Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chuck Is Back!

The delight for both John and I to have Chuck back in our living room was enormous last night. We were downright giddy as we watched him, Sarah, Casey, Morgan, and the rest of the gang lead us through an hour of super-fun entertainment.

I can't guarantee that every aspect of this show is kid friendly, but the humor mixed with adventure sure is a welcome change from the many repeat-styles of network programming.

Welcome back, Chuck! And, I hope that for those of you that are new to meeting him - or plan to meet him soon, you enjoy him as much as we do!

Monday, September 29, 2008

What My Dad's Been Up To

Time to put up a new post in a hurry. I can tell by the very kind responses, that I turned yesterday into a bigger deal than it was - and probably created questions in people's minds like I've felt when I've read similar blogs from other people. Could she be talking about something I did? Nope. Don't worry. Feel free to email me if you're really curious.....

This morning, Nancy and I went to see the projects that my dad has been busy working on for quite some time. They are two houses (family related) situated on property in the Coburg foothills - and they are very impressive. The move-in dates are coming up within the next couple of months for both of them (sooner for the other) and so I wanted to check out the progress and Nancy wanted to see the design ideas and craftsmanship. It's always fun showing off what my dad is able to do to other people. I've grown up knowing he's talented and I guess I take it for granted. He's gifted, that's all there is to it.

Unfortunately, as I was snapping pictures, I didn't really focus in on some of the most impressive parts that my dad was responsible for - rather, things I liked about the house that would make me want to live there. Forgive me, Dad!

This is the water feature in front of the bigger house - this picture only shows part of it-

And, here is part of the water feature in the back yard as well as the view - hmmm, not bad-

A picture of Dad showing Nancy what it took to do all the woodwork in this house-

My favorite feature - this hot tub is only accessible from the master bedroom - on its own little deck, ahhhh, the view, the luxury............

Ignore the dust on this picture, but it is demonstrating the light fixture in which the chains were welded into place to suspend it - and the beams within the kitchen are only there to hide the wires to bring electricity to that chandelier....

This is a snapshot of the exterior of the smaller house, situated just a short walk from the other one-

And, finally, a picture from the second level looking down into all of the woodwork of the kitchen in the second house.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Feeling Wronged

I'm not in a very good place right now as I'm writing this. I'm angry, upset, and feeling more than a little wronged by a couple of circumstances that occurred today. I probably shouldn't even bother writing, as it will undoubtedly arouse questions or guesses that may or may not be accurate, but given how therapeutic I find this blog to be sometimes - I'm gonna go ahead and do it anyway.

I should point out, first off, that I really don't have a big issue with anger. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, don't "boil" easily, etc., etc. I'm thankful for that, because this really isn't a pleasant feeling.

Secondly, for the record, let me say that these "mysterious offenses" were in no way meant to damage me - or should I necessarily take them personally. There will be no apologies, because circumstances wouldn't merit them. People and circumstances are what they are - I knew that going into them - and I need to deal.

Perhaps that's what I'm most bugged about. I want someone to say, "You know that wasn't right", but it isn't gonna happen. I could issue a big protest, but I guarantee, it really wouldn't do anyone any good. It's not even retribution I want - I just wish that people could sometimes see the bigger picture and how it affects people vs. the here and now, which sometimes just means the selfish gain.

So, as I sit here writing, I have to take it full circle and recognize what I'm meant to learn from today. Here's what I'm working on:

1.) First of all, facing "opposition" today should come as absolutely no surprise. John gave his testimony in all three church services today - and he did a phenomenal job. I believe it was the most comfortable I've ever seen him - and as a result - it just flowed. Well done, honey! However, as a result of his ministry opportunity - I found myself dreading the day. Dreading dealing with both kids in early service (comprised primarily of older people) as they wanted to be with me "to watch their daddy" but really that meant messing around for 60 minutes. I walked out of service thrilled for John but very upset with the kids. I also walked out in a hurry because I had to get Brayden changed for his game and head to an "un-ventured to" school and do something as a team parent (in terms of keeping stats) I'd never done. All this left me very unnerved and feeling quite selfish myself. EXACTLY what the ENEMY would want to do to take away from the victory John achieved and the bigger picture with what was accomplished.

2.) Second, my self-centeredness is just one of many things that I myself suffer from, so as I'm seeking to harbor bitterness towards others, I better start cleaning out my own heart. Could pride have a play in this? Perhaps. Could my own weaknesses or those of my own family be causing some of this anger? Yep. There's a whole lot of house-cleaning that needs to be done in my own heart right now.

3.) I need to, once again, return to managing my expectations appropriately. Many times I find myself hurt, I could have seen it coming. Sometimes people flat-out tell you how it's gonna be with them - and if you expect more, you'll be let-down. With others, it doesn't take rocket science to realize if you expect the opposite of what you've seen a person do over and over again, you're pretty much the fool.

So, there you go. Pretty much I need to get over it, and actually get around to doing some literal housecleaning (and perhaps focus on my heart-housecleaning while I'm doing it). I'm frustrated with myself that I'm allowing these things to spoil such a beautiful autumn afternoon and the happiness that my husband feels from sharing his heart in front of a congregation, so it's time to end the attitude and get on with a smile.

Thanks for listening to me rant. I know we've all been there, and it helps to know I'm not the only one who's fallen into this pit before.

As a bit of P.S. - I just got this awesome phone call from my daddy who wanted to address another key point in our book discussion today regarding THE SHACK. Whadyaknow, but it happens to center in on forgiveness and love of others..... Nice timing Dad - I sure love you!!!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Apple Day

Today was "Apple Day" for the first graders at the school - which takes me back in time to when Brayden was there and I stood outside in the damp fog for the same celebratory occasion. That's why I knowingly volunteered to do the art project "indoors" - but, yet, still got thrown outside with more parents than needed to supervise the cider press. (The art project came later).

Fortunately, due to the chill I'm already dealing with with this cold, I dressed very warm and spent the majority of the time talking to my friend and neighbor, Kristen.

Despite the temperatures- it was still a priceless experience and I was happy to have Mikayla enjoy such fun. The pictures show her washing the apples, having the parents cut them up, turning the cider press - and then one in her classroom. Happy Apple Day everyone!




Thursday, September 25, 2008

Go Beavs!

I'm sitting here watching the Beavers up 14-zip over the #1 nationally ranked USC Trojans. Man, do I love football - especially when the underdogs show such heart and they are one of our state teams. I make no apologies for being a big Beaver fan up until they play the Ducks.

I've still got one of those colds that leave you kind of chilled and stuffed up and sneezy - but at the same time, is weirdly cozy - particularly with the new Gooseberry Patch cookbook in my lap (making me crazily want to volunteer to cook for Thanksgiving - someone needs to talk some sense in to me in a hurry....) - and a Yankee "Mom's Apple Pie" candle burning. Good times, however, I have to say, I bet Michael and Michele are having even better times being in Reeser stadium during such a potential upset....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Slightly Different Worship

I have to admit, I wasn't completely sold on the Bible Study I had chosen after the first week. It's a larger group (about 20) that gathers to watch an hour long Beth Moore DVD and then we discuss and pray. I appreciated the idea that it was no homework - the reason why I chose it. However, the group was quite diverse and the hour seemed very long while watching, so I thought I'd give it just one more try.

This week, the first fifteen minutes (as they always are) were devoted to worship with all of the Bible Studies - however, this time Amy W. led the worship. She chose songs I loved and sung them in a key I could access somewhat respectably. A grand start. In addition, a very disabled woman was seated next to me, and watching/listening to her sing, it really struck me just how precious that sound was to God - a little bit like the last penny given by the widow - the work this woman took to get here and participate, how the Heavens rejoice by such an effort.

Down in the room we congregate in, many of the same women returned, which I found very encouraging. One in particular, named Dawn, brings her 4 month old daughter with her, "Callahan". Callahan and I exchanged eye contact last week and it was as if she had magnetic powers that drew me to her. When the DVD begun this week, I actually got up and moved so I could sit next to her - and then, joy of all joys, hold her.

Now, I'm not a huge baby person - UNTIL they start to "connect" with you. Callahan had reached that point - and looking at her - her looking at me, stealing glances to her mommy that she ADORED, and listening to her coos and laughs - that was worship to me. SO PRECIOUS! No, Stephietoo - I'm not more inclined to have another one, but all of a sudden, I can see the merit of being a grandma, when you have that time to devote just to your "love" without the rest of life telling you it needs to be taken care of as well.

So, long story short - I'm sticking with the Bible Study. I truly believe it's where I'm supposed to be.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

So Soon?

Today when the alarm rang, I wasn't ready to get out of bed. You'd think this would NOT be surprising, but lately I've been getting to bed at a decent enough time, and catching up on weekends, that I actually wake myself up prior to the alarm. However, this morning, I hit the snooze and actually dreamed that there were a couple inches of snow outside and I was desperately trying to type in the web address to the "Valley Information Network" (or whatever it's called) to figure out if the kids had to go to school or not.....

Once I dragged myself up out of bed, the source of this extra fatigue made itself clear. Stuffy nose, irritable throat, that congested head feeling - yes, that would be the first cold of the season. Three weeks of school and here we go- Mikayla has already had it this week, so it all makes sense.

Hopefully a couple of Advil and 24 hours will make all the difference-

Monday, September 22, 2008

The First Day of Autumn

Every year, at just about this season, I have a strong need to hunker down with a cozy fire, some good friends, some new recipes to indulge in, and a day free of laundry and housecleaning. This year, in order to accomplish all of those goals, I invited my buddies to come over with their "work in tow" so that they could sit in my living room and get all of those loose-end scheduling, paperwork, laptop work, etc, etc, done. We had folks working on their planners, folks organizing recipes, folks working on online scrapbooking, and yes, Amy was even doing faxes from my house.
I made a ton of high carb, high calorie food (I've taken the last three days of from my heavy-duty discipline, it's been fun, but tomorrow, I'm back on track) - and it was delicious. I did build a fire, it's been awesome hearing the wood crackle - and more people showed up than I thought, which was great. I ended up having Lisa Q, Lisa S, Susan, LINDA!!, Steph H., Amy, and Nancy over for different parts of the day. I wish we could do days like this every week......

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Worthy of Watching

Here is the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCnAjel02lM

TOOOOOO CUTE!

video

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Goods and the Bads

Ducks 32, Broncos 37 - Sigh........

There were some definite highs and lows to today's game-

BAD: our kids (this is the second and final game of the season they are attending) were a little squirrely for the first half
GOOD: we all got to sit together for the second half and the kids spent the majority of the time next to the wall - playing wonderfully together

BAD: our FOURTH string quarterback (forced to play because the first three have already been injured) did his best, but couldn't pass to save his life (to the angst of our entire stadium)
GOOD: too late, we discovered that our FIFTH string true-freshman QB (who had hoped to be red-shirted) is a brilliant passer and could be quite the guy to watch for the next four years (provided he doesn't get benched due to a knee injury, concussion, shoulder injury, busted ankle, etc., etc., etc.)

BAD: our THIRD string quarterback was taken out (in one of the first possessions) because of a "personal foul" hit by the other team - which certainly changed the entire scope of the game
GOOD: when their player went down, seemingly unconscious and unmoving - I've never heard the stadium so silent (mid-game). Our players were respectful, taking a knee, the fans were respectful (finally) and when the player came-to and walked off, he received a standing ovation - one of the few times I've been proud of our fans

BAD: and speaking of fans - man can they be ruthless, moronic, and nasty. Some of them have no clue what they're talking about and others don't even know where they're at because they're so stinkin' drunk
GOOD: these same fans helped to completely turn the game around and pull us within five when we were introduced to the new quarterback - another prideful Autzen moment.

Sure, it was a loss - and a bit depressing. But, I never thought this team (particularly after first-string QB Costa got hurt) was headed for the national title. What we did learn from this game is that you can never quite count this team out. They have heart. They can turn it around. They can come a long way in a short amount of time. They took a game that at the 3rd quarter was an utter embarrassment to a nail-biter in the final minutes. A lot could have happened differently that would have given us the win, but if you have to take a loss - this was a respectable one.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Two Steph's, Two Lisa's, and a Nancy


Back in the summer, when we were all discussing things that we'd be doing while the kids were at school in the fall, one mom talked about wanting to take on passions that she'd long ago pursued, but have abandoned because of the kids (in her case, riding horses). It got me thinking that I really ought to devote at least a day a month and hit a hiking trail - hopefully with the company of some girlfriends. So, much to my delight, four ladies joined me today (as well as Sydney) to hike the loop around Sahalie and Koosah Falls. It's one of my favorite hikes, and I was tickled that no one else had done the three mile hike before.


I was also desperately hoping to see some of the foliage turn colors as that is really a magical sight to behold along the McKenzie River Drive. While we're still a bit early, I wasn't disappointed.

About half way through the hike, you come out at Carmen-Smith Reservoir. It's a perfect stopping point to have lunch and, for Syd - go swimming. I was shocked at how calm the ducks were around her - when she got super close, they honked at her, but that was about it. Apparently, the could sense that my dog is really more of a lover than a fighter.



All in all - a fantastic day with the ladies - all of us able to drop off our kids and then be back in time to pick them up again after school. Thanks gals, you made my day. Now, the only question is - where to next month?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

If You've Ever Felt Like a Bad Mom.....

Then, I suggest you go to this website:

http://www.5minutesformom.com/faithlifts/2008/09/15/learning-to-obey/

I've really been enjoying this devotional site, although today's was a bit convicting about the tug-of-war women often play with their husbands regarding cleaning their husband's personal space. Hmmm, I remember quite a little argument on this end regarding a certain Starbucks Barista machine brought home from Mens' Round-Up that sat in a bin in our kitchen for several days because I didn't feel like it was my job to clean it up. Yeah, today's post pretty much hit home.

As did the other post that I linked you to. Somehow there's a bit of truth in "misery loves company" and knowing we all fail and yet we get fresh, new chances every day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Is This Week Dragging, or What?

Mikayla woke up today asking, "Is today Friday?". Oh honey, I wish. It feels like it should be. Brayden had a bit of a melt-down last night (because of lack of free time after practice - by the time he got home, he pretty much had to go to bed). I wanted to say, "Hang in there, we're almost to the weekend" - but that would be a lie. I can't start saying that until at least Thursday!

Today I'm home, with the intention of getting the house spic and span - but as you see, I'm already diverted to the computer. Hopefully, I'll find my groove soon.

Any fun plans for you readers for this weekend? We'll be taking the kids to the Boise State game and then Brayden's football game on Sunday..... It's looking like the weather will be gorgeous. However, I am ready for the temps to drop a good 10-15 degrees.

Hang in there through the rest of the week!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sticky Situation

Brayden came home yesterday in a very bad mood, fighting tears because someone is harassing him during recess. He's forced to cater to what this person wants to do and often misses out on playing with his friends freely as a result. To some extent or another, this has been going on for well over a year and I have stayed out of it, but after yesterday, I feel like I ought to do something.

Now before you go thinking I'm a bad Mom for not stepping in earlier, let me explain to you who this person is and why it's a problem. I'll call her "Annie", and she is a special-needs student. For well over a year she's had a bit of an obsession with Brayden, believing/longing for him to be her boyfriend and play exclusively with her. Brayden tends to be very proactive and compassionate with special needs kids (as well as younger kids) so I imagine, in the beginning, he was nice and polite, but over time has worked very hard to give off appropriate signals to let her know he's not interested. Last year, he even had a "girlfriend" (nothing more than a title - she's since moved away), and that was interesting as Annie was bothered by this girl and it ended up that Brayden and his "girlfriend" would play with her/appease her together.

Obviously, the situation is sticky. I feel like Brayden will come off as the "bad guy" regardless of what option we pursue, but on the other hand, I do feel like this is a bit of a harassment issue - albeit rather "reverse" from what we normally consider. I didn't have a whole lot of great answers for Brayden yesterday -

Fortunately, as I'm now finishing this post, I had the opportunity to talk to his teacher about the situation and she seemed very sympathetic, wrote a few notes, and assured me she'd take the concerns to the right people. I imagine it won't leave Annie very happy, but boundary determination is probably part of what she's needing to grasp, and hopefully this can be a positive learning experience.

My poor boy, certainly not a situation I would have expected to have to counsel him on......

Monday, September 15, 2008

Establishing Routine

We're doing it....this marks the third week of the kids' school and the first full week (barring any emergencies or illnesses) for all of us. (They skipped last Monday due to Dad's heart attack). Already, I'm finding myself aware of how positive little steps at creating routines can be for us - and ways that I can prepare on the time without the kids that make things so much better for the time with kids. Here's a few things that have really made a difference:

- Laying out and ironing all the clothes that the three of us will be wearing for the week (I'm not fanatical about ironing, it's just that I'm terrible about taking clothes out of the dryer on time, so everything is wrinkled to start). This even includes the clothes that I'll wear to work out, and thinking through what I might be doing (i.e. Bible Study, get-together with ladies) that would require me to change from said work-out clothes. It sounds terribly anal, but I can't believe what a stress reducer it is for me to wake up and not have to think or scatter around for what to wear or what to put the kids in.

- Having kids awake and dressed by 7, then allowing 7-7:30 be their "Curious George" eat and slowly wake up time. This year, I've realized how smart it is to turn the tv off exactly at 7:30 - which prevents the children from being mesmerized my another show ("Syd the Science Guy" which, just because it is not allowed to be watched (time) - they are utterly fascinated by it and continue to ask, "just this once" - not givin' in). You'd think 10 minutes would be plenty of time to get teeth brushed and shoes on, but you'd still be surprised - we're still working at the efficiency on that end.

- Having snacks pre-made and ready to grab. Our school has a very strict nutritional policy on snacks, but also is very suggestive that you pack them. The first weekend, as per Brayden's request, I made a bunch of zucchini bread, cut it up into pieces, put them in ziplocs and threw them in the freezer. I'm so loving grabbing that stuff and shoving it in their backpacks without stress.

- For me, going immediately to the gym (i.e. "DO NOT PASS GO"). If it is in my mind that it has to happen right off, even if it's cut short by an activity, it's much more likely to happen.

- The tv not to be turned on until everyone has completed their homework in the afternoon. This sounds like it should be a given, but my son is actually much more pleasant if he's given some "personal time" to wind down playing a game or something. But, once again, I'm sticking to it, if they see it as a "given" without compromise, we'll end up with lots less fighting about getting it done later.

- Being consistent with the time the kids are supposed to start preparing for bed, and then actually be laying in bed. This is probably our least successful area, but we're working on it. Perhaps now that Round-Up, San Francisco, and Dad's Scare are over, it might become a bit easier.....

I think if I were to read a post like this by someone else, I'd find the author to sound very "full of themselves" and posting about unnecessary rules. So, I want to point out that I'm not much of a rules person and actually following some for a change (for the kids and myself) is kind of new deal. It's reducing stress, helping me feel more "in control" and seems to be making the transition into school time better. Of course, I'm sure, I'll be the first to mess them all up, but so far, so good.

Now, what things are you finding to be helpful for your family at this time of year?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Four for Four

I told Michele on the way home from Brayden's football game today that it probably won't often happen that everyone we are rooting for over the weekend wins. Traig's soccer team won, 7-1 (that was a fun experience to watch, he literally plays soccer right across the street from their house in the fields next to the Aquatic Center - really sweet), the Beavers won 45-7, the Ducks won 32-26 (what a nail-biter!!!!! - I was such a basket case watching it by myself at Michele's house while they were at their game) and finally, Brayden's football team won their first game (against their supposedly hardest opponent) 14-0.

Every event won't end this sunny and positive, for sure, but it was a wonderful way to spend an Indian Summer weekend. Way to go, guys!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Really? You're Serious?

When I mentioned to Mikayla that I planned on decorating the house Friday, she was a little bummed she wouldn't be able to help, but excited nonetheless. I didn't think much about it, heck, I was excited, I'd tried to prep my schedule and the house all week so I could pull out the "Harvest Bins" of decor and go to town.

Now, for those of you bothered (like Michele) that it isn't even autumn, my argument is that it is "harvest season". That's what I'm decorating for - and the leaves are turning color. Besides, I love this time of year so much that I'm willing to put up with any scorn for decorating early just to have the warm-fuzzies when I walk into my house and see it filled with colors of gold, crimson, and browns and smelling like a Yankee Harvest candle.

When I went to pick up the kids at school, the first thing Mikayla said was, "Did you decorate the house?". I was a little worried that she was upset I'd done it without her, but oh no, I guess she was wound up all afternoon that "she couldn't wait to go home" to see what I'd done. Her teacher reiterated this, even suggesting she was a little worried that Mikayla might not be able to focus on her art project because she was so excited (this surprised me - and made me realize how comfortable Mikayla is with her teacher if she's already demonstrating some of her exuberance in class - she tends to be very proper and shy in class until she's totally comfy there).

So, when we got home, the kids walked in and I swear, they walked around as if they were in Disneyland. I was shocked. It's not even Christmas stuff and it isn't THAT much, but to them it represented "cozy" and got them excited about Halloween and things that they hadn't seen for 8 months (like the crimson bean bags and sofa pillows). There was lots of "Brayden, did you see this?" and "Mikayla, come here!". It was so rewarding and surprising to me, I couldn't get over it. I think we, as moms, are so used to doing things around the house without our children's praise (I mean, do you ever hear, "Mikayla, get a load of the way Mom put away all my underwear!" or "Brayden, did you see that Mom got rid of that pink ring around the toilet bowl?") - that when they show appreciation, it's almost overwhelming.

Unfortunately, I found THEM overwhelming by the time the evening came. I was confused as to where my irritability had come from, as I'd had a divine day decorating - filled with all sorts of fun feelings - that by the time the three of us were in the car driving to Michele's (John's gone on a very rare work trip to San Francisco overnight and I'm watching Traig's soccer game and the kids while the Michael and Michele go to their OSU game) - I felt like the noises from the kids in the backseat were like fingernails on a chalkboard. Is anybody else feeling this way? They weren't spending the whole time arguing, but the loud bursts of noise, occasional bickering, and general hyperness had me reeling. I couldn't get to Michele's fast enough to unleash them upstairs with their cousins and retreat to my book for a little quiet time.

Anyway, there's the story of finding myself shocked by my kids' appreciation. What a nice shock to have.....

And, by the way, these pics are for Hollie. Nothing special, but most of it is very cheap in terms of cost, so if you feel like copying any of it, it sure won't cost a fortune.



Thursday, September 11, 2008

Things I Learned While Pruning My Bushes

I can't say that I particularly love the chore of pruning. I neglect it, dread it - and then have to make up for my delay by working even harder. Funny how that pretty much matches the figurative use of the word "pruning" for me as well..... I'm don't really enjoy being pruned or pruning others (challenging people in areas that need to be corrected), I sometimes delay doing it (or accepting the change needed in myself), and I always realize the longer I wait to address a change - the harder it is. With that in mind, here are some "nuggets" I came up with while dealing with this unpleasant chore.

1. It's always best to use the right tools when pruning.

Today, the clippers I used weren't as sharp as they have been in the past (probably because I tried to take down a major tree limb when they weren't equipped for that). It made me aware that the cut isn't as clean and sometimes tears can happen which would probably not make for the healthiest plant (in this case, this bush doesn't care, but you get my point). The same applies for the right technique. If I set to "prune" my son (i.e. - address a need that could be corrected, or area in his life that needs to be improved), I have many different ways I could do that. The right technique (tool) however, will result in the "cleanest cut" offering the least amount of hurt and resistance. Gentle words, appropriate timing, a firm trust previously established...... all positive techniques vs. how we can set about "pruning" in others (often our spouses) with harshness, anger, bad timing, or sarcasm - not such a good result.

2. While it may appear easier when tackling a big pruning job, to get right to the heart of the bush and cut one of the main "arterial branches", you may take off more than you want and steal away a lot of the beauty.

Trust me on this one - I did just that - on one of our more obvious bushes. It got me thinking that sometimes we want to generalize an issue - or attack someone on a big scale and it can lead to a huge gaping hole of hurt in the relationship. How much more effective is it to stay on top of our own pruning, or the problems we have with others by tackling the chore little by little as it comes.

3. Once you've done the pruning, the job isn't over.

Actually, if pruning was just about snapping with those big ol' shears, I might find it kind of fun. But, it involves clean-up - gathering up all those "now dead" branches and hoisting them into the bin. But, certainly, the job would not be done if I left the mess behind. The same applies to relational pruning, when you make a cut (even with the right technique) and risk straining your relationship by doing so, make sure you are around to do the clean-up as well - offering support, strategies, accountability, and most of all love to the person you are challenging.

So, that's it on the "deep thoughts from Steph" - next week look for "Lessons Learned from Cleaning Out the Garage" - just kidding!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Seeing This in the Mailbox.....


....I can't even begin to describe the "warm cozy" endorphine rush that it gave me! I LOVE the feeling of this time of year - not the stress of back to school, but certainly the crispness of autumn and anticipation of so many amazing traditions and cozy festivities.

While many of the items in this catalog are priced high, I still can't resist getting the new cookbook every year (due to arrive any day) and salivating over all the things I'd order if money were no object.

I bought 3 pumpkins at Walmart today (real ones) and yes, by the time this week is over, I promise to have our house transformed to its harvest coziness. Good times....

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More Good News

Nothing like calling the hospital to get the update on Dad, only to find out he'd left for home five minutes ago..... Praise God! Hopefully he'll be able to not overdo it as he settles back into routine.

If Today I'm Anti-Social, Please Forgive Me

I just returned from working out and can't tell you the joy that I have no other plans to leave the house, outside of visiting Dad or picking up the kids. The house is trashed, and yet it is my sanctuary. And, slowly, methodically cleaning it (complete with laundry folding in the living room with DVR'd tv shows to watch) will be my therapy today.

I plan on answering very few phone calls today. I'm much more in an email frame of communication right now as I'm tapped out socially and need the day to restore my introvert-leaning personality. Thank God for Dad's recovery (I'll be praying for a full heart restoration....), Thank God for all of the people in my life I have to lean on, Thank God for Him who is the reason for our hope, and Thank God for this day to allow me to regroup......

Monday, September 08, 2008

Good News

Just got back from seeing Dad. They actually plan to discharge him tomorrow, and already have him up and walking around. He looks great - everyone is feeling very positive.

Regarding medical details, he did have two stents put in - one was for an area of 70% blockage. One more has yet to be put in, but they will have him come back in a couple of months to do that after his new medicine has kicked in and he has recovered a bit. There was some moderate damage to the heart because of the lack of oxygen to that muscle during the attack, but the doctors feel pretty comfortable that the new medications will compensate. Praise the Lord.

I want to thank you for all of your kind words, email, comments, and prayers. I am truly blessed in so many ways.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

When Your Heart Stops.....

This weekend was very tough for me. I'm not exaggerating to say that the stress level at the point of showing up at Brayden's Jamboree today was one of the highest of the year. It was a rough morning, a rough weekend, heck, a rough week. Very depleting for me, I was pretty much laid bare by the time I was trying to navigate through hundreds of vehicles with no where to park, hundreds of people all roaming with hundreds of football-playing kids. I was dragging in four kids and a dog myself, trying to find the right field, taking phone calls on "how to get to the right place" when I couldn't even figure it out myself. By the time I'd reached the field, I'd already "emotionally vomited" to two of my friends about how stressed I was.

We finally got settled, but the dog was a BAD idea, the place was hot, the kids were all over the place, and the food hard to come by (because you weren't supposed to bring it in). The state of my well-being wasn't necessarily improving. I just kept thinking, "If I get through this jamboree, and then get John home, we'll get caught up as a family and we'll find normalcy again".

Right before the third and final game, my cell phone rang and it showed "DAD CELL". As Leona had just shown up, I thought my dad had decided to as well (my mom has a horse event this weekend) and was calling for directions. When I answered and it was another man's voice, my heart stopped. It was hard to hear with all the commotion, but I heard "chest pain" and "ambulance" and immediately retreated to a place where I could hear better. Yes, my dad was having chest pains, and yes, he was headed for the hospital - yes, I was being called so I could meet him there as they were unable to get a hold of Mom.

When you see one of your worst "this will probably happen someday" nightmares start to materialize, you can respond in so many ways. I did my best to compartmentalize, find my son's coach and communicate the problem, but had lost it by the time I walked over to him. Poor guy, we don't know each other that well for him to see me lose it in tears. Blessedly, Michele was down just this weekend, and happened to decide to stick around for the final game. We decided to drive both our cars home, drop off Syd, and then return together to the hospital. I worked it out for Randy to drop Brayden off at the hospital after they were through. The way home was especially painful - trying not to freak the kids out, but silently pooling in tears - hearing all the songs on K-LOVE that had lyrics that stung. Michele went back to the house on a different route, and lost it when she saw the likely ambulance that was carrying Dad from our childhood home to the hospital......

Once re-united in the car, Michele and I held hands, prayed, and said some of the most heart-hurting words that we alone would ever be able to communicate and feel together. Once we arrived at the hospital, we were quickly able to see Dad, able to communicate with him and hear from the docs that yes, he was having a heart attack. He'd called the ambulance within 20 minutes of the symptom's onset - and is even so conscientous that he took his own blood pressure: 202/122. Not good.... Dad's quickness in self-diagnosing was probably able to save his heart from further damage, and within 5 minutes of him seeing us - they whisked him off to have a stent put in.

By the time we gathered in the private cardiac waiting room, Lisa had come and gone (playing her part in watching the kids while we immediately went back), Stephie had settled in, and Travis was on his way to Mom and Dad's house to investigate for clues as to where he might be able to get a hold of Mom. John had been notified and was en-route back from Round-Up and Brayden had been dropped off to join us. The circumstances in tracking down Mom are miraculous in and of themselves - perhaps I'll blog more about the miracles we witnessed later. Before the nurse had come in to give a report on the status of the stent procedure, Mom was in our presence as well.

The procedure resulted in one stent opening up a large blockage in one of the main arteries. There is another area with blockage, but we are still awaiting the main doctor's decisions on whether or not that will be treated and when. It was such a praise for the nurse to say that a visitor could see him and be able to send Mom on her way to be with Dad again -

By the time Michele and I joined him, Dad had already returned to his "chatter-box" self. We talked about the sports he played in school, the status of the two houses he's building, and how great of a life he's had if it were to end today (Mom was not happy about that statement, she's not content with his life ending now.....). He also talked about how great of a writer he thinks the author of "THE SHACK" is and repeatedly requested that that book be brought from his home so he could continue reading it. I think it's safe to say, Dad was really in a place of looking at the big picture. (I can't imagine why.....).

Before we left, around 6:30, Dave Mertz, Travis, John, and all five of the kids had been in to visit. More deep conversation occured, and we gave kisses and left. Michele has decided to spend the night with the kids in order to hear what the doctor's determination is regarding further procedures. I think I'll keep my kids home for the first half of the day. We all need to sleep well tonite.

I don't know how to polish up the ending to this as I'm at such a raw place. Both Michele and I had times we both felt this weekend where we just wanted to cry when nothing really merited it. I joked that it would have only taken a hangnail for me to burst into tears this afternoon - not my dad having a heart attack. And, yet, the timing - for SO MANY reasons, is God-inspired, I guarantee it. There are no accidents - and I'm so thankful that for now, God has it in mind for Dad to stick around.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

"Can We Leave Yet?"

Once we started having kids, we realized that the two season tickets that we own were probably not going to indefinitely cut it for our family. Two years ago, we did our best to "work the system" and purchase two more tickets within our section, so we'd have a set of four not too far away from where we currently sit. It's almost like a bribery deal in terms of how much you have to "donate" for them to honor your request. We didn't offer enough (which was still a lot!) and therefore the seats they gave us were pathetic and we declined. Last year, we didn't even try - realizing that the actual cost per game really didn't calculate to be of value for the kids to attend. With John at Round-Up this weekend, they're able to attend this game, and then we purchased two extra tickets for Boise State this year. That'll do.

After taking the kids to the game today, I'm now confident that we'll be saving our money again for next year. Despite Brayden's enthusiasm for playing football (in real life and on the PS2), he really isn't that into watching it on tv or in person. Neither is Mikayla. Of course, they talk big about wanting to go to ALL the games with us, but both Steph and I can report that they were ready to leave today after the first quarter.

"It's too hot"
"Why didn't you buy seats over there on the other side?"
"I'm dying, it's so hot"
"When are we going to leave?"

We ended up leaving at half time. Since the game was NOT a nail-biter, and Michele had already arrived at our house (and the game was televised), it was just fine with us.

So, to sum things up -

1.) No season tickets for the kids for next year for sure, and who knows after that....
2.) During the Boise State game, John will be the one sitting next to Brayden. Mikayla sat with Steph today and I got Brayden. I love how he's so affectionate, but his hot sticky hands constantly on my sweaty thighs was driving me crazy. It's definitely John's turn!


Friday, September 05, 2008

My Week As It Looks at One in the Morning

As I am currently awake at 1:06 am (not a regular event for this girl) - I'm doing a bit of evaluating of how the week has gone, here's a few details-

1.) I'm awake because of the knot in the side of my neck that is the source of much literal pain in my life. I went to see Mom today and while I walked away feeling great, about 6 hours later, this knot became a problem again (this is not a reflection on what my Mom does, on the contrary, sometimes she fixes things, but in "getting the body back where it's supposed to be" the muscles can get kind of grumpy). I have a feeling the knot had nothing to do with her and more to do with the circumstances at the time it started.

2.) I'm in the kitchen typing because I needed to put something in my stomach in order to take some pain medicine. After a long thought process on what I could eat at 1 am with the diet I'm on, I chose peanut butter. I'm pleased with my choice.

3.) My whole body is sore - wondering why it is this week that I would choose to address item #2, and full on, hard core (for me) work-outs.

4.) I miss my hubby. He left last night and it's certainly a week I recognize how much emotional support he is to me. Tonight was Brayden's first scrimmage and for a lot of reasons, I felt very much like a "fish out of water" among the parents. I missed John, found myself resenting the constant conversation about how great the "other teachers" are, and how I need to "watch myself" with the one I have - and, just, - other stuff. Nancy wasn't there and I missed her, which made me realize how safe I've really felt from "the need to fit in" among my group of friends, and how easily old insecurities can emerge back when you're forced to re-start. Throw in varying athletic abilities and popularity issues among the kids, and yikes, it was starting to feel like high school again.

5.) Mikayla loves school. Due to a staggered start for first grade, she had the day off today and couldn't wait to return. She's nice enough to tell me that it's a toss-up as to which is better, being with me all day or being at school. Cross that off the worry list for now.

6.) Brayden's hangin' in there. He was all smiles after the short time he played in the scrimmage - which was priceless to me. He was all tears, however, when I made him re-write a missed spelling word on his pre-test after school. "It's only the second day, Mom, why do you have to be so hard on me?" Good grief, the kid had 6 words to spell and I merely made him re-write one of them instead of erasing the letter.....(and, no, I was not mean about it, very calm and rational - poor Kyle, his buddy who came over for a playdate was probably wondering what the heck was going on - I think he was rooting for Brayden to get his act together too as his opportunity to play with Brayden was dependent on Brayden getting his homework done.....) Yep, that pressure cooker is heating up......

7.) SO GLAD tomorrow is Friday. Getting both the kids to sleep right now at "said bedtime hour" is a lot of stress for me and I promised both that they could stay up as long as they wanted tomorrow - oh wait, that would be tonite.... Brayden quickly replied, "Cool, I'm going to try to stay up all night then!" Oh gosh, that's all we need! I quickly put a stop to that line of thought and made it clear that the sleep had to all balance out in the end - so as late as he stayed up that would be as late as he slept in. Nothing is happening Saturday until Steph and I take the kids to the game (because both our hubbies are gone) - so Saturday morning should be nice.

8.) This one is aimed at you, Steph - Don't you think, based on #'s 1-7 that this about sums up why we aren't planning another child? As much as I'd love to give you whatever I ever could, I just can't do that - at least not in as much as John and I have planned.......

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

And, They're Off...

This morning went amazingly smooth. Both kids woke up in good enough moods, we synchronized the eating with a new episode of "Curious George" - and -gasp- there was no fighting between the two of them. I praised Brayden over and over for his part in starting the day with a good attitude - what a difference that makes for all of us.

While they were eating, I suggested to Brayden that because he is currently seated next to one of his best friends, he'll really need to work on focusing - and if he finds that difficult to be "pro-active" with the teacher and ask to be moved. (Not because of the other student, but because it's just too much temptation to have one of his best buddies next to him and not mess around). I explained the meaning of pro-active and I think Brayden got it.

Later, as we stood out front and took the obligatory "first day of school" photos, I asked Brayden what he was supposed to do if he found that he wasn't able to pay attention with Tanner sitting next to him. He yelled out, "I'm supposed to be radio-active!". It stumped me for a second until I realized he was being genuine - "No, not RADIO-active, PRO-active!" What a goof ball....and I'm so pleased I caught that with the videocamera (thanks Heather, I've been using my camera now as a videocamera as well - it's because of your advice that we'll have video memories in the future!).


Mikayla settled right into first grade and Brayden was fine to take off to the 4th grade wing on his own. Unfortunately, one boy who adores Brayden linked onto him as soon as he saw him, virtually mauling him with his affection. This is a boy that I just shake my head to, a sweet heart, but not an easy route in life which leads to some poor decision making in class and in behavior. When asked why he wasn't invited last year to Brayden's party, Brayden point-blank responded, "because my mom says you're a bad influence" (I was horrified!), but this boy's response was, "your mom is right". So, we'll see how it goes this year - how well Brayden can extend love to him without getting too immersed in the friendship.


As for me, I'm actually doing okay. As with so many things, the dread was worse than the reality. I'm willing to admit publicly that August's "break from exercising and watching what I ate" resulted in ten extra pounds (and no, I'm not exaggerating) - so it was helpful this morning to go straight from the school to the gym and exert some energy in that direction. The "break" was a lotta fun, though - I gotta admit. I was also able to visit two grocery stores without anyone asking for a doughnut, a treat, or a special sugar cereal. Yes, this new era will take some adjusting, but there are some definite positives to the whole thing.....

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Overnight

Overnight, it seems, the trees have begun to turn crimson. Did they look at the calendar and realize September had begun?

Overnight, it seems, football season has returned. Weren't we just watching the Super Bowl in a snowy Sunriver cabin?

Overnight, it seems, summer is over. It feels like yesterday that I was preparing chili for Memorial Day weekend, vs. making plans for it to be on the menu for Halloween.

Overnight, it seems, John's term as President of Round-Up has occurred. This weekend, he'll be "the man" and hopefully watch years worth of effort bring rewards and blessings to hundreds of men. I remember five years ago when he was first asked to be on the board.

Overnight, it seems, my babies have grown up. My daughter will begin first grade tomorrow - it could not have been nearly seven years ago that I first encountered the blond-headed beauty with that unique upper-cheek dimple and slight divet at the top of her ear lobe. And, my son, is now at the upper-end of the power chain of elementary school. This year, he will turn double digits. How could this have happened, seemingly overnight?

Overnight will soon turn into tomorrow - the day that will mark a new beginning for me - a day left wide open with my childrens' absence to ponder all of these great mysteries. Sigh...........

Monday, September 01, 2008

The State Fair

I'm pretty sure the last time we were at the State Fair, we had both of the little boys and Michele was pregnant with Nati. That would make it eight years ago..... it's been a while.

We spent a "cool seventy bucks" there yesterday - nearly half in admission costs, money for exactly three rides for each of the kids, and the rest was contributed to two Elephant Ears (that were AWFUL!) and two bags of cotton candy. That is why it took us eight years to return.....

Overall, it was a good time. We watched Mallard duck races, dogs leaping into a pond for frisbees, drill teams on horses, and little kids riding sheep. We pet baby wallabies, llamas, donkeys, and lots of goats. We got a little wet with the rain, and got a lot lost. And, we enjoyed ourselves immensely goofing off with the Whites.

This is the baby wallaby - I'm such a sucker for baby animals....

That llama's hair is almost as shaggy as Brayden's.....

Let's not talk about just how much money was spent for the "fun to start here".....

Brayden was a super sport as a big brother on the rides - they both loved this one-


The rainbow was significant here as we were all tired, hungry, and grumpy at this point and ready to leave. The kids had just enough "points" left to go on one more ride and I was determined not to waste the money. Brayden chose this ride, but I had a gut feeling that it might be a bad choice for Mikayla as she had not enjoyed the ride like it when we were in Tahoe last summer.

Sure enough, this picture barely catches the terror in her face - they ended up stopping the ride as she was so scared. Fortunately, "Twirl a Whirl" didn't turn into a "Twirl a Hurl" - she was scared by not ready to throw up. Once she got off, we all made up - and headed to Applebees for a stationary booth and real food.....