Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saying goodbye to Shaun...for now.

A childhood friend of mine passed away last weekend. He had cystic fibrosis so it wasn't an incredible shock yet I guess I never thought that it would happen before either of us turned 30. We haven't kept in touch much for several years (I guess that is what happens when you marry and move to a different continent!) but he was so much a part of my childhood, teenage years and after. I even lived with Shaun and his mom Mary for a summer after I completed a year at Bryan college! So many memories, I can't even describe what I'm feeling now. It's like the "good ol' days" are officially over. Really so much of what I'm feeling is all about me because the truth is, Shaun is sitting at the feet of our Savior! His pain has ended (and his 28 years contained a lot of suffering) and if there was a chance he could feel sadness at this moment it would be pity for us wishing that he were still here! What silly, silly people we are is what I'm guessing he would say.

Missing his funeral is absolutely killing me (it was Thursday). I've never wanted to be back home so badly! Which kind of surprises me. I guess I'd really like to grieve with others who knew Shaun and had him as a part of their life as well. To be with people who know what he contributed to this world and what earth is missing now that he's gone. Perhaps that's normal, I'm not sure. Truth is, I've been spared so much suffering that I've never had to deal with a death of someone close to me before.

Honestly I didn't want to write a sad post about how miserable I'm feeling knowing that I'll have to live the rest of my earthly life without a good friend! But more about some of the great memories that I do have of Shaun (and there are a lot of them!)

All of my childhood pictures are stored away in TN so the only picture I have of us is one that my mom sent me last week (I think she included it on a slideshow or something at the funeral....lucky me:-)

This was taken right before our "Nerd Night" at youth group (which was led by my parents). Shaun is the one pictured on the far right. I realize that this is a pretty scary picture of myself but for lack of a different option...

And really that picture symbolizes so much of who Shaun was. I haven't met many people who seemed so unconcered by what other people thought of him and he definitely wasn't afraid to be himself.

Many of my memories are of times when Shaun was in the hospital and I was able to go visit for a morning or afternoon. Of course I was only allowed to go when he wasn't in a lot of pain so growing up I know I didn't comprehend how much he suffered. To be completely honest I was sometimes jealous of the amount of attention he received (perhaps being the oldest of 9 had something to do with that:-) and even prayed a time or two for some illness that would stick me in the hospital. Then Shaun could come see ME, I could introduce HIM to the nurses and we could play whatever Nintendo game I wanted to play in the rec room (on the pediatrics floor.) As I grew older it became more apparent to me how much he and Mary experienced on a daily basis. Now that I'm a mom I truly can't comprehend what it would be like to watch my child be in almost constant pain and not be able to do much to relieve that pain. Nobody could have been a better mom than Mary was to him!

So, one of my memories that took place in a hospital was when Shaun had this great idea to have some fun with the medical tape (the clear stuff.) We cut tiny strips and then made wrinkles in our faces and stuck the tape over them. We did this to our entire face creating wrinkles and indentions. I cannot tell you how hilarious it looked! I really wish I had a picture of it. We decided to walk through the pediatric ward showing off our new faces to the hospital staff but not before blowing up rubber gloves (not tying them off) and then stretching them over the end of our shoes (so that it looked like we had webbed feet.) I think I laughed too hard to notice if the nurses laughed or not!

Then one time we went to the rec room, probably to play Nintendo. Well, I sat down in a big plastic chair. You know, the kind that dip down in the middle? Unfortunately some child had decided to relieve himself/herself in that exact chair (with 15 or more in the room) so I stood up with somebody else's pee running down my legs. I know, it was so gross. And even though I didn't think it was too funny at the time seeing Shaun laugh at me as we walked back to his room made it a memory I'll never forget. He was kind enough to lend me a pair of his jean shorts though, so perhaps that made up for his uncontrolled laughter.

This post would end up being way too long if I wrote down half of the memories I have of Shaun so I'll limit to just a few more from when we were older.

When I lived with Shaun and Mary for a summer he spent a lot of time showing me different things related to technology. Lots of stuff on the computer that I totally didn't understand (he was amazing with computers!) He was the first one to show me what a "DVD" was...I was so impressed. I don't remember how long he spent explaining and showing me on the tv how it worked with the menu, etc but I do remember asking tons of a questions! I was in awe. I think he enjoyed teaching somebody as naive as myself:-) And a lot of the times we hung out took place late at night when he couldn't sleep. Now that I'm older and have experienced mild sleep deprivation I can only now begin to understand what he experienced night after night! And on many of those nights we spent a lot of time watching the QVC shopping network. I had always wondered who watched those things. Shaun got a kick out of them and now I think I'm doomed to enjoy them myself for the rest of my life.

Another thing I'll never forget is how much of a big brother (big brother by a whole 3 months) he was towards me the summer I lived with them. A guy that I had been head over heals for unknowlingly did something hurtful to me and Shaun was ready to go beat him up! I loved that. I had always wanted an older brother that would protect me and there was a need within me that was filled by Shaun's protectiveness.

After so many years and memories it is such a blessing to know that I'll get to join Shaun in eternity one day. And it'll be a Shaun that I didn't know since he will be free (is free) to live without physical pain. Now I really do have something to be jealous of!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Speaking the truth, as a matter of habit.

After getting married and having a home to care for I immediately felt motivated and challenged to create a home environment that was inviting for people (specifically my family) as well as a place where the Holy Spirit would reside. Seven (and a half) years later I almost feel overwhelmed at the amount I have to learn in this area...I better eat really healthy and live to be 150 if I'm ever going to attain as much!

One of the Scripture portions that has been specifically challenging/encouraging to me is in Deuteronomy 9 (you can read it right here). What an enormous challenge as a wife and a mom! I could get pretty discouraged if I thought of all the ways I haven't done so well. But as I grow and learn I'm getting better about not focusing on my failures, which is probably one of my biggest downfalls (dwelling on my failure and then throwing an enormous pity party!) So this week the Lord has been challenging me in one way to fulfill this portion of Scripture in our home and that is to speak truths in our home out loud throughout the day. Whether it be a short verse or just a statement of truth where the principle can be found in the Bible. For instance, this week I've been making an effort to every morning when Karis gets up and crawls in my lap to say "This is the day the Lord has made, I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!" It is pretty amazing to me how much this helps me focus my heart for the day's activities. Another verse that comes to my mind almost on a daily basis is Psalm 19:14 (I think) where David (I think) prays "may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." It came to mind just a little while ago so even though usually I would spend a few seconds meditating on it silently I looked at Karis and quoted it for her. I'm so excited about how much the Holy Spirit could work in our lives if I continue to make a special effort to do this! and what a challenge to spend more time meditating and memorizing Scripture. And I'm sure my child is the first to go through this (that's supposed to be funny. Like haha funny.) but she is in a stage where she seems to want to push the limits all day long. Every limit. Honestly, I've had to deal with my attitude quite a bit as I feel like I spend most of the day saying "no, don't do that" (and almost every time it is for something different!) So now I'm thinking that even if I spend a good portion of the day telling her what NOT to do perhaps I could balance out that nagging voice by speaking words of encouragement and truth. Truth. I love truth and how I can live my life in truth, serving a God of truth.

Now onto some random photos and happenings around the Kroeker home!

After Christmas we had a week long conference with our mission. It was a great week catching up with other missionaries we don't see very often and having some free time to play. We had so much fun in fact, I didn't really take any pictures. One of the guys here did and will give us a cd of them but for now I'll just skip over that week...

We had Cristy, Erik (whom we cal Evo, pronounced "eee-voe") and Benjamin stay with us for a few more days.

The Happy Family

This was picture #84 that I took of the three of them. I finally had the idea to have Evo kiss Cristy for the picture since he closes his eyes EVERY TIME the camera flashes. This way his eyes were supposed to be closed! Ingenius of me, huh? And if you don't believe me when I say he closes his eyes every time here are a few examples...

All of these pictures were taken shortly before the first one you saw. The bottom right corner picture was another failed idea when I told him "ok, don't look directly at the camera so you don't see the flash." Didn't work. I don't think Evo reads my blog and I am really hoping he doesn't read this post if he does! (don't tell him, Cristy!) Actually, I don't think he would mind. I give him a hard time about it because I find it HILARIOUS. He's a great brother in law.

Ok, more pictures...

The happy cousins.

Us girls.

This is a random picture Jonathan took earlier this week. Isn't it amazing?! I think this is one of my alltime favorite pictures. That's a bee looking up out of the flower!

My flower girl

In a few weeks Jonathan will be going on a trip and will be gone for a month! We have a lot we have to get done before he goes. Our house is gated in with a house that was owned by the same couple we bought ours from. The other house just sold so before Jonathan leaves we have to put in a big garage type door in our wall facing the street (we're currently using the one connected to the front house), build a wall separating the two houses, build higher up on our wall connected to the school property and then put in a walk-through door on that side. I really, really hope we get it all done before he goes!

Here is a picture of the wall that we'll add onto and then put in a walk-through door. The door will go behind Karis where all the bricks are exposed (trying to save as many of the flowers as possible).

Karis doesn't always want to but when she prays before a meal we really enjoy it. Every prayer is different but usually turns into a conversation between her and the Lord (her prayers are usually quite long!) I'm sure it brings Him just as much joy as it does us! Here is one of her shorter ones I caught on camera from last week...

(for some reason the video won't upload so I'm going to go ahead and publish this post and try again later! Come back to see the prayer:-)

Grace and peace to all of you this weekend!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tis the season to be jolly.

Christmas has passed, yes, I know. But really, who says we can't be jolly in January? I'm all for being a jolly wife, having a jolly home, etc. I love being around jolly people! Don't you? Anywho, (that's for you, Meg!) even if you don't feel all so jolly then perhaps after seeing lots of pictures from our jolly Christmas you may go away feeling like you want to come join us for Christmas next year!

A bit of a rabbit trail. I think I can finally appreciate Christmas season south of the equator. The first three Christmases we spent in Brasil I felt like we just skipped Christmas 3 years in a row. I mean, how could it really be Christmas when it wouldn't drop below 95 degrees? When you look out the window and see nothing but green? When you go to make the traditional tea ring Christmas morning to find 7 frogs by your kitchen sink? There were a few Christmas decorations in town at the mall but aside from that it looked and felt like summer. Our first Christmas back in the States since moving to Brasil ('07) was glorious. It was cold! I got to go to bed in warm pj's, wake up to feel carpet underneath my feet (before I put my slippers on...oh, what an amazing thing to wear slippers!) go turn on the gas fire and drink egg nog and hot chocolate all morning. What better way to celebrate our Savior's birth? Ok, so all those things have nothing to do with the meaning of Christmas but when you grow up having cold, carpety, hot chocoloatey Christmases it just becomes a part of you. That's just how it is, folks.

So back to our Christmas this year. Karis and I returned the 23rd from the States...Oh, and in case I haven't already mentioned it she (on this return trip) more than made up for the horrific trip from Brasil to the States. She was truly amazing! Thank you, my child. Many blessings on that precious, not-so-little head of yours.

Besides having a hubby (and a dad) to come home to (who we really missed even though there is no convincing him that we did think about him inbetween trips to the Good Cents store!) we were blessed to have J's sister Cristy, her hubby Erik (aka Evo) and their baby boy Benjamin awaiting us at our house. We hadn't seen them since June so it was fun to catch up and see how much Benjo had grown. He's a cutie-patootie...see for yourself...

It was a blast watching the two of them play together! They really did enjoy eachother 92% of the time...

I love, absolutely LOVE having Cristy around to cook with! We are both lovers of food and some of the most non-picky eaters in the world so when we're together there's quite a bit of activity going on in the kitchen. And it's so nice to have another woman to's like I'd turn around to do something (like dishes) and half the time it had already been done or Cristy was doing it. She's a fabulous sister in law! I think Jonathan appreciates it when she's around too since he gets cooked for a lot more often:-)

Our Christmas morning tea ring.

And now enjoying the tea ring.

Now that the kiddos are older they seem to enjoy opening presents and actually become semi excited about the present itself instead of enjoying just the paper!

And yes, those awesome pink sun glasses were a 10 cent treasure from GC, just in case you're wondering! (Note: If you don't know what GC stands for then I guess you've skipped over quite a bit from my last 4 posts. Shame on you. Go back, read it all and leave a comment. Thank you.)

Karis' dad (aka my husband) made her an awesome doll house for Christmas! It is so nice. We haven't had time to fix it up (with paint, carpet, etc) but I am so proud of it. Karis loves it and all her little girly friends enjoy it when they come over! (and yes, all the great furniture was supplied by GC as well, just in case you were wondering.)

I was hoping to post some pictures and videos from this past week but it appears I've overwritten my self-inflicted quota for bloggy posts. It is also 20 'til 10pm so perhaps I should put the munchkin to bed...

Nighty night, good people.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Wedding

Preparing for a wedding in the Wesolowski home is quite an event. I mean, once you add in dumpster diving, making mints and trips to the Good Cents store (once a day instead of twice) it's a bit challenging to keep things from getting chaotic. I'm not sure we accomplished as much, but it sure was a fun week!

Here are just a few pictures taken that week...

Making mints

Did I already have the mint picture in another post? I remember commenting on the amount of mint dough I consumed but don't know if this picture made it in or not. If this is the 2nd time I've posted it, my apologies. My almost sister in law is pictured to the right of me...isn't she cute?

Hair cuts

David finally gave the elves the hair cuts they so desperately needed! I was so thankful, though I couldn't believe he decided to go for it on the day of the wedding!

Rehearsing Flower Girl

Ok, I'm a proud mom. When it comes to letting your little girl be a flower girl it is risky business. Even though most people are only interested in seeing the bride walk down the aisle things can get kinda tense if the flower girl makes a scene. I really didn't want my flower girl to cause a scene and thank goodness, she was the best flower girl ever! Really, she was. She rehearsed great except that she kept wanting to walk back up the aisle to pick up the flowers she had just dropped (which also made me proud but in a ocd kind of a way:-) No matter, all we had to do was bribe my candy deprived child with a lolly pop only if she didn't pick the flowers back up and...wala! After she came down the aisle and sat on my lap up front the first thing she said was "mom, I didn't pick up the flowers. Where's my wolly-bop?" Good girl.

This was taken after the ceremony while waiting to have pictures taken with the kiddos. The photographer pretty much ignored us and the kiddos the whole time and didn't even take their picture! (nah, I'm not bitter:-) Then Benby was quite disturbed that because we waited so long to have a picture taken that wasn't taken we ended up missing out on the shrimp at the reception. Ah well, such is life!

Grandma with her grandbabies (I love this picture!)

Ok, the next pictures are totally out of order but for some reason blogger wont' let me cut and paste them without erasing the pictures above them. So here they are in totally random order...

One last visit with my grandparents. I really miss them!

The happy couple out on the dance floor.

Jon Jon and Karis on the dance floor. He looked so handsome in his tux that he didn't pick out:-)

Karis with her cousin Jagger. Oh, do I miss that boy!

Visiting with the relatives the day after the wedding. The video to the left is Jon Jon doing the worm and the one to the right is of Uncle Jimmy doing the worm. I'll let you decide who did a better job.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Good Laugh

We just arrived home from conference a few hours ago. I am so behind in blogging but I'm wanting to post a video from last night's "fun night." I think I'll take the plunge and go ahead and post it even though I'll have to backtrack on my next post or two.

This was our entry for fun night (four moms with their husband's legs!) I have to say that practicing was one of the highlights for me this week...we laughed SO hard.

Monday, January 5, 2009

And you thought I'd never come back...

Dear Stacey,

(in case anyone other than Stacey reads this...I'm trying to make my posts a bit more personal. She's my sister and wonders how I can take the time to post on my blog and then not send her a personal email...since I didn't send her a personal email today I'm hoping this helps!)

Up and out of the grave, I have returned! Actually, I have been everywhere but a grave and doing so many blog-worthy things that I haven’t had any time to even consider continuing my bloggy addiction. Right now I sit in a hotel room while Karis is taking her much needed and daily 3 hour nap. The mission is having our first conference away from a “base” where we are basically being spoiled and going to meetings all day. It’s great! I must admit after so much activity the past 6 weeks I wasn’t really looking forward to this week but now that we’re here I realize how rejuvenating this week will be for me (all of us!).

With too much to write about and too many pictures I’m going to condense what I could very easily make into 15 posts into one post and summarize the trip we took to the good ol’ U.S. of A. I came back so grateful for having such a generous brother...I never imagined how much this trip would mean to me. However, on the plane ride there I questioned my sanity, the value of my life, the value of my daughter’s life and wondered if I should fake some sort of breathing difficulty to get the plane to land somewhere in South America (and then of course figure out how to get back home after the fact). Yes, it was really that bad. I better not try to explain the amount of frustration I felt towards my child the first 6 hours of that 9 hour flight (just writing about it is making me feel all anxious) but I think this picture will describe perfectly how we both felt…

And please keep in mind that this picture was taken BEFORE takeoff. I was still enjoying thoughts about what we’d eat as soon as we landed in Orlando. 30 minutes after this picture was taken I promised God that I would fast the entire trip if only He would please put me in a temporary coma for the next 8 1/2 hours. Turns out that 6 1/2 hours would have been enough.

Skipping past the initial part of our trip (cutting Elve’s hair at night and our fun blog party) we made a surprise and quick trip up to TN to see Jonathan’s parents. I wasn’t sure if it was really going to be a surprise but it turned out that it was, which made it really fun! Mom stopped the van a few blocks in front of my in-laws house so that Karis and I could walk up to the porch discretely. I put Karis in front of the door, rang the door bell and let her say “surprise” as J’s mom opened the door. Her reaction was classic.

We had so much fun the next few days. Some of the activities included….

Tea Parties

After Dinner Bible Stories

Early Morning Cartoons

Hanging out (getting spoiled) by Vovô and Vovó

Reuniting with some great friends!

Back to Tallahassee, more family and the Good Cents store. We still continued to go twice a day for the next week (not the week of the wedding) and found lots of treasures! Makes me want to move back to Tally just for that :-) Here are a few highlights of our time before the wedding…

Hannah Montana PJ's

My brother Jon Jon is very philosophical. He is amazing and I am very proud of him for everything he has done and everything he is doing to serve the Lord. However his philosophical thinking can really stress me out sometimes. On the way home from TN we got into a discussion about clothing where my mom and I were trying desperately to convince him to dress a bit differently than he presently does (if you know him then I have no need to try and explain to you why this was our goal:-) His question is “What is the purpose of clothing?” It turned into a very lengthy and drawn out discussion where he made lots of good points that neither of us could argue with. My final conclusion...I have nothing to base my dislike for his choice of clothing on and unfortunately can’t find a spiritual reason to convince him to dress more according to my taste. Anywho, one thing he mentioned was some of the brands and slogans that we wear to express different ideas, etc. Even though there are some brands who cater much more according to my taste I don’t really think about advertising for certain brands since my clothes almost always come from a 2nd source (2nd hand stores vs. the stores themselves). He said something like “when you wear a shirt that says ‘Gap’ you are basically saying ‘I’m not really cool but Gap IS and so now I’m wearing this t-shirt to be cool like them.” or something like that. If he reads this he is probably going to die with my paraphrase. It really got me thinking though. Then it got me feeling stressed. I have always enjoyed not thinking about what I am or am not promoting by wearing my cheap clothing. However, now I can’t post this picture of Hannah Montana pajama pants without saying “I am not cool. Hannah Montana IS cool. Now I’m cool because I’m associating myself with Hannah Montana.” Not really. What I’m really saying is “wow, these pants are so soft and comfy and were on sale at wal-mart for $4! I’ve never watched Hannah Montana in my life so please don’t associate me with anything she does that I don’t agree with!”

Lots of fun with Grandma's dress-up clothes

Technology overload

Dumpster Diving

It was the weekend that the FSU students who graduate in the fall move out so Kimmy and I thought we’d scour the town for some treasures. We realized as we pulled out of the driveway it was lunch time...hey, no problemo! Little Caesar’s Hot-n-ready here we come. One large pizza later we returned with a nice area rug and this awesome (and I mean awesome) solid wood shelf thingy that I now hear my mom discarded immediately after my return to Brasil. Crazy was really cool. You would probably love it so if you live in Tally drop by their house and see if it’s still out there on the side of the road. Once mom sees it in one of your homes she’ll regret letting go of something so spectacular. For sure.

Perhaps our trip will be in two posts instead of one. I still have 243 pictures of the cutest flower girl in the world to show off!

It's good to be back into bloggy-world...or at least partway back. I probably won't have much time to catch up on all of the blogs I enjoy reading but that day will come in about 8 days!

Your loving sister,