Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Feet of Christmas Past....

Our Christmas tree is down and tucked away for another year. The decorations that dotted the house are all packed away and things are looking almost back to "normal" around the house. It always feels good to put the familiar things back in their places -- I have missed them while they were away. I realized as I ponder the events of the Christmas 2008 that there were a few things that I never got to. Things like wanting to put these cute Christmas feet on my blog.......
Abigail and Annah loved their toe socks they got a few weeks before Christmas. I bought them mainly because it was a memory of MINE having toes socks on Christmas when I was about their age. :) Turns out they loved theirs as much as I loved mine.

I never finished the gingerbread mansion that girls and I so looked forward to doing.

The girls were so hyped to make the ginger bread mansion. So anxious that instead of waiting for 15 minutes for the frosting to set up to hold the roof in place, they began decorating anyway. As they did the roof couldn't take the weight....

The roof started to slide........


GONE. :(

Nothing would keep the roof in place until Tim got home. He is always full of ideas and it's his job to fix things so he got right to work............

YUP....he fixed it with his DRILL!!!!! Yeah for power tools!!! He drilled small holes and put toothpicks in to anchor the roof in place.... he's a genius!!

And as any good father would, he teaches Jacob the skills of the trade! :)

Okay, the gingerbread mansion was never finished this year because somewhere between its roof repairs and learning that Tim has cancer, I lost my groove for getting it done. It never did see coconut snow, marshmallow snowmen, or ice cream cone tress covered in white frosting and green sprinkles but sometimes there are more important things in life.... and that is okay. We had plenty of laughs over the "ghettobread" house as it affectionately became known as. There is always next year..... :)
So while there are things that I didn't do, there were plenty of things I did do and I regret none of them.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunsets and Gas Prices...

I haven't posted a low gas price in a while because the prices lately had been creeping up instead of dropping. But Saturday was a surprise to find the price dropping again to the lowest we have seen it in quite some time.......

Sunday's sunset was a sight to behold! (You can see the steeple of our ward building in our neighborhood just to the right of the trees in the middle.)

What a beautiful gift to be given at the end of the day.

Blog Emergency....

Okay...can you tell my blog is under renovation?
Yup...who knew? All I tried to do was change my e-mail address and Blogger didn't like that very much.

Long story short? I lost all my side pictures of the family, blogs I follow, everything but the blog posts. In the end that is the most important thing to be saved but the rest of it will take time to restore so please be patient with me.....

I do believe this will be my new motto in life....in addition to the one that says "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Real Men Wear Gowns And Fight Dragons...

I begin with saying that I want any who read my blog to know that my blog is STILL a happy place. I struggled with writing here because although I have declared my blog to a "happy place" sometimes what life offers is not happy. That said, in the midst of unhappy things I have to find happy things. That is my goal -- to find happy spots in the unhappy events of life. So you know, I have not achieved my goal but that doesn't mean I am not trying.
Just a few short weeks ago we were minding our own business in life and tending to the responsibilities of being grown-ups when a dragon stepped out of nowhere and reared its ugly head. In a matter of a day our lives were turned upside-down. What a difference a day makes.
On Wednesday, December 10th Tim noticed that his lymph nodes were quite swollen on the left side of his neck. He discovered it by accident -- just by innocently placing his hand on his jaw he realized that he couldn't feel his jawbone and that his neck was swollen. He was able to get into the doctor that afternoon. The doctor checked him for strep (surely the swelling was from an infection of some sort and THAT would be the reason for the enlarged lymph nodes...) but the rapid strep was negative and so was the overnight culture they did. The next day, Thursday, December 11th they had Tim go in for blood work. On Tuesday, the 16th, they called to say the results of the blood work where normal and sent him in for an MRI of his neck. That is was the first glimpse of the dragon through a very dense fog.

Wednesday, December 17th found us in another doctor's office where we first heard the name of the dragon we had only glimpsed the day before. The dragon's name is Cancer. Cancer of the tongue. How could this be happening? How can someone who has never smoked cigarettes, chewed tobacco or drank alcohol have cancer of the tongue? How can someone who is loved by everyone who meets him have cancer of the tongue? How can my husband and eternal companion and the father of our 6 kids have cancer of the tongue?
The doctor's bedside manner was lousy -- there was no "we want to do further tests to rule out cancer" or "we don't know for sure but you may have cancer". Instead it was, "I am 90% sure you HAVE cancer." I have since learned that statistics say that when a patient hears they have cancer they hear only about 10% of what is said after that word -- cancer. I am here to tell you that statistic is true. I have since forgiven the doctor's horrid bedside manner and understand that it was important to give it bluntly because you *have* to hear them. No one is ever ready to hear those words. When the doctor left the room that day I felt like I couldn't breathe between my sobs. Tim was simply stunned and as much as his head must have been spinning with the news, he held it all in. He still has not come undone about it. I think it is a guy thing -- you've got to be "tough" you know. After all, he's fighting a dragon.

That day in the doctor's office the poking and prodding began with a FNA -- a Fine Needle Aspiration. Tim affectionately called it the "F Needle" and he says "F doesn't stand for FINE"! Six needle sticks into the angry, swollen lymph nodes to tell if the dragon has invaded. Then a scheduled biopsy of the base of the tongue six days later on Tuesday, December 23rd to determine if that is indeed the dragon's lair as suspected.

By 9:00 a.m. on biopsy day we are at the hospital and the hunt begins. The nurses as well as the anesthesiologist find it hard to believe that their 51 year old, non-smoking, non-drinking patient takes no medications and has never before had anesthesia -- this is very unusual. If I tell them I can count on one hand the number of sick days their patient has taken in the last 23 years they will find it even harder to believe. I don't say it though. What difference does all that healthiness make in the face of the cancer dragon? I don't say it but I so want to. I want to say it out loud as if saying it will make the feelings of injustice go away.

My suggestion for Tim's attire to the hospital in case he can leave his under clothing on.... :)

I am not sure why he didn't take my suggestion...

Tim is prepped and taken away and I find my way to the waiting area. I try to keep myself busy with Christmas cards that still have yet to be written. What do I say? Is it considered the height of tackiness to wish a Merry Christmas with a "P.S. Tim has cancer."? Maybe he doesn't have cancer...maybe it's all a mistake...a misdiagnosis. I promise we won't sue over the mental stressed caused by saying he had cancer and finding out he didn't. We would celebrate the mistake instead of punish it. All kinds of things run through my head while I wait to hear he's out of surgery.
Finally he's out and Dr. Comer comes to talk with me. We go into a "consulting room". A more appropriate name for that room would be "consoling room" because that is what I feel we need -- consoling. He matter-of-factly tells me it is just as they thought. All hopes for a misdiagnosis are gone. I am brave while I listen to what he tells me and I look to my notebook where I have listed the questions Tim and I both had. If I didn't write them down I might not remember what to ask. I ask our questions and with each one he says, "That's a good question...." then goes on to answer it. Maybe he tells everyone that but I want to think that we are thinking beyond the typical questions and getting to deeper, more important ones. (Tim will want to know if by cutting into the cancerous tongue will it spread?... just as he asked if sticking a needle into the angry lymph node would let other cancer cells escape through the puncture spot.) It is as though by asking "good questions" we can out smart the dragon. The dragon is not expecting us to be so alert about what is happening so maybe we can get him before he gets us.

Tim is ready to be discharged from the hospital, still groggy and nauseous but wanting to get back home. It is then that Tim, his sense of humor still very much intact even under anesthesia, tells me, "Real men wear gowns" referring to the hospital gown he got twisted up in trying to get dressed in his own clothes. Of course, he makes me laugh even under the weight of the cancer dragon being a reality. When we finally get him in the car it is raining. Somehow it is appropriate that skies are crying for us.
Now we wait....we wait for Tim's throat to heal and he will go back to the doctor on January 6th to learn what the next step will be on the road that leads into the dragon's dungeon. It is there that Tim has to descend if there is any hope for survival. The wait feels long -- too long in so many ways. The dragon is never far from our minds and maybe that is how it needs to be. We are going to battle and we have to prepare.

Preparations begin...mentally and spiritually. Mental preparation is hard as the mind plays tricks and makes us question what is to come and how get through it. How do you keep it together when the weight of the world rests on you with responsibilities piling up? Perhaps it is the unknown that adds to the weight. Spiritual preparation is bitter sweet -- in bitterness I cry out to save us from this dragon but it is in sweetness the angels come. The angels, both seen and unseen. We have seen many of them and only heard about others. Those angels are offering up many prayers in our behalf -- some we know personally but others that we don't know are doing the same. "I was a stranger and ye took me in....." Yes, they have "taken us in" to pray for us even though we are only a friend of a friend or a relative of a friend. The angels have come to wrap their arms around us and have offered their help before we even know what we will need. So yes, there are angels all around us, both seen and unseen. What a sweet gift to cherish in such difficult times.

A Lovely Christmas...

The biggest surprise of Christmas this year was when Jordan brought out a new guitar for his dad from all of the kids (young Tim included) and Tim's brother, Jeff.

The card they gave with it had a note written from each of the kids at home and was enough to cause Tim and I to have leaky eyes. What a thoughtful thing to do -- especially this Christmas when only weeks ago our lives were turn upside-down. And to think that when Jordan planned this our lives were right side up!

Tim needs to play more to build up those callouses on his fingers again! :)

Blizzard being guarded by Emma -- one false move
and he is cat food!

Although the girls say they don't believe in Santa anymore, Santa still left his annual letter to our family. Santa has been leaving letters for us for many years now. We hope for many more....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Thoughts...

"At this sacred season, we reaffirm the reality of the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We testify that He was the only perfect man ever to walk the earth. He 'went about doing good' (Acts 10:38) and beckons to all, 'Come, follow me' (Luke 18:22). "It is His holy influence that stirs mankind to acts of mercy and kindness. He who has 'borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows' (Isa. 53:4) inspires each of us to reach out with love to the poor, the lonely, and the downtrodden.

"May this Christmas season remind us that the Prince of Peace, who stilled the tempest on the Sea of Galilee, has the power to calm the storms in our personal lives. May His peace fill our hearts and homes throughout the coming year as we strive to walk in His ways."
("First Presidency Christmas Message," Liahona, Dec. 2003, 1)

What shall we do with Jesus who is called Christ? Learn of him. Search the scriptures for they are they which testify of him. Ponder the miracle of his life and mission. Try a little more diligently to follow his example and observe his teachings. Bring the Christ back into Christmas."

President Gordon B. Hinckley"What Shall I Do Then with Jesus Which Is Called Christ?", Ensign, Dec. 1983

“Each of us is an innkeeper, who decides if there is room for Jesus.”
Neal A. Maxwell

Merry Christmas! May your day be a beautiful celebration of our Savior's birth.

Merry Movie and Happy Hamsters

Being Christmas Eve day we did what we always do and that is to go to the movies as a family. We have done it for years -- well, the last 8 years or so. Before that we always went roller skating on Christmas Eve day but as we've gotten older we decided that movies were safer than roller skates. At our age we might break a hip! So we've chosen a safer activity and we do movies.

Today we went to see the movie Bolt. It was a fun movie and we all loved the hamster, Rhino. The girls have had a "secret" for about a week now -- they were scheming with their dad that they could get a hamster. They thought that I didn't know and they were keeping it from me. What they didn't know was that I knew the entire time and Tim and I went last week to get the hamster cage and the supplies it needed (thank goodness for the "starter kit" that comes with everything but the hamster -- there are just too many things to chose from down the hamster isle!) So today we had the cage in the back of the van when we went to the movie then we stopped at the pet store, under the guise of getting the cats a Christmas present. :) The girls thought they were surprising me but I really surprised them when they learned that I had known the whole time! So they picked out a hamster (a winter white hamster, in case you know your hamsters!) and his name is Blizzard. I think the girls have my same snow fetish to name their hamster after my winter fantasy!
Annah and Abigail bringing Blizzard home....

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ward Snowball Fight....

On Monday night after our run to the store to gather our goodies for the gingerbread mansion (that is another post!)we had pleasant surprise.....

Our doorbell rang and when we answered we found no one at the door but there was a paper taped to our door and a plate on our doorstep of adorable mice made from Oreos, Hershey kisses, cherries (the stems were their tails), almonds for ears -- oh so cute!!!! The note told us we had to "hit" three other families and we had to leave the note on our door so that others would know that we have already been hit. Are my children the only ones who want to take the note off the door so they might get more goodies on the doorstep? :)

The mice were wonderful and we continued the ward snowball fight. Thanks to whoever started the ward snowball fight! Have I ever told you I love snow?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And Thank You Too....

I was reading Natalie's blog about how her friend nominated her as one of her favorite bloggers. As the recipient of that award Natalie was asked to do the following:
1. List 5 things she loves.
2. Name 5 people who she would like to pass this award on to

3. Give solicited love to the person who gave her the award

I was happily reading Natalie's blog when to my surprise I saw my name listed as one of the people she would like to pass the award on to! Wow -- thank you!

Okay....As the recipient of this award, I have now been asked to do the following:
1. List 5 things I love
2. Name 5 people who I would like to pass this award on to
3. Give solicited love to the person who gave me the award

5 Things I Love.....
I guess I can't list 5 out of my 6 kids, can I? ....I think that would be cheating and it would offend the one I would have to leave out since I could only pick 5 of them! :)

1. My Life..... There are times that I reflect on my life and I am overwhelmed at how lovely my life is because of Tim and our kids. It has been an amazing 23 1/2 years married to my best friend, the person who loves me in spite of me. And the children.....life lessons are continuous with each of them and everyone one of them is life lessons in the making.

2. Snow....anyone who knows me will roll their eyes and think, "Not again!" Yes, I say it often in these winter months. I wish for it all the time and am like a giddy child if and when it does happen! The best part is that sometimes my wishes come true.

3. Springtime....yes, although I am a snow-lover, I am also in love with the spring in all its renewing of life. Spring is so hopeful, full of anticipation. I love to feel the warming of the ground, see plants begin peeking out of the soil and the trees sporting swollen buds that soon leaf out into lush green splendor..... oh, spring is wonderful! By winter's end I am always anxious for a little spring.

4. Snowmen....yes, right up there with snow! The two go hand in hand -- you can't have one with the other!

5. The music of Celtic Women. It is heaven listening to their clear, pure voices. I love their Christmas CD -- I am sure it is what the angels sound like when they sing. :)

5 People Who I would like to Pass this Award on To.....
5. Shay

Now for Natalie..... :)

When I think of Natalie "amazing" comes to my mind. She has amazing insight, amazing strength, and amazing faith. What a pleasure to know her and to love her!

True Grit....

We woke up to the patter of sleet hitting the windows and a thin blanket of white on ground. Just as I had dreamed, school was closed. An added bonus? Tim's work was on a two hour delay.

I love mornings like that where I am free to drift in and out of sleep as I please. It is just that much more pleasant knowing I won't be jolted awake by the realization that we are all late...it is just a smidgen of heaven, I am sure.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Storm Warnings & Klondike Bars

Winter in Kentucky is always interesting. Any anticipation of "bad" weather always includes a run on the grocery store for bread, milk and whatever other "comfort foods" are within reaching distance as they dash through the store. It's quite humorous...if you don't need groceries. :)

Tonight we didn't need groceries (because I went this morning) but we did need all the candy trimmings to make our gingerbread house. If the winter storm really does come in (with sleet, freezing rain and snow) then the kids and I will be home from school tomorrow -- what a perfect day to erect the gingerbread house! We have a kit that we embellish with added goodies -- marshmallow snowmen, coconut for snow, ice cream cone trees, the works. Our kit goes from being the gingerbread slum to gingerbread mansion! So for the end of FHE we headed to the store to purchase our goodies and a FHE treat -- Oreo Klondike bars....yum!

So we are watching and waiting with anticipation for the winter storm, secretly hoping it is bad enough to give us a day off tomorrow....okay, maybe not so secretly hoping. Most anyone who know us know that we are always up for a good WINTER STORM!

*Pictures from our Walmart Supercenter....this is a sampling of the emptying of the shelves that happens with winter weather!

Jacob tried to make a bar code on his hand so he could scan himself....glad it didn't work because it would not be fun to have to pay for him again!

Your Wishes Are Granted....

Okay, after so many requests I have decided to show you my tattoo.....

You all have to keep quiet about this because it is a surprise for Tim for Christmas. I had the tattoo done and yes, the pen was mine. I couldn't say it was mine because it would spoil the surprise. Tim has no clue -- he can't figure out where the pen came from but come Christmas Eve I am going to reveal my tattoo in his honor. I hope he likes it...what do you think?

All appearance of this being a photo- shopped picture are purely coincidental!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snowmen Need Coldness...

This morning I asked Annah why her snowman bouncy ball was in the frig. She happily informed me that it was in there "because a snowman needs coldness". After she said that she thought for a minute and then said, "Actually, I should put him in the freezer." And that is just what she did..... :)

Where DID You Get That Pen????

Today in sacrament meeting Annah was writing with a pen that Tim had given to her. She was quietly writing then read the words on the pen she was using. Turning to her dad with a shrug of her head and shoulders and furrowed eyebrows she asked,
"Dad, WHERE did you get this pen?????"
BWHAHAHAHAAHA!!! I am wondering the same thing, Annah!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Tag..Your Turn...

Christmas Tag
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Giving gifts to those outside our family it’s gift bags but for presents under the tree it’s wrapping paper (and this year I found some beautiful vintage looking paper – I fell in love!)
2. Real tree of artificial?
We did a real tree for many years (about 16!) but then we bought an artificial tree about 7 years ago. I really think that next year we may do a real tree again just for the experience of taking the younger kids who don’t have memories of tree scouting, cutting it down, dragging it to the car, tying it on the roof and driving home! (or of blasting Christmas carols on the radio and have the rope holding the tree on the roof break going 60 m.p.h. down the road and nearly causing the car behind us to wreck..yes, that happened!) :)
3. When do you put up the tree?
It has to up on or before December 1st!
4. When do you take the tree down?
The tree comes down a few days after Christmas. I have this thing that it HAS to down BEFORE the 1st as I like to begin the new year with house all cleaned and the Christmas items put away – it is a MUST! My mom always took hers down ON New Year’s Day but for me it has to down and put away before then.
5. Do you like eggnog?
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it….except for the calories it has! :(
6. Favorite gift received as a child?
The year I got lots of clothes and a camper for my Barbie doll! My best friend was an only child and she had EVERYTHING for her Barbies that you can imagine – cars, pools, boats, houses, a camper, a ski lodge and tons of CLOTHES! I coveted the clothes she had for her doll! One Christmas I got about 10 outfits for my Barbies AND the camper -- I was in heaven!
7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, several of them! I love them! I have one that I leave out all year round to remind our family of the importance of the Savior’s birth.
8. Hardest person to buy for?
I would say the older kids – the have more want than we have money so the money we have to spend on them doesn't go very far.
9. Easiest person to buy for?
Definitely the girls! Abigail and Annah are TOO easy to buy for! I think it’s a girl thing. :)

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Christmas cards, hands down!
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Can’t think of one so whatever it was couldn’t have been THAT bad!

12. Favorite Christmas movie?
I love many holiday themed movies….Home Alone, It’s A Wonderful Life, Elf, and more but my all time favorite has to be Prancer. :) I think it because I identify with the little girl in the movie.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I usually get started just after Thanksgiving and have done the Black Friday thing a time or two but not very often.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
I don’t recall that I have but if it was something that I know someone else would love, I probably would.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
We love pretzels dipped in chocolate (have to make them every year) and also popcorn in white chocolate! Yum….
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
We have colored although some time I would love to have clear lights.
17. Favorite Christmas song?
O Holy Night, Mary Did You Know? and Thankful on Josh Groban's Noel CD. :)
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Stay home…only because our families live to far away. :(
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Sometimes…..just when I think I CAN, I can’t! :) But I never forget the most famous reindeer of all.........
20. Angel on top of the tree or a star?
We have an angel that we have had since our first Christmas together. I would like a star but I can’t bring myself to part with that angle that has graced our tree from the start of our marriage.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
We have the same tradition that my family had and that is that we open ONE present on Christmas Eve then the rest on Christmas morning.
22. Most annoying thing about this year?
No snow yet. :(
23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
If I was doing a tree just for Tim and I would probably do a tree in red and silver.
24. Favorite Christmas dinner?
We usually have a ham for Christmas Eve dinner so that I am not cooking and cleaning up all Christmas Day. The leftovers the next day are fast and easy and I get to play all day just like the kids do!
25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
I want for each of us to understand, just a little bit more, just what an amazing gift the Savior has given to us all.


Abigail and Annah have been busy making little nativity sets out of miniature terracotta pots and saucers with wooden knob heads.

What fun they had painting the pots and picking out fabric they wanted to use! It was such a fun craft for them to do that they even made extra ones to give away.

I love nativity sets....especially these that the girls made. :)



My Snowman Tree....

My snowman tree is up and ready to
greet visitors to our home.....

I have always wanted a "snowman tree" so two years ago I bought a small artificial tree on clearance after Christmas (for a whole $5!) and since then it has been decorated in honor of my snowmen. :)

I don't know why I have such an affection for snowmen. I couldn't even tell you when it began. I guess that snowmen seem to be the epitome of winter and I LOVE winter! Each year I hope that my snowmen will inspire Mother Nature to shower us with white fluff and although that rarely happens here in Kentucky, we have HOPE! Every year our hope is renewed with winter's arrival! Let's wait and see what happens this year. To winter I say, "Come on and stay a while!" :)

Now I have to get the kids busy to make paper snowflakes for the window....just a touch more "inspiration" might be just what Mother Nature needs. :)

The snowman tree stays up well into January....pretty much until all hope for a good snow is gone. Maybe this year I'll keep it up until February... :)