Thursday, November 1, 2012

October's out.....

October went really fast!  It was really busy, and I take pictures on my phone, DAILY if not hourly, so I thought this would be perfect documentation! 

Still love doing my Scentsy thing!  
There was great fundraiser for Julie.  It was at the Lift on State St. in Boise.  Lot's turned out and thousands were raised.  It was amazing because the people that put this on, really did not know Julie.  
I contributed this pumpkin for my table about the Gaubys.  That was my job!  And photographer!  

Part of me will always be 12 and love writing with Crayola Markers :)  It's my preferred medium.   

I was talked into going to the Haunted Woods with some of my crazy friends.  We took these spooky pics before the walk!  Julie Shepherd looks like a ghastly ghost behind us! 

I didn't have time for nightmares when I got home.  Burke started throwing up at 3 am and continued to do so on the hour until 8 am.  It was lovely.  Not.  This is him watching Mickey Mouse Club House at 5 am.  It was a long night.  I traded with Daddy at 8 and then woke up before church so he could take the Biggies with him.  Little and I stayed home! 

Saw this sunset on the way home from my sisters.  Great reminder of being loved by Him.  

Next victim to fall to the flu.  Graden.  I guess warming up his man parts helps him feel better?  Ya, I'm lost too.  

All were perked up enough to paint pumpkins for FHE.  Minus Daddy.  He was at class, hence the non-carving year.  Was not about to tackle that one alone! 

This is when I puke.  Filling up the tank.  You see why!  Look at my reflection!  I am NOT happy!  I will be voting on the 6th.  :)

The boys and I scouted costumes one day!  Graden found his at K-Mart (Holy throw back), and Burke found his at Walmart.  Both $10.  I can handle that! 

My sweet lady bugs.  

I worked on the girls costumes for a couple of days straight!  

In the mean-time, Face Book was like this for me....

Burke coloring

As a family we went to the Boise LDS Temple  open house.  It was so lovely.  I had a hard time keeping my composure.  It was so touching to be there again after being closed for so long!  I missed it deeply!  The kids LOVED it too!  

We hit the NEW Chick-fil-A after!  It was super yummy!  And the customer service is amazing too!  We will go back for sure!  

I had the girls help with their own costumes on Saturday morning!  

Jason and I had not planned on dressing up.  I have NEVER not dressed up for a Halloween since we have been married.  I was just not into it this year.  So at 4 o'clock he asked if I thought we could pull off the Romney's.  WTH???? I was blonde a few weeks ago!  Wish I had known!  He pulled off Mitt SO WELL!  

Morticia and family~  

Snooki and the Situation 

Mary Poppins and her chimney sweep! 

Cookie Monster!  WHAT???? So cute Laura Beth! 

Got me some bangs~ 

These sweet faces came home in backpacks! 

I made this crazy good Oatmeal Cake from a Relief Society recipe!  
I ate it all. 

Yesterday was Halloween and Reagan Browne's birthday!  Yeah for this sweet 3 year old!  

Andrew Shepherd, and my kids.  Getting ready to Candy Harvest! 

Aunt Julie came with us too~ 

See.  I take A LOT of pictures! 
That is how I capture most of our lives.  I love it.  Our hard drive is a compilation of thousands of pictures of everyday.  

Thanks for stopping by~ 


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Blog from the Milk Carton

You know.  The missing one.  The one that vanished this summer?  Well, she was found.  Looks like she had some work done while she was "away".  Maybe a make over from  Thank you Julie MacDonald!

So heres the skinny on the lard.....or so to speak?  I'm sure most of you that would be reading this blog are friends with me on Fb.  Therefore you will know of our families current struggles with my oldest sister Julie's health.  This is where I have decided to really make this blog my personal journal.  Yes a public one.  Scoff if you will.  You never know how your words can touch someone else.  This is my personal blog I have had since 2008.  In here I have recorded my sweet growing family.  Our blessings, our struggles.  Our bloopers!  I say that for clarity.  The values and opinions are of me and mine.  I am not speaking on behalf, or for anyone else.

I've had a hard time blogging since we came home from Oregon. (I have had the chance to blog for Julie on hers.  We were blessed with the best family vacation we have ever had.  We visited Jason's parents and Grandparents for a week and a half.  We played hard, laughed hard, loved hard, and slept hard!! I really wanted nothing more than to come home from Oregon and blog about our wonderful vacation!  And post all the bazillion pictures I had taken.  But instead, I left my normal life in Oregon, and came home to a new reality.  The reality of my oldest sister having terminal cancer, and a dark cloud of a landlord turning the furnace on underneath us.  And I can honestly that a part of me never made it home.  That part was replaced by a numbness that is in my bones.  And not the good numb where you cannot feel anything.  The kind where you've been home from the dentist for a few hours and the Novocain is wearing off and you can feel the pain through a scratchy, itchy, painful haze.  That is my new life.  My husband is still supporting me, my children are growing and gorgeous.  I have so many blessings.  I know them, I feel them, I recognize them.  All through the mist of this new life.

As we were literally waving goodbye and pulling away from Graden and Teri I was reading several texts from Julie telling me about her urgent trip to the ER and what they had discovered.  I somehow found enough voice to quietly whisper to Jason what was going on.  The next thing I remember was standing in the Stinker station where we had gotten sodas all week.  I had my cup in my hand, I was turned away from the fountain, and I realized that the tears were streaming down my face.  I guess I can see the comedy that I broke down in a gas station.

The rest of the drive was fast.  I don't recall the stunning landscapes that I has seen a week or so prior.  I cannot remember dancing with my kids to "Call Me Maybe" like on the drive there.  I vaguely remember texting back and forth with Julie and agreeing on the magnitude of the situation.  Both numb.  I could feel it in the texts.

It's bazaar how you can feel numb and totally exposed at the same time.  Like all my nerve endings are right on the surface of my skin.

We made it home.  The house was freshly painted, it was done by our property manager while we were gone.  It was also 90+ degrees in the house.  The AC was broken and we found out was not in the budget to be replaced.  This only added to my fog.  Our routine bed times had been thrown out the window because the bedrooms were all upstairs.  It was 98 degrees one night at 10 pm.  I could not use the stove or oven.  It would increase the heat to an ungodly temperature even downstairs. Our nerves were frayed.  Julie was going in for surgery to have the cancer taken out of her colon.  The dread of a colostomy bag loomed over us all.  Her liver is just as cancerous as her colon.  They were to biopsy that as well.  A full on battle of good vs evil ensued with our land lord and us.  Everything from blaming us for breaking the AC to get a new one, to "just wait till next Spring till the home owner can afford to fix it".  These were all strings to an unraveling girl.  I was being torn down.  Everyday.  Every text.  Every email.  It was killing me.  Jennifer and Megan were totally there for Julie in those first weeks of all her appointments.  I am so thankful for that.  I was consumed by the house.  Were we going to move?  Were they going to let us out of our lease?  Were they going to sue us if we broke the lease?  I loved this house.  I loved "most" of my neighbors.  The thought of moving was a task that was far too daunting for me to process.  This is when dear friends stepped in.  The Shepherds had a window unit that we used in our bedroom.  This offered the only reprieve from the heat.  It was the only place I could fall on my knees and pray without sweat pouring off my face while kneeling on warm carpet.  The Dingers almost took over the fight with the landlord.  Kendra helped me form emails.  Jason edited letters because I use very passive language.  He killed those letters!!!  Friends of friends offered advice. Families stepped up to feed us knowing I wasn't cooking in the house for fear of literally "cooking in the house".  Every surface in the house was hot to the touch.  Walls, counters, carpet.  It's like the house had been hot for so long that it literally became an oven.  A lawyer was offered to us.  And he rattled some chains!!!

When it came down to it, we were able to move without penalty.  We had 2 weeks to find a house and move.  My two stipulations were:  SAME WARD.  SAME SCHOOL.  This is when I really feel like the heavens opened and the Lord poured blessings down on us.  We found a house.  Same ward.  Same school.  It was in our budget.  Our friends rallied around us and helped pack.  The RS came in droves and cleaned.  Kendra single handily prepared a moving sale of epic proportions.  Women were on ladders, boxes were filling, walls were being wiped, and my stove had never been so clean.  I would like to say that I was able to jump right in and help.  Sadly that was not the case.  I mostly walked around like a zombie with a hand towel.  The numbness was still so thick, and the overwhelming feeling of Christ's love through the service of His sweet daughters was almost too much to bare.

All of this was happening while Julie had her surgery.  It was without complication.  Coming out of anesthetics was not.  She was in full crisis mode.  She was in mind altering pain.  And we just sat there and watched her.  Horrified.  We pleaded with the nurse to help.  Finally Megan threatened to call Julie's surgeon who was also a dear friend of hers.  It took Julie so long to "recover".  She never saw our Tourmaline house again.  It was too hot for her to come to after her surgery.  We had had so many play dates at that house.  Holidays.  Birthday parties.  It was upsetting to me that it was not suitable for her to be in.  For no human for that matter.  I am bitter about that.  And in the imaginary screaming matches I have with my land lord, that is always one thing that I mention.  Among a hundred others.

We are all moved into the new house.  It's awkward for me when people ask if we are "settled" in.  I'm sure Jason and the kids are settled in.  My numbness as turned into somewhat of a state of "unsettledness" if there is such.  I've lost momentum.  I often prefer to stay home.  There are "good" days and there are "bad" days.  And sometimes both on the same day.  There are new challenges almost weekly.  I'm very manic.  100 mph in one direction or 100 mph in the opposite.  I am somewhat of an expert in the realm of putting on a happy face.  That's the face that looked back at me in the mirror most of my adolescent life.

A saving grace for me personally was Candace moving home.  It's amazing how the heaven aligns with all that is right in the world and miracles happen right in front of us.

I am not in a place of woe is me.  I am in a place of person reflection and honesty.  I have a sister that is fighting the fight of her life.  I have realized that I am passive aggressive.  I don't say what I mean in fear of hurting peoples feelings.  I have also learned to have a voice.  To be heard when it's time, and to listen when needed.  I have learned how strong my siblings are.  And how different.  We are not all Easter Egg hunts and Birthday cakes any more.  We are sisters standing together to circle our wagons and rally for one another.  We are tender and loving, sprinkled with humor that is getting us by.

It has taken me several hours to write this post.  I've helped make pumpkin cookies with my kids and three cousins, baked 2 pizzas, and helped with homework.  My children are the most beautiful distraction.

These collages that you see are pictures of my most prized accomplishments.  My husband and best friend, and of my sweet children.  These pictures stand as a reminder, both beautiful and painful that life can and will change on a dime.  I will forever treasure that trip to Oregon.  That was the last time I felt whole.

First stop Kennewick to stay with Uncle Scott, Aunt Pam and kids.....and animals.  My kids loved getting to know "new"..."big" cousins!  We love you crazy Nielsens!!!  
 On the road to Grandmothers house.....Graden "squishing" trucks on the other side of the Columbia River.  Freak.  

 We pull into Portland in what I would call an awful rain storm.  They call it everyday.  
We headed over to Rainer where Grandpa Graden is a vice principal.  We get his whole school to ourselves for a private tour!  Their school has a POOL!!! What?? Candace says that's normal.  You could smell the chlorine in every hall.  I loved it!!! 
The Meat heads
 The Mr. Meat head
 Stanky wrestling room.  Smell one, you've smelled em all.  
 The band room.  A personal favorite of the kids.  The adults withstand it for as long as possible before our ears bleed.  

After dinner interviews with Reporters Natalie, Taylor and Graden.  They had lists of questions to ask Great and I mean GREAT Grandma and Grandpa Nielsen!  I think we saw them everyday!  We love them so much and are so thankful for ANY time we get to be in there presence!   

A quick train trip to the Oregon Zoo.  This was epic for the kids! And yes Graden is picking his nose.  

The train ride home was in what we call 5 o'clock traffic.  We let one train go before I was convinced by the other adults that they were all going to be full like the first one. I think my anxiety button got hit 100 times while I stepped onto a crowded train.  =/

The next adventure was the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry!  So cool!  A must do if you are near the Portland area!  

This one's out of order.  We did a ton of driving in and out of Portland to St. Helen's.  It was stunningly scenic.
 Back to OMSI....

 Teri deserved her own collage!  Sorry Mom!  You're a trooper!! I've never laughed so hard as when her hair literally crawled out of her pony tail! 
 July 4th....a day of service.  Jason, Dad, and lil Graden drove over to Hillsboro to take some tall shrubs out for G & G Nielsen.  We met up later for dinner and lovely conversation on their patio.  I could sit and talk to them for hours.

The Tower of Terror.  Just kidding.  Kinda.  This is the Astoria Column.  It has the city's history up and down the 160+ foot tower.  That we climbed stairs to get to the top.  Where I had a panic attack and nearly vomited on all the patrons enjoying the view.  I'm smiling in on of the pictures.  Just refer to the post above about the "happy face".  I'm good huh?  Wasn't lyin'.  

 After the Tower of Terror Astoria Column we went to Del Mar beach and met G & G Nielsen there.  They have been going to the beaches along the coast for decades.  Grandpas job was to find the best one prior to our visit.  And boy did he.  It was what my heaven will look like.  My children have never been so happy.  And I apologize in advance for the nudity.  It's not that kind of beach, but tell that to my sweet boys....

I love these pictures.  Grandpa is telling the kids how dangerous the tide is.  And how the ocean is alive and can carry you out to sea.  

The weather was perfect.

Jason and I took a day for ourselves and braved the crazy Portland/Oregon drivers and made our way to the temple.  It was beautiful.  We were going to do a session, but were re-directed to do Initiatories instead.  This was no accident.  I was meant to hear those words over and over again.   

Sand Dollars from Grandma Nielsen!  So special!!  

I went on the porch and saw Burkes shoes next to Grandpa Nielsens.  For whatever reason this touched me.  
 Momentary laps in judgement when I handed my phone back......

This is what we came home to......

And this is where the Lord wanted us.  

I know this is a very long post.  But it was for me.  And someday my kids.  So they'll know the back story behind their Mom, and her life.

~Alli Blue

Music to my Soul~

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Graden's wrestling practice