Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Picture Highlights from 2013

The first two months of 2013, we decided to foster a few puppies to help heal the hole that was left when Macy passed away in November 2012.  We went to the shelter one night to wait for the transport with excitement.  We were supposed to be fostering a little pup named Pancho.  The transport came and there were two puppies in the van that weren't supposed to be on there.  The shelter had no idea they were coming and nobody lined up to take them.  They asked if we would be able to take two puppies instead of just one...and how could I say no to these faces.  Ginger and Snap were tons of fun!

My husband knows me!  For Valentine's day, these hot pink running shoes were waiting for me on the counter when I got up that morning.  It was my first pair in almost a year.  I would spend the rest of 2013 trying to recover from an injured hip and a mysterious illness.  My racing season wasn't quite what I hoped it would be, but I am going in to 2014 with high hopes.

My three Valentine's Day cuties in their shirts that Gammy and Poppy sent them.

My hubby and I celebrated 10 years of marriage in March.  This year taught me what a gem I have in him.  He is truly a gift.  We spent our anniversary in Michigan.  My parents took the kids for the day and we were able to go see a movie and go out to dinner.  Early the next morning, Collin got the stomach flu which put a cramp in our style for the rest of spring break.  It was a wicked bug that took out every one of us but Dan.

On our way back from Michigan, we stopped to pick up our new addition.  It was out of our way and a little tricky to accomplish with my little man sick with the stomach bug, but we arrived home with my Anniversary present with no regrets.  He's the best anniversary gift I have been given...I wouldn't trade him for the world. 

In April, Kaitlyn picked out Teddy.  My little girl has such a love for animals.  I am thankful for a husband that allows his little girl (and me too!) to enjoy having pets in our home.

One day after Dan's birthday and a week before mine, Collin jumped off of our deck and ended up breaking his leg.  This was quite an experience and gave me a new found thankfulness for the health of my little family...and also a greater respect for parents of kid with physical handicaps...or really any medical condition.  I spent the first few nights with him on the couch trying to keep him comfortable and listening to him scream out in pain.  It was almost more than this Momma could take.  I wanted to take this from him and prayed that God would give him comfort and peace.  It broke my heart to watch him not be able to run and play with the other kids and see him get so frustrated when he couldn't do things for himself.  His teachers at school were wonderful and I really am so thankful for all they did for him (and me).  He spent about 5 weeks in his cast and another few weeks not being able to walk.  We are so thankful that it wasn't worse and that he didn't end up needing any kind of physical therapy.  We really hope he never jumps off the deck or anything else again...but if you know Collin, you know that's doubtful!

Kaitlyn celebrated her 9th birthday in May...she also got glasses this year.  I am blown away that God has allowed me the gift of a daughter.  She gets prettier with each passing year and never ceases to amaze me with how smart she is.  I love her heart for animals, her spunk, her strong-will, and her determination.  She is competitive and likes to be the best.  She's growing like a weed and I can hardly believe she will be in double digits in no time.

After a rough start to his kindergarten year, Collin did adjust and actually excelled in his first year of school.  With tears in my eyes, I watched my little man receive his medal for "graduating" kindergarten.  I was one proud Mama.

The summer included several trips to Six Flags!  Kaitlyn loves the roller coasters, Landon conquered his fears and rode a few rides for the first time this year, and Collin loves the water park.

In July, Dan took risk and accepted an offer at a new job.  He is now a rental property inspector and loves his new line of work.  It was an answer to prayer and has really been such a good thing for our family.  He is able to be home more often, has a more flexible schedule, and can even work from home some days.  It's so nice to see him leave the house in something other than nasty old clothes, work boots, and tool pouches.

Collin celebrated his sixth birthday at the beginning of August.  He wasn't walking very well yet, but he enjoyed it all the same.  He got a new bike and chose McDonalds for his birthday meal.  I am thankful for the fun he brings to our little family.  His imagination is incredible and the things that come out of his mouth are hilarious.  He has a great sense of humor and is a go with the flow kind of guy.  He is impulsive and creative and keeps me on my toes...and I wouldn't trade him for the world.

My Middle Man turned eight a few days after his little brother.  My handsome boy chose Steak N Shake for his birthday meal and (just like his brother) got a new bike for his birthday.  He brings the calm and reason to our family.  He sees lessons in everything and his wheels are always turning.  He can be more reserved than the other two, but get him alone and he will talk your ear off.  He is loving and always puts others before himself.  He is cautious but does like to have fun once he feels comfortable.  I love his cuddles and the kind things he says...he truly is precious.

At the end of August, I got to check something off my bucket list...I got to run a race with my Dad.  I wasn't feeling the greatest, but this was such a special race to me.  I am so proud of both my Dad and my sister and thankful that we can share a love for running.  My Dad ran a great race and it was so fun to cross the finish line and see both of them waiting with medals around their necks.  I always enjoy running with them when we are all together and I am looking forward to running with these two this next year!

We finally started the renovations on our basement.  It's been a long time coming!  It's been fun to sit and watch my man at work and I have been amazed my his progress!  Hopefully, in 2014, we will be finished and able to enjoy our new space!

After the unfortunate death of Teddy, my little girl was heartbroken.  We had decided that it was best to give her heart a rest...but, I couldn't help myself.  I surprised her with a new friend, Asia...a dwarf rabbit...who has been so much fun to have!

Days after the kids went back to school, I started a second job at a local orchard.  I wondered if I would be able to wing it with my health concerns, but it was really a blessing.  I loved working there every day, the people that I worked with, and the atmosphere.  At the end of the season, they asked me to come back next year...of course I accepted.  They handed out vouchers to all their employees and the kids and I were able to go pick apples for free.  I am looking forward to spending the fall months of 2014 there again!

 Halloween 2013 - even the dogs dressed up. :) 

When I look at this picture I feel overwhelmed with how blessed we were this past year!  Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Looking Back

The older I get, the more important it becomes to me to look back on the passing year as it comes to a close and gather something from it...some lesson I can learn, something I can take away...food for thought maybe.  I have always believed that there are lessons to learn in everything.

There has been much heartache, loss, and rejection for me this past year...countless hurts...countless scars.  It's one thing to go through something because you know that God has something better in store for you...it's a totally different story to be brought low at the hand of another person whose intentions were not at all good.  But, there are lessons in everything and something to be learned from this past year and I have learned a lot :

If anything else, I have learned of the truest love I could ever experience on this side of Heaven : The Love of My Husband.  When I felt like I couldn't lift myself out of my bed, his strength kept me fighting.  When I felt like I was all alone and I wanted to build the highest of walls to protect my heart from any more hurt, it was my husband who kept chipping away at the wall I was trying to build.  I believe that God gave us this year to better our marriage...to bring us closer...to open my eyes to the gem I married.  I have never, ever doubted his love for me but this year I have felt every inch of it and have been overwhelmed by how deep it actually is.

“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.” ~Bob Marley

I truly think this year would have broken me if not for the fact that God has told me who I am...and it's been His constant reminders (spoken to my heart through things I have read, words of friends, my parents, and words from my husband) have sustained me and kept me from believing the lies that others tried to destroy me with.  I know who I am.

Suddenly she realized that what she was regretting was not the lost past but the lost future, not what had not been but what would never be.”

― F. Scott Fitzgerald, A Nice Quiet Place.

This quote has really spoken to me over the past few months.  It describes what I have felt countless times this past year...I have been regretting what will never be...what will never be because I have had to set healthy boundaries for myself...what will never be because I have let go of all expectations...what will never be because there has been too much "stuff".  I am not good with change and I am loyal to a fault.  I have a hard time letting go of the familiar and will fight til the very end...but this past year has taught me that sometimes I just have to let go.  It's not letting go in failure...it's letting go because it's no longer healthy for me.  It's not letting go because I have some sort of grudge that I need to hold on to...no, it's the exact opposite...it's letting go because I no longer want to carry that grudge.  Some may not understand, but to me this all makes perfect sense.  I have had to find away to let go of the regret of the lost future...and find a way to embrace a future that looks a little different.  It took a little while, but I can finally say that I am content.

Amidst the heartache, this year has been full of joy, love, friendship, and fun.  I can honestly say that I am the happiest I have ever been.  I have realized what a gift my little family is to me and how much we need to guard our time together and cherish it even more.  I have been so thankful to the people that have surrounded my little family and I and loved on us.  I have never been so thankful for my health and the health of my family and friends.  I am so very thankful for another year at my job and the opportunity for Dan to jump in to something different.  I have watched him become a happier man and it's been so nice to have him home with us more.  It's been a year of restoration...finally feeling like we are recovering from the two years of unemployment we went through...and I am so thankful for the path He continues to carry us down.

So, as 2013 comes to an end, once again, I sit here thankful.  I am thankful for the lessons, the trials, the heartache, the hurt, the safety, our health, the laughter, and everything in between...I am thankful for normal and rest.  It's been a good year...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

 My Princess, Zaiah, and Middle Man - Christmas 2013

 Christmas Morning - 2013

Never in my thirty some years of life have I ever stayed home on Christmas Day...until this year.  It was the best gift I could have been given and I am so thankful to my husband for making that decision for us.  We took our time around our little tree opening our gifts, we made a big breakfast that everyone enjoyed, we spent almost the entire day in our PJs, we played games, watched a movie, and later on went to the movie theater to see Frozen.  It was a pretty neat experience seeing a show on Christmas Day...maybe a tradition we will have to adopt.  We came home and my husband fixed us a bbq rib dinner with garlic mashed potatoes, broccoli, and rolls.  It was wonderful spending the day together, just us.  I am looking forward to many more Christmas Days spent at home.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

And I Cried

I have always been in good health...with a great immune system...how quickly that can change.

I wasn't feeling the best for about a week and decided to go in to the doctor on Sept 10th and get things checked out.  I figured that it was allergy related (even though I have never suffered from allergies) and I would get a quick fix for them.  I was having shortness of breath, killer headaches, and feeling just plain worn out.

I walked in expecting allergy meds and maybe allergy testing and walked out with an abnormal EKG and a script to have some lab work drawn along with an order for an echo.

It's funny where your mind can go in just under 24 hours...all of the "what ifs" that flash before your eyes...different scenarios that run through your head.

I went in the next morning for an echo, which I was so nervous about, and then headed over to the lab for some lab work.

I made my way home and about an hour later, my doctor called me personally to tell me that a few of my results from of blood work didn't look so good.  My white count was low, my H&H was low, and my iron was very low.  He ordered up a few more tests and I got another call.

In my mind, things went from bad to worse.

I was given orders on what to do next and was told to come in for follow up lab work in two weeks.

In the following days, the little things became big things to me:

I sat with my both of my sons as they read to me...
and cried.

I watched my daughter put on a private skit for me from the comfort of my bed...
and cried.

I watched my husband work his magic in the kitchen...
and cried.

I went to church and sang "Great is Thy Faithfulness"...
and cried.

I felt the sun on my face and soaked in the beautiful fall-like weather...
and cried.

And today, for the first time in over a week (against my Mom's better judgement), I leashed up my Henry boy, put on my shoes, and went out for a run...
and cried.

I cried not because I don't feel quite like myself or because I have been too tired to do much of anything, but I cried because in this past week I have realized just how much I have taken for granted.  Why is it so easy to do?

While things are still up in the air, I am still left with the question, "What on earth is going on?!", and I am wondering how much longer my energy level is going to be so low, the old hymn that we sang on Sunday rings so true to me right now :

Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!“
  Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
    “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Five Years Ago : September 2, 2008

Our little guy had just turned one exactly a month before.  Our other two kids were three and four.  I was a stay at home mommy.  He was a hard worker.  He left for work early every morning and we were all eager to greet him at the door just before dinner.  We had everything we needed...and a lot of what we wanted too.  We were blessed...living out our fairytale...without a care in the world.

I still think back on this very day, 5 years ago and still remember that feeling...the feeling of being punched in the gut...the wind being let out of our sails...the lights being turned out on us...leaving us in the dark to face an unknown reality.

My phone rang at lunch time.  It was not uncommon for him to call, but something about the timing of his call seemed a bit off.  He spoke the words that I was hoping never to hear : he was let go...no work...unemployed.  I still remember where I was, what the weather was like, the exact spot where I was standing.  I guess when your world feels like it's crashing down around you, you remember where those pieces first started to fall. 

And just like that, everything changed...forever.

Little did I know that this day would begin a 22 month long unemployment for my husband where everything I knew, believed, and hoped would be tested.  My marriage would be tested, friends would become distant...some even judged our decisions, we would be told that God must be judging us, I would be criticized for leaving the house and going and getting a job, we would feel alone, hopeless, and desperate.

But...and it's a big but...

Little did we know the goodness of those who love us, how our marriage would be strengthened, what a blessing my job would become and what a family the people that I work with would become to us, our faith would be strengthened after it was put through the refining fire, how changed we would become in our way of thinking, how tenderly God would care for us, and how we would never, ever go without.

It still brings tears to my eyes when I think back on the countless times money would show up in the mail, people would drop by to give us groceries, others would pay a few of our bills, give our babies Christmas gifts, pay for date nights for us, a gym membership was bought for me...and the list goes on and on.

Our 22 month long journey seemed so long at times.  Some days it was exhausting just getting out of bed and extremely hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Month after month would go by and it seemed as if our prayers were never going to be answered.  The six month anniversary came and went...the one year anniversary was such a dark day...one and a half years came and I felt as if we had been forgotten.  I was sure that my heart was not strong enough to bear September 2, 2010.

Almost exactly 2 months before our two year anniversary, Dan went back to work.  He was working for 40% of what he used to make but we were so thankful that he was working.

Contrary to what people may believe, after one goes back to work after being unemployed for so long, there are a lot of pieces to pick back up and a lot of wounds that need healing.  The job wasn't a cure all...and even we were surprised to find this out.

Its been such a long road...but I wouldn't trade this road for anything.  I learned things about myself that I wouldn't have learned otherwise.  I watched my husband struggle and work odd jobs to keep food on our table and a roof over our heads.  I became so confident in the fact that, no matter what, he will do anything to provide for our family.

I feel that this is the year that we've finally come full circle.  Back in June, my husband made the jump and really took a risk for our family...a risk that has worked out.  He is working a job that he loves and for the first time in at least five years, he is happy again.

This day brings up a lot of emotion...but most of all it leaves me thinking just how incredibly thankful I am for the blessings that we have been given.

Our little guy just turned six exactly one month ago.  Our other two kids are eight and nine.  I was a stay at home mommy, but I have been at a wonderful job for almost five years and I love the people I work with.  He was a hard worker and still is.  He leaves for work every morning after helping the kids get off to school and is sometimes able to work from home to spend more time with us.  We have everything we need...and a lot of what we want too.  We are blessed...but know it's not always going to look like a fairytale...and know that no matter what life throws our way, we are loved, never alone, and God will carry us on days when we feel we can't take another step.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First Day

Last Wednesday, we said goodbye to summer vacation and hello to another school year.

We had a great summer and enjoyed lazy summer days by the pool, numerous trips to Six Flags, and some great time spent in Michigan.

Back to school already...I can't even believe it!

 My Princess had a great first day of fourth grade.  She was very nervous the morning of.  Luckily, Dan was able to be home in the morning with all of us (because of his fantastic new job!) so he took her to school.  He is much better at defusing her than I am.  He offered to walk her in, but she declined...like all first borns, she wanted to do it herself.  The day went well for her and she came home excited to start another day!  My nine year old is in the gifted program this year, super artistic, and a free spirited animal lover.

I was worried about my Middle Man because of the rough ending he had to the school year last year.  He was up and ready to start his first day of third grade though.  There were no tears and came home and announced that he loves school.  It was so good to hear that!  My Middle Man is kind, caring, smart little guy who is great at drawing and excellent at math.

My Littlest Man was ready to get back to school where "all of his best friends are".  He picked out his own back to school outfit (not pictured is his fedora he chose to go along with his spiffy outfit).  His first day of first grade went great.  He is a social little guy who can make friends any where he goes.  He loves to talk and loves to be the center of attention.
Here's to a great school year!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bucket List

I think we all have our own "bucket list" of sorts...things that we would like to do before we leave this earth.  I have a list that I have never written down, but instead, it's like a Rolodex in my head.  One of those items was to run a race with my Dad.  Some girls dream of dancing with their Dad...I wanted to run with mine.
My Dad so kindly agreed a few months ago and signed up.  He put in the hard work and was ready...and on Saturday, August 24th, 2013, I did just that...I ran a race with my Dad.
I have run The CRIM since 2008, but this was the most special year by far.  I not only ran my best time for this course : 1:42:58, but I also got to stand at the start line with my sister and my Dad this year.
We all ran our own races, but just knowing that they were both out there on the same course was a great feeling.
He smoked this course and proved yet again that he will do anything for his little girls.

Friday, May 31, 2013

“There are no happy endings.
Endings are the saddest part,
So just give me a happy middle
And a very happy start.” ~shel silverstein

Like I have said before, I am not good with change...or goodbyes for that matter...maybe it's just goodbyes.

Today is the last day of school.  It's bitter sweet.

My Littlest Man is not longer and little kindergartner, but I big first grader.

My Middle Man will be the oldest at his school this coming school year and is saying goodbye to second grade.

My Princess is saying goodbye to a school that she loves and all the familiar faces that have been a part of her life for so long.  She will be entering forth grade.

All of this is a reminder of just how quickly time is passing....the seasons of life change too quickly...and goodbyes, whether we like them or not, have to be said.

I cried a few tears when I dropped them all of for the last time today.  It's the last time all three will be at the same school until High School...and lets not even think about that day coming.  It's been such a great school year filled with great teachers and great memories. 

I have a little gift waiting on the counter for each of them when they get home...and a summer of fun ahead.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Five and a half weeks ago, my Littlest Man took a jump off of our deck that didn't end well.  I knew as soon as I heard the screams that something was broken.  My husband and I ran out there to find him sitting on the ground, in severe pain, saying he couldn't stand up.  After a visit to the ER, it was confirmed that he had fractured his tibia.

Five and a half weeks have passed.  Today, I sat in the doctors office and watched him get his big green cast cut off.  I thought of the nights in the beginning that I would lay there and pray that his pain would be gone.  With every cry out in pain my heart would just break.  I thought of how I wished I could take the pain for him...I wished it was me.  I thought of how many times I would watch him get upset of frustrated that he couldn't be out there keeping up with his friends...how much this big green cast got in the way of what he used to be able to do.  I thought of the stares he got...how helpless he was.  Then I thought of how much I have taken for granted.  I have taken for granted how healthy my kids have been.  I have taken for granted how active they are...how much they are able to do.  They have no handicaps that keep them from keeping up with the other kids.  They can run, jump, and play.  They have not spent a day in the hospital.  They have not had to undergo test after test or been given a diagnosis that has knocked the wind right from our sails.

I. Am. Thankful.

This was temporary.  The pain was temporary.  My boy is healthy.  Soon he can walk again.  He will be able to keep up with everyone else.

I am thankful for the reminder.  We are blessed.

 He had to wait 17 hours to get his leg casted...he was in such severe pain.

Feeling much better with it casted and stabilized.
 Wheelchair at school.
"Big green"
It's off!!!