Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hamster birthday, boys, and the four heads

A birthday party for our hamster - the things we do for our kids! - was a success.  It actually began a few days before hand when our overgrown rat cute hamster, Lenny (a.k.a. Lenerny) was 'somehow' let out of his cage (we don't know who did it, but I suspect it was a little one with the name beginning with the same letter as Lenny) and the thing was loose and lost in our house for half of a day.  Half a day!  Thankfully Daddy came to the rescue and caught him just as we were putting the kids to bed (yuck, can you imagine trying to go to sleep knowing that ugly thing was skittering around your house in the dark?!).  Since then, Lenny has been on the brain and Emerson, doing what she does best, planned a celebration for him.  She decided it was his birthday - so it was.

He got a cake, a present, he was sang to, had party guests beyond our own little family, and got to run around the house again, though within the confines of his little hamster ball.

We're making memories, right?

I think Braeden was feeling quite left out, however, so right before it was time to celebrate, he went and did this!

He was riding his bike in the driveway and took a spill right onto his head.  It was a huge, scary, bloody mess and it was a little tense for a few minutes but after a call to the doctor and we got him calmed down, we decided he was ok.

One of the blessings of living in our little home in our little town is our neighborhood.  We truly have amazing friends all around us, whom we trust and love, and I don't believe it's coincidence that we all have kids around the same age.  It makes for awesome summer days playing in each others' yards and driveways, where the moms can talk and watch our kids, with a few 'referee-ing' moments here and there.

Can you believe all these boys?!  All of these boys live within a house (or directly across the street) of each other (we're missing the littlest one of the neighbor babies in this picture, but the little boy I watch sometimes was here instead this day!)

One of the funnest things we've done as a family this year is to take a very impromptu vacation 5 hours away to South Dakota.  It was probably one of the best vacations we've ever had!  It didn't come without the common family and sibling tension - there were a few of those moments if I'm going to be real with you - but the fun and quality time with each other outweighed the few tense moments that arose.

And let me tell you, if you ever head to Rapid City to see Mt. Rushmore, seriously consider staying at the KOA campgrounds only 2 miles away.   Totally worth it.  We camped in tents and it was SO MUCH FUN.  These pictures only show a few of the things to do there.  It doesn't include the two pools, hot tub, waterslide, horseback riding, live band, little shops, and $2 all you can eat pancake stand (I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting), all of which were included in our very low price to camp there.  Seriously, take your family soon!

We drove by this and Jon and I both thought it had character, so we turned around to snap a picture.

Oh, and Storybook Island - totally free - and again, totally worth it.  Go!! 

Catching up with an old friend.  We used to walk home together every day after school and as she reminded me, on the really cold days we'd walk to my dad's office where he'd give us a ride home.  We'd get to my house and grab some snacks, pick on my sister a little, and hang out.  We hadn't talked in years, but have been able to reconnect through facebook where I have been able to see that she was now married and watched her family grow when she had her sweet little girl, Lauren.
Since then I was able to follow her mom's amazing journey with cancer.  They gave her a short amount of time to live and miraculously is now fine.
She was recently in town and I was able to find a short amount of time to drive 45 miles to meet up with her, meet her sweet girl, and say hello to her parents, too.  I manged to snap these few pictures.

Final thought:  Does anyone else out there watch Prison Break (other than you, Tammy and Shelly! :) )??  I'm hooked.  Jon and the kids are away (at the same time - a first in 6 years!) and I'm having a marathon tonight.  Why not?!  I get to sleep in tomorrow!  Woo hoo!

Thanks for sticking with me this long tonight.  Hope you have a great night!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Enjoying some of the little things

It's a fun thing to pop the memory card from my camera into my computer and watch the pictures pop up.  I love to remember and remind myself what moments I captured the past few days, finding some nuggets to blog about or put into the online scrapbook.  Unfortunately, today was not one of those days!  Haha!  I didn't find much and that has to do with the fact that I somehow managed to lose the lens cap to my 55 mm lens and I'm too much of a chicken to take it out if I can't cover it with a cap (you can ask Jon about how I like to ruin our electronics, like this time).  I tried using the original lens, the one that came with my camera, and it just made me miss the 55 mm lens, so I wasn't too motivated to shoot, though now I wish I would have because we've been up to some pretty fun stuff.  Play-dates and picnics at the park, a small trip to the local green house, sprinkler marathons, and bike-rides.  May not seem exciting to the average person, but to see the excitement in my kids' eyes when I reveal whats coming next makes me anxious to fulfill what excitment they are eagerly anticipating.

Oh, and a great big milestone reached this week:  my big boy is now a big boy bike-rider!  I LOVE seeing the pride in his face every time we gave him a big WOO HOO and cheer him on.  I also loved seeing Emerson cheer him on and encourage him, too, telling him what a great job he was doing.  And two days later he took his first family bike ride on his OWN bike all the way to a nearby park and back (with some riding at the park in between) for a total of at least 3 miles.  Whoa!

One of the funner parts about parenting: potty training.  Landen doing the potty dance:

And here are two sweet boys at our friend's birthday party.  Neither one of these boys are the birthday boy (I never did catch a good shot of him), but these little ones are such good friends, too, and looking so cute with their frosting covered lips.  Who can resist babies and frosting.  The perfect combination, right?

 Discoveries at the green house:

The cowboy Landen insisted on saying hi to!

Those lady bugs were a hit.  These things are as good as pets to my kids.

Have I mentioned before the strength and agility of my littlest?  I know many kids can do this, but he seemed to hang there forever!  Or maybe it seemed forever when the fear of the distance between his feet and the ground seemed to loom in my mind.  Not to worry, though, Jon had his back.

Ok, so maybe I got some good ones - a few I had forgotten about (from the last upload) until I started writing. 

One last thing - I just want to thank those of you who contacted me through my blog, facebook, and messages with your encouragement and love.  Thank you.  I was genuinely moved and touched by some of the words sent to me and from whom they came.  I am thankful for such good friends and the technology that allowed me to share a little of my heart and get so much in return.  I hope someday I can return the favor to you.

And I so appreciate your prayers next month and the months following.

Happy Wednesday to you! 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

41 days until 17 more of the hardest thing I've ever done

What can happen in 17 days time?  What could go wrong?  It's work and a continual decision to trust God with my kids.  When fevers rise, when I drop them off at someone's house (when one has a severe food allergy), when dropping them off at school each day I can sometimes let my mind run wild - thinking of what can go wrong, what will happen when I'm not there to protect their little bodies or even their little ears and eyes from what they see and hear.  It's tough to trust, to let them go into this scary world - even in the limited amount it actually happens when they're this small.

However, 41 days from now, I'll be leaving them for 17 days.  I let scenarios of what could happen run through my head.  I know and trust the people who will be with my kids.  They all love them and will protect them, but not like I will.  Not like Jon does.

Taking on three kids that aren't yours is hard for anyone.  Guilt of burdening someone with this hard task is hard to avoid.

What if after all that time, I come home and they don't want me?  It's not only time that could affect their reaction and affection to me after all that time - I'll be different - look different (click here or here for more details about why).  I'll be swollen and bruised.  What if it's scary to them?

And the most terrible, awful situation - what if something happens to me?  My babies need me. I can't even go there in my thoughts.

I'll be missing Braeden's birthday and  the first day of school.  And this breaks my heart.  Two big, momentous occasions and their mommy won't be there.

 I won't be there for the tears, bedtime stories, daytime adventures, and bad dreams for most of a month.

They're going to grow so much.

I wish this were a choice.  I wish I didn't have to go.

One of my nurses preparing me for the surgery has assured me that it's for the best.  It's only a small amount of time in the long scheme.

I'll have time to rest and recover in one of the most beautiful places (Santa Barbara, California) and amazingly enough (and I don't believe by coincidence) with good friends nearby to help.

My headaches will finally be relieved.  I'll be able to eat without fear of popping, locking, or pain.  I'll be able to breathe better.  Everything will be structurally better.

But guilt overwhelms.  Fear takes over.  Tears come easily.  This is hard. 

I'm going to miss them so, SO much (I can't write this without tears filling my eyes).

Jon will be with me, to which I am so thankful and grateful for.  I wish, though, that if I have to be gone, that he could be with them.  But I know I'll need him near.

And until then I am soaking up my time, trying to make it quality.

We talk often of what next month holds and that it will be fun.  They'll be playing with friends and Grandma and Grandpa.

I won't be able to talk much, but we'll see each other over Skype.  I hope they want to tell me about their fun each day.

  They'll each have a book of their own with pictures of our family together to take with them (though they don't know this yet - I'm surprising them with it before we leave).


Would you please pray for me and my family?  Pray for protection, peace, safety, recovery, and hard adjustments.  Pray for fun with friends and time to go quickly.  Pray for readjustment when we do come home and that we can fall back into our 'normal' quickly.  And please pray for perseverance as I won't be able to eat for at least 4  months (if not longer) - only liquid and blended diets - and because I'll be swollen and uncomfortable for up to a year

Thanks, friends.  Thanks for your prayers and letting me pour my heart out.  This is easily one of the most difficult things I'll ever do.  And I appreciate all the encouragement, support, scripture and prayers I can get.


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