Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Unexpected Christmas

I love this take on Christmas.
We watched it with the kids last night at WOW Worship, which is the family-geared worship service that happens before their small group at church. It was a Christmas theme, clearly, as we are only days away from our favorite time of the year.

What I love about this, is the way the angels suggest things to God about how the person should act or who the person should be. Instead he says it should be a regular person born to regular parents. That's it. Plain and simple.

If only Christmas was that simple "these days." I mean it could be, but we don't let it. Watching this reminds me of the real reason we give, we prepare, we share our hearts…it's all because of Him.

And rightly so!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Know how much I love you?

To Pluto and then to the next galaxy, and then to Venus, and then to Earth, and then around the sun, and then back to Pluto, and then to Heaven, and then to the Moon and then back again. That's how much I love you, Mommy.

~C, age 7 tonight, around 6:00 or so

I love that kid. So much.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I'm a lucky girl

Yes, I am. Know why? Because of this guy:
Yes, that guy. Tonight he surprised me with my present for my 35th birthday. Here I was thinking it was a day at the spa (in my dreams!) or an overnight with him to somewhere (I had hinted at Chicago again). But no. He surpassed all of that with something even bigger. Something I NEVER would have thought about.

He said, "Close your eyes. No peeking, Nans style! Ok, open."
I open to see a suitcase.
Ok...we're going somewhere! Sweet!
"Any guesses?"
"Not really. It could be anywhere!"
"Ok, close them again. Now open."
I open and see When Harry Met Sally and Serendipity sitting on top of the suitcase. "No way. New York?!"
"Yes, New York!"
He surprised me with a 4 day trip to New York City.

I'm going here.
And here.
Yes, hopefully here too.
All because of him.

I am one lucky girl!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sometimes you need a pick-me-up

Some days are like that...
That's what Alexander's mom tells him in the book. I suppose that's true in real life, too. Some days are just like that. It doesn't matter what we do to change them. They just are.

Today wasn't what I would call "horrible." It just You know those days-you wake up, sit in a meeting, have some behavior issues (are we really talking about turd, fart, and poop in the classroom?), and then it's just eh. I had my moment of breakdown. That was bound to happen sooner or later. The rest of the day was ok.

Maybe it's because I don't see my family as much with school having started. Maybe it's because, you know, of being a girl. Maybe it's because I'm thinking about my mom and what we will find out this week. I'm not sure. Thank goodness for friends who listen to you. And for husbands that get you ice cream. And for kids who would rather you sleep with them than sleep with their stuffed animal (never has happened in our house, but the idea is nice).

Here's to NOT moving to Australia. Here's to a better day for tomorrow. Knowing that this "eh" kind of day happens to the best of us. Even when we're not prepared.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Defining something can be hard to do.
Defining something can also be easy to do.

Here...let's give it a try:

Ice cream is: sweet, delicious, my favorite treat
School is: fun, exciting, new
Love is: wonderful, indescribable, fulfilling

Now here's another definition for you-one that's been on my mind A LOT lately...

My mom is: loving, positive, giving, brave, forgiving, positive, a fighter, brave, a wife, positive, a sister,  brave, a mother-in-law, positive, a friend, brave...are you sensing the pattern here? Side note...the last time I "defined" my mom was when we had a 5 year survivor celebration. Interesting how words and events can come together. 

This is what we are dealing with right now, at this point in September of this year:
Do you see what it says on that container? Yup. You read it right. Chemotherapy waste-must be incinerated. Burned. No where else to go but up in smoke. We're back here again...doing this thing...after 8 years of not doing it. And in those 8 years I really thought we were done. I really didn't think we would be back here, sitting in this chair-
taking naps while the "icky" medicine attacks the sick cells to make mom better. Neither did she. Neither did my dad. Neither did anyone for that matter. No one wants to think it will happen again.
But back to the Definition of My Mom...brave and positive. Did you notice how many times that came up. It's because I think about it all. The. Time. Just how brave she is. How she marches into this chemo room, hoping that her corner chair is open (so she can see everything that's going on and all of her angels who sit with her can have enough room), ready to take on the medicine that will (in our minds) put her into remission for the time being-or at least shrink all of those ugly cancer spots to 1 or 2 instead of the many that spot her bones in her body. Brave. To know that her hair would fall out. To know that she probably couldn't taste. To know and understand that this time it's different. Brave. Because there isn't a way to really get rid of it. No surgery. No radiation. Just the medicine to fight those cancer cells tooth and nail. Oh...and prayer.
Did I mention that we are people of faith? If you know us, you would know that. We pray every night at our house. And Mamma is always a part of our prayers. Sometimes it's general like, "We pray that Mamma feels better." But sometimes it's specific like, "Please help the medicine fight off the cancer. Please help the doctors and guide them to know what's best." We pray. She prays. Dad prays. Friends and family pray. That brings me to that second word that came up again and again: Positive. Positive in all aspects.

When we first found out about this road we were (once again) going down, it didn't feel different than the last time. It felt the same: we will fight this. We will beat this. Nothing will stop us from getting rid of this again. Yes, there were tears. But there was NEVER, I mean NEVER the thought that this would be any different. You're reading between the lines-we never talked and still haven't talked about what is to come. Some may say that's denial. True, but when the doctor doesn't even tell you what's to come, why worry? As I was able to tell friends, some in person, others over the phone, some wondered, "What's the prognosis?" See, when you are surrounded by positivity and prayer, that doesn't matter. What matters is the here and now. What will they do for her? What's the treatment going to be like? Until the time comes where it is absolutely necessary to think about prognosis, we will spend our time and energy fighting and living our lives, thank you very much! 

Fighting something like cancer seems to be more uplifting when you have kids around. See, A & C weren't around the last time we fought this. In fact, at the tail end of Mom's chemo, we found out we were expecting. God works in those mysterious ways sometimes. You know, with the timing and everything. But now we have these 2 seven year olds who only know Mom as Mamma. They hug her and love her just the same as before. Before school started I brought them with to see what chemo was all about. We talked about the medicine. We talked about the port (A thought Mamma had her chest cut open to get her chemo, so it was a good visual to really see it in person). We had snacks (A's favorite part). And that was it! Seeing this through the eyes of children can change a person's perspective. That's because you can't dwell on it. The kids are moving on with activities and school. They know Mom goes in for treatments, but when they see her, they still talk to her the same as before she was sick. We don't talk about it in a "hush, hush" sort of way. We're really matter of fact about it. I think it helps us all.

So definitions...defining some things can be oh-so-hard, while others can be oh-so-easy. I know what it's like to try to define my mom because I see it and hear it every day. I only hope to be like her as I get older: to have the courage to fight anything that is presented to me. Because that's what she's doing. And I love her even more for it.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Interview with C at 7 Years Old

Who is your favorite person in the whole world? Mommy
What is your favorite color? blue
What's your favorite television show? Wild Krats
What's your favorite outfit? my Adrian Peterson jersey
What sport do you like best? baseball
What song do you love? That's What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction
What's your favorite cereal? Trix
Who is your best friend? Knut
What do you want to be when you grow up? a race car driver
What's your favorite book? Junie B. Jones books
What are you really good at? playing on my DS, baseball, and wrestling Daddy
Where do you wish to go on vacation? Hawaii
What is your best memory? visiting Oregon and Disneyworld
What would you buy if you had $1000? an iPad, an iPhone, and a few games for my DS
What vegetable do you hat the most? spinach & green beans
If you could have a wish, what would it be? probably to have a motorcycle
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Superman
Who is your biggest hero? Daddy
What do you like to do best with your friends? have playdates with them
What do you hope you'll get to do before your next birthday? play football with my friend, Knut

Interview with A at 7 years old

Who is your favorite person in the whole world? Jesus!
What is your favorite color? turquoise
What's your favorite television show? Arthur
What's your favorite outfit? a rainbowy-flower dress that ties behind my neck
What sport do you like best? tennis
What song do you love? Trouble by Taylor Swift
What's your favorite cereal? Captain Crunch (even though we never have it...Mamma Sue does though!)
Who is your best friend? Skylar
What do you want to be when you grow up? a vet and a professional gymnastics person
What is your favorite book? Pinkalicious
What are you really good at? the splits, swimming and snuggling Mommy
Where do you wish you could go on vacation? Disneyland
What is your best memory? being in Oregon
What would you buy if you had $1000? a horsey, even though my mom and dad probably wouldn't let me
What vegetable do you hate the most? lettuce
If you could have a wish, what would it be? to have one million dollars
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? cookie dough & fudge brownie
Who is your biggest hero? my daddy
What do you like to do best with your friends? play on the playground with them
What do you hope you'll get to do before your next birthday? to ride my horse at Camp Kici Yapi again

Saturday, August 17, 2013

How to impress the ladies

The other day while we were at the cabin, J and C were playing catch with the football. This is how the conversation went:

C: Dad, do you know how to impress the ladies?
J: No, Buddy. How do you do that?
C: Well, first you have to get a motorcycle. Then you have to get a ramp that is 11 feet high. Then you have to be able to do back flips off of it. And that's how you impress the ladies.
J: Ok-I'll have to remember all of that.

The funny thing about this conversation is this...When my mom and dad went on their first date my dad came to the house to pick up my mom. On a motorcycle. My grandma made him turn around to go back home and get a car because there was no way she was letting my mom get on a motorcycle with him! I love that story.

Just remember men...a motorcycle and a ramp. That's all you need! If only it was that easy...

Monday, August 5, 2013

How do you tell them?

How do you tell your kids that their Mamma has cancer? Yeah, I wasn't too sure either. But, leave it up to my mom to do the talking. She was great.

The kids know a little bit about mom having had cancer before they were born. They have seen pictures of her without hair. That's about all they really know about her being sick. I wasn't quite sure how they would take it since we haven't had anyone else in our family who has had cancer.

A was the first one to understand what Mom was saying...

A: So your cancer is back?
Mom: Yup.
A: I don't want your cancer to be back.
Mom: Either do I.
A: Will you loose your hair?
Mom: Maybe.
A: What else will happen?
Mom: They'll give me special medicine to help make me better. And I'll need lots of hugs to make me feel better.
*cue the hugs*

Through all of this, C didn't say much. That's kind of what I figured from him. He was more concerned about playing games on Mamma's phone, since that's what Mammas let you do, you know. Mom told A there was a book and she wanted me to read it to her right away. I think it helped a little bit, walking through the emotions we all might feel, how Mom might look different, etc. All of the appearance and how she feels stuff is yet to be seen. All I know is that her belly hurts-different from before-when nothing hurt at all.

The kids will definitely be a bright spot through all of this. They'll bring Mom back to a good place. On her down days, seeing them will bring a smile to her face. On her good days, they'll help make things even better (since gooder isn't a word).

A wanted to see Mamma's wigs from before. Mom already said she's not wearing any if she looses her hair. Good for her! I remember how hot and uncomfortable they were for her. A tried them on the head my mom still has. She was funny about not putting them on herself. :)

We will get through this season of life. Just like we did 8 years ago. It's crazy to think that 9 months ago everything checked out ok. That 5 months ago we were hyper-focused on the heart. And now we're here. AGAIN. Brutal. No one signed up for this. No one wants to be here. But here we are. And ready for the fight of our lives. So to you, ugly cancer spots, hear this:

We are ready to fight you! So to you, ugly cancer cells floating around...this time we are armed with 7 year olds who don't know any better. We have 7 year olds who will pray every day and every night for their Mamma. You don't stand a chance against us! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Camp Week

This week the kids are off to YMCA day camp. They're exhausted and loving every minute of this week. 
They're separated into different groups because A is doing Horse Camp with her friend Lydia. So C is doing "regular" Day Camp with his friend Henry. 
A is absolutely in love with her horse, Spud. In fact, last night she couldn't fall asleep because she kept thinking about her horse! They ride for one hour every day and do regular camp things in-between. There was a mix-up with groups at the beginning of the week, so she and Lydia ended up in a group with older kids. I think it's been ok for the girls. As a result they got to try kayaking and zip-lining yesterday! Wow!

C was really excited about archery yesterday. He got to tie-dye a pillow case today and tomorrow he gets to go canoeing! He LOVES his Fort Time and described it to J and I today as "high as the ceiling and as wide as 2 bus seats." It's great! And we got to see a picture of him in his fort today!
Day Camp has been WONDERFUL for our kids. They have made new friends and tried so many new things each day. They are not afraid to go off for the whole day to play, sing, swim and get dirty (we've done laundry every night this week!). I love that they love it! And...J and I get a whole week of full days to ourselves! I'm not complaining...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


I saw someone who stole from Target today. It was kind of weird. I felt like I was on one of those undercover news shows where they tape you to see what you would do in that situation. Well, I would have failed. I tried! I really did. But I still failed. Here's how it went...

I was just coming out of the baking aisle. Said boy (about 13 or so) was coming down the aisle. I went to my next destination-the candy aisle. I got my things and headed back to the main aisle. This is when the boy came up behind me and I heard the crunching of bags. He clearly had something in the front pocket of his oversized sweatshirt. I left my cart and walked to follow him. He knew it too. He kept glancing back at me.

It was at this moment that the red shirts parted. You know what I mean. Right? At any given moment you can look from one end of the store to the other and count no less than 2 red shirts and even upwards of 5 or 6, depending where you are in the store. Well, I looked up and no red shirts were to be found. None. Zilch. Zero. I'm not sure what I thought I was going to do as I followed the kid to the door. He definitely knew I knew. But without an extra Target team member to talk to, and having not actually seen the crime take place, I walked back to my cart with a pit in my stomach.

See, I've never been in a position where I actually knew something like that had happened. It was weird. And it was weirder still that I couldn't do anything about it. I just watched it play out in front of me. Which is why it felt like I was on a session of 60 minutes or 20/20 or Rossen Reports. I felt helpless. But wait-I feel even more helpless after what happened next.

So I finish my shopping and head to the front to pay. As I'm waiting to be checked out I tell the cashier the story. She finds a lead team member and I tell her. She asks if the boy was short. I told her he was and described him further. "Oh yeah. He's already been in here today. There's nothing we can do about it." Excuse me? Nothing? Really? So anyone who is just stealing candy or one other item of lesser value can just do it and nothing happens? I find that hard to believe. Really. Really Target? Really.

So there you have it. My experience tonight with a 13 year old boy walking into Target, stealing, and no one being able to do anything about it. I think I'll be calling my local police non-emergency number tomorrow to see what can really be done. Really.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

And it's the end

Well at least for this year.

I got to spend the last 171 days with the group:
This wonderful, amazing, funny, smart, spirit-filled group of kids is what I got to go to work for every morning. Aren't I lucky? I think so too. Some years aren't like that. But this year was. And I am grateful. Forever grateful to have had these kids as students over the last 9 months. Their parents too-for every great year inevitably has great parents supporting me and their child every step of the way.

I love teaching because of them
and them
and them.
Then there's these two
and this group
and this one.
I love them as if they were my own. They are. For about 6 and a half hours a day. I have 22 kids. And I love them dearly. I love what I do. Not many people can say that every day!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Words from J

I love coming across old emails. Often times they are the ones I keep because there's something about them. I came across one of them today. 

J wrote these words on a Friday before he was going away for an annual boys' weekend. They're never my favorite weekends because he's gone. I'm completely spoiled like that because he doesn't travel for work. I always wonder how different life would be if he had a different job. It would be part of our life-his leaving on business trips and such. But for now, that's not how it is, so our family isn't used to having him gone. Clearly he felt the love before he left...

It is very humbling and heartwarming to have your son hug you like that when you're going to leave, not to mention so many hugs and kisses from your wife ;)

The abundant love you 3 give me on a constant basis makes me incredibly happy.

Just wanted to tell you that you all mean the world to me, and I feel so very blessed & lucky.

I am also blessed and lucky. Every. Single. Day. Because of him!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I am a mom

I am a mom because of these two.
Because of these two.
Because of these two.
I am a mom because of her.
Because of her.
Because of her.
I am a mom because of him.
Because of him.
Because of him.
I am a mom.
And I love every second of it.
Good or bad.

Happy or sad.

It's who I am today.

And forever.

 ...some photo credit to M Photography...

Friday, May 10, 2013

She's only 6.

I have to remind myself of that sometimes. She is only 6. Sometimes she may seem like she's 6 going on 10 or even 16, but really, she's 6 going on 7.

Tonight we tried a sleepover. One of those milestones, really. You know, the, "You're such a big girl now!" kind of things. It was her first one with a friend. It was just the 2 of them. She went to the friend's house early evening and was ready to go. See?
Yes, pillow in hand, dolls ready to play, blankie, Friendly and Pinky all ready to snuggle. Everything was set. And then the phone rang. Just before 10:00. Sobbing on the other end. "Mommy...please come and pick me up! I just want to come home. I want you and Daddy to pick me up and then I can be with you and sleep!" Reasoning with a sobbing 6 year old on the other end of the phone, on a Friday no less, is impossible. Both J and I tried talking to her with no avail. Lori tried coaxing her back into bed for another 15 minutes and then another phone call-we were on our way to pick her up.

I kept going through the situation in my head. Did I do that when I was little? How old was I the first time I slept at a friend's house? What does Lydia think? What does Lori think? I didn't prep her enough. We never talked about what to do if you're scared. It didn't even cross my mind that she would react this way. Think about her personality: outgoing, loud, talkative, social, happy...all things that would direct a parent into thinking she would be fine at a friend's house. A good friend's house, no less. Lydia is someone who we practically spent the summer with at the pool. It seemed like a logical first sleepover.

But maybe she wasn't ready.

Maybe my 6 year old wasn't ready. My spunky, outgoing, fearless honey wasn't ready. J started taking a different angle...think about her and nightmares, movies, scary music, scary characters in books...and it makes a little bit of sense. I suppose there are those things that at night, when you are cozy in your own bed, they don't seem quite as bad. But if you're at someone else's house where you don't have a fan or a sound machine (oops), you hear all of the different noises in the house. You hear your friend breathing. You're not so sure about where you are anymore. Maybe that was it.

It's a tough position to be in as a parent. You want to be gentle so as to not scar your child for life. You want them to want to have sleepovers with friends. But on the other hand you also want them to understand how it feels on the other side; to be able to say, "I'm sorry it didn't work this time."To think about the other person and their family too.

But then again, she's only 6.


This certainly isn't the first parenting moment when I go crazy with scenarios. And it certainly won't be the last. All I know is I have a sleeping 6 year old girl who hasn't moved in her bed since I tucked her in, kissed and hugged her, said I love you, shut off the light and closed the door. I hope Lydia is doing the same right now.
And we'll definitely "try it again another time, (Mommy)." Love you sweet nugget.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ride your bike!

That's what we did today. We rode our bikes. But not just around the neighborhood. We rode them to school! It was national ride your bike or walk to school day. What a great thing to do! It was a big deal where I teach. Over 300 kids participated. There was the Wellness Committee waiting with stickers and oranges to give to the kids and adults participating.

My own kids rode their bikes to school too. We got there are hadn't realized that the bike rack wasn't even out yet! We had to lock our bikes up against the fence. I even considered leaving them by a tree without locking, but we were advised not to.

But here you'll see locks weren't really an issue.

There were so many bikes EVERYWHERE! Love it. I think we're going to try and do this once a week until school's out. Doable, I think. Don't you?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

First of the Season

We were here today for the first time this spring...
and we loved every minute of it! I picked the kids up from school and offered the idea of a picnic dinner if they finished their homework first. They were all for it. We were on our way 30 minutes later, picnic packed, ready to go.

We walked a bit at first to get to our usual spot. We forgot a blanket so we had to settle for a table. But it wasn't too bad, with a view of the lake and all. We watched the ducks, all of the dogs and puppies going for walks, and I watched as A & C scarfed down their dinner with the promise of ice cream to come.

The ice cream did come soon after-

and we had our first casualty of the summer. C licked his ice cream right off his cone and onto the ground. Boo-hoo. Really, he was very teary-eyed and almost started bawling right there. It can be hard for a little boy to lose his ice cream. Clearly we are out of practice.

After many licks later, the cones were gone and we were off to the playground. Not too bad for a school night!

They love the climbing net they have. I can't even begin to count how many times they went up and down. C even turned down the opportunity to play capture the flag with another little boy. That's how much he loves to climb!

On our way back to the car we were prepared to buckle up, start driving, and be on our way. That is until we saw a fox! A and I saw it first, walking across the road to the lake. She said, "C! Did you see that?! It's a fox!" Nope. He didn't see it. He was already in the car. So she climbed in, told him to get out, and he and I ran to see where the fox went. People were gathering by where it should have been. We kept a bit of distance (never encountered a fox in the open before) and waited. Pretty soon it comes trotting up the little hill, onto the walking path, then the bike path, with dinner in the mouth. We think it was a duck or a fish or something. We're not quite sure, because it was trotting in our direction. Needless to say, I turned around quickly and walked back to the car, looked back to see if it was still following, as it crossed the street. Quite the adventure as we were leaving!

The kids watched it in the woods as we drove slowly along the side, watching the crows begin to circle, hoping for the fox to drop said dinner. Then it disappeared.

All in all it was a great first visit to the Lake! We can't wait for many more to come...visits to the fairy house, bike rides, concerts to see, more playground time...the list is endless!