Friday, December 31, 2010

The best gift I've given this Christmas season...

Just popping in to tell you about this GREAT cause, this WONDERFUL little boy with Down's Syndrome who YOU can help, just like I did.

His name is Cliff, and he is alone in an orphanage in Eastern Europe.  A blogger named Janette is helping to raise money for Cliff's adoption grant fund, so that when he finds his forever family, their expenses will be paid for.

Please read about him here.

Won't you join me in helping him?

Good Bye 2010

I have very mixed feelings about the departure of 2010.  It was far and above the WORST year of my life.  It did bring the arrival of my nephew Grant, but this was it's only redeeming quality.  August 2010 included my Dad's disastrous surgery.  The next 8 weeks held a miserable struggle for him as he worked to heal and recover.  (Although it was so hard to watch him be so uncomfortable and in pain, I will be forever thankful for this extra time I had to tell him how much I loved him.)  And of course, September brought his death, an event I don't know if I will ever really recover from.

For these reasons I am not sorry to see 2010 go.  2011 has to be better, right?

On the other hand, this is the last year that held my Dad's presence in my life in a physical way.  I am so scared to leave that behind and face a whole year without him.

I spent some time this morning looking back at my 2010 goals that I set back on January 1st.  They included home sanctuary, health, and relationships.  I am going to stick with these again this year, as I don't feel like I did a very good job at most of it.  Sanctuary is definitely the hardest for me.  This year brought a change in schedule for us, as all three boys became old enough to become involved in activities.  Although I limited the boys to one activity each, it still made our evenings after school crazy!  This has made for my most difficult year trying to balance work, family time, and household tasks.  It left me with precious little time for working to make our home a clean and relaxing space.  This is a whole post in itself, but I really feel sometimes that women got a raw deal from the feminist movement of the 60s.  Sure we can have better paying jobs, but this created an economic situation where most women need to have jobs to support their families.  Now we have full time jobs on top of all the responsibilities that women have always had....raising the kids and managing the household.  It's like having three or four full time jobs at once.  And I am standing here in front of you admitting I am not very good at handling and balancing all of that.

Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox now.  I am going to keep trying in 2011 to achieve balance, and find time to create sanctuary.

I learned a lot in the relationship area this year.  I learned you never know when you won't get to see someone again.  I told my Dad in his birthday card that our experience with his surgery taught me to never waste an opportunity to say I love you, to give a hug, or to appreciate.  I am going to work hard to never forget this, and carry this forward into 2011 and beyond.

Health also took on a new perspective as my siblings and I all realized the genetic woes that are stacked against us.  I found out I am in a dangerously  high risk group for heart attack with my high cholesterol problems and genetic history.  I got a treadmill, and changed my diet even further.  I finally, finally, finally lost 10 pounds.  I am hoping for more in the coming year.

I'm going to keep plugging away at these goals this year, and I'm going to forgive myself for not being perfect at achieving them last year.  I am working every day to remember it's okay to be human and not super woman. 

I hope all of you have a wonderful New Year's Eve tonight, and more importantly a wonderful 2011!  Thanks for spending some of your time (which I know is precious!) to be with me here at The Sole Woman.  You are part of what makes the adventure fun for me.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I can't believe another Christmas Day has passed, in the blink of an eye. I am sad to see it go...I love the holiday season so much! We had a wonderful day yesterday, filled with:

Brotherly Love


Handsome boys ready for church on Christmas Eve (with Evan singing in the choir!)


New family members


Celebrating Christmas Eve at my Mom's house... It was nice to be together, but also much harder than I thought it would be without Dad there. It was so hard to not have him with us, but we made it through one more "first". We made it through together, as a family.


More new family members...this is Lindsey, my brother's infinitely awesome girlfriend. She feels like she has been my sister forever. There are so many things that make her fit into our family perfectly, and it feels like God sent her to us as a gift.


Christmas morning Christmas Trees...


Boys ready to open gifts


...and Hot cocoa and Christmas cookies for breakfast


It was a good holiday, and we felt surrounded by family and love. If you celebrated Christmas yesterday as well, I hope that you had a wonderful day! I count all of you that come here to read my little corner of the blogosphere as one of my Christmas blessings. THANK YOU for spending time with me here at the Sole Woman!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Today would have been my parent's 36th wedding anniversary.

I have been thinking about my Dad, and my parent's marriage all day long. One of the biggest blessings that God has given me is my parent's example of marriage. My Dad and Mom were always loving and kind to each other. I can only remember them arguing in front of us kids once when I was growing up. This doesn't mean they didn't have differing opinions, but they were so respectful and kind to each other when they did.

My Dad always spoiled my Mom on special days like birthdays and anniversaries, but he did special things for her in the everyday moments too. He provided me with a wonderful example of what a husband can be, should be, and needs to be. His example helped lead me to Jeff, and I am so thankful.

When my parents celebrated their 30th anniversary, my siblings and I surprised them with an anniversary party, complete with all of their friends and family. It is one of the few times we were really able to pull one off on my Dad. I will never forget his expression of shock as he walked in the door to my house and saw everyone gathered there to celebrate them. We thought we would be able to do a bigger more formal party for them when they made it to their 40th or 50th anniversary, but it turned out to be our only opportunity. I am so grateful that God gave us the inspiration to throw them that party. I am also grateful that we had a friend who is also a photographer take pictures of that night. They are treasures to me now.

I wish that my parents had been able to celebrate many more anniversaries together. But I am so lucky to have been a witness to the 35 1/2 years they were together.

I love you Mom and Dad. You are both my heroes.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Are you making a New Year's Resolution?

Unbelievably, we only have 11 more days of 2010. I have some major issues with this, but that is a whole other post for later in the week.

In the meantime, I am thinking about New Year's Resolutions. One of mine is to spend more time with God, through his words in the Bible. I discovered when I read through the Bible this year that I am a better person when I spend time each day with God. I am going to be reading through the Bible, cover to cover, beginning on January 3rd.

I would love it if you would join me! You can read more about how to sign up here.

You can read about how I felt when I finished this program for the first time this fall here.

I am so excited about reading with the people who have already signed up! I am praying for each of you already. I encourage those of you who have signed up to start thinking about how you will fit in reading time everyday. What changes will you make in your schedule? I have found for me that it helps to break the reading up as I go through the day. I often read a couple pages here and there when the kids were occupied, or even when I was waiting for something to come out of the microwave. Other readers have told me that they did best when they blocked out a large chunk of time to accomplish all 12 pages for the day. (And 12 pages is it! That's all for each day! It makes it seem so much more like a manageable task when you think of it this way.)

I am hoping many of you will join me!! It will change your life, I promise.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wrapping Frenzy!

I am done with my Christmas shopping, but I haven't wrapped ONE.SINGLE.THING!

All the gifts are piled up in my secret hiding spot, just waiting. Have I ever told you that I don't have much patience for jobs that take a long time? I have lots of kid patience. Give me a room filled with kids, and I can wade through the worst of problems with buckets of patience. Give me a lot of vegetables to chop, cookies to bake, rooms to paint, or lots of presents to wrap, and I want to pull my hair out. I feel so overwhelmed with jobs that will take more than an hour, that I don't even want to start.

Which is why my secret hiding spot is making me anxious. The thought of all that wrapping is making my skin crawl.

I know what some of you are thinking...use a gift bag Christy.

But I just can't.

When I was little, the big magic of Christmas morning for me was presents to unwrap, all in a jumble under the tree. My Mom, God bless her, was much more practical with four kids. She used a lot of gift bags, and when we woke up on Christmas morning, each child had their own very organized pile of presents set somewhere in the room to make for easy opening.

As a Mom myself, I can understand where she was coming from, but I have this compulsion to give my kids that jumble under the tree, and the unwrapping experience. (Don't get me wrong...I know the presents aren't the most important part. But they are fun, right?!)

Tonight, after my little munchkins are tucked in their beds, I am going to make myself tackle that pile. I wish I could ask Jeff to help, but he has always wrapped his gifts in garbage bags. Unfortunately, I am not kidding. He's lucky I found him to be the nicest, smartest, most handsomest man otherwise that first Christmas we had when we were dating when he gave me a diamond necklace in a garbage bag might have been the end. Instead, I laughed and laughed. And I still laugh when he gives me his gift every year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

And so this is Christmas...

I have been missing my little blog. I didn't mean to neglect it this month, but December? It's been crazy.

I know it's crazy for everybody, and I shouldn't complain. Not all of it has been bad crazy. There have been good moments, like Evan singing in a trio at the 6-8 Christmas concert at school.

Or when Charlie and Sammy sang their preschool Christmas program, and neither were scared to perform. Sammy now loves to walk around the house singing "Up On the Housetop", which is cuter than anything.

Or when my aunts, mom, and sister and I all got together and baked our brains out, and made hundreds of Christmas goodies, all in one day.

Or when I sang with the choir at Mass for my first performance sing my Dad died. Music lifts my spirit, and singing in church makes me feel surrounded by God's love. It's been so very healing.

Or when I got to spend my very favorite three weeks of the year with my class at school. There is nothing more magical than spending time with small children in December. I love my 1st graders. They've helped me to heal too.

Or when I got to go out to dinner with a good friend, and just talk. I love girl time.

There have also been ear aches, sinus infections, bronchitis, and crazy schedules, but I guess in looking back, I notice the good makes up for the crazy.

The good also helps to make up a little bit for the grief. I miss my Dad. SO much. Of course, it is harder around the holidays, but the every day things are so much harder to me. I wanted him to see Evan sing (and I prayed like crazy that he could peek down from heaven and see Evan, so brave up on that stage...and I really think he did). I want to call him on the phone and ask him a question. I want to see him at church. I want to drink coffee with him at breakfast on Sunday. I want to tell him I love him.

I'm getting by. I'm still excited about Christmas, mostly because my kids are excited. I still feel joy and happiness in my life and my family. But December would be so much better with Dad here with me. Maybe that's selfish, because I know how much joy he must be experiencing in heaven. The glory of Christmas in heaven must be incredible! I just wish we had gotten to have a little more time together here on Earth first.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Exciting Announcement!

If you've been a regular reader around here, you might remember that this summer I completed the Bible in 90 Days online reading program along with Amy at Mom's Toolbox. It was the most incredible experience for me, and ended up being one of the things that helped me through my Dad's death the most. I can't recommend doing the Bible in 90 Days program enough!

In fact, a new session is set to begin on January 3rd, 2011. And this time, not only will I be reading the Bible in 90 Days again, I will be serving as a mentor for one of the groups reading through the Bible in 90 Days. I would be thrilled to have you join me!

To sign up, please visit here. When you complete the sign up form, you can indicate that you would like to be assigned to my reading group, if you would like for me to be your mentor. You are also able to join the program and be randomly assigned a mentor. The sign up goes live at midnight on Monday, November 29th.

I will be praying right away for every person who may be considering beginning this journey. It may seem like an overwhelming task at first, but the program does an outstanding job of dividing the daily reading assignments into very manageable chunks. If even have an inkling that God is calling you to read the entire Bible, I encourage you to pray about the Bible in 90 Days program. It is an amazing experience, and I guarantee you won't regret it!

Won't you join me?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy 4th Birthday Sammy!




Happy birthday to my baby, my biggest surprise, my Sammy. Today starts the special two months of every year when Charlie and Sammy are the same age.



You will always be the perfect addition to our family. I love you forever Sammy K!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Welcome Home Aspen!

This past weekend we were blessed with a new addition to our family. His name is Aspen, and he is an Alaskan Husky. He is one of the biggest dogs I've ever met, which should make me nervous, since big dogs have always intimidated me a bit. The only way to describe Aspen though is as a gentle giant. He is so calm, so friendly, and so laid back. He never barks, never has accidents in the house, and never jumps on people. He never goes for your crotch like so many dogs I know. He is a gentleman.




Most importantly, Aspen loves my kids. He has especially bonded with Evan. Aspen follows Evan all over the house, and sleeps in his room. The other night when Evan didn't feel well, he sat with his head on Evan's bed for over an hour, just looking into Evan's sleeping face. He took a break to eat dinner, and then went right back to Evan, and curled up on the floor next to the bed. You could just tell that he was worried about Evan.

He lets Charlie and Sammy love on him in their not always gentle preschool way. They both like to watch TV with their heads on his stomach, and Aspen just lays there patiently. He is one of the best dogs I've ever met.

We are blessed to have him.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lovin' Norah Jones

As my family and I have been working on returning to "normal" life and healing from the hurts of the last 4 months, we have turned to music over and over again to help us heal. Sometimes we choose praise and worship music when we need to feel Jesus by our side. Sometimes we choose fast and upbeat dance songs, so we can help our hearts to feel happy again. Sometimes we choose silly kids songs to help us think about other things. And sometimes we choose slow and mellow, for the times when we are exhausted from just putting one foot in front of the other.

This week we added a new album to the slow and mellow category. Norah Jones' new album called "Featuring".



I have always loved Norah Jones' smooth voice. It's so relaxing to listen to. Her new album features songs that she has collaborated on with other artists, including some of my favorites: Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, (can you tell I love classic country?) and the Foo Fighters. All of the songs are smooth, mellow, and delicious. I love how all of the songs have a slightly different feel and flavor, depending on the collaborating artist.

This album has been my companion this week as I have worked up to facing a major holiday without my Dad. When I've needed to calm and center myself, Norah has been there to help. Music has always been a central part of my life, whether through band, various choirs, or just listening to my favorites on my iPod (or Walkman back in the day!) It's what I turn to to deal with emotions. I am thankful to have found another "go to" CD.

For more information on the album, you can go to:
The Norah Jones Site
Norah Jones on You Tube

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of Norah Jones' "Featuring" by the One 2 One Network.

Monday, November 01, 2010

My Comforter

I was smacked in the face today by this verse...

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 2 Cor. 1:2

Thank you God for comforting me. For helping me through this trial. I am praying that He will use me to comfort others who may also feel the pain of loosing a loved one.

God IS amazing!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Hope you had as much fun as we did!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Life

As much as I feel time should have stopped on September 28th, life and time does move on. I think it is doubly hard for me because for seven weeks after my Dad's surgery, life was on a crazy, hectic pace. I would go to work during the day, come home and rush dinner and homework, sneak in some family time with the kids, and then I would go to the hospital or to my parent's house to help care for my Dad. I didn't have much time to think, I only had time to do. To care for others.

After Dad died, not only was he gone, but the hectic pace came to an abrupt halt, and I was left with too much time to think. All of the emotion from Dad's passing, doubled with the emotional stress of the previous 7 weeks hit me like a freight train. I think this is why for a few weeks I would find myself doing an everyday mundane task and think to myself, "Why in the world do I have to do this? Why is this important?"

I am beginning to take joy in the everyday again. Mostly because I know how extremely irritated Daddy would be if we didn't enjoy our time here on Earth. I have enjoyed watching Charlie end his second soccer season with a trophy he is so proud of that he sleeps with it, seeing Sammy and Charlie dressed in Halloween costumes, and hearing Evan prepare for his Christmas concert where he will be singing in a trio. I am enjoying my classroom and my students, and the feeling it gives me of following a vocation from God. I feel purpose in being a wife, a mother, and a teacher. My role as a daughter is more important to me than ever. I want to be there for my Mom as much as possible as she journeys through this new stage in her life.

We are all learning to cope and to continue. We will always miss Dad, love Dad, and wish he was still here with us. But we will also still enjoy, love, and embrace the life we still have to lead.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Photographs

It was not the first time I had tried to wish and pray myself into a picture.

When I was 12, Nickelodeon started playing reruns of the Monkees TV show. I fell head first into my first celebrity crush...Micky Dolenz, the handsome and curly haired drummer of the 1960s band was the first guy to make my heart pound. Never mind that he was in his 40s by the time I was introduced to him. My Mom helped to feed my obsession when she dug through her old record collection, and found me an original Monkees album, which I then listened to ad nauseum on my record player.

Not long afterwards, I read a book in which the main character stared so hard at a picture she found herself tumbling into it, and she had a whole new life inside the photograph. My 12 year old self thought about how awesome this would be, and I am embarrassed to admit, tried mightily to wish myself into a picture of Micky Dolenz on the beach. I found the picture on the back of the album cover, and boy oh boy, did I want to join his 20 year old handsome self next to the sand and the surf.

A couple of days ago, I was looking through pictures of our trip to the lake last summer. I was missing my dad terribly, and I needed to see his face. I came across a picture of my Dad and I playing shuffleboard on the court behind our cabins. We had the best time together. He beat the pants off me the first three games we played. The next night though, I started to get the hang of it. He was proud of me for giving him a challenge, but I never did beat him. When I looked into the picture, I saw him as he was just three short months ago. So strong. So healthy. I was overwhelmed with a sense of disbelief. How can it be that he isn't here anymore? How can it be possible that I can't call him on the phone and remind what a great time we had playing shuffle board? He was so healthy. And so vibrant. Neither of the people in the picture had any clue our time left together was so short, and we wouldn't have believed it if you had told us.

And then I stared and stared at my Dad. And I wanted so badly to go inside that photograph and be able to have that one night with him again. To give him a hug and tell him I love him one more time. Or to be able to warn him of the future, and beg him not to get that stupid surgery. I know it doesn't do any good to keep thinking it, or saying it, but ohmygosh....I want my Daddy back.

And then I remembered being 12 and doing the same thing, and I had to giggle a little. It also made me remember that my Dad took me to a Monkees concert the year I was 12, at Rosenblatt stadium. It was my first and only concert I have ever been to, and I loved it. He even brought me a Monkees souvenir book and I still have it. I am sure Dad was miserable, but I am so thankful that he was the kind of Dad who was willing to be miserable just to make his daughter happy.

They aren't enough to make up for him being gone, or to fill the empty void, but I am so glad that I have so many wonderful memories of my Dad. I am so glad that I told him I loved him so many times after his surgery. I would welcome the chance to tell him a thousand more times, but I know that he knows.

The one thing I am sure of, and the one thing that does make me feel better, is that I still feel his love for me. All the way from heaven.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Loops

My brain is thinking in loops lately. I find myself having the same thoughts over and over again through the day. What is amazing, is that I can have these thoughts at the same time I am teaching, doing the laundry, or getting the kids in the tub. I can't seem to be fully present in the moment.

My main train of thought is "How can this be?" "How can it be possible my Dad won't come over for dinner ever again? How can it be that someone so healthy isn't with us anymore? How can it be that we just had a funeral for my Dad?" Maybe in thinking this over and over again I am subconsciously trying to accept a reality that just doesn't make any sense at all.

I have also discovered that grief is exhausting. I have never felt so deep down, bone tired before this.

I am just trying to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And the thing that helps me to do that is that I know my Dad is saying prayers for me to have strength to get through the day. I know he is still taking care of me, just in a different way than he did here on Earth.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

I Can See the Thestrals

If you are a Harry Potter fan, you may remember the thestrals which pull the carriages full of students from the Hogwarts express to the school. Most of the students think the carriages are magic, and move on their own, but students who have seen death can see the invisible thestral creatures pulling the carriages.

That's how I have been feeling this week, as I have had to return to work. Everyone has been so friendly and helpful, but it seems that people are divided into two groups. The first is made up of people who care about you, but have never been through the death of someone very close to them. They don't know what to say or what to do, so they don't look at you. They don't mean to, but they make you feel like you may have the plague. They don't want your fate to be theirs, and they don't want to see your pain.

The second group is made up of people who know just exactly how wretched it is. They have been through it themselves and know that you are feeling like you have a black hole in your chest instead of a heart. They reach out with hugs, and words, and love, and action. They look you in the eyes when they say, "It absolutely sucks, doesn't it?" And when you look back, you see your own pain mirrored in their eyes. And you know they can see the thestrals too.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

I Love You Daddy

On Tuesday September 28, at 10:45 in the morning, my Daddy went to be with Jesus in heaven. His heart, so tired after all of it's struggles after his surgery, simply wore out and stopped beating. Maybe someday, I will be able to write about that day here. For now, it is too raw, too personal, and too agonizing. When I try to sleep, my brain replays the 8 hours of terror from the time my Mom called me at 2:15 in the morning to tell me his Life Vest had alarmed and the paramedics were at their house, to the time my Mom and my siblings and I stood around his hospital bed, holding on to him and saying good bye.

My Daddy was so much more than just a Dad to me. He was also my hero, my friend, and my protector. He was my mentor and model. Most everything I have done in my life has been with the intent to make my Dad proud of me. At his wake service last Thursday, I knew I had to write and read a eulogy to him. I wanted him to be proud of me again, and I wanted the world to know what an amazing man he was. Is. I know that just because he is in heaven, he hasn't stopped being amazing. I know that he is continuing to love and care for me, and always will.

I am so proud, and so thankful, that I was able to read the following words that night clearly, and without faltering. It was my gift to my Dad. It was my way to send my love to him. Here is what I read:

Creighton John Micek Jr. Also known as John, CJ, Creighton, and Poppo. But to me, he is Daddy. All of you know him from different places. To some of you he is brother, friend, coworker, bike riding buddy, or fellow member of the Buttheads. All of us here though can say that regardless of where we knew him from, he was one of the best men we’ve ever known. Tonight I would like to share with you some stories about my Dad that exemplify the qualities that made him so special to so many.

Dad grew up in a family of 10 children. He was closest in age to his sister Linda. He spoke of riding bikes with her to the library, and then taking their books into the cool of the basement to read away an afternoon together. Linda also often talks fondly of walking home from school for lunch together, hand in hand. The two of them developed a lifelong love of books, but it was Dad who continued with bike riding into adulthood. He rode in countless years of Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska events, and organized many weekend riding excursions with friends. This was how his group of friends, the Buttheads, got their start. Dad firmly believed that everyone should enjoy riding a bike, and when he made a new friend, that friend would often quickly find himself gripping handlebars and peddling quickly.

It was also Dad who brought people together. He loved to meet new people and bring them into his circle of friends. For example, the people he loved to play pool with were work friends, brothers, and biking and hiking buddies. Dad had a knack for mixing people of all backgrounds together, and creating a social group that loved to have fun.

In addition to his friends, family was a large part of his heart.

My parents met on March 10, 1972. He remained devoted to my Mom ever after. Through his love for Mom, Dad provided a wonderful example to us of marriage. Though they had their ups and downs like all couples, Dad never wavered in his faithfulness and devotion in their almost 36 years of marriage.

Dad was also the most dedicated of fathers. Here my brothers and sister and I have many stories to share. When it was only Sarah and I, and Mom worked weekends, Dad was in charge. He could only cook one meal, so every Saturday night he made us macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, and pork ‘n beans. To make up for the meal, afterwards he would always fix us a Tostinos party pizza and let us stay up and watch Creature Feature while we snuggled on his lap.

When Creighton came along, he was the cutest, chubbiest, but also the most colicky baby any of us had ever laid eyes on. Every night like clockwork, just as Dad was coming home from work, Creighton would start screaming. Dad was the only one who could calm him down by doing what we called his Indian War Dance. He would walk around the house for hours, bouncing Creighton on his hip, and singing an Indian war cry.

Ben’s arrival brought with it a series of health issues that required many procedures done at Medical City Dallas. Dad quickly ran out of vacation time, so every weekend he would drive 13 hours down to Dallas after work on Friday, and have to return on Sunday, just to spend a few hours with Mom and Ben. He always gave exactly what a situation required, without complaint.

Just as this was a great example for us, he taught his children other things by example as well. For 15 years after my Grandpa’s stroke, Dad gave Papa Creighton a weekly shower, did their bills, handled home repair, and Ben even remembers winding their grandfather clock every week before we left. When Dad became sick in August, we all knew just what to do because he had shown us. We had a family meeting and voluntarily took on chores and responsibilities that he could no longer do. Not only did he serve others, but he always did it with a joyful heart. Just by watching how he treated people, we learned honesty, integrity, and loyalty. Even when he was feeling his very worst these last two months, he made sure to call each health care worker by name, and thank them for their care.

He didn’t reserve his kindness just for friends and family, but for everyone that he met. At Mutual, he met a woman named Lou who worked in the coffee shop. He always struck up a conversation, and they quickly became friends. When she heard he was sick, she found my brother Creighton online and told him to tell Dad that his first cup of coffee when he came back would be on her, and he promised to collect.

While Dad was an honorable man, he was certainly not stuffy, and he loved to have fun. He loved to take his grandson Evan camping with the guys. Dad, the frustrated astronomer, loved to shoot off rockets as a kid, so he enjoyed introducing Evan to the joys of rocket building. He also loved to think of activities specific to the interests of each grandchild. Dad played in the black truck with Colin, played air hockey with Charlie and Sammy, and read princess books to Brooke. One of Dad’s favorite pastimes was lounging in the horse tank, and all of us loved to soak in the sun with him and enjoy a beer or a root beer.

Daddy and I were always very close. I knew that I didn’t want to go through childbirth without him there to hold my hand and coach me through. I will always treasure the memory of him being present at the births of all three of my children. I will never forget his excited expression as he welcomed Evan into the world, and introduced himself into Poppo dom. Dad and I always thought exactly alike. We could just look at each other, and know we were having the exact same thought.

He was the BEST dad ever and loved each of his children fiercely. When he discovered that the name Sarah meant little princess, he thought it was perfect, and forever after he referred to her as his little princess. He beamed with pride when Creighton came along, and he could proudly pass on his name and introduce the world to Creighton John Micek III. Benjamin was Joseph’s younger brother in the Bible, and the Bible describes him as much loved. Dad thought this was the perfect name for Ben, as he always was very protective of him.

So tonight, we’ve looked at the qualities that made Dad so special. Each and every person in this room has been blessed for knowing him. He is a gift to us that we will always carry in our hearts, we hope that you will too.

I love you Daddy. I miss you every second of every day. My heart has a big empty hole, right in the middle that won't be fixed until I can see you again.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A New Normal

Now that Dad is home again, we are continuing to put one foot in front of the other, and take his recovery day by day. It is agonizingly slow, but we are praying that clot is shrinking daily. I am so proud of my Dad for working so hard, for trying to so hard to be positive, and for keeping up the fight. I think this is one of the hardest things he's ever done.

There are a thousand times a week I still think, "I should call Dad and we can..." or "I bet Dad would like to..." and then it all settles over me again. It's hard to get used to his limitations, but I am thankful they aren't permanent . I am trying to think of ways to bring his favorite things to him until he can do them himself again.

One thing I don't want to return to normal, is this new awareness I have of every moment with him, with my family, with friends. I am hyper aware of how easily someone can leave you, and how quickly life can change. I have been so much more thankful for small moments and every day things. I don't want to loose that-instead I want to soak up EVERYTHING.

On Monday, it was my Dad's 58th birthday. I stopped by my parent's house just for a few minutes so the boys and I could give him birthday hugs. It was so nice to see him smile, watch him watch my kids, and tell him I love him. I am never going to see my Dad and not tell him I love him ever again. You never know when it might be your last chance, and I want him to know he is LOVED.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Home and Birthdays

My Dad is back home from the hospital. Again.

And I am so, so, so glad. I know probably every kid thinks their parents are the best, but I truly know that my Dad is one of the BEST Dads ever. He was such an awesome example growing up of how to be an honorable, trustworthy, loving person. He taught me integrity and how to serve others with a joyful heart. In the hospital, he continued these lessons by treating every nurse, tech, doctor, and therapist with respect and cheerfulness, calling each one by name, even when he felt at his lowest. I love him for all of these things, and for his spunky personality. I am so happy he is my Daddy, and that he is home again. I want to have many more years to laugh and learn with him. I am SO lucky to be his daughter. SO lucky.

It is my Dad's birthday on Monday. The best of birthdays is a birthday that you almost didn't get to have, and we are rejoicing that we get to celebrate this day with him.

It is my handsome Jeff's birthday tomorrow. We are going to welcome him into middle age with white cake with white frosting (his favorite), some very inspired presents, and his favorite foods for dinner. I haven't mentioned on this blog lately how adorable he is, and how great of a Dad he is, and how much I love him, but he is and I do.

I am beyond blessed to have these two men in my life. How did I get so lucky as to have two of the best men on the planet in my life? I can't wait to spend their special days with each of them.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Depressing

The doctors found a large clot in the left ventricle of my Dad's heart today, which made it impossible for them to complete any of the other procedures they had planned for today. He will now need to take blood thinners for 2-3 weeks to try and dissolve the clot, and then they will try again.

He is so depressed about this development. I wish there was more I could do to lift his spirits. I wish that I could take away his frustration, and go through this for him. It is the worst thing in the world to have to watch a loved one struggle.

I just want my Daddy back. I want him to be healthy and happy. I am willing to do anything to get that back.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Back in the Hospital

My Dad had to go back in to the hospital last night.

After many tests today, the doctors have discovered that as a result of the damage done by the heart attack, he has developed an arrhythmia that people typically display during a heart attack. It can be fatal, as it can cause cardiac arrest with a heart attack. They are going to do a procedure tomorrow morning to try and convert him to a normal heart rhythm. They will also remove a small section of the heart that can sometimes send irregular electrical impulses to the heart.

The doctors think the original open heart surgery he went in for in the first place was not successful, and that now he needs an internal pace maker. Unfortunately, they can't do that for another 2 months so that his heart can heal. Even if they convert him tomorrow, he could at any time go back into this arrhythmia again, so he will have to wear something called a Life Vest for the next two months. The vest senses when the heart goes into the arrhythmia and it shocks the heart to get it back into normal rhythm.

It looks like he will be back in the hospital again for awhile. I am really nervous about the procedure tomorrow. His heart is already so weak, and it makes me anxious to have them messing around in there again.

Prayers for my Dad are greatly appreciated right now. I know that all things are possible through our Lord Jesus, and I am putting Dad in His hands.

Monday, September 06, 2010

I FINISHED!

I did it!


I read the Bible, cover to cover, in 80 days. I pushed through to the end today, and read the last 6 day sections in one day. The writings of Paul, Timothy, and the other disciples at the end of the New Testament were riveting for me. It was easy to keep going until the end.

This may sound cliche, but it really was life changing for me. In June, when I started, I felt God calling me strongly to do this. Looking back on the events of the past month, I really feel he wanted me to be immersed in the scriptures as my family and I went through this challenge with my Dad. It was so comforting to feel God next to me every day, and to hear him talking to me through my daily time in the Word.

I learned SO MUCH. Before I read the Bible, I knew bits and pieces of scripture, and didn't know much of the "big picture". So much makes sense to me now, and I have a clearer idea of what I need to do to be a follower of Jesus. I learned so much about my roles as wife, mother, and teacher. I feel closer to Jesus. And also? I feel JOY.

Thanks so much to Amy at Moms Toolbox, for leading this challenge. I am so thankful for your leadership and guidance, and for providing us with this opportunity.

I would love for all of you to join me this winter at Moms Toolbox in reading the Bible in 90 Days. That's right! I'm going to do it again! I know there is so much more God wants to say to me, and I am going to be able to study more deeply on my second time through. I am also going to serve as a mentor to other readers. I am passionate about sharing this experience with others! Pray about it...I would be so excited to read with you!

Life Update

Oh my poor little blog! How I've missed you! Life has been like a freight train lately though, and it has been a struggle just to keep my family fed and clothed. Thank goodness for Labor Day weekend, because I finally had the chance to deep clean my house. I won't describe how badly it needed it, because you would probably throw up.

Another reason that I had some extra time this weekend is because MY DAD CAME HOME FROM THE HOSPITAL ON FRIDAY!!!! After a LONG 24 day stay in the hospital, he is home. Friday was my day for hospital duty, so I had the absolute honor and privilege of getting to drive him home and help him walk into the house. I cannot put into words how emotional that experience was for both of us. After going through a time when we thought we would never get to see him alive again, tell him we love him, joke around with him, or enjoy family gatherings with him at my parents home, helping him walk through the door was amazing. My heart wanted to burst with thankfulness. My Dad looked around and could just say, "This is wonderful. Just wonderful."

He still has a long way to go in his recovery. He is using a walker to get around, and just a trip to the bathroom wears him out, but we are seeing gradual improvements to his strength every day. He is having trouble retaining fluid as his heart heals, but the doctors tell us this will slowly get better. He has nurses checking in on him at home regularly, and we take his vital signs twice a day and send them in via computer to the nurses station. It's nice to know we have a medical team behind us while he is at home.

Remember over the summer when we were agonizing over whether their new house was the right choice? After all of this, we all recognize that it was God's choice, and He provided it because it is absolutely perfect for my Dad. The layout and size is perfect for his mobility issues. There is no way he could have gone home to their other house filled with stairs. The fact that the house is two seconds away from mine have allowed me to easily take care of things around the house for them, and to help out if Mom and Dad need anything. There have been so many things, large and small, that took place before all of this happened that have made all of this easier on our family. It has been so awe inspiring to see all of the ways that the Lord is taking care of things. It has been the ultimate lesson in trusting His plan, not ours. He truly does know what is best, and will handle things how they should be.

This weekend, I am thankful. For so very many things. Even through trying times, the Lord blesses us, and I am just so thankful for His love and care. We're going to make it through this, and I think we will all be better for it.

Bible in 90 Days: Check in 10

I am almost to the finish line! There have been several times during the last few weeks when my Dad has been in the hospital that I have been behind, but God has always provided a time to catch up. Sometimes it has been hard to use that extra time for reading instead of sleeping or just vegging on the couch, but the blessings I have received from reading have helped to keep me focused.

Today, I just finished Day 83, in 2 Corinthians and Galatians. On Thursday evening, I really felt God calling me to push ahead in my reading this weekend. I have been reading 2-3 days worth every day since. My goal is to read Days 84 and 85 today as well.

I love Paul's writings. I am learning SO.MUCH. I have been using my highlighter to mark down things that jump out at me while I read so I can go back and study them further later, and I have definitely used a lot of ink in these sections!

I am going to finish this week! I will write out more of my thoughts on what an amazing journey this has been when I do. This is the best thing I have ever done for my relationship with God. I sincerely encourage each of you to read the entire Bible, cover to cover, as well. God will work amazing things in your life when you do! To check out the Bible in 90 Days program, visit Amy at Mom's Toolbox.com

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bible in 90 Days: Check in 7 and LOTS of other stuff

This has been one of the worst weeks of my life. Truly.

My Dad had an open heart procedure done on Tuesday morning. It was done to help correct problems he has had with atrial fib (when your heart gets out of rhythm) since he was 27. The procedure went fine, and the surgeon was just counting instruments before they closed all the incisions when my Dad had a massive heart attack on the operating table. It took the doctor a minute to figure out what was going on, but while he was trying to work through possibilities, he shocked my Dad's heart to try and restart it. Nothing. He tried massaging the heart with his hands. Nothing. So they put him on a heart lung machine, and did an emergency double bypass surgery. Unfortunately, since he didn't have time to discover where the blockage was located, he had to guess while performing the bypass. That night, we were SO THANKFUL that he was still alive. A nurse called my sister from the hospital right after the heart attack to tell her to get to the hospital right away because our dad wasn't going to make it. The doctor didn't think he would make it through the surgery. I felt so bad for my sister that she had to pass that message on to the rest of our siblings. My Mom was in such shock in the waiting room, she couldn't make the call herself.

The bypass only treated one of the two blockages my Dad had, so that first night he struggled mightily to keep his blood pressure up, and his heart still had to work so hard. They couldn't sedate him or give him much pain meds that night because it would make his blood pressure fall further, so he was aware. He had a vent in, so couldn't communicate with his voice, but at about 2:00 in the morning, my Mom figure out he was writing letters on his bed sheet trying to communicate with us. He spelled out HOT, THIRSTY, and also I WAS AWAKE. "What do you mean you were awake?" my Mom asked. "During surgery?" He spelled out SHOCK. We figured out he was aware of it when the tried to defibrillate his heart with the shock paddles. My Mom asked him if it hurt. He shook his head no. When we have told medical professionals about this, they are amazed. It would/should not have been possible for him to be aware of anything then between sedation and having no blood pressure and low oxygen. We are pretty sure he had a near death experience, especially since he did not feel pain when they shocked him.

The surgeon discovered the next day that another blockage was still making his heart work too hard, so they did an immediate angioplasty and put in a stint. Thankfully that took care of the blockage. His heart was so shocked after everything though, his blood pressure was still low, so they put him on a machine new to the US called an Impella machine to help his heart beat. He was the first patient in the hospital to ever use it! He also had a balloon pump located under the heart to help it pump.

As of today, he still has the vent, and the balloon pump, and he has been sedated since Wednesday morning. He has a temp this morning, so they are checking to see where/what kind of infection may be forming. His kidneys aren't quite up to par either, so they are keeping a close eye on that as well. We have been praying incessantly for the past 5 days. I have truly felt God's presence in every moment.

Needless to say my Bible reading got off track for a few days during all of this, but with the exception of today's reading, I am all caught up. I am reading Jeremiah, which has not been terribly comforting. To be honest, I really struggle with the Old Testament. It is hard to see the loving God I feel everyday with the God who was constantly wiping out the Israelites. I wish I was reading the New Testament through all of this trial in our lives. I am going to keep on track as much as I can this week.

Please pray for my Dad.

You can read more about the Bible in 90 Days program by visiting Mom's Toolbox.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Bible in 90 Days: Check in 6

Thank you to all who said a prayer for me last week that a new TA be hired for my classroom! God was listening, and has blessed my room with a TA who has been a teacher for 40 years, 23 of them in 1st grade! I can't wait to get to know her.

I am still on track with my reading. I am reading Day 52 today. Over the summer, I read the Bible in the mornings. Since I am back to work today, I will be switching to a evening, after the kids are in bed reading time. I am going to miss starting my day off with God time, but I just can't pry my eyes open any earlier than 5:30, which is my school day wake up time. This is going to be the critical week for me! I feel that if I can make it through this first week back at work and stay current on my reading, I will be able to finish the program on track! Only 36 more days to go, and I know I can do this for a month.

The New Testament is coming up in less than 200 pages, and I can't wait! Please visit Amy at Mom's Toolbox if you would like to learn more about the Bible in 90 Days program.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Bible in 90 Days: Check in 5

I am still up to date in my reading this week. I just finished Day 45 today, which means that I am now half way through the Bible. I am so proud to have made it this far!

With the news last week about not having a TA to start the school year with, I am really nervous about my reading once school starts. My work load has doubled, and most of that will be taking place at home. We shall see how everything works out! Please pray that God sends a wonderful TA to my classroom this year.

Today I finished Psalms. I loved reading this book, and it was amazing to me to discover how many songs we sing at church that take their lyrics directly from the Bible. There is so much wisdom packed into the pages of Psalms it was a little easy to get bogged down in the reading. I had to try not to ponder every line too hard, or my reading took forever!

I am really looking forward to reading Proverbs next! As always, you can check out Amy's blog at Mom's Toolbox for more information on the Bible in 90 Days program.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Pine Beach

In July we drove up to northern Minnesota to Lake Belle Taine. This is our family's favorite vacation spot. We stay at a family lake resort called Pine Beach. I am so lucky that my kids feel the way that I do about sun, sand, and water. These are the only things we need on vacation to have a wonderful time!

We stayed in this cute yellow cabin...



My parents, brother, and aunt rented the cabin next door to us. The boys all loved running back and forth from Grandma and Poppo's cabin, and having the freedom to get a treat and a hug from them whenever they wanted. You can see in the picture that the beach and the lake are literally right outside the cabin, just off the deck. This makes the deck an amazing place to drink your morning coffee, read the Bible, and appreciate the beauty God created for us...



I loved it in the morning when the water was as still as glass, there were beautiful colors reflected from the sunrise, and a cool mist was hanging over the lake. It was breath taking.

We spent every second possible in the water swimming. The swim lessons Charlie and Sammy took every day for a month before we left were so worthwhile. They were like fishes.



When we weren't swimming, we were lounging in the warm sunshine on the beach. The weather in Minnesota in the summer is perfect. It never got above 83, and there was no humidity. Ever. This is so different from Omaha!



The resort also offers lots of other activities. Sammy and Charlie loved the playhouse, feeding the goats that wander the resort, and the swingset. My Dad and I loved having some fierce shuffle board competitions in the evenings after dinner.







Evan loved the fishing. He is the only one in our family who enjoys this, so often he fished off the dock. My Dad took him in the boat a couple of times, and ended up having to get the fish Evan caught off the hook, which is another notch for him in his quest for most awesome Grandpa award. My Dad is a great lover of fish, and it pains him to trap and kill them.

I am in love with this picture of Evan. I had it enlarged to a 16x20, and I am going to hang it somewhere in the house. So peaceful and innocent.



My Dad took the boat out almost everyday. I love this picture of him...



My Dad? He is the best. I love him to pieces.

And with beauty like this...



Is it any wonder that we are already planning our trip for next year? I am already counting the days until I am back, relaxing on this beach.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sadness

I am filled with sadness and worry this morning.

For the past seven years, I have been ever so blessed to teach with one of my dearest friends, Linda my Teacher's Assistant. She filled my day with camaraderie and humor, patience and love. She made coming to work each day something to look forward to.

Linda called me this morning to tell me that she will not be returning to school this year. Her mother is very ill, and Linda will now be caring for her Mom and her mentally challenged brother. I feel so awful for Linda, who has a tough road ahead. I am praying hard for Linda and her family. I wish there was something I could do to make this time easier for her.

Change and I? We're not good friends. Knowing change is on the horizon sends me into a worried tizzy. I hate this about myself. I wish I were better about meeting new challenges and changes like an adventure, excited for what lies ahead. I am filled with knots when I think about teaching this year without my friend at my side.

I am going to do my best and turn this worry over to God. I know that His plans are always better than mine, and I need to remind myself of this. What the Lord has planned for both Linda and I on our now divergent paths is better than anything I could ever dream up. I am going to shoot for a positive outlook on this.

Still, I am going to miss Linda so very, very much. My heart aches for her.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bible in 90 Days: Check in 4

I am still on track in my Bible reading! I still haven't missed a day, and I am happy that I will pass the half way point before returning to work. I am saving my two grace days for when I am back to teaching, as I am nervous how my work schedule will affect my reading. So far, so good though.

Today I will be completing Day 38. I am in the middle of the Book of Job. Job has been an interesting read. It's a bit depressing, and this may not be politically correct to say, but I see poor Job as a bit of a whiner. I know he was in a terrible situation, and a lot of pain, and maybe that made it hard for him to see what God had in mind for him. It is reminding me of a friend I know, who recently gave birth to a stillborn baby. Though she is enduring great emotional pain, and is probably every bit as miserable as Job was, she is holding tight to her faith. She sees God in so many moments throughout her day. Instead of moaning and groaning about what has happened to her, she is praising God. I can't stop thinking about her and her faith as I read one of Job's speeches. I am hoping at the end, Job will find the same grace and clarity my friend has.

I am loving Amy's reflections on our daily readings. She is so good at getting meaning out of the verses, and relating it to her own daily life. I am not doing very well at this. Because it is all new to me in many sections, I am only able to read for the overall story. I am hoping to do a second read of the entire Bible when I am done. Hopefully the second time around I will be able to dig a little deeper.

You can read more about the Bible in 90 Days program here!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

5 Years

5 years ago today, I married the love of my life.



Five years! I just can't believe it has been that long. I am still in awe that we found each other, and that God has blessed us with this time together. Marriage is not easy, but Jeff makes it all worth it.

And even though these five years have sped by, it has been long enough to create this...


Taken outside our cabin on our recent lake trip

The family I always wanted. From the time I was very young, I knew that God wanted me to be a wife, a mom, and a teacher. I felt these callings deep down in my heart, and I spent a lot of time dreaming about them. And now that I have these people to love and call my own? Awesome. I am so, SO blessed!

Happy Anniversary Jeff! I love you more than you will ever know. Thank you for walking through life with me!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bible in 90 Days: Check in 3

We're back from vacation! It was an awesome, relaxing week filled with sun, sand, family bonding, swims, and....Bible reading! I was a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to keep up with the reading schedule while we were away, but it turned out to be my most prayerful reading time yet. It was so nice to take my Bible out to the deck, drink my morning coffee, look at the beauty of the lake, and spend time with God.

As a result, I am still current on my reading, and today will read day 31. I am going to finish 1 Chronicles today. This book has by far been the most challenging for me to stick with. The list of names that goes on and on is confusing, and to tell the truth, not as exciting as the previous parts of the Old Testament I have read. The overwhelming thing I have noticed is the early Israelite's intense need to record genealogy. I wish I knew why this why important to them in a cultural context.

Nonetheless, long lists of names or not, I am going to keep reading! I was excited yesterday to note that I am a third of the way through my goal! It's been a great experience so far, and I can't wait to see what lies ahead.

Don't forget to check in here if you would like to learn more about this program-I highly recommend it!

Vacation pictures are coming soon!

Friday, July 09, 2010

And...We're Off!!

I have spent the last two days washing load after load of laundry, packing, sorting, and collecting items from all over the house. When I was finished, I looked at the mountainous pile sitting next to the front door and sighed. It was going to be no easy task to fit all this crap into the car.

It was like playing a giant game of Tetris, but our van is now loaded. To the brim, but loaded. Evan will just barely be able to stuff himself into the backseat, but I don't think we'll have to resort to tying any of the children to the luggage rack.

The new GPS system is installed and waiting to direct us to the Pine Beach resort in Nevis, Minnesota. And the kids? They are beyond excited. We are anxiously awaiting seven days of lakeside living. We have many sand castles, afternoon swims, nighttime games of Kings in the Corner, and boat rides planned. I can't wait to unplug with my family at one of my favorite places on Earth.

See you next week! We are off to relax, and enjoy each other!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Lovely Birthday

I am having the nicest of birthdays! I have been overwhelmed with the number of "Happy Birthday" messages and phone calls I have received today. I am feeling loved, and what is better than that?

I was folding laundry when the UPS man rang my doorbell. Is there anything more exciting than when that lovely package man rings your doorbell on your birthday and you know you didn't order anything? I got a tingly feeling, as I just knew it was a present! And what a deliciously wonderful present it was! My TA at school, Linda, sent me the most beautiful framed picture. It has our last name in large beautiful letters, and behind it are the names of all of our family members. It is so gorgeous, and it is already hanging above our fire place. One of the very best parts of coming to work at my school was getting to meet this woman who has become one of my very best friends. I am SO SO lucky to spend all day at work with one of my favorite people!

Evan is feeling under the weather today with a stomach ache, which isn't good, but it does mean I don't have to sweat it out at a swim meet tonight, and instead I can enjoy a yummy birthday dinner and some cake. I am thinking of frying up some chicken, y'all. Everyone knows you can't gain weight on your birthday, right?

Not having to go to swim practice this morning also means I am getting a head start on the laundry and the packing that I need to accomplish before I load my four handsome guys into the car on Saturday morning for our road trip to Minnesota. All in all, it's been the best of days.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Birthday

It's my birthday tomorrow. I can't figure out why, but I am feeling so anxious right now. I think some of it has to do with the fact that I am going to be 33 tomorrow. Can you believe that?! Thirty three!!! 33 is firmly entrenched in middle age. UGH. You might even say I am in my mid 30s. Double ugh. I still feel 18.

While we were packing up my parents house a couple of weeks ago, we were looking at picture albums of my siblings and I when we were little. My dad pointed out that I am now older than he was in many of the early pictures. Yeesh!! How in the world does that happen? Only yesterday I was graduating from high school. Except it turns out that yesterday is really 15 years ago.

I think the other thing bothering me is that I am wanting the calendar to sloooooow down. I am so enjoying my kids this summer. I have no desire to go back to school. I love being with my family all day. I sure wish I could find a million dollars between now and August.

At any rate, I am going to try and focus on the positive tomorrow. I am going to enjoy a morning run. I am going to marvel at my two youngest children who have gone from non swimmers to swimming 50 meter laps in only three and a half weeks of daily swim lessons. I am going to take a nap and snuggle with my Sammy. I am going to watch Evan speed through the water in his last swim meet of the summer. And I am going to buy myself a birthday cake and have my boys help me blow out the candles.

Although I can't believe I am 33, I am so thankful for every second I have had to celebrate life. I am so thankful for my many blessings.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Reading the Bible in 90 Days: First Check In

Today, Amy at Mom's Toolbox, the online leader of my Bible in 90 Days reading group, has asked each of us to do a quick introduction of ourselves, and update in the progress of our reading. So, for those of you who are regular readers, or who know me in real life, I hope you don't mind a "reintroduction" to Christy.

I am 32, (soon to be 33 in two days) and the mother of three active, energetic boys. My oldest Evan, is 11. Charlie and Sammy are Irish twins who were born 10 months and 10 days apart. Charlie is 4, and Sammy is 3. Needless to say, they all keep me on my toes. I have been married to my best friend Jeff for 5 years this month. I consider it the greatest honor and joy of my life to be wife and mother to these 4 incredible boys.

I decided to read the Bible in 90 Days because I feel very unfamiliar with large sections of scripture. I have been raised in the Catholic church, and while we hear three different scripture passages at every church service, I don't feel like there was very much emphasis placed on reading, memorizing, or understanding the Bible. I know the highlights of the old testament, like Noah and Moses, but that's it. I am so excited to know scripture in detail, and in a more personal manner. I am excited to read quickly so that I can get a historical perspective.

Although today is the official start date, I am already on Day 17 of my reading. I ordered the Bible in 90 days Bible to use, as it's in large print and contains less foot notes to distract from reading. (It is not an abridged version). When it arrived in the mail, I was so excited, I just couldn't wait to start! I am currently through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. I already know so much more than when I started, I am absolutely amazed. I am also coming up with lots of questions, and I am excited to share these with the online reading group.

This has been an amazing experience already, and I can't wait to see what comes next! Thanks for listening to my journey! You can click here to read Amy's post today.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Another New Project...

On Sunday night on Twitter, I learned about a great program called Couch to 5K. It is an amazing program that uses interval training to take you from being a couch potato to being able to run a 5K in just 9 weeks.

I just started back up at the gym last week, trying to run myself into a more healthy weight. I did okay, but I think I started into things too quickly. After running my knees and ankles hurt, and the next morning after a workout was filled with stiffness and pain. This program couldn't have come at a better time for me!

It utilizes periods of running/walking to help you work up to running a full 3 miles without stopping. I started with Week 2, since I had been running last week. Week 2 features 90 seconds of running alternating with periods of walking. It was the perfect pace for me. I never thought I couldn't do it, and afterwards....there was no pain! That is huge for me, as the aftereffects are often what stop me from running. I downloaded the Podrunners podcast featured on the site, which was really helpful. It provides upbeat music and tones that help you know when to walk, when to run, and when to cool down.

If you would like to join and you are also a Twitter user, there is a group of us who are using the program together to offer support. Just tweet after your workout, and use the hashtag #runningtaters

I am off to the gym right now...can't wait for day 2!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Blogging Through the Bible in 90 Days

I am excited to be starting a new challenge this summer! Along with Amy at Mom's Toolbox, I will be reading the entire Bible in 90 days, beginning on July 5th.

I am nervous to begin. The Bible has always completely intimidated me. I find the language hard to decipher, and not always attention capturing. I have tried to do this before at various points in my life, and never succeeded.

I know that I need to however. I am so excited to use this opportunity to grow in my relationship with Jesus, and to better understand my faith! I also know that the support of the others in my group reading alongside me will inspire me to stick with it. The Bible we will be using has also been especially designed for the Bible in 90 Days program, and I think that will help as well...only 12 pages a day, with minimal foot notes to distract from the reading. I can just feel God asking me to do this, and to spend this time with Him.

I'd love to have you join me! If you would like to participate, click over to here and sign up. It's quick and easy, and provides lots of information to help you get started. Tell me if you decide to join, and we can support each other!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Day in the Life 6/11/10 at OneTrueMedia.com

My friend Christi did this about a year ago..and I love her great idea! I decided to try this out myself. Our day yesterday...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Home Made Laundry Soap Tutorial

I love to buy things in bulk when I can at Costco. It saves our family LOTS of money each month. By far our biggest expense at Costco was laundry soap. With four very dirty boys, we spent about $30 per month just on laundry detergent.

I started researching alternatives on the internet after I saw Michele Duggar on an episode of "19 Kids and Counting" making her own laundry soap. I was impressed to find that after making my own soap, I could do a load of laundry for about 3 cents a load, giving us a lot of savings!

It ended up being VERY easy to do. The whole process took me about 20 minutes. I have also been extremely impressed with how well it gets out stains. When I have tried other natural laundry detergents, I have been very disappointed with their stain fighting qualities, especially with wash cloths (did I mention dirty boys?!) and food stains.

The Recipe
This is a low sudsing soap, so it can be used in HE machines as well as regular washing machines. You will not see bubbles in the water, but that's okay! It's the ingredients that clean, not the bubbles!

1/3 bar of Fels Naptha soap
1/2 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax
1/2 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (this is NOT baking soda!)
Sweet Orange Essential Oil (optional, if you would like to add a little scent to your soap)
***Note: with the exception of the Essential Oil, these items should be available in the laundry aisle of your local super market. I chose to start with a starter kit from Lehmans.com, because it came with a grater, and a great 4 gallon bucket to store the detergent in.

First, grate your 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha soap using a vegetable grater.


Next, put the grated soap into a pan. Add 6 cups of water, and heat over medium heat until the soap melts. Stir constantly, and do not let the water come to a boil.


Add the washing soda and the borax to the melted soap. Stir until all is dissolved, and then remove from the heat. Be sure to use washing soda, not baking soda. Baking soda will not work. I also chose to add 3/4 cup of the borax, for an extra stain fighting boost.


Pour 4 cups of HOT water into a 4 gallon bucket (the bucket should have a lid). Add the soap mixture and stir well, then add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir again. After the mixture has cooled down, put the lid on the bucket and let it sit overnight.


The soap should turn into a gel overnight. It will look more like an "egg soup" consistency, rather than a traditional gel. At this point you can add essential oil if you would like your soap to be scented. I like Sweet Orange. I used 25 drops for this recipe.


One Batch of Soap will make approximately 2 gallons. Use 1/2 cup per load. The soap should be stirred or shaken before each use. I saved and rinsed out a used liquid detergent bottle, and I fill this up with soap from my bucket as needed. The bottle can easily be shaken before each use, and the cap is exactly a 1/2 cup, so it works perfectly. The recipe can be doubled if you would like, or your family uses a lot of laundry soap per month.

Happy Soap Making!!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

My Parent's Real Estate Nightmare

My parents own a multi level house. It was a great place to raise 4 kids, and it gave us lots of space to be together while also providing room for private quiet time. Now that my parents are nearing retirement age, they knew it was time to move on. Carrying laundry up from the basement and up three flights of stairs isn't easy for my Mom anymore, and we knew it wasn't the place they could spend their retirement.

In February, they started hunting for their new house. My dad asked me to help, and I went to probably 25 different houses with them. During the whole thing, we learned one thing. My Mom loves ranches. She loves smaller but beautiful spaces, and doesn't want a lot to have to clean and take care of. My Dad is the polar opposite. He hates ranches and likes an upper floor, with lots of space and a big basement.

It was looking like these differences in opinion was going to make it impossible for them to agree on anything. But that changed on Holy Saturday, April 3rd. On a whim, they went through a 1 1/2 story. It was love at first sight for both of them. Main floor laundry and master suite for my Mom, and an upper floor with huge basement for my Dad. I loved it too, and even more so, I loved we had FINALLY found the house after 6 weeks of looking. It really was their dream house. They put an offer in that day, and put their house on the market the next week.

My Dad then spent 6 long weeks biting his nails and waiting for their current house to sell. The housing market in Omaha, like much of the country, is not good. It was a hard wait, and Mom and Dad began steeling themselves for the probability that the house wouldn't sell, and that they would be staying put.

Last Sunday, they finally got an offer on their house. My parents were ecstatic and spent the next three days making happy plans. On Tuesday afternoon everything took a turn for the worse when the sellers of the house they were buying backed out, despite a signed contract. It meant that my parents were going to loose about $7500 when you combine the money they spent on the inspection and appraisal, and the home tax credit they would now be loosing. After a day spent Wednesday trying to coerce the sellers into honoring their legal agreement, my Dad decided that they would sue the lady for damages, (his real estate agent is suing her for his loss of commission) and try to find a new house. The buyers of their house agreed to wait until Friday afternoon for a final answer from my parents, which left us with Thursday evening and Friday morning to find a new house.

I knew it would be hard because my Dad had been so in love with the first house. I knew it would be hard too, because of the time crunch and the low availability of houses on the market. Even harder? My Dad couldn't get the day off of work on Friday, which left my Mom and me to make a quick decision on our own.

We found a house that was pretty good Friday morning. It had some of the features my Mom liked, and some that my Dad liked. It was by far the best choice of the houses we had seen over the last two days. When we called my Dad to tell him about it though, I told him he would be okay with it, but he wouldn't love it. He told my Mom to go ahead and buy it. So we did.

It's new construction, so that's really nice. The problem is that it is a ranch, and it is smaller than my Dad wanted. I knew it would make my Mom super happy, and my Dad wouldn't be crazy about it, but we only had 5 hours to find a place to move, or loose their only offer on their house. A horrible decision to make.

After the paper signing, my Mom was happy. She likes the house and the location. When my Dad saw it that night, he was depressed. He doesn't like the location, and he doesn't like the layout.

Me? I haven't been able to sleep since. If there is anyone in my life that I need to have respect and approval from, it is my Dad. He is one of the most important people in my life, and I always want to be able to have his approval. It makes me sick that he might think I made a bad choice for him. Maybe he sent me to balance out my Mom, since I knew what he liked and didn't like. If we had had more time, I would not have picked this house for him, but under the circumstances, I didn't know what else to do.

Dad is out of town this week, so the worst part is I haven't even gotten to talk to him about it. Looks like I am not going to be sleeping for awhile.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Charlie is a Soccer Star

This spring provided Charlie with his first team sports experience. He played micro soccer for Gretna Soccer. It was a much better experience than we had with the YMCA soccer teams, and we are excited to have both Charlie and Sammy involved in the fall season.



Isn't he adorable? The hard thing about the whole experience was that our family's true sports fanatic, Sammy, was too young to play and had to watch the action. I bought him a pair of cleats so he could feel special too, and he kicked around a ball on an empty field near the game. He is beyond excited to join Charlie in August.

Charlie had good games and bad games, and one time got hit in the stomach so hard with a ball that he passed out, but all in all, he is loving the game of soccer, and I am loving that I am back to being a soccer mom.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Date With Dad

When I was in high school, every couple of weeks or so my Dad would take me out for a "Coke Date". Nothing fancy...we would just go to a nearby restaurant and order cokes, maybe some onion rings, and just talk. Just us together. When I was navigating the rocky waters of being a teenage girl (TORTURE I tell you-to be a teenage girl) this was one of the things that kept me grounded. They will always be one of my best memories of my Dad, who is truly one of the best guys I know.

Nowadays, we don't get to have our Coke dates, but whenever I get to have some Daddy/Daughter time with Dad, and it is just us, I love it. A couple of weeks ago, I got the chance to do just that.

Do you know the amazing Garrison Keillor? I grew up listening to his radio show and TV show "A Prairie Home Companion" with my parents. I love his storytelling, but I also love his voice. It is like warm honey, and OH so relaxing. When I was in labor with Evan, I listened to his voice telling calming stories to relax me through each contraction. When I was ready to give in to an anxiety attack after Sam was born, I walked around with my Garrison's voice coming through my iPod to help soothe my nerves. Right before Easter, I discovered that Garrison would be coming to Omaha, and that I might have the chance to see him in person! I immediately grabbed up two tickets, and then invited my Dad to join me.

It was a great evening. It was my first time to visit the Holland Performing Arts center in downtown Omaha, and it was beautiful. Seeing Garrison in person, hearing that honey smooth voice in person was amazing. But spending an evening with my Dad? That? Was priceless.

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