Thursday, May 29, 2008

News this week...

  • Emily's riding a and furiously!

  • Nate got a haircut and looks like a big boy

  • no lookers at our house yet...keeping it straight for any potential looker is definitely a challenge

  • got a hankering to go to Tennessee, homesickness creeps in occasionally...gotta make a plan, especially with these gas prices, it will wipe out the savings!

  • barn wrens are back...those birds are trying to build another nest on the front porch "rock". The babies had flown the nest, so I knocked it down and cleaned up the mess...thinking they were done. Who knew?

  • All of next school year's Homeschool curriculum should begin arriving any day now, I'm so excited! We'll start latin!

  • Joe's been on a business trip to the Damascus, VA facility

  • Kayla's getting promoted from the eighth grade to HIGH SCHOOL

  • all kinds of stuff going on this weekend

  • Sunday will be our friends, the Holland's, last time attending church as North Carolina residents...

  • Keep being drawn back to Albemarle in our search for a "new" home

  • I think the kids are finally done throwing up after three weeks of whatever this GI bug was they had

  • Joe was having dinner at the Firehouse Barbecue Restaurant in Johnson City Tennessee w/Buddy, Beth & Sam tonight...I'm jealous and really thinking I need a trip home for some good ole' East Tennessee hickory smoked BBQ...did I say that already?

  • goodnight for now...from a toddler, a 7-year old and one tired lady in a queen sized bed...sleeping all together is sweet sometimes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


It is a melancholy day...don't think I really want to list all the reasons why. Ran errands this morning and on the way to the post office...was listening to Casting Crowns "As Far as the East is from the West" and just starting crying. There's a few reasons to cry these days, and it's NOT least not today.
Emily asked "what's the singer mean when he says, I'm one mistake away from you leaving me this way?" So, in the minivan, driving 55 miles--make that 35, (oops, we were in the speed trap in Whispering Pines) miles per hour...I shared with her why some days we just feel the weight of our sins no matter if they are forgiven or not, the weight of God's disappointment with us, days when it's so hard to believe He doesn't see our sins anymore when we can remember so vividly...the thought that one more sin will be the straw that breaks the camels back and He will want no more to do with us...even when all this thinking is not what the Bible tells us. We talked a little about how I'm disappointed when she disobeys...I asked her if sometimes when I'm really angry with her for disobeying if she ever wonders just for a minute if I really love her...she understood...and nodded. I asked her if she understands that sometimes when we disobey God, we have a hard time talking to Him. So, we let things build up...and we start to avoid Him, cause we know he's going to remind us of our sin. She piped up and said, "yeah, cause we're scared of getting punishment..." I said, "Yeah, cause we're scared of getting punished" As I often do, I continued to expound until her eyes glazed over and her tongue was flaccid....Theology 101 lesson checked off for the day.
When we got home someone was arriving from the moving company to do a survey of all our worldly possessions to see how many days it would take them to pack us up and move us away. Sad.
Nate napped and we did more school work...only two more weeks and this, the first year of the Arnold's homeschooling is officially complete.
I then spent hours on the computer figuring out curriculum for next year...well, at least considering curriculum for next year. I think I'm going with Sonlight...99.9% sure.
Now, I have a sleeping girl in bed with me...all warm and toasty with Pappaw's teddy bear tucked under her body where she rolled on him in her sleep. Her wild hair stuck to her pink rosy cheeks...she's sleeping with her new lady-bug-old-fashioned-non-digital-watch on, so proud that she can tell time all the way to the minute hand these days. She's so peaceful, so angelic...
Better sleep, the other one will be climbing in soon...saying "nunnie you" (snuggle you)...

Monday, May 19, 2008


There's one in my front yard...

there's one in the yard behind us, down the street from us, around the corner from us...
there's two in yards across town whose occupants are actively packing...
one I know of now says "sold"...another nearby says "under contract".

Houses are for sale everywhere it seems... hours of feverish painting, refreshing, cleaning, pressure washing, updating, and de-cluttering have been accomplished. Staging and How to sell your house websites have been consulted along with watching numerous episodes of "Designed to Sell" type shows on HGTV. There were definitely some times recently I felt like I was in a HGTV episode. We've successfully removed any personal items and rearranged furniture so it looks more spacious. We have it ready for the buyers to be able to visualize their stuff in this space. One friend said, "It looks like a motel, I want to come stay" Mission accomplished.
For ten years we have made this house our home (you're supposed to start calling it a house when you're selling to cut the emotional ties...).
Would it surprise you to know that I've hated this house...deep inside where I didn't even want to admit it...I didn't like our house. I didn't even like it when we toured it the very first time...the avocado green stove, the 1978 wallpaper, the avocado green carpet, the dated light's difficult for me visualize potential...and anyway, we were probably only going to be here for 3-5 years and -it was a solidly built house, had a nice lot, and had a 24x28 wired and plumbed workshop...Joe loved the workshop and nothing else (all 262 homes I looked at) felt like the right one. Since then I've hated all the work we needed to do and hadn't...hated that it reminded me of failure to follow through on plans. All the detailed lists of never ending jobs we couldn't seem to make any progress toward getting done...
and yet, at the very same time, I've loved this home.

I've loved that this home was nicer than anywhere I'd even dreamed of living while growing up poor in rural East Tennessee. I've loved that I became a mommy here...learned a little about being a better wife...grew closer to my God...experienced a spiritual desert and came through to the lush mountain side. I have so many memories...and I really don't like change (but growth without change and conflict are impossible...a lesson learned, at least until the next time).

The memories held in this home are priceless. We settled into our married life here. We advanced our careers, Joe got a Master's Degree and his PE license-I became a nurse manager. Then we grew our family here. Grandma recuperated from heart surgery in this home. Buddy and Beth grieved and began healing after an unborn baby went unexpectedly to heaven. Friends and family have visited...laughed with us and loved us. This home has been a refuge from the chaos of life.

We announced the news of our first pregnancy, our second and our third. We experienced grief: a sister-in-law to cancer, an aunt also to cancer, an unborn baby of our own, a nephew born with Downs syndrome, a grandfather...we experienced struggles...for a season we parented a hurting nephew. We listened to...loved and prayed with hurting friends whose broken hearts and struggles brought them to their knees and our door...and we in return were listened to, loved and prayed for by those who reached out to us in the midst of our own struggles...our own pain and hurt.

But the joys...didn't they outnumber? We brought both our children from the hospital, to this house, their first home. They took their first steps and said their first words under this roof. We've giggled, tickled and played hide and seek. We've celebrated...Thanksgiving turkey, burning bread for many meals, blown out too many candles to count, hosted a baby shower or two, decorated Christmas trees...and lit fireworks. We got healthier...we ran races, we played phase 10 with too many to count...
We've lived here...celebrated, grieved, made mistakes, laughed, cried, yelled, fought, prayed and loved... and now, that all the to-do lists are complete...I can honestly say, I like this house. I am content here in a strange way and I'm at peace in this house in the midst of all the chaos.

"if these walls could speak, the stories they would tell"

If these old walls,

If these old walls could speak

Of the things that they remember well,

Stories and faces dearly held,

A couple in love Livin' week to week,

Rooms full of laughter.

If these walls could speak.

If these old halls,

If hallowed halls could talk,

These would have a tale to tell

Of sun going' down and dinner bell,

And children playing at hide and seek

from floor to rafter,

If these halls could speak.

They would tell you that I'm sorry

For being' cold and blind and weak.

They would tell you that it's only

That I have a stubborn streak,

If these walls could speak.

If these old fashioned window panes were eyes,

I guess they would have seen it all--

Each little tear and sigh and footfall,

And every dream that we came to seek

Or followed after,

If these walls could speak.

They would tell you that I owe you

More than I could ever pay.

Here's someone who really loves you;

Don't ever go away.

That's what these walls would say.

-Amy Grant

Thursday, May 8, 2008


I got an email this morning from a friend who "runs" our moppets program that is the childrens portion of our Mothers of Preschoolers program. Yesterday morning we had a steering committee breakfast to celebrate our year-end in MOPS. We left the children at the church with wonderful caregivers while we went for a child-free meal and fellowship! While eating my carefree breakfast, Nate got hold of someone else's snack...and wouldn't you know, it "could contain traces of peanuts" This scared the workers...but Nate was unscathed with no reaction whatsoever. The following is my reply to Robin's email of concern and asking for advice about how to go forward with kids with allergies in mind for moppets next year. Robin also has been in charge of the children's portion of our local CBS (community Bible study) and she shared with me that it's CBS's national policy to only serve crackers (saltines or graham) with water to kids attending CBS. So, here's my response...
You know...I haven't thought much more about the snack...praised the Lord and moved on ; )

Thank you for being thoughtful on the subject! I think in particular, his age/developmental stage is difficult...he's going to pick up whatever's available. We are already teaching him to say "no peanut for Nate, no egg for Nate"...and teaching not to ever touch food or other's sippy cups or anything on anyone else's plate but you know it'll be a while before he really gets it.
Theoretically if he drank from a cup/touched a plate that has an allergen anywhere on it, he could have a reaction from cross contamination. If someone is serving a mixture of something "safe" with something that's not...I don't allow him to have anything because I don't know for sure if they touched the peanut butter crackers before they touched the goldfish....again, cross contamination could have occurred. The knife used to make a PB&J sandwich for anyone at our house always gets dipped in the jelly first....ALWAYS or the jelly gets contaminated and has to be thrown out.

The two most common attitudes I see in regards to his allergies are folks who are afraid to feed him anything...and folks who think that anything is okay as long as it's not an actual peanut or an egg. I fell into the same category before being educated. It was hard and overwhelming at first, but AFTER lots of label reading, we've found things that work for him...I've got it down to a science including even the particular brand names he can have. Rold Gold pretzels are great (for now) but not Snyder's and definitely not generic.

With the increasing number of kids with's hard for groups where kids gather to come up with a solution. Even schools are battling what to do...peanut butter free areas in the cafeteria vs. peanut butter free period. On allergy websites with forums there are just as many moms w/kids with multiple allergies deciding to homeschool for safety as there are moms who are angry that they can no longer pack a cheap but good source of protein PB&J sandwich for their own (sometimes picky-won't-eat-anything-else-if-they-are-starving) kids' lunch box.

Sometimes I feel like the food police! When a mom got out a snack for another child yesterday was a hodge podge of stuff that I immediately knew was a potential's a hard battle..."you can't feed your child cause it might kill mine..." and I had planned to bring a snack that was safe for Nate, and left home without it. He did have a serving of Cheetos in his bag...I told him and more importantly had told Emily. But, the key is not just bringing a snack for him, but bringing enough for everyone so that he's not got the potential of grabbing someone else's food. Unfortunately...I haven't found a "animal cracker/cookie" yet that is safe. He can never eat anything from a bakery.

So to address your ultimate question, here are some safe things for a kid with a peanut/egg allergy to suggest for next year and it's imperitive to remember that brand names are very important!
Peppridge Farm Goldfish are safe (unless you've got a child with milk allergy...Nate's is mild enough he can tolerate these)
Cheese-itz (milk would be an issue)
Keebler Graham Crackers and their new "bees" are safe (wheat allergy would be only problem)
Teddy Grahams in all their shapes/sizes (they've done some superhero shapes etc) are safe (again wheat allergy...)
Malt-o-meal Tootie Fruitie cereal or Fruit Loops or Apple Cinnamon O's
Juice/Fruit/cheese is never a problem for a kid with a peanut or egg I tell everyone who cares for Nate, when in doubt go with natural foods vs. processed. Just not very practical as it's hard to serve these things in a group setting and storing them for later wouldn't be possible.

Another thought to consider: might be prudent to only allow moms w/kids w/multiple allergies (wheat, soy, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs...the biggies) to pack their own snacks...anything they bring would be safe for anyone.

Soo...the good news is...God is protecting him. When I first found out about his allergies, a friend from our church with an older son who experiences almost the identical allergies called me and let me know she was an available resource to me. What a blessing, an encouragement that she had kept him alive to the ripe age of 11...there was hope for me! My first question was "How do you do it? How do you keep him safe?" Her answer, which is burned in my brain, "I pray every single day for God's protection".
That's the ultimate message for me, I can't keep him safe 100% of the time, I cannot control his environment or the things in it 100% of the time. God's plan for him doesn't include a bubble or coccoon, much to my dismay. As much as I love my children and want only the best for them, I cannot keep them away from all people with harmful intentions, the world with all it's un-Christ-like messages, poor choices, speeding cars, drunk drivers, bullies, planes that crash, the risk of loving someone completely, failure, drugs, alcohol, rock-and-roll (haha)...ultimately I cannot keep sin or the consequences of it (which includes sickness and death) from them... I am not in control...but God is and his plan for Nate and our family included his having allergies and a part of that includes being a support and encouragement to other Moms who are facing this same issue.