along came a spider

On our recent trip to Great Wolf Lodge near Centralia, WA, we had one of those “that was really good timing” experiences.  When we first entered the lodge, there was a gigantic balloon spider on the main floor.  (I never thought I would ever type the term “gigantic balloon spider” on this blog!)  It was so cool!  I’m not a big fan of spiders myself, but we couldn’t help but appreciate the creativity and organization that went into such a massive project.  And when we learned that they would be hanging it from the ceiling later that evening at 10 p.m., we didn’t hesitate to put that event on our schedule, even though it wasn’t really an official event.

Maybe it’s because Brent’s job as a pastor and leader involves so much creativity, but we almost can’t help ourselves when it comes to big projects like this.  Others might sit back a be amazed at the sight, but we always have a tendency to want to ask questions and get a look behind the scenes so we can see the “how” of this kind of stuff.  For us, sometimes the process is just as impressive as the finished product.  Who knew you could accomplish so much with just a whole bunch of balloons and some fishing wire?

We appreciated watching the teamwork involved with hanging the big spider, chatting with the balloon artist, and how creativity was being prioritized.  I must admit that if it had been some kind of spider that was more scary and “Halloweeny”, I probably would have avoided the lobby at all costs, but fortunately that wasn’t the case.  I just thought the whole this was pretty neat.  We had fun brainstorming about different huge balloon sculptures that could be used at our church:  Noah’s ark, a lion, the sun, an angel, almost anything!  The possibilities are almost endless!

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October

I think Anne Shirley might have said it best when she proclaimed, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  The air is crisp, the leaves are beaming with bright colors, and I get to start wearing cozy sweaters.  All great things!  And don’t get me started on the vast amount of pumpkin products that I’m finding at Trader Joe’s right now.  It’s like some sort of pumpkin madness has taken over the store!  But I’m not complaining.  Believe me, I’m enjoying every minute of it.

Awhile back, we went with some friends to gather a few (and by a few I mean many) branches of fall-colored leaves.  And now those branches are spreading their fall cheer in all kinds of nooks and crannies of our home.  The biggest bunch I put right on the front door.  I want to guests (and me) to walk into the house being welcomed by fall’s warm colors.  The saying usually goes, “Take time to smell the roses,”  but right now I think it would be appropriate to say, “Take some time to enjoy October.”

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my buddy and me

my buddy and me

my beautiful friend, Jo

my beautiful friend, Jo

Conquerers!

Conquerers!

someone is on a brave adventure

someone is on a brave adventure

fall vacation

If we can’t figure out how to take an extended summer vacation, we do the next best thing:  we just take it in the fall instead!  Sounds like a great idea, right?  So last week we opted out of all our weekly obligations (except Brent’s staff meeting) and took the kids up to Washington to spend a few days at Great Wolf Lodge near Centralia.  We’ve been to indoor water parks before when we lived in Minnesota, but that’s been awhile.  And our kids are much bigger now, which makes things easier.  But it also makes me a little sad to think that we never once went to the kiddie pool area the whole time.  My how time flies!

We made use of the water park, which has some pretty cool slides and stays at a temperature of about 84 degrees all the time, but we also splurged and bought passes to the ropes course so we weren’t just climbing stairs to the water slides all day long.  And, of course, we took some time out to explore the antique district down the road in Centralia.  We have a tendency to drag our kids into all kinds of crazy shops, and I have to say that they are very patient with us.  Thank you kiddos!  The other highlight of the trip is was that we took advantage of some of the restaurant opportunities that we don’t have in Bend.  We’re still waiting for the day when a Chipotle or a Burgerville comes to our side of the mountains.  But until that day comes, we’ll just keep visiting those places when we take trips like this one.

We had a great time just being together.  When one of my friends asked me if we had fun, I told her that the best part was having uninterrupted time with the kids.  I’m grateful that we had the chance to take the trip.  We become more aware every day how short our time is with the kids.  And that no stage that they’re in is going to last forever.  So for now it’s back to the real world, with meetings and schoolwork and laundry and no secret sauce from Burgerville.  Oh well.  A girl can dream, right?  Enjoy the pictures.  There’s a lot them this time!

our wolf pack

our wolf pack

watching a little show

watching a little show

ready for the slides

ready for the slides

my girls

my girls

Blake

Blake

getting ready for the ropes course

getting ready for the ropes course

ready to go

ready to go

Superman with his super gear

Superman with his super gear

up so high

up so high

I conquered it!

I conquered it!

crossing the chasm

crossing the chasm

Lauren and me

Lauren and me

character greet & meet

character greet & meet

a place of yumminess

a place of yumminess

our patient children waiting around for their parents

our patient children waiting around for their parents

My Surgery

Since this blog is about my life (not just the kids, not just the church, and not just homeschooling), I would be remiss if I didn’t post something about the surgery I had two weeks ago. Don’t worry. It wasn’t an emergency and it wasn’t life-threatening.

Here is how it all went down. In August I went in for my annual exam. Everything looks great and I’m feeling good. All of my blood work numbers came back with healthy results and I have still managed to avoid getting on any regular medications and I’m hoping to avoid that for a very long time. At the doctor visit, the wonderful nurse practitioner asked me if I had any concerns. I told her that my only concern was the bump on my head. She said, “I don’t see a bump.” But as I pulled back my hair she could see what I was talking about and didn’t think twice about referring me to a surgeon. The best way for me to describe the bump’s location is to say that if the bump continued to grow, you would think I was growing a unicorn horn. Kind of weird, but still true.

A few weeks later at the surgeon’s office, it was decided that the bump was too big for a quick fix. I was going to need surgery. So we made plans and tried to be as prepared as possible. For the outpatient surgery, Brent went with me and kept reminding me that everything was going to be okay. Before the surgery, it was fascinating to watch all of the nurses and doctors work together as a team. At first it was a little overwhelming to have a whole bunch of people buzzing around me. But I reminded myself that all of them were there to make sure of one thing: to make sure that the procedure was a success. I kind of like having all of those people on my side. It ended up being reassuring to have them all there.

When I first woke up from the surgery I had two clear thoughts. The first was, “I woke up! Hurray!” The second was, “Wow! My head hurts!” They tried to give me some kind of narcotic medicine for the pain, but my body didn’t react very well to that. So I was sent home to start my prescription pain meds that I had filled ahead of time. That meds kept me in a daze for about a day. But honestly, it wasn’t helping much with the throbbing in my head. So eventually, I just decided to scrap it. Goodbye weird medicine!

During the surgery, the bump removal also meant there was some skin removal. Which means that there was a lot of skin stretching to bring everything back together. (Sorry if that’s kind of gross for some of you.). So now, instead of a unicorn horn, I have a Frankenstein scar! What an exchange! At least it isn’t permanent. All of my stitches will be gone after awhile, some next week and some a few weeks later.

I’m pretty pleased with the post-surgery progress. Here are some of the things that have been helpful with my body’s recovery:

1. Ice packs. (and a little ibuprofen). No medicine has been nearly effective as an ice pack in helping with my head’s throbbing. So I just take some ibuprofen once or twice a day to avoid a headache for the sensitive head, but I’m much more diligent about icing the scar area on a regular basis.

2. Vitamins. My surgeon gave me some literature that recommended taking vitamin C and zinc to help the body as it was healing. I like any solution that’s cheap and easy.

3. Walking shoes. (This is another part that might seem kind of gross.). Any surgery veteran knows that the first question your doctor will ask you is, “How are you feeling?” But the next question is usually, “Have you had a bowel movement?” Awkward! But still important. I tried to eat lots of fiber, even though I wasn’t eating much, and tried to start walking as soon as possible to try get things “moving along.” On the day I was ready to go buy some milk of magnesia, everything started working again! Thank goodness.

The other advantage to staying active was that it caused a distraction. Going for walks kept my mind and body busy about lots of things, so that I wasn’t always focused on the hurting head.

4. Accepting help. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t be too proud to let your friends and family help you. Prayers, meals, rides for the kids’ activities, whatever helps.

5. Patience. I wanted to be able to just jump back into regular life with a regular schedule. But there was no way I could pull that off! Oh well. I guess it’s better to heal right than heal fast. I also didn’t want to overdue it and make the recovery last even longer.

Just so you know, the bump the surgeon removed was tested. It was a cyst and had no cancer in it. Praise the Lord! And now I’ve made it three days Ina row without any ibuprofen or ice packs. Hurray! So there you go, the complete surgery report with more details than you ever wanted. At least I can say that I’m not holding things back from the blog, right? Happy healing!