Friday, November 12, 2010

Fall in Full Swing

Fall is finally here in Arizona!  It has been an unseasonably hot fall and we are grateful for cooler weather. 

With our fall has come lots of fun activities:

Halloween:  We had one Navy Seal

 And one Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz
LaCrosse is providing good exercise (Caleb is the one in the Red Helmet):

Emma is trying synchronized swimming and is busy doing project after project and riding her bike:

We have been having fun with Scouts, Activity Days, school, piano, sports, and not having fun with homework.

We are excited for the holidays coming up.  We love Thanksgiving and Christmas around this house!  Caleb is making the Pumpkin Pies for Thanksgiving dinner again this year and we are looking forward to time as a family.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sending out all calls to voters!!!!!!

This is for NO political party.  This is for MY SISTER!!!!  She just had a mastectomy yesterday for breast cancer.  They made this video for a contest for early dectection of breast cancer.  So, anyone who votes for her would be greatly appreciated.  I adore her and miss her and worry about her!  She is amazing!


Playing Catch-up!!!

I have had numerous people comment that they are worried because I haven't posted in -ack- five months!!!  Where has the time gone?

THIS time, no news has been GOOD news.  That is my excuse for not posting.

Last May, just as school got out, I was starting to feel better and while, I didn't have much energy, what I had was NOT spent on the computer.  In fact, that is one reason I have not blogged -- I am rarely on the computer these days.  I have tooo much to do.  SUCH a nice feeling!

So......our summer was spent with swim team:
Friends, family and family fun:
We all did a little travelling:
Rick and I even did some camping and hiking:  sadly, I don't have pictures to prove I did this.  :)  I forgot to bring the camera to Girl's Camp, but I promise I DID go and I DID hike.  I have witnesses of what a sloppy sweaty mess I was -- but I was there.  :)  And, I have been asked to go next year.  I have until Memorial Day weekend to try to be in better shape to do the hike next year.  whew!  It really was the hardest physical thing I think I have ever done, but I did it and I can do it again!

Rick loved his High Adventure!!!!  They went up into the High Uintas hiking (and fishing).  He was in heaven -- cool crisp weather, big blue skies over high rocky mountains, roughing it. 

We had less than a week after Girl's Camp to get ready for school.  I thought at that point that I would have so much extra time for:  blogging, sewing, crafts, friends, Family History, reading.   I am laughing while I right this.  Where do the hours in the day go?????  I am still baffled by this. 

September came rushing through soon after school started, which means birthday time at our house.  And this year was another big birthday year!

Emma's birthday was a fun day. The night before, she had gone out to dinner and had a pedi/mani with Grandma and then spent the night at Grandma's house.  So, she started her birthday spoiled rotten and it didn't stop there.  She got a new bike for her birthday and is still adjusting to the hand brakes.  She also got a new dress and a few other baubles (like sunglasses from Caleb).


Two days before Caleb's birthday we had had a party for him and a bunch of friends (this is one reason Emma got to spend the night with Grandma).  It was a Nerf gun Capture the Flag party.  They played, ate, played, ate, opened presents, played video games, then back to Nerf wars.  It was loud and crazy and a lot of fun!

Then came Caleb's big day.  For three years now, he has known his 12th birthday would be on a Sunday.  So he has been asking for 3 years if he could be ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood on the same day.  What a thing to ask for!  Our Bishop was happy to fulfill that wish.  :)  Caleb was so happy that day.  He got up early that morning and went to a Stake Priesthood Meeting with Rick and when he came walking out of his bedroom in his new suit, he looked very big and tall and handsome.  I did NOT give him permission to grow up so fast.  I am happy that he is happy about receiving the Priesthood.  We are so blessed!  And he is so loved -- we are blessed in that, too.  It was beautiful to see his Dad place his hands on his head, to have uncles there to help whom he looks up to and adores, to feel the Spirit as it came to rest upon Caleb in his new responsibilities. 

I wish everyone had been there to watch him walk up to the stand when the Bishop called him up.  He was adjusting his collar and tie and trying to look so grown up and tall!  I wish every Primary teacher who ever despaired of him EVER being reverent could see him pass the sacrament.  He takes it so seriously and looks forward to it every week.  He does a fine job!
Because Rick is so tall, you can't REALLY see how much Caleb has grown until you see him by my Mom and by me:
So, now that I am caught up, I will try to do better at keeping up. 

I think most people know by now, but I am not showing any cancerous "activity" at this moment on tests.  It is the first time in 9 years!!!!!  The masses in my abdomen are still showing up, though they are much much smaller, but they are just "junk" now that needs to be gotten rid of.  So, I am still doing a low-dose chemo treatment every 3-4 weeks and am also working with another doctor who has run more tests and is getting down to the root of why I got cancer in the first place and how I can prevent getting it again (we hope, we hope, we hope).  He is doing a bunch of stuff with my hormones, after testing me and seeing that I am not make even trace amounts of progesterone, way way way way way (his words) too much of one of the estrogens and not any cortisol.  I am starting to take bio-identical hormones and I am starting to have more energy every day.  I am very hopeful!

My prayers and thoughts have been with my sister Rebecca who just had surgery yesterday for breast cancer.  They caught it early, she loves her Dr. and I have been inspired by her attitude and her bravery!  I am grateful my wonderful sister Deborah is now only 10 minutes from her!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Still Hopping Along -- for a while longer

I finally had my counts high enough to start chemo again 2 weeks ago.  After the first round of chemo, my counts went down below 4 again; but not so bad that it stopped the Dr. from doing chemo again this week.  So.... we'll see what happens when I get my blood test this week.  Hopefully, they haven't fallen any more. 

I was on a temporary high this week after seeing a show where it looked like a guy had a total hip disarticulation (like me) and had a prothestic that allowed him to ride a bike, run, and walk almost normally.  He was an avid biker and had a very active life-style.  I was so excited!  I had been told two years ago that most people in my situation reject/refuse prothestics, if they even try them, because they are terrible.  There isn't enough hip muscle left and no joint to move a prothestic comfortably and it is hard to sit, get onto and off the floor, walk, go up stairs, etc.  Most people in my situation just do what I do:  crutches, wheelchairs, walkers.  After seeing this, though, I was so excited!  Well, I was wrong -- after watching the show again, I saw that his amputation was just above the knee and he had enough of a stump for the whole works.  And, after doing a little more research and talking to some drs., I heard the same thing I heard 2 years ago.  I was sitting at my desk, when I hung up for the last time and started to cry.  It was a pretty rough moment.  I know I am allowed to be sad and mourn over this;  it just doesn't solve anything. 

While I was trying to get myself together so I wouldn't worry Caleb and Emma, I looked up over my desk to the above picture.  It is one of my favorites.  We have it in a beautiful frame and it has come to mean a lot to me.  As I looked at it I had such comfort!  Because of the Savior, I will not go through eternity with crutches, wheelchairs or walkers.  When I am resurrected, I will step out with two legs and it will be such a happy moment, I am sure I will laugh and dance and sing.  At that moment I was grateful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost to comfort and remind me of my Savior and what He has done for me.

So, for anyone that thinks I don't have moments of self-pity, I do!  I am truly grateful to be alive and to be blessed in so many many ways each day!  At the same time, there is so much I want to do and I wonder how to accomplish it.  I truly believe the Lord will not ask anything of me, "save he shall prepare a way" for me to accomplish it (like being asked to go on the 4th year hike for Girls Camp? -- that will be interesting). 

Excited for glad to have my kids home!  It has been a nice few days!  I am afraid summer will fly by too quickly and then school will start again. I thought I loved the toddler stages the best, but the older my kids get, the more I find to love in each stage.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Whoo hoo!!!

Definitely happy today!  My counts are officially above 3 -- Barely.  They are at 3.1.  But, hey, it is over 3.  So... not good enough for the dr. to start chemo again this week, but good enough I can take my mask off (at home), good enough to hold the puppy, and sooooo glad to be able to sleep without it!!!!!!  When I picked Dobby up for the first time (in over a month) he wagged so hard he almost fell out of my arms.  What kept him in was that he was trying to lick me all over my face (I really really hate being licked, but I could relate to his feeling of joy).  Isn't it nice that dogs are so forgiving?   Emma is back to being a little more open with me.  She really felt like the mask was a barrier to her Mommy, poor thing.  She told me today, that she really hated it.  She never told me that when I was wearing it, but I could tell.  Isn't it great that kids are so forgiving?  What great lessons we can learn from both -- kids and dogs.

So.....Church on Sunday?  It's looking good!  Can't wait!  So excited! 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Getting ready to hold up a bank

Okay, well, I am still on "house arrest", as my white blood cell count has STILL not gotten over 3.0.  And, at first, it was absolutely marvelous to have an excuse to not have treatments.  I thought it would be a week or so and back to the schedule we would go.  I am at three weeks now of looking like I am going to rob a bank.  At first, it was just annoying......who wants to wake up to their own morning breath?  A little inconvenient to wear the dumb mask.  I have to admit, now, I am seriously having a bad attitude!  Here is me on my birthday-- at least the mask helps to hide some of the wrinkles of turning 40.  Except, I am actually proud to be 40.  And the gray hair I am now sporting????  Well, at least there is still some hair there.  If you look really closely, you will see how thin it is......By June I may need a wig at the rate it is falling out.  Nice to not have to fix my hair, but a wig in AZ in the summer, doesn't sound super appealing.

So, here is where my bad attitude took me.  On Monday, I found out that my WBC count was finally over 2, so on Tuesday, we took the kids down to go through the Gila Valley Temple Open House.  They both had coughs, so I made them wear a mask, too, while we were in the car.  But, I guess they are effective.  I haven't gotten a cough at all -- which could have been scary.  I took off the mask for the picture here -- I just couldn't stand taking a picture in front of the temple with a mask on.

Am I sorry?  Not a speck!  It was a wonderful experience for all of us.  When we got to the end, Emma said, "I don't EVER want to leave!"  Caleb is getting anxious to go to the temple to do baptisms -- just a few months away. 

I am the biggest boob ever -- I couln't stop crying.  I am truly grateful for temples.  I don't like to think about not living until old age (they said I wouldn't make it 5 years and look -- we are at 9), but to know that the bonds I have with my family will not end with this life is my biggest comfort. 

So, enjoy seeing the picture of me enjoying my rebelliousness.  Other than that, I have been a pretty good girl about not going places and about wearing my mask.  I am feeling so much better, though, after 3 weeks of no treatments, though, that I am getting antsy.  This home-body actually wants to go somewhere.  If this keeps up, hopefully, I will not only feel better, but will have energy to get some things done.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Whew!  Well, it took a bit of a mess, but I got a reprieve from radiation this week.  I did go on Tuesday, before I got told to stop, but that is it. 

My white blood count dropped to 1.3 (1300) this week -- anything below 3000 is danger-level.  And I wasn't responding to some quick treatments to bring it up.  I guess after a couple of weeks of not keeping down food or water, my immune system screamed help. Dr. said, "No more radiation or chemo until we can get it back up."  I am NOT broken-hearted.  I want to be done with radiation, but I may not be.  When I get a little more stabilized, we will see where we are at and determine at that point if I still need the radiation, or if I can get the results I want with just the chemo.  Cross your fingers for me that I won't need anymore radiation.

The good news is that with this reprieve, I have only thrown up a few times this week and I am starting to eat occasionally.  Sometimes it even tastes good.  Hopefully, all of that will continue.  For food to not sound good to ME?  Well, that is new.

I have had a much better week.  I hate the mask I have to wear and I am not allowed to go to Church for a while, but today I drove to get the kids from school (the first time in about 3 weeks I have driven anywhere) and I did laundry today.  I cried doing the grateful to be feeling up to doing laundry.  Isn't that funny?  But, as I folded my families clothes I was incredibly grateful for the people who wear them and bless my life each day. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

I Know that Sunday WILL Come

I apologize for being redundant, but I just HAD to post this again on my blog.  In preparing for a Family Home Evening Lesson tonight, I was feeling lazy.  I wanted something meaningful, but not something that would take a long time to prepare.  I spent all day at the Dr's office again today getting rehydrated.  I know the talks were great in General Conference, but this was one conference I will get the most out of by reading the Ensign, as I spent most of the weekend sleeping or throwing up. 

Anyway, I remembered this YouTube clip I had posted last summer and as I watched it I cried and cried.  This last "Friday" for me has felt long and hard -- too hard.  At times I have wondered if I would come out of it or if it was worth it to keep fightting and hoping for Sunday. 

So this clip and the Finding Faith in Christ DVD with a testimony meeting was our lesson.  Maybe it is "lazy" prep, but it was sweet.

Sunday will come.  Sunday will come.  Sunday does come.  I know the Savior lives.  I know He loves me.  "I stand all amazed" at the grace given me each day.  At the beginning of so many days lately, the hours loom ahead and I wonder, "Can I really make it through this day?"  At the close of each day, I am so grateful for the people and things the Savior has blessed me with.  I am truly strengthened by angels each day.  Here on the earth and those on the other side whose presence is very real. 

I am grateful for beautiful music.  That is one of the things I did hear in General Conference this weekend.  Each song was for me -- sorry for any of you who think otherwise.  ;)  When the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang, How Firm a Foundation, tears started immediately.  And, that last verse - so long a favorite - holds a dear promise for me: 
"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I cannot, I will not, desert to his foes,
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, I'll never, no never,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake."

And, tonight, since it was Caleb's turn to pick the opening song in FHE, we sang it again (that is what he always picks -- so we sing it at least once a month in FHE). 

The sad truth is, now that I am pumped full of anti-nausea and pain meds and vitamins and minerals, I do have more hope than I had this weekend.  I need to learn how to have hope without those things, but they SURE DO make it easier.

Monday, March 29, 2010

On the Dark Side

Okay, I know it looks like I am headed off for some inter-galactic space mission.  But, I am not being loaded into a space shuttle in this picture.  That would be MUCH cooler.  It also may look like I am set to take a little siesta:  just kicked back, relaxed and ready to snooze.  That is not what is going on here, either.

This next picture gives a better view of the real story:
And, I may look like I am smiling; but it is only for the camera.  Meet Tomo -- that is what I call this lovely machine that has become my arch-enemy in the last week.  Meet the machine that I am supposed to be grateful for, but am really trying to decide if it is a blessing or a curse. 

Tomo is mean.  Tomo looks harmless.  Tomo looks kind of cool and space-agey.  Tomo seems friendly as I get to interact with Tomo while laying on a pillow and have my leg propped up comfortably.  There are even kind, compassionate, adorable people who push the buttons on Tomo to make him come to life.  But, as soon as these lovely people leave the room and Tomo comes to life, the REAL Tomo appears.  This is the Tomo that makes a clicking noise that makes you think of a sprinkler and a broken record stuck on the same pitch.  But that is not the worst of it.  Tomo even gets your stomach on his side.  So by the time you are finished, your stomach is a mass of twisted, churning gunk and your equilibrium decides to take a vacation.  By the time you get home (a short 25 minutes later) you are so violently ill that even water is a detestable sight.  And, getting things to stay in that stomach that is now on Tomo's side?  Impossible!  Water, soup, salad, juice, fruit -- Tomo is no respecter of food.  All of it has gone to the enemy's side.  Or, maybe it is not the fault of the food.  Maybe my taste-buds have gone to the dark side. 

I have decided that I HATE radiation.  This is supposed to be the "easy"-er kind.  This is supposed to be the kind of radiation that targets the tumors only and doesn't get any healthy tissue (or very little), allowing for a major reduction of all or most side effects.  Maybe I should be grateful --- maybe this IS good for radiation.  Just think.  It only took 6-7 hours at the Dr.'s on Friday to get re-hydrated and re-mineralized.  Maybe that is good for most people. 

Maybe I have something to look forward to in all of this:  maybe I will get super skinny and be able to fit back into all those old clothes. 

Hopefully, we can get this wrinkled out soon.  In the meantime, I am trying to look at the good side of Tomo -- what is that?  It does LOOK cool and since I have to see Tomo 5 days/week, by the end, I am determined to come out on top and TAME that beast! 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spatchcock Link

It is not a bad word, I promise............  :)

Check it out!
Simply Scrumptious

Here is the unveiling to a new blog I have been wanting to start (just for fun) on fast, yummy, cheap, (and hopefully -- MOSTLY) healthy meals. I welcome suggestions.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Can March Showers Bring April Flowers?

I know how the rhyme goes, "April showers brings May flowers", but we have had plenty of rain here lately and are ready for some flowers sooner than May.  As grateful as we are for the rain, it has felt a bit like living in Seattle lately.  Today, though, as I sit on the couch with the sliding glass door open, listening to the birds sing in the leafy tree tops, I am grateful for the sunshine that is here today.  We need both rain and sunshine to help us grow.  Our family has been reminded of this lately.

One reason that I have not been good at keeping up the blog the last few months is that I really haven't wanted to complain.  The cancer is growing again and we are in a pretty rough patch at the moment.  We were so thankful last week when the PET/CT scan showed no spreading of the cancer, but the 2 tumors we have been fighting since last summer are each 20 cm.  I have been in an incredible amount of pain on an almost daily basis and I have worried about how tough it would be on my kids go through this again - or still.

I am impressed, grateful and humbled by my children's and husband's courage and compassion through all of this.  They treat me like a "normal" mom, while yet watching out for me constantly.  Caleb is always there, not just willing to do what I ask, but jumping in and saying, "Mom, let me do that."  Emma is there with chatter to talk about her day, tell me about her book or just to be sunshine for us.  Rick has taken time off work, fixed dinners, shopped, cleaned, done laundry, run errands, slept on the other couch by me when I was in too much pain to sleep in the bed, and has made such an effort to be cheerful and playful with the kids when I know he has been worried sick at times. 

There have been too many moments in the last few weeks when I have cried, feeling completely inadequate as a mom and wife and person.  This is not the life I wanted.  I wanted to be the one to serve and help, not the one to be served.  Serving is such a part of our testimony of and love for the Savior.  I kept thinking that I don't know of any scriptures that say, "It is blessed to BE served."

Then, Caleb did some planting.  I love watching plants grow.  There is something about gardening (vegetable gardening) that just makes me so happy.  And Caleb loves it, too.  Thank goodness, because we wouldn't have anything growing this year if it wasn't for him.  Anyway, we have some plants growing; tiny little seedlings poking their heads up through the dirt.  And, I had an "a-ha" moment.  Plants need water/rain and sunshine.  They will not grow without it.  They cannot give it to themselves.  They cannot weed themselves.  They cannot even plant themselves.  We must take care of these little plants by giving them what they need so they will grow and "fill the measure of their creation."  Seeds must fight to break open and to push upward through the dirt to the light.  Lately, we have gotten more rain than I ever expected living in Arizona.  I am sure some of these little baby plants wanted to scream, "Enough!  I have had enough rain!  I don't need that much.  I don't need any more!  I can grow now with what I've gotten!  Make it stop!"  But, when the sun came out, they felt warmed and refreshed.

I am not saying that Heavenly Father "sent" the rain into my life.  I do not believe it.  We live in a very mortal world where bad things happen.  Sometimes bad things happen because of choices we make and they are consequences.  Sometimes bad things just happen.  But, we DO need that rain.  We cannot grow and become stronger without it.  We cannot have only sunshine.  We cannot have only rain.  We want to be like the Savior; we want to live with Him someday and to be worthy of all He has for us.  Yet, we don't want to sacrifice, be betrayed, be hurt, suffer, be humbled -- because it is hard!  How would we learn persistence, determination, courage and FAITH without moments that challenge us?  Without having a little "dirt" to fight through to get to the light?  Without "rain" that comes?

When the sunshine has come - and it has and does continue to come -- I feel so warmed.  I have such a great family, such wonderful supportive friends, and a Savior who continues to hold my hand so I can face the storms.  He walks with me, teaches me and has taught me that, alone, I can do nothing; with Him, I can do all things that are asked of me.  He gives me strength to handle and do more than I thought was possible.
A few weeks ago I was asked to introduce Brother Mark Mabry (Reflections of Christ) who was coming to speak to our stake Relief Society.  (see link) As I listened to him speak that night I again was touched to realize that, even as little as I have to give, if I am willing to give it to the Lord to use, He will find a way to increase my offering.  I still feel like what I have to give is a widow's mite compared to most others, so now I am learning to enjoy what others have to offer because it truly strengthens me.  I have been way too self-centered!

Here is a link to a medley of songs I love and it describes so much of what carries me through each day.  Hopefully, someday, my voice will feel like "mine" again after doing so much chemotherapy, but it was still a treat to sing this:  arranged and played by Brent Jorgensen.  Such a kind person (and talented)!  I am grateful for the Savior and for the ultimate Service He gave and that we must learn to accept.

As far as the cancer goes, to answer questions:
1.  I have a new Dr. I am working with whom I L-O-V-E so far.  He is running tests that I think should have been done 2 years ago.  He does the same chemo treatment, although, so far it has been easier to get through and they monitor me much better throughout the treatment.  Fewer side effects and I am already noticing a difference after 2 treatments.  He also does a few other things that I feel like may get to some of the root issues
2.  Rick and I meet with a Radiation Oncologist tomorrow to discuss a new(ish) form of Radiation called TomoRadiation that is supposed to target tumors more specifically -- not just blast an area with high amounts of radiation.  Hopefully, less side effects and it is supposed to be way more effective.  We will see what we think.
3.  It is great to have family here.  We have been spoiled and are grateful.  I am grateful that families are forever!
4.  Our ward has been amazing.  I miss Texas and all our friends (who we feel are family) in Round Rock,  and I never thought to find that kind of support here, but here it is.  We are constantly being told, "We are on stand-by." 

Thanks for the sunshine you all give our family.  We love you all!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Life is in the little things

Our life hasn't been super exciting lately - just a bunch of little things.

1. Loads of Tender Mercies. Example: Caleb's LaCrosse league canceled their next season due to small numbers, but I found another league for him that is bigger, better organized and practice is 7 minutes away (instead of 25) - during the last few days of the new season registration. May not seem like a big deal, but we have been trying to find somethings active for him for years, and now that he has found something he loves we didn't want him to have to stop.

2. Back to the Grind. Treatments, Homework, Bills, Homework, Scouts, Homework, Activity Days, Homework, Dr. appts, Homework, Treatments, Homework, Parent/Teacher Conferences, Homework, Music, Homework, Bills, Homework, Cleaning the House, Homework, Treatments, Dr. appts, Etc. Etc. You get the idea.... Can you tell that I can't wait for the summer part to get rid of the homework?

3. New Year's Goals. Our Stake President challenged us to read the Book of Mormon this year. We are doing it as a family, but this is the first time everyone in the family is really old enough to do it on their own individually. What a joy to see our children grab a hold of this challenge and to see their confidence grow. Emma has come to me several times already asking about things, leading to some great discussions -- how FUN!

4. Realizations each day about how great our life is. We have been blessed with so much! I am constantly aware of how mindful the Lord is of me and our little family. There is so much joy to be had every day. This week my Sunday School lesson will be on the Creation. In preparing for it, I am truly thankful for this beautiful world and for our Heavenly Father giving us a Savior providing us a way to come back to Him. I am grateful for my amazing body! It has been through so much and it continues to work. I am grateful for my Heavenly Father who gives me breath each day. One of my 3 chemos got changed in December and the new one makes me incredibly miserable afterwards. I just seem to finally feel like I am not exhausted by 8am when it is time for another round. The last few months have been physically very very rough for me in how I feel. I truly am grateful to be here! This world, even with all the wickedness and sorrow is so good and there are so many wonderful people and there is so much to experience. I am grateful for the experiences I get to have.

Christmas -- priceless

Christmas was fabulous. Our Christmas Day itself was quiet and wonderful. We didn't go anywhere, we were in our pajamas for most of the day and we enjoyed just being together. We had some amazing moments that had nothing to do with presents that were just pure joy. It all started because we had not gotten home early enough the night before to read the Christmas story from the Bible the way we usually do on Christmas Eve. Rick and I decided to put kids (and us) to bed and read the story in the morning. We may do this every year from now on. It was lovely. After the fun and laughter of stockings, we gathered by the tree and took turns reading different parts of the story. The kids each wanted to take a different part; I felt so fulfilled to see them so eager to share a part and to share their feelings and ask questions and give their insights.

Because I had just had chemo 3 days before and was feeling pretty cruddy, I had decided not to make cinnamon rolls for our Christmas breakfast this year; we were going to have big store-bought muffins instead. It is the only time I make cinnamon rolls during the year and they are big, fat, gooey, amazing and completely unhealthy, so the kids were bummed, but very understanding. Aunt Amanda surprised us with a big pan of them on Christmas Eve (very sneaky to ask if I had a good recipe since she didn't have any of her cookbooks here and wanted to make some for Christmas morning for HER family) -- I was so touched! I know that that particular recipe isn't the most economical time-wise or ingredient-wise. Anyway, we had put them in the oven before our story and they weren't done yet so we had time to wait.

We decided to sit in a circle and go around and tell each other why we loved each other. I will not say what everyone said as it is so personal, but I will tell you this: 11-year-old boys can surprise you at times with their sensitivity. Caleb's comment was probably the best Christmas present I received that day. I will never ever forget it.

Then, Rick and I were in the other room talking and we heard the best thing ever. I am sorry not to have pictures on here -- I haven't downloaded them yet -- but it was such a present. Caleb had gotten out his french horn and he and Emma were playing a duet of Jingle Bells. Emma was on the piano. Rick and I melted! To see them think of that on their own and have such fun doing it together was a great memory! After they put up with pictures and videotaping, they made me get my flute out and join them.

Our morning was a MasterCard commercial -- definitely priceless!!!!