Thursday, August 29, 2013

Moving Along

We've been making a lot of progress with the basement.  Jon finished filling in our "waterless moat" around the house.  The yard still has a large pile of dirt, but it looks SO much better around here (from the outside anyway).  Our contractor has put in the egress windows and have all the studs up!  So you can definitely see rooms and how it will all look.  Jon has also gutted one of our upstairs bathrooms (I was gone to Women of Faith).  It was needing some work done so we decided to do it at the same time - that way we wouldn't have to change the plumbing later.  I'd like to give a big shout out to my brother in law and nephews who came to help with the basement.  Thank you so much!  So, now we are in the waiting stages before more progress can be made - until then enjoy some of the pictures of all the work that has been done so far! 

The dirt work all done around the house.  Now to come up with some landscaping ideas for next spring!
This is the view looking south - the three bedrooms, bathroom and laundry room are this way.

Anthony's room

The bathroom

The Laundry room

This is a little harder to see with the washer and dryer but this is Charlie's room.

Will's room

Will and Anthony's closets

one of the egress windows

Part of the new family/hangout room

The rest of the family/hangout room

The gutted upstairs bathroom. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Weekend of Fun!

So last weekend I went with some good friends to Women of Faith.  I had not been to this event since TJ was around one, so I was looking forward to it.  We had decided to meet early and get pedicures before our evening session.  I tell you what, this was probably the most fun I've had getting a pedicure.  You know the kind - where you laugh so hard you cry.  I think by the end of our pedicure they were ready for us to leave!  So many stories to tell - but probably none of you would laugh like we did just because you weren't there!

We enjoyed the first session and afterwards went out to eat for pie with some other ladies from our church who were also attending.  Then it was back to our hotel room for more chatting and laughter.  I know the last time I looked at the clock it was 2:15 am!  Saturday was also a very good session with a mini concert from Mercy Me.  I enjoyed my "girl time."  But also enjoyed hearing the other speakers share their hearts and help us in our walks with Christ.  I always come home inspired and pumped up after events like these.  It was also an emotional time, but I learned some things to help me through my grieving process and so much more.  There are just too many things to mention (My dear friend took notes - so if you want to know more - just ask).  If you ever have the opportunity to go to an event like this - I highly recommend it.  Grab a couple of your girlfriends and GO!!

After the conference was over Saturday, I met Jon and the boys and headed to some other good friends of ours.  We had such a great night of food and fellowship and our kids played well together.  It's been awhile since anyone has asked "how are you doing" and really want to know the answer.  It was nice to share our hearts, feelings and everything else.  And I guess we all must have had a lot to share because we left there at 3:30 am!  I know it crazy.  I am so thankful for their friendship! 

Sunday we ended the weekend by celebrating birthdays on the Goemaat side and a movie at the Capri Theatre with the boys!  After all that fun I was more than ready for bed!  I'm so thankful for busy yet special weekends like that.

Our pretty toes!  And yes we all got the same design.  I LOVE them!
We ate at Zombie Burger before the conference.  Very good!  They made me stand there!  It freaked me out just a bit!! 
At the conference!  And yes we have matching coats too!  Diane and I forgot to bring one and froze (good sales gimmick) so we had to buy one!  Margie was the smart one and remembered to bring hers!  I am so extremely thankful and love these two amazing women.  I have so much fun when we are together and they have been such a huge support to me (and our family).

Friday, August 23, 2013

Old School

I remember as a kid having to walk beans.  You know...go out into the field, walk the row of beans looking for weeds to pull.  I also remember the fond memories of the bean buggie.  This thing attached to the front of the tractor and had about six seats on it.  Each person was given a sprayer wand and if you saw a weed you sprayed it with roundup.  Only back then they didn't have roundup ready beans - so you had to be careful of where and how much you sprayed.  Anyway, I have been telling Jon that I think it would be good for our boys to walk beans.  I've even gone as far to try to convince him to not spray the field south of the lane - just so the kids could do this.  His comment was, "Tami, I don't own a $100,000 sprayer to have sit so the boys could walk beans."  I told him he was missing my point.  Well, it seems as the years go by, weeds are getting more resistant to the chemicals.  And this year the water hemp seems to be pretty bad.  SO, I got my wish.  Wednesday after the boys got home from school - we walked beans.  I was pretty impressed with the boys.  They worked hard and I never heard one complaint!!  In fact one said "this is more fun that I thought."  And another one has been asking when can we do it again!  Now, we didn't walk the whole entire field - just the outside six rows - but still a daunting task.  Thursday, after lunch Jon and I headed to a different field.  I actually enjoyed our time.  We walked side by side and had good conversation.  He even treated me to coffeetime in town!  I love being able to work along side him.

Working hard! 

Love the men in my life!

School is Back in Session

So Wednesday was the first day of school for our kids.   Just a few years ago I remember thinking - man when all the kids are in school, I'll be able to get so much done and kinda looking forward to it.  However, I have changed my mind.  I haven't been home by myself in like 12 years.  I wasn't sure I was ready for the quiet and to be alone.  I find there are days I can't handle being alone - my thoughts go directly to TJ and I find myself not being able to stop the tears.  So, I can tell you I was NOT looking forward to this day.  The boys on the other hand were a tad bit more excited for school.  Charlie is in kindergarten.  Will is in 2nd grade and Anthony is in fourth grade.  That right there is another reason I wasn't too excited about the school year.  Anthony is catching up to TJ.  He is now in the grade that TJ never finished - with the same teacher.  I got really nervous about that.  However, he has an amazing teacher and I honestly would want Anthony to have her.  The memories just flood back.  I often worry that the same thing is going to happen to Anthony.  And here in a few months Anthony is going to be the same age as his big brother.  It honestly frightens me.  I have to purposely train my brain to not go there and believe me it is HARD!  Ok, enough about me - onto the boys.  Here are some pictures of open house and first day!

Anthony - 4th grade - Mrs. Padgett
Will - 2nd grade - Mrs. Johannes

Charlie - Kindergarten - Mrs. DeBoef

First day of school picture!  (we couldn't take it in our usual place - we no longer have the deck)

Onto the bus!
This is actually the second day of school - but since they left their backpacks at the school during open house - I didn't have a picture of them with their backpacks.  I was able to convince the boys to not buy new backpacks this year.  We already had these!!  Bonus!

2013 Iowa State Fair!!

I can hardly believe that the Iowa State Fair is already over.  It makes me sad just thinking about it!!  We had a great time this year.  We got to see and experience things we have never done before.  Including the queen contest, llama limbo, yo-yo contest, milking demonstration, butter sculpting, making meals from the heartland, scavenger hung, big wheel races, bird house making, tractor pulling and cookie decorating.  Yet we still had time for our favorite things like: super bull contest, little hands on the farm, varied industry building, the big yellow slide, the sky glider, animal learning center, mutton bustin', Hairball, the shows, nascar racers, the hypnotist, DNR building, 4-H working exhibits and SO MUCH MORE!!  I could blog all day long about all what we did and saw this year at the fair - don't worry - I won't.  Instead, I'll share with you some of the pictures (in no particular order) I did take of our time there!

Ed, Shawna, Jon and I were able to go to Hairball and Toby Keith together.  We had a lot of fun together.  We had stage front seats for Toby Keith so we were THAT close to him - this picture was taken with my phone!!  It was a bit crazy down there (no chairs) but pretty cool too!  Shawna and I along with our other sister-in-laws and mother-in-law went to Jeremy Camp and Casting Crowns.  That too was an AMAZING concert but I didn't bring my camera.  LOVED all the concerts we went to!

At the DNR building.  My dad used to take my sister and I here - now I'm taking my kids.  They love it as much as me.  This year Anthony was able to do archery inside - which he enjoyed!  It's such a relaxing place to hang out at the fair (other than the camper)!

This year on opening day they were looking for 1500 volunteers to help package meals from the heartland.  We signed up for the hour slot and had so much fun.  In fact the boys are asking when we can do it again!! 

The annual picture taken at little hands on the farm - one of our favorite places to go.  We actually got there in time to get a hat - or this year a visor!  It won't be too long and the boys will be too big to do this!

Our niece Megan won the county fair queen - which means she gets to go compete for State Fair Queen.  So it was different not having her around the first three days of the fair.  We got to see her on two different stages telling a little bit about her county and herself.  Then Saturday night we got to watch her during the queen contest.  Although she didn't win - she will always be a queen in our hearts!

Grandpa Don got a scooter this year!!  We had to be careful when he came around that the kids didn't take off on it -pretty sure Charlie would have if we would have let him!  Here he is delivering them their money for the fair!

This was something new we tried this year.  We went to the milking demonstration and shortly after they had a butter sculpting contest.  It was similar to how grape stomping has been - you sign up and then they draw a number.  If your number is selected you get to participate.  Anthony was the only one that got drawn.  He attempted to make a house, truck and then decided on a fair square (rice krispie bar on a stick).  They only had a certain amount of time to get it done.  He didn't win -but he sure got a cool looking ribbon!  We had fun at this - we might try it again next year!

This was also a new thing for us to do this year - big wheel races.  You had to sign up and then you were given a time that you would race.  Will and Charlie both agreed that they did NOT want to be in the same heat.  Probably best that way!  They had these big wheels and red and black ones.  I told the boys - you get what you get don't throw a fit!  I saw one boy turn down a "girl" bike so they didn't let him race!  Will got 4th in his heat!

And Charlie got 3rd!

One day you could make a birdhouse at the DNR building (while supplies lasted).  So we decided to make one.  The boys had fun and did a good job!

Will and Charlie participated in Mutton Bustin' again.  I always enjoy watching this.  Charlie was first (he got on the IPTV fair) and didn't ride too long.  Will got lucky and got a sheep that just walked out - he held on tight and got 4th place!!  He was so excited.  Charlie however, didn't think it was fair that Will didn't have a "crazy sheep!"

This was our home away from home.  Our camper is on the bottom side and my sister-in-law's camper is on the top side.  It was close to last year's super awesome spot (which was taken).  However, this year my brother-in-law spoiled us and built a deck!!  Not just stairs!  We are moving on up - just like the big boys! 

Jon and I with TJ's ribbon - the picture is a little blurry.  Probably because one of the kiddos took the picture!

 Cousin picture with the ribbon.  This year we had the privilege of having our niece Carson stay with us the first four days of the fair.  We enjoyed having her - she fit right in with the rest of us.  I tried to convince my sister to let her stay the whole time but she wouldn't let her :(  Maybe she will get to come next year.

 Well only 348 days until the fair comes back again!  Can't wait!!




Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Different Way of Celebrating

August 3rd would have been TJ's 12th birthday.  This would be the second birthday we would "celebrate" without him.  I wasn't exactly sure what to do this year until I received an email from my sister-in-law.  The email contained information about the Run in the Sun 5K.  This event is held to help raise funds for the Serenity House in Oskaloosa.  Some of our family actually participated in this event last year.  However, this year - it was on TJ's birthday!  How fitting!!  I had told all of our family about it and we decided to make it part of TJ's birthday celebration.  I had to call Cathy (MHP development director - the one in charge of this event, who by the way is awesome!) about some questions I had.  While in conversation with her she asked me if I would be willing to share what the hospice house meant to our family before the 5K/1mile walk started.  After much thought (days) I decided to share.  How do you put six weeks of memories into a five minute speech?  It was hard!  So, on Aug. 3 all of our family came and most participated in either the 5K or 1mile walk.  It was the most emotional 5K/1mile walk I've ever been too!  I was so glad we were able to share TJ's birthday with our "new extended family" too!  After the run was over and all the awards were handed out we headed over to Edmundson Park for lunch.  We enjoyed some of TJ's favorites - PB&J's, bologna or ham & cheese sandwiches.  Along with chip and dip, watermelon and a couple of cookie cakes!  After everyone had left we headed to get some balloons to take out to the cemetery.  This year we decided to just keep them out there - we didn't plan to release them like last year.  I found it odd/strange - we bought one mylar balloon and 12 latex.  Once we got out there one blew away and one popped.  Last year we had one get away too.  It's as if we always end up with 10 balloons - I guess it just made me realize that TJ will be forever 10! 

Here is a copy of the words I shared about our experience at the Serenity Hose (and a picture to follow):
How do you put into words what the Serenity House means to my family and me?  It was a place I had hoped we would never have to use - ever!  However, in our darkest time, it was more than a beautiful, functional amazing house - it became our home away from home.  When we first arrived we had no clue how much time we would spend there.  Over the next six weeks we would build relationships with volunteers, aids, nurses and doctors.  During that time all of these people learned, loved and took such great care of our son.  Yet at the same time, they did the same for the rest of our family.  Everyone helped to make our stay be the best it could be considering the circumstances.  I have countless memories of pranks we would play on the nurses and aids, meals brought into the house for our family to eat together, visitors, chats, laughter and tears shared with doctors and nurses.  I remember the staff getting our room ready for a big slumber party.  And helping us prepare the last Easter we would spend all together as a family.  The list goes on and on.   But one memory we will never forget - Nurse Nancy explaining to Jon and I that if we needed some alone time to just put a towel on the door!  That was when I knew we were more than acquaintances - we had become family.  It’s been over a year since we left the Serenity House, yet every time we walk through those doors - it feels like we are home again.  Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough when I think about all the things the staff, volunteers and others did for our son and our family.  We will always cherish our time we spent there and will forever be grateful to all of those who loved and cared for our son but also our entire family (all 37).  This house and all the people in it will always have a special place in our hearts.  So, I guess you could say this house is more than just a beautiful facility for those preparing to leave this world - it is a place where everyone is cared for, loved and treated like family - it’s a place so many call home.   

Monday, August 19, 2013

"Camp" by Anthony

My camp was great, we had a lot of fun, made new friends, and learned more about Jesus. Almost every morning there were about maybe 2 or 3 cabins (the cabins were oak, maple, hackberry) were playing carpet ball. Breakfast was at 8:00 am, lunch was at noon, supper was at 6:00 pm. We had Sheriff Report (but kids do not get in trouble only counselors did) Brett got in trouble 4 times. And we do mail call  (like on Robots) but you can't get your mail you have to earn it like doing stuff. My cousin Matthew and I got mail everyday, so we did Safari (not a real safari) T- shirt academy, wrote our names with our butts LOL yeah I know. We had T- shirts -  this year the theme was "There Is An App For That" our Bible verse was "But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put into practice" Luke 11:28. We do game groups the colors were yellow, green, pink, blue, orange, red, black, purple and white. I well maybe tell you the results. In 8th place was the Orange Team.  In 7th place was the black widow berries (my team) I forgot who got 6th and 5th place, fourth was the green mowing cutting grass (Matthew's  team) 3rd Blues Clues? 2nd red rowdy reindeers, 1st the Yellow hillbilly Unicorns. Worship was not too bad we learned that our life is a mess, we can choose because it's our live J loves L (Jesus loves little) If you read this it might sound fun to your kids, we (my cabin) had a beach ball party!  WOW! yeah I know Jakob was being a party pooper but he joined in by kicking the beach balls but luckily both of the beach balls did not pop. We went swimming, canoeing, Fishing and crafts, We went swimming every day, Canoeing, fishing, and crafts for 1 day. On the last day every boy and almost every girl were sad because they were going to miss their friends and like almost never see them.To cheer Matt and I up we went to pizza ranch in Marshalltown with ice cream. When we drove in the drive I really felt happy because I was at home but I was sad because I was away from Cayden, Brad, Jacob, Ian, Alex, and Nick.

This is Tami - here are a few pictures I took when I came to pick up the boys.  They had cookies, drinks and a little program.

Here they are singing and dancing!

Singing again.  Anthony is in the green with Hawkeye shorts and my nephew Matthew is in the orange shorts and blue shirt.

This is Joe and Diana Brummel.  They are the camp leaders.  They are AMAZING people.  Both of them were huge in helping TJ get over his homesickness his first year(s) at camp!

And this last picture is of all the counselors (minus a couple).  These young adults do such an amazing job with the kids!  I hold a special place in my heart for several of these counselors.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

So Much to Share, but Not Enough Time!

I have so many things to post about and no time to do it.  Anthony has typed up his camp experience - but I need to download some pictures so he can add them to that post.  I want to tell you about TJ's birthday, the progress that has been made on our basement and many other things - but it's going to have to wait until I return from the State Fair.  We are heading out tomorrow after lunch.  Just wanted to let you all know that TJ's ribbon is in zone #7 this year - which is behind the hog barn and out by the open arena.  If you can't find it give me a call/text - we would happy to show you!!