Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell 2008!

It's nearly 10pm as I write this... just two hours left in this year. I can't complain. It's been a very good year. We've stayed busy and had lots of fun. My only regret for this evening is that I will not be ringing in the new year with my family. Alas, I am relegated to work duty in the hospital tonight. It's just one of the "joys" of being a nurse and having to pull weekend and holiday duty. Oh well... it pays the bills right? Mike has taken off with the boys to pick up AJ and meet up with Roy. They are going on a ferry ride to Bainbridge island tonight to watch the fireworks from that side of the water. Someday I'll go along! Well, I'm off to work... I'm taking a couple of bottles of sparkling cider with me so that if we have a moment at the strike of midnight, we can maybe have a little bubbly and ring in the new year. So long 2008.... I look forward with great anticipation to 2009. 2009 brings with it Ethan's 7th birthday, my 10th wedding anniversary, my 20-year high school reunion, Evan's 6th birthday, and my brother's graduation from the Honolulu Police Academy. Lots to be thankful for! Happy New Year!!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Our gingerbread house... a little late!

So we didn't get to the gingerbread house before Christmas. But better late than never right? It was actually a welcome project for the boys this afternoon. We sure had lots of fun putting it together! Admittedly, we didn't make the gingerbread ourselves. I tried that one year and was so disappointed with how my pieces turned out that I didn't want to waste the ingredients again this year. If any of our readers out there have a tried and true recipe, please share! Instead, we went with the Trader Joe's special. Hey... I felt good making it... it was authentic made-in-Germany gingerbread! Hee hee hee...

And since I am the queen of tangents... call me crazy, behind-the-times, or whatever else you can think of, but I had NO IDEA just how easy it is to make icing "glue"!!! This was just powdered sugar (or icing sugar for you Canadians and Europeans), beaten egg white, and a few drops of vinegar! I have to say I was very skeptical about how well this concoction would actually work as glue. Boy was I in for a big surprise. Not only did it work WELL, but it worked FAST. Now my mind is conjuring up all the fun little forts and other things we can make out of cheap graham crackers. My head is swimming with possibilities. Plus, my friend Krista has me wanting to make PVC marshmallow shooters with the boys as well! Oh... where to begin!? I smell some fun coming...

In the meantime, here are some pictures of our lovely creation!

Best Christmas gift... MP3 Scriptures!!

I've been trying to find audio scriptures for my iPod. Granted, I haven't looked for awhile. When I looked in the past, I only found the written scriptures, so those have been loaded on my iPod since I first got it. I was at Beehive Books sometime ago and saw the CDs but they are quite pricey. Well, today is my lucky day. I had no idea that the Church HAS THEM right on their website in MP3 format!!! They are free and legally available for downloading! YIPPEEEE!!! So I just finished downloading 1Nephi and will download the rest tomorrow (it takes awhile!) Now I can listen to the scriptures peacefully in bed at night when it's quiet!

Incidentally hymns, church magazines, conference and other materials are also available there in MP3 format!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Catching Up

I was perusing Aunt Barbara's blog today and felt inspired to get my tush in gear and get my own blog updated. As the year comes to a close, there are still a few things that need to be recorded!

~~Evan is in the running with Ethan for number of lost teeth! The interesting thing about having children 17 moths apart is that they lose teeth at the same time! The tooth fairy has been busy at our house!

~~Thanksgiving... We had a very quiet and pleasant Thanksgiving. We went to Mike's parent's house. For the first time in... um... forever I think... I didn't cook a THING! Typically, even if we go over there, I still make a meal for us here at home. I didn't this year and actually, it was kind of nice. In all fairness, I had planned on cooking a small turkey, but when Mike opened it up, it was most definitely rotten! Truth be told, I can't really say my feelings were hurt! I did have to work that night, but not until 11pm. We still have another turkey in the freezer for another time. We also have two hams saved up!

~~Work... speaking of work... The end of November and the beginning of December was a very, very sad time for me at work. We had 3 infant deaths in the course of ONE WEEK. UGH... it was very, very heart wrenching. I happened to be on duty as the nursery nurse for two of them. Truly, it makes your own stresses and problems look like a cake walk when you see parents grieve like this. With one of the deaths, the mother looked at me and asked, "How am I supposed to go home and tell my other children?" I'll write a separate entry about that.

~~Christmas Tree... We went out to our usual place for a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. We always get our tree out at the Bowman Hilton farm, right on the Sumner/Orting border. They have the best trees and great prices. There will be a separate entry with pictures for that.

~~SNOW! And lots of it! Again... a separate entry with pictures!

~~Christmas. Believe it or not, I didn't even get out the camera. I just simply didn't feel like taking pictures. I think Mike got a couple. I'll have to upload his later on.

Now we are just counting down... only two days left of 2008. Is it just me or has the year gone by in record time????

EDITED 12/30/08: All of the above mentioned entries have now been written and back dated. See below!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More Snow!

Yes, we got even more snow. And the funny thing is, I quit taking pictures. It got even worse than these pictures show. We had a good six inches on the ground and it stuck around for a couple of weeks! This week we are finally thawing out and all but a few patches here and there have melted away and given way to green grass and black pavement once again. It was fun while it lasted, but I can't say I'm too upset about its departure. It was certainly beautiful, but I like walking around outside without feeling like I'm taking my life in my hands. The parking lot at work has been particularly treacherous. The whole lot is outside (not covered). They salted the sidewalks, but not the roads. So after a few days, a very thick layer of ice formed and it was basically a skating rink out there! It's a LONG walk from the lot into the hospital so it was daunting. Thankfully, I had a week-long stretch of days off during most of this snowy weather.

Here are some more pictures. The boys (including Mike!) had fun outside. They joined in the fun with our neighbors and built a snowman as well as an IGLOO! Mike spent close to four hours working on the that igloo and we got lots of fun comments about it. It sat at the top of our driveway for well over a week. It's finally melted away but the kids sure had fun with it while it lasted. The other little boy in the pictures is our neighbor Mikhail. He's lived next door since he was a baby and the boys love playing with him.

The other fun thing about the snow and ice is having a slanted driveway! It makes for perfect sledding conditions!! The boys got the snow sleds out and had a blast sliding down the driveway. It was icy enough that they'd slide down the driveway and then just continue right on out to about the middle of the culdesac. Fun!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow, snow, and more SNOW!

The week of December 14 is snowed like CRAZY here in western Washington! I've lived here for nearly 11 years and I've never seen this much snow around these parts! The kids had so much fun playing in it! Evan only had two days of school during that week and after that it was all canceled. It's gonna be a LONG winter break!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A baptism and a Nativity experience

Yesterday was a special day for our family. I had to work all night Friday night, but when I got home Saturday morning, we quickly changed clothes and then headed up to Everett for a special baptism. We were honored to be able to attend Alison Smith's baptism. The spirit was so strong there and it was a special experience for us to be there. Alison was simply radiant and happy and the light of Christ shone brightly in her eyes. There was no doubt that she was in tuned with the spirit. What a honor to be there!

When we got done there, we drove home (I slept most of the way, exhausted from a long night at work) and changed clothes. Then we headed down to Port Orchard to Mary & Jay's house. When we got there, I crashed on Mary's bed for a few hours and then we all left and went out to dinner together. After dinner, we headed over to their stake center for a special nativity exhibit. The gym had been transformed into a sea of nativity scenes. There were literally hundreds of them from all corners of the earth and in a myriad of styles. They were made of all sorts of materials... wood, glass, ceramic, paper, coconut husk, yarn, clay, fabric and many other things. They were set up so beautifully and there were humble and gorgeous Christmas decorations and white lights everywhere. I don't think I've ever felt the spirit so strongly at a Christmas event. I was moved to tears several times. There were activities for the children and the choir sand Christmas carols in the chapel. So beautiful and gorgeous. Thanks Mary for inviting us... we had such a wonderful time!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sadness at work

There were two neonatal deaths this week at work. The first was expected. The second absolutely was not. My heart has been SO heavy. I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for these sweet babies and I am not sad for them. I am sad for their parents. Because although we can find peace in the plan of salvation, it does not erase the natural grief. I was the nursery nurse in the birth center for both of these babies.

The first one was an infant who was just 23 weeks gestation. It was not her parents' first loss. This mother's water had ruptured about a week previously and we were all surprised that the baby lasted as long as she did. She must have formed a seal over the hole and began retaining fluid again. Anyway... it was an excruciatingly sad moment to be present in that room as this sweet little girl came into the world. She came out wiggling a bit and trying to breathe somewhat. Because of her size and gestational age, we did not try to help her out or resuscitate her. She lived for about 20 minutes before giving up. I bonded with her father, who spoke no English at all. Words were not needed.

I was able to get hand and footprints of the baby. They were so tiny. Her little feet were only about an inch long, maybe shorter. The heart wrenching moment came when her father pulled a photograph out of his wallet. It was a photo of himself and his wife. He did not speak English but gestured to me that he wanted me to lay the photo next to the baby and take a photograph of the three of them. You see, the baby's mother did not want to see her at all. All of this was done in the nursery. So I laid the picture of the beautiful couple next to the tiny baby and took a picture for him. That would be the only picture he would ever have of the three of them together.

The second situation was even more tragic than the first. The mother came in, full term and in a massive amount of pain. She had other children and kept saying it hurt so much worse than her other babies. She looked like she was ready to push so I quickly set up a warmer for the baby and my heart just sank when the labor nurse couldn't find the heartbeat. Mind you, just because a nurse can't find a heartbeat doesn't always mean it is absent. Often the baby gets so far into the birth canal that it's difficult to pick up. But my heart knew. Even as I was setting up that warmer and she continued to search, in my mind I was already saying, "Just stop. You're not going to find it." The spirit was amazingly present in that room.

We had the doc come in with the portable ultrasound machine and she confirmed this mother's worst nightmare. Her baby was dead. Though she was several doors down from the nurses station, there was no mistaking the wailing and crying that was coming from that room. It's a sound that rips your heart out and leaves a huge, gaping hole in its place. All you can do is stand there and think of your own babies at home. And although I knew that Heavenly Father had a plan for that baby, I still couldn't help but stand there and ask, "Why?" as this mother continued to wail.

Later on in the morning, I had the utmost honor of helping her to make memories of her little boy. When I walked into her room, he was wrapped up next to her and she had her face buried in the top of his head, just sobbing into his hair. She was clutching him with everything she had in her. I lost it. Right there... I sobbed with her. How can you not? I gently told her that there was no rush but that when she was ready, we could weigh him and measure him. She said she was ready. So I took him out of her arms and just looked at him for a moment. He was perfect. Truly. He was a perfect, perfect little boy. Just gorgeous. He simply looked as though he was sleeping. The only giveaway was the color of his lips... a deep, cherry red... very dark... that is what happens to the lips of babies after they die. He was so beautiful and so perfect and in my mind I was almost trying to will him to just open his eyes and take a breath. Live! Just live and breathe! But alas that was not the plan for his short life.

I weighed him and measured him in the room with his mother, father, and aunt present. A perfect 7 pound baby. Have I mentioned that he was perfect? SIGH... We took him to the nursery to bathe him in the deep tub. I had the honor of giving this little boy a bath. I placed him on the warmer and unwrapped him. We got some hand and footprints before the bath and again, they were perfect. Often it is difficult to get hand prints because infants naturally clutch their fists closed. But his mother begged for hand prints and it seems her son knew how much she needed them because his hands were so relaxed and we got absolutely flawless prints. Then I placed him in a warm bath and we washed his beautiful little body. Again, he just looked as though he was asleep. We dried him and then cut a lock of his hair near the back of his neck for his mother to keep. Then his father put a diaper on him and we dressed him in a lovely, white outfit. They chose a hat for him and then we wrapped him up in beautiful blankets.

I talked with his parents for a long time. We talked about their shattered plans. We talked about Christmas. We talked about the other children and she sort of laughed and asked me, "How am I supposed to go home and tell the other kids their brother is not coming home? They don't know yet. Do you want to tell them?" She was kidding of course. I can't imagine having to deliver that kind of news. I just can't imagine.

Later before I left for the morning, I went back into their room and asked if I could hold him once more. I sort of felt selfish asking. I knew their time with him was so limited and precious. But she was happy to oblige. I held him for about 20 minutes as I talked with them. By that time, we were able to laugh a bit and the room felt lighter. But that little boy's spirit was ALL around us in that room. He was VERY present and I could feel him almost tangibly. I held him in the crook of my arm and held one of his hands in mine. His skin was like velvet. I could tell he was an amazing spirit. I was in awe of him and I was so honored to be in his presence. As sad as that experience was, I was glad I walked down that fiery path with those parents. It's one of those things that is SO hard to do and yet helps us grow in ways untold. I am forever changed because of it.

Happy Birthday Baby L. I hope I am worthy enough to be in your presence again someday!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The annual Christmas tree hunt!

Each year we head out to Orting to get our Christmas tree at the Bowman Hilton Farm. You can get any size Douglas fir for $30. Last year, our tree was so large it looked like we stole it out of a department store. So this year we thought we'd downsize a bit. Hahahaha... see, the funny thing about picking a tree out in an open field is that it never looks as big out there as it does once you get it inside the house. So try as we did, we failed at downsizing. In fact, our tree ended up being a bit bigger than it was last year. AJ came with us. Mike and AJ tried getting it into the stand and couldn't. Mike's dad came over later and helped him get it rigged upright. It's gorgeous! As always we had a fun time picking it out. Typically, Mike has to get down on the ground and saw it by hand. But we got lucky this year. The guys who own the farm had chainsaws! Yay!

Here are some pictures from the day's events! The last picture is blurry but I put it there for comparison. Mike is 6'3". That tree is easily 12'. We had to trim it and it still almost reaches the beam in the ceiling!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Twilight Premiere!!

The night we had been waiting for forever had finally arrived... the premiere of Twilight on the big screen! Mary came over to go to the midnight premiere. My friend Jodi Worrells also came over that night. The three of us left around 9pm for a midnight premiere. The place was PACKED and the movie was showing on three screens! I have to admit, it was a sea of mostly teenage girls! Hahahaha... but we didn't care because even if we didn't LOOK like teenagers, we certainly felt like teens! We sat in the hall (in line) and played games for a bit and then went in and got our seats. We wound up sitting right behind Daucie Wilson and two of her kids, so we had a lot to chat about for another hour.

Then the movie started... there was lots of cheering in audience!! It was a magical experience! We were so excited to be there and we had a LOT of fun!! I'm so glad I got to experience that magic with some special people!

EDITED 12/30/08: I've seen the movie THREE times on the big screen! Jodi came with me again one of those times! And as soon as it hits the $2 theater, I'll be right back there to see it again! (And Jodi says she'll go with me again! Yay!) The DVD is supposed to be out around mid-February. Once I have the DVD and the movie on my iPod, life will be divine. Hahahaha... the next movie in the series, New Moon, begins production this spring. The release date has tentatively been set for November 20, 2009. Will we be back for another midnight premiere? Heck yeah!!! I'm going to try to hit the midnight premiere of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in July as well. While Mike steadfastly avoids anything Twilight related, he has said he will be willing to go see Harry Potter at midnight with me! We shall see!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

School today

One of the things I love about homeschooling is the variety of things I can teach Ethan. We are following the Virtual Academy curriculum, but it's SO rich and full! We have an art class we are doing together and the things that he is being exposed to are amazing! Today, we learned about different shapes in art. The painting we studied was American Gothic by Grant Wood, which was painted in 1930. He was able to find different shapes in the painting and then differentiate which shape was more in the foreground and which in the background. Then he created his own piece of artwork using shapes!

Our teacher's name this year is Laura Corkern. I am in contact with her by email at least once a week and by phone at least every couple of weeks. This is her second year teaching through the Virtual Academy and she is absolutely amazed as well. She said she was very skeptical of teaching through this program and it took her a long time to come to the decision to do so. Now she says she can't imagine teaching anywhere else and she loves it. She is a foster parent and has also adopted several children. She said she is thinking about pulling a couple of her kids out of traditional elementary because she is tired of them coming home and whining, saying, "How come WE don't get to study art and history in school?" Her daughter who in school has spent the past several weeks learning about different places in the city of Des Moines, where they go to school. Her daughter that is in Virtual Academy is learning about the Rennaisance. Which would YOU find more interesting? So she waits to do art until her other daughter gets home from school so that they can learn as a family.

Ethan is now expressing interest in doing a unit study on (of all things) the platypus. That should be interesting...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Historic Day

It is an historic day in this country. The people have voted in the first black president, Barack Obama. He will lead this country for the next four years. Frankly, I'm terrified. The democrats now own the presidency, the House, and the Senate (at least as far as the numbers are reporting currently). There is no balance of power. We are fast becoming a socialist society. We are giving up our freedoms. In all fairness, I'm not a huge fan of John McCain either. But I think we are headed for disaster.

I feel prompted to pray for our political leaders. I also feel prompted to reread the Book of Mormon. The last time I read it cover-to-cover, I did not see it as a story or a collection of stories... I saw it as a political manual. I feel prompted to read it again with that in mind. It was written for US, in THIS day. I also feel prompted to read the constitution and become much more familiar with it. It has been prophesied that in the latter days it will hang by a thread. If it isn't there already, it is headed in that direction.

It is a somber night for me. But I will wake up tomorrow, smile, and pray for my leaders. I am thankful and grateful that eternal laws are not subject to the shredding that our constitutional laws are. The gospel is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Of that we can be sure. And while I may worry about the leadership of our government, I don't need to worry about the heavenly-inspired leadership of the church. I am so grateful for the anchor that is the gospel.

Ezra Taft Benson - Stand Up For Freedom

In the wake of elections today, I wanted to post this absolutely amazing and stunning talk given by Ezra Taft Benson back in 1966. The quality is very good. It is one hour of your time... one hour that will enrich and enlighten your lives!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Portland getaway!

Mike and I actually went on a little overnight getaway to Portland. Shocking but true, it was our first overnight trip away from the kids!! We just haven't heretofore felt comfortable leaving them (well, I won't speak for Mike... I haven't felt comfortable until now!) But we had an opportunity to go to Portland and hear our favorite financial guru speak and we knew we couldn't pass it up. BLESS MARY AND JAY for taking our children for two days so that we could do this. It was a much, much needed getaway and I think it brought us closer together. Certainly, it solidified to me the need for us to do that once or twice a year.

I had to work Friday night but as soon as I got off, we jumped in the car and headed down to Portland. I slept, on and off, all the way down, but I have to admit that I was still REALLY tired. We grabbed a bite to eat in a little Mexican dive that had great food. After eating, we checked into our hotel and dropped off our bags there. We had a really nice hotel suite!

Then we headed over to the Coliseum, found parking, and walked over. The event was long... 5 hours! I nodded off during parts of it but still really enjoyed it. I'm so glad we went and I know Mike is too.

The guy we went to see is Dave Ramsey. I was introduced to this guy a few years ago and then talked Mike's ear off about him. Mike got intrigued and began listening to him as well. I LOVE Dave! He gives sound, solid advice about getting out of debt and staying there. We have followed his plan before and did really well but then we got lazy and now find ourselves buried again. What I love about Dave is that there are no gimmicks. You don't even have to buy anything to get his plan. It's all on his website for free. There is no "get rich quick" scheme. In fact, he gives advice from a Christian perspective that I really appreciate. He is the only financial guy outside the church that actually endorses and encourages the payment of tithes while you are trying to get out of debt! I love it!

After seeing Dave, we left feeling really good about putting a more solid debt reduction plan into action in our lives. We ate dinner downtown at The Rock Bottom and enjoyed a really nice meal. Then we perused the downtown Portland Borders, where I used my 40% coupon to purchase the 7th and final Harry Potter installment. I'm currently reading book 4, The Goblet of Fire. Then we headed back to the hotel and enjoyed dessert. After that I simply collapsed. My head was pounding and I'd been awake for two days and just couldn't take it anymore. I slept solidly. It helped that we turned back the clocks so we got an extra hour of sleep as well!

The next morning, we had breakfast in the hotel. Then we packed up and checked out. Before heading home, we stopped at Salty's On the Columbia River and enjoyed afternoon brunch. The food was incredible and we had a spectacular time! In my personal, oh so humble opinion, the brunch was worth the chocolate fondue fountain alone! Hahahaha... well, the prime rib and other things were wonderful too!

We took some pictures and then headed out of town.

We stopped in Vancouver for gas and then made a straight shot home to Federal Way. It took us less than 3 hours. It's amazing the kind of time you can make when you aren't having to stop frequently for children! I got home just in time to go to work and work a 12 hour shift. I finished that shift this morning and have been pretty dead all day! Yet here I am, updating the blog instead of going to sleep!!