Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Top 10 Books I read in 2012

The year is coming to a close and I am thisclose to finishing my goal of 100 books (I have 1/4 of a book left and one day to finish it).   A number of the books I read this year were pretty hefty, meaning over 1000 pages!  Most of those were from George R. R. Martin and his Game of Thrones series.  In total, I read 100 books for about 41,000 pages.  Of those 100 books here are my ten favorite ones:

10.  Legend by Marie Lu

9.  The Mark of Athena (book 3 in The Hero's of Olympus series) by Rick Riordan

8.  The Seven Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima

7.  The Invaders (book 2 in The Brotherband Chronicles) by John Flanagan

6.  Insurgent (book 2 in the Divergent series) by Veronica Roth

5.  Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix

4.  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

3.  The Shadow series by Orson Scott Card

2.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

and finally...

1. My Antonia by Willa Cather

Honorable Mention goes to: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss ( I am about 75% done with this and have loved it.  I didn't want to include it on the list though if it bombs at the end.  I have been burned before on endings.)

I loved each of these books for different reasons.  I believe that each person has a very specific taste in literature so I know that my type of book may not be another person's preference.  However, each of these authors are excellent writers.  I adore how they are able to bring their characters to life.  How they are able to describe something so well that I can actually envision it in my head.  I encourage you to check these books out on Goodreads or Amazon and see if they might be something that you would be interested in.  I would write a description about each one but I don't feel that I would do the books justice.  Because I read so much I do know how terrible am I at writing.  I wouldn't want my deficiency to keep someone from trying out any of these books!

My reading goal in 2013 is going to be much smaller.  I have made some ambitious running goals for the year and I know that I will have to give some things up to accomplish those goals.  So, instead of attempting to 2-3 books a week I am cutting it down to one.  My 2013 reading goal is to read 52 books.  Hopefully I will be able to read more but we will just have to see how the year plays out.  Happy Reading my friends!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Emma W. Strikes Again!

On Friday I received a text from Emma's teacher that said, "Emma W. strikes again!  I'll call you later with the details:)".  I have to admit that after I read that I was half curious to know what Emma had done in class and the other half of me wasn't sure that I really wanted to know.  With Emma, honestly, it could be anything.  I figured that since her teacher had added a smiley face at the end of the text it meant that the story wasn't going to be a bad one.  She at least wasn't in trouble so that was a small relief.  I was finally able to hear the story of Emma W. tonight and it is a doozy.

Here is some background information about Emma's classroom.  Emma's teacher has set up a small box in the classroom where a "Book Fairy" comes and delivers books and other materials for lessons that she has planned.   The kids in the class have no idea who the Book Fairy is or how she decides to pick the books and projects that they work on. 

Here is a little background information about Emma.  She recently has really taken an interest in chapter books.  She can't really read them yet but she sure tries.  She has been bringing different books from home in her bag to school.  She likes to read them on the bus.  Lately she has been rather interested in The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.  She has brought the book to and from school for a number of days.  She has often told her teacher how she has read the whole book herself! She likes to try and "read" the other chapter books that her teacher has out too.  So, now you know the background information to the latest Emma W.  story.

On Friday, Emma's teacher goes to open the book box with the class to see what the Book Fairy has left for them to work on that day.  She was really struggling to pull the items out of the box because something had been put in the box that wasn't supposed to be in there.  As it turns was Emma's Diary of a Wimpy Kid book.  Well, you can imagine the teachers surprise as she pulls out the book.  All the kids start getting excited and asking if they are going to be reading that today.  Of course they are not.  It was not part of her lesson plan.  Out of the crowd of talking 5 year olds Emma W. says, "Hey that's my book!  How did that get in there?"  Now, Emma says this in complete amazement.  Never once through this whole story will she break character.  Emma tells the class that the Book Fairy must have come to her house in the night, grabbed her book and then put it in the book box.  You should know that according to Emma's teacher all the kids bought this story.  When the teacher tried to tell the kids that maybe it was not from the Book Fairy the kids all told her how would she know?  She doesn't know who the Book Fairy is either!  As everyone is trying to figure out who the Book Fairy is and how the book got in the book box Emma then yells, "I've got it!  My mother, Heather W. is the Book Fairy!  She took the book from our house and brought it to school." Again, all the kids in the class believe that this might be true!  I, Heather W. , could very well be the Book Fairy.  Emma's teacher tries to play it off a bit saying that maybe it really was me.  I mean, Heather W. really does love books but we will never know for sure.

Emma was given the book back and told to go ahead and put it back in her locker since it was her book and not the classes.  I am pretty sure that the book is still sitting in the bottom of her locker with a bunch of other random things she has carted off to school.  I am still pretty amazed by this story an hour after it has been told to me.  The amount of acting and never giving herself up just kills me.  Does Emma really believe in the Book Fairy?  Does she know that it is her teacher and was just trying to catch her?  Did she just love the book so much that she thought she should just sneak it in and hope that everyone would just think that it was the book fairy and not her?  Why in the pete sake did she call me Heather W. instead of just mom?  So many questions that I will never know the answers.

There you have it, Emma W. strikes again!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Surviving the terrible two's!

I haven't posted in over a month and earlier today I was trying to figure out why.  We have been busy with school, basketball and dance but it's not much different than any other time.  Then the reason hit me.  Literally, it was a smack to my face as I was carrying a screaming two year old in the house from the van.  Miss Aubrey did not want to come home from our errands and now that she is officially two she busted out one of her crazy tantrums.  I am pretty sure that if my neighbors would have been home instead of at work they would have thought that I was killing her the screaming was so loud.  Sigh.

The terrible two's was one of those things that as a new parent I was warned by everyone about.  However, my oldest Dawson was and still is rather easy.  He listened to me, even at a young age, to what I said.  He would get frustrated, yell and cry but it wasn't anything that I couldn't handle.  I really thought as we coasted through the two's that I was a pretty darn awesome mom.  Then Emma hit the two's.  It was striking the difference between Emma and Dawson.  Emma never took what I said to be true.  She had to figure everything out on her own.  We struggled with her mastering all the baby proof items in the house and getting into everything.  She threw tantrums but we did survive.  There were many days that I thought that we would never make it to kindergarten but time marched on and here we are.  Emma is in kindergarten and doing so well.  She is great at school and she has matured noticeably since August. 

One of the many lessons that I learned from parenting Emma was that it is easy to parent and easy child.  Aubrey has since reaffirmed this lesson.  Aubrey has been the most difficult of the three kiddos for me.  She has struggled the most at realizing the whole world does not revolve around her.  That she can't get whatever she wants whenever she wants it.  She is an emotional child which means that when she is happy she is a blast to be around.  Her dimples are adorable.  Her laughter is contagious and her language skills are amazing.  When she is upset though...oh my goodness.  She screams, yells, hits, kicks, and throws whenever happens to be near her on the floor.  She has even started saying how she hates things!  I have no idea where she got that from.  I have come to dread bed time and we have unscrewed the light bulbs in her room so that she will quit turning on her light and playing when she is supposed to be sleeping.  She is just as curious as Emma is so we have to be watchful of Aubrey at every moment or I will end up with my make up all over my bathroom, shampoo squeezed out all in the bath or markers colored all over her face and tummy. 

In the last month or so I have worried, cried, yelled and pleaded with my mom friends to tell me that I am not alone.

I am not alone!  There are other mothers out there trying to survive the day with their own two year old.  It is so easy to forget that though.  My world can feel so small with just me at home with my Aubrey.  We will survive and Aubrey will make it to kindergarten.  If I keep saying it that will make it happen right? I am sure that there will be more crying, worrying and even yelling.  I have become more of a yeller than I ever imagined I would be as a parent.  Know that I am trying my best to get Aubrey where she needs to be.  We will get there eventually.  If you happen to see us at the store and Aubrey is screaming and has just chucked her snack across the store (yep, that actually happened at Old Navy) please don't judge us too harshly.  We are just trying to survive the terrible two's.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Half Marathon Complete!

I am sitting at my kitchen table feeling sore, tired and extremely satisfied.  I can now say that I have ran a half marathon.  To be able to say that after having three babies and battling two auto immune diseases makes this accomplishment mean even more to me.  There were times that I thought that this was never going to happen for me.  That this was going to be one of the goals on my bucket list that I would have to just let go.  I started in January at 0.  Probably below 0 because when you have terrible joint pain you don't want to even move!  In January, I slowly began doing the Couch to 5K running program.  I kept my pace slow and eased myself into running.  I was able to complete my goal of running a 5k in April.  I think that after that 5k I began to hope.  Hope that I would be healthy enough to try and train for a half marathon.  My sister in law, Emily, was training for a marathon and it was inspirational to see her go through her training.  I was able to run with her the last 4-6 miles of her long training runs.  I think that being able to run with her and move past just the 3 miles really gave me the confidence to go ahead and train for the half marathon.  The training was difficult at times.  I dealt with blisters, sore muscles and a foot injury like all runners have to deal with but I also had to keep my special health needs in mind.  I had 10 different medications and excess fatigue to take into account.  When I look back on the training I think that over all it was a great experience.  There were hard and painful runs but there were good and easy runs that brought tears to my eyes because I couldn't believe that I was actually doing it!

The week before the race brought its own excitement.  First, I realized that while I thought that I had registered for the race somehow I hadn't.  I don't know if I started the online registration process and got distracted and never finished or if I just didn't complete the whole process and thought that I had.  Either way, I realized that I was not registered!  Thankfully there were still openings and I was able to get in no problem.  Second, my house was hit with a terrible stomach bug.  I know that there were people praying over me and to be honest I think that is the only reason that I did not get it myself.  I had cleaned up so much vomit and poop that no matter how often I washed my hands I probably should have gotten sick.  I think that it was truly an act of God that I did not come down with the stomach bug.  We had all planned to go to Des Moines as a family to watch me race.  It came down to a wait and see.  Saturday morning we had officially been 24+ hours free of vomiting and everyone felt at least well enough to go.  Yay!

Here we are race day morning.  I was so glad that Dan was able to be there to see me run.  After he caught the stomach bug too I was worried that he wouldn't be able to be there.  He felt a solid 75% and toughed out the rest.  What a guy!

Emily and I all ready to go.  Let's do this!

The beginning of the race was awesome.  To be there with that many people (8,000) all with a similar goal in mind was a moving experience.  I got choked up a couple of times as the race was beginning.  It felt a little surreal to finally be there.  We were able to meet up with my other two best friends Stacie and Jennifer.  They were running too!  We gave hugs and wished each other good luck.  To be able to be apart of this together was special and something that I will never forget.

The race went well!  I feel like I was prepared for it and it was a fun run.   There were bands all along the race path, plenty of bathrooms and drink stations.  I think that made this first run all the easier.  I got emotional a couple of times during the race.  The first time was when we passed my parents, brother, Dan and the kids.  They were all there waiting and cheering us on. 

Here we are passing them the first time.  I was so excited to see them!

Everyone hanging out waiting for us to pass them again.  When I passed them a second time I got hugs from all of the kids.  It was perfect.

Another moving moment for me during the race was when Jennifer passed us going the opposite direction.  I was able to yell her name and cheer for her.  I was so proud of how she was kicking butt.  After last April when she got injured and wasn't able to complete her first half marathon it was beautiful to see her doing so well.  

We got towards the end of the half and by that time some of the Kenyan marathoners were passing us.  It was AMAZING to see them go.  I was so inspired at their hard work and God given talent!  When I reached mile 11 I realized that I was going to actually finish!  I was so excited and it made the last two miles fly by.  My friend Stacie found us at mile 12 and was so encouraging that last bit.  She is such a cheerleader.  It is one of the things that I love the most about her!  With Stacie's encouragement and the fact that Emily and I were going to cross that finish line together we made it.  I was crying my eyes out as they said our names one right after the other.  Dan, my brother Bryan and the kids were all there at the finish clapping and cheering.  It was a perfect end to the journey.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Talking with my 2 year old Aubrey

I have decided to help me remember these early years with the kids I am going to start taking more videos.  Usually I only remember to take a video if it is an actual event or the kids are being super goofy.  I took this video of Aubrey as we were just hanging out one afternoon.  She was just drawing in her notebook and chatting with me.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Facing my Lupus fears

I have been struggling these last few days with some fears that I have about my Lupus.  It was really brought on when I was at a PTA meeting this week.  I had gone to the meeting to help plan Dawson's fall party.  I was introduced to two other moms by Dawson's teacher and we all sat down together to plan the party.  About ten minutes into the meeting I go to use one of the mom's names and in a panic I realize that I have no idea what it is.  I know that she told me and I even repeated the name back but I have a complete blank.  Thankfully I made a note at the bottom of my paper the names of the two women!  We got everything all planned out and as I am leaving another mom from the class catches me, introduces herself and tells me that she was at a different party planning and that is why she couldn't be at ours.  She tells me that she would still like to help and if there is anything that I need to just let her know. I have her write down all her information for me because once again I begin to panic.  I can't remember her name!  She just told me and I repeated it back!

I am freaking out on the way home because I start thinking of all the times that I can't remember.  Dan will tell me things and I have no recollection of him saying it to me.  I have had people request to be my friend on facebook and I have no idea who they are.  I know that I went to high school with them.  I know that people I do remember are friends with them but I've got nothing.  There are parts of my childhood that my siblings will talk about that I don't remember at all.  Dan will talk about our college years and early marriage and many times I don't remember what he is talking about.  It scares me.

I was sharing all these fears and worries with my friend Jennifer and she said something to me that really stuck out.  She said, "Really Heather, what is it that you are afraid of?  You are scared but what it is exactly you are afraid of?  You need to face these fears head on."  She is right!  When I face these fears head on and actually list them out loud then I can deal with them.  I think that for a long time I have not even addressed these fears because if I said them out loud it would make them true.  So here they are ...

1.  I am afraid that I am going to forget something  with the kids' schedule and they will be disappointed in me.

2.  I am afraid that I am going to forget something and let someone down like my family, my friends and people that the kids are in contact with at school.

3.  I am afraid that I will continue to forget things from my past.  Unless it produced a strong emotion in me I don't remember much from my childhood and teen/college years. 

4.  I am afraid that I won't remember these years when the kids are little.  That I will forget how Dawson went through a stage when he was two where he said Harry Potter in an English accent, or how Aubrey uses words and phrases to no 2 year old usually uses (like "that's amazing" or "that's perfect"), or ALL the crazy things Emma has done since she was born.  I don't want to forget!

5.  I am afraid of what I will be like 10, 20 or 30 years down the road.  If I can't remember where I put my keys now at 32 and spend 5 minutes looking for them only to realized that they were right next to me the whole time what  is my life going to be like when I'm 62?!?

So there they are.  In black and white.  As I look at them and speak them out loud I can already see that some of these fears are unrealistic.  I can let go of number 1 and 2 because even if I didn't have Lupus or wasn't on a chemo medication I am human and have three kids.  It will happen that I forget something.  Those fears I can let go because I know it is just life.

Fears 3 and 4, to me, are valid fears that I can address.    I think that by blogging or keeping a journal I can begin to keep those memories.  If I blog more about my day to day with the kids I can preserve those beautiful, small moments that occur with my children instead of just the big things that happen.  If I  journal my memories that I still have from my childhood I can keep those and have them to pass on to my children and grandchildren.  Memories are a gift and I want to be able to give those memories to my kids and then to their kids. 

Fear number 5, being afraid of what I will be like in the future, is a fear where the resolution seems elusive to me.  I have no control over this fear.  So, in this situation, I do the only thing that I can do.  I turn this fear over to God.  He has multiple promises that I know I can trust in.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" Matt 6:25-27
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Phil 4:6-7

Facing my fears about my memories has been scary and even painful.  I am thankful that I listened to my friend and faced them.  Allowed myself to feel those fears because I have now been able to work through them.  To let go of those that are unrealistic, to form a plan to help me preserve the memories that I do have and to turn over the fears that I can't control.  I am allowing God to give me a peace the transcends all understanding  because I KNOW God holds me in His hand. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Family fun night

This weekend we had a Friday night when Dan was home and we wanted to enjoy this rare time together.  it was a perfect night for a campfire, cool but not windy.  The kids ran around the yard picking up sticks and leaves to help Dan build the fire in the pit we purchased a few years back.  I am pretty sure that campfires are Emma's favorite outdoor activity.  While they built up the fire I was inside getting dinner ready.  Here is a photo of Emma testing out the campfire with a few marshmallows before dinner.

Once the campfire was all ready to go the kids spent sometime jumping on the trampoline together.  They were making all kinds of silly faces instead of the smiling, we really do love each other type of photo that I was trying to take.

Sweet Aubrey girl saying, "Cheese!"

Dawson is always the one I can count on for a great smile!  I wish that I could get those girls to give me one of those sometimes.

Aubrey giving her brother kisses.  Dawson and Aubrey have a special relationship and she really misses him when he is gone at school.

If you will notice, Aubrey dressed herself today.  Nothing but high fashion around here. 

After dinner, we had carne asada with rice and beans, we all grabbed our blankets and huddled by the fire.  I brought out with me all the fixings for smores.  I had them sitting in the cupboard for just the right night.

Aubrey was mostly interested in the marshmallows.  I don't think that she understood what we were trying to make so she grabbed marshmallows one right after another and shoved them in her mouth. 

I am sure that this will come as a big surprise but Dawson and Emma roast their marshmallows very differently.   As you can see Emma likes to stick her marshmallows right into the fire and burn them black.  She is blowing the flames out of her marshmallow.  Dawson, on the other hand, slowly roasts the marshmallow until it is even all over.  No flames for him!

Emma enjoying her very first bite.

Dan and Aubrey snuggling close to the campfire.  No smores for Dan.  I don't know how anyone can pass up a smore but Dan does.  I will never understand how he doesn't like sweets.

We filled our bellies with smores and by then it was starting to get dark out.  I had the great idea to play hide and seek in our backyard together.  It was a blast.  We all had turns seeking and I think that I got the biggest kick out of Aubrey.  She would get excited and start talking loud and then would remember and tell who she was hiding with to be quiet.  When you found her she would scream and laugh while she was running away from you.  I think that the best moment of the night was when I was hiding in the big outdoor toy bin.  Nobody could find me and so they decided to split up and check on the back hill.  It was pitch dark out and Emma didn't want to go up on the hill.  She said that it was too scary.  Without missing a beat Dawson yells out across the yard, "Emma!  Just believe in Jesus!"  Awesome!

It was late so we brought Aubrey in for a bath while Dawson and Emma stayed out a little longer telling each other spooky stories.  Aubrey was a mess.  How she got that much marshmallow in her hair I have no idea!  I guess that just means that she had a great time!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Running with Auto Immune Disease

“I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.” – Arthur Blank

I have been bitten by the running bug.  I think that it is pretty official that I am now a runner.  I never thought that I would be able to say that.  I was talking with a runner friend of mine, Becky, this past weekend and as we were talking a number of things she said have just stuck with me.  I have been chewing on her words and really reflecting about myself. 

We had began talking about how I had been bitten by the running bug and she mentioned how awesome it is when people, for whatever reason, begin running and it become such an important part of their lives.  I immediately agreed.  Something that started, for me, as just trying to get back into decent shape has turned into more than a hobby.  Running is apart of me.  I analyzed myself a bit and I believe that I have taken running, grabbing onto it because it is a small way for me to take back control over my heath.  Much of my health life is out of my control.  I never know when I will have another Lupus or Crohn's flare.  I never know, with my repressed immune system, when a small injury will turn into a bad infection or a cold into a terrible upper respiratory infection.  I have minimal control over these health issues.  Lately, however, I have felt strong.  Healthy.  Hopeful.  Running has given me back those things that I had lost along the way these past 11 years.

I am not a fast runner.  I am actually rather slow.  I am okay with that though!  I probably will never run faster than a 10 minute mile.  That just sounded like I actually run a 10 minute mile.  I don't, by quite a bit.  I will never say never but I just don't think that running fast is in the cards for me.  Accepting this has been a process.  While now I am okay with my turtle pace I have often been sensitive about how slow I was compared to my other runner friends.  It took a lot of self reflection for me to get that running is personal.  I am doing it for me and need to only look at myself and not others.  My pace and distance our MY goals.  What is that saying?  Comparison is the thief of joy.  Truth that I need to remember.

While I was talking to Becky I mentioned how there really is no information out there about someone like me running or any type of regular exercise.  Most information is vague and the message boards are generally filled with people who are flaring and can't even imagine walking around the block.  Everything that I am doing for my training is trial and error.  I told Becky that I had been keeping a journal about my training.  I wanted to be able to look back on my journey to this half marathon.  She encouraged me to maybe blog about it.  That maybe there are others out there like me looking for information and encouragement.  I have been thinking about this a lot.  I think that I will begin blogging about my running.  Not only would it give others a better understanding of my journey but it is possible that there is another 30-something mom with auto immune issues out there looking for some encouragement or at least wants to see what someone else has done.  The reality is that I don't just go out and run.  I have a running schedule that is firmly in place due to my medications.   I can't just run on a Tuesday instead of a Monday.  I take my chemo medication on Monday night so I am shot all day Tuesday.  I have to do a long run either on a Sunday or a Monday because of the chemo.  My body is too tired to bust out 9, 10 or 11 miles until a lot of the chemo has worked out of my body.  I have to have a day of rest in between each run or work out.  I need to stay hydrated more than other runners.  The amount of medication in my body and how easily I tire means that I need to be eating well and drinking properly.  Eating and drinking well are both issues that all runners are mindful of but I especially need to be. 

All that being said, I can no longer imagine my life with out running.  It is apart of who I am now and I am so grateful.  Being able to run is a gift and I am not going to waste it.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In the swing of school

It has been almost a month since Dawson and Emma began school and I think that we are officially in the swing of the new school year.  We have all gotten into the routine of getting up and around in the morning and outside in time for the bus.  The kids seem to really enjoy riding the bus this year.  Dan and I love it because it saves a lot gas money and an hour out of my day that I was spending taking kids to and from school.  They have assigned seats on the bus and Dawson lucked out and is sitting next to a boy in his class.  Emma, of course, can make friends with anyone and she is usually ready to go in the morning 15 minutes before it is actually time to go wait outside.  The bus ride is just extra time for her to socialize!

Dawson has been busy with football this fall.  Dan and I have tried to keep the kids in one activity per child to cut back on all the busy nights and running around.  I was worried that Dawson would be upset when we told him he had to choose between football or soccer but he didn't even hesitate.  Football it was.  Dan has been able to help out coaching the football team that is made up of 1st and 2nd grade boys.  Dawson has had a blast at the practices and then at his first game this past Saturday.  Dawson is such an intense player.  He wants to do everything just like his coaches tell him too.  He get frustrated and is a little hard on himself when things don't go as he planned.  He missed a pass on Saturday and you could just see his frustration.  Dawson has never played flag football before so it wasn't until the end of the game that he really was able to get the hang of pulling off the flag as the boy runs by.  When he finally pulled his first flag he growled in triumph and threw the flag on the ground.  It was pretty funny and I chuckled with another mom that we might have to talk to Dawson about excessive celebration.  Dawson did pick up the flag after he threw it and handed it back to the boy nicely.  He was just all pumped up about his small victory.

Here is Coach Dan on the sidelines.

Dawson getting ready to line up on defense.

While we have been keeping busy with Dawson and football Emma has been patiently waiting for dance to start.  She finally had her first dance class last night.  She was so excited to go.  As soon as she got off the bus she put on her dance leotard and asked me if it was time to go yet.  I think that this will be another activity that will be right up Emma's alley.  She gets to be creative through dance and gets to be social with lots of other little girls her age.  Emma will not be doing anymore sports this year since she chose to do dance, trying to keep with the one activity at a time.  This is probably just as well because this summer she said the tball was for LOSERS while holding a big L on her forehead.  Yeah, tball was not for Emma.

The kids have also started going to Wednesday night church.  Emma calls it church school and is always all excited to go.  Dawson was not as excited because he is similar to me and likes a lot of down time after a busy day of school.  However, Dan and I really want to make these church youth activities a priority for our family.  The church also provides a meal for the families at a small cost before the Wednesday night activities.  I think that I will be taking them up on this.  With the kids getting off the bus at 4:15pm and church starting at 6pm it can get hard for this momma to get all three kiddos settled and dinner when Dan is gone. 

Aubrey this past month has really had a hard time adjusting to the new daily schedule.  She does not like being left behind and has become clingy and rather whiny.  She is also fully into the 2's stage!  Dan tells me that she is acting similar to how Emma did at this age.  Honestly, I don't remember.  I think that I may have blocked Emma's terrible 2's stage from my memory.  I know that Aubrey and I will pull through though.  MOPS starts soon and I hope that she will be excited to go off to her own "school".  I am trying to have fun with her at home and really selling the fact that it is just Aubrey and Mommy time.  I think that it is all about the spin factor.  No, Aubrey didn't get left behind.  Aubrey gets to spend all day playing with Mommy!

Aubrey all cuddly on the couch after the kids have left for school.

Friday, August 24, 2012

My 32 Bucket List

My birthday is coming up in a few days and I finally made my 32 bucket list.  I was looking over my bucket list from last year and I was able to complete almost all of my goals!  There were a few items that weren't finished but they are almost done.  For example, I have the top of my Harry Potter quilt all pieced together I just need to put the backing on it and do the binding.  I also have Aubrey's baby book all finished on Snapfish I just need to get it printed.  I even was able to get my friends together to see the first two of the Lord of the Rings movies but haven't been able to set a date for the final movie.  Getting 6 ladies to all be free on the same night takes some work!

I have enjoyed thinking of some new goals for myself.  Here they are...

1.  I would like to reread all of my favorite books that I own.  I have shelves filled with stories that I just love and I want to read them all again.  I think that this quote from CS Lewis is just perfect for me, “It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”   Too often I just keep reading new book after new book.  I need to go back and enjoy those stories that I adore and not leave them on the shelf collecting dust. 

2.  I want to read through the whole Bible again.  I had read the Bible cover to cover back when I was in high school.  Since then I have just read certain books or passages.  I would like to go through the Bible again and familiarize myself with more than just my favorites verses and books.

3.  I would like to run a half marathon.  I have signed up for the Des Moines half marathon in October.  I have been training and am excited about how healthy and strong I have been feeling.  I would like to try and run the half at around 2 hours and 30 minutes.      October 21st I ran my first half marathon.  I ran it in 2 hours and 37 minutes!

4.  Pick one friend or family member a week and send note telling them how much I appreciate them. 

5.  Make a good cheesecake.  My other (2) attempts have been disappointing.  I adore cheesecake and would love to be able to make my own instead of driving all the way to the Cheesecake Factory for a delicious slice. 

6.  Go see Catching Fire at midnight opening night.  Once you are a mom often you can't go out and do these kinds of crazy things like seeing a movie on opening night.  I would love to see Catching Fire opening night.  We will see if it works out:)

Here is a photo of me completing one the items on my 31 Bucket List, a 5k!

Alright 32, I am ready for you! 
This year is going to be great:)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

First Day of School

We survived the first day of school!  Here are some fun photos of our big day:

Here is Emma next to her locker on supply drop off night.  She was so excited to drop her stuff off and see her new classroom.

After we dropped off the kids' school supplies we all went out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse.

Dawson and Dan being super silly at dinner.

Here is Emma in her "killer" dress ready for her first day of kindergarten.

Dawson on his first day of second grade and at a new school.

Dawson and Emma, together, all ready to ride the bus for the first time.  We were going to take them on the first day but they both said that they wanted to ride the bus instead.

Aubrey just hanging out and waiting for the bus with Dawson and Emma.

Daddy and Emma together.

Dan and Dawson before his big day at a new school.

The kids got all loaded up on the bus and Aubrey began to cry as it drove away.  She was sad for about 20 minutes and then I think that she realized that she got us all to herself:)

It was weird to walk back into the house with just Aubrey.  I don't even know what I am going to do with myself these days with Emma gone.  It was quiet.  So quiet that when Aubrey went down for a nap after lunch Dan and I took a nap too!  Crazy!  I am sure that tomorrow I will begin my major house cleaning.  I had basically given up this summer while the kids were home.  I think that I will also enjoy having time to just hang out and play with Aubrey.  We haven't had much time together just the two of us. 

The day went well and Emma said that the best part of her day was when she met all her new friends:)  Yay for fun new beginning!

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Lupus Life

I have lived with my Lupus diagnosis for over a year now and I have learned quite a bit about myself along the way.  My newest revelation has come over the past few weeks.  It was brought about by the choice I made to run a half marathon.  I began running in January and used the couch to 5k program to get myself back into shape.  I have now ran a few 5k's and wanted to make that leap and fulfill a goal that I have wanted for sometime now, the half marathon. 

As I talked to other people about it I noticed how often I said that I wanted to run now while I can or how running has become such a part of my life that I would be heartbroken when I have to quit.  It's these types of statements that were coming out of my mouth that caused me to pause and reflect.  When had I become such a glass is half empty type of person?  Somewhere along my journey of health and life I have come to just expect that at any moment the other shoe is going to drop.  At any time my health will take a drastic down turn and I will be back to barely being able to walk or lift my children up.  The shock of my Lupus diagnosis has stuck my brain in a pattern of thinking that I do not want for myself.  I do not want to always be waiting for the flare to hit me. 

I need to realize and remember that it is not likely that I will ever get that bad again.  We know what is wrong with me and when I feel a flare coming on we can take care of it quickly.  It is just like my Crohn's disease.  I will never get as bad as I was that first time 10+ years ago.  I know what to do!  I know in my heart that living this life in fear of the next flare is NOT how God wants me to live.  In 1 Peter it talks about casting all your fears on God because He cares for us.  Then, in Colossians I am remind how I can do all thing through Christ who gives me strength.  I believe that God knows my fears related to my health and I believe these last few weeks He has been nudging me to let them go.  To cast them at His feet and leave them there.  Not to pick them back up tomorrow or later this evening (if we are being real here.)  I believe that God is telling me that, yes, I will have flares but, no, it is not the end of my hopes and dreams for myself.  He will give me strength to survive each flare and come back each time.  My life is NOT over and I WILL stop talking like it is. 

'Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

Monday, July 16, 2012

Aubrey is 2!

My sweet girl is now two.  An official toddler.  I can't believe that we do not have any babies in the house anymore!  While most of me is glad to be done with the baby stage I can't help but be a little sad that we are done.

Aubrey is developing into a fun combination of personalities.  She is sensitive and tender hearted like Dawson but full of fun and mischief like Emma.  We are hitting the two's stage where she needs to do everything herself and yells at everyone when she doesn't get her way.  She is now sleeping in a big girl bed and is doing pretty well.  She gets out of bed at night but she never comes out of her room.  She will just play really quietly in her room.  Emma was always loud so I always knew when she was up.  I have to get into the habit of randomly checking on Aubrey to make sure she isn't playing.  She really is super quiet!  Aubrey is really into Winnie the Pooh and Nemo.  She loves to read books, swing on the swings and play trains. 

With Dawson and Emma going to both be in school all day Aubrey and I will have lots of time to hang out together.  I am looking forward to spending time just playing with her.  Sometimes I feel like I am too caught up with everything to just sit and play.  I can't wait to have some Aubrey and Mommy time together. 

For Aubrey's birthday I made her a Winnie the Pooh cake.  I had googled Buttercream cake transfer and found this youtube video.

It was super easy and I think that it turned out pretty well.  I used canned frosting for the outline and a homemade buttercream for the rest.  In the future I will use homemade for all of it.  The canned frosting did not set up as well as the homemade did.  This is the buttercream recipe that I used:
*I did make a change to the recipe by using half shortening and half butter instead of all shortening. 

Here is the cake all finished.  It was pretty easy to do and most important, Aubrey loved it!

Aubrey having fun opening her presents.

I had made a fleece Winnie the Pooh blanket for her big girl bed.

Aubrey laid down on the ground and covered herself up to try out her new blankie.  It was pretty cute:)

Emma picked out a stuffed Winnie the Pooh for Aubrey and wrapped the gift up herself.  Aubrey, of course, loved the Pooh bear.

Dawson picked out Eeyore and Aubrey was so funny because she kept asking why Eeyore had his tail. In her Winnie the Pooh movie he is always missing his tail.

I took this picture of Aubrey trying to eat someone else's cake after hers was all gone.  She LOVED the frosting!

Aubrey all snuggled up and ready to watch her Pooh movie with her new friends.  What a great way to end the day!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dawson's Loft Bed

For the past year or so Dawson and Dan have been talking together about building a loft bed for Dawson's room.  This summer they finally began building it together.  It is now finished and put together in Dawson's room.  Dawson's old bed was moved into Aubrey and Emma's room.  Aubrey is out of her crib and into a big bed now.  Crazy, I know.  I was able to take some pictures of Dan and Dawson's building process.  Yay for father/son projects!

Here is Dan teaching Dawson how to use a cordless drill.

Dawson helping build the bed in his room.  He had to put a bandanna on just like Dad.

The bed put together and the ladder on. 

Here is the full shot of the loft bed.  Dawson has a desk under the bed and it has already been put to good use. 

Dan loves to make furniture and it was a joy to watch Dawson and Dan work on something together.  Dawson will have this loft bed for a long time (probably until he leaves home).  I am glad that they were able to make some memories together while building it and I hope that this isn't the last father/son project!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dawson and the Spirit

Over the last month or so Dawson has begun asking some great spiritual questions to Dan and I.  You can just see the little wheels in his head turning as we talk to him.  Dan and I have taken a low key approach to spirituality in our house.  We go to church when we can (between Dan's work and my health we do not get there every week), listen to music that has spiritual meaning to Dan and I, and openly talk about God and things that we are learning.  Dawson and Dan have also enjoyed reading Tim Tebow's book Through My Eyes together.  It has opened the door for some great questions and conversation. 

Last night Dan and I were chatting in the kitchen about Dawson's little buddy who is being baptized at the end of the month.  Dawson wandered in and began asking us about what baptism was, how it happens and why we do it.  Dan and I come from a Wesleyan background and so we talked to him about how baptism is a way to show others that you love and want to follow Jesus.  He asked us when we were baptized and we told him that Dan was baptized when he was 16 and I was around 10.  He was amazed that his Papa (my dad) was the one that baptized me.  Then, he asked when he was going to be baptized.  We told him that when he decides to ask Jesus in his heart then he can choose to be baptized.  We explained that when we ask God to forgive us of our sin (and reminded him what sin meant) and we invite Him to be apart of our lives that was what it meant to "ask Him into our hearts".  It was hard to not get all technical on him!  Dan and I kept trying to use those large spiritual words only to realize he would have no idea what they meant:)

It was awesome to watch him last night absorb all the information we were giving him.  His little brain was just thinking over everything that we said.  I have to say that it was one of the coolest things as a parent to watch.  I know that he has a little bit before he can truly grasp all the concepts but we are on the way.  The Holy Spirit is beginning to move in him and it is beautiful to see. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I need a snack!

I can't even tell you how many times a day I hear these words... I need a snack!  I hear it from Dawson, Emma and even Aubrey over and over through out the day.  They could have just ate lunch 30 minutes ago and they think that they need a snack.  It drives me insane.

So, since summer is just around the corner I have decided to put forth the fruit and veggie tray initiative.  Each morning I will put out a fruit and veggie tray.  Today I put grapes, strawberries, cherries and apples on the fruit tray and I put celery, cucumbers, carrots, radishes and snap peas on the veggie tray.  The kids may help themselves to as many fruits and veggies as they want without asking.  It will be right where they can reach it all day.  I think that I will also start filling a cooler with ice water that they can get water from whenever they want, again, without having to ask me for a drink all the time. 

It has gone well so far today.  The first thing Emma said when she got home from school and walked into the kitchen was, "Hey Mom, can I help myself to some fruit?"  I think that the prep will make a little more work for me but I will enjoy not hearing those four works over and over. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Love of the Game

Dawson has started machine pitch baseball this year.  He enjoys going to the practices once a week and he is outside often hitting balls or playing catch.  If Dan is home they are watching the Cubs play or outside practicing until it is time to come in for the night.  Dawson just loves the game! 

Dawson finally got his uniform this week and it is the full gear.  Last year they just wore tshirts and shorts.  He has the hat, jersey, pants with the belt, shoes, basically the whole 9 yards this time around. He tried it all on as soon as he got home, even putting the gloves in his back pocket like they do on tv.  He looked old!  It amazed me how he suddenly seemed like a young man, not my little buddy.

Tonight after showers I told Dawson that he could read for 30 minutes before bed.  I told him that I would come back in and put him to bed when it was finally time.  About 8:30pm I knocked on Dawson's door and peeked in.  I was expecting him to be in his jammies and laying in his bed reading his Diary of a Wimpy Kid book.  Instead, I found Dawson in his baseball uniform (cleats and all) practicing his swing with his bat.  How fun! 

I can't wait to watch him play this year.  He is going to have a blast!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A note from Dawson

Sometimes, as a parent, it is hard to know when something is bothering your child.  There can be fits, tears or they may just withdraw and you don't know what is wrong.  OR you happen to be walking down the hall and notice a note stuck on your son's door.

Dan and I took the hint, after we had a chuckle, and went to ask Dawson what was wrong.  He said that he didn't want to talk about it right now.  I think he was just upset because Dan had told him to go clean his room.  It is tough being 6. 

Hopefully as Dawson grows older he will continue to find ways to communicate with us and we will be there for him to talk to, whenever he is ready.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Emma's 5th birthday

 Emma is 5!  I have to admit that along the way I have wondered if we all would make it to her 5th birthday but here we are.  She is becoming such a spunky and fun young girl.  We had a action packed day which started off with a breakfast of her choice; cheesy eggs and bacon. 

After breakfast we left to take Dawson to school and to take Emma to Kindergarten round up.  She was so excited!  As we were walking into the school she kept asking me where her classroom was going to be and where her locker was.  She, of course, did just fine going off to the group that they had put her in.  We lucked out and her BFF from preschool ended up being in her group.  They spent the morning having a story, coloring a picture, going out for recess and even taking a tour on the school bus.  I think that riding the bus was Emma's favorite part.  While the kiddos were doing their thing we parents filled out forms and went to a couple of workshops.  I chose to go to the Parenting with Love and Logic, which I am really going to have to check that book out, and the reading and writing workshop.  Since we have gone through all of this with Dawson I know more of what to expect.  We are really hoping that Emma will be able to get Dawson's teacher.  She is such a wonderful educator.  She is great at meeting the needs of all of her students.  We also really enjoyed looping and she will be looping again.  Looping was new to us when Dawson started kindergarten.  Basically, he had the same teacher and mostly the same students for kindergarten and first grade.  It was a great experience and Emma is beyond excited to have the same experiences as Dawson.

After kindergarten round up we went home to get Emma ready for her big date with Daddy.  Dan got all dressed up and planned to take Emma on a lunch date.  They went to a fancy Italian restaurant and Emma enjoyed all the Fettuccine Alfredo she could want.  

When Dawson got out of school we picked up two friends and brought them back to our house to play.  The kids had fun making a craft, playing cars, house and even Just Dance 3!  Dan and I got in on the Just Dance action too. 

Dan picked up some pizza and we spent the rest of the evening opening gifts, chowing on cake and finally watching Emma's favorite movie; Alvin and the Chipmunks Chipwrecked.  For Emma's birthday gift this year we decided to get her a guitar.  When we were on vacation this February she just LOVED playing Uncle Wes' guitar that he had.  After she opened it she said to us that it was exactly what she wanted.  I mean, it is even pink!  All evening and all day today she has been playing and writing her own songs.  She has such an imagination for song writing.  It is just hilarious!

We had a great day celebrating our Emma. As each year passes I wonder what this new year will bring with her.  You just never know:)  Happy Birthday sweet Emma.  We love you so much!