Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Birthday Boy!

Nineteen years ago today this cute little guy made me a mother...

And it's basically been one big nonstop adventure since!

In honor of his nineteenth birthday, here are nineteen random facts that you may or may not already know about him (and a few that he may not want you to know):

1.  He is a bacon aficionado and only likes his bacon cooked the one "right way", which is dipped in a mixture of flour and sugar and slow cooked over the griddle until just barely crisp.   He will take over the job from anyone he deems as doing it incorrectly.

2.  He is the most injured of all our children.  He's had stitches, staples, and two broken bones (a finger and a toe).   With three broken bones in my life (collar bone, leg, and toe), I am the only one who is anywhere close to him on the injury list.

3. Also, between his three surgeries, bout with leukemia, five months of hospitalization, allergies to numerous medications, and natural teasing personality he's caused more tears than the rest of the kids combined....times 100.

4.  He wore only jeans and t-shirts (no collars) through early elementary school, then switched over to only t-shirts and athletic shorts which he wore most of the way through high school. When he went to college he suddenly decided it was time to develop a real sense of fashion and now wears only name brand shirts and slacks.

5.  He is the pickiest eater in our family.  He would much prefer a sandwich and plain old spaghetti than many of the crazy new recipes I try.

6. He is a cheese connoisseur and if a dish has cheese in it he probably likes it.  When he is home, you can usually find at least 5-6 different kinds of cheese in our fridge at any given time.  His favorite is smoked gouda.

7.  He has a gift with words.  He has always been good at getting his point across either on paper or orally and much to Cami's jealousy, he can whip out excellent academic essays with little effort.

8. He's not much of a sweets guy, but if  you want to get on his good side, a batch of peanut butter bars could never hurt your cause.

9.  He recently updated his FB status to say that he was "In a Relationship"!  :)

10. He is pretty even-keeled.

11.  Most of the way through high school he considered matching socks to be an unpleasant and unnecessary task.

12. Speaking of which, organization in any manner is not his strong suit.

13. He is very sweet with young children and loves nothing more than to make them smile.

14.  His soft spot for young children aside, that affection does not mean that he shows any mercy to them when playing board games.

15.  For as much as he shunned the spotlight through most of his childhood, he was a surprisingly good sport about the extreme spotlight he had on him when he was sick.  He now is much more moderate when it comes to attention--he still doesn't seek it, but he also doesn't shun it anymore either.

16.  Deep down inside he is a book worm.  When he was in elementary school he'd read 1-2 chapter books a day and we'd have set rules so he wouldn't read all day and all night and get nothing else done.

17.  Speaking of books, his favorite authors are Orson Scott Card and Nicholas Sparks.  For anyone unfamiliar with those authors, the first is the science fiction author who wrote Enders' Game, the latter is an author who specializes in tragic love stories that get made into movies.  His titles include, "The Notebook," "Safe Haven,"  and "A Walk to Remember".

18. He can play the clarinet and piano, but most likely wouldn't ever admit to it.

19. He has a love-hate relationship with this blog.  On the one hand, he hates it because it sometimes shines the spotlight on him, on the other hand, he's told me  that he has many friends (mostly of the female persuasion) that read it regularly...a fact which I don't think bothers him greatly.  :)

We love Spencer and look forward to him coming home for the summer next week.  I'm already stocking up on cheese and bacon.  :)

Happy birthday, Spence!  We love you!


On a completely different note...check out this picture of our neighborhood creek this afternoon:
It normally has about 6-inches of water in it and you would not even be able to see the water from this distance and angle on a normal day.

Luckily it's supposed to be beautiful for the rest of the week....just in time for my mom and dad to arrive into town tomorrow for my twin nieces' baptisms this weekend!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Things that Matter

*The birth of sweet new babies.     *A sick grandparent on their deathbed.  
*A wedding of a daughter.     *A teenage cancer friend who passed away tonight.
*A friend who lost a young daughter to AML a few months ago and now faces a terminal illness in her husband.   

All of these are things that friends of mine are experiencing right now---in the last 24 hours-- 
and my heart is caught in this swirl of conflicting emotions of joy and heartbreak.
I grin at the pictures of the chubby cheeked  newborn babies in the arms of their beaming parents and yet in the same moment cry tears of sadness for the friend who said goodbye to her sweet daughter tonight and another friend who prepares to say goodbye to her father-in-law. 

The mother in me longs to make everything all better for everyone, just like when I could kiss my toddlers' booboos and magically make their troubles go away.    Yet I know that against the crushing tide of grief, that my efforts alone will never be more than a mere bandaid on a gushing wound.   I  reach out in comfort, pray for them, and seek to relieve their suffering the best I can, but ultimately the peace that they long for has to come from within the chambers of their own heart....from God.   
For God is the healer who can heal all wounds.    

All of these happenings have led me to ponder on  the ups and downs that life brings each of us and  yearn to hold onto those ups  better and stop dwelling on the downs.  I want to learn to not only recognize better the beauty in the simple moments that can often go unnoticed in a day,  but also to cultivate in my heart a greater capacity to savor those moments.  

 To rejoice with my daughter as a cute guy in her seminary class asks her to Mormon Prom. 

To soak in the sun rays and truly enjoy the beauty of a glorious spring day.

To savor Ellie's joy at finally being able to  ride a bike without fear of what will happen if she has a seizure.  (she will stop pedaling, but not fall off or swerve into the street)

To let my heart soar in the realization that my kids truly enjoy being together.

And to watch with delight as Cami rallies the entire family, plus a few friends, to give them some  lacrosse pointers!

This picture reminds me of the quote Ellie wrote in her notebook a few weeks ago:
"By ourselves we are strong.  Together, with God, we are unstoppable."

 I'm too tired to feel unstoppable most days, but I like to think that sagging energy and all, that with  a renewed focus on my relationship with God and the things in life that matter most, that I can keep moving forward and making a difference

... one day at a time. 


“ ...we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most. Let us simplify our lives a little. Let us make the changes necessary to refocus our lives on the sublime beauty of the simple, humble path of Christian discipleship—the path that leads always toward a life of meaning, gladness, and peace.                                                            —Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Friday, April 25, 2014

Almost Perfect Date

This has been "MY"special movie clip since the moment a family member heard it uttered on the big screen fourteen years ago and called me as soon as the show was over to tell me that I'd been born on the "perfect date".

For years I've referred to it and quoted it every April 25th and very few people have had a clue what I was talking about.

This year, though, I've seen this picture in several places on Facebook and Cami says it's all over Twitter today too.   Finally non-April-25th-ers are starting to discover what the perfect date is as well!

....too bad Ellie didn't get that memo, though!

Poor Ellie developed a high fever and a rash on Tuesday--symptoms which put her neurologist on high alarm about her new anti-seizure medication (Lamotrigine).

We immediately stopped giving her the medication and kept the neurologist updated about how she was doing.  When she didn't improve and the rash continued to spread, on  Thursday afternoon we were told to bring her to the emergency room.    There the doctors determined that her symptoms did NOT fit with the scary things that they were worried about and sent us home after a few hours.

There is still one more minor issue that needs follow-up, but after yet another trip to the pediatrician today,  it was declared that as things stand right now she doesn't need to come back to the doctor's office again until next Friday unless something changes.    Today she still has the fever and the rash, but  she seemed to be feeling just a tad more chipper and I was happy to have her accompany me for a post-doctor visit birthday lunch.

Then after spending the afternoon and evening in very normal fashion, which means hours in the car toting kids all over town, Glen and I went out for a birthday dinner and  came home to this beautiful cake made by Emma and an edible fruit bouquet from  my sisters.  All in all, it was a quiet, albeit busy way to ring in my birthday and I'm thankful to celebrate a new year of life...even if half my family did have to be reminded that today was the day. :)

Now that the perfect date is almost over and my Facebook notification bonanza is about to come to an abrupt end, I will take advantage of an already started blogpost and throw in a few more pictures from Spring Break.

This was a path we found that wound just off the beach in Kiptokeke State Park.

There was not another soul on the trails that day and we enjoyed the quiet, peacefulness we found...

The kids toted their seashells with them throughout the entire walk...

and in general we all just enjoyed the opportunity to be outside...

and enjoy the freshness and togetherness of a cool spring day.  

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!    

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