Wednesday, November 18, 2009

So that is how it works!

Tami here.

Yesterday I was looking through Nessa's baby book with her and when we came to the page with pictures right after she was born I read the date listed at the top of the page, "Saturday April 2, 2005."

Nessa got very, very excited, "OH! I was born on my birthday!!!!"

She had such a huge grin on her face that I almost didn't want to explain to her that that was actually the way it works. :-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Flowers for Emily

Shawn here. I forgot to post pictures of the other flowers we got for Emily. Every year we sponsor flowers at church for each girl's birthday. Here are the ones they sent for Emily this year.

After we got back from the cemetery, these gorgeous roses were delivered to our house. They were a thoughtful and beautiful surprise from Tami's sisters and their families.

Thank you Ellen, Heidi and families. The roses are beautiful.

Remembering Emily

Shawn here.

We went to the cemetery on Emily's birthday, Nov. 10th. It was a beautiful day, sunny and mild.

We took some flowers to place around the grave. Nessa wanted to put something right on Emily's stone.

For the first time, Nessa was interested in the rest of the cemetery, so we wandered around and let her look at some of the other stones.

This was my first time looking at the rest of the cemetery, too. I was saddened by how many stones had only a single day or year on them. We saw one stone that we'd like to know more about.

Stones like this, without a name, always make Tami sad.

It was a good visit. Sun always helps, and the fact that Nessa wants to know things about Emily helps too. After we leave, I'm always glad we went.

We love you Emily.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nessa's Montesorri Preschool fundraiser

Tami here.

Just a quick note to share the link for the Montessori school fundraiser. We only have about a week to order, and we need to submit the order directly with the school, so if you want to order anything, just let us know and we'll coordinate with you. You can look at the website to see what is in the catalog -- -- this appears to be the same as the products in the catalog (minus the sales items, sorry).

There are LOTS of great Christmas gifts here too...if you are on our Christmas list, let us know if anything looks great to you.

Thank you...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Remembering and Helping Others: IRIS Turkey Trot and Team Emily and Arianna

Team Emily and Arianna

Please help IRIS reach their fund-raising goal, and specifically help us reach our fund-raising goal for Team Emily and Ariana. For more information link goes directly to the Team Emily and Arianna page and from there you can also get to more information about IRIS -- Infants Remembered In Silence)

If you are in the area, you can also join us on Thanksgiving morning for this race as our entire family will be doing it. Megan and I will be doing the timed 5K, Shawn will be doing the fun walk with Nessa, and Nessa is also signed up for the kid's fun run (we'll see how that goes). We appreciate all the support we can get.

Thank you,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Powerful Reminder

Shawn here.

Most mornings I'm the one helping Nessa get her day started. Tami and I settled on that schedule when we were both working, and it became habit. It used to mean actually getting Nessa dressed, but now it's mostly just encouraging her to finish so that she can eat breakfast, or watch cartoons, or whatever. However, on Tuesdays I attend the mens prayer breakfast offered by our church. This means I usually leave before Nessa is awake, or at most get to say a quick goodbye before heading out the door. Nessa seems to accept this as part of the rhythm of the week.

This morning Nessa woke up with a bloody nose before I left. Tami got her cleaned up before I headed out the door, but not dressed. As I was getting ready to leave, Nessa was asking Tami to come watch her get dressed. Tami laughed and said "Does Daddy watch you get dressed? He's spoiling you." Then she looked at me and said "This summer I usually just told her to go get dressed." I responded "Maybe Daddy doesn't need to watch her anymore."

When I turned to hug Nessa again, she had her classic trying-hard-not-to-be-sad expression. Thinking she just didn't want me to go (a frequent occurrence), I hugged her and reminded her that I'd see her at supper. Her face didn't change, so I asked what was wrong.

Quiver. "I like Daddy watching me get dressed."

I realized that she'd taken my toss-off reply to Tami literally and seriously, and although she was trying to be a "big girl" about it, she was unhappy. I told her that we would talk about it later, but she shouldn't be unhappy now. You'll have to ask Tami how well that worked, because I had to leave then.

This incident reminded me, powerfully, of several things I need always to remember.

1) Children take you literally. They understand silliness and jokes, but they don't understand nuance and subtlety. Watch what you say, because they won't pick up on how you say it.

2) You don't always know which time is quality time. My morning time with Nessa doesn't seem like much on the surface, but her palpable sense of loss made it evident that she values it greatly. The special "let's do something fun for an hour" times are good and necessary, but the routines and interactions that build up over time and develop a history of their own have a far greater impact--for good or ill. Make sure they're for good.

3) My daughter loves me. My presence is important to her, and the things we do together are shaping her in a million little ways that I don't always see or comprehend. I have to make time just for her every single day we are together.

4) God has blessed me beyond my ability to express. To have this rich pattern of relationships, to be surrounded by those I love and who love me--when I had accepted that I would spend my life fundamentally alone--is to realize that I have everything that truly matters in this world. I must treat those people and that love as the precious treasures they are, never taking them for granted and never squandering them.

Tami, Nessa, Megan--I love you. Thank you for making my life so rich and full.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

O god, ... Now I pray

Tami here:

-- I felt led to let you in on my morning prayer and meditation time -- it's not something I generally share here and yet it is such a part of my life, and this particular Psalm is really speaking to me, and I am trying to listen.

I have been meditating with the Psalms/Now modern paraphrase translation of the Psalms by Leslie F. Brandt for several months now, and this week I have been reading Psalm 119 (Psalms Now link to Amazon)

Parts of Psalm 119
(paraphrase, emphasis mine)

Now I pray for the wisdom to discern your will
and the grace to carry it out
in the difficult days before me.
You have shown me how much you love me, Lord;
now show me how to love You.
Your standards for me are clear.
I am to translate Your love into terms
that others can comprehend,
to demonstrate it before my fellow beings.
I can truly love You only as I proceed
to love Your children in this world,
I can serve You only as I commit my life to service
on behalf of my brothers and sisters.
I can offer sacrifices to You only as
I sacrifice to meet my neighbor's need.
This is Your law and standard,
Your design and will for my life.
This is the way in which I will be pleasing to You.

I do love You, O God,
and Your will for me is the delight of my heart.
I have a sincere love for many people
who cross my path,
and I rejoice in the privilege of serving them.
And yet, O Lord, there are so many people
whom I do not love.
The demons of bigotry and apathy,
jealousy and selfishness,
plague my soul and numb my sensitivities.
They stay my hand from reaching out
to help others.
I sin against You when I sin against them,
and I need to be restored and renewed
by Your loving touch.

How I praise You, O Lord,
because You love me even when I fail
to respond in loving obedience!
Whereas I cannot comprehend You,
you do understand me,
and You continue to hold me
within Your loving embrace.
While I fall short of my sincere intentions
to abide within Your will for me,
Your promises are eternally secure,
and You tenderly and patiently
rekindle the fires within me and empower me
to do that which I cannot do by myself.

I love You, O God,
and I gladly accept Your will and purpose
for my life.
Now bless me and guide me
and grant me the grace
to walk within Your will and purpose
and have the joy of knowing
that I am pleasing to You.

To everyone reading, thank you, and thank you for your continued prayer for my discernment and clarity for all of us along our journey.
Love and belief,

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Sit-com Saturday (by Shawn)

Shawn here. It started out normally enough. After lazily puttering around the house for awhile Saturday morning, Nessa and I were going to run some errands. First stop: the video store to return some DVDs. It was 20 feet from the door to the drop slot—15 seconds, max. I left Nessa in the running car and put the DVDs in the slot. When I got back to the car I pulled on the door handle and almost strained my arm.

The car door wouldn’t open.

I looked at the door with what I’m sure was a very stupid expression on my face, absolutely befuddled. It took a couple of seconds of staring at the door in disbelief for it to register that the door was indeed locked. That all of the car doors were locked.

With Nessa inside, strapped in her car seat.

OK, don’t panic. It’s not that hot out, the car’s running, the air-conditioning is on, Nessa will be fine. Tami’s home, and hopefully out of the shower by now. I’ll call her.

“Hi sweetie. I’m at Family Video, and I managed to lock Nessa in the car with it running. I need you to please bring the other van key here so I can unlock the car.” Tami laughed and said that she would be there as soon as she could.

Now I had to explain to Nessa what had happened. I told her, and told her that Mommy was coming. Nessa could hear me through the window, but between her soft voice and all the road noise, I couldn’t hear her very well. To pass the time, I started making faces through the window, playing hide-and-seek, and walking around the car.

Maybe the rear door is unlocked!, of course it isn’t, doofus.

I briefly contemplated trying to explain to Nessa how to unbuckle herself from her car seat, but between not being sure if she could exert enough pressure to undo the buckles, the problems hearing her through the window, and the fact that I wasn’t sure I really wanted her to know how to unbuckle herself, I decided against that. So I kept trying to amuse Nessa and talking to her through the window.

Soon enough Tami pulled up in our other car, but just as she got to me I saw her eyes close briefly and her shoulders slump. I walked up to the car.

“You forgot the van key, didn’t you?”

“Yes. Never chastise your spouse too much, even in your head, ‘cause it’ll come back to bite you in the butt.”

We talked a bit more, and then Tami pulled away to go back and get the other van key. I had to explain things to Nessa, so I went over to the van.

“Mommy had to go back home, sweet girl. She forgot the other key to the van, and has to go get it.”

At which point my four year-old daughter, with perfect timing, assumed an incredulous expression … which very clearly said “You’re kidding me—and I’m related to these people?” … and dropped her face into her left hand with a loud smack.

Cue laugh track.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A little gift for me (via Nessa) on the anniversary of the day I became a mother (by Tami)

Tami Here

Today is Megan's Birthday, but I'm not really writing about that (it would change the focus too much ... but it was a great day in celebration of a GREAT young lady (12!)). However, it was because it was Megan's birthday that Nessa and I were cleaning and then decorating, etc. -- "to get ready for the party." Which really wasn't much of a party except that to a 4-year-old if you have cake and presents, then you have a party. And if you are the mom of a 4-year-old you discover that for a 4-year-old cleaning for a party can be much more appealing than cleaning or doing "chores" at any other time.

So, to set the stage --
Nessa and I worked really well together this morning after I explained how we were getting ready for a party that would happen later in the day after we picked up Megan from her Dad's house at 5 p.m. In fact Nessa was just a total pleasure to work with during most of the day. And it was all that much sweeter because the morning started out a bit rough with Nessa waking us up at 4 a.m., not going back to sleep, and then not being very cooperative through the beginning of the morning ... thankfully when I focused and restarted the day, she seemed to as well.

While getting ready we talked about how it was Megan's birthday and a day to celebrate Megan. Nessa never complained about it not being her own birthday, but did note it briefly. Mostly we were simply very excited about showing Megan how excited we were to celebrate her birthday.

At one point I hugged Nessa and told her what a great helper she was being and how much fun I was having with her as we were getting things ready for Megan to come home. Nessa smiled back and said something I don't even remember, and I hugged her again and went on to tell her how very thankful I am that God blessed me with her.

Nessa rarely misses a beat when I tell her such things. She shows that her mind is always putting things together and processing things we say -- often more than we process them before saying them!

And this time was no different and I could tell those wheels were turning as she started talking, but I was not ready for what she said.

She said, "yeah ... because if you didn't have me, you wouldn't have three girls." [emphasis mine]

I just hugged her and agreed with her, and said that each of my three girls were so special in their own unique ways.

Some of you reading this likely are already crying with me. Others may not understand it at all, so I'll explain just a bit of the whirlwind that goes through my mind when Nessa counts herself among my THREE daughters.

In some ways it is like anyone else remembering that I have 3 girls rather than only the 2 they can see all the time. But then it is so much more than that because Nessa only knows Emily though us. Unlike Megan, Nessa did not go through the experience of Emily's death at all. It is a past that she really does not share. And yet at only 4 years old she has been able to process that she does indeed have another sister.

I guess it was even more profound to me because I have never really heard Nessa mention Emily or refer to her in any way on her own initiative (without us talking about Emily first). So knowing that she does know and remember on her own was really meaningful to me. It was a huge gift on such an important and meaningful day -- the anniversary of the day I became a mother!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

At least I'm not the Crazy One! ... So says Nessa (Written by Tami)

Tami Here:

So today Nessa and I decided to get some groceries after her Allergy Associates apt. (all went well there). First I decided to brave the eating out while Gluten Free challenge and took Nessa to Culver's in Onalaska again since she had such a great time last time (it has been literally months and months since we had gone any place close to fast food). So after enjoying our meal there (GREAT customer service once again -- Nessa had a hamburger w/out bun, applessauce and a lemon ice cooler -- so not only GF but also GFCF), I was telling Nessa what stores we were going to go to next.

Nessa was listening carefully and said, "we're going to THREE grocery stores!"

I responded with "yeah, your mom is CRAZY."

(This is how I really felt because going to multiple stores is SO not me. But I wanted specific GF items from Festival Foods, fruit on sale at Aldi's and Woodman's to get some special raw honey that I LOVE...thankfully Festival had that same honey so I lucked out and we only had to go to two stores...still pushing it for me in one day LOL).

Nessa didn't miss a beat in replying though, "Mom, you're NOT Crazy...kinda funny sometimes, but not crazy."

Brief pause.

"Daddy is CRAZY."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Analayze that!

Tami here:

I know I owe you all tons of pics and regular updates but here is a tidbit I didn't want to forget, so I'm blogging it quickly. :-)

Today Nessa was painting, and I have been trying to ask more open-ended questions and also make fewer comments such as "good job", "well done", and so on. Rather I want to hear more about what is going on for her as she creates art. Only sometimes I forget that I'm asking questions to a 4-year-old. and sometimes I'm not specific enough, and sometimes both of these things happen at the same time. This is an example of what happens when I forget this --

Me: "how did you feel while painting it?"

Nessa: After a long pause "Well, when I was painting it, I touched the paint and it was wet, ... and the dry ones felt kind of powdery, and ... (as she touches the nearby painting she did earlier) when they are done but not quite dry they are kind of sticky."

And of course she was dead serious answering my question, and I couldn't help breaking out in laughter. I mean that long pause had me thinking she was actually going to tell me that she felt happy while painting it or something. :-)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Many Faces of Fred

Shawn here. Fred is a very versatile guy at our house. I’ve been calling Nessa “Fred” at times for a couple of years now, often when I go into her room in the morning:

“Who’s this?”
“It’s your daughter.”
“Oh! Hi Fred!”
“No, your daughter Nessa Rose Brooks!” (usually said with a giggle, unless Daddy has bad timing or pushes it too far)

Nessa started taking allergy drops a year ago, and we need to count after placing a drop in her mouth. I soon changed the numbers to be:

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, Fred, ten”

This can be expanded if you need to count higher:

“… eighteen, nineteen, Fredteen, twenty …”
“… twenty-eight, twenty-nine, twenty-Fred, thirty …”

and so on. For a time I would count and stop at Fred, and Nessa would say “Tehh!” (“ten” without the “n” sound because she isn’t supposed to close her mouth or swallow), but that seems to have gone by the wayside.

This has been around long enough to become a running gag. Tami counts with Fred as well, and when she received her Garmin runner’s watch she named her virtual running partner Fred, because his pace is between nine and ten minutes. :-)

Recently, Nessa decided that Fred belongs between eleven and twelve. So now when I count, the conversation usually goes something like:

“No, Daddy! Fred comes after eleven.”
“Noooh--it comes after nine!”
“It comes after eleven. You can’t just move Fred!”

Notice that I’m the one who’s moving Fred. I guess that’s a measure of my success in introducing Fred as a number. Perhaps I can use Fred to teach Nessa base eleven arithmetic in a few years.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Beautiful Megan

I just want to quickly share this great pic I found when going through the pics on Shawn's phone. It's from Christmastime (see the tree coming out of her head). What a fantastic smile!!!

Ack, what am I going to do when the boys actually start paying attention?!? (middle school boys apparantly don't do that yet thankfully!)


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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Morning Musings

Shawn here:

I realize that Sesame Street evolves to stay somewhat current, but this morning I heard a Muppet doing a hip-hop song about a letter (I think). That was just a little too surreal for my sleep-deprived state.

Later, I was nodding off a bit while watching Sleeping Beauty with Nessa. When it got to the point where the three fairies put everyone in the castle to sleep, Nessa turned to me and said "You're not supposed to sleep, Daddy."

I could be imagining it, but it seems like Nessa's voice has changed since having her tonsils out. It seems a bit higher pitched, but clearer and more defined. It will be interesting to see if it stays that way.

Nessa has finally started drinking more and eating some today, for which we are grateful. She is also exhibiting some typical Nessa behaviors again. It is obvious that she doesn't have as much energy as usual, which is most evidenced by the fact that she doesn't fight taking naps or going to bed at night. In true Nessa fashion, she hasn't touched any of the popsicles Tami made for her recovery. Maybe tomorrow...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Alarm 4, Tonsils & Adenoids 0

Shawn here:

The day started at 4(:15) AM today. We had to get up early to take Nessa in to have her tonsils and adenoids removed.

Nessa has always been a restless sleeper with light snoring, and some research led Tami to suspect childhood sleep apnea. The only procedure to treat childhood SA is having the tonsils and adenoids removed (with a 95+% success rate), so we made an appointment to have Nessa examined. One quick look and the ENT doctor said "Yup, those are impressive. I can see where they'd cause sleep issues." So we scheduled a tonsillectomy, and today was the day.

Nessa was the first patient of the day, so we had to be there at 5:45. We just left Nessa in her jammies, bundled her in the car, and off we went. When we got there, Nessa got to put on the tiger jammies they showed her during our tour last week, and then she played while everyone talked to Mom and Dad. Nessa was very good and attentive during the pre-op stuff, although she did not like the medicine they gave her to make her drowsy. It also made her loopy, and she was pulling her surgery hat down over her face.

Our associate pastor came in and stayed with us during the pre-op routine, and when we had a moment said a wonderful prayer pitched right at Nessa's level of understanding. I got to accompany Nessa into the OR, just like in Rochester, and stay until she was under. That was not as wrenching this time as a year ago, but I still recommend avoiding seeing your child placed under general anesthesia if possible.

The doctor came out about half an hour later and told us that everything had gone fine. Nessa was in the recovery room for another 30-35 minutes before they paged us, so it was about 8:15 when we got to go back into the private post-op room. That's when the adventure started. Nessa was not happy about how much her throat hurt, and she did not want anything to drink or suck on. She cried her "I'm hurt" cry and pulled in on herself, making it hard to comfort or talk to her. Finally Tami got into the bed and held her, and I sang all of Nessa's old favorites to calm her down as I did when she was little. The combination of the two seemed to work, and Nessa fell asleep. Apparently I was singing a little louder than I realized, because when the nurse came back and saw Nessa asleep she said it must have been the wonderful singing that did it.

Nessa slept fitfully, waking up and crying every so often, refusing all liquids and popsicles, and then falling asleep again. At that point she sounded just like a percolator. (Yes, I'm old.) Every so often the oxygen monitor would go off, so after a time the nurse hooked up a hose and funnel that blew air past Nessa's face (much like my CPAP, but without a mask). That worked when Nessa was asleep, but it kept waking her up and she didn't like it when awake, so it was a bit of a battle for Tami, who was holding Nessa all this time. I was out of the room for part of this, getting some breakfast, making phone calls, and so on. At one point Nessa was awake long enough that we tried putting a movie in, but as soon as it got started she fell asleep again.

The nurse was getting a little worried that Nessa wouldn't drink anything or have a popsicle, and at 10:30 it was time to give Nessa more Tylenol. Nessa wasn't having anything to do with taking Tylenol orally, and after 10 minutes of trying and some increasingly agitated fussing, we gave up and let Nessa go back to sleep. A bit later the nurse came in and gave Nessa a Tylenol suppository, which went fairly easily and did not disturb Nessa. That solved that problem.

I went off again to find something for Tami to munch on and some water. We were both doing periodic Facebook updates, so some folks watched the whole drama as it played out. When I got back, Tami took off to walk around a little. The nurse came in to put a third bag of fluids on the IV. Originally they had planned to give Nessa about 1 1/2 bags, but they were worried that she wasn't getting any liquid and the anesthesiologist ordered the third bag. By this point Nessa sounded more like an electric hair clipper, and the oxygen alarm hadn't gone off in a long time. The nurse talked to the ENT doctor, and they decided that Nessa could go home about 1 PM. Finally, at around 12:30, Nessa woke up and agreed to take sips from her water bottle. That was enough to convince everyone that she could go home, and we got her out the door a little after 1:30.

We got home a little before 2 PM. Nessa seemed a little more alert, and started to watch The Little Mermaid II, but quickly fell asleep again. I went out to get more Tylenol and run a couple of other errands (including getting more movies), but when I got back Tami told me that Nessa was flatly refusing to take any liquid Tylenol. This worried us, so I took the just-purchased liquid Tylenol back and got some melt-away tablets. Nessa didn't want to take those either, but we got one into her mouth. We only wanted it on her tongue, but it went all the way down her throat. We were not her favorite people at that point.

Nessa kept sleeping, Tami kept watch, and I kept busy doing whatever else. Finally, about 6:30 PM, Nessa told us she was hungry, and she ate an ice cream bar. As I type this she has been awake for over an hour and is watching The Little Mermaid II again. We still have to figure out how to get more Tylenol into her before bed, and how to get her to drink more liquid tomorrow (the IV fluids will keep her hydrated until about noon), but she is responding like the Nessa we know and love. She's talking about what's happening in the movie, telling Tami what's going on--that's our Nessa. :-)

All in all it's been a tiring day. Tami was almost wiped out, but has come alive a little after getting something to eat and seeing Nessa revive. I'm going to crash any time now. I think it will be early to bed for everyone. We know that today will have been more than worth it in the long run, but it's scary to see your child in pain and not be able to help or comfort her. That's a pretty good definition of feeling helpless.

I want to thank everyone for the prayers, positive thoughts, and well-wishes on our behalf throughout the day. We truly felt surrounded by love and care, and Tami even said at one point that she was floating on it. It helps so much to know that others are sharing your burdens, even in a small way, and that you are not alone. Thank you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Megan's First Communion & Seder Supper Photos

Tami Here:

The Wednesday of Holy Week Megan had her official first communion along with a celebration Seder Supper. It was the first time I participated in a Seder Supper and I really appreciated the experience as it was very meaningful. I was also very excited for this milestone for Megan.

And as you can see from the photos Megan is turning into a beautiful young lady. Her poise and maturity nearly match her looks as well. ;-)

We also were able to spend some great time with my parents that day, but the photos of Megan with Grandma and Grandpa are on their camera I think so we'll have to try to get digital copies of those pictures to share.

Thankfully Megan did not inherit the "eye closing" for photos gene that my mom and I have ... Megan is much more photogenic!

Princesses on Parade

Tami here:

I know you all have been wanting to see what Nessa does with her princesses, and you're especially curious about how Nessa uses the princesses when she plays with the legos. Well it's interesting to me anyway...

And actually we have pictures of the princesses in the toy tractor wagon and also in the Barbie van as well ... will have to gather those pictures and post a flickr and Facebook album. Until then, enjoy these quick photos...

Tonsilectomy Prep -- Nessa with her mask and her new teddy bear

Tami here:

Nessa had her Pre-op appointment with the ENT at Gundersen who will do her surgery this coming Monday (we really like the doctor and everyone we have dealt with there through ENT), and she also had an apt. with their "Teddy Bear Care Program." We found it really helpful, and of course Nessa appreciated the stuff she got to take home!

Below she is practicing with the mask they gave her. She is to practice blowing out in it. Of course just getting used to it is the main thing I think (I hated putting a mask on when I first had surgery at 16 so I can only imagine a young child.). Then below that is her great teddy bear she also got, but Nessa did not want to actually be in the picture with the bear (this is just Nessa being Nessa). The bear often practices with the mask as well. Nessa also received a certificate with her name on it saying that she completed the program and she has been surprsingly protective of that piece of paper as well ... or at least she was in the hours after she got it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Lessons

Tami Here:

I think both of the girls learned the lessons about how awful litter is today! It's so interesting how much easier it is for kids to understand that when they are picking up trash along the road!

I have been noticing some trash on the roadside near our house for awhile (up several blocks where there is a stretch that is close enough to the railroad tracks that there are no houses on that side of the road), but now that I often go running on that stretch of road I see it UP CLOSE. And it isn't pretty.

Every time I ran past it during the last week or so I thought, "we really should just come and pick it up." But I never scheduled a time to do it, so you know how without scheduling it, things rarely get done. Then today I was wondering what to do or say about Earth day with the girls, and of course had an ah-ha moment!

So, I sprang it on them after supper about how our family time was going to be spent picking up trash and they looked at me kind of dubious at first, but happily got things ready to go. Thankfully Shawn brought the entire roll of trash bags because I don't think I would have brought enough if it was me. I don't think I realized just how much trash there was there! We stuffed 6 large kitchen size trash bags full plus filled a large rubbermaid container that we also found along the road! And the sad thing is that there was still about another bag full in some thick underbrush near the tracks that is still left to pick up!

As a side note, it did not escape Megan's attention that most of the trash was fast food or convenience store wrappers, pop and alcohol bottles, and cigarette packaging. :-(

Nessa was very enthusiastic and very helpful until I picked up something she wanted to pick up and she melted. She was tired so eventually Shawn walked home with her while Megan and I finished. However Nessa had already picked up nearly a bag full of trash by herself and seemed happy to be doing it so I was very proud of both Nessa and Megan.

As we were finishing up Megan kept going on and on about how people could ever allow all that trash there! That is my girl. I hope she remembers and shares her lesson with others.

And my lesson -- IT WAS SO SIMPLE!

We need to do more of this. Each of us doing our little part to make the Earth a better place.

By the time we got home we were tired and dirty ... and we felt better inside than when we left.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

This and that ... and the start of more posts

Tami here, and it's late and I should be in bed so I'm sure there will be some funny typos for your enjoyment (that is why we call the blog "Unedited Us"

I am committed to writing a blog post a day this week, and I also hope to actually get pictures posted and some other housekeeping done around here, but it's late so I'm starting slowly. :-)

Since being home I've noticed that I've started using Facebook even more as a mini blog site about what is going on around me than before, and that means it is extra easy to neglect the blog, and I apologize to our loyal blog readers for that as I do want to keep this blog up for Friends, Family, and simply as a record to us. :-)

So here are a few tidbits:
  • Tonight was Megan's 5th grade music concert. I didn't get a decent picture, but it was a nice concert and reminded me of my own music concerts at that age. We were also treated to recorder music at the concert, and that is something I do not remember from my own concerts.
  • Megan also has a Spring band concert, and I'm looking forward to hearing the difference between how the 5th grade band sounded in the fall and how they sound now.
  • Megan went through Gun Safety training this early Spring. It was a lot of hard work, but she studied hard and did well. She was nervous on her field day, but did great just as I knew she would!
  • Megan has been sucked into the Twilight books so I'll probably read at least the first one sometime soon. Megan bought the first book with some of her Christmas gift cards, and she finished reading it quite quickly. She is now nearly finished with the 2nd book.
  • Megan has also been keeping busy with the goats and their kids at her Dad's house. We hear stories about the kids regularly, and it sounds like Megan is having great fun taking care of them.
  • Megan took a babysitting class in March and is now certified, so she's looking forward to babysitting more than just her sister. I think she is going to be a GREAT babysitter, and of course I'm not biased at all. ;-)
  • Nessa continues to amaze us with the things she says nearly daily -- from the complex thoughts about time, emotions, numbers and more to the "where did she hear that?" moments! :-)
  • Nessa is really enjoying the nicer weather and often requests to go running with me. So, we run up and down the streets nearby, and of course every run is a "Ready, Set, Go" race! It is a lot of fun and I'm just tickled when she sees me running and wants to go with.
  • Nessa is preparing to eat more popsicles than she every imagined -- if you missed it, she is having her tonsils removed Monday April 27th. We pursued an apt. with the ENT after her 4 year old apt. due to hear continued heavy breathing, snoring, restless sleep and more recently strange sleep cycles. The ENT didn't have to look very long to let us know that Nessa's tonsils were "impressive." So, while any surgery is nerve wracking we decided that it would be best to remove them in hopes to ease these symptoms as well as avoiding future infections. (I had my tonsils removed when I was 16, and this is another genetic thing she can thank me for.) we have our pre-op apt. tomorrow as well as a tour of the surgery area that they do for kids (Teddy bear program). I will post notes on this on Monday afternoon to update everyone.
  • Nessa is also preparing to no longer be in daycare -- maybe just for a bit while I job search, and maybe longer than a bit ... not trying to predict this one. But I've been using this week to catch up on some things as well as allowing a good transition to Nessa being home full time by working on a schedule for us to follow, complete with lots of outings and activities ... but not over scheduled, don't worry, that just isn't me. :-) It turns out that Nessa's week of recovery from her tonsilectomy will make a nice transition to her being home. Nessa hasn't yet questioned the change, but simply seems to be accepting it.
  • Although I haven't blogged about it yet, Nessa did have a nice birthday as well as a nice birthday party (and mom and dad survived the 6 little girls let loose with paint too). Nessa now tells you proudly that she is 4. She also tells us often that she dreams of being a grown up so she can "drink pop and eat popcorn" ... I suppose I should let the girl have popcorn sometime. ;-) oh, she thinks she can do these things when she is 13 because that is older than Megan.
  • Nessa still loves her princesses, especially Ariel, and especially Ariel with legs, is her unquestioned favorite but she will watch/listen to/ play with any of them. In fact my mom nicely made Nessa a Cinderella napkin and we had to request at least one more because that was the only cloth napkin (all we use) that Nessa would use ... she now has two to take turns using -- thanks Grandma Karen!!!!
Oh, my I'm running out of steam before getting to me, and I'm thinking Shawn might have to do his own updates. ;-)

Much of my focus right now is on sticking to my running training schedule. My first goal is a 15k in Rochester in May 2nd -- Yes, I'm running this before my mom's 60th birthday party at the farm that day, so if I'm tired by 8 p.m. at the party, that is why. Then I'll continue to run, but take about 6 weeks off of really pushing the training (faster, longer, harder each week) because I'll be participating in a deep tissue detox to continue to heal. Then I'll start really training for a half marathon this Oct. in Ashland, WI with my wonderful sisters -- goign to make it a great sisters weekend too!!

I'm also volunteering at Megan's school with the Great Books program that she was asked to participate in (I thought that was great -- I remember doing it as a kid), so I'm looking forward to that starting tomorrow.

And I can't forget my wonderful Monday night women's Bible Study group. I've been privleged to lead a few sessions this year which has really helped me use all the Bibles (different versions) we're blessed to own now as well as helping me make all kinds of new discoveries as I read and research ... and best of all the actual meetings. We had a fun outing this past Monday where we went out to eat before the event we were going to and I had fun introducing some to sushi for the first time ... and I was introduced to edamame for the first time (and I think I'm hoooked!). What a great group of women ... the time together has been a special blessing this Spring.

Well, I'm sure I have forgotten many things from just March and April, but it's a start. Shawn and I continue to be thankful for our many blessings, starting with each other and continueing with all of our family and friends.

May you too experience gratitude and blessings today and always ~


Friday, April 10, 2009


Shawn here. The fact that Tami didn't include her name in her post on getting laid off--coupled with the fact that our blog posts are automatically imported to both Shawn's and Tami's Facebook Notes, but without the author information that is at the bottom of the post on the blog--led to some well-intentioned confusion on the part of one of my Facebook friends. This person thought at first that I had been laid off, and was curious as to why I was thinking of becoming a Deaconess, since I am not female.

For the record, I (Shawn) am still employed. I am still pursuing ELCA Candidacy, but have no news to report on that front. All option-considering taking place at this point is Tami's.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Keeping my options open...

The fact that it took me nearly two weeks to write this note either means that I'm very busy (true, I think) or that I'm more than a little conflicted about what to announce to the world (likely also true).

Friday March 27th I was "let go" from my position with ECi La Crosse due to a "workforce reduction." That is the official word.

I expected it to some extent. I actually expected it months ago, but then when it didn't come started to wonder when and if it would ... until Thursday when it became obvious that something was happening in my little cooperate world.

Honestly I felt relief at the moment when it happened. I didn't have to wonder if it would happen or when it would happen any longer, and I now would have time to focus on finding that new job that I had been wanting for a long time. Or, I could focus on contract work and moving toward other opportunities. (For the record, I'm keeping my options open at the moment.)

I think back to the other times that this has happened in my life (thankfully not recently), and this feels so different. Is the situation different or am I different?

People ask me how I'm doing and I quickly reply, "Great!" without even thinking about it, and then when we start talking I can see them get confused when I tell them I'm not currently employed and explain what happened. And yet so often I still really do feel great. I can only conclude that I do not identify *how I am* with my employment status. I say this while certainly understanding how being unemployed can bring a lot of stress on an individual and family.

I had been praying a lot lately about my future path (and continue to do so!). I have not yet told many people but I feel strongly about pursuing a path of serving others -- but what that path is and when I am to pursue it still has not been revealed to me. One option I am considering is becoming a Lutheran Deaconess or working in ministry in another way; however, those are opportunities primarily in the future if for no other reason than I need to continue on the discernment path, and then if I continue to feel called I must apply, and so on before beginning the education process.

Yet, in some way I know that my current situation is a part of that future path. I'm not sure how yet, but as is each leg of the journey, this is an important one.

Presently in addition to checking out contract opportunities and many local job opportunities, I am also continuing to work on various opportunities with The Raw Divas, and hope to have an ebook out soon!

I have to admit that I also hope I will be able to catch my breath a little bit and catch up with the many things I have been putting off -- from posting photos to writing elaborate personal blog posts! :-)

So stay tuned for more photos, details about Nessa's birthday, and of course our request for prayers as Nessa gets her tonsils out at the end of the month. Of course many of you that see my hurried bits and notes on Facebook already knew much of this ...

Love and belief to all -- and send any job opportunities my way. ;-)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Poetic Nessa

Shawn here. While Nessa and I were playing this morning, she wanted me to keep my hand flat, so she said "Daddy, open the doors of your hand." I think that's a wonderful phrase--very poetic and beautiful. I'm going to remember it and pull it out in the future when appropriate.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

To Nessa On Her 4th Birthday

Four years old! Wow! It seems like just yesterday that you were only three…

It’s been another year full of changes. It might not seem to others like you’ve changed all that much: you’re only a couple of inches taller and a few pounds heavier than last April 2nd. But your mommy and I know how many things are different.

The biggest change has been your diet: with your Celiac Disease diagnosis we all had to change what we eat, but what a difference those changes have made. You don’t get sick nearly so often. You’re a picky eater like I was, so it gets tricky to feed you sometimes, but at least we know everything you eat is helping you to grow and not harming you.

Your attention span is getting longer. You can sit through an entire movie, and if you like it you can sit through the same movie over and over. When you play you can concentrate on one toy or one scenario for a long time before switching to another, especially if you’re playing by yourself. If you have several choices you like, you still want to do everything, but after sampling them all you often settle on one and stick with it for a while. Your play scenarios are getting more elaborate, and you’ve started adding things from movies you’ve seen and stories you’ve heard. I love to listen to you play when you don’t know I’m doing so, and to hear the things that come out of your imagination.

You’re getting better and better with language. Although you often want to play a role and speak like you’re younger than you are, at other times you astound me with sentences you put together and the ideas you express. You have the classic four-year-old hesitation & repetition when your brain gets ahead of your ability to frame the words exactly as you want them to come out. I know I’m not as patient with that as I should be sometimes, and I’m sorry. But it’s so much fun to listen to you incorporate new thoughts and expressions into your speech.

You can do so many more things than you could a year ago: put together puzzles, write your name without help (even if the s’s often turn into z’s), color a picture using different colors in each area. You’re getting good at climbing, and are learning how to use items to help you do things. You recognize more words every month. Your mommy and I wonder when you’ll unlock the reading code and be able to read to us. You’re also starting to make up songs, much to my delight.

You’re still learning how to get a handle on your emotions, but that’s OK. It’s hard to want so much to do something and to not be able to do it. You have an independent streak a mile wide, and someday that could be a wonderful thing. You’re learning that God will listen to you when you are having trouble, and that sometimes that helps.

Your mommy and I love you so much, Nessa Rose…more and more with each passing day. Occasionally we’re wistful about days that are gone forever, but I’m so excited about the girl you’re becoming and everything that’s ahead of you that I don’t think about the past much. You are still my greatest joy and my greatest treasure. Thank you for being my little girl, and for helping your mommy to make my life rich beyond measure.

Happy 4th birthday, Nessa Rose!


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What Nessa Eats (Gluten Free menus for a PICKY 3 year old)

OK, I'm going to put this here (and hence FB) for future reference. I'm writing it because I've had more than one friend ask me about this recently, and many more than that request gluten free info. So, there will likely be some additional posts after this as well.

First for your entertainment, I asked Nessa what her favorite foods are:
"Tacos and peach-strawberry smoothies"

She was eating Tacos at the time and I have no idea about the Peach Strawberry smoothies except that I have NEVER made her own ... but I will be Thursday as I told her we could have them when Shawn is gone on Thursday.

So, Shawn said, "what about Pizza and hamburgers?"
Nessa: "OK, I like tacos, pepperoni pizza, peach-strawberry smoothies ... AND THAT IS IT"

Well, we know that she eats other things but she really does LOVE tacos lately -- and that would be the wonderful hard shell corn tortillas like I grew up with (memories!) or soft corn tortilla wraps (recently discovered the sprouted ones by Food for Life and we all LOVE those because they simply taste wonderful, yes even I eat them).

I then asked Nessa about Breakfast, and she said "cereal." Well, that has been her favorite lately. Mostly Enviro Kids ones, but also Erwhon rice krispie like cereal (be careful both companies have both gluten free and non gluten free cereals). There are also a number of other GF cereals available at all of the grocery stores around here, but those are the main kinds we get. And we're kind of happy Nessa is finally eating all the cereal we bought awhile ago as otherwise she was on a GF waffle a day kick (Van's all natural). She also eats her toast w/ peanut butter (or sunflower butter as is the case currently) and/or jelly (usually simple Kinnikinnick bread straight from freezer to toaster). And sometimes I get her to drink a green smoothie (gasp).

Her favorite packaged snacks right now are the following:
  • Smoreables from Kinniknnick We only found these recently and boy are we happy to have found a gluten free graham cracker!
  • Glutino pretzels
  • Jennies Macaroons
  • Fruit Leathers (the organic ones at the co-op can't think of the name ... need to make more of these homemade)
  • Edy's frozen fruit bars
  • Enviro Kids "granola bars" really cereal bars ... and really any GF of these types of bars but the EnviroKids is what we get the most of and she is usually only allowed to have them when we're "on the road."

Remember Nessa is also Dairy/Casein free right now too ... so no more yummy cheese crackers (at least not until Enjoy Life food comes out with some like I've heard rumours of), but for those of you that do not have that worry, you may get addicted to the Cheddar Cheese Almond Nut Thins!!

Snack cracker I most like Nessa to have (other than those I make in the dehydrator with flax and other seeds and veggies): Mary's Gone Crackers (and yes she likes them as do most people that try them).

Favorite non-packaged snacks:
  • bananas
  • smoothies
  • ham! (that kid will eat Beeler's ham almost any time we will let her)
  • my homemade granola (this is new so we'll see if it lasts)
  • grapes
  • raisins (could be considered packaged I guess, but naturally GF)
  • applesauce
MENU for the WEEK (compliments of daycare)
Breakfast-- Kinninnick English Muffins, apples, Vanilla Rice Milk
Lunch -- Pizza on GF crust, broccoli, pineapple, Vanilla Rice Milk (I'm not saying she eats all of it)
Snack -- GF crackers, juice

Breakfast -- Toast (Kinninick), pineapple, vanilla milk
Lunch -- Tator Tots and hamburger, green beans, applesauce, vanilla milk
Snack -- GF bread sticks (glutino ?) w/ dipping sauce, juice

Breakfast -- GF waffles, mixed fruit, vanilla milk
Lunch -- Peanut Butter sandwich, french fries (few different GF brands, including specific ore-ida ones such as Ore-Ida Golden (Crinkle, Fries), peas, pears, vanilla milk (note, if PB and fries seems odd it's because most of the other kids were having chicken patties, we told them it was OK to substitute PB sometimes like that ... she likes it better anyway I bet)
Snack -- GF graham crackers (Smoreables by Kinninnick)

Breakfast -- GF cereal, bananas, vanilla milk
Lunch -- GF noodles (rice pasta) and sauce, mixed veggies, peaches, vanilla milk
Snack -- rice cakes, juice

Breakfast -- GF muffins (?? there are a variety of mixes this my have been another kinninnick one as most of the special daycare items are), peaches, and vanilla milk
Lunch -- Tacos, Mexican rice, corn, mixed fruit, vanilla milk
Snack -- jello, bananas, and juice

Favorite Suppers and other
Well, you've already heard she loves tacos and pizza. We do tacos at least once a week now, and pizza not quite that often (she uses the only GFCF cheese we can find here -- Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet). We also do A LOT of "Hamburgers and Fries" (often actually buffalo meat) and we do it with our own potatoes cut in wedges in the oven mostly. Sometimes if I'm cooking I'll do meatloaf (Shawn doesn't like it but Megan requests it) and I love that because then I can hid veggies in it!. We also do chicken in a number of ways but mostly Nessa only wants to eat the PLAIN chicken breast so if there are any "green things" or fancy sauces we cook hers separately or pick them off (I told her that her uncle Scott had to pick his own green things off when he was a kid!). And we do all sorts of potatoes from scratch with the chicken as well as rice or other GF grain dishes like quinoa. Recently I made a dish that Megan and Shawn loved so we'll do it again -- just chop chicken breasts into cubes, potatoes into cubes, (and sweet potatoes into cubes), and put some garlic, rosemary and olive oil to coat them and put in baking dish and bake all together ... I think that will become a standard one). We also do A LOT of spaghetti but most of the time Nessa just wants naked noodles anyway which makes no sense since she loves pizza sauce to dip things in otherwise. She also loves ketchup (Annies' Organics but Heinz is GF if you don't mind High Fructose Corn Syrup). GF pasta is more expensive than regular pasta but we still do it at least once a week. And there is always the Beeler's ham when it's just the two of us and I have a salad (might get her to eat some carrot sticks and applesauce with her ham). :-)

On weekends Nessa eats a lot of eggs and hash browns (homemade). We used to make a lot of Buckwheat pancakes back when I was eating pancakes but I can't remember the last time we made pancakes or waffles homemade since I stopped eating them.

I'm sure I'll think of more later .... I do have a few recipes I need to post in the next few days too ... like the Millet squares that everyone likes so much.


P.S. I'm trying to gather a good list of resources to pass on to others so if you're gluten free and reading this, please comment with your favorite one or two resources (sites, blogs, etc.) as well as any of your own favorite foods!

Also, I can't believe it's been 2 weeks since we last posted ... that is what happens when deadlines hit at work! I hope to make up for it this weekend!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Yup, She's My Daughter

Shawn here. Yesterday I was helping Nessa get dressed, and we had a little disagreement about who should move so we'd be closer. I meant to say "You should move because you're the young person," but I actually said "You should move since you're the young girl." Nessa picked up on that immediately, saying "I can't be the young girl, because you're a boy." I was flabbergasted. It was impressive enough to realize she was capable of advanced relational reasoning at age three, but given how often her words get away from her, it was even more impressive that she expressed her understanding so succinctly.

And yes, she's excellent at splitting hairs. Her Grandma Jan will tell you she gets that from her Dad...

Sweet Dreams

Remember how I said that sleeping children are one of God's secret weapons? That weapon has extra powers when the parents have been away for a few hours ...

Saturday night when we came home from the theatre, I went to check on Nessa and found her sleeping so sweetly I had to take pictures ... or at least try (bad camera for taking night pics)

Notice the little "breathe right" strip? I bought them in desperation when she was having a hard time breathing at night last week. Of course in true Nessa fashion she now wants to wear one every night! Of course she only wants the green ones!

Look on the headboard and you'll see the entire lineup of what Nessa is now using most nights out of ritual ... the breath right strips, some rescue remedy, some "mellow" essential oil (lavender and sandlewood I think), and some saline spray. Now if only our sweet girl could be as obsessive about teeth brushing and saying prayers!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Commentary or just a tired girl?

So tonight Shawn is working late and I opted to let Nessa stay up to "watch" the President's Press Conference with me. I hyped it up by saying we could eat some banana ice cream while we watched and we could snuggle up in our jammies ahead of time. Well, Nessa opted not to put her jammies on (well, she had her nightgown on only to her wait over her jeans), but she sure remembered the icecream part...and then we settled in to watch...

... apparently President Obama talking about economics isn't as exciting as hearing him talk while on the campaign trail (oh, wait Megan fell asleep during a debate I let her stay up and watch ... never mind).

The best time to take pictures of Nessa is when she is sleeping though, so of coruse I did! Do you love the headband? I can't even remember where it first came from, but I've had it for years and mainly use it in my stash to keep my hair out of my face while washing my face. Nessa has decided that it is her headband now and wears it as often as possible, and of course she puts it on by herself. It's SO cute!

I had asked her to lay next to me (I was sitting right next to her), and she just looked at me sweetly and explained that she WAS laying next to me. So I had to specifically ask her to lay her head on my shouldar or lap ... she declined, and that is SO Nessa.

By the way I think that the fact that even older children are adorable when sleeping (babies are a given) is God's secret weapon in assuring that the next generation survive. :-)

I just LOVE that sweet little hand!

Christmas Thank You Shout-Outs ... part two of many (Heidi, Ben, Jake and/or Marcus)

Tami here with more Christmas Thank You Shout Outs --

These were the great gifts that Nessa received as part of the gift exchange the cousins do on the Groth side...but I can't remember which one of Heidi's boys actually had Nessa's name (oops). Either way it was a great and much-appreciated gift -- THANK YOU!

Curious George is still a favorite, so this new book was especially appreciated!

And if you look closely you can see Nessa holding the great clothes that were also part of this wonderful gift. I'm sure if you look at our photo stream over the winter you'll see Nessa wearing this great shirts A LOT. She loves them and likes to wear them a lot.

Below is a picture of Nessa wearing the flower shirt on Christmas ... after a big day at the zoo she ended up falling asleep in the chair while watching a video ... sadly the great flower shirt doesn't always have such magical powers. :-)

Christmas Thank You Shout-Outs ... part two of many (Grandma and Grandpa Groth)

Don't let the cheesy smile fool you, Nessa LOVES her Cinderella sweatshirt! Nessa has been wearing her sweatshirt(s) from Grandma Karen nearly every day this winter!

And here is Nessa holding tight to all her goodies stashed in the great Toy bags Grandma found!

Of course this post would not be complete without an official thank you to Grandpa and Grandma Groth for ALL of the wonderful gifts we received at Christmas (whether they were Christmas gifts or not) -- from little things like the great scarf to the BIG things like the WONDERFUL time spent in the timeshare in Brownsville. And while there aren't great photos to share, Megan LOVED her gift cards too (So far we've had one awesome night at Barnes and Noble and many hours since then watching videos and reading books that she got that night.)


~Tami (and family) :-)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

New Years 2009

After returning from our Texas trip we were tired, but not too tired to make it to the Big Event La Crosse New Years Party (at Logan this year). It was a blast, and it was made even more fun by being joined by good friends. :-)

Below is a pic of all the kids after we got home that night.

Nessa had so much at the craft tables at the New Years event that she decided (with mom's help) that she would have a "Craft" birthday party this year. In fact she'll be having her first birthday party in a few years, and her first ever kids birthday party. And mom is a little worried at how fast that date will be coming up ... wow, Nessa is almost 4!!!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Christmas Day 2008: Brownsville Zoo

So have we told you all where we were on Christmas? ;-) Now that I'm finally getting my pictures uploaded from the various cameras to my computer and various websites (check Flickr for more pics), I thought I should remind you that Christmas Day for us was gloriously sunny, and yes the girls were able to wear shorts on Christmas.

We spent the day at the Brownsville zoo, and it was great fun, and simply a joy to be outside in the sunshine. :-) Below are Nessa and Max -- first in the baby animal area and then stopping for a moment to pose for us.

Top Ten Reasons You Should Join Us on Facebook

Tami here, just having a little fun...

10. You can see pictures of us in our pajamas (Christmas Eve / Christmas Day album I just uploaded)

9. Shawn and I average a half a dozen updates between us on Facebook ... unfortunately our blog update ratio is more than a bit lower than that.

8. If your friends with the right people you can observe Shawn securing babysitting services via Facebook. ;-)

7. You can learn all about my food and exercise habits by watching what I do in Facebook

6. I almost always upload more photos and faster to Facebook than anywhere else, and more importantly I add notes/descriptions to them!

5. If you observe carefully you can watch Shawn and I flirt like school kids ... it's rather sickening I'm sure.

4. You can see what groups we join and what causes we care about.

3. You can read all of our blog posts as notes right in Facebook (both Shawn and I import these blog posts into our notes)

2. You can chat with us on Facebook's Instant Messenger feature.

1. We want to see and hear all about YOU!!!! :-) (If you don't know the slightest thing about FB but are interested, you can even ask us to help you get started. It's really easy, seriously.)

P.S. If you are only Shawn's friend, and can't see all of those wonderful pics I upload, well I'm sure you can fix that! Need help finding us on facebook -- start with my profile here: ... oh and if you're on twitter you can connect with me there too:

Christmas season 2008 flashback

I don't think I shared this picture of Nessa from when we were ringing bells at the nearby Shopko for the Salvation Army. I want to be sure to share is because it was a very nice couple of hours and It hink it was good for Nessa too. I had been thinking about contacting teh Salvation Army when our church facilitated us with a sign up sheet. I think Nessa was our secret weapon even when she wasn't wearing the apron as she would smile and look as the money went in teh bucket and then the person would often reach in to their wallet and take out another dollar and ask Nessa if she wanted to put in in the bucket -- and of course she did. :-)
Posted by Picasa

Creative use for Fruits and Vegetables ... or, Fun in the Snow

This is Nessa's snowman from last weekend! Nessa had help from a certain wonderful Daddy, but I believe that she was the creative force behind the development of this unique little snow person.

Wondering what is making such a cheery smile on the adorable snowman? That would be a slice of red pepper! Two grapes for eyes and a carrot nose complete the look...oh and one of Megan's old hats. :-)

Nessa and Daddy had a great time out in the snow last weekend. Due to the extreme cold this winter it was actually the first time Nessa was able to just go play in the snow in our yard. It seems to be a winter of extremes in some ways as we'll be outside again this weekend as the snow melts -- either it has been too cold to be outside or it's warm enough to start melting things into a sloppy mess. Well, hopefully we'll get at least a little sledding time in yet this winter.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Future Diva?

Honestly, I'm not sure what to think of Nessa's way of dressing up with all of the dress up clothes at ONE time. Well, OK we actually have more dress up clothes than these, but that was my first thought when I saw Nessa -- "she put them ALL on" LOL.

You can see more of Nessa's dress up photo session as well as many more photos now on Flickr: But as of tonight I have not edited or made comments on of the pics I uploaded (all from my phone in Dec/Jan) because something is making doing such things on flickr right now REALLY slow. I hope to add photos from the other camera as well as add notes, etc. sometime this week. Oh, and I didn't delete anything, but just uploaded it all so you'll see the good, the bad, the ugly ... and ... food that I took pics of for one of my food blogs. :-)

We enjoyed a warm weekend here in La Crosse and are hoping for another one next weekend. We only managed a small snowman though because the snow didn't cooperate much with making snowmen. It sure felt good to get outside though - I even went running outside AND I liked it LOL ... it's amazing and wonderful.

Until later -- xoxo

Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Deepest Apologies!

No, I'm not apologizing because it has been nearly a month since we have posted here although there should be many more posts coming soon (assuming normal bed time routines continue!). No, I'm apologizing because I've been neglectful in spreading the word about the new Ecopolitan website, and an exciting new program the Ecopolitan's Dr. T has teamed up with the Raw Divas to do -- a professional 90 Day Detox!

See so many of you -- lots of online and real life friends and acquaintances have been asking me for recipes and nutritional information. And that is GREAT. I LOVE and feel honored to help out as I'm able to, including sharing recipes and ideas. In fact I'm excited to start doing more in-person "Green Smoothie Parties" soon too ... what could be more fun that nourishing our bodies while also nourishing our social selves?!?

However, because I didn't want to be pushy I always held back and didn't push many of the programs (except for maybe the many awesome free programs and information), and honestly I figured people might be scared of the term "detox." If you are like I was 6 months ago you may think that term should be reserved for those dealing with street drug withdrawal or something else similar ... however, sadly anyone eating anything close to a standard American diet (SAD) or exposed to environmental chemicals (we all are), is carrying a high toxin load in their bodies.

The results of such toxins can be as "harmless" as extra weight in order for our wonderfully smart bodies to store the toxins or it can be much worse -- all kinds of chronic and degenerative illnesses can be related to these toxins (please, go read at the links and the blog entries -- and listen to the audio Q&A here and if you have more questions, leave comments on the blog there).

I have learned much of this through the last 6 months, but I still didn't think I was ready for a professional deep tissue detox ... and then I listened to the Q&A with Dr. T and Tera, and now I know that I am ready. I'm not scared or nervous, and I realize to really regain my health I need to follow a doctor-advised professional program.

So, what about the cost??? I suggest you compare it to other things you have done in your life, especially health care related, or that you are willing to do in your life. Or if you are just focusing on weight loss, compare it to the many programs available for weight loss and what they charge. I have a feeling that will put the cost in perspective.

For me the thing that immediately comes to my mind is the FIRST appointment I had with La Crosses' "Alternative Doctor" ... it was $500 when I walked out of there with a bag FULL of supplements, a few sheets advising me of what foods NOT to eat (but nothing telling me what TO eat), and of course directions to come back many times for more appointments. I spent a few hundred more dollars before giving up and moving on to another alterntaive-minded doctor in the area -- this one covered by insurance so co-pays were only $15 but I had so many appointments that I'm sure it was easily $300 before I quite seeing that doctor after very little change in my condition and many lost hours to me in over a YEAR's time. And of course many of the therapies were not covered by insurance -- Acupuncture alone cost me several hundred dollars, and I was also still on a number of supplements and prescriptions. Heck even the FREE info from the Raw Divas and Ecopolitan (and many other sites I will link to this week from my blog), helped me more than all of those expensive therapies!

So, yes, that put the cost in perspective for me!

And with the results of only changing my diet, why should I be shy about letting you all know about how you can find results even faster and with more assitance than I did!

I thank God daily for the abundance of REAL FRESH food He provides ... AND I thank him for the Raw Divas (there is an entire sisterhood) and other knowledgable and encouraging friends I have found along the way!

And again I'm sorry that I didn't let you all know about this as soon as I found out! The official deadline for signing up for this LIVE version of the 90 day detox is February 1st!!! However, I think I could twist Tera's arm to let you still join on day 2, 3 or maybe even 4. ;-)

If now isn't the right time for you, then listen to the Q&A anyway so you have the info for when you ARE ready. And then sign up for the FREE 7 day detox ... Green Smoothie Challenge ... or just join in the blog or twitter chatter! :-)

To your health!

P.S. There really will be more blog posts all around soon ... Love you all xoxo