Life Lately…

 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!!!

The way I see it….

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.

The way I see it….

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.

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