Tuesday, December 31, 2013

You Know I'm Sick When...

... I eat soup.

I'm not a soup fan.

Not even a little bit. 

The ONLY time this girl wants soup is when I am very ill.

Today, I felt like my body was CRAVING veggies. So... I made 3 soups!

Vegetable beef, chicken noodle, & butternut squash 


They hit the spot. Yep. I ate all three. And pushed them on my family too :-) 

And true to her word, my Momma was here by 11 cleaning my house. She is still here doing laundry at 5pm.

It's a blessing to be loved so much. Truly. 

We are bummed that we will be ringing in 2014 feeling icky and in our jammies tonight (especially while a great party at our friends' house will be going on right behind us!), but oh well, at least we have each other! 

Counting Blessings Tonight

I tried to go to sleep but awoke with a migraine starting.


After everything else? After three days of misery, now a migraine?!?!


Then my 15 year old comes in barely able to breathe and talk because he just coughed until he threw up in the living room!

Yes, I said 15 year old.

That's how awful this is!

He doesn't handle bodily fluids very well, much like his momma...let alone when we are both sick and gagging on our own phlegm.

Too much detail? Well too bad. That's REAL life people. All your kids sick and you are so sick you can't take care of them.

And the daddy is out of town.

And really, who the heck are you gonna call to come help?

Which friend or family member do you pick to walk into the Sick Zone?!!

You don't.

You buck up and keep moving.

This happened to me a couple times before back in our Navy days. Three little boys and one mom all sick with stomach junk.



Sooooo much puke and diarrhea!

What? Too gross to mention?

Nope. Not here. Not on this blog. I'm sure there is a sweeter, prim and proper blog you can find if you're offended. But tonight, this is a post for the mommas out there who think they can't go one more round in the pig slop!

This is for the mommas who feel all alone and at their end...perhaps miles away from anyone they can call.

Hang in there mommas!!!

My boys are older now and that helps so much. But, I am also more mature and quicker to find the good in the midst of the bad.

So because it's so easy to blog from my phone now, I thought I would just pick it up and focus my mind not on the sickness or frustration (or the vomit that I sincerely hope the 15 year old cleaned up well enough out of the carpet for now because I'm quite certain that if I try to go deal with that right now, I will sympathy puke and there is no way my head or back or chest will handle that well after all the coughing!!!), but focus on the good things.

I have:
A warm home
A comfortable bed
Huge growing boys who still want their mom to cuddle them and rub their back when they are sick
A momma that reassures me we will get the mess under control when everyone is well again... (And I know she means WE with all her heart, for she would do anything for me.
A husband who pushes through feeling bad himself to provide for us
A puppy who will just lay by her boys
Medicine to ease the pain
Running water
Fairly clean toilets that flush
Ice packs
People I could call if I was brave enough
A Savior who I know cares deeply for me
Sons who lay hands on me and one another and pray
God's Word
Electronic books and games
A friend who stayed as long as she could and took care of all she could while she was supposed to be visiting us from out of town and then had to leave with our germs...On her daddy's birthday!
Friends who are texting me right now and praying


Count your blessings name them one by one. Strengthen yourself in the Lord as David did.

Monday, December 30, 2013

That's Sick!

Oh. My. Word.

A vicious virus has hit my home!

Thursday, the day after Christmas, two of our sweet girls came into town. We had been excitedly awaiting Laura and Andrea's arrival, ready to have our "framily" (friends who are like family) celebration.

Amanda got here as well and we had a blast opening gifts and chatting. Thursday night, we grabbed Kim and went out for a girls' dinner. Friday, we hung out, my niece Julianna came over, we played Taboo and watched a movie.

And that's when the horrid symptoms reared their ugly head. Out of nowhere, my throat got really scratchy and my head started hurting. Through the night, I awoke shivering with a fever, and by Saturday morning, I was coughing my head off!

Today is Monday, and I still can't stand up for too long without getting dizzy from the pressure in my head. My torso is aching and a gland in my neck is tender! I'm really hoping this is all because I have coughed so hard and not because I have pneumonia!

The boys all got it as well. Alex is the only one close to normal again. He has been trying to help with the house. Garrison and Trey are still down on the couch. Trey has had 4 (or maybe 5 now) nosebleeds from sneezing!

Tom and Andrew both left to go back to work today, and I'm praying they have escaped it all! Precious Laura took such loving care of all of us and kept up with the house and medication times, etc and then had to drive back to her parent's house sick today. I feel terrible that our visit was wrecked! :-(

Super BIG thanks to whomever did whatever to carry my family through this while I was down. I wonder how long it will take to disinfect my house and wash all the laundry! Ugh!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Family Letter 2013

I'm sorry I wasn't able to get Christmas cards out this year. I just couldn't make it happen with all the physical trials I have had. Thank you so much to all of you who sent cards and messages to stay in touch. What a blessing to have friends all over the world!

2013 has been a good year for us. Even through the hardships with illnesses, we have so much for which to be thankful.

Tom continues to work as a field engineer for a medical instrument company, traveling each week, but enjoying what he does. He is blessed with a kind boss he has found much favor with and nice coworkers for the most part. His time at home is filled with spending time with the boys and me, keeping up with house jobs, helping at church and inevitably fixing someone's electronic gadget! I don't even know how to convey how appreciative I am of my husband. I couldn't ask for a more caring and patient man with whom to share this life.

I am still homeschooling the boys, as well as hosting the women's and young adult's groups for our church bimonthly. I have a precious group of homeschooling moms I get together with monthly and still enjoy relationships with the young women God brought to live with us at different times. Loving on and helping others is my passion, and I am so blessed that Tom enables me to do that by providing for our family and giving me the gift of time. It has been hard to slow down and say no to things as I get to the bottom of some strange symptoms I have been enduring. So far the docs think I may have PTSD and I have a low vitamin D level. After Christmas we will know more, but at least for now, the new medication is helping me sleep for the first time in weeks.

Garrison is a sophomore at 15 and was inducted to the Homeschool National Honors Society back in the fall. He is taking some classes at a local cottage school this year. It's been quite an adjustment in time management for him. One block of classes he has is worth several credits and has been pretty intense and consuming, but he has persevered and done well. It will prepare him nicely for college load in a couple of years! He just received his first PSAT scores and thankfully handled the results well, as he has a tendency to be very hard on himself, even if, by everyone else's standards, he had done well. He has been driving with his permit, and wow, do you realize what a control freak you are when your kid gets to drive you around! Thank heaven for my dad who can give Garrison the patience he needs in this learning process. Garrison continues to play bass guitar for the music team at church and just received his brown belt in mixed martial arts. Garrison enjoys hanging  out with friends and playing sports, music, and video games. He is still very much our compassionate boy who wants to help and will, no-doubt, be a leader and world-changer.

Alexander has had a bit of a tough year. We are still working to get to the bottom of what has caused scarring on his right eye. His left eye is trying to take over and therefore causing the right eye to give up and become lazy. He still deals with a lot of environmental allergies and was just found to have scoliosis. We are awaiting the x-rays to find out if he will have to wear a brace on his rapidly growing body. Alex is 12 and in the 7th grade. He is about 1 inch shorter than Garrison's 5ft 10in height! He is the child I have to tackle if I want his affection, though he was my cuddliest baby! He is going through a lonely time in life right now, desperately wanting a good friend who lives close by. School isn't particularly interesting to Alex despite my efforts to help him find a love for learning. Math frustrates him a great deal, but thankfully writing comes easily...completely opposite of his brothers! He is still our joker who has crazy boldness. He preached his first actual sermon this year and it was really impressive. Alex enjoys being with people...definitely our social bug. He will play around with sports, but usually ends up clowning around and frustrating Garrison to no end! Some things never change I guess! Alex has recently told his dad that he might like to learn to play the guitar so we'll see what happens with that. The trumpet did not become his love that's for sure! Alex just earned his red belt in mixed martial arts. I think he has dealt with so many physical issues that he is just tired right now and often appears apathetic, but I'm happy to see our funloving boy still peek out. I believe whatever Alex goes on to do, he will bring smiles to others for sure.

Trey looks like he has grown inches just in the last week! There is an ongoing bet in the house about which brother will be tallest, and I'm thinking Trey will end up the winner! I can tell he is about to hit the major growth spurt and if it goes as his brothers' did, a year and a half from now, when he is 12, will show him looking down on both of them. He is a thick boy and all the picking on him that Alex has done is going to come back to haunt Alex! :-) Trey is his daddy made over. He walks like him, hangs his head like him, gestures like him, thinks like him... He loves to try to troubleshoot and fix things and asks a million questions a day it feels like. He is charming and quick-witted with a wink and grin to flip for. He is a fast thinker and always a step ahead. Recently, Alex met me at the door as I came home to tell me he had diagnosed Trey with ADHD because Trey had all the symptoms on the Internet! Trey stood behind Alex asserting, "I do Mom! I really do!" Then Alex asked if I could get Trey some medication so he would stop annoying him! I still don't know if he believes me that there is no medicine for that. There is never a dull moment with our Dynamic Duo! Schoolwork is easy for Trey. Life is easy for Trey. He rolls along with a terrific attitude and everything rolls off of him. He will be a fixer of people's problems with a brain that moves a mile a minute outside the box! Trey is also doing 7th grade like Alex, just earned his red belt as well, and is just learning to play the drums.

What a fun time of life we are in with our sons! Before we know it, they will be leaving our home. We are so thankful that our family ties are strong and rebellion seems to be far from them. All the boys show fruit of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and respectable integrity. They have a drive to help others and are very excited at the prospect of adopting a little sister...or two or three or more brothers. We will keep you updated on that! :-) Above all, while achievement is noteworthy and exciting, we most appreciate the men of character and true love we see these boys becoming.

Speaking of boys, we've added another one to our household. In August, my 26-year-old nephew moved in with us. He was trying to get back on his feet after losing his job. He has done so well and it has been a joy to have him with us. He has always been more like my little brother than my nephew. I hated moving away from him so this time together has been sweet!

Since many of you ask about the people who have lived with us over the years, I will update on them as well:

Heather-moved back to the states from Cambodia and married Adam in October! He seems to be a wonderful man and they are residing in Georgia for now. She was a beautiful bride and the wedding was a joy to attend. She is currently working on her Master's in social work.

Laura-fulfilled a long-time dream of moving to New York City last year! She pressed through the lonely times and endured a rough boss and now is working for a sweet family. She gets to use the German she learned in college to help the baby become bilingual and even took a class at NYU on editing!

Saunnie-moved back to the states from Guatemala last summer and accepted a teaching position. She is learning the ups and downs of education systems and yearning to touch young lives.

Andrea-finished her degrees in education and cultural studies last spring, spent the summer studying abroad in Spain, and then accepted a teaching position this fall. She also heads-up an after school program and enjoys blogging about helpful tips and beauty products.

Hannah (17), Matthew (15), and Gracie(12)-are doing okay. They still have hard times and handle things in all different ways. Deena is doing a great job trying to hold things together and be all her kids need her to be.

So that's an update on our crew! We hope you have all enjoyed a blessed Christmas season and that 2014 is filled with peace and joy for you and yours.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Girl Fun!

A fun night of nails, food, dancing, and games with the youth girls...while the boys played until they crashed :-)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Lost Days

After such a fun day yesterday, I went to sleep with a migraine. I tossed and turned all night in pain and then had to take medicine to squelch the nausea.

I'm thankful for medication that can help, but I'm so sensitive to meds that I ended up sleeping on and off all day.

The headache has finally gone completely now at 11:45 at night! I hate losing entire days of life. It steals from my family and me.

I know things could be so much worse. I am currently awaiting test results to rule out a number of different things because I have had some crazy occurrences especially over the past two months. It could be anything from vitamin deficiencies to a brain tumor! That's a fun wait.

I have been jolting awake out of sleep with weird sensations and my limbs tingling or numb. It's all very unsettling and the lack of sleep has taken its toll.

As if the migraines and endometriosis haven't been awful enough, now this. Ugh... Life in the fallen world.

It sure has propelled me to pray for people more though. Chronic health issues that alter daily life are hard to endure. If you know someone going through anything like that, ask God how you can be a blessing.

My anxiety has been so high and I don't know if it started from a few things that hit during the fall and has caused all these symptoms or if the symptoms causing the lack of sleep have caused the anxiety!

The doctor thinks I have PTSD. Who knows at this point! Hopefully I will have answers soon.

Anyway, just keep your eyes and ears open to those in your circle who may be walking through difficult seasons like this. Life can get depressing quickly when one can't plan and get out because of illness.

Friday, December 13, 2013

I Shopped & Dropped!

I did it! With the exception of one more item, I am sufficiently done with Christmas shopping 2013!

I had a terrific time out with my momma today and, had the weatherman not been wrong, I would have made it home before the newest batch of snow.

I'm really thankful I even felt well today after a junky night of fitful sleep. It's always nice when Mom and I get out alone for girl's day. We even enjoyed a nice, sit-down, quiet, dimly - lit dinner that WE did not have to cook! Wahooo!

I don't take it for granted that I am able to buy things and make things for those I love, and I enjoy picking out individual gifts with my mom.

Days to cherish :-) Here's a pic of us taking a snack break and resting our tootsies.

Remember to slow down enough to enjoy the process as much as the end result! I know easier said than done. (And then blog about it from your phone while you soak in the tub :-D)


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Symbols of Heritage

I find it fun to think and hear about all the different things that make Christmas special to different people.

My oldest and dearest Christmas memories go back to Granny Dunn's house on Christmas Eve.  

Let me just say, I LOVED being with my Granny.  She is the first person I remember talking to me about Jesus.  She died twice and came back, and I would always ask her to tell me about the times she went to heaven.  

I wish I had her on video recounting it to me.  I wish I could remember the vivid details she would smile and cry and tell me.  I can remember sitting at her feet on the floor, holding her leg, and her telling me the same two accounts over and over.  At this point, I don't remember a lot of the details, but I remember being with her. 

She absolutely propelled me into my relationship with Jesus, even if I didn't understand it all then.  At her deathbed, I felt the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit.  Even with my eyes closed as we were all in prayer, I knew the moment her spirit left her body and I opened my eyes.  It is one of the most powerful experiences of my life to date.  To say she impacted me as the woman I have become is an understatement.  

My Granny loved, gave, nurtured and comforted like few people I know.  She laughed and cut up with us.  She welcomed anyone into her life and they all came to call her Granny.  She sent cards to EVERYBODY in her life...personal, sweet, thoughtful, kind, and on-time cards.  That was her ministry.

I think I love Christmastime so much because I associate it so much with Granny.  On Christmas Eve, all her living 8 children would bring all their children and come home to her tiny house.  

We packed in there like sardines and sweated bullets!  We had to suck in our guts and squeeze by one another just to get through the halls. We had a constant waiting line for the one bathroom.  We filled every one of the 5 rooms.  

The noise was crazy.  The food overflowed.  Wrapping paper would literally cover the living room floor.  There was always a kid banging on that piano!  I loved the years when Granny would play and sing carols with us grandkids. 

It never failed, one of the older cousins or an uncle would spot an airplane in the sky out the backdoor and yell for the little ones to run and see Rudolph leading Santa's sleigh.  

Those were fun years!  I am so blessed to be filled with such sweet memories.  And I am so blessed to have an ornament from my Granny from nearly every year.  

an angel from my Granny...my favorite

When I was really little, I remember being a bit let down when I opened her gift and it was "just" an ornament.  As I grew though, and realized how little my dear Granny had, I came to be very thankful for her thoughtfulness to all of us.  

this little stocking makes me tear up every year when I see it

When I became an adult and moved away, those little ornaments came to be what kept me connected with "home."  
a bunny from my Great Aunt Pauline, Granny's sister; this was the one I remember getting super excited to find in the box and put on the tree when I was little

Now, as I am quickly reaching "middle age," I treasure these connections to my past and loved ones with all my heart, and I am so tremendously grateful that my Mom has continued this tradition for me and my sons.  It fills my heart with happiness to hear my boys say, "Mom, did you get our ornament for this year yet?  Can we open it?"  I love that they want it...that it means something to them.

sock monkeys made a comeback this year and I thought these three were super cute so I bought them and embroidered the boys' initial and the year on them

I guess that is why I really enjoy having a tree.  It isn't just a pretty decoration to me, though I appreciate beautiful things and have fun making things look nice.  A tree definitely isn't something I worship.  It is simply something to hang pegs of our life on and remember. 
It is part of our story...our heritage and our legacy in little symbols. 

I wanted to chronicle some of them here.  I hope they cause you to reflect on the special things from your past...or inspire you to make some special traditions your children can connect to in the future.

Some my boys have made over the years:
 Garrison, age 4, first year of school

 Alex, age 6; the year he fell in love with penguins

 Garrison, age 9

Alex, age 10, while helping with the preschool class at church

Some I have made for them:
Trey, age 5

Some other people have made for them:
Alex, age 6, from his dear Ms. Sandy 

Some remind us of special moments or seasons of life:
 the year we were married

 for Alex from Didi, first Christmas

 for Garrison from Didi, age 4, first year of soccer & he was #4

for Trey from Didi, age 10, for his martial arts

Some just remind me of things my kids enjoyed:
 the year of the Webkinz

 the year of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

 the year of Beanie Babies

 one that Alex just loved that Didi had on her tree

Trey, age 1, loved Elmo

Some are variations of the same theme my Mom 
gets me every year:
 I love the angels because I absolutely believe angels were created by God to minister to us as heirs of salvation and they are with us

 Though I don't believe angels look like this, I do love what these pretty little creations symbolize...beauty, majesty, power, help, provision, protection, worship, praise, messages from God

 I also love that they are from my Mom and remind me of her and my dad, who have always watched over me on earth and whose love and dedication has, I believe, helped me to receive the love of the Father who I cannot see.

(Those little ice skates are from my sweet Laura.  She brought them to me from NYC last year and they remind me to cherish genuine friendship and never give up on my dreams.)

from Tom's mom to me several years ago
 This one reminds me of her and her steadfast faith.  My life is changed because I married her son.  This reminds me to stay the course, for in due time, I shall reap the reward!

Some are just silly and make us laugh:

the most ridiculous symbol of Christmas ever, but it cracks every man I know up!

Some point us back to the most important thing:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow Days 2013!


Seriously...love, love, LOVE it!  

I am not one of those people who longs to live in the south.  In fact, when we did live in the south, I tolerated the sticky, nasty, disgusting heat the best I could, but secretly (well, probably not so secretly if you had to be around me often), I detested it.  

I really think I could live in Minnesota very happily :)

Yippee for me, my boys all seem to enjoy snow about as much as I do.  We leave Dad indoors to fiddle with his electronics (bah-humbug!), and we hit the powder as soon as possible!  

We just got smacked with two rounds of great snow and ice, which has allotted us FIVE days of chilly happiness!!!  

[I will insert my twinge of "ahhh too bad" for the mail carriers and delivery people and all those who have to endure the not-fun side of snow, but it is what it is, and I think it a sad shame not to make the most of it if one can. Thank you to all who keep making the world go round while I play with my kiddos!!!]

Snow provides terrific learning opportunities and activities too!

observing creation on a nature walk

making art with a different medium

snowman sculpture by Trey, age 11

snow angel by Noah, age 7

snow painting by Hadassah, age 14 & Adalee, age 6

learning what to wear

 the cutest boots

 matching hat, gloves, and coat: check! 
Addi, age 6

 learning what gloves don't work the best: priceless

of course, PE!

snowboarding by Amanda, age 24
(this is MUCH better than her sledding that ended in a mud puddle)
(TOTALLY sorry I don't have pics of THAT!)

 snowboarding by Andrew, age 26

 street racing




developing social skills 
(because we homeschoolers are terribly unsocialized ya know :) 

problem solving

 if your sled doesn't work, just RUN to the finish line

Trey, age 11 

learning to persevere

Sean, age 10 

developing new strategies

Alex, age 12 

trying new things

 snow boogie-boarding???
Garrison, age 15



making time for the little things

 Ethan, age 12
not much cuter than a dog and her boy

 except maybe a dog and her Spider-Boy :)

remembering that friends are a gift from the Lord

and that having a warm home to always come back to 
should never be taken for granted

thanks God.  a lot.