It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To. . .

The giveaway is now over!  Congrats, Denise!

OK, sing it with me: Happy blogoversary to me, happy blogoversary to me, happy blogoversary to meeeeeeee, happy blogoversary to me!!

Balloons!  Noise makers!  What a hoot.  Thank you, thank you very much!!  You know how to celebrate with a gal!  Even if it is all in my head.  😉

It’s been a year now since I started this here blog and I thought we could take a moment to review the past year briefly.

We started 2009 with sad news that a little girl named Tuesday, for whom our family had been praying for several months, had passed away from neuroblastoma.  Such a rare cancer . . . certainly not the outcome for which we had been hoping.  (Later in 2009, her family started on an RV tour of the US to raise awareness of pediatric cancers.) (Please go to Debi’s blog and leave a comment, she is donating $1 for each for pediatric cancer research!)

Not quite two weeks later, we heard of the death of another baby from the same rare cancer!!  Absolutely heartbreaking.  (A happy update to their family: just over two weeks ago they gave birth to a little boy, Levi!  While he brings them great joy, they also are still mourning for their dear little girl, Cora; it is a bittersweet time for them right now.)

February and March also brought us a bit of excitement in the form of our little volcanic friend that threatened to make life messy for us for a few months, but basically blew over without much damage.

There was another little baby, Stellan, and his heart.  Dear LORD, how we prayed for that boy!!  Several times in 2009 he was hospitalized for SVT, a potentially deadly heart condition.  (A thrilling update is that his latest surgery in October after his first birthday destroyed the extra node that was causing his SVT and today he is a healthy, happy little boy.)

March brought more sad news, that my dear sister-in-law, Mel, had endometrial cancer.  After a summer of chemo and autumn of radiation, we received very exciting news in December that they had done their job!  She is now a cancer survivor.  Thank You, LORD!

We survived chicken pox and thankfully, it really wasn’t too bad for the little calves.  We’ve done some school work.  (Actually, we’ve done lots, I just haven’t blogged about it much.)

I got an award and a button and played tag.  We went on a vacation.  And who could forget the hunting trip??

The happiest and saddest events of our year, interestingly enough, were related.  We found out in July that I was pregnant.  After several weeks of debilitating all-day nausea, I had just begun to get back on my feet.  And then . . . in October we miscarried.  This has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced.  Despite only having him with us for about four months, our baby boy Shelomith has been a very big part of our year (and no, I can’t even type that sentence without tearing up.)

Along the way we’ve had some good times.  We’ve relived sweet memories through Baby Picture Sunday and Wordless Wednesday, had a bit of a reality check with Not Me! Monday, and “set our minds on things above” with Thankful Thursday, Multitude Monday, and (a brand new one to me) Walking With You.

I’ve gotten meals organized with Meal Plan Monday and even blogged about housework with Tackle It Tuesday (oh, the depths to which we have fallen!!)

It has been a wild ride, hasn’t it?!

When I started this blog last year, was hoping to be able to connect with people, make new friends.  And I cherish the new connections I have made with folks from Montana and Idaho to Illinois and Pennsylvania and even clear across the world to Australia.   I’m so glad to have had a chance to connect with some sweet, caring people.  And there has been an unexpected benefit to participating in the memes:  somehow, having that little bit of accountability has helped me organize life and household.

As I look ahead to the coming year, I am both excited and afraid.  Excited, because of all the new possibilities!  There are plans to be made and goals to be reached!!  Afraid, because our world view now includes things such as cancer and childhood death and pregnancy loss.  I am grateful for the love, support, and encouragement to continue to cling to the LORD I’ve received from you, my friends.

So we thought we’d give a little back. One of the things that has been on my heart for some time is to find a way to honor our little boy, Shelomith.  we’ve been thinking about this for some time and finally (literally, this evening!) decided to donate in his name to help the children in Haiti through Compassion International.  I’m sure you’ve heard about the horrible situation after last week’s earthquake in Haiti; it is astounding to me how destitute the people are.

As we were discussing this over dinner tonight, Calf #1 said that he wanted to help, too.  He’s been saving up for some cool Star Wars Legos but he thinks it would be better to use his money to help kids in Haiti.  🙂  Calf #3, who has been known to say often these days “’bout me?” (meaning “What about me?”) also wanted to pitch in.  “Me too!”  she said. And that makes their mama’s heart swell with joy.

‘Bout you?  Would you please consider donating with us?  There are many reputable organizations who are working in Haiti; here is a list from Charity Navigator.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t have much to give.  If we all put our $5 or $10 or $50 together, it really does add up.  You can also leave a comment on Angie’s blog or on Kelly’s blog and they are adding in money for each comment.

And, oh yes, I want to give you something too. Maybe you, anyway, if you are the one whose name is picked!  I am giving away a box of some of my favorite purple things.  The box contains:

  • one bottle of Olay Quench body lotion
  • three hand made* metallic purple note cards “imagine,” “believe,” and “dream”
  • five Home Inspirations pomegranate mango tea light candles
  • six packets of Bigelow Pomegranate Pizzazz herbal tea

(do i need a disclaimer? approximate retail value is $15 and I bought this all myself for this contest)

*handmade = I bought stickers and cards and stuck the stickers on the cards.   🙂

So there it is, my blogoversary gift to you!

To enter, please leave a comment on this post telling how you met me or found this blog.

I will use to pick a name from all those comments sometime on January 27th.



Thursday afternoon I got an email.  It was followed by a phone call several hours later, after the children were in bed.  It was good news, thankfully!  We so much needed good news after the sadness earlier in the year.

Months ago, I asked for prayer for Aunt Mel as she had been diagnosed with stage III endometrial cancer.  Every three weeks throughout the summer, she went in for chemotherapy.  October brought radiation.  It was rough going but she did well with the treatments.

On Tuesday she had a CAT scan and a PET scan.  She got the results at her appointment on Thursday morning.


What an awesome report!  They are fairly confident that there are no cancer cells in her body, although she will need to go back for more testing in 3 months and 6 months.

Today I am thankful for her health, and even for the difficult treatments that brought this about.  For the LORD who has truly been gracious to us in this matter.  Gracious to me, especially.  She is a very special person to me and I am SO thankful to be able to have her around for a little while longer.

I am also thankful that I was able to talk with her for three hours on Thursday night.  It made for a late night but it was a wonderful, encouraging conversation.  And while we talked, I reorganized the pantry and folded newsletters.  (I’m also thankful for that added bonus of productivity during the conversation!)

(Join Laurie this month to share Thankful Thursday postings.)

NMM: Vacation Recap


Monday again!  Today’s the day we link up with MckMama for the sweet blog carnival she started.

Seeing that we’re recently back from a vacation, I figured I would NOT talk about it.  Because it was NOT anything to write home about.

We did NOT endure several hours of kids-stuck-in-the-van, with lots of  “I have to pee!” and “When will we be there?” and “I want THAAAAT book!” and “I’m HUNGRY!”  all the way to “The Big City.”  We did NOT happily crash at our friend’s house, and wish the kids would settle down in the tent soon so we could sleep!

I did NOT sleep through The Bull’s leg cramps on Saturday night and Sunday night, one of which did NOT involve him taking a 3 a.m. trip to the grocery store for tonic water (which contains quinine, which his doctor has said will immediately stop leg cramps) and Gatorade (to drink all day long, which is supposed to prevent them.)

(I did NOT have cramps of my own, of a different variety, last week.)

(I did NOT just blog about “girly things.”)

We did NOT invade our friend’s house after only two nights in the tent.  The Bull was NOT relieved to sleep on a bed, after working so hard during those days.  I am NOT unhappy that this was our only camping trip for the summer!  And I was NOT thrilled with the idea of “camping” where we’d have hot showers, real food, and wireless Internet connection.  🙂

I did NOT try to arrange last-minute play dates with friends in the area.  I am usually much more prepared than that and make arrangements in advance! The problem was that I did NOT have any idea how The Bull’s work on Aunt Mel’s project would go, how long it would take, if I’d be able to help him, etc.

I did NOT take the three mooselets to our old church by myself on Sunday morning.  We usually attend as a family.  I did NOT feel very sad when friend after friend asked “where is The Bull?”  And my heart did NOT soar when I saw him drive into the parking lot after hitting the local Home Depot for yet more building materials needed for the project.  I did NOT tear up again, to be in the church we were married in ten years ago, and see purple lilacs on the altar (which is my favorite flower and the one I carried in my bouquet!)

I did NOT hang around Aunt Mel’s project with the children, hoping to be able to help with something and instead spend much time “Leave that alone,” “Get out of there,” and “Stop playing with Daddy’s tools!”  I did NOT quickly realize that small children plus building materials plus tools plus a deck under reconstruction is NOT a good combination.  So I did NOT instead spend time at Target, and Wal*mart, and Fred Meyer’s, and Sears, and Wal*Mart again, each and every day of the project (about one store a day), looking for the Best Gift Ever for the Best Father Ever.

(I did NOT hide all my purchases from The Bull right under his nose!  He did NOT have any clue that that the bags he unpacked from the van when we returned home hid his Father’s Day gifts!)

I did NOT ditch my hubby and children one day to go hang out with Aunt Mel during her chemotherapy.  I did NOT almost laugh out loud when her doctor walked into the room . . . wearing a Hawaiian shirt, jeans, and sandals!  I did NOT have to bite my tongue when I realized that the doctor looks just like Lance Armstrong, maybe in a few years.  I did NOT spend the three hours of her treatment re-learning to play cribbage.  Her brother taught me years ago and I did NOT forget how to play because I hadn’t played in sooo long.

We did NOT experience warmer-than-normal temperatures Sunday through Wednesday, while The Bull was doing the work.  70 degrees in Alaska in June?  So NOT normal!  We are NOT used to this kind of warm weather so we did NOT have to drink extra fluids and run air conditioning in the van as we drove around.  (Interestingly enough, the day we married, 10 years ago, was a hot day too. ) I did NOT pack mainly long sleeve shirts for the children and me, since the weather was predicted to be cool and cloudy.  Then I did NOT regret this when the weather ended up being so warm!!!

I did NOT drive around extra so that Calf #3 could nap in her car seat in the van on Saturday.  And Sunday.  Oh, and Monday too.  And on Tuesday and Wednesday.  And Thursday as well. Anyway! I did NOT park the van in the shade at Aunt Mel’s and leave the doors and windows open on a breezy day while she napped so she wouldn’t get too hot, which led to her being eaten up by mosquitoes. And I did NOT leave the van running and the air conditioning on another day, so she wouldn’t get too hot or eaten by mosquitoes. And she did NOT take extra short naps last week. So she was NOT extra crabby last week, and neither was I!

On Tuesday night, we did NOT drive around “The Big City” for twenty minutes, after dropping the calves off with a dear friend, to have an anniversary date.  We did NOT decide to just go to the Lone Star Steakhouse, since we had a coupon.  We did NOT then spend another half hour driving up one street, and down the next, looking for a coffee shop affiliated with a church that I remember from “way back when” (before The Bull and I married.)  I remembered the name of the coffee shop, but I could NOT remember the name of the church.  Since we could NOT find it, we did NOT decide to just go to the Barnes & Knobles’ coffee shop for cheesecake and decaffeinated beverages and play cribbage. I did NOT keep looking at my watch during this lovely date, hoping to get back to the calves before it got too late, as our friend had early-morning obligations and The Bull wanted an early start to the work day.

We did NOT scramble to finish the project on Wednesday night, so as to spend Thursday as a family.  We did NOT wake up Thursday morning to 50-degree weather, after several hot 70-degree days, and then decide to spend the day outside at the zoo!  I was NOT happy to go into the bathroom at the zoo because it was HEATED and I was COLD!  Ugh!  It is normal to have 50-degree days here, we are used to it and don’t complain about it.

I am NOT going to show any pictures from our vacation today, but if you want to see some you can go here and here and here and here and here (and maybe more soon, check back later.)  And maybe I’ll post zoo pics later.

I did NOT feel awkward when we arrived home after vacation, as if we were in a new place and I couldn’t remember what to do or where to put things.  This is my home, for crying in the mud; we were only gone a week!

We did NOT have chips with our dinner Saturday night, since I was NOT feeling a bit creative after a week’s vacation from menu planning.  I did NOT take several minutes of video of the little girl calf, hoping to capture her adorable pronunciation of “chip.”  We NOT make our children ask politely for what they want, which does NOT make them scream and fuss and cry all the more.

In case you can’t quite hear it, it is “Pla ple.”

I did NOT just include FOUR videos of my baby girl having a fit in this post!

See ya next time!

TT: On Vacation!

This week I have pre-posted all my usual posts because I am not home!  We are on vacation.


It is a family tradition that we go camping every year for our anniversary.  We did that for our honeymoon and every year since (except in 2007 when I was pregnant and expecting a summer baby!)

We love to get out and away from home.  Alaska has some beautiful places. We have seen waterfalls and wildlife and mountains and copper mines and glaciers and all sorts of neat stuff.  I think that God took special care when He made Alaska, because we are totally surrounded by His glory here.

This year our plans were a little different.  Aunt Mel needed some help around the house.  Since Uncle Ben died (when I was pregnant with the second born calf.  It was not a fun time!) she has lived by herself.  Time has taken its toll and things have deteriorated since then.  The Bull has spent some time this week repairing the damage.

Our goal was to get the work done early in the week, then to go somewhere “exotic” (that is, somewhere in Alaska, far from home that we couldn’t normally go to!)  But we realized that tools and supplies would take up the space of our normal tents, cooler, and other camping gear.

Thankfully, a friend offered to let us use their camping gear, in their yard!  This is the first time we’ve camped in a backyard, and the first time we’ve camped in the Big City.

Not exactly remote, I know; but really this works better!  I still have internet connection.  (I was a bit panicked about not checking in on my “peeps” for a whole week!)  And camping with friends is more fun.  And a real flush toilet and hot showers every day, can’t beat that!  (Maybe we should do this every year?)

So today I am thankful for many things.  There are other people who have pitched in to help my dear sister-in-law.  For the vacation time The Bull has had from worked.  For dear, generous friends who we’ve been able to visit with this week.  For the amazing beauty of this Great Land in which we live.  For the projects coming together so well.  For the LORD who makes all things to work out for our benefit!

Don’t you want to head over to Laurie’s and link your Thankful Thursday post?

TT: Nature

It’s time once again. . . Thankful Thursday, this month hosted by Lynn!  The hardest, albeit best, meme of my week.

Well, today’s theme isn’t too hard.  I can do this one without going too far, so to speak.  Alaska in the summer time, wowzers!  Summer is one of the things that made me sure that Alaska would be a great place to lay down roots.

(We won’t talk about winter time today.)

My first summer in Alaska was in 1992.  I had a two-week break from school in Phoenix.  We went from Anchorage to Seward, to Fairbanks, to Denali Park, and many stops in between.  I was amazed at the green-ness.  It was everywhere I looked!  Whereas Arizona was brown and dry and ugly and dead-looking, Alaska was green and lush and lovely and lively.

(Sadly, it tends to be rainy in the summer.  But we won’t talk about that today, either.)

The following year, I moved to Alaska permanently during the springtime.  I got to see where all the green comes from!

This year, I got to experience spring twice.  The first time was several weeks ago; we drove a ways north to see Aunt Mel.  There was still snow in our yard, but the climate was slightly warmer as we got closer to her town.  I was shocked to see the trees all budded.


The closer we got to her place, the more green there was.


Interestingly, springtime in Alaska reminds me of Aunt Mel, as it is one of her favorite times.  Specifically, the color of the newly opened leaves, “pea-green,” as she calls it, is one of her favorites.  (She was scheduled for chemotherapy this week, if you are praying with us. . . so far, all is going well and she is tolerating the chemo quite nicely.)

The second springtime we have had was in our own town, a week or two later than at Aunt Mel’s.  What joy I have had this year, to see the yard go from brown and lifeless, to green and life-filled!

It reminds me of one of my favorite songs, which comes from a verse in Isaiah: “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap [their] hands.”  (chapter 55, verse 12)  What’s not to like about that!?  I can’t claim to understand all that this chapter is talking about, but my heart sings for joy as I read it.  Oh what a wonderful time this will be!  I wouldn’t mind a bit singing this song every day.  And I think we get to see a little bit of this every time the wind blows through the leaves.

Thank You, dear LORD, for the way You show Yourself through Your lovely creation!  And please, let this joyful time come soon!

TT: Sacrifice

One of my favorite Bible passages involves the woman described in Luke 21:1 and Mark 12:41.  The background of this passage is that Jesus had been tested by a couple of “gotcha” questions from scribes and Sadducees, and His answer shamed them in front of the people and angered them.  Jesus then goes on to warn His disciples, in front of the people, to beware of the Scribes, who will receive greater damnation.  Why?  Because they love their prestige and power; they make long prayers for show; but they do not take care of the widows.

In other words, they talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

Jesus then went to sit in the temple, by the treasury.  According to the Blue Letter Bible, this is where the Jewish people contributed towards providing what was needed  in the temple and supporting the poor.

As Jesus and His disciples watched, wealthy people came and put in great sums of money.  Then a widow came and put in two small coins.  Jesus pointed out to His disciples that, while her contribution was small, it was significant because she put in all the money she had.

I get some major warm fuzzies as I think about this woman who sacrificed her very living to provide for others.  Who could be poorer than she?  And yet she put her money in anyway.  That is trust in God, methinks.

When I heard that today’s Thankful Thursday topic was “Sacrifice,” she was the first person I thought of.

This being Holy Week, of course I am thankful for the sacrifice that our LORD made on the Cross.  This allowed me (and others) a life we would never have, and the ability to relate personally to a Holy God. . . a great sacrifice for a priceless treasure.

But I need to share about some other sacrifices from which I have benefited.

My parents divorced when I was 12 and after that we had lean times, financially and emotionally and physically.  Many situations and events during this time impacted my life deeply, and affect the way I live my day-to-day life and how I act towards my husband and my children and parents and siblings.  Many of these experiences were negative, and yet there were positive ones also.

I vividly remember the Christmas that the Baptist Church ladies in our tiny town brought boxes of gifts, food, and a real tree for my family.  I was the oldest of the children and I got to sit and talk  with these women for a few minutes.  One described the difficulty of her life, many years ago, as a newly divorced mother (in a day and age when few parents divorced.)  There were people in her life who rallied around her family and provided for their needs.  She decided at that time that when she back on her feet she would give back by helping others.  And there she was, in my living room, “giving back” to my family.  I was touched by their generosity and decided that someday I would also give back by helping others.

This was the year that I found a red quilt under the tree for me.  Made with scraps of discarded clothing, this quilt was a treasure to me.    I still have that quilt; nearly 2o years later it is threadbare and holey, yet I cannot bring myself to throw it out because it is a reminder to me of my decision.  (Yes, I know I should take some pictures of it and throw it out. . . move on and beat the packrat tendencies. . .)

Sadly, as I grew into adulthood, it seemed that I found myself wanting to help, to give, to benefit others, but I couldn’t spare the time or money to do so.  I was very willing to help, but not so willing to sacrifice.   It is not a sacrifice if I give from my excess.  I am realizing that nothing that I give, to anybody, will be of any use unless it involves my sacrifice.

As I look back I realize that what has been given to me was usually not given from excess but out of sacrifice, that the person who gave to me then had less for themselves and their families.  And yet, they still did it.  And it makes me thankful on a whole new level.

For example, there are the people from our church who gave up their time and energy to help us move when I was 8 months pregnant with our thirdborn calf.  A small band of ladies cleaned our new house, moved boxes from old house to new, and cleaned our old house.  A group of men loaded up heavy things at the old place and unloaded them at the new place.  I am sure they would have rather spent their spare time doing other things besides climbing up to wash the upper cabinets (all the while insisting that I sit down and not overexert myself!), and bending over to clean the toilet and the floors, and carrying in book cases and beds and a filing cabinet.  Back breaking, disgusting work.  You should have seen the dust bunnies under the beds!

Then there were the folks who made room at their table and in their heart for me, who seemed to be glad I was there and were willing to guide me along when I was searching for myself.  I’ve already talked about Aunt Mel and Uncle Ben, who sacrificed their house and privacy and time and money to give me a chance at moving on with life.

When our kids were exposed to chicken pox this January, I was remembering my own experience with chicken pox.  I was in fifth grade and the pox was going through my school.  I broke out with chicken pox on the morning of the school spelling bee, which I had been preparing for several months.  Mom figured that it would be OK for me to go to school anyway, since the pox had been going around school anyway.  So I went to school and competed in the spelling bee and mom was their (probably with my pre-school-aged siblings) to watch me in the audience.

I understand now that this took an incredible sacrifice on her part.  Knowing as I do now (as a mother with pre-school-aged children) how hard it is to keep them occupied and quiet during events for which they must be kept occupied and quiet.  Knowing the love and attention that goes into caring for sick children (most recently the chicken pox, but colds and coughs and fevers previously.)  The lack of sleep that comes from having infants.  Despite her mistakes and faults, Mom truly sacrificed a lot for us.

Dad believed that the best thing he could do was to financially provide for our family.  So when he got a better job, we moved across the country from the big city, where we were surrounded by relatives and friends,  to a tiny town where we knew nobody.  And even after the divorce, he was still focused on providing for our physical needs as best he could by moving for a different job. All these decisions led to some horribly difficult times, and yet there were great blessings  there as well.  And it all adds up to make me who I am today.

Today I am thankful for the sacrifices of those who have gone before me, for those who have given of themselves for my benefit.  This is just a short list!  I am inspired now, more than ever, to sacrifice for the best for others.

Back to reality!

Yes, the pox is over!  Hurrah!  Hurrah!  Calf #1 started the fun, then about 10 days later (two Saturdays ago) Calf #2 was spotted.  Little Miss looked like she had spots, but they didn’t act like the boys’ chicken pox. . . but by Wednesday last she was certainly pocked.  And, despite what I’ve heard about those under age two, she had it good (which is to say, bad: lots of pox.)  The kids spent much time in the bathtub, and it really didn’t keep the boys from their usual dinosaur /matchbox car /plastic animal /train set games.
The only big difference in our day to day life was that we stayed home a lot.  We skipped church and gymnastics.  We know that not everybody wants to have the pox and decided we’d save it for ourselves.  And, quite honestly, that was fine with me.  I’m the one who would spend my vacation time at home (back when I was working full time outside of the house before children. . . a gazillion years ago it seems!  Only about a decade, though, in reality.)

So, anywho, today was our first big day out of the house.  And let me just say that I am exhausted!  Two appointments, gymnastics, lunch with The Bull, the library, and a side trip to the Golden Arches play place. . . it was a busy day and my head hurts and I’m ready for bed.  Thankfully, The Bull took the boys to church tonight so that the little Miss Calf and I have had some time to relax ourselves.

And when I got home this evening, there was good news in the inbox. . . Remember this post?  Ummm. . . . Yep.  Heidi’s random thingamajobbie picked my recipe (and this one and this one) to compete in her Blogstyle Iron Chef Challenge!!!  Wowie Kazowie!  So go over, try the recipes, than go to Heidi’s place to vote for mine. . . I mean, your favorite! 🙂


Oh, and about Aunt Mel. . .it is just endometrial cancer, stage 3.  Monday was her first day of chemotherapy and she will have eight treatments (the last is the end of August.)  So far, so good . . . she has a positive outlook on her cancer and the treatments,  God has provided for her financial needs, and her friends are rallying to take care of her.  I’m going to figure out a way to go visit her.  Please, if you wouldn’t mind praying for her I’d sure appreciate it!  Thanks!

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