Monday, May 30, 2011

I will not forget you, my brothers in arms.


Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, Fourth of July, Veteran's Day...these are a few days of the year that I solemnly remember the heroes of our military, both those who have come home like my grandfathers, my dad, my friends Travis and Tom...and especially those who haven't, like Jason. 



John and I took the kiddos to the Memorial Day service at the high school today, where the local VFW and American Legion posts put on a very nice ceremony.  The key speaker wasn't a retired General or Admiral, it was by a chaplain who served in Vietnam (not yet then a chaplain).  The main point he was making was, "Freedom isn't free." 

Of course, we've all heard this phrase many times, and we recognize that, but the chaplain continued on, asking the audience what they thought of when they heard the National Anthem; saw an American flag; saw the Color Guard in a parade. 

He then told us what he thought of, or rather, who.

He listed the names of five men.  All of whom he served with in the jungle of Vietcong. 

And he told us the stories of these five men.  One was shot by friendly fire when a helicopter gunner didn't know the American troops were going to be where they were.  The artillery tore him literally in half.  Another was shot above the eye in a firefight, and the chaplain held him for 45 minutes until the life finally left him.

Another lost his right leg in an explosion...the chaplain stopped speaking to regain his composure after telling us of the horrifying screams of pain that came from him.  In the same explosion, another one of his fellow men had been torn apart.  The chaplain quietly added, "The heaviest thing I ever lifted was another man's arm."

The final man was a medic, who had to option of staying behind and working in an Army hospital after he had shrapnel removed from his neck.  He instead went back into the jungle, and later lost both legs and eventually his life, but not before bandaging himself up.

Later, as we stood in the cemetery for the 21-gun salute and the sorrowful cry of "Taps", I wondered why my grandfathers or my father never told us war stories.  I understand that it is hard to bring up those memories, that in those moments during a firefight you're not necessarily fighting for your country but more for yourself and the man next to you, but the harsh reality of war is so glamorized in the movies that I think the gut wrenching stories like the ones I heard this morning need to be told...they need to be heard by myself, my kids, and the following generations. 

We need to constantly be reminded that freedom isn't free.

Friday, May 20, 2011

This was NOT written on today's agenda....

Today started out crappy...I was tired, since Addison decided 2am was the perfect time to wake up...followed by 3, and not really getting back to bed for the rest of the night.  Plus my hubby and I went to bed mad at each other...so of course I wake up crabby because of that, regardless of how much sleep I got.  And even though the sun was out and we apologized to each other before he left for 11 straight hours of work, I was still slightly irritated. 

Anyway, Fridays are my cleaning days.  I've had my three younger siblings here this week so they were able to help out.  But instead of helping by cleaning, they did so by watching Kale and Addison. Let the cleaning therapy begin.  In the middle of cleaning, I decided to make some sugar water for the hummingbird feeder.  I set it on the stove to boil and then went to get the kids' laundry ready.  I was changing crib sheets when I smelled this awful burning smell.

My sisters, Mimi and Liza, were at the dining room table doing their schoolwork (they're homeschooled and I got to teach this week), and just as I ran into the kitchen asking, "What's burning?!", Mimi jumped up and nearly dropped to her knees to crawl under the smoke billowing throughout the kitchen. 

I do not exaggerate.

The amount of smoke from the burned sugar water wafted throughout the apartment and actually surprised me.  I grabbed the pot off the burner and ran it outside on the balcony, then took the kids to our bedroom where, thankfully, there wasn't any smoke yet.  I shut Mimi, Liza, Crash, Kale and Addison in there and they spent the next ten minutes in there jumping on the bed, taking all the Kleenex out of a box, and "sorting" our dirty laundry while I fanned the smoke alarm, set up fans, and opened all the windows. 

We haven't had the windows open because of the pollen in the air...both John and I have awful allergies and so the AC has been on.  The moment I opened the balcony door, I started sneezing like crazy.  (Thank you for nothing, Clariton...) 

I.  Was.  Miserable.

I smelled like smoke.  I was sneezing, relying on the Kleenex that was now scattered throughout my room to keep me going.  Ugh.

I decided that we needed to air out the place for quite a while, so I packed the kids up and we went to the playground...where the day turned around.

Oddly, this HUGE interruption to our day turned out to be just what I needed.  I needed some time away from the constant cleaning that needs to be done, and the indoors...

Kale picking flowers for Mom

He stacked his dandelions on the bench before tossing them off...

I needed to stop and smell the roses (or dandelions), and to just be.  It was exhilarating to just let go...it was as if God was telling me to just stop trying to be supermom/sister and while I don't ordinarily need to have a reason to go outside, today I did.  The weather was perfect (I was chilled just sitting with Addison until she fell asleep) and then I went swinging with Liza, down the slide with Kale, and watched Mimi and Crash build sand castles in the sandbox. 

Mimi's sand castle

Crash's sand castle...he later added a bridge.  

We went barefoot for a while, feeling the sand in our toes, which was an excellent feeling.  My siblings wanted to know all about the two stray cats they saw who live somewhere around here and eat out of the dumpster.  They affectionately named the two tabbys "Garr" and "Bidge".  We were just outside, carefree and having fun...



...then, as clouds moved in, I remembered that the girls had to get back to schoolwork and after 45 minutes, the apartment should have been aired out enough to breathe.  So we headed back inside (where we could, indeed, breathe quite easily!)  No sooner had we washed up and had a snack when a soft rain started falling, sounding absolutely refreshing and washing all the pollen out of the air. 

I thanked God...He blessed me with a soft rainfall so that I wasn't constantly sneezing.  I felt like He was thanking me for not being frustrated and upset about the smoke and burned sugar water, and for taking the opportunity to spend time with my siblings and children.

We kept the windows open all day, and I haven't needed a Kleenex since this morning.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

So excited!!!

Today I had an interview at a salon that I've had my eye on since we moved to this area.  The timing just never seemed right for me to get in for an interview before, or maybe it was more of me not being ready to find a sitter for Kale and Addison and head to work and help our financial situation a little more.  But now, after lots of prayer (and a not-so-great job currently) I finally felt the urge to really get serious, and when the salon owner contacted me last week, I scheduled the interview.

Anyway, I got offered the job on the spot!!!!  I'm so very excited...this is the type of salon I envisioned myself at when I started school!  Plus Joanie (the owner) seems like she will be an extraordinary boss. 

Now we just need to pray for a babysitter...one that I will be at ease leaving my children with while I'm away.............

Monday, March 21, 2011

So, you ask...do you work?

Um yes.  I work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  What do I do?  I'm a Mom.

I'm an alarm clock, a cook, a maid, a teacher, a nanny, a nurse, a handyman, a security officer, a photographer, an event planner, a counselor, a chauffeur, an ATM, a jungle gym, a comforter, a fashion designer, an accountant, a personal shopper, a barber, and a hostess to all who enter my home.

I don't get holidays, sick days, or vacation time.  I work day and night, on call at all hours.

And I love it.

(I found this online and really liked it!!!)

The Good Life

I thought it would be a good idea to take the kids into Brainerd today.

Ha.

Actually, they did really well...I just get super anxious when I'm in public and they're not exactly perfect angels.  (As if they ever will be...)

It started off interestingly enough though.  I have a monkey backpack with a long tail for Kale, so yes, it's basically a leash, but it keeps him within arms reach and from running into traffic.  So we get to our destination, and I'm pushing Addison in the stroller (she's yelling, by the way, and I'm just trying to get inside to calm her), and Kale's walking at Kale Pace through the parking lot.  He trips and falls, isn't phased by it, and as I pick him up, this old lady walking behind us yells at me, "He's not a dog!!!!!!!!!!!"  People turn and look, and I don't know whether to cry or snap back at her.  So I ignore her and keep going, desperately ignoring the mumbling comments of Old Mother Grouch.

Then, thankfully, a lady in a van stops, rolls down the window and says, "Ma'am!  That is the cutest thing I've ever seen!!!  I didn't know they make those!  It sure would've come in handy for me!"  I smiled, thanked her, and continued walking.  Once inside, I wanted to take the monkey off Kale's back just so people wouldn't judge me...then I realized that they can't judge me.  Only God can.  So I keep the monkey on.  Oh, and Kale enjoys his monkey, by the way.  (He loves playing with it at home, running to the end of the leash and falling down, giggling, and doing it again.)

The kids sleep on the way back to our little town and we go visit Daddy at work, where both Kale and Addison are happy to delight the ladies John works with.  They coo with Addison (who, although is trying her hardest grunting and pushing to poop when not being talked to, is happily smiling and cooing back) and give Kale a bright yellow balloon (which serves as a little booey for me, knowing where he is at all times even when I can't see his little head bobbing around.)

Finally, we walk over to the post office to send some pictures to Great Grandma Ruth and pick up a package waiting there for us, and everyone is kind and courteous, opening doors for us and smiling, greeting, talking to the kids.  We get home and I'm able to get the kids down for a nap and eat a quick lunch, when I realize how much I love my life.  I miss being closer in driving distance to my family, but this is nice.  I have a wonderful, faithful husband who adores me, two healthy, happy kids who are also amazing sleepers, a decent home (despite the Slash wannabe living below us), kind townspeople, and I'm getting better at cooking!  (Feta stuffed chicken for supper, anyone???)  So yeah, I love my life.

Even when yelled at by strangers.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Moments...

Every day is full of moments that I wouldn't change for the world.  For instance, when Kale runs over to Addison in the morning going, "Mmmmmm!!!" with his lips puckered, ready to kiss her.  Or when he sits on the floor reading his books, totally oblivious to the world around him...and the moments when Addison stares into my eyes and we just share that moment. 

I wouldn't change those moments for anything.  But there are a few I would change.

If I could change the moment it took for John's hockey career to end, I would.  The moment when he made that save, and the opposing player fell onto his lower back...thankfully he wasn't paralyzed, although it took quite a while for him to get the feeling back in his legs.  The Division I hockey scouts no longer corresponded with him, and his dream ended there...and it took a moment to shatter that dream.

I would also change the moment I decided to attend a $100,000+ university.  (Bet you can't guess why...)

Everyone says as you get older, time goes faster.  And so that is why I'm really trying to take time to smell the roses, and to savor the moments I am lucky enough to experience with my children.  It's also a huge reason as to why I haven't yet decided on working.  I missed the exciting moments when Kale first rolled over, sat up, and crawled.  Because I was working.  I don't want to miss them with Addison, and I don't want to miss Kale's first sentence, or his first time singing a song, or any other moment that a mother should witness. 

As Steven Tyler sings, I don't want to miss a thing.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Memory...All Alone In The Moonlight

The memories I have that surround my grandparents on my Dad's side seem so empty now that they have both passed away.  It's such an unexplainable feeling...a sense of loss and loneliness, almost breathtaking in a way.  Like I've been sucker punched.  John assured me that their death doesn't make my memories any less valid, but to me, I'm all alone with them now.  No one else but Gram remembers the time I sat at her kitchen table while she put her makeup on during June of the late 90's.  It was just the two of us there.  Now it's just me.

Walking into Gram and Grampa's house with no one to greet me was hard.  It was quiet.  No country music on the radio.  No TV noise.  Not even the cuckoo clock was ticking.  It was just silent.  And I strongly disliked the feeling...I was just getting used to not seeing my Grandpa when I walked into the living room, but where was my Grandma and her smile?  Her twinkling eyes and silly giggle as she said, "Oh honey!  What a surprise!"?

It's been just over a week since Gram Elaine's death.  Her funeral was nice, but slightly stressful.  I would've liked a little more time to just take it all in, but I felt rushed...perhaps that's why I felt no emotion.  Or perhaps it was because Gram didn't look like the Gram I grew up with.  (Dad said she aged about ten years in the last afternoon she spent here in this life.)

And yet, although I hurt, Gram's death was graceful.  How she died was dignified.  (Renal failure.)  While she had stage four colon cancer that would have eventually killed her in the most painful way, complete with too much suffering for her to bear, God decided to take her in a peaceful way, by falling asleep and never waking up to the pain of this world.  She was surrounded by love...with her two boys at her side.  Her daughter-in-law there.  With her grandchildren there in spirit. 

We had time to say goodbye to her, and she had time to say goodbye to us.  I said my goodbye's, telling her that she's lucky to go see Grandpa Harv.  She sat back into her bed, looked off and smiled the most peaceful smile in the world, and said, "Oh I can't WAIT to see him again."  It was powerful...just as powerful as the vision I saw after my mom called me telling me Gram had died:

It was Gram, waking up, and Grandpa Harv waiting there for her, smiling.  She let her eyes rest on him and got all teary, smiled as got out of her hospital bed with ease, and walked over to him with her arms outstretched, wrists flopped outward, and as they embraced she sighed, "Oh Harv!"

It's that thought that gives me comfort, and makes her death beyond beautiful.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Addison's Hair Garden

I've decided to start selling the headbands I make for my daughter.  Just check out Addison's Hair Garden on Facebook!  Please share with your friends!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Instant swimmer. Just add water!

Harvey went swimming for the first time at the pool in our apartment.  He had a BLAST!



My favorite is when Daddy was tossing him up in the air.  This picture is great...he was just like a little rocket, and just as loud as he squealed with delight!


This video gives you an idea of how loud he was...the entire half hour he was in there...

video

I promise I haven't forgotten about you!

Yet again, another month goes by and I fail to post anything!

Noelle is three months old.  (Seriously!?)  She's finally sleeping through the night, a pro at tummy time, and a first class smiling sweetie.  After waking up, she's immediately smiling. 


She's also pretty good at at giggling.

video

Harvey is busy being an absolute doting big brother, dropping everything when he hears her fuss and "helping" put her pacifier in, or just giving her kisses.


He hasn't said any new words beyond "Hiiiiiiii!" or "More", but he loves to chatter nonetheless.  I'm enjoying it for now.

video
video

And Daddy hasn't forgotten about Mommy.  :0)


Life is good.  :0)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Where have you been all my life!?

It's been just over two months since I last blogged.  Since then, much has happened.

I [finally] had our baby girl on November 18, whom I will call Noelle on my blog (she was supposed to be born closer to Christmas!)  It was convenient to have her then, as I went into labor while at a checkup on the 17th.  I was sent from the clinic to the birthing center, and spent the next 25 hours in labor only to push once and see her tiny little 4#13oz self thrashing around.

She was a peanut.  :0)

Because she was premature (35 weeks and 6 days) she spent just over a week in the NICU.  Talk about stressful times.  Four days after her birth, we all caught the stomach flu...while I went back to pre-baby size in a matter of hours, it was not ideal in the least.  For two days, we could not go to the NICU to visit Noelle, and I ended up bringing Harvey to the ER for dehydration and a fever nearing 102.  We spent Thanksgiving Day in the pediatrics ward, and finally went to my parents' home.

Noelle came home that following Saturday, and the kids and I stayed at my parents' for a few days until the snow storms halted enough for me to make the trip to our home. 

Noelle was baptized on December 12, and we had a lovely afternoon visiting with friends and family who came to celebrate.

Christmas came and went, and we spent that again at my parents' home with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings.  It was quite enjoyable!

My best friend came and babysat so John and I could go out on a date.  It was the first time I left the kids with a babysitter who was not family.  Slight panic attack, but all went well!  Harvey went down to bed without a sound.  Amazing.

January has been rough, as John is working 50+ hours a week.  I've had some breakdowns, but that's to be expected, right?

To be completely honest, these past two months (Noelle is seriously two months old already!?) have flown by, and are a huge blur.  Harvey is so well behaved with his sister, and although we have moments when he's crying, she's crying, I'm trying to feed them both, it's been exhilarating and, naturally, exhausting.