Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weekend Adventure

So, on Saturday, Jim wanted all of us to go with him to this Single Parent Scholarship Awards thingy in the town where we are moving. He was presenting a scholarship from the company he works for to a very deserving single parent. 


Clark was already going with a very reluctant spirit...I didn't blame him, but we all 4 went to support Jim. He had told us it would be a "short program," and bribed us with  offered to buy us dinner at a favorite restaurant. We'd been in town since early afternoon, driving around looking at different neighborhoods, trying to get our bearings. By the time we got to dinner, we were all totally overwhelmed, and after we ate, we headed to Jim's thingy. 

Once we got there and Jim saw the program, he said it would probably take TWO HOURS. Annnnd his part was at the end, the very. last. thing. A groan came out of Clark that I'm pretty sure was heard 'round the world. And then the program started. It was all kinds of musical acts and things...with drawing for door prizes in between. The only thing that could've possibly made the night better was if I had put Clark's name into the drawing...and he would've won some fragrant body oil or foot massage cream from a local boutique! 

Anyway, the first act was a soloist and she wasn't bad. Then, there was a group of orchestra-type singers who sang OLDIES like "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy" and songs like that. A folk band also performed, and it was painful, unless you like that type of music (and plenty of people did, if nodding your head to the beat means you like it)...but their last song was "Puff the Magic Dragon," which they made us all sing IN UNISON before they left the stage. Clark was about to die. (I think the band had been puffing the magic dragon, if you get my drift!) Is that song about a boy and his dragon, or is it about DRUGS? I don't know!! 

There was a guy who READ POETRY THAT HE HAD WRITTEN. The first one was called "Chocolate" and he....oh, well...that story is too long to tell. He also wrote one for a war veteran he'd met somewhere, and another one we didn't really understand. Clark leaned over and said, "shoot me now." I mean, everyone thinks their own poetry is good...and it means a lot. TO.THEM. But if I had shot him, he would've missed the next act...the STEPPERS, and Oh MY Goodness, it was entertaining! One of the last acts was a small church "choir," and I use the term "choir" loosely. The median age of the group was 90. There were about 8 people. Two ladies had to be physically helped up onto the stage...not that there's anything wrong with that. It just added to the whole presentation...they were all quite old, and it took them a long time to get from the stairs...to the center of the stage. But they did it! They basically YELLED out the song, "how great is our God?" and swayed back and forth. Think Carol Burnett as "Mrs. Wiggins." That's what it reminded me of, except this was REAL. Now, I'm not making fun of old people, or people who need help, or choirs, or singing, or yelling, or...yep...think that's about it.  They were precious to watch. They sang the chorus about 10 times, and when they were done and we were all clapping, the oldest lady on stage PUT HER TEETH BACK IN. :)

We had a great time, really, we did. Everyone was SO nice. We met the registrar at Clark's new school, who just so "happened" to be one of the people in charge of the shin-dig. THANK YOU, LORD, for showing us You're in all the details, and that You are preparing our way. The registrar is sending us some information and packets to be filled out, and it's great to know that we we go up to the school...she will be there and will remember us. 

We laughed a lot all night, and even tho it wasn't something we would voluntarily go to...it was a lot of fun. I love that my family supports each other. We can have a good time wherever we go. 

(and I'm pretty sure I will bust out some of those 'stepper moves' at our next family get-together!)

("There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven...a time to weep, and a time to laugh..." Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4a)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The One Where Joshua Discovers the "Like" Button...

We did a little changing around with the phones at Christmas. I always get the phone that's left-over in the swaps...and I'm okay with it. I've had a little red flip phone for about 4 years and it has worked JUST FINE, thank you, ma'am. All I need to do is to be able to call and text people. And maybe take a picture or two. Oh, and if it could take my grocery list and go to the store for me, then SIGN ME UP for that plan! Ha!

So, Jim was getting a new phone for work. His plan was to give me his old phone. I told him that if he would give it to Clark instead...I would be so happy. I realize no 9th grader needs an iPHONE, even tho most of his friends have one. A new one. The LATEST one.

"Whatever. Who cares?" (Joy Behar)

We gave up trying to keep up with the Jones' a lonnng time ago. Clark never says a word about wanting or needing ANYTHING, so I thought it would be a nice surprise for him.  Logan had asked for a new phone for Christmas, and little else. Now that the kids are older and more tech-savvy, I have to have them write down e-x-a-c-t-l-y what they want for Christmas, because otherwise...I wouldn't have a clue! So the kids each make their Christmas lists. They know they're gonna get about 3 presents from that list. (Jim says if 3 gifts were good enough for Jesus, then it's good enough for our kids...ha!) Anyway, Logan barely had anything on his list. Helloooo? How thankful am I that my kids aren't greedy? VERY. Thankful. And blessed.

Long story longer...Jim got a new phone and gave his old phone to Clark. We got Logan a new phone and he gave his old phone to me. I gave my red flip-phone to the beady-eyed texting King of the family...and he was thrilled to death. Since Clark's new/old phone would be able to serve as an ipod, Jim suggested that Clark give his old i-touch to Joshua...and, again, he was thrilled to death. Jim's idea was that we could down-load music on it that Joshua liked and he could listen to it in his room, in the car on trips and at the gym.


Jim also said...wait, did I mention that this was all his idea? I did? Okay.

Jim also told Joshua that he would be able to access his Facebook in our house...using the free wi-fi. (da-da-daaaaaaaaaahhhhhh). He thought it would give Joshua more independence talking to friends and family, because I had been in charge of monitoring his Facebook use up until that point. Jim told him that he had to be 'appropriate' or his i-touch would be taken away.

Things started off quietly. I didn't help him too much. Truth be told, I didn't want him to know how to do too much...I was afraid of what might happen. With the help of his girlfriend, and his own ingenuity, he learned to maneuver the ins and outs of posting on Facebook. And then we discovered that he had figured out how to send private Facebook messages. None of this should come as a surprise to us, considering this is the child who, several years ago, had a regular ol' phone and NO data plan, no texting plan (we didn't think he would know about all of that)...and I was somewhere and received a MMS text from Joshua. It was a picture of his plate and these words: "I ate a salad."

Houston, we have a genius!

But things rocked on with very little trouble from the things he posted. Oh, there was the occasional funny one like "I did Zumba with my bare feet and Jenni busted a move. She broke it all the way down..." but nothing too bad at this point. We noticed one day that he had changed his profile picture ALL ON HIS OWN. I didn't show him how or anything!

And then there was that day...we had just finished dinner. My phone was on the counter and had been buzzing a lot. When I picked it up to check my messages, I was shocked to see that I had 61 notifications...just in the time it took me to prepare and eat dinner! I barely have 61 friends on Facebook so I thought something was surely wrong! No, it was just Joshua. He'd figured out how to view Facebook pictures from the past...oh...5 YEARS or so, and he liked them.

No, he LIKED them. 61 of them.

So, I wasn't too surprised when I got a text from Holly a bit later that said, "MOM!...what is going on with Joshua?" She had 99 notifications on her Facebook!

Joshua discovered the "like" button!

"A joyful heart is good medicine..." Proverbs 17:22a

Friday, February 17, 2012

Clark and the Track Meet...

A couple of weekends ago, we had the opportunity to go up to Fayetteville for one of Clark's track meets. It was his first meet as a 9th grader...and it was an "invite," so we were all pretty tickled he was asked to go! Added to that was the fact that Logan was home and came with us, and we were going to have the opportunity to see Holly and Aaron, and visit with them a while. My Mommy's heart was about to burst! SO FUN! Altho Joshua and I have been up to see Holly several times since their wedding, Jim, Logan and Clark hadn't been there in a while.

We left early...before 7 a.m., and drove straight to the Randal Tyson Track Center. It was AWESOME! It's the #1 indoor track facility in the nation...and it should be. The HOGS are #1 in the nation in track. WPS! Anyway, it was very cool to be there. Clark was only running one event, and so he found his team and went to warm-up with them. I walked around, bought an extra shirt for Tori, and went to join my family in the bleachers. Holly and Aaron came and we sat in the bleachers and talked with them. I was SO HAPPY to have all my brood together. :) Clark ran his race and did very well. A 7.83 in the 60 meter. He got 5th in his heat. He was kind of disappointed, but I thought he did GREAT! I love to watch him run!

Earlier, as we pulled into the track center, Logan had spied a "wings" place called "FOGHORN'S" and he was all about eating there after the meet. And so we did. They specialized in having about a million choices of sauces you could have on your wings or chicken or burger...but I'm not too adventurous and chose something mild. We were all hungry and the food was good.

After lunch, we went back to Holly and Aaron's apartment. Marley was so excited to see everyone! Holly has their place decorated SO CUTE! We brought them a chest-of-drawers, some bedding and other items...whatever we could fit in the Burb, along with the 5 of us! We had gotten her a Cricut machine for her birthday, so she's been getting her craft ON. I was so excited when she told me she had made something for me! A few days earlier, I had mentioned seeing this Albert Einstein quote on Pinterest. It reads: "everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by it's ability to climb a tree, it will live it's whole life believing that it is stupid." I cannot even tell you how much I love that quote. ANYWAY, she had painted a board...with Aaron's help...and had put that quote on there for me. I am super-excited about it! I probably won't put it up now, but I sure can't wait to display it in our new home.

We got home around 5:30, and Logan and Morgan were packed up and gone by 6:30. They wanted to get back to ASU for church on Sunday. I sure hated to see them go, but how thankful am I that they have found a church that they LOVE, and where they FIT, and where they are INVOLVED?


Holly and Aaron left after church. I hated to see them go as well...but that's the story of my life. I think I'm turning into my Grandma Ellen. She used to cry whenever we left her house and we would all tease her about it.

Helloooo, Karma.

It was understandable for her, tho...we only saw her once a year because we lived all over the nation, and even over-seas at times. My kids live between 2 1/2 and 3 hours away, and while I am very proud of the lives they are creating for themselves, my heart is so sad when they leave.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sweet Sixteen...Clark

Parts of it, I remember like it was yesterday. But most of it, thankfully, I can't even recall. I guess that's the beauty of time. And life (And the after-effects of anesthesia...ha!). 

It was a short pregnancy, but a hard one. We'd wanted one more child, and were thrilled when we found out we were expecting. We had even talked about adoption, something I had had on my heart since my early teens, but Jim didn't have a peace about it and said it would be SO EXPENSIVE (Ha. Fast-forward 2 1/2 years and see God's protection and provision for sure, but also His great sense of humor. Our Million Dollar Baby...Clark Joseph Garland).

From the beginning of my pregnancy, it was obvious that it was going to be difficult.  Seems like from the time this child got in...he was trying to get OUT. This little one of ours...not yet born, but planned for, expected, loved. We might lose him before we even got to know him. My heart was about to break into a million pieces.

It was way too early. The doctors said that when it came to preemies, white, male babies did the worst. Preparing me, I guess...but, hellllooooo? Look at Jim and me...pretty sure we were having a white baby, and the sonogram already said he was a boy. Rats, little guy...you're already starting out with the statistics against you.`13 1/2 weeks too early.

Things happened quickly, and quietly. I remember the faces of the doctors, so serious and concerned. I remember the friends who wished us well and prayed for us. I heard the whispered conversations in the room...

"what if he doesn't make it?"

I heard it and I couldn't believe it. It made me mad, and then something took over. My MOM instincts, and I pushed my fears down and determined to love my child no matter what. No matter how long we had with him. There were other babies in the NICU that day. In the 7-plus weeks our little guy was in there, we saw many go home with their families. They left with lots of fanfare and pictures, and everyone was so happy. Other times, there would be an empty bed and hushed talking, and eyes that revealed that that child did not survive. Why? They were just as loved, just as wanted. I don't have any answers. I just know that God had a plan for this tiny one to live: "before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you." (Jer 1:5). And HE ALONE has a plan for when his days on Earth will end: "in Your book they were written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." (Psalm 139:16-17)

There have been times since then, when issues of health have threatened his life. When he was diagnosed with cancer at age 2, I could barely breathe. For MONTHS. I went straight to my knees, and didn't know if I could get up and face what was to come. I didn't want to. 

Again, he was spared. Why?

This boy of mine, he turns 16 today. He is tall and handsome, like his Dad. He is kind, thoughtful and smart. HE.IS.HEALTHY. Like all of us, he is a work in progress and we expect great things from him. His purpose here on Earth has yet to be fulfilled. Or has it?  He completes our family. He brings us much joy--but even on those frustrating days between teenager and parent...we are thankful. We will never forget what God has done for us.

Happy Birthday, Clark!

"The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with joy." (Ps 126:3)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Preparing our home...and remembering...

I just want to write down and remember a few things...things are moving fast and furious here with the-thing-which-shall-not-be-mentioned (our upcoming move). I decided that I wanted to paint the interior of the house a neutral color, because I heard that might help it sell faster...so I talked to Susan Cason and she gave me some suggestions. I ended up choosing SW Cork Wedge and really like it. I started in Logan's room...and then moved to the game room. That turned out to be a HUGE job. Argh (And that one red wall? It seemed like such a good idea at the time...haha). It took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to paint! I could only do a little at a time...but I FINALLY got it all done. Logan's room, the game room and Holly's old room. All painted Cork Wedge! :) Then, I had to take down the wallpaper in the boys' bathroom. It had started to peel in places...I'm sure those long, hot showers they liked to take didn't help things. When I pulled the wallpaper off, I could see that it had been stuck directly to the sheet-rock. THANK YOU, MR. BUILDER...NOT! Sooo thankful that we had just come from Leanne's house and I was able to see the rental property that Kevin and Robin were working on for Leanne...they gave me a tutorial on "texturing" walls, and so that's what I did in that bathroom. It turned out GREAT! In fact, I got something from Jim that I rarely get...a COMPLIMENT! (this is because my "crafty" experiments usually don't turn out well!) He said, "I wish we'd done this in OUR bathroom because I LOVE IT!" Yay! I painted the texture SW Anonymous...kind of a dark gray. I bought a cheap mirror at Kirkland's ON SALE and am trying to get it all together. It looks really good. Now, I don't want anyone to use this bathroom for...ummm...the next 4 months or so? Too much to ask? I think yes!

I just love this house. I am so thankful for it. I remember when we moved here and the whole "looking-for-a-house" time. It was hard. I think we had looked at about 10 houses, and didn't find anything we liked. Jim and I talked about it and had pretty much agreed that we would just get one of those houses and be okay with it. :(  I had seen this house, but it was a little out of our price range...but suddenly, it was reduced, so I asked to see it. I remember walking in and nearly having to fight back the tears. I knew. For me, a lot about the house is the kitchen, and this kitchen was warm and welcoming...with lots of cabinet space. It had a dining room...I was excited about that! I also knew that we would want to have at least 2 bedrooms on the main level with the master...I didn't think Joshua would want to be upstairs if we were downstairs. This house has 3 bedrooms downstairs. Yay! When we went into the master bathroom, it not only had separate sinks...something we had long decided we wanted...and NEEDED...this bathroom had totally separate vanity areas! On opposite sides of the bathroom! I just knew Jim would LOVE that. When we went upstairs, we saw a full bathroom and a bedroom...and a HUUUUGGGGEE game room. Um....SOLD! Ha! They had a foosball table and a pool table...I knew my boys would be in heaven! And, then...what is that? At the other end of the game room...could it be? YES! It was another room. It could be ANOTHER bedroom! 5 bedrooms...the upstairs 2 were very small...but still. Each child could have their own space. :) I was sold! We decided to put Joshua and Holly in the downstairs rooms, and let Logan and Clark have the upstairs as their "man cave." (we did end up changing things around after Logan went to college...moving Holly's stuff up to Clark's old room, and moving him downstairs with us...letting us close off the upstairs except when Logan or Holly came home). There was a storage room in the garage...I could picture all of Jim's tools and hunting items in there. And it had a long, wide driveway...with kids and cars and friends...I just knew that would be a plus. But then...we went out back. A HUGE deck in the back yard. A covered porch. A hot tub. Then, half of the back yard was lush and green...so pretty. BUT, the other half...was a garden! Flowers, plants, rocks...and a garden-garden. I knew Jim would just DIE. I couldn't wait for him to see it. Our real estate woman was laughing so hard when Jim got there...all the things I said, "oh, Jim would love this..." or "this is perfect for..." Jim would just echo. I guess we DO know each other pretty well, after all!

It was a total God-thing...getting this beautiful, perfect-for-our-family house. I love it and hate to leave it...but what made it a home was all the memories we shared in it.

I'm excited to see what is next for our family.