Sunday, May 6, 2018

Open Expectancy

When Raphael was a newborn and it was time to feed him, he would lay across the Boppy on my lap and just open his mouth, wanting and waiting for me to put the nipple into his mouth. Knowing I would do it.

I keep thinking that God wants us to trust Him like that. Going to Him with open hands, expecting Him to fill us and nourish us.

Let’s go to Him with that confidence in His goodness (Heb. 4:16, Ps. 81:10)!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

People and Places Plenty!

  • First week of March: My mom visited; a friend joined us for a game day and dinner; the big kids enjoyed a play date with friends; and, we got to go on a double-date with some of our friends to see Tortured for Christ :) Great film!
  • Second week of March: We had to go to Asheville one day for an appointment and then treated the kids to a bakery for behaving so well; I got to get a massage!;  attended a JAARS Day with some friends (a free family event on a Wycliffe campus in NC) which had a bunch of fun activities; and, went to small group.
  • Third week of March: We had friends over for dinner; a good friend babysat so Ricky and I could go on a date to see the superb Broadway musical, Amazing Grace; attended the annual fundraiser for our local pregnancy care center; and, had several friends over to join us for pizza and Wonder (I was really surprised at how much the kids loved it!)
  • Fourth week of March: We enjoyed a sweet long weekend visit with a good friend from Wilmington, and we went to small group.
  • Fifth week of March: I met with the two women who are teaching a wellness class I am organizing for May; enjoyed friends visiting briefly; and, we went to DaySpring for four days to enjoy a few days there and drive to Wilmington for a day and go to our nephew's third birthday party :) 
  • When we went to Asheville looking for a specific address, we ended up near a post office and Micaiah shockingly said, “We drove all this way to go to the post office?!?!” ;) And when we were about to enter this facility, there was a “Quiet please" sign on the door. And in we come with two small kids and a baby. When one of the men working there saw us entering, his jaw dropped and he stared at us in utter disbelief and fear. His expression was priceless! (He had no need to fear as all three children behaved wonderfully.)
  • When we were going to my parents’ farm, Micaiah asked how much further when we were close. I told him that we had 20 more minutes. He exclaimed, “Twenty is not far from five and five is not far from zero!”
  • School verses: Micaiah -- Isaiah 9:6, Romans 12:19 & 21, Psalm 27:14, Matthew 18:3, Proverbs 3:5-6 ; Aolani -- Jeremiah 33:3, 1 Timothy 4:12, Romans 8:38-39

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

You, God's Joy

I wanted to get this down before I forget it!

Having a newborn really brought meaning to Zephaniah 3:17!
He will take great delight in you, 
Newborns don’t DO anything. They just are. I would get overwhelmed with delight looking at him, coddling him, and nursing him — simply just with him BEING. And I realized that must be how God feels about us, delighting in our being, not trying to earn His delight by doing and serving and working and proving.
He will quiet you with His love, 
When he would get fussy or sad, I would gently shush him and pat him, reassuring him of my presence and that he’s going to be okay. This is quieting with love!
He will rejoice over you with singing. 
Sometimes when I am simply looking at and loving him, I would get so overjoyed that I couldn’t contain my heart. I would just erupt with singing and song would burst forth!

All of this 

God does 

Over you 

Just because 

You’re His.

Monday, March 19, 2018


  • First week of February: We have a friend visit for a day; attend a house dedication party; and, host a small Super Bowl party.
  • Second week of February: We had friends join us for dinner, and I put together a “Sip and See” for a close friend to celebrate the birth of her sixth child :)
  • Third week of February: Friends from our old church in Wilmington who are now missionaries (Timothy Two Project) stopped by for a quick visit; my parents visit for a long weekend to celebrate Aolani’s eighth birthday, and they let Ricky and I go to the chiropractor and to the movie theater for a late Valentine date ;)
  • Fourth week of February: We had friends over for dinner; Ricky had to work out of county four days and I had friends stop by periodically to check on us, and Aolani cooked all of our meals :) ; Ricky’s dad and brother visited to celebrate Aolani; and, we went to our small group meeting.
  • Raphael has the oddest sleeping schedule! He will not go bed before we do and needs to fall asleep with us and in our bed. But once he’s asleep, he sleeps for 12 hours straight! This means he sleeps from midnight to noon! He might take a good nap in the afternoon and little catnaps during the evening until bedtime:) He often pumps his right leg when he is excited, and we call him “thumper”. He really enjoys having his diaper changed, laughing with us, and singing with me ;)
  • Micaiah lost his 2nd tooth, the real way this time (it was loose). I am often commenting to people about the four rolls on each of Raphael’s thighs. One day, I overheard Micaiah jovially telling someone about the baby’s four chubby thighs ;) Another time, Micaiah was passing out little pieces of his bread and telling us that it was for sermon (communion)! After explaining to him how most wars are tragic and devastating, Micaiah added, “But some wars end happy because of Aslan. And god is all-powerful!"
  • Aolani is such an awesome help with Raphael, from changing diapers to playing with him! She even goes around the house wearing a “nursing cover “ pretending to nurse her baby (stuffed animal Sarah).
  • The kids love their new chores for the year!
  • School verses: Micaiah -- 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Exodus 20:8-10, Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 3:5-6 ; Aolani -- Psalms 40:1-2, Philippians 4:6-7

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Mouths, Eyes, & Hearts Wide Open

  • First week of January: We started schooling again after a 12-week break; a friend visits overnight; and, we got to go a really neat (free) Compassion event with another family!
  • Second week of  January: My mom visited and did life with us — had one of my high school teachers that I was close to over for lunch, had some friends over for dinner and games, and visited our dear Romanian friends. 
  • Third week of  January: A normal week! Ricky did get to share about the Persecuted Church at our church this week; he usually does every four months :) 
  • Fourth week of  January: We had a busy week of hospitality! We had friends over for dinner twice, had a visitor for lunch, and hosted our church’s mission committee meeting. And, I turned 18 years old, spiritually ;)
  • School verses: Micaiah -- John 3:7, Matthew 6:24, Psalm 89:8, Ephesians 6:11 ; Aolani -- Psalms 46:1-2 & 62:1-2

Monday, January 29, 2018

Health Update

Symptometry —

Since I wrote a year ago:

[Recap: I had started taking molecules to improve circulation the last days of 2016, and they helped!]

However, we felt like we should get pregnant, and I could no longer take those molecules as they were not safe for pregnancy. I had to focus strictly on taking particulates and molecules for the baby. 

Then over the summer, I felt God urging me to stop taking the particulates and molecules from my Symptometry treatment. So I did.

We still try to eat scientifically as we feel better when we do.

I am regressing more quickly now than I did when I took the Symptometry treatment. I guess the treatment was slowing down my deterioration more than we realized. But I’m not going to start back and disobey God unless He directs me to begin again.

We do not know all of His reasons and purposes for directing me to stop after leading us to be on it for almost four years. However, we both feel as if my healing is coming swiftly, and last summer I began to feel His jealousy to receive ALL of the glory for my healing...

Restless Legs (RLS) — 

Right after birth I was able to decrease the amount of my prescription drug by a third!

Not wanting to take any medication, I started taking the L-Dopa supplement (naturally occurring in the velvet bean). I think it helps because I am now able to not routinely use the drug!

However, my legs get restless (and sometimes my arms) if I nurse in bed at night (clearly it’s hormone-related for me). So, we try to arrange my sleep with the baby’s 8-hour chunk to avoid breastfeeding in bed and interrupting my sleep.

Also, I am taking a warm soak every night before bed (it warms and relaxes my legs and gives me a quiet time to pray, recite Scripture, and talk to Ricky).

This whole routine is fairly new, so we are still working it all out. But now, my RLS is better than it was before I got pregnant, thanks to God for providing the L-Dopa :)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Month of Partying!

  • Our daily activities this month are here. Other happenings: 
  • First week of  December: Ricky got to go to the Marshallese Gospel Day Celebration (they celebrate the day Americans brought the Gospel to the Marshall Islands :) and was shown great honor; I had a successful postpartum appointment; a friend came to visit one day; we had some friends over for dinner; and we celebrated our first snow of the season with some friends (we ended up trapped there and had to have a family sleepover!) So fun!
  • Second week of  December: We had friends over for dinner; Ricky’s mom arrived for a 10-day visit (and got to meet Raphael :); got to go to a friend’s Hawaiian Christmas party (with baby); and, went to a dinner party with our small group. [We delivered our gingerbread cookies to a halfway house this year.] My MIL took Aolani to a hair salon to get her first real haircut, and she took both kids to the movie theater and on a carriage ride. 
  • Third week of  December: Ricky’s dad and brother came down to join us for movie night and our fancy dinner. Then Ricky’s mom flew out. We ventured to church for the first time since Raphael was born on Christmas Eve. We showed the kids the first old Star Wars movie (and they really liked it). 
  • Fourth week of  December: All of our Christmas Day activities are here (and we had three little Marshallese girls over as our party guests). It was really nice getting to host Ricky’s family for Christmas; they left the next day. We had a friend over to celebrate his birthday with dinner and a game. The next big event was on New Year’s Eve — Aolani had a sleepover with girlfriends at their house (and had a blast!), and we hosted the boys’ sleepover (lots of snacks, Lego marble run, Lego robot competition, Lego Ninjago movie).
  • On a side note, we have gotten a lot of use out of our queen air mattress -- a great purchase!
  • Raphael outgrew his newborn clothes and now weighs over 13 lbs. He sleeps through the night, meaning he sleeps one 6-9 hour chunk and 3-hour intervals after that. He sleeps in a bear suit at night. He is in his crib for the big chunk and then joins us in bed. I nurse him to sleep, and if he isn’t asleep after that then Ricky holds him until he gives up (usually a few minutes). He loves to be warm and swaddled. Raphael is very social and happy! Our smiliest baby! It's great having so many people to love on him and give him attention :) Pretty easy and laidback; he fusses a little when he is hungry, tired, or has a dirty diaper (cries only if his needs persist). And he loves to coo and talk :) Right now, he is not on a nursing or napping routine, but he sleeps a lot and nurses well! We are not in any rush with this as we know it’ll come; we are treasuring this time! He naps when he’s tired and will go in the crib. We let him suck his thumb during the day in his crib but not other times. He eats every few hours generally. I only feed him on one side each feeding to keep my milk supply regulated. Also, Raphael likes riding in the car and having his diaper changed. We are not sure about how he feels about bathtime because sometimes he likes it and sometimes not so much. He loves his whole family! He gained neck control, seems really strong and sturdy, and has a dimple on his right knee :) I believe all of his bodily functions are normal and regular, thankfully. He resembles Aolani in the face and Micaiah in the body. 
  • I’m going to take a break from memorizing new verses this year since I feel like I really need to solidify the verses I have already done. It’s definitely not for lack of verses that I want to learn, but I want to pause this year and be able to quote every verse without help before moving on and adding more. Not positive how I’m going to focus on that, but that’s my goal. I have a plan but it needs tweaking. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Resolutions for 2018

I got the idea of one resolution a month from Ann Voskamp. Not that I cannot do the other ones when it’s not the assigned month, but I like having just one thing that I need to focus on and accomplish each day. It’s not overwhelming that way and seems very feasible! I have too many resolutions otherwise. Plus, it’s said that it only takes 21 days of repetition for something to become a habit. I am not good at having abstract goals, so I put my planned action step for how I hope to do each one after stating my desire.

January --
Embrace my husband emotionally by offering him a sweet smile when he comes home and thank him for coming home.
February --
Engage my kids' ugliness by expecting the badness (disobedience, ungratefulness, whining, entitlement...) and complimenting them when they act or speak nicely instead of shaking my head and acting repulsed (my natural response).
March --
Be who I want to be by responding the way I will have wanted to when I look back on this moment in retrospect. 
April --
Believe for the unseen by praying while I nurse at night.
May --
Speak gratitude by verbalizing my thanks instead of pointing out when something doesn’t go my way (a rational, adult way of complaining). 
June --
Daily worship by listening to  one song a day and focusing only on the Worthy One in praise.
July --
Do literature delving by reading for just five minutes a day, alternating fiction and nonfiction,
August --
Let go of frustration by repeating myself kindly and asking again instead of exasperatedly saying how many times I have already asked or sarcastically thanking for not doing what I asked.
Learn the Scripture I already memorized by rehearsing two verses every waking hour. 
Live trusting God by restraining my anger when my felt needs are not being met.
Give presence to my kids at night by helping my husband put the older kids to bed, when possible.
Grow in grace by reading just one Bible chapter a day.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Holy-days {Advent & Christmas 2017}

[edited version of last year's Advent post]

Simple. Focused. Intentional.

That is our motto for this time of year.

If you want bunches of ideas for celebrating Christmas, you should probably go to Pinterest. We are more about cutting out a lot of the hoopla -- going for special and memorable (yes) but simple. It is Jesus' birthday; so, we focus on Advent ("waiting with hope") and then throwing a birthday party for Jesus. Simple as that. This was the second year we were home on Christmas Day! Here is what we did this month:

Devotions: Advent is where we put most of our emphasis, because what is this holy-day about if we do not prepare our hearts waiting for the Christ-child to come? We had our Advent wreath (carved out of wood, with 24 candle holes, and there's a movable donkey carrying Mary) out but did not use it regularly. This year, we used a new book -- All is Bright: A Devotional Journey to Color Your Way to Christmas (we alternated coloring a page one day and reading a page the next night).
Activities: We had company during most of this month and some rearranging, but it all happened! Sometime in the course of each day, we:
  1. Aolani hung an ornament we made two years ago on our Jesse Tree 
  2. Read a Christmas book. I arranged and stacked all of the Christmas books we own according to our schedule (I usually get two new ones every year). Then, I hid the stack and each night Ricky would put one out for the next day. 
  3. This year we did an Advent Activities Calendar. I came up with 24 things to do, one for each day leading up to Jesus' birthday. I adjusted the calendar so that the daily activities suited our monthly plans (i.e., we made the dessert for Micaiah the day before his birthday). We missed some days, but ended up working them in and just doubling up on other days. The list of this year's activities are below. Ricky would put the next day's activity in the bag at night.
  4. Schooling: I took eleven weeks off from schooling the kids (mid-October until after the new year), so we have time for a new baby, visitors, and Advent stuff.
  5. Our Advent devotional in the evening with Daddy (depending)
  1. Play hide & seek in a tree lot
  2. Make play-dough candy canes (didn't happen)
  3. Make paper snowflakes 
  4. Make pipe-cleaner poinsettias 
  5. Put together Christmas care package for missionaries 
  6. Invite family friends over to celebrate St. Nicholas Day by reading his biography and watching the Veggie Tales about him 
  7. Make snowflake window art 
  8. Act out the nativity story with friends
  9. Make white chocolate-covered pretzels
  10. Pick out Jesus’ birthday gifts (moved to Christmas day) 
  11. Make glitter globes 
  12. Watch Home Alone movie with friends 
  13. Make a birthday treat for Micaiah 
  14. Watch Christmas movie marathon
  15. Make and decorate gingerbread cookies 
  16. Watch The Nativity Story movie under blankets 
  17. Deliver cookies to a halfway house 
  18. Make and give apple bread to our neighbors (moved)
  19. Watch The Star movie in theater
  20. Go on a Christmas light scavenger hunt (in pajamas w/ a hot drink)
  21. Dance to Christmas music
  22. Have a "Fancy Dress" dinner and tea (we paid a friend to come over and cook an elaborate meal and dessert for eight people)
  23. Make a pillow bed on living room floor and watch Christmas cartoons 
  24. Make a birthday cake for Jesus 
  25. Throw Jesus a birthday party!
Decorations: Most noticeably, we do not have a Christmas tree. We are not totally against them; we just choose (for several reasons) not to erect one at this time. We have other items (ornaments, stockings, nativity sets...) on display and hanging around. We keep the Christmas music playing. Also, we simply hang the Christmas cards we receive on ribbon with clothespins. This year we decorated our house on the last day of November instead of the first day of December.

Treats: Our treats were almost daily this year -- banana pudding, cupcakes, gingerbread cookies, white-chocolate-covered pretzels, apple bread, gingerbread cake, ice cream, vanilla drinks, rosemary cornmeal cookies, gingersnaps, etc.

Presents:  This was our third year of doing it differently. Whereas we use to not exchange presents amongst just ourselves, we have asked our extended families to work in "Christmas presents" with other events -- like new year's or increase birthday or summer or a new school year or a visit or other holidays. We want to teach our kids that just as they get presents on their birthday, Jesus gets the gifts on His birthday (see Matthew 25:45) -- just keeping it simple (and imitating St. Nicholas!). After I had collected like a dozen gift catalogs over the past month or so, we spread them out, allotted each person an equal amount of money, and let them go! Yet, we do buy a few New Year's gifts for ourselves as a family and some friends that are to encourage faith and witness (such as Voice of the Martyrs' prayer calendars) for 2018. [Yes, our kids get gifts from us throughout the year as does Jesus, but we all know that birthdays are special for the birthday person ;)]

Christmas day activities and traditions: This has quickly become my favorite day of the year! First, we do all of our cooking for today the night before, so we can all sleep in some. Then, Ricky leaves to pick up our guests for our big meal and party (we pray much beforehand who to invite -- poor, needy, lonely...). After we eat and play, we sing Happy Birthday and have the cake before taking our guests home. Then, we went outside to talk about five gifts from God to give him thanksgiving. Afterwards, we did our annual scavenger hunt. This was so much fun again! This year we had seven clues, and the theme was Gifts we can give to God -- hearts/feelings, minds/thoughts, bodies/strength/clothes, dreams/hopes/plans/prayers, thanks, time, and money. There are more, those are just the ones we did. We finished the evening off playing games and eating leftovers:) And then we transitioned into picking out gifts to give Jesus. It was a great second Christmas-at-home doing what we wanted and look forward to next year!

Hope you had CHRISTmas joy in your celebrations and preparation for the coming of the King!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Merry CHRISTmas!

“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in My name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me does not welcome Me but the One who sent Me.”
Mark 9:37 

May Jesus be welcomed!

Ricky, Aidan, Aolani (almost 8), Micaiah (6), and Raphael (b. 10/25/17) DiMartino

Top fave posts of 2017:
Raphael's Birth Story
Raphael's Birth & Name Announcement
Help Enduring Suffering
The Jewel {poem}
Marriage in Light of Eternity {video}

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Bundles of Joy

  • First week of November: We mostly laid low at home with my mom still visiting. The older kids went to their friends' house for a play date and again for small group, and Ricky went to a church outreach meeting.
  • Second week of November: Another chill week. My mom went home; we had our pastor over for lunch one day; our church body begins bringing us dinner meals for the next six weeks (!); and, the older kids went on another play date while we took Raphael to the Chiropractor (no crying or waking, just rested on Ricky’s chest while being adjusted:).
  • Third week of November: More homebodiness, just friends coming over to visit and see the cute baby;)
  • Fourth week of November: We were able to go to my parents’ farm for a few days over Thanksgiving! Raphael is a great car rider; the kids got to play with their cousins; Raphael got to meet his aunt and uncle; and, I crashed and rested (life with a newborn)!
  • Aolani is so motherly and helps me take care of the baby. Her maternal instincts are sweet, and she feels important and big (which she is)! She is also becoming quite independent and strong-willed (disagrees and argues with me a lot :( ).
  • Micaiah's mishaps (actually Mommy’s mishap, a humbling tale): One day Aolani came to me to inform me (tattletale) that Micaiah’s giving jar was empty even though his spending jar was full of money (since they haven’t tithed recently, he must have taken the money from giving and put it in the toy jar -- see money jars). I turned to him and astonishingly say, "You stole money from God?!” Ignoring his firm denial and shaking my head in disapproval, I continued, "Even if Mommy didn’t see or find out, God sees and knows everything!” Then he burst into tears and kept saying that I wouldn’t listen to him. I assured him I would listen. He reminded me that he had given me all the money from that jar when we collected money to buy Bibles for Buddhists. That’s right! I felt the heavy weight of guilt. Micaiah is so quick to give, generous and tenderhearted! After apologizing for wrongly assuming and falsely accusing, I gave him a big hug and reminded him that God loves a cheerful giver :) 
  • Raphael did a lot of growing this month! He lost his umbilical cord on his eighth day, gained three pounds, turns and moves a lot when lying down, grew out of newborn diapers, is practicing neck control, and did his first laughs for Ricky and I separately over Thanksgiving break (melt my heart!). He is our little noisemaker, making all those sweet, precious newborn grunts and squeaks. During the first month of life, I focus on breastfeeding and establishing a strong nursing relationship since it will hopefully last at least two years. So we spent a lot of time in the recliner just resting and nursing and growing. My milk came in on day three, and I went straight into oversupply, which I anticipated since I was only nursing one child (I had it with Aolani). To combat this issue, I nurse on just one side for two subsequent feedings before switching to the other side. This way my body gets the message to slow down milk production. This month I am somewhat working on sleep and next month’s focus will be on trying to figure out a routine that will work well with our family’s life. Right now, Raphael is still sleeping in our bed at night, probably until he can sleep at least six hours straight before waking to nurse. (Ricky is extremely hard to wake, even with alarms, water, hitting, my shouting, baby wailing... So when the baby needs to eat at night, I need to be able to reach him because Ricky will sleep through it all!)
  • I have written lyrics to well-known lullabies for the kids (i.e., one, two, three), and here is Raphael’s (to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star):
Twinkle, twinkle little star Raphael is who you are Raphael, it’s God who heals Trust in Him, your heart He stills Don’t you know He loves you so Yes I know He loves you so Twinkle, twinkle little star Raphael is who you are 
  • I put in every shot of Raphael during this shoot (by my mom), even if it's not great, because I treasure each expression! He's 1-month old here.
  • Almost all of these pictures include Raphael; we all just can't get enough of cute, little, chubby squish!
  • Verses I memorized: Matthew 5:45-48