Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I'm a Woman!

Recently I have been struggling with the many roles I have had to play in my family.  I'm always struggling as a mother, as most of us are, but it seems recently that I'm struggling to find my place as a daughter and sister as well.  I've reached a point in these relationships that I'm not convinced I'm really the person they think I am when it comes to these roles.

But one role that I have not at all had to struggle with recently is being a woman!  I love that I am a woman, in the prime of my life, and that I am happy!  I want to scream to the world, "Look at me!  I'm happy, beautiful, confident, strong, and independent!  I love my life, and I'll survive anything the world can throw at me!"

It helps that I have people in my life who say the same thing...especially one in particular that makes a point to tell me I'm beautiful all the time.  It brings a smile to my face to know that I am a woman, and that no one can take that from me.  This is my life, my body, and my spirit...and I'm the only one who gets to decide what my attitude is going to be.  I choose to have a positive attitude, and hope it will become contagious.  Its amazing to wake up in the morning and smile first thing!  I wish everyone was as lucky as I am in the fact that they smile first thing when they wake up before they even get out of bed.  It makes a HUGE difference in your attitude all day long, and all life long.

I found this quote while looking online for something this morning, and it summed up everything that I was feeling today. Not to mention, it made me laugh too!

"Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, 
heart, talent, guts. That's what little girls are made of;
the heck with sugar and spice." 
- Bethany Hamilton

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Painting Horses

Yesterday I took Sara to visit a friend of mine that is working at a horse ranch for the summer.  They have all day camps, but also do therapy riding and lessons.  She invited Sara and I up to check it out and to introduce Sara to riding.  I love to ride, although I've not had many chances to do it since I was a child.  I wasn't sure Sara would be willing to ride, and when we got there she refused to even pet the horses let alone ride one.

But while we were there the girls that were signed up for the summer camp were painting some of the horses with finger paints.  Sara was really into that, and she did a great job.  She even painted me in the process because she got a little wild with swinging that paint brush around.

Here is Sara painting the horse!  I think it ended up being a house, with a little help from my friend.

Sure enough she got me with the paint brush.  That's okay, worse things could happen and it was good for a laugh!

They also had a handful of babies around...at least 6 that I could count...all various ages.  They were awfully cute!

It was a hot day, about 100 degrees.  And since it was so hot, we didn't stay long.  After about 30 min Sara was ready to go home and rest.  We will be back to see if we can get Sara to ride again, hopefully soon.  But for a first experience with horses, I think it went well.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The List

Yesterday I just had one of those days where I couldn't find anything in my life that was positive.  Life has thrown some really nasty curve balls my way lately, and it seems that as soon as I dodge one there is another right after it...and sometimes they seem to come two or three at a time.

So today I woke up telling myself that I would find all the good things I had in my life and focus on that no matter how much of my energy it took.

I am amazingly blessed to have these things in my life every day!

1.  Sara - my miracle baby 100%!
2.  A job that I love, and enjoy doing.
3.  Amazing family and friends who are supportive and love Sara and I more than I probably know.
4.  A safe place for us to live that truly is my sanctuary when things are difficult.
5.  That Sara continues to grow and be as healthy as possible.
6.  An amazing man who I treasure with all my heart and am blessed to have in my life.
7.  The ability to provide everything my daughter needs.
8.  That Sara and I are HAPPY, even when things are difficult!

This is my list today of the things that are wonderfully good in my life, and in Sara's life!  This is my focus today, and every day, from now on...especially when things are really hard like they are now. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

God's Lesson

For the last 48 hours, my family has been facing a major crisis.  One of our own is very sick.  And although we want to help, we can do very little except wait.

It has left me raw and exposed since I have had to face many emotions including anger, fear, pain, and loss.  It brings back the pain of Sara's diagnosis, and how I had to learn to accept the fact that there is no cure.  I remember clearly the day I woke up and finally was able to look at Sara and not see her NF any more, but only see her.  It was the day I finally found that acceptance!

I look back on those days often, and had always thought that God was trying to teach me to trust him and that I didn't always need to fix it.  But I'm a fixer; that's what I do!  So I was convinced that lesson was what I was supposed to learn.  So I stopped pushing to try and find a fix for Sara's NF, and just started to enjoy life with her the way that God obviously meant it to be.

The first time that I believe God present this lesson was when my dad was diagnosed with MS.  He was 52, and it scared me to death.  I spent hours and hours on the Internet researching studies and any information available looking for that one piece that I could use to make him better...I never found it!  I failed to learn the lesson that I think God had set before me, and maybe that's why I had to learn it again with Sara.

And no, I don't believe at all that Sara wouldn't have NF if I had learned it the first time.  Sara wouldn't be who she is without her NF; its made her one of the strongest people I know, brought my family closer together, and she's taught me more than anything else in my life ever could.  Sara has her NF because she has many lessons to teach many people, and God knows she's the right one for the job and that's why she is the way she is.  This is part of the acceptance it took me a while to find.  I didn't do anything wrong to make her that way, God made her that way...and he has a good reason, or many good reasons.

But here we are, and I feel like God is asking me to repeat this lesson for the third time.  So maybe that isn't what God was trying to teach me the first time, or maybe there's a different lesson here.  But its all so familiar...a sick family member, no cure, and all the healing and work that is yet to come.

I know God has a plan, and I want to trust that he will do what is best for all of us...but I have doubts.  Maybe that is the ultimate lesson I am to learn, to trust Him.  At church last night, that was the sermon the pastor gave.  That trusting in God was not an easy thing, and many people fail God's tests many times.  Abraham did, and until he was willing to sacrifice his only son did he really trust in God.  I really hope that God doesn't ask me to sacrifice my only daughter to learn to trust him, cause I'd definitely be taking an F for that lesson, but I know that I need to trust Him more.

I seem to trust more when things are out of my control, but that rarely happens since I hate being out of control.  Maybe that's why God has presented me with this situation.  There is nothing I can do to change it; I have to find a way to accept it.  Maybe in my acceptance of the situation I will find that absolute trust I'm looking for.  And maybe I have it all wrong about which lesson this is...but if I do, why that sermon on the night when I was in the most need of answers?

Sometimes I just wish God would just come and say it.  "Hey Julie!  This is the lesson I'm trying to teach you."  It would make religion and my understanding of Him so much easier.  But when is anything in life easy?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Our weekend in MN!!

I finally found time tonight to post about our wonderful trip to see Mary and Jack!  It was great and we had a fabulous time.  The kids did really well and got along fairly good together for never having met before.  And meeting Mary for the first time was like meeting a sister I knew was out there somewhere but it had taken me years to find!  I can't wait until we get together again, and I hope its sooner instead of later.

As soon as we got there, we went to Mary's apartment to unload the suitcase and give Sara a few minutes to move around since she'd sat on the plane a while.  Sara took to Mary really well, and they played on the floor together while Mary showed Sara where to find Jack's toys.

Later that evening we picked up Jack, and the kids got the chance to be together for the first time.  They took to each other really well and were laughing it up in the back seat all the way home.

The following day we went to the zoo, and we all had a good time.  The kids did well for the most part, until they both got too tired and we had to leave because it was obvious that they both needed a nap.  But other than that, it was great!  Mary had a friend that worked at the zoo, so he kind of gave us the tour and told us the animals' names and little bits of side information.  Here is a pic of Mary and the kids when we first got there.

We then went and saw the Grizzly Bears, and they were out in full force playing and swimming right next to the window.

This is the only picture we got of the 4 of us together, and Jack wasn't much for having his picture taken...but neither was Sara really as you can see!

We did manage to get the kids to cooperate enough to get pictures of us as pairs though.

Toward the end the kids were getting tired, and they were both just annoying the other to no end.  That's when Mary and I decided that it was time to head home for a nap.  The kids napped really well all the days we were there.

After the kids napped we headed to the Mall of America for some dinner and riding.  It turns out that Jack doesn't like rides, or people dressed up as characters, but Sara has learned that characters and rides are awesome since we went to Disneyland.  So we took the time to let Sara meet Spongebob Squarepants and ride one ride before dinner.

I took this picture of Jack and Mary while we were at dinner at the Rainforest Cafe.  Its one of my favorites from the whole trip.

Then it was home for a bath and bed time.  The kids had a great time in the tub.  I know I shouldn't have let my baby in the bathtub with a boy, but we were saving water...that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Mary got the honor of reading the bedtime story. 

The following day went much the same, except instead of the zoo we went to a softball game.  The kids got to play catch with some of the guys, and had a great time.  They were using bean bags instead of a ball, but the kids could have cared less.

This trip was awesome, and I can't wait until we can get together again!  The kids had a lot of fun together, and spending time with Mary was great!  I always thought of her as a close friend, but now she truly is more like a sister to me than anything else.  I can't imagine my life without her or Jack!

Mary, thanks for a wonderful time!  I hope you and Jack had as much fun as Sara and I did.  See you again soon!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Let the fun begin!!!

Today we leave for MN to see Mary and Jack!!!!!  I'm so excited to spend this weekend with them.

But with that said, I hate flying.  I always make myself sick with worry that I'll forget something...which is dumb because I'm not going somewhere that doesn't have a store on every corner.  I worry about getting to the airport, getting through security (which is a nightmare for Sara), and making sure I don't miss my flight.  I worry that my house is in good condition and if my friend that is house sitting for me will need something I don't have. 

Really when it comes to traveling, I just worry too much!  I know that once we are there, and we are all in the car leaving the airport that I will calm down.  But the hours in between are torture because I know I'm driving myself crazy over nothing.  I've packed for 2 weeks for this trip, and have Excel spreadsheets I use to make sure I don't forget anything.  And I never sleep the night before I get on a plane!

I know that I'm as ready as I can be, that I haven't forgotten anything I can't get there if I need it, that I'm already exhausted and Sara isn't even awake yet, and that this trip is going to be a blast!  So why won't the butterflies in my stomach calm down so I can eat some breakfast?  Does this happen to other people, or am I upholding my freak status??  All I know is that I just want to get there, hug Mary and Jack, and spend this weekend just hanging out and having a good time!