Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29

October 29 is my least favorite day of the year.  Three years ago today my mother's earthly body did not wake up.  I still get angry about that some times.  Mostly this month, though, I just been a bit depressed.  There have been days that I just go through the motions of my day, getting chores done and interacting with my kids, but not feeling much at all except the blues.  I went to bed last night simply wishing I could wake up and have it be Tuesday already - I really don't like October 29.

I created these layouts about six months after she pasted away.  This first one is the heart ache:

Journaling reads:
   I will never forget that day - when I got the worst phone call I’ve ever received.   It was early in the morning and I was upstairs doing some last minute homework for class that night.  The fear and pain and confusion in my dad’s voice chilled me.  He told me he couldn’t revive her and that the paramedics were there.  I asked if they were taking her somewhere and he just couldn’t answer.  I feared she was gone but he hadn’t said it straight out so I wanted to hold on to hope.  I felt my way downstairs, shaking, calling for Tim.  I had to contact my brothers and sister but didn’t know how I’d have the strength.  Carefully I dialed each number and tried to sound hopeful but I had few specifics to give them.
   After some moments of confusion I went to take a shower.  My calm emergency adrenaline kicked in and I knew I needed to get ready for the day to start.  In the shower I prayed so hard for God to save my mother.  He told me she was fine - better than fine and my heart knew that she was safe in heaven with the Lord, but my brain fought back - NO!  I want her here with us.  Have them take her to the hospital and heal whatever is wrong.  That’s when the phone rang again.  It was my brother this time.  He had made it home and confirmed that she had passed away.  There was nothing the paramedics could do.
   The drive to my dad’s house was horrible.  I came into the house and gave him a hug and Tim went with me upstairs to see her body and to tell her I loved her so much.  Then there were the details - the funeral, her outfit, the obituary in the paper.  How are you supposed to do so many painful tasks at a time like this?  I wanted so much to hear her footsteps behind me, to turn around and see her smile.  She could always make everything ok.

Those days following were hard, but I'm so amazingly grateful for my family.  We were all together and we made it through by sharing God's hope and God's strength with each other.

This next layout holds the text that my siblings and I wrote to read at her memorial service.  This is the joy about my mom and the amazing woman she was:

Journaling reads:

My mother was comforting. [Nate]
   In times of frustration and in need of strengthening my mom was always there.  I would come home on weekends to ask questions about school work, but the conversation of education would consistently change to a conversation about my personal life.  My mom was not the woman to ask about my personal life until I said something about it.  We would be sitting in the dining room and working on a paper or a unit plan, and all of the sudden I would feel stressful and stop what I was doing to tell my mom something.
   She would look at me with her concerned eyes, and I would break down into tears about how my life was not like the rest of my brothers and sisters.  After I finished with what I had to say, my mom would give me a hug and sit with me in silence for just a moment.  Then she would tell me that the life I led was what God wanted.  And that God had plenty of special times left in my life for me to view.
   And even though I felt lonely, she comforted me with her words.  During my last breakdown, she told me that in times of need that I encountered away from home, I would feel better praying about it.  So now I feel away from home, because she is not here to comfort me.  I love you and hope to see you again, Mom.
My mother was devoted to the Lord. [Michele]
   In a house with five children and a full-time job, every morning she would get up early while the rest of us were still in bed, sit on the couch with her Bible and spend time with God before starting her day.  My whole life people have told me how exceptional my mother was.  The reason she was so effective in everything she did was because she led a very purposeful life.  She was focused on the Lord.  She knew what it meant to let God lead her in every decision.  When I didn’t know how to handle life’s struggles she taught me that God doesn’t expect us to control our circumstances; he only asks us to control our response.  When I was struggling with my faith she taught me how to believe.  She was the greatest example of a Godly woman I have ever known and the most influential person in my life.  My greatest desire is to live my life the way she lived hers.
My mother was wise.  [Andy]
   I had the opportunity to see her wear many different hats in life: mom, wife, daughter, sister, principal, leader, friend. Despite this multitude of hats, God always enabled her to make wise decisions in each role. When I was in fifth grade, two of these hats collided: mom became principal. As principal, she saw everything I did. She had eyes everywhere. Which, on more than one occasion, landed me a visit to her office for disciplinary reasons. On those occasions, my mother was a principal. She was a stern and dedicated leader of the school, explaining to a student why punching a classmate is not an appropriate means of problem solving.
   On the other hand, when the baritone player elbowed my French horn during band class, and my small metal mouthpiece slammed into braces, my mother put on the mom hat. She ran down the hall to get me and drove me straight to dentist, regardless of what her work schedule was.
No matter the situation, she always made the wise decision. I can only hope that God gives me wisdom like hers.
My mother was intentional. [Christy]
   She understood that parenting five children didn’t mean treating us all the same.  Instead, she knew who we each were individually and wanted the best from us and the best for us.  One of the funniest memories I have of my mom was her taking me into her bedroom when I was in college to talk to me.  I had done very little dating through high school and college and she sat me down on her bed and said, “Christy, I think I need to teach you to flirt better.”
   Whether we talked about my life, my career, or my faith, I always left feeling uplifted and challenged to think about something just a little bit differently.  Most importantly, though, I always felt loved – no matter what.  Not once in my life did I ever doubt that she loved me.  What an amazing gift she gave us.
My mother was embracing. [Brian]
   It didn’t matter if you were relatives, friends, or friends of friends: if you came into her home, she surrounded you with love and gave you her full focus.  You were the most important thing to her.  You weren’t just welcomed; you were embraced.  When my wife Emily switched from friend, to girlfriend, to THE girlfriend, Mom wholeheartedly embraced her as a daughter – no hesitation, no reservation, 100%.
   Mom also embraced her grandchildren.  When my son Cody was born, Mom barged into our house with a “Where’s my grandbaby?”, picked him up, and refused to share.  Whenever we brought him over to her house, it was a brief hello for us but a swooping hug for him.
   My mother embraced life like she did her family. We teased her about how she could never give less than everything to anything she did.  There was no middle ground with her – she was in all the way, whether she was teaching, leading, educating, mothering, playing spider solitaire on her laptop, or playing tennis on the Wii video game system.  She lived life All In: no hesitation, no reservation, 100%.

I love you so much Mom and my heart aches for the day when I can wrap my arms around in a great big hug again.

Monday, October 22, 2012

An evening at the table

The other evening when Tim was gone for the evening I was thrilled to find that all three kiddos found something to occupy themselves with at the table for quite a while.

Michael had come home with a math game to play for homework.  In the game you draw a card and then have to take away 1 from that number (or 2 if you play the "minus 2" version) and then mark your score card with that number.  They were suppose to play it with someone in the family and we suggested that Michael teach the game to Jon.  While the game is quite easy for Michael he had fun teaching his little brother and it was just perfect for Jon who has just begun to understand subtraction.  So he wanted to play it again and again.

Becca was easy to satisfy with one of her favorite passtimes - play-doh.  Here she is rolling a play-doh ball back and forth.

And Michael had another math game from school where you roll two dice and subtract the smaller from the larger and graph the answer.  He has a running commentary going throughout the game.  "And the twos pull ahead.  But not for long because the threes are starting to make a comeback....."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

It's that time of year again

For jumping in leaves and taking fun pictures.  I just love the light in fall leaf pictures.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Daddy weekend

Last weekend we had amazingly almost nothing away from home to do.  So we enjoyed a very peaceful family Saturday.  The boys especially had so much fun hanging out with Daddy.

Reading Bible stories

Playing video games

And following along with a chess game.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

More Becca Stories

My boys must be reaching ages when their growth slows a bit, because I feel like I talk about all the new things Becca is doing more so than for them.

She has really been displaying quite the personality lately.  One of her newest faces is her thinking face.  When I ask a question and she says "mmm" and does this:

She has also been into counting a lot recently.  Here is a video of her.

(I should say that this video took a couple takes.  She usually starts with "two" with two fingers up, followed by "three" with four fingers up, and ending with "four" while showing all five fingers.)

She still dislikes most vegetables, but unlike her brothers can't even be talked into eating them for a treat.  She will just sit out of dessert, even if everyone else at the table is eating it.  The only thing that works sometimes is to leave her alone at the table and not let her get down until she eats a couple bites.

And of course she still is all cuteness.  Nothing like sunglasses to soften the bright lights in house when you just wake up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Scarecrow Day

Michael's first grade class had scarecrow day.  They were to come dressed like a scarecrow and do scarecrow activities.  Unfortunately we just don't have clothes for him that look scarecrowish, but we made do.

At school, the kids have access to an ipad and do some work on them throughout the day.  One of the cool things about this is about once a week I get an e-mail directly from Michael's ipad sharing something he did that day.

Today I got this story that he had written:

Just made me laugh!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Wonderful Great-Grandmas

Jon and Michael had grandparent's day last week at their school.  Unfortunately their grandparents were working or just flying into Boston from South Africa and unable to attend.  So we asked the local great-grandmothers if they were free.  And they were thrilled to come!

They all had so much fun.  They started in Michael's room where he showed off his many skills.  Then they stopped by Jon's class for a music program and finished in the gym with a program Michael was in to hear music and Bible verse memory.

Then we all came home for some fun play time, great chatting, and a delicious meal.

Thanks for coming Great-Grandma Pearl and Grandma Great.  We love you!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Funny Story

I found this picture on my phone from a couple of months ago.  We were having troubles with my Dell laptop and had just sold it to Andy (he knew of the problems so don't worry, I wasn't scamming him).

We were looking at new computers to buy.  The dilemma was we really like the macs Tim has had for school and would like to buy one for our home but we can get a PC for so much cheaper.

So we said we would take a few days to think about it.  

That weekend I was driving home with the kids in the car and we passed this van.

Message from God?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Washing machine thanks

I know I tend to complain about laundry (especially the putting of it away), but today I thought I'd give thanks for my laundry buddies - the washing machine and dryer.

I'm thankful to whoever invented these brilliant machines.

I'm thankful that these were just left at our house for us by the previous owners.

I'm thankful that my dad was able to install them on the main floor for us.

And most of all I'm thankful that I can put a load in the washing machine and then sit on the couch feeling productive while the machine does all the work.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

It is Fall

The leaves are starting to turn colors.  I love the mix of red, yellow, and green.

Of course it also means that we need to start raking.

In the spirit of fall I made some fun pumpkin rice crispy treats for the kids when Michael had a friend come over for a play date.  Just added some red and yellow food coloring to the melted marshmallows and then used frosting and a candy on the top for the leaves.  Oh, and what the kids liked best is that I hid a peanut butter cup candy in the middle of each pumpkin.  We called them Pumpkin Surprise.

Friday, October 5, 2012


I was working on creating a list at the table.  Becca and Jon came over and wanted to do some of their own writing.  I got them their own paper and pens.  Then I got up to go do something else.  When I came back, Becca was covered in pen writing.  Luckily she had just gone to the bathroom and stripped all her clothes off in the process.  So while the pen was head to toe on her body, none of it was on her clothes.  :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Taking in the dock

It was time to bring in the dock this past weekend.  Lucky for me the guys took up the manly challenge and left us ladies to sit inside and chat (oh, I mean tend to the children).  The kids started out wanting to watch but bored quickly.

Instead they went off to play.  One of the favorite things to do is to push each other in the hammock.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Squirrel Food

Last week Jon came home all excited from preschool with Squirrel food they had made.  There were instructions to put the food out in the yard and then to watch and wait for the squirrels to come.

In the bag was popcorn, cherrios, acorns and sunflower seeds.

Jon excitedly waited and we didn't need to wait long.  The squirrels we have in our yard a so black they are quite striking.

Credits: Template by Cindy Schneider, kit and font by WM[squared]