Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Adorable Geek

Kaisha got her teeth today. To her it was like a gift or a prize or a box of chocolates. She was so excited! Dental assisting version of geeking out. She was adorable about it.

We're still waiting on my mom's property. It's still unbelievable...

Ania is getting a little cold and was trying to convince me tonight that she is very, very sick and needs to stay home from school tomorrow.

I filled the dents and holes in the walls, especially up and down the stairs, from moving (there were lots of dings when we moved in from the renters that were here before us) and spray spackled them. All ready to paint tomorrow. Same color. Just without the dirt and stains and holes.

Showed my mom where to pick up Alissa when she has swim practice up at Western. I am counting the days until Alissa is 16 and can drive herself places! I love that she is on the swim team, but the driving is hard. Three mornings a week at 6AM and five afternoons a week to/from the different pools. Plus team parties and Young Life and youth group and extra credit stuff. Then walking the little girls to/from school ten times each week. It's a lot. It just started and I'm already feeling a bit worn out. It'll get interesting next week when I start my 18 credits. Ahhh, life can be crazy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


First, just to get it out of my system, I cannot wait for the day when nobody cries themselves to sleep in my house. Someday my sweet Ani-girl will have grown entirely out of the bedtime blues. Right? I have to remind myself that the intermittent bedtime sads are MUCH better than the nightly 2 1/2 hours nightmare we were going through last October. Those were like whole little lifetimes in and of themselves. Everything from rage to giggles to control issues to heart breaking sadness was happening EVERY night. Many nights I ended up in tears at 11pm. And the poor little girl was getting up and going off to school the next morning on only a little bit of sleep. Oh my gosh, it was horrible. This is so, so much better. She often goes to bed without any drama. Ahhhh. The problem is that I hope for that every night and when we hit a bad night it's rather taxing on me. This is where being a single mom hits the hardest. Between about 7pm to 10pm. I'm so done with the day. So tired. And then if she is sad it's just the beginning of a couple really long hours. Tonight I had to be at the high school for Parent's Night, so she didn't get home and in bed until 9pm. But it only took her an hour and 15 minutes of crying and sadness and calling me. Much better than 2.5 hours. Right? It's getting better.

Kaisha and I went to Everett to watch most of Alissa's first meet! Most, because I had to be at Parent's Night at 6pm. Ha! Spread a little thin at times! Kaisha and I had such a fun time! Lots of time in the car to talk about life and just be happy together. So, so fun. We stopped at the Seattle Outlet Mall and did some amazingly quick shopping. She found shoes for the wedding on Sunday. Breath of relief, they go with the dress AND the earrings. Pretzels for dinner. Starbucks for energy. Found the pool without getting lost. Then the fun begins. 

 A little photography talk. I took my zoom in hopes of getting better pictures. It's HARD to get good pictures at a swim meet! But the aperture just doesn't open up wide enough to keep the shutter fast enough to keep from getting blurred shots. So, out comes the trusty 1.4 fixed lens. Light and shutter problems gone, but some photo editing needed to crop out the extra stuff that the distance creates. I love my 1.4.
 See? Most swim shots get deleted because of this. You can't always get their actual face. But you definitely get the splashy water thing going.
 Love watching the girls cheer on their friends. They cheer to a beat...only yelling "go" when the swimmer's ears actually come out of the water. 
 It means so much to Alissa when we make it to her meets. I try to get to know the girls and talk to them. A bunch of really nice girls. Julie. Maddie. Keegan. Chloe. Abby.
 The girls got their new team suits today. Storm colors and lightening on them! Way cool for being Squalicum Storm.


 These are what the girls are given for each event they swim in. Alissa is on varsity. Freestyle is her stroke of choice. She swam on two relays and a 50 Free and 100 Free. Her 50 Frees were in the 29/28 second range. Great times for her first meet and only three weeks of workouts under her belt. And this pool didn't have any blocks so her starts were all off the side of the pool. Much slower starts that way.

See what I mean? Good swim shots are hard to get. Splashy water shot instead. But the splashy shots are a little bit fun too. The best stroke for pictures are the butterfly, which Alissa didn't swim.

Alissa and her friend, Chloe. See the cool lightening on their suits? And Alissa is using a pair of goggles that are very old school. No rubber on them at all. She seemed to be allergic to it. So glad Riley found her this kind to try. They're working way better.

You rock, Alissa. You know it. So proud of you.

Monday, September 12, 2011


I bought more of my books today. It's a little bit like Christmas.
Although, I am a little jealous of Alissa's Forensics class.
Too fun. We have too much fun over here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

On Forgiveness

as we forgive
Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda
by Catherine Claire Larson

A friend gave me this book last November. I read the first few pages but then purposely didn't look at it again for six months. It was too gut wrenching. Too much brutality and pain and deep sadness for my already sad self to take in at the time. This summer I've loved it. It has filled in some holes in my understanding of forgiveness. I still feel like I only really understand the tiniest bit of what forgiveness is and how it works but I sense that it's key to all my tomorrows being ok. Bitterness looks awful to live with. I want to be whole and happy and healthy emotionally after this past year, not wracked with unforgiveness or anger. I'm doing good. I just want to wring out every drop.  

This book follows the stories of six Rwandans' lives before, during, and after the 1994 genocide their country went through that left every 1 in 8 persons dead in just three months time. Not just dead, but horrifyingly murdered, often by yesterday's friends and neighbors. Years later the perpetrators were released from prison in groups of tens of thousands. Most of them headed home where their families were...where their victims families were. Can you imagine the tension? Rwanda became a drama for the world to watch the incredible depth of forgiveness and reconciliation that the human soul is capable of producing, truly with God as the source.  

I would sit in bed reading this book at midnight with tears pouring down my face. These stories are unbelievable. But I didn't walk away thinking that my pain is somehow wimpy or insignificant because nobody has killed my children before my eyes. Minimizing my own hurt, though seemingly irrelevant compared to what happened to these people in Rwanda, isn't part of the answer at all. You can't minimize your pain and work through it simultaneously. One friend told me recently that you have to lean into the pain. Feel the full force of it. It's only when you've let the hurt have freedom to hurt that you can hope to come out of it clear headed and done. Maybe its easier said than done. I'm not really sure.

You often hear people say, as the rational to forgive, that you need to forgive for you. That unforgiveness or the churnings of resentments inside you will mess you up. You can get physically unwell. It will eat at you. Forgive so that you can be healthy both physically and emotionally. I think it's all true. And of course, there is the ultimate biblical obligation to forgive. God has completely forgiven you in Christ and you have no hint of rightness to not forgive your brother. I'm on board there too. I've thought a lot about the New Testament writings on forgiveness.

But there were new thoughts in this book. The one that was huge for me is that forgiveness is a gift you give to the offender. And that the giving of this gift is hard and painful. Giving forgiveness is priceless and an ultimate kindness. There is nothing greater that you could ever give to that person. And giving forgiveness to the person in your life that deserves it the least is really hard to do. As a matter of fact, it's so hard that it hurts. Gut wrenchingly so. But if you can press into that pain and make the choice to forgive, you've done something huge. Something bigger than yourself. Something deeply right in response to something deeply wrong. Who wouldn't walk away from that and not notice that the sky is a little bit bluer and the sun a little brighter? 

"Like everyone who wrestles with forgiveness, I had to first understand what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness does not mean that what happened didn't matter. It isn't sweeping a crime under the rug. It isn't saying the crime was a misunderstanding. It isn't saying that the crime did little harm or that it left no loss in its wake. Forgiveness isn't forgetting. It doesn't have to mean forgoing the established criminal justice system. Forgiveness isn't usually a one-time act, but more commonly a lifetime commitment. Finally, and most important, forgiveness is excruciatingly difficult." (pg. 88) I would also add that forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean you have to go on to have a relationship with that person again. It's ok to be done.

I think about people who won't forgive. There is an incredible amount of power and control that the unforgiving person attempts to retains and holds over the offender. The potential power to make that person feel horrible for the rest of their lives, for example. To plague them with a guilt that even God himself says He is willing to forgive. It seems that the unforgiving person doesn't realize that they, too, are human and fail and sin and offend. Welcome to earth. We actually all stand on equal ground in need of forgiveness from each other. If you're too good to extend forgiveness, perhaps you need to reevaluate your view of yourself. Maybe you're not as neat as you think. And I don't mean that for the person who wants to forgive but struggles to do it. Where do you start? I think you start by getting to a place where you can say to God that you are willing for Him to make you willing to forgive. I don't mean to be cavalier, but honestly...when you can say that to God and really mean it...He'll do the rest. You really can sit back and wait and watch. He is the source, He gives it to you...and forgiveness seems to be one of His specialties.

Saturday Cleaning

Pretend that there is a bad man that just said that you will be put into solitary confinement for three days if he finds even the smallest speck of dirt on the bathroom floor when you are done cleaning it. THAT was my motivational speech to Mia as I left her to clean the floor. Although dangerously close to threatening, I like to think of it more as using the imagination to illicit high quality work from your uninclined nine year old.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Up early. Coffee. Study. Make lunches. Girls to school. Went on a run. Well, a jog. A short jog. A short, slow jog. Short, slow somewhat pathetic version of jogging. But I did it! Went to three stores looking for matching tile for the basement. Found! Home to shower. Grand accomplishment of the day...completing the 7hr HIV class online in 3hrs, printed off the certificate for PTA school. So glad to get that off my plate! Chat with Jen a little bit. More coffee. Cleaned the house. Hung out with Collin. Two different Grants stop over. Walked to pick up the girls from school. Feed starving children. Pull weeds. Hang out with Kaisha. More coffee. Help Alissa with chemistry and algebra. Make dinner. Say hi to Cody as he comes and goes dropping off flowers to his girlfriend's room while she's at work. Clean up from dinner. Read books with Ania. Little girls to bed. Go over tomorrow's plans with Alissa. Check emails. Blogpost. Study in bed. Sleep. Ahhhhh.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

All Smiles

First day of school. 
We walked. 
No tears.
Much bouncing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

School Tomorrow

First day of school for Ania, Mia, and Alissa tomorrow morning! (It was moved a day late due to the strike last week.) We met Ani's first grade teacher today at the Meet & Greet. Loved her. All the first graders in the cul de sac are in the same class. We also met Mia's teacher. Loved her. Mia is one of 11 fourth grade kids in a 4th/5th grade mixed class, along with Mia's friend across the driveway (look out world, the two of them together are magnets for trouble...or at least dirt). One of Mia's friend's from last year is in her class too. The two of them competed in good humor all year for top grades in the class. We were glad to see him take the seat next to her.

Alissa got her schedule last week at the sophomore orientation. She has great classes! Tenth grade English, German, World History, Honors Chemistry, Forensics, & Algebra 2. She catches the bus at 7:09AM when she doesn't have to be there at 6AM for dryland workouts 3 days a week. She's been swimming with the team for over two weeks already. She is about to be rather busy.

The problematic thing is that her unbusyness this summer (spare the fact that she's worked tons!) has totally covered my undoable schedule. In two weeks when I start school I'm not sure how we're going to quite do it. Maybe mom's property issues will be solved and the moving projects completed and angels will come in the night to cook and clean.

I packed the first bento box lunches tonight. My friend turned me onto it, gave me a quick tutorial the other day, took me shopping, and wa-la...first day of school makeshift bento box lunches. I was making it for Mia and Ania and Alissa walked by and asked me to make one for her too. They're kindof lame as far as bento boxes really go...I was tired and couldn't get the rice to pack together and I don't have any books with examples and had no creativity coming so I figured it was close enough. It is my first try, and who knows, maybe my last, but if you never try to do something boring is that. And for me, if I do the time/energy math I always come up in the red, so I just turn a blind eye to reality and do it anyway, hoping that it all works out somehow in the end. Which is usually does.

Alissa gave me a 10PM curfew tonight, which it is. Good-night!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Photo Tour of Sorts

 Collin moved out. A few days ago, really. But tonight is his first sleep at the guy house because he's been touring about in Montana instead of tending to life in the Ham. The three girls and I went over to see his new local. Here are a few images of the eventful event.

 Note the blue chair. The coveted blue chair. The everybody-wants-it blue chair. I bought this chair when I was pregnant with Collin. A comfy recliner rocker for babies. The kids all grew up loving this chair. They grew up to fight over this chair. Evidently, Collin won because this ultimate seat followed him to his new place. Most of the house isn't set up yet. He was going to get his room set up tonight.

 Guy shoes by the door.

 Faded beauty in the kitchen.

 Serious ability to annoy the neighbors.


 More weapons...threatening the photographer.


 Cool flowerlike thing in the front yard.

Pink. Sadly pink. Notice the cat...using their front flowerbed as a litter box. 

Five guys. Three bedrooms plus a garage bedroom. Good location. Pretty cheap rent. It's perfect.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Certain Kind. He's It.

This just in from Idaho via text.

My son. The only one I have. The only son a mom would ever want. He's right next to an angel in my book. The sum of his faults lies in dirty dishes on his bedroom floor and an amazing inability to wake up to an alarm unless it's ringing for something fun.

He's awesome. When I was young and having babies I didn't really want a boy. Boys are dreadful. They bounce off the walls and break things. They are loud and dirty. I prayed (I'm not kidding) that if I had to have a boy that it would be a certain kind of boy. One like Collin.

Said son, at this moment, is half way to Billings, Montana with two of his friends. In my car. He deserves a few days off, he's worked hard all summer. Him and two of his friends going to visit two of their friends. 26 hours of driving for a 48 hour visit. Love it. Happy to lend them my good gas mileage.

And right before he hit the road, he moved out. Loaded up his stuff in my dad's truck, drove two miles away, unloaded it. A perfect move-out scenario. We pretty much think the world of each other in that mom/son sort of way. No negative vibes. It's all good. He's ready to let his alarm go off for an hour and a half in a different house every morning. I'm ready to watch him succeed at school and work and paying bills and grocery shopping... all without a mother hovering in the background. We'll text everyday, he'll come over to study and eat, we'll see each other at church and at school, for that matter. He'll run out of money or decide he doesn't want to take out student loans and I'll invite him to move back in. It's perfect. He's perfect. I'm perfect. It's all perfect.