Monday, October 18, 2010

Defeat of Jesse James

About this time every year, there is this big celebration in a little town not too far from us and the kids get all dressed up to fit in with the festivities. (Crock shoes are optional)

Most small towns have things to celebrate and call it something like "Apple Festival" or "Swiss Heritage Days".

What does Northfield, Minnesota celebrate? They are still high five-ing each other 134 years after they killed two members of the Jesse James gang while they tried robbing the bank and what would be the demise of the Jesse James gang.

Each year they have a re-enactment where these bad looking dudes (who are just unshaven college students) ride into town on horses and rob the bank with six-shooters. Then the townspeople come out and shoot back and kill a couple of them and the bad guys ride off.

Makes a nice story and, more importantly, gives the town a reason to have three days of parties, bike marathons and parades. I confess, who really wants to attend Hog Days or The Great Potato Festival when you can go see two gang members get shot while eating a funnel cake?

The only downside is you have to feel a tad guilty for celebrating the death of two fellas who not only had to die on that fateful day in 1876, but who have their deaths celebrated each year over and over by throngs of people who won't let it go and are still giddy they are molding in some grave.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sexy Trail Riding

Is feeling sexy when seeing your your wife wipe out on a motocross trail wrong? This one especially got me distracted. She buried the back tire in sand going up a steep hill. Hubba, hubba.

Thanks John and Traci for the amazing day out!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Maximus Von, the Cancer Fighting Gladiator

This is what a tenacious, cancer-fighting 5-year old looks like as he's in the process of kicking cancer's butt. Don't let the stocking cap fool you. It's a trick to lure all the cancer cells out of hiding.

One more year and five spinal taps to go and we're celebrating big in Africa with Von and the whole family.

A big thumbs down to Leukemia tonight!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Getting the Stink Eye from the Mail Lady

I have often wondered why the mail lady treats me so strange and will never warm up to me. I've tried so hard to win her over, get a smile back from her, or keep her from speeding off as I exit the house to meet her at the mailbox.

Today as I was cleaning my desk, I realized why.

I make books for a living. Good, clean books sharing great truth through powerful storytelling. I subscribe to a trade magazine that arrives each month and helps me stay current on fiction.

While processing my unread mail, I picked up this trade magazine and started making observations. I noted that it comes wrapped in a dark blue plastic wrapper and because of that, you can't tell exactly what type of magazine is inside.

Upon closer examination of said wrapper, the only writing on it is my address and a small little label that tells the curious observer something about the hidden contents of the package. The label says it comes from New Jersey from an outfit that calls themselves Romantic Times.

I never thought much of it, but I suppose the mail lady could have the wrong idea about me, the type of magazines I get, and why I try so hard to get her to smile back at me. Seems I have some explaining to do.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Can affirmation help you pass a test?

There are to very different philosophies in raising children when it comes to affirmation. One says to affirm the intrinsic value of a child's worth. The other says to affirm the effort a child puts into things and affirming the outcome.

So if you're in the first camp you say things like, "Johnny, you're so smart." The second camp would say, "Johnny, you're such a hard worker at school."

A recent study showed that a generation of parents in the first camp raised insecure kids who feared to attempt great things as adults because society did not look on them with the same fondness their parents did, nor lavish them with praise.

The same study indicated that parents in the second camp raised kids who were more secure, attempted more things and did better because of their belief that effort was a factor for success over being just plain special.

I'm indifferent and admit to practicing both methods of affirmation often. But when Ellie, my middle daughter, demonstrated early on in the school year that math didn't come easy for her (like dance, music, and social skills did for her), I decided to experiment.

Any time she complained, struggled, cried, or worked on math homework, I affirmed her effort and work and marveled at her tenacity and sticking with it.

This week, after a long year of struggling with it, Ellie aced her times table and did it with seconds to spare. We celebrated with a Hot Lava cake and ice cream. I know it has her name at the top, but secretly, I think I can just make out my name slightly there too.

Grab a spoon, let's celebrate!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Do bunnies go to heaven?

There is this scripture in the bible that says you are supposed to weep with those who are weeping.

I got some good practice at that yesterday when Daisy, our fluffy mommy bunny, died while trying to give birth to her litter.

So we laid her to rest way out back behind the shed.

I've never been to a bunny burial before so I was at a loss for words. But lucky for me, I've seen a few old westerns and just repeated what I remembered. I think I did a good job. I even got a Nacho Libre quote in without anyone knowing it.

All in all, apart from the tears and the Mardi Gras beads draped over the headstone, I think it was pretty normal.

Monday, March 15, 2010

One Wild Ride

Some things are difficult enough to go through that you don't want to talk (or blog) about them as you are going through them. But then you come to the other side, look back and well up with tears of gratitude and then it is safe to talk about.

What's crazy about Leukemia is that of the 15% of patients that don't make it through the treatments, it wasn't the cancer that got them but some other small dumb thing their body had to battle in the process. So parents (especially moms) and doctors have to watch out for are things like colds, pneumonia or infections.

Knowing this, I started praying when the nurse in the cancer ward says, "Wow, that's a record for me. I've never seen a fever that high." That was four weeks ago.

It was a long Monday night that I'll never forget. Von's body was using a 105.4 fever to fight pneumonia. He didn't recognize us, his parents, which gave me the oddest feeling beyond explanation. He lost consciousness and his blood pressure dropped and heart rate tripled. I have never prayed so hard in my life.

After stripping him down to skin and packing his limp little body with ice packs and wet towels, his blood pressure slowly started to come back up as the fever started to come down.

Six days after this difficult night, we celebrated Von's 5th birthday out of the hospital. And the thought hit me that had Monday night been it for him, his birthday would have been a funeral. Interesting that birthdays and funerals are both celebrations of a person's life. I'm so glad we had a birthday.

You can understand, then, the tears that overtook me today as I looked out my window and saw Von riding his little motorcycle, with his little fireman boots, with mom chasing him. And pneumonia far behind us.

We are so grateful to those of you who have held us up in prayer. Thank you from sincere and grateful hearts!

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Dance with Johnny Cash and memories of Ellie

Today is Ellie Willaert's one year 'birthday' in heaven. Great for her, but for the rest of us, not so much.

Ever feel frustrated with knowing how to help someone like Ellie's family who is still feeling the loss?

Ellie's mom posted this today and I think she is on to something brilliant.

Me? I'm going to listen to Johnny Cash and dance with my daughters and thank God for Ellie's life.

I'd love to hear how you are going to honor Ellie's memory today.

Many have asked what they can do to help us today. A very tough question and one that I really don't have an answer for. I think for me it would warm my heart to know that you all remember Ellie and what she brought to this world. We love to read of your memories of Ellie, so if you feel inclined, please share with us today. I thought I would list a few things that Ellie loved to do and maybe they will spark your imagination today - Enjoy.

Wear a splash of yellow today if you like or light a candle in Ellie's honor.

Enjoy a brownie or root beer float and love every minute of it with no guilt!

Read a book with your kids or play school and don't forget to let your little one be the teacher!

Dress your daughter's American Girl doll or play baseball with your son.

Go sledding or build a snowman.

Call your grandma or grandpa and laugh with them on the phone.

Color, color, color!

Enjoy a raised glazed donut with one of your uncles.

Dust off that scrapbook and make a page with your kids.

Pull out your Bible and read the story of Noah; one of Ellie's faves.

Put your dancing shoes on and listen to Johnny Cash, Hannah Montana or Nickleback.

Pray for someone.

Got to Hobby Lobby or some other craft store and just have fun looking all all the cool stuff you can make with your hands!

Go ice skating.

Break out the water colors or acrylics and paint, paint, paint!

Grab your camera and take pictures until you run out of memory!

Go and visit one of your aunties and give her a big hug and smile.

Play barbies with your little sister even though you would rather be playing with trains!

Build a fort in the living room, complete with falshlights and tunnels.

Go swimming and have water gun fights.

Make your baby brother and baby cousins giggle and smile.

Plant some flowers, preferrably yellow! wink, wink!

Make a gift for someone and hand deliver it with a big smile.

Get a treat from your local gas station!

Sing, sing, sing!

I could go one and on.....

Whatever you choose to do today, do it with happiness and joy and go all out! These times are hard for many of us; so many are in tough situtations and it can be hard to find the sunshine. Enjoy yourself and your family and while you take in that very special moment, let it burn in your memory and heart so it stays there forever.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Gems in Old Journals

As I often do when celebrating important milestones, I pried open an old and dusty journal to look back. I found an entry from about twelve years ago that captured a nugget that summarized how I felt when I had found the woman of my dreams.

In honor of twelve great years with her, I share the little gem with you today.

Although I Conquer...

Although I conquer all the earth,

yet for me there is only one city.

In that city there is for me only one house;

And in that house, one room only;

And in that room, a bed.

And one woman sleeps there,

The shining joy and jewel of all my kingdom.

--from the Sanskrit (and Jason's Journal)