Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cold Feet

I'm feeling a little gun shy about future triathlons. Did I really do five last summer? Perhaps it's because I haven't been on my bike in awhile. Or swimming consistently. Or running that well. Maybe it's the weather. Whatever the reason...I'm intimidated at the thought of another triathlon despite my experience and I'm lacking any motivation.

I was driving carpool today and listening to the conversation between Mckenna and our 5 year old neighbor. Our neighbor was saying, "I can't wait for summer when it will be warm so I can ride my bike again and swim in my pool!"

Mckenna's enthusiastic response was, "My Mommy rides bikes! And swims! And runs! That is called a triathlon and you go really far and have to be really strong like my Mommy! Then you get a necklace with a big circle medal on your neck!"

Maybe I found my motivation.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Publishing Your Blog II

After my last post I discovered this site, thanks to Alicia! The site in general reminds me of Shutterfly or something along those lines...but they also publish blog books.

There is a great 3 minute video that shows you how to go about turning your blog into a book...follow my link and click on "Blog Books" under the "Book Idea" box on the right hand side. Once you go to the "Blog Books" page there is a link that says "Watch the Video"...take a few minutes to see this if you're even remotely interested in the concept.

It looks fairly easy and I'm really excited and motivated now! Unfortunately it's one of about a dozen irons I have in the fire so I'm not sure when I'll get to it...but I will! And when I do I'll let you know...and if anyone else is inspired to try this please keep me posted!

Publishing Your Blog

One of the influential reasons that I started this blog was the idea that I could eventually publish my posts into a bound book and have a journal of sorts to include with my scrapbooks to pass on to the kids. I've been much more dedicated to chronicling their activities and my thoughts through this blog then I ever would have been in a traditional journal format.

I was researching the concept today and found this website. I'm still doing my research, but I've promised myself that since my blog has now been in existence for over a year in a half it is time to try to print 2006 and see how it turns out. Currently there are issues with printing blogspot blogs...this is what the site said

Why can't I print my Blogger blog? recently changed the behavior of their server to only provide the 15 most recent posts. Full archive support is expected in the near future. When access to older posts is restored, we will re-enable blogger support after we have completed testing.

Have any of you out there tried to have you blog printed? Whenever I end up doing this I'll be sure to post more about how it turned out. If you know of a better company to publish with please let me know!

Monday, January 28, 2008

What I'll Be Watching on Thursday!

Anyone else counting down, too?


I just sent Baileigh upstairs to get dressed for school. She went. But not willingly. Apparently there were about 5 minutes remaining in the episode of Little Bear that she was watching and I have ruined her day!

So she stomps upstairs. A few minutes later I hear music blaring from her room and hear her singing at the top of her lungs It's A Hard Knock Life from Annie. Isn't this kind of stuff supposed to happen when they are at least 9 or 10 and not 6!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Roller Derby Training

We hit the roller rink yesterday (literally at times) to skate off some energy and break in the girl's new skates from Christmas.

Our local rink has a great preschool skate session one morning a week. It's two hours long and is for kids ages 7 and under. The play good music for the little kids and do fun games like the chicken dance, limbo, hokey-pokey etc. Mom's skate while pushing strollers and there is no objections to kids Brooke's age dancing around on the rink. The girls love it and considering this was only their fourth or fifth time on skates their skills have really improved.

Papa got brave enough to try a pair of skates, too.
Brooke was having a blast walking with Baileigh while she was skating. Check out her moves.

Mckenna is still pretty wild on her skates but she is doing better. She wants to wear every pad we own...but she is a trooper and usually jumps right back up after a fall.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Papa's Visit

Papa is here visiting us this week. We haven't seen him in a long time so it's nice to have him here and for him to have a chance to get to see how much the girls have grown.
Mommy is always second fiddle when a grandparent is in town...that means I'm relieved of my normal duties like waiting at the bus stop. I'm okay with that...because it's freezing outside, but more importantly I like to see the girls bonding with their grandparents.

Monday, January 21, 2008

My friend, Sherry, was also a close friend to Carrie Pedersen and was able to attend the funeral service at the Academy. After she made a comment on my blog about the service itself I asked her if she wanted to share anything about the ceremony for anyone that had wanted to attend but was unable:

The service was beautiful and well done. If any of you have had the misfortune to attend a funeral at the Air Force Academy, it is always impressive and classy. Despite the bitter cold, snow and wind, there were soooo many people there. The Cadet Chapel was full and one friend of mine estimated 1,000 people in attendance. This is just a true reflection of the number of people’s lives that Carrie and Lucas touched in their short time here on earth. Some of her friends traveled from as far away as Europe to attend the ceremony.

The current women’s basketball team were pallbearers for Carrie and four ladies who had helped out by watching Lucas did the same for him. Watching the family follow them into the chapel was very emotional. It was hard to see a family of four split in half.

The service consisted of four speakers – Carrie’s Uncle, a family friend, the minister from Carrie’s parent’s local church, and a friend of Carrie’s from high school. They all spoke of the love Carrie had for life and people, how genuine Carrie was to EVERYONE and her kindness and giving of gifts and of herself. There were words of Lucas’s mischievous side and how he was an all American boy. Intermixed in the speakers were a few songs – Jesus Loves Me –requested by Jim for Lucas because Carrie always sang that to the children and then two other hymns.

When the chapel service was over it moved to the cemetery. The Association of Graduates has built a beautiful memorial pavilion at the academy cemetery for days like that day that are too cold to do a graveside service. It is a wonderful building with two all glass walls that look out to the cemetery so you feel like you are doing a graveside service. Carrie was given a full military service. The ceremonial part of a military service is so amazing. The honor guard folded the flag and then it was presented, along with her medals, to Jim and Ashley followed by a presentation of a flag, that had been flown over the cadet area, to Carrie’s parents. Then there was the twenty-one gun salute followed by the playing of taps.

The athletic department put on a reception for everyone where people were able to come and talk about Carrie and Lucas and truly celebrate their lives. It was an emotional day full of sad and happy tears as everyone spoke of different memories they have of Carrie and Lucas. Jim, Ashley, and family did a wonderful job, I know that Carrie was proud of them.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I'm still consumed with thoughts of the Pedersen family. Every two year old boy I see makes me think of Lucas. Every Volvo XC 90 makes me think of the crash pictures. Every red head little girl makes me think of Ashley. Every father/daughter I see holding hands makes me think of Jim.

On Monday, while many of us are enjoying the 3 day weekend with our families, there will be a memorial service for Carrie and Lucas at their church in Little Rock. The people that were a part of their daily lives during this assignment will have the opportunity to pay their respects and say their good-byes. The neighbors that played with their kids. The babysitters. The co-workers. The friends.

Despite the turbulence I still feel within my soul and brain on a moment by moment basis...I've also seen and experienced God at work in the midst of this storm. I've been receiving emails from strangers across the country. Strangers united by the thread of friendship found in Carrie at some point in their lives. Strangers who have expressed to me how God is using this situation to draw them closer to Him despite the troubling circumstances.

While you've been reading this you've been listening to "Praise You In The Storm" by Casting Crowns on my playlist. I was just mopping the floor when this song started playing and it immediately make me think of the Pederson family. I remember crying when I heard this song on the way home from dropping Brad off for his 120 day deployment. I thought of this same song in light of the death of Carrie and Lucas and it gave me perspective on all the things we'll consider storms in our lives. In reality, our storms are so often just cloudy days that we stress over or exaggerate in terms of their significance. I pray to God that when and if you face a true storm you are still able to experience the grace of God and praise Him in the storm.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

They Keep Me Smiling

At some point in time I know I have to give myself permission to turn the corner with my posts. The antics of my children throughout the day start to seem trivial when pondering ones own mortality. Yet those same antics are the things that bring joy to my life everyday and remind me of the many blessings bestoyed upon me.

Below are some highlights of the past week. Nothing special or specific, just my girls being the "silly goof-balls" they are, as Mckenna would describe. She has been growing out her hair and it's finally long enough for a pony tail. She is very excited about this fact!

Baileigh begged me to braid her hair one night so she could sleep in the braids and have curly hair. This was the result. She was thrilled with the new look. Can anyone say Daryl Hanna from Splash!

Brooke is finicky with bananas but when she is in the mood she will devour one. She was having a good time eating her banana the other day so I took a few pictures. She insists on holding the entire banana and throws a fit if you try to peel it for her.
At one point I asked her to say "cheese" and she actually looked up and said "cheese" which is a first...usually if I try to get her to smile she'll turn and run or look away. Progress!
It snowed briefly the other day. Mckenna had fun enjoying the flakes while we waited for Baileigh's school bus.

Baileigh wanted to take a shower the other night but didn't want to wash her hair. She has incredibly thick hair and it takes forever to dry. I wasn't opposed to her request but couldn't think of any way to keep her hair dry. She wanted a shower cap like "Nana" but I don't have any...but when she said "cap" it made me think of my swim caps. This was the result. Apparently Brooke was bored with her meal.
We got these little kids couches for Christmas from Nana. While the girls like them and use them daily...I think Ranger is the biggest fan.

Tough Day

Today, in about 30 minutes mountain time, funeral services for Carrie and Lucas will be held at the Air Force Academy Chapel. Mother and son will be buried beside each other at the Academy cemetery.

As if this past week hasn't been emotionally draining in and of itself for all those that knew and loved the Pedersens...I'm sure today will be heart wrenching.

Please keep them in your prayers.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Thoughts

I've been doing a lot of thinking. It's funny how sometimes this blog feels like the most comfortable forum for me to voice my thoughts and other times I just want to be alone in my head to wrestle with things.

It's sad that it takes tragedy to remind me of my own finiteness and the truth of the reality that we're not promised tomorrow. I've been fortunate to have a lot of wise people in my life that have ministered to my heart in various ways this past week and have helped me use my confusion and anger to strengthen my mustard seed faith.

A friend emailed me an excerpt from a book that reminded me of the necessity for faith in my life, despite circumstances that make absolutely no sense when seen through our tunnel vision:

I call My people to LIVE BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT. Sometimes that will be frightening: like diving into water so deep that is seems bottomless. You need utter trust in Me to push through your fear into those unknown depths. After diving in , though, your buoyant body will gradually rise to the surface. You keep swimming till you're exhausted. When you can go on no longer, you begin to sink. However, just before your head goes under, your feet touch something solid! You realize My hands are beneath your feet. I am your refuge and dwelling place; underneath are the everlasting arms.

As for God, his way is perfect.....He is a shield for all who
take refuge in him. 2 Samuel 22:31

We live by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7

The eternal God is your refuge and dwelling place,and underneath
are the everlasting arms.
Deuteronomy 33:27

I have read a lot of the Psalms this week and am reminded in its words that others before me have experienced the same questions and emotions. In my grief, a friend also reminded me of the Bible story of Jesus and Lazarus. There are really only a handful of accounts of Jesus crying in the Bible. One such scenario is when Lazarus died. Jesus saw the weeping and wailing of those who loved Lazarus and he was troubled and he cried, too. That is easy to just read and dismiss...but really think about it for a minute. Jesus, Holy even as a man on earth, showed that he cares enough for us to weep with us in our sorrows. That God not only loves me unconditionally and cares about me personally...but he grieves with me!

While I've been trying to wrap my brain around all that stuff I've continually been reminded by something that our pastor said at the Christmas Eve service a few weeks ago. His son-in-law of only a few months was in a serious car accident just the week prior. He flipped his SUV and it rolled several times. He was fortunate enough to walk away from the accident relatively unscathed. However, there was a period of time when nobody knew his status or whereabouts. He had last been heard from on the cell phone with his mother when he started to yell and then the phone went dead. In those long hours before he was able to call home from the hospital the family wondered and worried about his fate.

Our pastor talked about all the thoughts and scenarios running through their heads as they waited. He worried that his son-in-law had been killed. He thought about his daughter going from a newlywed to widow in her young twenties. He wondered what he would say to the congregation on Christmas Eve if they were in the midst of such a tragedy. As he grappled for answers the realization came to him that regardless of the circumstances, the situation didn't change anything about God! The circumstances for his son-in-law's physical well being may change. His daughter's marital status may change. The family unit may change and the challenges and struggles and issues they would face would change.

But God did not change.

Nothing changes Him. He is not more or less faithful to us despite our lack of understanding or confusion or anger. He does not love us more or less based on the size of our faith. He does not care about our circumstances more or less on any given day. God's goodness is not determined by the joy or tragedy of our circumstances. I believe that. I don't always feel it. But I know it in my heart and believe it's truth.

God does not change.

The Pedersen's family is forever changed. It happened in such a tragic and heartbreaking manner that shakes the faith of the strongest believers. But God's love and concern and awareness for Jim, Carrie, Ashley and Lucas and those now grieving them didn't increase or decrease on January 6, 2008. There was no need for him to care more about them in that circumstance then any day prior. He didn't need to change because his love and compassion and grace and concern and acceptance and peace and forgiveness and whatever else you can think of are never lacking. God does not change.

Thank God, literally, that he is steadfast even in our most turbulent times of life. His love and concern for Jim and Ashley and their family will not diminish over this next year as they begin to grieve and heal and transition into the reality of their lives. He will not be any different when I, or you, face another trial or tragedy in the future. He will be there to listen when I vent. He won't retaliate when I'm angry. He'll relate to me when I cry. He will listen to me when I call.

God does not change.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Psalm 55:2-3
O God, do not ignore my plea. Hear me and answer
me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught.

Psalm 139
O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely.
You hem me in- behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Phone Call

Today has been tragic. Literally. I got a phone call. A phone call that stops everything. A phone call that rips your heart out. A phone call that makes you want to throw up. A phone call that puts life in perspective.

Yesterday, Air Force friends of ours were in a fatal car accident. Carrie Pedersen and her two year old son, Lucas, were killed. Her husband Jim is hospitalized with a broken neck and their six year old daughter, Ashley is in ICU.

Those 3 sentences I just typed still don't really register in my mind. At moments they seem like facts. Other times I say them or read them and I cry uncontrollably. Or run and hug the girls extra tight.

Why do we need phone calls like these to put life in perspective? Why are we so easily distracted and consumed by the trivial that we continually loose sight of the eternal.

22 Months Old

Today is Brooke is 22 months old. When did my baby become a toddler?

She has had 7 haircuts. She has 12 teeth. 2 cutting through. She is starting to wear a 2T. Her eyes are still changing...more and more each day from hazel to green...or maybe that is wishful thinking so she'll have green eyes like Mommy. She weighs 23lbs. She sleeps 12 hours most nights and takes a 2-3 hour nap most days. She sucks her right thumb while holding her taggie blankie. She likes cheese, pancakes, grapes and loves "pop-pop" (popcorn).
She has a ton of personality! She defies the laid back third born birth order theory. Although, she is a little comedian. Like in this picture...she was getting a good laugh out of her sisters by biting the banana peel so she continued to do it over and over enjoying the attention.
She spends her play time taking care of her babies, cooking in her kitchen and feeding her babies, chasing her doggies and dressing up and stomping around the house in dress up shoes as loudly as she can.
She is outspoken (is that possible considering she doesn't really speak?) and stubborn and strong willed. She is also sweet and sensitive and silly.

A perfect example happened tonight. Mckenna hurt herself and was crying. Brooke ran from the other room to check out the situation. She came up to Mckenna and gave her a hug and then did a silly dance in front of her to get her to laugh.

She loves her "taggie" blanket and won't sleep without it...while sucking her right thumb, always the right. She is still a good eater but has unfortunately discovered junk food after Halloween and Christmas and seems a little less passionate about salads and veggies.

She isn't big on photos and is a moving target. Recently she has even started a game of peek-a-boo in order to avoid my camera.
She has the best belly laugh. You can't help but smiling when you hear it...I managed to get one on video while tickling her. We should all have a good belly laugh every day!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Anniversary Date

So, as if you can't guess...we went to NY for our anniversary date. We took advantage of Grandma and Grandpa being in town to spend the night in the city and enjoy a Broadway show. The Lion King was amazing!
If you look closely over the Toshiba sign you can see the crystal ball illuminated as they were testing it in anticipation of the New Year's Eve celebration the next night.
We had dinner in Grand Central Station at The Michael Jordan Steak House. We thought it sounded a little gimmicky, but it was a a nice restaurant and a great meal. There was a Kaleidoscope show that went every 30 minutes and was set to music and illuminated and moved across the walls of Grand Central. Our table was up along the balcony with a great view below. It was beautiful and pretty neat to watch a terminal filled with hundreds of people below stop and watch the lights.
Grand Central Station.
This is one of the store windows at Lord and Taylor. We passed by as we were walking around the city. Since it was late and raining there weren't any crowds (finally!) so we were able to get up close and get a good view.
The next morning we walked from our hotel (next door to the Chrysler bldg) to the United Nations.
Despite Brad's disdain for the UN, he wanted to take the tour.
The city was still busy but it felt much more relaxing without an agenda or children! It was nice to get away for a night and spend some time together and look back on the past 10 years.

Holiday Windows in NYC

Last week we took Brad's parents up to NYC for the day while they were visiting. Brad's Mom wanted to see the famous holiday store window displays. Although they were beautiful...let me advise you to watch the annual "Holiday Window Special" on HGTV every'll probably see the windows better from the comfort of your own couch and it will be a lot less chaotic!

We took the Staten Island Ferry into Manhattan. If you look closely you can see the Statue of Liberty behind the girls in the picture below. This was Brooke's first NYC trip and Mckenna's first since moving back to the east coast.

We visited the Macy's windows first. They truly were magical and beautiful, just extremely crowded!

Stealing a kiss from Daddy in Central Park.

The older girls went on a carriage ride with Grandma and Grandpa.

We also went to the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue. The entire side of the building has illuminated snow flakes that light up in correspondence with music. We got "stuck" on that street and really couldn't even see the windows. MAYHEM!

Continuing in our quest to seek out the most crowded places in NYC we went to Rockefeller to see the tree and watch some skating.

The highlight of the day had to be the amazing weather! The crowds were almost bearable because the temperatures were in the low 50's and a clear sunny sky! We had all layered anticipating a cold day and we were peeling off our layers.

I'm glad we were able to take Brad's Mom to NYC since this had been a dream of hers, but I think I'll be satisfied watching the special on HGTV next year from the comfort of my will be a lot less crowded!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Game On

If you follow my blog at all you'll know I'm a fan of The Biggest Loser. I'm thrilled that they are starting another season tonight! As I type I'm watching The Biggest Loser Couples...the perfect show on a day filled with weight related New Year's resolutions.

There wasn't one couple that stood out as a favorite to me...maybe the two former football players or the couple that just met, or the mother/son team. Regardless, we're jumping on board and having our own Biggest Loser Couples competition at home. Yesterday we created a spread sheet and entered our starting weights. Brad is hoping to get some guys from his class to compete with him and I'm hoping to find a few interested friends. I figure the more accountability I have the better! Anyone interested?

I've got not only the New Year's resolution fever but I'm also motivated by all the toys Brad gave me for Christmas. All my gifts had a triathlon theme and included a new tri backpack (complete with it's own stool that attaches to the bag), IPod Nano and a Shuffle and a waterproof kit so I can swim laps with my shuffle!

Although I have 5 tri's under my belt I feel completely overwhelmed at the thought of a triathlon right now. I've maintained my gym schedule but my eating habits have been terrible and my workouts have been a result I've gained some weight and regressed in my swim, bike and run. I thought that finding a triathlon to specifically train for would also help so I have my sights set on the Black Bear Triathlon in the Poconos. So with all that said, I'll be at the gym tomorrow morning.