Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Holidays

Every year, as a homeschooling mom, I have every intention of doing at least some school over the Christmas break. But pretty much every year, I fail. 2017 was no different. I even ended up taking an entire extra week of vacation, knowing that all our Albuquerque friends were out of school on December 18th, we ended up starting our vacation then too, spending the week making candies and cookies, wrapping presents, watching holiday movies, Christmas caroling, and just having fun together. Paul's sister, Christina, arrived on Friday night, after finishing her last final of her college career. My kids were thrilled, and we felt spoiled, to have "Aunt Stina" with us for a week.

I ordered a 4 lb wheel of our favorite cheese, Saint Andre, as well as a 10-year Hook's aged cheddar, which I think I need to buy on a monthly basis, cranberry crusted goat cheese, and a triple cream bleu. We were almost transported home to Wisconsin.

Being married to Paul, Christmas is always a big deal. As scientifically minded and practical as he is with some matters, when it comes to gifts, it's all about feeling. "I don't feel like Niels has enough...Anna needs more books to equal Hattie...I don't feel like we've found the perfect gift for Anders yet," are statements always heard throughout November and December. I have learned after 12 years of marriage that there is no reasoning with him when it comes to gifts. He is going to give what he wants to until it feels sufficient. As much as I have tried to set a budget in the past, or tried to plan a strategy for what to buy, he always does his own thing anyway. I've learned to be okay with it, and actually love him all the more for it.

This year was no exception. It was magical, as the kids loved all of his thoughtful gifts (it should be added that they certainly didn't mind my gifts....books and clothes....but they obviously weren't the highlight of the day). Karaoke machine, 3DS, tanks, fighter jets, Nintendo Switch, dune buggy to name a few.

Paul was on call starting Christmas day through New Year's so the rest of Christmas week was spent exploring our new toys with Christina. A few times we went to the park to enjoy the dune buggy, drone, and laser guns given to us by the Eastons. We also snagged a movie or two. It was a perfectly lazy week, in all honesty.

Saturday morning the kids and I loaded up in the van to drive to Spanish Fork to visit Michael, Julia, and co. Christina flew off to Texas and Paul was stuck with a few more call shifts before he could join us Monday night. I spent my first 3 days in Utah alone visiting old friends...the Calders, Sara Garay and co, and Jenny Transtrum. We spent a very quiet New Years Eve alone in Michael and Julia's home, going to bed at 9:30.

Once Paul joined us, we did a few more fun Utah things...visiting BYU, seeing the lights on Temple Square, swimming, doing burger Saturday with the family, perler beads, board games, and just being together. The hopeful skiing didn't happen, since the mountains were literally bare. And we spent one evening at the Petersons who lived in Lubbock before. Always fun to rekindle friendships.

And Erik turned 1...what? My final baby just started cutting his first tooth around his birthday. He's such a good baby. Ever since we move to ABQ, he has been sleeping like a dream and is perpetually happy.

Then back to work, to homeschool, to a house full of Christmas decorations needing to be taken down.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

An extraordinary man

Last night I picked Paul up from the airport after a 3-day Y-90 seminar in San Diego. We went to a new (delicious) Indian restaurant, and I asked how the seminar went - if he felt it helpful, how he would be able to apply it to his work, etc. He started to explain to me what Y-90 actually is, how it works, and how he uses it to help people with liver cancer and other ailments. As he excitedly explained it to me, and showed me a new app that helps him properly determine dosage for his patients, I was suddenly reminded of how smart my husband is. He has spent the last 10 years of his life attaining a very specific skill set of knowledge. He actually understands the science behind radiation treatments, MRI technology, the inner workings of the human body, and can look at white/gray/black images and tell you what is the matter with somebody.

I was reminded of when I met him at BYU, back in 2004. I remember one of the first times talking with him, I told him I was a humanities major with an English emphasis. He opened a discussion on classic literature, and I quickly realized that the astrophysics major, math minor, pre-med guy in front of me was more well-read than I was! It was intimidating at first, but I soon fell in love with him and admired his great brain.

That admiration came rushing back to me last night as he sat across the table, attempting to explain a very complicated topic to his not-so-scientifically-minded-wife. I realized that through this decade-long medical journey we have been taking, he really has become expert at something. I sometimes forget, in the busy-ness that is my life of homeschooling, housework, and kids, that he almost lives another life at the hospital. For Hippa reasons, I never am able to see him at work, so it is sometimes even hard for me to imagine how he actually spends 60 hours every week. I sat there in awe of this extraordinary man who has worked so hard to learn something he loves.

Now, I don't write all this to brag about him, although I do think he's pretty great. I write to remind myself, and anyone else who might be reading, to stop for a minute. Take a look around at the people closest to you. At the people who you see day in and out, who you are with so much that you aren't able to see the changes happening in them. At those who you may take for granted. At someone you might not even take into consideration. At yourself. Take a second look at them and see something extraordinary in them. What makes them stand out to you? What makes them special? I know you’ll find something. I know it will be there. It is in all of us.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Lessons learned...renewal

A week before Christmas, my external hard drive started acting funny. I was immediately angry at myself, because, in the back of a drawer in the office, was a brand new external hard drive, one that I had bought at least two years earlier when our computer had crashed. Then, we had been able to recover everything, and I had immediately bought the extra external hard drive, in case we had troubles again.

But I didn't even open it. It sat in the back of the drawer for more than 2 years. I would see it and think, "Ya know, I should back up everything on to that today," and then move on and forget.

So the right before Christmas, when the hard drive started having problems, I immediately transferred everything onto it...but it didn't all transfer. In fact, most of the pictures didn't.

I felt sick. That terrible pit in the stomach we all hate feeling. I didn't want to deal with it. I didn't want it to ruin Christmas. So I unplugged both hard drives, and tried to push it to the back of my mind.

Christmas was wonderful, New Years was great, vacation in Utah relaxing. But in the back of my mind, in the pit of my stomach, the fear that those pictures were lost gnawed at me. Dreading having to deal with the reality of having lost all photos from 2006-2014 (2015-2017 were backed up on iCloud), I finally dropped off the hard drives at a repair store, and was told they'd do their best.

I didn't sleep much the next two nights. The pit in my stomach grew, being almost certain that all photos from Hattie, Anna, and Niels' births were gone. All of our time in Texas. Half our time in Wisconsin. So many memories. I prayed for a miracle, even just to be able to recover even some of the pictures, and asked the girls forgiveness for having made such a huge mistake. They were two pretty crappy days.

Then Thursday, the store called with the news that they had pulled a TON of data off the hard drive. For privacy reasons, they didn't open to check to see if everything worked, but they assured me that there was a lot there.

I started to hope. I still dreaded picking it up, and having to actually face it.

When I plugged it in, I nearly cried. It was all there! I skimmed through quickly...well, almost all there. They hadn't been able to recover pictures from November 2013 through 2017. But, remember, 2015-2017 were on iCloud. Which meant that I really only lost 2 months of 2013 and all of 2014.

All things considered, much better than expected.

And somehow (I think miraculously) 2014 was the year I was most active on Instagram and Facebook, before taking a 3 year hiatus. I also printed a photo book that year, AND it was the last time I blogged regularly on here.

Over the last two days, I've spent hours pouring over snapfish, shutterfly, facebook, instagram, and blogspot...and anywhere else...and I've pulled up about 330 pictures. And because those were the pictures printed and shared, they are among the best of the year. I've asked family and friends if they can search through their pictures and send me anything they've got with us in it.

I also have been uploading the pictures from 2006-2013 to Amazon Photos since 8 am. They are still uploading now...not even halfway done.

So, that was not a short story, but here's the lessons learned.

1. Don't wait 2+ years to back up your pictures. In other words, don't be dumb.

2. Have copies on your hard drive AND on the cloud somewhere. You won't regret the $ per year they may charge. I've had hard drives fail me twice now and just don't trust it anymore.

3. I really should instagram/facebook/blog more. I think in the past I've always viewed social media as a way to communicate with others. It certainly IS that, but it can be more. I need to view it as a way of documenting kids' lives more than anything.

4. Listening to promptings. I had seen that unopened hard drive SO many times...I even moved it across the country and packed it up. I felt so many times that I should do it. But I always had an excuse, a lame one.

After talking with a friend while swimming today, she talked about how she sets apart a specific time every week to blog, so that at the end of the year she can print it all out. I've always struggled with making the time to blog, between kids, house, homeschool...endless list. But after talking with her, I'm pretty sure I can budget an hour a week to sit down and write...there is always less tv for me to watch. I love writing. I used to be good at it. So here I am, with a new year and a new purpose, focusing on recording history for my family instead of only sharing it with others.

P.S. There will be pictures in the next post. I'm having to download all the iCloud stuff, and it'll take a while to get it all organized again.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Camping at last

A year ago, I was VERY pregnant with Anders, so although spring and summer were arriving (albeit very late in Wisconsin) I wasn't really keen on the idea of going camping with a newborn. By the time Anders was 5 months old and I was more willing to go camping, it was fall, and our weekends were consumed by Saturday soccer game. We even scheduled two camping trips, but had to cancel at the last minute due to rainy weather...not something we wanted to endure with 4 kids under the age of 6. So it was that 2014 passed with no camping trips.

So last week, when the forecast was actually projecting nice spring weather, we figured we should start the season out right (hopefully starting spring with some camping will help us go more all year). We found a state park about an hour away and had a quick little camping trip. I honestly don't know if I could camp much longer than 1 or 2 nights with little kids, especially a baby who crawls around in the dirt and doesn't know what is/isn't edible/dangerous yet. We had a great time and the kids are already asking when we are going again. 
Niels loved his new sleeping bag...and Anders actually slept in a pack n play in the van, with the windows cracked, giving us so much more flexibility.

Doesn't he have the most beautiful eyes?
Someone else had been climbing this tree just a few moments before them, and she fell out...needless to say, the girls weren't too anxious to climb very high.
This was probably the kids favorite part of the trip. Paul would slooooowly slide down by tucking his knees in close to him, while singing, "Slow-mo sliding, almost in reverse," sung to the tune of Star Trekking Across the Universe for you Dr. Demento fans out there. It became the theme song for the entire weekend...the kids are still singing it days later. Heck, I've still got it stuck in my head! They loved to get stuck behind him, all going slow-mo.

 And this is all Niels ever did with his s'more...just look at it, and think about eating it. He really doesn't like being messy....he's missing out on a lot!
And one final trip to the slow-mo slide as we drove out of camp, still in our PJs.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

In an effort to remain current on this blog, I think the easiest thing to do is post things about the kids, or squids, as my husband likes to call them. I don't have my phone cable with me now, and I currently have kids asleep in my bed (a thing I only allow when Paul works nights) so this post will be photoless:

On Thursday this week we were having a super play date. Sisters Savannah (a friend Anna's age) and Evelyn (Niels' age) were coming over in the morning, and Talmage, a friend from Hattie's primary class at church, was coming in the afternoon. But the playroom was a disaster, and I know from 7 years parenting that play dates go much better when the room starts out clean. So while I threw dinner in the Crock Pot, I sent them to the play room to get to work.  A few minutes into it, I realized they had composed a song. The lyrics:

Clean them up before they die!
Clean them up before they die!
Clean them up before they die!
Die! Die! Die!

Over and over again they sang it. They said it was the only way that they could get Niels to actually participate. I guess the simple "Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere" lost its magic on him. I didn't know if I should be concerned about the kids violence...instead I brushed it off, and was happy that they were all working together...happily, although perhaps violently.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Hattie just asked me if I knew how to post stuff onto this blog. It's our homescreen on our web browser and she is tired of seeing "C-section Soap Box" for the last 11 months. Understandably so. Sadly with homeschooling, certain things get neglected...laundry, clean house, this blog. At least on not neglecting my kids, right? So in order to change things up, here's some pictures from the last 7 months. (and Len, I have partially started this up again for you :)
Anders has been our sweetest, easiest baby

Niels is generally smiley and loves to make us happy

He likes to snuggle in my bed

Laura and her kids came to visit last summer

And we had to stop at the zoo train

4th of July (with friend Savannah)

Northern California coast for a Dame reunion

Loved the sand (with cousin Sophie)

The boys and I hung out while Paul took the girls kayaking

I think this was Anna's fourth birthday to be celebrated at Grandma Dame's house...and she is only 5. She associates her birthday with cousins at Grandma's house

Fun with sisters...minus Laura

While on a trip to the Oregon coast, Paul hiked Mt. Saint Helens...

While I took a day hike with the kids

Rose gardens in Portland

Awesome Iverson reunion t-shirts

Paul did another Tough Mudder

And I did a lot of homeschooling

He's become obsessed with trains...anything with an engine actually

Hattie turned 7

Anders just got cuter

Anna lost her first tooth

We visited beautiful Door County in Wisconsin...gotta go back again

And our Lego Movie Halloween

Believe it our not, this was actually part of a history lesson...yes, homeschooling is great :)

The first snow of a very snowy winter

Family pictures!!!

Entertaining Anders while we try to do school

And a very cold, fun Packers game in December

With any luck, I'll post again soon...knock on wood.