Thursday, March 27, 2008

Blog Challenge #10: Photo Savenger Hunt - Bad Habit and Joy

Today I am doubling up because we are leaving tomorrow morning for the weekend. The first picture is joy. The kids returned from my mom's last night to find what the Easter Bunny had left them. These are three joyful kids. They get joy out of little gifts and I get joy from them. Watching their happy smiles and hearing their excited directions to each other as they search for goodies helped to dull the ache of loss that I was dealing with last night with the loss of my grandmother. These three were a source of joy for her as well. Remembering that brings more joy for me.

This is a picture of my bad habits or at least a couple of them. I watch way too much TV. During the day I watch or listen to endless sitcom reruns unless a ball game is on. In the evening more sitcoms or a select few reality tv programs.

The other bad habit is piling laundry into baskets and letting them sit. I hate folding laundry. Even more than that, I hate going to all that work only to have that work undone by unthinking or lazy children. Either way, the result is the same, someone ends up living out a clothes basket. Might as well save myself the work of folding them then huh? Seems perfectly reasonable to me today.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Blog Challenge #10: Photo Savenger Hunt - Reflection of You

As noted in the previous post this week's Blog challenge was issued by our famous Cowtown Stacy. Tonight I am posting about my version of a "reflection of you". This post is about my grandmother who we lost tonight. This woman was someone I would consider a reflection of what I want to be. She was smart, compassionate, hardworking and just a wonderful person. I am so privileged to have had her in my life for these 34 years that I have lived. I will forever miss her.

This photo is from July 2007. The family gathered to celebrate my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary. The day after the big party we all gathered back at their house and had a little mini family reunion. The day was beautiful and it was so nice to sit and share memories with everyone. We laughed and talked and laughed some more. Grandma presided over this group of people knowing that they were all on this earth because of her.

This photo is from our first visit to Grandma's after our DS, now almost 4, was born. I was so proud to present her with another great-grandchild. She looks pretty happy to see him too, doesn't she?

Okay so how is this woman a reflection of me? She is what I want to be. She was the matriarch of this family. She was a sweet, gentle woman who would protect any of us with the might of an aircraft carrier if she thought one of us was threatened. She was the go to person in my life. I always knew that if I had a problem and went to her I would not get a lecture, just gentle guidance to a solution. I want to be that person for my kids and my eventual grandkids. She nearly made it to her 96th birthday and she did it with grace. She had many, many challenges throughout her life but she overcame them. She raised 3 self-reliant, hardworking children. She is my ideal. She is a reflection of what I want to become, grow to and emulate.

Grandma was a lover of children. She was a farm wife. She was self-reliant. She was instrumental in instilling a love of flowers and gardening in me. She, along with my mother, taught me to grow, can and freeze food we grew. She helped me learn to make jam and juice. She helped make many summer vacations fun by taking my brother and I to her house for several weeks. She would get down on the floor and play with any and all of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She loved playing games, particularly cards.

She shared her birthday with the sailing of the Titanic. She got a real kick out of that. She loved to come and watch my cousins and my brother and I show our 4-H animals. She was fan of Oregon State University. She delighted in attending sporting events there, though she did not get to do that as much as she would have liked.

This is a reflection of what I want to be. Rest in peace Grandma Mary Sinko April 10, 1912 - March 26, 2008. I was so lucky to have you in my life.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Blog Challenge #10: Photo Savenger Hunt

As always the blog challenge is issued by one of my wonderful internet friends at Scrapshare, the awesome scrapbooking website I frequent.

This week's challenge is issued by Cowtown Stacy.

This week, get out your cameras and open your eyes!
Share with us a photo for each of the following categories, and tell us about the photo, and/or the story behind it.

1. a sign of spring
2. an image of joy
3. a bad habit
4. a good word
5. a reflection of you

Get as creative or as simple as you want.
Be philosophical, or be silly.
The only rule is to open your eyes, and have fun!

I have been seeing signs of spring showing up regularly for the last few weeks. On a really pretty day in early March the sun was shining and I took the opportunity to play with my camera. This camera is a 7.2 megapixel point and shoot with a 5x zoom by Nikon. I like it well enough but have had a hard time figuring out the settings that I really like. This camera does not handle movement well at all, either that or I suck as a photographer. Anyhow, I had seen my daffodils popping open the day before so with the sun out, it seemed a good day to get out of the house, enjoy the sunshine and snap some shots all at the same time.

Here are a couple of the resulting images.

I will have to do some searching of the photo files to see if I can find some photos that meet the needs of the other categories. For now, enjoy the signs of early spring in the Pacific Northwest.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Blog Challenge #9: Good Things

Oops, with the kids home for the rest of the week the internet has fallen to the wayside. I failed to post my good things for a couple of days but I did take note of them.

On Wednesday I smiled as I woke up on my schedule, no alarm, no yelling kids, just a stretch and a smile.

Thursday was errand day. It made me smile to find the perfect grouping of beads so I can finish up my charm sets.

Today I smiled with my middle daughter as we played scientist making homemade Easter egg dyes.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Blog Challenge #9: Good Things

Today, so far since it is not completely over, the thing that made me smile the most was the phone ringing and seeing Matt's cell number come up on the caller ID. I don't care for being a single parent and I miss him when he is gone so it is great to hear his voice and talk a bit about how things are going.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Blog Challenge #9: Good Things

Today's thing that made me smile was my little guy running up to me and giving me hugs just because I was standing there. It was so sweet.

It is time!

It is time that I started taking responsibility for my health. I am not getting any younger so I have to quit assuming that it will all get better on its own. I need to lose a significant amount of weight. I need to incorporate regular exercise into my routine. I also need to start eating more healthily. But I know that I can't do everything at once or I will get overwhelmed. Baby steps, baby steps. So today's baby step was to get some exercise. I did 20 minutes on the treadmill. I did a bit of the couch to 5k by doing some jogging and then walking. Woohoo.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Blog Challenge #9: Good Things

I have to get in the rhythm of doing these challenges as soon as they are posted so I quit missing them. This week the challenge is posted by Melissa in Waco.

This week, my challenge to you is to blog one thing, each day, that has brought a smile to your face. Could be something as simple as the first bloom of spring, a silly comment from a child, or a blessing you've received. As I read through the prayer requests on ScrapShare, many of us are facing what seem to be insurmountable odds. I've had a hard time recently focusing on the joys in my life and have been letting our problems bring me down. I'm not suggesting we ignore issues; rather, let's find a piece of joy in each day.

Since this is a daily challenge there will be a number of posts to the blog this week. I agree with Melissa that we all tend to be focusing on the problems and negatives in our lives right now. I certainly am. The negatives would take volumes to document right now but the goal is to focus on the positive.

So my positive for the day is the fact that Matt and I had a nice morning together before he left for his business trip, the 4-H meeting went well and the kids did really well getting along with each other and me. Another positive is that I had a really good talk with my friend. I like it when that happens.

See ya tomorrow for more positives.

A Day of Celebration

Yesterday was a day of celebration and of remembrance. The celebration was for Matt's great-great aunt. She turned 100 and of course we all had to celebrate. The remembrance was of Matt's Grandmother who was the niece of the Birthday Girl. Grandma Shirley passed away on Leap Day this year.

Aunt Melba is a interesting lady. She has lived a fabulous life. Her husband was a "designer to the stars". He designed furniture for stars and movie sets. Melba and Ray created a fabulous collection of antiques and Chinese pottery. Walking into her condo after she moved north to Vancouver was like walking into a Chinese Museum. It was amazing. Now she lives rather independently in a retirement/care facility. She has her special companions, a couple of dogs that live with her in her apartment. The facility is beautiful and the staff takes wonderful care of their residents.

It is really inspiring to see someone who has lived a full 100 years and is still going strong as Melba is. For me it was a bit bittersweet as I could not help but see the contrast between Melba still going strong at 100 and my grandmother struggling at 95.

All in all, though there were some tears and a few moments of sad reflection, it was a beautiful day to celebrate 100 years of life.

Friday, March 14, 2008

March 12th

For this edition of the 12 of 12, I am featuring what I like to call Wacky Wednesday.

Wacky Wednesday started out with a left behind child. Why was the child left behind you ask? Awww because of the missing shoe. You will note that this picture is of only one shoe. It's mate is missing resulting in the child being left behind when the school bus (also known in this house as Daddy's car) left. The left behind child had been given plenty of warnings. She was told to be at the car by XX or the school bus was leaving. She had been told that shoes put in the shoe box will still be in the shoe box when they are needed again. Alas, the school bus driver did not notify the mommy of this impending change in routine. If he had, the mommy would have been prepared. As it was the mommy was totally shocked to be awoken to "Mommy will you take me to school?" Upon spying the clock and determining that the left behind child was already 15 minutes late for school, the mommy went a little ballistic on the phone to the school bus driver. Then, upon remembering that said left behind child was supposed to be going on a field trip, the mommy quickly called the school to find out that the field trip bus had already left. At this point, the mommy decided that she agreed with the school bus driver that the left behind child needed to be taught that the world does not move on her pokey schedule and it is no fun to being home for an unscheduled holiday. So the left behind child was sent to her room under instructions to sit on her bed and stare at the wall or clean said room. Either choice was acceptable to the mommy, leaving the bedroom was not.
Meanwhile the mommy decided it was time to tackle the laundry basket. The pile was giving off avalanche warnings and something simply had to be done. After that, the mommy decided that some other cleaning was in order so she tackled that while still fuming about the school bus driver's lack of communication skills. While still fuming and contemplating her next move in cleaning the mommy had the living daylights scared out of her when a little bitty mouse ran across the living room right past her. Now the mommy really, really hates icky mice. That is one of the many reasons that the mommy puts up with having to clean the litter box for the living mouse catching device that lives in her house. Note the look of innocent curiosity on her face. What is all the fuss about, she seems to be asking.

The fuss, my dear little black furball, is about the RODENT running around my living room. Quit looking at me and go catch it!She did not seem to understand the message and just followed the mouse around the living room so I had to deal with it resulting in upended and rearranged furniture. Believe me, this is not how my living room normally looks. After some more shreaking resulted in the left behind child coming from her room to determine the cause the little bitty mouse was finally captured in an overturned box and removed from the living quarters. After that the mommy and the left behind child with the hinderance of the 3 year old set upon cleaning out from under the couch. It was, afterall, moved out of the way already.
Following the cleaning, rearranging of furniture, lunch and banishment of the left behind child back to her room, the mommy sat down with her trusty Becky Higgins sketches to try to find the perfect one for this month's 12 of 12 layout, all the while hoping that this door would stay closed.

For this is the door to the 3 year old's bedroom. Said 3 year old really, really needs a nap and does not want to stop moving long enough to take one. Ugghh, the mommy is tired of going back to this door over and over.Once the door stays closed, the mommy sits down to some well-earned rest and relaxation with her scrapbooking layout. This layout is from the mommy's birthday in 2007. The mommy is feeling good, playing with different ideas, trying to make this layout work with the Becky Higgins sketch in sketch challenge #9 on SS when she hears the familiar sound of mail being delivered to the email account. So the mommy trudges over to the family computer to check it out.
Holy, moly, they want to pay what to be able to auction off a marquis spa in the school auction? Out of their minds they are. But wait, here is another email, hmmm, someone would be willing to commit to bidding on such an extravagant purchase at said auction. Oh here is another email and another and another, the mommy finds she is out voted and the spa will be purchased. The mommy sighs and goes back to the scrapbooking table only to hear the front door open to admit the third child, the one who made it into Daddy's school bus on time.
So the mommy goes into homework supervisor/teacher mode. She gets the just-arrived-home-from-school child started on her tasks . The tired, cranky but ever patient mommy gets out the reading tutorial materials to do some reading practice with the left behind child. Since the mommy is in this picture she has to hand the camera off to the just-arrived-home child.Reading practice and math practice with the left behind child goes well so all learning is not lost for the day. Eventually the dreaded sound is heard, the 3 year old is up again. But miracle of miracles he is a happy version of himself. So the afternoon passes pleasantly albeit quickly. Soon this door is opened and the 3 year old child announces.......
"I'm hungry". Hungry, how could you be hungry, the mommy just fed you..... oh wait, maybe not. Rats guess it is getting late. What do you all want for dinner? Leftovers says one. I don't know says another. Alrighty then....
left overs it is. Eat, clean up, shower, brush teeth, go to bed. Awww blessed quiet at last. Off to work on the layout for this day. Hopefully tomorrow will be less wacky and the layout will actually get done by the weekend.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


This is my Grandma about 3.5 years ago. This is how I want to remember her. Spunky, full of life and enjoying her newest great-grandbaby.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Why does it have to be so hard

to say goodbye?

The end of life is a difficult time whether it comes too soon or if it is an extended drawn out event. My grandma is sick. In fact, truth be told she is dying. Albeit slowly but she is dying. She is 95 years old. I love this woman more than I can express and I am heartsick. My gut reaction is that I don't want to go see her. Just writing that down makes it seem worse than it even is in my head. The reality is that if I do go down there it will be to sit and watch her sleep most of the time. When we saw her at Thanksgiving she spent so much time just sleeping or staring off into space. It was so hard to engage her in conversation. I fear that she is suffering. She cannot do anything for herself anymore. She can hardly even hold herself upright. She was just released from the hospital where they determined that she had a minor heart attack last week and that her heart is also not functioning well. The surgery to fix the major issue with the aortic valve would be too much for her. In short her heart is simply wearing out. So on Monday she was discharged home. She is not eating much and if asked just says she is not hungry. Hospice has been called and will be starting care on Friday. Mom said that the caregiver told her that grandma had a hard time coughing today and brought up a bunch of stuff from her lungs. It appears that possibly congestive heart failure is setting in. The caregivers are letting her sleep as much as she wants, not waking her to get her to eat or whatever. I realize this is the end of life's road but why does it have to be so hard?

I love my grandma so very much. I feel so guilty for feeling this way. I was there within hours of my grandfather dying but had to leave before he actually passed on. Really I should go down. Maybe I will change my mind when my brother gets here. I know that he wants to be down there. Right now he is stuck in a class he needs to get finished for his job. I hope he gets to see her. Mom has been holding off letting him know just how bad grandma is so he will concentrate on his class. He is stressed to the max already because he is changing jobs, trying to get his house ready to sell and find a new one to buy in a town several hours away from where he currently lives.

As I sit here typing this, I find myself second guessing. This is such a hard decision. I love grandma and would love to be able to go down and sit with her chatting and playing cards like we used to. But those days are long past. Furthermore, none of us have a crystal ball. We have no reliable way to predict how long she will be with us.

Mom was so understanding when I voiced my feelings tonight but still I find myself second guessing. Will I regret not having that one last visit or will the memory of her like this haunt me?

Why does this have to be so very hard?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

So I sit here wasting time. There are lots of things that need to be done but I have no gumption to do any of them. Everyone is exhibiting late winter lethargy. It is complicated by a bit of depression at the continued decline of my grandmother. It is clear that it is a matter of time but there is not telling how MUCH time just that her time here is getting short. So my Dad and I celebrated our birthdays last week but nobody has any gumption or enthusiasm to go out to dinner or anything. The change in the clocks is not helping. Hmmmm, we are gonna have fix this. I am just not sure how.

So I sit here listening to college baseball, watching Mystery Diagnosis, cruise the net and think about what to do next.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Birthday wishes

Tomorrow is my 34th birthday. It is amazing to me really. I mean seriously, wasn't just yesterday that I was 18 and heading off to college with all those plans and dreams?

I have to say that I am proud of what has come and gone. I have a lovely family, a nice home and friends, activities to keep me busy and places to just be. I have many things to be thankful for. I have few regrets. I can sit here and look back and be happy with what the last 14 years have brought me.

The recent loss of DH's grandmother and the deterioration of my own grandmother's health combined with my birthday have caused me to stop and think a bit about what I want from the years to come. What do I want my children to see and experience while I still have them with me? What do I want my future to look like? What do I want the kids' futures to look like?

My oldest will be turning 12 this summer. I have such a short time left to help her become the person I think she can be. She has issues that need addressing. How do I address them and help her change and grow into a better person? Don't get me wrong, she is a lovely child with many good qualities. She is everyone's friend, a relatively good student, fairly confident in herself and her abilities. But she has one irritating, annoying and potentially damaging personal flaw. She lies. She lies to her dad and to me. The lies can be big, like saying she fed her pets when she actually has not, or small like admitting she did something annoying but insignificant. We have yet to find her ticket or currency. That one little thing that will trigger something inside of her to tell the truth all the time, even when the truth has consequences. So that is something I want to work on with her. I want her to be a confident, truthful young lady.

My middle one is turning 8 next month. She has her own struggles and I worry about her as well. She is working so hard to learn to read well though she is not loving the process. I want her to succeed with this and not suffer from some of the problems her sister did. I want her to see the possibilities open to her. I want to instill in her a love of learning, travel and exploration. I want to take her places and experience things with her. Really that is what I want for all of my kids.

Then there is my little one. He will turn 4 this year. It is so hard to believe. He is growing up so fast. Already he has nearly a year of preschool under his belt. He is learning his letters and sounds. I want to help him explore his world and everything in it. I want to teach him to love learning and school now so he does not struggle with it as I see some of the boys at school are now.

Okay that takes care of my immediate hopes for my kids. So what about me? That is what this post was supposed to be about after all. What are my goals for myself? I already posted about goals and dreams in one of the SS blog challenge posts. So has anything changed in the last couple weeks? Not really. I still have the same issues and blocks. I still have the same limited vision when it comes to myself and my future. But with recent events I have spent more time thinking about it. So what do I want? I want to pay off our debts so we can live on the income we have instead of spending it all on paying off our past life. I am not sure how to go about this. I can't see getting a job because there are so many things I do for the kids that Matt either can't or won't do. These things are important to them becoming the well-rounded adults I foresee them being. Hmmmm..... I am nearly 34 years old and I don't want to be an adult anymore. It takes too much work. I don't want to make decisions. I know realistically that I can't quit. I know that I have to make the tough decisions to help my family's future. I have to find a way to pay for the things I want, like my football tickets, the payment for which is due soon, while working to pay down the debts we have accumulated. I just have not come up with any good ideas on how to do that. I have to figure out a way to live within Matt's paycheck. There has to be a way to do it.

So what does all this rambling lead me to? I want to enjoy my life. I want to be more proactive in taking care of my family. To do that I need to take care of myself. I also need to answer some hard questions.

What am I willing to do to help the financial picture we have?

Am I ready to give up the dream of one more baby?

What do I want for myself?

Oh I hate self-analysis. I usually do not like the picture I see. I am naturally lazy and I know that. I don't work hard enough to overcome that. My house and my body both show the results of that. It is time to turn over a new leaf. Tomorrow is my birthday but there is no reason to wait until then. So I started this morning. I stayed off the computer until I had done some housework. Now my living room looks so much better with everything picked up off the floor. There is still a bit of vacuuming to be done and the coffee table needs to be cleared but the important thing is I took a baby step. I did something to make something in my life better.

I don't think any of this post made any sense but it will have to do for now. The dryer has notified me that it needs my attention.