We finally got away this summer for a long weekend at the beach. Of course, Gabe’s new school started the day before we left. Here’s how he looked in his new “uniform” for Kestrel Heights Elementary School.
And here’s a quick recap from our weekend at the beach.
I can’t believe we are halfway through June. It seems like only yesterday we were loading the kids in the van to take them to the zoo. But wait, that was back in April, Easter weekend, April 7th to be exact. Korey and I were looking at our calendar that week and realized that was the only Saturday we were going to have free for a couple of months and we didn’t want to trek around the zoo in the heat of the summer. So we got up early that morning, dressed in layers since it was 38 degrees outside when we were leaving, but temperatures were supposed to rise quickly through the morning for a high around 72 degrees. After a quick stop at Chick-fil-a for breakfast we headed to Asheboro to visit the NC Zoo.
In March, Gabriel finished up the flag football season with an Weekly Sportsmanship Award. It was a good end to a fun but cold season.
The same week Gabriel received his baseball team assignment and began baseball practice with the South Durham Little League AA Orioles. After a few weeks of practice, we spent most of April, May and the first week of June watching Gabe play baseball. He tried his hand at outfield and second base, but his favorite position was catcher.
2012 Baseball portrait
In the dugout - First game
The boys didn’t have the best record, but they all really seemed to have a great time!
Posing during Opening Ceremonies in the rain - March 31, 2012
I’m way behind on posting and hope to catch up this week, but I could let anymore time go by before I shared Ethan’s 4 year-old pictures. He had a great time dressing up and getting his pictures made all by himself this time. I still can’t decide which is my favorite.
On Sunday, February 19, 2012, Korey’s father, Ralph Klier ended his journey here on earth and began that unimaginable walk with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in Heaven. Since that day I have thought about Ralph often. I think about his strength, his courage and the example he set through the life he led. While we were in Texas for his memorial service, his daughter Kristi asked for my help with the obituary. I think what we came up with was fitting, but after the memorial service I still felt like something was missing. That there had to be more to the story… so way to help others see the legacy this man left behind for generations to come. I’ve tried several times to write my thoughts down, but it just wasn’t working. I’ve told the story over and over in my head, but couldn’t find the right voice. Then, this morning in church Pastor Benji Kelley started a new series on Miracles: Encounters with Christ.
Today’s sermon was taken from Mark 4:35-41 where we learn about how Jesus had the disciples take a boat across the Sea of Galilee. After Jesus falls asleep in the stern, a powerful storm sends waves crashing over the sides of the boat and the disciples wake him to ask “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38) Of course Jesus cares and he calms the waters asking his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40) As Pastor Benji talked about this storm in relationship to the storms in our life, I couldn’t help but thing of Ralph. Here was a man who battled leukemia, a heart transplant and lung cancer. Talk about storms. I’m sure there were others, but these are the ones I know about that stood out to me. Pastor Benji talked about how we find ourselves in the midst of our own storms and how sometimes it was our own bad decisions, sometimes it was Satan or a broken world who put us there; then again sometimes it is even God who places us right in the middle of the storm. In our human response we often spend most of our time begging God to to do a removal job and take away our storms, but if fact God wants to do an improvement job instead. Obviously Ralph’s bad decisions didn’t cause these medical problems, but were they Satan-made or God-made? And why would God put one man through so much? Then we came to this passage:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith developes perserverance. Perservance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4
After hearing that passage I looked over at Korey and said “That’s your Dad.” Ralph stared each of his battles in the face and turned to God, giving God complete control of the situation. Was he upset, scared, worried for himself and his family? I’m sure he was. I know I would have been. But he always remained calm, so sure that God would take care of everything. His faith never wavered as he battled through his storm. It was as if he had reached that place of maturity and completeness that we read about in James and now he was ready for his walk with Jesus. If there is only one thing I could pass on to my children about their Opa, it would be his faith. I hope they have the kind of faith throughout their lives that Opa had.
One of the best conversations I had was with Korey’s stepmom, Rita, about Ralph’s last hours. It seemed that for the better part of 17 years, since he was first diagnosed with leukemia, Ralph and Rita had been preparing for this moment. Once the leukemia was in remission, they had a few good years before being hit with a massive heart attack that left him on a heart & lung machine and a week later, with a heart transplant. Now 9 years later it seemed that lung cancer would be his final storm. But Ralph took it all in stride. He tried the treatments and survived for several months with few symptoms. Then, in early February, Rita found him in a diabetic coma. That seemed to be the first sign that the end was near, but he rallied and came home the same night. Rita shared with me how on their last night together, she sat with him for hours helping him clean up. He seemed to be be having a good night. He was looking forward to seeing Korey, his first born, and spending time with him as it seemed that their time together was always to short. On Sunday morning the Hospice nurse came over and helped him bathe and resettle in his hospital bed in the family room. Once the nurse left, Ralph and Rita snuggled in the bed and enjoyed watching Joel Osteen together. Rita said that Ralph napped and they talked. He was so happy that Korey was arriving soon. They talked about how proud he was of his kids and the lives that had made for themselves. They prayed for the kids and for the future, whatever it held. Prayer was their weapon, the one thing that allowed them to persevere and weather every storm. Rita told him it was after 11 and Korey’s flight was on the ground. He should be with Kristi and Aaron on the way to College Station now. Rita told me things were so quiet and peaceful as she lay there holding him and then he just closed his eyes and was gone. Through all of his illnesses, Ralph had always told Rita that he was surrounded by doctors and nurses to take care of him, but the only thing that gave him peace was knowing that the kids were all there for her. Now it was like he was persevering once more, waiting for Korey to get to Texas so that the kids could rally around Rita through his final storm and she wouldn’t be alone.
Korey told me he was afraid his Dad was gone to be gone before he got there, no matter when he arrived. Either he would be gone or Korey would go, visit and come home because things would look good, and Ralph would pass before he could get back to Texas. Knowing that Ralph died peacefully at home with Rita, gave Korey comfort. He knew that his father loved Rita and she had always loved him in return. It was a storm Korey could have faced with regret and with guilt, but instead, like his father, he faced it with faith, knowing all was as it should be. Ralph died in the presence of his two great loves, Rita and Jesus Christ. Ralph was no longer in pain, no longer suffering, and forevermore, he would be watching out for all of us from heaven, only a heartbeat away.
So when we heard about miracles, storms, faith and perseverance today, I couldn’t help but think “this is the message…. this is what was missing all those times I tried to write about Ralph.” My kids are young and I wanted to capture Ralph for them, not just in pictures, but in words to describe exactly what his life stood for and how important the example was that he set for all of us. I want them to trust in God just like Opa did and know that even when God throws us right into the middle of the storm, if we trust in Him there were surely be nothing but sunny skies on the other side of the storm.
Here’s the official obituary:
Ralph Ewald Klier
September 16, 1940 – February 19, 2012
Ralph Ewald Klier, of College Station, Texas, passed peacefully into God’s loving arms on February 19, 2012. A celebration of Ralph’s life will be held at 2 pm on Sunday, February 26, 2012 at Peace Lutheran Church in College Station with a reception to follow.
Ralph was born on September 16, 1940 in Fredericksburg, TX to Ewald and Josephine Klier. He graduated from Texas Lutheran College with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He worked as a CPA and retired from Texas A&M University.
Ralph found a lasting happiness with Rita Ruff German. They were married on September 24, 1982 and spent the next 30 years living and loving together. God and family came first and foremost for Ralph. His faith was strong and obvious to all who knew him. Having survived a fight with leukemia in his 50s and receiving a heart transplant when he needed it most in his 60s, he knew that it was God who made miracles happen. Ralph knew that these second chances allowed him the the added time that he had with his family, the chance to meet his children’s spouses, and to know and love his 10 grandchildren. He was looking forward to saying thank you for the miracles he received in person. This is giving the family much comfort at this time as they know that Ralph is now in heaven, free of pain and suffering and he is enjoying an unimaginable walk with our Lord. May others recognize and follow his example of humility, and his self-giving love so that they too may experience that walk one day.
Ralph is survived by wife, Rita, and his 4 children: Korey Klier, of Durham, North Carolina, wife Amanda, and their children, Gabriel, Ethan, Elizabeth, and Zachary; Kristi Mueller, of College Station, Texas, husband Aaron, and their children Megan and Matthew; Brian German, of Caldwell, Texas, wife Steffany and their children Tyler and Ashley; Hillary Ramos, and her children Anthony and Kaylee; mother-in-law, Rae Ruff; former son-in-law Anthony Ramos and his wife Shauna, all of Bryan, Texas. He is also survived by his siblings, Curtis Klier of Arlington, Texas and wife Kathy, Karen Klier, Gary Klier and wife Brenda, and Janet Jung and husband David, all of Fredericksburg, Texas; sister-in-law Nancy Carruthers and husband Bill of Whidbey Island, Washington, and numerous nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his parents, his sister Tracy and his brother Wilburn.
Ralph and Rita have been long-time active members of Peace Lutheran Church in College Station where he often helped teach Sunday School. Ralph was also an avid deer hunter and especially enjoyed the camaraderie he had while relaxing at the cabin in Fredericksburg with family and friends. He could sit for hours in a deer stand watching birds, rabbits, deer, and other creatures foraging. Ralph took delight in the fact that his children shared his interest in this hobby and enjoyed sharing the rewards from his trips from a stocked freezer throughout the year.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to Hospice Brazos Valley, an organization that took great care of Ralph in his finals days and that Ralph has supported for years.
Hospice Brazos Valley
502 W. 26th Street
Bryan, TX 77803
It’s amazing how technically savvy kids are these days. There are a lot of games on my phone and Korey’s iPad that Gabriel has to explain to me. Of course I am guilty of giving him my phone to play one of the games I have installed for him when I just need to keep him busy for a few minutes; whether he is sitting in the grocery cart while I grab a few things or to keep him quiet while we wait for dinner when dining out. When Gabe was little and Korey or I would have to take a business trip, we would Skype with him every night so that he could see whoever was away. Now with the iPad and Google Talk, we use our cell phones to have “face-to-face” time when we are away. It has even come in handy with Opa and Oma in Texas. Since Opa recevied his iPad for Christmas, Korey tries to call him regularly on the iPad’s Facetime application so that he and Oma can see the kids and get to talk to them. It’s much easier to keep 2 and 3 year olds engaged when there is a video and not just the telephone. Here’s what our session on Saturday afternoon looked like:
Lined up to talk to Opa & Oma.
Ellie getting some one-on-one time.
The kids love talking to Opa and Oma this way. They get even more excited when Kaylee and Anthony are around to chat with them too. If this is where communication is today, I can only imagine how I will be chatting with my grandchildren!
In late September, Korey’s father and stepmother called with some bad news. Korey’s Dad, Ralph, aka the Miracle Man, had been back to the doctor because he couldn’t shake the cough from a summer case of pneumonia. Turns out, it wasn’t pneumonia after all, but a rare form of lung cancer. Because of Ralph’s previous medical history and the fact that this was a rare form of cancer without a lot of cases for reference, the doctors had no prognosis. Korey chose to take that as good news. That there was a possibility that it would be treatable and he could overcome this too. For those of you who don’t know, Ralph is already a cancer survivor having battled leukemia in his 50s and going into full remission. Then just over a year after we married we received an urgent call from Rita, Ralph’s wife. Ralph had gone in for a routine catherization but he already had a blockage so severe that the procedure caused him to have a massive heart attack. He was being airlifted to a specialized hospital in Austin. He survived the heart attack, but was placed on a heart & lung machine and needed a heart transplant. Amazingly enough it took less than a week. Ralph’s new heart was a gift from God and as such he has really taken care of it and himself. Now with this new round of cancer, there were so many unanswered questions about how to treat cancer without causing problems for his heart by interfering with one of the rejection meds he is taking.
The more Korey and I thought about this situation it became clear to us that we needed to take the kids and go visit Ralph soon. After a little research on flights and timing with Korey’s planned vacation weeks and the school schedule we decided to head down to Texas for Thanksgiving. We arrived on Friday, November 18 on an early morning flight. The kids were amazing. They weathered the trip well with no breakdowns.
We spent an enjoyable week visiting with family and letting the kids get to know their “Opa & Oma”, aunts, uncles and cousins. Just to give you an idea of how many that was, here’s the complete family photo we had made while we were there:
The entire Klier family
We also had our family picture made:
Our 2011 family portrait
and Ellie & Zach’s 2-year-old portraits:
Ellie & Zach
all 4 kids:
Ethan, Ellie, Gabe & Zach
and one of Opa & Oma:
Opa & Oma
It was a great week filled with family and fun (aside from Gabe’s stomach bug) and it was interesting to me to see a different Thanksgiving celebration than what I grew up with. I learned some neat new tricks for keeping meats fresh and moist when preparing them early and some new recipes for low sugar recipes for diabetics. The kids had a blast being the center of attention and we all got to spend some quality time with Oma & Opa. We feel blessed to have been given this time with the family and hope and pray we can do it again soon.
After playing flag football with a neighborhood friend over the Christmas/New Year’s holidays and learning that there’s no tackling involved, Gabriel decided that he would like to give the sport a try. Korey found out that his buddy Evan was playing with an I-9 Sports league on Sunday afternoons and signed Gabe up too. Last Sunday was their first practice/game. The way I-9 works is that you spend 2 hours once a week on the field. The first hour the coaches have the kids run drills and teach them actual skills. The second hour the kids are split up and they scrimmage… their version of a game. As they reach the older groups it looked like their might actually be set teams, but we couldn’t tell for sure.
It was pretty cold here last Sunday, so Korey, Gabe and Ethan bundled up and headed for the football field about 1:30 while I let the twins nap and enjoyed the warmth of my house. When Ellie, Zach and I headed over for the game at 3, I grabbed my camera hoping to catch a bit of the action. Here’s a peek at what I found:
Ready to go...
At the end of the first half, Gabe came over to see us and seemed disappointed. Korey asked him how he liked it so far and he said “it’s not what I expected. I never get the ball.” We told him it looked like everyone would get a turn, and he should head back out there and do his part for his team. A couple of plays later, Gabe got to carry the ball. Needless to say, he really liked that part.
Gabe steps away from a touchdown. That's his buddy Evan on the ground behind him missing the flag.
The picture I missed here was just before this move where Gabe had his hand back behind him warding off the other team and covering his flags. The day ended on a positive note and Gabe is looking forward to more football. Said he might even want to play tackle football next year like his older cousins.
Here I am almost 2 months after Ellie and Zach’s 2nd birthday and I am finally finding time to post. Yes, Ellie and Zach turned 2 on November 6, 2011. We celebrated with a party for family and a few friends on Saturday November 5. This was their first birthday party since last year we returned from Orlando on their birthday. Going to Disney World isn’t a bad way to spend your first birthday, but Ellie and Zach certainly seemed to enjoy their second birthday a lot more.
First the kids spent some time playing in the bounce house we bought for Ethan’s birthday party back in May. We set it up in the garage again, although this time there wasn’t a threat of rain, just colder temperatures. By keeping the garage closed we didn’t have to worry about coats or bare feet, since the kids couldn’t seem to keep their socks on either.
The Birthday Girl on the bounce house slide.
The Birthday Boy's turn.
Then we sang Happy Birthday and had cupcakes. Ellie and Zach sang along. They love singing Happy Birthday.
Ready to blow out the candles...
Ellie & Zach really enjoyed the cupcakes. Ellie especially had a sweet tooth. She finished off her entire cupcake while Zach was more focused on the icing.
Zachary decided on red icing for his cupcakes and had it ear-to-ear by the time he finished licking it off the cupcake.
Ellie with her cupcake. She picked her favorite color "pink" for the icing on half the cupcakes.
After opening lots of nice gifts, we thanked our guests and tried to get the house in order. I have to admit that having the party at home is a lot cheaper than going out, but it sure was nice after Gabe’s bowling party not to have to clean anything up. With the house somewhat in order, we had to try out a few of our gifts.
Zach in his puffer vest from Nawnie & Paw-Paw and his Mickey ears.
Ellie in her puffer vest from Nawnie & Paw-Paw and her Minnie glasses.
All in all our second birthday was a huge success!
On Friday night after a trip to Portrait Innovations to finish our Christmas pictures (I’ll post those soon!), we decided to go to the mall to visit Santa and have a quick dinner. We were amazed to see that there was no line when we arrived at 6:30. As the boys and I hurried down the escalator to get in line, we found that the reason there was no line was that Santa was going on his dinner break. After finding out that he would be back at 7:20, we hurried back upstairs to the food court for a quick bite of dinner. We got back in line at 7:15 and only had 2 families ahead of us. All of the kids were excited to see Santa and were talking about their wish lists. When it was our turn, Gabe and Ethan hurried over to sit with Santa, Ellie and Zach had to be coerced. They refused to sit on Santa’s lap, but agreed to sit on the arms of his chair beside Gabe and Ethan for a picture. They managed to speak a couple of words to him but that was it. Of course, that was a big improvement over last year when they screamed and cried.
So two days into December, we have our picture with Santa for the year and we have avoided the long lines that arrive later in the month. Hooray!