Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!!

I miss the days when our kids used to spend hours figuring out how to dress up for Halloween. Countless trips to Value Village over the years! We don't get trick-or-treaters at our house, so we are going out to dinner with Whitney and Travis. Alex likes to hand out candy at a friend's house where they get LOTS of trick-or-treaters, so he won't be joining us. There is still a little kid in my 6'3" son. He likes to dress up and have fun with all the munchkins who come to the door. Whit and Trav will head off to a party and Keith and I will come home and maybe see if we can catch "The Great Pumpkin" - one of my favorites!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Keith and Cathey's Excellent East Coast Adventure

Aside from having a great visit with the Milarchs, we were fortunate to be able to take in some of the touristy sites in the area. We spent two whole days on the Washington Mall checking out the monuments, taking a bus tour of Arlington Cemetery and downtown DC. We also got to visit the National Aquarium at Baltimore with Ben, Lauren and the kids.

Spending time in the historical district of downtown DC made me quite reflective. We spent some time at most of the monuments and visiting them left me feeling awed at the history behind each of them. Standing at the base of the Washington Monument and looking up feels like it goes on forever. I loved reading the words of President Lincoln at his memorial - they gave me a new perspective on the Civil War. The war memorials were the most inspiring. The Vietnam Memorial is so understated, but very powerful. America's shame became a black marble chronological list of all who gave their lives in a war we never intended to win. The Korean War Memorial was haunting. Pictures don't do justice to standing near the soldiers "walking" out of the woods. The World War II Memorial was my favorite. President Bush oversaw the building of this monument and it is impressive. Each state and U.S. colony who played a part in the war is represented around a beautiful pool and fountain. It's interesting that the building of the War Memorials went backwards in order, starting with Vietnam. There is no memorial for World War I, but there probably will be in time.

The Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial.

The wall - Vietnam Memorial.
Korean Memorial. World War II Memorial.

Arlington Cemetery is spectacular and awe-inspiring. The rows and rows upon rows of our nation's heroes, known and unknown, left me speechless. We visited the grave sites of JFK, RFK, President Taft, Challenger and Columbia Astronauts, John McCain's father and grandfather and so many other familiar names. The changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers brought tears to my eyes. At each change of guard, the incoming guard takes a vow to never leave his post. While on duty, each guard steps off 21 paces, clicks his boots together, places his gun on the opposite shoulder and paces 21 steps back then clicks his boots and changes shoulders again as an honorary 21 gun salute. This goes on 24-7.

Tomb of the Unknowns. Robert Kennedy's marker - he requested a simple white wooden cross.

John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and their two infants who died at birth. The Eternal Flame burns regardless of weather. It's interesting that John Jr. is not buried here, but was buried at sea.

It also struck me that in each of those buildings we walked around in the downtown DC area, the business of running the U.S. government takes place. We saw the Whitehouse, the capitol, the different department buildings. We had lunch in the Ronald Reagan International Trade Building. It all made me feel very patriotic.
Our nation's capitol and the White House.The State Department and the Dept. of Agriculture.
The National Aquarium is amazing. We spent all day there and didn't spend long at any one exhibit. Madeline and Max love going there and we were delighted to be able to share that adventure with them. Ben also took us to see Andrews Air Force Base where he works. He does secret secret stuff - flying helicopters around D.C. and hauling dignitaries and such. We even got to see where they store Air Force 1. We're very proud of Ben and the work he does on our country's behalf. We;ll be praying for his safety when he leaves for Iraq in March.

There was much more to see, but it was a fulfilling trip. When we go back (looks like Ben and Lauren will be in MD for at least a few years) we would like to get to the Smithsonian museums and perhaps rent a car and drive through some of the nearby cities and states. It all made me realize how very young the West is in comparison to the rich history of the East.

All in all, a delightful and excellent adventure.

Visit with the Milarchs

Keith and I just got home from traveling to White Plains, MD, to spend some time with Lauren, Ben, Madeline and Max. We had a great time catching up, going to church, seeing the sights, palying with the kids, eating the local cuisine, taking in the fall colors, eating more, playing cards, watching football, eating again..... It was tons of fun to interject ourselves into the busy life of the Milarch family and get to know the kids again. This was a trip we will always remember fondly. Lauren and Ben were great hosts, trying to keep us entertained while still keeping up with everything their kids are involved in. I remember well the days of preschool and birthday parties. Thanks, Lauren, Ben, Moo and Max!

Here are some fun pics of the Milarch family:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Travel Plans

Keith and I are headed to Baltimore tomorrow to spend some time with the Milarch family. We have known Lauren since she was about 10. She and Whitney were friends through the dance groups that they were in, and Lauren spent a lot of time with our family over the years. She and her husband Ben moved from Spokane to White Plains, MD, last year as Ben is a helicopter pilot in the USAF. Their daughter Madeline is our god-daughter and their son Max is Whitney and Travis's godson. Both "Moo" and Max took part in Whit and Trav's wedding. We are excited to go see them and also see a part of the country we have never been to before. You might send up some flares for this young family. Lauren has been diagnosed with M.S., Max has recently been diagnosed as autistic, and Ben is being deployed to Iraq for a year. That's some pretty hard stuff to deal with as a "single" mom. Lauren is hoping to move back to Spokane while Ben is gone. We would love to have her and the kids back in the area.

Off to the friendly skies bright and early in the a.m. I'm sure I'll have lots of pics and stories when we get back.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh Happy Day

Today was a pretty good day. Just going for a walk in the beautiful fall sunshine helps the mindset. On top of that my Fantasy Football team had a relatively good week. Now mind you, my top scoring player hurt himself and could be out indefinitely, but just in time, my other running back is back after an injury. Two of my wide receivers are returning from this disabled list. Things are looking up! I acknowledge that I am still in the cellar in my league, but watch out! I might end up in, like, in 6th place. Yee-haw! I also got a number of my Facebook hatchlings fully fed and released into the wild before I leave for Maryland. What more could I have hoped for?!

Some days are all about the little things.....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Dome Series

We're pretty big baseball fans in my family, but we are pretty disappointed with the idea of the World Series being played out indoors. The Red Sox were our only remaining hope, but alas. Keith will watch just to see the umpiring (he has a unique perspective when watching games on t.v.), but I'm not much interested anymore.

I usually enjoy watching the Seahawks, but their season is pathetic at best. I won't even mention the Cougars.

Bring on college basketball - I'm ready for Zag season!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall, Fantasy Football and the Pursuit of the Trivial

One of my friends who thinks a lot like I do in many areas of life, pointed out to me that my blog has been rather deep and profound lately and that she misses the "fun" stuff. So, at least for this blog, I will address the shallow, meaningless, trivial "other" stuff in my life.

1. Fall. There are some great things about it. I love the colors, the crisp sunny days, football, apple cider, pumpkins, Halloween, Thanksgiving. If it didn't lead into winter, it would be my second favorite season. There's something friendly, yet foreboding about fall. I love those fall days when the temperature defies the pattern and I don't have to wear a coat.

2. Fantasy football. This year I am writing off as a learning experience. I have made all the moves I can to get some higher point players, but they just aren't out there and the ones that are keep getting injured. I'm in the cellar this week and just hope to move up a couple notches before the season is over. On the flip side, I am in second place in our office pool. Go figure.

3. New season of television. I confess to enjoying television. In Montana there wasn't much else to do in the winter. As a kid I also read "bazillions" (Karen term) of books. My dad liked t.v. too, so we would watch it together. So though I rarely watch it in the summer, it helps pass the time in the winter. New shows have begun, new episodes of old shows have also started. I like Biggest Loser, Dancing with the Stars and look forward to new American Idols. (The best of reality t.v. in my opinion). I like crime and medical dramas (CSIs, Law & Orders, House, etc.), and I also like some of the quirky reality things out there (Ace of Cakes, Project Runway, What Not to Wear). I get restless just sitting and watching, so usually I'm multi-tasking while watching. I wonder what a modern version of a variety show would look like, and I long for a prime time cartoon that doesn't offend me. Whatever happened to Saturday night Flintstones and Jetsons? I still live for the Peanuts holiday specials. What are your favorites?
4. Gonzaga basketball. The thought of Bulldog basketball gets my blood pumping. I was a big fan before Whitney started working at G.U., but now following it is just one of my favorite fall/winter pastimes. Whitney even took me to a game last year - fabulous! Most years it carries me all the way through till March Madness. Go Zags!

There you go, my friend. Mindless drivel at it's best. I hope to see a comment from you.....

What Would We Do Without Friends?

I can't imagine what my life would be like without the amazing relationships I have.

My Montana family is the best. My Mom and Dad are the MOST amazing parents ever. My sisters are people I LOVE spending time with and as their kids grow up, they are becoming my friends also. Mishell, my sister-friend since 7th grade, will always be the one who knows me better than anyone. I would call all of these friends as well as family. I have friends and family who live in other states that I don't talk to often, but when we do it's like we've never been apart.

My kids are also my friends. Just being around Whitney, Travis and Alex lightens my spirit. Now that they are adults, the relationship changes from just parent-child, to friend-friend. I am so blessed to have them close by. They are good people.

I have other special friends in my life that are as close as family. Of course the Bievers are among the closest, but several others are highly valued, incredible friends. Some I've met through church and work, some through other circumstances. Keith and I have a LARGE circle of friends that would be tough to live without.

Yesterday I was pretty down after saying a final goodbye to Seth at his memorial service. The past several weeks have been all about the Bonnetts and just being there for them. Yesterday I let be about me. It was emotionally draining and hard. I could have curled up under the covers and stayed there indefinitely. But Trav and Whit, Gail and Roch, realized that I just needed to unwind, relax and be with them. They are awesome friends.

I have learned through the years that while we keep some friends for life, others are for a season. It has been my experience that God has a way of putting just the right people together for just the right times. Sometimes those "arranged friendships" last forever, some drift apart. And I am so grateful for all those I call friends. You know who you are.

Friday, October 17, 2008

One Foot in Front of the Other

Today was Seth's celebration service. It was incredibly beautiful and emotional. Each song, picture, tribute and message was touching. Tears and hugs abounded. Randy gave a sweet tribute through tears. Beth put together a beautiful slide show that included all of us who got to hold Seth in his last days on earth. April and Jillian sang an incredible version of "Glory Baby" a song written and recorded by Watermark. Pastor Glenn gave a lovely message about the significance of Seth's life in six short months. It was awesome. There was food. There was fellowship. There were flowers. There was a lot of love floating around.

Now I'm toast. I know Kathryn is, too. The finality and the exhaustion are taking it's toll. There have been too many days of just trying to suck it up and get through it all. Now there's nothing left to do. Seth has a perfect home and the rest of us are stuck in a broken one.

Pastor Glenn keeps whispering, "One foot in front of the other". I've been doing that all week, but the steps are getting smaller and with less conviction. I'm not sure I could even walk to the mailbox right now, and I can only imagine how Kathryn and Leland are feeling. I know tomorrow is a new day and God will give me strength for whatever that day brings. For today, I can only sit and stare and miss Seth and Brandon.

I know, I know. "One foot in front of the other". Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Where Do Those Quirky Random Thoughts Come From?

So today was a difficult day as we said goodbye to Seth once more and laid him to rest at Fairmont Memorial Park. It was poignant that Seth was buried in the same cemetery and the same section of that cemetery that Brandon was 20 years ago. In fact, Kathryn and I have decided that they are neighbors really.

I have always wondered if I am just weird, or if other people who are going through tragic circumstances experience strange and random thoughts at the most awkward times. I won't go into the details of some of my quirky thoughts because some people would find them at best odd and at worst sick. But Kathryn popped off with a couple of comments today that confirmed to me that it really is normal to be weird in times like these (sorry, Kathryn - but you have to admit....). And perhaps these thoughts are God's protection during deep pain. Perhaps He knows we need a little comic relief just to survive and brings these thoughts into our heads.

We laughed together a couple of times today when one of our minds would go places most people would not understand if they had not experienced this phenomenon. I was pretty much always afraid to tell people where my head went sometimes in the midst of hospital vigils, meetings with funeral directors, memorial services, etc. Now, after spending time with K & L this evening, at least I know I am not alone in my bizarre random thoughts. Whether we're normal or not, I'm still not sure. I don't think I'll ask anyone because I'm still sort of afraid of the answer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Club

My friends Kathryn and Leland are the most amazing people. They are walking through indescribable pain and yet ooze the grace of God from every pore. They have allowed Keith and I to walk alongside them because we have found an unbreakable bond and also because as we have gotten to know each other in deeper ways, we realize how much we enjoy and need each other. We are members of a most unfortunate group: The Club. The Proper name would be The Parents who have Lost a Child Club. Matt and Marlene are part of it now, too. It's not a club you choose or want to join - the membership is forced. Once you're in it you can't drop your membership and the dues are extremely costly.

I have to believe that people who belong to this club get more "head tilts" than other clubs. If you see me, ask me to demonstrate. I also have to believe that God values the members of this club in a special way and He gets it. He is an eternal member of this club. As I read in Scripture that those who love the Lord will suffer, I guess I feel like Keith and I, Kathryn and Leland, Matt and Marlene understand that more than most. For those who love the Lord, this life is not necessarily easier. But we are privileged in a special way to experience God's pain first hand. We come through the fire more refined. I wouldn't ask to do it again, but I know that what I understand now about God and life, has taught me in ways that no human could teach me. And because I did it, I get to be in The Club with some pretty amazing humans and one AMAZING God.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cooking Frenzy

In light of the recent economic downturn and the fact that the cost of EVERYTHING is hurting our checkbooks, Whitney and I decided to get together every three weeks or so to make freezable meals that we can share. Whitney is especially busy with her job as well as lots of volunteer activities, so preparing meals at home has been a challenge. I don't have the excuse of being too busy; I just don't enjoy cooking. (Yes, it's true, I am NOT the perfect wife). Eating out just plain costs too much as much as we enjoy it. So yesterday was our Cooking Day.

We start with each of us finding recipes we want to try that are easy, economical and healthy. We keep track of recipes we love so we can reuse them as well as trying new ones. We save ingredients from time to time, too, to keep the costs down. We bring our recipes together on a Sunday after church, make a shopping list, head to the store to get everything we need (we split the cost of groceries), then assembly line the production. Yesterday we made 7 different main dishes and 1 soup. When we divided into portions, we came up with enough food for 11-14 meals per family. It was a lot of work, but when we were done, seeing all those containers packed away in the freezer was SO rewarding. Now on those days we work, we just pull something out, warm it up, add a salad or side dish and we're done. Fantastic!!! And it has the side benefit of spending time together which is at a premium these days.

The reason I am posting this is not to brag about our brilliance, but to suggest that others find a friend, split the costs and work, and reap the rewards. Good times!

Morning After

I can remember little about the days immediately following Brandon's death. It's all pretty much a blur of which I remember pieces rather than days. I do remember them as being incredibly hard. My heart remains heavy for Kathryn and Leland as they walk through this valley that happens now. They are missing their precious boy deeply as they take steps to try to put their family and life back together without him. They will need the strength that only God can provide more than ever. They will need their friends and church family to be especially sensitive and supportive. They may not even be able to sort through what it is they really need. Please keep praying. Please keep loving them.
This is the "grieving with hope" that Scripture talks about. There is no doubt that God is in control, that He is merciful and loving, that we have hope of sharing eternity with Seth. But in this broken life, it just hurts. We need to cling to the hope in the midst of the hurt. That's what I am working on today.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Seth's Homecoming

I love that Seth is now whole and perfect and safe in the arms of Jesus. He went to his new heavenly home at about 5:30 this morning. His Mom and Dad were there to send him on his way. When our son died 20 years ago, our daughter Whitney who was four at the time said, "It's okay cuz there are lots of toys in heaven." I'm pretty sure Seth is playing like never before.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Brief Moments of Light

Keith and I spent the evening with our favorite hospital residents last night. We shared a little chicken teriyaki and broccoli beef (so glad we picked your favorite, Kathryn!). We took turns holding Seth and telling stories and just being together. It's such a strange situation to be in - something so difficult and painful sprinkled with teeny little glimpses of light in the darkness. Leland met a pro football player in the elevator (Only Leland would recognize a player who went to the Superbowl in 1985!). Kathryn laughed out loud during a conversation with her 2.5- year- old, Kaleigh. Keith told about scaring a little old lady in the elevator. We laughed over my "third party offense" that K & L find amusing. (I know you are reading this, Kathryn and you can stop smiling now!)

Thank God He gives us brief moments of light to carry us through what otherwise seems to be endless dark clouds. Keith and I are happy that we can still share smiles with Kathryn and Leland even if they are smiling at our expense. I'm grateful for moments of joy in the midst of the deepest sorrow. Life is incredibly complicated, isn't it? Sometimes I wish I could figure it all out, but mostly I'm just glad I don't have to and that God already did.

God's Approach to Anger

So in light of recent blogging, I have spent some time thinking about and studying the Biblical approach to anger and when it is appropriate. There are scriptural examples of anger in the life of Christ. He got angry over wrong doing and distressed over people's stubborn hearts. He got angry at the wrongdoing and the harm it did in God's Kingdom and he got angry at individuals who caused harm to others. Nowhere does it say we shouldn't get angry, but that we should not let our anger consume us.

I am not an angry person - I just don't go there much. I am usually quite patient with people. When I do get angry, it's generally over quickly after I have had a chance to vent. Perhaps to use my blog to vent isn't the best choice but perhaps it is better than landing in the middle of someone. At least on a blog the reader can decide if it applies to them. And it is MY blog. I don't want it to be harmful, but I want it to be real. I think we need to see each other struggle with hard things in life. I think we need to not display a "perfect" personna where everything is always rosey. However, I also don't want other people to "get on board" with my feelings about something I write about. I need to be aware of the power of words.

So my apologies if I offended anyone with my indignation about people's harmful behavior in regards to Kathryn and Leland. I don't apologize for feeling strongly about protecting them. But most likely I should have taken more time with my response and been more gentle with my words. Jesus' anger looked at motives. I need to do that, too. I don't know anyone that would want to hurt Kathryn and Leland. But I also know they can be hurt by well-intentioned words.

So my conclusion, if there is one because I am still working on this process, is that we all need to look at motives, be gentle with words, admit we are human, be angry about the things that make God angry and continue to be real with each other. I'm feeling very real lately.....

Fantasy Football and Other Fall Frights Revisited

O boy!!! Another week of having to drop players to the bench because they are injured. They don't make a bandaid big enough! Seriously, my starting lineup has been decimated by owies. I am so slim in the WR area that it's pathetic, my main QB has had the consistency of jello on a hot day, I never have been able to snag a decent defense. It shouldn't be this hard! Oh well, hope springs eternal.... Maybe Boldin will be back in a week or two, maybe Royal's ankle won't need surgery, maybe Berrian can play next week, maybe Hasselbeck will.....well, there's too much to hope for there. Maybe I should just start looking forward to next year!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Some Perspective

For those of you who read my most recent blog post and are wondering where it went, I have chosen to delete it, not because I necessarily feel any differently or have a need to defend the feelings behind the words, but because wisdom prevails and Pastor Glenn said much the same thing without the bite on his blog (see Link on my Blog List to the right). I recognize that because of my closeness to Kathryn and Leland's situation as well as my history, I am probably more defensive on their behalf than I should be. They are doing very well and don't need me to fight their battles for them.

For those who know them, I do continue to ask that each of us be sensitive when we talk to them, to guard our words and our actions so as not to cause them any added pain. They are making life's hardest decisions and they only need God's help to do so. They don't need our advice, only our presence.

Keith and I continue to find our time with Kathryn, Leland and Seth a blessing. They continue to trust God in all things. God truly has given them grace for each moment. Please continue to pray for the whole family as each day brings a new challenge. And God is the strength they need to meet each of those challenges.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


So I noticed that a few of my blog friends started noting their "followers". I'm interested to know who reads my blog on a regular basis. For instance, I had no idea Jean read my blog regularly. I had no idea that what I write might be interesting enough for people to check it out more than once. I had no idea blogging would take on a life and community of its own.

So if you do check out my blog every so often, I'd love to know you're out there. Maybe I should start a list for what people would like to see on my blog. A blog menu of sorts. I'm open to suggestion.

I know for sure that I have a "follower" in real life. We have had our female Australian shepherd, Sydney, for six years now. While I enjoy dogs, I'm not crazy about what it means to live with them (dirt, hair, worse than that....) and having grown up on a ranch, my idea of having a dog is one that lives outside and works for its keep. However, this amazing dog won my heart early on. She is very smart, super expressive and truly a companion. As I go from room to room in the house, she follows me from place to place, and lays near to where I am. I can actually carry on a conversation with Syd and we both know what we are talking about. She's mostly very tidy and not much trouble. Sort of the ideal pet and not a bad follower, either. I do think she's one of a kind in that she has birthed six puppies and none are quite like her.

Anyone else out there have a favorite follower?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Blog Addiction

My name is Cathey and it's been four days since my last blog. This was pointed out to me by my friend Kathryn who apparently thinks I should blog at least once a day so she has something to read while sitting at the hospital. Blogging is a serious addiction -not only for those who blog, but for those who read other people's blogs. I have a list that I check every day. Now mind you, SOME people will go WEEKS between blogs. This is very disappointing for those of us who check our blog lists every day. SOME people blog more than once a day. I have only done that once and it really was more about breaking up a lengthy blog than it was needing to blog three times. So, anyway, Kathryn, this one's for you!!!

We've been hanging out at the hospital some and tonight we took dinner and some very unhealthy snacks up to Seth's room so Kathryn and Leland would be spared at least ONE night in the hospital cafeteria. Seth's condition hasn't changed much in the past few days. And so we wait. I told Kathryn it's a terrible oxymoron - wanting it to be over and being scared to death it will be. We continue to pray for God's intervention and timing.

Kathryn also told me I should blog about fantasy football, I think just because it's mindless entertainment for her - ha, ha! I had another dismal week. Two of my players got hurt and left mid-game. My Seahawks defense LOST me points and their tight end scored zero in their embarrassing loss to the Giants. Two people in my league actually had worse weeks than me, but the pathetic scoring of my team seems to be becoming a pattern - BLAH! So what to do.....more adding and dropping? Begging my daughter for a trade since she's over 100 points ahead of everyone else? Pretending I just don't care? Refusing to watch Stattracker? Good thing I have these very important decisions to distract me, right Kathryn?

Oh yeah, I didn't mention that Keith and I ran away to Missoula for the weekend, took in a wedding and a movie, did a little shopping, enjoyed the ride through the beautiful colors of fall all while reading "The Shack" out loud. Enjoyable little getaway for just the two of us.

Today Whitney and Travis have been married two whole years. They are such the happy couple and we couldn't be more delighted. Being around them just makes me smile.... And I won't even mention the fact that I STILL don't have any grandkids..... :)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Ready or Not

I got an email from Kathryn this morning. It was beautiful. Her faith is NOT shaken. She is COMPLETELY trusting God with Seth. She and Leland are making decisions that are life's hardest, but they are doing it so unselfishly. There is no doubt in my mind that God gave this special baby to the perfect parents. Please continue to pray for God's intervention and that His mercy and love will reign.

This situation with Seth is SOOO familiar to Keith and me. It has brought back a LOT of memories. But as time has healed our hearts, we don't find it painful for ourselves as much as the fact that the pain we are feeling is empathy for Kathryn and Leland. We know from experience that God will carry them, but they are feeling the hardest kind of hurt that we as humans can feel. I know God hurts for that pain, too.

It's cool and cloudy today - kinda feels like my heart. I'm not ready for the change of seasons, but it will come whether I'm ready or not. Life happens whether we are ready or not. Thank God we can't see what's coming down the road. Thank God He can.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Seth Update

Please continue to pray for my friends Kathryn and Leland and their six-month old son, Seth. They got very bad news today that the neurologist doesn't feel Seth is going to be able to live on his own and the family has decided to let him go without extraordinary measures. His health is failing and know one knows for sure how long he will live. It's such a devastating situation for this family and all who know them. Please continue to pray for them as they go through this terribly painful process of giving their baby back to God.