Friday, May 31, 2013

ONE YEAR!!!!!!

A year ago today (May 31) Spence busted out of the hospital once and for all....


 At that point I thought the hard part was over.  But I was wrong.

Everything about leukemia was out of our control.  Him getting it was out of our control.  His treatment was out of our control.  And whether or not the treatment was successful was out of our control.  All we had to do was pray and support him the best way we knew how.

Then he came home and suddenly everything seemed to shift back to us.  The doctors told us that his chance for relapse was quite high, so we've found ourselves celebrating each milestone  with a somewhat reserved enthusiasm and a pervading worry about whether we are doing enough to "help" him stay healthy.

Much to Spence's own chagrin (and teenage appetite) that worry has led me to keep adding things to the list of what  we need to change to keep him healthy.  We've thrown away all of our plastic dishes, I stopped buying processed meats, banished artificial colors and sweeteners, started baking our bread, grinding wheat, and I still sometimes wonder if we should move further away from the freeway.  And yet deep down I worry that it's all too little, too late and can't help but wonder if anything would be different if only I had started all this sooner.

Glen has felt the same helplessness that I have since the end of Spencer's treatment, but has battled it  in a much different way than me.  Instead of selfishly just trying to keep it away from our family like I have, he has chosen to battle against leukemia by putting his heart and soul into finding a cure.  He has tirelessly fundraised over $10,000 all the while training for a marathon, which he ran in March.  Now he is in NY for a 108-mile bike ride which he will ride in the morning.

It seems only apt that he is riding to find a cure,  the day after Spencer's anniversary for being cured.

I think we will celebrate big with some homemade bread and organic peaches....and maybe some ice cream!

Go Glen!   Yay Spence!  
This is the senior ad I created for his HS yearbook.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

four down....only ten more to go

Between the senior roast and meeting a major league ball player last week, it's been a pretty exciting time here at our house.

In addition to all that though, we've had a few more happenings....some of it exciting, some of it not so much.

The two kidney stones Glen had were something we could have done without.  He's only ever had one before, when he was also in heavy training for a long distance event.  As a helpless bystander in his misery, I am hoping he's learned his lesson about needing to guzzle water when his training is this intense.  His 108 mile bike ride for Team in Training is this weekend and kidney stones aside, I am looking forward to his training being done so we can spend a little more time with him on Saturdays again.

Another less than exciting happening is the frequency with which I keep getting calls from the school to pick up a certain child.   I can expect it at least a couple of times a week these days and I think she and I are both  ready for school to be done!

On a happier note, Ellie invented her own recipe and fed us dinner the other night.  She'd been begging to make dinner for a while, but I figured it was just because she wanted taquitos (her favorite meal), which she tells me I don't make often enough. I knew she has a creative spark when it comes to arts and crafts, but I was surprised when she insisted on making up her dinner recipe completely by herself!  I made the crust and she stirred together cream cheese, a can of black beans, refried beans, chicken, some shredded cheese, and a little salt and pepper for the yummiest "dinner pie" ever!  Seriously it was delicious and she's now got a regular spot on the dinner making rotation!

  Another thing I've been enjoying the past couple of days is the opportunity to sleep in a little now that early morning seminary is done for the school year.  It's hard to believe we've been through 4 years of it with this guy...

and only have ten more years of it with the rest of the kids.  :)

Seriously though, despite the early mornings and loads of driving, we love the uplifting start it has given to Spence and Cam each day!  Thanks to seminary teachers everywhere (including my own from back in the day) who sacrifice so much to teach a bunch of sleepy (sometimes surly) teenagers each and every morning.  I am eternally grateful for  their awesomeness.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Harper's Heroes

Cancer is a two-sided coin.  In the midst of the terror and heartache of watching a loved one suffer, is the startling realization that you've never felt more loved in your entire life.   Since Spencer's release from the hospital nearly a year ago, it has been a struggle for us to reconcile a keen sense of vulnerability we face with the  compulsion to give back in some small way a portion of the generosity and kindnesses that were showered upon us.  And yet no matter what we do we feel it is an impossible task, since the kindness has never ended.  Take yesterday, for example.

Yesterday we were invited by the Leukemia Lymphoma Society to attend a Nationals baseball game with a program called "Harper's Heroes".  Bryce Harper, the dashing young phenom on the Nats, has a personal connection with leukemia and has reached out to give a little hope and joy to those who have already fought or who are currently still fighting the battle.    In addition to taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with us personally,   he also paid for all of our tickets (in the seventh row) and the food vouchers that we all received.  It turned out to be an amazingly fun day and Bryce Harper has at least seven new #1 fans in our house!    Take a look at our great day!  

4:15pm--we arrived to Nationals Park and we met our group of four other fellow pediatric cancer survivors and their families (about 25 of us in all)

5:00pm --they took all the kids to the field, so they could watch the Nationals batting practice up close and personal.  All the parents watched from just behind the Nats dugout.  

5:39pm--we headed inside to the press conference room and met Bryce Harper.   He spoke to us for a few minutes about his personal connections with cancer (a friend who survived leukemia, another friend who died from leukemia, and a grandparent who'd had prostate cancer) and he talked about how important his faith and family are to him.  

5:50ish:  After talking for a few minutes he opened it up to a question/answer session.  It was mostly the parents who did the asking, but once again he talked of his love for his family and how that was his favorite way to spend any free time that he had.  He also talked of how hard he'd worked to get where he was and that he'd graduated from high school after his sophomore year so that he could pursue baseball.  He seemed like a genuinely great guy.

5:55pm--he signed autographs and allowd the families to take pictures with him.

He signed a lot of his autographs with the scripture reference Luke 1:37, which reads "With God nothing shall be impossible."  

Here we are just chilling with Bryce!  

The REAL Harper's Heroes (the leukemia slayers) take a picture with Bryce Harper.

7:14pm--the Nationals vs. Phillies finally game began.  

Ellie was quite excited whenever the Nats would score a "goal" (apparently she's a bit more familiar with lacrosse and hockey, than baseball) and all of us had to cheer extra loud because we were completely surrounded by Phillies fans. 

Although the Nats ended up losing 5-3, it was a very memorable night that we will not soon forget!
Thank you to LLS and Bryce Harper for making it happen! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Senior Roast (and Video)

Last night was our church's annual Senior Roast, where all of the youth gather together to honor the graduating seniors.  The word "honor" may make it sound serious, but in reality it's more about having some good clean fun and making sure that the seniors know how much they are loved.

Here is the Class of 2013.  Brandon, Spencer, and Ryan have all been together since preschool.  Janessa moved in a few years ago.  They are a great group and our ward will really miss them as they all go off to school this fall.

Each person got to have a display table with some of their memoirs.  I got a little distracted and ended up just grabbing a few things on my way out the door.  My one regret was not finding a jersey from his high school lacrosse team.  Actually I did find it, but it was crumpled up in the bottom of a full gym bag that has been sitting there since the end of the lacrosse season.  I opted not to use it.


Spencer's display                                                  Janessa's display

 Ryan's display                                                    Brandon's display  


The most anticipated part of the night was each senior's slideshow presentation.  I did not realize it when I started ours, but I ended up doing ours the labor intensive way.  Most people did Powerpoint slideshows and talked through them, while I stressed to find out how to add sound to ours.  I didn't get much sleep the last couple of nights, but in the end I liked how it turned out.  Enjoy!  

We ended the night with each senior presenting their last will and testament.  Spencer bequeathed things like his baking skills and all the young men to Cami, his sporting gear to Adam, a big hug to Ellie, and his music ability and bedroom to Emma.

We are going to miss this kid next year!

Love you Spence!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dam Humor

 Finally I am pleased to discover that there is someone else out there who not only appreciates my dam humor, but is making money off of it!!!

(images from Washington Post)

Thanks to DeeAnn for spotting these for me, although randomly they are giving me the strongest urge to go on a dam hike sometime soon....

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Senior Prom

Sources have informed me that I have been negligent in my blogging responsibilities of late. Normally I would protest and point to the handful of blogposts I've written in the last week as proof of my loving devotion to the blog, but alas it would all be a lie.  While it's true that I keep typing words and pressing publish, it has been with all the passion of a burrowing cicada in year 8 of its 17-year life cycle.

I could blame it on the rain, but Milli Vanilli already did that and it didn't work out so well, so I will just accept responsibility for my sleep deprived posting and apologize profusely to you and to the entire universe for making you wait three whole days to read about Spencer's senior prom.  I will make it up to you though, by blogging about it with a searing zeal  that would put any newly awakened cicada to shame.

Spencer, the most dashing eighteen-year-old  this world has ever known asked the fairest princess in the land, Jill-erella to accompany him to the final dance of his illustrious high school career.  Some people call it "Prom", but at our house we just like to refer to it as  "The King's Grand Royal Ball of the Century".  No matter what you peasants call it, I just want it to be known that our young hero has set an unattainable standard to all peons who think they know how to creatively ask someone to a Grand Royal Ball of the Century.  

Homemade cupcakes (made by Spencer)--
Armies of ants--
Chalk message on sidewalk--

 Seriously!   Who, but Spencer, would have ever thought to train entire ant armies in the special academy of cupcake writing?  None, I tell you, none!  He is the new standard for prom awesomeness.

After Jill-erella was irresistibly drawn to his creative culinary genius and agreed to accompany him (are you surprised?), ball planning went into full gear.  And when I mean full gear, I mean literally 47 text messages per second being tossed around in group messages to the entire senior class.  Spencer's phone literally buzzed for nine straight days and even now sometimes in the middle of the night I still think I hear it buzzing.  But then I wake up and realize that it's only the sound of my own snoring waking me up again (got that from my dad).

Finally on Saturday,  the big night arrived and all the plans fell into place.  Catered Uno at a friend's house, a rented bus, pictures on the Potomac, the Royal Ball itself where they dazzled everyone with their gorgeousity, and finally breakfast at the Illustrious  House of Pancakes, where I hear tell that they ate only caviar pancakes smothered with truffle sauce.

It was a dream come true.




Tonight I am so thankful to hear that my family living in the Oklahoma City area
are safe and well.  My Dad and his family are Oklahoma natives and my Nana and  aunt/uncle/cousins still live in the area.  My Nana lives in Moore, right in the heart of the devastation, but 
somehow her house is fine.  One to two blocks away, in her same neighborhood,
the area is demolished. 

She was at a funeral at the time the tornado hit and she weathered the storm at the church with the other funeral goers.   She was pretty shook up, but I imagine was comforted not to be alone
during such a frightening experience.   My Nana had left her cell phone at home, so between that and the jammed lines  it took quite a while before her very worried children were
finally able to get through to her.

My mom, dad, and younger siblings were living in Oklahoma City in 1999, when
 the F5 tornado tore an almost an identical mile-wide path through Moore.  It was one of the most destructive tornadoes to ever hit Oklahoma and the devastation was absolutely heart-wrenching.
They, with their church congregation, spent weeks and weeks helping people to sort
through the rubble and rebuild their lives.
Photo credit: Capital Weather Gang via OklahomaNick

They are saying that today's tornado was much worse than that. 
Now we are praying, praying, praying for all those in the path of today's storm...

and for all those that call Oklahoma home.


“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


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Just in Case You Were Wondering...

1.  Giant cardboard flowers are fabulous for hiding your belly in pictures (and look cute too)!   I think I'm going to start carrying one with me in my purse.

2.  Learning about the Civil War can actually be really fun.  We went to a Civil War day at a nearby historic farm and had a fabulous time.  Ellie, in particular, was so excited that she dressed the part and was thrilled when the organizers invited her back to be a volunteer next year.  My favorite part was seeing a real cotton plant ( was really cool).  

3.  Matching clothes are cute even when you're a teenager.  Well past the age of being able to pick out my kids' clothes, the other day my girls made me smile when they intentionally dressed to match each other...

It made me think back to the day, that doesn't seem all that long ago, when they looked like this...

4.  I miss those days.     ↑  ↑  ↑  ↑  ↑  ↑  ↑  ↑  


Friday, May 17, 2013

Mother's Day Top 5 (and a Bottom 1)

I can't let this week go by without doing a little recap on Mother's Day.  The older the kids have gotten, the less I expect for Mother's Day, but the more they continue to impress me.  Gone are the little clay pinchpots from art class and in their place are other, more meaningful gifts--gifts of kindness, creativity, and service.  I sure love these kids!

Here's a look at my Mother's Day Top 5:

5.  Cute handmade cards-- Although you could tell he was pleased with the poem and picture, Adam apologized to me that the bird didn't really look like a real chickadee (as referenced in the poem).  I also really like how he thought to cross out "from" and change it to "love".   :)

4.  A gorgeous homemade bracelet from Adam--who must have reassured me ten times during the day that he was not the only boy who made their mom jewelry at his friend's house.  

3.  My very own one-of-a-kind Mother's Day coupon book from Ellie--which included such coupons as quiet time,  a mommy-daughter date, game night, and story time.  

2.  Emma made Lemon-Roasted Chicken and Vegetables for dinner and Cami made breadsticks and chocolate cookies--it was absolutely awesome eating homemade food that I did not cook myself.  

1.  Kids (particularly one) who willingly posed for a picture with me.   Even if his motives were socially driven (so he could put it on Instagram) and he felt the random need to tackle me to the couch before letting anyone pull out the camera, I was  still grateful for a rare smiling shot of the two of us.  

Now if I could just figure out how to freeze time.  I'm not sure I like this growing up and leaving the house stuff that is soon upon us.


#1 And what Mother's Day would be complete without a major appliance breaking?  My dishwasher has burned out its third motor in five years.  :(


OTHER MOTHER'S DAY TRADITIONS (that I didn't take pictures of)

Breakfast in bed--Glen made a fabulous breakfast of crepes, eggs, and fresh fruit!
Planting flowers in the yard--mostly it was the flowers for our deck with a few for around the mailbox.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Meet Rocky (Pets: Part 2)

 In 2009, a friend of a friend offered to let us adopt their already neutered and house-trained pug-beagle mix before they took him to the pound.  My kids had been begging for a dog for years before that and although I already knew that I was not a dog lover, I let the rest of the family persuade me into giving him a try.  The dog previously called Oliver, was quickly renamed the much cooler sounding name, "Rocky," by the kids.  He was about one-year-old and although quite cute, was also quite a handful.  

You see, although I had had two brief stints as a dog owner in my childhood, nobody had yet cued me into the Dog Statement of Belief.  What?  You've never heard of the Dog Statement of Belief?  Well I have it on good authority that it goes something like this:      

"We claim the privilege of rolling in poo, pulling things out of the trash, chewing up leather shoes, and barking at any and all people, animals, and vehicles that come within sight of our house.  If there is anything stinky, meaty, or in any ways gross, we seek after these things." 

Apparently most people already know all about dog's beliefs and have either come to an acceptance about them in exchange for their cheerful companionship or have decided that they don't want anything to do with them.  Although by nature I fall squarely into the latter category, over the past few years Rocky and I have come to a reluctant peace with each other.

While I may not love all of his antics, I've grown to appreciate his presence during the day and his eager willingness to accompany me on a walk.  I find it sweet when he snuggles up next to anyone who sits on "his" couch and mostly I love that the kids adore him.   And on really good days  when he hasn't acted too crazily (not very often),  I even occasionally find myself wondering what kind of dog we might get next.

More about Rocky:  

Rocky's favorites
  • Likes to sleep snuggled next to Ellie
  • Is attracted to dirty underwear and socks and will chew them to bits if given the opportunity
  • loves going on walks
  • loves to chase squirrels, but never even comes close to catching them
  • is very sweet with the kids

Things that annoy us about Rocky
  • Although the owner and dog are very friendly, Rocky hates the greyhound that lives around the corner from us, and goes embarrassingly crazy whenever we cross paths.
  • Barks....a lot!

Other pets owned: 
  • hermit crab
  • 1 gerbil and a devil-gerbil, Fui and Lucy
  • a couple of fish

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