Thursday, May 30, 2013

Memorial Day....part 2

After stopping at my Grandpa's, since we weren't too far from Des Moines, Jon decided to take us shopping.  We went to Jordan Creek Mall - but of course I had my usual luck - NONE!  So we decided to head home.  We thought it would be fun to have a hot dog roast with the kids in the new fire pit.  This is how it went down:

Jon told the boys to break up these sticks into smaller sticks.

Then he added a seed sack to the bottom of the pit.

Then we added our little sticks and paper to start it.

When nothing else works - get the diesel fuel!
Because of all the rain our fire pit had water in it.  We tried our best to get a fire going but had no such luck.  We had to resort to the grill.  Not quite as fun as cooking your own hotdog over the fire, but it sure did taste good!
We also played  h-o-r-s-e and a little one-on-one basketball.  Over all we had a nice Memorial Day just hanging out spending time together as a family. 

The Beginning of Demolition!

Well, there are a couple of reasons I haven't blogged in awhile.  One, I've been sick.  And two, it has been crazy busy around here.  School is now over!!  I'm looking forward to having the boys home, spending time together and "making memories."  We were almost done with planting before all the rain happened.  And we are working on gutting the basement.  Our basement walls need to be fixed and in order to do that we have to gut the whole entire basement.  So we have been working on going through things, packing them up and getting them out of the basement.  So since it has been raining we've got Jon around to start working on that.  It's amazing the things you find and how different a room can look when you take out some carpet and tear up some walls and ceilings!  Here are a couple pictures of some of the progress we've made so far. 

The boys REALLY enjoyed this part!! I must admit I did too!

No carpet, or ceiling, or paneling.  Ready to take out the drywall.

"Lake Ferguson"

While we were traveling to cemeteries on Monday we ran into some flooding.  Mostly when we were around Union Mills.  We drove past the cemetery to the bridge - the North Skunk and found the following:
Well on the west side of this river is my Dad and Uncle Joe's field and pasture.  So we drove around the long way because the road that normally leads you to this field looked like this:
We finally got around to the other side to see the highest waters I've ever seen (in my lifetime) in this field.  It has flooded before, but never this high.  Thankfully my Dad, Uncles and cousin were able to move all the cows and calves before the water got too high.  My Dad has told the two people that live by there that their property value has just increased since now they have lake side property next to Lake Ferguson!  Way to be optimistic Dad!!  Here are some pictures of "Lake Ferguson."
This is the entrance to the pasture with the gates.

Straight ahead is normally a field.

Memorial Day

Jon and I had talked about taking the boys around to the different cemeteries where most of our relatives are buried.  We both remember going around with our parents doing the same thing and thought it would be a good idea to take the boys.  I know that they had been to most of the places, but also know that they had never been up to where my grandparents are buried.  I always liked doing this as a kid - it made me ask questions about those people that I never knew - questions I may never would have asked had we never been taken there.  I was hoping this would help our kids to ask those questions to learn more about their great grandparents.  We started off at Union Mills Cemetery.  Here we were able to "visit" TJ, Uncle Todd and many Ferguson relatives.  It was raining - so we didn't stay long.  Next was Forest Cemetery in Oskaloosa.  While there we saw Grandpa Boender, Aunt Delores and some other non relatives.  We grabbed a bite to eat and headed onto Leighton Cemetery where Grandpa and Grandma Goemaat are.  There were also others we saw that I never knew were there.  Our last stop took us all the way to Collins, IA where my Grandma and Grandpa Carson, my cousin Michael and Aunt Mildred are.  While we were in Collins we drove by my Grandpa's place and showed the boys where I used to go when I came to visit my Grandpa.
It may seem odd, but it is always interesting to go to the cemetery.  I always like to see what people put on their stones.  How old people were and the other little bit of information you can find out about someone all from their stone.  I also like how going to these places floods your mind with all the memories you have of that particular person.  After stopping in Collins, I had so many stories to tell my kids about my Grandpa Carson.  Some of them weird memories I have, while others are very fond ones.  I often wonder what kind of memories are my kids making to one day tell their kids. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It's been a rough day and it's only what time?

This morning started off a little better than usual mornings - all in the sense that I woke up before the kids and was able to shower before it was time to wake them up!  I got them all up, showered, fed and off to school and then it all went downhill from there.  I should rewind just a little bit.  Last night our small group went to the Serenity House (where TJ was for six weeks) to help do a service project.  We swept and power washed the decks, cleaned patio furniture, planted pots and washed screens.  I so desperately wanted to go and help.  The Serenity House had done so much for our family and I really wanted to give back - I just knew it was going to be hard.  It wasn't like this was the first time we had gone back there - I just had never gotten past the front desk when we have visited.  I wasn't sure beforehand all what we were going to do and where we might end up - it made me a little nervous.  I was thankful it had rained the day before so Jon was able to come.  Well, I think going back brought back some memories.  We went around back to the basement to get all the stuff out to clean.  Although now there are beautiful flower gardens - I remember the open grassy area that was there a year ago where my kids played kick ball and baseball, the sidewalk where my kids played with sidewalk chalk.  We worked a lot in the driveway - by/in the garage.  I couldn't stand being in the garage.  That was the hardest part for me.  I remember the very first day we arrived at the hospice house.  They had opened that garage door for us to drive our vehicle in (for privacy).  I remember trying to get our son out of the van and into a wheelchair and then into the house.  This was a memory I hadn't really thought of for a very long time however - those memories quickly came flooding back yesterday.  And the other memory I have of that garage was the day Mike (from Bates) came to pick up our dear sweet TJ after he had gone to be with Jesus.  That was a memory I was hoping to never remember again - well it came rushing back yesterday.  And now I have that visual back inside my head.  I tried my hardest to stay out of there - but it just couldn't be avoided.  It was nice to go back and see some familiar faces I hadn't seen in awhile - which also brings back memories.  Nancy was the nurse on duty last night - we have some very special memories with her.  She was the nurse on duty the night the power went out.  She was the nurse that told us we were young and if we needed some time alone to leave a towel on the door and they would not disturb us!!  (I had to share that with you all - that's a whole other story to tell someday).  She was kind, sweet and genuine - we love her!  There was a part of me last night that felt as if I was home again.  Kind of like when we revisited the PICU.  I asked if anyone was in the Daisy room (the room TJ had been in) - and there was.  One of these days I want to go back there and just sit on that bed, look around and have a good cry!  I honestly think it could be good for me.  So, fast forward back to today.  The boys had all gotten on the bus and I was home alone.  I started to pick up the house because it honestly looked like a tornado had gone through it.  Well, Will had gotten out the photo albums that Margie had made for TJ's benefit and they were laying on the floor.  I needed to put them away - I didn't - I just sat there and looked at them as I sobbed like a baby.  And still continue to - I just can't stop today.  I miss him like crazy.  I so desperately want to turn back time - to talk to him, to hold him, to hear his voice and laugh, to see that beautiful smile and to witness that wild personality of his.  To just hug him and tell him one more time that I love him.  People keep telling me that he has a much better room now - that he is having the time of his life.  And while I'm glad they can think like that - I can't.  I can't but think about the earthly TJ - who got homesick while he was at church camp - and it makes me so extremely sad.  I think he would be much better off here with his family who is now so incomplete without him.  I long for the day when we reunite - what a glorious day that will be.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


So, Sunday when we were over at my parent's house, Charlie found a baby kitty.  That's not a rare thing to find, however it was odd that he could catch it and carry it around with him.  Of course he asked if he could keep it - I was quick to answer "I don't think so, it looks pretty little and it might need it's mommy."  Well, he kept carrying the thing wherever we went.  Both my Mom and Dad were quick to tell him he could take it home - you see I gave them one of our puppies, so they were more than ready to pass along a kitty to us!  I should rewind here just a bit - I'm not the biggest cat lover.  First off, I'm allergic to them.  Second, they can be so annoying - walking right under your feet at the most inappropriate times.  Plus I really didn't want this kitty - I knew it was going to require some extra doing on my part.  We tried feeding it in a little saucer while we were over there - which she didn't have figured out.  Well, just before we were getting ready to leave Jon told Charlie that he was fine with taking the kitty home as long as I was ok with it.  Oh sure, make me be the bad guy.  I caved and let him have it.  So, remember we went over to Jon's parent's house and then came back to my parent's house.  Well, once we came back we tried to convince Charlie to leave it with some other kitties we found in the hay bale ring.  We saw a mommy cat coming around so we thought we would try it.  Well, unfortunately for me and fortunately for Charlie the mommy had nothing to do with it - in fact she laid right on it!  I found that odd - when I was growing up all the mommy cats shared their babies with all the other mommies.  So, Charlie went from being completely broken hearted - to the happiest kid on the planet!  Mom and Dad let us borrow their dog kennel they used when we had given them the puppy.  So we brought the kitty home, tried feeding it again and set up her cage for bed.  The next morning we tried feeding it - again it just wasn't getting the hang of it.  I waited until Charlie came home from school to feed it again (11:30ish).  He quickly grabbed it out of it's cage from the garage and brought it in the house so we could feed him.  I got it's milk all ready - I dipped his head in the plate and he fell over.  I seriously thought she was dead.  I made the mistake and said that to Charlie - he quickly poked her and she faintly meowed.  So I grabbed a syringe (you know the ones the pharmacy gives you to give medicine to your kids) and filled it with milk.  I tried my best to shove it in her mouth and slowly release the milk so I didn't drowned her.  I made a huge mess, but something must have gotten in because she perked up a bit.  We did this almost every two hours on Monday.  She was doing much better by the end of the night.  I'm glad to say that this morning when we went to get her out of her cage (which we couldn't find her - she was hidden under the towel) she was not dead!  She is doing much better and is really getting the hang of eating out of that syringe.  Of course it has now become my project - to which I keep telling myself - I can't believe I'm doing this - it's a crazy cat!  It's amazing what you will do for your kids!!  We still have yet to come up with a name for her - the boys each have a different name that they want to call her.  So, one of these days we will come up with a name - for now we just call her kitty!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Congratulations! It's a....girl!

In the summer of 2011 my Uncle Steve had a cow that had twins.  We were asked if we wanted a bottle calf - to which we answered YES!  We thought the boys were old enough to help take care of her.  So we cleaned up the cattle shed and made room for our new calf.  Of course we had to decide on a name - Hawkeye!  I guess the boys must have decided it was TJ's calf because he was the one that basically took care of her!  He did a pretty good job.  In fact for his 10th birthday he asked for a rope halter, scotch comb and pitch fork.  I do believe he thought about making her a 4-H project for the next year.  However, TJ got sick and Hawkeye quickly became everyone else's project.  We couldn't bear the thought of getting rid of her, so last summer we turned her out to pasture with my Dad's (Grandpa and uncles) cows and bull.  We made sure to put a green ear tag in her with her name on it!  This is not quite how Ferguson Angus do it - but we wanted to make sure we would know which one Hawkeye was if we were ever to go visit her in the pasture!  Well turns out a different Ferguson bull got in with the cows - so we weren't exactly sure when and who bred Hawkeye.  We've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of her calf.  We stopped over at Mom and Dad's to wish Mom a Happy Mother's day and thought we would go check on Hawkeye.  To our surprise she was getting ready to have her calf!  Jon was able to help Dad get her in a pen.  They had a graduation party to go to so we left and decided we would come back later - to see if she had had the calf yet.  While we were over at Jon's parents house my phone rang - it was my dad.  Here is what he said:

Dad, "well you lost a heifer!"
Me, "Yea?!  She became a cow!?"
Dad, "yep!  She had a heifer and it's all black!"
Me, "We will be over after bit to see her"

(Just a little background information...growing up we quickly learned the difference between a heifer, cow, bull and steer!  If we ever mixed them up we were quickly corrected.  It bothers my dad when you generalize cattle by calling them all cows even if they aren't!  Well since I spent so much time with my Dad growing up - I quickly developed this same characteristic!  This explains why Dad told me I lost a heifer!)

So, after we spent some time over at Jon's folks we stopped back over at Mom & Dad's to check out Hawkeye's calf.  The boys were excited and are now trying to decide what we should call the new baby!  I know that animals don't celebrate holidays - but I found it fitting that Hawkeye became a mom and Mother's Day!  TJ would have been so excited to see his bottle calf have her first calf!  Kind of a bittersweet moment.  Of course I didn't have my good camera with me, so I took a picture with my phone.  It's not the best picture, but it will do.  Here she is:

I think Hawkeye is going to make a good mommy!  I'm anxious to get over there again and see how they are doing.  Now we just need to come up with a name.  My sister suggested Cyclone!  I don't think so!!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Doctor Visit And A Trip Down Memory Lane

Will has always struggled with running, jumping and most things that require the use of his legs.  We have taken him to a couple of orthopedic doctors and the only thing they can tell us is that he is extremely flat footed.  Yes this is true, but I know of athletes who are flat footed who can run and do other physical things very well.  The summer before he started kindergarten we were able to get him some inserts made that he wears in his shoes.  This has helped out, but he's still not where I think he should be.  While he was having his pre-op physical for his eye surgery our doctor did an exam and she also noticed muscle weakness in his arms as well.  With all of these concerns we decided to look into it a little further - an appointment to Iowa City to a pediatric physical therapist was scheduled. This appointment was scheduled for yesterday (May 10).  The PT who examined Will was such a nice lady - she had such a sweet spirit - I instantly liked her (as I believe Will did too)!  She asked us a few questions and then did an exam on him.  She had him do different types of "exercises" and would evaluate him - she scored him for each thing he did.  When he was all done she came up with a final number and an age that he was comparable to.  His number was low.  The age she told us sometimes is irrelevant - because each kid is so different - it's hard to say that he is comparable to someone of ______ years old.  However, she did give us an age - to which it didn't surprise me.  However, she didn't really feel like there was much we could do.  She didn't think he was bad enough to require physical therapy so many days a week.  She also didn't feel like he had Muscular Dystrophy or anything like it - he just didn't show any usually signs of that.  So she gave us some papers with different exercises on it to do at home - ones we don't have to do everyday.  She also encouraged us to have him sign up for community/school sports to keep him active and that we would come back in a year.  However, she did give me her card and encouraged me to call her whenever I had questions, concerns or if anything changed.  So, I guess you could say I was slightly disappointed when we left.  You see, Will is starting to notice in school that he can't keep up with the other kids.  The days he has PE - he doesn't want to go to school.  I honestly don't know what more to do to help him.  I've been struggling with these thoughts - when do I accept the fact that this is the way Will is and encourage him in other areas where he may thrive or do I keep pursuing people to see if this "one thing" could help him and make him "normal" like all the other kids?  It's a constant battle I find myself in.  I don't know!  My heart just breaks for him and I so desperately want to help him the best that I can -I just don't know what more to do.  So, I guess for now we will keep having him wear his inserts, work on those exercises to strengthen his muscles and just encourage him the best we can in all that he does!

That was part of our day yesterday, however, since we would be going back to some familiar stomping ground I called up Mary - an amazing woman who did so much for our family when we were there with TJ.  She was going to be there and even offered to go up to the PICU with us.  I had told her some concerns I had with going back to visit the PICU.  First I was afraid of all the memories flooding back - would I be able to handle all of it - we spent a good time up there - and gained a second family!  However, my second concern was that we would go up there and nobody would know who we were - which I thought would be just as devastating.  I was so thankful she offered to go up with us.  I asked Jon if he thought he would remember how to get to Mary's office - to which he said no.  But once we parked the car it all came back to me.  We walked thru those big double doors and it was like we were stepping back into time.  Jon even made the comment on the way over to Iowa City how he wished we were coming for a follow-up appointment with our first born instead of the appointment we were having with #3.  I can hear it now - "Yep, everything still looks good - still no signs of the cancer coming back, we will see you again in 3 months!"  Oh how I wish that were true.  We met up with Mary and were greeted with big hugs!  We made the walk (and ride in the elevator) up to seventh floor.  The doors opened and I was smacked in the face with memories.  I remember that little waiting room just off the elevators - telling family members there was nothing more they could do for our TJ.  We walked down the halls passed the family lobby (and bathrooms/showers).  I remember sitting on that couch talking to my dear friend Julie - telling her that TJ had abnormalities on the brain - what does that mean?  I remember walking those halls to get supper, lunch, to take a shower,  to take TJ for another test.  We were hoping to see familiar faces but that didn't quite happen.  We got to see Jean - the social worker and Trish - one of the head nurses who was there the last few days we were there with TJ - in fact she helped discharge us.  It was good to see them.  It felt as if we were home again.  I know that might sound strange, but it was our home for awhile.  They were our family - they cared for us, loved us and were a part of our journey.  I'll never forget them or what they did for our family!  They will always have a special place in my heart.  I am glad we stopped by and I'm hoping to stop by again another day - hopefully when Nate, Laura, Barb, Erin and even Dr. "Smirnoff" are there.  It will be a big family reunion - one with laughter, tears, hugs and LOVE!  I didn't realize how much I missed that place - I know strange - huh.  It brings back good and not so good memories.  Times when my boy struggled, times we snuggled, times we cried and other times we laughed.  There are so many memories there - ones I wish I could forget and others I hope I never forget - ones I'll treasure and remember forever. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sprucin' Up the Place!

Thirteen years ago Jon and I "bought the farm" (where we live).  In the time we've lived here, we haven't done a lot to the outside.  Oh maybe a little landscaping here and there, but nothing to the outside buildings.  We decided it was time to start doing a few things to make the place look a little nicer!  So Jon ordered some new tin for the roofs of a couple of buildings (the shop and the cattle shed).  We had a gentleman from Tennessee stop buy asking if he could paint our bins.  We agreed to let him do that and the roof of the old hog shed.  We plan to tear down the two barns (hopefully) this summer.  So, slowly but surely the place is changing.  Next up is the house - we will be doing some major changes (inside and out) to that soon!  As for now check out some before and after pictures of what we've done so far to the outside buildings.  I have a before picture of the shop - but we haven't done anything to it yet - so I'll post those pictures later once it is all done!

The cattle shed before - Jon ripping off the old stuff

The cattle shed after - this side is now done and they are working on the other side (had to stop because of the rain today).  I'll take a final after picture when they get all done. On a side note - I helped Jon finish the last four pieces that needed to be put on and got hurt three different times - I told him I am done helping!!

The old hog shed before

The old hog shed after



The bins before




The bins after


Monday evening I was dishing out the boys supper when the doorbell rang.  Of course the boys all hollered "come in."  Jon was outside and I half thought maybe it was him.  Then I realized someone had actually drove in the driveway and there really was someone at the door.  I quickly ran to the door to see who it was.  It was a lady from Nick's (in Pella) with this lovely bouquet of flowers.

 I thanked her and she left.  I opened the card to see who they were from.  The card said, "Tami, TJ has not been forgotten. You are in the prayers of friends,"  but wasn't signed.  It was such a thoughtful thing for someone to do.  SO, whoever sent them, "THANK YOU!"  And if you would like to reveal to me who you are - I'd love that too!  I must confess it's driving me crazy trying to figure out who sent them!!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cousin Time!

Even though our families all live within a twenty mile radius it seems as if we still don't get to see each other as much as we'd like.  So this past Friday we had the privilege of having the DeJong cousins over - not only just to play during the day, but overnight as well.  The boys each partnered up with another cousin and had a fun time of playing.  Unfortunately the weather wasn't the greatest to go outside, but they made do playing race cars, trains, farm, boxing (and UFC - thanks to the movie Here Comes the Boom - which I would highly recommend) and other various things.  Since there are four boy cousins and now only three boys in my house - I joined in on some of the fun.  I enjoyed playing trains with Nathan (he is the youngest - 2yrs).  It was like playing Thomas all over again with TJ - I loved it and didn't realized how much I missed that.  We picked up a couple of pizzas and had movie night.  Once the movie was over we set up the living room for a big slumber party.  I put in another movie to have them watch hoping to fall asleep - I think I was the one that fell asleep.  Finally around 11:00 (or maybe even later) I turned off the t.v. and told those that were still awake that they should probably go to sleep.

The next morning Jon and I fixed waffles and pancakes for breakfast.  Then two of the Fisk cousins came over to play.  My sister had wedding hair to do.  So for about an hour we had nine kids in the ages of 8 months, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and two 9 years old all playing and having fun!  My older sister came to pick up her kids - they had ball pictures - and we spent the rest of the day with Gavin and Hannah!  I really enjoyed our time with my niece and nephews.  We really should do it more often.  Thank you again for sharing your kiddos with us - we are definitely looking forward to the next time they come over!!  Here are a few pictures of our time together!

Charlie, Mike, Anthony, Joel, Nathan, Will and Paul!  Notice no shirts - that's because they were boxing!

Time for bed!

Will, Anthony, Hannah, Gavin and Charlie.  Once again no shirts!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Who Lost A Shoe"

Charlie's transitional kindergarten class put on a little play called "Who Lost A Shoe."  We were invited to join them (in their classroom) for a great performance, popcorn and punch!  When we arrived we were greeted by Charlie and a couple other classmates who told us to take a seat anywhere and then they gave us our "snack."  Mrs. Jordan (Charlie's teacher) had them introduce themselves and the part they would be playing.  They all had little masks to hold in front of their faces and all but one kid played a different kind of animal.  It started off with an owl finding a shoe - wondering who lost a shoe.  A fish (Charlie), frog, duck, bee, cow and horse were all asked if it was their shoe - to which they all had a different response as to why it couldn't be their shoe. Charlie's line was, "swish, not me, not me.  I don't have feet as you can see!"   Finally the last one was a boy who claimed the shoe.  It was pretty cute!  Here are a few pictures:

Charlie the Fish!


His class all dressed up!


His class without their masks!