Tuesday, January 31, 2012


She would be 73 today.  I find it hard to even imagine what she would be like at 73.  That sounds so OLD.  And in my mind she's so young.

It's been just a bit shy of 17 years since I've seen her.  But more like almost 19 years since I've seen HER.  She was so sick those last couple years.  A shell of herself, a body and mind that was being slowly destroyed by a 23 year battle with a brain tumor.  She fought that nasty thing so hard.  She did not die from a brain tumor, a brain tumor had to kill her.  A subtle difference, but her stubborn determination to live and not give up made it a fight that she did not back down from.

My last fully coherent conversation with her was on October 6th, 1994.  By this point she was having very few days where she was alert and would even talk.  And that morning, I found out I was pregnant with my first baby.  It had been a long road to get pregnant, and I wanted so badly to share the news with her.  We left the doctor's office and headed straight to her home, where she had at this point been in a hospital bed in the living room for two months.  She had been completely blind for a long time, an effect of that nasty tumor.  I gently shook her awake, praying that she would wake coherent and be having a "good" day.  "Mom???"  She stirred and said, "Oh, hi honey!"  I was so glad that she knew I was there, and hoping she would receive my news with understanding.  I told her the news.  Her first questions?  "Are you sure??  How do you know for sure???"  I assured her it was true, we had just come from the doctor.  And she got it.  Fully.  She shared my joy in that moment, just a somewhat skewed normal moment between a mother and daughter.

Later that evening, I arrived home to find a message from her on my answering machine.  Now, it had been so very long since I had the simple pleasure of talking to her on the phone, even hearing her voice for any extended conversation.  But this message was as clear as if the tumor was not a part of her.  "Hi honey, this is Mom.  I just wanted to see how you are feeling and see if it's okay if I tell people your news or if you want to tell them yourself.  Call me back.  Bye."  I sat on my bed and cried.  I kept the tape from the answering machine for a looooong time.  Her voice, sounding so proud and joyful, was captured.  I called her back, talked to her ever-so-briefly, and told her I had never felt better and that she could tell anyone (or everyone) she wanted.  She wanted to hang up quickly after I told her that, she had people to call!

After that evening, she never mentioned it again.  In the five months and one week she lived beyond that conversation, we never had one more about my baby or pregnancy.  In fact, we had very few words exchanged as she slipped further away from us.

But that evening, was such a gift to me.  I treasure it.  For a brief moment in time, my mom was able to share my joy of my child.  Her grandchild.  I didn't even know yet that was Alex.

I miss her.  I wish she could still be sharing the joy of my children.  I wish she could sit in the audience and listen to Alex play.  I wish she could sit in the stadiums and watch Brenna and Beth cheer.  I wish she could sit at the dinner table with us and enjoy simple conversations.  I wish she could spend time with Brenna and realize how very similar they are.  I wish she could have been sitting front and center when each of my kids was baptized.  So many wishes...

And I wonder what she would be like?  She'd probably still love her tea every night.  She'd probably still like to warm her back-side by a fire.  She'd probably still have the same hairstyle.  She'd probably still love to eat ice cream and popcorn balls and chicken legs.  She'd be mightily perplexed with many of the computer uses today...Facebook?  Makes me grin picturing her trying to navigate that.  And Starbucks?  She'd much rather have her Lipton tea bag in her mug.  She'd surely be retired by now.  I like to think she'd be travelling to Hawaii, knitting, reading, laughing, enjoying friends, church and family. 

I know she'd love her family.  Some things she'd wish were different, but maybe those things would be different if she were still here.  She was a center hub in our family that we all were tethered to.  Without her in the center, some pieces have not stayed tethered.

I would love to have her here.  But I know where she is.  And I know someday I'll be with her, and we'll get to share joy again.  Together.

So, Happy Birthday, Mom.  I hope you have a big carton of Black Walnut ice cream.  Ice cream in heaven??  Why not!  I miss you and I love you.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Big Fish And A Standing Ovation

This littlest one of mine...she is such a firecracker.  You put a goal in front of her, and if it's important to her, she's on it.  And she does not quit until she has accomplished what she set out to do. 

Pulling teeth?  Yes.  She's mastered that.  She went in for her regular cleaning recently, a day after removing a tooth that was, by their estimation, a year and a half early in coming out.  And, yeah, the root on that tooth?  I think it was still tickling her sinus cavity.  I wish I had taken a picture.  The hygienist said in 15 years, she had never seen a child remove a tooth with that length of a root.  She got a little talking to about teeth having a reason for staying in until they are ready to come out, both from her parents and her dentist.  For whatever reason, this girl loves to pull her teeth.  Go figure.  And once she sets her mind to something, she is immovable.  Parental pride?  My cup runneth over.

But when that determination and focus is applied in a positive way?  Oh, it can lead you right into the path of a big fish.

A couple weeks ago, the invitation was opened from her band teacher to start testing on the scales.  There are ten scales they need to pass.  And each one they pass, they get a small, laminated fish ("scale" = "fish", get it??).  Once you pass all ten scales, you get a "big fish".

Head to the wind, this girl buckled down and began mastering her scales on the clarinet.  Today?  She passed her tenth scale and brought home the big fish!  So proud of her.  First in the band to accomplish that in this school year.  I think whatever bizarre musical gene mutated from her father and me has shown up in her as well as her brother.  Will she work it and apply it in the same way?  Time will tell.  But for now, it's fun to see her excel at something!  Way to go, Bethie!

In related news, this scale-conqueror's brother also had a proud musical moment recently.  This weekend was the regional solo contest.  Winning this sends you onto the state competition in April.  He has been working on this solo diligently, had to switch accompanists for this date ~ that's a cool story with the punchline being he was accompanied by a gal I played soccer with for years and was such a small world connection ~ and really poured on the preparation in these last two weeks.  And the result was beautiful.  He played his heart out for an 18 minute and 42 second Mozart solo that just was a thing of beauty.  The adjudicator was fun to watch as I listened.  He followed along for awhile, and then about half way through he tossed the music aside and just leaned back in his chair with a smile and enjoyed the performance.  When it was over, Alex got a standing ovation.  Even though the the audience was half his family, a stranger started the ovation.  And, of course, we had to join in!  That guy came up and shook his hand and told him it was a pleasure to listen to.  How nice!  And then the adjudicator had some very, very flattering words, and talked about how much hard work goes in to preparing a piece like that.  So true, and so nice to have that recognized.

And that performance was enough to send him back to state again this year!  So excited for him!

And the pictures of this occasion?
this is the room he performed in, right before he came in. this is the moment I realized my camera may be a distraction and decided to not take pictures. see?  I can restrain myself!

this is the sheet announcing he's off to state, just after it was hung up in the window.

and this the same sheet that I reached up high and pulled down for him to hold so I could take his picture.  apparently that may have embarrassed him, but if the most I do to embarrass him is love him and be proud of him, we are doing okay! and I did put that paper back in the window.

I'm indeed proud of my little and big music makers!  Big fish, little fish, winner, alternate, whatever...the joy is not in the winning but in watching the dedication and love for music!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Two Things

I have two favorite foods right now that I cannot get enough of.  I love them so.  I am sitting here thinking of why I love them, and I really have no good answer for that.  But I just L.O.V.E love them.  So I thought I'd share them.  And today is National Chocolate Cake Day...yet neither of these foods is chocolate cake.  THAT'S how much I love them!

The first one I mentioned in my last post:

Cream of Wheat

Oh, I love it.  I've never been a big breakfast eater, but I'm changing that.  I now eat Cream of Wheat almost every morning.  During my little health adventure, this and apple sauce was about all I could comfortably get down.  And there are some nights I wish I could skip dinner and just have Cream of Wheat.  Mmmm.  I make the single serving microwave directions, add a tiny bit of butter, a teaspoon of sugar, and enough milk to make it the consistency I like.  Perfection.

The second food is new to me.  Well, prepared in a new way to me.  I've had this food in so many different varieties:  mashed, scalloped, pies, candied.  And I now make them in a way that trumps all others.  I will never make them any other way.  My kids LOVE them and have asked me to make them this way for every holiday now.

What are they?

Roasted Yams

Oh, yes.  I slice them in about 1 1/2 inch chunks or so, lay them out on a baking sheet, drizzle them with a little olive oil, sprinkle them lightly with salt and pepper, and cook the heck out of them at 450.  Probably about 20 minutes or so?  I don't really watch the clock, I just cook them while the rest of dinner is cooking, checking them occasionally.  When they are fork-tender, pull them out.  They get all caramelized and oh-so-sweet.  I'm not kidding when I say this, I reheated a couple for "dessert" one evening.  And that is saying A LOT for a girl who really loves dessert.  Sometimes I throw some other types of potatoes on there and cook them the same.  Yellow potatoes, mini-potatoes, Yukon golds, whatever.  They cook beautifully this way too.  I wish I could pass one through the screen right now and have you enjoy how yummy they are.  I'm going to cook some up tonight because now my tummy is whining for some...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Storm Diary

I have been so slacking off on here, I am going to do a fast-forward version of the recent past.  Golly, I haven't even posted anything about Christmas!  Oh, dear.  Well, I guess I best just jump back in.

So for over a week we were impacted by beautiful, cold, scary, dangerous, slippery, icy, (did I say beautiful?) weather.  I love to be snowed in.  I really do.  But I have realized that it is a lot more fun to be snowed in WITH power.  Now we did not suffer.  We have our gas fireplace to keep that room warm.  We have gas hot water for hot showers.  We can flush our toilets, unlike some.  We could cook some limited food.  We could drive to places with unlimited food.  And we had some fun family and friend time.  Here's the progression:

Saturday, January 14:

The snowfall begins!  We get so excited about a snow event around here.  You can see it in the eyes of my children...

On this evening, we were in Centralia for one of Alex's concerts.  By the time the concert ended, snow was beginning to pile up and it was a slippery drive home.

Oh, but the concert!  This young man had the joy of playing the contra bassoon!!  Oh, yes, that deserves two exclamation marks if you are one who is excited about such things, which he is.  The other bassoonist in this symphony played with the Seattle Symphony for 30 years, and texted Alex the week before the concert and asked him if he'd like to play his contra for this concert.  He thought about it for about .00001 seconds and then texted back a big "YES!".  They met a half-hour before rehearsals started so Alex could get a quick lesson on the differences in the instruments, and away he went.  He had a blast playing on that for the day.  And, no, Alex, we are not buying a contra bassoon.  But he does look awfully handsome posing with this beauty:

Sunday, January 15:

The snow fell overnight, enough to bundle up and roll up some snowballs and a big snowman.  I wish I snapped a picture of that snowman.  They put sticks all around the top of the head, to be the "hair", and it looked just like Kramer from Seinfeld when they were done.  We went to the grocery store on this evening and "stocked up" just in case the big storm came rolling in.

Monday, January 16:

A scheduled day off school, perfect for playing in the new-fallen snow!  Friends came over and began the steady process of playing in the snow, coming in wet to warm up, drinking hot cocoa and eating.  Rinse and repeat.  And repeat.  And repeat.  The "stocking up" I did the evening before?  I meant it to stock us for more than one day.

Notice my sweet weeping pussy-willow tree behind the kids?  Stay tuned.

Alex was suppose to play in a Martin Luther King event at Washington Center.  Music had been written specifically for this event for an octet.  The event was cancelled due to the weather...very disappointing.

Tuesday, January 17:

School closed!  More snow fun!  Time to leisurely drink my coffee and stare at the beautiful snow!  More wet clothes, more snow fun, more cocoa drinking, more eating.  And repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

Wednesday, January 18:

Holy cow!  It REALLY snowed overnight!  We ended up with 14 inches of beautifully insulating snow, turning our world into a winter wonderland.  Snowed in for real now.  School closed again, even Brad's office was closed to patients.  He worked from home while the kids played and played and played.  And I leisurely drank my coffee, did laundry and laundry and laundry, enjoyed watching all the beauty.

And then in the middle of the night???  Poof, flash, BANG!, and then total silence.  No power.  We snuggled deeper into the covers and looked forward to the power coming back on in a matter of hours.  Little did we know...

Thursday, January 19:

Powerless.  Schools closed throughout Western Washington.  Brad had to creep his way, slowly through the icy streets, to get to his office.  They had power, fortunately, so patient treatment could resume.  Lots of work for an IT guy during a week of power surges and phone outages.  We missed him and wanted him home to enjoy the snow.  He left work at 5:00 and said he would bring home dinner to our powerless home.  He made it home at 7:45.  Yeah, apparently when most of the county is out of power everyone has the same need to flock to the few businesses that have power.  A burger and fries has never tasted so good as it did sitting on a big blanket in the middle of the floor by candlelight, with the gas fireplace blazing away.

We played "Words With Friends" the old-fashioned way.  (Scrabble).  Lots of games.  Lots of reading.  LOTS of sitting and staring out the window for me.  I found myself being very much like a cat.  I just got absorbed in the beauty of this, and watching the quiet world was so peaceful.

The kids bickered a lot, got snippy with each other.  Everyone felt a bit out of sorts.

Friday, January 20:

Powerless.  Schools still closed.  Brad off to work.  First thing in the morning, I layed down the law with the kids.  There would be no bickering on this day.  We would all be in too close of quarters to have any of that going on.  And they really settled in nicely.  I spent the morning taking down the Christmas tree (I know, it's a long story).  Alex brought in a big box of Legos and the kids played with Legos for HOURS.  Oh, a sweet flashback indeed.  They were so funny, and we laughed and had a great day.  Brad gave up at work and came home about 3:00.

This is the day the lack of vacuuming drove me nuts.  I vacuum everyday.  It's one of those instantaneously gratifying jobs that just feels necessary.  And in taking down the Christmas tree, I had made a huge mess with artificial fir needles.  And I was powerless to clean them from my carpet.  Pun intended.  I even tried to sweep the carpet, but to no avail.

And Alex began to master the art of cooking on a single propane burner.  He first used it to boil water in the tea kettle so I could have something close to coffee and they could have their dwindling supply of hot cocoa.  Then he made Cream of Wheat, which I adore so much.  I don't know if I have ever talked about it here, but Cream of Wheat is one of my very favorite foods.  I've become very affectionate with it during my recent health chaos.  It's one of the only foods that I could reliably eat.  Anyway, Alex, in an effort to make the water boil faster, added too much salt to the water, so it turned out nearly inedible although he loved it.  Of course he did.  Then he progressed to frozen chicken patties.  Then stir-fried peppers and onions.  Then he attempted to "cook" frozen cookie dough in a frying pan.  They were more like fried cookies, and not good at all, but I love him for trying!

a valiant cookie effort!

And, oh, did it get icy and icky.  Overnight, so many trees and branches just couldn't take the weight of the snow.  And throw in a little wind to the mix...oh, what a mess:

Yeah, we have a bit of clean-up to do.

And this is my beloved weeping pussy-willow tree from an earlier picture. Everything else in this corner sprang back up after the weight of the snow was gone, but not Ms. Pussy-Willow.  Brad has straightened her and we'll stake her up and see if she can survive.  She even has tiny little pussy-willows defiantly opening on her branches.  Fingers crossed.

On this day, Brenna jumped at an invitation to go stay with a friend whose power had been restored.  We were a bit envious of the warm dinner and warm house and movie-watching and warm bed.  Alex and Beth had a bit of boredom settle in once darkness descended on the house.  Games no longer held any appeal.  So they decided to sit in the van with the portable DVD player plugged in and watch a little Tom and Jerry.  Yeah, this is how the Carlsons find entertainment in a power outage:

We went to bed a bit chilly.  Warm and cozy under the covers, but you could feel the stinging cold on the tip of your nose.  The house hit 52 degrees.

Saturday, January 21:

The great warm-up began.  Rain moved in.  Cold, cold, cold and windy.  But the snow was falling off the trees in BIG chunks.  No playing out in the snow today, too dangerous with all the falling ice and snow.  And then, behold:

So thankful for these crews.  What a job this week has brought them!  I was giddy with hope and joy when I saw this truck out there.  And then they left.  I became a little discouraged, but still knowing we had it easy compared to some.  Brad and the kids packed up some video games and a movie and headed off to Brad's office to pass a couple hours.  I ventured out for the first time and went to get my haircut.  And, of course, I returned from my haircut to what???  POWER!!!!  Oh, was I a happy girl.  I didn't even go further than the entryway.  I set my purse down right there, got the vacuum cleaner and began vacuuming my house.  And then I started the laundry.  Oh, the glorious sound of a washing machine, a dryer, a vacuum.  I was not meant to live like Laura Ingalls.  No I was not.

Monday, January 23:

Back to school, with a 2-hour delay.  Our building?  NO HEAT, no phones.  The heat was restored just after noon, and it slowly warmed.  The phones will be out awhile, waiting on some part that blew out when the power came on.   Still a couple rooms in our building with no heat, so the portable heaters are keeping us warmed.  I thought it was kind of nice to have an altered day for the first day back, ease back in, let the kids get their excitement out.  I lost track of how many kids said, "We had a huge storm last week!"  "We got a lot of snow!"  "Did you know we lost power????"  It was all breaking news to them.

I work with two people who just go their power back on, bless them.  They have generators, but still.  Bless 'em.

Today was the first day we could let the kids outside, in a limited area.  Snow sliding off the roof kept them totally in Monday and Tuesday.  A partially fallen backstop, massive tree limbs down, and a lot of snow now keeps them limited to a small area.  The natives are getting restless.  The energy is building.  They are like race horses loaded into the chute before a race.  Antsy and ready to go.

Now just the clean-up is left.  This weekend will bring lots of outdoor bonding time for this family, especially as we try to limit Brad.  Oh, yeah...Tuesday he messed up his shoulder shoveling snow at work.  Speaking of a race horse loaded into a chute...yeah, he doesn't easily take it easy.

Oh, my.  I think I need to go ice my fingers after typing all those words.  That's a bit too much for one post.  But ah, it feels good to get just a regular 'ole post on here!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Back To "Normal" A Day At A Time

Snow day #2, and officially snowed in.  Just for fun, me who does NOT drive in the snow, decided to see what it felt like to back-plow my van out of the garage through 14 inches of snow.  It was actually fun, the whole 3 feet I drove before chickening out and pulling back in.  Love the snowed-in feeling though.  Love.  It.  Hubby's working from home, the kids and friends filling the house and emptying my fridge.  Cozy, cozy, cozy.

And a lot of time to sit with my hot coffee and stare at the beautiful trees, heavy with snow, watching the dog try to forge a path to his potty spot, the cat try to make himself skinny enough to fit down the narrow snow-free path along the house.  And in my staring at all the beauty around me, time to reflect on my last month.

What a doozy.  To say my world was turned upside down for a time would be very accurate.  Just in the last week I've come to a place where I can start processing it, trying to sort it out and make sense of it.  I asked Brad recently, "What happened to me??"  I don't have all the answers, but the bottom line is I am getting better, a day at a time.  I'm creeping back to my normal.  If I compare myself today to me 3 weeks ago?  Drastically, radically better.  If I compare myself to me 2 months ago?  Not quite there yet.  But I'm believing I will get there soon. 

"Patient in affliction"?  Trying.  Patience has never been my strength, especially with myself.  "Joyful in hope"??  That's returning.  The joy is 95% back.  "Faithful in prayer"?  Oh, yes.  Pleading, begging prayers that were sometimes just one word:  "Jesus".  Or "please".  Or even "huh-uh".  The beautiful thing is that He knew the meaning of everything I uttered in my bound state. 

And the equally beautiful thing was the people who prayed on my behalf.  Friends who lovingly, attentively, and faithfully supported me in the simplest of ways.  They were a lifeline. To be able to send a simple text: "I'm really struggling," and that's all I needed to say. 

And my sweet husband, who took such gentle care of me, who was so patient with me.  The thing I find most comforting in this world, hugging my husband, I couldn't do.  It makes no sense, but it felt suffocating, like my insides were even tighter, like I couldn't take a breath.  And he understood.  I wanted him with me, I needed him with me, and yet he was helpless to make it better.  And yet his simple presence, his prayers whispered over me, his patient presence was my anchor.

And my kids were sweetly understanding, even while not understanding.  They were patient, encouraging, loving, kind...I hate that they had to be all that, but I'm so proud of them for treating me with such gentleness when I needed it.  They are good people.

I don't even know how much I want to share on here.  I've struggled with not mentioning it, or telling it all.  But to just hop back on and ignore such an impactful time in my life seems so shallow and insincere.  Do I share everything about my life on this blog?  Absolutely not.  But do I write this as a scrapbook of sorts of my life?  Yes.  And I do want to remember this time, for me.  I want to continue to figure this out and part of that for me is being able to reflect and process it.

It is such a long, tangled story.  The bottom line is I have been deeply struggling with anxiety.  And by anxiety, I don't mean being a little worried.  I mean paralyzing, heart-racing, ending up in the E.R. anxiety.  Medicated to get through the day anxiety.  Losing 8 pounds (over Christmas!!) anxiety.  (I've gained back 4, not to worry.)

My brother kindly analyzed me and I think really accurately diagnosed a root of this, and I know I have a strong family history of anxiety issues.  Maybe I'll get into my feelings of the "why", maybe I won't.  But for now, I'm unashamedly taking medication, getting lots of vitamins, getting my exercise, eating healthy...approaching this from every possible angle.  I don't ever, EVER, want to go through what I've been through again.  The compassion I feel for those who feel this or have felt it brings tears to my eyes instantly.  It's a horrible way to live, and I don't wish it for anyone.  If you read this and have no understanding of what I'm talking about or think it's "all in your head", give a little prayer of thanks that you have no understanding of it.

To those sweet people who loved and prayed me through this, I love you all right back, and I have prayed many times that the Lord would count every word of prayer said for me and bless you richly.  I have learned a lot about who my friends are and how to be a friend to someone in need.  I am so very grateful for each and every prayer, text, phone call, email...when I say they were a lifeline I really mean it.

That's enough for now.  I'm done with this subject today and going to enjoy my family and the peaceful beauty around me.

"He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him..."
Isaiah 26:3

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Saying Goodbye To 2011

Well, well.  I am sitting here on the 1st day of 2012, working hard at getting myself back to being myself, and decided that before it gets too further I should do my 2011 look back.

With the exception of the last two weeks, this has been a great, great year.  These last 2 weeks?  They've been tough.  And I do not like to go out on a tough note.  I've always tended to evaluate everything based on how I finish it, but I can't do that with this year.  More on all that another time, but I'm not going to count the last 2 weeks in my reflection of the year.  It would warp the data considerably.

But 2011?  It was a good year.  It was a year of shifting seasons, a year of confidence-growing, a year of contentment.  Some years I've been eager to kick to the curb, some years I'm sad that they are ending.  This year?  Neither.  Thankful for it, glad it was here, and glad that we get to start a brand new one. 

Without further ado, here's my look back:

1.  What did you do in 2011 that you had never done before?

Well, that's an easy one.  I ran that pesky half-marathon!  I broke through that glass ceiling I had placed over my head all these years!  One of the best parts of that was all the training I did with Brad.  He was such an encourager and it was a tremendous experience doing that with him.  And the friends that encouraged me through the training, and the ones who came out and cheered me on that day???  Their support meant the world to me.

This is what I looked like after my first "long" training run!

And this is after running 2 hours and 4 minutes in pouring rain!

2.  Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions and will you make more this year?

Well, my answer to this is probably going to be the same every year.  I'm not big into "resolutions".  I'm big into goals, which I guess are pretty similar.  But only on January 1st?  Nah.  I understand it's a good time to assess and re-think and have fresh starts and all, but really this is an on-going thing for me.

3.  Did anyone close to you give birth?


4.  Did anyone close to you die?

Not personally close.  I watched people I care for say goodbyes, and that always breaks my heart.

5.  What places have you visited this year?

Well, we made our annual trip to Chelan, this year staying in Manson ~ one of the most delightful weeks.  And Brad and I went to Portland for our anniversary.

6.  What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

Once again, this makes me go "hmmmm".  I know I need to get plugged back in to a Bible  study group.  Once I went back to work, my morning choice was gone, and evenings are just so jam-packed.  Thinking of how to make this happen!

7.  What date in 2011 will be etched in your mind and why?

More than actual dates, there are moments:  Beth's cheer squad placing 1st at their competition, Alex taking 3rd in state for bassoon, Brenna performing for the last time with her cheer squad (and taking 3rd place!), watching Alex play at Benaroya Hall with the All-Northwest group, watching Brad receive his employee of the year award, finishing the half marathon, to name a few.

8.  What was your biggest achievement in 2011?

I would have to say the aforementioned half marathon.  All my life, there are things that I've said, "I could never do that!".  It was almost an instinctual response to something challenging.  And even though I had run for a long time, it took me a long time to run a 5k in public, then a 10K at the end of 2010, and then finally, something I truly didn't know if I could do: the half marathon.  The achievement was much more than the 13.1 miles:  it was in quieting the voice that had so long said, "I could never...".
9.  Did you suffer any illness or injury in 2011?

Yes, and I'm not done with it.  And I'm not happy with it.  It's ending soon, in Jesus' name!  More on that another time.

10.  What was the best thing you bought?

Oh, dear.  That's always a tough one.  I do love the new tile we bought for our entryway, and the closet organizer that started the whole floor make over.  And I loooove the new garage door that Brad bought!  And I love my new Gigi Hill bag that I bought myself.

11.  Where did most of your money go?

Mouths and music.

12.  What song will remind you most of 2011?

Oh, goodness.  "Bring Night" by Sia, my girls' competition song that I listened to enough to last a lifetime, thank you very much.  "A Shield About Me", a piano version has been soothing to me lately.  I don't know if it will remind me most of 2011, but of this ending portion of it, yes.

13.  What do you wish you would have done more of in 2011?

Being purposefully still.

14.  What do you wish you would have done less of in 2011?

Trying to figure out people who perplex me.  And assuming that it's me.  Sometimes it really is them.

15.  What was your favorite tv program?

I love The Middle and Modern Family, and always love House Hunters, especially the international episodes.  And I'm quite smitten with The Duggars.  I initially watched them and found things kinda funny and quirky, now I find it refreshing and endearing. (Once I mute the intro of the mom introducing all her kids, beginning with her wonderful husband.)

16.  What was the best book you read in 2011?

Well, does a cookbook count??  I loved reading (yes, I read cookbooks!) The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  She did a fun job of weaving her story in with her recipes, and it's just as much fun to read as her blog.  And from there, my disheveled mind cannot remember any others.

17.  What was your favorite movie of the year?

The Help.  Hands-down, no contest, without a doubt.  The Help.

18.  What did you do on your birthday this year and how old were you?

I turned 42 this year, and I know we had 3 football games that day, and I remember that it was an overall disappointing birthday.  Kind of an over-looked day.  Aw, well.  They can't all be grand!

19.  What political issue stirred you the most this year?

Oh, my.  A lot to be stirred by this year.  The whole "Occupy (  )" thing I could go on and on about but won't.  So many international issues...all our troops "coming home" but not really...so many.  And the issue of education hits very close to our home and our bottom dollar, with me employed by the public schools and a child just over one year away from college...eek. The changes are a bit frightening.

20.  Who was the best new person you met this year?

That would have to be the sweet Stacy!  She is the mom of one of my daughter's best friends, and our relationship got rollin' when she innocently offered "any help" with the cheer season!  She not only made my life way easier in the whole coaching area, but she has become a dear friend who is such a joy to be around!

sadly, this is the best picture I could find of us, other than the one of her sitting in my lap crying after our girls won! oh - and she's a brunette now! ;)

Okay, 2011.  You've been good to me.  You've brought lots of laughter, joy, and celebration to our home and our lives.  It's been a pleasure knowing you.

And for 2012?  I'm trusting for health and wholeness and laughter and joy and love and direction and guidance and peace.  All brought to us by our loving Father who orders all our days.  He's in the midst of each one, and there is great peace in that.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13