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Live Richly, Live Free. Embrace All The Blessings From Our Creator and Marvel in His Creation.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Did Somebody Say "Diaper Duty"!?

Here is rare footage of something I found when I returned home from swim training the other day!! Yes, my 18 year old had been elected to do "dirty diaper duty"!

Tomorrow is my big day! My first ever athletic experience - a 1.76 mile open water swim!! I will for sure be blogging all about it.

Soon I will also be posting about my recent visit from my aunt and family. I have lots of fun photos from that too :0)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

An Experience of a Lifetime

Wow what a trip!!! Recently, My daughter "Sock Fashion Expert", "Moon beam" and I took our first trip out to "The Gorge" in Washington. It was such an incredible and unforgettable experience. Here's the nitty gritty :

My daughter, Sock Fashion Expert, had asked to go to a Christian Rock Concert for many months if not years. She had her heart set on it. It was a big disappointment when her birthday came and went with no concert of her interest anywhere near us. This crazy "Electron Dude", had been going out to "Creation" at the Gorge for years. Since he had raved about it to no end, we decided to make the big trip. At first I didn't know if my husband was going to be all about this, but after we had good tires on our truck, he gave us the green light.
We packed and cleaned and cooked like crazy days ahead. My sons insisted that for the money we were spending, they would be happy to put on a concert of their own. They offered to wear dreadlock wigs, play and lip sink to my daughters favorite band, Pillar. Despite their tempting offer, we declined. Our first stop was at Wal mart to stock up our cooler and buy some cool earrings. The earrings happened to be giant hoops which my daughter deemed worthy of wearing to the event. I sported an identical pair which I constantly worried the baby would grap a hold of, though she never did.
We drove for many many hours. We decided that Arbys sale roast beef sandwiches would be our most popular meal of choice. Yes, by the end of our trip, they would even become our favorite breakfast. After Moon beam would take no more hours of driving, we stopped at a park and by a lake and splashed in the water for a while. We also ate some left over - you guessed it - Arbys Roast beef.
When we arrived at George, Washington, we were quite relieved. We were only to discover a horrible fate awaited. There were concert volunteers everywhere directing traffic. They really didn't know much about what they were doing. The first one directed us to a tent city. Then another one got mad and sent us back out on the road. The next workers directed us into a line of 1/2 mile long parked cars. Cars in front and in back blocked us there in the sun for 2+ hours. Another line of cars just like ours waited on the left and on the right. The sun was scorching hot. When I tried to find out what was going on, the workers I asked didn't know much English. Here we were in the middle of an old field with thistles, people sitting in lawn chairs around their cars and "Creation or Bust" slogans on many of the windows. Some teenagers were playing football in the field. Moonbeam started fussing. I began to wonder if we'd made a dreadful mistake. The cars were all shut off and none of them seemed to be going any where.
I finally put on a stiff upper lip and went over to talk to some nearby Canadians. They were quite knowledgeable and gave me the low down on attending Creation Fest. Remember, I am a country girl and the very idea of driving on the Freeway was frightening. Being in a traffic jam of sorts with thousands of cars worth of teenagers in sweltering heat was a wee bit well....stiffeling.
When we finally did move, I was disgusted to find out that at the gate, more workers, who didn't know much were demanding $30/per person "to camp". She even suggested I pay $30 for Moon beam! I started arguing with her, but was fearful of being put into another 2 hour line of parked cars, so I settled on $60. This turned both our stomachs. We just don't throw around money these days. Ironically, we were directed again to the same line of original traffic and were placed in a camping spot in a tent city left of the portable toilets and right of the cities trash dumpsters. I stepped out of the car and thought I might vomit. The heat, the smell, the thistles overpowered my sense of reason after those many hours of driving and waiting. After my wilted daughter set up our pup tent and we'd eaten in silence, we walked around to surmise the area.
Again, workers couldn't answer our questions. We watched people putting up elaborate campsites. Some had cammo blinds around their tents. Others had witty canopies. The air conditioned RVs looked luxurious to us as I walked and walked in the heat packing the baby on my back. When we got to the 3rd area of workers, I was finally able to exchange our paperwork for a bracelet for the next day. We thought about buying a bracelet for that night, but it would have cost us an extra $100 to see 2 bands play. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Finally a ray of light appeared. The lady behind the booth seemed to know stuff. I told her of our experiences and she was kind enough to give us a refund for the campsite. It dawned on me that I had no idea where we were going to stay the night.
We hurried back and threw the tent into a storage box, not bothering to fold it. As we drove away, I felt like our luck was about to change. We found a national park where the Canadian people had told us had a place to swim. It was heavenly. Waves of clear water crashed on the sandy shores. The lake was surrounded by beautiful rugged landscape. After a most refreshing swim, I was in a much better frame of mind. Moon beam splashed happily in the water. A heat rash on her bum disappeared before my very eyes. Sock Fashion Expert was beginning to look hopeful again. Despite the "no vacancy" at the campground, it was getting dark and nothing but a police car was going to drive me out. I drove all over hoping to find some place to park. Finally, I found an empty camp spot over looking the lake. I hate breaking rules, but parking there just seemed to be the best thing to do under the circumstances. After we laid sleeping bags across the seats I noticed a "reserved" sign. Then I started to feel guilty wondering if somebody would show up. I pulled ahead between that spot and the next hoping I didn't wake up with a policeman knocking on my window. Wind started blowing like crazy. I left the windows a bit cracked and it was cool and refreshing. I finally fell asleep. This is the most "living on the edge" I'd done in a long time. It made me think about what it must be like for people who are homeless and live in their cars or on the street.
When we woke up, I jumped in the lake again. It was just too good to pass up and I knew that it would be my last moment of tranquility for a long time. Packed to the hilt, we returned to festival grounds. This time, it seemed much less threatening. After walking through the gates, we made our way to the main stage. I gasped in awe at the scene in front of me. I didn't know what "The Gorge" was. It was actually a spectacular Gorge. This out door auditorium was the most incredible sight I'd ever seen. My pictures of it, don't do it justice. The lake, the rocky canyons, the grassy hill over looking it. Even my words couldn't do justice for the awe I was experiencing. The banner over the stage "A Tribute To Our Creator" gave me goosebumps. We hardly could believe the magnificence of this place. It was like nothing we'd ever experienced. Memories returned to me of my friend telling me that this was some famous musicians favorite place to preform. I could understand why. It was like nothing I could have ever dreamed. My daughter and I wondered together aloud if God had created that spot just for the amphitheatre. Surely the vision to build it was God ordained.
After that, my memory is a blur. We found a lovely grassy spot with fence on two sides and a ridge behind us where Moonbeam could play. It was safe and we could enjoy the music. We made our way to the front of the mosh pit for Pillar and yelled and danced despite one teenagers disapproval for bringing Moonbeam there. Moonbeam actually was sleeping at the time which discredited her criticism. When the baby was awake she was all smiles and bobbed her head up and down with the music most of the time. She loved being in the pack. She loved crawling in the grass. She loved the flashing lights. She was actually much happier than I thought she'd be. I diligently sprayed her down with the watering fan about every 10 or 15 minutes. I offered her snacks and drinks about that often too. Ok, so I looked a little funny dancing with a baby in a pack. Ok, so the bar from the back of my pack flung many a teen back into the crowd as I danced, but hey, it gave us a little space. After being thrown back by a lady dancing with a metal bar on her pack, they got wise and gave us room. I was pretty sure we were standing out in the crowd and amused many an onlooker. I didn't care. This was my daughters dream and I was going to make sure it happened. I wasn't sending a 13 year old home schooled kid into the middle of a mosh pit for the first time without back up. By the end of Pillar's performance, she was front row with a huge grin. She even deemed her mom to be "cool".
She acquired several t-shirts. She got Pillar's autographs. She was there from 9am to 11:30 pm with a permanent grin. We enjoyed many talented bands. We were touched by several speakers messages. When it was time to leave, we dragged our feet. I kept wanting one last glimpse of that incredible amphitheatre. The place just inspired me to no end. We decided that it was all worth the money and time and heat and initial frustrations. We also want to do the whole thing next time, Lord willing, and take more kids with us. I'd rather stay at that National Park, but for what we experienced, even the tent city would have been tolerable.
I know I wrote a lot, but it was such an incredible experience. I would highly recommend it to anybody who loves music and God (or even if you don't). Its unforgettable.

Raising My Kids To ROCK!!

Here's some photos of me and my daughters at "Creation", a Christian Rock/Music Festival at "The Gorge", one of the most incredible places I have ever experienced!! Included in the photos are :

night time at the festival

a nice safe grassy spot for Moonbeam and us gals to hang out

people at "The Gorge"

my daughters favorite band Pillar - Guitar Player in action

the beginning of my 2+ hour wait in 100 degree weather with my daugther in the "mosh pit" to wait and get in the front row for my daughters beloved Pillar band.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

creepy crawly conspiracy and the miracle pack

Bugs are out to get me. I just know it!

If I wasn't in my right mind I would say that they are conspiring together! Not only did I suffer a terrible tale of woe from my last blog entry, where I accidentally inserted a big fat white squiggling worm into my mouth, but now the plot thickens......
I have been a swimming maniac. I am closing in on my big swim (only 10 days away) and so I have been out in the water a lot. For the past 4 days I have come home with none other than "Swimmers Itch" which turns out to be bugs!! Yes, after it nailed me twice I knew it was no coincidence. I asked the Dr. I was working with what it could be. He looked it up on line for me. Turns out, if you don't dry off right away the bugs burrow into your skin to try and reproduce. They don't (thank heavens), but despite their demise, they cause a red, rashy spot. Four times now, I've looked down and found patches of my skin bleeding for no apparent reason. Then there is a raised area and rash. Finally it dries out and slowly heals. I now have 4 patches of swimmers itch at varying stages. I also have several other assorted bug bites from hiking through the woods to and from the lake every day. The appearance of it all almost seems comical. To add insult to injury, I was baking up a storm for our upcoming departure and burned my self on the arm.
Now that I have fully briefed you on the secret plot of insects to bug me, I will tell you a very happy praise report. About a month ago, we made our first trip to Wal mart in 2-3 months. It was certainly a record for our family! I had a list of things I wanted with a frugal look in my eye. I could hardly believe my fortune when I found a very cute back pack for $15. My friend and co-worker, "Nurse Happy Sunny Day" has one just like it. Oh I was so excited. All the way home I kept thinking about how nice it would be to hike with. After unloading the Suburban, putting away groceries and cooking dinner, I decided to slip away to the lake. Low and behold and boo and hoo, the back pack had not made it home. I was pretty deflated after I called Wal mart and nobody had turned it in. I decided to pray and put the matter in Gods hands. Yes, I know its a silly thing to get disappointed over a $15 back pack, but I was sure tempted. Any way, each time I thought about it, I just put it back in Gods hands. Doubt shouted rudely in my ear "Like God is really going to get you a back pack". I did the "tra la la la la I can't hear you" thing. Then, a week or so ago, I worked with "Nurse Happy Sunny Day". This bubbling Buddhist chick is just so neat. She runs marathons and races and such. Currently she's working on a triathelon. I told her the story of my copy cat back back. Hers sat in the report room. I could almost hear it saying "yeah you could have had one like me, too bad!" Then it gave me the raspberries. I'm not sure why inanimate objects like to talk with me, but I try not to encourage it.
Anyway, the other day "Nurse Happy Sunny Day" came up to swim with me. I made a big lunch with home made marinara and linguine, garlic cheese toast, salad, and my daughters famous chocolate chip cookies. It was so much fun to have her. Anyway, I was stunned and shocked to have her walk in the door with a brand new miracle pack. Just the same as the one I'd lost. I feel such awe I almost get goose bumps when I wear it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wednesday Weigh In (2 days 2 early)

As promised, here is my over due Wednesday Weigh In Photo. I am planning to take my daughter to a Christian Rock Festival far away and so I will not be around on Wednesday to put up this post. I also have a horrible terrible (almost too awful) real life tale to tell that is still turning my stomach as I type. Keep in mind that I am an emergency room nurse and so if its turning my stomach, its got to be ABOMINABLE!!

So today was like any other. I exercised like a good girl (and swam the lake perimeter), but ate too much at the church pot luck. I have not been a good girl about writing down what I consume (or even being very prayerful). As a result, I have a big fat ZERO for pounds lost this week. This mindless eating is what got me into the horrible terrible predicament.......I almost can't type it... oh ug!

So as I got to work tonight, and sat down in the report room, I noticed a bag of cherries. Immediately, before report even started, Miss Belly Fat notified me that the cherries were sitting to the right of me and that I had better pop one into my mouth. Such as is the custom of food sitting on the report room table. Well, mindlessly, I obeyed Miss Belly Fat (something I do all to often). After I popped the cherry into my mouth, I noticed something white in the bag moving. As I looked down, to my horror I saw a white worm squiggling around. Quickly I spit out the cherry. A few seconds later, I felt something in my mouth. Gingerly, I reached into my mouth to find....... another squiggly white worm!! Oh the horror!! I am still gagging (and it's been 7 hours now). This was a good illustration to me that I should not be mindlessly popping food into my mouth.

The good thing that I did accomplish this week is swimming 1.86 miles (for the first time ever) and I did it in 2 hours. This was really exciting for me because the swim that I am doing is 1.76 with a 2 1/2 hour time limit. Hooray! Now I know I can do it :-)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Grand River Adventure

Here's some more photos of our river trip today. They include canoe fun, fishing, a beaver house, waiting for the truck and Archer picking us up.

Family Canoe and Hero of the Shoe

I was just a little bit hilariously happy when I saw my husband looking over a map when I dragged myself out of bed this morning. I just had that feeling that today might be the day! For quite some time, we had been discussing a family trip on the river. After a big breakfast and hurriedly throwing some snacks into zip lock bags, we embarked on the grand adventure.
We started by driving our canoe, kayak and a neighbors borrowed canoe to a place up river. After dawning life jackets on Moonbeam and Cat man, we braved some initial fast waters. We didn't get far before the fast water flipped Sock Fashion Expert. Gallantly, The Archer jumped in with no thought for his own dry clothes and rescued her speeding shoe. Then he helped her drain out the water and get back a float. The only casualty of the occurrence was her bag of almonds. As we continued on, every so often, we would see an almond floating down river as reminder of the event.
We stopped for Moonbeam to play on a sandbar while the boys fished. The boys found a decaying beaver and cut off its skull - yuck! Giant fish swam around below. Just as we embarked again we saw 2 moose lazily enjoying the refreshing water.
We stopped in the shade of a private bridge. Then we arrived at a spot not far from home just as the wind picked up and the river slowed down. We waited in the grass while The Archer went to get our truck. It was a wonderful day!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Working Mom Blues and The Case of the Guilty Giant Cheesy Puff Ball Astroids from Outer Space

Despite my being in the middle of working 2 - 12 hour night shifts, I had errands to run in another city. OK, I'll confess it, I had to re certify my baby for WIC. Now that you know, I am "one of those" women........., I will spin for you the tale of the Guilty Giant Cheesy Puff Ball Astroids from Outer Space.

I've almost got it all figured out when it comes to being thrifty. My husband drops me off at "Porgies" the local consignment center. There I find out what my credit from selling clothes is and I shop for what the family might be in need of. After Porgies, I walk myself, my baby and my 6 year old over to McDonald's where I discovered that they both can get a free "kiddie cone". I really don't need a whole "super sized" ice cream cone and sharing Moonbeams cone with her is enough for a sweet snack. So consignment store shopping becomes free and so does an ice cream cone at McDonald's. Just call me white trash. Yes, I am learning, though at the speed of a herd of turtles.
After I successfully completed todays clothing and snack mission, I moved on to the grocery store. Since the budget was zero today, I diligently calculated my purchases. Sale fruit, sale bread, etc.. Cashing in WIC vouchers is usually quite traumatic for me. No matter how many times I read the print, I inevitably get it wrong. Me and probably 90% of the other mothers who participate in the program. I am always feeling a little self conscious walking down the grocery store aisles with my green packet. I am just bound to run into some medical person I know, so I am trying to stealthily peek into my purse at the list. People most likely wonder what it is that I am so fixated on in there.
Then to complicate matters further, Cat man wonders why "chocolate happy bombs" aren't on the allowed WIC cereal choices. Then the guilt sets in. I didn't buy him french fries at McDonald's. I'm not going to be home to cook him a big dinner. What kind of a mother am I anyway? I'm gone this week for 2 whole nights. As if on cue, the little child inside of my brain rehearses to me that I am a lousy mother and that my children will most likely suffer permanent emotional scarring due to my picking up this extra shift. No french fries, no $4 a box chocolate happy bombs. OK, so I will make it up with some other kind of snack. I suppose every working woman feels some kind of guilt for her absence from her children. Well I do anyway. I'm only gone once a week (twice at the most), but the guilt is always there. In an attempt to appease my guilt, I let Cat man pick out some of the sale chips which happened to be giant cheesy puff balls. They looked quite exciting to him and it seemed to appease my guilt at the moment, just a tad.
Despite my whole hearted efforts to get the WIC right, once I was up in front with a line behind me, they had to send me back to exchange my milk. This was nothing compared to the time that the lady got confused and began arguing with me over beans and other oddities. She had accidentally rang up some of the vouchers forgetting to add everything in. By the time she got to the end, there was still a little pile of grocries so she tried to make me buy what was left over. Since I didn't particularly want to buy the beans, she gave me a dollar out of her pocket telling me "its easier that way". By then a line was forming and I was mortified for the people watching. She hadn't found a price on something I was buying either and so she had also sent a bag boy to go check. Since she wanted to get rid of me after that she told me that he probably couldn't find a price and that I would have to go without the item. Do you ever notice that you are treated differently when you are perceived to be in the "low income low intelligence" class?
Any way, today I had to exchange all of my milk. Cat man walked out of the store with cheesy puff balls the size of asteroids which consequently were so big that they could not fit into his mouth. Once in the car, he opened the atomic snack only to rip the bag from top to bottom hurling the guilty giant cheesy puff balls all over himself and his baby sister. I tried balancing what was left on pieces of the bag, but wound up dropping more on the babies head. By this time, we were driving along on our way to another city to drop me off at work. Orange residue covered all three of us and it dawned on me that buying this snack for him had not done him any favors. On a very small scale it was like the work-a-holic parents who buys their kid a new fast sports car. The snack had made a disaster. I asked him later "did you enjoy your snack?" Brows furrowed, he said "not as much as I thought I would". He would have been just as happy with something healthy and less guilt pacifying on my part.
After nursing the baby one last time and attempting to wipe more cheesy powder residue off myself, I kissed the kids good bye and strolled across the hospital walkway. There's just something amusing to me about living like this. One hour I am deemed competent to manage a busy hospital floor or emergency room. The next, I can't manage to correctly interpret my WIC vouchers. Its a wonderful life.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wednesday Weigh In (not a min too soon)

Wednesday Weigh In

i'm not quite remembering everything i was supposed to put down for this post, but i will try and wing it.........

pounds lost : 5.8 since july 1st

photo : uhhh... well i'm at work so that is my excuse, but i will come up with one in the near future

motivation : my open water swim is a mere 2 weeks away! some people are saying they might come and cheer me on (the image of myself far behind the other swimmers hauntingly goads me on). oh the humiliation!

successes : i've been doing some kind of daily exercise. i've been eating less sugar. i've been better about controlling the midnight munchies. i dueled with Miss Belly Fat today over bringing mac cheese to work and much to her displeasure a salad and soup accompanied me.

Working Mom Blues and the Case of the Womanly Swamp Creature

One never knows when one will run into a creepy male homo sapien. They, (the creepy variety of the male species) could be lurking anywhere. They could be at the gas station. They could be at the dump. They could be prowling by public toilets. And yes, they could even be in the form of kindly old fisher mans. One can never be too sure...... Of course, with an imaginative mind such as my own, creepy men could be hiding behind any bush or rock. Because of this hazard, my husband always makes sure that I am armed with my .38 before I embark on a running, swimming or hiking adventure. When I notice that there are people at my lake, I tend to find an alternative place to get into the water. Off trailing it can be quite an adventure in itself, but, on the other hand, so can (and has been) running into strange men alone on a hiking trail to the lake.
I imagine that it must be quite a sight for an unsuspecting old fisherman. He is peacefully enjoying his day minding his own business. He is thinking about catching a whopper and sporting a smile because no one is there to nag at him to take out the trash. He's happy and in his own world. He thinks he's alone in the wilderness at a remote mountain lake. Suddenly he hears splashing and sees something moving through the waters. He cranes his neck to see what kind of animal he is about to catch a glimpse of. Could it be a moose? Possibly a bear? By gosh, no! Its some lady swimming the entire perimeter of the lake. Nobody knows where she came from and he is beginning to suspect that he has been in the sun far too long. He looks over at his pile of empty beer cans and shakes his head. Maybe he can't hold his liquor like he once could.
The lady is swimming like crazy. She saw a leech and so she is trying to out swim it. She notices a man is staring at her from across the lake. She suspects he could be one of those varieties of creepy males. She's on her guard and taking no chances. As quick as she appeared out of no where, she jumps out of the lake and darts back into the woods leaving the old man in a confused daze. This seems to be the pattern that I have fallen into. Somebody even recently told me that they have been discussing this mystery woman at the local bar. Some say its a mirage. Some think possibly a swamp creature. Still others have heard its a mid-aged woman with 5 kids who is training for a swim. Whatever the rumor, people can't help but to stare with a dumbfounded expression once they have concluded that it is a woman and not a moose.
Today for example, I wasn't going to go for a swim. I knew I had to work in a few hours and I had slept in. After that, I took a ride with my husband to the fire department where he proudly picked up an engine that he had planned to do some maintenance work on. Our six year old grinned from ear to ear as he watched his dad call on the radio to announce that the truck would be out of service for some routine maintenance. He could hardly believe his good fortune to be riding in the Community fire truck. I figured that after all that fun, I would put Moonbeam down for a nap and go for a quick run. The boys were off fishing the river and my daughter engrossed in a novel. Of course, as the afternoon wore on and the sun came out, the lake called my name. I had scarcely jogged down the driveway when I knew I would just have to detour my way over to a quick swim.
As I approached the trail head I noticed a man with binoculars looking my direction. The "creepy male" light went off and I decided it was an "off trailing it" day. I'm sure he was just looking at wild life, but its best to avoid wild animals and wild looking men in the wilderness. One never knows when a primitive cave man instinct could emerge. I jogged up the back side of the lake and part walked part fell down the steep grassy slope not giving any thought to how I was going to climb out. Carefully, I hid my .38 and then took off my shoes and socks. As I dove into the water, it dawned on me that I was seeing all too well for having forgot my prescription goggles. After returning my glasses to the bank, I basked in the heavenly water. It was just perfect and I couldn't see anything anyway so I didn't have to worry about out swimming leeches. As I swam, I could see some fisherman camped at the beach area. In tradition as usual, they were staring in a perplexed manner. It reminded me of the other day when I left my towel and shoes just off the main area. I was mortified to find that two fisherman had taken up residence directly in front of it. I was quite annoyed until I later found out that they were friends of part of the group of women who had come to meet me there! I laughed at myself. I remembered trying to maneuver our truck down off the hill the other day and putting a big long scratch on it. As I swam, the stress of it rippled away behind me. I was glad my husband had been patient with me about it. I remembered the hike I took with my friends Elasta Woman and Mist. I had accidentally attached my belly band upside down and didn't discover it until we were miles out into the forest. Luckily for me, the Velcro kept my .38 intact and I didn't have to go looking for it. I swore them to secrecy. Other blond moments of the week washed away in the beautiful waters and by the time I climbed through the weedy swampy back side of the lake, I was ready to go home, nurse my baby and head to work for my night shift.
A neighbor lady and some small children had joined the fisherman and were cheering me on from across the lake. I yelled back some friendly words. "Wow" I thought to myself. "They are cheering for me!" I guessed I had better try and look a little bit buff as I climb this steep terrain. After ungracefully climbing the hill and tripping up a time or two, I laughed again as I headed home. It would be one thing if some buff young thing was out here doing this, but its not. Its a 36 year old mom of 5 kids complete with her share of flab and a little grey. I guess perhaps that's what makes it all the more entertaining.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Brotherhood

The boys have been enjoying many adventures together. Some days they go out fishing and bring me home a whole passel of fish to fry. Other days they hike high up into the mountains. They see many different wild animals and come home to tell us exciting stories. Its nice that they have so much fun together.

I've been trying diligently to blog lately, but I've mostly been altogether unsuccessful. On hot days, the lake calls my name and I can't focus on anything but getting into the water. At work, there is usually some quiet hours in the still of the night where the world sleeps peacefully and no emergencies emerge. I have, however, had lots of projects during those down times. At home, in the evenings or on rainy days, I've tried several times. Then the baby fusses. My 6 year old finds it a great time to ask for things he knows I'd normally say "no" to. He's learned that my distractions can be his friend. Even my daughter likes to find me and begin conversations. When I'm sitting at the computer, I'm like a sitting duck with a beacon on my head saying "I have time to give you attention" and everyone eventually makes a bee line for me here. Each time, I remind myself that (Lord Willing) I can blog until I'm 90, but my babies will only be here for the first part of my life. There are many long years to blog after child rearing has ended.
This same dilemma extends to my swim training. I start out with the intent of training. Some days Catman tags along (and rightfully so). Of course on those days I end up watching him and working on my tan. I partially solved that "training problem" with hiking to the lake on my own and then having my husband drop the kids off later after giving me an hour or so head start. KUDOS to my wonderful man for his kindness in all that. Still, several times, I've been foiled by wanting to stop and visit with people I see there. The idea of ignoring people I know to train is just unbearable. Relationships are important to me. Somebody is always in need of a friend to spill out the woes of the world upon and quite often that some one is me. This week, one of my children made the comment that I remind them of a "walking self help book". I continue to hope that I will not look foolish at the open water swim and so in good faith I performed some floor exercises as a consolation for the rainy weather today.
Sleep seems to elude me in the same manner. My baby is just getting her two front teeth. One has poked its way through and the other is bulging. Because of this, her desire to nurse is insatiable. Of course once a week or so, my job steels one night. Today as I napped on the couch, one of the children decided (I'm not sure why) to cover my face with a camouflage "Born to Hunt" baseball cap. The baby began pulling my hair. My daughters birthday toy ball maze lit up singing "Polar Bears and Penguins love the ice, Brrr its cold and that's so nice". That song seems to haunt me in my sleep all to often. I bet most of you don't have nightmares about plastic polar bears and penguins singing. Then my husband inquired as to why I was sleeping wakening me from my fitful doze. Another child thought it was the perfect time to ask for candy.
I wonder at times if I ever do get anything accomplished, though some how I must. My life is rich and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
The other day I ran into a woman my age. She's been through a string of unsuccessful relationships. I was never as much fun as she is. I certainly don't have her figure. I'm pretty sure she's much more knowledgeable in the medical world. She has more money. I looked into her eyes and I felt so sorry for her. It wasn't anything she did or didn't say. I just knew that she wasn't happy. I could feel it. All the fun trips and exciting men didn't bring her lasting happiness. Her car, her house, her career left her empty. True contentment comes from God. Its a choice we make, but also a gift He gives.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Story of Generous Georgia

Deep in the heart of the Idaho Pan Handle lies Generous Georgia’s Organic Cherry Orchard. Generous Georgia is no ordinary woman. On the contrary, Generous Georgia has lived her life well despite incredible adversity. When she was a very young woman, she moved to the mountainous back country with her husband to live off the land. They bought 60 acres and lived without electricity and running water. When her husband left her with 3 small boys to raise, she didn’t give up the land. She gritted her teeth and got things done. Through harsh mountain winters, she worked hard to keep her home warm cutting and hauling wood. Rather than choosing Public Assistance, she worked 5 jobs at one time trying to support her children. Despite all this, in her early years on the land, she managed to begin planting an orchard. As the years went by, she put herself through college and became a nurse. She successfully raised her boys. She even became very active in giving to the community through work with the local ambulance service. These are only a few of the things that I know about her. I’m sure there are many more.
When we came upon her property, we were all awed to see what this lone woman had done. Perfectly groomed, manicured trees bowed down heavily with shiny plump cherries, the dirt around them, rich and deep. Every thing about her property spoke volumes about her character. It was well thought out. If something didn’t work the way she wanted it to, she just manufactured what she needed. Her ingenuity astounded me. Even while she was with us, she never quit thinking of ways that would make things easier for the process. We were all continually amazed at how “putting her hand to the plow” had made such an incredible manicured property. She had even run it for the first 20 years generating her own electricity. Her mind never rests, and she is continually dreaming of new ideas to undertake.
We started out with a short orientation of cherry picking. Then we picked for several hours. Some how I managed to get my hair and Moonbeams hair sticky from “sticky traps” that circle the tree trunks. They also dangle in balls off of the trees. By mid-afternoon, it was time to sort and clean the cherries. Georgia also helped us construct a tarp awning over our campsite and we ate a quick lunch.
After that, we soaked the cherries and sorted them. Then we took the cherries to her commercial cherry pitter where they were pitted, weighed and later bagged. She put hers in driers for dehydration. It was a long day, but the kids had a really good time. They filled their little bellies with the sweet, delicious fruit.
When all the work was finished we decided to walk down one of the groomed trails to her private lake. The boys were already there fishing. At first it was great fun to explore her property trails back in those woods. After a while, we began to get a little bit turned around. Fearlessly, I charged on thinking the trails could only go so far. We even tried taking a short cut down a steep hill only to climb back up it again. By this time the children were all dropping like flies and had to be carried. Cat man was the "last man standing". I asked him to carry me, but he politely refused. Eventually, we back tracked all the way back and found that if we had only gone a little further we would have been a short distance away from where we’d begun. Exhausted and full of sticky goo, I collapsed into the back of my Suburban. The boys showed up with a whole mess of fish to cook. That night, the children roasted marshmallows over a camp fire. Georgia graciously loaned me a hot shower. I almost felt guilty for the luxury, but decided I was enjoying it too much to feel guilty. Then we all slept like logs.
In the morning we picked some fresh cherries to take home, some strawberries, and garbage bags full of rhubarb. It was an incredible experience that none of us would soon forget.


Generous Georgia's Cherry Orchard

Not all that long ago, I got the idea of trading labor for harvesting cherries. Of course its not a new concept. Its been going on for centuries. It was just a new concept for me. I shared the idea with one of my co-workers at the hospital who happened to own an orchard. She was all for it. Here's some photos of us all harvesting and processing.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

today, tomorrow and yesterday (not necessarily in that order)

Lately I have really been enjoying my life. Oh sure there are little dramas here and there, but as a whole, I have made the decision to enjoy my life. Since then, I've been doing just that. Why get all bummed out about silly menial things when the really important stuff is all here. My kids are happy, healthy and whole. My husband is such a good man. I enjoy having friends and I am loving the summer. I'm thankful I have a job I can do once a week or so that helps out, is fulfilling, and doesn't consume my life. Its not like I think I have it all together. Its not that my world doesn't have its share of challenges. I have just decided that I am going to enjoy what days God has given me and live them to the fullest. I hope that you are doing the same. Anything else would be a horrible waste of such a precious gift that He has given.
That said, I will tell you tell you the tales of yesterday and tomorrow. I will start with the future : Soon I will be hiring myself, my friends and my children out as "slave laborers" in a fruit orchard. A co-worker at the hospital could use some help harvesting her cherries and we are working to trade for a winter supply. We will soon be caravaning down there together with high spirits, a whole pack of kids and hopeful bellies.
Tomorrow is my babies 1st birthday - waahhh! (Enough said)
Today we had our women's fitness/bible study type group. We were supposed to meet at the lake and it was raining. I figured we could just have it at my house, but the phones were down. I was almost beside myself trying to figure out how to coordinate changing the location. After some vehicular acrobatics, everyone piled into the back of my truck and we made the trek up to my house for hot coffee, prayer and fajitas.
Yesterday was our church service outdoors at the new church property. It was sweltering hot and after the service the plan was to cook hot dogs over an open fire. The heat was so overwhelming that I thought I might begin to pop and sizzle like my hot dog and so I cunningly propped my hot dog stick up with rocks over the coals. I was feeling quite smug until a in descriptive boy came by and knocked it into the dirt. Even after wiping it off, it just didn't seem that appetizing. Pork germs began to haunt my mind and I became sure that everyone was probably watching me to see what I would do. "Will she waste the dog?" I could just tell everybody was watching. On one side of my brain uncooked pork germs and dirt laughed fiendishly. On the other people were pointing and whispering "wastrel". Finally in my desperation, I finished cooking it and cut in half to share with my unsuspecting husband. Then I remembered a story about some missionaries who were given the head of a swine as an esteem of honor. After the long hot day had progressed, it occurred to them that they were supposed to eat the pork's brain!!!! After they could no longer put it off, they all gathered together and ate it by faith, not wanting to offend the tribe. They managed to survive the ordeal with a story to tell. And so, in good faith of the missionaries who have gone before me, by faith, I ate my hot dog. Otherwise it was a fun day. The kids sang "Our Country Tis of Thee" (despite their threats of mutiny) for the special music. We played volley ball, visited and later a bunch of us jumped into the lake.
The day before that I took the kids to see the fire works. I was quite stretched because I had planned to take them to the city. As I was driving there, I saw a bunch of church people by the local bar. They told me that the bar was lighting off fire works for the community. I'm not sure why, but I always panic when I go into social gatherings like that. By faith we pulled over and walked down onto the lawn where I'd never been before. Normal people were there. Lots of my friends were there too. A band played in the background. The bar owner called out a friendly welcome to me. I'm not exactly sure what I was afraid of, but whatever it was, It didn't show up. There weren't any wild drunken carousers. We set up folding chairs and the kids played in the grass. It occurred to me that I quite possibly ride the fence of being a little bit self righteous. Though in my imagination, "Lord of the Rings" type beasts haunted the property, in reality there were many friendly people there. Though I don't advise to anyone that we should frequent drinking establishments, I also see that I have avoided them possibly a little too excessively. How do we be a light if we hide from the very people that need to see? The story about Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners came to my mind and I was humbled. God help us who call ourselves "Christians" but only "shine" where its comfortable.

Matthew 9:10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

12On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

The Day I Didn't Train

Here's a fun day at the lake. I didn't get to swim much. I just played with my kids on the beach and in the flowers. I had a great time with them. I had to work that night, so it was fun to do something special with them before I left.