Monday, October 5, 2015

Eagle Mountain!

When we went on our annual August camping trip, we decided to take an afternoon and climb to the tallest peak in Minnesota- Eagle Mountain.

This little lady walked all 7 miles on her own two feet, and looked just as fresh at the end as when she started.
 Everyn got to ride part of the time, and she enjoyed her little perch very much.  The people taking turns carrying her did not love it, but it was tolerable :)

It was a beautiful climb!
 Lincoln was  a trooper, despite not feeling that great. 
 We came upon this gorgeous lake part way up.  All of us wished that we had kayaks or canoes to go exploring it. 

 Everyone was relieved to make it to the top, and were pretty proud to be "the tallest person in Minnesota" for a brief few seconds.
 They each took a turn basking in the glory of making it...
 Some more exhilarated than others...
 Some with less complaining than others...
 but all happy with the accomplishment...or at least that the uphill climb was over.
 And then we climbed down and drove into Grand Marais to enjoy the "World's Greatest Donuts".  I don't know if they were actually the "World's Greatest", but they were really good!

Family adventures, some of my very favorite things!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Julie Goes to France

Yes, you read that right. 

I, mother of 5, took a vacation for 8 days to France.

While most of my friends go to all inclusives in Cancun, laying on the beach in bikinis and large hats, I walked 12 miles a day in 30 degree weather to see all that history has to offer in Paris, Grenoble and Geneva.

Definitely more my style.

I really didn't think we would go to Europe before the kids were all grown up.  It actually wasn't at the top of our list for vacationing spots and really not even on our get-away radar.  All that changed when Noah came home and told me that his company was sending him to France for 14 days in January. I, still traumatized by last January, declared that he could not leave me for 14 days alone with 5 kids in the dead of winter.

Instead, I would come along.

So off I went to secure a passport and a plane ticket.

It was determined that 14 days would be too long for me to be away, but that 8 days would be ok.  We worked childcare out with our parents (thanks parents and in laws!) and I requested vacation from work. 

So many details- shifts at work, childcare for shifts that I had to work while Noah was gone and I was home, homeschooling plans, kids activities, money for lunches, snacks for preschool, packing, itinerary for me, museums, hotels, train tickets.

But finally Noah left and a few days later I left too.

Poor Roman did not want us to go, and I know he was especially traumatized by the fact that our plane would be flying over the ocean.  I think his biggest fear in life is being dumped out of a plane into the ocean where he would be surrounded by all of the ocean animals that freak him out.  And honestly, I did breathe a sigh of relief when I saw on the flight monitor that we were back over land.  I would rather crash on land, I think. But I tried not to think.

I arrived in Paris, where I planned to spend a whirlwind 24 hours before getting on a train to join Noah in Grenoble, France.

And that is what I did.

My overnight flight had lots of empty seats, so I actually had 4 seats to myself and was able to get at least some sleep.  The flight made me laugh though.  I liked the little ipad-esque thing on my seat.  I actually can't read very well on planes due to the motion, so having a variety of movies and tv shows was convenient.  What made me laugh though was how much they fed you.  It was like they were trying to hard to keep people busy on the flight.  First we had ear buds and eye covers, then it was wet wipes, then we had garbage, than we had snack, then it was garbage again.  Next it was supper, then it was drinks, then it was garbage, then it was nap time. As my mom said, plane rides feel a little like preschool.

Not that there is anything wrong with preschool.

Finally my plane landed at the Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris at 8:30 am their time and 1:30am my time.  I was finally ready to start my adventure as a tourist.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Confession May be Good for the Soul...But Maybe Not When You Have Boys?

Back before we were married, Noah and I would sometimes go to Barnes and Noble.  Now, this was a concession on my part, because even though I love to read and I find books interesting and informative and slightly addicting- I actually do not like book stores very much.  Libraries, yes.  I love libraries.  In libraries, books are free.  You don't have to finish them, you don't have to love them.  You have nothing invested in them- you can just take them for what they are.  They are there for enjoying or despising and then you chuck them in the return box early in the morning the day after they are due, but before the library actually opens, and you are done, moving on with your life.

But buying books, that is another story (ha!).  They look pretty, they look shiny, they look promising- and then you spend way too much money only to be disappointed by them, or have them lay there unread, day after day, month after month, mocking you.  Now, I know that you don't have to buy books at the book store, you can just browse, but to me it feels wrong to sit and read all you want at a bookstore without actually buying the book.  It feels like cheating, and I am nothing if not a rule follower. 

But Noah?  Noah loves to spend time in bookstores.  He also loves to buy books- pretty books, shiny books, thick books, thin books.  Unfortunately, they are rarely ever read books.  (I hear him protesting already...but the numbers don't lie). 

I digress, and have probably worked my way into an unintended fight, because if there is anything that my husband holds dear- it is hardcover, real books- whether they be read or not.

So I would trail after him at Barnes and Noble, looking around and getting more nervous by the minute.  Why the nervousness?  Well, we were usually there in the evening and there is actually very little that gives me greater anxiety then being in a store near closing time. 

I am not joking.

I would never, by choice, be in a store when the "closing in 15 minutes" announcement comes on over the loudspeaker.  I can feel my heart rate increasing, my palms get sweaty, I get panicked, nervous, upset.  I don't have overwhelming problems with anxiety normally, but get me in a store at 2045 and I turn into a anxious mess. 

When I was a kid I read a book called "Help, I'm a Prisoner in the Library".  I actually think this book is the cause of my anxiety.  I read a lot of books as a child, but this one really struck a cord with me and led to a lifelong fear of being locked into a place after it was closed for the night.

Recently I came across the book at my parent's house and read it to the boys.  In a light hearted, bonding moment I explained my fear to the boys, forgetting that in the past telling them that I was afraid of snakes, frogs, toads and mice has led to them being shown to me with much glee.

I know they haven't forgotten, the other night I was leaving for the Y and Deacon wanted to know when I would be home. He said, "It closes at 10, right?  So I know you will leave for home no later than 9:45..."

He's got my number.

Monday, September 15, 2014

He's Pretty Awesome

The last couple months have been crazy.  It has been a whirlwind of end of summer fun, busy shifts at the hospital, school prep.  Now we are in the full swing of school, flag football, busy shifts at the hospital, house work and yard work. 

I will never catch up on blogging about all the fun, memories, thoughts and impressions from the last few months.  Nor will I be able to manage a lot of posts about the school curriculum plans for this year. 

But I will say this: My house is officially in "homeschooling" mode, which means that only the minimum housework is getting done, but I like to think that maximum learning is being accomplished.  I have had crazy, long shifts at the hospital, but my mom, sister and Noah have helped out and I have made it through.  The kids are happy, and my schedule is looser this fall than it was last year.  I think that will be good for my sanity.

And Noah has quietly been helping out, trying to come home earlier so I can get a break and a chance to rest.  He has been cooking and transporting.

He's pretty awesome.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


I know, once again I haven't blogged for most of the month.  I haven't finished my vacation posts, I haven't posted pictures of Everyn's hair loss or obsessed over how 2/3's of summer is gone.  I haven't posted pictures about baseball or our 14th anniversary.

We have been enjoying summer, and I have kept our days fairly unscheduled with just a vague "bucket" list and a lot of time just bumming around the house and yard, hanging out with neighbors and reconnecting with friends.

I haven't blogged, however, because this is the post that I have been wanting to write, and it is also the one that I just haven't known how to write.

I miscarried our 6th baby at the beginning of the month.  I wasn't very far along, just 6 weeks, but as the nurse told me: a loss is still a loss.  And I am ok.  I really am doing far better than I expected that I would be if I ever imagined these circumstances.    But this loss has caused me to spend a lot of time thinking and pondering and it is interrupted by moments of sadness.

There is a girl at work who is pregnant with her first baby.  I am SO EXCITED for her, but she is due just a month or so before I would have been.  I am looking forward to holding her baby and thinking of my own, but watching her experience pregnancy makes me wish I was still pregnant too.

We talked to the boys about this, and we have been pretty open about it.  I have talked to a number of my friends, because for me, processing verbally is a way for me to heal.  I can talk about it without tears, and my friends/family have been a support for me.

I have been left thinking about a couple of things, though.  First of all, grief.  Everyone grieves in their own way, and everyone's experiences are a little bit different.  This miscarriage didn't devastate me, and there are probably a lot of factors for that.  That does not mean, however, that miscarriages aren't a big deal.  The amount of loss a person feels is probably affected by a lot of things, but it is still a loss.  Being sensitive to where people are at is important. Don't think they are overly emotional if they are more upset than you might be and on the flip side, don't think people callous if they are not crying as much as you think they should.  Everyone is different.

Secondly, I have been thinking about how we really don't always know what is going on in people's lives.  Even people that we are close to.  I am one that is quick to judge, but this experience (and some other things that have happened this month) have made me realize that we really don't know everything.  I was in the middle of a miscarriage and still working my job, still hanging out with friends and no one knew.  I could have chosen to keep it to myself and it would have been my secret.  I knew that for me that was not a healthy choice, but it did make me wonder how many people I know go through pain and loss silently, putting on a happy face.

The last thing that I have been thinking about is what to say when people grieve and experience loss.  I struggle with what to say in these situations, and so I tend to be very forgiving of people who put their foot in their mouth.  It is easy to do, and since everyone is so different, something you say that is extra encouraging to one person could come across as offensive to someone else.  Because of that, I can't speak for anyone but myself.  But for me, it actually didn't really matter what a friend said.  What mattered is that I could sense that they cared for me and that they acknowledged that what I was saying to them was important to me.  And I know my friend's hearts and how much they love me and how they communicate so differently from each other, and yet they all care.

One friend just said, "I am so sorry, Julie".  And it was enough.  Another friend, with him I hash out all the details of life, asked me details and gave me permission to talk.  My family knows that I need space sometimes, and they gave it to me while making sure that I knew that they were there if I needed them.  Noah's mom said she would pray for us (and I know she did) and called to check on us. A couple more friends who have also experienced losses validated my feelings and had tears in their eyes along with me.  My practical friend that I see a lot let me talk without passing judgement or giving opinions.  I had encouraging emails that showed me that friends, even in the midst of their busy days, took time to care.  All the responses were so different, and yet they were the exact responses that I would have expected from those friends.

The most heart breaking moment was, in the middle of the miscarriage, when Noah put his hand on my stomach as if he were saying goodbye.  We hadn't really gotten much of a chance to say "hello" yet, and it was already "goodbye". 

Monday, July 7, 2014

After 13 years of Nursing

13 years ago I started my first job as an RN.  I have worked at 3 different hospitals and they all have had their own quirks and they all have had their own victories and their own struggles. 

A couple of things have remained the same though in all of those jobs: the difficulty in dealing with patients/families who do not view death as a natural part of life, and how bad it feels to cause people pain/discomfort when the end result is only being a few more days on this earth.

This is a fabulous article, and I think one that is well worth the read- especially for people that are not in a health care field.

Friday, June 27, 2014


Accomplishments of the Week:

1. Took 4 kids (the younger ones)to Y pool by myself and no one died
2. Took 4 kids (the younger ones) to Y pool and splash deck by myself and no one died
3. Took 5 kids (along with a friend and her 2) to the beach and no one died
4. Grandma found ballet slippers and tap shoes for a quarter a pair at a garage sale
5. have picked almost 50 cups of strawberries from my little patch


Berean finally did the monkey bars ALL BY HERSELF!

She is one proud girl!