Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Be Aware!

September has arrived once again.  What I never knew about September until a few years ago is that it is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  I became "aware" of the devastation of childhood cancer  in a horrible way, with the diagnosis of my beautiful little girl.  I pray that those of you reading this do not have such an intimate acquaintance with the world of childhood cancer, (though I know that too many of you do!)but I do hope that all of you have become more aware, that you know a little of the horrors that these kids and their families endure, and that you are moved enough to join the cause to make a difference.  There are so many ways to do SOMETHING and you wouldn't have to look very hard to find a good way to help.  And I am always available to give you suggestions for ways to help! 

We are planning to participate in the CureSearch walk in Minneapolis on September 25, and I would invite you to help out by supporting us in this walk!

The CureSearch Walk celebrates and honors children whose lives have been affected by children’s cancer, while raising funds for the lifesaving research of the Children’s Oncology Group. This group of medical professionals treats more than 90% of children with cancer at over 175 hospitals in the United States. These experts provide world-class care in communities across the country.

Every day, 35 children are diagnosed with pediatric cancer–7 of those children will not survive. Cancer is the #1 cause of death by disease in children.

We would love to have more people join our "Anna's Army" team!  If you are available for a Sunday afternoon walk for a good cause, please sign up!  You can do so here!

If you would like to donate, please follow these links.  Though we are getting a late start, we hope that we can make a difference. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day

Hard to believe my boys are now officially first and third graders! 

They were excited to head off to school, even though it seems as though summer vacation just started. 

For the first time in about nine years the first day of school was also mine to experience.  Yes, my eight year “maternity leave” has come to an end.  I am not back to teaching (yet?) but will be a Kindergarten aide four days a week.  I worry about how I must relearn better time management to keep up with everything at home, (not to mention half-marathon training!) but I really am looking forward to being a regular part of the school.  Sorry, no first day photo of myself to post!

A new school year is exciting, and I know my boys are happy to be back at it.  They are looking forward to their new classrooms and new teachers.

Yes, a new school year is exciting, but it is never as easy as just being excited.  I remember taking this picture a year ago.

As I made the signs for the boys to hold for this year’s photos, I was so wishing I was making one for Anna as well.  She would have been in preschool for another year, and I can just imagine how excited she would have been to go back.  What beautiful outfit would she have demanded requested to wear for her first day of school?  What stories would she have come home with?  What friends would she have played with?

I think it is inevitable that every happy moment, every exciting experience, every new adventure will have that shadow of sadness.  Though a part of me wishes I could ignore the sad part and instead simply and fully enjoy each moment, that just isn’t possible.  And in a way it makes the joy of each moment even more potent.  First days of school and other milestones are not as easy to take for granted anymore, and I tend to appreciate the blessings of today and treasure all that I have even more. 

I pray that all who are sending their children off to school once again will treasure all those special moments, even the difficult homework days and the battles over what to wear or when to go to bed or get up, etc., etc. 

And I pray for all the moms and dads whose hearts ache just a little bit more than usual as they watch all those kids go off to school, wishing their own child was among them. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011


"No Excuses!"  " I MUST run!"  Remember those words?  They were only written a few days ago.  I should have known.....

I think it was last Tuesday that I wrote those words.  On Thursday, only TWO days later, my schedule called for a 5 mile run.  Not that far.  But --of course there's a "but"-- Wednesday ended up being a late night.  I optimistically set my alarm, though it's annoying ringing found me very unprepared to get out of bed.  Running a little later wasn't an option, as I had a previous obligation to be ready for.  I tried to convince myself to ignore the exhaustion - "NO EXCUSES!"  but -- of course, another "but"-- I also had a killer headache.  So, I missed my Thursday run. 

I more or less made up for it, I think.  Friday was supposed to be a rest day, but I ran 6 miles in 60:30 - a VERY good time for me!  Saturday I ran my scheduled 3 miles in record (for me!) time (27:30) and today, Sunday, I ran 5.5 miles, though I was scheduled for 6.  But I had done 6 instead of 5 on Friday, so ended up with more than was scheduled anyway. 

Hopefully those "buts" will not get the best of me as I continue my training!!  ("But" you know school is starting tomorrow.....)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's official - I need to be committed!

It’s official.  And officially frightening!  I received an email that my registration for the Mankato half marathon has been confirmed.  I now have 66 days to convince this body that it can run a long distance. 

I had hoped to run the Mankato Marathon (Half!) last October, but procrastinated in registering.  That actually turned out to be a good thing, because after Anna’s relapse I was committed to a different kind of marathon. 

But now I must follow an official type training schedule.  My previous training was pretty much a “run when I feel for as long as I feel like running” kind of training.  If I was too tired, I’d sleep in and skip my run.  If it was a busy week, I’d take the week off.

But now discipline is the name of the game!  I have my training calendar posted and there can be no excuses!!   Heat, rain, exhaustion – doesn’t matter, I MUST run!  Two and a half weeks into my official training, all is going well.  I’m actually adding ½ to1 mile to most of the scheduled runs, only because I don’t want it to be too much of a shock when I have to do those longer runs I have never done before.

Can’t wait for 67 days from now!!

Thanks to my running sister, Jen, for this shirt!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My Middle Child

I also started this over a month ago, with the intention of posting it on July 6, Isaiah’s birthday!  Better late than never. 

Happy Birthday, dear one!  Today you are six years old – your golden birthday!  My sweet, silly, sensitive, perplexing middle child, who tends to keep people laughing or wondering. 

I have always wondered if your place in the family, the middle child, has caused any problems for you.  You didn’t get to be the “baby” of the family for long, as Anna was born when you were 17 months old.  I often felt guilty for not giving you all the attention I wished I could have.  And then when you were only three years old Anna got sick and I was gone for so much of the next year.  But when you were younger, you had your ways of making sure you got some extra attention.  Unfortunately, it often involved a trip to the Emergency Room!  Ear infections, a mishap with a cart, febrile seizures, falling into a well pit - it seemed like if something could happen it happened to you! 

But somehow you have just always gone with the flow.  Somehow you seem to have grown and developed and learned enough that you amaze people with what you know and do.  You learned to read, basically on your own, while you were still in preschool, and you continue to take it upon yourself to discover as much about the world around you as you possibly can.  Even when you were a baby, you seemed to just look around and watch and try to take in as much as you could.  Your mind always seemed to be working as you tried to figure things out.  You still notice more than most anyone else, and your curiosity and the questions you ask and the things you can figure out just amaze me. 

There is a side of you that is very organized and exact.  You know the way things should be and really want them to be that way!  You are always counting and figuring and lining things up just so.  When you went to basketball camp earlier this summer, as the kids were practicing their dribbling and shooting, you were the one making sure the cones were lined up just right.  You like things to be in order. 

But that doesn’t mean you are all business!  Your goofy side is always making people laugh.  You have a fun sense of humor and just love to be silly!  You have an easy personality, for the most part.  You are sensitive to others, and have little trouble getting along with anyone.  (Except for maybe your big brother!)

You do look up to your big brother, though.  Very often you become interested in whatever he is interested in, and want to play whatever he is playing.  That works pretty well most of the time, but I know you have your own different interests as well, and I hope you feel free to let them be known. 

The death of your sister has had a great effect on you, understandably so.  Although you are always quick to point out the happy side, that Anna is in heaven, you also very often express your sadness that she is not here.  Sometimes you will walk into her room and say, “I love you Anna!”  Or you will look at her picture and say that you really miss her. Very often when you are making a project or drawing anything, even your work at school, you will write Anna’s name, and often a purple butterfly along with it.  It is obvious that she continues to be a part of you, as I believe she always will!  The two of you got along so well.  She looked up to you and was always so happy when the two of you could be playing together.  You were a great big brother to her and gave her many moments of happiness!!

God has blessed you with many gifts and abilities, and I am excited to see how they continue to be put to use as you grow!  I love you more each day, and consider myself very blessed that I get to be you mom!

Happy Birthday!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Firstborn

This is a little late.  Though I started to write this for Luke’s July 2 birthday, July got very busy.  20 days in July we had various overnight guests in our house, which is a great kind of busy, but it meant that some goals did not get met.  So this entry is one month late, but still true! 

Happy Birthday to my firstborn child!  You are still my little baby boy, but somehow we are celebrating your eighth birthday.  How can that be?
Eight years (and one month) ago you came rather unwillingly into this world.  You were past your due date, so labor was induced early in the morning.  Later in the day, no amount of pushing could get you to budge, and so a c-section was performed so that we could finally meet you face to face!  I had loved you so completely for months already, but what an incredible moment to hold you, my first child, and look with wonder and amazement into your beautiful eyes, to hold you close, to nurse you, and to realize that my life would never ever be anything like it was before that moment.  You were born, and I became a mother, a job I am so very blessed to have been given! 

Every day of the eight years of your life, my love for you has grown.  I have not always (or ever!) been the perfect mother, and we have learned much together.  Sometimes I think that you are the victim of the majority of my parenting mistakes, since everything you do is new to us and I learn as I go along.  You get to do it all first!  But I am always reminded of so many reasons to be proud of you, so many ways that you have accomplished so much.

I love the way you so often have a single focus.  You become interested in something, and that’s all that you talk about and spend time learning about, at least until the next “something” comes along.  Very often your focus revolves around a movie, like Shrek, Toy Story, and most recently Cars 2.  Or it might be WebKinz, or Beanie Babies, or Magic Tree House, or Batman– whatever you are currently focused on you share with everyone around you!  You study up on it on the computer, you read all the books about it you can get your hands on, you give quizzes to everyone else about what you learn, and you center your birthday / Christmas list around the latest fad. 

I’m proud of the way you try new things, even when you are not really interested in them.  Sports don’t rank high on your list of interests, but you participate (with encouragement!) in several different sports.  You have learned a lot, and it is fun to see how much you have improved.  God has blessed you with many talents, and I pray that you will use them to serve Him, whatever you are led to do!

You have really started to enjoy writing stories, and they are such fun to read!  Yes, the topic is usually your latest fad, but you have a gift of imagination and have written some very entertaining stories!  It is fun to see your sense of humor come out in your writing.  I would not be surprised if someday your occupation involves writing. 

With you, my firstborn, I notice and marvel most of all at how you grow and change and develop.  Somehow you have become more responsible than you used to be.  Somehow, the way you carry on a conversation suddenly seems so much more grown-up.  Somehow, though I haven’t always noticed the process, things that were once challenging for you now come with ease.  When did it happen that I could no longer carry you easily?  When did it happen that my lap was no longer your preferred place to sit?  I learn to hold onto each hug just a little longer, to treasure each cuddle and kiss as they come, and pray that you will not ever grow out of such special moments!

You have had difficult times that I wish you had not had to endure, and you have had to learn things that I wish young boys never had to know.  I know it has affected you greatly to have to watch as your sister suffered from cancer and cancer treatments, and then died.  You are not one to talk openly or often about this and how you are feeling.  I wonder if you are afraid that sharing your pain and sorrow will cause more pain and sorrow for your dad and me.  I know that you do not like to see us unhappy or crying, so maybe you try to protect us from that by keeping your feelings to yourself.  We will continue to encourage you to talk as much as you need to, and I pray that we will be able to help you process all of this in the best way.  You were such a good brother to Anna, and showered her with love and kindness.  She loved you very much! 

My prayer for you is that the difficulties in life will make you stronger, will bring you closer to God, and will motivate you to make a difference with your own life.  You have many talents, and with God’s help and blessing you will accomplish much! 

My love for you continues to grow, and every day I thank God with all of my heart for blessing me with you, my firstborn. 

Happy Birthday!