Monday, June 30, 2008

Family Fun

This past week, we headed to Gatlinburg for a few days with my family. We had a beautiful cabin (thanks, Mom & Dad), did a little shopping and had a blast playing cards. We laughed, swam, shopped, laughed some more.. you get the picture, right?

We haven't been able to make this trip in the last couple of years, so it was nice to be back with my family. I enjoyed hanging out and just being together! Good times!! A highlight for me was going through the "Ripley's Believe it Or Not!" museum with Bryan. He loved it, and it was great to hang out together. Jeff took Bryan to ride go-carts one day as well. And of course, I LOVE hanging with my niece. Kristin, if you are reading this... you crack me up and I love ya! Just beware of bad melons, girl! okay??? (inside joke)

We got back into town on Saturday, but Jeff was off yesterday as well which is a rare treat. So, Jeff, Bryan and I headed up to Kings Island for some roller coasters. Have you heard that they changed the name of Kings Island? It's now "Jerry Springerville". Seriously... I saw more folks that looked and acted as if they were on the Jerry Springer show than I ever care to see again! But the 3 of us had a great time together.

We rode all of the big rides... well, I didn't ride the Beast since I am not into torture. But I think we hit the rest of them. I think Bryan rode the Vortex 4 times! The weather was perfect... a little cloudy and there were hardly any lines! One thing I will say is that I am NEVER getting on Firehawk again. I was still shaking when we left the park last night from that experience! No thanks!!

I love my family. I love spending time together, making memories. We've made a lot of them this week. This is the only life we get, and I want to make it count!

I took the day off today as well to recuperate. Jeff is also off, so we are enjoying a relaxing day at home. They are installing carpet in our media room in the basement as I write this. We will probably paint some trim this afternoon, and I guess I will go to the grocery at some point today. Nothing major though.. just enjoying being at home with my family.

What's the best thing you have done to celebrate your family lately??

Monday, June 23, 2008

A lot of catchin' up...

I haven't been good about keeping up with blogging about the books I have been reading. So, here are the latest I have enjoyed.

1. Faith of My Fathers by John McCain with Mark Salter
I realized a couple of months ago that I really don't know a lot about the presidential candidates. So, in order to get a better understanding of McCain, I picked up his autobiography. I typically don't read autobiographies, but I will admit that I found this one to be very good. I still don't know a whole lot about his political stance on different things, but I do have a better understanding about his background. I plan to read Obama's autobiography too, in case any of you think I am biased :)

Every Young Man's Battle by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker
Jeff and Bryan are actually working through the workbook of this great writing. I wanted a better understanding of what they were talking about, so I decided to read the book. I will say this is a MUST-READ for the parents of boys as it deals with the sexual temptations they face every day.

Who I Am In Christ by Neil T. Anderson
This book was loaned to me by a co-worker and friend. What a blessing! It discussed the tendency we have to doubt God's love for us and how we can stop trying to earn His favor and simply walk in the beauty of His grace.

4. Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard

This is the story of 12 year old Veronica Swan, a mormon girl whose life was forever changed when her two younger sisters were brutally murdered. Although it is fictional, it speaks honestly of forgiveness and its importance in healing from our hurts. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

What Remains: A memoir of fate, friendship and love by Carole Radziwill
This is Carole's memoir of life with her husband, the nephew of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and their best friends John and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. Carole's husband was diagnosed with cancer and expected to die at any time when John and Carolyn's plane disappeared. The book is an indepth look at life and death. It doesn't matter what walk of life you are from; grief is the same.

6. The Shack by William P. Young

This was my favorite of all of these books! This book actually blew my mind. It tells the story of a man whose daughter was murdered in a shack. Years later, struggling with anger, bitterness and a fallen trust in God, he receives an invitation to the shack. There, he encounters the Trinity in human form. This book is truly stunning and beautiful in its depiction of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It's a perfect gift for anyone who has ever lost someone they love unexpectedly and has questions about whether or not God is really there and really cares. YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Simply beautiful

Jeff showed this to me a little while ago, and once I stopped crying, I just had to share it with you all. It's a beautiful picture of just how amazing God is. It's well worth your 8 minutes! trust me on this one.

Saturday, June 21, 2008



June 21st is a holiday in our family. It was on this day in 2007 that Bryan had his last stomach surgery. That day marked his 6th surgery in 11 months, and it started him on a journey of total health and happiness. We have deemed that day "Healing Day" for we believe that God healed Bryan that day.

When Bryan went into surgery that morning, the doctor told us that he expected to have to remove part of his colon due to the "extensive damage" that had been done in the previous year from repeated infections. It's funny how you remember phrases like that. But, I also distinctly remember Dr. Iocono saying "It's a miracle. There was no damage at all! His colon was like a perfectly healthy 11 year old boy's should be". We were thrilled then, and we still are now. In the past year, I have often found myself thinking "Bryan didn't do this last year" or "It's so good to see Bryan feel well enough to be here". I am reminded every day of the healing gift that God provided for our son, and I am grateful.

We spent the day at Woodland Skate Park, where the Quicksilver team was doing a demo and competition. Regrettably, we missed the demo (they didn't do it when the online schedule said they were going to!), but Bryan still had a great time skating. The place was NUTS, I tell you. You could not have paid me to get out there, but Bryan did. (Jeff has posted a lot of other pics here). And as I watched him skate, I thanked the Lord one more time for healing his body.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day

When I married him almost 15 years ago, I wasn't thinking about the kind of father he would be. I am not sure you can really know that until you see it firsthand. No, I married him selfishly, because I wanted to spend every moment possible with him. But in February of 1996, I got some competition in my time with Jeff.

From the very beginning, Jeff was an incredible dad. He changed the diapers, got up for midnight feedings (without complaint), cleaned up spit up (and worse), sat through doctor's appointments. He has been to parent-teacher conferences, listened to talent shows, sat through aikido ceremonies, waited during drum lessons. He has worn his Vans shoes because Bryan thinks they are his "coolest pair". When you see him in his Batman t-shirt, it's because that too is Bryan's favorite. He loves making his son smile, and I love watching it.

One of my life's most beautiful blessings is watching him love Bryan. I love the sound of their laughter as they play Xbox together. I love the sound as they wrestle together. But my favorite is to listen to them pray together. It is sweet, innocent, truly majestic. Jeff's heart is for Bryan to grow into a Godly man, and he is modeling that for him now. If Bryan grows to be like his dad, even partly, this world is in for a wonderful thing!

Thank you Jeff, for being the dad you are to Bryan, and for sharing the dream of our little Ellie with me. I can't wait to watch you with your "daddy's girl" like I have with your "daddy's boy".

I love you,

And to my dad.... thank you for the love you have shown to me, the way I loved to run to the end of the road to meet you when you were coming home from work when I was a little girl. Thank you for the way you cry when we sing together and for all those trips to piano lessons. Thank you for loving mom the way you do. You were and ARE a great dad, a blessing to me. I love you!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's too quiet here

Bryan left for camp on Monday. I thought I would be glad. Come on, admit it, parents. We all need a break from our kids every now and then. And they need a break from us to, if truth be told (or at least that is what Bryan said). I deluded myself that I would have a blast this week with Jeff (and I have),watch what I wanted to on television, and go to sleep without the sound of the XBOX in my ears.

What I found is that I miss his voice saying "hey mom, will you take me to the skate park?" or "Hey mom, you wanna watch my new trick?" and "What's for dinner mom?". I actually miss his shoes sitting right by the front door. I miss having to tell him (again) to put his things away or make his bed or whatever. I miss his mischievous look that says "I am up to something". I miss his hugs at bedtime. I miss his giggles during the dinner blessing. I miss him begging Jeff to wrestle.

This is what I miss the most though...

I realize that Bryan is growing up. He needs less of me these days, and it's heart-breaking really. He wants to be away from me more than he wants to be with me. He wants his independence, and I want him to learn to respect independence. He wants more freedom, and I want him to experience freedom safely and slowly. He wants to risk, and I want to shelter. It's a constant game of tug-o-war, and many days I feel like I am in the mud pit. I see his potential to be a strong leader, confident and eloquent. He just wants to goof off. I see him laughing when I would prefer seriousness and vice versa. But yet, I love him wholly. He is a part of me. Perhaps that is why parenting is so frustrating... we see in our children the parts of us we want to change?? (think about it)

What I do know is that I am ready for Friday to be here. I am ready to have my boy home. I have loved my time this week alone with Jeff, but our family isn't quite complete without him here too. It's just too quiet around here!

I love you Bryan...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

His future is so bright...

He has to wear shades....

Today, Jeff celebrates his 40th birthday! I wanted to take a minute to send out my wishes to him here.

Jeff, I know you haven't really looked forward to this "milestone" in your life. But I have because it just gives me another reason to celebrate your life (not that I need a reason)! You are an incredible husband, fabulous dad and the most sincere man that I know. I love that you are a man after the heart of God. I love that your relationship with Christ is first; that shows in all you do, and I am humbled by it. I love how you can just walk in the room, and I feel better just by your presence. I love how you find the good in everything and everyone. You have accomplished much in 40 years, and I can only imagine what God wants to do in the next 40! I am so looking forward to that road with you! Happy 40th, Hon! Celebrate BIG!! I love you, Bird

and for any of you who were wondering what I got him for his birthday... here is a pic...