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Archive for March, 2011

Life of hope

It’s with a heavy heart that I write this morning. Yesterday a co-worker of my mom’s took his life. In the past year he had lost multiple family members of his own and was fighting his own battle with aggressive Parkinson’s disease.  He could no longer take it anymore. You can imagine the grief his family feels as they grapple with why life wasn’t worth living.

Loving the least of these

Many of you know my mom. One of the things that I love about my mom and that drives me crazy about her all at the same time is her ability to meet people and love them despite their quirks and crazies. She is notorious for the most hilarious stories about co-workers and neighbors. Years ago I would have thought she was enhancing the stories but since I have seen more and more how people feel comfortable with her and pour out their lives to her within hours of meeting. No matter your past or current predicament, she is a willing ear and on standby to make a meal, pay a visit, or drive you to the doctor. She loses sleep over her friends lives. As a pastors wife you would have expected her to befriend the women with the neatly pressed dresses and lives that seemed to be full of grace and patience but she has always befriended those that most desperately needed a friend.   And she enjoyed them for their quirkiness and helped them through dealing with their past of abuse, broken marriages, the birth of children, the loss of children, the death of aging parents, and even their own death.

I think specifically of her friend Chris. She was a character if I have ever known one. She had wiry red hair, a raspy smokers voice and was a spit fire if there ever was one. She talked loudly and was in everyone’s business. She worked at the school with my mom and was diagnosed with a rare degenerative muscle disorder. She went from being a lively, feisty lady working with special needs kids to losing her ability to care for herself. My mom faithfully drove to her home to lift her into her car to take her to church. For years. Chris had been through a couple of marriages and much heart ache in her life. My mom loved her through it.

I know this co-worker was no different for my mom. He sounded like a mess. She listened to his stories about the Parkinson’s deteriorating his memory and his dreams to retire that could not be fulfilled because he would have to live with his son due to his increasing caretaker needs. In the end he made up stories of going off to see a relative across the country who needed a kidney. He talked of donating one because he knew his body wasn’t going to need it much longer.  In reality he was building a plan to take his own life.

The truth is I find myself being more and more like my mom as I get older. I would much prefer for people to be real with me and to see who they really are than to have people feel like they need to impress me. I want to be my imperfect self and not feel the need to hide the rough around the edges parts.  I find that friendships are emotional and often inconvenient if you do them well. Rewarding and fulfilling as well but they take great effort!

I am so sad for my mom’s loss of a friend and co-worker.  And I am so sad to hear of yet another person who’s life wasn’t worth living. But I know that in his final days my mom was someone that showed him an example of Christ’s love and spoke honest truth into his life.  Loving the least of these isn’t about just feeding the hungry and taking in orphans. It’s about being kind and accepting of those people in our lives that don’t always have it together or don’t always believe the same way we do or live their lives like we do. It’s living our lives with hope and sharing it with the hopeless.

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Treasure

The week before last we had visitors and Jackson and Owen both seemed to be coming down with something. Owen woke up from a nap with a fever and was generally miserable. He started waking up each hour in the night and carried on for 4 straight nights. It was very reminiscent of when he had the double ear infection he had in December.  We talked to our pediatrician but the office was closed from Thurs through Monday so we had to wait it out over the weekend. They told us to take Owen to the ER if we felt he wasn’t improving. In the midst of Owen feeling miserable Jackson heard us analyzing and wondering about Owen’s ears. About the time on Saturday morning that Seth had to take Owen to the ER, because he still had a high fever and was in pain, Jackson started talking about having a sore ear himself. Looking back I feel horrible but at the time it seemed obvious that he was just trying to get in on the attention and he was very disappointed to not be going to the hospital himself. (Although his interest in going waned when I told him Owen wasn’t going in an ambulance and it wasn’t an emergency). By the middle of the weekend Seth touched Jackson’s ear and he erupted in wails. By Tues morning when we got into the doctor Owen’s ears were just fine and Jackson was the one with a fiery ear infection. And on top of the infection he had so much blockage in his ears that we will be going back tomorrow for the doctor to remove all of the junk. I can tell you I am not looking forward to that!

Back to the title “treasure”. At the end of Jackson’s checkup he got to pick something from the prize bin. I usually try to give guidance but this time I was bundling Owen and trying to hurry Jackson out the door for lunch.  He was lingering over the prize bin, slowly and carefully digging through, picking what he found to be the most valuable treasure. I didn’t want to minimize his excitement (or tell him I would likely toss it in a few days) but we had to get going because of teethy fussy babe was biting my shoulder to get out of there. When we were halfway out the door I asked what he chose. A gaudy, gold ring with a heart-shaped red gem. He beamed as he talked about it and put it on his thumb. He said, “mom, in the morning when you say “put your socks on and put on your clothes ” , you can also say, “Put on your ring, Jackson” “. He wore it for the remaining hour until nap and asked if he could sleep with it.  I agreed but only if he laid it on his pillow, I didn’t want him to wear it and scratch his face.   After nap he walked upstairs to find me and again had that beaming grin as he slid it back on his thumb and said “mom, I’m wearing my ring”. He looked at it off and on to make sure it was still there and at one point realized that the gem had fallen out. He retraced his steps but much to his dismay he could not find the precious stone. He finally decided he could still wear it without the red bling.

Since last week we have lost and found the ring a zillion times. As I swept on Saturday I was about to shake out the dust pan when I glanced down and a dot of red-bling caught my eye. It would have been easier to just let it go out with the dust. It is a pain to continue the hunt for a toy that is dangerous for Owen and quite honestly hideous…and made for a little girl. But, I stopped myself and called to Jackson. He was thrilled to see my discovery! “Mom, you solved the mystery”

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Since it’s been so long since you have heard from him I better reintroduce him. Our guest writer today is Seth. You know, my husband and former co-author of this blog. So glad he came back to be a contributor. He did the tough task of digging up some of the videos we have gotten of Owen over the last yr plus. These don’t include him walking and the most recent ones but you can at least catch up a bit. We have also been having a hard time getting our camera to focus with video so excuse the blurriness.

It’s been a while since we posted any videos of the boys.  And way too long since there were any of Owen.  So here are some starting from when he was a newborn.

This is of Jackson meeting Owen for the first time.  You could already tell they were going to be best friends.

Owen talking to himself.  We should have known from this that he was going to be a talker!

Owen taking a bath.  He still loves being in the bath with his brother.

Owen enjoying some tickle time.

Nama and Owen having fun.

Daddy and Owen laughing together.

Owen having one of his first snow experiences.

Owen’s first birthday!

Owen singing “Rock, Rock, Rock Your Boat {If you see a crocodile, don’t forge to scream!}

Owen imitating faces and learning to give kisses.

Some of Owen’s first words/signs

Owen and Daddy wrestling

Jackson making his brother laugh

Owen starting to cruise.

Owen playing with his highchair toy.

Owen’s infectious laugh.

Owen army crawling.

Owen walking with his push toy.

Jackson encouraging Owen in walking.

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Bon bon in Bern

Last week my dear friend Bonnie graced us with a quick visit! I have been begging her since we got here to come on over and amazingly she did! Bonnie used her week of vacation to go to Germany and she, Leigh and Katy Jo popped over to Bern for 3 of the days.

We packed in the fun. Seth graciously took 2 afternoons off so that we girls could run around without napless boys. The weather wasn’t the best but we made the most of it. We went to a couple of brocantes when they first arrived in town. Bonnie is the Goodwill queen so I knew she could enjoy it! She found a few little treasures to take back with her. After getting the boys settled at home we drove to Gruyere where we went to the Callier chocolate factory and saw some great mountain views. I had heard multiple people talk of the all you can eat tasting room and we were all geared up for it. It was so fun to do it with Bonnie and Leigh because we all were on board with the “taste as many as you can handle mentality”. (I think Seth would have had his fill after a couple…but where is the fun in that? and don’t you want to get your moneys worth?!) Some strategic planner for the factory made sure there was no water fountain in the room which slowed us down but I imagine by the end we had each eaten nearly a box of chocolates. Don’t worry folks, none of us ate more than one of the same kind. We kept it classy and slowly attempted to try one of most. By the end we were about to die from the richness and gave up before having total success. This is NOT something that will be repeated on a regular basis.  Or ever again. But it was so fun!!!

luckily Leigh had a baby bottle of water.

And as if the chocolate didn’t almost kill us from richness we came home and made a traditional Swiss fondue dinner!

this is blurry but still cute of the girls dipping!

Katy Jo and Owen had some good bonding time. KJ is standing at the play table and showing him who’s boss! The boys love having KJ around. She is so happy and sweet-natured. Jackson often talks in a high “baby” voice with Katy Jo which is cute to watch.

On the second day we hit up the Salvation Army store and in the afternoon we drove around Thun and towards Interlaken. The weather was so gloomy! Bonnie has to come back to be able to see those mountains in their full glory!

On Friday morning before the girls had to head back to Germany we went into old town Bern. They got to see the bear pits and we stopped in a cafe for some hot chocolate. We are still trying to forget about me getting yelled at by a Swiss man for the way I parked (which happened to be within the lines and fine by US standards). But it is only right for Bonnie to see the whole picture of my daily life here 🙂

The trip was all too short but so fun! Come again soon Bonnie!

 

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Sad but true

I have pictures to share from our fun visit with Bonnie but have to add this post quickly while I have time.

It seems like we have people looking through our blog for pictures of our boys, particularly the one of the boys in tights that we posted a couple months back. We have since removed the post. It is so disturbing to me that our world has gotten so sick. So sick that people are so desperately looking for any image of kids that might give them a high. Our blog is a family blog, for our family and friends that live far away and don’t get to see our boys on a regular basis. I am aware that the blog world is public and that I have an option to make this password protected, but that just seems so ridiculous to me. Part of why I blog is to get out of the private life mentality and to be real about our daily lives.

So, if you are one of the sick people who happened upon our blog for the wrong reasons and happen to be reading this, please stop stalking our blog. Get help for yourself.  I promise you that your secret computer life will not bring you satisfaction or contentment.

 

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Fasnacht

Last week was the annual Fasnacht festival here in Bern. Lots of confetti and costumes and marching bands! You can google it to hear about the history. For us it meant heading downtown Friday afternoon for the kinder parade. We went with some of our new Swiss friends from Jackson’s school. That was fun to hear about how they went as children. The kids had so much fun seeing all of the other kids dressed up. We marched with the bands through the old cobblestone streets and ended at an area near the cathedral where they had games set up for the kids.

Here are a few photos. We avoided the “grown-up fasnacht” knowing that it would likely be scary for our kiddos. The kinder parade was just enough for us! The boys came home EXHAUSTED! They both crashed early that night after skipped naps and so much excitement.

my super hero….the theme was Zoo animals but he wanted to be a super hero

and our little dino just could not make sense of being taken out of his bed early to get a costume on!

Jackson and Ella..she is Swiss but her family lived in Houston. Such a sweet family.

superhero reunion

only in Switzerland…(this may be the name of an upcoming blog series. I am working through some culture shock before I launch it. I don’t want to get myself sent out of the country! 🙂

we saw at least 50 Pippy long stockings during the afternoon….brings back so many fun slumber party memories. I had no idea the Swiss loved her so much!

not a great picture but the only one of the 3 of us! Should have gotten one pre-parade. My super hero and dinosaur were fading!

We got our fill of confetti until next yr!!

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A new week

Spring is still taunting us in this neck of the woods and we are taking advantage. Saturday I hiked up the Gurten with 2 girls from church and the boys met us at the top to play at the park. Yesterday we met friends at the Rosengarten overlooking Bern for a picnic. We have had lots of outside time! In a few minutes when Owen gets up we are heading out again. Going to enjoy it until my allergy-fogged contacts start screaming!!

Bonnie, Leigh and Katie Jo arrive on Wednesday morning and I can’t wait! I last saw Bonnie in July of last year. Too long! We are going to make a big pot of Swiss fondue for Bonnie and I may just have to make a trip to the chocolate factory so she can get a good taste of Swiss chocolate and get a good view of the mountains.

Not sure what we will do next year when all of our near and dears have already visited us here. I have SO enjoyed having so many guests and it has made this house feel more like home.  We may have to build a budget line in so I can hop “home” now and again. I am still holding out hope to go to my cousins wedding in July but with tickets a whopping $1700 a piece my hope is dwindling.

I need to post on the fastnacht parade from Friday but the camera and the computer seem to be in opposite ends of the house so that will have to wait! We had big fun and were completely wiped out! Stay tuned!

 

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