Sunday, April 20, 2014

Chilly Day at the Beach

Can I just tell you how much I like being able to stay up a little later each night and not wake up until daylight hits?  

I am very much a natural night-owl forcing myself to live 14-straight-years as a morning person, while my kids go to early morning seminary! 

Although my body has fully adjusted to waking up and going to bed early, I still haven't figured out how to go to bed early and still get anything done.  I may still be awake about the same amount of time each day as I used to be, however I struggle with the fact that my energy and creative juices just flow freer in the evening time...time that now happens to hit right when I'm going to bed for the night. 

So I have to take advantage of weeks like we have during spring break and get as much blogging done as possible.  Come Monday I'll be back to sleepy old me, falling asleep at 9:30 again.  


So we went to the beach at Kiptokeke State Park on Friday. 
It was way too cold and windy to think about getting in the water, 
but that minor detail didn't stop the kids from still enjoying themselves.

We pretty much had the whole beach to ourselves...

and despite the chilly temps. the kids still dared to dip their toes into the water...

and collect some very cool seashells...

Cami was posing left and right for a new profile pic...

We enjoyed watching the pelicans and got very excited when we saw some dolphins too (no pics though)...

Ellie proved that tights and sand go together quite well, while all the girls looked as cute as can be with the beachy backdrop...

Mostly we just enjoyed the unfettered time together enjoying knowing that we had nowhere specific to go and no specific time to be back to the hotel... 
The lack of crowds and not having to keep my eyes glued on the kids every second was actually quite relaxing as well and given the choice of a cold or hot day at the beach and I may very well choose the cold day. 


Friday, April 18, 2014

To whom it may concern:

Dear Chamber of Commerce of the Eastern Shore of Virginia,

You may want to rethink your available selection of  postcards. 

 Although racks and racks of postcards of a dilapidated house and a super close-up of an oyster could be charming in certain circles,  I'm not sure on which planet those circles can be found.

May I suggest that a postcard of something like this to be a tad more effective?

Sure it's just an iphone shot and not overly exciting, but it certainly fits the whole, "Virginia is for Lovers" theme a little better than a run-down house.    

Even a cheesy picture of a cute girl taking  selfies while swinging on an amusement park ride seems quite a bit more appealing than your current offerings. 

And what about a postcard of a cute girl proudly holding up the two stuffed tarsiers (or are they loris?) she won?    Who can resist neon rainforest  animals?!

If all else fails, even a shadowy picture of a family having fun on a carousel would be better than oysters. 

Thank you for considering these other options and yes, I am volunteering to be your official advertiser/photographer.  My salary Requirements are $497,000 per year, a season pass to everything fun in the area, and a super telephoto lens for my camera.   I will look forward to your call.  


Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Sometimes I just start thinking about everything.

I think about when Ellie first started having seizures and how scared and overwhelmed we were.
Our hearts were broken as we worried about how the frequent seizures would affect her life and even more so as she reacted so poorly to the medications.   Now she at least is on a medication that isn't causing horrible side effects,  but we still struggle with the fact that she still has many, many seizures a day.

Then I think of how just a little over a year after Ellie's diagnosis we were blindsided with Spencer's  leukemia and Glen's subsequent job loss.   Our lives were turned upside down for half-a-year and we worried every moment of every day what the future would hold for our son.  While Spence has remained in remission and Glen does have a job now, we still worry about potential relapse.
  There's no two ways around the fact that it's been a hard few years.

And sometimes the weight of it all seems overwhelming.

I still worry if I did things to cause their ailments.  I wonder if we dealt with everything the "right" way.   And I wonder if I'll ever get my groove back again.  Some days I feel like I'm 20-years older than I was three years ago.

Thank goodness for little boosts like discovering this quote written  in Ellie's general conference notebook:  

"As individuals we are strong.  Together, with God, we are unstoppable."

It's a quote by Rosemary Wixom from Women's Conference and I was impressed that she picked it out from all the talks as meaningful enough to  write down.   It's something I needed to remember right now.

While I can never deny the comfort and strength that we felt so acutely when we were in the midst of those trials, I often let my day-to-day busyness get in the way of allowing myself to feel that same comfort now.

How grateful I am for the perspective that my faith in God gives me and  for this Easter season to reflect on what Christ's atonement truly means to me.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Antithesis of Everything

It is spring break this week, which means that I get to sleep past the 5:00 hour each morning, which also means that I actually have the inertia to stay awake past 10:00pm.  That minor detail and my computer  finally being  back up and running (after getting a new hard drive), means that  I have no good excuse not to blog this week.  

Okay, okay, you can stop groaning now.

I know that intense randomness with a touch of boringness is a common writing style that I like to employ when composing blog posts, but for some odd reason I like to blog anyway and my family (okay...just my dad)  seems to get worried about me when I go too long without updating them on the mundane details of our very unexciting lives.    And when I say "unexciting", believe me that I don't use the term loosely in the slightest.

So this week I am on rash patrol.  Yes, is as spectacular a job as it sounds.   Ellie just started a new medication this week, which carries a higher than average incidence of dangerous rashes associated with it.  If I were to discover a rash on my daily rash check, it would be considered an emergency because it has the potential to be life threatening.  I am feeling rather opposed to emergencies currently, so it's a good thing that so far she is tolerating it well.  

Last Friday I tried to eschew boringness for a day and boldly threw caution to the wind, made the kids do their schoolwork the night before, and braved a trip to the cherry blossoms by ourselves.  By ourselves, of course, along  with the thousands of other people that were downtown that day.  We rode the Metro down, walked around the Tidal Basin...

took a few pictures of Ellie wearing her "match-the-cherry-blossoms" sequined hat....
then went to the Natural History Museum where we spent a while trying to determine the approximate worth of a display case of gems and minerals.

Afterward,  at Ellie's request, I  took them to Astro Doughnuts (right by the Metro Center metro station) for lunch.   Fried chicken and award winning doughnuts....yes, it was as nutritious a lunch as it sounds.  One of Spencer's fellow cancer survivor friends works there, so we hoped to be able to say hello while we were there, but he never seems to be there when we visit.  I'm pretty sure that the young female co-workers of his always think it's so weird that a forty-something woman with kids in tow is questioning whether twenty-something Tim is working that day.   In fact, they always ask me how I know him.  Someday I am going to make up a really fun story about how he sold me a rotten doughnut or something.

So in other dull-for-everyone-but-dad-news, we bought season passes to Busch Gardens in one spontaneous moment when they were selling their  season passes at the same price as a one-day admission.  So now we are Busch Gardens members and plan to visit there on Thursday. If anyone has that day open, doesn't mind a trip to Williamsburg, and would like to join us for a day of spectacular fun (seriously, Busch Gardens is an awesome amusement park),  let me know.   We like company and Busch Gardens has great shows (the Irish Dancing is my favorite), as well as fun rides for old and young.

Speaking of fun, it's a good thing that season pass sale popped up when it did, because after Glen did our taxes this year and discovered that for the first time ever we owe the IRS a check for thousands of dollars, we are going to need all the cheap fun we can get.   And there's no way we would've bought those passes had he done the taxes before that.  Don't worry, though, you won't hear me cursing the government about stealing so much of our hard-earned money.  I love America and love to give our hard-earned dollars to further governmental meddling in our lives.

Speaking of cursing, I am struggling with my social media right now and wonder if it's time to go back to the dark ages.     For some reason, unbeknownst even to me, I am suddenly feeling much more sensitive about the plethora of events that people are bragging about on Facebook and Instagram that I and my family are not invited to.    I had a complete and total melt-down about an event last week when, against my better judgment, I examined the pictures someone had posted and realized how many of mine and my kids' friends were there and we weren't even invited.  I even went home and checked my spam folder to make sure I hadn't missed an invitation.  Nope.  It was just me and I normally wouldn't care one iota, but for some reason now I do and  it's made me realize the beauty in the whole "Ignorance is Bliss" mindset.  It's one thing for people to have fun events and not invite you, but it's a whole other thing when you know exactly who else was invited and how much fun they really had.

Last, but not least in my random list of updates that's getting more negative by the paragraph (and I'm pretty sure no one is actually reading)....
I have weighed the options and have decided to cancel my birthday this year.    My kids were looking ahead on my iphone calendar today, picked out my birthday as the potential date for some future event,  and swore up and down  that there was absolutely nothing going on on that date.   I took it as a sign and  I have opted to not have a birthday this year.   Randomly,  I feel younger already!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Once Upon a Springtime Morning

Once upon a springtime morning we went for a walk at Mason Neck State Park.  The sky was flawlessly blue, the air was crisp but mild, and somewhere along the way I became enamored.

We watched a magnificent osprey soar through the air with nest building materials in tow .....

A great blue heron gracefully flying just above the surface of the bay before landing a few feet in front of us....

The children were laughing and enjoying each other's company....

The entire family found a cute little tree frog  to admire....

At the ranger's suggestion, Glen actually captured it for a minute, before it hopped away.   Cami found a perfect little hole in a tree to pose for a picture....

And right as we were leaving we spotted a sunshiney yellow goldfinch chirping in a nearby tree...

Welcome spring!   We missed you.  

Friday, April 4, 2014


Meet Fawkes…
He is not a phoenix, nor does he belong to Albus Dumbledore, but he is a red-tailed hawk that has captured the hearts of the boys in our family.

Young red-tailed hawks have a high mortality rate and only about 20% survive their first year of life.  Our friend, Scott, along with a mentor, captured Fawkes when he was young and are helping him learn to survive in the wild.

He has invited Adam and Glen along for two of their hunting trips and a couple weeks ago Spencer got to come as well.

The boys have very much  enjoyed the opportunity to see this gorgeous hawk up close and personal and it's actually inspired Adam  to want to adopt his own hawk someday.  Ellie, however, despite loving birds too, hasn't even wanted to meet him yet because she is still processing the fact that Fawkes mainly eats cute little bunny rabbits for his meals!  

Speaking of bunny rabbits...did you hear the story about the rabbit who went on a trip?

He went by hareplane!    

Thursday, April 3, 2014


I have been going through serious blogging withdrawals this past week.  Not only is my computer still not working, but our other computer is in high demand come homework time every night.    I've been a little out of sorts without my creative outlet and decided that tonight I am going to take advantage of the rare unoccupied evening computer time and write a blogpost.   My brain is too frazzled to be creative, so I'm just doing an A-Z recap of this past week or two in no particular order.
The picture I entered into the photo contest.   The theme was "books".   (see "m" below)

a) I was told that I am a wimpy Minnesotan for wearing a jacket on a 65-degree day
b)  I ate only freshly fried french fries and a clementine for lunch today.  Last Thursday I ate the same thing with a sandwich thrown in too.  My friend Shelly's frier is a homeschool co-op lunchtime staple!  
c) Cami got her first  "A" on an AP calculus test.
d)  One of our cancer friends (same age as Spencer) learned that her leukemia relapsed this past week :( 
e)  I deleted "Scramble" off my iPad.  It's a silly word game kind of like Boggle and I am pretty good at it, but I decided that it was a distraction that I could do without.
f) I led the discussion for our book group this week.  I read "Mary Poppins" and watched "Saving Mr. Banks" in preparation for it.  I came away liking the movies much better than the book or the author.
g)  I taught the homeschool co-op about the ancient American civilizations--the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans.  We read about Machu Picchu and weaved on cardboard looms.
h) Cami had a lacrosse game tonight and scored two of their team's four goals.
i) I submitted an article for publication into a magazine
j) Two people, in so many words, told me that I'm a bad mom and messed up with one of my kids 
k)  One day Ellie cooked all three meals for the day from scratch, without recipes.  They were all good.
l)  I got mud splattered on my face and clothes at mutual.
m)  I found out I didn't win a small photo contest
n)  Ellie came home from a friend's house with green hair 
o)  Emma accompanied the YW singing, "Come Unto Jesus,"  in sacrament meeting this past Sunday
p) I ate half a bag of stale popcorn in an effort to stay awake during a project one day
q) I am loving the fabulously perfect weather this week (once it stopped raining).
r)  I am seriously considering deactivating my Facebook account.  For some reason, it's been really annoying me lately.
s)  Adam made us delicious French toast for breakfast this morning, complete with his own special touches.
t)  I am looking forward to some spiritual renewal at  General Conference this weekend!  
u)  Cami started tutoring a 7th grader in math
v)  The three girls and I went to Women's Conference on Saturday and loved it!
w) Our washing machine is on the fritz and my laundry pile is growing to new and scary heights.
x)  Glen got a promotion at work, which I'm really, really hoping means that his hours will level off soon.
y) For the first time, Spencer went to his oncologist appointment without a parent and had another clean check-up.  Twenty-two months!  His two year  check-up will be at home with his original oncologist.
z)  I've got a slight cold and it's making me so EXHAUSTED that I actually dhfjdahzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Feeding the Hungry

What happens when about 20 young women take time out from their busy schedules and spend a bit more than an hour working together?

They can make 120 sandwiches, package them up, and mark them with "use by" dates...

make several dozen cookies and a couple of batches of rice krispie treats...

then fill a table full of lunch bags with clementines, treats, chips, and granola bars.

Working together they made 60 full lunches, which bright and early the next day I delivered to the local homeless shelter, which was so grateful to receive them.

I stand in awe of these beautiful young women who, even with a full load of homework and other activities,  sacrifice their time to come each week and make a difference in the world.  They are amazing and I feel privileged to spend time with them on a regular basis!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Anti-Billion Dollar Bracket

Back when we were first married, a bunch of our friends each pooled a couple dollars and had a March Madness bracket tournament.   I am not a huge sports fan, but in the name of fun I filled out a bracket anyway.  With a bit of serendipitous luck,  I somehow ended up beating everyone else.   Too bad the organizer  was so annoyed that a girl won that he refused to award the prize money.  Despite my lack of a prize, though, for twenty years I have prided myself on my skillful bracket choosing and have opted not to ruin my "streak" by filling out anymore brackets.

Until this year.

For some reason, even unbeknownst to myself, I got a bee in my bonnet a couple of weeks ago that we would have a whole family March Madness  tournament and the winner would choose a family adventure for us to go on.   I printed off brackets for everyone, painstakingly explained the whole numbering/ranking system to everyone, then handed them pens.  Glen and the kids were a little perplexed at my random burst of interest in basketball, but did not complain about the potential for a fun family activity (except for Ellie who decided it was too much writing for her).

I was a little giddy about it all and thought that this was my chance to prove my basketball predicting skills once and for all.

Too bad my luck ran out a couple of decades ago, because this year I officially have the worst bracket... EVER!

I like to call it the "Anti-Billion-Dollar Bracket", because not only am I not going to win any of Warren Buffet's prize money, but I'm also losing to the member of my family who picked their brackets based solely on which color of jersey she liked best.
I will take a little solace, though,  that Glen isn't winning either and it looks like we might have an eleven-year-old who inherited a bit of his mother's skills (from 20 years ago).


Sunday, March 23, 2014

my brithday Ellies blog post

I got online tonight and found this blogpost already started for me.  Apparently a sweet little birthday girl wanted to make sure that I didn't forget to write her a blogpost in honor of her ninth birthday, so she just started writing it herself.     I left the title exactly as she had begun it.

Unfortunately My computer is on the fritz (hence the lack of blogging)  and I have no access to my pictures currently, therefore this will be a barebones unillustrated post written on my iPad.  I am really hoping that the Apple store can save my ailing MacBook!

From day one of Ellie's life she had a gregarious energy that left us both delighted and in awe.  With Both Glen and I being pretty introverted, we had never seen a bubbly extroverted personality so up close and personal before and it was hard not to fall in love with her magnetic and loving personality instantly.   She loves connecting with people with every part of who she is and she wants nothing more than to be everyone's best friend.

If there's something to be said about Ellie is that she dreams big.    She wishes  that she could teach her own preschool, be a published author, sing solos in church, be an artist, and ride horses every day.  It's one of the main reasons why I opted to homeschool her...her vivacity was getting trampled by seven hours of sitting still every day while the school was trying their hardest to get her to fit into their neat little round hole.  Not that I necessarily blame the school or the teacher--in fact we loved them both--but, in my opinion, the whole educational system of America does not serve the needs of the creative and energetic thinkers very well, of which Ellie is both!

One more thing about Ellie is that she sees the world through a different lens than most people.   She simply processes things in an innovative and beautiful way that constantly amazes me.  When you look at something creative or lovely and wonder how someone came up with the idea, it's most likely someone who, like Ellie, isn't looking at it with an analytical mindset.   When I look I see Logic and patterns.   She looks at the same things and sees stories and ideas that glimmer with potential.

I will have to blog in more detail about her actual birthday when my computer is fixed (hopefully), but suffice it to say that there was a delicious cake made by her sisters, a ruffly new dress, a fun new present, and lots of cheerful energy bubbling around our house today.

We sure love our Ellie Bellie!!

Happy 9th birthday!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Becoming Reacquainted with Pi(e)

I am proud to say that I remember what these formulas mean and how I can use them.

A = π r2                     C = 2 π r

After a couple of decade hiatus from ever needing to use them, this year I have become  reacquainted well with the ubiquitous mathematical symbol, pi and its formulas.   Apparently fifth graders do a lot of finding the circumferences and areas of circle in math and being a homeschool teacher means I get a front row seat on how it all goes down.

Not that homeschooling has given me any greater insight into WHY I would use these formulas in a real life situation, but just in case any of you ever wants to find out the area of your  dinner plates or the circumference of your hula hoop,  you know who to call!

March 14th (3/14 = 3.14 = π) rolled around this year and between my newfound pi using prowess and my new kitchen, I figured I had better reason to celebrate Pi Day than I ever have before.
So we made pies.   Lots of them.

I helped my sister, AnnaLisa, make a few pies for her Pi party.  Then I made a pie for a friend.   Then I made a few more to share at our homeschool cultural night.

I made apple, lemon meringue, and chocolate.

Emma made a banana cream and  Ellie made her own caramel cheesecake--both without recipes I might add.

It was a fun and delicious way to celebrate and although I never once thought about using π while I was making pie...

but at least I know I could have if the need had arisen.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Reckless? Spontaneity

Glen has been working crazy hours the past few months.  This past week was worse than usual and I was discouraged when, on Saturday afternoon, I realized that we hadn't spent a single minute all together as a family since Spencer had been home for his Spring Break.  It didn't help, of course, that it was not Spring Break for the rest of the kids.  Save for Spencer being at home, we had a very normal week with seminary, school, kids' activities, and Glen working until the wee hours of the morning.  

So  it got to be 5:00pm  on Saturday, we hadn't been together all week, and everyone was snipping at each other like grumpy cats.    All that and we still had a full slate of things we were supposed to do that night. 

That was when we decided that it was time for some good old fashioned reckless spontaneity.  
We bagged our responsible evening activities and opted, instead,  for fresh air and family time.

It was literally the only time we had been all together all week and it turned out to be the healing balm we all needed to forget our busyness and stress and just enjoy being together. 

We went to Gravelly Point, a beautiful park situated right on the Potomac River and adjacent to Reagan National Airport.  
The weather was perfect for a little walk, the sunset was gorgeous, and a  whole-family game of touch football turned out to be a great giggle inducing activity for everyone--young and old.  

We watched the moon rise over the Potomac and kept playing until dark.

Afterward we ate a late dinner at Red Robin and had no regrets about the way we'd spent our evening.  

Then, today we dropped Spencer back off at JMU. 

We raced there right after church to beat the winter storm that already has school cancelled again for tomorrow. It's the kids' eleventh snow day of the year.  They've added two more days onto the end of the school year for make-up days. Tomorrow, though, is a FREE DAY, which means we can sleep in in peace!

The kids already have grand intentions for fun tomorrow!  Apparently we are having family round of  Chopped (a cooking show on Food Network).  I am the judge and I'm supposed to pick out four ingredients and let them conjure up something delicious to eat with them.  And they promised to clean up after themselves.  

It may be a bit more winter than I'd hoped for this late in the season, but you won't find me complaining about yummy food to eat and a day to sleep past the 5:00am hour! 


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