Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursdays Things I Like: #3

Crest Pro-Health CPC Antigingivitis/Antiplaque Oral Rinse. I like this mouthwash so much. It's not only recommended by my dentist but it's also a requirement for my dental care. I like it when things multi-task and boy does this do just that. It Kills Germs, helps prevent plaque, helps prevent gingivitis, keeps teeth cleaner longer, freshens breath, and there is no alcohol so there is no burn.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Aunt Linda!

One of my favorite memories is being told stories about me and my Aunt Linda. Whether it was her painting my toes at sleep-overs when I was just a wee thing or discovering prematurely the smurf sleeping bag she had purchased for my second birthday. Then there was the fact that I always said I was hungry when I was around my Aunt so she would feed me. My Mom finally told me to stop saying I was hungry. (She had just fed me.) So when I walked in and glanced around the room and spotted a bag of pretzels I quickly announced "I like salty things...." (keep in mind I was only 2 or 3...)

Now I am thankful for the adult friendship I share with my Aunt. She is a godly woman who is a wonderful mother and has a very dear, sensitive heart.

Thank you Aunt Linda for being my Aunt & for listening to me. I know I can always be honest with you even if if I'm ugly, real, and raw. I love you!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My sweet Petunia.

Let me state this. I had made a vow to never love people who look like they never had a baby... after they just had a baby. I had to break that with Kristin... I love her and she looks fantastic! I am proud of her! She's a wonderful Mama and a precious friend and sister. And by the way... I love many people who look like they never had a baby after having babies.. I like to be dramatic at times..

Kristin and Madison
Did you see the printed Pamper Diapers... aren't they cute?!

A new Headband for Madison from her Aunt GiGi (AKA: ME!!!)

A very "Christopher expression"

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mondays Memories: Siblings

Siblings... you have them or you don't, either way it shapes your life. Having many or few or none at all. It helps define you... you realize that you're "other". What do I mean by that? I find that kids in the same family are rarely alike. I have four boys. I find that their personalities, likes, dislikes, and character is unique.

I know that Libby having four younger brothers is going to shape the young woman she's going to become. I know the boys will be affected by each other and having an older sister.

I've met people who grew up without sister or brother.

I used to think if you're an only child that would be pretty awesome. I thought it meant you get all the attention. All that you want. You get to pick where you go. Blah, blah, blah. Now I feel for only children. How horrible to find out the world doesn't center around you. What a wake-up call. I'm not judging people who only have one child. Some people can only have one. Some people chose for financial reasons, physical, etc. that it's not the best for their family. Some people feel like they can't handle more, etc.

But if I had a choice for most people it would be to have more than one child. I feel kids are pretty robbed when they have no brother or sister to play with, fight with, learn with. Siblings are amazing teachers of the realities of life. Life can be hard, unfair, frustrating, and wonderful.

Some of my best memories ever were made with my siblings. I did things that I will never forget. My sister and I went and taught English in China together. We played in mud and dirt and in our play house and had "berry wars" and jumped in the rain and played hopscotch.

Our brother was our baby doll. We loved to put him in our baby cradles and rock him. The three of us would play a combination of barbies, legos, GI Joes and transformers with building blocks my dad built and dinosaurs were included.

My Dad would take us on these cool mini trips. We went and watched the shooting stars one night. Telescope in hand, my father would let us pick out any and every junk food item we wanted. We were so shocked. Our Mom was kind of a health nut so the thought of picking candy was overwhelming. Twizzlers, starbursts and reeses cups we would go drive some where very far away (or at least it felt like it being so young) and then we'd pull over and set up. I remember it being a little chilly but it was so special.

My Dad also would take us on these overnights to the beach... We would stay in a hotel. We would go swimming. Eat fast food... and once again junk food. It was there my sister and I watched our first music videos. Country. I had never seen a music video and I had never heard country music. We munched on Twizzlers while watching Shania Twain and Faith Hill.

Our family nights together often included playing games. We loved card games. Uno, skip-bo, rummy royale. My Mom would melt velveeta with rotel and blend with some milk. I can't tell you how many bags of tortilla chips we went through with our cheese dip.

My Mom always told us, "Your siblings are your best friends. You have them for life."

The worst crime we could commit was being unkind to each other. Whether it was calling each other names or just doing something mean if it was towards a sibling then we were in big trouble. I learned you don't call your brother or sister "stupid, dumb, jerk, or idiot".... the punishment was horrible.

We hated when our siblings got punished. If someone was being disciplined with a parent, the other two would be outside crying. If one of us was punished, we were virtually all punished. Our hurts together.

Christmas we frosted cookies and decorated the tree and watched Frosty & Rudolph together. We went sledding when there was snow. We learned to rollerblade together. We played basketball together... and tennis... and swim lessons. We sang in choir... and at home... and in the car. And hours and hours and hours in the pool playing Marco Polo, diving for objects under the water, and of course creating a whirl pool.

Hundreds of hours of Psalty the singing song book, the donut man, and adventures in odyssey.

Yard Sales selling lemonade. Chicken pox, all together. Birthdays. 7-11 Slurpees.

The last time the three of us together was the most painful. Libby was in a casket being prepared to be placed in the ground. My brother and I stood there, tears streaming our cheeks. The grief overwhelming and numbing and feeling like I was going to be sick. No words were spoken. That parting was the severing of a limb in my heart. Something is gone that will be missed the rest of my earthly life.

Our three amigos turned into two.

The musketeers lost their partner.

Our partner in crime was gone.

The pain is so bad.

BUT... one day we will be together again. Not on this side. It won't be until we've crossed into Heaven. One day things will be made right.

I feel so lost without Libby. I've lost my best friend and confidante. There is so much I want to talk to her about. Family matters. Friendships. Marriage. Children. Cancer. Special needs. Dreams. Hopes.

I just want to go and sit with her at Starbucks and vent about life. Take the kids to the park. Laugh about potty training and various mommy trials. She always made me laugh when I was crying.

I don't say this to make you feel guilty... but if you have siblings do what you can to have a good relationship. Ask forgiveness. Reconcile. You never know when you'll have to say good-bye. Don't wait until it's too late. I had the blessing of being in a good place with my sister when she died. But I recognize not everyone has that opportunity. No one understands your life growing up like your brother or sister.

I miss my sister YET in the meantime I'm going to enjoy having my brother. I am thankful as well that God has given me two wonderful sister-in-laws who are truly like sisters and not some added relation. I also have the blessing of being able to teach my children how to love each other and prefer and honor each other. It gives me great joy when I see my children willfully sharing. Samuel hurt himself on something and Ian went quickly and gave Samuel a favored toy. Peter was crying and Samuel brought Peter his favorite toy. I hope and pray that like me and my siblings that they become wonderful, cherished friends.

Resource: BTW- One of my favorite books pertaining to this subject is by Dr. Kevin Leman. The Birth Order Book talks about how the order in which you're birthed helps develop your personality and make-up. A very good read for understanding yourself and others!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Just Do It.

I'm having one of those moments... I'm sure you've had them too. The kind where you're supposed to be doing a particular something. It could be schoolwork, a house project, something work related or simply cleaning your room... but when that is what you're supposed to be doing, you want to do anything else. You find yourself checking your e-mail, or looking at facebook or doing laundry... pretty much anything instead of what you're supposed to be doing. I have cleaned my house before instead of dealing with a dreaded task. The funny thing is once you start that dreaded task you're almost always halfway there.

"Well begun is half done." Aristotle

The guy has a great point. So it's just that. Beginning. Starting.

Project Considerations:

Motivation. Whether it's lack of goal, lack of energy or just plain lack... you need motivation. Put on some fun music. Visualize finishing your accomplishment... or even visualize beginning the project. Set up something relaxing for after you finish. It helps me to think, "When I'm done with this then I will get to...." paint my toes. Take a bath. Enjoy a date out. Spend time with a friend. Etc.

Procrastination. It feels so much easier to put stuff off. Thomas Jefferson said, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” So if it can be done today then DO IT!!!

Discipline. When you start to be disciplined in one area it tends to help you be disciplined in other areas. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true, when you slack off in one area it tends to leak into other areas as well. Eating well. Getting regular exercise. Adequate sleep. They tend to help you be disciplined and stay on track in your other areas of life: work, school, home, etc.


Internal- thoughts, anxiety, restlessness, hunger, thirst

*to combat these internal distractions- write a to-do list or things stressing you that is not to do with what you're supposed to be doing. I try to keep paper near me so I can write things I need to do, calls to make, etc. for later... when I'm done with the project. Clear your mind. Take a brief walk or do some jumping jacks if you're restless or agitated. Eat a small higher protein snack like apple with peanut butter or hummus with veggies and continue. Be sure to be hydrated... so many people are complaining of headaches and tension when they're not drinking enough water.

External- phone calls, text messages, e-mails, children, the weather, knock at the door, needing to use the facilities, etc.

Realistic. This is a biggie for me. I try to be superwoman, supermom, super something... and fail... because I expect myself to be able to accomplish too much, too soon. Make sure you are setting small,measurable, specific goals. Ask yourself would I expect someone else to be able to do all this on their own? Often I find I expect more from myself than I would of another person. Hm, that's weird.

Perfectionism: Also closely linked with realistic expectations or just plain reality. Sometimes if I can't do it the way I want I won't do it all. Don't let yourself hold YOU back. Be content with things not being perfect but being done well... and frankly getting done at all. A Project well done and finished on time is better than the masterpiece that is never finished and never turned in.

Some of my favorite tips and tricks:

*Work on a little bit at a time. Bite size chunks tend to be more manageable. We can all eat our "elephants" one bite at a time.
*Treat yourself to something after accomplishing a major goal.
*Ask a friend to help hold you accountable. A friend of mine noticed she had a habit of eating late at night. She asked a few of her friends if they would help her by asking if she ate after 8.
*Try if you can to be well fed and well rested. It's hard when you're exhausted or hungry to get much done.
*Take a power nap (15-20 min.) and then start.
*Set a timer. Whether it's that you will start your task at a certain time or finish it. I love racing against the clock & also having a signal for starting or finishing. I stock up on the Dollar Tree timers in the kitchen section. When I'm getting ready to leave a fun place with my kids such as the zoo or Chick-fil-A, etc. I set the timer letting them know when they have ten minutes or five minutes before we leave. It also helps them learn how to gage time.
*Take a break. Grab some coffee or hot tea. Walk around and stretch. Make a quick phone call. Enjoy a piece of gum. Then get back to it.
*Start with the hardest part first and work to the easiest. This is one of Libby's favorite things to tell me. "Hardest thing first, Mama!"
*Stimulate your senses. Light a candle especially with something energizing like citrus. Relax afterward with lavender. Even smelling a pure essential oil can help you shake off a drowsy state and become more alert.
*Check your timing. Are you trying to do something too late or too early in the morning. If you can, try to work during your most productive, alert time. I find trying to plan menus or the schedule for the week hard to do when it's late at night.

Now, with all that being said... the person I am writing this for the most is myself. I am trying to spend 3 hours writing. And writing this post has helped me get my creative juices going and flowing. I've been writing as well as reminding myself of what to do when I'm stuck or when I'm trying to avoid what I'm supposed to be doing... like avoiding writing... nothing like writing about avoiding writing, right?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Things I like" Thursdays

#2 Clorox Wipes.

Sanitizing your home is important when you have small children, especially a child with cancer that is more susceptible to infection. I enjoy these for my kitchen and bathrooms and they're wonderful for wiping down plastic toys or plastic books, door knobs and many other items that are nice and germ infested. Yay for disinfecting wipes.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Listening to JJ Heller and enjoying the sound of her voice and the beauty of her lyrics. I wish I could shake this sense of depression that has been hovering. It's weird... we've had all these sunny days but there are clouds hanging over my head. I'm trying to peer past this crazy fog. Maybe I was just going too hard, too strong and not pausing (resting) enough. I get all jazzed up about getting things in order and accomplishing things and I push myself again and again... like a runner training for a marathon... but I don't rest. I go until I get injured, falling on the ground groaning. I'm trying to sprint and I need to train for endurance not short bursts of speed.

That being said, my clothes are all folded and put away. The dishes are all done. The counters are clear. The bed is made. The bathrooms are clean.

Today was the kid's last day of school. I am so excited that they will be home all the time... and I'm nervous too. I had quite the routine going while they were in school. Now we start a whole new schedule... a summer schedule. I know I'm weird. I like to plan. I like to have an idea, a shape of what my day will look like... a brief sketch... it helps me.

And I have all these ideas... big and small of what I'm hoping to accomplish this summer. For me. For my marriage. For my kids. For the house. Etc. I want the kids to have swimming lessons. They were supposed to last year but Samuel was diagnosed with cancer, so there you go. I really want to enjoy and savor this summer. I want to really engage with the kids... and read books and color and go on nature walks and visit the zoo and the State Parks and go to Norfolk Botanical Gardens and soak up the beauty of life and summer and sunshine. One of the small challenges of Samuel's cancer is that he has a CVL (central venous line- med port). This can't get submerged in water. He's not really supposed to get wet. And if he does get a little wet he needs his bandage completely changed. And that's supposed to be done as sterilely as possible, which is why we get it changed at the hospital and don't do it at home. So we will see how it goes being around pools or going to the beach, etc. Will we just skip it? Hmm.

Well, time for bed.

Things I like Thursday.

So I had been thinking recently about posting some of my favorite things (enter Maria from the Sound of Music) just for kicks. I was thinking about calling it Things I Love Thursdays but I felt like "love" can get so overused and I am trying to apply the word love more to people than just things. I often catch myself saying, "Oh I just love ________" (fill in whatever: coffee, chocolate, Weight Watchers, Zumba, writing) and then turning around and telling my kids or husband that I love them. I don't want to cheapen the word...Don't know if that makes sense or not. Hence, things i like...

I remember being teased that I was a walking commercial. When I really like something I tend to get behind it. I tell other people... including strangers. I am not shy about saying things that I like, that work well, are useful, genius, pretty, etc.

So, let's get started. BTW- this isn't being done in order of importance... a greater to lesser or lesser to greater format. It's completely random although I did decide to number it is as I go.

#1 Kleenex.

Who doesn't enjoy tissues... Well, maybe you don't if you have no need for them, but I do. I have lots of little noses to wipe. I savor the soft feel of Kleenex especially if it has added aloe or lotion. Mmmm. So nice. But I must confess something.... it's more than just the tissues... it's the box. I really, really like fun decorated boxes. Whether it's the velvet snowman boxes at Christmastime or little chicks at Easter... and right now, the "summer-ish" boxes that look like watermelon slices or oranges, and other citrus.

I like it when the box matches room themes or colors. I have this fun swirly pattern of blue, gray, and white that matches my bedspread and colors in my room. And although I really like the Kleenex brand of tissues I usually go with whatever's the best price and the cutest box and isn't going to chafe the nose. There I confessed. I do like the biggest bang for my buck but I also try to go for the best overall value.

Things I use tissues for:

-wiping my nose
-wiping my children's noses
-to help cover a cough, a sneeze or anything that an unexpected sneeze produces
-wiping up some weird goop off the floor
-getting the excess glue off a craft project
-removing the extra make-up that was applied to my face because my child ran into me... when I'm applying mascara
-for weddings and funerals and Sundays at church... and any other place that might make me cry
-a package in the diaper bag, a package in my purse, a package to keep on hand for if a friend needs it.
-In the car, I never know what kind of mess I will be cleaning up. What kind of dirty and or sticky little faces I will be wiping. Or where I will find chewy chocolate chip granola bars adhered to the car seat.
-last but not least, for if I run out of toilet paper (this is especially important for if you're NOT at home... like being stuck in a bathroom stall at a grocery store and not realizing that THAT stall did not have toilet paper and you have five children in the bathroom with you and one of them is asking you if you're going to go poo-poo and another is yelling "Yucky" and you just drank a gallon of water and need to go #1 really bad.... hypothetically speaking, of course)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Benefits of being a "cow"

If ever a day goes by where I feel unproductive I should stop & think.... Hey, I made milk today.

I write this because I was feeling lazy & then realized hey, I'm nursing a baby and doing this other thing. I need to give myself a break and not always need to be so dang efficient.

One of my first realizations that I was a Mom was when I went to Barnes and Noble with a friend. We both had recently had our first children. We were walking by a section of books labeled "Nursing" and my first reaction was, "Wow! I can't believe they have that many books on breast feeding!" It took me about ten minutes to realize that it was on medical nursing... but the funny thing was my friend had the same conclusion too. Yeah, we were definitely new Moms...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Embracing Now.

I really should be falling asleep. I have to get up early tomorrow. Samuel is going to clinic and I'm taking Ian and Peter to see Libby receive her award and sing songs.. and I have yet to find the video camera that I just had a few days ago but have managed to misplace between then and now.

I broke some dishes today. No, not on purpose. On accident. And of the dishes I was really excited about because it was a saucer and it matched my tea cup and I couldn't find it and then I found it... yesterday.... and then I broke it today. I was kind of sad and frustrated. It came at a bad time. I was trying to finish feeding the kids lunch and was undoing the dishwasher and when the dishes broke i had to get the kids out of the kitchen because the glass went everywhere and the twins were upset because they were helping me unload the silverware (their favorite "job") and I was making them leave because their feet were bare and they didn't understand and got all whiney and crying and mad.

So I swept up these broken shards and thought of what I was talking to Mike about last night.

I'm afraid to admit something is good because I'm afraid it will get taken away. If my life is going well or I see something good happening I'm afraid that just by saying it's good that I will lose it... or it will be broken... or the shit will hit the fan. It seems like just when I start go get adjusted to my new "normal" something else comes along. I keep waiting with baited breath. I feel wide-eyed and a bit nervy... just expecting the next hard thing to come my way. And that's not how I want to live. I want to enjoy the now. I want to embrace the now.

I tend to get hung up on the past or the future. I analyze my past and compare it with others or how I thought it should be or make myself feel ashamed or guilty for not doing this or not being that. I look ahead to the future with fear and anxiety. How will I handle life when Peter can crawl? How will school be for Samuel this Fall? Am I going to ever potty train the twins? Will the cancer come back after treatment is done? All these things that I don't know and don't have control over. I want to embrace the NOW.

To enjoy the fact that Peter is a good baby and making normal progress. To enjoy that Michael's PT (physical therapy) is being cut back... because he's catching up and is able to do more!!! That Samuel is responding well right now to the chemo and that his pain has been less right now. That I have diapers for right now and diapering works for right now. Eventually these other things will come into play.... and there will be grace for that then. But right now I need the grace for what I face now... not the imaginary and the yet to come. His mercies are new every morning and I need to rest in that. Will His grace be present tomorrow, yes! But I don't have the grace for tomorrow, today.... I will have it tomorrow. Aaaaah. Rest in that. He knew I wouldn't be able to handle the thought 6 years ago of me having five kids and the special needs they have, etc. But today and right now I have the grace to deal with my present reality. A year ago I didn't have the grace to deal with a child with cancer... but today I do. I have the grace for exactly where I'm at!

I don't know what tomorrow, or next month or next year will bring... but I have what I need for THIS day and when the time comes I will have what I need for THAT day. Until then I rest in the grace and mercies that are present in this moment and soak up the joy and gratitude of where I'm at. And if my day is hard I take comfort that this too shall pass.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Peter is a chubby little butterball that is full of delight and smiles. He is the most placid child we have had by far. He loves to chill by playing with his feet and loves making raspberries and stuffing his toes in his mouth. He is sweet and brings great amusement to his four siblings. He is loved by all that seem to encounter him. I am so thankful that God has given us a child that is a little lower maintenance.

I finally feel like I've recovered from strep. Boy did that wipe me out. I had spots and stripes and all sorts of nastiness going on in the back of my throat. The antibiotics have helped clear things up and besides my throat being a little sore and being tired in general I feel I am definitely on the upswing.

Libby has an upcoming awards ceremony at school. In lieu of a kindergarten graduation they are having this ceremony and will sing a few songs. She's been practicing a lot at home, in particular this one song which is a re-make of "new york, new york" but it's about going to the first grade. Libby is getting better at writing and reading and is very good about getting her homework done.

Samuel has been pretty much himself for the most part. Less pain than typical :) One of his favorite things to do is go sleep up on the top bunk with Libby. He gets to hang out up there until it's time for his feed to be set up and then we transfer him back to the bottom bunk. This morning we were reading "Shiver Me Letters, A Pirate's ABC" and as we were cuddling I was rubbing his head and speaking in my best pirate voice and he looked up at me with his eyelashes growing back in and said, "I love you Mama" and my heart just melted again.

Ian has been, well, Ian. He's been saying some pretty funny things lately but of course I've forgotten to write them down. I think i need to hang a mini tape recorder around my neck and just record throughout the day the funny things they do and say. He has somehow once again managed to take apart some major things. Several times recently he has been found on top of the counter reaching into a cabinet pulling out candy. He was unwrapping hershey kisses and proceeding to eat some and also share some with his twin Michael. Oh yeah, they're sharing. He also loves to sneak gum if he can. This morning though was pretty sweet. "Papa, I will get you some juice." He runs to the fridge and brings back a cold bottle of Sunny D for Papa.

Michael has been getting better about communicating. He loves to sit on the potty (nothing happens) and is happy just sitting on the big seat. He likes to wash his hands and he loves anything to do with cords, like wrapping and unwrapping the vacuum cord and checking out our cell phone chargers. He also loves to clean. Give that boy a broom or a clorox wipe and he just goes to town.

Mike and I have been trying to plan this summer and fall. We're trying to work through the rest of the chemo treatments and also figure out how we'll go back to "normal" life whatever that means... We're going to have a major adjustment trying to determine what's next.

Thank you for your prayers, your support and care. Please continue to pray that God gives us wisdom in how to care, serve, and love our family and meet their individual needs.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Samuel in the news.

Local Hyundai dealers stroked a $40,000.00 check to CHKD for cancer research. They had oncology patients put their hand prints all over a car. You can see Samuel doing that here... He made the news :) He was more excited about painting on a car and the backpack, shirt, hat, and water bottle he received.

Saturday, June 04, 2011


I'm lying in bed.. I have strep throat and a fever and I ache everywhere. I had to go to "quick care" at the hospital. The P.A. I had was very nice and had a great bedside manner. He was good at listening and really took in consideration the fact that I'm breast feeding Peter as well as Samuel having cancer and being neutrapenic (low ANC count-susceptible to infection). So I'm home and in bed. Mike was going to take me on an overnight but that has been canceled. I'm disappointed and sad but doing okay. Mike is being very kind and attentive and is taking care of the kids. Not quite what we had in mind for the day.

Life doesn't go as i planned.

I had a great birthday yesterday and was thankful to spend time with my children and my husband, my Grandma and my Mom 2 (mother-in-law) as well as get to see some dear friends. It was a wonderful day. I felt very loved. Thank you for your well-wishes and messages. They meant a lot.

I have to mention of the highlights... My brother Christopher & his wife Kristin gave me an amazing birthday gift. They got me an ipod nano. It's super cute and it's pink. I can't wait to load it with music and listen to it while I work out. It's probably one of the coolest gifts my brother has given me. I was so shocked I almost cried.

I am so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life... my husband, my children, my family, and friends. I really am a very rich person.

Well, I told Mike I would try and sleep as much as possible and somehow I don't think that writing on my blog falls into that category :)

Thursday, June 02, 2011


BTW- an article I wrote for Ungrind was published a back in April. You can read it here.

Peter & Madison

This was from Peter and Madison's first pictures together... over a month ago. Aren't they precious?
So yesterday I took Ian & Peter to the doctors... It turns out Ian has an Infection behind both ears... and his belly button... as well as a separate case of impytigo. Great. Peter is on antibiotics for his cough but also now on a nebulizer because of his wheezing :(

We took the kids to the VA Aquarium today. They added some new exhibits and it was really cool to watch the sea turtles, sharks, and all sorts of various fish. I cracked up at the Lump Fish. The kids loved feeling the rays and were fascinated by the harbor seals. Thank you Miss Baker for the tickets!!!

I better go to sleep... pancakes await me in the morning :)