One Week Wired

For those of you that don’t know, I was in a pretty bad car wreck just over a week ago. I blacked out while driving and found my way to some trees. In the process, I got some bumps and bruises and shards of glass here and there, all basically minor. I also managed to break my jaw in two places, which is pretty major, and therefore I now have I wired jaw for the next 6-8 weeks, yielding an all liquid diet and constantly clenched teeth. I will definitely blog about what I can remember from my accident (I was in and out for most all of the evacuation and transport) but I thought for now I would share lessons from one week being wired shut.

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1. Just the thought of biting into a juicy hamburger will scare you. Later, after about my 300th serving of soup, I am sure the hamburger will be my heart’s desire, but for now, the idea of extending my mandible and chomping down on something like that gets me fearful.

2. Yawning is every bit as terrifying as you might imagine it to be. A casual yawn turns into a 6 sec nightmare as the lower part of my jaw tries to naturally separate from the top, to which it is very securely wired. When this happens, I have found myself squeaking out some sort of unintelligible prayer and flapping my hands next to my face. Fortunately, it passes quickly, and at a yawn’s conclusion, I don’t know whether to cry tears of pain or of laughter.

3. Throwing up when the opening from your esophagus to the rest of the world is blocked by wired together teeth is extremely more terrifying than you might imagine it to be. This one doesn’t need to much explanation, and I doubt you really want details. Suffice it to say, I’ve done it twice and hope not to do it again in the remaining weeks.

4. Getting cold, resulting in chills, is highly inadvisable.  This happened one night in the hospital, and the uncontrollable chattering of a broken jaw that that is wired shut is excruciating. Then, the pain and fear from the cold chills resulted in nervous shakes throughout my body, unsteady hands, tears, and ultimately a dose of morphine in my IV. After my first shower when I got home, I felt myself getting cold and immediately cried. Fortunately, we were able to warm me up before I had to experience the chills again.

5. Amidst all the pain, there will be lots of unbelievable blessings. You will see an image of your car and know that only God could have spared you from what should have been death. The police officer that was the first responder will give your husband his personal cell so that he can receive a report on you. People 5 counties away will manage to get dinner on your front porch. The glasses that you lost in the wreck will be replaced for free from your optometrist friends. Your mailbox will be flooded with gift cards to places that serve smoothies. Friends will watch your kids and love them fully. Your mother-in-law, when told the strawberry Ensure that you had in the hospital wasn’t that bad, will clear out Wal-Mart of their supply. Your brother will take off work to be with you, hold your hand. When you cry, and you say that all this seems too hard, your mom will cusp your hand, look you in the eyes with her beautiful blue ones, and speak to you that she taught you to be a strong woman, just like her momma taught her to be, and you will know that she speaks the truth. Your brother-in-law will mow your yard. Your sister-in-law will come immediately to the hospital with dinner for your hungry husband. Every family member’s pastor, including all the ones from your church, will come, driving out of their way, to pray with and for you. From the west coast, your brother will send a funny card to make you smile, along with yummy smoothie recipes. People that are strangers to you but friends to those you love will bring creamy soups from Trader Joe’s. The best man from your wedding will show up unexpectedly and suddenly make you bawl like a baby. Your phone will consistently receive texts of scripture, requests to help, prayer, and support. Your children will bring you flowers, rub your hair, and smile uncertain smiles that are still filled with hope and love.

Your husband will utterly amaze you, pray over you, cry over you, hold you up, awake in the middle of the night, wait on you hand and foot, carry all the family’s burdens and not falter. He will help rub off the IV stickiness, he will scour at a nurse that does something wrong, he will send out Facebook updates to everyone letting them know your condition, he will truly and ultimately be your helpmate and love of your life, cause he will be the walking embodiment of proving the line he said 10 years ago of “for better or for worse.”

Close friends, distant friends, strangers, family and  people in-between will pray beautiful prayers, and you will feel them, covet them, echo them, and know that your God hears them. You will know God hears them because you are still alive, and even thought things are not perfect, you fully know that things could have been much, much worse, and you’ve been blessed to live another day, and so has your sweet unborn baby that you carry inside; and that is one miracle no one can deny.

10 Years in May!

Thomas and I celebrated 10 years together in marriage in the month of May. We had always thought for our 10 year anniversary we would do something grand, but 10 years got here before we knew it, and we didn’t really anticipate him being back in school, so our plans had to adapt a little. Short on time to be together, we took advantage of the Memorial Day weekend and went to the Smoky Mountains for a few days, sans kids. Our decision to go to the mountains made sense though, cause that was our honeymoon location 10 sweet years ago.

We had a great view from our cabin:20130619-155512.jpg

And that was where we spent much of our time, lounging, reading books, watching a movie, relaxing in the hot tub, and just enjoying some peacefulness. No work, no school, no kids, just us.

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We also did a few things “in town,” such as a trip to the outlet mall, putt-putt, watching Star Trek in theaters, and taking a bit of time to hike and enjoy the views and nature.

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Thomas surprised me with an anniversary band, complete with a diamond for every year that he “has known and loved me in marriage.” It was such a surprise! We had once upon a time talked about me getting a band, but that talk was many years old. I love how it is simple yet beautiful. Sparkly and perfect. It is truly the band I would have chosen 10 years ago, had we had finances at the time of our wedding to do so. Now, however, it means so much more, cause we are 10 years into this crazy, beautiful mess called marriage and he still wants to keep me.

I can’t wait to celebrate even more years in marriage. We’ve been best friends for one, dated for one, engaged for one, and married for 10. What an unbelievable 13 years of life together! :O)

Because It’s Been 9 Years

Today, I took Daniel to stay the night with his cousin and Wesley to stay the night with my mom, and when this guy gets home from work, I’m surprising him and telling him to get back in the car, for we’re going to have a night of celebration—because it’s been 9 years

9 years since I walked down the aisle towards my best friend
9 years since I boo-hooed some vows to my true love
9 years since I entered a lifelong covenant with the goofy man that seriously “had me at hello” (or the “Whoomp There It Is” shirt, to be more exact)

I love you Thomas, today, yesterday, and always.

Happy 9 Years!

A Long Weekend Away

Thomas and I took a little weekend away to the mountains. We visited the Smokies, which are a totally different view than the Rockies we explored about this time last year. Regardless, it was time away together, in recovery and celebration.

My mother generously watched our boys while we explored the Titanic, hiked for miles, drank mai tais, sat in a hot tub, rocked in rocking chairs while listening to only the rippling of a river, saw 3 black bears, shopped at an outlet mall, read books leisurely, watched Red Box movies, and indulged on a few meals of not so clean or paleolithic eating.

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I love being with Thomas, and being that the Gatlinburg area was our Honeymoon destination, we spent much time chatting and reminiscing about how much things had stayed the same/changed in our 9 years of marriage (well, 9 years at the end of this month—but close enough).

Trips like this are what keep our marriage going. Just a few days of focusing on one another, spending time rejuvenating our love, reflecting on and discussing our dreams, as well as what the Lord is doing in us and through us is imperative. We’re so thankful for our life together.

8 years and 1/2 a 14er

Thomas and I have officially been married 8 years!

To celebrate this fact, we took a trip out west. We  have journeyed west before but we have never enjoyed the mountains. Thomas took the liberties to plan the whole gig, and he found a magnificent cabin right outside of Colorado Springs. Here is the view from the hot tub (or the couch), along with a photo of our “home sweet home” for a few days:

Our cabin rested on over 100 acres of private land. The land even had the original homestead present.

I, of course, liked to imagine what it would have been like to have lived there, in that homestead, in the late 1800s. The owners kept a great historical account of the land and the family in a book available for guests to read. The acreage was originally purchased by a single lady Imoda (I think that was how you spelled it) in the late 1800s. She later married and soon after gave birth to a daughter. About a year after her first child was born, she gave birth to a son. Shortly after his birth, she died from complications. It was interesting to know so much about the land on which I was residing without it being a major historical marker. Two lives were brought into the world right there in that tiny house above and one life was lost right inside of it as well. It was just intriguing, and I enjoyed the solitude that the land provided, along with the rich history.

While in CO, we met with a college friend and his new fiance in the city of Denver at a comfort food restaurant that was also hip, called Steuben’s. I had an entree of mac-n-cheese. Yum!

Denver had some interesting sculptures throughout the town that were fun to see. There was also a cool art show happening in the middle of a pedestrian mall. While observing the art, I heard “Summer??!!” and I turned to find a girl that use to live down the hall from me in the dorms while I was in college. It was SO random. She is very talented, and it was funny that I was fascinated with her art before I realized I actually knew whose art it was! I also knew her husband, but we did not manage to see him, unfortunately.

While away, we were able to visit the Garden of the Gods. The location gets its name because the natives had once said it was so beautiful that the gods must have come down from the heavens to play. There was certainly a perfect and picturesque view every which way you turned. We hiked though the grounds many miles, completely in awe of our surroundings.

The day after Garden of the Gods, we got up before the sun and headed to Pike’s Peak, one of Colorado’s 14ers. We planned to hike Barr Trail about 13 miles to the summit and take the cog train, which takes passengers to the top for summit viewing, down, back to our vehicle.

As we started the morning hiking, it was cool and overcast. As we ascended the mountain, it was amazing to literally hike into the clouds. We stood in them as the swirled away to make room for the sun of the day. No picture can do it justice. It was just amazing.

Despite living in a town that the Internet tells me is less than 400 feet above sea level, we were able to handle the drastic elevation change quite well. It helped that our cabin was at 8,00 feet, so we had slept at a great height for two nights. It was a bit of a challenge when we first started, for it was almost like the effort that you were exerting was about half of what your body felt like it was giving. Fortunately, as we ascended higher and higher, we acclimated quite well considering we were beginning the hike at about 6,500 above sea level and aiming for over 14, 000 at the conclusion.

We knew that our anniversary trip was a little early in the season to attempt a summit, but we at least wanted to give it a shot. We had noticed, from our excellent cabin view, that the snow was less every day and it even dwindled quite nicely by late afternoon. That gave us a little bit of hope. The only catch would be our way down, the cog train. If it was not summitting, we had a problem because we knew we could not hike the 26 miles from top to bottom, with the lack of daylight being just one of the reasons. And even though there is a campsite about half-way, that was not our objective, so we did not have any gear. (Side note: they do in fact run a marathon up and back down this mountain. That truly does blow my mind. The record holder is a local who holds both the half and the whole best times. His winning speed? I forgot the whole but the half, 13 miles up a mountain, he did in 2 hours and 1 minute. Wow!)

After hiking about 5 1/2 miles, which is just under halfway, we realized that it was too windy for our train to summit. No train summiting, means no Summer and Thomas summiting (see sign photo above). Summit was recording 80mph winds, so the train was not risking it. We, therefore, turned around and began to head down, for we wanted to be able to catch our train and ride it up as far as it was offering.

The train provided us with a great history lesson and some humor along the ride. Thomas took some artsy photos, which made me happy.

Lounging in the hot tub, cooking a few meals, sipping on wine, reading books, and just enjoying each others company was basically what made up the rest of the trip. We appreciated not having Internet for a few days.

Going to the mountains was a great way to reflect on our 8 years in marriage. We, in fact, went to the mountains on our honeymoon, but the Smokies are much less dramatic than the Rockies. All in all though, it was the same purpose 8 years later: to enjoy being together and being in love.

Our trip came right after a sermon given by our pastor on how empty nesters now hold the new #1 divorce rate. Why? Because for around 20 years mommies pour their everything into their children, neglecting themselves and not prioritizing their marriage. Daddies just go with the flow and begin to pull away from their wives. One day, the kids are gone and you realize you do not know that person next to you. You do not even know yourself. As he said “You said ‘I do’ to your spouse, not your kids. It goes God, Spouse, and then kids!” So, it felt good to take a break from the day to day tasks, to let our children enjoy grandma for a few days, and to go and invest in our marriage.

I’m such a blessed gal! I love you Thomas! Here’s to 8 wonderful years down and many more years together.

The Story of A, B, and C

We met in city A, a college town with a perfect blend of business and pleasure. After we married, we lived a year in city A so I could finish my bachelor’s degree while Thomas had his first professional job. We had a nice town home rental and plenty of space for just the two of us. Our home soon became the place for all our college friends still crammed in dorm rooms to come and stretch. When my student teaching was done and my diploma was in hand, the resumes went out, and I took a job in city B.

City B just happened to be the big city that Thomas’s country hometown bled into after you crossed the river. I took on the role of high school teacher at the mere age of 21, barely older than the Freshmen and Juniors I taught. We lived in an apartment that had a swimming pool and tennis courts, which were perfect for the summer’s off from teaching. Thomas had a job with a company he loved and he was swiftly being promoted up the career ladder. After a year and a half in the complex, we wanted some grass to rub out feet in, not to mention a washer and dryer under our roof, so we looked for a rental home. After living in the cute home for 6 months, the length of our initial lease, Thomas had already been promoted to be the supervisor of the entire region in which city A happened to be. Recently pregnant and excited about the future, we loaded up everything and took off.

Back in city A, I enrolled in grad school while Thomas did about everything under the sun with his new job. He loved it, and it was certainly prestigious,  but it was exhausting in some ways we had never experienced. We welcomed our little one into our life and he fit in perfectly within our nice rental home. Life was good. After earning my grad degree, I taught part-time at the local college while Daniel was loved and cared for in our home by a sweet friend, eventually ending up in 2 day a week care one building up from where I taught on campus. A few tough experiences later, Thomas became disappointed by the company he once loved, so he set his eyes out to look for something better, more consistent for family life. We had lived a good 2 1/2 years but knew it was time for change. It was then that we moved to city C.

City C happened to be my hometown, that had changed much but still had enough country charm, along with prime access to other cities. We found a place to rent and began to settle into home. I continued to commute two days a week to teach at the college while Thomas began to immediately find favor in his new job. With a long term focus, we began to look for a house. 6 months into our 6 month lease, we found a home, put in an offer, and bought ourselves our first place. Thomas was promoted shortly after we moved, becoming a team director with his company, and we discovered baby #2 was on the way. Even before we had lived there a year, the economy began to dip even lower and Thomas’s company asked him to fire 7 people on his team and also included a request for him to take a lower position (due to him having just fired his entire team). Seeing it as a sinking ship, Thomas took the offer that was being presented to him daily by a colleague outside his company. We did, after all, have a baby on the way virtually any day, so a more secure job sounded wise. It paid more, had better benefits, and was more Thomas’s style. The rub: It was just over 1 1/2 hours away. Selling our home and/or moving was not on the radar at first, for we had just had a baby, so we just lived life and Thomas commuted. Almost year into the new gig, Thomas’s car pool buddy decided she was crazy for not moving closer to the job, so he was left to drive daily, alone. We decided that perhaps making our own move was a good thing to explore. We put out a sign and waited. 2 1/2 years after buying our first home, we have boxed up 4 people’s belongings and moved back to city B.

Here, back in city B, we have a nice rental (guess we should take the house buying thing easy for now, after looking at our track record–ha!). We’ve been here just over a week and will at least live in this home at least a year, thanks to the lease. Thomas still loves his job but he is now in the car 17 minutes one-way to work as opposed to the hour and a half one-way before. I already love that the text saying he is on his way home means I see his face in under 20 minutes! We still have some connections here and we are enjoying acquainting ourselves again with old friends, as well as looking forward to making more.

Almost all the boxes are tucked away and so much has been purged from our lives (one awesome benefit of moving!). We are excited about what God has in store for us.

So, when you see some new pictures and the environment looks different, you will know why :O)

(And I think we hold the record for number of moves for our amount of time being married. 7 years of marriage and 7 moves. At least in May we will celebrate 8 years and the numbers will not be equal :O)

New Mexico Trip

Thomas had a conference that he needed to attend for work. This is an annual conference that he will need to be present at so that he can get his continuing education units. Last year it was in Minnesota but I did not go with him. Instead, I was home with the boys, painting a bathroom to help pass the time. This time, however, it was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I went with him, sans kiddos, just like I did for his business trip to Hawaii.

He was occupied each day from about 8 to 5. This meant I had pretty much all day to myself, which is so abnormal yet very splendid. We did not have a rental car except for one day, so I had to manage journeying by trains, taxis, shuttle services, feet, and things of the like. Fortunately, with a bit of creativity in connecting some form of the above, I was able to do and see many things.

In case you did not know, (because we didn’t  until right before we went) Albuquerque is the home to a world renown balloon festival that just happened to be occurring while we were there. Literally hundreds of balloons mass ascend each morning and float in the sky all day long. They even have balloon glows at night, which we attended once. We did not get to see any balloons though because the winds were too high for flight. It was quite disappointing, but fortunately we were able to see them in other ways.

One way I was able to see more of the Ballon Fiesta was while on a 3 hour kayak trip down the Rio Grande at sunrise. Balloons floated over our heads all morning long, and the view was simply spectacular. I somehow managed to be on a media trip, so all of these journalists were asking me, the one tourist, to pose for pictures. I was certainly not the best looking subject, being that the Sandia mountains were clearly in view and balloons were all around but I was the only human option they had, so I guess I would have to work :O)I also took a tram to the top of the Sandia Mountains, while enjoying discussions with strangers, good fun, and spectacular views.

Together we visited Old Town Albuquerque, became captivated by The Cathedral Basicillica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, traveled the scenic Turquoise Trail, visited an old mining community,  met one of my old basketball friends from high school, enjoyed company  with my cousin, devoured wonderful, authentic New Mexican food, journeyed historic Route 66,  experienced our first casino (while walking away with over $140 dollars that we did not enter with), and basically just soaked up quiet time together.

For Thomas it was mostly work with a little play but for me it was all play! I am so grateful for the ability to go, not to mention the amazing mother and in-laws that took care of our precious children. Without them,                                  it might have been another year of me painting at home. Thanks Grandma, Nana, and Grandpa Tom :O)

6 Years!

wedding kissAs of today, Thomas and I have been married for 6 years! We can’t belive it has already been that long, and we are really excited to know we will one day celebrate 25 years……50 years……still saying the same words.

With Wesley’s arrival pending, we knew that this year would not entail anything too big in the way of celebration (like we did last year), for we really had no idea if he would be here in our arms on the 31st, making his way here, or still in the womb, as he is now.

We did celebrate, however. We began by playing hookie from church. My mother watched Daniel for us, and we went to a nearby town that we never visit, so it really did fell like we were on vacation. Everything was unfamiliar, complete with many new/different restaurants, shops, and such. First we visited a store and just relaxed and browsed the aisles, despite being asked about 100 times if we “needed help finding anything.”  Then, we beat the church lunch rush and enjoyed a nice meal. Thomas was asked by the hostess upon being seated, “Is the baby yours?” I had already journeyed to the restroom, so I missed this part. Before our meals arrived, we exchanged anniversary cards. Both of us chose funny ones this year, so we were each laughing in turn as we came to the humorous parts. Another great form of entertainment was our whispering waiter. Thomas had an extremely hard time hearing anything he asked or said, and we used him as fodder for a mock SNL skit that we played out in our minds. At least he was a good server. Next, we saw a movie, and we really enjoyed the spacious theater with stadium seats and very few movie-goers. The sound at the theater was superb, and we could feel our seats vibrate during some of the extremely intense scenes. Finally, we each got ourselves a treat before heading home. Thomas chose some Oreo ice cream and I got a Starbucks drink. Yummy!

All throughout the day we have been looking at the time, trying to remember what portion of the day was unfolding excatly 6 years ago. It is fun to remember the emotions of our wedding day, being so full of joy and the wonderful anticipation of embarking on our life together in matrimony. Oddly enough, those same feelings are present today, just slightly altered: joyful of our years of marriage already unveiled and wonderfully anticipating our second child! I wonder what the next 6 years have in store!