In our family...

In our family....we do second chances...we do grace...we do real...we do mistakes...we do I'm sorry (and I forgive you)...we do loud really well...we do hugs...we do family...we do love.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In the moment

At times, it’s easy for me to take an instant step back and reflect upon what was and feel nothing other than thankfulness that what was then, is no longer my truth today. Other times, turning around and looking back, I can instantly feel the emotions over what happened then. All too often, feeling emotions that come with revisiting the days of yesterday, leaves me pondering over who I would be today if I hadn’t walked that road. Would I like me better? What would my life be like today? Tomorrow?

When I speak of the past, I speak of those experiences that left me bruised, battered, and worn…experiences I chose for myself and those that were chosen for me. In many aspects, I am thankful for the gift of remembering things from the past so that I can learn from them, for today and tomorrows benefit. I am grateful for the wisdom I gained having walked through those fires. Yet, there is living with regret over bad choices…over even those things I might not have been dictator of or caused. I wonder if I might have handled those things better, or wiser, just maybe, things could have been different.

There was a time in my life that I lived in fear of the past…fear of what the past meant or said about me…a time in which I feared remembering…a time when it didn’t feel safe to look back… a time in which I feared admitting that this is what I’ve done, but this is who I am today. I am realizing that it took a lot of courage to look those things in the face for what they were….the sin’s of other’s yes, but the hardest to look at were my own. It has taken much courage to let go and forgive. And I mean, really forgive. This past, these yesterday’s, are my history. The bottom line is that I cannot control or change what is my history. If I don’t choose to accept this fact, I stay stuck behind and not able to live happily in today.

These experiences are part of me. No matter how far I’ve ever ran, in hopes of escaping those experiences, I could never get away from them, because they are part of me. I have this saying…”Where ever I go, there I am.”

This past does not dictate who I am today, but this past has been instrumental in shaping me to be who I am today. Who I am today and the experiences of today, will likely prepare me for what will come tomorrow. I can worry or fear the things of the future…that I won’t be prepared for this or that. Just as thinking about yesterday, steals me away, thinking about tomorrow, also takes me away from what is before me in the here and now.

Living in the moment is difficult to do when you are dealing with old baggage from the past or still feeling hurt over something that happened yesterday. Living in the moment can be hard when you are fearing or worrying about tomorrow. Living in the moment is difficult for me, because, as a mother, wife, grandma, and friend, I can be pulled into so many directions. I can get so caught up in “doing” or working or whatever duty calls that I lose out on the gift of the many moments that fill my day. I miss out on who is present here with me. I miss out on the beauty of those things that might be considered trivial or mundane because I take them for granted. I miss out because I focus on things that are just material or will eventually perish. Sometimes, I miss out because I am too busy taking myself and life too seriously. Sometimes, I miss out because I'm just not paying attention. When I am focusing soley on yesterday or tomorrow, I miss out on the every day joy that is mine for the taking.

While it’s okay to reflect back to yesterday and bring to today the wisdom I gained from it, I must not keep my foot planted there. While it is good and responsible to plan for tomorrow and whatever the future might bring, planting a foot into worrying or fearing what is to come next or about this or that, will not do me or those around me, any good. Instead I aim to plant both of my feet into the moments of today.

The sun has risen to a new day. Maybe, this is why today is such a gift. Today I grab a hold of the every day joy. Today, in spite of the pain the flows through my body, I choose to take in today’s gifts, whatever they may be. I will be in the moment and not miss out. Today is a gift to do it all over again…a do over… a chance to hit “refresh”.

Love and hugs, Lori

PS Thank you for the prayers!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Write Because I Can

Tonight, I write because sleep escapes me. While this is nothing new, especially as of late, tonight, I at least do not have the burning nausea eating away at my stomach, thus giving me this opportunity to write. Pain has stolen me away once again. Like a thief in the night, it came and it has not left.

I should clarify that this has been above and beyond the normal pain that I live with on a regular basis…and yes, that pain sucks too, but I have learned how to live with it for the most part. While the pain is a constant friend or should I say enemy, there are times it can be much worse. I have had flare ups on occasion…caused from changes in the weather to over doing it, to lifting too much weight, to over loading on stress…all can cause me to flare up with worse pain then normal. I know I have talked about this here a couple of times but for the most part I don’t like to talk about it here or in my “real” life. I just don’t. I don’t like “it” being center of my life and I don’t want people feeling sorry for me. Believe me when I say, I do a good enough job of that all on my own without anyone’s help.

I have learned to breathe through the pain…to not let it control my life…to not let it stop me from living. I spent the first two years of my injury living in that way. Those were wasted years that I can’t get back and I don’t want to lose any more. When I was in the hospital, going through a pain management program, they taught me how to live again. They taught me how to deal with the flare ups that would come and believe me, over the past 5 years since I left that hospital, those flare ups have come and gone.

When these flare ups hit me, it’s like I have been hit by a truck. Sometimes I know when they are coming towards me. Other times it's like the rug has been pulled out unexpectedly from under my feet. At times, it takes my breathe away. Pain makes me sick to my stomach. Noise, sound, light, cold, heat, movement and stimuli can all make it worse. If you suffer from migraines, I have much sympathy for you because I am told that these symptoms are similar to yours. If you suffer from pain period, whether from arthritis, an injury or some other ailment my heart goes out to you. I have learned to do things to help lesson and shorten the length of the flare ups. Things like exercising, cold and hot packs, stretching, breathing, meditating, resting…ect…the list could go on.

Pain makes me want to stop everything yet I can’t. Not completely anyways…because life goes on and until the flare up passes, life kinda sucks. These flare ups last from one day to about a week…on occasion it has been longer but for the most part within a week I have gained back some control over the pain.

This time, it’s different. Last November, I started with a flare up that has never really went away. This time, it has slowly gotten worse. My previous injuries to my neck and skull have started to affect other parts of my body. I was warned 5 years ago of the possibility of this happening or of getting arthritis in the area of my injury as I aged. I’ve lived in denial of this for quite some time. As the pain has gotten progressively worse, I have been forced to stop living in this state of denial.

For months I avoided consulting with the doctors about my symptoms because I didn’t want to admit or believe that there might be something more wrong. I didn’t want to hear what they might say. I kept blaming it on the weird weather we have been having and stress. I kept hoping it would just go away. I have fought long and hard to be strong, healthy and in good physical shape. I kept thinking that if I just keep fighting it would get better again. But it didn’t. Every week I lost more strength and ability to move without pain. Each week I have become more drained and tired. As I began to lose the ability to move my left arm and lost even more strength and mobility, I promised myself and my family that I would go to the doctor once we got back from our trip and they had all left to go home.

The week my youngest daughter left I started consulting with doctors again. I’ve started taking more medications, for inflammation and pain, which is wrecking havoc with my stomach. The pain is so severe that I am now taking pain medications again, even though they don’t feel like they are doing much good. They are suppose to help me sleep but they don’t. I will have tests done this week that will hopefully give the doctors and myself some more answers as to what we are dealing with, so that we can know which direction to go. They talk about injections and more physical therapy and the possibility of there being something more wrong. All questions that need answering. Hopefully soon. Part of me wants to know the truth. Part of me doesn’t.

This feels like such a failure. Like I have lost all that I gained. Yet, I know I cannot afford to stop and feel sorry for myself and think about such things as failure or giving up…or having pity parties. It's these times of deep pain that my mind begins to question and doubt solid truths that I know. It's times like now, that I cry out for courage and resiliency to withstand this mighty test.

This gnawing pain is eating at my soul. It’s trying to steal my life away and even though I am weak, I still fight…and sometimes I just want to stop fighting and give in to it. It affects my ability to think clearly or concentrate… or to see the glass as half full. I’m a glass half full kind of gal and when I start seeing the glass as being full of shit then I start to panic. I have a hard time breathing when I panic. I tell myself to breath, when all I want to do is just lay down and give in to whatever it is that is wrecking havoc on my body, and just stop breathing. But, I know… I. Can‘t. Ever. Give. Up.

I know all the reason why I can‘t. All I have to do is look around me. I look at these pictures from my most wonderful month with my children, grand children and husband and cry…pictures that I haven’t even finished showing you or moments that I haven’t told you about yet because of this big damn wall of pain that stands between me and doing what I want, when I want.

I will get my fight back. Whatever it is that I am up against, I will win. It will not win against me. In my present frustration, fears and panic I may not feel that right now, but it is something I know deep in my soul to be true. I will win. I will beat what ever this is. It will not own me or take away what I have worked so hard for. I will get my fight back and kick some ass once again. You can be sure of that.

In the meantime, I have faith that someone bigger than me is still carrying me and looking out for me. I know that I don’t always have to be strong because He always is. I know He holds the bigger picture in His hands and I trust that whatever it is, wherever this takes me, I will get through it. I know that the outcome of this doesn’t depend on me being perfect or without flaws. I know, without a doubt that He understands my human feelings of fear, panic, self pity and frustrations. He gets me. And for now that has to be good enough.

I write tonight because the pain that flows like blood through my veins will not allow me to sleep. This visitor, that came like a thief in the night, refuses to leave so instead of wallowing in my pain and letting the fear swallow me up, as the minutes tick by and it is already becoming tomorrow, I choose to write. I choose to write in this window of opportunity, when tomorrow I may very well be too sick to touch the keys of this computer. I write to be free of these ugly thoughts and fears. Tonight I write because I can. Thank you for listening.

PS I have been visiting you when I can, even if I haven’t left you comments. You have written posts that have encouraged me. Thank you. You have written beautiful posts that have given me much to ponder. Thank you. You have written posts that have made me smile and laugh. Thank you. Your posts, have gotten me through some really long nights and days. No matter how trivial you might think your posts are, your words bring hope and smiles to my life. Thank you. Seriously, each one of you touch my life with your words…the words you leave here but even more so the words you write at your own place. I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am, that our paths have crossed. Blessings to each one of you! Lori

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Now & Then

I am sure, that by now, most of you are tired of hearing about and seeing pictures of my children and grand children. That’s okay. I’ll understand if I don’t see you around here until I have finished recording the interruptions that filled up my summer. Since this is my place to record such interruptions and my heart is so overflowing with the indulgences that filled me up this past month, I must share. I must.

At the end of July, for 3 glorious days, I had 4 of the 5 grandchildren, here with me, at one time. This doesn’t happen very often. You already know that we are raising 2 of them and over the past 3 years of doing this, have become "daddy and mommy" to them....BUT at special times like this, they get to join the grandchild brigade.

Watching the 4 of them together is priceless to me. It is moments like this, that make my grandmother heart burst with such pride and joy. They are like my crown of glory. I will never forget those first moments in which I was born into this special club called "grand parenting". I have been blessed with the joy of being present at the births of 3 of them. I was privileged to be asked to be present for such a moment as giving birth but to also hold each of them when they were minutes old. I cried tears of joy at each of their births. All 3 are “awe” moments in my memory bank…they are part of my list of life’s greatest moments.

I will never forget the day, some years ago, that my eldest granddaughter, who is now 10 years old, crowned me "Queen Grandma". What an honor to have this title. What an honor to have such miracles of love in my life. What an honor it has been to watch my daughters become moms and to blossom in this role as their children watch them grow up with their children, much like I did, with them.

We spent one whole day with my parents. I know this means the world to my parents to have this time with their grandchildren and great grandchildren. I am thankful that they can know their grandparents and that we have these pictures of our time together.

For 3 days, we had a blast just being together. Three whole days, packed full of playing together, love, giggles, hugs, kisses and fun.
For 3 days, these precious people rocked my world and filled it up with their noise. They are fabulously fun. These moments of being all together are rare and far between so we have to fill up our time with as much as possible. And we sure did. I indulged in their love, much like it were candy but only better. Much better.

Oh the wondrous adventures of grand parenting…Oh the memories that fill me up…especially as I look through pictures that have helped me record this journey.

This was then…

This is now...

We have had the time of our life. Now and then...

My precious grands…
This has been a most amazing grand adventure…watching each of you grow. So many wonderful memories we have of our times together…so many priceless moments that we have shared. My heart bursts with such happiness because of each of you. You truly do make my life grand. You rock my world. You make my heart smile and my soul leap with joy. I love you more today, then I did yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow…

I love you to the moon and back…XXXXOOOO...hugs and kisses for your pockets, to pull out for later...XXXOOO Grandma L

Friday, August 14, 2009

Welcome to the Zoo

We arrived back home in Minnesota on Wednesday night of July 22...we were exhausted from our trip but came home to a very happy husband and 2 little people that were extremely happy to see me…and their auntie and cousin too of course. I was happy to be home but part of me was sad from leaving my children and not knowing when I will see them again. And yet life goes on and such is the process of letting go and moving forward with life.

It was back to work for 2 long days of work. What kept me going was knowing that these two(my youngest daughter and 2 year old grandson from northern Florida) would be flying in on Saturday...

I could hardly wait! My eldest daughter, little lady and I made the 2 hour drive to pick them up from the airport that Saturday morning. When we got to the airport they were already at the baggage claim. When my little A- man saw me, he ran to me as fast as his little legs could run. After jumping into my arms, he alternated between taking my face in his hands and smiling the biggest smile ever and saying “my grandma” and hugging me. This brought tears to my eyes immediately, because even though I talk to him on the phone frequently and he spent his first year and a half living with us, I worry about him forgetting who I am since they live so far away. He hasn’t forgotten me!

He melts my heart. I think he may have me wrapped around his fingers and his toes...He gave me lots of these while he was here...

He didn’t forget little lady either. These two are best buddies in every sense of the word. They spent their first years growing up together so have a special bond. They both squealed with delight when they saw each other and had smiles pasted on their faces and wouldn’t stop looking at each other as we drove to meet family at a nearby restaurant. After we ate, we all went for a walk along this scenic bridge…

...and of course we had to take a picture...

...and the two of them never stopped talking to each other...

...they rarely stopped holding hands...

...when they weren't holding hands they were chasing each other...

...rarely do these two EVER stand still at the same time!

...or sit still... they love each other or what? Did you notice how they match? We didn't plan for that but how cool is that!

...and of course kissing each other!

Since this daughter and A-man lived with us they are very special to my little people…if you were to ask little lady who her best friends are she would name the two of them….

It felt so good to bring the two of them home. We were greeted by little man and grandpa…as soon as A-man had hugged them both he was on a bike with his other favorite buddy...

A-man ran around like a little crazy man…he was so happy he was screaming. Welcome to our crazy zoo! I’ve always referred to my house as the zoo…years of having lots of kids at my house due to running a daycare and being the neighborhood hangout sure made it feel like one. My daughter came bearing gifts for me…this sign to hang by the front door was one of them….

I love it! It fits our home perfectly!

When we came home, little man surprised me with a birthday cake and a special card that he had picked out all my himself…since I had been gone on my trip for my birthday little man had insisted we still had to celebrate it. Darn kids. These 3 were so darn excited to sing to me and help me blow out the candles...and more importantly, to help me eat it!

My eldest son and my brother came over and we ate and played games. It felt perfect having them all here. The 3 kids played until dark and were so tired they didn’t even fight going to bed!

That night, I got a chance to go out for awhile with both of my daughters and my son and my brother. They had friends meet up with them while we were out. Even though my youngest daughter pooped out early in the night…due to no sleep the night before, we had a good time. We went to a street dance at a small town nearby.

I think my eldest daughter is quite proud of her quite large beer…

I think she spilled more of her beer then anything!

My brother and I sure liked ours…

Don't worry we weren't son was the sober driver that night. After the street dance we came home and sat around the fire. A perfect ending to a most perfect day.

This was just the first day of their homecoming and already I was filling myself up with their goodness...all things that are pure and lovely in them, filling me up for these moments after they are gone and my heart aches for just hold him one more hear his infectious giggles and witness first hand that killer daughters sweetness and laugh with her once have them here along with my eldest son and daughter and back on those moments that filled up our days, I can almost hear the wonderful sound of all of their voices mixed together as it filled my home. Such delight for my eyes, ears and heart to take in. In remembering, my heart overflows with gratitude.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Heaven on Earth

Each day of my stay in Couer d’ Alene, felt like a gift that I had long awaited for. It is hard for me to put into words just how incredible it felt to have this time with my children and granddaughter in such a beautiful place. In many ways it felt like heaven on earth…in many ways it looked much like it could be heaven on earth, which made it all that more sweeter.

To behold such beauty... experience it with daughters that are women you call friends...

...took my breath away...

If you know at least some of my story…where I have come from to get here, then you can appreciate how big this was for me…and how I cannot take these moments for granted, not even for one moment. One of the good things that came out of living through tough times and experiencing deep pain in my life, is that it taught me to really appreciate any good that comes into my life…that when something is good and beautiful, to embrace it…and to never ever take it for granted. It's taught me to be thankful for the abundance that today has brought and for the lessons that the past taught me so that I could experience joy in the here and now. I have worked and fought hard to get here and it feels good to share it with you.

Because my children and grandchildren live so far away, these moments that I get with them, mean the world to me. To have this rare time with them without all the distractions and demands of my regular life was a precious gift to me. I soaked in their presence…their smiles, their voices, their laughter and their faces.

So let me finish telling you about my trip that came and went in a blink of an eye…

Every day was filled up with things like laughter, dancing, goofing around, playing games and watching the sun set each night but each day was also filled up with things like hiking…

…and camping, canoeing, swimming and cliff jumping into the ice cold water… As much as I wanted to jump, I couldn't’t because of my injuries. So I cheered everyone on from the canoe!

In a blink of an eye it was time to say good-bye to my son at the airport. I wanted to hang on to him and not let him go. As he walked away from me, he turned around and my daughter got this picture of him. It’s this image of him that I have burned in my memory. I miss him with all of my heart.

We had 3 days wonderful days of “girl time” before we left to come home. It’s like I closed my eyes for one second and when I opened them, it was time to say good-bye to my daughter, her boyfriend and their dog Ida. I wanted to hang on to her and not let go. I miss her with all of my heart.

Driving away is hard…usually it’s one of them flying away from me. I was thankful that my eldest daughter and granddaughter were still with me and that I had one more week with them. I would hang onto every second I had left with them like it was precious gold.

I don’t do well with good-byes. I hung on to each of their last hugs and last “I love you mom’s” like it’s the air I breathe. I etched their smiles into my memory. I touched their faces and memorized the wonderfulness of them. I had to let go once again…it hurt like hell but I did it…and I did it without smoking!

I had the time of my life with these three…I love you guys to the moon and back. XXXOOO

PS I don't think we got my son to pose with "the look" even once...poor guy stuck in the middle of us silly girls! My granddaughter sure had fun taking the pictures though!

While I was away this past month Pseudonymous High School Teacher came up with this grand idea of Travel Tip Thursday. For other travel related posts check her out! She has the most amazing pictures of her life Hawaii.

And she suggested I link this post so I'm giving it a shot. My fingers and toes are crossed that this actually works!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We arrived in Couer d’ Alene, Idaho on Monday morning, after driving non stop for 21 hours. We were exhausted but excited to be there so I think we were functioning on adrenaline that whole day. It was cool and raining so we decided to go Second Hand shopping, which is one of my favorite things to do. Plus you get the bonus of great people watching, which is another of my favorite things to do…I must say I was quite entertained by a few people that I observed through out the day…and I also must say that my children and granddaughter were part of that entertainment.

Plain and simple, my children and grandchildren amuse me with their antics and humor. I am easily entertained just by listening to them or watching them. Part of that entertainment was my daughters goofing around with the camera’s…they came up with posing in what we came to call “the look”. Posing with “the look” became the family mantra through out our time there. No matter what we were doing, whether it be going for a walk or hiking, cliff jumping, or watching the sun set, someone was posing with “the look”.

I think my granddaughter has perfected "the look" quite well.

...and they even got me to do it a time or two...

They were quite amused with themselves...

One of the things I love most about my family is our ability to have fun where ever we are at and our ability to take whatever circumstances are at hand and work with it…to laugh, have fun and be silly…my family likes to make weird faces and make goofy poses whenever there is a camera out…much like these…

We laughed a lot…we talked a lot…we may even have drank a lot a time or two or more…we went out dancing for a night on the town…we played a lot…we even learned a new game called “cups”…

To play, you have teams of 2 and take turns throwing a frisbee and try to get it between the 2 poles without touching them or to knock one or both cups off the poles while holding a drink in one hand. Fun!

We went out to eat a couple of times but mostly we cooked at home. I did get to try sushi for the first time and loved it.

Just about every night, we sat in some beautiful area and watched the sun set.

The pictures don’t do the breath taking beauty of this place, justice. I remember sitting in the peace and quiet of the evening, with beauty surrounding me on all sides and being speechless…as I not only took in this great beauty but also as I took it in with these beautiful people called my children and grand daughter.

Every day she makes me thankful that I am her grandma.

Every day they make me thankful I am their mom.

When I say beautiful, I am not talking about physical beauty. I am talking about the people that they each are…each of them are amazing people. Yes, to everyone on the outside looking in, they are just ordinary young adults but because I know them…because I know of the great things that they do when no one is watching…because I know of the journeys they have made to get to the present…because I know their individual greatness, to me they are extraordinary. They are remarkable people doing remarkable things in the every day world…and they were mine for a time.

Even though I have to share them with the world most of the time…and even though they are no longer just mine but their own selves, with their own lives to lead, every once in awhile an opportunity arises and I get these extraordinary moments...these moments of greatness of doing every day things,like watching a sun set.

I embraced these extraordinary moments with my children and granddaughter…these were moments of awe…these were moments that I just breathed in the beauty that was mine.

These people make my heart smile and my soul soar to great heights.

These are just 3 of the people that make me grateful to be their mother. The 2 that are missing were greatly missed but thankfully I had special time with them too, that I will share about in the near future.

My heart really is overflowing with gratitude for all that was mine this past month. I cannot help but share it since being a mother and grandma is so much of who I am!