Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Now you know why I haven't been blogging much...

After two weeks of having little boys in my house with tummy issues, yesterday was especially wonderful. My mom, dad, and niece came into town to spend the day with us, and I think it's safe to say we had a great time together.
Upon arriving, we took them all into the backyard to see our new patio. After weeks and months of hard work, it was totally worth it to see my mom's reaction! She loved it. Yay! Especially touching was when she saw the pin oak tree we had planted in my grandpa's honor. She told me over dinner that she thinks Poppop would have been very proud of it.

We sat outside for a while and chatted and then headed out to get a fishing license for each of us and to a nature preserve where we caught two little bluegills. Not a banner day for fishing, but we had fun (despite the occasional rain and impatient kiddos). Caden made it clear that he wished he were fishing too, instead of sitting in his stroller.

When we got home, we feasted on some good food...steak, baked potatoes, grilled asparagus, corn on the cob, cucumber salad, and strawberry trifle. YUMMO! Cody and Cassidy enjoyed playing in the yard (although they were really wanting to get into their swimsuits and play on the slip and slide...they were overruled by the adults). He made up for it BIG TIME today as he spent the entire day with his friends slipping, sliding, throwing water balloons and soaking up the sun!

Now that the yard is finished, I wanted to share some pictures of all we've done. This will reveal the reason I haven't been blogging much! (It's been totally worth it, in case you were wondering.)

First, the patio and gazebo...

The side flower bed next to the garage (this is to the right of the patio as you sit on it)...

This is to the left...(there's a veggie garden there too)

This is my pride and joy. It's the pin oak tree planted in memory of my poppop...

Hope you all had a safe and happy Memorial Day. Thanks Nanna, Papa Dean and Cassidy for coming to see us. We LOVED having you here!

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Week in Pictures

From last Saturday with Lori...

And my family...

The Graduate...

And today at the petting zoo/end of the year picnic...

Have a Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Another Milestone...

Today is Cody's last day of preschool. Tonight, his teachers will be honoring the children with a little graduation ceremony as they prepare for kindergarten.

As I've prayed through the decision this year about where to send Cody to school next year (public, private, or home), God has been faithful in guiding us every step of the way, and I truly feel in my heart that the best place for Cody is in our school district.

The thing that makes tonight so difficult is that our kindergarten program is full day and selfishly, I will miss Cody more than I can even put into words. I'm not telling him that of course...after all, he doesn't need to carry that burden! But my heart is sad today as we enter into this new chapter of his life. The "pre" years are behind us and his school career officially begins in August.

My heart is heavy today...maybe it seems silly. It is, after all, only preschool. It's just that my little boy is "graduating" to the next phase of his childhood, and I'm feeling really sad about it. I'm so proud of all he's accomplished so far, and I know that great things lie ahead for him. I know God will be faithful in making him the man He wants him to be. And I look forward to watching him continue to grow into that man.

But the fact still remains...preschool is over and I'm just....sad.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A dear friend, father, and family

Sunday was such a cool day. Jerry and I were invited to sing for a Ballroom Showcase in Indiana, five minutes from where my friend Lori lives. She arrived looking awesome as ever, wearing her favorite green crocs she enjoys talking about on her blog! She hasn't changed a bit, but I can see that age has only made her look prettier. There is a peace about her. She's comfortable in her skin, she loves her family, and she's rooted where God has planted her. I'm so thankful for her friendship and it was great seeing her after five years. We picked up RIGHT where we left off, and plans are in motion to get our boys together for a day of fun this summer. Unfortunately, we both forgot cameras (what were we thinking?) but my sister lent me her camera and hopefully I'll get those pictures soon to post.

My mom and her sweet hubby Dean performed at the showcase yesterday. They were fantastic. I was so proud of them as I watched them dance with grace and style. They make a great team, on and OFF the dance floor.

Dean took me for a whirl around the dance floor a couple of times and I was so overjoyed to have those father-daughter dances. Here in my heart lies a place that sat empty for some time, but last night I told my mom through tear-filled eyes that I'm so thankful she married him and gave us girls such a sweet father. (And here the tears come again....)

Jerry and I sang "The Prayer" before the dinner (thus our reason for being there), but truly the best part was getting to see my family (my beautiful sister and her hubby were there as well)and my best buddy from high school. All in all, a fantastic evening. Even better was the fact that the boys did great with my sister-in-law. You can't ask for any more than that!

Pictures to come soon...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What a whirlwind day!

Well, yesterday was a big day. At 9 a.m. our patio people arrived to begin working. At 10 a.m. I taught a voice lesson. At 11 a.m. Cody's ride arrived to take him to his buddy's house for a birthday party where THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE A MOONWALK, MOMMY! At noon, the baby woke up from his nap and we headed out to find our next vehicle.

I need to back up. Our van has been giving us trouble. Now, I really hesitate to even complain about this, because this van was given to us at a time when we desperately needed a vehicle, and it bought us about a year's time without having to obtain a car payment. It has been a HUGE blessing, and I don't want to minimize that. However, it's an older vehicle with many miles, and it's just on its last legs.

This past week, it was huffing and puffing, chugging and sputtering, and when it died, four times, on the way to and from the chiropractor (once on train tracks at a very busy Chicago suburb intersection), I decided it was TIME. Time for a new (used) vehicle.

Jerry has been keeping his eyes and ears open for a good buy on something used, and he found this:

It's a 2004 Kia Sedona, and we are its proud new owners. I already love it and Cody has lovingly named it "Blue Bird." Don't ask me why.

Upon our arrival back home, our hard working patio installers (who were already giving us a STEAL to complete the work) asked us what we were planning on doing with our old van. I jokingly asked if they were interested, and within ten minutes we had negotiated a deal that just about paid for our patio... free and clear.

The best part is this: As we were wrapping things up with them at the end of the day, the wife of this couple (right now they are a brand new company and a husband/wife team) said to me, "I truly believe that God meant for all of this to be. When my husband saw you that day unloading concrete, he was hesitant to give you his business card. He's very shy and even though he speaks very good English, he doesn't feel confident enough to approach people. But he told me later he just felt like he was supposed to hand you his card. We have children to support and we needed this work today. And we needed a vehicle...we really wanted a van. I just think today was truly meant to be."

A win-win for everyone I would say. The best part is that we were interviewed last night by a member of our church to promote the Crown Financial bible studies as we are "graduates." It was wonderful to look back over this past year, to see how God has provided for our every need, even in the seemingly "small" things. I am ever so grateful to Him for His provision.

"Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I've been busy earning my Motherhood Badges

It's been a bit of a trying week. My normally bouncy, hungry eat-a-saurus, enthusiastic and playful Cody has been sick. Since Tuesday. He missed school, two playdates, and an invitation to play outside with the neighbors, and I think we're all getting cabin fever. At least it was a rainy day yesterday. It was a good reason to get caught up on laundry and housework. And of course, curling up with my boys! By the way, if you haven't seen "Night at the Museum" it's very cute. And clean!

This morning Cody had another, ahem..."episode" and once I got the bathroom cleaned and sanitized once again, I went to check on the baby. He has been drinking water like a crazy person, which is sooooo good, but his diapers haven't been able to keep up. When I went to change him, he needed a bath. So I stripped him down and ran to run the bath which literally took me ten seconds at most. When I returned, my little cherub boy was sitting in a puddle of his making and...PLAYING in it. Oh joy.

All of this is to say (and I'm sorry if it's TMI) that I believe I have certainly earned a few badges on my motherhood vest this week. I know you mommies out there can certainly relate.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Yard Transformation!

All I wanted for Mother's Day was time and help to work in the yard. We've been in this house two and a half years and we bought a home with good bones but in need of some major cosmetic surgery. We've concentrated a bunch on inside and have really ignored the outside (except to mow the lawn and weed occasionally). It's definitely time to do something about our yard. I'm okay with the front yard, but the sides and back of the house need lots of work. As with all things household, one thing leads to another leads to another....

What started out as a basic tree planting has resulted in a landscaping overhaul. I tore up a flower bed, thinned out the hostas, replaced the areas with some new plants and flowers my sister and mom gave me for Mother's Day, and now am in the process of adding edging, mulch, and lights. The old patio blocks came up and a larger area has been dug for a new patio. I planted a vegetable garden on one side of the house. Yesterday, I took it upon myself to load and haul all the old patio blocks to a place that recycles concrete and other material. They were stacked next to my pretty flower bed, and they HAD to go.

I found this place while driving one day, and they recycle all kinds of things...concrete, construction debris, etc. When I pulled in, I had no idea where to go or what to do. I was surrounded by 18 wheelers, huge machines, and lots of noise. And of course, I was the only female in the place. (I should tell you that, upon hearing my story, one of my girlfriends asked me, "ARE YOU CRAZY?" to which I replied, ummm..."yes.") Finally, I found a human being to talk to and was directed to an area where I could unload them. I asked if they had people to help and he laughed at me. Yes, he actually laughed AT ME. Boy, if I didn't feel like a "stupid female." Unfortunately, I forgot my work gloves at home and ended up having to throw the jagged things into this gigantic pile of cement with bare hands. I have several cuts and some soreness today, but hey...they stones are gone! While I was doing all of this, a guy in a landscaping truck pulled up beside my van, and I'm thinking, "Oh, this sweet soul has come to rescue me from my distress and assist me!!!!" Instead, he handed me a business card and said, "I'm guessing you're putting in a new patio?" Gee, was it that obvious?

When I got home and looked at the 12x14 area where we plan to lay a new patio, and when I considered the fact that we have two young children, a husband in school and working a full-time job, and more importantly, when I feel the ache in my back and neck and see my husband laying on the ice pack after a long day of working in the yard, I found that card and gave the guy a call.

He's coming on Saturday and will be finishing the work we started six weeks ago in a day. IN A DAY, people.

Friday, May 11, 2007

For Poppop, With Love

A while back, I posted about a pin oak tree that grew in my grandfather's front yard, and how much that tree had meant to him. Over time, that tree began to mean so much to me and it now symbolizes my family, my roots, and his legacy.

I spoke to my mom a couple weeks ago and we talked about what she will be doing on May 12th, the one year anniversary of my grandfather's passing. She said she'd like to plant a tree, but they aren't currently living somewhere where they can do that.

I thought that was a wonderful idea, so I began calling around to several area nurseries to inquire about purchasing a pin oak tree. Isn't it just like God to do something extraordinary in our circumstances, even in the seemingly little things? Let me elaborate...

As I was calling various places, I found a place called Countryside. This is significant because my grandfather and our family were involved in a church by the same name in Nebraska. I just found out from my mom yesterday that my grandfather put a roof on that church back in the day (his business was construction). Coincidence? I think not.

This has been a hard couple of days. I am sure the nice man helping me at Countryside thought it odd that there were tears in my eyes as I selected my pin oak tree and asked questions about its longevity and its care. I don't mind. The reality of his passing hits home once again and I find myself experiencing waves of sadness. God has been so faithful in comforting me in every way, even as I purchased that tree.

I pray that the roots of our new tree will grow deep and take hold into the soil in which it will be planted. I pray that the roots of our family tree will be deep and strong, firmly planted in Christ and that all of our branches will serve Him and be a blessing to others.

One year ago tomorrow our beloved Poppop went Home. I miss him so much it hurts. But I am so incredibly thankful for the wonderful years we were given with him and I can't wait until we are reunited. Perhaps someday, we'll sit together under the heavenly trees....

He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." ~Jeremiah 17:8 (NIV)

Monday, May 07, 2007

He did it!

Yesterday was the big recital, and Cody did FANTASTIC! He exceeded my expectations, actually. During the rehearsal, he hedged a bit and said he wanted to "save it" for the real thing, but I conviced him of the importance of practicing first to warm up. He did great.

He had asked, since he played the Superman Theme, if it was alright with me if he wore his Superman costume. I couldn't resist. I mean, you're only five once!

He got up there when it was his turn with confidence (although he had requested that I be nearby just in case he forgot where to put his fingers). Truth be told, he didn't need me at all! He did awesome. I was so incredibly proud of him!

And in true gentleman form....THE BOW:

My amazing friend, Diane, made the cake and handled all the reception details. Didn't she do a fantastic job?

And here's the pround mama...though I should have taken a picture with Superman. He was too busy flying around somewhere!

Have a great day!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

I've been tagged!

Lori at Glass Half Full has tagged me for a "7 Random Facts about Me" meme. Hmmm...let's see.
  • I, like Lori, might fool some people into believing I'm organized. But one look into my closet or cabinets...will reveal I'm NOT.
  • Both of our babies were planned by God...not by us (and we wouldn't have it any other way!).
  • I love playing solitaire on the computer, and I do it often while talking on the phone.
  • I don't eat breakfast food like "normal" people. I eat leftovers from the night before, veggies, noodles, or rice. I know, weird. Oh, and often my day starts out with a coke.
  • I've been trying to quit. Unsuccessfully.
  • I've been told, on several occasions, that my intensity (I'm a type A) is intimidating and makes people "afraid" of me. I hate that anyone would feel that way about me without ever getting to know me.
  • I have been married seven years, known my husband for fifteen years (like, half my life!). We broke up at least ten times while dating between 1992 and 1998. It was ALWAYS my doing. I'm so glad he never gave up on me!

I now tag Charity, Kari, and Marc.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A Good Word

In our small group, we've just begun a new bible study called, "Gripped by the Greatness of God" by Pastor James MacDonald. He is the pastor of the church we attended in the late nineties before we moved to our current church. This study emphasizes God's greatness by revealing some of the mountaintop experiences we read about in scripture and encourages you to look at your own life and recall your own encounters with our great God.

This morning, in my quiet time (oh, thank you Lord for the quiet!), I read one of my favorite passages about God's greatness and holiness, and it is something I wanted to share with you. May it be a reminder of how Great our God truly is as you go about your day. (If this doesn't make you want to burst into a hearty rendition of "How Great is Our God" I don't know what will!)

Revelation 19:11-16 (NIV): I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: