Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Happenings...

Halloween this year was a two day affair for us. It began with Trunk or Treat and a chili dinner at church on Friday night and then actual Halloween tonight. The kids had two times to dress up so two times the fun!

We began tonight with a beautiful Halloween sky...

Annah was a cat both nights but with different eye lashes each night.

Abigail was a devil on Friday night and Dorothy
from the Wizard of Oz tonight. Of course, Ella, was Toto! The girls said that people gave them extra candy because Ella was so cute! Have to remember that Halloween tip for next year! :)

Jacob went to the Trunk or Treat as the new Windows 7 by Microsoft....quite clever he was!!!! He thought up the idea and painted the box!

While Abigail and Annah went Trick or treating Tim and I sat on our spooky porch and gave out candy.
Later Tim and I were gone to get gas in the van for tomorrow when Trent and Shannon stopped by and did reverse Trick or Treating and gave us candy! The girls were anxious to tell us that they had come by -- what a fun idea! Thank you so much!! :)

And we ended the night with a wonderful Halloween moon.....

Friday, October 30, 2009

Restaurant Bucket List Re-Visited...

Back in January I wrote about our Restaurant Bucket List ....

After Tim's cancer diagnosis a few days before Christmas last year, our family was reeling from the news. We tried to act "normal" and do the things that we normally do even though every waking moment was consumed with the angst of the diagnosis, whether it was spoken or not.

In the midst of trying to pretend life was as normal as it had ever been, we decided we wanted to rent a movie or two. That's what we needed -- a break from reality.

Before Tim's diagnosis we had wanted to see the movie "Bucket List". Now for those that may know what that movie is about, you might not think it would be the first pick of someone newly diagnosed with cancer. The movie is about two guys that have cancer and they go about making their "bucket list" and set out to fulfill it. We decided to be brave and rent the movie. It was a wonderful movie too. After seeing that movie I laughed with Tim telling him that he didn't need a "bucket list" like in the movie but he needed a "bucket list" for restaurants before he began radiation and chemo and he got a feeding tube. It was our joke between us.....

What began as a joke turned into wonderful friends from church giving us gift cards for places that Tim and I could go to eat before the inevitable happened to him. We had a fun time going to different places letting Tim savor eating before the reality of radiation and chemo set in.

That was nine months ago. It's been 4 weeks since the feeding tube came out. Last Saturday, for the first time in 9 months, Tim and I were able to use one of our left over gift cards we had and went out to dinner at Tony Roma's!

What a wonderful celebration it was for getting back to "normal". Tim had potato soup, baby back ribs, mashed potatoes, two glasses of milk and a glass of water! (can you tell that potatoes and milk go down really well?) ;) And, he ate nearly all the food!

I am so happy that we are finding such joy in our return to normalcy. When I think back on the previous months of our walk with cancer, I am awed by the positive attitude that Tim has had through all he has been through. I am so blessed to have Tim as a my husband, my companion, my example, and my best friend.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My "Just Because" Box...

A few weeks ago a package came by FedEx. I knew the package was coming but I didn't know what was in it. Tim knew. My brother, Bill, knew and my sister-in-law, Debbi, knew but I didn't.

I told Bill that there better not be air holes in the box or I was going to kick it across the lawn! I didn't see any air holes so I didn't kick the box.

On the front of the box below my address were the words, "Just Because". I opened the box to find a camera that Bill and Debbi had sent to me!

If you follow my antics you may recall that a few months ago I tossed a beach ball out of our living room and mistakenly tossed my camera with it. I felt lost without my camera over the next several weeks while it went into the camera hospital for repairs. I resorted to my original digital camera that was HUGE by today's standards but it was still my friend as it allowed me to continue taking the pictures of things that I so love to capture with a click of the shutter.

Well, eventually my camera came home again and although I was thrilled to have it back, it didn't take pictures quite like it did before. Things were just not quite right. Up close pictures were not totally focused, colors were not as vivid as they were before the awful crash and most times the pictures would take on a funky grainy look. My trusty third eye was having vision troubles!

Then Bill and Debbi entered the picture. (pun intended!) :) Bill has this awesome camera -- so awesome I was in danger of breaking the "thou shalt not covet" commandment! In fact, it was Bill's camera that inspired us to buy the camera that I unintentionally tossed along with the beach ball, last December. It was a a great camera...until that fateful day.

So Bill and I talked cameras a few times and he knew the story of my now injured camera. The next thing I know....

A few weeks ago a package came by FedEx. I knew the package was coming but I didn't know what was in it. Tim knew. Bill knew and Debbi knew, but I didn't...until the "just because" box came.

Thank you so much Bill and Debbi! I love having a camera that works again, that takes great pictures and can accompany me wherever I go. Thanks to you I have a terrific third eye again -- my vision has been restored!

*Throughout this post I have used pictures that I have taken with the camera that Bill and Debbi sent to me!!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy 10th Birthday Annah!

Today is Annah's 10th birthday! And I have to say that it is absolutely hard for me to believe! My "baby" can't possibly be 10!!!

She has to wait for her birthday party till next week because between Jordan leaving and Halloween (the nerve of Halloween!) the weekends were taken. But next weekend we will have a party to celebrate another year that she is loved!

Today I sent in homemade cupcakes for her class. The homemade part was important to her as she says that everyone in her class always brings in store bought and she doesn't like them and they cost too much! That's my frugal girl!!! :)

She's getting her birthday gifts a bit at a time -- today she got a cute black and white striped kitty figurine that she wanted for her bedroom and a new fun trash can for her room. She also wanted a new scripture bag to carry her scriptures (because the handles on her old one broke). I had to order that and it hasn't come yet. And last but not least, she wanted paint for her bedroom!

Abigail and Annah have always shared a room and for the first time they get to have their own room since Jordan left. Annah wants her room painted pink with large brown polka dots. She requested that she get her paint at her birthday party although I have no idea why so, next week she will get her paint! :)


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Elder Valenta writes....

Yesterday afternoon the mail brought us a surprise... our first letter from Jordan.

I was thrilled to see the return address heading: "Elder Jordan Valenta". I love the sound of that title he will carry with him for the duration of his mission.

Excerpts from Jordan first letter:

I arrived here at the MTC safely and without any trouble. I actually met one elder from my district in Dallas and so that was pretty fun. My companion is Elder McGuire, he's from Bountiful, Utah and played some football at his high school. We get along great so far and he rolled his ankle this morning so we even get to ride the elevators.

The missionaries headed to Brazil are pretty overwhelming here. There are 15 in my district (12 elders and 3 sisters) but there are 98 in our zone waiting for visas. I don't know how long it'll take to get mine but they tell us to expect to see the MTC in Sao Paulo.

Well it's only been a day and a half so I'll write again next week with hopefully a few more stories and words in Portuguese.


The rest of the letter was about the international yellow fever immunization card that he needed. They won't let him into Brazil without it! I didn't realize he need that but was happy that I kept it! Don't even want to think about what the situation would be if I hadn't kept it! YIKES! I sent out a box of Halloween goodies to him and I had gotten his letter in time to be able to include the yellow fever card he needed so the timing was good. :)

A mom's hearts always rest a bit easier (just a bit!) once the first letter from the MTC comes. So it is that mine is resting a bit easier today.
P.S. I love this picture of him playing around the night of his setting apart!

Monday, October 26, 2009

As It Should Be...

I feel a little out of sorts with my blog, a little behind on things that I want to blog about. The last weeks have been hectic with so many things that needed to be done that blogging has taken a backseat to living life... As it should be. :)

But still I won't feel settled till I "catch up". So, that is what I will attempt to do. Not all in one blog post, of course, but maybe over the next few.

With Jordan leaving for the Missionary Training Center (MTC for short) he has been very much on my mind. Last Tuesday night (October 20th) he was set apart. This means that he received a special blessing from our Stake President, President Lindmark, to "set him apart" to be a full time missionary for the next two years. He gave Jordan a chance to say something to each of his sisters and brother (Jacob, Abigail and Annah were there) and then each of us could say something to Jordan. Abigail and Annah cried so much -- Annah so much so that she couldn't do anything but hug him. It was an emotional time for all of us.

I told Jordan that I knew the difficulty he had in deciding to serve with his dad facing cancer but reminded him that we had to have faith that no matter what happens in the next two years, we will be taken care of and that he has made the right choice.

When it was Tim's turn to talk to Jordan he said,

"I fully expect that I will be here in two years. I will say it again, I FULLY expect to be here in two years. But, I don't know what will happen but whether I am here or whether I am not, I want you to know that BOTH of your fathers will be watching over you." (meaning Heavenly Father and him).
Of course everyone was crying. What a beautiful spirit filled that room. I do so love that husband of mine.

For Wednesday morning we had our alarm set for 4:30 am so we could be up and leave for the airport at 5:15 for his 6:40 flight to Salt Lake City. We were still asleep when there was a knock on our bedroom door and Jordan came in and whispered,
"Mom and Dad, are we going to go?"

We mumbled, "What time is it?"

He said, "Ten after five."

He was fully dressed and ready, and with a scene reminiscent of Home Alone when the power went out and their alarms didn't go off and they were late for the airport, we screamed and jumped out of bed and ran around to quickly wake up kids and get dressed!!!!

We never heard Tim's alarm go off! Tim uses his cell phone for an alarm clock and later we realized that the night before Tim had put his phone on silent when Jordan was being set apart and he never changed that setting so it stayed set for silent. You would think there would be some kind of override of the silent setting when you set the alarm but no....

We made it to the airport in time but poor Jordan didn't have a thing to eat -- he was leaving for two years and I didn't even send my boy off with breakfast!!! :( I told him I would make it up to him when he got home. So breakfast for him was from the airport gift shop -- a muffin, a protein bar and some M&M's! What kind of a mother am I?????

Thumbs up...MTC here he comes! :)
A small, far away picture of my boy but it was his final wave....
our last glimpse of him before he went to board his plane. He is off for two full years of experiences that will change his life, and ours... As it should be.
"And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." (D&C 84:88)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Family Photos...

Last week, before Jordan left, we had some family pictures taken. Marissa Noe had done the pictures for Tim and Lisa's wedding a little over a year ago and she did these pictures for us. We missed having Tim and Lisa (who now live in Arizona) and Andrew in the picture but perhaps one day we will have a time when everyone is together for a complete family picture. :)

We love Marissa. She is one of the many people who prayed us through Tim's cancer and we are so grateful that she would capture our family in her magic lens. She truly does create magic with picture taking -- I have seen it in her photos over and over! Thank you so much Marissa!! We love you!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


It has been some time since I have blogged. I've missed it. It's kind of like missing a weekly appointment with your therapist...assuming you have a therapist. My blog is my therapist. Aren't there times in life when we all wish we had a therapist? :P

Life hasn't seemed to slow down much lately. It has been one thing after another. I told Tim that I wished the world would just stop for about 3 or 4 days and let me catch up. I know that won't happen but I can dream.

I have watched as the seasons have shifted from summer to fall. I love the fall. I love the cooling temperatures, the changing colors. Even the tired foliage holds surprising beauty. Our recent trip to Minnesota even gave us a taste of winter with a few inches of beautiful snow that spilled from the clouds just for us.

Like the shifting seasons our life is shifting too.
We are preparing to send our third oldest son off to Brazil for 2 years where he will serve as a missionary there. He will serve in the Belo Horizonte Mission and speak Portuguese.
Someone asked me the other day if sending off a second son was easier than sending the first one (our oldest son, Tim, served a mission to the Canada Montreal Mission and spoke French). I thought for a moment about that question and then answered no, it was not easier the second time. The only thing that is easier is perhaps the preparations as we are a bit more familiar with the process. But the tug at our hearts is the very same the second time as it was the first. It is never easy to have your child leave the security of your home and send them off for two years. There are always the worries of wondering if you prepared them well enough for the awaiting world, especially when they are so far away from home. There are the worries of how they will cope with the pangs of home sickness that will surely come. There are the worries of how *I* will cope with those same pangs of missing him being at home.
But with all the worries come the reassurances that I also know are there. He will not be left alone in Brazil -- physically or spiritually. I know that he will be blessed with many things beyond his own capacity as he serves. I know the same is true for our family. As a family we have seen so many blessings over the last months that we do not and cannot doubt the existence of a loving Heavenly Father and Savior who watch over us no matter where we are -- whether we are in the throes of cancer or in another country speaking a language other than our own. He has said:
"...Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee."
(Gen. 33:12)

It doesn't matter where the journey takes us, only that He is with us and He is before us. And so it is as we again place a son into his tender care.

So Jordan leaves tomorrow to take his journey with the best traveling companion there is. He will learn a new dependence upon Him that perhaps he has never known before, a dependence that will change his vision, his desires, his heart and his life.

This is Jordan only a week ago (with a snowflake on his chin) in Minnesota. :)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Knight and His Castle...

This castle is the newest addition to our mantle...

It is the Rambling Rose Castle that my sister gave to me. Above the door of the castle is a sign that reads, "they lived happily ever after".

We have a sign in the entry way of our home that says the same thing. I found it when Tim was in the throes of his 35 radiation treatments. It spoke to my heart in the midst the turmoil that we were swirled in. It was like having something tangible to keep my heart and my mind connected and focused on the happiness that we have experienced and that we so longed to continue to experience.

A recent trip to New York gave me the opportunity to see my sister and she gifted me with this beautiful glossy castle. My camera can't capture its loveliness so you will have to trust me when I say it is quite beautiful. And it is quite meaningful. While the front says "they lived happily ever after", on the back, just above a door it says, "Believe". So fitting as we come out the other side of cancer.

I love the castle and I love that my sister thought to give it to me.
A knight has to have a castle and now my knight on my mantle has a castle; he has the Rambling Rose Castle to call his own. Yes, my knight is bigger than his castle...and that is how it should be.
Thank you again, Cretta. I will cherish the castle as I do the knight.