Tuesday, December 1, 2009


We were lucky enough to be able to fly back to Amarillo for Thanksgiving this year.  We had a wonderful trip complete with family, friends, turkey, pies and beautiful weather.


I was even more blessed to be able to spend 2 whole afternoons with my very best friend Tina.  Although we talk at least once a week on the phone, we never get to see each other and that is one of the things I hate most about being across the entire United States from “home”.

Tina is the most wonderful friend and honestly a better person than I could ever aspire to be.  She’s shaking her head “No” about now I would guess.  One of the nicest things she has done for me though is to make me an “aunt” to John.  I may be biased but I think he’s just about the third greatest kid ever (behind mine of course…lol)




The best word I could come up with to describe John is FULL.  John is full of love for Tina…you can see it in every look, every breath, every smile.  The only other thing I saw John more excited about than his Mom was trains.  John is full of excitement and wonder about anything trains….toy trains, real trains, pictures of trains, heck, just the word train brings a smile.  Like any good toddler John is also full of independence and full of energy of course.  He was able to wear Braxton out at the park and that is no small feat.  John is also full of praise for his Lord and it is a beautiful thing to see.  John is actually so full that I wonder how any more goodness could fit…funny though how God always finds room for more.


Well buddy, Aunt Laura is full of love for you!  Give your Mom a hug from me.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Promotion Day



Look closely at Braxton’s shirt.  It is a Northwest Martial Arts t-shirt.  It can be earned, not bought.   In order to get one you must do the splits during class warm ups and be completely touching the ground.  (I know Braxton isn’t completely touching in this photo but he was able to do this quickly for me with no stretching beforehand. )  So far, Brax is the only person in his class to do this…in fact, no one else comes close.  The idea behind being this flexible is that your kicks will be much higher.



Last week Braxton tested for his orange belt.  He has been working hard during class.  He also had to memorize Korean terminology for the test.  He tested with his friend Jordan.  They both started Taekwondo the same night and have progressed really quickly.  Their instructor told me they were about 3 weeks ahead of schedule for testing but he felt they were ready.





Here is Braxton standing in the “ready stance” or “junebee” waiting for instructions.



I wasn’t able to get any pictures during the test but I was able to get a few during the board breaking.  That’s really the best part anyway!  Once they pass the first 3 sections of the test they have to break the board in order to earn the belt.  Braxton was really nervous about this part because they don’t actually get to practice the board breaking.  They are supposed to use the techniques they have learned so far to break the board using the kick the instructor directs them to use.  It took 3 attempts (and me holding my breath for good measure) before he heard the snap of the wood but he was so relieved and so proud (and I was too!).







Here is Braxton receiving his orange belt from his instructors.





And here is the newly adorned orange belt.  Next stop, yellow!…at least that is what Brax told me.  I told him to slow down and enjoy learning.  He is very good at it though and it is teaching him a lot about focus and respect so we are definitely encouraging him.




Wednesday, October 7, 2009

80, 70, 50, 40, 30

Um…where’s 60 you ask?


I would love to know that too!  I would also love to know what happened to fall.  Our summer was less than impressive and now it seems that fall has come and gone.  Fall is my favorite time of year for so many reasons…one of the biggest being the beautiful fall colors.  Last year we were not able to get any great pictures of the leaves changing colors and I have been waiting 11 months to try again.  God, in his infinite, indescribable humor, has other plans.  The leaves here had barely started to change when the freezing temperatures arrived.  Maybe next year, right?


For those of you who are able…drive with the windows down, take a walk in the park enjoying the feel of autumn sun on your face, visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard, feel joy that you can still wear flip flops and shorts, bemoan that your A/C bills are still too high, plan a skiing trip (because that is the closest you will get to that much snow) and take a few pictures of the red, yellow and orange palette of fall foliage near you…




frozen tundra forecast foretells fluffy flakes, flurries and frigid Friday.



Sunday, September 20, 2009

As summer fades to fall


The lazy summer afternoons  have been replaced by days filled with Tae Kwon Do, guitars, and homework….




                             lots and lots of homework!




God provides us with 4 seasons and we have been forced to acknowledge that it is time for summer to ride walk off into the sunset.



We have tried to cram all the summer fun we could into the past week or two.  The boys have spent every available minute at the park







                                 or on the trampoline




The annual West Fargo parade was this weekend.  We had a blast (even though it was 86 degrees—way too hot for those of us who are already acclimated to ND temps).  We generally come home with garbage bags of candy but there were so many more people this year that the amount any one person could get was much less.  (this of course doesn’t hurt my feelings at all….and really, how much sugar do two boys need?)


My favorite entries are always the patriotic ones.  I like living in a small town—everyone immediately stands with their hand over their heart as the flags all go by and clap and say “Thank you for your service” as soldiers pass by.










Every good small town parade has to have a line of all the newest farming equipment for the famers to ooh and ahh at.  OK, I admit it, we think they look pretty cool too and would love a ride.






This is my favorite entry in the parade.  It is a huge grocery cart.  I don’t know why I love it so but I just do.  Our other favorite is the red truck you can just see behind the grocery cart.  The red truck is the Old Dutch potato chip people.  Their chips are the best!  They hand out tons of samples each year and there is usually much pushing and shoving at the curb as the adults scramble for bags.





I saved the very best parade picture for last!!! Braxton was able to ride in the float for the Northwest Martial Arts team.  It was stinking hot and he was in that hot uniform so he doesn’t look too thrilled.  But he was so excited and happy to have been a part of it all.  The only problem was that he got to throw candy out to the kids but never got anything for himself.  Cayden offered to share half of his but as usual most floats threw out tootsie rolls….millions of tootsie rolls.  No one in our house really likes them.  Can I interest anyone in a plastic grocery bag full of tootsie rolls????





While  Braxton looks toward the future, trying to decide what he wants to accomplish this year and how to have fun doing it…





… Cayden has decided that middle school ain’t what its cracked up to be!  Being given more power to decide what and how a class or team will meet its goal = more responsibility for any failures.  I do think he is settling in at the magnet school and learning to do most of his school work on computer.  There are times though that he can tell me in days, hours and minutes, how long it is until Friday!






                       THINGS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO:



More nice evenings to enjoy our firepit.  (such a ND thing!)

The boys love to burn and waste  roast marshmallows.





Removal and hasty death of every cricket and grasshopper in the area.  Max kills them and brings them in the house to play with.  We have a cricket/grasshopper plague of biblical proportions.  Surely they will die once the temperature gets low enough, right?






By the way, I would like to be able to say that there were no insects harmed in the filming of this blog.  However, it appears that my photographer’s assistant/the only one who would touch the insects (otherwise known as Braxton) got a bit overzealous in making sure it stayed still for the picture.



There are 4 seasons here: Almost winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Construction.  As frustrating as that sounds it seems like many major projects they have been working on may not be complete by winter…roads we use, roads that would completely change how we get places and how long the trips would take.  But I am going to decide to be hopeful (optimism isn’t exactly my middle name) that I will be driving  down 32nd Ave. by Christmas.


I pray that you are able to look back on summer as fondly as we do and enjoy a beautiful blessed Autumn.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Art and sport, Defense and discipline





Braxton recently started taking Taekwondo and he is absolutely loving it.  After just a few classes he was able to “earn” the right to wear a uniform.  We believe that his instructor is doing a very good job at not only teaching Taekwondo techniques and history, but also respect for country, sport, instructor and self.  A  good bit of class is conducted in Korean so Braxton is learning basic phrases and numbers.






You can advance in Taekwondo at your own pace.  You get out of it as much as you are willing to put into it.  Braxton is learning his kicks first and these are coming easier to him than many boys because he has always been SO flexible.  The more flexible you are, the higher your kicks are.  Soon he will begin learning punches.  Eventually he will learn to spar and can compete in sparring matches.  His big goal however is getting to break a board with his feet and with his fist.  We are a ways from that, Thank God!





In Taekwondo it is relatively easy to earn your first belt.  Here Braxton shows off that white belt and his pride in earning it.  He knows that the rest will be harder to earn and that his pride in earning them will be even greater.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Drop by drop


Every night at 9pm an alarm goes off at our house.   Cayden heads to the kitchen table, bares an arm or leg, grits his teeth, braces himself and receives another injection of Growth Hormone.  It has already become quite routine for us.  Initially Cayden was having horrible headaches from the shots but they have lessened a bit.  He has been having fewer joint pains and swollen ankles too so I guess we feel blessed in that respect too. 


It’s not what I would choose for my child and certainly not what he would choose but it is very empowering to know that we are doing something for him and not just wishing that we could.


So, the race is on…and we are winning it drop by drop, millimeter by millimeter.  Cayden has been taking shots for 7 weeks and he has grown ONE INCH!  That might not seem like much at first but remember, he had not grown AT ALL for almost 2 years.  They say that during the first year a child is on Growth Hormone he should expect to grow 3-4 inches.  So you can see that Cayden is already exceeding everyone’s expectations—just like he always does!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We have reached the canine equivalent of the “terrible twos”





The words “NO”, “Down” and “Bad Dog” just generally cause Max to chuckle these days.  We seem to be in a contest of wills…and some days I’m not sure who is winning!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Little Historical Perspective

Today we visited the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site near Cooperstown, ND.  It was once operated by the 321st Missile Wing of the Grand Forks Air Force Base.  A crew of 10 Air Force Officers monitored 10 nearby Minuteman III missiles and were trained to launch them if they received orders to do so.  The site was in operation from 1966 to 1997.   When the site was shut down in 1997 the crew packed up their personal belongings but everything else was left untouched so it really is like walking through a time capsule.





This is a view from the security officer’s desk.





If you were a visiting the facility you had to remove your ammunition clip from your weapon and then fire your weapon in here.  This would ensure that no live rounds were on site.  You would then hand over your weapon to the security officer who would lock it up until you left.





The security officer would give you an authorization code for entrance to the facility.  You would use this phone to convey that code to the officers inside.  You were not to converse with the officers, you would only give them your code.





The mascot for the site was Oscar the Grouch because their site was known as Oscar Zero.  This Oscar was done by one of the officers.  Notice the emblem that says “Kremlin Krushers”…this was the era of the Cold War after all. 





After a tour of the above ground area we took an elevator ride down 46 feet to the underground capsule.  It was here where the two missileers on duty spent their time.  They worked 24 hour shifts and never left the capsule.   Here is one of the two stations in the capsule.

The site closed on July 17,1997.  Notice the clock.  It was stopped as the last man left the station.





This bulletin board was signed by the crew of the last alert (or shift) on July 17,1997.





If the President sent the orders for a missile to be launched the officers would go to this red box to get their authorization codes.  Launch required a total of 4 missileers to authenticate.   Not only would the two officers at this site need to enter codes but also two officers at a second missile site would need to do the same.  Those codes would allow them to access keys which would then need to be used simultaneously. 





If the site was attacked the crew would have all gathered down in the capsule and closed this blast door behind them.  The crew would have had about 6 weeks worth of food and water available.





Here is a look down the hallway past the blast door.





Just a bit of fun trivia…According to several “authoritative sources”, in August of 1966 three UFOs were spotted near the Minuteman Missile Site.  Because there was a fear that the UFOs could disable the nuclear weapons, “immediate measures” were taken.  An F-106 Interceptor was launched and a ground strike team was dispatched.  One of the witnesses, a site activation team member, made a drawing of the object which resembled a “classic flying saucer shape”.





I promise, I am not making this up!  Perhaps in some secret realm North Dakota is known as Area 52.