Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014 - Ready or Not

As I sit down to update our blog, I have to ask myself why I continue to write. And I realize it's therapeutic for me. It's as if I've sat down at Grandma and Grandpa's kitchen table to chat with them. I want Abi & Zach's life documented so when they ask, "What was I like when I was X years old?", if I'm not here, they know.
Since the last blog post in September, we had a few significant changes in life. We enjoyed 2 1/2 wonderful weeks in Minnesota and North Dakota in September / October. Steven and I hunted with Dad, Malcolm, Matt, Dane, and Chandler. The boys got another hunt in on the way to Nick & Jenn's wedding in North Dakota also. Zach and Abi got to play play play with their cousins, have Grandma and Grandpa Swecker babysit them and even Aunt Christine got to watch them an afternoon while I got time to hunt. Nick & Jenn's wedding was beautiful and off course, it was great to have so much family together.

Life changed drastically just a few days before Halloween when we received the call that Grandpa Swecker had passed away very peacefully in his sleep. As I pause a moment to collect my thoughts... I am filled with memories of joy, laughter and sheer love when thinking of Gramps. Of the essay about him being like Santa that I wrote in 5th grade and received a prize for, of the way he'd let me sit on the ledge of the tractor cab when I was little instead of trying to buck hay, how he's always tell you to "Practice up!' when you got done play cards, how he always had a smile for you and asked how you were and truly meant it. What an amazing example of loving people. While I'm not sad to know Grandpa is with our heavenly Father, I miss him. I miss knowing he'll be home with a big bear hug next time I arrive in Minnesota. But I'm so grateful for so many wonderful memories. And that Abi may remember him. Of course it was fun to have 17 of 19 grandkids home at the farm for Grandpa's funeral as well. And all 7 of his kids.

The week before Thanksgiving, I had a hysterectomy for what was believed to be endometriosis. In a nutshell, we found out it wasn't but some health issues have been resolved by surgery. On the bright side, surgery went very well and recovery much easier than anticipated. Mom came out to help with the kids and running the house. We were spoiled with her help and cooking. Steven was a great nurse as well.

This was our very first Christmas that we got to stay home the entire holiday! Abi and her preschool sang at church and then we went to the fire station with Annie to have dinner with Steven and his crew. The rest of the Sakaguchi family made it up then.  Everybody headed over to our house Christmas morning for breakfast, presents, playing with new toys, a camp fire and then a hike around the golf course trail. It was a beautiful day and fairly warm considering the very cold snap we'd had leading up to Christmas. Abi would probably tell you her favorite gifts were a unicorn glow pet and a robot cat.  Zach hasn't stopped playing with his dumptruck flash light and a T ball set for the backyard.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Work and Play

As mentioned before, Steven's been busting his rump with overtime this summer. With Abi's medical bills and the new roof going on this week, what a blessing! And what a blessing that he has that overtime available. So that's also meant a few house projects have been tackled. Like finding and then pumping the septic tank. Finding was key.  A friend of Steven's from the fire world came over one morning and they went treasure hunting in the back yard. Boy did they strike gold.... on the 4th try. Funny how the memory forgets where something like the septic tank is. Or maybe it wandered off on its own.  So now we'll install a riser so the next pumping isn't quite so much fun. Of course the kids loved the fresh piles of dirt that were in the yard... I'm still working on the resulting muddy clothes.
The kids have started their school year program/curriculum at day school and it seems that fall has settled in. At least until today. Our weather is back up in the 80s and we're expected to hit 90 by midweek. The garden harvest is still in full swing with peppers, green beans and tomatoes.  We're pretty excited to have 4 HUGE pumpkins on the vines too. But with all the schools in session, I thought it might be a slower time to take the kids to the beach for the day. Steven was transferred to Station 3 in Oak Grove which is a very busy station so I knew that coming off shift, he might need a nap rather than a day trip out to the coast. So, on his first shift at 3s, the kids and I took off and headed for the beach. What a great time! The weather was gorgeous and mid70's. Praise the Lord, the kids had a healthy fear of the waves after Z was tipped over by a sneaker wave and we played for a few hours in the sand. Two good listeners get rewards, so we made a pit stop at the salt water taffy shop and got taffy to share with Daddy's crew when we visited on our way home.

Labor Day Weekend

We were happy to spend Labor day weekend at home! Evi had just returned from the Alaska cruise she, Annie, Steve & Stephie went on so she spent a few days here with us before flying back to NYC. We're thrilled she'll be moving to Portland in October. I was ecstatic to watch the kids and her; it's as if she's always just been down the street. Prime example (I love this photo): As I was prepping dinner one of the few nights, I looked out the window and there's Z, naked as he prefers to be, sittin' on Auntie's lap, fishing in his pool. Love it!

Summer fun

Steven is a sun baby. No way of getting around it. So while our camping trip to Prineville ended up being a wet, soggy central Oregon trip, we took another chance to head over for a few days. We took off and met our friends Dusty and Kayla and their foster daughter K who's one month older than Zach. I had just gotten a cortisone injection to the hip so we enjoyed lots of walks, a 10+ mile bike ride and hours at the pool. Needless to say, I think Steven would spend an entire month in the sun if he had a chance! And it was well earned this summer as he worked lots of overtime so that we could pay for the new roof that is scheduled to start 9/10!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Off to a great start!

Our July was supposed to be our quiet month. And overall, I would say we did a decent job being home, taking in the local summer fun and getting in lots of time in the yard. The chickens are laying anywhere between 2-4 eggs a day, the garden is bursting with harvest and despite our dry summer, we've managed to keep the part of the yard the kids play in most slightly green for their little bare feet. And wow, its August already!

August is typically fire season around here. I'm personally grateful that Steven is a few task book signatures short of being deployed on a conflagration as we've already had a busy fire season statewide. Oregon currently has #1 priority for conflagration resources in the West. Rare for us to beat out California! Regardless, since he is unable to be deployed at this time, it means the shifts left vacant by those deployed, the few injured officers, and the countless vacation shifts since those with school age kids are all taking off before school starts are Steven's for the taking. He was frugal and took few shifts over the winter and spring months so is high on the list for overtime options.  What a blessing from God!  Between Abi's dental bill and her upcoming hospital bill (she's scheduled for her tonsillectomy on Monday 8/12) and our new roof going on in a few weeks, God provides a way for large bills to be paid. Each time I ask God, "How's this going to work out?" I get a response of, "I've got this. Watch."

The kids and I started August with Daddy working a 72 hour shift. We then had him home for 48 hours before he left this morning to start another 72 hour shift. There were a few fires today alone in the district so I know he has a huge smile on his face.

For us at home, we've been having fun too.  We took off and did the SHOC Empowerment walk with our very dear friend Kayla and her foster daughter K (photo not allowed for that reason).  Zach and K are one month apart in age and we play often with them. Kayla is celebrating just over two years as an ovarian cancer survivor so I was thrilled to participate in the walk again with her. Our goal was to kick last year's time as she really hadn't fully bounced back from chemo then and we've been walking often this summer.  We polished off our 5k walk in just under an hour. I was the very first finisher with a double stroller; an extra 68 pounds in my case! With my hip issue over the last year (one year this week actually), I was thrilled with our time and that I was able push both kids.

Our friends Nick and Alicia who have often watched Abi and Zach had their baby this June. We finally had a chance to watch Lucy for them. Abi was quite the helper: grabbing diapers and wipes, reading her books, giving her a pacifier and then wanting to feed her.  Zach loves Lucy and is "very" helpful as well: he'll "hold" her (try to pick her up on his own!) and give her a pacifier (shove it in her mouth whether she's interested or not) and gives her countless kisses.

The kids have a firefighter movie that they watch over, and over, and over, and over. In fact, they know many of the lines by heart. Abi will tell you exactly what type of apparatus she sees anywhere we go and in any media (pumper, aerial ladder, rescue, brush truck, etc.) and they both talk about being firefighters. Abi often says she's going to be a wildland helicopter pilot.  As a former safety/risk professional, I pray about this often. Needless to say, Daddy is definitely their hero. They were very excited last night when he was moving his gear and let them put on his mask.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Family! Yay!

The very last week of July was an exciting week for us. We actually have some Swecker family near us now! And by near, I mean within a couple hours. So exciting! Merle, Stacie and Morgan have been stationed at Fort Lewis just two hours north into Washington. To help with their move, Mom and Dad took the drive with them and the girls (Tess & Morgan).  Following Abi's sedation dental appointment in which she had two root canals and more than a dozen fillings (her enamal hasn't properly formed), we drove north and picked up Grandma and Grandpa from the Sweckers. Boy was that a hearty dose of Seattle/Tacoma traffic for us all! Annie had come up to watch Zach while we were at Abi's appointment so she hung around until we arrived home and we enjoyed dinner together before she headed south.

We enjoyed a great long weekend with Grandma and Grandpa. We took in Damascus days. If you know Zach, you'll be shocked to hear he actually waited in line for 20+ minutes for his turn to fish in the little fishing pool. He hooked one, but lost it before they netted it. Regardless, he talks about fishing often. Who'd have guessed his patience!
We also headed up Hood and got a few miles in on the Salmon River trail. What a gorgeous day on the river! 
Monday evening of that weekend, Sweckers came down and stayed in the camper so that Mom, Dad and Tessa could fly back to Minnesota Tuesday morning. I had a work meeting and Steven knows the route to the airport so that morning, Abi and Zach stayed home with Merle, Stacie and Morgan. When I left, Abi and Zach were sitting on Merle's lap watching Monsters, Inc. This week, I hear, "Washington Washington Washington" coming from our back seat in the car. I asked Abi, "What's Washington?"  She says, "Its where Uncle Merle, Auntie Stacie and Morgan live Mom!" Yes, we're excited to have family close. And it warms my heart beyond words that within hours of meeting, my children took to Sweckers as if they've always lived a few hours away and not a few thousand miles away.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


What a wonderful time of year! We've had two cuttings of broccoli and enough lettuce that I've given 6 heads of it away. The beans, tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, pumpkin, zucchini, basil, carrots, and peas are all growing great guns too.  The kids and I did just plant another crop of peas and lettuce to have ready when I pull these plants. I couldn't find Zach this afternoon in the yard... and there he was. Eating the broccoli right off the plant!

And we have our first egg! I heard quite the commossion coming from the coop as Abi and I were leaving to pick up Zach from our friend's house. So I later went to let the girls out and just thought I'd check the nesting boxes. And there it was! The reason Daisy was making SUCH an INSANE ruckus earlier today.
We're enjoying have the five chickens though Steven's said a few nice words having the luck of stepping in the "natural fertilizer" found around the yard when the girls have been allowed to range frequently. The two younger hens aren't quite full grown yet and likely won't start laying until mid-late August. 
Belle & Sticky
Daisy, Pocket & Rocket