Friday, December 31, 2010

Good-bye 2010

 I've had a couple conversations about my "6 months ago" post with some family members and as I've thought more about all the hard things that have happened this past year, I think I would feel ungrateful if I didn't talk about the good things that happened this year, too.  There have been so many blessings.  And so to end 2010, I want to write My Top 10 Blessings from this year.  So here we go...

10.  In January, after being uninsured for only 2 1/2 weeks, we found out Jake and I qualified for an individual health insurance family plan and the kids qualified for CHIP.  Both insurances have been huge blessings to us this year.

9.  Along the lines of 'health' the kids remained very healthy.  We had a few ear infections at the beginning of the year and a cold here and there, but they really didn't have anything major.

8.  The only car repair we had to do in 2010 were Jake's brakes.  No major house repair.  (Hopefully that luck continues.  Knock on wood!)

7.  Jake and I have both been able to work at jobs that we enjoy.

6.  I've managed to continue to stay active and exercise regularly, which you could say I'm fairly passionate about. ;)

5.  My cancer.  It sucked, I'm not going to lie.  But the fact it was caught when it was, it was operable, and my recovery was pretty quick.  All blessings.

4.  When we found out about the tumor, we had family, friends, and even strangers come out of the woodwork to help our family.  We had many thoughts, prayers, meals, letters, e-mails, money, babysitting, phone calls, and so much more sent our way and it was very humbling.  Many from our neighborhood put together a yard sale over the summer and the proceeds went to my hospital bills.  Those bills could have pulled us under financially, but thankfully, that extra money kept us floating.  And again we were humbled by loved ones who showered us with too many presents and food for Christmas. We felt VERY spoiled.  There are good people in this world, and it seems many of them live within a 5 mile radius of us!

3.  I have my girlfriends.  SO important.  They keep me laughing.  They keep me sane.  We are all there for each other and ready to drop everything when help is needed.  It's pretty rare to have such good friends and I know I'm lucky to have them in my life.

2.  We have a beautiful home, great neighborhood, wonderful friends, cars that work, clothes to wear, and food to eat.  It's humbling to think that there are people out there who don't have these basic necessities.

1.  We have each other.  As I look at this picture of our family in front of the Portland temple taken this morning, I'm reminded of where our family began, and of what our future could be.  This year has had its ups and downs.  We've struggled quite a bit.  But I've been reminded that in the end, what matters most is family.  My Family.  And the fact that we survived 2010 and came out nearly unscathed and stronger because of it, lets me know that we can handle hard things.  

Here are some pictures from the past two months that I'm just now getting around to posting:
My best friend, Naomi, came out to visit a month after my surgery, and then again in November.  I loved having two girls' weekends with her.  Her visits were never long enough!
 Waiting in line at Toys R Us on Black Friday with my BF virgin friends, Meighan and Kim.  It was so fun having friends to wait in line with and run through the stores together (and yes, it was FREEZING!  Can you tell?!)
In November Jake and I went out to DC for a few days.  We had a great time visiting all the museums and meeting up with other OA-takers for pizza.  Just wish we could have spent a few more days there.  Too much to do and see.
 Ben turned 8 in December and on his birthday he tested to become a high white belt in taekwondo.  (We won't know if he passed yet, until his classes start back up in a few weeks.)
 For Family Night we decorated the gingerbread houses Great-Grammy Call gave us.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that the gingerbread houses now come completely built, walls, roof, and all.  The kids just needed to decorate them, which they had a great time doing.
 The kids sporting their new pjs on Christmas Eve.  Ben is wearing, yep, you guessed it.  Mario pjs.  Emma's wearing Rapunzel jammies, and Josh is very happily sporting his new Mickey Mouse and Pluto pjs.
 The day after Christmas we headed to Oregon to visit Grandma and Grandpa Call, Aunt Whitney, Aunt Ashleigh, Uncle Chad, and cousins Jayden, Ryleigh, and Baleigh.  We stopped in Ontario, Oregon for the night and stayed at a motel.  The kids loved walking through the motel and checking out the ice machine and breakfast bar.  They all got to share a queen bed and it fit them perfectly.
 Jayden, Ryleigh, Josh, Ben, Baleigh, and Emma.  Emma is in heaven with all the estrogen surrounding her.  Ben, on the other hand, is pretty bored without some boy cousins around.  Thankfully Grandpa Call has kept him pretty entertained.
I took this picture for Jake's family.  Jake told them about my family's little Christmas tradition and I don't think some of them believed him.  It is true.  After Christmas my dad chops the tree down in the living room, limb by limb, until the only thing left is a Christmas stump.  Then my mom vacuums up the pine needles.  My parents usually would do it Christmas day, but they held on a few days so we could see the tree.  So, here is the proof, and Jake even took part in the "tradition" this time.
 We visited Jane and Leila (Justin's daughter) at the Vancouver Library.  She definitely blends in with my kids, the blonde hair and blue eyes.  She's a sweetie and the kids loved hanging out for awhile with her.
 The Call girls.  Don't ask me how many pictures we took before we kept this one.  You don't want to know. We didn't learn until a good 6 or 7 shots in that Ashleigh's shirt was see-through, so we made her put a jacket on.  You can definitely tell there is a resemblance between us all.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Spirit of Giving

 I have to say, Jake and I have been pretty humbled this past week.  Last Thursday night I got a phone call from my best friend, Naomi, saying a package was coming for us.  The next day FedEx dropped off a pretty big box and Josh exclaimed "It's SANTA!"  We opened the box and inside were presents wrapped in pretty paper, one for each of the kids and a big one for Jake and I.  The one for Jake and I said "Open now" so we did... and we couldn't believe what was inside.  Let's just say, we are VERY spoiled.  Naomi and Jeremy were so sweet to think of us.  Then yesterday we left to go get a part to fix our windshield wiper fluid squirter on the van and when we got back, there was a box of presents there waiting for us on our porch, each addressed "from Santa."  The kids were SO excited!  After we put the kids to bed, the doorbell rang.  Jake and I were downstairs watching tv together and he ran up to answer the door.  When he opened it he found a pile of MORE presents, and no one in sight.  Jake and I were stunned.  Such sweet and giving people in our lives.  This is seriously the most presents we have ever had!  It's too much!!  We have no clue who brought all the gifts and are amazed by the generosity and love shown to our family. 

Yesterday afternoon we had a sweet man and his wife drop off nearly a whole MONTH'S worth of food!  It was crazy!  He contacted the leader of our ward and asked him for some names of families in the area who might need a little extra food for the holidays and our leader gave him our name, among a few others.  This generous man dropped off a ham, eggs, milk, pies, orange juice, rolls, pancake mix, oranges, butter, whipping cream, fudge, potatoes, crackers, oats, sugar, flour, maple syrup, frozen vegetables, hot chocolate packets, brownie mix, yams, and cranberry sauce.  We protested, but in the end Bro. Oaks won out.  So now our fridge is stocked and our pantry is full.  What a sweet blessing. 
I just have to say we are so humbled by all this love and support we have been shown this year.  I know my last post had a rather negative over-tone.  I hope you all realize we ARE grateful for all we have in our lives, and we ARE very aware of the blessings we have.  I know without family and friends, we would not have come out on top this past year.  I don't know how we would have survived this summer without the help of family, friends, and pure strangers.  And now we see, again, the hand of charity and love.  It's so humbling to be on the receiving end of all this and I hope, one day, I'll be able to give back tenfold.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

The Schipaanboord's

Thursday, December 23, 2010

6 Months Ago...

This was me.  Exactly 6 months ago I was in the hospital, having a tumor removed from my lung.  Crazy to think about.  Emma in the van today randomly asked "Mom, remember when you were in the hospital?  Yeah, Grandma Call put sparkly nail polish on me and we played with toys when we were in your room."  I'm glad those are the things she remembers, and not that mom was heavily drugged and in a lot of pain.  Don't you wish we could all be kid-like, where our only worries are what we are going to wear that day, or whether to have peanut butter and jelly or mac & cheese for lunch?  Life seems so simple in the eyes of a child.

I've been thinking a lot about the past year, and to be honest, I'm ready to kiss 2010 goodbye.  Crazy to think about all we've experienced in one short year.  We started off 2010 with no health insurance.  That was scary (especially with my undiscovered tumor!)  So thankful we didn't find out about the cancer until after we were approved for an individual health plan.  In April I developed a stress fracture and so couldn't continue training for a marathon (my big goal for 2010.)  I struggled with a cough and breathing problems for months, and then in June found out about the tumor.  Spent the summer recovering from surgery and slowly started exercising again.  I missed my favorite race in August, which was very hard on me mentally.  Running is still hard for me, even 6 months after surgery.  It seems my lungs have adapted ok to my exercise classes, but when I try running, my lungs have a hard time.  Doesn't seem fair that the thing I love so much, which used to come pretty easily, is now so difficult.  (I know what you're all thinking... at least I'm alive.  Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful for my outcome.  Just wish sometimes that my lung tissue would magically grow back, that's all.  I know, just be grateful for the non-cancerous tissue I have.)  Besides all this, the Foreign Service is not happening, and we are actively looking for another job with no luck yet.  Money is tight.  I'm working two jobs.  Our lives seem chaotic.  And so I am hopeful for 2011.  I am hopeful that life will get better.  I am hopeful that the CT scans will come back clear.  I am hopeful I will get to run a race, even if I don't PR.  I am hopeful that Jake will find another job.  I am hopeful that when I turn 30 in June my saggy skin and bags under my eyes will disappear... a girl can dream, right?! ;)  And so, I say good-bye to you, 2010.  Wish I could say I would miss you, but I don't think I will.  Bring on 2011.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shoulda' Put a Ring on It

Oh wait... He did.  10 years ago today, in fact.  It was a rainy December day.  We went to the Evergreen Theater in Tanasbourne and saw "What Women Want" (you know the one, with Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt... love that movie!)  Then Jake drove me out to Seaside, where we played games at the arcade and then walked along the beach.  It seemed we were the only ones out there (probably because we were!)  It was rainy and windy, and no sane person wanted to be outside in that weather.  We didn't care, though.  We were in love.  We chased each other on the sand, wearing our blue hoodies.  Then Jake wrapped his arms around me and we stared out into the ocean.  (Little did I know, he was fumbling around in his back pocket for a box.  A very special little box.)  As Jake presented it to me, and flipped the box open to expose "the rock", it fell onto the sand.  Oh CRAP.  He quickly retrieved it, blew the dirt off of it, then asked me to be his woman forever.
Hard to believe that was 10 years ago.  We were babies.  We've changed and grown a lot this past decade. So much has happened, it's crazy to even think about it all.  Law school.  Babies.  House.  Jobs.  Cancer.  Life has been good.  Life has been hard.  Life has been happy.  Life has been sad.  I guess that's what life is all about.  Funny to think that a 19 year old girl and a 21 year old boy thought they had it all figured out, way back then.  They had love and I guess to them, that's all that mattered.  Somedays I wish that 19 year old was still around, to remind this nearly-30 year old of that.  It's so easy to forget when life gets in the way.  So for today, I remember.

Love you, babe.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Watch out world... here come Mario & Luigi!

This morning was Ben's birthday party.  He originally wanted a sledding party.  I thought that was great because it would be easy, simple, and fun.  Ben helped me make the invitations and we planned to pass them out at church on Sunday.  Well, the snow melted.  I mean ALL of it.  The weatherman said we were supposed to get snow this Wednesday but you all know me (a little Type A, OCD, planner of all things), I did not feel comfortable relying on some weatherman telling me there was a "chance" of snow one day this week, and then planning a party based around that probability.  Who knows if it would have been enough to stick, or if it would all melt again, or whatever.  So, we bagged the idea and Ben chose to have a Super Mario party instead.  (And we DID get snow on Wednesday, and it DID stick, however, it was raining this morning and the snow is heavy and wet... not great sledding snow, so it's a good thing we went with choice #2.)
 When the kids got here they were transformed into Marios and Luigis.  (I searched high and low for cheap Mario and Luigi hats.  Authentic-looking ones were $9.99 on Amazon.  No way I would pay $120 for hats.  Then I looked at buying red and green baseball caps but even those were $4 or $5 a hat, still more than my budget.  Finally I found THIS pattern.  So easy.  I almost didn't want to post the link because then you would see exactly how easy it really was.  But, it's better to pass the love on so all you with Mario-addicts can do it, too.  These hats were only about $1.25/each to make.  The kids loved their fleece hats and each got to take it home, along with the fake mustache, and THIS Mario loot box filled with gold candy and coins.)
 The kids played "Pin-the-egg-on-Yoshi", trying to get their egg closest to the outlined egg (yes, coming out his bum... a running dinosaur who lays white and green eggs.  Who thinks this stuff up?!)
 Josh getting pretty dang close to winning.  He came in second, and cousin Kaden came in first.  After the game, the kids went upstairs and found a note saying Princess Peach had been captured by Bowser and Mario and Luigi had to go save her.  (Jake wrote the clues, which were quite funny, and the final clue led them to Peach, and to their loot boxes with gold chocolate and gold coins.)
 Ethan, our third batter, broke the pinata.  He had quite the swing!
Ben's birthday cake I threw together this morning before the party.  I almost attempted to draw the Mario out of frosting.  I drew the Yoshi by hand for the "Pin-the-egg" game, and figured it wouldn't be that hard.  Then more I thought about it, the more I realized it probably wouldn't be a good idea.  You can't erase very easily when it comes to cake decorating, so I bagged that and just printed off Mario from the internet on cardstock.  The kids kept saying they wanted to eat his head... probably not a very good idea, unless they have a thing for paper. ;)
 We sang Happy Birthday and Ben blew out his candles.  His cousins, Kaden and Kimball,  (to the left and right of Ben) spent the night and Ben was happy he could spend the whole day with them.
 Eating plenty of chocolate Mario cake and vanilla ice cream.
 Our 8 year old Mario-addict!  Hard to believe he's getting so big.  We love you, Ben!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

One year older and wiser, too

  Hard to believe my little guy isn't so little anymore.  Ben turns EIGHT today.  Did I really just say that? Where is that 10 lb. "little" bundle I held in the hospital?  The one who loved to be held, never wanted to be put down, and downed a bottle with lightning speed?  Eight is a big number to turn.  In our LDS faith, it's the age you get baptized.  Ben will be baptized on January 8th, and is really looking forward to his big day.  This morning Ben woke up to one of his favorite breakfast foods... cinnamon rolls.  Then he opened his presents (an awesome game from uncle Justin and aunt Collette, two king size Kit Kats from aunt Whitney, his favorite candy bar, and a new Mario sheet and quilt set and Nerf dart tag from dad, mom, Emma, and Josh.)  I'm bringing him a Happy Meal for lunch at school (his choice), and tonight he will be testing in taekwondo from 6-9pm, hoping to advance to a high white belt.  Ben loves games, and is very good at them.  Clue, Pick Picknic, Mouse Trap, word games, and any Mario game are his favorites at the moment.  He loves to eat fettuccine alfredo and pizza, and he likes cookie dough ice cream.  Ben is such a sweetheart, always helping his younger siblings and helping me when I ask.  We are so happy he's in our family and love him so much.  Happy Birthday, Ben!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Provo, Utah Girls

So, my sister Whitney is the Divine Comedy President down at BYU (LDS college down in Provo, Utah.) She's also a student there, graduating this spring.  Her comedy group comes up with all their material, writes funny parodies, records videos, etc. basically poking fun at themselves (BYU, LDS culture).  Well, it seems their latest video "Provo, Utah Girls" is getting some hype.  It's been HERE, HERE, HERE, oh... and HERE.  Yes, some people are upset about it, but you know it only upsets them because maybe it hits a little too close to home. ;)  If you can't laugh at yourself, you must live a pretty sad life.  Whit's best friend, Mal, wrote the sketch and they all sang the song.  Super talented women.  Love ya, girls. (click on the video to go straight to Youtube and you will get the full screen)

Here are some more videos Divine Comedy (DC) has written over the past few years:

Thursday, December 9, 2010