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Tracey Kasten Heil
Camas, WA
Widowed in 2010 at age 41, my only focus was on attempting to "redefine normal" for myself and my three incredible children. On 10-12-14, I married the most incredible man, and am grateful for this amazing "second chance" at life we've been given.
Interests: Paso Fino horses, endurance riding, three-day eventing (via my kids), nutrition, architecture & urban planning, doing my best to provide my children with a sense of normalcy in the aftermath of tragedy, and trying to hang onto whatever shreds of sanity I have left at the end of the day...!
Recent Activity
Everything is falling into place. :-) As of this past Sunday, Terry has found the perfect temporary housing for him here in Camas. Not only was it a general answer to prayer, but the prayer was answered down to the very last detail. It's a cute 2 bedroom house that will seem palatial compared to his sailboat, and it's completely furnished... he won't need anything but a desk, plus whatever other personal items he'll be bringing with him. Coincidentally, the house belongs to someone who also attends Grace Foursquare, so it's great to have that common denominator in place. We enjoyed another great weekend together, and Sarah and Seth were able to spend a little more time getting to know him better. He was able to fly back to San Diego knowing that another big piece of the puzzle was nicely set in place. So, four weeks from today, I... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2014 at Good Grief!
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So, it would appear that it’s time to catch everyone up on what’s been going on behind the scenes these last few months. And there has been much going on behind the scenes lately. Given that my primary sense of fulfillment over these last four years came from the inexplicable fact that I somehow managed to make it through another day without Jeff in it, I could look back on month after month of merely existing from one day to the next. And then it struck me… that’s no way to ‘live’… and I so very much wanted to feel like I was living again. That just because this is the way things have been for so long, doesn’t mean they have to continue being that way. It was entirely in my capacity to change that. With God’s help, of course. ;-) Sometimes the simplest of revelations are often the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2014 at Good Grief!
If someone were to ask me to use a few words to describe myself, I’d probably say something to the effect of, “Mom. Student. Equestrienne. Widow.” I got to thinking about what each descriptive word means. Being a mom means I have one or more precious children that give me hugs, bring home refrigerator art from school, and enrich my life with the various talents that God gave them. Being a student? Well, that’s easy… that simply means I’m someone who somehow finds the time to squeeze in reading and homework assignments in between laundry cycles, during track practice or riding lessons, or after helping my children with their own homework assignments first. Being a student – especially at my age – means slowly but surely making my way towards the seemingly impossible goal of ever graduating due to the snail’s pace that I must take when trying to strike... Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2014 at Good Grief!
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So, yesterday Sarah had a chance to put a checkmark on one of her 'bucket list' items - Surfing. Sarah has wanted to learn how to surf for a few years now. Main barrier is that we're not exactly that close to a beach (2+ hrs to Long Beach, WA), and we only get out there about once or twice a year. Cut back to March 1st, Sarah's birthday. Low and behold, Sarah's "Auntie" purchased her a gift certificate for a surfing lesson... arguably her most favorite birthday present to date. :-) Given that March doesn't exactly give us great beach weather that time of year, she wisely waited until summer to redeem it. And yesterday was the day... she had a great time! The nice people at Skookum Surf Co. in Long Beach were very generous with their time, and she spent quite a while out there surfing to... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2013 at Good Grief!
Sometimes it takes the simple bravery of a pint-sized eleven year-old girl to cast some much-needed light upon fears that linger in the depths of my heart. You see, Isabella has been essentially begging me to switch schools lately. The quick historical context is that Isabella started at Camas Christian Academy just after Jeff died. Up until then, I had been homeschooling both Isabella and Sarah, but found that the increasing complexity of caring for Jeff as he entered the later stages of his illness began to disrupt what little semblance of a homeschooling schedule we had left by that time. Enter Shelley Brooks. I had been lamenting to her in May of 2010 about not knowing what to do about Isabella's homeschooling for the upcoming fall, as Jeff's condition was starting to wane and I didn't know how long the process was going to take before it had it's... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2013 at Good Grief!
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Today marks three years since Jeff died. There was a post I made a long time ago about what one of the last snapshots of ‘normal’ looked like for me. Jeff was down in Sunnyvale for work – rare, as it was unusual for him to be gone over weekends. I had taken Sarah up to Caber Farm for the Chehalis Valley Horse Trial in mid-July of 2009, and she and her pony Sienna were busy rocking the cross-country portion of the show. I remember texting him the results, sharing the various goings-on of the day, and him texting back his congratulations on how she did. A typical, normal summer day for us – out in the sun, enjoying the horses, with me being the “Mama-razzi” and taking pictures to chronicle the day. That was four years ago. This was her then: Is it just me, or is there something... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2013 at Good Grief!
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It's somewhat remarkable to think that this time last year, Isabella was merely jumping over some of our horse jumps in the arena for fun, or setting them up in a line along our aisleway to our west paddock to see how she could run them. After Rebecca Rhodes of Emerald Valley Track Club in Eugene pointed us to Coach Fernando, indicating that he'd be a good fit for us, it's safe to say that she was onto something. She started training in earnest in April, and placed 2nd in her very first meet just three weeks later. And now, here she is (alongside Coach Fernando's amazing grand-daughter, Chinzie) - placing 2nd in the State JO Championships, with Chinzie winning 1st. Now off to the Junior Olympic Regional Championships in Seattle! Here are some highlights from yesterday's meet: (Isabella on the far left) Isabella Kasten and Chinzie Fantroy, 2nd and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2013 at Good Grief!
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I survived Isabella’s 11th birthday party/sleepover. There were pony rides, pizza, gourmet birthday cake from our favorite local bakery, tireless rounds on the trampoline, and later into the night, 7 girls gathered around a campfire (complete with S’mores, and a better understanding of the insidiousness of melted marshmallows…), singing medleys of worship and campfire songs. That really was the best part, I think… anytime you can get a bunch of 11-12 y.o.’s gathered around a campfire and they start singing praise/worship songs on their own…? Yeah… that makes a mama's heart really smile. :-) I packed the kids into my motor home for the sleep-over portion, where they watched a movie before completely crashing. They could chat and giggle all night if they wanted, and I would still be able to sleep… that’s a beautiful thing. This morning, they awoke to my “crockpot oatmeal” (my favorite way of preparing steel-cut... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2013 at Good Grief!
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While my nose has been dutifully buried in books and finals are just around the corner (literally next week), it's encouraging to have pictures to remind me of where the last couple of months have gone; if anything, to simply prove that life somehow managed to exist outside the confines of my usual routines. First of all, hats must be donned in honor of Isabella's 11th birthday today! Happy Birthday, Isabella! Isabella discovered the joy of jumping quite a while ago, and if she wasn't jumping over something on her pony, then she would run and jump over it herself. Then the summer Olympics happened. She had never quite made the connection that jumping over things at speed was an actual sport until watching the Track and Field segments last summer, after which she declared that she just HAD to do that. After my typical due-diligence, I was referred to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2013 at Good Grief!
Getting through February proved to be more difficult than I had originally thought. On February 14th, a family very dear to us lost their precious baby girl, Audrey, just seven weeks after her birth in December. Even at the time of her premature birth, Audrey had beat many odds, and continued to rally and get stronger. We cheered her on with everything we had - each success and milestone she conquered felt as if we had conquered it right along with her. We prayed for her and for her family. We marvelled as we watched her parents become transformed in the way we knew that only parenthood could transform someone whose lives had never before been altered by it. The beauty of it all was simply indescribable, and I feel humbled to have been privileged to witness such things, even if it was from the perifery. Audrey's passing seems as... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2013 at Good Grief!
In light of the recent discovery of King Richard's remains, the title seemed fitting. With that said, I write with a safe distance from Thanksgiving and Christmas, yet still the midst of other 'muck' I must trudge through about this time every year. Invariably, I still get a concerned question every now and then asking, "I bet Thanksgiving and Christmas are probably still difficult for you to get through?" To which I'm compelled to reply, "No - not at all". And it's true... after all, Thanksgiving consists of a concerted effort to clean house and prepare the lion's share of the Thanksgiving feast just two weeks before final exams, plus the birthday celebrations of my son, Seth, and dear friend Terry. The space between Thanksgiving and Christmas is packed full of Isabella's choir performances, childrens' Christmas program performances, final exams, shopping, last minute shopping, baking cookies and other cherished Christmas... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2013 at Good Grief!
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After two years of flying solo, it seems that I'm slowly getting back to feeling a little more like "me" again. Hard to describe, but it feels as if the veil is being lifted, and parts of me that have long been buried are starting to re-emerge. What's nice is that I don't have to reinvent myself... I just need to get back in touch with the person I used to be, if that makes any sense. So, this summer saw us at a few more endurance rides (yes, I did manage to get myself and the girls quite lost at Renegade Rendezvous, if you must know...) and horse camping with the NWPFHA. Isabella and I at the Mt Adams Endurance Ride in May Isabella and I at Renegade Rendezvous Endurance Ride in late June Summer also found me getting reacquainted with my trusty Gary Fisher mountain bike again, and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2012 at Good Grief!
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Just wanted to share a wonderful email I received from Sarah's Algebra I teacher this morning - it really made me proud of her, as well as how she's continuing to grow and thrive in the aftermath of tragedy. I am so blessed to have such wonderful children. Here goes: Hello Proud Parents~ Every year as the school year begins, 1st class students begin to show up in the crowd. Some take a while longer to stand out or maybe I am just not aware of them right off the bat. Sarah is one that stands out immediately. Talk about a class act!! She continues to be loving, caring, has a good work ethic, a good sense of humor, and a servant’s heart. Thanks for choosing to send her to King’s Way! Our school is blessed and I am personally blessed because she is here! Great job, Parents!! Dennis Wallace... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2012 at Good Grief!
For my non-Facebook friends and family, I have posted pictures of the horse show this past weekend. It was Isabella's first show with Sienna (Sarah's first pony), and Sarah's first show with her new Thoroughbred gelding, Riley. In typical Northwest fashion, it was 96 degrees the day before, and the forecast called for a high of 87 degrees that day. After leaving the house at 7:20 a.m in a sleeveless button-down shirt and shorts, I knew it was just going to be a matter of time before the thick marine layer of clouds that blanketed the skies that morning would burn off. Or not. I don't think we got out of the high 60's that day! It was chilly and the horses, who had all been previously drained from the mid-high 90's temps the two days before, were suddenly feeling quite rejuvenated in the cool morning air! This made for... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2012 at Good Grief!
This is for my non-Facebook friends & family - I've finally posted the pictures of the Arbor Grove Hunter-Jumper show (May), and of everyone's favorite - cross country jumping - that the girls had the opportunity to do last week up at Caber Farm in Onalaska, WA. It was good seeing John Camlin after so long, and Anne Carr, the girls' coach, had a chance to see how Sarah's new horse Riley would do in a new cross-country environment. The weather was fabulous and a good time was had by all. :-) You can tell that the weather has been uncharacteristically HOT here these last few days, as evidenced by the fact that I stayed inside by the fan and uploaded and processed a mountain of pics from my camera. ;-) The girls and I also did our first official endurance ride of the season on the hottest day of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2012 at Good Grief!
Magellan Switch Up. Oooohhh... a non-Garmin GPS that has caught my eye. The altimeter feature and optional extended battery make this one to potentially consider for endurance riding. The reviews will be interesting to read once it's available for purchase (early June, from what I hear) - I hope it's "all that and then some" so that I can add this to my Christmas list. :-) Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2012 at Good Grief!
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Not all girls get to play hookey from school to get out and enjoy some fun in the sun, yet that's exactly what Sarah and Isabella did this past Wednesday, as we travelled down to Inavale Farm in Philomath, Oregon for some schooling on their fabulous cross-country course. Be sure to check out all the pictures that their "Mama-razzi" took while there in the photo album titled Inavale Farm. :-) Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2012 at Good Grief!
Over the May 5th & 6th weekend, the girls had the opportunity to enjoy some cross-country jumping with their favorite mounts at the beautiful cross-country course at Aspen Farms, near Yelm WA. The weather cooperated, the kids had a safe and fun time, and a good time was enjoyed by all. It was neat to see how much their riding has progressed over the last year, as well as to see how Isabella is taking to it - very much like a fish to water. I think we've created a bit of a cross-country jumping fiend here. :-) Here is a link for the photos I've posted here on Typepad. Those of you on Facebook will have more than likely seen all the pictures I posted (especially on Willowbrook Pony Club's Facebook page), but thought I would include some here as well. When you click on the link, it will... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2012 at Good Grief!
And the verdict is... A very hard-fought 'B' which I'm completely tickled with. Anatomy & Physiology is NOT a walk in the park, as you might well imagine. The workload is unbelievable and the tests challenging... what might otherwise be affectionately referred to as a "weed-out" course. Not just that, but I'm taking it from the toughest A&P professor they have. It would appear that I'm a glutton for punishment because I voluntarily signed up for the same professor for the last of the three-class series that starts back up next week. I secretly like being challenged... and those who know me well know that I've never been the type to gravitate towards 'easy' or shy away from a good challenge. I might have gone as far as to say that I've enjoyed the process, but there were plenty of times where I really just wanted to grope around for... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2012 at Good Grief!
Just 36 hours after my last final exam, I’ve attacked the one week I have of “Spring Break” with the same sense of purpose and fleeting time that I’ve grown far too accustomed to. The list of things to accomplish is formidable, but so far I’m off to a good start. After all, there’s nothing quite like trying to cram 2 ½ months of compiling projects into a week’s time, right? After my exam on Sunday morning, I came home and changed into some jeans and searched for a plumber’s hat to put on. It appears that plumbers don’t have specific hats that they wear while on the job, so maybe I should invent one. I’ve just come to the conclusion that if I at least had a snazzy hat to put on for each of the jobs I switch from (last week’s was an unsuccessful attempt at impersonating a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2012 at Good Grief!
I sometimes wonder how our madness must appear to the casual passerby. At a widow’s meet-up yesterday, we talked about how wearying it is to bear the looks of pity when someone new learns of your situation. Who would have ever imagined that a look… a glance… could bear so much weight? In my case, they probably think of the kids… the horses… the farm… the house left in mid-remodel… and often come to the silent conclusion that it’s just too much… perhaps a bit too messy to want to get involved in our lives. A lady in the group was kind enough to go a little more in-depth into her story; she described having been divorced with a child before having met her late husband, and she affirmed that being a widow indeed held more of a sense of stigma than she encountered when she was a newly single... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2012 at Good Grief!
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After enjoying some post-service fellowship with friends after church on Sunday, it was time to head out to the car. As we neared the parking lot, I spotted a dime on the sidewalk and encouraged Isabella to pick it up. As we walked, she turned it over and closely examined the dime, running her little finger around its serrated edge. She seemed a bit disappointed and underwhelmed with her discovery, which prompted me to ask what was up. She mentioned that it was scuffed and scratched, and thrust out her hand for me to see for myself. I had to agree with her... it did appear that that little dime had indeed seen one too many vending machines or tire treads in its lifetime.... Then came one of those "A-ha!" moments... I reassured her that while that dime might look scuffed and scratched, it still has the same value as... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2012 at Good Grief!
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For those who aren't on Facebook, I thought I would add the pictures of how our New Year kicked off. "And I'll huff... and I'll puff... and I'll BLOWWWWW your tree down..." We were experiencing pretty high Columbia Gorge winds early that morning, and "Voila!". Thanks to our neighbors, Team Martschinske (and former neighbors, the Coulimore's) and friends (team Delaney), they were able to turn arboreal angst into a trifle of twigs. While Paul Coulimore was putting his cordless Makita Sawzall to good use, Gary Martschinske was somehow able to resuscitate my ailing chainsaw and wasted no time in putting it to the test. Fellow friend Kirsten Delaney sent her hubby over with an even larger chainsaw, and before I knew it, the deciduous disaster had been magically transformed into orderly rows of logs with the help of Casey Martschinske, his friend (I forgot your name!) and Laura Coulimore. I... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2012 at Good Grief!
What amazes me though, Trudy, is that people would walk away from you given the fact that Dennis is still very much ALIVE. I don't get that... where is the accountability? I don't know what else to do. I do my darndest to stay focused. I make goals, and have succeeded in accomplishing them. They're baby-steps, but I have to start somewhere, right? I make it a point to be there for my kids when they need me, and I continue to try to fit in their extracurricular activites as much as I humanly can so that their needs and sense of normalcy aren't going by the wayside. I schedule every class I take around them so that the impact of what I am now doing (taking classes again) is as minimal to them as humanly possible. I get the laundry done, and Isabella's uniform shirts are ready when she needs them. These actions might feel robotic at times as I go through the motions, but I think the important thing is that they're getting done. Each day I wake up determined to fight to make that day as good a day as I can for my family. Each little success becomes magnified into a major accomplishment. Funny how that is, huh? But, I like your analogy of folks being there for a reason or a season - at least putting it like that makes it not seem quite so bad and lessens the sting a little bit... thank you. :-)
Toggle Commented Jan 9, 2012 on Life... to the Power of 10 at Good Grief!
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It’s nice to have a few minutes to sit back and reflect upon the year that has slowly wound down to a close. My first entire year without Jeff, and almost 18 months since he’s gone. I can’t help but wonder at how I managed to pull this off? “This”? “This” would be the great charade. The stiff upper lip. The smile that hopefully disguised the overwhelming feeling of being lost from one day to the next that permeated the first year of his death. The anomaly that’s now known as ‘life without Jeff’. I believe it’s pretty much impossible to describe to someone how it feels when everything in your life has become magnified to the Power of 10. The only way someone could truly know this is if they’ve had to lose a part of themselves as well. Everything becomes magnified. Every emotion. That internal grip on your... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2012 at Good Grief!