meet the sojourners..

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Not so..

for those of you who think I've really got this "motherhood thing" figured out... refer to post title and then read the following comic strip my wonderful mother in law sent me. I roared... you know one of those deep hearty laughs from your stomach...

Yep... this is my life. And I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world! But man does it make me appreciate my husband when he comes home!


I'm not a fancy person. I used to think I wanted to be - then Darren and I took a trip to New York, spent $200 for dinner at the RAINBOW GRILL for the tiniest portions I've ever seen, and the food had no taste. We have a tradition of cleaning the table up as much as possible to make it easier for the person coming along to clear the table, so as we were stacking our dishes and sweeping all the crumbs into a pile our waiter comes by and starts apologizing profusely! Good grief dude! it's just our thing, it's what we do.

Nah, I'd much rather spend $30 at our local pizza joint. No one cares what I wear, the pizza is AMAZING and there's plenty of it, we can talk and laugh with our kids, and the waiters don't care if we make an attempt to clean up after ourselves. And when we're done we can go explore one of the parks downtown.

I used to want a 2 carat diamond, with only the highest cut, color and clarity of course. Now, half the time I don't even wear the gorgeous .75 carat (ss1 f) that my husband worked his tail off for. Who cares, it's a rock. Maybe we'll sell it and use the money to pay for plane tickets to Russia...

I used to wish I could spend $100 on hair care products to tame my frizzy head. I did for awhile only use Frederic Fikkai products, which I guess would be considered middle of the road... but at more then $20 a bottle for shampoo and conditioner, I came to think that was ridiculous.  So it was back to Pantene or Dove for me. UNTIL.... I made this discovery last month! I LOVE all smells coconut, pina- colada, tropical and beachy, so I just had to try this shampoo, and it wasn't much of a splurge at only a dollar more then what I had planned on spending. It smells soooooooooooo good, and leaves my hair feeling so soft! So if you're in the market for a new shampoo/conditioner consider giving these a  try! It's cheap, it's simple, it's me.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

JDRF Walk for the cure

Hello all! Hope this finds you all well and enjoying the beginning of the 2009 fall season!

Many, if not all of you know it's been 2 and a half years now since Aidan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. As a parent it is one of those moment's that I'll never forget. In an instant Aidan's life was changed. Since March of 2007 Aidan has had to prick his finger a minimum of 5 times a day to check his blood sugar levels. In the last 2 years he has had approximately 5000 shots to deliver the insulin his body can not produce on it's own, insulin he needs  to survive.

For those of you unfamiliar with Type 1 diabetes I'll give a brief explanation. Type 1 diabetes appears suddenly and progresses rapidly, as was the case with Aidan. He lost 8 lbs from January to the time he was diagnosed in March. For a 3 year old, 8 lbs is a lot of weight! When a person has Type 1 diabetes the pancreas ceases to manufacture insulin, a hormone necessary to convert the food we eat into energy for the body. Children and adults with Type 1 diabetes must get multiple daily injections of insulin to stay alive. Insulin keeps the individual alive, but it is not a cure. 200,000 people a year die from diabetic complications. 1 in 16 people in the US is diabetic.

In May of this year, Darren and I were fortunate enough to be able to provide an Omnipod for Aidan. The Omnipod is the world's first tubeless insulin pump. The pod is attached to Aidan's body and it holds and delivers the insulin he needs. The pod has it's own personal PDM or meter that Darren and I use to control insulin delivery. No more painful injections, just one stick every 2-3 days when the pod needs to be replaced and the cannula is inserted under the skin. So 1 stick with a needle every 2-3 days verses the 20-30 shots he'd have in the same amount of time. The pod has been a tremendous blessing to Aidan and to Darren and I. Aidan's A1c (average blood sugar readings) have dropped a whole point and a half since May, he's sitting right at 7, which is AWESOME! His sugars as a whole are so much more stable then they've ever been and he has more freedom and independence! Best of all he absolute loves it!
Organizations like JDRF make the research behind the design for things like the Omnipod possible, and we are forever grateful because it has given our son a better quality of life!

Please consider partnering with us in prayer, or through a financial contribution by clicking here as we continue to hope for a cure in Aidan's lifetime!

Labor Day Extravaganza - Day 3

So here we are... the last "big event" of our family extravaganza! The water park is actually on the army base here in town AND on the weekends it is open to the MILITARY ONLY! Admission wasn't too bad either, I think for the 4 of us we paid less then $15. Asher is a water baby, and has no fear WHATSOEVER so he thoroughly enjoyed himself. Aidan is much more timid in the water, and HATES getting his face wet BUT by the time we left he let Darren dunk him 5 times in a row with only a slight grimace. I think this was the boys favorite activity that we did. Map-quest gave us goofy directions so we had planned on arriving shortly after the park opened. However, I realized we had to stop by Target first because I didn't have a swimsuit. Don't ask-you'll just roll your eyes. So once we left Target and continued on our way we realized the directions were off, WAY OFF but by the time we could get ourselves turned around on the highway and headed in the right direction again we'd lost about an hour at the park. I think we finally made it there about 1pm and stayed until nearly 5pm. The boys LOVED it!!! I was sad to leave actually, just knowing that although we still would have the next two days together they would be spent doing "ordinary" things, like cleaning, grocery shopping, oil changes for the cars, yard work... etc. It's true, summer has officially left us and while that's always sad we're excited because it means we're one summer closer to V being here with us!

Enjoy the final slide show!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Labor Day Extravaganza - Day 2

Yes, the prince did get his kiss. But only after promising that the spider was smashed to smithereens.

The boys actually slept in, which was a HUGE surprise, and quite the welcome change. We got up and Darren started preparing breakfast. We had bought the Bisquick Shaker stuff thinking it was perfect for camping... and it probably would have been if we had remembered the cooking spray. Oh well, we made it through kinda soupy and kinda burnt pancakes (truly I don't think the boys noticed one bit) and headed out for a hike. There were two trails and the original plan was we would take the short trail today and then return to the campsite for lunch and then go out on the paddle boats until dinnertime and then hang out at the site until bedtime. Then Saturday after breakfast and packing up we'd hit the long trail before heading to the water park.

The trail however had different plans for us. We STARTED on the short trail but somehow  ended up on the long trail. So, what was supposed to be less then a 1 mile trail turned into a nearly 3 mile hike.  The boys did exceptionally well considering, especially Aidan who in general is not the "outdoorsy type. He walked the whole way and I don't remember hearing him complain once, I was so proud of the little guy! Asher made it until somewhere past halfway, or at least what felt like halfway, seeing as how we didn't have a watch on us. From there Darren and I took turns carrying him until eventually he finished up the journey riding on his daddy's shoulders.

Fun/ny things to note: As we were just beginning our trail/hike, whatever you want to call it both boys needed, uh.... attitude adjustments, so in one of the pictures you'll see Aidan next to a tree, yep he was in time-out. After that though, fun was had by all. There was a bridge just past the start of the trail which kept the boys occupied for quite sometime. They've always loved to find rocks, twigs and pine cones to through into the water. During the hike until about the halfway point there were spots along the way that allowed you to walk to the lakes edge, so our pockets were full of pine-cones collected along the way. Eventually all of our pockets were overflowing and Aidan graciously volunteered to use his shirt as a "basket" so Asher could continue gathering his treasure trove of pine-cones. He is such a sweet-tender hearted kid... most of the time. ;)

When we finally made it back to the campsite we had lunch. Salmon patties, another favorite! Yummy. Then chocolate and marshmallow's - gave up on the idea  of S'mores since the boys don't like 'em.

After lunch I hung out in the back of the van and enjoyed just watching the boys play with their daddy. They miss him so much, so I didn't mind sitting back and playing second fiddle. Plus, this camping experience taught me something... I'm a girl. Shocked? Well, I was. Nah... what I really learned was that camping isn't the ideal family outing for a germaphobic, perfectionistic neat freak. In fact, to keep myself from scolding the boys for eating with dirty hands and getting dirty in general I made up a song. Yes, I sing. A lot, you'll have to get used to it. Funny thing was the song was pretty catchy and so Aidan has been singing it ever since. "He's a boy, he's a boy, he's a boy boy boy, they're boys, they're boys, they're both boys boys boys, He's a boy, he's a boy, he's a boy boy, boys boys boys boys!!"

During our hike the boys and Darren had found great big walking sticks so after lunch Darren used his Boy Scout skills to turn the walking sticks into bows for the boys. Aidan thought this was just about the coolest thing ever! And they spent a great deal of time playing with their bows and arrows, of course the privilege of these new weapons came my stern warning not to shoot them at each other. Surprisingly they didn't!

After a while we headed to the boat house to inquire about renting one of the paddle boats. For me this was the highlight of our camping trip! Aidan says it was his favorite part too. The lake and scenery were so beautiful, we saw some kind of bird, don't know what, and two deer from the boat. I was originally a little worried how the boys would do because, well Asher is NEVER still for very long... EVER. We had the boat for an hour, so the first 30 minutes, maybe a little more Asher sat up front between Darren and I and Aidan sat in the back. Then I moved to the back with Asher so Aidan could set up front and try to pedal, poor guy really wanted to but his legs just couldn't reach. So he moved back to the back with Asher, and I moved back to the front with Darren. Don't worry I had a hand on Asher the whole time. And I tell ya, them paddle boats - they give you one heck of a leg workout!

Several times over the course of the weekend I felt the sting of V not being there. Seeing the kind and gentle way Aidan can be with Asher, looking after him as only an elder brother can do, and he's proud to do it. Yet, he's acutely aware that he's the middle child in our family, and I know he longs for his big brother to do the same for him. Every time the boys would run to me excited about the newest rock, twig or pine cone they'd found my mind would wander and I'd try to imagine if V's ever given a caretaker a boy's childhood treasure, and did she accept it? On the boat I'd turn to watch the boys taking it all in, enjoying the beauty and being out in the sun - it made my heart happy, yet it crushed me knowing V's never been on a boat, never seen a lake, or even a lily pad for that matter. All things Aidan and Asher take for granted. It's obvious to the 4 of us that a member of our family is missing. There are constant reminders, sometimes they shout, sometimes they whisper, but they're always there.

Yet... he's so much a part of us. V is a constant topic of conversation and never far from our thoughts. We may be a thousand miles apart but when I really stop and think about it... it's almost like he's already here. ALMOST.

We finished with the boat about 3:30 and headed back to the campsite. Darren and I had decided earlier that if we wanted to make it to the Water Park the next day it would probably be wise to pack up and just head home after dinner. And I'm glad we had come to that conclusion because when we got back to our site, it was no longer just us, but about 10 new neighbors we were there to "party" over the long weekend. Nice.

So we had dinner, more barbecue muffins followed by jiffy pop! The boys played, we cleaned up and headed home. Yes, I did make the boys take a bath immediately upon entering the house, and yes as soon as they were clean I was in the shower! Ah, nothing like feeling clean! ;)

Enjoy the slide show from our second day!

Ps. Judy, we saw the Coast Guard warning thingy and thought of you guys... so that's there for you! =)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Labor Day Extravaganza - Day 1

Ah.... it was splendid. 5 whole days together and it went by way too quickly! We got a later start on Thursday then we planned and didn't arrive at the campground until dinner time. Darren and the boys worked on putting the tent together and then Darren pulled out the stove we borrowed from some friends. I had precooked all of our food the night before, so we had plenty of choices. We settled on barbecue muffins and Darren set to work on reheating them. Soooooooooo yummy! After dinner the boys went exploring the site and surrounding sites (it was pretty much just us Thursday night) for firewood and s'more skewers. They each had there own flashlight and thought shining it all around was great fun! They hollered and squealed and took great pleasure in being boys. We had s'more's and as always the boys weren't interested in the classic s'more and ate their s'mores uncooked and in separate courses. When we finished our snack we headed to the tent and watched a movie on Darren's work laptop, played with etch a sketch's and the boys wrestled with Darren. Then it happened... out of the blue Darren whacked my leg with the palm of his hand! Startled, I asked him what he did that for? His reply? "Something was crawling on you that shouldn't have been." Hmph! My response to that, "Auuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh!!!!!!!!!!" and I pretty much leaped from where I was and in one smooth (or not) motion I was up and behind Darren who had been on the other end of the tent. The boys and Darren thought this was extremely entertaining and Darren (who was NOT playing his role of knight in shining armor very well) just laid there staring at me.... and laughing. Great. Thanks honey. Once he finally got it together he wanted to know what the problem was. Was he kidding? There was a spider, A BIG spider somewhere loose in our tent, it had been crawling on MY leg and he thought I'd just lay down and go back to sleep. Um... no. So, I left the tent. Yes, it's true. I was a total party pooper, I know-lame.

So, Aidan, cause he's a mama's boy left with me and we went to sleep in the van. Problem with sleeping in the van? It was incredibly stuffy and I couldn't get comfortable. Great. Aidan was out in a matter of seconds. An hour passed, then another, and my prince charming hadn't even come to check on me. Hmph! No kisses for that frog in the morning. What's this? ooooh it's a flashlight! Hehehehe.... So with my new found toy I started flashing the light right into the tent hoping to wake up my husband and make him "suffer" with me. Yes, I am pure evil. FINALLY like after 30 minutes of this he starts flashing his flashlight back at me... Grr... not what I wanted. I wanted him to get out of the tent. Eventually I sort of whisper screamed at him to come to the van. I don't think he heard me. After what felt like another hour I heard some noise and shifting around the tent and he emerged. "I found the spider" he said. "Yea right, nice try" I replied. "Hmm, I'll stick with the van" I said. We talked for a while, and then about midnight after promising he really DID kill the spider and he wasn't just saying that to get me back in the tent I succumbed to the temptation of an air mattress, and slept just fine.

Enjoy the slide show from our first night.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My baby boy

Asher Cohen. I love you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's ah-lie-vah!!!

Yea yea, I am still living and breathing. I just don't have as much free time to blog now that school has started and is in full swing. I am weeks behind in posts, although they are all crammed in my head, leaving little room for anything else. ha ha. Quiet Darren.

But for those of you missing me, thought I'd surprise ya with a little something. We've been building an ark in our garage. Yes, it's true I am now one of those "weirdo's" who has a garage but parks in the driveway... what's up with that?

The boys, Aidan in particular has LOVED constructing this thing (more about this on the school blog-eventually) and painting it too! Of course, he's our little engineering artist! Tonight for dinner the boys got to eat in the ark, which reminds me I need to go clean up the crumbs before the garage is invaded... Anyway, then they carried stuffed animals from their room, 2x2 out to the ark... so cute! Again there will be lots of pictures once I can find some time....

But tonight, for your viewing pleasure...
Ya, I asked Asher to do something, I forget what now... instead of obedience this was the reply he gave. How on earth am I supposed to do anything but laugh? Booger! Pun intended.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Obama Speech Controversy

Couldn't and wouldn't have said it better myself... This post is taken entirely from Dr. Albert Mohler's blog. Right on Mr. Dude.

The controversy over President Barack Obama's speech to America's school children scheduled for Tuesday morning continues to incite controversy. On the surface, this seems incredible. Why would a speech calling for students to remain in school and set personal goals for themselves incite any controversy at all? Is this just another eruption of the Culture War?
At first glace, that seems to be exactly what this fracas is all about. Much of the controversy is reckless, baseless, and plainly irrational. Some have called the speech an effort to recruit America's children into socialism. Others have argued that any presidential speech piped into classrooms is illegitimate. But a presidential speech to students is hardly unprecedented. This speech by this president has led to an unprecedented uproar.
At this level, the controversy is a national embarrassment. Conservatives must avoid jumping on every conspiracy theory and labeling every action by the Obama administration as sinister or socialist. Our civic culture is debased when opposing parties and political alignments read every proposal by the other side as suspect on its face.
Furthermore, this controversy smacks of disrespect for the President and, by extension, disrespect for the presidency itself. Both fly in the face of Christian responsibility to pray for those in authority. Respect for our government, though never as an end in itself, is part of our Christian responsibility. This controversy threatens to sow seeds of permanent distrust and suspicion in the hearts of the young. In an age of rampant cynicism, this is inexcusable.
And what will the President say?  The entire speech is now available online. The main thrust of the President's address is a call for students to remain in school, set personal goals, and make a difference in society and a future for themselves.
As the President will say:

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

In reading through the remainder of the prepared remarks, they follow similar lines of encouragement. Some sections are quite personal:
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

Let's be honest here. Most middle-class white kids get plenty of these messages, starting at home. But might this message be particularly helpful for a child struggling for a role model or looking for justification for his studiousness? America's cities and schools are filled with students who need such a word of encouragement. Will a presidential address change a life? Probably on its own, this is not likely. But can an address like this help? We must hope and indeed pray that it can.

President Obama actually bears a particular stewardship at this point, and he acknowledges this in his speech. As he says, "But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams."

This President did indeed enjoy rare opportunities. In his speech he acknowledges that not all children have what he did have -- a mother who encouraged him and opportunities that he was able to seize. He offers encouragement and calls for what most parents would want children to hear: Work hard, stay in school, develop your interests, and take responsibility.

This message should be welcomed by America's parents, both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. So why the controversy?

Well, things are rarely so clear-cut as they seem. When President Obama wonders who he should blame for this controversy, he should look directly to his own administration. Put plainly, his own Department of Education released suggested lesson plans that appeared to be more about the cult of Obama than about the President's message.  The lesson plans (changed after the controversy erupted) suggested: "Teachers can extend learning by having students write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals.”

Needless to say, helping the President achieve his goals is a big departure from encouraging students to set and attain their own goals. Add to this that the President's speech to students, timed reasonably enough to be the first day virtually all of the nation's public school students are in classrooms, comes a day before the President also scheduled a speech to a joint session of Congress to defend his health care reform proposals. Though there is no reason to assume any sinister timing here, and there is every reason to see these scheduled events as separate, the public effect is hardly a surprise.

Children are to be asked to help the President meet his goals the day before the President puts his administration on the line for his controversial health-care reform effort? Conspiracy? No. Horrible timing? Yes. Administration slow to get it? Obviously.

And there is more. At least some school districts have shown a video known as "I Pledge" that features Hollywood and pop music celebrities calling for students to make a pledge to do something great.  But the things pledges by the celebrities include everything from advancing stem cell research to refusing to use plastic bags at the supermarket. Near the end, the video makes this appeal: "I pledge to be of service to Barack Obama."

Of service to Barack Obama? This is a strange admixture of the politics of celebrity and the purpose of government.  Some of the goals listed on the "I Pledge" video are praiseworthy, such as ending the modern slave trade. Others are right off the platform of the Democratic Party.  According to press reports, some school districts intended to show the video with the President's speech.

Thus, it is easy to see how the motives of the President and his Administration became suspect. The White House, the President, and his administration share the blame here. An earlier release of the President's remarks and the absence of the original lesson plans would have greatly lessened the controversy and might have avoided it completely.

The politics of celebrity is a dangerous business. President Obama is a cult figure and a pop icon. That cuts both ways. The Obama campaign capitalized on it, and the Obama Administration attempts to do the same. But the President's constitutional role is that of the nation's Chief Executive, not its icon. This is not the Soviet Union or North Korea. We do not need a cult of personality around this White House, and the President is ill-served by those who would present him as a pop icon. The President should call all citizens to serve the nation -- not to serve him and help him meet his goals.

It was inevitable that the nation's first African-American President would face such challenges. Given the force of his personality, President Obama's greatest strengths can easily become his besetting weaknesses. And yet, this entire nation should hope and pray that more Americans would follow this president's example of family dedication, commitment to marriage, and love for his children.

The nation -- and the Obama Administration -- should learn from this controversy and be determined not to repeat this fracas. The White House should shut down the cult of personality, and the nation's conservatives should discipline themselves to discern the real issues from the conspiracy myths. There is plenty to deal with on the plane of reality.

Barack Obama is President of the United States. Christians must be the first to pray for this president and to model respect for the presidency, even when we must disagree with the President's policies and proposals. Given what this president intends to say tomorrow to America's students, count me as one who hopes many are listening. If even a few young hearts are encouraged, those moments will be worth all the controversy.