New year, new school!

Posted by Aaron Burdorf | Families
Today the kiddos had their first official day of school!  I didn’t have to wake anybody up, they were all bundles of energy that were bouncing off the walls by 6:30 a.m.  A new school district will do that to you I guess. 🙂  
After back-to-school night on Monday, I myself was feeling all sorts of feels.  We’d been at West Marshall for so long that it just felt odd to not see a familiar face around every corner, to meet teachers that were all new and not know where in the building we were going.  It made me realize – this is happening!  We’re really starting at Shenandoah!
Anyway, back to today.  I dropped the kids off today because Jenna had her trombone.  Everything went smoothly at the drop off and I am happy to report I held in my tears until I got out of the school parking lot.  I was just so nervous for the kids even though I put on a brave face for them!
I’m so excited to tell you that the kids had a great day!  All four of them!  It was also SO AWESOME that some of our new Shen friends texted me during the day to let me know how the kids were doing or to check in after school to see how it went.  You guys made my day! 🙂
To all our West Marshall friends…I’m so thankful for social media!  Thank you for posting pics of your kids so we can see them from three hours away.  We miss you all so much!!
Here are the kids’ pictures for this year…
Jenna, 6th grade
Brody, 4th grade
Blake, 1st grade
 Bowen, 1st grade
The crew.  Ready for a great year!

Life Lately…

Posted by Aaron Burdorf | Families
 We’ve had a busy last couple of weeks, so I’m just going to fill you in on life lately.
It has been insanely hot down here in Shen. You all know that I’m not a heat person and here I am. We were in an extreme heat warning all last week and feels like temps were 110-115. I was not impressed.  I will be happier about the warmer temps in the winter, right?!
One of the best parts of the move in my children’s eyes is that they have a nice aquatic center. The pool passes for a family of six were super cheap! We’ve been down there for a month and we’ve already more than used it. I told Aaron the other day, “The good news is there’s a pool in Shen! The bad news is there’s a pool in Shen!”
 What I mean by that is the boys especially only have their eyes on the prize – going to the pool – every day. EVERY. DAY. Sometimes, this mom just doesn’t want to go to the pool because she wants to pick a project around the house or perhaps just sit in the air-conditioning. I’m just saying. We kind of have it down to two hours and that’s it per day. The kids are accepting and I can get on board with a couple of hours.

Behind the pool and by the ball fields in town we would always see people riding their bikes and running on what appeared to be a trail.  One afternoon last week, I loaded up all the bikes in the truck and the kids and I went to check it out while Aaron was at work.  We found an AWESOME place to ride our bikes, walk and run! 

This was the only scary part.  You have to ride a bridge over the river and everybody was a tad freaked out.  We made it though.  Jenna also ran over a snake and I’m sure her scream could be heard for miles…. 😉
We made our first trip from Shenandoah to Mankato to help my brother move and celebrate my nephew’s fourth birthday last weekend! When Aaron accepted the job, this was something I was concerned about, the distance from my brother and his family. We see them quite a bit and going from just over three hours to five and a half is a doozy. Well, we survived thanks to the help of four devices, Netflix and headphones. Each kid was able to watch their own movie and life was good. We got it all moved and they got kind of settled and we celebrated the birthday with donuts!
Aaron and I had both driven from Shen to Cherokee and dropped off a vehicle here because of the state softball tournament. We realized it made no sense for us to drive all the way back to Shen (3 hrs, 15 minutes), when the kids and I could stay in Cherokee and drive from here (1 hr, 30 minutes) to Fort Dodge. Plus, it’s a couple bonus days with the cousins.
State Softball is my jam.  So many good memories of that place and I still cherish them and probably always will!
Aunt Jamie watched all six kiddos before state softball.  We had a great time despite the heat.  We spent the morning at Spring Lake Park exploring and playing and then invaded Grandma Jo’s house! 
In addition to his children, this may be Aaron’s pride and joy.  Aaron, Justin and Mitch love to be meat smoking cronies together.  It’s actually kind of cute how they can talk about smoking meat for hours and send each other pictures back and forth.  Justin and Mitch both have an ugly drum smoker and Mitch hooked Aaron up with this barrel so he could make one of his own.  Aaron was super proud and made a rack of ribs and pork loin Sunday night.  It was a-mazing!

I’m always looking for new places to take the kids and this place is about a mile or two outside of Shen.  You can camp, fish, walk on the grass trails, whatever…  We walked for awhile, then got the kids’ bikes out and then attempted to skip rocks.  Blake is the big winner – 5 times!

Tennis is a thing here.  I know, it seems strange to me too since I’ve never been around it.  That being said, I know my SW Iowa friend Mr. Barry used to coach tennis at Harlan and just this year the Shen girls tennis team was third at state.  People are always playing tennis.  It’s not really in our wheelhouse, but we went and bought some cheap rackets to try it out.  It’s pretty ugly, but the kids enjoy it and are always asking to go play. 
All in all, things are going well down here.  Aaron is staying busy with his job.  I’m working remotely for the paper as much as I can.  The kiddos have met some kids.  It is so BEAUTIFUL down here, I can’t get over it!  
We’re just soaking up the rest of summer.  School will be here before we know it.  We’ve already registered! AHHH!!!

Twins’ T-ball Season

Posted by Aaron Burdorf | Families, summer, tball, twins
The week of our move the twins played their last t-ball game of the season.  Their t-ball season went about how we expected it to go.  The twins are little ballers who are competitive and get what’s going on and pretty much always want the ball! Ha.  
Before we left for the game we had to take some “serious” photos in the front yard.  Bowen….
 And Blake…

 Bowen is an interesting kiddo.  Compared to the other two boys, he could honestly be the least concerned about watching, practicing and being ultra competitive about baseball.  That being said, he is so super athletic and during games he totally has it dialed in.  Look at that swing!  Making this mama proud.

 His facial expressions are on point.  They crack me up.

 And my little lefty. FINALLY, ya’ll.  Blake lives and breathes baseball.  He loves, loves, loves it!

Please note his ginormous batting gloves that he needs to wear for “sliding.”  Obviously. 

 Brody was watching a you tube video about pop-up slides and Bowen just goes out there and almost has it down.  I’m all like, you’re six.  Why are you already sliding better than I ever did?! 

 Blake’s dream is to be a catcher.  Um, no.  Blake…you are left-handed.  Blake…you also have one kidney and I don’t need you getting bowled over at the plate.  Thankfully, t-ball lets him live out that dream.  Also, can you see his mouth is open?  He’s always yammering away about where the ball needs to go. 

 Two for one special at the plate.

I’ve never had my kids play together before in an actual game and let me tell you, it was super cool.  You can tell they play with each other at home and there’s an intuition there between them that you don’t see elsewhere.  Yes, I know that sounds crazy because they’re six and it’s t-ball, but you have to trust me on this.  I absolutely cannot wait to see what the future holds for these two and I hope they continue to have fun together!!

Let me preface this by saying that this is NOT a good-bye article.  Even though this is my family’s last few days in State Center as we  make the big move to Shenandoah, I’m not saying good-bye.  You aren’t getting rid of me so easily, because I hope that we can make  this long distance relationship work.  For those of you wondering – YES!  I plan to continue to write my column as long as it works for Chris and me.
As you would expect, I’m filled with many emotions.  I’m so very sad that we are leaving such a great community and school district after 12 years.  At the same time, I know this is a great move for 
both my husband and our entire family.
I’ve told this story before, but it is worth retelling.  When Aaron and I moved to State Center in the summer of 2005, I did not like it here.  At all.  I used to cry and beg my husband to let me move back to Northwest Iowa to be with my family and friends.
Then, a funny thing happened.  I got this job at the paper because, and I’m just being honest, there was nobody else.  I had no journalism degree and zero experience in the newspaper business.  All 
I had was the want to learn this job.  What I got was so much more than I expected.
With the exception of a one year hiatus when the newspaper was under new ownership, I have been at the paper a total of nine years.  NINE YEARS.  This is for somebody that had no idea what she was doing. This job has quite literally changed my life.  I’ve found a love for writing.  I’ve grown to love meeting people and hearing their stories.  I truly now understand what the word “community” means by all the love and support we have received from you all.
It seems strange to think that we are moving to a place where they don’t know us.  They don’t know what we’ve been through.  They can’t truly understand the lowest of lows and the highest of highs 
that we’ve experienced like you have.  I don’t think that’s something you can truly explain to somebody unless they lived it with you.
While I am excited for this new adventure, I know that there are definite things about this town that I will miss.
-I will miss the trains going by in the middle of the baseball game, there’s such a uniqueness in that.
-I will miss the fact that everything in town is just a few minutes away, no matter where you’re going.
– I will miss the sense of pride this town has in its history and revitalizing the downtown.
-I will miss the beautiful Rose Garden.
-I will miss people coming up to me and talking to me about something I’ve written in my column.
– I will miss going into the grocery store and ALWAYS seeing somebody that I know.
-I will cheering for the Trojans.
-I will miss the library.  I am book nerd and think that our little library is pretty remarkable.
-I will miss my friends and especially those friends that are now like 
-I will miss seeing Chris, here at the paper.  We’ve been together for eight years.  In eight years, we have gone from strangers to being family.  She has continually allowed me to do this job however I could fit it into my life, as long as the paper got done.  I will miss our long talks about anything and everything.
-I will miss all of you.  I keep thinking that while moving is sad, if we never would have moved, we would have never met so many wonderful people here in this community.  Change can be a good thing.
As I sit here typing this, knowing this is my last Monday actually in the office it’s really starting to hit me.  This week will be a tough one.  I feel like that’s a good thing though.  The fact that this move is going to be so tough, means that our family has been pretty dang lucky to be in such a place that is so incredibly hard to leave. I have to give you one final thank you, for riding along with us and supporting us in this incredible chapter of our lives.  You will always hold a special place in my heart, but that’s just the way I see it.
I haven’t blogged in FOR.EV.ER, so I decided to share some photos from our end of the school year.  I cannot believe this school year is over.  I think it was the fastest year yet with all four at the “big school!” Add to that this whole moving across the state thing and we have a lot going on.
Here’s a few things we had going on towards the end of the school year:
Jenna and Brody had their first ever piano recital!  They did awesome.  Brody was cool as a cucumber and Jenna was her regular nervous self.  That being said, they both introduced themselves and what they were playing and I was very proud of them both.  We will miss Mrs. V, our piano teacher, oodles next year!
In May I was able to accompany the twins on their field trip to the Blank Park Zoo.  I am so fortunate to get to go on field trips with my kiddos and I definitely don’t take that for granted.  Blake was obsessed, and I do mean obsessed, with riding the dang camel!  I have no idea why, but that’s all he talked about, so an over-priced camel ride is what he got. 
May means track and field day for the kids.  This year with Jenna being in fifth grade, she was on a different day than the boys, which was such kind of awesome.  With multiple kids I’m running around like a crazy person trying not to miss anybody, which I always do.  Jenna had a great day! This girl and her long legs have taken a sudden interest in running.  She has more of Aaron’s speed than I thought, I think!

 Bowen is a long jumper.  Yes, yes, I know he’s only six, but I’m placing my bets now.  He got up there and killed it.  He had great form and the eighth graders who were working  were like, “Whoa.  That was a really good jump!”  I love these pics I got of him soaring through the air. 

I always get a kick out of the kids trying to do the high jump.  They literally get over it any way they can.  It cracks me up!  Brody’s  big feet knocked the bar over.  This one also likes the running thing. Who are these children?!  Surely, they can’t be mine. 
Brody won the 60 yard dash, coming from behind to win.  At the end, with a big smile on his face he told me, “Mom, I think I ran so fast because I really had to pee!”

Blake didn’t get a ribbon for running, but I was so proud of him.  He hates being the center of attention  and usually has a meltdown when everybody is staring at him.  I was concerned he would get behind and quit running, but he didn’t!  Small victories, folks.

 The twins started t-ball!  Six years in the making and lots of older siblings’ games and it is finally their turn.  Burdorf and Burdorf are doing awesome. 

 Aaron had his final presentation about leadership for a couple of professors from UNI.  He compared leadership to a kidney and it was a very well thought out, emotional, personal presentation.  I was impressed and teary!  I’m so proud of him for reaching this goal!  Seven years in the making and having to put it on the back burner to put family first.  We celebrated with a date night at the Big Steer in Altoona. 

Bike rides and walks are the name of the game with all this nice weather!  The twins and I got caught in a rain storm, but were rewarded with this beautiful rainbow. 

 Jenna’s TAG project on Mars.  Yes, I know she looks 16 and I’m not ok with that.

 Poor Mr. Blake has been fighting impetigo three times!!!  Ugh.  I don’t know if it’s his immunosupression or if it’s just that hard to get rid of, but we’re ready to be done with it.

 With Aaron’s new job, he umpired seven games at the end of May and then cancelled the rest of his season.  One super cool thing he got to do was umpire the West Marshall game when they played at Duane Banks Field at the University of Iowa.  Go Hawks!  We all headed down to cheer for the Trojans and the umpire! 😉

 I’m sure the pitcher has good form, but I like looking at that professional looking guy in blue behind him! haha.

 After the game we got to take pics on the field and Brody was stoked to get a foul ball.

 This one is hard.  The last day of school.  Our last day at West Marshall.  I get teary thinking about how many wonderful people there are in this school district that have been so good to my kids and our entire family.  West Marshall has set the bar high for Shenandoah.  Thank you, thank you to you all who have impacted my kids, my husband and our entire family.

 The night after school got out was also the first farmer’s market of the season.  You may not know this about me, but I love farmer’s markets!  They are my summertime fave.  They had the life flight helicopter on-hand and we asked a million questions, of course.

 Our local firefighters are awesome.  Seriously.  They let the kids try on the gear and Fire Captain Blake was ready for anything!

 HUGE homemade bubbles, anyone?!  These were crazy cool.  Brody and Jenna totally got the hang of it.

 Look at that thing!  It was pretty messy when it popped though.

 This is what I want to be doing all summer, but alas, packing calls.  We spent a couple days acquainting ourselves with our new community and framing out a bedroom in our new place for Jenna.  I prefer reading and popsicles, but there’s so much to do before our move on June 24th!

Prayers for labs

Posted by Aaron Burdorf | Blake, Families, kidney disease, labs, port

I wanted to let you know that we need some prayers for Mr. Blake.  Last week, he was supposed to have his monthly lab draw.  For those of you unfamiliar, he still has his port up by his left collar bone that the nurse has to access each time.  Last Tuesday when we tried she got a pull back of blood and then it stopped.  She manipulated the needle, got a pull back of blood and then it stopped.
We tried another needle and we couldn’t get any blood.  After that, we were out of needles and had to wait for another shipment from Iowa City.

This port has been with us since 2013, which is super awesome.  It also makes me scared that it has finally crapped out on us.

We have repeat labs to try again tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.  If you would, please pray and think positive thoughts that it works.  If it doesn’t we’ll be heading to the hospital locally to get some blood thinning stuff put through the port to check and see if it’s clotted.  If that doesn’t work, I’m assuming we’ll be headed to Iowa City, which nobody wants to do.

Thank you all in advance and I will keep you posted!

Big Changes for the Burdorfs!

Posted by Aaron Burdorf | Families

I’m going to steal a line from my husband when I say that I have mixed emotions writing this. I can officially announce that Aaron accepted a job offer with the Shenandoah School District, so our family is moving to Southwest Iowa.  This is something that is incredibly bittersweet for our entire family.

While it has always been the plan for Aaron to finish his masters and get a job as an administrator, it is crazy to think about we are finally where we had always planned to be.  When we moved to State Center, we initially planned to stay for 4-5 years.  Now, with plans that were put on hold after we had the twins, it’s 12 years later!

Aaron’s official position is full-time Activities Director (AD), with other assistant principal/admin duties as assigned.  He starts July 1st, so we will be heading down at the end of June.  I can’t say enough what a happy and proud wife I am right now.  He is going to rock it at that position, it is totally in his wheel house.  I can’t wait to see what great things he does!

The entire family went down to Shenandoah a day over spring break to tour the school and town.  Everybody was very welcoming and ready to help us in whatever way they can, which was a huge comfort!

As for me, I will still be working remotely, at least for awhile, at the paper here in State Center.  It will be similar to what I did when Blake was in the hospital.  I will look for something in Shenandoah once school starts and everybody gets settled.

We are looking at this as a new adventure for our family.  It’s a part of the state we know absolutely nothing about, so we will learn a lot of new things. The kids are taking things in stride, as kids do.  Their biggest thing is to just know somebody that first day of school, which is to be expected.  The school district is comparable to where we are now, it’s just one big town instead of five small ones.

Lots of changes in the upcoming months!  We are attacking this like we have many other big things in our life – with a positive attitude. 🙂

Blake’s appointments

I haven’t talked a lot about Blake in my column lately and how he’s doing because there hasn’t been much to say.  A good problem for sure!

Last week Blake had labs on Wednesday here at home and the results  were mostly good except his kidney function numbers went up (that’s  bad) for the second month in a row.  When I say they went up, it  wasn’t by a lot.  That being said, my mind works into overdrive that  it’s trending in the wrong direction and that he’s going to have to have surgery and we’re going to have to start cathing him again, etc., etc, etc.  Yes, I know I have an overactive mind.  It’s not my  best quality.

Blake had his six month check-up in Iowa City last Friday.  On the docket for the day was an ECHO for his heart (done yearly and standard transplant procedure), an ultrasound on his kidney and bladder (done every sixth months and standard procedure) and consults with the urologist and nephrologist (kidney) doctors. Aaron teases me that I’m “Miss Expert” at the ultrasounds for his kidney and bladder.  I can’t help it.  He’s had so many and I can  generally tell when something is wrong.  He texted me afterwards and asked how I thought things looked.  I told him it didn’t look like a ton of fluid around his kidney (great news), but there was a weird  floaty thing in his bladder that I had never seen before.  I was kind of puzzled.  I think Aaron was doubting me.

After the ultrasound we met with urology in which Dr. Storm said, “kidney looks stable, but there was this strange thing in his bladder that we aren’t really sure what it is.”  While I’m not happy I was right, I kind of did feel like a semi-expert at that point.  Long story short – the doctor had a couple of theories, but no definitive answers as to what it was.  He said we could open him up, but nobody wanted to open that can of worms since it appears to not be doing any harm.  We’re just going to keep an eye on it.

Dr. Jetton, our kidney doctor, was really happy with how Blake is doing.  The two best parts of that appointment were that she said we would shoot for the summer to get his g-tube (feeding tube) out of his   stomach and she knocked two more meds off of his daily list.  At the worst of things we were at 20 plus, so to be down to five meds just twice a day is so, so great!

It’s funny how some things change and some things stay the same.  I was hit with that hospital smell as soon as I walked in, along with the hustle and bustle of people heading to and from appointments.  The tired, stressed out looks on family member’s faces was all too familiar. On the other hand, I have a five (almost six) year old, who hops up to get his blood pressure taken, who doesn’t need anesthesia for his ECHO, can hold still during his ultrasound and can answer on his own the questions he was asked by doctors and nurses. I was reminded how much I have to be grateful for with those good reports, especially with all the sickness I was confronted with.  I was also reminded to never take a single good day for granted, but 
that’s just the way I see it.

2017 Goals
How is 2017 treating you all? Are you feeling motivated? Kicking some backside and taking names? Still looking for inspiration to make some changes?
So far, 2017 is going alright in my neck of the woods. As per usual, this girl had to write down some goals for the new year. I’m a list-maker, remember? I decided to not really call them resolutions because I feel like you’re asking to fail. There’s a negative connotation associated with that word. Instead, I’m calling them goals. I’m not going to share all my goals for the new year, but here are some of them.
  1. Workout 30 minutes five times a week: This probably seems like an obvious one. People are always making goals about working out in January. I feel like this is completely realistic and do-able. Five times isn’t every single day and 30 minutes isn’t a lot. I feel like if I can peruse social media every day or read or watch t.v., I can most definitely use that time to get moving instead. Even if it’s with my kiddos or just on the treadmill with the t.v. on.
  2. Drink 110 ounces of water PER DAY: If you see me running to the bathroom every 15 minutes this would be why. It’s really easy for me to get this done in the summer and really challenging for me in the winter. My water intake had taken a nose dive with the cooler weather, so I set a goal. I think I’ve hit this goal every day except two so far. My kidneys (and other organs) thank me for the gift of hydration!
  3. Take more pictures with my real camera: 2016 was a terrible year for me in taking good pictures with my real camera. I always grab my phone because it’s always with me and just easier. The pictures aren’t as good though and I need to make more of an effort to haul out the good camera. Every month I need to have a folder on my computer with photos that I’ve taken. That’s the goal.
  4. Read out loud with my kids more: This is directed more at Jenna and Brody, since Aaron and I already read aloud with the twins. I got a text from a friend who shared with me something called the Read Aloud Revival. Did you know that if you read out loud every day with your kids for just ten minutes, at the end of the year they will have read aloud for 30 hours?! That’s amazing. And so, so important!
  5. Gratitude Journal: This is an idea I saw online and it is by far my favorite goal of the new year. I went to the dollar store and bought a pretty looking notebook. Every day I write down ten things that I’m grateful for that day. Yes, every day. Sometimes I do it in the morning and sometimes at night. This has completely shifted my days! I am now actively seeking out things that I can write down. The other day, for example, despite the fact it was 30 below, a nice older gentlemen let me head into the grocery store before him. Simple enough, but it was so kind. I have found that it’s hard to be in a bad mood when I’m constantly thinking about examples of gratitude that I can write down.
Here’s my attitude for 2017. Some days are better than others. Some days you fail. Some days you succeed. That’s ok. Life isn’t supposed to be perfect. This life is a marathon, not a sprint. Trying to continually create better habits is hard work and takes time. I am just trying to be a little better than I was the day before, but that’s just the way I see it.
Over New Year’s weekend we went to Omaha to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with the Burdorfs.  The weather felt more like Easter, but at least it was good travel weather!

Friday we got to Adam and Jill’s just in time to see the Huskers get beat in their bowl game.  HOLLA!!  Sorrynotsorry Husker fans. 😉  Nothing goes better with games than game day food.  Yum!

 Saturday was our “official” Christmas.  We opened gifts.  The Burdorf tradition is one at a time, even the kids and they stick to it. 😉

 Miss Sass was super happy to get these new boots.  Not only are they cute, but they added another couple of inches to her already ever-growing self. 

The kids were hilarious.  They had the best time in the basement playing cafe.  You want to know the name of their cafe?  Kozy Korner, of course!!  I know that will make you Armstrong people proud.  We may have talked about it once or twice.  Ha! 

 Adam and Jill were pretty excited to give Aaron his gift.  It was a framed photo from the front page of the Chicago Tribune the day after the Cubs won the World Series.  So cool!

Another Cubs gift for this Cubs-loving kid! 

 I made Grandma Linda an updated photo collage (see below) of her grandkids.  I think she liked it! The one hanging up in her house doesn’t include Noah or Claire.  I was pretty happy with how it turned out. 

 Grandpa Frank travels a lot for his job, so we thought he needed a new jumbo travel mug.


 We played some Skipbo and even put together a 300 piece puzzle.  This is big because I actually hate puzzles because I have zero patience, but the four oldest and I did it together!

 All eight grandkids.  Not too shabby.
Grandma and Grandpa with the tribe. 
And…all of us.  The whole Burdorf Bunch. 
 After presents, Aunt Jamie was in charge of some New Year’s games for the kids and the big kids.  I, unfortunately, didn’t get many photos because I was in charge.  We did have a lot of fun with balloons, let’s just say that.  We took a break to wish Grandma a happy birthday and have a slice of birthday pie.  

That wraps up our holiday season.  It was definitely a blessed one.  We are so grateful for our family!