Friday, September 27, 2013

More than a Blanket


Above is a picture of a blanket.  But it is no ordinary blanket.  This was a gift to TJ from his fourth grade class when we was sick.  If I remember correctly they all worked together to make it.  And it was his teacher - Mrs. Padgett that delivered it to him while he was still in the hospital (the first time).  This blanket became a comfort to TJ.  He covered up with it all the time.  In fact the last day we traveled to Iowa City for radiation we brought it along with us.  He used it in the hospital and we brought it along to the Hospice House.  He was always wrapped up in this blanket. (I even have a picture of him covered up in this blanket)

I remember the first day home after TJ passed away.  I couldn't sleep that night.  I had been used to sleeping next to TJ for the last six weeks - I didn't know what to do.  So, I went and got this blanket.  I snuggled with it and held it tight as if it were TJ himself.  It quickly became my comfort - but for different reasons than what it was for TJ.  I have been sleeping with it ever since.  Now when I travel and I can't have my luggage in my hands (or trunk of the car) the whole journey - I leave it at home - at risk for loosing it.  I must admit that I don't sleep as well those nights.  So yes, at 35 years old - a blanket brings me comfort.  I hold on tight to it every night.  Unfortunately I have had to wash it several times - so it no longer smells like TJ - but I still feel close to him when I hold it in my arms.  My arms can't wait for the day when I get to hold TJ again.  Until then, I'll keep sleeping with this blanket as long as it brings me comfort.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Another Peek!

So Becky (the photographer who took our family pictures) text me yesterday to tell me my sneak peak was on her blog.  She also told me that we will have 30+ pictures to view and pick from sometime next week.  For those of you who know me well know that I can't make a decision if my life depended on it - so this is going to be hard.  Go to http://www.beckyochsnerphotography.com/ and check them out!  Once you go to her site - click on BLOG (on the left side) and we are the Family session - New Sharon, IA.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Searching.....

I find myself in a place I have never been before.  In fact, I'm trying to figure out where IS my place?  Where do I belong now?  Who am I?  I am completely broken.  I have often heard speakers and people say, "it was when I was broken that..."  And now that is where I am.  Everything that used to be comfortable, fun, easy and even enjoyable - I find now leave me anxious, scared and utterly alone.  I find myself clinging to Jon and completely lost without him.  I will be honest - this is NOT a fun place to be.  And I am trying my hardest to get out of this place.  It is in this place that I have realized more than ever my need for the Lord.  I have found that I want to really know who He is and not just who I think/thought He was.  I will admit this isn't easy.  When I go to His Word, I struggle even more.  You see, I have forgotten who He is and what He has done for me before TJ's journey.  I can't remember that God.  All my mind thinks about is the God who I feel abandoned me at my most difficult time in my life.  And when I read His Word - I almost laugh and mock God.  This too - is not a fun place to be.  I have realized that I need to push past my feelings and thoughts and really seek the truth, which is HARD.  That's why I'm trying to find help in my journey.  To go to those who can help me, guide me, show me and push past my feelings.  As parents we have such high hopes and desire so much for our children - but our ultimate goal should be for them to have a personal relationship with Christ and not to desire the things of this world but to some day live in Heaven with Him.  I have that for one of my four kids and I should be working hard with the other three.  If I continue to struggle and not guide my other boys or even work on my own relationship with Christ - we won't be where I long for all of us to be some day.  So, I am searching the desires of my heart and what is it that the Lord really wants from me and for me.  Am I where I should be?  Is He calling me to do something else?  I feel because of TJ, Africa and Guatemala - I am a different person and God has something so much bigger for me.  What is that?  I don't know, that's what I'm trying to figure out.  I heard this song on the radio awhile back and felt like the words were speaking exactly what I was feeling.  It's called Help Me Find It by Sidewalk Prophets.  Here are the words:

I don't know where to go from here
It all used to seem so clear
I'm finding I can't do this on my own

I don't know where to go from here
As long as I know that You are near
I'm done fighting, I'm finally letting go

I will trust in You
You've never failed before
I will trust in You

(Chorus)
If there's a road I should walk
Help me find it
If I need to be still
Give me peace for the moment
Whatever Your will, Whatever Your will
Can you Help me find it?
Can you help me find it?

I'm giving You fear and You give faith
I'm giving You doubt you give me grace
For every step I've never been alone

Even when it hurts, You'll have Your way
Even in the valley I will say
With every breath You've never let me go

I will wait for You
You've never failed before
I will wait for You

Chorus

I lift my empty hands (come fill me up again)
Have Your way my King (I give my all to You)
I lift my eyes again (was blind but now I see)
'Cause You are all I need

Chorus

So, now, I'm taking small steps and trying to listen to the quiet voice of God.  Even though my heart is broken and it's not going to be easy - I'm going to learn to trust again.  To believe that He does have my best interest (even though I may question it at times).  I'm going to try to break through what I FEEL to seek the truth of who He REALLY is.  So forgive me if I don't seem like the same old Tami - but I am NOT that person anymore.  I'm striving to be who God intended me to be - what/who that is - I don't know.  All I do know is that I am willing to do/go wherever He wants me to.  That I will strive to do His will and not my own.  I will welcome any prayers you are willing to say on my behalf - because it's going to be hard - but SO worth it!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sneak Peek

Saturday night we did our first professional family picture since TJ has been gone.  It wasn't easy, but Becky did some things to help make it special.  I was so impressed with her.  One of the things I love most, is that all of our pictures were taken at our place!   We are still waiting to see all the rest of her amazing work, but until then, here is a sneak peek.






Monday, September 9, 2013

Happy 6th Birthday Charlie!

I can't believe I just typed that number - 6!  Yesterday was (my baby) Charlie's sixth birthday.  I remember the day he was born as if it were yesterday.  I also remember thinking - we are crazy - we have four kids all under the age of six!!  But I wouldn't trade it for the world.  I am so glad God blessed us with Charlie.  I do believe He knew what our family was going to be going through and knew we would need someone in our family just like Charlie!!  His smile and laugh are contagious.  He amazes me with how fast he catches on to things - whether it is from school, sports or on the farm.  His humor and the way he entertains all of us remind me so much of his big brother TJ.  His love for sports - is like Anthony.  And the helper in him is like Will.  I LOVE how he will hold my hand and give me hugs and kisses (it's not embarrassing yet)!  The way he knows no stranger - terrifies me and reminds me of his daddy!  He completes our family. 

This year Jon and I decided to try something a little different for Charlie's birthday.  Instead of just buying him gifts, we wanted to create a memory as a family for him as his gift (does that make sense?).  We did get him a little LEGO thing, but his main gift was for all of us to go to Incredible's Pizza and have fun together!  We drove go-karts, bumper cars, mini-putted, bowled, played in the arcade and ate at the buffet.  We had such a good time.  After we were done we headed to Orange Leaf for ice cream!  Overall, I believe we all enjoyed our day together.  Now, I realize we probably spent more money doing this than just buying him a gift.  However, I do believe he will talk about this more than some toy we bought him.  Maybe I'll be wrong - who knows.  All I know is I want so much more for my kids than the stuff we can buy them.

My prayer for Charlie is that as he grows older he will find his identity in Christ and not stuff.  I pray that he will always love his brothers like he does now (minus a few fights here and there).  My hope is that he will always be who God created him to be - that funny, compassionate, entertaining, smart, outgoing, social, respectable young man I see in him now.  That he will always love and trust in our Heavenly Father - no matter what happens to us in life.  I pray that he will always know how much his daddy and I love him.  We love you Charlie - we pray God will bless you with many more birthdays!!

 
This is Charlie yesterday on his birthday!
 
These other two pictures are just a couple of my favorite ones of Charlie when he was littler!
 
 

This was at Halloween - he is Charlie Brown!!
 
 


And this is just a funny picture of him sleeping!
 


Hay Days, Shopping and Good Friends

This past weekend Jon and I, along with four other couples left for Minnesota.  You see Hay Days was going on.  Hay Days? you might ask, what is that?  Well the best I can describe it - it is a huge snowmobile thing!  Yep, that's my best description!  I believe they have anything and everything snowmobile you could think of there.  I even think they run/race/ride them.  I guess I should have asked Jon of a more detailed description!  Anyway, last year the boys went and this year they invited the wives to come along!  However, us girls didn't go to Hay Days - we went shopping at the Mall of America!  We left Friday morning after all of our kids were in school and dropped off at sitters.  We stopped along the way up at an outlet mall and Cabela's and finally arrived at our Hotel late afternoon.  Before supper the boys did a little go-karting and then it was off to Buffalo Wild Wings!  After supper we headed to bed since the boys had to leave early to get there.  Us girls, slept and relaxed in the morning before heading to the mall.  And we shopped until we dropped!  I tell you I'm not much of a shopper - but I had a mission - to find clothes for our upcoming family pictures - and these ladies were so helpful!  I had so much fun with them.  We eventually met back up with the boys, had supper and headed for home.  Although, we never really hung out with our husbands (we had a boy vehicle and girl vehicle) I enjoyed getting to hang out and have great conversation with some great gals.  It's been awhile since I've had a girls day like that -  I'm looking forward to the next time we can do this.  Thanks for such a great time!


This was the only picture I got of the weekend.  I was hoping to at least get a girl picture - but forgot.  This was the guys before they started racing go-karts.  I thought they all looked a little silly!  Such a good bunch of guys - Jon can hang out with them anytime!
Brad, Kurt, BJ, Mike and Jon!


 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A New Look

 
Anthony's new look!
 
 
Yes, he is our third child to get glasses in just a little over a year and a half.  I had noticed this summer that he started blinking weird, but didn't take him in to the eye dr.  We already had our yearly appointments made and thought he could probably wait.  Well, now I feel bad - his vision had changed by five times where it was last year.  The dr. also told me it was half of my prescription - which mine is not good!  We just got them yesterday, so he is still adjusting.  I'll be anxious to see how he got along at recess and p.e. (his favorite things at school)!  I'm hoping that Will won't need to get them again and Charlie never have to, but who am I kidding - it's just a matter of time - it's in their genes!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our First "BIG" Family Vacation!

I know what you're thinking with a title like that.....first big family vacation?  Didn't you guys just go to Florida last Christmas?  Yes you are correct.  However, this would be the first family vacation we have done with my side of the family - all 19 of us!!  This past weekend my parents, sisters and their families and my family all traveled to Omaha, Nebraska!  We have talked about doing something like this - but had never gotten it done.  After loosing TJ - I have realized now more than ever, how important family is and decided we needed to put our talk into action.  So our Labor Day weekend vacation was planned.  Since we have kids in three different schools now - we all decided we were on our own for Friday.  With the hot weather our boys got out early (1:00), so Jon and I picked them up from school and left from there.  We arrived in time to hang out at the water park.  We stayed at the Ramada with Coco Key Water Park!  It had a lazy river, five water slides (3 larger ones), a "baby" area, basketball pool and another pool with those floating things and the rope above it.  I was pleasantly surprised (when I got in the water for the first time) that it wasn't freezing!  Which I know on a hot day would have been nice - but I prefer to swim in water that is similar to bath water!  My older sister, Tonya, and her family arrived before us as did my parents so they were already in the water park when we headed down.  The boys all had a good time playing together.  I enjoyed the lazy river and the slides with my sister!  After swimming we headed off to Fuddruckers for supper - very good burger joint!  My younger sister, Jeana, showed up just right around the time we were done with supper.

Saturday morning we awoke early to have breakfast all together.  Our hotel didn't have continental breakfast, so we brought breakfast with us.  We met in Mom and Dad's room for donuts, breakfast sandwiches, fruit, muffins, cinnamon rolls, juice and devotions.  After clean up we headed to the Omaha Zoo!  We were there from the time it opened to the time it closed and still didn't see it all.  I guess that's what happens when you have 11 kids 13 and younger (with 9 of them being boys)!  They had an extra exhibit - Dinosaurs Alive!  Our nephew Gavin LOVES dinosaurs, so we thought it would be fun to take him to go see these creatures.  He was taken back by the realness and size of them - I just hope we didn't scare him too bad!  After our time at the zoo we headed back to the hotel for more swimming!  We ended up ordering pizza in for supper and planning our next day together.

Sunday morning we again had breakfast all together and then we went in two different directions.  My older sister and her family headed for home while the rest of us headed to a Wildlife Safari Park.  We were bummed they couldn't join us, but thankful for the time we did get to spend with them.  So this safari said it had elk, white tailed deer, bison, wolves, bears, bald eagles and cranes.  Well, once again Gavin LOVES as he calls them "buck deer."  I couldn't wait to see what he was going to do when we saw all these animals.  Once we got in - we did some rearranging of cars and we were off.  Anthony and Carson rode with my Mom and Dad.  Will, Charlie, Lane and Hannah rode with Jeana and Jason.  And Jon and I got Gavin!!  I was so excited!  He had bought binoculars the day before at the zoo just for this safari!  I tell you what that kid has quite the eye.  He was seeing things I wasn't seeing.  He sat on my lap for awhile since the car has bucket seats in the front - and then we let him stand on the counsel to stick his head out the sunroof!  You should have seen his eyes light up!  I tell you that was worth it right there!  That kid is so funny!  Anyway, we had a good time - we saw everything but the "buck deer", but that's ok - because that's all we see around here!  To see the bears and wolves you had to get out of your car and go on a hike - we did and saw them both!!  After the safari ride was over we grabbed some lunch and headed to the Strategic Air and Space Museum.  Although it was pretty cool - it was a lot of reading and not a lot for the kids to do (partly because some of their things for kids was at the Nebraska State Fair).  We headed back to the hotel to let the kids play in the arcade for a little while and then we headed out for supper.  We decided on The Longhorn - not the restaurant in Barnes City - but a very nice steakhouse!  It was YUMMY!!  After supper we headed to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge for a walk.  It was lit up at night and at one point on the bridge you can have one foot in Iowa and the other in Nebraska.  It was nice!  Since it was so late we all headed for bed!

Monday we decided to sleep a little bit until the water park opened back up and swam until we needed to check out.  Then it was off to Perkins for our last breakfast together.  After some excitement there - we all went our separate ways and eventually back home.  We headed back and took the kids to a movie in Pleasant Hill.  Jeana and her family headed back and stopped at Bass Pro on the way home.  My Mom and Dad went to Sheplers (a western clothing store), Orange Leaf and then to a place that used to feed out some of my Dad's cattle.

I do believe (and I'm speaking for myself - so I hope everyone else thinks the same) we all had a GREAT time and survived our first vacation!  I enjoyed our time together.  I often think that we feel like our lives our too busy to stop and enjoy time together with family.  But to me - life is too short to pass by on these opportunities.  We are unsure of how long we have on this earth - why not spend some of the time you have with those that you love.  I sure do hope that we can do this again - maybe even make it an annual thing - not necessarily to Omaha - but just some time together, away from it all!!!  Wish I could share all of my photos with you, but that would take forever.  Instead enjoy some of the pictures!


 
All the grandkids in birth order:  Carson (13), Michael (9), Anthony (9), Lane (8), Paul (8), Will (7), Joel (6), Charlie (5), Gavin (4), Nathan (2), Hannah (1) (TJ would have been 12 this year - now you can understand our craziness when we get together)!!

 
Everyone on the train!
 

 
This is why we didn't get to see all of the zoo!  The boys and their distractions.  Here they are trying to get a Prairie Dog!
 
 
I LOVE this picture - it's kind of hard to see.  But here we all are looking at one of the dinosaurs and see the little orange over by the trees?  That's Gavin!  He didn't want to get too close - it just made me laugh!

 
Gavin looking out the sunroof!
 

 
Jeana, Mom and I "being" elk!
 

 
Cousins.  We are right next to the wolf! (can't see it in this picture)
 

 
The night we went out to supper at The Longhorn - we told them that we had some birthdays coming up.  So, they made birthday sundaes for Charlie (on the 8th) and Dad (on the 28th).  We also have Nathan's birthday on the 21st.

 
This is one view of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.  My camera didn't want to take pictures to show it's beauty. :(

 
Here the boys are one foot in Iowa and another foot in Nebraska!
 

 
The boys sleeping after a LONG day!