Saturday, February 28, 2009

25 Random tidbits about Tonya

Since I took the time to post this on Facebook a few days ago, I figured I'd post it here too...
1. I worked briefly as a live-in nanny for a family on the Plaza in 1993. The family was awful, but the Plaza lights were beautiful at Christmas time.
2. I worked at Sheplers Western Wear in 1994. I still have the boots to prove it! I was country crazy... I could two-step and swing dance back in the day.
3. Marci and Michelle are the first friends that I have a memory of (age 5), but Susan was the first girlfriend I ever let know all my secret thoughts (age 30). Now everyone knows my secret thoughts (you're reading them now). I have really amazing friends. Amazing.
4. I would go on the Amazing Race in a heartbeat, but would not be willing to do a food challenge. Neither would Bryan, so I'd either need to do it with a different partner or we'd just be eliminated. I'd rather be eliminated...
5. I lived in Orlando from age 21-27. I loved the beach and area attractions, but I missed the Midwest every single day. For me - you can't beat older parts of this city in the spring and summer. I love hydrangeas, vines and shade trees. And old buildings with character too. Nothing in Orlando is much older than I am and nothing worthwhile grows in sand.
6. I didn't figure out how to be a good student until I was about 25. If I went back to college now, I'd sit in the front row, enjoy the reading, and ask every question I had.
7. I have discovered that healing beats coping - always.
8. I love my in-laws.
9. I have two children. In my lifetime, I have been pregnant for 18 months and one week; labored for 39 hours and 15 minutes; and nursed babies for two full years. I remind my kids of this every time one of them does something to jeopardize his well-being. "I've put a lot into you - be careful!"
10. I have not worked out in over 7 years. Sometimes I think I want to, but I get tired just thinking about it. ha
11. I do not buy cakes.. I took a cake decorating class and have determined to make all birthday cakes from here on out. My kids LOVE it.
12. I am not artistic at all! I cannot sing, play an instrument, draw or paint... I love photography, but I wouldn't say I'm good at it. I can hold my own when it comes to scrapbooking though. Does that count as art?
13. I have recently started writing a book. I have one story to tell. One. I am not creative.
14. We never traveled when I was growing up. I went to Dallas with friends right after I graduated from high school. Prior to that, I'd never been outside of this state or the one directly to the east. (We lived in California and Oregon when I was very little, but I don't remember it.)
15. I don't like to watch movie previews or read the info before renting... I prefer to be completely surprised. However, I always flip to the end of a book to know how it ends before I get far into it.
16. My birth father is 6'4" and probably still has a 30" waist. My boys' pediatrician has predicated that they will be about 6'5". Looks like we passed all the "tall" genes on to our kids. Also - my father has red hair and freckles. I thought for sure I'd pass that on!
17. As a kid, my favorite sports were swimming, diving, ice skating, gymnastics, baseball, and doing bike stunts with the neighborhood boys. I desperately wanted a blue and yellow BMX, but instead got a pink huffy with a banana seat! I think I'm still mad about that.
18. While I've never really had a desire to get a pet, I've had quite a few. Dogs have been the most popular, but cats and fish too. (Did that sound like Dr. Seuss to you?)
19. I spent 10 days in Europe with friends in 1998. We traveled by train between Paris, Amsterdam and London. I was so excited when I left, I just knew I was returning a changed woman. That eventually faded - I'm back to knowing nothing about art, history and culture.
20. I would like to live in Paris... more of an extended vacation really. Bryan wants nothing to do with this plan, so I keep selling it as a month long vacation. I just think I should live as a Parisian for a little while before I die.
21. I spend about 15 hours a week doing volunteer work related to child sexual abuse. The organizations I work with have an emphasis on - education, awareness, prevention and treatment.
22. I took several Caribbean cruises between the ages of 25 and 30. Since having kids though, our typical vacation consists of a weekend in Omaha catching a minor league baseball game and hitting the zoo. We did go to Washington D.C. last summer - that was wonderful.
23. I forbid for our TV to ever land on MTV. That network is possibly single-handedly responsible for the moral decay of our society. "A Double Shot at Love", seriously? Trash TV.
24. Bryan and I used to do a lot of gardening and landscaping before we had the boys. We loved it. We should get back to that again. The rock wall and beds in front of our house - we did that!
25. Needles and knives freak me out (and always have) but my ambition as a 4th grader was to one day become a nurse. I am NOT a nurse. I am the last person who should ever consider nursing as a career.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Relay for Life

As far as I know, I have never had a family member suffer from any form of cancer. However, on the day of my senior prom, I learned that I'd just lost the most influential woman in my life to colon cancer. She was my friend's mother... She was like a mother to me and she is the woman who introduced me to Jesus Christ.

It is in her memory, and in support of her grandson Jack, that I am walking in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life on June 19th. If your life has been touched by cancer, you know how devastating it can be. Support those who are battling cancer and help fund continued cancer research. You may make a donation here. Thanks for your consideration, friends. God bless!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I want to be known

If you haven't noticed, I think... A lot. I'm not the morbid type, but I do occasionally think about how life would be for my boys if something happened to me. As long as they have their father, I know that they would get to know me, through him. A thought, feeling or emotion does not pass through me without Bryan knowing about it. I know - some of you are thinking "yikes!". But we're on the same page. He knows me well.

But, if something should happen to both of us (heaven forbid) does anyone else know me well enough to tell my boys who their mother really was? Not just the general stuff, but deep down. Do others know what I cherish and value? Do others know where my passions lie? Do others know the matters of my heart? That is a big part of why I blog. I want to be known. For my kids' sake, for my sake, for the sake of my friendships. I want the people in my life to know how happy I am, how much I love and am loved, and all the silly little stuff in between - like potty training issues, Valentine's parties or Mom's kindergarten anxieties. Thanks to those of you who read my ramblings - investing your time in knowing me. The only downside is that blogging is one-sided. I write, you read. My suggestion - leave comments or start blogging too! That way I get to glimpse into your life and get to know you as well.

Richly blessed

I joined Facebook last week. My very first Facebook friend was a blast from the far past... One of my very first friends - a girl I met when I was 5 years old. I hadn't talked to her since 1995, so it was a very pleasant and unexpected surprise. A few days later, I was reconnected with two other girls who were some of my very best friends during my teen years. I hadn't heard from them since 1990.

My life was not exactly charmed when I knew these girls... There was a lot of turmoil and very little happiness. When I look back at that time in my life, I am amazed at just how much these girls and their friendship impacted my life. We were just kids - just fooling around at the public pool, ice skating rinks, and slumber parties - but what was normal, run-of-the-mill fun is something that I recognize now as a tremendous blessing in my life. As an adult and leader in ministry, I catch myself talking about relationships and using words like "pouring into someone" - referring to time, efforts and emotion that I invest in another human being. As kids, these friends did not know they were doing just that - pouring goodness into my life. I didn't sit around thinking about it (after all, I was just a little kid) but these friends showed me love and gave me hope and an expectation that things could get better. I'm so glad that I knew them then and have the chance to know them again now.

I do not believe in coincidences... I believe in my heart that these girls were placed in my life at a time when I most needed them. They were God's gift to me. His ever present provision. I am humbled that He would think that much of me.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

We're sick.... but excited!

What a week.. I came down with a nasty stomach bug on Tuesday night. It was so bad that I didn't come out of my bedroom for nearly 48 hours. Bryan had to miss a basketball game on Wednesday night in order to stay home and take care of the kids. He has season tickets with his dad, so it's not as if he didn't go to the 17 other home games this season... Still - I felt bad. Rock chalk. As my stomach was getting a little better, Zach came down with a bad sore throat. He had a fever last night and has been coughing some. He's temperamental and is napping right now - for the second day in a row. I know he's sick when he naps... Bryan came down with pink eye last night! What a weird combination of illnesses we've had this week. Pink eye, however, did not stop him from going to the basketball game today! Luke is the only one who has not been sick this week.. But he always naps at this time, so both boys are fast asleep.

I've used this time to catch up on another ministry lesson and drafted some marketing stuff for the Run and Rally to Stop the Silence. It is the 6th annual walk to raise awareness of the epidemic of child sexual abuse. Early next week, I will begin sending this piece I just drafted to church leaders in the areas surrounding Washington D.C. - that's where the walk is this year. My role with Stop the Silence is to get churches involved in the effort to raise awareness, fund prevention and treatment for victims of sexual abuse, and to allow victims to have a voice - coming out of the silence! It is an exciting organization and I'm thrilled to be able to help. Brace yourselves... I may be organizing a walk in our metro area next year! In addition to inviting church leaders to participate in the D.C. walk, I am also being allowed to encourage them to start support groups at their churches. How awesome is that?!

By the way - if you're in DC - please consider participating in the Run and Rally to Stop the Silence, April 19, 8am - noon.

Well, I think I will go have a cup of tea before the kiddos get out of bed... I don't know why, but that suddenly sounds yummy. Glad to be back out of bed and in the blogging world again. We obviously do not have a laptop --- nor do we have DVR in our bedroom. Talk about a LONG couple of days!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bye-bye, crib ... Hello, big boy bottom bunk

It was obvious that Luke was not going to move out of his crib if it was still an option, so Sunday night we made a big deal out of taking the crib apart and moving some of Luke's things into the boys' new shared bedroom. We gathered Daddy's tools and Luke's play tools and Luke and Daddy disassembled the crib together. Then, Mommy, Luke and Zachary moved some of Luke's things into the room the boys would now be sharing. Zach expressed some concerns about this, "Uh, that's going to take up some room..." But he got over it quickly. We all fussed over Luke being such a big boy (Grandpa was here too) and Zach explained how big boys sleep. Luke was very excited, until bedtime rolled around. He cried and cried. Begged for his crib. Then begged for Mommy to snuggle him; which I did. He calmed down enough for me to leave and eventually drifted off to sleep. He's been sleeping happily in his big boy bottom bunk ever since.

Uh, yes.. He is swinging from a bar that supports the top bunk. He loves playing "monkey".

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Our hearts' content...

Bryan and I have only had dinner out on February 14th once; and that was because friends invited us on a double date. We do, however, treat the kids to heart shaped donuts at Krispy Kreme every year. Most years I've taken them by myself, but this year we were delighted to have Daddy with us! And since it was a Saturday, we made the entire day a special occasion...

Luke loved starting the morning off with about 3,000 calories in donuts!

Zachary too..

From there we headed down to a shopping area that never struck me as extraordinary, till this weekend.. As we walked from one place to the next with our children, I noticed all the connecting catwalks and corridors that I'd taken for granted my entire life. This "mall" connects to two hotels, a children's creative museum place, a performing arts theater, an outdoor ice rink, an area for traveling exhibits, and every other ordinary shopping mall feature.

We started out at the children's creative museum. In this shot, Bryan is helping the boys draw on cardboard that will eventually be cut into a puzzle.

Zach helps cut his puzzle.

Luke loved the sink that's powered by a foot peddle. We had one of these in my grade school bathroom!

From there we went to see the traveling Wizard of Oz exhibit. Our kids had never seen the movie, so Zach spent the next 24 hours asking us all about it. Blockbuster doesn't carry it and it's not sold at Target or WalMart anymore, so we frantically called and emailed our friends trying to find a copy. We finally found one... And watched the movie three times in less than 24 hours!

The kids really love the Wicked Witch of the West and her monkeys.

Sitting in Dorothey's lop-sided house after it landed on the witch.

And we ended our trip with a burgers and fries, delivered to our table by a train!

We ate more junk in one day than is typical, but thankfully no one threw it all up... Which was certainly a possibility, considering that Mommy also gave the boys M&M filled hearts, NaNa brought over a plate of brownies and Grandpa brought over cookies.

I have the best husband

Bryan just came in and tossed a booklet on the desk from a child abuse prevention class that we took more than a month ago. It's been sitting in his car all this time... Then, as he walk away, he said, "Hey, I took an extra book and gave it to Sam at work. He has two little girls. I figured it was excellent information that he needed to have. Sam seemed to appreciate it - he read some of it over break." What a guy. A walking ad for child abuse prevention and recognition. I just love him!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


My most important roles in life are those of wife and mother. In the last few days, anytime Bryan and I have had the slightest disagreement or discussion, Zach has reprimanded me for "arguing" with Daddy. We try to explain that we are not "arguing", but rather discussing something that needs to be resolved. Yesterday it was about Luke demanding that "Mommy will help me", refusing to let Bryan help him in any way. I said that it wasn't fair to me to have to change all the dirty diapers because Luke has decided that HE is MY boy and ZACH is DADDY's boy (Luke's words). Zach thought that was an argument. After Bryan, Zach and I talked, I thought that Bryan and I did a good job of explaining that Mommy and Daddy have to talk about how to parent -- otherwise we'd each be doing our own thing and there would be constant chaos and confusion. But then later he said that "Mommy says Daddy doesn't know how to take care of us." That is NOT what I said, but apparently it's what he understood me to be saying. And I feel that how my kids perceive me is more important than what I actually said or did.

I want so badly for my kids to think of me as a loving, happy, uplifting, encouraging, supportive, generous, and kind woman. I do not want them to view me as a person who beats down rather than builds up. And that's how I feel right now - that Zach thinks I'm beating Daddy down. (Note: Bryan tries to help me explain that Mommy is NOT mistreating him and that we are NOT fighting, but Zach still doesn't seem to understand.) In addition to my desires to be thought of as kind, happy, uplifting, etc., I feel that it is also very important for our children to understand that relationships take work and disagreements can be resolved through discussion. If we don't teach them this in our home, aren't we setting them up for unnecessary difficulty later in life? Our children will learn from US how to be in relationships. But in the midst of those lessons, does Zach realize just how crazy in love I am with his dad? I never let an opportunity pass to tell my guys how much I love them. But, do my actions match?

I will say it again... Parenting is not for the faint at heart.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Get Off Your Knees And Pray

I am generally hard-pressed to finish a book - or even pick one up! I like reading a really great book, but honestly don't make much of an effort to find them. However, the wives in our small group have decided to read Get Off Your Knees And Pray by Sheila Walsh. More than anything I wanted to get together with the girls on discussion night, so I bought the book. I LOVE IT! And I hate self-help books. I don't know if Sheila would call this a a self-help book, but the purpose is to grow me in my prayer life (self-help by my definition).

Prayer has been quite a mystery to me. And, in all honesty, I have recently found myself at the end of the day thinking, "I'm exhausted. God knows where I'm at with all this stuff. He's been eavesdropping on me all day as I've discussed it with friends and thought about it privately. Can that suffice for 'prayer'?" As I was reading I kept thinking, "This is all wonderful, but do I officially need to set aside time to pray? Or are the 100's of times I've thought about this today count as prayer?" Then I got an answer... On page 41 Sheila writes, "Prayer is not a chore or something to be done at the end of the day. It's our time to crawl into our Father's embrace and lay our cares upon him. Jesus told us that in this world we will have many troubles, but not to be afraid because he has overcome this world (John 16:33). It's only when we are able to quiet the noises outside and within that we remember all his amazing promises to us." The moment I read that, I thought about my relationship with Zach. When he comes home from school, I have a general idea about how his day went. And, when I ask him, he usually blows me off with a bunch of "fines" and "I dunno's". I want him to crawl into my lap and tell me! I don't want to read about it on the note that comes home each day or overhear him talking to his friend that we carpool with on the way home. Since reading what Sheila wrote, I have felt a new desire to sit in my Father's lap and tell him directly the things that are going on in my life or running through my mind. I do not want him know simply because he overheard. Additionally, it is when I take the time to talk with him that I hear HIS voice. When I'm talking with friends and mulling things about in my own mind, it is not the voice of the Father that I'm hearing in response.

Our book club assignment was to read through page 58. I love this book and can't seem to put it down... With a week to go before our meeting, I'm on page 104 and there are markings and notes galore in my book! I highly recommend it. Get off your knees and pray!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Valentine's Day Party

Mom and Zach made cupcakes for the party

This heart accordion represents God's unending love for us

Zach and his friend made thumbprint love bugs with Miss J.

And he made hand print cards with Mom and friends

After we finished with crafts, the kids talked science, did puzzles and dressed up with Miss P.

Zach dressed up as a scientist - the job he now thinks he wants to do as a grown-up... Notice that magnifying glass!

"ABCDEFG - thank you God for feeding me. Amen."

Musical hearts, Valentine's Day style. Instead of eliminating a child, we eliminated hearts. The goal was to fit as many kids a possible on one heart! With today's low attendance we all fit on one.

Friends listen to the rules for the next game

My funny Valentine

Worship time

A day at the zoo

Luke and his "monkey" (orangutan)

A gorilla that's older than Mommy & Daddy!

Lunch time!

Mommy thinks the porcupines are cool

Standing around with the flamingos

A sloth makes his way across the rafters

The worlds best brothers

Hand in hand with Mommy

The fam

Luke playing in the rocks

The guys running near the pond

My guys

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A little of this, a little of that

You know it's been a good day when your kid goes to bed with buttercream icing on his glasses! We made cupcakes this afternoon for Zach's preschool Valentine's Day party (tomorrow) and he wanted to ice them when Bryan and I got home from small group. So, I left Bryan to get Luke out of the tub and into jammies while Zach and I started on those cupcakes. I have discovered that one thing I love about Valentine's Day is that now I have a reason to use those pink cupcake liners and make pink icing! School snack is usually very strict - never any sugar - but the second I heard that they would let us make an exception for school parties I signed up for Valentine's Day snack. The kids are going to love the cupcakes!

We've reached some milestones in the last couple of weeks. First, Zach is now sleeping on the top bunk! This happened about two weeks ago. He loves it and is just so proud of the big kid he is becoming. This leads to another milestone - Luke has been napping on the bottom bunk! He thinks he wants to be a big boy, but when it comes down to it, he generally opts for his little boy things - like the crib! However, Bryan has the magic touch and has had him napping in the lower bunk for the past couple of days. He still has no intentions on giving up the crib over night! He has also digressed in the potty training department. He was doing great (no accidents) but now he's refusing to wear underwear. He wants either naked or diapers, so we've agreed to go with diapers. And one more MAJOR milestone - Zach has conquered the biggest play structure we've ever seen! Zach is very conservative - never takes a risk. He has never gone higher than the first level of a playstructure (those plastic hamster cage things) and most of the time he wouldn't even go that far. Until Wednesday night. We went to a local family fun center and Zach got the bug. After playing outside the structure for a while, he decided he wanted to go high enough to slide... Then, the next thing we knew, he was two stories up and crawling all over the place. He loved it! Looks like he might be astronaut material after all! If we can do something about his vision... And one more milestone we are quickly approaching - KINDERGARTEN ROUND-UP. I am in awe when I look at this incedible child that was a baby just yesterday. Wasn't he? And now we're getting kindergarten readiness materials everytime I open his backpack after school. I think my heart just broke a little more as I typed that. I am not one of those moms who looks forward to kindergarten. I do for his sake - I know he will love it and it will lead to every other milestone he needs to reach. You know, like 1st grade, having his own library card, dating. Okay, that's a jump. But, seriously... I am excited for him to grow up (slowly), but scared at the same time. Scared to leave him alone in that big building, scared to drop him at the curb and not walk him in, scared to leave one teacher alone with 20+ students (right now he has 2 teachers for 11 kids). This is when I cling to God and trust Him to watch over this child and return him safely to the curb where I will pick him back up three hours after dropping him off. Or is it 3 1/2? I will be early. So, anyway, we're off to kindergarten round-up in April, with birth certificate and tuition check in hand. Phew.. I will need to spend the next two months praying that I won't cry all night at round-up and run out, scared into homeschooling.

We have enjoyed the time that Bryan's been home with us. On Friday we went to the zoo! When it's 70+ degrees on a midwestern February day, what else do you do? You allow your kid to skip school and take a family field trip! We went to our state's capital city and visited the greatest little zoo. Luke loved the monkeys and Zach loved everything. We have tons of pics, so I will have to post them a little later. The day before that we went to a preschool friend's birthday party. A local nature center brought some animals, so we got to get up close and personal with a snake, tarantula, rabbit, and owl. It was pretty cool. And the week before that, we went to a local museum that has a neat kids exhibit. We've done a good job of finding inexpensive (and even FREE) things to do as a family during Bryan's lay-off.

A couple other things have changed recently... I just started teaching pre-k Sunday school at our church every-other-week. I have subbed for years, but this is the first time I've officially been a Sunday school teacher. So far I'm really enjoying it! The other thing I've picked up is subbing at the church where Zach goes to preschool. They needed childcare subs for various Bible studies and classes, and I felt like it was the least I could do. We really love Zach's school - they have been so good with him and have taught all of us so much. We are sad to see Zachary graduating from there and moving on to another school. But, we look forward to Luke going here in a couple of years. My, how the time flies!

Speaking of time, it is after 10pm and I still have a show on DVR that I want to watch before crawling into bed. We didn't even have DVR six months ago, but my sister-in-law kept telling us that it would change our lives! That's a different post for another day (and maybe a support group?), but I think she was on to something. Well, maybe it hasn't changed our LIVES but it certainly has changed how we watch TV. Did you happen to see that Lipstick Jungle might be getting picked up by Lifetime? And what will I do when ER goes off the air? Like I said, maybe a support group is needed.... 'Night.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The online ministry

So, I was pretty disappointed when the support group dissolved last week. As I confessed to my friend and his wife the other day, I felt a little like God had taken a part of my ministry away - part of the meaning behind my childhood. I knew that wasn't true, but I tend to take things personally for a couple of days before mellowing out...

Anyway, I kept reminding myself that it wasn't the end of the world and that God just had other plans. I turned my attention back to mothering, picked up a great new book about prayer, and focused my ministry efforts on the online part. In 5 1/2 days the website has had over 125 visits - 30 of them in the last 24 hours! That is remarkable. I have a handful of official "followers" and can see that they are from England, Australia and different parts of the United States. They are beginning to share comments on my website, and are then going into greater detail on their own personal blogs and in private emails to me. It is amazing to read about how God is using this ministry to reach people around the globe and change their lives. He is just so cool!

The recovery part used to be the biggest deal to me, but I have found that online I have a whole other ministry -- sharing CHRIST with others. At our church support groups, everyone that has come through group was already a believer. But online, these women are saying that they "will never understand organized religion", etc.. And the language they use and behaviors they write about - they are not putting on their best "church mask". No "holy pavement" here. They are being real, and allowing me to be real. I keep writing about my Heavenly Father and they keep reading --- and inviting their friends to read too! It is an awesome gift that He's given to me