Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I have been a very bad blogger.  Basically, I have disappeared.  The last several months have been-busy, emotional, painful, over.  We are seeing the sun again and my soul is renewed.

Which is good because life is coming fast and furious these days.  Over the next few weeks several big things are happening (at least they feel big right now...in a few months they will be trivial).

Chalk the Walk/Prom...always fun, these are the last for Andy

To Save a Life...won't elaborate here, but lots of hard life experiences for Alex and his friends in the last month.  I pray this is a hope giving event for these young kids.

Turning 40...Not really worked up about this, but it is exciting.  I am hoping this means people will stop assuming I had Anderson in high school.  The math works out correctly for an adult parenting experience, people.

Graduation...Physically prepared for the events, not sure you can be emotionally-'nuff said

(Hopefully) the sale of our home and all the ensuing cleaning, packing, strangers inspecting our "haven"

I was trying to lose 10-15 pounds by the big 4-0, but Andy gave me an hour long "talk" about the unhealthy guidelines set by a lost and superficial world and how if all the women would band together and be happy with ourselves, being ultra skinny would no longer be the standard and healthy and happy would be the norm.  (IE. in a really round about way he was saying that he likes his mom just the way she is, I'm taking it as a compliment and eating a cookie.)

There is more, but that is all I can think of for now.  If anyone needs me in the next week, I will be the 40 year old woman in the corner-clutcing a piece of chocolate- trying to hold back tearsthat she can no longer control (thank you, aging process.)

I PROMISE that there will be a blog with pictures about all the big graduation party and all the decorations/planning that went into it. I may even sneak in a blog about the pain joy of staging a home. If I had lower standards we would all be way more relaxed at our house.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Life is an Adventure!

This is certainly an understatement.

Remember my Valentine's post about pink slips.
I haven't gotten mine...BUT, I was advised by my supervisor and discipline lead that if I got an offer it would be a good idea to take it.
Empowerment budgets are expected to be cut at least 20%.
No one will know for sure until the budget is passed.
Contracts go out April 15th.
No one is anticipating answers by then.
Which means no contract until the budgets are passed then reviewed and approved by
local Empowerment boards.
Which could be anytime between May and July.
And there are still no guarantees.

That's the long story.
The short story is that God is closing a door and opening a window,

in North Carolina.

Yep, that is the "opportunity".

We are moving back to North Carolina at the end of my contract.
(June 30th)

So, save your boxes.

Put on your moving gloves.

Friends in NC...get ready. 
We're coming home!

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Birthday Celebration!

Happy Birthday, Alex!

Alex, age 3
Yes, my baby is turning 15. 
He is pretty awesome, plays instruments, sings, acts, makes the best butter popcorn I've ever had.
Alex has a tender heart, quick mind and an endless source of humor.

This is a pretty big deal. 
Some of you may remember Alex from the picture above.
He was still learning to talk and communicate.
He had about 20 words and I am pretty sure 10 of the revolved around trains.

Where do I start with celebrating Alex's life?
This kid is an amazing testimony to God's miraculous work.
Here is just a tiny glimpse into his journey.

He had a dangerously high bilirubin count (23) shortly after he was born.
Alex never was able to take a bottle and had to be fed through an eye dropper when I wasn't around.
He was put under anesthesia at 18 months to test for glaucoma.
Alex walked at 19 months due to low tone in his legs.
He was entered into EI services at 2.5 due to suspected PDD-NOS (mild autism).
Alex was still receptively and expressively delayed in communication at age 3 (amongst other things.)
He participated in an expensive exclusive preschool run by an SLP and OT at age 3.
Did I mention he had a sleep disorder that woke him (and us) up every hour....until age 5?

This just scratches the surface.
But, gosh, he was (and still is) cute as a bug!
He was the squishiest, most huggable, loveable toddler/preschooler you ever met.
It makes perfect sense that he is super intelligent, right?
And those birth defect eyes! 
Who wouldn't melt in those giant pools of chocolate brown?!?!

By the time Alex was in kindergarten he had lost all his diagnosis.
He was placed in the gifted program in third grade.
Alex is our odds breaker, our miracle, our reminder of what God can do
 in and through us if we just trust Him.
I thank God for Alex everyday. 
With all the struggles. 
He is our joy giver.
I can't wait to see what God has in store for the next 15 years!

Fun memories:
Jingle bell, jingle bell hey!
Rolling down hills, hugging lamp posts and laying on concrete
Seminary wide man Alex hunts
Tucked in sweatshirts
Toast and water diet
Bell ringing on his new bike at 7 a.m (on a Saturday) through the seminary apartment complex
after he successfully learned to pedal a bike
Belt obsessions
Thomas the Tank Engine
George of the Jungle
Blues Clues
Penguins on Scooters
Capes and bicycles
Darth Vader
Endless (and I do mean endless) costumes
Beanie Baby worship services
Chef Alex
"Hey! Who put this meat in my hamburger? That's bisgusting."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pink is Not Just for Valentine's!

Sorry for the flurry of blog posts and then the looooooong hiatus.

Life has been, ummmm, overwhelming exciting lately.

The last several weeks have brought us suprise after suprise after suprise. 
I have been working on catching my breath.

A few of the highlights include a midnight run to the hospital, illness,
disappointments, loss, etc.

I have settled into our life of uncertainty.
I struggled for awhile, but am now experiencing peace in the midst of turmoil.
It helps to stop fighting God and start trusting Him.

I'm there now.

So, here is the latest. 
The agency I work for has made drastic staffing cuts over the last several days.
Many people received pink slips who have worked for the agency for decades.
I did not receive just a gift in the mail


Positions funded by Empowerment grants have not been reviewed yet.

That would be me.

It is likely my special package will be arriving in the mail in the coming weeks.

We are okay.
God has a perfect plan. Not necessarily an easy plan, but a perfect plan, nonetheless.
But, a full life is not always easy.

So, changes are likely coming for the Gael family.
We are not special nor should we expect to be spared from what so many other families are facing.
We are  a little lost in the forest.
we have options and hope.

Please don't worry about us.
All our moving has provided us with a tremendous network.
We've got a plan.
We will be okay because He made a promise:

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.

Photo by Alex Gael


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Art Gallery Graduation Party-Centerpieces

Learned something about my friends when I put out an all call for
wine bottles.
I know some SERIOUS wine drinkers...WOW!!
I am totally kidding here....there was no one person that had more than any other.
Thanks people, keep 'em coming.

Any who, I decided to transform a few into a sample centerpiece.
As stated in a previous post, I am really bad at before pictures.
I forgot to take pictures with labels on.
So this is mid-project:

I included the all important bottle of GOO GONE because it was integral to the process.
I soaked all the bottles in hot soapy water.
Not all labels are created equal...some came off super easy while others were not ready to let go.
This was the most difficult part..involved scraping, layers of goo gone, more scraping, repeat.
I emptied a few more wine bottles in the process...not really but I was close.

After many hours the colored bottles were ready for paint and the clear for a chalkboard label.
Two coats of paint and a chalk setting glaze later, here is a sample of what we are going for:

Obviously, my mini-table is not nearly the size of table we will be using at graduation,
but it's just a preview, people!

Butcher block will ground our centerpiece and also act as a doodle pad for anyone choosing to dabble with the art supplies in the mason jars. 
Pearl colored tissue balls will offset the wine bottles.
These are just plain white tissue paper, but its just January.  Lots of time to buy the right tissue paper.


We won't be serving alcohol at a high school graduation party.


Each bottle will be holding a different type of flavored lemonade.
Good stuff...I'm not telling what kind.
There have to be some surprises.

I don't have all the needed supplies for the photo trees so those will also be a surprise.
They will be intermixed with the craft jars.

Mom's are amassing large quantities of embarrassing pictures of the graduates to proudly
display on said trees.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday....Saturday is coming!

A cup of Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate is my companion as I construct this entry.
Proceeding this tasty beverage, I consumed PB chocolate pudding, a bowl of chips, and a Coke Zero.
(The good news is that, while I have eared 0 diet quarters
I have earned all of the goal quarters for exercise.)

Yep, been one of those days.

It just looks cold, doesn't it? (photo by Andy Gael)

Started with -30 windchill and ended with more snow,
lots more fun stuff in between.
Nothing earth shattering, just winter blues stuff that appears
-at first glance-bigger than it really is

Trapped in a Winter Wonderland (photo by Andy Gael)

There is a crumb dust under my 'N' key.
So, if there are some words missing the 'N' you know why.
Have NO IDEA how that got there....I never eat at the computer.
(That's sarcasm, folks.)

The real point of this blog is to report some GOOD news!
Chalkboard labels came in the mail today.
I will be whipping up a sample graduation centerpiece this weekend for your viewing pleasure.

This is also a warning.
If you are the kind of person who prefers to see things for the first time-in person (ie. at the graduation party), don't check out my blog titled
"Graduation Centerpieces".

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lifesavers and Other Stories from the Icelands

This was my FB post this morning:

Today's Goal: STAY WARM.
Forget fashion or even business casual.
This is a wool sock, mulit-layer, puffy sweater day.
Yes, I look like a walking pack of lifesavers (my warmest sweater has bold, horizontal stripes of color), but I will survive the cold car-cold air-cold room-cold air-cold car-cold air routine of the day.
AND if any child decides to resort to violence today, I am well protected.

My job is to travel from school to school in a three county area to work with preschoolers who have behavior challenges.  This is a fun and interesting job, EXCEPT when the windchill is below zero. 
Then traveling is just wrong.

First let me explain my attire. 
I am sporting a wool, 3/4 sleeve, kimono style sweater with horizontal stripes.
Each stripe is a jewel tone (I know-the 80's want their sweater back) topped with a cowel neck.
I have mulitple layers beneath this lovely sweater and no, I'm not taking a picture....this sweater may become a pillow in another blog.

I truly look like a roll of lifesavers. 
Not the trim, original package, but the gummy style...including rolls and loose packaging.

Apparently, the ongoing cold weather makes small children as grouchy as their adult counterparts.
I spent some full-contact time with a three year old in the quiet area.
He clocked me a few times. I am usually more adept at warding off blows.
I blame the layers...they slowed my Ninja reflexes.
Fortunately, I was well insulated.

I am sad to report that tomorrow's forecast includes a morning windchill around -30.
I am not sure a human can survive in such temperatures, but apparently bad behavior can . 
So off to work I will go....

Do remember when you were a kid and moon boots were in style and full body snow suits?
Remember how you could put your arms down to your side and if you tried they bounce back like a spring due to all the insulation in your suit? 
Remember how your scarf would smother your face but your mom had tied it in the back of your head and you couldn't move it because of the limited range of motion in your arms?
Remember the icicles that formed at each nostril?
How about the hat that rested on your eyes so you could see only the lower half of your surroundings?
How about falling down? All you could do is thrash around like an overturned bug until someone came and pulled you up by your zipper toggle?
 And you came up in one complete piece, like a board because your moon boots did not allow your legs to bend and your coat was so stiff with insulation that your arms didn't move?

Well...now imagine a nearly 40 year old woman doing traveling consultations in -30 windchill weather. 
So, if you see a LARGE, puffy grey mass rolling down the highway don't let it alarm you.
It will just be me traveling to my next school.
See, I won't be able to bend to sit in my vehicle so I'll just have Tony give me a kick in the general direction of Cedar county and hope my roll carries me to my desired destination.
This is me in Alaska-in January-a few years back. It was warmer there than in Iowa :(

People think that because I hail from Minnesota I should find it balmy in Iowa.
I understand that my 75% Scandinavian heritage should give me some special protection from the cold.
I realize that my general appearance would support a northern climate.
Yes, my skin is SOOOO white I make zombies jealous.
I realize my intolerance of heat and sun which results in heat exhaustion and bed rest would make you think I long for the cold.
But.....I abhor winter in Iowa.
The shoveling, de-icing, cold, heat bills, scraping windows, waiting for car heaters to warm up, etc.