Thursday, June 19, 2014

Feeling like I should post

Hello again.

There's a couple of things I wanted to write down.

Like, Father's Day was rough. I'm going to leave it at that.

2. Being responsible for a little person can be so rewarding and it can make you feel like there's a to do list 100 lines long.   Ryan is 3.5 and hadn't had her well visit until now. Also, she tends to turn her head when she watches tv of focuses on something. It was concerning because it became pretty pronounced.   All of our doctor's visits this week went well. Ryan is completely healthy... eyes, body, mind. So thankful for that.

3. I started a part-time job, and although I'm not going to speak to exactly what it is that I do. It's amazing. I feel so grateful to be helping people live life and become apart of their community.

4. I've been ravenously reading, and I haven't been like this before ever. I've always had a book going or so, but now, it's like I just can't stop. I'm so glad to have some time-- or that I'm making time for it these days.

5. All my bloodwork and health stuff for baby Lenz is perfect. I couldn't ask for a better pregnancy (or could I?) But, I feel like I still have quite of bit of work to do around the house to prepare. And, I don't know if I'm ready to jump into that quite yet. Seems tiring!

Otherwise, I've been pretty sentimental. It's probably hormones, but I'm sure thankful for my adult life. Not that my childhood was bad persay, but my adult life is so great. I'm so grateful that I've been given a life- a life to feel happy, supported, and loved. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My 100th post

When I think about the day I started this blog, I think about Wilson, Wyoming. I was a nanny and adventuring in the wild west. I had been dating Adam for several months, and I was smitten (not to mention that he was as well.)  I lived in a little loft- sharing it with a roommate. And, I worked two jobs- Jackson Hole Mountain resort in the kids rental shop.

I had so many adventures in the mountains. I learned to hike in for skiing and downhill ski at the sickest mountain. Every night I came home smelling like formula, and Adam and I made meals after our work days. Adam lived out of his truck for months until he moved everything across the country to our apartment.

I think about in the nearly 7 years that I've been dating Adam how much fun we had and how many things I've learned. Plus, how many sweet destinations to which we've traveled together. I knew back then that Adam was special, but I probably didn't quite see that he would be my husband or the father of my children. I think it's amazing that we grew up rather close in proximity, but we had to both move almost two thousand miles away to meet each other.  To have our first dance on the Fourth of July, and to learn how wonderful love, real genuine love, can be.

I think a lot about us- and relationships, and I seemingly try to be thankful and appreciative of our blessings. My blessing in him and our daughter and, now, our future child.  We all know that every relationship takes work, but I have to say, some of my favorite moments are still just us. I get so excited for date nights, and our time just being us. It gets challenging with the daily do's to keep it husband and wife or "boyfriend and girlfriend." But, those little date nights even when we're tired to just talk and be fun are so important and special. 

I married a man with a free spirit- someone who loves to travel but also loves to work and work hard. He has a great sense of humor and makes me laugh.  The one thing about me- is that I am also free-spirited and I have a hard time staying stagnant, in one place. I've adjusted but the last year was so significant for me. I feel as though I can carry those hikes/places/ people with me for a while without feeling like I need to get out of Missouri. I get to be more free (with my time) now too since I work part time. That is also a significant change since I have always worked sometimes two jobs at once.

Basically, my 100th post is dedicated to Adam, my husband. He supports me in whatever endeavor or dream that I have, and he genuinely has a love for me like I've never felt.  He encourages me to go for my dreams, being a writer, and gives me the space that I enjoy to think and play and be.  We've been through hard things together, and it could be easy to dwell on the hard/difficult stuff.  I know we've had moments where it seemed insurmountable.

Either way, we kept hiking forward and through some darkness. I hope that we continue hand in hand because it's so much easier together.  There are no words for my appreciation and love for you. All I can say is that you mean so much to me and I am better with you.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day

This holiday has a new significance for me this year. I love my country- I love the USA, and I feel that we are blessed. Probably too much with the convenience of anything we want or need at our disposal. We have a huge responsibility to each other to not to abuse this priviledge; however, we do.

Here's the thing: This experience at my Dad's funeral- receiving the flag was a moment in my life that I was proud to be an American. Proud to know my father served our country, and I gained a new appreciation for the country I was born and raised. We get so caught up in the battles that we forget we are given land, land to live in, land to have fun and play. We have accessible jobs, and we live on more than $2.00 a day- the amount of money people in real poverty stricken nations live on.

My Dad's casket was draped with this flag. And, we he was removed from the hertz, the soldiers saluted him. I was designated to receive the flag- and I knew this.  But, the true beauty of the ceremonious practices just maintained a high regard for those who served, and the words spoken to me from the president of the United States were clear and respectful.

Taps- gets me every time- as if I wasn't already balling. And, the service men folded the flag, which I didn't know had so much significance. I found this online:  Incredible.  I also wanted to know what to do with the flag. It's been sitting in our living room on our ottoman greeting us as we walk in everyday, and I wanted to make sure I was treating it with respect.

The funeral practices with the military opened my eyes to a real military. It's not the one we see on the news- not the one that seems so distant. It became real to me. It became a thing that I am utmost appreciative.

The flag is hanging appropriately in the front of our house. And, I LOVE IT! It's just a real reminder of America- the people who make it up. The people who love our country and die for our country- who serve our country.  When I've travelled outside of the US, returning home to American soil is familiar. It's home.

Being at the funeral, and facing east-  we had a moment as we were in our final prayers to lie my Dad to rest, and this breeze- I mean a noticeable, beautiful, Holy Spirit breeze swept across us. It was, to me, Dad's final touch- as if he was pleased by all that was said and done.  Maybe it's my imagination, but it felt so real. It was a real moment. A final signoff.

Here's the thing- maybe you're tired of reading about stuff like this. Stuff that's sad, or hard, or sad. But, I'm moved to write. It's been the best advice I've been given so far. So, sorry it's sad. But, you know what, there are seasons. And, I'm in this season. So, know that I'm genuinely happy- but, I've got to trudge through this writing with you/crying with you/smiling with you. 

Anyway, this year, I'm thankful to be American. I'm glad to know all of you who served. And, Thank you.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Grief and other words

Hello, you. I'm really sorry about not writing. I have a couple of posts that I wrote, and I didn't publish. I have had quite the year- 2014 has been interesting and challenging. It seems strange to refer to this year as passing so quickly, yet it has. And, there has been great joy and great sadness. I haven't put my feelings on my blog- probably because I wasn't ready and also because I feel like this process is something that I'm really struggling.

Let me say this. I feel like I should write  a book. I feel like I have a wonderful testament to someone who has to be alone dealing with the death of a parent. And, I don't mean that I don't have support, but I do feel as though I am the single only person who feels waves of grief with few people to talk to. The most interesting part of this is that I have found the most comfort in the most unlikely of places.   I should say: My dad died from pancreatic cancer 4 months after being diagnosed.  It was so swift- there aren't words to describe some of the feelings of the few days I had left to call, talk, and see my dad. A really unfortunate thing that people don't talk about is how, no matter the scenario, you'll feel some guilt. And, your mind will replay the last day over, over, over, over, and over again.
No matter how other people think you did- or think you are doing- it's just you, alone, to deal with your feelings.  And, after the funeral, let me tell you is even more. 

I do feel that my dad, Barry Evan Sterling, was an amazing person (really! I'm sure every daughter does who has a good relationship with their dad.) since his life was so interesting. My dad was born in Washington, D.C. and his parents divorced. He has an older brother, and my dad was in Maryland until he was 17 when my uncle who went to University of Memphis came to get him. He was skipping school- going to museums and being with his girlfriend. Ultimately, he left Maryland and came to Memphis and graduated from Messick high school in Memphis. He later left and started college at Mississippi College, but he didn't finish there. My dad went into the army, and did especially well there. He returned to Memphis and he and my uncle started the Sterling Realtors Company where they had a hand in nearly all real estate  through the 1970's. They were a power-house together- both my uncle and my dad were in the multi-million dollar real estate sales club, and they were successful in the Tennessee Legislature. My dad overtook the chair in the legislature that my uncle had preceded for four terms. He held the seat for 3 terms. And in that time, he was also nominated and served as a delegate for the Constitutional Convention where he traveled to Europe and I'm assuming discussed world politics and such.

There's a story behind this part of his life, that I'm not very educated. My dad had a first wife, adopted a son, and also travelled back and forth to Nashville often during this time. The in's and out's, I'm mostly unaware, but I do know that my dad loved the family life which I will discuss more later.

In the 1980's, my dad dated and eventually married and met my mother. Prior to this, he had a relationship who would be the love of his life (hindsight is 20/20.), and he maintained a relationship with this woman til the very end. They didn't marry for several reasons, but children being one of those reasons. And, without this marriage to my mom, I wouldn't have been the daughter to an amazing human. 

My first memories are in Williston at our house on Ebenezer Loop. It was called Deja Vu.  My dad was the stay-at- home parent, and I don't remember much of my life without him. They built an addition to this old home. My grandmother (Helen who passed last Feb) lived right next door, and my mother's parents lived about 10 minutes from our home.  This homestead was seemingly a beautiful home and he created it the way he liked it. He would do this one other time, but Deja Vu was the home of a lifetime. We had a garden, a beautiful back porch. A gazebo, horses and cows, and even a cupola.  My childhood was good there. My dad started a Christian radio station in Somerville, and I spent the house after pre-school dancing there. It's no longer there, but it was where the Somerville bank and trust is on the square in Somerville now.  My dad drove his 1980 Chevrolet custom deluxe truck my entire life- as long as it wasn't being worked on.

This truck is seriously a tank. My brother and my dad would drive down Ebenezer Loop- my brother hanging on the step-side jumping off to get trash.  And, eventually, I would do the same. I thought it was so cool. She was "Brown Betty," and Dad would come pick me up at school in it, and I would be almost mortified. Also, we took a trip to St. Louis in it, in one day, and those were the times where gas was $.75. We went to the arch and to the Anheuser Busch brewery.  We didn't get home until so late, but looking back, he loved that day. We would visit Arkansas in it, and drive around Memphis. For my graduation from high school, my dad gave me the truck, and on my way home, something happened. I didn't make it home. But it was sweet!  Eventually, I returned it back to Dad, and he continued to use it.  It never was very far away- and my dad bought it brand new from the dealership with the options he wanted. No electric windows... three in the tree, etc.  Now, it's part of me and it's just a reminder of all of the daily tasks he did.

As I grew up, we had our outs, but having my dad's relationship was very valuable. When I was a senior in college, I would invite Dad to our apartment where I would make a lunch or Sunday afternoon dinner. He enjoyed it.  When I moved to Wyoming, I called Dad as much as I could.  It was pretty much his idea from the beginning to work at a National park. And, I know he wasn't always glad I was so far away, I know he was glad to hear about my adventures.  My experience with travel was always with him -significant travel anyway. In sixth grade, we went to Paris and New York City.  Earlier that that, we went to Washington, DC. My love of travel was ignited by these trips
and it hasn't ceased to exist.

Before my teaching stent in Chile, my dad and I had date nights on Friday nights during my 3 months at home. And, for me, this is one of my best memories. My dad was a fantastic cook, and I begged him to make me meals. I think I made one at that time, and he wasn't impressed. He often critiqued my cooking, but he was a gourmet. I'm talking so good. I'll miss that a lot.

We had some awesome times here in St. Louis too. He came to see my first apartment here, and my first house.  He walked me down the isle and gave me away. Last summer, He drove Ryan and I to my sister-in-law's house in Searcy, Arkansas. And, my father celebrated his 70th birthday here in my house in St. Louis.

In a nutshell, quick version, this is how we spent our short time. My dad was 41 when he had me, and looking at it now, it seems so short. This is hard for me to say: I could have gone another decade with my dad. I called my Dad every day for the last four months, and some days, there were no words. Just checking in- there would be times I wouldn't know he was in the hospital. I could hear in his voice sometimes that he was hurting. I spent three weeks in Memphis in  February, and he was pretty sick. Dad was in the hospital for a few days, and I was so sick with this pregnancy. We had some nice talks and Ryan spent some time with him.

I asked my dad about this job offer that I had, and I didn't realize it  then. But, it would be the last advice I would ask him for. And, of course, I'm glad I did. My dad entered the hospital on Apr. 5, and I didn't get to talk to him for days. It was excruciating, and just hearing his voice a few days later- I wept with gladness.  I would come down thru Memphis, the next Saturday and we would spend some hours talking and hugging. Our last photo would be taken this weekend. 

My dad had a stent place in January from his pancreas to his liver. A duct was blocked causing jaundice and pain. This is when they fully discovered the mass in the pancreas that metastasized to the liver. During our visit this Saturday in April, it was found that the stent has caused sepsis, and either we could elect to replace the stent or not. My dad elected it, and it was an unsuccessful procedure. The cancer was so overgrown they couldn't reach the location of the stent. And, this was the beginning of the end. My dad seemed fine with the decision to do the procedure, and gave me peace about us continuing on the trip to Gulf Shores. So we went... and came back early.

This next part is hard for me to write- because it's a life. And, I made decisions about life. I knew what Dad wanted.  After the unsuccessful procedure, my dad's kidneys stopped functioning correctly. His lungs started filling up with fluid. As soon as I heard this, we came to Memphis to the hospital. When I got there, I couldn't rouse my dad. I spoke to him and held his hand- then a wonderful nurse woke him up.  And, then, I cried.

I gave the ultimate news, that he would be going to see the Lord. (let me say this now, going through this without knowing Jesus, and the Lord, for me would have been impossible.) I told him I wasn't ready to say good-bye.  And, he said, "You don't have to."  The next day, I would talk to the doctors, who really aren't that helpful- and told them just to make him comfortable.  That afternoon he went on the palliative care floor. His voice continued to wither and he only wanted to drink apple juice.  That evening, Adam and I went to visit, and he gave some last pieces of advice.  Adam and I went to Good Friday service, were I was so sad.

At six am the next morning, I got up, bought some apple juice, and went to the hospital. I held his hand in the quiet eerie room, shook him to try to rouse him, and he looked at me for the last time. He wasn't able to communicate. His skin hot, and his mouth open gasping for air, I kissed him and hugged him. I spoke with the nurse, and I went outside. I sat in my car, praying out loud to God. My Lord was with me, his presence in the car with me. And, God answered my prayer. He took my dad 45 minutes later.

And, it was the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. The next week I would speak at his funeral, and I would learn about many people who loved Dad and he loved. 

It's been a month, and things kind of fall off.  People move on, and things get easier, but I still miss him. Grief is a very powerful emotion, but I want to write this. I can't explain to you how important love is, and how love can overcome anything. The love that I felt from my dad is something that is special. And, if you can, show an amazing love to those you love. Life is so short, and we seems to forget that.  As for a parent, you are an extension of them.  Remember that they aren't perfect, but now, being a parent, they love you so much. Even if they aren't perfect.... just know that they love you. And, show them you love them. If there is hurt or pain, forgive, forgive, forgive.  Love can heal all wounds.

This is for you, Dad.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Relying on God, the Father

Hello. Blog. It's been a long time. My life is changed again. I have been thinking of writing very often, but I didn't know when the right time would reveal itself. But, here it is. The last few months have been challenging in new, wonderful and terrible ways.

We had some lovely holidays, and on New Year's Day, I discovered that I was/am pregnant. And, we're thrilled. Although that creates it's own challenges, I'm looking forward to having our second child. And, I'm 16 weeks along, and happy to be out of the first trimester. I can only say/write thankful things as it was absolutely delightful compared to my pregnancy with Ryan. So, we're heading for a new bundle of joy, and I'm so grateful to be blessed with another gift from God. All healthy so far, and my journey this time is planning on being much changed from my first. No hospital, no doctor (persay), and no interventions. I'm definitely scared, but I believe this will be an amazing experience for my second time around.

Not two weeks later after this, we discovered that my dad had a mass in his pancreas. And, he was later diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I was in shock and sad as well as finding myself in a great deal of prayer to God. God, Jesus, and the holy spirit- And, a visit followed to Tennessee whereas new challenges and difficulties surfaced. Seeing my dad suffering and starving for life is so hard. And, as I've seen cancer in another loved one, I'm worried and scared for my Dad.

So far, that's what I feel I can write. But, all in all, I'm thankful. I'm happy that I have my dad to call and talk to when I need. And, I am in need of writing- to express all these things inside my head. So, here's to a start.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Planning for our Departure and Arrival

I have some plans in the works. I have come to the conclusion that I am a busy body. I have recently noticed that my husband and I work well together because we motivate each other. I've been racking my brain over things I can do to improve my life and my overall situation. I recently was pressed to try something new, and take a chance to do something I love: Cook.
Well, I do love to cook, but I also love to entertain. And, I'm taking on a challenge by hosting a home cooking class at my house (that is still in the middle of a remodel). I'm opening myself up for people to see my life, but I'm also trying to move to do something that I love. I have been cooking for a long time. I don't have cooking credentials, but I do have experience. I have been published twice for my recipes as a child: 1. Zucchini Spaghetti and 2. High-Hat Lobster Bisque.  I have been ravenous through cookbooks and read many magazines with which I experiment. I have read thousands of cooking blogs, and I own many cookbooks. The biggest thing that I have discovered since we've been travelling is that I don't even need cookbooks anymore. I'm sure that my repertoire of recipes was essential to me finally discovering my ability to find textures and flavors that I love.

On November 4, I am hosting a home cooking class at my home. It's a super cheap way to have a meal, but also to encourage those who cook every night to try new, interesting recipes. I had mentioned this idea to my husband months ago, but he seemed to think it wasn't a good idea at the time.  As a result, I decided to wait, and I have found that this  is the right time for such an event.

I have taken several cooking classes. One of which was from the Viking Culinary Institute in Memphis and the others have been in various locations. The most significant experience that I draw from often is my travel. When traveling, I go to local markets, prepare food inside or outside on little equipment, and devour delicious meals. I have noted these meals and chronicled the cooking I have done in Chile, Europe, and across the United States. I hope to encourage others to continue to have family meals and to spend time together around the dinner table. This is something I am very passionate about since I did not grow up having meals around the home dinner table. And I am very opinionated about it because currently in my life it is so important.

Some of you may be reading this and not live in the St. Louis area- I hope to post the recipes that I use on the November 4 cooking class here. If you have questions, email me or facebook me. I'm a huge believer in NOT spending all day in the kitchen, but I do believe in healthy, accessible meals with whole food ingredients... no HFCS, no highly processed foods.

Thanks for reading, y'all! It's going to be a good November.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Things I love about Dubois, Wyoming

 1. Every time I look out my window, I see snow covered Slate Mountain.
2. Best story time: drop your child off for 5 bucks, and they get lunch.
3. It smells like sage everywhere.
4. People are still close to the earth in that, gardens are close... and we use up everything we have. Groceries are darn expensive here. Except bananas- $0.29 a pound.
5. Sundays are sundays- nobody is open.
6. Anywhere you walk, you feel like you are still in the wilderness.
7. The wind river twists like 8 times in the middle of town.
8.There is a cool playground, and they have bikes for anyone to use.
9. The aspens.
10. The opportunity shop is the best thrift shop in the whole world because of the FREE box.
11. Yoga at Wind River Yoga.
12. It's colder- not humid at all. Wood stove kind of weather. Awesome.
13. Cinnamon Italian Sodas from Kathy's Coffee Shop.
14. The library has free books all the time.
15. People are really friendly here. Genuine.
16. Cowgirls and Cowboys thrive here.

It's a beautiful, fun place. And, it's a small town like where I'm from. It's nice to be thankful for these small wonderful things here in Dubois, Wyoming.