Saturday, January 26, 2008

We're Baaaaack

Well, Zach worked hard and pulled his grade up. Not to where it should (easily) be, but enough. So I carted all the cords in from the car and we're back in the electronic age. Not sure about that. It was pretty peaceful here with no tv, no internet, no x-box.

Finals week is over for the boys. I can NOT believe that Kenny has only 3 semesters left and he'll be done with high school. Where does the time go? Remember this little guy?

My new job is about killing me. I love it. I really, really do. And a girl told me the other day, with tears in her eyes, "I've learned more from you in three weeks than I did in all my classes put together last year." Okay, that will keep me going for a while. But man, I really have to THINK now. My toddler classes and the CCRR job I'd been doing for over 10 years and things were pretty automatic. It's good for me. And I like that I'm learning, too. And growing. But this old dog is TIRED after doing new tricks all day. But it's a good tired.

Zach has been playing basketball, his team is still undefeated. This is quite remarkable, as he plays on the sophomore team. And the coaches have taken the six top sophomores to play either varsity or JV. And the 10 guys that are left are amazing. Zach's been named player of the game twice. He's really hitting his stride now. Of course, the season's almost over. Oh well. We can't wait for BASEBALL!! While we're walking down memory's a few early basketball pics of Zach.

Kate has been playing basketball, too. Weekend tournaments, travelling, driving in the snow, it's all good. We don't even have time to miss dance. Much. She had a tournament in La Grande two weeks ago. And that means...MOUATS! We got to see Will, Stacy, Ryan, Christian, Kyle and Caleb. It was so much fun. And very emotional. Kenny, who wears his heart on his sleeve, had a very difficult time at first. Seeing Will is such a strong reminder of Dave. It's hard to explain, but when I see Will, it just feels like Dave should be there. But soon, with the help of Stacy's stellar grilled cheese, Kenny settled in and then the boys played football in the snow and went to the gym to cheer Kate on. Zach's still helping coach the team. He loves "his girls." It's really brought Kate and Zach close. I even watched him hug her at the WaHi game last night. He didn't even know I was looking. Sweet, sweet moments.

Kenny skis with Special Olympics on the weekends. He's really enjoying it. But getting up so very early isn't as easy for him this year as last year. He's a morning person, but his usual wakeup time is about 7:00. So when I come in and wake him at 5:45, it's always been fine, but he's been a bit cranky lately. Breakfast at McDonalds seems to help. He's made some incredible art projects this year. He's also enjoying drama. No, not the kind he creates, the class. Here's a picture of Snickers checking out his "Wild Thing." The wild thing's name is Blitz and he's a monster dog made from an old sheet.

And here are Garfield and Odie. Kenny made these in pottery last year, but he's been after me to post pictures of them, so here you go.

And the dogs. Oh, the dogs.

Gosh, we love them. They BOTH sleep with me. So does Snickers and sometimes Macky. So don't you worry about me. Lonely, I am NOT.

PS. Did you notice those beautiful hardwood floors? I'm still so proud of them. And of me and my sis. We rock.

We went to Spud's funeral in Lewiston. I was okay until the soldiers played Taps. Wow. Here's a picture I found of me with Spud. He had this idea to drape my long hair over his bald head so it would look like he had hair. Bert always used to say that she married Spud for his beautiful curly hair, and now look!

And...the biggest news of all, Kate is 12. TWELVE! She is incredibly smart, kind, curious and enthusiastic. She has a tender heart and a true sense of the spiritual. She has music in her step and mischief in her smile. And even with the emover, she's so beautiful. She takes my breath away, and I simply cannot believe that we almost didn't have her. Some surprises are just what you need. You know, every time we were pregnant, Dave was SURE the baby was a girl. He bought Kyle a pink sleeper. He put that darn pink sleeper under his pillow when I was pregnant with Kenny and with Zach. He grew up in a family of boys and to him, girls were fascinating, magical creatures. And while he loved his boys with his whole being, there was something especially tender about his love for Kaitlyn. He used to call her BabyCakes. Until she got old enough to say, "Actually, I'm not a baby anymore." "So what should I call you?" Kate wrinkled her little nose and thought. "Well, I guess you could call me ShortCakes." Oh how he laughed. I guess ShortCakes wouldn't work anymore.

Just before he died, Dave bought Kate a birthstone ring with two little diamonds. He told her, "Your first diamond must come from your daddy, because no man will ever love you as much as I do." You can see how much he loved her in this first pic. Never was a child more adored. And her brothers, too. I have a ton of pictures of them squeezing, kissing, carrying, snuggling her. As a baby, she hardly ever got to nap; the boys kept waking her up because they missed her. Whatever she wanted, they were right there, doting on her. Kate was actually quite miffed when she got to preschool and not everyone dropped what they were doing to hear what "the baby" had to say. It was a bit of a rude awakening for her, but I think the experience of being loved so thoroughly was worth it.

And now some pics of our girl through the years.

Because of you, Kate, we all feel like we're walking on sunshine.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Hi all,
Well, Zach is pulling his usual. A's on his tests in Math Analysis. Not doing his homework. Doesn't add up to a good grade. So.....since drastic measures were called for, I DISCONNECTED the cable.

This means no tv.
No x-box 360.
No internet.

Am I punishing him or myself? Not sure about that.

I didn't disconnect it permanently, just removed the cords and put them in my car. We'll see how it goes.

But, dear readers, this means fewer updates on the blogs, because I'll have to go out into the cold to get the cords in my jammies after the kids are in bed.

It also means it will be harder for me to get my e-mails. I can check them from work, after my workday is done.

It also means that at work, I don't have my e-mail address book. So...if you haven't heard from me, please e-mail me again, I can't access the e-mails already on my home computer.

PETE IN OHIO...e-mail me, so I can add you to my online address book. I don't have your address now.

Hugs everyone.

Wish me luck, I meet with Zach's teacher on Thursday. At 6:00 AM!!!!! If you know me, you know that's a BIG deal. 6:00 AM!!!! Who in the heck gets up that early???? I know, I'm lazy. And apparently a lousy parent.

On a more serious note, Grandpa Spud died last night. Kate and I went to see him a few hours before he died. It was very hard for both of us, but especially Kate. Seeing Spud there, hearing that end-of-life breathing, it just brought back so many painful memories. Spud was sleeping with his mouth open, breathing shallowly, and it brought back pictures of Dave, the high fever, the fluctuating heart rate, the rattling in his chest. I remember worrying about him being thirsty. He couldn't drink, and we swabbed his mouth, but he couldn't swallow. Now sometimes I wake up in the night, my mouth and throat parched, and I think about how horrible it is to be thirsty. And I cry. And breathe.

Kate was glad for the chance to say goodbye. She laid her head on his chest and cried and talked about the new journey he was ready to take. "Hug Daddy for me."

Pray for Judy and Bob and Butch and Christy and Berries and all Spud's family. He's home now, with Grana Bert. A life well-lived, a man well-loved.


Saturday, January 05, 2008


I have a new love in my life.
Benjamin Franklin.
Isn't he the one that discovered/harnessed electricity?
I also love the guys at Pacific Power and the utilities department of the city who worked all night long so I could finally get a shower and cook something without propane.
And I love my phone.
And the HEATER...oh the HEATER!!

Okay, you get it already. I know.
Whew, what a few days it's been. Lots of folks still without power or phone.
We lost the oldest tree in Washington here at Whitman campus. And a LOT of other trees. Lots of streets still closed.

And I'm way behind on everything that needs to happen for Monday.

But I'm warm now, so really, how bad can it be?

Besides, we got to play Dutch Blitz and Outburst and Apples to Apples by candlelight. And, for while anyway, that's even better than Rock Band. Especially with Q-baby, Donald, Drew, Will, Zach, Ali and a few others.

And we got to chase burglars away from the neighbor's house. Koda can sound REALLY scary.

Zach had a great game for WaHi tonight and the team remains undefeated.
And the Seahawks scored 14 points in 28 seconds and then, just for fun, scored another touchdown in the last minute of the game. Way cool.

So, yeah, all is well for the Lowell Street gang.

Love you all....

Patti...all my positive thoughts are with you, still. Hang in there. All is not lost if you can make yourself a cup of coffee without a camp stove! Many hugs.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Where did 2007 go??
It was a good year. I just wish it had lasted longer! I thought I might do a year-end review, make a list of the highlights, but gosh, I can't remember much of anything! Better stick to just December. There was a lot in December.

I gotta tell you though, nothing beats driving down the road with your kids and your nephew, the speakers blaring Bon Jovi.

We've gotta hold on to what we've got
It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not,
We've got each other and that's a lot
For love, We'll give it a shot

Whoa, we're halfway there
Whoa, livin' on a prayer
Take my hand and we'll make it, I swear
Livin' on a prayer.

Listening to them sing, I do believe it. We'll make it, I swear.

Christmas...we left Walla Walla with Zach driving, and six hours later, arrived in Kelso. He did great! And I think it's quite a feather in the "man"-cap to have driven all that way. The cousins were glad to see each other. We brought our kitten with us, and she was quite alarmed at THOSE dogs! Those boxers were not HER dogs. She spit and hissed and popped like water on a hot skillet. By the end of our time there, she had gotten used to them.

We missed Duke and Koda a LOT! Duke and Koda went to the kennel. Duke LOVES it there. The staff love Duke, too. They came running to greet him. They've known him since he was just a puppy. I think the first time we had to kennel him he was only about 12 weeks old. They have individualized play time for each dog and they also let them in to play with other dogs. Koda wasn't sure about it all at first and they said that Duke was pretty protective of her. For such a fierce looking dog, she's a real weenie. She HATES the car. Always throws up. Sigh.

We went to Salem to see my mom's mom and sibs. Zach drove that leg of the journey and back, too, in the pouring rain. It was fun to see family.

Christmas was good. This year, it really was. There were pockets of sadness, and we missed Dave as always, but the heaviness wasn't so pervasive. That sense of missing Dave, while there, was somehow lighter. It was like in years past, it had been a thick, heavy blanket over us, we couldn't see, couldn't breathe, were cut off from what was around us, cocooned in our grief. Now, it's like a veil, lighter, translucent, letting in the light. I can still draw it close around me. And sometimes it still makes it hard to breathe, hard to see clearly. But we aren't unreachable, untouchable.

We decorated cookies for Santa and the kids got too much stuff and we ate too much food. Luke got the Rock Band game for the 360 x-box. The kids played for 12 hours straight! It has a guitar, a drum set and a microphone and you create a band and learn to play the songs. If you goof too many times, you get booed off the stage. We had a lot of fun watching them play. Who knew the first line to Nirvana's "In Bloom" was "Sell the kids for food"? The things you learn. Denise and Darren both laughed, saying Dave would have LOVED that game. They talk about him a lot, which is wonderful for us.

Too soon it was time to go home. Then it was Dave's birthday. Zach woke up puking that morning, and Koda had been puking all the night before. We were all tired and out of sorts, so the day passed by without much fanfare. We missed Duke's birthday on December 3, too. I wonder what that says. Probably just that this family has a super disorganized mom with a lousy sense of time. I'm trying not to read a lot into it. I do feel bad that we haven't really established a tradition for Dave's birthday. The last two years we did have cake and watched Stripes, but Will was gone on vacation, and Zach was sick, so it just didn't seem right. I listened to Dave sing for a bit.

I forgot to tell you, I had the weirdest experience on the last day of school before break. I was at the high school, waiting to pick up the boys. I parked across the street from the portable where Dave's classroom was. And I had this clear vision of him, wearing a sweater, with shirt and tie under it, his khakis and penny loafers, worn out in a crooked way. He came jingling across the parking lot, and stuck his head in the window. "What are you doing here, Shell? I've got the boys. I always pick them up after school." It was so real. I could hear his voice. I could smell him as he leaned in the window. I could feel the stubble on his face when he kissed my cheek. It was like he was there for a minute. It was like it was supposed to be. And for one brief moment, I really, really believed that these past two years had been nothing but a bad dream, that I had finally, finally been transported back to my REAL life. It was wonderful. And awful.

We got together with Dave's family on the 29th to celebrate Christmas and Mindy's birthday. More presents, more food, more fun. No cake, just cupcakes. Mindy's still not ready to blow out candles on a real cake. She and Dave always did that together.

The 30th was Doug's birthday. I thought I'd blog. I was thinking about Dave and Doug and birthdays and getting old and those who didn't get to get old. But then the kids decided we needed to get Rock Band and have a Rock Band New Year's Eve party, and we had to go to the Tricities to get the ink tag off Zach's new coat and exchange Kate's sweater that was too small, so I ended up spending the day driving and shopping.

And yesterday, we cleaned house, prepared a ton of food, and had a bunch of kids over to play Rock Band. It was a fun, if loud, way to bring in the New Year.

Tomorrow is Kyle's birthday. He would have been 19. 19!

I'm not in a very philosophical real thoughts today, other than...EEEK! I have to get going on planning for my new classes!

My new job is essentially an expansion of my old one. I'll still be teaching in the ED department, just full-time now, which means I won't do the Child Care Resource & Referral piece any more. I'm adding a 5 credit Intro to Education class and 4 parenting classes. The parenting classes are exciting. We got a grant from DEL to do some parenting classes and family activities for the students we have that are on the Working Connections/WorkFirst programs. I'm excited about it, but am just beginning to realize what a truckload of work I've gotten myself into!

Here are some pictures of the last few weeks. Hugs to you all. Thank you for your enless support. Couldn't have made it through 2007 without you! I hope your 2008 is the best year ever.

Luke on Kenny, playing X-box.

Kate and Amy make cookies with great concentration.

Jake and Shell. Did I tell you I LOVE this kid?

Kenny & Kenny. I was born on my uncle Kenny's birthday and Kenny was named after him.

Zach, Darren & Jake sample Kate and Amy's work.

The whole gang decorated cookies.

Darren and Denise, Christmas morning, in need of coffee.

My three.

Our family.

Playing Rock Band.



Kate and Caleb...other side of the fam.

Spud and Kate. She's drawing very close to Spud, taking a lot of time to talk with him...about Dave, about heaven. Spud is living with Bob and Judy now. He's having a lot of problems with his health and pain, and Bob and Judy are tired. Pray for all of them.

Mindy & Michelle! SMILE!