Thursday, January 25, 2007

Things to look forward to

Lense implant surgery soon (February 13th for the right eye about 90 days later for the left eye)- no more glasses or contacts.

New Semester with new students - a chance to ignite the potential in science.

Sun is staying up longer - more minutes of sunshine.

Going to see the Newsboys in Concert in March - Eli missed them at Sonshine last summer because of Tornado Warnings (not so good for an outdoor event!).

Easter is on it's way - One of my favorite holidays!

My birthday is in March - the older I get the less appeal birthdays have, but it is a sign that summer is on the way.

Mona (mother -in-law) is recovering from total knee replacement surgery and will be able to drive soon - it's just a long drive to help with groceries and mail.

I have to make lists like this on occasion as winter drags on and we are stuck in the house. Thanks for reading.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Deep thoughts

Roger took the intiative to suggest going to a one night marriage speaker at our church this Friday - last night. I love going to hear speaker's and learn. If I could afford it I would always be in school! I am off topic already...We heard Amy and Micheal Smalley speak about some tools that help with communication. Yes, Michael is related to Gary Smalley, the therapist and writer. In fact, Michael is his son. It was so great to hear some stories that might not have made it into his dad's books. He is the marriage counselor for us 30 somethings (I'm late thirties, but not quite 40 yet!).

They both covered material regarding how to feel safe - not just on a physical level, but in a way the would create intimacy. The second topic they talked about was taking personal responsibility. It was sort of condemning, in a good way, to be reminded that when we start to pointing fingers, our spouses will often start pointing back! So, before I start blaming Roger for my unhappiness, I need to look deeper in myself for why I unhappy. I am the only one that can change me. That was a lot of what the 2 hour seminar was about. It truly never hurts to be reminded of these basic marriage skills.

One statement in the seminar sticks in my mind, the things that you use to love about your spouse when you first met are probably the things that irritate you now. For example, if your husband was funny, spontaneous and outgoing your might find him to be impatient, loud and insensitive. It is interesting how time changes our perspective of our spouses. Amy and Micheal asked us to remember what brought you together in the first place and rejoice in your differences.

So, I reflected on that. Not that Roger and I are struggling, but to remember how we met. To make a long story short, Charity, and the miracle of her birth, brought us together. We got pregnant before we were marriend - and actually did not have plans to get married. We were going to place Charity up for adoption - thinking that this would be the best for her instead of growing up in a single parent home. I did that as a child and it was tough. Once Charity was born and this child became real to Roger, God changed his heart. Almost overnight, we decided to be parents and then partners for life.

I listen to people speak about how wonderful my daughter is, mature, smart, talented, sensitive, etc. She is all these things. They ask us how - and truly it is not our parenting that has made is all happen. We were just blessed to be able to follow God and play a part in seeing her grow up. I am so glad to say that God used her birth to change so many lives, especially Roger's and mine.

So, Roger and I continue on our journey. We are so gratefull to have humble beginnings and be reminded of that so that we can share our story with others.

I pray that you many be blessed today.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Aging love

This past Tuesday, I was the chauffer and responsible adult for my mother-in-laws knee replacement surgery. It was past due and she was in a lot of pain. She had orthoscopic surgery on the same knee last June. That didn't really work. Both my in-laws are blaming the past surgeon for not doing the right thing. Who knows? Mona, my in-law, can't really sit still -ever! I introduced her to scrapbooking a couple of years ago and she actually stood for most of the time she worked - quite amazing to me. I have a feeling that she pushed her recovery last June - because it felt better-but wasn't totally healed yet. It is more than likely a combination of the two. She had a different surgeon do the knee replacement surgery.

Roger's dad, Leon, is always a complete wreck while we are sitting in the waiting room. He truly loves Mona and depends on her for so much. He is classified a legally blind and cannot drive and can't really read or watch much tv without several magnifying glasses on and pulled close to his face. I often wonder, as a couple grows older, does the love grow sweeter or do you just learn to put up with each other over the years? We all have our "AS IS" tags, but you wonder if love can survive? My parents were divorced when I was five, I have been married 12 - this is his parents 45th year together and I wonder if it is love or just convenience that keeps them together?

As we were waiting with Mona before surgery, Leon was actually fussing over her. He was tucking in her blanket, making sure she was comfortable. It was such small thing, but done with such love and concern. She doesn't usually sit still long enough to be fussed over - so this was an interesting dynamic for me! In this small way, he was showing how much he loved her. His panic while waiting is a panic of fear -fear to lose the one person that loves him unconditionally - AS IS tags and all.

She made it thruogh the surgery just fine. It will be many weeks before she can get around on her own. This will give Leon the chance to shower love as her as she recovers and keep the marriage strong.

God Bless


Skiing with Eli

Charity likes to swim. It is nice and warm in the pool area - no need for extra clothing. Eli on the other hand likes to ski. He loves to be outdoors. He is a lot like his father in this way. It also keeps his lazy mom active. We really haven't had any snow here in Minnesota this year - so we have not been very excited to go skiing. They always make snow, but for this Colorado native it is like skiing on ice pellets. I have truly been spoiled by the real snow in the Rocky Mountains. (Cheri - I have never been to the Alps to ski, but my guess is that MidWestern skiing would be mighty disappointing coming from almost anywhere!).

Anyway, enough complaining. Roger, Eli and I went skiing this last weekend. Eli is taking lessons and we actually bought Sunday passes at a local hill. Eli loves to go up the hill on the towrope and manuever on the snow. It is so fun to watch as a parent to see the joy. We only skiied for a couple of hours. I end up getting cold or tired by the end of this and that is the length of Eli's lessons. He had a great time and slept very well after the physical activity.

Thanks for reading


Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I actually hate returning gifts, probably because I don't like to shop very much. I didn't have much money growing up, and shopping just depressed me. Charity has a much more balanced perspective - just because you shop doesn't mean that you need to buy. Plus, she is 13 and likes to hang out at the mall with her friends - I guess that I did that too.

So, in addition to the wonderful curio I got, Roger's sister and mother got me sweaters. I am thankful that they thought enough about me that they shopped and purchased. My own mother hasn't sent me a Christmas gift for years, so it is nice to be remembered. Unfortunately, both did not fit. I guess that they are under the impression that since I am short that I also wear a size small - not the case. We make a family trip to the mall - Charity was so excited to be in the mall with a cellphone! I go to return the two items - without receipts - didn't want to offend the in-laws (walking on eggshells around his sister as it is). One store offered me .98 cents for the item. I knew that she bought it on sale, but this was crazy. I then went to Macy's. My sister-in-law bought the item from The Bon Marche in Seattle which was purchased by Macy's. Not even a can I check into this for you - the customer service was horrible, and by this time I was extremely frustrated. THIS is part of the reason why I don't shop at Macy's - Cabela's has better customer service. I would buy a sweater from there anytime!

So, here I am trying to figure out what to do with these gifts that don't fit and I can't return. I finally just called Roger's mom and she sent me the receipt for the one sweater. I drove back to the mall - about 25 minutes away - I they still would only give me .98 cents since it was purchased back in February. Then I thought - who buys gifts that early? My mother-in-law. I sort of made a scene and explained that I just got it for Christmas and drove back there a second time with the receipt. I then exchanged it for and item worth $9.99. I was even willing to got over the purchase price of $19.99, but after the hassle I didn't. Again, what happened to the good old days of customer service? I have to get brave and call my sister-in-law for the other receipt. That might be a blog for another day.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, January 01, 2007

Roger's Sister

Roger’s sister, Tammy, and her family came to visit us from Seattle over Christmas. We love Tammy from 2000 miles away. As the movie, When Harry met Sally says, she is high maintenance. And I have noticed that most women that can be classified in this way don’t seem to mind. They know it. I guess that maybe it is us low maintenance kind of women that are somewhat bothered and bewildered by the whole process.

How long does it really take to get ready to go shopping? My entire family was up, dressed and had breakfast and on the road by 9am. On a work day this somehow occurs by 7am. We had a plan – see a movie at the Science Museum, get Roger’s hearing aid fixed and then head to the mall to return or try to return (look for a blog on this) some Christmas gifts. I called Roger’s mom from the mall at 1pm that day and they still had not left to go shopping as they had planned. Most of her day was gone. Her parents, as well as I, were baffled by this.

Is this how she really functions on a daily basis? Is she ever on time to work? She works the afternoon shift, so maybe this would explain her timetable.

We all want to be “normal” – whatever that means. But the reality is that we all have this distorted view of what that should be. John Ortberg has a book called “Everybody is Normal (until you get to know them)”. This book explains how we all have an “AS IS” tag. Some people, like clothing, have minor defects like an uneven seam or a missing button. Other people, (and I put myself in this category) have bigger flaws, like a missing zipper or having one pant leg longer that the other. The truth is, nobody is that “normal” that we all think that exists. We need to function in a world of “AS IS” people.

So, when I got married, I thought “Now this is a normal family”. The longer I function in this new set of family dynamics the more I realize that my family was not so weird afterall. Okay, so all of our flaws were very noticeable – but at least nobody was surprised at what they were getting. I have learned that in the Riesgraf family you don’t talk about anything bad – divorce, miscarriages, bad behavior by family members, etc. The flaws were to remain hidden – especially by those outside the family.

So, back to Tammy’s visit. We all brace ourselves for her visits. She often makes what could be an enjoyable experience very stressful instead. The world must revolve around her. We ended up spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day without her. They were supposed to leave Seattle Friday the 22nd but could not manage to get packed and ready to go until Sunday the 24th. We had a relaxing celebration without her.

She arrived with her family, husband and two daughters, on Tuesday the 26th. After they rested from 48 hours of driving, we celebrated Christmas together on Wednesday night the 27th. The girls, Caileigh and Courtney, are always such a joy to see. Dinner was good and I held my tongue while we opened presents. I discovered that the gift giving was all about her as well. It wasn’t really about receiving a gift that you really wanted/needed, but how the gift reflected on her – how much time she spent finding it, or the amount of money it took to buy it. She called tons of times about ideas for gifts for the kids – apparently they didn’t sound good to her, but my kids would have enjoyed those gifts much more than what they got. I held my tongue and said thank you. I did my best to not rock the Riesgraf boat of silence.

When we wanted her to open her gifts, she got very huffy. The strange this is that this part really is about her and she didn’t want to enjoy it. Maybe because the outcome was something she could not control. She could only receive what was given – kind of scary for a control freak.

They are on their way back to Seattle in the snow that almost got here. Our lives will return back to “normal” – whatever that is.

Thanks for reading