Sunday, July 28, 2013

20 Hours < $1000 and other exciting tidbits from this week

Now that Summer is officially more than half-over, I keep expecting it to slow down its pace a bit, so we can have a few lazy days here or there.  Somehow it's not happening though.  This week flew by just as quickly as the weeks before did and when I reflected back at the week, I realized that we had a lot of pretty big things still going on that I didn't want to forget.  Here's a little glimpse at a few of those things:
  • After showing zero interest for the last several months, Spencer decided two days beforehand that he wanted to go on his scout troop's high adventure to canoe in the Adirondack's that left early Monday morning.  His scout leaders were amazingly accommodating and even his doctor bent over backward to fill out his medical forms on Friday afternoon with no notice. 

  • Glen drove 20 hours to pick Spencer up from his high adventure one day early so he could be present to win a $1000 college scholarship at a young adult cancer survivor conference that was held yesterday.  They required that all scholarship recipients be present to win.  
  • Last Friday Cami officially relaunched her cupcake business  for the summer (click on the link for details)  with a giant sample sale.  She made six different flavors (chocolate dipped strawberry, carrot with cream cheese, red velvet with cream cheese, double lemon, coconut lime, and greek yogurt raspberry) and sold them individually (normally you have to buy a dozen of one flavor).   She had some VERY happy customers who were thrilled to get a taste of Cami's cupcakes after she took a 10-month hiatus while she was in school.   Cami was also happy to earn some new fans at Glen's work when he purchased a couple dozen to share with his coworkers.  

  • Emma finished up swim team for the summer earning PR's almost every race and being an alternate for divisionals yesterday.  We are proud of how hard she's worked this season!
  • After a lot of prayer and deliberating, we have officially decided to homeschool Ellie and Adam this upcoming school year.  We absolutely adore our elementary school, which made it an exceedingly difficult decision to make, but we felt very strongly that it was the right thing for them this year.   Both Ellie and Adam are completely thrilled.  I am also excited, but a good bit nervous for the lifestyle change that it will entail!
  • With summer half-way over we have finally decided where we're going on our summer vacation (a roadtrip of course!).  Now we're scrambling trying to pull together an itinerary and find places to stay that actually still have vacancies.  It is my goal that someday we'll actually figure out what we're doing in the summer before summer starts.

  • They showed this video at the young adult cancer survivor conference yesterday and I bawled uncontrollably the whole way through as I remembered how hard it was to have our family life turned upside down for 6 months.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Thrill of the Kill

Some families get excited about their sporting events.  Others get excited about Disneyland or seeing the latest movie.   We Goolds kind of like those things too, 
but if you want to get us really excited all you need to do is start talking about birds. 

Ever since Adam's second grade teacher interwove her love of birds into every subject he studied that year, we have been smitten.  We've made our deck into a bird haven and we regularly go on nature hikes just to see what birds we might see and seeing a cool or unusual bird is an event that gets the whole family excited!

So imagine our sheer delight when we happened upon this sight while driving home from a friend's house yesterday. 

It's  a red-tailed hawk just hanging out with what appeared to be a rabbit or a squirrel in its talons. 
We immediately pulled over, backed up and watched it hopping around the yard with its kill for well over 5 minutes.    Here's a video we captured of it.   

My kids felt badly for whatever little creature he was eating for his lunch, but in the end were thrilled to get a close up glimpse of a gorgeous bird they've only ever before seen from afar.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Fields of Sunshine

Sometime last week I saw a picture in the Washington Post of a little girl wandering through a field of sunflowers that towered over her.  I was immediately intrigued and wanted to know where such a beautiful place in the DC area could possibly be.  Luckily the caption gave the location and after doing a little investigating I was happy to discover that not only was it not too far from our home but that it also just so happened to be right in the middle of peak blooming time.  I immediately started making plans to go.  

 On Saturday we drove to McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, Maryland to  see the fields of blooming sunshine for ourselves.  We hadn't realized when we got there that there are actually several different sunflower fields, so we were a little disappointed when the first one we came to looked a little wilty already.  Luckily we could see a second field not far in the distance which was much perkier looking.  We walked onward and were officially entranced! 

Even the drive to the sunflower fields was a beautiful sight in and of itself!

We visited the field right on  River Road, which was the easiest to get to, but it was also the most crowded.   We also visited some on  Hunting Quarter's Road, but they were a bit of a walk to get to (and a little past full bloom).  Our favorite field of all was the one on Sycamore Landing Road.   There weren't any other people there and it wasn't a long walk from the car.  Most of our pictures are from that field.

We also enjoyed watching the bees, dragonflies, butterflies, and goldfinches that abounded in the fields of yellow.  

Now my kids are eagerly watching the sunflowers that Adam planted in our yard earlier this summer.  They're actually quite a bit bigger than this now, but not as photogenic since beetles have been eating up the leaves.

Here are my favorite two pictures from the day: 

My family (except Spence and I) soaking in the sunshine all around them. 

And our own little ray of sunshine totally in her element!

"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It's what sunflowers do."

~ Helen Keller

Friday, July 19, 2013

Day Trip to Harrisonburg

A couple of weeks ago Spencer had a day-long orientation at JMU, which is about 2 hours from our home.  We thought of having him ride up with a friend, but then decided that it would be fun to tagalong with him, so we could finally see JMU for ourselves and explore Harrisonburg as well!

I did a little research before leaving, so I had a handy dandy list of places to go, restaurants to visit,  and things to do.  Since his orientation started early, we ended up driving to Harrisonburg the night before and using our hotel reward points to stay for the night.  We woke up bright and early (hours earlier than Spence's normal summer wake-up time) and dropped him off at campus.

JMU campus is nestled right in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is actually quite a lovely campus.
photo source: 

Our first order of business after dropping him off was heading to the Edith Johnson Carrier Arboretum, which is part of JMU campus.   

It was a lovely place laced with walking trails and garden "rooms".  We strolled around, enjoying nature,  for almost 2 hours.  Their favorites were the duck pond...

and the rock labyrinth,

which kept them active and busy for over 20 minutes as they ran the course over and over again.

Next we headed to the on-campus bookstore, so we could outfit our family in some JMU Duke gear.  It was there in the bookstore that I became keenly aware that while  JMU is a beautiful campus filled with friendly people, it is no BYU.  I had to avert the kids' eyes away from some of the garbage they sold there.  

Next we tried to go to the on-campus mineral museum.  Too bad the website neglected to mention one minor detail:  

Oh well.  Off to lunch we went next.  We read rave reviews of this place called Grilled Cheese Mania that intrigued us.  I was a little surprised when we pulled up to the listed address to discover that it's literally a food truck with a permanent address.  Smallness of it notwithstanding, the sandwiches were tasty...

and the kids enjoyed trying out their famous limeade.  

After lunch we drove about 7 miles outside of Harrisonburg to a working lavender farm (White Oaks Lavender Farm).  We were all quite excited about taking a tour and walking through the fields.  

Too bad that the second we pulled into the parking lot was the very second that it started pouring rain.  

Although the rain was very heavy, we still tried to enjoy it the best we could by taking pictures out of the car window...

and venturing out a little....

so we could go into the lavender gift shop.    We had high hopes that the rain would pass while we were in the gift shop and that we would eventually be able to take the tour, but no such luck.   On the bright side, Ellie is enamored with the lavender seed necklace she bought there and it reminds her that we want to go back there again soon.

After the bust trip to the lavender farm (and the bust trip to the mineral museum) I was starting to run low on my list of things to do and I was getting worried how we'd fill the time until Spence was done.  

It was time to formulate a Plan B.  

What's a Plan B without a stop for a treat? We went to a place called Bruster's which had the biggest selection of ice cream I'd ever seen in my life.  

The cones were as big as the selection and we took our time savoring their creamy deliciousness, while I pondered what on earth we were going to do next.  

I left the ice cream store not having a clue where I was driving to.

Just as I was about to resignedly drive back to campus to see what we could discover there, when lo and behold, right across the street from the ice cream store was my salvation!

It was Sylvia's Pet Store!  And what a fun pet store it was!

We spent the next hour-and-a-half holding puppies, petting rabbits, trying to get the birds to talk to us, watching the fish, picking out a dog toy for Rocky, laughing at the owner's dog chase the owner's pet ferret around the store, and in general having a fun, relaxing time together!

It would never have made my list of things to do in Harrisonburg, but it was the absolute perfect way to end the rainy day.

Right as we finished up at the pet store, was right when Spence called to say he was done.   It was perfect. 

Now I have a question to pose to any  JMU alum or JMU parents that happen to be reading this: 

What are your favorite Harrisonburg places to visit?  Are there any fun traditions we should be a part of?  Which restaurants do you love?  Any other helpful advice for some soon-to-be Harrisonburg/JMU frequenters?  


Thursday, July 18, 2013

14 month check-up

More than a year-and-a-half after entering the world of parenting a kid with cancer, we had a first at Spencer's check-up today.

I'd like to say that it was the first time I actually said something witty in public.  Or that it was the first time that Spence didn't mind getting his blood drawn.  

But no.  

Today marked the first day that I had a complete and total meltdown in front of the doctor.  I've had plenty of meltdowns behind closed doors before, but never have I let my guard down so completely in front of a non-family member.  

I think it was due to a combination of factors--mostly having to do with the 10-lbs Spence has lost since his last appointment without trying--that I was in high anxiety mode.  At some point Spencer got irritated with me doing the appointment and that embarrassment combined with the worry and the lack of sleep it has caused me,  made me totally and completely lose it.  

It wasn't pretty.  

Happily though, despite the meltdown and the unintended weight loss (no fair!), I am happy to say that Spence is still healthy.  

And I can now say that I've been hugged by a doctor. 


Clinic Stats: 
Weight:  68.3kg (almost exactly 10-lbs. less than 2 months ago), WBC=4.5, Hgb=15.3, Platelets=125, ANC=2140


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Girls' Camp in Pictures

After all the nightmare stories I had heard about last year's YW camp, I was a bit nervous about going  to camp this year.   With 100+ degree weather all week, black widow ridden cabins, and the final night that ended with a derecho, I understand that it ended up being a somewhat miserable week.

Happily though,  this year proved to be much more enjoyable.  Minus out the buckets of rain on Thursday night and the vomiting fest on Friday night, this year turned out to be a smashing success!  The girls were awesome, the weather was not stifling hot, the food was excellent, the activities well-planned,  and all in all it was a great week getting to know the girls and other adults from around the stake.

Some highlights of the week included the "Tweet Line," Spa Day, the tasty food, the devotionals, craft time, the water slide, the "pond," and of course THE video from the young men.  And I certainly won't complain that the hot and sticky weather stayed away  until this week, when I can stay in the AC all day and night!

Here's a glimpse of the week in pictures.  Let me know if you want me to email you any specific photos.   Enjoy!

Have I mentioned lately how much I love these girls?


Monday, July 15, 2013

Sweet Sixteen

Sixteen years ago on a hot and steamy day much like today, I was huge and a week overdue to have our second baby.  Early on the morning of July 15 I checked into Greater Baltimore Medical Center and was hooked up to some pitocin to help our baby get moving.   It was a long day, but by early afternoon I was thrilled to be holding a  plump rosy cheeked little girl in my arms.

Camille Rose, whom we always called "Cami,"  weighed in at 8-lbs. 15-oz. and had a healthy appetite from day one.  The nurses oohed and ahed over her cute round head and chunky little thighs and called her the most perfect newborn they'd ever laid eyes on.    We didn't disagree with that assessment and were instantly smitten with our firstborn daughter!

Big brother, Spence, was also smitten and made her his best bud before she was even old enough to sit on her own.

She stayed chunky longer than any of my other kids and it wasn't an infrequent occurrence when someone called her "sumo baby".   She was an early talker and often surprised people with her articulate comments.  I specifically remember one time when she was about 18-months-old when someone commented about what a cute baby she was.  She got offended at being called a baby and was quick to correct them with a clear statement of "I am NOT a baby.  I am a big girl," except that she couldn't say her "G" sound yet and it came out more like, "I am a bid durl."

Today she is sixteen-years-old and still stunning people with her beauty and intelligence.

She is a hard-worker always striving for excellence and we couldn't be more thrilled with the lovely young lady Cami is becoming.  

Happy Sweet Sixteen to our Cami Rose! 
We love you! 


Saturday, July 13, 2013


I've just returned from 5 days at YW Camp and despite the fact that my body wants nothing more than to collapse into bed right now, I couldn't resist taking a few minutes to blog about a few of the highlights of the week.
It was my first time attending camp since I was a young woman myself  and I was surprised to see from a leader's perspective at the stunning amount of work and effort that goes into making these happen.  However additionally I was also surprised at how meaningful of an experience it was for me as well as for the young women.  

The highlight of the week for the girls was the showing of this video that the young men of our stake had made for them.  It turned out beautifully and it meant the world to the girls.  

The YM kept the whole project surprisingly underwraps and I only found out about the video shortly before it aired....just long enough to pull out my phone and videotape their reaction.  You can't see their faces, but you can certainly hear their reaction when the singing starts!  

Despite my 4 nights sleeping on a cot in a tiny tent, the seemingly nonstop rain, and the long lines for the bug filled showers, I completely adored spending the week with  these amazing young women and I sincerely look forward to attending again next year!  

And now don't mind me while I check out for a long awaited date with my pillow.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Getting Ready for Girls' Camp

Girls' Camp is on Tuesday and after months of stressing about the details, things are finally starting to fall into place and it actually seems like it's all going to come together just fine.    It's amazing to me how my one little contribution can take up so much time and there are so many others that have put so much more into it.  I'm grateful for all of the people over the years who have given so much to provide these fabulous opportunities for our youth.

 I can't say that I'm excited about five days of sleeping in a tent and being away from air conditioning in 90+ degree weather, but I am excited about spending time Cam, Emma, and the other young women.

 The collage  above shows the woodburning craft they will be doing at camp.  The teacher of the class needed some help to make a sample or two and Cami was happy to volunteer for the job.  It will be Emma's first year to attend camp and she is so excited that she has been packing since Thursday.  She has color coded her packing list and if her enthusiasm is any indicator it's going to be a great week!


After rereading this post, I realized that it doesn't flow very well. Sorry.  That's all my brain has right now.  :) 

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