Saturday, November 30, 2013

My Choice

November is almost done?  Really?  Actually, I can't decide whether I think it flew by or crept along forever.  Regardless, the calendar tells me that today is the last day of the month and therefore the end of another NaBloPoMo journey.

I began the month by sharing that one of my goals was (and still is) to become a more thankful person and to that end, I had purchased a little decorative reminder.  I wondered at the time if it would really work or not.  Now that the month is over, I can assure you that it has indeed been a help to me.  Each and every time I walk up our stairs, I see it and am reminded that I really do have so many things to be thankful for.  As I reflect back on all the happenings of the last thirty days, I can truly say that it has been a good month.  Matthew has stepped out of his comfort zone and done some great things, Andy and I have had some great time together and have become even closer, there has been a boatload of family time, and John was able to come home for Thanksgiving.  All wonderful things! 

Unfortunately, the mini-disaster with the house has really thrown me for a loop; it has threatened to overwhelm me.  For the last few days as I've looked at my "thankful" sign, I've fought discouragement and rather grudgingly uttered a few words of gratitude for something or another.  I don't know what we're going to do or where the road ahead is going to lead, and I really don't like the uncertainty.  Routine and planning...those are the things that I embrace; I don't do well with the unexpected and unknown. 

Today, however, as I was getting out the Christmas decorations, I saw the other little banner that I purchased last month.  When I was standing at a craft fair a month ago, I had no idea what we were going to be dealing with or that I would need another reminder after I had taken the fall decorations down.  Thankfully, the Lord knew.  I could have purchased any number of other banners with various other holiday sayings, but I truly believe that I was led to this one.

No matter where this road leads or how long it takes, I will continue to work on my thankfulness.  I'm not saying that there won't be any discouraging moments or tears; in fact, I'm sure that they are likely to pop up every now and then.  You might even have to give me a nudge in the right direction. 

But I will not be overcome. 
I will choose joy. 

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13

Friday, November 29, 2013


My friend asked for a lot of pictures...

We started off the year with a trip to Colorado.  It was the first time the boys had been in snow, so a family snowball
fight seemed in order.  No idea who took the picture since the four of us are out there.  Jaime, probably. 

"Randy lay there like a slug; it was his only defense."

Snow angles with Jenna!  Man, it was cold.

Everyone went sledding, but only three of us used a sled.

When both kids have the flu and you just got new carpeting, you throw their mattress on the tile in the entry way!

Matthew did gymnastics for about 18 months; I'm no expert but I thought he was pretty great.

I'd let him wash my car.  (It was a church fund raiser of sorts.)

My Youngling battling Darth Maul.

We had some fun in the desert thanks to our wonderful friends!

Those same friends had a boat, so we played at the river, too!

It's always a blast when family comes to town.

One should never let one's husband near the camera when one is in a bathing suit.

One of them clearly has his father's coloring while the other takes after his mom.

Doesn't everyone have a picture beside a giant artichoke?

Matthew made a friend at Magic Mountain.

Excellent form.

When you don't like cake, you get birthday cookies!


More love.

I didn't know that someone had taken this picture. 
That's my arm wrapped around Matthew as we're waiting for my grandmother's funeral to begin.

We were actually at Disneyland when we got the call that I needed to get back, my grandma wasn't going to
be with us much longer.  We flew home (seriously, I've never driven so fast in my life) and I made it to
Grandma's with about a half hour to spare.  Then she was gone.
We decided to go back to Disneyland a week later, partly to finish the day that we'd begun,
but also because I just needed to get away.  It was a good day.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Ten on Thursday

If you're especially perceptive, you might notice that I didn't do a Ten on Tuesday list this week; I had something more pressing on my mind initially and then things fell apart at home.  This is both the most joyous Thanksgiving that I've had in years as well as the most stressful and fearful.  While I was working in the kitchen a few minutes ago, I started to freak out again, so I quickly started listing the things that I am most thankful for today.  So, even though it's a Thursday, you get a list.  I'd better type quickly...I've got pies in the oven!

(As usual, these aren't in a particular order.)

1.  Andy.  It cannot be said often enough or loud enough how much he means to me.  He's truly been my rock in the last 48 hours and I can't imagine where I would be without him.  I'm a lucky girl.

2.  All of my people in one room.  When you have a child who no longer lives with you, this becomes extremely meaningful.  I'm so glad that John was able to come home, even if it's only for three days.

3.  My folks.  I'm so blessed to be spending another holiday season with them.  You never know how long you have; one must treasure every day!

4.  Thanksgiving x 2.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with Andy's side of the family today, we get to do it all over again with my family tomorrow.  Twice the fun!  I'm so glad that we do it this way.

5.  Hot water.  We currently don't have any hot water in our house.  It's made me appreciate it all the more and I hope it won't be too long until we get it back.  Perhaps within a week or so.

6.  God's Provision.  The whole hot water situation has us in quite a bind and is the cause of the stress and fear that I mentioned earlier, but I am thankful that God has always provided for us before, and I am trusting that He will do it again. 

7.  Christmas socks.  I dug them out yesterday...I love them.

8.  Reminders from loved ones.  I've felt so loved and supported by those closest to me these last two days; I've been blessed with some really beautiful people in my live.  I don't take any of them for granted.  I want to hug all of them. 

9.  My church and my church family.  They are becoming more and more dear to us with each passing week. 

10.  My mother-in-law.  If you know her, you know how amazing she is.  She is kind and selfless and wise and a blessing to everyone around her.  If I let my guard down, which is admittedly hard for me to do, there's always something that I can learn from her.  The mister and I were at CVS late last night and someone there made a joke about needing to come and get some wine because their mother-in-law was coming to visit and that was the only way that they'd be able to deal with it.  I know that a lot of people really do feel that way; I'm so thankful for Andy's family.   

 Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Healing For My Heart

Life is throwing us some pretty big curves right now. 
We honestly don't know how we're going to handle everything.
But for right now, for just this moment....
I am so very thankful.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Before I even complete one sentence, I want to make it abundantly clear that my marriage is wonderful and that the mister and I are quite happy.  Please, don’t anybody worry.  For my part at least, I love Andy more than I ever would have dreamed possible in 1995.  

That being said, it occurred to us this week at we are only about eight weeks away from our 19th anniversary and once that passes, all of the 20th milestones will be upon us.  First date, first kiss, first this or that…this spring it will be 20 years!  While we truly are madly in love, we stopped for a while and discussed how much time has passed and how easy it is to get complacent in our relationship.  

The reason that all of this came to mind is actually a sad one.  We know a couple who has been planning on getting divorced, but this week everything became official; documents were signed and Andy actually had to be the legal witness to a few things.  They’re doing the best that they can under the circumstances, but there are children involved and it’s undoubtedly hard on them.  

As Andy and I hugged each other and chatted, my initial reaction was to say, “Don’t worry, that won’t ever happen to us.”  As soon as those words escaped my lips, I realized just how foolish they were.  We know so many people, and I’m sure you do too, who thought that it would never happen to them.  And it did.  So I think the worst thing that we can do is to bury our heads in the sand and say, “Oh, that will never be me.”

I doubt that something like that would come up quickly; it’s probably a slow progression.  It’s very easy to get busy with your own life, your job, and your hobbies.  If you happen to have children, you know how crazy that gets and sometimes just keeping up with them, their activities, and their needs takes every ounce of energy that you have.  You don’t always have a lot left to give your partner.  At the end of the day, it’s easy to just rest in the knowledge that he or she will always be there and not give that relationship the care and attention that you give other relationships.  We were watching a TV show last night and there was a couple that was talking about how so many years had gone by and they were worried that there weren’t any “firsts” left in their relationship; they were struggling to find newness.  

So in light of the length of time that Andy and I have been together, the place that our friends find themselves, and a TV show that caused us to reflect, we have made a couple of specific choices this week in an attempt to not take each other for granted.  We aren’t roommates; we are first and foremost husband and wife.  Without that foundation, we wouldn’t have the children, the home, or the lives that we enjoy right now.  So we will work daily to preserve and treasure that.  If you are married, whether it’s been for one week or fifty years, I would encourage you to examine your relationship and do the same.  Your choices, your action items, won’t be the same as ours, nor should they be.  But please, do what it takes to fight for your relationship.  Don’t become complacent.  Don’t become a habit.  Don’t give the enemy a foothold or a chance to come between what the Lord has so richly blessed you with.

Monday, November 25, 2013

68 More Hours

For Derry and Kali and Gabe and Mia
and John and Matthew and everyone else
who might want something sweet on Thursday...

I'll be ready.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Conflicting Neurosis

This is the one week (well, five days, really) of the year where my crazies don’t align.  
First and foremost is my (probably) obsessive need to have things neat, tidy and orderly.  I don’t do clutter in any way, shape or form; if I’m in a cluttered place, even out in public, I cannot relax and I always feel a little bit on edge.  The result is that in my home, everything has a place and rarely will you find anything messy or out of sorts.  Upon seeing my dirty clothes hamper, my niece once exclaimed, “Even Aunt Michelle’s dirty laundry is organized!”  It’s true.  In addition to my aversion to physical clutter, I’m also opposed to any kind of mental clutter and one of my ways of eliminating that is to have rules and procedures for pretty much everything.  Things must match, things must coordinate, and there must be a reason for practically everything.  

The other thing that I’m extremely particular about is my adherence to holiday traditions.  I suppose it’s an extension of my need for order, but there is a prescribed time for most holiday things, including (especially) the putting up of decorations.  With regards to the outdoor Christmas decorations specifically, it’s very important to me that they are up and running on Thanksgiving night.  After eating myself silly for the day and having my aunt’s amazing potato casserole for desert (seriously, I’ll skip the pie for it), I want my outdoors to be wonderfully Christmassy as we pull into the driveway.  This isn’t a problem for the decorations out front; we always put them up early on Thanksgiving morning before we head out and thanks to timers, they’re on when we return.  The back poses a bit of a problem though.  We don’t have time to get everything up out there on Thanksgiving morning, so in order for it to be ready to go that evening; it must be put up earlier.  I need Andy’s help and since it gets dark early now, we can’t do it on a weeknight after work, so the Sunday before Thanksgiving (today) is always the day to decorate the back.  I promise that I don’t turn anything on yet; we won’t enjoy them until Thursday night.  But they had to go up today.

The problem is that this messes with my aforementioned sense of order.  Out front and all throughout my house, it’s fall and orange and leafy and festive.  But then as I sit on the couch enjoying the Thanksgiving themed inside, I see Christmas stuff out back.  It messes with my orderly brain.  One shouldn’t be viewing two seasons at once!

I think that I’m just going to keep the back blinds closed for the next 96 hours.  If I don’t see Christmas, I can pretend that it isn’t out there just yet! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Nervous Dining

Something occurred to me this evening.  Actually, it's occurred to me before, but tonight I chose to verbalize it. As Andy and I were on our way to dinner (Hooray for date nights!), I realized that I was stressed out.  Not because of life or anything like that, but because of where we going: Souplantation.

While it is a place that I enjoy eating, until I'm actually sitting at a table, I worry.  The same thing happens when we go to Pat & Oscar's (whatever it's called now) or Pei Wei.  I really, really don't like going to places where you have to pay first and then hope you get a table.  What if it's super crowded and there isn't a table?  It's a little thing, but turns out, it's something that always stresses me out.  If we're going to go out and eat somewhere, if I'm paying money for someone else to feed me, I want to know that I'm going to have a nice place to sit.  It's happened before, right?  You're standing in the crowded beverage area holding your tray, and all of the tables are full.  It's SO irritating.  So from the moment that we decide we're going to one of those locations until we're finally seated and relaxed, I'm a big ball of nerves.  And really, what's the point of going out if I'm going to be stressed???

Who am I kidding?  I'm certainly going to be going to Souplantation again, and Pei Wei (although we don't really go to P&O's anymore), but just know that if you ever invite me to one of those places, I'll be a little jittery until we're happily sitting down.

Yeah.  I'm weird.   

Friday, November 22, 2013


Not sure why we took this one, but he's pretty cute!

Grunion hunting at 1am.  Brrrr!!  

Getting the game ball is a pretty cool thing.
We had a coach who didn't believe in giving it to everyone just to make people
feel special, so receiving one actually meant something.  

John wanted to go to Knott's for his 9th birthday.

And if you want to go to Knott's, you MUST stop for dinner
at the Chicken Dinner Restaurant!

One of my all-time favorites.

I do love that face.

I like to rehearse barefoot.  It makes me most comfortable.

Visiting the Golden Gate

Someone wanted a family water fight for his 8th birthday.

Love my pirates!

Kind of a horrible picture, but so very them;
one is in a sweater and jacket, and the other is in a tank top. 

Best Joseph ever.

My favorite people at my favorite place. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Day of Remembrance

Twenty-three years ago tonight, I faced my first true loss.  I was 15 years old, and after a week long battle with cancer, my grandfather died.  You read that correctly, it was only one week.  While in retrospect I'm so thankful that he didn't have to endure suffering for long, we were all so very shocked and in no way prepared to say goodbye.  He'd gone in on a Thursday for a routine operation and when they opened him him up, they discovered that not only did he have cancer, but it was so pervasive that they closed him up immediately and said that there was nothing that could be done.  He never left the hospital.  By Tuesday, only five days later, he was no longer able to communicate with us and on November 21, 1990, the night before Thanksgiving, he died. 

Until then, I'd never had to face the loss of someone so close to me.  It was difficult and when they told us grandchildren that we could each put something in the casket with him that reminded us of him, I made the obvious choice:  a Three Musketeers bar.  Every time I went over to their house, without fail there was a Three Musketeers bar involved.  Knowing that they were my favorite, and being a pretty fun guy, he always made sure that there was one in the candy jar for me.  On the rare occasion that they didn't have one in the house, he'd drive me up to the Cork 'N Bottle to get one.  Every time.  Ever since then, those bars of yummy deliciousness make me think of him and of a happy childhood.

While I loved him to pieces, I wasn't nearly as close to him as I was to my other grandparents.  I clearly remember falling apart at Grandpa's funeral and my Granddad wrapping me in a big hug.  I'm not kidding, if we drove down to Greenwood right now, I could show you the exact spot that I was standing in.  I was crying for the loss of Grandpa for sure, but I also couldn't imagine my life one day without Grandma and Granddad.  Sadly, as it has a way of doing, life moves on and I've now lost both of them as well.

All of this came to mind today because at work we received the sad news that one of our oldest and dearest volunteers died this morning.  There was a gentleman who for years was the coordinator of all of the seniors who volunteer with the kids at our school.  It's kind of neat; they come in once or twice a week and work one on one with students who can benefit from a little extra time.  It really makes a difference in the lives of the children, and it brings the volunteers joy and a sense of purpose as well.  Hearing that Bob died today, sweet, grandfatherly Bob, well, it really shook up some of the staff members. 

As I was listening to all of them share remembrances when they passed through the office, I was struck by just how many lives he touched.  So many lives were made better by his love and his influence, and that's just at our little school.  Who knows how many more lives he touched within his family, his church, his circle of could be hundreds!  I was thinking of him, which in turn reminded me of my grandparents and the legacy that they left.  They are sorely missed every single day.  It made me wonder, what kind of a legacy am I working on?  If I were to die today, what would be said about me?  Would I have touched many lives for good?  Truly served them and made them better?  Or would people just think, "Yeah, I think she made cookies once..."

I don't have the answers to my questions.  This post doesn't wrap up all neat and tidy with some fabulous epiphany.  It just leaves me thinking, and wondering if I'm making the best use of the time that I've been given.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

An Unpopular Opinion

When I opine, I often find myself on the unpopular side of an argument.  I don’t set out to be difficult or contrary, it’s just the way I’m wired.   I suppose it helps me fit in around the house as two of the most contrarian people I know are my husband and one of my offspring.  But I digress…

Today I am going to say a few words about the Batkid story.  Unless you live under a rock (or just don’t keep up on the news), you are probably aware that last week, San Francisco played host to a ginormous Make-A-Wish event at which a child who was in remission (…didn’t know they granted wishes for kids who were in remission.  Hmmm.) from leukemia wanted to be Batman for a day.  The city jumped on board, the kid dressed up, and he spent the day “fighting crime” at a bunch of staged scenes.  The whole thing culminated with the kid receiving a “key to the city” a huge, end of the day bash; it was quite a big production.  And there, in my mind, lies the problem.  The price tag for the day was $105,000, and the city is going to pay for it.

While I know that cities waste obscene amounts of money all the time, my city included, I think it’s very wrong to use city funds (taxpayer funds) for something like this.  The event was so over-the-top and now the city is on the hook for the bill.  I don’t understand this.  It was a Make-A-Wish gift, why didn’t they pay for it?  Why must a city, why must the taxpayers, be responsible for a dime?  Giving to a charity like this should be a choice.  A personal choice.  It shouldn’t be forced upon one by the city taking one’s tax dollars to do so.  If we were all rich, and every city was perfect and there were no needs anywhere, then maybe.  But while kids in school don’t have books, while teachers don’t have adequate supplies (trust me, I work for a school district), while the roads are a mess and there are a myriad of other local problems, tax dollars shouldn’t be funneled off to pay a charity’s bill.

I’m sure that some of you are rolling your eyes right now and accusing me of not having a heart.  That’s okay, I can take it; at least I’m consistent.  Before you write me off completely, think about how you’d feel if your hard-earned dollars were spent on something that wasn’t a cute, feel-good story.  What would you think then?  What are your thoughts when reports come out regarding local government waste?  My guess is that you probably don’t like it.  But most people are willing to look aside in this case because a child is involved.  What about the other thousands of children who are going to want uber-extravagant wishes granted now?  I could see this easily becoming a “bigger and better” thing, just like kids’ birthday parties.  Remember when cupcakes and a swimming pool were enough?  Now you have to get your elementary aged kids limos and plan insanely grown-up and pricey things, just to keep up.  What door has this opened?

I’m all for Make-A-Wish, don’t get me wrong.  Although I really did think that it was for (and should be for) terminal kids.  My friends lost their daughter to cancer a little over 20 years ago and before she died, their daughter was granted a Wish.  Her dream was to meet Randy Travis, the country singer.  She met him, he was wonderful, and he dedicated a song to her from stage; to this day I think of Randy and his kindness towards Sharee and I smile.  I just think that things like this should be 100% privately funded.  The government has enough to do with our tax dollars, so much so that they keep asking for more of our money.  I’d like to see them taking care of their responsibilities rather than getting into the charity business.