Today is Memorial Day, a day to honor our country's veterans and those we love who have died. Dan, Kayla and I went to the cemeteries yesterday and left flowers on graves...little blue carnations for Dougie, pink roses for Grandma Uthe, red carnations for Grandpa Falkena. There are other graves near these members that I never knew...a grandpa who died before I was born and a grandma who died before her son, my dad, was even married. We also visited the graves of Dan's family...his father, his grandparents, his great-aunts and great-uncles...even distant cousins who were gone long before Dan's parents were born. We left flowers there as well...a small token of our remembrance to them. Some of these graves have flags flying proudly beside them...veterans of past wars still being honored for their service.

Why do we only honor our loved ones who have died one day a year? Don't we remember them all year long? I do...I remember Grandpa Falkena always smoked a pipe and had lemon drops in his top dresser drawer. I remember Grandma Uthe always kissed me when I came to visit and always had LifeSavers in her purse. Funny the things you remember...

I think every day should be a day of honor and remembrance for those that serve or have served in the military. There is no job as hard as fighting a war, or training to fight in a war or knowing someday you may be called to do those jobs. I think we should remember the families who lost loved ones to war, the families who are supporting a loved one currently fighting and the families who are dealing with the soldiers who have come home in a different condition than they left it physical or mental. No one likes war, but we should all remember the brave men and women who fight, or have fought, for our freedom and support them more than just one day a year. We should also remember the loved ones who have left us...after all, they are the ones who helped mold us into who we are today, without them, there would be no Falkena or Josephson family. We owe a debt of gratitude to our families, both living and angels in heaven.

date May 25, 2009

How far can you lead someone into the lake before they drown? You know how to swim. You are with someone who knows how to swim. This person wants to go into the lake, in fact, their heart's desire is to spend their life in the lake...yet the farthest they have ever been is wading up to their knees, and the water was too cold. Now you lead them in and they get to their knees and are okay with it. So you take them a little farther and they seem a little anxious, but still okay, after all, they can swim, they have just never had to. The farther you go, the farther they follow and eventually they are over their head in the water...and they love it. But, they still have doubts on whether or not they can swim enough. So you shout encouragement to them, you give them life vests that you have used and are well worn, but still work. Then, just when you think everything will be okay they go under. They flail, they thrash around, they claim they are alright, but you don't believe you try to help. But instead of helping, this time you just push their head farther under the water. So how far do you go to help them? When do you just swim back to shore and let them either learn to trust their swimming ability or drown? How much is too much and how little is too little? Is there a cutoff?

Another example. You are going have done it lots of times and are confident in your have been doing it for years and know what mistakes can be made and how to fix them. But on this trip you are taking someone who has only skydived a few times, and those times were filled with fear and near-misses. But you are sure you can help this person because you are a pro at skydiving. Yet, when the time comes and you push this person out of the airplane you wonder if they remember how to open their chute. Did you tell them so many things that they will forget the simple one of just doing what comes naturally? Will they get scared and remember all the bad things that happened the last time they went? Did you tell them enough that every time is different and this time they just may land on the ground, in one piece, where they intended to land? Or do you just hope for the best and continue on your jump? When you get to the ground and this person is not there, do you look for them? Or what if they are there and they are upset with you because you pushed them out of the airplane? Do you try to convince them it was worth it and they should spend the rest of their lives jumping out of airplanes?

When do you just step back and let these people learn on their own? Is there a time when you can look at them and not wonder if they need help and you just might be the person to save them? What if your trying to save them makes them drown faster or makes their parachute not matter how hard you tried? How do you just step back from these people, people you love, and not try to help save them? 

date May 21, 2009

Tomorrow will be the first time in 14 years that there will only be one Josephson child enrolled in school at L-M. Today was the last day of Becky's high school career so now only Kayla is left. Brian was the "lonely only" for his first two years of school, but when he started 1st grade Becky started preschool...and she has had a sibling in school with her the entire time. One of the many woes of being the middle child I guess! Now only Kayla will be left to leave the lasting impression of the Josephsons on the school.

date May 12, 2009

I was reading a friend's blog and she had a post on "Why We Blog" requesting others to tell why they blog...well I can't pass up a challenge so here goes!

I blog to tell my family what is going on at my house. Granted, my parents only live 6 miles from me, but sometimes I get so busy in my day to day life that the little things get forgotten, and sometimes it is the little things that matter the most. I also have other family members that live farther away so they get to hear all the little details too...makes them feel like they are not missing out on anything. 

I also blog for my friends. In this busy life it is hard to get together with friends and find out what is going on, this way I can read their blog, they can read my blog and we all can stay caught up with each other. I also know that, although they don't admit it, my kids read my blog to see what I write about them. Now, even my daughter's boyfriend reads it...and since he will soon be in Iraq I hope it makes him not miss home so much.

But, I have to admit, I mostly write it for me. I have so many thoughts going through my head and so many things going on I have to write them all down just so that I can go onto the next thing.  I am far from a good writer, but for the people who read what I do write it is good enough. And that is good enough for me to keep doing it.

date May 11, 2009

Do you ever open your mouth and say something and then wish you hadn't? Lately that seems to be something I am doing a lot. Tell me some news and I will say something stupid in return. I vividly remember being told more than once when I was little to let my brain engage before I opened my mouth...I really need to start practicing that again :p Sometimes life hands you lemons and instead of me making some tasty lemonade I have been lobbing the lemons back at the head of the person who handed them to me...but now I am going to make that lemonade, add some ice and sit down with my family and friends and enjoy the times we will have. Think before you speak and life will be good...there is a reason silence is golden!

date May 10, 2009

Life at the Josephson house has been a roller coaster of emotions and adventures this wild ride!

Becky has one week until she week! We are trying to work on getting the last minute things done for the party, but she just plain doesn't care...Eli left a few days ago and she won't admit it, but she is pretty sad. Then yesterday Eli and I texted a few times and apparently that was more than he talked to her, so that wasn't good either. He now calls me mom and she is not crazy about that...I love it, but it is a little weird for Becky. So much emotion between Eli leaving and the last days of high school and the graduation ceremony...crazy, crazy, crazy.

Yesterday I got a call from Brian, he was planning to come home last night but while in Ames his car suddenly quit and wouldn't restart...right on the main street of town naturally. He had his flashers on and a car with a friend of his stopped behind him, but the car behind that did not technically Brian was the cause of an accident. Luckily no one got hurt, but Brian's car had to be towed and by the time he got done in the emergency room with his friend the tow place was closed for the night. Not a good day for any of them!

I, of course, am nothing but calm during all these calamities...if only that were true. With graduation only a week away I am feeling the stress of getting everything together for a party of 150-200 people and the thought of Becky graduating makes me weepy too. I thought I would be fine with Eli leaving, other than being sad for Becky, but I have grown to love that kid and it is like I am sending one of my own to war...which makes me weepy too.

But among all this stress there is a bright spot...Becky has decided to go to college at the University of South Dakota instead of Loyola in Chicago. This means she will only be three hours away instead of eight...when she made that announcement she made me very happy. Not only is USD much closer to home, it is also much less expensive for tuition...which means less she will have to take in student loans. Brian is still moving farther away, to Kansas, but he will still only be five hours away so that is not bad either. Both of them will be happy where they are and that makes me happy.

So I am guessing until I am settled with Becky graduating and moving to college, Brian moving farther away and until Eli is home safely again it is going to continue to be a wild ride at my house...but together we will make it through!

date May 9, 2009

I have been working at the same job for 20 years, with never a day off. Never a night off for that matter! My experience includes nursing, maid services, psychiatrist, chauffeur, mediator, photographer, healer of broken hearts, advisor, ATM machine and teacher. In other words, I am a mom.

Nothing changes you like becoming a mom. I remember when I told Dan we had a baby on the way, and I remember thinking it would be no big deal because I had done a lot of babysitting, I had years of experience already! At the ripe old age of 22 I became a mom and realized I knew nothing! Brian was quick to teach me however, and I learned what mattered and what didn't. The bottle isn't warmed up? No problem, he'll drink it cold. The pacifier fell on the floor? No problem, wipe it off and stick it back in. The blankets never stay on at night? No problem, put him in a blanket sleeper and turn up the heat a little. Little things turn into nothing when you have a baby, and the more babies you have the more relaxed you get. By the time Kayla came along she was lucky I didn't let her raise herself :-)

While you may learn that little things don't matter, you also learn that being a mom is the single hardest job you will ever do. You will spend hours feeding, changing diapers, potty-training, singing the ABC song, watching cartoons and Sesame Street, tying shoes and picking up toys...and that is just before they are old enough to go to school. When school starts you suddenly become the chauffeur, driving them to all the after-school activities, driving to all the concerts and shows. You begin to wonder if you live at home or at the school. Then, before you know it, they are graduating high school and moving out to college. Where did the time go?

Through the years you go from being the mommy who can heal the boo-boos with a kiss to the mom who makes cupcakes for the birthday celebrations at school to the mother who cheers at the ball games and school plays. Over all these years you also watch your child go from the little one who loves all their classmates to the middle schooler who loves their best friends and hates the opposite sex to the high schooler who hangs with the friends but has someone special to love...and it isn't you anymore. No more do you hear what happened at school, there are friends for that. No more do you hear about who your child likes this week, that is private and not for mom to know. If you are lucky you will get a tidbit here and there, or you can pry some information from a sibling, but by the time your kids are high school age they have taken secrecy to a new level...and you are out of the loop. But, this is exactly how we want to raise our kids..they have to able to be independent and not rely on their parents. We raise them that way, but that doesn't make it any easier when it happens.

I was blessed to have three beautiful, talented, intelligent children. I am almost done raising all of them, but I will never completely be done with their lives. Someday I hope to have three more children to love...a daughter-in-law and two sons-in-law...but that is a few years down the road. I even hope to someday expand to a whole other generation...grandkids. I think I will make a super grandma...spoil them rotten and send them home! But, even if I end up with only my three kids I will be happy...I have the best job in the world and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

date May 7, 2009

Contrary to the way this blog looks lately I do have children other than Becky! Just because of all that has been going on with her lately she has been the focus...and keeping me busy. But...Brian and Kayla have being doing things too...and of course that keeps me hopping as well.

Brian is busy with his last few days of fact his last day is today. He has been working on getting everything done for Kansas too. I told him he was old enough to do all the work that is involved in enrolling in college, since I did it all before it was time he found out what is going on. Boy did he find out! Housing forms and deposits, enrollment forms, financial aid...the list goes on and on. He went to Kansas for a visit last month and loved the campus and town so he will be happy there...where it is warm and not snowy! This boy is solar-powered and does so much better in warm weather...and while Kansas can get cold it is not as cold as Iowa. Even though he is gone from Ames I will still root for my ISU Cyclones!

Kayla is just working her way through the end of the school year...which now goes to June 2nd because of all the snow make-up days and missed days for state basketball. She will soon be doing semester tests and then have May Term with Sioux Central...which she is not looking forward to. She signed up for Forensic Science for May Term and is now wishing she would have chosen something else...but there were no music options so that was her choice at the time. Luckily one of her friends is also in that class so at least she will have someone to hang out with. Next week she is going to help Grandma J. decorate cupcakes for graduation...her May Term class last year was cake decorating so she has experience!

Life is forever passing by fast...that happens with kids I am told! I am looking forward to summer when everything slows down and I can go home in the evening and not have a school function to go to...but until Kayla gets her driver's license I will still be going home and playing chauffeur. The joys of summer!

date May 6, 2009

In three days Becky will have her heart broken. In a month she will have it broken again. In three days Eli leaves for a month of training and instructions. In a month he leaves for Iraq. So Becky has to say good-bye to him twice. It is going to be tough.

Becky and Eli have dated for six months. This is their second time around, they dated a few years ago too. Eli has become a fixture at my house. If he isn't there when I come home from work he will be there before the evening is over. Eli is 18 years old...age-wise he is a man, mentally he is a man...but to me he is just a kid. A kid who is going to war.

I have known a few people who went to Iraq. I know their names and their faces, but they are not a part of my life. This time it is different. This time it is someone I have grown to think of as part of my family, someone who is the most important person in my daughter's life. This time Becky is going to suffer.

Spring is graduation time, Becky is getting ready to leave high school behind and move onto college and start her independent life. But I know Eli is never far from her thoughts. She is excited to graduate, but she is also hoping that Eli will be able to get leave and come watch her walk across the stage. She is excited to move to Chicago and start college, but she is also hoping Eli will get to come home for a week in the summer to visit her. It is hard to move on with your life when the person you want to be with is in danger in a war zone.

I have had many people ask me if I think Becky and Eli will stay together through this next 14 months. I don't have an answer for that. My best response is that they are going to try...what more can they do? Becky can't go to Iraq to be with Eli and Eli can't go to Chicago to be with Becky. No more will they spend the evening on my couch, always some part of them touching the other...legs side by side, holding hands, her head on his shoulder. Now the best they will get is the sound of their voices over the phone.

Both of these kids have a lifetime of adventures ahead of them, be it together or thousands of miles apart. I can't see into the future to tell the outcome, but I know what I would want to see if I could. I know what they want to see in the future. But most importantly, we all want to see Eli come home.

date May 3, 2009
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