Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Whew! We are in the homestretch! This week of packing and moving and cleaning and house hunting has been long, but tomorrow it will all be over! We've moved many, many times over the past 9 years. And most of the times, we've done the packing and moving ourselves. So I'm not sure why it was such a surprise this time around, but I just can't believe how much stuff we have. Holy cannoli!
I have spent so much of the past year sorting through toys, books, clothes, and stuff trying to clear out the junk and the items that we just don't don't use. We sold and gave away furniture, coats, shoes...and we still have so much stuff! How did this happen? I'd like to think we live somewhat simply. I certainly consider myself frugal and not a big shopper. But my house was and now our storage location is bursting at the seams, mocking me for how much we still have.

I know having kids plays a huge roll into this. We have fives years worth of toys and clothes stored for the next munchkin- who will, inevitably, end up being a girl, just to spite my thrifty hand-me-down efforts. Changing tables, cribs, cloth diaper stashes...the list goes on and on and on. Part of me knows that this is all good to keep, despite the pains in our backs after moving day. It makes sense to hold onto things you will need and use again in the future. But part of me can't help but wonder, how many of these needs are really just conveniences that we would do just fine without? Do I really need 6 mixing bowls in my kitchen? I cook enough and dirty enough prep-ware to justify having them. But are they really making my life easier? Is washing the same bowl a few times in one day any worse than washing 6 bowls in an overflowing sink the next morning? I don't think there is one right answer, but I can't kid myself into thinking I live simply when my kitchen is stocked almost as well as Rachel Ray's and my basement looks like FAO Schwartz vomited all over it.

What's the point in talking about all this stuff? I don't know. I think over this past year, my perspective has changed in ways that still surprise me. I remember the week we found out Jameson was going to die, writing about how this world will never hold the same appeal for me. And while I still use and enjoy many of the conveniences and luxuries we have, they don't quite hold the same place on my list of priorities. It's just stuff, most of it more temporary than we are. I'd love to say that I happily donated most of my clothes and shoes to a local mission after thinking about this, but I didn't. Little Man still has too many toys, I still have too many bowls, and Hubs still has too many tools in the garage. We have, however, decided to really stop and think before we buy anything else. Do we really need to buy more books, or can we maybe get it at the library? Do I really need that super-cool pair of shamrock socks, or maybe can I get by with the 4 other pairs in the drawer at home? Will another nerf gun really add to Little Man's life or can he have big enough battles with the 5! already in his playroom?

I think decluttering my house and taking inventory about what is really important and necessary also plays a role in decluttering my life. And maybe I'll never really, truly live a simple life, getting by with just the bare necessities; but I know the stuff of this world isn't what bring joy or makes a person whole. It is, after all, just stuff.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lonely Walls

I am up to my ears in newspaper and boxes. Today I'm packing toys and starting on the dreaded kitchen. All my "friends" are gone. The books are all boxed up and the pictures have all been carefully wrapped and packed, as well. This part is always sad and slightly depressing for me. The mess, the chaos, but mostly the lonely walls. And this year is way worse because there are no pictures of my sweet J left. I find myself taking breaks often to look at his slide show on my computer.

I'm so glad we are so super busy this week to keep the reminders slightly at bay, but it is still a rough go for me. Tomorrow we are heading to the State Fair in the afternoon and that will be fun and difficult. That was one of the last fun things we did together as a family last summer. Jameson has a blast. He ate cheese curds, hot dogs, and milk shakes.

He was a dancing machine to the live music. It was a great day. As with everything, tomorrow will be fun, but the ghost will follow me all day, reminding me of what is missing. Everyone says it gets easier with time, but the pain and loss don't seem to be getting any easier. The only thing that gets easier is learning how to live around the pain. But I suppose that is all I can ask for.

I'm a little overwhelmed with the mess and the packing and the activities we are cramming into this last week here. Additionally, we are still trying to find a place to live up north; if you have a minute, please say a prayer that we are able to find the right place. Having dogs has made this process much more difficult than we anticipated. I know it will all go okay, but I'm really looking forward to having everything settled a little bit.

Ah, time to get back to work. Those toys won't pack themselves! Thanks for all the support and prayers and offers of help. I'm so thankful to have such a wonderful group of friends and family!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Moving On Out

I'm sitting on a dog bed in a living room that used to be small and now seems really big. We sold our couches. We are all missing them, but it is only for a little while. We move out of our house soon and I am trying so hard to get the momentum to pack up my book collection and everything else. Getting started is always the hardest part. But I'm a pro, so I'm not worried. I think this is our 10th or 11th move since we've been married. I'd like to blame the Navy, but Hubs has been out for 2 years now. I'm starting to think we are just Gypsies.

Where are we moving to, you might ask? Good question! We are moving way up north, to a small town in Northern Minnesota for just one year. Hubs will be doing his clinical rotations at the local hospital and we will get a taste for small town living and a real winter. I think we are going to love small town living- we spent five weeks in Roseau, MN last summer and I completely fell in love with the town and the people.

Now we just need to find a house to rent! Apparently, renting a house is proving difficult because of our canine children. I'm sure something will come along... God always provides. Plus, we have a little time before we head up north.

We like to keep things interesting and moving is no exception to the rule. We move out of our place at the end of the month, head out on a road trip for three weeks, and then move up north. We are taking a trip out west, driving all the way out to the Oregon and Washington Coasts, stopping in neat cities all along the way. The excuse for the trip is to check out hospitals and residency programs so we can, you know, move again in another year. But it is also just going to be an awesome vacation. We will be camping most of the time, just not in big cities. Ah, but more on that another time. It is now time to make the pancakes.

Happy Saturday, friends!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Special Dinner

This week we celebrated a good anniversary. Nine years ago, I became a wife. And it has been a grand adventure. I don't want to get too mushy, but I consider myself the luckiest girl on earth to have Hubs as my husband. He is absolutely the best thing that has ever happened to me.

We didn't have any exciting plans. Just food. Of course I cooked! And baked.

We were going to start with pan-fried ravioli and a marinara dipping sauce, but no one was quite that hungry. It will make a great dinner later this week!

Dinner was Salmon in Lemon Brodetto with Pea Puree. It was divine.

The bread was homemade too. It was a Rustic Tuscan Ciabatta. Oh, it was so good. I'm hungry just thinking about it.

For dessert, we had Double Musky Carrot Cake. The Double Musky Inn is the best restaurant I've ever been to. I'm lucky enough to have their cookbook. And Hubs is lucky enough that I actually take the time to make some of their entrees. The crab stuffed halibut recipe is at least 7 pages long, but oh so worth the whole day in the kitchen. If you ever find yourself in Alaska, I highly recommend a trip to the Double Musky Inn.

Notice the color of my carrot cake. Little light, no? Sigh. What a disappointment! I goofed and completely forgot the cinnamon. Gah! Without the spice, it just wasn't carrot cake; however, for a cake, it was still pretty good. I think I'd rather have more pea puree though. Oh, that dinner...

Sigh. Well, now I've got to tackle the pile of dishes waiting for me in the sink and on the stove. And then maybe eat a piece of unspiced cake. It is still pretty darn good.

We are going to have a beautiful day in Minnesota today. It will be a fine afternoon to bike with the family. I hope you all have a lovely day as well!

Monday, August 15, 2011


I've been meaning to write often, but haven't had the quiet time to sort through my thoughts. We've just been so busy. Some is good- like getting to go on a date with my husband Friday night and heading to the Irish Fair on Sunday after church. Some is hectic, like last minute pricing for a garage sale and realizing that I only have 2 weeks to pack up everything we own before we move out. Groooaaaannnn.... And I've just been so tired.

And August is taking it's toll on me. One year ago today, we moved into this house. It was happy chaos and we were excited about our year, our plans, our future. But two weeks later our lives turned upside-down. August 31st is a difficult anniversary. It is the last time our family of four slept under the same roof. It was the last morning we can remember without fear or sadness being a constant shadow over our lives. It was the last morning we played together. The last day my sweet boy ran and laughed and really, truly lived. It was just supposed to be an hernia repair, and in many ways, it was the day our boy and our family died. Every day of August is a reminder of how perfect things were last year at this time and how much is missing this year.

But August is also a happy month. Summer days spent laughing and playing. Family birthdays and anniversaries galore. Camping trips, fishing excursions, cookouts, movie nights. Excitement for new adventures and wonderful plans for the future. We are still so blessed. Still as happy as we can possibly be. But the shadow is always here. And my Jameson is not.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy Feet

This is the sign of a good day.

Every boy should have feet this dirty at the end of the day, no? Isn't that what summer is all about? Maybe minus the mosquitoes, but that is what Itch Sticks are for.

We are still having loads of fun outside and keeping very busy. Last weekend we went camping with cousins. Cousining is always a favorite activity. We swam in the lake, played at the beach, went fishing, had a campfire and smores. The kids ran through the meadow chasing dragonflies and butterflies together while pretending to be tornado chasers. I'm so grateful we have family close by. Family we love to be with. It has been such a blessing to be in Minnesota over the past 2 years.

When we got home from camping, this behemoth was waiting for me in the garden.

Zucchini season has begun!

Our busy summer isn't slowing down at all in August; instead, we are actually getting busier. Today, Little Man and I are taking an impromptu trip to Chicago to visit my family again and celebrate the life of a great man who passed away early this week. When we get back, Little Man has VBS (Vacation Bible School) and while he is away in the mornings, I will be pricing for a garage sale and starting to pack us up to move! I can't believe we've already been here a year. More about our next adventure on another day.

Now I must go and pack for our trip, since we are leaving in, oh, 1-2 hours...I've mastered the art of procrastination.

But before I go, I'll leave you with dinner from the garden. Homemade pesto from my basil plants with fresh zucchini and chicken...the chicken is not from my garden.

Someday we'll have chickens. First we need to stop moving every year. :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wrong Assumptions

I've been wanting to write about something for awhile but haven't had the words. I still can't explain why it even bothers me so much, but I've got to get it off my chest.

Down syndrome did not kill Jameson. Lymphangiomatosis killed him. And it has nothing to do with Down syndrome. He is actually the only known and documented case in medical history of someone who had both Down syndrome and lymphangiomatosis.

I'm sick of people assuming that because he had DS that is the reason he died. Yes, people with Down syndrome are more prone to have some problems with their heart and GI system. Yes, leukemia rates are higher with people who have Down syndrome. But my son's death was not related to any of that. And just because some people with DS get sick and have problems, it doesn't mean everyone does. There are plenty of healthy and active adults with Down syndrome in this world.

Down syndrome is not a death sentence. Down syndrome is not a bad thing. Parents of kids with Down syndrome are not waiting for their kids to get sick and die. They are living life with their families and enjoying extra blessings and extra love and yes, extra challenges during their lifelong journeys.

If you want to know about our amazing life with Jameson, Down syndrome will certainly be a part of the story. If you want to know about his death, it doesn't even factor in; just look up lymphangiomatosis.