Monday, January 30, 2012

I Had A Full Plate (So I Traded It In For A Bigger One)

Once upon a time there was a little family who lived in a little house.  It sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale, doesn't it?  Well, open the door to that little house and you do have a fairy tale--you also have parents sighing, a baby crying, boys arguing and fighting, and a light bulb in the dining room that can't decide if it wants to shine dimly or brightly. We'll be sitting at the table eating dinner--the boys will be goofing off, Kaitlyn will be crying, and Jacob and I will be taking turns saying, "Stop that!"  "Eat!"  "Leave your brother alone!" The light bulb above us will dim then get bright again.  We all freeze and grow silent, then we look up at the light.  This light bulb has a personality just like many appliances in this little home.  The washing machine, for example, will hit the spin cycle and sit there pumping air when it is supposed to pump water.  I'll go in and mess with it until I finally hear the water pumping in.  It happens nearly every time.  As I said before, it has a personality all its own! Little things like this are referred to as "stupid problems" in our home. We call them stupid problems because they are just small annoyances for the most part, but also because there is so much going on right now that we don't need one more thing added to our plate--even something as simple as a light bulb.  Actually, I went to the "reality" store last week and traded in our old plate for a bigger one.  I explained to the sales clerk that the plate we currently had just wasn't big enough for all that we had going on.  She nodded and showed me some bigger plates.  I found a large one that had edges to keep things from sliding off or hanging over.  Hopefully it will work because it seems like every day something new is added to our plate.
There are moments where we will feel overwhelmed--and it's little moments such as your son telling you that your hair looks a little ugly or that you look "way better" without your glasses, or some one making a comment about your body or the state of your house. These little moments, for whatever reason, are the ones that push us over the edge.

I've decided to start lifting weights so I can hold this bigger plate.  I know that one day, hopefully soon, life will slow down, we will all be well, and we'll be able to use our very large and nearly empty plate to slide down the hill outside our house.  That's right--the plate can be used for fun and entertainment too.  Isn't that amazing?  Give me enough time and I'll prove it!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Heroes Live On (Remembering One of My Favorite People)

When I was a little girl we had lunch with my grandparents every single Sunday.  When I was little I thought my Grandpa Jack was the funniest man alive.  I remember him laying on the floor and I'd get my toy doctor kit out and play doctor.  We have pictures of him laying on the floor with me sitting on him. My brother and I would stay with my grandparents quite a bit.  I remember waiting until my grandmother went to bed and my Grandpa Jack would come out with a big smile on his face--an ornery expression that a little boy would have when he was up to something he knew would get him in trouble.  I see this expression on my own boys from time to time. I remember Grandpa Jack always had his bath robe and slippers on and he'd walk into the kitchen, open the freezer door, and pull out the ice cream.  He'd turn to us and smile, lean over a little to make sure the bedroom door was shut so my grandma wouldn't know what he was doing, then he'd say, "Want some ice cream?"  We'd sit and have ice cream with him at 11 o'clock at night.  In the mornings he'd sleep in--which was understandable because he was up late eating ice cream.  Ha.  He'd come out, sit at the table, and eat cookies with his coffee.  To all of us grandchildren they were known as "grandpa cookies."  If we wanted a grandpa cookie we had to give him a kiss on the cheek and ask for a cookie--usually he would give us two or three.  I thought he was wonderful! He and my grandmother would take us camping and fishing. My grandpa enjoyed baseball and I remember watching baseball games with him many, many times. I liked it because he liked it. He would go deer hunting with my dad and uncles and when they would come back empty handed he would wink at me and smile and say, "I didn't kill Bambi this time, either."

I have an old black and white photo of my grandparents from the late 40s.  I look at that picture and think about stories my grandpa used to tell us from "back in his day." He survived the depression, was in WWII where he spoke one day about killing people.  A sadness was in his voice as he admitted that he couldn't see and he didn't know how many people he had killed. He was so young. He and my grandmother lost their first child to illness when he was about 9 months old.  My Grandpa Jack's life was far from boring! Every year the family would get together and help my grandparents put their Christmas tree up.  My grandpa would sit and watch, people would argue and complain--it WAS the holidays after all.  Ha.  I remember one year when I was in college my cousins were there helping, as well as my aunts, and my parents.  Grandpa was sitting and watching and telling people what to do.  I remember looking over at him at one point and he was watching all of us with a smile on his face--his eyes seemed happy.  At that moment it occurred to me that maybe he didn't help us because he enjoyed watching us--his family.  He was proud of his family and it was obvious.

And I was proud of him--and more than proud to call him my grandfather.  My boys loved him just as much as I did.  Logan still does things and will say, "Mom! I look like Great Grandpa Jack!"  or  "Great Grandpa Jack used to do that!"  He will come to me, crawl in my lap, and say, "I miss Great Grandpa Jack."  We all miss him.  Today he has been gone for a year. I think about him often and I thank God that I was given the chance to not only know him, but to call him mine.

My Grandpa Jack with Alex on Alex's first Christmas (2005).

 Grandpa Jack and his buddy, Logan--Logan LOVED this man!!  (Easter 2010)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Count Your Blessings

Things have been busy and stressful in the Astley house these days.  We are getting ready for Alex's surgery a week from today and trying to get everything (school, therapies, appointments, etc.) squared away between now and then.  We also have an ultrasound scheduled to check out Kaitlyn's liver and make sure everything is functioning the way it's supposed to--and to add to the fun I went to the doctor last week and got some news . . . nothing major . . .and will have to schedule an appointment with a surgeon for myself.  Jacob and I have gotten to the point where we just shrug our shoulders and say, "It is what it is."

Today I was sitting in the waiting room at Sensational Kids waiting on Alex to finish his occupational therapy session.  A woman came in pushing a little girl in a wheel chair.  She was strapped into this fancy wheel chair, leaned back, and hooked up to oxygen.  Every time she took a breath it was wheezy.  She started making sounds and her mother excitedly said, "Are you talking?  That's my big girl.  Do it again."  The little girl smiled and tried to talk--which just came out as groans and grunts.  The mom said, "Hi.  Say, 'hi'"  The girl groaned something that sounded like "hi" and the mom rubbed her arm and said, "That's my big girl.  I'm so proud of you."  The little girl, who looked to be maybe four or five years old, smiled so big and kept trying to say "hi."

I sat and watched her with a smile on my face and thought about my own children. Jacob has said (on more than one occasion) that there is always some one who has it worse than you do.  This is true.  We haven't been focusing on the negative in our house so don't get me wrong.  With all the medical issues that have come up lately we have been busy--and I won't lie and say that we aren't nervous about our son having surgery next week--but, as the saying goes, things could be worse.  Watching that little girl struggle to breathe and struggle just to say the word, "hi" really reminded me that we need to be thankful for what we DO have and not focus on all the stressful things going on in our world. My children don't have any terminal illnesses, they have plenty to eat, and everything they could possibly need (and a ton of things they don't need but think they do. . . LOL).

So, with that amazing little girl in mind today I am counting my blessings.