Friday, October 26, 2007

Gracie, Gracie, Gracie

At the age of 6 months, Grace and Jake came to live with us. I had no idea the impact she would have on my life. As we grow older, we realize how truly important family is. Grace was abandoned by her biological mother at 6 months - luckily though, Grace had so many family members that loved her as you would love your own child. I'll never forget Jacki telling me once, "Mom, I love Grace so much that I'm afraid I won't love my own baby as much as I love her." Well, needless to say, Jacki had enough love to go around!
Grace was (and is) intelligent beyond her years. She's full of questions and even has a lot of answers! She's polite, funny, and a true joy.

I used to take Grace to a small home daycare here in Hidden Springs. When she began to talk, she realized that all the kids had moms who came and picked them up every day. One day, when I went to get her, she came running up to me and held out her arms and yelled "Mommy!" I was stunned. This was something I had to really think hard about. I wasn't sure how Jake would react and I wondered if it would be harmful to Grace to allow her to call me that. After thinking about it for some time and getting advice from a friend who is a child psychologist, I decided it would be best to go along with whatever Grace wanted to call me if it made her feel more "normal". So, until Jake and Heather got married, I was mommy. I've had SO many people ask me "Doesn't it bother you that Grace has a new mommy?" Nope, I couldn't be happier. She now has her real mommy and I get to go back to being Grama!

Gracie - you are my sunshine - and my little sidekick!

It Was Destiny!

About 2 years ago, I heard about a lady Jake was fond of. Her name was Heather. However, I didn't get to meet her as Jake was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan. He left, having broken up with her because he didn't think it was fair to ask her to wait for him while he was gone. While he was in Arizona for his pre-deployment training, he blogged about this wonderful woman and how sad he was that he was about to delete her name from his cell phone. Little did he know, that Heather was about to call him.

As it turned out, on his leave home before going to Afghanistan, he and Heather got back together. Heather hadn't met Grace yet but took the time to spend every minute she could with her before Jake left.

You all know how important Grace has been in our lives. We had basically raised her since she was 6 months old and we loved her more than we had ever thought possible. I had already thought about what it would be like when Jake finally met someone he loved enough to get married and Grace wouldn't be in our home anymore. In my mind, I knew that I couldn't let her go if the new mommy in her life didn't love her as much as our family did.

Then came Heather. She didn't jump right into Grace's life. She was wise beyond her years and let Grace get to know her at her own pace - something I'm not sure I could have done! But, it wasn't but a few weeks before Grace fell head over heels in love with Heather.

Although she had her own life and could have enjoyed time with her friends and family while Jake was gone, she chose to spend every extra minute with Grace. Grace would stand at the front window every night waiting. When she'd see Heather's car pull up she'd scream "Hedder! Hedder's here!" None of us could believe how incredibly lucky we were! Not only had Jake found a bright, funny, beautiful, loving partner - but Grace had found the mommy she so desperately needed in her life.

Jake came home from Afghanistan on leave in December, 2006 and he married the wife of his (and our!) dreams and Grace got the mommy she so deserved. Heather, we ALL love you! Thank you for taking such good care of my son and loving him the way I always hoped he'd be loved. And especially, for being the mommy I always hoped Grace would have - I couldn't have let her go to anyone else...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Our Newest Addition...

He's finally here! Welcome baby Kole! He was born October 13th at 12:31 in the afternoon and weighs 5 lbs. 6 ozs. He's having a few breathing problems so he had to go into the NICU, but he should only be there a few days and then be able to go home!
We love him!
Jacki is doing remarkably well and Tim's a very proud daddy!


A couple of weeks ago, we had the LOUDEST thunderstorm roll through Hidden Springs. You could tell the lightning strikes were close. As it turns out, a woman and her two sons and mother were walking along a road just across from us when the woman was struck by one of the lightning bolts. Her mother had to do CPR on her until the ambulance arrived - she was clinically dead. She's now doing better and expected to recover.
This is the resulting rainbow from that storm.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

How Did We Get So Lucky?

Our oldest son Jake - where do I start?

Well, how 'bout when he was little. He was the cutest little boy! Beautiful blond, curly hair with huge blue eyes and eyelashes any girl would love to have. He was such a good child. He never knew a stranger. After my grandmother died, we bought her 100+ year-old house and we lived there for about 5 years. When we first moved in, there was a little neighbor boy, just Jake's age. For about the first month we lived there, Jake would stand outside waiting for this little boy to come out of his house. Then he'd yell over the fence "Hey kid! Wanna play?" Finally, after the first month, he quit calling him "kid".

Jake never did anything wrong when he was little. In fact, he only got a spanking (it was a little swat) once. Ival asked him to do something and Jake was standing on the stairs getting ready to go up. Jake told Ival "You're really pissing me out!" and between laughter, Ival swatted him on the butt and told him not to talk like that.

Jake was a good teenager too. Ok, as far as I know he was. He had several really close friends and their wild nights out would involve going to Sheri's Restaurant to drink coffee - and if they were feeling really rowdy, they'd stop by McDonald's and steal sugar packets.

Jake however, was really bored with school. He got terrible grades in high school and I began to wonder if he was a little "slow". He did graduate, however and went on to college. Again, terrible grades. Then Jake decided that this school stuff just wasn't working out and came home one day to tell me he was joining the Army. Sounded good to me. However, I had NO idea that I was about to become a blubbering idiot! I realized I was fine with Jake joining the military until it came time to actually send him off to boot camp. I cried the entire week before he left and for another week after he left. The thought of someone yelling at such a gentle soul just killed me! Luckily for me though, Jake was a lot tougher than I thought he was. He made it fine through boot camp and was bright enough that they were sending him on to Monterey, Ca to the Defense Language school to learn Korean. But first, they had to do a background check for his clearance and believe it or not, they asked him if he was a Mormon. WHAT? My good child was so squeaky clean that they figured he had to be either Mormon or from another planet because other than a few traffic tickets, the Army couldn't find ANYTHING bad in his background.

Yep, my child was so bright that he was going to become a Linguist with a Top Secret clearance. We couldn't have been prouder.

But, Jake had a bad knee. He did EVERYTHING he could think of to stay in the Army, after all, they had spent thousands of dollars and several years of time, training him as a Linguist. He had finally found his calling. But, it wasn't to be. After all that time the Army discharged him due to his bad knee - but Jake had unfinished business. Almost as soon as his plane landed back in Boise, he enlisted with the Army National Guard where he remains today.

In fact, Jake just got back from Afghanistan. He came home on leave last December and his niece Allie made this sign to greet him at the airport. While he was home on leave, Jake married the woman that I consider God made special for him. Her name is Heather and I'm not going to say much about her now, 'cause she's my next subject! But we all love her. (Grace is coming up on my blog once I get to the grand kids - isn't she adorable!) This picture was taken by a reporter with the Associated Press when Jake came home from Afghanistan for good in February. Are they a cute family or what?????
Jake loves Captain America and I made him a t-shirt with this picture on it.
Jake, my dear, sweet son - you are an inspiration and my hero. I can't wait to see what you do next!

Monday, October 1, 2007

If I Can't Kill Somethin' When I Get There, Then I'm Not Goin'...

Ival and I met when he was 16 and I was 18. He was my sister Linda's best friend. Here's a very short version of how we ended up married: we started dating almost the day we met. We were engaged about 8 months later (he was 17!). Things didn't work out - imagine that! So, I got married to someone else and he committed suicide (not Ival - my first husband). Then we started dating again. We broke up, I got married to someone else and so did he and later divorced. As soon as we were divorced, we started dating. We broke up. I got married to someone else and later divorced. We started dating again. This time we got married and have now been married for 21 years.

We were meant to be together. By the time we finally married, we knew eachother so well that there were no surprises. We both knew what we were getting and to be real honest, I don't think anyone else would have either one of us! But we fit together like puzzle pieces.

You've heard of "Me Tarzan, you Jane." Well, that's not us. I'm Olive Oyl and Ival, well he's Elmer Fudd. The only vacation we've ever gone on where he couldn't kill something once we got there was when we took the kids to Disneyland and Sea World when they were young. I had a really hard time finding a picture of him without something dead in the picture too.
But Ival loves me and the kids unconditionally. He's the proudest father and grandpa I've ever seen. Family means everything to him. I couldn't have asked for anyone better to take care of me when I was going through cancer treatments. He basically treats me like a queen. But, he is Elmer Fudd. When we first moved to Hidden Springs, Ival was out in the yard one day boiling an animal skull. If you want to keep a skull, you have to boil all the yucky stuff off of it - and it STINKS! One of the neighbors walked out and yelled "What are you cooking? It sure smells good!" Oh dear God, if only he'd known what was cooking - and who had moved in next door.
But now, everyone in Hidden Springs knows Ival. He doesn't know a stranger. In fact, someday he says he's going to be the Mayor here. Hey, that would be cool, then EVERYONE could have chickens and other farm animals in their backyards!
I have to admit, I truly look forward to the day we can retire together. We'll be up on an acreage, with a little home, lots and lots of farm animals and right near a river where Ival can step out the back door to hunt and fish. Yep, he's Elmer Fudd - but he's mine! (poor fox)