Sunday, December 14, 2008

Teenager in the House!!

Today was a big day for my sweet Zach!! He has now entered the teen world! This boy still melts my heart. His tenderheartedness and compassion for others are two qualities that make him special. We have started a new tradition in our house called Birthday week and Zach was the first recipient. I wanted to bring a cake to his school and he about died-"Mom, I don't want to be the center of attention!" I wanted to bring him to Texas Road house so they could put a hat on him and dance and sing to him-his response-"No Way!" So on Friday I brought him a Jimmy John sub sandwich and just so happened the secretary at the school granted me permission to interrupt class and deliver it to him. When the teacher opened the door Zach's face turned bright red and Zoe ran across the room and gave him a great big hug! His teacher made a big deal about Zach's birthday to embarrass him even more. That night we went shopping with Zach's birthday money and the sweet boy offered to buy his sister Nike Shox even after she was being a little turd to him. Generosity is another quality God instilled in Zach that I love. Sat. morning came and Zach had the entire day planned. BLT's for lunch, open presents then spend the entire day with only his HERO! The look on Zach's face when he opened his presents was to die for. He got new riding gear and you would have thought we bought him a new car. He immediately put it on and him and Tom hit the road to play in the dirt. You see we have 2 dirt bikes sitting in our garage left here by Matt and Jen and Zach's perfect day was riding in the woods, so off he and Tom went. ADVENTURE-another quality I love about this boy but scares the pants off of me! Zach, like his dad, has NO FEAR and loves to take risks. The day finished off with a Platter of Hot Wings at Buffalo Wild Wings and a window shopping trip to Cabella's. I must say I was a little jealous that his perfect day didn't include me, but love the fact that he has an awesome daddy to hang out with!

I am so thankful that God trusted us with this sweet boy and pray that God will bless him with many more happy years!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Different Christmas Poem

It seems most times I want to have a pity party for myself, God sends me gentle little reminders in various ways. This time it was in an email from my dear friend Jodi that I grew up with in Iowa. Tom will be gone for Christmas this year and I was feeling a little down and in my email was this little reminder of what I have to be thankful for. So grab a tissue and enjoy the poem.

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,>
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.>
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,>
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.>
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,>
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.>>>

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,>
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.>
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,>
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.>
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,>
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.>>>
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,>
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.>
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the>
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.>
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,>
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.>>>

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,>
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.>
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,>
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.>
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,>
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.>>>
'What are you doing?' I asked without fear,>
'Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!>
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,>
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!'>
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,>
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.>>>
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light>
Then he sighed and he said 'Its really all right,>
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night.'>
'It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,>
That separates you from the darkest of times.>>>
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,>
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.>
My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,'>
Then he sighed, 'That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers.'>
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',>
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.>>>
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,>
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.>
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,>
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.>
I can live through the cold and the being alone,>
Away from my family, my house and my home.>>>
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,>
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.>
I can carry the weight of killing another,>
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..>
Who stand at the front against any and all,>
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.'>>>
' So go back inside,' he said, 'harbor no fright,>
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right.'>
'But isn't there something I can do, at the least,>
'Give you money,' I asked, 'or prepare you a feast?>
It seems all too little for all that you've done,>
For being away from your wife and your son.'>>>
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,>
'Just tell us you love us, and never forget.>
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,>
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.>
For when we come home, either standing or dead,>
To know you remember we fought and we bled.>
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,>
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.'>>

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN>
30th Naval Construction Regiment>
OIC, Logistics Cell One>
Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Lights 101

I had a wild hair to put my tree up and decorate for Christmas. Sounds pretty normal except for the fact I had to crawl up in the attic to get all the decorations, Tom was in the middle of doing homework and Zoe had to be picked up from school in 35 min. Did that stop me??? No way I climbed up in the attic and instantly my ADD kicked in and I decided I should organize the entire attic while searching for the Christmas boxes. After many screams "Honey" , "Honeyyy", Tom came to my rescue and we managed to get the Christmas tree down the ladder along with 8 plastic tubs. I was overwhelmed with the wad of lights that lay before my eyes in one huge tangled up ball, but determined to decorate I started to tackle the mess.

Tom's job has always been wrapping the tree with lights, but I was trying to avoid another Redneck Christmas. You see last year I left the house while Tom put the lights on the tree and when I returned home I wanted to die. He had thrown purple lights with white cords up on the tree and there was more white extension cords everywhere.
I am sure if I would have let him our tree this year would have looked like this:

I was determined to make my tree light up from the inside out and Tom's meathod was out the door. So I googled "How to decorate a Christmas tree." My search found me a little man saying:
#1 You need a tree
#2 You might need a step stool
#3 And you might just need some lights......
That is all I could take of the little man in the santa hat. I decided I would wrap the lights as I put the tree together. Fast forward...48 hours I finally got the entire tree up and wrapped with lights, 600 lights to be exact. I was so proud of myself and excited to plug it in and see my masterpiece. Only one BIG problem. I could not find an extension cord that would fit the plug. URRR. When Tom walked in the door I yelled "HELP" and he came to analyze the problem. Well, it seems as if I had wrapped the entire tree backwards!!! Tom said "you better start unwrapping!" Oh my Goodness!! All that time wasted--I had to walk away from the tree. In true Tom fashion he saw this as an opprutinity to play on my frustrations. When I walked back into the room my man had the tree lit up and it was Fabulous!! Once again in true Tom fashion--he rescued me from my failure. By now all the kids were home from school and the fun began with putting all the ornaments on the tree. Zoe hung about 10 ornaments on the same branch, but in the end it turned out great. It is so fun this year to watch Zoe get so excited about all of the lights! We have told her there is no santa, but she is sure there is a santa because daddy is his elf. So I guess we will just go with that!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Field Trip Day!!!

Today was Bailey's 5th grade field trip to the Bellevue Food Pantry! I have to say of all the field trips I have been on this one was the BEST!!! I love to help others and right now with our economy in a crunch and the holidays rapidly approaching it was the perfect time to help fill the food bank. I can remember growing up there was a time when my family had to visit our local food bank for food because my dad was out of work. I also remember being so very embarrassed and didn't want anyone to know that we needed help, but that was just my pride. So maybe that is why this field trip was so meaningful to me.

Each 5th grader had to do jobs to raise money to go shopping for food. The money was then divided evenly between all the groups. Each parent had 4 kids in our group. Each kid in the group had a job. One was the cart pusher, one was the shopper (Bailey), One was the recorder and one was the accountant. All the groups started with $55.25 to spend and the goal was to get as many groceries as we could. The kids had to scan the store ads, dig through coupons and find the best deals. It was their math lesson for the day. My group rocked! We had a great time! My group didn't know they had been assigned to the thrift queen--I LOVE to find a bargin!! When we discovered a good deal I would do a little DANCE for them and they would die laughing. I am pretty sure Bay won't invite me to another field trip! Once we got to the check out if we were over our allowance the kids had to decide what to put back--Parents were not allowed to pay the difference. We did great-- Only having to put back Marshmallows! Next the kids loaded all the groceries on the bus and we were off to the Bellevue Food Bank!

I had to drive separately because Zoe was with me so I followed the bus. I was so busy dancing and rocking out to the Veggie Tales Praise CD that I didn't even notice when I cut off one of the buses. Pretty good entertainment for the kids on the back of the bus! Once at the food bank the kids made an assembly line and passed all the groceries inside. It was so awesome to see the excitement of all the kids! A little old man and lady run the food bank and told all the kids that last week they were down to just 3 cans of soup on the shelves. So it was perfect timing for our 5th graders to bless more families!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Do you remember as a kid the excitement and anticipation of going on a trip and getting to see your friends? I can remember, it seemed like the time would never come and the trip seemed like it took forever to get to the final destination(well in my case it really did cause my dad would make frequent potty stops!) Well the day finally arrived for us to leave and the car was packed with excitement and anticipation and yes the 5 hour drive extended a little longer because I seemed to have acquired my dad's need for frequent potty stops! When we finally arrived it seems as if time had never passed! The entire crew just picked up right where we had left off!

Thanksgiving had lots of.........Like lots of turkey and good food!

Lots of...air soft guns with little green pellets everywhere!

Lots of.....lovin' and kids!!


(Sorry Lis-I love this picture it reminds me of Polish Pottery runs!)

Lots of....male bonding over some good ole hot wings!!

Lots of.....Laughter!!!!

Lots of...trying to get a family picture for Christmas cards.

Lots of....great memories!! I am so very thankful that God gives good gifts. The gift of friendship is such a blessing! Thanks to both of these sweet families for making our thanksgiving unforgettable!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It is Finished!!!!

I have finally finished taping myself to complete my RPM cert with Les Mills. Although I have taught aerobics for a while I must say this has been the most intense and extremely hard certification I have ever done. About 3 months ago the foot doctor told me NO MORE STEP AEROBICS!!! It seems I have developed heel spurs in both feet and plantar fasciitis which is very painful! The doctor hooked me up with some sweet night splints to wear, and let me say, thank goodness I have been married for awhile because there is nothing sexy about climbing into bed with moon boots on!!! None the less I needed to find something else to teach so I thought I would try RPM (cycling). The initial training was Sat and Sun 8am to 5 pm both days. I went totally unprepared to ride a bike 16 hours. I always thought people wore those padded bike shorts to look cool and the bike shoes just added to the coolness, but that is not the case! After riding 14 hours my bootie was so sore I wanted to die. Well, that weekend we biked 80 miles and overloaded on information. To complete the cert we were given 3 months to memorize 9 songs and tape record ourselves be graded!! Well, in true Chenoa fashion I waited until the last min. to accomplish this huge task. Mon 5:30 am I taped and low and behold when I viewed the tape I was horrible!! It is very humbling to watch yourself on video, especially for 1 hour straight! After 2 more tapping's I think I am finally done and ready to be raked over the coals! I only hope when they view the tape they will be blinded by the diamond in my nose and miss all of my mistakes!!
Now I can get to the good stuff! Hookin' up with my home girls for Thanksgiving! I am so thankful for these friendships and cherish every moment our families get to spend together(only wish the William's family could join us!) This is an event we look forward to every year. Although the last 3 years we have gone to the Cairney's home in Ohio, this year we are going to Kansas to see Stefanie's new home! One might call us crazy having 13 kids and 6 adults in one house for 3 days, we just consider it pure FUN!!! Lots of laughs and tons of good food and usually some shopping, proves to be a great time! I hope everyone has a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Over The River and Through The Woods......

We hit the road literally over the river and kept driving through the woods to visit Grandma and Grandpa and my brothers this weekend. We have enjoyed the last 4 years being so close to my home town, a 2 hour drive sure beats 12 hours from Oklahoma or 26 hours from California. Zoe tells everyone her "best fwend" is her Grandma. She adores her! She follows Grandma everywhere talking non stop and Grandma is way more patient than me. She listens to all of her stories and puts up with Zoe being all over her. I must say when Tom is gone and I am single parenting--it is a much needed break for me because when Grandma's in the house you might hear Zoe say "what Momma?"

We got to my brothers house and met his new addition to the family--a little rat dog. As soon as Bay saw the dog she said "Mom she looks just like our dog Bear. Remember the one that you stepped on and almost killed?" Yes she is right and so that dog didn't last in our family very long. The girls were thrilled and rolled around on the floor with her until she sank her sharp little puppy teeth into Zoe first and then she brought Bay to tears also. It is so funny watching my big grumpy brother pamper this crazy little dog. Friday is always pizza night at our house so we had some pizza hut and I mean had some Pizza Hut! While Zoe was distracted we snuck out the front door and made a quick Wal-mart run for fabric, cause we were going to sew some purses. Well, 3 hours later we got home and did not feel like sewing at all so we surfed the web instead. About 2am I fell into bed thinking I had only 5 hours to sleep before Zoe woke up and then I remembered Grandma was the lucky one to be chosen to sleep with Zoe!! Yeah!!

Saturday we went with my dad to visit my Grandma. I love this lady so very much and recently she moved into assisted living. Although it is a very nice facility it is hard for me to go visit her there. It just doesn't seem right, not Grandma's house that I have so many many good memories of. As we walked into her apartment her sweet face lit up!! She was and always is excited to see us! After everyone was greeted with a soft kiss we sat and chatted. I had to fight back the tears several times. When she saw Bay she kissed her then just looked at her and she could not remember her name. This is hard for her too I am sure--here is a woman that raised 7 kids and has 24 grand kids and I don't remember how many great grand kids and used to be able to tell you every one's birthday off the top of her head. She told me about her two girl friends and showed me the exercises they are making her do and was very concerned about Tom getting a job and where we would move. I love to hear her advice so I asked her where she thought we should move. "Well, Chenoa I would think about the kids first. Where do they have good schools? And I would always look for a good church! Why do you want to move away?" We took lots of pictures and she wanted to make sure they were only from her waist up. (You see she is the one I got my bottom half from and us Van Cleave girls don't really like the JayLo look.) At one point I asked her "Could you please tell your son to start wearing his teeth?" She said "I think he would listen to you more than me!" And she turned to look at my dad and she said "Don't hold your mouth like that!" Instantly Dad moved his mouth. I said "See Grandma He still obeys you!" It makes me laugh, I guess you are never too old for your mom to correct you!! About this time the kids were climbing her walls so we had to say our goodbyes but she insisted on walking us down to the front door. Since her hips are not so good my sweet Bay offered to put her shoes and socks on for her and as I watched I cried. Tears of joy and sadness mixed. All the times that she has served us and put our shoes on and now we have a chance to serve her back!

We headed to the mall with a little pit stop at my cousin's dorm room. Dominique gave us the grand tour of his pad. Zach loves to hang out with Dominique and loved checking out his room. Chick fillet was calling my name to we didn't stay long. My heart started beating faster as we approached my favorite mall eve-- Jordan Creek. I love this mall it just seems to have all my favorite stores, but for some reason I never have enough time to check them all out. While we were sitting and eating my little brother said "Chenoa your nose is swollen! You better go get some sea salt and a different earring for that!" Well, I tend to be a little, hmm lets say dramatic when things like this happen so from this point on all I could think of is sucking my earring up my nose and it getting stuck. Crazy I know but you see that is why I am not a nurse because every patient I worked on I would think I would have the same illness! So my mission was to find a piercing shop and get this nose to stop swelling up!! I dropped the kids with Grandma and Grandpa for bowling and gym time and headed out to find me a piercing shop. When the tattoo man saw my nose he said "I have seen much worse--here is some sea salt to clean it with!" Mission finally accomplished!! With sea salt and Qtips in hand I rushed back to doctor my nose at Rowdy's house. Much to my surprise the earring had sunk all the way in my nose and as I pushed it out to clean it I thought I was going to throw up~~another reason I am not a nurse-I an pretty wimpy!

Sunday we were finally able to meet my littlest nephew Landon. He is so darn cute and chubby. Hudson is his 3 year old brother that just loved to fight with Zoe. We had a great day shopping and bowling again with Grandma and Grandpa and my brothers.