Friday, July 31, 2009

Wildlife preserve

I took the kids to a local wildlife preserve this week. They take in injured animals and nurse them back to health. If the animals heal completely, they release them back into the wild. Some with serious injuries that would impair thier ability to survive in the wild are kept there. We walked around reading about all the animals. It was a fun little retreat.





Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We said goodbye to the Nissan today. May he be happy resting in pieces as he is sold for parts.


PS: the cash for clunkers program sounds great, but it is somewhat picky about what a clunker is. The car must get horrible gas mileage in order to qualify. Our Nissan guzzled as much oil as it did gas, but still got 40 mpg to its last days... so it didn't qualify.

Monday, July 27, 2009

all is well

We got the van back today. It was a belt and the water pump. It could've been much worse. Luckily I stopped fast enough that there is no engine damage from it overheating. Go me. lol!

Now to find someone to haul off the nissan...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The saga continues

So, as you know, our Nissan has been retired from service. We still have to get it out of the driveway, but we're working on that. With our very strict budget we went searching for a new car. In one day, Benson drove about 10 different cars, trying to narrow the playing field for what we wanted. He really liked one of the cars he drove, a Mercury Milan, but it was out of the budget, so we moved on. Well, sort of. What really happened was I got ambitious. I was certain that we should be able to find the car we want in the budget we had. We just had to get creative and start really looking hard. I scoured the web for hours trying to find a good deal. Most of the cars I was finding were listed for between 12 and 16K. Just plain too much. Anyway, I was thrilled to find one listed in our budget, so Benson went to check it out.
It passed his test, and he got a great deal. In fact, the window sticker price said 15,900. There was another couple who came to buy that same car after Benson had already committed to it. They had already negotiated a price of 12,900 for it. Lets just say we didn't pay anywhere NEAR that. Its a beauty. Anyway, the day he paid for it, he couldn't drive it home since he had driven there by himself afterwork. So, we went to pick it up yesterday. We packed the kids up in the minivan and off we went.

Benson looked like a little kid in a candy store. He was just thrilled with the new car. I wasn't at all familiar with the area the dealership was in, so I asked Benson to drive right with me home.

As we were driving home, I noticed a squealing sound that was new. Not so great. Not too long after and the battery light came on the dashboard. I called Benson and told him to watch me closely, because the car wasn't acting right. I then said a quick prayer that we would get home safely. About 5 minutes later, the engine temperature started rising. I tried to grab the phone, but couldn't dial because I was freaking out too much, so I just put on my blinker and pulled over. I'm SOOO glad Benson was paying attention. He pulled over too. We had nothing to cool the car down and we were at a bad spot on the highway, but we were close to an exit. So, we slowly drove the car the short distance to get off the highway. When we opened it up again, Benson was able to grab the broken belt and pull it out. At that point it was obvious we couldn't drive the car ANYWHERE even if it cooled down, so we called for a tow truck. Unfortunately, 6 people don't fit in the fancy shmancy new car. So we packed the kids in and I left Benson to ride along with the tow truck.

So, I *could* whine about my bad luck and the cost of repairs ... but instead I choose to be SOO GRATEFUL that Benson was right there with me when the car broke down. If the belt had broken when I was by myself with all the kids, it could've been really dangerous, and much harder to get home. The Lord did answer my prayer: we all got home safe.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bully's

I just don't get it. At all. Yesterday I got to go participate as a parent leader at Goose's cub scout day camp. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but what I got was certainly NOT it. The first hour was a bit chaotic and felt somewhat unorganized. The project the boys were supposed to make was a compass. With a glass of water, a needle and a piece of styrofoam. First of all, what boy scout would NOT have a compass, but would have those supplies. Exactly. Anyway, it was fine, good concept lesson for the boys, learn the reason a compass works... The problem was that the activity took about 15-20 minutes less than the time that was allotted for it. One of the Mom's took action and got the boys started in a game of duck duck goose. However, lets be real, these boys are ages 8-10. Duck duck goose isn't quite as fun for them as it was when they were 3. A few of the boys started to get restless. And therefore the mischief began.

It was a group of 2 boys to begin with, then another joined a bit later. They were just insistant that they must be getting into some sort of trouble. First they were picking on susceptible boys. Tripping them "on accident" and the like. Later in the day, they moved on to name calling, and when that got boring, they just started trying to sneak away. All of the parent leaders spent the entire day watching these 3 boys like hawks to make sure that they didn't do anything irresponsible. They were consistantly put into time outs and taken out of activities, but it was obvious they just didn't care. Not so ironically they were all little angels during the archery and bb gun shooting. No one wanted to be pulled out of THAT activity.

In hindsight, one of the boys in particular should have been sent home. He seemed to be the ringleader and instigator of the problems. The other 2 boys were happy and willing to go along and take part.... and they were all very proficient at explaining away their actions and acting very innocent. I hope the leaders today had better luck with them than we did yesterday. Scouts should behave better than that.

Please help me understand. What in the world makes kids act like that? What is fun about being mean? What is fun about being taken out of activities constantly. I realize they were probably bored, but what goes on in their brains that makes them think that making fun of and hurting other people would be good entertainment? It really bothered me. Goose's personality is such that he often prefers to hang out by himself. I've worried all day yesterday and again today about these "bullies" picking him out as a fun target. So far so good... I hope it lasts.

Both days, Goose has had a great time, so I guess that is what really matters.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

11 years

Happy anniversary Benson! You are the love of my life. Thanks for taking the leap of faith and following your heart.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I have good news . . .

. . . and bad news. Which do you want to hear first?


Lets start with the bad. My darling little Tank isn't quite indestructible. She has developed a hernia and has to have it surgically repaired. It will be an outpatient procedure, but she will be under anesthesia. We've scheduled it for early August. Ugg.

The good news is that Benson doesn't need surgery! He injured his thumb about a month ago at work. He doesn't know exactly what the injury is, but the thumb was pulled backwards and he heard a loud audible pop. The x-ray showed no breaks. He's been wearing an immobilizing brace since then, but is still in constant pain. The specialist told him yesterday that it should heal on its own, with physical therapy to help. We are tempted to seek a second opinion based on the level of pain this far out... but I guess we'll see about that. In the mean time I'm just grateful to be only planning on one surgery in the near future.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Decisions, decisions

So, our latest bit of news is that Benson's reliable little car is ready to retire.


It began life in 1994 and in 1997, it became part of our family.
Benson drove that car from Seattle to visit me in Utah on numerous occasions when we were dating, but living long distance from each other.

We drove that car from Utah to Chicago the summer when we were going to get married.

It brought us home from the temple on that life changing day when we got married, and drove us to our honeymoon as well!

It was this car that I nearly got a ticket in just days after delivering Sweetie.

It was this car that I drove like a maniac for my very first mothers trip to the ER. (without a carseat... screaming child ready to jump over the seat... that's another story I should tell sometime.)

It was this car that had the radio stolen out of it while Benson was at work one day. It still has no radio!
It was this car that Benson did get a ticket in without proof of insurance, expired registration and expired license.

We've put 120,000 miles on this baby. In addition to the trips across the country, it has faithfully taken Benson to and from work for years. This includes the bank job he had that was an hour and a half away (on a good day), and the current restaurant job that is an hour away. Its been a very reliable car, getting, to this day, 40 miles per gallon on the highway!

Unfortunately, this car also needs a quart of oil with just about every fill up. The driver side door hardly latches shut anymore. The oil , seat belt and brake lights never go off. This car has no air conditioning (never has). It has no power steering. What put the poor car over the edge was that it is in need of a new muffler, and a complete brake job... We've got metal on metal braking now. We got an estimate for getting the car in running order again and just the absolute necessities were going to cost over $2000, doing everything they recommended was over $4000. The blue book value of the car is a pathetic $150. We just couldn't justify the cost of the repairs, especially since it doesn't even address the oil leaking issue or the door able to fly open at any moment issue.

So we say goodbye to the faithful Sentra and hope to find a new used car as reliable as it was. We've driven about a dozen different cars and its SO hard to decide! So far, at the top of our list are

2006 Ford Fusion approx 27K miles
2006 Mercury Milan approx 41K miles
2000 Honda Accord approx 75 K miles

I hate decisions. URG. Wish us luck! (and opinions welcome)

Friday, July 10, 2009

All Life's Blessings

Hey all,

I've decided I really want to start a multi-authored blog where we could all add just a line or two when we recognize a mini-miracle in our lives.

If you hadn't noticed, we've had a lot of trials in our life lately, and I would love to have a place to go to read short glimpses of heaven. Where everything is positive and can help me recognize the blessings I have in my daily life.

For example:

Yesterday while I was outside with my kids, I saw a beautiful white butterfly. It made me feel as though I had an angel watching out for me. The butterfly may not have been a miracle, but the feeling was!

I found myself starting a chat conversation with someone I generally don't chat with, but she didn't answer right away. A while later, I was feeling frustrated and overwhelmed when she happened to see my IM and wrote me back. I was so grateful to have someone to talk to at that moment who could REALLY understand what was going on.





When life is hard, it is really easy to not notice the mini-miracles that occur daily. Let's not let them be overlooked! Lets share and uplift each other.

If you would like to be an author for this blog, let me know. (please please please consider it! It won't be nearly as successful without several people contributing. And a line or two won't take much effort! Plus it will help YOU to tune into the blessings in your life too!)

Visit the new blog here: All Life's Blessings

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Footprints


Footprints in the Sand


One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?”

The Lord replied,
The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you.”


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

FYI

I had someone ask if the picture posted below with my flashback post was real. It is! No photoshop there! Just an amazing moment caught on accident with an old film camera.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Home of the free, thanks to the Brave

We went to the Glen Ellyn fireworks last night, and they were AWESOME. We were able to have dinner with friends to start the evening, then we played a mean game of Farkle. :) It was a great time. The fireworks topped it all off. Thanks for a great evening Janelle!

(PS I really thought Twister was going to scream through the fireworks. He hates loud noises like the vacuum and the lawn mower... You can see his reaction in the video.)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Flashback approximately 1990


Our family decided to go to Wisconsin for the fourth of July that year to visit my grandma, aunts and uncles. I was about 12, and the whole clan decided to brave the crowds downtown Milwaukee to see the big fireworks. There are 8 kids in my family, and with our cousins and everyone, we probably had 20 people. We carried our blankets, snacks and games to play until the fireworks actually began.

Somehow, amidst the group of our 20 family members, and the millions of strangers in Milwaukee, I suddenly found myself walking along the sidewalk alone. We were together a second ago, I turned around and thought I must have gotten ahead. Nope. Maybe I was behind, I looked ahead and saw millions and millions of people, but not my family.

I was so scared. I walked along that sidewalk scanning the crowds for what felt like an eternity. I was searching for a policeman too, but only saw strangers. It was horrifying. I prayed like I'd never prayed before. I wasn't even sure what I would tell a police officer, I knew my grandma's name, but not her address or phone number. I remember the smell too... beer.

I got really scared as it started to get darker. The firework show started and I still couldn't find ANYONE. I really don't know how long I was lost, but I imagine it was at least an hour or so. I cannot even begin to describe my feelings when as I walked, I FINALLY recognized my Mom. They were sitting right by the sidewalk. I probably passed them a dozen times without noticing. I sat down next to my mom and started bawling. She looked at me slightly puzzled and asked what was wrong. She had thought I had sat down by my sister, and hadn't realized I was missing yet. I remember the finale starting about that time.

I've never really fully gotten over my fear of crowds. I have a hard time going places that I am unfamiliar with, and am extremely paranoid of losing my kids.

The good news is that I still LOVE the fourth of July fireworks displays. I have NO desire to see them downtown Chicago, but the local ones are better anyway in my opinion. I'm hoping the weather holds out so we can go see some good ones tonight.

Happy Independence day everyone.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Reunion 2009





I sort of hate to post again, because I was really enjoying re-reading about my adventure when I logged on. It was sort of like it would be a good place to end. However, I still have to record about our family reunion! Another good stopping place, but don't count on it.

So all of Benson's family made the trek from their various home bases across the country to meet in St. Louis. We couldn't complain about our 5 hour drive when Benson's brother drove all the way from San Diego! Others travelled from Minnesota and Washington! Our reunion was centered around a reception type celebration for Benson's parents 50th wedding anniversary. Yes, FIFTY!

On Friday we spent most of the day visiting while we set up the church for the celebration. I was so impressed at how everyone came together to make it a success. The food was amazing, the "entertainment" (a slideshow and wedding cake recreation) was beautifully done, and the decorations were great! I think everyone enjoyed themselves at the party. Best of all, my kids behaved themselves. (whew!) The only damper on the night for me, was that Tank was in the bathroom a ridiculous number of times. I was worried she might have an infection, so I took her to the local urgent care. Luckily it wasn't an infection, but we are following up with our doctors about some other problems that were related.

Anyway, one of the top, ok, lets be honest, THE TOP priority for while we were in St Louis was to go to Ted Drewes. This is a custard ice cream shop that is truly to die for! Most of the family went one night around 11pm and the place was PACKED! There is no place to sit, you just walk up to the window and sit at your car to enjoy. There is no explanation for the place's success except for the AMAZING ice cream. If you are ever in St Louis... TOP PRIORITY!

Anyway, on Saturday, the ENTIRE family went to Six Flags St Louis. It has a water park and amusement park in the same location. I have some issues with crowds (have I ever told that story here? 4th of July when I was about 12?) ... so anyway, I had a hard time relaxing while we were there. The kids had a blast for the first half of the day hanging out in the water park area. Twister LOVED the water! He was sooo entertaining to watch. He would walk under the water mushroom type things, he would have this surprised face everytime... you know the one where they look like they could burst into tears at any second... but instead he would walk out and just laugh! It was hard to keep track of the other kids, but the place was somewhat contained, so we just let them wander around with their cousins, checking in every so often.

The second half of the day, I was lucky enough to get Twister to fall asleep with Opa, so the rest of us were able to go to the amusement park. Goose was happy to go on any rollercoaster that was not fast, or have any big falls or upsidedowns, or twisting. *sigh* In other words, not very many rollercoasters looked fun for him. He ended up enjoying the kiddie type rides with his sisters. Benson and I were able to leave them with cousins and family a couple times so that we could go on bigger rides. I think my favorite was "The Boss". Good times. The kids favorite thing ended up being a turn on a trampoline while hooked up to a safety belt. The spotters helped them jump ridiculously high and if they wanted they could've done flips etc. I think my kids just jumped. :) Overall, it was a good day, but it was hard to spend quality time really enjoying all the extended family.

You should've seen us at church on Sunday. We took up 3 full rows, and that was a bit squished. :) You couldn't imagine a prouder OPA on Father's day. :) It was a really awesome sight. We were even able to take a family photo with all of us. We were only missing one of the cousins who wasn't able to get leave to come.
I think my only complaint about this reunion was that it seemed to end too soon. I enjoyed the times where we were just able to sit around and chat. What can I say, I have some awesome in-laws! Looking forward to the next time we can get together!