Sunday, September 30, 2007

The back yard

I'm standing by the back door, looking at the very back of the yard. Okay, this picture MIGHT not look like much, but get some vision people. Before H did the new fence and built the deck I'm standing on, we had a serious white-trash back yard. This is most definitely NOT the finished yard. We're going to plant winter grass and then sod the yard in the spring. There are bags of mulch in the flower beds. H is going to put in some lighting, then we'll do the mulch. This is going to be a dream yard. In the spring, I'm going to get planters that hook over the fence and plant flowers in them. I've also got some neat plans for fence decorations that will help the yard.
I'm standing at the back door looking to the right. The tree on the left hand side of the picture is the same tree that is in the previous picture on the right hand side. Again, we're planting winter grass and will sod in the spring. There is a fountain on the left side of the picture that works, which will be running by the end of the week. Behind that fence is a very busy main road in our community. The lelands (sp?) help provide a natural barrier.

Here are H and M on the deck. The grill is on the deck (M is asking her daddy to "cook, please."). We missed the last of the patio furniture, so I'm going to try to hunt for something that we like. If not, we'll get a few plastic chairs (YIKES!) so we can enjoy the deck for now and we'll buy something we really like in the spring. I can't wait to have my morning tea or a glass of wine outside. I have several beautiful planters for the deck that will really add some nice color and a place for M to learn a little science. She helped me plant mums tonight. She's such a good little helper.

Recent graduate

Here we are!! The very happy graduate and her PRECIOUS daughter and handsome husband. Wow...what a day! M was so cute...she didn't quite understand why she couldn't sit with me during the ceremony, but she was so well behaved. She loved eating the celebration cake and running around the auditorium. She's really grown up with this cohort--she was 2 months old when I started and she'll be two years old in 12 days.

Okay, this isn't the most flattering photo, but it sure does show our personalities. I'm on the far left, our favorite professor is in the middle (she opened and closed the cohort), Andi is next to the professor, and Ana is on the far right. The smiles in this picture are worth a thousand words...we shared tears, happy times, brain surgeries, miscarriages, an upcoming birth, teenage traumas, toddler traumas, marriage difficulties. You name it, we've shared it. But in the end, these girls are two of my best friends and I wouldn't trade a minute of our time together for anything else in this world. Thank you, dear friends. I love you so much.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sunday, September 30th

Two very important things today (well, Sunday):

1.) I'm GRADUATING! YAHOO!!!!! Only a few loose ends (yeah, like finishing that darn thesis) and I'll be a mastered woman. Wow...22 months have blown by, crept by, and are now gone forever.
A few thanks:
Thank you, sweet H, for taking care of M all by yourself once a month for the past two years. We didn't know what we were getting into when I started this program, but it's been SO worth it. You and M have had some great times together that you wouldn't have had if I'd been here to boss you around and tell you how to do everything perfectly (because I know how, you know!).
Thank you, Mom and Dad (Nona and OB, Mr. and Mrs. Maidenname), for coming up when we really needed you to help us with M. She sure does adore her grandmother and grandfather...just like H and I do.
Thank you, Andi and Ana. How could we have done this without each other??? Just let me piggyback by saying how much you mean to me.

2.) It's my friend Susie's birthday today! Happy, Happy Birthday, Susie. I wouldn't have made it through last week as well as I did if you hadn't encouraged me to leave the house and spend time with you and your precious children. I love those little babies so much and I'm so glad M is growing up with her Wowa and Maddie (and that he calls her Mon-et!).

Oh,'re going to drool over the pictures of our new and improved back yard when I post them. Go ahead and get some tissue to keep by the computer. You'll never know when I'm going to post them.

And yes, things are getting better each day. I do have some apprehension about school Monday, but I'm emotionally ready now. Thank you so much for your prayers and support last week. We might not have ever met, but you mean so much to me.

Now I have to rest so I'll be ready to GRADUATE tomorrow!

Thursday, September 27, 2007


was good.

A good day.

Thank you, Lord, for sun in the midst of darkness. For emotion when I want nothingness. For a sweet, sweet husband.

And for a finished deck. (pictures to come)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What are we up to?

Yesterday we left the house for a while to play at a local park. Today we didn't leave the house until time for gymnastics. In fact, M spent most of the day in her pj's.
So, you're wondering...what's the picture? Well, I bought that sweet little DRESS at the consignment sale. It was monogrammed with another little girl's name and when I was taking out the monogram, I slit the dress. So today, I hemmed it and made those super cute pants to coordinate. The best part is those pants will also go with another little top I have planned for the fall wardrobe.
Please continue to pray for us. There are good moments, but there are also times of a lot of darkness. The busier I am, the less time I have to think, but I don't always want to be busy. Sometimes, I just want to sit and think and feel. I'm so thankful that my coworkers and principal saw the need for a whole week off. I'm not ready to go back to work yet. I'm so thankful that I have M. H is extremely supportive and working through this in his own way: building us a deck and a new fence.

Monday, September 24, 2007


On the first day of autumn, we opened a package of sidewalk chalk. It's okay that we're a whole season behind on some childhood rites of passage!
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

The whole ugly story

I'm writing this for myself. Read it if you want to know the details. This is my therapy. If you don't want to read, go away. (How was that for emotional nastiness?)

I spotted Wednesday morning--as in a tiny bit of pink on the tissue. I thought nothing of it, but mentioned it to H.
I spotted Thursday evening. Same exact situation.
I spotted Friday morning. Maybe some cramping, maybe not. Wasn't sure. I tried to lie to H, but he could see right through me. "Call the doctor," he said. "Sure," I responded. I didn't call. I took pictures of every single second graders in front of the pumpkin display at school. Since I had someone in my room, I decided to use the restroom real quick. Blood in my panties. Red blood on the tissue. I got the shakes. I went immediately to the phone to call the doctor.
"Can you come now? Are you at school?" The nurse asked. I didn't even think of the 18 students in my room. "Yes...I'm coming now."
"Honey, I need you to meet me at the doctor's office." He said he'd see me there. No questions were asked.
Someone from school drove me to the doctor. H was there within minutes.
We had an ultrasound.
"We want to confirm the due date is April 16th," H said.
"I just want to know there is a heartbeat." I said.
Silence. More clicking.
"There is no heartbeat," the technician said as she held my hand. The air left the room.
H and I just held hands. We didn't know what to say.
The doctor came in, explained a few things (I was 10 weeks, but sweet Butterbean was measuring only 8 weeks). He was extremely compassionate. We decided to wait until Monday to do the D&C because he wasn't the doctor on call this weekend and I'd had breakfast, so the surgery was going to have to be late, late in the afternoon or in the evening.
I went for all my pre-op. Sitting at the reception desk was the mother of one of my former students. I fell apart. She just said, "no, no, no." We'd just spoken to each other that morning about how we both hoped this one was a boy. H had to make a phone call, the mother came over and hugged me.
My pre-op nurse and I talked about our favorite hymns while she did her thing.
I used the restroom. More blood.
Back to the doctor's office.
Rearrange everything.
D&C scheduled immediately.
Back to the surgery center. Pre-op nurse sees me waiting again. Says she's been praying for us because she didn't want us to have to wait the whole weekend.
New nurse listening to a gospel radio station. We talk about what church we go to. She's patient and kind and so very helpful.
One doctor comes and talks with us. She'll give me something for my headache, pain, and any nausea that might occur.
My doctor comes in and walks beside me as I head to the OR.
He helps me on the table and introduces everyone in the room to me.
I go to sleep and wake up less than an hour later, everything is done.

Two days later, I'm exhausted, sometimes tearful. Doing better with each day, but still unwilling to face anyone. I just want to be home with M and H until we can absorb this change in our lives.


In the middle of this place that is gray, there is absolute and complete joy in M.

She is our little Inspector Gadget ( ). As is typical for most toddler, she accompanies me EVERYWHERE. When I was using the bathroom yesterday, she wanted to wash her hands. I emphatically told her "No! Not right now." She disappeared from the bathroom, to pout, I thought, but oh, no. She returns with her little blue chair from her table. She climbs up into the chair and asks to wash her hands again. I told her no again, although not quite as emphatically. She shimmied her skinny little body up the cabinet just fair enough to reach the cold water handle and TURNED THE WATER ON HERSELF. She proceeded to wash her hands.

H is working in the backyard, building a deck and putting up a new fence for us. He rented this horribly loud jackhammer. M was scared at first, but we watched him outside for a while so she would know where the noise was coming from. Now we watch him from the window. While I was preparing lunch today, M lost sight of her beloved Daddy. The next thing I knew, she'd run to get her blue chair, pulled it through the house, and put it on the couch. Luckily, I caught her just as she was getting ready to sit in the chair AND FALL OFF THE COUCH! Then she piled a bunch of pillows on top of each other so she could see her Daddy.

We've had lots of special time this weekend.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


No responses, please. I wish I knew how to turn the response option off for the next few posts. I need a place to work through this.

I named the baby. Paige for a girl, Christopher for a boy.
I had already designed baby announcements.
I had photo-ops planned.
I planned how M and the baby were going to share a room.
I'd asked every nursing mom I know to help me nurse the baby.
I'd started asking around about part-time jobs just in case I couldn't stay home.

I love the baby.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Even sadder day

I've been spotting, very lightly, for a few days. Today, the bleeding increased and I went to the doctor immediately. I'm very, very sad to say we lost Baby Butterbean.

PLEASE, please, please DO NOT reply to this post. I don't think I'm emotionally ready to read any responses. I would certainly appreciate all prayers and thoughts, though.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Freedom, of a different kind

I normally feed M dinner before H gets home from work. The most delightful part of that? M and I have the FREEDOM* to eat whatever we want! Tonight we had sliced apples and peanut butter (for me) and chips (at M's request...who could turn down that sweet peanut buttery kissy face????). M usually loves apples, but tonight all she wanted was the peanut butter. She licked it off all her potato chips, her fingers, and finally the plate. Then she looked at me and said, "Kiss, Mommy!"
No, thanks, sweet girl. I'll wait until after your bath.

*I wanted something very Americana for the theme of Freedom. We are so very, very thankful to the men and women who are fighting for our freedom today. Thank you to the families who support their husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, and children as they fight for our country and the safety of countries around the world.

**For other Freedom Themes, visit

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sad day

We had to put down both our cats today. They had good lives with us. We all will miss them.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My Best Shot Monday

There is nothing artistic about this image at all. As much as I aspire to be a great photographer, sometimes you just go with what you've got.

This is the face I get when I ask for a smile. I'm working on getting some "natural" pictures when she doesn't pose, but no luck. I didn't take many (actually, ANY) photos this week. This is from last week.

For some truly fantastic photos, click:

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List of Thanks

I'm thankful for:

1.) A doctor who gave us some medicine to "dry M up" that doesn't have the same active ingredient as Benadryl (even though I didn't think to ask about that.)
2.) A pediatrician who works on Sundays and just happened to be there when we went to Pediatrics Afterhours.
3.) A little girl who doesn't let being under the weather keep her down.
4.) A husband who loves to work in the yard and leaves me alone when I declare "Today is all about me!"
5.) A boss who doesn't give me too much smack when I need to take the day off work.
6.) An extra day to have more "me" time, especially because it means more snuggles with my favorite girl.
7.) Two of the cutest kids in the world in Sunday School and a co-teacher who is a dear friend.
8.) Great substitute teachers.
9.) A husband who is building a deck and putting up a new fence in time for his daughter's birthday.
10.) Tylenol--for mommies and their sick little girls.

No sewing today

M is sick. We went to church. Then we went to lunch. Then we TRIED to take a nap. Then we went to the doctor. Nothing serious, but it does require a day off work for Mommy. M and I will spend tomorrow snuggling and relaxing, and maybe doing a little sewing!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It's all about me

This weekend, life is all about me. Yep, me. M watched lots of TV this morning. Well, she doesn't actually WATCH TV, but I did leave lots of cartoons on instead of turning the TV off. She would watch for a few minutes, chat with me, play with her toys, watch TV, etc.

I don't really have a good reason to declare this Natalie's weekend other than I just decided that's the way I want it. My goals this weekend are to:
1.) Finish M's b'day invitations. (Check! See pics below! They turned out AWESOME!)
2.) Sew, sew, sew
M's b'day outfit
M's UGA outfit to wear when she and daddy watch the dawgs play
One more pair of pants for M for the fall

So, M spent lots of time coloring beside me today. You know the saying, "Many hands make light work?" Yeah, not so much at the Benson dining room table today. Many hands meant more work for Momma.

But we had so much fun together.

Tomorrow might involve more TV cartoons, more coloring, but LOTS of sewing for Mommy. And several cute outfits for M. I'll post pictures tomorrow.

I hope you're having as great a weekend as we are.

New Specs

I did it. Last weekend, I finally had an eye exam--the first in three years. Luckily, my eyesighte hasn't changed much at all. But I was rewarded with these cool new specs!!! I've always wanted black frames. This time I wasn't afraid to get them. Not to mention, the young girl helping me completely encouraged me to go for it. I love my new glasses!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Brain Surgery

After waiting more than 24 hours, my friend's husband finally had his surgery late this afternoon. The doctor is hesitant to diagnose because this tissue seems much more aggressive than the previous tumor. My friends must wait for pathology to complete their study of the tissue before they know what they are dealing with.

Brain surgery is tough stuff.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

And the worst mother award goes to...


Yep, that's right. I'm more than worthy of the award for the worst mother in the whole Before I proceed, let me make it clear that I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm REALLY not. Maybe another mom story, but no sympathy, please.

I completely traumatized my daughter this afternoon. We had a delightful time picking out some goodies at a local bakery. We hurried home to eat a grilled cheese before gymnastics class. H and I are eating homemade soup tonight, so I put the starter on the stove top to warm up before M and I left for class. I thought (okay, so thinking might be the problem in this story) that if I put it on high, I could get the water warm enough to continue to cook the vegetables while we were gone--I wanted to be able to turn the stove off when we left.

So, M and I are eating and giggling together. Smarty pants that she is, she kept looking into the kitchen and saying, "Mer--kitty." I SHOULD have looked to see what she was talking about. After about the fifth "mer-kitty," I turned, only to see the ENTIRE kitchen filled with smoke and the soup pot COMPLETELY covered in black soot. There weren't any flames--yet.

About 2 seconds after I jumped up from the table, the fire alarm went off. M jumped out of her chair and raced to me, where she wrapped her arms around me for dear life. She was shaking like a little leaf and sobbing into my legs. I picked her up to comfort her. She kept telling me "Youd, Mommy....very youd." (loud) Luckily for us, the downstairs smoke alarm ran out of batteries after about 3 times of screeching and hollering at us. Too bad I then had to carry her upstairs (she wouldn't let me put her down), climb onto the step stool, hold down the reset button--all the while holding M and she screamed "youd, mommy!" in my ear.

We called Nona on the way to gymnastics. Nona can attest to the fact that M was still saying "Youd, mommy. Youd."

Way to go,'re a superstar.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

MBS Monday

Ready to run.
Don't let that water get you.
Laughing. Giggling.
Running as fast as those toddler legs can run.
Again and again and again.

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Wonderful, restful weekend

It feels amazing to type those two words together...wonderful, restful.

This was a weekend of mending. Mending a tired body. Mending a sometimes fragile relationship between a mother and her toddler. Mending an on-the-go marriage.

M and I spent the ENTIRE weekend doing what girls do: eating and shopping. We went to a little surprise breakfast for my friend A (husband having brain surgery...that friend), whose b'day is today. Then we drove around for a while and visited with another friend, where M and her son discovered the fun of throwing wet sand at our car! Then I went to get new glasses. H did meet me there and take M home so I could have a few minutes of quiet to pick out new spectacles. M and I rested Saturday afternoon, then we headed to the fabric store for quite a shopping extravaganza. Be on the lookout for some fun new creations!!!

Today we went to church. I've agreed to teach the 2 year old Sunday school class. M was the only pupil today, so we had a glorious time playing and reading to each other. She's learning her catechisms so easily. It's amazing how pliable a little brain is! Then we had lunch at...WAFFLE HOUSE! Who knew a pecan waffle would taste so delicious!!!! We did laundry and puzzles this afternoon.

I'm not ready for the bliss of this weekend to be over yet. Can't someone rewind the clock so I can have just ONE more day?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

If the shoe fits...

I was drying my hair this morning when I heard "clunk" pause "clunk" pause "clunk" pause. For the life of me, I couldn't identify that sound. I looked down and laughed until I cried. M found ONE of my ONE pair of heels and was clunking around upstairs in them.

"Shoe, Mommy!"

Yes, angel darling...I've passed along the curse of only being able to find one of the damn pair of shoes when you need them!

(Please excuse my strong language.)

Friday, September 7, 2007


When you have a friend who is facing one of the scariest times in her life, it's hard to find joy in your own needs or desires or ideas. I've only felt this way one other time...when my best friend birthed her second beautiful son and he was in the NICU for almost a week. Now, in the moments when my dear friend is facing her husband's second brain surgery in less than one year, I find my heart aching for her....yet, I still want to brag about M and how wonderfully terrifying it is to mother a toddler. I thought about this post long and would my friend A feel to read the blog and see that I've asked for prayer for her family, and within 24 hours, I brag about M?

Then it hit me. This is my friend A. If I called her on the telephone, she would want to know about MY day, MY daughter, MY life. That's how my friend A is...she's amazing.

So, in honor of A and all the emotional and physical upheaval in her life, here are some M stories from this evening:

1.) As soon as we walk in the door, M insists it is time to eat. Insists is a mild word. Demands. Expects. Throw-down. Far more appropriate terms. She climbs into her seat at the table and doesn't get down until she's satisfied. Sometimes all she needs is one little cracker. Other times, she needs an eight course meal. Tonight, milk, cheese, and a tiny bit of cereal served as dinner. When the pizza arrived, she only wanted a nibble. Although she did eat two pieces of pepperoni.

2.) H's worst fear is that M will topple over the foot of our sleigh bed. This evening, his worst fear came true. In all my mothering glory, I was checking my e-mail--yeah, yeah, yeah, keep those comments to yourself--and M was seated firmly in the middle of my bed reading a book. The next thing I know, I hear the dreaded sound of her falling over the foot of our bed. There were shrieks, sobbing, and then she was fine and climbed right back on the bed to finish her book. When we were eating pizza, she said, "Mommy bed huut (hurt)."

3.) After M's bath, I was putting on her diaper. She ate some of my bubble bath (Another great mothering moment. I'm pregnant. Had to use the bathroom myself. You know, because of the running water. She got her hot little hands on my bubble bath before I could swipe the bottle away from her.) during her bath and has been doing some pretty good gagging since then. So, I was putting on her diaper when she started that gagging stuff. I sat her up fairly quickly in case she actually did vomit. I guess that quick movement caused her eyes to roam to the far corner of her room where her hat stand is. She said, "Hat, Mommy!" I agreed, reminding her that she hates hats. Well, that little smarty pants started naming the colors of the hats. "Orange, Mommy!" "Blue, Mommy!" "Green, Mommy!" "Yellow, Mommy!" Wow...that's all I can say. Wow.

I miss M during the day and hate having to take her to school, but I am SO, SO, SO thankful that she's in such a great place. She learns so much there (Sorry, Dico that one thing she's learning is how to aggrevate you!) and gets so excited when we pull on the street. That makes it immensely easier to leave her each day.

So...a few M stories in honor of Andi. Andi, you are an amazing friend. You've enriched my life so much. I don't know how I would have survived Lesley without you. I'll see you Monday evening after the surgery and Tuesday with a big pot of soup for you, your girl, and your parents.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Unsettling News

I have a dear, dear friend (remember the sweet coffee mug?) whose husband has just been diagnosed with a second brain tumor in 9 months. He had the first removed just before Christmas last year and is having another brain surgery Monday.

Please pray for the family.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Big Girl

We're visiting my parents right now, but I had to blog about this.

M tee-teed on the big girl potty today!! YAHOO!!! For a while now, M has shown an interest in sitting on the potty. Nothing ever happens, but she'll sit there for a few minutes.

This morning, I was running her bath water. I took off her diaper and sat her on the potty. Then the unimaginable happened. My sweet baby girl DID THE DEED ON THE POTTY. My parents, H, and I were all cheering for her, so she DID IT AGAIN. And laughed. She was so proud of herself. And we're so proud of her. My parents took pictures. As much as I want to post them, I'll keep them for myself.

Have a great Labor Day weekend!