Monday, December 21, 2009

Decisions, Decisions Part II

Here are more sweet -and hard to pick from- pictures of my darling little girls! And this is only a few of them! So enjoy, and I would relish hearing your thoughts on what you would have submitted! So feel free to critique and pick them apart. REALLY, I would love to hear what you have to say!

I LOVE black and white!

But not as much as I love these faces! I think these photos of my Monkey Do speak for themselves.

These were taken when Monkey Shine was teething and just woke up from her nap. I COULD NOT get her to smile, but they turned out sweet and unrehearsed. I love her little grumpy face! That really is the way she was. She did not smile a lot when she was little, but boy does she laugh a ton now -and keeps everyone in stitches!

I HAVE to stop right here! Look at those lashes!! Sigh! I am falling in love with my Monkey Shine all over again!

What would YOU decide? Hmmmm...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Decisions, Decisions Part I

On Ree's website, she had a contest where people could load their favorite black and white photos for a contest. So I began to sort through all the B&W photos I have taken ever since I first fell in love with one that won a "Cotton:The fabric of our lives" contest years ago. It was beautiful and uncluttered. The little girl in the photo was CLEARLY the focus of the picture, and it made her beauty just pop. So I began to experiment, and saw the true loveliness of my girls just SHINE.

I sorted and could not decide. How can you choose between these?:

Oh, my goodness!

Isn't she sweet?!

What a doll!

It just makes you want to giggle with her!

Awwwww! I wonder what she is thinking! Probably something like, "I wonder why my strange mother is jumping up and down and making funny faces and weird noises!"

Look at how her eyes twinkle! Monkey Do.

Don't you just want to reach in the photo and kiss those little chubby cheeks!?!?!

LOVE the face!

This one was framed and hung in my living room right away! I LOVE it!

This one was such a beautiful moment! I was trying to get photos of her in the morning -one of my first without a flash (I experienced enlightenment about the perfectness of natural light!). She woke, and the next photo breaks into a grin full of morning sunshine! But this one was so pure, it truly captured the moment!

Over the next couple of days I will be sharing more of my favorite black and white photos. Please check out the beautiful work shared on Pioneer Woman
Make sure to check out all four posts. There are some AMAZING pictures that make my silly little photos look like goop! Enjoy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Signature "Face"

There is this face that peppered pictures of my Monkey Do(now six) for the first few months of her life! People watching her get her picture taken would laugh at the HAM that she was, and I giggle every time I see them!


And she would!
Here is the proof -otherwise known as blackmail pictures- that I hope embarrass her when she is a teenager, and she laughs at when she has kids of her own. And I hope she gets her own little ham to make camera "faces"!

*Chuckle, Chuckle* Ahh! Smile on, Monkey Do! Smile on!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I ran across these great, loving pictures of my Mom and Daddy. After 39 years they are still in love. Isn't that sweet? I just love them -and the excellent example they have given me of what I want for MY marriage!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


This post will be short, sweet and to-the-point.

I do not follow reality TV, or any real shows in particular. I simply do not have the time, but what I have seen of the Dugger family in "18 Kids and Counting" I have been very impressed with. I did also take a special interest in the recent pregnancy of Michelle Dugger because she was due the same week as me. As the pregnancy progressed I would think about the point that she was at and the experiences that she had at nearly the same time as myself.
I was shocked and concerned to hear that their sweet little child was born 3 months early this last week. At 1 lb 6 oz, that Dugger baby is fighting for her life, and I cannot imagine what they may be going through. If this little girls lives, she will have a number of health issues which may endure for the rest of her life. Please keep the Duggers in your prayers, and this precious life, precious child in your prayers. She is in the fight of her life!
Please keep me in your prayers as well. I am freaking out a little. With a nephew born early and hospitalized only a few weeks ago, and the Dugger baby -the same size as my own- my mind has been reeling with everything that could go wrong. Keep all of us in your prayers!

Strange Lady

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wait! I AM Thankful!

This has been a really tough year, well, couple of years for my family -for me. It started with my husband sustaining a closed-head injury. And translated into a million different things: I had to begin working (when all I EVER wanted to do was be a stay-at-home Mom), our finances have been tough, then Larry was laid off, we lost our house, and a million other little things. We are having trouble keeping the wolf from the door. And you would think, at this time of year and with the struggles that SO many families are going through, that the wolves would hear "unemployed with three kids and another on the way", and just back off and "Baaaaaa" a few times. But NO! And apparently a full payment made on Friday is not enough to keep them from locking you down on Monday! AAARGH!
On my blog I try very hard to reach to the joy of life, the beauty, the things that you laugh at in spite of yourself. But there is also a deep desire in my heart to be known as well. Yes, I am human. I get angry, I can be lazy, I DO snap at my kids, I don't always submit to Sweet Geek the way I should, I am not really a super Christian! I can't be perfect -as much as most people want others to believe that about themselves, and on another note, on a blog it is really easy to portray to your readers who you WANT them to see -not the way you are REALLY feeling, or the faults so clear to those around you.
So here is my blunt and hones post. It is raw and a little unkempt, but it is real.
The truth is that I am angry! I am angry at the mortgage company that REFUSED to work with us, and took our house! I am angry that they are now selling it for $40,000 -a small fraction of what we owed. What if they had let US have it for that!
I am angry at the car loan company that took advantage of us for YEARS!! And every time they talk to Sweet Geek they tell him that he needs to do the "responsible" thing. Because letting your three little children go hungry or have no heat so you can pay for a car is more responsible than going to the grocery store.
I am angry at the company that laid him off! He worked there for YEARS and literally saved the company MILLIONS of dollars, and yet when they made cuts, all they could see was the time missed because of his head injury, and the money it was costing them to insure our growing family.
I am angry at the credit card company that does everything they can to make our lives miserable -even trying to cut us out of our bank accounts- because a full payment on Friday is not enough to keep them from shutting us down on Monday! AAAARGH! The love of money IS the root of all evil! Holding a person's money hostage so they can't buy groceries, pay rent, buy gas, pay utilities is SO ethical! Don't you think?!
I am not angry at God. A little frustrated at times because I cannot see any value in what He has allowed happen to our family, but not really angry. Mostly I feel abandoned. I know in my head that He promises never to leave or forsake us, but I have been praying for a miracle for so long, and I feel like my prayers are bouncing off the ceiling and dropping into my lap.
I cannot say I have never been here before. I have, and God DID reveal Himself to me. I think that every Christian out there has at one time or another felt that way. There is nothing wrong in it, it just is the way that our human minds and emotions deal with the things that we cannot see in an eternal and all knowing God.
But even though my head knows this, it does not keep the tears from falling, does not keep the heart from aching, does not keep the stress from mounting. It does not make me feel any less alone in this great big world, that right now is KICKING ME ALL OVER THE PLACE!!!
Then you add the fatigue that comes from being pregnant, the constant hip and pelvic pain that becomes more and more excruciating each day, and this terrible cold that simply will not let go, and it makes for every day being a little more difficult.
For those of you who thought I was this deeply spiritual Christian, this must be a real eye-opener for all of you!
But in the middle of all of this, there is a deep sense of gratitude! I think this is the "peace that passes all understanding." How can I be so overwhelmed with everything burdening me and still be thankful? Well, here is how: My kids don't have cancer. That is right, no heart conditions or any other life-threatening illness. Our unborn baby is healthy! After losing our dear unborn child in January, that makes every kick from her a reason to rejoice, and thank God for her very presence. I am grateful for family that calls me, prays for me, checks on me. I am thankful for growing up in a family that loved and honored God -and showed through trial and example how to love Him too! I am SO grateful for the fact that we are all together, and we have a roof over our heads. I am grateful for my sweet little girls! They can be sassy and have their "days", but they really are smart and sweet little people who bless me on a daily basis, and always give me reason to laugh. I am grateful for good friends that check on me, and help me when they can. I am grateful for the times that God has shown Himself to me in the past. I am grateful for the times, over and over, that God came through at the last minute for my family growing up. Yes, I am grateful for the trials. This is so difficult (probably harder because I am pregnant and overrun by hormones), but I will reluctantly embrace the opportunity to see God show Himself to me and my husband. I am grateful for my Sweet Geek, who brought me medicine every 4 hours when I was miserably sick, gets up early and cleans the driveway and my car before I go to work, made sure I had the GOOD snow brush in my car, and does a million tiny things every day that simply scream "I LOVE YOU!!!" I am grateful for so many things. More than I can name. I am thankful for all of you reading my posts! My ramblings are disjointed, silly and sometimes a little vain, but I like knowing that you are there. I am thankful for a banker named Traci, and I am thankful for the BIG things too.
I am thankful for small kindnesses and graces. Like today, when (after two stores, VERY pregnant, with three small girls in tow) I felt as if my exhausted body could not take another step. We were looking for something specific, and I decided to try one more store. I pulled in, and my heart sank to see that the parking lot was SO full that the only spaces left were in Bufu, Egypt. AAARGH!!! I was going to have to walk the entire length of the parking lot with crazy drivers (not paying attention), but I was going to have to try to drag my kids through all that mess without them getting run over! Kind of a frightening thought, when you think that I can't move fast enough now to intervene! At the last moment I saw a car pull out of a spot only THREE SPACES from the door! Another driver was racing to the spot, and, as he had the right of way, I was sure that the spot was lost to me. I don't know if he could see my panicked look, or if he could see the three heads bobbing in the back seat, but he pulled past me to park in Bufu, Egypt, and waved me into the spot. I was SO relieved! I wanted to thank him, but could not find him after we got out.
I am thankful for that man. I am sure that he will never read this blog (as he seemed young and hip and WAY too cool to read the blog of a rather odd mom with and strange sense of humor), but I hope that someone blesses him with an incredible kindness! That is my prayer for him. It may seem like a small thing, but in this time when we are being hit from every side by people who do not care, a tiny reminder that there is kindness in this world is especially touching to my bruised and wounded spirit. It was a little salve on my soul. Thank you, God. And thank you Man in the Red Fleece. I think God sent you to me today to remind me that He has not forgotten me, and that He still has people in this world that know how important a small kindness can be. You blessed me. Today God reminded me to be thankful when the world seems to have me neck-deep in mud. He threw me a rope, perhaps not to pull me out of the mud today, but to keep me from sinking any lower. Thanks you, God. I am thankful!

Strange Lady

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Adequate Assistance

For all of you busy women out there –especially moms- has there ever been a time when you were distracted in the shower, or your normal routine was interrupted, and you got out of the shower with one leg shaved and the other not? Then as you towel off, you realize your mistake. Now it is time to decide. Do I go right back in and take care of it now? Or can it wait for one more day. First you think of what you are wearing that day. If it is slacks, you may let it go until tomorrow’s shower –or the next day (because we moms know that sometimes a shower just doesn’t happen every day), or you can hop back in (if you are not running late) and take care of it right now. If you have something big going on that day and need to be your most confident, then that is a no-brainer! But what is SO funny about all this is that we EVEN HAVE TO THINK IT OVER AND DECIDE! It just makes me laugh. When I was single, I never forgot to shave one leg, and if I had, then I would not have hesitated for one moment to get back in and take care of it!

Our poor husbands! On the days when we feel that it just is not worth it, they must have the funniest things going through their heads when we crawl into bed that night! Then they feel one distinctively prickly leg, and one decidedly smooth. I bet my Sweet Geek thinks to himself, “I don’t even WANT to know!” and wisely keeps his wonderings to himself.

And WHY does he think that? Because men NEVER have a little monkey pulling back the shower curtain to report a sibling or ask where such-and-such is -as they scramble to cover themselves, balance one leg on the edge of the tub, keep the water from spraying the bathroom they have to clean, and catch all the bottles as they fall off the shower caddy! They simply take a shower, wash a little, shave a small portion of their body (only face! Or not even a whole face if you are Sweet Geek!), and get out! They simply don’t understand! I would give my favorite pair of shoes (which in my book is saying a LOT) to have just ONE little glimpse into his mind as he contemplates the one smooth leg and the other distinctively hedge-like.

Well, thanks to THIS

Little Monkey,

I never have to worry about that again. As I have been battling a nasty cold his week, I have had a sweet little 3-year-old nurse –who has made it her job to make sure that I was comfortable and taken care of. Over the last few days she has been mostly by my side, and hands me tissues (which I add to the five unused ones already in my lap that she handed me three seconds ago), tells Sweet Geek I need medicine, “massages” my back and shows such darling, genuine concern for me that this Mommy’s heart is touched by her sweet little Monkey Shines’ compassionate heart.

On Saturday I decided to take a nice, relaxing, quiet bath to calm me –and also hoped that the steam would help loosen my congestion. Up I went to the bathroom, ran myself a very hot bath, added some peppermint bath soak, and settled in for a nice, quiet, rejuvenating time. All of a sudden, there she was!

Grin and all.

Over the course of the bath she asked approximately 473 questions, (including, “when I am big will I have a shaver like you?”), made 833 statements (including, “When I am big and I have a shaver, I will keep it HIGH up! So MY 3-year-old will not cut herself!”), told me my bath was WAY too hot, offered me six soggy tissues and pointed out every spot I missed on my legs at least four times. She asked me at least seven times when I was going to shave my other leg!

So much for a nice, long, quiet soak! Oh, well… At least I got both legs shaved, and Sweet Geek can crawl into bed with a smooth-legged wife. There will be no wondering, no hedge trimmers needed, no scrambling for slacks instead of a skirt, and I can keep my favorite pair of shoes! No need to give them up for a glimpse into his mind –at least not yet. So I will enjoy them for a little while longer while I remain blissfully ignorant of the workings of the male mind. And, after all, mystery keeps life interesting! Very, VERY interesting! I think I’ll just hang on to my favorite shoes!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

At this time of year, it seems to be all about family! Loved ones you can't wait to see, the familiar family traditions and foods, the rhythm of the expectations of what the day brings. But in the last two months it has been impressed on me more clearly than ever that the holidays this year are going to be especially difficult for people this year:

Loved ones lost, some family relationships strained, family to far away to visit, and what really breaks my heart is that in the last two months no fewer than 8 couples that I know have announced plans to divorce.

Do you remember the hope of your wedding day? Do you remember the flowers worn by groom, carried by the bride -all noting a day of joy, expectation, hope, love, and togetherness? I remember MY wedding day. It was a small and intimate with only 50 people. I would have loved to have more family there, but it was on December 23, and much of my extended family could not be there, but all five siblings, some well-loved aunts and cousins, and my parents were there.
It was a wonderful time. I cried tears of joy as I walked down the aisle (smudging my carefully placed make-up beyond repair!), looking forward to joining myself to the man that I knew, without a doubt, was given to me by God.

I am sure that many of the marriages I heard of in the last two months began with such hope, affection and excitement -like a newly bloomed flower: fragrant, breathtaking and lovely. Only something happened along the way. The flower began to wither, first on petal fell off, followed by another. And suddenly, like something from a Disney fairytale, there is one petal left, and it is dangerously close to falling as well.

Where have all the flowers gone?

New love can continue to bloom for many years. Just ask my parents, who continue to embarrass their grown kids by smooching in the kitchen in front of ANYONE who happens to be in the house. (For the record, I was never embarrassed by their unabashed affection, but I have this one pesky sister... You KNOW who you are!) They have been together for 38 years.

Or my Grandparents -BOTH sides were married for over 50 years, and my Grandma B in particular, nursed Grandpa with patience and gentleness until the very end. Both marriages ended with one partner passing on to be with the Lord -much to the sorrow of the dear spouse left behind.

Or there is the DARLING couple from my church who just celebrated 50 years! On the way, Monkey Do asked what kind of party we were going to, and I replied, "We are celebrating with Mr and Mrs F! They have been married for 50 years!"
"FIFTY YEARS!" she replied, "And they are still ALIVE!"

I know that she was referring to this unimaginable length of time -in the mind of a six-year-old. Fifty is a HUGE number -and it is in the context of marriage too! And still being alive after that many years can also reflect the fact that both parties -despite the overwhelming desire- refrained from strangling their marriage partner for EVERY SINGLE ONE of those fifty years! Now that really IS worth celebrating! Especially since anyone, who is honest, will tell you that there are days...

But where have all the flowers gone?

We are living in a world that does not value or support marriage, in churches that act on the premise that marriage is doomed (there ARE churches out there that do!), and "advice" that encourages people to just give up!

Marriage is hard. So what can you do to keep those flowers blooming? Well, I am not an expert! That is for sure. With less than 10 years under my belt, I am SURE that there are people in your circle who can offer much better advice than I have, but there is one trick that keeps me in love with my Sweet Geek -even though he (like his bride) can be stubborn, and ornery (like me!) and is in a grumpy mood right now (not alone!).

I remember.

Yep (Nebraska coming out), I remember.

When Sweet Geek and I were friends at work, I went through a terrible break-up with a man that I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. And so as we became better -then best- friends, he was always there when I needed him. He fixed my car, helped me move, helped me find a new car when my clunker was beyond repair, made me a gourmet meal, gave me good advice, and always did these thing for me with no strings attached. When I would ask him why he was being so nice to me, I expected him to say, "Well, I really like you. Would you like to go on a date?" and then I would tell him that I really wasn't interested in any kind of romance after this bad break-up. But he never did. He always said that he knows what it is like to need help, and have nowhere to turn. He would tell me that he just wanted to help. I didn't even know that he really liked me until the brother of a friend asked for my number. Sweet Geek looked like he would be sick, but I was still healing, ans so I held him at arms length, not sure what I wanted, but sure that I cared about him. Perhaps not romantically at the time -I really couldn't. I simply didn't have it in me, so we went on, pretending the elephant wasn't in the room. I just could not go there. What if everything went south? I don't think I could take it. But instinctively he knew I was not ready for anything that resembled love.

His love and help were offered unconditionally. He somehow knew that my heart could not bear someone else's happiness right then, but all this time we were becoming closer and closer. We could talk for hours -and I really liked him, but I just couldn't move forward. All the pain and broken trust had left a wound on me that I could not get past.

Then it happened.

To be continued...

Saturday, November 14, 2009


My dear readers...

I am here to bore and unnecessarily punish you once again with my drab and boring blog -that I have been so sadly neglecting! But I had something to share with you all.

Here it is....

Are you ready?

I am homesick.

I know that sounds really weird considering I am sitting in my living room right now. No fancy desk or office. There is no room for a couch in the office, and I think my Sweet Geek would have a problem with me moving all the computers and equipment out to move a couch in. I am sure that would cause our family's version of Chernobyl. And the truth is that I am so terribly uncomfortable with this little child, that anything but a WELL-PADDED chair sends me into waves of agony.

Anyway, I am not like my favorite blogger, Ree the Pioneer Woman. She was born in the city and was dragged by love into becoming, as she puts it, an "accidental country woman." Not me. I am just the opposite.I grew up on a farm. Not just any kind of farm... a HOG farm! Oh yes!! It IS true! I have mucked out barns, scooped poop, cleaned chickens coops (Chicken poo is the worst! Yes, it IS worse than pig poo!), weeded gardens, walked beans, baled hay, played in lofts... Yes, dear readers. I have done it all. Yet somehow I managed to move from a VERY rural hometown (population 248) to one of the 10 largest cities in the midwest!

And not only am I in one of the biggest cities, but I live RIGHT IN the city! You can spit out the back door and hit the neighbor's patio. See!? I AM a country girl!

Now, I don't know if it is pregnant hormones, the difficult situations that we have been facing lately, lack of sleep or the SERIOUSLY lower cost of living (with Sweet Geek laid off, stretching money is right up front), but my heart longs for the plains of Nebraska. Yep, (more proof I am a country girl) you heard me right, Nebraska. Every time I see Ree's pictures of the Oklahoma prairie, it looks so much like home that I feel a twinge of longing.
As I lay awake, trying to drown out the sirens and barking dogs with Sweet Geek's stolen pillow, I long for the quiet, the calm, the slower way of life. I long for neighbors who care -who's kids don't have screaming matches in the front yard. Because in Nebraska, any decent person knows that you simply don't do that in your front yard! All the nighbors would be talking about it to anyone who would listen for WEEKS on end! Any decent person knows that you keep dirty laundry where it belongs -in the washing machine!

I long for a real drive. You know, where a 20 minute drive takes 20 minutes because it is 18 miles -not because there is TERRIBLE traffic backed up by construction. TWO miles in 20 minutes.
I long for old friends, family recipes, working in the garden, canning the harvest, seeing hay bales, and all the little nuances that make country living what it is.

I am homesick, but most of all, I miss these people:

This is my Dad, my Hero, snuggling my little daughter. I missed him very much this past Wednesday -Veteran's Day. I wanted so much to hug hum, thank him, do something special for him. He has a true servant's heart, and served his country for 27 years. He was a member of one of the best engineering units in the world. It is TRUE! They even won an award! But he is the most affectionate person. My little monkeys adore him and revel in being toted around. They also marvel at him cutting their food, getting them drinks, and allowing them to follow him around everywhere he goes. I miss his steady belief that I am amazing (boy, have I got him fooled!), and having a great listener who thinks a lot like me! I like it when we talk about something and come to the same conclusion. I miss my Dad.

Then there is this great person!
My Mom is the one in the middle. We will get to that silly person on the right in a minute (I am on the left). But back to Mom. My Mom is one of the most resourceful people I know. She made homemade bread every week for years to combat a wheat allergy my brothers shared. She managed pinch pennies well enough to stay home and homeschool all six of us -all living and feeding the brood of us on one income. She can do ANYTHING she puts her mind to, and over the years has leaned heavily on her extremely creative spirit to make sure that we had the things that we needed -and then some. She managed to budget great trips for our family! We got to go to Calgary, Canada. And my favorite part of that trip was Lake Louise. We made a trip to Colorado about every year. You have not lived until you have seen the Rockies. But my favorite trip was Wyoming. Jackson Hole is the most amazing place! Conversation with Mom flows. We have the same language! We talk about everything. I miss her nearly every day. I can't wait until this little Monkey arrives! She will come and stay for a whole week! I can't wait.

She researches info on nutrition and taught us to have a healthy life. She continues to encourage and support in healthy food choices, nursing, and creative living. When I am really stumped she always has a way of puting things in perspective for me and finding out-of-the-box solutions.

Not to mention that out of my six siblings, 4 live within 2 hours of my parents. My sister Katie and I talk on the phone at least 5 times a week -if not every day, and she gives my Sweet Geek enough sisterly crap, that I need to keep her on retainer. She is the other silly person that picture, but there is a much better one on my other sister's blog. You can see the photos here.

I saw the need the other day in a very real way to touch my roots when my 7-year-old Monkey See asked me, "What is a hay bail?"

TRAVESTY! UNTHINKABLE! AAAACK!! It is time that I give my kids a good country education! What is a hay bale -indeed!

Sometimes it is just time to go home.

What makes home -home to you?