Sunday, January 31, 2016

old friends

Weekend before last, Micah and I left the boys with his mom and headed out to Phoenix, AZ to visit some very dear friends.  While I was trying to explain to a co-worker who we were going to see and why we were such great friends, I began to realize that we had been friends for close to 16 years--which takes us back to before they had any kiddos (now they have 4), before Micah and I were married or even dating, back to when we were still in college.  We moved overseas together (and back again), lived an incredible amount of life together, experienced some really great highs along with some pretty devastating lows.   We often say that our friendships on our team on the field somewhat ruined us for regular friendships because we know now how great and how precious close friendships can be.  For a while we were lulled into thinking that type of friendship was the norm and easily accomplished. Hindsight, which you know, is 20/20.  Looking back now, I know that we poured a lot of time and effort into building those friendships and relationships and while things weren't always rosy and easy, the lasting effect on our lives has been huge.

We had the best time seeing their 'new' city (not quite two years new to them), enjoying the luxury of catching up over the course of a few days instead of a few hours, laughing and reminiscing, working through some of life's issues, dreaming about the future, maybe shedding a tear or two, and making some memories with their kids.  It was a sweet time together and we are already making plans for the next time we go back.

We arrived late Thursday night and Friday morning, we headed out to a great little breakfast place with Keifer their youngest while the older girls were gone to school.

One of my favorite things that we did was drive up South mountain which is kind of in the middle of Phoenix.  It was beautiful--more mountains in the distance, a cool view of the city, the airport with planes and landing and taking off.  We made them promise to take us hiking there the next time we visit.

Yes, their on shadows on our faces, but the view behind us is beautiful and I am so thankful for this dear friend in my life--she laughs with me, cries with me, prays with me and speaks truth and encouragement.  I hope that everyone has a Jill in their life.

I think this guy is pretty special too.

Keifer and Micah were fast friends. He turned three back in December and he lives life to the fullest!
I can't believe how grown up their kids are. I remember being at the hospital when Sophia was born.  Now, she is old enough to  babysit so that the adults could go out for dinner.  We even got to play a fun game of Bonanza with their whole family which was a fun time since we have been playing that game with Sean and Jill since we lived in France.


We feel so thankful that not only do Jill and I and Micah and Sean share close friendships, but that as couples we have such a great time as well.  What a gift their friendship is and we definitely treasure our time together.



And we really loved the mountains as evidenced by the number of selfies we managed to take :

And I just love this one of Micah because he looks like he is leaning over the side of the mountain.


I have read this post so many times and tried to re-write it because it doesn't seem like it does justice to our time there.  t was the perfect get-away for Micah and me.  It was precious time with friends who knew us pre-cancer, pre-med school, pre-kids, even pre-married.  We are so thankful for such sweet friends and the time to get away and visit them.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wednesday's Words

We have a friend who always asks the boys what they learned at school that day--which I like to ask as well, but for some reason, I rarely seem to get a thought out answer.  But, one day in December, he was at our house chatting with Micah when the boys and I got home and he asked and they promptly responded with "the number for the poison control center".  This was not exactly what I was expecting to hear from them, but their science teacher had taught them (and they learned it because they were able to rattle it off for us) in case they ever needed it.  It just cracked me up later because William then wrote in his Christmas card to his teacher "thank you for teaching us that number--I may need it some day!!"

Since that day, I have tried to be a little more deliberate about asking and persisting for answers about school days.   At dinner, we were talking about their day and discovered that William had been moved to the back of the classroom.  (as a teacher, I know that most students like to sit in the back, but thought I would feel them out to see if they viewed that as a good or bad thing)  They couldn't really think of any pros about sitting in the back row, but they had quite a few negatives--how far you have to walk to get to your seat (this was a big one), being the last one to get your papers, and being further away from the board.

My nephew Quentin who is a year older than the boys is in the midst of his science fair project (don't even ask me how I am feeling about the next two years of school when I have to supervise two science projects at the same time, two years in a row).  He made a particular type of cheese, one recipe made three different ways--I am going to be honest...none of them were very good.  My sister-in-law told me later that Xavier was practicing his Spanish on his comment sheet, declaring the cheese was "asi-asi" or 'so-so'.  Totally cracked me up.


We have our Wednesday routine.  After school, they come to my classroom, help me put away my books and things and we head to Sprouts for a weekly shopping trip (double ad Wednesday!) and then normally we will stop by QT for a little soda treat for them.  This week we were at Sprouts and in their clearance aisle, they had some candy cane cotton candy that William wanted to know if he could have.  I told him that he could trade that treat for his soda treat.  To which, he pondered and accepted.  His brother, on the other hand, declared that there was nothing better than sitting down and reading his Hardy boys book while drinking his soda.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

An observation on blogging

I have been continuing to slowly work on getting my blog posts moved over into the website so that I can have them printed into books.  While the website has a program that is very helpful in the process of creating the book, there is still a lot of adjusting, placing the photos in the correct places, changing the layouts a bit to make it just right, etc.  I have finished formatting for the years 2009 and 2010 and am partially through 2011.  After 2012, I think that everything can probably all be put it in one book--I maybe blogged 10-15 times throughout 2015.  I have been amazed at how much I have forgotten and am thankful that I blogged through those years.  Today, I have been working on creating a book from 2007-2008 from a Word document that I had copied and pasted the entries from a blog that we maintained through Apple's old blogging service.  I am a little sad because for some reason, my blog entries start mid-July 2007 and I think that the rest of those entries are just lost because of the way that their service worked.

What I am discovering is that since the beginning of my blogging, I have consistently not blogged consistently--did you follow that? And, in addition, I have apologized profusely for my lack of consistency and then proceeded to continue the same pattern.

This is what I have discovered:  this ol' blog was originally designed to keep in touch with people through treatment.  There were so many people who followed our story and prayed so faithfully for us and it was a way for me to communicate with them and to 'process' somewhat through writing all the emotions and difficulty of the transitions that we were going through.  In that Word document from my blog entries from treatment time, I actually have the comments copied in.  I decided to go ahead and include them in my printed book because they are precious reminders to me of the incredible number of people who prayed us through such a difficult time.

I kept blogging because I started taking photos and I had some incredibly cute little boys and I wanted a place to share photos and tell stories.

I stopped (for the most part) blogging because life got incredibly busy and because I didn't quite know how to 'process' out loud anymore. Looking back now, I can see how I was and have been struggling to know how to keep it all (whatever all is) together and write fun happy blog posts or even work through the 'non-fun' and 'not quite happy' when all of my emotional energy was just spent.  Looking back, I am seeing the toll that the last several years have taken....please don't read anything into that, it is just to say when life is tough, there is never not a 'cost'.  In some ways, it is just that we have been learning how to navigate life--a task that has sometimes asked more from me that I ever imagined.

I think that I am going to continue blogging because it is a good and fairly easy way to document our life, because I like to have a place to write occasionally, because I like to read about my sister's blog and see her pictures and read her stories and I assume my family would like to do the same, and because the boys love to go back and read about what they did or said (and let's face it, I am probably not going to remember).  I want a place where I can tell the funny and silly stories, share the cute pictures (if 10 year olds can still take cute pictures), and also record the good things that God continues to satisfy my years with.  He is faithful and He is good and I don't ever want to not remember.

Goodness, look at these little boys:

They sure have changed a bit, haven't they?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wednesday's Words

Today, I was chatting with another teacher who shared a conversation that he had had with another teacher's daughter who also happens to be in class with our boys--did you follow that?

Anyway, she had gotten an iPad for Christmas and she was telling him about it and somehow that led to how sorry she felt for the Derby boys because they weren't going to get phones until they were 15 and then they were only going to be flip phones.  I totally cracked up, because when they have asked we have normally replied that it will probably be when they can drive and Micah's has always followed that up with them only needing phones to make phone calls, so there wouldn't be a need for a smartphone.  I guess they were paying attention.

Last weekend, we made a quick trip to Phoenix to visit some friends (which I plan to detail another day), but as we were hugging the boys goodbye at the airport. Xavier grabs me and just starts saying "May the Lord bless you and keep you...." and he says the blessing that I say over him every night right back to me.  It was the perfect way to say goodbye to them.  We had a great visit with our friends, but I sure was happy to get home and get the hugs from my boys!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Golden Birthday

I did not know that there was a special term for having a birthday where you turn the age of the day of your birthday.  For example, the boys were born on the 10th and since they turn 10 this year, this is their golden birthday.

For the last few months, we have been talking about their birthday and what we could do.  Micah really wanted to have a marathon of watching Lord of the Rings with them since they are his favorite movies and he has been waiting for the boys to be a bit older before letting them watch the movies.  But, having a dad that is working long hours including nights the weekend of your birthday and having your birthday on a Sunday kind of hampers that plan a bit.  So, they got an early start and have been working on the movies since January 1.  The boys (all three of them) are loving it.  In fact, as I type this, they are finishing up the last movie in the other room--which I can hear quite loudly since these movies are evidently made to be watched in surround sound.
I can hardly believe that these two little stinkers are double digits today:

Last night as they were going to bed, I was telling them the story of what I was doing 10 years ago last night (having tacos at the Warrens and then spending a miserable night without sleep).  They asked me if I would give them a piggy back to bed since it had been a while and of course, I obliged, since it would be the last time that I could give my 9 year old boys a piggy back ride and who knows if they will have outgrown me by their next birthday and I will be totally unable to.

Xavier takes great pride in being the 'oldest' by 30 seconds....he loves to read, sings with all his heart, has a need to dance if he hears a beat, loves to please, melts my heart with his quick winks and is oh so quick to give a comforting hug at any moment he thinks I am in need of it.

William is his own person, he loves to read, to draw and to create, has a heart tender toward God and can bring out a spiritual application to almost every situation, he is hilarious and does most things with a willing heart and an encouraging spirit.  

These two love each other so much (although I do foresee some brotherly discord in our future) and immediately take this pose when asked for a picture.  It's their "classic" pose, they say.  I am so incredibly thankful for an entire decade of being their mama.  I can't hardly even imagine where the next decade is going to take us.  I can tell you this prayer for these two is that they continue to hold God close to their hearts, to follow hard after His will, to hide His Word in their hearts and to trust His plan for their good.  

My sweet babies are ten--I know they aren't really babies anymore, but I think I will always call them that.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Wednesday's Words

Over the last year, we--along with the rest of the world--have discovered the HGTV show Fixer Upper.  I love the houses that they re-do and it totally makes me consider (for a moment) whether we should have Micah looking for a job in Waco.

Recently, the boys have really been enjoying the show with me and they have made some pretty funny comments.

From William, towards the end of the show as Joanna is coming in to work her decorating magic: "hmmm....she really doesn't do that much on this show..."

From Xavier, as we are watching the bloopers and clips show: "Oh man, I love this guy, he is just hilarious, I tell you."

From both of them: "the shiplap!!! the shiplap!!"

Monday, January 4, 2016

Snapshot #4

Outside my window:  Some beautiful sunshine after a fairly dreary day. It is pretty, but definitely a cold day outside.  Of course, when I arrived to pick up the boys from school, I found them standing holding their winter coats instead of wearing them....

I am thinking: about the sermon from our church yesterday by Tommy Swindoll from our Nashville church on John 3:30 ( He must increase, but I must decrease).  I wrote this quote down: "When Jesus becomes more and I become less, my purpose and my joy increase."  That idea seems to be coming at me in several ways recently and it is resonating with me and calling me to work that out in my daily life.

I am thankful for: this medium (blogging) for remembering.  It is a relatively easy and reading through past entries has been good perspective (wow, I sure did talk a lot about how tiring parenting small children was and how regularly or not i was blogging) but it also has been good reminders of God's faithfulness and our family's story.

I am wondering:  how long I can keep it up this time :)

Last 3 purchases:  a new pair of tennis shoes, Q & A a day for Moms, a purse--thanks to some Christmas cash

Dinner plans:  the boys are on their own with leftovers, I have a meeting at a local restaurant

Future plans I'm looking forward to: visiting some dear friends in Arizona next weekend

Kid funny: Some friends had tickets to the Monster Jam show in Tulsa on Saturday night and offered their tickets to us when they were going to be out of town.  We didn't really know what to expect, but it was pleasantly a very fun experience and very family friendly.  When we got home, I asked the boys if they liked it.  Xavier very exuberantly says, "I didn't like it......I LOVED it!!"  They were quite enthusiastic.

I am reading:  Trinity Six by Charles Cummings, although only being a few pages into it may not really be considered reading. I have struggled of late concentrating long enough to read.

In the kitchen:  still trying to finish up the last of the Christmas cookies and homemade chex mix....I am probably going to have a little snack in a bit.

Watching: Thunder Basketball and looking forward to American Idol and Downton Abbey

On my frequent playlist: We listened to Needtobreathe Holiday and Pentatonix Holiday stations on Pandora through the month of December. I don't have a favorite song or CD I have been listening to lately, but more podcasts...getting caught up on Serial Season 2, the Slate Serial Spoiler Podcast, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, and the BigBoo Cast.

Snacking on: Chex Mix and Christmas cookies

Rest-of-the-day-plans: the first Monday of the month is our local cancer support group and I have been trying to get back in the habit of going.  We have been having over 20 women each month and it is a lot to take in sometimes, but I love seeing women take comfort in seeing and hearing that they are not alone.

And a picture--I had a hard time getting both boys in focus...but I got cracked up when I walked in to see the boys reading like this:

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year

Since Micah just finished up a month of nights in the ICU yesterday morning, he didn't really ring in the New Year with the boys and I--choosing instead to try to get his body back on the right track for sleeping during the night time hours.  But, the boys and I managed to stay up until the first minutes of 2016.


Micah had planned to take them to see the new Star Wars movie but when they went to our small theater in town discovered that the only seats available for that showing were in the front row. So, they chose to come home and he introduced the boys to the first Lord of the Rings movie which they were thrilled to see since they have heard Micah talk about these movies for their entire lives.  I contented myself to half watch while continuing to work on my blog book project.  (side note: back in 2011, I was counting gas at $2.95 a gallon as a gratitude....that made me even more thankful today when I noticed that it is down to $1.48/gallon now).  

After Micah went to bed, the boys and I played a game called Puerto Rico that I hadn't played in a very long time and they had never played. It is definitely a bonus about having older kids who can understand and enjoy playing some more complicated games--although my parents and Melissa and Brian might disagree after enduring a couple rounds of the game BANG! that is more than a little complicated--especially when you are attempting to learn this on Christmas Eve night when your kiddos are just a tad keyed up..... We watched a couple of episodes of Fixer Upper and an old Full House and that finally brought us to the final minutes before midnight.

Today, we made our annual visit to the mall with all the other crazies in town, but Micah did manage to spend some of his Christmas money.  Then, we all went and saw Star Wars this afternoon.  I even enjoyed the movie, but I really loved getting glimpses of the boys totally freaking out over the appearances of many of their favorite characters.  

I was talking to Micah last night about saying goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016.  In lots of ways, 2015 was the most challenging year of work for Micah bookended by months of ICU nights in January and December--throw in some other really difficult rotations and a bout with mono and we decided that yes, we are ready to say goodbye to 2015 and we are looking forward to the changes that 2016 will bring.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

On blogging and memory keeping

My sister who is the master blogger (and through the years has been the motivating force in convincing me to scrapbook which led to learning photography which led to Project 365 which led to Project Life--whew! that was a long parenthetical)--anyway, Melissa through the years has printed her blog entries by year through the website and the books have turned out beautifully.  It captures the memories in a way that her kids can easily pick them up and read through them.   A couple of years ago, I started the process and got fairly overwhelmed and stopped.  For some reason, I decided to revisit that project and have spent the last two evenings going through the painstaking process of making blog books from the years 2009 and 2010.

While I didn't read every story and every post, it was definitely an interesting look at our days back when the boys were turning 3 and 4, Micah was applying to med school, and we were traveling to New York for my reconstruction surgery.  There were definitely good days and not so good days and there were lots of cute photos and some pretty funny stories that I am sure never quite made it to a scrapbook page.  I am thankful for the record and I do think that it will be good to have them printed out.  The boys love to look through the scrapbooks and so I think that they will enjoy this. I also realized that  I spent almost an entire two years listing things that I was thankful for each Thursday and I hope that our family can be reminded of the many good things that God has done for us and continue this tradition.

So, why did I stop blogging?  The easy answer is that I started teaching school and life just got busy.  The harder answer, and perhaps the more accurate answer, is I think that life got harder and I didn't always know how to 'process' through that on the blog or to simply keep it light and fun when things didn't feel so light and fun.    The good news is that I haven't stopped taking photos and I haven't stopped recording our lives, although it has definitely taken a different form and there are probably some holes because I haven't taken the time to make a daily record. The years 2009-2011 were pretty high volume blogging years, the years since will probably only take one book to print and I am well aware that many of those posts included lofty goals of getting back to I am just going to leave that part out of this post.  I do have some ideas for some posts that I would like to write and you never know what the New Year will bring.

I definitely want to get back into taking good pictures in the new year, my poor camera has been very neglected which means that I am often frustrated with my photos.  And while it can be frustrating taking photos of almost 10 year olds--I sure do love those silly little boys and I want to remember these days.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

February Highlights

Apparently, I went on a little hiatus for blogging during the month of February.  As I think back to why exactly, I am not quite sure. It wasn't that February was especially full, although when I look back at the calendar, it is fairly consistent full with small things that add up to full evenings and then it is the weekend and those are always mad dashes to get laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping done, and attempt to not think about school work for at least one day.  We also added Sunday night small groups back in after having much of December and January off. And when you throw in the fact that February is shorter than other months, it really went by quickly.  I can't believe that we are almost finished with the first week of March!  I am taking advantage of two middle of the week snow days to catch up on blogging and Project Life.

So, here are some highlights from February:

1.  Micah was off of nights--
--that schedule is so hard for us--he would leave for work each night by 5:45/6 and then we wouldn't see him until almost 4 the next day when he was waking up.  That is just not a lot of time for the boys with their dad (or me with my husband).  We were thrilled to have him back in the evenings during February and even a few days of vacation for him.

2. Speech Meet!!  
Remember how not so excited I was about William choosing Chicken Little?  To be honest, for much of the weeks leading up to the competition, I was kinda nervous.  He was just not really putting in the time, but somehow that child flipped a switch and worked his little tail off and did amazing:

The actual performance was not quite as enthusiastic. I think the combination of nerves and having to wait almost 45 minutes in complete silence probably helped tone it down and we were so proud of him receiving a Superior rating.  I kept seeing him take really deep breaths and blow them out.  He would look at me and try to mouth something, which I totally could not understand.  When he got in the car that afternoon, he told me that he was trying to tell me how scared he was!

Xavier also did an excellent job in the Bible Memorization category receiving a Superior Rating as well.
And both boys are headed to the district speech meet in April--so we still have a few more weeks of Chicken Little at our house!

3.  Basketball--
It has been a wild ride this first year of playing basketball.  Their little team has struggled--mostly because of lack of practice time and many boys who have never played basketball before.  But....the Derby boys are having a good time.  After one particularly difficult game where our team did not score a single point, I was tucking Xavier into bed and thought I would check in to see how he was doing after the tough loss.  "So, what did you think about the game tonight?"  Xavier: "It was totally awesome."  They had a blast at every practice and every game.  While I would love to see them improve, I figure that having fun is part of the point of 3rd grade basketball.
This is a pretty good sample of their games.  William is number 5.

4.  Some snowy days--
Winter weather has been fairly non-existant in Oklahoma this year and while I can sympathize with those who have had snow days ad nauseum, as a teacher, I was kind of hoping for at least a few days. We did have a bit of snow on Presidents' Day that felt not quite as exciting since we were already off of school that day.  But, as luck would have it, we had a snow day on Tuesday.  Then, this past weekend, some snow rolled in on a Friday afternoon canceling a basketball game and that along with William having a stomach bug, Micah working all weekend, gave us a solid weekend of rest.  

Project Life for February: