Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Blessings

This Christmas we were worried. Not about "How are we going to buy everyone big, giant, expensive gifts?!" but about "How are we going to give as much as possible to as many people as possible?!" While we enjoy buying small gifts for friends and family we REALLY enjoy blessing those who are lost and hurting in our world. Most of those in our lives are blessed to have more than enough to eat, wear, etc and so each year we try to do a lot of extra for those that don't. But would that be possible this year? Extra? After paying Annabeth's NICU bills and my two surgery bills money was going to be tight this year and yet we found great encouragement about faithful giving during our Advent Study. We read "A Different Kind of Christmas" (which I will GIVE AWAY FREE! to the first person who messages that they would like it!!)
We decided with Mark's brothers to just exchange a family photo with each of them and put a ten dollar limit on each of the kids. After finding cute gifts at a great price we had over $20 left of that budget and used it to buy supplies to restock our church's Andrew's Harvest Food Pantry. In anticipation of new clothes coming our way, we cleaned out closets and took bags to Goodwill and I took some of my old work clothes to my sister. Annabeth even got in the spirit and cleaned out her closet to share outgrown items with her Bestie Bella who is just growing into that size. We shared extra Christmas cards and wrapping with family so they would not have to purchase any. We homemade lots of gifts. We found lots of FREE ways to bless others.
In the end, God saved our biggest abudance of blessings for Christmas Day. We had planned on having a quite a good group for dinner but due to the coming blizzard we ended up just having Mark's parents and his great-grandpa. For dinner we had Roman Noodle Slaw, Ham, Green Beans, Sweet Potato Casserole, Homemade Macaroni and Cheese, and Homemade Squash Casserole. We also had muffin fudge bars and gingerbread kiss cookies for dessert. After they all picked out their leftovers, we had a TON left! So, we baked a bunch of rolls, packed up the ham and sides, gathered random leftover silverware and plates from different parties, took the unopened soft drinks, and tons of desserts and Mark and his mom drove it down to jail at shift change. In turn, the night shift was blessed with a homemade Christmas dinner as they went into work! We are so thankful that even during a year when we weren't sure how we were going to make all of the extras happen, God gave us more than enough time and time again!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A One Word Prayer: Courage

A few weekends ago Annabeth and I headed to Gatlinburg, TN with Rose. We arrived in the mountain community of our cabin around 9:30 pm. Our directions to the cabin from the main road were a bit misleading so we guessed (BIG MISTAKE) which driveway was ours. I drove up a steep, twisting drive with tires spinning as I missed a turn a bit and ended up in gravel. We reached the top and learned it was the wrong cabin. I made a three-point turn and nervously headed back down the drive. I drove so slowly, knowing that big turn was going to be even tougher to navigate on the way down. I missed it. I slammed the brake down, calmly put the car into reverse, and lifted my foot to hit the gas - we lurched forward. I hit the brake again and began to panic. PANIC.

Two feet in front of the hood of my car the road dropped off into a deep ravine, to the right was the mountain wall, to the left was the road I needed to be turning onto, and behind me was a very steep hill. I began to panic more and more. Rose, four months pregnant and prone to crying was next to me, Annabeth, my precious daughter, was in the backseat and still, thankfully, sound asleep. I rolled the window down, pretending to examine the road, but really just buying me some time to calm down.

The panic continued to rise. Rose put on the emergency brake on and then said to me, "Amy. You're going to have to put your left foot on the brake and your right foot on the gas and you're going to have to move them at exactly the same time while you turn the wheel." I calmed down a bit, I said a silent prayer. I took off the emergency brake and put my hand on the shift changer. I couldn't move. I put the emergency brake back on. I said outloud, "Dear God, I know I cannot do this. I know you can. You are going to have to do this." and then as I stared at the drop off in front of me, I prayed this word, "Courage. Courage. COURAGE."

I waited, I felt nothing but fear. I looked over at Rose and said, "I cannot do this." She calmly replied, "I can!" She walked to the drivers side and I walked to the passenger side and as I walked I looked at my precious girl sleeping in her carseat. All I could think was that if we went over the edge of that cliff, I would lose everything, I would lose her. I was terrified. I got in the car. Rose buckled her seatbelt and gunned the car reverse up the hill and then back around the bend. She did it just like she'd tried to tell me to do it. She was fearless, full of courage. She said to me, "I don't know how I just did that. I had no idea I could do that."

I rode down the mountain feeling like such a weak woman of faith. My faith had been tested, literally to the edge of a cliff, and I hadn't had the courage to trust Him to take care of us.

Rose told me later that evening, "Amy God fully answered your prayer. You didn't ask him for courage for you, you just said 'courage' and He gave it to me."

One little word.
One huge act of faith.
One huge blessing at the edge of a cliff.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fun and FREE Birthday Cake

Annabeth turned ONE on October 5th! Hooray! I, as most stay at home mamas, had a LOT of time to plan her cake. I had it in my head that I would make a cake from scratch (I've only done this one time and it was a disaster) with homemade icing (which I can usually make okay) but the day before her birthday Jenn and the kids came to celebrate her day with a Hello Kitty Princess Party! They brought a balloon, a tiara, presents, and a little round cake. Since it was just Jenn, me, and the three girls eating cake we only ate half of it. Thus...on her birthday we still had a half a cake sitting in the fridge. I quickly decided that making another cake would mean WAY too much cake for our family SO I created a fun, new one with her leftovers. Free! Love it!
Jenn with Elli, Annabeth, and Kati - "Helping Abba Walk!"
Annabeth's 1st Birthday Cake

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Riley Healthy Lung Study

Over the summer I saw an ad for a Healthy Lung Study at Riley Children's Hospital. I immediately felt moved to call and have Annabeth apply. Riley is the children's hospital where my sister had her open heart surgery and it is also home to the NICU team that saved Annabeth, so it is a place that is very close to my heart. We were approved for the study (They are looking for healthy, full term babies between 6 weeks and 36 months who have not had any respiratory illness or special care) and we went last Thursday. They had to give her a mild-sedative so that she would lay still for the machines to run the tests. Annabeth, as always, would not fall asleep so they had to wait and then give her more medicine later. She REALLY fought sleep, even with the drugs!! They were very impressed with her BIG personality!! They ran three tests and we were there about two hours. They also did a blood draw. She was very well behaved and for that good behavior she got two little toy ducks and a shaker to practice for library class music time! She will also be getting her very first paycheck in the mail in a few weeks! If you would like more information on how a child you know can help others through this study just leave me a message! We feel so blessed to have been able to be a small part of a large study that helps preemies (like our beautiful nieces were) and infants with any kind of breathing or lung complications (like our nephew who was hospitalized at just one month old). The Riley Infant Cardiac Unit's test is the reason they knew how to save Anna, hopefully, these lung tests will help save another baby who needs it. Thank you God for being the Great Physician!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My Oldest Friend's Wedding

We are in Evansville this weekend to celebrate the marriage of my oldest friend Jessie and her husband Matt. Jay and I met in the third grade, when I was terrified and brand new to public school. The Raintree Girl Scout Council placed us in the same Brownie troop and my life was never the same. We bonded over a shared love of cats. Spent the school year having sleepovers pretending to be cats or various members of the Baby Sitters Club. We spent weekends camping with our girl scout troop learning about "hypothermia" and picking up deer pellets. We spent summers at Three Lakes Day Camp drinking kool-aid, being terrified of the latrines, and never making any friends other than each other. Middle school came and we continued our friendship over tea parties and bus books. We even became brave enough to go away to sleep away camp and enjoyed three summers at Camp Lakeview. *For the record, without her having been brave enough to go with me I may never have gone to Lakeview, fallen in love with it, volunteered/worked there later in life, and in turn may never have met Mark. So, thanks to her I have Mark!* High school came, and as our circles of friends changed, we kept in touch almost exclusively through daily e-mails, despite having most of our classes together. Senior year we worked on the yearbook together and then college came. We were professional e-mail friends at that point and so the distance changed nothing. Through the years I have come to know that I can count on Jay for a great e-mail, my first birthday card each February, a lovely Christmas drawing, and a lifetime of friendship. So, if you are reading this, please take a moment to pray for Jessie and Matt as they begin their married life. May Matt know the incredible friend his wife will always be. Love you Jay, Mee.

Friday, September 14, 2012

"A Baby Story" Reflection

I recently caught an episode of "A Baby Story" on TLC. In this particular episode what happened with Annabeth's delivery, happened for this couple as well, the difference being their beautiful little girl lived just five days before entering the Life Eternal.

I keep thinking back to her birthday, maybe because her one year birthday is so quickly approaching, but I find myself thinking of that morning so often now. The panic in my doctor's eyes. The room full of specialists. The complete and utter joy of having her which turned to heart wrenching sadness when I realized that she was already gone. The little blue body without a heartbeat, my daughter. The ashen look of grief in Mark's eyes. I hear my desperate, strangled prayers of "Dear God, please save our Baby." I think of the paperwork where they wrote TOA instead of TOB (Time of Arrival instead of Time of Birth). I think of the agony, the anger at having been given life's most precious gift and then having it ripped away. And then I remember the tiny wimper. The rush to the NICU. Pushing Mark to go with her so she wouldn't be alone. The hour long wait to know what was happening, to see her pictures. The two hour wait to meet my little girl.

I thank God for every single precious moment we have been given with her. I

I pray for that couple who only had five days of precious moments to share. I pray for as many days to share with Annabeth that God sees fit to give us.

I am eternally grateful for my life, for her life, for our lovely life together.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Eleven (A Day Early)

Tomorrow Little Bit will be Eleven Months Old! It's so hard to believe that a year ago I was beginning my last week of work in Master Control, Mark and Luke had just finished painting Annabeth's room "Fairy Tale Pink," and I was foolishly daydreaming that she would be here "any day now." This year we are chasing Annabeth as she CLIMBS up AND down the stairs and as "Six Step Anna" successfully takes six steps on her own and then gets down and crawls superspeed to get places.
The Riley Three - Enjoying a Labor Day trip to the zoo

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Favorite Four

This fall I will be watching M&J's three monkeys on Wednesdays while M&J go to work. Today is Day #1. I love it! Kati and Elli are constantly amazing me with just how much they understand! They have been successfully going potty on the big girl potty today, helped their brother when he was crying, and have been showering Annabeth with hugs and kisses. There was also an incident with some baby cereal...but I will leave that be until Jenn gets home to hear it first. Nate has been such a sweet guy all day. He really enjoyed our morning outside with the breeze blowing in his hair. He also loved George and Ryne kisses as well as pulling out the grass. Then, in the middle of lunch, sweet man fell asleep in his Bumbo, worn out by the big girls. Annabeth has been exploring all of the "big kid" toys and has really enjoyed shocking me by knowing how to climb on K&E's rocking horses AND toy cars. Seriously?! When did she get to be that big?! She has also enjoyed some "special treats" for lunch - potato rounds dropped on the floor by the big girls. One baby is sleeping. Two monkeys are jumping. Little Bit is enjoying having the toys to herself. I am so thankful for my Favorite Four.
The girls - all three with "AmyKuhn" hair
Annabeth and Nathanael - the "little twins"

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Moving = What Annabeth is doing all the time! She is really "cruising" along the furniture and is walking holding with just one hand now! So fun! She has also stopped crawling and is walking just on her hands and feet. So close to being "independent." Moving Houses = What the Riley Three are preparing for We've made the list of things to renovate at home before a sale, we've begun some projects in order to make it more appealing to buyers, and are house hunting like crazy. We've not shared this with many people but have really begun to prayerfully begin the process and seek your prayers. We are looking to move closer to Mark's work and to our friends and family south of us. We are also looking for a different layour to have people over! When we bought our current house it was just the two of us, with overnight company a few weekends a year, and lots of trips to see other people. Now that we have Annabeth we have SO many more overnight guests, playdates, etc and so we need the space to host people. Upon purchasing our house, we prayed that God would bless us with the ability to welcome all who knocked. To feed people. To house people. To share His love. We now feel led to do His work and will in a different place. So...the search begins...

Friday, July 27, 2012


The above is Annabeth's favorite phrase. I can hear her whispering it over the monitor in the middle of the night. It is what she screams when she wakes up in the morning. It is what she says while she plays with her toys. Apparently it's Daddy and Anna's world and I just live in it. Life is so good.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


I woke up on Saturday, June 9 at 5:30 am, drank a glass of water, nursed Annabeth, and then went back to bed. As soon as I laid down I began having horrible stomach pains. By 9:45 or so I realized that something was very wrong. I was sweaty, gray in color, and just in the worst pain (other than the pains that came with Annabeth's delivery) of my life. We checked into the St. Francis ER around 10 am and after blood work and ultrasounds we learned that I had quite a few and quite large gallstones. I was sent home that same afternoon and then Sunday learned from a surgeon that I would in fact be having surgery to clear out the stones and then to remove the gallbladder. After a pre-surgical consult to review allergies (more than an hour was spent on that topic!)and to inform me of what would happen we were set for June 15. Surgery was June 15 at St. Francis South Surgery Center. All went as planned. St. Francis' Anesthesiology Department was already quite familiar with me and my special medical needs and so everything went quite well. I had my Mama and Dad with us through Monday afternoon and then Sarah Stair and Kristi yesterday to help some. I am feeling fairly good today and praying that the bruising and pain goes away before our trip this weekend. Thank you to everyone for your prayers! Also, now I have to live with (ugh!) a low-fat diet. Any recipes or suggestions??

Monday, May 28, 2012


May has been lovely and BUSY! - Annabeth now pulls to standing on anything and everything she can get her hands up on! - She moves down the furniture if there is something to encourage her - especially a remote control. - She has another new tooth - next to the one on the bottom! So cute! - Jenn, Cassidy, and I survived our first garage sale and made about $150 total. It was not what we had hoped for but we had fun and enjoyed time as the three of us girls! :) (+ Nate and Anna) - Memorial Day at the lake became Saturday at the lake and then Sunday/Monday in Evansville. The hot weather was TOO much for us and we ended up finding some great deals at Memorial Day sales while Dad and Mark watched the Indy 500 in the AC. Also, we enjoyed stopping by Grandma Chico's to surprise her and Uncle John who was visiting as well. Cannot wait to see what June has in store for us...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Anna Baby is 7 Months Old. We've seen some HUGE changes in the past few weeks: - Mark completed his last day at the jail. (05.02.12) - Annabeth is pulling herself to standing!!! (05.02.12) - Mark officially started work as the Evidence Technician for the Investigations Division of the Johnson County Sheriff's Office. (05.03.12) - Annabeth learned to say "DaDa." And now screams it ALL the time. (05.04.12) - We went to Kentucky for the 138th Derby/Momaw's 82nd Birthday. We won $36 as a family and taught Anna how to bet on the horses. We must have taught her well because she won more money than both of us! :) - We are home again, adjusting to our new schedule, and loving the 20 minute afternoon naps she has decided to take! Looking forward to a May filled with: Graduation Parties. Garage Sales. Visits with friends and family. My 2nd Mother's Day/My first with a baby out of the belly. Our 3rd Wedding Anniversary! Memorial Day at the Lake.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April Update

Wow! Time is flying. Here is what's new: - 2 Teeth. One upstairs and one downstairs in Annabeth's mouth. - 1 Gate. Blocking the step from the main house to the addition. - 4000 aprox. Miles. The number of miles crawled this month. - 1000 approx. Sit Ups. The number of times she has sat on her own WITHOUT falling over! Where is our little baby? Gone forever I fear. We are the proud parents of a crawling, sitting, size 18-month legging wearing little girl. I love it.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Anna's Words

Annabeth LOVES to "talk." Honestly, Mark and I are so meek and mild we have no idea where it comes from. Ha!! :) Okay, so she comes by it honestly. But in the middle of all the babble we've heard some real words:

Apple - Starting at around 3.5 months she's said a word that sounds like Apple

O-Gee - This sound is made only when a dog is the the room. She LOVES them!

Nama - The word she SCREAMS when she wants to nurse. We can only assume it's "Mama"

DAUD - Another word she SCREAMS,for attention, which Mark gives her so we call it her Dada word

Boo-Boo - The other day we were at lunch and in the middle of a monologue she said "Boo-Boo." It's only happened once but we are so proud!

Mama Baby - Okay, so maybe she didn't actually say "Mama Baby" but it REALLY sounded like it and my dad heard it as well so I have a witness!

We're really enjoying her not so little voice and are looking forward to understanding what all the noise means!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Light at the End of the Tunnel

I can see it! The light!

In just a few short days Annabeth will be 6 months old and FINALLY our lives are beginning to have some sense of "normal."

Alot of people told us the first three months of new baby life would be the most difficult but I have to say it's really been the first 5.5 months. My Mama and I were discussing this today - we think the fall baby might have made things more emotional as I had a long, gray winter of lots of days at home to add to some sadness and the huge adjustment. So, advice: have spring babies!

We've been out enjoying the early spring these past few weeks and what a difference it has made. Projects we've accomplished:
- Total clean out of the garage (all Mark)
- First (and second) mowings of the lawn
- Weeding of the gravel drive
- Impromptu landscaping project - no more mulch out front/totally new river rock
- Annabeth learning to quietly play in her pack-and-play while we work
- A house full of family for a whole Saturday
- First steak cook-out of the year

We look forward to more sunny days, more outdoor work, and LOTS more time with loved ones. So, if you're in the mood for a cook-out, come on over! We'd love to have ya!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"We'll do a phone hug!"

Medical Bills.

Those two words have hung over our heads for the past year now. As we strove to become debt free we faithfully prepaid much of our labor/delivery/recovery costs however the unexpected complications/medical care (such as the NICU) we experienced added LOTS of extra bills. So, since 10.28.11 I've had thousands of dollars in "This is not a bill" statements sitting in our Bills Folder. We've diligently paid off about eight thousand dollars and then we've saved waiting for the next ones to come. All the while, we prayed this prayer "Dear God. When the bills come, please make them ones we afford. Please give us the means to pay them. Or, if it is Your Will, have us owe them nothing." That last phrase seemed to be an unrealistic plea but we often threw it in just in case.

Yesterday, I again called billing and had the following conversation with Japhus at St. Francis Medical Billing:

Me: Yes, I'd like to check the balance on some bills. Here's the first account number
Japhus: It seems insurance has paid it in full
Me: As in, I don't owe you anything?!
Japhus: Yes, that's correct.
Me: Well, what about this one?
Japhus: The same thing, it's been paid in full
Me: *Insert squeal here* Oh my goodness! You've made my day!
Japhus: I'm glad
Me: I wish I could hug you!!
Japhus: We'll do a phone hug!!!

Following that conversation I laughed at the insanity of phone hugging the man in billing and then cried my eyes out while thanking God for this incredible blessing! So once again, in our Annabeth Saga of Miracles God gave us more than we ever expected by paying our medical bills in full - mirroring His gift of paying all of our debts and transgressions in full with His Son.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What We've Been Up To

Whew! February is always so crazy and this year has been no exception. Here's what's been happening:

- Annabeth now HATES being treated like a baby and insists on being allowed to sit up, tries to get out of her carseat, and is pushing herself around the floor
- I celebrated my 25th birthday on the 14th!
- Mama and Dad were able to come for a visit. We enjoyed having them here, they enjoyed time with Annabeth, and we all enjoyed some wonderful food!
- Mark pulled off an amazing birthday/valentine's day suprise for me and I now have great new craft supplies and enjoyed his Chicken Carbonara Dinner. Yum!
- We also celebrated my birthday with the Rileys (minus Matt who was out of town) It is such a joy to have all four of the little kids running around and creating chaos!

My favorite thing has been filling our home with people we love. When we bought our house we really wanted to host lots of get togethers, dinners, etc so we could just fellowship with those we love. We thank God for the opportunity to do just that.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

4 Months Update

Annabeth turned FOUR months old on Sunday. I can never get pictures to post on here so you'll have to check on facebook but heres what's new with her in print...

- She is rolling from her back to her belly (first time was on 02.01.12) and from her belly to her back (first time 12.05.11)
- She is talking ALL the time. Mostly she loves to say "Ah-Gee" and a word that sounds remarkably like "Apple"
- Screaming with delight! AHHHH!!!
- Sleeping in her crib (first time was on 02.01.12)
- The doctor said she is about 1.5 months ahead in physical milestones and almost 2 months ahead in verbal skills! Woah big girl!
- We've been okayed to try cereal so we're shopping for that this week
- And the stats: 14.8 lbs and 26 inches! Long and lean!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thank You Heather

This past Saturday my friend Heather went Home to Jesus.

I first met Heather while in Middle School Youth Group at Old North. She was the high school leader so I just saw her on and off through those years and then freshman year she became my youth group leader. I was 14, just coming out of those awful, awkward middle school years and really looking for the "answers" to life.

One of the first things Heather helped me see is that there are not "answers" to life but rather One Beautiful Answer - God. I had always believed in Him, the way kids do when they are raised by Christian parents and in the church but it was really my high school years where I found my faith becoming an active part of my life.

Heather took me on my first mission trip, she let me lead youth group, she encouraged me to share with others, and to open my heart to Him and His goodness. Heather was a friend like none other. Heather understood me and helped me grow like no other teacher or mentor in my life.

Since my sister called with the news on Saturday, I have been thinking of that song that goes something like "Thank you for giving to the Lord/I am a life that was changed...One by one they came/Far as the eye could see" I think Heaven will be like that for Heather, a long, beautiful line of people thanking her for her service as one of God's most beautiful and faithful servants. I feel so peaceful in her passing because when she first got sick I took the time to write a letter to her saying all of this and more. I feel even more peaceful in her passing because she's at the best party ever, the Eternal Party with Jesus as the Host.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Last night I cried, and by cried I mean the world caved in as I sobbed for an hour, first in the bathroom, then in bed.

Baby Blues.

That little phrase makes it sound almost cute but I feel like it's something everyone's afraid to talk about, afraid to admit if it's happening to them.

Our daughter is beautiful. She has a wonderful smile and the little laugh she's begun laughing this week is precious. I love that her hair, depsite have never been cut, has a perfect little line in the back as though we trim it daily. I love that she watches her hands as though they are the most fascinating things on earth. I love that she adores her daddy. I love everything about my little miracle.

The world told us "never" and God said "yes, in My time." She is the thing I prayed most dilligently for. She is the blessing we never dreamt we'd have.

But that doesn't mean it's perfect. Sometimes she feels like a house guest who will never leave. Sometimes she cries for hours even though the colic ended weeks again. Sometimes nothing on earth makes her happy. Sometimes it's so lonely even though she is always there. Sometimes I miss being alone or having dinner with just Mark. Sometimes I wish for quiet at 2 am.

Then the guilt happens. We were told "never" and by his AMAZING grace we have her. When Anna died, as I begged God to "please save our baby" in that delivery room I swore I would love every scream if He would just let her live. I break that promise to Him daily, sometimes it's all just too much.

I share this because I love my family, because I love Anna, because I feel like it's something that isn't said enough: Sometimes it's too much - too much good, happy, sad, too much everything. And yet, this life, my incredible life, is such a blessing. So, THANK YOU to everyone who comes and helps to hold her, to keep me company, and who holds us in your prayers. May our gray winter days filled with blues turn quickly to sunny, spring filled with sunshine.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

1. To become less selfish.
If you have ever been/are pregnant you know that being incredibly spoiled is a very special part of that time of your life. Recovery after delivery is an even greater time of being spoiled. THANK YOU! to everyone who spoiled me BUT it's time for me to begin doing things for myself again and to actively begin giving back.

2. To cherish.
I know my life has just become the best it has ever been and I want to enjoy each and every moment.

3. To be a better mother.
I have a long list of ways I'd like to improve based on what I have already learned these past three months. I have promised her time and time again in her journal that I will do my very best at this special job for her, for always.

4. To be a better wife
I read lots of books while we were expecting and I kept coming across the same advice and many sources, including His Word, made it clear that I am to be Mark's wife first and foremost and then Annabeth's Mama. Already I see that it's easy to make my relationship with her the center because she needs us to do everything for her, because she cannot eat without me, because she is who I spend my days and nights with BUT I cannot possibly be a good mother to her without being a good wife to my husband, her beloved Dadddy.

Each year I make resolutions and each year I do a fairly good job of keeping with me. I am praying that I will find myself successful in these endeavors this year. Happy 2012.