Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Meet Jenna

Last week we had the opportunity to get to know a sweet girl named Jenna. Okay, we didn't actually meet Jenna, we met Jenna's mom. Well, no, we didn't actually meet Jenna's mom, but we learned a lot about Jenna and her family even though we didn't meet them. Actually, we never saw Jenna. Here, let me take you back....Cue wonky music and a spiral of rainbows taking you back in time.....

Last week was not stellar for the Silva's. We woke up Sunday to a massive ant invasion in our lovely apartment kitchen. We also found out the the sellers of the house we want to buy were going to fix exactly nothing that came up on our inspection report. I have gotten lost a bazillion times in this town. By lost, I mean "45 minutes out of my way with two kids in the car" lost. We didn't have health insurance yet despite Steve working on the figures for the last month. All of those things among others made for a not so great week. The newness of KC had started to wear off. The smallness of our apartment had started to wear us down. And none of us had anything to wear because our washer doesn't like to perform on command. Ha! Get it?! I used "wear" in all of those sentences.

Stick with me here folks, I'm in a bit of a punchy mood today...laugh or's a teeter totter right now. I could go either way.

So, I loaded the kids into van on Wednesday and took them on an adventure to Deanna Rose. This farmstead actually holds some pretty good memories for me. It's changed some since the last time I was there. Colin and Cam had both been to Deanna Rose as babies. Of course, they don't remember, but the day after I was let off of bed rest while pregnant with Cam, I went down the slide with Colin at Deanna Rose. An hour after that, I was in labor. Kind of a neat memory, don't ya think?

Fast forward to our day...we're at Deanna Rose and my boys want to do the "Pan for Gems" feature. You buy a bag of sand/rock mixture. Sift it through the sleuth of water and find your treasure trove of gems and minerals. My boys are Colorado rock crazy boys so this was right up their alley. Since we didn't have to pay to get into Deanna Rose (it's free during the week) I decided to spring the $9 for the rocks. We walked up to pay and a woman was walking away without anything in her hands.

"Now what does all of this have to do with a girl named Jenna?" You might ask yourself. The woman that just walked away was Jenna's mom. She had just paid for the next two kids that came up to buy a bag of rocks. That was us! We were the lucky winners! Seriously, this type of stuff never happens to us. After the the kind of week that we had...what a blessing. How kind. How thoughtful.

But wait, it gets better. I hollered, "Thank you" to Jenna's mom as she walked away. She gave me a quick wave without even turning around. So off we went to find our gems. About 3 minutes later...the woman walked back to the gem mining area and asked if she could take a picture of the boys and post it on Facebook. I said sure, although I thought maybe it was a bit strange. I told her that her generosity touched us because we had just moved here and had been through a pretty rotten week.

She handed me a little slip of paper with some chocolates taped to the back. After reading that little slip of paper, I got schooled on what a bad week looks like. I looked up with tears in my eyes as Jenna's mom said, 'My daughter, Jenna can't come to do these things right now but it's so nice to see others enjoying the day." After that, she practically skipped off with a smile on her face and joy in her heart. What a woman! What a mom! What a graciously kind, thoughtful, God-filled woman.

Here is what the note said:

1st Annual Jenna's Day of Kindness
Jenna was diagnosed with leukemia at 2.5 years old on August 15, 2011. Each year on August 15th, Jenna's family and friends will perform random acts of kindness to celebrate the kindness shown to her family in the months after her diagnosis.

Share your kind act or how a kind act affected you :
 Jenna's parents plan to compile a book to give Jenna on her 16th birthday.

I just got schooled on "hard days and bad weeks". Ugh. After sobbing uncontrollably, I took the time to explain to the boys what had just happened. They seemed pretty sensitive to the fact that our hard days were nothing compared to what this girl was going through. This little girl that we didn't even know had cancer. Her mom was out on the anniversary of her diagnosis spreading joy and smiles (literally). 

We decided right then that we would pay it forward. I have been waiting for the right opportunity and one just popped into my email in box. I got a note from the school saying that they were looking for volunteers for Harvesters (a local food bank packing warehouse). You can be as young as 6 to volunteer with a parent. Guess who just signed us up? 

Jenna, it was so nice to meet you. I hope our paths cross again someday. We will be praying for you and for your family. You have no idea how you have touched our lives through your kindness.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly - The First Day of School

Today is the first day of school for my boys in Kansas. They did a little bit of grunching and complaining about not wanting to go to school, but they would have done that no matter where we lived. Let's face it, they have the most fun mom in the entire world and they want to spend days on end with me at home because I am so fabulous. No. Not really. They wanted to play video games and watch tv all day.

So, after eating breakfast and requesting that the kids go in and put on school clothes, Colin comes out with his 1st grade tie dyed shirt. This may not seem like a big deal to anyone else but me. I know why he chose that shirt. I didn't say a word for fear that we would both end up in sobbing tears before the morning was over. To be honest, I was surprised that Cam did not go back into his closet and grab the same shirt.

Somehow, even though we were all up by 7am and school didn't start until 8:35, we were still late. We couldn't find a parking spot, didn't really know where we were allowed to park and didn't realize that we had to sign in at the office to walk the kids into school.

I had told the kids that I would meet them after school at the front bench but then realized that the paperwork I filled out before school began practically screamed at me that if the kids were going home any other way than the one way indicated, that I had to write a note to the teacher (no email, no phone call...a handwritten note). I put them down as "car riders" on their forms because I am hoping at some point that they will use the drive line. Until we are used to things, I will be walking up to the building to get them so it just dawned on me that I should have put "walkers" instead. This is not a school that bends the rules. Great. We had just discussed what "after school" would look like for them. I know their teacher is not going to let them do what we discussed. As we walked into Colin's class, the pledge started. Super. He was nervous at his desk, didn't understand the directions on his morning page (even though they were very simple). I could tell by the catch in his breath that he was two seconds away from panic. I read the directions, gave him a quick run down of "do whatever your teacher tells you after school and I will just come and find you", a kiss on the cheek and I was out.

Cam's turn...we walked into a silent classroom with the teacher giving instructions. No, not the teacher. The sub he will have until at least Monday because the teacher had a family emergency. We haven't met the teacher yet. Cam was the last kid in class. I knew walking in there that he was not going to have time to finish his color page since we were late. I know the ripple effect that not finishing his color page is going to have on him.

A quick kiss and hug as the panic look set in on his face too.

I hated leaving my boys like this today. Mindless errands are going to fill my day until 3:00pm upon which I am going to arrive ridiculously early at school for the 3:40pm dismissal. Only 5 more hours to go.

This picture pretty much sums everything up. While everyone else in the world is posting the most adorable pictures of their smiling sweet children on their first day of school, here are my boys. "Nervous, anxious, tired, grumpy, late to the first day of school boys".

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wrapping Up

Many of you were probably left wondering why the Silva's weren't around much over our last three weeks in Colorado. Considering this whole process happened pretty quickly, it seemed that we already had a lot planned and a lot on our summer list of things to do that just could not be overlooked. So like any sane family, in the midst of some serious house cleaning and packing, we took as much time as we could out of our busy lives to have some fun. Here's where we spent our time in the month of July.

July 4th didn't really go off with a bang since there were no fireworks, but we did celebrate with some great friends. We didn't go see any of the fireworks in the area. Next year is sure to be different in Kansas!

As planned, we still celebrated my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary in Crested Butte. I still have to blog about our time there. Great memories! But here are a few pictures from our trip. It amazes me to know so many native Coloradans that have not been to Crested Butte. Put this on your bucket list people! It's one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

This is a picture of the boys at the base of Lost Lake. I can't even count how many times I have been to this lake. The air is peaceful, the water is calm and the view is breath taking. So neat to share this experience with my boys!

The hike up to the beaver dam was short and uneventful. I really think the kids could have spent hours at this spot. I know they get tired of the "when I was a kid" stories but I think this time they believed me when I said this one of my favorite places in the whole entire world.

We were blessed to see a double rainbow over Mt. Crested Butte. In all my years visiting, I have never seen anything like this. Double rainbows are supposed to bring good luck. Guess the fact that 22 people (for the most part) got along in one house over a 3 day time period was about all the luck we could ask for. :-)

As much as I hate horse back riding, the view was enough to make up for my dislike of riding. You just can't help but stare in wonder at all the amazing mountains in this area. We rode up part of Snodgrass Mountain. We saw a small deer, lots of bear prints and some amazing wildflowers.

The boys really enjoyed playing at Slate Creek too. Again, put this on your bucket list. This is an easy flowing river with skipping rocks to the hearts content. You will bring home a bucketful of rocks because your kids will just think they are all so amazing. Be prepared for the cold water and the wet clothes.

This was what my kids waited for all summer. We kept promising them that if they could just give us three solid days to get the house ready to put on the market, we would take them to Elitch's. We had a great time. I think it lived up to their expectations.

Colin was drenched from the water ride. Ironically, he wanted to go again and again. Thanks Aunt Roxanne for riding with the boys when mom and dad wouldn't.

Cam looking a bit like a drowned rat. His goal was to get as wet as possible. We had to ring out his clothes. Pretty sure he accomplished his goal.

Baseball practice doesn't stop just because you are moving. Colin's team was counting on him so he finished out the season with his team. A lot of his team mates were in his class at school so this last practice was a little tough on all of us.

What better way to spend an evening than with a Christmas squirrel and a Forest Owl. Saying goodbye to some very good friends (and maybe future daughter-in-laws if we play our cards right). I think I might even miss these two cutie pies more than Colin and Cam.

The last baseball game of the season. Colin played a rock star game. He made all three outs in the third inning. Caught a fly ball and then tagged the return runner out at second. Then fielded the next ball for an out at first base. Rock star!

Who knew this lake even existed?! Cam went to a birthday party the last weekend that we were in town. It was a private lake in a small neighborhood. We spent nearly 6 hours out there. The fish were calm enough to catch with your hands!

Spending our last day in Colorado with great friends. One last trip to the zoo. Smiles all around!

Yes, these two look like they could be twins. Two peas in a pod and I tell you these two together mean trouble!

Pictures not added: Water World - we had a great day there too but I was too scared to get out my camera for fear of all the water splashing and screaming going on.

Up next, our adventures in KC! You will be surprised at all of the things we have already done. Or, if you know me well, you won't be surprised at all!

Sunday, August 12, 2012


As we settle in here in KC, I am feeling a little homesick for Colorado. We have several weeks yet to wait until we are in our new house. Each day I wonder how we will ever make this new house our "home". We still don't quite feel like Kansans even though we are both from Kansas and at this point, we have lived more years in Kansas than we have in Colorado. So, here is my "Ode to Our Home in Colorado".

Goodbye playroom that looks so ridiculously clean. We spent many hours playing in here but you never looked quite like this. The wii, the Legos, the race tracks, the forts, the crafts. 

Goodbye family room. This room holds so many wonderful memories. We celebrated Colin's 3rd birthday here just shortly after we moved to Erie. Easter mornings were filled with delighted boys digging through their candy baskets. Santa came down that chimney six years in a row despite the fact that my boys were sometimes obnoxious. Although the furniture changed a bit over the years, this is the room where I rocked my sweet boys, bandaged their cuts, checked their fevers and nursed a broken arm, two sets of stitches and one set of staples. This is the family room where we had 312 Friday Family Fun Nights. So many wonderful memories of family gathering for holidays or just for no reason at all. This is the room I will miss the most.

Goodbye Breakfast Nook. You served us well. We prayed over our meals, watched the birds and did our homework in this room. Many mornings we were able to wave good morning to our neighbors in our pajamas and bath robes. We replaced the screen on that well used sliding door once and probably should have replaced it again from wear before we moved. Birthday cakes were celebrated on this table. Colin had years 3-8. Cam had years 2-6. I won't share mine or Steve's but let's just say we aged a bit.

Goodbye Formal Family room. I can't really say that I will miss you except for the fact that you were the only clean room in the house most days.

Goodbye Kitchen. While I did not love you, I did spend a lot of time here. My new appliances were wonderful and the old appliances were never missed. However, I didn't have a lot of time to enjoy the newness. We were just on the verge of remodeling the kitchen and it would have looked amazing when we were finished. In this kitchen there were countless loaves of banana bread and pumpkin bread prepared. It only took me about 2 years to perfect the high altitude recipes. I was so proud of myself. This is the room were everyone gathered during a party. If I remember correctly, our record was 37 people in the house for a gathering. You served us well. Again, not since the day we moved in has the kitchen looked this clean. But clean or messy, the great memories are still the same. This is where the streamers were hung for Birthdays. This is where the cookies were baked for school parties and where many sets of dirt covered hands were washed before dinner.

Colin's room. I know. Hard to recognize. I remember when he was 3 years old and taking naps in this room. I would lay down with him (only for a minute) and fall sound asleep in his bed with him. Trains and legos were built here. Many nights I slept on his floor when he was sick or scared. Many nights of Steve reading bedtime stories and saying prayers. I used to go into Colin's room when I needed to feel peace. Even in all of its clutter, his room just felt peaceful to me. This room calmed me. I think it calmed him too.

Cam's room went through a serious transformation from his nursery to his big kid room. Gone are his sweet Noah's Ark animals. Gone are the hints of pastel colors. This room was Cam through and through. We started with a crib in this room. Cam was just 15 months old when we moved into this house. I still remember crying when we took out the crib and rocking chair from this room. My sweet baby Cam. No longer a baby but he still lets me rock him once in awhile. This room was filled with trinkets, change and a zillion things in between.

Steve spent two entire weeks painting these Batman Lego characters on Cam's walls. Cam has requested a rain forest and Arctic theme in his next room. Good luck Steve.

Goodbye Bedroom. Isn't it ironic that although I wanted this lovely reading chair in my bedroom the entire time we lived in this house, it was only placed there for staging the house for selling? We had a computer desk in this bay window the entire time we lived there. But doesn't this chair look great? I would have loved to sit with my coffee and read each morning. It never happened but it sure looks inviting now.

Ah, the basement. The glorious basement. This was supposed to be the space where we all hung out, watched movies, played board games, held poker nights....Instead it was the place that was wwwaaayyy cold in the summer time and served as a wonderful guest area for anyone to come and stay overnight. It served its purpose well enough even if we didn't use it everyday. It was an awesome space and probably sold our house for us.

The basement would not be complete without the bar. Behind those cabinets there are about 14 bottles of liquor..none of them full. Enough said.

Goodbye backyard. Although small, you were mighty. You took a beating from my two boys and anyone else that trampled on your grounds. Often there were four children and at least one dog running back and forth. Many dinners were served out here. Many beers were consumed out here. Many smores were made out here. Many laughs were heard out here. Although I could not grow a garden worth a darn in the yard because of all of the trees, I still loved this back yard. The boys had outgrown the space but when you have great neighbors that share their yard too, it became all the space we needed.

Goodbye Cottonwood trees. You won't be missed at all. We do have trees in our new yard. However, they are not Cottonwood trees. They are not close to the house and there will not be nearly as many leaves to rake this fall. Yippee!

And the most difficult of all....goodbye neighbors. That gate between the fences....we had to fix three times in the five years that it was used. We installed it a year after we moved in. That trampoline was a magnificent signal that someone was outside and ready to play. When those blinds opened in the morning I knew I could tell my kids, "The Lee's are awake. Let's give them a few minutes to get up and around before we bombard them with a phone call for a play date". Many beers were shared over this fence. Many stories were shared in laughter and love. Tears were cried. Hugs were given. Celebrations were cheered. I get more homesick looking at this house than I do looking at my own. Knowing the character of people that live here...we know those friends will be unmatched.

 Goodbye blue house on the corner with the trees and the playhouse in the back yard across from the dirt ball fields (that's how we would describe our house to anyone that needed directions to our place). Goodbye block parties in Wiggett. Goodbye Santa that comes by on the firetruck each Christmas. Goodbye Halloween nights that surpassed all others. Goodbye impromptu walks with neighbors and play dates with friends. Goodbye Erie. You will be missed.