Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Of All The Days To Post, I Choose Christmas Eve

I know it's Christmas Eve. I know I haven't posted in a long time. I don't really have time to post now.

But I wanted to drop in at least for a moment to wish you a very Merry Christmas. We are so busy here, sounds like you are too. It's been a different Christmas season for us. Lots of different things happening, lots of changes.

But it's good. I'm finally taking time to remember the Christ child. That little baby in the manger.

God became flesh. He hung the stars in the sky, then chose to become a helpless baby, just so He could have a relationship with us.

What an amazing, incomprehensible act of love.

I hope you experience that love this season.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Older I Get

It's been hard to get into the Christmas spirit this year, although I'm not sure why. I love Christmas! It's my favorite time of year. So I've been wondering why I just haven't been feelin' it.

Then yesterday I took Allison out shopping. Crazy, right?! Taking a 4 year old shopping less than two weeks before Christmas?! But it wasn't as bad as I expected. As we're getting on the escalator, she yells, "Look! A Christmas tree!!" "Look!! Lights!!" She was excited about everything! It was exactly what I needed.

Then today I got a Christmas card from a long time, dear friend. It reads:

The Older I Get...
the simpler my holiday preparations become...
the more I cherish the old ornaments...
the more fondly I remember Christmases past...
the longer I hold onto a holiday hug...
the more I enjoy giving then receiving...
the longer I sit in the glow of the Christmas tree...
the more wondrously beautiful the Christmas story is...
the more I try to see Christmas through the eyes of a child...

This is all SO true! We finally got our tree and I'm hoping to get it trimmed, lights on and all decorated tonight. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Am I The Only One Feeling So Far Behind?

Usually we help at our church on Thanksgiving, cook our Thanksgiving dinner at home on Friday and on Saturday we get our tree.

Usually I start my Christmas letter the first part of November. Just after Thanksgiving I take it to Kinkos and get copies made. My cards are out in the mail the first week of December.

Usually I start my Christmas shopping the Monday before Thanksgiving. I've found the mall is empty that day with everyone traveling or preparing for Thanksgiving Day.


Here it is December 11 and we don't have our tree yet. I haven't written one word of the Christmas letter (definitely won't be sending one this year) and we haven't even taken a photo for the card.

I haven't purchased one single gift yet. I feel so far behind. Like Christmas is gonna come and go and I'm gonna miss it completely.

We've been SO busy the last couple of weeks, I keep having to remind myself of the reason for this season. I need to slow down, relax, enjoy the lights and the cocoa and the music; not stress over what needs to be done. Although there's SO much that needs to be done. Did I mention my sister is coming for Christmas? She arrives at midnight on Christmas Eve and will be staying with us for 2 weeks. And I'm still trying to figure out where she's going to sleep.

Deeeep breath...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Went To The Doctor Yesterday

I'm the kind of person that only goes to the doctor under certain circumstances. I know people who go to the doctor the first time they cough or sneeze, but I'm not one of them.

I was 5 months pregnant with Diana before I went to the doctor for the first time. I knew I was pregnant right away; I took a home pregnancy test and it confirmed it; I had gone through the typical (for me) morning sickness; I could feel the baby kick... she was my third and I knew what to expect and I knew there was nothing out of the ordinary that required me going to the doctor. I'm just that kind of person.

Having said that, I decided to take Beth to the doctor yesterday. She had a stuffy nose last week and began to blow her nose, a lot. That girl can go through a box a tissues a day! We pumped her full of EmergenC, Daytime and Nighttime medicine, but she wasn't getting better. This cold was hangin' on.

She wasn't achy, didn't have a headache or fever, just a stuffy nose and "a weird voice" to quote Beth as she talked with the doctor yesterday. :)

The doctor, or Physicians Assistant said that she might, just might have a sinus infection. But maybe not. Either way, whatever it was, she's had it for too long. So she put her on antibiotics. Beth seems to be feeling a little better and is still blowing her nose today, but not as often. I'm hoping she'll be able to go volunteer at the school tomorrow.

She's only left the house once in the last week and that was for Allison's birthday party. But for the most part she stayed in the dining room, away from everyone else.


She's 4!!


 Happy Birthday to yooouuu!!!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Where Does The Time Go?

I'm still here. It's amazing how my calendar is not very full yet we seem to be so busy.

Beth is now helping with our kids choir. And she is volunteering at an elementary school. She helps out in a special ed class, doing filing, shredding, copying and she loves it!

Her job coach nominated the Little Caesars she works at as Store of the Year for employing adults with special needs... and they won!! She'll be attending the banquet next week.

Ryan was in a rehab center for almost a month when he failed their drug test. He first went to their weekend detox, then made the decision to check into their year-long rehab center. He seemed to be doing well, enjoying the job they gave him, reconnecting with family members... then failed the drug test. They told him he had to leave. He can go back after a month but in the mean time... it hasn't been pretty. He's still angry, blaming others...we're ready for him to step up, say no to drugs, get a job and grow up.

There was a situation with someone at our church that caught us by surprise. Nothing immoral, just some poor decisions. A staff member has chosen to leave. Leave the church, leave their family... we're still in shock. Our church is hurting right now.

My last post was about Diana in London. There was so much stress with that! We're so grateful that week is over.

Thanksgiving day - we helped at our church again, serving about 1200 people. I remembered to bring my camera this year! Forgot to take a single picture! Spent the day before Thanksgiving helping to set up rooms. Then Thursday, Chuck drove the buses and Beth went with him as a ride-a-long. She really enjoyed that! I was on my feet for 11 hours. Didn't sit down once. But it. was. amazing. The presence of the Lord was so strong at times. The guests were overwhelmed with the amount of food, the love they felt. It was an incredible day.

We had our family Thanksgiving today. We're putting everything on the table: mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce, black olives and then Chuck realizes the turkey isn't done yet! So it went back in the oven and we had a Thanksgiving dinner without the turkey! But it was all still SO good! And we're looking forward to all those turkey sandwiches!! YES!!!

Tomorrow... Allies birthday party. She's turning 4.

Where does the time go?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Safe and Sound But Feeling a Little Betrayed

Diana's been in London for the last week. (Hi Caz!) Traveled alone again. I didn't sleep well... again.

She arrived in London on Friday. She knew she wouldn't have the extra finances so she canceled her final night at a different hotel from where she'd be spending her week. She'd done this before and just hangs out at the airport instead. It also guarantees she won't miss her flight!

On Saturday she was walking along the busy sidewalks of London getting bumped around when she felt a tug on her scarf. She immediately put her hands in her pockets and her debit card was still there. Feeling a sigh of relief she kept walking. A moment later she remembered her phone was also in her pocket... but now was gone.

Her cell phone, her only form of communication, was gone. She went back to Primark where she had shopped earlier but no one had turned it in.

Getting back to her hotel, she learned that their phones were out of service and they expected them to be working by Monday. (We tried calling them all week but they never were restored.) She's alone in London and has no convenient way to reach anyone.

She walked to the mall where she found an internet cafe and sent us an email telling us of her situation: "My phone has either been stolen or misplaced and as a result I have no way of getting in touch with anyone. As of tomorrow at 11AM I will be in Leicester Square waiting in line for the Catching Fire Premiere. In 45 minutes I will be unreachable."

With the 8 hour time difference, this arrived in our inbox at 5AM.

We made contact with her a couple days later and were relieved to hear she was doing okay. She ended that email with "Tomorrow I'm hanging out here then will be heading to the airport to sleep there. I'll see you guys at home on Thursday!"

This was early on Tuesday morning Seattle time.

Early Wednesday morning my cell phone rang. It was Chuck. He had checked his email on his way to work and told me to get on the computer. (Our cell phones are very old and don't have internet.) This is what was waiting in our inbox, "I just checked my bank account and it seems that the hotel I canceled, charged me anyway and now I don't have the money to get to the airport! I only have 7 minutes left of the internet and then I don't know what is going to happen. HELP!! I don't know what to do!"

She sent this at 1:00AM our time. It breaks my heart every time I think of her writing that email, knowing we wouldn't be seeing it for hours. Her walking back to the hotel, not knowing how she was going to get home.

She ended up walking more than 12 miles that day between the mall and the hotel that charged her, trying to get them to refund her money. She went back to the mall about the time we would be waking up and after we connected by email, we transferred money into her account and she was able to get a train ticket that would get her to the airport. We sent her a little more than she needed so she could eat. Due to the hotel charger her, she didn't even have money for food.

"Thank you SO much! I'm heading straight to the airport! I will see you guys on Thursday!"

Thursday morning I was at work when Chuck emailed me. (That man is an angel!) He told me that Diana's flight was going to be 2 hours late and she was going to miss her train. (She found it was cheaper to fly into Vancouver, BC and take the train here to Seattle.) Did I want to go on a road trip?! Uh, yea!!

We got off work early, picked up Sharaya (Beth had to work) and headed to Canada! Of course we ran into construction and at one point the traffic was completely stopped. I kept thinking of Diana coming off that plane knowing she had missed her train, having no money for a ticket home and trying to find a way to contact us. I felt sick. I could only imagine how she was gonna feel!

I was SO relieved when we got there before her plane landed. Sharaya, Allison and I stood in the airport, hoping, praying she would come to baggage claim before trying to find a computer to find another way home. Remember, there was no way for us to tell her we were there! 

Finally my cell phone rang. "Are you guys at home?"

"No, we're at at the airport." "Which airport?" "Vancouver." She literally sighed. She said her plane had been late and she missed her train. I told her that we knew and that's why we were there. I told her to get her luggage and some down because we were there waiting for her. Another huge sigh and "Thank you."

After getting in the car she said that as the plane was pulling away from the gate in London, the pilot told them they'd be making a 2 hour refueling stop. She spent most of the flight trying to figure out how she was going to get home.

We stopped for dinner, she said it was the first real food she'd had in days. We got home and she crawled into bed, exhausted and feeling a little betrayed by the city she loves so much.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tumbleweeds and Moss

For some reason lately I've been comparing San Diego and Seattle. Noticing the differences, smiling at the culture shock.

I was born and raised in San Diego. Well, actually east of San Diego, where it's hotter and dryer than the coast. If you heard on the news that San Diego would be 79 degrees, you can bet it was 10 - 15 degrees hotter where I lived.

When we first moved to Seattle I was a little shocked to see a guy power washing the roof of his house. "What on earth is he doing?" "Cleaning off the moss."

"What?! There's... moss on the roof? Why is there moss on the roof?"

Well, after having lived here almost 25 years, I now know why there is moss on the roof. It's because Seattle is so darn wet. There is moss on the roof and on the sidewalk and in the grass and on the deck...

Never saw a guy power washing moss off his roof in San Diego!

In San Diego, if you buy a piece of equipment to enclose the back of your truck so you can sleep in it or go camping, it's called a camper shell. Makes sense to me.

But in Seattle? It's called a canopy. Hmph.

In San Diego if you get hurt and need help, you call 911 and they send an ambulance. In Seattle they send an aid car. For a while I thought they were interchangeable but the other day I said something about an ambulance and the guy frowned at me. "You mean an aid car?" I sometimes forget Toto and I aren't in Kansas anymore. :)

You know what I've never seen in Seattle? A tumbleweed. You can often see them in San Diego, especially out in the more rural areas where I grew up. Makes me smile to think of a tumbleweed rolling along the ground during a warm Santa Ana wind.

In Seattle we have beautiful scenery; Mount Baker toward the North and Mount Rainier to the south. Sometimes driving down the freeway, you round the bend and Mount Rainier is visible like it's sticking right up out of the freeway. A huge, towering mountain of snow. We have the Puget Sound, a gorgeous waterway with cruise ships, barges and Washington State Ferries and sail boats. Unfortunately we also have very tall evergreen trees, Pine, Cedar, Hemlock, that usually block the views of the mountains and Sound. The sky can be brilliant but you'd never see it because of the trees. And after 25 years I can tell you the trees never change. All they do is get taller and block out more of the view. Our house is surrounded by them. Yaaaay.

If you want to see and smell Pine trees in San Diego, you have to drive an hour or so up into the Laguna Mountains. Down in San Diego they have Pepper trees and cactus and hibiscus and Palm trees. The vegetation doesn't grow super tall and the views can be spectacular. You can see for miles from many places in San Diego. But sometimes the ground is so dry it's hard to get things to grow. My sister goes out to her yard often during the summer to 'water the dirt'. It keeps the dust from flying around and into the house. We definitely don't have to water the dirt here in Seattle.

When the cool, wet, mossy climate of Seattle starts to get me down, I try to look at it from my sisters perspective. Every time they come to visit, they step out of the car and into our front yard. After taking a deep breath, they say our yard smells like Christmas trees!

I guess living in Seattle isn't so bad after all.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pizza Girl

I called DART recently to get Beth's ride times. When I gave the guy her name he said, "Oh! Our pizza girl!"

I asked him what he meant and he said that her letter and picture are hanging on the wall in their dispatch office and they refer to her as their pizza girl.

(Beth is home by herself a couple days a week so I give her chores or other things to do to keep herself busy and out of trouble. One thing she likes to do is write letters. So I've occasionally had her write generic letters - there's probably a dozen drivers and you never know who you're going to get - to her DART drivers telling them thank you for driving her to work. One time we included a picture.)

Our pizza girl. That made me feel so good!

Then last night her driver came to the door and asked if he could talk to Chuck. He told him that Beth was crying when she got on the bus at work. He had tried to talk to her but she didn't respond. He asked Chuck if they were treating her well at work, he wondered if maybe they were being mean to her. Chuck told him that they love her there and that he doubted that was the problem but he'd talk to her. The driver was really concerned. Chuck thanked him profusely and came in to talk to Beth.

I guess Beth was expecting to get her paycheck last night but she gets paid every other week and had the weeks mixed up. We asked her if she had asked someone at work and she said yes, but they told her they couldn't find it. I bet they weren't sure what she was talking about and she was too upset to come up with the words to explain herself. Once Chuck told her she'd be getting paid next week, she was fine.

But it has made me feel so good about how Beth is being perceived. She's puttin' herself out there and people are responding to her in a positive way. Makes my heart happy. :)

My Pizza Girl.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

She's Taking A Stand

I had a post planned for today but instead I spent the day with Sharaya. We moved Ryan from one shelter to another. He has continued to lie to her and steal from her to buy drugs so she told him to leave.

Tonight he's in a homeless shelter and he's terrified. Of course he called Sharaya and blamed her for it.

The only man she's ever loved has been mentally and emotionally abusive to her and she's taking a stand.

And she's hurting.

Lots of anger today.

Lots of tears.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Bluff

Sharaya and Diana took us to The Bluff last weekend. A beautiful spot overlooking Puget Sound. There were so many leaves! It was cold but we had such a great time. I'd love to go there for every season of the year!




If it seems like we were on the edge of a cliff, it's because we were.
I would get so nervous when they'd get too close to the edge.
You can barely tell from this picture but Sharaya is gripping Allisons leg. :)

It was so beautiful though!!

And so much fun!!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Duke and Duchess

All of our girls graduated from the same high school, in 2004, 2005 and 2009, and last night Chuck and I went to the Homecoming football game.

A few years ago they started a program called Sparkles, where some of the girls from the life skills class can try out for and become cheerleaders. Beth was in the Life skills class while she attended there but they never had anything like this! It was great to see all the cheerleaders on the sidelines, then lining up for the team as they ran off the field at halftime. Then all the cheerleaders stood in line and held the giant banner as the team ran back onto the field after halftime. It was just nice to see the school accepting them and including them in their activities.

When Beth attended there, the Life skills class was rarely, if ever, invited to assemblies or class activities. Beth wasn't in the Senior group photo for the yearbook, they didn't take part in Spirit Week, it was really sad. I asked the teacher about it a couple times but was always told that the kids didn't want to do it, or that it was too difficult to take some of the kids out of class and still have enough help in the class... I don't know, I always thought those were just excuses.

Last night they announced the Royal Court and the Homecoming King and Queen. Then the announcer said, "And for the first time ever, we'd like to introduce, from our Life skills class, the Homecoming Duke and Duchess ..." Oh my word! I thought that was amazing!

This school, who for years would barely acknowledge kids who had special needs, is now making changes. They are realizing that people with special needs are people too and they DO want to be included.

The Duke and Duchess. I thought that was awesome.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What Did You Expect?

What did you expect after a week of birthdays... except birthday pictures? :)

The day before Sharaya's birthday, while she was at work, Ryan helped us sneak our treadmill over to their house (we never use it) and set it up in their living room. She was very excited! 

She wanted to see the movie Gravity so we all went and saw it in IMAX 3D. Wow! Chuck and I bought a box of Good N Plenty but we never did eat them because there just wasn't a good spot in the movie to open them! The entire thing was so intense and I kept having to remind myself to breathe!

After the movie, we went to their house for cake and presents.

Beth wanted pizza for her birthday dinner, then for all of us to go bowling. It had been a long time since we've been bowling together and I had forgotten how fun it was.

Then back here for her cake and presents.

And now for the pictures...

Sharaya wanted a turn table but didn't expect to get one!

 Beth got her an album of one of her favorite bands.

Chuck putting our names into the computer.

 I have pictures of each of us bowling...
bowling isn't a glamorous sport. :)
So I'll just show you the pictures of Allison.

 This kid's got style!

Waiting for the ball return.

And this is where my camera battery died. 
Beth ended up with some paper and markers, a movie and lots of gift cards. She loves gift cards and asks for them every year. She makes birthday shopping so easy!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Back When A Gallon Of Gas Was $1.21

Back when Ronald Reagan was President...
When a postage stamp cost only 20 cents...
When the Dow Jones high was just 1,287...
When the national debt was a mere $1.5 trillion...

Back in 1984...

On October 10...

Chuck and I had our first child.

We named her Elizabeth Meigan.

She was an easy baby. Slept through the night in the hospital; fussed only when she was hungry or wet... listening to other moms I knew I had it good!

Beth was born in the 10th month, on the 10th day, at exactly 10:00 at night. Pretty special, I think! She has taught me so much over the years, most importantly how to care for the really important things. It doesn't matter what you wear, what color hair you have, if your ears are pierced or not. What does matter is your heart and how you treat people. Do you arrive on time? Do you show respect to those around you? Are you helpful? Those things make a difference in our society and I hope I do as good a job as Beth does.

We love you so much Beth! Happy 29th Birthday! 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sweety Bear

It was 27 years ago today that I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. We already had one baby and to be honest, I didn't know how I could love another one. But then I looked into her sweet, innocent face.

I fell head over heels in love with her! She was perfect. A perfect little nose, a little chin, I adored everything about her. And she was such an easy baby; she slept through the night even while we were still in the hospital; she only fussed if she was hungry or wet. This kid was a breeze!

As she began to grow she learned everything so quickly, was always happy and nothing really bothered her. Except her sisters, of course. One of her key phrases became, "Mom! She's boooothering me!" The more drawn out the bother was, the more they were really bothering her! I guess it's tough being the big sister. :)

When Sharaya was about a year old, I used to play a song called Sweety Bear. It was on a 45 rpm record and I don't remember the whole thing but I do recall something about 'sweet as sugar' and 'a fudge eclair, oh how I love my sweety bear.' I would sing this to her and she would tilt her head almost to the point of falling over! We would all laugh, she was SO cute! And, well, the name stuck. Even today I sometimes find myself referring to her as Sweety Bear.


We've come a long way from those Sweety Bear days. She's a wife now and has a 'sweety bear' of her own.



Sharaya, I still absolutely adore you! You make me smile, you make me proud. You are an amazing wife and mother, and I know God has incredible things for you and your family. Keep your eyes on the Lord and He will direct your paths. I love you! 

Happy Happy Birthday Sharaya!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Just Haven't Thought About It Much

This summer just flew by. We had a great summer with a lot more sunshine and blue skies than we normally get here in Seattle.

There were car shows:

There were fun days at the park:

Then one day, the weather changed. The sky got dark and the rain began to pour. We even had a small tornado touch down just south of us! It's been dark, cold and wet ever since. I can't believe summer is over and it's October already.

Beth has her Special Olympic tournament this month. I have a big meeting for our upcoming Thanksgiving outreach. A few of us need to update our food handlers cards. Diana is planning a big trip for next month.

For us, the year isn't measured in back to school shopping, parent-teacher conferences or Spring break. The kids are grown and life has changed. We don't see the changes in how fast they grow out of their shoes or if they need a new backpack so soon. 

Except for the changes in weather, life goes on pretty much the same week after week, month after month. I've been reading your 31 For 21 posts and to be honest it caught me by surprise this year. I hadn't even considered posting every day for the month of October. At this point, October is just another month. 

Well, sort of.

See, Beth was born on October 10th. What a week that was! I'm sure most of you can relate. :)

Then, two years later on October 6th, beautiful baby Sharaya was born.

So for us, October is a big birthday month. I've posted before about how we celebrated their birthdays together until Sharaya was about 10. She came and asked us if they could start having separate birthday parties. And that's the way it's been (for the most part) ever since.

So this weekend we'll celebrate Sharaya and next week it will be Beth's turn. There's lots of shopping, wrapping and planning going on.

And with my scatterbrained mind, I'll also try to remember that it's Down Syndrome Awareness Month. :)

Happy October!