Friday, September 21, 2007

Brotherly Love

Haven't been to Philly lately, but I have been thinking a lot about my brother. Don't know why. Probably because it's been a while since we've seen each other (since he's seen anyone but Kesia *smile*). Probably because I've been hanging out with my dad and doing family history stuff. Probably because I've been reading Trev's blog (The Next Thing, see link to the left)...
Anyway, my thoughts of him led me on a trip down memory lane through my photo box. Yep. I still have one of those. At least it's not a shoebox!

So I just thought I would share some of the memories with you. Not that I really have any TRUE memory of these events, but the photos are very familiar to me!

This is Christmas 1976. The first in the "new" house which I live in now...for at least a little bit longer. (and yes, Tena, the spelunkers seem to be visible in this shot! So typical, eh?)
This is in Holland MI at "Tulip Time". I'm guessing this was prior to the photo above...we look so young!
I'm not sure of the occasion, but I swear to you I was just asking my dad less than a week ago if he remembered this Safari toy set, and now I have a picture to prove WE really had this! Or maybe it was Trev's and I just played with it against his wishes...who knows? I just know I played with it a lot in our tire sandbox out back!
(footnote: please ignore the fact that I'm in my underwear. PS - Thanks, Mom (or Dad)!!)
Here we are in Storybook Gardens in 1977. We are supposed to be Goldilocks. I think Trevor was whispering to me that the bear was going to get me or something. But this appears to be before his lovingly vindictive years, so maybe he was reassuring me that the bears were fake.
Here we are going over Niagara Falls! No barrel or anything! Weren't we BRAVE?!? Trevor appears to have started his love for surfing earlier than I had remembered, and I my fear of the water! This was on our big trip to NY to visit my dad's uncle LeRoy. We went with my mom and dad, my aunt and uncle, who, perhaps weren't even married yet?, and the two of us in...oh, what was that car?...I think it was a Datsun. Yes, that's it. A tiny Datsun. And I do have a few sketchy actual memories of this trip - heat rash and chiclet gum from a gumball machine at the clothing store where my aunt worked. YUM!
I hope you enjoyed the memories. Perhaps I will get some more of these pics scanned and post them later on. Until next time...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

9 years ago today...

9 years ago today, my whole life changed. I guess it started the day before, really, when I went to the doctor for my 13 week checkup and they couldn't find a heartbeat for my precious baby (above is the xray they took to confirm the worst. She's there in the middle. No more life in her).
But today...September was the day my baby was ripped from my womb with the instruments of torture that most pro-choice advocates have never had the pleasure of actually encountering. It wasn't the pain of those that hurt the most, though - they gave me drugs for that. No, the real pain came from the resulting emptiness.
Not just in my womb, but in my heart.
I remember so many details about that day. Isn't that funny? I can't remember many of the joyous days since, but this day, I remember the sights, the sounds, the words, the expressions, the ache, the pain, the sadness.
I haven't done too much dwelling on this in the last few years. For some reason, it's really getting to me this year.
I want to write about all the good things that have come because of my experience - and many things have, surprisingly - but today all I feel is the grief, the empty arms, the heavy burden. Maybe I can write about the good things tomorrow.
Precious Rachael Elizabeth, Mommy loves you. I look forward to hugging you in heaven.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Berets, Keys, Remotes, and Prodigals

Every year in France there's a beret throwing contest. That's a hat, for those of you who aren't in the know. The object is to see who can throw the beret the farthest. So, it's that time. People have come from all over Europe to watch the event. The crowd is screaming in anticipation- they all are rooting for their favorite beret-thrower. Suddenly, a hush comes over the crowd as the first beret thrower steps onto the field. He warms up a bit - pretend throws, arm circles, that kind of thing. He winds up; he throws. The beret fetchers run out to the place where the beret lands with their measuring sticks. It's about 200 yards. Wow! That's quite a ways for a felt hat! The beret fetchers walk back and give the beret to the next guy (this is a very special beret - it's not like they have these on every street corner). This guy looks confident. I bet he makes it farther than the last one. Sure enough, after a few warm-ups of his own, he tosses it 220 yards. Amazing! The beret fetchers run the beret back this time (the French are an impatient bunch). But then out comes the third guy. He's a big guy, so it's possible his throw could be the best. He doesn't even warm up. That's a bad sign. But off the beret sails. Into the wild blue yonder. Sails effortlessly...we watch in slow motion as it goes 200 yards, 220, then...wait! What?!? Where did it go?! He threw it so far...he lost it!

I guess it loses a little in the writing, but this was my favorite joke when I was a kid. I laughed so hard. I mean, he lost it! Are you kidding? Hilarious! And yet so sad...he lost it. It was the special beret that was only used once a year in the contest, and he LOST it!

At church today we heard about the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin. If these are important to the shepherd and the woman, respectively, and they go to what some would call extreme measures to find their lost items, just imagine how important the lost people are to God and how hard he "searches" for them.

I'm quite familiar with loss. Aside from the babies that were never born here on earth, I'm prone to losing things. Most would argue that of all things I've lost, it's my mind they miss the most. Haha. But seriously, every day it seems I'm looking for something that I haven't seen in a few days. You would think some organization would help, but my attempts at organization tend to just make compacted piles of junk to look through.

I'm sure some of the lesson we are to learn from the Bible is in working your best to not lose things - to organize things and to teach people so as to prevent loss in the first place. But let's concentrate on what we do when things are beyond help and they go "missing."

Three years ago, we bought a used car. We had to drive separately to pick it up so we could drop off the trade-in. The next day, my keys were nowhere to be found. I know I used them to drive us home, but I hadn't seen them since. I searched for days. Chip even helped. To no avail. I had new keys made and decided it would be ok to not have the others, even though I had some irreplaceable keys on them (so I don't scare people, I won't say how many of their house keys were on the ring!).

Two years ago, I was working. My cousin babysat Sean for me while Chip and I were at work. Somehow in the course of one of those days, she and Sean were playing while watching TV and lost the remote control. This was a special remote control that we got when we signed up for cable, and it was $50 to replace it. Well, we couldn't find the remote anywhere! We looked high and low, moved furniture, and ransacked the whole house for it, but that remote was gone. Figuring it got thrown out with the trash, we ended up buying a cheap universal remote that luckily worked with our cable system.

The point is, I mourned these losses. Just about every time I used my new keys or my new remote, I thought about the missing ones and wondered where they could be and how I could possibly have lost them so easily.

I'm sure you have some stories like that...things just go missing and there's no finding them.
My replacements, while useful, didn't seem good enough. The features weren't as good or as easy, and I couldn't get into some places...and my cute pig key chain was gone!

Since you probably think my sense of humor is terrible, let me redeem myself with another story.

My friend wanted to ask his girlfriend to marry him, but he wanted it to be memorable. He booked a cruise for the two of them across the Atlantic, a trip she'd always wanted to take, and then they would spend some time in Europe. Once on the boat, he worked out a plan with the kitchen staff to put the engagement ring in the lobster one night at dinner. It was her favorite meal, and he thought it would be a perfect surprise!
The night finally arrived, and they got all dolled up for the "captain's meal." He told his girlfriend how beautiful she looked in her red dress (I'm sure he also graced her with a low whistle - do I read too many romance novels?), and escorted her to dinner. He had butterflies in his stomach knowing that this would be a real moment of truth. He thought she loved him, but would she take the plunge? Would she agree to marry him? And if not, it was a smallish ship...what would they do then? She already knew so many of his flaws...
But there were no flaws with the dinner. The champagne was wonderful, the Hors d' oeuvres, exquisite (gosh, I had to spell check that one - I like calling them horsie doovers better!). The salad had just the right amount of dressing, and no yucky cukes. Now, though, it was about time for the lobster course, and he was sweating and shaking during the conversation. His girl even asked if he might be getting a bit seasick or something! The waiter arrived just then with the lobster. It looked so yummyand perfect! He waited while she cracked open the lobster...and then fainted. Because the ring wasn't there. But there was still something...could it be? Yes, it truly was! The beret the guy lost!

Oh, in my youth it was a grand thing that I had such a strong bladder or I would have wet myself I laughed so hard at that! My sense of humor is definitely warped, and I know I probably didn't redeem myself, but I couldn't help it.

I do have a point, though.

About a year or so ago, I was looking for, well, I can't remember what now, I think maybe some jewelry or some money, and I looked in an old basket. I saw something shiny and pulled it out - and it was the key ring I had lost! I laughed and laughed, thinking of the beret joke, and then I celebrated the return of my keys! I think I'm still dancing over those!

Last weekend, I couldn't find my camera. Did I mention I lose things a lot? I wanted to take some pics to post on my blog because Sophie was being adorable. I knew it was home because Chip had used it to show someone some pictures a couple of days before (when the house had been clean). But I just wasn't having any luck! In a moment of weakness, I offered Sean a dollar if he found it. He was ecstatic - woohoo! a whole dollar! So he started looking and I sat down for a minute. I could feel him messing around near the back of my chair (recliner). In just a couple minutes, he said, "Well, Mom, I found something, but it wasn't a camera!" and held up his prize. I turned around, sure I would see some kind of crumb of food - perhaps popcorn - and burst out laughing! For in his small little hand was the remote control we had searched so diligently for almost two years ago! I laughed and laughed...and gave him TWO dollars for that find!

Oh yes, and about an hour later, I found the camera. Luckily I didn't have to wait years for that to re-surface!

How much do we rejoice when the inconsequential things we "need" so badly in our earthly lives are found?
I dance. I laugh. I sing. I jump around. I party!
And yet, so much more rejoicing happens in heaven when God's missing sheep are found. When we give up on ever touching a lost soul, God keeps searching. All resources are used. We may not see the behind-the-scenes efforts that take place, the angels sent for a purpose, the love lavished. But one day, when it's least expected, when you're looking for something else, perhaps... the soul finds his or her way HOME! What a feast awaits! A party! Invite everyone to celebrate, and maybe they'll be found, too.

You could be one of the behind-the-scenes efforts for someone God loves. Are you open to taking the time for a search-and-rescue mission? Have you given up? Or do you have more pressing things to search for, like a remote?...

That's what I got out of today's message, even though it quite possibly wasn't even the direction the paster took - sometimes it doesn't matter if you're listening, as long as you get some meaning out of it.
Right, Mom?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Baby Steps

Earlier tonight, we all went for a walk. Well, except Sean. He drove his Hummer!
Sophia even walked! She didn't want to stay in her stroller!
Dad was a big help with her wish to walk, since she's just a hair shy of being able to do it on her own...for more than 3-4 steps anyway.

Am I adorable or what?!?

This was sort of an action shot, as she was trying to walk to me as I was taking the photo.
This was Sophie having a fit because Dad picked her up to put her in the stroller for the return walk. She was not having any of the stroller, and she screamed and screamed. Dad and Sean got to continue their walk to the gas station for a slushie, so I walked back by myself. Luckily about halfway home, after alternating between having her help me push the stroller, carrying her screaming squirming self, and letting her scream IN the stroller, I remembered the cracker sticks that I had packed and she quieted right down! I think she was even close to sleeping by the time I finally made it home with her. After I got her in jammies, she settled right down and was out!

She's not really enjoying the fact that I'm back at work, I don't think. Her naps are rather sporadic, and she's into screaming much more lately. But it's nice to come home and see her face light up and her reach for me for a great big hug! Sean even likes to see me when I get home...for about 3 seconds!

Here's a picture of HIM on tonight's outing. In my defense, the walk was to the playground, so he did actually exercise!

Hoping for a dreamless sleep

Have you ever had a dream that was so real that it affected your day, maybe your week, maybe even your year? Last night I had that dream. I don't know for how long it will affect me, but I know it was real enough to really spook me.
I wish I knew what brought it on. I dreamed about an evil person in my life who came back and haunted me as a ghost. Odd enough, this person claimed to be haunted for years by a ghost. I really hope I am not a new generation to be haunted. In the name of Jesus, get thee behind me! Seriously. I thought you had no power over me. Is it an odd fascination/horror for the unexplainable that has me dreaming this? I don't know. Perhaps it was just a bit of undigested beef, a bit of mustard, or an underdone potato. I did eat at Culver's the night before. Hmmm...
Anyway, I just thought I would get that down. I mean, it was in color and everything. And I haven't seen The Sixth Sense in years! Why last night? Why was the person just staring at me? At least there was no gore.
Where was I? Freaky. I think I'll turn on the lights a minute. There. That's better. But I still think it's better to go on to a new topic. Let me make a new post. Don't want to tarnish pictures here.
Here's to sweet dreams tonight!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

soul sisters

Sophia & Jes

Even though they are only technically cousins,

Sophie and Jes are sisters of the soul!

They have lots of fun together,

and we are glad she lives so nearby so she can visit often.

Too bad she doesn't get to come here for school this year...

Kids and Kittens

I'm not sure why kids and kittens think this is so much fun, but I do know that I need to keep the bathroom door closed from now on!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Week in Review

It's been a busy week. Here's an update:

I started a new job a week ago. It's part time, but every day, and I'm doing a lot of online training at home, too. I'm working a lot in Excel and I feel like I'll be pretty proficient in that program before long (the temp agency thought that I did well in the initial testing - 84 or something like that - and I knew so much less then!), but it's a lot of work doing the tutorials and looking for ways for the new learning to fit into what we do there.
It's a neat job. I've never really been in "corporate America" before. I'm right in the heart of the city and have to worry about parking, and the company is one of the top ten accounting/consulting firms in the country with offices all over. It's cool, but I feel a bit like a fish out of the tank. Glug, glug. Everyone I've met is nice, but I'm really glad I'm getting along with and getting to know the two gals I work with/for most. They are great!

Chip passed his test on Thursday, so now he's officially a "Certified Project Manager" and hopefully someone around here will hire him because I don't REALLY want to go so far away from family, and I really like my job and all my co-workers...but if I have to go, I guess Tampa's not too bad, and not much more than an hour away from the happiest place on earth (which I could use a bit of right about now!).

Sophie's taking more and more steps on her own (but she likes to dive into us better than walking to us), and she's taking after me more and more each day, which of course you know is not a good thing! :) She is very LOUD. I'm going to have to start wearing earplugs if I don't want damage!!
Her chatter makes people laugh, though. It's so adorable. She says many of the same sounds over and over again, so we know she's trying to tell us something. Maybe one day I'll figure out how to post a video here so you can hear her, too.
Besides her volume, her hair also seems to be from my side of the family. It is growing longer and is still fine, so it sticks up in all directions a lot of the time.

Sean started first grade this week. Tuesday was good; every day after that he asked us to call him in sick! Friday he even had specifics - "My head's hot!". "Yes, Sean, it's 90 humid degrees. Of course your head's hot. Get out from under the covers and get dressed. In your shorts." He's a real card. We're working on the bedtime and hoping that's the issue. Of course, they're also reviewing the alphabet, and numbers up 'til 10, both of which he's known since he was 3, so boredom is quite possibly an issue. He said his Tuesday Spanish class was "stupid" because he just listened and then drew a picture of his house (he didn't even laugh when I said No - you drew a picture of your CASA!). Gym on Wednesday was boring because he only got to do "rubberband warmups" and didn't get to do anything fun. He liked music class on Thursday and says he has a silly teacher who tucked the banjo back into "bed" when he put it in the case, and talked to it and said it could come back out soon. He must have had a special class on Friday, too, but I don't remember what it was. I'll have to ask and keep you posted. "Oh, it was art", he says. "It was stupid. Actually, it was fun. It was fun stupid. It was fupid." His exact words. "We just drew lines with black paint. Zigzag, curvy, strait, and diagonal." "The teacher said we had to carry our pictures by the corners to the drying table, because it was by a fan and if we didn't hold the corners, it would fly into our faces and get black lines on our face."

We've also had grandmas on both sides go to the hospital this week. One is home and doing better. Gram "Kraaker", however, just seems to keep getting weaker and weaker. If it's not one thing, it's something else. Her visits are getting more and more frequent, and sadly, it seems she may have lost her fighting spirit. I think we'll see if she's up to visitors sometime this weekend.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

My First Grader

Sean began his first day of 1st Grade on a good note...we got lost. Well, we technically knew where WE were, but we couldn't find his teacher. I guess they think that after Kindergarten, parents automatically know where their kids are supposed to go. We walked in with such confidence that the ten or so "helpers" didn't even bother to ask us why we were wandering around inside while all the other kids were outside. We're just goofy. But at least we finally found his teacher's line, and we got to get a picture of him in front of his room while we were looking for everyone!
He says he's not a first grader anymore - he's a pre-second grader. Isn't that great?! One day in class and he figures he knows it all.
Oh, and in case you wonder, the lovely flame-covered item in the photos is Sean's test divider. Since the kids sit at tables, they need a way to have privacy when taking tests. Sean picked out his own fabric to cover it (and boy was that an ordeal...he wanted one of each fabric (especially fond of ones with skeletons, and the flaming skeletons especially - I told him the girls at the table would be too scared to take tests with that cover) and then he wanted me to buy fabric for a blanket...maybe next time). Of course, he had some help from dad, but I think it's pretty cool.
The highlights, according to Sean:
*He didn't get to eat his pudding because they wouldn't let him have a spork since he didn't pay for hot lunch (never fear, he ate it for an after-school snack!).
*Math was easy - 1+1, 2+2, and 3+3
*Taylor (one of his female tablemates) called him "a turd" (I really wish I had been there to hear why, but I'm laughing anyway...)
*The fire truck on the playground was "cautioned off" because too many kids were getting stung by bees
*He made a calendar
*The teacher kept getting Hannah and Anna confused (poor teacher!)

That's about all I know about it - he was too busy playing to find out much more. He seemed to be having a great time, and I'm excited to hear more each day.


The post below where I finally figured out the picture thing features photos taken on August 24, 2007 at our "local" Children's Museum (which, for the record, we love a WHOLE TON more than the Mid-Hudson in Poughkeepsie - no offense). Sean and Mom got to enjoy special time together (and Jessica came along, too) while Dad and Gramma Marcia took Sophia to the library.
Sean had great fun, and I enjoyed getting to spend all my energy on him.

Picasa unwrapped?!?

Is this my early birthday present? Did I finally figure this thing out?
It took me a bit of rearranging and things, but I think I've finally gotten the hang of "embedding a slide show" into this blog. I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

NOT My Friend Flickr

This is even worse than picasa, because the "code" I'm supposed to copy is full of HTML errors, and I am definitely WAAAAAY out of my league trying to fix it! But, the link may possibly still take you to the pics I wanted you to see if you feel like clicking on it. I am way too tired to deal with this any more tonight (today) and I hear Sophie crying, anyway.

*original post*
I trying it out! I hope it works, but I'm still looking for something better. I need to check out "CompassPointe" again (see link on top left of my blog) to see if I can find out how she does it!
In the meantime, enjoy Sophie and her first "stand on my own" moments from a month or so ago. She was standing long enough to clap, even. Now, of course, she is standing a lot (she likes to do "look ma, no hands" to us), and she's even taking a step or two a day. I'm too tired to work on this anymore, but hopefully I'll be back later today.

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from seasawmama. Make your own badge here.

So here's another option with "regular" Picasa photo software. I'm still working on the web album, but this is kinda fun, too. Click on the photo to enlarge and see all the frivolity at the fun center in (or near) Kinderhook, NY.
Here's my description of each photo, left to right, top to bottom:
Sean checking the lie of his ball, Dad and kids, the Water Tag sign (it was too warm for Laser Tag, but I believe Sean will agree that we had plenty of fun shooting water instead of laser beams!), Dad with Sophie eating our golf balls, Sean enjoying tag with me, Sophie still enjoying the golf balls, go-kart riding (he got to ride a double one with Dad, too), everyone except me, Sophie eating the golf club, more fun water shots, Dad golfing (does he get a handicap for holding the baby?), and then for some reason, the top row again. What fun. I'll figure this out SOMEday!
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