January 11, 2013

Things I learned in 2012

A few things that I learned this past year:

1. Don't be afraid to download pictures.

 I have this insane fear of all my precious digital pictures just one day totally disappearing, so I hang onto them by never erasing them from my storage cards. The above picture is an example of this malady. It was taken eight years ago when little Susie was hardly older than Renata is now. 
This has become a problem because 1. those little storage cards aren't cheap and 2. it's crazy to have ten of them lying around completely useless for picture taking because they are full of old pictures and 3. I had to stop taking pictures because I ran out of storage cards. 
So, I've taken the plunge and started to download pictures (always making a backup file along with a burned copy). Now the idea is to finally get them printed off and into an album. We'll see if that ever comes to fruition.

2. Colorado is a beautiful place to go hiking, so do it. 
Okay, maybe this wasn't something that I actually "learned" this past year, as I've always been aware of how beautiful the trails are. The main thing was that I'd given up hiking with the rest of the crew when they went because I was too focused on getting caught up on laundry, or making dinner, or just relaxing for a minute. 
Dumbest decision ever.
So I started hiking again this past year and I never regretted one minute of it. It was an easy way to exercise too. Which leads me to number three....

3. The older you get, the more you need to exercise. 

This one is a total bummer. I really, really, really am not a big fan of exercise. It hurts. It takes too much time. It hurts.... have I mentioned that?
But, after ten babies in less than fifteen years, my body has taken a bit of a beating. I needed to tone. I needed to firm. I needed to have the number of a plastic surgeon. just kidding. 
Mainly, Adrian and I didn't want to start having health problems as we reached forty.
So, following the lead of my husband who decided to work on making himself look and feel better (which he has done with the help of weights, exercise, and better self-control than me) I hit the court. I started playing basketball again, mostly with the kids, and was amazed at the results. Fifteen minutes of shooting around, maybe five minutes of playing knock-out with the kids, and I felt better. Plus, it hardly hurt!
So, my advice to all you ladies is to get out there and find something fun to do that doesn't feel like exercise but that still gives you a little cardio. You'll be amazed at how much better you feel in the long run.

4. Don't ever underestimate what kids are capable of.

See this one here? Sam is our pancake maker. He makes awesome pancakes. Joanna makes tremendous cookies. Susie can handle two loads of laundry all by herself. Nathanael can change diapers like a pro. Ben can split wood like a woodchuck. Peter can read books to the little girls and keep them happy while Sam is making pancakes. Maggie knows how to stack the wood that Ben just split. Annie knows how to get kindling ready for the fireplace. Renata just learned how to open the front door. (Not so happy about that last one.)
Kids can do a lot more than we think, especially when you pull them away from the television, computer, or Xbox. 
Honestly, it's almost like I don't have to do anything around here anymore.....

5. Life passes by way too quickly - make sure people know how much they are loved. 

This past year our family suffered the loss of many close friends from church. Claire - one of the neatest ladies I've ever met, and Sue - one of the best cooks this world has seen (in this picture with Susie) and Bob (our ninety-year-old cribbage partner in crime.) They were like our extended family of sorts, and I still miss them greatly - even though I know they were overjoyed to be released from their pain and join Christ in heaven. Each of them made a profound impact on our family and I'm glad to have known them, even if for a short time. 

6. Men in aprons are hot. 
I probably just grossed a ton of you out. Sorry. But seriously, put down that 50 shades of whatever you checked out from the library and go get an apron.  

7. Don't cry if your baby grows up to be a cowboy. 

I wouldn't have necessarily chosen this path for my son, but it seems like he's a natural. Ben rode that sheep all the way out of the gate and across the arena before the cowboys had to literally pull him off the back of that mutton. Now that's some bustin' if I've ever seen any. 

8. Iowa has a bunch of wind-power. 

Like, a BUNCH. Driving across eastern Iowa this fall I couldn't believe how many fields were full of them. I'm not really sure what to think about it, other than they might need to change their welcome signs to something like, "Iowa. The home of ethanol and ugly windmills."

9. Australians like to play "chasie". A game of catch-me for you Americans. 

We had the great privilege of spending some time with Dr. Kleinig this fall when he was in the States. Every night he played a game of chasie around the living room furniture with the kids. They LOVED it. I think he might have liked it a little bit too. 

10. Michigan is beautiful in early October. 
I'm sure Michigan is pretty any other time of the year as well, but coming from a place where we only get to witness Aspen trees changing from green to yellow, this was breathtaking!

11. Mule deer are mighty tasty.

I know. I surprised myself as well by really liking all of the white little packages of meat in our freezer. I kind of even dig the deer skull mounted above our fireplace mantel.

What's wrong with me?

12. Twinkies really aren't that great. But I love the people who thought they were!

My dad used to eat Twinkies like they were going out of business. He must have known something the rest of us didn't....
So, when Hostess announced the sad news that they were stopping production, Adrian and I did what anyone would do. We ran to the nearest grocery stores and cleaned them out. Ebay loved us.
But, I couldn't in good conscience sell a product without a little taste-testing. And, you know what? I ate a twinkie, a cupcake, and a ding-dong - None of them were good. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.


November 11, 2012


     Fourteen years ago, on November 1o, 1998, Adrian and I went to my doctor's office in Ft.Wayne, Indiana for a routine 30 week ultrasound with our first child. My pregnancy was progressing smoothly and we had already assembled the crib and purchased a few baby items. Adrian's Aunt Connie was planning a baby shower. The ladies at work were filling my ears with stories of their own labor and deliveries. I was anxious and nervous and excited about what the last trimester of pregnancy had in store for me. But, more than that, Adrian and I were both looking forward to welcoming the new life into this world. What happened next was something that neither one of could have ever imagined or rightfully prepared ourselves for. Our daughter, tiny and precious, had died.

     Some people may try to tell you, when you lose a child, that there is a reason for it happening. That it's "part of God's grand plan." And, truthfully, I believe it is. However, these words are not entirely the most comforting to hear right after death, mostly because it's hard to believe that anything good could come from a child's death. 
     Others may try to remind you of your youth, saying, "You're still young. There will be plenty of opportunity to have other kids," as if that will ever dampen the pain you feel from the death of your child now. 
     And still, my personal favorite, "It was only a fetus," meaning that the death of this child growing inside of you doesn't really matter much because, although you were given a death certificate to bury the body, you were never issued a birth certificate. Your child was never born. We couldn't rightly proclaim that a life was ever there, although death was evident. 
     There is nothing, I suppose, that is perfect to say to someone who has lost a child - other than Christ loves them, that he loved their baby, and that because of His resurrection we have eternal life in heaven with our loved ones that have gone before us. And then give them a big hug. Because, even though these are words of truth and gladness, they are still hard to bear. 

     When we entered into the dark ultrasound room on that rainy fall day, there was no reason for us to believe that something horrible had happened. I laid down on the table, the technician squirted a tube of cold goop on my belly, and an image of our baby appeared. It wasn't long before she left the room and came back with a doctor who, very quietly, took the wand and looked at the image on the screen. After what seemed like an eternity, Adrian asked, "Is everything okay?" The doctor only had sorrowful words to share with us. "I'm sorry, but your baby has died." It was very matter-of-fact, it was very cold, and it was totally surreal. We were ushered back out of the room and told to go straight to the hospital for admittance. We would be having a baby soon.
     Thankfully, when we arrived at the hospital, the nurses were tremendously kind-hearted and caring. They gave me a room at the very end of the hall, they stayed next to us and did everything we asked of them and, more importantly, they grieved with us in the loss of a life.   It was because of those nurses that we have prints of Hannah's feet and hands, clippings of her hair and a few pictures of us holding her. I am forever thankful for those few artifacts that we have tucked away in a scrapbook. Without them, I would never be able to remember just how tiny, yet perfectly created, she had been.

     After a hefty dose of pitocin I went into labor. I don't really remember much of this time, as I was incredibly doped up on drugs, but I do remember Adrian standing next to me, squeezing my hand, telling me that it was going to be okay. It was just as painful for him to watch me go through the labor as it was for me to lie there and wait out the contractions, knowing that each one brought us closer to the inevitable. 
     We weren't sure in what condition Hannah would be in or if we would be able to hold her. The doctors were preparing us for the very worst scenario, as if it wasn't already bad enough. 
     When Hannah was born on November 11th at 5:18am, she weighed in at 2lbs 4oz and was 14 1/2 inches long. She was approximately the size of a doll with dark brown hair and chubby cheeks. She had ten fingers and ten toes and a tiny mouth that reminds me of each of our other children. She was, as most of our members declare each time that we have a child, a "Sherrill baby." She was precious and real and, even though she didn't have a heartbeat, she was our baby. She was a child of God who was born into heaven before we even met her. 

     You would think that the hardest part would have been holding her, seeing her body in a lifeless state, but it wasn't. That was, in my opinion, the best moment for us. But it was fleeting. Soon enough she was taken away and we were left with nothing to hold, nothing to show but our broken hearts. 
     Leaving the hospital later that afternoon, that was hard. It took everything I had to walk through those hospital doors, knowing that we were leaving our baby behind in the morgue, and not bringing her home in a car seat. Then came time to make funeral preparations. That was difficult. We'd never written an obituary before. We'd never had to pick out a casket before. And then we had to bury her. That was . . . beyond words. It's still hard for me to talk about. 

     Our family and friends were very gracious to us, as was the whole seminary community at CTS. Flowers, cards, food, prayers . . . they were all important in aiding us during that dark time. I go back and re-read all the cards and letters every year on Hannah's birthday. It's incredibly humbling, the personal stories that people shared with us and the uplifting words of faith. Our children have taken to reading through the scrapbook we made to remember Hannah as well. Maybe one day they will be able to help someone in their grief as so many people had so graciously helped us. 

     And, now that fourteen years have passed, it's amazing to look back and see how Hannah's death has shaped our lives. For starters, we have a bunch of kids now mostly because we became acutely aware of how fragile and precious life is. Secondly, we've been able to help others who have grieved over the death of child. It's an unspoken bond that people have regarding the death of child. A tremendously emotional bond. And, finally, it's strengthened our faith and our family life. Although I'm pretty sure I'd have the same views on the sanctity of life that I do now, it's solidified the issue for me. A life is a life, no matter how small. 

     The tears I shed today were fewer than the ones I shed last year. As time goes by, the heartache begins to mellow -but it truly never goes away. And I don't want it to. The heartache reminds me that Hannah was a part of our life, even though our time with her was short. I thank God for placing Hannah into our lives, I thank Him for calling the angels to carry her home, and I bravely look forward to the day when we will be reunited again. 


November 1, 2012


Yo, peeps.

NaNoWriMo is here.

That's write.

NaNoWriMo, baby.

And I'm not quoting Mork and Mindy. Or speaking to you in tongues. I promise.

NaNoWriMo is an acronym for National Novel Writing Month. Every year, in November, aspiring writers from all over the world converge online and attempt to get that ugly first draft done in thirty days. It may not seem like much, but coming up with 50,000 words consecutively can be daunting. Especially if you want it to make any sense... This is my first year attempting the first draft in a month thing, but I'm not doing it alone. I convinced my friend Courtney to join me and I think we're going to have a blast!

Writers can talk online or they can meet up with other writers in their perspective writing region. I haven't done this and probably won't. I just don't have the time and, if I ever can sneak a few minutes in for writing, then I HAVE TO WRITE! Those words just don't type themselves people.

You can also chat with other people online in the various forums about plotting, character development, grammar style and usage and so on and so forth. It's pretty cool but can also be a suckhole of time, like facebook. The best piece of advice I can give anyone who is trying to take this seriously is . . . GET OFF THE INTERNET! And just work on writing. Day after day after day. And, before you know it, you might be getting somewhere!

So, if I'm sparse for the next few weeks, you know what I'm up to. And, if I'm on her a bunch, then you'll see just how bad I procrastinate. *sigh*