Spaghetti anyone?

John loves his spaghetti -- can you tell???


Can you tell what our latest milestone is? Praise the Lord for keeping the ol' van a running!!

Playing at Mamaw's

My husband got several cute shots at his parent's house this past Monday. Here's 2 of the little ones looking in the pond. More than one of our children have taken a "swim" in Mamaw's pond before. I'll never forget Nathan falling in either last summer or the summer before -- he just kept screaming, completely in a panic, and we just kept yelling "Stand up!". The pond only came up to his waist at that time and being 6 or 7, it wasn't like we were able to get him out until he stopped thrashing around!

21 weeks, 3 days

GREAT report at the doctor's office today. My blood pressure was great, my blood sugars are under control by diet alone, I've only gained a total of 3 pounds for the pregnancy (lost 2 1/2 between weeks 9 and 12, gained 3 1/2 between weeks 12 and 16, and have gained only 2 pounds since week 16). Also, they're doing a special kind of scan (for the men that read the blog, I'll spare the exact details). The're hopeful that these scans will show any potential for preterm labor. No change between today's scan and the last one which is an excellent sign. If there's no change at the next scan, they might space them out more than every other week. That would be an answer to prayer for more than one reason! I return on 9/12 for another level 2 ultrasound to check the brain and heart (they just didn't get a good picture of the heart at the last ultrasound because he was squirming around a lot).

Please continue to pray -- pray the this cyst on the brain will go away and/or not be a sign of Trisomy 18, if it be God's will, and pray that we can keep my appointments spread out of as far as is safely possible to reduce the stress on our gas budget and our sitter(s).

Praising God for the good report today and for continuing to take care of this pregnancy and our unborn son. We still haven't decided for sure on a name -- the 3 favs right now are Timothy Paul, Silas Paul, or Paul Timothy.


Book review

Long post again....sorry!

This review was originally going to be about a fiction piece I just finished call "A Voice In The Wind". But, after what I've read today, I think it'll be enough to comment on this one:

I started and finished this book today. Not because it was good, however. In fact, I was mortified. I'm just getting into blogging and reading other folks' blogs. One blog I read lately mentioned a book called "Supernatural Childbirth". (Note -- this blog belongs to a good friend of ours and I have NOT had the opportunity to talk to this family about this book. What follows is my opinion and I in no way want to offend anyone with my comments!) In the introduction, the author talks about a conversation she had with her husband. She does not say for what reason(s) but she mentions to him that she can't have children. Her husband asks her who told her she couldn't have kids. She said the doctor's did. His response -- "Oh, I see. Well, God said you can have babies. Even though I thank God for doctors and hospitals, and medical science is always advancing, they are not our source, our final authority; God is, and God said you can have children....The Bible is full of Scriptures about children. He said He makes the barren woman to keep house and be a joyful mother of children. He said your children will be as olive plants and your wife as a fruitful vine. The Bible says there will be neither male nor female barren among God's people. We will have all the children we want." (No scripture reference given; this quote found on pages 13-14) Whoa -- I hadn't even gotten to the part of giving birth yet and I was speechless! The book goes on -- and I hope I'm not giving it a misrepresentation here -- and the author says this: "You see, once we made up our minds and determined in our hearts that we were going to have a baby, that we could pray, that God would hear and answer that prayer because it was His will, that's what God did. God will meet you at your level of faith -- whatever that level is -- and that's where our faith was." (page 19). I came away with the notion that this author believes that you can have whatever you want if you believe it. In fact, she says that all physical pain is under "the law" (of the Old Testament) and that "Jesus bore that sorrow, that grief so we don't have to....I dont' have to bear sorow and grief! We believe He redeemd us from sin, sickness and poverty. "By His stripes we are healed." If that healing delivers us from pain, then that's what it does. It doesn't matter if the pain comes in the form of cancer, migraine, headaches, stomache aches, or childbearing." (page 26) Now, I have CHRISTIAN friends who, for reasons known and unknown, are unable to have children. My best friend has 1 daughter who's 8 and hasn't been able to get pregnant again. She has a disease called PCOS and she's currently in treatment for that and prayerful that they will be able to conceive again. Listen -- I FIRMLY believe that God hears and answers prayer and I admit that my faith seems weak compared to my best friend's faith. Her faith is not weak! She has prayed fervantly for YEARS for more children, to be healed from her disease, but it isn't happening. Is that because her faith is weak? This book is saying that because she doesn't believe it or claim it, in Jesus' name, then she doesn't have it. I don't believe that -- but I do admit to chew on this for a few days and I fully intend to talk to my Dad about it (he's a pastor). GOD is in control -- He does answer prayer but he does not ALWAYS give us what we ask for. Is that because our faith is weak? Perhaps, at times. Is our unanswered prayers ALWAYS because our faith is weak? Absolutely not -- sometimes, our prayers are unanswered because what we were asking for was not part of God's plan for our lives!! [As far as the "childbirth" part is concerned, this couple claims that they conceived when they "believed God" for it, that they had the labor they wanted and the delivery even before the certain time they "claimed", and with 3 of her pregnancies, had painless deliveries all because they "believed God for it".]

My heart is heavy...time for bed. I'd like to comment further on why I believe what I believe but I need to chew on this a little while longer first.


Warning -- we've been fished!

Have you ever heard of fishing scams? That's where someone typically sends you an email or letter or, in our case, a phone call. They usually give you good news - you've won something, for instance. All they need is your personal info to "process" things. Other notable schemes are those that say they have money overseas and if you'll help them transfer the money to the US by receiving the money into your bank account, they'll give you a substantial piece of the money. I've never heard of the fishing scam that struck us today. We rec'd this phone call early this morning. Jonathan hung up on them first because he said something just didn't sound right and he was using our bad phone and could hardly hear them. When they called right back, he asked me to talk to them to make sure that he heard them right. The guy told me his name was Paul Wall and that he worked with the ACS and that he was investigating a call that our children had been neglected or abused. He said they needed to set up an appointment time to come out and investigate. I asked him his name, his supervisor's name (who I supposedly did talk to), what city they were in and what their phone number was. Something just didn't seem right -- they did NOT know my name or Jonathan's name but they did ask for "John". When I told them that wasn't my husband's name and that no one ever, ever calls him John, he said he was new to this country and sometimes shortened names on accident. I asked him what child this was supposed to be in reference to and he said he could not give me any more information because it would reveal who made the complaint. They kept saying it had to do with "your littlest one". They asked whether or not our "littlest one" was in a room by himself or if his crib was up to date (John is not in a crib). Thankfully, I had my head together through most of the phone call but I was physically shaking throughout the whole thing. After almost 15 minutes, I told him as soon as I looked up his name, number, and agency, I would call them back to handle things. When I asked what "ACS" stood for, he said "American Children" and then, after a big pause, "Safety". I asked him the phone number -- at first he gave me a 641 area code -- when I questioned that, he said he meant 614. When I asked where he was located, he gave me states (none of them Ohio) or big cities -- Manhattan, for instance. I told him I couldn't handle things right then because I had to take my kids to soccer. He proceeded to tell me how dangerous soccer was....I got angry at that point and hung up. Needless to say, no such company exists on-line and the number they gave me was unlisted (www.anywho.com has a reverse look-up function for phone numbers). Not knowing what to do exactly and needing peace of mind, I called the police. I gave them the number and it turned out to be a local Cingular cell phone. He assured me we did the right thing and that, yes, we were fished. But it was enough to scare the living daylights out of me. We may or may not file an official report. We dialed *57 on our phone which officially traces the last call made (for a $4 charge) and we can call on Monday to get that official number for the police report, if we decide to file a complaint.

Lessons learned -- first of all, in this particular situation, if you are being investigated for anything related to your children, the police officer assured me that it would come as a knock on the door, not a phone call, and that the person there will have a badge and tell you they are with your county's Child Protective Services. In general, however, if anyone calls you and it doesn't sound legitimate, do NOT give out any information. Do NOT even verify the information they may or may not give you ("Can you verify your address, please" for instance). This person asked how many kids I had and their ages -- while I'm glad I didn't give him that info, there really is nothing they can do with that info but we belive he was hoping that if I gave out that little bit of info, I'd give out more. Check your emails and mail closely -- you never know when you may fall prey to something like this, too. Be careful!!


It's hot out there!!

The kids are getting some much needed outside play time in the water today. John (2nd pic) is trying to drink the water coming out of the water slide. I must admit, it's the perfect day for it with temps almost reaching 100. They're still outside now but it's almost time to come in. I'm so glad I finally got a blog where it's easy to add pictures. I never did figure out how to add pictures to our old blog. Welcome to my world!! Isn't it beautiful??? Keep scrolling, though -- I cleaned off the digital camera today so lots of pics to follow!!

Good picture of Caleb

This is Caleb, our 2nd oldest, who's 4 1/2. I thought this picture worthy of sharing. (Can you tell I'm STILL cleaning off the camera?!?!)

Zoo pic

I'm so proud of this picture. I can never get my pics at the zoo to turn out right, especially when they're behind glass as this toucan is. I think I did really well this time!!

Teddy Bear Day at the zoo

You can see him the best in the bottom picture. Nathan has a stuffed animal he calls Bunny Dog. We're not sure what it is exactly -- we thought it was a bunny but then it kinda looked like a dog, thus the name. I bought it, however, for a little girl I was baby-sitting at the time. Rebecca never got to get it -- Nathan claimed it (he was probably 2 or 3 at the time). Teddy Bear Day at the zoo is when you bring in your teddy bears (or Bunny Dogs!) and have them get their "check-ups" from the doctors at Children's Hospital. Nathan was so excited. Bunny Dog even had surgery (2nd pic) and went to the recovery room (3rd). Best part -- this was one of the things we got to do with Mamaw Faye while she was here. She also treated us to Chuck E Cheese although we failed at getting any pictures that night.

Nathan's birthday

Our oldest, Nathan, just turned 8. For his birthday this year, he wanted to go to Magic Mountain. Here are some pictures. That's our (current) youngest, John, up top. Don't know what he's pointing at but I thought it was cute. 2nd is Nathan in the jungle-gym-type-thing. And last is Caleb, Nathan, and our nephew, Jeff.


Still cleaning off the camera. These are from our niece's birthday party. She's in there, trust me! I guess I just snapped the camera at the right (or wrong) time and caught her new dress-up costume right in front of her face. The other one is Jonathan's Dad, Fred -- I can't believe he let me take a picture of him in is lovely tiara!!! This was a crazy weekend. Kaylie's party was a Sunday after church so it was already a crazy day. But -- the Friday and Saturday before, we had our big family garage sale AND on Saturday night, we actually managed to pull off a surprise 40th anniversary party for Jonathan's parents. I was going to post some pictures from then but all I got was "background" pictures of the cake and decorations, none of people really. There's a good one of Jonathan & his grandmother I might post later.

Cleaning off the digital camera

It's been a while....these are from our first trip to a Clipper's baseball game. That's not a Stevens in the first pic -- that's our good friend, Fionna. Then it's John and Elizabeth wearing their free hats.


In your darkest hours

Who's there for you? (apologies in advance for the long post but I need to vent a little)

It's been a very rough couple of days. It's been one financial crisis after another.... My faith being weak as it is, I felt we NEEDED to use the a credit card this week and my husband was dead set against it (as he should be -- I have a very wise husband)...well, let's just say that's how it started on Tuesday. Then, last night, I came home to an email from the bank....well, the bank doesn't email with good news, let's put it that way. Bad news last night turned into even worse news this morning. Someone once said to me "If you have a problem(s) that money can solve, then you really don't know what it's like to have a problem". At that time, I was hurt by that comment. But, I thought about that comment last night as I lay crying in bed in the realization that I had screwed up yet again. Confession -- I have a HUGE problem with spending money wisely. Translation, as I came to see it last night -- I have a CONTENTMENT problem. I can't seem to let myself be content in what I have. Mind you, we're not rolling in the dough -- but that's not an excuse. We use Microsoft Money software -- all our bills and my husband's deposits are there and I can see the cash flow forecast. I KNOW if we were to stick to the budget as it appears on that screen, we'd be just fine. Sticking to said budget is a problem and it has been for years. Please don't misunderstand -- this isn't a situaiton where I handle the money completely by myself and my hubby is oblivious to what's going on. What I am saying is it's not his ATM card that's making the transactions that run us out of money -- I'm admitting my fault here but I don't want people to think that he doesn't "manage his household well". He has faults, yes, but we're trying. BOTH of us are trying and it's not been an easy 2 years since I stopped working. BUT, incidents like we're in the middle of now are becoming less and less frequent.

So, in my original question, I asked who was there during your darkest hours? For us this time, I'm thankful to admit that it was my parents. My Mom flew in last week and my Dad arrived Monday and they just left. Other than these last 48 hours or so, it was a great 10 days and I'll definately post more on their time with us later. What they left here has touched me more than I can say. I stink at emotional issues and saying what's on my heart and I'm not sure why that's so. But, not only did they put gas in our van, not only did they pay for my oldest 2 to sign up for their homeschool co-op today, not only did they give monetarily to help clear up things at the bank -- they also just left a huge pile on my table. While I was out registering N & C for co-op, they were at Sam's Club. Laundry detergent, dryer sheets, toilet paper, fruit sancks and animal crackers for the kids, macaroni & cheese, mayo, peanut butter, corn, green beans, pizza kits, crackers, bisquick mix, trash bags, dish detergent, dishwasher tablets, and spaghetti, and you know Sam's Club's sizes!

Someone may stumble across this blog and wonder why I would post something so personal. Let me explain -- first, I know my Mom reads the blog every now and then and I hope she sees this so she knows how truly grateful we are even if I can't seem to say it. Secondly, I'm hoping putting all this into writing will give me something to look back on and remember so we don't end up here again. This hurts -- very, very badly. Third, maybe there's someone who can read this and learn from the lessons I'm learning -- 1) not being content with what you have is a sin, 2) not using the blessings you have been given as God would have you use them is a sin, and 3) I have to be more careful about what I'm teaching my kids about what money is (a blessing given to us by God) and how it should be spent. We are entrusted our money to steward the way God leads and spending every last dime you have is NOT a good plan -- eventually, you will overspend and not realize it and then you'll be where we are. Again, my apologies for a long post. If you've read this far, please pray for us as we're talking about going to a cash-only system for groceries and those type things (we already pay 99% of our bills through automatic debits). Please pray that we'll come out of this different people -- ready to manage our money in the will of God, not our own. Thank you.


Butterfly vid

This was the coolest shot of a butterfly!


Hi ya'll!

We're moving in! We were blogging on a different blog site -- you can catch up there at www.HomeSchoolBlogger.com/StevensFamily. After seeing many of our friends' blogs on this site, I decided we needed to change homes for our blog.

Lots going on this summer in the Stevens' household. Right now, my parents are visiting. My Mom flew in last Tuesday and my Dad got here yesterday. They're leaving on Thursday. My Mom go to be here when we found out that we're expecting our 4th son (we've got 1 daughter). That was the first ultrasound she's been to since I was pregnant with our oldest who just turned 8. I know she enjoyed it. We still haven't picked out a name yet. We're just beginning soccer season for our 2 oldest...we're getting ready to start school in 2 weeks...we're putting on a Medieval Feast to kick off the school year on 9/1...pretty much, we're just busy, busy, busy but we're enjoying it (most days)!

If you're out there or are finding us from our old blog, please drop a comment and let us know! It's really nice to know there's someone out there "listening"!