November 11, 2012

Hannah

     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

NaNoWriMo

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*









October 22, 2012

100th Birthday Bash

This summer Grandpa Sherrill had a birthday and Caleb had a birthday and (without giving away the exact numbers of who was turning what) their birthdays just happened to equal 100 years!

The kids picked this card out because it played the Star Wars Theme song when you opened it up. 
Uncle Caleb's card played, "Who Let the Dogs Out? Who, Who, Who . . . " Yep. We only got to hear that play a few thousand times before vacation was over!

Our niece Katie also had a birthday the same week that we were together ! 


Because it was such a momentous occasion and because Nate and Tina are such gracious hosts, the family decided to meet in Council Bluffs for a little partying. And, let me tell ya, did we ever party!

Nate and Tina had an "Island" theme for the birthday extravaganza, complete with grass skirts, leis, hula-hoops and sunglasses.

This was part of a relay race where the kids had to dress Cabes and Grandpa up in island gear and then collect the items again. I'm happy to report that nobody lost an eyeball in the process, although it was close . . . 


We all did a little bit of hip swiveling (although Caleb is by far the best hip-swiveler in the family) and a little bit of hula-hooping (Grandma still has the touch!) . . . 



. . . and a little bit of backwards stretching (I was amazed at how Andrea could still do a backbend. Every time that I look at this picture my spine pops and tells my brain that if I ever tried to attempt this I'd end up in a wheelchair.) . . . 



 . . .  and a little bit of devouring birthday cake and ice cream. What a great way to celebrate a birthday, or two, or three!



And now, for your entertainment as well as for my own, I give to you (drum roll please . . . )

THE LIMBO! courtesy of the Sherrill kids


Every Limbo boy and girl, all around the Limbo world, 


Gonna do the Limbo rock, all around the Limbo dock,


Jack be Limbo, Jack be quick, Jack go under Limbo stick,


All around the Limbo dock, Hey let's do the Limbo rock.


First you spread your Limbo feet, then you move to Limbo beat,


Limbo ankle, Limbo knee,


Bend back like a Limbo tree!


Jack be Limbo, Jack be quick, Jack go under Limbo stick,


All around the Limbo dock, hey let's do the Limbo rock.


La, la, la, la, la, la, la 
la, la, la, la, la, la, la 


La, la, la, la, la, la, la
la, la, la, la, la, la, la . . .


All around the Limbo dock, hey let's do the Limbo rock!



October 21, 2012

Bob's Bunny Farm

My sister-in-law Sue, the owner of Main Street Cake's and Gifts in Dunlap, Iowa (which, by the way, if you haven't been there yet you are totally missing out on the best baked goods in the world) called us on the way to Iowa and said we needed to go out to Bob's farm (her dad's farm outside of Dunlap) because he had a million rabbits in every size, shape and color you've ever seen and we'd be total losers if we didn't take the children to see them.

Not wanting to be total losers, we concurred that, yes, we should see the rabbits. Rabbits are cute. Rabbits are cuddly. Rabbits taste like chicken.






When we arrived, the first thing Joanna did was run over to the cages and try to climb in. The rabbits that Jo is playing with here were the adolescents and they can be a bit, um, adolescent. They're quick little fellas.... 
So, Bob was kind enough to bring out his two nests of baby bunnies. They were really tiny and really cuddly and really cute and best of all - super slow. 


Annie wasn't so sure about the squirmy bunnies, but she eventually liked them. 


Peter liked the baby bunnies . . . 


Nathanael liked the baby bunnies . . .


Sam liked the baby bunnies . . . 


Susie liked the baby bunnies . . . 


Ben liked the baby bunnies (I think) . . . 


We already knew that Joanna liked the baby bunnies from the before picture of her climbing in the cage with them . . .


Well heck, I even liked the baby bunnies. Until one of them whizzed on me. 


And Renata, she . . .


. . . well . . . she really hated the baby bunnies.
So there you have it. 9 out of 10 Sherrill's loved the baby bunnies. 

But, you  might be wondering, just where is that little Maggie at? Didn't she play with the baby bunnies too?

Not really. And not because she didn't like the bunnies. She loved them. No, it was because Bob is an awesome Grandpa and he has an awesome farm and so she was busy on the most awesome of awesome swings . . .


 It even has a motor to keep the swings going so that we adults can sit back and have a cold one while the kids get dizzy.

Somehow, in the midst of all this picture-taking, we missed out on a photo of Bob and of Aunt Sue! I can't believe it! But, strangely enough, we did snap a picture of Uncle Mark. 




Mark is telling you to be sure to check out Bob's Bunny Farm in Dunlap, Iowa if you have a chance because the kids loved it!

Thanks again Bob and Aunt Sue!!!!







October 20, 2012

I'm Back

I'm baaaaack........ not that anybody noticed I was gone or anything.....  just kidding. A few of you wondered what happened to this blog!

I tend to use the excuse, "It's been a crazy week here" all of the time. All. Of. The. Time. But, the truth is, it really does seem to be crazy busy here most every second of my life. Except for the seconds when I'm sleeping and then I'm pretty much dead to the world. Including the blogging world. Which, in turn, has made some of my friends and family wonder what's going on with this Shaking Of the Apples thingy. So, maybe it's time for confession....

I'm really lazy. 
Ha, ha, ha.


I haven't been on here since July, which is hard to believe.
I haven't read a single blog from anyone since July. July! 
That's not even healthy....


So, here's a quick recap of the months I've missed. Or the months you've missed. Or the months that maybe never really existed .... this could be a parallel universe after all .....

1. We went on vacation to Iowa. It was hot and sticky, but not in a good way like cinnamon rolls which are hot and sticky in an awesome way. No. It was sweatouteveryporeofyourbodyevenwhenyouareintheshade type of hot. Which, in turn, facilitated the need to go swimming at the pool as much as possible. We had a ton of fun with our family and there's only a bazillion pictures for me to share on here.

2. Some birthday's happened. Duh. That's a no-brainer.

3. We went on vacation to Michigan. This time it wasn't hot. It was cold. We did not pack appropriately, but hey, at least we weren't sweating like crazy. More family. More fun. We also had the opportunity to spend some time with Dr. Kleinig who was in Grand Rapids teaching a continuing ed class. Plus we were able to stop in Ft.Wayne for a few days and visit some old friends and go to the seminary for a day.

4. When I type it out like this it seems like we've been four-wheeling across the country having fun for the past few months.

5. I think I'm going to change my excuse from being "crazy busy" to "jet setter".

Pictures to follow.....







July 17, 2012

Don't Go Getting Your Under Armour In A Wad

You may have read the title and wondered to yourself, "What on earth is she talking about now?" That seems to be a familiar thread on this blog of mine. Alas.

This post has to do with baseball. And, not just any type of little-league baseball, mind you, but serious baseball. Competitive baseball. All-Star team baseball. There's a difference, a significant difference, and I'll explain why in just a bit. But, before I do, I need to fill you in on some details.

As always, the beginning of July signals tournament time at our house. Baseball tournaments. They come in all shapes and sizes and this year didn't disappoint. One of the best parts about these tournaments is that they often signal the end of the season. Hoorah!
Than played in the nine-year-old CABA State Tournament (don't ask me what the acronym means) the last weekend in June and did very well. It was at that game where a coach, who was scouting for an extra player for his all-star team that was going to play in the USSSA State Tournament, saw Than play and asked if we would consider letting Than play for him.

Yes, little-league has scouting.
 
Our initial response was, "Oh? Wow! That's great and wonderful and tremendous that you think our kid is worthy to play on your team." But, inwardly, both my husband and I groaned. Really? MORE baseball? 


However, baseball won out and we agreed to let Than play for this team. How bad could it be? After all, Than had just finished playing a whole season of ball with his regular team, he did well at the State Tournament in his division, and this was a great opportunity for him to play on a well-known team that was ranked 10th in the nation.

Yes, little-league has national rankings.


We called the coach back and gave our consent for Than to play. And, that's what we've been doing this past weekend. Or, at least, what Nathanael has been doing this weekend. The rest of us have been tagging behind to watch. 


Tournament play started early Friday morning at the crack of dawn. (Not really. I just wanted to write that because Adrian and the boys had to get up extra early so Than could be all the way across town by 7:45am.) They played at the Aurora Sports Park which, if you live in the area you may already know, is a metropolis of baseball fields. Apparently, if you build it they will come is true. Every ball field was busy with games. 


Now, if you've ever been to a little-league baseball game you know how it goes. A little kid comes up to bat, he might strike out. The parents cheer anyway and say, "Good try." The next kid comes up to bat, he might hit the ball and stand there for a second before he realizes oh! I have to run to first base! and so on and so forth. They make mistakes because they're only eight and nine-years-old and you sit in the stands and clap and yell for them to do good. That's normal kid baseball.
In competitive baseball it goes like this. Kid number one comes up to bat and whacks it over the head of the shortstop. The left-fielder then collects the ball and throws it hard to second base where kid number one is coming fast and hard. Kid number one slides into second base just as the second baseman catches the ball. There's a half-second of breath-holding as the parents wait for the umpire to yell, "Safe!" The mother of kid number one stops doing her resistance rope workout against the back of the bleachers and hoots for her kid before she resumes arm curls. Then, kid number two comes up and whacks the ball way back into right field. The outfielder backs up and up and then, at the last moment, turns and dives to make a stellar catch. The father of said outfielder pumps his arms in honor of his kids good catch while other dads give him a high-five. Kid number one tags up at second base and starts barreling around third base towards home. Just as he's about to slide into home plate the catcher collects the ball and tags him out as kid number one crashes into him. The catcher lies on the ground for a moment before he holds his little glove up to show that he did, indeed, hang onto the ball. "OUT!" yells the umpire and parents from one side cheer while parents from the other side throw their hands up. "Get up off the ground!" yells the mother of the little kid playing catcher who has various tattoos of baseballs on her body and wears Gucci sunglasses as he's still trying to collect his breath while the mother of kid number one who has on a tank top that matches all the other mother's from the team with their kids numbers lit up in rhinestones points with her manicured nails and yells, "Next time you run harder! You weren't hustling. You need to get your head into the game!"

Yes, these parents also had the audacity to yell out, "Let's have fun out there boys!" to which I rolled my eyes behind my fake-designer Kohl's sunglasses.

So, you can imagine not only how Than felt to play on this team (he was beyond nervous) and how Adrian and I felt (Every time a kid made some type of fielding error I'd lean over and ask Adrian, "That wasn't Than, was it?" and he'd answer, "No." and then I'd sigh in relief. Although, sometimes it was Than and then I could always tell because this major jerk of a dad would say, "Who is that kid? Where did he come from? Can't he play ball?) Now, I 'm happy to report that Than not only got to play quite a bit in the outfield but he also came in to pitch a few times. He did fine. He didn't strike everyone out like he usually does, I think he was entirely intimidated, but he did good enough. At the end of it all he even said that he actually had fun, which I could hardly fathom because I couldn't wait to get away from those athlete-parents who were completely over-the-top, and he got to keep two hats. The team actually has three different uniforms, with three different hats, but since they only wore two out of the three uniforms, Than only got two hats. Crazy.

What's crazier still is that the coach of the team is still bugging us to have Than try out for the team. Tryouts are next month. It only costs $1,500 to play. That is, if you make the team. Of course, the coaches were willing to work on mechanics with Than for free.

Yes, little-league can make parents max out their credit cards and take a second-mortgage out on the house.

We've decided that this scene of all-star, competitive baseball is probably not for us even if Than does have talent. Right now, that "talent" is busy playing whiffle-ball with the neighbor boys in the front yard where they're laughing and yelling and having fun. Just like how it's supposed to be.
















May 29, 2012

Summer Detention

I walked down the hall this morning to the voices of little children chattering in their rooms. Their discussion caught my ear and I wavered, just outside closed doors, to listen. What I heard made my fingers start to tremble, my eyes roll back in my head and a thousand car alarms start automatically disarming in the neighborhood.

SCHOOL IS ALMOST OVER.

I remember, as a child, jumping for the joy the day those school bells rang. Racing past the teachers who had no authority to tell me to slow down anymore, getting down on my knees to give thanks for not having to ride in that stinky yellow school bus for a good three months. No longer was I a first grader, second grader, third grader, etc. . . I was moving up in the world. Better yet, my whole life lay in front of me, waiting for me to sieze the day! Days of swimming at the pool, bike riding, playing with friends, sleepovers, fishing, playing at the park, staying up till midnight, roasting marshmallows, going to visit my grandparents, eating strawberries and ice cream, itching huge mosquito bites until they bled, catching fireflies, chasing toads (this still held true until my college days - the toad just became more of a metaphor), watching fireworks, eating BBQ. . .  I loved summer.

I loved summer until I became the mother of school-aged kids.

Now I begin to dread those long summer months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds. You get the idea.
Instead of having school and homework to keep them occupied, I become promoted to the Director of Activities. A thankless job that sends our gasoline fund into the depths of despair.

The Boys:  "Mom, I have a baseball game today. It's way across town. I need to be there at exactly the same time the little kids should be napping. Plus I told Tommy we'd pick him up on our way. You can do that, right?"

The Girls:  "Mom, I don't fit into my swimsuit from last year. Or any of my shorts, shirts, shoes, socks, underwear or hair ribbons. We need to go shopping right now, because I have swimming lessons today. At exactly the same time the boys have baseball. You can get me there, right?"

The Dog:  "You haven't fed me since Christmas. The only sustinence I recieve on a daily basis comes from the food the babies drop and the toilet bowl. Please start grilling more. I'm tired of casseroles."


The Little Babies:   "I'm hungry! I'm tired! I'm hungry! I'm bored! I want out of this car seat! Where's the ice cream?! I said, I WANT SOME ICE CREAM!"


Ahhhh. . .    I love summer. Don't you?







April 3, 2012

Government for Dummies

I'm not saying you're a dummy. I'm saying that I'm a dummy. Dummy, dummy, dummy... Especially when it comes to talking about government and politics.

The older that I get, the more that I have a deep feeling like I should try to understand more of this political and governmental stuff. But, every time that I try, I only get so far before I throw my hands up in the air and call it day. Then I head to the kitchen to comfort myself with a big dish of Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia. My most favorite ice cream of all-time. So, you see, spending too much time on governmental things can lead to obesity. One more reason to stay away from it.

However, as the children are getting older (funny thing, I don't think I can say the same for myself... ahem...) there is a necessity for me to try and wrap my brain around these things we call politics. Because, sooner or later, I'm going to have to try and teach them about these things. And, even if I'm not their teacher at some point, I at least want to try and have a knowledgeable discussion with them about these things. Because, these things, as in learning about how different governments are formed, what their good points and bad points are, will be important to our children when they start to vote. If you don't have any idea of how government works, why even bother to vote? And, if the desire to vote starts to fade away, what else will our future generations be willing to let float away with it?

The past two weeks or so I've drowned myself in political books. Old and new. Strange and boring. Whatever was public domain on the kindle, I downloaded it and read it. Whatever someone suggested to me, I tried to get through it. The end result was this: I had a tremendous headache. But, I do think that I learned a little bit, at least about mankind in general.

Everyone has their own opinion about what they think is "right" or what their definition of "happiness" is. For some, it's following a complete code of ethics and morals. Whetherer it's Christian or not didn't really seem to matter to most. They seemed more focused on the revelation that all men eventually have to answer to their conscious, and that alone seemed enough motivation to at least seek the truth and hold up some virtues in life. For others, however, it was the complete abandonment of religion because it caused too many problems. Get rid of religion and you get rid of hate. Plus, if there is no "God" to answer to, then anything goes. But, in doing so, you have to try and pretend that there is no conscious lying within your heart or that mankind is not inherently sinful. John Lennon wanted us to "Imagine there's no heaven..." and some parts of the world have tried that technique. It doesn't work.
Tyranny, oligarchy, monarchy, democracy, communism, socialism, fascism, anarchy.... ugh. They all have their own problems. The biggest one of them being mankind!

"Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned"  Romans 5:12

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."   Romans 3:23

"For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing." 
Romans 7:14-19


Why do I say mankind is the big problem? Well, my main point is that we are all horrible, rotten-to-the-core sinners. No matter what we do, even if we try to do it perfectly, it's still sinful. Even when we are certain that what we are doing is right and just, it still gets messed up by our sinfulness.

Is there any hope for us? Well, of course there is! If you are a Christian you have absolute trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior. You've been baptized a child of God. You know that when you die, your body will be made whole again in heaven. That is our great hope. To be in heaven with our Lord and with those saints who have gone before us.

But, if you're wondering if there is any hope for us here on earth to make our world glorious, my answer is a bit more negative. I say, "No chance."
Why? Well, didn't I already tell you the reason? We're all sinful! There's no way that we are all going to get along and have perfect harmony with each other. It just isn't going to happen, even with the best of intentions. 

"With power comes great responsibility." The problem is that power tends to corrupt people even more than they already were. But, I still think we can try our best to do what is right and good, as long as you know that man is sinful and corrupt and will never live up to his expectations. And, apart from Christ Jesus, we're all done for.

In spite of all the difficulties we face in this day and age, I do believe that living in the republic of the United States of America is pretty wonderful. We have freedoms here that people in other parts of the world will never know. We have a sense of liberty born here that courses through our very beings, encouraging us to be upstanding citizens, giving children confidence that they can grow up to become whatever they want, supporting our choice to worship as we want. No, it's not perfect. It never will be. But, as far as things of this world go, my humble opinion is that it's one of the better governments out there. But it's not a guarantee that it will always continue to be so, especially if our children stop learning about what freedom and liberty really mean to them.

Learning about how government is run is still worth reading about and talking about with your children, no matter how painfully boring it may sound. As things in our political arena start to heat up again, with another big election approching, it's all the more worthwhile to take the time to ingest some of the grand ideas of government that are floating around out there. I only have one word of advice for you if you dare to do so: be sure to have your freezer stocked up with ice cream.

March 22, 2012

Hunger Games

I recently read the first book in a trilogy about a dystopian society where children are sent to fight to the death in arena for the pleasure of the sadistic government. Oh yeah, it's televised live and there is a love triangle.

No, I'm not talking about The Real Housewives or The Bachelor, although it does share a few of the same qualities. Our book club just finished reading and reviewing The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

I first came across this book a while ago when the librarian suggested it to me, for Joanna to read. I shrugged it off, not familiar enough with the author to take the book she offered. Instead, I checked out the Gregor Series, written by the same author. We read those books, and although they were a little dark, we enjoyed them. So, I decided to try the Hunger Games. But, I was adamant to Joanna that she wouldn't be reading it until I had finished. After all, it's child on child violence we're talking about. Not something that's exactly warm and fuzzy reading.

However, after I finished reading it, I realized that there was more to this book than violence. Yes, the violence was a main part of the story, but it wasn't the only thing. And, if you read the book, you'll come to see that the Hunger Games, as they are called, are nothing more than a bloody version of our reality television shows. There is, also, the underlying story of a revolution in the country about to take place and the question of finding love, but that also seems to fit squarely into the reality of today's life for our children. 

After finishing the book, and giving myself a few days to digest it, I decided to let Joanna read it. Samuel has also read the book now, and it's lent itself to much discussion about war, right vs. wrong, how hard it can be to make the right decision, reality television, desensitization of the value of life, what love feels like, poverty, and the role our government has in our lives. Amazing that all of this was found to be layered in a novel targeted for young adults.

I enjoyed the book, and I've finished the trilogy as well. Although I didn't exactly enjoy the second or third books as much as the first, it was an interesting read. I would suggest, however, that you read these books along with your children. There are things in there that will be worthy of discussion, topics that you as a parent should discuss with your child.

An interesting side note: The movie based on this novel comes to theaters this Friday. I've got my tickets already! I'll let you know what I think of it.

February 15, 2012

Stuff...

I've been absent for a while, because of .... "stuff."

I know that doesn't make much sense, but it's the only way to really define it for me.

I could go into details, and maybe call it "children", or "school", or "laundry", or "cleaning", or "cooking", or shoveling of white "stuff".... and really, it's a touch of all the above.

But, mostly, "stuff" has just taken over my life right now.

Some of it is exciting "stuff", others is just... well, just "stuff." Like the "stuff" that I mentioned above.

Maybe one day soon I'll get to tell you about some of the exciting "stuff."

You've probably read enough "stuff" to keep you occupied in my absence anyway, right?

I do promise to be better from here on out. Regardless of how much "stuff" I have to do.



                                                                        Until next time,
                                                                        Your "Stuff"ing Friend

January 28, 2012

Water For Elephants Book Review

I'm going to start kind of new thing on here. Mostly for my benefit. So, I guess you'll just have to suffer through it!
My Monday's will be spent on book reviews.


A few weeks ago I wrote that I had finally started reading again. Not that I couldn't read... it's just that I never made time for myself to read. And, by reading, I mean real books. Not just magazines, or cookbooks, or other people's blogs.

Real books.

It's been wonderful to lose myself in stories again.
But, the problem is, I'm losing myself in stories again!
I just can't seem to win...



One of the very first books that I chose to read was "Water For Elephants".
There are a few reasons why I chose this book. First, some of my other friends had read the novel and told me how much they loved it. Secondly, it's been on the NY Times Best Seller List for quite some time. Third, our 7-Eleven Red Box had the movie in stock. Is it just me, or does it seem that Hollywood instantly makes movies out of every best selling book that comes along?

If you are interested in reading this novel, you can go to Amazon and buy it there.

The story is that of a depression era circus. The main character is Jacob Jankowski, a young Polish boy, who is studying to be a veterinarian at Cornell. A horrible accident lands him without a home, family, or job. In his time of grief, he literally stumbles upon a circus train. And, as the hands of fate would allow, this circus family will force him to make choices that will change his life forever. It's a story that deals with the harsh realities of this time in history. Animals and people are hardly treated any differently. And, yet, it's a story of a young man that realizes this and tries his hardest to hang onto good and persevere.
I have to admit, this novel had me gritting my teeth in several places. Even though this is a work of fiction, you get the feeling that not everything is fictitious. And, I would definitely say that this book is for readers over the age of 18. No way am I letting my little Joanna read the story yet.



And, just to save you some time, I would advise against watching the movie if you decide to read the book. I was severely disappointed by the screenwriting and, although the actors/actresses did a fairly good job, they just didn't seem to quite catch the circus magic that the book held.

I give this book **** stars. It was a good work of fiction that made the characters come to life in a magical way. It held my interest in the historical descriptions given. And, more than anything, I've come to realize that I like happy endings.

January 19, 2012

24 Hour Visit...

My family (meaning my brother Roger, his wife Brenda, and my mom) made a whirlwind trip this past weekend to visit us.



There was a bunch of tickling going on. In between football games, of course.



There were babies to be held and "oohed" and "ahhed" over. Sorry mom, you came out a bit blurry in this picture. Guess I need to work on that...



Maggie found Aunt Brenda to be especially snugly. I think Maggie might have gone back home with Aunt Brenda if she would have offered!



Their trip was twofold, really. They came out to visit us. But, the main reason for their trip was to deliver to my parent's old dining room table and china cabinet to our house.

Since my brother has a big truck and his own trailer... well, he was gracious enough to offer to bring the furniture out to us. I really can't seem to find the words to thank them enough for doing that. It really meant so much to me.



After they unloaded my mom's furniture, then they loaded some of our stuff to take to mom's house. Thinking back on that, and noticing now all the room there was in the trailer, I probably should have tried to send back more stuff!!!


We ended the day with some pizza and games with the kids.



I'm not sure who won this game, Ben or Uncle Roger. It might have been a tie...



Sunday morning they had to get on the road back home. We were sad to see them go, but happy to get in one more picture before they took off!



Good-bye Uncle Roger! Good-bye Aunt Brenda! Good-bye Grandma!!!!
We miss you and hope that you find your way out here again soon!

January 16, 2012

"Say Cheese!"

I have some friends who have suggested to me that I try this I Heart Faces thing.
I suppose, if anything, it will help me to use my camera more on all these little people running around my house.

This weeks photo challenge is Family.

And, although I have about a gazillion pictures that I could have entered, I chose this one....




This picture clearly captures what life is like in our house when you try to corral kids for a group picture.... CHAOS!
Not to mention that it was also Easter Sunday and the children were tired, and jittery from too many jellybeans.

January 13, 2012

Two Inches...

Two inches of snow is what the weather man was telling me to expect just a few days ago.

Only two inches of snow....


Well, Wednesday morning we awoke to the sound of snow blowers outside. I said, "Why would people be using their blowers when we're only supposed to get a few inches of snow?"




Obviously, there was a little bit more snow than just the two inches I was promised.
We maybe ended up with 5 inches of snow. Not a big deal, right?

Not a big deal unless you have a drive a big ole' van all the way across town for piano lessons.

We tried to do it, but ended up turning around and coming back home. The roads were not plowed (I think that the city of Denver has decided to hide their snow plows until winter is over with...) and they were super slippery.
Totally not worth us driving into a ditch or hitting another car.

And, that was just fine by the children.

When we arrived back home there was a scramble to get coats, jackets, snow pants, mittens, hats on...




So that they could get out there and shovel!!! Yes, shoveling snow is still fun when you are a little boy.




Sam, Nathanael, and Ben shoveled our driveway. And then they proceeded to go up and down the block, shoveling all of our neighbor's driveways too. Nobody asked them to, they just did it of their own accord. I was real proud of them for doing that.

I'm thinking that maybe they might be ready to take on the task of shoveling driveways for other people to earn some money.
I write that with a bit of consternation.
My little boys are growing up....


But, no matter that it's still January and we're still in the midst of Winter.
I'm starting to have visions of Spring.



Robins in the trees....






... and seed catalogs in my mailbox!