Friday, December 14, 2007

"Thanks-mas" in North Carolina

Two holidays were combined on December 9th-11th. Hunter flew in from India while Jacob and Stacia,(Jacob's fiance),flew from San Diego all converging in Raeford, North Carolina. Following was our "designated" itinerary, which unbelievably we followed quite well.
DEC. 9TH:
Christian Michael Thorpe dedicated to the Lord at Manna Church
Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie
Transition into Christmas with opening of presents involving a crazy treasure hunt and a nerf gun fight throughout the Thorpe home
"Apples to Apples" family game occupying the evening hours
DEC. 10TH:
A morning professional photography session at a horticultural garden with sunshine and 80 degree weather
"Some-R-Set" tournament (an unusual bidding card game, which has become the source of fierce competition between the sexes in our family)
Pizza and "Hit the Deck", another fast moving card game
DEC. 11TH:
Pancake breakfast at Branden and Brooke's new home
Bocce ball up and down the sandy knolls of Thorpe's yard complete with fire ants that unmercifully attack "sandlefooted feet"
Murder-Mystery dinner, "Til Death Do Us Part" with everyone in costume and character for an evening of laughter (Check out Rebecca's blog-www.rebeccathorpe.blogspot.com, for more details on this event, which was voted in as an annual affair)

May your holiday gathering be as eventful and fun.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Scuba Diving "Proof"


Just wanted to let everyone know that we really DO scuba dive. Ha! (Photo courtesy of the dive master in Costa Rica.)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Daddy's home!!!



Leave it to Steve to "throw" us a curve ball. Rebecca and I were fully intending to go to the airport on Friday afternoon, Nov. 30th, with Christian in his mom's arms to greet Steve at the airport as he disembarked from the plane. It was going to be one of those "Hallmark Hall of Fame" moments! Well, Steve decided he was going to surprise us and surprise us he did! Rebecca's cell phone rang and as she was talking to Steve, assuming he was in Atlanta, Georgia, the door bell rang. Expecting another UPS Christmas delivery, I went to retrieve the delivery. I was speechless as I opened the door and saw Steve standing there in his army fatigues wearing a grin from "ear to ear". Needless to say there was no well-planned video. I did manage to grab my camera and get a family photo. It was a happy reunion, to say the least!!


Monday, November 26, 2007

Christian's team?



Here is a recent picture of my grandson, Christian. He looks just like his Daddy, except for the big eyes, which definately came from his Mom. As you can see he is sporting an Iowa State "jersey". That is his Grandma Kate's alma mater. His uncle Branden would like to see him in a Bear's outfit, whereas his uncle Jacob would prefer the San Diego Chargers. But as far as Steve, his Dad, is concerned he should be wearing nothing but Denver Bronco gear!!

This coming Saturday Steve and Christian will meet for the first time. I will be video-taping this exciting event and will post it on my next blog entry. Be watching!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Scuba diving in Costa Rica

"And God said, 'Let the water teem with living creatures....' So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems..." This verse in the book of Genesis takes on real meaning when you stare eyeball to eyeball with a 5 foot white-tipped shark or swim over a sting ray with a wing span of 8 feet! Although the water off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica is cold, a frigid 68 degrees the first day we dove, it is indeed "teeming" with God's creations. Because of the bone-chilling temps I wore three, yes I said THREE, wet suits. For those of you who have never been diving let me give you a little bit of information concerning wet suits. They are made from neoprene, synthetic rubber foam that is filled with thousands of tiny gas bubbles. Once you enter the water a thin layer of water enters your wet suit filling the space between your skin and the inner surface of the wet suit. This layer of water is then warmed to your body temperature and it helps to keep you warm throughout your dive. The optimum word in that last sentence is "helps". I can get cold in 80 degree water when I dive longer than 20 minutes. So I knew I had to add the third suit but then I encountered another problem. You see, since the suits trap air, I'd simply be a big bobber if I didn't actually add weights to my gear in order to sink to the bottom of the ocean floor. More suits equal more weight. I needed 24 pounds of added weight to sink. Once in the water that's poses no difficulty but with a pitching boat, getting either into or out of the stern is a definite test of patience and balance! (I managed with the help of an attentive husband and the helpful boat crew.) It was worth all the effort when I skimmed the ocean's bottom and witnessed an orange seahorse gently swaying with the current and a spotted octopus wrapping its graceful tentacles around an unsuspecting fish among a multitude of other sights. I have marveled at a sunset, been amazed at the brilliance of fire-red fall leaves, and sighed in wonder at the beauty of the mountains, but I've learned, that is only half of God's creation. The rest lies under the water and possesses its own kaleidescope of shapes, colors and swimming creatures. I would challenge each of you to consider scuba diving. Give it a try. You'll never regret it!

Besides enjoying the scuba diving adventures, Hunter and I joined the group riding a "zip-line" through the rain forest canopy. Hunter became a "modern" Tarzan flying upside down from one tree to another!

Less thrilling but equally enjoyable activities were playing cards with friends, feasting on gourmet cuisine, walking hand in hand along a black sand beach, and sitting on volcanic rock beside a cave watching the tide rush in and out and just sharing with one another.

Although Hunter and I live thousands of miles apart right now, God continues to provide us with special times together that bond us with unforgettable memories!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Christmas "Cheer" for Charlie Company



As the holiday season approaches we often begin to think of ways we can help others. This year Rebecca, my daughter and wife of Captain Stephen Thorpe, and Star, wife of Lt. Eric Bradley, are spear-heading a project to provide Christmas "stockings" for the men of Charlie Company. This is a group of approximately 167 infantry soldiers who are stationed in Iraq for 15 months. I am helping by sewing some of the 167 stockings, which will be filled with candy and various other items. We hope these gifts provide a bit of "cheer" on Christmas Day, as these men will be far away from their loved ones.
If you would like to give toward this project please e-mail or post a comment and I will respond with the information. Here is a photo of one of the completed "stockings". Thank-you for your generosity and willingness to remember our servicemen and women. Let us continue to pray for their safety; both physically and spiritually.






Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Nation's Pastor

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"That the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored."
2 Thessalonians 3:1

That Bible verse was the keynote verse for the dedication ceremony of The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 31st of this year. That dedication ceremony was highlighted in a recent Decision Magazine with the cover a picture of three presidents bowing in prayer seated on a podium beside Billy Graham. Journalists arrived thinking they were going to report on a tribute to a man but instead the celebration was designed, like the Library itself, to glorify God and to proclaim the message of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.

This past week Mom and I had the priviledge of visiting Billy Graham's Library. Never have I been more inspired by a library/museum anywhere in the world. Upon entering we were given a brochure with the follow sentences: "Every aspect of the Billy Graham Library is designed foremost to honor Jesus Christ and the message of the Gospel, which Billy Graham has dedicated his life to preaching. From the towering 40-foot cross at the entryway, to the Scripture passages emblazoned on the wooden structural beams, it is our hope that you will see beyond the man and be touched by the message of God's love."

As we walked through the various rooms and listened to a number of fascinating presentations I was filled with a sense of being in the presence of a remarkable and extremely humble man; a man totally sold out to God, willing to do whatever it took to herald the name of Jesus around the globe. God used a willing farm boy to change the face of true evangelism. Billy went where others could not go-behind the iron curtain, into communist countries, through palace doors, on the fields of war-torn nations always with the same message of hope through Jesus Christ. His life's journey has caused me to reflect on the question: "How is my life's journey being used by God to draw others to Jesus?"
Maybe it is a question we should all ask of ourselves!


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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sleep!

Have you ever heard some teenager glibly state: "Sleep is not all it's cracked up to be"? He never had to dive into bed at 9:00 p.m. in order to cherish 2-4 hours of uninterrupted sleep before being woken to the sound of a crying baby ready to nurse, needing a diaper change, or spitting up all over the crib sheets. I remember these scenes years ago while raising my three children but now, at 58, the sleep deprivation seems to take a greater toll. On mornings when Rebecca and I have experienced at least one "chunk" of four hours of unbroken sleep we smile and say, "It was a good night." On the other end of the spectrum, there are mornings I wearily take out the dog, sit on the front step, and try to remember how it felt to feel rested and have energy to accomplish a list of "to-dos". I recently read that when we get less sleep (even one hour less) than we need each night, we develop a "sleep debt." Wow-am I in debt! The article said that if the sleep debt becomes too great, it can lead to problem sleepiness-sleepiness that occurs when you should be awake and alert, that interferes with daily routine and activities, and reduces your ability to function. Ok, that explains why I let out the dog before I remember to shut off the house alarm sending me into a panic as I attempt to quiet the blaring siren or why I bake a coffee cake forgetting to add the baking powder or why I fall asleep watching the Today Show! Yet, having said all of this, I wouldn't exchange a day of being here with my grandson for a full night's sleep! So maybe "Sleep isn't REALLY all it's cracked up to be!"

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lessons from "Mr. Blue Eyes"



God has a way of teaching us valuable life lessons if we but look for them in our daily routine. Since coming home from the hospital God has used Christian to teach me more about the three "Ps": Prayer, Patience, and Perseverance.

During long hours late at night or early in the morning I have learned the value and joy of prayer. God somehow seems closer while rocking an infant in the quiet of a dark nursery.

Can one have enough Whitey's ice cream? NO! In like manner, one can never have enough patience! As my grandson squirms and fusses "refusing" to burp at 2:00 a.m. God gently reminds me that I, too, squirm and fuss during various times in my life and He has always been patient with me. So, though I'm sleep-deprived, my patience grows.

James 1:2-3 says, "Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." Because of Christian's health challenges Rebecca and I have had to be determined to find a solution and commited to following through on a diet change involving saying "no" to all dairy products, including ice cream-yikes! And I agreed to join her on this diet? What was I thinking??

Prayer, patience, and perseverance are producing results as you can see in this photo of a smiling, happy baby!



Thursday, October 4, 2007

Christian Michael Thorpe "Update"

At 5 1/2 weeks Christian Michael Thorpe, my adorable grandson, is 9 lbs. 5 oz. and 21 1/2 inches in length. The "just born" onesies have been packed away and the 0-3 month sleepers are now in use. Little folds of fat around his thighs and under his chin indicate he is thriving on mother's milk. The increasing volume of his crying clearly shows his lungs are healthy and he keeps both mom and grandmother hopping from crib to rocking chair at all hours of the day and night. Every baby is unique and Christian is no exception. With his basketball size eyes and his little turned-up nose he's a handsome boy, but sometimes he resembles a little old man with a receding hairline when he furrows his brow ready to voice a complaint. And voicing complaints he has mastered!

Rebecca and I have been on a journey to discover why he has been relatively unhappy since coming home. In the ER room of the local hospital, three weeks ago, he was diagnosed with GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease). The symptoms were projectile spitting/vomiting after nursing and extreme fussiness about an hour after he ate. We were given a prescription to fill and sent on our way. We followed this visit with a trip to a new pediatrician who concurred with the ER doctor, but switched medications to one she felt was more effective. We went home confident that we were on the road to a happier baby. As the week progressed Christian continued to exhibit the same disturbing symptoms-intense crying & restlessness while adding other problems to the mix. He developed excema on his head and a rash on his cheeks. The medication seemed ineffective, although we were told it could take several days to see results. After a week of frustration Rebecca began searching the internet and for hours researched various other possibilities. When she came upon
MSPI (Milk &/or Soy Protein Intolerance) we felt we had a "winner"! We guessed Christian might be intolerant to the milk protein in Rebecca's breast milk. To verify our theory we gave him one bottle of soy formula and-bingo-a sleeping baby! Now, Rebecca had a choice to make: switch Christian to soy formula or completely eradicate all dairy from her diet. She chose the latter and already, after less than a week, we are seeing dramatic results. It is a challenge to bake without dairy but I am enjoying the adventure of adjusting recipes and scanning the shelves of the local health food store for alternatives.

Now, even though we think we have Christian's health problem solved he continues to be quite demanding. Did you know that babies have distinct temperaments? I guess I realized that after raising three different children but I never read any literature on the topic. In trying to better understand my grandson I have been surfing through various articles on the internet. It seems that there are basically three types of babies.

1) the easy going, quiet, placid baby who adjusts quickly to new situations, is able to calm himself, reacts only mildly when in discomfort, & generally is in a good mood

2) the sensitive-slow to warm up baby who seems shy, approaches new situations cautiously, & responds quietly to hunger or discomfort

3) the active-fussy-high need baby who is continually in motion, easily distracted, hard to soothe when in discomfort, sleeps fewer hours, & demands much attention

Guess which category Christian falls into? You are correct if you guessed number 3! He is definately a hand full for BOTH mommy and grandmommy! But he is the source of great joy each and every day and we never stop thanking God for this special little boy!

Here is a recent photo of my little treasure. (Thank God for "binkys". They work wonders for the active baby temperament!)


Monday, September 24, 2007

The Toybox Story



"An old toybox with peeling paint, faded decals, and little sections of splintered wood sat in a garage wondering what was his intended fate in this new location. He had recently been "uprooted" from the quiet corner of a dark basement, where he had been resting for years. Questions flooded his mind. Where was he? Where were the children with toys for him to hold? Was he once again going to be relegated to a lonely corner gathering dust and spiders or could there possibly be some excitement on the horizon? As these thoughts wound their way through his brain he began to reflect on the journey of his life to this point in time.
It all began some thirty years ago when a mother asked her father to build a toy box for her three children. Since the father, a farmer by trade, was gifted with his hands and woodworking was an evening hobby he quickly set to work on this act of love for his grandchildren. He located a suitable pattern, cut out the sections from pine, then carefully assembled the pieces adding small wheels to the "undercarriage" to make moving the toybox around a room a breeze. His job was done. With pride he gave the toybox to his daughter, who set out to give it a coat of paint and a bit of character with decals and lettering. Once the paint was dry the toybox was ready for use.
Through the years this toybox held John Deere tractors and plows, cabbage patch dolls, legos by the hundreds, "My Little Pony" ponies, Chewbaca & various other Star Wars figures, as well as "dried up" play dough, broken crayons, and whatever else happened to be on the floor when mother said to "pick up the room". The toybox fondly remembers those days, knowing he was a valuable part of the family. But children don't stay young forever and there came a day when the toybox was ignored having been replaced by school books, a computer, and car keys.
Now, after years of being in storage, he finds himself in an unfamiliar place. Why would he be sitting in a garage beside an electric sander, paint cans and tiny brushes? It isn't long before the mother, who originally requested his "construction", a bit older but with the same smile, sits down beside him and begins to tenderly smooth out his rough exterior. Could he be needed again? Is it possible there are once more children in the house?
After several days of sanding, painting, and stenciling, the toy box is ready to take his place in the room of the mother's grandson! The words which have been stenciled onto the exterior of the toy box are character traits the mother prays will be stamped into the heart her grandson: love, hope, faith, believe, and joy. Contentment fills the heart of the toy box as he once again feels a useful member of the family!"

Now, this tale, although a bit silly, does remind me of the importance of family legacy. We all pass down things to our children. My father exemplified love, hope, faith and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that, not the toy box, is his true legacy to his great-grandson! Thank-you, Dad!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Swaddling - pure "wrap"ture?


To swaddle or not to swaddle, that is the question Rebecca and I face every night. For those of you who don't know what I am talking about let me give you a brief explanation. Swaddling is a process of tightly wrapping your baby in a large receiving blanket with his arms "cemented" along his sides. Only his little head is outside of the blanket and he resembles a little cocoon. Christian was swaddled in the hospital right after he was born. The nurses had obviously mastered this technique, which is not as easy as it appears.
It is suppose to be the cornerstone of calming by giving nurturing touch, stopping flailing arms, and focusing your babie's attention on sleep. For me, swaddling was a new concept but I understand it has been an ancient mothering "art" practiced all over the world for centuries. Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Jesus were all swaddled as babies. In Tibet, babies have always been swaddled tightly in blankets. Traditionally, the wrapping was secured with rope and the baby was tied to the side of a yak to be carried as the family hiked through the valleys. I doubt if Rebecca and I will do much hiking with Christian. Besides, yaks are hard to find around here!
Swaddling went "out of fashion" in the 1700s when scientists proved that unwrapped infants didn't pluck their eyes out or dislocate their arms therefore they concluded swaddling was a waste of time. It was also an era of new freedoms and swaddling was viewed as a "baby prison".

Well, swaddling has made a big comeback and all birthing classes now tout it as one of the most important skills to master. Rebecca and I found it easier said than done. We practiced with dolls in the birthing classes BUT dolls don't wiggle, roll, scream, or flail their arms. Every night as we attempt this procedure Christian loudly voices his displeasure. Sometimes we wait until he is asleep and sneak in the process hoping he doesn't wake up "mid swaddle". I had to sew bigger swaddle blankets than the ones purchased from the stores because Christian was always "unwrapped" before his first feeding. For a little guy he is strong and wants out of the package! Yet, when we try to put him to sleep with his arms free he jerks awake after only a short rest. This nightly "battle" would look rather comical viewed from above: two grown women unable to successfully swaddle one squirming 6 pounder. When he is finally encased in flannel he does calm down, relax, and appear to feel comforted, but the jury is still out as to whether or not this will become a nightly routine.
Do you ever think that as God's children we often resist His swaddling? He wants to comfort us, surrounding us with his love and protection yet we would rather do our own thing, flailing our arms in rebellion. Isaiah 66:13 says, "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you." In Psalm 32:10 we read: "The Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him." I want Christian to trust me enough to know that I am swaddling him for his comfort. The question I ask myself is do I trust God enough to let him swaddle me according to His will and not mine?


Thursday, September 6, 2007

"Duties" of a live-in Grandmother

I am sure many of you are wondering what I do all day, now that I have retired from teaching and stepped into the shoes of a grandmother. Following is a sampling of a typical day living in North Carolina.
My morning begins with a "wake-up" lick from Ruthie, the yorkshire terrier, followed by a trip outside to accommodate her "needs".


Next I begin making coffee for my sleepy eyed daughter, who has been up nursing Christian a large portion of the night. I set the table for a hearty breakfast while she cuddles her son as well as her "jealous puppy".

The morning hours are occupied with such activities as bath time and laundry.



While baby and mommy nap, Grandma bakes bread and cookies, sure to please everyone, including Branden & Brooke who live around the block and frequently visit to hold their nephew.



After lunch Grandma takes a break to read Christian to sleep. Yes, I believe in reading even before they can understand the words!

The day is generally not complete without errands to run and baby things to buy. Christian's newborn sleepers were too big! We had to locate "just born" clothing for our little guy as well as more baby wipes and diapers. How many times a day can a six pound infant "fill" his pants? MANY!


In the afternoon I work on some aspect of the nursery. The letters are up and now onto the curtains and the toy box.



As the day winds down I get my evening hug and am rewarded with a smile! (Most babies don't smile at 2 weeks old but of course Christian is a prodigy!)



The day ends as I climb into bed and prepare to share it with Ruthie. Yes, living with Rebecca means having to sleep with the dog, at least part of the night! Oh well, I'd sleep with a snake, I think, if it meant I could spend more time with my grandson!!


I am loving the "Grandmother Journey"!





Thursday, August 30, 2007

Christian's Arrival


At 3:00 a.m. on Monday morning, August 27th, Rebecca runs into my bedroom and proudly declares: "My water just broke!" Hunter is taking a week-end visit in North Carolina on his way back to India so he is in bed with me when we hear this startling news. Like a jet being expelled from the deck of an aircraft carrier we catapult out of bed in unison. While Rebecca e-mails Steve in Iraq I run around trying to gather necessary items for the hospital stay: pillows, exercise ball, music, cameras (both still and video), big white robe, snacks, overnight bags. As I walk out the door I feel like a jittery pack horse. We are whisked through the "check-in" gate on base, park at the main entrance, unload all the gear, and make our way to the doors only to find out they are locked! We stuff everything back into the car and drive around to the emergency entrance. Thankfully the door swings open and we follow the signs to labor and delivery.
Rebecca's friend, Chelsea, arrives to be the "second" coach. We get Rebecca settled in, give her back rubs, hand her ice chips, and quietly "cheer" her on through about three hours of fast labor. At 6:52 a.m. Christian coasts into the hands of the midwife and loudly protests the bright lights and cheers of joy. As he rests on Rebecca's tummy I am given the honor of "cutting the cord". Wow-could there be a more exciting moment for a grandmother?
Shortly after his birth his uncle Branden and Grandfather Hunter arrive at the hospital to hold the swaddled little guy. Christian's arrival was perfect timing for Hunter, since he was just ready to leave for the airport to go back to India.
God's timing is always perfect!
Rebecca and I are now enjoying the comfort of home with the addition of a cooing, crying, wiggling little angel. Ruthie, the resident Yorkshire terrier, is a bit jealous. She is no longer the center of Rebecca's attention, therefore I play dog sitter and entertainer much of the day. I even have had to share my bed with Ruthie while Rebecca nurses during the night and clean up Ruthie "acts" of defiance left outside of the nursery door. Oh, what a grandmother will do for her new grandson!
It has been fun sharing with each of you this special event in our lives. Please keep me informed on what is happening in your lives.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Life Experiences

For 18+ years Rebecca occupied one of the bedrooms in our home, filling it with her clothes, school books, and various and sundry items. She ate at our table, drove our car, and followed me around pushing the cart in the grocery store. Currently, I find myself living in one of the bedrooms in her house, sorting through my clothes in her closet, eating at her kitchen table, and staring at her decorated walls as I drift off to sleep. I drive her car and follow her lead in the grocery PX at Fort Bragg. Who would have guessed?
Change happens and we learn to adjust. Yet, there are other things that remain the same. I still give advice in the kitchen, while she still laps me in the 50 meter pool on base-even at 9 months pregnant! We still worship God together on Sunday in church and share ideas on projects-currently its the color scheme in the nursery. Pedicures are still one of our favorite luxury outings.
Life is a delicious medley of experiences; some hand-picked and others thrust on our plates. Are you finding joy in what is now being served to you?
I am!