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Saturday, November 5, 2011

I haven't forgotten you!

Okay, I've been completely neglecting my blog, and I'm sorry!

Apparently, my life wasn't nearly busy enough, so I'm taking on a new challenge: NaNoWriMo!  That's right, I'm writing an entire 50,000 word novel this month.  And to be honest, I'm kind of loving it!  Not just the pressure to write, write, write (though that's kinda fun), but also the story itself! I'm enjoying the intricacies of creating an entire story comprised of people who exist only inside my own head.  I'm actually going to miss this when the month is over, and I probably won't know what do with myself.  Maybe I can find another "excuse" to write daily even after November is gone. ;-)

I haven't decided yet if I'm going to post the synopsis of my novel onto my blog, or if I'll share any writing excerpts.  There IS a way to get to read the entire finished product, even if it's completely terrible dreck - I will be sharing it in its entirety with anyone who donates to the OLL fundraiser - but other than that, I can't decide how much (if any) should be made public.

Kati's OLL Fundraising Page

In the meantime, I'll appreciate anyone who wants to cheer me on!  I am supposed to write 1667 words a day, on average.  Yesterday I got none, but today I wrote 4000, so I think it's gonna even out. I have to say that my hubby has been terrifically supportive, even more than I had expected him to be!  I am so grateful for my amazing man who may not always understand why I feel the need to do some crazy things, but at least understands that I DO need to, and pushes me to pursue it.  Also thankful for my BFFFE Dawn, the only person with an all-access pass to the entire story AS it is being written.  Her support and encouragement is priceless!

Okay, that's it for tonight! I'll post again soon!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October

 It's somewhat ironic that Fall is my favorite season and that typically this is my favorite time of the year - but I cannot stand October. 

The first week of October always floods me with tons of painful memories. It has, historically, been a very bad month for my family.


On October 5, 2000 my biological father Dan Walker and my 19 year old sister Kara were murdered by Daniel Renwick in Tucson, AZ.  (Some may remember that he escaped from prison last summer but he was brought back into custody). 

The night before he died, my father sent me a message on e-circles saying that he loved me and was proud of me.  I can't tell you how I treasure those words, to this day. I also remember that I didn't reply - I was tired and was going to "do it tomorrow."

I didn't grow up with him in my life (my mother wouldn't allow him to have anything to do with me until I turned 18), and while I adore my adoptive father and completely consider him my Daddy, there was always a part of "me" that was missing, and I didn't discover what it was until I met Dan and my sisters and brother (they are my half-siblings but I don't make that distinction in my heart. Mike, Kara and Melissa are my siblings, I don't care that we have different mothers).

So when Dan and Kara were tragically, senselessly taken from us, I lost some of myself.  Some of that new identity I'd found only 8 years before.  I grieved not only for their loss, but for the lost time I'd been cheated out of, a lifetime of love and memories I'd never know.  I grieved for my brother and his lost time with his Dad.  I grieved for Kara's son, only 15 months old, who'd lost his mother for no reason. I grieved for my baby sister, my M'issa - the little Daddy's Girl who was less than 2 weeks shy of her 16th birthday.  In those dark days after this tragedy, I sort of became protective of M'issa, I wanted to shield her from ever getting hurt again, by anything or anyone...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

But I couldn't shield her from another October. 

Six years later, so much had happened, we'd lived so many different places, but by 2006, my family was living in Washington state, and so was Melissa and her family.  I had my sister! We hadn't grown up together, but we were forging a closeness and a bond that we both needed on some level, and I just loved it. 

In August of 2006, I was in the delivery room as she gave birth to my beautiful and perfect niece Kyerra.  It was the only birth I've ever witnessed.  And OH I took so many pictures of her in her young life! I used to joke that she'd never recognize me without my camera in front of my face.
On October 5th, 6 years and 1 day after I'd been awakened by a 6 AM phone call to tell me that Dan and Kara were dead, I received another 6 AM phone call, this time by a fire fighter.  I still remember his words "your sister is okay, but her baby isn't.  The baby is dead.  Your sister is going to need you."

SIDS.
 
That beautiful, perfect, precious little darling was gone.  I got my kids off to school without telling them, I couldn't tell them yet.  And then I drove to my sister's house - quite literally the longest drive of my life.  She was still there, laying on the bed, she looked like she was sleeping.  Somehow I ended up alone in the room with her, holding her in my arms, crying, begging God to let her take a breath, to cry, to move. 

The last time I saw Kyerra alive was just 2 days before.  She had a slight cold and had just gotten her 2 month shots.  My sister came to get her boys and I peeked in on our little angel and she was asleep in her carseat.  I didn't want to disturb her, so I didn't unbuckle her, didn't hold her.  I just gave her a tiny kiss on her on nose.  I never suspected that the next time I'd hold her, she'd be lifeless.

I watched my sister go to a dark and frightening place and I fought so hard to be strong for her that I didn't realize that *I* was sinking into a dark and frightening place as well, a place I would live for nearly 2 years before I could see the sun again.  I am grateful for the relationship she and I have, and I'm thankful that we both have our faith and the love and strength of our family to carry us through.  But we've had enough tragedy to last a lifetime, and I pray that they're over now.

I know I cannot dwell in the past, and I really don't most of the time.  I remember the good things and not the bad 98% of the time, and I don't focus on negatives.  But the first week of October HURTS. It hurts on a level I can't fully understand or explain.  And even though I'm not a superstitious person, I have to admit I get a little nervous this time of the year.  I hold my kids a little tighter, I take a deep breath before I answer the phone or the door, and I make sure the people in my life know I love them.  I know how quickly the chance to do so can be lost.

Love people NOW, while you still have the chance.  Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why is it so hard to do the right thing?

Specifically, why do I keep sabotaging myself?

I know that since going gluten-free, I've done my body a lot of good.  I have seen differences in my boys, too, but just speaking for myself I know it's been amazing.  I have felt better in the past few months than I have in years.  I've gotten off all my prescription meds and have had more energy and less achy-ness than I've had since I was 18.   I KNOW that eating right and exercising regularly helps, and I know that making the choice to eat natural and gluten free had helped me tremendously.

So, why do I cheat on the diet?  Is it because I know it won't KILL me?  I think it is.  I know my life doesn't depend on my sticking to it, so my willpower isn't as strong as it needs to be.  I make excuses in my head like "oh, it's just this once...", or "well, it's a special occasion"... or (my favorite) "I've already blown it for this week, so might as well."  And I don't think about the consequences.  I don't think about the fact that I am gonna pay for it later.  Yes, that slice of "real pizza" is so tempting, but it'll take me 2-3 minutes to eat it.  It's going to take me 2 or 3 DAYS to stop hurting all over and feeling like I'm in a half-asleep fog.

Sometimes it's that the food is good, and it's been awhile, and I just want it.  Sometimes, I just can't say no to my family or friends.  Sometimes I don't want people making a fuss or making "special food" for me, so I keep my mouth shut.  Sometimes I'm just lazy, or tired from a busy day, and grabbing a pizza or a burger is sooo much easier than going home and cooking something.  But whatever my reason/excuse/justification might be, the fact is that the only one it hurts is ME.  A few days of fun and "pigging out" has its consequences.

Right now I'm fighting my way through one of the worst fibro flares I've had all year.  I'm so sleepy and my joints all ache.  I feel heavy and bloated and disconnected.  I can't concentrate on anything, and just all over don't feel good.  And I  know why.  I know it's because it was my birthday and I went crazy. Then it was my friend's birthday and I went crazy again.  And it all made sense in my mind.  It still does, I just wanted to have "fun" and be like a regular person.  And it sure did make my family happy to get to eat whatever they wanted.  But now I am paying for it. I can only blame myself - I'm an adult and I can certainly say no.  Is it worth it? I don't really know.  Right now it doesn't feel like it is, but I know myself and I know the next time a special occasion comes up, I'm going to be just as likely to say "okay, just this once."

I don't know what it's going to take for me to decide that "just this once" is one time too many.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Post

It seems almost obligatory...if you have a blog, you pretty much have to post about 9/11 on the 10 year anniversary.  I get it.  We can never forget, should never forget, MUST never forget.  I know I never will, I still cry every single time I think about that day.

While I've spent a lot of today thinking about that day, I realize that I actually thought about TODAY, 10 years ago.  I did.  Amidst all the horror and fear and confusion, I remember asking myself what our nation (and world) would be like in 10 years.  Would we find those responsible quickly? Would we have achieved a sense of peace and security again? Would we even still exist, or would an even bigger attack come to destroy us all?  I didn't know.  But I wondered.

So the question most people ask is "where were you?" What they're really asking is "do you still remember every detail of that day more clearly than you do yesterday?" For me, the answer is yes.  I had two toddlers at the time, and basically lived in a state of perpetual exhaustion.  We lived in Harker Heights, TX.  Mike worked at Fort Hood.  I woke up that Tuesday morning and (as I did every day) turned on the TV immediately.  My oldest is autistic and he had his TV routine.  Bear in the Big Blue House was first up, then Elmo, then of course The Price is Right.  It was one minute before 8 AM (central time), and when the TV came on, it was still ABC.  As I reached over to change the channel for Noah, I heard the announcer saying something about a plane crash in NYC, and I flipped back to the channel just to see.  While I stood there watching, thinking how terrible it seemed and hoping they would get everyone out quickly, the 2nd plane hit.  That's not something I will ever forget seeing.  That was the moment my entire world shifted on its axis, everything stopped making sense, and I knew something horrible had happened.  I knew nothing would ever be the same again.  I knew *I* would never be the same again.

I stood in the living room for the longest time.  I couldn't even sit. I just stood there. I don't think I moved for an hour.  The boys just ran circles around me, and the next thing I knew, I was sitting on the floor holding them and weeping.  Trying to call Mike, and my friends.  At some point, I made my way to the computer and found some sense of community in an email group I was on, and a messageboard I frequent.  All the while trying to understand, trying to make sense.  Trying to imagine what the world would be like tomorrow, next year, in 10 years.  I didn't know there would be 2 wars to come out of this.  I didn't know that my husband would be looking at his 4th deployment (though I did know he'd be sent SOMEWHERE and that his military life would change drastically).  I didn't know if another attack would come, if we were safe.  If we'd ever feel safe again.

I also didn't imagine that on the 10 year anniversary of that horrible day, that I would be teaching 18 children at church about it.  That we would discuss the country's natural reactions immediately after that day (fear, anger, hate, mistrust, etc).  And that we would be discussing God's word and what He wants US to focus on.  I read them Psalm 46 (same one President Obama shared at the 9/11 tribute today), and we agreed that we need to LOVE one another, love our neighbors  -ALL our neighbors.  That we need to commit to HELPING each other, every day.  We discussed the everyday citizens who were heroes that day.  Of course the military, police, firefighters, medical workers, etc are all heroes we should always give thanks for, but there were people who were just going about their everyday lives, saw a need, and met that need.  That's how we should be ALWAYS. September 11, 2001 put the UNITY in community. And we talked about the JOY we should walk in, every day.  It's not always easy, but it's necessary.

Love, joy, unity, helpfulness - those are the ways we should let ourselves be changed by tragedy.  Bitterness, fear, hate...that just lets the terrorists win.  Let's not ever let them win, let's honor the memories of our dead by living our lives well, and always striving to make this world a better place.



Friday, September 9, 2011

I promised I'd post about my birthday!

So, my birthday was last weekend, and it was GREAT!  Didn't turn out to be anything like I expected, but it was awesome and showed me how great life can be when you throw out "plans" and just make your own fun!

Finances didn't work out in our favor, so the things Mike had planned (like taking me out to my favorite restaurant or getting me a big gift) weren't going to happen.   But I still got gifts.  Mike and Noah got me candy, Nathan got me my favorite Angry Bird, a friend gave me the most unique and awesome bread knife I've ever seen, another friend gave me PERFECT socks, another a PRINCESS CUPPYCAKE SCENTSY WARMER (seriously, could you get more perfect?) and earrings from another. I even got a collection of books from a lady at our church.  Each of those gifts were meaningful and special, as were the birthday cards I received (including one from my grandma, which meant a lot to me, as she's not known for sending them, lol). Tons of well-wishes on facebook and a few text messages and phone calls made me smile, too.

On my actual birthday, after church my friend kidnapped me and took me to Starbucks. After that, we went to Goodwill and put on a hideously hilarious fashion show.  Because I value my life, I am not posting pictures from that here, but I will say we laughed A LOT and drew a bit of a crowd as we modeled the worst things we could find. While we were gone, Mike and the boys cleaned the house - BONUS!  Then we went back to her house and ate burgers and played a game and laughed all night.  It was AWESOME!

The next day (Labor Day), another friend took us out to The Crab Shack for lunch and then we went to the beach. A great time was had by all until the waves attempted to kill me (did you know that if there's a hurricane in the Atlantic that the waves and riptides on the East Coast get stronger and more dangerous? This is good information to have.  I still have "beach rash" down my back).  That evening we cooked out and some other friends came over for game night (I'm addicted to game nights).  As a side note, if you've never played Quelf, you need it.  It's hysterical.

So yeah, that was my birthday weekend.  It was amazing.  I am blessed with wonderful friends and family, and this weekend was just a reminder of that.  I don't need anything fancy or a lot of money spent on me, I just need love and laughter and fun.  Also, I'm not getting anywhere near my scale this week. ;-)



Saturday, September 3, 2011

Because I love you all...

...I'm sharing an amazing recipe with you!

My friend Susan brought this dessert to the Court of Honor last week, and it was a HUMONGOUS hit.  Honestly, it's so simple but it's goooooood.  It is NOT gluten-free, low-carb, low-fat, low-sugar, or anything people should eat everyday, but if you want a decadent and delicious dessert, look no further!


Susan's Sopapilla Cheesecake!



Oh yeah, and the boys earned several merit badges & Nathan earned his Tenderfoot rank. Very proud. :)



And if you're wondering about that crazy look on Nathan's face, let's just say he was a bit sugared-up...



Have a great Labor Day weekend, y'all!  I'm sure I'll post again in the next few days (if anything blog-worthy happens on my birthday, that is)!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

BACK TO SCHOOL!

Oh happy day, school is back in session!
 
It was a nice summer, but a crazy and chaotic one.  It was fun, but loooonnnngggggg...I swear July lasted a year. Now school is back in and I'm thrilled and excited.  Noah and I will be embarking on a new adventure together, I'm going to be facing some new challenges and responsibilities, and Nathan is already settling into a groove and enjoying the 6th grade.

Nathan is in band again this year, but is going to stay out of chorus this time.  I think this was a mature choice he made, as he was really overwhelmed last year. He's also in the gifted program and doesn't need to push himself too hard right now.  Both boys are also in Scouts and have a lot of responsibilities and activities there, plus they both have bowling league and are involved in a youth ministry.

Noah is in 8th grade now and is officially "homeschooling".  Last year he did K-12, which is a good program but wasn't a good fit for him.  He seems really happy and optimistic with our program, and isn't stressing himself out or getting upset or overwhelmed, which is really what he needs. He really loves that we can do fun activities for P.E., like an hour at the pool or the Wii Fit.   We've also joined a homeschool co-op and I think it's going to be great for both of us.  We meet one day a week, I get to teach one class and help with another one, and Noah gets to take several classes that he's interested in as well.  Also, he is currently a quartermaster in his Scout troop. He's come such a long way, I'm really proud of him.

In addition to teaching at the co-op, I've also become the committee chairperson for our Scout troop, and continue to lead the Mpact Girls ministry at our church. So between that, bowling, homeschooling Noah, babysitting after school every day, and being a full-time college student myself, I think I'm busy enough right now. :)  I'm also going to be joining the PTA at Nathan's school, of course.  I do need to get back on some sort of a cleaning schedule though, my house seems to keep getting completely out of my control!  I also need to learn to take advantage of my "free time" and do some pre-cooking, baking, soaking beans, etc.  Once Noah and I have settled into a good daily routine, I'll be better able to manage my time. 

I have some recipes to share and maybe a few funny stories and photos as well. Hopefully I'll have more time to blog more often!