Tuesday, December 17, 2013

an early gift

Here's the thing.  I have always loved animals for as long as I can remember.  However, as our family has changed & grown (& grown), having pets was not on my list of priorities or desires.  Three years ago, my husband & children horn-swoggled me into adding a puppy to the mix.  Ella entered our family right after K'Tyo came home & right before Kendi came along.  I'm pretty sure I was out of my mind, but truly, Ella is the best dog!!
Kameryn has also had a very big heart for animals, & last Christmas she begged to get a black pug from one of Kade's classmates.  She pled her case with the argument that she'd be living at home while attending college, so it would ease the pain of not having the full campus-life experience (eye roll).  Let's just say that Joe is not very good at saying no.  So Daisy is part of our family for the next few years until Kameryn graduates.
Anyway, a few months back, Kearsten moved into her own place in SC where she is teaching & decided she was ready to have a dog.  She found an awesome dog through a rescue.  His story is so sad, but he is the happiest guy.  For some reason, this just really struck a chord with me.  I was inspired to start looking at rescue dogs.  Joe pretty much thought I had gone mad, especially after we had a bad experience a couple years ago with someone not being honest about a dog's disposition with children & other animals.  I guess in every bad thing there is good b/c I learned that you need to ask way more questions & trust your instincts about the dynamics of your family combined with the personality/needs of the dog.  We met some awesome people involved in rescue & met a couple of sweet dogs, too, but one didn't do real well when he met the little ones & the other didn't think much of Ella.  About 2 weeks ago, we connected with a family that needed to find a new home for their boxer.  When we saw a picture of him, I about fell out of my chair.  He was sitting with another boxer & a pug!  He also has the same coloring as Ella (reverse brindle, which looks black & white).  He's also only 9 months old, but bigger than Ella.  We agreed to meet since we would be in the same city due to an appointment with one of Kemeri's specialists.  What a day that was!  Kemeri's appointment went way over, & then when we got outside, we discovered it had been snowing.  A lot.  We went ahead & made our way to meet "Gus".  Honestly, we almost said no.  When he was brought outside, he was freaking out.  It was like he knew something was up, & he was obviously attached to his owner.  Maybe that's why we ultimately agreed to give it a try?  I don't know, but we agreed to take him home & somehow convinced him to get in the van.
He insisted on sitting between the car seats, which was fine with the girls (especially Kemeri).
Kemeri seemed to know that he needed some reassurance & TLC.
And the rest is history.  Within a day, he acted like he's always known Ella, the kids, & us!
He also thinks his 55-60ish pound self is a lap dog.
And he rides in the front seat to drive the kids around like it's his job.
And he even decided just now that he ought to share the chair with me while blogging.
Gus, Gus-Bus, Gusters, Augustus...We're glad he found us & that we found him! <3 p="">

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

trees & memories

November of 2012, I attempted to do a thankful post every day.  November of 2013 saw but one post.  It wasn't because I wasn't thankful.  I am thankful for a whole lot.  I found myself in a very introspective frame of mind with little motivation to put it to words.  We did make a trip to SC to visit Kearsten for Thanksgiving.  It was a short, but much needed, trip to hug my girl.
At any rate, have I ever mentioned that I truly enjoy decorating for Christmas?  It makes me feel like we are getting the house ready to celebrate Jesus' birthday in a way we don't fancy it up any other time of the year.  Before we left for SC, I got everything done except for the live tree we always go out & get together at the tree farm.  This last weekend's weather threw us a curve ball.  It was awfully cold for the littler people in our household, so for the first time in as many years as I can remember, we did not go with all the kids in tow.  Kam & Kade stayed home with the little ones & Kyler offered to go along.
Honestly, I got all blubbery at the tree farm.  It felt funny, I have already been struggling with the changes that have taken place this last year (read: 2 have flown the nest & I don't like it), & I have just been overly emotional anyway.  Since it was so cold, we opted to pick a pre-cut tree instead of taking the wagon out to the field.  We decided to tell Kyler it was his pick.  He picked what looked to be a pretty good-sized tree (ok, he has his mother's affinity for the wide trees!), so we had it wrapped in the netting & headed out to the van.  This is where the whole day turned around for me.
The tree was wayyyy bigger than we thought, & there was no way it was sliding in through the back to rest on top of the seats like we planned.  After some time, we came up with the ridiculous brilliant idea to put the tree in through the sliding door on the side & let it hang out for the ride home.  Total genious!  Kyler & I sat on the 2nd bench to hold onto the tree so it didn't jump ship on the busy road home.  Kyler was sure we would be remembering the year he lost a tree on Rt 42, but we made it! Our hands & faces were frozen (it was windy & snowing the whole way home), but I was laughing so hard that my tears were no longer sad ones!  New, crazy memories are okay. :o)
Is that not an ridiculously obnoxious sight!? 
Even more obnoxious is the amount of space it takes up in our living room, & I LOVE IT!
The kids enjoyed decorating, but the lower branches became a bit heavy.
We have 2 other trees on the main floor of the house.  This next one is in the kitchen.  It is so special to me because I decorate it with copper-colored cookie cutters & jello molds that my grandmother gave me many years ago. 
And this tree is & always will be my most favorite.  People often ask me for parenting advice, which I always feel ill-equipped to give, but here's something I strongly suggest:  Save those sweet ornaments your children make in Sunday School & school (or wherever).  They are treasures, & I enjoy unwrapping them every.single.Christmas.  Some of them are now 20 years old.  The kids even enjoy looking at them.
Through the love of family, traditions, making new memories, heirlooms given in love, & carefully crafted treasures made with love by the hands of my children, I am reminded of God's love & most precious gift of His Son at Christmas.

Friday, November 1, 2013

impromptu memories

Last night was supposed to be trick-or-treat in our community.  However, the wind & rain was so bad that the mayor opted to postpone it until Saturday, which really doesn't look much better weather-wise.  I took the girls (K'Tyo wasn't able to go) to the university for an indoor event.  While it was fun for some, the girls were a little freaked out by the creepy costumes that some of the kids wore overwhelmed.  And then I had a moment of genius....
I had already purchased candy to hand out for trick-or-treat.  I ran it over to my grandparents' house, they put it in a bowl, & we had our very own beggars' night in my grandparents' living room.  It was safe, it was dry, & there were no scary creatures to be found.  The girls loved taking turns getting handfuls of candy from Great Grandpa, & Grandma & Grandpa enjoyed seeing the princesses!
Then we headed over to Grandma Jan's house where the kids each got a special pumpkin cookie & candy that she had all ready for them.
Who knew that a very rainy, very windy night would prove to be one of the best Halloweens ever!?
And here are a few other fun moments from the week:
I love how Kaya & K'Tyo enjoy reading together!
The little girls & I got to do something fun...Our high school boys' cross country team made it to the state meet, which is a big deal!  Their bus was being escorted out of town this morning by the police & a fire truck, so we made up some signs to cheer them on along their route.
I don't know about you, but I can't believe it's November!  While I'm not one to wish time away, I must admit I am truly looking forward to spending time with family over the holidays!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

full crazy

They say when you run a half marathon, you're just half crazy.  I guess that means that I have now achieved full crazy status since running my first 26.2 this past Sunday!
About 2:00 on Saturday, I headed to Columbus with this crew to pick up our race packets at the expo, get dinner, & then check into the hotel.  It was good to be with familiar & new friends because it kept me somewhat distracted.  I only briefly felt like having a full-blown meltdown right about the time of this picture because I was running late due to misplaced headphones, so I was slightly freaking out.  We finally found some headphones that would work (thankfully since they were Kade's & he found them in a pocket of shorts that had already gone through the wash...good grief, they were in 10,000 knots, but they worked!).  Otherwise, it was a pretty good eve of the race aside from the fleeting moments where I would think, "Oh my gosh, I'm running a marathon tomorrow" & the butterflies would kick in yet again. 
I was awake at 4:30 a.m., even though the alarm was set for 5.  The temperature read 39 degrees, but feels like 35 degrees.  I began to second guess my race day outfit, but had no choice but to stay with the original plan of running in shorts because I didn't pack running tights anyway.  I'm glad I listened when the veterans suggested that you wear an old sweatshirt & gloves that you can toss as you get warmed up.  Very glad.  (And later I was glad that I was in shorts because the day was cool, but perfect running weather.)
Once downtown, I just tried to soak in the excitement & find a place shielded from the wind while waiting to enter my starting corral.  It was really something to be in the midst of so many people who were also waiting to reap the reward of so many months of training.
I'm glad I had a friend (Allison) to wait with in the corral.  Otherwise, I probably would have freaked some poor soul out with nervous chatter!
 By the time our corral had moved forward to be launched on this 26.2 mile journey, I was just ready.  I decided, though, that someone had a fairly twisted sense of humor when they decided that a good motivational song to send us off with was "Highway to Hell".  Not funny, peeps.
With the experience of 2 half marathons fairly fresh in my mind, I wanted to learn from some mistakes I made in those races.  One of the big ones was starting out too fast, which is so easy to do when your adrenaline is pumping.  I settled into what felt comfortable, & set out to do another thing different than in past races...ENJOY it!!  I have always been one to run alone, put the headset in, & zone, but thanks to new running friends, I have learned to take in my surroundings better.  I knew at some point I would need the headset, but I started without it.  I can honestly say that I absolutely, thoroughly enjoyed the first 15 or so miles of the race.  The course was beautiful, following city streets into beautiful neighborhoods, some of the motivational signs were hilarious, there were awesome fans all along the course as well as bands & DJs, & best of all, each mile had a child champion for inspiration, which is why I began this journey in the first place.
At Mile 15, I got to see my Child Champion inspiration, Kylie, as well as my husband, who has been such an encouragement. 


It was also awesome to hit that point because some of the new friends I met the day before had finished running the half marathon & hustled up to Mile 15 to cheer everyone running the full on.

I can't really pinpoint why, but about mile 18 I was feeling a little bitter.  I could feel my pace slowing down, my legs started feeling pretty tight, & I felt like we were going uphill for what seemed like forever (which was actually 2 miles).  I'm assuming that was my "hitting the wall", but by 20, I started digging into all the things people had been telling me:  Trust your training, run with heart, etc.  About mile 24, I remember suddenly feeling like, "Ok, I'm really doing this."  I knew Joe would be there waiting for me, which also spurred me on.  For whatever reason, Joe was waiting for me right about mile 26 instead of at the actual finish, which really helped me dig deep & turn that corner to finish up the final .2.

Once I rounded the corner & saw the words "FINISH" up ahead, I think my body just went into automatic.  Between the spectators cheering & the emotion welling up in me...there really just aren't words.

I finished in 5 hours 1 minute.  If I'm honest, that little bit over 5 drives me nuts because I had wanted to finish under 5 hours.  However, there are things I did that slowed me down that I would do all over again like high-fiving patient champions & their families, talking to some runners along the way, & really trying to enjoy the experience.  But I've already decided I want to run another one to get under 5. ;o)

Me with My #1 Fan

Thank you, Kylie, for inspiring me to have the courage to do something hard & wonderful.  Your life is a beautiful blessing!