Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Notes of interest (or not)

  • Isaac is totally back to himself praise the Lord! He appears to be feeling fantastic.
  • Went to the dentist yesterday. Everything looks great! So nice to not have any medical drama -- just a routine visit.
  • Played a joke on JB last night. Took his very important papers that have a bunch of original signatures on them and hid them so he'd think I accidentally threw them away. (I randomly throw away important things fairly regularly so he totally believed this was an actual possibility.) JB did not and I repeat did not think that this joke was in anyway remotely funny. He paniced. I laughed. He didn't.
  • I am leaving for Fort Lauderdale on Sunday morning! I will be spending two weeks there while JB is on nights. We will miss JB but are really excited to get to spend time with our family. Scrubs is going to stay at dog camp while I am gone as JB can't watch him on nights and taking him and both boys would just be too much for me.
  • It's fall! One great thing about living in Florida but not south Florida is that we get a really nice fall here as far as temperatures are concerned. No big foliage changes but just some really nice cooler temperatures. Today the boys wore long pants and long shirts and socks! Isaac wasn't too keen on long shirts. You can tell he doesn't wear them very often.
  • Is it just me or does cold weather cause animals, primarily one large Dalmatian, to get a little "giddy"? I have heard this was true. It must be. No matter how much exercise I give Scrubby, he just continues to not follow rules to his normal ability.

I'll end today's post with a fun video of Isaac and "Bubby" which features Isaac's new fascination with Mickey Mouse (whom he calls "Minnie"), his compulsion to share with Bubby, and he and Bubby's mutual agreement on licking. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A little bit trickier

My life has gotten a little bit trickier.

Crawling has done one thing in our house. Less fussing. Elijah seems so happy to be able to get where he wants. He seems so at peace with his new freedom.

He follows Isaac everywhere and can move quite fast. Isaac has also regressed to crawling a lot again so he can be on the same level and operating at the same speed as his little brother. Sometimes Elijah uses the lunge and flop method but he can also crawl like a "regular" baby as well. He'll crawl from the Tupperware cabinet, to the computer, back to the nursery, under the kitchen table . . . basically, everywhere. He can pull up pretty regularly now but sometimes doesn't know how to sit back down. Today I found him in the nursery standing up, feet flat on the ground, with his hands flat on a basket, and his butt straight up in the air. He was completely stuck. Couldn't stand up any farther, didn't know how to sit down. And Isaac trying to figure out how to move this little guy so he could continue to roll his cars on the basket.

While I am happy that he is more content, I feel like I am having a little trouble adjusting to this stage in our home. Suddenly I have two little babies going everywhere. If I close all the doors in the hallway except the door to Isaac's nursery and shut the gate to the kitchen, the entire area is childproof. This works pretty well. I can also shut the door to the nursery if I want them even more contained.

However, Isaac is able to handle a lack of containment. He knows the rules and boundaries. So he wants more freedom. He wants to be able to go into the kitchen and see Scrubs. He likes to play by himself in his room.

Elijah however doesn't understand boundaries and is at that age where saying "no" might as well be saying "I love you." It means nothing to him. Of course, I keep saying it, keep moving him away from the item off limits, and keep knowing that one day it will register. But for now, it doesn't. He loves to grab onto the vertical blinds and rip them out -- we've lost three already. He will touch any outlet he can get to. Of course they are covered, but we still go with a firm "no" for those. Today I must not have shut the bathroom door all the way. I thought he was in the nursery and found him in the bathroom! Not good at all. Ugh.

Scrubs complicates things as well. Actually it isn't Scrubs as much as it is the boys tormenting him. If I let him out with the boys, then I have to watch three "people." If I shut him in the kitchen, one of the boys inevitably comes up to the gate, begging to get in to see Scrubs. If I go into the kitchen to get anything, they come to the gate, begging to be let in. Isaac has limited signs and vocabulary so he likes to show me things. If he wants to show me something in the kitchen that he wants to eat, I need to open the gate. Where do I put Scrubs? Where do I put Elijah? The other day I scooped up Elijah and went into the kitchen. Scrubs was on the inside and Isaac on the outside. I must not have shut the gate all the way because when I turned around, they had switched sides. There was Scrubs on the outside and Isaac on the inside. Sneaky little guys!

In addition, big brother, while exhibiting great patience with little brother nearly all the time, sometimes loses that patience. Isaac grows tired of Elijah following him everywhere and wanting to play with everything he is playing with. He looks at me as if to say, "Mom, are you going to do something about this leech or what?!" He very rarely does anything about it except a few cries and sometimes a very light push to back Elijah up.

Isaac also seems to want whatever Elijah is playing with. Today I was reading to Isaac on the couch. Elijah crawled over to Isaac's big car. Suddenly Isaac was crawling off of my lap midbook (something he never does) to get to that car. If Elijah had it, he wanted it.

I feel bad because Isaac can understand "gentle", "wait", "be nice", "share" while Elijah can't. So I keep having to tell Isaac to be gentle, to wait, to be nice, to share, while Elijah grabs at anything and everything he can.

I know that like all other stages we have entered into, I will soon find my groove. I know that Elijah will start understanding "no" and being able to comprehend punishments like Isaac can. (Although our mellow Isaac very rarely needs any consequences -- so far, he's a great listener.) I also know that they will learn to work together. They will become best friends. As JB has told me, they'll be the best of friends and the worst of enemies all wrapped into one.

We weighed the boys today. They both weigh exactly 26.5 pounds. When they are moving around they look like twins. However, if they were twins, they'd be at the same stage. They'd understand the same things. They'd both be able to push each other around. But they aren't twins. They are just a bit apart. And that bit seems to be where the complications are arising.

For now, a few extra prayers muttered in our direction would be fantastic. Just pray that I have wisdom, that I continue to practice playing offense instead of defense, that Scrubs figures out a way to avoid the grasps of two little boys, you know, those types of things.

Don't get me wrong. We are doing fantastic. It isn't totally chaotic all the time. Okay, well maybe it is, but I have a good system, and it is working. I just need to catch onto this stage a little bit more. I feel like I am playing catch up all day long. I'll get there. We'll get there.

And the adventures will continue.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Scuba Day 2

So . . . day 2 of Scuba.

I am happy to report that I am officially scuba certified. JB is, of course, recertified as well.

I am sad to report that my experience on day 2, however, was nearly worse than my first.

Low tide came in at 3am. So our only choice was to scuba at high tide. That was about 4pm. Unfortunately, the current was inconceivably strong. We were fighting against it the whole time. We have to complete certain tasks to be certified and it was all we could do to get to a spot on the bottom and complete one before someone got caught in the current and dragged ten feet backwards.

I was so frustrated. I was thinking to myself, "I will never do this again." JB basically had to pull me from spot to spot. One of the instructors gave me more weight to try to help me from floating away. JB was frustrated too. Not at me but at the situation. He was trying so hard to help me fight the current that he was equally exhausted. The instructors were frustrated. Everyone was frustrated.

The current was so bad that at one point the instructors said we just couldn't possibly finish our certification there. They said we'd have to go back to the murky waters of the bay we had been at the day before. I almost started to cry. Get out of all our equipment, walk ten minutes back to our cars, load up our cars, get back in our cars, drive to a new location, and suit up again to get back in that low visibility bay. Oh my goodness! Thankfully, we found a spot that was a little less strong and managed to finish up in the ocean.

John was disappointed that I didn't get to experience diving. He said that these were the two worst dives he has ever been on. I have told him that while I did not really enjoy myself and I nearly broke down in tears, I am determined to give this sport a fair shot. So I'll scuba at least one day in Mexico. If we have a beautiful day with perfect conditions and I still don't enjoy it, then I'll know. But I figure I can't quit before I even get a chance to get started.

Either way, I am certified. Go me!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A post from the pup

Finally! I have been lying on my bed in the kitchen watching my person type on that computer-thing for months. Make that years. I finally got it down and snagged it and took over and decided it was time you heard from me, the dog, Scrubs. (aka: The Scrubinator, Bubby, Trouble, Stubborn, Get out of my way) . . . Call me whatever you want. It's time I spoke my mind.

Two and a half years ago, I came into the house an eight week old puppy. I ruled the roost. I ran the show. I slept where I wanted. I relaxed where I wanted. I played where I wanted. I ate where I wanted.

Then, all of a sudden. An Intruder. Okay so he's cute and he smells and tastes good and I really do like him, but still, an Intruder. Just a few months later? Another Intruder! I'm still trying to figure him out, but I think I like him too. It's just, well, they cramp my style.

For instance, take a look at these pictures my person took of me yesterday afternoon.

Here I am, taking a nice nap. I won't even get into the fact that there is no where in this stinkin' house that I can lie down where there aren't toys. That's a whole 'nother story. What I will say is that despite this, Intruder #1's kitchen really is a good place to rest my head. Everything is so peaceful even though I barely have a spot to lay down. And then, suddenly . . .

How rude! Da-da decides to tickle Intruder #1 and wake me up from my nap! This is not unusual. Da-da and Isaac wrestle a lot. Sheesh! How am I supposed to get any rest?

Not only was I woken up by the noise. But then Intruder #1 decides to try and lay on top of me. This is not unusual. He likes to ride me like a horse, lay on top of me, crawl under me, pull my tail, stick his arm up my throat, and tug on my ears. And . . . get this. I am not supposed to lick or mouth him at all. Are you kidding me?! The good thing though about Intruder #1 is, he feeds me food. A lot. My person has started separating us when food is involved because we have figured out how to do it on the sly and stop as soon as she is watching. She says this causes me to wake up in the middle of the night with an upset stomach. But that food is worth it!! Intruder #1 and I have become good buddies even though he sometimes abuses me a bit.

I'm not really so sure why Intruder #1 laughs at me all the time. But he does. He does this little evil giggle anytime he is around me. My person and Da-da can tell when he is near me because the evil laugh comes out. He gives away our sneakiness with that laugh!

Anyways, that is just a sampling of what I go through in a few mere moments. And that doesn't even include Intruder #2 who is now starting to be able to corner me as well. He likes to grab my tail and try to put it in my mouth. And again, no licking him allowed!

Life has really changed around here. Don't get me wrong. I like my life. And these Intruders bring advantages. For instance, when I get my dog food in the morning and at night, my person uses the old baby food jars to swish water around and put it in my bowl. This adds some great flavors like "strawberry passion" and "Hawaiian delight." Yum. As I mentioned before, I get all kinds of new foods given to me on purpose by intruder #1 or on accident when they are dropped. In addition, intruder #2 is starting to offer me some great food options as well, in addition to his spit up formula that has sustained me thus far.

I also get to play Frisbee in the yard more frequently because my person likes to take a nap because the intruders make her so tired. We play Frisbee and then I agree to settle down and nap with her instead of being annoying (which I have down to a science.)

So I guess, in closing I'll say that the Intruders, while annoying and a bit of a cramp to my style, are cool guys who offer me some good stuff. I think I'll let them stay.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Snakes and Scuba

My adventures with nature began long before I got into the scary ocean this morning. My adventures began an hour earlier. On my way to take Scrubs out to the front yard for some Frisbee (in an effort to wear him out before the babysitter showed up), I happened to find this "little critter" sitting by the front wheel of our van.

Thank goodness I have been training Scrubs to wait to go outside until he is given permission to go outside (instead of busting through the door and nearly knocking me over like he used to do.) If so, we could have had a very sick (or even dead) dog on our hands. Instead, I saw the snake, slammed the door, and like any wife who is married to a man in love with anything having to do with nature or the wilderness yelled, "SNAKE!!!!!"

Actually, now that I think about it . . . I don't think it would have mattered if my husband was interested in snakes or not. He's a man. I'm not. It's his job to take care of a snake. Right?

JB came running. Not out of fear mind you. Out of sheer excitement. This guy loves snakes! Loves animals. Loves anything nature related. JB is "on call" at the hospital if anyone ever comes in with a snake bite. He is currently working on a research project with some of the rangers on base who work with snakes which will test people's ability to recognize poisonous snakes in the wild. We used to have four snakes for crying out loud. (What was I thinking?)

He took one look at the snake and informed me that it was a juvenile cottonmouth which is poisonous. Great. A poisonous snake in our carport. Ugh.

He grabbed a metal bucket and managed to secure the snake underneath the bucket. He then grabbed the keys to the shed and emerged with a secure Tupperware container with holes already poked in the top. (Do you think he has done this before?)

We then had a brief conversation which included me asking him what he was doing, him telling me that he was going to put the snake somewhere safe until he could bring it to the ranger-snake-guys, and me asking him why he just didn't kill it. I should have known better than to ask John that. He looked at me like I suggested we kill a close family member. "Why would I kill it?" he asked. "Because it's poisonous," I replied. "So because he was born with venom, he has to die?" he asked me.

I knew from the tone of his voice that I had majorly insulted him -- and I quickly flashed back to the time that I drowned two little lizards stuck in our bathtub because I didn't know what else to do with them. That had not gone over well. "Lizards?!" he had said when he saw them floating in the bathtub. "They kill bugs! You don't kill lizards!!" And my suggestion that I kill the snake did not go over well either. It was then that my dear husband informed me that we could only kill cockroaches and flies. Nothing else. Reptiles were completely off limits. Even if they could kill us.

"All right. Fine. Keep the poisonous snake. But lock it in the shed," I compromised.

(He did.)

Needless to say, by the time the babysitter showed up, I wasn't exactly in a mellow mood. And now it was time to breathe underwater.

Was I dreading it? Actually, yes. All week, I kept wishing Saturday wouldn't come. I was not looking forward to it all. I was scared. I was nervous. And I didn't want to try to get that wet suit on again.

So, the question everyone wants an answer to. How was it?

Many people had told me that the first time you go underwater, all your nervousness and worry fades away amidst the glorious expanse of the ocean. That the beauty of God's magnificent underwater creations erases any nervousness one has about doing what we were not designed to do. (Breathe underwater.)

That did not happen to me.

Our instructor had told us our two dives would be low visibility. What he didn't tell us until we got there were the details.

We were diving in a bay that was ideal for a "first dive" because it was over 20' deep and the water was very calm. All right. That sounded fine.

What he didn't tell us was the other reason why it was ideal.

"If you can dive here," our instructor said as we made our way into the water, "You can dive anywhere."


In other words, this would be the worst place we ever dive. The visibility was, seriously, four feet. I was holding JB's hand, but I couldn't see him. I couldn't see anything. The idea I guess was to scare us at the beginning. Give us the worst case scenario and see how we do.

Hmmm . . . I wasn't too keen on that plan. And I told our instructor so. (In a nice way of course.)

But, I didn't freak out. I stayed calm. And I made it. I am one day closer to becoming scuba certified.

The moment I went under the water, I felt myself at a crossroads. I could do what would come naturally: panic. I could freak out and say I couldn't do this and make a total fool of myself. Or, I could trust John.

So that's what I did. I decided to hold his hand, let him guide me, and trust that I would be okay. I concentrated on breathing regularly (the most important rule in scuba diving) and staying neutrally buoyant (floating properly in the water which is achieved by inflating or deflating your BCD). I held onto JB and let him guide me. (Or drag me as he told me later. I guess I forgot to swim sometimes.)

I accomplished all the tasks required to continue toward our graduation tomorrow. I flooded my mask. I cleared my mask. I did a controlled ascent. I did a controlled descent. I swam around for twenty-five minutes. I did my "injured diver tow." I took my weight belt on and off. I took my BCD on and off. I cleared my regulator.

But I'll be honest. I did not enjoy it. Not really any of it. As we were driving home, I asked JB if he had fun. I was worried that he was going to say he had the best time. If so, I was hopeless. But he told me that that was not a fun dive. It was a dive to meet our requirements and get us comfortable with bad conditions. It was the worst dive he had ever been on as well. It wasn't a dive designed to have fun. Okay. Good. At least I got that part down. Because I did not have fun.

Tomorrow we will do our last two dives in the ocean in Destin. It is supposed to be beautiful and truly fun and enjoyable. (That's when I am supposed to see the sky open up and realize what I have been missing all my life.) Tomorrow will be a true test as to whether this sport is for me. As a few of you suggested when I asked for advice, just because I take the class doesn't mean I have to be a diver or ever dive again. But I am trying it. And honestly, diving has always been something I have been terrified of. So I am proud of myself. And JB is proud of me which is really cool.

At least I know tomorrow will be easier. And that I'll hopefully get to see at least one cool fish tomorrow. Today, all I was saw was mud and sediment.

I can only go up from here!

Gimme a hug

This is a video you may enjoy even if you aren't a Grama!

Gulp . . .

. . . today I go into the real ocean and breathe underwater.

Actually I think it is a bay. But hey, it might as well be the ocean. It's big. It's not a pool. Bay. Ocean. Whatever. It's all the same when you talk about going really deep and breathing fake air.

We weren't sure we were both going to be able to go with how sick Isaac has been. If not, I was going to go this weekend and JB another weekend. This meant I would have some stranger for my "buddy." I am very relieved that Isaac is doing better and both our Saturday and Sunday sitters feel confident about watching a still-semi-cranky little boy. So relieved that JB will be with me when I do my dives.

Isaac is doing much better. The fevers are gone. He still isn't eating a lot and is still taking long naps. Still a bit cranky. But he is starting to act more and more like himself. We definitely did not want to leave him if he was like he was even yesterday. Thank goodness he is on the mend.

As for me, I'm scared. Seriously. Scared. I'm also dreading getting back into that wet suit. Man those things are annoying. It's like putting on a layer of skin or something.

Pray I do well and don't freak out and remember how to do all the things we learned how to do last time.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Can we have a moment of silence . . .

. . . for our cable.

It's gone.

It was an emotional decision. A hard decision. Even harder than normal since the winter Olympics are coming up soon.

But it had to be done.

We don't let the boys watch TV* and as a result, we try to keep it off whenever they are awake. That really limits how much we can watch. We also realized that we just aren't watching it that much, period. JB loves his cooking shows. I enjoy watching Good Morning America in the mornings and a few talk shows in the afternoon if the boys are napping. But this year I even gave up Survivor. It just isn't something we do much of. We do like to watch things on Netflix. Recently we have gotten into episodes of an old TV show: Jericho. JB finally convinced me to watch this show with him. It's awesome! Too bad it was only around for two seasons.

We've been really working on cutting costs in any way we can. The condo we own (and rent out) in Minnesota recently got assessed quite a large sum and it set us back a bit. In addition, I am not working for the first time in ten years. So we are learning to live on one income. I know some of you are like, your husband is a doctor. I correct you. My husband is a resident. While residents are doctors, they don't make what non-residents make. In addition, military doctors don't make what civilian doctors do.

I'm not complaining at all. We are doing fine financially. But we wanted to try to cut out a bit of the fluff. There is a lot of diaper and formula to buy in our house and we just wanted to get rid of the extras.

TV was an extra.

And it is gone.

I'm sure I'll be lamenting it's loss quite a bit in upcoming weeks and months. The good thing is I can watch some stuff online. I plan to do that.


*If you want to know our reasons for not letting the boys watch TV, you can visit this link. My husband is a doc so the AAP is something he listens to pretty closely. We plan to start letting them watch some once they turn two but to a limited degree. (And of course, there are exceptions, like when they are really sick and Seseme Street is on.)

Twelve years old

Me and Bri -- Christmas of 1990. I was about 13.

Eighth grade class trip to Epcot with Kelly who I have known since I was a baby.

I think this was my birthday party in fifth or sixth grade? It was at the bowling alley and I am playing with this ball that sticks to these suction cups.

Have I told you all lately that I really love this Bible Study I am a part of at the Methodist church in Niceville? (Although I did miss yesterday due to our little sick boy.) It's fantastic! A huge thank you to my new friend Robyn for inviting me!

All right so right about now you are probably wondering what the heck the Bible Study has to do with the pictures I included above.

Hang with me. I'm getting there.

We are studying Esther. In the Bible Study that is. Last week, we started talking about how amazingly overwhelming it would be to be thrust into a harem of women and have to be judged on your beauty. Not only that but Esther was well liked. Not just by the eunuch who guided her and the King, but by the other women as well. She must have been one incredible gal.

That led to a discussion in our small group about our own insecurities as women. I remembered something JB always says. That in our minds, when we look in the mirror, we all still see ourselves as if we were twelve years old. JB often jokes that he sees the chubby little boy in corduroy pants. What do I see?

Rewind a bit. Back to middle school.

Not exactly twelve mind you. But you know the general age. The age of braces and extreme immaturity. Of cliques and bullies and being left out. Of shaving your legs and going through puberty. Of all the insecurities of life thrown at you at once.

I definitely still see the girl in the photos above in my mind. That's how I feel. All arms and legs. Incredibly horrible hair styles. Braces. Gangly. Gawky. Tomboy. I feel that way now even though it's been nearly twenty years since I truly looked like that.

What about you? Do you still think of yourself as an immature middle schooler? When you get into a spat with a friend or pull on an outfit that looks funny, does it make you flash back to the days of not getting invited to the birthday party or feeling like you annoy everyone?

In my case, I was a good kid. And I had friends. But I had one girl in particular that decided she didn't like me. She tried to get the other kids not to like me. She made fun of me and the fact that I didn't have as much money as the other kids at our Christian school. (I went there since my Dad worked there.) I developed a complex. I started to continually worry if people were mad at me. I would do anything so that people would like me. I would give this girl answers on tests. (And then tell on myself later -- I've never been good with guilt.) Everything I did was in an attempt to get other people to think I was okay. That I fit in. And yet I never felt like I did.

I was lucky. Starting in eighth grade, I began playing varsity basketball and became friends with a group of older girls who were past the pettiness of middle school. They stood up for me and cornered my "bully" behind the gymnasium one day to "instruct" her that she was not allowed to make fun of me ever again. That bully came up to me, crying, and repeated what they had told her. She'd leave me alone.

And she did. From that day forward, I began to fit in more and not struggle as much. But I don't think I ever quit feeling, deep inside, the way I felt back in seventh grade. To this day I worry what people think of me. I fight social anxiety. I picture people whispering behind my back, "Hey see that tall girl there! What a freak."

So here's to reminding ourselves that even if we still think we look like we are in middle school, we are grown-ups. And God, could care less what we look like. He can use anyone. Even a Jewish girl in a Persian empire.

P.S. Happy birthday Rachel! And happy anniversary Philip and Joia!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Still out of it

Our little man is still quite out of it as you can see from the photos above. Mommy turned on Sesame Street -- a real treat -- and he just laid here on th couch and watched it without moving much at all. Well, first he laid down next to Scrubs but then when he wanted to get more comfortable, he opted for the couch. His fever this morning was back up to over 103. Isaac isn't an extreme busy-body, but it is really strange to see him just lying in the hallway or on big bunny or on Scrubs instead of playing. Praying he feels better soon.

Punching balloon

Stand up and cheer!

This morning I went into Elijah's room to get him. Surprise surprise! He was standing. He's been trying to pull up for about a week, but this morning, he obviously accomplished it. One time, however, can be random. But two times, is proof he has figured it out. This morning after his bottle he used the window sill to stand up yet again. Let the scaling begin!

In other news, Isaac seems to be improving. Yesterday he took a 2 hour and a 4 hour nap and was so wide awake he bopped around on our bed until nearly 10:00. He seems to have good stretches and then some more cranky stretches, but all in all, we could see great improvements in him during the second part of yesterday. His fevers also seemed to be going down.

Despite his improvements, I'll be skipping Bible Study today. Man I love that Bible Study. I am so excited to be a part of it, and actually sad I'll be in Fort Lauderdale for two of the weeks. I'll be heading south for the first two weeks of October as JB is on nights. We've decided to put Scrubs in dog camp instead of trying to bring him with me. Two boys and a dog just seemed like too much, especially considering my parents don't have a yard.

Man, I need to start getting ready for that trip! We leave Sunday, October 4.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


That's what Isaac calls himself now. "I-ac." He loves to watch the screen saver on the computer while he eats in his high chair. Ooohing and Aaahing at all the pics floating by. He calls out "Daddy", "Mommy", "Bubby", and "I-ac." He also does his little kissing noise for Elijah. He is right nearly all of the time, even when it comes to separating baby pictures from his own and his brother's.

There hasn't been much eating going on around here. Not many smiles lately either. I-ac got up at 3am, screaming. He was burning up and then threw up. He laid with us in our bed for an hour before we put him back down in his own bed. He got up at 6am, cried until 7am, played a bit until 9am, and then went back down for a nap. It is almost 1pm and he is still asleep. Poor little guy. It is really hard watching your child so sick. I have so much respect for parents dealing with chronically ill children. This is only for a few days and yet I feel so helpless.

While I-ac slept all morning, Elijah and I had some good one-on-one time in between the two naps he took while I-ac was down for one. Here are a few pics from our time together this morning:

Playing with tupperware in the living room.

I walked out of the room and when I came back, I found him sitting on I-ac's atlas book and playing with his toy hammer.

When he saw me, he decided to throw the hammer ...

... and then smile again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Down and out

It's been a long 24 hours here at the Kit. house. Isaac is really sick. His fever has not gotten back up over 102.5 which is good, but the poor kid is just so not himself. It is really difficult when JB is not here as Isaac wants to be held all the time, but I also need to tend to Elijah as well. Isaac is always so gentle with his little brother but during the last day he's done a little shoving when Elijah tries to join him in sitting on my lap. The good news, Elijah seems fine and we have started the medicine to help make this better. Not a lot that is blog-worthy right now. Just a lot of hugs and book readings and naps and temperature-taking going on. Hopefully the next 24-hours will see a lot of improvement in our little guy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Our little man

Isaac is sick. Really sick. 103.9 degree fever. Chills. Won't eat. Slept six hours during two naps today. Poor little guy. Please pray for him if you have a moment. It appears he may have the flu. JB called Dr. G. None of the pharmacies in the area have any Tamiflu so we'll wait until the morning to get it from the Base pharmacy. Isaac will take it of course. So will Elijah who is high-risk because he is a baby and JB who is high-risk because he is a health care worker. I won't get any medicine so pray that my immune system kicks into high gear!

Unfortunately this news means I'll miss MOPs tomorrow ... again. I am really bummed. However, I definitely need to be home here with Isaac.

Night everyone!

Gertrude June Dykstra Huisman

I wanted to make sure I preserved some of Grama's history. Many of you may not be interested in this, but I still wanted to include it all the same. If you are going through something difficult and wondering how you can still follow the Lord, I think you will benefit from my Grama's story. What a difficult childhood she had and yet she followed the Lord with more fervor than any other person I know. It reminds me, both now and in the future, that when trials come, to remain faithful, to stay in the race, and to finish. (You can click on the image below to blow it up.)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day -- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
II Timothy 4:7-8

Henrietta and Edward Dykstra had a large family, and a stormy marriage due to alcohol.

Edward was a believer and known to share his faith even on street corners. However, his dark side was fueled by alcohol and it was truly devastating for all. He would promise over and over, to no avail, that he would stop drinking.

The three oldest children were girls: Anjean, Helen, and Ethel. there were also two little boys who died in a terrible diphtheria epidemic. They were 3 and 5 years old. Henrietta remembered her overwhelming grief made worse because she was not allowed to see her children after they died for fear of the disease. It was thought that Anjean's heart was damaged as a result of her bout with the disease. Some years later George was born and lastly, Gertrude.

Somehow, in spite of the great difficulties in their home, the children were truly nurtured in the Lord. They were secure in His love and their Mother's love which in turn generated their own love for one another, and their lifetime commitment to one another.

Henrietta encouraged the older three to get jobs and become independent while yet sticking together like glue. Each girl met and married. Each young man was 'warned" not to get involved "such a family." Thankfully, not one heeded the advice.

With the three oldest on their own, things were going from bad to worse at home. During Edward's most current disappearance, Henrietta did the unthinkable. She filed for divorce. It meant that she was ex-communicated from her church and that she and her family were shunned even more.

In order for her to provide for herself and her two youngest children, she answered an ad to become the housekeeper on a farm in South Dakota. After a very short time, the farmer told her that she simply wasn't strong enough for farm work.

So, they came back to Chicago where friends and family helped meet their needs. Soon, Henrietta found herself in a doctor's office waiting room. She began to visit with a man who was also waiting to see the doctor. It resulted in an offer from him to come and be his housekeeper as he did not have long to live. He agreed to provide for her and her two children.

It was agreed upon and they married though they never actually lived as man and wife. marriage was simply the proper way to handle the situation. Haidt Sekema was his name. Haidt owned about six homes and had a large family of adult children in DeMotte, Indiana where he and Henrietta made their home.

It was not long before Haidt said that he did not want to support George. A family in DeMotte offered to take him in. It was very hard for both mother and son. Everyday at an appointed time, they would run toward each other along the railroad tracks in order to have a few minutes together and a big, big hug.

Gertrude, the youngest, was allowed to stay, but only tolerated. Haidt's extensive family made life miserable for Henrietta. They were so afraid that she would get some of the inheritance.

In the meantime, visits from the three older married sisters were a source of comfort and joy for all.

After high school, George went into the Army as it was during WWII. He found his future in California where he spent the rest of his life.

Henrietta and Gertrude continued living in DeMotte under very trying circumstances. Gertrude did have friends at school and had a wonderful Social Studies teacher who made a lifetime impact. Even so, after her freshman year, life became so intolerable for them at home that Henrietta divorced Haidt. She and Gertrude went to California where George said he would care for them. It was a good time for both of them. They dearly loved being with George, but it wasn't home. Home was to be near the three older daughters back in Illinois. During this time, the adult children provided for their material needs. None of whom were financially well off at this time in their lives . . . a loving sacrifice.

When they returned to Illinois, Henrietta and Gertrude stayed with Anjean and her husband Fritz. Surprisingly, one day Haidt came and asked Henrietta to come back. She did. Gertrude stayed with Anjean and Fritz in order to continue high school. She was miserable. She did not fit in and had no friends. Her sister Helen met her for lunch one day and seeing her pain, called their Mother who immediately told her to come to DeMotte. Since Haidt did not want her, she felt fortunate when her good friend's father said she could stay with them. The mother in that family was ill and at Pine Rest Hospital. The house was very small in space, but huge in hospitality. Three teenage girls shared a double bed.

Gertrude's high school years in DeMotte were good. She worked in the fields during the summer. One year, Anjean and Fritz told her that if she saved her money, she could accompany them on a wonderful cross country trip to California. She did. It was wonderful and cost her the amazing sum of sixty dollars!

When Gertrude graduated form high school, Henrietta advised her to go to the Chicago area, get a job, and be near her sisters. Henrietta felt that should she die, Gertrude would have no one and no future in DeMotte.

So, four friends from DeMotte did go to Chicago, found a place to live together, and found their futures. Gertrude married Martin "Mike" John Huisman on May 21, 1948 and they were blessed with six children. Five sons and their wives, John and Dorothy, George and Diane, Robert and Mary, Jeffrey and Susan, Stephen and Allyson, and one daughter who was so precious to her in her old age, Linda Blonn and her husband Robert.

Haidt died and did leave a little house to Henrietta. Eventually, she moved to the Chicago area living first with Anjean and later with Gertrude and Mike until her death. During her last years, she enjoyed her family to the fullest.

Gertrude June Huisman was born on October 15, 1923 and went home to be with her Lord on September 4, 2009.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I am alive

I made it. Day two completed. Two more days to go.

Yesterday was the classroom.

Today was the pool.

Today included a long swim. Treading water for ten minutes. Putting on all your scuba gear. Breathing underwater. Getting water out of your mask underwater. Simulating running out of air underwater. Learning to equalize your ears. Taking off you weight belt in the water. Putting your weight belt back on in the water. Taking off your BCD and tank underwater. Putting it back on. Buddy breathing. Towing an injured diver. Getting into the water with all your equipment on. Getting out of the water.

You get the idea. There was tons more but I'm too tired to remember it right now.

The bottom line is though that I passed all the elements. Did them all successfully. Somehow!

I think, all in all, we were in the water for four hours straight. Well, we got out to go to the bathroom once but otherwise, four hours.

Here's what I have decided. So far at least.

  • Diving requires a lot of equipment.
  • Diving equipment is heavy.
  • Putting on a wetsuit is very hard.
  • Divers get legs cramps frequently.
  • Wendi gets legs cramps frequently. (Although not as many as when I was pregnant.)
  • Wendi + diver = even more frequent leg cramps.
  • Weight belts hurt my bony hips.
  • Being in a pool for four hours is tiring.
  • It's cool to breathe underwater.
  • Hanging out with my husband is fun.
  • My husband has an incredible amount of patience for his novice wife.

JB is very good in the water -- it was obvious to everyone that he had done this before. I'm sure it was obvious to everyone that I hadn't. JB told me that I did a good job. He was very supportive and encouraging. But it was hard. It was really hard. There is a lot to remember. It doesn't come naturally. But I think I got the hang of it.

Next week we will do two dives in the real ocean on Saturday. Then on Sunday we'll do two dives in the real ocean again. I am still nervous about diving in the real ocean. But I feel a little more confident. It is all still a very awkward and overwhelming sport to me, but I'm getting the hang of it. And it is fun to do this with JB.

More to come next week. Stay tuned!

New tricks

Take a look folks. Elijah is on his knees. we've even see him get one foot flat in front of him! We think he'll be pulling up in just a matter of weeks. Yikes! I, personally, don't feel like walking is that much more problematic than having a crawler. I think the change from immobile to crawling is the big change. So whenever he wants to start walking is a-ok with us.

Isaac stood on his little Curious George lunchbox (a gift from Uncle Ray and Aunt Gabbi) for about ten minutes reading books to himself. He has started using things to get higher. His favorite "tool" is Scrubs. He walks on Scrubs to get to higher things quite often. Scrubs doesn't seem to give a care at all.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Just slightly messy

I normally don't brag . . .

. . . but JB is standing behind me telling me that I need to post on my blog the facts of our day.

The main fact is that we had to take a test at the end of the six hour class. Fifty questions. I missed one. A 98 percent. It was the highest score in the class -- even higher than JB. When the instructor informed us of that fact, I seriously laughed out loud. Hard. What the heck!?

The truth is that many of the fifteen people there had not done any preparation ahead of time. If I would have failed to prepare ahead of time, I would have bombed the test for sure. But JB tutoring me for the last month and reading the entire book made the difference. I'm sure that's the only reason that I scored so well. Scuba diving has a lot of science related concepts. I am horrible at science. Like really, really bad.

We didn't get in the water or anything today. That comes tomorrow. So for now I feel like I understand the "stuff" but still don't know how I feel about being in the water. Tomorrow we'll get in the pool. I should know whether I like it, love it, or hate it after that.

The boys did fantastic for the babysitter. What a greal gal she is. But we did miss them. It's hard for JB to give up the two days he gets to spend a lot of time with them to do the scuba. But I can tell he's really in his element.

More scuba to come!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Silent crib sitter-upper

Elijah has a new trick. When he wakes up from a nap or in the morning, he sits up in the crib, puts his pacifier in, and doesn't make a peep. Yesterday I thought he was into his fourth hour of a nap. I finally went in to check on him. There he was sitting, sucking away, wide awake. The sleep lines that always cover his face were gone. His eyes were alert and focused. He had been sitting there for quite some time. Doing what? I have no idea. But he was happy.

The only problem with this sitter-upper pacifier bit is that he does it in the middle of the night. And, see, I don't think he knows how to lay back down again. In the middle of the night, he cries. Hard. When you go in there, his eyes are shut. It's as if he is sleeping sitting up -- not knowing how to lay back down and go back to sleep. We lay him back down without him even opening his eyes and off into dream land he returns.

Shoot -- gotta run. Isaac and "Bubby" are into something mischevious. Isaac is giving his "I'm messing with Bubby" little chuckle.

Tomorrow is the day

I've been reading my book.

It's long.

I've studied the dive tables and answered the questions and completed the quizzes. I suppose the only thing left is for me to actually go and, well, scuba dive.

Tomorrow is our first class. It's like six hours long. Second class is on Sunday for like six hours again. Babysitter will be here at 7:30. We need to be at the Base pool by 8:00.

Am I nervous? Yes.

Do I think I might hate it? Yes.

Do I love my husband a whole lot and want to give this a fair shake? Yes.

Stay tuned for the report tomorrow evening as to how cool or uncool scuba diving really is.

And wish me luck.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I love my dog . . .

. . . but he follows me. He follows me everywhere. The bathroom. My bedroom. To change the boys. To put the boys to sleep. Into the kitchen. Into the laundry room. Clothes in the dryer. Scrubs' nose right there.

The most frustrating? Changing my clothes. Drives me crazy when I change my clothes. I think he knows that this action results in something changing for him as well. Change into pajamas? Time to go to bed. Change into running clothes? Time to go outside. Change into out-and-about (as they say in Minnesota) clothes? Time to get ready for a great big treat as I climb into my kennel. He runs through my legs as I change my clothes. He sticks his nose into my shorts when I try to put them on. His teeth nip at the tip of my socks as I attempt to pull them on. I've tried putting him a down stay across the room or outside the door. Crying results. It's quite pitiful. And I've given in. I let him join me as I change my clothes.

Sometimes I make it to the bedroom before he realizes it. I can hear him scratching at the door, crushed that I would change my clothes without him there to help. When I open the door upon my business being completed, he is laying there. Waiting for me. His pouty face saying how betrayed he feels that I didn't let him participate.

Sometimes he doesn't follow me. But that's only when he is really tired. That's the only time. If he isn't tired, he's right there. Everywhere. When I take a shower, he curls up on the fluffy rug in the bathroom. After he puts his nose into any clothes huddled in the corner next to the cabinet.

Yesterday I almost fell. Backed up from the fridge and he was right behind me. And I yelled. He looked surprised. He looked up at me as I yelled at him as if to say, I was in my usual spot. I am always there. Did you forget?

I forgot. And I almost broke my ankle because I forgot.

He drives me crazy. Absolutely bonkers. And yet I know that someday, when I turn around and he isn't there, either because he is too old to care anymore (could this actually happen?) or because he has left this earth, I will miss him.

I'll miss his feet stepping on top of mine. His cold nose rubbing against my leg. I'll miss him following Isaac everywhere, both of them watching me out of the corner of their eye. Is she watching? She's not watching. Quick. Slip me some food buddy. Quick. There you go. If I'm watching? They look away. Both of them. As if I'm an idiot. Geesh. They both think I'm an idiot.

I'll miss that someday. I know I will.

And I try to remember that. I think Scrubs reminds me that the things that are the most frustrating are sometimes the things we love most. And the thing that will hurt the most when it's gone. I know when he's gone someday, I'll regret the times I yelled at him when I was actually frustrated about something else. I'll feel bad for shutting him out of my room when I change my clothes.

Ummm . . . maybe not. It's quite nice changing my clothes by myself actually.

Aaaaah "Bubby".

You're a good dog.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What is . . .

. . . the best thing that money cannot buy?

Post a comment with your answer. (And don't worry. You can't get this question wrong.)

The only rule is that you must say something different than what has been previously said. No repeats!

More flashlights

Oh the fun we have with flashlights in our house!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Count 'em

It is 2:30pm. I have just changed my eighth dirty diaper. This does not count wet ones. Just dirty. EIGHT! Five for Isaac. Three for Elijah. This might be a record folks! Stay tuned for the final tally.

Update (since I know you all were waiting with great anticipation) *** The final count was ten. :) At least the second part of the day was considerably slower than the first.


Now that we have two mobile boys, Scrubs is facing bombardment times two. Here's just a sampling of the abuse he is taking! (And check out Isaac's shirt too. A neighbor gave me this! I think it is pretty appropriate.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

A duck and four kiddos

JB took the pics above while I was gone. They are of Elijah in a wrestling match with the big white duck. I guess Isaac insisted on the duck joining the festivities while I was gone too.

I am so lucky to have such an amazing man for my husband. He took care of the boys without a second thought and didn't need any list or advice or anything. He did say that he was a little tired, but he also said that he had a fabulous time getting to hang out with both of them the entire weekend. It rained a lot so they were stuck outside most of the weekend. They did however take a field trip to Publix where rain required JB to hold both of them and race into the store.

In addition, I had the opportunity to pay Joia back in just a small fraction this morning when I watched her two little kiddos for a quick hour. They are so great and all four of them play so well together. Here's just a few pictures during our time together:

Our Elijah.

Here's the little princess, Moriah. Isaac calls her "Ri-ah". Way cute!

Keenan playing with punching ball. Isaac loved when the ball "bopped" him.

All four kiddos. (Isaac insisted on shoe wearing again.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Yesterday was the funeral. It was, perfect. Praise and worship songs started it off. Just what Grama would have wanted. I think may have cried hardest during those songs. It really was a celebration that Grama was home. Aunt Mary wrote a song that she and Uncle Bob sang. Pastor Pete spoke.

I had the opportunity to read a letter from a family member who was unable to attend. In addition, I said a few words about Grama. After that, dozens of family and friends got up to speak about Grama.

I could spend hours recounting all the stories they told and memories they shared. But the recurrent theme will tell you enough. Grama prayed. She encouraged. She loved. She cared. She forgave.

It was amazing to me how many people in that room had received words of encouragement from Grama. They had also received her cards with stick figures and stickers and Bible verses. They had gotten a phone call, a gift, a hug. Every single person in that room felt like the most important person in Grama's life. How did she do that? How did she make sixteen grandchildren all feel like they were her favorite grandchild? I don't know. But I want to figure it out. And I want to be like her.

My cousin Josh reminded us all that it is her six children and sixteen grandchildren and nineteen great grandchildren who must now pick up the slack that will inevitably exist due to Grama's departure. We don't want to discover how much she prayed by the prayers ceasing to exist. It is our turn to pray in her absence. It is no accident that all of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren walk with the Lord. That we are healthy and blessed. It is because, as my father said at the funeral, "God had this woman in his face every single day!"

Grama prayed hard. She prayed everyday. That's what I briefly shared at the funeral. During our infertility journey, when I was wrought with migraines and disappointments, it was Grama I called to ask her to pray. Not only did she pray with me right when I called, but she would pray for me afterwards as well. It was always genuine with Grama. Always pure. She was who she was. You always knew where she stood. She didn't pray to go through the motions. You knew she was really talking to God.

After the two and a half hour service, we headed to the cemetery where Grama was buried next to my Grampa. We then enjoyed a delicious meal provided by the church before heading over to Bob and Mary's for a little birthday party for Tyler.

I woke up at 4:00 this morning to head home. Arrived back at the house shortly before lunch. It's good to be home. But I am so blessed I took the time for a whirlwind weekend away. It was so wonderful to be with my family as we remembered the matriarch of the Huisman family. It was the first time since Isaac was born that I had no children with me. That I spent a night away from both of them. JB did a fantastic job holding down the fort. Even had clean bottles and laundry when I got in. I could not have done it without Joia and JB. Thank you both.

For now, we are settling down for some tennis. I have a few more things to post about my Grama, but they can wait for another day.

I am home!

Home at last. Will post more later. Enjoying all my boys right now.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Saying Good bye

I am in good ol' Illinois/Indiana. (I slash them because we are actually on the border and go back and forth between the two states a few times each day. Jason and Kathleen live in Indiana. The funeral was in Illinois. You get the idea.)

My flight arrived right on time. Noon. My Dad and Mom were waiting for me with a rental car. They had come into Midway around 9am. We made it to the funeral home right at 1pm when the family started arriving.

As I write this, I am at Jason and Kathleen's -- my midwest home. I always stay here when I come into town. It's nearly ten. I've been up since 4four this morning. I need to go to bed. But I do want to say a few things. Some now. More later.

For now let me say that there were so many people there to pay tribute to my Grama. Fourteen of her sixteen grandchildren were there. Most of her nineteen great grandchildren were there with babysitters but a few were old enough to come. I talked to so many people. We cried a lot. We laughed even more.

On the way into the funeral home, I asked my Dad if there was going to be an open casket. I hate open caskets. He laughed. "Of course," he said. "We're Dutch. That's the what the Dutch do." In other words, it would be strange not to have an open casket. The good news is, Grama looked fantastic. She truly looked so much like I remembered her. Each time a member of my Mom's side of the family came in, I would escort them to see Grama. This was the time I cried the most. It was so strange that there were all these people there talking and hanging out and Grama wasn't talking with us. She would have loved to see all these people together in one room.

There were tons of pictures up at the funeral home. Pictures everywhere. There was a picture of JB and I with Grama at our wedding. And there was a picture of Grama with each of my boys. Lots of pictures of me and Grama. Some I'm not sure I had seen before. I was so blessed by that. There were also some of the pictures Grama had kept in her room at Bob and Mary's. One of the pictures included my Grama and a friend. The third woman in the picture had been cut out from another picture and glued on. I flipped the picture over. Grama had written details about the day. I guess these three ladies had spent the day together but had not gotten a picture together. So Grama decided to cut and paste them together. That's so my Grama.

Anyways, it was exhausting (1pm until 9pm) but incredibly healthy and happy celebrating such a fantastic woman.

I wanted to include a link to her obituary page. You can sign her guest book. You can also view a Slideshow of her life. It's a great slideshow. Really shows her life. It also has a few pics of my Grampa just like I remember him.

I also had the opportunity to read a history of her childhood that she had dictated to one of my aunts before her death. I got a copy. I hope to type it up and include it on the blog at some point. Grama had told me the story of her alcoholic father, her single parent mother, the man her mother "married" in order to have a place to live, that man's decision not to support her children, my grandmother moving in with friends and relatives throughout her young adult life . . . but it was so much more real to read it on the page. It's hard to believe she turned out like she did after all that turbulence.

Or maybe that's why she turned out like she did.

The one thing we all agreed upon today was that my Grama breathed her faith. It oozed off of her. It was her. You didn't get my Grama without Jesus too. She even wore a small band with a cross on it with her wedding band from the day Grampa died until the day she died because, "Jesus is my husband now," she would say. She truly walked with the Lord. I am so far from the woman she is. But I want to be like her.

All right, I must go to bed. I want to close with a post of Joia's. Joia took care of both my boys as well as her two children (yes -- that is four children under two and a half.) She took TONS and TONS of pictures (I couldn't wait to check her blog all day) and gave me such peace. The Lord is so faithful to provide us with just what we need in our time of need. Joia was that for me. Thank you friend.

Night all.

Bible Study

. . . well, when you read this, I'll be off to Illinois already. However, I wrote this on Thursday and am posting it automatically to load on Friday morning. Enjoy!

Thanks to my new friend Robyn, the wife of one of the new first year residents (aka "interns"), I found out about a great Bible Study at the Niceville Methodist Church. This is the same church where I attend MOPs. FUMC is the closest thing we have to a mega church here on the Emerald Coast. The Bible Study meets every Thursday. I missed the introductory class last week due to the boys being sick.

I didn't think I would be able to attend due to the boys' illnesses this week either, but Tuesday evening, things started looking up at our house. The sniffles went away. The fevers dissipated. Thank you to all of you who prayed. I had already decided not to attend Bible Study today when yesterday JB reminded me that it was okay to change my mind.

. . . so off we went.

This is a Beth Moore study on the book of Esther. I've never done a Beth Moore Bible study. Never really done a formal Bible study with other women of any sort. I've been working full-time for the last ten years of my life. Things like this never matched my schedule. But I have heard so many women I know tell me wonderful things about Beth Moore and her studies.

First of all, the boys did FANTASTIC! I was a little nervous since neither of them have done much nursery with our church change, sicknesses, and travelling in the last few months. Elijah has actually never been in the nursery before -- ever. They were in the same class and lasted all 2.5 hours without any problems at all. As I could have predicted, they said Isaac played with toys the whole time and didn't say a word to anyone. That sounds like my little guy! Chatters like crazy at home but usually quiet on the road. And they said that my "can-erupt-at-a-moment" little Elijah only got upset one time, and a bottle quickly ended that sadness.

The study features an hour long video of Beth Moore discussing Esther and then a breakout into small groups. I am soooooo excited to get to be a part of this. What a blessing that a local church opens their doors to anyone and everyone (and watches their children to boot!) Their children's area was amazing -- all ocean themed with computers to check in and beepers for the parents. I was quite impressed.

We came home and both boys went down for nearly three hour naps. I guess they did play hard. In addition, Elijah went from a stomach position back to seated today. This will help him not get frustrated when he gets tired of crawling. Isaac also gave me a kiss today. He gives them to Daddy and Elijah and Scrubby but today was the first time Mom was deserving. Thanks little man.

As for me, as you read this, I am on a plane somewhere over the U.S. Looking forward to spending this weekend with my Dad's family. Also thinking back to 2001. This date changed our world forever. I'm sure we all know where we were eight years ago. I can't believe it has been eight years.

I'll update when I can.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Grampa & Grama

Been thinking about my Grama a lot the last few days. And with Grama, I've started thinking about Grampa too. Lots of fun memories. While my parents moved to South Florida before I was born, and we only lived in the same city as my relatives when I was four and my parents returned to Illinois for a year, I always felt extremely close to all four of my grandparents. (My mother's parents are still alive and living in Michigan. I will get to see them at Grama's wake and funeral.)

Grampa and Grama would come down to South Florida to visit us nearly every year when we were young. And we usually made at least one trip up there each year to visit family. I would also go up for summer visits when I was younger by myself and stay with my Grampa and Grama. My Grandparents had sixteen grandchildren but only three girls, and I was the only girl for quite some time. That always made me feel special.

My thoughts have taken me into many old memories this week. Here are just a few:
  • I remember playing UNO and Spoons with Grama and Grampa when they would come to Fort Lauderdale for visits.
  • I remember one of the years they came down for Christmas. Fort Lauderdale had record temperatures that year. It actually got below freezing. Unfortunately, the electric company could not handle all the people who wanted to use their heat at the same time, and many people spent days without heat. Including us. We moved from room to room in our mobile home so that we were always in the room that was facing the sun. But Grampa didn't care. He sat in the recliner in the living room the whole time in his coat and hat and socks doing his crossword puzzle. If we asked him if he were cold he'd just laugh and keep puzzling away.
  • I remember my Grama making me stand on my bed every single time she came to visit us in Fort Lauderdale so she could give me a polite lecture on how short my shorts were. "Have you ever heard of Jamaican shorts?" She would say each time, as if we had never had the conversation before. I would stand there and nod and wait patiently to run off and play again. We did wear our shorts short but it was Fort Lauderale and I was like, nine.
  • I remember Grampa fishing in the lake outside their condo. He loved to fish.
  • I vividly remember my Grampa and Grama's condo in Illinois. I remember this condo so vividly. Grama moved out after Grampa died in 1995, but I can still remember the smell, the colors, the games she had, the TV, the table in the kitchen. Everything.
  • Soybeans. I remember soybeans. I remember asking my Grama for a snack and her giving me a papercup of soybeans. This was not a joke. Grama was incredibly healthy. They called her huge sons the "wheat germ" boys. She was famous for her healthy foods.
  • I remember that when my Grama was healthy, she would always serve her sons. I remember her trying to take off my Dad's shoes for him when he would come into the condo. He always told her to stop that. That he could take off his own shoes.
  • I remember the stuffed dog that sat next to Grampa's chair in the condo. Grampa would tell me it was the best dog he ever had. "Stay," he would say and then turn to me. "See. Perfect dog."
  • I can remember Grama's prayers. I remember calling her during one of my infertility treatments. I was dealing with unbearable migraines and insomnia and was near the point of breaking down. I called Grama. She prayed. I felt better.
  • I remember Grampa aging. His hands shaking. I remember my Dad having to deal for him when they played cards. That was the last time I saw him. The summer before my freshman year of college. He passed away that December. I can remember my Dad hugging him good bye. We both knew it may be the last time he hugged him.

There are many more memories. And even more for my cousins who lived in Illinois and spent many more days and holidays with my Grandparents. This is the way it is supposed to happen. Grandparents are supposed to go first. Grama lived a long life. I'm just going to miss her. I'm going to miss her prayers and her cards and her phone messages. I know she doesn't miss us right now. I know she is enjoying every second she is spending with my Grampa. But we miss her. I look forward to celebrating her tomorrow.

I am leaving very early tomorrow morning. I've continued to debate bringing Isaac. I so want him to come. But I know it isn't in his best interest. Joia will have them tomorrow and JB over the weekend. I'll return Sunday afternoon. Not sure when I'll blog again. Your prayers for safe travels and well-behaved boys would be much appreciated!