Monday, June 30, 2008

Having a good time

After we recovered from our sleepless nights we felt much better. Ethan is also doing much better and is back to his happy self. I have lots and lots of pictures but I can't post them until I get home.

Here's the rundown of our trip so far:
  • On Saturday we went to the Fort Collins Brewery Festival. It was so much fun. They had 30 different Colorado breweries there and we got to taste all kinds of beer. It took place in their old town which was adorable. Ethan did great and slept in his stroller for a while.
  • Sunday we spent the day relaxing in the nice weather outside. My uncle Roger smoked some DELICOUS ribs for us and we all pigged out.
  • Today we went to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. We got to drive on the highest road in the nation (Trail Ridge Road) and enjoy the BEAUTIFUL scenery. We also saw some elk up close which was really cool. Now we're going to go out to Mongolian food.

We've been having a great time!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Safe and Sound

Fifteen hours of driving later and here we are in Fort Collins, Colorado. Ethan did pretty well. Although he woke up a few times he mostly slept during the night. By the time we got to Fort Collins at noon their time he was DONE being in his car seat. The antibiotics definitely kicked in because he seems to be feeling better. The drive through the Rocky Mountains this morning was gorgeous. We're tired but glad to be here safe and sound.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

and the doctor says....

I got in to see our doctor shortly after 1:00 (thank goodness it is only two blocks away). Ethan has a really bad sore throat, you could even feel how swollen it was just by touching his neck. I don't know why I didn't think of a sore throat, my first thought was ear infection. The Dr. prescribed amoxicillan so I just gave him his first dose. Hopefully he's feeling much better by tomorrow. My poor little pumpkin. Matt got home from work early and we're packing and getting ready to go. Hopefully our drive tonight goes well. I'm pretty pooped after 2 hours of sleep last night and not much the night before (I didn't sleep well Tuesday night either). I'm relieved to know what is wrong with Ethan and hoping he'll feel better soon. Thanks for your prayers :)

First Fever

Yesterday Ethan took two 2 hour naps. This was wonderful, but also out of the ordinary for him. After his second nap I noticed he felt hot so I took his temperature. It was 99.8, nothing too bad, so I figured maybe he was teething or something. We went to dinner at Danny and JOlene's and he was definitely not his normal happy self, I could tell he wasn't feeling well. He went to bed fine but woke up around 12:30 am. He was burning hot and clearly not feeling well. I gave him more Tylonol and he went back to sleep for a little bit. He woke up again at 2:00 and so I nursed him and he went back down for a little bit. Around 3:00 he woke up an just would not stop crying. I took his temperature and it was 101.2... high, but not horrible. The poor guy. I just couldn't console him and make him feel better. He just screamed and screamed. Matt got up to help me and we took off his jammies to try to cool him down. Matt just held him under the fan and tickled his back and he finally calmed down and then went back to sleep at 4:30. Matt and I went back to bed and tried to sleep for a little bit until Ethan woke back up at 7:00. Ethan is never inconsolable, so we knew he definitely wasn't feeling well.

I tried not to worry and panic, but you know... first time mom.... his first fever.... it's hard not to. I called our Dr. and got ahold of the Dr. that was on call at 4:30 am. He sounded like he was still asleep and really wasn't much help. I'm going to call our doctor again in a little bit as soon as the office is open. Ethan was up from 7:00-7:45 and then went back down and is still asleep (it's 9:00). He just wanted to be held and I could tell he still is not feeling well at all. To top it all off the neighbor is playing his drum set right now in his garage which is next to Ethan's room... lovely.

I know babies and kids get sick, and I knew this would come at some point (the first fever). I just feel so bad for him. The real bummer part is that we're supposed to leave tonight at 7:00 to drive to Colorado where we will be visiting family. So now we were already up all night and we're going to stay up all night again to drive. My brother is going with us so him and Matt can take turns driving. This definitely dampens things. I'm just hoping and praying that Ethan takes a turn for the better today, is able to sleep in his car seat while we drive tonight, and that by tomorrow he is well. I'm kind of anxious right now as I still need to pack, take Cookie over to Matt's brother's house and get other odds and ends together for our trip, and all the while take care of my sick baby. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jolene. My sister.

Jolene and I met at San Bernardino Community Church. I was 12 and she was 14. I started attending the church with my family when I was 11. I couldn't help but notice Jolene. She seemed so cool. She had a lot of friends, she was super nice, and she had a pool. At 12 years old, friends with pools immediately rose up to the top of my list.

I really wanted to get to know Jolene. I tried to figure out how to weasel my way into an invite to her house and hopefully get to know her better. The perfect opportunity arose when she hosted a swim party for the youth group. I must have just been starting middle school, so I was going to youthgroup. I went to the party and ended up getting to know Jolene a little better. We started hanging out more and more and we were soon good friends.

I really looked up to Jolene. She was everything I wanted to be. She was a couple of years older. That immediately made her way more cool. People were drawn to her. She was fun. She was thoughtful and kind. She was creative. Her family was also great.
A couple of years after becoming friends with Jolene she invited me to go on vacation with her family. This wasn't just any vacation. This was a two week trip to Canada to go sightseeing and camping in the Canadian Rockies. I had SO much fun. The Meyers treated me like I was a part of their family. Going on vacation with them helped me appreciate my own parents. Up until this point I had been a punk to my mom. I was a typical 13 year old with a bad attitude and thought I knew it all. Seeing Jolene interact so lovingly and graciously with her family made me realize what a punk I was to my own. I came back that year from vacation and turned a new leaf with my mom.

(aren't we just so totally cool? I had to scan old scrapbook pages to get these pictures, hence the quality and cheesiness of them)
Of course Jolene and I got into our share of typical teenage mischief. She got her license and that opened up a whole new world of freedom for us. We dated our fare share of boys. We had lots of sleepovers. We hung out all the time. We each only had a younger brother and so we became like sisters.

When Jolene turned 18 her parents moved to Montana. She was brave. She stayed here and got her own apartment and a full time job and totally supported herself at age 18. Of course this was hard on her, and terribly lonely, but she was one tough cookie. I still being in high school thought it was totally cool to have a friend who had her own apartment. The sleepovers continued and we still hung out all the time.
I started college and attended UCR. Jolene was working full time at this time and still supporting herself. I started attending Campus Crusade for Christ (where I met Matt on my very first day of college) and brought Jolene along as well. She enjoyed it, made friends, and even went back to school herself (to a different college), all the while working full time. She ended up rooming with some girls from Crusade and even met Mr. Danny Flores (her hubby now) at Crusade as well. It was so fun that we could have the same circle of friends even though we never went to the same school.

Now we are married and each have a baby. The best part is that our husbands are friends too, and so we still get to hang out all the time.

Jolene has been there for me through it all.... teenage drama, college drama, boyfriends, heartbreaks, my dad dying, getting married, having babies and every other little event in between. She's seen me at my worst many times, and she loves me all the same.

I admire Jolene and her ability to balance working full time, and being a mom and a pastor's wife. She still manages to keep her house gorgeous, cook wonderful meals and keeps a full social calendar. She is creative, poetic, introspective, a gracious host, a faithful friend, a sweet daughter, a loving wife, a tender mother and a natural encourager.

Here's to 15 years of friendship Jolene. I pray we have many, many more. I love you!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A date and a visit with Kelly & Jolene

Whew, my fifth and final post today. Friday night Matt and I went out on a real date.... by ourselves! It was wonderful :) We put Ethan to bed at 7:00 and my brother came over and babysat. We went out to a nice little restaurant called The Farm in Redlands. It was really good, and good for us to be out alone. We enjoyed a leisure 2 hour dinner and some good conversation. I love spending time with my hubby :) We decided we have to do that at least once a month.

This morning I went over to Jolene's because Kelly came up with her girls. It was my first time meeting them. We had such a nice time hanging out, and the babies were all pretty good. It's been far too long since we've all hung out together!

Ethan: 7 months, Ava and Julia: 4 months, Christian: 9 months. A girl for each boy, haha. Christian looks a little scared. Don't worry buddy, they won't hurt you... and all too soon you'll be chasing them around!
It was pretty difficult to get the boys to stay still on the couch to get a picture
The boys were fascinated with the bouncy seat in which they no longer fit.
They are showing her how everything works.
Kelly and her sweet girls
Jolene and Christian having fun on his horsey
The three littlest ones in their car seats. Ethan looks like a giant next to the girls. He is just about grown out of his, his legs hang way over, but I've procrastinated in putting him in the big boy car seat because the infant carrier is so convenient!
Hope you're all staying cool in this sweltering heat! I thought my flip flops melted to the ground once. I'm off to go drink a mojito with Matt, enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Dinner with the Flores Fam

I think I have quite a few posts with this title since we have dinner nearly every week :) We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends! The boys did so well this week, especially considering we kept them up until 9:00! They were tired babies by the end of the night.

I'd say this little guy is close to walking. My guess is one more month and he's running everywhere.
Someone likes to get in other people's faces and try to lick them (don't worry, I'm not talking about Jolene).
No, Cookie is not biting Christian, I promise, they are just playing.

Random pictures from the week

We gave Ethan a biter biscuit the other night during dinner to keep him occupied. It did keep him occupied and also made a huge mess. He had fun gnawing on it. He went straight in the bath afterwards. Those things are like chew bones for babies.
Holding both of my babies
Ethan managed to flip himself around in the bath the other night and was pretty amused by it. It was funny so we took a couple of pictures.

Alright, I just couldn't resist posting this because his little buns are so cute.

One of his new favorite ways to sleep, it cracks me up. Ahhh, so peaceful when he's asleep :)

6 month pictures by Faithy

About a month ago Faithy came over and did a photoshoot with us for Ethan's 6 month pictures. Of course no matter what we did, we could hardly get him to smile. He just had this kind of dumb amused look on his face. In spite of the heat and silly Ethan she still managed to get a few good shots.

I love his eyes in this picture, I think this one is my favorite.

This silly look was as close as a smile we could get with the three of us.

Eggstra Special Easter

A page I did for Ethan's book. I'm kind of proud of the egg because I made it with beads.

I have lots to update since I haven't blogged in several days. I'm finishing my homework right now and then I have like a gazillion things to post.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Dad

***Warning, this is a LONG post.

Six years ago today our lives took a sharp turn and changed very suddenly. I was 20 years old. It was three and a half weeks before our wedding, and Matt and I were out doing some shopping, picking up odds and ends for our new apartment. It was a pretty normal day. We had dinner at Matt’s parents’ house and then later that night Matt took me home (I still lived with my parents). We got to my house at about 10:00 pm and started unloading stuff into the garage and then came back inside at 10:30. My mom was pacing around upstairs and before I had the chance to talk to her the phone rang. It was the phone call that you never ever want to get. My mom answered.

Someone from Loma Linda Hospital was calling to tell us that my dad was at the hospital and we needed to come right away. Since I hadn’t yet talked to my mom, I didn’t know that my dad had never come home from work, which was why she was pacing the hall nervously when I walked inside. My mom asked the man on the phone what was wrong with my dad, but the man on the phone said he couldn’t give any details, and told her to come to the ER.

Me, my mom and my brother hopped into Matt’s car and he drove us to the hospital. You can imagine that car ride. We were nerve wracked, wondering what could be wrong with my dad and praying it wasn’t the worst.

We went into the ER and nervously gave our names and told them we had been summoned. An orderly shuffled us into a room and sat us down. A doctor came in and sat down. I knew from the look on his face that we were about to receive some very bad news. I was still praying it wasn’t what I feared most, that my dad had just been in an accident or something and that everything was going to be okay.

The doctor started talking and I couldn’t believe what he was saying. At 7:30 that evening my dad had been at the gym and collapsed very suddenly while lifting weights. The paramedics arrived only minutes after he collapsed, but it was already too late, he was gone and they couldn’t resuscitate him. They took him to the hospital and a doctor officially pronounced him dead. They weren't sure why he died, they thought it was either a heart attack or a brain aneurysm.

Because my dad had been working out he didn’t have any identification on him. It was all in his locker. It took the gym a couple of hours to figure out which locker was his. They had everyone empty their lockers, then they had to break open the locks of the remaining ones until they found his, which is why they didn’t contact us until 10:30 that night.

We were in the ER… a busy place. People were hustling and bustling around, but for us the world just stopped. We were numb. We were in shock. Our world had just been torn apart. They asked if we wanted to see him, and we said yes. Trembling, we walked into a back room and he was laying on a table. I’ll spare you the details, but he looked horrible and I couldn’t handle it, so I immediately ran from the room. My mom and my brother stayed inside and said goodbye to him.

This picture was taken the day before he passed, at Matt's graduation. It was also Father's Day, and it was the last day we spent together.

As I write this I am flooded with the emotions from that night, but I feel like it’s good to think about it sometimes and reflect. I like to keep my feelings and emotions under control and I hate feeling sad, so I don’t often allow myself to think about sad things. I tend to shove them into the back of my mind.

Anyhow, back at the hospital, we didn’t know what to do. Our lives had suddenly been turned upside down and it was the middle of the night. Do we call someone? Just go back home? None of us really felt like we could drive, and we didn’t want to leave because we knew we couldn’t take him with us.

My mom called my dad’s parents (who live in Colorado) from the hospital and told them. Matt called his parents and they immediately came down to be with us. I called Jolene and told her. We didn’t really know what else to do, we were in total shock. It took a little while to get our bearings and wrap our minds around the situation. How could my dad be gone? He was healthy, he was young (only 46), he worked out, he ate healthy, how on earth could he be gone? What about my wedding in four weeks? What about the cruise my parents were booked to go on for their 25th anniversary?

I don’t really remember how much time passed. We eventually got back into Matt’s car and drove back to my mom’s house. It was the middle of the night by this time and we didn’t know what to do. I remember taking a shower when we got home, wishing I could just wash away the pain and the reality of the situation. The four of us crawled into my mom’s bed and cried and slept a little. The hospital kept calling every hour to ask my mom if she wanted to donate my dad’s organs. She was in shock and felt like she couldn’t decide so soon, but they had to know, so they kept calling. Eventually she said yes, and they were actually able to use quite a few things.

Finally morning came. We started calling other family and friends. I remember one of the first people to come over was Dan Harker. He had been driving home from work and Christy told him about my dad, so he came over to be with us. Other people came. My dad’s parents hopped on a plane in Colorado and arrived later that afternoon. The rest of the day was a blur. I just remember people coming over to offer us support and sympathy. People brought food, groceries, cleaned our house, and helped us out. They came and cried with us, prayed with us, and laughed and remembered my dad with us. We were surrounded by loving support and a multitude of prayers. Truly we only made it through that time with God’s grace.

We did get the chance to say goodbye one last time at the funeral home, and my dad looked much better than he had at the hospital. In fact he looked very peaceful, and it seemed as if he could just open his eyes at any moment. I had written my parents a letter that I was having put into our wedding program. I hadn't wanted them to read it beforehand, so my dad didn't get the chance to read it. I read it to him and left it in his hands.

The thing that comforted me most was knowing that my dad, a faithful servant of Christ, was finally at home with the Lord. He didn’t suffer, he didn’t get sick, he just got to go home. The day before he died had been Father’s Day. Matt graduated from college, and we spent the rest of the day together as a family. We had that wonderful gift of a day together which I will always remember. We knew he loved us, and he knew we loved him.

I was so very sad that the Lord had to take him only four weeks before my wedding, but who am I to question His timing? My initial thought was to post pone it, but then I realized that he wouldn’t have wanted that. I am grateful that Matt got to know him for 2 ½ years, and that my dad knew that I was marrying a wonderful man.

We wanted the memorial service to be a happy remembrance of my dad and his life, and it was. Bruce officiated it, and did a great job. We sang praise songs and talked about what a wonderful man he was. My brother and I both spoke about my dad.

Three weeks after his service I got married. My wedding day turned out better than I could have ever imagined. It was truly joyful despite our tremendous loss. We had countless prayers that carried us through that day. My brother walked me down the isle and we lit a candle in remembrance of our dad.

Up until this point I hadn’t really experienced any loss. All of my grandparents were still alive, and no one close to me had ever died. I had always felt awkward and unsure of what to do when someone I knew went through loss. I guess what I learned from this is that you really can’t do anything to take away the pain; all you can do is be there for that person. It felt so good to know that so many people cared and were praying for us. We weren't alone with our pain. People came and cried with us, and remembered my dad with us, they brought food so we wouldn’t have to think about cooking. Those things helped.

I am so proud of my mom and the way she handled it all. She lost the love of her life, her high school sweetheart and husband of 25 years. She was, and still is, so strong. She did what she needed to do to heal. She had to navigate through a lot of unknown territory and take care of all kinds of unfamiliar things. She is an amazing woman and I admire her.

I am proud of my brother as well. He was only a junior in high school when my dad died and he took it really hard. He lost a dad, a role model and a best friend. He managed to continue on and still do well and graduate high school, and then college and is now in grad school and has a full time job as an assistant city planner. He’s become an adult and grows more and more responsible each day.

When my dad left this earth, he left as he came….with nothing. All of his material possessions were left behind. This really caused me to assess my priorities. Even now, when I find myself being too materialistic I remember having to clean out all of my dad’s stuff, and I am reminded that none of this earthy stuff matters. The only thing that matters in the end is what you did to enhance the Kingdom of God, and how you served the Lord. My dad was such a wonderful example of that. He gave selflessly. We didn’t even realize how much he gave away until my mom had to go through all of the finances after he died. He was a Godly husband and father. He taught by example.

One of my favorite memories is what he gave me for Easter one year. He gave me a card and inside wrote about how God had given the ultimate sacrifice by sending his son to earth to die for our sins. He wanted me to remember that and so as his gift to me he forgave a monetary debt I owed him. For some reason that really touched me.

I cannot think of a time where I did not see my dad reading his Bible in the mornings. He led family devotions and he was a faithful prayer warier. He served his family and others before himself. He had a fun sense of humor and loved to laugh. He was an amazing man.

While I was only 20 when my dad died, I am grateful that I got to have those 20 years with him. I got to have him all through my childhood and teen years. I miss him. I wish that he could meet my son and still be a part of our lives. I wish that he could garden with me and see our yard (he loved to garden). I wish that he could see the woman that I’ve become. I wish he could still tease me and get me all riled up. I wish that I could talk to him. Six years have passed and we have definitely healed, but we’ll always miss him.

Cherish your loved ones. Enjoy each precious moment you get to spend with them. Never leave each other angry, because you never know if it’s the last time you’ll see someone. Always tell your loved ones that you love them. I know those things sound so cliche, but they are so true.

Hopefully you aren’t depressed after reading this. I know it was a bit jumbled. I just felt a need to write about it and share for some reason (it's free therapy). I’ve been thinking about my dad and all of this a lot this year, more than in previous ones. I guess it’s a part of the heeling process.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite pictures of my dad. He was not fond of cats and loved to tease my cat Roland. This picture makes me laugh and reminds me of how silly and fun he could be.