Friday, April 17, 2015


Here are the details on our big, big, HUGE day.

We have a walk through at the new house this morning. Assuming no one is scared off by all of this snow, courtesy of our first big spring storm. This is actually a very real concern. Schools are closed and there's over a foot of snow outside. Eeeeek.

Gosh, now I'm remembering when the people who bought our home in MN came for the walk through and I cried the entire time. They probably thought I was crazy. I thought maybe I was crazy. Crazy for selling the house and moving to who knows where. Because at that point it really was who knows where since we were going to be in Omaha for 7 weeks and didn't have any idea where we'd end up after that. I mean, we knew Colorado and the Denver area, but that's it. Gosh, looking back on this, how did I think it was a good idea? Did any of you try to talk me out of this? What were we thinking? Ha!

Here's what we were thinking: let's go chase a dream. Let's see what's out there. And, man, are we glad we did. We miss many people in MN. Many, many people. (Hi. If you're reading this in MN, I'm probably talking about you. Miss you! Come visit. We're about to have a spot for you.) But we're home now. And this morning we're getting one last look at our new home before it officially becomes our new home. Hooray!

Then we'll go to closing.

Then we'll have a house. A house with a big, beautiful yard for baseball and tag and bonfires and observing nature and maybe trying our hand at high altitude gardening if we're feeling really, ridiculously ambitious and like we want to spend a lot of time and effort in order to feed the elk population. A house with a big deck connected to our school room so we can just pop outside and do our lessons on the gloriously sunny days we love. A house with bright red walls in the master bedroom and fuschia walls in the master bath AND on the ceiling, because apparently the previous owner's daughter's motto regarding painting is Go Big or Go Home. A house where we will raise our kids and make memories and laugh and cry and laugh some more, hug and argue and hug some more, grow and love and grow some more.

We have a lot of work to do. Some of it will happen before we move in and other projects will wait a while. But we are all so eager to get settled, invite the neighbors over for an ice cream social, play ball in the backyard, and get off of the real estate roller coaster that has been our life since last May when we put our house on the market.

So, after closing there will be a lot of squealing. There will be five very happy humans in our family and one who'll squeal along with us because we look happy so he should, too.

All six of us. Together. Right where we should be. Wow. It was a long time coming. Less than a year in the physical sense, but many years in the emotional sense for our family. So, yes, a loooong time coming, but it feels so good.
a picture from our first visit to our new hometown back when we were in Omaha and drove to CO to scope out the situation

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

lessons. teachers.

I am my kids' teacher. As a homeschooling mama, I fill out the lesson plans and correct the assignments, ensure they take the state-required tests and hopefully help them love learning in the process.

I am my kids' student. They have so much to teach me every day about life and laughter and faith and humanity.

Last night I was brushing Audrey's hair after her bath. Out of the blue she asked me why God let bad things happen. I asked her what kind of bad things she was talking about. "People getting hurt and being sick and people dying. . . well, not dying." I told her that I wondered the same thing. That if God can do anything, why doesn't God just take all of the bad things away. I also said that even if the person dying isn't in pain anymore, it usually leaves a lot of people here on earth really sad.

"Yeah. I know what you mean," she replied.

I asked her why she thought God didn't take away all of the bad, hard things in people's lives.

"Maybe because we have things to learn from the hard stuff. And then eventually the hard stuff just becomes easy." (She saw this in action yesterday while watching her little brother endure the horrible injustice of having to learn to subtract nines when clearly that is enough to kill a person. But, wait a minute, he kept at it, listened to me explain it in a different way, laughed at his silliness, and got every problem right. Hard stuff gets easy.)

I asked her if she had any ideas about what we could learn from going through hard times. She thought about that for a minute, but wasn't sure. I continued brushing her hair. Asher continued pulling on her pajama pants leg.

I said, "Maybe it's so we realize that we're stronger than we think we are. Or maybe so we see that God had a plan for us all along and we just wanted it to end in a way it wasn't supposed to end. Or maybe it's so that when things start getting easier again, we help people who are having a hard time just like people helped us."

We talked about buying our house and she said it's weird to think that we don't really have a house right now. I let her know that not owning a house is very different from being homeless and that we're so fortunate that no matter what happened, that would not happen to us. She agreed that even if this house hadn't worked out, we could have lived with nana and babu for a while and something would have worked.

There are so many things in this life I don't understand. It's really enough to fill volumes of encyclopedias in hundreds of thousands of languages. But I know that there is room to grow and learn and love everyday. And I am learning it from a host of people and experiences, but especially these four people I am lucky enough to call my kiddos.

I love these little lessons, these beautiful reminders, that happen in the quiet moments of life. I love my little teachers.

What life lesson have you been reminded of recently?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Our favorite little creek

We recently said goodbye to Minnesota and all of its 10,000+ lakes, including the one less than a mile from our front door and our favorite day trip lake, Lake Superior. Luckily we ended up in a town with a lake, although it's not for swimming, and right in the heart of Bear Creek Canyon. I didn't know Bear Creek existed when we chose our little mountain town. We picked it for a lot of other reasons, but Bear Creek is quickly becoming one of our favorite little places to explore, throw rocks, get soaked, and relax. There is just something about the sound of water bursting over rocks and bubbling along gently that soothes a ragged spirit.

A few weeks ago the sun was shining and the breeze was gentle. Asher, Audrey, and I picked the boys up from co-op and headed to a park to splash and play and run. I may have said do not cross the creek up to your waist right before we go to the car and I might have been immediately ignored which might have been really annoying, but other than that, we had a wonderful afternoon. It is such a treat to get to know our new town and state.

Asher was along for the fun; he just stuck with me since I can just imagine him trying to learn to swim on his own by diving headfirst into the water. He's got to keep up with those big siblings!
Here's the get soaked 20 seconds before we're getting in the car against your mother's explicit directions not to moment.

Many of the days since these pictures were taken have been a bit more difficult, but yesterday we went back to the creek and had a nice little afternoon of playing. We're looking forward to more fun days ahead.

What's your favorite spot to explore in your hometown? 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sickness and Nursing a toddler

First, I will say that Asher is doing much better now, but over the course of five hours he went from perfectly healthy to shallow breathing to vomiting all over himself and me to 102 fever to EKG to chest x-rays to absolutely lethargic to giving a weak little smile and asking for "nack" in a quiet little voice. If you know Asher, you know he isn't much for quiet little voices, although he does love him some snack.

I was working on a sweet little post for today. It'll have to wait. I know there are kids who are sick every day. And as a mother and a human that just breaks my heart. Kid is sick. Mama needs to make it better. That's just how it should be. And it really, really, really sucks when it doesn't work that way. Like, more really sucks than I could ever write.

Today Asher woke up fine and dandy, had a fine and dandy breakfast, and was fine and dandy as we dropped Audrey off at co-op. Then he started to look really tired and I asked if he wanted to sleep and he said, "nigh night." Again, this is not normal behavior. I brought him up to rock him to sleep and I noticed his breathing was really shallow and fast. With a family history of SVT, I felt his heart and it was going fast. I know baby's heart rates are faster than grown-up's, but this was fast. I held him and he fell asleep, but his breathing never slowed down to that deep, slow breathing we all know and love and associate with a baby sleeping peacefully. He woke up a half hour later and Isaac went up to get him. Asher didn't raise his hands up to get held and just sat on the floor when Isaac brought him to the basement. I went over to him and he was grunting with some of his breaths and still not getting deep breaths. I told the boys to grab something to eat because we were going in to urgent care.

I was trying really hard not to freak because that's not helpful. Asher threw up during the short car ride there. We got in right away and they took his temperature, pulse, etc. The doctor came in and he threw up a few more times. He could hardly keep his eyes open. He was whimpering my name and clinging to me. He didn't care when they took his blood pressure or stuck stuff up his nose or hooked up the EKG. HE was just so out of it. He didn't talk much, but he did say, "milk." "milk, mama."

Now, there are times I wish we were done nursing for the convenience factor and for the having my body back to myself factor. And I'm sure there are plenty of people who will read this and wonder why I'm still nursing a 19 month old. I won't get into all of the reasons, but I will say that our life has been in enough turmoil since Asher was 11 months old and this is something he knows. It helps comfort him and let him know he is safe. He feels secure and loved. I know there are millions of ways for children to feel that and he probably feels loved and safe for about 999,999 of them, but nursing is one of the ways and it is has been part of our relationship since day one. We will stop when he wants to stop or when things are more settled in our lives and I want to push the subject a bit more.

But I will also say that I have never been so glad to be nursing this toddler than today when he was hooked up to an EKG and puking up breakfast and getting checked for pneumonia and flu and asked for milk and it calmed him. His cheeks pinked up a bit after being pale. He looked up at me and didn't whimper. He was calm.

After ruling out a lot of things at the doctor's office, we got home and I sat next to my boy while he took a bath to get cleaned up from EKG stickers and blueberry puke. We don't know why he got so sick so fast. He will be on Tylenol for 24 hours and given a mild diet. If anything changes we will go directly to Children's ER. We have a follow-up appointment with the same doctor tomorrow to assess the situation.

For now I'm sitting on the couch. My three bigger kids are watching a movie and I'm nursing Asher as he drifts off to sleep with the clicking of these keys, my breathing, and some of his favorite songs sung softly acting as his lullabies.

happy pictures taken on a calmer day

I'm celebrating the fact that Asher smiled.  After a scary and overwhelming morning, that makes me smile, too.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Maundy Thursday. Good Friday. Celebrating. Remembering.

Last night these two sweetie peeties had their First Communion.

And this sweetie peetie sat (mostly) quietly through all one and a half hours of the service that ended past his bedtime, mostly thanks to the seder dinner and its leftover matzah cracker the size of his head that kept him entertained. He also enjoyed playing with my necklace (still intact) and my eyeballs (still attached to my head) and his lift the flap, Where is Baby's Belly Button? book (all flaps still in book). I cannot oversell the magnitude of all of these victories, people.

And this sweetie peetie, mature, awesome, 11-year-old thoroughly enjoyed his first Maundy Thursday experience, asked if we could do it every year, and was a beautiful reminder that church with kids not only gets easier, but gets really, really fun.

Last night I experienced my first seder meal. The sanctuary was rearranged to make room for tables so that all 170+ of us there could share a meal at tables of 8-10 people. It was a learning experience for our whole family and such a special night for Audrey and Elliot to take communion for the first time.

We dipped parsley in salt water, ate a hard-boiled egg as our appetizer, and enjoyed matzah with horseradish and honey, celery, lamb, and charoset, along with grape juice. I appreciated learning the history behind the meal and felt so close to Christians all over the world and throughout time as we sat there and shared a meal that has been eaten for centuries.

After the meal we transitioned to Jesus' instructions about Holy Communion. Again, the beauty and timelessness of the traditions just settled into my bones. (I couldn't get too sentimental about the whole thing because Asher decided this was a fine time to lean over my seat to try to reach the pew next to us so he could get an "ah-dee-dah," which is his word for any writing implement.) Elliot and Audrey just took the communion class on Wednesday, then we spent part of school on Thursday reading and comparing the different stories of the Last Supper in the four books of the Gospel. Elliot found this particularly fascinating, so throughout the church service he would lean over and say, "This is just like what it said in the Bible." . . . "I just read this today!". . . "Doesn't this sound so familiar?!" It was the sweetest.

The kids taking their first communion and their families were called up to the front and given bread that the kids baked on Wednesday. Then each child got wine in a cup that they got to take home that was painted by a high schooler from church. It was just beautiful. Elliot forgot to say Amen, but Pastor Vera reminded him and both kids stuck their tongues out and looked absolutely disgusted after drinking the wine. They tried it at the class, but apparently it's just as nasty the second time. Audrey said she will never have it again and Elliot will try again in one month, but if he doesn't like it, back to juice he'll go.
The kids with Pastor Vera. Note the matching red cowgirl boots.

After they took their communion, they passed out the bread and wine to the different tables around the room. They felt very fancy and important! Everyone shared communion at their tables. We sang a few songs and prayed. Then at the end of the service it was time to strip the altar. Pr. Vera gave us some background information on why this is done. The altar signifies Jesus' body and his body was stripped and beaten, therefore our altar must be bare, too. It shows how he was treated and how he was left to die. Someone started beating a drum in that rhythmic beat that always reminds me of war. Death. Destruction. The first communion kids went back up and helped carry all of the beautiful pieces off of the altar. The candles. The cloth. The bible. The bible holder. They carried them to a back room and came back for more until it was empty.

And empty it shall remain today, Good Friday.

And tomorrow, Holy Saturday.

As we remember all that was given for us. The pain and humiliation. The destruction and lies. The death of our savior.

But not Sunday. Sunday everything changes.

But, for now, we sit in this darkness, with this bare altar, remembering. Waiting.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Jesus was a man

The first time I went to a Good Friday service after giving birth to my first son, I sat there and bawled my eyes out. Truth be told, I have done the same every Good Friday since. I'll do it again in two days.

Jesus was a baby. He had a mother. She kissed his ouches and lamented his cowlick, maybe nagged him to do his chores without dawdling and watched in awe as he grew up right before her very eyes. She worried about him with a worry I can't come close to understanding since she had angels proclaiming his majesty, God making a way for him to enter this world, and the knowledge that he was so much more than her son.

Jesus was a baby. Toddler. Boy. Teen. Man.

Like my boys in so many ways, but also so different. Set apart for majesty and miracle, yet still just a man. I forget that sometimes. The human part. I marvel at the grand love and sacrifice, the gifts and miracles. On Palm Sunday, our church used drama in telling parts of the scripture. Our pastor spoke about the fear Jesus felt as he accepted a fate he knew awaited him. In spite of the fact that I was sitting in the back pew of a crowded church with my four children, not so conveniently armed with palm branch swords, ticklers, and elephant trunks, I became reacquainted with the human side of Jesus. And that side of Jesus makes this story so much more amazing.

I was freaking out about our inability to buy a house. That level of uncertainty was really about to throw me straight over the edge of crazy. Even though the closing hasn't officially happened, I can already look back and see how ridiculous I was being. (Now, if the closing falls through, I'm not saying I won't take the short train back to crazy, because I probably will. I'm just saying I'll know how silly it is in hindsight.)

Yet here is Jesus, this man, staring his death in the face. Starting Palm Sunday being celebrated and lauded, loved and adored. Then serving his disciples, washing their feet, and telling his best friends they will deceive him, kill him, ignore him, lie about him. Knowing that he is part of a much bigger story, but also aware of the fact that he will die the most gruesome of deaths that his very human body will feel 100%.

Jesus was a man. And he accepted his fate, knowing just how bad it would be and trusting it was necessary.

And I complain about a house.

On Thursday our church will serve a traditional Seder meal as part of its Maundy Thursday service. Two of my kids will receive their First Communion that evening. I will sit in a darkened church. Our pastor will come to me and say, "DeNae, body of Christ given for you. Blood of Christ shed for you." I will say amen. I will share a bit of bread, made by Audrey and Elliot and the other kids taking their First Communion, with Asher, who will promptly say, "MO!" I will watch my kids partake of that same blessed meal. And I will remember just what those words mean. Body of Christ given for you. Blood of Christ shed for you. For me and you and all of us. And I will be thankful. And I will trust.

Because Jesus was a man.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March Fitness goals update-it ain't pretty, people!

In the beginning of March I used this little blog post to note some goals I had for the month. All I can say about that is HA. HA. HA. HAHAHA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA. (deep breath) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAHAAAAAHAAAAAAAA! #4weeksfit. Ha! #4weeksfail.

It is safe to say that I earned the epic fail portion of my blog's name. I failed to take many, many things into consideration when I made those goals. I have some valid reasons why I failed and some excuses as to why I failed, but, yes, failure it was.

And I'm okay with that. It was one of the most stressful months of my life, I had a few sick kids, my husband was out of state for the vast majority of it, my toddler went on a sleep strike, and life happened. As is usually the case, it felt like all of life happened at the exact same time!

The good news is that I got a few runs in, the kids and I hiked and explored a lot, and the world will keep on spinning. I still have time to prepare for my June half marathon. I did have a great 10 mile run on Saturday and a fabulous 3.1 mile run today, so all is not lost.
Pike's Peak in the distance

about 5 miles into my 10 mile run. I GET to run here!

And, that is life. Goals set. Goals met. Goals not met. We get to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start fresh. Start fresh with a new day or month or year or even hour.

So, I'm starting fresh in April. It's bound to be crazy with our upcoming move. But, that's life, too. So, let's do this, April!

How did you do on your goals in March? You really and truly couldn't have failed as miserably as I did! What do you have coming up in April?

To share my raging success (sarcasm) with even more strangers, I am once again linking up with Kristen and Erin for #4weeksfit.

Love, Fun & football