Brrr Baby it’s cold outside!

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
Edith Sitwell

          Not too long ago someone asked on facebook, “What is your favorite childhood memory concerning the holidays.” It was not really the holidays, but more of a winter holiday.  This year’s cold weather started with a bang.  We’ve already seen more snowflakes this year than we have the last three years combined.

Winter was always the time of year when we seemed to be more of a “family” doing “family” activities.  My most favorite memory was playing cards with my sister, mom, dad, and myself.  My parents taught us Pinochle. It was sort of a family rite of passage to learn.  For the longest time my sister and I were partners and my parents were partners.  We got to beating them so bad we had to change it up.

There were always laughs and jokes.  My mom always had this bad poker face.  You just knew when to bid against her and when not to bid.  The wood stove was always warm and there was a nice supply of goodies and nuts to snack on as well as, hot drinks. There was always soft music playing in the background. It drove my mom nuts when it was classical music, so during the holidays it was nice to just hear Christmas tunes.

Every year one of the local radio stations would play 96 hours of Christmas music.  One year my dad used is cassette recorder to record a good majority of those songs.  My favorite tape he would play was the Music Box Christmas.  I have always had a thing for classical Christmas tunes.

For many years my sister and I would come up with an idea of how to “present” the Christmas story.  One year I did it on my own.  I used construction paper to make all the characters in 3-D.  That Christmas was special because our adopted grandma Clare came for Christmas Eve dinner.  I read and acted the Christmas story.  Even had my dad use a flash light to light a golden star that was hanging on the tree.  This was also the Christmas my dad realized “breaking” in mom’s dining room chairs wasn’t a good idea.  Gramma Clare got his chair and leaned back…. She did not fall over but poor old lady thought she was going to go over backwards.

The last memory is a tradition we carry on with our kids.  I always looked forward to the stockings.  It was not so much the toys in them but three other things: ribbon candy (old fashioned kind), an orange, and a bag of nuts.  Ok honestly, I never cared for the nuts.  As an adult I realized I missed out.  I loved the shape and look of the ribbon candy!  The orange…. What can I really say except “YUM!”

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Head in My Hands

No matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse.”
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

     Well…  This was completely unexpected.  There was a small ounce of doubt, but the decision was not as we honestly expected…  Enough about this…  I want to brag!!

Football was awesome for Andrew this year.  We aren’t sure if he will play next year.  He enjoyed playing, but isn’t sure it is his thing.  We are glad he gave it a try.  He played really well considering he hadn’t tried it before.  I think he is like his older sister….a musician.  The finished the year having two loses, a tie, and four wins.  Not bad!

Speaking of musicians:

Marching band came to a conclusion this last weekend.  Amanda’s band qualified for state and placed fifth.  Of course I’m partial and thought they should get first place.  😛 Either way I am so proud of her.  She started this journey this last summer.  Everyday they would spend 8 hours on the field learning to march and learning the program.  To top it off she had to learn and memorize the music.  Not an easy task.  She has done spectacular for her first year!

next up….. swimming and diving.

We got some awesome but already known information about Amber.  She’s one smart cookie.  According to last years TCAP she scored above average on all tests for reading, writing, and math.  Dan and I always knew she was just naturally smart, but the test results don’t lie.  Now we just need to figure out how to harness her brains for something she enjoys.  She really enjoys art.  So I’m thinking about fostering that creative side and enrolling her into art classes.  I’ve said it time and time again…. I’m so glad we don’t push our kids in the direction we think they should go…we just open the door and follow them down their journey. Oh, and she is having her science project displayed at the district level and she will compete against other 5th graders.  Awesome!!

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So fall sprang up on us before we even had a chance to catch our breath from this summer.  Seems like I came home from our trip to Pennsylvania and BAM!

I really have not had the brains to sit down and focus or write.

My mind is a muddled mess.

We did everything we could to avoid a situation…. unfortunately someone couldn’t do their job and just give us the honest truth.

Honestly is better than being led into a falsehood.

“No matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse.”
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

I picked this quote because I know how bad this could go.

First: shock.

Second: anger.

Third: the desire to make it someone’s fault.

Fourth: feeling sorry for yourself.

Stick that into a cauldron and you have a recipe for disaster.

But the question remains… how to change all that and try to find a positive in an extremely negative situation?

How do you convince someone it’s not his fault and to look forward to the unknown with an open heart and mind?

How do you look life in the eyes and convince yourself that growth will come of this?

What do you say to someone when you drop them off at the airport? have a great time… enjoy your vacation?

How do you prepare yourself for two years of lonely nights and emptiness?

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I’m tired of this house being torn apart.  There truly is something behind the power of an everyday touch.  A transference of energy from one person to another.  How do you compensate for that? How do you go so many months without a hug or a kiss.  Sure… with the gains in technology the voice will be there….but we are an actions speaks louder family.  Words only confirm action.  It’s an observation I’ve made. Like telling my child I will be there….but it really didn’t matter until she saw me there.

How do you fill the void everyday?

How do you avoid making hardship worse?

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A Year Ago Today…..

Hard to believe that a year ago today was the big surgery! A year later and we’re getting Amanda ready for High School, another year of junior high for Andrew, and Amber’s last year of Elementary (unless that changes in Japan).  If you would have asked if I thought things would be so good, I’d have probably laughed.  I remember the drive to Denver early in the morning.  Most of it was spent praying and trying to find that zen spot in my mind.  I was so excited that the cancer was finally going to be cut out of my body, but scared about how the physical rehabilitation was going to be. A year later and things are pretty much “normal.” I get stronger everyday.  The only thing that has changed is my daring side.  I tend to really think about things before doing them….like jumping off a bridge.

I’m starting to feel like I’m back to normal.  Well my usual normal as I know it.  It’s funny.  I can always measure my emotional state on how well my house operates.  My house is finally staying clean.  I guess a secret to me: when the house gets out of line…there’s something not right.  I like a really clean house.  I know that is something from my mom.  Her house was always clean.  Either we helped or she just did it all.  I like for my family to come home for the day and not be surrounded by clutter and dirtiness.  I feel like those two things breed negative energy.  I know they do to me.  I feel like I don’t have many options to show my family I care.  At the moment I’m unemployed so I can’t take them out for a special day….or buy them something they need.  I can’t give extra towards a family night.  I can how ever try and provide a clean environment and a good cooked meal.

We are still waiting for the code to drop off of Dan so he can be officially put on orders.  I think it’s driving him crazy….and me.  We have a pretty good idea on where we are going based on the only person in his field that is leaving.  I’m trying to create some sort of binder in my head of information.  There are a couple of really good website out there with lots of information.  I have a messenger camera bag I can carry with me on the plane.  It has plenty of room to carry my camera and equipment along with room to carry a binder of important documents.  I’m also trying to come up with some sort of a check list for when the time comes to do the actual move.

I’m excited about the move.  It gets me going through things and deciding if I want it or not.  A few days ago my two pack rats actually went through their stuff to decide what they did and did not want.  The clothes we donated to the Goodwill.  Actually they are sitting in the back of my blazer.  I’m trying to find out if Dan is serious about a yard sale or not.  If he is, then there are things here I think I could sell.  If not, it’s going to the Goodwill.   I think I should start researching and learning things about the country.  Maybe some sort of guide about the culture.  The last thing you want to do is go to a country and start out by insulting the people.

A quote has been with me this week:

“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”
-Dale Carnegie

    I’ve been really distracted by discouragement.  One aspect I won’t discuss, but the other is towards my photography.  I’d imagine a good part of it is just lack of attempts…but to be honest I can take technically sound pictures, but they are just pictures.  There is no WOW factor to them.  I think either my eyes are messed up or the lenses I was using are messed up.  Just about all of my astros were blurry and the rest…just pictures.  I guess maybe I rushed myself through a lot of them.  My main focus was spending time with my best friend.  Looking back, I’m glad because I probably won’t see her in person for a few years.  But still, just flat disappointed.  I’m not sure that finishing school would help, but I know having a mentor for sound advice sure would help.  Maybe I will meet someone in Japan who can offer that.  I’m not going to let this get me down.  It’s great encouragement to keep trying.  I think what I need to do is look at them again and write down what I dislike about them.  Figure out perhaps what would have been a better way to take them.  Again, it would probably has a lot to do with practice.

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Letting the Polar Bear out of the Bag

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

Last week I had posted on facebook about suprises.  To me, suprises come in all shapes and sizes.  The surprise given to us was described as an elephant…today it comes as a polar bear. So here its:

WE’RE MOVING TO JAPAN IN NOVEMBER!!

Dan called me on Thursday this last week to find out if I’d be ok with that idea.  He actually started the conversation out with, “Would you be mad if I said yes to something without asking you, first.”  I actually thought he both went out and bought something or…. I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  Of course I said yes.  Then a split second later I worried.  The whole purpose of staying here was to make sure our two older kiddos stayed in one place for high school.

Our oldest daughter is swaying back and forth.  Part of it is the unknown.  Here she knows exactly what she has in front of here.  There, she doesn’t know.  Really she made the decision to go because it is new and exciting, but inside it’s scary. I respect her so much. I respect that she’s willing to let go of comfort and stick her neck out there for something different.  Her dad and I know that no matter where she is, she has the grace and beauty in her spirit to be successful.  She’s proven it time and time again.  Our youngest wasn’t sure what to think, either.  Her and I spent the night looking at Japan and the different things she can do over there.  We found out that CYS offers surfing lessons and roller hockey.  I think the roller hockey sold her.  It isn’t ice hockey, but pretty close.  Bub… Bub looks forward to the historical aspect.  He’s really into WWII history and he’s excited to go to a few places and actually see and feel where it all took place.

You all know me… I can’t help but have a million and one pictures flash through my head.  I look forward to the food, also!!  It’s going to be an unforgettable adventure. We only have four short months to get everything ready.  Parts of me are full of anxious energy.  We don’t exactly know which place we will be going.  Once we do we can start setting things in motion.  Dan’s fear is us not all going together. I know it’d make things much easier if we did.  We are going to do everything we can to get Sav with us.  I know one place it is highly recommended that you not take pets to.  I’m hoping we don’t go there.

What is so interesting is what happen before this.  Over the 4th of July we had a family reunion with Dan’s family.  I spent some time with my family.  Took a road trip with one of my best friends and the other is coming out in a few weeks! It’s almost like the writing was on the walls!

So, let the adventure begin! Highs, lows, and everything in between!

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Dirty Toes

I’m a dirt person. I trust the dirt. I don’t trust diamonds and gold.
Eartha Kitt

So where does this post begin?

July 3rd a good place to start?

Not really.

I can say that we had a great family reunion. It was awesome to see Dan’s family and we had a really good visit.  I had fun playing in the pool with the kids and catching up with everyone.  Sometimes it still feels awkward to all be together.  I did try my best to chat with my sister-in-laws.  I know we’re not around much, and when we were…I never really took the time to sit and chat.

The crazy part were the little ones.  Sitting there watching moms and dads chase little ones around and remembering how complicated life seemed.  There were so many extras you had to haul with you.  I did feel bad at one point.  One of the little ones gets night terrors when she consumes too much sugar.  Well I had given her a little extra cotton candy.  For the most part, I think it was a good gathering.  It would be awesome if we could do that once a year.  Maybe not around the 4th of July. Everything was so expensive.. but at some point in the year.

Dan, Bear, and Bub went back to Wyoming the following Sunday.  Little Bee went to his parent’s house and I came back to my mom and dad’s house. This is where my story really starts.  I came here for one reason and one reason only…to battle myself and find some sort of deep courage and strength.

I came here to quit smoking. Crazy to think I needed to leave my “world” to do it…but in a way I needed that desert island to make it happen.  I needed to get away from the temptations and just focus on myself.  I knew there were 1 million and 1 things that needed to be done around here. I could keep busy….get away from the temptation to buy more… It’s been a rough week.  I didn’t just quit cold turkey.  I started limiting myself the amount I smoked.  Today will be the first day to go without.  Well I had my two and then tomorrow there will be no more.

When I first start I actually would panic about not having any.  I have learned that once that starts happening I just stop…take my shoes off and let my bare feet touch the ground so I can absorb the earth’s energy and pray for strength and courage.  Eventually it all passes and I return to work. Needless to say…my toes have been dirty a lot lately!

There’s a saying that keeps going through my mind:

It will take you just as long to swim back from that island as it took you to get there.”

Not sure where I heard it, but I know there is truth in those words.  All I can do is stay positive and busy…and try not to eat myself out of house and home 😉 Trying to snack on healthy things like fruit, salads, veggies, and drinking water by the gallons.

It’s defiantly an adventure that isn’t going to end anytime soon!

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Family Matters and a True Statement of Character

     We are one month into summer and have so much to be thankful for.  Yesterday was the close of an act in a play that I do not plan to repeat nor write a second scene to.  I finally had my port taken out.  For those who don’t know what that is…it was a device put above my right breast just under the skin.  Attached to it was a line that went up my chest, over my collar bone and to Grandmother’s house… wait that’s not right.  Seriously, it went into my carotid artery down to the top of my heart.  When I’d get chemo they would have to use a special needle to access it.  SO when I’d say I was getting plugging in…that’s what I was talking about.  They did this because of the high doses of chemo I was getting.  Not so much the amount of fluid, but the amount of toxic chemicals.  It they would have just accessed a vain, my arms and veins would have been shot in no time.  That little thing is finally gone! Its like saying we are finally finished.  As long as I could still see it, feel it, I wasn’t cancer free.

     Yesterday our youngest daughter turned 10. 10!! The night before, both Dan and I were sitting there wondering where on earth 10 years had gone so fast! It’s hard enough to believe we have an almost 14 year old…let alone some how the youngest had turned 10. No more single digit birthdays.  When we got home from he hospital I had expected that she would be awake patiently waiting to have cake and open presents.  yes, it’s a family tradition to have birthday cake first thing.  Even if that means it’s cake at six o’clock in the morning.

  Daddy actually had to wake her up.  We had a yummy cake.  Probably one of the best combinations, ever! She had me make her a strawberry flavored cake with vanilla frosting. Originally I wanted to layer the cake, but the cake stuck in my rectangle shaped pan. We were going to put fresh strawberries in between the layers.  Instead we put fresh strawberries on top.  Her cake was labeled “Happy Birthday Bee!” in pink gel and to top it off it had red fine sprinkles.  Her choice of ice cream was chocolate that had brownie chunks. After the frightful singing of “Happy Birthday” she got to open presents.

  Best darn present any of my kids has ever gotten: a cotton candy machine!  This was way too much fun and we were surprised how much cotton candy you could make.

     Thankfully we bought extra cotton candy sugar.  The machine we got did not come with any.  According to the directions, you can use crushed hard candy.  When we took her shopping, to spend her birthday money she got from family, we got her some candies.  She picked peppermints, butter scotch and root beer.  I’m going to crush them in the food processor and we will see what happens. After cake and shopping Daddy make the birthday lunch.  Lunch instead of dinner because bub had a baseball game.  I personally was in a food coma after lunch.

     Last night Bub had a baseball came.  I am really excited about this team he is on.  It was a rough start.  The coaches he started with … glad they got replaced! One coach thought the boys should do football style conditioning for an hour and the other coach did nothing but hit balls and the boys and yell at them in broken Spanish/English.  Most of the time Bub had no idea what the guy was saying.  They were replaced by an excellent coach.  I, along with other parents, believe that eighth grade and down is the time to learn the fundamentals of a sport.  Hone in on strengths and fix weaknesses.  Conditioning is excellent!  But you have to create a program that is specific to the sport.  Yelling at kids and not taking the time to explain what you are talking about is pointless.  Not to mention it shuts the kids down.

    So this new coach we got is amazing.  He doesn’t stop coaching the kids and working with them. He really reinforces the fundamentals of baseball.   What is more amazing, he emphasizes sportsmanship! So far we are undefeated.  One game it was a nail biter, the other three games were blow outs.  What was awesome about last nights game was the actions the coach took:

  •  After the second inning it was 12-0. He told the boys they were no longer going to steal on wild pitches
  • He put in those who aren’t the best at certain positions (like a pitcher who isn’t the best but wants to pitch)

This is outstanding because it is no fun to be on the other side of that game.  We could have probably tripled the score before the night was out, but instead he decided to make it fair and recognize the situation.  He taught those boys that just because you are winning, doesn’t mean you don’t have the chance to show real character and to keep learning.  Normally Bub plays third base, left or left center.  He plays that side because he can throw a ball really far with accuracy. Last night he had Bub on second base and catcher.  Bub played catcher a few years ago.  Well, the coach pulled him after two pitches because the ball had gone behind him.  Instead of just coaching and encouraging he was pulled.  Last night our coach kept encouraging him and after a handful of pitches he was catching, no pun intended, on and doing really well!

In the end the score was 3-14.  Way to go Rangers! The coach gathered the boys up and told them “You can have all the talent in the world and still lose games.  You guys win because you have heart.” That is the best line told to kids I’ve heard in ages!

  The coming week are only going to get crazier — but I’m loving every moment!

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Fantastic!

The difference between a Good day and a Bad day has less to do with the circumstances
than the power we have over our thoughts
.”
– Neil Sutton

    I really believe that quote has some power behind it. You know how you always hear about the power of positivity in healing… I think it applies to everyday life. I’ve really been tested in this category the last few weeks. Another favorite quote:

I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day.
And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes
you have an opportunity to change that
.”
-Gillian Anderson

    SO those thoughts aside… Yesterday was FANTASTIC! Probably one of the more memorable birthdays I’ve had. I started my day out with:

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   Coffee and my best friend. The night before both of us were boobing in our drinks about how we missed each other and how much we looked forward to her coming this way in a few weeks. Me being silly…I made a “Wilson” version of her. Unfortunately, no one in this house plays volleyball so a long lost baseball in the back yard had to suffice. After morning coffee my son made me waffles! Except once we got our plates…we realized the three of us had about a tablespoon of maple syrup to share. We all sat at the table talking about the day. I actually struggled for a moment. I was having a change of heart.

    Bub has found a new niche. He really likes making Mincraft videos. Since my camera has HD abilities…that the top choice to use. The night before, he asked if he could use my camera in the morning to make a new video. He went into depth about his topic and because he’s so passionate about it, of course I said yes. But, sitting at the table I was struggling to follow through. I knew Bee and I would encounter something while riding bikes and I knew I’d want to take a picture. As hard as it was, I let him use it.

    Yes, we found many things we would have taken pictures of. Bee and I went to the Fountain Creek area to ride bikes. I learned the day before that there is a trail that runs from Fountain Valley all the way to Monument. It’s about 30 miles. Wouldn’t that be a fun trip sometime…but not yesterday. It actually goes right through down town and the Air Force base. Perhaps next year? Any ways, we rode about four miles of it. We stopped in many places for water breaks. Ok, so mom could have a rest. It isn’t so much about being out of shape as it is fatigue in my leg. I can honestly say I am so proud of Bee. She has an amazing ability to spot all sorts of things. She spotted blue herons, turtles on rocks (that were across one of the ponds), fish eating off the top of the water, and cacti with blooms.

    On our way back to the blazer, I told her that when I was a kid, I used to pretend like my bike was a horse and I rode it everywhere. She said that was what she liked to do, also. So we rode our horses as fast as we could back. We stopped along the creek to give them a break. We both wanted to get our feet wet but we knew we had more things planned and didn’t want to get wet. We found a special rock to keep. Everywhere we go, we always find a special rock to take home. We put a date on it and add it to the collection of places we’ve been. We loaded Midnight and Duke into the blazer and went home.

    When we got home Andrew was done with his videos. I worked to transfer them from my camera to the desktop. It would take about 15 minutes to transfer them. There were two videos about 20 minutes long. My computer isn’t exactly new, so it took a few minutes. I decided to sit down for a bit. Let my battery recharge for my camera and decide what was next. I decided I wanted to go over to Memorial Park. I think that is what it’s called. It was the same park they do the balloon launch from. First, I wanted to head over and get some sushi rolls from the Asian store. I can’t recall what exactly happen, but as we were driving over to Academy, it started sprinkling. Looking at the mountain I knew we wouldn’t have much time if we went to the zoo. So I changed gears and we decided to go to the zoo.

    When we got to the zoo, the one thing we enjoy the most is riding the sky ride, was shut down because of the weather. Most of the time we wonder through the zoo visiting our favorites and at the end we ride the sky lift to the top and have a bucket of cotton candy. We were all bummed out but decided that we would go see our favorites. We always start out feeding the giraffes. Baby Waldo sure is growing up! We could reach down and feed him giraffe crackers and scratch the top of his head. He seemed to like that a lot. I always go into the barn and feed the ones on the inside. Most people don’t go in there because of the smell. It was really crowded today so we skipped through quite a bit. We did venture through the African Safari. Bub hasn’t been to the zoo since they opened the new exhibit for the elephants. We have to wait for the 4th of July for the lions to get into their new exhibit. Bub also hadn’t seen the new reptile house. He really enjoyed it.

    Lets see… After the zoo, the weather really moved in so we decided that since the monsters in our bellies were eating our back bones we’d go grab a bite to eat. I wanted my sushi rolls so we hopped along traffic to get over there. Went inside…all to find that they were sold out. After careful consideration we decided to go to Mc Ds. Not a favorite, but it was food. Bub ate a quarter pounder in five bites while Bee and I shared a few chicken nuggets. We wanted a frozen strawberry lemonade, but the machine wasn’t working. After a snack we headed home. By the time we got home I could honestly say that I was wiped out! I decided that I’d take a nap and figure out the rest of the day when I woke up.

SO why those quotes? I picked those quotes because so many things could have turned Monday into a “bad” day. I hint those by turning the text green.

The difference between a Good day and a Bad day has less to do with the circumstances
than the power we have over our thoughts
.”
– Neil Sutton

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