Monday, October 31, 2011

Spun sugar, horses & candy, candy, candy

'Tis Halloween and we've done our fair share of waltzing around Wewa in search of sugary goodies. Our plan was to just hit up the trunk or treat at the elementary school, but when we ran into some friends from church and their daughters, our one stop turned into an all out trick-or-treating adventure.

Initially, Addie, or "Adelaid-y bug" as she was tonight, was pretty shy. Despite our explanations throughout the day and her excitement about dressing up as a "wadybug" and getting candy, I think she was a bit overwhelmed at first. However, by the time we left the trunk or treat and started hitting up houses, she was breaking into a run and holding out her Elmo treat catcher with the best of them. At some point during our candy quest we lost an antenna out of her hair (which we found, but she refused to let me put it back in), some of her dots made their way onto daddy and she never ended up wearing her wings. She really had a lot of fun.

The ladybug herself.

The anticipation!
Missing pom pom.

The wings that weren't.
Before tonight's candy haul we'd already taken in our fill (and then some!) at our church's Fall Festival last Saturday night. Games, bounce houses, s'mores, hot dogs, cotton candy (my favorite!), face painting and more ruled the evening. 

Addie's favorite part? The horses. I was surprised and proud of my girl when she rode with our friend, Hayley. Just this summer when Hayley stopped by our house with one of her horses, Addie would not have anything to do with riding it. Saturday night was a different story. She first rode with Hayley and later she rode all by herself. Sigh, such a big girl.

We have waaay too much candy in our house and a little girl who has waaay too good of a memory to forget about it all by morning. I'm chalking it up as free potty training treats while Sabian, as I type this, is already raiding the stash.

I am thankful for a fun weekend and night with our sweet ladybug.

A kidney, from the heart: Update

My sister wrote an update on Facebook today:

"September 6 came and went, Dan still with two kidneys. The surgery had been postponed at the last minute. The phone call came while we were sitting on the couch watching TV. We had spent Labor Day doing the sort of contradictory things you do before a big event--hurrying up and making last minute arangements while trying to somehow stockpile relaxtion time. 

We were later told the recipient was sick, sicker than the transplant coordinator had been led to believe. So, the surgery was on hold indefinitely until the recipient got well. Dan got up and went to to work the next day. He said it was surreal; he'd spent the weeks prior to the surgery getting his work projects to a point where he could hand them over. Then he walked in the door that Wednesday having to figure out how to take them back. It was all disorienting.

The recipient got well. The surgery was rescheduled for Nov. 1. Back into anticipation/preparation mode. Then, weeks later, another phone call. A glitch in scheduling that now meant Dan would have to wait for his recipient to be ready--probably after the first of next year--or he could stick with the Nov. 1 date and donate to someone else.

He called me, sounding nearly frantic. "I don't know what to do," he said. Loyalty to his original recipient made him want to wait around until the scheduling worked out. But he was mentally geared up for Nov. 1, and he knew there had to be other people who needed a kidney. He called the transplant coordinator back. "If I choose to give to someone else, how many people are on the waiting list at Barnes?" he asked. "Eight hundred people," she replied. When he told me, I said, "Give it to someone else. There are too many sick people waiting who are ready now."

He called back with his decision and was told the transplant team would begin the cross-matching process to find a new recipient. Within days, he heard back from the coordinator. She was so excited, she couldn't contain it. Organ donation is a completely blind process--when an altruistic donor offers a kidney, he is told no details about his recipient. Everything is kept confidential until the process is over and until both parties decide if they want to meet. But this was big news. This recipient had been matched with people before, and 97% of the the available donors were incompatible. Until then. Dan was a match. He was told the surgeon called the recipient and said, "You've won the lottery." I still get choked up every time I tell the story. I can't even imagine that phone call.

At times I've pictured the process as sort of a dramatic movie montage--some doctor in a lab, wearing a white coat, entering long series of numbers into a computer and then seeing some equation appear on the screen that means this person has now been given a new lease on life. I picture the lab where they mix the blood from Dan and this complete stranger and watch and wait and see that nothing's going wrong, which now means a surgeon gets to make a phone call he never expected to make. It makes all of this feel like a miracle, not science.

If altruistic organ donors are the rarest of the rare, and this person had a 3% chance of ever getting a kidney, I can't even wrap my head around the improbability of it all. My heart is full, and I am in awe of a God whose plans are so much better than anything I ever imagine."

So there you go. That's the latest! Thanks for your prayers.

A kidney, from the heart

Tomorrow, my brother-in-law will be a life saver. He will arrive at the hospital bright and early at 5:30 a.m., go through surgery prep, and a few hours later one of his healthy kidneys will find a new body in which to work.

My brother-in-law, Dan, has a calling on his heart that will finally be fulfilled.

Dan is donating his kidney to someone he has never met. This surgery was to happen several weeks ago but due to unforeseen circumstances it did not take place. As all things work together in God's perfect timing, he is scheduled for surgery tomorrow. He does know that the recipient is someone who had about a 5% chance of ever receiving a kidney and Dan happens to be a match. Again, perfect timing.

It's wild, knowing that someone has a desire to donate a kidney to a stranger. More likely is someone willing to donate to someone they already know. I'm proud of Dan and I think it's special that he's finally going to be able to fulfill this calling that took root in his heart.

My sister says it best (taken from a note she wrote on Facebook when the first surgery was scheduled):

"Have you ever had someone give you something because they "had an extra"? I've received lots of things this way--kids' clothes, gardening tools, beach towels. Generosity is often prompted by recognizing that you have more than you need.

My husband, Dan Angenend, recognized this a while ago and has decided he is ready to part with his extra. His extra kidney, that is.

If you ask him, he'll say this idea took root a long time ago. His best friend has polycystic kidney disease, a disease that often requires a transplant. What started as a joke--"If I ever need a kidney, you'd better give me one"--became a calling. Turns out, his friend isn't going to need a kidney any time soon, but somewhere around 80,000 other people in the U.S. do. So, even after learning he'd probably never need to help his friend, Dan says the drive to donate a kidney never went away. He says he can't explain it, but he just knows without question that he is supposed to do this. And on September 6, he is going to.

Altruistic donors--organ donors who give to complete strangers--are sometimes referred to as "the rarest of the rare." But it seems they all share very similar sentiments--the feeling of just knowing deep inside this is something they are supposed to do, the desire to bless someone else as they have been blessed in life, the recognition of simply being able to fill a need.

From what I've experienced so far, being an altruistic organ donor makes lots of people uncomfortable. While those in the donor medical community often say, "You are a hero," people outside this circle say, "Are you crazy?" This has been a difficult path to navigate. Full support on one side, sanity-questioning on the other.

Facing the widened eyes and shocked expressions on people's faces can be wearying. I have learned that pursuing an untraditional calling, even when it's for a good cause, can result in a person simply being labeled a weirdo. 

But, along the way, there have been those other moments: Periods of complete peace washing over me, excitement expressed by someone who knows personally what this gift means, the simple assurance of the words, "It's OK. We're going to take good care of him."

I can't say that I fully understand Dan's desire to do this. He says he doesn't really, either, but that the only explanation is that something much larger than himself is behind it. Sometimes he simply says, "It's a God thing," when people ask.

I do know, without question, that this is something that has been placed on his heart and is not going away. We all have different convictions in life. Mine might not make sense to you, and yours might not make sense to me. But I am thankful for and humbled by those people like Dan who recognize theirs and follow through. Grace and peace to them."

So, if you think of it, tonight, tomorrow, whenever, please say a prayer for Dan, my sister and their family. Pray for the kidney recipient and the road ahead of them, as well as their family.

A kidney, from the heart.

I am thankful for Dan and for his example of following through with his conviction. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Chronicles of Adelaide

A few photos from Addie's latest adventures.

Friday night football date with Daddy.
Climbing trees at the park.

Cheese! Caterpillar.
Transporting a "friend" we found inside the house to outside.

There he goes!

There he is! No fear.
Waiting for Wewa's Homecoming parade to begin.

Candy action!

Showing off some of her parade wares - while proudly supporting the Cardinals!
And a packed weekend ahead!

I am thankful for some fun days.

Baseball Butterflies

Tonight is it. Game 7 of the World Series. If the Cardinals pull out a win tonight, we've one it all.

While I'm not the world's most devoted (or knowledgeable) baseball fan, I've certainly learned more about the game and have come to appreciate it more and have more fun with it since I met Sabian. He's a hard core Cardinals fan, as are his two closest friends from college. I can't count how many phone conversations I've heard, from Sabian's side, about players, plays, errors and the like. I kind of marvel at these conversations, that they can go on forever, are so detailed and fervent, but it makes you realize that this game - baseball - really is an American passion.

Fair weather baseball fan or die hard believer, this has been an exciting World Series. First, that the Cardinals even made it at all, and now, to be playing for the world champion title after last night's game. I have to admit, I wasn't watching the game. I couldn't. I was too nervous. After reading a few stories and going through the normal bedtime routine I retreated to our office. Sabian was camped on the couch, talking to the TV. I may not have been watching, but I could gauge how things were going by Sabian's outbursts.

My stomach was in knots. I had a headache. I was trying to concentrate on other things, but I had an ear out for the cheers coming from the television. I kept thinking, "Really? Is this me?" And it was, and I was hoping for a win.

And it happened. 11th inning and one strike to go. And then this.

Sabian and I had our own hugging-jumping-up-and-down celebration in the living room. I almost wished Addie was awake, as she has been randomly yelling, "Go Cardinals!" throughout the series and asking to watch baseball. So while she slept soundly in her bed, we celebrated with the rest of the Cardinal Nation.

How fun it would be to be in St. Louis right now. How great it would be, even without game tickets (which my brother-in-law has for tonight and was there last night - jealous!), to head downtown, hang out around Busch Stadium, and take in the excitement and energy coursing through the city.

We'll rally as best as we can down here in Braves country, cheering our guys on and hoping for a win. Win or not, the Cardinals have already made history with this World Series.

Fellow Cardinals fans, aren't you just biting at the bit, to at some exciting point in your life, not matter what it might be, to be able to say..."I feel like David Freese in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series?" 

I am thankful I'm not a Rangers fan! Go Cards!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Brown paper packages

I love receiving mail. I always have, but living far from home makes receiving personal mail even more special. When I was pregnant with Addie, and in the weeks after we had her, I was often surprised with a package on my doorstep or in the mailbox. Awesome gifts from sweet friends and family and always fun to open. One of my favorite (and most surprising) packages at that time came in the form of a Cheesecake Factory cheesecake sent from some friends from our church in Illinois. I was amazed!

Over the last couple of weeks I've had some fun receiving some packages in the mail. A couple of things I've ordered and then a couple of unexpected boxes, which are the most fun. Today I received two of those surprises.

The first arrived in my mailbox. An unknown return address on a small, brown envelope. I opened it to reveal handmade pouch:

A birthday gift from my sister, it totally caught me off guard! We'd seen these on a website we follow, Very Jane. It's a site that offers deals on items for a certain period of time and when the deal is up, it's up. We'd commented back and forth about them and I considered buying one and then decided against it and forgot about it. Lo and behold, my sister knows me well and bought me one! I was so happy to see this little owl today.

The next surprise came later by UPS. I was expecting these:

My first pair of TOMS! I was pretty excited about these. Thanks to a gift card I was able to get these and have been anxiously awaiting their arrival.

I was not expecting our UPS guy to drop off two boxes and was really curious when I saw the other addressed to Adelaide. She was excited, too! Inside her box were these:

A sweet handmade smock and tooth fairy pillow from my friend Missy. She thoughtfully sent these and now Addie keeps asking for "tooth fairy" and has been wearing the smock. Missy's etsy shop is currently on vacation, but stop by and take a look at her handmade goodies.

It's been a good mail day!

I'd planned on us having a low key day, which we have, since we've been out and about this week and have a crazy weekend ahead. Addie also, seemingly out of the blue, has developed a runny nose and some congestion, so it's a good thing we laid low today. But, we were able to get out and get some flowers and Addie made a card so we could wish our neighbor and friend, Ms. Connie, happy birthday. We actually spent the evening with her just last night when she had us over for dinner. It was so nice to not have to cook and to spend some time with her since it had been a while since we'd been able to catch up with her.

This morning we had a nice short walk over to her house to deliver her flowers and card and searched for butterflies on the way back to our house. It was so nice that I almost don't want to mention the pile of fresh dog poop I stepped in, in my flip flops, on the way to her house. The bright side? At least it wasn't Addie's foot.

And that's been our day. Now it's time to get ready to get to church, cook for the kids and have service.

I am thankful for the thoughtfulness of sweet family and friends!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


The weather in the panhandle is down right bee-yootiful today. I was a little disappointed (okay, a lot) when I checked the forecast this week and saw we'd be seeing temps back into the 80s. But, I need not have been worried. The sun is shining, the breeze is blowing and the windows are still open.

I wanted to get Addie to the beach this week since it's been a while since we'd dug our toes into the sand. Seems we picked the perfect day for our little trip.

Addie filled in crab holes, built sand "towers", chased me, was chased by me, watched dolphins, scouted out stingrays and ran and ran and ran. It was a picture perfect beach day, the kind that makes you want to stay until the sun goes night night.

The water was really calm and clear today, which usually means we're likely to see some action - dolphins, jumping fish, you name it. We saw both, as well as diving pelicans and two huge stingrays. I saw their dark shadowy shapes in the water as soon as we got near and was able to get a pretty good look at one of them when he came close to shore. As Addie and I took a long walk, he followed along in the water for a while.

It was also the kind of day when you could pick up shells by the handful. I love that about Mexico Beach. Almost every time we go we can find shells and many times we've been crunching along as we walk because there are so many. We don't usually bring them home, since we already have so many, but today I did bring a few home. There were so many larger shells still intact, it was hard to pass them up.

Most of all it was fun to spend the time with Addie. I feel like we've had some really fun, bonding times in the last week or so - not without challenges, of course - but just good, quality time. Our beach time today was perfect, only made better if Sabian could have joined us.  That and subtract Addie dumping a ziploc bag of Frosted Mini Wheats cereal all over the back seat on our way home, prompting an unscheduled (but much needed) vacuuming of the car.

Sifting through all of the shells along the beach today, I couldn't help but consider God's creativity. He thought to make each one of the creatures that once inhabited those shells and made their temporary homes so unique. I'm sure each one has a purpose and does its own duty and has its own place in the water and along the shore and He designed it all. The dolphins, the stingray, the birds, the crabs - all designed by Him and each carrying out a purpose. Makes me feel small, in a way, in the grand scheme of things, yet He designed me, too, with a purpose, and although I might feel small and at times unsure of my purpose, He's designed a place for me. And, for you too!

I'm so thankful that part of my purpose is to be mom to Addie and wife to Sabian. I'm so thankful that part of that purpose meant spending some of this awesome day at the beach!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday night lights

It's Friday night and once again I am at home on my own

It's feeling more like football weather around here. This week we've had windows open to let in the cool breezes and spent some time outside enjoying the cooler temperatures. I am so thankful. 

I guess I've been in a bit of a blogging slump lately. Life has certainly been chugging along - making lists, checking them twice in preparation for the holidays, following through with promised get togethers and the everyday of the every day. I just haven't felt much like sitting down and writing. Scratch that - I want to write, I miss writing when I don't do it. Frankly, I think there's just more on my mind and heart than I'm willing to write about. At the moment, anyway. I don't say this to bait you, it's just where I am and I suppose I have been here for a while. I trust it is a time of growth and learning on my part. It's uncomfortable, unsettling and not exactly where my plan-ahead-want-to-know-what's-coming self wants to be, but I think that means I'm just where I need to be, which is to be leaning completely on my Savior, trusting in His provision and the love and grace he offers me and my little family.

At the moment, the house feels super cozy with my pumpkin spice candle burning and I can hear the loud speaker from the football game at the high school not too far away. Nothing in Wewa is too far away ;)

Speaking of pumpkin, I love this time of year and the pumpkin-y treats that I now feel justified to eat and make. Last weekend I finally tracked down Target's Archer Farms brand of pumpkin yogurt. It was on sale the week before but my three trips to Target that week yielded no pumpkin yogurt - sold out every time. We were in Panama City Beach last weekend having dinner with friends (see the above, following through with a long over due get together!) and I stopped in the Target out there and lo and behold, they had pumpkin yogurt!

I was a tad disappointed in it - the pumpkin flavor is a lot stronger than I'd expected, but it's still good. I think adding some vanilla yogurt to it might tone down some of its' spicy flavor and I added granola, which helped, too. 

Last week I also had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season and a few days later tried the salted caramel mocha at Starbucks with my free birthday drink coupon. I think the mocha may be my new seasonal favorite, but the pumpkin spice is always a good, comforting seasonal staple.

I'm excitedly anticipating Thanksgiving and Christmas - I think they are going to be a lot of fun this year. As Addie gets older and understands more, she causes me to be more excited (and prepared!). I'm trying to be diligent about getting things together as far as gifts and cards and what to make to hand out to friends here. It's fun to think about, I'm just ready to start crossing things off my list!

I suspect I will soon see a red-nosed, cheeks flushed little girl bounding through my door, so I'm off.

For those of you who read this regularly, I am thankful for you and your prayers for the three of us!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Life is Good

Sheesh, it's been a couple of weeks since I've paid much attention to this here web space. 

I come back to you a year older...sigh. But, as I sat down to write this post, as I'm remembering the hard day we had yesterday and how my joints are currently aching (thanks, Jillian Michaels), I also was just hit with a sudden feeling is good

We spent the past weekend on the road with a group of girls from church. Sabian was asked to drive the bus for an over night trip our younger girls were taking and their leader invited Addie and I to tag along. We headed to Georgia with 12 middle school girls and a few adults and a good, albeit whirlwind, time. It was good to get to know some of the adults who went, people we go to church with and may "know" but I feel I had some good conversation with them this weekend. It was a fast, tiring trip, but I am glad we went. Addie was a great traveler and enjoyed all of the attention from the girls. However, yesterday and today I feel like we've been paying for just how fast the trip was.

Yesterday was a whiny, crying, not listening type of day for Addie. For me, I was exhausted and my fuse was short. Put the two of us together and it was a rough pair. But, we made it through the day to today, a new day with a better outlook.

Add on to my exhaustion that I feel like an 80 year old woman and I feel like I've been run over. Sabian and I have been working out with Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred and have tried to be as consistent as possible. The last time we worked out was either last Thursday or Friday, so I was surprised when I was feeling really sore yesterday. It seemed like too many days had passed for my pain to be contributed to the last workout but as of today I'm convinced it had to be that, and possibly us hitting the ground running with the trip has magnified it. Whatever it is, my joints hurt and weirdly, my wrists and forearms are so sore. I think I'm skipping the walk out push ups from now on...

This leads me to my birthday. While it was a great day, this is the first year since I turned 30 that I have really given thought to my age. Even when I turned 30 I didn't dwell on it. I enjoyed 30 and have really had fun in my 30s. Now I'm undoubtedly in my mid-30s, which is so weird to me. It gives more meaning to a conversation I had with my aunt several years ago (she is now in her 80s), when she said that even though her age changed, she always felt the same inside. That's exactly how I feel. I'm not dwelling on the number, but I did think more about it in the days leading up to my birthday. But, the day more than made up for any birthday blues I might have had.

Addie and I had a sweet day together, blowing bubbles, chalk writing on the driveway and enjoying the beautiful day. Sabian had arranged for a babysitter that night and we went to a movie (in the THEATER!), dinner and then went for dessert. It was so nice to have the day with Addie and the evening with my sweet husband. I felt good and I felt loved. I'd already had celebrations with both of our families when we were home a few weeks ago and this was icing on my proverbial birthday cake.

Shove aside the aches and pains and the challenging days we might have, I am thankful. As we're entering this holiday season I know I have a lot to be grateful for and I want to be able to go against my pessimistic grain and recognize these things, even on the days that are difficult.

If this picture doesn't show me what I have to be thankful for, I don't know what does!

Birthday photo with my sweet girl.