It’s a new year and a “new” me

I think I tripped and fell into this year and I’m still struggling to get up. It has been the weirdest transition for me. Normally, I am all about setting up goals for the coming year and am so excited to have a fresh start. But this year, I was not ready for it. I had no time to think about anything. I woke up and it was a new year.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still excited about it being a new year but frankly, I am still trying to process last year.

For me last year had many highlights, but it came with a lot of health issues and some major healing. It’s was probably the hardest year of my life but the year that has given me the most freedom. The hardest times produce some major growth, right? In a nut shell, taking soy, dairy, corn and gluten out of my diet made me feel better than I ever had in my entire life. My hands didn’t swell or ache, my feet didn’t cramp, my skin cleared up and wasn’t itchy. I could actually think clearly and had energy to make it through the day. I could tolerate the sound of my children’s voices and not have crazy outburst of anger. All of these are reasons for me to stay away from my food intolerance until my body heals. I would workout and sweat a bunch and feel amazing, so I also need to find out why my body was so stressed.  I couldn’t figure it out. Nothing in my life had changed and I felt like I had a good grasp on our day to day life. One of the major blessings of the year was that the kids were stable. I realized that that was “the problem”, like having stable kids should be a problem! It was like being in the eye of the storm,  I was inside the calm and could see the chaos around me.

In late October, one of my friends had a baby and he was in the PICU, I was actually able to visit him without feeling overwhelmed. I felt useful in the situation because I could understand what my friend was going through. Thankfully, he was healed and released quickly. But then it set in their baby was well and mine were not. Most likely they would not get better, but actually it was going to possibly get worse. It made me feel very lonely because I could relate to my friend but I had no one that could relate to me. It made me wish that I had not given away my copy of  Hearing Jesus Speaking into Your Sorrow. Shortly after these thoughts, by now it was November, I had a dream about Bentley not surviving his kidney transplant and what my life was like after him. I woke up very upset but didn’t know what to do with such a dream.  A few days after the dream, during a book study with some of the fabulous (I sincerely mean that) women in our church, we were talking about how Jesus wept for the injustice of sin and sickness. Then it dawned on me. I had never once cried about the kids diagnosis.  There was so much to do and get done that I didn’t think about processing it. I trusted God with the situation and so I felt that there was no reason to cry. Well, after 4 years of carrying all that internally my body was breaking. It couldn’t handle it anymore. Let’s just say I had to compose myself for the rest of that book study and lost it a couple days after. I cried on and off for a good week and then I felt like a brand new person. I literally felt 20 lbs lighter! I have never felt angry or questioned, anxious at times because of the waiting, but trusted that this is best for our family and that is God’s amazing grace on me.

Since this healing, I have had two dreams about Bentley having his transplants. One I am laying in the hospital bed with him reading and the other I was doing yoga in the room for him (funny, huh?) But I realize that these dreams, are so kind of God. I don’t see the dream when he doesn’t survive as a nightmare but rather as God coming along side of me and saying, “We can do this, it’s going to be okay.” And I believe that it’s true because no matter the outcome God is still God. He is good and he is loving. I cherish these dreams because they have seriously caused me not to be fearful of the transplants when they come.

So, with all that going on right before the bubonic plague the kids and I had at Thanksgiving, then hustle and bustle of Christmas, it is no wonder that I have not had time to focus on the new year. I am still recovering from the last one. I really have one goal for 2014 and it is to relish life. I want to enjoy every moment. I want more out of life; more fun, more memories, more living, more flossing, more crafting, more painting, more French studies, more friendships, more yoga, more reading, more love, more God. I cannot wait to see what this year has in store for us! As always, thanks for reading!!

xo, nikki :)

The Year of the Snake

Sunday was Chinese New Year! Did you celebrate? Growing up my family would always try to celebrate it but somehow we would miss it.

I wanted to hang up decorations and the like but since we had Bentley’s party the day before it wasn’t possible. We didn’t get to watch Kung Fu Panda either. But we did have was a Kung Fu Panda dinner.

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We ate:

Po’s Secret Ingredient Soup (Clear Soup)

Crane’s Egg Rolls (Shrimp Egg Rolls)

Master Shifu’s Dumplings (Pork Dumplings)

Tigress’ Universe Carrots (Raw Carrots)

Mantis and Viper’s Chicken Fried Rice (A “kitchen sink” recipe using leftovers from the fridge)

Monkey’s Secret Stash of Almond Cookies (I added some almond meal to enhance the almond flavor)

The kids quote this part of the movie like crazy!

Don’t tell Monkey! Source: google image search

The Fried Rice and the Almond Cookies were homemade, while the other foods were store bought! There was just not enough time to make it all!! The kids’ favorites were the clear soup, dumplings and cookies… I’m sure you could have guess the last one ;)

xo, nikki :)

Leap Day!

Wednesday is cleaning day, and I didn’t give much thought to celebrating Leap Day. Since we didn’t get to celebrate Valentine’s Day, due to the stomach bug, I wanted to do something special for the family! Marseille still isn’t feeling better so I thought it would be best to keep it pretty low-key. I decided to do a “Valentine’s Dinner” and being that it is the tradition for the women to propose to the men on Leap Day, I wanted to do that too! So, for dinner I made filet minon wrapped with bacon, vegetable lasagna, and salad. We all sat down for dinner and I popped the question.

Nikki: Okay, Danny, quick I’m going to ask you a question and you’d better know the answer! ( He always poses questions like this!)

Danny: Uh-oh.

Nikki: Will you marry me?

Danny: What?!

We talked about the tradition and he told me to reword the question to again :)

Nikki: Will you marry me again?

Danny: Yes

The kids had no clue what was going on, but we thought it was funny how fast Marseille downed the filet minon!

Filet minon wrapped with bacon-- Danny said it was cooked perfect!
Eggplant and Squash with Pesto Lasagna
Salad with heart shaped carrots.

We had a great dinner and I’m excited about bumping up Leap Year next time around! Hope you had a fun day too!

xo, nikki

Bentley is FOUR!

At 6:20pm on Feburary 4, 2008, Bentley Warren was born. This Saturday, our little Bentley had his fourth birthday. It’s hard to believe that he is already four. The past four years have changed our lives in every possible way! We are extremely grateful for the four years that God has blessed us with, and that Bentley is still here with us. I can honestly say that I don’t think that I would be as grateful as I am if our circumstances were different. But that is not the focus of this post!!

For the full week prior to his birthday, we were counting down the days. Bentley was having “fishy treatments” and to pass the time during the treatments, his stuffed animals were planning his party. Mickey was bringing the balloons, Simba was bringing the super secret surprise, the dog was bringing the pizza, Nala was bringing the cookies, Nickleby was bringing the games, and Rocket was providing the music. Secretly, I was using the stuffed animals to help me plan what Bentley wanted for his birthday, which was a Cars party… and frankly that was no secret.

To start the day, I made blueberry pancakes. It was cold and rainy, so we couldn’t go outside. We decided to Toys R Us and let Bentley pick out a couple Matchbox Cars. Apparently, we weren’t the only family in the store letting the our birthday child pick out some toys! After Toys R Us, we ate at Cook Out. Bentley’s favorite place to eat. He ate TWO corn dogs! Yes, TWO! By the time we got home it was time for naps. The kids did their best to take a nap, but they were really excited about the rest of the day.

Here is the Radiator Springs’ menu for Bentley’s party:

Filmore’s Organic Fuel – Apple Juice

Sally’s Cozy Cones – Bugles

Lugi’s Casa de la Pizza – Personal size pepperoni pizza

Lightening and Mater’s Best Buds’ Broccoli

Flo’s V-8 Ice Cream Sandwiches – Cars 2 Shaped Sugar Cookies with Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream

After eating dinner, we let Bentley hunt for his presents. One present was hidden in each room of the house with a Cars 2 location poster. We went to Paris, London, Toyko, and Porta Costa. He had a lot of fun.

I made racing bean bags and a tire for some games, but we ran out of time before we could play them.

We all had a great time celebrating our little buddy’s birthday. I had been telling him that I was sad that he was getting older because pretty soon he wouldn’t want me to hold him anymore. As soon as he woke up the next morning he told me, “Mom, I am older and you can’t hold me now!”  Ha HA!

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Well, Bentley we love you soooooo much and we are so happy to be your parents. We are so grateful that we have had you for four years and we pray to have many more with you. You are a blessing to us, we love your big cheesy ways! Hugs and big fat wet kisses on your birthday!

Overall, Bentley would say that he had a good birthday, so I guess our little party was a success. He keeps asking when it will be Marseille’s birthday.

xo, nikki :)

ps- After singing to Bentley a couple times, Marseille was sitting on the chair singing, “Happy Birthday to ME, Happy Birthday to ME!” We were laughing and told her that it wasn’t her birthday yet, so she stopped and instead sang, “Happy Birthday to GOD, Happy Birthday to GOD, heeeheee!” That girl, is too quick for her own good!!

Happy New Year!

I’m so excited that it’s a new year. There is just something so refreshing about a new year! I get the organizational bug for Christmas, and I spend that whole week planning and cleaning for the next year. Books, I want to read, weight I want to lose, projects I want to finish, things I want to do with kids during the day, people I want to get together with. You name it, and I’m sure it’s on a list somewhere!

We didn’t really have any plans for NYE. Danny watched a movie, and I read The Help. It’s a good thing that I don’t read fiction novels very much because I get too into them. I don’t want to do anything but read! Not really helpful for family life!  I received both the book and the movie for Christmas and I told Danny that I wouldn’t watch the movie until I read the book. I’m funny like that! So, tonight we will watch the movie, because I finished the book (in three evenings and a nap time!). I’m actually kind of sad that I finished it, again, I get way to attached to books.

Anyway, sorry for the rabbit trail. I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year!!

xo, nikki ;)

"Happy New Year!" from Bentley and Marseille
Who could resist giving these sweet little feet a tickle?!

L-O-V-E Celebration :)

Often we treat our guests better than our family. Establishing the habit of treating our family as we would guest will assist us in communicating our love to our family. Extending hospitality to our family allows them to reap the same blessings our guests receive in our home. Also, we are modeling for our children how to honor guests– they learn from our example. Treating our family as guests also reinforces the concept of family first. – Practicing Hospitality

I’m currently in the process of reading Practicing Hospitality and loved the chapter on practicing hospitality to your family :) So, for Valentine’s Day, I wanted to make all of them feel special and loved! I always have so much fun making things for all of them. It was a good excuse to use cute paper and glue sticks!
Breakfast: Heart shaped eggs and toast

She loves kisses!!
Abbi made Bentley this cute bow-tie!
We brought these cards to the NICU that Bentley was in and sent some to another NICU.

Lunch: Heart-shaped pb & strawberry jelly
Kids’ dinner: Heart-shaped calzones — they ate by candle light… they love that!
Homemade cinnamon sugar soft pretzels.
Our dinner: steak, potatoes, homemade pretzel garlic knots, She Crab Soup with a heart shaped bread/ cracker, and salad — it was too much food!! It was sooo good :)
Our room :)
I love to decorate the mantle… it’s the only thing it’s really good for!
XxOoOOOx — Our Nacho inspired banner of love!
The large hearts had our names on them :)
Our Valentine Cards
I hope my family felt L-O-V-E-D!!!