Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas 2010

We had a wonderful Christmas! Bryan worked all weekend at the hospital but we made the best of it. The boys and I spent lots of time at home and spent Christmas afternoon at the hospital to see Bryan. They got lots of treats there. It is always fun to go and hangout in the lounge and this time we played games. Jaden is teaching me chess and I look forward to many more games with him.

The boys now have a "playground" in our basement. They didn't really appreciate their gifts when they opened them but now that everything is setup, they are loving it! They have already started to play in the basement by themselves (big step)!

Here is our Christmas letter for anyone who hasn't read it yet (click on it to enlarge).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

giving vs. receiving

Right now we have a few presents under out tree. There is one for Clay and one for Jaden and 2 for my niece, Kira, and 2 for my niece, Brinley, and 2 for grandpa Oscar. I knew this would bother the boys because they each only have one gift under the tree and other people have more. I thought this would be a great time to teach them about the real meaning of Christmas. You know, Jesus, and the spirit of giving. I was explaining to them that other people got more gifts than them and trying to explain that gifts are not the focus of Christmas. As I was saying that, Jaden blurts out, "Ya, but it's ok because mine is bigger."

Wish you could have seen the looks on Bryan and my faces! Wow, you have really missed the point, Jaden. We have got to work on this some more. We did have a nice laugh over it. There is always more to teach your children. I am still working on more ideas of how to remove the focus off of gifts when the kids get so many from all of their loving family.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

kuchen with grandma

Today I had the pleasure of making kuchen with my 90 year old Grandma Alma. This is a big process that nearly took us all day to make 11 German custard pies, which is how I describe them. They are served for breakfast at my family's houses. I think they are really dessert but there isn't much better than dessert for breakfast.

My boys love kuchen and request is every time they see Grandma Judy (my mom). She has become synonymous with kuchen because she is the "kuchen bringer." She now makes kuchen way more often than she ever thought she would because she is my Grandma Alma's caretaker and daughter-in-law. Alma is unable to make kuchen by herself ever since she had a major stroke 7 years ago. She moved in with my parents after her stroke and it has not been an easy 7 years.

I took-in a piece of my grandma's feisty-ness today while cooking together. She is getting more forgetful, opinionated and stubborn as she ages. These traits can be hard to deal with when you are 90. But they become increasingly difficult to handle the longer you are around them. After today I can relate to my mom better on her hard days of dealing with grandma.

My parents are saints for taking care of my grandma. I hope that I can pass on that blessing to them someday. I know it won't be easy and can only be accomplished with God's grace but they deserve the best care including family around them.

I have been told that I share many personality traits with my Grandma Alma (and I agree) so I am praying hard that God crafts me and molds me to have more loving kindness in my character. I know that my sons and future daughter-in-laws will appreciate that someday when they deal with me as an old lady.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I am officially part of the unemployed. I am collecting unemployment as of today. I finally got my first unemployment check deposited into my checking account.

I have technically been unemployed since November 1st. I can't believe it took 5 1/2 weeks for me to start collecting unemployment. I did collect two weeks of severance pay and I technically worked during the week of November 1st so there goes three weeks. Then there is one waiting week where you don't get paid. That is up to four weeks now. Then you finally have a week where you get paid (the 5th week) and you can't collect it until the following week; hence 5 1/2 weeks later my first payment arrived. Wow, I sure hope others are not counting on unemployment to arrive right away.

I am getting outplacement services, paid for by ATK, to get me ready for my next job. Job hunting skills, resume updates, interview skills, etc. I am also getting very familiar with the MN Unemployment services. I have been looking for jobs but there is not much for me to apply for in the space field, particularly with NASA. I will open my horizons when I am dying to get back to work. For now, I am just trying to enjoy being unemployed.

Friday, December 3, 2010


There are some new pictures posted at Picasa from our trip to Chicago in October and Halloween and Jaden's birthday.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

snow-shoveling ministry

I am still trying to figure out what to do with my time since my layoff one month ago tomorrow (Nov. 1st). Today I was planning on working out in my comfortable living room to a challenging DVD when I thought, I should go shovel the inch or so of snow on our driveway.

As I was getting ready, I was thinking about shoveling our newly widowed neighbor's driveway too. As I was scooping our snow, I began thinking about the additional widow in our cul-de-sac. Then thoughts of other single women came to mind: the divorced lady down the street, the divorced lady across the street, the probably-widowed elderly lady across the street and the lady whose husband has been in South Africa for over a year tending to his elderly dad. Every driveway I shoveled, I realized there were more I could help. The two single sisters across the way and the stay-at-home mom nearby with her husband already gone to work. There are a lot of single women living around me. I think they might be the modern day widows Jesus talked about in the New Testament.

It sure feels good to help others and I got a good workout doing it. After I came inside, 9 driveways had been shoveled because I let God use me this morning. Good thing it was only an inch of snow!

This is making good use of my time while unemployed. I pray that I will listen to God's promptings more. I know this leads to a better, more fulfilling life.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Jaden is 6!

My little boy, Jaden, keeps getting bigger. He turned 6 years old on Tuesday, November 23. We had a big football party for him last Saturday where he celebrated with his closest friends. There was a lot of football played and a lot of wrestling that made the moms close their eyes. It is amazing how rough 4-6 year old boys play. No one got seriously hurt which seems like a miracle and that makes me very thankful. The boys played a few football games and ate some cake. My mom once again did an awesome job decorating the football field cake that Jaden requested with Teddy Grahams. Bryan helped me create a football field in our living and dining room after we moved the furniture into other rooms. We used green plastic tablecloth and lots of tape to secure and label the field. There was lots of play space and many footballs were kicked and thrown. I am sure this will be a memory in Jaden's head for many months to come. He got to kick and throw footballs in the house - this was quite the exception to the rule.

Jaden is incredibly physically talented. He loves all sports and constantly amazes me with his football knowledge and attention span for football. I will not be surprised if he is a sports star in high school. I pray that Jaden allows God to use his talents for good.

This year Jaden's actual birth-date reminded me of the year he was actually born (2004). He was born on a Tuesday and this year we got to celebrate on Tuesday. I went into labor Sunday night. Yes, I had a very long labor; about 36 hours of timed contractions (less than 10 minutes apart). I had just defended my master's thesis the previous week, on Thursday I think. On Monday morning I had to call into my work and tell them I was in labor and not coming into work. I spent most of Monday laboring at home. We went into the clinic mid-afternoon and I was 3-4 cm dilated. We chose to walk around instead of get admitted. We headed to Crystal City, VA to walk around the mall. This was awkward as I kept having contractions around strangers but the walking was helpful. We headed back into the hospital (near the clinic) Monday evening after I had progressed. I was admitted and got an epidural. I got to sleep about 2 hours after not sleeping the night before and Jaden was born around 9:30am on Tuesday. We left the hospital on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, and there were many thanks going up to God. Then my parents flew out that evening to help us and meet their new grandson. That was a Thanksgiving to remember.

What a blessing Jaden has been in my life! In more ways that he will ever know! I need to share this more with him. I am truly blessed to have him as my son. He is an amazing kid and shares his energy and excitement for life with everyone around him. He is my contagious energetic son.

Friday, November 19, 2010

brace face



I am still figuring out what to fill my life with since being laid off but one thing that is sure to take up more time is having braces.

I have been seriously contemplating getting braces for about 3 years and finally went ahead and did it to take advantage of my orthodontic coverage that is expiring soon because of the layoff. I have an ectopic eruption of my upper right canine that is the main reason for the braces. I am very much looking forward to not experiencing the physical discomfort this tooth has caused me in the past.

I am sure to be in pain or at least uncomfortable for 18 to 24 months. I have not successfully been able to chew food since getting the braces put on Thursday afternoon. I am living on smoothies, milk shakes and mashed potatoes right now. I am sure to expand my menu into pudding, yogurt and oatmeal. Any other food suggestions are appreciated.

I was doing great for the first few hours after getting the braces. Last night and this morning were painful but Tylenol and Advil provided some relief. I am feeling less pain now and it is encouraging that it won't last forever. Maybe I will be able to chew something tomorrow but I am not counting on it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

laid off

I arrived at work on Monday with 50 or so cookies in tow. They were ready to be passed out as soon as I heard word of the first layoff. We all knew they were coming but were all wondering when would be the first one. There was a 10 minute conversation with friends and coworkers about our dread and concern for the day. I returned to my desk to go about work as usual when I got a call from my manager.

Me - "Hello."
Him - "Can you come to my office?"
Me - "Sure."

I walked into my manager's office knowing that this might be it. I watched for the cues. He closed the door. This was truly it. He had a piece of paper intentionally hanging 1/4 of the way out of a manila folder. I read it upside down. "Last day worked is Nov. 1, 2010"

He went on to nervously explain the procedure for the layoff. I remained calm and did my best to reassure him I will be fine and have already been looking for other work, space-related work, not weapons. I told him I knew that he had a very hard day ahead of him too. He told me that he was always pleased with my work and that he would be happy to provide a reference for me. I appreciated hearing that.

I went on to talk with friends, old acquaintances and new acquaintances throughout the morning while handing out cookies to anyone I saw. I know the cookies didn't fix anything but they were a nice conversation piece and a little sugar brings smiles to people's faces. In total, 77 of 495 employees were laid off, or about 15%, which was less than the 20% we were warned about 3 1/2 weeks earlier.

In the end, I am happy that I got laid off from designing weapons. The big picture disgusted me at times but also brought me to a better appreciation of our military. I enjoyed the daily work but was overwhelmed at times by the consequences of weapons. I feel good that I got laid off instead of someone else because my job was not necessary for my family to survive. I feel for and pray for those that got laid off that desperately need their income. That was the hardest part of the day...seeing others struggle.

Now I am figuring out what life looks like for me without a job outside the home. I have 2 kids that go to preschool/school 4 days a week. I love this mix for them and they need the school. Now what do I do with my time?

I did the stay-at-home gig for 4 years and it didn't workout so well for me. It left me depressed and sucked some major joy out of life. I am concerned about this happening again. Bryan is very encouraging and not rushing me to get a job again but to explore if I can enjoy not working for awhile. I am trying that for now.

Friday, October 22, 2010

No NASA job but maybe a layoff

There is no potential NASA job for me for awhile. I just heard back that the position I was still being considered for is no longer being offered. It may be up to a year before the hiring situation changes at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the Washington DC area.

Well, there may be no NASA job in the near future but there may be a layoff for me coming soon. I will find out on November 1st whether that will be my last day at ATK. To be honest, a layoff wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. I would rather be working but could probably entertain myself for 6 months or so. My work is laying off 20% or about 100 people on November 1st and I will likely be one of them. We are all waiting to find out.

I will continue to look for NASA jobs but there are very few opportunities right now. I am holding off on looking into contracting jobs for now. I am continuing to explore other job options in the Minneapolis area. I pray that God continues to give me purpose and meaning in my blessed life no matter where I work (house or office).

Friday, October 8, 2010

Jaden made my day

Yesterday as I was dropping the boys off at school. I ran around their small building. I made sure the boys got cereal. Gave some pictures to the teacher in the other room for a project that day. Then came back to Jaden and Clay and gave them hugs and kisses before leaving. As I was heading out of the door of the room, Jaden yelled, "Mom!" I turned around to see him and he looked at me and yelled, "I love you!" and then blew me a kiss. That just melted my heart. I yelled back, "Love you too!"

Then Clay said loudly, "I love you, Mom." I responded to him, "I love you, Clay."

I walked out of the room and building to my van. I had the biggest smile on my face. What joy my boys bring to my life! I think that was the first time Jaden or Clay told me that they love me without me prompting them. Maybe they really get it. Maybe they are just repeating what they have heard. Either way, I am overjoyed to hear it and I will treasure it.

This comes on the heals of me recently having a conversation with Clay after him telling me, "I love football, Mom." I explained to him that he doesn't just say that to me. He can't really love football and he proceeded to tell me that he really does. Surprising but maybe he does. I would have expected that to come from Jaden. Maybe I have two football loving sons.

Bryan and I recently saw the movie Backup Plan with Jennifer Lopez. It was cute romantic comedy but the line that sticks in my head is, "Kids are awful awful awful awful and then something beautiful, magical happens and then awful awful awful." I kind of agree with that statement but would adjust it to be, "Kids are difficult and wear you out most of the time and then every once in awhile there is a beautiful, magical moment that reminds you of why kids are so amazing."

Yesterday morning Jaden gifted me with one amazing moment.

I didn't have kids because I love children so much. I knew that kids would challenge who I am and craft me into a better person because God uses them. I am reminded of that almost daily. My kids challenge me on every front and I enjoy the challenge most of the time. Yesterday morning was not one of the challenging times but it still creates better character in me.

Thank you, Jaden and Clay, for loving me. You make me more loving of others.

Monday, October 4, 2010

my mom

My mom turns 60 today! I don't think she will mind too much that I am telling the world her age. I want to be 60 and proud of it someday. My mom is amazing! She should be proud of who she has become at 60 and all that God has used her to do with her life.

She has been a great mom to 2 sons and 2 daughters. And an amazing grandma to 8 (soon to be 9) grandchildren. She is so good with kids. That is clearly her gifting. God granted her with amazing patience and the ability to teach children. She still has a childlike heart and that helps in relating to kids.

She is also a great sister and daughter to her family in California. But more than that she is an unbelievable daughter-in-law to my dad's mom. My grandma Alma lives with my parents and my mom takes care of most everything my grandma needs. She is amazing in the amount of love she has poored out to take care of grandma. Sure there might be some complaints along the way but everyone else would have given up by now and grandma would have been in a nursing home a long time ago if it wasn't for my mom. Her love for her mother-in-law is inspiring and I hope I can bless my parents and in-laws the way I have seen her demonstrate.

My mom, Judy Vilhauer, is an amazing woman and I was so happy and privileged to help throw her a surprise birthday party on Saturday. My dad and I came up with the plan and mom felt loved by all of her friends and family that came to celebrate. She loves chocolate so the fondue fountain was an obvious choice for a celebration.

Happy Birthday MOM!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jaden sayings

Jaden was full of thought-ful comments today. Here is a sample:

We were driving in the van and I told Jaden to stop picking his nose and asked if he wanted a tissue. He responded in a sarcastic tone, "Do you think there's really gold in there?" He already seemed to know the answer. I laughed and said someone probably said to him at one time, "Are you diggin for gold?" He said with a laugh, "I know there isn't gold in there."

This weekend Bryan is fishing in South Dakota with his dad and uncle. I chose to stay at home with the boys instead of go with him. There were a few reasons for this choice. Jaden's interpretation of my choice was described like this tonight: "Mom, I know why you stayed with us. It's because you like us." I said, "I sure do and I love you too." I am just beaming to know that Jaden gets it that I like him. It is not always that way and he knows that I get frustrated with him frequently. I am just thrilled to know that the "like" feelings outweigh the "frustrated" feelings. I know that but it means even more for my son to realize that.

Then tonight when I was tucking Jaden in bed, he said, "I was naughty at school today because I missed you." He just knew the right thing to say to make me feel guilty for sending him to school for 5 days this week (usually just 4 days). That little stinker. I am trying to just brush it off. He made some bad choices at school today when he knew better. I am responsible for disciplining him but not responsible for his bad actions.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I need people.

There are things that I like about my job. I enjoy interfacing with other engineers and people in general. If I were to stay at home during the day or work from home, I would definitely miss talking with other people. It is amazing how much a single conversation can change my mood for the day. My worst days are when I sit at my desk all day and do my work and don’t talk to anyone. My best days happen when I have multiple conversations with people about work and our personal lives. I need those work conversations to feel like what I am doing is useful. Someone out there appreciates what I am doing, I hope. I also need to be reminded that while I am at work, I am still looking for things and conversations that result in eternal reward.

It is amazing how quickly I forget that I need people. I need other adults in my life. I just spent the past three days with my boys. I love spending time with them and that is why they only go to school 3-4 days a week. When I spend 3 days straight with them and only see Bryan in the evenings, it makes me realize that I need conversations with other adults to cheer me up and realize that life is bigger than me. That is one reason why staying-at-home full time with the kids didn’t work well for me. Over the weekend I did have a few short conversations with other people: a neighbor, a pediatrician, ticket sales lady, etc., but I realized today that it wasn’t enough. Why didn’t I call anyone to hangout over the weekend? We did play with two neighbor boys but without much adult time. We had 3 dinner meals with just the 4 of us. That rarely happens. We eat dinner together a lot but usually there are other people involved. I knew I wasn’t enjoying life over the weekend but couldn’t really put my finger on it until today at work. I need more people in my life.

Bryan's response, "You are such an extrovert!"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

beautiful walls

I have two new pictures on my entryway walls that bring me such joy. Above is a picture of what it looks like. I took the picture of my boys on the right and I love it. It is my favorite because they are always running somewhere. I painted the picture with the words. It is actually the 4 family values that Bryan and I came up with a few years ago. I was inspired by an amazing artist at redletterwords.com It is my own take on her art. I love that it didn't have to be neat and perfect. These are 4 things that we hope to instill in our boys. We hope that as they grow, they will help us define what is important to our family.

I am treasuring my family even more right now. I just heard tonight that our neighbor died today. The family had become friends of ours over the last year. I connected with the mom and enjoyed our extended conversations. Jaden and Clay love to play with their 5 year old son. We enjoy having their 15 year old son mow our lawn. Bryan gave their family free medical advice. The family lost their father and husband. My heart aches for them and my eyes have welled up with tears more than a few times. I can't fathom their loss. I can't imagine raising two boys without a husband and father. They are Christians and know that he is not only in a good place, but a "great place" as she commented to us tonight. My thoughts and prayers are with them. I pray that God brings his people around them to comfort them and help them cope.

Monday, September 6, 2010

back from Utah

I spent last week working in Utah. The trip was better than I expected and I got to experience the space-side of ATK. There is space stuff everywhere around their main facility in Promontory. And I got to watch the static DM-2 test of the modified Solid Rocket Booster. It is an expanded rocket from those used on the Space Shuttle (2 white ones on the sides) and was planned to be used on Ares I and IV for the Constellation program. Now ATK is trying to get NASA and Congress to fund solid rockets for future space use. I really hope it happens. The US should keep its space capabilities and expand on them, not lose out ability to get humans to space. Lets keep exploring the unknown and expanding out knowledge!

I was in Utah working on an upgrade to some software that I use daily for system engineering and requirements management. We made great progress and it feels good to see something close to completion that I have worked on the side of my main projects for the last year or so.

Monday, August 23, 2010

no NASA job...yet

I got the sad news today that I was not chosen for the NASA GSFC job that I applied for and interviewed. I tried really hard to get it and interviewed over the phone on vacation because they weren't doing in-person interviews unless you were local. I did some work for my references while on vacation too. But in the end I was up against 12 people for 2 positions. I was qualified for either position. I ended up being #2 for the position I most wanted. I was told to try again and they would be happy to hire me and that the panel disagreed on who to hire. There is hope for me but just not yet.

I shed a few tears and then tried to forget about it with family. Bryan's parents are here and we went out for his upcoming birthday. Then I chatted with our neighbor, whose husband is dying. That always brings perspective and gratefulness to the surface.

While I was telling Jaden about me not getting the space job, he tried to encourage me by telling me to keep working on weapons. He said, "You are helping the army." We talked about it for awhile and he was so cute and so pro-military. I tried explaining to him that I do not want to have anything to do with killing people even if it is when we are at war. He responded, "It is just one army fighting another army." He seems to get it more than I realize, but I still take issue with it. Who knows, he may end up in the military some day.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

active boys

The boys were busy with sports in July. Here are a couple of my favorite pictures.

Jaden was a little soccer star. Actually, they both love soccer and it was nice to see Clay participating more. Jaden was aggressive and Clay helped people up when they got pushed down. They both did a great job and had lots of fun.

Clay was a little fish. Jaden refused to get in the water for the first three lessons. In the end, they both did really well with their first swimming lessons. They both passed to the next level. Success was a achieved because they are loving taking showers now and are not as afraid to put their face in the water.

More pictures here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

up and down day

Today has been a day filled with lots of ups and downs. I am still trying to process it all.

1. held a gun for the first time (the weapon system I work on at ATK; XM25/XM29/IAWS/High Explosive Airburst Weapon System/OICW) and I wasn't looking forward to this

2. flooded with work to accomplish in a short time while Bryan is working evenings and I have the kids by myself for 3 nights

3. cried with a neighbor whose husband is dying of cancer and they have 2 sons: 5 and 16 years old

4. opened my email to discover I have a phone interview with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the Washington DC area next week; 2 jobs will be offered on 8/20; lots of prayer continues

All of these things are leading to more time spent praying. So many thoughts and so many different prayers. I just want to see the bigger picture in all of this.

Friday, August 6, 2010

baby step

I took another baby step closer to working in the space field again. My resume made it through the first level of sorting at NASA Goddard. I received an email yesterday that stated: Eligible – Application Referred to Selecting Official. I am encouraged to pray more. I am thankful for this step and praying for it to go further.

Monday, August 2, 2010

12th anniversary

I have the greatest husband ever! He surprised me with one of my life goals...to go skydiving. We took the big jump last Friday, at the start of our anniversary weekend together.

We had an awesome weekend at the St. Paul Hotel in downtown St. Paul. It is beautiful and they gave us an upgrade to a suite for free! We also got to go to Cory and Mel's wedding on Saturday! They are great friends of ours from our church meal group. Then on Sunday Bryan got us tickets to see A Streetcar Named Desire at the Guthrie in Minneapolis. All of this was made possible while my brother and his family took care of our boys. That was such a treat. Thanks guys!

Bryan and I take turns planning our anniversaries and this year was his turn. Here is a list of what we have done in case anyone is looking for some ideas for their own anniversaries or to spoil your spouse.

11. Valleyfair
10. Paris beforehand (Day of: in Honduras with homemade cookies in the shape of a 10 and fresh picked flowers, new DVD of wedding, swimming date to a waterfall)
9. Lanesboro, MN B&B
8. Moon/Space room at theme hotel in Burnsville, MN
7. Red Wing, MN at the St. James Hotel; exploring rural MN
6. New York City (romantic dinner, lots of walking, Central Park carriage ride, The Lion King)
5. Italy beforehand (Day of: outdoor orchestra concert of cartoon music and picnic meal)
4. Hot air balloon ride in VA
3. Horseback riding in a park in DC
2. Hotel in downtown DC with room service dinner replicating what we had the day we got engaged in DC.
1. Houston, TX for me to go on Vomit Comet; dinner with 2 other college guys. This is what probably spurred us on to do something different next year.

Monday, July 26, 2010

sometimes emotions overwhelm me

I am sad to be having good friends move away, especially a family that we mesh with so well. I get along so well with the mom and Bryan with the dad and our two boys with their two boys. The Klinepeters will always have a special place in our hearts and lives. That has definitely added to the tears over the last two days. I am also emotional for many other reasons.

Our good meal group friends, Andy and Sarah, are also moving away in a few short weeks. It will be hard to say goodbye to them. They love our boys like family.

I wish I was moving away but there are no interviews on the horizon, let alone a job offer. I wish I wasn’t working on weapons. I wish that I had a job that I felt called to do and be there. I wish I could have extended family close-by, wherever we live. Those things don't mesh well for me. Family and job locations have many miles between them.

I thought I was close to getting a job (or at least an interview) at Goddard, in the DC area, working with the people that I did some of my master’s research. I found out a couple weeks ago that my resume was put in the loser pile, otherwise known as “you are not the best qualified.” That depressed me. I struggled with reassessing my job search strategy and didn’t come to any new conclusion. Then another job, actually 2 openings, were posted in the same group at Goddard. These positions I am more qualified for, but it is still a waiting game to find out if I get grouped in the “best qualified” category of resumes. There have been a lot of prayers going up over this job posting.

I am emotional because of uncertainty in my life. When will I get an interview? A job offer? When will we move? Do I really want to move away from family? Do I really want to miss out on events in my siblings lives? In my parents' and grandparents' lives? In my nieces’ and nephews’ lives? I know I don’t want to stay in my current job for that much longer. I really do feel like God has given me a passion for space work that just won’t die. I believe that is what I should be doing and Bryan is supportive. I still feel bad because I am choosing to move away from family. I always have doubts. I may be sure one moment and second guessing it the next.

On the flip side, there are good emotions and tears of experience mixed with fulfillment. It feels good to know when God has affected you and changed you, that He can use that to help someone else. I felt that last night and it feels good. God is still around us and going with us. He helps us through the tough times and the emotional times. I just never know how God will use my current experience to help someone down the road.

All of this is making me emotional. It seems so easy to cry. It used to be hard for me to ever let anyone see me cry but now there is no stopping it. Let the tears flow…but wait till I am out of the office…ha ha.

Friday, July 23, 2010

boys lovin life

I took a bunch of pictures of my boys back at the beginning of May because I was concerned their school pictures wouldn't turn out well (it wouldn't be the first time).

This is one of my favorite pictures of the boys. I have an 8x10 size picture for us to frame. Some people may miss seeing their faces but I think this picture speaks loud and clear. It will always be a reminder to me of what life was like when I had 2 young boys. I know this stage won't last long.

They were just having a blast running across this bridge at a park area near our house. Jaden is always in the lead, bolting straight ahead, as fast as he can. Clay is so content to follow. He is enjoying the run along the way, checking out the view on the side of the bridge. Jaden is focusing straight ahead on getting to the otherside of the bridge. Both are moving fast, exploring the world through their own eyes.

I love my boys! So much energy wrapped up in tiny bodies.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

anger rising

It is not that is wrong to be angry but this morning I got angry about the wrong things. I was irritated at myself for taking so long to get ready for work and getting up late. I was tired from staying up too late last night, in addition to not getting enough sleep the two previous nights.

Instead of letting my own issues go, I took it out on my kids. They are slow to get ready and get out the door. This is normal. It is their way of life. They are never in a hurry and I am constantly in a hurry and trying to get them to hurry up. I had to repeatedly ask them to get their shoes on, go out the door and get in their carseats. It just wears me out. If I gave them a consequence for not listening on the first time that I asked, they would have that consequence 99% of the time we leave the house. I am just not sure it is worth it. I am the one who needs to change here, not my kids. This is my problem of lateness colliding with their enjoyment of living in the present.

I tell my kids they are “making me angry.” But in reality, it is my choice. They can not make me angry. I have chosen to be angry over something inconsequential. I did not need to be to work by an earlier time. I just wanted to be there earlier. I will be apologizing to my boys tonight.

I get frustrated with my kids and then every little thing irritates me, like my husband forgetting to switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer. It builds until I hit my head or trip or drop something. I am not good at getting rid of frustration.

I need to work on
letting my frustrations go,
not making my kids feel bad for my own issues,
not taking my anger out on my kids,
and enjoying the moment.

I can only do that with God’s help and correction. I know He is correcting me now. God works through our frustrations and makes something beautiful out of them...beautiful character.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

getting back to normal

It's been awhile since I last blogged. I love blogging and miss it. It helps me process life. I haven't had much time to process life lately because we have had so much going on.

We had a great time in DC, then Sacramento, and then LA. I hope to put up pictures but they are not ready yet. It's on the to do list.

Right now I am enjoying my boys in swimming lessons and playing soccer.

We have seen a lot of family over the last month. Family at the funeral. Family at Clay's birthday party. Family for doctor's appointments. And we just had my aunt and uncle and three cousins here a few nights ago.

My mother-in-law has surgery tomorrow. Please pray for her. We are hoping that her SI joint (connection of tail bone to pelvis) is made healthy tomorrow. She has been in quite a bit of pain for the last year and is ready to be done with it. We have family with us right now and will be for at least a little while.

We are getting stability back in our life with laundry and cleaning and lots of time at our house. It feels good. I usually despise normalcy but for once it feels good. It probably won't last long.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

packing thoughts

The last week and half flew by as we worked and tried to relax in our routine before our next trip.

We packed Tuesday night and traveled by air to Los Angeles today.

Lot of thoughts streaming in my head while packing for the trip. Here are some.

In the chaos of packing and frequent travel, I appreciate the mundane routine of life more. This is the third trip for our family in one month. Crazy!

This is my 9th week of vacation that I am taking from work this year. Thankfully, the rest of the year will have less irregularity and more routine. At least that is what is planned right now. It is good that I only work part-time so that I can still fit in work around our vacation time. We love to travel and 9 weeks of time-off sure shows it.

We love sharing all that we have with others because it reminds us that all that we have is God's. It keeps us less attached to our stuff and more focused on people. It is still added work to share rather than keep your stuff to yourself but the extra work is definitely worth it.

I am also feeling down about work stuff. I have a applied for 40+ jobs with NASA but only heard a response about one with a little interest. I have been underqualified for good chunk of the jobs I have applied for but some response, even rejection would mean that someone is looking at my resume. Almost all of the jobs are still open and in process. That processing stuff sure takes a long time. It is good and sad that we are visiting DC and LA where I am applying for jobs because we could end up living here someday. But I sure do wish I was here for an interview too.

I know there is more that I could do about contacting people at NASA and some of that just hasn't happened because I usually have loud children in the background. I am getting quite sick, not quite literally yet, of working on weapons and need to find something else to do. I know that someday someone from work will find this blog, so you should know, if it isn't clear already that I don't want to be working on weapons. I want to be helping to explore space. I know that God has planted this passion in me and I know that I should be using it. I know that God will fulfill that but I am not good at being patient and finding enjoyment when it is difficult.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

lazy me

Most people would not describe me as a lazy person but that is what I have been trying to be since January 1st. Yep, that is right. My New Year's resolution was to be lazier. I like to joke about it but it is really hard for me to relax and do nothing or just do one thing at a time. Any time I try to relax by watching a movie or reading or playing a game, I always find ways to combine it with another activity on my to do list (email, blogging, exercising, bills all take place while doing something else).

So I have been trying to cut back on doing stuff; everyday things that always seem to take my attention. I feel like I have succeeded this week. Every kitchen counter was covered with stuff; stuff to put away after unpacking, mail to go through, bills to pay, stuff to register for the kids, etc. That never happens in my house. I even noticed that I still had people's Christmas cards stashed away behind pictures on the wall. There were toys, blankets, clean laundry, papers, books and clothes all over the floors in every room of the house.

I succeeded in laziness, if only for a few days. Tonight Bryan and I caved in and cleaned it all up. A few things remain but the house it quite clean and picked up. The last couple days were a challenge to not lose sleep and choose not to clean. Glad I placed sleep as more important than a clean house. I will never regret that decision. I need to choose to be lazy more often! Really I need to find the true, holy benefit in rest.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Marriott family

It was a sad occasion to gather to share in the loss of my grandmother Mildred Marriott. It was, however, very nice to see all of my family and lots of my mom's extended family. We hadn't been out to the Sacramento, CA area for 8 years so very little of my mom's family had met Jaden or Clay. It was fun to see all of my cousins and get updates on their lives. It was sad to say goodbye to my grandma but good to hear about her faith in Jesus. There was good and bad along the way. It is just good to be home now...until our next trip in two weeks. We are going to try to lay low for a little while and not do too much.

The picture is of my family, minus two sister-in-laws, 2 nieces and 2 nephews. We still got a nice family picture on a sad day.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

day to catch up

Today I am spending my time sitting in airports. I am on my way to Sacramento for my grandma's funeral. I get the day to myself while Bryan navigates airports and airplanes by himeself with the two boys. We weren't able to get reasonably priced tickets on the same flights. I feel bad for him, as I just heard about Jaden jumping head first over the row of seats in front of them. He is laughing about it now. We can only hope the natural consequences taught him a lesson.

I get the day to myself to catch up on reading, email, blog reading, work, blogging and crossing off other items on my to do list. I am enjoying my day so far and praying for Bryan.

We have experienced a lot over the last week and a half.
Trip to DC.
Friend's wedding.
Lots of hamburgers with DC friends.
Lots of laughing with my boys.
Applying for more NASA jobs.
Looking at potential DC area neighborhoods (if we get jobs there and move back).
Hearing about my maternal grandmother passing away.
Booking tickets to get to the Sacramento, CA area.
Getting time off work.
Hosting 8 of Bryan's extended family in our house.
Throwing Clay's 4th birthday party with 8 little boys and lots of rockets.

Now relaxing in a chilly airport with free, slow WiFi.

I am looking forward to warmth outside in sunny California. I heard it is 90 there today.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I updated some pics on my picasa site. There are pictures from
our family going to a Twins game at the new stadium,
me in Colorado Springs with my sister's family,
us helping Bryan's brother and family with their new house,
Mother's Day and the awesome orchestra concert attended,
and my sister-in-law, Chrystine's, graduation with her masters in social work!

Enjoy! We are off to Washington DC today for a week. We will have lots of pictures to share so I am glad to be all caught up on updating the family.

Monday, May 24, 2010

smiling because of my boys

I love it when my boys bring a smile to my face.

I thought they were outgrowing the goodbye waves out the school window this morning. I kissed and hugged both boys goodbye after I dropped them off and helped them switch to their inside shoes. Clay took off and didn't even think about going to the window to say goodbye. Jaden just happened to be talking with a friend at the window. I walked outside. Turned around and Jaden didn't even glance my way. I blew a kiss anyway. So sad but I realize they are constantly getting bigger and older.

Then tonight I left the house to do a little shopping for my friend's wedding this Saturday. As I left both boys ran to the garage door and yelled goodbye! They both blew me multiple kisses. Just melts my heart! I sure love those guys.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

work and war

I am learning all kinds of new words at work lately:
defilade-using an obstacle to conceal or shield
fratricide-killing of a brother; friendly fire

I read the word Warfighter countless times today. This is the first project that I have been constantly reminded that I am helping soldiers. I actually believe this weapon will help soldiers fight wars so that their lives may be spared.

I do not like war and wish we never had to fight wars. That is not the reality we live in. I still wish I was not apart of war by designing weapons.

My job does make me think of soldiers more and how hard their lives must be, especially when at war. I do not keep going back to work because of the soldiers that may be helped. I do not keep going back to work because I think weapons are cool. I do not keep coming back to work because of the day to day tasks that I do.

I keep going back to work because of the people that I am surrounded by. I want to get to know them, invest in them, befriend them, love them and help them move toward God on their spiritual journey.

I just wish, hope and pray that someday soon, I will get to go to work for that reason AND because I love the work that I do. Here's hoping that I get a call for a NASA interview soon.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

we have a great babysitter

Tabitha is our awesome babysitter. The boys love her. She is at our house every Wednesday night for Meal Group and comes sporadically for date nights. She has fun with our kids and takes good care of them. She rarely has anything negative to say about them, which I question, but she says the boys are so good.

Sometimes the boys get to watch movies with Tabitha. She is great about playing board games with the boys. They love to play games! Therefore, they love Tabitha.

Tabitha always makes macaroni and cheese and hot dogs for the boys. They love the routine of it and they love that meal. Again this makes them love her more. I feel a little bad for Tabitha but I try to provide her with other options for her to eat if she is interested.

Last night when she came, she brought 2 packages of sugar cookie dough, frosting and sprinkles. What a great babysitter! I knew the kids would enjoy that.

The boys enjoyed a cookie last night and a couple cookies today. I keep finding sprinkles all over the kitchen but it is worth it. Tabitha is so great, she even does our dishes. I will clean up a few sprinkles any day for someone who loves my boys and does my dishes! Thanks Tabitha.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I love free concerts and being a mom

I had a great Mother's Day on Sunday with my boys and husband. Bryan's schedule was off because he had been working overnights so I planned to make breakfast with the boys. My favorite breakfasts always involved some yummy, homemade bread/grain treat and fruit and don't forget the chocolate milk. The boys and I decided to make banana pancakes. I love it when they help me in the kitchen. I would love to raise boys who like to cook.

We had banana pancakes 3 times in Honduras and I fell in love with them. So yummy! We made the recipe that we got from some friends in staff housing there. I wasn't sure how they would turn out but they were as good as I remember. We had banana pancakes with syrup, strawberries and chocolate milk.

While we were eating, Jaden asked, "Why do we get chocolate milk?"
I replied, "Because it is a special day for me and I like to share it."
He seemed ok with that answer and any answer would have been just fine.
He was just thinking, "How do I make this happen everyday?"

After our mid-morning breakfast, Bryan planned for us to go to a free orchestra concert at the Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul. The St. Paul Symphony does a free concert there every Mother's Day. We went two years ago and it was my best Mother's Day memory yet. The building is just beautiful and has a huge glass ceiling and atrium. Such a beautiful setting for a concert. The concert was about an hour long and the boys did pretty well with snacks and toys in the balcony. Their favorite part was the guest percussionist that did the last song (26 minutes long). He was amazing and so fun to watch.

We attempted to go for a mid-afternoon lunch/dinner before church at the Cheesecake Factory. We didn't think it would be so busy at 3:30 but we guessed wrong. We ended up going to PF Chang's which was ok but they ran out of everything fun for the kids (no colors or papers or kids chopsticks or magna-doodles) which made the meal not so fun. We ended the night with church and the boys favorite outside game, bocce ball.

It was a great Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

broken garage door mama

Yesterday I joined the ranks of great women: my mom, my mother-in-law and at least one sister-in-law. I ran into the garage door! Thankfully our old door recovered well and my quick instincts made me stop instantaneously. That mother-like instinct of, "I just hit something or ran over something," made me stop right away. I quickly realized it was the garage door and hit the button to stop it. One wheel of the garage door came off the track, which my handy husband, Bryan, was able to fix. I just pushed the bent wooden door back in place.

I think that all of those great women were just distracted by their kids as I was yesterday. All great moms. Happy Mother's Day Mom, Vicki, Roxanne, Nicole, Chrystine and Laura and to all the grandmas!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

my smart boys

I hesitate to write this blog but hopefully it will help me keep things in perspective. Today Bryan and I met with the boys teacher at the Montessori school they attend 3 days a week. I always enjoy talking with Mr. Jason and today was no exception.

We first talked about Clay. We talked about that Clay still observes a lot of work and needs encouragement to perform his own work. He is interested in older materials that are usually not interesting to other 3 year old kids, such as math materials and reading. We were told today that Mr. Jason has observed Clay reading 2 words at different times. We have not been pushing this but he has been going along the journey of Jaden learning to read. Mr. Jason went on to say that in his 10 years of teaching that he has only had one other 3 year old that was so interested in reading at this young of an age. That is pretty cool that Clay is already at that stage. Much sooner than I thought he would be there.

Then we talked about Jaden. He is five and continues to practice reading and language materials. We talked about how he is doing addition in his head already. He has worked some with the math materials but not that much. It seems he has picked it up very easily. We didn't put any effort into teaching him addition (which is unusual because I seem to put effort into everything he learns). He is not only adding numbers up to 10 + 10 and larger, but he is adding them in his head, without paper or using fingers. Bryan thinks he might be a little math whiz.

I am thinking both of our boys are little geniuses. I am just happy knowing that this will make school more enjoyable for them. I hesitate in writing this because I have a problem comparing my boys to other kids. I see other kids and wonder why are my boys not doing that? It makes me feel bad that I am not teaching them more and devoting more time to it. I have way too high of expectations for myself and them. This is just a bad cycle of guilt and feeling like I am not doing enough. I am working on comparing my kids less and realizing that they are individuals and will do things at different times compared to other kids.

I am trying to celebrate my kids learning ability but I hope that this is not causing others to have comparison problems, like me. Through this, I am trying to realize that it is truly God that I have to thank for my boys learning ability. It is because of Him that they are so blessed. Thanks God.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Joshua, 4 months old

Gregory, 3 years old

I have 6 nephews (and 2 nieces) and I got to spend over 5 days with 2 of my nephews this week. It was so great to get to know Gregory and Joshua more over the last few days.

Gregory is going to be one of those amazing adults that is so encouraging and positive that you can't help but just want to be around him. He continually compliments people and says nice things. He is the most polite kid I have ever met. His parents are raising him well but I think God has just given him an incredible heart. He has such grown-up emotion about people. I love being around him and he is only three. He and I pulled a bunch of weeds this week and he just kept telling me nice things. "Quel, you doing nice job." "Quel, this looks good." "Quel, you good worker." He always says please and thank you and your welcome. So sweet.

Joshua is one of those kids that you work really hard to raise, especially during infancy, and it causes you to love him more, with quirks and all. He is not an easy-going baby but it feels so good to figure out something that makes him happy. When you make a baby like Joshua happy, it is so rewarding. His smiles in between screams and crying make me want to try harder to please him. He can be cuddly but he wants you to figure him out first. He needs a soft blanket in his hands to hold. He only likes being held in your left arm. Sometimes he just needs to suck on his pacifier in between gulps of the bottle. I love this little, finicky guy.

Friday, April 30, 2010

my sister

I am heading back to Bloomington today to see my boys and husband after being gone for 6 days. I am very fortunate that I got to help my sister, Roxanne, and her family (Tom, Gregory and Joshua) this week. Roxanne got out of the hospital on Sunday night when I arrived so we got to spend the week together at her house.

Roxanne has recovered quite well. She has some bruising from shots to her stomach and is short of breath sometimes but the pain seems to be getting better. She is one tough woman. I know that most moms are but she was a trooper while taking care of her kids in and out of the hospital. It is amazing what a mom is trained to do after having a kid. We can go through pain and sickness and still make sure that our kids are fed and clothed. Roxanne has reminded me of how true this is.

Roxanne and Tom are both tough people. Both have been in pain at various times throughout the week. Tom had invasive knee surgery a few weeks ago. He is not back to his fully capable self yet so I am glad I could help him out too.

I tried to jump in and help whenever I could with loading and unloading the dishwasher, changing diapers, getting kids dressed, feeding kids, folding clothes and going up and down stairs to get a variety of items. I also helped get some stuff ready for Gregory's 3 year old birthday party tomorrow.

I love my family and love my sister and her family. I want to be a sister and daughter that helps out whenever possible. I know they would have survived without me but I am happy that I got to make their load a little lighter by being there.

Monday, April 26, 2010

family medical issues

I am in Colorado Springs helping my sister, Roxanne, and her family. She got out of the hospital yesterday after being admitted with multiple blood clots in her lungs. She is still in pain and recovering so it is nice to be here to help with my 4 month old nephew, Joshua, and my almost 3 year old nephew, Gregory. Gregory's birthday is tomorrow so it will be fun to be here for that.

It is very rare for someone as young as my sister (4 years older than me) to get blood clots in her lungs but she has two risk factors: had a baby less than 6 months ago and was on birth control (Yaz which has a higher incidence of clots than other BC pills). I am learning that if you have pain when you breathe, it can be very dangerous. She had pain with every breath, not just deep breaths.

We are all very thankful that she knew that the pain was too much to bear and went into the ER. Things could have been much worse but we are very thankful to God for getting her through this.

I will be here till Friday when I fly home. My husband has been amazing through all of this and has the kids by himself this week. We are getting help from school, my brother and his family, a babysitter and a friend in order to get through this week. We are very grateful to everyone who is helping out while I am out of town.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

meal group

We have a couples Meal Group that meets every Wednesday night, sometimes at our house and usually led by Bryan and me. Last night it was our turn to host. Bryan made the majority of dinner which was a big feat for him because he doesn't like to cook. He made his first turkey! It turned out pretty well but he is even better at mashed potatoes. We had corn and rolls too. I made the gravy and one of my favorite desserts, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I am looking forward to dessert leftovers tonight. The cake turned out awesome! I love that recipe even though I only make it about once a year.

We love our meal group. It is not just a small group with our church. We get to share life over meals every Wednesday. I love those couples. They are our family in Minneapolis.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

resting is hard

This morning I went to a women's gathering at my church, Upper Room Community. I was looking forward to the speaker who makes the Bible come alive as we discuss it together. Before her talk all of the women were divided into small groups of 6-10 women. We had a few warm-up questions to help us get to know each other. One of the questions asked was, "If you could have a super-power, what would it be?" I have had this question asked of me before but do not remember what I have answered in the past. Someone else answered first as I was thinking of my answer. I had just bitten into my muffin when my answer just came to me. I had to get it out. There was a pause in conversation and so with food in my mouth, I blurted out clumsily, "I would not want to have to sleep."

This is so telling of me. I was embarrassed after I said it because of the food still in my mouth but probably more so because of what my words say about me. I always feel like there is more to do in this life. It would be so great if I didn't have to sleep. I could get so much done. I clearly have a problem relaxing, as my husband likes to remind me. Why do I feel such a weight to get more done? I really do want to live the best life possible, that God will allow me to live. I want to live every moment like it's my last and squeeze every last little bit of fun, emotion and conversation out of life. I hope that I am doing everything with God's strength and not to impress God or others. I know that there is nothing I can do to get God to love me more.

Somehow I need to realize the benefit of rest and relaxation and rejuvenation and that God commands us to have that in our lives. Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. Work 6 days and rest on the 7th. What does that look like in our lives today when we work 5 days or 3 days at a job, and take care of our houses and kids? I am still trying to figure that out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

helping the soldiers

Today was the first day in the last 15 months at work that I truly felt like I was working on a weapon to help a soldier stay alive in Afghanistan. We got feedback on the weapon that it needs to be able to shoot farther distances because the soldiers are getting fired at with rocket propelled grenades at too close of ranges.

Bryan thinks I am working on a pretty cool weapon but I am not in agreement. I never thought I would be working on a gun (weapon) and bullets (ammunition).

The ammunition was #46 on the Time magazine best inventions of 2009. You can read about it here by clicking on 46. The Smart Bullet.

On a side note, I also worked on the best invention of 2009, according to Time. I spent 2 months working on the Ares 1 rocket to replace the Space Shuttle, which is why I took the job I have now. Too bad it didn't last longer.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

You know you work on weapons when...(#7)

...you are told that you will soon be calculating Pi (subscript i), which is the PROBABILITY OF INCAPACITATION! Really!?! This is great motivation to look for another job.

I am working on the most clearly lethal weapon in my repertoire yet. It is a quite powerful and innovative gun. Jaden thinks it is pretty cool, but tries to sympathize by telling me to quit and stay home. Clay feels my agony and thinks I should get another job.

The boys were quite taken by watching a Star Wars cartoon with a friend in Honduras and told me about "a bubble that protects you from guns." Then they asked me if I could make a bubble gun. They think my job is pretty cool even though I don't.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter boys

Here are my sweet, yet rambunctious boys while refusing to pose for pictures.

We had lots of fun this Easter, including 3 egg hunts (probably more to come around our house this week). The boys love hiding and finding anything. We were asked more than a few times if Jesus is still on the cross and, "Where is Jesus now?" I really think the boys just liked hearing us tell them that Jesus is in heaven and all around us.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

layoffs and a new manager

There has been a lot of transition at my workplace the last 2 days. Not good transition. Yesterday 36 people were laid off. There was no warning and no discussion prior to this. The individuals were told to pack of their stuff and leave. The building was drastically affected by this. People were sad and half-moping and half-wondering what is going on.

I wondered why him and not me. I felt bad for my coworkers with no income. I personally new and worked with 2 of the guys. I feel for them but it seems like there is not much I can do.

Yesterday I was also told that I would be getting a new manager and that engineering was getting reorganized. My manager would still have a job but just a different one. I was worried about this because my manager hired me and she is very understanding of me working part-time. She has given me a lot of flexibility that I don't want to lose. Today I found out who my new manager is and it is the best possible option so that is good.

Hopefully next week will be calmer but I am doubtful because I am stuck in a tug-of-war between two programs that want me to work for them and each wants me to only work on their program. We will see...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Honduras pictures

We posted a summary of our Honduras pictures here. Bryan added comments below the pictures. Bryan and I always have fun taking pictures and this time Kim helped us take some of these.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Stories From Honduras

Click on each image and zoom to enlarge and read (unless you have super vision).

Monday, March 22, 2010

sometimes I like my job

There are days when I come home and tell Bryan that I like my job but that doesn't happen often. Today he asked me to repeat myself.
I like writing documents to describe systems.
I like it when I can formulate intelligent questions and get answers from my design team.
I like it when I feel like I am understanding what everyone is talking about.
I like staying busy at work and having things to do that when I know what is required of me.
I also like leaving work early because I worked too many hours last week.

Maybe this work day was so great because it only lasted 6 1/2 hours. Or maybe I actually enjoyed the work that I did. I think the balance keeps me enjoying life more.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

potty talk

This was the conversation I heard from my bed this morning while trying to pretend that the boys can take care of themselves.

Jaden: Clay, come look. (from bathroom)
Clay: What?
Jaden: I pooped a 'J'.
Clay: Oh.
Jaden: Maybe you can poop a 'C'.
Clay: Yeah.

At least Jaden wiped his own bottom this morning. We are still working on bathroom privacy issues and proper conversations.

Monday, March 15, 2010

two working parents

I am not sure how people do it that have kids and have two parents working full-time. It is always hard for me when I work Wed, Thurs, Fri and then have a 2 days weekend and go back to work on Monday. There is just so much to do for the kids and for our family that it makes life really hard.

I felt pretty good going back to work last Wednesday after returning from Honduras on Monday, but now I am feeling overwhelmed. I am still trying to finish some stuff up for a missionary in Honduras. I need to put a presentation together for work tonight and I am working weird hours Monday and Tuesday this week because we have a vendor visiting. This just throws life up in the air.

Tonight I let the boys watch TV for a little bit while I made dinner. Bryan got home just in time for dinner at 7pm. The boys got dinner and a bath and now are getting to bed after 8pm. That is our life when Bryan and I both work. It makes life hard some days and I am sure thankful that I don't work full-time.

Thankfully not every week is like this but this week I am already looking forward to Wednesday night coming so I can have 4 days off from work. (That is if I don't end up calling in for a meeting on Thursday.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kim found God!

Another Honduras related update...
Bryan's sister, Kim, went with us to Honduras. Originally we asked her to go with us to help take care of the boys so that I could do more to help out around the clinic/hospital. As time went on (in the months before we left), we figured it would be good for her and I to trade off taking care of the kids and take turns helping out. Once we arrived in Honduras and met the 6 single young ladies in staff housing, where we were staying, we reassessed our plans. Bryan and I now wanted to make sure that Kim had as much time as possible to spend with these young Christian women who were devoting a period of their lives to serving others.

Kim made a point to talk with all of them and hear their stories of how they decided to become Christians. I think this really helped Kim on her spiritual journey. We also had her read The Shack and talked with her about it. We also made it a point to talk with her about faith and making a decision. Bryan talked one night, late into the night with her.

Then on the night we flew back, Jaden asked Kim, "Kim, why don't you like Jesus?" We did not put those words in his mouth. We have been praying a lot for Kim to find God and come to know and love Jesus. Kim tried avoided the question and I pushed Jaden to get her to answer. The conversation was over after Kim said, "I do like Jesus." That didn't mean much to me but apparently it got Kim thinking.

We had one more spiritual conversation with her before she left for her drive from Minneapolis back to Fargo on Tuesday. She definitely had some things to think about in the car.

We got a phone call from Kim when she was almost to Fargo. This was possibly the greatest phone call I have every received. She talked with Bryan and I heard Bryan say, "So, you are a Christian?" I wanted to get on the phone and hear the story. Kim told me that she found God! Between Jaden's question, our many conversations, meeting some Christian peers and some inspiring music, Kim found God! She is still searching and wanting to deepen her faith but she is on the right path. She found salvation in Jesus and realized that she needed to be saved.

Talking with her again tonight made it so real. She made this decision and she means it. This is so inspiring to me. It deepens my faith to know that God answers prayer and he is still moving on Earth today.

Kim is an amazing sister-in-law, my little sis. She has so much potential in this life and now that she has God, I can't wait to see how He will inspire her to use her gifts. She has an amazing eye for photography and is a talented graphic designer. She is the friendliest person I know and gets along well with anyone. Kim is even more amazing now that she has added God into the equation.

Monday, March 8, 2010

day 19 of 19: we're home to the cold

We are back in our house and it is cold. We set the heat to 60 degrees F while we were gone and we need some heat. It is hard coming back to the cold. I really hope that sunshine comes to Minnesota soon. At least the temperature is supposed to be in the 40's the next couple of days.

This morning we had to get up at 5:30am to catch our ride to the airport. We got our Honduran breakfast to go. We enjoyed fried plantains with Honduran cream, scrambled eggs, toast and fruit (watermelon, cantaloupe, apples and papaya). I will miss the plantains. I am sure I will be making them sometime soon.

We had layovers in Miami and Chicago. We just recently got home at 9:30 so it has been a long day. We are happy to be home and now have the day tomorrow to unpack before we both head back to work on Wednesday.

We have lots to process from Honduras from all we saw and did there.
Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

day 18 of 19: San Pedro Sula

We are relaxing in San Pedro Sula tonight after the 4 hour drive here today. We got to go to church this morning and say goodbye to lots of the missionary families. As we were getting ready to load our bags in our vehicle, I remembered that we still had a load of laundry in the dryer. Wow, that would not have been a good thing to forget, especially with the boys swimming suits in there. The drive was uneventful. We had 7 people in a 6 passenger vehicle so it was not the most comfortable 4 hour drive. We got some Wendy's for lunch. We were cruising if we were able to go 50 miles an hour. We were driving on some of their best roads here and they were still incredibly bumpy. Makes me realize how much we have improved and perfected road construction in the US.

Once we got to the hotel tonight the boys went swimming in the pool. Jaden told me on the ride here, "I will be happier after I get to go in the pool." He had a blast even in the cool 70 degree weather.

We leave the hotel at 6:30 in the morning so we will be up early. We are praying for a safe and uneventful trip home.

day 17 of 19: last day at Loma de Luz

Today we tried to fit in as much as possible because it is our last full day at the Loma de Luz hospital and clinic. Bryan went on a hike up in to the mountains with another doctor to talk with any Hondurans they could find. They were served an unexpected lunch by one family. He had a great time.

I got to go to a young mother's book study. It is led by an older mom with some grown kids and she is very helpful and understanding of the 4 young moms here.

Then Kim, Jaden, Clay and I went to the Bamboo Waterfall. We climbed rocks, ate fresh oranges, played in the water and watched lots of people cliff jump into the waterfall.

Tonight we tried to finish off the last of our food and shared dessert with another missionary family.

We are now packed and ready for the drive to San Pedro Sula on Sunday. We will stay overnight there and then fly out Monday.

Our time here has gone so quickly. We have very much enjoyed it and can't wait to return again.

Friday, March 5, 2010

day 16 of 19: first ER trip

Today did not go as planned. The boys and I got a ride in La Ceiba to meet Kim and do some shopping in a souvenir shop. We met Kim at the hotel. Took a tax to the souvenir shop. Got out and were exploring the hammocks outside the shop. Jaden got in one two-person hammock and Clay wanted to get in one too. The one that was closest was quite high off the ground so I just lifted Clay up there. I stood beside him the whole time and gave instructions to Jaden and Clay about what not to do in hammocks and to be careful because it is easy to fall out. Both boys have been sitting in hammocks frequently at missionary houses and at staff housing (our home). No one had fallen out and they seemed to understand the instability of hammocks. It is important to note that these hammocks were both two-person hammocks with wooden rods across each end and probably tip easier than one-person hammocks.

Kim came over to ask me a question and I took my eyes off of Clay and next thing I know he is tipping over and I am trying to grab him and watch him nail his head into the stone bench/step below the hammock. I try grabbing him before he hits the concrete ground and miss and he hits his head again. I am freaking out and quickly scoop him up and turn away toward the store. A lady runs over and quickly puts her hand to Clay's huge cut on his forehead to apply pressure as blood is gushing out of his head. Clay is crying. I am crying. A man comes over and says God is with you because you have a nurse with you (holding Clays wound) and says he can take us to the hospital. I am agreeing God is with us and please take us. We all leave in his car together.

We arrive at Hospital D'Antoni (private hospital, but still questionable care). We get rushed in to a bed. I proceed to lay with Clay over the next 20 minutes and hold him still. I try to calm him down amidst my tears and the tape in my head repeating, "I shouldn't have put him up there. I am so sorry I let this happen to you." Clay screamed like crazy, even though the doctor tried to numb the area (not very well). We didn't know what to do. Our new friends left. I began wondering should be have had Clay stitched up here or tried to get to the hospital where we are staying (1 1/2 hours away). We have no ride and no phone. We also looked for a phone number and couldn't find anyway to call anyone. We had a meeting place in about an hour to our ride. We decide to just go to the meeting place but first I pay the bill...$50. At least we got off cheap relative to American ER's but the care was not great.

Later I realized that the doctor didn't clean out the wound. And I found out that the doctor stitched Clay incorrectly, with the wrong thread and the wrong stitch. I'm sure he will have a scar. The wound is incredibly deep and about 1 1/2 cm long above his left eyebrow.

Poor Clay has been so traumatized by today. In reality he says he doesn't even remember what happened and it doesn't hurt. Now I just need to get over my trauma.

Bryan and the surgeon here looked at the wound tonight and okayed it but put Clay on antibiotics just in case of infection.

We are praying for an uneventful next few days until we return home.

day 15 of 19: bus adventure

The boys and I went on an adventure today. (Sidenote: Kim went to La Ceiba, the nearest city, with a friend, Joelle, to stay overnight and explore the city.) We all boarded the "chicken bus" at 10:30 this morning. I'm not sure why they call it that but it might be because they pack in so many people. Or it might be because people hall chicks on the bus to their houses and full-size chickens on the bus to sell them. We got on the bus at the hospital and were planning to get off at a town called Lis Lis to go to the local school to talk with teachers who know no English (oh, did I mention I know very little Spanish, pretty much none). Two other guys from the hospital helped me try to figure out where the Lis Lis stop was but we were just giving it our best guess. We got off and stopped at the pulperia (snack shop/store in someone's house) to get the boys a snack before the school. I was told by Dr. Don that we could throw a rock to the school. Well, we couldn't see it but kept walking. The further we walked the more concerned I got. I just thought, the worst that could happen is that we will not find the school and just catch the next bus in an hour back to the hospital. We kept walking and starting hearing kids singing and reciting and we followed the sound. We found the school and tried to communicate to the teachers there. This was a three building school for about 30-50 kids; much larger than the typical one room/building schools. We were on a mission to show a Christian powerpoint presentation to teach English so that the teachers and kids can use the 6 presentations any time they want. The school has almost nothing. Most schools are lucky if they have textbooks. This school was just given 17 computers, paid for by the government. This is more than a small miracle. It is a huge leap to go from textbook shortage to computer surplus. I was told they would need training on turning them on and how to use them but I found a computer technician that supposedly works among a few of the schools. We were unsuccessful at getting the presentation to work, which is good to know and we are working to fix it. All of this was attempted communication between my lack of Spanish and their lack of English. It was quite comical in hindsight. I thought the teacher may have offered us a ride home but wasn't sure. We waited around and were able to get a ride in a truck and avoid the bus home. I wasn't sure if we would have to walk part of the way because the teacher did not live as far as we needed to go. God was truly with us and we were dropped off at the gate of the hospital. I was happy to be back home safely.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

day 14 of 19: bugs

There are bugs everywhere here. Bugs in the sink. Bugs on the floor. Bugs on your feet. Bugs in your food. Bugs crawling out of your broccoli (large cockroach really freaked me out). Bugs in your bed. Bugs on your ceiling.

In addition to the bugs, there are geckos everywhere. They are useful bug eaters but they poop everywhere. In the shower. On the table. In the suitcase.

There are bugs in the shower frequently, along with the gecko poop. Tonight Bryan was showering with the boys and when they got out, Jaden said, "Mom, there was a really big bug in the shower. I responded, "Cool!" Then Bryan pointed out to me that only would this happen in Honduras. Bugs are not cool in the shower. So true. Our boys are finally getting used to bugs but neither of them has killed anything here yet, other than stepping on a few ants.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

day 13 of 19: useful

Today I got to use my gift for organization on the bookshelves in staff housing. It is a small library for the missionaries and visitors to borrow and lend books. It has not been organized in a long time and books are stacked on top of books on every shelf. I am not done yet but will finish this week.

Kim worked hard on a presentation to teach local people some English along with some Christian principles and parts of the Bible. She is adding audio files to the powerpoint files. There are many more hours of work to do but she has a good start.

It is nice to feel useful.

day 12 of 19: hot and humid

It was hot and sunny and beautiful in Roatan today. We made a little time for the beach and snorkeling before we left. We made it back safely to the mainland on the ferry with no one throwing up either way. Bryan, Kim and Clay all get motion sickness so the free Dramamine was very much appreciated.

We made a simple spaghetti dinner and shared with everyone who was around in staff housing. It has been so fun that staff housing is quite full. We have gotten to know lots of new people. There are 7 single people in staff housing that are here (on average) for a year.

It is so humid that we are still sweating even though the temperature has dropped (probably in the upper 70s). It turns into a bit of a cold sweat at night. This weather is not my favorite but it is a nice change from snow for a couple of weeks.

Monday, March 1, 2010

day 11 of 19: canopy and monkeys

Today was another day of clouds and big waves. Not great conditions for snorkeling, sailing or diving (all which were planned). We are going back to the mainland tomorrow without sailing or diving. I have yet to be on a sailboat but I will make it one day. Bryan still hopes to go diving someday.

We did, however, make it to Gumbalimba. It is a neat park with a canopy (zip lines), monkeys and exotic birds. Bryan and I got to do the zip lines together while others took care of our boys. It was a blast! There were 20 platforms and 13 zip lines that were high up in the air. We had a great view and even saw an iguana munching on a tree. After the zip lines, we got to have monkeys and large, colorful birds sit on our shoulders and heads (not at the same time). It was so neat to be so close to monkeys and watch their behavior. They truly are curious monkeys.

Monday we are taking the ferry back to La Ceiba and then heading to the hospital for another week of work there. It has been so nice to get in some fun while in Honduras.

day 10 of 19: unexpected Roatan

We were in Roatan 1 ½ years ago for vacation in West Bay (more luxurious part of the island) and now we are staying in West End (more restaurants and diving). Today Bryan and I took turns snorkeling while one of us played with the boys. I skinned my leg on the coral. Ya, I know you are not supposed to touch the coral because it dies, but it just jumped out at me…and there were waves making it harder to swim away.

The boys had a blast playing in the sand and water. It is amazing how entertained they are with just those two things. It was fun watching them have so much fun. I’m pretty sure they entertained many people around us too.

day 9 of 19: diarrhea times four

Diarrhea is no fun especially when your whole family has it. Especially when two little boys have it. Especially when a smaller boy can’t make it to the bathroom. Lots of laundry was done today.

On the sunnier side of things...we are heading out to the vacation island of Roatan. Our host missionary, Renee, invited us to go with her to meet 2 of her friends flying in there. We are staying 3 nights and are planning to get in lots of beach time.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

day 8 of 19: from Honduras to Haiti

On Thursdays at Loma de Luz, there is a gathering of all of the missionaries for some singing, sometimes preaching or story-sharing and lots of prayer. Tonight we had the privilege of hearing Dr. Don Rumbaugh's stories from being in Haiti for the last 17 days. He just arrived back in Honduras last night. He is one of the physicians at the hospital/clinic here and left for awhile to help people in greater need. It was great to hear about his experience there. It continues to shock and overwhelm me when I hear and see the devastation in Haiti. I am once again asking myself, "What is my response?" "What should I do to help?" I am still thinking and praying and meditating on that. We have given money and have prayed. What else? I know there is more to be done.

I know it is Jesus's heart to help the poor, feed the hungry and cloth the naked. I want to share in that love and do the same.

day 7 of 19: glasses

Ever wonder what happened to your old eye glasses that you donated to the Lions’ Club? They might be in Honduras. I went through and cataloged 41 pair of glasses today. The clinic is in the transition phases of putting all of their glasses into a computerized searching system. So when a patient needs glasses, you can just enter the prescription (after it is determined) into the computer system and it displays the possible options. The sad thing is that it may take your glasses 20-40 years to arrive and get used in another country. Next time I come, I may bring my old glasses with me to donate so they will actually have a few modern pair of glasses from the last 20 years.

day 6 of 19: ate with the bugs

We had mac-n-cheese and hot dogs for dinner. Nothing adventurous tonight unless you intentionally chose to eat food sprinkled with bugs. The bugs were swarming us at dinner. Some may think that if a bug flies in your food or drink, then stop eating or drinking it but here, that is a normal occurrence. We just pick out the bug and keep going. There is a boundary for me beyond that. When there are too many bugs too keep up with, it is time to stop eating. That is what happened tonight.

Monday, February 22, 2010

day 5 of 19: heat has hit

This is the weather that I remember about Honduras. It is in the low 80's and so hot and humid you just want to lay around. Kim tried to get the boys to go outside this morning and they refused. That might have been because she was doing a really good job of entertaining them. Jaden has been loving being in nature constantly. Even when we are "indoors," the windows are open and usually the door(s) are open and fans are blowing. It doesn't ever really feel like you are indoors but you are protected from the rain.

It is so humid here that you just never dry out. Everything feels sticky and sweaty all the time. We are taking lots of showers but I am about to give up because you only feel clean for about 5 minutes. Might just cut back to one shower a day.

We have done some more adventuring.
Went to La Quinta Beach near the hospital (yesterday).
Went to Christie's Beach and explored the enchanted forest there. The trees looked like the Ents from Lord of the Rings. Like they could just get up and walk away any moment. They have wide trunk-like feet and are massively tall.
Hiked from staff housing (our home) to the water towers up the hill. Quite a climb for 2 short-legged people but we made it. We even let both boys climb the water tower. That scared me a little but we all survived and no one was injured.

I got to help in the clinic/hospital today. I helped Nancy and a few others put away all of the medical supplies we brought down. I really enjoyed it and had fun trying to communicate in Spanish. I really need to take some classes. Bryan admitted his first patient to the hospital and saw some other sick people in the clinic. We had dinner with the Fields. There was great food and great conversation.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

day 3 of 19: feeling the sun

It was rainy and cold on Thursday when we arrived (70 deg F). Today was quite the contrast with sunny, hot and humid. We hung-out with a bunch of other gringos (white people) at the Lis Lis River and its sandy banks. We had a great potluck and one of the guys grilled. There were lots of little kids around for the boys to play with.

The downside is that we all (5 of us) got a little sunburned. We didn't burn once when we were here in 2008 and this was our first day outside and we burnt. We will definitely be more careful from now on.

There were a bunch of missionary families at the river. One truck got stuck crossing the river (normal practice here without bridges) and they almost lost the vehicle to water damage but they took apart things and cleaned and dried it and it is now running. Quite a miracle.