Monday, August 27, 2012

Been a little Busy

Been a little busy the past few months. We have been planning the first Jamie Berkley Memorial Golf Tournament,

News Release

Media Contact:
FAST                                                                                     
Melissa Elkins                                                                        
elkins.melissa@gmail.com                                                     
(858) 775-5358                                                                      

Local Family Raises Awareness For Angelman Syndrome

First Annual Memorial Golf Tournament in Honor of Jamie Berkley

Pleasant Hill, Iowa, August 22, 2012 – The first Jaime Berkley Memorial Golf tournament, Sept. 23, at Toad Valley Golf Course in Pleasant Hill, will benefit the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST) Open registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and there will be a shotgun start at 9 a.m.

Five years ago, at the age of seven, Jamie Berkley lost her battle with Angelman Syndrome. Like most individuals with Angelman Syndrome, Jamie brought joy and happiness to everyone she met and left a legacy of love and laughter. Parents, Jason and Cindy Berkley, have dedicated their lives to bringing awareness to this disorder and honoring their child’s memory with this event.

“We chose FAST because their goal is to bring practical treatments into current medical practices as soon as possible,” said the Berkleys.  “FAST is a non-profit organization, which is 100 percent staffed by volunteers who either have children with Angelman Syndrome or have close relations to the community. All proceeds they raise go directly into research and finding ways to better the lives of families who are afflicted by Angelman Syndrome. They are already making huge advances in research and have recently funded the first-ever human clinical trial for a potential treatment for Angelman Syndrome. The money at our fundraiser is fed directly back into research and awareness. This is why we chose FAST.”

“We are extremely honored to be chosen as the Berkley fundraising beneficiary,” said Paula Evans, Founder and Chairperson. “Our hearts are always heavy over a loss of a child.  We strive to bring more awareness and research to finding a cure for Angelman Syndrome so families will never feel the painful loss of a child to this disorder. FAST is dedicated to its community and works endlessly to cure Angelman Syndrome and related disorders through the funding of an aggressive research agenda, education, and advocacy.”

For more information about sponsorships or registration, please contact Jason Berkley at 1-515-202-4091 or jcberkley94@msn.com.


About Angelman Syndrome
Angelman Syndrome is a severe neurological disorder characterized by profound developmental delays, epilepsy, and problems with motor coordination (ataxia) and balance. Individuals with AS do not develop functional speech. The seizure disorder in individuals with Angelman Syndrome can be difficult to treat. Feeding disorders in infancy are common, and some persist throughout childhood. Sleeping difficulties are commonly noted in individuals with Angelman Syndrome. AS affects all races and both genders equally and occurs in approximately one in 10,000 to 15,000 births.  For more information about Angelman Syndrome, please visit http://www.CureAngelman.org.

About FAST
FAST is a Section 501(c)(3) non-profit research organization narrowly focused on funding research that holds the greatest promise of treating Angelman Syndrome.   FAST is committed to assisting individuals living with Angelman Syndrome realize their full potential and quality of life.  To learn more about FAST or to make a donation FAST’s research program, visit www.CureAngelman.org.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Wonderful day for Angels

Today it was announced that the human clinical trials will soon begin for Angelaman Syndrome. I have been kind of delinquent in my post and updates to my blog. Some may call it laziness, I refer to remind myself of how busy our life is. The thought....dream.....prayer for a cure is at times exciting , but more overwhelming emotionally. The Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Theraputics has been working relentlessly to raise the money for the trials. In a matter of a few years we have gone from a dream to one step closer to reality with a CURE!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

5 years ago today...............

I had been giving it a lot of thought on what and how I would post on the five year anniversary of losing Jamie. I thought at first I would reflect on the past five years,but I have already done that over and over. So instead I will share the feelings , sights and emotions I felt and saw "fiver years ago today".......
Five years ago today...I was kissing my little girl goodbye as she was being transported to the helipad, on her way to Iowa city.
Five years ago today ...I was riding in moms mustang, doing 80+ miles an hour trying to keep pace the best we could with the hospital helicopter.
Five years ago today....I arrived at the hospital to find Jamie hooked to more machines than I think I have ever seen............................then given the news from the doctor that her brain was swelling, and that was having several strokes. Cindy and I found a quiet place to pray....cry and hold each other , both knowing each others fears....
Five years ago today..... I saw my daughter fight a battle that she could not win........I saw pain in my moms eyes that still think of all the time..........
Five years ago today ......I realized I was not half as strong a man that I thought I was........and realized that my wife was the strongest person I know.......
Five years ago today........ Without saying a single word.....just by the look in my wife's eyes as we sat and prayed next to Jamie's hospital bed .......with our eyes locked on each others we both knew it was time to let her go........and let her last moments with us be with dignity, and love. No more poking and prodding, no more beeps of medical equipment . It was time to let her little body finally rest...........................
Five years ago today.......I watched Cindy rock Jamie for the last time as she slowly slipped away.........peacefully..........knowing how much we will always love her.
Five years ago today.......I questioned by relationship with God.
Five years ago today.......I realized doctors make mistakes.....
Five years ago today.......I questioned the whole idea of adoption
Five years ago today ......We had to leave Jamie at the hospital..............The long drive home was much slower, and quieter
Five years ago today......I had to get down on one knee, put my hands on my sons shoulders and tell him that Jamie was not coming home from the hospital......and that she died.....that is the hardest thing I have ever had to tell anyone.
As i am sure it is with most parents of a special needs child, especially parents of an Angelman syndrome child. The children become the center point of the family. Dinners , vacations , schedules, doctors visits you name it, is planned around the child and the child's needs, or limitations. Much the way the sun is the center of our solar system, and all the planets revolve around it, that was the case with us and Jamie. When our "sun" was taken from us our universe was destroyed.
Five years ago today....... I left a big piece of myself in that hospital room with Jamie........
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot replace sorrow with joy. We have had many joys since that terrible day....the adoption of Becca....the adoption of Kayla.....the adoption of Jack. My life is overflowing with joy and love right now, but the sadness and sorrow is just as strong today as it was "5 years ago today........."
This a link i made today in rememberance of Jamie............Love you pumpkin

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A new Member

It has been long over due, but I would love to introduce the newest member of the "posse".This is little boy Jack. Cindy and I feel so blessed to be Mommy and Daddy to such a "wild" child. He has brought so much joy to our home!!! The girls absolutely adore him................and Luke kinda likes him as well. He is Luke's little buddy. It has been quite an adjustment to having such a little one back in the house again, but we couldn't imagine life without him. The balance of power is a little more even now............4 girls and 3 boys in the house............................but the girls still win out. I LOVE being his Dada !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and I think he loves it also.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cindy and i were sitting in family court today, and I realized "dude you haven't updated your blog lately". I guess I am just getting a little lazy lately. Well....2 months ago we finalized the adoption of "the Nugget". Now I can refer to him by name, since he is finally ours. His name is Jack. He is an awesome little dude, and such a character. Jack has brought so much joy to our family..............and it is kind of nice having another boy in the house. At least now the numbers are a little more even, 4 to 3. We think our family has grown large enough and that we are done.............for now. The reason we were in family court was for another joyous occasion. We attended Jack's older sisters adoption. She was adopted by a really GREAT family that we have and will continue to stay in contact with. I sat there thinking how much both of our families have changed in just a year, and how these two little ones have families who love them so very much.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gettin a little closer

Well........we had to go to court last week for a termination hearing for "The Nugget". It was a nervous and stressful day for me, not knowing what the judge or the lawyers would have to say or the questions they would ask. The day actually went better than I could have imagined. Nugget's parents did not even bother to show up..........a part of me was relieved , another part was kind of ticked off. How you show such little care and love for your child, to not show up for such an important court date. On the other hand , them not showing up was the best thing that could have happened. The judge terminated their parental rights. We can now move forward as a family to adopt the "Nugget" and give him a forever home. He is already such an important part of our family. I cannot wait for the day to "officially" call him MY son.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A quick update

The other night i realizes I hadn't updated my page lately. Well.......let me break down the last 6-8 months for you. In the past year Cindy and I both lost our fathers, both were in the Navy when they were younger and both passed away from lung problems. We also have a temporary (hopefully permanent ) addition to our family!!! He came to our home when he was 2 days old , and is now a little over 8 months old. I can't use his name right now on my page, but we all have nicknamed him "The Nugget". He is a beautiful happy little boy , and we love him more than I can put into words!!!!! Our summer was FULL of time spent at the hospital. Becca had a bowel obstruction and had 10 inches of her small intestine removed. While in recovery her right lung collapsed and was rushed to the P.i.c.u. and was placed on a vent. The more I get to look back and remember that night I realize how close we came to losing her. At the time I had on my "Daddy" hat and did everything I could to comfort her and make sure she knew that I was there. I spent the rest of the time talking to God , begging him to help Becca get better, and to look out for our family, and to PLEASE not let our family go through this "again". She made a slow but steady recovery and eventually came home 12 days later. I made a promise to Becca when we went to the hospital that I was staying there with her til she came home.........so that is what i did. Cindy spent most days at the hospital, and nights at home taking care of the other kids. After we were home we started noticing Becca was having more seizures, her summer was going awesome with almost no seizure activity. After a few days she started having tonic clonic "gran mal" seizures , and there were many of them lasting for 3-4 minutes at a time. So, back to the hospital we went, to try to get the seizures under some kind of control. We took her to her nuero, adjusted some meds, adjuster her VNS device and put her back on the Ketogenic diet. Right now we are keeping our fingers crossed , her seizures are non existent for the time being. She is back to her normal, crazy, laughing all the time Becca. Soon after we were able to get Becc's seizures under control........Kayla started having Tonic clonic seizures. This was soooooooo weird , especially since we had not seen a seizure with Kayla since we adopted her. Luckily an adjustment of her med seems to be working in controlling her seizures. Like I said this has been a crazy past 4-6 months , but we handled well and are enjoying the life we are blessed with. We go to court this week and in 2 weeks to HOPEFULLY make "The Nugget" a permanent part of our family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will try not to wait so long for my next post I promise

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Perfection?

As many people do , I too strive for the elusive thing called "perfection". Whether it be the perfectly struck golf ball, the perfect flight of an arrow, being the "perfect " dad , or the "perfect " husband. For the most part "perfection " us unattainable, but it is something it seems everyone strives for........

Take a minute to think............how often do we look for and embrace the "imperfect"? This has been on my mind for a while now. I have sat at my window looking at the giant Hack berry tree in our front yard and thought how beautiful and perfect it looks in the fall. the funny thing it is not so perfect when you really start looking at it. It has some broken limbs from last years ice storm, it is very uneven from the city trimming it around the power line, and it leans just a little bit toward the house.

When I watch the girls playing and progressing I think of how perfect they are, but then i notice Becca's g-tube and her seizures , and i notice Kayla's walk. I know they will never be star athletes, or honor students and I know they will never be "perfect" in the worlds eyes. There lives were anything but perfect before they came into our hearts.

That is why I think it is more important to cherish what is sometimes labeled "imperfect". I think of how boring life would be if everything was in its nice neat little perfect place. The smallest little hick-ups in life can have such huge impacts. For instance, after I graduated high school I decided to take a little trip to Iowa to visit my Uncle Rod and help him build houses for the summer. I had every intention of going back home at the end of the summer, but for some strange reason I stayed. A year later I met Cindy ( thank god) and my "perfect" getaway from home changed. We fell in love, and later married. If I had gone back home we would have never met. I would not have Luke , Maddie, Becca , or Kayla. Jamie would not have been here to fill my heart with so much joy and LOVE.

I think a lot about Jamie......................................She struggled through so many things in seven years. She had brain surgery at the age of 1 . She had countless hospital stays, she couldn't walk, and she had her seizures. Cindy and I chose rather than to dwell on the negative we embraced the not so perfect things about our little girl. She blessed our lives and impacted so many other peoples just with her smile ,her laugh and her big wet kisses.

Life should be more about LOVING the "imperfect" gifts the GOD gives us. All of the "imperfect " things in your life are there for a reason. They make people who they are, or remind people of what is truly important in life....................... All of these "imperfect" things that God gives us all are .................................well........................."PERFECT"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Windy City and Wings


This past weekend my wife and I attended an awesome event in Chicago. The event was the 2nd annual F.A.S.T. Gala. The Gala is a fundraiser for "Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics" aka F.A.ST.. The weekend started with the 2 of us getting up early Saturday morning (without waking up the girls) loading the truck with our suit-case and hitting the road. We were in Chicago by lunch time and had some spare time to take in the sights. We walked up and down Michigan avenue , watching the mass of humanity piling in and out of different stores.................."tis the season". There is nothing that says Christmas more than people banging into one another on the sidewalk ...........and the non stop honking of car horns. It is so much different in the big cities than it is here at home. Don't get me wrong , we have running water, the Internet , and even direct TV. It is just a little more slow paced here. The highlight of our little jaunt around town was watching Cindy's first experience with a street peddler. This guy walks up to me , squirts stuff on my boots, whips out a brush, and starts shining my shoes. I didn't ask for , nor wanted my shoes "shined". The funny part is when he tried to collect 12 bucks "plus a fine gratuity" as he put it, from Cindy. They went back in forth for a while, she reminded him over and over that I didn't want my shoes shined to start with, and that he just squirted the stuff on my shoes as we were walking by. He managed to walk away with 1 dollar....................he even mumbled something to me " I feel for you man , having an ole lady like dat". We laughed all the way back up Michigan avenue til we got back to our hotel. The Gala was so much fun. It is great to see other Angelman parents that we talk to online , or that we have met in the past. It also gave us a chance to meet some new parent . We were given the opportunity to go to Gala from the kindness and generosity of the actor and father Colin Farrell, who's son has Angelman syndrome. He donated several pairs of tickets, so many Angelman parents could attend the event. We were fortunate enough to be able to meet and thank him in person and spend a few minutes visiting with him. He was aware that we had adopted our 2"angels" , he also knew about Jamie, and our loss. The night was awesome!!!!!!!!!!! We laughed , visited, drank, danced, and sometimes cried. Paula Evans the chairperson of F.A.S.T. spoke at the event not just as the chairperson ,but also as a parent. She shared a story of some of her daughters classmates and how they came up with an idea to spread awareness about Angelman syndrome. The children decided that they and the entire school district would be completely silent during lunch hour on Dec. 2nd so that they would know how it felt to be like her daughter Ainsley. Most "Angels" cannot speak , her story was very powerful ......and there were not a lot of dry eyes after hearing such an awesome , inspiring , hopeful story. Cindy and are so thankful for being able to attend the event and share stories with so many other parents!!!!!!!!!! I will post pics of me playing the air guitar later

Please take the time to
Check out http://www.cureangelman.org/ and http://www.speakout4as.org/

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Shh

It has been quite a while since I have had the chance to "sit down" and update my blog. Luke and I spent the night at my parents house....just goofing off watching t.v........before I knew it , it was really late and I was too tired to drive home. This morning I sit here with my cup of coffee a, and their house is SO quiet. I am not used to this much silence and calmness. Don't get me wrong I love my house and the life we have, but it usually isn't very quiet there. A normal Sunday at home consists of at least one t.v. on, Kayla barging in and out of rooms unannounced, Becca walking around with her little mp3 player changing the songs every 10-15 seconds, Luke and Maddie either playing and laughing very loudly or picking at each other just a little bit louder! Cindy is usually in the kitchen cooking up a storm to fill all of our bellies, the phone rings at least 2-3 times by 10 o'clock, the dogs need to be taken out and fed. These are sounds that I have come to expect and love, sometimes I wonder how does Cindy get anything done with all the distraction. I know it takes me half the morning just to get a few free minutes to check my e-mail. Down here at Mom and Dad's, the phone hasn't rang, the t.v.'s are all off, Luke is still asleep and except for the clicking of my computer keys when I type, the only thing you here is the very quiet ticking of mom's clock. It is very peaceful and relaxing to say the least. I think many peoples lives are that way. You get up go to work , hurry home and try to cram in as much time as you can with your kids and spouse before it is time to go to bed . the weekends are another "monster" all together. You have 24-48 hours to try to enjoy your family without the worries of work, your commute, getting everybody ready and off to school, running kids too and from practice, making dinner, helping with homework, making sure everyone is "clean" for the next school day, and then trying to get them all in bed asleep at a decent time. You add into that the extra care the little ones need with meds and changings and feedings............ It starts to sounds very draining and monotonous.....................................especially as I sit "here" in complete silence. Thank GOD I have such an awesome wife!!! Cindy does most of these things everyday with rarely a complaint. Now on the other hand I can't find my Harley keys and my shoes at the same time without it being a dilemma. Well , I here Luke getting up.........there goes the silence :0)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wishes and Prayers

I had planned on writing this post about a week or so ago, but we got a little side tracked. I wanted to share Becca's "Wish". She was given a Make-a-wish trip to Hawaii. We flew out on the 4th for a fun filled 6 days in Oahu..................man that was a long flight. Most of the flight out was spent with Becca barfing on me. Now, one of my and Cindy's goals, is to have the girls experience as much as life has to offer. To tell you truth it is so much fun watching Becca see things for the first time. In Hawaii her eyes lit up like the sun when we walked down to the beach the first day. It was more like a sprint for her and I was just trying to keep up. She had such an awesome time!!!!!!! Her most favorite thing the whole week we were there was the luau. She sat in amazement and complete JOY watching the hula dancers and fire dancer. It was sad to see the night come to an end.............and the week for that matter. I am so glad her "wish" was granted. But, the story doesn't end there. After only being home for a week, and trying to get back to "Midwest" time, Becca was not feeling the best. She awoke Wednesday night during a really bad thunderstorm crying really loud. She was acting as if her tummy was really hurting her. Knowing that constipation is a problem that Becca and many Angelman kids struggle with. We gave her an enema in hopes that it would make her feel better.......and it did a little bit. The next morning she was still not herself and her tummy was very tender, so we decided to take her to the hospital. Many times we are overly paranoid when the girls aren't feeling themselves, but since they cannot tell you what is wrong with them you kinda just have to go with your mommy and daddy instincts. Thank goodness we did. By Thursday afternoon she had a ct scan that showed t=what they thought was a ruptured appendix, but they were not totally sure. Shortly after 11:00 that night she was being prepped for surgery. It was probably about 12:30 a.m. when the surgeon came out to tell us that her appendix was fine, but she had an obstruction in her small intestine that had perforated it. He told us he had to remove a portion of her small intestine and resection it and hoped that she would recover without the need of a colostomy bag.
All I could think was "Why does this stuff happen to us" and "What did Becca do to deserve this and the pain she had to endure, hasn't she been through enough in her life already" "Why, Why ,Why". Why does our faith have to be tested. Hasn't our family dealt with enough "crap"? I sat by her bedside and prayed to myself.........................to be honest I found myself saying some of the same prayer I did when I sat next to Jamie's bed almost three years ago. It makes hard to stay really positive and upbeat when you have a child in the recovery room, and you know had things can go horribly wrong very fast. As much as I could I tried to separate the past from the present, but it was hard under the circumstances, not knowing is she going to make a full recovery, is she going to have long lasting side effects from this, or is something else going to go wrong.....................? Slowly but surely Becca slowly came around and is recovering like a champ. We will have to keep a really close eye on her and she will be on a special diet of soft foods for a while, but the prognosis is good. Thank God!!!!! But, as overjoyed that I am that Becca is doing much better, a little part of me...the dad part in me wants to why my prayers for Becca were answered, but our prayers for Jamie were not? I didn't love her any less, I didn't pray for her any less. She didn't fill our hearts any less. I know these are questions that cannot be answered, but ....all I am left with is WHY?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day

I just noticed that it has been a while since I had posted anything new. We have been so busy working on the house, putting in new windows , putting on new siding and remodeling the bathroom.....not to mention ball games and physical therapy for the girls. Well, that is enough excuses I suppose!! Mother's Day has come to mean a lot more to me in the past few years than ever. Before it was just a day to buy something for your Mom and grill some food for dinner. I see it a lot different now...............its a day to appreciate what moms do day in and day out. Now that I am an adult , I understand how hard it must have been for my mom having 4, yes count-em 4 boys only 8 years apart in age. I can only imagine the smells that permeated from our rooms when we were young adults.......I don't even want to think about the laundry :( I also see my wife as a women who wears way too many hats..1 she 's my wife and love of my life....2 she is an on the go mom for Luke and Maddie....3 she is a teacher, nurturer, nurse, therapist and advocate and a VOICE for Becca and Kayla. ...4 she is an errand runner....5 she is a housekeeper...6 she is a cook...7 she is the family accountant( no way am I getting near the bills with my Male Adult Onset A.D.D).8 she is a peacemaker when the older two aren't getting along..9 and she is now learning how to do "do it yourself" projects at home. She remodeled the bathroom, all the way down to cutting and installing the new tile floor and shower surround. 10 she is also my best friend. She does all these thing everyday without complaint ...................she rocks!!!!!!! I know so very few people that would be able to handle all that she does. I thank God everyday that she CHOSE me to share her life with.. I Love You Cindy... Happy Mother's Day..............................................................You too Mom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Quarter 'Til "Boo"

You might find the title to this post a little puzzling. I often find myself saying it and thinking "Dude you are STRANGE". Let me explain, the girls get home from school right around 3:00. You can just about set your clock by it. I almost daily, call Cindy about 2:45 and let her know it is a quarter til' Boo. We have nicknames for the girls.......we call Kayla, "Kacky" .....and we call Becca "Boo". It is some thing to see, how the house totally changes when the two of them get home from school. It is the equivalent to being on a deserted island one minute, and the next thing you know, there is noise and banging and laughing and total pandemonium!!!! It takes about half an hour for the two of them to settle down, especially Becca, they are both so full of excitement when they get home. I feel there laughs and joy filling my heart more and more everyday. After the girls go to bed for the night , Cindy and I get just a little time to unwind and relax......Ha Ha Ha not really all that often, but I call that time when we do get it........Boo thirty!!!
God I love these girls, I can't even think of what life would be like without them, cause I know we were meant to have a life with them. AWESOME!!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What the kids can teach me :)

I am a pretty simple guy. I work my normal day, come home ,eat dinner, play with girls, and even sometimes go online to check my e-mail and update my blog. Now , I am not what you call " technically inclined" when it comes to the new gizmo's and gadgets that are available these days. In fact my old cell phone wouldn't even let me send text messages. I am more of a hands on "let me figure out how it works" kinda guy. I can read blueprints, layout and build anything from a deck, to totally remodelling our bathroom, tearing out a wall between our kitchen and spare bedroom , to make a larger dining room. Most of the time I can figure out everything I need and know what it will look like completely finished......... before I even start. Yesterday was a huge eye opener to me................I bought a Blackberry Pearl flip. The "thing" barely made it home without being thrown out the window. I mean how many things does a person need to do on their phone anyway? I took me over an hour of going through a tutorial on how to use the "thing" to end up more confused than when I started. It probably wasn't the best idea to bridge the gap from my old phone with this one. Of course , in my frustration with not being able to figure it out ....Cindy says to me"Why don't you sit down and read the instruction manual so you don't get so irritated?"....................YA RIGHT!!!!!!!! I think to myself. Doesn't she know I don't need an instruction manual......I am a MAN, I will figure it out in SPITE of the instructions. An hour or so later Luke comes into the kitchen and asks if I need any help. Any help........from a 14 year old....YA RIGHT I think to myself...., but I thought to myself"What can it hurt". Within about 5 minutes he's rattling off all kinds of terms like SMS this and blue tooth that , and it turns out the "thing" has a camera in it. While Cindy wasn't watching he walked me through some of the basics of what I can do on the phone.............holy crap there is a lot of stuff in it!!!!!!! Today I felt like someone right out of MIT, I was sending texts, receiving texts, taking pictures, adding contacts ,.......I was on a FIRE!!!!!!, for me anyway. To be totally honest the "thing" is really cool, I can't wait to see what else it can do. It just goes to show that if I can join the 21st century "tech" wise...anyone can. Hopefully Luke can keep teaching me without charging for it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Feeling just a little bit older

Each year comes and goes and I usually don't give much thought to getting a year older. I still feel young inside and out. I think I still look young for my age...heck I still get I.D.'d for a beer now and then. Today was like an enormous wake up call for me. No, I don't have any medical problems. I am not in need of any "little blue pills". All of my hair is still where it is supposed to be, on my head and not in my ears. It was if the world "slapped me in the face" and said HEY!!!! your getting OLD!! Today my son Lucas took the test and passed for his DRIVING PERMIT. I remember the day we first brought him home from the hospital..........he was so small.........time couldn't have gone by so fast, but it has. For years his biggest interests were watching Disney movies, playing video games, and hanging out with his dad. Now, his attention is on school, girls, and goofing off with his friends. To be truthful my nose gets a little out of joint sometimes with his life being filled with so many other things that don't include me, but I remember what it was like to be his age. Hanging out with your parents wasn't cool,and I don't think it ever will be at that age. Sure we still do a lot of stuff together....guy stuff. Today I took him driving for the first time, I thought I was going to DIE. In between correcting him and trying to hold back the yelling and laughing at the same time, I thought "Now I know why my parents wanted the other one to teach me to drive" It is Scary. I know it won't be long before he gets the hang of it, and he'll be wanting to drive everywhere. Cindy has decided that I will be the one that teaches him to drive, you notice I said Cindy decided....I was absent for that vote I guess. He is growing up so fast...........................he is turning into such an awesome young MAN.........I am so proud of him. Hopefully I survive this round and live long enough to be there in 2 years when it is Maddie's turn to learn to drive. I think I will be having one of those "votes" when Cindy is absent.

Friday, February 13, 2009

What if she hadn't asked?

I ask the question , because I look back on my life and what it has been like with Cindy. Shortly after graduating high school, I packed my bags and left Pennsylvania and came here to Iowa to just "hang out" with some of my uncles and help them build houses for the summer. Over the next year or so I traveled back and forth to visit my parents and friends in Pa., and coming back to a more laid back lifestyle in Iowa just goofing off and pounding nails. I met Cindy and a bunch of her friends when I was working part time here in town, and going to school at the local community college. As a group we would go out to bowl or shoot pool.....I even snuck a bunch of them into a "dive" bar in Des Moines that I went to with my uncles from time to time. One of those little wholes in the wall that had no intention on "I.D.ing" you, as long as you had cash to pay for your drinks and you didn't get rowdy. One day Cindy asked me "If I had an extra ticket to the Brooks and Dunn concert would you want to go?". I told ya sure sounds like fun. I didn't know at the time(stupid man) that she had not bought the tickets yet. Cindy is a very shy person , so I knew that it took a lot of guts for her to ask me. We had a blast......and were pretty much inseparable each day since. We spent so much time together , doing everything together. One day it just hit me that I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, I wanted to build a life with her, and to have a family with her. Well needless to say I am embracing everyday spending the rest of my life with her, and we are continuing everyday to make a life and to love one another. And, the family thing ....we've had some great times and some of the saddest times we will ever go through................................but the family remains stronger and bigger than ever. Now I sit here and think where would I be, and who would I have become....If she hadn't asked me to go to the concert. where would our lives have taken us? I know I wouldn't be half the man, husband,or father that I am today. It seems GOD puts us right where we need to be at the perfect time................................
OH and by the way Happy Valentines Day
Cindy
I Love You

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I should be careful what I wish for!!!!!!

Cindy and I both know that children with disabilities will have limitations, and even the smallest milestone is a huge leap for them. I know that the girls will probably never speak many words , but my hopes are that they will learn alternative communication skills, like sign language or gesturing. We have our own "little" language here at home. We know what the girls are wanting , or what they are going to get into most of the time. But, I find myself wanting more for them all the time. Sometimes Kayla is trying her hardest to communicate with us (she hoots) , but sometimes it takes a while to know what she wants. With Becca , usually her eyes give her away on what she is up to!!! That girl can find trouble in a blink of an eye ;) Lately we have noticed a lot of higher cognitive ability with the girls. I am sure a lot of it has to do with sibling rivalry, and to get more attention the other. Becca is very hands on.............especially with other peoples hair. She likes to pull your hair , either to get your attention or to get a response. Oh boy does Kayla respond.....LOUDLY. The funny thing is Kayla sets Becca up to get in trouble. Cindy and I have both witnessed it many many times. She will walk over to Becca, bend over, and put her head in Becca's lap................kinda like dangling fresh bait in front of a hungry fish. Becca knows it is wrong ,but just can't stop herself from doing the deed. Right away Kayla will start yelling and run over to us like she is totally innocent in the whole matter. I have even seen her take Becca's hand and place it on her head..............it's like entrapment if you ask me. Becca on the other hand is not always the innocent little angel she thinks she is. Many of the "clashes" her and Kayla have are initiated by her:) Becca has had a pretty tough time with her seizures, and we have been doing everything possible to try to get them under control. A few months ago she had VNS device implanted to try and help control the severity and amount of seizures she has. Her one on one aid at school is awesome about keeping track of how many seizures and how long they are in a journal. Just yesterday Becca was being a little extra "crazy" at school ( pretty much swinging her arms at her Aid and laughing instead of listening.......typical Becca)........finally her Aid told her that if she can't be nice that she couldn't play, and turned her back halfway to Becca. That little turd "FAKED" a seizure...can you believe it. She threw her arms up like her normal seizure, but the difference this time was her eyes were totally focused on her Aid. Becca's eyes always stair off into space and sometimes wander kind of like "lazy eye" when she seizes. This time she was focused on her Aid the entire time, and even looked at the journal right after "FAKING". She knew that the Aid had to write down the seizure, and it just so happened that the Journal was in the bag on her wheelchair. Instead of taking her punishment she manipulated the situation so that her Aid had to come back and interact with her. What a little "schemer". I was so proud when Cindy told me the story !!!!!!!! I am in awe of both of the girls and how far they have come...........and I know I should be careful what I wish for , but I can't wait to see what the learn how to do next.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just a quick trim.

Last night Cindy came up with fabulous idea that I take Becca to get a haircut. I thought "sure, that shouldn't be hard" and off we went. I couldn't have been more wrong!!! Trying to hold Becca in your lap, keeping her hands under control, and holding her head still was like trying to wrestle a four armed anaconda. She is so freakishly strong and persistent. Between myself and the hairstylist we DID manage to cut her hair. It is such a cute haircut, I think the lady called it a "BOB" or something............beats me. When we got back home Cindy was grinning from ear to ear, I think half of the smile was because Becca looked so adorable........the other half of the smile I know is because I looked totally worn out. I think I was set up!!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mr. MOM

Tonight, I was Mr. Mom. Cindy had an appointment, so I was responsible for picking up the kids from school to start off with. Not a problem ....didn't forget a single one of them. I also had to make dinner. That is a little harder than it sounds when you have to keep an eye on the kids at the same time. But, I managed to grill up some steaks, cook some mixed vegetables and somehow I was able to have all the food done at the same time. Don't ask me how I did it it was purely luck. I had to get Luke off to his conformation lesson and feed Maddie and Kayla. To my surprise I nailed it....I even included all the food groups....yahoo for me. I cleaned up all the mess, gave Kayla a bath and took out the dogs. Being a mom is much harder than most men will give their wives credit for doing. I am so thankful Cindy does this so effortlessly and without any complaints. She lets me do my "guy" stuff and is very supportive of it. I wish everyone could be so lucky to have a wife like mine. But, she's taken so you can't have her!!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

No pain NO gain

Now that I have "eaten" my way through the holidays. I have come to the realization that I need some help in the "shape" department. I was able to look at some pictures of past Christmas's..........and I noticed that I was "growing" from year to year. Now I knew my pants were a little tighter lately , but I never had to worry about it before. Now I have to do something. Last week I joined a gym for the first time. Now let me tell you it was an eye opener. The next day every part of me hurt!!!! I thought all the years of chasing the kids around and being involved in the outdoors would keep me in shape. I was wrong!!!!! To be truthful , it felt good after the second day and I now "kinda" like going to the gym. I know I have to get back into shape, the girls aren't going to slow down at all, and I have to make sure that I stay as healthy as I can for their sake. I have gone every night since joining, either with Luke or Cindy. Cindy usually goes in the mornings after the kids are off to school if she has no other appointments. Luke and I have gone together for the past few nights ......it gives us a little "MAN" time together, Lord knows we need it sometimes!! We are seriously outnumbered at home. It also doesn't hurt to get him away from the t.v. and x-box for a while....................It is getting to be that time. I have to go get changed and go work out.....................and by the way ......the elliptical machines are pure EVIL :0) Oh well No pain No gain!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas

I thought I would post a picture of our Christmas.
The little ones loved opening their presents............and my presents for that matter.Although, Becca seemed to be having more fun with the packaging than with the actual presents themselves. Kayla was in total overload for a couple of hours before she finally slowed down enough to "PLAY" with her presents. Luke and Maddie were very surprised with the gifts they were given.........Maddie was overjoyed to have her "1st" cell phone. Don't worry it is a prepaid , so when she uses up her minutes for the month she will be forced back to using land lines. Luke was so excited to get anew pair of red Chuck Taylor's....we had to throw away his old ones. They were beginning to get that teenager aroma going on in them......nasty. All in all it was a great Christmas and one I will "remember" for ever.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tis' the Season

I know everyone is busy with all of the hustle and bustle of Christmas decorating and shopping for your loved ones. I know it can be an incredibly joyous ......or......stressful time for all, giving someone special that "perfect gift", or on the other hand not being able to afford or find that " perfect gift". I know it isn't the PC thing to do nowadays........but please take the time to remember and Celebrate the birth of the Lord... Jesus Christ. What a glorious gift The Father gave us, in sending his Son to be born as man , and to die for our sins. I look at my kids as "mine" , and they are truly blessings from God....but, they are not actually "my", children they are God's.....as we all are. So rather than wishing you would have received that I pod , or the newest cell phone , or whatever it is that you wished for. Remember that we have all been a gift much grander than we could ever imagine.... "For unto us a child is born....To us a child is given" Isaiah 9:6.

I know many people are going through some very tough and stressful times right now. People are losing jobs, their houses, and much more. But remember on Christmas day that God loves us all, and we are all his children. Remember that he sent his only Son here to be our savior........"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life" John 3:16.

Now if you ask me.....that is the ultimate Christmas Gift. I know it is human to want things, and I want things for myself as much as the next guy. I want my wife and kids to be happy and healthy. I want the same for my parents and friends. I want to make this Christmas better than last years. These are the normal things that a Dad wants. What I know, is that someday I will be with the Lord and live eternally with Him...................................and I know that Cindy and I will walk hand in hand with Jamie in Heaven.........................

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

BE THANKFUL

This was sent to me by my mom today, it was a forwarded e-mail that she received. It is a great story with a powerful message!!!

Read this and then reread it. Especially the last part... I walked into the grocery store not particularly interested in buying groceries. I wasn't hungry. The pain of losing my husband of 57 years was still too raw. And this grocery store held so many sweet memories. He often came with me and almost every time he'd pretend to go off and look for something special. I knew what he was up to. I'd always spot him walking down the aisle with the three yellow roses in his hands. He knew I loved yellow roses. With a heart filled with grief, I only wanted to buy my few items and leave, but even grocery shopping was different since he had passed on. Shopping for one took time, a little more thought than it had for two. Standing by the meat, I searched for the perfect small steak and remembered how he had loved his steak. Suddenly a woman came beside me. She was blond, slim and lovely in a soft green pantsuit. I watched as she picked up a large package of T-bones, dropped them in her basket.. hesitated, and then put them back. She turned to go and once again reached for the pack of steaks. She saw me watching her and she smiled. 'My husband loves T-bones, but honestly, at these prices, I don't know.' I swallowed the emotion down my throat and met her pale blue eyes. 'My husband passed away eight days ago,' I told her. Glancing at the package in her hands, I fought to control the tremble in my voice. 'Buy him the steaks. And cherish every moment you have together.' She shook her head and I saw the emotion in her eyes as she placed the package in her basket and wheeled away. I turned and pushed my cart across the length of the store to the dairy products. There I stood, trying to decide which size milk I should buy. A Quart, I finally decided and moved on to the ice cream. If nothing else, I could always fix myself an ice cream cone. I placed the ice cream in my cart and looked down the aisle toward the front. I saw first the green suit, then recognized the pretty lady coming towards me. In her arms she carried a package.On her face was the brightest smile! I had ever seen. I would swear a soft halo encircled her blond hair as she kept walking toward me, her eyes holding mine. As she came closer, I saw what she held and tears began misting in my eyes. 'These are for you,' she said and placed three beautiful long stemmed yellow roses in my arms. 'When you go through the line, they will know these are paid for.' She leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on my cheek, then smiled again. I wanted to tell her what she'd done, what the roses meant, but still unable to speak, I watched as she walked away as tears clouded my vision. I looked down at the beautiful roses nestled in the green tissue wrapping and found it almost unreal. How did she know? Suddenly the answer seemed so clear. I wasn't alone. Oh, you haven't forgotten me, have you? I whispered, with tears in my eyes. He was still with me, and she was his angel.

Everyday be thankful for what you have, and for who you are!!!!!

Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings.Thank you, Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf. Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long as possible. Thank you, Lord , that I can see. Many are blind. Even though I huddle in my bed and put off rising. Thank you,Lord, that I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bedridden. Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned, tempers are short, and my children are so loud. Thank you, Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely. Even though our breakfast table never looks like the picture in magazines and the menu is at times unbalanced. Thank you, Lord, for the food we have. There are many who are hungry. Even though the routine of my job often is monotonous. Thank you,Lord, for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no job.. Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day and wish my circumstances were not so modest. Thank you, Lord, for life. Oh ....and thanks mom, for the e-mail!!

Monday, November 17, 2008


I just thought I would share a couple of pics of Mekayla"s adoption, and her enjoying brunch afterward. What a great day for our family.






Sunday, November 16, 2008

I can see the finish line

It is hard to believe that in just 24 hours we will be in court to finalize our adoption of Kayla. When I sit and really think about where this journey has taken us, I am sometimes overwhelmed with emotion. We started this chapter in our life almost three years ago, thinking it would be a short "lap" around the track and we would finish the "race". Little did I realize the twist and turns , and huge ups and downs we would face. We were a family of 5 that decided to adopt "1" little girl. Not too long after beginning our "race" our family was changed forever. In what would be the equivalent of a three day weekend , our family was shattered and reduced to 4. The passing of Jamie was more than I could handle. Knowing that I would never see her smiling face or hear beautiful laugh, put me in the "pits" for quite a while. At that point I was ready to quit the "race", and just live as a family of 4. I did a lot of praying and searching, and asking God what he wanted us to do. The funny thing is , it was a little girl who used to be classmate of Jamie's that ultimately gave me direction. This little girl also has Angelman Syndrome , and one day when I visited Maddie at school for lunch and I saw Kaitlyn in the cafeteria eating her lunch. I walked over to say hello to her and her aid..............the problem was that her regular aid was not at school that day and different people were filling in. Kaitlyn looked so confused as to why they were not eating in the "normal" spot....she looked lost. By the time I got back home from visiting school I knew we had to continue on with our original plans. I knew I would always carry the pain of losing Jamie, but I also knew that we could help another child or two. I am not sure I could forgive myself if we did nothing. So, we got back out on the "track" and got back into the "race". Nine months ago we completed the halfway point when we finalized the adoption of Becca. Now we are just 24 hours away from finalizing with Kayla. I can see the finish line.......................What a "race" life can be. The thing is in most "races" it is your crew that decides whether you finish or not. I have to thank our parents, Lucas and Maddie, my co-workers and friends for helping us along the way..................I also have to thank Kaitlyn, without saying a single word she spoke volumes to me...........and ultimately I have to thank God.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Luke's 1st bow buck




Although Luke has been hunting with me for several years, and has bow hunted the past 3 he has harvested a couple of doe with his bow. This year Luke has taken another step in his success as a bow hunter. Luke did shoot a very nice buck 2 years ago with his shot gun, but this buck was very special it was his first with a bow. Being able to get close enough to any deer and harvest it with a bow is a success in itself, but being able to shoot a mature buck takes it to a totally different level. You have to make sure you do all of the little things to increase your odds to see a good buck, let alone to actually get a shot at one. We are blessed to be able to hunt in a great state that allows kids to pursue deer with archery equipment. Luke spent many many hours this year at 3-d shoots and in the backyard honing his shooting skills and knowing his limitations. It makes me very proud to see him succeed in something he loves to do so much. I am also very happy that I am able to expose him to the outdoors and to God's gifts that he has given us all. Hopefully I will have the same success Luke had later this year , if not, I am glad I was able to Share this moment with him..........1 on 1 ......father and son. Luke you rock!!!! If memories were pennies I would be a billionaire!!!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Searching deep inside "Outdoors"

Like I have mentioned in previous posts, I am an avid outdoors men. find a special peace and comfort spending as much time in the outdoors, spending time in God's creation as possible. It allows me a time to dissect the days and weeks events and putting them in perspective. I also spend a lot of this time asking God for direction and seeking answers to questions that I have about life, family , and relationships.Another reason I spend as much time as I can in the outdoors, is so I can have my children's undivided attention for at least a couple of hours. Luke and I spend a lot of father son time in the fall hunting for deer with our bows. Just in case you didn't already know it, deer hunting consists of sitting in a tree or ground blind for hours as quiet as possible, but Luke and I manage to carry on a lot of conversation "just very quietly". I try to talk to him about things that we wouldn't get the chance to talk about at home with Cindy and the girls, you know guy stuff. Sometimes though, I like to take the morning on my day off to just sit in the woods , watching the world wake up. It is a very peaceful time, the owls call, the birds start chirping, you can just hear in the distance a flock of geese getting ready fly off their roost to go feed, and for that little bit of time you feel recharged. I also spend time in the woods to get to know new people. You can learn a lot about person in a short time when you share camp with them. I was lucky enough to share an elk camp with a buddy of mine a few weeks ago. I met him a year ago when I was given the gift of a dream elk hunt. Although we did not have much success hunting elk a few weeks ago ,I had so much fun climbing the mountains with him , sharing camp with him,and getting to know him and his family better. Like I said before, I love it in the outdoors, just tonight I spent a couple of hours in my deer stand thinking of how much life has changed since I first hung that particular stand 3 years ago. I now have two new little girls that I love dearly . I also thought of Jamie, which I do a lot. This particular place where I hunt is a very special place to me. It is place that brought Jamie so much joy riding horses, and brings back so many of the good memories that I hold so dear. It is a place that makes me feel a little closer to her , in our special place. One of the biggest reasons I love the outdoors is that it gives me a peaceful quiet place to search deep inside myself ,to make sure that I am being the dad and husband that I should be for my family.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My better half

I have taken the time to write about myself and my kids. But, I have not taken the time to write about my wife until now. Meeting Cindy was meant to be. I had just graduated from school the summer before and I took some time to myself to visit family members in Iowa I had not seen in a while. I helped my uncles build houses and spent much of my free time being a boneheaded bachelor. When I met Cindy all that changed, we spent as much time together as we could, heck we even worked together for about a year. I knew shortly after we started dating that she was THE ONE. I saw the kindness in her eyes and the love that filled her heart. Nobody ever made me feel the way she still makes me feel inside. She is my best friend, a great mommy and a much stronger person than many people will ever know. Cindy is what makes our life work day to day. She takes such great care of the kids, me, the house , and just about anything else that needs taken care of. I honestly don't know how she does it all in a single day. AMAZING. I have always envisioned myself as being the stereotypical husband , and dad. Being the strong one when everyone else needed help, but Cindy has shown me who the strong one truly is. She is one of the major reasons our family pulled through the hard days following our loss of Jamie. She still continues to help all of us along when we need a little extra help. I know all of the statistics ....married couples of a disabled child are 2 times more likely to divorce than those of normal children, and parents who lose a child are 2-3 times more likely to divorce than those that have not lost a child. Truthfully I don't think I could survive one day without her in my life, she is my soul mate, my wife, the mother to my kids, and the best friend I will ever have. There is a verse from the song that played at our wedding that still hold true today. "It's amazing how you can speak right to my heart, without saying a word you can light up the dark" There are so many extra little things she does for me all the time, knowing it brings me happiness. And, without any words she helped me bring me out of a very sad place that I was in a couple of years ago. Just knowing that she was there by my side let me know that I didn't have to try to handle it alone. Cindy is always there for other people, and never complains, she just does what needs to be done. I try every day to be just a little bit more like her. She is an amazing person, and I am so thankful that she chose me to share a LIFE with her. I know I tell you every night before we go to bed , and every morning when I leave for work that I LOVE YOU, but I plan on spending the rest of my life falling in love with you all over again every day.
I love you Cindy!!!!!!
your Jay

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where are all the flags?

On most days I listen to the radio at work, sometimes its sports talk radio. Sometimes I listen to Jim Rome and Dan Patrick. On other days I listen to Glenn Beck or whatever I'm in the mood for that day. You see it gets pretty boring driving around all day by yourself, so the radio is always on. But, today was one of those days when I spent a majority of the day with the radio silent.
Today, I spent much of the day remembering where I was , what I was doing , and what life was like 7 years ago . On that day the U.S. was attacked and many innocent Americans lost their lives. On that day I was at work ,actually I was on break when Cindy called me and told me that a plane had crashed into one of the towers. Shortly after her first call she called again and told me that a second plane flew into the other tower and a plane had crashed into the pentagon. Many of us at work had our radios on and listened in horror when we were told that the first of the two towers had fallen. Before the attack, our nation was still divided over an initial behind your name, D for democrat , or R for republican. During that day my heart was breaking, for all the people wondering if their mom, dad, grandparent, son , or daughter was OK , or if they were among the victims. For lunch I went to a church on my route to pray for those families in their time of agony and despair. I also prayed for our leaders to do what is right and not to turn this into a political opportunity. I remember talking to more people that day , people I saw everyday on my route , but never had a chance to visit with. That afternoon I started noticing something. I turned on the radio and a couple of competing local stations were broadcasting together out of the same studio. Another thing I noticed was the pain in others eyes, they were feeling some of the same things I was feeling. What stood out to me most of all was , People started putting out their flags. By the time I was done working for the day , I started noticing flags everywhere. Even though I was feeling terrible for the families , the sight of Old Glory flying everywhere gave me a little piece. The R or the D behind your name was not important, because we were all Americans. That feeling resonated for weeks and months afterwards. The thought that ran through my mind, especially today on the 7 years anniversary was, "Where are all the Flags". I know we haven't forgotten, and we are all still Americans, so" Where are all the Flags"? I know all of our lives have changed since that day, and over the years that followed, but , we need to remember what happened to our fellow citizens, our families, and our country on this day 9-11-01.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reflecting and Sharing

I decided to do something a little different tonight. I try to share as much of Jamie as I can with others, but I usually don't show too many people her pictures now. I think it makes some people feel uncomfortable, especially if I am there with them. This time of year is much tougher than most of the rest of the year, because this Saturday would have been Jamie's 9th birthday , and in a month from Saturday will mark two years since she went to be with the Lord. Now , I think one of the best ways I can share , is to show a couple pictures of her. The above picture is of Jamie's make-a-wish to Disney. What a fantastic time!!! I am so glad she was able to experience such a great trip. I am also very happy that my mom came along with us on the trip.



These two pictures are probably two of my favorite. Probably, because they are ones of myself with her. The above left is of Jamie riding her favorite horse Magnum. Riding horses was one of the highlights of Jamie's week. I loved watching her ride.















The other three pictures are little moments in time that I cherish. Another of her at Disney, her favorite ride at the mall, and a picture of Jamie sleeping in my chair on the last Christmas she was with us. I titled this post "Reflecting and Sharing" , first to share a little of Jamie with others and most of all to reflect back on some of my favorite memories with her. Like I have said before , she brought out the best in every ones lives that she touched, that I believe is one of the gifts God gave us through Jamie, and for that I will be eternally grateful.
The following message was sent to me by my mom today , it is so true.
'To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did' When God takes something from your grasp, He's not punishing you, but merely opening your hands to receive . 'The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.'

Monday, July 28, 2008

The mayonnaise jar

This is really cool e-mail I recieved from the girls' teacher the other day. It speaks volumes about how to approach life and what is MOST important.


When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 Hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full..

They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full.

The students responded with a unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand.

The students laughed.

'Now,' said the professor, as the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things - God, family, children, health, friends, and Favorite passions--things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, house, and car.

The sand is everything else -- the small stuff.

'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued, 'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.

The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

So... Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play With your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. 'Take care of the golf balls first -- the things that Really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled. 'I'm glad you asked'. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.'

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Keeping focus with the kids


As I have stated before I am an avid outdoors man, and enjoy all the blessings God has given us in the outdoors. I am passionate about sharing it with the kids and enjoying the outdoor lifestyle with them.
So far in my other posts I have explained how our lives have changed since we lost Jamie, and how much different our lives are now with the Becca and Kayla. Another major focus of ours is on our two other kids , Luke and Maddie. We try the best we can to spread ourselves out evenly to all the kids. Sometimes that is a lot harder than it sounds. Luke and Maddie are very unselfish when it comes to Becca and Kayla's "extra needs" and the time it takes away from plans that we might have had.
The one thing that Luke ,Maddie , and myself enjoy doing together is shooting our bows. It something anyone can do, you don't have to be 6'2" and 185lbs. to excel at it. It takes practice don't get me wrong , but we manage to do as much of that as possible. It also requires focus, you have to know your distance from the target, if there is any wind to compensate for , your personal limits,you have to remember good form, and be aware of your surroundings and any other archers.

Both of the kids are very good shots with there bows. I take all the credit for that..........RIGHT :)
Although I have helped them to set up there bows and have "coached " them on the basics of shooting, they have practiced and practiced and practiced to become better shooters. There have been numerous times that we have shot at 3-d competitions , and well.........lets just say I finished 3rd out of the three of us. They seem to really enjoy beating there old man, especially Luke . His chest pumps out a little bit , and he likes to rub it in a little. Don't get me wrong I think it is great, but I don't like losing either. So when I get a chance to rub it in on him I take it. I cherish that time we have together, because I know someday in the not so distant future that they will be all grown up and leave the nest. "Our time" gives me a great opportunity to talk to them about life and explain to them the important things they need to strive for. Don't worry I am not going to try to explain how life is like shooting a bow or anything, but as a parent it is very important to me to keep my focus on the kids. With so many things out there these days do distract and tempt them it is my responsibility to make sure they know the direction they want their life to take.

The above pictures are of us shooting in the back yard, the last is of the target we were shooting. I hope they will always remember the hours we spent "flinging " arrows in the back yard. I also pray that as they grow up they also remember some of the talks we had , and some of the "life lessons" we talked about. I know as a dad I will be giving them money for school, money for cars, money for weddings, etc., but the talks and times Luke, Maddie , and I share are the most valuable things I will ever be able to give them.




Monday, June 30, 2008

Five minutes after leaving the water park

Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z Z z z z z z z z z z z z z z

My Little Mermaids

This week since I had a couple of vacation days to use, we decided to take the kids to a water park. Let me tell you it went over with a huge splash:0) The girls were in sensory overload for the first half hour we were there. If you did not already know, Angelman children are very , very ,very fascinated by water. The picture above is of Becca , Kayla ,and I in the wave pool. I am not sure what was harder, keeping the three of us upright or trying to keep the girls from trying to drink the pool dry. I know for a fact I had as much if not more fun than they did.
This is Becca and I on one of the smaller water slides. We only made a couple dozen trips down the slide before I had to cut her off. To be honest I was having a lot of fun ,but I don't think my trunks could bury themselves any farther up my backside at that point. There were some larger slides at the park, but the girls were a little bit too small to ride them. The fact that I do not "love" heights kept me from trying to talk the attendants in to making an exception.

All in all, the day went way better than expected. The girls had a ton of fun, Luke and Maddie got to run wild,and Cindy and I got some much needed sun!! I am so glad we decided to go, I am not sure how many things like this Becca has ever done before. I know Kayla has experienced a lot of this kind of stuff, but if I didn't know better, the way Becca reacted, I would have thought this was her first time. It felt great splashing around the park with my two little mermaids. The skies were blue, the water was cold, and it was in the mid 80's , what a PERFECT day!! It is a memory I will cherish.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day

This year Father's Day was a little different than I had expected. I spent most of the day trying to find new ways to break the lawn mower. I broke a belt , a tie rod end, and a battery cable. It was the longest day of mowing I can ever remember! The day was like two sides of a coin. It landed on heads and I thought of how Becca and Kayla will always have a DAD now. I think of how tough the two girls lives were when they were very little. Each day now is filled with laughter and joy, and most of all love from a mommy and a daddy. It makes me very proud to know that we are making a big difference in their lives, and to see how much progress they have made, especially Becca. Then the coin flips to tales and I think of how much i miss Jamie, and the light she shined on my life. Some wounds time will never heal, and it shouldn't. I am thankful that the memories I have of her are so crisp and clear. We have a collage in our living that Maddie made for us after Jamie passed away, I stop in front of it everyday and relive the moments of each picture in my head. Looking back, my lord we had a lot of fun. Then the coin flips back to heads and I also think of my step-dad and how much of a difference he has made in my life. He took the time and energy to raise four boys as his own. To say he is my best friend would be a huge understatement. Dad is the one person I can go to about problems I have and he listens . He is my hunting buddy, my friend , the grand father to my kids, and most of all my DAD. I love you pop!! Now most people look at Father's Day as a holiday to thank your dad.........I look at it as a day to thank GOD for giving you the GIFT of being a father and all the memories that come with it!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Luke, Becca, and Polly at the dog show


I thought I would take the time to brag a little bit !! On Saturday Luke competed in a dog show with Polly, our Schnoodle. Polly was donated to the girls to to become a service dog and is doing awesome with the girls. Polly is 6 months old right now and has to wait until she is a year old to qualify through therapy dogs international. I have no doubt that she will pass with flying colors. Luke has been taking her to 4-h classes for agility, showmanship, and obedience. The kids have been going to 4-h with our other dogs for the past couple years and really enjoy it. On Saturday Polly competed in all three events and finished fourth in showmanship, sixth in agility , and won first place in her division for obedience. She and Luke really did an awesome job. The crowds at the dog show enjoyed watching her, because she is such a happy dog and bounced around all over the place introducing herself to anyone that stopped to pet her. I would highly recommend this breed to anyone , especially those seeking a dog for service ,therapy, or as a family pet.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Crazy week

To say this has been a crazy week is an understatement! It started about a week or so when Becca was just finishing up her medicine for Mono. Cindy and I noticed another spot on her backside so we took her to the E.R. and they were pretty sure she had MRSA again. Luckily Cindy noticed it so early and we were able to get her on the meds she needed and we are pretty sure we treated it before it was able to progress. On Tuesday Luke had to go to the clinic to get a cast for his right arm.Oh ya I forgot to mention that he broke his arm last week while roller skating. While we were at the clinic, the receptionist told me that we were there a day early and that the appointment was for wednesday. Now if you can visualize it, I am standing there with Becca on one arm and Luke standing next to me with a sling on , and this lady is trying to convince me that Cindy had messed up the appointment. I knew that Cindy had made the appointment for my day off, and she was in Des moines having an 8 hour EEG done on Kayla. I just walked out of the clinic in total frustration, but not for long, the more I thought about it the more it bothered me that someone was pushing the blame onto my wife. Needless to say I marched back into the Dr.'s office and explained to the receptionist and to anyone that was within earshot that THEY were the ones that had messed up. Somehow they were able to squeeze us in and Luke now has his first and hopefully his last cast. Last night I was awake until about 2:00 a.m. because we were under tornado warnings and watches. That weather really freaks me out, I don't know why. This morning Becca woke up with 103 fever , so back to te doctor we went. Now she has strep, we opted for the shot rather than 10 days of antibiotics. The doctor told us that it is not uncommon for strep to follow Mono. It looks like we are in for another wild night of weather so I will probably be up late again, but things could be much worse mant people in northern Iowa lost there homes last week because of a tornado. It was an f-5 that almost leveled the entire town of Parkersburg. Our prayers go to all the families affected.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I Will Always Remember

This is the 2ND memorial day since my wife and I lost Jamie. The first was very difficult for me and I just wanted it to come and go as fast as possible. I guess the saying time heals all wounds is partially true. Although I still have some tough days when I think of Jamie, they are a little more spread out than they were a year ago. I am not a big believer in coincidence, I think it is just Gods way of reminding us of his glory. This weekend Luke and Maddie and I spent all day Saturday at a traditional archery shoot in Ames Iowa, and had a great time. On Sunday we spent most of the day just hanging out at home goofing around with the girls. Luke turned on the t.v. and told me that my show was on. What I mean by "my show" is that 8 months ago I was taken on a dream hunt for Colorado elk on a show called Escape to the Wild. I was given this hunt because my wife had entered me into a contest about a year ago. The show wasn't just another show about hunting , it gave people an inside view of what my family and I had gone through just a few months earlier when we lost Jamie. To say the show was on memorial weekend is a coincidence.......I don't think so! It made me reflect on many things , like the hunt and the great time I had in Colorado. It also reminded of how I could not wait to get off work before, because I knew when I got home Jamie thought I was the greatest person in the world............I also remember the game we would play every morning , I would sit on my bed and get dressed for work and she would crawl in and "help". What I mean by help is she would take whatever article of clothing I laid on the bed and grab it and crawl off laughing as fast as she could. I was a little late to work several times because I didn't want the game to end either. I can still hear her infectious laugh and see her great big smile. These are a few things I will always remember. Today we pretty much lounged around the house watching t.v. and played. Cindy did her normal routine of housework and giving Becca her meds.............I can remember almost like it was yesterday , watching Cindy taking care of Jamie in the same way. She is the MOST remarkable women I have ever met, and I am so thankful to have her in my life. Although, I don't think there are any words I could say to her to describe how much she means to me , and how much I love her. She was like a beacon of light bringing me out of a very dark place I was in a year and a half ago. Don't get me wrong I still have my days when I become overwhelmed with emotion when I think of Jamie, but most of my memories are happy ones, like our trip to Disney World and the great time she had riding the roller coasters, and playing in grandma's sink at the hotel. Also I remember our camping trips and how much fun we would have staying up late around the camp fire, and fishing at the lake [Jamie gave the fish a kiss and clamped down with her lips and wouldn't let go]. These are the times I remember the most and hold onto . I try not to look back on her struggles, hospital stays, her infections , and I am sure her pain. I will always remember how much light she shined on our4 lives and how much of an impact she made on so many peoples lives. Jamie is a big reason why I am the husband and dad I am today, the rest of the credit I give to God. I know my life was changed forever on that early Saturday morning in September of 06 , adn now with the addition of two new children and Luke and Maddie getting older, I still look back on the road Cindy and I have travelled and I am thankful to God for giving us the precious gift of seven wonderful years with Jamie that I Will Always Remember. Jamie, daddy loves you.