of you , it is Friday to us! :)

I am excited that he will have tomorrow off, because with all of the snow that is coming, I am hoping to break out Gabe's new snow suit and snow boots and take him outside for some Kodak moments! Pictures will be posted :)

As we hunker down for the snow that is coming, I feel like soup is in order. I made beef stew for dinner today (Yum!), but I am thinking that Cheeseburger Soup or my Mom was telling she made a really delish Chicken Tortilla soup yesterday. What is your favorite soup on cold winter days?