Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tour de California continues!

After celebrating the wedded bliss of Joe and Tammy at a BEAUTIFUL wedding, we have headed south to Fallbrook to hang out with Grandpa and Abuelita. Lucas is back in Idaho and we miss him!! We don't have access to our photos right now, but when we get home we promise we will post a lot!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

it's a magical place indeed

wow. We had a magical day celebrating Max's third birthday at Disneyland today. He got to meet the REAL Buzz Lightyear and ride a bunch of great rides (he only wanted to ride with Uncle Jacob every time). It really was a super day... And at the end of the day max looked more exhausted than I had ever seen him. But it was a happy exhaustion!

We will post pictures soon. Now it's time to let joe and tammy's wedding festivities begin!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Some Thoughts

Cancer Sucks. There, I said it. 

My mom started her final cycle of chemotherapy today. We've come a long way from here on her first day of chemo in June, nearly four months ago. On that day, none of us knew exactly what to expect. Now we know- And I wish it is something that my mom never had to learn. 

I'm glad that my mom is nearly over the finish line of chemotherapy. Just about ten days from now, she should start feeling better without having to dread the start of another cycle. But somehow, it's not all that comforting.

For one, the ten days ahead still look like a mountain to her. She's done this five times now. She knows the awfulness that awaits her over the next ten days. And secondly, the dread of another chemo cycle is being replaced... at least for me, I hate to admit... by the dread of the cancer returning and growing. And this time, there will be no more treatment available.  

So I'm glad that she's finishing chemo. I'm beyond thankful that her wonderful sister, Carol, will be there to help her through the next two weeks. And I'm looking forward to some good days ahead while she is in partial remission. But I'm just not sure how to handle this cloud of questions that will inevitably be settled over our heads in the months to come. Is the cancer back? I'm sure I'll be wondering. How much longer? Is this our last ___(fill in the blank)___?

I guess the reality is that life is full of unanswered questions, so we should all be used to it by now and FINALLY learn to trust God day by day, minute by minute. That may be the only way to fully enjoy every good moment that we have. And I want that- but that level of trust and faith seems like a monumental endeavor to me today, as my mom begins her final chemo.

I would never have survived the Oregon Trail

The sheer volume of the stuff is embarrassing. We're packing our bags and heading to California to add our final sister-in-law to the Huckaby/Roebuck family: The Fabulous Tammy!! (Yes, for those of you counting, Joe and Tammy's wedding marks our FIFTH brother to get married since January of last year). We're so happy for Joe and Tammy that we are practically moving to California to celebrate. At least our luggage pile makes it look like we're moving. :-) 

Lucas will only get to stay a few days, then he will be flying back to Idaho to bring home the bacon so the kids and I can stay and party in California for another week. What a good hubby.We are going to have some pretty exciting stuff going on in California and we can hardly wait: 

1. Joe and Tammy's wedding in Huntington Beach! I'm not sure if this is still true... but we heard a rumor that In N Out Burgers will be served at the reception. Yum. Oh, and Lucas and Max will be in the ceremony!

2. Maximus' third birthday party AT DISNEYLAND!! Our friend Jim is the absolute best for getting us free admission. Max is beyond excited. He is smack in the middle of the perfect age to experience the Disney Magic.

3. GIRL'S WEEKEND AWAY!  In one of the biggest personal treats of all time, I will be meeting up with three of my favorite gals in the world for a weekend on the coast without kids. Grandpa Chaney and Abuelita are going to be bonding with Max and Maggie, and I will be hanging out at the beach with friends and trying desperately to think of a way to adequately thank Chaney and Maria! :-)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Essentials

Overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed by the extent and variety and depth of suffering in our world. No one is left untouched.

• A friend from our church in Arkansas, a young man the same age as my brother Tyler, died yesterday in a 4-wheeler accident. He's been married a couple of years and leaves behind a very young widow and a son who will never remember his father.

• A college student in one of Lucas' classes at NNU was diagnosed with a very rare form of breast cancer six months ago at the age of 20. She is only the fourth person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with this type of cancer, and the first at such a young age. She had a mastectomy, is engaged to be married, and has to have mammograms on her remaining breast at least every three months to make sure the cancer has not spread.

• Our next door neighbor, a 7-year-old hispanic girl, came to me with tears in her eyes this week. The girls at her new school told her that they didn't want to be her friend because she isn't popular and she is fat. Her tender wounded heart broke mine.

• A young mom sat in her truck in front of our yard sale this weekend talking on the phone. When she finally got out and came up to the sale, she told me that she had been on the phone with the real estate agent and the bank. They could not sell their home and it had foreclosed, and now they would be forced to leave their house. Her husband's construction business went under when the market here tanked, and he has only been able to find sporadic odd jobs.

• Another neighbor told me that her house foreclosed as well. She and her husband put $40,000 down on their home a few years ago, but the values have dropped so drastically that they cannot sell it and now are being forced to foreclose and lose all they invested. Her husband lost his job and cannot find work. Three other homes on our street have foreclosed this summer as well and are now sitting empty.

•A family in our community recently woke up to find one of their 5-month-old twins unexplainably dead. Our pastor is the chaplain for the police department and was called in to help comfort the family. He officiated a funeral for that tiny baby two days later.

What can we do with this barrage of suffering in our world? These are just the few instances that I have personally encountered in recent days. Is God unloving to allow such suffering? What can I tell those who are not believers when they face such heartache? What can I even tell believers?

The Gospel.

When I was thinking about all of this pain and suffering, it reminded me of this post from my brother's blog this week. He wrote about the death of our great Aunt and how it reminded him of the essentiality of the gospel.

And that is the bottom line. All of this suffering points us to this truth: this is not the way it is supposed to be. There should be no young widows and fatherless sons. There should be no cancer. No young wounded hearts, no financial devastation, no dead 5-month-old babies.

Our world is fallen, and sin has left no life untouched. And that is what makes the gospel so essential. Is God unloving because he allows such suffering? No! God is so loving that He has made a way for reconciliation of God and man and restoration of creation through the sinless life, the death, the burial and the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Or to put the essential Gospel into seven little words that even my 2-year-old learned this week for Awana:

"God loved us, and sent His Son."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Our LIttle Cubbie

Maximus started AWANA this week! He is the very youngest in his little cubbies class, but I am so excited to have this structured way to help him learn God's word! I am helping in the class, so I even have my very own Cubbies polo. Swanky. At least Max thinks so. He has asked me every day this week if I can wear my cubbies shirt today.

Maximus was so excited about started AWANA, that when he saw the parent's handbook I had on the table, he asked me to read it to him three times. It was not riveting material, but he was very attentive as I read him the rules for cubbies class and all about what we would be doing. I think he just wanted to know what would be expected of him!

He he is with his fellow cubbies.

Max takes on the big kid in the balloon fight.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In Maggie's World

Maggie had her one year check-up at the pediatrician's office last week, but I'm just now getting around to posting it. For those of you interested in such things, here are her stats:

Weight: 19 lbs 1 oz (18th percentile)
Height: 29 in. (48th percentile)
Head size: 18 (70th percentile)

So, no turning around the car seat for Maggie just yet. And as you can see, she is following the tradition of Roebuck Big-Heads (though she still can't compete with Max's stats at about this age: 5th % height and weight and 95th% head size!) She had to get four shots, but handled it like a trooper. 

When the subject of my mom's cancer came up in conversation, the doctor stopped and wrote in the kids' charts that we had a "strange cancer" in our immediate family (strange as in- someone diagnosed with a particular cancer who didn't match the risk factors). She said, "I hate to tell you, but that is not good news for your and your kids' genetic propensity for cancer." Great. The thing every mom wants to hear. But... what can you do? God is in control, and my kids are no more or less likely to get cancer than they were before we found out about my mom. Now we just know it's a greater risk. And as the doctor said, it's good to know because it can help with earlier detection and diagnosis in the terrible event that we do have to face cancer again in this family someday.

Even things like well-child checkups aren't quite as simple as they used to be...

Today's Favorites

Maximus and I like to play a little game where I ask him about all of his "favorites." They change everyday. Here are today's favorites:

"Maxius, what is your favorite...."

Color: Yellow
Toy: Cowboy
Best Friend: Basketball Goal Robot
Uncle: Keith
Aunt: Anne
Cousin: Addison
Food: Breakfast
Drink: Juice
Sister: Maggie
Job: Keeping my pants dry
Store: The Buzz Store (a.k.a. the Disney Store)
Movie: Buzz Lightyear
Car: Kerbie (a.k.a Herbie)
Game: Basketball
Thing to do outside: Slide
Thing about Jesus: He's God

Monday, September 15, 2008

Top of the Day

Watching Daddy drive off to work.

Max: "Daddy has to go to work so that we can buy some more juice"
(We ran out of orange juice this morning...)

Okay, folks- show's over.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Target Needs Better Aim

It's no secret: I pinch pennies. Our family has to pinch pennies in order to survive on my husband's income while I stay home with our kids. So when a retailer repeatedly acts in a way that is corporately irresponsible or unethical, and those actions cost me the pennies I have worked hard to pinch, I feel like I should let those around me know. 

Target stores have lost my respect. They will also lose my business. 

MULTIPLE TIMES I have gone to Target and been charged more than their advertised price on a particular item. Last time this happened to me, I didn't realize it until I was home and looked at my receipt. It wasn't worth my time, gas money and effort to return to the store and get the price right, but the experience left a bad taste in my mouth. I wrote to Target corporate and told them about my experience. They sent me a form letter back and made no effort to make the wrong right.

Today I was shopping in Target with my two kids. We stopped at the snack bar to get a bite to eat for lunch. As always, I carefully calculated how the three of us could eat for the least amount of money. When the cashier told me the total, it was more than it should have been based on what their huge sign advertised. I brought it to her attention and she said, "Sorry, that's how the register rings it up. I can't do anything about it." I paid the amount and we ate our food. 

Afterward, I went to customer service and asked to see a manager. When she came, I told her what had happened and showed her the receipt and how I had been charged more than the sign advertised on all three items I had ordered. I told her that although I do work hard to pinch pennies and even a small mistake like this matters to me, this was more about the principle than the actual amount of money that I had been overcharged. I told her I felt that Target was being deceptive to its customers if they advertised one price but actually charged another. 

This Target employee (whom I'm not even sure was a manager) made no effort to make this right. Neither she or the original cashier offered to refund me the small amount that I had been overcharged. She made no apology for the deceptive sign/ charge system in the cash register. She simply told me she would bring it to her supervisor's attention. Somehow I doubt that ever happened.

Is it Target's corporate practice to charge a little more than their signage advertises on a regular basis and hope that no one notices? From my experience, I am starting to feel like this might be a corporate-wide issue. Their lack of willingness to act in good faith with one consumer (me) most likely indicates that similar situations are happening in their hundreds of stores.

Over the past several months, I have become more and more disillusioned with Target because of their rigid return policy and frequent charging mistakes. This disillusionment has now turned to a total lack of respect for this corporation.

In the future, I will be taking my business away from Target whenever possible. 

**Update** I received a personal e-mail letter back from Target Corporate saying that they are checking into the pricing issues at my store. I was pleased that they took the time to respond. It seems to me that they should have made some offer or effort to repay me for my time and trouble in some way, but they did not. But at least they personally responded to me!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Hallelujah, We've had a Breakthrough

If any of you are on the brink of potty training in your house, I beg you to run as fast as you can (okay, or drive) to your library or bookstore and get this book: Toilet Training in Less Than A Day.

I was skeptical. Now I am a believer. After three weeks of absolute failure at potty training with Max, I read this book and gave their system a shot yesterday afternoon. After only 15 minutes of going through the process from the book, Max sat on the potty and immediately went. I could not believe it. Less than an hour later, he had gone SEVEN more times and was initiating pottying on his own.

Here's my disclaimer: It has been about 30 hours, and uh, no, we are not finished potty training. That's okay, I wasn't actually taking the title of the book literally, although I'm told it can be done. For us, I was just thrilled that we made leaps and bounds in one day after weeks of nothing!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Beautiful Life

This morning my Great Aunt Thelda passed away at the age of 85. She had a beautiful life. She raised three sons and so many grandkids and great-grandkids that I could never keep up with the current number. She opened her arms and her heart to me as her granddaughter long before my own grandma (her sister) died, but even more so since then. She was instrumental in my own father's salvation when he was just a boy. Her spiritual legacy is one of an enduring faith in Christ even through some very serious storms in her long life. Anyone who lives 85 years will see his or her share of heartache in life– Aunt Thelda faced these trials with an eternal perspective.

She was eager for heaven, and now she is there. For quite some time she had been living with the physical pain of an aging body and the emotional pain of being the last living member of her family's generation. Her husband died decades ago, and she was the last living of five siblings. I expect she has quite a party going on in heaven right now worshiping Jesus with that crew.

I loved her deeply and I will miss her severely.  Her funeral is Wednesday morning in Arkansas. On Wednesday I will be in Idaho taking care of my little family– but a big part of my heart will be in Arkansas with all those gathered to celebrate her life and the hope in Christ that this beautiful woman has now fully realized. 

Saturday, September 06, 2008

More Conversations with Maximus

So perhaps I shouldn't post this, but I just have to. Hopefully Maximus will forgive me when he's 13 and this is still floating around the Blogosphere.

[Maximus building robots out of his Mega Bloks.]

Maximus: This robot's name is "Teener."
Me: Oh, that's an interesting name. Which robots are nice robots?
Maximus: This yellow robot is a nice robot.
Me: Which robots are big boys and go pee-pee in the potty?
Maximus the monologuer: These robots aren't boys, they're just robots. They don't go pee-pee in the potty. They got no potties. They got no bottoms. They got no peanuts.

So much for teaching correct vocabulary for anatomical parts. "Peanuts" it is.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Conversations with Maximus

[Maximus is eating his lunch and listening to something about Jesus on the radio]

Maximus:[gasp!]  I heard "Jesus Christ!"
Me: I heard that, too. What do you know about Jesus Christ?
Maximus: He died on the cross to take care of all the robots.
Me: Hmmm..... yes, he died on the cross because he loves Maximus.
Maximus: He takes care of Maximus from all the robots.
Me: Um... Yes, he takes care of Max and protects Max.
Maximus: From all the robots.
Me: [sigh] I suppose we'll move on for now.

How Maggie Spent her First Birthday

I'm about a week past due getting this posted, but better late than never!

Here's how Maggie spent her first birthday, last Thursday:

Maggie started her day with a rare treat of coming to bed with her mommy and daddy early in the morning. She was having a rough morning because a teeny tiny tooth was just poking through her top gums. By the end of her first birthday, she had a nice third addition to her tooth collection.

Maximus gave Maggie a nice big "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" wake-up call. Maggie didn't really want to wake up. She likes this sleeping in mommy's bed business. Too bad. :-)

Awake and happy!

After a morning birthday photo shoot, we returned to our normal look for lunch. These pastas are superb for putting in one's hair.

After lunch we went and walked around a little downtown park by the river in our little town.

The weather was beautiful and Max did some training for his favorite individual olympic sport: Throwing Rocks in Water.

It was a great birthday day! I guess we're still in the birthday spirit around here... Since we celebrated Maggie's birthday last week, Max has been throwing pretend birthday parties for his robots and soldiers. Pretty cute.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Tempted to Abandon the Potty Train

For all of you mothers (including my own!) who have nurtured your children through the voyage known as "potty training," let me just say: Kudos To You. I grossly underestimated what mothers worldwide have had to face to accomplish this fete. I also feel a new sense of compassion on mothers whose rapidly aging toddlers are not yet potty trained. I might have ignorantly scoffed at this in the past. Now I know why this happens: potty training is hard work. And if a child is not potty trained, it might not be for lack of trying on the mother's part.

Sigh. We are two+ weeks into hard-core potty training with Max. He's a bright kid. Using a potty is not rocket science. Yet we have made, well, no progress. That's right, not a drop of any type of foul substance yet to make it into the potty. 

I'm hoping for a breakthrough soon with the little guy. Today after ditching the pull-ups and consequently doing 5 loads of laundry (because, well, if said substance is not going into the potty... it has to be going somewhere) and taking many, many unsuccessful trips to the bathroom with Max, I plopped down on the couch, let out an audible sigh and began to chant to myself: Someday, my child will accomplish this skill. I must help him do this if he is to be a normally functioning member of society. He will eventually be potty trained. This cannot go on forever. 

One day soon, Max and I ARE going to get something into that potty. Maybe tomorrow I'll pour some lemonade in there just to make us both feel better. Or maybe not. Sigh.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Aunt Thelda

My great Aunt Thelda is in serious condition at a hospital in Arkansas after suffering a major stroke and a broken hip. Her children are in the terrible place of having to make some very hard decisions about her medical care. Please pray that they will have wisdom to make the right choices.

Aunt Thelda is my grandma's sister, and especially since my grandma died about 8 years ago, Aunt Thelda has been like a grandmother to me.  Actually, she's been like a grandmother to me since long before my grandma died. She and my grandma were both widowed at middle age and were inseparable for decades. Nearly all of my fantastic memories of time spent with my grandma include Aunt Thelda as well.

I am completely torn up about this news of Aunt Thelda's failing health. Even though she is 85 and I knew this day was coming soon, it has hit me hard. I feel bombarded by reasons why I should be in Arkansas and not here in Idaho, and this is the straw to break the camel's back. But I am constantly reminding myself that God has Lucas and me in Idaho for a very specific purpose right now, even though it is not where I want to be.

Please pray for Aunt Thelda and all of her family, immediate and extended. There are so many people who love this lady, and there are many hurting hearts right now as a result.