Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Remembering a Friend

I have been so blessed to be a part of the movement of Seeing TJ Thru 20/20.  We are all working so hard at getting things moving along to ensure that we will be able to have everything ready for our ceremony on the last day of school.  With that being said, there have been three of us that have gone to the school this week to talk with the sixth grade class.  Monday morning we met with the class to get them thinking about what item they might want to put in the time capsule.  I brought in some items just to get their minds going back.  We wanted them to put something in their to help remember their friend or elementary years.  It could be anything from a specific item to a story/letter.  Plus we wanted them to share their story as to why they picked that particular item.  Then we also gave them each a paper with a couple of squares drawn on it.  These were for them to come up with their own design/phrase/saying that they wanted to put on their own individual tile.  These tiles will enclose the time capsule.  The whole thing is VERY cool! 

Well, today we went back to the school - to help them more and just to keep them going.  I was surprised to find out that everyone had their tiles done and many of the kids had already brought in their items for the time capsule.  I was impressed!!  I always knew TJ had such good classmates!  I'll be honest - I've been worried about all of this from the beginning.  Are the kids going to remember anything from two years back (and then some) about TJ?  Do they even care anymore?  Do they all feel this is silly/dumb?  I am humbled to say that -  NO they haven't forgotten - they do care and they are passionate about it!  In fact, I was to go in this morning with TJ's fourth grade teacher and to reminisce about that time period.  Well, when I got there I was stopped by one of the other mom's on the committee who asked me if I would go down to the fourth grade teacher's room and tell her we don't need her.  That yesterday was a VERY emotional day and we need to slow things down just a bit.  So I did.  The three of us hung out in the hall in between the two classrooms to collect the kiddos things.  I was SO moved by the things they hand brought in and to hear of their story of why they picked that particular item.  One kid (who just moved here earlier this year) didn't bring an item - but wrote something.  Another one of the mom's read this with me.  We both looked at each other with amazement - both asking "are you sure he didn't know TJ?"  After we got all the items gathered we went into the sixth grade class to thank the kids for doing such a great job.

So, today I was given the privilege to type up what each person wrote for their tile.  I am getting it all ready to be sent to the industrial arts department teacher (who by the way is amazing!) who will actually be doing all the engraving.  So remember my post about how yesterday wasn't as hard as I had anticipated?  I believe that was because someone knew it was going to be an emotional day today.  I can't get over what these kids came up with.  One of the mom's on the committee had asked me to come up with some words/phrases (for the tiles) so the kids could have ideas/samples of what to put on their tiles.  I tell you what - their tiles where deeper and more profound than what I came up with.  I'm so glad I didn't have to share my list.  As a Mom who has lost a child - never forgets them, always misses them and wonders if anyone ever feels the way she does about her child.  It warms my heart so much to know that they can still remember specific stories about TJ.  They still miss and love him and he is still affecting their lives today - two years later.  It's the ripple effect.

Being a part of this committee and this project has been such a blessing and I would even add - is helping in the healing process.  I can't wait to see until we put it all together - it's going to be so amazing!  I am so thankful for this class and what they are doing for this grieving mother.  I hope someday I will be able to put into words what this has meant to me and what they mean to me - they all hold such a special place in my heart. 

(I plan to share pictures of all of this after we've had our ceremony - in late May)

Two Years!

(I realize this is a day late, but our internet has been non-functioning the last couple of days - I'm guessing because of the weather)

Yesterday marked the two year anniversary of TJ going home to be with Jesus.  Still can't believe he has been gone for two years - just doesn't seem possible.  Well, we did things a little differently than last year.  All the boys decided they wanted to go to school.  In fact, Anthony even had a field trip (he was a little nervous about it, but his teacher said he did great!).  Jon worked most of the day.  As for myself, I planned the day honoring TJ in a non-traditional way.  I'll do my best to put it into words.  As I've shared before, after TJ's passing I've been sleeping with his blanket at night.  Well, I still wanted a part of him to be with me all the time - so I decided to get a tattoo.  Yep, a tattoo!  I put a lot of thought into it (probably too much) and decided on what I wanted.  So for the past year (at least) I've been trying to find TJ's signature.  I was picky with what I wanted to.  I didn't just want it to say TJ - I wanted Thomas Jon.  That wasn't the easiest thing to find - for more than one reason.  I also wanted it to be something that he wrote most recently before he got sick - which was also hard to find.  You see the closer to the time before he got diagnosed - you couldn't read anything he wrote.  I was finally able to find something that I thought would be perfect.  I had decided I wanted it to be put somewhere where I could see it every day, able to cover if needed to, yet visible so I could share TJ's story - so I decided on my left wrist.  Why did I choose my left instead of my right?  Well, every time I laid in bed with TJ whether it was at home, the hospital or the hospice house - I always held his right hand in my left hand - I just found that to be fitting!  So about three weeks ago I made the appointment for April 29!  I called my dear friend up and asked if she would want to go with me - to which she responded - YES!! 

So, yesterday morning we traveled to Grinnell to Slingin' Ink Tattoos!  I was a little nervous - I had never been inside a tattoo parlor before - I had no clue what to expect.  I was super impressed with the place and the people.  And to top it off - in the back where I got my tattoo - ALL the walls were painted LIME GREEN!!!!  Yep - I think it was meant to be!  The overall experience was great!  As for the pain - I'd say I hardly had any.  If I were to describe how it felt, I'd have to say it is like when your foot, arm, or whatever falls asleep and when it starts to wake up - that pins and needles feeling - that was it!!  There were a couple of times it was a little more painful - but nothing where I thought I was going to pass out, cry or scream in pain!!  I was pleased with the outcome - it all came together just like I had hoped for.

I had gotten in contact with all the ladies of our families earlier to see if they wanted to do lunch afterwards.  Those that were able to met at Grate Expectations in Oskaloosa!  Their food is SO good and....some of their decorations were LIME GREEN as well!  Good food plus good conversations equals a GOOD time!!  Afterwards my friend Kelly, sister Jeana and I headed to the hospital for the jewelry sale they have once or twice a year.  It's great because everything is only $5!  Mom joined up with us later after she took my Grandma back to the nursing home.  After our little shopping time - it was time to head back so we could all be back home for when our kids got off the bus.

Jon had picked up the boys from school and asked them how they wanted to finish the rest of the day.  They decided they wanted to "celebrate" at Happy Joes in Pella.  So, Anthony and Jon quickly chored while I helped Will with his homework.  My sister-in-law Shawna, Katy and Matthew stopped by with balloons and to check out my tattoo.  Shortly after they left we headed for Pella.  As we were pulling into the parking lot Jon suggested to call up our "Pella friends" to join us.  So after a quick phone call - Kelly, LeAnn, Landrey and Piper gathered with us for supper.  It was so nice.  The four of us adults were able to visit, laugh and enjoy ourselves all the while the kiddos were having their own fun!  We made a couple stops after supper and then we headed home.  I seriously think that when my head hit the pillow I was OUT!

I was really not looking forward to yesterday.  All the other seconds have been REALLY hard on me.  I seriously think that since we surrounded ourselves with people who genuinely care and love us really helped make the day go so much better.  So, THANK YOU to all who shared the day with us and who sent us special messages throughout the day.  You helped what could have been such a cruddy day - turn into such a special one!!

Kelly, Me, and my sister Jeana (this was actually taken afterwards)

During!  Kelly and Jeana kept taking pictures and making me laugh throughout the whole process.

I didn't think I wanted to watch.  Well I couldn't figure out what letter he was on - to see how much longer I had left - so I had to look!  It really was fascinating!

The finished product!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Day With Gavin!

About a month or so ago, my nephew Gavin called me.  He asked me if I would like to go with him on his fieldtrip with his preschool.  I was honored he wanted me to go and told him YES - I think my sister's feelings were slightly hurt that he wanted his Aunt Tami and not his Mom to go with him!  I love the opportunities I get to hang out with any of my nieces and nephews - especially when it is their idea!!
So, yesterday we left the preschool shortly after 8:30 and headed to the Children's Museum in Iowa City.  I know what you are thinking, because I was thinking it too - who it in their right mind would travel that far with a bunch of 4-5 year olds?!?!  The ride honestly wasn't all that bad.  I had packed a note pad and pencil to help the time go by.  Once we arrived we were able to go about with our kiddo and explore the museum.  We had a great time.  We flew a plane, set off parachutes, went down the slide, made pizzas, worked at the hospital, farmed, climbed walls and SO much more.  We played for a little over an hour, ate lunch, played another hour and then headed back home.  Thank you Gavin for inviting me!!  I had such a great time with you!  Hope we can do it again sometime soon!!

Gavin and me!


If you remember, back in December we weighed in Anthony's 4-H steer - Buddy!  Well, two weeks ago we took him to the vet to get wormed, poured and to get another implant.  So while we did all of this we though it would be fun to weigh him - just to see how big he is getting (and to check his rate of gain).  The vet didn't have a scale so we had to do it another way - drive the truck and trailer to the co-op and weigh it - then put the calf in the truck and reweigh it.  So, not sure how accurate it is, but he is up to 1100 lbs.  I've been proud of Anthony and how he has been working with him.  We've been tying him up, blowing him out and washing or wetting him down every day.  We are doing our best to keep that hair on him!!  Overall Buddy has been really good to work with - he is so mild mannered and easy going which is just want you want for a first time cattle shower!!  It's been fun getting back into this again - makes me miss the good ol' days when I used to show.  In fact, I find myself trying to take over. I quickly realize I need to stop and let Anthony do this.  He will never learn if I do it for him.  I guess old habits are hard to break!  We are hoping to take him to a couple of shows this summer - just for the two of them (Anthony and Buddy) to get used to it before fair time.  I think the experience will be good for the both of them.

Anthony brushing Buddy in the grooming shoot!

Anthony blowing him out.  It's like a giant size hair blow dryer for cattle!  For those of you who don't know - you use this to get the dirt out, dry their hair after washing or to blow (mist) product in their hair!  Yep, Buddy's hair is about as important as mine!!  HA!


This year I decided to try to do a garden.  When Jon and I first moved to where we live now, I planted one and have never done one since.  Part of the reason....I'm the only one that will eat anything out of it.  However, I decided it would be a fun project for the boys and I to do this summer.  So, one night after supper the boys and I tried to decide what to plant in our garden.  Like I said - we are all picky eaters - so we came up with peas, carrots, sweet corn, green beans, watermelon and pumpkins.  I really wanted to try to do more since Jon gave me a generous space to work with - but didn't know what to do with it all since once again, I'd be eating it all by myself.  I did get a kick out of Charlie - he wanted to plant tomatoes.  I do NOT like tomatoes so I asked him if he would eat them to which he answered, "no, but maybe we could make ketchup out of them!"  Nice try, but I think I'll just buy it!  So last Saturday we planted our peas and carrots in our garden.  I was proud of the boys, the way they pitched in with hoeing and planting the seeds. The boys are anxiously awaiting to see the plants come up and grow!  And they can't wait to plant the rest of our items when the time is right!  I'm glad to hear and see their excitement over the garden!  Maybe this will get them excited about eating these things too (I can only hope)!

Iowa Energy

So back in March we had the opportunity to go to an Iowa Energy game.  We were able to purchase the tickets for only $5/each through the Upwards basketball program the boys participated in.  So since the tickets were so cheap we decided to invite our family.  My sister Jeana and her family were the only ones that were able to join us.  Before the game started the kids from the Upwards program were invited to come "practice/play" with the Iowa Energy players.  They divided the kids up by grades and then did a rotation between shooting, dribbling, passing and visiting the locker room.  I know our boys really enjoyed this part.  The players seemed like giants compared to all those kids out there!  Shortly after, we headed to our seats to get ready for what would be an exciting game.  The Iowa Energy ended up winning by one point with a few seconds left of the game!  We all had a great time!  I had been wanting to take the boys to one of these games for awhile now, so I was thankful for the opportunity we were given to go.  After the game we all stopped for a bite of supper before heading home.  Love the chances we get having fun and being family!

(I have tried a dozen different times to upload the pictures but my computer won't let me - sorry)!

Catch Up

So, I was downloading some pictures on my computer and realized there are several things I haven't blogged about, so forgive me for posting so many on one day - but I'm trying to catch up!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Familiar Busy!

Although some things are over (Upwards basketball and Financial Peace) or slowing down (youth group), it's that time of year when other things get busier like preparing for spring field work.
Jon washing the tractor. 

During the off season Jon "runs meters". What's that you ask?  Well the short story is.... he takes meters (off of other people's planters like those that are on the floor) puts them on a computer and checks for skips, doubles, etc. when regarding seeds being planted. Hopefully that makes sense.

Jon has also been busy pulling gas (NH3).  We have sown some waterways, turbo tilled and have gotten the planter and sprayer ready.  Now if the weather would stay as fabulous as it has been we will be set!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Yet Another Adjustment

Not even quite sure how to start this post or how to write exactly what I'm feeling - so bare with me.  For as long as I can remember, my grandparents have been an important part of my life (still are).  Growing up I only lived a hop, skip and jump away from them (I should specify - my Ferguson grandparents) so I was around them often.  My Grandma Phyllis was the only Grandma I ever knew - (my Mom's mom passed away when my Mom was only 12) and was the best there ever could be.  I have SO many memories of being at their house.  Every summer us grandkids got to spend little vacations with them - one on one.  It usually consisted of a couple days and nights of pure spoiling.  We always got to eat our favorite foods and do whatever we wanted - including a shopping spree when we could buy whatever we wanted too!  I LOVED this time - not because I got whatever I wanted.  But because this was special bonding time.  There isn't a time in my growing up (that I can remember) when they weren't there.  They came to our sporting events, birthday parties, prom, 4-H events, cattle shows, church activities - you name it - they were probably there.  Oh the stories I could tell of the things we did at Grandma's house!!  I often reflect on those times and all the fun we had.  I remember baking Christmas cookies.  She had a cow cookie cutter that us girls ALWAYS would use and decorate with those silver balls.  She would kindly suggest us making more trees or snowmen, but we never wanted to.  By the time we were done she would send us outside to shake off all the flour we had gotten all over our clothes.  She was also a great cook.  Grandma made the best creamed peas and potatoes, buster parfait dessert, homemade ice cream and her rolls!!!  (I'm getting hungry).  I also thought their house was the coolest place ever - unfortunately a fire destroyed the house about 14 years ago - but those memories will live on forever.  When Grandma would babysit us girls we would occasionally get into a little tiff - but Grandma would always be patient with us and say, "now girls watch your tongues," to which we would stick out our tongues and proceed to look at them - we were such brats!  I have since then apologized to my Grandma - she claims she doesn't remember that!  I remember Grandpa giving us rides on his mule - the four legged animal - not the one with wheels!  I LOVED doing that!  We also went fishing a lot down at the ranch - or occasionally a different pond.  I could go on and on! 

As I've gotten older and busier with my own family - I don't get to spend that precious time with my grandparents like I'd like to.  Just before their 50th wedding anniversary they moved to town.  That was different, but we all adjusted.  I'd go up and visit every now and again.  Sometimes I'd bring the boys along and they would play with the same toys I played with when I was their age!  Grandma would always offer them a cracker or cookie!  Well, now it's time for another adjustment.  My Grandpa just turned 92 this year and they celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary!  Can't believe he is that old - yet there are days I can't believe I'm as old as I am!!  Unfortunately his health isn't the best.  In fact a week ago yesterday he was admitted into the hospital for dehydration and pneumonia.  It's getting a little harder for them to live at home and the decision has been made for them to go to the nursing home.  Although I know this is what is best for my Grandpa - it is just so hard for me to accept this.  My heart breaks when I go to visit them - for various reasons I'm not going to go into right now.  I have learned over the last couple of years that time and life are precious and to not take them for granted.  So while I still can, I'm going to soak up as much as I can of the precious time I have with my Grandparents.  Yes, things are a little different now.  And because they've been such a huge part of my life and have been such a support to me -it's now my turn to be there for them.  I love them dearly!

This picture was taken at Christmas 2011!  They sat in this chair together almost the whole day!  I hope that Jon and I will be like this when we get older.  They truly love each other.

My Grandma and me!  She is the most caring, positive, sweetest, loving person you'll ever meet.  When I grow up I want to be just like her!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Until We are Together Again!

I've been struggling with the right words to say and the ambition to write about this, but feel it is necessary.  On March 20, my father in law went home to be with Jesus.  It has now been twelve days since his passing and I still can't believe it's real.  In fact, today I was in his shop helping Jon and I was overcome with emotion.  I should rewind just a bit.  They brought Don home from the hospital two weeks ago yesterday.  He wasn't home long when they knew it wasn't going to work - so they transferred him to the Serenity House (the same place we took TJ).  And believe it or not it was exactly almost two years to the date (just shy one day) we took TJ there!  I'm not going to lie - I had mixed emotions about being back in that place.  Yes, it was a little hard to step back in there.  Yet at the same time it was like I was going back home after a long vacation.  Thankfully they put Don in a different room on the other side of the house - which helped me.  But you know what - it wasn't about me or how I felt - it was about my father in law and what he needed.  And I felt like he was exactly where he needed to be.

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend quite a bit of time there - in fact I even had a little one on one time with Don.  I can't exactly remember why I was left in the room alone with Don - but I decided to take advantage of the time I had with him.  He was heavily medicated and not responsive, but I knew he would be able to hear me and that's all that mattered.  I put my hand on his shoulder and told him that when he got to Heaven to take care of TJ for me.  And if he could (once he got there) give me a little sign that TJ was ok and that everything was alright up there.  Well two days in a row after Don went home to be with Jesus, every time I turned on the radio - a David Crowder song would be playing!  I took that as my sign.  You might be wondering why - well David Crowder was one of TJ's favorite Christian singers.  I was immediately comforted and had an overwhelming sense of peace.  You see after TJ went home to be with Jesus - anytime certain songs would come on the radio - I would quickly shut it off - partly because it was too hard and partly because I didn't want to deal with that emotion at the time.  But now after having that little talk - I think of it a little differently now and am able to listen to the song without becoming a complete train wreck (just a smaller wreck)!!!

There is a part of me that is comforted knowing that TJ and his Grandpa are together again.  Yet there is this other big part of me that will greatly miss my father in law.  He was a kind, funny, hard working, patient, dependable, loving man.  I will always remember that chuckle of his he made every time he laughed.  I will also be forever grateful to him for all he taught my husband - not just about how to work, but how to love the Lord, serve Him daily and to be a great husband and father.  All three of the boys wanted to say something at the service.  Jon and I were so proud of them for having the courage to get up and talk.  Anthony (being Anthony) had to give his top 5 memories of Grandpa - ranging from his grilled hot dogs to his phone going off in church.  Will talked about the nicknames they gave each other - "Will the Pill" and "Donald Duck."  And Charlie talked about his yummy waffles and marrying his very good Grandma!  They all shared fond memories of playing Wahoo with Grandpa and riding in his International tractors and combine.  And they all talked about his love for Christ and how we will see him (their Grandpa) again someday in Heaven!   

The days ahead aren't going to be easy - we've walked this road before - not all that long ago.  I'd say we are still on the same road just returning to the beginning of the journey once again.   So I ask that you please continue to keep the whole family in your prayers.  I know we can feel them and can definitely still use them.