Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind
should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne

To answer this question: No! Old acquaintances should not be forgotten. New years is a time to reflect, remember, as well as look to the future. Be thankful for the new . . . New Year, new beginning, new friends and acquaintances. The unknown is exciting! (I am one of the few who actually like change.) Make resolutions if you must to try to better yourself. (eg: get healthy, take a class & learn something new, start a journal, become a better wife, mom, friend, learn a new skill, get organized, etc.) But, as you do, don't forget the past. The people who have been there for you, your family, your friends and acquaintances. We don't have to relive our pasts, but we can certainly learn from them. Grow through them. And help others who are going through something similar to what we went through.

Starting over, or starting anew, doesn't mean we have to completely forget, or walk away from the past. Even the painful parts. Every experience in life helps to make us the person we are. We are always growing, learning, and becoming the person God created us to be, if we allow Him to use the things, the people in our lives to mold and make us the person He wants us to be. But, on the other hand, if we're always looking back, we can't move forward. So, don't be so preoccupied by the past, the people who have hurt you, or the mistakes you've made, that you can't be productive today.

For auld lang syne, my dear
for auld lang syne
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
for auld lang syne

(Old Lang Syne = Days of long ago)

New Years is a good time to remember, but it's also a great time to look forward, to the future, the new. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Being Born On Christmas

Yes, today, December 25th is Christmas! Yeah. I love all things Christmas! The lights, the Music, the celebrations, the decorating, the love and good cheer.

And today, December 25th is also my Birthday. Yes, I was born on Christmas. My brothers have still not forgiven me for that Christmas morning 44 years ago, when they woke up and could not open their presents because Mom & Dad were at the hospital having me. (The BEST Christmas Present BTW!) That's how I got the name Star*, my parents wanted a "Christmasy" name.

This is my Birthday ornament that hangs on my tree every year.

Every year growing up my parents would always have a Birthday cake for me, and give me my Birthday gifts in the evening. (We opened our Christmas Presents in the morning.) And they wanted me to have that special time just for me, even though it was Christmas.

When your born on Christmas Day, people very seldom forget your Birthday. Although I did have those friends that would say "This is your Christmas Gift and your Birthday Present" and I'm thinking didn't I buy you two gifts?! And, as a kid people would always say to me "How cool, you get double the gifts on Christmas!" and I would think yeah, but I get all my Gifts for the entire year on one day. So, there are pro's and con's to being born on Christmas. I know people born during the month of December who celebrate their half Birthday, so they can have two days. But as for me, I love being born on Christmas. It's part of what makes me Me!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Joy To The World

Joy To The World
The Lord has come!
Let Earth receive her King

Let every heart
prepare Him room
And Heaven & Nature sing . . .

"Let heaven and nature sing." For those of us who have loved ones celebrating Christmas in heaven, (How Awesome must that be?!) just think, we can all sing together "Joy to the world, The Lord has come!" May He find room prepared for Him in your heart. Remember the greatest Christmas gift ever given was the gift of Jesus, sent to this world as a baby in a manger. To walk among us, and die for our salvation. "Let earth receive her King!"

While reading through the Christmas story, I came across something interesting. After the shepherds came to find the baby, and then went and told anyone who would listen about their encounter, Luke 2:19 says "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." The thought occurred to me, Mary was the very First "Mommy Blogger!" (just a thought!) ; )

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas.
Joy to the world!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our Favorite Christmas Tradition (Santa Clause Is Coming To Town)

Every year of my kid's lives I have gotten their picture taken with Santa. And I put all the pictures in a Christmas photo album. Along with family pictures we've used as our Christmas cards. We've now filled one album, and are close to finishing off the second one.

When my boys were about 13 & 14, they said "How long are we gonna have to get our pictures taken with Santa?" I said "Until you're married, and have a child of your own to take your place on Santa's lap!" Kyle said "I'll be off at collage, and will have to go get my picture taken with Santa and send it to you." I said "that will be my favorite Christmas gift of all!"

Yet, every year when we get our Christmas stuff out, all the kids want to look at those photo albums first. And every time they have a friend over, they can't wait to show off all their Santa Pictures! They're fun to look at, not to mention funny too.

And I wanted to share them with you. So John put them all together in a video for me. (It pays to be married to a computer geek! And I mean that with the utmost affection!) So, turn your volume up on the computer, click play, and enjoy watching my kids grow-up before your eyes (and Santa's of course) And it's never too late to start this tradition with your own kids. You will be so glad you did.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Traditions Of Christmas

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I use both, but I prefer wrapping paper, it's more fun to open!

2. Real tree or Artificial? We have a nice artificial tree. But I like to add pine scent to the room and people always think it's real.

3. When do you put up the tree? Thanksgiving weekend.

4. When do you take the tree down? After New Years!

5. Do you like eggnog? No.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I was a Barbie girl, living in a Barbie world. And I remember one year my mom giving me a whole shoebox full of homemade Barbie clothes. Some of which even matched some of my clothes.

7. Hardest person to buy for? My Father-in-Law.

8. Easiest person to buy for? Well, besides myself, it would be my girls.

9. Do you have a Nativity scene? I put up several, a beautiful, large porcelain one, with a home made stable made by John's dad. I have an unbreakable one I bought so the kids could play with it and act out the story when they were little. And I would always find Mickey Mouse, Santa, and an assortment of other characters visiting the Baby Jesus! I have a cute little Amish one that sits on my kitchen window sill.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I try to mail them. (I even already have most of mine out, note that it is before Christmas too! Because sometimes they become New Years Cards.) But, I enjoy getting both.

11. Worst Christmas Gift? Fruitcake! (Though I may be one, I don't eat them!) ; )

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Oh, there are so many. I love "It's A Wonderful Life", "The Family Man", "Jingle All The Way", "A Charlie Brown Christmas" just to name a few. I love the old classics, and the new ones too.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? The day after Thanksgiving. I always try for earlier, but never really do.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I'll never tell!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My mom's Homemade Christmas Cookies.

16. Lights on the tree? I like multi colored, and some blinking.

17. Favorite Christmas song? "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas", "Silver Bells", "Silent Night", "We three kings" (Because it's about me. . . 'Star of Wonder, Star of Light, Star with Royal Beauty Bright!') ; )

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I prefer to stay home, but I'd love to visit New York City at Christmas time. And Disneyland as well.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Now Dasher, and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, On Comet and Cupid, and Donner & Blitzen, and of course we can't forget Rudolph!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? With a name like mine, of course it has to be a Star!

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve. or Christmas morning? It is our tradition to open one gift on Christmas Eve., and then Santa comes while we are sleeping, so we get up early Christmas morning to see what he brought us and open the rest of our gifts.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? That we get TOO BUSY to really enjoy it.

23. Favorite Ornament theme or color? The most special ornaments to me are all the ones my sister gave me. She use to send me one every year. And I think of her every year as I put them on my tree.

24. Favorite Christmas dinner? Turkey, with all the trimmings, especially sweet potatoes.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Tickets to see "The Lion King" Broadway show when it's here in Jan., But they are way too expensive, so we will have to catch it next time! I also love to get clothes and books.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jinge All The Way

Around here we like to have what we affectionately call "Forbis Family Fun Nights" Where we do fun things together as a Family. And around Christmas time we like to have a night where we all stay home (which is becoming more and more rare!) and watch a Christmas movie together. Some of our favorites are "It's a Wonderful Life", "A Christmas Story", "Elf", "The Santa Clause", "The Grinch", this list could go on and on. One I always look forward to seeing is "Jingle All The Way" in which Arnold's character frantically runs around trying to find Turbo Man for his son. And every time I watch it, It reminds me of a time when my boys were little and we ran around all over town looking for just the right color Power Rangers for them. I know you can relate. If it wasn't Power Rangers, it was Tickle Me Elmo or some other toy you knew would just make your kids jump for joy to get on Christmas morning.

This year is a little sad for me because all my kids are now getting too old for toys. Shopping for toys can be so much fun. I remember finding out I was pregnant with twin girls after having two boys (and thinking I was done having kids) and actually saying out loud "yeah, now I'll get to shop in the Barbie isle!" As your kids get older their presents get less exciting to shop for. (Not to mention more expensive!) I told my girls what I was gonna ask Santa for this year is for my kids to stop growing up!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Gift Of Today

God even cares about the little things in our lives. Today I was to work all day. 9:30-6:30. I was starting to get really stressed out about Christmas, and how far behind I am in everything that needs to be done. Monday is John's day off, so I gave him a list of things to go shopping for. Two of the things he hates most in this world are being alone and shopping. And he had to do both of them today. Also my girls had their very first band concert ever tonight, that starts at 6:30, they play first, and that's right when I was to get off work (unless I'm busy with a customer and can't leave right away) I was afraid I was going to miss it.

But God. Just as I was about to pull into the mall parking lot, my cell phone rings. It's work telling me they aren't that busy today, so I don't need to come in. So, John and I got to spend the day together doing some much needed shopping. I addressed my Christmas cards. And I got to be at my girls First ever band concert, and see the whole thing! (And while the other band was playing I was able to fold all my Christmas letters!) The girls did Awesome! Each section played one song by themselves and then they all played it together. Lexi and the Flutes did amazing. And since Erica is the only French Horn, she got to play a solo. And did so good!

Yesterday is History,
Tomorrow a Mystery,
Today is a Gift,
That is why it is called The Present.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Welcome To My World!

Yesterday I worked all day at the Portrait Studio, so John had to play "Mr. Mom!"

He and the boys had youth Praise Band practice in the morning. The girls had a friends Birthday Party to go to in the afternoon. So, he had to help them wrap the gift I laid out, make sure they got dressed & that their hair looked okay. Zach had a youth event in the evening. And Kyle had to work. He started a job the night before at a store in a different mall than I'm working at. Yeah! But getting everyone everywhere they need to go is crazy!

John put over 80 miles on his car yesterday driving everyone where they needed to go! He also had to make sure everyone was fed, etc. I think it is safe to say he might appreciate me a little more now. (Though he really always did anyway.) The hardest part for him is not being able to talk to me when I'm at work.

And this week since it's getting closer to Christmas, I'm even working more hours. My Girls have their first ever band concert. And with all the Church related activities, it's crazy right now. I've hardly gotten any Christmas presents bought. Let alone wrapped, and have no idea when I'm gonna have any time to do either. Yet in spite of it all, I LOVE CHRISTMAS!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Favorite Child

I am from a very large, very close family. I'm one of seven kids. And all our lives we've argued over which one of us is "The Favorite", though deep down inside, I know that all of my siblings know I am the favorite! Well to prove it, on Thanksgiving as we were leaving, my mom called me aside and handed me a gift bag. She said "now don't tell your brothers I gave you this" I opened it and inside was a Christmas Ornament. It said Mom's Favorite, and then had the name of one of my brothers on it! I said, this says Danny! She says oh no, I gave you the wrong one. She took it back and handed me another bag where the ornament inside had my name on it. She said I didn't want anyone to know I gave one to everybody. (She still thinks I am the only one who knows everyone of us got one! So if any of my brothers are reading this DON'T TELL MOM!)

Now, in our family, we may all Love ourselves a little too much, and be conceded at times (not to mention Humble) but I don't think there's a single one of us who would truly think my mom would actually tell us we had always been her favorite. We are a bunch of clowns and when we are together we laugh a lot. And my poor mom really wants to be funny, and she tries to be. But when she's not "trying" to be funny she'll say or do something that just cracks us all up and then when we laugh, she'll say What?! We all go to each others houses, so you would think she would realize we might see the ornament hanging on our siblings tree. But she really believes she has pulled one over on us all. (Well, not me, because she knows I know, since she gave me the wrong ornament, but she didn't want me to.)

And as I was thinking about how funny all of this is, I remembered an acquaintance of mine, way back before I even had any kids, this person did, and we were talking about her kids. And in the conversation of her telling me about her kids, she matter of factly told me which of her kids was her favorite. I'm sure my mouth flew open wide. My heart immediately broke for her other children. If she said this to me, I'm sure she said it to others as well, and we all know how perceptive children are. How terrible to live with the knowledge of never being able to measure up. Or the guilt you would feel knowing you were favored above your brothers & sisters. Either way it's a raw deal!

I guess my point in all this is it's our responsibility as parents to make all of our kids feel special. Like they are the only one like them in the whole world. (Yes, even with Twins! And that's a real challenge.) And no one else could take their place. And unless you have an only child, please never say you have a favorite child! I told my mom she has seven kids, she can have a favorite one for each day of the week. (except we all know it's really me that's her favorite everyday!) ;)

I guess we know we're doing a good job parenting, if like my mom, ALL our kids believe they are the favorite!

What do you do to make your kids feel special?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Our First Christmas as Husband & Wife!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

When Your Kids Start Dating

I have to be honest, It's a little weird when your kids start dating. But it can be fun too! Seeing them becoming interested in the opposite sex can be very frightening. And seeing the kind of people they choose to be with is very interesting to say the least.

My oldest son Kyle has had a couple of girlfriends in the past, they lasted maybe 3 or 4 months at the most. Then he met Olivia just before Christmas last year when she & her family started attending our church. Soon after, her family left to spend Christmas in Hawaii. She & Kyle were texting the entire time she was gone. (Thank God for unlimited text plans, you couldn't have teenagers with out them!) So, in January when she got home, they started "hanging out" with each other. Kyle was 17 and Olivia was not yet 16. The rule in her house (which I love!) was no dating until the age of 16. So, Kyle takes it upon himself to go to her father and asked him for permission to date his daughter. It was granted. For reasons unknown they really like Kyle! ;)

So, it's coming up on a year the two of them have been dating now. We really like Olivia, she's so sweet, and smart and funny and talented (she plays guitar and sings with Kyle & Zach on the youth Worship team) Hey, don't they say sometimes, that boys pick girls just like their mothers?! Sorry Olivia, (I'm sure she's horrified now! And we may never see her after this post)

Kyle & I have had a few talks about that fact that since he is her first boyfriend he has an even greater responsibility to treat her right. Because, although it does happen, it's not often that people marry the person they dated in High School. (One of my brothers is married to the girl he started dating in Jr. High!, but, for most of us it didn't happen that way) And being Youth Pastors I've seen too many teenage girls totally change themselves to please some guy. Or come to except being treated badly by boys, or worse start to believe that's all they deserve. And having daughters has made me sensitive to the plight of young girls as well. So, I've told Kyle, he has to set the bar high for her. If he treats her well, like she deserves to be treated, If he isn't the one she ends up marrying (many, many years down the road!) She will chose guys who treat her well in the future as well. She will know she deserves to be treated like the princess that she is!

I remember being picked up for a first date with some guy, and walking out to his car, and he went & got in his side of the car. So, I just stood there outside the car until he got back out, came around to my side, & opened the car door for me. I figured if my own brothers could open doors for me, surely any guy who wanted to date me could. (This was not John BTW. Of course I chose to marry one who knew how to treat me well, better than I deserve even) But enough about me, now back to my kids.

Kyle & Olivia go to different High Schools, & Olivia's school was having their Winter Formal and the tradition is girls ask the boys, so one day when Kyle got home from school this is what he saw . . .

An invitation written in side walk chalk. Clever.

So, last night was the winter formal. They looked really great and had a great time. I thought I'd share a picture with you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself A merry little Christmas now.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Photo Shoot

The Family:

The Boys:

The Girls:

Just The Two Of Us:

The Kids:

Kyle & Olivia:

Olivia & All The Kids, Having Fun:

Olivia & Susie, Our Awesome Photographer!:
I told you I'd been thinking about taking our pictures for Christmas cards . . . It's been a couple of years since we've done family photos. And we had a lot of fun taking these pic's! We're really happy with how they turned out. I wanted something different than we've ever done before. Our Christmas cards are already ordered! Just think, I may even have them out on time this year. (No Promises though.)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Update On My New Job

Well, I made through my first week of my new job! It's been really fun. I'm not learning the camera room yet, so after the pictures have been taken they're sent to me and I enhance them, then show them to the customers and help them pick out what they want. They've told me I'm doing really well and am a fast learner. (who knew?!)

I'm having fun doing it, and so far have worked there everyday I'm not working at the Church. It's usually 5-8 hours a day. So, John and the kids have pitched in to help keep the house picked up and everyone fed, etc. Saturday while I was at work, John, Kyle & the girls cleaned the house and rearranged the furniture to get it ready to put the Christmas tree up. (We usually put it up Thanksgiving weekend, but with me working, we weren't able to yet, hopefully we will be able to decorate this week.) They even made me a special dinner when I got home. So, so far, so good! ;)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Busiest Shopping Day Of The Year

Those of you who know me, know I am NOT a morning person! Except for one day a year. The day after Thanksgiving. I get up before the crack of dawn and go shopping. Yes, I'm one of those crazy people! But it's so much fun!

In Michigan I actually talked a friend into going with me. (Miss you Linda). Sometimes I go with family, sometimes I just go alone. I've even gotten up, gone shopping for a couple of hours, came home, gotten back in bed, before anyone else was up.

So, who's with me?

Happy Shopping!

Sent from my BlackBerry Smartphone provided by Alltel

An Attitude of Gratitude

As parents, we've all had those talks with our kids, like before every Birthday party, or Holiday party where they may receive gifts. You know the talk, it goes something like . . . "Now remember, never say things like 'I already have this one', or 'This wasn't what I wanted', always be grateful that your friend came to your party and brought you a gift, that was so nice of them. Always say Thank you. You can always worry about the gift later, if it needs to be returned, then we'll just pick something else out, you don't have to tell your guest that. (I guess unless your a re-gifter, than you just saved yourself from shopping for the next party! But I wouldn't share that either.) We want our kids to display an Attitude of Gratitude. To be grateful for all the wonderful things in life. Not to take them for granted, or expect to be given everything.

And one day a year we all get that reminder, Thanksgiving. It's a day for us to reflect on all the blessings in life. To slow down and say Thank You. And we all have so much to be thankful for. Weather you go around the table and have everyone say what they are thankful for before you eat, or eat while watching the parade or football game, take the time to share with someone what your thankful for this Thanksgiving day. And always try to keep that Attitude of Gratitude.

Here is a partial list of what I'm thankful for today: My Husband, My Children, Family, Health, Jobs, the Love of God, Being an American and Freedom. Oh yeah, and finding great gifts for great prices! (Christmas is coming!) ; ) What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 24, 2008

I'm Saucy! Who Knew!

So, yesterday while I'm sitting in Church, my BlackBerry starts lighting up like crazy saying I have all these E-mails of comments on my Blog. And I'm thinking "what in the world is up with that?!" Well, I am so honored that what is up is that my Blog has been selected as a "Saucy Blog" from the ladies over at The Secret Is In The Sauce Blog group. How cool is that. So all this week I'll have visitors checking out my Blog and leaving me tons of comments. It's so much fun! I hope you all like reading my Blog as much as I like writing it. And find me saucy enough to come back and visit me once in awhile.

I also started my new job today! My brain is tired from absorbing all this new information I'm learning. (And they say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, well they haven't meet this old dog!) What a great way to start out my week. New Blogosphere friends and a new job. I have a lot to be thankful for.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dear Mother Nature

I don't know why you think this is so funny, it's not. Yet you continue to play all these "little tricks" on me. And quite frankly I'm sick of it! First of all every time I look at my daughters beautiful skin I'm reminded that mine no longer looks like that. Could you ease up on the lines and wrinkles, not to mention the sun spots. (Why didn't you worn me about those all throughout my teenage years, as I was laying out, seeking that color from you? How Rude! You just let me lay there, rubbing baby oil on my skin. I'm much smarter now, my kids don't swim without sunblock, so there.)

And another thing, I have twin girls fast approaching adolescence. That in itself could send anyone over the deep end. But it's not enough for you, no, you thought it would be oh so hilarious to plan that at around the same time I should be fast approaching going out the other side. The thought of Puberty and Menopause in the same household at the same time. Good one! Now I'm all in favor of a good practical joke, but this is too much! How can I put a stop to both of those things? Get back to me on that ASAP would ya?!

I have a few other bones to pick with you as well. I, who have never worn glasses in my life, and have perfect vision, broke down and bought those little magnifying glasses for reading. Not Funny! I only wear them in my house, but this better not get any worse. And whats the point of making things saggy that use to be "perky"? I liked it much better the other way.

I'm here to try to convince you to change your ways. Undo those mean things you've done to me and all my friends. It's not too late to turn over a new leaf. Please. Forgiveness is yours for the asking.

Sincerely, Star*

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My New Job

I got a new job! "Yeah Me!"

I was just hired by the Portrait Studio in Sears, for the Holidays. I'm so excited, I love to take pictures, and now I'll be getting paid for doing it! It will be invaluable experience and training for me. It's just part time on the days I'm not working at the Church. And the way I love to shop (especially for Christmas) the extra income will be a huge blessing!

To all those who've been praying for me and my job pursuit I just have two things to say: Thank You, and It Worked! It's really "Yeah God!", not yeah me. I start on Monday. Now if we can just find Kyle a job. And I'm sure the people I encounter while working there will make for some fun (and funny) Blog posts. Stay tuned.

Have you taken your Christmas pictures yet? (We haven't, but I am thinking about it! does that count?)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How To Help Children Cope With Death

Since we've been dealing with this in our family, I've been thinking a lot about it. And I have a friend from church who just lost her mother, which is her young son's first encounter with death. (We're praying for you Christyl!) And I also have two good friends who are facing losing a parent and Grandparent and have young children as well who will face this for the first time. (Dana and Tammy, I'm praying for you too) And as parents we not only deal with the loss to ourselves, but we hurt all the more watching our kids go through it. So, I thought I'd share a few of the things I've learned as we walked through it.

The most important thing is that everyone grieves differently. There is no right way, and there is no wrong way. It can be as individual as we are from each other. Some people cry, some scream, some get angry, some just sit quietly, the list could go on and on.

For my kids, their first real encounter with death was when we lost my sister 7 years ago. She died of cancer in her 40's. She and I were very close, and she was very close to my kids as well. They loved their Aunt Debbie! Then 2 years after Debbie, my Dad, who my kids loved more than life and were extremely close to as well, passed away. It was heart breaking to say the least, for our entire family. Then 2 years after that, we lost John's sister, unexpectedly, to heart failure at the young age of 47. Aunt Linda was gone too.

There is no protocol as to how to get through something like this. You just have to do what you feel is best for your children and your family. I found myself doing things I never thought I would do, and even probably said I'd never do. For example, I am a photographer, I love taking pictures and capturing memories. So it was just natural for me, when I realized this is the last opportunity I will ever have to take a picture of this person that I love so much, I wanted pictures. So, at the funerals I asked all my family if it bothered anyone if I took pictures of the deceased. They all knew it meant a lot to me and said of course I could. Before that I never thought I would have. And at first I looked at those pictures a lot. Now I never do. But, I'm still glad I know that I have them. I've heard people say they could never do that, that's not how they want to remember the person they love. And I understand that. But, I also know that I don't think of my kids only as they are in their last school picture. Your memories are vast and span a lifetime, and will continue to do so. You might think that's disgusting to take pictures at a funeral, and that's okay. What's right for me, may not be right for you, and the other way around. You do what you need to do to get through it.

People want to know if you should take children to funerals. I feel like probably not babies, but if your child is old enough to sit through a service quietly and they know the person and are old enough to remember, they absolutely should go. Just like we as adults need that time to say goodbye, and to morn, children do as well. You know your child and what they can handle. And I would say Don't hide it from them, and don't force it on them either way. I feel like it's okay for them to miss one day of school in their life time for the chance to say goodbye for the last time to someone they love.

When they have questions, try to answer them as best as you can. I try to not make up stories just to make us feel better that aren't really true, like telling my kids that the person they love has now become our guardian angel. If you are a Bible believing family (which we are) the Bible is very clear that angels were created to be angels, and people were created to be people "a little higher than the angels" and "in the very image of God," and just because we pass from this life to the next, doesn't mean we change species. We talk about how that person is now in heaven, and as the Bible says, they will never feel pain again! That is Awesome! Especially if someone suffered. They will never cry or be sad ever again. And best of all, they are with Jesus! There is nothing better than that! Even though we miss them terribly, and are sad here, they are in a much better place. I bought my kids a book written by Maria Shriver, that she wrote for her children when they lost their Grandmother. It's called "What's Heaven?" It might not be theologically sound, but it's a good book for helping young kids understand what's happening.

Another thing I thought I would never do is visit the cemetery. I would drive by one and see people out there and think those poor, ignorant people, the person they're missing isn't really there in the cemetery, they're in heaven. But then I realized you don't go for that person, we go for us. Every couple of years, it's usually my mom, but it has been one of my brothers on occasion, will mention that they'd like us all to go. So, we'll go. This past Saturday was one of those times. It had been a couple of years since we've done this. We all met at my Dad's grave sight (about 30 of us) then we went out to lunch and then over to my sister's grave sight. We cry, we laugh, we talk and remember. Sometimes we might read a verse from the Bible, this time we sang "Amazing Grace" and "I'll fly away," then some of the younger girls sang the song "I miss you" that Miley Cyrus wrote about her grandpa that died. It was beautiful. And I thought "I wonder what people driving by are thinking about us right now?" and then I realized I didn't really care.

Every time we go, Kyle who was very close to his grandpa, as soon as we pull up in the cemetery, starts to quietly sob, and does so the entire time we are there. Others might shed a tear or two, some don't cry at all. And that's all okay. Again, everyone is different. And we respect and support each other, and offer love and comfort. After all that's what families are for. It's okay for your kids to see you cry and upset. Don't try to hide it from them, they are more observant than we think, they already know. Just let them know your missing that person right now, and that you'll be okay.

Also, I want to mention that some kids want to leave something there. Especially, It seems like, the newer the death and/or the younger the child, they NEED to leave something of themselves behind. So prepare for that. Weather it's flowers, a Christmas ornament, or something they've made. This time my girls made Thanksgiving cards. One time, close to Christmas, we decided to leave a Reindeer antenna ball we got from Jack-in-the-box. That may seem funny to you, but Grandpa was a truck driver and he loved Christmas. We thought it was the perfect thing! It can be anything. You can pick out flowers together with your child, or choose something they think reminds them of that person. Even if they say they don't want to bring anything, they may change their mind once they get there. So, one thing you can do is tear a page out of a coloring book that they colored and put it in your purse, then when they start to get upset they didn't bring something, you can say, "I have this picture you colored, do you want to write on it To Grandpa (or whoever it's for) and leave it here? He would have loved to see your picture." I don't know what it is, but it just makes kids feel better to leave something there. My kids have left pieces of Jewelry they were wearing before as well. And whatever you leave, even if it's artificial flowers, don't expect it to be there the next time you come back. Between grounds keepers and the weather, etc. it won't be. Don't let it upset you, just know ahead of time.

One thing I did for our kids (and my mom) on the first Christmas after we lost my dad was to get them each a collage picture frame & put in it pictures of them with my dad. They are all still hanging in their rooms. I also blew up a picture I took the last Thanksgiving Linda was alive of John's parents and all his siblings together, and framed them and gave one to each family member. You can also get a special 'Grandpa' or 'Aunt', (etc.) ornament for your Christmas tree, and each year as you hang it up you talk about them and remember together. Another thing I have done is to create a special memory box. It can be a shoe box or a hat box, whatever size you need. And in the box I keep photos of that person, all the sympathy cards people have sent me, the program from the funeral, newspaper clippings. Dried flowers from the funeral. And with my sister, I had many cards & letters that she'd written to me over the years, I love having things in her handwriting. I now have a Grandpa Box, a Debbie Box and a Linda Box. And if my kids ever need a picture of Grandpa for a school project or something I know right were they are.

And please remember there is no right way or wrong way to handle a death of someone you love. You just get through it the best that you can for you and your family. I have learned that talking about it helps much more than it hurts. It's okay to be honest with yourself and your children about how much your hurting and that you know they are hurting. It does get easier with time. But it never completely goes away. And we wouldn't want it to!

I'm including some pictures from this past Saturday, for my family members that couldn't be there. If it bothers you feel free not to look. Remember I love to take pictures and capture the moment in time.

My family, my mom, three of my brothers and their families
& some of my sisters kids and grandkids.

Kyle thinking of Grandpa.

My mom with her grandkids & great-grandkids.

One of my sisters grand-babies that she never got to meet.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Senior Year - Part 3

Well, this week we had to order Kyle's Cap & Gown, and his Graduation announcements. Ouch! I guess it's official now. (Besides the actual Graduating part, that is! Some years we may have worried about that, but, this year he has all really good grades!)

How did this happen?! And, more importantly, how can I stop it?! I've really loved all the stages of life with my kids, and now, watching Kyle grow into the man God created him to be, but somewhere deep down inside I want to go back to this graduation . . . and stop time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Speech Easy

When my girls were little, whenever they finished a sentence, whoever they were talking to would automatically look at me to interpret what was just said. A lot of twins seem to be delayed in their speech. It seems that they tend to be a little behind their single born peers in this area. Although, they can carry on conversations with each other that no one else can understand. So, I had them tested at about the age of 3 or 4.

So, since they've been in pre-school, they have been in speech therapy. Everyone can pretty much understand them now, and I no longer have to interpret what they say. Well, they are in Fifth grade this year and Erica has just graduated out of speech! Congratulations Erica! Great Job! All your hard work has paid off. And Lexi shouldn't be far behind either, she is just working on one last sound. (R)

I'm so grateful to the public school system that offers speech & other help to kids who need it, free of charge. I don't think that on a Pastor's salary we could have paid for private speech therapy sessions for two children, for 7 or 8 years. It's just one more thing that makes this country great!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

"It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year"

Last night at 5:00 pm my favorite Radio station (K-EZ 99.9) started playing Christmas music! They are the Holiday station, and will play only Christmas music from now through Christmas. Woo Hoo! Those of you who know me, know I love all things Christmas! I know some of you (you know who you are, and I love you anyway) think it's too early for Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. But I say it's never too early. (I would put up my decorations before Halloween if my husband would let me. I'm a freak, I know.) But, even in the summer in Phoenix, when it's 120 degrees, if a store is having a 'Christmas In July' sale and you hear just a snippet of Jingle Bells, it just lifts your spirits and makes you happy.

The other day John, Kyle & I walked into Sams Club and I actually clapped out loud because they were playing Christmas music. I came home the other night and my girls, all excited, said "Mom, we saw two Christmas Commercials!" Because they knew that would make me happy. I've told my family, that no matter what time of year it is when I leave this earth for heaven, at my funeral they have to play "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" as my final song, or last words, to all my family and friends. "It's the hap-happiest season of all!" and it's starting. I love it. Yeah!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Remembering Grandpa

Yesterday was the 5 year anniversary of my Dad going to Heaven. He was the best Dad/Grandpa that any one could have. I'm so blessed to be his daughter. He was always singing & dancing around. He loved his family, especially his grandkids more than anything, and always took them for walks, or to the store to buy them something. Gifts was his love language. People always said about him that he would give you the shirt off his own back. He was always giving.

My kids were all very close to him, and still talk about him and how much they miss him. And laugh about his driving, or funny things he did. Any time the song 'Dance with my Father' by Luthor Vandross comes on the radio the kids all yell "turn it up, turn it up!" and then it gets really quiet in the car as we all sing along & think about him. Any one who knew him, loved him. We can't wait to be together again in heaven some day!

Giving me Away

Kyle with his favorite person on earth

Zach and Grandpa

Erica & Lexi going for a swim with Papa

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

This Moment In History

Yesterday was a very historical vote for our country. Both tickets had a "first". As I was hoping would happen, we could have put the first woman in the vice presidency. But, just as exciting, is putting the first black man in the presidency. Both are great for all man kind. This is such an amazing moment in our country's history!

I stood outside a poling place all day yesterday, conducting an exit pole. And I was amazed to meet people older than myself who this was their first time voting, ever. And more young people voted than ever before. That is amazing to me. And all day as I stood there, I prayed for God's will to be done in this election.

The Bible, God's written word, says in Romans 13:1 "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." We need to pray for, and support our president. That's what this family is going to do.

Change, though it may be scary, is a positive thing. This is the greatest country in the world. I am proud to be an American.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tomorrow Is An Important Day!

VOTE! Tomorrow is the day. Finally. (I can't wait for all the adds to end.) I vote early because I work an Exit Poll. (It's money for my day after Thanksgiving shopping fund! Woo Hoo!) Though if I didn't have to, I wouldn't vote early, because I really enjoy being out there with the people, I think voting is fun. Kyle will be voting for the first time in his life, and he's really excited about it. And I am too. We should all do our part.

You've been given a Voice, use it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Twins from Different Decades

We didn't buy any Halloween costumes this year. I told the kids we were only gonna use what we already have. With the financial crisis and everything going on, I can think of better ways to spend our money. And we have a huge bin full of costumes from Halloween's and costume party's gone by. So we got creative. Lexi decided she wanted to be a 60's hippie Girl! And all Erica knew was that she wanted her hair pink! And I Love The 80's! So, that is how I ended up with twins from different decades. Take a look . . .

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Imitation is the highest form of Flatery"

Last night our Youth group had a costume party. And our oldest son Kyle, & his girlfriend Olivia dressed up like John & I. So, either they admire us and want to be like us, or they view us like some sort of cartoon characters to dress up as. I'm not sure which.

Everyone couldn't believe how much they looked like us. Kyle with his bald head was carrying around a mac computer. Olivia chose an orange top to wear, as did I. (And I had no idea they were doing this!) and she went out and bought herself a big yellow bag like mine. She even used a marker to make my tattoo. Can you tell who's who?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pastors Appreciation

October is Pastors Appreciation month, and at our church they take up an offering for the pastoral staff, and we are given cards and notes of appreciation and thanks and even gifts. Last Sunday they brought all the Pastors and their families up on stage to Honor us.

What blesses me the most is that they don't forget the pastor's kids. They got to come up on stage too. (They love their time in the spotlight!) And they gave them a gift as well. People don't often realize the sacrifices of the family. Pastor's kids spend way too much of their time at the church. Sometimes they are held to different standards than other kids just because of who their father is. But they are still just kids! They help out and work behind the scenes—a lot. And I love that our church thinks of them too as part of the ministry team.

I just want to say Thank You Mesa First. For honoring and blessing us. We love you.

Our Staff pictured from left to right: Mike Heim, Children's Pastor - Greg & Debbie Petersen, Adult Ministries Pastors - Us (Kyle, Zach, Erica, Alexia), Worship Arts Pastors - Sam & Dana Frederick (Abby & Sidney) Youth Pastors - Jeff & Melissa Kossack (Ethan, Eli, Hannah & Jonah) Lead Pastors.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ode To Michigan

John and I are Arizona natives, born and raised in the land of the sun! Kyle and Zach were also born here. Then when Kyle was 2 years old, and Zach was 10 months we moved to Michigan. We lived there for over 8 years. Erica & Lexi were born in Michigan. It's what the boys remember of their childhood years, when asked where they are from, the boys answer Michigan, not Arizona. They root for the Detroit sports teams before the Phoenix teams. Fall always makes me think of Michigan. When we first moved there we learned that the word Weather has many different meanings. In Arizona, we go from Sunny & Hot, to Sunny & Warm, and if we're lucky we get Sunny & Cool. I love the Sunshine, but I also learned to love having different seasons. In Michigan the weather changes often.

Fall was always our favorite time of year there. Remember we grew up with Palm Trees & Cactus, neither of which change colors. But the fall in Michigan is so Beautiful! All the leaves turn every color from Green to Orange to Bright Yellow and Red. It really is amazing. And one of our favorite things to do every year as a family while we lived there was to go to the Pumpkin Patch. We would ride the hayride out to the Pumpkin patch and choose our pumpkins, then get back on the hayride and ride into the apple orchid and pick a bushel of apples. (For City Folk, this is very fun and exciting!) Then the hayride would take us back into the Cider Mill where we would have Apple Cider and cinnamon donuts. Yum! Then we'd go home and carve our pumpkins and make & eat the pumpkin seeds. Great Memories! We have really missed this since we've moved away from Michigan.

Since that time, occasionally we have bought pumpkins from the store to carve, but it's hasn't really been the same. We moved back to Arizona after a couple of other states along the way. And we heard about a pumpkin patch up in Prescott. (about an hour and a half north of us here in Phoenix) So our first year here, a lot of my family all drove up there for a fun day, we were in 3 or 4 cars & vans. And right before we got there a storm hit. They closed the place down. No Hayride, nothing. They wouldn't even let us buy a pumpkin to take with us. We just had to turn around and drive back down the mountain. The next year that pumpkin patch was sold and closed down for good. So much for reliving our Michigan memories. The girls have gotten to go to a pumpkin patch on a school field trip when they were younger, but it's not quite the same thing.

We've been back in Arizona for almost 7 years now, and every year at this time we still talk about how much we miss Michigan and how much fun that was. So, last week when the kids were off school for Fall break and John was off work we did something about it. We found a local place that sells pumpkins, and they have a 10 acre corn field maze. It was fun. We made our way through the maze (3 & 1/2 miles). Of course, being in Arizona, we were in the middle of a corn field and it was 93 degrees out. (It was never 93 degrees in Michigan! But, anything under 100 is Fall to us!) And I kept flashing back to my teenage years when there was a movie out called Children of the Corn. But we made it through okay. We Choose our pumpkins and carved them that night and our Pumpkins seeds were the best! Here are a few pic.'s of our adventures, then and now.

We miss you Michigan. Know that we think of you, and talk about you often. Some of our favorite memories, and most cherished friendships are from there. (Don't worry Arizona, I love you too and we'll sing your praises in another post at another time, but right now is all about Michigan!) Good Times, Good Friends, Good Memories. We love you.