Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My computer is in the shop (again) so I wasn't able to post my 9/11 post. I did want to say that I remember 9/11/2001 like it was yesterday. I remember the early morning phone call from my dad saying "They bombed the pentagon", because that was the one of the first thoughts. I remember going to school and for weeks watching my 4 and 5 year old build towers out of blocks and knock them down with toy airplanes as they processed what they were seeing on TV every day. I remember holding my one year old a little tighter and telling my 9 year old I loved him one more time. To which he replied, "I know." This day is etched in history and in the minds of those of us who experienced it. We will never forget.

But, what I really want to share is 9/11/2011. This year I didn't wake up to the phone ringing, rather I woke up to Nate yelling, "Mia peed on the couch!" Mind you Mia 'was' pregnant and very well litter box trained. So, I didn't think she peed on the couch. I picked her up and loved on her and noticed what look like a small balloon protruding from 'below'. I yelled for Nate to get me a towel and put it in a box for her. I petted her, soothed her and loved on her. Nate was amazing too, encouraging her in the sweetest gentlest voice, "you can do it" and "don't stop."

My sweet girl Mia in early labor
My baby girl had a hard time with the first one. It took over an hour after her water broke (on the couch) until we saw a tail sticking out. I'll spare you that picture. Then a paw and a leg. In between contractions it would go back up. I had to help deliver the first one. It was nearly dry when it came out. It was amazing to me. This was the first time I had seen anything born.

What the heck just happened?

Baby one is all black. We named him (it) Justice. Baby two came out much easier still in the amniotic sac, but also breech. This one looks more like Mia with darker coloring. This one came out letting the world know it was here. It also fought the siblings for a nipple, even though there are only three kittens and 8 nipples. This one is feisty. Meet Baby Freedom.

Baby number 3 had a little trouble breathing at first and I got to wipe her (it) down and wiggle it to make it cry. Nice huh? Baby Liberty is the softest and has beautiful markings.

Nate was so sweet and gentle
My grand kitties: Justice (top), Liberty (left) and Freedom (right). My 9/11 babies.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Yesterday, my degree was officially conferred. So, last night we had reason to celebrate. And celebrate we did. We had a shredding party. After completing my project I had to destroy the data that I used. Here goes...
It was important that the kids be involved in the shredding party as well. They were very much impacted by the amount of time spent on this degree, especially in the last few months. One day, Jacob was particularly chatty and I kept asking him to be quiet so I could work. Eventually, I asked him if he needed to go in the other room to be quiet. He said to me, "I'm sorry if I don't like that I can't spend any time with you." OUCH! Later, I was telling my dad about it and he said, "I think a lot of us are feeling that way." This was truly a joint effort and they deserve to share in the celebration. I could not have done it without their support (even if they would have preferred not to give it).

Here Nate is helping me shred.
In keeping with the human protections requirement for my data (and a bit of personal satisfaction), I shredded the data myself. I did however have plenty of other things to shred as I kept many papers from the last four years or so.

Paper jam

We overheated the shredders (we had two) a couple of times. So to pass time while they cooled down, we played. Look at the form Jacob has playing badminton.

All the kids playing badminton

And no celebration of this status is complete without some bubbly (in this case cider). My dad joked about building a tower of glasses to pour it. IT WORKED! The kids were impressed.

A toast...to me.

Four years of work reduced to two inch strips.

And thus the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Today begins the year of me. A year of learning to take care of me, as well as everyone else. A year of learning not to always put myself last. Please join me on this journey. I love to write and this blog is one of my outlets. Part of taking care of me is making time for the things I enjoy. So, expect to see more from me :-)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I think all of my blog readers know that I am a social worker. They know that I have a passion for working with cancer patients and their families. What everyone may not know about is my academic journey and challenges to get here. I began my college education in 1997, when Joshua started first grade. I started out taking two classes at a time and working full time, as a single mom. In 2007 (yes, ten years later) I graduated with my Bachelor's Degree in Social Work. Medical social work is a Master's level career; so I applied to the Master's Degree program and began in the fall of 2007. It was a three year program. Things went well until my final year. In the fall, Nate was diagnosed with H1N1 (remember that flu?). Well, it knocked down my usually high energy little guy and I spent a lot of time taking care of him. Soon after that, I fell and injured my knee, badly. This put me behind in in my fall classes. Then the spring semester started with knee surgery (and vicodin) which was not conducive to my studies. However, I did finish my classes that semester and walked with my class.
These are a few of my favorite academic people. Far left is Dr. Montana; I am standing with Dr. Middleton, the social work department chair; and to the right is my mentor and friend, Dr Rondero Hernandez (aka Dr. V.).

BUT. I had not completed my Master's Degree. I had to take an extension. I thought I would be able to complete my final project over the summer and be done. Instead, in June my dad's cancer went rogue and he had 6-8 surgeries between June and November. Nate had a very rough start to second grade which ultimately led to our decision to pull him out of school and homeschool him. Then in December, my dad's doctor decided to do radiation treatment - 33 daily treatments, Monday through Friday. When that was finished in February. I still had not complete my degree.

I was working part time, homeschooling Nate and still managing my dad's medical care. The radiation did not stop the cancer and my dad again needed several surgeries. Then another, shorter round of radiation. This one seems to have done the trick (knock on wood) as he has not had another recurrence.

I began talking to Dr. V. about how to get back on track. She guided me back and as my project chair kept me on track to finish this. I have worked diligently for the past three months to finish this project that I started nearly two years ago. And here it is, all 79 pages.

And here is my degree clearance. Signed, sealed and delivered. I even walked with my chair to turn it in to the graduate studies department. After all this work, this part was disappointingly anti-climatic. I joked with Dr. V than I was going to wear my cap, gown and hood to campus to turn it in.
A couple months ago, our organization changed their logo and everything had to be ordered new. They ordered me this name tag, knowing that I was working on completing my degree. Now I can rightfully wear it.

Stay tuned to see how we celebrate this accomplishment!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

One of our favorite places, and one of the most beautiful.
This is the where we got married 12 years ago (May 22nd), right here at the base of lower Yosemite Falls. It was beautiful, and misty, and loud from the water crashing on the rocks. Here we are on our 12th anniversary.

Closer up. This place makes us happy!

We walked down from the other side of the falls. There was a clearing with a granite bench. It was a memorial to someone. When I sat down and looked up, I saw this. It may be the beautiful view of the fall. The photo just doesn't do it justice. It was awesome!

This is the plaque seen at the bottom of the previous photo. It is commemorating John Muir in 1924. Who would place such a thing in Yosemite? The parks department? Wilderness preservation? Um, no. It was the California Conference on Social Work. Love it.

My anniversary gift to Brian this year was a hitch hiker. Money is tight right now and we can't afford to go anywhere. So we are going vicariously through our anniversary hitch hiker. It will fun to see where it travels. Hopefully, it will be found soon. It was left with a minimally active box, but near Yosemite, on our anniversary. So, it was perfect.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Last night was Shawn's senior prom. It sounded this morning like he had a great time. He's made some really good friends this year and a bunch of them went together. Here are some pics I took before.

Here's my little boy. He sure cleans up nice.

Shawn and his date Ellie. They were together, now their not. But they're still friends and they already had tickets for the prom. They are part of the same group of friends.

Shawn and Ellie

Shawn and (not his girlfriend) Alex. They have been best friends since sophomore year. She a great girl. And she calls me "Aunt Sheri" which I think is cute.

Alex and her date Ray

This is Shawn's best guy friend Jonathan. He's cool too. His date Hilda was one of Shawn's first crushes. But Jacob was better at talking to girls than Shawn back then and held her attention more than Shawn. But, that's another story.

Here are "the guys" looking pretty sharp.

Here are some of the girls, some were not there yet. I really liked this picture because they look like they were having fun. There was excitement in the air. And everyone was taking pictures at the same time.

Me and my (not so) little guy. Isn't he handsome?

Some of my handy work. Last year I realized, when I went to get Brandi's corsage, that they are quite expensive. So I decided to try my hand at making a corsage and it turned out like this. This year I tried again, and got this. Apparently, carnations are Ellie's favorite flower, so it was a hit.
I think I'm safe from proms for a few years now. Although, Joshua did ask me yesterday if I do wedding flowers. We shall see...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter my friends! I hope you all have had a good day with your loved ones, however it is you chose to spend this day. If you were around last year, you may remember that the Easter Bunny dropped the ball. This year she did much better (and spent less money). These buckets were intentionally low on candy, but had some other fun stuff in them, stuff we can use at the pool and the beach. Great thinking Easter bunny.

Gotta love the silly posing children.
OK, take the picture already. (Boy, these guys need haircuts!)

We had an Easter egg hunt at church this morning. This was the starting line. I think this same picture is on last year's post, with a lot of the safe kids a year younger.

The first egg that Nate spotted was up in a tree. Do you think that stopped him? Not my monkey boy.

I think he found a "bunny" nest in the bushes.

Jacob is less aggressive in his egg hunting. At one point, Brian asked me where Jacob was. I said, "I don't know. Look for Audrey." Just a moment later they came walking down the sidewalk together. I wish I had taken a picture of them. She is his best friend from church.

Checking Nate's eggs for prize tickets.

It is our Easter tradition to have a picnic lunch at the park after church. This year, Grandma, Uncle Ronnie, Stephen and Raymond joined us. They didn't play on the playground though. So, I didn't get any pictures of them.

Nate's hair has an amazing ability to build up static on the slides. I have several pictures similar to this. Check out this one from Easter 2 years ago. It's one of my favorites.

I asked the boys this morning if they were OK with me dressing them alike on Easter. They both said yes. Yay! I always worry that each year will be the last. But, they are good sports. Easter is still my one day of the year for girl envy, with all the cute dresses. But, I happen to think my boys are pretty darn cute too!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hi, my name is Sheri and I am addicted to overalls.

Seriously. I am a boy mom. And is there anything cuter than a little boy in overalls? I buy overalls for every baby shower. Boy or girl. Because, I love overalls.

So tonight, Jacob wanted to look at his scrapbook (which is WAY out of date, but that is not the point). I had him sit on the couch with me and we looked to together. I started out pointing out how cute he looked in overalls.
At ONE month old
THREE months old
FOUR months old
FIVE months
SIX months
No overalls in this one, but I love it because it has Joshua and Shawn (when they were both still shorter than me).
First Birthday
Second Christmas (this page is not done, just photos in the sleeve)

Second BirthdaySecond Birthday
No overalls here either, but I love this one too
Jacob's Third Birthday. Look, he and Nate are both in overalls!
These are only the "occasion" photos. His scrapbook is full of overalls! So, OK. Maybe I am a little obsessed. Then along came Nate who, "no like oberalls." Broke mommy's heart.