Monday, December 31, 2012

Seven Months


I think partially due to the fact that Spence spent a couple weeks sick (and extra tired) this month and partially because it's so close to the time of his original diagnosis, but today's appointment caused us a little more anxiety than usual.  Then when the doctor took forever to come in to tell us the results, Spencer and I both were getting pretty nervous.  Happily, though, the results were still good!     Seven months and another clean check-up!!!!!   YAY!!! 

Clinic Stats:  Weight=71.6 kg,  WBC= 4.07, Platelets=148, Hgb= 15.7, ANC=1820

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Answer to Christmas Guessing Game Sadly I did have an ungrateful child (who was old enough to know better) who did not react well to a couple of gifts.  Eventually they did come around and decided that what they received wasn't that bad, but in the meantime it did make me sad and made me think that I won't spend so much time choosing the perfect present for them next year. 

I did not get a microphone and stand for Christmas. As my brother Pete pointed out, it's actually a camera tripod---a present for which I am very excited!  Ellie, however, created a microphone out of a toilet paper roll, some paper, and some duct tape and has been happily using it as a microphone stand all week while she sings her Les Mis songs! 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Guessing Game

All of the following statements about our Christmas are true, except one.  Can you guess which one? 

1.  I made Ellie and her doll matching dresses.  While Ellie is absolutely in love with the idea of matching her dolly, the whole sewing process reminded me why I don't do it very often.  

2.  Adam got a Lord of the Rings Lego set, a present which has already been well-loved and much compared to the book and movie. 

3.  Spence was the happy recipient of his first smartphone!   

4.  One of my kids drove me to tears on Christmas morning because of their ungracious responses to a couple of the gifts they opened. 

5.  Emma knitted Cami a super soft scarf in just the color she wanted.      


5.  I got a microphone and stand to help me prepare for some upcoming auditions I have.


7.  Emma got some stylin' new clothes! 

8.  We ended Christmas day with a trip to the theater to see Les Mis.  It was spectacular and despite the criticisms about the singing/acting I keep reading about on Facebook, we absolutely loved it. 

9.  Glen considers Christmas 2012 to be one of the most peaceful ones in his memory. 




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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bad Poetry Recap of Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Mommy was wondering when the lights would be dowsed;
The mismatching stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
And Daddy was threatening that they would all stay bare;
Unless the children were soon nestled all snug in their beds,
with nothing other than "Zzzzzz's" going through their heads.

They were all decked out in pajamas and 'staches,
when Ellie exclaimed with fluttering lashes
That she still had to write Santa a letter
and that letters to the reindeer and the elves would be even better.

Away to the pencils I flew with a dash,
Tore out the papers and told her to write like a flash.
Thirty minutes and three letters later,
our eyes were all bleary and I was as antsy as a gator,
to get on with sewing and munching and wrapping,
and sleeping and snoozing and napping.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard as quiet as a beetle
The chinking and humming of two knitting needles.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
I saw Emma knitting a scarf as long as the town.

She was dressed all in pink, from her head to her foot,
And her glasses reflected the lights like glistening loot.
Finally, more rapid than eagles my threatenings they came,
And I whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Spence! now, Cami! now, Emma...stop your pitchin'!
On, Adam! on, Ellie! It's time to get out of the kitchen!
To the end of the hall! to your bedrooms without gall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

Although my belly was chubby and round as an elf
from eating the cookie plate all by myself,
  I laughed when we finished our tasks and I glanced at the clock.
For it was still before midnight and I knew that we rock!

A slow blink of my eye and a glimpse of our bed,
And I knew that there would soon be a pillow under my head. 

A few hours later, Emma sprang from her bed, to her team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
They spoke not a word, but went straight to their work,
Emptying the stockings and wondering why Santa was such a jerk,
that he labeled all of the presents with indecipherable code names
like Eleanor Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, and others of historical fame.

A little while later, their breakfast of cinnamon rolls they ate,
And finally giving a nod, Daddy pushed away his plate;
He sprang to the tree and gathered the family around,
And away they all flew with haste abound,

And I heard them exclaim, midst the click of Mom's camera,
"Happy Christmas to all,
and to all a lame poem and a boatload of pics"








To be continued....
(probably without the rhyming though)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Card 2012



A Royal Tale (from the year 2012 AD)

Once upon a time there was a king and queen and their five faithful subjects.  They lived in a {mostly} peaceful kingdom where they worked hard and reigned with love and chore charts.  One day early in the year 2012 A.D. there was a disturbance in the kingdom and one of the subjects fell deathly ill.  “It’s Leukemia,” the royal doctors proclaimed.  Though only 16-years-old, Sir Spencer was hastened to the battlefield where the king and queen learned that the dragon he faced had a strong and aggressive nature (Acute Myeloid Leukemia was its name) and would require him to cease attending the illustrious academy of learning where he was a junior and stay fulltime in the battleground of beeping IV pumps, lame food, and cute nurses. 

In the midst of absorbing the newfound changes in their little kingdom, the king learned later that same week that his official position of employment in the kingdom had been terminated.    The king and the queen were very sad and worried indeed.

Fortunately it didn’t take long for them to realize that their ailing kingdom was surrounded by many noble-hearted kingdoms who came from near and far to the aid of their struggling friends.  The king and the queen’s hearts were warmed when they learned of how many people, some even unknown to them, prayed daily for Sir Spencer.  Others visited often, bearing generous gifts, listening ears, and worthy food.  Hundreds of people from around the world sent him royal proclamations of good wishes for his 17th birthday.    Truly more blessings were poured out on their heads during that time than can even be counted.

After five months of tirelessly fighting the foe (and flirting with the royal nurses), Sir Spencer officially defeated the dragon called Leukemia and was finally able to return to his family’s castle.  Upon his return he immediately resumed his previous duties of teasing siblings, eating entire pizzas, and putting in applications for academies of higher learning.   Each month for six months, the dragon has remained in retreat and there has been much rejoicing in the land.  The kingdom looks forward to much more rejoicing in the future.

Epilogue: 
-Sir Spencer underwent four rounds of intensive chemo and was in the hospital from January 10th-May 31st.
-King Glen’s unemployment proved to be much more of a blessing than a trial, since the severance pay and their savings made it possible for him to be much more involved in the daily care of his kingdom.  He found new royal employment just before Thanksgiving. 
-Their other faithful subjects weathered the year surprisingly well.  Princess Cami (15) is a cross country runner, cupcake baker, and lacrosse player.  Princess Emma (12) is a knitter, pancake maker, and brand new babysitter.  Sir Adam (10) is a math whiz, hypothetical question asker, and one day astronaut.  Princess Ellie (7) is their jester who brings smiles to their faces with her cheerful nature, creative thinking, and stellar sense of fashion.  Each one of the subjects brings great joy to the king and queen. 
-The Queen avidly kept records of their year on the royal blog (link below) and is busy now as YW pres, kid coordinator, royal menu planner, and wannabe crafter.
-The King has vowed to do his part to cure Leukemia by running a marathon and a century bike ride this spring.  See his Team in Training website to contribute to the cause. …please and THANK YOU!
  "


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I actually designed the card back in April when Spence was still in the hospital.  I don't think he was thrilled with having his bald head sent out for the world to see six months after it started growing back, but I loved the sentiment on the card and thought that his and Glen's baldness added some power to the message. 

*****************Check out some previous year's Christmas cards below:
2011
2010
2009
2008


  ******************
 Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

End of the World

It's 12/21/12 and today is supposed to be the end of the world.  We thought about selling the house, moving to Fiji, and hunkering down with a year supply of gourmet chocolate and Honeycrisp apples to welcome the apocalypse.   Then I remembered that selling a house can be apocalyptically  painful in itself and that we've already done the two apocalypses in a row thing earlier this year and prefer to stay away from double whammies this time around.   

So we went for the next best option instead. 

We decided to act normal and fool everyone into thinking that today was just like any other day.  And let me tell you....we were awesome pretenders. 

The kids' only error in executing our plan was that they woke up and decided "YOLO, I think I'll wear my pajamas to school today."  It was actually pajama day at the elementary school, so the younger kids could be forgiven for their lapse in playing the part, but Spence and Cam may have ruined it all by wearing their footie pajamas on a totally normal, non-spirit day at the high school. 

Other than that little hiccup though, I daresay the rest of the week went brilliantly.  Read for yourself how we totally forewent the whole "living it up" idea and went with the frazzled mom charade instead! 
  • I've had kids home sick from school four times in last week-and-a-half
  • In every spare moment I am frantically trying to sew one of Ellie's Christmas present, somehow conveniently  forgetting beforehand that the lowest grade I ever got in my entire life was in Sewing 101 at BYU and that nothing to do with my sewing machine ever comes easily to me.
  •   I helped at elementary school holiday parties all day for 2 days in a row
  • After a crazy scary wheezing attack after track practice the other day, I took Cam to the doctor to discover that she has bronchitis and previously undiagnosed asthma
  • As soon as all kids were at school for a day, I left the house determined that I would not go home until the rest of the Christmas shopping was  done.  A few hours later I got a phone call to pick up a sick kid from school. 
  • Went to the pharmacy four times in three days, because they were out of two of the medications we needed
  • Went to the high school to sign forms saying it's okay for my daughter to take an inhaler with her to school
  • Cooked a pre-planned, real dinner only twice this week and fed my family things like lunchmeat sandwiches and leftovers the other days. 
  • I get to practice my blushing (and shoveling) skills every time someone drops by our house unexpectedly lately. 


And now that we're only a few minutes away from 12/21/12 being officially over and I'm wondering if anyone knows where I can buy a new calendar? 

 I need to know the next time the world is ending, so I can start planning my trip to Fiji. 


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On a totally different note, we found a "leucistic" sparrow (partial albino) at our bird feeder this morning.   It was stunningly gorgeous and so rare that many cultures believe that they're an omen of good luck.  Lucky or not, we were so mesmerized watching it that the younger kids were all tardy to school today. 





Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Nineteen Years

Here we are on December 18, 1993.
We were young, naive, and very much in love.
In the 19-years since that beautiful day we've....

bought ONE house
ended up with TWO minivans (at the same time)
lived in THREE states
in FOUR different houses
had FIVE kids
said goodbye to SIX grandparents
had our last baby SEVEN years ago
we have EIGHT different medical specialists attend to our family's health
we've held NINE jobs  between us
traveled on at least TEN cross-country road trips together
our average bedtime over the years -- ELEVEN o'clock
we add TWELVE eggs to make our traditional birthday breakfast crepes
we've spent THIRTEEN of those years living in the DC area
Glen and I have run in FOURTEEN endurance events (half-marathons or greater)
our kids have FIFTEEN cousins
we yawn at least SIXTEEN thousand times a day
I swear I was just SEVENTEEN last week
 we've enjoyed almost EIGHTEEN of those years as parents
for NINETEEN amazing years I've been the luckiest girl in the world!



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Finding Peace


Between the normal season busyness, a case of hormones, and some sad/stressful events going on in the lives of people around me, it's been a stressful week with my emotions going all over the place. All that combined with the events in Connecticut yesterday, made me pause from my holiday prep to squeeze my kids a little tighter when they got home yesterday.   This whole year has been a reminder to me that we never know what lies ahead in our lives and that we need to slow down and embrace the moments as they come. 

Somehow whenever I feel worried or agitated, listening to uplifting music is one of the best ways I know to help soothe my heart.  This video is one I've played several times this week and invariably I have found myself calmer afterward. Not only does the beauty of the music "calm my troubled heart", but I am comforted by the simplicity of its message...that this is a season to remember Christ and that it is through Him and His infinite love for us that we can find true peace. 

“There is terrible suffering in our world today. Tragic things happen to good people. God does not cause them, nor does He always prevent them. He does, however, strengthen us and bless us with His peace.”
Rex D. Pinegar,

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Best Note Ever (and other random things that make me smile)


Here is a note we found on the table after dinner tonight:   
translation: 
"I love you Cami. 
Thank you for your peanut butter bars. 
Love, Ellie
PS  This is really random but you are very pretty." 

It seriously made my day (and Cami's too)! 


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Here are a few other things the kids have done that have brightened my day in the last couple of days...

Here is Adam's "Four Seasons" clay creation that he made at Scouts last week.  He is so proud of it and constantly tweaks it and tells me about something new he's added.  Every time I pass it on the shelf, I can't help but smile...especially at the detail on the cute little dog and dog house on the right! 

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I love that I still have someone young enough to randomly decide she's going to make and wear an Indian costume to school for no other reason than that's what they're studying in social studies right now.

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And here's another sweet note Cami found  outside her door this weekend.  Also included were a hand-stitched heart and a heart shaped cookie: 

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What's making you smile today? 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Top Ten Reasons (and a poll)...

I love the Christmas season for many reasons, but one of the parts I look forward to the most each year is sending and receiving Christmas cards.  It's the one part of my life that I refuse to digitize and with as  giddy as I get when we receive some in the mail, I get almost as excited about sending them.  I view the time I put into creating and sending them as a labor of love and although they're expensive and time-consuming at a time of year when time and money are at a premium,  I would never even dream of skipping them each year. 

I know that many people (like my sister) do not feel the same way as me about them, so in an effort to articulate to my sister why it is that I feel so passionately about them, I've decided to create this top-ten list of why I love Christmas cards so much!    Read all the way to the end to answer my Christmas card  poll.
  
10.  I love getting something besides bills in the mail!

9.  I love the good excuse I have to actually try and be IN a few pictures, instead of always being behind the camera.

8.  I love reflecting back at the usually somewhat boring events of the past year and trying to encapsulate it into an interesting glimpse of our lives for everyone else.

7.  Being a bit of a photography geek, I love checking out the lighting/posing/composition of each photo!

6.  I love the flood of happy memories I get every time I open another card. 

5.  I love writing at least a sentence or two of personal greetings in each card. 

4.  I love keeping up at least a yearly connection with friends.

3.  Amidst all the other craziness of the holiday season, knowing that we might get some cards in the mail that day gives me something to look forward to all day long! 

2. I love seeing how everyone else is aging right along with us. 

1.  They make me smile! 

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FYI  I make it a point not to publish our Christmas card or letter on the blog until I think everyone has already received theirs in the mail.  This year we have lost our address book and are probably still a few weeks away from getting them all out.   I am bummed that we lost such a treasure of information right before Christmas, but I'm trying to view it as an opportunistic time to revamp and digitize the list! If you would like to be added to our list, please email me at goolds@verizon.net. 


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CHRISTMAS CARD POLL:  
(feel free to comment anonymously {as long as you're nice})

1.  Do you send Christmas cards each year?   If not, why? 
2.  About how many cards do you send? 
3.  Do you enjoy the process of sending cards?
4.  How do you feel about sending/receiving cards from local friends?
5.  Do you ever remove people from your list?  Why? 


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Seizure First-Aid

Tonight I've put aside the light-hearted Christmasy post that I was working on, so that I can share with you some important information that is very near and dear to my heart.

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On my way into the courthouse this afternoon for Spencer to attend his official driver's licensing ceremony, Spencer and I noticed a woman on the sidewalk in the throes of a "grand mal" seizure.  I could see from a distance that the people near her did not seem to know what to do, so I ran to see if I could help.  

Although Ellie has never had a convulsive seizure, because of her epilepsy she is significantly more likely than the average person to have one someday and we have all had seizure training just in case.    This experience was my first time ever witnessing a grand mal seizure, but I was glad I was there, because it was very clear that I was the only one in the group that had gathered around her that had a clue what to do.   Someone was protecting her head, which is hugely important, but she was still on her back and struggling to breathe as a result.    As soon as we flipped her to her side and took out the object that someone had placed between her teeth, her breathing immediately evened out.  

In a couple of minutes she was fine and the ambulance arrived just as Spencer and I had to rush to the courtroom, where I was shaking and on the verge of a melt-down...partly from the adrenaline and partly with worry for Ellie and the seizure we pray she never has.   After gathering my wits,  I got to "enjoy" sad videos and scare tactic presentations geared for the room of new drivers.  Afterward they presented us with his license and we had a much calmer trip home. 

Later, after processing all that had happened, I knew that I had to write this post tonight.....for Ellie and for all the people out there who also have epilepsy or even for those children who have febrile seizures.  

Please take a few minutes and read through these steps about what to do if someone has a seizure.  If you have a bit more time, watch the video as well.   In just a few minutes, you can go from being the helpless bystander to the person who knows what to do in a potentially frightening situation.  

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SEIZURE FIRST AID

1.  Clear the area around them and protect their head by holding it slightly upward or putting an item of clothing underneath it to prevent them from banging their head on the ground.

2.  Roll them onto their side. 

3.  DO NOT place anything in their mouth (no food, no drink, no objects)

4.  Call 911 (unless you know that they have a history of seizures or in a person with a history of seizures if the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.)

5.  Stay and help them to remain on their side with their head protected.

6.  Note the approximate length of the seizure for emergency personnel. 

7.  Calm the person when they awaken, as they will likely be very tired and very confused.



This is the video we watched as a family to learn what to do.  Skip to the 5:00 minute mark to get to the important part.  Watching the video took a lot of the fear out of the whole experience for me, because I could visualize what to do and be less frightened by the actual seizure. 



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Ellie has "petit mal" seizures (officially called "absence" seizures) and they do not require any other first aid than making sure that she stays safe while she is non-responsive. 

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Candid Camera

Here are a few photo gems I've found on my camera lately...

Spence rocking the tux and shorts look while waiting to get his senior portraits taken



Emma and her Siamese twin

Ellie catching a little snooze during Family Home Evening


Sniping Cami while she snipes someone (or something) else


Adam gives a whole new meaning to the term "button nose"
in a weird and sort of creepy way.



And my favorite of the bunch....
Spence and Cam prove that it is indeed possible to sleep comfortably
in the metal folding chairs at stake conference.


Not that I had any reason to doubt that fact or anything (they just didn't have a camera to prove anything). 


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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Arising and Shining

 On Thursday night I attended an event called Young Women in Excellence, which is exactly what it sounds like...a night for the young women in our church congregation to show off their extreme excellency.    Each girl took a few moments and shared a talent they'd been developing lately.  Some sang songs.  One showed some beautiful artwork she'd created.  Others shared a spiritual insight they'd recently gained.    Emma showed off a scarf she'd knitted herself and Cami announced an upcoming cupcake sale she was planning where all the proceeds will be donated for leukemia research.   Ellie wanted to share some paper dolls she'd made recently, but alas she was five years too young to participate.

Each presentation was truly inspiring and showed skill far beyond what I possessed as a teenager. 

The whole night was beautifully planned (not by me, so it's okay to brag about)  and the  decorations were absolutely gorgeous.  I heard that the refreshments were delicious, but can't say for sure since I held strong and did not actually taste any myself (thank you to the fitness challenge for the motivation).   

The highlight of the night (outside of the girls' presentations) was this activity that went along perfectly with the theme, "Arise and Shine Forth"...

a dozen or so Japanese lanterns floating up into the night sky...

it was pretty much amazing and a sight that I'll never forget. 
 

Oddly though,  the whole experience made me want to break into this song... 

Except for the fact that I take the term "breaking into song" a little too literally and usually break things in the process....

like eardrums and windows. 


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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Matching Christmas Pajamas and Other Random Things

NOTE:  Here are  the pajamas we are eyeing this year.  

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We have a long-standing Christmas tradition in our family (dating back to when Glen was a child) that on Christmas Eve we each open a new pair of pajamas.  Up until a few years ago we've just bought random pajamas for everyone....

Then, I'm not sure what got my brain going in that direction, but one year I decided it would be fun if all of our pajamas matched. 

These were our first matching pajamas, which I must say were quite "rocking"...

Then in 2010 there were these awesome footie pajamas that were comfy cozy as can be...unless you had to use the potty in the middle of the night.

Then last year brought us these festive jammies, which I must say are the softest, most comfortable pajamas I've ever worn.  Even after a year of heavy usage, they look and feel brand new...

My sister took this photo of us on our back deck on Christmas Day 2011--- just a couple of weeks before Spencer's diagnosis.  I love that even our dog jumped into the picture (unnoticed until later).  When I look at Spence I am struck with how thin and pale he looks and while he'd already been to the doctor once at that point, we were all still clueless to the monster that was ravaging his body.    This picture now has become a very poignant memory to me as one of the last moments captured of the carefree family life we enjoyed before that fateful day in early January rolled around. 

 Shortly after the photo was taken,  I  posted it to my blogs as a Christmas greeting to my cyber friends.    I got a several comments pretty quickly about how cute they thought the jammies were,  but little did I know that 11 months later it would become the closest thing to a viral blogpost as I've ever had.  It has been my most popular post by a long shot ever since mid-October and people were constantly contacting me to find out where we'd bought the pj's.  I since have added the link to the store and the words to the post, but it strikes me as ironic that after four years of food blogging that my most popular post has nothing to do with my cooking.  :)

Here was our 2012 version...

On a totally different note, I just wanted to show off my new entry way decorations.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am not big into home decorating.  In fact you could call me the anti-decorator.   I've had the same Christmas decorations for well over a decade and haven't ever thought twice about it.    Then the other day, I caught a bug.  A bug that many women have year round, but for me it was a new feeling.  I had the strongest urge to put up something new and different in our entry way.  

It took a few days and a trip to JoAnn's to figure out what I was going to do, but here is my very first totally original Lara-inspired Christmas entry way creation...
Ellie found the stick in the backyard for me and I added clip-on birds and berries to it...

I put it with floral foam into this very cute basket and SEWED MY OWN TABLE RUNNER (without a pattern I might add) to go underneath. 


It's pretty much the randomest, craftiest thing I've ever done for our home in my entire life, so please feel free to shower your adoring accolades on me.  Or at least refrain from mocking me for the unpainted wood trim in the background of the picture that may or may not have been there for almost an entire year.   

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