Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Shop Til They Drop


Sometimes, your mom just wears you right out.
Click to enlarge.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Mom's 4th chemo

Health Update...
Mom had her 4th chemotherapy this week on Thursday. Before treatment, she had an appointment with her oncologist. He gave her a good report that the CA125 is drastically down to just below 100. Quite a decrease since the onset of this cancer. He could feel no masses so all is looking really well!

She has been keeping herself pretty busy, working a bit around the house now. She's is just bored to tears, bless her heart. She's always been an on the go type (maybe that is where I get it from) so being down for 4 months now is really wearing on her. She's been getting ready for our visit, and doing little Christmas projects. Christmas will have a new and special significance this year. Blessings abound. I can't wait until we get there on Thursday night.

Big girly...
Mary Grace will arrive at Mom's a day ahead of us. She is out of school for the holiday break starting after a half day on Tuesday. On Wednesday her dad will drive her up and she'll get to spend the night and have some time with Nana and Papaw. I worry that mom's illness might hit her hard. She'll be 10 in just a few weeks so she's big enough to understand the pain mom is in and the long term possibilities. I've explained the oxygen tank and tubes, as well as about mom loosing her hair. But I'm sure seeing it in person will be startling.

The best part about it all is that we will be TOGETHER. My brother and his family will be there on Friday and we'll celebrate together. I can't wait to see his kiddos... its been waaaaay to long.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Christmas Fun

gingerhouse4 Our playgroup enjoyed our second annual Christmas party last night. We gathered at a local recreation center for a place large enough. Our group has really grown over the last 3 years. With more than 40 families, we are quite the motley crew. They are a wonderful and diverse group of people who I am blessed to know.

The children played games and ran around while they waited for a visit from Santa and as the moms assembled the covered dish dinner. We enjoyed a feast of ham, meatballs, casseroles, veggies, pastas, finger foods and desserts to boot! Once dinner was done, the children played more and each of them built a lovely gingerbread house of graham crackers, icing and candies. They were oh so lovely. You can see Andrew is showing off his house... click to enlarge and see more.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Breakfast and Shopping in Hershey

Today I met up in Hershey, PA with two of my girlfriends I met online while pregnant with Andrew. Sara is from Pittsburgh and I've had the joy of seeing her 4 times now. Twice for weekend gatherings in Philly and Minneapolis, once here in our home while they visited family close by and yesterday in Hershey. I met Melissa for the first time in person yesterday, but I've known her just as long as Sara. Melissa just moved, this past summer, from Colorado to the outskirts of Baltimore. I'm so thankful that she is closer so we can possibly have more meet ups!

This group of gals, about 17 of us, has grown close over the last 3 and a half years, since we all found out we were pregnant and due in October of 2002. They have been such a tremendous support to me in good times and trials. I am so blessed to know each and every one of them.

Sara, Melissa and I met up at Bob Evans for a yummy hot breakfast, then we headed to the Outlets and Hershey. We slowly walked the shops, checking out sales and Christmas goodies searching for ideas for gift giving. There is a wonderful scrapbooking store there called,
Times To Remember. Amazing stuff! I scrapbook and have shopped for things before, but it was my first time to see a store just for scrapbooking. I was blown away! I'll definitely have to go back and spend some serious time checking it out once Abi is older and I can get back to scrapping.

It was a lovely day. The snow just glistened in the sun and we hardly noticed the winter weather with the warmth shared between the three of us.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A tub full of baby

tubfull5Both Andrew and Abi had checkups this week with the doctor. Both are doing super, growing in to healthy and happy children. Abi is out pacing Andrew, however. At 4 months, she weighs 17 lbs, 5 oz. She received 3 shots unfortunately. But she handled them like a champ! The doctor said she is beautiful and perfect. He knows just what to tell a mama! Hehee! Click to enlarge and see more.

At 3 years, Andrew is 30 lbs. He is 28 inches tall. The doctor says he had the healthiest body type... long and lean. He's not worried about Andrew's picky eating habits. He says its normal and just fine. His eating will blossom when he's ready. Andrew was hysterical at the appointment. We'd gotten new sneakers the day before, Converse All-Stars. He made sure the nurse saw his "cool shoes." And when the doctor had been in the room chatting with us a bit, and not started the exam, he said, "hey, you have to check me!" He was ready long before Dr. Luken was. What a ham.

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas

lights1 Over the last week we've been putting up Christmas decorations in our home. Friday night after the kids were in bed, Don put the tree together but we didn't decorate it. We saved that for Saturday to do with the children. In the early morning, when Andrew came down the stairs and saw the tree waiting for him, he told us, "when we are finished decorating it, daddy will get a ladder and put a star on the top!" That is so precious... except WE DIDN'T HAVE A STAR!

Of course we had to have one. After lunch we all loaded up and headed to Target. With some searching, we found the perfect silver star for the top of our tree. Its not too "Las Vegas." No lights or blinkies. Just a simple silver star. When Don placed it on top of the tree, on the ladder of course, with Andrew in his arms they both had the biggest smiles. It was a wonderful moment we will all remember.

Andrew was a huge help with the lights, as you can see. He was excited about every ornament we pulled out of the boxes and announced to the household the name of each one. It was such an enjoyable family day. Click the picture to enlarge and see a few more.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Andrew-ism: King of Reindeer

Tonight, in the car, I was singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer for the children. I remember singing Christmas songs in the car during the holidays when I was growing up. We always sang in the car for that matter... I'll have to post the "Dead Skunk" song sometime. But that's another story. I

Anyway. I want my children to have similar special memories of holidays songs with the family... looking at Christmas lights. All the goodies that go with the season. I was singing Rudolph and Andrew was singing along, but he makes up his own words. After Rudolph I moved on to Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and Andrew stayed with Rudolph but tossed in a little of what I was singing. What resulted was a lyric that went something like, "The king of reindeer will clean you off." Don was driving and just hooted! He had tears of laughter in his eyes. Meanwhile I kept on with Hark...

Each day brings something great from Andrew. A new idea, a ridiculous song, a silly sound. Check back for more Andrew-isms in the future. Some things just beg to be blogged.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Pronunciation: 'tha[ng]k-f&l
Function: adjective
1 : conscious of benefit received
2 : expressive of thanks
3 : well pleased : GLAD
- thank·ful·ness noun

I am thankful for my salvation through what Jesus Christ did on the cross for me.

I am thankful for my husband. I waited a long time to be loved like he loves me. I can't even wrap my brain around what Don feels for me. There are no words for it.

I am thankful for my children. Their health and the incredible way they fulfill my life. That they are what wakes me up in the morning and what end my long and loving days.

I am thankful for my mother. All that she has done for me as a child and woman to show me great happiness. Her strength and love. For the healing that she is receiving and for God's grace in giving her the will to fight her cancer. And for my father, how he provided for us and how he is shouldering all of the weight of running the household right now. He is stronger than I realized.

I am thankful for all of my family, those related by blood and by marriage. For how they love and pray for us and look forward to seeing us as often as they can. And for those in my first marriage, though I don't see them now, they still mean the world to me. And how they love and help care for my precious MG is above and beyond what most people would consider convenient.

I am thankful for my best friend. How she knows me better than I know myself. For her kind and giving spirit. I've never met anyone else like her. What an incredible mother she is to her own children. For what a great role model she is for me.

I am thankful for all of my mommy friends. I would not be the woman I am because of the support network I have with my local playgroup and my online girlfriends.


What I Thought I Wanted
by Sara Groves

Tuxedo in the closet, gold band in a box
Two days from the altar she went and called the whole thing off
What he thought he wanted, what he got instead
Leaves him broken and grateful

I passed understanding a long, long time ago
And the simple home of systems and answers we all know
What I thought I wanted, what I got instead
Leaves me broken and somehow peaceful

I keep wanting you to be fair
But that’s not what you said
I want certain answers to these prayers
But that’s not what you said

When I get to heaven I’m gonna go find Job
I want to ask a few hard questions,
I want to know what he knows
About what it is he wanted and what he got instead
How to be broken and faithful

What I thought I wanted
What I thought I wanted
What I thought I wanted
What I thought I wanted

Staring in the water like Esop's foolish dog
I can’t help but reflect on what it was I almost lost
What it was I wanted, what I got instead
Leaves me broken and grateful

I’m broken and grateful
I want to be broken and grateful
I want to be broken,

I want to be broken,

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Its Snowing!

Its early, and just a little dusting. But it is enough to intrigue Andrew about what winter will bring. We were just peering out the front window and had a long discussion about what snow is and why this snow is not covering the grass. He's so excited for winter to come and bring "wots and wots of snow!"

I've also just been informed that he wants Spiderman snowboots. Now there is an idea for Santa Claus!

On the Road Again

I just spoke to mom. She and Dad are on their way to Birmingham for the 3rd chemotherapy treatment. There was some worry that her blood cell count would not be high enough to get this treatment because it was "fair" last week instead of "good," but the labwork came back just fine yesterday. Mom was concerned that IF she could not have chemo today it would throw her schedule off and she'd end up getting a treatment the day before we fly down for the Christmas/New Years holiday week. She wants to feel well for our visit and having it delayed by one week would have made it iffy. Thankfully that won't be the case for now. While I'd love to be there for her and nurse her back to health, giving Dad a break, I understand her need to do it without the help of 7 children in the house (my brother has 4). Hopefully her next one will go off as scheduled in middle December and she'll be feeling fine for Christmas. We would appreciate your prayers for that!

We are heading down to Alabama on the evening of December 22nd. We'll be there through New Years Day. I can't wait to see my family and share Christmas with my kiddos. Life is so precious. We'll certainly have a great deal to be thankful for this year.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

38 ounces

38ouncesGrowth spurt?
I don't know. But whoa!... we're going to have to take out a loan to feed this chubba wubba! I remember one day Mary Grace took about 40 ounces around this age as we were approaching the time to start cereal. I wasn't eager to start with Abi, but baby cereal is way cheaper than formula!! LOL (OK, H is going to nail me on that!)

I'm so eager to see what Abi weighs. She has her 4m check up next week so we'll see. Of course that means more bad old shots. Ugh, I hate the first year and all the poking. She had a rough go at 2m with the shots. I'm praying it won't be so traumatic this time.

Made By Me

bracelet2A mommy friend of mine, Kristin Martin, has started a new business. Its along the lines of Tupperware or Pampered Chef, where women gather in someone's home and buy things... but in her new and inventive spin, you actually buy your own piece of jewelry that you design and assemble.

I was so very excited when I got the invite for Kristin's inaugural party in her home and even more excited when I arrived to see the fabulous array of supplies she had to choose from. I had decided ahead of time to design and build a mother's bracelet and it was so much fun to choose my bead colors and styles, as well as the sterling accents and toggle closure. I hope to host a party for Kristin after the holidays are over with to spice up the cold weather. I am ready to make another something lovely already!

It was nice to have a bit of ME time, as we stay at home moms refer to it. It was only about 3 hours, but it was time spent doing something for myself with no little ones to keep up with. I am so thankful that my husband is willing to give me a few hours here and there, while he cares for the children, so I don't lose Wendy in the under all of the Mommy and Wife things that must be taken care of. It was nice to see Wendy again. ;)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Basil-Miso Pesto

¼ cups Walnuts 12 oz Spinach, washed & stemmed
½ cups Basil leaves
3 tablespoon Olive oil
2 tablespoon Miso, any variety (we used white)

Toast walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, or on a baking sheet at 350F for 3 minutes. Set aside. Steam spinach until just wilted. When cool enough to handle, remove excess moisture with paper towels or a salad spinner. Blend spinach, walnuts & remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender until the mixture resembles a rough paste. Your Spinach-Miso Pesto is ready. Serve tossed with hot pasta or refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.

The recipe yields enough for about 3 meals of tossed pasta.
"Vegetarian Gourmet" Summer, 1994
Bon appetit!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Mom Stuff

The mom report...
Mom has been feeling pretty well toward the end of this last week, after getting a rough start to it, from her chemo. The aching in her legs is pretty severe for the first week post-chemo, but has started to subside now. She doesn't think her fluid has been building up again, or at least not enough for her to notice it. She has an appointment with the pulmonologist next week to see.

She had a
Bard Port surgically put in last Friday. It will help with the administering of the chemo for future treatments so that they don't have to do the "hunt-for-the-vein game" each time. She has small veins and they were having difficulty. This should be a big help.

Genetic counseling...
My doctor has been such a dear regarding mom's battle with Ovarian cancer and has been researching some things about the heredity. She recommended that mom be tested for two genetic markers,
BRCA1 & BRCA2. If tests positive for them, then my chances of inheriting the probability of Ovarian cancer are greatly increased. Mom talked to her oncology team and they are setting her up for the labwork in December while we are in Alabama for the holidays. When she goes for the labwork, I am going with her and we are seeing a genetic counselor together. I am so humbled by mom's willingness to do this for me and her oncology team for their quick response to her request. It should be an interesting and enlightening day. And if nothing else is fun about it, we'll have a girls day together and we can do lunch!

3 month portraits

Abi and I had a nice day running around the county. After lunchtime we struck out to Ephrata for a baby shower of a past coworker of mine. She is due in just 7 weeks. She looked wonderful and got loads of great gifts! It was nice to see her and her family, as well as my oldportraits1 boss.

After the shower we headed to the mall for portraits at Picture People. Abi is smiling all over herself these days and still has her baby look so I wanted to hurry up and get them made before she turns into a toddler. I move at a snail's pace these days. Click to enlarge and see other shots!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Cooking Co-Op Chronicles

So Monday was the big day. C and I met at E's house to cook our 4 meals for each family. E started the day out by putting one of the meals together in the crock pots early on before we arrived. That was a mexi-chicken chili. Chicken, salsa, northern beans, cheese...yum yum yum!

We got busy around noon and cooked until about 4pm. We made a basil miso pesto sauce with a tomato garlic topping for pasta. A veggie white lasagna and a delicious breakfast casserole.

There were times when all 3 babies were happy and watched us from the pallet, bouncey and swing. Then there were times when we weren't cooking and just feeding hungry bellies. Sometimes we sat and chopped while our babies slumbered in the slings on our chests. We let them set the pace and it worked like a charm. The big kiddos all played very well, up and downstairs, with some minor administrative assistance. Hehee. They were all troopers!

The most amazing news is that after E shopped on Sunday, the total was only about $90... or $30 for each family to have 4 meals. I think that's an amazing deal! We have enough, with leftovers, for the whole week actually. We won't have to cook anything else! Yahoo!

Today the girls are coming here for a playdate. I have 5 loads of clothes washed, dried and ready to fold. We will work on that together over coffee and make plans for next week's menus.

I'm giving this plan an A+... and giving C all the credit for the idea!

My Cheeky Monkey

Abi, intently watching her big brother. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Culinary Confessions

I saw another blogger do this and thought it was cute!

My Culinary Confessions....
1. I've had a George Foreman grill for 5 years and, while I think its a healthy idea, I've only used it probably 3 times.
2. I banished Don's rice steamer when we got together 6 years ago. I hate redundant appliances. That's what a stove is for, silly.
3. I haven't mopped the kitchen since before Abi was born. (gasp, my MIL is reading this)
4. My favorite chocolate chip cookies are Pillsbury Slice N Bakes... over home made even!
5. I cook with bacon fat to season veggies. Sometimes. Less since I moved to PA. But still sometimes.
6. When I first got engaged I rushed out to Sears to buy a small appliance. What did I buy?? An ice cream maker. I've used it twice since 1989.
7. I am a loud cook.
8. I use recipes about twice a year. I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kind of cook.
9. We bought sugar this week. I'd been out of it for about 3 months.
10. I love cold hot dogs out of the package.

The Bridge of Friendship

My dear friend Mel wrote this blurb in her daily journal for our mutual friend, Patricia, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. It made me cry and I just wanted to share the sentiment...

"Cancer that word that is so scary because we don’t know where it will take those affected. We’ve all heard stories that scare us shitless. But more often these days we hear of strength and will, a sheer determination to live. This is where our P is; she has survivor written all over her. No one I know is more mentally capable of handling this. While I don’t worry about the end of the road (much) I do worry about the journey. There will be days where the river to cross seems so wide and fast moving. Other days will be meadow days, flowers, picnics, glasses of wine. Remember P, we’re the flanks of the bridge. And we love to pick flowers and drink wine."

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Seymour.... Sweet Memory

SeymoreA couple weeks back we dug out the infant activity gym (colorful blanket on the floor with dangly things above it) that we had purchased three years ago when Andrew was a newborn. Abi is beginning to notice her world and it was time to start stimulating her during awake times. When we pulled the toys out and put them on, the little seahorse that originally came with the gym was missing. We had always loved that little green seahorse with his pretty song. MG named him Seymour over that first Christmas after Andrew's birth. Don and I even made up a little song with his name over time.

I thought he'd gotten tossed because, by the time Andrew was mobile, he'd taken a shine to Seymour and kept his tail in his mouth all of the time. I remembered the little green guy being stained before finally disappearing during toddlerhood. So I assumed we'd just pitched him since his electronic noise maker was sewn in.

I was mopey about him being gone every time it crossed my mind over the last two weeks . But when I retrieved another bag of infant toys from the attic yesterday, there, in the bottom of the bag, was Seymour. He was mostly brown and icky, but just as happy to see me as I was him.

He sang his song for me, so pretty and just as loud as three years ago. I almost cried. I told Don we should just pitch him, but I couldn't bring myself to do so. Very delicately, I performed surgery on Seymour's striped belly to remove the music maker and pinned it back up so the stuffing would not come out during cleaning. I soaked him in Oxyclean for several hours then Don tossed him into a load of clothes he was washing late last night.

When I awoke this morning and made my way into the kitchen to warm a bottle for Abi, there he was. Don had laid Seymour on the granite kitchen island. He was bright and clean and green once more. Just a while ago, I sewed his music maker back into his striped belly and hung him up on the activity gym.

He's dangling there now. Waiting for Abi to notice him and fall in love. Just like the rest of the family has. I'm so glad to see our little friend. And so happy that he will be a part of Abi's childhood like he was for Andrew.

Autumn On Our Street

I took these today while everyone else was resting. I wish it had been sunny instead of overcast, but the colors are still amazing. Click to enlarge if you like.




Friday, November 04, 2005

Cooking/Cleaning Co-op

I'm so excited!

My good friend, C, cooked up a great idea. Since we already spend so much time together for playdates we are going to put it to good use and start cooking and cleaning for each of our families. We get together with another friend, E, several times a week as it is since none of us have jobs outside the home, so we are planning to make 2 of those days in our homes. The children will still play. We will still have coffee and chat. But while we visit, we can be working.

On one of the days we will do meal plans and some light cleaning or laundry for that day's host. The second day we gather, we'll cook. Because we don't work outside the home, we can move the days around as needed between appointments and obligations as our lives require. We have picked out 4 recipes for this coming Monday. I'm so eager to try this! The kids will play, we will tend to babies and cook. Hopefully when we all go home that afternoon we'll be taking 4 meals home for each of our 3 families.

If it works we hope to share the idea with our playgroup so others can hook up in their own groups of 2-3 and do the same. It will be a benefit to our entire families. The kids get playtime, the moms get mental health time with friends and the daddies get full bellies! Hahaha!

I'll report back after Monday's trial run.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Faces of Abigayle

Sweet Patricia - Calling For Prayers

Me and Patricia in 2004
during a trip to Philadelphia

One of my girlfriends has just been diagnosed with cancer. It seems the walls are falling down around me some days. Arrrgh! I could just swear. My mom, and now one of my strongest and dearest girlfriends has been diagnosed with kidney cancer. She had an ultrasound yesterday because of some pain in her back. It showed a mass so they did a CT. She has a cancerous 8cm tumor in one of her kidneys.

Patricia and I met online when we were pregnant in 2002. She has a 3 year old, Ava, and a 4 year old, Leo. Can you imagine facing cancer treatments with two preschoolers? Mind boggling. I've met her in person twice, spending girls weekends together with other girls who have October '02 babies. She is a tremendous source of strength for me. I only pray I can return the favor to her now.

No prognosis yet, she'll have lots of diagnostics going on over the next week. We would appreciate your prayers!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

2nd chemo treatment today

Mom is in Birmingham today getting her second chemo treatment. She's feeling much better going into this one, 6 weeks post surgery, having had more time to recover. And she knows more what to expect, so I think she's feeling positive about what is to come over the next 5 days or so.

Ahhh... I'm not the only one who had a haircut this week. Mom's hair began coming out this weekend so she had dad shave it off on Monday. She decided she didn't want to deal with waiting for it to come out little by little, or deal with the mess. They went out for bloodwork yesterday and she wore a baseball cap with a sash tied on the side. She said she was styling! Hehee!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Andrew came down the stairs the other day and said, "daddy, cucumber starts wiff Q!" We both smiled and Don said, "sounds like it!" Of course it doesn't, but he's starting to pay attention and we need to encourage his interest in reading.

Today he said, "mom, the number 8 starts wiff A!" Again, it surely sounds like it. So I said, "great, buddy!"

Its a wonder any of us ever learn to read and write the English language, isn't it?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

New Do

You know that itch you get when you want a new hairstyle? It was time I scratched it. I had been letting my hair grow out over the last year. I had it trimmed a couple weeks ago just to keep it healthy but it was a TERRIBLE hair cut. The stylist put too many layers in it and made it look stringy in the back. I was really frustrated so I decided to start looking for a new hairstyle.

I wanted to get something sleek and stylish. I decided on the spur of the moment Friday, while we were at the mall with friends, that it was a good time. Abi slept in the sling on my chest and Andrew played with E and C's kiddos in the play area.

I LOVE it. Don walked out to help me get the children out of the car when we got home and said, "hey! Look at my wife!" He adores it! I'm so glad.


Mom has been getting around a bit more. Yesterday (Saturday)
their church
had a rummage sale and chili cook off. Dad cooked on Friday, making his delectable entry to the competition. So they headed over around 10am for the cook off. Mom said she stayed about 3 hours and did pretty well. Dad won 3rd place!

Today they are going to church again for Sunday school and services. Mom really sounded wonderful on the phone today. She went on Thursday to have her fluid drained again. She was frustrated that it was coming back, but encouraged that it took a bit longer this time. Hopefully Wednesday's chemo coming up will eliminate that from happening again.

She got yet another HUGE blessing this week. A friend of a friend had outgrown some clothing and was planning to get rid of it. Since mom has lost about 5 sizes, nothing she had fit her anymore. So she received heaps of clothing through her friend. She said there must be a hundred belts alone! And just container after container of clothing. God just keeps showing us how he takes good care of her!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I love the weekend!

Chilly Ride...
Last night, Andrew and I went to our church's annual fall hayride and hot dog roast. We had a fun evening. Andrew got to run around in the barn lot with the other young boys. He really enjoyed tagging along, being the youngest. He handled his responsibility of holding the dog's leash very well when it was his turn. They got to see baby goats and chickens as well.

The hot dogs, marshmallows and brownies were delish! The hayride was so much fun. Andrew really enjoyed it. He didn't take his eyes off the tractor pulling us the whole time as we sat toward the front of the wagon at his request. It was quite cold but we were bundled up. He cheered when we began moving and pointed out every little thing he noticed along the way.

Girl time and boy time...
Mary Grace called me this morning to get my brother's (her uncle's) phone number. She wanted to call and talk to her cousin, Lindsay. A little while later she called to ask for his cell phone number. It appears the girls have been scheming! LOL My brother and wife are coming over to MG's area to shop and they are going to drop Lindsay by while they do their thing. MG is 9 and Lindsay is 10. Should be a loud afternoon. Mom said she called her today as well. That girl is getting way to close to being a teenager for my comfort level.

I'll be having some girl time this evening myself. My friend E and I are headed back for another round at Target, then probably either dinner out or dinner back here while we enjoy some chat time. The boys, Don and Andrew, are going to his friend C's house for guy time, which means football. Somebody is playing somebody that makes it worth getting together.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Pumpkin Man

Kissing my little pumpkin
Originally uploaded by
We had a wonderful playgroup party today to celebrate the fall. Lots of the children dressed up in the Halloween get-ups. So cute. We don't celebrate Halloween, but we enjoyed the friends and goodies nonetheless.

Andrew joined in the craft and made (with my help) this little pumpkin. A mommy friend had already put the foam pieces together, gluing each of them to a golf tee. The children were able to choose from lots of colors and shapes of eyes, nose, mouth, ears and hands, expressing their own personalities. It was so much fun! Click on the picture to enlarge it and see others like it!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

2 ballerinas, a race car driver and Sleeping Beauty... and 3 babies!

Originally uploaded by
It was rainy, cold and generally nasty today so we invited some friends over to play. They arrived just before it was time to walk down and get Andrew from school and stayed until after 5pm. It was a fun filled afternoon of smiles, snacks and sillyness. Oh how we do love our friends!

The kids demolished every room in the house while my lovely friends E and C sat with me, scarfing left over baked potatoes from the birthday shindig, tending to babies and heaping upon each other precious friendship. The children played very well today and the babies enjoyed all the aparatus that today's spoiled babies could stand.

It was a sunny day here inside, despite the rain.

World's Largest Whoopie Pie!

My new friend, Margie, from our playgroup went to the Whoopie Pie Festival in Hershey this weekend. I just had to share her blog post because who can miss the world's largest whoopie pie? The Buzzaroni on the Whoopie Pie Festival

Getting out

Going and doing...
Mom has started getting out of the house a little. Last week when they went for a doctor's appointment in Birmingham, they stopped for lunch out on the way home. She felt up to it and had some energy left at the end of what is a fairly long outing. On Sunday she decide to go to church. The original plan was just for the main service, but that morning she decided she would take a stab at Sunday School AND the main service. Hooray! She said she needed a nap once they got settled back at home, but it went pretty well. I'm so glad!

Today she has to swing by the local doctor's office for some labwork. They they are headed over to the wig shop. The wig she ordered came in and the owner will cut it today in the style of mom's hair. And show her how to care for it. Still no sign of hair loss, but the doctor said it usually happens after the second chemo, which is next Wednesday.

Mom has had a couple weeks of easier breathing. But just yesterday, she said she's starting to get winded a bit more. Likely the fluid is beginning to build back up. Its definitely been slower since her chemo, but still a nuisance. She sees the pulmonologist this week and, if need be, will have the fluid drawn off before her chemo treatment next week. We are praying diligently that the next chemo will take care of this recurrent problem.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The holidays are coming!

Ack! Tomorrow is the 25th of October. Two months until Christmas. How did that happen. Wasn't it just summer? Didn't I just have a baby? Its been three months this week since Abi's birth. How does this happen? I think little gnomes come in at night and speed up the clock. There is just no way we can be approaching winter. No way.

Abi. I'm trying to get a jump on things. I've gotten Abi's gifts sewn up. I was perplexed for a while about what to get for her, since we have more baby toys now than we could ever possibly need. Then a friend shared a link with me for a fabulous sale of Angelina Ballerina items. So I decided to go that route... buy now and give it to Abi for Christmas this year... for later. Its not like she'll care right? She's going to be fascinated with lights and bows for a while. Meanwhile she can be playing with the things we already have, and new goodies will be waiting in the wings when she is ready for them.

Andrew. He's pretty easy to shop for. And I'm actually going to a Discovery Toy party tomorrow night. So I'm hoping to get some things for him take care of. Boys are generally easy... things with wheels, things that bounce, a few outfits and its done. I figure we'll focus on Thomas Train stuff this year too. I was talking about that with Grandma last night. He does love Thomas.

Mary Grace. She's a bit harder to shop for. Clothes seem like the obvious choice for an almost 10 year old, but she's going through the awkward time of her pre-adolescence where her body is an awkward shape. So it doesn't pay to buy things ahead... she simply must try them on. She's beyond dolls and barbies. But not ready for teenage things. She loves art goodies, so perhaps we'll focus on that.

Don. He's put in his request already, so I just need to get that goodie before Santa makes his appearance. So. Maybe this Christmas-Shopping-2005 thing is not as daunting a task as it seemed 10 minutes ago when I started tying this post.

Lets get shopping!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The boy has wheels!

Hey, check me out!
Originally uploaded by

Andrew's birthday party was a so much fun! He chose 10 friends to come for a Wiggles birthday bash. Despite our original hopes of having a backyard party, we were driven inside by a 2 day rain fest. But it was cozy (read crampt) and fun (read chaotic). Hehee!

We enjoyed "Anthony's Workshop" where the kids had total run of the dining room as they hammered, cut, squeezed and rolled 12 cans of playdoh until all of it now resembles a psychadelic rainbow. Then they moved on to "Music with Murray" where they had run of the living room coffee table to decorate paper plate shakers filled with beans and rice with a world of colored markers and stickers.

The menu was based on the Wiggles song, "Hot-Potato." We had a Hot-Potato Hot-Potato bar, Cold Spaghetti-Cold-Spaghetti pasta salad and Squased-Banana Squashed-Banana pudding. And cake of course!

Before everyone left, the kids played "Captain Feathersword's Treasure Hunt" where they dug in an old trunk of mine, through packing peanuts, to find treasures such as whistles, markers, happy face tom-toms, candy and semi-precious (plastic) gems. They filled goodie bags to take home. The kids really enjoyed it!

Don was amazing. For a man who barely noticed little people before he had his own, he was enraptured by the children at this party. It was partly his Mr. Checks and Balances personality that made him keep things moving, but mostly his desire for Andrew to have a wonderful day with is friends. I am so proud of my husband, for the daddy that he has become. (swoon)

Of course Andrew enjoyed being the star of the show. So much that when he woke up this morning the first thing out of his mouth was, "I'm going to have another birthday soon." Haha! They are fun days indeed. I'm so glad it was so great for him. It was worth all of the time planning, shopping, prepping, cooking and setting up to see his face, and the faces of his friends full of smiles and wonder.

Friday, October 21, 2005

"I'm free today!"


I can't believe it. My precious baby boy turned 3 years old at 5am this morning. It seems like just yesterday that we brought him into our little world. Praise God for the blessing that he is to this family!

When he got up this morning he yelled from his bed, "Mama! Come wake me up!" Hehee... I asked him whose birthday is today? And he said, "I'm free today!"

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Best day in 2 months!

Wednesday mom had what she describes as her "best day in two months!" I'm so glad to hear that news. She even helped with the sorting and folding of some laundry. Yay! She's not felt like doing anything since late August. I'm so happy!

Today she went to see her oncologist for a follow up to her 1st chemo. He gave her a great report and she doesn't have to see him again. YAY! She'll have her 2nd chemo in two weeks. By then, hopefully she'll have some strength back so she won't be down for so long.

Doing the happy dance today!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Love my two littlest faces


Germ season is here and its hit us quite hard in the last 3 weeks. Andrew came down with a mild cold about two weeks ago. He shared it with daddy. By the first of last week they were both on the mend. Then on Friday, Andrew was particularly crabby and had a short fuse. His cold was back with a vengeance. This time he shared it with me. Finally, I think we are both on the downside of this nastiness. Thankfully Abi has not had this bugaboo. Pray some healthy prayers for us!

Update on Nana

After 4 good days...
Mom had four pretty good days after her chemo. But on Monday she has some tummy troubles. She was a bit frustrated to have made it through the days that are usually the hardest, only to be hit by surprise with the queasies. Tuesday was better. And she got out to the lab to have some bloodwork drawn to check her blood chemistries post-chemo. She has an appointment with the oncologist tomorrow (Thursday) to follow up after her first treatment.

Another blessing...
Some close friends who mom and dad go to church with stopped by on Monday night for a visit. They have been a constant support for my parents during mom's bought with ovarian cancer. They surprised them with a card from the members of the church, which contained a cash gift of $400! It is especially helpful since Dad has not been able to work much in the last two months. Dad is an auctioneer and antique handler. He pretty much drums up his own paycheck depending on what he get refinished in the shop and he's been able to spend very little time out there recently. Again, God just comes through with just what they need. I'm so encouraged!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Busy couple of days

Tag sale...
Whew, I'm beat. We've had a busy couple days around here. Saturday especially. I joined in with about 15 other moms from our playgroup for a combined yard sale on Saturday. We were there setting up before daylight and finished up by 2pm. As usual, despite advertising a start time of 8am, folks showed up before the boxes were unpacked and tables set up to see what we had to offer. It was quite successful, netting over $1000 in sales. Each mom contributed part of their monies to the group to fund an upcoming Christmas event. We are all very much looking forward to that!

The best part?... the exchange of clothing between moms. Several of the gals have toddler girls and a few of us have baby girls. We were jumping on the opportunity to get some deals. I had a good time ribbing one of the new moms in the group who I just love, K., about wanting what each other had. We did actually exchange one outfit. Haha! She found something I'd missed after going through boxes several times and I just adored it. So she said, "let me go through what you picked out and take something, then you can have this one." It was like black Friday! We were laughing and having a great time. Love my mommy friends!

Grown up time...
Don and I had a date last night! My good friend H. watched both Abi and Andrew while we celebrated our 4th anniversary. We dropped them off at 6pm then headed for our dinner reservation at Romano's Macaroni Grill. Oh it was divine spending time with my husband without distraction. We had a very slooooooow dinner, enjoying an appetizer, salad and bread... even drinks and dessert! It was so nice to be served and waited on by someone instead of going to a fast-tracked buffet with kids. We lingered over each course as long as we could. The waitress came back twice before I'd even looked at the entrees. Every bit was delicious, especially the time we shared with each other.

We really need to do that more often. It was hard leaving the kids, especially with Abi not even being 3 months yet, but so good for us. And H.'s 2 girls really enjoyed our kiddos. We hope to pay them back in November, as they celebrate their anniversary, by keeping their girls.

Mary Grace called this morning, excited to tell me about what she has coming up tomorrow. She joined 4-H last school year and has really enjoyed the projects. She recently moved up from the Discovery level to Homesteader. The Homesteaders are going tomorrow to milk a goat. She was SO excited. And they plan to make goat's milk soap from their collection. I can't wait to hear how it goes. I'm sure she'll get a case of the giggles, knowing her. How fun!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

4 Years Ago Today

I married the sweetest man I know.

We wed at
Fellowship Baptist Church
in Mount Joy, PA.

Don's $1 estate
auction suit
I snagged. Still

the best wedding
story we have.

Our beautiful
flower daughter, MG.
She was 5 then.

I love this picture
of my mom.
I have
no idea what
she was doing!

Nana (my mom) and
Grandma (Don's mom)

being radiant

the cake

Thumbs up

Mom had a great night! She went to bed early because the chemo had made her expectedly exhausted. But she's had no nausea at all and has actually had a bit of an appetite. That is such a victory! We were so worried about her being ill and already having little appetite.

She said the whole atmosphere was very relaxing for the treatment. She sat in a comfy recliner the whole time, there were drinks and snacks available and they staff was as sweet as could be. Her nurse told her she was doing wonderfully. She said the others taking treatment were helpful with information and discussing things. Mom admitted that she wasn't so much worried about the proceedure itself, but more the unknowns of what it would be like to get the chemo, then how it would effect her. So far the only side effect other than fatigue is achy muscles, which is also a common side effect.

But all in all, things are going fabulously, 24 hrs later!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

1st Chemo

My mom went for her first chemotherapy treatment today. They started at 9am and it lasted 3 hours. My dad called when they arrived back at home and said that so far things are going well. She had eaten some butter crackers and had a soda on the way home and though she's feeling drowsy from the meds they gave her to relax, she's not been nauseated as of yet. That's positive news.

As the chemo was administered she was in a room with four other women receiving treatments. A sort of support group. The women could talk while they got the meds. I think that's very cool. I'll be interested to hear from mom what she thought about it when we talk tonight.

Mom went to pick out a wig yesterday. She felt pretty strong after having the fluid drawn off on Monday so it was a good day. When they got to the shop, the woman at the counter asked if she was Gayle. Puzzled, she answered yes. They were expecting her... someone had called and said they wanted to anonymously cover the cost of the wig. She was instructed to pick out anything she liked and was not shown to be shown any prices. Isn't that an amazing blessing? Mom said she wanted to cry. God really provides and comforts in the most incredible ways.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Sleepy Head

Andrew is at that stage where he still needs to nap but is getting old enough to go without one some days. We had friends over to play today. He was a very good boy, only a few minor sharing incidents. When they left, it was getting late so I didn't put him down for a nap. I figured we'd just have an early bedtime tonight. A few moments ago he asked me to read a book with him. I instructed him to go get in my chair and I'd come read it once I'd gone to the bathroom. Well in the two minutes it took me to get to him, here's how I found him. I can't believe my baby boy is going to be 3 in just ten short days.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Back at Radiology

Breathing better again...
Mom was at the hospital today for an outpatient procedure. They drew the fluid off from around her lungs for the 3rd time. We are praying that the very first chemo treatment, scheduled in just 2 days, will eliminate this nuisance symptom of her cancer. It really labors her breathing and talking. She's feeling much better this evening, thankfully!

Sometimes you feel other people’s pain worse than your own. We’re armored against our own troubles. We can’t afford to give in to despair. Then you see someone else struggling, and it breaks your… heart. - Sean Steward

Pics from Grandma

We generally visit with Don's parents on Sunday afternoons and last weekend Grandma snapped some pictures that I had to share. Here's Andrew and his Dziadzi (Polish for grandfather) cleaning up the front yard. I mentioned it in a previous post (Male Bonding). They both enjoyed each other quite a lot. Despite the 70 year difference in age, they are both still just boys playing in the yard.

While there, Grandma wanted to see Abi in her bonnet that Aunt Linda, Don's sister, had crocheted before she was born. Unfortunately its been quite warm and Abi has not had a chance to wear it yet. We brought it along so Grandma could take some pictures. Its beautiful on her little round, pink head. What a treasure!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Cows Don't Hop

First rodeo...
There's not much on TV tonight so Don was flipping around the channels for something with animals to watch with Andrew. He came across the Outdoor Life Network and a rodeo was on. Both boys' eyes locked on to the action. I asked Andrew if he would ride a bull. At first he said yes. Then when Don pointed out the danger, Andrew said, "I would ride a cow. They don't spin around, and they don't hop like that." Wise boy.

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one. - Charles Mackay

Workin' with Dad

Tool time...
Don assembled Abi's crib yesterday with help from his assistant, Andrew. He was quite helpful and very patient when it came to "using" the tools. Don let him try each one as the process moved along. The best part is that they had such a great time together. I could hear them discussing each tool and what it did. It was so precious.

When they were done, Don brought the tools downstairs and said, "Now the last thing we do when the job is done is put away the tools." Andrew was not ready for them to be put away and voiced his opinion on the matter so Don decided just to sit with him in the living room and explore them more. Andrew really enjoyed checking each one out... until he dropped the hammer on his toe! Oh no! He cried a bit, but was tough. After that, they put the tools away in the basement together.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

No small bag of meat

Good Eats...
I spoke with my dad tonight and he shared with me a blessing they received today. A couple that they know from auctioning showed up a the door today with bags brimming with food for them. They knew mom, in her battle with cancer, has had a very poor appetite. So they wanted to load up the freezer in case mom had a craving for a certain food, it would be on hand. Dad said there were steaks, honey baked ham, pork loin, ground beef, chicken and much more. As well as ice cream! The outpouring for my mom has been overwhelming. Meals, cards and now groceries are showing up. God is SO GOOD!

Grand Opening...
My dear friend E. and I went out to
Target this afternoon. It was the grand opening. We had a girls evening out with our infants... her little man is 11 days older than Abi. We strolled around Target for almost 2 hours checking out the new store. It was so lovely. I just adore Target. I was good though, I spent less than $5 and that was on some training underwear for Andrew with Thomas the Tank Engine on them. I was hoping for Bob the Builder, but they didn't have his size. We are trying to convince Andrew that its time to potty train, but so far he's not been enthused. Don had a nice long chat with Andrew before bed tonight about the undies and he's very excited to give it a go in the morning. Ooooh, I hope he can do it!

After Target, E. and I went to Applebees for dinner. We laughed at ourselves juggling two babies at dinner out. And we both admitted we'd never have even attempted that with our first or second children. Something about the third one puts you at ease. Like I've said to her on several occasions, they can either fuss or sleep at home or fuss or sleep on the go. Dinner was so-so. They were way to busy for any of the kitchen staff to have been paying much attention. Dessert was delish though...
Maple Butter Blondie YUM!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Out of breath

Dashing to the phone...
I called my parents to check on mom and dad answered out of breath. He says to me (this is shocking)... "I was just downstairs ironing and ran up the steps to get the phone so your mom wouldn't get up."

I'm not shocked that he ran up the stairs. But its shocking to hear him say he is ironing! Then he tells me that he spent yesterday cleaning the house. I joked and said, "when you're done, you can come clean mine." He replied, "oh its never done, I just had worked in the yard mowing the day before so I had to catch up." Hello. My dad just realized that housework is never done. How cool is that?

I'm so proud of him! He's really taking great care of my mom and keeping things up around the place.

Silent gratitude isn't very much use to anyone.
- Gertrude Stein