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Top Ten Thanks

Every night, unless he is out of town, Jason and I are a tight team in the bedtime, tucking in the kids, routine.  At this stage, Ryan wants me most times and I won’t lie when I say, I’m eating up every single, “I want Mommy!” moment I can get because I know at some point, it’s possible he won’t choose me.  Em’s cool with whomever will read to her.  I never was in drama, but being a lover of books and stories, especially good dialogue, and maybe a little dramatic in nature, I try to read aloud with a bit of expression…soooo, all that to say, this could be why Em chooses me to read to her most nights, and former engineer PhD, dad, to do the tucking in and praying part.  We are a good team like that.

On the nights I do the tucking in and praying with Em, we lay our heads on the same pillow, because that’s just how we’ve always done it…and she still lets me.  She’ll play with my hair (which I really can’t stand, but I’m soaking in time with my pre-teen, so I’ll take what I can get…) and ask me to tickle her arm or back or the palm of her hand.  She tries to do the same to my arm or hand and that is where I draw the line.  It makes me nauseous.  Am I weird?  It’s almost like frosty freezers or nails on a chalkboard…back rub or foot massage?  Now we’re talking.

Here we are December of 2006, one of the nights I was home with Em while Dad was at the hospital with Noah…we’re sharing the same pillow, AND, Curious George is STILL part of the bedtime routine.  

Anyway, before we pray, I usually ask one of several questions, including:

  • What were your Top Ten favorites of the day?
  • What are 10 things for which you are grateful?
  • Let’s share our Top Five of the day.
  • Name 5 people you’d like to pray for tonight.
  • If you could tell God “10 Thanks” for today, what would they be?
  • Who is someone at school we could be praying for this week?
  • Is there anything specific you’d like to talk to God about tonight?
The list could go on and on, but my desire is to be INTENTIONAL to stop, reflect on the day, and give thanks to our loving God for anything and everything, in general, and specifically.
With Ry, at least with the second bullet point above, he’ll say something to the tune of:
  1. Tank You for horses.”
  2. Tank You for giraffes.”
  3. Tank You for Daddy.”
  4. Tank You for trains.”
  5. Tank You for cars.”
  6. Tank You for my cousins.”
  7. Tank You for Yay-goes.” (Legos)
  8. Tank You for mountains.”
  9. Tank You for CARS.”
  10. Tank You for my cousins.”
He means it about the cousins….
Often Emily says in her Top Ten, “Right now…”  It never gets old to hear her repeat this sentiment.  It’s actually my favorite in a totally selfish mommy sort of way.  I breathe in the “right now” and say, “Me, too!” and tell her, and God, how thankful I am to be her mom.  
Because, HOLY COW, I’m her mom!
Sometimes she tells me her Top Ten, and in my best Nacho Libre accent, I say, “You gotta be kidding me!  Everything you just said is my favorite thing to do, every day!” and we laugh.  Nacho may not be on your Top Ten list, but it’s a family favorite because before Noah ever went to the hospital for the rest of his life, somewhere in his first 7 weeks at home, free of machines and wires, I took him to see it with my eldest nephew.  We speak Nacho around here to lighten things up once in a while.  Sometimes I read our story in Nacho, just to change things up a bit.
Anyway, back to this post on Thankfulness.  I’m thankful Ryan says, “Tank” for “Thank.”  I’m thankful for an amazing husband who is engaged in the bedtime routine.  I’m thankful my daughter loves books as much as her nerdy word nerd mom.  I’m thankful for writers who have taken the time through the ages to scribe stories which we are able to read each night.  And, I’m thankful for comedians like Jack Black who make my stomach hurt from laughing.  
Mostly, though, I’m thankful for the “Right Now.”  When we recognize the “Right Now” as a gift from God, something as simple as a bedtime routine becomes sacred and beautiful, memorable and life-changing.
Tank You, Lord, for Right Now.  Just tanks…

*Heidi is sharing over on her blog about thanks this morning, too.
*Heidi Jo is sharing here.
*Elizabeth is sharing on her blog.

Where are you writing down your thanks?

10 Things I Hate About Me

I just thought of that title so, either this list will be a piece of cake and I’ll need to make a part 2 and 3, or I will need to make some stuff up.

  1. My upper arms.
  2. My bent towards inconsistency.
  3. How my self-worth is so closely knit with 10 lbs of fat and whether I eat “clean”or not…or not.
  4. My eternal optimism for everyone else, but inability to offer it to myself.
  5. How I can treat the people I love the very most with complacency when I feel fat and failure-ish because I eat a carb instead of not.
  6. My unrelenting desire to make peace between others but my inability to make peace with myself.
  7. The fact that I could even write a list like this.
  8. That I am an isolationist when I don’t have my shit in order.
  9. How I will believe the best about you to a fault, even if you actually suck as a person.
  10. #3 and #6

A couple of weeks ago I sat on the floor in my closet and cried.  I hadn’t tripped trying to change my clothes, hitting my head on the dresser or wall or anything.  It wasn’t due to a physical injury.  I was crying because I’m messed up.  I was crying out to God.  “How can my worth be so intrinsically connected to the fat on my body?!?!  I don’t want to be this shallow!  I know You designed me to matter so WHY can’t I break free from this endless battle that rages in my head and heart?  Why can’t I just eat clean and be done with this friggin’ ‘journey’?????”

On Mother’s Day my daughter gave me a poem she had been working on for a couple of months.  Here it is, written exactly as she did:

why i love you mom
you are funny
you love me more than stars in the sky
you comfort me when I’m sad
I can talk to you about anything
you are fun to hang out with
you would do anything for me
you care for me
you’re compassionate
you’re creative
you’re loving
you have a good sense of humor
you’re talented
you can find good in anything
you have a awesome sense in fashion
andddd you’re awesome!!!!!!!!!!
you know me so well
mom, these are some the reasons i love you

I’ve never let Emily know how much I’m not a fan of myself.  I’m a good liar…except I’m actually known for totally sucking at lying.  I can’t do it.  I have never said, “I’m fat or ugly or I don’t like myself” in front of her.  But she’s not stupid, in fact, she’s quite brilliant.  And like I said, I suck at lying, so I know I’m not pulling the wool over her eyes.

This is NOT the legacy I want to leave…

So, on Tuesday I’m headed to see a counselor who specializes in Eating Disorders.

Because the things she loves about me are there deep down inside and they matter and they are the things I know make up my true beauty.  And I actually do believe these things about myself, the “beauty” my daughter sees, but what I believe in my head just hasn’t quite made it to my heart and I think I need someone to help me get there…

Your Peacock…Your Peacock!

Let me see your peacock!

I couldn’t resist.

Unfortunately I’ve heard the song.  I have another post for another day regarding my affection for Katy Perry, but not today.

Let’s just say, since I don’t really know what I’m doing before I go into a project like this, unfortunately I’m not able to write a DIY type of blog post.  That would be cool, but to be honest, I really DKHTDIM (Don’t Know How To Do It Myself) except for winging it…All I know is, recently in a few books and when I heard a person speak, the questions were posed:

  • What makes you feel alive?  
  • What memory from your childhood do you have of yourself being really happy while doing something you enjoyed?  
  • What do you LOVE to do?

At first I wasn’t in a place where I even knew or remembered how to answer the questions.  I LOVE to be with my family.  I LOVE to be with my friends.  I LOVE to be alone.

Oxygen makes me feel alive…

All great answers, but not exclusively “me”…but when I’m in my basement, tearing things apart and re-creating, well, that’s when I see glimpses of what makes me feel alive…

Creating.  Art.  Designing.  Making it up as I go.  
And doing it on a dime.  It’s fun for me!

I’m not bragging.  I’m just so excited I’ve found something I love to do, something that gives me inspiration and energy to face the laundry and piles of dishes.

Here’s how it’s going so far.

First we cut strips of tan ultra-suede we had left over from Em’s Sacajawea costume,  celery green ovals from some upholstery, kelly green ovals from a Baja Expedition t-shirt, and royal blue spots from an oversized man shirt Jason got from a work softball game.  We added tassels from upholstery cording my mom had given me years ago that was sitting in a box that. whole. time.

These are for the feathers that will make up a bustle type thingamajigger on Em’s tushy.

Em had a navy blue t-shirt she wasn’t wearing so we used it as the base for the bodice.  I sewed royal blue feathers for the chest out of more of the oversized man t-shirt.

Remember “Caboodles?”  Yep.  That’s my Caboodle from Junior High which once housed my electric blue mascara, now posing as my sewing box.  And that lavender tulle is going to be a bolero.  I had to have my mom come over and tell me how to work with elastic.  There are some things I can totally wing.  But elastic stumps me every time…I don’t know why, but my brain freezes and I’m not sure how to use it…it’s weird.  Maybe I got flicked by too many flying rubber bands in elementary school???

And this is my favorite part because it’s entirely Emily’s design and creation.  We got the peacock feather with a few others attached in the floral dept of Wally World, but she did all the rest, complete with gold embossed feathers and all the bling.  The kid’s got an eye for this stuff!

As the “feathers” for the actual skirt were starting to come together, Em said, “Mom, this is actually going to be cool!  I had no idea you had something like this in mind…”

Thanks, kid.  Apparently she hasn’t been that impressed with my other impromptu costumes.  Smack.

And since the creative juices are flowing in the basement, Em’s gotten out her sketch book and started designing gowns and other fancy numbers.  It’s fun to see her put her dreams on paper…one day she and I will put her paper dreams into material.

Walking with my Mama!

Today Emily and I are walking the streets of Denver in the Race for a Cure.

We will walk with my mom, Bebe, a one year breast cancer survivor.

We’ll also walk with my little sister Dana, and her step-daughter, Annie, and with thousands of others who walk for whomever it is they walk.

Just wanted to record this memory…

If you’ve been affected by it, either in your own body, or a friend or family member, we’ll walk for you, too.  Feel free to add the person’s name to the comment section below.



Boot Camp

Emily goes to a fabulous school based on Outward Bound Expeditionary Learning style.  She just got back from 5th grade camp where they packed in and set up their own tents, dug their own latrine, and drank filtered water from a mountain stream.

In addition to base camp set-up, they did high ropes, made their own meals, built relationships, and had a blast, too.  The only thing they didn’t do was shower…the grime on my shower floor when she was finished was, well, grimy.

She has flourished at her school and applied her love of learning she regained from homeschool back into the classroom.  I wish it went through 12th Grade!  Before Em started school I asked her what some of her spiritual, personal, and academic goals were for the upcoming year.

One thing she said was, “I would like to be done with Reading Plus.  My goal is to never have to do it again!”

I said, “What if that means you have to do it this year but by the end of 5th Grade you would be done with it?”

She said, “That’s fine!  Whatever it takes!  I love reading I just don’t love being outside of the classroom in that program anymore…”

On the first day of school her Reading Plus teacher from 4th Grade told her she had graduated from the program and did not need to return.  She was ecstatic!  And we were, and are, so very proud of her and the time she has put into developing her reading skills!

Way to go, Em!

All this to say, her school is doing a Boot Camp and each student is encouraged to seek pledges or one time donations to support funding for continued education outside the classroom walls, as well as science and technology.  They are also collecting non-perishable food items to stock a local food pantry at Douglas County Task Force.

The kid who raises $1000 in donations gets a Kindle.  You should have seen Em’s eyes light up when she knew a Kindle was the prize!  “You mean it’s GREEN and for reading?!”

We understand times are tight, but Em asked me to please post on here to raise awareness and support in case anyone was interested in sponsoring her.  Thanks, in advance, for reading and for supporting your local schools, wherever you may live!

Here is the link to Emily’s Boot Camp Page.

Birthday Eve

I started a tradition after Noah died to take a picture of Emily on the day prior to her birthday.  Let’s just say it was my feeble attempt to make time stand still in the midst of her speedy growth cycle.  It’s been fun to look back over the years and watch her grow.

Here is Em’s brief history:

This is what the eve of 3 years old looked like…

Hanging with her friend, Annabel, on our lawn in Denver in 2006, about to turn 4.

South Dakota birthday with her long-haired daddy in 2007, eve of 5.

Still “5” in this picture on the eve of her 6th…

Wow, from 6 to 7 brought a lot of growth!

Preggers mom and our 7 year and 364 day old sunkissed daughter, eve of 8

Holy long hair, BatGirl, eve of 9.  And DANG!  my hubby is still the hottest man in my whole wide world in 2011!
The night before double digits.  She’s still “9” here, people…I have birthday pictures to prove she turned 10, but haven’t posted yet…still in denial, maybe?!

So, that was Em’s birthday eve journey.

Ryan’s has clearly been shorter.  However, it’s been longer than his brother’s, and for that I can’t even begin to express my gratitude.  To be real honest with *you* I was too weirded out last year to make a big “to-do” about Ryan’s first birthday.  There were a lot of “firsts” we got to experience with him and I think his first birthday just snuck up on me before I had the chance to really know what was happening.  I think even part of me was afraid to celebrate his birthday.  Losing a child can mess with your head and heart a little, maybe?!

But this year is a different story.

Ryan turns “2” tomorrow, August 28th.  His birthday “eve” journey has been shorter than his sis’ but we made up for it in the kitchen tonight as I tried to get self-portraits of the two of us.  Daddy’s in the Dominican Republic for work so self-portrait was the best we could do (Em was brushing her teeth upstairs…)  Anyway, thankfully, since he’s only turning “2” and won’t remember that his dad was out of town on the 28th, we’re officially celebrating this coming weekend.

But, in the meantime, I had to capture Ryan’s 2nd “Birthday Eve.”

Ryan’s original “birthday eve…”
No “eve” here…this is the real deal.  Ryan’s birthday, August 28th, 2010

Looking through pics I didn’t capture his 364th day, so here’s his official “1st Birthday”

Fast forward to August 27th, 2012…my little lover turns “2” tomorrow!

I don’t ever want to cut his curls!  What am I to do!?  Some old man already called him a girl the other day!  But I can’t get myself to cut his curls off!

Cracking up!  I could listen to him laugh ALL.  DAY.  LONG!

Look at all those teeth he grew in the last year!

“It’s my last day to be “1.”  Tomorrow I turn “2.”

I’m so in love with you, son.  I’m in love with your curls, your laugh, your voice.  I could nibble your ears, cheeks, and lips all day long.  Your toes warm my heart and I catch my breath in awe and joy that your head fits perfectly in the crook of my neck.  You are my little boy and you bring me so much joy.  Thank you for calling me MOMMY.

“Of all the boys in the world, there’s no other boy like Ryan…
And everything that he does is cool just because he’s Ryan…
Whenever he’s around, he can turn your frown upside down…
He’ll lift you straight off the ground, he’s a candy colored clown…
He’s a lot like his dad, he’s totally rad, he’s Ryan…
If you only knew…if you only knew him like I do, you’d feel the same way, too, because he’s too good to be true…
Ryan…there’s nobody else like Ryan…a sweet little boy named Ryan…there’s nobody else like him…”
(my remix of a song that actually had Em’s name in it on a CD long ago…I sing this to him at night along with some old school Jesus songs and Edelweiss and Favorite Things from Sound of Music…)

Happy Birthday Eve, Lover!  I can’t wait to celebrate with you tomorrow!

Better Late Than Never?

Well, I know Halloween and Fall Break were a while ago, but I thought I’d post some pics anyway so you can see the Adventures of Emily and Ryan. 

We had an early snow so we pulled all the pumpkins into the front hall.  Ryan played “ball” with these every day until the snow melted.
For Halloween Ryan was “Adam” from the Garden.  Just kidding.  His little tooshie was raw from 2 months of diarrhea so we let him “air out” at Nana’s house.  FYI:  his big D is gone and the kid broke 4, count ’em, 4 molars!  Fun times…
Em and I got to ride horses at a friend’s house while we were home in South Dakota. What’s that?  Yes, I am wearing a Pashmina with camouflage and running shoes…(no, I wasn’t prepared for the chill at sunset!)
Bonus kid points go to Emily this year…she told me she wanted to be Cleopatra and wear her Egyptian princess costume again…it’s from two years ago…the bonus points come in that Mama didn’t have to make a costume this year!  (*To tell the truth, I kind of missed making one…)  LOVE our niece and nephews pajamas that glowed in the dark!!!  And that’s Aunt Kitty behind the sword…let’s just say Ryan DID NOT LIKE Auntie’s face painted like a kitty!
Ryan, or “Squirt,” helped me pass out candy to the kiddos in the hood.  And by “pass out” well, I have video of him chucking it left and right but I’m not sure how to post it here.  He’s into that stage of throw down/pick up/throw down/pick up!  Fun for Mama!

In order to stop Squirt from chucking the candy dish all over the hallway I allowed him a few seconds of phone time.  I NEVER allow this as a phone is NOT a toy…not in my book, anyway.  I have a feeling this kid is going to be like his daddy…a techy brainiac genius type.

I guess I did get to sew a little…we were invited to a friend’s family party down the street.  Emily insisted that we HAD to dress up, that EVERYBODY would be wearing a costume, so, I was either going to sport my senior year gold sequin prom dress circa 1990, my Grandma’s old house robe with slippers and rollers with face cream, or a flapper dress I had made for a murder mystery party we went to 15 years ago…Can you tell which one I went with?  I had to take in the dress, if you count that as sewing.  

And did we have the best costumes there, you ask?  Well, yes.  Yes we did, in fact…BECAUSE WE WERE THE ONLY FRIGGING PARENTS DRESSED UP AT THE PARTY!  So, there you go…Halloween down, Thanksgiving in a week and then December the next week!  This year is flying!

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I have to say, it is so very refreshing to be in a setting where, what was once private and hush hush, can be spoken of with earnestness, sincerity, and candid authenticity. (I know that is quite a list of words but Em and I have been reading the original Nancy Drew books, and boy does Keene use great vocabulary!)

Anyway, cancer is a big word. It’s really a new journey for our family, and as I walk along this road with my mom, I am a student in this new topic. Em knows a lot about death and heaven because she lost her brother. But she and I don’t know a lot about cancer except that it’s not our favorite word…and it’s something my mom has. I want to be sensitive not to teach Em all the cellular dynamics of cancer at the age of 9, but to allow her to ask questions and hold her grandma’s hand when she needs assurance, I feel is of utmost importance.

So, today, after I tied on my pink ribbon belt, slipped on my hot pink swirl half-dome ring that’s as big as a bouncy ball, and stepped into my pink cancer awareness flip-flops, I hopped into my car donning breast cancer plates and drove over to Emily’s school to snatch her away for a couple of hours. You see, seeing her “Bebe” in a hospital bed with tubes taped onto her and machines all around may be too overwhelming…but…to go to her “Bebe’s” wig fitting appointment, letting her try on a few, and seeing what her grandma will look like in a couple of months, well, I thought that would be a great way for Em to be connected on this journey.

The women who helped us were beautiful. Both survivors, even. One, seven years ago, had the EXACT kind of cancer, same stage, same invasiveness, same factors and treatment, as my mom. My mom had been specifically praying to be able to speak with a woman who had all of those things and God provided her, today, in that room where we were able to speak candidly about boobies and baldness.

No one really wants to suffer and then have another person suffer through it, too. But to be able to share our stories and say, “Me, too!” is a powerful thing. It allows us to know that we aren’t alone, that God provides comfort and companionship even in the midst of our darkest moments. No matter how hard Satan tries to tear us down, God is always faithful to be our Rock, our Steady, our never-changing King of Peace. God is good!

More summertime fun!

Here’s a pic of Ryan sporting Em’s backwoods redneck teeth as he crawled around in his cute military style crawl:

Em actually wore this set of teeth to the dentist recently…the dentist screamed and then couldn’t stop laughing! My kid is quite the prankster.

*I actually didn’t realize Ry had a prune mustache until I just posted this. This is because I don’t usually clean off his face after he eats…because I think he’s a cute dirty little boy.

Here are some pics from our summer adventures:

Em and her two BFF’s camping in the family room

Em requested dirt dessert. I know for a fact I left something out, but when you crush up Oreo’s and put worms and flowers on top, no one really notices.

Em and her birthday guests

A picture of Em after completing her first kids triathlon. She was exhausted but wants to sign up again for next year. Any of your kids want to join her?

Here we are visiting my Gramps in the hospital when he had pneumonia. My gramps is doing great now, fyi. And, a side note, he and Ryan are 93 years apart.

We got dressed up and went out to celebrate Noah’s 5th birthday. Inquiries: Em’s wearing a recycled Sari. Ryan is actually wearing a recycled Noah shirt, so I’m grateful it finally was worn!!!

Me and the best little mid-life crisis Eh-Ver!

Ryan’s first trip to the Denver Zoo. He loved it! He also fell asleep. Notice the delicious chubby wrists on this guy! Arghhhhh!

Em and her favorite babysitter in the whole wide world, who is actually on the other side of the whole wide world in Africa presently, doing relief work. We love you, Miss Claire! Thanks for the piggyback ride!

Em and I bought some feathers off the Internet to put in our hair…do you think I overdid it?

*For some reason, in the 60’s, I believe, women wore these feather wigs while they were lounging by the pool, sunbathing. It was my Grandma’s wig. Em’s feathers actually turned out great!

Making Out

So, I used this as my title post here.

But, it has a different meaning to me when it comes to these cheeks.

Both sets of cheeks above are ones I don’t think I could get sick of smooching on…

When I fell in love with Jason, I never imagined I could ever be in love with another man. Then I met Noah. Then I met Ryan. Of course my love for my sons is different than my love for Jason, but I have to say that meeting these two baby boys, and getting to hang out longer with the one pictured above, well, it’s melted my heart and stirred up lovely dovey feelings that I am so happy are there.

I love, love, love Emily! Having a daughter is a huge joy to my heart. But I’m a messed up woman and I hope and pray I don’t mess her up too much as a young girl. I’m using discretion of how much of my messed up journey I share with her and how much I shelter her from. Being a mom to a daughter is hard work. Maybe I only know this because it’s been more long term and I’m still in the honeymoon stage with Ryan, but either way, I wouldn’t trade being their mom for the world…I do know that.

Having a son, I probably could mess him up, too, but for now, I’m just busy making out with those chubby cheeks and super duper yummy pudgy wrists. Em wants me to think of a permanent nickname for Ryan, something that won’t embarrass him when he’s in junior high and high school.

Right now, nothing qualifies:

  • Little Lover
  • Love Bug
  • Sweet Baby
  • Cutie Pie, pronounced “Kew pie”
  • Yumminess

Yeah, Em’s like, “Mom, you can’t be all, ‘Hey, Little Lover, come here!’ in the grocery store when he’s 13!”

She’s right, but in the meantime, as long as my Peanut Butter will let me call her that, I’ll call Ry all the lovey names in the book.

My prayer is that Ry will be as in love with me as Em is with her sweet daddy…at least for a little while, a mom can dream 🙂