Sunday, November 7, 2010

He Breathes

Where has the last year gone? Definitely, NOT on my blog! There's so much I've wanted to blog about and yet, I haven't been here. I'm okay with that, but I miss it. Miss having a place to come and journal about random, but great things.

There's been so much going on this year and of all the times in my life to quit blogging for a while, now wasn't the best time. I've missed documenting and journaling some of Aleeyah's biggest accomplishments and new adventures. Things we've done as a family. Thoughts on life. There's so much I'd like to tell you about my time of absence and maybe throughout the months, I'll get there. But, for now, I make no promises.

I've missed lots of things. But then again, I needed the quietness. I've needed the break from my fingers hitting the keys and working through my emotions on a 13inch screen. I've needed to laugh and cry with my family. I've needed to hit the trails for some alone time. I've needed to be on my knees talking and pouring out. Then listening to God in the quiet moments of life.



People often talk about the wind being knocked out of their sails and now that I look back to these last several months, I realize just how still the air got in my life. In all the chaos going around me and my family, I did the only thing I could control and I shut down and clung to my family. Not because I was afraid they wouldn't be here tomorrow, but afraid of the attacks Satan was releasing around us. So I refused to be blown. I refused to rock. My boat was docked and anchored with no scheduled time to return to sea.


It wasn't until 3 days ago around 4:30pm when I felt a gust. A hard gust. I had just woke up from an after school nap with the girl and I felt determined. Determined to bring up the anchor, set sail, and allow God to guide me through the storms and the winds. Determined to say yes, to the uncertainties and yes, to faith.


So, I set off with the same sails that have become tattered along they way, but this time, with renewed strength.

With HIS strength and wind, I sail.

And in the breath of God, I listen.



But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

*pictures taken on our Alaskan cruise last year*

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Little Ballerina and her 1 minute bun

Yeah, I've been gone and the first post in a long time is being typed because I'm super stoked about is something I paid $6 for today that I LOVE and couldn't resist sharing!

First of all, if you are a regular here, of all things you could probably remember about my girl is she has A LOT of hair...

No? ;)

It was one of my first thought of obstacles when we decided to enroll her in dance classes and the instructor said she has great dance hair! How in the world would I manage to get that hair up in a bun that will actually stay up?? So my first dance mom worry kicked in!

She is taking combo class of ballet and tap. She was SO excited and ready to begin! Her first class was last week and all the way up until the day, she begged me to let her wear her leotard, tights, and shoes. So once the day finally came, she could hardly stand the excitement! Of course, it was my job to try to get her hair up in a bun. I had already stocked up on bobbie pins so I was prepared...or so I thought! We finally got it up with a lot of frustration and I just crossed my fingers that it would stay up at least until I picked her back up from her lessons. With more than a dozen bobbie pins, lesson one was a SUCCESS!








I was able to watch her a little bit through a one way mirror right outside the studio. Lots of tears filled my eyes watching her-thinking about how she's grown up into such a little lady, how adorable she looked, and how I managed to make a ballerina bun to go with my ballerina princess-never mind the fact that it resembled somewhat of a beehive! Okay, totally kidding on that last one, but none-the-less, she was BEAUTIFUL and doing a splendid job pointing and tapping her once teensy toes!





After dance, we rushed home to get changed, eat lunch, and then head to school. Because I didn't have time to re-fix her hair, we tested our luck by going to school with the bun. I wasn't too surprised that her hair resembled something that...well, just didn't look natural when I picked her up after school. It reminded me a bit of some of the things we did to our hair in the 80s. I was hopeful that it just met it's demise minutes before school was out while out for recess. Hopeful, but unknown and I was okay with not knowing.

Week 2's bun look much better today when we walked out the door, but after having to tweek it a couple of times before class, it ended up falling about halfway through class. Her instructor pulled it back up for her and I was SHOCKED that it actually make it all the way through school today! When I asked her instructor about how she did it and told her my struggles, she assured me that it does take some practice. Her daughter's hair was very similar to Aleeyah's in length and thickness and she suggested that I try getting the larger bobbie pins-that they hold much better.

After I dropped off Aleeyah, I went to Target to get a few things and to see if I could find the larger bobbie pins. I ended up picking up Goody's Bobbie Slides-thinking that was probably what she was talking about.

I also found some of these...



Goody Simple Styles Spin Pin

Let me tell you, I was SKEPTICAL! So skeptical that I neatly undid all the packaging for the high chance that they weren't going to be worth having around. They are as simple as they look. Like 2 pieces of wire twisted to create a corkscrew type of ma-gig.

Not sure of how they were going to help me in my ballerina bun endeavor, I gave them a go on the girl after school. I twisted her hair around her ponytail until I had a bun. Then I used one Spin Pin and twisted it clockwise into the top of the bun and then used the other on the bottom end of the bun. I held my hand on the bun cautiously and to my amazement, IT STAYED!! And feels secure! At this moment, I think I could hug me some Goody inventors. Seriously.




I'm not sure how these 2 little guys work, but I don't really care at this point. They just do! This was a quick up-do. Took me all of 1 minute. I think before next week's lessons, I may take 2 minutes to make it look top notch though. I was a bit concerned if they would be hard to take out afterwards. So many products end up knotting up her hair in the process of getting them out. But I was delighted that they were very simple to take out-just took turning them counter clockwise until they unscrewed out.

The plan is to take most of the other larger pins back since I won't be needing them and get a few extra Spin Pins for Aleeyah's dance bag!

I'm excited to see what other exciting adventures come from this season of dance! I mean how much more exciting can it get than hair pins...?!? ;)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stressed?


When my jalapeno plants first started sprouting their fiery goodness, I panicked a little not knowing when to harvest them. Unfortunately, when looking online, there was lots of information that would help you with guess-ta-mates. I'm not a guess-ta-mate kind of gall. When tomatoes and strawberries turn red, it's time to harvest them. Jalapenos can turn red, but you want to pick them (for most recipes) before they turn red. So how do you know?

Well, the best information and guideline I could find online is to pick them when they have stress stripes or "corking". What is that, you say? Basically, when the pepper's skin looks like it has stretched out so much that it's causing it to have white stretch marks. It's actually an indicator that it is under stress and the more under stress your jalapeno is, the hotter it will get.


(Maybe I can call those stripes on my belly, corking. Doesn't that sound better than saying that my belly, like many others, wasn't quite ready for the ginormosity that it faced when growing a person inside of it?!)

Aleeyah pointed out this afternoon that we had a red jalapeno. Immediately, I knew I hadn't been paying as much attention to harvesting them if I hadn't even noticed one was red. I have to admit, with red being my favorite color, I really like looking at a red pepper over a green one, BUT I need them to be green for most of the dishes I like to make. I checked out the other guys growing and found 3 other ones stressed out, but still green.

While thinking about what we want to make with our newly harvested, stress-stripped peppers, I couldn't help but to think of the stress that the last 2 weeks has brought. On top of the normal everyday life stressors of having a family, finances, etc., we've been dealing with a lot of other emotions, decisions, and worry. My stomach has been in what seems like a constant state of knots. Partly because of some of my own health and emotional issues I'm dealing with, but lots to do with some things we can't "fix". Things that aren't our burden to carry, but because of love, we tend to want pick it up and make things right. Unfortunately, we can't. It's not our decisions. It's not our baggage. It just simply isn't ours to be the keepers of. Through our love, we can give support and encouragement, but somewhere, despite all our emotions, we have to step back and fully understand what this means for us. It's easy to step in and try to be the super hero, but is this what God wants for our lives? Does he want us to have relationships based on unhealthy practices? Doesn't HE want to be our super hero?

There has been times in these last couple of weeks that I've felt like that red pepper. The stress gets to me. It shows in my life and I start getting hotter and hotter until I just get emotionally red. I get angry that satan is attacking. I get angry that it's affecting my family. I get angry for getting angry.

I've used the people closest to me, to let things out and try to feel better, but yet, I find myself not asking God enough for the strength, patience, and wisdom that this time of our life is requiring. I've spent hours after hours on the phone trying to figure things out, but how many hours have I spent in solitude and prayer asking God to help me understand what my role is in His plan for my life and the lives of those that I love?

If I get honest, not enough.

I'm thankful those friends and family that are always there for to give me their support and love. I'm thankful that God has given me those people to get through the rough spots. But I also understand He needs to be my keeper. The one that waters and nurtures me. He never lets me grow and change without watching over me. He sees the stress stripes before they ever show. And HE wants to be the one to harvest my concerns and give them purpose in my life.

Friday, July 23, 2010

You'll find me here


One place that I've really grown to love is my balcony. We get the morning sun and then during the heat of the day, it's shaded. Unfortunately, the shade doesn't combat the high humidity we've been having lately. We have decided to lease another year in our apartment instead of buying a house. It was a hard decision as it changes other plans, but we want to make sure we are making the best decisions and not making them based on our emotions.

So our balcony gives us a slice of owning a home again. It gives us a place to relax and sip our coffee in the mornings.

A place to watch the clouds change and sometimes form creatures in the sky.


We enjoy the birds and learn all about them.


We draw


and play with bubbles


and unfortunately, sometimes dirt fights happen when mom looks away for a few minutes



It's a place that reminds me of simpler times. Like sitting on the back porch of our house growing up and snapping green beans with my mom while she had her morning coffee or having long deep conversations with my dad late into the nights. Even then, I often thought about my grandparents and great grandparents sitting on their porches. I wondered what they talked about. I wondered if they thought about their crops or admired their gardens.

I didn't necessarily get really into my garden dreams at our house in Oklahoma. Now don't get me wrong, I HAD dreams for it and some came to reality. It was like a long and narrow blank slate.



But it seems like anywhere you try to do anything nice, the bermuda grass is there to wreak havoc. That's the case on those stepping stones we put in. I wish I had a picture pre-bermuda. When they say that the black tarp like stuff keeps grass from growing in your landscaping, they lie. I seriously loathe bermuda grass. I'd gladly take a thousand weeds over a grass that grows it's deep spidery roots into the clay ground and spreads like a wild fire. If you are one of my readers from a place where bermuda grass doesn't grow, praise Jesus. He is saving your fingers from the blisters you would have got if you tried to keep your gardens grass free. Blisters, yes! AND if you even try to wear gloves, it is almost impossible to find their very long, skinny shoots that hide under the ground just waiting for you to turn your head so they can sprout upwards and out.

Bermuda grass was all that I had ever known until I moved to Kansas. I've got quite use to our fescue up here. It's soft on your toes



and when you mow it, it makes those diamond shapes that remind me of a great argyle sweater like this



Not like this


Poor pup! Not everyone can rock a pink argyle sweater and I'm not sure that anyone could rock that one!

Here's a few things that are growing around our outdoor space!













I love that we have a place to grow some veggies and fruits without taking away from it's coziness. Another place to watch the world go by without feeling the need to jump in. So anytime you would like a place to relax and enjoy your morning coffee, we'll be here waiting for you!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thankfully, a Short Journey

Thank you all for the love and support that I recieved through comments, emails, FB messages! I'm glad to be back as it seems my brain never shut down when thinking about how I would break things down on my blog. It's a disease. Really.

I have so much to talk about. So many things I want to share. Way too much of a headache at the moment to put pics together to make it so! Therefore, I thought that would bring us into a little journey I had while I was gone.

So let's start here...


Any guesses?

David and Goliath? Small little bouncing sing-a-long ball vs. a piano? How about the Princess and the Pea's mattress and pea? Ohhh, getting closer!

The small red ball on the left would be the approximate size of something I felt in my left breast. It's about the size of a green pea--just slightly larger. The right side would be the ACTUAL size of the tumor that was removed from my breast last month.

Yes, it's a polymer clay replica. No, I didn't bake it to make it a permanent replica. :)

I discovered it one night while Chris was out of town after I was trying to pinpoint some pain that I was having. I regularly do self breast exams. It's not something I really take lightly having 3 grandmother's with breast cancer. I hate to admit that I totally lost it at 12 in the morning after feeling something noticeably different. The tears were uncontrollable and I can't remember the last time I felt that devastated because I really didn't know what other non-tumor options it could be.

I first called Chris, but he didn't answer. Then I called my sister-in-law because in all the panic I forgot that she was celebrating a big occasion. She had a good reason for not answering as she was busy playing Mario Wii on her anniversary. ;) Chris called back in the mean time and we both sat quietly on the phone together. Me sobbing. Chris not knowing what to say. Chris suggested I call and wake up his mom and because she non-officially has MD after her name, I decided it would be a good idea. I called, woke her up, and completely forgot to start off the conversation with "everybody is okay" before I attempted to get the words out of my mouth. Because I totally wasn't okay. But after a bit of chatting and googling, we got off the phone and I felt a little bit more at ease that it could be and probably was just cyst.

The next few weeks consisted of doctor's appointments, a mammogram, an ultrasound, and blood work. The mammogram and ultrasound showed nothing there and the imaging center proceeded to tell me that there is nothing to be concerned about and to call and let my doctor know if anything changes. My doctor being an advocate for great breast health had already told me that it didn't matter what they said and that I would be taking my scans to a breast surgeon for his opinion. I'm glad that I listened. Because of my "high density breast tissue" (aka my super breasts!! dahh da da dahhh!) the lump wasn't showing up on the scans. Which wasn't too surprising because it was the size of a pea...or so I thought. The surgeon agreed that nothing was showing on my scans, but was able to feel it right off the bat and said that there was something there. He then informed me that it definitely wasn't a cyst which meant that it was a tumor. He said given my family history, he felt it was in my best interest to remove it and then do the biopsy. Either way, benign or malignant, it was coming out.

They scheduled me for my surgery and then it was time to wait some more. Finally, the date and several in family arrived. Of course, I didn't have a general anesthesia with my c-section so that was a new experience and very nice to not remember anything happening. I spent the next week entertaining my family with the side effects of the heavy drugs I was on. They thought it was all funny and I really didn't care! I had a 2 inch incision on the outer part of my left breast. We joked about the big incision for such a small lump. Little did we know how big it was until I got my pathology report back. It was 2 inches x 1 1/2 inches x 1 inch tumor. Which doesn't seem HUGE until you think of where it was. And it was BENIGN! Which is all good news there!

Tears were common during those weeks and moments of panic were certainly present, but I'm thankful for the time I really got to spend in prayer and coming to understand peace in a different way while waiting. Healing is going great and I don't think that my scar will be too gnarly. He says my left breast may appear to be smaller than my right now, but I haven't really checked. I guess it's not that important to me. My doctor suggested that I get genetic testing done and I have yet to decide if I'm going to go through with it. I'm not sure if it is worth knowing even if "knowledge is power" or if there is really anything I could do differently to further prevent it from happening if my genetics told me something important.

So do your self exams ladies! It's important no matter what age you are. Did you know that younger women are more likely to have more aggressive cancers than older women? Consider that and the fact that it's not uncommon for us younger ladies to have high-density breast tissue which makes it really hard to see a lump on a mammogram. Our detection is knowing our breasts and checking them periodically to feel for changes.

One last tit-bit (okay, sorry had to! even though I HATE that word!)--Did you know that once you are able to feel a tumor in your breast it has most likely been growing inside of you for 6-8 years prior? I never would have thought!

(should I admit that I really wanted to title this post "Breasts, Balls, and Mattresses" or "A Tale of Two Breasts" even though it was really only one? Yeah, probably not!)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Me and My .com


I’ve kept journals before here and there since I was a kid. I remember my first one. You know, the ones where it always starts out, “Dear Diary,” which is promptly followed by some boy you're were crushing on saga. I found my journal the other day in a box. It's pink with gold lettering and a small, easy to bust into lock. I had been going through some old stuff and had some great laughs between the diary and old letters Chris and I wrote to each other before we got married while he lived out of state for college. Ohhh, the memories!

There was a time that keeping a journal really helped me be a become a person. I was battling depression and nothing was getting me out of the funk I was in. I forced myself to write 3 positive things before I could rant and it really changed the way I viewed things. I was amazed at how things got better over a relatively short amount of time. To this day, I still am so thankful for that turned over leaf that I so desperately needed.

There are only a few people in my life that know about one of the journals that I keep now. I don’t write in it as often as I’d like nor have I been able to get to all the things I have really wanted to write about. This journal is not for me though. It is for Aleeyah. I love everything about it. Its cream colored pages with irregular edges. Its fresh leather smell. The small leather straps that wrap around and hold it closed. Its meaning. I started it in February 2009 and I write about everything under the sun. Things like her favorite foods, words she says, people she knows and the great qualities about them, family who she never had the chance to meet, our adventures we go on, the quiet moments, the hard but rewarding moments, and more than anything-how she has changed mine and her dad’s lives. It features an ongoing section of “100 Reasons Why I Love You”, drawings created by her, doodling done by me, and even the outline of my hand with an outline of hers inside. Thoughtful quotes and great scripture. It’s all there and I look forward to giving it to her someday when she's older.

Blogging is also a sort of journal to me. An enhanced version, if you will. With pictures, videos and a LOT of words. I know one day we can look back and recount our time together and it gives me a place to talk about other positive things in my life. I choose not to talk about some of the hardest times I’ve faced. Some accuse bloggers of only writing about the good moments while pretending that we don’t have our own sets of problems. While I agree that this can sometimes cause us to envy their lives, we have to remember that they just choose to not write about those things publicly as to not hurt people or as a dear friend said, they choose to not give them value or worth by writing them down. I’ve been accused of this myself. I’ve been accused of not showing the “real” me. That I’ve put on my new set of perfect clothes and am hiding the dingy ones underneath.

I feel it’s an unfair accusation. I’ve had many blog entries about the weaknesses that I have. I’ve spent many talking about the areas that I feel I’m not compassionate enough about. How I feel that I’m not doing enough to give to others. In the light of all of it, I know those accusations are just one bit of the huge, negative puzzle that was laid out in a public place about me and the many others that care about this person. So many lies and twisted facts. So many people believing the lies and joining in on the mocking and judging. While I don’t want to admit that this person got to me like they did, it is my reason for my absence. There is only so much you can read about yourself through the eyes of such negativity before you have to step away. This person doesn’t know me any more and with all that was said, I question whether or not they ever really knew me.

It’s been hard to stay focused here and for that, I had decided to take some time away. It wasn’t really intentional-like I woke up that next morning and said I wouldn’t be blogging. I just woke up and found it hard to pick up the computer and not think of the things written about me and my family. When I sat down to write an email, I found it really painful because my mind would be flooded with the lies. When I began to blog, the feelings of fear of how it could be twisted was enough to make me never want to blog again. I began feeling like this small white box with its shinny apple on the top was the enemy and I took a bite out of it and was feeling its poison. I’ve never used this place to try and intentionally hurt someone and yet, someone has used it against me and to hurt me. So I began asking God to take my time away from here so that I could focus on Him, my family, and myself. That was hard. I feel like I let a lot of people down. I feel like I broke close bonds. He gave me some peace about it when I began seeing that He was giving me the space I needed. Then I asked him to take away the pain I was feeling about this little, white box. A box with so many opportunities.

I’m beginning to feel more comfortable being on here again and widdling through my inbox. I’ve met so many amazing people during my blogging journey and I miss them! Each one has helped me understand a different part of myself and a different part of being in a community. We may not always agree and we may not always feel the most intrigued by a post, but we enjoy coming together and being a part of each others outings through pictures, fun moments through tagging, and even more so, the deep heart felt emotions written in often long, long posts that we read to the very end. Every word. Every emotion. We try our hardest to understand the depth of each word and we cry together. We laugh together. We pray together. We meet people we’ve never met and give them the open book and open heart policy.

I hope that I’ve always offered that kind of love to each person that He has sent to cross my path. Sharing my victories and defeats in life. My moments of great strength and my moments of great weakness. I believe with all that I have that God won’t let our stories be wasted and unused if we allow Him to do what He needs to do and I don’t intend on letting satan have my story. This is a place for me to journal my story-the good, the bad, and all in between. I’m not perfect and I make mistakes..often (and we aren’t just talking grammatically). I’m not always there when I need to be and I’m horrible about following through with things at times. But I hope that I’ve used my space here to encourage and inspire others, bring smiles to some faces, and be a friend to anyone that needed one. Yes, your life would go on whether I'm here or not, but I pray that God has used me to enrich it in whatever way He has equipped me.

I’m sorry for not being there to read every word you’ve written lately.
I’m sorry for allowing my fear and hurt to keep me away.
I’m sorry for all the missed opportunities.
I’m sorry for letting satan ring the victory bell.

Though in my heart, I know God is ringing His right now.

Because another humility lesson has been learned.
Another page scribbled in my book.

And I stand in awe of God and his healing power
--even in my little space of .com.

(now lets see if this PUBLISH POST button still works!)

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Countdown


Mimi and Papa are coming to town soon! We enjoy it when they come, but one particular little girl gets REALLY excited when they come to visit. I'm so thankful that they do everything that they can to be a part of our lives and especially their granddaughters. No amount of miles in between could stop them!

Snow, Snow Go Away

We are finally seeing the last bit of this snow melting today! It will be the first time we've seen the ground without snow on it since the middle of December. We are all SO ready for some nice Spring weather!

(photos taken on February 5th)



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