This summer has been especially tough on Casey after selling his boat.  He's always itching to get out fishing and some days I know it must nearly kill him not to be able to go.  Fortunately, he's been able to go out with his brother quite a few times.  Typically they fish 3-4 tournaments per summer, but this year in the spirit of saving some money they cut it down to just one tournament and put forth their very best efforts.

And it paid off!  They won 2nd Place in the bass division of the Trempealeau Catfish Days tournament yesterday.  They weighed in their limit of 6 fish with a total weight of 19.69 lbs.  I'm so proud of them, and it was fantastic to see the pride and happiness in their eyes.  Of course, the cash prize is always nice, but I think the bond these two brothers share in their love of fishing is the best reward.  It was fun to see them laughing and joking and entirely happy about their accomplishment. 

Congratulations, Casey and Chad.  I am SO proud of you both.


important reminders for the mama

I can't keep it all in my head anymore.  Work, bills, errands, soccer, gymnastics, preschool, playdates, grocery lists, what to make for dinner, who needs to be where at what time -- which is always followed by who needs to be picked up at what time...and everything else that's supposed to be stored at the ready somewhere in my head.  I try to be organized, I really do, but some things slip through the cracks now and again.

A couple months ago, during a particularly stressful week, I completely forgot about a lunch date with friends.  I was horrified!  I profusely apologized, and I think they forgave me.  Honestly I had no excuse.  I simply forgot.  Too much on my plate I guess.

Both kids have been doing a great job of keeping my on my toes, though.  I get reminders all the time about what I'm supposed to be doing.  Sometimes subtle, most of the time not so much.

The other day I had to make an important call during the day (which I try very hard not to do) and the kids (of course) took advantage of the situation by raiding my craft bins in the spare bedroom.  I kept watch for the most part but had to walk away a couple times because they were squealing and talking loudly and I didn't want to be rude to the person on the other end of the line.  At one point their chatter turned to yelling, and I finished up my phone call to get back to them.  Just then, Liam comes running full-bore out of the spare bedroom, carrying something I couldn't see but knew it was something electrical because of the tell-tale white power cord dragging behind as he made a bee line for an outlet.  I ran after him, but he made it to the outlet first, plugged in the cord as fast as his little hands could manage, and proceeded to insert the tip of a GLUE GUN into his ear!!!  Like it was an ear thermometer!  Talk about heart attack for the mama.  So...the golden reminder of this little "lesson" is:  Don't forget that Liam is TWO and must be supervised at all times.  And believe me, although I did laugh a little after I caught him in the act, I thought about what might have happened had I not caught him.  Those glue guns heat up in no time at all, and if he'd decided to try this little stunt in the bedroom only one minute before, the results could have been horrible.  This event also reminded me that I own a glue gun, which I had completely forgotten.  Note to self:  glue gun needs new storage location.  For now it's up on the highest shelf in the cupboard.

Another reminder this week of an item on my to-do list came from Quinn.  My early riser crept into our bedroom at the crack of 6 am as always, that day dressed in her pajama shirt along with a jean skirt.  I said, "Oh, you're wearing a skirt today?"  Her eyes widened and she sputtered, "MOM!  This was the ONLY pants left in my whole drawer!"  I pulled her close and laughed at her reference to any sort of bottoms as "pants", and also at the fact that the poor girl had no choice but to put on the skirt.  She pushed away from me..."Mom!  This is SERIOUS!  It was the ONLY pants LEFT!"  Reminder:  Unless I want a bare buns girl running around tomorrow, I better do some laundry today.

I'm pretty sure life will continue on this busy pace for awhile.  Meanwhile, I just keep trying to stay on top of it all. My honest feeling is that I can just be confident I'm doing the best that I can. I'm only human. And I am very thankful I've been blessed with two terrific children that keep me busy. Sometimes in the mundane tasks involved with taking care of the to-do list, it's easy to forget. Life without my kids would definitely be less hectic, but I can't imagine that life.


digital memories: not necessarily a bad thing after all.

I used to have more time and energy.  Some work girls and I would get together on a regular basis at least monthly to spend time doing what we love - scrapbooking.  We'd typically spend 6-8 hours at a crack pouring over our photos and putting them together to make beautiful books to preserve our most cherished moments.  But over the last couple years, our lives have gotten more hectic, and we just don't meet up anymore.

I've really tried to get some scrapbooking done at home, but for many reasons it just doesn't happen here.  Scrapbooking is messy.  It requires clean up immediately afterward if one expects to keep their supplies protected from the curiosity of the kiddos.  It is time-consuming.  It is expensive.  It requires a LOT of planning and preparation...selecting photos and sizes, printing photos, making page layouts, selecting embellishments and themes...the list goes on.  Scrapbooking is hard to focus on when there is an enormous pile of laundry and dishes awaiting your attention in the next room.

When I first heard of digital scrapbooking, I was appalled.  I thought instantly and for a very long time that I would never even think of doing anything but paper scrapbooking.  However...in the last few months I've really started to reconsider these thoughts.  I've felt so sad about not scrapbooking.  Not because I feel like I "should" document my children's lives, but because I want to document their lives.  Making these memory books is a wonderful creative outlet for me.  It allows me to escape daily troubles and worries, and just reflect on really great moments in time.  And ultimately, my children will have my work as keepsakes for years to come.

I've thought a LONG time about this.  One of the blogs I read, Enjoying The Small Things, is written by a photographer who makes digital memory books for her children.  A couple months ago, she posted a link to one of her completed books, and I think that was the final convincing factor.  I looked at the book and realized it was very well made, and certainly more valuable than my dust collecting tote filled with loads of papers and embellishments and loose photos waiting for a day that might never come.  So...I thought, which would make me more sad:  Not scrapbooking at ALL?  Or scrapbooking digitally, so at least I have something to show for all of the fantastic photos I've taken of the kids?

So yeah, the answer is I want something.  And once I started to consider it and research it, I discovered some great benefits about scrapping digitally rather than by hand.  Digital scrapbooking is always ready to go in my laptop.  I can work on it for 30 minutes and have ZERO cleanup.  I can work on it for 10 hours and still have ZERO cleanup.  If I don't have the right background/paper, I can shop online and have it ready to use within a minute.  Not only do I have all of this at my fingertips, but everything I use digitally is RE-usable.  That's pretty cool.  It's definitely less expensive and more efficient.  I can use pre-made templates, or I can make pages from scratch.  If I choose a photo to use but later find a better shot, all I do is cut and paste and the changes are made.  In a nutshell...oh my gosh I should have done this SO long ago!

I think there will be a learning curve and some skills to develop.  And I suppose down the line I'll look at it and realize how little I knew when I first started this, but I'm more than proud to share my first completed digital scrapbook.  This book was completed in less than one month's time.  That is quite honestly light years faster than anything I've ever made by hand.  Enjoy the book.  I just ordered my hardcover copy and I can't wait for it to get here!



Thank goodness it's finally here!  Springtime.  Loving every minute of this gorgeous weather and all the blooming life outdoors.  This is proving to be quite a challenging year for our family, and having beautiful weather helps to clear the mind and get the body moving.

I'm so proud of myself...I had a rare Martha Stewart moment and decided to make Quinn's Easter dress myself.  I think for it being my first time making an item of apparel, it turned out pretty great.

Easter weekend was busy but fun.  We had an egg hunt in our yard...

Colored eggs with the kids...

And Quinn got her first real bicycle from the Easter bunny...

It's such a struggle not knowing God's plan.  So much is happening right now in my own family life and the lives of those close to me, and I can't even begin to understand the purpose or the lessons that will be learned when all is said and done.  But I know there is a plan, and I've just gotta let it ride for now.  

We're doing the best we can with what we've got.  And what we've got ~ although it isn't everything we'd hope and picture for ourselves ~ isn't all that bad.  Loving and living life to the fullest is worth the effort, and the rewards are priceless.


ah-ti? ite dere.

I know that when you say "No", (which you say ALL the time, in response to any question) it can mean yes OR no.

I love the early morning "Hi-eeeee!" and the huge smile I get when I open your door.
"Uooosse!"  Yes, you can have some juice with your breakfast.  
"Side!"  Sure, maybe we can go outside later sweetie.  
"Puppeee!"  No, honey that's a goat.  But he's furry like a puppy, isn't he?
"EsssUooo"  Bless you.  Thank you.
"Airs.  Air.  Eyce.  Does."  Yes, those are your ears, hair, eyes, and your toes.
"Bel Butt."  And your belly button too.
"Bussss, Busss!" *with a little lisp*  I love that you love school buses.
"Ite dere, Ite DERE!"  Right there?  I should put your ketchup right there, huh?  Okay.
"Ahh Dahh!  Ahh Dahh!"  All done?  Okay, time for bed.
"Sairs?"  Yes, let's go upstairs.
"Top!  TOP!"  Okay, I'll stop tickling you.  But it's hard, because I love your sweet laugh.
"Tee?  Tee!"  Oh, I know you don't like to brush your teeth.  But we have to.  It'll be over soon.
"Ah-ti.  Ah-TI?  Mine."  Let's find your monkey.  Yes, it's yours.
"Ock? Ock!!!"  Yes, let's rock awhile before bed.
"Nye nye."  Night night my sweet boy.  Sweet dreams and I'll see you in the morning.

I love your sweet little language.  You are the sweetest boy on Earth.  I'm so glad you're mine.


finding some bliss

I took the kids outside today to play in the snow since they were nearly climbing the walls in rebellion of the Winter Blues. 

It was in the midst of the laborious task of dressing the three of us that I considered it might not be worth all the effort.  We put on snowpants, then boots, then mittens, then coats, and THEN mommy still had to get dressed. All the while, Liam is screaming "Outside! Outside! OutSIDE!"

I wished I'd waited until Casey would be home.  But of course I couldn't take back my promise at that point.  So, I took a deep breath and out we went. 

It was terrific to see their sheer joy in just having some time outdoors.  And it turns out I needed it just as much as they did.  It was an opportunity to not think about anything but playing and laughing together.  My beautiful children enjoyed the snow, and I enjoyed my beautiful children. 

These are the moments I will remember always.


goodbye angel

About 2 years into our marriage, Casey and I bought our first home.  We decided to add to our family soon after, and chose to make our first addition a furry one.  I remember going to the breeder's home to choose a puppy, and soon after we arrived we knew which one we'd take.  Milo was a black and white shih-tzu ball of fur, rolling around, but we noticed he was getting picked on by some of the other pups.  He was the one.

Milo was the naughtiest puppy I'd ever met.  Chewing, scratching, biting everything...including us!  He was so dangerous with those teeth that we were afraid to leave any flesh exposed.  For the first year of his life, that dog was a tiny bundle of pure energy.  In fact, during that first year we never once witnessed him sleeping.  Only when we'd put him in his kennel at night would he finally quiet down and rest.  At about one year old, Milo's energy wore off slightly, and he began to look lonesome.  He'd sit on the rug in the kitchen and stare up at us.

Have I ever mentioned I can successfully convince my husband to do ANYTHING?  It's true.  And I can convince him quickly.  I'm pretty skilled.  For example, I made up my mind one Sunday morning that we simply could not go another day without a new stove.  There was one burner that was slightly faulty on the stove that came with our home, and quite obviously that was a glaring reason to replace the entire appliance.  I think I started the request around 9 am, which was met with strong resistance.  By 3 pm we were out shopping, and by 5 we were hoisting the new stove into the house.

So anyway, when Casey and his brother won some money in a fishing tournament in the summer of 2003, the money was already spoken for.  Milo was soon on his way to having a companion.

My sister and I set out to take a look at a shih-tzu puppy, a female...and I knew full well that I would not be leaving without that puppy.  The sweet little bundle of gold and white with tiny black tips on her ears was simply adorable.  As I was holding her, the owner's daughter approached me.  She was maybe about 7 years old, with her two front teeth missing.  She looked up at me, squinted into the sun, and said quietly, "Her name is Angel."  And that was it.  I was sold on the dog, and sold on the name.

Angel and Milo were so happy to have each other.  While Angel was not nearly as mischievous as Milo had been, it soon became obvious that her energy would outlast his.  She loved to jump, run, and play, and has always been one of the happiest dogs I've ever known.

And here we are, six years into her sweet life, having to say goodbye.  Angel is suffering from what we think are multiple herniated disks in her spinal column, which has caused paralysis and pain, and has taken away her playful, happy spirit.  It's time for her to feel happy again, which sadly can't happen here with us.

Goodbye Angel.  We love you, and will always remember you, our little grizzly bear, our little chewbacca, our loyal, happy little friend.  Home won't be the same without you.



I am counting on 2010 to be the best year EVER.  The two BIG things I am really counting on are:
  • Achieving my New Year's resolution(s).  The list was a holy mile long, so I summed it up by saying, "I will take better care of myself".  Generalizing my resolution rather than making it super specific will (a) hopefully mean that even a couple good changes are better than none, (b) mean that I can't fall short of my goal since I will define it as I go along, and (c) enable me to be a better wife and parent in the process.  
  • A major turning point in my husband's career.  His business is growing ssssssssslowwwwwlyyyy.  I'm counting on being out of the snail's race soon.  Perhaps entering a grasshopper's race.  The outlook for the year with his company and his current situation there are very good, and the mood in his office is very uplifting and energized, so we're on the right track.
I'm counting on a lot, and I realize that.

And we're just not off to such a great start.  Well, I should say, we did spend most of last week on a well-earned vacation to Puerto Vallarta...so that was a really nice and refreshing break from reality.  But why does the real world have to slap you in the face so damn hard after returning from vacation?  I'll never understand.  I thought the 80 degree temperature difference was shock enough.

My grandpa passed away the day we left for Mexico.  His passing was a relief in many ways.  A relief for my mom especially, who has spent a lot of time and energy making sure his needs have been met for the last several years.  And a relief for my grandpa, because he suffered for so long with mental illness.  He is finally at peace.  Even so, I think any death, even the ones that bring relief upon the person and their families, brings about a roller-coaster of emotions that one doesn't expect.  It's overwhelming to say the least.

And now, we have another chapter to add to this rocky entrance back into reality as our dog is suddenly unable to use her hind legs.  The vet tells me the injury is in her spinal cord, a ruptured disk or disks, which are causing pressure on the spinal cord and paralysis as a result.  This is extremely difficult to see, as she has always been a very active and playful dog.  We're waiting to see if steroid therapy can reverse the problem.  If not, we're facing some really tough decisions that I honestly cannot comprehend having to make right now.

Today is a tough day.  I'm trying hard to shift my thinking.  I need to stop thinking about what I don't have, and focus on what I have.  I need to keep my faith and start counting my blessings.