Sunday, November 30, 2008

California Roadtrip

Jeff is quite vocal where he likes to spend Thanksgiving. This would be in Southern California at my sisters house. His logic is that 70 and 80 degree weather in November is awfully nice. Can't argue with that. About a month and a half a go or so he brought up the idea of taking a detour and going to see the Sequoias. In the past we have been to Yosemite and have also seen the Coastal Redwoods in Northern CA. It has been about 5 years since any of these trips and he loves these massive trees. So the Trees became part of our Thanksgiving roadtrip agenda.

Last Saturday we drove with my parents to California. There we spent a few days in the Sequoia National Park area where we met up with my sister and her family. Following that we drove to her family's home in Southern CA for 3 days. We celebrated the holidays with some of D.J.'s family and my brother, Jared and his fiance Lisa. Yesterday we arrived back home to grey skies and cold weather here. Welcome home.

But the pictures tell a much better story.

I'd like to dedicate this trip to Jeff's parents, Scott and LaKay. Just kidding. Seriously, thank you for letting us borrow your motorhome!

My mom is a kindergarten teacher and had endless activities for the kids to do. When you are used to 48 students in a day, three adorable grandkids are a piece of cake.

The road entering Sequoia N.P. from Three Rivers (little town outside the park) had signs about the road not being advised for vehicles over 22 feet in length. The motorhome is 34 feet long. Did this stop Jeff? No. But should it have? All I'll say is I'm glad it wasn't peak tourist season. My man has some serious driving skills ;-)

So the next day we rented an Expedition to take into the park. The drive was significantly more enjoyable.

A bunch of motorhome driving, SUV renting tree huggers.

These trees are so mind boggling big!

The view out from Moro Rock. Some of our CA cousins: Tre, Reagan, Madison, and Grandpa Martin.

Megan loves this pink coat and wears it every chance she has.

I love this photo of Erik and the background deer.

Jeff is standing on a stump of a fallen Sequoia. Crazy!

My sister Heidi and her two girls, Madison and Reagan.

Tre, Jeff, D.J. and Heidi.

Josh and Claire. My kids would have had a lot of fun on the trip but being with cousins made it 100x's better.

We camped at an RV park (Kaweah Park) in the town of Three Rivers. We had the place to ourselves for the first two days. They also have tent camping available for the summer season. Highly recommend the place.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey, gravy, and gratitude a la mode

In early November Claire came home from Miss Angie's preschool talking all about "attitude of gratitude." She told me "Mommy, if someone does something nice for you, or your friend shares a toy, you should have an attitude of gratitude."

There is so much for me to be grateful for. Sure there is the crummy ALS diagnosis and the muscle atrophy continues. My strength is down easily 50% of what it previously was. I can do many day-to-day tasks but they take so much longer to do. So we have made some changes and have a cleaning crew come in once a week. There is a high school girl who comes over twice a week after school to help out with whatever needs to be done. She is great. Our freezer downstairs is stocked with some tasty frozen dinners donated by family and friends. It has been a huge help.

I was telling Jeff how while holding a friends newborn baby my arms became tired after just a few minutes. He asked me how I felt when things like this happened. I replied that I felt a combination of frustration, sadness, and embarrassment. In college a friend was diagnosed with Severe Aplastic Anemia. After diagnosis she was immediately admitted to the hospital and remained there until she died 3-4 months later. On one of the visits I told Trisha that I really missed her. She replied, "I miss me too." I finally get what she was talking about.

This blog is meant to be about my family: Jeff, Janae, Erik, Claire and Megan. The stories are written from my perspective so there are a few ALS updates but not many. If you are interested in how ALS affects a person in a day-to-day and month-to-month way I would recommend the book, "I Remember Running: The Year I Got Everything I Wanted - and ALS" by Darcy Wakefield and Jonathon Eig. This woman was diagnosed when she was 34. She is honest in her writing about what is happening to her body in a very non-whiny way. She just calls it like she sees it. The book is a quick but insightful read. The disease hasn't progressed quite as far with me as it did her at her time of writing.

Back to Claire's "attitude of gratitude." Because really, my attitude is the only thing I feel like I can control in this crazy situation. I'm grateful for Jeff, Erik, Claire and Megan. I'm grateful for the support and prayers of family and friends. I'm grateful for knowledge and teachings that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and has a plan for each of us. I'm grateful for the scriptures. Prayer is when we talk to God and when we read the scriptures is just one of the times when God can speak to us. I'm also grateful for the health that I still have. I'm grateful for this great big wonderfully gorgeous world of ours and that I can still get out and be amazed by it. And of course I am grateful for my always funny funny friends (blog ref.).

Thursday, November 20, 2008


There is the saying that trying to keep a house clean with young children around is like trying to shovel during a snowstorm. If that is true (which it is) then Megan would be our blizzard.

Her latest fav drawer would be one of mine in the bathroom. It contains all the items like finger nail polish, scented bath stuff, and monthly "chic products." (Guys everywhere are saying a collective "Ewwww") For whatever reason she is drawn to the item last listed and will sneak them out and scatter them around the house. The other day I walked in to find Megan peeling off the sticky back protector strips and attaching "chic products" to the cupboards, the walls, and her arms. They were everywhere. Don't you think 16 months is too early of an age to be honing prank skills for girls camp? Needless to say, the next project will be to put child locks on all our lower cupboards and drawers.

And the list goes on. I could ask, "Who unrolled this big pile of toilet paper onto the floor!" But I'm pretty sure I know who the offending individual is. It is either Megan or maybe Jeff (just kidding Megan...opps, I mean Jeff). She is a handful but we sure do love her.

110% Daddy's Girl. Here Megan is helping her Daddy make breakfast. He is a keeper. Jeff has had those Birkenstocks for over 13 years! Christmas is just around the corner but I don't think new Birkenstocks are the kind of thing a guy wants for the holidays. But I digress...

A rare moment of stillness.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Uncle Mike

Jeff's Uncle Mike died Tuesday in a plane crash. He was flying his plane, a Cessna 182, from Denver with the ultimate destination being Price, Utah. His wife, Colleen, reported him missing Tuesday night and on Wednesday search and rescue crews found his plane outside of Aspen, Colorado. Today (Thursday) they were able to finally get his body off the mountain.

We heard Tuesday night he was missing and were anxiously waiting further news. Upon hearing the latest we were absolutely floored because Mike was the kind of guy who could get himself out of any jam. He was so resourceful. Mike was as close to invincible as they come.

I took this photo of Uncle Mike from one of the Mazatlan trips. We often heard him say "Life is Good" and the picture reflects of his positive attitude. The entire family (Jeff's moms side) subscribe to the work hard/play hard philosophy. They will all pitch in and work incredibly hard and they will then play play play every chance they get.

Uncle Mike seemed to always be smack in the middle of all the action and any resulting stories. His family could fill volume after volume on his adventures. Some of our memories over the past few years include: Camping and 4-wheeling at "the hunting spot", Lake Powell trips, Mazatlan trips, hiking the Black Hole, lots of games (in Hearts who do we now pass the Dora to?), and wondering what the next matching Mike/Colleen outfit was going to be. From staying at their house overnight Jeff was introduced to putting peanut butter on french toast, and has since acquired a taste for the culinary creation. There aren't many men with grandchildren who while wakeboarding can do a flip (4+ in a row), but Mike could. Not all men act like a crazy-in-love newlywed towards their wife 27+ years later, but Mike did. Did you ever hear his laugh? If you were ever around him I know you did. He had a great laugh, and he really loved to laugh... a lot! A trait he and his wife passed onto their two kids, Spencer and Mikaleen, and their grandkids.

What a guy. We are really going to miss him.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween 2008

I remember being twelve and trick-or-treating with a group of neighborhood friends. We were having a really good time until we knocked on the door belonging to the Halloween Scrooge (cousin to the Christmas Scrooge). She took one distainful look at us and with irritation in her voice said, "You are too old to be trick-or-treating. This year really should be your last." The Halloween Scrooge then dropped one Smartie packet in our bags and shut the door. She was the poop in the parade that night if you know what I mean.

For years I was stuck with the idea that you don't go trick-or-treating after age twelve or thirteen. Then along came Jeff's brother, Brian, and his wife Erin. They are well into their twenties and still go trick-or-treating. My new line of thinking is that I don't care how old a person is that comes to my door, as long as they have taken the time to put together a decent costume.

Erik was a K-9 Police Officer. Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for bringing over their dog Sadie to complete Erik's costume!

Claire is posing to show off her witchy pink and green fingernails.

Our cute baby bunny, Megan.

I'm not quite sure what to do with all of their candy...

Throwing caution to the wind, our twenty-something trick-or-treaters...Napoleon and Deb.