Thursday, December 11, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
(Once again, we are not sending Christmas cards out in the traditional way - see the end of this post for more on that...We hope you enjoy this online version! If you regularly read my blog, some of these stories will sound familiar, but if you don't, feel free to click the links and read some of the old posts!)
The year 2008 has been a wild ride for our family! As we sit here trying to think of a unique theme or creative 'schtick' to present a list of stuff that happened, we can't help but notice that one thing comes to mind...through all the tough stuff, we know God is with us (Deut 31:6)! So...do you remember those books called "Where's Waldo"? A couple of times we found ourselves asking, "Where's God?" So we are going to write this letter from that angle...Sometimes it will be easy to see God in the situation and other times, not so much. Be assured that we will include an answer key at the end! Here we go...
- In May, we visited Dave's father's grave with his Mom, sister-in-law and our kids to mark the 1 year anniversary of his passing. It was a nice time of prayer and stories...but it was hard too.
- Over Spring Break, we visited 'the guitar museum', as Moses is now calling it. The Discovery World Museum has an exhibit honoring Les Paul and Mo fell in love. We now have a membership and no matter how many times we go, it never gets old! We also received a zoo mebership as a gift and have been enjoying many trips there too - still can't pick a favorite animal, though!
- In June, my brother got married! The weekend turned into a mini-vacation...Dave's Mom came w/us to help w/Mo and we all checked into our REALLY NICE HOTEL on Friday night! We had a jacuzzi suite and felt like movie stars! Saturday morning we went to the guitar museum and Sunday after the wedding we hit the butterfly exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum. There was a terrible storm the night of the wedding, but inside the reception everyone was having a good time. It was a little weird for me to see some of my brother's childhood friends, all grown up w/careers and families too =) Couldn't help feeling old!
- The week before the 4th of July, Dave was playing softball and broke his ankle running into 1st base. The experience was pretty well documented on this blog...it was hard on us, for so many reasons! First of all, it was a BAD break - Dave ended up needing screws put in. It still bothers him and it will probably never be the same. Also, it was summer - as a teacher, Dave felt like this was sucking the life out of everything fun and active he was hoping to do in his 3 months off! Not to mention the fact that he had just been re-assigned to a new school (more on that in a minute) and how could he move books, supplies and furniture when he couldn't stand w/o help?? It also meant limited swimming, especially over the family reunion =( Oh I'm sure we could go on...
- At the end of the school year, Dave found out he would be re-assigned. He used to teach ELL in the middle school, but starting in Sept he would be considered a traveling teacher. Mornings in the bilingual PreK classroom and afternoons at the high school teaching ELL Math. We talked so much about Dave's fears of not being good enough in Spanish, not having any PreK experience and not wanting to change everything!! He finally had his curriculum set up and things were running smoothly. His best friend was his partner in the ELL dept and they worked so well together! Then there was the broken ankle and the thought of teaching in a school w/only 2 other males in the building! (Do you know how many times people said, "Hey the Men's room will always be empty!") Anyway - it was a huge inconvenience. Why did he get moved? Well, he was the only one in the district w/a bilingual PreK license. In a way, he felt punished for having gotten an extra certification! There was a lot of "No fair!" type comments said around our house...yes, we held a few pity parties after Mo went to bed!
- Well, despite all this, Moses has been doing really well...I think we can say he was officially potty trained sometime this past Spring! He has started memorizing Bible verses (like the one above from Deuteronomy, Isaiah 9:6a, Psalm 30:11-12 and Hebrews 11:1). We've been reading some verses to celebrate this time of Advent. He's been sleeping upstairs in a big boy bed and when he gets up before us, he gets his stool and sets the table! It's fun to walk into the kitchen and find all these kiddie plates, bowls, cups and silverware set out for us =) He was so excited to make a 'responstibilities' poster w/us and amazingly he takes pride in doing the things listed! We tried the preschool thing for a while but for various reasons he just wasn't ready...either way, he is growing into this smart, fun and independent kid!
- In early September, my (Mel's) Mom was riding her bike when it seems she was in some sort of accident. She fell, and was found bleeding from the head and unconscious. She sustained 2 traumatic brain injuries...it's a really long story, and you can read a lot about it or just contact me if you want to know more. I was scared I would lose my Mom! As I write this she is at home, she's practically made a full recovery and we still don't know what happened. We may never know why she fell off her bike or why her helmet wasn't sufficient protection. Needless to say, we tried to get to the hospital to be w/her a lot and I know that probably didn't help the situation w/Mo in preschool. We were dealing w/a broken leg, a new teaching assignment, a kid who cried in preschool and then when we felt we had so much to complain about, we realized we were just all happy to be alive and together! I can't tell you how much I cried in the month of September, but I can tell you it was probably enough to fill an ocean, or at least Lake Michigan!
- The latest change around here is our newest addition to the family - our first foster son! We are so spoiled/blessed to have this wonderfully easy 15 month old for our first placement! He makes us laugh, he is the most loved little brother in town and he has started saying a few words...it's a fun time! An amazing part of all this is to see how Mo handles it...seeing him slip into the role as big brother is cool. He always introduces his brother to everyone and is learning to trade toys when he wants something his brother has. I feel like I could talk about this part of our year forever - you all prayed for us and supported us as we prepared for this journey, so thank you and again, if you want to know more, please let us know!

So did you spot Him? Were you able to see God in all of this? Need a few hints? For starters, I think I can safely say that Dave's Mom has really felt the presence of God in the absence of her husband, John. She has been attending a Grief Share group and has been doing so well, she has been asked to lead the group at least once so far! She has done an extensive amount of traveling in the past year - Jerusalem, Spain, Hawai'i...you should see her pictures! We have been praising Him that she is doing so well...would you believe that God is also at the guitar museum? We get such joy out of seeing Mo enjoy all things musical and having a hands-on museum like that w/in a short driving distance really makes for a great family date. The mini-vacation we had during the weekend of my brother's wedding was so refreshing! I think God knew what was coming (doesn't He always?) and gave us that weekend full of good memories as a special treat! Why wasn't God at the softball game? He was! Despite all our complaining, can you imagine if that happened during the winter?? At least Dave had time off and could take it easy and heal! That's God's plan, not ours. After the pity parties, we took out the proverbial trash and realized it wasn't so bad. As for the job change - Dave still misses his middle school co-workers, but he actually likes the little kids! The ladies in the early learning center have been soooo helpful and the 2 schools are across the parking lot from each other! There is a lot of prep work but how can you complain about doing crafts and singing? (Ok that's not all he does but those are some things he likes!) Praise God that the situation we fretted about so much turned out so well...One of the best things about having kids (IMHO) is that you get to see their personality develop. God has plans for our son...will it be music? Will it be teaching? Teaching music? Only He knows! Never did we call out to God as much as we did in the days after my Mom's accident...through it all He was there. We felt His presence in the family and friends who came along side of us and prayed for us. My Mom has made this incredible recovery from a serious injury and that is nothing short of a miracle! Finally, we have been feeling like God answered our prayer for more children...it's been so long that we started to feel like He wasn't listening or we just weren't supposed to have kids. We always hear about foster kids needing placements but...anyway, we feel like our journey has been so long already, but now we feel like we're finally in the fast lane =)

Throughout this year we have been looking to God to provide us comfort, security, joy and peace. As we celebrate the day He came to Earth as one of us, we reflect on all the blessings and gifts He has given us; more importantly, how He came to save us from our sins. We also remember that He will never leave us or forsake us! I'm sure your year has had ups and downs like ours, so I hope you can hold tight to those verses from the book of Deuteronomy, as we do. We pray that the holidays will be filled with gatherings with your loved ones, safe travels and meaningful gifts...Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

With love from our family to yours!


We hope you enjoyed this green version of our Christmas card! (If you still wish to receive a paper copy, leave a comment.) There are lots of reasons we decided to do things differently this year (again!)...here's a few:
1) Save postage. We love you, but we're cheap!
2) Save paper. You just recycle those cards after you read them...you do recycle them, don't you??
3) Save printing costs. See reason #1!
4) Save stress. Nothing to print, sign, stuff, address...
5) Expand our options! Now you can see a practically limitless amount of photos.
6) Our greeting to you is saved in cyber-space for posterity! Yes, we can be that vain sometimes!
7) It went so well last year...we heard a lot of positive responses, and even some people who said they'd try it themselves. Welcome to the dark (green) side! (Sorry that was a goofy Star Wars joke...)
PS
Enjoy a slideshow of some of our favorite pics from the year!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I did it!!

I finished the first one of my Christmas projects!!  The set up is a little putzy and I made one minor error that I need to fix in the morning, but it looks good!  I can't believe that I was able to sew this and I wish I could tell the world what it is...well, Christmas is in what, 17 days??  I hope I can finish the other 6 - I think all together this took me 3hrs.  I could probably do it faster now that I know what I'm doing.  Well, mostly...LOL!  I am no 'Martha' or professional seamstress but I have a lot more confidence now =)
PS - I know I still need to finish my last 2 thankfulness posts and I have been given an award!  So that's still to come...I will try to get it done this week.  It's not getting any less busy around here!  The other thing in the works is our paperless Christmas card!!  Too much fun...Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Updates...

It's been a while since I just had a plain old update post...so here are a few things going on w/us!
  • Our foster son is still here. Not sure if he will be leaving soon....He is such a cutie and he is so easy! We are truly spoiled/blessed to have him! Moses is doing well w/him, acting like a true brother. They fight, they hug, they laugh and chase and scream together! Sometimes they are having so much fun it's like I'm not here. The noisy times I wish I wasn't! Just kidding!
  • I've issued myself a bunch of challenges this month, mostly based on the topic of discipline. Pray for me! No really, I'm not joking! I am trying to be more disciplined w/my time, our money, my jobs as a housewife...you get the drift. So far I give myself a B-. Lots of room for improvement...
  • Dave had a guys' game night a few weeks ago...something he always wanted to do! It was fun - weird for me, I guess...I came out of hibernation to switch the laundry at one point and found snack foods being served in a rusty tin! Ladies - you might want to update your hubby's tetanus shot! I just rolled my eyes and said I was embarrassed, but kept on walking. He had a fun birthday and is looking forward to playing in the snow w/the boys!
  • Moses is doing soo many things for himself these days. He helped us make a 'Responstiblities' chart and some days we don't even have to ask =) A couple of times he has gotten out of bed before us and set the table. It was so cute that first morning when I came out and all the kiddie bowls, cups and spoons were neatly arranged at each place! I cheered so loud and hugged him so hard! He just did it all on his own w/o us ever suggesting it! Too much fun =) I just taught him how to put his coat on by himself too...Dave didn't even know my trick! So I taught him and now he's going to teach a few of the 4yo's in his class too! Lol!
  • I'm plotting to make a bunch of Christmas presents. Not saying what...but I'll let you know if I get a chance to complete one. A friend is having a homemade present making party and I am soooo looking forward to it! I've never really been to a crafty Christmas party and I miss the girls!
Well, that's about all I can think of right now. I have some other posts that are almost finished...I'm just waiting on a few pics and some quiet time to form less random thoughts...so I'll be back =)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Advent w/a preschooler

I know - I know! I still have 2 more thankfulness posts to do, and 1 is half written already, but I just stumbled onto this and I'm excited =) I have been crawling over the Advent Conspiracy website (where I got the recent video) and I found preschool resources! So tonight we started...We read from the Bible, Matt 25:1-13 and talked about being ready for when Jesus comes. (Yeah, we didn't explain certain terms that come up in that passage...mostly focused on the words, "Keep watch!") Anyway, we plan to read each night about getting ready for Jesus. If you have little kids and you are looking for something Advent-related to do, check it out (better late than never!). I'm going to find our nativity scene right now...that'll probably be the only Christmas decoration for a while! Despite the snow putting me in the mood, we need to clean up a bunch of stuff before we haul out the holly, you know what I mean? Anyway, are any of you doing advent type stuff each night (w/kids or otherwise)? I was looking online and there's so many things...lots of verses from Isaiah =) But I don't think that works too well w/a 3yo. Let me know if you found something else that works for you...thanks!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Less gifts - more PRESENCE

This has been going around a bunch, but in case you haven't seen it already, please take a minute to watch this...Thanks!

I know a lot of us nod our heads and agree, but please let me encourage you to really ACT on these feelings. Take a minute to ask yourself if you're doing anything differently this year...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

30 days of thankfulness - day 28

I am thankful for my sewing machine. Dave got it for me a while back and I think it was my most 'favoritest' gift ever! I don't really know how to sew, but that's beside the point right now! I really wanted one b/c it represents the Mom/wife I want to be. Since then I have learned a lot and made a few things...recently I have made even more. I have been gaining confidence! For mostly straight stitches, mind you, but this is huge for me. I am thankful that Dave got that for me and the best part was that he listened to all my hints!! So thank you honey...and I hope to post soon about some of my sewing adventures...I am thankful for my sewing machine.

30 days of thankfulness - day 27

I am thankful for my blogging friends! There are so many bloggers out there that inspire me...
There's Joyce (who alerted me to this whole 30 days of thankfulness challenge)
Bethany (who is seriously super-mom - she builds! she cooks! she teaches! she draws! she writes! and WELL!)
Elizabeth (who cracks me up)
Revka (who is so creative)
Holly (who holds it all together as a mom of many and keeps it simple)
Shawn (who is a dad, in case you didn't already figure that out, that gives me 'the other perspective' and gives me the drive to beef up so I can carry my kids around in a pack!)
Rachel (who is so much like me, reflective and contemplative)
Jenni (who also makes me laugh, but questions things in this world too)
Jennifer (who has so many green ideas to get a family started)
and Tracy (who inspired me to write my own blog)
Now guess how many of these ladies (and Shawn) I know in real life? I would love to meet them all, of course, and I hope that someday that might happen...I pray for all these ladies (and Shawn) even though I don't know them. I know that by writing a blog, they have the power to reach and influence other people by their words and the stories of their lives that they choose to share. You have no idea (ok maybe you do, but that's the cliche) how many people mention something they saw me write about on my blog. "I never thought of trying that..." or "We really should ride our bikes more!" or "Hey - where can I get one of those??" The point is that these bloggers inspire me and I am grateful for them. Some of them read my blog, too, and leave comments which I appreciate (btw, that's not required - if I mentioned you and you don't read my blog, no worries! =) I'm not fishing for a compliment or comment...) . Anyway, it's gotten to the point that, yes, I call some of them friends even if we have never met! I am thankful for my blogging friends.

30 days of thankfulness - day 26

(We have all been sick lately, w/me getting the worst of it! So...I'm playing catch up at the end of the month in a big way. Bear w/me as I slowly get these up...)
I am thankful for our freedom of choice when it comes to education. So many times people assume that since I'm a licensed teacher and a Christian, that must mean I plan to homeschool my kids. I don't. I'm not trying to start debate over that, this is not the place! My point is simply the fact that I am so happy we can be in a place where we can all choose what we believe is best. I have friends who homeschool, friends who send their kids to public school, friends who send their kids to Christian, Lutheran or whatever private school, and friends whose kids do some kind of hybrid charter-homeschool thing. We can all choose what we like and no one hassles us about it (at least, they shouldn't!) or puts us in jail if we choose the wrong thing. Another aspect of all this is that we should be thankful our girls can attend school...sometimes I think we take that for granted too! As a teacher, as a parent and as a community member, I am thankful for our freedom of choice when it comes to education.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

30 days of thankfulness - day 25

I am thankful for my bathrobe. It's old (I got it when I left for college) and pilly and unfashionable, but don't get weirded out if I tell you I wear it every day. Most afternoons, when it's just me at home and the boys are asleep, I'm cold. That's b/c I'm too cheap to turn the heat up! But I have a simple cheap solution. I put my bathrobe on. That's right, over my clothes. I don't care if you know it! It keeps me warm. I have no shame! The only problem is that we got these new doors (where is she going w/this? Hold on...) and they don't have peep holes. So if anyone unexpected ever knocks on the door (which rarely happens in the middle of the afternoon!), I have to remember to take it off b/c random people probably don't want to see me in my bathrobe even if I have clothes on underneath!! Still! I am thankful for my bathrobe.
(Oh Joyce! Is the month nearly over yet?? I am thankful for so many things but I seem to be finding myself telling stories and secrets for no apparent reason! 5 more days!!!)

Monday, November 24, 2008

30 days of thankfulness - day 24 (warning - it's long!)

I am thankful for Dave. He is 31 years old today!! Happy Birthday honey! Here are 31 reasons why I love him...
1) He has curly hair...
2) and blue eyes.
3) He is tall (dark and handsome too!)
4) He makes me laugh.
5) He loves his family - that's one of the major reasons I fell in love w/him.
6) He loves sports like me.
7) He speaks Spanish, like me - that's how we started getting to know each other. In college we both attended InterVarsity Christian Fellowship together, but when our junior year started, it turned out we had a lot of classes together. He would always bring the crossword puzzle from the newspaper and I would fill in the stuff he didn't know! Sometimes, he'd be paying attention in class and I would sneakily fill it all out! He hated that but I think he loved it too =) He even asked me to marry him in Spanish!
8) He wants 12 kids, like me!
9) He is smart.
10) He's a hard worker.
11) He lets me stay home w/our kids. I am very fortunate that he is willing to work, help us budget and that he finds it beneficial to our kids. He encourages me a lot!
12) He takes care of me.
13) He plays music - the best part is that he is one of those guys who doesn't really read music, he just jams out to whatever he feels like! A while back he was in a jazz combo (we miss the gigs Shiji had!!) and I had so much fun going to all these coffeehouses and swing dancing! Dave loves to play blues and jazz, but also likes worship music and will play classical if you ask...
14) He was the first person to get me to do a Bible study (I think it helped that I had a huge crush on him, obviously!!). I had never done anything like that before and he asked if we could read/study the book of Job together. Yeah - the book of Job? For my first time? Yeah...that book is filled w/so much...angst and stuff!! I learned a lot. But by now I'm a lot more comfortable doing stuff like that. And I still love reading/studying w/him!
15) He likes outdoor activities like camping, biking, going to parks, etc
16) He's willing to partake in 'all that tree-hugger stuff' as he calls it! He was a little resistant to things like using hankies and what not at first, but he's totally on board now. In fact, he even catches me cheating sometimes! He has commented more than once on how he is glad we are making changes.
17) He dances like a goof, so naturally that makes me look good! LOL! I'm kidding, I know I'm a goofy dancer too! After we got married, we took a dance class together and we had some swing lessons. It was fun...even though I still don't let him lead!
18) He likes going to oddball touristy stuff when we're on vacation. Have you seen the stone cement sculptures in WI? Or that one house that has a car sunk into their front yard? I have dragged DW to enough of these 'off the beaten path' type things that he actually gets excited and finds some of his own now too.
19) He can and does smother me w/kisses!
20) He keeps me warm when we go camping and I'm sooooo coldddddd! When we were on our honeymoon, we were camping in Canada (do I need to explain that there was snow in JUNE??) and I couldn't sleep b/c my body kept shaking and bouncing from the cold. Dave wrapped his arms around my head and told me to relax and go to sleep, that he would keep me warm. I giggled so hard b/c I told him the headlines tomorrow would be about how this newly married couple was found dead in their tent and it looked like the guy smothered the girl!! All I remember after that was waking up warm...so it worked! Anyway, he is always about 30* warmer than I am so he keeps me warm a lot.
21) He is compassionate for others, like his students or foster kids, etc...
22) He reminds me of his dad. I used to get annoyed by stuff like that, but now that Dad is Home, I love seeing things in Dave that remind me of him.
23) He thinks I'm beautiful and he buys me flowers!
24) He's a great tutor/mentor. He loved being a middle school teacher...he loves having kids at the house over the summer to work on math and stuff. He enjoys getting to know them in a smaller setting and teaching to their strengths and weaknesses.
25) He gets along w/my family. He loves to talk sports w/my Dad and brother and teases my mom =) His favorite story to tell is the one where he went downstairs to talk to my dad about asking to marry me. He says he never saw the TV go off so fast!! If you ask him, he will tell you more about that story, he loves it...
26) He shares what he learns/has learned w/me. He's always teaching me music stuff (I'm always forgetting!), cooking stuff and football stuff. He was taking some classes through the Institute of Creation Research and would always share what he was learning about. I love that stuff! That's a big part of why I became a Christian! But I guess that's another story you're all still waiting on...sorry, I'll get on that sometime over this holiday weekend.
27) He still wants to grow old w/me, after almost 10 years.
28) He pulls out my wayward white hairs! Now don't you all go commenting and telling me that's a bad thing to do! I don't care. If the white ones want to hang out w/the brown ones, they are free to do so as long as they lay down nice and straight. As soon as they start standing up and getting all zigzaggy, they are pulled. And no I will never dye my hair. So just let it be. And yes, I don't really have good genes for hair color so you can just get used to seeing me w/white hair...
29) He loves me every second, even when I am irrational, inconsolable, and incommunicative. He CHOOSES to love ME. He chooses to love me and keep God at the center of our marriage.
30) He respects my body. When we first started dating, I had 'experience' and he didn't. The first big date we had was to the Madison farmer's market, to be followed by a UWBadgers game. As we walked around the capitol square, he ASKED to hold my HAND. I swear I must have stopped in my tracks b/c every guy I had ever 'dated' or 'flirted' w/, tried to do so much more w/o ever asking. They didn't really respect my body and I guess neither did I b/c I let them...at any rate, here was this guy asking to hold my hand. I was thinking, "Who does this??" But I was also thinking, "OH I am soooo going to marry this guy!" And then I was thinking, "I'd better say YES before he gives up on me!" So I said yes and he held my hand and then he dragged the puddle that was me all over town for the rest of the day =)
31) He is the man God chose for me!
I am thankful for Dave!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

30 days of thankfulness - day 23

I am thankful for our library. Yeah, this is a lame one, I guess...but seriously, I have saved a lot of money by going to the library! I get books that give me ideas, books that teach, books to read, books to read to Mo and books w/pics I like to drool over (organized homes, mostly!). We go there to let Mo play sometimes on cold winter days, to read and to check out movies. Sometimes they have story time...I also like to read the posters. They have this huge wall where they post notices about community events (remember how earlier I mentioned I know tons of activities in town?). I'm sure there are many more reasons to love the library and I'm sure you all have one too, so it's not that big of a deal, but still! I am thankful for our library.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

30 days of thankfulness - day 22

I am thankful for conviction. By conviction I mean being convinced of wrong-doing, or at least doing something that could have been done in a better way. Many times in my life I have felt a sense of conviction, sometimes for big things, sometimes for little things. Lately Dave and I have been both feeling a sense of conviction about how we spend our money and our time. We're so not rich, but we're so not broke either. We tithe. But we eat out a lot too. There are things we do well, but things we can do better. A while back Dave and I picked out some verses that we felt would be our family's 'mottos' or central values if you will. One of them was 1 Thess 4:11-12. "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work w/your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." We (especially me, working in the home) felt the part about staying busy and working was important, rather than doing things out and about. Tonight, Pastor Chuck brought to everyone's attention a bunch of verses that evoked a sense of conviction for me. After more than 10 years as a Christian, I still say, "That's in the Bible??" Here's a few that I furiously scribbled down for later reflection...(my own emphasis added)
Prov 12:24 Diligent hands will rule but laziness ends in slave labor.
Prov 30:8-9 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD ?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
Col 3:23 What ever you do, work at it w/all your heart, as working unto the Lord.
2 Cor 9:11 You have been made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
Pastor Chuck is our new pastor and he usually ends sermons by challenging us to take action. I've already discussed my sense of conviction about these topics before w/Dave and we've already plotted a course of action (things like eating out less, giving more, teaching our kids the value of hard work - as in Mo has a job list now! etc)...and I believe that will only result in thanksgiving to God! I am thankful for conviction.
(sorry - I just re-read this post and realized how much I rambled. I tried to tie too many things together! I just got so excited when I came home from service...oh well...I hope tomorrow's post will be a little clearer!)



30 days of thankfulness - day 21

I am thankful for my marriage of almost 10 years. To say you've done something for 10 years (at least for me!) is pretty amazing. For 10 years I've done my best to communicate w/Dave, I've commented on his hair and clothes before he left the house, I've listened to his stories about classes or teaching, I've opened myself up to his family, I've watched him cook me dinner, I've curled my short legs up in bed so his long ones could stretch out diagonally, I've traveled w/him, I've been the nervous one who demanded a plan for everything, I've embarrassed him, I've prayed w/him...etc...there are so many things we've done together. I hope I never take them or him for granted! We got married kind of young compared to a lot of people our age and wow - the first year was NOT something I'd like to repeat! But we both worked hard to keep God in the center of our marriage and then we blinked and here we are! We know and have known people that are/were married a lot longer, so it's not like we're going to win a prize for longest marriage ever or anything, but having a relationship like this w/someone is still a beautiful thing. =) I am thankful for my marriage of almost 10 years.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 20

I am thankful for memories. I don't know if that's the right word to describe it, but maybe you'll get it after I explain. Today I took the boys and visited my Grandpa. He kept asking Moses, "Have you been lost? Where have you been?" because we don't get there often enough! At one point Mo brought out the toy Mobil truck. My Grandpa used to drive a Mobil truck, back in the day when he made deliveries to each farm in town and such. He started to tell Mo about a picture of his truck and wondered aloud where that picture was. You know me, a sucker for photos and stories, I remembered a few boxes upstairs and dragged them out. We found so many...some I had never seen before!! I wanted to grab a pen and scribble down every last word he said...who they were, why was that truck upside down in the snow, this was the wedding of what relative? and can you believe they took apart a house and used the materials to build this one!! Most of these photos are starting to get bent or tattered from being loose in a box and again, you know me, we can't have that! Some time soon, I hope to get back there and organize them, label them, protect them. Have you ever thought about how people can remember details from things that were nearly one hundred years ago?? I can't even remember what I ate for dinner last night!!! But hearing stories about CC camp, my Grandma's family, when my Grandpa was in the Army, etc made me so thankful...Grandpa asked me, "You like hearing all this stuff?" Of course I do!! He wanted to tell me more but the boys were getting restless. All those stories and memories help me see my Grandpa in a new way. The emotion in his voice, the way he laughs and the pride he has in seeing his family...it's beautiful. I am thankful for memories.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

30 days of thankfulness - day 19

(This post is sort of related to the last one...)
I am thankful for all the things this community has to offer us as a family. There is an art museum w/a kids' creation room, a large hotel w/a water park, an indoor sports facility, a good library w/a play area, a dying mall that recently put in a play area, lots of parks, a community recreation dept w/lots of programs, a Y, Lake Michigan beaches, a state park, humane society, a bike path, thrift stores, a kids' museum, a Family Resource center, etc...I know I'm forgetting some things and I'm sure the local people will remind me! We also have so many more things I could mention that are in the surrounding area, like less than a half hour away, but who likes to read lists? I usually read the newspaper's event listings and find all sorts of fun stuff to take the kids to...car show, tractor exhibit/planes/petting zoo at the airport, sand castle contests, largest worldwide freshwater surfing contest, brat days, pancake breakfasts, etc. I find them and invite everyone I know to go! They make fun of me that I'm like some kind of county tourism director or something...if only I got paid for it! (PS - if anyone from the tourism dept is reading this, I would love to work from home for you! You have no idea how much power a stay at home momma has in the advertising dept!) I am thankful for all this community has to offer us as a family.

30 days of thankfulness - day 18

I am thankful for cultural diversity in my community and in my life. This town has a very large Hmong population, the 5th highest in the nation. We also have a large Hispanic population. Among other reasons for appreciating this are the grocery stores and restaurants! I just bought some sticky rice at the 'Oriental Market' (that's the name of the place, I didn't call it that to be un-PC). I enjoy going in there and seeing the different foods w/labels that I can't read. The cool thing is that almost every time I ask someone, they are more than happy to teach me about the food and products there! (Why, you ask, does someone who doesn't cook get into this stuff? Remember I like learning! New foods and tastes fascinate me, that doesn't mean I want to cook them!) I love how the Hmong culture has a strong sense of family. Almost everyone is related and they really take care of each other. They respect older generations, too, which is something I wish more American people did. Anyway - the reason I brought all this up is that Dave and I frequently comment on how by living here and teaching in the ELL field, Moses is exposed to WAAAY more people of different cultures than we ever were growing up! I believe that is to his benefit. He loves going to Hmong New Year and seeing all the money on their clothes, he loves eating quesadillas and hitting pinatas, he always tries to speak Spanish like us!! He knows a lot of words and phrases (A LOT more than I thought! His newest is "No hay fuego!") but when he hears people talking in a stream of Spanish he will make it up and join in. We all get a good laugh out of that! I am thankful for diversity in my community and in my life.

30 days of thankfulness - day 17

I am thankful for our CSA box. When Dave and I started dating, our meals together consisted of things like hamburger helper, brats, and meat and potatoes. When we got married, we pretty much widened the meat category (a lot of our meals were cooked by Dave, would you have guessed?! =) Remember, I am not much of a cook...) As the years went on, we got a little fancier and added pastas (my favorite!) but they usually had to have brats or meat in them too. Are you seeing a theme? Before we had Mo, we tried the Atkins diet. It worked well for us, but we mainly focused on the meat and not much else. When we were pregnant w/Mo, I kept warning my meat-loving hubby that now we would need to start eating better. As in, fruits and veggies! He would eat fruits under duress, and he mostly liked the expensive ones! But veggies? Do potatoes count? Yeah...anyway - fast forward to the part where we make casseroles w/veggies in them. That's acceptable. Occasionally we eat veggies on the side of our meat. For the children! But this past year we signed up for a CSA box (Community supported agriculture) and it has definitely changed us =) We eat salads, drink green smoothies, get creative w/our recipes and even eat some meatless meals - *GASP*!! Shhh, don't say it too loud, the meat gods will strike us down! LOL!!! Anyway, this is our last week, I think, before the storage share comes. Then we will be up to our ears in potatoes and onions! I think there will be a lot of potato soup in our freezer...I am thankful for our CSA box.

30 days of thankfulnees - day 16

(I am falling behind! So sorry - Joyce how do you do it??)
I am thankful for access to technology. (I hope I didn't do this one already!) Every day I can log into my computer and read email from people far away, check facebook and reconnect w/some really great kids I babysat for, check the online grocery ad, read updates and get well wishes for my mom, see if the library has a book I want to read, track sports teams, do my banking, read mommy blogs, search for scripture, read the local daily news...etc......By technology, I also mean stuff like phones, cameras, dishwasher, washing machine, TV/DVD, etc. There is so much technology in my life that MANY people in the world will never experience in their whole lifetime! Many of you know about my mom's accident and when she went to the rehab center, my dad got her a cell phone. She started calling lots of people and sometimes, if we weren't home, she'd leave multiple messages! I LOVED coming home and hearing her voice...I saved 7 of those messages. Dave thinks I'm crazy but if you could only hear them you'd understand. People, I almost lost my mom. The 7 messages represent a mountain that she climbed...in the first one, she speaks quietly and slowly, deliberately...in each message she sounds better. In the latest one, she practically sounds like the mom I knew before the accident! I won't be erasing those messages for a while. I am thankful for the access to technology.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

30 days of thankfulness - day 15

I am thankful for someday. Today I hung out w/some girlfriends and there was talk of what we hope to do 'someday'. It got me thinking about how I used to think of someday and how some things turned out that way and some didn't...
I used to think all I wanted was to be a kindergarten teacher. I was a Spanish and ELL teacher and now I'm a stay at home mom.
I used to think I would live far, far away from my hometown (doesn't everyone?!) but now I live less than an hour from there.
I used to think I was going to marry my HS sweetheart (we dated for 4 years and he all but proposed - a friend talked him out of it!). I don't regret those days, but I believe it was God's plan that I marry Dave and I am soooo much happier w/that!
I used to think I would have a ton of kids (I still want that) but now I know (again) God's plan is different. Most days I can handle that. Some days I can't. But I believe God gave me this desire for a purpose...so I'm working on waiting patiently!
I used to think I had to keep all the traditions my family did/had...now I know that I can make my own. I struggle sometimes thinking that not keeping them shows disrespect, but they know me and they know that's not my intentions.
NOW...I think someday we will move out to the country. I think someday we will go on a missions trip (hopefully someday soon!). I think know someday Moses will be taller than me, sooner rather than later! I think someday I will be the Mom who goes to parent teacher conferences and then goes home and hugs my kid for doing so well in band, or choir or orchestra...I think someday I will be the kind of Mom who goes to the Homecoming game and makes her kid check in every quarter. I think someday I will be the kind of Mom (like mine!) who would rather have those boys over at our house than out. I'll ask them all kinds of questions and suggest good girls for them to date. LOL!! Oh I could go on...I am thankful for someday.

Friday, November 14, 2008

30 days of thankfulness - day 14

I am thankful for my best friend Dawn! It's her birthday today, so happy birthday girl! I don't know if you all know this but she is pretty much the reason I got saved. Well, her and God of course, but...you know what I mean! There are a few things you should know about my girl Dawn:
1) She is an expert seamstress! She made the dress I wore when I stood up for Dave's sister's wedding. She always makes matching dresses for her and her daughter Eden and they looked like they stepped out of a catalog!
2) Her wedding was one week before mine. Yeah when we lived together it was like wedding central - there was lots of talk about all that...Dawn and her new hubby came back from their honeymoon early so she could be my matron of honor. That was an incredible gift to me! I was so happy to share that day w/her!
3) Dawn and I moved into our apartment between sophomore and junior year of college during the summer. EARLY! We didn't have a TV at first - we used to just sit and watch the fish tank!! We slept in until lunch, got dressed around 2, got sick of watching the fish by 4, talked about dinner and got back into our pjs around 6! LOL! I am laughing so hard typing this b/c we used to just lay around - no one was on campus yet and we didn't have a car and we were so bored! But we laughed all the time!! I don't remember what about, but it was nuts. We were so crazy...
4) Dawn was the first Christian I knew really up close and personal. She used to lay in the bottom bunk and read me stuff from the Bible that I never knew was there. One time she told me the story of this couple that lied and God just struck them down dead. I couldn't get over that - I think I even asked her, "It really says that? Dead?" I remember that Dawn listened to VCY radio a lot and I thought it was such stuffy old people music, but the first time I heard the song "Because He Lives" I cried. That song says a lot of what I was feeling during those times. After that I didn't mind VCY so much.
5) We've known each other since the summer before high school. For those of you doing the math, that's like 17 yrs!! We have been comfortable w/each other for a very long time. So comfortable that...we always talk about GI stuff (not the Army kind of GI either!). That's all I'm going to say about that, but Dawn, you are the best and I love you!
I am thankful for my best friend Dawn.
(ps - photo coming soon - like as soon as I get it in the scanner...)

30 days of thankfulness - day 13

I am thankful for the comfort of God's word. Lately I have been feeling a little pouty and left out. I feel like everyone else is having a baby, getting a new house, starting (and completing!) a project they always wanted to do...and I feel like I'm just not being heard or something. I don't know how to explain it, it's a mood. I will snap out of it soon, I know...I am really excited for my friend Wendy, who FINALLY had her baby girl! She is named River Ruth, and I think the name is pretty. May it always remind us of the water of life, offered to us by Jesus Himself...anyway, I'm getting off topic here. You can tell I'm behind in writing these and now I am not sounding very polished and put together right? Well, my point today is that I often find comfort in God's word. When Dave and I started dating, I used to get these panic attack type things and he would recite Psalm 23 for me. Later, when I'd get all anxious and fret about stuff out of my control, he'd remind me to read God's word. I can't tell you how many times my sullen expression would change b/c I'd crack open the Bible and find a verse that seemed to jump out at me!! My other favorite thing about God's word is that so many times in the Bible, things from the OT and the NT line up and almost validate themselves, if you will. That's cool...well, I'm not a pastor or anything, but I find that reading God's word reminds me that He is all the comfort I need. He will never leave me or forsake me...I am thankful for the comfort of God's word.

30 days of thankfulness - day 12

I am thankful for my renovated kitchen! I have been trying to be more domestic lately (don't laugh, I have been trying really hard) and it every now and then my hubby and I comment on how big a difference this renovation has made. We knocked out a wall and had a peninsula put in, we've got more cabinets, we've got more counter space, the table is out of the center of the room....etc....I guess this is a pretty selfish thing to be thankful for. Sometimes I try to blame my poor attitude about things in the kitchen on other stuff, but it's really just me. I am reminded today how much I have been blessed to have this (relatively) new space and how comfortable I feel here...I am thankful for my renovated kitchen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 11

I am thankful for the veterans and those that are currently serving in the armed forces. Say what you want about war (and by that I mean please don't post comments about whether or not we should be in one!), but I believe that the troops should be supported NO MATTER WHAT. Look, us individual citizens don't get to decide if, where, when or how long they are involved, so the least we can do is support them. On that note, here are a few links...
adoptaussoldier.org
soldiersangels.org
adoptasoldierministries.org
anysoldier.com
forgottensoldiers.org
There are probably a ton of them out there...but if you could take the time to pray for them, I know God answers prayer. Like I said, it's the least we can do! I am thankful for the veterans and those that are currently serving...
John 15:13 KJV Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

right here in li'l ol' WI!

I found this company in WI that turns your old blue jeans into insulation! Who knew?? So if you are someone looking to insulate or build, please check this place out!

Monday, November 10, 2008

30 days of thankfulness - day 10

I am thankful for I Love Lucy/Lucille Ball! I'm sorry, I hate it when people endorse random things on their websites, but I'm having the kind of day where I need a laugh and that show always makes me laugh. I of course like the episodes where Lucy is in the vat of grapes trying to make wine and gets in a fight w/the European woman, and the one where she is trying to work on the candy line and can't keep up, the Vitameatavegamin one where she gets drunk doing the commercial! The one that really gets me is the when the Ricardo's have moved to the country and she tries to make bread....all I know is that the bread starts coming out of the oven and pushes her up against the wall...I have to go find that episode now! There are lots of other current/recent shows that make me laugh but I think Lucy is some good clean fun! Plus, I've always been into women who excelled in fields previously dominated by men =) Another woman comic who claims Lucy as her inspiration is Bonnie Hunt - have you seen her in anything? She's funny too! Well, what are some of your favorite shows? Do you have a person that makes you laugh no matter what they are in? I am thankful for I Love Lucy/Lucille Ball!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

30 days of thankfulness - day 9

I am thankful Moses has 2 parents. For the time being, Ayden does too, I guess. Last night Dave stayed home w/a sick Mo while Ayden and I went to church. Today, Dave and Ayden went while Mo and I stayed home. So many times, Dave and I have marveled at how single parents do it! It's such a blessing to be able to relieve each other and work together to raise him/them. There are so many other deep reasons, but I'm not really going to preach about them here. I think there are so many benefits for Mo, but my point is simply the fact that I'm grateful parenting is something Dave and I can do together. I am thankful Moses has 2 parents.

30 days of thankfulness - day 8

I am thankful for the gift of teaching/learning. As you know, I'm a teacher and so is Dave. But that's not the kind of teaching I'm talking about...tonight I went to church and heard a missionary speak. He told some awesome stories, but that's not the point. I really felt like I learned something from him and I appreciate that. There have been so many teachers in my life that I am thankful for! My first Spanish teacher is an amazing lady...I always wanted to be like her and maybe someday I will. I learned a lot from my BFF Dawn Mills and basically got saved b/c of her! I learned a lot from Dave, from a Spanish professor named John Stone, from Pastor Joe Grier at Grace Chapel, from a guy I dated in HS who was a mechanic, from speakers at church, from Margaret Homer, from other moms who seem to do stuff so much better than me, from other bloggers who post recipes, ideas and patterns, and I'm sure I could go on. Yes, it's an awesome feeling to teach someone something, but it's an even better feeling to learn. My parents always would look stuff up for us when we asked tough questions - we made a lot of trips to the library! - and they are still great models for learning. I am thankful for the gift of teaching/learning.

Friday, November 7, 2008

30 days of thankfulness - Day 7

I am thankful for the miracle of healing! More specifically, the miracle that is my Mom's healing. Today, after nearly 2 months of being in the hospital and a rehab facility, my Mom comes home. As in home home! Home to sleep in her own bed and eat her own food!! Two months ago she was in a bad bike accident and suffered 2 severe traumatic brain injuries. Now she walks w/o a cane, she has passed many physical and mental 'tests' they have given her and she is making dinner for my Dad tonight! I don't think there are words in the English language to describe our joy! Praise God, for this would never have been possible w/o the miracle of healing. I myself have been witness to a few other times that people have been healed, and those experiences make my faith stronger. I know a lot of you already know the story behind Moses - how we just couldn't seem to have kids. Despite wanting 12!! Anyway, there was a faith healer who came to church and I told people (mostly DW) that I didn't really believe in that and why bother going. Many people strongly encouraged me to come...but I didn't go. DW played piano for the service and I had to pick him up when it was done. I got there and they were still going strong! Not wanting to be there and grumbling I slinked into the back and slumped in a chair. Another couple from church (their last name is Holycross - isn't that cool??) came a almost literally dragged me up there. They got Dave and the man prayed over us. I cried and could hardly talk. I felt hot, embarrassed, nervous and overwhelmed. I didn't know why I cried! Anyway - the faith healer told me he prays over women in churches like this all the time and he comes back in 9 months and there's a baby explosion...I walked out thinking, "Yeah whatever..." One month later we found out we were pregnant. And then it seemed every women around me was pregnant!! There were honestly 20+ babies born in 2 months of each other!! I should know, I was the nursery coordinator!! Mo shares his birth week w/7 other kids from the church. So yes, I believe in 'all that' now. I believe I was healed and I plan to go get prayed over by the same man at the end of this month! So I am (very!) thankful for the miracle of healing!

30 days of thankfulness - Day 6

I am thankful for Ayden. Our foster son will most likely go back to his Mom, sooner rather than later, which is good. But I am thankful he has been w/us for so many reasons! I feel like having a foster child is a sign that God is answering our prayer, He hasn't forgotten about us, we can be good parents etc...I am thankful I had the chance to see my son Moses help care for another child like his brother. I learned a lot about Mo over the past 3 weeks and I think he has learned a lot about our unconditional love as a family too! He 'gets it' that we aren't replacing him or giving more love to someone else...I am thankful for the practice! Having a little one in the house again is an amazing reminder of Matthew 18:3-5. We are so blessed to be a part of something bigger...

30 days of thankfulness - Day 5

I am thankful that I know Jesus. I plan to write my testimony out tonight and add it to this post. It's something I've been meaning to do...so I'm cheating a little and just giving the 'teaser' to this one right now....

30 Days of Thankfulness - Day 4

I am thankful for this blog! Ok, this is sort of a silly one, but I just realized that my 1 year blogversary (or however you want to say it!) came and went on Oct 29. I thought of it like a week before it happened and mentally planned this cool post...anyway, I am thankful for this blog for a couple of reasons. It's like therapy for me! It serves as a baby book when I can't remember momentous things in Mo's life. It helps me communicate w/friends and family. It indirectly holds me accountable - when people ask me about stuff I wrote, I know you're all reading/watching and keeping tabs on me =) That's good! I think having a blog gives meaning to the stuff I do. Not that it wouldn't have meaning otherwise, but look, it makes me feel important, ok? Anyway, I am thankful for this blog. I think you should all go out and write one! If you do, let me know. I hope to start a "Mel reads" thing in the sidebar...

Monday, November 3, 2008

30 days of thankfulness - Day 3

I am thankful for my neighbors. This will probably sound a lot like my last post, but I know the neighbors are always watching out for the kids and they bring them special treats and stuff...When we first moved here, DW and I were a little disappointed b/c most (ok, almost ALL) of the neighbors are quite a bit older than us. The ones on each side could be our grandparents! We thought, "Oh bummer, our kids won't have anyone to play w/!" What we didn't think of was the fact that these people would treat our kids like their own grandkids and would treat us much like their own kids! Moses loves to see what Sarge is working on, he loves to talk to Leon about the fish he caught...One time, during the summer, Moses window upstairs was open. He was supposed to be going to sleep and I heard him yelling. "SARGE!! Sarge - whatcha doin'?" I had to control my laughter before I went up to scold him! The neighbors watch the house when we are gone and they are ever so thoughtful. I hope someday to be as good of a neighbor as they are!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

30 days of thankfulness - Day 2

I am thankful for the relationships we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Today was a hectic day at church...long story...but so many times I knew that other people were looking out for Moses, caring for Ayden, asking us how things are going etc. I love our church family! We have learned so much from others, we have been so blessed by others, we have been prayed over/for by others and we feel so loved! I'm sure we could have relationships w/people outside of church (and we do) but there is almost an unspoken deepness to those we have w/in the church.

30 days of thankfulness - Day 1

(I know I'm a wee bit late to jump into this challenge, but Joyce at Tall Grass Worship is doing this challenge and I had to join. I have so many things to be thankful for...so let's pretend this is Nov 1 today and then I'll go write the Nov 2 post ok?)

I am thankful for physical ability. I'm not a talented athlete but there are a lot of things I can do (don't laugh!). Today I biked to church. It was hard and I complain a lot but the truth is I have no physical handicap or limitation. I can get on my bike and ride anytime. I can walk home from a hair appt (something else I did today), I can use the push mower on the lawn, or I can run after my boys. I do not struggle w/things like diabetes or sickness, much less something like ALS or CP. Many times I pray for people who are suffering, but rarely do I say a prayer of thanks for my own health. I'm not trying to sound modest or whatever, I just mean that I don't think of these things! I take for granted the way my body works. I have aches and pains and I keep asking DW when I got old, but seriously, I am capable of doing a lot of physical activity. So today, I am thankful for physical ability.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Just a taste

So today was a tired, clingy, crying day w/2 kids and I got a taste of what this life could be like. It's hard! (No complaints - I wouldn't trade it for the world...) I managed...we found out from the case worker that this could be a long term placement. Last night we talked about attachments and stuff. The little guy (in one week!) has developed an attachment to me! Hopefully he will get to see his mom tomorrow and we can have more visits in the future to start and keep up a healthy attachment w/her too. I think we are all doing pretty well, just gotta get enough sleep. One night a week is ok. Last night we all went down to see my Mom! That was really nice b/c I hadn't seen her in over a week! She always amazes me...well, I hope that tonight or tomorrow I can post a photo slideshow update. There is so much to talk about! I know I keep saying I will, but I'm serious. I miss blogging! I'm off to do some cleaning since both boys are amazingly asleep at the same time...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Our foster son is here!!

Yipee! He is almost 14 months old and he walks...So far he has given me some tips on babyproofing and crashed in the crib. I wonder what kind of day he's had...the case worker called while I was at a zoo (30 mins away) and said he was in her office. Today was a little bit of a situation and when could we take him? I read up on him and there are no major issues, he just needs a lot of love, stability and attention =) I think we can handle that! Moses is not exactly sleeping, I can hear him banging around up there but go figure. He seems happy to have a 'brother' and has already been caught rubbing his hair and kissing him. He shared his toys extremely well (even the tools!!) but not his lunch. He didn't really want the kid stealing the crusts from his sandwich - who can blame him? Those crusts must go in the trash can, like they do every day - if they're not good enough for Mo, they're not good enough for anybody! Well, I shouldn't be spending time doing this...although it requires less energy than other things right now...I will be writing more later, as I can, of course! I have a feeling a bunch of posts are going to have the same label for a while...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

No news is not good news

So, if the SW doesn't call 2 days later, ya think that's a good sign? B/c I don't. She said she wanted to find a place for him by Fri and I said, "Great, have the case worker call me w/more details!" I'm thinking now that we may not get a call until it's closer to Fri. And well, that is 2 days away...is this how it works?? The house is way too quiet right now (DW's at a home visit and Mo is still asleep!) so I'm just sitting here praying for this little guy we haven't even met yet! I'm sure I've quoted it here before, but I'm reminded of the verse 2 Peter 3:8-9...it's so easy for God to wait for all of us to 'get it' (it took me over 20 years!) and we are I am so impatient for Him to 'get' what I want and just make it happen already! Anyway - I need to go and drag my kid out of dreamland now. He's my dinner date =) Wish I had more news...promise to write more even if I don't...

Monday, October 13, 2008

FOSTER KID!!!!

I cannot believe this - I just got a call from the SW and we may be getting a foster kid - NOWWW!! Ok, not this minute but as soon as the case worker for this kid calls us!! WOOHOO!!! I am so excited and I want to tell everyone and facebook won't let me log on - interrupted server or something dumb - so I am going to the roof right now to make some sort of official town announcement I am so happy and I cannot wait to meet this kid and sorry I keep saying kid I know it sounds uneducated but I can hardly contain myself!

Ok, I'm better...still excited but a little more calm now =) Please...I know this poor blog has been lonely lately...please pray for us. Things w/my mom are going A LOT BETTER (praise God!) but we wouldn't be here w/o a lot of prayer. Please pray for us! I promise to update the blog - I have tons of things to talk about, not to mention about this foster journey =) The last thing I want to say is that God is good - w/o Him nothing would be possible. When we feel like we can't or it just isn't happening, He is there. THANK YOU JESUS! Amen =)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Still here!

I know it seems like I have gone...but I've just been taking time to 're-group'. After everything that has been going on w/my Mom, I didn't feel like talking much. When I did, I felt bad that everything I had to say was, well, depressing and frustrating. Lately things have been really looking up - Mom has been doing well in the sub-acute rehab facility! Praise God! She is talking, calling people on her new cell phone, working in therapy, asking questions about life 'on the outside' and interacting w/other residents. Her attitude is completely different most of the time and we are all feeling blessed, positive and happy =) If you want to know more, you can always go to http://carepages.com/visit and type in bonniesblog (no apostrophe). At any rate, there have been a bunch of other things going on that I'd love to talk about! First a quick update on each of us...
1) Me - I have been enjoying a break from leadership of all kinds of activities...sometimes I miss the parents group or stuff at church, but honestly, I couldn't have done it during this time. I signed up for a few activities I was interested in at the ministry fair but I haven't been to any of them yet. There was the prayer quilt ministry, the 'health club', the walking group and of course the scrapbooking group! Mostly I've been trying new things in the kitchen, trying to keep us stocked w/healthy snacks and doing things like using the dehydrator for apples and potatoes. I love getting the CSA box on Tues and we've all enjoyed smoothies, quiches and veggie pizzas =)
2) DW - wow - he's finally settling in as the Pre-K bilingual teacher...He loves playing guitar for the kids and is still trying to get used to the crafts and stuff. He's still playing on the worship team, just not as often. He's been riding the city bus since we only have one car and I am impressed that he actually doesn't mind it! His ankle was better, then he got the screws out, so...it's back to being a little sore again. Mostly, Dave has been helping me around the house and taking Mo to the zoo when we go visit my Mom in the hospital. Now that she's in the new place, she can handle Mo for longer periods of time, but it was awesome that the boys would go off so I could enjoy time w/my Mom.
3) Moses - well, we tried preschool...2 days a week for 2.5 hours each. It didn't go well. He is really young compared to the other kids, all this stuff w/my Mom, he didn't know a soul! We could make a bunch of excuses, but the bottom line is he wasn't ready. So now we get to hang out together! He is such a funny kid - singing P & W songs, telling stories, making superman capes from crepe paper (??), wearing my shoes, making me lunch in the sandbox, doing all the things a 3yo boy should be. That, and oh how could I forget? We have our occasional fits thrown in there to make life interesting tiring!
So I think that catches you all up in a nutshell...if time I will post again tonight!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I crack myself up

A while ago I made a double batch of chili. I froze some. Apparently I wrote on the plastic bag. Last night I was stressing and not focusing. I felt like I had 10 things to do and they were all top priority! I put the bag of chili in a sink full of hot water. At one point I flipped it over. The bag said, "Chill out - it's chili!" I laughed so hard I cried =) Stuff w/my mom still kind of sucks. Like my SIL and I were talking about, it's almost like we're sick of people asking. What should we say? We feel like we're too depressing to hang out w/anyone. I'm not telling people not to ask, please, it's nice, just understand if I give you a short answer. There are good times and bad, but I keep remembering that I'll take the bad times over losing my Mom any day! If you haven't already checked out the blog for more specific info, go over to http://carepages.com/visit and type my mom's name: Bonnie Conway. There's plenty of info there...I update that blog more than I used to update this one! Anyway, we are still doing fun/normal stuff like going to the zoo and having park picnics here and there...I just signed up to go to the pumpkin farm field trip w/Mo's preschool, so we're looking forward to that =) I'm grateful that DW is helping out around the house and allowing me to go to the hospital so often. We are still going to church every week - that's like our anchor right now. No matter what we will not miss that. This past weekend the new pastor talked about how we need more than that to get to our 'boiling point' but right now the only other spiritual food is some Bible time and P&W music! That's what we can carve time out for...for now. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I will be MIA for quite some time now. I'll be sure to post some pics soon so you know I'm still alive and having fun, even if I look like a tired ghost!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fall follies

We are sleeping outside tonight! Life has been so crazy around here lately that I didn't really want to at first. But hearing the absolute JOY in Mo's voice as we got our bedding in and changed into jammies was awesome! I'm just getting a flashlight and our pillows. But from the window in our room I can hear Mo singing a made-up camping song =) I'm not sure if he'll actually sleep out there, but...we'll see. Camping in the backyard seems so lame to DW and myself, but w/Mo it's like this huge adventure! Oh to have the perspective of a 3yo at times...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Update on Mom

Last night my mom pulled out her own breathing tube and used her toes to pull out her catheter! She is so sassy...today she asked my dad, "Please can you take this collar off?" (she's wearing a neck brace to stabilize her broken clavicle.) She said our names, she keeps asking to have her mittens taken off...one time I told her it wasn't the right time yet and she said, "The time is now!" She's ready to be done w/all this stuff, but she needs to go slow. Please keep praying that her progress is good but all in good time. I won't bother writing more, if you want you can check out the care page =)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mom

Hey - I realized that I feel like I told everyone about my mom's care page, but I didn't put it here...
Go to carepages.com/visit and type 'bonniesblog'. I have been updating there more often and I doubt I will post much here anytime soon. Thanks for all the prayers and support - I know a bunch of you are on facebook and have posted well-wishes there =) It's awesome. Every time I see my mom I tell her about all the people praying and asking about her. It is definitely appreciated!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Urgent prayer needed

I don't know where to start - my mom is at the hospital and it appears she was hit by a car on her bike. She has a traumatic brain injury, 2 skull fractures, multiple pelvic fractures, cracked ribs...she had major brain surgery today on both sides. At best, she has a long road to recovery and at worst we could lose her. I'm sorry to be so blunt. I am still in shock I guess. But I know that many of you pray and I ask for prayer for my mom and my dad, too. My brother is taking it really hard, too. I don't know what else to say. I probably won't be around much. I will update when I can. Thank you for your prayers...they have no other evidence (besides injuries) of hit and run, but the doctors all agree that it must be. Scary. Please hug your family and tell them you love them...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Firsts

I just dropped my baby off at his first day of school. I am holding it together =) I wiggled a little and asked for an extra hug. I only swallowed hard once. I'm doing really good. I took some pics on the front stoop and by one of the apple trees. I didn't take my camera into the classroom, like some other parents. I decided we'd just enjoy the moment and not make any more fuss. Maybe next week when he feels a sense of ownership to the place, we'll take some pics. He was soooo excited to find trucks and diggers and toy cameras and a crayon box bigger than him =) I know there will be many stories about school today! And now I need to make use of this new child-free time and go do everything I've been putting off...wish me luck!

Monday, September 8, 2008

I am affluent

(For those of you who haven't heard of it, the acronym APLS stands for Affluent Persons Living Sustainably. I found this group of people who are like minded online and have enjoyed reading blog entries and discussion posts. The latest APLS topic has been defining affluence and I feel inclined to join in. Please understand that even though the presidential election is coming up, I am not attempting to 'politicize' this issue. I'm not trying to make you agree w/me or vote for some candidate or anything, I'm just hoping to give you a window into my mind. I meditated on this topic today and this is just a rambling post of my thoughts this morning...)
I am Mel and I am affluent.
I wake up, on top of two different kinds of mattresses and under a pile of blankets (I'm always cold!). Some people in my own community sleep on the floor. I stumble to the bathroom and remember people I have met w/o indoor plumbing. I can hear my son coming down the steps. Our house has 4 bedrooms for 3 people. It holds all our stuff and then there's a garage which holds even more. Some people don't have a vehicle, bikes, clothes, toys, and random other stuff so they don't need all the space. Other people just don't have the means for the stuff or the house. I think about Moses. We wanted to have a baby so bad and struggled w/infertility. We had lots of doctor appointments, tests, medications...some people don't have access to medical care at all, much less good medical care. When the little guy was born, we received sooo many nice gifts! We took a lot of those things we 'needed' for granted, I'm sure. We open the cupboard that contains 4 boxes of cereal, discuss other options like eggs, home made granola, or toaster waffles. None of this stuff was hard to obtain or make. The grocery store is 5 blocks away and they never have empty shelves. We are never hungry or lack ingredients to make basic dishes. After breakfast I flip on Sesame Street. Moses has picked up a lot of colors, numbers, shapes and concepts like frustration, surprise and imagination w/help from that show. He is a kid who will never be denied an education. He is so smart already and we have many options to further his education. We go to the library a lot. Some people never see that many books in their lifetime! I start the water in the tub so it gets hot. It's clean and flows freely. I can 'afford' to let it run. We wash dishes, pick up toys, play games, ride bikes outside...there are material things everywhere. My husband is at work, a job he is adjusting to. We can't complain, he works around a 40 hour week and makes a decent salary, a huge salary by many others' standards. Rarley does he need to put in extra hours and it never crosses our minds for either of us to find other employment. His working conditions are so good, he is comfortable, safe, and healthy. The schedule is such that he doesn't have classes on Weds, so it makes the week go fast. He also gets summers off. When I think of the vacations we have taken... and the material things - I'm overwhelmed. In Mark 10:21, Jesus spoke of selling everything and following him. What if we did that?? How much money would we have?? $100,000 - maybe twice that? Who knows?? What would I do w/all that money? Jesus said to give it to the poor. Who are they? I think of orphans, mostly. A lot of you know me and my heart for children, so I guess that's why. I never thought of myself as rich. Affluent. But if there was a price tag on everything I have ownership of, if I think of all the blessings in my life that aren't even material things...well, there's a reason I called this blog The Good Life. Even on the worst day, I know in my heart of hearts that I have it WAY better than most. Where does this leave me? I should be in a perpetual state of thanks. That word doesn't even begin to explain the way I feel. I choose to thank God for my blessings in prayer, I sing His praises b/c He provides for me and my family. I am Mel and I am affluent.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

This rocks!

A nearby town posted this article in their newspaper...
http://www.sheboyganpress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080904/SHE0101/809040484&referrer=FRONTPAGECAROUSEL
I thought this idea was awesome! Our church has a really large 'backyard' if you will and I am thinking of trying to bring up this idea next year. I know lots of people who like to garden but say they don't have the space or hate pulling weeds. If we all did it together, it might be fun! You know how it is when you work w/people whose company you enjoy and it doesn't seem like work? =) If you can stick around 'til spring, stay tuned!

Monday, September 1, 2008

A tale of 2 songs

So these 2 songs have really been 'it' for me lately. The first one really reminds me that God is enough. I freak out and feel like I'm not good at anything b/c I don't have what it takes or someone to help or any experience or whatever! But God is enough. I have it all as long as I have Him. Enough - Barlow Girl
The second song is totally different. It helps me energize and think about how I'm not alone and God has put many people in my life to remind me that this is not all there is. The lyrics are not Christian, but they could be if you just fudged a her to a Him and stuff...The World Is New - Save Ferris
Anyway - thought I would just do a stream-of-consciousness-what's-playing-at-Mel's-house type of post...

Hmmm...

Are we weird if we put smoothie in our scrambled eggs and then let our son dip those eggs into BBQ sauce? He's going to be the one kid at the lunch table who will eat anything I'm sure! We were attempting to make green eggs (like in the book, which we just read) w/o dye. Smoothies are green....and then I used some basil too, but I just tore it up and tossed it in. Now that I know what basil looks like, I don't actually think it's crummy looking spinach and toss it in the smoothie! I wanted so bad to make pesto...I'm going to look it up now but I thought I'd just share the latest adventure into eating more veggies =)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Are you eating local?

If you live in WI and are trying to eat local foods, I encourage you to sign up for the challenge taking place during the week of Sept 5. There are resources on the website if you need more ideas =) Most people I know are close to a Farmers' Market and try to get there every now and then...in our area I know of about 5! I could go to one almost every day of the week...anyway, I thought I'd pass this on. I'm signed up so I hope to post about our progress this coming week. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A cucumber kingdom!

So I have 10 cukes (all named Larry!) and more are on the way - HELP! We don't like cuke salad or pickles. Aside from giving them away to the neighbors, is there any way to freeze/store them and make them last longer? Basically we eat them raw and we can't eat them fast enough. I HATE throwing away produce, not to mention produce I paid for in the CSA box. Any ideas??
PS - and this blog is not dead. It suffers from narcolepsy. Your patience will be rewarded w/a slew of posts once our regular school routine starts. Thank you!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Big Man on Campus!

Happy Birthday Moses!I cannot believe you are 3 already. You are an amazing gift from God! You make me smile when you shout praise songs, you make me laugh when you dance (just like your daddy!) and you make me melt when you flash the I love you sign. You've met every goal we had for you...now you're going to pre-preschool and it's weird to think of bringing in some supplies for your class, being a volunteer mom and going on field trips. We can't wait until you bring home your first project and explain it to us! We always said God had big plans for you but I don't think we'll ever be able to know just how big. Today I remember how I was scared to first hold you (even though I've held sooo many babies in my life!) and I thought I would hurt you. You were so tiny and I didn't know why God chose me to care for you. But now I know...your daddy and I helped you grow strong and big but you helped us learn to trust in and depend on God in more ways than ever before. We love you, peanutter!
Now go party! But, uh, if you're going to fall asleep early, how about you try to get upstairs to your bed instead of crashing on your dad? He loved that but I was the one who got stuck carrying your long-legged self upstairs...!

Catch up!

I don't know if I ever will...But there are so many things to talk about!!
DW got his cast off. So now he wears a black boot. He says it's way better than the cast! He's walking more especially since we returned the wheel chair! He's still working on finding the balance of how much is too much though. It's still swollen and it will be for a while I'm sure. But overall he's much happier that he can take the boot off at night and stuff.
Before we left for the family reunion, I made fruit leather in the dehydrator. I had lots of blueberries and raspberries, some strawberries and well, I threw in some eggplant! As soon as I offered it to Mo, he started eating it like it was going out of style!! He loved it. I had to cut him off after a while b/c I wasn't sure if it was going to be too excessive in the fiber dept. Anyway - I think I'll make it again.
Let's see, what else is new? DW's classroom is finally looking manageable. Not done, but it looks like we have some order. I was limping along to help him today - I got a huge thorn thing in my foot during the family reunion! Not fun. So we are a sight, limping, trying to use office chairs to move stuff around...yeah...
We're all looking forward to the last few days of summer. We'll be doing a few local things over Labor Day, like going to the county fair and camping in the backyard =) More thoughtful posts coming soon...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oh blast! More cast!

So DW's appt. to get the cast off was canceled. We don't know why - there was just a message on the machine when we got home. It was supposed to come off tomorrow at 9am, just in time for the Wilke family reunion! He's not happy. He's sick of crutches. I'm sick of being the servant! The good news is that we had another appt w/the state adoption lady today and next up is our individual interviews. This is way easier than the foster care stuff, but that's b/c we did the FC stuff already...they could just read their notes! Not only that but the house is relatively clean...too bad that doesn't cheer my hot hubby up! Normally it would so I'm feeling a little gypped. But hopefully we can find out more about this cast appt in the morning and we can adjust our plans. We'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I don't sting!

Even though I have been as busy as a bee, I promise I don't sting! We've been enjoying summer. That means we are doing a whole lotta fun stuff and not much work. Anyway - school starts soon so that means we make valiant attempts to climb back up onto the routine truck! We got a call today about respite care for one day for 3 kids, ages 2.5, 1.5 and 8 weeks but it's a day we already have plans! I left a message for the SW that if they absolutely cannot find someone for the day we can change our plans...I wanted to add, "Don't stop calling!!" but since I couldn't control the desperate tone in my voice I figured it would be better to just say, "Bye - hope to talk to you soon!" Yeah. Both sound lame. Other than that, I don't have too much to talk about. We've been having fun though. DW gets the cast off in 2 days! He's WAAAAY excited about that...I'm sure he'll post something soon. In the meantime I get to brag about my Olympic-sized forearms! HAHA!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Taste test

(You might want to scroll down and read a post titled "Don't open that!" for an intro to this cake...)
Ummmmmmmmm.....
I have no idea if this is what it's supposed to taste like, but whatever! Warm chocolate cake....ummmmm.....oh and that whole butter and flour the pan thing? WOW. No traces of cake in the pan so far!! Brilliant. And the zucchini is not too noticeable. I think next time I might grate it up smaller. I just used the cheese shredder and a few times I think I got a piece of skin that didn't break up too much. No complaints! Ummmmmm.....

Now what??

If I double the recipe do I double the bake time? After the required time it still looks WET in the middle...I'm adding half more of the required time....

Don't open that!!

I did it. I made a cake from scratch. I used real cocoa. DARK cocoa. I buttered and floured the pan. I used a knife when measuring ingredients. The recipe sounded so good I doubled it b/c when it's called Death-by-Chocolate-anything, there MUST be twice as much!! So now I wait. And sweat. And fret. Did it matter that I missed an ingredient and tossed it in towards the end? Did I flour the pan too much? Too little? Did I fold the zucchini in properly? It's not like paper after all. Did my substitutions ( sugar honey, oil applesauce) affect the way it would turn out? Since I doubled it, I half expect to open the oven and have this huge cake come creeping out like in that episode** of I Love Lucy (best show ever, btw!). ACK!!! This is why I avoid cooking at all costs! Too many variables, most of which are my fault!! All I can say is there had better be enough chocolate in there to cover all my mistakes!
(I know, it's Friday and I'm calling this a Make It Monday post, but I haven't made anything in a while and we'll be gone Monday, so...consider me early =)!)
**PS - it was season 1 episode 25 in case you were wondering!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

SLIDE

Here are the pics!
It was a long way up...Mo held my hand and walked real S.L.O.W. He kept saying, "This is a long way up, Momma!" Yup, it is...

At the bottom, he immediately wanted to go back up! That's my boy!

Simple Pleasures - Sunday

Packer people party and play ptogether!! (The p is silent...until I find a p word that means the same thing!)
One of the best things about our family is that we all like sports! Moses has been brainwashed to love Brett Favre, Ryan Braun, Bucky Badger and tolerate the Bucks. We play sports, we watch sports and we get decked out in sports T-shirts =) The first big date Dave and I went on was to a Badgers' game...It's a simple pleasure that God has joined us together based on our interests. Both Dave and I are/were teachers, we like sports, we like music, we want a lot of kids...I know, if I make the list any longer I will make you gag! But we celebrate our differences too - I like HOT HOT HOT weather and Dave doesn't like to sweat! I like to finish the particular topic of conversation and Dave didn't get the nickname Tangent Boy for staying on topic. I am wound up pretty tight and Dave goes w/the flow. Nay, he lives for spontaneity! Having a kid is wild - we see how our interests influence him and how our personality traits become evident! Some good, some not so good...we're all pretty stubborn! Anyway - hope your family can celebrate the simple pleasure of things you share!