Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Well, Lillee liked Isabel's hair, too. Or she noticed all the attention Isabel received from having her hair cut. She begged for "hair like Isabel's, but not yellow." She even woke this morning to tell us of the dream she had last night where she had hair like Isabel's.

She asked for hair like Isabel's yet again this afternoon and Al broke down. "Go get your socks and shoes on," he said. So here's the finished product, complete with painted nails.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Goldie Locks

We have our very own little Goldie Locks. Her name is Isabel and she's 3 years old. She has the most gorgeous blond hair; it's silky with amazing low-lights and's what grown women pay fortunes to achieve.
Here is Al blow drying her hair (enlarge this picture for real detail)

However, with her hair being this long, she always seems to look like the picture below, not the pictures above.

There's always food and who knows what else in her hair which makes it impossible to brush. I keep telling my husband she needs it cut and he insists she just needs more conditioner. Isabel screams anytime you come near her with a brush, but my husband refuses to allow me to cut it. It took him 4 years for him to allow me to take Lillee to get her hair trimmed. I tried trimming it at home once and he did not speak to me for 2 full days so I knew this was a serious subject for him and not worth pushing. I figure I have one more full year of begging before we'll see a change in Bel's hair.

Al took Bel out for her dental appt today and turns out the dental office had no power. So they rescheduled the appointment and went for another date....this time she didn't get her nails done, she got her hair done :) See below:

Yes folks, I nearly fell over when she walked in the door. Al never discussed this with me, he did not call me on the way home to prepare me, he just stood there staring at me as I grasped for words...none came. I literally stood there unable to speak. Not sure whether I loved it or hated it because I did not have a chance to prepare for it. I came around after a minute or so and LOVE her new do! And I really look forward to no screaming while brushing and not having to wash it constantly just to keep her from looking the part of a rag-a-muffin.

Monday, February 23, 2009


There's this tagging event going on in my blogosphere so I'm jumping on the bandwagon. Mostly because I was curious to see what photo was in the specified spot so here are the rules:

1. go to your photo file, count the 6th file
2. find the 6th picture within the 6th file
3. describe it, then tag 6 friends

This is my Lillee Bean at 8 days old. She weighed a whopping 4.5lbs when this picture was taken. She was so tiny and slept like this all the time. She was the quietest baby...hmmmm, now she's the most talkative child, she must have been saving up LOL
I'm not very good at tagging people as I don't want others to feel they have to participate. But if you decide you want to and you wish to share your photo, leave a comment so I can go check out your 6X6X6.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Maple Festival

We attended a Maple Festival today and it was very informative and tasty!

We were able to see maple trees that have been tapped with buckets hanging from them to collect the sap.

We were able to taste the sap right from the's basically water with a very slight hint of sweetness. A sugar maple tree produces sap with water content of 97% and 3% sugar. The sap from a silver maple, the type of maple tree you see lining the streets, are 0.5% sugar and 99.5% water. There is also a red maple that is 2.5% sugar but they're rarely tapped for making syrup as you would need much more sap to compensate for the 0.5% less sugar of a sugar maple tree.

We then watched as the tree sap was being boiled down to remove the water...this takes several days.

Here you can see the sap getting thicker. Ever wonder why pure maple syrup is so expensive to purchase? It takes 35 gallons of tree sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.
They were kind enough to make pancakes for sampling the maple syrup. This was the kids' favorite part, of course. The girls kept returning to the syrup table to get little cup of syrup, they weren't using the pancakes for tasting they were drinking straight from the cup. The volunteers serving the syrup finally caught on after 3 or 4 rounds and fortunately started denying them.

Bel's Big Date, Part 2

Well, inquiring minds wanted to know where Al and Isabel went on the big date. I was excited when Isabel came running through the door screaming, "LOOK!, Mommy Look!" She held out her hands and showed me her manicure!

Al took her for a ice cream and to get her nails sweet was that?!?!
I'm not girly, at all...I never paint my own nails so I don't think to paint the girls' nails. How thoughtful of Daddy!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Great Backyard Bird Count

This year the kids participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count. The first step was to provide a place for the birds to come to. Considering it's cold outside and we can't plant inviting flowers we made bird feeders from pinecones, peanut butter and birdseeds.

Slather on some peanut butter, directly to the pine cone.

Roll in bird seed

And viola, a birdfeeder.

I was surprised how quickly the kids tired of this activity so we headed outside with 5 rolled pinecones to hang from the tree. I strung them up while Connor ran around the yard snapping pictures.

Here is a great shot that Connor snagged of Lillee...he's not too bad behind the lens.

Since it was so cold and windy we waited inside and watched out the window.

We waited for the birds to come....

And we waited....

And we waited....

For 2 full days, not a single bird. But we fed a couple of lucky squirrels and those rascals ripped our pinecones right off the tree. So now we have 5 strings blowing in the wind and still not a single bird to be seen. We had nothing to report to the Great Backyard Bird Count, but we tried.

Bel's Big Date

Poor Isabel always get left behind. She's by far the hardest to take places...she can't buckle her own car seat like the older kids, she melts down quicker than the older kids, she squeals at the highest pitch you've ever heard and she's in between being potty trained so you never know when she's going to ask to go potty and I hate to say, "Just use your diaper!"
Since we have 4 kids now, it's important for Al and I to take at least one kid any time we leave the house. We almost always want to take Connor. Chase is easy to take if it's not too cold out. Lillee is difficult, but usually not as difficult as Bel. So Bel is at home more than anyone else in our house.
Jane and I were headed to the grocery this morning and I decided to take Lillee - Bel, of course, asked to go. Al promised to take Bel on a date tonight instead of going to the grocery with me. She was ecstatic! All day she's talked about her date with Daddy. So when Al came home from work today he got a shower and got all cleaned up and Isabel wanted to do the same. So she hopped in the shower and scrubbed up. As I was getting her out of the shower and drying her off she was telling me how her baby (her water babies doll) wanted to go and I needed dry her baby, too. As Isabel put on her dress and boots she stated that her baby had no clothes and boots to wear on her date with Daddy.
I dried her hair (it is COLD outside) and she kept talking about her date with is a special evening for Bel and she feels so important going on a date with Daddy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Calling for your help!

My previous post introduced Katie and now I need to introduce Katie's friend, Samantha.

Katie had a treatment buddy named Samantha. Katie and Samantha became friends through treatment but enjoyed tea parties and playdates with one another. Samantha has the same tumors that Katie had.

Here are the girls enjoying a playdate together
L to R - Gigi (Katie's younger sister), Katie, Kristy and Samantha

Samantha's father gave us a brief history of Sammie's battle with her disease.

Sammie was first diagnosed at six months old with a very aggressive Ependymoma, a very rare and deadly form of brain tumor. To her and our great fortune, and to the utter astonishment of her Nuerosurgery team, they achieved a full resection of the massive tumor when they operated.

As a precaution, surgery was followed up with six months of a very dangerous form of High-Dose Chemotherapy, which she completed successfully. It left her with profound hearing loss. She spent the next two years rehabilitating. She learned to walk, developed gross and fine motor skills far beyond the doctors predictions of her ability to recover, regained her ability to swallow, etc...

Ependymoma tumors have a "non-existent beyond five year" survival rate among children afflicted, especially when diagnosed before one year old. In all known cases the tumor returns within 9 months to three years after total resection had been achieved in surgery. Therefore, it was thought that if she survived three years past her last dose of the chemotherapy, she may have a realistic chance to survive long term. Tragedy struck again when the tumor returned on the last MRI she had to have to achieve that three year milestone.

She immediately had surgery in Jan. '06 just a few days after it was found. The surgeon was able to only remove about 70%, as it was growing like a mushroom right out her her brain stem this time instead of along side of it. She was given chemo again for one month as a precursor to proton radiation therapy.

Radiation is the most preferred treatment for brain tumors; chemotherapy has a difficult time penetrating the blood/brain barrier. The first go-around she was determined to be too young to radiate.

She received 10 weeks of daily radiation treatments at Boston General Hospital, who's facility is a world leader for this type of treatment. Upon completion we returned home on the first of June '06. That summer was spent monitoring the tumor with a variety of imaging machines. In Sept. '06 the tumor once again spread tremendously and her Nuero/Oncology team made the very difficult decision to release her to Hospice care and told us to prepare for the end.

Our only option for treatment was in the investigative drug therapy realm. We were given two chemo studies that she qualified for. Neither were chosen because of the devastating physical effects that she would suffer along with the very high risk that they could cause death and held very little hope of success.

A third option was for her to participate in a dosage determining phase of a new type of ERBII inhibitor designed to block the proteins that feed tumor cells. This drug had limited temporary positive results in lab mice which qualified it for human trials. It came from new medical theory from Genome studies. The doctors said that, at best, it would be a way for her to contribute to the dosage tolerance determination the studies phase was in, and there were no known side effects. We agreed to try it, but were cautioned not to expect any positive effects. They said it was just a shot in the dark because no-one as yet in the two years of trials had shown a benefit.

Within 60 days, her tumor had miraculously shrunk in half. After another sixty days it reduced again by half. It has remained stable for over one year now at this size. We have hope that it continues to keep the tumor in check. As always, our faith in God and the continued prayers from so many keep us aloft.

Thank you all so much for honoring Samantha with your efforts. We pray that your good work helps others in many ways, great and small. It is the earthly manifestation of good that God promises to bring from suffering.

As Samantha continues her treatment she has recently had some complications and has struggled to stay in a particular study. For those of you unfamiliar with cancer treatment, when all approved treatments are not working you may qualify for experimental treatments but because you are part of a "study" you have to fit a particular slot based on many factors - age, diagnosis, previous treatments, current tumor stage and the list can go on and on. Samantha has just recently developed a lung infection that threatened her chances of continuing treatment but she was able to continue in the study.

Samantha's mother is working full-time to support the family as well as trying to take care of 5 children, her father is trying to start a business and has had some set-backs recently so the family is just struggling recently.

Samantha and her family could really use some love notes with words of hope, faith, love, and inspiration. Please take a few minutes and pick a person from your family to write a note, share your testimony, a story that might be uplifting, an encouraging poem, the lyrics to an inspirational song, your favorite uplifting scripture, ANYTHING to help Samantha and her family through this difficult time. They continue to fight, but some days are harder than others.

I'm calling on my friends and family for some "Chicken Soup For Samantha & Family's Soul." Please email your contribution to

Relay For Life Quilts

Do you all remember my dear friend Kristy and her precious daughter Katie? Katie lost her battle with brain tumors 1.5 years ago at the tender age of 3 years old. Two years ago I started a Relay For Life team on behalf of Katie and we had great success. This past year, Kristy co-captained the team and really brought amazing energy with her. She put together a quilt project where the team members could sell quilt squares for donations to Relay For Life and then she had the quilts put together with volunteers. We ended up with 12 quilts! Look at these beauitful creations!

Today, my children and I get to deliver these wonderful donations to Children's Hospital in DC to be distributed to children diagnosed with cancer. What a blessing it is for my children to see the beauty of love through service to others and to be able to deliver such love to those who might need some comfort today.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I'm so excited!

I received a sewing machine for Christmas so I've been trying to learn the fine art of sewing. My mother works in upholstery furniture and has access to some really lovely fabrics and has snagged me a few short ends to practice sewing with different textures. She brought me this beautiful striped silk that I've been wanting to make something with but could not figure out what to use it for.

Two days ago, Lillee said she wanted a hat like Pig's chef hat in Word World. So I found a pattern and started sewing. Normally when I have an idea to make something for the kids or other family members I never get around to making one for me. When I learned to crochet, I made scarfs for everyone....but me. When I learned to knit, I made hats for everyone....but me. This time I started with one for me and then I'll make them for the kids :)

So here is my lovely creation!!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine Bookmarks

I forgot to add the craft from our Valentine party. I found this idea in the February issue of Family Fun magazine...of course I had it on hand since my sister-in-law is featured in this particular issue. Maybe I've mentioned that before :)

We made bookmarks out of calendar headings and some pretty simple scrapbook items or in my cvase, school supplies as I don't actually have any scrapbook supplies.

It is sort of hard to see, but this one says, "Let's Make A Date!"
I gave this one to Al *wink*

Isabel made this lovely bookmark with some of Aunt Emily's vellum sheets

Here is Lillee's bookmark for Daddy. It says, "You make my day!"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine Party

We had a Valentine party on Thursday! We spent the day making treats, preparing a fun craft and of course cleaning house.

Here are some photos, thanks to my photography crew (aka Connor):

making candy treats

finished treats - mini pretzels, hershey kisses & conversational hearts

My kitchen staff

Isabel hard at work on the sugar cookies

Lillee's turn to help with the cookies

This was Chase's contribution and boy was he helpful!!!

Isabel giving a taste test to all our treats....mmmmm, cookie dough!
The finished product!
One photo you won't see here is the one Connor took of my backside. Last time he was doing food blog documentary photos for me he took a picture of my backside and laughed hysterically about it. This time I had no idea he had taken it until I unloaded the pictures...then I laughed hysterically. Then I became sad to see how big it's gotten...I want to get rid of all this extra baby weight!!!!! Hmmm maybe making all these cookies and candies isn't helping.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Cake

Each year I try to make a special cake for each of the kids on their birthday. Last year Isabel wanted Elmo and I made an adorable Elmo cake!

This year all Isabel could talk about was wanting a pony cake. She loves to play with My Little Pony toys so I had her choose her favorite My Little Pony and made a cake to resemble it. Here are some pictures from her Pony Cake presentation.