Friday, August 31, 2012

It May Be Raining Outside....

but I am sooo happy my "blues" are over. Going through something as trying as my Mama having a transplant was HARD stuff kids. I mean HARD. Days upon days of not talking to a lady I am used to talking to daily, knowing she is laying in a hospital bed beyond sick and not knowing if she is going to come out ahead in the end is SCARY.But guess what? She made it and I am happy to say she is doing pretty darn good. She is back on Facebook, her computer, and even MAKING phone calls!! Very soon she will be heading back to Chanute.YAY!! And guess what else? After 30 some years she is officially RETIRED. This news came as somewhat of a surprise (this world can be a pretty cruel place sometimes) but she took it like a champ. When she called to tell me, my imediate thoughts after shock were YES, she is no longer working AND no longer sick... this means we can nab Grandma ANYTIME we want...and guess what? You better believe we will! So Mom, CONGRATS on your retirement! I hope you are ready to live this new and exciting chapter of your life, because my kiddos and I are ready to take on some adventures with you!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bald is Beautiful...

Especially when it is my Mamma!
I am SOOOOO thankful that she is looking this good. Nothing beats seeing her doing this well, sitting up with a SMILE on her face!! I am also SOOOO thankful that the worst of this journey is in our past. I love this lady and the fact that she too knows she can do "all things through Christ who strengthens me"!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Little Gymnast:
 Working hard to keep that balance. She and my Mama both like to bite their lips when concentrating!
 Of course gymnastics is always fun, but its even better with a friend!

The Sweetest Thing!

Today at Nora's Meet the Teacher event, part of the fun was getting their new bags. The teachers gave them to each student and told them to decorate them however they like. When I picked up Nora she walked out proudly holding her freshly decorated tote. This is what it looked like:
Immediately I said to her, oh, great job decorating your bag. I see you wrote Reese's name on there. That was the end of the discussion. Later that day, we went to lunch with Ryan and I told Nora to show her Daddy how she had decorated her bag... she did, and he asked "Why did you put Reese's name on there"? As innocently and sincere as possible, she responded, "because I love her"! It was at that moment that all of my doubts of my ability to parent a four year old went out the window and I realized I indeed have succeeded at something! Now i just hope there isn't a Reese in Nora's class or we might have some mixed up papers =0)

A New 'Do

Nora got a new haircut. Im not gonna lie, I am kinda envious. Finally I feel like we have found a haircut that does not look like a straggly mess on top of her head. Now lets hope it stays that way. Maybe she will have "long straight hair to the middle of her back" (her dream) someday and then if she is anything like her Mamma suddenly it will become a curly mess!
Anywho, here she is with her new 'do.... She loves it:
 Now if we could just work on that silly crooked smile =0)

Meet the Teacher Day

Today Nora got to meet her teacher for four-year-old preschool. Lucky for her some of her old friends are in the class with her, but sadly, some are not. Here she is all ready to go:

 Here she was last year all ready to go:
 It amazes me what a difference ONE year can make =0(
Apparently nobody gave Reese the memo that it was not her first day of preschool. She wanted in on ALL the action the big kids were doing!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

This Mama has a Little Soccer Player

Hard to believe, but it's true... This Mama has a little soccer player.
Definitely not an all-star, but she looks like one, right? =0)
Nora is so fortunate to have great friends, who despite her lack of ability want her on their team. Their team name is the Fighting Butterflies but really their name should just be St. Michael's 4 year olds =0)
Looking at these pictures makes me so hopeful that Nora will remain with these girls for years to come!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Life Lessons...Sometimes You Just Need to KISS

It is sad to say, but oh so true. Bad things have to happen before one stops and re-evaluates their own life. Thus is the case for me. I have been struggling a lot lately. Not feeling like I was giving my best at anything. Really having a hard time feeling like I have done any good for quite some time. Feeling like I was just doing what I had to do to make it through one more day. All the while I was shuffling my kids from one activity to the next, hollering at them to get their shoes on, put the dogs in their  cage and get in the car. Hurry here, hurry there. Hurry home. Once home, I was exhausted, they were exhausted and we were ALL cranky. Problem is, it was only noon. We still had a WHOLE LOT of day left. End result? An afternoon spent vegging on the couch, me in front of the computer, Nora watching T.V and Reese sleeping. Real productive, let me tell ya!
I think the outragious credit card bill (we put all of our expenses on our credit card and pay it all at the end of the month) was my first wake-up call that life needed to change. Ryan mentioned the amount to me and I took it upon myself to evaluate the expenditures (this in and of itself is NOT something I typically do. Remember, I was a Social Worker by trade. My husband is the accountant =0) ) After looking at it I realized we were spending a ton on outings to play places and eating out. I thought to myself 1) I take my kids to these places EVERY.SINGLE.DAY with the same friends 2) We are eating out entirely way too much. Not only is this expensive and lazy, it is just straight NOT healthy. 3) When doing all of these things, I am indeed providing my kids with entertainment, BUT am I providing them with valuable time spent with me and is doing this making me be the best Mom I can be? Probably NOT.
So what did I do? At first, I kept on going about my business the same as always. I kept going to the playdates, and struggling to make it through the days. I kept putting time for me on the back burner and doing everything that I thought I needed to do to make my kids happy, BUT I changed how we spent money. I took it upon myself to switch to using cash. I gave myself a weekly allowance and said that no matter what, that was what I was going to spend. If I needed to spend more than that, I would discuss it with Ryan (who is the logical spender in our family) before spending the money. Soon I found myself having a great time finding ways to spend less money. BUT you know what my motivation was? Spend less money on food so that I could still have money to go and do all these activities with my kids!
It took several unfortunate things happening to several loved ones around me before I realized what really needed to happen. I needed to SLOW down. I needed to KISS (keep it simple stupid) I needed to prioritize the important things in my life and focus on them. I needed to be the person that I want my daughters to become. I needed to value the time that I have and not take advantage of the fact that I am SOOO fortunate to be able to stay home with them, when, others who would LOVE to stay home with their children are instead forced to put them in childcare. To do these things I had to say good-bye to daily outings and instead get my butt up and provide some fun myself. So that is what I am doing. Starting tomorrow, our schedule is not going to revolve around where we are going and who we are going with. Instead, it is going to revolve around what we are doing with each other and how we can do it so that we are enjoying each other the best we can. If it means we spend the entire day at home in our jammies, then so be it! Afterall, God only gives us one TODAY and I want to go to bed more often feeling like I haven't wasted mine!

On a side note, not to get all churchy, but I thought it was kind of ironic that while I was having this realization in my head that things needed to change, I opened up my daily devotional book, randomly picked a page and this was the scripture. There is NO doubt in my mind that God mustve known how I have been treating my kids lately because this scripture is SOOO fitting:
Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. -Ephesians 4 31-32

Friday, August 10, 2012

Never say Never... A lesson in Life

I have always been the type of person who lives life knowing that anything can happen to anybody at anytime. That is just how life is. I've known this, but lately to have to live this reality in so many ways has just plain sucked.
Take for instance the fact that 1) My mother (my lifelong best friend) has a terminal cancer that can be treated, but never cured 2) My Dad's years of being an alcoholic have started to affect his well being to the point that he too has been hospitalized multiple times over the past few months, and as we approach my Mom's transplant this coming Wednesday, it is likely that my Dad will be in the hospital... not that he had planned on being with her anyway. Afterall, you can't drink beer in the hospital. The staff there kind of frown upon that. 3) My own child, Reese, has been diagnosed with a learning disability (childhood apraxia - ie: she physically is unable to coordinate the movements in her mouth to produce speech)
To say I have reached my breaking point might be an understatement. This whole being strong thing kinda sucks. Those of you who know me well, know that I don't break down easy. I like to think that my attitude is a direct result of my childhood (That lifelong best friend of mine sure did a good job providing a good example of what a strong woman looks like). The reality is though, that strong or not, this Mama can only take so much!
Facing the harsh reality that I may very well lose both of my parents before I reach the age of thirty five is scary. I think about all the things in life that havent been done yet. I think of the things I want my kids to do before my Mama is gone. I think about the babies I haven't had yet, and how I want them to meet their Grandma before she enters Heaven. I think about how life just isn't fair. How it's possible for one lady who has worked so hard in her life to achieve everything she has while dealing with an unsupportive, alcoholic husband and raise three pretty darn succesful kids can become so sick so close to the time of life when she can finally sit back and enjoy all that she has worked so hard for.
While all these thoughts about my parents are going through my head, daily, almost every moment of my life I face the reality that my child CANNOT talk. I find it so ironic given that I worked in the field of disabled children and adults that God would give me a child with a disability. A child who from the beginning of her life has changed me as a mother. A child who forced me to slow down, love her, and hold her non-stop. A child who because of her own strong-willed defiant behavior ultimately forced me to become a stay-at-home mom. This child, who grabbed my heart and made me love her despite her difference in personality vs. my parenting style knew all along what she was doing. She was preparing me to love her unconditionally, EVEN with a disability. And guess what? I do! I love that booger with all my heart. I love her despite her flaws, despite the fact that we get wierd looks when she gets excited and makes "wierd" noises in public places. Despite the fact that we have to spend hours each and everyday doing "therapy" in hopes that she will someday be able to communicate. Despite the fact that she IS different. Despite the fact that since this diagnosis our life has not been the same.
All these things really do suck. But life just has a way of being that way, and although I know I have no control over the events in this thing called life, I can chose to either face it head on, or wallow in my sorrows. So, today, I am choosing to rely on my tried and true motto of life -"I can do ALL things through Christ who strenghtens me" and push on. Maybe if I am lucky enough 1: there will be a CURE for the cancer my mother has 2: My dad will realize the importance of the life he has and change his ways 3) Reese will indeed overcome her disability and begin speaking!  One can always HOPE, right? I sure hope so, because I would love to see the day when my Mother asks my daughter if she wants to play the quiet game =0)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Happy Anniversary

Sunday, Ryan and I will have been married for six years. SIX years. It seems so long ago that I met him, but yet not really. So much has changed since we met. It seems as though it was just yesterday that I was moving into an apartment with two guys in Lawrence and wondering what in the hell I might have gotten myself into.
To be honest, when I moved in with Ryan I barely knew him. I just knew I needed somebody to live with. Living with guys made me feel a little safer and the thought of not having to deal with stupid girl drama sounded FANTASTIC! It didn't take long for the two homebodies (Ryan and I) of our place to become fast friends. Spending nearly every weekend together we developed a relationship that I would've thought was a brother/sister type of bond. Never would I have thought we would end up married. Afterall, I had my own (crappy) relationship, and well, so did he. Not to mention the fact that he was the complete opposite of what I thought I wanted to marry! Little did I know a few short months later one night would change everything!
To say I knew the change in our relationship was coming would be a complete lie. I had no idea. It was the end of the school year, and although we spent all of our time together, I knew things were about to change. It was late spring and Ryan was just finishing his senior year (I was a year behind him in school) and was applying for grad schools. I was struggling to finish school at KU and packing my bags to head to yet another summer working at church camp. It wasn't until one evening when Ryan mentioned wanting to come and work at camp with me that I thought something just might be up (Afterall, he had spent previous summers interning as an accountant. Camp Chippewa wasnt exactly that, nor did it pay anywhere near what he could've been making =0) ) However, being in denial of my emotions, I kept telling myself that wasn't the case.
It wasn't until we both landed jobs at camp and were unable to spend much of anytime together before I realized I loved that man!
I can remember watching him do various things at camp that summer and wishing I could talk to him. Any chance we got, we would talk.  We would arrange for my campers to get together with his campers for evening cook-outs, smores, swimming, etc. just so we could be together. Come Friday, we would spend the entire weekend together and then come Sunday head back to camp and do it all over again.
It didnt take long for this to continue on before we both realized what was going on. Ryan was the brave man to bust the norm of our relationship as friends and I can remember thinking, wait, what about your OTHER girlfriend? I can also remember totally NOT wanting to date him because he was SO not what I thought I wanted to marry, but more than anything because I couldn't bear the thought of dating him, having something go wrong and then losing such a great friend. Despite all of my doubts and fears I nervously agreed to continue our relationship.
It probably took us dating six months before I overcame the fear that I was going to lose one of my best friends. Looking back now, those fears were probably irrational. Just like when we were "just friends" we were inseperable. I had no doubt that as much as this guy was the complete opposite of me, or what I had always envisioned marrying, he was the one I loved and couldn't imagine spending my time with anybody else.
We spent two years "dating" before we became engaged. Spent another year engaged and then got married on August 5th, 2006. The day was perfect, and at the time, was definitely the happiest day of my life. To marry my best friend was the best feeling in the world and I knew without a doubt we were going to have a fun ride on this thing called life together.
We spent a little over a year married before we found out we were expecting our first baby girl. Set to be due ON our anniversary, Nora held on a few days later and made her arrival on August 8th instead. A quick two years passed and we welcomed yet another BIG bundle of joy, Reese Kathleen.  Though the past ten years together seem a blur and at times have been a little bumpy, I know deep down I couldn't ask for a more loving, providing, caring, husband OR daddy. God has truly blessed the girls and I with a wonderful man and we wouldn't trade him for anything!
Happy Annivesary Ryan. I hope to spend many, many more happy, healthy years with you (and if were lucky get you a boy or two ;0) !