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Great Men {4th of July reflection}

The 4th of July is a great way to reflct on the men and women who paved the road for all of us.  We have many, many freedoms of this country.  At the end of a festive day, I think about that during the fireworks.  I think about how fortunate I am to live here.  It is far from perfect, but I am blessed in the life I have and, that life wouldn't be possible in many other places in the world. 

The 4th of July also makes me reflect back to 1997.  It was the night my Grandpa died.  I still remember it like it was yesterday.  It still makes me sad.  I cried through the fireworks that year and I still struggle to get through them every year.  15 years ago, my Dad, Mom, and oldest brother left our celebration to go be with my Grandpa, better known as 'Pa'.  And I knew during those moments, that Pa would no longer be around.  It made me angry for all of the missed opportunities.  I should have listened longer.  Spent more time with him.  He had great stories.  He had a smile that would light up a room.  He was a joker - he was always able to make people feel comfortable.  He was a great man, no doubt about it.  And, I would bet that anyone that spent time with him would agree.  He and my Grandma raised 8 great kids on a Farmers pay.  They were married just shy of 51 years.  My Grandma has been without him for 15 years - I can't even imagin what that must be like, starting over with out that person who has been there forever.  It is sad to think about the loss of him, but it is also a blessing to reflect on how blessed we are to have known him.  Grandpa was the youngest of 16.  He and his siblings were raised in North Dakota during the Great Depression.  The way of life they experienced, it is impossible to even comprehend today.  Grandpa was not hardened by what he lived through, instead he flourished because of it.  His intentional life is still carried on through all of us, in our smile, in our laugh, in our Norwegian heritage.  Our last name, Gudmunson, is part of many conversations.  By strangers who ask where it came from and by those who have lived here all of their life an know the name well - because Pa has always served it well. 

Here is a video of Pa and I.  I had a 'cracked' leg when I was 3.  Pa loved to tease me about it - even when I was a teenager, he would joke with me about my broken leg.  I was always quick to correct him, "It's cracked!" 

I always tell people of the little sign Pa had hanging on his back door - it was there for as long as I can remember - and I always get a good laugh from those who I share it with.

"You can always tell a Norweigain, but you can't tell 'em much"

Happy 4th of July Pa - you are loved, and missed.  



take a back road

Growing up in a small town has both advantages and disadvantages.  One of my favorites is the security and peacefulness of being in the middle of no where, only corn and soybean fields as far as the eye can see.  In the winter it looks a little barren, but come spring, summer, and fall - it is bountiful and beautiful.

Along these back roads, there are a lot of stories - I am sure many of us could share ;) A lot of memories were made with friends.  They are frozen in time for us to go back and visit when we need a break from reality - and growing up.

We lived out in the country on a farm and Dad would like any excuse to go check out the crops or visit my Aunt and Uncle just down the gravel road.  While B and I were visiting the other day, Dad said, "lets go for a walk" - a common phrase heard often and met with some resistance as a pre-teen and teenager.  But, usually after a few minutes of walking - I enjoyed the time, of course I never wanted to admit while hanging out walk with the old folks that I was enjoying myself.  But, life changes you - it makes those small insignificant moments, significant - thankfully.   So, Me, B, Mom, Dad, and Aunt Zie all went for a stroll down the gravel road.  It made my heart smile.  I reminisced about my childhood and all of the fond memories walking with my family on many warm summer nights.  Brayden loved it :) He got some lessons on nature.  Grandma taught him about clovers - and how to pull them apart and suck the sweet out of the end.  He walked in Grandpa's corn field to measure the growth of the corn.  He ran and played and laughed - just as little boys should do.  No rules except 'don't wander too far'.  




To me, those moments define a childhood. It's how it should be.  Taking a back road in this small town, on a warm summer night with family and laughing - picking clovers, checking corn, and looking for bugs.

It doesn't get better than that.  





the best dads

"The best Dads get promoted to Grandpa"

Some of the best men I have ever known in my life have come to be known as Grandpa or Pa :)

They get one day a year dedicated to them, when they deserve many many more.  

I think about the pride I have when I tell stories of my Pa.  He defines a great man.  I think he is where I inherited my smile - He always smiled.  Always.  

To Pa, Thank you for my Norwegian stubbornness.  Thank you for all of the beyond wonderful memories of complete silliness.  From coloring your toe nails to doing your hair - Those are the memories Grandkids deserve to keep forever.  Anytime you were around there was always laughter.  You and Grandma were the foundation of what every family should be and have.  Respect and kindness for everyone.  You had 8 wonderful kids that you passed that foundation on to, and they have passed it down to us.

To my Dad, you embody the teaching of your dad (Pa).  You and he have so many similar mannerisms.  I think it quietly to myself when I observe your gestures.  Thank you for my childhood - there isn't enough time or words to explain the lasting impact that you have had on me.  Thank you for disagreeing with me, and supporting me anyway.  I think about some of the qualities I carry and how I am so much like you.  We share a love for history, psychology, and politics.  And, you have left with me a love for the earth and land that most people don't see.  I love the sound of Brayden's excitement when we pull up to the farm - and to watch him go running and yelling "Grandpa, Grandpa".  I love that the farm will always be a big part of his life, as it is mine. 

For the other 354 days that aren't dedicated to great Dad's, Grandpa's, and Pa's - You are always respected and loved.  I am glad there is 1 day a year to help remind me how fortunate we all are!

From all of us ~ We love you!



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"Welcome to Holland"

"When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Sistine Chapel, Gondolas. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting. After several months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland!” “Holland?” you say. “What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy. I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.” But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine, and disease. It’s just a different place. So, you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around. You begin to notice that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. And Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.” And the pain of that experience will never, ever, ever, go away. The loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland."

I heard this short story last weekend.  It is written by Emily Pearl Kingsley in 1987. She wrote it about her son who was born with Down Syndrome.   She was a writer for Sesame Street - and her influence is why they included children with special needs - she was far wiser then the times.  She was an advocate for her son and for other children with special needs.  

I have been blessed to learn a lot from my friends with special needs.  It gave me a glimpse (and I do mean a glimpse) of the pride and struggles that come along with these beautiful children.  I spent time in college with a group of children that fell on the Autism Spectrum.  From that moment on, those children sparked my curiousity - they are very unique learners.  They see, hear, and feel the world differently then us 'typical' learners.  After collage I was an aide for a special needs classroom - I was constantly moved by the sincerity that I received from those children.  The experiences that I learned from them I carry with my every day.  I am sensitive to the struggles they encounter in learning and with peer relationships. Kids can be mean, but there angels among them too.  And they treat everyone with kindness, special needs or not.  I pray that Brayden is one of those.  Then I was blessed with my nephew Drew.  He acts with intention, in the love he gives and the sneaky things he does - Just like everyone else.  You can't help but smile.  When he is happy and excited the room lights up - and he does that when someone enters a room.  He lets you know that he is SO excited to see you.  He makes you feel special.  He doesn't say much but he wears his heart on his sleeve, and it is a beautiful heart!  Then, a few months ago I met Tucker and his sisters which brought me to the reading of this story at his memorial service (I wrote about Tucker here).  Within the first few sentences of "Welcome to Holland", I was hit - it felt like by a truck.  I could never possibly understand the feelings of the parents of children with special needs.  I still don't.  As a "typical" parent it gave an interesting insight. That story moved me to tears and I thought about my experiences with my son and how often I rejoice.  Parents of children with special needs, I assume, rejoice deeper.  Through the struggles, it makes the happy times shine very brightly. When I had Brayden my world changed forever, for the better.  As too are the lives of these special parents.  The world is changed forever, differently but just as beautiful.  Actually, I think there is so much that we could learn from those families.  They have many challenges and obstacles but they thrive - really live.  They cherish life not in spite of what turns they have taken but because of them.  

It is appropriate that this is Autism Awareness month.  Donate, Give, Walk, Learn, Advocate.  Teach your children about differences - everyone is different and that is why the world is so beautiful.  Show them that true character is not only standing up for what is right but for standing with those who make the world beautiful.  

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Passionately Curious

"I have no real talents.  I am only passionately curious" - Albert Einstein

I borrow great words from great people - I sometimes have difficulty trying to convey the message that I am attempting to put together.  I am often captivated by the words (or pictures) that people string together to tell their story.  They leave me in awe and intrigue me to want more.  As is such with the quote I used today.  I have found in my growing that I am not very talented, naturally.  I fail, ugh - I mean learn, a lot the hard way - and often! I mess things up more often then I can count.  I have learned to accept this about myself - I learn by doing and that is that.  

My wonderful Aunt Lisa gave me a book over the weekend, Photojojo (very cool book)! She told me that I was talented - which made me smile, but I also didn't really hear her ...  talented?  Me, really?  That was sweet!  I actually just do it because I really, really love it!  Thinking back to my Aunt Lisa, She inspired me - she doesn't know that, but she always had a nice camera and would take great pictures for important moments - family stuff, sporting events, graduations, ect.  I remember thinking how perfect her pictures looked when she would print them out and give them to us.  I remember thinking, 'I am going to do that, someday.'  She has been very supportive and encouraging through this adventure of mine.

I have found that with photography I don't really 'mess up', per say.  There are still moments when I think "Oh, I wish I would have tried this, or done that. "  But actually, it has been the opposite - I should learn to scale back...   I see potential in every angle in every image.  I think most photographers pick their favorite 10 ...  well, not me.  I pick my favorite 50 and then go from there...  I spend a lot of time on the editing.  I edit to highlight the beauty of the pictures.   (Because of this, I am going to need botox at a very young age - this squinty eye wrinkle on my forehead keeps getting worse and worse!) That is where the passion part comes to play - I love it. Really.  Scale back? - I don't think I am able.   It is my creative outlet that was always there - but, I could never find my 'talent.'  Now, that doesn't go to say that I 'have talent' but it definitely means that I have found the patience to cultivate my creativity.  I have finally found my avenue to do that.  Talented?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But Passionate? - :) 

Speaking of passion.  Here is my truest love - who often happens to be the subject for my passion:  

We went fishing over the weekend.  It was a blast!  We fished for sharks - but mostly caught Nemo (or his friends).  And, I am a catch-n-release kinda gal - so, Nemo and friends didn't stay with us long.  We also went searching for Salamanders.  LB is becoming quite the Little Boy...  Loves dirt and worms! Below are a few pictures of him and his Dad.  

And, here is a video clip of 'Catching Nemo' ( ignore the annoying narrator)!




in the dark of night brings clarity for the day


"I've loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night" ~ galileo

There is beauty in the clarity and silence of the dark night.   I love that.  Stepping outside after a long day and resting a minute on the front porch step. The loud of the world is silenced and there is purity in the smell and sounds - smells and sounds that you can only experience when the world decides to rest.   The stars gleam more brightly when it is darkest. In those moments I feel so small.  And, in that smallness comes a calm.  I exhale deeply, releasing all troubles of the day. It feels that the world weighs on me some days and then I realize that it doesn't.  This is just another day.  And with that brings another tomorrow and another opportunity to not only just exist but to live.  I draw in another deep breath and grin, a thankful smile for the blessing of a wonderful life.  

...Now back to doing laundry ;) - Which, reminds me of a saying a heard somewhere...  

Dishes to do means we have food in our bellies, Laundry to wash means we have clothes on our bodies, and a house to clean means we have a roof over our heads....  And, toys to trip over means I have the most amazingly awesome little man in my life...    

Yup, Our Life is pretty fantastic!

I hope you all have a phenomenal weekend! 



pockets full of pebbles

Pockets full of pebbles, Bear hugs and worn out knees.  Cookie crumbs & kisses, my Boy is made of these.

Found this sign today on Pintrest...  it is a new must!  How perfect for my little man.  

Here are a few pictures from the last couple of days...  He makes my heart melt.


I have a lot going on this weekend.  Two photo sessions - and I am super excited!!  Can't wait to finally get outside! Beautiful day + Beautiful People = Beautiful Pictures! Win, Win, Win!!

Also, I have more projects on my plate then I even know what to do with!  I am working on my time management skills...  trying to do multiple projects at one time.  It will look something like this:

  • paint dresser
  • paint doors
  • sand headboard
  • wax footboard
  • wax chair
  • recover seat for chair #1
  • recover chair #2
  • sand dresser
  • paint doors, again
  • attach seat to chair #1
  • wax dresser
  • wax headboard
  • sand doors
  • wax doors

... or something like that :)

Hopefully I have a lot to reveal on Monday! 

I hope you all enjoy this weekend! It should be beautiful! 




Little Brother Birthday

Nick and Brayden Easter '10Well, I already did my sentimental post about my little brother growing up a few weeks ago while working on his Senior Portraits.  But today is the official day, 18 years ago Nicholas James Knute was born...  a big bundle of joy... and I mean big bundle...  all 10lbs 4 oz of him! 

Happy 18th Birthday to the baby of the family! Thank you for keeping us all young for a little longer.  We are all excited to see what a wonderful life you will create! 

To read more about Nick - read onto "Always 8..."

To look at the first session of Nick's Senior pictures click here



looking back {and moving forward}

Look at those eyes! It's hard, ya know, looking back.  It's hard to think of the years that have gone past. I accidentally stumbled on a movie I made for LB for his birthday.  I was at work and was trying to watch a video about arch welding (exciting stuff)! But, for some reason, the Lord decided I needed to stop for a minute and have some reflection time.  And, he was right.  Brayden and I have tough days...  which I am sure is completely normal.  He's 2 - enough said!  He spends most days learning what his limits are.  Be it, giving his independence a try or to see how far he can push his mama's patience.  I often stop myself and say out loud to him,"You are lucky you're cute!"   We have been getting along so wonderfully, lately.  He is still a stinker but we are both so happy.  This video - I will post if I can figure out how - It covers ultrasound pictures, belly bump (really big belly bumps) to tiny baby, to not so tiny baby, to toddler.  All I can do is ask myself, "When did all of this happen?  Where did my baby go?"  Each passing day has me holding for dear life onto that little boy.  I ask him daily if he can please just stop where he is at.  I have been asking him since he was just a bump in my belly, "I will NEVER ask for anything from you in my entire life if you can just do one thing for me.  Please, don't grow up.  Stay perfect and tiny and with your mom FOREVER!"  

It reminds me of a story I heard.  A lady I worked with was visiting her daughters collage campus.  The daughter said to her mom' "I think I want to live on campus, instead of commute."  Then mom looks at her daughter nodding in agreement.  "That's fine.  Let's talk to your dad and start looking at 2 bedroom apartments."  Daughter looks at her mom, confused.  "Two bedroom?"  Mom saying profoundly, "well yes. There has to be enough room for the both of us!"  B and I will be having that same discussion some day.  Where ever he goes, I will just go too! I can't wait to see how that works out! 

So. As much as I ache, long, cry, beg, plead for him to stay little.  I know deep down I am just as excited to see all of the things he will do.  And, with each new event in his life I will pray for a freeze frame hoping to hold onto that moment for just a little longer.  Those times in my life will keep me looking back at how far we have come and what a blessed life we have.  How truly fortunate we are to have eachother and our family.  We will keep moving forward with a semi-reluctant smile and looking back with tears in our eyes.  



All you've got

All You've got is all you can give and that will always be enough.

I made a few small changes to my website - nothing major but I always think it is exciting when I make a change....  and when I figure it out on my own (with only a few curse words).  Check them out - I added some information / quick clicks on the sides.  It fills up some space and adds a few pictures for color as well.

I used a picture that was taken last Easter.  Gosh, I just can't even believe that time has gone by so fast. It's scary really.  Just sitting here thinking about what Brayden was like and what he was doing...  It is hard for me to remember.  Then, I get disappointed.  Why didn't I take more videos?  Why didn't I snap more pictures? Why didn't I take the time to write it down?  I think to myself, I will never forget this.  But, then every day that goes by something else amazing happens and it pushes the other memories further and further back making it harder to retrieve.  I also realized, gulp...  I haven't taken as many pictures of LB since I started these other projects.  That makes me sad too.  I need to do better... and that's ok.  This whole business about living...  that's really what it is about.  Live = Learn... and it is always enough.  There may not be as many pictures, but we still have the time together and that's what matters most.



Life & Learning {What really matters}

We have all done it.  Mumbled impatiently under our breath when someone is waiting on us and doesn't go the speed that we would like them to.  Cursed at the person that is driving to slow (even though it is probably the speed limit).  Rolled our eyes at the coworker that seems distracted, uninterested, and unmotivated.  We don't know their story.  People can look healthy on the outside. Mentally.  Physically.  Emotionally.  Everyone has a struggle.  Everyone has life defining moments.  Times in their life that changes them forever. Some for the better, some... not so much.  Everyone has their own story.  For that person, it is their world and the rest of us are just background. just noise.  If we each paid alittle closer attention we might recognize that our interactions with others really matter.  If we only knew the struggles someone has behind their own closed doors, we may speak softer and smile sweater.  Not only with our mouths but with our eyes and heart as well.  It is amazing what eye contact and a genuine smile can do for someone's day. 

For the past 6 months I have been struggling.  I was having numbness and tingling in my arms and legs.  That is some pretty scary stuff.  I am a hypochondriac, but this feeling really freaked me out.  It went on for 4 months and I kept silently suspecting the worst.  I finally went to the doctor - Blood work was normal.  B12 for a month and see what happens.  Another month and nothing changed - it actually progressively got worse.  I got to add extreme muscle twitching to my list of symptoms.  Back to the doctor.  She gave me a referral to a Neurologist.  More waiting.  More worrying. 

I finally get to the Neurologist and we discussed my symptoms.  He mentioned what I had been suspecting...  torturing myself with for months.  MS.  Multiple Sclerosis.  Demylination.  Brain lesions.  Unfortunately, I was familiar with the disease. We would do an MRI of the brain to confirm or rule out.  I waited and worried.  Those next 5 days seemed like a lifetime.  I went into the MRI very comfortable.  I was excited to see my brain.  I may seem like a total nerd - but the study of the brain fascinates me.  If I could be anything not limited by money (or brain capacity) I would be a Neuro Surgeon.  I love it.  Also, I thought that through the research I had done online, I would be able to read my own MRI.  They were giving me the files right after so I thought I could confirm / rule it out all on my own and the 2 weeks I had to wait to see my neurologist wouldn't matter.  Well.  I learned 2 things.  1. I am not a radiologist.  2. There was no way I could wait.  Curiosity kills the cat...  and that is exactly what it was doing to me.  I poured over these MRI scans searching, for hours.  All I saw was a healthy brain.  If it was healthy then WHY did I feel this way? Everything I did while waiting for the answers felt like slow motion.  I felt like I was standing there watching the world pass by.  Everyone went about their everyday and mine had stopped.  All I could think about is Brayden.  What did that mean for him?  It helped me to see what really mattered more clearly.  Who and what should be allowed to impact my life. 

So, I stalked my Neurologist. He was taking appointments at another office and I was able to get in.  He confirmed, in fact, my brain was perfectly healthy.  No MS. Wow.  I felt as though everything seamed lighter but only briefly.  My elation was brought back to reality with the silent constant reminder, the numbness and muscle twitches.  What is it?  So, another MRI was scheduled for my cervical spine.  MS can be in the spine and not in the brain - only about 10% of the time but it needed to be ruled out.  So, I scheduled the imaging and waited.  I did my scan and told myself I would not look at the images. I did really well for 2 days.  Then the day before my neuro follow up I couldn't take it any more.  I once again gave my radiology skills a try.  I even looked it up on YouTube.  And YES, they do have videos on how to read your MRI's.  So, I studied them closely.  My spine looked clean and healthly.  I was convinced there was no MS.  So, I breathed a sigh of relief.  However, I noticed something not right - but, I knew I had to wait for my appointment.  I put my images away until my appointment.  I arrived on time - but had to wait 2 hours... the longest 2 hours...  I was having a major flare up in my leg.  It hurt to sit.  It hurt to stand.  And, I was to nervous to do either.  My wonderful Mom came with me to both appointments.  I typically like to do things by myself. But, it was great having her there.  She helped pass the time and calm my nerves.  

Cervical Spine Scan - Feb '12The neurologist walks in. "It isn't MS.  Your spinal cord looks healthy.  However, (longest pause ever)...  You do have a bulge."  A bulge??  Is that a medical term?  He points to a spot on C5.  My disc is bulging and putting pressure on my spin.  Not typical for someone my age but no real concerns.  It shouldn't get worse for many, many years - as long as I live a healthy life style.  Don't get in a car accident.  No heavy lifting.  Focus on proper posture.  Take your vitamins. Stretch.  At that moment I exhaled  (for the first time in months) - and, I think my mom did too.  

So, this means a couple things:

1) I now have an excuse forever to get out of lifting anything that is 'heavy'.  Heavy is a subjective term...  lucky me! ;)

2) I am strong but, 

3) it feels good to have someone with you to share in the worry.

4) I now have proof that I have a brain in my head ;) - This eliminates me from any more blonde jokes!

5) I am lucky to have family and friends that worried with me and prayed for me.  It matters.

6) I look at others with a greater awareness of individual struggles.

7) I am so blessed to be healthy - and have a healthy family as well.

So, the next time you are getting frustrated with the person waiting on you or working with you - keep in mind that you don't know their story.  If you did, would you treat them differently? Would you smile more kindly?  Maybe give them an encouraging glance that lets them know that they are strong?  

I was searching for a powerful quote to put here.  I have one in my head - but I can't remeber it exactly and I couldn't find it.  BUT, I stumbled on this: Life's Little Instruction Book.  Happy reading!



Recognizing the 'lasts'?

This post may seem completely random and totally unorganized but I had a few experiences/ thoughts I wanted to share.

Random Experience #1:  Last night, a group of us celebrated my nieces birthday.  We all went to this indoor jump / bounce place. It has all of those big blown up slides for the kids to play on....  there were 3 rooms full!  So, all 5 kids totally scattered! They had so much fun... and to be honest, us adults had a lot of fun too.  Not only watching the kids play but participating in the play too! :)  What a great work out and a wonderful way to spend a Thursday night!

Random Experience #2:  So, this morning LB decided he wanted to spend the day with Grandpa.  He had a little cough so I thought it was a good idea for him to get some rest.  He usually clings to me, especially in the morning. However, I have been noticing lately some detachment... dare I say... independence?  It makes my heart hurt feeling the slipping away of that little boy. But, at the very same moment I smile (through the tears) with so much pride.  I see this is a recurring theme as a parent.  It hurts to let go but there is so much enthusiasm for the next step.  It is exciting to watch them learn and grow and experience the joys of life.  LB now insists on getting into the bathtub on his own...  He attempts every chance he gets to go up and down the stairs on his own.  He is always telling me "Nee Nee do it" (Nee Nee is how he says his name...  Nee Nee and Brayden don't sound anything alike but I swear it is the cutest thing).  This morning he was beaming with independence.  He said "Mommygotowork?" (and he says it so fast - like an auctioneer).  But then he did 2 firsts.  They had me gasping for air.  He said "kisses!" and pointed to his lips.  So, we smooched...  like a million times because I thought it was so adorable.  Then he said "hug? See you soon! Love you!"  My heart ached...  It literally hurt from so much love and joy I thought it would burst.  

B and I - Outer Banks '10Thinking about all of the new firsts makes me sad about all of his 'lasts.'  Will I recognize them before they are gone forever?...   


#3 Random thought: I have had this quote sitting on my desk all week...  I haven't wanted to change it (I peeked at the next one it is good too but this one applies - I will keep it there for a while).  It says: The best way out is always through.  How true. 

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed weekend!  I am excited for what my Monday / Tuesday post will be...  I still don't know what it will be about yet - maybe a fun weekend with LB.  Maybe another furniture make over or the purchase of some new items... maybe all of the above! ;) 




The not-so-terrible two's

Another day, another birthday... but not just any birthday.  Today is the 2nd birthday of my sweet niece, Maxine Lou.  

I have learned that children can be angels - as long as their parents aren't around.  Which, is usually the case with my nieces and nephews - LB included.  However, it is hard for me to ever picture this angelic face ever act out!  She is always so sweet. 

Her and I have a special bond - at least I think so.  In order to save on daycare costs and to have our trusted family watch our kids my sister, brother-in- law, and I did a lot of trading.  All 3 of us had different work schedules so odds were one of us was always off.  So, I was blessed to have this sweet girl in my house 2 or 3 days a week and LB would go over to their house a couple days a week as well. So, we all became very close.  I have to admit, it wasn't a fair trade.  LB can be a stinker AND he had total mom attachment issues.  So I think he was a lot to take on.  Which, was not the case with Max.  

Maxine is happy.  She is alittle like a chameleon.  She can blend in anywhere and be completely content. LB, Max, and I would have so much fun.  We would walk to the park, swim, dance, play at the farm, ect. It gave LB a sense of what it was like to have a sibling - which was good.  It pushed him to have to share both toys and his mommy.  That, of course, always went smoothly and there was never any hitting, screaming, or crying... ever ;)  Maxine was there when LB said his first word.  We were around to see Max go from crawling to walking to running.  I got to know my adorable niece and also got to know my sister and brother-in-law on a different level as well.  They are great parents.  They have a real partnership.  And, even though I am the older sister, they have been teaching me.  I see what they have and I have set my standards higher because of it. They may not see it everyday in each other, but to us looking in - what they have is unique and special.  Maxine (and now a new little brother too) are blessed for experiencing something so beautiful. 

Here's to the not-so-terrible two's.  Stay just as you are.  Happy Birthday we all love you!  

To see more photos of Maxine's big blue eyes and beautiful smile click here, here, here, and here.





... in these shoes....

I love these - I love shoes.  Really.  I think if there is anything I am mildly obsessed over it would definitely be shoes.  I love to think about what my shoe closet would  will look like when I have this beautiful organized closet full of b.e.a -utiful shoes!  Strappy ones, shiny ones, flats and boots... and you can not leave out adorable little sandals...  but I have a soft spot for high pointy heels.  My toes are formed to a point because it doesn't matter how painful, I will suffer through it to wear my cute heels. I have to stop myself from buying so many...  I stop and think, where would I wear these?  I don't go out.  I don't get dressed up.  Not anymore.  I wear my pj's to the store.  It's a miracle if I even shower on the weekends! (- tmi??)  

"The only challenge greater than learning to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, is learning to walk a lifetime, comfortably in your own."

I am starting to do this - learning to walk in my shoes.  I love to reference the 'lemons' in my life.  I don't mind admitting that I have made mistakes along the way and I fully embrace that I will continue to make more, and that's ok as long as I am learning.  I think, in the past I was so terrified of making the wrong decisions that it actually pushed me into making what I thought was a 'safer' choice and not what I actually wanted for my life. However, as I always say the paths that have lead me to where I am is exactly where I am supposed to be, and I am comfortable with that.  

I love reading Marc and Angel.  I think to myself, 'how did he / she come up with these brilliant words?'  It is so wise, yet so simple.  

"Life’s best lessons are usually learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes.  So yes, you will fail sometimes.  The faster you accept this, the faster you can get on with being brilliant. You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work.  Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing.  So get out there and try!  Either you succeed or you learn a vital lesson.  Win – Win."

I have become a 'do-er' lately.  I have stopped making excuses for the limitation and roadblocks.  Where there is a will there is a way - So, I keep finding a way.  And, I am going to keep doing because I have found happiness for myself in the doing.  Before, I lived for others and for their dreams that I adapted into my own.  As a mom, you naturally put your child first - and, there isn't anything wrong with that.  LB is still my first.  But, I am a close second. I have found for myself things that I really love.  Actually, I have so many things I want to do that I am having a hard time fitting them all in.  

I have about a half dozen furniture pieces waiting in the wings for a little face lift.  I am lining up my little photography sessions.  I sit and crochet at night (still not very good at it but I like it).  And, I have some secret projects that I am creating in my head.  Hopefully this summer they will come to fruition.  

So, I may not walk comfortably in my own shoes - bets are they are an uncomfortable pair of heels - but, I will do it with a smile and as gracefully as I can.  


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It is more than words {Birthday tribute to Mom}

Grandma & Brayden May '10 - Zie's GraduationWhere to start…?  I decided that I would try to write one blog entry this year for each one of my family members on their birthdays.  This entry will be hard to limit how much I say, but yet hard to find the words to say what I want as well.  Today, on Valentines day, is also my Mom’s birthday.  She too turns 54 (and she will probably disown me now that I have put her age out there for everyone to see). 

As I mentioned last week in my Dad’s birthday post, My Mom stayed home with us as we were growing up.  As kids, that didn’t stand out to us as anything significant – it was just how it was.  We didn’t think about the home cooked hot meals on the table every night or the clean clothes to wear everyday.  It was just how it was.  Mom was always there.  Looking back, now that I am a Mom, I now realize that those things DO NOT just happen.  It is challenging to coordinate schedules everyday – especially when there is a family of 8 – Yes, I have 5 more siblings.  Mom ran our household for 25 years effortlessly (at least that is how it looked to us).  Dad, Mom, Mal - Brookfield Zoo summer '10

About 8 or 9 years ago, she decided to go back to work.  Mom is a teacher.  Again, something else that as kids we did not see the personal sacrifices that she gave up to stay home.  Now, it is a blessing that she was able to - but, you should see what a wonderful teacher she is - and it is her passion.  So, when I say she sacrificed she really did.  She chose one lifestyle over another.  She put her other avenue of dreams on hold to persue what her and my dad thought was right for having a family.  If you ask her now, she wouldn't have done it any other way.  My mom LOVES teaching.  She loves her students - even the stinkers (I think the stinkers are actually her favorite).  She goes in early and stays late.  Her eyes light up when she talks about her students.   She is always searching out new ways to educate them to be sure they aren't bored and that they are learning to the best of their abilities.  She encourages reading every chance she gets.Racer Drew and Grandma - Halloween '11

The baby of the famly is a senior this year and we were working on some words to have put into his year book.  I teased my Mom, "you don't like mooshy gooshy words."  She looked at me a little miffed, "Well, you all know I love you though, right?".  I just smiled.  I thought it was funny that she would even ask.  "Of course we know."  We know that she loves each of her six kids and each grandchild that comes along (She is up to 10).  We know because it isn't in her words, it is in her actions.  It is in her prideful smile.  It is in every tear that falls, the happy and the sad ones.  She feels with us.  She has gone (and still goes) to every sporting event, since t-ball (times 6).  She helps to celebrate every 'win' that each of us has in our life (times 6).  She cries along with us when our hearts break (times 6).  She enters 30 projects into the county fairs (times 6) because it raised money for our college funds.  We had college funds (times 6).  It was in every pair of shoes bought - and picked up (times 6).  It is shown when She helps load up a car and drive 12 hours through a snow storm to help her determined-not-to-fail daughter move to Virginia.  Then when things don't work out she drives 12 more hours there, and 12 hours back to move her home (thanks Mom).  She listens (times 6).  She gives advice (times 6).  She worries (times 16).  I could go on and on.Mom and Kim at Mal's baby shower - Feb '10

It is appropriate that we celebrate the holiday of love, on your birthday.  You show us so much love. Thank you for all you do.  Thank you for all the gifts you have given us - the values you instilled and the sacrifices you made.  Thank you for dancing, singing, playing, chasing, laughing... times 6.

We love you (times 16 + Dad) - and will spend the rest of our lives showing you how much. 

Zie's Graduation family picture - May '10

(this is an old picture - I am sure there a few Grandkids missing.  The most recent family picture is of all of us at the beach on vacation.  I already posted her age - I didn't want to push my luck and post one of her - the entire family - in our swimsuits)

Happy Birthday!

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1 Comment 54 more!

This is a day early (better early than late).  Our family has a lot of birthdays in February.  To kick off the month on the 11th is my Dad’s birthday.  This year he will be 54.  It is hard for me to go back and see where the time has gone, I can only imagine how he feels.  His children are grown, and he has grandkids that are growing too fast.  I have a favorite story that I wanted to share, in honor of my Dad’s 54th birthday. 

My mom stayed home with us and my dad farmed.  Financially, it made things tight, but also made us grow up happy and humble.  We didn’t want for anything, not really.  I didn’t grow up with electronic games or MTV.  I grew doing chores and raising animals to show at the local 4-H fair.  We did not waste gas on unnecessary trips to town.  We were no strangers to pulling weeds in the garden, walking beans, and detassling corn. We played kick the can and could run bare foot across gravel faster than anyone I knew! It doesn’t sound glamorous – but, I loved it, truly. 

For my 10th birthday, it was like every other.  Mom made dinner and cake and had my birthday presents wrapped.  The card is always signed, “Love ya, Mom and Dad.”  Dad was usually just as curious to see what gifts we received as we were.  However, Dad made the decision to do things a little different for my 10th birthday.  He asked me if I wanted to go to the store to see what we could find.  We went to the only store Dad was really familiar with, Farm&Fleet.  We made the 30 minute trip and got to the store.  We did some looking around and my eyes caught the most magnificent light-washed jean jacket I had ever seen.  $24.99 – ouch!  We did NOT spend money like that.  So, we decided to keep looking.  After perusing for twenty minutes or so, Dad decided we should go back and check out that jean jacket again.  I can still remember how I felt in that moment – I wanted that jacket, but did not want Dad to spend that money.  I was excited and nervous.  He said, “do you like it?” I replied, “yes, but its ok, that is a lot of money.”  He shrugged and smiled.  He picked the jacket off the rack.  “Would this size fit?  I tried it on and beamed, “yeah it fits.”  “Well, lets go check out.”  I am sure we walked out with other necessary items like oil and filters…  And, I am pretty sure he crabbed a pack of twizzlers on the way to the cashier.   

My Dad and I don’t always see eye to eye but I have grown an appreciation for his insights.  I have learned through the years that he is a very kind and wise soul.  Sometimes outspoken – And yes, I know where I get it from! I am so proud of the lessons he has taught me and continues to teach me.  He loves to farm.  I want that for myself – to do what I love, with a passion.  He makes it look so easy.  I often think he is one with the ground.  He has risen early and stayed up late to get field work accomplished.  Every minute counts when you have nice weather.  Mother Nature can change her mood at the drop of a dime (typical woman).  She can make or break an entire year’s crop.  Dad, now better known as Grandpa – has a remarkable relationship with the grandkids.  It’s hard to know who beams more –  The little ones when they coming running through the door, or Grandpa scooping them up.

Dad, on your birthday and for everyday I forget to say it.  Thank you for the blessing you have given our family.  We are all proud of you – and we love you!  Happy 54th Birthday – here’s to 54 more! 

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