Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Of Sunsets and Cameras and Birthday Parties

Marissa celebrated her 9th birthday with two of her good friends out in the tube on Lake Okoboji. The giggle factor was off the charts, the screams in the upper octaves (especially when slung outside the wake by the Captain) and great fun was had by all. As they say at Okoboji "In God We Trust, Everyone Else - Cash." I don't know what that really has to do with anything, but I always laugh when I see it, and you tend to see it a lot when you are up at the lakes.

I think the story somewhat loosely goes - two brothers started a retail store - well maybe it was three, because the name of the store is The Three Sons- in the Iowa Great Lakes area, and someone came up with the idea of a fictional University to sell some college type apparel. No university or college in the area, so they just made one up. Way back in 1878. Maybe. Actually am in BS mode and don't really know what I am talking about, but they have milked that idea for all it is worth. There is an entrance exam, winter games, numerous bike rides, marathons, and various other activities around the area that are all sponsored by the fictional University of Okoboji. Creative marketing I would say. Great logo and slogan too.

So yes, I digress, again. We had a great day. Good weather, not too many boats on the lake, and the girls had a ball. I would post pictures of the lake activities, but I forgot the camera back up and the cabin and remembered it just as I was stepping into the boat. I have been longing for a new camera, but don't think I am responsible enough to have one. I ALWAYS forget the silly thing, just when I want it the most. If we did get a new one, I would have to permanently velcro it to my chest or eyeball, either one. I know I missed tons of great shots out on the boat. Like when the girls would swing to the edge of the wake and their eyes would get all saucer big, or when the Captain's hat took its annual dip in the lake and Marissa had to go retrieve it - again. Or what about that one where we took off without bringing the anchor in? That was a classic. Anyway, here's one of the girls in the van that will have to suffice.

On the drive home I was feeling unworthy of having a brand spanking new camera, until we saw this...

and this...

and this.

I wanted one really bad! By this time I was hanging out the passenger window swallowing a firefly or two, trying to get a good shot while the Captain was yelling photography tips at me. "Aperture? What is Aperture?" GULP. Lake Okoboji is just a bit north and mostly east of here, so on the way home, you drive straight west, Young Man. This is usually annoying and somewhat dangerous since you can't see a blooming thing, but what I wouldn't have given for a decent camera velcroed (velcrowed?) to my eyeball that night. This sunset just would not give up. It kept going and going and going. It was a lovely and perfect ending to a perfect day.

In God I trust, but could I please get a new camera?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happy Birthday To You! (cha cha cha)

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights...(NIV)

Sweet Marissa turned nine today! Where does the time go? Seems like just yesterday I was thinking about having a Y2K baby. We did it the old fashioned way (well, that too I guess) but we did not know whether our first child was going to be a boy or a girl. We sort of had our minds set that she was a boy for some reason. You should have heard the Captain shout IT'S A GIRL! IT'S A GIRL! IT'S A GIRL! She had a mop (still does) of curly strawberry blond hair. Everytime she came back from the nursery, the nurses had it styled a little differently. Sometimes with a bow, but always a curl in the middle of her forehead...

It has become a tradition in our family to have birthday breakfast. Usually buttermilk pancakes are requested and usually these are served in bed. Marissa was up too early today though and decided to eat her pancakes in the recliner while watching cartoons. Momma and the weird Dutch gene succumbed.

Tomorrow we are heading up to Lake Okoboji to go tubing with a couple of her good friends. Definitely the plus side to having a summer birthday. Here's crossing my fingers for a nice hot day out on the boat.

I don't know what I did to deserve her. She so often makes me laugh with a little comment or joke she makes. If my scanner were working I would show you that I don't hardly have a picture of her growing up where she isn't smiling back at me. She adds the cha-cha-cha to our lives in so many ways. We love you Sweetie! Happy 9th!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

And Away We Go

We finally figured it out. I like taking walks in the evening. I have tried to make myself get up in the morning and walk, but seem to be a night owl in all things. The problem was trying to figure out how to take M and M along and still feel like I get a good work out without having to referee or redirect traffic along the way. Seemed easier for me to just wait til the Captain got home and go on my own, but as the Princess Maren said tonight, "Mom, you have a nice tan, but your legs are still kind of floppy". Thanks sweetie. Obviously, I need to get out there every night, and by golly, I think we've got it.

Marissa's mode of transportation is rollerblading. Princess Maren gets the bike, and I walk. It works out perfectly. We tried all riding bikes together, but that left Marissa bored, Maren crying because we were going to fast, and me just completely frustrated in the low granny gears. Marissa has definitely inherited her Daddy's biking gene. The only speed she seems to know is full tilt. The Captain used to be a big biker back in the day, mostly mountain biking, but a some road biking too. Maren is a little more tentative on her bike. More like her momma that way.

As much as I mocked the weather in my last post, I have to admit this night was perfect. We live about two blocks from the golf course here in town. They have a nice paved walking, biking, rollerblading (how convenient) trail that once you loop around adds up to a nice 2 and a half mile jaunt. I think we saw and heard all things summer as we made our way around. The thwack of a nicely hit shot on the back nine, the reverberation of the diving board being cannonballed, and a boy's joyful noise as he pulled a nice size fish out of the catch and release pond. We saw three baby rabbits, the Howe's mini-horses were up by the fence waiting to be petted, and by the time we hit the driveway the fireflies were out. Perfect.

I was worried about the girls making it the whole way, but they did great! The trail also has three strategically placed benches along the way. The girls would get ahead a little, rest on the next bench and by the time my floppy legs caught up with them, they would be ready to go again. Hopefully the girls will be up for the adventure again tomorrow night. I need the exercise and as quickly as the girls went to sleep tonight - I think they need it too.

Monday, July 20, 2009

MMM, MMM, Good (or Bad?)

We had chicken noodle soup and cinnamon rolls for supper (yes, we have supper here in IA for our evening meal). What's wrong with this picture (besides the disproportionate amount of refined carbs in relation to green leafy vegetables and whole grains)? I do not eat soup in the summer as a rule. Summer is for salads and grilling and mouth-watering fruit and the occasional bowl (or two) of ice-cream. Not soup.

This wasn't even a fall-back meal. You know, what can I dig out of the fridge (oh hello, you cold slushy DDP, you) and throw it all together kind of meal deal. This night called for a desperate and bona fide search for comfort food. It's another cool drippy night with temps in the mid-60's and unfortunately, the perfect night for soup. For Heaven's sake. And it tasted good. In July. The 20th of July. What gives?

Now I need to go get the kids suits and towels ready for swimming lessons in the morning and go throw on the flannel PJ's.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Will Wonders Never Cease...

I can't believe it. Here I am typing on my Mom and Dad's new laptop computer. My lower jaw may be permanently affixed to the floor. I am proud and excited and happy for them, and maybe just a bit jealous too - this thing is pretty nice.

Any tips on teaching your parents computer literacy? My mom accidentally set the language to Assamese - some sort of Indian dialect I guess - when she was setting it up, no let me rephrase that, turning it on. I don't read Indian script very well, so every help search I did was not particularly informative. Need to brush up on that. But, now we are good.

My to-help list. Get mom a Facebook account. Everyone needs one of those these days (right Kathy). E-mail. My dad's brother Daryl lives in Colorado. Let the dirty joke exchange begin. Pictures. My mom is always complaining about not having enough pics of the grand kids. Gonna load up this machine with pictures, baby. WILBOR. Gotta get them a WILBOR account from the library. You can download audio books for free. My dad's vision keeps getting worse with his Parkinson's and audio books are the ticket - and he enjoys them.

Who knows, maybe my mom will start a blog.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Confessions of a Diet Dr. Pepper Addict

I used to drink Diet Coke. Not anymore. However, I will give credit where credit is due. Diet Coke and my roommate Amy (aka Suer) were the ONLY reasons I graduated from college. Seriously folks.

I'd like to say my tastes have matured. Now I drink Diet Dr. Pepper. Profusely. Do you want to know where I keep my stash? In the refrigerator meat drawer. Where do I keep the meat to provide sustenance to my family? I say who needs meat when you can have wonderful, lightly slushed, glacier-cold, DDP in the morning. First thing.

I know, I know. I am almost 40, I should be drinking coffee, flavored coffee. Or tea, green tea even. It is leaching my calcium stores, filling me with fake sugar that makes me want real sugar, destroying my kidneys, and I am sure the list goes on. But, it completes me.

Oddly enough, it is the medical profession that did this to me. Night shifts, 12 hour three day weekend shifts, take their toll. You may need caffeine in any form at any given moment, just to keep your head from hitting the nurses desk in a full puddle of drool. It happens to the best of us. I secretly smile when I see the ER doc on call try to disguise a tall cool can of RockStar in their lab coat pocket. At least I'm not drinking RockStar, for heaven sake.

DDP, see you in the morning you slushy, cold, thing you!

*this post goes out to Shelly, who happens to be slurping her DDP at room temperature. Hope that tooth gets better! I'll have you over for breakfast soon!

Friday, July 10, 2009

And the Thunder Rolls...

...minus Garth Brooks in the weird get-up, bad acting, and the extra-marital affair. I am exhausted. We have been getting some pretty strong thunderstorms the last three early mornings at around 4:30 or so. It starts to rumble and it escalates from there. Maren comes pattering down the hall with Lambie and snuggles real close - that part, I have to admit, I actually like. But the lack of sleep is killing me! The storms usually subside around 7AM. Maren's back in her room and that leaves me 30 minutes to sleep until the alarm goes off at 7:30.

I never sleep well when there are storms in the area, especially when the Captain is gone. I feel wholly responsible for two little lives and always keep one ear open. Come to think of it I do this when the Captain is home too. He has that enviable attribute of being able to sleep through anything, and usually does. Me, I have to get up, check the radar, make my calculations, worry a bit, unplug expensive electrical devices, and then cover my head with a large pillow.

Growing up, I hated storms. Hated them. I think my Dad's farmer anxiety seeped into me, and I would rather just be up with him and mom. I preferred to be up with them on the couch right outside their bedroom. I spent many a night there worrying out the storms. One bad storm with a few hail stones could knock out a whole year's work and profits. There is nothing like the sucker-punched feeling of seeing a luscious green field of corn or beans torn to smithereens by hail. This happened yesterday in a small town close by where they reported grapefruit size hail. Looks about grapefruit size, eh?

Right now, we are counting our blessings. It is green and lush as far as the eye can see. There are rolling green oceans of corn and beans nodding their heads to you as you drive by. Really one of my favorite times of the year in Iowa. Now, if only I could get some sleep and that vision of Garth Brooks out of my head.

Monday, July 6, 2009

So Now What?

I hate those days in church when you get all challenged as a Christian and stuff. When you are left squirming in your seat and sort of sulk from the pew after the benediction is said. It was one of THOSE Sundays for me yesterday.

Our pastor introduced us to a nice, healthy, normal-looking 50-something couple, who should be looking to live out their golden years together. The kids are gone, they have some retirement money saved up - the American Dream, right? But, crazy thing is they have uprooted their life, moved from a nice Chicago suburb to lend their gifts and talents to a growing ministry called To Every Tribe, that equips missionaries and church plants. To quote Margie, she said, "I did not want to shine my light for Christ in a room full of light."

So, for me that was a light bulb moment that I wanted to turn off real quick. I immediately sensed the futility of shining a light in a lit room. Woudn't a light be more effective and so much more needed in a dark room? AND if God is calling this nice normal couple into this ministry, what if He does that to me, to us, to our family, what then? It's like a disease you don't want to catch. Just being honest here, people. What if He asks us to give up our comfortable life here that we have worked so hard for and asks us to run off to Africa or something? Oh my. I can feel the panic rising in my chest.

Let's just play it out for a moment. The Captain is, well, a Captain. He would love to land a little airplane onto some grass strip with a really short runway out in the middle of nowhere. He likes that sort of thing. IA Nurse. We might have something to offer in a "missional" type of way. (I don't even want to say the M-word). I have never even been on a mission trip, but I read things in my nursing magazines about health care, or the lack thereof, in the Dominican Republic or countries in Africa and it makes my heart hurt - in a very practical sense. I think maybe I could help a little bit somehow. And if you can help people in that way, maybe you could slip in a good word about Jesus and how He could really help them too. But then I think about snakes and I change my mind. I am so shallow and naive, I know. It still hurts though.

I don't know what it is. Maybe I am somewhat disillusioned with the so-called "American Dream". Pastor Jon also related a quote from Gordon MacDonald in his book, A Resilient Life "One of the saddest experiences is to awaken at old age and discover that one has been using only a small portion of self." That almost makes me panic more. Maybe it's a seed to be nurtured for now. Who knows?

By the way, Ron and Margie are looking for 200 people willing to give $10 a month to help support them in their work with To Every Tribe. Just FYI.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Other Cheek

Perfect Pairings for Sunday....

Matthew 5:39
...if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Firecracker and Baby Blesser

Let's just say about five years ago today - give or take a day (sorry, was too busy to get a post up yesterday) I worked the night shift and I was 8 months pregnant. Let's just say that I had a patient who was coming off drugs, pulling out her IV's, dropping her blood pressure, trying to get out of her ICU bed, and calling me the devil all at once. Let's just say that I left work thinking I got run over by a Mac truck, so went to OB to get things checked out. Let's just say that I was dilated to a 5 and having regular contractions about 3 weeks before I should have. And, let's just say that the Captain was out flying, my mom is very squeamish as the site of blood, and my older brother predicts, "you're gonna have a Firecracker Baby." Thanks, Don.

Turns out, all this is true and Don was right as he so often annoyingly is. It is all his fault. First I snorted at him and told him - get real, the baby wasn't due for another 3 weeks and would you just leave my room now so I can get some sleep. But, Maren never has been a patient child, and she arrived at 10:55 that July 4th morning weighing a very healthy 7 pounds 8 ounces. Sure enough, she was a little sparkler. The Captain had made it home through the valiant efforts of his company. They were all very excited. Mom was very happy he made it. Bloody show is not her thing. Marissa, was all sweet and so proud of her new baby sister. And many thanks go to my night nurse that took pity on me and let me sleep the night before without the bleep, bleeping, fetal monitor on and took it off. Bless her baby deliverin' heart. I never slept so well as I did that night. So all is well that ends well.

Maren and I spent her first 4th of July watching fireworks and "O Brother Where Art Thou?" from the penthouse suite on the 9th floor OB department at Mercy Medical Center. She is my Firecracker Baby, in every sense of the word. She is a sparkler too. She can flash that grin at you and make your day. And all her diva-ness aside, she has a very gentle nurturing heart. When she sees a baby, she has to touch him or her- gravely and in all seriousness, making eye contact, then cocks her head to the side and smiles - like she's giving it her blessing. She blessed one at the pool, at the library, and then again at Bible School the other day. It's her thing -passing out baby blessings.

I think she thinks all the fireworks are just for her. For everyone else, hope you had a happy and wonderful, and safe 4th of July.

Happy Birthday Princess! Momma and Daddy love you so much!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The United States Poet Laureate. Really?

Our Newsweek came on Monday. I generally consider that the Captain's "library" reading material. Get my drift? This issue pretty much sucked me in though, it's title being "What to Read Now". Had some really interesting articles in it, but the one that got me was a piece on Kay Ryan. Had never heard of Kay Ryan. Did you know the United States has a Poet Laureate? I KNOW. Me neither. Turns out, Kay Ryan is our Poet Laureate. I haven't read any poems she'd written, but having been exposed, I am going to have find some more.

Tenderness and Rot

Tenderness and rot
share a border,
And rot is an agressive neighbor
whose iridescence
keeps creeping over.

No lessons
can be drawn
from this however.

One is not
two countries.
One is not meat

It is important
to stay sweet
and loving.

Hmm, of course it is. Here's another,

There are high places
that don't invite us
sharp shapes, glacier-
scraped faces, whole
ranges whose given names
slip off. Any such relation
as we try to make
refuses to take. Some
high lakes are not for us,
some slick escarpments.
I'm giddy with thinking
where thinking can't stick.
- "No Names"

Wow, there's a world of thought (even though it might slip off) and truth in those 12 lines. Just wanted to share.