Thursday, December 31, 2009

Let's try this one more time.....

Okay, so things got busy (and complicated). But that's really no excuse for the complete abandonment of my blog. It's really sad, and I've truly missed this outlet, so I'm going to give this another try. Please be kind if I fall off the wagon again, but I promise to do better than last year (that will not be hard!!!).

We're not sad around here to see 2009 come to an end. It was truly a challenging year on many levels, and we can only look to a brighter and more uneventful 2010!!!

Anyway, this year's new year's resolutions are pretty simple.
  • Take more photos. In fact, the challenge will be to take at least one photo a day for the entire year. I may start a new blog just for my photographic record of the year, but that's pretty optimistic. We'll have to see how it goes.
  • Write more thank you notes! I'm getting better, but still have room for improvement.
  • Spend more time with the kids and ignore the dishes in the sink! I'm giving myself permission to let some things slide around the house in order to have more quality time with the kiddos.
  • Reconnect with some of my dearest friends and family! I have to make a huge effort to call more, write when I can, and set aside time to spend with the people I care about. I've really let some of my relationships slide and haven't been the best friend that I can be to those I care about. I will do better.
  • SHOW my family how much I love them, and not just with lip service! They really are my greatest source of joy and happiness, and I need to let them see that!
Well, that's about it. Nothing to crazy or unrealistic. Hopefully, this way I might even reach a few of them by next year's end!! And if I can manage to lose a little weight too, that'd be okay by me!!!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year, and many blessings to you and yours!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Home Sweet Home!

Well, what an eventful few weeks! As most of you know, my youngest daughter was hospitalized last weekend with a horrible virus and is finally home again! We went to the hospital on Thursday (for what we thought might be an overnight stay) and ended up with a 4 day marathon event. She was so sick, and honestly, it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I can't convey how difficult it is to watch your own child endure the constant poking, prodding, and discomfort involved with a hospital stay. I can't imagine what parents of "truly ill" children face on a daily basis, and for that I will be eternally grateful (my heart really goes out to them)! Anyway, she's doing much better now, and M and I are so thankful for all of you who lifted our family up in prayer during those rough days. AND... a big shout out to my in-laws who came down on a moments notice to take care of our other kids while M and I attend to little L. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

L not too happy to be at the hospital!

L starting to feel a little better!

M and L making the best of the situation!

L helping pack once we found out we get to go home (right before her IV was removed)!

Anyway, thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers! It truly sustained us in a very trying time, and we are so lucky to have such a great support group of family and friends!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lance, and Levi, and David! Oh My!

The family as we get ready to watch stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California!

Team Astana leads the peloton (and race leader Levi Liepheimer) into Pasadena.

Lance Armstrong (center of photo, black bike w/ yellow helmet) escorting Levi, right behind him in blue and yellow.

C enjoying the park before the ride home.

T being the daredevil she is on the swings!

And finally, little L playing peek-a-boo with the camera!

Well, talk about a dream come true! Matt, the kids and I have all had the AWESOME experience of attending part of the Amgen Tour of California. For those of you that don't know me well, I am a totally obsessed groupie avid fan of men's cycling. I know all the American riders and follow them and their teams. It's lucky for me that my husband is into it too, or he would probably be bothered that I can talk about these men as if they were my boyfriends part of my family.

Anyway, my adventure started last Thursday, when we went to Visalia to see the start of the 5th stage of the race. The course was 134.3 miles and it was estimated to take a grueling minimum of 5 hours to complete. We barely got there before the race started (with all 3 kids in tow, it's a wonder we made it before the race started at all!), but were able to get some awesome pictures of the peloton before they pedaled off for Paso Robles. It was AMAZING, but very brief. My sweet husband felt bad and could tell that I was slightly disappointed that we didn't get to see and do more (there were other people walking around with autographs of riders, bags of team paraphernalia, and souvenirs from the event). He then offered to drive us to a point on the racing course and cut the riders off so we could see them one more time (how much do I love my husband)!

First, we got some lunch and let the kids play at a local park in Visalia. We needed to let them stretch their legs and burn off some energy before another long car ride out into the middle of nowhere. We all made it to the intersection of Highways' 41 and 46 (and for all of you history buff's, it's the location where James Dean was killed in a car accident in 1955). It was a total circus there, with what seemed to be every CHP officer in California attempting to control the chaos. We had arrived just in time, got an amazing spot to view the race, and waited for the peloton to arrive. Seriously, I was ecstatic with joy and anticipation - I mean, these are some of the world's best athletes and I had an up close and personal view of the action. And did I mention that we were basically ALONE on that highway with the best view anywhere. I was giddy as a schoolgirl so incredibly excited, with camera and video recorder in hand, just waiting and watching all the action unfold around me.

We had parked the car just off the Highway, but didn't want to go too far off onto the dirt (after all, we didn't want to get stuck there). The kids were all in the car with the back hatch up, facing the direction the riders would be approaching. This way they could move around but not be on the road and in harm's way (the cyclists can get upwards of 40 mph when in a big group and going downhill). Anyway, lots of lead cars were coming and the helicopters were there filming for the Versus Network on cable. There was a lead group of about 6 riders that came through first, it happened so fast, my head was spinning. The peloton arrived about 5 minutes later in a huge group with team ASTANA (that would be Levi Liepheimer, Lance Armstrong, and Chris Horner's team) leading out front in an attempt to catch the lead group. All I can remember is that the peleton was about 12 inches from our car, having to swerve away due to the rearview mirror being in their way. The wind that was generated when they went by was incredible, and all you could hear was the voices of the riders in multiple languages. I didn't realize it at the time, but afterwards when watching the video tape, I was screaming cheering wildly. Honestly, this is one of the things I really wanted to do before I die, and now I can scratch it off my bucket list! PRICELESS!!!!

The photo's I took were phenomenal! I actually got pictures of Levi Liepheimer, Lance Armstrong, Chris Horner, David Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, and Christian Vandervelde (all of whom are AMERICAN riders). And then, my only non-American hero, Ivan Basso (swoon), who I might add is not so hard on the eyes! I only managed to take 368 photos of the event (I told you I'm diseased when it comes to cycling), but in one of the most horrendous mistakes of my life (I might be exaggerating a tiny bit, but not much), every single one was deleted when I was reviewing my pictures. I was so close to tears, but then had to remember that I didn't even know these people (although I would sometimes argue otherwise). It was, after all, just a race, and these were just pictures. My only consolation was that I still had the video. Still, M and I were both so incredibly disappointed (he may have wanted to kill me for a very short time, but luckily, it passed). Regardless of the loss, we had a great time, and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will always treasure!

On a lighter note, M felt so bad for me and the loss of my photo's (this could qualify him for husband of the year), he offered to take the kids and I to the 7th stage of the race. I wanted to go, but wasn't going to push my luck, especially after my boneheaded careless act of deleting the photos. We caught up with the riders mid-race in La Canada/Flintridge along a very snobbish upscale residential street. It was much more crowded, but we still had a great view of the action. Luckily, I got some more great pictures (although not as good as before), and was somewhat redeemed. The only unfortunate part was that prettyboy Ivan Basso was no longer racing (he dropped out after an injury warming up before stage 6). That's okay, I stole a picture off the internet to make myself feel better. I can assure you, he will be represented in the scrapbook whether I took the photo or not.
I've also included some pictures of the kids at a local park we found before our trip home. They just love exploring new parks and we love getting their energy out before the trip home! That's about it for now, enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Prayers please......

Well, after getting over the original shock of M getting laid off from his job, we've finally started to adjust to things. You could say we had a brief pity party for ourselves, and then quickly moved on to figuring out what in the heck we we're going to do now (and that does NOT imply that we know, we're still trying to work that one out).

We are both very lucky, and had some great friends/family offer their support and encouragement (which has been so very appreciated - Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!). M did a ton of networking this week and has an application in at Aera Energy. He has a few different people that work there who are willing to give him a recommendation, and help out as much as they can (but we also know that the competition is stiff among those looking for a position right now - Oxy let go 7 other geologists the same day as M). He also has a few other leads and ideas, but Aera is definitely what we are hoping for. Please keep M in your prayers right now, and that his resume makes it to the right people at Aera. I'll keep updating as we find out more! :o)

My diet kind of hit the skids this week. I actually backslid, and gained a pound (Eek!) The stress in the S household was too much for me to take and I slid headfirst into anything I could get my mouth on (very bad girl). I was also victim to a glass of wine (or two) those first few days after the lay off. But, I'm back on the bandwagon, and I've been excercising at night to try to make up for my errant ways.

L is getting two new teeth (her upper molars) and has been a little fussy for a couple of days. C and T are exstatic to have M home during the days (although M in not enjoying his new "manny" duties). The house is a wreck, and impossible to keep clean because everyone is home all the time - it's making me CRAZY!

We are all headed to Visalia tomorrow to see a stage in the Amgen "Tour of California". It's a bike race, and I'm so excited to see some of my all-time heroes. I'll post pics later this week for you to see what a fanatic I am about the men in tights. Whoo Hoo!

Thats about it for now. Please keep M in your prayers and that he gets this job with Aera! We are so hopeful, but also realistic. It's a tough economy, and this will be no easy task, but anything is possible with God, right? Right! Thanks again, and God bless!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!

Well, I always like to start off positive, so here's some GOOD news..... I've lost 16+ pounds so far and I'm incredibly excited to see the difference, and can truly imagine what it will be like to reach my goal! I really believe that it's going to happen, and that I will be a thin, confident women come this September. Please keep praying for me - there are still times (like today, just wait - you'll understand) that I still want to slide headfirst into a cheesecake/six-pack of beer (depending on the events of the day) and I need all the support/encouragement I can get!

Also, M and I are getting along so much better! We are starting to finally communicate and identify with each other. I can't even tell you how much I truly love my husband - just absolutely adore him, and am so grateful that things might be starting to get better for us again! I've done my best to understand his perspective, and to relate to his feelings on our situation. It's taken a lot of time and effort, but I truly feel like we're finally connecting for the first time in ages! I am truly hopeful (and expectant) of better days ahead!

Now for the BAD. M was laid off from his job today. I can't say that it wasn't expected with the economy, but it was still devastating nonetheless. I will admit that I'm totally scared, but not for the reasons you might think. Worst case scenario - even if we lose our house, I can deal with that. My family is safe, healthy, and that's what matters. I'm only worried that all the progress that M and I have made in our marriage could be lost in this misfortune. The stress of money (or lack of it) has ruined many a relationship, and I am wary of it's influence. I can deal with any outcome except the loss of my husband. Please keep him (and our family) in your prayers, we really need it right now!

And, now the UGLY. Stephanie, a pregnant friend of mine (or more correctly named acquaintance), in the Junior League had her baby last Saturday. We are on the same committee, and have worked together on a monthly basis on various charity projects. Unfortunately, the day after she delivered her baby, she had some complications from labor and fell into a coma and is not expected to recover. Her family is now facing decisions on organ donation and termination of life support. I can't even imagine what her family is going through, and suddenly feel guilty for my trivial problems. It's amazing the perspective you can get when you take the time to look around. Please think of her and her family, and remember them in your prayers as well!

All of these things remind me of a great quote I came upon last week. It's still in my mind, and really means so much to me.
"Happiness doesn't mean that everything is perfect. It simply means that you've decided to look beyond the imperfections." Anonymous
Right now, obviously, there is a lot to be upset about. Oh well. Instead, I choose to be happy for today and the blessings I do have. My kids are alive and healthy, my husband is finally coming back to my marriage, and I'm 16+ pounds lighter. Not so bad really. But..... just in case I lapse, please cover me and my family in prayer. Thank you so much, and God bless!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Mixed Bag

Well.....things sure have been crazy lately! Some things good, some bad, and some will have to wait and see.

On a triumphant note, I've lost 13 pounds so far! I've been really dedicated, super strict on what I'll eat, and moving a lot more! It's paying off though, I'm officially 3 weeks into my new "lifestyle" and have lost 10 pounds over my projected goal of 1 pound a week. I'm starting to notice how things fit better and people around me say that I'm looking thinner (thank God)! I definitely couldn't be doing this for nothing! And while I'm proud of my achievement, I still have a very long way to go.

My computer tried to bite the dust last Saturday. I was trying to download a few pics from my camera, and the USB port was corrupted (thank you T and L for shoving whatever you can find into it!). Anyway, I encountered what computer experts call "the blue screen of death". It is almost a guarantee that you've lost everything and I was distraught! All of my digital pics of the kids were on there from the last 2 years and it gave me a sick feeling to think I had lost them (because, yes, I was the only IDIOT that didn't have an external hard drive with a back-up of my important stuff). Luckily, one of my very treasured friends (props to Peejay) is married to an amazing computer genius (Jeff, your my hero)! Anyway, after working on my computer for an undisclosed amount of time, he was able to write new code to get back in, and then fix the error (I still can't believe that he was able to do it, another indication of just what a genius he is!). I still haven't had a chance to go back and get my computer, but I should be up and running again by later this week (this entry comes to you from my lovely computer at work). So, please excuse any tardy emails for now. The morale of the story is get an external hard drive and back-up your stuff! Please don't make my mistake and end up sorry! And if you ever need a computer whiz, give me a call and I can get you his number (again, Jeff, your my HERO!)!

The kids are all doing great! L is really starting to talk, and her personality is emerging more and more. T is still firmly cemented in the terrible two's, and it's a constant struggle to keep her in line. C is doing excellent in school, both his reading and math are way above grade level. All the kids went down to Laguna Beach with M last weekend and had a great time visiting their birth-grandparents and family. They were completely spoiled with presents and attention, just like it should be. I'm so lucky to have them in my life!

I also was down in OC last weekend, but instead, in HB to visit my family. I had a great time like always, family seems to make life so much better! I stayed up late with my cousins and chatted about anything and everything, went to the movies (saw Slumdog Millionaire), and was even able to stay on my diet! It was a nice break from the kids, and I was able to recharge my batteries.

M and I continue to struggle. I'm really not sure where things are headed from here. He seems to be having some trouble getting past some of our differences, and I'm not sure anymore that we will be able to work it out. I'm also worried that I could be chasing a rainbow that doesn't end, wondering if the pot of gold is really just a myth. I think that maybe I'm in love with what was, not what's based in actual reality. I'm willing to try, I'm willing to make sacrifices, but not if it is a lost cause. We are seeing a marriage counselor later this week, so I might get a little more insight by then. Please keep praying for us, whatever the outcome may be. I truly love M and really do want this to work out.

That's about it. I'm hanging in, and thankful for the friends, family and good things I do have. Thanks again for reading, and all of your support!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Small Victories!

Well, it's been a week of big achievements in the Stikes household!

My middle daughter, Taylor, has mastered the potty at 2 years 8 months (it could have been done earlier, but hey, I've been busy already). She sleeps dry through the night and at naptime, too. Unfortunately, she now associates the bathroom with Starburst and Skittles candies, but maybe I can break her of that by the time she's five or so. Ha Ha!

Also, I've done very well with my new diet. I've lost an amazing 7 pounds in my first week. Yeah, I know that it's mostly water weight since I never used to drink enough, but I'm counting it anyway! I've sworn off anything fun: no white foods (breads, rice, pasta, potatoes) and just about anything that's processed. I'm only shopping on the outer edges of the supermarket now (fruits, vegetables, lean cut meats, and lowfat cheeses) to my kids dismay. I'm also staying away from alcohol since it's just wasted calories. And then I'm drinking enough water that would drown the average person! Truth be told, I'm not missing the sugars yet. Seeing the difference on the scale and in my clothes feels a lot better than anything could ever taste. So the score is 7 pounds lost this week (my first week), and I'm 6 pounds ahead of my goal so far!

On a more serious note, I've managed to survive one of the toughest weeks of my life. It's no surprise to anyone who knows me that my husband and I have had our share of problems these last few years. Well, things really came to a head last week, and I'm honestly still not sure how things are going to turn out. It seems that there are a lot of issues that I was unaware of, and I've realized that things aren't what I thought they were. I feel incredibly alone right now, but am surprisingly calm (or in total denial) about the entire situation. It's times like these that I am brought to admit just how much I miss my parents (no one can make the hurt better like your mom!). Anyway, I'm proud for coming through this as well as I have and know that whatever happens, I'll be okay.

That's about it for now. Please keep me and my family in your thoughts and prayers, we certainly could use it. :o)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Gonna give this blogging thing a try!

Well, it's 2009 - a new year, and a new start (thank God since 2008 ended on such a crazy note). So, in the spirit of new beginnings, I'm going to try my hand at this blogging thing. I've been following a few of my good friends blogs for awhile now, and it's always appealed to me (esp. since I'm so into scrapbooking and preserving my families memories for the future). I can't promise how successful I'll be or how regularly I'll be able to post, but I promise to give it my best college try! Beware, I'm going to be honest, my language may sometimes be uncensored, and it may not always be appropriate for the faint of heart. This is my place to celebrate milestones, rant and rave about daily happenings, and sometimes ponder the deeper meaning of things. Read at your own risk!

Anyway, keeping with the theme of new beginnings, I also thought that I would post my new years resolutions for all the world to see (or at least the 3 people who are going to read this). Somehow it seems that if I make them public, I'm suddenly more accountable. So, here are my resolutions (or more correctly named "goals") for 2009.

  • To create more beautiful things (sewing projects, scrapbook pages, crafts of the season, etc.). This is one of my biggest sources of joy (outside of my family) and I've decided to make more time for it in my life.
  • To commit to writing everyone thank you notes! I always say a heartfelt "thank you", but a written note is so nice (esp. in a world where all the mail you get anymore is junk or bills).
  • To keep better correspondence with my family and friends that live out of town (or out of state)! Whether it's by phone (good chance), email (good luck), or an old fashioned letter, I want to do better at keeping in touch with those that I truly care about.
  • To lose 1 pound a week until my birthday (that's in September Y'all). I know that's a crazy goal, but I refuse to turn 40 years old unless I can do it as a "skinny bitch" as so many of my friends would say. I also am lucky enough to attend my dear cousin's wedding that same month, and I sure as heck will not be known as the fat cousin!
  • To be a better wife and mom to my adorable family! I hope this year I will be able to praise more, criticize less, laugh at the small stuff (and big stuff too for that matter), and truly appreciate how good I really have it. No questions here, I have been blessed many times over!

So, that's about it (probably too much in fact). But I really want to do my best to keep every one! Keep me in your thoughts and prayers that I can accomplish this, and keep up with the blog (another great way to keep my out-of-towners up to date on what's going on in my life).

Here's to 2009, and the great things it may bring (a size 5 sounds great!)!