Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010... Hot off the press!

In an effort to both keep it simple and be greener, we have chosen the electronic method of communicating our holiday cheer! We had plans to hit up the copy store today to get the letters and Jackson's artwork copies, following by a drugstore to print the pictures, followed by lots of address-writing and stamp-sticking. I decided on a nap, instead.


Merry Christmas to all,

There’s one thing I’ve learned in all of the 31 holiday seasons I’ve experienced on this earth: some things get left undone, hence the reason that no one received Christmas cards from the Arthurs last year. Forgive us. This year, Scott has encouraged me to get one out. For being a guy, he TOTALLY loves the annual updates from friends near and particularly ones far.

Let’s start with what’s important… the boys:

Sullivan: Loves water, therefore loves the bath. Loves to be tickled under the neck. Loves carbohydrates (baked goods are his weakness!). Loves anything round and that rolls. Loves blocks and stacking. Hits his brother. Loves music… new favorite dance move: stepping backwards (he thinks it’s so cool). Loves being turned upside down. Refuses to talk: grunts and whines instead. Loves sneaking items in laundry basket, then having Mom discover them (boots, toys, etc) once already in dryer. Loves the thrill of jumping/slipping/falling off of anything elevated. Loves shoes (a fetish, for sure!). Loves playing hide and seek.

Jackson: Loves games. Any game: Candyland, Hi Ho Cherryo, Memory…you name it. Playing games = playing with other people = Jackson is not alone. Loves people and craves that social attention. Loves gymnastics. Petrified of swimming this year, but lessons helped him along. Sweet to his brother (unless getting hit). Loves getting fruit snacks for his success at potty training (#1 = 1 fruit snack #2 = 2 fruit snacks). Loves reading. Loves pretending (again, WITH someone else). Loves preschool and his teachers. Loves playing tennis with his dad and anything else: soccer, basketball… you name it!

Scott and I have been married for six years and – excuse the mushiness – lean on each other/ fall in love with each other more and more with each passing day. This is no new news to any of you, but life is dang hard… and what a joy to stumble through it with each other. We are humbled and scared out of our minds daily by the task of constructing a home and a life and a foundation for our children. Daunting and wonderful. Frightening and sweet. Worrisome and special… such is the stuff of parenting.

Quickly: Scott continues to work at The Mayo Clinic as Major Gift Officer and enjoyed the new adventure of racing in triathlons this summer (you should see him in a wet suit… oo la la!). I am still teaching 6th grade math part time, ran the Chicago marathon on 10-10-10 (qualfied for Boston!), and became a reverend (OK, it was an online click to be able to conduct our cousin’s April marriage ceremony in St. John’s, but I claim the title proudly!)

2010 included the loss of my dad. I wish I could hold tightly to the feeling I feel when I watch someone I love fall ill or pass on: gratitude for life and the preciousness of it. I wish I could keep every moment I am alive real and authentic, wasting no time on the unimportant “junk” of life. I wish I could always ward off fear and insecurity, remembering that I am just as I need to be as long as I am operating in love, resting in that assuredness from God. I know all of these things up close and personal through each of my seasons of loss, and it feels so right that the best way to honor those who have passed is to not let it fade. But I do. We do. Don’t we? Shall we agree to try our best in 2011?

Thank you for all of your love for and care of our family in 2010. We shoot it right back at ya!

Scott, Tricia, Jackson, and Sullivan Arthur

P.S. Enjoy the included artwork of Picasso Jackson. He was very excited to make it for you! [scanner not working... we will include this part whenever we get to it ... read: never]

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Resurfacing... I think

I am back in Rochester. Where I live. On the one hand, it feels so good to be home. On the other, coming home means heading into a full-fledged MN winter and coping with the reality of having no parents living.

Dad passed away at about 1:30 am on November 17. I couldn't help but notice, when I was holding Dad's hand at the Hospice Unit in the hospital and watching closely as he breathed, that it felt eerily similar to a previous night. Mom died in the middle of the night on the 16th (of June). I held her hand too.

The days that followed Dad's death and the funeral/visitation were all smooth events. The service itself was an authentic celebration of my Dad and all of his gifts to the lives of people around him. As I look back, I think he would be pleased and honored. Nancye, Dad's wife, and her family were involved, as well as loved ones from Dad's more extended history. It was a balanced representation of him. Nancye and I operate well together. Given her recent addition to my (and Dad's) life, being forced to make heavy and important and sometimes sensitive decisions in a unified way could had gone all shades of bad. But it didn't. This, among many other things, can be counted as an appreciated miracle.

And now we're back. And I've verbally expressed to everyone around me how much I look forward to re-engaging in all the day-to-day things I had been pulling back from: Getting back involved in orangizations I am apart of, actually responding to the preschool newletter about ways to volunteer, accepting invitations to do fun, social things with girlfriends, supporting the people I love, signing Sullivan and Jackson up for swim/soccer/gymnastic lessons, cleaning my house (oh, wait, I don't do that normally :), etc, etc.

The grief I anticipate experiencing in coming days/weeks/months will come in a package. I know this about myself, because I've been feeling it for 3 months, since I first learned of Dad's pancreatic cancer diagnosis. This season of life for me will be about grieving my Dad as an individual, for sure. But I know it will be coupled with the reality of moving forward on this planet with no living parents... of no grandparents for my kids on my side... doing what parents and grandparents do: sending anniversary cards, giving advice, checking in on us, giving thoughtful gifts, remembering special events, encouraging me, celebrating me, supporting me. Parents are one's number one fans. And now I must rely on the cheerleaders around me (read: SCOTT! and many others) for this kind of support. Thank that wonderful, always-present God for supplying me with some pretty kick-butt cheerleaders in my life. I've been left in good hands.

Thanks to all those who have expressed their love in recent weeks: flowers, cards, memorial donations, phone calls, emails, facebook comments, and the like. I know I will never be able to get all the thank you notes out... but let my thanks be sent out into cyber space at the very least in this format!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Better Now

Whew, am I glad for a week of nothing new. When I look back at the previous month or so, there were new bugs hitting my windshield from moment to moment. I didn't realize until this past week how much my spirit needed to find solice in a BASIC week with no new stimulus or information. No fires to put out. No news to keep up on. Everyone in my life was stable, including (towards the end of the week) ME!

Monday, October 18, 2010


I am doing fine. I think I am.

Saying so feels a bit "The Little Engine That Could"-ish. I know there's no other choice than walking through the journey that lies ahead (no matter how uphill it might be). But I sometimes can't get a grip on exactly how "stressed" I am.

In one moment, I feel in total crisis mode, like I need to button down the hatches and seclude myself from all the "regular" commitments and life dimensions other than necessary ones: parent my kids, be a wife, go to work, and love on my dad. I feel like I cannot give to anyone else or anything else. I feel like I need to be careful with myself.

And in the next, I find myself wondering, "What, really, has changed...?" I mean, life as I know it is no different on a day to day basis while my dad is battling pancreatic cancer. I should still be able to fulfill all my normal social and other commitments. I should still be able to volunteer for things and provide support to other people around me.

But then my head gets all full pretty fast and I find myself drowning again.

And then I crack open Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy and melt away into a really great story. Stressed people shouldn't be reading for pleasure, should they? Isn't there something else I should be doing to make me less stressed? Like productive things?

I call on Dad usually twice a day. That's about right, right? I ask how I can support Nancye. Should I be more proactive there? I just finished a one-week trip to Hilton Head with Dad and family and plan on seeing him next for Thanksgiving. That's a five-week period in between. Is that too much?

It's just an emotionally timultuous time. And I need to give myself grace and leeway for wavering between feeling balanced and unbalanced. And that's the thing: there will be a lot more of that back-and-forth swinging before it's all said and done.

My prayer is that A) my husband can put up with me while he supports me through another battle with cancer on my side of the family and period of emotional fragility and B) I will have no regrets with how much and how quality the remaining time I have with my dad.

Who am I kidding? I can't boil down my prayers to A) and B)... there's also so many other heavy things on my heart. My brother, my good friend in Rochester facing an ugly divorce, my in-laws and their health concerns, my incredibly phenomenal Columbus peeps and all the junk being tossed their way... Wheweee does life feel difficult for a lot of the people dear to my heart...

We will all be OK, though. That's how God designed it. With faith, we will all be OK. One way or another.

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Don't let the bugs eat you."

This past weekend I was in Louisville with both kids. Cousin Jessica was assisting Jackson get to bed one night (we stayed overnight at the McClain home). She laid down with him till he passed out. Later, she reported that she had casually said, "Jackson don't let the bed bugs bite." To which he responded: "Don't let the bugs eat you." That's another way of saying it.

I haven't used the blog avenue to report in about my Dad's health situation, but I am going to paste an update below from a recent email sent out. Background for those who may not know: Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer the Friday of Labor Day weekend. The tumor is inoperable, due to its complexity and proximity to a major artery. Therefore, we are remaining hopeful that Dad's life can be extended and fully lived for as long as possible. With that, the following is the most recent:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My recent fav quotes of J

"I your best friend." -Jackson means to suggest that you are HIS best friend, but he makes the presumption that the opposite is true as well.

"Can we do dat idea you haved about eating pinecones?" - I told him Tues morning that after nap time we might go and get ice cream cones. (P.S. The word "might" doesn't exist in a child's world!). He awoke from his nap with eyes wide open and the above question/exclamation. It took me a couple secs to grasp what he meant.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What do you want to do when you become an adult?

Jackson: Work

Scott: What kind of work do you want to do?

Jackson: I want to paint.

Scott: OK, that's great buddy. What kinds of things do you want to paint?

Jackson: I want to paint walls.

So there you have it. His first assertion about what he wants to do for a living. I thought it was cute.

P.S. I'm painting the half bath walls at the moment. When will the day come when he DOESN'T want to do everything I do, following in my every footstep and thinking I'm the coolest? I'm hiring a sitter that day.

He's been playing us.

Sullivan, that is.

To give some background, the little guy doesn't use ANY words. He hardly uses "Mama" or "Dada." And even when he does, he doesn't use them to actually address us. In general, we haven't been feeling as though there is much of a connection in communication at all. Speaking to him sort of seemed more for us than for him; we haven't seen much register when we've directly spoken to him, making us wonder if any comprehension is going on.

For his age, he's behind the curve in this area. I was just starting to fret, when...

Yesterday during lunch I mistakingly busted out a blueberry muffin (P.S. Sullivan is a CARB kid) in visual range before he had finished eating much of any of the delicious broccoli, chicken, and peaches on his tray. Scott and I openly confess that we cave more easily with Sullivan when it comes to eating because a) juggling both his and Jackson's food prep and presentation means we don't monitor how much he's eaten/what he's eaten as closely (Sometimes his meals are truly progressive in nature, i.e. throw some cheese on the tray, he fusses that he's finished, throw a cup of apple sauce on the tray, he fusses that he's finished, throw anything nearby on his tray... just getting by while we finish whatever we're doing... ) and b) he's the pickiest dang eater (and not consistent with his preferences... he'll love banana for a day, then hate it for the next three - quite the tough one to please :).

This said, when he is unwilling to eat what we've prepared for him (and making a stinking mess by swirling it aroud his tray, not to mention swooshing it OFF his tray) and we KNOW he needs food, we often throw our hands up in the air and say, "OK, we give... have 12 pickles for dinner and call it a day." or "You want wheat thins in place of your green beans? FINE."

But yesterday was a day when I was feeling rather firey. He caught sight of aforementioned muffin before most of his other food stood a chance (and the other food was - for once - going down REALLY well before I blew it!). I knew once he got a taste of the sweet scrumptiousness of that baked good, it was OVER for everything else. So, I decided to reason with him about it: "You must eat the rest of your broccoli in order to eat this muffin." (inserting body language and hand gestures to fully express myself to my one-year-old). Sullivan continues swiping his hands from side to side, shaking his head violently. Now comes the part where this scenerio is reduced to the principle of the thing: "OK, Sullivan. Look at me, Sullivan. Listen: You need to eat this one piece of broccoli, then you can enjoy that muffin." I shove it in his hand. He throws it. I put it back on his tray and repeat myself 4 dozen times. He fusses, shakes, swipes, claps, kicks - ALL THE WHILE STARING AT THAT DARN MUFFIN.

I wasn't letting this one go. (For visual reference, the piece of broccoli was the size of my pinky fingernail and in no way consituted a well-balanced meal, even with what he'd already eaten. He was going to "win" even with that teensy eensy broccoli bit consumed... BUT IT WAS ABOUT NOT BACKING DOWN at this point.)

So, as I continue this painstaking process, I can't help but wonder if anything I'm saying is even getting through to the kid. Since we hadn't had many previous success stories about 'understanding one another,' I was really beginning to think it was all for not.

Regardless, after fighting it out a few minutes longer (felt like years), all the while with Jackson as a curious onlooker ("What's Mommy gonna do? She's really making a deal about that silly piece of broccoli!"), I called the fight. It was over. He had his chance. He was done. No broccoli = no muffin. I was explaining that he was "all done" and he just fussed away. I walk to the sink, got a wash cloth (fussing, fussing, banging hands on tray, reaching towards table for muffin). I wiped off his hands and his mouth (fussing, fussing, squirming, squirming, reashing towards table for muffin). I placed my hands on the tray and was sliding it away when SUDDENLY, his grew silent and stealthily swiped that piece of broccoli, bringing it to his mouth in one swift movement.

I about fell on the floor.

Instead of falling to the floor, though, I praised the kid to high heaven. Jackson looked at me and said, "Mommy, he ate dat piece of broccoli!" And this began our celebration. Jackson and I danced and clapped and cheered and smiled and then I said, "Good job, Sullivan! I asked you to eat the broccoli and you did! Thank you for doing what I asked you to do! Yey, Sullivan, yey!"

He responded with a blueberry muffin crumb-filled grin.

I called Scott later that day to report in that, "Sullivan has been playing us."

The kid TOTALLY knows what we are saying. He just appears as though he doesn't, because he never feels like complying.

Oh, geez. We got a doozy on our hands. I need to order a few more parenting books. This is a whole different ballgame.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why is it...

... that even after 13 years of living out of my childhood home, I still - to this day - ocassionally reach under the sink for the garbage disposal switch?

I know that mine is not there. But it feels like it should be.

I must've used the garbage disposal a lot as a child :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

More Bemidji Fun

The triathletes.... and those who cheer for/love them!

Scott and Troy not only finished their first triathlons... they were studs! Both completed the swim/bike/run competition in less than 1 hour 30 minutes. Both the Arthurs and the Lindloffs spent the weekend in Bemidji, MN for a get-away, but the real root reason for the trip was the Bemidji tri. We met up several other couple friends for some beaching, eating, skiing, and pontooning while there. Troy took Jackson and his kids fishing (a hoot!), we walked across the Mississippi River where it BEGINS, we tried our hand at canoeing, and - of course - we cheered our hearts out at the tri. Blast!

Look carefully: "Go Troy!"
Backside: "Go Scott"

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Whirlwind trip to KY and OH

In reverse order, these are the photos from our awesome trip to Louisville, Columbus, then Indian Lake. We spent a LOT of time with family and a LOT of time in the car. But, what a blast!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Strawberry Picking

Jackson's 3 year celebration

I'm quite behind on the following Memorial Day weekend pics. Dad, Nancye, and Justin visited for the weekend and we had a BLAST. Great weather, great food, great birthday celebrations. Good time was had by all. Thanks for making the trip, gang!
Jackson, the birthday boy, and his ice cream cake topped with tea lights (sometimes you just gotta be resourceful!) Jackson found the cake to be too cold, after a few bites. Sullivan did NOT.
Good family pictures are nearly impossible these days!

Dinner OUT!
We got a sitter and had an adult-only outing... thanks Dad and Nancye!

Dad and Nancye

Justin and me right before dinner

Papa John and Nanny's gift to J for his 3 year bday was a swing in the front lawn - he was SO excited! This and the next pic is the installation process... I'll give you one guess who the money was in the tree (my dad is infamous for being higher than he should be without proper precautions)

One of out many meals scrunched around the eat-in kitchen table!

Jackson's bike... gift from Gma Lynette, Poppy, and us. We made an event of all going to the store to retrieve it. Jackson was PSYCHED (and subsequently, petrified - the training wheels allow a bit of a "give" and he's still getting used to that jiggle!)