Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day! I hope everyone had a good day, good food, good friends and family.

While the long weekend is a great time to relax and enjoy a long weekend. it is also a time to honor those who have served our country to preserve our freedom. It is a time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, who gave their lives, and their families who will be forever missing a piece of themselves given up for us.

Today, I want to honor some people close to my heart on this Memorial Day:
The love of my life, Brian Taylor, US Navy
My Daddy, Marlin Williams, US Marine Corp
My father in law, Steven Taylor, US Army
My brother in law, Paul Taylor, US Navy
My uncle, Kenneth Williams, US Army
My uncle Rick Williams, US Marine Corp
My friend Aimee's Daddy, US Navy

The cemetery where my mother is buried puts on a Memorial Day celebration every year called the Avenue of Flags (I wish I had taken my camera). It started with about 35 donated flags. This year there were over 1400. They are flags, donated by families, that draped the casket of a service member. They are displayed on posts throughout the cemetery. You can see the local new clip about it here, although it lacks something that was part of being there.

After the celebration, patriotic music, speeches as prayers, we went to place flowers at the graves of many loved ones buried here.
My Granny (Dad's mom) - late 1970s
My Mom, Debra Williams - 1985
My Great-Grandpa (Mom's side) - late 1980s
My Papa (Dad's dad) - 1993
My Great-Grandma (Mom's side) - 1998
My aunt Ramona Williams - 2000
My Grandma (Mom's mom) - 2007

Many more of us, including Brian and I, have plots in this cemetery. I like to think that when Jesus comes back and the dead rises, it will be a huge family reunion right there in the cemetery. And I can't wait to see my Mom again!

Lest you think it was a somber day. I have to share some of the comments made by Nate, because nothing improves the mood of a cemetery better than the sincere inquiries of a 6 year old!

While visiting my mother's grave, Nate asked my dad (there is a double marker, with his name already on it), "Why do you have a bury place if you're not dead yet?"

When I told Nate that we were going to where his Daddy's Dad was buried, he asked me, "Why do we have to put flowers in his pot if he's not even there yet?" He thought misunderstood me to mean his dad , rather than his grandfather (who he never met).

There were several others. I wish I had written them down. I love this age and the honest curiosity with which they ask anything. There was a tender moment in which he asked me why my mom died. I told him that she had cancer and it made her very sick. That seemed to do it for him for today.

Another tender moment was had with Jacob. He wanted to know why people are buried and why we bring flowers. I explained that when someone you love dies, if you bury them, you have a place to go to feel close to them and when we come to the cemetery we bring flowers as a gift to show them that we miss them. It was interesting to think about myself.

With this, I remind to hold your loved one tight. Tell them again how much you love them.

Monday, May 11, 2009

It is not often that I am able to devote a whole day to one on one quality time with my children. Occasionally, I am able to take one to the mall, or lunch, maybe even a movie. But, this past Saturday, Nate and I went to Santa Cruz for the day. I cannot even begin to put into words how much fun we had. We have been to Santa Cruz several times. It is one of Nate's favorite places. However, when we go as a family, we have to accommodate everyone's individual favorite activities. Saturday was all about Nate. And anyone who knows Nate, knows he is CRAZY! He is fearless. And at just six, he has been disappointed many time by being to little to ride the rides he wants so badly to ride.
This was the first ride to catch his interest!
"The Blue Roller Coaster"

First things first. We have to get tickets and measure Nate to see what rides he is tall enough to ride this time. It looks like he has grown. I have been documenting his growth over the past couple of years by this very measuring stick. And, of course, I take a picture each time.
We headed from the ticket booth toward The Blue Roller Coaster. Nate spotted the Haunted Castle; well actually he spotted the giant black widow spider. So he decided this would be our first ride. I gave him the "remember, everything in here is pretend" pep talk before we went, but I didn't want to talk him out of it. When we came out he said to me, "Mommy, did that scare you." I said yes, it was a little bit scary. What do you think? He replied, "I have the goose spots and my legs are shaking." But, he was still smiling. (I don't know where 'goose spots' came from.)
When we reached The Blue Roller Coaster we met our first obstacle.
The dreaded height limit.
One very disappointed "little" boy.
His sadness was short lived as we went in search of ride he could ride. He was certainly taller this time and it did open up more rides to him. We watched the cars whirl around in circle, then stop and whirl around backwards. This is one of my least favorite rides! Nate measured himself and was tall enough to ride with an adult. I tried to talk him out of it, to which he replied, "but mommy, I'm big enough to ride it." What could I say?
Then Nate informs he that he wants to ride "the ride that is like the Ferris Wheel, but not the Ferris Wheel. The one that goes upside down, because I am brave enough this time." I loved this. We have ridden this ride together before, but did not rock it much or flip it. We did not flip it this time either, but did get it rocking pretty good. Maybe, next time.
We rode the swings. What a great view of the beach!
Nate's first roller coaster ride! I rode with him, but I had to get this photo of him in the front seat of the coaster. I also bought the outrageously expensive picture they take and make into a keychain, to commemorate the moment.
It wasn't a bad little roller coaster.
Ok, so maybe it was a little tame. The Tornado is more Nate's speed!
Here is doing his best to spin it.
Again, my happy, fearless boy. This time on the Freefall.
He loved it!
Then there was this horrible creation. I tried to avoid it. Tried to distract him. Hoped he was too short. Anything short of refusing to ride this vomit inducing monster! But, guess what? He was tall enough to ride it with an adult!
Oh the excitement!
Do I look terrified?
Look at him, poised and ready.
Afterward. Have you seen a happier boy?
Ok, so this smile was worth the ride.
Well, after that last ride, Mom needed to sit down for a bit, seriously! So, I suggested that Nate ride a few of the "kiddie rides" by himself, while I watched. He humored me. Doesn't he look excited to be riding these boats around in circles?
Then there were the flying dragons.
He does usually like these airplanes.
We always ride the Ferris Wheel together. It is a Santa Cruz tradition. So, we made sure to save enough tickets to ride it before we left.
We had enough for one last ride. The "water ride"
AKA the log ride. It was a fun way to end the day.
Then a chocolate dipped ice cream cone, and it was time to go.
I put a lot of thought into this trip. I bought new sand toys to play with and a new kite to fly on the beach. Well, we never even made it to the sand. Nate had a ball on the rides. I can't believe how my little boy is growing up. He is such a free spirit. He's not afraid to try anything. I'm so happy I was able to spend this day with him, to see Santa Cruz through Nate's eyes. To enjoy the excitement of being brave, like Nate!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Ok, so I was reading the comments on my 100th post and thought I would start answering questions in a work document as time permitted. Then I realized that the document was getting LONG (I wish writing papers for school was so easy!). Then I thought, 100 questions and answers would make for a REALLY LONG post and honestly, who would read it? So, I decided to break it down. Ten posts of ten questions. Ten posts that I don’t have to think about what to write (well, except for the answers). So, here are the first ten! Feel free to ask more questions. It doesn’t appear that I know 100 people in the bloggersphere!

1. Aimee - You can have anything for YOURSELF for your birthday - but it has to be an item for world peace or trips for two or anything profound. Purely selfish & materialistic. ;) What do you want?
A. Right now, I am drooling over the new Amazon Kindle 2. I would love to have one to take on my trip this summer. All the books I can read, and more room for souvenirs (or yarn, beads, whatever hobby I am into at that time)!

2. Superwoman - What is one event in your life that has made you who you are today?
A. Unfortunately, I’d have to say the death of my mother when I was 12. It has really made me passionate about children in crisis situations and has made me an awesome social worker.

3. mDarensbourg - What is a major realization that you have recently figured out that only the wisdom of age could give?
A. Life goes on. No matter what happens in our life, good or bad, life goes on. The world doesn’t stop for our issues. It doesn’t seem fair that life goes on for everyone else, when your life is falling apart. This is a professional realization, not a personal issue.

4. Sarah - What was your biggest fear as a child?
A. Honestly, I can't think of anything and many at the same time. This could totally be a therapy question, lol. (no, I am not in therapy)

5. Anna - What charities are close to your heart and why?
A. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – I did an internship in pediatric oncology and I saw first hand what they did for my clients and their families, directly and through research grants. The hospital I work at is a non profit. I am fortunate to have an awesome children’s hospital so close. My children have been treated there many times.

6. Vikki - What’s the weather like today?
A. It’s a lovely day. I love spring. I wish the weather could stay just like today (April 30th, when I typed this) year round. Must be why I was born in the spring.

7. Kristy - Which birthday has been your favorite so far? What'd you do? Who were you with?
A. I’d have to say this last one was pretty great. I felt loved by so many people. My perception of what makes a great birthday has changed over the years. I still like presents J but cards and phone calls remind me of who loves me.
PS: My most memorable birthday was in my pre/early teens. During my birthday party, there was an earthquake. Everyone felt it except my sister who was swinging on the swingset at the time.

8. Kristie - So here's my question: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? How are things different? If you could wave a magic wand and make that childhood dream come true, and change things, would you?
A. Three for one… When I was little, I wanted to be a teacher. By the time I started college, I wanted to be a child psychologist. My first degree is in child development. I taught for four years. Then I went back to school (part time) and got a degree in social work. Now, I am completing my Master’s degree in social work. I am working at a children hospital. So, I would say I have come full circle. I don’t think I would change anything. It happened as it was meant to.

9. PamD - What kind of music do you like? Who is your favorite band? And what is your favorite song?
A. Another 3 in 1… I like most types of music (no rap, please). I can’t say I have a favorite band, but I love the 80s. I don’t really have a favorite song either. There are many that have special meaning to me. Our wedding song: I Will Be Here, by Stephen Curtis Chapman.

10. Amy - How many years until the big 40?
A. Almost 4. I embrace my age…just not the gray hairs!
PS: You do not get 2 for 1, because your questions were not related. So you get to be number for the next 10!

Thank you to everyone who asked a question! This is fun!

Friday, May 01, 2009

So, yesterday was my birthday. Number 3...something. I have to admit, it was a great day. I was really feeling the love. My family is the best!
Jacob was technically the first to wish me a Happy Birthday, a few days early. He has made a birthday card for me and was so excited to give it to me. When he was finished he realized that he had made it backwards and was very disappointed. When I saw it (it is the most awesome gift!) I told him it wasn't backward; it was a left handed card. He and I are both left handed, so it was perfect. And, I will keep it forever!
Shawn came in to tell me Happy Birthday before the the older boys left for school. He gets the official claim to wishing my Happy Birthday first on my birthday :-)
I got up to here Nate and Jacob discussing my the fact that it was my birthday. Jacob said that he had already given me my birthday present. Nate responded, "But she needs more. She should have a lot of people come to her birthday." What a sweet thought!
Joshua sent me a text with the full Happy Birthday song. Silly boy.
I love my boys they are so different, but they all love me and I am blessed to have them!

Just as I was getting ready to leave work yesterday, Brian called to see if I had anything delivered to my office. I had not. He said it was supposed to be there by 5. I waited around a bit and this came before I went home.
Isn't this lovely?
Jacob had eluded a few times that he and Dad were going to have something delivered for me at work. This is why I waited for it to arrive. I new Jacob would be excited to see them. The card was signed "Love the boys" Doesn't Jacob proud of himself. And Nate it into photo bunny ears; can you see them?
My dad promised to bake me a birthday cake. This is the first one he has ever made. I think it turned out great. I also think he is getting mushy in his old age. But, I love him. He had to borrow the cake pan from his neighbor. He had to buy a measuring cup. Then yesterday, he came to my house, with this nagging feeling that he had forgotten something. He had to drive back home (about 45 minutes) to get the cake. Such a sweet gift!
I had to run out to get a birthday gift for my niece whose birthday is tomorrow (HAPPY BIRTHDAY FAITH!). When I got home and was ready to have cake and ice cream, I found my cake had been vandalized. Here is the guilty party. Anyone surprised?
It still tasted good!
I also was treated to lunch earlier in the week and have a lunch date pending. I received a couple of cards and several texts. I love technology. And thanks to facebook announcements, I have many birthday wishes on there. Thank you to all of you who signed my 100th post and wished me a Happy Birthday. You all made my day wonderful!