Tuesday, December 25, 2007
The past week has been filled with all 6 of us having some form of the stomach flu--B and I were mild, but the kids were all puking. We called it the "two pukes" flu because pretty much they all puked twice and then were done. Cait had it Monday, Karin and Jay Thursday, Ethan Saturday. We were all doing well today except for Cait who is still blowing out her dipe several times each day. Ten o'clock tonight and Brian and I were just about to collapse on the couch from a loooong Christmas day of exhuberant/demanding/hopped up on sugar/crazy-happy/crabby kids when Karin came running to the top of the stairs yelling, "Caityin baufed!" AGAIN!! Eight days after her first round! After a bath and some new jammies she promptly pooped up her back one more time as I wrestled the retarded but clean cribsheet into submission once more. I almost started to laugh.
Seriously, Lord, what is going on? We spent last night at home, away from my family so as not to risk getting PaPa sick, and now we're having to reschedule the reschedule. I feel like we're racing against an unseen clock, and I am so tired of washing puke and poop laundry and sanitizing everything in creation.
I don't know what's going on, but I do feel like you're trying to teach me something. I know I can't do this on my own, so I need to get with you, soak in your Word and promises, and rest in your grace. Enough for today. New tomorrow morning. OK. I'm going.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"I grew up on tales of chasing bandito's in Haiti and Nicaragua from my Father, so there was no other choice but the Marines for me. I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 1, 1941...
Boot camp was up before dark and to the Mess Hall for breakfast. Then out to the grinder for a couple of hours of close order drill and then a class on weapons that we would be using. 30 and 50 caliber machine guns, Browning Automatic Rifles, and 45 automatics. We needed to be proficient in taking these weapons apart and putting them back together blind folded. There were also courses in chemical warfare, general orders and the rank of various officers in the US Marines and their counterparts in the Navy.
I am afraid that Hollywood would have been disappointed as there was none of that sadistic crap you see in the Movies. Oh there were some dropped rifles that were slept with at night and some learned the difference between their rifle and their gun, but that was it. Only one incident that I can recall that was out of the ordinary. One night about 11 or 12 pm Corporal D-- fell us out in our underwear, winter overcoats, rifles and bare feet. He then marched us down to the beach and marched us back and forth for about an hour. The next morning the Gunny notices some of us were limping. The sea shells on the beach had cut up some of the feet pretty bad. The Gunny marched us up to the sick bay and had our feet treated. We never saw Corporal D-- again until couple of months later when we were at Camp Mathews Rifle Range. We all noted he was now a Private."
Thank-you all for your love and concern for my PaPa. It's been a tough week. A week ago today my mom took him to his doctor appointment with the oncologist. When he learned the news he said that he thought that something was going on with his body, but he was a bit shocked at how little time they said he has left. Since then he's been going through a bit of denial, wondering if the diagnosis is correct. Today he went to meet with his regular doctor who was hopefully going to be able to answer those questions and give him a clearer picture of the situation. I should hear soon how that appointment went.
A few days ago PaPa signed on with hospice care, so he'll be able to stay in his own home even until the end. But he's realized that Gramma cannot stay long with him. She is getting to the really difficult stage of Alzheimer's--incontinence and combativeness, which will just be too much for him very soon (I'm not sure how he's managed this long, actually). So, yesterday he and my mom found a place for her at Presbyterian Homes in Arden Hills. We will be moving her in the day after Christmas. I think this will be really hard.
PaPa is definitely getting more tired, my mom says. And that's how it will go. No pain, just greater and greater fatigue. We just don't know how long it will take.
The first several days were tough. I would get through the day and then cry at night (the kids still don't know what's happening, so I have to be careful). My fuse was nonexistent, so anything with the kids set me off. The past couple of days have seemed more normal as we prepare for Christmas and get past the initial shock, but every time I think about Christmas Eve I want to cry. It will be our last Christmas Eve with PaPa. How am I going to handle that? Even just thinking about it brings the tears again. I'm not ready to say goodbye.
If you would still keep us in your prayers I would so appreciate it. I got a note today from one of my former youth who reminded me that "our God is more than able...no one or no thing is beyond His grasp." For some reason, perhaps because I've prayed for so long, it is hard for me to believe that right now. I am afraid his hope is based not on Jesus Christ alone, but on his own righteousness as a "good Catholic" or a "good man". I'm afraid he won't "get it" in time. Lord, help my unbelief!
Also, my poor mom is overwhelmed with the responsibilities of doctor's appointments, cleaning out the house, finding a nursing home for Gramma, preparing to move her after Christmas and continue to visit and support her while PaPa is dying, helping PaPa grapple with his prognosis and impending death, as well as her own heath concerns. I am also concerned for my kids, especially Jay, if and when we tell them about PaPa. They love him dearly.
I will post more as time goes on, as well as more of PaPa's own stories from the War. I wish you all could know him...thanks for letting me share some of him with you.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
It's just been a few hours since I posted last. But tonight as I was making dinner my mom called to tell me that my PaPa has leukemia and may only have several weeks to live. I hung up the phone and started to cry, then called Brian to ask if we could go see him tonight. PaPa still doesn't himself know the news--he'll find out tomorrow at his appointment with the doctor. So I wanted to go over and have one last "normal" time with him and Gramma--before everything changes. I wanted to see him one last time unburdened by this knowledge and free to just enjoy his great-grandkids. I hoped to bless him by our time and hugs.
I'm so glad we went. My kids laughed and played with PaPa and Gramma. They sat and played the same organ that I did as a child during so many visits; they rang most of Gramma's bell collection and looked at as many things as possible under PaPa's enlargement machine that he uses to do the NYT crossword every day. Cait crawled around on the floor and rolled a ball back and forth with him. Jay brought an army helicopter toy to show him and PaPa examined all the guns to see what caliber they were. Then the boys asked him if they could go see his trains downstairs. I followed and snapped a few pictures as he showed us his plans for his next train setup and the model buildings he's been constructing for it. Not that he has much time for it, he explained to me, pointing to the lines of hanging laundry he's been doing as he daily cares for my sweet gramma with Alzheimer's.
It was a perfect time. Jay said on the way home how much PaPa and Gramma mean to him. Karin said it was so much fun to go to their house. And I quietly thought of how glad I am that he's gotten to meet all of my babies.
I haven't lost someone this close to me--I've never known a day without my PaPa's existence. As the child of a single-parent working mom, I spent so many hours at their house, stayed overnight with them, went to the cabin in the summers with them. It was PaPa who taught me how to fish and how to play solitaire, who let me run the model trains even as a small child. I think I was the apple of his eye--his only granddaughter for 13 years. It's one of those things where you can't imagine life without someone.
Thanks for listening to me ramble. Somehow it helps me to write this down and let the tears come.
But why I started to write all this was to ask for your prayers. I don't know where my PaPa is at with the Lord, and I am NOT OK WITH THE THOUGHT OF NEVER SEEING HIM AGAIN. He is a faithful Catholic and an amazing man, but I still don't know if his faith is in Christ alone or in something else. I have written to him about this in years past, but he never replied. My mom said he was confused by my letters, that he didn't understand what I was asking.
Will you please pray with me for him...contend for this man whom I love with all my heart? I have prayed for years. Can God use these next few weeks to answer them? I confess, by faith is weak right now. Will you please pray that this goodbye which looms so near before me will not be the end? That I might have another chance to speak with him about this and that he will understand? Oh, God--help me trust you. Help PaPa trust you. Please pray for him as he hears the news tomorrow...what will that be like? Please pray for my Gramma who will now almost certainly have to go into a nursing home--alone for the first time in almost 65 years. Please pray for my mom who bears the burden of all these decisions as well as her own grief over a father whom she loves immensely.
I hate this. Porter was right--there is nothing natural about death. It sucks. I want to scream. I want my PaPa.
Wow, guys, we've taken the plunge! For so long I've known we really needed to cut back on tv around here, but I've never had the guts to pull the plug. I've rationalized it endlessly, reminding myself of the good sides of a few minutes of relaxation and entertainment. Nevertheless, I've felt like we were missing out on better things--like reading good books, talking together, time in the Word, wrestling matches, games with our kids, and SLEEP. I had the nagging feeling that our lives were being slowly stolen from us by that hypnotic blue light...
On our vacation in October up to a little cabin in the woods there was a tiny tv with 2 channels. It stayed off the entire week, and it was one of the best weeks we've ever had as a family. We played endless games of cards, checkers, Uno, and chess. We set up a firing range outside and took turns pummeling coffee cans with an air rifle beebee gun. Brian took the 3 oldest on a ride in a rowboat while I putzed around in the shallows of the frigid lake wearing hip waders. We took walks and cooked s'mores by the wood burning stove. The kids went to bed not so late, and Brian fell asleep in a chair while I worked a crossword puzzle. We came home after 6days completely refreshed and much closer as a family.
We decided to continue our time without the tube. Monday through Friday around here is no-tv-land, although we do still have our Monday movie night (a tradition) and we sit down together to watch "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader" on Thursday nights. But no more cartoons in the afternoon or "Raymond" after the kids go down. I figure we've cut at least 10 hours of tv out of the house, between us and the kids.
The result? I have more energy. No kidding! I, who many days felt like I could barely make it until I could just relax on the couch and watch Oprah while the kids napped, am now not so tired in the afternoons. And when I still am, I take a nap. We are talking more, enjoying each other more, doing stuff together more. Our family feels alive, more joyful, and less bored. The kids have hardly asked for their old shows. And we enjoy the select few that we watch even more for the treat that they are.
I'm not preaching against tv here. It's not bad in itself. But what we've learned this past month is that it can steal away some of the really good stuff in life. The stuff that really matters. For us it has been a good trade.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
One day this week Ethan and I were sitting down and working on his ABC's. To practice writing them we have a plastic container with a bit of salt in it in which he uses his finger to form the letters and then "erases" them by shaking the tray. We had just finished reviewing several letters, both capitals and lower-case, so I told him to finish by drawing a smiley face. He did so and then quickly added a smaller smiley face. Then he looked up at me and said, "Look, Mom--a capital and lower-case smiley face!"
I love that kid!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Oh, my sweet Totty! Tonight she came up to me with those big round eyes and said, "I like you, Momma." Of course my heart melted, as would anyone's. "I like you, too, honey," I responded with a big smile and swelling heart.
Quickly she followed with, "but not all the time. Sometimes I don't." Oh. Not so much what I wanted to hear. "Well, that's honest," I replied, wondering if she would give a reason and trying not to take it too much to heart--afterall, nobody likes everyone all the time, right?
"...When you put me in time out," she finished.
Can't really blame her, can I? And I am thankful she can speak honestly with me, even if she is just 3. Lord, give me the grace to handle her "honesty" when she's 13! Oh, and thank-you for my sweet girl!
Monday, November 12, 2007
My heart is overflowing. What a gift, these people God has placed in my life! Their humor, smiles, wisdom, gentleness, courage, and strength fill me. I am overwhelmed by the blessing of it all.
We were just reading last night at cell group from Mark 3 where Jesus is approached by someone announcing the arrival of his mother and brothers who had come to see him. To this he replied, "'Who are my mother and my brothers?'" "Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother.'"
My heart resonates with this. What a family He has given me! Tonight my sisters and I shared soup and coffee and laughter and tears together. I am so grateful.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
Jay practicing his jousting skills...got it on the first try! (Click on photo to see Jay's face up close!)
What an amazing day! We walked in the front gate and were greeted by a medieval townscape. As we began looking through several shops of chain-male (sp?) and leather goods we heard a tune playing and a saw crowd of children gathered around the most magical looking person I've ever seen. She was a fairy, complete with wings and sparkles, and she didn't make a sound except on her fairy flute, on which she played a little tune for us. She moved with such grace, almost floating, and when her tune ended she knelt down in front of the boys and reached in her pocket for two small fairy stones which also sparkled with glitter. Now, I'm not a huge poetry/magic/fairy kind of girl (sorry, Vonda!), but the moment almost made me cry for the sheer beauty of it. It was like we had stepped into another world that we were allowed to visit for the day before returning to life as we know it.
One of the best parts of the day: a mongo turkey leg!
The rest of the day we packed in as much of the sights and tastes as we could. We watched a magic show and Jay "volunteered" his dad for one of the stunts up on stage (this turned out to be Brian's highlight). We played with juggling sticks that we could not put down and allowed the boys to use their birthday money to buy some of their own. We paid $8 for them to take the shortest elephant ride known to man, but hey--they got to ride an elephant! We watched knights joust and a man breathe fire. We ate a turkey leg, yummy crepes, cheese curds, a slurpee, and ice cream. We got to each hold a real sword (only $500 and it could be yours!), Brian helped the boys fire real crossbows, and at the end we all did some climbing on a tower (my highlight!). It was an incredible day!
The boys are at that age where knights and swords and castles are about the coolest things ever, so it was such a blessing to go and be a part of that world for a few hours. I think they will remember our day together for a long time. I know I will!
Our little knights
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Who could resist logic like that? Whatever the game was, she definitely won!
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
One of my biggest struggles is with noise. I don't like it, maybe because I have too much rattling around in my brain as it is, and noise just adds to the amount I have to process. But sweet little Ethan's whistling is just him being happy, so I am trying to restrain myself from harshly rebuking him for it. And so several times each day lately I find myself breathing out a prayer of "oh, Jesus, help me"!
So, if you're in a store or at the library and hear a strange monotone "song" coming from the other aisle, you'll know who it is. And the next time you hear someone whistling a tune, please say a prayer for me as I battle to retain my sanity!
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Go to my friend Deanna's blog, "Still Can't Help Myself" (see link at right), and scroll down to July 21 post, "If You Can't Laugh at Yourself" and June 1 post, "Prayers". Both had me laughing out loud!
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for lifelong friends, goofy senses of humor, and the prayers of little girls!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Oh, my baby Cait! One of the sweetest babes I've ever known, rivaled only by her sister in her babyhood. It's easy to forget she's even there as long as she's got a full tummy and isn't sleepy. Otherwise she just hangs out...happy. When spoken to, her face breaks into a wide one-toothed grin. Her latest feats: sitting up unassisted and waving bye-bye (we think). Cait loves the attention of her big sibs and giggles at their tickles and antics.
What a gift she is to us! How thankful I am that God sent her to us and that I get to be her mommy. She is truly a wonderful finale to the Crim Clan!
Karin (a.k.a. "Totty" after a character from a Wallace and Grommit movie) will be 3 in a couple of weeks. We adore her cute yet awkward speech patterns that yield sentences such as "we's had fuds bows an showboat" which translates "we have fudge bars and sherbet". She is still the most cuddly kid I know, and her daddy is often seen soaking in a big hug with a contented smile on his face. Karin is taken with Disney princesses and with the movie Madeline (pronounced "Madeyine"). She finally will allow me to fix her hair and loves to dress herself in interesting combinations. Her favorite color is purple and her favorite foods are brownies, beans, sherbet, popsicles, and fudge bars (her answers!). Every night she still goes to sleep listening to her "Bubbles" CD and often asks us to sing the "Captain Vegetable" song on our way out of her room.
She has her 2-year-old moments, however, and is gradually learning to speak instead of whine, say please instead of demand, and ask for a turn instead of throwing a temper tantrum. She adores her baby sister and loves to help in any way she can. And hopefully we'll be saying goodbye to diapers and hello to princess underwear very soon.
We are so thankful for our sweet Totty!
Ethan is Tigger in a 5-year-old boy's skin. Full of boundless energy and squirrelyness, he keeps us on our toes. E loves to ride his scooter, play PS2, color, and tickle and/or jump on people. He is looking forward to Kindergarten this year, but has already been learning lots by "doing school" with his big brother. Ethan also really likes bugs. His favorite color is blue and his favorite food is watermelon.
Just a few weeks ago Ethan prayed and asked Jesus to forgive him of his sins and be his Lord. And even though he has much room to grow in areas of self-control and obedience, I have since seen a greater responsiveness in him to correction and teaching. He is also better at sharing with others than any kid I know. He has a big heart and is tons of fun!
Now 7 1/2 years old, Jay is a lover of all things Star Wars. He just finished up his first grade year at the Crim Academy for Gifted Students (that's what my mom calls our homeschool), where he learned to read independently and enjoyed arts and crafts the most. He loved playing soccer again this spring and asked me yesterday if he could take rock-climbing lessons. Hmmmm...I'll have to think about that one! Favorite color: green. Favorite foods: pizza, strawberries, carrots with Ranch dressing, salad, meatloaf, and cotton candy, strawberry, or chocolate-cookie dough ice cream.
My favorite thing about Jay is his tender heart for Jesus. Recently when his little brother prayed to receive Christ he sat across the table from him and virtually cried with joy. It is amazing to see God's work in him as he learns and grows in his faith. What a joy he is!
Sunday, August 12, 2007
To mark the occasion, we booked a room at a 4-star hotel in Minneapolis (priceline.com--$70!). We had dinner at the nicest restaurant I will eat at this side of glory--Ruth's Chris Steakhouse--where the filet comes out on a plate at 1500 degrees, sizzling in butter. We toasted our first decade together and imagined what the next will bring.
I am so grateful for this man. What a rock of steadfast love and faithfulness he has been! Marriage is not an easy road, by any means, but I am thankful that he has been the one by my side through all of its twists and turns, summits and valleys. He is my love.
Oh, and by the way... in the photo he is showing off his new wedding ring which we picked up on the way to the hotel to replace the one that went missing last August in the St. Croix. I was glad to get that puppy back on his hand to let everyone know that he is taken!
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Brian's at Sonshine today and tonight, so it was just me 'n the chitlins tonight at dinner. As we sat eating our delectable Red Baron 4-meat pizza and side dish of green beans we were discussing a family that we know who we think are not yet believers. Somewhere in the midst of this conversation Ethan chimed in, "I'm a believer...I believe in God!" "That's great, Ethan!" I responded, "but being a believer also means that you know you're a sinner and trust in Jesus' death on the cross to save you. It means that you decide to follow Him for the rest of your life." When I asked him if he had ever asked Christ to forgive his sins, he responded that he had not. "Well, if you ever want to do that, you just let me know," I said. I told him that I had been his age when I had "asked Jesus into my heart".
We began to talk about how Jesus would have died for just one of us if we had been the only one alive. Jay was moved by this (my little feeler!), and started to cry into his napkin, when all of a sudden Ethan blurted out, "I want to do that thing that you said". "Right now?" I asked. "Yeah," he answered.
I asked E a few questions to make sure he understood the basics (at least as well as a 5-year-old can). He agreed he is a sinner, that he can't save himself, that he must trust in Christ's death to be saved, and that he wanted to live for God instead of himself. Then he repeated my words in a simple prayer of faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. After we finished praying Jay ran around the table and hugged me saying "thank you, Mom!" over and over. Then he hugged little Ethan and we all hugged. I told Ethan that there were angels up in Heaven having a huge party because of him, to which he gave me that goofy cross-eyed Ethan look.
Suddenly I realized something...
This morning I went running. It was not an easy run, and so I decided to pray as a way to distract myself from my discomfort. After praying for several friends I decided to pray for one of my children. Ethan came to mind first. Whereas Jay has displayed a bend toward God since he was barely talking, Ethan has seemed more resistant and ambivalent. And even though I have lately seen signs of softening, my prayer this morning was that God would take hold of little Ethan's heart.
I told Ethan about my prayer to God just this morning, and both boys looked amazed at God's prompt answer.
I am so amazed by all of this. How privileged I am to have witnessed both of my sons profess faith in Christ! And how blessed I am to have seen Jay's teary eyes as he became visibly shaken at the thought of his brother eternally separated from God, as well as his exhuberant joy after Ethan's prayer! Not that I hang too much on the single prayer of a 5-year old, but it does appear that the Mighty One is at work in my dear E's heart. May His work continue!
Oh, sweet Jesus! Thank you for the treasure of this night! Praise and glory to You, O winner of men's (and boy's) hearts!
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Had a lovely dinner with Mr. and Mrs. White a couple of Saturdays ago. Just before we left, Joey tempted fate with this little stunt...I'm surprised he didn't end up with spaghetti and ice-cream all over him!
Jamie sent us home with rhubarb crisp. It was gone within 24 hours.
You two lovebirds rock!
Friday, June 01, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
After a couple of minutes, Ethan started looking at the pictures at the back of his story Bible for inspiration. These were some of the things that he pronounced as biblical instruction: "use encouraging words", "consider others" (so far, so good!), "pet animals carefully" (hmmmm...), and "don't take candy when your mom says to stop".
Aren't kids cool?
Thursday, May 17, 2007
I have to admit that I've bought a couple of infomercial products once they've hit the Target/Walmart scene. I'd have to say that the Smart Spin containers with uniform lids are pretty handy. And recently I sprung for the Swivel Sweeper after visiting a friend's house and seeing Jay gleefully sweep her entire house with it. Now my boys fight over using it to sweep my floors (score one for mom!).
This brings me to the title for my post... Jay had just returned from a victorious run of said gizmo and was emptying the removable tray. As he showed me how much he had collected in just a few moments of swiveling and sweeping we began to discuss the merits of our newest contraption. I remarked how much I appreciate not having to bend over and shove stuff into a dustpan. "Yeah," he agreed. "Because the Swivel Sweeper is a vacuum, broom, and dustpan, all in one...kind of like how God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all in one!"
It was one of those moments where you think, Did you really just say what I think you said? and try your darndest not to bust up laughing.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Friday, March 09, 2007
Monday, March 05, 2007
Friday, March 02, 2007
Friday, January 19, 2007
I'll post more pics later. I can't stop looking at or taking pictures of her!
Thursday, January 11, 2007
I woke yesterday morning and had a few minutes with the Lord to start the day while B was downstairs with the chitlins. The word "wait" was on my heart, so I spent some time in Ps. 27. The ending of the psalm is,
Dear baby, hear beneath my heart,
I thought that you might come today;
The timing just seemed right.
But the stars are out
And the moon is high
And sheepishly I wonder why
I try to arrange the plans of God,
For I know
You will not come until the One
Who holds eternity rustles your soft cocoon
And whispers in tones that I will not hear,
“It’s time, precious gift.
Now it’s time.”
Robin Jones Gunn
Friday, January 05, 2007
This is our most recent picture of Sparky, taken last Monday to check baby's size in hopes of not having another Butterball. All looks good...the ultrasound measured baby at 8 lbs. 10 oz. and the doctor thinks he or she isn't even that big and probably won't come out over 10 lbs...I could have kissed the guy!
But despite Sparky's petite (by Crim standards) size, he or she still has the trademark chubby cheeks, one of which can be seen in the picture above. The big round shape on the left is the tummy, the little round shape in the upper right is the cheek, next to the nose with two black dots for nostrils and two dark eyes. Baby was busily sucking on something while we peeked in. So amazing!
I guess we're pretty much ready around here. I know I would love to bend over again without a watermelon in the way! But I'm scared about going through labor again...funny how we don't think about that when we're excited about getting pregnant again but how vivid my recollection of it all is now that it could happen at any time! Please pray for me to endure.