Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Summit of Kamiak Butte

I've taken tons of pictures up on Kamiak Butte and it looks precisely the same: a 3.5 mile trail around a chunk of hill sticking up above the wheatfields. The "back side" which I hiked first is mostly in the shade, but it's much steeper. Then once I reached the top I had a fairly easy descent, marred by outcroppings of the granite batholith backbones poking through the wildflowers.

I didn't trip this time. Yesterday I hiked the Butte and tripped. The hiking stick I use to balance myself when I step wrong over an unseen detail on the path got caught in a bush beside me and I fell forward, downhill, landing hard on the packed earth. I fell onto my left knee so now it looks like the knee of an eight-year-old who fell off her bike. I hate tripping. One of my biggest fears is falling, not falling off anything high like a bridge, but just falling. The sensation of the world turning sideways and my stomach leaving my body as I wait for painful impact. Once, on my thirteenth birthday, I tripped on a chain sidewalk divider and fell hard, spraining both wrists. The memory of that fall is still sharp and clear in my mind. Another time I was skiing and thought I'd take a short cut to the lift. What I couldn't know was that a 4-foot drop was hiding in my blurry vision and the picture of snow rushing toward my face, the feeling of heart-stopping fear and the ages-long wait for the coming impact still play through my mind.

Today, though, I didn't fall. I carried a pack full of books to simulate the 40 pounds I'll haul on my back through the Idaho backcountry in four days. I willed my lungs and back and leg muscles to get stronger, to carry me along the trail. The three-point-five miles took me one hour and 41 minutes.

As I struggle along a trail, I cringe from other hikers, some of whom pass me from behind, stepping easily along as if the earth has somehow excused them from the effects of gravity. Today I met a mom and several children, as young as my children, skipping merrily. Four boys ran down the trail toward me like mountain goats, their tennis shoes pounding a sure-footed cadence as they raced one another. There was a man with a dog, an Asian couple and a middle-aged woman who asked me to help her find the trail as it had been covered by orange fencing and a sign telling hikers that the old trail had been washed out, was replanted and please use the new one.

I struggled up the back side today, gasping for breath, fighting with my legs to take another step, straining to see the rocks that arose from the path to trip me. Why is this so much harder for me? Am I the only one who has to stop to breathe? Who tugs the shoulder strap higher onto her left shoulder to stop the fiery pains from shooting down her spine? I learned very early in life that "fair" is not a concept based in reality. Not in my reality, any way. Even the asthma medicine or new glasses or Chiropractor work or faith prayer or "getting in shape" can't get me to the level of performance that most people take for granted. It's life. My normal.

Four thousand, five hundred and seventy-two steps later, I reached the top. I summited, not little Kamiak, but my own mountain. Fear, it's called. Fear of what other people think of me toiling and sweating away up the trail. Fear of falling. Fear of pain, of fatigue. I stepped over the top of the hill and there, beyond the trees the dear, friendly wheat fields spread out below me like I knew they would, rolling away over the miles and miles of flat country below the Butte. Every step up that hill, I'd had to tell myself that one more step would get me there. And when I stood on the top I felt like a conqueror. I felt strong. My heart pumped pure blood through my veins. I had pushed my body like the athlete I would never be. Maybe not in comparison with those people for whom a hike around Kamiak is a 30-minute stroll. But I'd pushed myself beyond the place where I was this morning, standing at the bottom with a bandage on my knee.

As I walked down the trail on the "front side" the breeze dried the salty sweat on my arms and I watched the green and gold patchwork quilt unfold on the Palouse below me. Suddenly it did not matter how many other hikers passed me. The insidious rocks on the trail no longer scared me. It didn't matter how well I could see or how much my back hurt. I had found a place within myself where I felt strong, where I alone could tackle a mountain and summit. I remembered again why I love to hike. Why the mosquito bites and the scraped knees and the blistered heels don't matter. Hiking is something I can do. I probably won't ever run marathons or get a star membership at the gym. If life depended upon me hitting a baseball, I'd likely curl up and die. I've been hit in the face by more basketballs than I care to count. I've made my peace with the fact that track stars and tennis balls and roller derbies won't be in my future. But today I stood on top of a mountain. Maybe in the eyes of others it's only a hill; to me it was a summit.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ten Months!

Apologies for the crappiness of these photos. I forgot to take a picture until it was dark out, so the light was terrible, and also my camera got left in CdA, so I was using this little dinky video camera and, well, there you go. Not my best studio quality shots. :(

Monday, July 26, 2010

Looking Ahead



"The Future Elders of BBF" ~Our pastor.

(This was at our annual church picnic Sunday afternoon.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Why my cat hid all day

Hi, this is me.



I didn't brush my hair today.

I know, it's not very bright to put a picture of yourself at the top of your blog post, but hey, I do things a leetle unconventionally at times. Just once in a while.



Oh yeah, we had my first ever yard sale today.  As in, I did not know what I was doing.  But I did it anyway!  I spent all week sorting through every possession that was stored in every closet in our house and putting most of it on my front lawn.



This is my daughter.



She was even more excited than I was to have a yard sale.  Until her toys started disappearing.  Then she realized the evil plot her Daddy had tricked her with.  He had gone on a plastic-purging rampage.  When her toy parking garage sold, I reassured her that the little boy who bought it would have loads of fun playing with it.  She gave me a teary, lopsided trying-to-be brave smile.  I just about went to Walmart in search of brightly colored plastic parking garages.



This is my son.  He wandered around, oblivious to the fact that the toys on the blanket were disappearing.  Happily collecting things in a old Easter Basket, he spent a pleasant morning disorganizing everything I set out.



This is a record of the amount of junk I put out.  I had several people ask me how it had fit in my house.  I have no answer.



This is my other son.



Because Daddy had the camera, the portraits of him included not only the fact that he would not hold still but was constantly crawling past the camera, but also the fact that it's fun to stick weird stuff on his head.



We sat.  They shopped. 



Most things were priced at $0.50.  And $0.10.



But we made $206.50.  And my mom and sister hung out and helped. I love yard sales!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Favorite Quirky Poem



"My beard grows to my toes,
I never wears no clothes,
I wraps my hair
Around my bare,
And down the road I goes."

~Shel Silverstein

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chaos

I'm sure you read the title of this post and thought, "so what's different about that?" Answer: nothing, really.

But the house is getting ready to barf everything onto my front lawn on Saturday in one giant, glorious yard sale. I have never done one before, as my closet can attest. I'm not a hoarder and I have made trips to Goodwill, but seriously, I am cleaning stuff out from like 1996. Yikes!

Hubby and the kids sorted out the toys. Like I said, I am not a hoarder but I do have trouble getting rid of toys. I'm terrified of hearing a small voice asking tearfully, "But Mommy, where is my very favorite small plastic giraffe?" So I wimped out and asked him to do it.

But I did the baby clothes, the Christmas stuff, the knickknacks (what a fun word to spell!) about 105 picture frames, and some really weird stuff like tea balls. Who needs two tea balls? I don't even drink loose-leaf tea! I actually don't even drink tea at all usually. Tea balls: out the door.



All week I have put all sentimentality aside and imagined my peaceful house and closets, free of clutter and unwanted junk. If you come to my yard sale and see a gift you have given me, pretend you didn't, ok? I have a terrible phobia of offending a gift-giver by not loving, cherishing or appreciating the gift for the next century. But honestly, I just pretended everything in my cupboards had never been a gift and just made choices based on whether I used that thing or not. And when I look at the piles and piles (and piles and piles and piles) of stuff sitting around, I seriously cannot wait until Saturday!!!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Miracle

Well, this has been quite a week!

Tuesday, one of my best friends who has been on bed rest with a difficult pregnancy was life-flighted to the city hospital. She was bleeding and passing clots. She has a blood-clotting disorder and was on blood thinning shots.

They got her stabilized and she thought she was settling in to a long hospital stay until the baby was born, but Friday, right before an ultrasound, more bleeding, and was going into shock. They gave her blood (6 units total, throughout the evening) and did an emergency c-section.

The baby was 24 weeks, 1 day gestation. We all prayed for a miracle, and the doctors said there was almost no chance the baby would live.

The family had already decided not to resuscitate as they would not get to hold her and the odds of her surviving were so slim anyway. They prepared to say good bye.

In the hospital room, our friends and pastors gathered, taking turns holding baby Hope Louise, born at 1 lb, 7 oz. They kissed her and said goodbye. Her father filled out a death certificate.

Four hours later, she was still breathing. Six hours later the flabbergasted doctors had run some tests and said her blood pressure, oxygen levels and skin texture looked good for a 28-weeker, not a 24-weeker and could they have the dates wrong? Only her size and the fact that her eyes were shut indicated her true age.

The doctors have never seen anything like Baby Hope, who continues to show excellent organ function, breathing and so on. She is now being fed intravenously and given minimal NICU interventions as well as being monitored carefully.



All of us are praising and thanking God, not only for the miracle of letting us have Hope here with us instead of taking her, but also for the incredible way He did it and the clear, indisputable testimony. Her story is being shared all over the place and the hand of God is so very, very evident.

Please continue to pray for Amy (the mom) and Baby Hope. Amy is still receiving blood and platelets and is recovering from a difficult and emotional week and surgery.

You can read more of their story and updates here: A Time of Hope


It's so cool to witness this firsthand... I mean I read about these stories but I never thought I would see it with friends from our church fellowship group who are like family. We've ridden the roller coaster of hope and grief and hope again... God is SO amazing!!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jesus Doesn't Care About Street Cred

Hubby and I have been talking a lot about adoption lately. Our decision to wait to save the cash to adopt internationally has given us plenty of time to stop and examine our motives for doing so in the first place. Why Africa? Why international adoption? Why a fourth child?

We both agree we want more children. We love children, we want a large family and we want to give a home to children who need one. While that may sound all nice and altruistic, it's actually much more for us than it is rescuing a "poor orphaned child." We love kiddos.

Since we can't logistically produce any more kiddos it remains to add to our family in other ways. At this point this leaves us with three options. Foster/Adopt, Domestic Newborn and International.

We have already decided that we'd like to try a different route than Domestic Newborn. Not that we had a bad experience; on the contrary, it has been amazing. But since those are the most sought-after adoptable babies we decided to go another route.

Hence the jump to international. But then we ran into the money snag. By my calculations it will take us until 2016 to scare up that kind of cash with our one-parent income. We could wait that long, but should we?

In talking about it tonight, we both agreed that in all honesty one of the reasons we wanted to do an international adoption was that it's "popular" in Christian circles. Being pretty vulnerable here... it's much cooler to adopt an African kid than an unwanted kid from down the street. Seriously. You get way more street cred in churchy circles for it, not to mention our American mentality that if it costs more, the commodity must be worth more. If an adoption costs $25,000 it must be a way better adoption than the freebie from the State.

Now, don't get me wrong here. I am totally not trashing those families out there who have adopted/are adopting internationally. Nope. I am talking about God talking to our hearts about our family. I think Jesus is a lot less interested in our churchy street cred than we are.

Don't be surprised if our plans start changing pretty soon.

Doomed



Little Mister joined the ranks of the technologically addicted today. I found a cute little wooden desk/chair combo in the local classifieds and Hubby fixed up my old laptop for him to use. I have been amazed how much reading and math Curly has learned with computer games, along with useful facts. One day she piped up with, "When they built the pyramids, Daddy, they used an inclined plane!" Uhhh, yeah, they sure did.



Although Curly was beside herself with anticipation to teach him everything she knows, he was off and playing games like a pro. The smile on his face as he realized that he was now a big-kid computer user like his sister was absolutely priceless.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Cleaned My Room

Yes, this is a newsworthy event, folks! For months, my room has been the catch-all place where we dump baby items we're no longer using, coats that never got hung up, or tools from fixing up the bathroom (six months ago!) or the two darling little end tables that Baby Bear managed to pull over with a spectacular crash. For some reason it just got pushed lower and lower on the priority list and I never got around to doing anything about it.

A couple of weeks ago I purchased a new mattress for the bed, so the old one leaned haphazardly against one wall. While I love, love, love the new mattress, I could not stand the chaos it caused in the rest of the room. I'm beginning to really look forward to having a yard sale.



Yesterday that all changed. I dove bravely into a closet piled with junk and pulled everything out. Most of it went directly into the Yard Sale pile. The rest (clean sheets, coats) got put away neatly and then I tackled the rest of the room. At the end, I even made our bed, which almost never happens. Making beds is about as low on the chore priority scale as ironing, which probably makes the more traditional housewives shudder in horror. But hey, just keepin' it real.

When I got done, the room sparkled. With everything in its place the room seemed peaceful and welcoming. My own space. In a way it made me feel good, like I matter enough to have a nice space too. I work so hard to keep the house nice for the rest of the family I have been neglecting my own space. It made me realize that a mom serves her family best when she keeps herself healthy too. I need to do a better job taking care of myself. Sometimes we moms forget to do that, giving all of our time and energy to our ever-demanding families. It's easy to do. But cleaning my room yesterday reminded me that I actually serve them better when I am at my personal best. Having a space of my own (even though technically it belongs to Hubby too) makes me feel just that much better.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Great American Pastime

Why in the world do we like going camping? My hubby has a quick answer handy: we don't. But I have always loved camping. As a kid it was a time to get away from the routine, go somewhere exciting, play with fire, smell the woods and sleep out-of-doors. Since having kids of my own I have become a little less attached to the sport (yes, I mean that in the active sense, often it could be considered a contact sport) since I have to do most of the work.

This particular trip turned out to be a difficult one for me. I've been battling a round of depression and fatigue which did not improve, even in the woods, one of my favorite places. When depression is a chemical imbalance, even a fun trip can't lift it, unfortunately. It made the whole weekend that much harder.



We spent most of Thursday getting ready. Baby Bear helped me pack the Camping Box of dishes and pans, spreading them gleefully all over the kitchen. It took him most of the afternoon to get them arranged to his liking. He had a great time and if he looks a little grumpy in the pictures it was because he was teething and due for a nap.



Friday we drove up early to secure our spots, the kids and I.  We camped with two other families; one of the moms drove up when I did.  When we got there the temperature hovered in the nineties, with little shade in the grassy camp spaces.  Rather than set up camp, we had lunch tailgate style, then rode bikes, played with sidewalk chalk and rested on a blanket in the shade.



Little Mister enjoyed the swimming hole, wading in the chilly water and hauling cupful after cupful up onto the bank to create little waterfalls.  In spite of my best efforts to keep his fair-skinned, red-headed little self slathered in sunscreen, he still managed to get a few pink spots, on his shoulders and the tops of his little, sandaled feet.



Hubby joined us after work on Friday, riding out to the campsite with another of our friends.  After a day wrangling Goombas alone, I was immensely glad to see him.  His concession to camping is that we pack good food, so Saturday night we grilled New York steaks over the open flame, made caramelized onion garnish, cooked corn on the cob and had a green salad topped with feta cheese and red onions.  I think that meal was my favorite part of the entire weekend.



The heat affected Curly more than the others and several times I was scared that we were repeating last summer's heat stroke incident.  We kept her cool wading in the creek and drinking lots of water so she came though fine.



Taking a newly-mobile baby camping had me worried for a week prior to the trip, dreaming nightmarishly about him eating poisonous plants or crawling into the river.  It turned out fine, though.  There were lots of willing arms to hold him and he stayed happy and content.  He did eat his share of rocks and bark, but didn't choke or poison himself and for some reason the hordes of mosquitoes, who feasted on the rest of us did not bite him at all.

We had a good sleeping set-up: we took the seats out of the van, creating a long, flat space where Hubby set up a foam pad and the Pack-n-Play. He and the baby slept in there where the early morning fussing would not wake the other campers. The two older kids and I slept in our little tent, where they zonked immediately, exhausted from running and playing all day.



Shadow-dog opened the weekend for us by bolting straight from the van into the next county, with me running frantically after him hollering wildly.  Once we got him back, his fate was sealed and he spent the weekend on a chain.  He didn't seem to mind much, greeting people who passed and eating our corn cobs.  I was impressed with how quiet and calm he stayed, even with all the kids running around and other dogs coming in and out of his space.

All in all, I couldn't say this has been the best camping trip I've ever had.  The heat and feeling so down made it really difficult to keep up with all the work.  Also, our friends never really got a chance to sit and visit much since we were all chasing kids most of the time. When night fell we were all too sweaty and exhausted to sit around the campfire and chat. The kids, of course, had a ball so I decided the best I could do was to count this trip as just taking one for the team.  When they are older I hope to get back to enjoying camping.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Coming up!

This week we've been laying low, staying home, playing toys, resting, recovering from a busy weekend and gearing up for another busy weekend.



As I put on Facebook: We are going camping this weekend! I'm not sure how this will go... three little ones (Pyro, Whiner and Barfy), a new dog, a hubby who doesn't care for camping and some church friends. It sounds like reality show material...

At the very least we should get some interesting blog posts out of the experience. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, since the best stories seem to involve some sort of disaster.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Man-Talk

Saturday my sister held a yard sale. Apparently everyone in the family wanted in on the action because without planning it a fair-sized group of us gathered, bought Starbucks and sat around gabbing while people went through our stuff.



My Dad and my Uncle, who used to be a school Principal, sat out on the lawn, man-talking and I set Baby Bear on the grass to join them.



Dad: "He's pulling weeds."

Uncle Principal: "He's just eating the grass. Shouldn't hurt him."

Mom: "No, he's eating dirt. I can't believe you're letting him eat dirt. That is so gross."



Dad: "They tell me when I was a baby I ate so much dirt my diapers were muddy."

Mom: "Yuck."

Uncle Principal: "He is doing a pretty good job of weeding the flower bed."

Dad: "I used to eat dirt out of these front flowerbeds we had on the farm.... I bet the cats pooped in them."

Mom, Me, Sis: "Ewwwww!"



Dad, (laughing): "I'm surprised I didn't get sick."

Mom: "Look, now he's got a dirt-beard."

Me (rescuing the baby and wiping his face): "You never had boys, did you?"

Mom: "No."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Go Baby Bear!

What a week of milestones!

Nine Month Birthday


A new tooth

Not the next central tooth you'd expect, but an upper lateral incisor on his left side. It looks like the right one might be on its way as well. If it is, he'll look like a Jack O'Lantern with the middle top teeth missing but the corner ones there.


In Motion

More exciting than that, He's finally crawling!!! We have been expecting it for weeks and weeks, but now he has it figured out and he's awfully pleased with himself.