Once upon a time there was a young family who moved from California to Colorado. Their children were very sad because they had to move so far from their friends and family. They begged and begged for a puppy of their very own.
One night, while their parents attended a charity auction at the Inn of the Rio Grande, they impulsively bid on a purebred beagle puppy. To their delight, they won the bid and couldn't wait to bring this puppy home to their children. They named him Togo Rio Grande....a noble name for a noble dog. Togo was a family name as well and came with an array of stories describing brave and loyal acts.
These naive parents sometimes regretted this decision in the beginning. Their new puppy wasn't potty trained as they had been led to believe, and they spent more than one occasion cleaning up accidents in the house. In addition, Togo chewed through many rescue heroes and barbies before he grew out of the puppy stage. For some time, he believed his name was Togo Leave-it.
But despite these challenges, Togo provided so much joy and laughter to this little family and was always on the perimeter of the action....that is when he didn't follow his nose into trouble.
Togo, and their cat, Alli were never friends, but they were able to achieve an uneasy truce in the sunshine during the winter months.
This little family continued to grow and their little girl Danielle fell in love with Togo before she could even crawl. They became good pals and were generally nearby each other.
Somehow, time has a way of speeding up and this family started to grow. They moved from their childhood home to a new state and adjusted to Oregon. Life went faster and faster and often they took Togo for granted. He mellowed out and spent lots of time sleeping and lying in the sun.
During Christmas break of 2015, Togo stopped eating as much of his food and slept more than usual. But this busy family didn't seem to notice the changes because they were so subtle.
They finally realized the week of Valentine's Day 2016 that one of their great loves was dying of kidney failure. They suffered and grieved as they watched him weaken but never lose his dignity. He was loyal to the end and a regal beagle!
This family was changed by owning such a good dog, and they appreciated him all the more when he was no longer with him....but he will always be part of their family and in their hearts.
I often struggle with balancing my desire to learn new things with my desire to become more proficient at the things I have already started learning. I want to improve my skills on the piano, yet I would love to learn to play the guitar. I would like to become more skilled at knitting, but I would still love to learn a foreign language. I feel a desire to practice writing and yet want to read more books than there is time for. I want additional training as a counselor but need to be there for my kids during their formative years. Inside there is always a struggle for competing desires in finite time.
Sadly, we are limited in our time and must balance our competing wishes. All the way through my 30's I felt that with enough practice I could do anything I want. Now that I am older I am realizing that I have finite time and energy and must be more choosy about what is really important to me. The hard thing for me is deciding what I really want to do. I want to do everything! But alas, I can't. So I sometimes become paralyzed by indecision and do nothing.
It reminds me of the parable of the talents. I suppose it should be good enough for me to use my talents the best I can, double them and improve myself so that the Lord will tell me that I have done well and am a good and faithful servant.
I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never be great at any one thing. I won't be the best counselor, author, mother, leader, friend, wife, knitter. But I will try my best to continue to improve myself, and I will hopefully always be progressing in one way or another. My hope is that when I am too old to see or move around on my own that I will be able to sit back and feel joy over the well-spent years that I enjoyed (that is as long as I'm not afflicted with Alzheimers). And who knows, maybe this dog can still learn new tricks!
We have had a very full year indeed. I feel so grateful as I look over the pictures from this past year and marvel at how much we have managed to fit into 2015. Nicole enjoyed being part of a homeschool choir. She loves singing, art and music.
Brandon had a great time going to prom and especially enjoyed wearing a Tux! He felt a little like Gatsby.
We worked literally from sun-up till the last traces of available light painting our house on the hottest weekend of the summer. All of the kids chipped in tremendously and we could not have finished the huge job without their help! They helped us save $5000 with their combined labor, so we bought a new big-screen television to thank them for all their work.
Our home went from a faded rust to much more modern colors.
We have loved having family come visit this summer and enjoyed Crater Lake with the Cluffs. I finally made the hike down to the shore and was impressed with how fit Tyler and Susan are!
That hike was nothing compared to hiking Mt. McLoughlin a steep-sided lava cone that had a breathtaking view. Nathan and I were in charge of the 4th year hike and were happy to make it up to the top with all the girls...though it was close!
I enjoyed a quick mother/sisters weekend to attend Cami's choir with the Utah Chamber Artists. Happily, Nicole managed to make it to the lobby before she puked with the stomach flu! Poor girl had to lie on a bench for the rest of the concert.
Nathan and I enjoyed the annual ICMA trip to Seattle this year. We made the ride up to the top of the iconic Space Needle and enjoyed four bright, clear days. We especially liked the sights, sounds and smells of Pike's Market.
We sampled lots of delicious food and managed to have seafood every day of the trip.
We loved have Jeff and Jen Cherpeski and their family over for Thanksgiving Break. They joined us in some of our traditions and the kids had a great time playing together.
We found a gorgeous tree for our last Christmas with all of our kids at home.
I was especially nostalgic in being able to attend Connor's first Band Concert. It brought back a flood of memories from all my performances. I'm glad that he enjoys music!
After having almost no moisture, we finally have been blessed with huge amounts of beautiful, wet snow. Danielle and I got to build her first snow family and we made an awesome snow fort.
Danielle was fortunate to be a mouse in the Nutcracker, which was thrilling for her. We enjoyed the performance, knowing several of the dancers.
This has been a rich year full of wonderful memories and experiences. 2016 will bring many changes for our family. I liked a quote that one of my friends shared..."Change is inevitable and happy is the person who embraces it."
With all the chaos of completing my school, moving to Oregon, starting work and general busyness, our family didn't go camping for a couple summers. We were determined to go this summer, though there ended up only being one free weekend. Brandon had to work the first day, but he drove out the next day to join us.
This was the first trip that Danielle remembered camping, and she probably loved it more than all of the rest of us combined.
Nathan and the kids attempted to fish, but the drought has taken its toll on the water level and they didn't even get a nibble.
Still, our campsite was beautiful, and we got to hike a beautiful trail between Fish Lake and Lake of the woods.
We had a nice view of Mt. McLoughlin that Nathan and I hiked with the 4th year girls this summer. We also had a nice view of volcanic rock interspersed with forest.
The best part of trip was the last night when we told stories around the campfire. I didn't realize what an impact Nathan's nightly storytelling has had on our kids until I heard what great storytellers they are. Even more, they love telling stories together.
Camping was always so much harder with toddlers and babies. This was MY most relaxing camping trip. This kids were all a huge help and pretty much self-reliant.
I'm so glad that we carved out time to make these memories. Next summer I hope we can go more than once, but we will not miss camping for sure! I'm so grateful for my wonderful family!
***July 27, 2012-- Danielle (being potty trained) "Pee-pee's coming!!!" After saying that all week, she decided to play a joke on us...."Pee-pee's coming!!!.....No pee-pee coming. I so silly." ***July 14, 2011 -- Nicole: "I don't like to say too many words in baby language, because I might say a bad word, because I don't know what I'm saying." ***July 2011--Connor described the difference in fast food burgers, "McDonalds deep fries their hamburgers, but Burger King boils theirs." ***January 2011-- Danielle spit/blew on her food, said, "Haaa" (meaning hot) and then ate it and said, "Mmmmm." ***September 2010 -- The boys play SWAT team nearly every afternoon with all the neighborhood kids and their friends who come over. Nathan was heading out of the garage one evening after work, when Brandon ran around one corner of the house, Connor around the other, and their friend Kenai popped out of the garbage can. (Not a quote but it was pretty hilarious) ***9 September 2010 -- When all the kids were discussing what they want to be when they grow up, Connor said that he wants to be a City Imaginer of a small town like his dad. *** June 2010--Connor turned on the pre-recorded songs on our piano and started pretending to play. The song was quite fast, and he yelled out as he fingers flew over the keys, "Just imagine my fingers are smoking!" ***June 2010--Brandon told us a story about a time when he was making hot chocolate, using cocoa powder. He tasted it the first time and thought it was really bitter, so he added some more and said, "This tastes terrible!" while pouring it down the sink. ***July 2008--Nicole walked out of her room one morning yawning and told us, "I have shopping bags under my eyes."
I'm a mother of 5 children. My blog name comes from James Christensen's painting: The Responsible Woman. Every time I see that painting, I can relate....I love to read, cook, learn with my kids, play the organ and travel. I have homeschooled my children since 2004 and marvel at all my kids are able to do these days! I graduated with my Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2014 and work part-time as an outpatient counselor.