Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Turning 40

Most of you know that I am usually behind on blogging. This post about turning 40 is no exception! My birthday was January 5th and here we are in April when I'm finally blogging about it. Oh well, better late than never, right?

I know that turning 40 is something a lot of people fear. I did not. Don't get me wrong, when I was turning 30 I had all sorts of friends asking me if I was ok, was I freaking out? I kept saying I was fine and then two weeks before my birthday I completely lost my marbles! Why didn't I feel that way turning 40? I have some theories because if nothing else, I've become more reflective in my life ;) So here is the long reflection...

When I was turning 30 I was very unhappy with myself. I was severely overweight, I was in a miserable soul sucking job, I was tired, cranky and frazzled much of the time. I'm not saying I was unhappy with my life but I was absolutely unhappy with myself. A couple of years later great things started to happen. I "retired" from my miserable job, we had Alyssa, I joined PTO, I loved being home with the kids and taking care of everyone. All those things brought me great happiness but I still didn't like myself for a myriad of reasons. When I was 35 I decided to join Weight Watchers and I lost over 90 lbs over a period of 2 years. I am still working on my goals because I did learn that for me, managing weight is a forever process. I think that losing that weight also helped me lose a lot of emotional baggage once I realized WHY I ate like I did and I started to like myself more. 36 rolled around and I decided that looking back, I had kept myself from doing a lot of things because I worried about what other people would think. I finally realized that it's ok for me to want things for ME and that if those things make other people uncomfortable, that's their problem. I got my boob job and my first tattoo within 6 months of each other ;) Two things that I had wanted since I was about 15 years old...it's never too late to accomplish the things you want for yourself. The more I allowed myself to recognize that it's ok to be yourself and be true to yourself, the happier I was.

There is definite happiness I felt from being married to Shane and having the kids but there is a different happiness I found from myself by finally accepting me for who I am. I don't have to hide what I think will drive people away. I'm not saying that I go out of my way to be obnoxious but I am to the point that I realize I'd rather you hate me for being my true self than to love me for pretending to be something I'm not. I still pause from time to time...wondering, if I say or do this or that will it drive someone away? Would it keep this person from being  my friend? So far, the answer is no. I feel lighter. Not just because I've lost over 100 lbs by now but because I keep reminding myself not to weigh myself down with unnecessary crap.

Another thing I have struggled with for a great portion of my life is religion. I was raised Catholic even though I never felt comfortable in church. My mom had me when she was in high school and raised me on her own until she married my (step) dad when I was 14. In elementary school the kids at church were mean to me. Some of them insisted that if my mom wasn't divorced then I HAD to be adopted. Some said that there was no way I could have been baptized Catholic if I had no dad. The ugliness escalated from there. Looking back, I realize that most of those kids probably didn't have those thoughts on their own, they were just regurgitating what they heard from their parents. Regardless, that's not an overly Christian attitude. Or is it? Is that the problem? Faith is just not something that I come by naturally. I also don't come by it forcefully. Believe me, I've tried. I did take a break from church from high school to around age 32. Shane and I decided that baptizing the kids would be a good idea. We joined the church he had grown up in and I jumped in with both feet. I thought that surrounding myself with good church people would help me find my faith. I even taught Sunday School to Pre K/K kids for 2 years. I hoped that some of their faith would rub off on me but at the end of the day...it did not. So here I was, struggling to feel what I just don't because atheist can be such an ugly word. Since losing my father in law in 2012 I would have to say that atheist is the word that best describes me. Maybe Agnostic...I just don't know at this point. A label seems pointless in some ways. I do not believe in God. There, I said it...in black and white. Maybe there will come a day...a moment that I will feel differently but for now, this is where I am in my life. Once I was able to admit to myself my feelings, I felt a burden lifted off of me. I felt peace in my heart. I do not strive to be a good person because a bible tells me to. I don't do it to assure myself a place in heaven. I do it because it is the right thing to do, it feels good to help people and to be caring. There is so much ugliness in the name of religion that it completely turned me off to the idea of pursuing it any further. I have often said that Christianity would be great if it weren't for the Christians. Yes, I know..right now someone has their dander up. I know not all Christians are that way but I encounter more who are than not. I just hope that if nothing else, our kids will look back and say that we did good things for people we loved and people we didn't even know.

So there it is, part of what 40 years on the planet has taught me. We lost Mike at age 60. I will not complain about getting older, it is a gift. I am more thankful than ever for every day I wake up, period. That's one more day I get to participate in which, oddly enough, is something Mike used to say when I'd ask how is day was going. "I was able to participate." And sometimes, that's enough.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

We had an awesome Easter weekend!! We had a nice and relaxing Friday with all the kids home. The weather was cloudy and breezy, so beautiful. Saturday we had another nice and quiet day until joining our neighbors at their church. That was quite an experience! They go to a very contemporary church which is very different from what I am used to having grown up going to Catholic churches and then Episcoplaian churches in more recent years. Some of our kids really liked it (as Savannah said, it was more like a rock concert than a church sermon) while a couple were not as impressed. I am glad we went, I know it meant a lot to our neighbors :) There were some awesome food trucks there too and FREE COFFEE! HA! You all know I can be easily suckered in by free coffee.

Sunday we had a brief egg hunt in the backyard. Griffin and Alyssa had a lot of fun! Cassandra and Savannah went out and grabbed a few eggs each and then were done. They missed out, Griffin and Alyssa made over $20 each in egg money. You snooze, you lose ;)

We had a family dinner at Buca di Beppos with my parents, sis, Shane's brother & family and Shane's step mom. It was a great dinner, we laughed a lot and just had a good time all around.

So, as usual, here come the pictures!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Here we are on the eve of April Fool's Day! I admit, it's not really a holiday I gave much thought to before. However, 2009 changed my view of it forever.

A couple of days before April Fool's Day,  Shane had not been feeling very well. He got really pale and clammy while putting together some bookcases. He was sort of breath and said he just didn't feel "right." He went to lay down and just didn't look good at all. The next day we went to the doctor and he didn't do much but say he thought that the leg pain Shane was complaining about was nothing much but a pulled muscle. We go home and follow the doctor's directions only to have Shane wake up the next morning (April 1st) to a swollen and streaked leg. Off to the doctor we go again...this time he sends us for an ultrasound, still swearing that he doesn't think it's anything serious.


So we go for the ultrasound, to make a long story short, he had blood clots in his left leg. We were sent immediately to the ER where they started running a lot of tests. The doctor came in to tell us that Shane's lungs were peppered with blood clots. He actually said it looked like someone had put their fingers in red paint and flicked the paint at Shane's lungs...

His awful feelings the days prior were because he survived a pulmonary embolism. The doctor emphasized "survived" because in his words, not many people do. That left us eight days of a blur in the hospital while the doctors tried to figure out why Shane had blood clots. He had none of the typical triggers for blood clots, he didn't have a recent surgery, doesn't fly in planes a lot, doesn't sit for long periods of time. After several days they finally did genetic testing and found that he has Lupus Anti-coagulant.

(for more information, take your pick!)

What are the major symptoms of LA (besides the obvious blood clots)? Well, they are 1. early hair loss
2. difficulty losing weight
3. insomnia

^sounds like someone I know and love! In addition to those symptoms, Shane had been having horrendous night sweats for over a week prior to the pulmonary embolism. Night sweats are a huge red flag for a few major health issues, please do not ever ignore those!

The good news is this, Shane has a pretty normal life with his medication. He has a few food items he has to avoid but other than that I think he has good control on his LA. The downside is that it is hereditary. The kids will eventually be tested as they get a little older.

I am always thankful to have Shane in my life but watching him survive all that and see our life together flash before me...made me all the more thankful!

The point of my ramble? To get the word out there on LA. Shane had worked so hard for so long on his weight, been to sleep centers for his insomnia and just accepted that he had thinning hair. Each of those symptoms seperately may not seem like anything earth shattering but I sure wish that one of those doctors had listened to the fact that he had suffered with it all for so long and perhaps dug a little deeper before we had to give him the title of "survivor."

Saturday, March 22, 2014


I swear I say this every time I log in to post...I can't believe how fast time has flown by!

I still haven't posted the fantastic pictures from my 40th Birthday in JANUARY! WTH?

Anyway, February wrapped up nicely for us. The weather was warm fast, we hit the low 80s by the beginning of the month. We did get a couple of "cool downs" to the low 70s and we loved every minute of it! March kicked off with a fantastic trip to Cannon Beach, Oregon :) This is one of our favorite spots and has been since Cassandra was about 14 months old. We did a beautiful scenic drive up through northern California's coast/Redwood forests. It makes for a longer drive up but I think it's really worth it! The weather was glorious in Oregon, we only had rain the day we arrived and the day before we left. Other than that it was sunny (which I could have lived without, HA HA!) and chilly! Most days we were in the mid to upper 50s.

We visited the beach all but one day. We ate at our favorite spot, Camp 18, TWICE! We found a new local spot to hang out, Icefire Glassworks. If you ever go to Cannon Beach, I strongly suggest you take your family there! The place is owned by a husband and wife team who are real characters :) They do demonstrations of glass blowing as you watch behind a glass wall. It is fascinating! All four kids sat and watched for almost 2 hours the first visit and a little over an hour the 2nd visit. They are so personable and they walk you through the process as they go. After each piece is done they stop and come out to chat with you about anything and everything. They are on Facebook, check them out!

Aside from an amazing vacation, we are enjoying what is left of our 2nd week of spring break. It has included  A LOT of sleepovers with friends and playdates. The weather is nice, a little warm but I am actually thankful it's only 84 right now as we have had many a March where we reached 90-100 degrees!

Here are some pics from our trip!

 Kick off breakfast at Cracker Barrel in the west valley!
 Dad looks ready to get out of town!
 Beautiful Northern Calif weather.
 Northern Calif
 Almost to the Oregon border
 Camp 18 in Elsie, Oregon
 I had a bunch of coffee and a "cup" of clam chowder! Delish :)
 Kids outside of Camp 18 with the resident cats.
 FINALLY at the beach!
 Haystack Rock

 Second trip to Camp 18, pics by the river :)

 Icefire Glassworks
 Roosevelt Elk near our trail at Ecola Park.
 View from the hike...
 More view from the hike...
 Me and my sweet at the top of our hike!
 Crazy boys!
View of Haystack Rock from Ecola Park

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I see this quote often, even more around Valentine's Day. Sure, it's a nice quote and maybe it even applies if you have two people in a relationship where neither person ever opens their mouth. Not what you expected? Let me back the train up a little bit...

I believe it is important to be kind and caring to the person you love. However, let's be realistic. Love is messy. It can be ugly, jealous, temperamental, crazy, unpredictable, soft, gentle, easy going..love can be all those things. Just because your love doesn't fit in the box of the quote above, doesn't mean it's bad love or the wrong love or you are some horrible person.

I have been with Shane since I was 17 years old (I'm now 40) and we've weathered a lot of storms. I wanted to be the easy going wife, the one who didn't bitch at him for every little thing. I wanted to live and let live, not nit pick, not be surly. I wanted harmony and peace. Maybe this deep desire was because I grew up with couples who fought like cats and dogs and I made up my mind that I did not want to have a relationship like that. My downfall? I took it totally the opposite direction. I said nothing (usually) for fear of becoming a  nag. I could justify, in my mind, why I should not say anything about pretty much everything that bothered me. What was the result? A lot of built up hostility, a picture in my mind of why certain things were the way they were because I rarely discussed what my perception was. Now, please know, I was not a miserable person. I have a happy marriage but it's so much happier now that I realized it's okay to speak up. It's okay to say when you're hurting or pissed off. The alternative can cost you everything and I know this much more personally than I care to. You have to learn to communicate and it's scary because nothing puts your heart more "out there" than opening up to someone the things that you feel tear you down.

So, a bit of advice. Find that balance though I know it's hard. Try. If after 3 months of picking up his midnight snack remnants off the floor pisses you off, tell him. If it doesn't really bother you, then don't. Don't let it fester. Some things are worth mentioning, it is all in your approach. The truth is, it may not totally be about the food on the floor, it may be about the fact that you bust your ass keeping things clean and you want the respect of the person you love to not aimlessly trash it. Figure out why you're pissed before you go on a crazy spree! You want more spontaneity? Say so. Are you tired of being the aggressor? Say so. Chances are, the person you hold dearest in your heart has a few things on their mind as well. If you ask the question, be prepared for the answer even if you don't like it. Communication doesn't promise that you will like all that you hear but I promise if you keep an open mind/heart, it will be the best thing for you both. Sure, men are tough and strong on the outside but they are fragile hearts on the inside. Be thoughtful with your words and sharing your feelings BUT you owe it to yourself and your relationship to keep YOUR own heart protected and happy too.

I have loved Shane for as long as I can remember and we still learn new things along the way. I'm not always right and he isn't either. I have to remember that my feelings and wants are important too. I do not always have to put myself last. He is like an adolescent when he's expressing his feelings at times but I don't mind because at least he IS expressing and that act keeps us moving forward. And let me tell you this, after 20 something years together...forward is the direction I want to be going, still together.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Day 2013

Ok, so maybe I am in a push to get these holiday pics posted because January 1st is looming over my head, LOL!!!

Here are Christmas day pics. We had a great day! I was up before the kids, I had the candles lit, coffee on, music on, camera ready!!! Savannah was the next one up. We sat and drank coffee and talked about the piles of presents, she wanted to guess on what she thought things were. We talked about my grandma and how much she loved Christmas and how she shopped a list like EVERYTHING on it HAD to be bought. She didn't use a list as something to "pick from" she used it like a grocery shopping list that had to be bought in total completion. She just wanted everyone to have everything they wanted...she had a true spirit of giving for the holidays.

We talked about Mike and the fun things he did on the holidays. I know that his holidays growing up were not what we gave the kids now. It was fun to watch him become a kid again with his grandkids.  I like watching Shane be a kid again too ;) There is something very attractive about watching him shed the (over) maturity he carries every single day and just cut loose, be playful.

Once Griffin came down at 7:00 am, we went ahead and woke the rest of the crew. It was a frenzy of wrapping paper and smiles. Everyone seemed very happy and very grateful for what they received. For the first time in about 5 years, we hosted Christmas dinner. It was SO NICE to be home for Christmas day. My parents, sister/Elijah and Elijah's parents all came over for more presents and dinner. What a wonderful BUSY day!!

So, without delay, pictures!