Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Jacob's Anecdotes

Jacob is at one of the most precious stages right now. His imagination and creative play is growing so quickly and it is one of the most amazing things to watch and be a part of. This kid is funny, quick, witty, and just downright awesome. 

I've decided to record some of his more better anecdotes here on the blog. Not necessarily because they'll be that funny to anyone reading it (you always have to be there!), but so that we have these posts to help us jog those memories down the road. So here are just a few of Jacob's recent anecdotes.... 

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After eating a really good dinner, Jacob announces to the table. "I'm full. My tummy said I'm full. I'm done. My tummy said I'm done." He starts to push his chair away from the table to get down. He spots the container of chocolates on the island counter. He pauses. You can see the light bulb turn on... "My tummy said it wants dessert. I want dessert please." 

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We went to a local event where kids go get in and explore different types of vehicles - firetruck, school bus, dump truck, etc. Jacob's favorite was the school bus but he also enjoyed going into the dump truck, mostly because it was the one vehicle that you could press the horn. Right towards the end of the event, Jacob honked the horn and must of startled or at least gotten the attention of the two police officers that there next to their squad car right in front of the dump truck. Upon seeing this, Jacob yells out "I'm sorry!! It was an accident! A silly accident! I'm sorry to scare you!" The police officers couldn't even hear him, but it was adorable. 

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Jacob is still in a cuddling phase and to be honest, I'm trying to enjoy it the most I can. But some nights, when it's past his bedtime and he won't settle down, I try hard to keep him in his own bed instead of cuddling "on the big bed" as Jacob calls my bed. One night not too long ago, I managed to get Jacob down in his own bed without too much of a fight. I went to my own room and started to catch up on a TV show. All of a sudden, Jacob runs into the room and yells "SURPRISE!" catching me completely off guard and scaring the crap out of me! (I might scare a little easily...) After my heart rate slowed down I asked Jacob what he was doing? Jacob said, "I was thinking about cuddling you." Aw. Heart melted. Jacob got to cuddle that night. 

The best part about this story is it isn't the first time something like this has happened. Jacob knows I scare easily. He will stay as quiet as he can, opening his bedroom door and even tiptoeing until he gets to my room. One night he tiptoed his way in all the way to the end of the bed when I suddenly saw movement! Another night he quietly came up to the bed and said "peek-a-boo!" This kid... 

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While waiting for our food to come at a restaurant one night, Jacob kept asking me "What should we do?" Finally I suggested that he tell me a story. He proceeded to tell me three or four very good (and tiny) stories! They all had a similar theme... Mommy walking down the street and is suddenly being chased by a _______ (big squid, big t-rex, big sharp tooth dinosaur....). And each story ended with a 'the end'. It was quite adorable and I was impressed by his story telling skills. When his daddy came back from the bathroom, I told Jacob, "tell your daddy a story like you told me." He continued to tell his daddy a story about a daddy walking down the street when suddenly big Bowser appeared! After that story finished, his daddy asked for another story. Jacob sat for a moment and then said... "You give me money first!" Where on earth he came up with this? I have no idea. But he got paid! Six coins for six more stories! And oh what stories they were! Jacob was very excited to get home and put his well earned money in his piggy bank! 

Monday, August 14, 2017

A new look

"The only thing constant in life is change"


We've all heard this quote. It's the one thing we all know is true. And so with recent life changes and trying to determine my place in this world, I thought the blog could use an update. 

I still plan on using this to update family and friends about the things that are going on in our lives. I love going back and reading old blog posts that help me remember our experiences or fun things we've done. 

But I also plan to use this blog as an outlet for some of my thoughts about life - my personal struggles and experiences. What I see and think and feel. 

I decided to go back to the theme of Sand Dunes. I've written about sand dunes before. It's something that really resonates with me. When I think back to my experience of climbing an actual sand dune, it really summarizes what life feels like so much of the time. At least for me. Below is an excerpt from a previous blog post, with some edits. 

During May Term my sophomore year, I traveled to Africa and spent three weeks on a safari in Namibia and South Africa. One morning, when we were still in Namibia, we woke up extra early - when it was still dark out. Then we drove a little ways to this huge sand dune. The dune was about a mile high. Most of the sand dunes are off limits but this one is open to the public and you can climb to the top. So we started the mile high hike on the sand dune. I don't know if any of you have every tried to climb a giant pile of sand, but let me tell you. It is not the easiest thing to do. For every step you take, you go back a little because there is nothing firm to find your footing on. I got about half way up and I was exhausted. I decided that I wasn't going to make it any higher up and was going to wait where I had stopped. After about 5 minutes, with more and more people passing me on their way up to the top, I changed my mind. I worked my way up the rest of the sand dune and finally made it to the very top. I remember being so proud of myself for deciding to push myself and make the rest of the climb. And once I was up there, the reward was amazing. We all sat down and waited. We waited and watched. We watched the most spectacular sunrise come up over the desert and other sand dunes. To this day, it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. We literally watched as the sun made it's light fall across the desert. I wish I could describe what it was like, but it was simply too amazing. One of God's greatest creation. It was completely worth every hard and exhausting step of the climb up. Would the sunrise would have been just as beautiful from halfway up the sand dune? Probably. But would I have enjoyed the sight more? I'm not sure. Knowing how hard I had to work to make it to the top made the pay off that much more amazing. 

I hope that you'll continue to join me on this journey of life. Let's keep climbing. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

August, already?!

One of my hopes for this year was to blog more often. Lately I haven't been doing a great job at that. And it's not for lack of things happening in life. Maybe it's because so much has been going on and I'm still trying to process everything myself, unable to form sentences that make any sense. 

But since it is July 31st and August will be here tomorrow, let's try for a little summer recap. I can't believe August is here already. I always have these grand plans for summer, fun things I want to do with Jacob but then summer is gone before you know it. Luckily, we were able to have some fun this summer. 

June was a pretty quiet month. We enjoyed celebrating Jacob's 4th birthday with family and friends. We had a dinosaur themed party, which Jacob loved! He was so cute telling everyone at the party, "This is my birthday party!" or "Thank you for coming to my birthday party!" It was a really fun time. We even took him to his first movie at the movie theater - Cars 3. He did surprisingly well, didn't ask too many questions and sat for most of the movie before finally wanting to crawl in a lap. We watched the Battle of the Bands parade in Lake Crystal and didn't get rained out like it seems we have in the last few years. Work was crazy busy with our executive director leaving at the end of the month, trying to wrap up projects, continue the day to day routines and look for a new ED. 

Towards the end of the month, my dad was admitted to the hospital for bleeding. This unfortunately turned into an "adventure" that would last a couple of weeks. In and out of the hospital, procedures and tests, no real answers, a couple of big scares and finally surgery to fix the problem. Fortunately, he's doing much better now. We're all very glad things are getting back to normal. 

I feel like this is really the first big (scary) thing to happen to either one of my parents and it became a reminder about how fragile life can be sometimes. How we should treasure the time we have. Tell those we love how much we do love them. But it also showed me the strength my parents have and the strength of their marriage, their love for one another. I am blessed to have grown up with such amazing parents as role models and who continue to be so even as I have become an adult. 

July was a bit more crazy. We spent a weekend in Iowa celebrating Jacob's birthday. Went to many parades and got more candy than we could eat! Jacob went to his first theater production, "The Little Mermaid", and pretty much asked questions the entire time. :) Jacob also had another dentist appointment and I'm happy to say that he did better this time than his last one six months ago... although we still haven't had a full cleaning yet! Maybe next time! :) 

I also spent a weekend working as an Adult Table Leader at TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) at a local church. I had gone through and worked at TEC as a teen, but this was my first time working as an adult. To be honest, I was a little nervous but it was a really great experience. The kids were great, the music was refreshing and the talks were often what I needed to hear. I'm looking forward to going back to the reunion this next weekend to see everyone again. 

Jacob finished off the month of July with Vacation Bible School at CTK. He absolutely loved it! He got so excited to go every morning! And he took a really good nap each afternoon! :) That week only confirms to me just how excited Jacob is for school and how much he's going to love it! And speaking of school, we even bought Jacob his first backpack! He picked it out - Mario characters. :) 

We'll see how quickly this last month of summer goes. Probably much faster than we'd like! So we'll just have to make the most out of each day. 

Personally, there's been a lot going on in life. But again, each day is fresh start. Each day is a day to try and do better. Each day I do the best that I can. And that's really all I can do. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Happy Birthday Jacob!

Jacob, where do I even begin? This past year has felt like a roller-coaster to most of us but you have been our constant light and joy. 

I remember the events of four years ago well. We were so ready to meet you. So ready to start loving you. But we had no idea just how much love and joy and happiness you would bring into our lives. It is truly an honor to be your mother and watch you grow and learn every single day. 

I often call you a little man. Some of your mannerisms and expressions are so grown up and are absolutely adorable on you. You're getting the hang of rolling your eyes, something that I'm sure you'll only perfect as the years continue. :) You say the cutest things - some of which you've picked up from us and others I have no idea! "Holy Moley!" "I know, I know" (in exasperation) "That is awesome!" "Woah!" You are incredibly smart and nothing seems to get past you. You can remember so many things, especially fun experiences we have. You also enjoy repeating what we adults say or mocking our expressions or movements. You love to be the center of attention and you can always make a room full of people laugh. 

Your personality is so bubbly, so infectious, so clever, so joyful. You are smart. You are kind. You are caring. You are goofy. You are lovable. I love when you randomly give me hugs and say "I love you so much". I love how after giving you hugs and kisses from daddy for a few weeks after he was away, you came into my bedroom one morning to give me a hug and a kiss from daddy. I love that you still want to cuddle. I love that you love to read so much - even if it is the same book five times in a row! :) I love when you look at me and give me a silly face for no reason. I love when you ask me to sing you songs. I love your giggle. 

You truly have a kind and caring soul. You pick up on more things than I wish you would at your age, but you are a comfort to us in those times when we need the reassurance the most. I really believe that you are going to grow up with this huge heart, full of love to share everyone. 

You are growing up too quickly. Each time that I'm away from you even just for a few days, you come back looking even more grown up. You're becoming much more independent, which makes me both incredibly happy and sad. Right now, you're on this kick of saying "When I'm four....." "When I'm four, I'll get dressed by myself" "When I'm four, I get to ride the bus to school" "When I'm four I won't have any accidents" It's adorable. But you sure have given yourself a lot to accomplish when you turn four! :) 

You are starting preschool this fall, four days a week. It's easier for me to be okay with this knowing how excited you are to start school. Even if it is just because you get to ride the bus. You've continued to love ECFE classes this past year - even expanding your areas of play. You especially looked forward to seeing what was in the sensory box each week. You've been taking swimming lessons and again have come so far! You can swim by yourself and your frog floatie. You're doing great about floating on your back and sometimes even your tummy! You even asked Papa to dunk your head under the water in the pool the other night! You started at a new daycare this past year and have really enjoyed being around more boys with your same energy. :) You did Rainbow Room at church on Wednesdays and even stood up and sang in front of the church with your class a couple times. That really made me proud. 

You love going to Iowa to visit the Zaruba farm. You love when it's just your, your cousin Evie and Nana and Papa Zaruba! You ask often to go down there and tell us how much you love your cousin Evie. You also ask to visit Meg in Big Fork and Uncle Dan in Fargo. Really, I think you just like going for road trips! Everything becomes an adventure for you, even just going to the park on a Saturday morning. You love play dates with Liam, which is great because Liam's mommy and I need that time together too! :) You are often very patient when playing with other kids, courteous and really good about sharing. 

You are so good with counting, with singing the ABC's and with singing other songs! You rock at colors and shapes still. Some of your favorite books (that we've read a thousand times), you can "read" those back to us! You still LOVE dinosaurs and you know a good number of different dinosaurs names as well! We've started to work a little bit on tracing and drawing shapes or letters. You of course still love the farm, especially the combine. You pretty  much spend all winter, spring and summer asking if the combine is "awake" yet so you can help Papa and Mark harvest corn. 

You love to watch Daddy go bowling on the Wii so for Daddy's birthday this year, we took you to go bowling for the first time. You beat us both. :) You also loved the Jurassic Park video game. You love watching Daddy play Mario. You love going on walks. You love going down slides at the park - especially the twisty ones. You love going to BounceTown and the Children's Museum. You are so full of energy and excitement and it especially warms my heart when you still do your "Jacob jig". :) 

You are my pride and joy. You are my everything. I am so blessed to be able to call myself your mom. You truly add a bright light to this world. As much as I wish you would stay little, I have enjoyed watching you grow and learn over the past year. I look forward to seeing what year four brings you. Your daddy and I love you with all of our hearts. Happy Birthday, Jacob.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A recap of Spring

Life continues to move at fast pace around here. I can't believe tomorrow is already June. I can't believe my little man is going to four soon!! 

Work has been crazy. We've been trying to fill some positions for a while and that always keeps things interesting - especially when you work at a small nonprofit. The work never stops. We finished our first ever Hats, Horses & Hope fundraiser. The weather was beautiful and overall, the day was a success. We definitely learned a lot and know what changes we'd make in the future. We also made some money! Which is always helpful when doing a fundraising event. We also found out our Executive Director is leaving for another job. This has been hard to process. We have a great team, a great energy and a lot of passion. In the close to 2 years that I've been with PAH, our executive director has been a major point in all of that. While I'm happy for her new job opportunity, I am also incredibly sad. And while I had hoped the summer would slow down a little, it now appears that I'll be helping get our new executive director started. Like I said, the work never stops. :) 

Personally, life has been.... _____. Who knows. Fill in the blank. AJ and I have struggled (I have struggled) some in defining what our relationship looks like now with the divorce. I'm still working through this. I still love him and I still care about him and I still want to support him, but I can't do that as his wife anymore. I'm not sure how to do this yet. 

AJ was recently asked to leave the halfway house he was completing treatment at. This is his story to tell but he found himself without a place to live. Since being at the halfway house, he hasn't been able to come over and visit much and spend much time with Jacob. Most of the time we would see him would be quick visits and almost never at the house. Well the night AJ found himself without a place to live, he came over, played with Jacob and helped put him to bed. That night, I didn't think about sharing anything about what was happening with Jacob. I should have. 

The next morning, he woke up calling for his daddy. When I told him that daddy had to leave last night and was no longer there, Jacob told me "I want to play with daddy. I want to go visit daddy's house soon". Later on the car ride to daycare, Jacob asked me where daddy was, if he was at House of Hope. (We had told Jacob that daddy was living there while he was working on getting better, but nothing more specific). I told him I wasn't sure right now. Then Jacob asked, "Is daddy fixed yet?" 

This broke my heart. It shattered my illusion that I had been successful at protecting Jacob from everything that's been happening. It caused me to question if I've been doing any of this right with Jacob. How much do you tell a three year old? How much detail do you go into? How do you tell him his parents aren't together anymore? I don't have the answers for any of these questions. But Jacob has not been oblivious. 

AJ was able to go stay with his parents for awhile and has found a place to live, is looking for a job and to get back into an outpatient treatment program. But he's no longer in the area. And we have to figure out how to explain this to Jacob. 

Luckily, Jacob was able to go spend some time in Iowa over the Memorial Day weekend with his daddy, cousin Evie and Nana and Papa Z. It sounds like they all had a blast and that Jacob and Evie played hard together! I also think that Jacob really enjoyed the time with just his daddy around - I know AJ did. :) 

I spent the holiday weekend on my self-care. Indulging in some foods I've been trying to avoid in order to eat healthier, catching up on movies I've been wanting to see and TV shows that are impossible to watch with a toddler running around. :) I even got a massage on Saturday and it was wonderful heaven. On Sunday I got to see some cousins who I don't get to see nearly enough and then spent the evening/night in the Twin Cities with two girl friends who I also don't get to see nearly enough. It was a fantastic time to just escape everything for a while, have some fun, but also catch up and have some really great conversations with some really important people to me. 

I think we're looking forward to summer around here and being able to enjoy the warmer weather and spend more time outdoors. Looking back on the past few weeks, Easter was good. We enjoyed having Uncle Dan and Josh and Aunt Megan down, Jacob went on an Easter egg hunt, found his Easter basket from the Easter Bunny and just enjoyed being the center of attention with everyone around. :) My Grandpa's service up at Fort Snelling and the funeral in Mankato were days filled with memories, love, laughter, tears and family. I felt very blessed for such an amazing family. 

I also bought a new car! I finally decided it was time to upgrade and purchased a 2014 Honda CR-V. I'm really loving the extra space and will really enjoy the All-wheel drive this winter! Jacob is also a big fan. :)

Jacob sang really well with his Rainbow Room class for the end of the year. They sang "This little light is mine" and Jacob was front and center! :) However, within the next two days, we were at the doctor's office battling an ear infection. Jacob was not a fan of his medicine! But bribery works. Ha!! 

Mother's Day was a great day. Jacob did a great job sitting through two church services while I sang. We enjoyed a nice meal with some family and spent the day just enjoying each other's company. :) I am so blessed to be Jacob's mother. He may push my buttons more often than not, but I wouldn't change him for the world! I love that kid. 


Monday, May 1, 2017

Step Four

I went back to Al-Anon tonight (Friday) after missing a couple of weeks. And as is normal when I go to Al-Anon, I hear exactly what I need to hear. At this particular meeting, we read from each book the day’s reading and then anyone can share.

After the readings and a few others shared, I decided to share. And it was while I was talking that I had this realization. The past two weeks that I missed were Good Friday and then my Grandpa’s burial in the Cities. In the past two weeks, I’ve been struggling with how to process my feelings, my thoughts about everything, everything going on. I recently shared that I need to do better with my self-care, my self-love. The thing that was missing during those two weeks? Going to Al-Anon. Doing the daily readings. Working the program myself. Relying on my higher power as I understand him.

It was crazy the feeling of calm I felt sitting back in that room tonight for the meeting. I realized that there were many times in the past two weeks that I’ve looked at the books on my nightstand and tell myself I should read today’s readings, but never get to it. I realized tonight that a big part of my new self-care needs to include Al-Anon and the program.

Maybe you’re familiar with the 12 Steps of AA and Al-Anon and maybe you’re not, but let me share them here with you.

Twelve Steps
  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

© Al-Anon's Twelve Steps, copyright 1996 by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.

Through the program, in Al-Anon specifically speaking, I work through these steps myself. I admit I’m powerless. I admit that I have wrongdoings. I admit that I have shortcomings. I ask God for His help for me. I pray for the power of understanding of His will for me.

Did you catch the common factor here?

Me. I.

And this is where I currently am. Recognizing that part of my self-care is really digging deep to determine who I am as a person. I am not responsible for anyone else’s actions. I am not responsible for anyone else’s choices. I am not in charge of anyone else. (Jacob – for the time being -  excluded from this ☺️) I must be me. 

Looking back at the First Step, it took coming to Al-Anon to really admit this. I always knew it but didn’t want to admit it and therefore didn’t believe it. Coming to Al-Anon, doing the readings, talking with others, it became easier to accept. I still have to constantly remind myself of this. But I accept it.

Steps Two and Three were easy for me. I’ve always had a great relationship with God and have been working on a closer relationship recently through Bible journaling. These two steps were easy to accept.

Step Four. Oh step four. This is where I’m stuck. This is where my fear is holding me back.

“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

I am afraid. I am afraid to dig deep. I am afraid of what I’ll find. I’m afraid to see who I am individually. I’m afraid to find my faults, my wrongs, my shortcomings.

I’ve stayed on this step for a while. I haven’t even tried. But I realized if I’m serious about 2017 being the Year of ME, then I need to complete Step Four.

Maybe if I’m really brave enough, I’ll share this journey with you at some point. But for now, I’m going to work on Step Four. I’m going to do the daily readings. I’m going to keep going to meetings. And I’m going to keep looking at the list I made the other day with my other self-care needs.
“It may not be the answer I want, but I have to remember that it may be what I need.” 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Self-Care

I recently made myself go back and re-read my blog post from right after the new year. The post where I declared 2017 as the "Year of ME". Maybe I should set myself a calendar reminder to read it each week. 

Recently, I've been struggling with the idea of self-care. I had an amazing conversation with a beautiful and strong cousin of mine who made a point to call me out on this. She said "2017 is the year of Liz - make sure you're doing that!" And it made me step back and take a look at the past few months and ask myself: Have I been doing all that I hoped to do? All that I want to do? All that I need to do? 

Just a few days later, my mom and I were talking about how we each lack in self-care but need to prioritize it. (At least I now know where I get it from...hehe) I mentioned that I don't know what simple things I can be doing to help improve my self-care. Like yes, taking a relaxing bubble bath is nice but doesn't necessarily stop me from continuing to think about everything else going on. I don't know what my self-care practices should be. My mom - ever so wise - countered my thoughts and said "maybe your self-care needs to look bigger". Her examples? Continuing to pay off my debt, look into getting a "new" car, continuing to protect myself and Jacob financially, determining what my new relationship with Austin is... 

The very next day, I was once again amazed with God's timing. The weekly messaging for Weight Watchers was literally about self-care. The cover - "Take good care of yourself". And while yes, this message was geared towards losing weight, I picked up the overall message. 

Liz, get your self-care in order. 

So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to write out what I want my self-care to look like. I'm going to write down the things I'm committing to do for a better me. While I have a general idea in my head, writing them down always make it seem more real. Honestly, I should write them down here for you all to see, but I'm still scared of doing that. Maybe someday. But if you're willing to help me - call me out. Ask me about my self care. Ask me how my list is looking. Am I accomplishing what I want? Am I sticking with my self-care? 

And since part of my "year of ME" is to try and be a better friend - let me ask you! What are you doing for self-care? Is there anything that I can help you with? Please, let me know. I'm here. 


**Edit: True to my word, I went to go write my list and look what I found! Apparently I had already started a list of what I've accomplished so far in 2017! I should post this somewhere I can see it every day. Also, that blurred out picture (because I'm not ready to share yet!), that's my list for self-care. Something else I need to make sure I see every day.