Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Easter 2014

Easter.  2014.  Busy!

Mom and Dad fly in town -- Wednesday
Lisa comes in town -- Thursday
Ted's family comes in town -- Friday
Sweatin' for Sammy -- Saturday
Church Easter Picnic -- Saturday
Easter (Church) -- Sunday am
Lunch with Uncle Brian, Aunt Margaret, Cousins -- Sunday afternoon
Dessert with Green's -- Sunday pm

I'm not sure if this Easter 2014 was as reflective as I normally try to make it, but we were surrounded by a lot more family than we normally have around this time of year.  We had a full house filled with my side of the family, and my in-laws had a full house of their own with everyone coming in town...Chris, Bryan, Analisa and Alex...of course Megan and Colin are here and we saw Scotty and Annie and Nate on Saturday.  It was family filled and that was more than great.

We didn't get a family picture.  In fact, in general, I didn't get enough pictures that entire weekend.  But I did try to get pictures of the kids on Sunday morning.  Despite Callie's protests, I took a picture of her, and it's the best I got!  Micah...well, he was too interested in Easter eggs to stand still.  But she looks angelic.  Way to go Sammy.  

The above picture is way better, but I love her toothless smile!

Callie picked out her dress about a month before Easter and every Sunday would ask if she could wear it.  She loves it.  She also picked out Sammy's dress.  Micah was dressed, compliments of Grammy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

South Lake Tahoe...a Trip for Two

While my parents were here for Sweatin' for Sammy (post to come), they stayed with the kids while Marcus and I took off.  That's right.  For the first time ever, we left the kids for longer than 18 hours!  And it was amazing.  We decided on Tahoe and we are both so glad we did.  It was beautiful.

Because we were there during the off season, we were really the only ones on the trails.  Sure, there were other people.  I mean, we saw their cars parked anyway.  But basically, it was just us.  We didn't see people on the trail and we really enjoyed nature's noise...waterfalls, birds, wind.  It was so peaceful.

The first day, we hiked past Emerald Bay to Eagle Lake.  It was gorgeous.  I kind of hated the drive up.  It was scary.  I don't understand why there would be no rails along these roads when it's a huge drop!  It freaked me out.  Luckily, we survived the drive and that first day's hike was gorgeous.

The way to Eagle Lake was beautiful, but when we got there, we were both in love with the place.  Pictures never could do it justice.  The snowy mountains, the clear lake, the green trees and granite rock.  I feel like I just keep repeating myself, but it was so beautiful.

I thought of Micah when this duck came up to us.  He would have been excited to see a duck so close up, so I snapped a quick picture.

Something happens when you get away.  Something happens, especially, when you get away from the world and are immersed in nature -- at least for me anyway.  I feel closer to the Spirit.  I feel closer to God.  I have a clearer perspective and feel like I better understand the how simple the complexities of life really are.  I was impressed by so many small saplings.  These small baby trees were surrounded by large, old, mature, and strong trees that have been there for hundreds of years.  Two thoughts struck me:

I was reminded that no matter where we are, we can grow.  And even though we may seem or feel small, we are important to the bigger picture.  We need those small trees to grow, to persevere, to push through and reach the light.

Surrounded by larger trees, they are better protected from the storms and heavy snow that fall there in the area.  Are we properly valuing our elders?  Those who are more mature, more experienced, wiser, and better able to weather the we look to them for support?  Or, even if we feel like we don't "need" their support, do we realize that they are there anyway?  That just their presence in our lives, whether we seek their help or not, strengthens us?

I felt so grateful for all those older trees in my life.  Those who stand around me to protect me.

I was spiritually fed on this hike.

Though it was clearly not for waterskiing, the water was glass and it reminded me of when we'd get up in the early morning to hit the water before other boats were out.  Eagle Lake was so peaceful.

Day two we hiked toward Grass Lake but we ended up not making it.  There was just too much water on the path.  It was still a really nice hike, but we didn't get as far as we had hoped.

I had slept horribly the night before.  This was supposed to be a trip where I came back rested.  That didn't quite happen.  Does that mean I'm getting really old if I can't sleep anywhere but my own bed?  That's just sad.  But as we hiked, we came across this marshy, pond area.  I got on the log and there was this knot in the log that felt so good on my back.  It was like the original massage chair.  I just moved my back along the knot on the log and it felt so good!  Marcus captured the moment.

Marcus has an irrational thought of messing up at work and being fired.  On some level, it's probably a good keeps him sharp I suppose.  I have an irrational fear of being eaten by a bear.  The picture doesn't show it too well, but this print was huge.  Huge.  After we spotted this, my irrational fear went into hyper mode and I didn't enjoy the rest of the way as much.

I started to feel a little better, but I also was ok heading back.  We went another 1/2 hour or so then turned around.

Imagine my eyes open, it's a much better picture.

Marcus thought I was so silly about this bear thing until on our way back, we heard some banging noises.  There was an old campsite that was built in 1906 up there with remaining cabins.  At first, he wasn't concerned, but when it kept happening and I started moving faster, he followed.  We just couldn't think of what it could be.  So of course my mind goes to Bear, Crazy Murderer Man....I was happy to leave that train.  And I'm totally ok with my insanity by the way.

Fallen Leaf Lake.

 And we finished our trip off with the Burger Lounge...recommended to us...and it was one of the best burgers I've had.  So, there you go.  If you go to South Tahoe...head on over to the Burger Lounge.

Heading home, we hit snow and were required to buy chains for the car.  We thought they were just trying to rip us off on the side of the road, but once we got going, we were very glad we had them.  Here we were, 2 naive Tahoe travelers.  I'm so glad they stopped us and we paid for over priced chains.  Really, I am.

It was a great trip.  While we were gone, Micah went to the ER (dislocated elbow -- thanks Callie), Sammy got to school with no problem, and Callie was as helpful as she could be while still being a 6 year old.  Again, I'm so grateful for the mature, experienced trees in my life who took over so we could do this trip.  Though we didn't plan it this way, we had our 9 year wedding anniversary while we were there.  Nine years goes so quickly.  We had a rich and full 9 years and I feel so blessed and grateful.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

When Sammy is Sick...

When Sammy is sick...such as today...all hell breaks loose.  
It's just the way it is. 

Sammy throws up 
Scrub floor.
Sammy throws up
Micah ends up walking around in just a saggy diaper
Sammy throws up
I run out of towels
Callie remains fairly comatose as she watches her 2nd movie
Cancelled plans
Sammy throws up
Another load of towels in the washing machine
Dinner?  Cheese quesadillas
Dinner?  Shoot!  Dinner!  Dinner is burned.
"You know Mommy, that could start a fire."  
"Yes Callie, I know."
Sammy falls asleep on the couch.
Micah comes up and smacks her in the face!
Sammy cries.
Sammy throws up
I run out of blankets.
Found a towel!
Text Marcus, reminding him, he has the best wife ever.
Callie in hyper helpful mode
Every burp makes me jump up faster than electrodes on my chest!
Peppa Pig, Peppa Pig, Peppa Pig
Sammy throws up
Moans on the couch from daughter AND mother
"Micah!  Leave Sammy alone."
Pouty lip.
Aaaand Desitin all over his face.  WHAT?  
Sammy throws up
Alice in Wonderland
"Mom, can I have some tea?"
Calculating how much my water bill will be this month.
Micah impatiently repeats "food, food, food" but I'm pretty sure he's swearing at me...because it sounds like he's laying the mother bomb on me!  For sure.
Sammy's pale.
Super rosy lips.
I'm sure the amount of watermelon in Micah's mouth is a choking hazard.
Callie gags in the bathroom as she brushes her teeth.
"My tummy hurts."

When Sammy is sick...such as today...we experience a little bit of heaven in our home.  

Crying stops when Mommy comes nearby
Life slows down
Being Mom
Time spent together
Massaging legs and feet
Brushing hair aside
Tenderly scratching a back
Being Nurse
Singing songs from movies with Callie
Impromptu tea party
Spontaneous fun
Teaching lessons of compassion
Helping siblings serve one another
Being Teacher
Taking care of my babies
Stopping to provide what is most important
Admiring Sammy's long lashes as I hold her and look down on her face
Splashing in Callie-made puddles with Micah and Callie in the back
Amazed at the remorse in Micah and his tender kisses to Sammy after
"Sawwy"  (Sorry)
Grateful for a great husband
And grateful that I get to be home with my kids today
...that I'm there doing the laundry
scrubbing the floor
and kissing my kids

It all started out chaotic, crazy, out of control.  It felt that way anyway.  But then, when I was taking towels and blankets out of the washing machine, it hit me...I'm so grateful that I'm here.  We've been hit with a ton of sickness the past couple weeks.  I'm really done with it.  But I'm not done with doing all that stuff for my kids.  And I felt so overwhelmingly grateful for all the little moments today.  Yes, my plans changed today.  Yes, I almost gagged scrubbing the rug.  Yes, Micah was a little crazier than usual and made the entire situation a little more hectic.  But it was a great day.  I love being a mom.  I love holding and teaching and comforting and playing and pretending and preparing and cooking and loving these kids.  

I also feel super grateful that I had this glimpse of eternity today, because I know next time...I may not feel this way!  So, I'm riding this motherhood high as far up as it'll take me.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

I remember my friend, Julia, reading The Westing Game and loving it.  I tried.  I really did.  But I quickly lost interest.  I think, quite honestly, my young mind couldn't follow the story.  It changes perspectives frequently and I just couldn't keep up.  Now, nearly 25 years later, as I was looking for a new book to read and came across The Westing Game, I figured I'd give it a try.  I'm so glad I did.  Because, it was altogether awesome.

The plot: Man dies (Westing).  Leaves a ton of money for people....who are all somehow connected to him.  He accuses 1 of them of being the killer.  They have to figure out who did it in order to win the money.

Reaction: I loved it.  I really did.  It's fun and I was surprised.  I liked piecing it all together, and then being wrong, and putting it all together again.  It's a young adult Clue.  Does it get better than that?!  I really enjoyed the individual characters.  It was a good mix of personalities and backgrounds...psychologically messed up, physically disabled, submissive, and overbearing.  You have a little of everything and it blends so well together...with a GREAT ending.  I loved how it concludes.

I suggest it 100%.

Devoted: The Story of a Father's Love for His Son by Dick Hoyt

If you seriously struggle with feelings of inadequacy, I recommend NOT reading this book.  There were times while reading this book when I really thought I needed to step up my parenting game, especially when it comes to Samantha.  But overall, I was just truly, incredibly inspired.

Devoted.  The perfect title for this book.  Since the beginning, Dick has been just his son.  Rick Hoyt was born with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy.  Back then, children with disabilities were hidden, put into homes and institutions.  Parents were encouraged to do so.  But Judy and Dick Hoyt were not going to do that for their son.  No.  They were devoted to raising him just as they would any child.  They fought for Rick.  They helped him achieve all he wanted.  They helped others realize that disabilities are necessarily limiting...that we can all have the chance to accomplish the same thing...just differently perhaps.  Their motto:  Yes You Can.  For Rick, this meant, yes he can graduate from high school.  Yes he can graduate from college with a degree.  Yes he can run in races.  Yes he can conquer Ironmans!  Yes he can be an athlete...and anything else he darn well pleases.

I couldn't help but think of Samantha as I read.  What does she want to do that I can help her with?  What are her desires?  What does she feel like her body holds her back from?  If she had all the freedom in the world, what would she do...and how can I help her experience that now?  I don't know these answers, and I may never know them in this lifetime (believe me, I have a list of conversations for us to have one day!).  And that's ok.  What I do hope she knows is that I love her and am devoted to her...that I want everything for her because there's no one on this Earth that loves her more (ok...her dad may love her equally...but not MORE than me).

I also really want Sammy to understand what a blessing she is to me.  I tell her this often.  But, I want her to really understand it.  It's so easy to see how Dick is a blessing for his he is able to use all his abilities to help his son experience, first hand, competition.  It brings so much joy to Rick.  And he wouldn't have that without his father.  That's a beautiful gift.  It's the obvious blessing that we read about.  But then, if one steps back, hopefully we see that Rick has been an amazing gift to his father.  It's because of him that his father's life has changed for the better...that he's healthier, stronger, has an amazing relationship with his son, and has had the opportunity to reach out and help so many other families.  In the book, Dick tries to explain his gratitude for his son...but, honestly, the words don't truly convey what I think he tries to express.  And I think I know that because I often find my words falling short when I try to express how much gratitude I have for Sammy.  It's just a beautiful story.

Read the book.  It's inspiring the obstacles they hurdled over.  But, if you think you won't read the book, watch the video below.  It's pretty incredible what a little love and devotion has the power to do.


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