Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas program

A couple more videos!

Xavier's preschool class participated in the church's Sunday school program and had a few songs to sing.

Here's the boys practicing at home:

(they are choosing to clean, not being forced to! I need some kids cleaning stuff, huh?!)

And here he is at the real deal, acting as if he had never heard the song before and he had to follow all the other kids. Oh well...better than last year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ruffer pum pum

My boys are OBSESSED with the little drummer boy this (usually Jars of Clay version), book, movie, etc.

Watch for yourself...

(Sorry about the blinding glare off of Jordan's bare skin...his mommy greases him up after bath time because of his eczema :)

And this is how Jordan dances...

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Just made these:

for my MOPS meeting on Tuesday and Xavier's preschool teacher on Wednesday.

I have the right amount for both, so I most withstand temptation now!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Random Thoughts...Christmas edition

1. So we never did Santa Claus growing up. As in I never believed in him. We have made no effort to explain Santa to Xavier and he currently refers to him as NOAH. :) I have not tried to correct him.

Tonight when Matt put him to bed, he wanted to read Noah's Ark in his Jesus Storybook Bible...just getting in the holiday spirit, I suppose.

2. Santa Claus is not real. But if he was, he could not come down my parents' chimney because they had a new cap put on it. You know, so wild animals couldn't get in their house via the chimney.

But apparently that new cap trapped one rather large wild animal in their chimney instead, so he came out to play a few days later. Mr. Raccoon was reportedly 2 feet long and trying to scratch his way into an upstairs bedroom at 2:30 am this morning. The rest of the day involved missing church to deal with said wild beast, calling animal contraol, and cleaning up the huge mess he left behind.

3. This is what I want to get my dad for Christmas. If I only was $34 richer...

4. Our Christmas tree currently only has shatterproof red balls on it and they are all located on the northern half of the tree. Quite beautiful if I do say so myself...

5. I usually have my house fully decorated by the end of Thanksgiving break, but I'm moving more slowly this year. We'll see if anything else actually makes its way out of the boxes.

6. I'm considering putting battery powered Christmas lights on my running stroller. Is that strange?

7. We have continued to sing "Happy Birthday to Jesus" every night as we blow out our Advent wreath candle. Thanks for the new tradition, Xavier!

8. Today was my last photo shoot before Christmas/the end of the year. Yay...I survived. Now a bit more editing and card designing to do...or a lot.

9. When I stay up really late editing, I sometimes sleep on the couch so I don't wake Matt up. And I leave the Christmas tree on. Love it...

10. Can't find all of my Christmas music and it's driving me crazy. At least I have boys to sing for me. Xavier has been singing "Prepare your hearts, Oh joy, joy..." (learned it in preschool). They are singing in church a week from today, so it will be interesting to see how he responds. Please note last year's "singing" at MOPS.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Tree

We've had the same 4 foot tall Christmas tree for quite some years now and I thought it looked pretty dinky in our house. It was time for a bigger one! So last night I ran out and bought one and set it up (minus any decorations) to surprise the boys in the morning.

And...this is their reactions!

Xavier came down first with Daddy. The quality is horrible because there were no lights on besides the tree and it was still dark outside.

Next came Jordan. Matt is wearing a new hat if that explains anything...

A bit disappointing, eh?

Monday, November 29, 2010

My kids eat spinach for breakfast...

I discovered a month or so ago that if you put spinach in a smoothie that has blueberries in it, it is virtually undetectable. We make a smoothie most mornings and here is one basic recipe (and I use the word "recipe" quite loosely):

blueberries (all fruit is frozen)
green tea or juice or even Crystal Light lemonade
vanilla yogurt

Just don't try the spinach without the blueberries there to mask it!

Hmmmm...I wonder if we could use this trick to get Aunt Jamie to eat vegetables??? That might be the true test! ;)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

On my mind...a random list of ten.

1. Due to the allergy situation in our household, I’ve given up peanut butter. I like peanut butter. This makes me sad. I need ideas for new quick lunches.

2. We’ve started reading packages much more closely and peanuts (or traces thereof) are in everything. I usually buy off brand or Aldi brand for almost everything. It seems from my package reading that the off brands are much more likely to have traces of peanuts in them. For example, Aldi brand dried cranberries are made on equipment that may also be used for peanuts, but Oceanspray is not. Target brand Teddy Grahams may contain peanuts, but name brand does not. This is not good news. We don’t have money to buy name brand of everything and I don’t have time to coupon clip to any large degree. Apparently, having allergies is expensive.

3. My mom bought me a copy of Dobson’s Bringing Up Boys when we were Black Friday shopping together. I read the first chapter today where he describes what boys are like. I suppose this was intended to make me feel better because my boys are “normal,” but instead I felt a bit depressed…you mean they are not going to grow out of this crazy behavior?? Perhaps I should read past halfway through Chapter 2 before getting too depressed though.

4. I’m thinking about joining a gym. And then I remembered that Jordan can’t bear to be separated from his mommy and I’m not sure what would happen. I don’t think I could get much of a workout in if they call me back after he’s been crying for 10 minutes. He’s a little spoiled with mommy staying at home and really only having been left with Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Erica, Uncle Jon, Aunt Jamie, etc.

5. Speaking of leaving my kids with Grandma, Grandpa, and Erica…Matt and I went on a date on Friday night and saw the movie Today’s Special. It was good. It made us hungry. So then we ate Indian food at 9:30 at night. Yum.

6. I dug the Advent wreath out of the Christmas decorations tonight, put the new candles in, lit the first one, and THEN opened up the devotional. Which read December 1st. Darn. So I told Xavier that we would sing a song instead of reading a devotion. And what do you think he wanted to sing? Yes, Happy Birthday. To Jesus. It’s kind of appropriate though considering he celebrates everyone’s birthday for about a month leading up to it. So maybe we’ll sing Happy Birthday to Jesus every night before we blow out the candles. :)

7. Xavier was in his room for a timeout yesterday. When he got out of timeout, he asked Matt if he was ready to say he was sorry. When Matt asked him why he needed to say he was sorry, Xavier replied—for not coming to get me.

8. I’m probably going to run the Frostbite Series of races that the St. Louis Track Club puts on during December-February. I’m trying to decide between the long set of races (12K up to half marathon) and the short set of races (3K up to 4 miles). I need to decide quite soon because I either need to start running much longer or much faster in my workouts. Hmmmm...

9. Jordan refuses to eat meat for the most part. He’s had very small quantities of meat a couple of times in some soup (chicken) and one pizza (ham). But I seriously can’t remember him ever just eating a piece of meat before. Tonight he did for the first time. And it was….a hot dog. Great. So healthy and nutritious.

10. We watched the movie Babies this weekend with our kids around. Their reactions? Xavier said about forty times—“What are those babies doing?!” and Jordan wanted mama milk after watching…

Saturday, November 27, 2010


If you are looking for a unique gift to give this Christmas, I encourage you to check out, where all of the gifts are handmade or vintage.

I started my own etsy shop about a year ago and my biggest seller has always been my collage Cardinals print. I made this originally as a Christmas present for my brother Jon, but listed it on Etsy when I realized that there was quite a bit of interest in it. I have a few different size options--8x10, 10x20, and 12x24.

You can link to my etsy shop on the right toolbar or by clicking here.

If you are looking for something else, also check out my cousin Jamie's etsy shop here and my sister-in-law Jamie's etsy shop here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

Are you a Black Friday shopper?

I never used to be, but I have been for the last 6? or so years. My theory is I want to try to get the bulk of my shopping done so that I can enjoy the rest of the Advent and Christmas season for the true reason.

I had so much fun with my mom today! This was the first time in a while that we didn't line up at Sports Authority, but didn't really feel like it in the cold. So no scratch off card there. We headed out at 5:30 to Target, then on to the Mills for Children's Place, Old Navy, Nike, Gymboree, Bed Bath and Beyond, Bath and Body Works, and then also to Shoe Carnival and Family Christian. No wonder I'm tired!! ;)

I think perhaps my best deal was at Children's Place where I got 4 pairs of jeans for the boys, 6 shirts, 2 sweaters, and 2 hats all for $53.

So I think I'm pretty much done shopping in stores besides a few little items and a trip to Borders. Of course, I have some work to do on the computer still...

Where did you find good deals today?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Who He Is

This is going to be super short because I'm worn out and I'm getting up in 5 hours!

Pastor's sermon today had an impact on me.

Basically, he reminded us that Christian thanksgiving is not just being thankful for what we have and what we've been given.

No, true thanksgiving is being thankful for WHO HE IS.

Because as thankful as we might be for our home, the food on the table, and even our family, in a blink of an eye, they could be gone.


His love for us is a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.

(from our favorite book, The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. post coming soon about why you have to go buy this book for your children!)

So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for who He is and for his awesome love for me!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


They may drive me batty some days. Okay, most days.

And my wood floors may be caked in playdough and crumbs.

They may pull the cat's ears and they may tackle one another all day long and they may get be calling my name at 5:00 am tomorrow.


I am ever so thankful for these two boys.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Since I'm no longer teaching, I don't have in my mind always a big countdown until breaks. But today, I got to hang out with my little sister on her day off school AND I suddenly realized when Matt got home tonight from the last two marathon days of teaching and parent teacher conferences, that he is on break now too! Yay!

So today, I somehow convinced Erica and Jamie to go downtown with me and my two boys and photoshoot it up! Thanks SO much to Jamie for entertaining my boys and making them laugh for the camera.

My mom and I went through and chose favorites from our photoshoot and came up with 74! Oops...a few too many!

But here's a small look at some of the ones of Erica!

Note to Mom and Dad: Thanks for reaching my blog. I just wanted to remind you that just because I took photos of Erica does not mean you are getting out of a family picture this year. Nope! :) I love you!

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Challenge

Jordan's health has been a challenge for us for quite some time. Not really any major issues, but quite a few minor issues.

He had bloodwork done after his 15 month appointment and we found out that we are going to be facing a new challenge--allergies.

Apparently, our little guy has fairly strong (severe? high? not sure of the terminology YET) to peanuts and egg whites and also mild allergies to soy, milk, wheat, and sesame seeds.

I've been doing some reading at, but don't really know that much about allergies yet. We are being referred to an allergist, but our appointment is not until December 6th. The peanut allergy is severe enough that we are being prescribed an Epi-pen immediately.

Most of the foods (with the exception of peanuts/nuts, eggs, and milk) he has been eating on a regular basis. So I'm not sure if I should be eliminating all of those immediately or waiting until we see the allergist?

Any advice? Recipes? Websites? Experiences?

Thanks in advance from this concerned mama!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fall Leaves

Any guesses as to what this is?

Well....this was Xavier's card that he drew for my cousin's little girl Hannah Joy. She was born just a month ago and her mama was lamenting the lack of fall leaves in Texas for photos after seeing these photos.

SOOOOO...Xavier, Jordan, and I went on a little leaf hunting expedition around the neighborhood, found the prettiest ones we could, and mailed them off to San Antonio! (We did cheat and pick them directly off the tree in hopes that they would be a little fresher and last longer).

Hannah's mommy has already taken some cute photos of her...

and you can see more here!

And back to Xavier's card...he just wanted to make sure they knew what to do with the leaves!

AAAANNND...if you are looking for a fun project with leaves, here is something that we have done the past two years. Press leaves for a day or two. Then paint both sides with Mod Podge. After a couple of layers, they become flexible and are actually preserved. Xavier had a lot of fun painting on the Mod Podge with me. Then we hole punched through the leaves, strung them on twine, and made them into a garland for the mantle:

This is last year's picture, because I was too lazy to take another one this year, but it actually turned out even prettier this year.

I've also read that you can preserve leaves using glycerin and soaking them, but I'm not sure where to buy glycerin...maybe we will tackle that next year!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

You're wearing that?

So, to all those parents out there, what do you do when your child wants to pick out their own outfits AND you are going out in public?!

The outfit above started out fine, but went wrong somewhere around the tie.

He wore this to the barbershop and an Indian restaurant with Daddy tonight.

Perhaps this outfit just reflects his personality...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Drawing a blank...

Since I posted twice yesterday, maybe I should skip today...

I'll at least give you a little video of Jordan to watch:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

We wish we could have been there to celebrate it with you, but we'll see you in a few weeks!

And then Daddy went away and we tried again. :)

Grady Jonathan

Introducing the cutest little nephew around!

Grady Jonathan
6 lbs, 10 oz.
19 inches

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This is going to be a lazy post tonight because I'm waiting for my first little nephew to be born and am not capable of thinking deep thoughts right now!

I took this video this afternoon. Jordan usually wakes up from his nap before Xavier, probably because he actually falls asleep quickly. When I bring him down, he's always looking for and calling for his "brubba."

Well, today, Brubba refused to nap long enough that I put him on the couch and turned on the TV and he was asleep in 10 minutes. So this is Jordan's reaction to seeing Xavier asleep on the couch...

And no, this exchange did not wake him up!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


So...last year, I made an ABC book for Xavier for Christmas. A is for Aaron, B is for Brother, C is for Cardinals, etc. with the whole alphabet personalized with pictures. I printed it at home and then laminated and bound it at Kinko's. I probably could have found a cheaper way to laminate and bind it, but I wanted it to be indestructible for his tear-the-flaps-off-rip-the-pages-boy-is-it-fun-to-destroy-things two year old self. And it has held up really really well.

Now, I would love to come up with another idea for a homemade picture book this year. Taking a children's book's words and substituting our own pictures? A counting book (this doesn't sound as fun because I would have to intentionally take pictures instead of using the millions I already have). Maybe I should make a new ABC book for Jordan this year since he is really into reading his brother's?

Does anyone out there (HEY YOU--I KNOW FROM MY SITEMETER THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE READING THIS EVEN IF YOU DON'T COMMENT :) have any great ideas or links to ideas on the internet?

Thanks in advance!

Monday, November 15, 2010

What has Days come to?!?! :)

So back in the day, like way back in the day, I used to watch Days of Our Lives. A couple of times a week during the summer when I was in high school. The amazing thing about soap operas is that you can stop watching for months at a time and watch for a day or two and catch right back up.

(By the way, I haven't watched in years, so I really don't think they are that "amazing"!)

I happened to catch a link on the yahoo homepage tonight thought about ridiculously blatant product placement on Days of Our Lives and I just had to click and read...and watch.

Ironically, I think I started watching Days in high school with Christine and Amy primarily to make fun of it...this was back in the days of Marlena being possessed and such. And now, it appears that it would be even more fun to mock.

Did NOBODY stop and say--Wait, a minute! This is weird?!?! Makes you wonder...

And perhaps the best one, Midol...

There are more, but I'll let you google them on your own...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Can't get in the way of ART

Matt announced to me one night that he wanted to have his 8th grade art class make turkeys out of clay and then paint them a la the painted cows. (Google "Cow Parade" if you don't know what I'm talking about).

I laughed in disbelief. I asked him if he realized how much work it would be to make that much playdough.

He told me would make it himself.

I laughed again.

I talked to my mom on the phone and told her about his idea.

She laughed in disbelief. She asked me if he realized how much work it would be to make that much playdough.

Five days later...

My mom and I made six full size (i.e. 3 cups of flour) batches of playdough. Yes, that's EIGHTEEN cups of flour.

So here's the recipe we used in case you need a good playdough recipe!

3 cups flour
3/4 cup salt
3 cups water
3 T. oil
6 T. cream of tartar

(I'm writing that down so the next time I want to make playdough I don't have to google it!)

And by the way, if you need 24 individual portions for your 8th grade art class, just multiply everything by six...

Who's laughing now? :)

(I have photos of the mass quantities of playdough in my house BUT I took over a thousand pictures this past week and I just can't bring myself to upload them and resize them right now...sorry.)

(By the way, the 8th grade class is also making their own ice cream in science class by shaking bags of milk, cream, sugar and vanilla tomorrow. How's that for a sweet lab? It almost seems like too much fun in one day...maybe I'll go to 8th grade tomorrow.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Between All Saints Day a week ago and Veterans Day on Thursday, losing three of my grandparents this year has been on my mind and in my heart lately.

On Thursday, I ventured out to the Kamphoefner farm with the boys to work on a project. This video was not the intended project. I'll write more on that (and my failure to use common sense) later.

But this is what came of it. The song is from Sara Groves. I had just gotten her CD "Fireflies and Songs" in late spring when we knew that Grandma was not going to be with us much longer. I listened to this CD over and over again on our trips back and forth to the nursing home, so much so that some of the songs make me emotional. This is one of them...

(Photos are all taken on two days in the last few months--one during the early summer and the other recently in the tail end of fall.)

I've been mourning the loss of Grandpa Estrada and Grandma Alma and Grandpa Ruben and just yearning, wishing that they could somehow see my boys grow up, that somehow life could just intersect.

And then I realized. That intersection I'm yearning for is HEAVEN.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ten on...Friday?

I've seen a lot of bloggers do "Ten on Tuesday" with a random listing of whatever comes to mind. Well, my edition is going to be on Friday instead.

1. Xavier's prayer in the car today: Dear God, Thank you God that Christmas is over...Thank you God for two pumpkins at the new house...Thank you God for three pumpkins at Mason's house (neighbor's little boy)...Thank you for a pumpkin on Mason's door...Thank you God for Mason's new little sister...Thank you for Hobo Duck Isaiah...Amen. (Yes, you read that correctly: Hobo Duck Isaiah.)

2. What is up with the people who have to sweep and blow and suck up every last leaf on their lawn? I mean, every single leaf! Are they trying to make their neighbors look bad? Does it really bother them that much if there are three leaves left on their grass? I say, RELAX.

3. I called my neighbor today and told her that I really would like to put her newborn in a pile of leaves and take her picture. And so we did. And I don't think she thought I was completely crazy.

4. Jordan has started calling me "Mammy" some of the time. I'm doing our best to change that to Mama or Mommy.

5. I think this is the last day in the 70's. And then this wonderful weather will be all gone. And winter will come. And I will be sad and depressed. I'm sad and depressed that I will soon be sad and depressed.

6. I read this devotion today and could relate to it, especially in relation to my post on letting go.

7. I'm so behind on updating my photography blog. It's so much faster to upload on facebook and most of my clients are on tehre anyway. I hope it's not a lost cause. I think sometime in a few weeks, I may be able to catch up. Maybe. You know...because there is always so much extra time around the holidays. Is there a faster or easier way to upload photos to blogger?

8. I'm so excited for my nephew to be born! No pressure or anything, Katie! This is what I made for his room and if you notice, N is for November. So I'm proud of this little guy for staying in there until November. But now it's time to come see us. :)

9. We are headed to San Diego for Christmas. I'm excited to see Matt's family and a little sad that we will be gone for Christmas Eve with my family. I haven't missed that since my freshman year of college when a certain basketball coach thought it was necessary for me to be in Nebraska for Christmas instead of with my family.

10. I did something really stupid yesterday. But nobody got mad at me. It's really nice when people are understanding and loving and helpful.

The what am I going to blog about the rest of the weekend?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Oh, how I love...

...this scrunchy nose smile...

...and when little boys play independently...

(photos are a few weeks old)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Well, I was going to write that this was going on in my backyard as we speak.

But my campers just came inside after an hour. Maybe next time they'll make it through the night.

We are having crazy warm weather lately--mid to high 70's in November! Xavier was begging to sleep in a tent outside tonight. We don't have a tent except for this little kid's one, but Matt agreed to take him out and they had sleeping bags out there and everything with Matt right outside the tent.

It appears that the excitement was too much and sleep did not look likely, so they headed back in since it is a school night. But here are a few pictures of my boys...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Of all of the videos that we have taken with our Flip video camera in the last year and a half, this is my favorite.

I love it. I love that Jordan is 5 days old here and the nickname that my little 22 month old gave him then is still alive and well. He is our "B," our baby. And he might always be.

A funny thing about this is when we named our boys I insisted on names that could not be shortened to one syllable because our last name is so short already. But nicknames have a way of appearing even if you don't plan on them!

Today Xavier and I were discussing this video. As in, I asked him, remember that movie where you said, "On no, B Jordan"? And then he tried to convince me that he had said "Oh no, Hobo Duck."

Yes, Hobo Duck. Because that is his new nickname for B. I mean Jordan.

We don't know where Hobo Duck came from. But we do find it quite funny and Matt tries to use it as much as possible.

Xavier's nickname from Jordan is "Brubba" (brother). I'm looking forward to more of these as the boys grow up...

By the way, when we watched that video today, you know, to check to make sure it didn't say "Oh no, Hobo Duck," Xavier told me that he was so little--he was only two! I had to inform him that he actually was only one here (although almost two). Oh, how time flies...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Just two brothers...

...bonding over Sports Illustrated!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Our Family Portrait!

I actually made it posting every day this past week! I'm I'm sure are the three of you who read this are too!

Anyway, it is time to reveal our family portrait! I'm excited to show it to you...

Just scroll down.......


That wasn't what you were expecting, huh?

Well, too bad. :) I love seeing what Xavier comes up with when he draws! The big heads with legs coming directly out of them are so much fun...

Here's the work in progress:

And the artist:

(I think he's one of those leave-me-alone-while-I'm-working types.)

And in case you were confused, here's the labeled family portrait.

Yes, I'm laying down. Because I'm lazy. And all I do is lay around. :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Lunch can be a difficult meal at our house. Who are we kidding--all the meals are difficult and result in my floor being covered in food.

But, anyway, I saw this great idea to make a face out of food.

And I decided I might as well give it a try. So here's what I came up with:

(Sharks (i.e. Aldi brand goldfish) for hair, string cheese for eyebrows, vanilla wafers and grapes for eyes, pear slices for ears and nose, frozen grape halves and cherry tomatoes for the mouth)

Here's Xavier's reaction to his "surprise lunch."

At first, he wouldn't eat anything because he thought it was so fun to look at. But he came around and ended up eating every last bite. We will definitely be trying this again.

And Jordan's reaction...this is his "This is going to be more fun to throw on the floor than usual" face. And that's exactly what he did. :)

Anybody out there have any other great ideas for creative (but still easy!!) lunches?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Letting go

I won't deny it.

I am a perfectionist. I am Type A.

I like to be in control.

The past three years, one month, and three days have taught me over and over that I am not.

In so many areas of life, trying your best and working the hardest and having a little talent besides will get you a long ways. And I like to be good at what I do.

But being a mother has challenged me to the core. The harder I try to hold things together, the sooner it falls apart. The more that I feel the need to be in control, the sooner I realize that I absolutely am not.

Somewhere in the middle of this mess, I have to stop and ask myself what my goals truly are. Because as much as I strive to raise well-behaved, good-mannered children who are always kind, respectful, intelligent, and loving, I am failing. And sometimes, I'm not just failing, but I'm drowning.

And as I'm going under, there is nothing to do but to reach up.
To ask Him to pull me out and rescue me.
To beg Him to take this mess I've made and turn it into something beautiful.
To let Him be in charge again.

And maybe if my kids can look at me and see that I am nothing without my Lord and Savior, I will actually have taught them something worthwhile.

I've been reflecting on the story of Abraham and Isaac today and imagining what it must have been like for Abraham to be willing to give up his only son, to trust that God's plan was better than his own.

I know that I need to let go.
To release my children to God's control.
To trust that His plan is better than mine could ever be.
To stop worrying about being a good mother and instead pray that I can show them Jesus.

I am trusting you to guide me. You alone shall lead.
Every day and hour supplying all my need.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

On the other side

Tonight we had family photos taken by a friend of mine who also has a photography business. I was excited to finally get some pictures taken of the four of us. I spent a couple of hours shopping and coordinating (not matching, coordinating!) outfits and SHOES (Jordan got to wear his Air Jordans for the first time)! We prepped and bribed and cajoled Xavier and prayed that he wouldn't run away ;)

I also prepped and cajoled my husband, but stopped short of bribery. I told him that as long as you look like you're having fun and you love us in the photos, I will be happy! As a photographer, one of my pet peeves is husbands who are too crabby to bother smiling or looking happy for just a few minutes.

I learned tonight to not bring vanilla wafers for bribery in a bag that does not close or zip. Because your kids will run out of the frame to go get another cookie. Hopefully there are not vanilla wafers in ALL of our photos. But I wouldn't be surprised.

Anyway, it was good for me to get on the other side of the camera and to experience what it is like to try to get your children to behave and cooperate for family photos. I think Jennifer did a great job with the boys and I'm excited to see what she came up with! I'm happy that we were able to get our photos done before it got too cold outside or too brown outside.

If I was cool enough to have one of those lists where you want to accomplish 101 things in 1001 days, getting our family's photos taken would be on that list. So, let's just pretend and go ahead and cross it off!

And now, a COMPLETELY unrelated video from earlier this month...Xavier singing Jesus Loves Me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I run.

One month ago today I completed my third half marathon.

I ran my first half marathon in 2005 in 2 hours and 2 minutes.
I ran my second half marathon in 2006 in 2 hours and 12 minutes.

Then I had two children.

I ran my third half marathon in 1 hour and 52 minutes.

Running has weaved its path through my life since the time I was young...
Dashing to the fountain and back, a mile by our dad's car's calculations, when I fought with my brothers. Jogging around the neighborhood on crisp winter mornings with my dad and brothers. Sprinting to outrun my dog Ernie at the end of a four mile run. Winning my first cross country race ever. Learning that my family loved me just as much on my worst day, dropping out mid race, as my best day, winning the state meet. Missing cross country so much that I quit playing basketball in college. Surviving the humidity and heat of July in St. Louis and the cold and wind of January in Nebraska. Learning to run while being stared at during my semester in India. Running trails with Matt even before we had gone on a date. Getting engaged while on a run. Training for a marathon around the same three mile loop in India. Coaching and running with my cross country and track athletes and fostering their love for running. Getting to know friends even better as we share miles and conversation. Running through most of my first pregnancy, including at a cross country meet on my due date. Starting to run a week after my first c-section. Rebuilding strength and finding that stride again. Learning to cover miles while pushing a stroller, handing out snacks, breaking up fights, and picking up dropped baby shoes. Training with my beautiful little sister and watching her confidence and love for running grow.

When I run, I feel strong. I feel sane. I feel complete.

I feel like me.

I often think that two things help to keep me sane--reading the Bible and running. Yet, when times get busy, those things tend to disappear from my schedule. As easy as it should be to dismiss them, they are really necessities in my life.

And that is why I cling to this half marathon I completed a month ago. It allowed me to prove some things to myself.

The idea that I can run faster after two children, that I can schedule time for something I love to do.

The idea that I can run step by step for 13.1 miles with a teammate that I haven't seen for ten years.

Ten, twelve years ago, we bonded over sixty mile weeks and facing similar issues in life. And even though ten years had passed, when we started running on October 3rd, it felt natural and easy. And we carried each other through that race.

The idea that I feel closer to God when I'm running in his nature than any other time.

The idea that I am a runner and that's what HE intended me to be.

And so, I run.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Rebekah!

Wish we could be there with you to celebrate with some funfetti cake with rainbow chip icing!

Monday, November 1, 2010

National Blog Posting Month

Did you know that November is National Blog Posting Month? What are the chances that I will actually blog every day this month? Well, since I haven't posted since August, it probably isn't very likely. goes, I suppose...

So we'll start off November with a video of or two of my boys!

First up...Xavier! Here he is reading aloud his Halloween cards from his grandmas. I don't think he understands Halloween yet, and that is just fine!

And next up is Jordan! Yesterday I ran to the park with the double stroller and we played on the playground and the boys ran around the tennis courts. Nobody else was around at all, so I was doing some squats, pushups, lunges, etc. Jordan decided to join in with me on the squats! This is later that night...he's showing off his squatting skills while eating potato chips! (They were baked chips at least).

If you want me to keep posting every day this month, leave me a comment :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Video Update

It's been a while since I dumped a bunch of videos on the blog for you all to enjoy ;) So here are a few...

My walking baby! Notice his perseverance...he always hurries back to the step and tries again when he falls down. And WOW, isn't it helpful to have a big brother to show you how to do things? So helpful.

And now, my talking baby. He talk and repeats SO much. We made a list today and it's over 20 words. Here's "tractor"...

Xavier reading Eric Carle's Panda Bear, Panda Bear. I do believe there is a growling peacock in this book?

(I also think his reading went very much downhill after he noticed me recording!)

And just a little message to Daddy who is back to school now...

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Grandpa Ruben went to his HOME to be with Jesus just a few hours ago. We are looking forward with eager anticipation to the day when we will all be reunited in heaven.

Here's a couple of more pictures (taken two years ago during Grandpa and Grandma's 65th wedding anniversary celebration):

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This is why.

I went to the dentist today for a checkup.

The usual.

You know...teeth look pretty good, but you don't floss enough usual.

Okay, Mr. and Mrs. Dentist, do you want to know why I don't floss enough??

I walked into the house after my appointment. I set down the free toothbrush and floss from the dentist. I went into the kitchen to start dinner.

Within 10 minutes, I had an almost 3 year old carrying around about five yards of floss, wrapped around both his teeth and his toes.

And shortly after...splash. Jordan had tossed the remaining floss into the toilet.

And THAT is why I don't floss enough.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Father's Day...just a couple of weeks late!

So I was very excited about our surprise for Matt this Father's Day for three reasons...

1. I made him a slideshow that incorporated videos and photos and I've never done that before.

2. I had it done early and didn't have to stress myself out over it at the last minute (actually WAY early because I had to have it done before we left for California).

and 3. I kept it a surprise until Father's Day! I'm known for giving away surprises and handing over presents shortly after purchasing them. But I managed to not tell Matt beforehand and kept Xavier from telling him about "Daddy TV" too.

So even though I had this done a long time ago, I waited to share it until now because I remastered it with the pictures from our CA trip in it here's the final version!

Thanks, Matt, for being a wonderful father and role model for our boys. We love you so much!

(and thanks to my cousin Rebekah, as usual, for helping with my music selections!)

What I Learned at Legoland

by Xavier Hill, age 2 1/2

When I went to Legoland, I rode the Dinosaur Train roller coaster with my daddy.

I learned that when you ride trains, you should always put your hands in the air like the people in front of me did.

The End

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Proud of my Jordan

Yesterday was a LONG day that included a memorial service for Grandma at the nursing home and saying thank you and goodbye to all the workers there who had blessed Grandma the past three years.

And as usual, Jordan was dragged along through it all. And was such a good little boy through it all.


We were walking through Walmart and Jordan spotted a big bin of balls.

And OUT came the pacifier, UP came the arms!
And he shouted, "BALL!"
And proceeded to throw a little fit when we drove by them.

Oh, his mommy was so proud! :)

So this might be an appropriate time to share this video of him playing ball with Grandma (even though it's close to a month old...oops).

Monday, June 7, 2010

Overwhelmed with Sorrow...and JOY

On August 20, 1979, I was born on her birthday. I think from the beginning that made our relationship special. But she was the type of grandmother who made us all, all 19 of us, feel loved and cherished.

I am so very thankful for this past year. Thankful that I have lived close enough to visit her often. Thankful that my boys knew her and felt her love. And yet, each time I visited, I could feel Grandma slipping away from us a little more. No, she wasn't slipping; she was pulling another world.

She told me a couple of months ago that she thought she was going home that day and that she missed her husband. No, she did not know when her final hour was coming, but she was indeed ready for that day (Rev. 3:11).

Two weeks ago, she was put on hospice. And what we all knew was coming was confirmed...Grandma's time on this earth was drawing to a close.

The following day, my cousins Rebekah and Sarah and I pored through the carefully chronicled almost 89 years of life. Through tears and laughter, we did our best to represent who our Grandma truly was in ten minutes of pictures and song. We took the computer to her and showed her. It had been weeks, maybe months, since Grandma had been alert enough to stay awake to listen to our one sided conversations, but today, she sat up. And she watched, intent, as the scenes of her life passed by on the screen accompanied by song.

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!

She was not able to speak, but for those nine minutes, her eyes never left the screen.

One week ago, I received a phone call at 12 noon. Grandma had taken a turn for the worse. She could be gone in a couple of hours or a couple of days. I was half a nation away in Colorado and ached to see her one last time this side of heaven. Jordan and I headed to the airport so we could try, just try to get there in time. On the other side of the country, my cousin Daniel was doing the same thing.

10 pm. Daniel arrived at the nursing home.
11 pm. My flight finally landed.
12 pm. I arrived at the nursing home.
Grandma waited patiently for us to get there.
2:30 am. Grandma went home to her Savior, to her heavenly home.

Oh, to be home with our Savior.
My heart aches for those times of old. Croquet matches and baseball games, lemonade and banana cupcakes, prayers and laughter. But Grandma is not longing for the past anymore. No, she is truly at home.

The strife is o’er, the battle done;
The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun: Alleluia!

When I was 10 years old, my grandma suffered a major heart attack and went through open heart surgery. Shortly after that near death experience, she sat down and penned a letter to us. It's hard to describe how much these words meant to me. We were so truly blessed to have a grandmother who taught us the importance of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

June 2, 1989

To My Dear Children, Spouses, and Grandchildren,

Rev. 3:11
Who knows when our final hour will come? Be ready for that day.

All your lifetime my one desire and hope has been that you will cherish “the one thing needful” and believe that wisdom’s highest, noblest treasure is your belief in Jesus and His saving grace. It will be Heaven if we all are there.

Thank you for having been good, thoughtful children, and forgive my mistakes and failures as a mother. Keep Christ in you and He will help you over the rough places of life and give you much joy.

I pray that the Lord will keep the circle of our family unbroken when we stand before Him on the Day of Judgment.

My life has been a full and happy one on this earth with trusting in the Lord. This is my wish for you also.

Your loving Mother, Mother-in-law, and Grandmother,


Grandma, I miss you. But I am filled with JOY. I rejoice in your death and your NEW LIFE. And I will see you soon.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Xavier says... (dinnertime edition)

After staring at his dinner for 5 minutes...

"All done. I put it in the trash?" he likes my cooking, huh?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Xavier says...

I guess this should be a regular feature on here.

We currently have long daily conversations daily about gender (Mommy's a girl! Daddy's a boy!) and hair color (Daddy and Erica have the black hair). This was a new take on the gender discussion today.

(while petting a kitty)

Xavier: Diego's a boy.
Me: Yeah. What about Lulu? What is she?
Xavier: CUTE!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Ivy Pictures!

And here are the pictures I promised in the last post...

Monday, May 10, 2010

This is what my house sounds like these days...

(except usually it's two of them!)


(pictures from this little photoshoot with each of the boys to come! Don't you love my neighbor's ivy?! Glad it's not growing on MY house, but I'll definitely use it for pictures!)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Grace at work

Xavier just yelled this at Matt (all in one breath):

"Stop being mean, Daddy! I forgive you!"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Xavier's newest single... being released due to popular demand. This song goes along with the ever popular "Hello, the People and the Bear" which you can see a couple of posts below if you missed it.

Xavier...always talking

I need to post on here more often...especially some of the funny things that Xavier says. Are all two year olds so funny?

Here's a few things he's said lately.

He knows that when Daddy leaves us he has to "go teach the kids." I think that has become somewhat synonymous with "go away." Because the other day, Matt was teasing Matt and tickling him with his foot and Xavier said to him, "Go teach the kids, foot!"

Most of the time, he wishes that we all could be together. "No teach the kids." "No teach the track practice." "No teach the basketball game." If he could just have a stay at home daddy and mommy, he would be happy. Well, and maybe Grandma, Grandpa, and Erica too. Couldn't every day just be a holiday with our whole family together?

He's obsessed with the singer Brandon Heath. He used to think that Brandon Heath was his daddy as evidenced by him calling the songs "Daddy sing." This started months ago. Now he knows pretty much all the words to "Give Me Eyes" and "New Daddy Song" (known to the rest of the world as "Wait and See"). He wants to hear them everytime we get in the car. He sings them a lot. He sings them while wearing no shirt and six daddy ties around his neck. He sings them while jumping on the bed and playing a tambourine. He sings them while wearing an elephant head from a costume on his head. He sings them while playing Erica's guitar and his piano. I have recorded all of these...

He is upset that Jordan can say Da-da-da-da-da and Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma, but he never says Za-za-za-za-Zavier!

This morning he told me "No kisses, Mommy." I said "just one" and gave him a kiss. Then he told me "just three, Mommy" so I gave him three more kisses. Then he yelled at me..."That was four, Mommy!" Apparently, he's doing simple addition these days?

I'll try to record more of these things as he says them so I don't forget!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Daryelle!

Our family has had a lot of birthdays lately, huh? Are you getting tired of these happy birthday videos yet?? :) Xavier has little concept of what it actually means as evidenced by the fact that he sang happy birthday to his toes last night. Hmmm...

Sorry this is a day late, Daryelle! (at least we called on time, right?!)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, Uncle Jon!

My baby brother turns 25 today...Jon, you're getting old!

Yesterday we were talking about it being Jon's birthday soon and Xavier kept asking to "go see Uncle Jon at Grandma's house"! Hopefully, we will this weekend...

Monday, April 5, 2010


Well, don't you agree it's about time for my monthly overdose of videos...? I've been kind of bad about not writing or posting photos (check facebook), but maybe someday I'll remember to do more of that too.

But for now, on to the videos!

Here is Xavier playing Erica's guitar. My favorite part of this is the end where he runs off yelling, "Erica, make music?!" Because she is the best 12 year old aunt around and "makes music" with him whenever he wants to!

More music...Xavier composing his own songs (please not the intensity and feeling in these songs). This one I believe is called "People and The Bear." I have another video of a song called "The Bear is So Funny," but I didn't want you to get burned out on his music...

Earlier today, we headed outside to play and work in the yard. Here's Xavier cutting the grass just like our neighbor! (And yes, the yard needs work, but we're getting there slowly...)

Not much of a video here...just showing you how Xavier loves to JUMP!

This may appear familiar to you. And that's because it's Installment 3 (of the reading on the couch series). Please notice that Xavier's daddy watches the first two installments with Xavier regularly and that may have influenced this one.

And finally, in hopes that Jordan might soon be a "real person," Jordan's daddy is trying to get him to eat "real food." Here's his reaction to puffs.

Did you watch them all?! You must be an aunt or uncle or godparent...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


It isn't easy for me to go visit my grandma anymore. She always recognizes me, but she can't carry a conversation and seems so different in just the three short years she has been in the nursing home.

I remember and sometimes long for the way it used to be.

But I know we can't live in the past.

So when Xavier asked me for the third day in a row to "go see great-grandma," I packed up the car and hoped for the best. Because he didn't know. He didn't remember what she used to be like.

When we left the nursing home forty minutes, I had tears in my eyes.

Because he looked her in the eye and told her, "Hi, Great Grandma" and "Look, it's a red crayon, Great Grandma" and "I love you." Because he slowed down his running feet to match the pace of her wheelchair and trudged around the nursing home courtyard three times at her side. Because he without hesitation kissed her weathered cheek as we prepared to leave.

Because he could see in her what I sometimes can't anymore.

I love you, Xavier, and I was so proud of you today!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Again...Happy Dirfday for the Katie!

We had dinner at my parents' house tonight and my mom had a cake for Katie's birthday a couple of weeks ago.

Here's Xavier singing to his Aunt Katie!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Happy Birthday, Kate!

(Disclaimer: This is shortly before bedtime and he was kind of hyper!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reading together...take two

This video will look eerily similar to one of the ones I posted before. But this one makes me laugh for two reasons...

1. Watch Xavier's eyes when Jordan screams really loud.
2. Listen in the second half when Xavier starts reading the book. Apparently I must ask him what color things are fairly often when we're reading! He says, "What's that? Green. Good job. Green." (taking on both sides of the conversation).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Just a few more.

Ready for some more videos? What? You're not? Well, I'm posting them anyways :)

Here's Xavier playing "helmet" with Daddy. Only Daddy's wearing the helmet and Xavier's helmet is a stocking cap (which looks great with his pajamas and snow boots)

Sledding with Aunt Jamie, Uncle Jon, Daddy, and Erica (I have some great pictures from this also that I'll have to get back too). Yes, that's our front yard. Not a big hill, but perfect for a two year old!

Just a random video of my two boys

And last one! I promise. This is another one of Xavier singing...BINGO! It's pretty quiet so you may have to turn up your speakers a bit.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Budding musician

So if I just post a few of these videos at a time, does that keep you from getting bored? :)

Xavier received this little piano from his great grandma in San Diego. Here he is jamming on it. (He writes his own stuff :) Note the references to B Jordan, noni (macaroni), and Mommy (only after he notices that I'm there).

In this second video, he's singing the Johnny Appleseed least his version with the most necessary words included.

It usually goes something like this: Lord good to me. Thank the Lord. giving me. things I need. sun, rain, appleseed. Lord good to me. Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen, AAAAAmen. Just in case you had trouble hearing him or translating!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My boys

I just cleared out our Flip video camera again and uploaded oh, 10 videos!

Here are a few that illustrate my boys' loving relationship :)

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! Psalm 133:1

Friday, February 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, Rylee!

Happy 9th birthday to my niece Rylee!

(This picture is actually on Erica's birthday last summer)

(And as I was searching for the picture, I realized just how far behind I am on editing...still unedited, unprinted pictures from this summer. I must get going on this!!)

And as a tribute to Rylee's birthday, let's bring back the "Where Rylee go" can see how much Xavier loves Rylee! :)

Hope you have a great day today, Ry!

Monday, February 1, 2010

remembering a life in 616 square inches

Here's the photo collage I made for Grandpa's funeral. I started it the evening before, so I was worried I would not get it done, but I did...

I started with a 22x28 canvas from Michael's, painted the background and border, and mod podged the pictures on and then over the top to seal it.

It was really neat for me to go through and look at all the photos and learn even more about the fact that he was a football player as a high schooler in the 1930's. Somehow, I had never heard about that. And he looked pretty tough! He had all the photos labeled and apparently his nickname was "Stonewall"!

You can click on this to see it in more detail...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

feeling helpless

I feel so bad for my little guy. Jordan was diagnosed with an ear infection (after his ear drum ruptured) a couple of weeks ago and went on amoxicillin. Six days later, his ear drum ruptured again and they upped it to augmentin. And after 10 days of that, when he was rechecked yesterday, he had infection now in both his ears and is moving on to omnicef.

But on top of that, we are dealing with pretty severe eczema too. I spent the last hour and a half reading on the internet, trying to find a magical cure. Right now, the kid gets what I call spa treatments...frequent baths, Cetaphil, hydrocortisone, Aquaphor or sometimes Eucerin. It's a lot of work and it just seems to rein in the symptoms a bit, not ever heal it up completely.

This morning I put Jordan down with a few toys and took a 5 minute shower. When I came out of the shower, he was screaming and covered in blood--his forehead, eyelids, hand. He scratched himself so badly from the persistent itching that he bled. (He's almost always scratched and cut up, but this was extreme). Thankfully, my mom was coming over this morning and happened to arrive when I was in the midst of cleaning him up and helped to calm both of us down.

The doctor who saw him yesterday for his ears (not our normal pediatrician because she was on vacation) was worried that he might get these scratches and cuts infected if we are not careful. And it looks so much worse today. So we are back to wearing socks on his hands I guess. The doctors always assume that the scratching occurs mainly at night, but really it is continual. If I take off his clothes, he claws at his legs and stomach. He rubs his head on his carseat or chair. He has scratches all through his hair and covering his face.

I have a lot of theories about possible triggers of the eczema flare-ups. When we were in California, he cleared up almost completely for about a day until he got a little overheated on a sunny car ride. So obviously heat and sweating can trigger it. The fact that he cleared up that much initially while in a pet-free home really makes me believe that our cats are part of the problem too.

(That's a whole 'nother post, but does anyone want a cat? Or two??? We are looking for a good home for them because of this and might have limited time before my dad kidnaps them and drops them off at the pound. kidding. kind of.)

We also suspect that he might have a sensitivity or allergy to dust because of a couple of times that he flared up badly when he was in a dusty house. We keep him out of the basement completely now because it is dustier than the rest of the house and it is the cats' home base. Also, Matt is allergic to dust and allergies can be hereditary.

And as I was reading tonight, I read some stuff that indicated that perhaps a breastfeeding mother's diet could affect this as well. I didn't read this everywhere, but the places I did mentioned dairy, eggs, wheat, fish, and nuts as being possible triggers. I'm trying to imagine what I would eat if I didn't have dairy or wheat or eggs, but I guess people deal with that every day and I would definitely give them up if it would help Jordan.

So I'm not sure to go with this. Should I be trying to get him referred to a pediatric dermatologist or allergist? Or drastically changing my diet? Or ridding our house of pets and cleaning and dusting constantly?

Hoping someone out there reading this might have some ideas for me...please comment if you have any experience in dealing with this!! Thank you! (did anyone actually read that to the end??)

(picture from a couple of weeks ago...think it looked worse today)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Xavier stayed with my parents while we went to California for the funeral. My mom told me that he ate grilled cheese really well at their house, so I made some for lunch today. While I was making it, Xavier looks in the pan and says, "Yay, Mommy! You did it!" Apparently he was questioning my ability to make grilled cheese like Grandma's.

We also ate edamame at lunch today and he was referring to them as "mommy peas" at first. :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


We've had a very tough week with the death of Matt's grandpa last Monday and traveling to California for the funeral and to be with his mom and grandma. Matt is the one and only grandchild, so he was very very close to his grandpa. We are so thankful for the comfort of knowing that Grandpa E is in heaven and we will see him again one day.

Matt spoke at the funeral. If you have a couple of minutes, please read what he said... (so proud of him)

My senior year of college, I was given the assignment to write an essay over any topic. I chose to write about the influence that my grandfather had on my life. After our first drafts were finished our professor set up individual meetings to offer suggestions on improving our work. When I met with our professor, her first bit of advice was more of a command—“You must give your grandpa a copy of this.” Doing what I was told, I sent a final copy to my grandpa.

When I arrived here on Thursday, I sat with my family and we talked with Pastor about Grandpa. My grandma brought up the essay and what it had meant to him. She suggested that I should read it at the funeral.

I hadn’t planned on reading it, as I was going to write something new to honor him. After all, I had written the essay eight years ago and since then my love and respect for him only had grown.

I wanted to write about the many ways that he had blessed my wife and later on our children. How his kindness and peaceful nature caused my wife to instantly feel part of the family and how hard she cried when she learned of his passing.

I wanted to write about the joy he would show when he got to play with his great-grandson, Xavier, and how he would will his sore and exhausted body to the park to watch him swing and run-around.

However, after listening to my grandma and thinking about her suggestion, I kept going back to two things. First I wanted to honor her request and read something that he loved. And second, the thing that first caused me to not want to read it is the very reason why I should—it was written eight years ago. It was not a collection of good memories, sifted out of the bad or the common. This is what is expected at funerals; people talk about the good times and forget the bad. Instead I would like to read to you what I wrote and proudly read out-loud to my classmates eight years ago about how there were no bad days or even common days spent with my grandpa.

(the essay)
“ So, what exactly is a hero anyway? This past summer I watched a man play his final season. Tony Gwynn wore number 19 for the Padres since I was eight years old. In an age where professional athletes are seen as being almost superhuman, it was strange to see someone I grew up watching become old overnight. Gwynn’s final year was a season long celebration that came to its conclusion with a tear-filled farewell in a sold out Qualcomm stadium. Every single at-bat of the season was met with a standing ovation. Fans wrote thank you letters that overflowed mailbags. The Union-Tribune even had a special Thank You Tony section on the day of his last game. For a fee, fans could write a few lines to their aging hero and tell him what he has meant to their lives. Truly dedicated fans could spend a few extra bucks and decorate their message with a baseball, Padres cap, or a bat emblazoned with the number 19.

The fact that an entire city mourned the retirement of a baseball player illustrates a simple fact—the world is in desperate need of heroes. I consider myself one of the fortunate ones. I grew up within miles of a true hero. This man never swung a bat in a crowded stadium or had his name displayed on the Big Screen. All he did was teach me how to be a gentleman and how precious life truly is.

Visiting my grandfather is like stepping into another world. All of the fear and anger that consumes our culture never found its way into his life. He has found the secret on how to remain positive no matter what is happening. When I see him, I am transported back to a time where men were expected to conduct themselves like gentlemen. After fifty-eight years of marriage, he still opens every door and walks holding hands with the woman he courted for two months before they decided to make it forever. Every time they part, he reminds her that he loves her. You would figure that after fifty-eight years she would know that already. I guess this shows that you can never get tired of being shown that you are special.

Being men, we have never sat down and had many deep, personal conversations. At times I wish my grandpa would take on the attitude of the stereotypical grandpa and carry on and on about his life. I would love to know more about him. This isn’t him though. What makes him special is that he cherishes the past, but does not live in it. He is content to talk to me about last week and what is happening in his life now and not fifty years ago. Dwelling on the past would involve reliving disappointments or boasting about his accomplishments, two things that are not in his nature. There are enough people in the world who refuse to let go of the past. My grandfather is not one of them.

Two summers ago, I went golfing with my grandfather for the first time. What I keep asking myself is why did it take me so long to do this? Golf bridges our generation gap and allows us to spend five hours at a time engaged in an activity that we both love. I really enjoy the game, but I cherish the time together even more. Watching him talk with the golfers we get paired up with like they were old friends is priceless. People are drawn to him. His smile and laugh managers to loosen up even the stuffiest golfer in our party who takes their game much too seriously. Often I am the one who is taking the game a little too serious. This is when my grandpa gets the chance to spread his simple life wisdom. He would tell me relax, that we were all given unique gifts and were never going to make the tour anyway since, “the Good Lord blessed us by making us good-looking, not good golfers.”

The greatest compliment I have ever received was from a man that I knew for five hours. My grandfather and I were paired with two other golfers. At the end of the day I was told, “I sure enjoyed playing with your grandfather. He is a real positive person. You remind me a lot of him.” I pray that he was right.
Now, I would be lying if I claimed that I was not a little choked up watching number 19 play his last game for the Padres. Like other Padre fans, I loved Gwynn’s hard work, commitment to his team and his city and the joy he showed playing a child’s game for a living. I did not however, shed a tear or stay sad for long. My favorite player simply retired. My role model was still a phone call away.

I do not get to see him that often now that I live in the middle of the nation. Each time I visit, I cherish our time a little more. The last few years his body has ached a little more, his walk has gotten a little slower and every time I prepare to head back to the Midwest I can’t help but wonder if this will be the last time I see him. I know that one day God will invite him to live with the other angels in Heaven and he will accept. That will be a time of mixed feelings. I will be ecstatic knowing that he is seeing our Savior face to face. I will also mourn for what will be missing here. Our world is in desperate need of heroes.”

Looking back at my essay, I realize that I was wrong about one thing. Monday morning, my grandpa got to meet his Savior, face-to-face, but he did not get his invitation to heaven that day. His invitation was given to him 2,000 years ago when God took on flesh and died as a final sacrifice to defeat sin and death. When Jesus died and conquered death three days later, we were all given the invitation to share in His resurrection. We all became co-heirs to the kingdom of heaven. Jesus through His blood issued the invitation and my grandpa had long ago accepted.

This is why he would always refer to God as “The Good Lord.” He knew Him to be His source of blessing, hope, peace, joy, and ultimately comfort in knowing that he was loved by the Creator of the universe and that this life is just a blink of an eye in light of our eternal home in paradise.

Anyone who knew my grandfather couldn't help but be deeply saddened by the news of his passing from this world. However we can take comfort not simply in our memories, but in knowing that The Good Lord has issued the same invitation to us through His Son. We too can have the same peace and joy in our lives that he did by accepting that invitation of eternity. It is this truth that brings us comfort in knowing that the current sorrow we feel is nothing compared to joy we will have when we see him next, when we can golf again, when he will get to run with his great-grandchildren and we can all get the chance to join him in singing praises to our Good Lord.