Saturday, March 7, 2015

Full Februrary

February started out with tons of excitement and a huge let down. Our favorite team and family entertainment, the Seahawks, made it to the Super Bowl. We gathered with our "Framily" . . . our great neighbor friends that have become more like family . . . and cheered, clapped, enjoyed food, couldn't believe all the excitement and then literally collapsed on the floor at the devastating last minute loss. It was NOT the outcome we were hoping for.

Hannah decided in honor of the big game, she'd make a cake from scratch. It was quite time intensive as we learned the valuable lesson of checking for all ingredients before undertaking a big project. There were quite a lot of starting and stopping but the end result was quite delicious.

And in case you can't read the personalized lettering, it says, "Go Hawks!" (I'll refrain from mentioning how much bright Seahawks colored homemade frosting got all over my kitchen . . . )

Football season ended and we decided as a family to give up TV. It was partially a financial decision as our bill was crazy (is it just me or are cable companies a racket?!) and partially a family decision to spend more time just hanging out . . . reading, playing games, playing instruments (we're getting quite a collection around here with both girls playing piano, Haley playing violin, Hannah playing trumpet, Travis working on the guitar, me with the viola, and the new electric drum set we got for Christmas). The girls have particularly liked a "rap night" we had - a lot of ridiculous going on!! It's surprising been easier than we thought and quite a lot of fun.

One of my favorite little people in the world has been studying hard to have deep literary discussions with his "Hattie" . . .

And although he is attempting to branch out from "Mr. Brown can Moo," he's falling deeper in love with Mickey Mouse's Clubhouse and I love getting pictures of his "mouserbooty."

For the first time ever, Travis is assistant coaching wrestling this year. I told him in all honesty that for the last 15 years, I have made an effort to attend at least one game of each of the teams and sports and seasons he's coached but I would NOT be coming to watch a wrestling match/meet/game (still don't know what it's called?!). Well the stars aligned and they happened to be having a match/meet/game (whatever!!) at Hannah's middle school and the timing fit in right between two other commitments we had in the same area so we went. All the way there the girls expressed how much they didn't want to be going. Haley said it was going to be too bloody and she didn't want to see people punching each other. I informed her they were not allowed to punch and aside from the occasional bloody nose, it's not a bloody sport - it's like when Dad tackles you. I also told them how much I didn't want to be going either but as a family we support each other and we were going for Dad and blah blah blah. So we went . . . and don't tell anyone . . . but it was a ton of crazy fun and excitement! We were literally holding our breath watching these guys put their heart and soul into each match/meet/pairing/competition/thingy . . . and the refs have to practically lay on the floor to check contact and pinning . . . and the exhilaration they felt when they succeeded in winning . . . and the disappointment they felt when they tried so hard and at the last minute got flipped with some crazy move you weren't expecting. Anyhoo - we didn't want to leave! I had to eat some crow . . .

Over the Valentine's Day/Presidents' Day holiday weekend, we headed up to Birch Bay for a mini-vacation thanks to the generosity of the Marsh family. We spent four days playing games, reading, swimming in the 80 degree outdoor pool, and walking the beach. The kids found shells, watched an eagle catch a fish and a swarm of seagulls try to get it away, climbed on drift wood, jumped the waves until their boots were full of salt water and sand and enjoyed the fresh air.

And of course the cozy nights by the fire with some tea (or cocoa) were quite lovely . . . and silly!

We got to visit Auntie a few times while we were there as she works at Starbucks only 15mins from where we were staying. In honor of Valentine's Day, they had some fun props to take pictures with.

We returned home and my lovely compromised immune system picked up a sinus infection while we were gone so along with some more antibiotics, I got some cough drops, tissues, and tea . . . this was the ironic message on the tea bag . . .

I had the incredible opportunity to attend another Beth Moore conference in Seattle with some great ladies. It was a time of laughter, learning and a much needed filling of the tank.

And last but not least, I had a great mother of the year award experience. I took the girls to the library to find some books for the weekend. We spent almost an hour together choosing books to read alone, together, listen to on CD, placing holds on the computer to pick up later, finding things that will work for school projects etc. When we went to check out our books, we discovered there was one book that was over-due blocking our account. I knew right where it was and as the library is only 10 minutes away from home, I told the girls we'd jump in the car real quick allowing us to check out our selections.

At this point, they plead their case to stay alone. I know if I do my job well, I'm training them to successfully leave the nest . . . but it is hard to start letting them go. My instant reaction was, "NO - they are way to little, a million things could happen, there's no way!!" Then I began to look around at our tiny little library full of students, other families and a gaggle of librarians. And when I say our library is tiny, it's tiny. There are literally 10 or so rows of shelves, a kids section and a teen section on the other side. And, our house is 10 mins away. It was the perfect opportunity to trial run a little safe separation. I gave them a thousand instructions on what to do if they needed help, where they had to stay (only in the tiny, well contained, well monitored kid section), and how long I'd be gone. Haley reassured me that Hannah could just pretend to be her mom and they'd be fine! With much trepidation, anxiety and prayer, away I went.

I drove way to fast, stressed way to much and even checked in with Travis to reassure myself I wasn't a horrible person. He reassured me that they are 9 and 11, our tiny local library is a safe place and I'd be back before they had time to finish two books. I made it home (in under 10 mins - don't tell our local law enforcement), found the book in a snap and headed right back. I finally felt my shoulders relax and the small victory as a parent in letting go in a safe scenario . . . when my phone rang. It was Hannah. She said, "Mom, the library is closing in 5 mins." I was instantly thrown back into a dither, reassured her in the calmest voice I could muster that I'd be right there and hit the gas (in a very safe way . . .) What I didn't remember, was that on Friday, they close 4 hours earlier than the other days of the week. (Again - small town tiny library.)

Needless to say, I got there as they were locking the doors, had to smile and mouth that my children were still inside to the not-pleased-to-have-children-left-in-the-library librarian and face the gauntlet of small town library ladies ready to go home. I said grateful things like, "Ok ladies - let's hurry and check out our books as these ladies were kind enough to let us finish" . . . etc. blah blah . . . as I was given the stink eye and one of the women literally stood looking with her arms crossed. Like I didn't feel bad enough!!! The ONE time I leave them . . . and ONE time I start to let go . . . of course this happened!!!!! There was finally one of the women who gave me a little knowing smile and so I guiltily started spilling my guts about how this was the first time I left them like this and I was trying to come back as soon as I could and I didn't mean to leave them and I'm so sorry and I'd never do it again and I talked way to much and way to fast until she smiled again and reassured me that they "never leave anybody at the library." Needless to say, I'll probably never leave them any where again for the next 10 years or so!

February was a short month on the calendar but a full month (like most are) if you stop and pay attention to the little things (and the big things) that fill each day. We're continuing to learn and trying to focus on noticing and appreciating those little things. It's finding that one rock on the beach that looks like a heart. It's pointing out the irony of the tea bag message. It's being able to laugh at myself and the ridiculous library experience. And it's the willingness to share and record all these little things so in the days, weeks, months and years to come, we can look back as a family and remember just what each one of these fast fleeting moments were like.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

HOT DOG I'm frustrated!

I read once that it's ok not to be ok . . . but only for a little while.

I'm not ok. Alright - I'm ok in the sense that I'm here at home and breathing and have a wonderful family all around me and friends that put up with me. But I'm sick of the rinse - wash - repeat of this asthmatic story so I'm currently in a place of frustration. After 12 weeks of tapering painfully slow (one mg a week), I was told yesterday that I had to jack back up and start all over again in a few weeks. I know - I know . . . this drug is what allows me to be at home and breath and be surround by my wonderful family and enjoy my friends that put up with me. But today, it doesn't feel like its normal medicine I'm taking . . . it feels like I've been prescribed . . .

And I could only dream of taking a measly 5 mg . . . This is what greets me each morning . . .

And I have another great looking handful to take at night. Yes . . . I am having a pity party for myself. (I'll give you a minute to feel bad too . . . . ) Ok - minute over. And my narcissistic need to whine about my "drama" is nearly over as well. There are sooo many bigger problems out there in the world. I know that I could play the glad game and find thousands of things to be thankful for. But today - I wallowed. And was ok with wallowing. But I know it's not good to wallow for long. It's time to pull up my big girl undies and get back in the game. And a couple pictures of this little guy today didn't hurt . . .

(He is in loooove with Mickey Mouse clubhouse and beams from ear to ear when you say "Oh toodles!" or sing the "Hot Dog" song . . . we have some good chats over the phone!)

In conclusion, I'm going to be ok that I'm not ok . . . but tomorrow I'm going to have a good final cry, rant, and moan session with a long time friend over coffee. Then I'm going to pick myself up and start again. It is all I can do. I cannot give up, so I must carry on again. (How's that for over dramatic?!) We all do it, and we will all continue to do it. After all, in the words of Mickey Mouse,

Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggety dog
Now we got ears, it's time for cheers

Hot dog, hot dog, the problem's solved
Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggety dog

Thanks Mickey for solving all life's problems!! 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January in Review

This month has been fairly dominated by our favorite local football team and their exciting road to the Super Bowl . . .

We CANNOT wait to cheer and jump and holler this Sunday!! And although our thoughts and attire and excitement has been football centered, we've had all kinds of other things happen this month.

Haley and I got to go to the local children's theater on a field trip to see Frindle - a play about a boy who invents a new word.

Although it wasn't the most life changing story/production ever, it was great to be with my little girl experiencing it together. And it's always a personal victory when I am physically able to do something outside the house.

On the 16th I had a bronchial procedure in hopes of finding a possible explanation to all the asthma flares I have been having. When they were checking me in, at the exact same time, they were struggling to put in an IV (as I was forbidden to drink from midnight the night before and was dehydrated), they were checking my blood pressure with the tightest blood pressure cuff ever, the nurse shoved the thermometer in my mouth, and the person being prepped in the room next door started singing some loud song about his "spank line." When we asked the nurse what a spank line was, she made the funniest face and said, "I don't want to know!" For the actual procedure, they went down (much like an endoscopy), took a sample of tissue in my lungs and then flushed it hoping to clear things out. They were looking for a form of tuberculosis (that sounds exciting) which they didn't find (a bit disappointing as it may have been a long term solution to this asthmatic mayhem) but they did discover that I had pneumonia (the predinisone masks symptoms of infections) and immediately put me on a crazy heavy duty antibiotic three times a day. So - in summary - although we didn't find a larger solution to this ever frustrating problem, we probably prevented/avoided another long hospital stay by stopping a huge problem before it worsened. (PS - I thought perhaps my throat would be sore a day or so after - my chest and lungs and diaphragm claimed some serious credit in the pain department . . . good times)

While recovering, I got some great pictures of this busy little guy . . .

Melissa said in the middle picture he was trying to figure out how to call his auntie!! And he is becoming oh so helpful at home . . .

The elementary school hosted a family Bingo night. Haley had a great time hanging with her best buddy Maddie.

And they both even got a Bingo and picked matching jump ropes for their prizes!

A famous jazz group (Tower of Power) invited the MP and Totem jazz bands to a special day with them in Seattle. Because Travis is good friends with the band teacher at Totem, he was able to go and take Hannah with him. They both came home super excited and Hannah was even more "jazzed" about playing the trumpet. (pardon the ridiculous pun - that's just plain embarassing)

And last but not least, Grandma Merry took the girls to see Mary Poppins at a local theater. They had a wonderful time even watching the actress fly right over their seats!

While they were gone, Travis and I took advantage of a date night and went out to dinner. I can't say enough how nice it is to have an open line of communication and a spouse I actually enjoy spending time with. We have been through the ringer and having a steady partner by my side makes it all ok.

January is commonly known as a time of new beginnings but I think everyday is a chance for a new beginning. You always have a choice as to how you will face the day. You have a choice how you will interact with the people around you. You have a choice as to what you will focus on and how you will respond to the things that come in your way. I don't always make the right choice. But thankfully, tomorrow is a new day filled with new choices.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Books Read in 2014

I love to read. And each year I keep track of the books I've read. Part of it is because I'm OCD and keeping list is actually entertaining to me. Part of it is because I read so many books I forget sometimes if I've read a book or not. Part of it is because I set a goal (for no reason except the fun of it) to read 100 books in a year. And part of it is because I like to blog the list for all posterity - maybe you need a good book recommendation?

This year I read 73. Next to each book, I've written a yes/no/maybe as to whether I'd read again or recommend along with a quick synopsis. OCD remember? I'm also a book tabber . . . I'm not sure if that's a thing but it is now. I keep a little sticky tabby thing right next to my bed and if I read something that strikes me as funny or thought provoking or interesting, I tab it and when I've finished reading the book, copy the quote in a little notebook/journal. This year I thought it might be fun if I added a few quotes to the list of books. So . . . drum-roll . . . books read in 2014.

1. This Is Not The Story You Think It Is by Laura Munson - true story of a woman faced with husband's declaration at the beginning of the summer that he is not happy and wants to leave sets her on the path of self discovery when she refuses to give up (YES)

2. Death Be Not Proud by C.F. Dunn -  second in secret journal series in which Emma discovers Matthew has not aged for hundreds of years. (yes)

3. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp - true story of a woman challenged to write one thousand of the little daily blessings and is completely transformed (YES!!!)
"Sometimes you don't know when you're taking the first step through a door until you're already inside . . . they are just common things and maybe I don't even know they are gifts really until I write them down and that is really what they look like." (pg. 42)
"Feel thanks and it's absolutely impossible to feel angry. We can only experience one emotion a a time. And we get to choose - which emotion do we want to feel?" (pg. 136)
"Years of Christian discipleship, Bible study, church going had been about me thinking about God; practicing eucharisteo (the practice of giving thanks) was the very first time I had really considered at length what God thought of me." (pg. 205)

4. Deep by Susanna Vance - young girl is kidnapped and taken to a Caribbean island while another young girl sails the seas along (yes)

5. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell - an IT guys falls in love with a woman while reading her emails (maybe)

6. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jan Hatmaker - one of the funniest women I have ever read decides to address 7 areas in their life by pairing down (YES!!!) - and there are WAAAY to many quotes and stories that I tabbed and cracked up - you must must must read this book!
"There is something so nourishing about sharing your living space with people where they see your junk-mail pile and pee wee football schedule on the fridge and pile of shoes by the front door. Opening your home says 'You are welcome to my real life.' This square footage is where we laugh and hold family meetings and make homemade corn dogs and work through melt downs. Here is the railing our kids pulled out of the wall. This is the toilet paper we prefer to use. There are the pictures we frame, the books we're reading, the projects we're undertaking - the raw material of our family. It's unsanitized and truthful. We invite you into this intimate place, saturated with our family character." (pg. 176)

7. I Loved You All by Paul Sharp - two sisters go through the summer with their mom in treatment and a religious fanatic of a neighbor (no)

8. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett - scientist goes into the Amazon after hearing her co-worker died while in the field (maybe)

9. An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff - true story of an ad executive who passes by an 11 year old panhandler in NY and then turns back around to offer lunch at McDonalds and starts a life long mentor-ship/friendship in which they both learn a lot about life (YES!!)

10. A Simple Thing by Kathleen McCleary - a mom worried about the fast paced life and the affect it was having on her kids up and moves to an island for a year (after reading it, it inspired a super fun "no technology day at our house) (yes)

11. Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore - probably the third time I've read this book - through sharing her journey, this amazing book focuses on God's ability to plant your feet on solid rock (YES!!!)
"Don't let up when you are feeling better. Feeling better is not what we're after. The goal is freedom from the pit for the rest of your life." (pg. 205)

12. Swamplandia by Karen Russell - after the death of their mother, a family attempts to save their reptile themed island in their own ways. (NO)

13. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman - a couple who live alone on an island in Australia as light house keepers have a baby wash up on shore and decide to keep her as their own. (maybe)

14. The Body Book by Nancy Rue - read for Hannah - about growing up and body changes from God's perspective. (yes)

15. Growing Up Duggar: It's All About Relationships by Jana, Jill, Jessa and Jinger (YES)
"Contentment is realizing that God has provided everything we need for our present happiness. Another key is recognizing the 'unchangeable' things in our life and choosing to live joyfully." (pg. 10)
"We all consider our home to be a ministry center that God has given us to use as a place where we can encourage others spiritually and enjoy special times of fellowship." (pg. 230)

16. Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker - the journey of a pastor's wife as she becomes convicted of our failings as a church - we need to stop doing church and be church (YES!!) - this book messed with my head and completely flipped things around - I've passed it on more times then I can count. A must must must read.

17. Why Shoot a Butler by Georgetter Heyer - a silly murder mystery written in 1933 (yes)

18. Things Pondered by Beth Moore - short stories and poems written about all stages of her life (yes)

19. The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff - a portrait painter falls in love with a subject who happens to be her future brother-in-law (yes)

20. Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg - mom of two young children tries to survive while her husband is in a coma (yes)
"She is turning into herself in these little ways. She is like stepping into the garden everyday when you know something is new, different from the day before. That's how children are, growing up in front of you the way they do. Sometimes its a barely noticeable thing, like a stem that's slightly taller. Sometimes it's a blossom that's burst forth obvious as a Vegas show girl. Wow - you think. I'd better not miss a day. I'd better be here." (pg. 87)
"My children love taking medicine, even when it tastes terrible. It's very unusual. I worry about it. They probably can't wait to grow up and be hypochondriacs." (pg. 163)

21. Also Known as Harper by Ann Haywood Leal - a single mom tries to keep her little family together while her older daughter finds solice in writing poems (maybe)

22. The Other Half of My Heart by Sundee Frazier - twins born - one white and one black - face their differences and similarities while competing in a pageant in the south (maybe)

23. The Missing Rose by Serdar Ozkan - upon her mothers death, Diana learns she has a twin and embarks on a journey to discover what was really herself (no)

24. Table for Seven by Whitney Gaskell - a monthly dinner club goes through lots of emotional and relational ups and downs - fluffy summer read (maybe)

25. Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpugo - old woman tells story of escaping Germany with her mom, brother, American soldier and an elephant (yes - and let Hannah read it when I was finished)

26. Flying by the Seat of My Pants by Marsha Marks - hilarious true stories of a women's career as a flight attendant (yes)

27. Until the Real Thing Comes Along by Elizabeth Berg - tired of waiting for marriage a women becomes pregnant by her long time friend (no)

28. Writing the Memoir by Judith Barrington - a college course in the ins and outs along with some writing exercises I can't wait to start (yes) - I've had a life long dream to be an author since I was a little girl - now, in a time of sitting and being asthmatic, is a great time to start no?!
"Rather than simply telling a story from her life, the memoirist both tells a story and muses upon it trying to unravel what it means in the light of her current knowledge." (pg. 20)

29. Open House by Elizabeth Berg - after her husband leaves her, a woman must rediscover what life and love really mean (maybe)

30. Patty Jane's House of Curl by Lorna Landvik - two sisters and their lives together with husbands, finances, a daughter and lots and lots of ups and downs all held together and surrounded by their in-home beauty shop (maybe)
"Remember Mom. I'm just a child!" "We all are hon. Some of us are just taller." (pg. 2)
"She liked to see the progress of time's march and felt an affinity with each day as she stood before the calendar with a black crayon; yes I spent you, you existed for me, thank you." (pg. 117)

31. Dream When You're Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg - 3 sisters spend WWII write letters to the troops (yes)

32. Secret Keeper by Dannah Gresh - guide for high school/middle school girls about the "delicate power of modesty" (yes)

33. Never Mind the Joneses: Building Core Christian Values in a way that fits your family by Tim Stafford (yes)
"Sometimes a compromise can be found through a heart-to-heart talk. In it, the parents say explicitly that they don't want to pry into private details of life but that they must first feel confidence that no destructive behavior is going on. That gives children a fair warning: if they want privacy they have to be forthcoming with the information their parents need in order to be good parents." (pg. 144)
"Grace speaks to regret and bitterness in the language of forgiveness. Sometimes we talk about forgiveness as though we understand it, as though it's a perfectly natural human interaction. Forgiveness is more like a miracle. How a person consumed by his own past failings can come to releases them like helium balloons, I do not understand. I see it happen but I cannot explain it. How someone whose mind helplessly plays and replays a long-ago hurt can come to release the bitterness is beyond me. But it happens when grace touches their lives." (pg. 195)

34. Fin and Lady by Cathleen Schine - after his mother died, an 11 year old boy moves in with his worldly 24 year old half sister (maybe)

35. The Time Keeper by Mitch Album - "Father Time" is forced to live forever until he fully understands what it means to focus not on life but on time left (maybe)

36. Bed Rest by Sarah Bilston - a funny and yet sometimes inappropriate in language 'diary' of a lawyer forced 3 months bed rest while pregnant (maybe)

37. The Handmaid and the Carpenter by Elizabeth Berg - fictional back story of Mary and Joseph before, during and after Jesus' birth and childhood (yes)

38. Escaping into the Open by Elizabeth Berg - her true story of how she became a writer and her writing process (YES)
"You need to be a home for yourself and your work. You need to be a safe place to present things to be admired and loved. Never mind what anyone else has to say about your work, be it good or bad. Know that its necessary that you love your work, and let yourself do that. Relish what you are doing; whether you succeed or fail in the eyes of the outer world has nothing to do with the fact that you are answering a calling and making art as best you can. The world is rich because of people who do what you do. Treat yourself and your pages with respect - you know how to do it. Do not think you cannot call yourself a writer until you've been published." (pg. 34)

39. The Husbands Secret by Liane Moriarty - 3 seemingly unconnected families have their paths crossed over an unsolved murder (maybe)

40. Divergent by Veronica Roth - in a world divided into factions, a 16 year old girl has to decide her future and the future of her family (maybe)

41. 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody - when a spoiled socialite crashes her new car into a convenience store, her dad makes her work a different minimum job a week for a year in order to earn her inheritance (yes)

42. Insurgent by Veronica Roth - second book in Divergent series in which factions start breaking apart and starting a war (maybe)

43. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - WWII told from narrator "death" following the story of a young girl who loves words and books and has an amazing journey stealing them throughout her life. (yes)
"There would be punishment and pain and there would be happiness too. That was writing." (pg. 535)

44. Allegiant by Veronica Roth - final in trilogy. Least favorite and frustrating ending (arrggg)

45. The View from Mount Joy by Lorna Landvik - story of high school boy through adulthood with all of lifes ups and downs - too many adult scenes - could have been toned down to make a better book (no)

46. Sinners and the Sea: The Untold Story of Noah's Wife by Rebecca Kanner - long imagined story of Noah's family, preperations, flood, and restart of the world (no)

47. Wanderville by Wendy McClure - orphan children escape a work camp to build their own town in the woods (yes)

48. The Priority List by David Menasche - a teacher becomes almost blind and is dying of cancer decides to stop all treatment and find old students and check in (although quite narsassitic - yes)
"Power is the ability to effect change . . . but strength is endurance because all I ask for my remaining days is the strength to endure them." (pg. 217)

49. Hold up the Sky by Patricia Sprinkle - a summer in the south where a group of women learn about themselves, their families and each other (YES)
"Don't grow up so fast! Don't lose the wonder you have as a child. When you have passed through stormy years to become whoeve you will be I cannot promise you will find wonder waiting on the other side." (pg. 2)
"Katrina brought over additional merchandise. They sat in tennis visors sipping tea and cracking jokes. Watching your possessions disappear into other people's trucks could be hilarious, Margaret discovered, when shared with a friend." (pg. 166)
"The poor know the true blessing of God - that He is with us no matter what we face. No one can take that away. When you know that, nothing else matters and you will truly know God." (pg. 286)

50. Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Graberistein - a game creator makes an adventure out of finding the secret way out of his brand new public library (YES)

51. The Lemon Grove by Ali Hosseini - a twin brother returns o Iran after a stay in America and finds the country war torn, his brother missing and his brother's wife arrested (no)

52. Sarah's Key by Tatiana Rosnay - modern and historical stories collide as a new couple is moving into an apartment once inhabited by a Jewish family arrensted and encamped during WWII in France (yes)

53. The Deep Blue Sea by Luanne Rice - a daughter spends the summer in Italy with her mother who abandoned her ten years before (yes)

54. The Father's Tale by Michael O'Brien - a take on the prodigal son. A father travels to England, Russia, ends up in Sibiria, taken to China on a dangerous journey in attemp to rescue his son from a "cult" of intelectuals. Meets many people along the way who continue to grow his faith (yes . . . but 1072 pages!!)
"Maybe we don't need to be in such a rush to figure ourselves out. Just to exist as a human being is phenominal. Maybe all I need to know is what God allows me to see." (pg. 139)
"On every hunched shoulder was the message. Endurance. Endurance was engraved in the genetic code of all those who had survived." (pg. 331)
"Wait upon the Lord. Listen. Pray. Read sacred scriptures. Perhaps you need only sleep. For each person, it is a different experience. Sometimes the Lord merely wishes you to rest. At other times He will speak quietly; at times, not at all. Sometimes there is consolation; at other times there is struggle. Whatever occurs is a gift." (pg. 503)

55. Looking for Alaska by John Green - a girl dies in a car accident leaving behind close friends to wonder why and honor her legacy (no - language)

56. Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling - a funny memoir of growing up then working in comedy (maybe - launguage)

57. Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand - a daughter gets married and plans the whole wedding based off a notebook written by her mom before she died (maybe)

58. Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford - an orphan recognizes her mother from a movie poster and finds her to rediscover her past - set in Chinatown in Seattle in the 1920/30's (yes)

59. The Scribe by Francis Rivers - story of Silas from bible told in narrative from his perspective traveling with Paul etc. (maybe)

60. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty - after suffering a severe concussion a woman realizes she lost years of her memories (YES)

61. The One and Only Ivan by Katharine Applegate - based on a true story of a gorilla caged in a mall for 27 year. He plans an escape when a baby elephant joins the captured (YES)

62. Paper Towns by John Green - senior year a group of friends follow clues to find a girl who ran away (yes)

63. Dreaming Water by Gail Tsukiyama - a woman with Werners Syndrome in which you age rapidly lives with her aging mother a faces a difficult future (yes)

64. A Hidden Affair by Pam Jenoff - a CIA agent goes on an international hunt for her fiance when she finds out he faked his death (no)

65. Beyond Belief by Jenna Misgaive Hill - story growing up in scientology and eventual escape (maybe)

66. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion - a college professor sets out to find a wife with a specific questionair (no for language - yes for story)

67. The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama - a young Chinese boy goes to live in Japan while he is recovering from a serious illness during the time of the Japenese invasion and he struggles to balance what he hears with the gently gardender he grows close to (yes)

68. The Kingdom of Wrenly series by Jordan Quinn - Haley's recommendation - this 3 part series is about a prince who goes on an adventure with a peasant friend and a pet dragon (yes)

69. The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne - true story of how man with tourettes finds himself and his purpose through books (YES)
"I'll never know everything about anything but I'll know something about almost everything and that's how I like to live." (pg. 3)
"To see the value of a library, ignore the adults. Find an inquisitive child who doesn't have an IPhone yet, take them to the library and tell them they can learn anything they want there." (pg. 217)

70. Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama - story of silk factories in China and the girls/women who worked there (maybe)

71. Who Wrote That: Shel Silverstein by Elisa Ludwig - short biography on the authors life (maybe)

72. The Novelist by Angela Hunt - challenged by a student to write something more personal an author begins a novella telling a modern day Eden/fall of man story in an attempt to reach her son (maybe)
"I used to think the creator tested me to discover how strong I was. Lately though I've begun to realize He has an entirely different purpose in mind. The Author of my life knows everything about me so He already knows how strong I am. The tests come to me - and to you - so we will know how strong the creator is when He carries me through what we can't handle alone." (pg. 292)

73. I'm Not Mad I Just Hate You by Roni Cohen and Michelle Silver - parenting advice on communicating effectively between mom and teen daughter (yes)
"When you listen to your daughter's arguments (not necessarily agreeing with them) you are encouraging her to reason. When you negotiate with her with you are building her problem solving skills." (pg. 103)
"Empower her - remind her of her strength, seek her input, teacher her to get information, give her coping strategies, and encourage problem solveing." (pg. 206)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2014 Wrap Up

2014 has been a filled year for the Marsh family. I left out the fun as it has not always been. A hard core resurgence of asthma and a 10 day hospital stay because of said crummy lung function has not been fun. It remains to be a constant daily struggle but, as a family, we try hard not to let it overtake our lives nor define who we are.

This year, we took a great family vacation to Idaho, I got to trade in the trusty old van for a new-to-us Honda Pilot, Hannah successfully started middle school like a champ, Haley turned 9 and has exploded in her math and reading skills, and Travis continues to reach kids in incredible ways as a teacher and a coach.

Never was Travis' passion for kids more needed than this fall. October brought a lot of heartache into our community and into our personal life. The high school that Travis' middle school feeds into had a school shooting. 5 of the 6 students involved, were students that Travis had taught and/or coached. It was a senseless, devastating loss that brought with it weeks of difficulties. We attended memorial services for innocent kids who's only involvement that day was showing up for school - something that shouldn't have to be done. We dealt with the aftermath of knowing and having current siblings of the shooter on Travis' football team. As the high school was closed for a week, Travis had countless students come down to gain some support from a steadfast mentor they've had in their lives. A lifetime of loving on kids through thick and thin accumulated into this experience and God truly held Travis in the palm of His hand while he navigated these uncharted waters. The last football game of the season was scheduled for the week immediately following the event. Not only was it a delicate time in the community and school in general, siblings of victims involved played on the team. After much contemplation and nightly conversations, a decision was made to play - as one close friend to the family said, "Coach, I just need to play some football right now." The game was against a rival school from the same town. Before the game, Travis walked all the way across the field and spoke with the other team saying, "Today, on this field, we're all football players. Don't go easy on us - let's put everything aside and play." Then he brought the whole team over to our side line. He asked each player to find their number from the opposing team, mixed them all up, and had a picture taken.

I don't think I could have been any prouder of the man my husband is than at that moment. He gets kids. He gets life. Life is about relationships. This was one of those forever pivotal moments that I will never forget.

In celebration of Travis' birthday, his family took him to a Husky football game. The four of them grew up cheering for the Dawgs so it was a great full circle for them to re-live the fun and make some new memories in the new stadium.

On December 13th, our sweet, funny, amazing girl turned 9. I can no longer say I have "little kids." For her family gift, Haley decided she'd really like to own some fish. (Actually she really wanted to own a dog but mom's lungs got in the way of this one.) I digress - Daddy and Haley went to the fish store and picked out the coolest glow in the dark fish ever she named "Tinka" and "Tigger" because one is small like a little sheep in a book we love and the other is orange and likes to jump around a lot. She also picked an incredible tank with all the bells and whistles to go along with it. Watching these two little guys have already brought a lot of family enjoyment.

For her birthday party, Haley chose Science as the theme. Instantly, Travis was filled with ideas on how to make this day memorable and amazing. From baking soda/vinegar volcanoes, dry ice turning lemonade into a carbonated drink, and even shooting Mentos out of coke bottles, the mad scientist made it an absolute blast and an event that will not be forgotten for a long time!!

Over the summer, Haley started violin lessons. The afternoon of her birthday, she got to perform in her first recital and did an incredible job.

Ms. Laura Roundy - our fabulous teacher
Per our yearly tradition, the day after Thanksgiving, we got out Christmas tree and decorated the house. For some reason, the girls insisted on dressing up in fancy dresses . . . I never want to forget these precious little moments.

The day school ended for Christmas vacation, the Marsh family packed up the car and headed to Ocean Shores on the Washington coast for 5 days of memory making with A. Bonnie, U. Ryan, cousins Moses, Junie, Simon and Grandma and Grandpa. Although the weather outside was frightful (or exactly to be expected on the WA coast in December), when there was a break from the rain, the kiddos enjoyed running into the ocean becoming soaked and sandy from head to toe.

In the evenings, the kids enjoyed getting cozy in their pjs and watching Christmas movies.

And Uncle Ryan led a few sing-a-longs with beautiful accompanying dances by Juniper.

After an incredible time, we packed the car and headed back home. This time, we added Grandma and Grandpa and all their belongings in the car as well. Hannah was an amazing trouper . . .

We returned home on Christmas Eve with just enough time to lay out some milk and cookies for Santa and get tucked in our beds. The girls always have a slumber party together with strict instructions not to wake up Mom and Dad until 7am . . . this never works but we try every year anyway. At 6:40am (and apparently that was generous as they woken up almost every hour in excitement) the girls came in jumping up and down reminding us it was Christmas. We groggily got out of bed and they scurried down the stairs to discover Santa had left a stocking full of gifts and their very own, long coveted . . .IPODS!!! There were squeals, huge smiles and Haley who said, "I don't even know what to do!" With homemade gluten free cinnamon rolls (that tasted more like dry biscuits - sorry family - I'll try again next year), we spent the rest of the morning exchanging gifts with each other.

After a nice leisurely morning together in our pjs, we filled up the car with presents and headed down to Grandma and Grandpas for Christmas dinner and gift giving. It was fun having spent so much recent time together as the cousins were already warmed up and ready to play. We had an incredible meal, gave and received some very thoughtful things including some old books and purses of Nana's and finished the evening with songs around the piano.

On Saturday, we headed up north for another Christmas celebration with Grandma, Papa, Namies, A. Missy, U. Ben, and Baby James. Although everyone had fun, I think James was the star of the show enjoying opening gifts and being doted upon by every person in the room! Christmas is so much more fun through the eyes of a child.

In celebration of my birthday the end of the month, the girls had grandma slumber parties so Travis and I could rent a stack of movies, order my favorite take-out (Mai Phim Thai food) and sleep in. It was some much needed rest after a busy holiday season and there's no one I would have rather spent it with!

You Again (a story of high school history coming back to bite you was hilarious) The Grand Budapest Hotel (super quirky but I loved it) This is Where I Leave You (siblings coming together after the death of their father - very disappointing) Maze Runner (combo/knock off of The Host, The Hunger Games, and every other teen movie lately - but worse)                                                                                                                  
The Book Thief (amazing incredible book to read and amazing incredible movie to watch) Let's Be Cops (of course it had some inappropriate parts but it was hilarious!!)

When you are smack dab in the middle of paying bills and doing dishes and folding laundry and going to work and doing homework and practicing piano and going to violin lessons and driving to and from school, the days can be oh so long but as 2014 comes to a close and I look back at just how far we've come and how much the girls have grown and all that we've done, the years are oh so short. Wishing you a New Year filled with all that is truly important - family, friends, laughter, love and sharing all the little things that can mean so much.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


People (myself included) often question and wonder where God is in times of tragedy. Sometimes He shows us, He's right in the middle of it.

Marysville Pilchuck High School - the day after devastation

Friday, October 24, 2014

Hug Your Kids

We had a tragic event in our community today. A school shooting at the high school that Travis' middle school feeds into. The students directly involved on both sides of the scenario were football players on Travis' team last year. It is scary. It is confusing. It is too close to home. There are no words to explain how we are feeling right now. We are in shock and I think we will be for quite a while. One thing I do know, when our girls come home today from school safely, I'll put my arms around them and hold them extra tight. Hug your kids . . . you never know what tomorrow holds.