Tuesday, December 28, 2010

that's what he said

B: Wow, making your bed is a really big job.

B: Mom, I'm ready for breakfast! (serious look) I decided to take a break from the sugar cereal. I just picked out the regular cereal.

B: Long sleeves and a tank top look cool. Short sleeves and a tank top (disdainful look), not cool.

B: Mom, I'm sorry that I just washed my hands. UGH! My head just goes crazy when I try to brush my teeth!

B: I am SO going to beat you with my soup!
A (absently): Mmhmm...

A: Oh! It's downright balmy out there - 40 degrees!
B: Is it perfect for a picnic?!

R (while putting together the Hess truck from the Teipe side of our family): These are...
A: Amazing?
R: Kind of the coolest thing in the world.

B: Ooh, there's a tiger on it! RAWR!

B: Smitty, will you please not disturb me when I'm resting?

R (talking to N): I'm going to give Mason and Smith a haircut today, then take them out for ice cream later.
B: Um, Reese, may I please have a haircut?

(I said yes, buzzed his long shaggy hair off, and then we all went to Baskin Robbins.)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Warning label? Yes, WARNING: prepare to be blessed."

It has been a difficult week. On Tuesday, I spent the work day preparing for Wednesday, as is usual. What was unusual was that Wednesday was December 22nd. I kept typing and seeing that date EVERYWHERE. It would have been the eighth anniversary for me and big Blake, and at first, though wistful about it, I wasn't overly bothered. Then I went to Blake's school Christmas program.

As I watched his father's MiniMe climb up on stage and wait to start singing, my eyes started to leak and I just wanted to talk to big Blake and tell him what he's missing out on. I looked at our son and wept for what both father and son do not know about the other. I believe that those who have died in Christ have some awareness of what's going on here, but I do not believe that big Blake is always with me. Actually, that would be creepy. Given the choice between face-time with the God of the universe and hover-time with me... well, it isn't really much of a choice at all.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King;
let every heart prepare Him room and Heaven and nature sing!
I pondered about it all day. He's missing out on so much. Does he know? Will he ever really get to fill in those blanks when we're all together in glory? And December 22nd. December 22nd. December 22nd.

I read this, wondering if anyone had posted anything since 2005. They had not. I kept catching myself crying quietly, being largely worthless at the job and hoping my office mate assumed I had a sniffly cold. I picked up Blake and told him how proud both his dads must be of him, but that sadly neither was able to attend the program, and I choked up and couldn't quite get it all out.

"Do you just think I cry all the time, Blake?"

Rob got home and let me sob all over him, squeezing my hand in understanding as I tried to explain this particular sorrow. My grief is taking new shape with a new man in my life. I do not miss big Blake so much for myself now - we would be strangers to each other at this point - I grieve for our boy and for the layers of complicated family tugs that I feel all the time, but especially keenly at Christmas.
Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ;
while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy!
My friends and family poured out love upon me via the magical medium of Facebook. I had posted about my aching heart and expressed gratitude for my RobRob for taking on all of this: this woman whose life should have come with a warning label. The title of this post comes from one friend's reply, which took me by surprise, for I rarely feel like a blessing to others... which is good! It's not about me.
He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove
the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love!
The next day contained a particular piece of bad news that I am not at liberty to share, but it did have the effect of co-opting my emotion on Tuesday in a wholly new direction. I decided Christmas had been ruined.

And yet... I love Christmas. I think I always have, but it holds so many meanings for me in so many areas of my life that I love it more each year. And each year it seems I am reminded that it is a minefield for me (and truthfully, for many). The blessings, however, will always outweigh the aches.
No more let sin and sorrow grow, nor thorns infest the ground.
He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found!
We had family pictures taken hours after I decided upon holiday ruination. These are my two favorites, and Christmas day itself was delightful. I am also seeing God work real miracles out in my heart, and the holiday was by no means ruined. It wasn't even marred.

Our Christmas card, which, by the time I send it out, will be more of a Valentine. And, just as I thought last year, "It can only get better from here."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

bedtime stories

A: (after tucking B in and leaving the room) I HEAR YOU BEEN TICKLING MY SON.
A: (claps hands very hard)
B: (from the bedroom, giggles hysterically)
A: (claps hands very hard)
B: (from the bedroom, giggles hysterically)
A: (quietly) We might be starting a bad habit, but his giggles melt my heart.

B: Dear Jesus, please help us to sell the condo and help Mom when she's in Hawaii so I can have a brother and a sister. Amen.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

even more grateful!

We had a great, great, GREAT day yesterday. Against my better judgment (driving so late, having fewer than 24 hours to stay, pulling B from school, skipping BSF), we all bundled into the car on Tuesday night after Rob got off work and drove to Billings. He had the opportunity to meet with some folks on Wednesday - his day off - and wanted to jump on it and wanted us to come along. So we did.

On Wednesday (yesterday), I got to spend a good chunk of easy-going time with family (Mom, Lane, Maddox, and Jetty), we all enjoyed some great Laotian food, and to cap it off, one of my closest friends and her husband had their son while we were in town. I got to meet Titus James within hours of his birth (didn't take pictures because my hands were full of BABY! the whole time I was in the hospital room), which was so special to me. I had wondered how it would work out when he was born, with Rob working so much and me aching to go to Billings to meet T and him aching to go too and unable to leave. God has said no to many of our requests lately, and I didn't even pray about this, but I joked to Molly that she was awfully kind and considerate, being over a week overdue and then progressing through labor SO quickly for me to be able to meet and hold her son before leaving town. It was a little bonus that I appreciated so much, God working out the timing perfectly.

While in the hospital room, we prayed over the family of a young man - a friend of theirs - who died recently in a car accident. The "how" and "why" of his death will likely never be known this side of heaven, but it was a privilege to lift up those who love and miss him before God. And while I have this song on CD by another artist, I hadn't watched this video (posted by Molly) until today.

A life taken, a life given, and God loves us through our joy and anger. He is not offended by our frustration at Him, and He loves us mightily with a love that is not made meaningless by Him wasting it saying "Oh, and I also love coffee. You and coffee. Man, that's gotta make you feel good."

How He Loves : A Song Story from john mark mcmillan on Vimeo.

My heart is so full.

Monday, December 6, 2010

grateful good times

Also in his Thanksgiving list, in this order: I am thankful for video games, feast (they had a "friendship feast" in their class), mice, my family.
We rated after mice, video games, and food.

At the car wash, with his color change car in hand.

Cleaning cars is a VERY SERIOUS BUSINESS.

I looked over and honestly thought there was a hedgehog on my feeder. Anyone know what this is? My guess is a young starling-type bird, which shouldn't be young this time of year. Weird.

Glammed up for a friend's 80s themed birthday party. I forgot how easy it is to achieve mall bangs! Rob was quite literally speechless when I emerged from getting ready. Mission: accomplished. I also led the karaoke charge with "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi, and during an instrumental riff, felt compelled to bang my head. I have been paying for it ever since, but I stand by my decision as it was the right thing to do.

Reese and I took the older boys to the Christmas Stroll downtown, which, as usual, was flippin' FREEZING. All the monkeys got to see Santa Claus, immediately identified the downtown tinsel trees as "spiders," warmed up by insisting on cocoa (also known as "coke-up") then refusing to drink most of it, roasted s'mores, and identified game mounts within the Powderhorn.

I LOVE our mantel this year, mostly because of the wreath ($25 and made locally!) and the footed bowl full of balls glass ornaments.

Sparkle and mellow. This nativity scene was a gift from a dear friend for my December wedding to big Blake. Little Blake loves the cartoon-like figures, they are sturdy enough for him to play without fear of breakage, and when he was two, Lane and I taught him the noises for the animals and the angel (an operatic monosyllabic AAAAAAAW!).

My big project. I decided in late November that I didn't want to buy another paper Advent calendar. First of all, by the time I start looking, all that are left are ones that open up to a Santa scene, which I hate. I realize that I cannot single-handedly change the focus of this season, but seriously, an Advent calendar that opens on Santa? SANTA?! It just shows a clear lack of knowledge about Advent, a season of expectant waiting and anticipation of Christ.

I decided I would buy a handmade one on Etsy. No luck there either. Then I decided I would make one, but not out of paper. This bad boy came together in a few short days, with the binding and hanging portions taking the most time, due to hand stitching. Next year I will plan a little further ahead and put together a themed item in each day (a friend has written a book to help instruct children on Advent, and each day has a meaningful token to go along with the Scripture). This year, I have a Hershey kiss in each one, accompanied by Bible verses that Blake and I go over first. I'm pretty stinkin' proud of it, Blake's excited about it, and I finally feel like I might be able to keep up with my awesomely sew-tastic friends!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

we were at mackenzie, in case that's not clear

D: What's this meat?
B: It's prosciutto.
D: Yeah, well, what's that then?
B: It's pork, not sure what cut, that's been sliced really thinly and cured by doing something and putting it in a closet or something for about six months.
D: Since when do you know so much about prosciutto without really knowing anything about prosciutto?
B: Well, I worked in a restaurant, so...
A: Um, at MacKenzie River. A pizza joint. THEY don't use prosciutto.
(silence across the table)
R: Addie, where do you think we ARE? Wow. (to the others) She's not the sharpest, but at least she's cute.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

that's what he said

B: Look at my belly! (pulling up his shirt) It's a little fat!
A: A very little.
B: Look! (patting it hard) It's a little jiggly!
A: Y-
B: Like yours!

B: (while watching The Neverending Story) Wow. He is REALLY enjoying that book.

A: What are you doing? (B keeps getting up during dinner and walking into the living room, then back to the table)
B: I'm tooting out my toots. I toot out my toots over there so I won't toot (waving his hands in little circles in front of him) in THIS area.

B: (running out from his room quite suddenly) Feliz Navidad!
A: Feliz Navidad! Where did you learn that? At school?
B: Nope! I changed Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to Spanish on my DVD player!

To be clear: he was watching movies in his room because we were both home sick, but I still had to work, so I brought in the portable player from the car. I get a ridiculous amount done while ending up feeling ridiculously guilty for relying on the one-eyed babysitter and rotting our son's brain.

A: Blake, do you want to try some sushi?
B: Yes, please. (eats a sliver of ahi sashimi)
R & A: What do you think?

B: Mom, I ate some ginger, and it made my hot stickers taste brand new!
R: It's hard to explain "cleansed your palate" to a five-year-old.

A: Because you're a child and you have no sense.
B: YEAH I DO! I have five senses: touching, hearing, smelling...
R: (under his breath) Busted.
B: ... tasting, and seeing!

cold hands, warm heart

In preparation for the bitter cold we have experienced over the last two weeks, I decided to try something new. When I first moved in, I made window blankets out of a thermal fabric to help insulate in the winter. They aren't a vapor barrier, but they kept the rooms a bit warmer than the alternative. They also make the entire condo an absolute cave of darkness to be effective in the daytime, and it was giving me the "Imma cut someone!" blues in the winter.

Based on a link Molly sent me, I taped up a layer of bubble wrap over the glass. I figured that the weatherization kits (a vapor barrier) would be swiftly popped by one of the two boys, ruining the entire thing, not to mention that we do not have a fully framed window to even USE them on. Bubble wrap, on the other hand, could handle a few exploratory poppings and possibly still keep some of the cold at bay while permitting light to shine through.

The window before.

The window after.

The window now, because it was FREAKING FREEZING in here!

I might move up to a heavier duty bubble wrap with lots more tape to get as close to vapor barrier as possible, but in the double digits below zero, ain't NOTHING gonna be warm. Except Rob... and he is mostly compliant when I warm my icy little fingies and toesies on him at night.

Seriously, the man sleeps so hot that I have taken to leaving our bedroom door open in the hopes that he'll warm the rest of the house a little bit. I am actually being literal here - that is what I do and why. Plus, it just gets too stuffy in there for me with my big manly space heater right by my side. I'm so glad we have a king-size bed so we can cuddle in Nebraska and rather abruptly break to our respective coasts when it's time to fall asleep.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

tumbling dice

M: What? Are you trying to POP it?!

N: You should just carry around a sippy cup.

K: The dummies are still waiting on the dummies.

A: You and me are like peas in a pod.

Did I say that out loud?

S: You gotta be discreet and just pop it out.


C: You didn't get any last time?
A: Nope.
C: Yeah... I didn't get any last night either.
A: Wait... what?

C: I like this song. Wait... do I?

Yeah. I think I like this song.

C: The nuts are all candied over here... THAT'S HOW I LIKE MY NUTS!!!

M: And then I heard, "Did he like the long nipple?"

that counts, right?

I saw this cute turkey cookie in the store and thought I'd give it a try. Isn't that so cute? This is out of the ordinary for me, because I'm very much a "from scratch" kind of girl. I save an insane number of calories every year because I cannot bring myself to eat store-bought cookies.

Then I make my own and it's all for naught as I trade in preservatives and artificial color for straight butter. Oh... butter. MMMMMMMMMM.

Also, I wanted to see how these things worked. If it was a roll I sliced, there was no way my turkeys would look as cute as that. So how was it done? I had to know.

Not quite so cute. Nor very appetizing. They are like wads of turkey dough.

Blake did not share my opinion and was eager to eat them raw if I would have let him.

Yes, I aimed them all the same way. I knew I was going to take a picture, for crying out loud! It is my flock of turkey wads.

Ah, the turkey sugar cookie! Blake thought they were delicious, I thought they were still cute but nondescript in flavor. I will not be buying them again.

Lane wanted more photos of what's going on in our life. It's hard to take a picture of "the condo's off the market because I was going nuts trying to keep it showable and I just want to set up a puzzle or scrapbooking table in the middle of everyone's way and leave it there for about six weeks." Also difficult to frame up and zoom in on "we're starting the Rob-adopting-Blake process in an act of faith that God will continue to provide for us financially despite losing Blake's not-insignificant Social Security income."

I paint WORD pictures, guys. Still figuring out how to take good photos. Besides, if a picture is worth a thousand words, this whole entire blog is worth about ten thousand pictures.

Friday, November 26, 2010

i didn't agree before, but i do now

lane wanted more pictures and less words... JUST YOU WAIT!

Remember when I took a few armed walks early this month? In between those super-exciting hikes, my friends and I went to the Natural Bridge, which I grew up clambering around on and camping near. Lindsey said her brother-in-law had found this awesome hole/cave that you could climb into and dangle your feet over the precipice and maybe I would find that fun?

Oh, Lindsey. If by "fun" you meant "a way to induce panic in a claustrophobe who is also frightened of heights and is a big baby in general," then YEAH! Good times! I looked down it and promptly threw up in my mouth a little, then graciously declined.

"HELL no. You guys can go without me. Have fun! I'll pick up your broken bodies downstream."

LOOK AT HOW SCARY THAT IS! She is so tough, I'm surprised that she didn't just dive in head first. Her head would probably have done more damage to the rocks than the other way around.

Okay, I suppose it is not that bad. But now I am all impressed with them and they are impressed with me, the one who managed to browbeat and/or guilt Lindsey into going hunting with us (haha! I mean hiking - which she's totally cool with) as well as shoot guns FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HER LIFE. Peer pressure: it's real.

I was not being helpful at pointing out which handholds to grab, instead opting to blind them with my flash as they tried to climb out. It was very romantic for them, I'm sure.

I don't think she shot this gun. I did and dropped the f-bomb because it kicked so hard (and I'm aiming at a clay pigeon that's about 10 yards out, lying on a stump... the ONLY way I'll aim at a clay pigeon, by the way). It's some sort of military grade shotgun that requires a certain degree of badassness to even pick it up. I'm not quite sure why I tried.

Also, I would like to note that those are Rob's jeans, which only stay up on me because of the wagon I'm draggin' and the fact that he has no butt worth speaking of (but hands off, it's MY non-butt!). That is my story and I am sticking to it. Also, I had a belt on. Blake thought my jeans looked "weird" that day, poking at the leg and saying "Mom, you have on wrong jeans. They are not sticking to your leg like normal."

Upon returning home, Rob and I prepared for a presentation given by BackpackingLight at a local gear shop (Northern Lights Trading Company). It was well-received by all except these two, who pretty much played with my iTouch the entire time, totally unimpressed by the Cuben Fiber tarp with ultralight trekking pole that sheltered them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

remember the wonders He has done and His miracles

I have been experiencing a lot of God's grace through remembering. I picture God bemused by my prayers that He would be with me at a given time, asking me "Where did you think I would go?" He's always with me, but it doesn't always feel that way. Or look that way. And I don't always act that way.

Reese deliberately structured her and Matt's wedding around remembrance as a means of experiencing God's grace by remembering what He had done for them. I have lately been surrounded - either accidentally or by my own design - by reminders of God's grace to me and to others. Remember. His faithfulness is demonstrated again and again in both my past and in pasts of others. Remember.

Remember this? And this? To recap for those who won't click through, dear friends of mine discovered at 20 weeks that their son could not survive outside the womb. They chose to induce labor so that they had the future option of possibly having another child (seriously, read those first two links - my synopsis doesn't do it justice), though they were by no means sure they wanted another child after this heartache.

J and I have talked often since then, about grief, about how it can unexpectedly drag you back into the ocean you thought you had escaped. We talked about our uteruses and our fears that pregnancy would cause our respective griefs to erupt in ways difficult to manage. And then we talked through her fifth and final pregnancy about God's faithfulness and healing.

Meet Naomi Rose. Her name means "beautiful, pleasant, delightful," she was born November 8, and she weighed 9 pounds 9 ounces.

I got to hold her and laugh with J shortly after Naomi was born. "It makes me so sad when people assume J2 and I are upset that she's not a boy. When I think 'What could be better than three girls?' I always answer it with 'FOUR girls!' Your dad probably understands - it takes a special guy to be a father so many daughters, but daughters are SO MUCH FUN. Not only can you go to the ballet and play with dolls, but they might grow up to introduce their husbands to hunting, right?!"

They are all thrilled, though clothing the not-so-little Naomi is a trick. All the other baby clothes and blankets have been commandeered for use on innumerable dolls. One adorable tiny top ended up as a belly shirt, so J's hoping I have a little (well, smaller than 9 lbs 9 oz) girl for her to pass it on to me.

The family of six, with a hook in Heaven to anticipate meeting and enjoying. Samuel would have been about 13 months old, and while he is not replaced, J is rejoicing that God answered her heart verse in such a tender, loving way:
Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife [Hannah] and say, "May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one [Samuel] she gave to the Lord." 1 Samuel 2:20

Friday, November 12, 2010

we studied ephesians 4:1-16

With Rob's blessing and encouragement, I broke one of our rules at the end of October and drove to Spokane without my fellas. Beth Moore was in town for a live event, and I got to go with Rob's mother, Joyce, and my friend Esther. I've only been in one Beth Moore study, but it was wonderful, and I own a few of her books.

Her relationship with Christ is enviable, and the way she speaks of Him fills me with longing. I want to love Jesus like that, enthusiastically and exuberantly. To be winsome in my faith and so full of love for Him that I cannot help but love others - what a goal!

I now want to do another study (Breaking Free, Esther, Believing God, Daniel, The Patriarchs, Jesus the One & Only are just a few), if only to have some joyfulness rub off on me, to immerse myself in a more charismatic way of learning than I currently have. Maybe after BSF is done this spring... but pulling together a bunch of women with busy schedules and children is a right joke and very difficult. I think it would be 100% worth it!

In an effort to reacquaint myself with a joyful Jesus, I've been listening to more praise and worship. Is it just me, or can it be hard to find really GOOD worship music? I usually quit listening because the quality of music/lyrics are just so poor I can't get past it and end up feeling like a douchebag for singing along. Any suggestions? Who do you love to listen to?

Monday, November 8, 2010

typhoid Mary

That is what I am. Between me and Blake, we've unwittingly exposed an entire kindergarten class and two families to impetigo and several good friends to strep.

He has impetigo. I have strep.

To the friends helping me try to fill my deer tag on public land Saturday, after a brutal hike: "Yes, you can have some of my water, but be warned I've had a wretched sore throat, so drink from the threads of the bottle and not the straw, which is what I use."

To the friends watching Blake while I was away: ____________

I didn't know! I thought he had the last vestiges of a cold, but was nothing to worry about. When he woke me up three times Saturday night (after a hunting trip that is best described as taking armed walks in the country) with a sore ear, I took him to Urgent Care on Sunday for a suspected ear infection. The doc was much more concerned with his crusty nose and advised me that my son is a public health risk for the first 24 hours after his first round of antibiotics, which, because of his sore ears and impetigo, are strong enough to combat STAPH, just in case.

I woke up with a throat that felt like I'd been swallowing knives for the fifth day running, and decided I had given up and would hope it was tonsillitis or something so that I could get antibiotics and start to feel better. The 800 mg of ibuprofen I've been taking regularly hasn't even TOUCHED the rawness in my throat, so I'm pretty miserable. The doc thought I had throat surgery in the not-distant past due to how inflamed everything is back there. Apparently the old throat looked like scar tissue.

It doesn't help that pretty much all the deer we saw Saturday thumbed their noses at us from private land, so I STILL haven't filled that darn tag, despite mulies being dumber than a box of rocks. They just stand there and look at you, and the inner monologue I imagine for them is "Hey! Whatcha doing? Ooh, that's a pretty shiny black thing. Are you taking my picture when you point it at me like that? Wha- OW! OW OW OW! That hurts! Why would you-" and then they die.

BUT, I have all the means to whip up a great white mocha here at the house, and I've recently discovered how to (easily) make challah, so there's a fresh loaf on the counter. Holla! We have Netflix streaming on our TV, Blake is chipper and playing in his room, and a friend is visiting at 1:00 with whatever my heart desires. I've started my first round of amoxicillin and am eagerly looking forward to my first Vicodin tonight, to help me sleep. Strep and impetigo are not the end of the world, but I've asked God that I would quickly learn whatever He's trying to teach me here, and if He could just put it down on paper, I'll be sure to read it later.

Friday, November 5, 2010

impossible cuteness and a pooping face

I cannot remember what I was cooking, but it was very steamy - probably spaghetti. Blake called me over to see his artwork and at first I thought "NO! I have to clean that!" and then I remembered that we took the condo off the market, so I cheered him on and asked for him to pose with his handiwork.

The pooping face. It's the fakest smile I've ever seen on the kid, so I'm hoping to have better luck on retake day! The photo of the photo doesn't look as bad as the original, so maybe you'll have to trust me!

A Halloween dinosaur/dragon!

Joel the monkey, Kale the dragon, and Mason and Smith, the hunters. Blake was a ninja (all black on Halloween with no glo-stick or reflective tape?! -10 points for Mom), but was finishing dinner and did not make this shot.

Our first trick or treat house. They came running down the steps to all the parents: "We just rang the bell and said 'Trick or treat' and they gave us CANDY! Can we go to another house?!" And from then on, it never ceased to amaze and surprise each one of them that all they needed to do was go to the houses with lights on, be cute, and come away with free candy.

You can barely see the ninja!
We got home and discovered a very very slightly loose tooth, leaving Blake breathlessly declaring to me, hands clenched into fists that trembled with the force of his words: "TODAY IS THE BEST DAY EVER!!!"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

pondering today

I've been a little crazy lately, in a way that's got me feeling like I've been violently shaken, and I cannot get my bearings nor effectively rate life's tasks in order of priority: blowing my nose is as urgent as putting out that grease fire in the corner. Everything's pressing, nothing's motivating.

In this whirl of reluctant consciousness (and overconsciousness - I did not fall asleep until after a tearful 1:00 am last night) where I cannot really put my finger on anything and I speak mostly in analogies, these have floated to the top recently:
  • A: "We'll see. I hate change. I'm not good at it and I cry the whole time." R: "You DON'T hate change. I'm going to refute that right now. You just cry the whole time until you get your feet under you. You EMBRACE change better than many people I know."
  • Resting at my work and working at my rest. I can spend a discouraging amount of time on fruitlessness.
  • Being married is bringing out facets of healing in my life that I didn't expect. It is hard, but Rob is wonderful - patient, understanding, and kind - oftentimes more so than those around me. I am trying to remember that the opinions I need to be most occupied with are God's, Rob's, and little Blake's. No one else has to understand (BUT I WANT THEM TO!), no one else has to be on the same page or agree with how Rob and I are walking out these new areas where I need healing and help (BUT I WANT THEM TO!). I alternate between wanting to tell others to take a long walk off a short pier and wanting to say "WAIT! Come back! I love you, I don't mean it, love me back and approve of everything I do."
  • I am trying to view God as the loving Father He is, one who gently takes my hand and calls me "honey" instead of "beloved daughter" (because no one I know talks like that). Any time I revel in my son and my love for him (even when he's naughty, but especially when we are enjoying one another because there are times I really get to just DELIGHT in this sweet boy!), I try to stop and remember that this is how God loves me. This emphasis can be difficult, however, when working through Isaiah in Bible study.
  • I really really love the people I get to work with, even when I want to take one's computer away just so that one can stop emailing me with new tasks. I have never felt so loved, appreciated, and meaningful at a job before.
  • That's all!
Also, because this may be too melancholy for some and make them wonder at where my heart is, perhaps you could pray Psalm 139 over me (that's what I'll be doing later) and trust for me that everything will be okay even when that is sometimes hard to see because my focus is so short-sighted and even when I use run-on sentences despite being a very picky editor.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

addie oakley rides again

We went hunting last weekend. By "we," I mean me, Rob, Lane, Bing, and my dad. By "hunting," I mean "there's a reason it's not called 'shooting' or 'killing.'" By last weekend, I mean last weekend. And it was one of the most frustrating three days of my life.

I soon discovered on Friday morning that while I'd made a big show of packing Rob's conservation license - "Because you'll probably lose it or forget, honey. I'm treating you like a child because I love you." - I had neglected to bring my own. Nor had I packed our antelope tags. After paying extra to get everything reprinted, we also each picked up a mule deer tag, because there's no such thing as too much protein. Rubbing my hands together greedily over the piles of steak, burger, sausage, jerky, and pepperstick ("We're gonna need a bigger freezer!"), we were off.

Our family (or just Dad) has been hunting at a ranch in Cohagen for 32 years. It has many many acres, and we have the benefit of a personal guide to lead us to "target rich environments."

Except that there was no game, or at least only a tiny fraction of the bounty that we've seen in the past. We quite literally could barely find anything to shoot, and the few antelope that were still there would start running as soon as they saw your truck stop... two or more miles away.

Mid-day on Friday, the Perrines and I got good and stuck in eastern Montana gumbo, mostly because I told Bing "It looks dry!" Up to the running boards of a big old Suburban in a mix of clay and bentonite, Bing managed to get hold of my dad and Rob, who had left Billings several hours after us.

"You're stuck? Shoot, I'm sorry. Wish I could help, but Rob and I are trying to change the flat tire we got on our way in. I don't even know where WE are! Good luck!"

Bing eventually managed to get the rig out, but thereafter noticed the transmission acting up. And that rusty muffler? By the end of the weekend, it had been so jarred by the action that it served more as a cowbell than anything else, clanging up against the back of the SUV as it held on by a bolt or two.

Rob got the first deer of the trip, a good-sized doe, late on Saturday night (this was after he emptied the gun in a fruitless frenzy to shoot the biggest buck ever seen on the ranch, but I digress). Bing brought down a buck on our last day (with a mere five hours until we had to leave, we were trying to fill eight more tags: five antelope and three deer). Lane and I lined up on a pair of bucks, and I managed to shoot the hind leg nearly off mine, rather than shoot cleanly through the heart as I had aimed. As Rob, Tom (the ranch manager), and I beat the sage brush tailing my mortally (but not imminently mortally) wounded deer, it hobbled over a ridgeline and vanished. We searched for over a mile and an hour, but it either died well-hidden or had taken a different direction than us, and we couldn't scare it up.

The last few hours involved a long and fruitless sneak on antelope dead set into running into the next county.
As we pulled into the yard to pack up, Bing told me he and Lane had spotted a group of doe mulies in the next section, very close and hopefully already accustomed to the cowbell. Eager to redeem my poor shot, I drew a bead on one and fired. You can tell by the sound when a shot is good, and it hit, but as we drew near, my doe leapt up about 15 feet from me and went running as fast as she could... on three legs. The leg I blew nearly off was flying around as she skittered away, dangling by little more than tendon.

"DAMMIT, you have GOT to be kidding me!" I hollered. We gave chase, and she crested a rise that led straight to the house. When we caught up, hoping to see her milling about on the flat or to flush her into a standing position so I could finish what I started, we couldn't find her. We searched for over an hour, but she had vanished, leaving me with the sick feeling of having two animals suffering and dying slowly by my hand, AND I DON'T EVEN GET TO EAT THEM.
I believe my shooting was a combination of a lack of practice and a bumped scope, because my dad will be the first to tell you that I'm an excellent shot (I'll tell you too, but I like it better when someone else goes first). Lane and Bing figured our inauspicious start was God protecting us from something by delaying us, but I'm thinking my personal hellish disappointment and frustration is all part of a bigger lesson:

Lesson #1: You can't always get what you want.
Lesson #2: Eat more beef.
Lesson #3: But chicken is good too.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

tickets are boughted

We are going to Hawaii! I'm so stinking excited I can barely contain myself, but seeing as it's nearly 11:30 and I'm quite tired, that mostly looks like me pumping my arms in the air repeatedly from a sitting position.

Rob has moved away from the frenzy.

We get a honey/babymoon! While I hope to not arrive in Hawaii pregnant, I certainly wouldn't mind leaving in that condition (apologies to the squeamish and/or my father)!

the dairy queen

Another reason I dislike shopping with a five-year-old:

I came home from the store and moved to put the two gallons of milk in the fridge, bent over, and saw the two gallons I had purchased yesterday.

Due to other obligations, there is physically NO WAY for us to consume this much 2%, and I despise frozen-then-thawed milk.

Anyone want a five-year-old?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

helena handbasket

Wrapping up my photo posts, I had to put one up of our latest Saturday/Sunday, which we spent with good friends. Well, they WERE just my good friends, but now they are OUR good friends. We corrupt people like that. Want to have us over?!

We all bundled up to Helena after Rob got home from work on Saturday. Chad and Lindsey Krywaruchka (they had a helpful pronunciation guide printed on their wedding programs back in the day, but you don't get one unless you click that link or read my side bar links) moved up there from Billings in order to plant a church and had invited us to stay in their spare room. Since Rob's been chafing at a limited schedule - well, it's not limited so long as he just wants to work - we figured it was an easy drive to see someplace new!

Linds had made a delicious carrot soup that included jalapenos, but apparently accidentally included one habanero, which she discovered after she itched her nose with a peppery finger. Chad's guffaws as he showed us the photo of her baking soda and milk nose plaster did not lend to a sense that he was overly compassionate, but it was awfully cute. And funny. And the soup was tasty, which surprised my carnivorous fella, who wants the recipe! I'll try to omit the habanero (or at least the chemical burn on my sniffer).

We joined them for Narrate Church in the morning, then went for a little walk to grab some breakfast. On the way up the street, I heard a goose honk, then saw a young woman run out from behind a big planter, with a spread-winged goose running after her. Alarmed for her safety, I called out "KICK IT!" just as Lindsey turned to tell us about this family that walked their pet goose on Sunday mornings.

"Oh my gosh. DON'T KICK IT! I'm so sorry! I was scared for you!" I backpedaled furiously as everyone but Blake (who had been oblivious to the goose) snickered helplessly and the family gave me the stink-eye.

I later told Blake he could chase off some pigeons, to which Rob hollered after him "Make sure they're not someone's pet first!"

The museum was closed, but they had this giant bison skull (which kind of freaked Blake out a little) and a teepee out front, as well as...

a fearsome bear and a cheerful ranger, or...

a fearsome bear, scandalized ranger, and scandalous hanger-on, or...

a very serious ranger. Only YOU can prevent forest fires, unless lightning got there first.

This is the best shot of our time on the carousel. We didn't get photo evidence of Chad trying to toss a ring to Blake and nearly sinking it down my shirt (Chad and Linds are on the left, Blake and I on the right in the cup-looking thing that I could barely twirl).

We drove and walked around, had a lot of tasty coffee, were pleasantly surprised at the cost of living and land, and just enjoyed time with our friends. Lindsey is a rare soul for whom meaningful and deep conversation seems to come easily, and Chad is remarkably productive for someone with the attention span of Dug. We had an understandably great time and can't wait to go back. Just gotta remember to bring Blake's allergy meds - he loves their kitty Lops and wants to rub Lops all over his face.

And I never once told him to kick the cat.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

the miscellany to catch up

The rare, strictly nocturnal (and clearly confused) long-eared owl. I think it may have been hunting at my bird feeder. I don't mind raptors doing this, but cats are another matter. In fact, this guy landed in a shrub over top of a dozing cat, and that kitty never looked so attentive. You could imagine what it was thinking as it woke up, "Ooh, sounds like lunch... HOLY SHIT, THAT THING IS HUGE! ...If I hold very very still, maybe it won't notice me and eat me."

Such a pretty momma! I got to go to Billings to meet the newest installment to our family. Despite being a 10 lb, 7 oz baby, Jetty was still a wee little munchkin bundle, perfectly dear but for his nasty toots.

Grammie with grandson #6. As a friend pointed out, my folks seem to appear younger and younger with the birth of each grandchild.

They were being cowboys, but Maddox tossed his hat off just before I snapped this, the stinker.

That sound you hear is just my ovaries throbbing. It's cool.

I got to take part in a Glow in the Dark golf tourney in September. Well, I got to walk around with the Vann's team. It was HUGELY fun, despite being asked about my Twitter account and then "innocently" queried about who was the nympho in our marriage. Rob gave me his hat from the event, and I get compliments on it every single time I wear it. In fact, Rob saw this photo, said, "That's cute! Which boyfriend is it for? Will you email that to me? Will you email it seconds from now please?"

I took the twins home after church one Sunday, where they enjoyed the fort Blake and I had built and all the toys that Blake's forgotten about but they love, and they took champion naps only to wake up laughing along with B to Shaun the Sheep. They were all rather hostile to the idea of a photo, and I think Blake's not so much smiling as he is baring his teeth in a show of aggression.

Monday, October 11, 2010

still hasn't lost its luster, but he doesn't like music class, sadly

By the time we got back to Bozeman after our week-long August vacation, Blake was fairly vibrating to get to school. He had a brief wait, as the kindergarteners start a few days later than the other students, so we had time to relax a little, visit a park, buy school supplies, and get one last day in at his preschool. I brought back my (actually big Blake's) old alarm clock from a spare room at my folks', and Rob set it up for 7:00 AM. We started practicing getting up early on Monday, and Blake bounded from bed like an over-eager puppy.

The day before school started, we had orientation. We met his teacher, student teacher, and a few of his classmates. The parents were shunted off to another room for paperwork, and I quietly freaked out a little bit while filling out forms. It came home loud and clear: another person/group/organization will have a great deal of influence over your child from here on out.

Parenthood, mothering in particular, is one long process of letting go. First you let go of them from your own body, then you let another hold them, then feed them, then care for them so that you can accomplish something else (work, dinner out, a movie, or a stiff drink). The periods of time you leave them with another grow longer... and longer... and one day they are school-age. Rob and I are confident in our decision to use the public school system - I know and love some excellent teachers, after all - but it is a daunting prospect. Not only is his delightful teacher instructing him in reading, writing, and 'rithmetic, but he'll learn other modes of communication, conflict resolution, play, and other value systems. I read the disclaimers and waivers about kids using computers in the classroom, and I was torn. I want Blake to understand and learn all kinds of things - many which I cannot teach him myself - even as I want to protect him from the hard or dangerous lessons.


I came back to the classroom to find Blake cheerfully exploring the little centers Mrs. S had created. She warmly told me they had toured the school, and that he seemed very confident and comfortable with the idea of being here. In fact, his first question after shaking her hand was "So, when do we learn about science?"

AHA! That is pure daddy Blake. Much of his personality can be aimed back at me - only natural, I suppose. Margie tells me that big Blake was enamored with tiny toys, MicroMachines in particular, and LEGOs as well, but this is the first really specific personality example I have of the big Blake I knew coming out in little Blake. It was comforting and alarming. Mrs. S will have to hustle to keep up with this one!

I parked and we got out, walking hand-in-hand to the blacktop in back of the school. He set his backpack down on the grass and took off at a dead run to the far side of the playground. I had to run after him to get a hug, and even then, he firmly instructed me to please not pick him up for said hug. I had half a mind to coat my mouth with lipstick and plant a few smooches on his forehead and cheeks in retaliation.

I came to get him up mid-way through his first day, as I had signed him up for half-days, and he was nearly in tears. He was sorely disappointed about not at least staying for lunch, so I told him he could be full-day starting tomorrow, but that he couldn't change his mind after that.
"Do I get to eat lunch here if I'm full-day?"
"You sure do. Whatever you like to eat."
"Oh YES! I would like a bologna sandwich please. They are delicious."

Wha? The kid's never had bologna. Also, when telling me all about school that day, his eyes got thoughtful as he said, "It's kind of weird that I have school at our church."

Oh, yeah. About that... not quite. See, our church meets in the gym of his school because we're still too poor/small to have a building of our own. Guess that explains his running pell-mell to the playground - he's known it well for over a year now!

Our first fund-raiser. He was permitted to call grandparents only, and he proceeded to raise $60 for improvements and additions to the school playground.

Everyone was given a tie-dyed handkerchief that was tied on them somewhere. I stripped off his sweatshirt and tied the bandanna round his forehead after he had run about two laps, because it was a warm, wonderful morning!

Steady as she goes! Everyone is running straight for me because I had a Sharpie in my hand to help tally laps for each child. The whole thing was so cute it hurt me. They ran around a 100-meter track for thirty minutes, and he got in thirty laps!